UK Units and gpsDashboard

Here in the UK, we live in a strange a mix of imperial (English) and metric units.  We buy fruit and veg by the kilo but ask someone their weight, it’s in stones and pounds.  When it’s cold, it’s “a few degrees” (C) but when it’s hot, it’s “in the 80s” (F).  You can buy pints of milk but in the supermarket, you’ll pick up 2 litres.  No one gets too bothered about it, (except readers of The Daily Mail who regularly get worked up about the loss of imperial units).

Distance and speed are still resolutely in miles and mph, but height is usually in metres.  So you can have this strange anomaly where you are driving at 60 mph with 20 miles to your destination on a road at 800 m.

And this is where my problem arose – I was using gpsDashboard+ on my Palm Pre Plus which allows you to toggle between miles/feet or km/metre.  But if I chose imperial, my distance and speed are good, but height is in feet.  What I wanted was imperial distance and speed but metric height.

I contacted the author of gpsDashboard+, Brad Graber, at 2.15 on Monday afternoon.  By 3pm he’d make the changes and he re-submitted gpsDashboard+ to Palm later that day.  At 7.30 on Wednesday morning, I download the updated version to my Pre and gpsDashboard+ now has a special UK units setting just for me!

I’m grateful to Brad for the change but the speed from which it went from “I’ve got a problem” to “Problem fixed” was amazing, especially when you hear how long it takes apps to get updated in certain other app stores.  Great job Brad, and great job Palm.  Fantastic service.


  1. says

    That super-schizophrenic mix between Imperial and Metric has got to be incredibly confusing at times. Here in the U.S., a number of years ago there was a big push to get everyone to go metric, but then over time the push just seemed to fizzle out. For the most part most people still use the Imperial system. I personally think the Imperial system makes more sense from a human standpoint — the measurement of a foot is roughly the length of the human foot, an inch is roughly the length of a finger joint, etc.

    Stamped on consumer packaging we’ve usually got both metric and Imperial units. People that buy tools usually end up with both Imperial and Metric sockets and wrenches — obviously great for the tool manufacturers since it potentially doubles the number of sockets and wrenches sold.

  2. Andrew says

    Surprisingly, it’s not particularly confusing. You just adapt to the most handy unit to use. It’s not as if you are actually do any maths with them….it’s more of an imagining in your head. Everyone has their own little rules of thumb anyway – divide lbs by 2 to get kilos, feet by three to get metres and so on.

    For sure, if I’m doing any carpentry or stuff that needs calculation, it’s metric all the way.