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Comment Re:In works within the EU... (Score 1) 949

EU members have passed extensive tax harmonization over the years. Rates are set by country and the details of what's taxable where and for how much has been made consistent throughout the union. No such thing has happened or is practical in the US. Every state has its own rules for what's taxed at what rate. For example, in most states you don't have to pay sales tax on food items bought at the grocery store, but in others you still have to pay sales tax on those items fully or in some states at a lower rate than you would for non-food items. In New York, you don't have to pay sales tax on clothing. North Carolina has an annual sales tax holiday where certain items like books are sales tax free for 3 days a year.

What really makes it complex though is that the rates or rules are not consistent across an entire state because local governments can also have their own taxes. Where I live in Seattle, we pay the base 6.5% Washington state sales tax plus 3% in local taxes. Some of those local taxes go to the city where the item is purchased, some to the county where the item was purchased and yet some goes to the regional transit authority spanning multiple counties. On top of that, if you're buying food and beverages in a restaurant, there's an additional 0.5% which goes to pay off debt for stadiums.

There are tens of thousands of different individual jurisdictions just like this across the country. Harmonization would mean elimination of dedicated funding sources for local governments which is just very unlikely to happen any time soon.

Comment Re:I'm not too good for code reviews (Score 1) 495

A few years ago, I took a training course on something or other (I think it was object-oriented design patterns). The instructor brought up an excellent example from outside the software world--germ theory and hygienic medical practices. Ignaz Semmelweis had shown that doctors washing their hands dramatically reduced mortality of patients in hospitals. At the time, his contemporaries thought he was crazy and many were offended by the implication that their hands were unclean. Even after Pasteur proved the biological mechanism of germ theory many years later, it still took years for handwashing to become a completely accepted medical practice because many doctors felt they just didn't have time for it.

Good software engineering practices like code reviews, source control, bug tracking, unit testing, etc. are generally no different. If applied correctly, they should reduce the overall time to release a product.

Comment Re:Should have been 3 Baby Microsofts (Score 3, Insightful) 176

Don't forget the implications of the BSD/AT&T lawsuit in the early 90s on the rise of Linux. Even Linus himself has admitted that had 386/BSD been available to him (i.e., not caught up in a major lawsuit which delayed development and release of other BSD derivatives), he probably would have never written Linux.

Comment Re:FTW! (Score 1) 141

Many years ago I worked for a small startup that pirated pretty much every piece of software we used. This wasn't light piracy of not keeping track of licenses or something of that nature. People there had literally had downloaded programs like Word and Photoshop from warez sites. As a startup, we were broke and felt somewhat justified in not being able to afford software.

Eventually we were acquired by a mid-sized company (maybe 500 employees or so) that was reasonably profitable. When my boss went to ask for budget to actually buy the software to replace illegal copies, he was told that employees are expected to buy their own tools and that no budget would be provided. Literally, we were probably talking about the equivalent of Adobe CS for 3 or 4 people--not a ton of money for something that's critical to doing your job. So did our designers go out and buy Photoshop? Hell, no! We all just kept using the pirated versions and muttered about turning them into the SBA some day.

That management didn't even respect us enough to buy us the tools we needed to do the job was pretty detrimental to the morale. Like many startups, we all left within a year or so of acquisition. I'd have turned them into the SBA in a hot minute after leaving, but I just wanted to move on with my life at that point and just didn't want to bother with figuring out how to report them.

A few years ago, I was searching for the company's information while updating my resume. The first page of search results were all about an SEC filing against the CEO for some sort of insider trading and securities fraud. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people.

Comment Re:Get rid of state-recognized parties. (Score 1) 416

This is pretty much already the case in Washington State (and probably others too). You cannot choose party affiliation when you register. Candidates just state what they want listed on the ballot for their party (it can be anything they want) which lead to weird situations like Rossi choosing "GOP Party". For most offices, the two candidates with the most votes in the primary (regardless of party) advance to the general election. When it comes to presidential elections, there is a separate traditional primary but it's fairly worthless. Republicans determine half their delegates by the primary and half by caucus whereas the Democrats determine all their candidates by caucus thereby making it a government funded straw poll.

Comment Re:Not just Microsoft (Score 1) 650

It's not just the rich people in places like Clark County. Pretty much everybody living there goes over the border to Oregon to shop for big ticket items. For example, there's a huge shopping center near the airport on I-205 with an Ikea and other big box stores right across the river. The parking lot is filled with cars bearing Washington plates. In order to combat this effect, WA passed a law years ago which allows OR residents to shop in WA sales tax free.

Comment Re:Not just Microsoft (Score 1) 650

Local sales taxes are still pretty high in many areas of Washington state. In Seattle, the rate is 9.5% on most things, 10% on restaurants. Various special excise taxes are relatively high here too. Two examples are liquor and cigarette taxes. The liquor taxes are the highest in the nation once you figure in the markup by the state liquor stores ($16 bottle of vodka at Costco in CA is like $42 in WA). Property taxes are relatively low (although maybe not as low as California in terms of real dollars collected with the Prop 13 caps). The tax breakdown is roughly one-third for each of sales/excise, property and B&O. A lot of the disparity is probably made up by B&O, which is a particularly weird tax that's not seen outside of WA as far as I know. It's a gross revenues (as opposed to income) business tax.

Comment Re:To be replaced by...? (Score 1) 342

All Microsoft had to do was implement a store in addition to the previously-open nature of Windows Mobile, clean up the GUI a bit (the GUI was always the weak point of PocketPC/Windows Mobile/Windows Phone) and they would have a serious contender. Instead, they took the most attractive features of Windows Mobile and threw it away, and turned it into yet another would-be iPhone contender: too much too little too late.

What you describe is exactly Windows Phone (formerly known as Windows Mobile) 6.5 and it has not done well in the market. Its main features were a massive cleanup (as opposed to complete redesign in the case of 7) of the UI to make it more "finger friendly", Windows Marketplace for Mobile (i.e., an app store) and My Phone for backup/restore/find my phone. The lackluster sales of 6.5 have really shown that Microsoft had little choice but to undertake the massive backwards incompatible rewrite that is WP7.

Comment Re:I don't understand (Score 1) 366

The reason WM has been such a failure is because clueless management refused to recognize that iPhone was radically changing the smart phone business. Microsoft was really one of the first players in the smartphone market, going back to the WinCE PDA days. For most of its history, the business was entirely about selling to business people at large companies. iPhone changed all of that rather quickly in the summer of 2007. People like Pieter Knook (SVP of mobile up to that point) refused to change the direction of the product towards the rapidly growing consumer market. Eventually, upper management cleaned house by firing Knook et al and brought in new leadership (Terry Myerson and Andy Lees, in particular) to completely turn Windows Mobile around. The plans for the next version were substantially reset, massive reorgs happened--basically house was cleaned. Only now are the results of that being seen with the new Windows Phone 7 stuff.

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