Monday, October 16, 2006

Making the Drive In "Real Time"

(This really is about'll just take me a minute to seque there.)

Now, I swear I don't mean to bring up the weather because your an idiot (although if you go by the odds...), but it's to make a point:

I'm sure you've heard these terms: Wind chill, Humidity Index, "Real Feel," etc.

Remember when the temperature used to be just, you know, the temperature? The thermometer ruled supreme. Whatever that little tube of red said was the temperatute.

Now, the expanding or condensing of liquids is no longer adequate to tell us if it's cold, hot or somewhere in between. I guess meterologist don't think we're smart enough...

...but I think we can figure it out. I mean, they report the temperature, the wind speed and the humitidy, we should be able to figure it out from there.

In case you've been in a box for the past 10 years or so, I'll go over the facts your weather person assumes you don't know:

If it's cold, it sucks...but not as much as if it's cold and windy. Then it sucks more.
If it's hot, that also sucks...but if it's hot and humid, well then you're really screwed.
Ironically, I do think there's one area that could use this "psychological adjustment" approach:

It's those computerized mapping systems. From Google Maps, to Mapblast to high-end GPS systems, these all tell you the distance you'll travel and the approximate amount of time it will take...

...but I don't think that's enough.

They should add variables that will make the trip feel longer or shorter, like these:

The Idiot Effect - This is the amount of extra time your trip will feel like it takes based on the stupidity of the other drivers. Like the number of people that ride in the right lane until the very last minute and then cut across to the exit. Or the percentage of drivers that will ignore turning lanes, opting instead to come to a complete stop in traffic before making a turn.

With this adjustment, a trip through suburban sprawl might take 20 minutes, but with the Idiot Effect (the "I.E.(tm)") it will feel like an hour and a half.

There's also...

The Asshole Effect - Similar to the "I.E.," the "A.E.(tm)" is the amount of extra time your trip will feel like it takes based on people cruising in the left lane going only, say, 2 miles-per-hour faster than the cars in the right lane. Or those jerks that act like they didn't see the flashing yellow arrow and wait to merge until the very last minute. This can multiple the actual time by a factor of 1.5 to 400, and may explain the shorter life expectancies in urban areas like L.A. or DC.

But it's not all bad news. There's also the "Auto Commercial Effect" (or "ACE Time (tm)" for short). This is when you're on a huge, wide road in the middle of a clear weeknight (like I-270 outside of DC) and you can actually move along like the cars on those "closed courses." Even with some attempt to stay near the speed limit, the trip just feels 25 to 50% shorter.

There you have it, my suggestions mapping services could use to help make your travel decisions better informed. They could even have little icons for each effect.

I'll leave the "A.E." icon to your imagination...

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