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  • Unboxing and activating Apple's titanium Apple Card

    The entire process was a breeze.  I've already made some charges and received cash back.  I've set up autopay to pay off the balance each month so I won't incur any interest charges.  

    Some things that are missing now, but I'm sure are on Apple's radar screen:

    1)  Bill pay
    2)  Allow sharing of data to Mint, Quicken, etc.   There is a way to export PDF reports, but this is not seamless
    3)  Cross integration with iTunes accounts - why can't I simply use Apple Pay there?
    4)  Cash advances (such as when traveling).   AMEX based their early business model on this and decades ago I never carried cash when traveling - only received local currency cash advances at an AMEX office in amounts I would spend in country.

    There is no other credit card that I am aware of that combines all of the features now available in Apple Card.  But the items above are available in some other cards and they would be useful for Apple to adopt.

  • Goldman Sachs spends $350 for every Apple Card signup

    Not trying to be negative on this, really asking.  Why would anyone want this card?  The rate is pretty high, the integrations are interesting but don't really add that much value IMO, and I can use Apple Pay with my existing card.  What is the draw?
    There is none (being serious). 
    This is only the third credit card I have ever had (the other two are AMEX and Visa).  Here are the reasons I chose to sign up:

    1)  Extremely secure.  There is no fixed card number, and if the physical card is used and a card skimmer or waiter steals your card number and pin, a number can be created instantly.  So there is no interruption in use of the card.

    2)  No Tracking.   You are not identified by the retailer by name or by card number.  They only receive meta-data, they cannot track you (unless you want them to by signing up for some "deal" in which you have control over what information you give them)

    3)  Having instant info on spending is very handy, and provides for instant recognition if charges are incorrect, thus allowing for immediate corrections.

    4)  Reasonable interest rate (mine was a high limit with a 12.99% interest rate).   Not a big deal of me as I pay off my balance every month.

    5)  Complete control over payments.  I simply set mine up to auto pay from my bank at the end of each month.   I don't incur any interest charges and I'm sent notifications well in advance so I can balance my bank statements.

    6)  Very detailed (and very Apple designed) infographics on spending by category and retailer.   Also the info on the retailer is in plain english with business name, address, map, and contact info.  Very handy for looking back at what I purchased and from whom.

    7)  There are no fees, and no late fees, or currency fees.

    8)  Ties to my Apple Cash account, and of course there is the instant cash back features

    9)  So far so good, I've made a couple of transactions and set up auto pay.  I will evaluate how this works for me (about 65% of all retailers in the US now accept Apple Pay/Card) to see if this is something I want to use long term.  But I know from experience that Apple Pay works extremely well and fast at checkout, especially using my Watch, so all of my Apple Pay will be done using this card going forward.

    10)  Longer term I can see using this card (or something like it) to manage all of my payments (retail purchases, mortgage, other credit card balances (not available now), utilizes etc, etc) from a single source while I am mobile.

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  • Gallium Nitride chargers: What they are, and why they're great

    dysamoria said:
    What’s the availability of GaN?
    Gallium is an elemental metal with a uniquely high melting point (its solid usually but the heat of your hands can turn it to liquid).  It does not form natural deposits but rather comes as a byproduct from Bauxite (Aluminum), zinc and coal mining.   USGS estimates there is over 1MM tons of Gallium in known deposits and pricing is between $150 and $300/ Kg.  

    As a geologist there are some inconsistencies in these numbers, such as not all bauxite has recoverable Gallium and because of its unique low melting nature it cannot be uniquely certified as to quality like a gold bar for example (its difficult to trace and susceptible in electronics to contamination).

    GaN works in some electrical applications, such as the chargers note,  but it would be difficult to scale as chip sets (about 10 years ago Ga Arsenides were contenders to supplant silicon).   There are some really exciting programs looking at high temp superconductors, light based chipsets and quantum effects that will most likely be the best candidate to take over silicon in the future.
  • Review: If you have Philips Hue bulbs, you need Lutron Aurora

    Many of my switches are three-way, so this still doesn't solve that problem.

    FYI, a trick I learned to help pair Hue lights is to attach the light to a socket right next to the bridge to pair FIRST.   Then move the light to its appointed location.   In some cases where I had multiple new lights some would pair, some would not.  In the past I would have to send those bulbs back for replacement.  But I found that if I could get the bulb right next to the bridge (like nearly touching) I could ALWAYS get the bulb to pair.   This trick works with any Philips paired light including light strips.

  • 2019 MacBook Pro keyboard changes don't look like they're going to do much

    I pulled the plug replacing my early 2013 MBP to the late 2018 high end machine.   I did so after following keyboard issues and Apple's fall processor updates (and took advantage of AppleInsider's sponsors for great discounts)  I have been using this machine every day for 8-12 hours with zero issues with the keyboard.  Although it took some initial adjustment I now love the keyboard travel and, for me, I find it the best I have ever used.  

    As keyboards are (still) mechanical they will always have the potential for mechanical failure.  But I am happy that Apple has extended the keyboard warranty (although I don't believe I will ever need it) and expect to keep this MBP for 5-7 years before next replacement.