Friday, May 1, 2009

The Guinea Pig Report: Jill the GPS

I'm going to lay my cards on the table. Here it is. We don't like each other. There. I've said it.

I'm not talking about my husband and me. I'm talking about the GPS. The Garmin Nuvi comes with a wide variety of voices you can choose to give you directions as you drive. Since this device belongs to my husband Chris, he got to pick. Each voice has a name assigned to it and he chose "Jill". There are several others with a myriad of accents, male and female. I voted for the Australian guy named Biff, but Chris held strong and so Jill it is.

The thing about Jill is, she loves Chris. She's there to help him at every turn. When he comes to a crossroads, Jill sees him through it. (Please tell me these puns aren't wasted on you)

But let me tell you. She's a control freak. When I'm driving, I like to decide the route. Oh sure, we start off okay. She tells me which way to go coming out of the driveway and I think "How cute. She thinks I don't know."

By the time I'm leaving the subdivision she starts getting a little pushy. "In point 2 miles, turn right."

And occasionally I like to go off the beaten path. And that's when the gloves come off. She says turn right. I decide that the steering wheel is in my hands so I turn left. And then she says it:


Remember that snotty girl in high school that you despised? The one who knew she was soooo much better than you because she had the cool jeans and yours were Walmart brand? Apparently she's now doing voice overs for Garmin. She doesn't just say the word. She says it with a six pack of attitude. Yep, she's all nicey nice as long as you do things her way.

Now if Biff and I were driving? I'd be enjoying the open road with a friendly pal and the confidence that I'll get where I need to go.

Cool factors about the Garmin Nuvi are that you can load music and pictures into it. You can also choose your vehicle icon which includes a motorcycle, fighter jet, or alien spaceship. And it's super easy to navigate (last pun, I promise)

I really love that you can download new maps and even use it in another country. That would have come in handy on our honeymoon in Italy. Ever try to ask for directions in another language when all you know is "how much does this cost" and "do you accept visa?"

Would I buy another one? Heck yeah! But if I see Jill at the class reunion, I'm not telling her that.

The Guinea Pig Report: iPhone, u-Phone, we-all-Phone 4 iPhones

The third anniversary is the leather anniversary. I got him a leather jacket, wallet, and belt. Honestly, what else would there be to give? Unless we were into some unmentionable activities… which we’re not just for the record.

My hubby splurged on 2 iPhones (with leather cases). One for him, of course. Now, not being an electronic guru, I just didn’t know if I even cared about owning one of these things. I had always been fascinated by people who owned one and could stretch an image of their dog with just their fingertips. But I figured the fascination ended there.

Not so. Once I downloaded my first “app”. We iPhone people call them “apps” instead of “applications”. It’s our little jargon. What’s that? Your cell phone doesn’t have apps? Pity.

And it’s just that that gets you. You start with a free taste. I could stay up all night searching for new app freebees. For Christmas, I told everyone to give me iTunes gift cards so I could get another fix. I was hooked. More than hooked. I was on a gadget high so big I thought I’d never come down. I’d exhausted all the cool free ones. Shazam being my favorite. You can hold up your iPhone in a noisy Chili’s restaurant and it can still tell you what song is playing over the speakers, even if you can’t make it out yourself. Friggin’ amazing!!!

I’ve got GPS, restaurant critics, a carpenter’s level, a guitar, cute kittens with stupid misspelled captions, even an app that locates my husband right at my fingertips! Heck, I think there’s even one that controls the weather if I can just find where I put it. Yes, folks this was a love affair that would last a lifetime.


“Oh [expletive]!” says my husband from the other room. He dropped my iPhone moving it to the charger one day and shattered the glass front.

“No problem” I’m thinking. No doubt this is a 2-dollar part and is the last thing to go on and the first thing to come off in a repair. What could this possibly cost?

We take my shattered iPhone to the Apple Store with as much care as if we were bringing a wounded puppy to the vet.

“I’m sorry” says Eric, the 17 year old kid with the grommet in his earlobe. “You’ll have to make an appointment with one of our geniuses” as he checks out another teen customer who’s taking her own picture with a MAC.
Now folks, when entering a store in the mall, one doesn’t expect to hear the words ‘you’ll have to make an appointment’ but hey, they have geniuses! Fantastic! “Which ones are the geniuses?” I ask. I kept looking for someone with a pipe and a sweater vest and Einstein-esque hair but they all pretty much looked like Eric.

We make an appointment for the next day. They just couldn’t squeeze us in today. We come back and check in at our appointment time and still wait another 30 minutes to be seen by a ‘genius’.

He took one look at my shattered little friend and told us it would cost 350 dollars. 350 DOLLARS!!! I chuckled back with an old sit-com line. “I’m sorry. For a minute there I thought you said it would cost 350 dollars.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Yessiree! No matter what logic I laid at his feet about this being a cheap part and easy to repair, he wouldn’t budge. Not even the fact that we only paid $300 for the device itself moved him. “Apple policy” he cites.

I thought “Fine. I can live with the shattered glass front. Now it has character!” The fact was it did still operate perfectly well. So what if I had to extract tiny shards of glass out of my ear after each phone call?

After a week, we found a plan B. It was an unauthorized repair site where they could fix it for a mere 100 dollars. However the warranty would be officially voided. But in my opinion, if something else happens to this baby, I’m still not going to spend the $350 to get it fixed. The risk is only if a factory defect shows up suddenly. But so far, the gamble has paid off.

After this experience, I still love my iPhone but I handle it as if it were a test tube of plutonium. Oh, and for the record? I don’t think they’re really geniuses. I don’t even think they could make it onto Jeopardy.