Software tracks everything you do on a smart phone – yet another reason to be attentive to privacy issues

Software from an outfit called Carrier IQ seems to be available for all the smartphones, if it is not already loaded on all of them.  Their software can track everything you do, down to monitoring key strokes and web sites visited.

So what?  Think passwords to bank accounts, apps used, all data searches performed and what results were viewed.

Remember the discussion on your phone tracking your location every moment?  This goes beyond location tracking.


15 tips for QuickBooks

A Quick Guide to QuickBooks from the December Journal of Accountancy provides 15 great tips for more efficient and effective use of QuickBooks.  Check it out for ideas you haven’t seen before.

A few highlights of interest to small NPOs:

Memorized transactions – you can memorize recurring transactions, such as the rent or copier payment and have them posted automatically on a chosen day.


Pendulum swings in how we use computers

The swinging of a pendulum is a great word picture for describing change.   Especially helps for explaining shifts in computing power.  The pendulum swung from dumb terminals to personal computers and now to ‘the cloud’.

I mention this in a post at my other blog, Outrun ChangeThe computing pendulum has swung back to dumb terminals and service bureaus – will it swing back?

There I discuss and link to a post by John Bredehoft.

By the way, my ponderings about the change taking place around us are posted on the other blog.  That leaves this blog focused on nonprofit issues.

Online security primer from Facebook

(cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

Facebook has posted a really good guide to online security:  Own Your Space – A Guide to Facebook Security

It is focused on Facebook, of course. It also has a lot of good stuff, such as general discussion of how to recognize a scam as a scam.  Good ideas on general defensiveness when online. 

Would be good for your staff to read it.  (more…)

Teen’s purchasing power from working for the summer in 1952 and 2011

What could a teenager working minimum wage 60 years ago buy with his summer earnings compared to now?

Mark Perry has a calculation at his blog Carpe Diem: Young Americans: Luckiest Generation in History:

Here is the short version:

1952 after working for the summer, a teen could buy:

  • Typewriter
  • Phonograph
  • 17” TV

2011, after working the summer, a teen could buy the functionally equivalent items as 1952:

  • Laptop & printer (if you can call that comparable to a typewriter)
  • Ipod,
  • 32” HDTV, blue-ray player, home theater system (just a tad bit more than a 17” TV, but still comparable functionality, sort of)

Plus in 2011 our hypothetical teen still would have enough money left over at the end of the summer to buy some bonus stuff on top of matching types of things from 1952: (more…)

A field trip from August 2011 to August 1981 and back

John Bredehoft has a creative two-part post comparing technology in 2011 and 1981. Focus is on the change in portability – the ease of getting news anywhere and being able to reach someone anywhere.

What if modern portability existed, or didn’t exist, 30 years ago?

More on changes in portability

Communication then:


Time to start putting some expectations in place for staff using social media?

Whether you serve in a church or ministry, having your staff use social ministry to communicate is a very good thing. The social media tools available today are easy, cheap, effective, and far-reaching. It is fascinating to think how easy it is to communicate with your audience.

Just like everything else in life, there is a downside.

Your Church Blog points out a few things we should be careful of:


I can’t think of a better time to be alive. Or, is the middle class better off today than in 1975?

Don Boudreaux has a fantastic PowerPoint presentation posted at Café Hayek:  Stagnating Middle-Class? It is from a presentation he gave at Cato University.

He opened up a 1974/1975 Sears catalogue. He then calculated how many hours a person would have to work to buy something in 1975 compared to buying a similar item today.

To make the comparison he obtained the hourly wage of an average non-supervisory employee in 1975 and the same average wage today. Those average wages are $4.87 in 1975 and $19.00 today.

For example, in 1975, a 35mm SLR camera, pretty nice for back then, was $347. That is 71.3 hours work for an average worker. In contrast, a Nikon Coolpix 12.0 mp camera today is 4.8 hours of labor.


Radical cost reductions in technology – illustration from external hard drives

Storage costs are about zero.

Got to thinking about the cost of storing data on external hard drives. Did a few calculations to look at the radical change in costs over the last few years. Used my actual purchases and listings today at Amazon. Wow.

Here are the costs per gigabyte of storage for the newer portable hard drive (2 of ‘em are about the size of a paperback book) and for the larger externally powered ones (more the size of a thick hardback): (more…)

Cheapeners make life really fantastic for all of us – the radical cost reductions in technology

It isn’t the initial idea of a technology that makes life so fantastic for all of us. It is the next round of people who figure out how to make it ridiculously cheap that lets everyone enjoy the really cool inventions. So explains Matt Ridley, of the Wall Street Journal, in Three Cheers for the Cheapeners and Cost-Cutters.

 “A feature of innovation is that the greatest impact of a new idea comes not when the light bulb goes on over the geek’s head, but when the resulting technology eventually becomes cheap enough for many people to use—perhaps decades later.

This is the driver behind the tremendous productivity gains in the last few centuries.


Did you know your camera probably records its serial number in photos?

That’s news to me. Seems the bad privacy news just keeps falling out of the trees. Perhaps it is because I’ve been attentive to such issues lately.

My repeated point:  We need to understand the technology so we can respond intelligently.

Today’s news from Bruce Schneier is on a web site that offers to help you find your stolen camera by telling them your serial number and they will look to find where on the ‘net photos from that camera have been posted. See his post Stolen Camera Finder.



Upping the ante on smart phones tracking your location

So bad things could possibly happen if someone gains access to the tracking data on your phone. How could someone get access to the file where that data is stored?

I attended the Christian Leadership Alliance conference in Dallas last week. Learned lots of new stuff and had fun visiting with lots of colleagues. Picked up info on location tracking that I wanted to mention.  Steve Hewitt of Christian Computing Magazine provided some information, which I will so identify.

Here are a few ways to get access to the location tracking data: