Saturday, September 16, 2006

All Praise Good King Lud

Towards the end of December, a New Age will begin in the Bronze household.

Where once there was lamentation, there will be laughter.
Where once there was woe, there shall be woo hooing.
Where once there were tears, there will be tremendous testimonies of titillation.

Perhaps not.

But things will be on the up, because this Christmas I am getting a GPS.

GPS, for those three or four people on the net less technologically literate than me, stands for Germanic Parathyroid Salamander... or something like that. To be honest, I don't care and I can't remember. It's a little black box kind of thing that you stick in your car and
It
Stops
You
Getting
Lost

Dead set.

Apparently it talks to you and says "In three hundred metres, turn left."
And then in three hundred metres (or thereabouts) you turn left (or a similar direction) and after a few more iterations, voila, you get to where you wanted to go.

Seriously, this thing should pay for itself in petrol, valproate and red wine in about a week. No more ringing up Benendict eighty minutes after I am meant to have arrived, asking him if his house is before or after the limestone quarry. No more frenzied shrieking down the phone to Sarah, where I explain that if I knew where I was I wouldn't be lost. No more of that corrosive feeling of self-loathing where you realise you've driven past the same ramshackle house three times, and now the local amphetamine dealers, never the most stable of men, are having their paranoid suspicions confirmed and are sitting inside cleaning weapons.

Behold, a shining world is come.

Well, almost. There are still a few problems. A machine that tells me how to get from one place to another by telling me when and in what direction to turn is going to run into some problems. I can imagine a monologue, spoken in that oddly modulated, calm voice computer things have:

In three hundred metres turn left onto Lovecraft Street.

In one hundred metres turn left.

Turn left now - left I said.

You have turned right. We will attempt to perfom a U-turn and turn back the way you came. In two hundred metres, turn left.

In one hundred metres turn left.

Turn left now - no, your other left - you have turned right.

Please take the next available right turn. That is the side of the car in which you are sitting.

Turn right in one hundred metres.

Turn right n- Oh my Lord. What is wrong with you? Stone the crows*, I can't stand any more of this crap -

And two white-gloved hands will emerge from the sides of the machine, on the end of robot extensor arms, and grab the steering wheel, having first robo-slapped me into unconsiousness. And depending on how intelligent the machine is, I will either regain consciousness just as I pull into Toby's place, or wake up, bound and gagged, in the remote limestone quarry I spoke of earlier.

Not that a GPS is the be all and end all, anyway. It's always got me how modern technology, while it comes up with some really useful ideas, doesn't seem to apply them in what would seem to be the areas of greatest need. A GPS, for example, that tells you how to find your way around the city is one thing. A GPS that could tell you what to do with your life, or give you step by step instructions on how to break up with someone who was making you miserable ("In one hundred seconds we will dial psychokitten's number. Dialling number now...")... that would be good.

And those things where you press a button on the thing and the other thing makes a noise so you know where it is. Like with the cordless phone, where you press a number on the main thing and the other bits make that chirp noise and you can say "Ah, must have left the handset in the lounge" or "Must have left the handset in the study" or "Of course, now I remember, I left the handset face down in the pile of clothes and crockery hidden behind the door of my niece's bathroom".

PCTT, or "pressy chirpy thing technology" as we in the industry call it, has many promising potential applications. We've all experienced the hours of wasted time searching for a missing sexual partner. Wouldn't things be a lot easier if you could just "press and chirp" to find him/her/it/them? And how about a job that didn't treat you like a low-status bilby? Wouldn't it be simpler if you could just walk down the street, pressing your PCT and waiting for the chirp? And remote controls that had controls so you could make adjustments to other people: "Hmmm, nice, but a little more manliness...". And so on.

Anyway. That's the problem with people who design all this stuff. They don't understand people's real needs in the real world. Anyway, I have to go off to sleep, and from what I can remember the bedroom is first left, right, then left again. If I leave now I should get there by twelve.

Thanks for listening,
John
*Australian made for Australian conditions

5 Comments:

Blogger tumblewords said...

So glad to have found your place with no GPS. I surfed and here you are. Yahooo!

8:22 AM  
Blogger Niamh Sage said...

Don't joke, it really does get a little agitated if you go in the wrong direction! Arni's family have one, and if you go straight when you should have turned, it has a little hissy fit and says, "Probeer om te draaien! Probeer om te draaien!" ("Danger, danger Will Robinson! Try to turn around!") until you either do so, or it figures out a new map that takes into account your mistake.

That was until it got stolen by a !@#$%! on the day of the wedding, anyway. I'm sure the new one isn't quite so personable.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

If you get TomTom I bet you use the sultry pommie chick voice.
It seemed very patient when I tried it out the other day, but it doesn't recognise
addresses very well. I do like it trying to work out which direct you go in.
The Pommie chick voice lasted about 10 minutes for me....

Benedict

10:51 PM  
Blogger Niamh Sage said...

Well you could always try the Dutch guy, who sounds like a cross between a radio announcer and air traffic controller...but that probably wouldn't be much use if you don't spreek Nederlands.

*futngph* - Ia! Ia! Cthulhu futngph!

Naaa, doesn't have the same ring to it...

2:19 AM  
Blogger Juanita J. Sanchez said...

I can't believe my eyes! Somebody else remembers Will Robinson and all the DANGER, DANGER he got himself into. Best of luck with your GPS. If it doesn't work out, maybe you should just stay in your own neighborhood from here on out. That's what I do.

3:23 AM  

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