Archive for May, 2011

Square

May 29th, 2011, 4:33pm by Mike

I can’t figure out why I’m so interested in Square, the sort-of new system that allows anyone to swipe physical credit cards on their mobile phones and accept payments. Interestingly, this tech would have been a Board-killer — we would probably have had a different name for this blog if Square had existed 15 years ago (wow).

So, for the uninitiated, there are two basic uses for Square:

  • First, the above — a free magnetic stripe reader that plugs into the headphone jack of iPhones or Android phones. You download the app, sign up for an account, and start swiping. A day later you get cash in your bank account, minus the 2.75% commission, which I understand is less than what most credit card processors take.
  • The second use is a setup between a buyer and a seller/store, whereby the buyer has a “tab” with the store. They can set this up on their phone, and when they order (a coffee, say), they can have it charged to their tab, without using their wallet. Hard to explain, this video may help.

The technology seems awfully cool, and I’m tempted to sign up and get my free reader. Two hangups, though:

  • Accepting credit cards, and getting money deposited to your bank account, requires giving Square your routing and account number information. Their FAQ even states that they will verify that they can deposit and withdraw money from your account. First, I can’t figure out why they might need to withdraw money from my account (disputed charge?). But more importantly, it seems like giving this information to Square is about 10x as risky as giving your credit card number to a website. Square will have a repository of verified, validated bank account information, and the ability to withdraw money at will. This, along with the high-profile nature of Square, will make it an attractive target to hackers, and this seems pretty dangerous to me.
  • Second, the card case. Did you watch the video? Did it seem like that was easier than using a credit card? Not to me, either. And it sounds like you open a tab for an hour when you do this, which can’t be too secure — apparently, anyone could walk up to the register and order, say “Mike’s paying,” and that’s that. It’s just like a bar tab with a real credit card, which isn’t the most secure thing around. Works in a bar, though, I guess. My feeling — NFC will win out, here — with either Square or NFC, you need your phone with you.

What do you guys think of this? Is this the future — personal credit card transactions? Or is this just another bubble waiting to burst?

Super Direct Mode

May 27th, 2011, 6:13pm by Kelvin


Took this picture at Lucas’ preschool this morning, where he had the second of his 2 birthday parties. This is a rocket that L made. Everyone in his class is obsessed with space these days, and Lucas was the trendsetter. He became interested in space as a natural extension of his Buzz Lightyear fandom, and after bringing a couple of space books to share, most of his classmates now agree that space is cool, to the point that quarter of the classroom is a space area, complete with a person-sized rocket and a lot of space-related crafts. We’ve stoked the fires by bringing astronaut ice cream for the kids as part of Lucas’ party.

Anyway, this photo was taken with my dSLR, and I put the micro-SD card in my phone for editting and uploading. More trouble than it sounds, because the sd card slot on my phone is under the battery, so there’s a short reboot involved. Furthermore, my Word Press app is installed on my phone’s other micro-SD card, so I have to post this via email (via Flickr). Not nearly as elegant as the Eye-Fi Direct Mode.

De Lorean

May 25th, 2011, 1:16am by Kelvin


I showed Lucas this photo today, since he’s seen the Back To the Future movies now. He immediately recognized it as “Doc Brown’s car” and said he wished he could go inside it. When I told him he couldn’t because the picture was taken a long time ago, he said he wished he could go into the picture so he could go inside the car and also see the other Lucas, just like Marty did!

We ended up concluding that he would just have to invent a time machine…

A Look at the Veer

May 20th, 2011, 7:15pm by Kelvin

On twitter, we’ve had some casual conversation regarding the Veer, which just launched at AT&T this past week as the spiritual successor to the Pixi and the Centro before that. Obviously, the first thing anyone notices is how impossibly tiny the phone is. I had a chance to play with it a little more and here are a few things I learned.

1) When open, it mostly has an identical profile as the Pixi. Both the screen and the keyboard, however, are slightly smaller (neither of those are good things). For some reason, I feel more claustrophobic with the Veer than I ever did with the Pixi.

IMAG0274

2) WebOS 2.1 seems to have fixed a number of browser bugs, particularly related to the Mobile Flickr website (m.flickr.com). First, videos now play. Second, the back command now takes you back to the previous page, as you’d expect, instead of kicking you out to the bookmarks page. Third, the browser now supports geolocation, so the Nearby photos link now works. The Upload photos link still doesn’t though, even though it still appears.

3) The delay in rendering a jpg in the native Photos app is much faster than with the Pre or Pixi, but it’s still noticeable and still annoying.

Of Sand Dunes & Science Centers

May 19th, 2011, 2:24am by Jake
Toy Pick UpFalling upA helping handMaking a break for itThe HillAaaahhhh!
Speedy's (SOOC)Mr. SmileNappyA morning well spentGreen (unfocused shrubbery)Turquoise (tabletop)
The spin & smile!Nikon's Small WorldColors (SOOC)And he huffed... and he puffed...Smash!White (wall)
Cyclist 1Cyclist 2Lucas nails the focus

Quick Li Visit, a set on Flickr.

Just a few of the snaps from this weekend’s whirlwind visit by Kelvin, Serena & Lucas to SoCal. Legoland’s loss was my gain! Good times. Kelvin got a few pics, too.

Pyslent Group Photos

May 5th, 2011, 8:09pm by Jake
Rockin' New Year's EveDone!"Joker- A,K,Q,J,10"Venice Beach at sunsetBig brunchGreat day at Great America
Most of the crewVegas.Mystery spotKelvin, Jake, Mike, DerrickHiking Santa Cruz IslandThe whole crew
The whole gang!Serena, Kelvin, Brandon & JakeMontana leads the teamA keeperBBQ crowdBrunch crew
Finishing 2008Central PyslentHappy New Year!Team Pyslent!

Pyslent Group Photos, a set on Flickr.

Figure I might as well test set sharing, and see if that’s as nice as gallery sharing. A couple dozen photos featuring members from 3 or 4 branches of the Pyslent family tree and a whole bunch of associate members.

Below Freezing

May 5th, 2011, 8:02pm by Jake
RotundabarcodeDiablo (Explore)Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Ice FormationsBurnt Offerings
¡Mi Corazón!The Wave of Coyote ButtesalanTest Subject: GammaHuman in Geometry
Gotchathe assassinFoggy RideDave DaltonPowerwashing the Garage #14maid of the mist

Below Freezing, a gallery on Flickr.

Testing the new ability to share galleries via Flickr’s built-in mechanism. A bunch of these from the past 4 galleries made their way to The Icebox Book.

Via Flickr:
Best of The Fridge, Volume 4. Check out each one.

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III
Volume IV

Zite for iPad

May 4th, 2011, 9:27pm by Mike

Over the past week, while traveling, I’ve spent a lot of time reading Zite, which is a “personalized magazine” for iPad. What it really is: a nicely laid-out newsreader that goes out on the web and fetches articles — from newspapers, magazines, and websites — on themes that you’re interested in. You can specify the themes, or you can let it just start grabbing stuff, and as you’re reading, you can “like” things, and it’ll fetch similar articles over time.

The thing about it is that it’s perfect for sitting down for 10 minutes — there’s always something interesting, and unlike reading a normal RSS reader, it’s a little unpredictable what you’ll get back.


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