Last year I joined the swelling ranks of Smartphone users. My device belongs to the BlackBerry or BB clan. There are many things I like about the BB but my favorite feature is simply that my employer picks up the tab. Every month I get a corporate guilt report listing my BB charges and every month I tell myself there is no freaking way I would pay such bills with my own money. If I had to pay for the BB I would gladly toss it aside and revert to my normal uncommunicative self. I don’t need to be constantly in touch and frankly people who do are sick puppies that should be put down.
My favorite Smartphone apps are GPS driven online maps. I’ve always been a map freak. When I was child I taped National Geographic maps on my bedroom walls. In college, when my drug soaked classmates were decorating with rock band posters, I was framing maps of the mid-Atlantic ridge and the real dark side of the Moon. Even now, given a choice between lame art or antique maps I prefer maps. Online maps and applications like Google Earth represent all that is good about civilization.
The same cannot be said for phone companies!
The BB has a built-in GPS receiver. When I first learned of this my heart was all-a-twitter. No longer would I have to carry around my ancient Garmin Etrex. Don’t get me wrong I love my Etrex, My Etrex is a simple rock solid device that functions as designed. It has served me for a decade without complaints, upgrades or failures. It has never let me down! How many ten-year old computers are you still running? Much as I love my Etrex it’s not what the cool kids are GPS’ing with these days. I was looking forward to putting Etrex out to stud,, (winning race horses have the best vertebrate retirement plans),, and getting with the Smartphone program.
Then I learned that most Smartphones cannot function as standalone GPS units. To receive public GPS signals on a Verizon BB you need to be connected to the cell phone network and your application must be blessed by Verizon. What the fuck? Are you shitting me? Do you mean to tell me I have to pay a phone bill to access free GPS signals that I can still receive – for free – on my ten-year old Etrex. This heinous and vile rip-off ignites a firestorm of rage in my heart. Water-boarding is to humane for Verizon executives!
I will not be retiring my Etrex until all GPS enabled Smartphones can pick up, display and record GPS positions without being connected to phone networks.