Problems with Neat Receipts Cloud Scanning Software

After 14 years of building a very dedicated customer base and the world’s most successful and popular scanning platform, Neat has decided to scrap everything and start over with a new scanning solution. So far, reviews have been less than enthusiastic. Top company leadership are leaving and many employees are being laid off. (source)

This document lists some of the design problems with their new product as it relates to Apple users. This document will be updated over time with any new developments or discoveries.

  1. Apple Version Not Native. Rather than create an actual OS X application, the Apple version seems to have been developed on a non-standard emulator platform similar Adobe Air in the way it looks and feels. To find the program, you’ll look for it in Applications under the letter ‘N’ for Neat, but you won’t find it there. It’s in a folder named The Neat Company. To find it, look in The Neat Company > Neat Smart Organization System > Helium-shell > HeliumAppShell > and there you’ll find the familiar Neat program icon. This is where you’ll have to go if you need to drag the program icon to the Dock again, but don’t touch any of the other exposed program files because the entire fragile system will break down if you do.
  2. Columns Not Adjustable. The new program is broken into three primary columns. The left column shows the folders. The middle column shows the folder contents or the specifics of a particular entry. The right column is a preview window. These columns aren’t sizable or adjustable.
  3. Database Change. The database files are individually stored as PDF files in Documents > NeatScan > your name. Presumably if you mess with any of these files, the database index will be thrown off.
  4. Drag and Drop. In the previous versions of the Neat scanning software, it was possible to drag PDF files into the program and have them added, being scanned for OCR. In the new version, you must manually add files from the file menu.
  5. Item Type. When you change the item type from Document to Receipt (for example) the software goes through the ‘Processing’ step again.
  6. Slowness. To adequately test the speed of the Neat cloud-based scanning software, use a 100Mbps Internet connection, and a quad-core computer with 8 virtual cores, running on a solid state hard drive. When you test with this blazing fast computer, you’ll notice the system is slow to load receipt images — even with a database of only a dozen receipts.
  7. Zoom Issues. When you try to zoom in on a receipt using two finger zoom, the viewer zooms too fast.

System Crashes: New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines, and Wall Street Journal

With the past few days, there have been multiple coordinated attacks on our national technology infrastructure. According to a report by the Washington Post, “FBI officials believe the attacks required expertise.”

report in USA Today states: “Repeated and successful attacks on fiber-optic cables in California have security experts warning the Internet’s physical infrastructure is ‘basically unsecured’ and vulnerable to both casual and determined attackers.”

The map below, provided by 9 News, shows numerous Comcast outages across the nation.


Here’s a video that describes the outages:


Today, New York Stock Exchange was taken offline, the Wall Street Journal website was taken down, and United Airlines was shut down with flights grounded from coast to coast.

One would hope that it took a sophisticated army of cyber criminals to bring down United Airlines. Yet, United Airlines claims that the nation-wide outage was due to a router failure. If we are to believe them, it’s more troubling is to think that a single point of failure, of a single component, caused a major airline to shut down.

If our infrastructure is so shoddy and fragile that it fails without any human intervention, what would happen if people tried to take it down?

The same can be said for the New York Stock Exchange and the Wall Street Journal website. It would be more comforting to know that those outages were part of a coordinated attack.

Further Reading

Here’s What You Can Do To Help

Given the rise in high-profile attacks, it would be wise for everyone to increase their own security efforts for personal and business computing.

You may think that you’re a much less important target for hackers than an air traffic controller, bank president, or nuclear power plant worker. However, any hacked account or computer is typically only a few relationships removed from a high level target. It’s estimated that we’re all about six degrees of separation from anyone else. Which means that every target is equally important to a hacker. Additionally, hackers work on building aggregate networks of hijacked computers for launching attacks on critical infrastructure.

Here are some resources for proactive security measures you can take:

  • Account Security. Be sure your accounts are setup with complex passwords and two-step authentication. Read our document on Email Safety and Online Account Security.
  • Data Redundancy. Make sure your critical data is in three places: local hard drive, backup hard drive, and cloud storage. Make sure you have a regular backup plan and don’t leave your backup drives connected to any computer since new viruses attack files on all attached drives. Be sure to have more than just a backup of your current files. Keep backup of your file versions in the event that current files become corrupted and then overwrite your only backup.
  • Computer Security. Use a high quality paid subscription antivirus and security program such as Bitdefender or Kaspersky.
  • Credit Card Security. A debit card that pulls directly from your bank account, can leave you with no money in the bank if it’s stolen. That can result in bounced checks and other fees. However a credit card creates a firewall between you and thieves. If your card is stolen, you can report it and have it cancelled.
    • Consider having several credit cards so you can use one for online transactions and higher risk purchasing while traveling. Use one for regular monthly bills. It’s less likely to get stolen if it’s only used for a few recurring monthly bills. That way, if a more exposed travel/high-risk card is stolen. You simply need to cancel it, but won’t need to contact a dozen merchants to provide them with a new number.
    • For an extra measure of security, consider purchasing no-fee American Express Prepaid Reloadable credit card for online purchases. In this way, you won’t need to give out your primary credit card numbers. You can use these cards for one time payments, or refill them for ongoing use.
  • Email Security. Follow best practices with regard to email security. Read our document on Email Safety and Online Account Security.
  • Financial Security. Use a service like Equifax to monitor your credit activity.
  • Identity Security. Use a service like LifeLock to secure your personal identity.
  • Password Safety. Consider using a password manager like 1Password that uses local encrypted storage of your password list. Do not store this in the cloud and do not synchronize through the Internet. Synchronize through your local network only. Maintain a copy of your passwords on your computer and also on a mobile device with biometric security (fingerprint reader). Alternatively, you can write your passwords and account information on paper and store them in a fireproof and waterproof safe. Using a multi-function home copier, you could make a backup copy and leave it in a safe place.
  • Redundancy. Maintain a second computer with a backup of your essential files and contacts. Have it configured to function for printing, network, email, and other functions in the event that your primary computer goes down. Create a non-computer-reliant system for your daily tasks. In other words, for all the tasks you rely on your smartphone or computer, figure out a pen and paper solution.
  • Social Media Security. Be vigilant when using social media. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t really know. It would mislead your friends into accepting a friend request from a person they think you know and approve of.

Get Your Free Upgrade to Microsoft #Windows10


Windows 10 is scheduled to be released on 29 July 2015. In the past, major upgrades of Windows were complicated to choose from and expensive to purchase. Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft is making it easier to upgrade.

Windows 10 Upgrade Icon

Microsoft has begun placing a Windows 10 upgrade icon in the task bar system tray of Windows 7 computers. You can see it in the image below on the left.


When this icon appears on your computer it means that you qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 10, which will be pushed out as an update later this summer.

Reserving Windows 10

To reserve your copy of Windows 10, click the icon and follow the instructions as shown in these screen shots. Click an image for a larger gallery view.

Confirmation Email

Once you’ve completed the reservation process, you’ll receive a confirmation email.

Congratulations on reserving Windows 10

Your free upgrade will be available from July 29th, and now that you’ve reserved it, you won’t miss a minute of Windows 10 helping you do great things.

Because you’ve reserved, Windows will automatically take care of the download in advance. Then you’ll get a notification when your upgrade is ready to install. That way you can start using Windows 10 immediately – or schedule a time to install that’s convenient for you. If you have any more questions, check out the upgrade FAQ.

What’s in the “Get Windows 10” app?

You’ve just reserved your free upgrade using the “Get Windows 10” app. You can also use the app to confirm the reservation, check to see if your device is compatible with Windows 10, and un-reserve if you wish to cancel your reservation prior to your Windows 10 upgrade. If you want to return to the app, just click the Windows logo in the taskbar.

Windows 10 is full of great features

In addition to features you may have heard about such as Cortana* and Microsoft Edge, our new web browser, Windows 10 contains lots of other exciting tools to help you do great things. [More…]

Windows is for people who do

Windows is about helping people do great things, so we created a series of videos to show the innovative ways individuals use Windows to realize their potential. These include Mikaila, a young girl working to save the bees, and Kyle, who creates motion capture animations. Doing is part of their DNA, and Windows gives them the tools they need to follow their passion.

More ways to keep up with Windows 10

Want to get periodic emails about Windows 10? If you checked the box to receive emails when you reserved your free upgrade, you’re already signed up. If not, sign up here. You can also keep up with all things Windows 10 on our Social channels, as well as the Windows Blog.

Legal Disclaimer

Here’s the humorous legal disclaimer at the end of the confirmation email:

Our lawyers made us say this: Windows 10 Upgrade Offer is valid for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices, including devices you already own. Some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device and market. The availability of Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices may vary by OEM, mobile operator or carrier. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer. To check for compatibility and other important installation information, visit your device manufacturer’s website and the Windows 10 Specifications page. Additional requirements may apply over time for updates. Security and features are kept automatically up-to-date which is always enabled.

Windows 10 Video Highlights Reel

Here’s a quick overview of Windows 10.


Windows 10 Preview with Joe Belfiore

This preview video with Joe Belfiore covers more features of Windows 10.


Consumers Pay the Cost of Frivolous Apple Lawsuits

Sophisticated intellectual property and patented technologies sometimes take many years and many hours to develop. Companies that take the risk and make the investment required to develop new innovations should be rewarded and have the opportunity to recuperate their costs and enjoy the profits of hard work and innovation.

Unfortunately, there are some ‘companies’ spending more time engaging in frivolous lawsuits than they spend on development of innovation.

Recently one company has tried to take Apple, Google, Samsung, and HTC to court over what they claim is patent infringement.

When a technology is so widely used that it’s incorporated in the devices of multiple manufacturers, one must wonder how unique that technology is.

Part of the problem is with the original patents being too vaguely worded, broadly defined, or allowing patents to be issued for relatively common sense, generic, and obvious designs. These things create a context for conflict.

Based on these poorly conceived patents, companies are now trying to take advantage of the patent system and court system.

A spokesperson from Apple described one of their recent court battles this way:

“[The company that is suing us] makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.”

This is, of course, only one side of the story, but if true, it illustrates the wide-spread problem we’re seeing repeatedly today.

The company suing Apple for $533 million is self described on their website as “an innovative technology development and licensing corporation that owns an expanding portfolio of foundational patents….” This description sounds more like an organization established as a patent broker.

Surprisingly, this company that is suing Apple for $533 million has only a simple five page template website using stock photos that was copyrighted back in 2013.

Ultimately consumers pay the cost of all these lawsuits, and as with war, there often are no winners, only losers, as all the expense, stress, and effort doesn’t go toward creating solutions for a better world, but instead only drains our valuable scarce resources.