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Comment: Re:Texas Budget Deficit (Score 4, Informative) 811

by swfranklin (#35177178) Attached to: Amazon Pulling Out of Texas Over $269 Million Tax Bill

Companies don't PAY sales tax, they COLLECT it. The people in Texas that order from Internet retailers like Amazon are the ones who pay, or don't pay, sales tax. Amazon just collects the tax from the customer, and then pays it to Texas.

One difficulty is that if a Texas consumer wants to buy an item online, and they pay sales tax when ordering it from Amazon.com but not tax if ordering from (e.g.) buy.com, then Amazon will lose business. So it's in Amazon's best interests to NOT collect sales tax from Texas customers if they can avoid it.

There is no clear answer here. On the one hand, you have the Streamlined Sales Tax movement (http://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/) that is trying to enact legislation in as many states as possible requiring retailers to collect tax from customers, regardless of whether the retailer has a presence in that state. The intent is to "level the playing field" and close the no-tax loophole of ordering from out of state - allowing in-state merchants to compete fairly with out-of-state merchants. If this were enacted, Amazon would collect the tax and so would everyone else - so no one would be at an advantage or disadvantage in that regard.

That sounds well and fine, but the difficulty is the mechanics involved. Sure, Amazon and Wal-Mart and other big companies can code their web sites & shopping carts to figure out where the customer lives, and collect sales tax appropriately. The problem is that setting up a web site to do this is expensive - there are data subscriptions and a lot of coding involved. Over hundreds of thousands or millions of transactions, the cost is minimal. But the effort required by Amazon is really not much different from the effort required from doggiechewtoys.com or any other mom-n-pop operation - except that the little guys don't have the transaction volume to dilute the up-front costs. So it is VERY hard on small businesses to make this kind of change.

What to do? Beats me.

Comment: Re:What I haven't seen (Score 1) 154

by swfranklin (#35042040) Attached to: eBooks Nearly Outsell Print Books At Amazon

Nice thing about eBooks is they are not tied to a single device. I start one on my tablet, read a bit more on my PC, and some more on my iPhone. My spot in the book is always up to date, I can pull it up on any device I want and continue right where I left off.

So not "Seeing" the Kindle or iPad coming out of a restroom stall, doesn't mean they weren't reading an eBook in there.

Comment: Re:Horrible? Not so much. (Score 1) 2254

by swfranklin (#35009392) Attached to: Slashdot Launches Re-Design

Some things have moved around and I need to explore changes to see how features work differently before I complain about anything. However there are things I see that I do like.

I like that the Reply & Parent links are now text rather than buttons.

I like the clean look, agree that slimming the margins would allow a lot more information in given screen real estate and would not hurt anything.

Performance in Chrome 8.0.552.237 / WinXP is fine, this is not a particularly high horsepower computer. "Seems" better performing than before, e.g. loading a reply window always took a while before but this one snapped into place immediately.

Copy/Paste now works in Chrome - thumbs up!

Comment: Re:Too fucking bad.. (Score 1) 502

by swfranklin (#34878482) Attached to: Palin's E-Mail Hacker Imprisoned Against Judge's Wishes

"The US Bureau of Prisons, however, has decided to make Mr Kernell serve out his term in the low-security prison camp nearly 300 miles from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee."

Seriously guys, when you're incarcerated, you don't have a choice which facility you will be housed in. The USBOP is obviously making an example out of this guy, and I can totally understand why. What I don't understand is why this article seems to be doing a lot of crying on behalf of Kernell. Don't commit the crime if you're going to whine all the way to prison. It's that simple.

Not to mention that Ashland is the nearest low-security federal prison to his home. It's not like there is a prison in his neighborhood.

Comment: Re:Selling for scrap? (Score 1) 262

by swfranklin (#34717662) Attached to: Kodachrome Takes Its Final Bow Today
I've seen nothing to indicate that Dwayne has the last processing machinery in existence, just the last one in use. Plus, processing could be done without the machine they're using (it's an industrial model designed for high-volume work) - the problem is the chemicals. Kodak isn't making them any more.

Comment: Re:Adam Savage of Mythbusters (Score 1) 342

by swfranklin (#34637404) Attached to: Backscatter X-Ray Machines Easily Fooled

Actually, you sir, are incorrect. If you watch the video, you can note he specifically says he walked through the body scanner and he found the blades on his person.

If you were right, I'd agree with you. He does discuss a body scanner (probably millimeter wave, not backscatter) but he specifically says that the blades were in his LAPTOP BAG, which would have gone through a normal X-ray scanner. He does not express it very clearly, he mentions going through the scanner and then brings out the blades that TSA "Missed" - but keep listening and it's clear from the context (e.g. "Also missed nuts & bolts that were IN THERE") that the blades were in his bag, not on his person. Link to video

Comment: Re:Beta Test on the public! (Score 0) 123

by swfranklin (#34630952) Attached to: The 57 Lamest Tech Moments of 2010

Thank you HTC for Alpha testing the HTC EVO on the general public!

It wasn't alpha testing, it was just typical crappy HTC design & construction quality. Complaining about a junky HTC is like complaining that the scroll wheel on a Blackberry doesn't work smoothly. Yeah, they ALL do that (thankfully BB came out with a solid-state scroller finally).

The one phone I had that gave me zero hardware issues long-term was the iPhone 3G. YMMV.

Comment: Re:Adam Savage of Mythbusters (Score 0) 342

by swfranklin (#34525682) Attached to: Backscatter X-Ray Machines Easily Fooled

Adam Savage of Mythbusters walked through a backscatter with two 12" razor blades and they never noticed.

That's not correct - that was months ago, long before the backscatter. They missed the blades in his carry-on.

I don't think his situation was too unusual - I went through 5 airports in 2 weeks last winter(including Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta) and finally at LaGuardia they noticed a pocketknife I had forgotton was in my laptop case.

Comment: Re:That's one heck of a "long goodbye" (Score 1) 356

by swfranklin (#34500810) Attached to: Goodbye, VGA

As far as I know there are no VGA-DVI adapters (DVI-VGA does exist).

DVI-A to VGA adapters exist, but the video card must explicitly support DVI-A (Analog) - it's simply a way to map VGA analog video and digital video into a single DVI connector. If the video card is DVI-D (Digital) only, then it can't be converted to VGA.

You could get/make an adapter from VGA to DVI-A but most monitors' DVI ports support DVI-D only, if they support VGA they will have a discrete VGA port.

Wikipedia article on DVI

Comment: Re:You can't fix stupid (Score 1) 968

by swfranklin (#34487314) Attached to: Google Wants To Take Away Your Capslock Key

TFA is basically a troll. Starts with, "...looks like Google is pulling a Steve Jobs with Chrome..." - not exactly an unbiased statement.

Then, "According to Google, this will improve the quality of the comments". What, did he google on the word NO CAPS LOCK and come up with that quote? Whom did he ask? Was it an official comment or a joke?

Is there a soft caps lock feature? (I'm guessing yes). As infrequently as caps lock is legitimately used, a soft key sequence will work fine & free up keyboard real estate. I would not be surprised if the VAST majority of caps lock presses are accidental anyway.

If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary. -- Samuel Clemens

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