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Amazon Botches Sales Tax, Overcharges NJ 179

Posted by timothy
from the insult-to-injury dept.
Hodejo1 writes "On July 1 Amazon started to charge sales tax to NJ residents, which is 7% in the state. But something was not right when I attempted to buy a book for my daughter. Just as I was about to finalize the order I noticed the charges were way off. The book cost $8.09. The tax I was to be levied was $0.85. That's a 10.5% tax rate! Why am I being charged 10.5%? It turns out that Amazon is also charging me tax on the $3.99 cost of shipping and handling. That's a problem, because New Jersey does not tax shipping and handling as I confirmed on the state's web site. I then checked a purchase I made from Amazon on October 7th of this year. Guess what? I was taxed on the $13.50 shipping and handling charge for that order. Now it is very possible — probable most likely — that this is nothing more than a coding error on Amazon's site. But it's a whopper! Just consider the hundreds-of-millions of dollars in sales Amazon makes in New Jersey each year. These extra dimes add up very quickly. Has Amazon been overcharging NJ residents' sales tax since July? If so, why haven't they picked it up by now?"

Comment: Re:Very interesting (Score 1) 72

by Omestes (#45276245) Attached to: Welcome to the Goodwill Computer Museum (Video)

You quickly come to understand that Goodwill is a for profit business operating under a false tax documents by making a pittance of over publicized donations each year.

Awhile back one of my mom's friends said this when I was looking for a place to dumb left-over stuff from moving, so I did a bit of research. This is true, sometimes. Each region is run seperately and independently, so this might be true where you live, but not where I live. Some regions are horribly corrupt, with the executives basically getting rich off of the the mentally disabled and the court systems... While some regions are actually trying to help people.

I personally prefer the Mormon run Deseret Industries... Their stores are very clean, everything is washed, and they don't try to sell all the actually good items at online auctions, meaning you can still discover some good items. Once the one near me had a ton of awesome vintage camera gear, cheap; where Goodwill sells absolute crap since all the good stuff has been long-since syphoned off by staff, or stuck on their circa 1995 auction website.

Comment: Re:45 years ago... (Score 1) 283

by Omestes (#45218629) Attached to: 5-Year Mission Continues After 45-Year Hiatus

I grew up on TNG, though I watched a ton of TOS thanks to reruns as a kid.

Recently, when Netflix made them all streaming I rewatched both of them again in pretty much a marathon. TNG didn't age well, and get bit boring in the end. TOS was fun to watch. Even my girlfriend (not a nerd, no experience with ST) had a blast with TOS. TNG was a better show, and better written, but TOS is just plain fun. TNG didn't age well thanks to its special effects and long form plots. TOS has Kirk kirking things with his fist, awesome music, cool rubber costumes, and green chicks in go-go boots...

TOS goes with beer and chips better than TNG or anything subsequent.

I didn't couldn't really stomach rewatching DS9 or Voyager, I didn't like them when they were on the air, and like them a bit less now. DS9 would have been okay, except it starts so damn slow, and has far to much Warfling and Ciscoling to really be watchable. At least Wesley Crusher was so bad he was kind of amusing (at least 20 years later). And Voyager is just pants, and killed Trek for me for good.

Comment: Re:appearing to have free will (Score 1) 401

by Omestes (#45203465) Attached to: Physicist Unveils a 'Turing Test' For Free Will

You seem to completely disregard that the actual configuration of matter has both an effect on the system it is considered to be part of and on the environment the system is said to be in.

I don't see away to carve out the possibility of individual choice from this though. No matter how many layers or systems you have, or how chaotic they are, allows for something "outside" out their own base rules. Even in a probabilistic system, like QM, there isn't room to get outside of its own base elements, you might obfuscate it, and make first causes irreducible from complexity, chaos, and random events, but it still wouldn't be "free". I phrased that very badly, but language gets annoying with concepts like this.

I might be missing your point (not enough coffee this morning)... If I did, I apologize. I always view these things as "abstraction layers", with them being increasingly removed from the innate human perception frame as we go "down" or "up", there really isn't a difference between quantum mechanics and humans, but we can't see it because of our evolutionary context shaping our perceptions.

Comment: Re:Sam Harris (Score 1) 401

by Omestes (#45198091) Attached to: Physicist Unveils a 'Turing Test' For Free Will

You would essentially have to think your thoughts before you think them and then choose.

I don't see why this would be strictly necessary. If free-will was a emergent process it would exist in the act of thinking, and not necessarily prior to the action of thinking. The transitory act of thinking itself is being. Further, requiring the act of "pre-thinking" would be a bit odd, since it would imply that we must be psychic to have agency. The whole idea is set up to create a reductio, so someone can say "well, obviously".

That said, I rather doubt that free-will exists, as such. But I also don't think that it matters either way; there is no way to "act as if you had no free will" (the very statement is meaningless, as it implies a decision, which implies agency), making the whole argument a bit moot. A lack of agency would also be meaningless to society, because the mere knowledge of this lack doesn't lead to knowledge of why actions are taken. Prisons would exist, punishment would exist, there really isn't a reason they shouldn't since we can never actually trace the action back to first principles... Human behavior probably results from a hugely complex, and almost completely irreducible, chaotic systems. A murder might be the result of millions of factors, from genetics and upbringing, to global history and sociology, to quantum fluctuations at a cellular level and the current weather... Things are no less mysterious if we remove free-will from the equation... Or rather, things are generally as meaningless.

Comment: Re:appearing to have free will (Score 2) 401

by Omestes (#45196929) Attached to: Physicist Unveils a 'Turing Test' For Free Will

... not having a basic understanding of modern philosophy?

Its been awhile since I was in school (for philosophy), or reading up on the current discussion, but as far as I know this is still a massive debate, with very little, if any, agreement between philosophers (or psychologists, or neurologists, or cognitive scientists, or programmers, or physicists, or whoever else's feild this topic touches).

That said, there is a large debate on whether there is a difference between agency as a thing, and the perception of agency. Go read up on Searle's Chinese Room, and the debate it has sparked (especially Dennett). Also read up on the whole thought-experiment of "p-zombies", which explores this very concept.

AFAICT there isn't a consensus on this topic at all.

I take a more existential stance on it; where it doesn't really matter since one can't live as if one doesn't have agency, so on a human level the debate doesn't matter either way, since agency is a necessary trait to existence.

    Ontically, though, I'm pretty sure agency is a dead horse unless we find something wrong with modern science. You can stretch things a bit (ala Dennett, again) by tying agency into the quantum realm, but you really just push the debate back a bit; is random, yet probabilistic, much better than classically deterministic? Neither leave room for an actual "you" driving you, barring theology and a Cartesian bag of worms. If humans are purely matter, and that matter follows the same laws as all other matter then agency is impossible. If we have something immune from the normal laws of physics, then how are we to ever prove this fact, and further how does this "spiritual matter" (or whatever) influence "actual matter"?

Comment: Re::Living Room? (Score 3, Interesting) 182

by Omestes (#44980377) Attached to: What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming

Except that mobile gaming is a completely different beast from living room or PC gaming. Mobile gaming is about quick bites, simple controls, and shallow gameplay (this isn't a bad thing, per se). Mobile gaming is casual, by default. Its hard to get into an epic RPG while on the bus, or in the dentist's office. If I'm going to play something like Skyrim, I'm going to do it in a comfy chair, on a good screen, with mature controls.

Tethering a controller to your phone or tab is counterproductive, since you "un-mobiled" mobile gaming, by forcing someone to carry around a controller as well as their device.

Mobile isn't replacing anything, I wish that fallacy would die. Mobile is supplementing a certain part of traditional markets, but it isn't replacing the core of those markets. Looking at console and traditional game sales back this up, they aren't slowing down in relation to rise in mobile device sales. Nor will they, since they fill a very different niche than traditional consoles and PCs for gaming.

Same with the stupid trope that mobile will magically kill traditional PCs... This is said by people who never used their PC for anything more serious than email and light web browsing. There is very little in my daily computer tasks that can be moved to mobile, outside of light email and web duties. Sure, this is a gap MS is targeting (badly) with the Surface Pro, but suddenly we're not talking mobile anymore, but a traditional laptop with a floppy keyboard and optional touch controls. And still it isn't going to be as good as my large screen for most tasks.

The living room died so many decades ago

I'm now picturing a family of four huddled in their backyard streaming watching movies on a 10" tablet. I feel kind of bad for them, since they could be inside, sitting in their living room watching it on an increasingly affordable giant HDTV.

Comment: Re:So, when will heads roll? (Score 1) 110

by Omestes (#44823641) Attached to: Trove of NSA Documents and FISC Opinions Declassified Thanks to EFF Lawsuit

That worked well for Abu Ghriab. The peons got the shaft, while everyone who was responsible and actually matters got off scot-free.

Thats pretty much how everything works, the people on the bottom take full responsibility, and basically shield everyone else with real power.

The Nuremberg defense is bull. If you're order to do something unconscionable/illegal, then both YOU and your superior who gave the order should be held equally responsible. This should follow all the way up, until we realize that this, being a democracy, is our fault as well. We voted for them, we condone their actions by not removing them, so we, the people, are fully guilty of all actions committed by our government.

Comment: Re:Now.. (Score 1) 321

by Omestes (#44821991) Attached to: Intel's Haswell Chips Pushing Windows RT Into Oblivion

I'd have been better off getting an iPad and it wouldn't have cost much more then the damn N7 I bought.

Only nearly double, you mean.

The online issue isn't only a problem for Android... Apple really has the same issue, since pretty much every service is increasingly "in the cloud" for them as well.

That sort of is the point of mobile devices though... what good is a calendar that only resides on your tablet? The goal is to have it completely sync with everything, from your desktop PC to online services. I personally like the fact that everything is synced. On my N7, pretty much everything is automatically synced, from appointments, to bookmarks and contacts. I like this, since it makes management much easier than it used to be with my giant laptop.

Comment: Re:Now.. (Score 1) 321

by Omestes (#44821875) Attached to: Intel's Haswell Chips Pushing Windows RT Into Oblivion

Don't be silly. Sales of pads are still lower than PC sales...

I never said that tablets will kill PCs (they won't, but they will make a decent impact someday). OP said that they find tablets useless, and that was the point I was addressing. A ton of people find them convenient, and more are doing so every day. As I stated, I hated the idea, until I got a good one (I had, and hated, a 10" ASUS Transformer).

The fallacy at work here is that tablets and PCs are somehow competing, or mutually exclusive. I still use my PC, a lot. For the foreseeable future I'm not scrapping my PC, since I need it for work (content production, if you will), gaming, and more serious tasks. On the other hand my Nexus 7 has trimmed a couple hours of PC time from my day as well, since I can leisurely check my email, run some searches, keep some notes, check the news, and watch videos without being tied down by my computer, or by a beastly laptop. There is room for both, and will be for a long time.

As someone said here... PCs = content creation. Tablets = content consumption. If you look at tablets as a PC replacement, your looking at it wrong.

Comment: Re:Betteridge's law (Score 1) 418

by Omestes (#44816039) Attached to: Is It Time to Replace Your First HDTV? (Video)

Either that or someone channel-flipped an IR picture, which is what it looks like. Either from a camera with a more permissive filter, without a filter (doubtful, since you'd also be exposing near UV as well as near IR), or from a standard camera with an IR filter screwed on. It could be any of these, since pretty much all IR shots need a ton of processing.

I keep meaning to get the filter on my old Kx modified, but I don't really trust any of the people doing it. I do shoot, sometimes, with screw-on filters, (both 720nm, and 760nm), but they are an absolute pain in the ass. The exposure times, even in full sun, are so long as to introduce a ton of noise. Focusing is all manual, since most AF sensors will misjudge, and your focusing in a near black view finder. Its a bit better on my m4/3 system, since the EVF is boosted a bit, but most m4/3 lenses have IR hotspots.

Further, and amusingly enough, most lens hoods are IR reflective. After my first long outing with my IR setup I discovered that every picture I took had green or blue ghosting from IR reflection, even from my matte hoods.

Poking at the picture further, I think you're right though; unless it was a very, very, still day, or very, very, bright out. There isn't any blur, AFAICT, from long exposure times.

Comment: Re:Now.. (Score 1) 321

by Omestes (#44815881) Attached to: Intel's Haswell Chips Pushing Windows RT Into Oblivion

just not going to find those for less than $700-800, even in a standard laptop. Yet you want it to cost the same an iPad?

It will come... perhaps not in the next couple years, but within a decade they will be cheap.

I agree, at the current price point it can make sense for some people, but I'm not one of them. While having a handheld x86 computer would be nice to have right now, most of the features it would add over my N7 are convenience features, not must-haves. If I was on the road more there would be a much stronger case for spending 700-800 for one.

Comment: Re:Now.. (Score 1) 321

by Omestes (#44815851) Attached to: Intel's Haswell Chips Pushing Windows RT Into Oblivion

Do you use it for REPLYING to email?

For short missives; yes. For long correspondence; no. I mostly use it to sort my mail, flagging things for immediate actions, checking alerts, deleting junk, and such. Later, when time permits, I do the replying that needs more than a sentence or two on my desktop. This works fine, since my morning coffee time isn't for actual work. But it is nice to get the sorting out of the way before actually sitting down and being productive.

Consume on tablet. Produce on laptop.

Pretty much. I don't have a problem with this, though. I don't expect to be productive on my tablet(s). When people complain about this, I always wonder why they don't complain about not being able to author books on their Kindle, or produce video on their TV.

The Windows tablet, or a tablet capable of running regular programs, would be nice, since I could get a bit more serious about things. Being able to fire up Photoshop, or Lightroom, or a full office suite on the go would be nice... Not as nice as a heavier laptop, or on my desktop, but it wouldn't be a feature I'd complain about.

My one concern, though, is having another throw-away computer. In 4 years the Windows tablet will be useless, and then what? Go buy another one, and trash it? Sell it on Craigslist for $25?

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James Michener, "Space"

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