Category Archives for "Technology"

Jun 20

Three Ways to Increase Your Recall (and Look Smart)

By Charles Hall | Technology

Is it possible to recall everything said in a meeting and remember every word for years? Well actually, yes.

Here are three ways to increase your recall.


Take your notes using a Livescribe pen, and take pictures with your smartphone of whatever you desire to retain. Then store the data in Evernote. It’s that simple.

The Livescribe pen records audio in conjunction with your notes. After the session, touch a word in your notes and the audio will play at that point in the conversation, allowing you to hear a select part of the discussion.

Use your smartphone to take snapshots of handouts or notes on a whiteboard. Use scanbot (an iPhone or android app) to take several pictures and then upload them.

Jun 10

The Minimalist Auditor

By Charles Hall | Auditing , Technology

Are you a minimalist auditor?

I remember when I would load my audit files on a hand-truck (I’m not kidding), especially for local government audits. I felt like I worked for a moving company rather than a CPA firm.

My back is thankful for paperless software.

In the present age of minimalism, everything is smaller, even the audit gear we use. Scanners, monitors, cell phones, tablets, projectors–all are more compact. For the traveling auditor, this is like manna from heaven.

Let me suggest a few hardware and software ideas to lighten your load.

minimalist auditor

Courtesy of iStockphoto


Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

The weight is 4.9 pounds and the cost is $249.99. It has a ten-page document feeder.

If you want a lighter scanner with fewer features, try the ScanSnap S1100, weighing only 12.3 ounces. The cost is $169.99.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 CLR 600DPI USB Mobile Scanner (PA03610-B005)

Can’t spare the traveling space for a scanner? Or maybe you’d rather not spend the money? Buy the cell phone scanning app: Scanbot. The cost is $1.99. Scanbot is available on iPhones and Android phones. The app can scan multiple pages and will–once you tweak the settings–automatically feed output to a cloud product such as Evernote. Alternatively, you can email the scans.


I use a Dell laptop that has a ten-key pad built into the keyboard, so I don’t need a separate adding machine. I use Judy’s TenKey software; the cost is $19.95.

Cell Phone

Apple iPhone 6s

I use an iPhone 6S and love the feel and intelligence of this device. The battery life is substantial and the weight is 6 ounces. It fits in my pant’s pocket.


Most cell phone companies offer Internet hotspots. Since you probably already own a cell phone, there is no need for an additional physical device for an Internet connection. Check with your cell phone company about activating the hotspot. The cost will be about $30 per month.


Apple iPad mini MD529LL/A (32GB, Wi-Fi, Black)

I am an Apple fan, so you know I will recommend the iPad mini which can be purchased for as little as $279 (16GB model) on Amazon. The weight is less than 1 pound.


AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector, 95 Lumens, Pocket Size, Li-Ion Battery, HDMI, Media Player, 15,000 Hour LED, DLP Projector

The Pico Projector is pocket sized and, at $240, provides you with 125 lumens. The dimensions are 5.6 x 2.7 x 1.2 inches and it weighs 12.8 ounces.

Your Ideas?

How do you lighten your traveling load? Please share your ideas.

Mar 05

Is It Best for a CPA to Text, Email or Call?

By Charles Hall | Technology

A CPA called me today and left a message with a question. My first thought was to call him. If I phone him, one of the following happens:

  1. No answer and I play phone tag.
  2. He answers and wants to talk about other things.
  3. He answers, and I provide him with a response.

The first two possibilities are not good (if you are busy like I am–and I know you are).

Young and successful businessman

My next thought: I will text him. I did, and it took about 30 seconds.

With the options to text, email, or call, which is best? Let’s see.

I like to think of these choices as: a sprint, a run, or a walk.

Texting – A Sprint

If a client or firm member texts me, I will text back–as long as:

  • The response is short and
  • The response does not contain sensitive information

Why not just call or email the client or firm member?

In the middle of busy season, I’m looking for every moment I can save. Many times a text answers my client’s or firm member’s question–and I can do so in a timely manner (this is better than not responding at all because I’m too busy).

Emailing – A Run

When is email a better option?

Mainly when you need to send attachments. Emails take longer than texts but seem to work better–at least for me–when more than one or two short answers are necessary.

If you are emailing sensitive information, consider using a secure method such as ShareFile to do so. ShareFile offers an Outlook add-in that makes the transfer seamless.

Calling – A Walk

I call when the message is important or long.

We lose something in electronic communications. Our tone of voice and inflections say a great deal. Phone calls will usually take longer than texts or emails, but may be warranted if the issues are of high importance.

If my communication is lengthy (say more than three medium-sized points or one complicated issue), I usually opt for a phone call. If you are providing accounting, tax, or auditing advice, consider whether you need to document the phone conversation in a memo to your client’s file. I use a form that I’ve created for this purpose and keep it handy in my Evernote cloud account.


Sprint, run, or walk. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of your choice, it’s all about communicating clearly and timely. Oops sorry, got to go–someone is texting me.

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