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Comment: Gasoline Will Always Compete with Electric (Score 1) 296

by CodeBuster (#46785721) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

It'll be a long while until gasoline is so expensive that updating the power grid to handle electric cars makes sense.

The same upgraded power grid or the nuclear reactors that would certainly be involved in powering it, since no other method would even come close despite what the wind and solar boosters would have you believe, could also be used to produce artificial gasoline from coal, natural gas or even sea water feedstocks using gas to liquids technologies. The US Navy is exploring these same technologies to produce jet fuel from sea water and have had some success on an experimental scale.

Comment: Re:Uproar? (Score 4, Insightful) 144

by CodeBuster (#46777119) Attached to: Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

The IRS doesn't want to pre-populate your tax forms, aside from lobbying by self interested tax preparation firms like Intuit or H&R Block, because (1) it might be construed as an "official" invoice of what was owed and therefore "complete and correct" and (2) it might serve to tip off potential tax cheats as to what the IRS does and does not know about their income. The IRS enjoys certain advantages from forcing citizens to fill out the forms themselves, under penalty of law for failure to report, and remaining cagey about what they do and don't know to discourage cheating. It's similar in concept to the panopticon. You know that they could be watching anyone and anything at anytime even if they cannot as a practical matter watch everyone and everything all of the time. Because taxpayers are kept in the dark with regard to what the IRS knows about their income, they behave as if the IRS knows everything and that everyone and everything is being watched all of the time. This panopticon effect magnifies the effectiveness of limited IRS auditing and investigative resources because many people behave themselves, even though they aren't being given special attention, merely because they fear what will happen if the IRS does catch them in a deliberate lie.

Comment: Re:Just because you can doesn't mean you should (Score 1) 221

by CodeBuster (#46763853) Attached to: How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

Most people are a lot more comfortable and eager to break someone else's code than they are their own.

Not me. I'm just as merciless with my own code as I am with others' when writing tests. Proper testing involves taking on the role of the malicious agent who is actively trying to break the code, feed it bad inputs and generally muck up the works. If the code passes those tests then it stands a much better chance of rolling with the punches in the real world of production.

Comment: Re:And they've already stopped (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46763817) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt
I've never been paid in foreign currency or paid foreign taxes, so I cannot speak from personal experience, but I think that the basic concept is sound. If you work in Europe say and are paid in Euros and pay European taxes then you ought to be able, at the very least, to write off that amount that you paid in European taxes from your gross income so that your US taxable income reflects the fact that you paid foreign taxes. Otherwise, you're being taxed on taxes and it's tough to argue that relief from that is a "loophole".

Comment: Re:And they've already stopped (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46763769) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt
A modest refund is alright and I get that your time is valuable and that you have had yearly life events, but when I hear of people who aren't receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit having 3000 refunds it's a bit shocking that they wouldn't rather have an extra 250 dollars per month in their pocket. As you said, you probably won't be buying houses, getting married and having kids every year for the next ten so eventually when things settle down you may want to have another look at that withholding or you estimated tax payments because nobody that I know ever wishes that they put more into the escrow account with Uncle Sam at zero percent.

Comment: Re:Refunds indicate bad tax planning (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46763695) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Claiming more allowances than you're entitled to is against the rules. How many an individual is entitled to depends upon work situation, certain life events, whether deductions are itemized or not, household status and other factors. The IRS provides a calculator or you can use publication 505 and the worksheets to figure it out for your specific case. Knowingly providing false information on IRS forms is a crime, but then again you know that because you're a smart ass.

Comment: Re:Refunds indicate bad tax planning (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46753853) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

I think that you're right about the W-4. Claiming more allowances than you're entitled to, even if the tax works out to be correct at the end of the year, is against the rules. Whether or not that results in a penalty, I don't know. The over/under payment thing matters more if you have 1099 income from which taxes are not withheld or self employment income and file quarterly estimated tax payments with the IRS.

Comment: Re:Refunds indicate bad tax planning (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46753827) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

It would be better to owe $2K each year than to expect refunds.

I don't have the formulas in front of me just now, but a $2K underpayment of taxes would probably result in some kind of penalty. If you have under paid your tax bill by more than about $1K by the time that the IRS is accepting your 1040 for the year, penalties are likely. The penalties for underpayment can be quite severe, easily over 30 percent APR last time I checked, so it behooves you to try and be as accurate as possible when estimating your quarterly tax payments. Overestimating is not good, but underestimating can be just as bad or even worse. As you said, good planning is key.

Comment: Re:And they've already stopped (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46753769) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

rather than springing it on everyone after they had already budgeted around receiving their expected tax refund.

If you aren't paying quarterlies then why are you even getting a refund? Adjust your W-4 withholding so that you don't pay them more than you have to in the first place. If you are paying quarterlies then try to improve your income estimates so that you don't give Uncle Sam an interest free loan of your money. I understand that it can be difficult for self employed people with highly variable incomes, but most Americans don't fall into that group and should know their yearly tax liability to within a fifty dollars or so at the beginning of the tax year.

Comment: Re:And they've already stopped (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46753717) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

The attempt reveals something about the IRS' attitude.

It's not a matter of attitude. Attitude is irrelevant in this case. The employees of the IRS and government officials working there could theoretically be punished or prosecuted for failing to perform their lawful tax collection duties. It's a matter of law, not attitude.

Comment: Re:And they've already stopped (Score 1) 629

by CodeBuster (#46753687) Attached to: IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt
The United States is one of the few (only?) countries that makes no distinction between income earned at home or income earned abroad for purposes of taxation. If you're a US citizen then all your income is taxable, subject to the US tax codes, regardless of where you earned it or where you lived. That is why you never hear about US "tax exiles" because the only way to end your US tax liability is to renounce your US citizenship which can only be done at a US embassy on foreign soil and only upon presentation of proof of alternative citizenship.

Comment: Re:Unit Tests are Not Optional Anymore (Score 1) 445

by CodeBuster (#46753625) Attached to: Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake

Nope. It's a waste of time.

Compared to what? Updating the firmware on millions of production routers and servers because a critical flaw made it into production? Paying out claims against the company that resulted from security breaches associated with the bug? Going back, after the code has already been designed, written and deployed to fix a bug that would have been tens of thousands of times cheaper to fix had it been caught instead by unit tests well before release? Testing has a cost, yes, but gambling that your code will get by without it can wind up costing you more than you'd ever imagined was possible. How would you feel about driving a car with software written according to that philosophy or banking software that get's it mostly right but every once in a while zeros out your balance for some strange reasons?

Comment: Re:Unit Tests are Not Optional Anymore (Score 1) 445

by CodeBuster (#46753557) Attached to: Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake

How do you know each type?

You refuse to accept types that you cannot identify at runtime or you use a type safe language. Accepting void pointers or the like is just asking for trouble.

What if your bug occurs if one parameter is 37? How do you know in advance that this is a different type to be tested?

Then you test for that. You wrote the code for a specific reason and purpose, right? Well, then you ought to be able to prove that with tests. Knowing what tests you need and how to write them is itself a skill and a worthwhile one at that.

Comment: Re:Unit Tests are Not Optional Anymore (Score 1) 445

by CodeBuster (#46753513) Attached to: Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake

Unit testing would only have caught this if someone had thought to test for an invalid payload length in the incoming request.

Sounds like a good test to me. The length of the payload was an input in this case and it should have been asserted against the true length of the buffer in a test.

Thing is, for networking, those tests need to be right there in the code. Any data coming in off the web needs to be treated like a TSA officer treats a hippie in a 'Legalise Dope' T-shirt.

That is yet another reason why we separate concerns in our code, so that we can plug in mocks and stubs as needed to simulate inputs into or outputs from a module of code. This enables unit testing, but it also leads to better organized and more clearly written code that accurately and concisely expresses the intent of the module. The existence of unit tests is a necessary, although not a sufficient, condition for good code.

Simple code review shows that OpenSSL wasn't doing that.

In hindsight yes but this code was reviewed (supposedly) and this was missed. Code review alone is not enough, you must prove it with tests.

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