10 December 2008

Just follow the road

We got a new computer screen installed recently. Along with new GPS software.

I hate it. First off, few of the streets are labelled with their names at any sort of usable zoom level. That means if I don’t know the precise location of one of the several thousand streets in Canberra, I can no longer navigate the map to centre on the suburb and hunt around until I find the street. I can zoom to the highest magnification (when most (but not all) of the street names are displayed) but that takes a lot of scrolling, kind of like viewing an art gallery in postage stamp sized chunks.

Or I can stop under a streetlight and check the street directory.

The only good feature of the new system is that house numbers and block boundaries are displayed on the map. I no longer have to get out of the cab and hunt around with a torch to find house numbers obscured by foliage, rotted away or eaten by possums - I can glance at the map and find my exact destination.

The big selling point of the new system is that it includes driving directions. The old system was just a map, and drivers had to find their own route. No great problem - any driver with a bit of experience soon gets to know where all the suburbs are and the best ways between them.

When the new system was installed, I gave the routing software a try, and quickly discovered that, although it would get me to the destination, it must have been optimised for taxidrivers, because it would choose the longest plausible route between two destinations.

Or worse. The screenshot above is a good example of the idiot system. My car is marked by the red dot, and I’m coming up to a T intersection on Marconi Crescent. I’m instructed to turn left, follow Marconi Crescent looping north, turn left down Drakeford Drive and then right onto the cross street (which is O’Halloran Circuit, by the way).

A child could spot the best and shortest route. Go to Marconi Crescent, turn right, and right again onto the cross street, eliminating that wasteful loop north.

So no, I’m not a fan of the new system.

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