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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Do NOT buy a Matterport camera!

14 Feb 2018

As a geek, I love technology. I also love photography (especially digital photography.) Last year, I made a “buyer beware” purchase far too quickly, and purchased a $4,000 Matterport camera, along with the $1,500 “hosting” package (which is REQUIRED to use the camera!) from Matterport.com. *HUUUGE MISTAKE*!! The potential is great, but the cost and customer service is AWFUL!

Matterport - Matterport.com

In fact, I can’t recall ever making such a big mistake in a purchase before.

Yes, it is completely MY fault for ASSuming that the camera and service would be a good purchase. Instead, I owe more than $5,500 on a credit card, because I fell for Matterport‘s marketing scheme to sell photography and scanning services to real estate agents. And it was a scam.

I have a great website, with examples and information. I’ve sent out a lot of emails and contacted a lot of real estate agents in and around Orange County, CA (a fairly rich area) – including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, parts of Anaheim and Santa Ana, and I have yet to sell a SINGLE “scan” job to ANYONE. Why? I wish I could say, but every agent says basically the same thing “It’s cool technology, but we’re just going to use our regular photographer.”

To top it off, I just uploaded several 360 scans from the $4,000 camera, had them processed on Matterport.com, and got AWFUL resolution when I downloaded the images. When I reached out to customer service (multiple times), the excuse I got from Matterport was basically ‘too bad, go away’. Read the email below for yourself. Not to mention, Matterport has been selling vaporware in the form of “Google Street View” functionality. It’s been nearly a year, and still nothing. BUSINESSES (NOT real estate agents) want 3D walk-thrus of their businesses to put on Google Maps, but Matterport has still failed to deliver.

I could go on and on, but the sad truth is, I got sucked in by Matterport’s marketing and thought I could make a small side-business. It hasn’t worked. Matterport is a failure. HUGE waste of time and money, and disappointing all the way around. BEWARE! Do NOT buy a Matterport camera! Buy one of the Google Street View recommended cameras instead – www.google.com/streetview/publish

Matterport “Customer Service” email below:

Why is the resolution of the downloaded 360 image …

Why is the resolution of the downloaded 360 image SO LOW compared to the workshop view?

In workshop view, if I look at 360 View 12, the image is crystal clear, and exactly what I expect. But when I take a 360 snapshot from that image and download it, it is LOW resolution – no where NEAR what I see on the screen in the Workshop view.


Hi Dave,

Basically, the lowest resolution of the “equirectangular” image from Pro2 without detail loss is 134.2 MP, but users won’t be allowed to download a 134.2 MP equirectangular image as it is huge.   I have add this as a feature request to offer this resolution in the future.

All 360º Snapshots will download as JPEGs in 4096 x 2048 pixels, roughly 1 to 3 MB depending on the image content.  We recommend the 2D snapshot resolution, which might make more sense for a user point of view than the360 view/ equirectangular image.


Hi,

Thanks for the reply, but UGH! Matterport is so ridiculous! A $4,000 camera – that I own – but I’m not allowed to download the full-size image?!

Can you please send the up tier for further review.

I followed the instructions for “Download a 360º Snapshot”, but the resolution is still awful. I should have used a smartphone, as the resolution is better.


Hi Dave,

Thanks for reaching out with your concern and feedback.  I certainly understand where you’re coming from.  There are a couple reasons why we don’t provide the full resolution panos.  The first is basically the pano downloader was created in order to help people who were interested in uploading a pano to Facebook as a better teaser than a static 2D image.  Because that was the problem we were trying to solve, resolution was not an issue since it was really only meant for the FB newsfeed.  Our goal was to meet the demanding requesting a specific feature, which the current resolution does.

The other problem with providing a higher resolution version is we would be opening up the possibility for other companies to copy the model data.  With the full res pano and everything in the MatterPak bundle, it would make it that much easier for other companies to recreate the Space data on their servers.

I hope that helps better explain why we didn’t and can’t provide the high res images.  Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Other links:

BEWARE of Matterport

BEWARE of Matterport

 
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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Reviews, Technology

 

Review: Becker Tire in Orange, CA

21 Dec 2017

Becker Tire in Orange, CA | DaveTavres.comBecker Tire in Orange, CA | DaveTavres.comBecker Tire

1100 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92867 – (714) 633-1780 – www.BeckerTire.net

Last month I took a trip to the Barstow area with a group of people, and we drove down a dirt, where I ended up getting a flat tire. I live in Orange County, CA – that’s over 100 miles away from me. And it was Sunday. So my tire repair shop options were limited.

One of the only places open was “Frankie Tires”. I ended up buying four new tires. Once I got back to the freeway and out of traffic, I was 20+ minutes away and there was a noticeable ‘bouncing’ that I had never experienced before, but I thought the ‘bouncing’ was just the poor roads out there. Until I figured out that it wasn’t.

Fast-forward to getting back home to Orange, CA. I finally decided that I needed to pay AGAIN to get the wheels balanced. I called several shops in my area and many places want $20+ per wheel. Then I called Becker Tire in Orange, on Tustin Ave. They said it would be just $10, which is much more reasonable, considering the work involved in balancing a wheel.

Lug Nut Lock Key | DaveTavres.comOnce they got my car in the shop and on the rack, they came and asked me for the ‘lug nut lock key’ – the same key that Frankie’s used to take all my wheels off and replace the tires. I said that it should be back where Frankie’s found it, in the trunk, with the jack. But… nope. It wasn’t there! And there’s no easy way to get them off without the key. (They are meant to stop thieves from stealing your rims… but who wants to steal stock rims on a VW Jetta?!)

Now, since the lug nut locks are numerous in design, it’s unlikely that Becker (or anyone) would have them. So, for the moment, I Becker Tire couldn’t help me, as they couldn’t take the wheels off. UGH! They were nice and helpful, but I was frustrated that I’d have to now figure out how to get the stupid locking lug bolts off!

Well today, I went back to Becker tire – with a lug nut lock key (AND four new lug bolts I got at O’Reilly Auto Parts,) – and Becker made quick work of balancing all four of the wheels. Yes – ALL FOUR were out of balance! Ultimately, they charged me less than I expected and Rusty, the manager, was again friendly and helpful. They might end up being ‘my local shop’ for future work on my Jetta and some stuff on the DeLorean too.

In short – support Becker Tire in Orange. They did a good job, were friendly and I think they’ll give you good service too.

Becker Tire in Orange, CA | DaveTavres.com

 
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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Reviews

 

GoDaddy sucks again…

18 Nov 2017

I don’t know why I expect different results when I have to deal with GoDaddy.com – even though they’ve proven time and time and time again that they do NOT care about customer service. And today was just another example of poor customer service, and an overall failure of the people answering the phones AND a supervisor.

Here’s what happened: I got a domain renewal email, sent to an address I haven’t used for *YEARS*, about a domain that I haven’t used, touched, worked on for years. I searched my password vaults for any hint of information connected to this ancient email address, or the domain, or GoDaddy – and found nothing.

The first thing I did is to check the WHOIS record, and sure enough – all three contacts (technical, administrative, and Registrant) listed my name, a very old mailing address, and the ancient email address. The domain is for a small non-profit that I use to serve on the Board for, as well as doing web / internet / technology for, so I knew how this was connected, but I have no memory of what I ended up doing with the domain in question.

GoDaddy sucks again... | DaveTavres.comThe next thing I did is to try to sign into GoDaddy.com to make sure that a) there wasn’t a credit card on file that would get charged again, or b) to update the information so that the nonprofit was correctly listed on the account. Here’s where the frustration started. I entered the ancient email address – where the domain renewal email was sent to – and the domain that was listed IN that email, but kept getting this error: "Invalid domain and email combination" – so I was finally forced to call GoDaddy.

So, at 8:06am PST, on a SATURDAY morning, I called GoDaddy, just to get the automated system that told me it would be *19 MINUTES* before someone could help me. Yikes. Can you imagine if this was during the middle of the day on a weekday?! So, I choose the ‘automated callback’ option. And about 20 minutes later, I get the callback.

The first woman is as friendly as I would expect, having to work at GoDaddy, but the first several comments and questions are NOT anything related to "How can I help you?" Instead, it’s "What’s your call-in PIN?" and when I say I don’t have that, she says she can’t help me unless I have that PIN. Then she proceeds to send me a password reset to the account that is connected to the phone number I’m calling in on – but that is NOT the account I’m calling about. Shockingly, she doesn’t ask about my phone number, or what the problem is – she just sends a password reset.

I ask her to just listen to my problem so that she can understand what the issue is – to which she responds that she can’t help me unless she can get into my account. I explain that I’m not calling about the account connected to the phone number that I’m calling from, and I again ask if she would just listen to my issue. And SERIOUSLY, she again insists that she won’t be able to help me without the PIN, and asks if I got the password reset email. UGH!!*!*!*!*** *MORON!*

I ignore her ignorance, and start explaining that I got a renewal email to an ancient email address, etc. And again, she says she can’t help me. That was the end of MY patients dealing with an idiot, so I ask for a supervisor – to which she responds that a supervisor won’t take the call unless they can get into the account. WHAT?!?!

*NOTE TO ANYONE READING THIS* ***DO NOT USE GODADDY!!!!***

MOVE TO GOOGLE DOMAINS OR **ANYONE** ELSE!!!!!!

GoDaddy sucks, yet again! | DaveTavres.com

She puts me on hold, and several minutes later a different woman gets on the call and announces herself as a supervisor. BUT, instead of starting out with "How can I help you?" She BEGINS with "I’ll need your PIN to access your account.

So, I try to explain the same thing I explained to the first woman. And now this supervisor is playing the same broken record. I BEG her to please just ask for the email address or domain name from the renewal email – but she REFUSES, explaining that they ‘only have a white screen in front of them with a box asking for a PIN’ and there’s nothing she can help me with. Unbelievable!! I tell her that I’ve been in software and web development since the early 1990s, and I KNOW they have the ability to look up domain names, but she insists that they can’t help without a PIN. So I push her, asking ‘How do you help people who don’t have their PIN, and don’t have access to the email?’ – to which she responds with the typical time-wasting-answer that GoDaddy is famous for, and says I’ll need to go through the ID verification process, which can take up to 3 business days.

Still, no help – from a GODADDY SUPERVISOR – and my frustration is boiling over now. This is NOT a difficult issue to figure out. But now GoDaddy has proven once again that they (mostly) employ idiots, and that GoDaddy apparently doesn’t train their employees on basic customer service.

So, I hang up, and call right back. BUT, since I know that they are too stupid to think on their own, and rely solely on their caller ID, I block my outgoing number and call back. This time I only have to wait for 14 minutes. And when the "customer service" person answers, I get a get this time – who starts out the same way… NOT with "How can I help you?" but, "Can I get the phone number on your account?" To which I say, "No, I’m not giving you a phone number, I want you to ask me what the problem is first." Then he explains that he can’t do anything with an account without the PIN. *!)*@%&!)%$!@(*%!%**)$

DON'T USE GODADDY!!! | DaveTavres.com

So, I repeat the same story about the renewal email, and I tell him that the previous two IDIOTS that I talked to refused to help – including a supervisor. Then he asks, "Can I get the domain and email address from the renewal email?" ****WOW!!!!**** Someone with a brain!

So this guy starts typing and searching… and while he’s typing, I’m venting about the previous two morons I talked to, and told him that customer service like that is why I stopped supporting GoDaddy – and why I flatly refuse to help anyone who uses GoDaddy.

When I’m done with my rant / venting, he has finished searching and confirms what I had already done, that all three of the contacts in the WHOIS record are for my ancient email address. And he APOLOGETICALLY says that he can’t help, since I don’t have / can’t get access to the GoDaddy account, even though the WHOIS info has my email on it. As a software and web geek, I fully understand and I start to fawn over him for actually being intelligent and trying to help. He surmises the same thing I already had – that when I transferred the domain over to the non-profit (ages ago), they never updated the WHOIS contacts – BUT – he can send a password reset to the user on the GoDaddy account, which should prompt them to call in – AND – he is able to leave a note on the account attached to that domain, explaining what we had just talked about. WHEW!

I thank him profusely for actually helping me, and for being smarter than the previous moron and the idiot supervisor. So I ask if I can talk to a supervisor to give him kudos for giving GOOD customer service. He happily accepts my thanks, and puts me on hold.

A few minutes later, the supervisor picks up the call. And yes, you probably already guessed… it’s the idiot supervisor I talked to 20 minutes early! I literally laughed-out-loud and said "Oh, it’s you." Then I went on to give him every compliment I could – as well as doing my best to backhand her for being a moron, and showing her that an underling was smarter than she was on how to search for a domain.

I finished by telling her that I hope she learned something from the experience, but I was quite sure that she wouldn’t, but I hoped that the guy who actually gave good customer service WOULD see that kudos come through. I’ll never know.

In closing, ***DON’T USE GODADDY!!!!*** I’ve had at least a dozen problems over the years with my PERSONAL domains / web hosting / files / email – plus COUNTLESS problems when handling issues for clients. GoDaddy is NOT to be trusted. They do NOT care about customers. They do their best to confuse, confound, frustrate, and just take your money. So please, PLEASE, *PLEASE*, use ANYONE else for your domain registration, web hosting, and email hosting. And just don’t even bother trying to use any of their other services. In the long run, you (or your tech person) will be hating life. And if you don’t believe me, just do a Google search for "GoDaddy sucks".

 
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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Reviews, Technology

 

Wow Google Maps…

13 Oct 2017

I’ve never noticed this before… or maybe it’s a new feature that Google recently added.

Click each of the links below to look at different satellite views of the Los Angeles area:

 

What’s missing? Cars on the freeways! I can’t believe if missed this before! I looked all over the freeways around LA, and except for a few anomalies, it looks like Google has removed vehicles from the roads! Considering that they have a bazillion photos (not a real number, it’s just obvious that they have a huge number of pics) of all kinds of terrain and roadways, that must be a pretty amazing algorithm to automate the removal of vehicles from the roads.

Wow Google Maps... | DaveTavres.com

 
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Posted in Software, Technology, Websites

 

Review: Petersen Automotive Museum

13 Oct 2017

Review: Petersen Automotive Museum | DaveTavres.com**To Petersen Automotive Museum: If you do see this, do NOT respond to *ME* – respond to all of the people who try to come to the museum who have to park blocks away**

Review: Petersen Automotive Museum - FAIL | DaveTavres.comOn Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at about 11:15a, we got to the Petersen Automotive Museum – with our internet-purchased tickets in hand – but were turned away from the parking garage. On a WEDNESDAY at 11 am. How is that possible? Because the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t hold parking for patrons of the museum. Apparently, they don’t even hold enough parking spaces for people who have purchased regular admission tickets AND Vault tour tickets the day before arriving.

Instead, the Petersen Automotive Museum wants museum visitors to park… well, anywhere you can find a spot on the street. However, there is very little street parking near the museum. After spending $125 million on the renovation, they chose to ignore paying customers so that they could rent out their parking to nearby office buildings.

On this day, there wasn’t a big car show, or movie screening, or special guest. This was a normal Wednesday morning. And even though the Petersen Automotive Museum has 3+ parking levels, they sadly forgot WHY they have a parking garage in the first place – for the people who want to go to the museum! And for those who say this is a “public parking garage”, I see no signs that say that, and I the parking tickets have Petersen Automotive Museum logo printed right on them. And if it IS a “public parking garage”, the Petersen Automotive Museum needs learn how to negotiate with the city to get enough parking to serve their customers.

Petersen Automotive Museum parking is ATROCIOUS!! | DaveTavres.comDuring our Vault tour, there was a total of 8 visitors. Most of the group had to be 60+ years old, but NONE of the other visitors were able to park in the MUSEUM PARKING GARAGE, because they garage was ‘full’, so they had to walk several blocks to get there. And this isn’t a tiny garage either. A guestimate, using Google Earth images of the garage, is that there are over 700 parking spaces in the garage – but apparently there aren’t enough for paying customers.

Yes, I completely understand that there is money to be made by renting parking spots to nearby businesses – but when you inconvenience the people who want to come visit YOUR business, you’ve completely missed the point of customer service.

How can the Petersen Automotive Museum fix this problem?

A few incredibly simple ideas come to mind:

  1. Look at the number of tickets and Vault tours that have been purchased online and hold AT LEAST that many parking spots.
  2. Look at the data from their daily ticket purchases to come up with an educated guess based on how many tickets are usually sold on a Wednesday (or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, etc.) and hold that number of parking spaces for Museum visitors.
  3. Sell parking tickets online along with the admission and Vault tour tickets – then hold that number of parking spaces (yes, I know this is repetitive, but if the Petersen Automotive Museum ever does see this, they may not understand the simplicity of these ideas without pointing out the obvious.)
  4. Install parking counters like MANY malls in Southern California, to display how many spaces are actually available, since we saw SEVERAL open parking spots as we walked through the garage to get to the entrance.

 

I’ve been to the Petersen Automotive Museum many times and I’ve never been so upset with them. Most people drive a long way to get to the Petersen, so having to hunt for parking blocks away from the Museum just exacerbates the frustration of LA traffic. In the future, I’ll be sure to share this story with anyone who is even thinking about visiting the Museum, being sure to tell them that it’s not worth the trouble. Just go to one of the many other car museums and experience in the Los Angeles area.

 
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Posted in Automotive, Business, Customer Service, Reviews, Reviews