I had a Christmas card from my neighbours yesterday.

It’s one of the “Eric the Penguin” ones, and shows Eric and his penguin pal in a car, on top of a snow-covered hill, with other snow-covered hills all around. Penguin pal asks, “how’s that new Satellite Navigation System going?” “Great,” replies Eric, “we’re just going down Barnsley High Street!”

While transferring all my software onto the new PDA, I took the opportunity to upgrade to the latest version of TomTom, the talking satnav software. The maps are certainly better – although I spotted one error this morning1 – but there were a lot of user-selectable options in the old version which seem to have been left out of this one in the name of simplicity. There’s a menu of commands which you can bring up, and you used to be able to change the order they appeared, so all the commonly used ones were on the first page, and the ones you only use once in a blue moon are hidden away somewhere. Now, unless there’s a menu of user commands that I haven’t found yet, you’re stuck with what they give you.

I think I know why they’ve done it – as satnav has been taken up by more and more people, reducing the amount of user choice reduces the chance for less skilled users to foul things up2, and the lack of a few choices is never going to outweigh the advantages of up-to-date mapping, navigation-by-postcode and a choice of formats for Lat/Long input3. Of course I may yet discover an options menu that’s been hidden so far, but if not, I guess I’ll get used to it. I just don’t think that “having to get used to it” should be a feature of what’s supposed to be an upgrade.

Fing Wot I Learned Today4: If you have hot chocklit, then forget to rinse your mug, and have coffee…the resulting concoction is rather yummy!

1 It thinks South View Road is called Compton Road. I’ve no idea why – in the last forty years that road’s only ever been known as South View Road.
2 It’s the same as why Microsoft Windoze is intensely annoying to most people with a mental age higher than six5
3 If you wanted to enter a position into old TomTom in Lat/Long format, it had to be in degree – minutes – seconds format: New TomTom allows DMS, or degrees and decimal degrees, or degrees, minutes and decimal minutes. Since this latter format is the one invariably quoted in geocaching, the choice is more useful than you think.
4 © Maris Piper
5 Sorry John!

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