My 7" 40GB $62 Traveling Tablet: Amazon Fire

On a trip to Indianapolis, I left my iPad on the plane. Tracking it did no good. I was not happy. For Christmas this year I got the cheapo Fire with Firea wimpy 8GB of storage. For $12 I added a 32GB card. Total cost = $62.

It's a great traveling companion. The screen's not the absolute best but works just fine for watching streaming movies (supports all the streaming services I use) and with 40GB downloaded movies. And yes you can read books, play games and store a lot of music. Since it has Bluetooth I use my Bluetooth stereo buds. To protect the screen I slipped it into a standard shoe shining mitt you get at the hotel.

The problem with using your phone on a trip is the battery consumption. Sometimes on a trip to NYC I've depleted the battery so much, I'm afraid I won't have enough to run the Lyft app. Now I turn my phone completely off and just use the Fire. If I happen to leave it on a plane again, I don't think I'll have as much angst.

Protecting yourself from hacked credit card readers: Google Wallet & Apple Pay

First TJX with 90 million accounts stolen, then Target with 40 million accounts stolen and now Home Depot with 56 million accounts stolen.  I found it interesting that Target was hacked through a flaw in Microsoft Active Directoy.  No news yet on the details of Home Depot.

What's a person to do?   Buy a phone with NFC payment option.  The newer Android phones have Google Wallet and it looks like Apple Pay is coming soon.  When you activate Google Wallet, you link it to a credit card.  I prefer American Express because they have great anti-fraud detection and allow you to dispute un-authorized charges from their website.

When you are shopping, look for the wireless payment option on the card reader.  Most grocery stores have them and big chains like Best Buy.  Walmart is too cheap and does not (use cash if you must shop there).   WirelessWhen you touch your phone to the card reader, Google prompts you for a pin.  And that's it.  What's interesting is that to the card reader, it looks like a single use Master Card regardless of your actual credit card.  And you need a data connection, because Google sends out the authorization code real time.  Pretty cool.  On your credit card statement it will say GOOGNFC*merchant name

If your phone gets misplaced, you can deactivate your wallet from the Google website.  Of course you have 2-factor authentication for your Google account, right?  And you have a lock code on your phone. And a good PIN for Google Wallet.

Bottom line, if that card reader was hacked, the bad guys only get a fictitious credit card number that can't be used.  Not bad.