Monday, 22 October 2012

Wow, "time flies like a banana", so the saying goes...

Well... it's been a hell of a while since I updated this blog, so in keeping with the general theme of it, I suppose it's about time for another rant!

Route planners.

Uh-huh, I hear you mutter, as you sagely nod your head, hopefully in sympathy, not in amusement...!

OK, we all use route planners of one form or another. Either by asking someone how you get from where you are, to where you want to be (White Van man: "OI! MATE! Where's the 'Nag's Head'?!" Passer-by with a dry sense of humour: "Um... on top of her neck?"), or by looking at a map (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was upside down. It was also in bloody Flemish! Stop gloating!), or by using a SatNav system ("Whaddya mean, drive up that bleedin' Goat Track?!"). Some of us even use the internet, to get a rough idea what the route might look like, before we set off, or to guestimate how long a drive might take (thus stifling the back-seat-complainers and their "Are we theeeeeeere yet?" bleating)... but it all comes down to knowing whre you are, and where you want to be.

So, here I am, trying to use the best of the online journey planners, helpfully supplied by the Department for Transport, at and the bloody thing's broken. You can get to the route planner page, but then it comes to a grinding halt, as if someone forgot to fill the fuel tank on the web server that's running the show there. It's infuriating, because I've yet to find another that's so comprehensively effective at getting the routing right, the fuel costs near as dammit spot on, and the timings bang on correct. The others, yeah, they might get the routing right, but they cannot, or will not, give you options like allowing you to specify maximum speeds to use (e.g., 50 mph for engine/fuel efficiency), or MPG costs, and whatnot. Transport Direct does.

Or at least did Transport Direct, until today.

Now, I fully understand that a government-run departments services tend to slow down a bit at the weekend, what with a lack of staffing, but when the complaint system is held apparently on the same server that's gone tits up, it's a tad bloody difficult to get the attention of the webmaster to fix the gruddam* thing.

None of the other planners that I can find, of course, now meet my requirements. they can only supply routing, not the bells and whistles that I desire.

Not even the Satnav stuff (I HATE the invented word 'App'. It's like a little burp. And they are NOT sodding 'Applications'. They're ****ing software packages!!!) I use on my android phone, either the Google Maps Navigator (comes as standard now), or the NavFree (get this - it's FREE!) package that I use that when there's little or no 3G/3.5G Vodafone service (which is happening more and more. It's like a reverse service plan, they seem to be shutting down mobile phone towers, not setting up more. As a result, they are NOT getting my business again next year. I'll be going 3 instead: They've yet to let me down), can do what the Transport Direct route planner does.

So. the good news: I know where I am. I Know where I want to go. I *DO* know where my towel is (I'm a Hoopy Frood**, guys!)...

Bad news: I haven't a sodding clue how long the drive is going to take. I drive a Series 3 Land Rover these days, it's rather slower than modern cars, and as a result, I also don't know how much fuel I'm likely to use.

So, all in all, I'm bleedin' well pissed off with Transport Direct.

How DARE they fall over when I wanna use the system?!

How DARE they become so indispensable that I have nowhere else to turn to, in order to get the precise information that I want?

Ahem. yep, I'm so ticked off with them I wanna stamp my feet and have a screaming tantrum like a little girl, which should suit the Pro-Nanny State folks a bit, I suppose... They see to enjoy such dramas, from what I've seen...!

Seriously, though, when the heck did the government decide that it was going to make available such a useful and actually well-thought-out tool as the Transport Direct website? It's bloody outrageous - the government is supposed to be as completely useless as a fart in a hurricane, and shouldn't be able to produce anything that actually *is* useful or effective!

Also, why the hell did no-one else think to match, or even better, this service?

More to the point... when the hell are they going to fix it so it works again?!


* Gruddam. Contrived and fictional curse word used in the Judge Dredd comic owned and published by Rebellion Developments.

** Hoopy Frood: A fictional term to describe someone alert and aware who is a force to be reckoned with. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a series of books by Douglas Adams, towels are described as "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have," an example usage being to ward off the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. The fictitious time/space traveller and Guide Researcher Ford Prefect uses the idiom "a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is" to mean someone generally alert and aware. Some of Adams's fans seized on this idea and now use towels as a sign of devotion to the Hitchhiker books, radio series, TV series, website, etc. Towel Day is held each year in memory of Adams. ((C) Wikipedia)