Apple Pay and Magento

The Business of Apple Pay (Alec Simonson)

On the outset, Apple Pay is very cool and could very well be the wave of the future. A lot of this hinges on “what’s under the hood” in terms of Apple’s contract with the leading credit card companies who helped with the development. If everything is open, and companies like Samsung can let their customers pay with NFC technology as well, I could see this as something that will be successful, adopted, and an example of Apple leading the way. However, if Apple goes all proprietary (as they love to do) and contractually forces these major credit cards to only use their devices, or charges other companies like Samsung to license their payment platform, or otherwise mandate that all touch-to-pay via smartphone methods are hereby known as “Apple Pay,” I could see adoption problems happening. Open standards have frequently been key to paving the way to adoption, and this has never really been Apple’s model in the past. For example, AirPlay is really cool and loved but does not work outside the environs of iOS, and can therefore never reach greater than 14.8% penetration as of this writing. So Chromecast was born, and while not nearly as simple or feature rich, it’s open to both Android and iOS and therefore has a much higher potential of adoption. Feature expansion will follow.

One of the aspects of Apple Pay that I think is great is that merchants aren’t really troubled with much of everything, since most of this is really on the backend. A new reader with NFC capabilities, and they’re off and running. Low cost or no cost adoption. Or is it? Nobody has mentioned what Apple’s commission is on this latest development. An article on Forbes suggested it may be around 0.2%, giving Apple $0.20 for every $100 spent. That’s not much, but when you consider what percentage that is of the credit card companies’ net (perhaps around 14%), it starts to look more substantial. Credit card companies like their investors, so it’s hard to imagine them not wanting to pass that extra cost onto merchants, who will be all-too-willing to share that with consumers.

All of that aside, it’s very smart and forward thinking, and early adopters will likely be looked upon with jealousy by others. From an implementation perspective, adding Apple Pay will likely be as easy as it was to add Google+, and merchants will do it. But the long-term prospects will rely highly on what sort of deal Apple made….the devil is always in the details.

The Technology of Apple Pay (Tim Broder)

Out of the gate, Pay is native app only. This leaves Magento sites at a disadvantage. In the future I’d like to see Apple open up this functionality to Safari on both mobile and desktop. Pay already has one-time number generation. This could be implemented in the browser similar to how 1Password can inject a credit card number into a form. Until something like this happens, only sites with a native app siting in front of Magento’s API will be able to take advantage.  If you are looking to investigate this space, meets.io, an unofficial Magento SDK, is a great starting point.

I’ll be curious if a developer comes up with a browser dedicated to this functionality. Tap into the Pay API and generate credit card numbers ad hoc, and bridge between Pay and e-commerce sites. Or, take it a step further and develop a custom keyboard for iOS 8. If allowed, it would be more seamless than a whole seperate browser. I say “if allowed” because there are some restrictions on what 3rd party keyboard can do. For example, they cannot touch passwords. The stock keyboard reasserts itself when tapping on a password field.

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Facebook, you creepy piece of sh*t

I debated posting this for a few days. I’m deciding to because when I was googling for something. I found nothing. I hope this helps someone:

A lot of people don’t talk about this. Some do. Most don’t. I’m not sure why. Maybe embarrassment. Maybe fear. Maybe they think they are alone. You aren’t. It happens. It’s real. I’ve talked to some people and we aren’t alone.

Laura and I have been trying to conceive for a bit. I won’t go into how long, at least not right now, so don’t ask. Talking to some people has helped. But, only a little. The internet, as far as we have found (Googled) doesn’t have much info.

“Just stop trying, it will happen”

“It’s so much fun!”

“It just happened!!”

I’m happy for these people? I really am. But at the same time F**K YOU, it’s just not that way for us.

2 things have happened recently that have set me over the edge. We took a break this month, just casually “trying” without any kind of schedule. We randomly thought we had a bite on the line so I went to the pharmacy to buy a test. The cashier wished me congratulations when I checked out. Then she asked me if I was excited. There are so many things wrong with this type of person doing this. I had a few friends in high school that worked as a cashier at a pharmacy. They aren’t supposed to ask personal questions. If they see a classmate buying something like condoms they aren’t supposed to say anything about it to anyone. It’s private. Ok, back to the present. First of all, f**k you. Second, that’s so dangerous. My response was “hopeful.” That’s about all I could get out without leaping over the register. It’s annoying enough that that is in no way shape or form the “congratulations” part of the timeline. You don’t know yet, that’s why you are getting the TEST. Second, can you imagine if we weren’t trying and something happened and this was completely unexpected. What would have been going through my head and then to hear those words? The response would have been: “Terrified, you b**ch”

The second thing happened this morning, and what spurned this post. I was still asleep. Laura was on Facebook. Facebook served her an adoption ad. Facebook, you fucking sleazy, creepy, f**king awful piece of sh*t. I don’t even want to know how you have the data to correlate that. I could probably figure it out, but that would probably end in me canceling my account. If you are going to show an ad like that (at least on Facebook), you need to KNOW that the person is looking to adopt. Not just something like “the person got married,” then “googled something baby,” and now months later, hasn’t googled “stroller”. Showing an ad like that to someone who is trying is beyond fucked up.

Facebook: For what you did to my wife this morning, if you were a person, I would have found you, and I would have hurt you.

A Tale of Two iPhones: Part 2

My iPhone decision, post on The Tekside Network

Size matters, and it’s all in how you use it. In my last post, I went through my thought process of picking a new phone. Since then, I’ve had a lot more hands on time with the 6 Plus, and came to a decision. Quick recap: Big screens are pretty, big screens are harder to fit in pockets, I read a lot, I should get a big one as a developer device.

A coworker of mine has the 6 Plus and was gracious enough to let me use his for some lengths of time. We were both at a conference last Monday. This gave me ample walking around and sitting time with the 6 Plus. The 6 Plus sticks out of the top of my front pocket. I tried it in two different pairs of Jeans (Express and Levis). Neither pair is considered a “skinny jean”. I might have been able to get used to that. Maybe. And no, I’m not going to put it in my back pocket. Risk of bending or not, I’ll forget it’s there and do something stupid. While it “fit” in my pocket, I couldn’t slide it around. There is a decent number of times where I have my laptop on my lap; On the commuter train going into NYC or on a couch at work. When I do this with my 5s, I slide it to the side of my pocket so the laptop isn’t sitting right on it. If I left it, it would dig into my leg or eventually do something bad to the phone’s screen. Not an option with the 6 Plus (it is with the 6, I tried).

Walking around with the 6 Plus in my front pocket wasn’t bad. I do tend to keep my hands in my pockets a lot and it was only slightly annoying. Sitting at the conference’s chairs wasn’t too horrible. I knew it was there, and it was different, but I could have gotten used to it. Back at work though, it felt very weird. At my chair at work, the phone was digging into my hip. I possibly, possibly could have gotten used to this as well. I probably would have started taking it out of my pocket to sit down. Then, knowing me I’d forget it at my desk and need it shortly after to check where I’m supposed to be or what meeting I’m supposed to be in.

Reading on a bigger device isn’t too much of a deal breaker. I don’t mind reading through my Instapaper queue or a Kindle book on my 5s (while on the go, I have a Paperwhite at home). 90% of the time I have my backpack with me which has my laptop and iPad Mini in it. I do a lot of reading on the iPad. The 6 Plus is not big enough for reading comics so there’s no way it could ever be replaced. I’ve made my decision at this point. Getting the 6. There was one thing still on my mind though: I was worried about was doing development work and having the 6 Plus with all it’s new size classes. I do my iOS dev on nights and weekends. If I did it full time, I could justify weighing that reason over the rest of my thinking. Maybe one day. For now, I’ll stick with comfort.

Space Gray, 64 gig 6, here I come.

(I wasn’t up for renewal until Sept 22. As of this writing, my phone will show up on Oct 17)

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My Packing List

I’ve been traveling for work a bit this year.  Sometimes with little notice and it’s helped me to have a go to packing list.  I also use it for personal trips as well. I just need less things.  I was originally managing this in clear. Lately I’ve been managing it in Listacular. I like that this app syncs text file todo lists over dropbox. Easy to update on my Mac.

  • Aftershave
  • Air bed 
  • Ball
  • Bathing suit 
  • Belt
  • Big headphones
  • Boots 
  • Charge ipad 
  • Charge kindle 
  • Charge laptop 
  • Coffee 
  • Deodorant 
  • Dress shirts 
  • Earplugs 
  • Foam roller 
  • Hat 
  • Hoodie
  • Inhalers 
  • Kindle 
  • Laptop 
  • Laptop charger 
  • Local currency 
  • Meds 
  • Money clip 
  • Nightwave 
  • Pajamas 
  • Passport
  • Phone charger 
  • Pillow 
  • Razor
  • Sandles 
  • Shaving cream
  • Shorts
  • Small Headphones
  • Socks 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Tshirts 
  • Undershirts 
  • Underwear 
  • Watch 
  • Workout clothes 
  • Yoga Matt 
  • iPad 
  • iPhone

Meet Magento 2014 New York – a Personal Summary

Alan Kent, Chief Architect of Magento 2 has a great write up of Meet Magento NY

Tim Broder of Alexander Interactive talked about his use of Vagrant to build standard images, ensuring more consistent development environments for all users. He pointed out you can have a Vagrant container mount a file system from your local laptop so you can use a local IDE while having the files run in a standard Vagrant environment image. In development you may mount it read/write and in production read-only. The idea was to ensure all developers had a consistent supported environment.

Oh, and he mentioned a few times “Vagrant Share” which allows you to share your environment with anyone in the world. This looked really useful when collaborating with clients as you can guarantee they have the same set up as you are using to develop the code.

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A Tale of Two iPhones

I wrote up my thoughts on picking a new phone over on the Tekside Network.

It’s almost upgrade time. Normally this is an easy decision: get the new phone. Apple threw us a curve ball this year by launching two entirely new phones. Now every Apple fan has a choice to make and it’s a much, much harder choice than the 5s vs. the underpowered 5c last year.  This year’s choice boils down to screen size. Yes, granted, the 6 Plus has better battery life and a better camera. Those two things will influence the choice of some people. Their scope pales in comparison to SIZE.  During the keynote, when Apple announced the size, my initial reaction was to go with the 6. My gut reaction to the 6 Plus was “No. NO. No. It’s too big! It’s never going to fit in my pocket. WHY would anyone buy that? NO.”  Now, I’m not so sure.

Let me take a step back. I’ve had big phones in the past. Prior to switching to iPhone, I was the Android guy at work. I liked how configurable it was and how it bashed the iPhone’s battery life, lack of copy/paste, and it’s “closed system”. We’re not going down that rabbit hole today though. The point is, I never had a “small” iPhone. I had a Droid, an Incredible, and a Galaxy Nexus. Each one getting bigger with the Nexus capping out at 4.65 inches. I really, really liked that size. Then for a number of reasons, I switched to iPhone. I was tired of apps crashing. I wanted something new and slick and I started writing apps for it. I picked up an iPhone 5, entering in at that form factor.  I LOVED it.  It took a week or so for it to stop feeling small, but then it felt perfect.

I initially thought: “The 6 is 4.7 inches and has a 3x screen? I’ve had that screen size before. Done.” I can upgrade on Sept 22 and now I don’t even have to think about it. I know what I’m going to get.

It’s currently Sunday, Sept 21. On Friday, a few 6’s started getting delivered to work.  They exceeded everything I thought about the phone. They look great and the screen is insane. I’m still very happy with my decision.

Now some doubts are starting to pop up…  I poked around in Xcode and I’m seeing the things the 6 Plus does under the hood with screen layout. On Twitter, I’m seeing other devs talking about how the 6 Plus behaves. As a developer, wouldn’t it be the responsible decision to get the bigger phone so I understand how it acts first hand?  Do I need the better battery life? I read on my phone a lot, but I like reading on my Retina Mini more. The screen is gorgeous. Can I really pass that up?

Even with all of these questions, the choice still boils down to size. Will it fit comfortably in my pocket? That is the deal breaker. On Monday, I’m going to borrow a coworkers 6 Plus for an hour or so and sit with it in my pocket. I’m going to walk around with it. I’m going to climb some stairs. If it’s just too big, the 6+ is out. If it’s something I think I can adjust to, I am SO in.

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On Morning Rituals

Rituals are important. I’m a creature of habit. But, I had never characterized some of the things I do as rituals.  I read some posts by Casey Liss and David Smith that were not unlike some of the things I do.  I like repetition. I like not having to think about a decision or even make one to begin with.  Similar things for breakfast each day. If I cook a big meal I’ll have the leftovers for subsequent meals until they are gone.

Having these rituals help me get my day going. They let me know that all is right in the world.

My morning ritual is something of a decision tree:

Gym

I used to go to my gym a lot more often; 4-6 days a week. Adding in runs on top of that if I was training for a race. Lately 3 days a week seems to be my norm. I’ve grown to be ok with this. Personal and work stress are adding up, and that’s what I can do right now. Which is funny because the gym is a huge stress relief for me. But, I digress.  If I go to the gym, I shower at the gym after my workout, then walk to work.  I either have breakfast with me or I pick it up on the way to the office. If I have it with me, it means I cooked it the night before: 3-4 eggs fried in coconut oil, seasoning, maybe some sourcraut (It’s a lot better than you think it is). If I pick it up it’s some kind of veggie omelet or scrambled eggs with a vegetable.  This has been my morning gym ritual for about 5 years now.  I started drinking coffee about a year ago. I have a half cup from the pot of work if I eat breakfast there.  I add 2 cubes of ice to it from work’s freezer.  I want to drink it immediately and this brings it to the right temperature for my taste. Having this repetition helps me start my day. I usually eat my food at the cafe table, with my laptop, doing a quick pass of email.  I’m trying to shift this into doing something with the first hour of my day, not just drowning in email.

Wakeup time: 5:35am. Catch 6:07 train into the city. My clothes are laid out the night before. Wakeup, chug protein shake so I’m not starving, wash face, brush teeth, do inhaler, run to train.

Home

If I sleep in, I eat and have coffee at home.  I’ll wakeup and jump in the shower to wake up a little. Breakfast will be 3 eggs and sometimes a few strips of bacon.  I put the frying pan on high. While it’s heating up I put the kettle on.  I crack a few eggs into the pan. While they are sitting, I start getting the Aeropress ready.  I love the Aeropress. It’s perfect for a single cup, or even 2 if I’m making one for Laura. I get my coffee from Tonx.  If you aren’t familiar with them, I highly recommend. You get your coffee every 2 weeks for a monthly fee. The beans are roasted fresh, which apparently augments the taste.  I don’t have to worry about running out, or remembering to pick some up from the store. It just shows up. Less stress.  The amount of coffee I drink is perfect for their lowest plan. At most I end up with an extra cup and a half of beans. It’s very, very rare that I run out. I also tried Drifwaway coffee which I really liked. They send you a sample pack of 4 types of coffee. You rate each one and this effects what your shipments are in the future. I consistently got something I really enjoyed. I occasionally get something I’m not a big fan of with Tonx.  You might wonder why I don’t just pick 1 thing and stick with it. That would be less stress, actually. But, I’m still getting into coffee and exploring what I like. I can’t tell you right now what type of coffee I like using the right terminology. But, Driftaway’s shipment size was too big for me, I ended up having a decent amount leftover.

Wakeup time: in between 7 and 8, depending on what my morning for work looks like

Run

I may, like I did this morning, get up 30-60 mins before my sleep in time and get a run in.  If it’s going to be raining I’ll opt for this. I love running in the rain.  The amount of running I’ve been doing recently has dropped drastically. I’m trying to get back into it. I really do love it. After the run, I fall into what I normally do at home.

I use an alarm for all of these. For the gym, I’ll set the Sony clock radio I’ve had since I was 6. I’m amazed it still works, though it took me a while to find a link to it online. I wake up at the same time for the gym, no matter the day. I just flip on the alarm. Laura keeps it tuned to NPR, so I wake up to that.  The other days I’ll use my phone. Siri sets alarms for whatever time I need.

I never snooze. Never have, don’t think I ever will.  If I’m not going to get up until 20 mins later, I’d rather just get that as real sleep time.  My alarm clock has always been in a place where I have to get up to turn it off. (This was particularly helpful in college. I woke up at 4:40 for practice. Sleep was very valuable)

If you are frazzled in the morning or feel stressed out getting ready for work, think about repetition. What would you want to do every morning? What of your routine can be ritualized? If you did a few things the night before (pick clothes) would that lessen your stress in the morning? Think about it. I love it.

If you have any rituals that help you start your day, or lower your stress, let me below in the comments or on Twitter.

The Rise and Fall of Communication Mediums

Brent Simmons:

My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.

Marco Arment:

This is why I’m still championing blogs, RSS, and using your own domain even though supposedly “everyone” has moved to social networks.

I’m very, very glad I started blogging 7 years ago.  I started out just wanting to help people. I’ve continued posting code both for tutorial purposes and to work through my own problems. At some times it’s been a voice for me, and I’ve dabbled in commentary.  Facebook is older than this blog, but I’m fairly close to Twitter.  I never thought we’d see the day when Google Reader would shut down. These days Google doesn’t surprise me anymore. Which, should say something. I was a HUGE Google fanboy. Since moving off blogger, I’ve managed the servers and software that run this blog. I plan on being around for a long time. It’s too much fun to stop

Podcast Reruns

Last year, I had been plowing through old episodes of a few Tech podcasts. I was able to get through all of Developing Perspective (they are short) and was working on Build and Analyze.  I’m halfway-ish through B&A, but my listening has died off in leu of new episodes of other shows.

I’ve missed listening to it.  The reason it dropped of is playlist related. Everything I listen to is in one playlist that I prune from time to time. I didn’t add B&A to it because I didn’t want to have to download each episode each time. I downloaded them all at once. If I added it to the playlist, all 108 episodes would have shown up.  I had a separate playlist just for this show. But, I would forget about it.

I got to thinking about reruns. TV has them. YouTube has them.  Why not this medium?  Whether specifically for podcasts or RSS feeds in general, I thought something might exist. Something that would take a feed and give back the items at a pubDate+days interval. This way, whatever you consume the feeds with, will think it’s new. This could be done by modifying the pubDate, though some feed scrapers might not care that a pubDate might be in the future.  The other method would be to restrict a feed based on a range of days (or weeks for Podcasts).

I googled around for a bit. The back of my mind thinks it remembers something from…. 5 or so years ago? No luck. Then I wanted to build a service to do it… Then I remembered time is scarce these days. Yahoo Pipes to the rescue!!

I got a pipe working that overcast would accept and process. Then tweaked it for more public consumption.  

http://pipes.yahoo.com/timbroder/podcastreruns

The Pipe has 3 inputs (listed in a different order from that link for ease of explanation)

  • Feed URL: Paste in the url of your podcast feed here
  • How Many Weeks ago to start: This is when in the podcast to start pulling from. If want to start at the very first episode, use the number of weeks between when the episode first aired, and now.  I want to start B&A at episode 49. It aired on 10/24/2011. It’s currently 7/29/2014. So, I want to start 145 weeks ago
  • How many episodes do you want per week: This depends on how much you want, and how often the podcast released episodes.  If it was a weekly podcast and you want to get 1 episode a week, put 1. If it was weekly and you want 4 episodes a week to catch up faster, put 4.  What this is doing is loading all the feed items in between the “start week” and this number at once. Podcasts that come out more than once a week will be multiplied by this number

Configure as needed, then cick “Run Pipe” to confirm you see the appropriate episodes. Then, grab the RSS url for this configuration. Load this URL into your pod catcher.

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I’ve been testing this for a few weeks now and it’s working great! Another good use would be Overcast’s “Retired Greats” Section:

 Overcast1

If you are interested in the inner workings of this Pipe, here is a screenshot. Though, looking at this now, getting more than 1 episode a week needs some tweaking.

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