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Tai Toh

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    October 2014

    Setup pfSense as an OpenVPN client for specific devices

    One of the most powerful features of pfSense is it’s ability to direct your data requests through different end-points using NAT rules. In my case, I like to be able to access the content in Netflix US. In comparison, Netflix Canada’s content is somewhat anemic, although we do get such gems as Community and the Good Wife here. There are many ways to access Netflix US content (and BBC iPlayer content) outside of the geo-fence territories. I prefer to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). pfSense is amazing as an OpenVPN client because I can selectively route any device on my network through the VPN service (i.e., my tablets and TV go through US servers, while my smartphone, VoIP, computers go my local ISP).

    What it boils down to is the fact that one technology is designed for the users (Apple) and the other is designed for the merchants (CurrentC). Normally I’d say that the product with the most user appeal will win but the power and size behind the CurrentC group is too big to ignore. People aren’t reliant on mobile payments at this point so stopping Apple Pay out of the gate is a strong move as almost nobody will miss it.

    CurrentC requires an app, password and QR Code to be scanned.  It works for pre-paid, cash accounts.  This is a solution to a business problem (lower transaction fees, better customer tracking) that is being touted as addressing a customer need.  People like using their credit cards.  The US economy (and Canada to a lesser extent) are built on easy access to credit.  They’ll be shocked to find out that people don’t have positive balances in their bank accounts.

    I’m not even sure if the CurrentC group of retailers (really big retailers with over 110,000 storefronts in North America) are even serious about deploying it.  It strikes me as a competitive wedge to negotiate lower transaction fees with Credit Card companies. They are probably also using it to extract better terms (customer info) from Apple and Google with their competing wallet technologies.

    Apple Pay: Addressing a customer problem

    A lot of people think that Apple is about selling more hardware, creating lust for their products, but deep down, I feel that they are trying to address real problems and pain points for their customers. It’s remarkably simple, but often times, the tension between business needs and customer needs leads to a blurred product vision.  I’ve […]

    HP T610 thin client: low-powered, low-cost XBMC box

    [UPDATE 2015/06/26]: I ended up buying an HP T620 for my XBMC box.  The T610 here is now my pfSense router firewall with a dual Intel Gigabit NIC. I’ve been looking for something to replace the aging Asus O!Play HDP-R1.   While the media player still plays all my content, the usability is absolutely atrocious.  It […]

    Happy Anniversary

    Jen and I celebrated our 8-year anniversary this past Tuesday at a wonderful dinner at L’Avenue, a neighborhood restaurant. My wife wrote a very heart felt post about the love that we share between each other and the relative value of that love to our two kids.  Given that I was involved in the conversation, […]

    Pixels & Widgets

    A blog by Tai Toh