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CalendarMarch 24, 2015

Review: NeatReceipts Portable Scanner and Software

Review: NeatReceipts Portable Scanner and SoftwareI love all things paperless. A few years ago, I made a decision to make my business nearly 100% paperless, which meant eliminating paper in every possible area. For example, my employees now use iPads for meetings, which means no more paper handouts. I have my accountant provide all documents electronically, which means no more paper tax forms. Whenever possible, I sign contracts electronically using EchoSign or another method. PDFs have almost completely replaced hard copies in my business and I love it.

But there are two areas that have been lagging behind in my journey to a digital utopia — receipts and business cards. The main reason I have been keeping paper versions of these items is because I couldn't find a good solution that organized them well. I tried Chase's "Jot" app to track my business purchases for a year, but it's interface and performance was underwhelming. I tried scanning business cards using my primary scanner, but it was too much of a hassle to make the effort worthwhile.

I looked for another solution and found NeatReceipts.

NeatReceipts is the entry-level version of Neat's "Smart Organization System." It is a small portable scanner that fits neatly on my desk and scans receipts and business cards directly into the bundled Neat software. Since the hardware and software are two separate but equally important elements of the Neat scanning system, I will cover them individually.

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CalendarMarch 11, 2015

The Most Epic Pi Day in 100 Years

International Pi Day - 3/14/15 Every year, nerds and non-nerds alike celebrate International Pi Day on March 14. Why? Because 3/14 represents the first three digits of Pi (3.14).

This year is even more spectacular, as 3/14/15 represents the first five digits of pi (3.1415). :-o It is a monumental event that only happens once every hundred years. What does this mean? Well, nothing except for the fact that it is awesome.

Some longtime visitors might remember I made a big deal when it was 11/11/11. I even took a screenshot of my system clock at 11:11 on 11/11/11 because, well, I had to. Again, there wasn't much reason for celebrating that day except for the fact it was awesome.

For those unfamiliar with pi, it is the number of times you multiply the diameter of a circle in order to calculate the circumference. Likewise, if you were to take a tape measure and wrap it around a perfectly cylindrical object, you could divide the length of the circle by pi and get the diameter of the object.

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CalendarFebruary 13, 2015

Apple: Remember When It Just Worked?

Edited Yosemite Finder Icon After upgrading to OS X Yosemite version 10.10.2, My iMac no longer goes to sleep. It's the first time any Mac I have ever owned has failed to enter sleep mode. But I'm not surprised.

Over the past few years, Apple's software has become increasingly buggy and unstable. Apple's old motto of "It just works" no longer fits their products as each recent version of OS X and iOS has been buggier than the last. Ever since Snow Leopard (also known as the Windows XP of OS X because of its stability), Apple's software quality has been in a steady decline.

Many long-time Apple users may already know what I mean, but here are just a few bugs to prove my point:

OS X

  1. [Finder] Sleep mode doesn't activate so my computer is always on
  2. [Finder] The menu bars on my non-retina displays often display garbled graphics
  3. [Finder] Sometimes the only way to get two devices to communicate via AirDrop is to restart one or both devices
  4. [System] The Software Update daemon is often listed as "Not Responding" in Activity Monitor
  5. [System] Memory usage is often close to 100% (out of 32 GB) with only a few programs running
  6. [Mail] Mail appends an extra two line breaks to signatures (this dates back to at least OS X 10.2)
  7. [Mail] Sometimes the message window shows "No Message Selected" when you click on a message and the only way to fix it is to restart the program
  8. [Mail] The position of the Activity window reverts to my central monitor every time I restart the program
  9. [Mail] Incoming IMAP messages sometimes only appear after restarting Mail
  10. [Mail] Mail reset all my mailbox preferences the other day causing me to have to reorganize several different folders that included over 30,000 messages

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CalendarJanuary 31, 2015

CES 2015 - The Top Two Themes

Each year at CES, a few predominant themes emerge. There were several new types of products at CES 2015, including wireless chargers, driverless cars, wearables, and the Internet of Things. However, the top two themes that stood out to me were virtual reality and drones.

Virtual Reality

CES 2015 Virtuix Omni Demonstration

Virtual reality products have been around for years. However, the buzz at CES 2015 was that this is the year when virtual reality is finally going to break out. Oculus (the company Facebook bought for $2 billion) had one of the most popular booths as people waited in line for hours just to try on one of the latest headsets. Razer demoed their "OSVR" platform, an open source development kit for virtual reality devices. Both Oculus and Razer touted their latest gadgets as almost production-ready, meaning they plan to begin selling them to consumers this year.

Even with all the hype surrounding virtual reality at CES this year, I'm not optimistic. Virtual reality devices have failed every time they have been introduced to the mass market and I don't think this year will be an exception. The Oculus demos showed that the 3D visual and aural experience has improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade. But this doesn't fix the main problem with virtual reality: you have to wear a bulky headset.

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CalendarJanuary 23, 2015

CES 2015 - C Stands for Curved TVs

CES might as well be called "TV Fest" because of the way televisions dominate the show each year. It seems that every year the TVs get bigger and thinner. All the major manufacturers display their latest proprietary technology that somehow makes their TVs better than all the competitors. It is a sight to behold.

CES 2015 Samsung TV Display

Two prominent themes stood out among the TVs introduced at CES 2015 - 4K and curved.

4K

HDTV is so 2012. When I visited CES in 2013, several companies were introducing their first production-ready 4K TVs. This January, I didn't see a single HD television except a few old ones for comparison purposes. Every new TV was 4K (with a resolution of at least 3840 x 2160). Make no mistake about it — 2015 is the year of 4K. You'll still be able to find cheap HDTVs for the next few years, but if you're buying a new large panel TV, 4K is the way to go.

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