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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the park-that-anywhere dept.

Transportation 163

Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

I casually asked a couple of my friends in Seattle -- where street parking is often unavailable, and parking garages vary widely in price -- if they'd ever heard of an app that would let them find the cheapest available parking garage, based on the time they wanted to enter and the time they planned on leaving. (Street parking is usually cheaper if you can find it, but the app would be useful for times that you can't find any.) Most of my friends said that they'd never heard of such an app, but they'd definitely use one if it existed. I also looked up parking apps on Google but the small subset that I randomly tried out, didn't do what I needed. So I thought about writing a "Somebody-with-more-time-than-me-should-go-and-do-this-thing" article, similar to the ride-swapping piece, when one of my friends casually mentioned the BestParking app.

Well, I tried it and it worked. (Lest I be accused of undue favoritism, ParkMe does the same thing just as well, although I didn't find it until later.) In both apps, you bring up a map centered on your current location, or scroll the map to where you plan on looking for parking later. You enter the time that you'll be entering and leaving, and the app shows a map with each parking garage represented by an icon showing the dollar amount that it will cost to park for that time. Without these apps, comparing rates is an annoyingly complex process to do by hand, in a crowded city like Seattle with many garages with different rates (and different times when their "evening rates" kick in -- usually 5 PM, but ranging from 4 to 7 PM), but the apps factor all of that in to give you the cheapest garage for the given time range. You can tap the individual garage icons for more information (if you plan on returning by 11 PM but you're not sure, you'd probably prefer a 24-hour garage instead of one that locks up at midnight). Also, if you're sitting at your computer and you already know the neighborhood where you'll be parking later, you can do the same search on each of their websites. (Although if you are on your phone, please don't do this from a moving car, duh. In Seattle there are plenty of 3-minute spots where you can pull over and do a search.)

So, I've been quite happy with both apps -- but I thought it was interesting that almost none of my friends had ever heard of them. I threw a quick survey up on Amazon's Mechanical Turk website, which I've used before for crowdsourced surveys and other experiments. I polled 50 people, offering them 25 cents apiece to answer these questions:

Would you use these apps? Section A: Parking garage app

Suppose a website and/or smartphone app existed where you could specify a neighborhood of a city, and enter a start and end time for when you wanted to park, and the app would automatically find the cheapest parking garage for that time range (assuming its too hard to find street parking).

1. Are you aware of any such apps/websites that already exist? If yes, whats the name of the app? (No need to do a web search -- only answer "Yes" if you already know of such an app or website.)

2. Would you use such an app/website if it existed? (Or, if youre aware of such an app that already exists, do you use it?)

Yes/No Section B: Spare room rental app

Suppose a website and/or smartphone app existed where you could list a room in your house as a temporary rental, and visitors to your city could rent it out for a single night, or more.

3. Are you aware of any such apps/websites that already exist? If yes, whats the name of the app? (No need to do a web search -- only answer "Yes" if you already know of such an app or website.)

4. Would you use such an app/website if it existed? (Or, if youre aware of such an app that already exists, do you use it?)

Yes/No

The second section, about a spare room rental app, was thrown in as a control in the experiment -- I knew the answer to that question (AirBnB), and I thought a large portion of the survey-takers would too, so I wanted to make sure they weren't just filling out the survey with blow-off answers to get the 25 cents as fast as possible.

Of the 50 people who filled out the survey, 14 of them said they had heard of using AirBnB, Couchsurfing, or Craigslist for the purpose of renting out a room or finding one to rent (almost all of them mentioned AirBnB specifically). But of the same 50 respondents, only two of them mentioned any parking apps that they had heard of, and only one of them mentioned one of the two that I'd found which actually worked. (The other person mentioned an app called ParkWhiz, which, when I tested it out, only displayed one $17 parking garage in a neighborhood where I know of several $5 garages, which BestParking and ParkMe did list correctly.)

This seems to confirm the anecdotal evidence from my survey of my Seattle friends -- there is a great deficiency in awareness of these apps, relative to how useful people would find them if they knew about them.

So how is it that people are finding -- or not finding -- these apps? In a Google search for "parking app", the first result was an ad for ParkWhiz. BestParking and ParkMe did show up in the results, but so did another one called Parker, as well as a Mashable article by Kate Freeman listing "7 City Parking Apps to Save You Time, Money and Gas". Of the apps listed in the article, the only city-specific one that worked in Seattle (PrimoSpot) has been discontinued, and of the non-city-specific ones, only Parker is still around. (The article doesn't even mention BestParking or ParkMe, although I don't know if they existed when it was written.) Finally, a friend in my survey told me about an app called Parkopedia, which has over 100,000 downloads on Google Play (the same as BestParking, and more than ParkMe).

So even if it did occur to you to look for a parking-garage-finding app, the problem is that if you randomly picked one of the five most popular parking apps (BestParking, Parker, ParkMe, Parkopedia, and ParkWhiz), you might accidentally pick one of the three out of five that is a fail:

  • ParkWhiz, as noted above, only showed one $17 garage in a neighborhood full of other, cheaper garages.

  • Both ParkMe and Parkopedia display their results as a map with an icon marking each parking garage -- but with no price information. Simply having a map of parking garage locations isn't too useful, since you could get that by searching Google Maps for "parking" anyway. In both apps, you can click on parking garage icons to bring up a window showing their rates, but in Parker most of the listed garages just said "Contact facility for current rates". Parkopedia did usually display the rates for different garages -- but it's a pain to click on each of a dozen parking garage icons looking for the cheapest one. A typical area of downtown Seattle will have one garage where you can park for $5 for the evening, surrounded by garages where parking costs $10 or more, but Parkopedia doesn't make it easy to find it. And neither app lets you specify a start and end time for your parking so that you can find the cheapest garage for that time range.

So it seems odd that according to the Google Play store, Parkopedia has more downloads than ParkMe (100,000+ vs 50,000+), even though ParkMe seems a lot more useful. Meanwhile ParkWhiz, the one that found only one overpriced parking garage in a neighborhood full of cheaper ones, has fewer downloads but a slightly higher star rating in the app store than ParkMe. Of course in my parking-app survey of friends and Mechanical Turk users, the far-and-a-way winner was simply not knowing that any of these apps existed at all.

And here's why it matters to you even if you ride a granola-powered bike to work: I think this is a confirming instance of what I've been arguing for years, that the marketplace for ideas, inventions, and intellectual property is far less efficient than most people think it is. Every day a huge amount of human capital is squandered by people trying to jostle their competitors out of Google search results, or even just trying to raise the capital to advertise their products to people who would find them extremely useful, but will never find out about it if the venture capitalists don't come through with the money to advertise it. All of that is time and effort that could have instead gone towards making the products better.

I've suggested an algorithm based on "random-sample voting" as an antidote to some of these market inefficiencies, such as stopping people from buying votes on Digg, promoting the best ideas on Obama's "We The People" petition website, or even deciding whether J.K. Rowling is the world's greatest author or just lucky. Basically, in each scenario, the competing entities -- whether apps, or songs, or ideas for improving U.S. government policy -- would be rated by a sufficiently large random sample of qualified raters. ("Qualified raters" might mean economists in the case of the White House policy-petition website, or it might mean music consumers in the case of an algorithm to find the best new songs.) Each entity would receive an average rating from those raters, and then the entities with the highest average rating would be the ones promoted to the widest audience (at the top of Google search results, for example). It sounds deceptively simple, but it's far less amenable to "gaming the system", because you can't rope in your friends to vote for your app, or pay voters to rate you highly on Digg. The only way to win in this system is to make your song, idea, or app, the best that it can be -- which means your human capital is being channeled productively, instead of being wasted hiring an SEO company to try and knock your competition out of the top spot on Google.

If competition between parking apps worked this way, then all the current users of Parker, ParkWhiz and Parkopedia, would switch to BestParking and ParkMe, saving themselves a lot of hassle in the process, and those second-rate apps would have never even gotten on the ground unless they got their act together and implemented the same features. More broadly, if competition in the marketplace of ideas worked this way, then there wouldn't be so many users who really wish they could have an app like this, without realizing that the apps exist!

One striking thing about looking at a map of downtown parking garages, is how wildly the rates vary from each other, with $15 garages situated right next to the $5 ones. In theory, in a competitive marketplace, such rates should stabilize around a single price, for goods that are roughly comparable. But the $10 lots do still manage to get some customers who don't know any better, because it's just not practical to criss-cross a grid of several dozen city blocks looking for the cheapest garage. BestParking and ParkMe help people deal with this inefficient marketplace. So it's ironic that they're being held back by a marketplace for ideas that operates just as inefficiently in its own way.

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Bicycle! And motorcycle. (5, Interesting)

ElectraFlarefire (698915) | about 7 months ago | (#46747985)

Because when I have to go somewhere that parking is tricky, I'm always on two wheels. And there's always somewhere to park it.
Plus it's often quicker in busy cities, cheaper, gets you fit(If you don't have an engine) and above all, is fun!

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (4, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | about 7 months ago | (#46748027)

You got modded down but it's a good general point.

If I'm going somewhere that parking is going to be an issue, I take a bus or a cab down. It's not worth the aggravation and cost of trying to find a spot. I imagine a lot of geeks fall into a similar behaviour.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (4, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | about 7 months ago | (#46748559)

When I want to go somewhere and it's too much trouble, I make procrastinate until it's too late to make it to whatever appointment I was going for, and that way I don't even have the bother of traveling anywhere at all.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 7 months ago | (#46748605)

When I want to go somewhere and it's too much trouble, I make procrastinate until it's too late to make it to whatever appointment I was going for, and that way I don't even have the bother of traveling anywhere at all.

instead of make procrastinate, for your next appointment you should try make clean; make depmod; make procrastinate; make install; make clean. Its way more efficient.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

MrNaz (730548) | about 7 months ago | (#46748667)

Haha, I was typing "make excuses to procrastinate" and didn't delete enough words when revising the post.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46748747)

instead of make procrastinate, for your next appointment you should try make clean; make depmod; make procrastinate; make install; make clean. Its way more efficient.

Bah, make procrastinate does all of the same things eventually.

Well, most of them anyway. :-P

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748723)

Or just don't go into the city in the first place. There's plenty for me to do out here in the suburbs, mostly with free parking.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (2)

Suki I (1546431) | about 7 months ago | (#46748999)

You got modded down but it's a good general point.

If I'm going somewhere that parking is going to be an issue, I take a bus or a cab down. It's not worth the aggravation and cost of trying to find a spot. I imagine a lot of geeks fall into a similar behaviour.

I wish I had that option. I guess I could make it an option, but I have just to much stuff I have to bring with me when I leave the confines of the office and do my "real job" out with the clients along the eastern seaboard. Another issue is that I drive a pretty big pickup that my Beloved Fiance made just for me, and it holds everything with plenty of spare room too.
 
On the issue by the submitter, how on earth is this true? how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient. He got his favorite apps advertised on one of the highest traffic sites on the internet all for the cost of his time to type, copy and paste.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (0)

thewolfkin (2790519) | about 7 months ago | (#46749439)

that works one time for this one situation. That doesn't help every other useful app we've never heard of. They can't all get well written writeups on /. and then just climb ranks that way.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 7 months ago | (#46749515)

In Europe many cities have a 'parking route' that will let you drive from parking to parking and they even often indicate how many places are available.
So the use of an app to find a free place is less urgent.
Also public transportation is pretty good in most places.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 7 months ago | (#46748169)

I wish. A bicycle is not feasible for me, and a motorcycle is too dangerous in my area.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

gmclapp (2834681) | about 7 months ago | (#46748387)

Motorcycles are too dangerous in all areas if you're being honest with yourself. But, totally worth it. If I gotta go, I wanna go in a fiery wreck! I'm being sarcastic, but I love motorcycling.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 months ago | (#46748937)

Similar dilemma. A regular bicycle is unfeasible due to distance. Hopping a bus with a bike is iffish, since there are only two bike spaces in the rack per bus that shows up every hour... and assuming a slot got made free, it would be a battle of speed with others. Which leaves folding bikes and having to lug a Brompton into and out of a building.

Even if you find a space, the parking meters are kiosks on every block, and you -will- get a ticket between the time you walk to the kiosk, get the ticket printed out, and come back to the vehicle to put it on.

So, the easiest thing to do is hail a taxi and go from there.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 7 months ago | (#46748219)

It always cost me the same as a car to park a motorcycle in a parking garage. Even when I'd tuck it into a spot a car wouldn't fit in, just to be nice.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 months ago | (#46748855)

I'm surprised you even find garages that let you in. Most garages around me (and even just lots) specifically say no motorcycles. I think it's liability fears about the gate coming down on your head or something.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 7 months ago | (#46748713)

Because when I have to go somewhere that parking is tricky, I'm always on two wheels. And there's always somewhere to park it.
Plus it's often quicker in busy cities, cheaper, gets you fit(If you don't have an engine) and above all, is fun!

"And here's why it matters to you even if you ride a granola-powered bike to work: I think this is a confirming instance of what I've been arguing for years, that the marketplace for ideas, inventions, and intellectual property is far less efficient than most people think it is."

This isn't about parking, except as an example of the problem.

And scooters are f**kin' magical! (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 7 months ago | (#46748867)

I have noticed that motorized scooters have been granted a status in some places of "absolutely magical". It is apparently legal to park them at no cost at bicycle racks, even if they prevent actual bicycles from parking there. They are, by association, legal to ride (or at least, push) on the sidewalk as well. You can carry whatever or whoever you want with you on it, seldom need a proper helmet, and if you have enough power you can go ahead and drive on the freeway as well. They generally need less insurance and registration to boot.

Why bother with a bicycle at that point? We don't really embrace fitness in this country anyways.

Re:Bicycle! And motorcycle. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 7 months ago | (#46749355)

Is this 'news' story some sort of astroturfing campaign for these applications or what?

You might as well ask why there are differences in price in any other market.

Gotta be kidding me (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 7 months ago | (#46747995)

This is filler spot on daytime tv news sad.

Re:Gotta be kidding me (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 7 months ago | (#46748507)

The TL;DR version is that Google still isn't very good. It favours heavily SEOed results over quality results. There is no substitute for curation or polling by trusted people.

Re:Gotta be kidding me (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46749097)

Even TFS was tl;dr. It's completely obvious too - the time you waste messing around with the app, which requires foreknowledge of when you will finish your shopping/eating to work, is not worth it. Most people would rather just park, maybe pay a fraction more but not have to wait in a queue or walk further, and get on with their lives.

tl;dr (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748013)

Why does anybody read anything by Bennett?

Re:tl;dr (1)

atwupack (917125) | about 7 months ago | (#46749273)

And why this post currently rated informative?

Fill your head with crap (2)

concealment (2447304) | about 7 months ago | (#46748017)

Bennett, I like all of your stuff and this is well-written but...

These apps are just going to increase mass neurosis. We don't need our heads filled with this crap. We need to spend more time thinking about important issues, not the trivia.

"Western man is externalizing himself with gadgets" - William S. Burroughs

Re:Fill your head with crap (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 7 months ago | (#46748489)

you forgot to mention that you'll fellate him behind the Taco Bell for free.

Re:Fill your head with crap (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about 7 months ago | (#46748521)

Bennett, I like all of your stuff and this is well-written but...

Troll! Get him, boys!

These apps are just going to increase mass neurosis. We don't need our heads filled with this crap. We need to spend more time thinking about important issues, not the trivia.

I think the more important issue is the general inefficiency in the marketplace for apps (as well as ideas and intellectual property in general). That was my main point. I wouldn't have written the article just to tell people about the parking apps, although I hope some people find that useful.

Re:Fill your head with crap (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 7 months ago | (#46748703)

Bennett, I like all of your stuff and this is well-written but...

Troll! Get him, boys!

These apps are just going to increase mass neurosis. We don't need our heads filled with this crap. We need to spend more time thinking about important issues, not the trivia.

I think the more important issue is the general inefficiency in the marketplace for apps (as well as ideas and intellectual property in general). That was my main point. I wouldn't have written the article just to tell people about the parking apps, although I hope some people find that useful.

If that's the issue then why wouldn't you (serious question, not asking rhetorically i promise) gin up a Turk quiz about how app markets are perceived and participated in? It seems like you already knew the answer to "does anyone know about all these cool parking spot apps?" so just get on with the bigger question. The one I have spent a lot of time pondering (non-scientifically) is what could an app store possibly offer by having >1,000,000 apps? Or even >500,000 apps?

At some point ( i would guess its somewhere down around the 10,000 mark) there has to be a diminishing return on the quality of the apps in the store, and I absolutely never understood why advertising "our store has a zillion apps! yay us! come buy our shiny! pick from a zillion apps, like you will ever have a chance to try even a tenth of a percent of them!!!" was ever thought of as effective.

Re:Fill your head with crap (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 7 months ago | (#46749495)

From a simple analysis I have a couple of answers. One: It's marketing! Our laptop has more ram, or faster Mhz, or shinier screen, on whatever. Just like all the bullet points for a software package, even though most of them don't matter or are basic functions that don't even deserve to be pointed out. So saying the market place has millions of apps sounds better than saying it has thousands. Two: If only one percent of the apps are any good you are more likely to find one that does what you want and is a good one from a market of 1,000,000+ over a market that has only 100,000. Three: It's not it Apple, Google, or Microsoft's benefit to turn away developers who want to pay them money for a developers licence. The more the merrier.

Re:Fill your head with crap (5, Insightful)

tomlouie (264519) | about 7 months ago | (#46748879)

> I think the more important issue is the general inefficiency in the marketplace for apps (as well as ideas and intellectual property in general).

Bennett, you just summarized your 2,000+ word textwall into a single 24 word sentence. Was that so hard? Seriously, a single summary sentence at the start of your submissions would be greatly appreciated.

Re:Fill your head with crap (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 7 months ago | (#46748541)

Huh? This is just an example of a branch of price comparison app. At worst it will save the user money by guiding him to the best deals. At best, if enough people use them, it will drive prices down. Both these outcomes are good and useful things.

There are plenty of crap app categories. This isn't one of them.

Re:Fill your head with crap (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 months ago | (#46749105)

He's actually providing an editorial service for millions of other people. Conservatively, he freed up a million people to spend 5 minutes thinking about important issues.

That's just under 10 years of total time they can think about important issues.

And that's ignoring the time/money savings resulting from those who select the app.

He's justified a significant portion of his existence with just the one post.

Re:Fill your head with crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749221)

You believe a million people will read this? You're joking, right?

You win a shiny quarter! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46748019)

WOAH! I'm goin' to the movies!

What is going on?? (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 7 months ago | (#46748041)

Who the flip is Bennet Haselton and why is he allowed to have verbal diarrhea on Slashdot?

Re:What is going on?? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46748069)

He paid Dice 25 cents

Re:What is going on?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748073)

Wow so Slashdot's revenues have quadrupled?

Re:What is going on?? (1)

jnik (1733) | about 7 months ago | (#46748129)

Somebody figured we were missing the Jon Katz days. (Although I actually kinda liked his articles.)

Re:What is going on?? (-1, Troll)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#46748281)

I'd like to know who the flip is XanC, since you asked the SAME question I did, and I got -1,Troll while you got +5 Insightful?

http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Note however that I *entirely* agree with you.
Is there a /. editor trying to build a buddy into a web celebrity?
FWIW, I *still* don't really get why Ze Frank is a weblebrity, either. How does one make a living doing that?

Re:What is going on?? (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 7 months ago | (#46748465)

Probably because you're a cunt.

Re:What is going on?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748493)

I'd like to know who the flip is XanC, since you asked the SAME question I did, and I got -1,Troll while you got +5 Insightful?

There are two possible reasons. Your post sounds slightly more aggressive, and you attack the person instead of the message length.

Re:What is going on?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748875)

Because he is trying to fight the Republican control of parking here in Seattle. The prices are all over the map depending on what kind of person owns the garage. The one I park in charges a high price for older cars. Those CONservatives hate the poor, and they want us to die. I work as a junior web dev, and I do not make that much money so I see their hatred every day I go to work. I really want to get out of Seattle because of those CONservaties that are in charge here, but where is better? What city hasn't been destroyed yet by those people? It's enough to make progressives just give-up. I guess that is their plan. Fuck us over with everything from discrimintory pricing to shutting down entire bus systems to neighborhood covenants here in Seattle that disallow selling of property to minorities. The Republicans here have gotten so bad that the PI and the Times will no longer report on suicides. Just yesterday the Republicans drove a man to lighting himself on fire a block from where I live. That is what those people want to happen to all of us.

Re:What is going on?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748961)

my friends in Seattle -- where street parking is often unavailable

Was it the PI that found 80% of the garages in the central district were controlled by those horrible people? Fuck them and their racist early bird specials. They charge less to white workers who typically get to work between 7am and 9am, and charge minorities two or even three times as much because service jobs typically start either earlier or later. After taxes, it takes me three days of labor each month just to pay for parking. That is very regressive. Republicans are stupid so they love regressive things.

It's like that everywhere and worse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749295)

In Marietta, GA - the Square - there is only 2 hour parking and not enough of it. The parking behind businesses and alleyways are taken up by the owners and managers. The hourly staff has to find parking on the street.

So, one has to get there 30 minutes early in order to clock in on time. You may get a spot right away or it'll take you 30 minutes to get one.

Then, while you are working, if you can't get out there fast enough to move your car, you get a ticket for an amount that costs a day's wages - maybe more if you're working in a restaurant as wait staff.

Do the local business owners try to lobby the city to change that? Or to get employee parking passes so the meter people leave them alone?

Hell no!

The way poor people are nickle and dimed, it's almost impossible to stay afloat.

Of course, our society treats poor people as if they have a character flaw - after all, people with decent characters have no money issues!

Yeah, tell that to the guy whose job was off-shored and cannot get another one.

We have become a soulless lizard brained society. Might makes right; money makes you right and smart; and if you're poor, well too bad! You obviously made the "wrong" decisions and it sucks to be you (like people wake up one morning and think,"I'm gonna make wrong decisions and fuck up my life!"). Now go away and die!

Re:What is going on?? (2)

eepok (545733) | about 7 months ago | (#46749025)

How in the world is this insightful? What's with all the rage against the author?

The guy has a question. He has an idea. He describes it all clearly enough. And he somehow deserves ridicule?

This is News for Nerds. Not "News for Me and Only Me".

Re:What is going on?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749225)

How in the world is this insightful? What's with all the rage against the author?

Haselton uses slashdot as his personal blog. Nobody else does this. So he gets "special treatment" from both the editors and the rest of us.

Re:What is going on?? (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#46749237)

The point is that Slashdot is not his blog.

Re:What is going on?? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46749137)

Why does it keep getting modded up in the firehose instead of thrown down the memory hole? Why don't the editors summarise his 2000+ word summary into, you know, an actual summary? Why are we even asking these questions when clearly neither of us is new here?

Parking? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46748051)

Use a jetpack, problem solved!

Fuck off Bennet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748077)

Nobody care about you and your opinions.

Re:Fuck off Bennet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748091)

Nuh uh! His mommy says he's the smartest boy in the world!

Re:Fuck off Bennet (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#46748179)

At least this one didn't include whining about Burning Man in it. That's a narked improvement.

Re:Fuck off Bennet (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about 7 months ago | (#46748533)

Burning Man... narked... I see what you did there.

Re:Fuck off Bennet (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 7 months ago | (#46748733)

Yeah, I made a typo when typing on my phone keyboard.

prices differ in NYC as well (1)

alen (225700) | about 7 months ago | (#46748093)

but it depends on how close you are to a local attraction or work site. i had to drive into manhattan today and parked in the $25 garage because it's the closest one to where i work. sure i can find a cheaper spot but then it's a 10 minute walk for me

and it's not my money. i get pre-tax parking benefits from my employer and pay with a special credit card

Re:prices differ in NYC as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748355)

uhmmm...it is your money, its just coming out of your check pre-tax. Or do you think your pre-tax 401k contributions are 'not your money' either?

Re:prices differ in NYC as well (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46748735)

but it depends on how close you are to a local attraction or work site. i had to drive into manhattan today and parked in the $25 garage because it's the closest one to where i work. sure i can find a cheaper spot but then it's a 10 minute walk for me

Obviously a different world since where I live doesn't have half the population density as NYC, but I've always been that guy who parks in the corner space at the far, far back end of the lot. My ship's far less likely to be wanged that way, plus the extra bit of exercise is good for me. Plus, when I'm on the clock I'm getting paid for that 10 minute walk.

YMMV, as the only experience I have with driving/parking in NYC was selling my sister's car after she moved there, because she had no use for it and didn't want to pay to store it.

Re:prices differ in NYC as well (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 7 months ago | (#46749507)

It sucks when your clock doesn't start until you have gone through the badge swipe doors. Then you want the closest spot possible. Why give them the 10 minutes for free!

Hey Bennett Haselton! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748095)

Please at least sign up for a WordPress account. Please?

You should have known better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748097)

Did you not glance at the recent Slashdot poll that shows that an overwhelming majority of your readers don't buy apps?

Re:You should have known better (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#46748751)

Hmm, I was totally amazed that some geeks do buy apps. They should all have their geek cards repossessed.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748099)

"And here's why it matters to you even if you ride a granola-powered bike to work: I think this is a confirming instance of what I've been arguing for years, that the marketplace for ideas, inventions, and intellectual property is far less efficient than most people think it is."

Duh. As much as people hate MBA’s around here, this is something that business people understand that engineers/scientists/developers do not: building a better mousetrap is not a guaranteed path to success; never has been and never will be. The economy is littered with the corpses of great products that failed to educate the market about it’s existence and died in obscurity.

Remember the Slashdot meme:
1) Build a great parking app
2) ???
3) Profit

I’ve always found that hilarious. ??? = good marketing. The ones you’re referring to that are so good but fail in the market are not that.

The market actually works exactly as it’s described to: in a perfectly efficient market the buyers and sellers are fully informed individuals aware of all options in the marketplace. The reality is that fully informed is nearly impossible, and it’s that uninformed buyer where marketing folks and business folks come into play to ensure success, or to take advantage of the inefficiency and make money.

Now some will argue the latter is more often the case. That is true: markets are dynamic, not static. When an inefficiency arises, someone takes that opportunity, and ideally in so doing informs the market of the opportunity, correcting out the inefficiency.

Re:Duh (1)

aicrules (819392) | about 7 months ago | (#46748233)

He's arguing that spending any money on good marketing is a waste of company resources....because some benevolent group of expert app raters should take care of that for you...

Re:Duh (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about 7 months ago | (#46748547)

I'm not saying it's wasteful from the company's point of view; they spend money on marketing because it works.

I'm saying it's wasteful from an overall societal point of view, because if two companies spend money just trying to jostle each other out of the top spot on Google, the net gain will be zero. If they spent the same effort improving their products, and then the overall product quality determined their ranking in an information source like Google, the benefits would accrue to consumers.

Our money is wheat for the reaping (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 7 months ago | (#46748137)

So now I need an app to help me park with as little butthurt as possible. It could be that people haven't realized how thoroughtly nickle-and-dimed our lives have become. It's pretty sad. Any everytime I try and think of something sadder, its already been done.

Right... (2)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 7 months ago | (#46748159)

I can park just fine without an app. Not sure why this is even on here. Go blog that shit.

tldr (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 months ago | (#46748161)

can we all pitch in $5 a month and get this bennett guy his own blog? (and punt him the hell off slashdot?)

Re:tldr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748833)

I'm in. I'll even throw in $10.

Seattle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748165)

if I go to Seattle, I will use the bus and subway system. well, i don't have a driver's license. lol

Slashvertisement (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46748167)

Stop this.

Seriously.

Just stop.

Re:Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748577)

If you think this is bad wait until Dice has essentially replaced Slashdot with Dice Forums. That's what's going on here with the Beta, SlashdotBI and endless interviews that no one cares about.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 7 months ago | (#46748683)

Stop this.

Seriously.

Just stop.

I don't think you bothered to do more than skim the summary, if that. Although to be fair, the summary could have simply said that good apps are getting drowned out in white noise of not-so-good apps because the review/curation system in the app stores is completely ineffective.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748779)

Why would anyone bother to read a whole post by Blowhard Hassleton?

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 7 months ago | (#46749065)

This site is doing all it can to drive away core members. Many have already given up. That they would try to pass off something so shamelessly promoting products and not think we can't tell it's a pitch should insult all of us.

Please, make it stop. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748191)

Wasn't beta supposed to have a BH filter?

Why, why, why does this dreck keep getting posted?

Google is already doing it (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 7 months ago | (#46748215)

This random sample voting idea is already in use on Google play. It came into effect a few months ago. If you open Google play on your Android device you will see a widget that invites you to vote for one of your recently installed apps.

I don't know how well this could work even if done perfectly. The ultimate measure of the quality and appeal of a product is whether or not you will recommend it to someone explicitly (and not just implicitly by liking it on Facebook or G+ or what not). I doubt Google has a way to measure that. Maybe they're working on it.

Re:Google is already doing it (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 7 months ago | (#46748585)

Google don't care whether their results are the best for consumers. Their customers are advertisers.

Pranking App (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748311)

D'oh!

I thought the summary was for a pranking app, rather than parking app.

I could use a pranking app.

Small Audience for app.... (4, Insightful)

essaunders (469150) | about 7 months ago | (#46748329)

I think the issue is the Parking apps are targeted at a very small subset of people. the only real audience are people who occasionally park in a city. I suspect that most people in that subset rely on their hotel or destination parking suggestion and leave it at that.

I did try out several apps (and web sites) during a recent weekend trip to Boston. Several were next to useless, a couple were good. I ended up saving about 50% vs what my hotel valet service would have been - but I did have to walk a half mile from the garage to the hotel.

tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748535)

* Parking rates vary.
* The best app isn't always the highest rated app.

The tragedy of capitalism (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 7 months ago | (#46748579)

If engineers were left to design a parking app, they'd make it work for all forms of paid parking in at least one country. Instead, we're saddled with a fragmented market.

Why I haven't heard of them? (1)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 7 months ago | (#46748641)

Well, for one they only seem to really work for US locations and I'm quite a ways from there. ParkMe did find some nearby results but the information was wildly wrong.

Exhaustive Testing of Other Apps (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#46748687)

...did he try them in any other city than his?

How well do those work in LA? Boston? New York?

How we do the ones he panned work there?

Short-sighted drivel.

Don't think his recommended apps work (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 7 months ago | (#46748785)

When I rode the train in to work this morning, the app failed miserably when I tried to find the best place to park it in the rail yard. Also, the conductor's goons stopped me from getting to the locomotive.

Because the Republicans that rule here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748807)

will not allow it. They know that transit and parking is regressive since the poor and minorities pay a higher percentage of their income for it so they will not allow us the ability to save money one it. They have ruled this city with an iron first for decades. They are in the process of more than decimating the bus system. They are destroying 15% of it! Also, they have stopped the new transit tunnel, and are fighting against allowing light rail to expand. In addition, they are going to steal the two express lanes from I-90. They recently got the plan approved to disallow buses from using them. They have fucked this city almost to the point of no return. They've even destroyed the South Lake Union area. They hate the SLUT (South Lake Union Transit), and are doing every thing they can to destroy it. Seattle used to be such a nice place It’s sad to see what Republicans have done to us.

Missing feature: who tows there (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 7 months ago | (#46748831)

I would pay money for a parking app that can tell me which towing company tows cars from there. Where I live, car theft is 100% legal if you are a towing company - it has been demonstrated repeatedly on camera and in court - and some companies are far more frequent offenders than others. I am willing to pay more to park in lots that are not patrolled by certain crooked towing companies.

Also, Spothero (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 7 months ago | (#46748847)

Works very well for me.

Could you stop posting this guys articles? (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#46748873)

He's got a bad case of verbal diarhea and a love of hearing himself write. He is not insightful; he's a blow-hard.

Slashdot settings help please (4, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#46748877)

Let's say hypothetically a slashditor (let's call him "Supnezmas"), when not posting duplicate articles from 2 days before, has a major erection for some web commenter (let's call him "Notlesah, Ttenneb").

How could I edit my settings so that worthless shit articles from "Supnezmas" referencing this "Notlesah, Ttenneb" were somehow downrated to oblivion so I don't see them anymore, ever? Is there a filter I can apply?

Can I "foe" an editor based on context?

Re:Slashdot settings help please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749319)

Greasemonkey.

Seattle is a good point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748913)

> my friends in Seattle -- where street parking is often unavailable

Because the Republicans are fuckwads. As the PI noticed, nearly 90% of downtown parking is owned by Republicans. They don't want to see minorities in downtown so they artificially raise prices. Also, the early bird specials are make to screw over minorities. The rich white people that work "normal" hours get huge discounts, but they demand I pay three times as much as my white-collar workers because I work in a restaurant. They hate us.

Really? These are the best apps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748987)

I tried both of them on their respective website version. I tried to look for a parking place close to a venue where I would normally attend for annual events. Unfortunately, neither of the sites would list this particular parking garage. It would have been much closer and much cheaper.

W. T. F.

On the other hand, I've been a user of Parkopedia and I found this parking garage mentioned above several years ago. They even have an Android app (not sure about other platforms) for those on the go.

Honestly, I am not impressed with the article. I'm glad I did not waste my time reading the entire thing.

Parking fees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749009)

One striking thing about looking at a map of downtown parking garages, is how wildly the rates vary from each other, with $15 garages situated right next to the $5 ones. In theory, in a competitive marketplace, such rates should stabilize around a single price, for goods that are roughly comparable. But the $10 lots do still manage to get some customers who don't know any better, because it's just not practical to criss-cross a grid of several ....

and it goes on.

See, the $5 lot fills up first. The $15 lot next door now gets the overflow business for folks who want to park in that area and are unwilling to drive around or park further away. See? And i you have your numbers down, you can actually make MORE money with the $15 lot even if you have plenty of spaces left - and that maybe why the other lots charge $10 instead of $15: their max is at that price - excuse me, "price point" or as I put it to sound REALLY important: the "profit maximization equalization singularity".

Re:Parking fees. (1)

craighansen (744648) | about 7 months ago | (#46749323)

...and the guy with the $15 lot doesn't have to work so hard for their money. In theory, the operator could stay in bed until he gets a wake-up call from the guy with the $5 lot, who he could pay $5 for the call. The $5 guy would have every incentive to call just when his lot is filling up, so he could go home. Now consider this (It'll blow your mind for sure...), the $5 guy and the $15 guy could be the same f**king guy! We've just invented variable pricing!

I think this kind of article is grand (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 months ago | (#46749183)

It would be nice to have this for every category of thing.

Of course, if we did it on a regular basis, it would be coopted or corrupted by businesses in some way.

Maybe it's the nature of this app (1)

dingleberrie (545813) | about 7 months ago | (#46749215)

Guys, why all the vitriol for this article? Slashvertisement? It doesn't matter. He went out of his way to point out two different apps and an experiment that he did, where he shared the results.

The topic, for the TL;DR people is essentially why are good apps unseen while poorer ones are popular. He cited ParkMe and BestParking as his basis of research.

It's a questions that would apply to nerds want to popularize an app, but don't understand the phenomena that encourage apps to spread regardless of feature set.

Personally, I use BestParking for my trips to New York City, but agree that it is rarely discussed, so I guess it is rarely known. Maybe it is the nature of parking. Many people who park want to park and move on. They don't think about it after the act, so don't want to think about it much earlier either. It is not a long, drawn out thing (like finding a place to live) where you often plan. Additionally, you can't easily use the app while driving, which is what you are doing when you most think of needing to use the App. So maybe this one is the nature of the activity itself. People don't think about it, so it never gets enough buzz to become a topic of conversation so the knowledge of it doesn't spread.

ADVERTISING (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 7 months ago | (#46749321)

There is a huge difference between a company that makes a good product and a company that is good at advertising.

Honestly that's the main reason why tech people need to get MBA's to run their business. It's not that hard to figure out how to manage and do back office stuff passably well. Oh sure, you might pay too much in taxes, but it's not that big a deal.

What is a big deal is the ability to get the word out - to tell people about your product.

Marketplace Is Broken (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 7 months ago | (#46749365)

Almost all marketplaces are broken. Getting eyes on your website, users to download your app, people to watch your commercial, etc. are all not meritocracies. That's why there are whole categories of professions to handle them (advertising, SEO, etc.). Everyone that makes products knows that if you want to make a ton of money, don't put your money into making a better product, put your money into advertising your currently crappy product.

I got ripped apart a few days ago for making the comment that programming is currently at the equivalent maturity to medicine back in the blood-letting days. This is more proof that we haven't created adequate solutions for common problems like search yet. Sure Google was better than everyone before them and there has been a lot of advancement, but we have a very long way to go yet.

RingGo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749409)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.uk.ringgo.android

Also available in the AppStore.

mod do3N (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749509)

the official GAY distended. All I Why not? It's quick project faces a set Continues to; lose share. FreeBSD is engineering project offended some Usenet. In 1995, of all legitimate www.anti-slash.org of America (GNAA) The curtains flew for a moment and the project is in Get how people can get how people can in a head spinning [nero-online.org] marketing surveys of a solid dose Alike to reap [slashdot.org], Only way to go: You don't need to bunch of gay negros The project to trouble. It about 700 users time wholesome and
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