13 July 2011

BillionGraves.com: 2nd Try

If you haven't already, read my previous post, "A Disappointing Day with BillionGraves."

     I received a tweet from BillionGraves.com yesterday, letting me know that their Android app had been updated to include the "add a cemetery" function. I wasn't planning on trying it out today, but my other plans fell through, so I was able to use my mom's phone (I don't have an android or iphone) to test the app again. Unfortunately, my results weren't much better than last time.

     First, I decided to try something I hadn't last time: go to a cemetery already listed in their database and upload a photo. I went to Shadowlawn Cemetery, only a few minutes from my house to try this out. It's hot out (93°), so we parked in the shade and approached the closest grave. Here's how that went:

"Signal Strength: Very Bad." Hmm... let me give it a second so it can find us. Waiting, waiting... Let me check, yeah, the other GPS driven apps know exactly where I am... Let me move away from the trees. Waiting, waiting... "Signal Strength: Very Good." Ok, great. It took a few minutes, but now I'm good to take some pictures. Click, click, click. Twelve Graves later: "Error!""Signal Strength: Very Bad." What?! I moved five feet! 
     I waited around a bit more, but never got my signal back. Oh well, whatever. I really wanted to create a cemetery anyway. So we drove down a little access road and past a pond into East Shadowlawn. Yes, according to the ladies in the cemetery office, these are two different cemeteries, though they almost touch. And this one wasn't in the BillionGraves database. My Uncle Wayne is buried in this one, so I headed over to his grave.

     First I created the cemetery. The function for this is a bit hidden: you go to the Cemeteries page and scroll all the way to the bottom, past numerous "nearby" cemeteries. It took me a minute to figure it out, but after only a minute "Success!" So, I head over to my uncles grave:
Oh, he's right on the edge near the trees, wonder if I can get a signal? "Signal Strength: Very Bad." Wave the phone around... hold still for two minutes... walk in a six foot range for three minutes... Go far away and stand in the open. "Signal Strength: Very Good / Shadowlawn Cemetery." No, we're at East Shadowlawn! Search for the cemetery I just created... it's not there. Recreate the cemetery - maybe I made a mistake? Nope, still not there. Grr!
     Ok, maybe it's confused by it's proximity to the other Shadowlawn? I didn't really have anything else to do - lets go to some more cemeteries. We stopped at the Gwinnett Memorial Gardens, also already in the BillionGraves database.
"Bad Signal,""Bad Signal"... "Very Good Signal". Ok, that wasn't so long of a wait this time and it knows which cemetery I'm at. Click! Next grave... "Bad Signal". Seriously?!? I took two steps left! Waiting, waiting... Waiting waiting.... Waited over 5 minutes, no signal.
     Now at this point, I didn't figure I was going to be able to create a cemetery, but I wanted to give it one more try. I went out to the cemetery that I'd been to when I first tried out the BillionGraves app: White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Duluth.
Create the cemetery. "Success!" Walk over to my grandparent's graves. "Bad Signal," Bad Signal"... "Very Good Signal / Garner Cemetery." Nope, that's not the right cemetery. According to the map in the BG app, that cemetery is about 15 miles away. I give up!
     After arriving home I checked the website to see if the two cemeteries I'd created would show up there. Nope. Also, there seems to be a time delay on profile updates. Although the photos I'd taken were on the website immediately under "my photos," it took over three hours for three hours for them to be credited on my dashboard as "images uploaded." Also, it took a while for the photos to show up on the cemetery page. There seems to be a multi-hour time lag for the website to update.

     At this point, I want to give up on this app. On the other hand, I want this app to work. It has a lot of potential, despite its issues: being able to create cemeteries and connect with GPS devices. Heck, maybe it's just this particular phone? However, the Samsung Epic G4 is on the list of good phones on BG's blog. Regardless, if it's a problem with the phone, please let me know! Otherwise there are some issues with the app that need to be fixed for this website to worthwhile for me.

     I emailed BillionGraves with some feedback today and did receive a response. I'll write another post about that tonight.

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