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1. Expanding your app-titude  

BY Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or so goes the old pithicism. While most people use only a few apps regularly, thousands of apps are ideally designed to complete a particular task or solve a really unusual problem. It’s doubtful that anyone will use these apps every day, but there’s no doubt that they are extremely helpful when needed.

2. Searching for privacy  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: I’ve heard that search engines such as Google and Yahoo! keep a record of your searches and the websites you visit and that they often share this personal information with other companies. I don’t do anything illicit on the internet, but I’m still not comfortable with these search engines recording my every move.

3. Shortcuts for evaluating a QuickBooks candidate  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: When hiring a new QuickBooks bookkeeper, what’s a good way to evaluate a candidate’s proficiency with QuickBooks?A: It is easy to evaluate the knowledge of a QuickBooks consultant, because Intuit makes his or her history of certifications public. You can access this information from the QuickBooks Help menu by selecting Find a Local QuickBooks Expert, the results of which are pictured below.

4. Substantiating trust  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: When introduced to new privacy solutions (such as DuckDuckGo or Disconnect), what assurances do we have that these solutions aren’t themselves stealthily tracking our computing or internet activities?A: Before trusting a lesser-known privacy solution, at a minimum make sure that it meets the following criteria:The company makes definitive public statements confirming it will not collect your data (which could subject it to lawsuits if it does).The company undergoes annual or periodic security audits by reputable auditors, and those findings are made public.The company is endorsed by well-known, high-profile companies that have a vested interest in protecting

5. Whiz kids  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
I frequently receive questions from CPAs concerned about their children’s use of computers. It is true that children can become overly obsessed with playing computer games, or worse yet, use their computers to access inappropriate content on the web. These risks can be easily mitigated with parental control software, firewall settings, and, of course, proper parental supervision.

6. How well do you know PivotTables?  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: I was recently asked by a large client if I considered myself an Excel PivotTable expert, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. I have used PivotTables extensively, but by definition, it is difficult for anyone to know what they don’t know—if that comment makes sense. Is there some way for me to self-assess my PivotTable skills?A: I am not aware of any official PivotTable accreditations, but just for you, I created the questionnaire in Exhibit 1 to help assess your knowledge of Excel PivotTables.Scoring.

7. Excel reader challenge  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August is traditionally a lighter time of year for CPAs, and in that spirit I’m offering another reader challenge designed to test your Excel skills. I’ve published an Excel workbook at carltoncollins.com/stockchallenge.xlsx that contains weekly stock price information for 10 stocks during 2013. Here’s the challenge: Download the workbook, start the 2013 year with $10,000 in cash, and identify no more than 10 buy trades and 10 sell trades that will produce the maximum growth by Dec.

8. Technology plays a role in board members’ top two concerns   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
In a business environment where a damaging Twitter post can have disastrous effects on a company’s financials, reputational risk remains the top nonfinancial concern for corporate directors, according to a new survey report.Another risk rooted in technology—cybersecurity and information technology risk—is rising quickly among directors’ concerns, according to the fifth annual Board of Directors Survey report by accounting, tax, and consulting firm EisnerAmper.The more than 250 directors participating in the survey were asked which areas of risk—aside from financial risk—were most important to their board.

9. You Gantt do that  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: Does Excel 2013 provide the option to produce Gantt charts?A: No, Excel does not produce Gantt charts out of the box, but you can create one with a bit of Excel trickery, as illustrated in the following example.1. List your tasks. Start by entering a list of tasks including start dates, duration of each task, and end dates, an example of which is pictured below.

10. Office-sharing arrangement  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus, which includes five product licenses. I’ve installed three of those licenses on my office, home, and mobile laptop computers, and I am wondering if I can allow other family members to use my remaining two unused licenses. I don’t want to do anything illegal, but I also don’t want those two licenses to go unused.
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