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Oh brother (and sister), where art thou?
Posted on November 13, 2016 @ 11:23 am by

While writing a blog on productivity, I came across an alarming statistic—apparently more time is lost searching for, and trying out new productivity apps than is actually saved byscarecrow using these apps.

I’m not that surprised given the latest obsession with “have I got an app for you”. I mean: did you know that you could get an app (Carrr Matey) that tells you in a pirate voice where you parked your car ?

Not me. I’ve been very disciplined in my app approach—well, except when it comes to navigation tools. Directionally challenged and map averse, I’m one of those people who never goes anywhere just once. Don’t tell me to “drive north” because I guarantee, I’ll head west, or east, or south. Give me a fork in the road and I go right, not left. In fact, the only navigation feat I’ve perfected is the u-turn.

Navigation apps, however, have not been my friend. Both Google Maps and Maps seem to work fine for “normal” people, but I’ve never been able to figure out even simple preferences . For example, if I just want to drive to the corner store, both want to send me via the 407 toll route. (Note to US readers: there is only one toll route in the Greater Toronto Area, actually the only one I know of in Canada, but it seems to carry a lot of weight, especially with Google Maps.) Maps gives me 2-3 choices; a conciliation I appreciate, but not helpful given my somewhat indecisive nature.

Someone suggested that I try Waze, apparently a simpler, less didactic back seat driver. With my new app freshly downloaded, I headed out to a new client north of the city. I was immediately impressed at how easy it was to enter the address and right away (get that, right away) turn off “Toll Routes”. This was a very good sign.

Don’t ask me why or what I did wrong next, but half way to my destination two other voices joined me in my car. Yes, for some reason all three navigation apps kicked into full gear. Not only did they all talk at the same time, they didn’t agree with one another.

signsAs expected, Google Maps was determined to direct me back to the 407 at all costs. You really have to admire that kind of perseverance in a piece of technology dependent on a small chip of data. The more conservative Maps wanted
me to remain on a major city street, whereas Waze figured I was best to head back to the 404 (but then changed its (her?) mind when I missed the turn).

At one point, the voices reached a harmonic peak, each with its own tone and decibel level. It was then that Waze decided to showcase one of its more alarming features; calling out the presence of every red light camera. Huh?

Baffled, annoyed, and way beyond the legal definition of distracted driver, I pulled onto a side street (much to the dismay of two of the apps, the other approved). Unable to shut them up, I powered down my phone. My action kind of felt like I was throwing them all of a cliff—quite therapeutic in its way. After I re-started, there was finally silence. I then sent an email to my client begging forgiveness for being late.

“Trouble finding us?” I was asked on arrival

“No,” I replied, ““But had to stop to settle an argument between some warring parties.”

“Really”, nodded my client, probably figuring I had teenagers at home, “I’ve heard there’ a useful app for that….”

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