Well it’s June again, and summer is here – well it should be! I’m sitting writing this outside the Hostal Galicia in La Marina in a comfortable twenty something degrees with black rain clouds overhead!I think I know why it’s about to rain – friends of ours from the UK arrived to stay with us for a week and so I have decided to blame them for the weather – it’s all their fault OK!
Last night I was thinking about the technology used in getting them from the UK over to our place in Algorfa (every time I tell customers from Gran Alacant that we live in Algorfa they say “where’s that?” – it’s about 25 mins down the coast, 10 mins inland from Guardarmar – you really should get out more). Anyway back to the technology (blame the clouds for my mood!)
When we started to talk about their trip we needed, of course, to look at flight details, we used a website called www.skyscanner.net – something that I am sure most of you will have used before though I was not aware that that you can now access the site via an iPhone app. It’s a great little tool that enables you to carry around the whole database of flight details in your pocket.
We found the right flights for them – would you believe that it was 500 euros cheaper for them to fly to Madrid and hire a car to drive down here?! Anyway, they decided that it would be nice to see a bit of the city and the drive down isn’t too arduous so they went that way. They then needed to know how to get from Madrid to our finca in the country outside Algorfa, this involved more technology! I sent the GPS co-ordinates to them – they were so easy to find, I just went to http://maps.google.co.uk and once I had found the exact location of the finca it was just a matter of right clicking it and “dropping a pin” – that then gave me the exact GPS co-ordinates for our house.
Our friends Chris, Linda and their kids Joe and Ella were able to put this information into their satnav system in Madrid (well let’s be honest, Joe, Chris’s 12 year old son probably did it for him!) and it plotted a route direct to us.
Both Chris and I have iPhones, so we used another great iPhone application to enable us to track his progress through the country, Google Latitude – www.google.co.uk/latitude – allows friends to see where each other is by sharing the contentious “location data” that has been in the news recently. This is the information that your iPhone stores about where you have been and where you are now using its internal GPS receiver.
Google Latitude plots graphically the location of your friends on a map that is regularly updated, so we could actually see our friends progress as they drove down the country. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that they seemed to be stationary for about 30 minutes, so we assumed that they had stopped for a ‘comfort break’. We later found out that they had been stopped by the Police for speeding, so they arrived at our house 150 euros poorer! Having never been there before and having been given only GPS co-ordinates, they were able to navigate 100’s of miles across an unfamiliar country using something that can fit in the palm of your hand!
Ok, I know that all of this was possible before the invention of the Internet, before hand held smart phones and even before mobile phones existed ( – yes, I am easily old enough to remember that time!) However it would have involved maps, map reading, extremely accurate planning and patience. I’m not advocating that technology is the answer to everything but, used for the right application, with the right technology it can make life sooooo much simpler.