Are embossed credit/debit cards still necessary?

While unembossed credit/debit cards aren’t new, they may eventually become more mainstream. Embossed credit/debit cards go back to a time before cards were swiped or dipped into point-of-sale (POS) systems or entered into online payment systems.

Embossed cards used a simple method for merchant processing. Consumers would pay merchants with their cards and merchants would have a device to place the embossed card onto. The sales order or receipt, which comprised of several duplicate sheets sandwiched between carbon paper was placed on top of the card. The merchant would pull up & down on a slider and the embossed information would be imprinted onto the sales order or receipt. The carbon paper would ensure duplicate copies. The sales order or receipt would be separated, carbon paper discarded, leaving copies of the sales order or receipt each with imprints of the card information. One copy would go to the consumer; one copy would go to the merchant and one or more copies would be used for merchant processing. As embossing equipment was expensive, embossed cards also served as protection against fraud.

As technology has advanced, embossed cards for the purposes of merchant processing today serve merely as an old-fashioned back-up system in the event modern processing techniques (ex: swiping the magnetic strip or dipping the chip) are unavailable. However, with online credit and debit card processing, the need for swiping or dipping a credit/debit card becomes a non-issue. In addition, there have been advancements in anti-fraud technologies to further boost security and protections on cards for both consumers and merchants.

With all the advancements, it’s not unreasonable to see why card issuers would do away with embossed credit and debit cards in favor of unembossed cards. Card information (ex: card number, cardholder name, etc.) is still printed on the cards either on the front or back. However, utilizing unembossed cards reduces production costs and makes it easier for card issuers like banks to issue new or replacement cards on the spot rather than having to have the embossed cards printed through a third-party vendor and then mailed to the cardholder. This adds convenience and quick turnaround time for the consumer.

Realistically, embossed cards are not likely to completely go away as they do add a certain elegant and aesthetically pleasing characteristic; however, it won’t be too surprising to see more card issuers eventually make the switch from embossed to unembossed cards at least for some of their cards.

Doctor Who: A Fond Farewell To Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor and showrunner Steven Moffat

Series/Season 10 of Doctor Who kicked-off last night on BBC One (UK) & BBC America (US) marking the beginning of the end for Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. Capaldi took over as The Doctor following Matt Smith’s departure at the end of series/season 7. Smith’s 11th Doctor regenerated at the end of the episode “The Time of the Doctor”.

Smith filled the role of The Doctor for three series/seasons (5-7 plus Christmas Specials) originally joined by Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) & Arthur Darvil (Rory Williams) and later by Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) who played The Doctor’s companions.

Capaldi has filled the role of The Doctor for the last two series/seasons (8-9 plus Christmas Specials) with this 10th series/season being his third and final. Capaldi’s Doctor was joined by Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald through the end of last season. Pearl Mackie joins Capaldi this season as Bill Potts, The Doctor’s latest companion.

While Capaldi’s Doctor was a change from Smith’s Doctor (which was to be expected), Capaldi filled the role exceptionally well and gave The Doctor his own unique characteristics, personality and traits while remaining true to the overall essence of the character and the Doctor Who franchise. It was also a joy to see Capaldi’s 12th Doctor interact with and be joined by frequent Doctor Who recurring characters including Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint), Dan Starkey (Strax), Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart) and Alex Kingston (River Song) to name a few.

From the teasers and previews, series/season 10 is sure to be quite an adventure for The Doctor and his new companion, Bill, with fans wondering how the 12th Doctor will meet his ultimate demise and who will take over as the next Doctor.

Series/Season 10 also marks the departure of current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. Moffat took over for Russell T. Davis in 2009 as Doctor Who showrunner and will hand over the reigns of the show to Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall at the end of this series/season. Moffat has taken Doctor Who to new heights and taken fans on quite a journey during his tenure as showrunner. Moffat and Capaldi’s departures from the show will surely be bittersweet.

2017 New York International Auto Show is coming . . .

The 2017 New York International Auto Show returns to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC April 14th thru April 23rd. The auto show will encompass four floors with around 1,000 vehicles on display ranging from the latest vehicle models to future concept cars from a variety of manufacturers.

Product specialists will be on-hand giving presentations as well as standing by to answer questions. The show will also include onsite activities like the Jeep Ride Along and Toyota Driving Experience and no auto show is complete without getting up close and personal with vehicles on display in the exhibit halls.

From coupes to sedans, SUVs to trucks, hybrids, luxury vehicles, classic & vintage cars, attendees will certainly find and have their favorites.

For more information about the 2017 New York International Auto Show, check out the official site at the link below:

http://www.autoshowny.com

A Look at Apple’s MacBook 12-inch (2016) – Part 2

MacBook 12-inch

After spending some time working on the Apple MacBook 12-inch (2016), I remain quite impressed with its overall performance. Keep in mind that this is the base model running a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz), 8GB RAM and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage and not a unit that has been upgraded to an Intel Core m5 or m7 processor.

Display

The Retina Display is certainly a significant upgrade. The Retina Display on the MacBook 12-inch makes visuals rich, vivid and vibrant. The color depth and resolution are welcomed upgrades especially for users of the MacBook Air who have long awaited a Retina Display.

The 12-inch screen size may take a little getting used to if you’ve been using a a 13.3-inch or larger display but it’s doable. While you do lose a bit of the screen real estate, it’s certainly not a deal breaker.

Audio

The audio from the built-in speakers on the MacBook 12-inch is fantastic. The sound quality is a major improvement and you can tell the difference immediately. To put it in perspective, think of it as the difference between listening to audio using a MacBook Air’s built-in speakers vs. attaching an external speaker (ex: JBL, Bose, Beats). With the MacBook’s speakers, you won’t need to attach an external speaker for great sound.

CPU/Processor

Whether it’s e-mail, surfing the web, streaming audio and/or video, multi-tasking or so forth, the Intel Core m3 processor handles pretty well. I haven’t run into any spinning beach balls or significant performance lags. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for Adobe Creative Cloud or audio/video editing and/or exporting (go with a minimum of a MacBook Air and opt for the Core i7 processor . . . MacBook Pro would be ideal) but for every day tasks, the MacBook 12-inch does a decent job.

Battery

I haven’t done any aggressive battery tests but running off the battery, I will say that battery life seems pretty good. Using the MacBook 12-inch in similar fashion to a MacBook Air 13.3-inch, the battery charge did not appear to drain any faster on the MacBook 12-inch than on the MacBook Air 13.3-inch. While the MacBook Air should give you a couple extra hours of battery life over that of the MacBook, the MacBook should still provide solid battery life.

Keyboard

Apple replaced the traditional scissor mechanism on the MacBook keyboard with a new butterfly mechanism. The new butterfly mechanism does make the key press feel quite different than the traditional scissor mechanism; butterfly mechanism keys do not depress as far down as traditional scissor mechanism keys. This does require some adjustment.

When typing on the MacBook keyboard, I found that I would periodically fail to strike a key properly and would need to go back to make corrections. Again, not a deal breaker but it will require some time to make the adjustment.

USB-C Port

With thin and light comes the trade-off of a single USB-C port on the MacBook 12-inch. It would’ve been nice if Apple decided to add a second USB-C port to last year’s MacBook refresh; however, there are enough USB-C adapters out there that you should be able to find one that can accommodate your needs.

The Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-port Hub Adapter with Type-C Charging Port, 4K HDMI Video Output (30 Hz) and two USB 3.0 Ports has worked flawlessly thus far. While it may be a bit inconvenient to have to pull out an adapter every time you need to connect a USB device or charge the MacBook while connecting to some other port, it’s bearable.

FaceTime Camera

One trade-off that isn’t quite as bearable is the 480p FaceTime camera especially when the MacBook Air (11.6-inch and 13.3-inch) and MacBook Pro (13.3-inch and 15.4-inch) models come with a 720p FaceTime camera.

The 480p FaceTime camera’s image quality is quite choppy and pixelated. Hopefully, Apple will give the FaceTime camera an upgrade in the next MacBook 12-inch model.

Fanless Design

With the thin design and Intel Core M processors, Apple was able to make the MacBook 12-inch fanless which allows it to run extremely quiet. While the unit did get warm on the underside after prolonged use, it did not feel unusually warm.

Price

Starting at $1299, the MacBook 12-inch may not be the most “bang for your buck”; though, it’s still a good investment if you are considering it for the right reasons.

A Look at Apple’s MacBook 12-inch (2016)

Last year, Apple gave its MacBook 12-inch model a nice refresh. While the outside remained the same, the refresh did provide improvements to the CPU/processor, RAM, flash storage and battery life.

While the MacBook 12-inch model may not meet the needs of power users, it will meet the needs of those looking for a lightweight (around 2 lbs.), small form factor laptop with a Retina Display and decent performance for e-mail, Internet access, productivity applications (ex: MS Office), social media, streaming music & video.

MacBook

Testing a MacBook 12-inch (2016) base model with a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz), 8GB RAM and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage, the MacBook performed well throughout the initial setup, installation of applications, web surfing, streaming music & videos and file transfers. The general performance was quite impressive and counter to what I thought I might experience (ex: spinning beach balls). While I wouldn’t recommend using the MacBook 12-inch model for Adobe Creative Cloud, audio/video editing and exports (even if you upgrade to the Intel Core m5 or m7 processors . . . though feel free to experiment at your own discretion); for most day-to-day computing needs, the MacBook should work well.

Of course, the starting price of $1299, the single USB-C port and the need for a variety of USB-C adapters to work with existing peripherals and devices may influence your decision on whether to go with the MacBook 12-inch model. Keep in mind that the new 2016 MacBook Pro models also utilize the USB-C ports (either 2-ports or 4-ports) so adapters will still be necessary should you opt for the new MacBook Pro. Apple is still offering as an option the previous generation MacBook Pro in both 13-inch and 15-inch models with the traditional ports as well as the MacBook Air.

MacBook Accessories

If you do opt for a MacBook 12-inch model, there are accessories you may want to consider. While there are certainly plenty of accessories available, here are just a few to consider.

Mosiso Polyester Fabric Sleeve for MacBook 12-inch (Color: Black & Hot Blue)

Mosiso

The Mosiso sleeve is a nice, well-padded sleeve for the MacBook. The material feels both soft and durable. The black & hot blue color is very nice. There is an external zippered pocket to store accessories like the 29W USB-C power cable & adapter and USB-C adapters. The sleeve is available on Amazon for $12.99 – http://amzn.to/2okjsIm.

Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-port Hub Adapter with Type-C Charging Port, 4K HDMI Video Output (30 Hz) and two USB 3.0 Ports

The Satechi USB-C hub adapter is a portable, easy-to-use, plug-n-play accessory. Connect it to the single USB-C port on your MacBook and it will give you a USB-C passthrough port for charging, two USB 3.0 ports for your USB devices and a HDMI port (30 Hz) for video output. The Satechi USB-C hub adapter comes in four colors (silver, space gray, gold, rose gold) which correspond to the four color options of the MacBook. While this hub adapter will not solve all your USB-C adapter needs, it’s a nice place to start. The Satechi USB-C hub adapter is available on Amazon for $59.99 – http://amzn.to/2nCurQl.

Apple has a series of USB-C adapters available at discounted prices for a limited time. Note: The discounts apply to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 accessories for a limited time. For $49.00, you can get the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (which includes a USB-C port, HDMI port and USB port) or the USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (which includes a USB-C port, VGA port and USB port) to name a few. For a complete list of USB-C adapters, visit Apple’s website at http://www.apple.com.

Tech Tip: Update Your Organization’s Address in Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 Sign-in

Photo Credit/Source: Microsoft

If you are an administrator for your organization’s Microsoft Office 365 account, you may need to update your organization’s address at some point in time (ex: office move). If you look at your monthly or annual invoice, you will notice the invoice displays three fields with your organization’s address  – Sold-To, Bill-To and Service Usage Address.

Each of these address fields must be updated separately within the Microsoft Office 365 dashboard. Unfortunately, there is currently (as of this posting) no option to automatically update all three address fields simultaneously nor are the address updates done in one place within the Microsoft Office 365 dashboard.

Updating the Sold-To Address:

  1. Login to your Microsoft Office 365 account dashboard
  2. Click on the name of your organization
  3. In “Organization Profile”, update your organization’s address then click “Save”

Updating the Bill-To Address:

  1. Login to your Microsoft Office 365 account dashboard
  2. On the dashboard home page, click on “Billing”
  3. In “Subscriptions”, click on “Update Payment Details”
  4. In “Update Payment Details”, click “Edit Details”
  5. Update your organization’s address then click “Submit”

Updating Service Usage Address:

  1. Login to your Microsoft Office 365 account dashboard
  2. On the dashboard home page, click on “Billing”
  3. In “Subscription”, go to “More Actions” then select “Edit Service Usage Address” from the drop-down menu
  4. Update your organization’s address then click “Submit”

If you’ve updated all three addresses correctly, the updates should be reflected on your next billing invoice. It will not be reflected on any billing invoices that have already been generated.

Tech Tip: “Norton Security: We are sorry. It seems like something went wrong with the installation of the product . . .”

While trying to install Norton Security on your Mac, you may receive a dialog window that states “A helper tool is needed to install your Norton Product. Install Norton Security is trying to install a new helper tool.”

After entering your Mac credentials, you receive a Norton Security dialog that reads “We are sorry. It seems like something went wrong with the installation of the product. Please contact Support.” Clicking on “Try Later” and attempting re-installation results in the same error.

To workaround this issue, try the steps below:

  • Ctrl + click (or right-click) on the “Install Norton Security” installer
  • Select “Show Package Contents”
  • Double-click on the “Contents” folder
  • Double-click on the “Mac OS” folder
  • Double-click on “Install Norton Security”
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to install Norton Security. You may be required to restart the computer after the installation.

Note: If you are running an older version of a Symantec/Norton security product (including Symantec Endpoint Protection (Mac)), you will be prompted to uninstall the old product before you can install Norton Security. If you are unable to uninstall the old product using the product’s uninstaller (if available), you can try using Symantec’s “RemoveSymantecMacFiles” utility.

To download the “RemoveSymantecMacFiles” utility and for instructions on how to use it, visit the link below:

https://support.symantec.com/en_US/article.TECH103489.html