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Comment Re:Data Security Officer (Score 5, Informative) 192

Your State may be different, but New York's Freedom of Information Law (or FOIL, we like to be different) works like this:

The agency has to respond within five business days, but that response can read something like:

Dear Sexybomber:

We have received your request for public records pursuant to FOIL. Due to the complexity of the records you have requested, it may not be possible to produce them within the standard 20-day statutory period. We anticipate that we will be able to produce the records you have requested within 40 days. If you have questions or concerns, please direct them in writing to the address above.

If they run into a snag, they have to inform you of this and produce the records within a "reasonable period".

So it's not like NYC was under a five-day time crunch here. They could easily have responded and said it would take 40 or 60 days, being as there were several million records requested. That's definitely long enough to bring in a consultant (or even one of the more technically-literate staff members) to properly secure the data.

Comment Re:Goodbye (Score 1) 668

Oh, it's even more fiendishly perfect than what you describe.

See, at the end of the 10-year repayment period, the remaining balance does, in fact, get wiped, but the amount that's wiped is treated as taxable income. So if you've "racked up all the debt you want" and have $100,000 worth of forgiveness, say hello to a $35,000 tax bill.

What's that? You can't pay the tax on your newfound "wealth"? Well then, men with guns will come to your house, seize your property, and put you in a cage.

It's not feudalism, it's something rather worse.

Submission + - The RFP and IT Logistics for Washington's "Pot Czar" (

Esther Schindler writes: Last fall, the state of Washington passed a marijuana legalization referendum, and needed to acquire an outside consultant to run the program. "As it normally does, the state put out a request for proposal for a consultant to run the new legal marijuana program," writes Ron Miller in How Washington State handled a flood of applications to be its "pot czar". "As word leaked out that there was an RFP open for what essentially was a 'pot czar,' the floodgates opened. It would be the most popular RFP in the state's history. The Liquor Control Board needed a way to process these requests quickly and cheaply." In a typical RFP scenario, they would get maybe half a dozen responses. This one got close to 100.

But this is an IT and business process story, not a marijuana legalization story. Ron Miller writes about the cloud workflow required to solve the task:

He chose these particular tools because they all had open APIs, which allowed him to mash them together easily into the solution. They were easy to use, so reviewers could learn the system with little or no training, and they were mobile, so users could access the system from any device. In particular he wanted reviewers to be able to use the system on a tablet.

I suppose this could have been written about more mundane RFPs, but I bet you'll find this more interesting than most.

Comment Enforcement (Score 2, Interesting) 297

How will this shiny new tax be collected and enforced?

One option is to put the onus on the retailers to maintain a database of all the different sales tax rates in the country, so they can collect the appropriate amount on the purchase. At least in New York, sales taxes vary by county -- the State takes 4% and the county takes anywhere from 3-5%. That's 62 lines on the spreadsheet, just for New York. I think NYC adds a point or two as well. This would have to be correlated with a ZIP code table, so the retailer would know which ZIPs are in which jurisdictions. It's tedious, but not impossible. Perhaps the IRS could spend some of our money to draw up the tables and maintain them.

Another avenue is to put the onus on the buyer to calculate and remit the appropriate taxes to the authorities. If I were a sociopath, I'd like this method better. It doesn't burden the retailers and it provides a delicious means of social control, not to mention a wealth of interesting information on what people are buying. Let's take a non-Amazon company as an example, since Amazon has bought exemptions from State sales taxes:

NewEgg is contacted by the NY Department of Taxation and Finance and ordered to turn over their NY sales records. No warrant is required, since the request is for tax compliance purposes. DTF runs the records through their computer system and looks up the tax records of each NewEgg customer. If the customer didn't report the sale, they're in big trouble. If it's a significant amount that they didn't report, or there's a pattern of non-compliance, off to private prison with you!

Cue the naysayers saying I'm a paranoiac and Our Glorious Overlords would never do something so fiendish...

Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time. -- George Carlin