As Robyn and I were driving to the mall to visit the after Christmas Sales, I discovered that I didn’t exactly know where the mall was. We were in a city (San Diego) we didn’t frequent often and although I had been to Horton plaza hundreds of times when we installed the parking equipment in the project (that was 15 years ago and it has long since been replaced) So as we neared the town, I was fumbling with my new Blackberry to call up a map of the area and pick an offramp. R started to chuckle and pushed a button the dash of her new ride.

A map appeared showing our location, to the inch, and the surrounding streets and buildings. Wait until the freeway ends, turn right on Broadway and you were there.  That was the easy part.

However she had never used the GPS on her new car to actually give her directions to a particular location. I saw my opening and went for it.  "Tell you what, why don’t you go in and shop and I’ll meet you in half an hour. I’ll program this sucker to take us home."

Actually it wasn’t too hard, after I figured out how to turn it on. It even told me that I was not on a "digitized" street and the process would begin when got on one.

After shopping we got back to the car with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas Morning. We were actually going to use this new toy.

Sure enough it worked perfectly.  A kindly but forceful female voice telling us every turn to make, distances, and the like. There was one minor problem — the last three miles were different than our normal route. We liked to take the freeway and it took us over surface streets. I expected to be berated by the machine for not taking the correct off ramp.

However, as soon as we missed the turn, the thing went into a "recomputing" mode and in a few seconds had a new route programmed in that took us home the preferred way. Sorry, but I was impressed.  I have no clue how all this works but it works very VERY well.

I have a friend who believes that the person who invented this program lives next door to him. They way it takes him from his house to work, down back streets and using alleys, would be, he says, impossible to know if they didn’t drive the route each day.

I know, I know, this stuff is old hat to most of you, but to this old dog, its a new toy, and a fun one, too.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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