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. That’s the purpose of apps and of this column as well: to be really good at one very narrow and well-defined thing. So each month this column will feature two or three apps that could be valuable to certain CPAs in particular situations.

This month’s lineup includes two apps that are unique and potentially very useful. Fing is a nice utility that CPAs should find compelling and may well boost their “geek cred.” And who wouldn’t want to save a few dollars via RedLaser?

FING SHOWS ALL THE NETWORK CONNECTIONS

FingFing is a simple tool that allows you to see all the devices on a local area network (LAN). The app is free and available for both Android and iOS as well as on the desktop.

Most of this information is probably available on your LAN’s router because the router sits at the heart of your network with all devices connecting to it and all data flowing through it. But routers are notoriously difficult to navigate and are often stingy with information. Upon launch, Fing identifies the network you’re connected to and quickly lists every device on that network. The identification includes both the IP and MAC addresses as well as each device’s manufacturer and “friendly name” (the name you or a network manager gives to the device—something like “John’s printer”). Opening the display shows the SSID (network name) and the node count—each “node” is a device registered on the network. The app shows devices currently connected as well as those that were connected in the past. You will be amazed at the devices you see: computers, Apple TV, Xbox, TiVo, printers, scanners, Roku, tablets, smartphones—even your neighbors who are “borrowing” your Wi-Fi.

Fing is a wonderful curiosity soother, and it can be helpful in first-level troubleshooting. Wireless printer not printing? Use Fing to make sure it’s connected and that your network has issued it a current IP address.

  • Website: Overlooksoft.com
  • Cost: Free
  • Operating Systems: Mobile—iOS, Android; Desktop—Windows, OS X, Linux 


REDLASER HELPS PINPOINT THE BEST DEALS

Red LaserEvery once in a while an app comes along that takes advantage of the smartphone’s GPS, camera, processor, and internet connection (most apps tap only one or two of those features). RedLaser is the shopping companion extraordinaire that leverages the full power of the smartphone. Snap a picture of a UPC bar code, and RedLaser goes to work. It hits the internet to quickly identify the product and generate a list of prices. Voilà—you instantly know if you’re getting a good deal. A couple more quick taps take you to the online merchant’s site for easy ordering, or you can choose to email yourself the details and order later.

But wait, there’s more magic. Another tap finds the product at other local stores and displays both its availability and prices. Consider how valuable this might be for retail clients. Your showing it to them could strengthen your position as their trusted business adviser.

  • Website: RedLaser.com
  • Cost: Free   
  • Operating System: IOS; Android; Windows Phone 


Greg LaFollette ( greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com ) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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