Thursday, December 03, 2009

Does GPS go bad????? all my readers probably know...I drive a lot for a LOT. I think back to my early years as a rep (pre-GPS) and wonder how I'm still alive today sometimes. I mean...the number of times I was looking at printed directions or a map while driving.... I get chills when I think about it now!

3 or 4 years ago I decided I wanted GPS finally. I asked for Christmas, but Santa didn't grant my wish that year. Someone in my office mentioned that for about $100 I could buy a software program for my laptop, that came with a little USB GPS adapter. When working, it would allow my laptop to give me turn by turn directions. I liked how affordable this option was and jumped at it. And it worked okay most of the time. But occasionally the GPS would lose signal, or the computer would lose it, and it would take a while and some rebooting to get it working. Not exactly convenient or safe while driving. I'd had a few incidents that were frustrating but not critical. Then one day when driving between Philly and Baltimore it cut out at a critical part of my drive..and got me seriously seriously lost. I decided that was it. I got home that night and promptly logged onto and ordered my beloved Garmin c340. It was the same model the others in the office had been getting in recent months, and the cheapest Garmin you could buy that would actually tell you the name of the street rather than just saying to turn in so many feet.

Thus began my LOVE of the GPS. If you've been in my car you've probably noticed its on most of the time. Not only does it help me find my way to locations I've not been to before, but I also like it when going places I have been - as it predicts arrival time. This means I know if I have time for that extra bathroom break or starbucks stop. And allows me to let the person I'm meeting know if I'm going to be late due to traffic issues.

Now...for around the past 12 months or so I'd been getting the friendly reminder from my Garmin periodically that my maps needed to be updated. At the time I wasn't doing my driving job, and didn't feel like I really needed to fork over the $$ for the map updates. But when I went back to work, and to a job that was going to require LOTS of driving to new places, I got my update and applied it the Garmin. I decided the Garmin would live in the car in Hartford permanently since its not like I really need it in the car in Ilinois, and if I did, we could just take mom's care that now has GPS. Plus I've got the iPhone when in a pinch.

So now to my question....Does GPS go bad??? I've noticed since applying my map update ... some funny things happening on my Garmin. For instance, its stopped showing me bodies of water or parks for the most part. There used to be blue spots for water and green spots for parks. Pretty much don't see those anymore, even when driving across rather large rivers. It did pick up the water between CT and Long Island the day I took the ferry down to the island..but that was the first time its shown me a body of water since my update.

Its also giving me odd directions. For instance, yesterday I stopped at starbucks in Farmington, CT. I knew that I typically pulled out of the parking lot and turned left to easily get back on I-84 - I've done it several times. Yesterday my trusty Garmin was telling me to turn right. I didn't look at the follow up directions and just assumed for my ultimate destination garmin was taking me on a more direct route. Turns out, it was taking me 1 mile down the road to turn around and go back, passing starbucks, and get on the interstate where I normally did. Basically taking me out of my way by 2 miles altogether for no reason. I've seen several instances like this over the past few months.

Another I'm heading to a new place. I'm going to get on I-84, and I know I am going to want CT 9 eventually. As I'm approaching the I-84 exit, I see a sign on the sign of the road that says "To CT 9" and has an arrow, but my GPS is telling me to go straight onto I-84. I follow the GPS, and then it tells me to take the exit to CT 9. Problem is....the onramp doesn't actually end before the exit ramp to CT 9. And the on ramp is coming in on the left while the exit is on the right. There's no way to MAKE the exit its telling me to make. Again...I've had several instances like this of late.

So now I'm thinking...something has just gone terribly terribly wrong with my GPS. I'm wondering if they have a short lifespan and its just time for me to get a new one. I suppose thats not a horrible thing as prices have come down dramatically from when I first got my Garmin...but it still seems weird. I remember a news story a while ago about satellites starting to fail, with no places to replace them so directions might get slightly less accurate...but I don't see why that would make the GPS send me on the wrong roads or in the wrong directions on a road just to make me back track.....

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