Who says we can’t mix electricity and water? Dangerous… sure. But, hey, why not? Microsoft is currently testing an underwater data center and it’s kind of genius. It’s in the “why didn’t I think of that” category. Dubbed Project Natick, this cutting-edge innovation is vying to create an out-of-the-box subsea datacenter that can get dropped […]
The 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (aka: “DBIR”) is out and it isn’t pretty. Where to start…? Maybe by saying that 2015 heralded over 100,000 information security incidents — including 3,141 data breaches. If those numbers are not staggering enough, it’s more unnerving to realize this is the first time I have heard about […]
A couple weeks ago, Megan said, “It's Time for Accountants to Ditch Dual Monitors” which I read on one of my three screens. While I appreciated the GC wrath being directed at someone else for a change, the conversation missed the bigger picture.
It's time once again for our monthly yakfest, #WhatsNext, a co-production of Going Concern and Thriveal. Today we're talking about return-free filing, something that's been in the news lately, but an issue we've covered on here for quite some time and has been a topic of debate for a decade or more. As always, I'll […]
You’re probably familiar with Uber by now, unless you live under a rock, or live in the 25% of the country not yet covered by it.
News flash: Artificial intelligence (AI) and other cognitive technologies are eliminating jobs left and right. Bloomberg reports as many as 5 million jobs by 2020. Oh, calamity. Should auditors be worried? The short answer is no…don’t lose sleep over it. Why? First off, cognitive technologies (even super cool advanced ones) are best with structured tasks […]
Here’s what my first day at a client would typically look like (circa 2012): 1. Carefully navigate through a new parking structure to avoid bumping expensive cars.2. Park.3. Obtain a security badge with an unflattering photo from the front desk.4. Return to car to collect my obnoxiously large (not technically portable) external monitor.5. Saunter into […]
Look, I admit that I’ve been out of the game for awhile, so forgive me if I sound, um, supercilious, but are paper tax organizers still a thing?
Rumor has it that the AICPA is finally integrating Microsoft Excel into the CPA exam starting in 2018. I’ll admit my initial reaction is “it’s about time” since the generic spreadsheet I used was archaic. Apparently, almost 70% of the CPAs surveyed by the AICPA agreed. Go figure — we are all Excel-aholics who can’t get through the day without busting out a spreadsheet.
Five years ago, hipster accountants were all over the cloud. We were working on clients’ books from coffee shops and Xero was this sketchy startup from New Zealand that no one had heard of. There were meetups and secret forums filled with the cloud elitists and, almost everyone in the scene had beards (except me, […]
Discussing cyber extortion got the wheels turning about trust and reliance on our increasingly distributed IT ecosystems. Outsourcing IT functionality causes certain IT controls to be a fleeting afterthought for the user entity — the service provider will handle it, right? Well, maybe not. That’s where a Service Organization Controls (SOC) report comes in handy. […]
To capture the spirit of St. Patty’s day, let’s discuss a cunning technique that nefarious leprechauns use to steal your pot of gold: cyber extortion. Boiled down, cyber extortion is an age-old blackmail scheme with a digital twist. It starts with an unlucky target, such as a database housing sensitive information. A leprechaun (read: hacker) […]
Don’t let the #productivityhack hype lure you in! It’s busy season and bloggers and app developers are just waiting to entice tired accountants with their claims to speed up your efficiency and change your life. I am convinced our obsession with productivity is simply a ruse for procrastination. Every time I add a “game-changing” new […]
As a technology obsessed society we're drowning in a sea of passwords. Remember when your locker combo was all you had to memorize? Now I have over 100 different passwords. It’s ridiculous. The problem is no one can possibly remember that many passwords. So what do we do as lazy tech connoisseurs? We simply use […]
Let’s face it. Cloud computing is so 6 years ago. We agree it’s a technology trope that has to go. And yet, accounting software executives are still enamored with everything cloud. Enough already, right!? Unfortunately, the accounting profession’s captivation with cloud is not merely lip service. In 2014, QuickBooks Online generated more than $800 in […]
In honor of throwback Thursday let me take you on a journey down memory lane to reminisce about Office Space, a light hearted and irreverent comedy starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston. Spoiler alert! (Actually, if you haven’t seen the movie during the last 17 years I don’t feel bad.) Peter, played by Ron Livingston, […]
I woke up in shock on my first day of freedom after leaving my Big 4 job. I leaned toward my nightstand to check the time on my iPhone. Wait, what?! My phone had been wiped. Panic set in first. When did I last back it up?
Ed. note: Today we debut a new contributor to Going Concern. Megan Lewczyk, CPA (pronounced left without the “t” and "chick" like a baby bird) is a Big 4 alumna who decided to venture off the beaten path early in her career. She owns a consulting firm, is an adjunct accounting instructor for a couple […]
Over at the AICPA's website, there's a post that makes the case for accounting students to learn how to code. It's hard to disagree with the premise — coding is a valuable skill — but there are several aspects to this topic that go unmentioned, that I'll try to cover here. First and foremost, anyone […]
You people make me sad. Seriously, anyone who isn't using Alt+Tab constantly needs to examine their lives. Shocking stat from a Windows 10 briefing at Microsoft today: Only 6% of Windows users know about Alt+Tab to switch apps. — David Pogue (@Pogue) July 16, 2015 If I hear of any one of you using the […]
A Deloitte survey of financial executives, financial statement users and audit committee members found that an overwhelming majority — 84%, 70% and 76% respectively — of these people, "believe auditors should use advanced technologies more extensively in performing an audit." Apparently, 21st century auditing is still a few years off. [WSJ] Image: Gnangarra/WIkimedia Commons
Last week I read Caleb's post about the murky future of the accounting profession, and I reached out to him immediately. You see, I am in the business of predicting the future of the accounting profession. Or at least that’s what my LinkedIn says, it makes it easier to explain what an accounting futurist actually does.
Today, Harshman Phillips & Company announced that it is acquiring Cloudsourced Accounting, a firm that provides "cloud integration and online bookkeeping services" to small businesses. Blake Oliver, one of the co-founders of Cloudsourced, is unique in the respect that he is not a CPA. You may remember a post from back in January where this […]
I wrote this yesterday and didn't publish it. Go figure. Anyway, VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program, hitting the market in 1979. It was developed by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, originally running on the Apple II and was consider its "killer app." In a 1980 review, BYTE stated: "The most exciting and influential piece […]
Today in this isn't news news. You may not know it but having two screens is super boss — Life at Deloitte AU (@AuDeloittian) February 26, 2015 This is Life at Deloitte Down Under, which may explain why he's under the assumption that we haven't already beaten this topic to death.
Let’s assume that you’ve bought into the quantified-self craze. Your wearable technology measures every breath you take and every move you make, so now it's time for new frontiers, as in something other than the fast food drive-thru lane. It’s always easiest to start with low-hanging fruit, such as your co-workers. Body Mass Index is […]
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. There may just be instances where nothing else will do in a set of audit work papers than a steaming brown pile of excrement. This is easy to add in the mobile versions of Excel, but you can also add emoji in the desktop […]
As some of you know, I'm at Thomson Reuters SYNERGY this week, which is basically a 1,300 person party for Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite users. I'll spare you the gory details of product demos and cheerful salespeople in bright orange shirts but I did want to share the big news out of this year's […]
Rejoice, PwCers, you all are joining the late 20th century!
The Internet’s viral sensation of August 2014 was an off-menu Arby’s sandwich known as the “Meat Mountain." For the low, low price of $10 you can get a stack of eight meats and two cheeses. I think even PETA has been too shocked to respond. And what exactly does this have to do with Microsoft […]
You guys have been asking us for an app for a long time, and trust us, we've been asking The Powers That Be for the same thing. Unfortunately, our favorite in-house developer who performs miracles for all of us on a daily basis doesn't have the ability to make one at the moment. What he […]
Are you ready to pull the plug on your current gig, but feel intimidated by that blinking cursor at the top left-hand corner of a Word document? Microsoft Word has you covered with an array of prewritten letters of resignation. Yes, we here at Going Concern are always here to serve you. Microsoft has you […]
PwC learned me a new phrase today: digital spaghetti! dig•it•al spa•ghet•ti– the art of creating new words that describe something technical to educate your friends and co-workers; helpful when playing buzzword bingo in your next emerging technology discussion. Digital spaghetti terms share a characteristic of being relatively new and lack a universally agreed upon definition. […]
If you’re like most Excel users, you’re likely self-taught. Nothing wrong with that, I got here in the same fashion. However, from my perspective many users learn enough about Excel to wield it as a hammer when often more nuanced approaches are more appropriate. In this article I’ll give you several ways that you can […]
It seems you can crowdfund just about anything these days, from payment of your medical bills to oddly-named children's books about pit bulls. It's entirely unclear why Zack "guy who will be making the potato salad" Brown turned to Kickstarter to make a $10 potato salad, nor why he thought it would run a mere […]
Ed. note: this is third in an ongoing series to help you make the most out of Excel setting-by-setting. If you have a specific Excel demon to slay, you can get in touch for our resident white knight and Excel-slayer David Ringstrom to help you out. If you’ve implemented the changes that I’ve recommended in […]
Ed. note: this is second in an ongoing series to help you make the most out of Excel setting-by-setting. If you have a specific Excel demon to slay, you can get in touch for our resident white knight and Excel-slayer David Ringstrom to help you out. In Part 1 of this series I noted […]
The latest CPA Trendlines survey — which is worth a glance if you're into mobile tech trends within the profession — reveals accountants favor iPhones to Android phones by two to one. More interesting, 10% of respondents say they use neither smartphones nor tablets at work. Yet half of respondents are billing at least 11 […]
I can't even with this. If the future includes walking around with an implant in my thigh (for what, exactly?) and all this crap strapped on me like I'm on house arrest in 1995, FORGET IT. The firms are really starting to hype this crap up, first with Deloitte shilling over at WSJ and now […]
Colin shared this in ANR this morning but I'm just going to leave this here to make sure you see it: David Ebersman did well as CFO of Genentech, regularly making more than $4 million per year at the biotech firm. But his next career move brought far greater riches. When Facebook was in the market […]
Perhaps you've heard the story of a troll young lady who calls herself a social media consultant caught between a punk and a hard place at a San Francisco bar with Google Glass on her face. Perhaps you read Jody Padar's story on Glass and accounting firms. Now we have a piece published on Deloitte's […]
When Excel for iPad finally arrived, my first impression was here we go, yet another 1.0 Microsoft product *insert eye roll here*. As you might expect, Excel for iPad only offers a small fraction of the functionality available in the desktop versions of Excel, but I realized it’s unfair to call it a 1.0 product. […]
We live in a world where everyone is trying to figure out what the hell big data means to them. But really, how much big data is there?
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of Excel functionality…the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat. The cyber-drama of spreadsheet competition…This is Going Concern’s Ultimate Excel Bracket!
¡Ay, caramba! Our field of 64 has funneled to the Final Four:
Keyboard Shortcuts: #2 Seed Ctrl-Z vs. Other Excel Features: #6 Seed Format Painter
Worksheet Functions: #10 Seed VLOOKUP vs. Data Analysis Tools: #12 Seed Filter
There’s only one more round before the final face off. Here’s how the strong have survived:
We've reached the home stretch of brackets season and we're about to crown four spreadsheet saviors in each of our Ultimate Excel bracket regions. By this point in the tournament you know these contenders well enough so we'll dispense with any further pleasantries. Plus, since we're talking about features of a computer program, there are […]
Oh, snap! #1 seed Pivot Tables is out! Here’s a rundown of the standings: Worksheet Function#10 VLOOKUP#13 LEFT Keyboard Shortcut#1 Ctrl-S#2 Ctrl-Z Data Analysis Tools#2 Table#12 Filter Other Features#6 Format Painter#8 Format Cells Don’t get too comfortable folks, only half of these contenders will advance to the Final […]
With a few subtle changes, you can ruin someone’s day. No, you’re not wasting company time, you’re testing your colleague’s Excel moxy. Feel free to charge prank time as “training” if necessary.
There’s no time to waste worrying about how the weepy fans of Text Box or MATCH/INDEX are feeling, there are 16 SWEET Excel contenders ready to battle it out to see who will move on to their respective regional championship match-ups.
This is relevant to you all because we all know how you feel about multiple monitors. You will recall, before we get into the debate, that dual monitors are critical for success even if you are working on the weekend poolside. PwC realized it could suck the life out of its grunts in half the […]
We had a nice mix of upsets, domination and disappointment (I'm looking at you, Goal Seek!) in the first round of the Ultimate Excel Bracket. If you're just getting acquainted with this spreadsheet battle royale, then check out the results in the Functions and Key Shortcuts and Data Analysis and Other Features regions to catch up. You can also read analysis from our resident Excel expert David Ringstrom.
Annnnnnddd we’re back with the second half of your winners from Round 1 of Going Concern March Madness: The Ultimate Excel Bracket. This time Data Analysis Tools and Other Excel Features duked it out amongst themselves, with these features advancing to the second round (see the first batch of winners here):
If you made a Big 4 drinking game and included the words Big Data, Cloud and Analytics, you’d be in the hospital before you logged your first eight chargeable hours of the week. These all started as leadership buzzwords, but in reality they’ve started to gain real traction, at least in my firm.
Ladieees and gentlemen (yes, we’re using those terms loosely), here are your winners from Round 1 of Going Concern March Madness: The Ultimate Excel Bracket. The games began when Worksheet Functions and Keyboard Shortcuts squared off within their respective regions: FUNCTIONS #1 MATCH/INDEX#2 IFERROR#3 SUBTOTAL#6 SUMIF#8 […]
Hello again, spreadsheet fanatics. Have you returned for Excel battle royale? Of course you have. If you're just getting caught up, be sure to go to our post from yesterday to vote in the Functions and Key Shortcuts regions.
Your firm may be able to stop you from streaming March Madness on company-owned devices or with company-owned bandwidth, but they can’t stop you from participating in Going Concern March Madness!
File this under: things you must know as a spreadsheet jockey and sports fan.
The future is scary sometimes. Even scarier, the prospect that you, dear accountants, are more likely to be replaced by machines than firefighters, editors, pilots, and dentists. In fact, the only humans more likely to be replaced by machines than you are telemarketers and I think we can all agree they should have been shipped off to the Island of Unwanted People a long time ago.
Jumping off Colin's Open Item earlier today about Tracker — a Chrome extension developed by a former EY employee that allows you to better understand what you spend your time doing — we came across a few browser extensions you all might find useful in this, the most non-joyful time of year where every minute […]
Our brother from another mother over at AccountingWEB, David Ringstrom is a CPA and Excel wizard. It's not too late to join him for his December 19th webinar "High Impact Excel," which is worth 1 CPE credit and ∞ Excel expertise. Today, David is kicking down wisdom on how to use strikethrough in Excel… you […]
Come on, people. It opened for Wilco in '94. Attention accountants everywhere: please stop talking about the cloud. #YesteryearsNews — Jason M. Blumer, CPA (@JasonMBlumer) November 19, 2013
So textbook rental company Chegg went public today. And here's sort of what happened… Chegg priced their IPO at $12.50 a share, which exceeded expectations. Here's what you really need to know though: Chegg said it earned $22.7 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, for the nine months that […]
An interesting piece from Accounting Today tells us that basically this guy says CPAs have to adapt or die: Accountants face irrelevance if they don't keep up with the continuing changes in technology, according to Jon Baron, managing director of Thomson Reuters' Professional Tax & Accounting. In his opening keynote at the company's 33rd Annual […]
I'm sure many of you consider yourselves more than mere spreadsheet jockeys, rather true spreadsheet artistes, manipulating one of Microsoft's finest products to satisfy your need for domination over data. And that's OK. But unless you have way too much time on your hands, you're never going to get to this level of Excel artistry. […]
Editor's note: Greg Kyte has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Blackberry 10 like Doomsday Preppers waiting for JC to knock on their door. Unlike the preppers, Greg didn't have to stockpile weapons or get into canning. No, he just needed a tent. Check out his journey on YouTube after reading this week's post. Believe it or […]
With our email addresses plastered all over this website, we get a ton of spam from "marketers" and "PR professionals" who try to pitch us topics completely unrelated to this website such as WHAT HAS MORE THAN 500,000 LED LIGHTS, A ROOM FULL OF REINDEER, AND A SANTA CLAUS JOLLY ENOUGH TO MAKE ADULTS BELIEVE […]
Human beings spend, on average, a third of their lifetime sleeping. They spend six total years eating, four years cleaning the house and a little over a year on the toilet. If only someone would do a study to determine how many years the average spreadsheet jockey spends with their nose buried in multiple Excel […]
We all know someone who's a little too resistant to technological advances in accounting and the accounting business. The partner who never uses email. The office manager who insists on going to the post office rather than printing postage off the web. KPMG. But even the fussiest Luddites have adapted to the various improvements […]
This just in from a tipster (confirming a Tweet that was pointed out to us) inside the newly reconciled laugh factory known as McGladrey: All McGladrey employees are getting a 3G iPad January 3rd. We found out in a big conference about our rebranding and RSM buyout. It's still technically "company owned" so it's probably […]
That’s a serious question.
I’ve been to events with lots of accountants huddled up in a room showing off their technology so I am not implying that CPAs don’t care about apps, I’m just wondering if anyone would download an app dedicated to a particular AICPA conference.
CrowdCompass released the AICPA Not-For-Profit Financial Executive Forum app on October 15th and as far as I can tell, no one cares about it.
The description reads as follows:
Between the slowed-down economy and a more stringent regulatory environment, the last few years have led to a “new normal.” Gaining lost momentum and getting back on track with smart new strategies and practical solutions are necessary for success.
This AICPA Not-for-Profit Financial Executive Forum is the solutions-based conference that features top experts and is designed specifically to address these issues and provide the answers for your financial, technical and structural operations. You’ll come away with valuable insights and tools to take back to your organization and implement immediately.
The 2011 NFP FEF (if that isn’t a mouthful…) sounds like a great time for anyone actually interested in non-profits (my unofficial research shows there are about 7 of you). Not-for-profit financial executive staff members, CEOs, CFOs/executive directors and directors of finance in NFP could probably learn a lot and enrich the very core of their work by hanging around at one of these forums. Hey, you can even check in on foursquare from the conference. But the Android app? I’m not sure I see the benefit there.
Does an app make navigating the conference any easier? You still have to remember the name of the person you met three hours ago who you’re being introduced to again and no app can help you with that. It’s not like there are several square miles of territory to navigate as you’re cruising the conference circuit, so is it necessary to have your exact position on the map? Maybe I’m just an old BlackBerry user who doesn’t get it.
Anyway, the conference is from October 27-28, 2011 at the Westin in my former hometown of San Francisco, CA so it isn’t too late for you to register and fly out there to the Land of Fruits and Nuts for some non-profity goodness.
If anyone actually downloads and uses this app, can you please get in touch with me? I’m curious to hear what you did with it. Sorry, that’s kind of lazy but the AICPA isn’t going to sell me the email list of anyone who buys the app so this is the best we’ve got.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
I was having a discussion with a colleague concerning the Excel skills in industry versus public accounting. We agreed that, generally speaking and based on surveys of class participants in our respective Excel CPE classes, industry users are more advanced than public accounting users. Within public accounting, regional firm users are more advanced than local and Big 4 users. Why is that?
We had one computer for about 150 professional staff when I started out in Big 8 public accounting oh so long ago. Back then we were the cutting edge in spreadsheet use. We were consulting with our clients on how to use Visicalc to increase productivity and reduce errors. So how did the Big 4 apparently slide to the bottom of the scale?
Theory number one holds that the Big 4 does all their training from within. They take someone who has perceived advanced skills, and use that person to teach everyone else what they know. The problem is that the in-house trainer may not know some of the advanced features in Excel that would be useful to the group. The trainer may only know slightly more than everyone else. My own experience with selling Excel to a Big 4 firm is that they feel it would be nice to know more about Excel, but it’s not imperative to the job. Rather it is better to focus CPE resources on IFRS or the latest tax code changes.
Theory number two says that associates in the Big 4 are focused in on their in-house proprietary audit software which doesn’t allow incorporating new ideas into the audit process like pivot tables or form control objects. Stick to the audit program because there is no room in the budget to experiment with Excel.
Now that I’m done ragging on the Excel skill level in the Big 4 remember I said at the beginning of the post “generally speaking” and I know there are excellent Excel users in the Big 4. I just haven’t met them yet.
If finicky expense-tracking is going to evolve with the times, there has to be a way to track every dime spent from anywhere and it appears Chase is making an effort toward that goal with its newest offering: Jot.
Jot will provide Ink from Chase customers a variety of mobile benefits, including the ability to:
— Receive text alerts within seconds of making a purchase with their Ink card;
— Immediately tag these purchases to custom categories on a mobile device or online;
— Enable employees to tag their business expenses;
— Immediately view all transactions on their account, including those of their employees, through their mobile device or online;
— Adjust employees’ card spending limits in real-time via a mobile device; and
— Create and download reports into accounting software, including QuickBooks(R) and Excel(R).
“Small business owners are innovative, passionate and hardworking, and Chase’s dedication to partnering with these business owners comes from the belief that this group of entrepreneurs is an integral part of the American economy,” said Richard Quigley, president of Ink from Chase. “Jot was designed with small business owners’ immediate financial needs top of mind. Jot will enhance the finance-savvy business practices of small business owners, allowing for additional time and an improved focus on the passion and sense of accomplishment they have for their businesses.”
Financially-savvy Ink customers who have an iPhone or Android phone can download Jot by visiting the Ink website. Once you’ve got it downloaded you and your employees’ spending will be reined in and you’ll be back agonizing over more important things in no time.
As we’ve mentioned, it’s the first week of the new (fiscal) year at Deloitte which means people are getting antsy and your new leaders are starting to get acclimated to their new titles, repsonsibilities and whatnot. One of the most important decisions that new global CEO Barry Salzberg will have to make is whether or not he jumps into the Twittersphere. His predecessor, Jim Quigley, has quit Twitter without getting all dramatic about it, saying, “My CEO tenure concludes today. Enjoyed trying Twitter. Thanks for following my updates. Stay connected w/ Deloitte @deloitte. Regards, Jim.”
So now that @DeloitteCEO is no longer in use, it seems to be a shame that the ol’ Salz decided to not to use it as a Twitty pulpit but we realize it’s not for everyone. However, being the charismatic mustachioed man that he is, I think he’d probably be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly. And if he needs some pointers, he can always consult Adrienne’s Twitter case studies.
My only advice is, don’t get too sensitive on us.
While we won’t all admit it, many of us are pretty lazy. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and given the right set of tools, lazy bastards like us can actually spend more time procrastinating and less time worrying about how to blow off whatever it is we’re trying to avoid.
When it comes to expenses, we can all use an easier way, lazy or not. Here are three apps that should help.
Evernote (free) MACPA CEO Tom Hood uses the Evernote iPhone app to snap a pic of his receipts, which he can then send directly to his office for safe-keeping and reimbursement. This means no stuffing random receipts into your pockets hoping they make it back to homebase. You can also use it as a sort of mobile Post-it note and scrapbook, capturing clips from newspaper articles, meeting notes and even business cards.
iXpenseIt This app ($4.99 in the Apple store) can help you track your own personal expenses as well as any you might incur for work. Voted one of the 50 Most Useful iPhone Apps by Laptop Magazine and a Best iPhone App by CNN Money.
ProOnGo Expense (free 30-day trial, pricing varies) goes a step further and even allows you to track your billable hours. It is compatible with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and even Windows Mobile. Using the GPS feature, you can track your mileage too. The receipt reader feature allows you to put all your receipts into a neat Excel sheet or QuickBooks file.
Just for clarity’s sake, we’re sure you’re aware of this but here are the IRS rules on business expenses for your records. File it!
There’s nothing quite as humiliating as a public fall from grace, especially when you’ve spent your entire net worth on infomercials and bad stripey highlights. For the tax crusader formerly known as The Tax Lady, going quietly into that dark night just wasn’t going to do.
As you can clearly see by her Twitter account, which we have screenshotted for eternal preservation just in case the State of California requires her to take it down, Roni Deutch made a last ditch effort on May 13th to spread word of her press conference last week to just about anyone who would listen. We don’t qualify an “@” as actually listening, but maybe it made her feel better to spam everyone from Consumerist (twice!) to a random “Redneck Zionist” with a link to her video.
Yes, Roni, we saw your video. And we laughed at it. Hard.
In a related note, this is not an endorsement but it appears that @IRSHelpOk is doing it right. Check out the many not-quite-specific-but-pretty-easy-to-figure-out digs at those who don’t obey the rules of their state bar association.
Recently, I’ve been getting suspicious emails purporting to be from a high-up in my company. I have faith in this person and therefore would assume if (s)he wanted to push hot webcam videos on me, (s)he’d have the decency to text me with the hott linkks instead of using poor grammar in work emails. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the same emails coming from – gasp! – my own email address. Now I knew it had to be a scam; surely I wouldn’t have to tell myself about some hot new webcam girrllss I’d discovered on an .ru domain, I’d have that shit deliciously bookmarked on my own machine.
Being incredibly careful with my logins, I knew I couldn’t have slipped up and gotten phished. Had I been hacked?
Whenever someone says “I got hacked!” I have to admit I always feel a bit of “blame the victim” is in order. After all, I find it a bit hard to swallow that some hardcore hackers in Russia are all that concerned with your personal Facebook page. To say “I’ve been hacked” implies that some outside source did some work to break through your rock solid security and gain entry, and makes no implication that the user themselves likely opened the door and let the “hacker” in, if unwittingly. More often than not, “I got hacked” means “I unknowingly gave up my password in a phishing scheme” or “I screwed up and clicked an unbelievable posting on Facebook that stole my login info because I never read the permissions I give third party apps.”
It’s been done a million times but for your sake, here are a few tips for staying safe out there in the big scary Internets.
Make sure your contact info is up to date. If an unscrupulous individual ever gains access to your Facebook account, you may be forced to lock it down, in which case you’ll need access to the email address you use to sign in to receive communications from Facebook to get your account back. Make sure you’re using an email you have access to, even if it’s one you don’t use often.
Diversify your passwords. It goes without saying that a good password is one that isn’t found in the dictionary but isn’t so difficult you have to keep it written on a sticky at your desk. Dennis Howlett recommends a LastPass account (via AccountingWEB UK) for harder to remember passwords if you must. Substitute numbers for letters (like “1” instead of “I” or “3” instead of “E”) and throw in some punctuation just to be safe.
If you aren’t sure, don’t click it. Spammers have gotten pretty smart since the days of the “ILOVEYOU” virus (which happens to turn 11 this week) and even the most technologically-adept can fall for their tricks. If you aren’t expecting an attachment, don’t open it. Common attachment scams include spoofed emails from UPS or USPS claiming to contain your tracking number or a package exception – while UPS may send you emails, they’d never send you a zip file (tracking numbers are always included in the body of any UPS communications sent on merchants’ behalf). Be wary!
And if you have been hacked, phished or otherwise compromised, delete any offending posts from your hijacked social media pages and issue an apology. You don’t have to beg for forgiveness, just let everyone know you got compromised and are sorry, it won’t happen again.
In my case, I just got spoofed, which isn’t really my fault at all. That’s where a nice email from the tech support department to the rest of the team comes in handy.
I know what you’re thinking, what blind person has an iPhone? We thought the same thing when we read this. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, at least 100,000 of them do. Regardless of the believability of that number, we all deserve the right to count our money.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has developed a free downloadable application (app) to assist the blind and visually impaired denominate US currency. The app is called EyeNote™. EyeNote™ is a mobile device app designed for Apple iPhone (3G, 3Gs, 4), and the 4th Generation iPod Touch and iPad2 platforms, and is available starting today through the Apple iTunes App Store.
EyeNote™ uses image recognition technology to determine a note’s denomination. The mobile device’s camera requires 51 percent of a note’s scanned image, front or back, to process. In a matter of seconds, EyeNote™ can provide an audible or vibrating response, and can denominate all Federal Reserve notes issued since 1996. Free downloads will be available whenever new US currency designs are introduced. Research indicates that more than 100,000 blind and visually impaired individuals currently own an Apple iPhone.
Wait a second, I know adults with perfect visual acuity that cannot work a touchscreen (I bet a lot of them work in your office), how on Earth would a blind person be able to do this?
If you’ve been accused of being fucking blind lately, you can give the free app a spin via iTunes. For the target audience, however, we have some concerns about the practical application and, more specifically, WTF the BEP was thinking.
Since IRS humor isn’t going to get us through the last few days of tax season, might as well turn to technology for some much-needed usefulness.
Let’s start with an app from the fine folks at the IRS themselves. IRS2Go lets you track the status of your refund and, if you’re of the tinfoil hat persuasion, may make you feel like you’re being watched by TPTB. Not using an iPhone? Try the Android version. To date, IRS2Go has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.
You knew it was inevitable that they’d come out with a tax app for iPad, which the TurboTax people have released just in time for April 18th. One small complaint from users is that the iPad version doesn’t let you log in to update or change current TurboTax info but other than that, this app allows you to prepare and e-file your taxes all without putting down your iPad. Make sure you deduct that $529 you spent on the thing while you’re at it.*
Also from TurboTax, SnapTax is a free app for iPhone and Android (what’s with the BlackBerry hate here?) that lets 1040EZ filers snap a pic of their W-2 to file. The application states it will do all the work for you and is free to try but $19.99 to file.
H&R Block’s free Tax Central app won’t do your taxes for you but it can help you find an H&R near you, estimate your tax bill and help you get together the documents you’ll need to file. It also features a nifty tax glossary in case you forget what AMT is. Tax nerds will enjoy the tax quiz!
Do you live in constant fear of both BPA-tainted receipts and an IRS audit? Stop filing your receipts away in a lead box and try TAX Organizer, which sorts your expenses and organizes your receipts on your device.
*Nothing on this site should be considered tax advice. If you’re really considering deducting your toys, please consult a tax professional.
CFOs admit that if technology is implemented correctly it can be pretty damn swell but over half of those surveyed said the biggest barrier to improving the finance department is “out of date and inflexible” IT systems. Also, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that these systems are also to blame for failing to reach objectives. Not good. How can we possibly solve this problem?
According to KPMG’s Steve Lis, “By adopting a unified approach to technology, CFOs and CIOs can transform their organizations to become more proactive, innovative and flexible.” That’s a pretty interesting thought but another possibility not addressed in KPMG’s press release was: spending money. I know, I know. Pretty crazy concept so it’s probably best to just keep things the way they are. [KPMG]
Since apparently accounting is still booming and jobs are everywhere according to CNN, chances are you might be considering walking away from your awesome 70-hour-a-week grudge work for the sweet life of private industry or maybe the lucrative pastures of healthcare. Either way, if you’re going to quit your job, you will probably want to keep your former employer as a reference. The best way to do that is to erase your digital footprint as neatly as possible, just in case a team of nerds will be scoping out your computer and any embarrassing data contained therein post-employment.
Let’s be real, just about everyone uses company PP&E for non-company things; email, Facebook and, if you’re at the SEC, porn. We won’t judge your daytime browsing habits, let’s just get into how to make them go away before your last day.
First, it’s best to start scrubbing your history before you actually let on that you are about to leave. Granted, if you’ve gotten fed up to the point of quitting, it’s likely that no one in your office even realizes how miserable you are and won’t notice when your cube is suddenly devoid of personal items. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to take some of these steps before management is aware you’re running away.
So, you’ve got your final resignation notice saved on your desktop and are ready to send it to your boss. What next?
Erase your web history In Firefox, go to Tools, then Options, and then choose “clear your recent history.” While you’re in there, hit the Security tab and uncheck “remember passwords for sites” which, really, you shouldn’t have turned on at work anyway. Not using Firefox? Here are instructions for deleting your history and cookies in Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Unsubscribe from any newsletters or subscriptions you’ve been getting at work Maybe your firm doesn’t care if you get the Going Concern newsletter but just to be safe, spend some time combing through your work email and unsubscribing from any non-work-related newsletters. This way you can transfer everything to your personal account if you still want to receive it and save yourself some embarrassment when the person your emails are forwarded to after you leave gets your daily Bestiality Hotties email.
Delete any personal files you have on your desktop This could be that annoying photo of you and your boyfriend on vacation, your resignation letter (including the ultra-vulgar first and second drafts) and/or any third-party programs you’ve added to your computer (either with or without management’s permission). You never know how thoroughly IT is going to check out your laptop, so assume they’ll be combing through it and don’t leave anything of yours carelessly lying around. This includes your music collection, no reason to give them free mp3s.
Avoid deleting too much It would be awfully suspicious if you tried to clear out most of your emails and let’s face it, there’s a copy stored on the server anyway if management cares that much. This is about cleaning up after yourself, not looking like a paranoid weirdo. Be diligent but not psychotic.
Empty the recycle bin All of the above are useless if you forget to clean the recycle bin when you’re done.
By crisis, we don’t mean 70 hour work-weeks and diversity training in the face of that A1 in your office who likes to wear short skirts and low-cut tops just to mess with you.
In the event of a catastrophic emergency like an earthquake, it’s good to know where your co-workers are if you’ve got to evacuate the building. Deloitte Australia has addressed the issue of safety and keeping tabs on the worker bees with Bamboo™, a Business Continuity Management (BCM) smart phone application (so far released for BlackBerry and iPhone only).
How does it work?
The BlackBerry application uses the device’s unique PIN (anyone addicted to BBM knows what that is) as well as voice, SMS and email to keep the team in communication in the event of an emergency. Emergency plans are readily available with Bamboo, eliminating the need to lug along a huge contingency binder stuffed with exit plans and instructions in a crisis situation.
Bamboo automatically logs all usage on each handset and when there is network access, sends these logs to the Bamboo server. The Bamboo Administrator is able to view all logs, from all users to understand its usage, retrace all steps taken and tailor training based on this usage. This data is also valuable in post-incident reviews and audits.
Don’t try to find it in the app store, Bamboo is an enterprise application and as such is deployed by the Company through enterprise application deployment, supported by the local Deloitte office.
Follow Deloitte’s Australian BCM team at @DeloitteBCM and stay tuned, they assure us they’re working to get the kids in America hooked up with their own BCM team.
Check it out in action below:
Asked about their current use of cloud-computing services, a majority of senior finance executives either have no plans to pursue it in the short term, or are doing so very tentatively. Nearly a third admit that they aren’t even sure what “cloud computing” really means. Yet, when asked how cloud computing might affect their company’s approach to IT longer term, almost half say they believe it will enable a significant restructuring of their entire IT strategy. [CFO]
Technology is a beautiful thing. It makes our lives easier, including work. It gives us supremacy over our late-to-adopt friends and colleagues who are still stuck with clunky old company laptops. And apparently it makes it easier to lug around several devices than just sit at our desk with one. Somehow this is more convenient, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Check out this revolutionary, wielding his iPad as a weapon in the war against April
With the 2011 tax season in full swing, accountants and CPAs are searching for ways to save time and service geographically separated clients. A popular solution, QuickBooks hosting, allows for CPAs to securely access QuickBooks and client data remotely from any computer, phone or tablet with an internet connection. Recently, NovelASPect’s client, Scott Sanders, CPA, took QuickBooks hosting to the next level. Scott added his tax software to his QuickBooks hosting account on a NovelASPect virtual server. Using the Citrix receiver, Scott can now access his tax software from anywhere with his iPad. He then paired his iPad with his iPhone via Bluetooth to use the iPhone as a mouse for the iPad.
“Accessing my tax software and QuickBooks via my iPad has been a tremendous time saver,” says Scott Sanders. “Clients can review and sign their tax documents at their location. I can then efile the return with the government and email a copy of the tax return immediately to the client. I also have access to client financial information in Quickbooks anytime / anywhere.”
Quick question: can’t a laptop do the same exact thing?
Remember last June when 114,000 iPad user accounts were exposed by rogue Internet security group Goatse Security? Not to mention the fact that the iPad is not only a target of hacktivists looking to prove a point but also thieves who would love to get their hands on that overpriced toy you insist on playing with on the subway.
Here’s the issue I see with on-the-run tax preparers MacGyvering their iPads to shoot the data off to the client and then to the government from just about anywhere: WiFi is not always secure. We assume Scott Sanders knows a thing or two about protecting sensitive data if he’s knowledgeable enough to figure out how to use his iPhone as a mouse for his iPad (and what’s wrong with using a laptop and a, oh I don’t know, mouse?) but I would not want my tax preparer sending me my 1040 to sign; he can barely wash his grungy white dress shirt separate from his red socks.
I’m all for convenience but there’s a point when the work required to make it safe for all involved parties becomes inconvenient.
Note from AG: this is the second in a series of tech-related posts which we are providing by popular demand. Please feel free to let us know what sort of content you’d like to see related to technology and gadgets specifically for accountants so we can make your lives easier. We aren’t mind-readers, so tell us what you want to see here and we’ll send our team of loser interns to fetch it. Double note, “AG blows” is not considered feedback.
How many of you use Gmail exclusively? I have two accounts; one for publishing JDA and ignoring Caleb’s constant Instant Pestering and the other to filter my JDA email and endless email subscriptions. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I woke up one morning to find everything gone and sympathize for anyone who knows what that kind of fear feels like after the Gmail fail that shocked us all earlier this month.
While the initial reports had around .29 percent of Gmail users affected by the bug (about 600,000 users), those estimates were quickly revised to .08 percent (about 150,000 users). And today, those numbers were further revised to .02 percent. This means that only around 40,000 of Gmail’s 200 million (or so) users were affected.
Now, 40,000 pissed off people is still 40,000 pissed off people. But there was even better news out of Google today: all of their data is safe and sound. But it isn’t safe and sound in some remote server attached to the cloud. Instead, it’s safe on back-up data tapes somewhere in an undisclosed location.
Accountants know better than anyone that the cloud can make everyone’s lives easier, keep data secure and allow for freer exchange of information without obnoxious exchange of physical hard drives. They should also, therefore, know that the cloud allows for unforeseen snafus such as what just occurred when 150,000 Gmail users tried to log into their accounts and found nothing there.
Using POP, you can backup your Gmail account just in case. You’ll need a good email client like Outlook or, if you’re ancient like some firms we know (or our friends at the Federal Reserve), you can also elect to use LotusNotes or some other antiquated email client of your choosing.
Here’s how to download a copy of every message* in Gmail to an email client:
1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click Settings at the top of any Gmail page, and open the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
3. Select Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded).
4. Click Save Changes.
5. Open the mail client you’ve configured for Gmail, and check for new messages.
Gmail messages are downloaded in batches, so it may take time for everything to appear in your mail client.
* Messages in Spam and Trash aren’t downloaded unless you move them to your inbox or All Mail.
And now you have a nice copy of every email you’ve sent and received going back as long as your email client can handle. You’ll probably want to save this as a clean copy in your personal folders to keep your personal Gmails from splicing themselves throughout your work email, just in case anyone happens to check what you’re doing during work hours on company PP&E. Even better, do this at home on your own computer so you don’t even have to bother with worrying about anyone scoping your embarrassing forwarded jokes.
Happy Gmailing, people!
Sick of staring at your computer screen watching the data crawl by? Stare no longer, the future of data transfer is here with Intel’s new Thunderbolt™ technology:
From the company with the fastest processors comes the fastest way to get information in and out of your PC and peripheral devices. At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt™ technology gives you great responsiveness with high-speed data and display transfers in each direction—at the same time. With a single cable, connecting a PC to multiple devices is simple, making it easy to get and see what you want, when you want it. Thunderbolt technology gives you incredible flexibility; high performance expansion is just a cable away for new and novel uses, now and in the future.
Intel boasts that you can transfer a full HD movie in less than 30 seconds or backup an entire year of continuous mp3 playback in around 10 minutes using this technology.
Thunderbolt is bi-directional and allows for daisy-chaining, making that tangle of USB cords hanging off your desk obsolete, as soon as hard drive storage size necessitates lightning-fast data transfer, that is.
New MacBook Pros come equipped with Thunderbolt ports but for the rest of us, it’ll be USB for the foreseeable future until PC technology catches up and new laptops begin shipping with bolts emblazoned on the side.
Just think how many years of SOX-compliant data you can transfer away from prying eyes no sooner than the front desk says “the PCAOB is here!”
Let’s be honest here, how many of you use your work-issued phone strictly for work? Promise I won’t snitch anyone out. Some of you might even be lucky enough to be able to tweak your wallpaper, add apps and get your significant other on BBM for all day sexting without the pesky messaging data trail.
The AICPA’s 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey is out and shows that IT professionals’ biggest business technology concern is not that they could be replaced with robots but the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace.
The 22nd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey, conducted Jan. 13 to Jan. 26, shows control and use of mobile devices was the No. 1 challenge for IT professionals. The finding was based on responses from nearly 1,400 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology. In addition to mobile devices, the survey signaled future IT issues will revolve around implementation of touch-screen technology, deployment of faster networks and voice recognition technology.
“The surging use of smartphones and tablets means people are doing business, exchanging sensitive data wherever, whenever they want to,” said Ron Box, CPA/CITP, CFF. “The technology is advancing so rapidly that the capabilities for controlling and protecting the information on mobile devices is lagging behind. What was once as simple as losing your phone, could now create an enormous security risk for organizations.”
Remember back in the day when you might, say, accidentally drop your phone in the toilet at the bar and simply have to worry about recouping your contact list? Now our phones hold pictures, banking information and even client information that is oftentimes carelessly stored on unsecured devices that are taken everywhere. IT professionals can’t be expected to manage the network when the network is in your pocket, and when your pocket sometimes happens to be in the bar (you are a professional, after all).
Some of the top issues identified by CPAs in public accounting included data retention, control and use of mobile devices and privacy.
The complete Top Technology Initiatives list as voted on by CPAs, IT professionals, and others responsible for making or influencing technology decisions includes initiatives and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should be aware of over the next 12 – 18 months.
Ed. note: Welcome to the first edition of Going Concern’s Guest Blogger series. We’ll be featuring both seasoned and new bloggers to share their views on various accounting topics. If you’re interested in participating, email us your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Guest Blogger Submission” in the subject line.
Imagine being able to take tens of thousands of pages of financial data and get it into a database in a matter of hours. Those mounds of paper are quickly turned into something useful to the forensic accountant, without spending hundreds of hours manually inputting the data. Financial data is suddenly transformed and the forensic accountant can quickly map the flow of fun action patterns, create charts and graphs that show entities and transactions of interest, and create customized reports.
Doing things the old way, such a result is only a fantasy. For decades, forensic accountants have spent their time manually sorting documentation, deciding which transactions are important, and doing data entry.
It sounds painful because it is. It takes a long time, there is a high risk of inaccuracy, and there is a great chance that an important transaction will be overlooked.
So if there is technology out there to change all of this (and yes, there is!), why aren’t forensic accountants using it?
The only real answer is that they’re afraid of changing their business model. Most accounting firms charge their clients hourly fees, so they are invested in a business model that is dependent on forensic accountants taking more time to perform work which results in more revenue.
Technology that nearly eliminates the need for teams to spend hundreds of hours analyzing financial documentation is not a welcome addition to the firm; it just causes them to lose money.
Of course, it’s not really true that such advances really cause forensic accountants to lose money. All that needs to happen is firms have to find different ways to bill their clients, rather than simply adding up the time of staff and multiplying by a big number.
In addition to this paradigm shift related to billing clients, technological advances also fundamentally change the way forensic accountants investigate fraud. That makes lots of them (especially the old timers) uneasy. After all, we’ve always done it this way! How can we rely on technology over our own hands and eyes?
Here’s the thing…. those forensic accountants who resist embracing technological changes are going to be left behind. I currently use a proprietary system to complete large forensic accounting engagements, making it possible for me to single-handedly do more investigative work in a few days than a team of 4 or 5 investigators can do in several weeks or months.
This is not a fantasy; it is my reality. And my clients are getting better results much faster, allowing them to plan their litigation strategy much sooner, and ultimately be more successful in finding fraud, defending regulatory actions, and competing in litigation.
Yet I am currently the only forensic accountant in the private sector using this system, or anything like it. The government has been using a similar system for years, and if a client is being investigated by a federal agency in a financial matter, there’s a good chance the government is using the latest technology to aid in their investigation.
The future is not going to wait just because so many forensic accountants don’t want to change how they investigate fraud or earn their money. Those who are unwilling to change are going to be left behind. Those, like me, who want to be on the cutting edge, will make more money and win more interesting engagements that previously may have been too large or complex for me to handle alone.
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF is a forensic accountant and fraud investigator with Sequence Inc. in Milwaukee and Chicago. She has conducted hundreds of high-stakes investigations involving financial statement fraud, securities fraud, investment fraud, bankruptcy and receivership, and criminal defense. Tracy is the author of Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide and Essentials of Corporate Fraud, and has been qualified as an expert witness in both state and federal courts. She can be reached at email@example.com or 312.498.3661.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
CCH’s new application, CCH Mobile, is an extension of CCH’s IntelliConnect tax research platform and makes CCH’s content and tools available via BlackBerry and iPhone.
More than 1,000 professionals attending the 2010 CCH User Conference from November 7-10 in Grande Lakes, Orlando, will preview CCH Mobile. The new app is the latest offering from CCH designed to ensure that CCH resources will be with professionals wherever they choose to work.
“We’re providing an advantage for any professional who needs to conduct business beyond the boundaries of their office,” said Mike Sabbatis, CCH president and CEO. “And while that’s just about everyone, only CCH IntelliConnect customers will have the ability to conduct research on CCH’s premier content from the palm of their hand – anytime, anywhere.”
With CCH Mobile, tax and accounting professionals can access answers and tools on the spot – when meeting in person with clients at remote locations, or whenever they need content quickly, according to the company.
A limited-time free version of CCH Mobile is available. All current IntelliConnect subscribers can download the debut of CCH Mobile at no charge and all CCH User Conference attendees also have access to a preview version of this portable tax research tool.
After downloading the CCH Mobile app to a smart phone, users of the complimentary introductory release will have access to:
• Customized Tax Tracker News
• Primary materials including Internal Revenue Code and Regulations
• Tax tools and calculators
• Smart Charts (depending on IntelliConnect subscription level)
Following the introductory period through mid-2011, additional subscription packages will be offered to suit subscribers’ specific research needs.
Click here for more information and to view a demonstration of CCH Mobile.
About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business:
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, is a global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software, and services. It has served tax, accounting, and business professionals since 1913. Among its market-leading solutions are The ProSystem fx Suite, CorpSystem, CCH IntelliConnect, Accounting Research Manager, and the U.S. Master Tax Guide. CCH is based in Riverwoods, Illinois. Wolters Kluwer is a global information services company. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
Microsoft is beta testing a new subscription-based product called Office 3 following applications: Microsoft Office Professional Plus (Microsoft’s flagship productivity suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other applications); Microsoft Exchange Online (e-mail, mobile access, contacts, anti-virus, and anti-spam); Microsoft Sharepoint Online (collaboration tool for building public or team-based Web sites); and Microsoft Lync Online (an instant messaging and online meeting tool).
In 2011, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will join the above offerings. This is not Microsoft’s first foray into Cloud-based apps. Anyone with a free SkyDrive account can use the Office Web Apps (browser-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and store up to 25 GB of documents online. Further, Microsoft has been offering subscription plans for the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite that has offered a similar mix of communication products sans Microsoft Office.
Anyone interested can sign up for the beta of either the Small Business or Enterprise versions of the program. Those who are accepted into the beta program receive the desktop version of Office 2010 Professional Plus, along with online access to Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Once Office 365 leaves beta, the service should be of particular interest to small business owners.
Exchange and SharePoint typically require dedicated servers, which in turn require specialized information technology expertise. These cloud-based versions will enable just about any business to take advantage of these powerful applications for e-mail, group calendaring, and collaboration.
The Small Business plan will cost $6/user/month for 1 to 25 users and will include:
• Office Web Apps
• Exchange Online, including 25 GB mailboxes, and the ability to send 25 MB attachments
• SharePoint Online
• Lync Online
• Support provided via a moderated community forum
The Enterprise plan will cost $24/user/month and will include:
• Office Professional desktop software
• Office Web Apps
• Exchange Online, including 25 GB mailboxes, and the ability to send 25 MB attachments
• Sharepoint Online, including Forms, Access, Visio, and Excel services
• Lync Online
• 24/7 IT-level phone support
• Financially-backed 99.9% uptime service, or, in other words, downtime of less than 9 hours per year
Larger businesses also will be able to subscribe to a kiosk plan that starts at $2/user/month to offer e-mail, SharePoint sites, and Office Web Apps to workers without dedicated computers. An Office 365 for education will be available in the future to help educational institutions provide services to students without maintaining servers.
Many businesses aren’t yet comfortable with having mission-critical applications and data residing in the Cloud, but this combination of low cost and high flexibility might cause skeptics to pause and consider the possibilities.
About the author:
David Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laptop preferences often are personal, so consumers should try out a laptop – especially the keyboard and touchpad – before buying it. Consumer Reports says customers should carry the laptop around to make sure it doesn’t feel too heavy or big. The laptop should not feel so hot that a person has to move it off his or her lap while working, and it should run quietly.
The follow tures (in alphabetical order) ranked high in tests, as well as by respondents of surveys conducted by a number of technology publications and companies. The laptops mentioned in this article are not endorsed by AccountingWEB.
Long battery life is a feature ranked high in many laptop surveys and evaluations. When not plugged into a wall outlet, laptops use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power.
According to a recent survey of 776 respondents conducted by Frank Myhr of Berkley, MI-based FHM Technologies LLC, on building the ideal business laptop, long battery life ranked fifth at 76 percent as a feature most desired in a notebook.
According to tests conducted by Consumer Reports, a normal battery provided between two and nearly six hours of continuous use when running office applications. The publication stated that users can extend battery life by dimming the display, turning off wireless devices when not in use, and running only basic applications.
In its inaugural Notebook Decathlon, LAPTOP magazine put 10 notebooks through two battery endurance tests: a MobileMark test (run twice, both, with and without the WLAN receiver on) and a DVD movie test. The Lenovo ThinkPad T43 took top honors with a perfect composite score of 10. Its elapsed time of four hours and 43 minutes far outdistanced the next closest notebook (three hours and 50 minutes). The optional extra-capacity battery on the notebook’s rear panel was the reason for its long battery life, the magazine concluded.
In an evaluation conducted by Digitalversus.com, the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro was found to have a battery life of nearly five hours.
The size of the screen can be anywhere from 7 to 20 inches. The smaller the screen, the more portable the laptop. A larger screen will be less portable, but easier to use for extended periods, according to a report on Digitalversus.com. Screen quality ranked third at 86 percent in Frank Myhr’s laptop features survey.
LED-backlit LCD is a new display technology that is making its way into laptops. According to Consumer Reports, an advantage of this technology is its more efficient use of power and, as a result, longer battery life.
Consumer Reports ranked several Apple MacBook models, Dell Inspiron I545-012B, HP G70-460us, and Sony Vaio VGN-SR420D/H as having very good displays in its December 2009 issue.
No matter how careful we are, laptops are eventually going to be accidentally dropped, stepped on, doused, or left out in the car during extreme heat or cold. According to the survey conducted by Myhr, 89 percent of respondents ranked durability as their No. 1 feature.
LAPTOP magazine put 10 notebooks through stress and durability tests in its Notebook Decathlon, including dropping the laptops 10 inches onto a layer of plywood placed over concrete, and spraying the keyboard with water. According to test results, four notebooks survived the stress tests without effort: 15-inch Apple PowerBook G4, Averatec 3360 EH1, Gateway M210XL, and Sony VGN-S360.
Most laptops come with a traditional 160 to 500GB hard drive, which is where files and programs are stored, although Digitalversus.com says that an 80GB hard drive should suffice for office documents and photos. Consumer Reports recommends paying attention to a hard drive’s speed: 4,200 RPM – while rare – is considered fairly slow; 5,400 RPM is common; and 7,200 RPM is fastest, but costs more. Some laptops can be equipped with two hard drives: solid-state or flash drives.
RAM is the memory the computer uses while in operation, and most brand-name computers have at least 2GB of RAM, according to Consumer Reports. For Windows Vista, users will need at least 1 GB, but Digitalversus.com recommends 2GB. Computers with 3GB can run slightly faster.
Many of the respondents who participated in the survey conducted by Myhr commented that the quality of the keyboard is an important feature when buying a laptop. Keyboard quality ranked fourth at 83 percent in Myhr’s study.
Consumer Reports recommends that customers should look for keys that don’t feel mushy, touchpads large enough for your finger to traverse the span of the screen without repeated lifting, and touchpad buttons that are easy to find and press. The touchpad buttons should have a dedicated scroll area.
In its December 2009 issue, Consumer Reports gave the following laptop models very good ratings for keyboard/touchpad: Apple MacBook, Dell Studio, HP Pavilion, Sony Vaio, and Toshiba Satellite.
According to LAPTOP magazine, the 15-inch Apple PowerBook G4 ranked highest for design/keyboard in its Notebook Decathlon based on the laptop’s illuminated keyboard and two-fingered scrolling capability on the touchpad.
Business professionals are gravitating more toward laptops that are lighter in weight, and that portability has been a key marketing tool for netbook manufacturers. Consumers agree that portability is a great feature, as 60 percent of 600 consumers surveyed by market research company The NPD Group Inc., Port Washington, NY, said that was a main reason they bought their netbooks.
“Retailers and manufacturers can’t put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook,” Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, said in a statement. “Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability, and the need for a companion PC to ensure customers know what they are buying and are more satisfied with their purchases.”
Consumer Reports gave the following netbooks a very good rating for portability: Acer Aspire One AOD150-1165, Acer Aspire One AOD250-1990, Asus Eee PC 1005HA, Asus Eee PC 1008HA, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2, Samsung NC10-14GB, Samsung N110-12PBK, Samsung N120-12GBK, and Toshiba Mini NB205-N210. Digitalversus.com also gave a high portability rating to the 13-inch Apple MacBook White and the Samsung X360.
The brains of a laptop are in its processor – or CPU – which performs all of its calculations and has a direct bearing on everything consumers might use their laptops for, according to Digitalversus.com. Laptops generally come with a dual-core processor, such as an Intel Pentium Dual-Core or AMD Turion X2, stated Consumer Reports.