Technology is on the mind of the CPAs visiting here as part of the American Institute of CPAs annual technology conference. This year, there's more to the equation, as the New York-based association has added a "plus" to its event name to demonstrate its intent to go deeper with information and perspective. Formally kicking off the conference Monday at the Mirage, after a series of optional sessions and roundtables the day before, David Cieslak, a partner at Arxis Technology Inc. in Simi Valley, Calif., and chair of the Tech+ AICPA Information Technology steering committee, said that they decided to "take this conference and strip it back to the walls." The sessions, he added, were intended to "provide a cookbook" of information to participants.

Randy Johnston, executive vice president of consulting firm  K2 Enterprises, presented a tech update for 2007 during his keynote address. His speech covered everything from laptop and desktop hardware and software, to monitors and printers and personal handheld devices.

His list of key technology initiatives for 2007 included the concept of virtualization -- "It's changing the way we're going to do servers," he said; Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 for PCs; "Blade servers," or self-contained computer servers designed for high density in small businesses; a new generation of laptop and desktop hardware; and continued use of USB drives and portable applications.

Johnston said that he saw spending trends on those purchasing technology slow down, as he anticipated, adding that workstations, printers and scanners were what CPAs should be investing in for the remainder of the year.

Bluetooth is still popular for laptop users, as it is currently in millions of devices, and for those investing in portable computers, a graphics memory and real, not shared, memory is critical for video use.

In the area of desktop computers, Blu-Ray -- a new generation of DVD -- is emerging as the standard. Johnston said to still look for Firewire, a high-speed USB, and expect to spend $3,500 for an upper-end desktop. He said that keyboards and computer mice that come with desktops are typically "junk," and to look at video gamers' equipment as suitable replacements.

Multiple monitors still help with work efficiency and speed, Johnston said, and monitor prices "are dropping like a rock." He predicted that in two years, many CPAs will be working from four monitors and four processors.

Speed is up and prices are also down for printers, according to Johnston, who also pointed out that using a copier as a scanner is usually a bad idea, because of what it does to a document's image size. He instead suggested using separate scanners.

He also touched upon the increase of identity theft; nearly 9 million people reported being victims in 2005, at an average loss of $6,000. To prevent this, Johnston suggests using encrypted USB flash drives to protect data.

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