Amazon PrimeNow – Nashville

28 11 2015
Screenshot 2015-11-28 at 10.28.59

Amazon PrimeNow

As of November 20th 2015 Amazon now offer their same day delivery service in the Nashville area. This service is available for Prime members only. There is a promotional checkout code GETITNOW that gives you $20 off your first order of $50 or more. That’s a pretty good incentive to try the service, so I did.

2 Hour Delivery Promise

My first impression of the service was that once I place an order with the PrimeNow service I’d get it delivered at my house within 2 hours (1 hour for an additional $7.99). That’s not quite how it works. Orders are delivered in a 2 hour delivery window, time is also added for picking and packing the items. So an order I placed at 8:04 am was available for delivery 10am-12pm the same day at the earliest. So worst case scenario is almost 4 hours from time of order. Still pretty amazing, but don’t think you can get that last minute item delivered in under 2 hours. It is possible to select later delivery windows when placing your order if the first window doesn’t suit you, so there is no need to wait until 3-4 hours before you want an item. There is a reasonable amount of flexibility.

Ordering and Selection on Mobile Devices only

To select and order items using PrimeNow, you must use a specific Amazon PrimeNow application which is for mobile devices only. It is not possible to order via a laptop or desktop computer. I found the experience on my smart phone to be rather limiting. A much better experience can be had on an Amazon Fire Tablet, the app there is much easier to use thanks to the larger screen. I did install the iOS app on my iPad, but the app is made for the iPhone only so is very limited on that device as well. For the best experience use an Amazon Fire Tablet. Amazon really should develop a native iPad app.

If you have a tricky place to find or need to provide the driver with special instructions, that can be done in the app during the checkout process.

Wide selection of items

The Nashville PrimeNow warehouse, located close to Nashville airport, carries a wide range of products. I hadn’t expected items such as Ice Cream and Eggs to be available. I had imagined more durable and non perishable goods. Even though they deliver grocery items, this is a different service to Amazon Fresh. Fresh isn’t available in Nashville, but PrimeNow is pretty close to it.

When you see bulky items such as 50″ TV’s or a smoker offered you realize that this is more than a convenience service. This service could impact Best Buy and other electronics outlets in the Nashville area. If your car isn’t big enough for a large TV, the Amazon delivery maybe quicker than the local stores delivery and you don’t have to change out of your PJ’s!!

Delivery is Free – Sort of

Amazon deliver within the 2 hour window for free. You can’t argue with free. However there is a delivery driver gratuity of 10% added to your order. Amazon promise that 100% of the gratuity goes to the driver. You can alter the tip amount up or down, a tip isn’t mandatory, you could reduce it to zero if you really wanted to.

The odd thing is that the tip is charged when you place the order, not at the time of delivery. Tips should be a reward for good service and the amount set as appropriate. It is possible you’d tip a driver well and he/she be late or rude. That wouldn’t be good. There should be an option to add a tip on your mobile device after the delivery is made.

Drivers are instructed to refuse tips in cash, so giving a cash tip isn’t possible.

Good prices

I purchased 5 items, they were at or below the prices on Amazons main website. One item was $15 cheaper via PrimeNow in two hours versus ordering online with 2 day shipping. The online item that was more expensive was sold through a merchant, not Amazon directly, which explains the price variance.

Before ordering online check the prices of items on PrimeNow, the savings may more than cover the cost of a tip for the driver!!

Uber like tracking of Delivery vehicle.


Amazon PrimeNow

Using the mobile app it is possible to see the location of the delivery vehicle in real time on a map. This is handy, if the driver leaves early or late you’ll know roughly when to expect him/her. Or if they get stuck in traffic you’ll see that’s the case. I was able to see that the driver was delivering to other homes in our area 30 minutes before he came to ours.

Amazon prefer if you are at the delivery address when the delivery occurs. This is understandable with perishable items such as ice cream. It is possible to opt for items to be left without anyone being present.

1 Hour Delivery only available in select locations.

Screenshot 2015-11-28 at 10.29.43

Service availability is determined by Zip code.

My home is about a 30 minute drive from the Amazon PrimeNow warehouse.  As such Amazon do not offer 1 hour delivery for the extra fee of $7.99 in my zIp code. Not that I needed my items that quickly anyway. Don’t expect 1 hour delivery in all locations in the PrimeNow service area. It would be handy if they had a map showing the service area and delivery time windows available by zip code.

How Amazon select which zip codes are covered is also a mystery. My Daughters home which is about the same drive time from the warehouse is not covered. Maybe it’s based on the number of Prime Members in a zip code as well as distance/travel time. Transparency isn’t Amazon’s strong suit.

Did they turn up on time?

Yes, the items arrived during the 2 hour delivery window and less than 3 hours from time of purchase.

8:04am Order Placed and email acknowledgement received.

10:28am Text Received to say Geoffrey was close.

10:53am Driver arrived with order

10:54am Text received indicating delivery has been made.

Drivers use their own vehicles.

My driver arrived in a saloon car which appeared to be privately owned. I don’t know if drivers get paid for the miles they drive, my guess is not and that gas and wear and tear on their vehicle comes directly out of their own pockets. Amazon hire the drivers as independent contractors. All the more reason to be sure to give them a tip!!

Items packaged in a brown paper bag.

Small items are grouped and placed into a brown paper bag. Much less waste compared to the shipping boxes we have grown accustomed to with mail order. The bag has your address and the delivery time window prominently marked on a large label that is used to seal the paper bag.



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.

Credit Update and Rewards Eligibility

I was glad to see the credit transaction posted to my credit card account with Chase. Not just because I got my partial refund, but I also noted that despite the Chase card not being ‘officially supported’ by Android Pay I still accrue the correct rewards points percentage on my credit card.

Android Pay is working just fine as far as I am concerned.

Credits and Rewards points work just fine with Android Pay.

Credits and Rewards points work just fine with Android Pay.

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.


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