S1:E2 Melanie Radcliff, CPA – Podcast

Todays episode is with Melanie Radcliff, President of Radcliff CPA. Melanie is both an accountant and a financial advisor, so she has a much more holistic approach to things like accounting, tax planning, and investments.

Melanie was kind enough to sit down with me two weeks before April 15th, and we discuss not only small business accounting such as the difference in profits and cash flow, but of the importance of Star Trek and The Jerk.

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Radcliff CPA

Movies:
The Jerk:  He Hates These Cans!  Navin R. Johnson, typical bastard (yeah I said typical asshole in the podcast – I have thought that was the quote for decades!)
Star Trek:
Star Trek versus Star Wars;  Star Trek: Kirk meets Uhura – Bar Fight
Why is the Rum Gone?

How to Distinguish Profits from Cash Flow

How to Calculate Inventory Turnover Ratio

Favorite Latino Restaurants: Rolando’s  and El Lorito

Disclaimer:

“Opinions expressed are those of the speaker(s), Melanie Radcliff and Tom Kirkham and are not endorsed by the Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. or its affiliates.  All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy.  Neither the named broker dealer, nor its affiliates offer tax or legal services.  Certain Statements contained within are forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, statements that are predictions of or indicated future events, trends, plans or objectives.  Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties.  Radcliff Financial Group, Inc. is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.  Advisory services offered through Summit Financial Group, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  **Tom Kirkham is not an employee of Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.”

Security and Privacy as a Lifestyle – SPaaL

SPaaL – Dontcha just love all the acronyms?

This is one of the most important posts I have ever scribed.

Remaining secure and private in this world is something that I take very seriously – you should too. You don’t have to be an executive at a Fortune 500 company or even a small business owner. The fact is, everyone should take security and privacy seriously.

In the hacker world, there are “white hats” and “black hats”. White hats are the good guys – or ethical hackers – and work to secure our banks, defense and corporate networks. Black hats are the bad guys, and hack mostly for profit. In between are the ones that make political statements – think Anonymous or Edward Snowden.

While really good hackers have skills that take years to master, casual computer users with just a fundamental knowledge of computers and networks can be hackers. Tools are available here and here. Tools to hack are built-in to your computer’s operating system. You can even do it by just buying your way into the business.

By far, most of the unethical hacking is done automatically, at scale. Like millions. Malware is emailed through spam or placed on a legitimate websites (none are beyond being hacked). Visit the website or open the email, and bingo, you’ve just been hacked. Whether it ends up holding your data hostage or configuring your computer to spew spam, or whatever, it is making the creators money. It really has nothing to do with your personal data – the hackers are operating at a scale that is all about numbers. In other words, if you think that no one would be interested in your data, or that you have nothing to hide, that is irrelevant to hackers. In fact, they are counting on you to use poor security and privacy methods to continue to stay in business. And yes, it is a business – a HUGE business. This article at Info-Security Magazine references a 2014 McAfee report that “estimates the cost to the global economy from cybercrime at anywhere from $375bn to $575bn a year. These figures, the researchers point out, actually exceed the national incomes of many countries.”

See what I mean when I talk about “scale” in malware?

So what I’ve discovered is that when discussing these issue with people, whether business owners or individuals, most people’s eyes glaze over, then something like “I would love to protect myself and others, but it is a such a hassle to use good security” falls out of their mouth.

My response is “SO WHAT?” It’s a hassle to first get used to wearing a seatbelt. It’s a hassle to buy and pay for insurance. It’s a hassle to register to vote. Get over it, and start living the SPaaL lifestyle. Oops, that was redundant. I guess I didn’t plan my acronym out properly. That’s kinda like PIN number. I digress.

But it is a change of mindset. Being frustrated over using a password manager such as LastPass is understandable, but it’s a necessary evil. In fact, every time I use it I am thinking of all the times that I have prevented wide-scale infections or data breaches on my computer.

It is a commitment to dedicate yourself to the pain – the pain in setting up and using a VPN, having to generate and store secure passwords, etc. But you must. Until we all do this, the scourge will remain. It MUST be a lifestyle change.

Install and USE LastPass. Make all your passwords unique. Turn on Two Factor Authentication, or TFA (most times, you can set all your devices to not require the TFA if the site recognizes the device – this way if someone else uses it, they are the ones that have to use TFA).

By all means, make sure your email addresses use unique passwords, not shared with any other site, because once your email address is hackable, so is your bank account and any other site that is tied to that email address, because email access is the key for password resets.

Other Security Reading

If you think you have nothing to hide, 1) send me all your email addresses and passwords, then 2) watch this. Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters.

If your organization thinks that HIPAA compliance and PHI is not worth the hassle, read this. “We’re not in this for the money. We want to help put a plan together to bring you into compliance, while you’re paying your fine.” – Office of Civil Rights

If you think security is not important to your business, read this on Kirkham Systems.

Looking for Cord-Cutters for Upcoming Episode

cordcuttingTBC Podcast is looking for experienced cord-cutters to ask questions about their experiences with doing away with cable. We are expecially interested in the over-50 crowd (and that includes me) that have done away with traditional cable television and live on the web. Besides technical questions, we are especially interested in how has changing your viewing habits affected your leisure time? Do you have more free time for other hobbies or work? Do you watch more or less educational or quality programming? Have you saved any money?

Let us know – send you emails to tom <at> tbcpodcast <.> com or on social media.

Tips – The End of Uber As We Know It?

cabsI hate cabs. The end of the ride was always uncomfortable. Digging a credit card or cash out of my pocket, then mentally figuring out a tip is unnecessary and frequently uncomfortable. And then, the frequently higher fares.

Uber came along and streamlined this process and made it almost a joy. Once I summon an Uber, that’s it. I know where the car is and how long before it arrives. I know when it arrives. I get in the car, and the driver already knows the destination. At the end of the ride, there is no worrying about finalizing the transaction with grubby cash or clumsy credit card transactions. You simply get out of the car. It’s like getting a ride from a buddy.

Clean, friendly, and frictionless. No need to be crass with money.

Or, at least that’s what Uber led me to believe.

But then I discovered this. Drivers get to rate the passengers. I always thought that if when I unexpectantly throw up in an Uber, my other more frequent uses where I am a normal, friendly citizen would at least keep me in that 4+ star rating. What Uber doesn’t tell you – and won’t – is that the drivers can solicit tips, and some are penalizing you for not tipping.

Now, a new ruling means that drivers can place signs in their cars informing passengers that tips are not included. It might as well say “if you don’t tip me, expect a poor rating, and no Uber driver will ever pick you up again except for the serial killer Uber drivers.”

This almost kills the deal for me. Might as well use Lyft. At least Lyft’s app has a way to add a tip, and that’s a whole lot easier than with the cab’s credit card machine or grubby cash.

Not saying I will not use Uber anymore, but it just lost one of it’s very appealing features. I don’t want to get on a soapbox about the entire cockamamie tipping system, but the idea of the driver being passenger rated that works so well in other businesses like ebay, AND being paid enough to not require tips is a much better system.

Uber appears to being trying to blaze a trail against the tipping system, albeit self-servingly. But right now, the tipping is so ingrained in our society – in spite of it being a remarkable tax avoidance and wage paying-shifting scheme – it is almost considered a right.

And this presumed right will hurt Uber.