As I may just possibly have mentioned before, I take part every year in a fishing match along with a bunch of my former colleagues from my years with Barclays Bank Trust Company. It is referred to with increasing inaccuracy as the “Barclays Bank Inter-District Sea Angling Competition” because I think that there aren’t now more than one or two of the forty or so participants who actually work for the Bank!
That, however, is NOT what this piece is about but thinking about the forthcoming event and a recent experience together gave me the idea.
Nearly three years ago now I travelled with a friend to the Barclays event which that year was, for a change, not held in Dover but on the Dorset coast at Swanage. We set out ludicrously early on the Thursday (Friday is match day) because we had a boat booked for some fun fishing in Poole Harbour at about 8am.
Because it was dark, an unfamiliar destination and he knew that I would be utterly useless as a navigator at 4am my friend had programmed the route into his latest piece of technological wizardry – his Satellite Navigation system.
It was wonderful!
He had subscribed to a “live update” system which warned him of recent accidents, roadworks and other delays and even had his mobile phone hooked up to it so that it acted as a “hands free” device whenever any of the rest of our party called to check on our progress.
As a result we whizzed down to our agreed carpark rendezvous without a hitch and with time to spare for a nice fried breakfast although he did lose that shortly after we got out of the harbour and stopped to fish in the open sea!
Actually I didn’t help much there because he asked in his misery on the boat if we knew any cures for seasickness and I imparted Spike Milligan’s advice on that matter – “Sit under a tree”!
But I digress (as I always do)!
I was so impressed by the device that a couple of months later I bought one – just a basic model without automatic updates and until quite recently we got along fine! I say “we” because it speaks to me in a voice that sounds like one of Radio 2’s Traffic reporters and because of that I think of it as a little person shut up in the box behind the map screen.
Incidentally I REALLY wanted one that could be altered to use the voice and grammatical usage of Yoda from Star Wars!
“Mmmmmm! In 200 feet turn left you must!” would have been fun but I suppose could have caused problems from having to concentrate too hard on the key words.
Anyway, apart from the odd clash when “She” gave a different verbal instruction to that given by my human navigator I was reasonably happy to follow the orders given on the grounds that I had entered the destination correctly and we would, therefore, almost certainly get there eventually!
The problems really began a few weeks ago when we visited Younger Daughter in Carlisle! She has moved house recently and so we entered that City along a different road to the one we had got used to using. I don’t know if there was a slight loss of signal but suddenly the voice commanded “Turn left now” with the map screen still showing a hundred yards or so to the turning. So I didn’t “turn left now” but I should have done because that WAS the turning I wanted.
As is usual when the human driver disobeys her, she started to sound a little flustered and began repeating “Recalculating!” in a way that seemed to have just a hint of panic in it. Unfortunately when she did recalculate I was already driving past the next turning she wanted me to take so she recalculated AGAIN and tried to take me through the goods entrance of Carlisle Railway Station.
And at that point I turned off the whole device, took what felt like the correct turns and a couple of minutes later pulled up at my destination!
I used “Her” again when driving to the interview for my new job because it was in a completely unfamiliar area and while she got me there without mishap I got the completely ludicrous feeling that she was still sulking over her failure in Carlisle and looking for a way to repay me for switching her off in that way!
So when I set off on Monday for my first day at the new place and entered the postcode from my “favourites” folder, I wasn’t too surprised that she tried to divert me back to the A1/A14 route when I elected for the “cross-country” route. As I got closer, however, she was STILL trying to get me to turn back and head for main roads and I again got so annoyed with her “recalculating” that I swore at her and switched her off.
I got to the new place with a few minutes to spare and switched her on again to give her a good talking-to and noticed that the purple line on the map seemed to be still trying to divert me even though I had actually arrived!
It turns out that I hadn’t saved the new place in “favourites” at all!
The postcode I had entered was in fact that for the company I was “temping” for in the summer and I swear I heard a little feminine snigger come out of the speaker when I realised!
As we say in the IT business “If the Hardware is working and the Software is working, then it must be the Liveware that’s wrong!”
I just hope she’ll accept my apology!