I Tried ParkWhiz

ParkWhiz Says it Helps Make Parking Easy

Picture taken from ParkWhiz's site. This is the parking pass.

Picture taken from ParkWhiz’s site. This is the parking pass.

Recently, I had occasion to drive into New York City with my sister, Loren, my nephew Tyler and my niece, Maddie. My sister told me she would be staying in the City for a while and, so, of course, I told her to stay over the night before and I would drive her in. It is only a two hour drive for me, and parking in NYC, if you don’t know, is extremely difficult and expensive. My sister, in return, suggested that I see a show with the 3 of them. We ended up seeing Stomp (it was fabulous.)

But I digress.

I Need to Park in NYC

The point of this blog post is not to tell you about my trip, it is to tell you about ParkWhiz. I needed to find parking near the Orpheum Theatre. Knowing the issues, my sister suggested I get online and find the closest parking. As I looked, I came across a website called ParkWhiz.

I Find ParkWhiz

Seeing the link for the website reminded me that I had heard of an app that helps with parking. When I looked at the website, I realized that the app is ParkWhiz. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Worst, I don’t have a spot. Best, my life is easy (or maybe easier.)

 

I Use the App

I downloaded the app. Once I installed it, I searched for Orpheum Theatre. ParkWhiz showed me a map with a bunch of prices marked in various locations, as well as a mark where the Theatre is located. The spot it recommended as the best location was the same place the Orpheum recommends.

All I had to do was touch the spot I wanted. The app recognized from my search for Orpheum that I was going to see a show. It offered me show times and reserved an hour before and an hour after. It then told me my fee would be $28, which I paid in advance.

The app offered to put the parking information on my calendar, so I didn’t even have to remember the address. This made it easy for me to simply click on my calendar and get driving instructions using a different app.

I Experience Parking

About an hour before it was time for me to park, I received an alert from the app that it was almost time to park. When I arrived, I told the parking attendant I had used ParkWhiz, he said show the folks on the way out. When it was time for me to leave, the first person was a bit confused, but he went and got help. The second person knew exactly what it was, showed the first guy what to do, and we were all set. (This didn’t take long.) A third person brought my car, I tipped him, and off we went.

I left before my parking time was up, but I was alerted to the fact that the time was about to be up.

Negatives

I have a few concerns. First, you cannot change your time frame. Right now, the only option is to cancel and reschedule. This means I would have to pay twice and wait for a refund. Not convenient. Also, on a busy day, I could end up completely losing my spot.

I also, don’t see what happens if I use less time. It looks like I am just out of luck. This means I have to guess and could end up paying more than I need to. In my case, I ended up arriving 30 minutes early and leaving 30 minutes early, so it wasn’t a big deal. Obviously, in my case, the time frame wasn’t an exact thing. I suppose at busier times of day, when parking lots get full, it matters much more that you arrive and leave on time.

There is potential for a problem if you don’t reserve enough time either. The website notes that you would just pay the extra, and the fee might be higher. I get that. But, there is, the website states, a risk of fines or getting towed! This is another part of the issue with not being able to adjust your time. If you could simply add more time, assuming space is available, of course, then that would resolve the problem.

What I Think

All-in-all, I am happy to recommend ParkWhiz. The app worked well. I am sure a lot of the experience depends on the parking garage itself, but the idea is a good one. Especially in a major city like NYC, or in any city when parking is likely to be at a premium.

Weak WiFi in Your House? Try a WiFi Range Extender

Review of the N300 WiFi Range Extender

wifi repeater

N300 WiFi Range Extender (image from Amazon)

Today I installed a product I have recommended to others but never had reason to use myself before, a WiFi extender.

What is a WiFi Range Extender?

As the name suggests, a WiFi range extender, also known as a WiFi repeater, increases  the range of your router. Many homes have trouble with the WiFi signal in different parts of the house. The signal works fine in one room, but in the next room, for no obvious reason, there is no signal or a minimal one. These extenders work with your existing signal to pick it up and extend (or repeat) it to increase the range. Note, an extender will not increase your speed. Actually, devices using an extender will experience a slightly slower speed than those on the original router.

My house is about 1500 square feet and one story. It is, however deep and has lath and plaster walls. The router is at one end of my house, and my tv is at the other end. This resulted in the first world problem of an inability to watch Netflix and HBOGo in my living room.

The Product

I picked out the Netgear N300 (model ex 2700) based on its reviews on Amazon as well as its price. I wanted a low to mid-range product and saw no reason to spend a lot of money when the N300 had 4 out of 5 stars and cost under $40.

Set Up

All that is in the box is the extender and a very thin manual. It should be enough.

  1. Plug the extender in to the same room as the router
  2. Press the WPS button to connect the extender to the router. (No button? More steps required.)
  3. Move the extender to another room
  4. Connect devices

At this point I was done with the required steps, but I wanted to secure my network.

  1. Log in to the settings domain (page 12 of the manual)
  2. Change the password (it is initially the word password)
  3. Check for firmware updates and install if there are any

Any Problems?

I had some trouble logging in to the repeater. I am not sure what the problem was, but I got there. I also had to keep restarting the firmware update. I think those problems related to connecting to the site.  The manual provides two domains. One is .net and one is .com.  .net did not work. Also, I wonder how smoothly the install would have gone if I didn’t have WPS on my router, and instead had to  go through a web browser to set everything up.

Don’t Forget to “Forget” Original Network

One thing you will want to make sure you do is “forget” the original WiFi network. If you fail to do this, you will probably find your computer connecting to the original network from time-to-time. This will cause you to return to your original problem and will cause you a lot of irritation. If you don’t know how to delete a network from your device, look up “delete network devicename” on Google and follow the instructions. In reviewing the complaints on Amazon, I have a feeling that many of the problems people experienced were from failing to take this step. Not their fault, Netgear doesn’t recommend it in the minimal instructions.

If you plan on moving from place to place in your house, you won’t want to forget the network. You will need to remember to connect to the correct network depending on where you are located.

Does it Work?

My WiFi signal problems seem to be completely resolved. I put the extender midway through my house. I am not having any buffering on my Netflix any more and I have 5 bars on my computer in my living room.

My Conclusion

The Netgear N300 seems to be a good purchase. It was easy to set up, has a small form factor and didn’t cost much. I have only been using it for a couple of hours at this point, so if my opinion changes, I will update this post.

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