Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Laptop Upgrade is Complete

Well, I said in my previous post that I would let everyone know how my upgrade to my laptop went.  The upgrade was completed yesterday, but not without a little drama (it is no fun when it goes smoothly).

The first minor problem occurred when I was informed the Dell kit would be delivered on Thursday, not Wednesday as originally promised.  A minor setback, but it did try my patience a little bit.  

The kit was delivered Thursday afternoon by FedEx, so I immediately opened the packaging.  I saw that the SSD was built by Samsung, not Dell.  That is a good thing since Samsung is a leader in SSDs.  I had not heard of a SSD made by Dell, so I actually was relieved that the one I got was made by Samsung.

The first major task I had to do was copy the data in my hard drive in my laptop to the SSD.  I had to download and install the copying software by Acronis.  I attached the SSD to a USB port, my fastest one, and then executed the software.   It took a little less than 2 hours to complete the data transfer.

The second major task was to take out the hard drive and install the the new SSD.  Here is where a major problem occurred.  There were two or three screws that would not come out.  I was stuck.  On Friday morning between my GED classes, I went to Lowes and Home Depot to see if they had a smaller screwdriver than the one I had purchased earlier in the week, thinking that the reason the screws would not come out was that my screwdriver was not small enough to get all the way down into the grooves.  I struck out at both places.

I then went to Best Buy to see if they could give me any advice on the matter.  They said that if I brought in my laptop, they would look at what might be the problem for free, and then go from there.  Of course, I did not have my laptop with me, and I was at the store in Manassas ( I live in Dumfries).  After my classes were over, I went home to get my laptop and drove to the Best Buy in Woodbridge since it was closer to home.  The guy there said that they would look at it, and if they could overcome the screw problem, they would install the SSD in 20 minutes for $40.00.  I said okay.  It turned out the screws were stripped, but they were able to get the screws out anyway.  I would not have been able to do that, so it was good that I took my laptop to Best Buy.  The SSD is working great, and the increase in speed is quite noticeable.  Now that SSDs have reduced in price, I would recommend to anyone to make this kind of upgrade.           

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Took the Plunge and Bought a SSD Drive

Since my laptop is made by Dell, I went on Dell's web site to research what SSDs might be compatible with my laptop.  After chatting online with a Dell agent, I bought a Dell SSD kit, which includes a Dell SSD, a cable, software for copying my hard drive onto the SSD, and instructions on how to install the SSD into my laptop.  The kit should arrive at my home on Wednesday.  Hopefully, I will have the SSD installed on my laptop no later than Thursday, and the laptop will be running better, maybe much better.  Needless to say, I am excited about doing this.  I will let you know how it all pans out.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Upgrading My Laptop

Yesterday I was browsing through YouTube videos when I came across a video about updating a laptop by changing the HDD hard drive to a SSD (solid-state) hard drive.  A SSD has no moving parts and runs much faster than a HDD.  It also cost more, but that cost has been going down just like other kinds of hardware cost go down over time.  I have looked at YouTube videos on how to install one, so I am going to be brave, or maybe foolish, and install it myself after I do purchase one.  Once installed, I should see a decrease in how long my laptop takes to startup and run programs.  Hopefully my laptop will be a lot more pleasurable to use with the increase in speed.  I will let you know how it goes.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thrilled Using Google Wallet

I am thrilled today.  Why am I so thrilled?  Today I finally completed the setup of my Google Wallet account by verifying my bank checking account as a funding source for my Google Wallet account.  

The first thing I did after this verification was to transfer some money from my checking account into my Google Wallet account.  It worked flawlessly with no extra charge for the transfer.  Now I feel much safer using my Google Wallet card for payments instead of my bank debit card.   My debit card has been compromised three times in about a year's time.  Now if my Google Wallet card is hacked, the hackers will only get a card number that is no longer valid.  So, take that, hackers!  Bring it on!  No longer do I have to worry about my checking account being drained of funds.  No longer do I have to go through the painful process of updating user accounts with my new debit card.  Hopefully I have updated my user accounts with my Google Wallet for the last time.  
You can see why I am thrilled.  It is a good feeling going into a store and paying with my Google Wallet card.  Oh, someday the hackers may find a way to hack the Google Wallet payment system, but it won't be anytime soon.  I am betting that Google will be able to keep their payment system secure.  It certainly is more secure than the debit/credit card payment system.

Yes, today I am thrilled! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Google Wallet, Venmo, and Credit Card Hacking

I have been using Google Wallet to pay for things about a month now.  I usually paid the bills at Wegmans, Panera Bread, and McDonald's with the Google Wallet app on my smartphone.  Then I ordered a Google Wallet card to use at vendors who do not accept payments via the smartphone.  The Google Wallet card is a MasterCard card and is accepted wherever MasterCard is accepted.  Now I can use Google Wallet everywhere.  I used it for the first time last week at Target.  It worked without a hitch.

It is ironic, at least to me, that I used my Google Wallet card at Target.  When credit cards were hacked a little more than a year ago at Target, my bank debit card was one of the cards that were compromised.  My bank quickly gave me a new debit card, and I lost no funds as a result of the hack.  Now if Target is hacked again, my bank account will be safe, or at least safer, as long as I use my Google Wallet card when I shop there.

Speaking of being hacked, my bank debit card was hacked again at Staples.  Again, my bank quickly gave me a new debit card last week, and I have not lost any funds as a result.  It was hacked this past September, well before I started using Google Wallet.  If I had been aware of Google Wallet and its capabilities before Target was hacked, my debit card would have never been compromised.

As a result of being compromised again, I have been updating my debit card info with my new debit card in all the places where I use a debit card.  One app that I use to transfer funds to another person is Venmo.  I went to edit that app on my smartphone to add my new debit card as a funding source and delete my old credit card.  After I did that, I realized something.  Venmo stated on that app that the app will charge 3% if I use my debit card as a funding source for the app.  However, I have not been charged anything extra when I use the app.  I realized that it was my bank account that I had deleted from Venmo instead of my old debit card.  I am not charged extra if I use my bank account as a funding source.  I have now added back my bank account as a funding source, and it is my primary funding source when I use Venmo.

I was mad at myself for being careless and deleting something that I did not want to delete.  Now I am glad I made that mistake.  Why?  Because I noticed on Google Wallet that when I transfer funds from my bank account to my Google Wallet account, I am charged a little extra.  I am using my debit card as a funding source instead of my bank account, thus I am being charged a little extra.  It works like Venmo does.  I am now in the midst of changing my funding source on Google Wallet to my bank account instead of my debit card.  I should no longer be charged extra when I do a funds transfer.  One mistake on Venmo made me realize I had made a mistake on Google Wallet.  Who knows how long it would have been before I discovered I did not have to pay extra when doing fund transfers in Google Wallet.  At least I know now.  Live and learn!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I Am Financially Safer This New Year's Day

With the advent of 2015, I feel that I am financially safer.  I started using Google Wallet on my smartphone this past December.  When paying with Google Wallet, you are using a one-time Google credit card number for that payment, and that number is only valid for that payment and is no longer valid after that payment.  Thus if that credit card number is hacked, it is useless for any payments made by that hacker.  My debit card is not used in the payment transaction, and the hacker cannot get to my debit card.

One significant drawback to Google Wallet is that it is not widely accepted by vendors.  I have been able to use Google Wallet at Wegmans, Panera Bread, and McDonald's.  I started to use Google Wallet when Apple Pay came out, but I don't have an iPhone, so I could not signup for Apple Pay.  However, because Apple in now in the smartphone payment business, more people have been using Google Wallet.  That hasn't yet encouraged more vendors to accept Google Wallet though.  Given time, I think more vendors will start using Google's payment system.  In the meantime, I feel a little nervous using my debit card for payment.

I noticed on the Google Wallet app that it mentioned a Google Wallet card.  I did some research, and Google Wallet cards are accepted at all vendors that accept MasterCard cards..  Once you activate it, your Google Wallet card is linked to your Google account on your smartphone.  You must have enough money in your Google Wallet account to cover the transaction.  You add money to your Google Wallet account by transferring the amount from your bank's debit card.  The transfer is done via the Google Wallet app, and it just takes a couple of minutes.

I just received my Google Wallet card yesterday, and I have activated it.  I have some money in my Google Wallet account, so I am ready to use the card.  Now I don't have to use my bank debit card for payments, and when I feel comfortable in doing so, I won't even have to keep my bank card with me when I am out and about.  I now feel financially safer in using my Google Wallet card instead of my bank debit card.  No system is perfectly safe, but at least it will be much harder for hackers to get to my bank account.  Even if my Google Wallet card is stolen, the most money they can get is the amount of money in my Google Wallet account.  Now all I have to do is go out and buy something with it.  Yes!  Progress is good!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paying for Meals and Groceries with a Smartphone

When Apple came out with their Apple Pay smartphone payment system, I wanted to be able to pay my bills with my smartphone as well because Apple was in the game and and smartphone payment systems promise secure payments.  I have twice been affected by unsecured payment systems at companies.   My debit card was compromised by the Target hacking debacle last year, and a few months later another company (a senior moment, I can't remember the name of the company) where I had used my debit card was hacked.  Fortunately, my bank account was not affected by these breaks in security, and my bank, The Fauquier Bank, was swift in giving me a new debit card each time.  It was hassle to change my card information on web sites where I pay for things online, but at least my money, what there is of it, was and still is safe.

However, there was a problem.  In order to use Apple Pay, you have to have an iPhone.  I don't have an iPhone, and I did not want to buy one to just to be able to use Apple Pay.  I do have another smartphone, the first HTC One.  It doesn't have Apple Pay on it, but I do have Google Wallet on it.  I have started to use it at restaurants and a grocery store.  I have been able to pay my restaurant bill at Panera Bread and McDonald's and my grocery bill at Wegmans, my favorite grocery store.  I would like to be able to use Google Wallet everywhere I go, but that is not possible now.  It is not widely accepted yet, but the debut of Apple Pay has increased the use of other smartphone payment systems such as Google Wallet.  Smartphone payment systems need to be deployed everywhere because hacking of companies and of banking accounts of people occurs everyday.  These systems won't stop hacking completely because no system is perfect, but they will protect people much better than what is in place now.  

It will be expensive to deploy these systems, but it will be more expensive not to deploy them.  Look at Target.  They have lost a lot of money and a lot of customers since they were hacked.  Maybe if they had installed at least one of these payment systems, things would have been different for them.  I was lucky.  I did not lose any money when my debit card was compromised.  I might not be so lucky if this happens to me again.  That is why given everything else being equal, I will use an establishment that has Google Wallet over one that doesn't.