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Accountants' online users' manual: lesson 3.



JOIN THE REVOLUTION

An information revolution is occurring, one that profoundly affects CPAs. It frees information from paper and puts it where it is needed most--on the screens of computer users. At the heart of this revolution is the World Wide Web (the Web), a medium that brings a vast wealth of information to your computer screen. This article guides you down some of the many avenues you can travel on your computer: the Internet, the Internet, the, international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises  Web, AICPA AICPA

See American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
 Online (the American Institute of CPAs Web site) and the AICPA Accountants Forum.

WHAT'S WHAT

The Internet. The Internet is a public communications system In telecommunication, a communications system is a collection of individual communications networks, transmission systems, relay stations, tributary stations, and data terminal equipment (DTE) usually capable of interconnection and interoperation to form an integrated whole. ; not owned by any entity, it is universally accessible and unregulated Adj. 1. unregulated - not regulated; not subject to rule or discipline; "unregulated off-shore fishing"
regulated - controlled or governed according to rule or principle or law; "well regulated industries"; "houses with regulated temperature"

2.
. It is a worldwide network of computers that communicate with each other over phone lines and fiber optic cables Noun 1. fiber optic cable - a cable made of optical fibers that can transmit large amounts of information at the speed of light
fibre optic cable

transmission line, cable, line - a conductor for transmitting electrical or optical signals or electric power
. The Internet itself is free. However, access to the Internet involves some costs, either what it costs you to build your own access or the fees you pay an Internet service provider Internet service provider (ISP)

Company that provides Internet connections and services to individuals and organizations. For a monthly fee, ISPs provide computer users with a connection to their site (see data transmission), as well as a log-in name and password.
 (ISP (1) See in-system programmable.

(2) (Internet Service Provider) An organization that provides access to the Internet. Connection to the user is provided via dial-up, ISDN, cable, DSL and T1/T3 lines.
) for access. The Internet is a very valuable tool for CPAs, enabling them to access business information from all corners of the earth. It provides CPAs with Securities and Exchange Commission filings, professional news, state CPA (Computer Press Association, Landing, NJ) An earlier membership organization founded in 1983 that promoted excellence in computer journalism. Its annual awards honored outstanding examples in print, broadcast and electronic media. The CPA disbanded in 2000.  society information, Internal Revenue Service information, software downloads, university research materials, currency exchange rates and legislative proceedings, just to name a few items available from this vast interactive library. Not only are these materials easily accessible from your computer but also they are free and available any hour of the day or night--and the volume keeps growing every day.

The World Wide Web. The Web is a part of the Internet (Internet and Web are terms used interchangeably INTERCHANGEABLY. Formerly when deeds of land were made, where there Were covenants to be performed on both sides, it was usual to make two deeds exactly similar to each other, and to exchange them; in the attesting clause, the words, In witness whereof the parties have hereunto  here). It is a communications network The transmission channels interconnecting all client and server stations as well as all supporting hardware and software.  in which users exchange text, graphics, databases and video. Users can create their own sites that other users can tap into to share data. Many users of the Web employ an ISP, such as Netcom or AT&T's Worldnet, to access the Internet. An ISP usually charges around $20 per month for unlimited access and often provides its customers with browsers.

AICPA Online. AICPA Online, the AICPA's Web site on the Internet, provides a wealth of information to the entire accounting profession. The Web enables the AICPA to deliver it electronically, 24 hours a day, to CPAs everywhere. You will find membership applications, dues schedules, daily accounting news alerts, AICPA press releases, exposure drafts, comment letters, AICPA team FAQs (frequently asked questions), state society addresses, phone and fax numbers and information for contacts, the member outreach contact list with e-mail links, the CPA Letter (available i0 days before the print version), selected articles from the Journal of Accountancy, links to other accounting and financial Internet resources, affinity program information and telephone numbers and feedback forms to send messages to specific AICPA teams.

Accountants Forum. The Accountants Forum is sponsored by the AICPA on the CompuServe network. (See "Accountants Forum Users' Manual: Lesson 1," JofA, Sept.95, page 97, and "Accountants Forum Users' Manual: Lesson 2," JofA, Dec.95, page 107.) CompuServe is a proprietary online service provider that bills subscribers $9.95 per month for unlimited basic services basic services,
n.pl frequently insurance companies split dental procedures into basic and major categories. Basic services usually consist of diagnostic, preventive, and routine restorative dental services.
 and $2.95 per hour for the Accountants Forum and all other extended services. CompuServe is not the same as an ISP; it is an online service provider that sells access to its own private CompuServe network. When you become a member of CompuServe, you gain access to thousands of user-supported forums in which you can communicate with your colleagues--such as in the Accountants Forum message sections--and where individuals can post questions. All of the private networks, such as Compuserve, American Online and Prodigy An online information service that provides access to the Internet, e-mail and a variety of databases. Launched in 1988, Prodigy was the first consumer-oriented online service in the U.S. , provide their users with access to the Internet. Members of Compuserve can click on GO AICPA (the green traffic light icon) to visit the Accountants Forum. For CompuServe subscriptions, call 1-800-849-8199 and ask for the AICPA package.

WHAT THE INTERNET OFFERS TO CPAs

Through the Internet CPAs have a new way to communicate with clients: They can deliver information viadmail, file tax returns and SEC forms electronically and create new services that can be delivered by computer (for an example, see "Small Firms Can Do Big Business Online," JofA, Oct.96, page 79). The Internet also enables CPAs to get information faster than before.

A number of technological advances have transformed the Web into a rapidly expanding communications medium with profound implications for CPAs and other professionals. The Web provides CPAs with new ways to market their services. A Web site is like a sales brochure that is never out-of-date. The Web site's owner can update information instantly whenever he or she wants.

ROAMING The ability to use a communications device such as a cellphone or PDA and be able to move from one cell or access point to another without losing the connection.  THROUGH THE WEB

One reason the Web has become so popular is its advanced navigation features. One of them--e-mail--saves users time and money when sending messages and files to other Internet users Internet user ninternauta m/f

Internet user Internet ninternaute m/f 
. Users can send e-mail messages and files to anyone with a computer quickly--and at little cost.

A second reason for the popularity of the Web is that information on it is easy to find and retrieve. The massive amount of content on the Web can be found by using search engines. The engines are available on the Web for free, and they enable you to locate the topics of your choice. A search engine is actually a Web site. The site has keyword lists of most Internet sites. When you use a search engine, you enter keywords on the topic you are seeking, such as tax forms or IRS An abbreviation for the Internal Revenue Service, a federal agency charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing internal revenue laws.  regulations. After entering the keywords and clicking on the "Search" or "Submit" button, you are presented with a list of Web sites that contain the keywords. For a complete list of search engines, visit www. search.com. For instance, when searching for "currency exchange rates" with Digital's Alta Vista See AltaVista.

(World-Wide Web) Alta Vista - A World-Wide Web site provided by Digital which features a very fast Web and Usenet search engine.

As of April 1996 its word index is 33GB in size.
 search engine (http://www.altavista.com), you can find a variety of useful sites that provide the current exchange rate for worldwide currencies. Alta Vista's Web pages, as well as those on most other Web sites, employ hyperlinks extensively. Hyperlinks connect you to the referenced material simply by a click of the mouse on the word or icon. Initially, all text hyperlinks are highlighted in blue on the Internet. When the cursor (1) The symbol used to point to some element on screen. On Windows, Mac and other graphics-based screens, it is also called a "pointer," and it changes shape as it is moved with the mouse into different areas of the application.  touches a hyperlink, it changes into the picture of a hand.

SETTING UP THE GEAR

Once you have collected your equipment and selected an ISP (you can find a complete list of ISPs at www.thelist.com), setting up your computer to use the Web is a relatively simple affair. First, install the Internet access See how to access the Internet.  software your ISP or online service provider has provided, following the provider's directions. The software will include a browser. The software setup varies according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the provider. Generally, the software comes with step-by-step instructions for installation.

GOING ONLINE

With your equipment set up and the software installed, it is time to visit a Web site--in this case, AICPA Online. As with most Internet addresses There are two kinds of addresses that are widely used on the Internet. One is a person's e-mail address, and the other is the address of a Web site, which is known as a URL. Following is an explanation of Internet e-mail addresses only. For more on URLs, see URL and Internet domain name. , you must type in the URL URL
 in full Uniform Resource Locator

Address of a resource on the Internet. The resource can be any type of file stored on a server, such as a Web page, a text file, a graphics file, or an application program.
 exactly as it appears, keeping in mind that the final period is not part of the address. Your computer will connect to your ISP's computer, which will connect to the AICPA Online server and bring the AICPA home page to your computer. Hyperlinks are used extensively on AICPA Online to help visitors easily navigate the site as well as to send e-mail to the various AICPA teams. The following steps will lead you into the World Wide Web.

For this lesson we are using Microsoft Internet Explorer See Internet Explorer.  browser, available free of charge at www.microsoft.com. Follow downloading instructions at the Web site.

Open your browser by double clicking on the "Internet Explorer Microsoft's Web browser, which comes with Windows starting with Windows 98. Commonly called "IE," versions for Mac and Unix are also available. Internet Explorer is the most widely used Web browser on the market. It has also been the browser engine in AOL's Internet access software. " icon and typing in http://www.aicpa.org. Be patient on your first visit to the AICPA home page; it might take 10 or more seconds to load the page. The second time you visit the site it will load much faster.

Click once on the "News Flash!" hyperlink in the "Start Here" line.

The "News Flash!" section contains late-breaking accounting-related news; this section is updated daily during the business week.

HOW TO FIND MATERIAL ON AICPA ONLINE

Another way to find a subject is by using a keyword search to locate specific words or terms used in AICPA Online documents. To do a keyword search, click on the search site icon at the top right corner of all pages (except the home page, where it is called "Search" in the "Start Here" line).

When you click on the "Search" icon, the next page will be displayed, which will have a field (a blank box) with a "Search AICPA Online" button. Enter your keyword or words in the field and click on the "Search AICPA Online" button.

For some practice in doing a keyword search, click on the "Search Site" icon and type in the words "CPA Letter." The search engine will search all the pages of AICPA Online for them; that's more than 1500 pages, so it will take some time to do it.

When the search is finished, the "Search Results" page will appear with a list of hyperlinks to all documents containing the keywords. The documents with the most occurrences of the keywords will head the list; the one with the least will be last. Click on the first link at the top of the list; it will bring to the screen a CPA Letter article from the September 1996 issue titled "Keep Profiles Current to Receive Correct CPA Letter Supplement." Note: The content of AICPA Online is updated daily. Do not be concerned, therefore, if the results of your search do not match the results in this article.

If you would like to go beyond AICPA Online and search the Internet, click on your browser's "back" button in the top left corner of your screen to return to the "Search the Internet" page. On this page are other hyperlinks below the AICPA "Search Site" page. These link to the most popular search engines on the Internet. Another place from which to start a search is http://www. search.com, which has the most comprehensive list of search engines available on the Internet.

A ONE-STOP INTERNET RESOURCE

The goal of AICPA Online is to be the resource where CPAs retrieve current accounting information, ask accounting-related questions, exchange ideas and learn about technology. Whenever visiting AICPA Online, first check the "What's New" section to find information that has been added since your last visit. The "What's New" hyperlink is located on the AICPA home page. AICPA Online employs the Web to assist AICPA members, state CPA societies and the accounting profession with managing the information revolution by constantly updating information about professional issues and technology, news, press releases, state CPA society and state board information, speeches, exposure drafts, AICPA publications, databases and more.

What You Need to Get to the Internet

* A computer, preferably with a 486 or more powerful processor. Almost all new computers are Internet capable, with built-in modems.

* A modem.

* A phone line.

* A browser.

* An Internet service provider (ISP). ISPs are plentiful, inexpensive and often supply a good browser. (Users can also access the Internet through online service providers such as CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online See AOL. ).

Accountants Forum and Internet System Operator, Bill Borgeson, e-mail address See Internet address.

e-mail address - electronic mail address
 is wborgeson@aicpa.org.

MEMBER SUPPORT

Recently, a major initiative was announced by AICPA and Microsoft to help CPAs expand their services and their roles as advisers to small business as well as to assist state CPA societies in developing their Internet efforts to deliver member benefits more efficiently. The two entities will develop a comprehensive technology and educational program to achieve these goals. For more information online, visit the AICPA at http://www.aicpa.org; the Accounting News Network Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/smallgiz/ann/; and the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/.

In addition, an ISP affinity program is being negotiated that will assist CPAs with accessing the Internet. Through this program, members will be able to purchase browsers and search engines. Other AICPA plans include the publication of an AICPA Online navigation guide to the AICPA Web site.

Glossary A term used by Microsoft Word and adopted by other word processors for the list of shorthand, keyboard macros created by a particular user. See glossaries in this publication and The Computer Glossary.  

Browser. An innovation that has contributed to the explosive growth of the Internet. It is a software program that translates hypertext markup language (hypertext, World-Wide Web, standard) Hypertext Markup Language - (HTML) A hypertext document format used on the World-Wide Web. HTML is built on top of SGML. "Tags" are embedded in the text. A tag consists of a "<", a "directive" (in lower case), zero or more parameters and a ">".  (HTML HTML
 in full HyperText Markup Language

Markup language derived from SGML that is used to prepare hypertext documents. Relatively easy for nonprogrammers to master, HTML is the language used for documents on the World Wide Web.
) into readable text and graphics and presents it on your computer screen. Among the most popular browers are Netscape Communications Navigator (http://www.netscape.com) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (http://www.microsoft.com).

E-mail. Messages sent from one computer to another via the Internet or other online service providers.

Home page. The first page of a Web site.

Hyperlink or link. This is a picture or text (often highlighted in color). When you click on it, you are connected to more material about the subject or another Web site.

Hypertext markup language (HTML). The computer language used on the World Wide Web.

Internet. A collection of information delivery mechanisms. Some of these mechanisms are the World Wide Web (WWW), file transfer protocol A communications protocol used to transmit files without loss of data. A file transfer protocol can handle all types of files including binary files and ASCII text files. See Kermit, Zmodem and FTP.  (FTP FTP
 in full file transfer protocol

Internet protocol that allows a computer to send files to or receive files from another computer. Like many Internet resources, FTP works by means of a client-server architecture; the user runs client software to connect to
), Internet relay chat See IRC.

(chat, messaging) Internet Relay Chat - (IRC) /I-R-C/, occasionally /*rk/ A client-server chat system of large (often worldwide) networks. IRC is structured as networks of Internet servers, each accepting connections from client programs, one per user.
 (IP.C) and GOPHER gopher or pocket gopher, name for the burrowing rodents of the family Geomyidae, found in North America and Central America. The gopher is gray, buff, or dark brown. Its combined head and body length is 5 to 12 in.  (a text-based research tool).

Search engine. The software that enables you to conduct a broad search for topics. Some examples are Yahoo and AltaVista.

Uniform resource locator See URL.

(World-Wide Web) Uniform Resource Locator - (URL, previously "Universal") A standard way of specifying the location of an object, typically a web page, on the Internet. Other types of object are described below.
 (URL). An Internet address. For example, the URL of AICPA Online is http://www. aicpa.org. (When typing in a URL, do not include the final period.)

World Wide Web site. A collection of HTML pages containing information presented by an individual, company or organization.

The Steps to Get Online

1. Connect your modem.

2. Sign up with an online service provider, such as CompuServe: 1-800-848-8199; AmericaOnline: 1-800-827-6364; Prodigy, 1-800-776-3449 or sign up with a local Internet service provider. Consult your local yellow pages.

3. Install the software according to the directions.

The Web vs. Private Networks

It is important to know the difference between the World Wide Web and the private networks such as America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe. The private networks are tightly regulated providers of information to an audience that pays a fee to subscribe to Verb 1. subscribe to - receive or obtain regularly; "We take the Times every day"
subscribe, take

buy, purchase - obtain by purchase; acquire by means of a financial transaction; "The family purchased a new car"; "The conglomerate acquired a new company";
 the network.

The Web, on the other hand, is nonproprietary, universally accessible by the public and unregulated. It is the openness of the Web that has attracted so many important providers of information and is contributing to its tremendous growth. It is estimated that between 13 million and 24 million individuals are regular users, with a growth rate of 10% to 20% per month. The AICPA's Web site is called AICPA Online.
COPYRIGHT 1997 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Mar 1, 1997
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