Why Mobile Payments Will Fail


If you aren’t familiar with the concept of mobile payments, here’s a quick little rundown of how they work.

First, you must sign up with any number of services out there such as Google Wallet or Isis Wallet. These serve as your “bank” in which you can deposit money or have it transferred from your “real bank,” the one that you can touch and walk into. The services I’ve used have also given me up to $30 on my accounts just to get things going and to see how convenient it is. Free money.

Second, you need to have a compatible smartphone equipped with NFC (Near Field Communications). Using your virtual bank’s app, this allows it to communicate with the point-of-sale PIN pad and will deduct the purchase total from the balance on your account.

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Finally, you need to find a retailer that is capable of processing payments via NFC and more often than not, each service’s website or app will find every one that is around you.

And that’s the start of the trouble.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the concept of mobile payments. I’ve used it on a number of occasions and it’s quick and easy – when it works. I’ll get to that later.

But first, let’s look at vendors. One of the first things I noticed was that it’s not everywhere and mostly, not in places I’d frequent. For example, looking at one app’s map of vendors, the following are listed:

  • A smoke shop
  • Dry cleaners
  • An eyebrow threading service

I’m pret-ty sure I won’t be using any of those soon, and the places where you’d think mobile payments would be handy don’t have it. Grocery stores would be one of those places and there’s only one local chain that is mobile wallet-friendly (and it’s not my company). In short, there’s just not enough useful NFC POS vendors around. Not even any of our local coffee houses, including that evil Seattle-based giant, accepts them. On the other hand, there are some soda vending machines that accept mobile payments and that could come in handy should you not have any cold, hard cash on you.

The second and final reason I think this concept will fail is this: not enough vendor education. I’ve been to places that accept mobile payments and when it came time to pay, the employees looked at me as if I was Mr. Spock standing there with a lightsaber (yeah, I know, blah blah blah). While there are only a handful of places that do accept them, finding an employee who actually knows how to process them, let alone knows what the hell it is, is indeed rare.

This happened to me yesterday at The Flame Broiler. I placed my order and when it came time to pay, I showed the cashier my phone indicating that I wanted to pay via my mobile wallet.

Deer in headlights. Complete silence. Utter disbelief. Smeckeldorfed.

They had absolutely no clue how to run it so I had to pull out my debit card and pay with real, physical plastic. I wanted to avoid this because I got $20 added to my virtual account when I opened it so I thought, “Hey, free meal. Dinner is on me tonight!”

Yeah. No. And this wasn’t the first time this happened to me, either.

While a great concept, I get the feeling that these problems will ultimately lead to its demise. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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I’m Down


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There’s a corner in my den that is dedicated to my creativity, a place where I am surrounded by the things that bring me comfort and peace. It’s the desk where I draw, do calligraphy and most importantly, where I sit with my laptop and compose blog posts.

But things have changed.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t blogged much lately. That’s because my somewhat trusty Dell laptop took a serious dump (read: failed hard drive with very minimal use) and is no longer working. In fact I’m composing this post on my Samsung Galaxy Tab because I don’t want to use our main computer in the living room, even if it makes blogging easier (with the help of Windows Live Writer). I prefer the privacy of the den when I write.

Composing posts on a tablet, while comfortable when relaxing in my lounge chair, can also be annoying. It’s got a smaller screen, the WordPress app is completely different than using Windows Live Writer, and inserting pictures can be cumbersome. So if you don’t see many pictures on upcoming posts, then that’s why: they are a pain to work with.

At any rate, in saying all that, I will continue to use my tablet as a means to blog whether I like it or not as I have no immediate plans to replace the laptop. I’m sure my solitary reader/subscriber will appreciate the effort.

Thanks, Mom!*

And oh, I was supposed to be in Las Vegas right now for a wedding on Saturday but it just didn’t work out financially. Even for only two days, it’s pretty much out of reach for someone like me who is working part-time and it only gets worse when you factor in gas and meals. So while I would have liked to have gone, it just didn’t work. The only thing it got me (and Ann) was deleted from the groom’s Facebook friends but I think I’m okay with that. I’m a resilient guy. Some aren’t.

Moving on.

*Mom really isn’t a subscriber but you probably knew that already.

Disposable Socks


houdini__spanI’m currently doing laundry but taking a break to discuss an important matter.

My socks.

I wear them once and they seemingly disappear into thin air, never to be reunited with their mate ever again. In that respect, they are disposable: use once and throw away.

But the thing is that I don’t throw them away. They just never come back once in the laundry, as if they were trapped here longing for a more meaningful relationship with my feet and I just couldn’t provide it, so one made a run for it.

Granted, I shouldn’t complain too much about the wearing of socks during the summer months in California since I tend to wear one of my four pairs of flip-flops* during said period of time, but come on. YOU HAD ONE JOB, SOCKS.

It’s also worth mentioning that the only pairs of socks that do find their mates are always my black ones, or the ones I wear to work. The whites – I wear those for running – and greys are gone, gone, gone. This was even after I went through a bunch of mismatched pairs and threw them out, replacing them with eight new pairs of New Balance socks.

No dice. Maybe my socks are trying to tell me something: work more and run less.

Stupid socks.

We even tried a lingerie bag in the hopes of keeping them together, but the bag’s zipper was snagging all my pantyhose so I had to stop using it. Ahem.

At any rate, yeah. You just read a blog post about my socks.

I just wonder if the great Harry Houdini this problem.

 

*Before you think that $50+ is too much for flip-flops, then you’ve never worn a pair of Rainbows. Meh. It’s a California thing.

Legit


Well, it’s official: as of today, I’m a permitted motorcycle rider according to the wonderful state of California.

Permitted but not licensed. I will get that one I pass the skills exam, the behind-the-handlebars test that shows the DMV that I can skilfully navigate through a row of five cones and a “lollipop” course, both scenarios that drivers routinely encounter on a daily basis here in the Golden State.

I’m being facetious, of course.

But yeah, anyway. I had been reading the official handbook and studying for the written exam off and on until I got a good idea about what the test might include. Once I believed I had learned enough, I went online to schedule an appointment to take the written exam.

That was a week ago. I now had a week to make sure I knew my stuff, so I then started taking some online quizzes that are supposed to be very similar to what the DMV administers. I took them over and over this past week plus studied the handbook in PDF format. And while you get three attempts to pass the exam, I wanted to be done with it on the first try, hence my endless studying.

And people, I did that. I fell asleep countless times with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 on my lap, the screen still displaying the page where I left off. For that week, I did nothing online at night. I wanted to get this exam done and over with.

Well, today was the day I made it happen and like most Californians, I despise dealing with the DMV. Even with an appointment the place is always packed with not just people who need to be there, but also their entire families complete with screaming kids. And, at least to me, most people there seem to be shady or of criminal intent. Call me crazy but that’s just how I feel. It’s a perfect environment for taking tests for a legal document that shows you know how to drive.

Fortunately, freaky people and families aside, my process turned out to be painless, probably because a) I had an appointment and b) I filled out my forms properly. That said, I don’t think the appointment expedites things as much as correct paperwork does. It makes the otherwise miserable DMV employees a bit less stressed when they are dealing with someone who is competent.

The good thing about going to the DMV is that the average person doesn’t have to go there more than maybe a dozen times in their life and usually there are years between said visits. At 45, I’d wager to say that I’ve been there maybe a total of six times for exams and behind-the-wheel tests. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was there but I do know that when I took my exam, it was on paper.

It’s not like that anymore. The DMV now uses touchscreen monitors which I think is an attempt to not only cut down on paper use but to also discourage cheating. The exam questions are no longer numbered as they used to be on paper so there’s no real way to cheat. They could also be completely randomized as far as I know, and your incorrect answers are shown immediately after you touch the Submit button.

But I didn’t know this when I started taking my first exam which was the standard driving test that I was required to take for some reason. I answered the questions and didn’t know if I was getting them right or not until, finally, I got one wrong. I missed only one question on the driving exam.

Then I started the motorcycle exam. This was it and I was nervous.

I read the first question and chose my answer: it was wrong. Ugh. I was screwing this one up already. That sort of set the stage for the rest of the exam with me taking my time with each question, pressing the Submit button with my face wincing as if in pain.

The exam seemed to go on forever with me missing a few here and there. I think I was up to about five wrong answers when I started to feel the pressure. I didn’t know when it was going to end when finally, after what seemed like Question 5,742, I submitted my answer.

There was a message on the screen congratulating me on passing the motorcycle exam. I took a deep breath, pumped my fist, then finally smiled. It was over, and I can finally ride without fear of being pulled over. Because, you know, police are always looking for guys on scooters to bust for exceeding the speed limit.

I walked over to waited in another line to turn in my paperwork for approval. The clerk congratulated me, I had my picture taken (it’s 1,000x better than my Class C license, back when I was a 300-pound gastropod), and I was done. She then told me I had a year to schedule my skills test which gives me some time to get even more used to riding. I’ll wait a bit to schedule that one.

In the meantime, I’m just happy to have gotten this far and that my endless nights of studying paid off.

Composed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 using the WordPress app, because the laptop was too cumbersome for me tonight.

Haunted


I Ain't Afraid Of No GhostFolks, I’m going to come right out and say it: our house is haunted.

There have been at least three things that have happened over the course of about a month that have convinced me that such is the case and no, they have not been ordinary. If they were, then obviously I wouldn’t be going out on a limb and writing this post.

And before you ask, no, I’m not going to call in Zak Bagans and his idiot Bro Crew from Ghost Adventures. That show is a joke and Bagans is about as bright as the guy who bagged your groceries today.

Wait, what? Anyway, here we go.

Incident 1: The Flyer
We’re those kind of people who get more junk mail than anything else. No honestly, we get more than you. It’s a fact and there will be no arguing over it, mister/ma’am.

One day, Ann had gone through the daily pile of junk mail and kept a flyer for some reason. It was made from a heavy card stock and was sitting on the kitchen table. I wandered into the kitchen to grab a snack of some sort. My back was leaning against the countertop near the sink and I was facing the kitchen table – and the flier went flying off the table and landed on the ground near the pantry. It wasn’t the fact that it flew off the table that caught my attention; it was the manner in which it did.

The flyer took off  like it was tied to a string that was yanked very hard and while in flight, it had absolutely no rotation. You know, like how an index card would spin if you flung it across the room? Yeah. This was nothing like that. It took off at a speed that couldn’t have been attributed to any breeze that may have been going through the house at the time. It was sheer force that made it take off like that and in a straight line to the floor. I have no explanation for how it happened but I saw it with my own eyes.

Incident 2: Early Morning Footsteps
When I’m not blogging or sitting at my drawing desk, I’ve made it a habit to relax in my huge lounge chair in the den, kick up the leg rest, pop in my earbuds, and listen to some white noise to lull myself to sleep. Even if I don’t feel like sleeping, the white noise also helps to mask my tinnitus which can he downright unbearable at times.

And sometimes I fall asleep in the chair and Ann will leave me there, knowing I’m perfectly comfortable, while she retires to the bedroom to go to bed. This is what happened the other night when I woke up around 4:30 am and took my earbuds out (they had been in my ears since around 10:30 pm the previous night). Shortly after I took them out and started rolling around in the chair, I heard the sound of footsteps going into the kitchen.

We have two cats and a dog that like to walk around the house as they see fit, but the sound was not like any they can produce. We know when Arliss (dog) is walking because we can hear his claws clacking on the hardwood floor and the cats, well, they are pretty light on their feet and don’t make much sound, except when they run. And even then, it sounds nothing like when any of the humanoids in the house walk.

And that’s what this sounded like: human footsteps going into the kitchen. I stayed in my chair and looked over in the direction of the kitchen and didn’t see anyone. I got up and checked on Anthony and he was sawing logs. I went into the bedroom and asked Ann if she had been up a few minutes ago. Nope, everyone was asleep except for me, but I know what I heard.

Incident 3: The Purse
This happened just yesterday. I was in the kitchen – I really need to stay out of there – to get a drink. Just as I was leaving to go into the living room, Ann’s purse (resting on the chair) fell onto the ground.

But like the flyer, it didn’t appear as if it was just gravity that made it move. The purse looked like it was pushed hard off of the chair and, get this, did a complete 360 in the air before landing right-side up. Seriously, it made one complete rotation before hitting the ground and nothing fell out of it.

So far these are the only things I’ve seen happen around here and haven’t actually seen any shapes or forms nor have I captured any in the background of pictures I’ve taken in the house. As for who we might think it could be, well, we do have an idea.

Ann’s grandfather was a neat freak. The house we live in was his, and it can be quite messy at times.

Needless to say, Ann and Anthony spent the day cleaning it up while I was at work.

I’ll keep you posted if anything else happens but until then…

A Mickey Mouse Job, Part Deux


As you might recall in a previous blog post, I had an interview with The Happiest Place on Earth and in the end was given a note telling me that I was pretty much short-listed should any positions become available.

Deep down inside I never thought they’d call, but I got an email a few days ago stating that they were still interested and to schedule a time for the Casting Agent to call me. I did just that.

My interview was scheduled for 10:30 am today, July 18, just one day after Disneyland’s 59th birthday.

They called 9:20 am. The Casual Part-Time position of Vacation Planner (read: Ticket Seller) was offered.

And I turned it down.

Mickey-Mouse-Surprised

I know there are tons of people in this world that would most likely kill at the chance to work for Disneyland and are yelling at their collective monitors right now because of my decision, shaking their fists in disgust.

But most people I know who do work there are a tad bit obsessed with The Mouse and all he represents. But I’m not one of those folks.

I applied at a time when I needed a job and was fully committed to working when they wanted me to. We also had two cars back then and the situation was a little different. Yes, I could ride my scooter but coming home at odd hours of the night could prove to be unsafe.

Things have changed since I applied and I wasn’t ready to commit myself to it so I did what I had to do, and I have even more reasons.

First, the hours. There was simply no guarantee of the hours I would be getting which would defeat the purpose. For a part-time job that requires 100% of your time, I think that’s kind of ridiculous. At least I have some flexibility at my current job, so much so that I was able to land a second job just this week. More on that later.

Second, things are happening at work. Our manager has his eyes on two people that he wants to promote as soon as Corporate allows him to, one of which is yours truly. It may take a few months but I am guaranteed it is going to happen. Besides, I’ve already paid my union dues and I’m never getting them back.

Third, I have a family. As a neophyte, The Mouse needs you to be there whenever he wants you to and that includes Friday nights, weekends, and holidays. That’s zip-a-dee-doo-dah fine and well for someone with absolutely no commitments (*cough*my brother*cough) but I have mine, and I enjoy the time we have together. I’m just not ready for that – at least at minimum wage.

Then, of course, is the adherence of their strict personal appearance policy or the “Disney Look.” I sort of don’t like someone having control over the way I look. That should be my choice.

I understand that there are magical perks when it comes to working there, such as free Park entry to ANY Disney Park in the world and, of course, the mystique that comes along with saying that you work for the original Disneyland, Walt’s dream-come-to-life.

I had to weigh the good with the bad here and in my case, there was more bad than good. During the interview I did tell them that I would honestly love to commit to it, I just can’t do it with my current impending promotion and second job. The Casting Agent even asked if it would interfere with my current job so that should tell you what they expect.

So I won’t be selling anyone Disneyland tickets any time soon, and I think I’m okay with that.

Now, onto the second job.

Seeing my hours getting cut at my current job, I felt I had to to something in order to make up for them. I was scouring Craigslist nightly since most job sites aren’t really offering anything I was interested in.

But Craigslist offered one that seemed intriguing, a simple retail position. I’ve worked retail. Should be easy. I applied, interviewed, and was hired on the spot for a part-time position at store that will be opening soon. If you’re a fan of the blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of it before.

So now I have two jobs, both of which are close enough for me to ride my scooter around safely. One is less than a mile from home; the other might be a little over a mile away. I could work both on the same day if I needed to without any goofy restrictions or need to be available all hours of the day or holidays (although I did work on the 4th of July). When compared to what The House of Mouse wanted, my work-life balance will be much more stable this way.

And that makes me happy…just not happy enough to link to the Pharrell Williams song of the same name…

Ten Years of Nonsense


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Ten years. That’s how long I’ve been dumping my brain droppings onto the Interwebs with this here blog.

And through it all, The Blog Formerly Known As SickSenseOfHumor.net has seen its share of cosmetic changes yet one thing remains the same, at least for the most part: the content.

Yes, I started off rather brash with my opinion of local television coverage of wildfires. And for what it’s worth, my opinion of the coverage has not changed. I still find it unnecessary.

I’ve also let it loose on a certain church founder who believed that his church needed more money because attendance was down. Ahem.


Then for a long time, nothing of major significance happened – at least that I can recall off of the top of my head. Well, in 2013 tried to blog each and every day for a solid year and was pretty committed to it…
for 75 days at least.

I stopped there and took a little break. In fact, I even “retired” from blogging back in 2009.

It lasted two days.

tenThen, on a personal note, I decided that studying the way of the Buddha was probably the best thing for me since I won’t and still can’t commit myself to any one Christian belief. I did my best to keep that going and still dabble on occasion but figured that it’s just best to be good to people while you can. Buddhism can get complex if you’re not ready for it.

So as you can see, I’m like a bad penny: I always seem to come back, and I intend to keep it that way.

But enough about me. Let’s go over some blog stats.

  • Number of posts: 1,196 including this one. That’s an average of 119.6 every year or the equivalent of blogging around 1/3 of the year.
  • Total number of views: 105,583 as of this post. That’s pretty weak.
  • Best Day: 1,120 views. There is no link to the post as I deleted it once I felt that I had been duped on the information I was given, and by following links to the message board where my traffic was coming from that day. Let’s just say that it was on that day when I decided to trust my brother a little less on, well, everything he says.
  • Facebook followers: 20. Again, pretty lame.
  • Other followers and subscribers: 244 via WordPress and some more on Gravatar. I have no idea how to check.
  • Total comments: 1,429 and most of them are me replying to people.

So there you go. Ten years of blogging in the books. And yes, I intend to keep it going for however long I think I need to.

And now, if you don’t mind, it’s time to celebrate the only way us old(er) people know how.

Goodnight. I’m heading over to my Barcalounger and catching some zees.