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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

View Blog | Read Bio

Navigation From Hell

A few weeks ago my wife got a car navigation system for her birthday… well, officially it is also partially for me 😉 . Just before we were leaving for Austria, so we took the thing out of the box, switched it on and started driving. Well, honestly, the times you really need a GPS system for its primary purpose, finding your way, is rare… More than 95% of the time, we are driving somewhere where we know exactly where we are going. But still, it is a nice toy. Plus, the thing we have can also receive traffic information, and THAT is really usefull. Even if there is no way to avoid the traffic jam, at least it tells you how long you’ll be stuck, and when you’ll finally get to your destination… Oh yes, the fun we had!

naviAnd then came that fateful day… When we remembered the sticker on the box, that says that you get a free update of your map (because of course those guys usually have outdated maps on them when you get them from Amazon)… So we hooked it up to the computer, and that was it… It started installing the new map, and then just refused to work anymore. So, I spent hours poking around the internal memory of the device, googling for helpful hints, and mailing the tech support. On my own, I got most features back to work, but not the traffic info, which was the feature we really wanted! So finally I heard from tech support, with all sorts of descriptions what to do… I tried them all, nothing worked. Quite annoyed (now, the device was already broken for a week), I went back to the dirty details… And found, deep down in the system, two files that had a size of 0 bytes… Very suspicious! With some more hacking, I could finally extract those files from a map archive, copied them to the GPS… And hooray, it works again! The little blue car is on the road again…

So, I filled out a quite negative feedback form for the tech support, and told them how to fix the problem, so they can at least help the next guy who has the same problem… And I just received a reply: They know about this, they are working hard to fix it… That really set me off… I mean, seriously, how stupid is that? They know about it, but let me spend hours to figure it out on my own…

But of course I’m also proud I could solve it on my own 🙂 …Oh well, the fun we have with our little gadgets… I guess spending hours each day with your laptop does that to you… At least now I can go back to the proofreading of the diploma thesis of a student of mine, feeling better.

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