Show of 01-05-2019

Tech Talk

January 5, 2019

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Frank Romeo: Looking for a QuickBooks or Quicken open source replacement accounting software. You covered it one day on the radio but I lost the name of the software. Please help. Frank Romeo
  • Tech Talk Responds: There are several accounting software programs that are free and open source. These programs are alternatives to the traditional accounting software programs, such as QuickBooks and Peachtree. All run on Windows, Mac, or Linux. I hope these open source options will be useful. Most are free. Some have commercial support options.
    • ADempiere — ADempiere Business Suite is an open-source software solution that combines enterprise resource planning (ERP), ​customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM) into its framework.
    • Apache OFBiz — Apache OFBiz offers users a full range of functionality with this open source accounting software solution. This ​functionality includes advanced e-commerce, catalog management, manufacturing and point-of-sale modules in addition to accounting functions.
    • Compiere — Compiere is a cloud-based accounting software and customer relationship management (CRM) software solution. Being a cloud-based solution, you can access Compiere from anywhere that you have an internet connection. Compiere has companies using the accounting software in a wide variety of industries, including distribution, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, government and the non-profit industry.
    • Front Accounting — Front Accounting is an accounting system for small companies that also functions as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Front Accounting has accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, and manufacturing modules, among others. This open source accounting software can handle multiple currencies and several companies simultaneously.
    • GnuCash — GnuCash serves as both a small business financial accounting software, as well as a personal finance software. GnuCash lets track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses easily. You may want to consider using this open source accounting software if you have a simple small business, such as a consulting firm or sole proprietorship. GnuCash is not as robust as the other small business accounting software applications described in this article.
    • LedgerSMB — LedgerSMB is an accounting software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for small to midsized businesses. LedgerSMB’s includes sales, purchasing, inventory management, fixed asset tracking, light manufacturing and point-of-sale features.
    • OpenBravo — Openbravo is a commercial open source software company. Openbravo is a web-based accounting software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for small to midsized businesses. While Open Bravo has traditional accounting capabilities like many of its competitors, there are some reports that many people abandon the accounting software.
    • PostBooks — PostBooks is an accounting software and business management system. PostBooks has the standard accounting modules, which includes general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, bank reconciliation and financial reporting. However, PostBooks has additional features that include customer resource management (CRM), purchasing and light manufacturing. PostBooks also has OpenRPT, which is an open source report writer so that you can customize its reports to meet your business’ specific needs.
  • Email from Susan in Alexandria: Hello Dr. Shurtz. I don’t believe you’ve featured Evelyn Berezin to-date. According to the Financial Times:  she developed a pioneering airline reservation system, electronic stock price displays, betting terminals for horseracing and weapons targeting machines for the Pentagon. She is best known for developing th Redactron’s Data Secretary, an early commercially successful word processor. AND she was a physics major. Happy New Year, Susan in Alexandria.
  • Tech Talk Responds: Great suggestion. I’ll take a look at her for a future show.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz, The latest Apple update, iOS 12.1.1, for iPhones & iPads includes: Notification preview using haptic touch on iPhone XR and Dual SIM with eSIM for additional carriers on iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. So are these particular updates included if one does not have one of the newer iPhones? Mine is a 6s plus, and I’d rather not have space wasted on my iPhone with things I don’t need or use. How does Apple winnow down stuff that is no applicable to older model phones? Or do they? Great program with lots of info! Happy New Year! Arnie in Colorado Springs,
  • Tech Talk Responds: The update only installs the features that are supported by your phone. During the installation process, it initializes the download for your particular hardware configuration. This procedure is common for all software installations. So you don’t have to worry about wasted space on your iPhone.
  • Email from Don in Atlanta: Dear Doc and Jim. My girlfriend has a laptop and she simply presses the on-off button to turn it off. I have told her she should use the software to turn off the computer, but she is not convinced. Who is correct? Don in Atlanta
  • Tech Talk Responds: Computers have gotten much better at protecting your data when things go wrong. But, they’re still not perfect at keeping all your data should you have to force shutdown your laptop. Always choose the shutdown option from the start menu on a PC and the Apple menu on a Mac. It may take longer but it won’t destroy any work you have open.
  • It can be incredibly damaging to your laptop to suddenly cut power to the device rather than properly shutting it down. A computer’s operating system is complex and delicate and a sudden loss of power can interrupt important processes happening in the background. Worst case scenario, you could render your laptop inoperable, so make sure to always properly power down the device.
  • It’s always important to hit ‘save’ and close your programs when powering off your laptop. Simply shutting down while files and pages are open could easily cause you to lose data! Make sure to always hit “save” to be safe, and close all programs before shutting down so you don’t risk losing any data.
  • Email from Tuc in Fairfax: Dear Tech Talk. I love social media and would like to check out whether some the pictures are real or fake. Is there a way to check whether these pictures appear anywhere else on the web. I want to unfriend all connections with fake pictures. Love the podcast. Tuc in Fairfax.
  • Tech Talk Responds: You can use various image searching tools online to find other copies of the image, track down the origin, and discover more information. Two good options are Google and Tineye. I actually prefer the Google search.
  • Google Image Search
    • Go to http://images.google.com
    • Click the Camera button on the right side of the search field.
    • There are two ways to search by image: Select “Paste image URL” and paste the copied address into the field. Or Select “Upload an image” and browse for the image that you saved to your computer.
    • Click “Search by image.”
    • If the image was found in other sizes, these will be displayed at the top. Pages where the same image can be found will be displayed beneath, and visually similar images can be found at the bottom of the first page of results.
  • Tineye Image Search
    • Go to http://tineye.com
    • Click the Upload button to browse your computer for an image file, or paste the copied image URL into the field.
    • Click Search Symbol
    • TinyEye will only return results for the same image, so browse through the results to find the origin of the image file.

Profiles in IT: Christopher Roy Monroe

  • Christopher Roy Monroe is an American physicist, an experimentalist in the areas of atomic, molecular, and optical physics and quantum information science.
  • Christopher Monroe was born October 19, 1965 in Southfield, Michigan.
  • After receiving his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1987, Monroe joined Carl Wieman’s research group at the University of Colorado.
  • With Wieman and postdoctoral researcher Eric Cornell, Monroe contributed to the path for cooling a gas of atoms to the Bose-Einstein condensation phase transition.
  • In 1992, he received his PhD from the University of Colorado under Wieman.
  • From 1992-2000, Monroe worked in the Ion Storage Group of David Wineland at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO.
  • With Wineland, Monroe led the research team that demonstrated the first quantum logic gate in 1995 and for the first time entangled multiple qubits.
  • In 2000, Monroe initiated a research group at the University of Michigan. He showed how qubit memories could be linked to single photons for quantum networking.
  • There he also demonstrated the first ion trap integrated on a semiconductor chip.
  • With Wineland, Monroe proposed a scalable quantum computer architecture based on shuttling atomic ions through complex ion trap chips.
  • In 2006, Monroe became Director of the FOCUS Center at the University of Michigan, focusing on the area of ultrafast optical science.
  • In 2007, Monroe became the Bice Zorn Professor of Physics at the Univ. of Maryland and a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (Univ. of Maryland and NIST).
  • Monroe’s group produced quantum entanglement between two widely separated atoms and teleported quantum information between matter separated over distance.
  • They exploited this result for a number of quantum communication protocols and for a new hybrid memory/photon quantum computer architecture.
  • In 2015, he co-founded IonQ with Jungsang Kim from Duke University and raised $2M in seed money from the venture firm New Enterprise Associates.
  • IonQ was founded on a gamble that ‘trapped ion quantum’ computing could outperform the silicon-based quantum computers that Google and others are building.
  • The specific ‘trapped ion technology’ used by IonQ’s quantum computer replaces the supercooled silicon with ytterbium, a silvery rare earth metal.
  • In 2017, they raised a $20M series B, led by Google Ventures and New Enterprise.
  • IonQ has constructed a quantum computer that can perform calculations on a 79-qubit array, beating Google’s efforts by 7 qubits.
  • Their error rates are also the best in the business, with their single-qubit error rate at 99.97% while the nearest competitors are around the 99.5 mark, and a two-qubit error rate of 99.3% when most competitors are beneath 95%.

Google Has Developed Radar on a Chip to Replace Touchscreens

  • Google is one-step closer to replacing the touchscreens on its hardware with a motion-sensing system.
  • The company’s Soli Project venture wants to embed a tiny radar array into a quarter-sized chip that could go into smartphones, TVs, wearables, computers, vehicles, and even aircraft.
  • If the tests go well, it could open the door to a whole new level of interactivity.
  • The U.S. Federal Communications Commission granted the company permission to operate its sensors at a higher power than was previously permitted.
  • This allows Google to begin testing these new radar-enabled motion sensors in real-time and at longer range.
  • Eventually users will be able to use a wide range of motions to interact with their devices, as opposed to simply pressing buttons on a screen.
  • The possibilities are endless: Picture raising the volume of your Google Home by simply rubbing your fingers together, for example, or switching through videos on their Chromecast with a snap.
  • Google’s Wear OS smartwatches already come with a gesture control feature. However, in part because of the FCC-imposed limits on radar tech, these devices suffered from accuracy issues and were limited to few basic gestures.
  • The agency has allowed Google to up their radar strength to a level that would enable better functionality, while not disturbing existing tech.
  • The Soli chip incorporates the entire sensor and antenna array into an ultra-compact 8mm x 10mm package.

Consumers Say No to High Priced iPhones.

  • iPhone sales will fall $5 billion short of expectations. This should not be a surprise.
  • For the past couple of years, Apple has propped up its revenue by charging high prices for the iPhone, more than a $1,000 for a phone that is only slightly better than the one users already had.
  • It was only a matter of time before people said “no more.” And when they did, they said it in Chinese.
  • China is Apple’s third-biggest market, after the United States and Europe. But it is facing a sluggish economy, aggravated by a trade war with the United States.
  • At the same time, the country’s own smartphone makers, like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, make excellent phones and charge half the price of an iPhone.
  • Apple admitted that even in “developed markets, iPhone upgrades also were not as strong as we thought they would be.
  • The iPhone is two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, so the company must change its ways.
    • First, Apple will offer new incentives to trade in old phones. It sounds like a continuation of last year’s unusually aggressive trade-in program, the desperation move that alerted Apple-watchers that there really was trouble in paradise.
    • The used phones get refurbished and resold, often to people who’ve never owned an iPhone before.
  • The next big thing in smartphones will probably be 5G, the superfast wireless technology that’s just starting to be deployed in a few cities in the United States and abroad. Apple has said it does not expect to sell a 5G iPhone until 2020, which makes sense, because it will probably take at least that long before 5G is widely available.
  • But other phone makers, including Samsung and Huawei, plan to offer 5G phones this year. So 5G alone won’t give Apple much of an edge.
  • Augmented reality may be Apples next play. That’s the technology that lets you see digital images overlaid on the real world. Apple has been making major investments in it.
  • Existing AR glasses are far too heavy and bulky because of all the computing horsepower needed to make them work. Enter 5G. It moves data so fast that remote computers in the cloud could do the hard work. Then the network could relay augmented reality images to a sleek and comfortable pair of glasses with the Apple logo etched into the frame.

Face Recognition Tested on Christmas Shoppers in UK

  • Facial recognition technology continues to be trailed by police forces in the UK despite warnings of high error rates.
  • In the latest test, the technology is being used to scan the faces of Christmas shoppers in London, with police hoping to spot wanted criminals.
  • It’s the seventh time the Metropolitan Police, the UK capital’s police force, has tested facial recognition in public.
  • The technology has previously been used at large events, including Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017, and Remembrance Day services last year.
  • This year, the technology is being used Monday and Tuesday of this week in Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square.
  • Cameras are fixed to lampposts or deployed on vans, and use software developed by Japanese firm NEC to measure the structure of passing faces.
  • This scan is then compared to a database of police mugshots.
  • The Met says a match via the software will prompt officers to examine the individual and decide whether or not to stop them.
  • The Met has also had to defend the high error rate of its technology.
  • According to data released under the UK’s Freedom of Information laws, 98 percent of “matches” made by the Met using facial recognition were mistakes.

Swarms of tiny satellites could act like one giant space telescope

  • Ben-Gurion University in Israel proposed create synthetic aperture systems in space.
  • It’s a technique where a single small camera moves across a space, capturing images as it goes, and by very careful analysis of the data it collects, it can produce imagery like that created by a much larger camera — essentially synthesizing a bigger aperture.
  • In a paper published in Optica, the team proposed that two satellites move in synchrony around the edge of a circle, collecting data as they go and beaming it to a third stationary one; this circle describes the synthetic aperture the two cameras are creating.
  • Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, they managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems.”
  • They were basically able to get the results of a camera 50 times the size. That would be impressive anywhere, but up in space it’s especially important.
  • If you could instead use a handful of satellites working together, and just replace one if it fails, that really reduces the cost of launching a large space telescope.
  • One of the challenges of space telescopes, however, is that they need to take measurements with extreme precision. And keeping a satellite perfectly still is hard.
  • Right now many satellites use reliable fixed sources of light, like bright stars, as reference points when calculating various things relating to their operations.
  • MIT researchers think they have found a more permanent, high-precision solution: a “guide star” satellite that would sit thousands of miles out and train a strong laser on the Earth and its orbital region.
  • This light source would be reliable, steady and highly visible; satellites could use it to calculate their position.
  • IT could be that in a few years, swarms of satellites will be sent into space to create a massive synthetic telescope looking out on the universe.

Amazons Go Stores could be a $4 billion Business by 2021

  • Amazon’s new cashless, cashierless stores, which allow customers to grab items off shelves and automatically get charged upon exiting, bring in about 50 percent more revenue on average than typical convenience stores.
  • Using their own purchases at Go stores as data points, Amazon analysts estimated that the typical order size at the new shops is around $10. The analysts also counted the number of visitors to an Amazon Go — an average of 550 a day — which would mean the average Go store generates an estimated $1.5 million in revenue a year excluding days when current Amazon Go stores are closed.
  • Amazon has considered a plan to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, meaning the shops could generate in the ballpark of $4.5 billion in sales a year.
  • Amazon opened its first Amazon Go store in Seattle early last year, and has added eight more locations since then, all in either Seattle, San Francisco, or Chicago.
  • Amazon Go stores need more initial investment than normal convenience stores, with the first Go location requiring more than $1 million in hardware alone.
  • Amazon would need to spend as much as $3 billion to roll out 3,000 stores.

More than 1 Billion Account Compromised in 2018

  • Altogether, more than 1 billion people had their data compromised in 2018
  • From credit card skimming to technology bugs to massive outright hacks, 2018 was one of if not the worst year on record in terms of data breaches that hit companies and hurt consumers around the world.
  • According to NordVPN digital privacy expert Daniel Markuson, when you tally up all of the most significant and worst data breaches of the year, the result you arrive at is the stunning fact that we learned more than 1 billion peoples’ data was potentially compromised at some point in 2018.
  • Unfortunately, we have little to no control over when the next company will be hacked, but we can take a few precautionary steps to protect our data.”
  • Those steps include providing companies with only the absolute minimum information they need about you. The less data they have about you, the less that can be stolen. Change your passwords. Also, use strong and unique passwords, and think twice before posting information on social media that can be used against you.
  • Here is a partial list of the data breaches and compromises from 2018
    • British Airways — 380,000 accounts
    • Google+ — 500,000 accounts
    • Tickey Fly (owned by Eventbrite) — 27 million accounts
    • Uber — 57 million users
    • Facebook — 147 million accounts
    • MyHeritage — 92 million users
    • Quora — 100 million users
    • Firebase — 100 million users
    • My Fitness Pal — 150 million users
    • Twitter — 330 million users
    • Marriott — 383 million users