Monday, July 26, 2010

A smart phone moment

It is strange encountering friends without smartphones, since it is hard to imagine living without one, though for them, it is hard to imagine what the fuss is about. Today, I had to get my muffler fixed, so looked up places last night (picked meineke because of Mr. George Foreman's recommendation) but didn't bother to get directions, just e-mailed the link to my phone. Used phone GPS to get here. Needed a place to hang out for a few hours while car getting fixed. Mechanic recommended the greasy diner across the street in an otherwise desolate suburban wasteland of car parts shops and discount auto repair. Google Maps though showed a gourmet grocery a few blocks away (a suburban Zabar's) and Yelp turned up suburban outposts of Jackson Hole (the Manhattan burger joint manque) and Bathlazar Bakery, and a nice 10 minute walk to a rather pleasant downtown w/ comfortable suburban Starbucks. A nice contrast to the many hours I've spent in greasy diners awaiting car repairs, in the pre-smart phone age (pre-cell phone age even).

I also have to give a shout out to the latest google maps functionality I noticed, which is that it selectively labels restaurants, businesses on the map based I am assuming on some variant of its page rank algorithm for search results. This means that looking at the map in a crowded manhattan street, it uses its limits viewing space to label only the restaurants you most likely want to know about.

For example, turned away at Ippudo's Ramen by the 2 hour wait list, it was easy to see that Momofuku Ssam bar was only 3 blocks away, google maps knowing to label that restaurant rather than the dozen or so forgettable restaurants that were closer.

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