Home Computer: Redundancy looms for the office atlas: Jo McAndrew, an Independent secretary, finds it useful at work

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The Independent Online
IF YOUR destination always lies in the centre crease of the atlas, then AutoRoute Express may be the answer. A computer atlas devoid of all paper, pages and pondering, writes Jo McAndrew.

According to the instruction booklet, 'AutoRoute Express is not only easy to use and helpful on the road: it also saves you time, money and frustration by finding the route which most closely matches your requirements'. This turns out to be true, even in a busy office.

All I need is a PC, a little geographical understanding, not much technical know-how, and a newspaper office full of atlas-happy people who spend a great deal of time travelling around the country.

In the past I have spent much time trying to locate an atlas for an impatient hack who just simply doesn't have the time to hang around working out how to get from A to B (or so he tells me); but now, at the touch of a button, my computer atlas does the job for me.

AutoRoute Express will plan the journey, show the way on a map and provide a detailed list of directions. This sounds easy - and it is. It only takes minutes to produce a variety of routes to one destination. First-time recipients of computer-generated routes are usually sceptical, asking 'Are you sure?' They will add: 'I've never done that journey in that sort of time.' Then I proudly hand over the printed map - and they often return impressed.

One problem I foresee is when I send someone via a route calculated by AutoRoute that is full of roadworks, it will inevitably be all my fault. AutoRoute has a facility which allows you to avoid roads affected by repairs, but you have to be aware of these beforehand.

I planned a journey for a colleague covering the Christchurch by-election and AutoRoute duly advised him to travel along the M3. He pointed out that he'd quite like to avoid Dongas and Twyford Down, so we selected an alternative route.

The office atlas now sits gathering dust at the back of the bookshelf. But one thing our AutoRoute-friendly reporters have not realised, after submitting mileage expenses, is that their claims can now be checked at the touch of a button]

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