But there was actually a far more interesting technology shown today.
It lets you walk into a store and buy a product without touching your phone, money, or a credit card — or even taking your wallet out.
Like the credit card reader, it’s pretty obviously inspired by Square, whose Card Case app was introduced about six months ago. But I never actually got how revolutionary the concept of touchless retail payment was until I saw it in action today.
Here’s how it works.
You need a PayPal account and the PayPal mobile app on your phone. You use the app to look up nearby retailers that accept PayPal. If you find one that you want to shop at, you check in — just like you’d do on Foursquare or any other check-in service.
When you walk into the retailer, their PayPal app (used with the PayPal Here reader) will automatically recognize you. If you want, you can pay with a credit card or cash.
But if you want to use your PayPal account, you simply tell the person behind the counter and the amount will automatically be debited.
You don’t have to do anything else.
I didn’t get what a big deal this was until I tested it out after the event at a nearby cupcake store that had signed up for PayPal Here.
It’s like walking into your local bar and saying “put it on my tab.”
In fact, this feature isn’t new at all. It’s called PayPal Local, and it’s been around since late 2010 in San Francisco. But I’ve never seen it in use, anywhere. That’s probably because most merchants aren’t interested in setting up this system JUST to take PayPal payments in the real world.
Either way, if PayPal or Square doesn’t do it, some other company will. Maybe Amazon or Google, maybe Foursquare or another check-in company, maybe a credit card company or bank. Or maybe some startup.
But the idea — walking into a store, being recognized, and being able to buy something without having to use any physical object to complete the transaction — is too great to pass up.
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This DIY lens hood and cap, dubbed the Circle of Confusion Shape Modifier, is similar to a previous one we’ve featured before, except this one lets you change out the “slides” or bokeh shapes easily—so you’re not stuck with just one shape. The tutorial at DIYphotography is very detailed: It tells you how to set up the grid in Photoshop or Gimp, create the squares and cutouts, and assemble it all together.
Check out the original article and the reader comments for a discussion of the techniques used to create the effects in the photos, such as setting your camera to the lowest aperture value. Enjoy making dazzling, beautiful photos!
DIY: Circle of Confusion Shape Modifier | DIY Photography
A Best Buy Manager Thinks That The 3,000 Employees Running Its Customer Service Twitter Account Can’t Be Trusted
Best Buy hasn’t been doing so hot lately, and here’s another example that shows why.
The retailer has a Twitter account @Twelpforce that uses 3,000+ employees to help run it. So far it has worked without a major disaster, despite the exposure it has with so many employees working on it.
But at least one Best Buy manager disagrees, and thinks it’s basically a load of crap, reports Chris Morran at the Consumerist.
Morran received a note from a reader, Jonathan, explaining his experience. Jonathan was trying to exchange a box set of CDs, which was missing one CD when he got it, but didn’t have the receipt. The Best Buy site pointed him toward @Twelpforce, who told him to “Talk to a manager at your local Best Buy, they should be able to assist with exchange.”
He did. When he showed the Best Buy manager the tweet from customer service, he dismissed it as an unreliable source (even though the Best Buy website tells you that the only places to ask questions are a phone number and the Twitter account). The manager also said that it’s “just social media” and “that could be anybody.”
Which begs the question: what’s the point of having a customer service Twitter account if Best Buy managers don’t even acknowledge it as a legitimate source of information? Somebody got company policy wrong here, but whether it’s the manager or the person who answered that tweet doesn’t matter. The manager shouldn’t have dismissed the Twitter help line as useless.
It shows a fundamental disconnect between the brick-and-mortar and the online world. The corporate side has accepted that social media is a viable tool, yet that feeling hasn’t been passed down to its employees — even at the manager level. Oops.
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As folks who follow such things may be aware, there’s been some dispute over the origin of Square’s card reader technology more or less since the company (led by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey) went public with it last year. That dispute has now gotten even more contentious, however, with Square and its chairman, James McKelvey, taking aim at REM Holdings and Robert Morley, who actually holds the patent to the technology. The key issue is that McKelvey is not listed as one of the inventors in the patent, despite claims that he was the one that actually conceived the idea in a “flash of inventive insight,” and that he and Morley worked together to develop the idea (and later discussed obtaining patent protection with Jack Dorsey). And that’s pretty much where things stand at the moment — Square is requesting a court order to add McKelvey as a co-inventor on the patent, but there’s no indication as to when or if that will happen.
Dispute over Square card reader patent gets litigious originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 03 Dec 2010 14:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Behold, the power of a scary-sounding letter from a lawyer! Paul dropped his Kindle 2 and it broke. Amazon wanted $200 to replace it. Instead, they replaced it and gave him an additional $200. Damn, son!
Seriously, how badass is this letter he sent to Amazon?
August 12, 2009
1200 12th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144-2734
Dear Sir or Madam:
On June 21, 2009, I purchased an Kindle 2 e-book reader from the Amazon.com website. I purchased this device based, in substantial part, on the expectation that it would be reasonably durable. In particular, I expected that it would be approximately as durable as is ordinary in the consumer electronics market.
Amazon.com advertises the Kindle 2 on the basis of its durability. Notably, Amazon.com displays a “drop test” video on the web page for this product. That video displays the device being dropped twice from thirty inches onto what appears to be tile. That video displays a fall with sufficient force that the device visibly bounces, and deliberately creates the impression that the device will function after impacts similar to that sequence of drops.
Despite those representations, the Kindle 2 is far less durable. On July 26, 2009, I dropped a messenger bag containing the device onto the sidewalk, from approximately two feet above the ground. It was dropped only once, and the messenger bag absorbed enough of the shock that nothing else in the bag, including a Macbook laptop, suffered an! y damage whatsoever. (Unlike the drop displayed in Amazon.com’s video, for example, nothing actually bounced.) Moreover, there was no visible damage on the exterior of the Kindle 2. Nonetheless, the Kindle 2 became completely unusable, with over 50% of its screen no longer able to display any text.
I called Amazon.com support and was told that, because of the accidental drop, you would not be willing to supply a replacement device under warranty. You did, however, offer to sell a new device at a discount, for $200.00. I took advantage of that offer under protest, and explicitly reserved my rights to bring a claim against you based on the unreasonable fragility of the device and the misrepresentations in your advertising. It is that claim that forms the subject of this letter.
I am prepared to offer an immediate settlement of my claims against Amazon.com for a payment of $400.00. That sum represents the $200.00 replacement fee I paid plus $200.00 to compensate me for the diminution of utility and value of the device as well as of the e-books I have purchased for that device, in light of the fact that the replacement device, too, can be expected to be far more fragile than advertised and prone to destruction under the slightest stress. This offer expires thirty days from your receipt of this letter. If you do not accept this offer, I intend to bring suit either individually, or, if I decide it is warranted, as representative for a class of similarly situated plaintiffs. At that time, I will seek the amount noted above, plus punitive damages under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civil Code §1750 et. seq., costs, fees, and such other monetary damages as provided for by law, including without limitation Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 et. seq., the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and other relevant law.
Also, you have demanded the return of the broken device as a condition to the unreasonable discounted replacement offer which I accept! ed under protest. Your agent has informed me that you will charge my credit card for the full price if the broken device is not returned to you. I am considering seeking a protective order placing that device in the custody of the Court pending litigation. However, should I instead return the device, you are hereby notified that it is evidence in the anticipated litigation to which this letter refers. Should you modify, destroy, or resell the broken device, I will ask the Court to treat that as deliberate spoliation of evidence and make adverse inferences as appropriate.
Very truly yours,
And here’s Amazon’s response:
Pretty awesome. Just goes to show that if you put your somewhat-unreasonable request in an official-looking form and also threaten to sue, big companies will be happy to toss a token amount of money your way to make you go away. [Consumerist]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
Collaborators – Digital Profs
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