Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
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Friday, 9 May 2008

To get there, go by way of punctuation

SATNAV - PART TWO The technology may be imperfect but the achievement is huge. Nevertheless familiarity is the key to getting the best out of the system. Especially in France.

I was aiming for Villeneuve-sur-Lot. By the time I'd keyed in "Villen-" the predictive software had come up with Villeneuve. I accepted this, inserted a space and put in the "s" of "sur". Another prediction offered just two Villeneuve variations. Now anyone who knows France is well aware there are lots of Villeneuves. It took me a long time to realise that the machine was waiting for a hyphen.

Having spent most of my working life picking up such punctuative pedanticisms I might have been expected to appreciate this nicety. But the map I was using in conjunction with the satnav (when navigating always use all forms of assistance) spelled out the town name without hyphens.

I have since checked my big Michelin road atlas and hyphens are in. Which means it wasn't the technology that failed, rather the human cartographer who labelled the map. Also all this happened in France. I suspect that any reasonably Cartesian Frenchman would claim to be able to recognise V-s-L pronounced with and without hyphens.

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