Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

Just For Fun!

June 22nd, 2010 by MDob

Those of you who are in a serious mood should skip today’s blog. I just can’t seem to get my motor started this week and have been looking for some inspiration. Unfortunately, I found it in the wrong place. I blame Father’s Day!

On Father’s Day, I received two t-shirts. Now, since I spend most of my life dressed in t-shirts and shorts, this was a good choice for a present. However, my grandbabies decided that I needed an “Old Guys Rule” logo on one of the shirts. Even worse, it has a guy with a white beard and my sun hat loafing in a hammock (no, I don’t own or use one). “Old Guy”, when did that happen?

The second T-shirt was from one of my sons, who once worked for MapInfo, but obviously does not read this blog. He gave me a Google Maps T-shirt, with a Google map marker on it followed by the words “I am here”. Well, where else would I be? Of course, I will wear both t-shirts with great pride!

Now for something completely silly, but of vital importance.

I discovered theoatmeal.com earlier this week and have been laughing ever since. While visiting theoatmeal, I discovered a link to a blog at mingle2 and created the following piece after having been spurred on by reading “How to tell if you cat is plotting to kill you.”

Generally, I am not one for conspiracy theories, although I would like to know the real story of the undercooked fifteen million pounds of SpaghettiO’s. My buddy Bob, who knows about everything has told me that the SpaghettiO’s reportedly contained alien life forms who were planning to invade and take over Wal-mart’s operations.

However, on a more serious note, the evidence is mounting that your Online Map Provider is planning to kill you, or at least set you up for an assasination attempt. The vendetta may be the result of your having sent in too many map corrections, supplying false map corrections (as a test, of course), or just criticizing their maps and routes. Guess these three reasons pretty much capture the entire population of the world and that is why this story is so important.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but this is serious stuff. Everyday, the press seems to be full of ample evidence that the companies providing online routes and route guidance are actually not in the mapping or the navigation business. Instead, they are the advance agents of a ruthless alien invasion dedicated to wiping out humanity. Yep, it is likely the same aliens behind the SpaghettiO’s covert invasion force (if hiding your invasion forces in cans of SpaghettiO’s isn’t being covert, I don’t know what qualifies). Oh, so you doubt the integrity of this story? Well, consider this (and ask yourself how many times these things have happened to you already…).

the old e911 delaying trick

1. The address you entered into your preferred mapping application no longer geocodes, even though you are sure it did the last time you used it.

Analysis: In reality, this is a poorly disguised attempt by your map and route provider to delay the 911 services from rescuing you after your map provider has made the “hit” on you. An alternative to this common ruse is the old ploy of geocoding the location of your house a block north,south, east or west of where it actually is located, or, sometimes at the wrong end of the block. Oh, so you’ve never run into that situation? Really!

2. The streets you are interested in visiting are not on the map, even though they have been on other maps of the area for the last twenty years. Yep, even on those old printed maps.

Analysis: This tactic is the result of resource limitations. Yes, your map provider simply cannot afford to put snipers everywhere.

3. You keep receiving the infamous “You can’t get there from here” message or the “We can’t find your destination.”

Analysis: Oh, your map provider can find the location and, in fact, you will be able to get a route to the location later the same day, but not until they finalize the trap they are setting for you along the route they will provide. Now you know why you navigator insists you turn around to get back on route rather than rerouting you.

Historic route, maybe even scenic route, from typical online map provider

4. When you select “historic” as the routing option, your map provider takes you past locations that would be memorable only to a Mafia hit man.

Analysis: If your skin starts to fall off during the drive, seek an alternate route to your destination.

typical example of erroneous route guidance

5. The route guidance (routing directions) provided takes you the wrong way down one-way streets. This hasn’t happened to you yet? Really!

Analysis: You are the one who should know the terms of use for these online mapping and routing services. In the case of Google, for example, the license indicates “… (a) Map data, traffic, directions, and related Content are provided for planning purposes only. You may find that weather conditions, construction projects, closures, or other events may cause road conditions or directions to differ from the map results. You should exercise judgment in your use of this Content.” What you don’t know is that the planning purpose mentioned in the Terms of Use is actually “We are planning to kill you!” Don’t know what the term “other events” means? How about assasination. Really!

The amazing, disappearing map tile

6. Your map provider renders every tile in the area of interest, except the one you are currently navigating. (Danger, Will Robinson, they are waiting for you just around the corner).

Analysis: When you see the blank tile on your screen, turn around and head for safety. If you are on your phone, turn it off or you will see the blank tile surrounding you everywhere you go on the map. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Really!

7. When you select walking routes, the route provided invariably take you through the most dangerous neighborhoods in each of the cities you visit, even if these streets and neighborhoods are not on the route to your destination. Trick – show the route to the doorman of you hotel. When he howls in laughter, discard the route.

Analysis: sometimes, they even take you on streets that are poorly illuminated, have high traffic and actually have no sidewalks. Oh, wait, that was in poor taste, since it appears to have actually happened.

8. The turn-by-turn directions are provided a block or two too late to execute the required maneuver, so you execute a parking brake-assisted U-turn, forgetting that the result of this maneuver will have you traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.

Analysis: bing, bang, boom, they win again! Really!

9. All of a sudden, streets on maps start to look like the people who are following you (I am not making this up. See the following illustration.)

I know I've seen this map before.

Analysis: well, you were warned. Moreover, don’t try to look me in the eye and say that you don’t know or work with someone that looks like the map above. Yeah, really!

Okay, Okay, I have had my fun and will come back with something more interesting next time. (My apologies to Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live. Really! The same apologies to the talented artists at theoatmeal and the Mingle2 blog.)

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Posted in just for fun., Mike Dobson, pedestrian navigation, Personal Navigation, routing and navigation

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