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Good news: the CICA lowered CA fees for 2013-2014
There's a small decrease in the professional fees you or your firm is paying for the privilege of calling yourself a Chartered Accountant: the full member fee for 2013-2014 came out to be $22.60 lower than the $1107.40 that was charged last year. Savings of 2%. The total fee is still a hefty $1084.80 including taxes, and breaks down to $520 paid to Ontario's ICAO, $440 paid to the overall Canadian CICA, and $124.80 in HST, and it represents the "on time" payment amount - late fees of $100 extra are charged if you pay after June 1, 2013. The ICAO kindly explained that the savings are courtesy of a $20 decrease in the CICA portion of the fee. At least CAs can't complain about rising fees this year. Curmudgeons are welcome, however, to scoff at the following warning message that is plastered on the bottom of the ICAO's website. " The ICAO website is optimized using Microsoft's Internet Explorer and it's use is strongly recommended to ensure that all...
Don't be too proud to admit you've made a mistake
It's good to be proud of your work. If you've done a good job, you can take pleasure in the fact that it's error free. And yet, people may say things like, "are you sure you didn't double-count those items?" You may be 100% correct in saying, "of course I didn't," with a self-righteous huff. That doesn't mean you should , though. Let's assume that you are in fact correct. Rather than scorn those who are helping you by examining your work to avoid embarassing mistakes, thank them for their concern and interest. Then let's assume that the people asking you are very knowledgeable, and they aren't just asking the question to give you a hard time. Now stop and ask yourself, "why are they asking me this?" Is it, perhaps, because your work may in fact be entirely correct, but you didn't present your thought process in a very clear and logical manner? Are you hiding some important facts or assumptions which cause people to second...
Turning it up to 8: if you're going to make something easy to use and intuitive, don't hide the power button
Make sure your staff know how to demonstrate all the features customers may expect. I've installed Windows 8 out of an insane sense of adventure, and it's running better than you'd expect . "Dip & Squeeze? Pick one, jerks!" What sold me on it was the fantastic $15 upgrade price, for people who recently bought a Windows 7 system. I was planning on dual-booting both Windows 7 and 8 in case things went horribly wrong. Well the installer was so "user friendly" I didn't even find the option to install the dual-boot version, and before you knew it, I was running version 8. Happily enough, the installation was very smooth, no data was lost, and it was time to sleep. Except that I wanted to find the "shut down" command. Hitting my computer's physical power button would've worked, but I wanted to find the "software" method. It was late and I was tired, and it was nowhere obvious, so a quick Google search revealed that the quick...
Posted: Oct 31 2012, 08:06 PM by Krupo | with no comments
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Who designed this election site's security?
In a fascinating way to mess with you, the designers of the proxy voting site for the 2012 Council Election added the "back" button on the final page. Just in case you left the voting booth and had a change of heart. Wow, that's just weird. At least you can request an e-mail confirmation that the results were registered according to your wishes. I do find the level of security kind of "Mickey Mouse," though, to use a technical term - especially how you can go back and reload the page with your control ID in the URL to change your vote. I do hope no one in the back office has access to the Control numbers that are used to unlock the individual ballots! And that voters aren't using a shared computer that would offer other users a chance to go back to that site by simply using the browser history.
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 11:46 PM by Krupo | with no comments
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Atrocities of learning confuse and infuriate Chartered Accountants
Something that helped me immensely when I was preparing for the CKE , and should be helpful to anyone taking a multiple choice test designed by halfwits, was to realize that the test was probably designed by someone who wasn't thinking things through very much. Reading too much into a question is a recipie for anguish and anger. If you make it all the way through this rant you'll pick up a tip that will prove invaluable on your next multiple choice test. Yes, you may be right when presented with all the possible exceptions to a scenario, but in an ordinary multiple choice question, go with the answer they're "looking for" rather than the answer that shows off how smart you are. It's sad but true: learning more facts and gaining more knowledge than expected of you can actually end up harming you, when you're presented what the test writer would consider to be a "simple" question. Right lane, left lane : right answer, left answer. Step away from the...
Professional criticism: the ICAO Unification Microsite
Let's all take a moment to gather around the warm glow of our monitors and study Wikipedia's insights into the concept of a microsite . Now let's study the ICAO Unification Microsite. You don't have to click away, I'll give you a screenshot: What exactly is wrong here? There are both technical and semiotic issues at play in their use of the word "Microsite" and how they've deployed it on this page. The quote "I do not think that word means what you think it means" comes ot mind as you scroll around. I don't claim to be a hugely skilled web designer, despite having built a couple of websites from scratch, but you would think introductory text of some nature would appear. Instead you see a map of Canada that doesn't do much to support the idea of "Unification" by making Ontario pop out with a golden glow, followed by a rack of size links, four very short news clips, and two "upcoming events". Compare this to a list of...
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 06:59 AM by Krupo | with no comments
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No I won't post your "fun design for fellow accountants," and I'll tell you why
I received an e-mail inviting me to give free marketing to someone who put a lot of effort into a cute cartoon explaining the job prospects for accounting students. I'm responding publically because I can: I won't do link to your graphic, because you ignored who I am and what I do. Your cartoon is about the US market, and about the American CPA designation. This is a Canadian blog, and I when I do get around to writing, it's typically about living life with the CA designation. That's Chartered Accountant, not "certified accountant." I may sometimes also venture towards the CMA and CGA, and the ongoing idea of creating a Canadian CPA designation, all worthy topics among the many that I should write more about. But I typically leave the American CPA to people who specialize in that sort of thing . Sorry to be so harsh about it, but you work for an accounting exam website, so you asked for it: if writing an e-mail to me could be tortuously contorted into a kind UFE...
All the tablets are back on sale: the Playbook is back, 32GB is on sale for $249 this weekend
Good news! Especially if you were on the fence about getting a Playbook when it went on sale last month, hemmed and hawed, and then realized it was too late to order one, only to find out you could still get one from Shopblackberry.com, just to endure a cycle of cancellation, re-ordering, more cancellation, frustration with a coda of "well, you can mail us a cheque and then we'll send you one." Ridiculous. Fortunately Future Shop, Best Buy, and presumably other fine retailers have it online for their Boxing Day sales, which started last night already. $249 for a Playbook, which I can use to easily sahre the photos I took the with 5 megapixel camera on my phone? Works for me. Better than the $20 off sale for the $499 Apple tablet - there's many good things about the iOS and iPad products, including legendary customer service, but affordability isn't one of them. I'd rather pay less and solve problems myself, no matter how insane. Merry Christmas to all!
Posted: Dec 25 2011, 02:57 PM by Krupo | with no comments
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We paid $300,000 for KPMG to tell us to stop putting flouride in the water, and find other '5% savings.' Wow.
The newest gem to land in Toronto's lap is a report on where services can be cut back to save money - you can read the report yourself here - the city has kindly posted the PDF for all to see . According to NOW Magazine, the report cost $300,000 , which suggests a 1000 hour job if the consultants charged about $300 an hour to do the work. That's just a wild guesstimate, but scale the hours and hourly rate accordingly based on how much work you think it took to put this report together. It's not surprising, if NOW's math is to be correct, that only $15 million of savings has been identified, however, considering the majority of the findings in the report are in the "low" savings category, which means it'll save us 5% or less. Did the consultants correctly identify the risk associated with publishing a report where they were going to draw the ire of everyone from cyclists to dentists? Who angers dentists, seriously ? Candy companies. And global consultancies...
Another reason bridal registries are a disaster
Bridal registries make no sense. I'm going to ignore most of the economics argument, though if you're never thought about it, consider this: at a typical department store, markups can easily be 100 to 300% over the cost of the given item. Forcing everyone to pay a giant markup for something you can get online for much cheaper? Silly. The reason we'll point out today is that the infrastructure to manage these things are insane. The excellent IT Audit Security blog has an article on this topic . Read it. Here a sample. Rather than being my elusive bridal shopping list, the pages were a list of receipts of purchases that others had made from the kiosk. I saw people’s names, product purchased, and the last 4 digits of all the credit card numbers. At that point, I noticed the kiosk had a credit card reader, touch pad, and the red glow of a UPC laser scanner. This wasn’t just a bridal registry kiosk. You may also be pleased to note that there are default passwords in use on many...
Posted: Feb 10 2011, 09:12 PM by Krupo | with no comments
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Canada's internet access nightmare
Thanks to the duopoly of Rogers and Bell, the CRTC has allowed usage based billing to kick in (link to the official decision) . The first casualty? The refuge of choice, Teksavvy, had to cut their unlimited DSL plans down to a 25GB cap, or face what I presume would be financial disaster. I saw the news yesterday, and hopped onto their DSL service offerings page to confirm the news . For now, the Teksavvy cable internet service retains the higher 200GB cap - and an option for unlimited service too. Hopefully they don't lose that option as these shenanigans unfold. More detailed coverage of this gong show is available on stopthecap.com . It's sad that this slow-moving train wreck has been on the radar of techies for well over a year, but this was still allowed to go through. I predict this'll become a toxic political football for any politician foolhardy enough to support. Edit: oh look, Youmano , based in Montreal, seems to be thumbing their nose at the CRTC. Let's hope...
Posted: Jan 30 2011, 08:46 PM by Krupo | with 1 comment(s)
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Orange, another orange, and pink: PwC rebrands
If there's anything Chartered Accountants excel at, it's more than just numbers. It's unsolicited design critique. Really PwC? Your alumni are in shock . PriceWaterhouseCoopers has completed their rebranding as of yesterday, and people who work for, used to work for, or simply associate with PwC are scratching their heads at the rebranding that just came through. Before we get to the colours, check out the video on their home page. Let me know how hard you cringe. It's great fun to watch the senior executive at the 0:55 mark stating that PwC is "building relationships, enhancing value". Their new slogan is "Building relationships, creating value." The caption on the screen even says "creating value." I'm curious to know: did they want to be "cool" and show a related word for "creating," or did they goof, have him record the wrong line, and decided to go with it anyway and hoped no one would notice? I mean really, how...
Writing a good cover letter and resume to join the Big 4 is easy - iff you want to
As promised in my last post , I can share with you some personal thoughts regarding how I prepared my cover letters and resume. It obviously worked for me, because I got hired - partially on the strength of my unusually long cover letter, weighing in at two pages. It also "worked" for me in the sense that I'm still at the firm, enjoying my job a half decade later - wow, a half decade - and I continue to encourage people to join, if they're into the Chartered Accountant in general, or the CISA in addition to that if they want to work in my particular specialized field. Before I get all deep and philosophical about getting into this line of work, I recognize that you may just want a quick technical answer. If you want that, google "resume guide" or "cover letter guide" - I'm sure you'll find something useful. You'll even get some more "technical" thoughts below the illustration, but first some thoughts for people wondeirng what...
G20 Saturday: Violent Rumble
I missed out on the madness downtown today. I followed it on my phone, but missed all the live TV footage which no doubt justifiably enraged my friends. I did catch stills like this one which from a local Toronto photographer show why the city was on edge all week long. It's perhaps best I wasn't around - I could've had my camera smacked down to the ground by an imported officer from Peel region. Of course he might've been on edge - not sure if this was before or after one of those police cars was set on fire. The you'll "be on Youtube" response, while accurate, was rather snarky to the point of inviting an assault. Not justifying, of course - this is clearly a criminal offence by a police officer. Also freakish: random arrest videos by plainclothes officers. I should point out that some well-meaning people naively claim that when store windows got smashed in, the "peaceful" protesters should've taken action to stop the anarchists and ne'er...
Failures of multitasking
I could probably come up with an extensive series of articles on how, although multi-tasking is awesome, there are so many glorious ways to fail at it. Or one long article with many examples. I'll settle for shooting off one quick example instead. Consider a busy day, where your computer is chugging because of some new security patch getting automatically downloaded. You go to open one window in your database program. It takes some time. So you're sitting there, waiting for it to finish loading. Getting impatient and thinking, "I'll just work on this other file in the meantime." Half an hour later that other file might be done. And maybe you've taken some phone calls. Perhaps gotten a fresh coffee. Checked out the silly headlines. Oh look, not enough Obama in town. What will Chicago ever do? And the Flavia sourced coffee is rancid as ever. You're back at your computer, the window has loaded in the database program. You have no idea why it's open, so you...
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