Monday, November 09, 2009

TeleNav still sucks ... and so does Mapquest

I have had GPS horrors before. Returning home from Pittsburgh was no exception. However, before there was the "return home", there was the "getting to" which also was eventful.

So, as my title says: In addition to TeleNav sucking, Mapquest sucks too. I suppose I'm just a glutton for punishment but printing out directions is the last thing I put on my agenda when I'm traveling. I did manage, Saturday evening, to print directions TO Pittsburgh, but I never did print the return directions. At any rate, Mapquest got me most of the way to Pittsburgh without incident, though it certainly didn't like sending me the most direct way (and I specifically tried to get it to do so). It also didn't know (or failed to inform me) that the exit I needed to take when I got to the city, was under construction, so I had to handle a detour. For those who have not visited Pittsburgh, I don't think there is a single straight avenue in the entire downtown area, and Penn Avenue seems to wrap around half the city. So let's just say that I got to see Duquesne University at 7 PM at night. Problem is, Duquesne University was nowhere where I needed to be. Fortunately, TeleNav actually helped me out of that predicament, after 45 minutes of wandering aimlessly through every backstreet in Pittsburgh known to man. So much for making good time. My bad.

Fortunately, the meeting went mostly according to plan with minimal angst. Wish my traveling had been so simple.

Then it was time to return home ... at 6 PM in the evening (yet another story*). I paid my parking bill, climbed into the company van, and went topside. Turned on my Blackberry, clicked over to TeleNav and started it up. Only to be told that the signal was too weak and I needed to move to an "open area". So essentially ... I needed to leave the city before I could use the GPS system ... that I needed to work properly so that I could leave the city in the first place. Jimminy.

So I hop on some street and it takes me to a highway, which of course at 6PM is loaded with rush hour traffic. So things start moving at a crawl. Still nothing from the GPS, signal is too weak, so I keep traveling. Eventually get to a fairly open area, pull off the highway (because I'm not programming this thing in rush hour traffic) and set up the stupid GPS. Turn it on and receive directions to HEAD BACK THE WAY I JUST CAME! Figures. So I start heading back the way I came, get told to get onto another highway, under heavy construction of course, and then exit shortly thereafter. It sends me down a road, has me DO A U-TURN, and get BACK ON THE HIGHWAY I had just been on. Sure enough, a few minutes later it's telling me to get back off the exit I had just gotten off of to turn the GPS on and get directions. Of course, TeleNav is calling it "Exit 5A" and the sign is calling it "Exit 67". At this point I'm damning every TeleNav employee to hell.

So I turn the damn thing off, keeping heading out on that highway (because it's obviously taking me out of the city) and see a sign for the airport, and I head towards it. Funnily enough, it's the road I need to take for a large portion of my trip.

Blind Luck: 1
TeleNav: 0

Of course, that wasn't my only trouble with TeleNav on the trip. The other fun part was when I had about three miles before a turn-off and TeleNav lost connection with its server and was down for 45 minutes (which means it wasn't giving me directions). If it had not been for a friend and Google Maps on their computer, I may not be here writing this. That was also oodles of fun.

I swear, I'm never going to use that damn GPS function ever again. I even went so far as to complain to our purchasing agent to buy some damn road atlases and put them in our vehicles.

*I love when your boss comes to you at 4:30 on a Friday, says he won't be going and that you're going to give his poster. Problem is, his poster session is 7 hours after you planned on checking out of your hotel and start your trek home. It's also half a dozen hours after any remotely interesting talk in your area was going occur, leaving you to sit there bored out of your skull the entire time. Oh, and when you call the hotel to extend your stay a day ... they're booked solid. Lovely. The icing on the cake comes when a whole three people in the two hour span show up at the poster to talk with you.


RPS77 said...

I've noticed that navigation software tends to be most helpful with relatively simple directions. Unfortunately, those are the kind of directions that you can usually figure out yourself.

Road construction and one way streets especially seem especially good at destroying the usefulness of electronic directions.

microbiologist xx said...

Wow. Sounds like you had a grand ole time from start to finish. Glad you made it back in one piece and with all electronics in one piece. Of course, they cost just enough to keep me from breaking them...on purpose.

soil mama said...

Sorry to hear about your GPS horrors, I just assumed they worked better than that. maybe other brands are better??
I hate presenting on the final day of a conference, presenting a poster that isn't yours on the last day of a conference is the worst case scenario.

Philip H. said...

this is why I still carry and atlas in my car . . .