Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Fri 12 Nov 2010 05:09
We have two very disappointing problems.
One is the mapping software on our Garmin Nuvo 550 which we bought, after very considerable research, especially for this trip.  We have no problems with the hardware which seems to be living up to our expectations; it is the Garmin mapping software where the problem lies.  The unit was advertised as coming complete with mapping software for all of Western Europe.  When I registered it online with Garmin, I was advised that "upgrades were available" and I elected to take the upgrades. I was then advised that there was insufficient room on the internal card for upgrades of all of Europe and was then given the option of selecting a country.  I took "United Kingdom and Ireland" and, in practice, the software for this region proved to be excellent.
Now we are in Spain we find that the mapping software for this region is primitive and useless for navigation. None of the new roads is shown, no minor roads are shown and what roads are shown are "stylised" and not representative of the true course of the road.  The result is that the car's position is hardly ever on the road as marked, but displaced to one side. This isn't really a problem for us as we have Michelin paper maps and are sufficiently "old style" navigators to be perfectly at home with paper products.  The problem is a feeling of anger at having been duped by Garmin to the extent that I consider they are in violation of the UK Trades Descriptions Act.  Fortunately, we shall soon be in Morocco and using the Tracks 4 Africa electronic maps which other travellers have described as "brilliant".
The second problem is this Mailasail Web Diary, the rationale for choosing it being the ability to send messages by Satellite Phone at times when no Wi-Fi or Internet service was available. We wanted to have the ability to send short messages on a daily basis so that our families would know where we were and that we were safe.  The process of setting up the computers for the software and for using the Sat phone was laborious in the extreme but we were helped through it by Mailasail, albeit at some considerable phone costs.  We were persuaded by Mailasail that it would be advantageous to upgrade our Windows Vista operating system to Windows 7 but this turned into a nightmare in Jenny's case with considerable loss of invaluable data by PC World and loss of computer availability for the 10 days that PC World took to screw things up.
We ran successful tests at home and all seemed to be well. However, last night, having been away from a satisfactory source of Internet for two days, we decided to use the Sat Phone.  We were parked out in the open on the edge of an olive plantation with the antenna having a clear view of the sky and the connection was made instantaneously.  However, transmission proceeded very slowly and the Mailasail server eventually stalled after 6-7 minutes, by which I had wasted $10 achieving nothing. If this is to be the norm we shall not be using this service by Sat phone much longer. I'm very glad that we adopted a "belt and braces" approach and set up the alternative blog site on getjealous.com, which works superbly and is far superior to the Mailasail Web Diary, the only problem being that we can't send messages by Sat Phone.
There are times when I wonder if we should have just left the computers at home and just disappeared into Africa with map and compass.