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Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 392

I guess the next question then is, why does Sales Tax matter so much?

In theory people are supposed to pay an equivilent "use tax" to make up for the sales tax they didn't pay but afaict they rarely actually did so and some states even gave up and allowed people to pay an "estimated use tax" instead.

Perhaps I am naive but the use tax is on the books in every state that has a sales tax, based on my work paying use tax in many states for a corporation many years ago.

Instead of writing new laws, is there not a way to use technology to collect the proper tax?

One idea, right off the top of my head: At the time one places an order, it is not completed until the buyer is directed to a page that, based on zip code (or however they define local taxes), requires the buyer to submit the appropriate use tax to their state/locality. Tables can easily be kept up to date with the latest changes in tax rates and the vendor could collect the tax and submit it monthly to the appropriate tax collection agencies. I don't see this as a terribly difficult process to implement.

Like I said, maybe I'm just naive. I welcome other thoughts about this or other ideas that don't involve passing new legislation.


Submission + - Gary Kovacs, new CEO of Mozilla on Future of Web (

An anonymous reader writes: In his first interview as CEO of Mozilla, Gary Kovacs, commented on the future of web, their plans on keeping H.264 out of browser and what this means for Silverlight and Flash. He also talks about privacy and new identity projects running inside their Labs that will help reinvent the way we browse the web.

Comment Just because you can doesn't mean you should (Score 1) 366

The ability to store information in a myriad of ways is great - when it's necessary. I understand the effect a little OCD can have on you though. It's not difficult to find or create software to keep track of every minute detail about your music, your hobbies, your household inventory, your finances, and everything else in your life.

The part you appear to have trouble with is determining the degree of detail that you really need to manage. It's like scope creep - you can always add another column for more data. But do you really need all that data? When and how will you use it?

Everyone who advocates simplifying is on track but saying it and doing it are totally different for someone with OCD tendencies.

Pick one area and examine it - music for example. Do you really need all the covers and lyrics and notes that accompany an album? Or just the barebones of: artist, album, song titles? If music is your passion you might need all that information.

Or look at finances. Sure, you could make an entry into something like Quicken for every penny of income and expense and have a great record for taxes and all kinds of things. But do you need that much information? As a student, I suspect that a notebook or a spreadsheet with each month's bills and income listed and a balanced bank account would work fine.

As someone with a bit of OCD and ADD, it is tempting to try to keep track of every little detail of my life on a computer but is it necessary? I have discovered that it is not.

Also, if your paper habits are messy, that's a good sign that eventually your electronic habits will follow the same path. I find that, after the first week or two of great data entry, my electronic systems become as tiresome, if not more so, as my paper methods. Who wants to fire up an app to enter the $5 latte they bought that day? So, that receipt gets set aside until there are more. Next thing I know, I have the same piles of paper I've always had and the weight of a huge amount of data entry besides.

Once you know what you truly need to track and maintain, then you can look for the appropriate solution(s).

United States

Journal Journal: Mortgage Jubilee 9

Due to excessive greed and stupidity in the higher levels of repackaged mortgages, you might have the opportunity to own your property a bit earlier than you might have thought. Worth a look Mortgage jubilee

Comment Re:It's in their best interests (Score 1) 661

Mod his comment up, please.

GreatBunzinni has hit the nail on the head with regard to how the average home or small office buyer looks at the specs.

These users don't want to spend hours becoming intimately acquainted with the various components. They are buying a tool in a box with cords and "stuff" to use to accomplish something. It's often a frustrating, confusing, unhappy part of computer ownership, especially for those who have a clue but neither the time nor passion to see where that clue might take them.

Comment Re:It's in their best interests (Score 1) 661

Totally anecdotal

I have seen both increased spending and lost sales as a result of consumer confusion. While freelancing for individuals and small businesses, I met people who couldn't begin to comprehend how much power they had purchased, often at ridiculously high prices, for their relatively minor needs. And I met others with ancient systems because they found it too confusing when they tried to decide what to buy to replace what they had. Generally more frugal, they just made do with what they had.

I worked both in a large metropolitan area and a very backwoodsy rural area and I'd say that I saw more ancient systems than oversold systems. I went to work for another company about 3 years ago but I imagine the economy has enticed more people to be of a frugal mindset.

The Courts

How IT Pros Can Avoid Legal Trouble 230

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Peter S. Vogel reports on the kinds of inadvertent transgressions that could land IT pros into legal trouble without realizing it. From confidentiality and privacy negligence, to copyright and source code violations, IT staff are legally liable for a lot more than they might think — in some cases because the law will not stop at your employer, instead holding individual IT employees responsible for violations even if the individuals are just 'doing their job.' Worse, as the recent case against Terry Childs has shown, judges and juries are often not technically savvy enough to understand what IT pros do. 'That lack of understanding can lead them to conclude you're at fault or should have known better,' Vogel writes. 'After all, many people think anyone technical is a whiz kid or brainiac on any topic.'" What legally questionable scenarios have cropped up at your job?
Wireless Networking

Tracking Down Wi-Fi Interference? 499

Nicros writes "Almost every evening, between 8:30 and 10:00, my Wi-Fi just dies. This, in itself, could be explained by a crappy Wi-Fi source or some hardware failure, except that I know both of my neighbors are experiencing the same loss of signal at the same time. While the Wi-Fi is down, the LAN is OK, and anything plugged into Cat5 can access the Internet just fine. One possibility comes to mind — perhaps some other neighbor arrives home and turns on their router from 8:30 to 10:00? And something in their signal is hosing our Wi-Fi? I have tried looking around for software to help identify the source of interference, but either the programs are ridiculously expensive for a home user, or else my card (Intel Link 1000 BGN) isn't supported. (Netstumbler is an example of the latter.) Any suggestions on how I can track this down?"

Comment Re:It's not "insightful" (Score 1) 192

I'll add that 10 years is a very long time to go with only "one mishap." But that one mishap for the hapless consumer wipes out 10 years of their pictures, music, and other data because those same users don't know about backing up their data. That's priceless stuff for those consumers.

Comment Re:Dont know (Score 1) 1213

In the late 90s many of my jobs were to write small apps for very small companies and organizations, mostly non-profit or governmental. I also often worked on existing apps to make them compatible with a variety of WIndows places that could only afford to upgrade 5-10 computers per year. There was more work than the company I worked for could handle and at least 50% of it was for small (30-100 desktops) companies. Hazarding a guess, there may be hundreds of thousands of very small operations that have paid for custom software upon which they heavily depend. One might say that they are paying too much by not biting the bullet and paying for licenses for widely-used software that is available. But both non-profit and governmental agencies seldom have annual or even biannual budgets that allow for that.

Upgrading is difficult at these operations. Trying to follow a long-term plan that is a moving target, annually they have to deal with 5-10 new computers (usually with a new OS if they intend to upgrade) which go to the users who can best take advantage of them. Of course all the legacy software has to be addressed before roll-out. Then the cascade begins because keeping employees who aren't earning top dollar and place a lot of importance on their equipment and bells and whistles becomes a political issue and employee satisfaction is important - particularly for non-profits. If a company has 100 desktops and only replaces 10 per year, it takes 10 years to completely turn over all systems.

XP has been reliable for what, 9 years I think someone said. Small companies are just finally getting everyone on the same Windows OS. It's little wonder they have no desire to jump on the upgrade bandwagon.


Submission + - Hacking for Humanity: Random Hacks of Kindness (

Elizabeth Sabet writes: "Google, Microsoft, NASA, The World Bank and Yahoo! are unlikely partners but they have joined forces in the spirit of working towards the greater good by bringing together the best and brightest in disaster relief management and the ever-growing hacker community. This progressive initiative is called Random Hacks of Kindness ( and its mission is to mobilize a world-wide community of technologists to solve real-world problems through technology.

Random Hacks of Kindness is gearing up for its first world-wide “hackathon for humanity” on June 4-6, 2010. Following last years inaugural event in Mountain View, California, which produced software solutions that were used on the ground during the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the incredible team of partners have decided to take the effort global.

RHoK engages volunteer software engineers, independent hackers and students from around the world in a marathon weekend of hacking events and coding competitions to develop software solutions for problems posed by subject matter experts. This first global Hackathon will feature sponsored events in Washington DC, Sydney, Nairobi, Jakarta and Sao Paulo.

The DC event will begin with a keynote reception at the State Department followed by 48 hours of competitive hacking at Microsoft’s Washington D.C. offices and will conclude with an awards ceremony showcasing the winning hacks. The upcoming RHoK event will be held in conjunction with the D.C. Crisis Camp and the Understanding Risk: Innovation in Disaster Risk Assessment conference at The World Bank. Awards for the best global hacks will be presented at all event locations.

Participation is open to everyone so bring your laptop and get ready for an incredible experience. Meals, cooperative workspace and plenty of prizes and RHoK swag will be provided. Bring your friends or come to make new ones. Registration is open and free so sign up today and take part in an exciting collaborative and open source project that has the power to save lives and make a difference in the world.

RHoK is a partnership initiative inspired by the notion that Hacking for Humanity is a call to action for the best and most innovative software engineers to make a difference. We can’t wait to see you there!

For more details or to register for the DC event, please visit"

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