Sunday, December 27, 2009

GPS, TomTom's and Ice Skating to Wichita Falls

I left early this morning to visit my parents near Amarillo. The trip from Dallas to Amarillo is my most frequently driven road. And it's probably one of the most boring stretches of highway ever created.

For Christmas I bought my wife a TomTom GPS navigation system. I like TomTom's because they are customizable in fun ways. Like you can record your own instructions. You just record commands like, "turn right", "turn left", "yards", "one hundred", "two hundred", etc. Then it will play your own recorded instructions at the appropriate times. It's quite cool. There are pre-recorded voices that you can download with their software. Some of the better ones (like Homer Simpson) you have to pay a small fee for. Or you can upload your custom recordings if you think they are good enough (to share with the masses). You can also change backgrounds, change car icons, and some other things.

I have my wife's TomTom setup to speak German. I bought refurbished TomTom's at a pretty good price, but I'm a little miffed because the ad said free map upgrades, but somewhere in small print it says something about "no free upgrades with refurbished products". The "FREE MAP UPGRADE" is, of course, in big letters. If someone from TomTom stumbles across my wee little blog they can allow me a way to bypass this and let me get one free map update for free. It's only fair.

Today, on our way to Amarillo, we basically had to slalom and skate from Dallas to Wichita Falls because of the blizzard two days ago. I figured for sure they'd have the roads cleared by now, but I was mistaken. The roads were somewhat clear, but there were large patches of ice that had to be slid through or avoided. I don't like driving in these conditions.

Just before entering Wichita Falls, they had the road completely shutdown before an overpass while road crews tried to clear the bridge. I thought it would be a short stop. After half an hour and no progress I turned on the TomTom and looked for detours. I took an exit and voila, the TomTom re-routed me. I was kicking myself for not doing it 30 minutes earlier.

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