Coin, The Digital Credit Card No One Needs

Coin is a new kind of credit card. Instead of carrying around all of your other cards individually, you only need to carry around a digital Coin. The computer chip stores all of your credit card info securely and then you can cycle through them and use whichever you want. Magic!

Let’s look at the many problems of this idea:

1) It doesn’t solve anything important

Instead of holding four cards you can hold a slightly thicker one? Is that selling point really worth $100? Ironically, having to fuss with my smartphone before swiping a credit card is actually making things a lot less convenient.

2) Losing your credit card just got a whole lot worse

Not only did you just lose all of them (which may have happened anyway if you dropped your wallet), but it costs some money to buy another one. Again, people will pay for something if it adds value, not otherwise.

3) Security

Good job, asshole. Now that you have successfully combined your credit card with your ATM card, you have just handed your waiter access to your bank account! I’ve talked about the security differences between ATM and credit cards before. Handing anybody your card carries risks- why hand somebody all of them?

4) Now you only have one

Speaking of giving out your credit card, there is a benefit to having others handy. Drank too much at the bar and left without paying your bill? It’s okay, use the MasterCard instead of the Visa the next day. Is the bar holding your credit card but you need to swipe another in the jukebox or in the parking meter? No problem. Hey, that’s why you have two, right? This is a case of technology giving you LESS options.

5) Low tech is more reliable than high tech

Neat, your credit card has an LCD display! One can only ask, what happens when it runs out of batteries? Or gets wet? Because one of the main benefits of a credit card is being able to handle emergencies. ‘Always available’ is an important feature. Even worse, the first rev of Coin relies on a working smartphone, which limits options even more (and depends on TWO batteries).

6) It only works in the United States.

Most of the world uses a chip and pin system for security and the first rev of Coin will not support this, so good luck on vacations.


After Coin was first announced, there was a fair amount of criticism. Speaking of these concerns, the company’s CEO stated, "I was surprised that people really broke it down, really got into the nitty gritty about these specific use cases." Really? He was surprised that consumers were worried about their financial security? Is this the kind of obliviousness you want from a credit card merchant?

I get it. Tech is cool. We all want to live in a future that our parents didn’t have. But sometimes, you need to think about the practicality of the situation.

But hey, it’s shiny.

Car Leasing

Leasing is just an awful model for ‘having’ a car.

Sure, leasing is great for the industry. If you can convince the buyers of any product to want a brand new one every two years then you will be in business for a long time. Keep the manufacturing up, keep adding new perks and features, keep selling the dream. Dealers can make much more money from the secondary market by ensuring a higher level of quality control defined in the lease terms (low mileage, guaranteed service, etc.). As a warrantor you can even limit manufacturer’s warranties to less years if you can manage to make most of your money from leases. The car companies clearly win.

But when did people get tricked into thinking leasing was a good investment?

The sales pitch is that, under certain circumstances, leasing a car is more financially viable than buying one. The numbers get run and it can turn out to be true, but what exactly are these special circumstances that make leasing attractive?

Essentially, if you are going to buy a new car every two or three years then it makes absolute sense to lease. Besides the lower financial burden and worry that you need to bear as a title holder, you can end up spending less in the long run than if you buy, devalue, sell, repeat.

However, buying a new car every two or three years is absolute financial mismanagement. Cars are built to, and meant to, reliably last much longer than lease terms. If you get caught up keeping up with the Jones’s and always need the next best thing then at least admit that you are paying a premium for status. That is fine if you have a lot of money but don’t spin it into thinking that you’re making a sound financial decision.

So leasing is good if you want to always have a new car but constantly upgrading is not financially beneficial and thus a mismanagement of money. By the transitive property of mathematics, leasing is a stupid waste of money. Don’t listen when people say buying cars is a waste. Cars are never a good overall investment, sure, but if you need one, get one, and keep it for at least five or six years. You won’t have any hassles in that time, you’ll have good resale value, and you’ll get much more coming back to you when you do need to upgrade.

iOS 7 and Windows 8

Microsoft and Apple have a long history of being engaged in a hard-fought rivalry. Each company has at times managed searing coups and suffered ignominious defeats. Both have forced the other to adapt in order to compete. It’s no revelation that Apple has been in the lead lately, pushing Microsoft to delve into the hardware and mobile markets.

One interesting segment where Microsoft was a leader but became a follower was their new OS shift. Windows 7 was a beautiful and capable operating system. It featured high levels of transparency that really evoked images of its namesake but the transition to Windows 8 stripped all of that away.

I’ve spoken with Windows 8 developers who thought that translucency is overused and cheesy. Windows 8 is all about sharp corners and flat colors and, while it does result in a pleasing aesthetic, I think it is clear that the harsh criticism of Windows 7 was overblown. The truth of it is that single layers are easier on mobile batteries.

Now, surprise, surprise, Apple releases iOS 7 and one of its most visible changes is the heavy emphasis on transparency in the UI. In a bid to stand out, Apple grabbed what Microsoft dropped.

But then, this is Apple’s strength. They took the notification pane from Android. Their multitask interface steals from the underrated WebOS. The new picture organization borrows heavily from newer Samsung devices. All in all, they take the best elements of what is already out there and deliver something that even the jail breakers can’t complain about.

Well, that last part might need to wait until Apple officially allows icon customization.

Combination ATM/Credit Cards

I recently wanted to use a Wells Fargo debit card but I forgot my PIN (I actually never set it up yet- this was a new account). Curious, I took a chance and selected the ‘CREDIT’ option on the machine. Imagine my surprise when the charge went through successfully! But it bothered me that I wasn’t quite sure what occurred during this transaction. What credit account was this?

An interesting thing happens when using a debit card as a credit card. The money gets charged to an intermediate credit line, then within hours, or a day at most, the money is automatically deducted from the bank account. As a customer, I never see or have access to the credit line- I just see the money deducted. Now, call me a stickler for security, but doesn’t this give thieves direct access to my bank account?

To back up for a second, I’ll explain why credit cards tend to be very safe. We use them to rack up a bunch of charges then, at the end of the month, we get an itemized list of every expense and then (and only then) we choose to actually pay the debt. If you can manage it you should pay in full, avoid all interest, and use the card as a means of making transactions more convenient.

So what if a thief steals your wallet and spends YOUR credit line? It’s very simple. You contest the charge, it gets removed or suspended, and you never lose a penny. It’s all rather mundane these days and the credit companies are very good at dealing with it. So what happens if a thief steals your debit card and charges money out of your account? Well, when you notice, you are already out the money, and I have a suspicion (although I haven’t been through this) that it would be much more of a hassle to get your money back at that point. Not impossible, I’m sure, but it is YOUR money that’s gone, and YOU’RE the one that needs to worry about getting it back.

Essentially, the PIN is your personal secret code that should be an extra step of security to protect your actual bank accounts and this credit line work-around is a security flaw.

So I visited my friendly Wells Fargo bank employee the other day and asked to get this credit functionality taken off my ATM card. He tried to convince me otherwise, saying that vendors "should always check ID" and "that should be enough". No thanks, vendors usually DON’T check ID, and online purchases skip that step altogether. And if I wanted to use a credit card, well, that’s what my credit cards are for. But I made a point to say that I wanted to protect my account from thieves.

"Yeah, we’ve had a lot of problems with fraud lately…"

That was the bank associate’s response. I was waiting for a "but" followed by a reassuring set of procedures the bank was adhering to in order to prevent the fraud but instead he just trailed off and sat there in silence. I then strongly reiterated my argument and he sent new cards in the mail.

So if you would like to make sure your bank account debit cards are more secure, please take a look at them. If they say ‘Visa’ or ‘MasterCard’ or whatever on the front then they are bad and allow a credit transaction. Or, perhaps, there’s a way to make sure that credit line does not auto-deduct from your bank account, but I’d rather play it safe. My new ATM card doesn’t have a credit symbol so my mind is at ease. Now I need to do the same with my B of A account.


Who does Time Warner think they are kidding?

Yes, I understand that it’s fashionable to make fun of Time Warner cable. It’s been done. The funny thing is, I use them for internet access because they actually offer fast speeds and solid service. My agreeableness surely stems from the fact that I do not use them for TV or anything else. As ancient as a concept as cable is, at least other companies have more modern computer-friendly interfaces. Using the Time Warner TV Guide feels like a flashback to the 80s. Still, even though we’re in the Hulu and streaming Netflix age, these companies must try to persevere. But I’m not quite sure I understand Time Warner’s new strategy.

Ok, so this is about pride of ownership, right? I’m not exactly sure what building materials have to do with cable service but let’s see where they’re going with this.

Hmm, they’re losing me. I don’t think anyone would describe television and phone service as "serene and comfortable". I understand that architects and designers want their houses to look great, but I’m not sure people consider cable boxes and internet routers as ‘nice things’ to show off.

So what is Time Warner actually offering in this esteemed package? Aside from an attempt to cater to a high-end market, what *is* SignatureHome?

Personal Concierge

Advanced TV

Ultimate Internet

Home Phone

Hmm, it looks like a standard cable/internet/phone package to me. Is anyone else bothered that they didn’t gussie up their phone service with a meaningless adjective? I may have been on board if they were offering ‘Extreme Home Phone’.

For your $230 a month you get premium channels like HBO and fast internet speeds, and bleeding-edge technology like Caller ID, but you can get the same for half the price. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what their boasted "one-of-a-kind entertainment experience" gets us.

Live TV on your tablet and laptops

I want people to realize that *this isn’t a service*. I have a Sling adapter that I plug into my DVR that lets me do the same thing and that was a one-time cost of $50.

Home WiFi and the ability to use multiple devices at the same time

More than one device? OUTRAGEOUS! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE TIME WARNER! Despite whatever pagan devilry SignatureHome utilizes to allow you to use more than one device at the same time in your own house, anyone can spend $150 on a much better home router than they offer.

Unparalleled personal service

Ok, let’s blow my mind here.

"A dedicated product specialist will visit your home and connect your devices to work together seamlessly."

I’m pretty sure when they say "dedicated product specialist" they just mean ‘the cable guy’. When the Time Warner ‘specialists’ were drilling a hole in my wood floor because they "don’t mess with walls" the company confirmed my low expectations. So let’s translate what this personal service really is.

The cable guy will show you how to connect your cell phone to the internet.

Personal Concierge

This was interesting until I read that this meant ’24/7 personal assistance’. I have never once in my life heard of anyone calling tech support a concierge. When my internet went down and I called them up I asked if they had picked up my dry cleaning and they had no idea what I was talking about. On top of that, when pressed for good restaurants in the area, all they could muster was "Red Lobster".

So there you have it, SignatureHome, one of many adventures in my mailbox every day. Bad marketing is not something new and I can’t really explain why this particular piece of junk mail got to me. Maybe it’s the smug looks on Burton’s and Doryn’s faces. YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!

Nerf Bullets

Everybody knows the worst thing about Nerf guns are the bullets. They fly ok and don’t hurt too much but you never quite have enough do you? After you empty a clip you are left with hunting bullets hidden all over the house and every day you repeat this process you will invariably find yourself one short. Don’t worry, you can shell out $10+ to get a couple refill clips. That should last you another week.

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is officially the future, because someone has finally found a solution to this problem. No longer must you hunt and retrieve your ammo, because now you are firing marshmallows!

I would just recommend perhaps buying a dog.

As an added bonus, here’s a blog post from an awful mother who has apparently figured out how to get around the whole ‘nerf uses safe bullets’ thing and gives her 5 year old a gun that shoots NEEDLES.

Lock Screen

Lock Screen

Every time I turn on my iPad, this is what I am greeted with. I understand iOS spawned from the cell phone market where a lock screen makes sense – we wouldn’t want to accidentally call contacts by mistake- but why do I need to put up with this extra step on a tablet? Slide to turn on? Didn’t I just push a button to turn this device on?

Just another reason to jailbreak, if you ask me. Apple doesn’t let you customize this lock screen away normally. Free your device!

1980s Robots

I’m not talking about fake robots. I’m not talking about toys. I’m talking about actual ‘high end’ ‘robots’ that were sold to consumers in the 80s. Of course these products weren’t very advanced but they were meant to modernize convenience. What menial task was so horrible that it should be delegated to a robot servant? A waiter, of course! This is what the pinnacle of thinking in the decade of decadence came up with.

In 80s movies, whenever there is a rich guy who lives in excess you will often see a short scene of a stumpy robot rolling two feet and stopping holding a tray of Coca-Cola. In Rocky IV (1985), the boxer has a lot of money and apparently buys a present for Paulie.

Even Wall Street did it. Seriously. Gordon Gekko is at a house party hosted by a rich guy and this little R2-D2 looking thing haphazardly rolls up.

How retarded is the concept that it would actually be easier to deal with this half-working drone simply to very slowly give you refreshments? It’s a good thing these big houses don’t have any stairs or furniture in the way to trip up the robots- there’s a good reason why these movies never actually show them doing anything.

And even if they worked, I’d like to be the rich guy whose biggest problem is figuring out how to get Coca-Cola out of the refrigerator.

Moisture Beads

The benefits of moisture can be found in all manner of products these days. I use liquid soap because I live in a desert and don’t want to over dry my skin. Still, it is hard for me to accept the fact that the label says my soap contains moisture beads in it.

Moisture beads? In my liquid soap? You know what part of my soap is more moist than beads? Liquid.

Whatever sells bottles I guess.