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.

Thanks to TurboTax – IRS Reject my tax return

6 02 2012

IRS Reject my return - click to enlarge

This is the first year I have e-filed. It may be the last.

I submitted my return Saturday February 4th and the IRS rejected it Sunday evening. The reason given is that all parts of a multiple page form were not submitted. Intuit have acknowledged that their software is faulty and I will be able to resubmit on the 10th February, maybe.

The software doesn’t indicate which form is faulty. There is a  support page at Intuit’s website where you can register for email updates as the problem is worked by them.

It maybe a happy mistake after all, I thought of another deduction I can claim that I had overlooked, it won’t amount to much, but every bit helps.

TurboTax Support Page

New SharePoint 2010 book published by Wrox

15 11 2010

Wrox publishers have released a new SharePoint 2010 book‘Real World SharePoint 2010: Indispensable Experiences from 23 SharePoint MVPs

It promises to be very useful for those looking to setup and/or migrate a SharePoint farm from SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) to SharePoint 2010. My first impressions of the book are that it is very comprehensive and a boon to anyone working with the latest version of SharePoint. Each chapter of the book is written by a different author. The book claims each author is an Microsoft SharePoint MVP so the information should be some of the best available.

I purchased a copy in Kindle format from Amazon. I have found the book to be easy to navigate and search using a Kindle app on my PC. The table of contents is full of hyperlinks so you can quickly get where you want to go. Search is the real reason I got the e-book over the paper book. This type of technical book is very much a reference book, you don’t read it cover to cover like a novel. Being able to search is a very very useful feature. The book is always available to me on my Android phone or my Kindle or a PC; no leaving it at home or have the inconvenience of lugging this heavy book around.

Amazon are quite a bit cheaper than Barnes & Noble for both the paperback or the electronic e-book. Amazon are selling the title for about $28/$31 versus $33/$36 at B&N. Interestingly the Kindle e-book is $3 dollars cheaper than the paperback, but the Nook Book is $3 more. I wonder why Barnes & Noble want to charge more for the e-book?  The cover price is $49.99 so both retailers are discounting heavily.

Click to enlarge

I have included below a list of the chapter titles to give you a flavor of what the book contains.

So buy it here while you can!!

Kindle in short supply again

28 09 2010

After being ‘in stock’ for a few weeks Amazon have put a small shipping delay of 3-5 days on the Kindle 3. Both the 3g + Wifi and Wifi only models are subject to this restriction. The more expensive DX is in stock.

Click image to enlarge

In addition, Amazon are limiting customers to a total of 5 Kindles per account. If you have a genuine need for more than 5, you have to email Amazon at

When the Kindle was first released at the end of August it was on back-order for a few weeks due to strong pent-up demand. On September 15th Amazon showed the Kindle being in stock, presumably having received a new shipment and satisfying all outstanding orders.

Click image to Enlarge

E-book sales in July 2010 showed a surge in demand of over 25% compared to previous months, signaling that e-books are becoming main stream. Amazon recently announced that their sales of e-books exceeded the sales of hardcover books. The e-book revolution is here.

Pre-Release version of Kindle 3 software available

21 09 2010

Amazon have posted a preview version of a software update for the Kindle latest generation. The software is available for a limited time. If you intend to update be sure to download before it is removed

The release fixes several issues including

  • Slow web-browsing
  • Slow page turns in bright sunlight.

I find it ironic that page turns with the current Kindle 3 are slower in bright sunlight, especially after Amazon’s latest TV ad poking fun at the iPad’s readability in bright sunlight. I’m sure they will release the software update as soon as possible to save getting too much egg on their face regarding the sunlight issue. I believe their TV Ad campaign is flawed, read more here.

.To learn more about the Kindle visit the Kindle product page

New Kindle Owner – Week 1

19 09 2010

I placed my order for the latest Kindle 3 with Wifi + 3g on September 3rd 2010 and it arrived a few weeks later on September 16th. I’ve used it for a few days now and here are my first impressions :-

The Unexpected

Being sold out and on back order I resigned myself to having to wait 2 weeks to get the device before I could use it. However as I read up on the Kindle I quickly discovered you don’t actually need a Kindle at all to read Kindle books. Amazon have released Kindle applications for computers and smart phones. Visit this web page for more details.

I was able to install the Kindle app on my Android phone and start downloading and reading Kindle books immediately.  You don’t need to have ordered a Kindle to do this, the software is freely available.

I read HG Wells War of the Worlds. I had seen the TV reenactment of the famous radio version of this story. The book however was both different and delightful. Quite a satisfying read. I was amazed how readable the book was on an Android phone. I had read the entire book while waiting on the Kindle to arrive in the mail. I found the ‘Sepia’ theme to be the easiest on the eyes. I also experimented with the Desktop application on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It worked great and synchronized my reading place between devices across the internet. Amazon refer to this sync feature as WhisperSync. It works remarkably well.

I also discovered that many classic books are free, and some books are offered for free on short term promotions. Many books offer the first chapter for free.

By the end of the first week I had purchased 17 books. 15 free, 2 paid for, for a grand total of $10. I had registered 2 mobile devices and 4 computers to my Amazon account in addition to the yet to be received Kindle.

The Good

The Kindle arrived and I found the reading experience to be much better than anticipated, even given the positive reviews I had already read on the web. The text is very sharp thanks to great contrast. This is my first time to experience ‘e-ink’ and it is quite phenomenal. In bright light I find the readability to be superior to physical books.

Not only were all my purchases available directly upon opening of the box, but all my Audible titles were also available for download. The automatic synchronization between my Kindle and Audible accounts was seamless and the audio books sound great on the Kindle. I was able to pick up reading Stieg Larssons, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ where I had left off on my android device.

Free 3g wireless for the life of the service/device. What a deal!! No contracts, no fees just download content from anywhere with 3g data. It even works with Edge if 3g isn’t available.

The Bad

The price of e-books. You’ll notice I ‘purchased’ a lot of books at no cost, this sounds great, what can I complain about? The reason I selected free books is that current books are in my opinion over priced, as a rule of thumb, e-books are priced the same as paperbacks, or a smidgen less. Don’t blame Amazon, they wanted to price most e-books at $9.99 or less, but the publishers lead by Macmillan were successful in strong arming Amazon into charging more. Read more here . It is dismaying to see Apple at the center of the price hike as a result introducing the iPad earlier this year. More competition leads to higher prices!?! Am I missing something? I refer to higher e-Book prices that is, thanks to Apple the Kindle price is cut in half, hence my purchase :-)

Click to enlarge image

Amazon advertise the latest Kindle as having 4GB of storage. Well actually its more like 3GB usable storage. I’m accustomed to GB inflation from hard drive manufacturers, but 25% difference? Hmmm….

The Ugly

‘Experimental Features’ such as the MP3 player and Web Browser are not easy to use on the Kindle. The MP3 player is simply a jukebox that plays your MP3’s in the order they were loaded on the device. No controls.

The Web Browser is slow and very difficult to use without a pointing device. Using up/down/right/left arrows to navigate is very frustrating. One good note however, the browser scores 100 on the acid3 browser test and renders sites such as Gmail very well. Why offer a browser at all? To sell books of course.


I like it. I like it a lot. I recommend you get one even if you already have a laptop/notebook/iPad. This dedicated reading device is very compelling.

Why Amazon’s Kindle vs iPad ‘pool ad’ is a mistake

17 09 2010

Recently Amazon have aired an ad that makes fun of the iPads readability (or lack thereof) in bright sunlight.

In my opinion this is a huge mistake. The two products are complementary not competitive. What Amazon should be doing is comparing their Kindle Library to the Apple iBook Library. Content is king, devices will come and go, ones e-book library will by contrast persist for much longer.

Amazon’s Kindle library can be accessed on a wide range of devices, including the iPad no less. Making fun of a platform that you officially support is rather silly. Do Amazon really want to sell Kindles or do they want to sell Kindle books? Kindles are merely a delivery mechanism for the real product, a book, magazine, newspaper etc.

There are so many great things about the Kindle ecosystem that they could promote, the device isn’t that important. The fact that the 3g model has free worldwide 3g without any monthly cost or commitments is quite frankly amazing, push this and compare to the price of the iPads data plan. Free vs $$$ per month.

Learn more about the Kindle here.


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