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January 08, 2004

Don't be mean to the machine

David Weinberger wrote:

My GPS navigation system should arrive today. I forewent all birthday and Chanukah gifts from my family in order to build up a fund for the device, a Garmin 2610. It's a perky little number that sits on your dash and tells you, in a silky voice that forgives all your directional transgressions, how to get from A to B.

When I was visiting RobH, my former roommate who now lives in Ann Arbor and is a major gadget geek, we went for a drive in his Lexus. He has one of these fancy GPS navigation computers built into the dashboard.

As we started to drive he set it to give him directions to our destination. It thought for a second, and then, in a soothing, calm, female voice, began to give driving directions.

"Turn left, 1/4 mile, anderson drive," she would say.

Rob missed the first suggested turn, so she calmly recalulated the route and gave a new direction, "turn right, 1/2 mile, main street".

He drove right by that turn too. She recalculated and gave a new instruction.

Rob proceeded to ignore EVERY suggestion she would give. For like a dozen turns. If she said turn right he'd go straight, if she said left he'd go right. Each time, she would figure it out again, and make a new suggestion.

She was so calm about this, and I was starting to get oddly embarrassed for the poor machine.

I totally expected her to blurt out at some point.

"Hey! Why did you ask me for directions if you were gonna ignore every turn I suggest?! Figure out where you really want to go, and get back to me. Maybe I'll help you out then." And then blank the screen.

Posted by jghiii at January 8, 2004 01:52 PM
Posted by: sherman on January 8, 2004 02:00 PM

You really want to test that navigational thing? Put it in Mrs Toad's Wild Ride and see what it does when Jo Ann drives on the freeway.

Can a machine scream in a calm voice?

Posted by: Steve Garfield on January 8, 2004 04:06 PM

That was a funny story!

Posted by: Jack Hodgson on January 8, 2004 06:10 PM

Thanks Steve. How 'bout a little linkage? :-)

Posted by: Jo Ann on January 9, 2004 04:41 AM

Fun story! I've only had those things in rental cars--but fun idea for Mr. Toad's, Sherm! :-) It's pretty funny how they try to redirect you when you ignore their advice. But at least they're nice about it. Unlike many voicemail systems: "This is not a recognized name or extension." "Your voicemail is full, please delete those messages no longer needed." Well, I guess it doesn't have the same effect in writing. It's the tone she takes; she can be so snippy! I guess that's why she's knicknamed "Bossy Betty", huh?
Jo Ann

Posted by: dave on January 9, 2004 12:24 PM

My voice mail has a stange message at the end, when it has finished giving all the options she says" if you would like to try an extention, you may do so now, see you later"
I always thought this to be odd as she will never see me and I will never see her, she not even a real person....

Posted by: Jo Ann on January 9, 2004 03:18 PM

HA! Now that's funny! How bizarre that a voicemail system would say "See you later". That really is out there.

Here's a bit of trivia... One of the voicemail voices (the one some refer to as "Bossy Betty") is a voiceover woman that lives/works in the East Bay. A friend of mine knows her!

See you later.

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