Head Smack: Technology and Working Smarter


Technology is a given
Technology is a given (Photo credit: Scott McLeod)

In case anyone hasn’t clued in on this little known fact, I’m a tech junky.  I don’t have to own the latest gizmo (though it’d be cool if I could), but I try to know about it.  If I don’t, the hubby is sure to know it.  If I was to, I don’t know, try to identify the cause of such an addiction I can point many fingers.

If I wanted to point fingers, but since I don’t!

… *HUGE GRIN* …

When the internet started being popular I, like many of my generation, hopped on the bandwagon and sure enough I am today a web and graphic designer.  I specialize in the web, play with new software and frankly, I get my geek on each time I boot up my computer.  However, there is no way on this planet for me or one person to be familiar with 100% of the capabilities of any gadget, hardware, software, or internet site in known existence, but not from a lack of trying.

But, with that said, certain sites should be a given that users know how to use at least 80 to 90% of all the features.  For example, Google Maps.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’ve been using their site and their apps for years.  I particularly love street view for two reasons.  The first is:  It’s cool, admit it, you think it is too.  The second is:  It’s invaluable to writers.

Image representing Google Earth as depicted in...
Image by None via CrunchBase

Google Earth is similar with the exception that its way cooler, but that’s another topic for another geeky day.  Back to the maps, being able to use Street View to find the best sight line from the Smithsonian to the White House or to see if you could (assuming your eye sight if freaking awesome or binoculars) and what buildings or items may be between point A and B is quite handy.  I’ve also used this site to find locations of where my characters are from or may run to.  I have one in particular who lives in the backwoods and he, plus friends with families, go into hiding into the mountains.  I needed to find a small town that fit that description.  Hello Rankin, TN.

These are examples of how I’ve used this nifty tool in my writing for the last few years, plus I’ve used it in my personal life to determine how to get from point A to point B, to plan driving time, etc.  I do this for several reasons, the first being I’m a bit of a control freak and I like to know how I’m getting somewhere before I get in the car and two, I don’t trust my Garmin.  That happened after last year when it decided to have me drive home in the middle of a nasty storm in the worst route it could have chosen.  Frankly I think the software needs a third option to the route selections.  Fastest, Shortest, the Route that Won’t Let You Kill Me.  But then that’s my opinion.

So, I now look and investigate before I drive.  Safety first after all.  In my humble opinion, I use Google Maps to the full extent of it’s purpose.

Or… so I thought.

Last week I realized that in planning to take into custody the target in CK in the middle of New York using the subway system that I, technically, shouldn’t and couldn’t leave it vague.  Any reader who knows New York would never forgive me and I would never forgive myself.  I had two options, I could either fix it later and keep writing or fix it now and return to writing when I had more information.

I choose option B, unfortunately, I decided to take the long way to finding what I needed to know.  Instead of going first to Google Maps, I started researching New York and the Subway system.  I spent a few hours doing this research then I made my way to the map to try and figure out by mouse how he’d get from work to home and back again using the subway.

/doh
/doh (Photo credit: striatic)

Took me about an hour and a half to get irritated at loosing my place on the damn map and decided to use the directions aspect of the site to help me keep track.  Imagine my surprise to find out that not only could I designate using the subway, but the amount of details given to me about the subway system including transfers and the stations in between.

*cue head smack*

I believe this is a case of working harder not smarter.

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