Coin Review

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I heard about coin from from a co-worker.  Coin claims to be an electronic card that can hold the information of any magstripe card, such as debit cards, credit cards, ATM cards, some store loyalty cards, and there is potential for some hotel keys as well.  While the Android/iOS phone app holds all your card information, the actual Coin card can hold up to 8 cards at a time, than can be quickly synced from your phone.

Well I heard about it it on November 15th, 2013.  The pre-order price at the time was $50 + $5 shipping. It was expected to go up to $100. Being that I work for a credit union, I like to keep up on financial technologies.  So I thought for $50 it is worth the try. So November 16th, 2013 I had officially pre-ordered my coin, I only had to wait. and wait and wait! In June no, not 7 months later, but 19 months later June 2015, I got notification of a UPS delivery, I was quite surprised, I was hardly expecting it to ever show up.

I quickly got it out of the box, installed the app on my new phone (I had replaced my phone within the 16 months since the app had come out). Setting it up was fairly simple. I got it setup with two credit cards and a debit card.

To add cards you login to the app with a Tap Code you setup when you installed it, insert a card swipe reader similar to that of a square reader, click Add Card, and then swipe your card. Next you type in the CVV  code and an optional customer support phone number. You can then photograph the front and back of the card for storage in the Coin App.

I could not get it to read my American Express, because the MagStripe is pretty worn out, because the card cannot be swiped, it will NOT be synced to the Coin.  So I am waiting until either American Express sends me a new one, or Costco switching to Visa and I no longer need American Express.

Once you have your cards added to your phone app, you can then sync the cards you want to your coin.  Tap Sync Coin at the bottom, put a check mark on the cards you choose and tap sync.

So let’s get to usage.  I was excited to go out an try it.  That night I had to hit a few stores  at first it worked well, then it just said LOCK.  I wasn’t sure how to unlock it.  It turns out after some time it goes into a lock mode, which is good in case it is lost or stolen, your card info is safe.  It turns out to unlock the Coin, you use the same Tap Code that is on your app.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to use my Coin more effectively.

So does it work?   I have about an 80% success rate of merchants being able to successfully swipe the coin, without me having to pull out the real card instead. Going through the FAQ, this seems to match what they say, 85% of the merchants only use Track 2 data (card number info), while others use Track 1 data (Card holder name) as well, which Coin does not send.  When it works, merchants hardly look at it.  If it doesn’t swipe well then they look at it rather strangely.  I think because most merchants fall back method is to type in the card number and  the Coin only displays the last 4 digits.  A few merchants are intrigued by it, others don’t seem to care on  way or the other.

So after about a month of usage here is my list of Pros and Cons


  1. It does seem to hold cards securely,  If I leave my coin with a merchant, they won’t be able to use it.
  2. It also keeps track of it’s last known locations via bluetooth tether which will also let you know if you left your Coin behind (though the only time I was alerted that I left my Coin behind, it was right next to me).
  3. It is freaking cool, if I do ever have declined card, I could push a button and say try again… I wonder how that will go over
  4. I only paid $55 for it so I think that is an okay price to try out some new technology


  1. While it does usually work, it doesn’t always work… Which means I need to carry at least one backup card..
  2. When choosing a card, it only shows the type (Visa, M/C, etc) last 4 digits and Exp, which can make it hard if you don’t remember which is which without going to the original card or phone app.
  3. The battery will only last for 2 years and is not rechargeable or replaceable.
  4. It has no support for EM at least not this iteration, which will start to become an issue by the end of this year.  If only it had come out when it was supposed to, this version’s battery would be dying just after EMV is supposed to become more standard.
  5. In day to day usage, pulling out a card and handing it to a merchant in a fast paced environment, I have found myself choosing a standard card, because I don’t want to type in the Tap Code to unlock, then click through to find the correct card.  It just takes that much more effort that I sometimes just skip it.  Though if it worked well enough to not have backup cards, I wouldn’t have this option.

Overall I am impressed that it works, though there are things I would like to see.

  • At one point I thought I had read, that the Coin knows when it is swiped and can alert of multiple swipes, I liked this idea, as it can alert you of skimming.
  • I saw something about a freeze type mode, so when I am handing my Coin to someone, it stays on the card I selected, so that can’t purposely or accidentally charge the wrong or even multiple cards.

I am looking forward to see if and when Plastc will ship, as I did pre-order that as well.

Let me know if you found this useful

Let’s see… Second day of school and we get the first and supposedly biggest fund-raiser of the year!  The Opstad Walk-A-Thon will be held on September 27th.  There will be lots of prizes for those with the most collections. Prizes range from Toys ‘R Us gift certificates to limo ride to McDonald’s for a special lunch!

Allie ready for school

Allie ready for her first day of school

Don’t you want to help her win a lunch at McDonald’s?

You can sponsor Allie in one of two ways:

  • Per Lap Pledge – Collected after the Walk-A-Thon when you know how many laps were walked.
  • Flat Pledge – Collected at time of Pledge

Donations can be made as checks made out to “Opstad PTA” or taken on line using the PayPal link below.  Please let us know via email if you make a pledge online, so we can add it to her the list on her envelope.  Also if you pledge online make sure that the pledge is for Allie Cummins so she can get credit for it.

SaveUp Logo   SaveUp is  a site that was designed to help make saving money and reducing debt more fun.  I have been playing with SaveUp for about 3 months now. I have not won the Grand $2 Million Dollar prize (nobody has yet), or even any money.  But I have won a lot of credit for playing more games.  A Co-Worker that I got hooked on SaveUp has won $50.

The way it works is you setup your accounts (store your login and passwords for home banking) with SaveUp.  I did a lot of looking into to it see if it seemed scammy, but I couldn’t find anything too evil.   SaveUp will then give you credits for every dollar you save and for all the debit you pay down.  The credits can then be used to play games, most are Instant where you can choose to play one of three games of chance.  There are also weekly drawings worth roughly $100 each, and the Monthly $2,000,000.00 drawing!

Each day you are given 3 plays.  It takes 1 play and 10 credits to play any of the games or enter a drawing. You can get extra play each day for inviting 5 friends that also sign up.  (Up to a max of 5 plays per day). Each day you can also use 100 credits to buy an additional play for that day up to a max of 5 additional plays in any single day.  This will definitely eat through credits fast.

You can also Suggest and Vote on items for the next weeks Weekly Drawings.  Doing so, as well as playing games, publishing winnings, and inviting friends to use the site all help you earn what the call XP.  You can’t do anything with XP but when you reach certain levels you get a chunk of credits and extra plays.

So while I still haven’t won anything significant, I am still excited to have the chance of winning, without having to spend money to do so.  Actually saving money to win money is a pretty interesting concept and I thought I would like to share this site to everyone.


Now that I have been using a smart phone for a while now, I am seeing the need for mobile friendly websites.  What I don’t like though is having to maintain two complete sites.  So I decided to update myself on CSS and JavaScript and learn how to setup a site that detects the browser and gives an appropriately formated page.

First I started watching the Web Development: Lay Out and Update Web Pages training videos from CBT Nuggets.  While watching these videos I got excited about updating my personal site make better use of newer HTML/CSS/JavaScript and PHP features.  Now I am not doing anything super fancy.  But I am using template and includes, and have as much as possible in my CSS.  Once I got my site the way I liked it, I got a Mobile Detection PHP script that will tell me if a visitor is mobile or not.  It does a lot more than that, but knowing if it is mobile or not was all I needed.

Once I was able to detect if a visitor was mobile, I had to do something about it.  So the first thing I did was look at might site with CSS turned off.  I then created a second CSS file with only minor color and style updates leaving the site to flow as freely as possible.   The other thing I did was change how the menu worked.  When you load a page with a mobile device, I hid the menu, only showing a Menu button that spans the page with the content below it.  When you click this button, the page is replaced by the menu with full width buttons. This makes it a bit easier to push the button you want with small devices.

So now I had a PHP script that detected whether the visitor was a desktop or a mobile device, and served the proper CSS and menu.  The next thing I wanted to do was give the user the option to switch views.  Just because they are on a mobile device doesn’t mean they wanted a mobile view.  So I added a little code to check whether they chose Mobile or Desktop. (There is a link in the footer to switch views) .

This I seemed happy with until I looked at my site in IE and it was a horrible mess.  I decided to look at an HTML Validator site to see how bad my code was.  I fixed a few things, but the main thing was adding a DOCTYPE line at the beginning, It seems that while most browser can figure things out, IE is rather dependent on this field.  Now it is much better in IE than before, not as good as FireFox, Chrome, or Safari, but much better than it was before.


Well since it has been quite a while since I posted and my last post was about an android update I figure I might as well post about my latest.

I now have a Motorola Droid Bionic. It has been pretty good, I do miss the physical keyboard that my old Droid had and it looks like it still has Motorola’s crappy camera app. I think the camera app will make me choose and HTC or Samsung phone next. But let’s get to the point here.

After the 5.5.893 update I decided to root my phone for a few reasons. I wanted to do full backups, use Cisco AnyConnect VPN, change themes/icons, and get rid of bloat ware. Full backups  have now been useful, I still need to update our Cisco ASA license to allow mobile devices, but changing the icons and removing bloat ware doesn’t seem to help much. When using Rom Toolbox to remove pre-installed apps, most (though it seems like not all) show up in the Market as needing updates. So it is kind of like they are still there. As for changing the themes/icons I think that made my OTA Update fail for 5.9.902.

When my phone notified my that the OTA Update for 5.9.902 is available I started the download, then let it install, after about 10 seconds the icon got a little “!” on it then rebooted with a “Software update failed” pop-up. Searching the web it seems like most answers to download and reinstall a 5.5.893 ROM and whipe everything out. I ended up restoring my first backup after I rooted (which was from 1/3/2012) after which the OTA Update installed successfully.  At that point most of my apps had updates, and the few apps that I have that have data such as aCar (a mileage log app) only had info up to 1/3/2012…  So the lesson I learned is that if I am going to restore, I should do an app backup first so that I can restore and current data that I would need.  The next thing I did after all the apps were updated was take a fresh backup in case I have any other issues for the next update (hopefully Ice Cream Sandwich will be coming soon).

Well a couple weeks ago a I downloaded and installed the 2.2 update.  There is a lot of new fancy features.  With a bit of work I got flash working… not that I like it, but I can navigate flash only sites now..  bluetooth now seems to work properly with my jabra speaker!  I think I might start using it again :)   voice search came out last week and seems similar but more comeplete the the voice search found in the car dock screen.  Speaking of the car dock, both dock screens have been improved.

The car dock screen is not as pretty, but a bit more user friendly with larger buttons…  The desk dock now is prettier, has a dim button which is nice for bedside.  It then goes to a screensaver mode which is dimmer still but only shows the time… I kind of lick seeing everything so I can see if I missed a message without touching the phone. But the dimmer nightlight seems to be a decent tradeoff.

The worst thing about the update is battery life. I need to charge nearly twice a day, if I don’t charge it at work, it will be close do dieing when I get home.

Overall the new functionallity is awesome, and feels much more robust, and so long as I have a charger nearby I can deal with the battery issues.

It has been over two weeks since I had my bulging disc surgically repaired.  At first I had very little pain, the sciatic issues disappeared as soon as I woke up.  I did have pressure at the surgery site though.  After a while the was significant swelling, a little bit of sciatic pain was returning. It was becoming uncomfortable to sit against a backrest. 

It now feels like the swelling is starting to go down, the doctor thinks it is just a haematoma, and will go away within a few weeks.  When I am sitting in my chair at work, then stand up, it feels like I have an extremely heavy backpack on.  I am hoping that will eventually go away as well.

It is nice to be able to go for walks now, without having to sit down every 10 minutes..

My back issues.. I have been having some pain for nearly a year, the last few months it was hurting a lot, and going down my leg. I looked things up online and found out it was sciatic nerves getting pinched. I tried some stretching. But ended up going to a local chiropractor.

The first time after leaving the chiropractor I wasn’t sure I could walk! but by the next morning I felt a lot better, still some pain, but more mobile. I also noticed the more active I was the less it hurt. I got some Sketcher Shape-Ups that seemed to make it easier to stand up, they also make me feel a bit taller 😉

The pain started becoming more consistent, mostly hurting when I first stand up. I started taking naproxen (Alieve) which seemed help…

After about a month, and little change the chiropractor sent me in for a lower lumbar MRI. It showed a medium protrusion of the disc between L4 and L5, a bulging disk.

I went to see an orthopedic surgeon he checked everything and recommended getting a cortisone shot to coat the inflamed nerve.

I went and got my cortisone shot, which was rather odd, it was a little bit of a dull needle going into my back, but then when they pushed the cortisone in, I felt shooting pain all the way to my toes for about 30 seconds. I hadn’t realized it, but they had an anesthetic mixed with it, so my leg didn’t hurt for the rest of the day, but it took a few hours until I could walk normal again, it wanted to fall out from under me!

That was on Wednesday, Thursday was okay pretty much the same as always, Friday seemed to be a bit better, though I was very busy so my activity might have helped. This morning I am back on naproxen some more. We will see how things go. I am hoping the cortisone will kick in and give me some relief for at least a few months.

Droid Update


I have had my my Motorola Droid for a few months now, and I am very happy with it! It is amazing what it can do. Sure there are some issues I have with it, such as bluetooth support is not very clean, cut and paste is so cumbersome that it is useless, there is a lot of media types that aren’t supported, you ca’t accept meeting request, etc…

But all the stuff that can be done is quite amazing gmail works well, my work email works well through imap, navigation works well, and getting better all the time, Listen works to stream podcasts, Flixter movie app works pretty well, you can find any movie add it to your netflix queue, or buy tickets to see it. Google Sky is amazing, geo caching is almost too easy with this (though I only have looked for one cache so far). Being able to ssh/vnc from my phone is awesome! Even Allie likes to draw on it. I am happy every time an app has an update, because I know it is going to get better.

When I heard that there is going to be a new OS upgrade I was quite excited I am anxious to see more voice support. The current voice recognition work pretty well, though it is pretty limited to searching.
I am hoping I am one of the early people picked to get the update.

Anyways I just felt like blabbing about my phone and I am excited about getting more updates 🙂

Next round of pictures is from Christmas 2009. We got some Santa Train Pictures, Christmas Eve at Col’s house, and Christmas morning pictures at our house.

Chrismtas 2009 Pictures


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