Taxi prefers Square over regular credit card terminal

As I was getting from the airport to my hotel in Columbus, Ohio, I took a taxi. Upon disembarking, it was time to pay and I noticed a credit card device hanging at the back of the passenger seat (this seems to be more common in the USA these days thankfully). 

However, the driver told me not to swipe it there. He’d prefer to use Square as he would save on fees. So he plugged the Square dongle into his phone, swiped my card, I gave him his tip via the app, signed virtually, and the receipt automatically arrived via email.

A much better workflow for me (since I don’t have to deal with a paper receipt). But it got me thinking. Square charges a 2.75% fee up-front. This is by no means cheap. However it does guarantee the money in your bank account within a day or two.

I’m willing to bet that the device tethered to his cab might charge less (or close to equivalent?), but pay-out over a longer period of time. For whomever installed that device, they’re going to presume that no one uses the credit card terminal. This is the bonus of competition — the consumer isn’t affected (arguably, the consumer experience improved — it wasn’t too long ago that all taxis were cash-only affairs) and the driver wins.

Market share

What is the market share of BMW? Maybe 1 or 1.5%. But when one drives by, you either have one, or you wish you had one. Build products that people lust after; if you can do that, you don’t have to worry about market share. 

Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, via an episode of This Week in Startups.

Oracle Linux ships MariaDB

I can’t remember why I was installing Oracle Enterprise Linux 7 on Oracle VirtualBox a while back, but I did notice something interesting. It ships, just like CentOS 7, MariaDB Server 5.5. Presumably, this means that MariaDB is now supported by Oracle, too ;-) [jokes aside, It’s likely because OEL7 is meant to be 100% compatible to RHEL7]


The only reason I mention this now is Vadim Tkachenko, probably got his most retweeted tweet recently, stating just that. If you want to upgrade to MariaDB 10, don’t forget that the repository download tool provides CentOS 7 binaries, which should “just work”.

If you want to switch to MySQL, there is a Public Yum repository that MySQL provides (and also don’t forget to check the Extras directory of the full installation – from OEL7 docs sub-titled: MySQL Community and MariaDB Packages). Be sure to read the MySQL docs about using the Yum repository. I also just noticed that the docs now have information on replacing a third-party distribution of MySQL using the MySQL yum repository.

Trip report: LinuxCon North America, CentOS Dojo Paris, WebExpo Prague

I had quite a good time at LinuxCon North America/CloudOpen North America 2014, alongside my colleague Max Mether – between us, we gave a total of five talks. I noticed that this year there was a database heavy track — Morgan Tocker from Oracle’s MySQL Team had a few talks as did Martin MC Brown from Continuent. 

The interest in MariaDB stems from the fact that people are starting to just see it appear in CentOS 7, and its just everywhere (you can even get it from the latest Ubuntu LTS). This makes for giving interesting talks, since many are shipping MariaDB 5.5 as the default choice, but that’s something we released over 2 years ago; clearly there are many interesting new bits in MariaDB 10.0 that need attention!

Chicago is a fun place to be — the speaker gift was an architectural tour of Chicago by boat, probably one of the most useful gifts I’ve ever received (yes, I took plenty of photos!). The Linux Foundation team organised the event wonderfully as always, and I reckon the way the keynotes were setup with the booths in the same room was a clear winner — pity we didn’t have a booth there this year. 

Shortly afterwards, I headed to Paris for the CentOS Dojo. The room was full (some 50 attendees?), whom were mainly using CentOS and its clear that CentOS 7 comes with MariaDB so this was a talk to get people up to speed with what’s different with MySQL 5.5, what’s missing from MySQL 5.6, and when to look at MariaDB 10. We want to build CentOS 7 packages for the MariaDB repository (10.0 is already available with MariaDB 10.0.14), so watch MDEV-6433 in the meantime for the latest 5.5 builds.

Then there was WebExpo Prague, with over 1,400 attendees, held in various theatres around Prague. Lots of people here also using MariaDB, some rather interesting conversations on having a redis front-end, how we power many sites, etc. Its clear that there is a need for a meetup group here, there’s plenty of usage.

T-Mobile USA PAYG gets worse…

Back in August, I wrote about how T-Mobile USA changes their pay-as-you-go plans. It is even worse than it seems.

I’m back again this month, and find that if I want to change to the $3/day unlimited calls/text/data plan, I have to wait till the next month (i.e. the next billing cycle). Previously this would just work immediately, as long as I changed it online. 

My options to get data now? Pay $10 for a 1-week High Speed Data Pass with up to 1GB of traffic to utilise. There’s also a $5 day pass. 

T-Mobile reminds me of my experience with DiGi. Both were underdogs. Once they get more market-share (in T-Mobile’s case, maybe a better network/selling the iPhone; in DiGi’s case finally getting a 3G license back in the day), they just can’t handle the load, and graduate from their underdog status to being worse than the incumbents. I’m still a T-Mobile & DiGi customer, but the question is for how long more?

Time wasted on planes when you can’t use devices

I tend to travel on planes quite often, and I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that you have to turn off your electronic devices during take-off and landing. I thought life would be better when you could keep your tablets on in flight mode (thus not requiring me to carry physical newspapers on-board or even magazines). 

F1 airshowIn the USA and in the UK, this is no longer a problem (it hasn’t been at least since the end of last year), I was always hoping that the Asian carriers I tend to fly (Singapore Airlines & Cathay Pacific in particular) would modernise.

Sometimes I fly to Singapore from KL, and that’s about a 45-minute flight. One day I measured how much time I was wasting without using electronic devices:

  • 26 minutes 45 seconds upon takeoff – announcement, taxi, takeoff (KUL-SIN)
  • 14 minutes upon landing – here during taxi, you can use electronic devices 

41 minutes wasted, is almost as long as the flight ;-)

So it is with great pleasure that since the middle of the year (July 2014), Singapore Airlines allows you to use your devices (not laptops, but thats ok – tablets/phones are good enough for now) in flight-safe mode, and Cathay Pacific just allowed this as of mid-September 2014.

Now, when will Malaysia Airlines, and AirAsia wake up? Presumably this has a lot to do with the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation.