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.





Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless

6 04 2011

Hotspot Dashboard - Click to Enlarge

Sprint offer a wireless hotspot device for their 3g and 4g networks. I took a device on evaluation from Sprint recently and tested how well it worked at my home. My address is not listed as supported for Clearwire wireless internet, which is the same network as the Sprint 4g devices use. So I was interested to see how well it would work.

AT&T DSL Speeds - Click to Enlarge

First I tested the speed of my AT&T DSL broadband as a comparison between wireless and land-line capability. My DSL is marginal where I live (which seems to apply to any service I have looked into). DSL Download/Upload speeds achieved were 2.35 Mb down and 0.32 Mb up. Pretty pedestrian by today’s broadband offerings and demands from services such as Netflix streaming.

Sprint 3g Speeds - Click to Enlarge

I then switched on the Sprint Hotspot device. It sync’d using 3g only. Power cycling didn’t encourage it to connect to 4g at all. Maybe my home is just too far out. The speeds I got with Sprint 3g are 0.33 Mb Down and 0.24 Mb Up. Very slow indeed. I got much better speeds using my Droid as a tethered modem using Verizon wireless 3g network.

Perturbed by the very slow speeds I decided read the manual and discovered where the factory reset button is. Being an eval unit someone ahead of me may have set some weird and wonderful setting. After a successful reset and reboot the device immediately connected to the 4G network. I checked the firmware, it is up to date, all it needed was a factory reset.

Sprint 4g - Click to Enlarge

The signal strength varied between 20% and 40%, so my address is clearly marginal for Sprint. I tested the performance and got 4.92 Mbs Down and 0.92 Mbs Up. Much better and superior to my AT&T DSL. This is fast enough to support HD quality movie streaming from Netflix and others. I am due to get uVerse installed in a few days so will update this post with those speeds as a direct comparison.

The hotspot device can be used as a Wifi hotspot supporting up to 5 clients, or as a tethered device. The management console is clear and easy to use. I was able to change from WEP encryption to WPA2 easily enough, the unit rebooted after this change and worked just fine.

I switched on GPS location to see how that would work. The unit consistently failed to get a GPS lock inside my home. My Motorola Droid never has issues, so the GPS sensitivity for this device seems poor.

The device looks like a hockey puck, is reasonably light and is easily thrown into a laptop bag. It uses a universal Micro USB charger, so you don’t need to carry its charging cable/wall plug if you already have one for your phone or other device(s). As standard the device comes with a quick start guide. To get the full manual, one needs to download this from Sprints support website.

Compared to Verizon wireless LTE, the Sprint network is a step behind in terms of raw speed. Reports of 10Mb down and 3 Mb up on Verizon LTE hotspots reveal that the Verizon 4g is a step above the older Sprint/Clearwire 4g. Speed isn’t everything though. Verizon put a 10GB monthly cap on their hotspot devices, Sprint’s claim to fame is that their unlimited means truly unlimited. So if you want to stream Netflix movies and therefore consume large amounts of bandwidth, the Spring hotspot device makes better financial sense.

If AT&T U-verse disappoints, I will seriously consider a Clearwire modem or this 4g hotspot from Sprint. As much as I like LTE from Verizon and already being  a Verizon customer, the 10GB cap would be way too restrictive for my home internet needs. Sprint have made the right choice in not placing caps on their wireless service, no one wants an unexpected bill at the end of the month because you used ‘too much’ bandwidth. 10GB is hardly classifiable as hogging bandwidth in this day and age. A 10GB cap on a individual smartphone sounds OK, but on a  hot spot, it’s outlandish. Congratulations to Sprint for getting this right, shame on Verizon.





Google’s Two Step Verification – Why everyone needs to use it

15 03 2011

Google Authenticator Logo

Google have introduced a new feature called 2-step verification. To learn the basics read the Google Guide.

Why you Need it

This feature is a must have security feature that should make it very difficult for anyone to hack into your Google account, which is much more than simply your email. Google has a slew of products that you maybe using that store detailed personal information about you. Protecting this information is important to prevent Identity Fraud

Using the 2-step verification ensures that only authorized computers/devices will accept your Google password therefore restricting access to your Google email and other data. If someone finds out Read the rest of this entry »





How to get a replacement Belt Clip for the ‘obsolete’ Driod.

18 01 2011

If you own the original Droid, getting accessories has become more difficult. Verizon do not stock accessories for the Droid now that they no longer sell the phone. (They now sell the Droid X or Droid 2). This is a little frustrating since I am still under contract for another 8 months, not stocking accessories for phones less than 2 years old and still under contract leaves the customer at sea.

I recently broke my belt clip and looked for a cheaper generic belt clip. I soon found they often use a magnet to hold them closed, which puts the Droid into driving or desktop modes. So I tried the local Verizon store only to be told I was out of luck, they no longer sell Droid accessories.

I was about to leave the store when I noticed a Droid 2 belt clip. I enquired if it would fit. ‘No’ was the answer, ‘the Droid 2 has buttons in a different location’. I asked if could try and soon discovered the holster fits the original Droid like a glove. It is the front and rear snap on components that don’t fit the original Droid. My belt clip was broken at the holster, the snap on components are just fine and match the new holster both in color and design.

Problem solved.

Don’t readily accept a no from a Verizon sales rep, they only want to sell new stuff. I won’t sign a two year contract again either. A one year contract is plenty long enough given the pace of change in the smart phone marketplace and the rapid abandonment of the products by all involved





Froyo Woes – Maps and Pandora

7 09 2010

Google Maps navigation voice prompts stops Pandora music playing!

The Android 2.2 update has brought many good things to the Droid user, however I discovered recently that since the 2.2 update Maps does not play nicely with Pandora anymore. While getting audible directions while navigating I used to enjoy Pandora, maps would simply mute Pandora while it spoke its directions. Now Maps paues Pandora and Pandora eventually dies, requiring a restart.

The problem is definitely a result of the Android update, I found an official Google support forum where many hundreds of users complained of the same issue. Apparently the issues affects the stock media player as well.

Let’s hope a fix is in the works – soon.

Update October 3rd 2010 – Recent updates to both Pandora and Google Maps seem to have resolved this annoying issue. Now I can both navigate and listen to my favorite music channel  on my Droid once again.





Official Audible App for Android – Beta now available!

5 06 2010

Audible have been slow to support Android devices, not sure why but the wait is over. Google and Audible have teamed up and there is now an official beta app available that works with your Audible account/library. To get it visit the Audible for Android (Beta) group at Google Groups.  At the time of writing (June 5th 2010) there are 3231 members of this group, so there are not many folks out there aware of this beta application. Hopefully I can spread the word via this blog :-)

Installation

The download is not available on the Android market so you need to setup your phone to allow downloads from ‘unknown sources’. To do so enter the settings on your android phone, select applications and check ‘Unknown Sources’. Now visit the download page on a desktop PC scan the QR code using your android device. Once the download is complete click on the .apk file and follow the installation prompts.

How Good is It?

I have found the beta to be stable on the Motorola Droid (Version 0.136b). As soon as you authenticate the application to your Audible account it updates the items you have in your Audible library, presents them in a list that can be sorted several useful ways and allows one to select the items for download.

One ‘drawback’ of this application is that it can only download and play Audible’s enhanced audio format. This means the downloads are quite big, 28MB per hour of audio. Not all titles are available in the enhanced format, out of my library of 24 titles, 2 are not available in enhanced audio format, so I can’t play them using this android app. This level of audio fidelity is wasted on a mobile device one will use while exercising, driving the car etc. As a result it is best to download the files while attached to a WiFi network for speed and to ensure you don’t hit any download caps your provider may have set. This means you really need to download files prior to heading out the door. In the discussion forum the developers have mentioned they will support lower fidelity file types in the future. The only way to download enhanced audio format using the app is to first ensure that your audible media is setup as enhanced using your account on the web, you can’t change format via the phone.

If you already have the enhanced audio files downloaded to your PC/Mac it is possible to simply copy the .aax files to the Audible folder on your android phone and the application will automatically detect them when it is launched. The application gives one a simple way to remove old audio files from your phone to free up space, long hold the title and chose remove.

The application fully supports chapters and bookmarks as with other audible players on other devices and on your desktop. One feature that appears to b missing is the ability for it to synchronize the place in any audio file to allow one to pick-up where you left off if you resume on another device. This feature is present with some supported audible devices, so this is a disappointment.

At this time it is not possible to search for or add books to your library via the app, you have to visit the website to do that, after which one can refresh your library on the phone and download the ebook. I am certain they will add this feature soon, it will encourage book purchases so should be high on the feature list for the app.

One feature of all audible players I dislike is the inability to manually advance to any point in the current file and therefore skip over uninteresting parts of the audio track. This application is no exception. Book chapters can be an hour or more each so I don’t find the ability to jump to/from chapters meets all of my needs. Android media player is much better in this respect. If you really need this ability then convert your audible files to mp3’s and play using the Android media player using the procedure I detailed in this other post. However the convenience to download directly to your android device instead of going through a multi-step process on your computer somewhat makes up for this drawback.

Summary

This is a must download for anyone who has an Audible account and an Android device.