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1. 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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Press Alt+P for pizza  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: What technology would you like to see more of?A: I expect technology to make my life more convenient, and I find that Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering option does just that—by clicking a single button, my order is placed, payment is tendered, and the product arrives the next day on my doorstep.

7. Tech-less-ness  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: How should I deal with people who don’t have a clue what they are doing with their computer but constantly want me to help them resolve their petty computer issues?A: Being known as a tech-savvy professional has its drawbacks. Specifically, we are frequently expected to help novice computer users fix their computer, printer, and internet problems.

8. Sweeping formats under the rug  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: I received an error message in Excel stating that my workbook had “Too many cell formats, Excel encountered an error and had to remove some formatting to avoid corrupting the workbook.” What would cause this type of error, and how do I avoid it in the future?A: Copying and pasting data between Excel workbooks with multiple formats and styles duplicates these formats, so they can accumulate over time.

9. What's the text?  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: We provide smartphones to our 120 sales reps, who primarily use them to send and receive thousands of text messages to and from their overseas customers. However, these customers often use other carriers, and, as a result, the text messages exceeding a relatively low messaging-plan threshold cost us a few cents each.

10. Renewed reasons to change names  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: Our two website domain names are coming up for renewal soon, and our current domain-name-hosting company charges a renewal fee of $37.99 per year per domain name. (We use another company for web hosting.) This seems high compared with other advertised domain-name-hosting fees I see, so we are considering switching to another agent.
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