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Comment: Paper and US Postal Service (Score 3, Interesting) 359

by DERoss (#46756823) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

U.S. and California

I have a degree in mathematics. Tax returns and their computations are merely a simple mathematical puzzle, which I easily solve.

I created two spreadsheets, one for federal income taxes and one for state income taxes. The latter is linked to the former because much of the California computations require inputs from the federal forms. Each year, I copy the prior year's spreadsheets into a new folder. I download the fill-in PDF forms for both governments and update the spreadsheets accordingly. I mark in yellow the spreadsheet cells that require new inputs; as I input those data, I remove the yellow.

California provides a Web site where I input my taxable income and filing status. The Web site tells me how much tax to pay. I wish the IRS would do the same. However, it is much easier to input into the IRS PDF files than into the California PDF files.

Since I have a large investment in a mutual fund, I can also get Turbotax for free. I download it and use it to check my spreadsheet results. I don't really like Turbotax because it requires too much irrelevant input and because it does not provide adequate capability to include explanatory attachments.

I print the PDFs and mail them via U.S. Postal Service. I never request certified or registered mail. I mailed my first tax returns when I was 16 years old. I am now 72. I have never had a mailed return go astray.

Comment: A Simple Solution (Score 1) 180

by DERoss (#46738455) Attached to: The Case For a Safer Smartphone

Don't change the phones. Don't change the cars. Instead, change the liability laws.

In an accident, a driver who was using a phone or other electronic communication device should be presumed to be grossly negligent. The presumption could be rebutable, but that would require the driver to prove he or she was not using any such device. With gross negligence, the law should require the automobile insurance company to cancel the driver's policy. The law should also prohibit a grossly negligent driver from collecting any insurance benefit but not prohibit the driver's victims from being compensated.

Yes, there are uninsured drivers. Where I live, the police will often confiscate their cars if they are stopped for even a minor traffic violation. Thus, there is serious incentive to be insured or else not drive.

By the way, the reason we have so many, many laws is that not enough people will do the right thing. Laws set the minimum standard for behavior. When too many individuals treat that as the maximum standard, they are inviting new laws to be passed to raise the standard.

Comment: Re:developers don't cause bugs, QA does (Score 1) 716

by DERoss (#46224517) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

Wrong! A good QA process prohibits the QA team from changing anything. QA can either approve the product or else send it back to the developers. In the end, QA is paid the same. Thus, QA has no vested interest in either approving or rejecting the product.

Comment: Just Fix Bugs (Score 1) 2219

by DERoss (#46180911) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

I very much like the old design. It "scans" very easily. (By "scans", I mean by the human eye and mind, not by an electronic device.)

One thing that needs to be fixed is your use of non-standard HTML and CSS. Your home page has 140 HTML errors. Your CSS has 28 errors.

Also, the yellow box that led me to this page ( and is repeated to the top of this page says:
                        WE HEAR YOU We did tell you we wanted feedback. Hereâ€(TM)s our response.
Note the strange characters that appear in place of a simple apostrophe in "Here's".

Before you embark on a new design, make sure you are not propagating your errors.

Comment: Ether (Score 1) 62

by DERoss (#46057393) Attached to: Searching For Dark Matter From Deep Under an Italian Mountain

The more I read about dark matter and dark energy pervading the universe, the more I think about ether (also spelled "aether" or "æther"), which also was supposed to fill the universe. Dark matter and dark energy will never be found because they are as real as ether. See the Wikipedia article at

Comment: It's Not Your E-mail Address, It's Your Name (Score 1) 388

by DERoss (#45929523) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email?

When I receive misdirected E-mail, it almost always results from someone selecting the wrong David or wrong Ross from their address book. That is, both the intended recipient and I are both known to the sender. The sender's address book is organized by names, not by E-mail addresses.

I used to get phone calls in the middle of the night for a David Ross who was an attorney, either in private practice or in the District Attorney's office. The caller would be drunk and picked out the wrong David Ross from the phone book. Again, this was a problem with my name, not with my phone number.

There are apparently many, many David Rosses. I have met two others face-to-face, both times in doctors' offices. I have exchanged E-mail with several others. I even created a Web page about this situation at

How do I handle misdirected E-mail? On the first occasion, I reply quoting the original message. I tell the sender they have the wrong David Ross. If there is one of those caveats about condfendiality and deleting misdirected messages, I also inform the sender that such warnings are unenforceable, that the sender must bear full responsibility for ensuring correct addressing of such messages.

On subsequent instances from the same sender, I use a small application that returns the message in a format that indicates the stated E-mail address is invalid. That is, the message will appear as if bounced. If that does not work, I finally threaten to make any subsequent messages public by posting them on a newsgroup.

Comment: Re:agent strings... (Score 1) 381

by DERoss (#45633929) Attached to: Desktop Browser of Choice in 2013?

With both Firefox and SeaMonkey, it is very easy to spoof agent strings, to lie to Web servers by indicating I am using some browser that I have not installed. Actually, the default configuration of SeaMonkey has the user string
          Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:25.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/25.0 SeaMonkey/2.22.1
which says it is both Firefox and SeaMonkey.

Comment: Other: SeaMonkey (Score 4, Interesting) 381

by DERoss (#45633879) Attached to: Desktop Browser of Choice in 2013?

My preferred browser is SeaMonkey. It has the same "guts" as Firefox but a different user interface that I consider far superior to Firefox. By "guts", I mean the same HTML rendering engine, the same Internet interface, the same SSL processes, and often the same third-party extensions. However, SeaMonkey allows experienced users to tailor the browser in ways that Firefox does not.

It appears that Mozilla has been slowly "dumbing down" Firefox. In the process, the developers have also gone overboard in attempting to make Firefox super-safe for users, which is the main cause of the loss of tailoring. This safety is not restricted to browsing the Web safely but also in configuring the user's own computer. This sometimes means a loss of functionality, overcome by a proliferation of third-party extensions.

Overall, many experienced users feel that Mozilla is trying to make Firefox too similar to Chrome in order to compete against Chrome. What Mozilla refuses to accept is the fact that, if a user wants Chrome, that user will install Chrome and not Firefox.

So far, Sea Monkey has been able to avoid these Firefox deficiencies.

Comment: Free Music? Yes, That "Business Model" Does Work (Score 0) 370

by DERoss (#45619347) Attached to: Get Ready For a Streaming Music Die-Off

I listen to streaming broadcasts sent over the Internet directly by radio stations. Most of these stations are non-profit, many of them part of National Public Radio. They seem not only to be surviving but even thriving. Three of the stations are sufficiently close that I can listen to them over the "airwaves". The rest of them are available only via Internet streaming.

Of course my taste in music is mostly classical, music that is still entertaining and appreciated more than a month after it is first released. In many cases, the recordings are no longer available commercially. If the cited trend in this article is true, perhaps young listeners might learn of the majesty of Beethoven, the emotion of Tchaikovsky, the joy of Gershwin.

Comment: Use SecretAgent (Score 1) 46

If you are using Firefox or SeaMonkey as your browser (both Mozilla-based), get the SecretAgent extension from Since I installed it in SeaMonkey, not only do many sites have trouble locating where I am, some sites cannot even determine on which continent I am located.

Comment: SecretAgent Extension Conflicts with PrefBar (Score 1) 212

by DERoss (#44681503) Attached to: Cookieless Web Tracking Using HTTP's ETag

For Mozilla-based browsers such as Firefox and SeaMonkey, the SecretAgent extension conflicts with the PrefBar User Agent menulist.

Because some Web sites I visit are sensitive to what user agent they see, I unchecked (disabled) the "Rotate User Agent" checkbox in SecretAgent. Then, if I used the PrefBar User Agent menulist to spoof some other browser, it kept resetting to my actual user agent. Since I consider the PrefBar capability to be very important, I removed SecretAgent. The PrefBar capability was then restored.

Comment: Re:New Slashdot feature: RTFM Sunday! (Score 1) 506

by DERoss (#44676671) Attached to: The Greatest Keyboard Shortcut Ever

Install the PrefBar extension in Firefox or SeaMonkey. Enable the Restore Tab button.

By the way, accidentally closing a tab in SeaMonkey should be rare since the X to close is at the far right of the tab bar, not on the tab. Putting the X on the tab itself has proven dangerous because it is then too easy to close a tab when trying to select the adjacent tab on the right.

A slow pup is a lazy dog. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"