Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Hooptedoodle #286 - A Brief Journey into the Unknown

Saturday was the day for my exciting trip to Perth & Kinross, which is unusually exotic for someone who doesn't get out much. Since I am not too confident about the last bit of the route, I transferred the satnav from my car into the van and loaded up the route. It is a very ancient Garmin Nuvi 250 - the only reason I persist with it is because I invested in a lifetime supply of map updates. Whether it is for my own lifetime or the device's is a matter of moot - I could never raise the courage to find out.
I was aware that there would be a strange bit in the middle of the run, since, though my maps were updated pretty recently, they predate the September opening of the new Forth road bridge, the Queensferry Crossing. I was interested to see what Martina (Ms Satnavrilova, the resident female voice in the device) would make of the lack of information.

Last time Martina had a nervous collapse was some years ago, on a very wet day in Inverness, when she got into an eternal loop in the one-way system, and the display briefly turned psychedelic before I switched her off, out of sympathy as much as irritation.

On Saturday, probably predictably, as I left the approach road for the old bridge, the display showed that I was travelling through a clear white space (previously farm fields), which became a clear blue space as I reached the water. There was the usual image of the rear of a car in the middle, but the rest of the display was blank. Martina said, "recalculating...  recalculating... recalculating..." over and over, for about 3 or 4 minutes, and then sort of trailed off. The display still showed me heading off into the unknown - although the view outside the windscreen was of traffic, and of the road over the new bridge on a nice sunny morning, the display made me feel rather lonely - almost homesick. I felt a bit like the Voyager spacecraft heading into the depths of space.

Voyager on its way to Kinross
As I approached the other side, Martina suddenly brightened up, though she didn't sound too confident.

"In one mile," she announced, "enter roundabout...", though there was nothing on the screen apart from the little car. Soon after, the road joined the Northern approach for the old bridge, and Martina was back to her businesslike self.

"Enter roundabout, and take first exit...", and normal service was restored. It was amusing to see what had happened, but I have to say it is not comfortable to behold that you are lost at sea. Today I am updating the maps again - that should sort it. Mind you, even the latest Garmin updates still give warning of a temporary 40mph speed limit on the A720, the Edinburgh By-pass, between Sheriffhall and Musselburgh, which was removed at the end of a spell of roadworks in about 2007. I keep a careful eye on Martina for signs of dementia. As it used to say in the audit manual, Trust but Verify.


  1. Tony - just goes to show that strange things happen to those who venture north of the Forth. No wonder the Romans never made it up here!

    1. The Eagle of the Ninth is kept in a pub in Cowdenbeath. Terrifying.

      If I had had a compass on the dashboard, I'm sure it would have been spinning round when the satnav went blank. The land where light travels in curves, where the ducks fly backwards to keep the dust out of their eyes, and even babies drink Irn Bru and eat white pudd'ns.

  2. I don't own one myself but occasionally a friend brings one to a wargame show when sharing my car and I hate to admit it but a small part of me gets some amusement out of torturing these poor things by not obeying. In one case, while veering off towards an unregistered way point on the other side of a river, the poor thing got so upset that she kept trying to drown us by insisting that we immediately turn right despite the lack of road and proximity of the Saint John River.

    However, there is nothing like a GPS in the hands of a co-driver who will not answer questions or give lane change and turning instructions more than 30 seconds in advance. I've learned to memorize routes in advance as a back up.

    1. I'm quite a fan of the old satnav, but I believe you have to keep an old-fashioned view of them. They will tell you in microscopic detail what to do, but the higher-level picture - where you are at the moment, for example - is largely a mystery. Things don't often go wrong, that's largely because I keep an eye on the directions - if the satnav tries to get me to leave a motorway, go half-way round a roundabout and then rejoin the same motorway, travelling in the same direction, just because it worked out that it's 8 metres shorter, I usually ignore that because I have a good idea where I'm going, despite everything. Overall, the things are super, I guess - it is a bit sneaky to force the poor machine to cope with a route on today's roads with yesterday's maps!