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Friday, November 11, 2011

Chp 376. GPS: How it changed our world

Remember those days not so long ago before the age of mobile phones when you’re supposed to meet your friends but they’re not there yet, and you didn’t know where they were? You would either wait for some more time or simply go somewhere else.

Remember a few years ago when mobile phones started becoming affordable and everybody started having one? When your friends were not there at the rendezvous point, you would simply call them up, and they would tell you that they’re almost there… and of course you had no idea whether they were lying or not.

Today, with most of my friends, it’s just a matter of switching on Google Maps on my Android device and checking on Google Latitude to see where all my friends currently are (or recently were).

And that had made life a lot simpler. There had been many times when this service had truly helped me out and made a lot of things easier for me.

I once had to meet an old school friend. He was staying in Ghatkopar, in an extremely crowded and congested residential area that had a lot of bylanes and narrow, winding, diverging, converging, convoluting alleys. (If you are from Delhi, imagine it to be like the heart of Munirka). With the help of Google Latitude, he didn’t even have to come all the way out on the main road to pick me up. I could easily find my way right up to his building by simply following the directions on my phone between his current location and mine.

And this doesn’t even have to be only between two people who have GPS on their mobile. My friend Alejandro too stays in one such locality called Kalina here in Mumbai, which has a hell lot of bylanes and alleys. The first time I went over to his place, he picked me up from the main road. Once I reached his apartment, I simply “starred” my location, memorizing it on my Google Maps. After that, I could easily go to his place simply by following the direction to that starred area.

Or take for instance the time we went to Goa from Mumbai in a couple of vehicles. When you’re on a road trip in 3-4 vehicles, it is never possible to drive close to each other all the time, especially when the journey is around 700 km long! Amit simply forwarded us the Google Maps directions (KML files) to our phones and we were all in-sync with each other, making sure all of us were on the same (and correct) National Highway.

After that it was just a matter of checking our phones now and then to find out who was where and who was falling behind and who had stopped to puke. It’s even more useful when you have to stop after dark for dinner on a Highway/Expressway that you’re not familiar with at one of those many roadside dhabas, and you want to eat together with all your friends from the other vehicles.

Yes, (almost) gone now are the days of incessantly calling up your friends, “Where are youuuu now? And now? And now?” every 5 minutes or so.

I find this whole GPS based social networking service especially useful when it comes to work. Since I’ve known most of my colleagues for more than three years now, we’re pretty close to each other. So I have most of my colleagues on Google Latitude. And that’s a really good thing. If there is a project deadline coming up or need a team member to be present for a conference call with client and they haven’t reached office yet, all I have to do is look at my phone and I’ll know if they’ve almost reached office or not.

Sometimes, just one look at my map and I’ll know what’s going on in office – “Oh that guy had gone for a meeting at that client’s office. I hope the meeting is going on well”, “WTF, that girl said she’s sick today so she couldn’t come in. Then why the hell is she currently at a competitor’s office building? There are no hospitals there!”, “OMG, that girl and that guy are together at that bar at this time of the night! I didn’t even know they were seeing each other!” and so on…

But the best part is, it can save your ass too. You wake up late one day. You look at your phone frantically. Google Latitude. Boss is still at his place. Phew. You close your eyes for a few more minutes. Boss is on his way to office and almost there – you jump out of bed immediately and rush to work without even brushing your teeth.


By the way, do not just randomly add friends or accept invitations on Latitude if you don’t know the sender properly. It is NOT Facebook or Twitter, where people merely stalks your status updates and photos. On Latitude, people will know exactly where you are all the time (a function which you can switch off of course), and such information can be harmful to you if it falls in the wrong hands.

In the US and elsewhere, there are already many cases of houses being robbed after burglars got information that the owners were away, through the very owner’s twitter updates! Imagine what such people could do if they have your Latitude info? *sends a shiver down one’s spine*

But like I said earlier, latitude is really fun if you use it properly. There are advantages and disadvantages too. Like, if you are planning to give a friend a surprise birthday party at his house, you can easily know when he is approaching home using latitude. However, he too can check his latitude and wonder why the hell all his friends are at his house with his wife.

Like I said. It’s fun :)

There was even one time when I was shopping at Oberoi Mall, and I casually checked latitude to see which friends were nearby. One of my friends was in the very same mall! So I decided to surprise her, but the problem was, there were around 4 floors in the huge mall complex, so I didn’t know which floor she was on.

I got it wrong the first time. Fortunately, I guessed it right the second time. Snuck up behind her, placed my palm around her eyes and said, “Guess who?” Fortunately, she guessed it right the eighth time.


Here is another such “Mother of God!” moment. One day, I dropped my niece who was staying over at my place for the weekend at the train station. I then went to meet another friend, and my niece and I ended up crossing each other at the exact freaking location! I will describe that in true 9gag style.

Yup, true story bro. It kinda freaked me out! All in all, GPS has really made my life more interesting than ever, and I wonder what the future holds for this feature…

Cheers, and have a great weekend. I’ll be in LONAVALA again for this weekend, having *le good time*, so GPS me there :D


TS Khupchong said...

Comment first nan.....Good post! :-)

Mizohican said...

Thank you sir :-)

Hlua said...

I va ziak ngaihnawm thiam thei ve aw. GPS chu i hmang tangkai thei viau dawn a nih chu. Ka awmna Champhaiah chuan a har deuh, Samsung Galaxy SII hmangin i thuziak chhiar chungin ka lo zir ve a.... a manhla khawp ang.

H.Vangchhia said...

Ka tan tak hian IT CHANGE MY WORLD tih hi nemngheh nawn mawlh2 tlak a ni hial awm e.

Kei ang em em a direction hre theilo hi an tlem viau maithei. Chet chhuah hlekin compass leh map ka en thiam hlauh zawk a, ka bo rei thinlo mai pawh a! GPS an awm chiah chu bo miah lovin duhna hmun hmunah car hmangin ka tlan ve ta par par mai le.

Kan nu pawh a hahdam phah lol.

dolly dollz said...

Ka bialpa atan chuan GPS hman nachang hre lo ka duh... :-D
I ziak ngaihnawm thiam thin e

Alejendro said...

Hepa hi chuan a hmang tangkai over a lawm. Mi in a len dawn paw'n rawng an bawl tawh em tih te thlengin a en thei vek.. :-P

Mizohican said...

@ Hlua: Thanx... :) Mizoram ka rawn haw pawh khan gprs/gps chu a chak ve tawh ngawt a lawm. Hei ai in a tha zel anga, a tangkaina te pawh mi in kan hriat belh zel chu ka beisei.

@ H.Vangchhia: Nia, driving direction instruction te tan pawh a tha khawp mai. Network a awm phawt chuan eng khawpui ah pawh a bo theih tawh loh ti i la, ka sawi sual ka ringlo. :)

@ dolly dollz: hahahaaa i va han chimawm thin tak e aw... :D Nang hi i ni GPS hmanga ka spy chak ber chu :D

@ Alejandro: Lolz. Chawhmeh tleng pawn GPS khan a detect vek thei a ni lawmni :P

Alejendro said...

Dry Day phei chuan Old Monk an kawlna hi a en kual thin. A pawimawh tawp.

mnowluck said...

Best cartoon show haha..