Monday, October 1, 2012

Also, Carefully Refold That Map

Here's some sobering advice about the dangers of relying on smartphone maps out in the desert, where it really matters what road you take.

The short version is, just don't rely on online maps if there's any chance that taking the wrong road could leave you stranded in the wilderness to die of heat stroke, dehydration, or being eaten by bears.

Shockingly, mapping software is not always totally accurate, and in the wrong situation, that can be a very bad thing. As the article points out, once you get far enough away from civilization, you can't even call up your phone maps to try to work out a better option, because you'll lose your cell signal! Thanks for steering me towards my doom and then abandoning me, phone.

I haven't actually been in the wilderness in years, and have no plans to go until I'm fleeing our killer robot overlords, but this is a good reminder that when I go, I need to make sure to take a printed map.

Speaking of killer robots, xkcd's "what if?" feature argues that robots are a long way from being able to produce an apocalypse. A telling quote:

What people don't appreciate, when they picture Terminator-style automatons striding triumphantly across a mountain of human skulls, is how hard it is to keep your footing on something as unstable as a mountain of human skulls.

So that's good...I guess...although there goes my excuse for looking askance at programmable microwave ovens. I just don't trust those things.

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