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1. 10 Excel shortcuts  

BY J. Carlton Collins
1. The SUM function. Pressing Alt+= in the cell below a column of numbers inserts the SUM function and highlights that column of numbers.2. Select a range of data.

2. Remotely interested in supervision  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: What technologies should we use to help monitor our “work-from-home” employees to make sure they are working productively and doing their jobs properly?A: According to the Telework Research Network, 30 million Americans (20% of the workforce) work from home at least part time, and Telework projects that number to rise to 48.9 million within the next five years.

3. Combination charts  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: Is it possible to overlay one chart atop another chart in Excel 2013 for comparison purposes?A: Yes, chart overlays are possible. Excel allows you to produce a combination chart that places one chart atop another using a percentage scale for each of the two data ranges. This arrangement allows the reader to visually compare the figures to determine if any relationships exist between the two sets of data in a single chart.

4. What does it meta?  

BY J. Carlton Collins, CPA
Q: How much does metadata (webpage titles, descriptions, and keywords) play into improving a webpage’s rating in Bing, Yahoo!, or Google searches?A: Metadata is an essential element to ranking higher in search engine results, and it is important to include relevant metadata in your webpage properties so your webpages rank higher.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.
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