Google turn by turn navigation in UK on Milestone

This post summarizes my first experiences with Google maps turn by turn navigation. Please note that turn by turn is not supported in UK, not even as beta!

I took for a ride a hacked version of US Google maps application running on Motorola Milestone. It runs very smooth, you can use all Google maps power when searching, including post code search, which can’t be done using Motonav. That’s a great plus!

I have played with different destinations and every time Google was able to give me very reasonable routes – another advantage over Motonav, which tends to force me into congested streets in town centres. Google navigation reacted very fast to all mistakes on the road with almost immediate route recalculations. So far, so good.

After about 20 minutes of cruising in neighbourhood I understood why Google decided to block Maps Mavigation in UK – it cannot navigate here. Literally. It’s impossible to drive using voice commands given by the navigation – it lost some turns and remaining ones were told when I was in the middle of cross roads when I had no chances of turning. To get the directions right, I had to look on the screen all the time and even though navigation wasn’t easy since there are no icons displayed to show what to do next. The map itself is easly readble though.
You may also forget about roundabout notifications – with Google you don’t take second exit, you just drive straight through cross roads. It’s far from we all got used to.

I wish I could finish my list of complains now, but there are still two thing I must mention – both small but annoying. According to Google Navigation most of the time you drive on unknown road, which is quite strange as road names are correctly displayed on map.
Last quirk I’ve noticed is the most terrible voice I ever heard in any navigation (and I have tested quite a lot of them). Google decided to use Text-to-speech synthesis, which isn’t very good. The voice is absolutely artificial, it reminded me early TTSs I used to play with ten years ago. And I think most of them knew how to read “road” – definitely it should not be read as “hawl”.

I will be waiting for new updates to Google Navigation. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Google will turn its Navigation in really usable product. But I think I will stay with Garmin for next year or two.

Importing phonebook to Android

It’s been almost a week since I got Motorola Milestone. It’s an Android based phone and I absolutly love it. Actually I’m using it to write this post. And since it’s running on an open source platform, it will provide many hours of fixing and twicking.

First quirk you’ll notice soon after booting your new toy is that you can’t import your contacts from old mobile. Android do not accept contacts sent by bluetooth nor can read them from sim card. So to copy your contacts you need a pc (or mac if you are gay or female).
I was able to make my old sony-ericsson k750 send all contacts directly to my outlook. This wasn’t what I really wanted – I hoped for a file, but still it was a step in good direction.
Gmail can import contacts from various formats, including csv and this was a format I’ve chosen when exporting from outlook (file -> export -> follow the wizard).
If you think it was too simple, you’re right. Somewhere during the process all phone numbers lost + sign from the country code. Still… 140 +s to edit is better than 140 contacts to add ;)

Manual virus on facebook

Couple year’s ago I received a pretty funny joke – Albanian Manual Virus, which went something like:


You have just received an Albanian virus. Since we are not so technologically advanced in Albania, this is a MANUAL virus. Please delete all the files on your hard disk yourself and send this mail to everyone you know.

Thank you very much for collaboration.

And again reality surpassed joke – here’s an example of real-world manual virus I found on facebook:
Seems to work, at the moment this group has 22694 members…

Using Google Forms for feedback gathering

For some time now Google is running Google Forms service which allows anyone to create web forms using extremely simple creator. Just log in to your google account, go to documents to try yourself:

Then follow on-screen instruction, there’s nothing that can cause any trouble to anyone. When you save the form, you will get email with two URLs – one to the form itself, second one to Google Spreadsheet which to which all data typed to your form will be saved. Clean and easy!

I’ve used Google Forms to gather  feedback from my recent presentations and I’m more than happy with results. I’ve created anonymous forms with no required fields not to put any pressure on responders. The turn-over was higher than expected, I got both positive and negative responses. Some people used “other comment” field to provide their email.

My tips for using Google forms for feedback gathering:

  • use open questions
  • ask for positive and negative sides separately “what did you like… / what didn’t you like…”
  • if you had several separable parts of presentation, ask for each part separately to make the answers more straight forward
  • do not make fields required – you will see that most people will fill all fields without you pushing them!
  • make the survey anonymous
  • add “other comments” field

Good luck! :)