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How to create a PayPal Payments Pro developer account

It’s been a while since I used a PayPal sandbox account. Years ago, the developer / sandbox account was completely separate from a live PayPal account. Now, the PayPal Developer website links directly to the normal PayPal account creation page.

PayPal developer signup link

If you are looking to get a PayPal developer account, you are likely doing so to test out a merchant account to receive money. The regular signup process lays out the 2 main options of PayPal Payments Standard and PayPal Payments Pro:

Payment Payments Pro account option

This is misleading for a developer account, because in order to test PayPal Payments Standard or PayPal Payments Pro, you technically only need a normal personal PayPal account. I don’t know why PayPal does not make this clearer, but then again they have a history of hiding other information such as their toll-free support number.

PayPal Payments Pro has a monthly fee and quite an involved application process, including a manual approval process where they call you. This is fine for when you and/or your clients are ready to start accepting real payments. However, there is a much faster way to get started in order to work in a sandbox environment!

Simply create a normal, personal PayPal account if you don’t already have one. Then, sign in to the PayPal Developer website. From there, visit the dashboard and then click on the “Sandbox > Accounts” link. There, you will see test buyer and seller accounts:

PayPal sandbox accounts

You can edit the seller account and click the “Upgrade to Pro” button:

PayPal sandbox account update to Pro

This is apparently a permanent step, but you can easily create additional accounts. The important part is that you don’t have to create a full, paid PayPal Payments Pro account in order to have a PayPal Payments Pro developer account!

New Westminster downtown train whistle cessation September 2015

According to a New Westminster City engineering report from May 2015, train whistle cessation downtown is expected to be completed in September 2015.

The noise from train horns at all times of the day has long been an issue for residents and businesses in and near New Westminster. A steady increase in residential developments near the water and thus next to the train crossings has coincided with an increase in complaints, and it was reported in 2013 that the train whistle noise had become the top complaint in the city.

An effort that began many years ago as part of a general Downtown Community Plan and that is estimated to cost at least $3 million (paid by some combination of the city and the railway companies) is seeing its first results. Train whistle cessation has already started at the Port Royal crossing; upcoming highlights include the completion of upgrades to the downtown crossings (Begbie and Front Street as well as Front Street at Fourth Street) in September 2015 and to the Quayside Drive crossing some time in 2016.

More information about the silencing of the train horns can be found on the New Westminster City website on the Train Whistling FAQs page. Quietly exciting times…

New Westminster downtown internet options

I recently moved my web development company‘s office to downtown New Westminster (at Columbia Street and 4th Street). I was very surprised to discover that Telus’s maximum download speed for my building was 6Mbps (which is not feasible for a web development company!), and that Shaw did not service the building at all. By contrast, 15Mbps is effectively the minimum speed at home. As it turns out there are a few blocks in downtown New Westminster where the internet speeds are awful.

After multiple calls to both Telus and Shaw, I was resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to add or improve service any time soon. There is old copper wiring more than 10 kilometres to the nearest substation and neither company said they had plans to install new wiring. The only thing I was offered was something called “managed internet” where you pay Telus to build the fibre for you (tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) — not even close to a realistic option!

Some of the other service providers such as Teksavvy weren’t able to offer anything better, since they simply lease capacity from the “big 2″ of Telus and Shaw.

After reaching out to the City of New Westminster and talking to some businesses in the area, I found that the bad internet speeds are well known in my area, although the speeds are much better a few blocks further west. I also found out about the Intelligent City initiative; a major component of this initiative is to build a fibre optic network through the city. The City of New Westminster does not intend on being an internet service provider, but they would build and own the network, leasing out the capacity to other service providers. This is an exciting development whose general plan has been approved, but will realistically take at least a couple of years before it is ready for commercial use.

Other options included:
* Wireless cell phone plans, where LTE networks now offer great speeds. However, the bandwidth offered with the Telus, Bell, and Rogers plans (as well as some of the smaller companies) topped out at 20GB per month, at which point the costs per GB skyrocket.
* Satellite internet from a company such as TeraGo, although it would cost at least $350 per month for a 5Mbps connection, and a 15Mbps connection would cost $950 per month.
* A “bonded” connection through Lightspeed Internet — this involves combining multiple connections into a single connection. They lease capacity through Telus’s lines, but Telus does not offer this bonded connection. The cost for my building for 3 bonded lines for an effective speed of 15Mbps is $340 per month.
* As suggested by my building neighbours Techno Monkey Media, get a company or building down the street (where they have decent internet speeds) to agree to let me get a normal Telus, Shaw, or other wired connection in their building, then send the signal to my building via rooftop satellites. This has some modest up-front costs, and the ongoing costs are no more than a standard connection.

I ended up moving forwarded with the bonded connection. However, the cost is not something I want to be paying in the long-term. While I wait for fibre internet to come to New Westminster, I hope to set up the “beam an internet connection via rooftop satellites” connection. In any case, this is a problem I would have never expected for downtown New Westminster!

Tangerine Bank 3% savings account interest promotion for 6 months

If you have a Tangerine Bank regular savings account (not a TFSA or RRSP savings account), it’s worth calling in to see whether you can get the latest promotional offer of a 3% interest rate for 6 months.

When ING Direct was launched in 1997, it was a clear leader regarding high interest savings account interest rates. Over the years, savings account interest rates everywhere in Canada have dropped significantly, making the term “high interest” a bit of a misnomer. However, even before Scotiabank bought ING Direct and rebranded it as Tangerine Bank, ING Direct’s savings account interest rates had been dropping faster than other comparable accounts, and it is currently tied for last on this chart.

Tangerine Bank has been putting out a lot of interest rate promotions with unattractive stipulations. For example, the rate might be only on net new deposits, or there might be a bonus for taking a one-time action such as switching your direct deposit payroll, or with terms that steer you towards locking in your money for lower rates in the future.

The latest promo is more straightforward, although if you haven’t received a call or an e-mail about it, you’ll have to call in to see if you can get it. In short, it offers a 3% interest rate (technically a 1.95% additional rate on top of the current 1.05% rate) for all money in your regular savings account(s) for the next 180 days / 6 months. The 6-month 3% rate makes Tangerine the temporary leader for a savings account interest rate in Canada. Once the rate is applied to your account, you don’t have to change how you save or set a reminder to pull the money out before it gets locked in — the additional interest rate will just get removed after 6 months. I first read about it in this thread, where you can read about other people’s experiences in getting the promotion.

Not only is this promotion not publicly advertised, but there is no official information about how someone is eligible to take part in the promotion (whether it’s based on your account history or balance) or when the offer will end. When I called in, I told the customer service representative that I read about the promotion on an online forum and that I’d like to take part in it. They said “Sure, we can see whether we can apply that right away” and then almost immediately after, “Yes, I have access to add it”. He couldn’t tell me why he had access to add it, though.

I was able to confirm that the promotion was applied by clicking on the “My contest entries and Bonuses” on the left menu:
My contest entries and Bonuses link

… and then it appeared in the “Your special rate offers” table:

Your special rate offers table

Here is the full list of terms and conditions that appeared on my account.

Modo car co-op review in New Westminster: convenient car sharing

I’ve been interested in car sharing programs for quite a while as a second car option (if not eventually a primary car option!). The promise is that they provide the convenience of a car without the costs and hassle of actually owning one. However, outside of Vancouver itself, there are very limited options in Metro Vancouver. After moving to New Westminster, I discovered that Modo operates here (and is the only car sharing company that does); as of the time of this post, there are 11 vehicles in New Westminster, including 3 at the Quay and 1 outside of the Columbia SkyTrain station.

I decided to try Modo. It was easy to sign up, easy to book a car, and pretty fun, too.

All but 2 of the Modo cars in New Westminster are a 2012 model year or newer. The older ones are a 2011 Prius and a 2009 Dodge Caravan. They are all sedan or hatchback sizes except for the Caravan and a RAV4.

To join Modo, you have to pay a $20 application fee. Then you can choose 1 of 2 models:

  • pay a refundable $500 buy-in fee to become an owner, then for actual usage pay $4 per hour + mileage (40 cents per kilometre for the first 40km, then 20 cents thereafter); or
  • pay $5 per month as a standard member, then for actual usage pay $8 per hour with the first 200 kilometres free

(There are a few more differences in the different membership models, which you can find out more about on the Modo website.)

Gas is included in the cost, as are Golden Ears and Port Mann bridge tolls. You are expected to fill up the tank past 1/4 full at all times, although you use a Modo credit card, which is included in a pouch next to the steering wheel:

Modo pouch for the car keys and gas card

You pick up your car from a designated spot and have to return it to that same spot when you are done.

You don’t have to worry about car insurance or maintenance. If you pay for your bookings with a credit card that has collision damage insurance for rentals, that coverage is valid for Modo bookings as well. Otherwise you can pay into a damage insurance pool, which is currently $39 per year.

Extra note: I was surprised to find out that you can take a Modo car to the USA.

Here is a brief summary of my experience when registering for a Modo membership, as well as making my first booking:

The application process was done (almost) entirely online. After completing the application, I had to call ICBC to get them to e-mail my driving record to Modo. After that, it took exactly 1 week for my Modo fob to arrive in the mail:

Your key (fob) to all Modo cars

Once I had my fob, I signed in to the Modo website to search for available cars for a specific time period and location:

Enter your location and dates to search for a Modo car

Select from the available cars and times

I was able to view information about each car and see a map showing where to pick up the car:

Information about the car

Once I’d selected a car and time period, I could view additional information about the car, such as special operating instructions for a hybrid car. (There are no keys, and to power it on there is a… Power button!)

Special instructions about the car

When the time came to pick up the car, I walked over to the location and there was the Prius, in a dedicated Modo parking spot:

Designated Modo parking spot

Using my fob, I waved it over the sensor on the dashboard and the car automatically unlocked. To lock the car (and disable the engine) at any of my stops, I waved the fob over the sensor once again.

Fob in to unlock the car and enable the engine

I thought I had plenty of time to return the car, but I ended up being stuck behind a train for 15 minutes. (Tip in New Westminster: if you’re returning a car to the Quay, consider using the overpass at Quayside and Carnarvon, as you might get stuck at Front and Begbie!) I called Modo to tell them about this. Thankfully the next booking wasn’t for another 30 minutes, so they extended my booking by the extra half hour, which cost me an extra $4 instead of having to pay the $25 late fee.

I then parked the car back in the same parking stall, “fobbed out”, and walked home.

I can definitely recommend Modo. If you think it might suit your needs, you can essentially try it out by choosing the monthly $5 membership option. You can of course do your own calculations to figure out whether a car sharing service makes sense for you, whether Modo is the best option compared to the competition (such as Zipcar, Car2Go, and Evo), and then within each service, which plan suits your needs.