Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA's job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

We often speak of "the cloud" as if it were one huge, homogeneous entity in which everything peacefully coexists ready to integrate at our every whim. The cloud is actually quite Balkanized, and, unfortunately, we as practitioners often are forced to deal with disparate platforms. If you are a regular reader of this column, you may recall earlier discussions of cloud file storage platforms in general ("Online Storage/Synchronization: Dropbox, et al.," Feb. 2015, page 74) and applications including cloudGOO ("Consolidate Your Cloud Storage With cloudGoo," Nov. 2014, page 86). As cloud storage use continues to skyrocket, I thought it prudent to revisit the topic and discuss an additional tool. I would touch on more, but while several apps are under development to let you manage all of your cloud storage from one screen, none are ready for prime time. In light of that disappointment, our second app this month is purely for fun.

WAPPWOLF ADDS AUTOMATION TO THE CLOUD EQUATION

Wappwolf's contribution to ameliorating the aforementioned Balkanization is to enable and automate specific actions between your various cloud accounts, e.g., Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Twitter. The menu of platforms and possible actions is quite rich, so chances are you'll quickly find a use for the "set-it-and-forget-it" service.

Here's my personal fact pattern. I store PowerPoint presentation files on Dropbox in a folder labeled "Presentations." Whenever I finish preparing a presentation deck, I add it to that folder. I then upload the completed presentation to SlideShare. I used Wappwolf to automate this process by directing it to (1) watch my "Presentations" folder, (2) identify any PowerPoint files added to that folder, (3) upload that newly added file to SlideShare, and (4) send a tweet announcing the newly posted SlideShare presentation.

My second use was to salve my paranoia regarding the possibility of losing the photos on my phone. I'm already a belt-and-suspenders guy, as the photos are backed up in iCloud (belt) and automatically uploaded from my iPhone's Camera Roll to Dropbox (suspenders). I've added a third level of protection via Wappwolf. I directed Wappwolf to watch the Dropbox folder named "Camera Uploads" and automatically copy newly added files to a Facebook private album called "Photos from Wappwolf."

The list of possible "automations" is extensive and includes sync and/or copy files between cloud-based services, change formats, convert files for opening in Evernote, tweet, and post to Facebook.

  • Website: wappwolf.com
  • Cost: Free plan is very limited. Premium and Professional are $8 and $25 per month, respectively
  • Operating system: Web only

SEE THE DIGITAL SIGNALS AROUND YOU WITH ARCHITECTURE OF RADIO

If, like me, you sometimes need a diversion from the constant stress of the profession, here's a fascinating app. Architecture of Radio bills itself as "a field guide to the hidden world of digital networks" and lives up to that claim by delivering stunning visualizations of the cell towers, Wi-Fi, and satellite locations around you. The app uses your GPS coordinates to generate a 360-degree "view" of the signal spectrum. It's fascinating to "see" a physical representation of the digital systems upon which we depend. Hold your iPhone as you slowly turn and watch cell tower signals materialize, satellites zoom overhead, and local Wi-Fi signals fade in and out. I found it to be an amazing conversation starter recently in an airport lounge—even the Sky Club staff got involved "seeing" all of the otherwise invisible signals around us!

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

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