In the car I hired last weekend, it had a load of built-in tech – Ford’s Sync system – that was quite interesting, not least for the fact that it worked really nicely and easily. Connecting my phone to the car was a doddle, the satnav worked well (and better than my usual stand-alone device in several ways) and it all just seemed pretty easy.
However. It’s obvious that it was designed for a standard “family car” scenario, rather than a vehicle that would be hired to many different users. Which makes sense, but leads to an interesting longer-term problem…
Basically, people are lazy – and don’t think about their data. So the convenience of connecting one’s phone to the car system for hands-free calls etc is great, as is the simple download of the phone’s address book to the system. But if you then don’t delete it when you take the car back to the hire place, it’s all available to the next user. The same applies to the satnav system – ‘recent destinations’ is a goldmine of activity, right down to house number and location. (And I suspect, with a bit of work, one could connect the destination to a phone number in that downloaded phonebook)
It just interests me, how little people care (or understand) about their information. I cleared down the whole car system before I returned it, which took less than five minutes all told. So it’s not much work, but it’s still work, which most people don’t seem willing to undertake.
I’ve suggested to the hire company that it should perhaps be part of the car sanitising process when it’s returned (or before it’s hired back out, whichever) although I realise that makes it more hassle for them, and there’s a lot of different setups in the various cars.
Of course, it’d be better if people cleaned up after themselves – or the car tech had a “forget everything” button/process (although that would still be too much effort for most people) that did the job. But that won’t happen until people realise how important this shit can be, and sadly that tends to only happen by negative paths/occurrences/events, and will always be learned too late.
Over the weekend, I hired a car – I was doing a drive to Middlesbrough, Newcastle, and back – and chose to have an automatic (as written about here) The main reason was just to see how I got on with it, as autos aren’t something I usually drive.
It was actually pretty interesting. Enterprise gave me a Ford C-Max, which is a proper boat of a thing – but all went really well. It drives a whole lot better than it looks, and it’s the most spookily quiet thing I’ve driven. There’s dark magic at work, when you’re travelling at *cough* 75 in a diesel-engined car, and can’t hear a jot of engine noise. Well, it’s either that or I’m going completely deaf. (Hint : It’s not the latter) Interestingly, that makes it quite hard (for me) to hold to a speed – it turns out that I drive far more by the noise of the engine than looking at the speedo/revs (which also explains why I speed up when I turn the radio volume up) Thankfully, it also comes with cruise control, and a speed limiter.
The journey up was pretty easy – and very lazy, with not having to change gear at all – but didn’t give me a great ability to test my preferences between auto and manual.
However, the journey back really showed the benefits. There’d been an accident on the M1 up in Leicestershire (nothing major, a two-vehicle thing that spread across the two outside lanes) and the queues were insane – mainly because there were so many fuckknuckle cunts who belt along, ignoring the ‘lanes closed’ signs, and wait ’til the last possible minute before pulling in to the only open lane, thus jamming things up for everyone else.
As an aside, I strongly believe that the speed cameras should be activated on every gantry where the “lane closed” signs are operative, and should catch every single driver who ignores the warnings and stays in those lanes. Simple driving without due care and attention, £60 fine in the post. Not (necessarily) even points on the licence – the cunts would soon learn when it started being expensive.
Anyway, those tailbacks were, if not a joy, at least a lot easier. No need for endless gearchanges, clutch etc., just plod and stop, plod and stop. I’m still not a fan of the auto-stop/start technology on modern cars, but even that worked fine all the way through, so I confess that I’m less unconvinced than I was. (And yes, I know, double negative etc. etc.)
Once past that, it was an easy ride again. I was impressed by the satnav in the car, picking up a further closure on the M1 and automatically rerouting. I know it’s pretty standard (or should be) but it hasn’t happened in any of the other hire cars I’ve played in this year, so it was a nice touch.
I think if I were to end up doing a lot of city/motorway driving again for commuting etc., I’d seriously consider getting a car with an automatic gearbox now. It doesn’t completely match my driving style at present – I still had a couple of moments of acceleration (particularly when pulling away from a junction, and when coming out into traffic) where I wasn’t happy with how the auto ‘box handled things, as it either over-revved and/or bogged down, until I let up the accelerator and re-pressed it. But I acknowledge that’s my driving style, rather than the ‘box itself. I’m pretty sure that I’d quickly change my style to be a more gradual acceleration if I were to have an auto vehicle as my everyday drive.
Will I consider hiring an auto again when the travel dictates it? Yes.
So all told, pretty successful all round.
I’ve speculated before that my little TomTom satnav perhaps hates me. Whatever, it certainly likes trying to confuse me, and generally be shit.
My drive on Tuesday illustrated this perfectly.
Yep – the icon at the bottom says turn left, while the map view says turn right. No left turn at all.
I don’t usually understand why people screw up so badly when using SatNav (except for the absolute reliance and trust in technology being correct) but on this occasion I could understand why someone might make a mistake. It’s hardly helpful, after all.
Following on from the London visit last Friday, I’m now pretty damn sure that I’m going to be replacing my satnav at some point soon.
I’ve had this one now for a few years, and it’s always been a bit – quirky, is probably the politest term for it. (Downright vindictive would be another)
On Friday it pissed me off by giving plainly bad instructions – on several occasions. On two junctions it was indicating that I needed to be in the right-hand lane, and it was only through paying attention to it that I realised it meant “Oh no, not that right, I meant the right-hand lane of these two, you’ll be turning off again in a second. If you’re on that right-hand lane, you’ll be going wrong in 5.. 4… 3.. 2..” That’s seriously unhelpful! It also has a nasty tendency to tell me to turn/u-turn at junctions that don’t allow that to happen. If I were heeding only the twatnav, I’d’ve been in deep shit a couple of times, and probably have points on my licence as well.
When I was up in Derbyshire a couple of weeks back for the wedding it did similar things, as well as trying to send me some very dodgy routes including single-lane farm tracks. It was almost as though it was saying “I’m bored of direct routes and level ground – let’s have some fun!” And while I’m happy with interesting drives, several portions were pretty fucking hairy indeed.
So yes, I think that it’s time for the SatNav to be retired / replaced. I haven’t got any major journeys now for a few weeks, so we’ll see. But its days are definitely numbered.