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+ - Intuit, maker of Turbotax, lobbies against simplied tax filings-> 1

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Return-free filing might allow tens of millions of Americans to file their taxes for free and in minutes. Or that, under proposals authored by several federal lawmakers, it would be voluntary, using information the government already receives from banks and employers and that taxpayers could adjust. Or that the concept has been endorsed by Presidents Obama and Reagan and is already a reality in some parts of Europe.

Sounds great, except to Intuit, maker of Turbotax: last year, Intuit spent more than $2.6 million on lobbying, some of it to lobby on four bills related to the issue, federal lobbying records show."

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+ - Former US President says Snowden disclosures are "good for Americans to know"->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Former United States President Jimmy Carter defended the disclosures by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Monday, saying revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies were collecting meta-data of Americans' phone calls and e-mails have been "probably constructive in the long run."

"I think it's wrong," President Carter said of the NSA program. "I think it's an intrusion on one of the basic human rights of Americans, is to have some degree of privacy if we don't want other people to read what we communicate.""

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Comment: H-1B? (Score 2, Interesting) 197

by McGruber (#46534353) Attached to: Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested For Leaking Windows 8
From the article:

Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee has been arrested yesterday for stealing and leaking company secrets..... Kibkalo is a Russian national and has worked for Microsoft for seven years; he has joined 5nine Software in August 2013 as Director of Product Management for Security and Management products after quiting his job at Microsoft.

I wonder how he worked for MS for 7 years as H1-B Visas are supposed to be limited to 6 years.

Comment: Re:why carry crude to in tanks on moving vehicles? (Score 1) 144

by McGruber (#46440357) Attached to: Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom

The Wall Street Journal just ran an article about why shipping oil by rail is more profitable than shipping by pipeline:

In Dakota Oil Patch, Trains Trump Pipelines - Flexibility of Shifting Crude to Higher Priced Markets Strands Proposed Projects (March 3, 2014)

Basically, shipping the oil by rail costs more, but using a train gives the oil producer the flexibility to ship to the refinery that will pay them them most for the oil. Shipping by pipeline only allows the producer to ship the oil to the refinery at the end of that pipeline.... and the oil producer has to commit to use the pipeline for a very long time.

Apparently, Warren Buffet figured this out years ago because he bought the BNSF Railway back in 2009. A BNSF train is shown in the picture attached to the Bloomberg article.

They've been trying to build one for years (Keystone XL) but have been stonewalled at every turn by Obama.

The WSJ points out that the proposed Keystone pipeline runs north-south, while the oil producers want to ship their oil east-west because the demand for oil is greater on the coasts than in Texas.

+ - Austin has highest Salaries for Tech Workers, after factoring in cost-of-living -> 1

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Austin ranks Number 1 in the nation when it comes to offering the largest tech salaries that have been adjusted for cost of living expenses, such as housing, groceries, utilities and other necessities. This is according to a study by TriNet, a company I had never heard off, that provides
(buzzword alert!) cloud-based human resources services.

The seven major tech hubs, ranked by cost of living adjusted average salaries:
1. Austin: $105,000

2. Atlanta: $103,000

3. Denver-Boulder: $98,000

4. Boston: $79,000

5. Silicon Valley: $78,000

6. Los Angeles: $70,000

7. New York: $56,000"

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+ - Stolen Passport Was Used to Board Crashed Malayasian Airlines 777 ->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "An Air Malaysia 777 bound to Beijing has apparently crashed into the South China Sea: That CNN article reports that there was one Italian passenger onboard... however the Italian who was supposedly onboard says his passport was stolen 6 months ago:

Luigi Maraldi, 37, reportedly called his parents to say he was in Thailand and not on board the flight. Mr Maraldi told the /Corriere della Sera/ newspaper that his passport had been stolen last August. "One of the hypotheses about how he came to be on the passenger list is that someone boarded using his stolen passport," the newspaper reported. A spokesman for Malaysia Airlines said they had received any information on Mr Maraldi.


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+ - Ken Ham building Noah's Ark in Kentucky, thanks to Bill Nye->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Following up on the Bil Nye and Ken Ham debate on Creationism (( Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced Thursday that a municipal bond offering has raised enough money to begin construction on the Ark Encounter project, estimated to cost about $73 million. Groundbreaking is planned for May and the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016.

Ham said a high-profile evolution debate he had with "Science Guy" Bill Nye on Feb. 4 helped boost support for the project.

Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. He said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest.""

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+ - Camlanta: Police instaling 12,000 Camera's in Georgia's Capital City->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports ( that Atlanta Police plan to have as many as 12,000 cameras installed in the city.

“Atlanta is really on the leading edge of work in this area,” said William Flynn, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deputy assistant secretary of infrastructure protection. “We spend a lot of our attention on preparedness, protection, prevention. This kind of technology is the best use of those efforts and the best use of our resources.

“We’ve even been able to capture a murder on film,” said Atlanta Police Lt. LeAnne Browning, a supervisor at the video integration center where footage from more than 2,700 cameras is monitored.

I'm sure that was of great comfort to the murder victim and his/her loved ones."

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+ - NYC Teacher: Standardized tests are a critical thinker's dream->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Many educators and commentators believe that standardized testing is a soul-sapping exercise in rote learning that devalues critical thinking and favors students of higher-income parents who can afford test-prep classes or private tutors.

Not so, according to James Samuelson. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Mr. Samuelson explains that testing is actually good for the intellectual health of students. ( Testing is also an excellent way for teachers to better understand the particular academic challenges their students face.

Students acquire test-taking skills through discipline, through routine. They also learn how to reason by following a progression of ideas in connected, logical order. But the need for discipline, for routine, would require teachers to cut down on the practice of flitting about from one unconnected topic to another.

Mr. Samuelson teaches at Queens Vocational & Technical High School in Sunnyside, Queens, N.Y."

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+ - WhatsApp Founder used Nonchangable Airline Ticket to Pressure Facebook-> 1

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "In a post on the Flyertalk website (, WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum provides another interesting detail about how he steered Whatsapp into a $16 Billion Deal with Facebook (

we announced the deal with Facebook on wednesday after the market closed. during the process, we realized there was a chance we might not be able to get the deal wrapped up and signed on wednesday and it could delay. when the risk of the delay became real, i said: "if we don't get it done on wednesday, it probably wont get done. i have tickets on thursday to fly out to Barcelona which i bought with miles and they are not easily refundable or even possible to change. this has to be done by wednesday or else!!!" ...and so one of the biggest deals in tech history had to be scheduled around my M&M award ticket


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Comment: Data Walls are a way to identify Crappy Teachers (Score 4, Informative) 110

by McGruber (#46312925) Attached to: All In All, Kids Just Another Brick In the Data Wall

My partner is an elementary school principal. Her school has a small "data room", only accessed by teachers, in which she has posted "data walls". Her data walls are actually printouts of very large spreadsheets -- each row is a child, and the hundred of columns represent individual concepts that children have to master. For example, one column might represent "being able to add fractions", another might represent "being able to subtract fractions", another might be "being able to correctly conjugate verbs", etc.

The really cool thing is that these spreadsheets are generated (by software) after the children take computerized tests. Instead of just giving a numeric score, the software will show exactly *which* concepts the child does and does not know.

You would think teachers would love this technology because it would allow them to focus their instruction time on concepts their students have not mastered. Sadly, that's not the case -- instead, many long-time teachers who had always gotten "good" and "excellent" evaluations are suddenly being shown that they are not actually very good teachers. For example, the software can easily show that *none* of the students in a particular classroom have mastered a particular concept, such as adding fractions. If no student in that particular elementary classroom is able to add fractions, then it is pretty obvious that the teacher in that classroom does not know how to effectively teach adding fractions. Hearing that is pretty threatening to a teacher who has taught the same way for two or three decades.

Anyway, I posted because what the article calls a "data wall" is not really a data wall.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.