Quitting Stripe for Braintree Payments?

I’ve written a lot about Stripe on here in recent years, mostly singing it’s praises as a great new, easy and cheap way to accept credit card payments from clients. Lately however it’s begun to annoy me that no progress has been made with getting the bank transfer times down for Irish customers. It still takes 7 – 9 days and I find myself groaning a little each time someone pays me via Stripe as I know it’s going to affect my cash flow. I’d prefer if they used PayPal or Bank Transfer at this stage so I get my money within a day or 2 max. Stripe are pretty slow to respond to support queries too and any time I ask them about the slow transfer times they roll out the same cut & paste response. This is my only real issue with Stripe however. It’s still pretty cool apart from that.

Braintree Payments are a newish credit card processor that I seem to keep hearing about this year. They are a PayPal owned company and offer essentially the exact same service as Stripe, ie – you sign up for a free account with no monthly fees and they offer credit card payment integration on your website, virtual terminal etc, charging just a percentage of each transaction. Braintree like Stripe also integrates easily with my invoicing system Zoho Invoice and you can get scripts, plugins etc for your website though the choice/range might be slightly smaller than for Stripe. At the minute the fees are pretty much the same as Stripe.

Here’s the things that interest me the most and what might make me switch from Stripe:

Fees

Braintree currently take NO fees for your first €50k income which could be a saving of hundreds each year for me for about the next few years at least. The fees are zero for the first €50k whether you use Braintree itself or the integrated PayPal payments option*.

Transfer Times

They also guarantee bank transfer times of 2 – 4 days max (including Ireland*), nearly half of Stripe’s which is damn significant. Braintree also integrates with Paypal so you can easier accept PayPal payments via a credit card form on your site so you can still get PayPal’s 1 – 2 day max transfer time.

Having just signed up for a Braintree account I must say I much prefer the Stripe website and dashboard. Braintree’s site seems awkward and overly complex but money talks! It’s worth giving Braintree a bash for a while at least I think.

Leon

*  Confrimed by Braintree support.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

After a month or so of using Braintree I can confirm that it works fine and transfers are a little quicker than Stripe although the first few are only marginally quicker. HOWEVER I have had to abondon my Braintree account and revert to Stripe because of a series of fraudulent transactions that happened on Christmas Eve and day. There were over 100 un-requested payments totaling over €3,000 made to me by people I don’t know over those 2 days ranging from a few cents to €1,000 and all were made via a third party script on my website but were processed by Braintree and lined up for transfer to my bank account which could have caused all kinds of chargeback hassle and fees with my bank. I was in contact with Braintree’s support and risk departments and feel that they were of almost no help. They seemed to suggest that I may owe them money if the fraudulent transactions weren’t dealt with quickly by me and went to a chargeback situation which I didn’t understand at all. Braintree doesn’t appear to have any risk, fraud or security prevention setup by default and some of the payments that were made to me were different names with the same credit card number which shouldn’t be allowed happen by any modern payment processor in my opinion. Nothing else like this ever happened during my 2+ years with Stripe and I feel they are a safer bet still despite the slow transfers.

NOTE:

Also, since I started using Braintree, Stripe have reduced their fees considerably from about 2.5% to 1.4% so if they can just get those transfer times down and answer emails quicker they could still be the perfect solution.

Moon River and River Run Website Redesign

Moon River in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim has just celebrated it’s 20th year in business. They have been clients of mine for years now so it was great to be asked again to redesign both the Moon River and River Run Athlone websites to mark the occasion. I installed a fresh new responsive design for both sites.

Live December 2015 – www.MoonRiver.ie & www.TheRiverRun.ie

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Reverb Studios Design 10 Years Old Today!

On this day, 11th of the 11th, exactly 10 years ago I registered the business name “Reverb Studios” with the Companies Registration Office having finally realised that the Photoshop and Web Design hobbies I’d had for a couple of years might actually have some potential to provide a full time job. I’d only just moved to Leitrim a couple of years before and hadn’t been able to find a job in my field which at the time would have been Electronics/Engineering so in my ample spare time I messed around on the computer, teaching myself Photoshop, Dreamweaver, HTML/CSS, Music Editing and other programs that I still use regularly today.

I had registered a small PC Repair business the year before and got a few jobs per week fixing people’s computers. Mostly virus removal, optimisation and hardware upgrades but I didn’t enjoy it all that much and income was minimal. I built a few websites for myself, then friends and family who in turn recommended me to friends of theirs and before I knew it really, I was a web designer and my web design services were in demand! Luckily, around that time it was beginning to dawn on people that marketing your business on the web as well as offline was becoming a bit of a necessity so there seemed to be plenty of work. I got some mentoring and funding from the local enterprise board in Leitrim, wrote a business plan (at their suggestion) and basically professionalised my skills and offering and got started in earnest.

Since then I’ve gradually increased my clients list and income year on year and I’m glad to say that today I have a well known and respected business with over 120 repeat clients and have become recognised locally as an expert in both WordPress Web design and Photoshop as well as general IT solutions.

I plan to be in business for another 10 years at least and to continue expanding my skillset, services and client base and hopefully expand employee numbers or partner with other companies at some stage.

The moral of my story is that it’s absolutely possible to make a career out of a hobby or something you love doing and to achieve that on your own steam starting with no experience or qualifications. All it takes is some common sense, hard work, good organisation and great communication.

Leon – Reverb Studios

 

Fix: SSL Not Trusted or Invalid Security Error on Mobile

My own site has been fully SSL for a while now but I noticed a security error while viewing it on my Android phone using the Chrome browser recently. It’s fine on a desktop. I googled around a bit and contacted my SSL issuer NameCheap.com for advice and they suggested that I hadn’t installed the Certificate Authority (CA) bundle while installing the main SSL cert initially. The CA bundle is optional when installing an SSL cert but it exists to improve compatibility with web browsers and clients so is worthwhile putting in too.

NameCheap provided the CA bundle code via email and it was a fairly straightforward process to go in to my hosts Cpanel and add the CA to the existing cert via the SSL/TLS Manager.

The process is outlined here:

Namecheap.com/support/knowledgebase/article.aspx/9418/0/cpanel

Fix for WordPress Jetpack Not Activated: Site Inaccessible

I’ve noticed on some website hosts including my own old one that there are issues enabling the WordPress Jetpack plugin. Some hosts basically block access to the WordPress xmlrpc.php file in the root of all WordPress sites for security and performance reasons. The same file is a target for hackers so I guess you can’t blame hosts too much. However, Jetpack is a pretty cool plugin from WordPress themselves that allows all kinds of functionality on your website including Image CDN, Email Subscriptions, Security, Share icons and my personal favorite, Auto-posting to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc.. so I’d really prefer if it wasn’t blocked!

The WordPress Android and iOS apps both use the xmlrpc.php files to work too so that in addition to all the great functionality the Jetpack plugin offers makes it worth the risk for me to allow access to it.

When you add the plugin and activate it, you will be asked to connect to your WordPress.com account but while doing this you may see the error “Your website needs to be publicly accessible to use Jetpack: site_inaccessible” or “Jetpack not activated: site inaccessible”. After talking with my host they reluctantly suggested I add the following code to my site’s .htaccess file:

<files xmlrpc.php>
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</files>

Adding this to a few of my client’s sites worked perfectly.

You can make this a little more secure by changing the “Allow from all” line above to allow from a specific IP address but the server IP Jetpack tries to connect to seems to change frequently and just adding WordPress.com wont work either.

 

How to Speed up an Android Phone

Is it just me or do smart phones these days get very slow very quickly after purchase!? The conspiracy theorist in me reckons it’s a cunning ploy by manufacturers to get you to abandon older phones and buy their newest one. For example my old iPhone 3Gs is almost unusable these days despite completely clearing it out, resetting and only ever using to take business calls!?

There’s a few things you can do to counteract the slowness or at least reduce it a little bit. The procedures and screenshots I used below were done on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with Android 5.1.1 installed.

Remove unwanted Apps and Data:

These are the most effective and obvious things you can do. If you go into settings and Application Manager and uninstall any apps you never use or don’t need anymore that should help. Be sure to sort them by Size to see the biggest space hoggers at the top and also remember to view apps both on the device memory and SD card if you have one.

You should also remove images, video and music you no longer use. These files can be massive due to the high resolution cameras on most phones these days. You can either copy them off onto a PC or if they are automatically backed up to somewhere like DropBox, Google Photos or similar cloud storage then you don’t really need the device copy anymore.

Update:

Technically upgrading your phones operating system will actually add a ton more data but hopefully it may also speed up some tasks and processes so it’s worth doing I think. You can check for updates in Settings – About Device – Software Updates.

Clear Cache:

If you go into Settings – Storage you will see how your device’s space is currently being used up and how much space you have left on both the device and SD card. Not a lot of people know that if you click on the “Cached Data” entry here you will get an option to clear the cache which could free up a lot of space.

Clear Android Cache

End Running Apps & Processes:

Most modern phones can multitask, that is they can keep multiple apps open and running so you can easily switch between them. However, the more you have open and running the more RAM or memory is required so that could slow a phone down drastically. I like to get into the habit of ending all running apps. You can do this via the “Active Applications” app/widget or via the multi window button bottom left of the Note 4.

End Active Apps

Speedup Apps:

There are some good apps that continuously monitor and adjust your phones speed and give you options to clear cache etc. One decent one I’ve used is “Clean Master”.

Reset Phone:

If all else fails and your phone is getting pretty old you could try a total reset which will return the phone to it’s factory settings but make sure everything is backed up properly first. You can do this via Settings – Backup and Reset.