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A Business Traveler's Love-Hate Relationship with GPS

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This story appears in the October 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

My father-in-law ran his own business for more than 40 years, roaming the Eastern Seaboard and beyond visiting candy companies. Back then, he could read a map as easily as a menu. But now he uses his GPS every time he gets in a car, even to get to the airport in his hometown. "I'm used to it," he says.

That's fine--until it doesn't work. On a recent overseas trip, my GPS led me through a tangle of dirt roads, each slightly less passable than the one before, until I ground to a halt in a field. I'd asked it for the shortest distance from here to there, and that's the route it was determined to take--without differentiating between a four-lane blacktop and a goat path. When I was in Seattle recently, my GPS must have needed a jolt of caffeine, because it couldn't catch up to where I was. Driving on Pike Street, I heard it urging me to turn left … onto Pike Street. By trying to follow it even as it was following me, I ended up miles out of my way and late for an important meeting.

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