You Are Here…ish

I guess they should have stuck with iOS 5th edition. BANG! ZOOM! ETC! And thus I have exhausted my knowledge of Dungeons and/ or Dragons. Wait, one more. Maybe they should have stuck with the GPS… GRAPH PAPER SYST[bursts into flames, explodes forever]

Big thanks to my pal, Joseph Scrimshaw, for inspiring this comic with a tweet. Speaking of ScrimTweets, once on a boat Joseph made me laugh so hard the boat sank.

I am an Apple fanboy, but not an Apple apologist. When they screw up, I am the first to admit it. With their new Google Maps replacement app, Apple certainly screwed the pooch, humped the pumpkin and hosed the Brony in the grandest fashion. I was really looking forward to a turn by turn directions situation that let me yell my desired destination at Siri, but the press has been so bad and the user reactions so negative that I haven’t even opened the Maps app, yet.

For now I am sticking with the Google Maps web App for every day map-looking-both-up-and-at and Navigon for in-car GPS. Navigon is really a fantastic app and the price has been cut by over 50% since it was first offered. If you need a true GPS unit replacement app, you can’t really go wrong for $40. I especially love how they let you download only the states you plan to drive in so you don’t have to keep gb’s of map data on your phone. The interface is easy to read, the voice synth is clear (and often humorous with pronunciations), the maps are up to date and it works offline/sans cell data connection. It has saved my ass at least a dozen times.

COMMENTERS: Give me your GPS, Google Maps, Apple Maps related horror stories. Was the map the cause or the cure of your strife? The first year I went to San Diego Comicon, I stayed in an extended stay motel about 35 minutes away. One night I took a cab back to the motel. About 5 minutes in I told the driver I thought she was going the wrong way. She assured me all was well and she had been there before. 15 minutes in I said, “I’ve never seen any of this before. Are you sure?” Again, she was positive we were A-OK. I pulled out my phone and plotted the Convention Center, the motel and our current location, a tiny blue dot moving increasingly further and further away from and in the opposite direction of the red dot that represented my air mattress and suitcases. She stared at it a bit then finally agreed to turn around. I agreed (without really opening it up for debate) that I would not be paying for all of the time and miles in which she drove me wherever the hell she thought I wanted to go.

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  1. My nav system once led me through the woods on a horse trail that looked like it inspired a Grimm fairy tale. The trail was overgrown, hugged the edge of a cliff, and I was driving out there in the middle of the night. It was supposed to be taking me to the State Park camping cabins on the other side of Nightmare forest.

  2. I once found myself riding on a sandy track through a desert in Nevada on a Honda Goldwing because I hadn't realised when I'd plotted the route on my GPS that Americans consider things to be roads that have no right to come close to that classification. It was my first time in the States and I was thankful for not dying alone with no water 100 miles from anything that passed as civilisation.

    My wife was helping with a guitar camp where 5 people turned up late, each one was in a taxi whose driver was using a Tom Tom and the post code had taken them to a village 16 miles away rather than the University campus in the middle of the city.

  3. On vacation recently my wife missed our exit so we had to rely on the iPhone. It kept trying to direct us back to the closed bridge that we obviously couldn't drive across, so I finally had to bust out my 1337 map-reading skills, scroll around on that tiny little screen and figure out how to manage to get around the damn thing myself.

  4. I'm not sure how good Apple's data is going to be able get without them hiring a fleet of cars to drive down every street in the world but right now their map data is about the same place Google's was in 2005. A bit better, but not much. Apparently all the improvements Google made in the last seven years are proprietary.

    That said, so far all the places I've needed to get in the Dallas area had good data, though a friend in the area ended up about two miles away from a restaurant at which we were meeting.

    The app itself is a beautiful thing, but I'm keeping MapQuest installed, just in case.

  5. I once was driving myself and a friend of mine out into the middle of nowhere Kansas, following my iPhone's GPS app (which used only Bing maps). We were trying to get to a nice dark place to do some astronomical observing. It was very dark, I couldn't see very well where I was going, and many of the roads around there were little more than dirt paths, anyway. The road which this app decided to take me down turned out not to be a road at all, but actually just a path straight into someone's backyard, where my tiny underpowered car promptly got stuck in the mud.

    It turns out the people who owned said backyard were really quite friendly and were able to help me get un-stuck and on my way pretty quickly.

  6. Went on a road trip down to Portland, OR cause it was a nice day and we wanted to be nerds and spend part of it in Powell's books. We set our in phone gps to remember where the car was parked and after getting books and successfully returning them to the car we set off to roam the streets like 80% of the population of Portland apparently does. A few hours later with the sun setting we opened the GPS and started following it back to the car, untill in the middle of a block it recalculated the route and told us to turn around. We turned around and a few steps later it recalculated and told us to turn back around. We stood confused as to how there was literally no correct way according to the GPS, then decided to say screw it and just walked straight for a half dozen blocks until the GPS stopped recalculating and stuck to a single route that actually got us back to the car.

  7. Oh god, Joel, your comic-con cab horror story reminded me of trying to find the extended stay in the first place, after we picked you up from the airport, and my (brand new the day before) android phone (the first one I ever owned) was nearly dead and I hadn't thought about GPS at ALL up until that point – your iPhone's maps saved the day at that point (once we convinced it that we were in California and not Texas).

  8. Somehow, on the way back from picking my youngest brother up from a downtown jail in San Diego (Something incredibly stupid took place, but they decided ot just release someplace he had never been) and trying to get back to Palm Springs, the GPS took us off the freeway into some Deliverance looking back woods that I didn't even know California still had. It was four in the morning, This wasn't the lonely mountain roads we had known about and experienced for years, this seemed like some kind of other dimensional BS that none of us felt adequate to deal with. We managed to find our way out eventually and headed back to the 15 freeway.
    I have also lived several places, places that have existed for years, that GPS, google maps, and anything else refuse to acknowledge.

  9. I haven't used the new map system so much as used the new gps system. I have managed to get everywhere I was needing to go.

    I do miss the interlocking grid of properties that lets you know that such and such square SHOULD belong to such and such address, but that is it. I so far don't get where all the hate is coming from.

  10. Well the maps work great for Texas! So much so that when I wanted to get across the street in Pennsylvania it decided it was time for a road trip down to Texas so I could cross the street down there.

  11. We went on a road trip through the Deep South recently, and the iOS 5 maps sent us through the sketchiest part of Birmingham. It actually told us to get off the freeway and drive through block after block of boarded up houses and other sketchy sights. Apparently our destination was relatively close to the freeway, and we could have stayed on that for several miles. But no, I preferred to rely solely on the map and for some reason my boyfriend (who had actually lived in Birmingham) trusted me.

  12. My parents had their car break down in Italy and when they called for service they were told that they must have the address wrong, because no such street existed (thanks Google Maps). Luckily the tow truck driver was willing to look with his actual eyes and find them and the amazing invisible street.

    We use paper maps, a family member gave us their old GPS but it doesn't work great, and is probably out of date. It is "fun" driving to Calgary because there is so many new developments every year that aren't on our maps. And Calgary is divided in 4 sections, so has multiples of the numbered streets so if you aren't careful you can drive to the wrong section of town. I understand why people like the numbered street systems for navigation, but I like street names because they are easier to remember….streets with numbers fly right out of my head.

    • I know it sounds archaic, but I consider map reading a skill…GPS not so much. That being said, the calculator is my crutch, while my husband is great at doing math calculations in his head….not BBT kind of stuff, but it's surprising how many people can't calculate a tip on a cheque.

      • Give him this simple formula: figure ten percent of the total bill. Double the result. Now add or subtract a few points based on service. Sixty percent of the time, it works EVERY TIME.

    • I got fed up with my husband's Android repeatedly sending me to some ass-end of nowhere industrial area instead of the Walmart I was trying to find (which, it ended up, was a few blocks away), and then dying because it has a battery life of like an hour. Needed the Walmart to replace the in-car charger; needed the charger to power the Android; needed the Android to find the Walmart.


      When I finally did get to the bloody Walmart I replaced the stupid bloody Android with a phone book and a paper map. Cost me $9.50. No, it doesn't tell me when my turns are coming up, but I'm not an idiot; I can remember "Go right on Midland; should be the next main road after Gardiner" pretty easily.

      The Android is a hell of a toy but Jesus fuck, just trying to make a phone call on it that involves pushing buttons for menu options on it (let alone when the battery is low) is bloody ridiculous. My Nokia Shorty doesn't have an accelerometer or a GPS but at least I don't need to memorize where all the pay phones around town are! Stupid cell phones with an hour of off-charger life… *Grumblemoanbitch*

      • You.. do realize that there are a number of different types of phone that use the Android operating system and not all of them have crap battery life or are lacking a normal dialing keypad, right?

        • Ah yes, I do vaguely remember something about that from trying to buy the charger. XD It's an HTC… Something. With a micro-USB charger port.

          You know, I really should know better than to refer to things by their operating systems instead of what they actually are, but after literally decades of phones that, you know, were *phones* *waves hands vaguely in air* that, sure, maybe took pictures too (some of them even really nice pics) or even videos, but whose primary function was voice communication with other people, we've just gotten into the habit of referring to this one as "The Android." What it does is just too different from what a regular cell phone does.

          Which still makes us idiots for referring to it by its OS instead of model, I admit. 🙂

          I'm actually hoping to find an Android-running phone of my own that has both a decent-sized screen AND a keyboard with < > brackets, and a question mark, that I do not have to flip to an alternate screen to get to. Think I'm pretty much going to have to get into a mini-laptop or a tablet, though, because why use a super phone to half-ass html online when what I reallly want is a phone with some kind of navigation system, and also a fully-functional laptop that is small enough to be practical to haul around.

          Weirdly, it reminds me of when we bought a Sidekick. We were trying to have one vehicle act as both a car for cheap and comfortable everyday running around, AND as a utility vehicle that could haul a trailer and go off-road and stuff. Ends up that it was much more practical to simply buy both a car and a pickup. I think I'm there with phones, now.

          The HTC Whatever really does have an astonishingly short battery life, though. Seriously, what the hell is the point of a cell phone if you can only have it not plugged into a wall outlet somewhere for a maximum of about 40-60 minutes before you can't make calls with it anymore? Doesn't that completely remove the point of having some kind of a portable cellular telephone in the first place? O_o

  13. One time in san Francisco, after watching my brother's opera rehersal (it was Gotterdammerung), my parents and I were wandering downtown SF around the Opera House, getting hungry and cranky, I pulled out my Droid2 phone (my nuclear option for resolving arguements), opened Google Maps, and got walking directions to this one seafood grill place none of us heard of, but had a bunch of old photos of actors on the walls. Not an exciting story, but just a case of using the Internet to solve a pointless arguement, as God intended it.

  14. One time i was driving a friend home from college and the second we crossed the halfway point of the Delaware river and legally entered New Jersey my gps decided it would flip to negative and have a black background until i made it back to PA a few hours later….I like to think it was trying to tell me a profound truth, then again i also wished it had said Abandon All Hope…..

  15. A couple of years ago some college friends were back in town and called me for an emergency pickup. They'd gotten a flat, their spare was flat from lack of use, and GPS said the nearest gas station was miles away. Somehow this passed my brain's BS-meter as well and I picked them up. When we got to the station we realized it had its wired crossed and instead of directing us to a place near their current location it had looked for one near the spot we'd been hiking at the previous day. That explains why it didn't know of any gas stations in Selwood. They were embarassed, I had a big hearty laugh and said "I got an adventure when this would have been an otherwise boting afternoon."

    It was at that point where I dreamed up how to end a comedy movie. Have the characters in a car, wrestling with the GPS, and while distracted they drive off a cliff. As the car's doing its unusually-silend fall Blues Brothers style, and they stare in shocked horror, the last word we hear is the GPS: "recalculating."

  16. We were in Normandy, France when I found out that my GPS-enabled nav-radio that had maps for France only included highways (of which that particular part of Normandy had 1 in total). Wasn't that much of an issue as I had GPS coördinates for the castle we were headed for anyway. Also, we bought an old-fashioned map and used the GPS-compass to navigate in a more old-fashioned sense. Until the entire TFT-screen decided to give up during that same vacation.

    Not a horror story per sé, though, as we started taking notes ON the map (like in a pirate map "Here be hunters" when we saw hunters near the coast, etc) and that was real fun. It's now a vacation tradition.

  17. My husband was running his first marathon in Albany last year. I'd found a wonderful site that someone had made with turn by turn directions to good viewing places for cheering runners on along the route. I printed that up and studied it before going to Albany. But my husband talked me into using his new droid with it's awesome GPS mapping that I had never even looked at before. I typed in the park that was going to be my first stop, and the nice British lady brought me there with no problems. Then I entered the second stop I wanted to make, Lions Park, and started on my way. I was going the opposite direction I'd seen the runners going, but they were on a bike path, so it took me about 15 minutes to decide that this really wasn't right and I should pull over and check things out. That's when I realized the map was sending me to Lions Stadium – IN DETROIT. Whooops. Good thing I caught that in time, right?

    So I look up the street address for where I want to be, put that into the map program and start driving pretty fast because I don't want to miss being a one woman cheering section. By now I'm pretty twisted around and not sure of where I am, so I don't question it enough when I get directed to get on the New York Thruway. Until I pass through the tollbooth and the voice chimes out "Continue on this road for 277 miles". Yeah, I'm still being directed to Detroit, and it's over 10 miles to the next exit where I can turn around.

    Thankfully, I got things sorted out and saw him at the halfway point of race, but there was a lot of cursing and crying and speeds that should have gotten me arrested before then.

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