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Still more technofailure


Yesterday morning, the plan was to meet Gabrielle, Ethan, and Phoebe at the Getty Villa.

Gabrielle had gotten us tickets (which you need to have to get into the parking lot), which she sent me in the form of a PDF file. So right around the time when I needed to get going in order to get there on time, I attempted to print them on Jay & Holly's printer.

But when I was upgrading my operating system a couple weeks ago, I was low on disk space so I didn't install printer drivers for any printers other than the one I have at home. So I went to the Canon website, found the printer driver, downloaded it, and ran the installer.

Which hung.

I tried again; same result.

Eventually, I realized it would be faster to copy the ticket file to Jay's laptop and print from there. But I couldn't find his laptop. Finally I called him and he told me where it was. I started the process of transferring the file to his machine, and I also called Gabrielle to let her know that I was going to be half an hour late.

She suggested that we just go to the Getty Center instead; no parking tickets needed. Sounded good to me.

So I got in the car, fired up Google Maps on my iPhone, and drove off. I got to the right area, took the exit Google Maps told me to take (even though it was an exit before the Getty Center Drive exit), and prepared to turn onto the appropriate road--

Which didn't exist.

There just plain wasn't a road there.

I continued on for a little ways, looking for a place to turn around. Found a side street that didn't have a "NO U-TURNS!" sign on it, pulled over, used the new Drop A Pin feature in Google Maps, and asked it to navigate me to the Getty.

It showed me a somewhat convoluted route winding through the hills, but it looked like it would be a little quicker than heading back to the freeway and continuing to the next exit.

So I started following the directions. I took a right, another right, a left. I passed a "NO OUTLET" sign, which made me nervous. I took another right. The next instruction said "Turn left to stay on [whatever] Street."

But there was no way to turn left, or indeed in any other direction, because I was at a dead end.

I turned around; I checked the street signs; I looked at the map; I looked at satellite view, which showed the street that I was on continuing on.

Then I called Gabrielle again, told her what was up, and went back to the freeway.

Of course when I continued on to the next exit, it was trivially easy to get to the Getty parking lot, with well-marked signs.

I ended up 45 minutes late. G and E and P were relaxed and cheerful, so it was fine, and I managed to relax and enjoy the day, and we had a nice time wandering around the Getty in the sunshine and talking.

But I am so going to file some bugs against Google Maps when I get back to work on Monday.

I gather the locals in that area are annoyed about tourists driving through their neighborhood to get to the Getty, so it's possible that they've blocked off some streets or something and the Maps data is just out of date.

Interestingly, it's only the iPhone version of Maps that has the problem. If I look at Maps in my browser on my computer, it shows the correct route. It also shows the correct location; the iPhone version has the wrong geolocation for the address. And the browser version also correctly shows MacCulloch Drive as being a dead end, and recognizes that there isn't any obvious way to turn right from North Church Lane onto Beverly Park Drive.

This is not the first time that the iPhone version of Maps has given me worse information than the browser version. I'm hoping that can be fixed.


Much as I love Google Maps' interface, its data is frequently unhelpfully to hilariously to disastrously wrong. Enough so that I now always confirm directions in MapQuest for any destination I haven't visited before. I prefer Google Maps' interface and still find it useful as a memory aid for places I've been. I've just been hosed by them too many times now; and while you've got an iPhone and can re-route en route, my only recourse is to start calling people who might be at home in easy reach of their computers.

I know you're not the person to complain to; but I don't know who is. I don't have a precise list of things which need to be fixed, though I can mention some off the cuff; and beyond that I can describe other general problems (though not specific instances of them).

I prefer Google Maps' interface (though others are catching up); I like the "one stop shopping" aspect of combining search with maps; I can foresee times Street View will be useful to me (though so far it's just been cool). But reliability (or lack thereof) trumps everything when it comes to mapping.

... ok, I should admit that my *other* recourse is to keep paper maps in the car. Though they'll probably have the same outdated issues with southern Jersey.

Maybe the real problem here is New Jersey....

That's fascinating, and unfortunate. I pretty much never have problems with Google Maps data; except for these two instances, and perhaps two or three others over the course of the past couple years, I've pretty much always found it to be very accurate and extremely useful. I use it all the time, and it would never have occurred to me to check it against another mapping app. (Especially because I have the vague impression that most mapping apps get their data from the same sources, but I could be totally wrong about that.)

And even the problems I was describing in this entry were only problems with the iPhone version; the in-browser version gave me accurate data.

I'm guessing there may be particular regions (and it sounds like southern NJ is one of them) where the data is more likely to be inaccurate than other regions.... Definitely too bad.

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