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The little Garmin that couldn't.

Early days

At one time, believe it or not, mobile phones and cars didn't provide built-in mapping and GPS. Instead, you had to purchase a standalone GPS device - like a Garmin - and mount it some way or another to your dash.

I've always held a fascination for knowing where I am. Any time I take a photo, I make sure to have GPS tracking turned on. Whenever I'm in a taxi, I get out my mobile and watch our progress. When I'm on vacation, I like to zoom way out and see where I am relative to the country and the world. When I'm not with my boys, I like to use Find My Friends to see where they are, just to feel connected and cozy.

But I digress.

Deeply confused

So we ended up buying this low-end Garmin GPS for our car. It was cheap and slow, and from the fonts I could tell that it was based on Windows CE - a slow and clumsy mobile operating system from before the days of iOS and Android.

One day I was on the way to the home of a research participant somewhere south of San Francisco, and came upon a cloverleaf interchange. "No problem," I thought, "I've got my trusty GPS to direct me to my destination!"

So up we went, around the first lobe (1) of the clover leaf.

And then it directed me to take the second lobe (2), effectively making a U-turn in my route. "Ok," I thought, "perhaps it's some sort of workaround for one-way streets."

And then it directed me to take the third lobe (3), which if you're still following along, was the equivalent to taking a right-hand turn before I ever entered the cloverleaf in the first place.

"That's odd," I thought to myself, "but I trust the technology!"

So I continued. And once again, the GPS directed me to take the next lobe of the cloverleaf (4) - returning me to my original path.

And then the GPS screen went dark, as it crashed and restarted to a blank "Where would you like to go?" prompt.

I like to think that it got lost, embarrassed, and ashamed.


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