Where Was I?

I was going to blog about my Dad today, but realised that there were a couple of key facts that I forgot to check with my Mum. Maybe another day.

There was a debate on Radio 2 at lunchtime today about “Which is better – GPS or using maps?”. Personally I don’t see the point of debating it, just carry on using whichever you personally prefer, but it was interesting that the pro-map lobby focussed on what was wrong with GPS, and the pro-GPS lobby focussed on what’s great about it – neither side really said anything for or against map usage. I thought the best comment came from survival expert Ray Mears, who said that GPS is a great tool, but it isn’t a substitute for common sense or for being able to use a map and compass.

As most readers will know, I’m a devotee of TomTom Navigator, which I use in my car to give me spoken directions to wherever I’m going: I’ve had occasional problems with it, but most of those have been “operator error” rather than an actual problem with the device, and overall it’s definitely been a plus in the year I’ve been using it. People who argued against it on the radio said that it stops driver and passenger talking to each other: I don’t see why, but it also saves drivers who don’t have a passenger from trying to read maps and drive at the same time.

The danger with GPS is that people feel encouraged to set out in the wild places without map and compass, or without the ability to use them, confident in the knowledge that their GPS will get them back safely. Then the GPS goes wrong, or the batteries go flat, and they’re in trouble. It’s been known for people to be following their GPS so avidly that they walk right off a cliff – that seems too daft to be true, but tragically a geocacher in America died just that way only last weekend.

So there’s my five pence worth, if you’re interested: Refunds available on receipt of a first class stamp!

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