The Garmin map DRM annoys me

Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 01:30pm

Tomorrow I’m going for a ride with a friend, so earlier in the week I set about installing the Garmin map software so I could load the route into my GPS unit. I had it installed previously, but that was before I built myself a new computer.

So over I went to the Garmin site to download the latest versions of the USB drivers, the firmware update tool, and MapSource, the mapping program. Installing these went fine until I installed the Australian maps that I had bought at the start of the year.

It wouldn’t let me unlock them. Specifically it wouldn’t let me retrieve the previous unlock codes.

The version of MapSource that I was using was 6.14.1 and the unlock procedure was different than I remmembered it. Instead of giving me an option to restore the unlock codes from a backup file, the only option was to unlock online.

After installing a Garmin plugin in Firefox the unlock web page was able to detect my GPS unit and, according to the instructions, all I needed to do was enter the serial number of the unit and click ‘Retrieve Unlocks’.

No: “Unable to unlock map(s) for unit”

Why didn’t that work? The maps are still loaded on the unit (but not viewable in MapSource) and when I login to the Garmin site it correctly tells me what unit I have AND what maps are installed/unlocked.

Maybe they’re not competent to support multiple browsers so I try Internet Explorer. Still unable to unlock so that’s not the problem.

How about the support section of their site? I find a question about unlocking after a computer crash which seems promising. However the answer talks about an unlock wizard, more like what I remember from last time, which appears to be have been replaced by the web based process.

As I was planning to take a route drawn up in Bikely and my unit still has the maps installed there was no urgency in viewing them in MapSoruce, so I decided to submit a question. Which does lead to a browser support problem.

I first tried to submit my question in Firefox. But clicking submit didn’t seem to have any effect. The page that is supposed to “Access and manage your correspondence with Product Support” showed nothing. Had the question been submitted? Aparently not as when I tried it in Internet Explorer I got a success screen. But it still wasn’t being shown back to me as correspondence.

It is now 48 hours later and I hadn’t heard anything so I decided to try something different. Revert back to the version of MapSource that I had previously used (I had kept the 6.13.4 installer) and see what the unlock process is like there.

It was what I remembered and this time there was the option to use my backup file and the maps were unlocked. Yay! I then reinstalled 6.14.1 and the maps stayed unlocked. Another yay!

So what was good about this:

  • Garmin does update their software

But there is more bad:

  • The new web based process didn’t work
  • The support info was out of date
  • The support site didn’t work properly in Firefox ( if you were wondering)
  • The support site works more in Internet Explorer (7.0.6001) but maybe not entirely
  • If they did receive my question, then two business days is more than enough for at least an acknowledgement that they received it

I have it working now, but who knows if others have the same problems and if they are, then how would Garmin know if the channel for asking for help doesn’t seem to work?

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