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Comment Reminders + Directions + Whatever-isrelevant (Score 1) 125

We have always had tools that can do each task well - INDIVIDUALLY. The value-add of these virtual assistants (and I presume we are talking about Siri, Google Now, and their breed) is that they are able to merge the different information together and help us manage the immediate tasks on hand.

If my morning commute is likely to be congested, it will warn me.
If it detects me lingering very near a wireless AP next to a box office, it can prompt me with some promotions to save a couple of bucks.
If I haven't contacted someone in my "VIP" list on their birthday, it can help me ensure that I stay in the good books.

But of course, it can also stab me in the back and send my data to hackers in Elbonia who will use my picture on "stop your balding" advertisements.

Excuse me while I go find an army of data werewolves on LinkedIn.

Comment Re:counterfit? (Score 1) 180

They are "counterfeits" because they display manufacturer LOGO, part numbers and date codes. I don't see the report mentioning if they are "fake"/non-working parts.

So, this is like you requesting for a iPod first gen that is produced in 2012. The vendor will sell you a music player that shows the Apple logo, has the proper part number (product identifier) and a manufacturing date of "2012" - even though no first gen iPod are manufactured in 2012 anymore.

GAO in this case, didn't say if they tested whether the iPod works as a music player or syncs with iTunes. They did a test on the material and declared "no, this isn't produced by Apple in 2012".

Comment Re:Learn from the Experts, ye tax-boggled folks! (Score 1) 176

Bucket rates exist for a smooth transition. Any government using a slab rate ought to be shot.

Slab rate
Tax rate is 10% if income is above $20,000.
If you earn $21,000, you will pay $21,000 x 10% = $2,100.
Actual income = $21,000 - $2,100 = $18,900. =(

Bucket rate
Tax rate is 10% for income exceeding $20,000.
If you earn $21,000, for $20,000, you pay $0.
Taxable income is $21,000 - $20,000 = $1,000. So, you pay $1,000 x 10% = $100.
Actual income = $21,000 - $100 = $20,900. =)

Social assistance schemes should work in tandem. Once you earn a little more and more, you will receive a little bit less and less. It should be tied to what you earn each week/month and not what you have saved out of what you earned. That will kill the incentive to work their own way out of poverty.

Comment Learn from the Experts, ye tax-boggled folks! (Score 5, Interesting) 176

It is done similarly in über-effective, ultra-efficient Singapore:

1) Let's say I'm employed by company C. Company C will send to taxman my identity card number and the amount they have paid me for the tax year.
2) Taxman will do the calculation of tax. Taxman will also consider the recurring tax claims/rebates I am likely to have (spouse/parents-related rebates, for example).
4) Taxman sends me a reminder to confirm their calculations on their website.
5) I will adjust the calculations if needed and submit the final figure.
6) Taxman sends me the final amount of tax I need to pay with payment options including a 12-month instalment plan deducted from my bank account.
7) If I'm audited, I will have to provide documents for the claims/rebates.

Total time spent: about 1 hour (including claims for private insurance, education expenses, donations)
Total $$$ spent: ZERO, ZILCH, NADA!

Comment Seasons? What seasons? (Score 1) 454

I live in Singapore currently. Technically, we are still in the northern hemisphere but the weather here cannot be any more monotonous. It is sunny all-year round (quite a plus) but the humidity is also a pain (minus to that plus) both to the body and photos. Rain is more unpredictable than a menopausal human (more minus) and there's no guaranteed stretch of dry spell so your outdoor events are at the mercy of weather god(s).

So, our fall and spring semesters are just... in name. If you become comatose right now and wake up after a random duration, you won't be able to tell the time of the year from the temperature and atmosphere.

Comment Hi-Gain Antennae? OpenWRT? I'm sold. (Score 1) 322

I'm assuming the poll is for consumer-class devices and that networking equipment excludes NAS/SAN stuff. In that case, I don't have any favourite vendor. What I normally do before I shop around for my router/AP is check for external (AND replaceable) antennae and OpenWRT compatibility. These two modifications will give me all the features that I will need (DHCP reservation, bandwidth monitoring, settings changes without requiring a reboot, etc).

When it comes to NAS, though, I lean towards D-Link. I have DNS-323 and DNS-343 running at home and they have been very useful RAID arrays.

Comment Re:Fees? (Score 1) 150

Then, who is going to pay for the effort to examine these patent applicatons that will be invalid? The taxpayers? The onus is on the applicant to make sure it is patentable. The current norm of companies submitting as many patent applications (because USPTO is anyhow approving a good majority of them) to inflate their asset values and add more firepower to their legal weapons is such a joke.

Comment A Parallel Universe (Score 1) 309

If I re-run my elementary school education and (presumably) get more favourable results and "better" middle school/high school/college, won't I practically be re-running my entire education? Personally, I messed up my high school-equiv (GCE A-level, that is) but I thoroughly enjoyed my undergrad years. If re-running my high school means that I go to a different school and get a different set of friends, well, thanks but no, thanks. I'd rather take the first run, anytime.

Comment Raped thrice, ain't we? (Score 1) 173

Music and film industries make money out of us to lobby for laws that are only beneficial to them. The government taxes us more to enforce this piece-of-crap legislation. The ISPs will milk us dry again to cover the cost of this extra "regulation". For Pete's sake, we should be born with KY jelly sprayed on our orifices.

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