APPLE'S MOUNTAIN LION
Brian McLaughlin, CEO and chief technology officer at Redtail Technology, captivated the audience at the Business & Wealth Management Forum in Denver (of which I'm a co-producer) with an overview of Apple's Mountain Lion operating system.
Among the key features McLaughlin talked up was AirPlay, a technology that allows you to wirelessly stream content to an HDTV from a Mac via Apple TV, a tiny, portable $100 device.
He also discussed the Notification Center, which resides on the right side of the screen and can be hidden when not needed. This is a unified center for alerts generated by such applications as Mail, Calendar and Reminders. Users need to modify their settings to customize Notification Center. They can also customize other features, such as the type of alert each app will use and the amount of alert history to be displayed. McLaughlin noted that Apple does not yet allow developers to integrate their own alerts with the Notification Center.
TIPS FOR MAC USERS
Many in the audience were interested in backup options for Macs. McLaughlin uses ChronoSync, a $40 program that can both back up files and synchronize them across multiple devices. McLaughlin also wrote his own app, which allows him to back up his files to Amazon S3, a cloud-based storage solution. He says that ChronoSync can work for advisors who want to back up to another hard drive or synchronize with it.
One advantage it has over Apple's Time Machine is that backups created by ChronoSync are bootable, which means you can run a Mac directly from the backup. For those looking for a simple cloud-based backup solution for Mac, he mentioned Carbonite as a possible solution.
McLaughlin offered a host of other tips. Among them: Novices who have trouble locating an app can usually find it through LaunchPad, which displays all apps in a fashion similar to that of the iPad and the iPhone.
Also, Mountain Lion's powerful search capabilities can be accessed by pressing the control key and the spacebar simultaneously, causing the Spotlight search window to appear. This window can be customized so that it searches only the file types you want to search. You can also change the order, so it first searches the file types you access most often. Spotlight can also perform math calculations and provide entry to Google searches.
Another timely technology session at the forum was the presentation by Robert Powell of Laser App Software about electronic signatures. Powell told the audience that e-signatures are necessary to enable the straight-through processing of new account forms, account transfers and the like. He also provided an overview of the laws that authorized e-signatures: the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999 and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, which is also known as the E-Sign Act.
The E-Sign Act bars the rejection of electronic signatures if the denial is based solely on the fact that the signature is electronic, Powell said. He also examined the different types of electronic signatures and the four major e-signature providers: DocuSign, Adobe EchoSign, SigniX and Topaz Systems.
The big news out of the Advent- Connect Conference in Las Vegas was the rollout of Advent's new technology plan, dubbed the EnterprisePlus Cloud Strategy. The company's hybrid approach offers Advent customers cloud and mobility functionality without requiring them to forgo their existing server/desktop software installations.
The goal is to provide a unified cross-platform experience to users of various Advent products. If successful, this strategy will allow the firm to update some of the functionality of Advent products more rapidly with a cloud-based replacement. It will also allow Advent to extend some of the functionality products like APX and Geneva to the iPad and other mobile devices.
In addition, Advent made it clear that it is seeking integration partners in areas outside of its core competency, such as CRM and financial planning.
Peter Hess, the president and CEO of Advent Software, acknowledged some mistakes in the past with regard to Advent's positioning in the RIA space, but vowed to correct them. "When I walked into the Technology Tools for Today Conference in February of 2010, I realized that there was a whole RIA ecosystem that we were unaware of," he says. "That was one of the factors that led to the Black Diamond acquisition. We are totally committed to the RIA market, and we are totally committed to regaining credibility with RIAs." [Full disclosure: I'm a co-producer of the conference.]