Archive for category General

Excel/Windows: Change default date display format

By default, the “short date” display format for Windows (and thus Excel) is “M/d/yyyy.” For example, June 1, 2011 would be displayed as 6/1/2011. For varying reasons, you may want to zero-fill your dates and have June 1, 2011 read as 06/01/2011. Doing this actually involves a Windows setting, not an Excel setting. So, be prepared to have your dates displayed accordingly across the whole operating system and many other programs.

To change the default date format in Windows:

  1. Go to Start –> Control Panel and select “Regional Settings” or “Region and Language,” depending on your operating system.
  2. In the Short date format list, select the desired format:
    SS-2011.06.01-20.29.12
  3. Click OK.

Now, unless the dates in Excel were formatted using the format menu, they should now display as you’ve defined them.

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Windows 7 and Vista: Quick screen zoom with keyboard shortcut

imageThis tip is courtesy this Lifehacker post and applies to all Windows 7 and Vista users. There may be times when zooming in on a program or item on the screen is desirable. In my daily life, I often zoom in when I am showing something on my screen to another person. These keyboard shortcuts make it really quick and easy to zoom in and out using the Magnifier tool in Windows 7 and Vista:

  • Windows key and + will zoom in in 100% increments
  • Windows key and – will zoom back out

With the Magnifier tool up, the following shortcuts are available, according to Lifehacker:

  • CTRL + L to bring up the lens display view
  • CTRL + D to dock the magnification area.
  • CTRL + F brings you back to the full screen mode.

For many other applications (regardless of your Windows version):

If I am using Word, Excel, Acrobat, or any number of other applications, I use CTRL + scroll wheel to zoom in and out of a document. This shortcut does not work on ALL programs, but it is very useful when it does.

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Adobe Acrobat: Be very careful with confidential information in PDF files

As CPAs, we often deal with confidential information, and hopefully our IT departments have implemented safeguards to protect against such information getting into the wrong hands. What they cannot protect against, however, is the accidental sharing of information that you thought was hidden.

Glitch leaves Obama info out in open

The news article linked above refers to a “glitch” that allowed a PDF with blacked-out text to be fully readable. A reader of the document simply selected the text, including the blacked-out text, copied it, and pasted it into another program. What is referred to as a “glitch” in the article was probably just an uninformed use of the highlighter tool in Acrobat.

As shown below, the highlighter tool can be used to black out text when the color is changed to black:

image

The problem is, the text can still be selected, copied, and pasted as if it were never obscured in the first place. Although reprinting the document to PDF leaves the text not-selectable, it will still be faintly visible:

image

If you need to share a document that contains confidential information:

  1. Determine if the document needs to be shared in the first place.
  2. Don’t rely on Acrobat’s (or any other program for that matter) built-in tools that appear to do the job.
  3. Try printing the document to paper, blacking out text with a marker, and scanning the document back in.
  4. If you are unsure, consult with a tech savvy supervisor or a member of the IT department to determine any potential vulnerability before sending to a third party.

Above all, keep in mind the potential damaging effects of sharing information that should not have been shared, especially by accident.

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Quickbooks: I need recommendations!

I don’t use Quickbooks very often, which is why you won’t see many, if any, posts about it. However, I know a lot of CPAs that do use it. I would like someone to recommend some good sites that have Quickbooks tips and tricks. In the comments below, please share with the readers your favorite sites.

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Notepad: Neat trick for creating log files

You can decide what this trick can be used for. Conversation logs? Personal diary? It’s up to you.

  1. Open a blank Notepad file: Go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories –> Notepad.
  2. Type “.LOG” (without quotes) and hit ENTER.
    SS-2010.08.05-10.06.07
  3. Save the file and close it.
  4. Open the file again and notice that Notepad appends the current date and time to the end of the file:
    SS-2010.08.05-10.08.48

Type your notes, conversation details, or deep, dark secrets. Every time you re-open the file it will add the current date and time.

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CPAs: Send me your tech questions!

question_mark

I admit I don’t always know what tips I should spend time writing about. Some of the things I do are without thinking, like second nature. Some of the things I know I believe to be common knowledge. Both of those realities prevent me from truly sharing the tips and tricks that CPAs really need. So I need people to ask me the questions!

Where did I get such a crazy idea? WordPress allows me to see the search terms that lead people to my site. Sometimes the terms are precisely matched to a post of mine, while others seem to be asking a question I have not yet answered. Ultimately, I want this blog to be a destination where all of those questions will be answered.

Click on the “Submit Your Question” tab above or click here to submit a topic/question.

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Mobile Monitor Technologies: Field Monitor Pro follow up

I just got off the phone with the CEO of Mobile Monitor Technologies. Apparently he had read my review of the Field Monitor Pro and wanted to follow up on some of my criticisms. These days it’s easy to feel like the words I write are simply flung into the void, left to wander aimlessly through the fog of indifference. Luckily, I was reassured today that there is at least one company out there that cares about their customers’ thoughts and criticisms in an honest and constructive way. I can’t share any information about what may or may not be coming from MMT in the future, but I do believe they are taking the right steps to ensure their products will be innovative and responsive to their users’ needs.

So let this be a lesson to all companies that encounter criticism out here in the void: confront it head-on. Don’t try to squash it, hide it, or deny it. Firms that get a bitter taste in their mouth from critical feedback will have a hard time hiding their bad breath when they lash out.

And no, this follow up was not paid-for (or threatened-for) in any way by MMT.

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