gps

MapQuest, Google, and Ashton Kutcher’s Foursquare.com


This off-publishing topic interests me because I’ve never really needed GPS or any kind of map service to get me from point A to point B. I even posted about it here before once in one of my WTF posts. My mom and dad live by Onstar; I have friends who never leave the house without using some kind of GPS.

I’ve never really needed it. But I do like to keep up just in case I do need something one day. This article from Cnet talks about MapQuest and free voice prompts for route guidance.

In the online maps space, Google may draw more attention, but MapQuest, online years earlier, has continued to improve its service. And among iPhone apps, MapQuest can boast a crucial feature over Google Maps, free turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts.

What I’ve really started to use in the past year is Foursquare.com. A friend got me into it as a social network and I’ve been using it to build points, get discounts at restaurants, and even build a photo album.

This past July 4th Tony and I had to drive to North Jersey to visit friends. On the way home we took back roads to avoid traffic on Route 80 and wound up lost in a part of New Jersey neither of us knew. So I started tracking where we were on foursquare and loved it. Whenever I checked into a place, our destination showed up on the foursquare map with a blue pin and it lead us right out of New Jersey, into PA, and onto roads with which we were familiar.

When I signed on to foursquare last year I didn’t think I’d be using it as anything other than a different type of social media. But the more I do use it the more I find I like it better than other GPS systems. And, while I’m using it, I’m getting points in addition.

The only problem I’ve had with foursquare so far is that I can’t remove some people from my friend list no matter how hard I try. Two guys from different parts of the country either closed their accounts or dropped off and they left these horrible photos that I have to look at every time I check in. One is a photo of an empty dinner plate, with remnants of what the guy had for dinner that look like little green boogers. The other is this creepy guy in bed holding a teddy bear. Both are creepy big time; both I would love to remove. And I can’t figure out a way to do that.

Through foursquare I’m also able to keep up with good friends in Palm Springs I used to see all the time. And I enjoy that. I miss them and I like being connected to them. It’s a comforting feeling. I also like seeing some of my other social media friends, like Mary G., down in Louisiana, and Ryan M. right here in New Hope. It’s a great example of how small the world really is.

Though it didn’t influence me to join foursquare, I also hear that Ashton Kutcher is an investor.

If you are so inclinded to join foursquare you can follow me @Ryan Field. If you’re a FB friend, you can check out my check-ins on foursquare because I’m linked. I can’t promise the most interesting check-ins (at least not as interesting as Ashton Kutcher’s, I’m sure…but you never know.

So We’re All Supossed to Know What GPS Is? WTF?

This is a little rant about something I read on a book review blog the other day. The reviewer in question slammed a story because one of the characters didn’t know what GPS was. It was suggested in this review that anyone under the age of 70 should know what GPS is, and therefore the author didn’t know what she was doing.

Well.

I find this interesting. I’m forty; I still run every morning, still have a thirty-two inch waist, and have been told I could pass for someone in his thirties…well under the age of 70. I own two cars and both have GPS. I have an iPhone with apps for GPS. And I honestly could not tell you, in detail, what the hell GPS is about or how to use it.

Why?

Because I don’t care. I don’t need GPS at this point in my life, and frankly I’m not even sure I ever will. I know it’s some kind of navigational tool. I would imagine it comes in handy for people who travel for work, especially in sales. I’m not knocking GPS. But I’m a writer. I work at home. I know how to drive into to New York and find the Lincoln Tunnel without any problems at all. I rarely take the Holland, but could find it just as easily if I had to. I know how to get to any place between Maine and S. Beach Miami without any problems at all. I know how to get to the airport and the train station. If I need specific directions, which is rare, I stop and ask for them. Or, print out directions from google.

I’m sure there will come a day when I do need GPS. I like knowing that it is there just in case I ever do need it. I’ve even been telling myself that I have to sit down and learn how to use it…just in case that day comes when I need it. But at this point, GPS isn’t something I need.

Now, this is interesting. My parents are retired therapists. They have GPS in both their cars, plus on their iPhones. They are both over 70 and they both use their GPS all the time. In fact, they don’t go anywhere without turning it on. They know so much about GPS it could put you to sleep.

My point is that I don’t see how a character in a book not knowing what GPS is should be relevant to a book review. As an author, there are things the reader should take for granted and not question. If an author thinks a character shouldn’t know what GPS is, I don’t think it should be questioned. I just finished a mystery romance where a character didn’t know how to operate his GPS. I explained why he doesn’t know how to operate it. But I don’t think it’s fair to assume that just because most people care about GPS the rest of the world should care.

And when I see reviews like this, those that pick out snitty little things like GPS, I can’t help but wonder what kind of person the reviewer is. What would make a person think this way? To assume we all know about GPS, and then condemn an author for not thinking this way. But more than that, if I had been reviewing that particular book, I would have been more concerned about the author’s poor use of dialogue tags…there were adverbs in every example in the review. I would have been more concerned about the author’s use of said bookisms…he grumbled, mumbled, and stumbled, three lines in a row, no joke. But the last thing I would have cared about was that the character didn’t know what GPS is.