Holiday Gift Gadget Clash
Whether giving or receiving, you’re going to need to prep your list for this giving season. In this season of giving (not to mention elections), it’s time to bridge the gap regardless of which side you or your beneficiary is on. Which way will you lean? Regardless, we’ve got gadget gifts to suit the desires of your family, friends, or fellow colleagues. I’ll give you the options, but it’s up to you to cast your vote.
First up, which company do you want to use to self-bug yourself? Growing in popularity, a stationary assistance is the next interaction/input method poised to connect us with our devices. While iOS and Android have offered to help us via vocal input for some time, a stationary mic provides more useful interaction while otherwise engaged. Ideal use cases include starting timers or adding groceries to a list while cooking. If both hands are busy or wet, that need or idea that pops into your head doesn’t have to be lost. (more…)
Replacing Your Cloud Access Workstation
Everyone loves getting a new computer. The brightness of the screen and the clean keys on a new keyboard just feel good. With a new laptop, you no longer have to worry about your battery dying when you close the screen to take it home for the night. If you are replacing an old desktop, you no longer have to fear that the strange whirring sound coming from the fan on your desktop is going to start a fire. Everything just seems to move faster.
There are many reasons you may be considering a new purchase:
- Replacing a machine that has reached its end of life
- New workstations for new hires
- Upgrading laptops as an employee incentive
- Moving forward to a new operating system
Cool Tools for CPAs at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show
Each year, over 150,000 people from around the world trek to Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show, which showcases the latest and greatest gadgets in home, office and automotive automation. Many of these consumer products work their way into CPA firms and improve productivity in ways that accountants never imagined.
After spending two days walking the aisles covering the equivalent of 35 football fields, we showcase seven “finds” that range from the truly practical to the “bleeding edge” tools and concepts that could change the way we work in our firms.
1. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. The Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners have been recognized for many years as solid, reliable devices for capturing stacks of client documents both on an individual’s desktop and when auditors are in the field. At this year’s CES, Fujitsu released the iX500, which scans at up to 25 pages per minute double-sided. While the speed improvement and blank-page cleanup are noticeable, the real enhancement comes with the built-in wireless ability to scan documents directly to a mobile device (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone), in addition to virtually any other Windows application, so they can be easily viewed, forwarded and saved.
2. HoverCam Quick Document Scanner. This year’s vote for the “Swiss Army Device Most Likely to Help CPAs” goes to the HoverCam, which folds out from a package about the size of a hairbrush to become both a flatbed scanner and a webcam. The software required is embedded on the flash memory of the scanner so it’s ready to “plug and play” by anyone in the firm. The five megapixel, high-definition webcam has autofocus capabilities and can be used for sharing images of people, documents or objects, which could also come in handy for firm trainers. (more…)
Will the Google Chromebook revolutionize the industry?
Isn’t technology great when you simply push the power button and it’s instantly ready for you to be productive? If you agree, then you have experienced the euphoria that results from the synergy of human and machine interaction. However, if you disagree, it is most likely due to a kink in the system anywhere between your fingertips and the Cloud. Fortunately, Google has introduced a product called the Chromebook that will move us one step closer to seamlessly integrating technology into our lives.
The Chromebook is designed specifically to work with the Cloud environment and will alleviate some of the headaches associated with traditional personal computers, such as crashes, program updates, viruses, outdated hardware, etc. Even though this device may not be ready for enterprise-wide deployments in the accounting industry today, this compact 10-inch laptop has a battery life of over 7 hours with built-in WiFi and optional 3G (100mb of free access from Verizon each month) for connectivity to business resources. This product is a great compliment to existing Cloud or Citrix clients as a laptop replacement that will reduce the overall cost of ownership by eliminating the variables associated with locally installed operating systems. (more…)
Should your next PC purchase go “greener”?
As the universe goes “green”, computer users can think about eco-friendly options as well. Researching the web can go a long way in providing us with “green” information on an array of purchases- computer purchases are no exception. Energy usage, harmful material, and getting trustworthy recommendations are a few good places to start.
Here are a few tips to consider before your next “green” computer purchase:
Conserving energy is on everybody’s mind. Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Setting/using your computer’s power management features could be beneficial to your battery life as well as your electricity usage
• Utilizing a power strip for all of our computer needs and unplugging devices from wall plugs after every use
• Hardware and software utilities can help you understand when you’re using the most electricity (more…)
Monitor2Go: Designed by accountants, built for road warriors
At first glance, Monitor2Go looks like just another laptop, with its thin, lightweight and foldable design. However, Monitor2Go is actually a portable monitor that redefines portability, durability and productivity on the go. Now you can enjoy the efficiency of multiple monitors, without being tied to your desk or having to haul around heavy equipment.
Monitor2Go weighs in at just 4 pounds (compared with the typical 9-10 pounds). Its folding design protects it from screen damage that most monitors are susceptible to when on the go and its case is twice as thick as a regular laptop’s for added durability. The 15.4” Monitor2Go is thin enough to slip into a laptop bag, backpack or briefcase without adding much bulk and can be adjusted to whichever angle you prefer- landscape, portrait or tablet mode. Or, why not, it can even be hung on a wall. There’s no complicated set up either. You simply plug it into a USB port on your computer and you’ve got a multiple monitor set-up ready to go. Did I mention you can “daisy chain” up to 6 of these monitors off of a single USB port on your host computer?
Mobile Monitor Technologies also offers a Field Monitor Pro that includes a built-in keypad for easy data entry.
Here’s a link to a video that shows how it works: www.mmt2.com/fmp/ViewVideo.html.
You can also go to their website at www.mmt2.com to learn more.
Video Calling Opportunities
One of the key roles for accountants has been to share business information with clients and others interested in that data. For those of us who have been in the profession for a decade or longer, this has traditionally been done face to face with manual documents and handwritten notes, and only at the availability and convenience of all interested parties.
With the adoption of information technology and expanded communications capabilities online, there has been a strong transition toward digital communication, with virtually every accountant being comfortable using email and attaching documents.
Digital processes are replacing many of the phone calls and meetings that used to take up a lot of our time. Now that Internet bandwidth is more robust and cost-effective than ever, accountants are ready to add another client communications tool to their arsenal. It’s called face-to-face video calling. Remember the Dick Tracy wrist watch that showed us that we would be able to talk face to face with whomever we wanted to from wherever we chose? While video conferencing has been around in firms for years, it has been complex to use and not cost-effective for the average accountant. This is no longer the case as more and more laptops are designed with built-in personal webcams (Internet or Web-based cameras) and external webcams can easily be added to almost any desktop computer. (more…)
Get the RightSignature
With so many new technologies appearing on the scene everyday, it’s hard to filter down the list to ones that can have real impact on the way we do business. Many of the best are niche solutions that have been developed to address specific areas of inefficiency and try not to be a Swiss army knife.
One example is RightSignature, which elegantly handles the process of document signing and does it completely and paperlessly online. Contracts, forms, employment agreements, tax documents, you name it. Upload your source document, insert the signature field where it belongs and you’re ready to go. RightSignature emails a secure link to the recipient, who then is presented the document for review and signature. (more…)
What Every Auditor Wants for Christmas- Details of a Dream Audit Pack
Remember when an audit binder was an actual three ring ‘binder’ that had all of the engagement documents stuffed in it? Well, most of us are glad that those days are long gone as paperless software and new audit practices have come to save the day.
If your firm is still conducting audits with paper binders, you might want to revisit the software packages (CCH Engagement, Caseware, etc.) and revolutionize your practice. Those who have already made the transition now experience the frustrations of working with technology in the field. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to experience the same productivity while on the road as in the office? (more…)