Android Pay, Successes and Quirks

5 10 2015

Android Pay

Since it’s launch several weeks ago I have successfully used Android Pay for transactions at two different merchants. The user experience changes depending on which merchant you use Android Pay at. Hopefully consistency will come to Android Pay as it matures.

OfficeDepotPayment 1 – Office Depot – Tap, PIN, Finished.

My first successful transaction at Office Depot went without a hitch. I held my phone to the payment terminal close to the tap and pay icon, it beeped within a second and I saw a green check mark indicating success. I was prompted to enter a PIN on the payment terminal, (similar to the process for a Debit Card). I entered my old Google Wallet PIN and the transaction completed quickly.

That was Easy.

StaplesPayment 2 – Staples – Tap, Sign, Ooops, Finished (eventually).

The second transaction at Staples took a little longer. I saw Apple Pay and Tap and Pay advertising taped onto the payment terminal but it wasn’t obvious where to hold the phone. Maybe the tap and pay icon was obscured by the advertising. I held the phone above the advertising and it beeped and I got a green check instantly.

Then the clerk informed me of the total price charged and I paused. The amount she quoted was three times the price of the item, I questioned the amount. Unlike a Credit Card swipe the payment terminal didn’t ask me if the total amount was OK. I asked the clerk how to cancel the transaction. “You can’t” was the response, “go ahead and sign and I’ll process a partial return”. There’s a difference, I was not asked for a PIN, but asked to sign instead. This seems much less secure.

That wasn't so easy

That wasn’t so easy

After the transaction completed the clerk took 2-3 minutes of several tries to process the partial return, eventually she asked to see my credit card again. I asked do I scan my phone again, I don’t have that credit card on me!?! “No” she said and pressed a button to complete the return. The clerk handed me both the original receipt with the overcharge and a separate receipt showing the credit amount.

That wasn’t so easy.

ChaseI’ll have to wait for the credit to show up

The charge shows up on my Chase credit card as a pending transaction, but the credit has yet to show. This is fairly typical, credits take longer. I’ll add an update to this post once enough time has gone by for the credit to appear.


To be fair the transaction at Staples took much longer because of the item ringing up at the wrong price. However the difference in the process is both odd and concerning. At Office Depot I entered a PIN to complete the transaction, at Staples I signed, just like a traditional card swipe. How does the check out clerk verify the signature is good if there is no physical card present? Seems very odd and less secure than a traditional credit card.

The lack of confirmation regarding the amount charged is also a concern. It seems to charge without confirming the price charged thereby requiring a credit to correct any errors at the checkout. Not having the physical card also caused extra delay for the clerk to process the credit.

PINEntryI preferred the process at Office Depot, the requesting of a PIN adds an extra layer of security which is superior to traditional credit cards that use a swipe. This new process is also more secure than Chip and Sign cards being introduced. I hope when all the glitches are worked out of Android Pay we end up with a PIN requirement. Tap and PIN is much more secure than Chip and Sign or Tap and Sign.

Credit Update October 6th 2015.

Android Pay Credits Work!!

Android Pay Credits Work!!

The Credit from Staples did get posted 24 hrs later through Android pay. It looks like Credits work just fine. I’ll keep my eye on my Chase account to see when the credit transaction shows up there. The original charge of $24.02 is still showing as a pending transaction.

First attempt using Android Pay – FAIL!

20 09 2015
Android Pay Logo

Android Pay Logo

Google rolled out Android pay on a limited basis in the last few weeks, and nationwide for anyone this week.

I thought I would give it a try. I was in Office Depot which is listed as a Android Pay merchant and there were no other customers. Ideal time to try this new fangled payment method. I had already added my Chase VISA card to Android Pay and all looked good and ready.

I noticed the Tap and Pay icon on the Credit Card Reader. I asked at the checkout if they accepted cell phone payments. “Yes we accept Apple Pay” was the response. Good enough I thought, they’ve probably never heard of Android Pay so I proceeded without asking further questions.

Tap and Pay Icon found on checkout card readers

Tap and Pay Icon found on checkout card readers

I unlocked my phone, held it next to the tap and pay icon and beep, it did something. For some reason it didn’t work, the checkout clerk muttered something and said try again. I tried again, this time it looked good and showed a large a green check in place of the android pay logo on phone. Apparent success, I asked the checkout clerk if it went through.

Then I noticed a prompt on the merchant terminal for a PIN number. Hmmmm. I wasn’t expecting that. I entered my Google Wallet PIN as I could think of no other valid pin. The clerk said my transaction was declined.

Another customer walked up so I decided to pay with plastic and left the store.

So what went wrong?

Declined Tap and Pay Transaction. Click to Enlarge

Declined Tap and Pay Transaction. Click to Enlarge

I visited the Google Wallet webpage and there was was my declined transaction. ‘Please try again’ it said.

Chase Fraud Alert. Click to enlarge

Chase Fraud Alert

Then I noticed a fraud alert email from Chase Bank. They asked me if I was familiar with a suspicious transaction at Google/Office Depot. I clicked on Yes so my card wouldn’t be shutdown.

So it seems Android Pay worked between the merchant and Android Pay on my phone, but the bank (Chase) decided to decline the transaction.

Call to Chase Bank.

I spoke with the fraud Department at Chase. They did the usual identity verification and established the transaction was legitimate and I still had physical possession of the Credit Card. They did not share with me any reason for the transaction being declined, only that they wanted to check with me first. Chase did apologise for the inconvenience of having my charge declined.

The rep assured me that any further transactions with this merchant would be approved. I suppose I’ll find out next time I try and use Android Pay with my Chase card. I was glad they cleared the fraud flag, the odd thing however is this same Chase card has been used for years to top off my Google Wallet when buying apps at the Google Play Store. Maybe because it was a NFC transaction?

I appreciate that merchants and banks will be cautious with a new service like Android Pay. But decline a small $21 transaction? Seems a little over zealous to me. This is the first time Chase have ever declined a transaction. In the past they have even approved transactions while I was unknowingly over my credit limit.


What to do if your Moto X (2013) battery life suffers after upgrading to Lollipop 5.1

19 09 2015
Moto X Battery Life 2 1/2 Hours!! Click to enlarge

Moto X Battery Life 2 1/2 Hours!!
Click to enlarge

Verizon Wireless has finally rolled out Lollipop 5.1 android operating system to the Gen 1 2013 Moto X phones. The upgrade went without a hitch but I noticed my battery life was only 2 1/2 hours with very light use. I left the phone plugged in overnight but the next morning the problem was still present. The phone was noticeably hot to the touch as well. Something was keeping the phone’s CPU very busy.

After asking on Google+ if anyone else had seen this problem, many had. I received various pieces of advice ranging from ‘do nothing it will fix itself’, to ‘you’ll need to do a factory reset’.

The best advice I received was to clear the cache partition.

Not knowing how to do this I did some research, performed the operation and now I have a much better phone as a result. I now get 9-10 hours battery life with normal use. If you are having similar issues, here is how to do the same for your Moto X phone to restore the phone to normal operation. (The operation is non-destructive you do not lose any data, applications, call logs. It’s one of the safest remedies you can perform).

Clearing Your Cache Partition

Full instructions can be found at this website.

I suggest you visit the site, the author did a really nice job showing screen shots etc of how to do the cache clear operation. Just incase the website disappears one day here is a quick checklist of the steps one needs to perform.

Step 1:  Power off your phone.

Step 2. Access boot options

Press and hold the volume down button for 4-5 seconds first.  Do not release your finger from the volume down button!

While still pressing and holding the volume down button, now press and hold the power button for 4-5 seconds (you are pressing and holding two buttons now).

Then release your fingers from both the power and volume  buttons.

Step 3: Boot into recovery mode

In boot options page (as shown above), you have to:

use volume down button to navigate;

use volume up button to select, NOT the power button as you may assume.

Do not use power button in boot options page. It will reboot the phone.

Now use volume down button to move the cursor to Recovery, then press volume up button to make the selection.

The phone should now boot into recovery mode.

Step 4: Access recovery mode menu – (this can be tricky, the time you have the power button pressed is critical)

Once you get the dead Android, you must:

  1. press and hold power button for about 2-3 seconds. Don’t hold this for to long!!
  2. without releasing power button, press volume up button and quickly release the volume up button.
  3. quickly release the power button button.

If the phone reboots, it means you hold the power button too long. 

Step 5: Clear cache partition

In recovery mode menu, use volume down or volume up  button to navigate to “Wipe cache partition” .

Then use the Power button to select it. This is different from step 3.

After selecting the wipe cache partition, your phone will start to wipe all cache files in the cache partition. This operation can take 5 minutes or more so be patient. WHen it is complete it will return to the recovery mode menu.

Step 6: Reboot the phone

You can select Reboot system now from the recovery mode menu.

Installing Google Chrome on Knoppix 7.4 Persistant

9 11 2014

Knoppix 7.4 comes with the IceWeasel browser. Awesome name, but I really prefer Google Chrome.If you have a persistent version of Knoppix on a thumb drive or hard drive then there are few steps you have to go through to install Google Chrome.

1. Download 32-bit Debian version of Google Chrome. Just go to in IceWeasel and search for chrome browser. The download will be saved in the downloads folder automatically.

2. Install Google Chrome

Open a terminal window using the tool bar.

Type CD Downloads. (Yes capitalization is important).

Type SUDO DPKG -i <Package name>

where <package name. = the name of the downloaded file.

at the time of writing the command is

SUDO DPKG -i google-chrome-stable_current_i386.deb

During the install you will see an error about libappindicator1 not being installed.

3. Fix dependencies using Synaptic Package Manager

In your terminal window type

SUDO synaptic

Ignore prompt to fix broken packages.

Click on the search button and type

libappindicator1 and press enter

Right click the application package libappindicator1 and mark for installation.

Click apply changes.


Google Chrome will now be in your “Internet” Menu. Login with your gmail credentials and all extensions will automatically install. If you use hangouts, it will install a hangouts application and place it in the system tray.

You can have any color you like as long as its cheap

1 11 2014
White is cheap.

White is cheap. Turquoise is expensive!

Google Chromebox is one of the cheaper computer options. One would expect the devices to be very utilitarian and no nonsense. However fashion has its price even with discount hardware.

At the time of writing a white HP Chromebox at $136 is $36 cheaper than a turquoise one with identical hardware inside. Why would someone looking for a cheap computer pay $36 for a color? Take a look at the Amazon listing and see what happens to the price when you select different color options.

Here are are the color options with pricing

White $136.76
Black $166.54
Turquoise $173.60

I’m all ears, let me know why you think this is!

2013 in review

1 01 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Best Buy’s 30 day price guarantee is the real deal.

22 07 2012

My New TV

Recently I purchased an LED TV at Best Buy for $999.99. The price was competitive with so I went ahead with the purchase and was told that there is a 30 day price guarantee anyway. If I see it cheaper somewhere else within 30 days I’ll get the difference back.

6 days after buying the TV I see it at Sam’s club for $968.00!! I took a snap of the price on the shelf with my droid 3 and ran on down to Best Buy.

The customer service rep was quick to point out that Sam’s club model number was slightly different to the Best Buy model number and I thought , here we go I’m getting nothing. I purchased Read the rest of this entry »


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