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Comment: No (Score 1) 1633

by Ken Hall (#46769435) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

I'm in favor of gun control, but I think most people will tell you this idea goes too far.

First of all, forget the idea that the constitution guarantees you the right to have as many weapons as you want of any kind. That's stupid. The first amendment guarantees the right of 'free speech', but you can't yell 'fire" in a crowded theater. You can't drive up and down the street with a sign on your car that says "my neighbor is a child molester', and you can't publish a newspaper that prints obviously libelous and untrue stores without repercussions (although some do come pretty close). Freedom of religion doesn't allow for human sacrifice, even when the victim is willing. So the idea of limitations on the Bill of Rights has a great deal of precedent.

Except when it comes to guns.

But you can't have an RPG, can you? You can't seed your lawn with land mines. By statistics, nuclear weapons are safer than hand guns. Nobody has been killed by one of those in over fifty years. But would you want everyone to have one? There are limits people are willing to accept, but nobody agrees on just where to draw the line.

People who live in rural places where there are dangerous animals or no local protection need to be armed to protect themselves. My mother-in-law lived on a farm with no neighbors for miles. She kept guns, and occasionally needed them. But the idea that someone living in a gated NJ suburb needs an AR15 is just dopey.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Unfortunately, they frequently do it with guns. Guns make it so much easier, no thought, just react. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun? Show me the difference. A bad guy is often a good guy with a couple of extra beers in him, or who had a bad day. An unarmed drunk is a nuisance. An armed drunk is a danger to children.

So the idea, the one used by many countries, is to keep guns away from people who don't need them. Crazy people, people with a history of violence. People who are careless enough to let their guns fall into the hands of those people. Can you show me a way to make that happen? Till you can, I lean toward the policy they use in the UK. Basic guns, rifles, etc. are fine. If you need a hand gun, you have to show me why, and I'll have to be really sure you need it before I let you have it.

More guns isn't more safety, if that were the case the US and Iraq would be the safest countries on the planet, but they're not. People in the US live in a fantasy world created by cowboy movies. The real old-west was very different, and quite dangerous till even they started controlling weapons in towns.

Comment: Re:Deep (Score 5, Interesting) 225

by Ken Hall (#43509365) Attached to: The Eternal Mainframe

I work with mainframes for a living. Specifically, I work with Linux on IBM zSeries mainframe for a bank. The idea is the provide the software depth of Linux with the reliability of the zSeries hardware.

We get a fair amount of resistance from the Lintel bigots, mostly those who still think of the mainframe in 1980's terms. The current generation of mainframe packs a LOT of horsepower, particularly I/O capacity, in a relatively small box. It connects to the same storage and network as the Lintel servers do, but can one of those do 256 simultaneous DMA transfers? We don't sell the platform as a solution for everything, but we've done the TCO math and we're not that different from an Intel server farm once you factor in the external costs.

I periodically give a class to the Linux admins on the mainframe in general, Linux on z, and the differences between that and Linux on Intel. If you didn't know where to look, it would take you a while to figure out you're not on Intel anymore. Most of the attendees are surprised at what the current boxes are like.

This is not your fathers mainframe.

Comment: Re:Subchapter S-Corp (Score 1) 293

by Ken Hall (#41324917) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

There's a bit more to this state-corporation tax thing than meets the eye. I incorporated in NJ to simplify my bookeeping, but NJ has a law that taxes S-corps at the same rate as C-corps. That's a higher rate than personal income, even though all of the S-corp income goes to the shareholder (me).

The NJ state corporate tax return is a nightmare to do properly, and you always end up paying more than you think you should. NJ also has a minimum $500 corporate tax annually, so even if your corp made NOTHING, you're still on the hook for that. To CLOSE your corporation in NJ requires filing a special form and paying another $100 fee.

If you incorporate in Delaware, for example, there's no state return to file (far as I know), and you only have to pay personal income tax on your salary/1099 income (including self-employment tax on 1099 income), but if you take part of your income as "distribution", or dividend on your share, that part is not subject to SE tax (which is mainly FICA and Medicare). In any case, there's no extra tax on the income just because a corp is involved.

But to incorporate in a state requires you have a mailing address in that state, so you need to either have someone who lives there accept your mail, or you pay for a "registered agent" who collects it and forwards it to you.

I agree with others who recommend talking to a CPA, but be wary there too. Several I spoke to wanted to handle my entire business finances, and charge a substantial fee. The CPA I eventually did use was competant, but very distracted, so I ended up paying him to have me pay much more in taxes than I should have. Just because he has the letters after his name doesn't mean he's any good, and doesn't mean he has your best interests at heart.

Comment: Re:If you plan to do it as your primary source of. (Score 1) 293

by Ken Hall (#41324787) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

This is pretty much exactly what I did, once I figured out my accountant was making me pay two different (supposedly mutually-exclusive) taxes on the same income. You do need to keep an eye on them and make sure they know what you and they are doing.

He charged me something like $800 a year to prepare corp and personal taxes too.

Comment: You basically either have two choices, or none (Score 1) 293

by Ken Hall (#41324287) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

This assumes you're in the US, I don't know about elsewhere.

I was a consultant for 9 years. When I set up initially, I had two options: Let the company that contracted me pay me on a W2, handle the taxes, and take a cut for their trouble, or incorporate and let them pay me corp-to-corp.

Many companies will not pay a contractor on a 1099, which is how you pay someone for services if they're not an employee. There are too many potential IRS headaches if the contractor doesn't handle things properly on his end, especially when large sums are involved. It's okay for small amounts on one-time jobs, but there's a big risk that a 1099 contractor could be considered an employee under certain rules, and then all kinds of unexpected problems kick in. So many companies avoid the whole headache by only dealing with corporations. When one corporation pays another, the payer is basically off the hook for tax-reporting responsibility, it all falls on the payee.

I set up an S-corporation, which is a simpler option than many others, although my accountant (who came in late) said I might have been better off with an LLC. In any case, the biggest headache was that I set it up in NJ, which has screwy tax laws for S-corps. I'm still trying to extricate myself from that, and the corp closed over 5 years ago.

So suggestion: If you're going to (or required to) incorporate, do it through an accountant or a registration service, set it up in a corp-friendly state like Delaware and use a registered agent, and find a good CPA to help you through the tax pitfalls. Mine was decent, but endlessly distracted by more lucrative clients, so I ended up paying more in taxes than I needed to, and it took me 5 years to discover that.

A good friend of mine who was in business long before I was avoided incorporating till it was absolutely necessary. What finally convinced him he needed to was when NJ decided to consider his part-time babysitter an employee of his business, and require him to pay unemployment tax for her. At that point he decided splitting his business and personal affairs made sense. YMMV.

Comment: Re:Comes as a BIG surprise. (Score 1) 109

by Ken Hall (#41195473) Attached to: NCSoft Closes "City of Heroes" Publisher Paragon Studios

NCSoft doesn't care, it's all numbers to them. I played Tabula Rasa right up till it shut down. It had a very loyal following, but not enough for NCSoft to keep the servers running. CoH tried hard, but I guess they couldn't come up with anything new, I quit that some time ago.

Unfortunately, all of their games use the same or similar "engine" on the back end, so if they give away one, they're basically giving away the keys to all of them.

Comment: Re:Was it taken out of context? (Score 5, Interesting) 306

by Ken Hall (#40748631) Attached to: Gartner Analyst Retracts "Windows 8 Is Bad" Claim

In a previous job, where I was a tech manager, the management above me swore by Gartner. Nothing was done without their blessing. Unless, of course, the recommendation disagreed with one of their deep-seated "religious" biases.

In any case, dealing with Gartner was an interesting experience. I would call them and speak to an analyst about some product we were thinking of getting. The analyst would make vague pronouncements about "industry standards", and "best of breed", and "best practices", and usually vaguely recommend whichever product happened to be the front runner in that particular niche at that time. Then I would outline my reasons for choosing whatever product we had determined to be best for our needs. I could hear the analyst hanging on every word, and I just knew our reasoning would make it into the next round of recommendations.

They never gave me anything useful, their sole function seemed to be to validate whatever decision we had already made. In the couple of cases where they did make a serious recommendation in conflict with our plans, the company tended to ignore them and do what it pleased anyway.

Comment: Maybe not so bad... (Score 1) 391

by Ken Hall (#36464546) Attached to: Apple Patents Tech to Stop iPhones Filming in Venues

Since Apple patented it, this means it doesn't (and theoretically can't) apply to anything but iPhones. So everyone else who has an Android, or Windows, or BB, or any other dumb camera phone is not only free, but PROHIBITED from having this "feature" unless the manufacturers license it from Apple.

Way to go, Apple, you just gave everyone one more reason NOT to buy an iPhone. I'm sure the theater owners will love installing a (probably) expensive IR gadget to catch the small percentage of camera phone owners who will be covered by it.

Comment: Let's ban school sports then (Score 4, Insightful) 271

by Ken Hall (#36147580) Attached to: GSM Association Slams Euro Call For Ban On Wireless In School

A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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