Monday, July 20, 2015

The great Google Wallet Card experiment

A few weeks ago, the family and I drove across the country and back, over 1000 miles each way. A drive like that necessitates stopping at lots of gas stations along the way, often in remote, middle-of-nowhere type of places. With all the recent problems surrounding card skimming, the prospect of swiping my debit card at random shady gas stations along I-95 was not appealing.

So, I decided to do a little experiment. Google Wallet is a multi-featured service that lets you do things like tap-to-pay with your phone, send money to friends, manage store loyalty cards, etc. Similar to PayPal, Wallet also lets you transfer money into your virtual wallet and then use to pay for things. You can add funds to your Wallet balance from any bank account for free, or from a credit card for a small fee. Once money is in your account, you can use it to buy things online, to send to friends, to buy things with your phone, or to buy things using the Google Wallet physical card.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Read this: Magic 2.0 Series by Scott Meyer

It's not often that you come across a book that's truly unique. Most books, even the really good ones, are still variations on a theme that's been done before. Mystery dramas, political thrillers, science fiction, magical fantasy, they're all well cemented genres that have their place in literature. There's nothing wrong with that, and most good stories (books or movies) take tried and true storytelling techniques and add new elements to make it unique.

So it's hard to find a book/movie that you'd label as being genuinely unique, one that's hard to fit into existing genre boundaries. Well, that's exactly what this series is. Don't worry, no spoilers here.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My favorite Android Wear watch faces for the LG G Watch R and Watch Urbane

A quick search of the Play Store reveals a seemingly endless list of custom watch faces for Android Wear. There are analog ones, digital ones, classic ones, and bright colorful ones. But no matter how flashy or nice they look, they are not all created equal, especially when it comes to the G Watch R and Watch Urbane. The two round LG watches both use an AMOLED screen and have an ambient mode that leaves the display on and lit up 24/7.

With a bright, beautiful screen, it's disappointing to find watch faces that don't take advantage of it. So many of the nicest ones only look good when the screen is active and fade to a dull, boring mode when it goes to sleep, almost as if ambient mode were an afterthought. That's fine for watches like the Moto 360 where the screen insists on turning off when not in use, but for the G Watch R and Watch Urbane, the ambient mode is just as important as the active mode.

So, with that in mind, here are my favorite watch faces for the LG G Watch R or Watch Urbane:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The LG G Watch R is everything the Moto 360 isn't

After briefly owning the Moto 360 (and subsequently returning it), I tried to figure out if the problems I had with it were shortcomings of Android Wear as a platform, or with the watch itself. I wore my Pebble for a few weeks after giving up on the 360, but I had my eye on the LG G Watch R, which I mentioned in my previous post.

I finally decided to try again and give Android Wear another shot with a different watch. I'm glad I did. The G Watch R is everything the Moto 360 isn't.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What eBay's new seller fees are trying to accomplish

A few weeks ago, on May 1st, eBay made some drastic changes to their fee structure and selling limits. As someone who's been selling on eBay for almost 14 years, I'm a seasoned veteran at enduring eBay fee changes, they typically happen once a year. But this one was different. This one marks a paradigm shift for what eBay is trying to be as a marketplace and where they want to go in the future. In my opinion, this is eBay trying to be more like Amazon.

So what changed? Let's take a look...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A long-time Pebble wearer's opinion on the Moto 360

I've been wearing my Pebble watch for about a year and a half now and I still like it. I am totally sold on the idea of smartwatches and have been on the lookout for a possible upgrade to my Pebble, but nothing has caught my eye. So when the Moto 360 recently went on sale, I decided to go for it. I wore it for 4 days and then returned it.

To be honest, it doesn't compare. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I think in most respects, the Pebble is a superior product. The Moto 360 looks far, far nicer than the Pebble, and Android Wear is a very capable watch OS. But its battery life and screen kill it as a product.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Iced tea math

Since giving up coffee, unsweetened iced tea has been my drink of choice. The cheapest places to buy it typically sell a 32oz cup for 99 cents. With tax, that makes each cup $1.06.

So, for Christmas, I got myself an iced tea maker. This one, to be precise. The price was slightly lower when I got it: $37.00.

I found tagless black tea bags at Walmart for about $1.50 for 100 bags. The iced tea maker uses approx 8 tea bags per pitcher, and each pitcher fills my travel cup (this one) two times (with a little left over).

So! Assuming two fills per 8 tea bags, that means I can get 25 travel cups of tea per 100 count box. At $1.50 per box, that means each refill of tea costs me 6 cents.

Ergo, each refill is saving me exactly $1.00, so the iced tea maker will pay for itself in 37 days, after which I will be saving a full dollar every time I make tea myself instead of buying it.

Obviously, there are variables, like the cost of the water I'm using to make the tea (very tiny cost, but still there), and the cost of the electricity to power the iced tea maker (again, very small). So it's not quite as cut and dry as saving a full dollar. But hey, it's still a massive savings over buying the tea at a convenience store, amirite?