0407: "Cheap GPS"

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0407: "Cheap GPS"

Postby Durinthal » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:17 am UTC

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http://xkcd.com/407/
Title text: In lieu of mapping software, I once wrote a Perl program which, given a USB GPS receiver and a destination, printed 'LEFT' 'RIGHT' OR 'STRAIGHT' based on my heading.

I need to start doing this to my fiancée (who's terrible with directions).
Last edited by Durinthal on Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:18 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby therocket » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:18 am UTC

No worse than an expensive GPS.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Nomenclaturist » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:18 am UTC

Perhaps if these were real navigations, my mom might actually be able to use it.
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0407: "Cheap GPS"

Postby pyroman » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:19 am UTC

[img]http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/cheap_gps.png
Cheap GPS/[img]
alt text: In lieu of mapping software, I once wrote a Perl program which, given a USB GPS receiver and a destination, printed 'LEFT' 'RIGHT' OR 'STRAIGHT' based on my heading.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby kellsbells » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:20 am UTC

Oh man, this one actually cracked me up. The best part is that it really isn't that far from my sister's GPS and its lame directions. It gives a little "ding" right before I'm supposed to turn... when I'm about twenty feet past the turnoff.

It would be great for scavenger hunts.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby pyroman » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:21 am UTC

dam i almost had the first post but in my lack of 1337 i couldn't figure out how to post the picture of the comic... epoch fail... *sigh* owell

on another note that is pretty much what most gps do anyways so i don't see much a difference. if anything it would be more fun
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby plunkettt » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:21 am UTC

I am really liking the many uses of the color gr(e|a)y in this comic.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby soccerray » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:22 am UTC

go back to 2d

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:22 am UTC

When I know where I am going and how to get there, I sometimes like to tell my GPS to take me to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC and imagine it getting angrier and angrier as I continue to ignore its directions.

This GPS system wouldn't get angry so much as saddening, as it would just continue to say "cold, cold, cold."

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Re: Cheap GPS

Postby Syka » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:22 am UTC

I would totally pay money for that...

On a related note, my boy and I were being lazy this weekend while watching Lost on his computer. We put the mouse on a chair between the bed (where we were laying) and the computer. I have freakishly flexible feet and, being lazy, decided to press the button to continue with my foot. The problem? I wasn't facing that way (we were talking and I was laying on my stomach). So, in order to direct the pointer to the correct spot on the screen I get "You're getting warmer...no, too far! Go left, a little more, you have it! Click click...darn, you moved it." as a running commentary from the boy. :) It would have been quicker to get up.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby floyd4one » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:23 am UTC

plunkettt wrote:I am really liking the many uses of the color gr(e|a)y in this comic.

gray, definitely gray.

i had to program a navigation routine for an autonomous robot based only on GPS data, and let me tell you if your only commands are left, right or straight, you basically end up going in circles forever... especially if you don't have a digital compass.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Luthen » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:24 am UTC

Our GPS is called Meryl Street (pun on Streep) and my mum doesn't like 'cause it replaced her navigational duties.

therocket wrote:No worse than an expensive GPS.

You're right, GPS street maps are so out of date in italy. Driving the wrong way down one-way streets and through traffic islands is fun!

Also we misturned on a roundabout once, and now we get the instructions:
1) In 100m enter roundabout
2) (When entering roundabout) Take third exit (i.e. turn right)
3) (Two seconds later) Take third exit!

ARGGGHHH I was going to have third post but it won't just submit!
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Durinthal » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:25 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:When I know where I am going and how to get there, I sometimes like to tell my GPS to take me to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC and imagine it getting angrier and angrier as I continue to ignore its directions.

If I ever get a GPS I'll have to remember to do that, as I already think it's funny when it has to recalculate the route every few minutes because I know a faster way.

Edit for extra reply:
floyd4one wrote:i had to program a navigation routine for an autonomous robot based only on GPS data, and let me tell you if your only commands are left, right or straight, you basically end up going in circles forever... especially if you don't have a digital compass.

Really? I figure that, at least on a grid of streets, left/right/straight should get you where you need fairly easily.
Last edited by Durinthal on Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:29 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby nyeguy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:27 am UTC

floyd4one wrote:
plunkettt wrote:I am really liking the many uses of the color gr(e|a)y in this comic.

gray, definitely gray.

No, grey is surely the right way to spell it. I mean, its what I use, so it must be correct.

Edit: Oops, I completely forgot what I was going to say about the comic... I hope the GPS device in the alt text gives you a really good warning, or is really good at recalculating the best route back to a missed turn, because there is so much potential to completely miss a turn with that system.
Last edited by nyeguy on Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:30 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby benjhuey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:28 am UTC

I never use the voice directions (too distracting). I set a location if only to find it on the map. I then use the GPS more like an actual map rather than a pathfinder.

soccerray wrote:go back to 2d

While I enjoy the effort, it just seems way too out of character for Randall to use such crazy perspectives, so I have to agree. It's weird to see a stick figure in such a position, since stick figures shouldn't have depth.
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Re: Cheap GPS

Postby Aleks » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:30 am UTC

Bahahaha. Pretty clever strip, this one. Made me smile :) Although if I had to have it in my car, it would be there for comical purposes only.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Stockton da Vinci » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:35 am UTC

Great comic... I think I am the only person on this thread to be blessed with a good sat-nav system, but I definitely appreciate the sentiment of this- it reminds me of driving with someone in the passenger seat who doesn't know left from right... constantly frustrating and ultimately counter-productive.

And 3D stick figures? A change of pace, but I like it. I think.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Markavian » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:47 am UTC

So when it alternates between STRAIGHT and LEFT, you know its 'somewhere' along the diagonal... it could be worse, it could be INFRONT or BEHIND I guess. How general can you get before it becomes impossible to pick a direction?

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby gormster » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:51 am UTC

plunkettt wrote:I am really liking the many uses of the colo[u]?r gr(e|a)y in this comic.


fix'd (do I need to put it in square brackets? I'm no good at regex)
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby sqrt(-1)<3pi » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:57 am UTC

hahaha
if GPS's were like this, driving would be so much more fun; like an Easter egg hunt. Or digging for lost items in a ball pit. Or an Easter egg hunt in a ballpit
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby atrain » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:07 am UTC

this would be a ton of fun, except for the lack of left/right.
A nice alternative would be port/starboard, or turn X radians.

I lack a GPS, not because I'm cheap, but because I find them not all that useful between good signs on the road and the fact that I actually know how to read a map.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby phaiakia » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:22 am UTC

Aww, I like the 3D stick figure. Reminds me of the sketches I do to explain physics problems to my students.

Also, I am very concerned about this car's lack of air conditioning vents. But perhaps that's because I'm from Arizona.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:23 am UTC

Markavian wrote:So when it alternates between STRAIGHT and LEFT, you know its 'somewhere' along the diagonal... it could be worse, it could be INFRONT or BEHIND I guess. How general can you get before it becomes impossible to pick a direction?
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby charmuska » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:33 am UTC

Hmm, he seems to have overshot his destination...
cold...warm...hot!...cold...

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:
Markavian wrote:So when it alternates between STRAIGHT and LEFT, you know its 'somewhere' along the diagonal... it could be worse, it could be INFRONT or BEHIND I guess. How general can you get before it becomes impossible to pick a direction?
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Edit: somewhat related, the GPS seems to be giving a day-by-day description of the weather here. Crazy times when it snows in late March, especially when it didn't in December.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby offramp13 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:36 am UTC

I like the fact that it is a stick figure in a 3-d drawing of a car.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby superglucose » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:41 am UTC

Re: the alt text.

I can, in one line, write a program in Java that will tell you the heading of your bicycle:

System.out.println("Forward");

waaaaaaaaits for it...

Since a bike can't go backwards and it turns its heading to face whichever direction you want to go, a bycicle is always going 'forward'.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Twasbrillig » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:55 am UTC

Alt Text wrote:In lieu of mapping software, I once wrote a Perl program which, given a USB GPS receiver and a destination, printed 'LEFT' 'RIGHT' OR 'STRAIGHT' based on my heading.


Which, if written in python, would consist of approximately 3 lines. 4 if you want to keep things neat.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Robin S » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:56 am UTC

superglucose wrote:Re: the alt text.

I can, in one line, write a program in Java that will tell you the heading of your bicycle:

System.out.println("Forward");

waaaaaaaaits for it...

Since a bike can't go backwards and it turns its heading to face whichever direction you want to go, a bycicle is always going 'forward'.
That's like being lost in a car, asking a passer-by where you are and being told "in a car" - absolutely accurate, and completely useless.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby syckls » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:58 am UTC

First a sub and cracked ice, now the interior of a car... Randall is getting pretty sophisticated with his artwork.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby thutchy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:04 am UTC

my worst GPS moment was when my gps tried to route me through washington state for no clearly defined reason (I live in boston)

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby VectorZero » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:06 am UTC

Version 2 helpfully includes an external temperature report also, before the directions. Or is it after? I never can recall.

superglucose wrote:Re: the alt text.

I can, in one line, write a program in Java that will tell you the heading of your bicycle:

System.out.println("Forward");


ACME advises that this program is not suitable for use on fixed-wheel bicycles.

thutchy wrote:my worst GPS moment was when my gps tried to route me through washington state for no clearly defined reason (I live in boston)


I assume Vancouver was not your destination?
Last edited by VectorZero on Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:12 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby therocket » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:08 am UTC

superglucose wrote:Since a bike can't go backwards and it turns its heading to face whichever direction you want to go, a bycicle is always going 'forward'.


what about this bike?

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Stickfodder » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:12 am UTC

it's still more effective than my method of finding places i want to go by follow someone who seems to know where they're going
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby VectorZero » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:20 am UTC

therocket wrote:
superglucose wrote:Since a bike can't go backwards and it turns its heading to face whichever direction you want to go, a bycicle is always going 'forward'.


what about this bike?


That bike, even more so, cannot go backwards. It can be pedalled backwards, but due to the gearing, this still drives the bike forwards.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby william » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:33 am UTC

superglucose wrote:Re: the alt text.

I can, in one line, write a program in Java that will tell you the heading of your bicycle:

System.out.println("Forward");

waaaaaaaaits for it...

That is not a valid Java program.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Kebrel » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:36 am UTC

we recently had a fun trip, with a GPS(tom tom). we came to relies that the machine had a short temper.

GPS: turn left in 75 yards
*keeps going straight*
GPS:...turn left in 125 yards
*turns right*
GPS: Please preform an immediate U-turn...Please preform an immediate U-turn...Please preform an immediate U-turn...



I also like how the comics are getting more detailed.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby ++$_ » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:52 am UTC

I was amused. But did anyone else find it vaguely disconcerting that the steering wheel looks like a malicious robot?
cheap_gps_w_robot.png
How I saw it
cheap_gps_w_robot.png (46.98 KiB) Viewed 15693 times


gormster wrote:
plunkettt wrote:I am really liking the many uses of the colo[u]?r gr(e|a)y in this comic.


fix'd (do I need to put it in square brackets? I'm no good at regex)
No, you don't. Square brackets mean "exactly one of the characters within these brackets." Since there's only one character, you don't need them. colou?r works just fine.

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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby SoapyHobo » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:27 am UTC

++$_ wrote:I was amused. But did anyone else find it vaguely disconcerting that the steering wheel looks like a malicious robot?
I'm more concerned that the car doesn't appear to have any pedals. I would so definitely buy one of those hot/cold GPS systems though, but wouldn't the effectiveness of that system decrease dramatically with distance from your location since it's not telling you directions but the distance from your target?
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby ConMan » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:35 am UTC

Stickfodder wrote:it's still more effective than my method of finding places i want to go by follow someone who seems to know where they're going


Pfft. That's not your method, that's Dirk Gently's. Still, nice DNA reference.
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Re: "Cheap GPS" Discussion

Postby Unforgiven » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:08 am UTC

Re the title text, it sounds like Randall reinvented VOR navigation, only GPS based.

There's gotta be at least some people on this board who get that, I can't be the only aviation nerd here. :P
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