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Windows-10

What to Expect From Windows 10

Microsoft plans to roll out Windows 10 at the end of summer 2015, and from our experience with the Technical Preview over the past month, it has a lot of accountant-friendly features that will make us more productive and secure in the office or on the road. Traditionally, accountants have not upgraded PCs from the existing operating system that came with their computer unless the support was dropped (Windows XP), or the workstation crashed and it was an opportunity to upgrade when it was time to rebuild (Vista to Windows 7). Microsoft has not always made it easy to upgrade Windows and created a lot of confusion around licensing and special deals, but they are making this next operating system upgrade one of the easiest for accountants to adopt.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that existing Windows 7 and 8.1 computers (that have adequate specifications to run this operating system) can upgrade to Windows 10 for free if they do so during the first year of the release, and Microsoft will then provide updates for the supported life of that device (with the caveat that

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Kepczyk-Escpaes-from-Alcatraz

Kepczyk Escapes From Alcatraz

Sunday, June 7, 2015 was a fairly mild morning by San Francisco standards as we boarded the San Francisco Belle to head out on a 30-minute one-way trip to Alcatraz Island.  At 7:30 in the morning, the starter’s gun went off and 2,000 triathletes cleared the deck within nine minutes.  The first recollection was the frigid shock of plunging into 60 degree water, followed by the carnage of being clawed, kicked and pushed as each swimmer began the frantic swim across “the river” that runs between Alcatraz and the mainland (dumping 5 million gallons of water per second through the Golden Gate).  After 42 minutes an enormous smile broke out across my face as I climbed out of the bay and peeled off my wetsuit, knowing that it was possible for three convicts to make it to shore (and more concisely to acknowledge I had made it!).

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2015-Communications-Findings-from-Paperless-Benchmark-Survey

2015 Communications Findings from Paperless Benchmark Survey

The AAA’s 2015 Paperless Benchmark Survey is targeted towards identifying digital best practices and, in that light, includes questions on technology trends supporting paperless technologies.  This year’s survey pointed to some surprising findings under the communications topic which administrators should be aware of as they could impact decisions in the year ahead.  Below we discuss the five communications questions from the survey:

Unified Messaging on the Decline?

Unified messaging entails delivering all communications including voicemail, faxes, and email into one application (primarily Outlook) so that we as end users only have to go to one resource to access them and IT can backup everything in one “communication bucket.”  The 2013 survey found that 66% of responding firms had implemented unified messaging whereas the number declined to 62% of respondents for 2015. This is most likely due to different firms responding between the two surveys as our consulting with firms has found that as they upgrade their phone systems to digital means, there is actually more opportunity to integrate voice messaging with Outlook.  We also see

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Staying-Secure-on-the-Road

Staying Secure on the Road

Keep in mind that this article was written for the average business traveler, not specifically for someone in the Xcentric Cloud.

Author: Steve Armstrong, Technical Director of CyberCPR at Logically Secure

Pre-check

While your network at home or at work may be secure, you should always assume that any network you
connect to when you travel is untrustworthy. You never know who else is on it and what threats they may pose. Some simple pre-travel measures can go a long way towards protecting your data while you travel. Take these precautions one or two weeks before your trip:

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Ten-Lean-Six-Sigma-Audit-Considerations

Ten Lean Six Sigma Audit Considerations

The application of Lean Six Sigma principals has helped countless organizations objectively re-evaluate and streamline their production processes.  Lean Six Sigma is a consulting methodology gaining favor in the accounting profession for its focus not only on fostering operational efficiency, but also improving audit quality and the client’s interactions with the firm, which in the end helps grow the audit practice.  Traditional audit practices can take advantage of the lessons learned from firms that have implemented “Lean” processes and below we point out ten opportunities for firm consideration:

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Ransomware-Awareness

Ransomware Awareness

There has been a recent surge of Ransomware attacks on accountants whose workstations were not adequately protected and backed up, leading to some firms paying a ransom and others recreating the data (and wishing they would have paid the ransom instead).  For those of you not familiar with Ransomware, it is a term for malicious software that either locks you out of your computer or encrypts certain files on your hard drive and requires an anonymous payment ($200-$300 in BitCoins) to provide an “unlocking” key, so you can once again access your files.  CryptoLocker and CryptoWall are two of the most recognized names for this type of malware which is usually invoked by one of your personnel clicking on a “suspect” email attachment that will then deny access to their machine or encrypt all of their Microsoft Office documents, image files, and many other standard file types that they use at work.  This includes any that are on mapped network drives that they have access rights to.

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Decisions.Terminal-Services

Decisions Decisions…Terminal Services, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Virtualized Application Delivery?

In the world of business cloud computing, there are undeniably many options available to provide remote or “cloud” services to accounting firms. A simple web search will return a wealth of both technical information and sales materials for a multitude of providers, softwares and consultants, all promising remote service delivery. However, not all “clouds” are created the same, and the way they are built has a huge effect on the performance, reliability, cost, and user interface of the service. It’s helpful to know the difference between some of the most common methods of delivering remote software and services. Knowing some basics about how the different types of solutions work will help you make the best decision for your firm. This article provides a high-level overview of Terminal Services (TS), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and Virtualized Application Delivery.

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Ergonomics

Ergonomics to Improve Your Firm’s Productivity

Accountants spend huge amounts of time at their desks, many of which were acquired before the advent of multiple monitors and the knowledge of optimum ergonomic desk configurations.  While most of us were taught in school that sitting up straight, having an organized study space with good lighting, and focusing on one subject at a time makes us more productive, those lessons are often forgotten within firms, particularly during the more hectic busy seasons when individual productivity really needs to be optimized.

When a discussion on ergonomics comes up, most partners think about extreme examples such as the lost productivity of a co-worker due to a repetitive stress injury or absenteeism caused by a person with a chronic issue such as back pain.  While critical issues must take precedence, owners often forget about or discount the daily loss of productivity caused by an improper working environment.  Improper equipment and subpar work environments create fatigue that cause more work errors, resulting in lower profitability.  Add on top of that study after study pointing to the negative

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Alpharetta-award-2015

Xcentric Recognized as Business of Excellence

The City of Alpharetta (where we are headquartered) just sent us these beautiful awards to honor us as a 2014 Business of Excellence. This award is given to businesses within the city limits that are seen as valuable to the community. Thanks Alpharetta for your support!

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