Review: why I’m not impressed with Tribe’s Events Calendar Pro

The Events Calendar Pro, Modern Tribe
Screenshot, The Events Calendar Pro website, by Modern Tribe. // Credit: theeventscalendar.com

Upon installing and setting up the calendar last week, I immediately encountered a few unexpected issues. Some issues had quick fixes via a search in Tribe’s forum, while other issues I was told to wait an unspecified amount of time to get the issue fixed in a future update.

I post this review because there is a lack of transparency out there about the problems with Tribe’s “The Events Calendar.” I was not aware of these issues until paying some significant money to buy all the calendar features I needed (almost $300). So I want others to be aware of the problems, and I also want Tribe to see what troubles users are facing which will hopefully cause them to improve the quality of their calendar plugin.

The plugin does have some commendable features like SEO-optimized listings which show up quickly at the top of the first page in Google – which surprised me and was impressive.

4 problems with Tribe’s Calendar:

  1. Very slow release on fixes:
    Pro users, meaning those who pay at least $89/year (I paid almost $300 to get all the features desired), have numerous bug fixes that Tribe staff acknowledge are known issues but have no estimated update date available. One issue, which I encountered is a conflict with Tribe and Jetpack which causes an error message to be displayed to a user who submits a new community event. This looks very tacky to the user and causes them to think their event didn’t get submitted – they’ll likely not submit again. Tribe staff replied to a Pro user back in January that the issue had been identified and would be released in the next calendar update – “in weeks, not months.” Fast forward to March and the user asked in the forum for an update on the fix – it’s still not out (as of April 18, 2017). While conflict with the thousands of plugins out there is inevitable, Jetpack is so commonly used that ANY reputable paid plugin should be tested to ensure compatibility before even coming on the market. This reflects very poorly on Tribe.
  2. Pro tech support is only via forum. When I pay almost $300 for a plugin, I expect premium support – should I ever even need it. Upon installing I had several errors and needed a quick response. I didn’t get a response for about 24 hours, and one of the responses was just a canned standard “try disabling all your plugins first”. No email option. No phone option.
  3. iCal Importer error makes import useless. A key reason I went with Tribe’s Events Calendar was due to its aggregation feature that no other calendar has. It can automatically pull in events from Facebook pages and iCalendar – BUT when importing iCalendar events, I found the event times were all off by as much as 10 hours! An event that began at 7 p.m. showed up as beginning at 2 a.m., etc. This could be manually fixed, but the time would revert back to the wrong time whenever the auto-import feature checked for new events. Other users have apparently had this issue as well and were told a fix would be coming sometime in the future. I submitted a complaint via the forum about eight hours ago, but haven’t heard anything back yet.
  4. Basic features missing. One example is a “submit events” button on the Calendar page – it’s not available unless you custom code it. I’m not a coding expert and don’t know how to code CSS. That’s why I spent several hundred dollars on what was marketed as a “premium” events plugin. I was able to find a way to add a “submit events” link above the calendar, but unfortunately this shows up on every single calendar-related page now – including on the submit events page, which looks redundant and unprofessional. This is a basic feature that should be able to be added with the click of a checkbox. I’m not impressed.

Other options: Here’s 5 other plugins I considered before settling on Tribe (which might have been better options):

  1. EventsManagerPro: has a free version, with user submissions too – and a pro option. This was my second choice, so I’d recommend checking it out before going with Tribe.
  2. SpinGo: it’s a free calendar produced by CBS. It looks professional, but is a bit visually overpowering and slow. It’s not an independent calendar, since all your events can be pulled in by SpinGo on other sites too.
  3. Calendarize-it: This calendar did not look user friendly to set up and had something like 30 add-ons for every little feature, some of which are paid. I figured this would run about $80 for the features I needed, but opted against it just because of all the different add-ons looking too confusing.
  4. Time.ly: Costs $29/mo in order to get front-end user submission feature. This is a bit expensive. It’s the only calendar I saw that allows PAID user submissions though, so you can charge for users to submit their events and hopefully make up for some of the expense (the paid submission feature runs $99/mo though). If you need a lot of features though, compared to Tribe, $29/mo might be comparable and this could be a good option with hopefully better support.
  5. My Calendar Pro: Allows front-end submissions and is only $50/year. However, I noticed that mobile responsiveness was not a default feature – that’s a sign of a dated plugin.

Find this review helpful? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You can also post a comment below if you’ve had another experience with other calendar plugins.

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Review: why I’m not impressed with Tribe’s Events Calendar Pro

Organizers: Why I use Pocket’s free app for productivity

Ever read an article online and then go back to find it and can’t? I’ve been using a free app called “Pocket” for the past few months, and found that it solves a few problems quite well.

luke-otterstad-pocket-appDownloading Pocket on a smartphone, and activating a browser add-on for desktops, will sync all your devices and allow you to save and categorize articles you read with just two pushes of a button.

Now, when I read an article I think I may want to review later, I just hit the Pocket button in my browser, and then have the option to “tag” it in whatever category it should be in for easier reference. For example, I have a “biz tips” section for business-related articles, and also have several personal categories.

No more time wasted searching for that “really good article.” A simple fix to a time-wasting problem.

Pocket, of course, tries to up-sell you on their paid version, but I haven’t found it necessary. The only annoying thing I’ve noticed is that they send me “recommended articles” to my inbox about once a week. There’s probably an “unsubscribe” for that, but I haven’t bothered to check.

Have you tried another smartphone app like Pocket? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comment section below.

Organizers: Why I use Pocket’s free app for productivity

Cache plugins: fixing refresh/update issues

Does your WordPress-based website sometimes not show new content after you make a new post or edit? Most likely it’s an issue with your cache plugin.1000px-View-refresh_Gion_simple.svg

Every time I tried to activate a cache plugin to speed up my site, I found repeat visitors were seeing the same content they saw a few days ago when they had first visited. I would disable the cache and the problem was fixed — but how could I get both the speed benefit of the cache plugin, and also have a functioning and updated site?

I did two things to fix this refresh issue:

  1. Removed the .htaccess code specifying “Leveraging browser cache” settings.
  2. Hit “Purge cache” in the cache plugin each time I updated content. (I had to also hit refresh once on my browser, just to reset the settings in the browser cache to forget the old “leveraging” settings — so although a few return visitors may have an older version of the site show up for a bit, going forward, I don’t think this will happen again. (Will update soon)

Question: Are you having issues with your site not showing updated content? Add a comment below if you’ve found a solution!

Here’s the code I removed from my .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive on
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType text/xml “access plus 0 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/ico “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType image/svg+xml “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 14 days”
ExpiresByType video/ogg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType audio/ogg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType video/mp4 “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType video/webm “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-font-woff “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/vnd.ms-fontobject “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/xml “access plus 0 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/json “access plus 0 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/rss+xml “access plus 1 hour”
ExpiresByType application/atom+xml “access plus 1 hour”

Cache plugins: fixing refresh/update issues

Can a photo lie? Watch this 3-minute eye-opening video

Most people know how far from reality an edited or Photoshopped image can be. But can an unaltered photo misrepresent someone too? Can a photo be biased?

This 3-minute video seeks to show that “a photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it.”

Watch it below and then let me know what you think in a comment below: Can a photo lie?

Can a photo lie? Watch this 3-minute eye-opening video

Short video shows what 500 frames per second looks like

Ever take a video of a cool lightning storm or another high-speed event and then go back to review the footage and find it… uninspiring — to say the least?

That’s because a typical video is shot with 30 to 60 frames per second (fps), so even playing the video in slow motion, a standard camera can’t take a good record of high-speed happenings. This is why videoing lightning (for example) on a smartphone won’t give you more than a few frames of the actual lightning.

Check out this 26-second clip to see how cool a high frame rate camera like this Sony RX100 IV 500fps can be be:

Sony RX100 IV 500fps from Danas Danulis Macijauskas on Vimeo.

Short video shows what 500 frames per second looks like

REVIEW: EventBrite Alternatives — EventZilla, EventSmart, GuestList

online-event-management-tools-by-Luke-otterstad-reviewI recently was searching for a cheaper and/or better alternative to EventBrite for an event a friend asked me to set up a management system for. Here’s what I found in my search:

EventSmart was my first alternative I looked into, and the service appeared to be a professional, simple, free alternative to EventBrite – and notably offers free event management for both free AND paid events (EventBrite is only free if the event is free). However, the “free” version features listed were quite limited, and I’m sure I’d be seeing the “this feature is only available if you pay $XXXX to upgrade” messages. For example, one feature I saw that would require an upgrade is the mobile check-in feature and the ability to customize confirmation email messages – pretty basic stuff.

EventZilla looked like a great system, but I had a red flag go up when I saw that the app only had 100 downloads — after the service has allegedly been around for 6+ years. When I clicked install, a second red flag went up when I saw they needed permission to use just about everything on my phone including the microphone. (Usually this means the app is about data-harvesting and selling your personal info, so I tend to steer away from this since it can be indicative of a company’s shady business practices in general.) As some apps may legitimately need access to a lot of permissions in order to function, I compared the permissions EventBrite’s app requested, and noted they only needed access to a handful of items — and GuestList only needed access for 3 permissions.

GuestList looked professional and simple, and didn’t charge a standard per-ticket charge of $1 like EventBrite and other event management systems I looked into. Instead, GuestList is free for free events, and paid event tickets are just charged a 2% fee on the ticket price. (When you’re selling a $5 ticket and it only costs 10 cents to process vs. $1.10+ to process like most other services, that’s a big plus.) I was also happy to see that GuestList ticket purchase options also integrated into a website with a simple copy/paste code, so adding a “Register Now” button on your site is very simple. One downside I found out later is that GuestList’s app doesn’t currently offer any features for event managers, like checking a guest in at the door via a phone app.

Summary: I ended up going with GuestList, as it was a reputable, tested and full-featured service that provided a good platform and price for both free and paid events.

Note: All the event management services I looked into didn’t mention up-front that there is an additional credit card processing charge for all paid transactions. This will typically cost .35cents + 2-3% of the amount charged — in addition to the fees charged by EventBrite, EventSmart, GuestList, etc…

REVIEW: EventBrite Alternatives — EventZilla, EventSmart, GuestList