We are all Big Brother, and We are all Watching

It’s 5:15 PM and I hear that dreaded unmistakable klaxon signaling my doom. I look at the caller ID and my fear is confirmed. “Hi honey” I start to say hoping to defuse the situation but I have to speak more and tell her that I won’t home for dinner. She informs me of her disappointment, that this has happened too much this week but she says her good-byes. I try to focus on my computer, trying to recall where I was.  My manager comes by, “She’s really upset with you lately, maybe you should go home and I’ll let Brenda work on this.” I smile at her and thank her for understanding. As I’m walking to my car, wondering if I should pick up flowers, I wonder – “How did my manager know she was upset with me?”

Big data is crossing into every corner of business. Recent developments have the computer search transcripts of sales conversations, diagramming the sentences to determine a persons tone and if they were being aggressive. The implications, however, go further than sales calls. Many firms are establishing departments to monitor insider threats.  These monitor employees emails, social media and telephone communications for information leakage but also a person’s demeanor. If one is found to be too aggressive or too forthcoming they can be re-trained or terminated.

[The group monitors] for ethical and compliance violations by its employees… monitors the incoming and outgoing email traffic of particular groups or individuals. The purpose is “to understand if we have a high-risk area that we need to look into”.

These systems are also looking for patterns in other ways. For example by monitoring if certain systems are queried more often than others. This might indicate a hacker has targeted this information. The fact a query has been made is more significant than the actual query itself.

Does big data mean we should stay off of our phones? Does it mean we should avoid social media? These are questions that are difficult to answer but the most logical approach to use common sense and always follow your companies guidelines for handling information. Is this too Orwellian for you? Let me know in the comments.

Source: Big Data, Smaller Risk

Prioritize your way to victory 

Work-life balance isn’t easy to achieve. Many days we’ll leave the office felling like very little was accomplished with the “work” time and thus feel compelled to spend the “life” time  making up for the work. Time management techniques can help us better use our work day to be effective.

No matter what your role, work in accounting comes in waves. If you’re a tax professional your wave is first quarter, if your CRE counter like myself, your wave depends on your client’s cutoff, and so on. One simple step is to list out all of the tasks on your plate. This gives you a visual representation of what’s on your plate and knowing what needs to be done. is the first step to getting these things done.

Learning to do just that has helped Michael Elliott, CPA, a partner with Dittrick and Associates in the Cleveland area and a graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy. Like Deshayes, he is married with a young child, and has another on the way. “My wife has to listen to me go home every night and say, ‘I didn’t get anything done!’” he said. “She’d say, ‘Well, did you make a list?’” Simply writing out his top priorities for the week, Elliott said, has helped him get a better handle on his work.

Through setting priorities and then focusing on tasks in order you can leave your office, or shutoff your computer knowing you’ve made a dent and have carried the good fight. Now let’s get stuff done.

Time management tips for CPAs via AICPA

The old Circuit City become possessed.  

You see it every day on your way to work. That vacant storefront. What used to be your favorite CircuitCity is now just an eyesore. Only today as you drive past something catch’s your eye. A bright banner fluttering against the facade. The store has been given a new purpose, albeit a temporary one, selling Halloween costumes.

in the spirit of Halloween, Spirit Halloween stores take a temporary hold of vacant storefronts to satisfy the most temporary of market demands. Their orginzation ramps up from a few hundred to over 20,000 in just a few months. Coordinating these efforts requires a whole year of planning.

Employees scout for locations throughout the year…Merchandise starts rolling into Spirit Halloween’s warehouses in May. By the summer, sites have been chosen, and by mid-August, the stores are prepped to receive the goods. Trucks start arriving, and the locations go from bare walls and floors to racks and shelves bursting with costumes, accessories, props and home decor.

These temporary stores are huge money makers. Operating them is akin to a military operation. And this is a boutique as boutique CRE can get. Will these ad-hoc stores be the future of brick and mortar retail?

Source: Real estate zombies: shuttered stores return to life for Halloween – The Boston Globe

With Great Performance Brings Great Productivity (or at Least Could)

Computer running slow? Well there are thousands if not millions of articles that offer advice on how to fix that. However they generally boil down to the same three or four steps. They are clear temp files, empty recycling bin, add more ram, install updates and more in that same vein.

This article goes a bit further and offers some unconventional advice. Hiding unused fonts, physically cleaning the case (to help the computer run cooler) and even assigning a static IP to cut down on time waiting for the computer to find one. In one way this article can be seen as a comprehensive guide to performance tips.

Also interesting, the author offers a practical benchmark to see if your system is up to par.

To quickly test its performance, simply reboot the system and then launch Excel and a browser. If the system reboots in less than a minute and the applications launch in less than two seconds each, then your system’s performance is adequate; otherwise, perhaps you should consider implementing some of the measures outlined below to rejuvenate the computer’s performance.

High performance doesn’t guarantee productivity, however, it prevents hindrances to it. If you don’t find your system up to snuff go ahead and try some of the suggestions in this article. With your computer at full performance you’ll be equipped to deliver your best work product.



Source: Boost your computer’s performance