Wednesday, March 18, 2009

a gps walkabout

Hello again everyone. My mobility instructor Ray and I just went on an impromptu GPS excursion. I now have routes recorded to the corner store from home as well as to the bus stop. I just have to do a little cleaning up of extra landmarks. We learned quite a bit about the Trekkor Breeze today. Ray and I both thought it would be worth-while to record my impressions for others.

For the most part, the Breeze will announce landmarks when you're fairly close to them. However, the ten-meter radius of error is large enough to make for some possible missed turns and could certainly put you in your neighbour's driveway. It will often announce things a fair number of steps before you come to them or after you've passed them. Humanware was quite serious when it says that you should be basically familiar with the area you're in. For instance, I know that I'm the second house down from the nearest corner. From that corner, I go up two driveways on my right side and that one will be my parents' home. If I didn't know that, the Breeze would be absolutely useless at guiding me back home. Don't expect it to be all that precise with street numbers. It says I'm near a street address that Ray couldn't even spot from where we were. There may not even be a 5789 Montevideo Road. I think there may be something wrong with the backtracking feature when you use it to reverse your steps. It's probably meant more for when you're in exploration mode rather than on a route. We tried it and it got me pretty well back to where we started alright. However, it failed to notify me of its success. In fact, it started to think we were moving farther and farther away the longer we stood still at the correct place.

One thing to always bear in mind is that the Breeze won't always know precisely where you are at all times. When you hear it make a slight dong sound and announce the street it thinks you're on, that's when it's updating the fix it has on where you are. People may find that annoying but the more I hear it, the more I can trust its directions. The satelites are constantly moving above you and sometimes, you have to just wait in one spot for it to zero in on you again. It can sometimes seriously lose track of you. One thing I thought we should do was to see how it would direct me back home from the corner store. It doesn't know about the shortcut path that I use to get there so I knew it would take me on a completely unfamiliar route. Ray knew the area enough so that I could trust we wouldn't be out there for ages. He too was curious to see how the GPS would do in such a crisis when one were hopelessly turned about and lost. I told it to guide me home and it warned me that it might guide us on unfamiliar paths. Ray's first impression wasn't a good one as it sent me onto what he thought was a crazy and much longer route. However, we decided to follow it and off we went. It did a pretty good job of telling me enough about intersections and crossings. However, there were several instances when it lost track of how far I had gotten. The Breeze certainly did take us on an unfamiliar and circuitous walk home. One thing people should do is to wait around a minute or two at any intersections to give the Breeze a chance to be certain of where you are if you're in unfamiliar surroundings. Otherwise, it might still have an older instruction as the current one and that could send you in a wrong direction. If you go off-route, it will eventually correct you once it figures out where you are again. As long as you do that, the Breeze should get you to your destination. However, it may not notice that it has done so right away. We had to wait around a minute and a half before it finally figured out that we were home and announced that fact. Make certain you're not in any kind of hurry when you travel with the Breeze and will be relying on its guidance rather than your personal familiarity with a given route. You've really got to have good mobility skills in terms of cane technique and safety. Having said all that, it did indeed manage to get me back home again. The Breeze is certainly going to be good to have as a guide of last appeal in such situations as long as I'm not in a rush. You just have to get a good mental grasp on its limitations and quirks. It was certainly interesting to try something totally new like that. Once it's gotten somewhat warmer out there, I'll probably go out for more walks with the Breeze and perhaps do a bit of cautious exploration.

Rogers, the internet provider I currently use, has just decided to throw another curve my way. As of the middle of next month, my Internet phone service will be discontinued. As a result, since I'm going to be moving in another five or six months, I'm going to be unexpectedly thrust into the world of cellphones. Now folks, I don't really want any of these advanced features like texting and web access. I just want a simple cell phone which is relatively inexpensive and easy to destinguish the keys on. I'm just going to use it for receiving calls and making the odd call. Mostly, I'll be using Skype. I have the jaws scripts for Skype4 installed and have purchased a subscription which gives me free calls anywhere in North America. All I couldn't ultimately get was an online number for people to call. Everything else is splendid with Skype but they don't have online numbers which people can call available in Canada. What a pain! Snarl! That's the only reason I'm getting a cellphone although it will likely come in handy if I do more travelling. Also, I'll be able to take it when I move and keep the new number. Having said all that, if anybody has recommendations about good simple cellphones which don't cost hundreds and where I can use a "pay as you go" plan, I'd be much abliged to you for sharing them.


Heather said...

I wonder if an accessible neighbourhood could be created with RFID tags and a reader?

Anonymous said...

The Barry Kirkey Radio Show!!!!