* Technology Toys We Can't Live Without: The CSCPA Technology Committee Dishes

 

 


 

Technology Toys We Can't Live Without: The CSCPA Technology Committee Dishes

By Caitlin Bailey, Electronic Communications Coordinator

On the third Thursday of each month, the CSCPA Technology Committee converges on a favorite diner in Shelton, Old Saybrook, or Rocky Hill. Over omelets and orange juice, the committee takes questions from CSCPA members who drop in on everything from client portals to the best tax software.

Invariably, conversation shifts to every technology geek’s favorite topic: gadgets.

Whether you’re in the market for a new smartphone or a pen that takes pictures and audio recordings of your notes (honest!), the Technology Committee members have an opinion.

iPod Touch

Randee Roucoulet, Manager, Simione, Macca & Larrow LLP

"My favorite tech toy is my iPod Touch. Everybody knows iPods are great for listening to music, but the Touch has so much more. In addition to storing and playing all my favorite music, it can also play videos (including movies and TV shows) and store pictures.

It also has a calendar and contact and note functions which will sync (one-way) from my Outlook information (PC or Mac) so I always have my calendar and phone numbers with me when I’m on the go.

But the best feature? The WiFi. I can connect to the Internet anywhere there is a wireless connection and surf the web and retrieve my e-mail. Once I’m on the Internet, I can download any number of applications, including games and other software programs I didn’t even know I needed!"

WiiFit

Caitlin Bailey, CSCPA Electronic Communications Coordinator/Technology Committee Staff Liaison

"If that’s what it takes for people to get moving, so be it! Does it take the place of a daily jog? No. But you’d be surprised how hard some of the exercises using the WiiFit board are.

It requires you to do the most effective push-up I’ve done in years, judging your body position and offering pointers and encouragement the whole way. Program in your weight and body information, and it even tells you you’re looking slim today – or that it misses you, it’s been a few days since your last visit. The step aerobics is hysterical – not easy on the hand-eye-foot coordination!"

Blackberry Bold

Frank Rooney, General Partner, Germain & Rooney, LLC/Technology Committee Chair

"My favorite toy is my new Blackberry Bold. I’ve had many cell phones, but this is my first Blackberry. I like the easy access to e-mail and the ability to browse the web when I am away from the office. My clients can always contact me if they need to. Now, if only I can find a way to turn it off on weekends!"

TomTom ONE GPS Navigation System

Kirsten Piechota, CSCPA Communications Manager/Technology Committee Staff Liaison

"The TomTom ONE, like most portable GPS systems, attaches to your windshield and features turn-by-turn audio instructions as well as an on-screen map, which means I no longer have to drive in unfamiliar areas with one eye on the road and one eye on the MapQuest directions clutched nervously in my hand.

The nice TomTom lady (or man – there are many voices to choose from!) serves as co-pilot and helps me find my way. Stuck in traffic on I-84? Just hit 'avoid part of route' and the TomTom will help you find your way around. Miss your turn? The TomTom will recalculate and tell you the next available turn to get you back on track.

The ONE doesn’t have the advanced features like address entry by voice and historical traffic data you’ll see in many of the more expensive models, but if you’re someone like me who is new to the world of GPS navigation and only needs to use it a few times a month, it’s a lifesaver!"

Lensbaby 2.0

Melissa Thompson, CSCPA Marketing Manager/Technology Committee Staff Liaison

"My favorite gadget? It’s the Lensbaby 2.0. The Lensbaby is a special effects camera lens. Recently, the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly featured dreamy, blurry sequences shot with the Lensbaby to simulate waking from a coma. With this lens, I can reduce a subject to an abstract of color, blur, form, and implied motion by bending, pushing, and pulling the accordion-like body of the lens. It’s easy to turn an ordinary object into a compelling image!"

LiveScribe Pen

Wayne Schulz, Consultant, Schulz Consulting, LLC

"Until I purchased the LiveScribe pen I had a lot of trouble remembering what happened during meetings. Sure, I took notes – but often I’d get so caught up in the discussion that I’d forget to keep writing ...

The LiveScribe solves that. With a built-in audio recorder and a small image-sensing camera, this handy pen not only captures what you’ve written but matches an image of the page with the audio. You can dock your pen and upload an image of all the notes you made (complete with the audio). This gizmo is perfect for anyone who sits in a lot of meetings. The cost is $249.99 and it’s available at livescribe.com."

iPhone 3G

Wayne Schulz, Consultant, Schulz Consulting, LLC

"I was one of the nuts who waiting in the blazing sun for three hours to buy an iPhone 3G when it was launched, and I’d do it all again in a second.

This phone is a winner for the great screen, ease of browsing websites, and the 100,000+ applications available that make your iPhone run more like a small computer than any smartphone I’ve ever seen.

The cost of service is only a little higher than a comparable phone on another carrier. My must-have applications include Evernote (note taking), Todo (integrate wirelessly to toodledo.com task management), MyNetDiary (calorie counter), and Facebook."

The IronKey Flash Drive: Military-Strength Protection for Client Data

Mark Torello, General Partner, The Technology Group

"This is by far the best $100 I have spent this year. Not just because it looks cool and holds a lot of data, but because it allows us to transfer client data without breaking the law. If you haven’t heard, Connecticut’s new state law, effective October 1, 2008, requires businesses to protect information they have on others from misuse. [Editor’s Note: See page 12 of this issue for more on the new law]. I bet that you or one of your fellow employees are carrying around a client’s QuickBooks database (and maybe more) on an unencrypted flash drive right now. These fall out of pockets every day; quite easily, I might add.

The flash drive looks like something from a James Bond movie in its brushed aluminum casing, but what is even more impressive is that it contains a built-in chip that encrypts the data on it and initiates a self-destruct program if 10 failed attempts to hack the password are made.

Considered to be the world’s most secure flash drive, IronKey now offers anti-malware and virus protection. This is in response to recent malware infestations on government computers. It is even possible to disable lost or stolen devices remotely from a central management console (with the Enterprise version).

The IronKey device comes in two flavors. The 'personal' ironically has a few more features than the 'business' version, including secure website access via a built-in Firefox web browser and a password management/storage for automated sign-on convenience.

Available in 1GB to 8GB versions ranging from $79 to $299, I bought IronKeys for all my field staff as soon as they came out. I recommend every CPA firm consider the risk they face keeping and transporting client data and develop a program to address it. While this needs to include laptops, wireless devices, and related policies, encrypting data taken on the road via a flash drive would be a great first step."