24 07 2009

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All the content and comments from this site have been transfered to the new site.

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AT&T Blackberry Bold

15 07 2009

Anyone else using the BlackBerry Bold with AT&T?!?

First, before I rant…I love the phone, its clean, great screen, decent battery, and 3G.

Moving on…I get “Call Failed” close to a dozen times per day.  We have reported to AT&T and the reaction is, “Hmmm, that’s odd.”  Well I can tell you this much, I did a Google search using the keywords “Call Failed” Blackberry Bold…20,300 hits all complaining about this same issue.  Not so unique.

Daniel has now had 3 BB Bolds to try to address the issue and no luck.  We get failed calls in Baltimore, Bel Air, Pennsylvania, driving on 95, and even in Las Vegas.  So there is no blaming the towers in any one location.  This is a device issue with the AT&T network.

Please anyone else out there having issues…have you found a resolution?  I’m dying here!

OK…off to the AT&T store to get a new SIM card……………………….

AICPA Firm Top Issues Survey Results

9 07 2009

AICPA PCPS Firm Top Issues Survey results for 2009 were just released.  A returning item since 2005 is marketing and practice growth.  The question is, do firms really know the implications of practice growth and are they prepared to absorb the costs of an infrastructure that can support the growth??

CPA’s are smart so I believe the answer, “Yes.”  However, what I don’t think they know is what kind of support and cost is going to be required to expand the technical infrastructure to support their growth.  While they realize it is an aspect to consider I can’t imagine they know what it is really going to take.

Well, score another point for cloud computing folks.  You need scalability? For those that have already embraced the model it is a simple answer.  Not only do they know their systems can scale exponentially but they know exactly how much it is going to cost them to scale their technology, X people time Y costs per seat… voila!

Let’s expand, shall we??  Darren Root, in his recent blog post, pointed out very clearly that the costs to recruit and sign new clients are significantly higher than the costs to keep them. Cloud computing is the low hanging fruit for providing your clients the tools that make you irreplaceable to them.  Darren gave a great presentation at the AICPA TechPlus conference in which he shared how his firm has embraced a number of cloud providers to expand the services they are delivering to their clients. Services such as hosted accounting systems, Client Portals, and Secure Document Exchange are great ways to expand existing services and provide real value to your clients. Score another 1 for cloud computing.

OK, I will spare you the exhaustive commentary but take a look for yourself at the survey results.  There isn’t an item on the list that cloud computing can’t help with.

Technology isn’t the answer to your need, but SMART technology and service is absolutely the enabler.  Does your current service provider, in-house or consultant look at this stuff?  Are they helping you to support your firm’s top 5 issues?  They should be!

Cloud computing is today!

8 07 2009

I feel compelled…there is just so much information out there about cloud computing that who can keep up?  Which explains why so many people that want to talk about it like they know what they are talking about are often just plain wrong.  Well, I shouldn’t say wrong… probably not wrong for 12 months ago… but today they are uninformed I suppose.

Take for example the recent article by Alex Vuchnich, titled, “Cloud computing and the paperless office for CPAs.”  The article is well written and makes some good points, however some statements I fear could lead to inaccurate information being shared.

Mr. Vuchnich is absolutely right that cloud computing does create a great synergy with paperless initiatives.  However suggesting that there needs to be more convenient methods for accessing the cloud is like saying toilet paper should be delivered on something different than a roll.  Today’s proliferation of broadband internet plus the ability to buy a laptop for under $300 that weighs nearly a pound I would say is pretty convenient.  In addition, with the right cloud provider you can access it from any gateway to the internet you have available to you (note I didn’t say PC.)  You can get to it from an iPhone, MAC, Linux, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows Mobile, library computer, hotel computer, clients computer…etc, etc, etc. Doesn’t sounds terribly inconvenient if you ask me….

OK, on to the “pitfalls”

“…constant internet connectivity.” Yes this fact is true, however in the typical metropolitan area the price to get high speed internet access can be as low at $59/month.

“…firm’s user controls” If your service provider of choice isn’t assisting with the firm’s user controls then choose another service provider!

“…a disclosure of client data.” Not so much. There have been a number of discussions about cloud computing in accordance with HIPPA regulation and with the appropriate measures in place the transmission of patient data over a 128 bit SSL encrypted secure communication is acceptable.  The same technology is also used for online banking and CC payments online.

“…applications that …may not be a good fit for the cloud computing model.”  Well, yes…but not likely for a general office.  If you are a radiologist or some other profession that uses specialized hardware connected to your system it might not currently work.  Not to say that it won’t, Citrix (our cloud enabler of choice) can currently redirect many hardware devices.  But your average business owner won’t have a problem.  Scanners and printers work seamlessly with the cloud.

“…a complete transition is a long way off.”  Shoot me an email and I will be happy to put you in contact with clients that have made a “complete transition.”

This technology isn’t tomorrow, it’s today!

The Tools that Change the Game

26 06 2009

So I’m always talking to friends of mine about the fun new tools(toys) I use and I always here “WHY ARE YOU HOLDING OUT ON ME!”  The reality is I can’t be cooler than everyone else if I tell you all how to be cool.  Haha, JK!

Anyway, now I can figure out next time I hear that comment, who isn’t reading our blog… because here you go:

Xobni – the best inbox search tool ever!  Here’s a quick example, receive email from a colleague, notice a name in that colleague’s network of people.  Name is someone I have been trying to get their attention, I now have my way in.  Its an interactive LinkedIn without the formality.   This is only a small snippet of its value.

Google Maps on your phone – seriously, your phone is useless without this.  Not only does it show you maps, but it routes directions for you, searches company names in the context of your location, dials companies for you, integrates with your contacts and shows you traffic.

Picasa – from Google (surprise surprise) the best tool for managing your pictures and sharing them.  It is 1000 times faster than your Kodak, Canon, Olympus software, can make cool collages, plus the web albums.  Free 1 GB of storage online and your friends can download the full resolution photos for free.  Plus the online albums have face recognition for tagging photos.

There is more but this should keep you busy for awhile….

Paperless is a Mentality

23 06 2009

I was reading a recent post from Dave McClure at CPATechViews titled, “The Hardware Side of Document Management.”  In it he accurately discusses many of the overlooked aspects of becoming a “paperless office.”  In addition, I think it important to note that while the hardware is very important it really doesn’t make a bit of a difference if the paperless initiative is not properly adopted organization wide. 

Oh and before I continue; Dave, I was fortunate enough in the past to work with GoFileRoom, who of all vendors I have worked with, walk their clients through the paperless project all the way down to the scanners.  Moving on…

I’ll give you an example of the misalignment related to going paperless.  How many businesses say they want to go paperless to save trees, go green??  Noble thought right?!  The reality… if not don’t right plan to spend twice as much on paper, printers and shred service than you do right now.  Here’s the scenario,

Client,  “I have a question on page 4 of my corp tax return” 
Accountant, “OK, let me pull it up and please excuse me for a moment while I pull all 85 pages off the printer”

Those 85 pages then go to the shred box.  I know, hard to believe, right?  NOT!  I see and live it every day.  People go paperless with the best of intentions and while they eventually see the fruits of its investment they frequently don’t save many trees in the process nor realize all of the benefits.

How many people do you know that print emails they want to keep?  Or even better, print an email, to then scan it so that they can save it?  Or, print a document so they can fax it?  Please share your observations, its impossible to predict all the ways people will or will not use technology!

Paperless can be everything everyone wants it to be, but only IF executed properly.  Otherwise, I can refer you to a great paper and shred company  🙂

The Upgrade

3 06 2009

OK, so Daniel’s love for Windows 7 has motivated me to make the leap. Honestly I wasn’t entirely upset with Vista but apparently the beefs that I did have seem to have been addressed in 7 so…what the heck!

I backed up my full system and got ready to install 7 and realized…hmmm, maybe I can just upgrade my system and sure enough there is an upgrade path.  Of course prior history of Microsoft Operating Systems clearly tells me I should wipe it clean and do a fresh install.  But hey I’m already jumping so why not get really cRaZy! I’m going to do the upgrade.

Before performing the upgrade I received  a report to tell me the applications that were going to break with the upgrade.  It listed 4.  Two of whom I downloaded the beta versions for Windows 7 and two that I really could care less about.  The one application it failed to notify me about was SecondLife… hopefully there will be a beta viewer out soon for that.

It took about 3 hours to run but well worth it.  Windows 7 so far is outstanding.  My CPU runs significantly cooler (which means no more humming fan constantly running), the memory utilization is not even coming close to the normal 80% of 4GB that Vista was using, and the Sleep function is far superior to any of its predecessors. Here are the other positives for PC:

  • The new functionality of the Task Bar and Peaking of applications is very nice
  • Overall application responsiveness is smooth
  • The sidebar has now become just Gadgets, which don’t seem to be the resource hog they once were
  • MS Search is much cleaner and more responsive
  • Navigating folders is cleaner
  • The Start Menu has some actual useful enhancements to it

And so far I have yet to find any downsides to performing the upgrade.  Of course one benefit I have, the applications that I really need all live in the HSI cloud and are free from concern of Windows 7 upgrades.  So for me, Life with Windows 7 is good!