When I was a kid I swore that no matter how old I got I would never use the phrase, "…back in my day…." Just typing out those words makes me feel old and crotchety.
The problem is that now that I have some years on me the phrase has become more relevant. For instance, when I used to drive 40 miles to work through Washington D.C. beltway traffic we didn't have things like GPS navigation systems, and traffic reports came to us on the radio (remember radio?).
Back in THOSE days a driver really had to pay attention not only to the road conditions immediately around him, he had to anticipate those condition many miles ahead.
I recall thinking that if it were 6:40 PM then the bulk of the traffic on US 495's outer ring will have eased some between Tyson's Corner and US 66, but traffic on westbound 66 would be a nightmare. It might be best to get off at Tyson's Corner and take SR 123 to Vienna then on to 66 and into Manassas, where I lived at the time. If I planned my route carefully and if luck was with me, I might make it home in under 2 hours. It was enough to make anyone crotchety.
Ah, back in my day.
Nowadays we do have GPS navigators, and we get our traffic reports real time via mobile Internet connections and applications that flag where the hotspots are. In fact, there are some applications that will consider current and historical traffic flow, current accident reports, and construction then plot the fastest route to our destination. All we have to do is turn when the computer voice tells us to.
I'm not so sure I'm a fan of that much technological wonderment. If we are not paying attention to the road and anticipating conditions then we are more prone to accidents. Our minds need to be occupied so we look for distractions, like cell phones, and texting.
On the other hand, having our route laid out and directed for us means we are less likely to do something silly, like turning the wrong way into one way traffic. That is, of course, if your navigation device can be trusted.
Anyway, whether you are for or against having a computerized copilot, knowing where the current traffic jams are can certainly help get you where you need to go.
And wouldn't you know it, there's an iPhone app for that.
INRIX Traffic! is a free app that points out where the slow moving and no moving traffic is and lets you plan alternate routes.
What's really nice is Traffic!'s prediction feature, where it tries to give you a view of where the congestion will be up to an hour from your current time. I haven't had the time to see how accurate this feature it, but even if it is loosely accurate it would be a boon to any commuter.
Traffic! has a nice clean interface and pretty much does what it says it does.
The data is provided by crowd sourcing, which means that users add data for the benefit of all users. Unfortunately, iPhone users can't report problems yet. That feature should be coming out in a future update, but as it is Traffic! is pretty accurate.
I go through many apps, and I am constantly removing stuff I don't need from my iPhone. Traffic! is one of those few apps I will keep. I think you will too.
Traffic! is a free app at the iTunes Store.
OK, so you've found an alternate route around the traffic bottlenecks and you are tooling along without a care in the world and the next thing you know you see some flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You glance at your speedometer and, sure enough, you were at least 10mph over the posted speed limit.
Dang it! Looks like you won't be getting home in record time after all.
It surely would be nice if there was a way to know that there was a speed trap on your alternate route.
As you might have guessed, there's an iPhone app for that, too.
Trapster lists all of the speed trap, red light cameras, and other ticket inducing hot spots in your area. Like Traffic!, Trapster's data is crowd sourced and you can add your two cents to the collective if you see 5-0 setting up a trap.
I read an article recently where the D.C. police chief complained that using apps like Trapster was "cowardly."
I think D.C.'s top cop got it all wrong. The idea of setting up a speed trap is to get people to abide by the posted speed limits and not kill each other, and people do slow down if they know cops are watching. If the D.C., or any police department is smart they'd use apps like Trapster and set up traps in known problem areas. That way, whether the traps are manned or not, speeders will slow down in anticipation of a trap and lives will be saved.
Anyway, Trapster works and it's free.
And now for something completely different, yet in keeping with the traffic motif. How would you like to see video reviews of some of the best and most expensive cars in the world that includes lots of technical info and is liberally sprinkled with bikini clad and well endowed eye candy?
Yeah, me too. That's why I'm pointing you to Bikini Driving School - Good Clean Fun.
These are really, um, interesting vids where the first portion showcases some of the worlds hottest cars, and the last part showcases a shapely, bikini wearing model posing around the hot car.
The first portion is really cool, the speaker (they vary from episode to episode) talks, in detail, about the featured vehicle while the camera focuses on different angles. Then, you get a driver's view of the car going through its paces, and that, in my opinion, is enough to make the podcast worth watching.
Then there are the girls. All of them are beautiful, young, and know how to fill a bikini.
This is a podcast you should definitely not watch while driving, but do watch it. Fast, exotic cars, hot, exotic women. I want to work with the folks who make these podcasts.
There are 15 episodes of lust worthy Bikini Driving School. I guess I'm not so old and crotchety after all.
That's a wrap for this week.
More free stuff at the iTunes Store below, with direct links.