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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Laptop is Dead! Long Live My New Laptop!

A little over two weeks ago, I saw a message on my laptop screen that I had not seen before.  From the other side of the room, it did not look like a normal message.  With a little trepidation, I walked over to my laptop and sat down in my desk chair.  The message was indeed not normal, and it was not good.  The message indicated there was a hardware problem, and the system had stopped running.   I restarted the laptop, but the Windows operating system would not come up.  I could not do anything on the laptop.  It was effectively dead.  I took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy to see if it could be fixed.  They could not determine what hardware part had failed.   The Geek Squad sent it to another place to get more expertise on the problem, but they were unable to determine the cause of the failure either.  They did say the mother board was probably the cause.  They also said the hard drive was still good.  I was relieved about that since I was worried about losing my data even though I had back ups.  To make a long story short, they did not have the parts to fix it, and even if they did, it would probably cost more to fix it than for me to buy a new one.  The laptop was over 6 years old, so I knew I was due for a new one.  Thus it did not take much convincing to decide to buy a new laptop.

I have had my new laptop for 8 days now, and I am very happy with it so far.  It is a Dell Inspiron 7000 series with a 15.5 inch screen, measured diagonally.  The screen is high definition with super great picture definition.  It is also a touch screen.  It runs Windows 8.1, which I am enjoying learning.  It has an Intel core i5 processor, which is quite fast enough for what I use a laptop for. It is made out of aluminum instead of plastic and looks very sharp.  I am certainly getting more bang for the buck than with my last laptop.  I paid over twice as much for the last laptop than this one, and the new one has so much better hardware and software.  That is a normal occurrence with technology.  The price goes down, and the technology is a lot better over time.  Dell's reputation has gone down over the last few years, but if my new laptop is any indication, their reputation should start heading in the opposite direction.  My old laptop had its day, but now its day is over.  Long live the new laptop.