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Comment Re:Dear Matthew (Score 1) 531

I won't disagree that companies are only doing what's permissible. And rest assured I place the blame squarely on politicians. (And you better believe these things do influence my vote.)

But in many tech cases the IP is created in Silicon Valley (using American infrastructure, emergency services, etc), it resides in Ireland, and is financially offset by everyone else. So Americans could argue they are owed a little more in tax.

Again, I blame politicians. I know they leave these loopholes open deliberately -- they're remarkably efficient at passing legislation when they wish. (Violating our privacy, extending their entitlements, closing tax loopholes for private citizens, etc.) I presume they turn a blind eye to mega corporations for one or both of the following reasons: (1) political donation largesse; (2) a board seat when they leave politics.

On the upside: tracking the rise of minor parties and independents in Australian politics over the past decade -- including the occasional hung parliament -- gives me hope that democracy might just be working. (Albeit slowly.) And I don't think the future is great for the major parties ... I believe younger voters don't particularly identify with them.

Comment Re:So do the employees get to write that off? (Score 4, Insightful) 399

In my understanding, the below are 4 general scenarios listed in decreasing order of benefit to the employee:

Scenario 1: You're given a Pixel phone, no tax burden on employee.
In some scenarios, the employer may pay any tax on the value of the gift.
You benefit the full value of the gift ... $700 US.

Scenario 2: You're given a Pixel phone, employee pays tax on the value of the gift.
You benefit $400 US (let's assume you paid $300 tax on the value of the gift).

Scenario 3: Pixel phone donated to registered charity, donation is in the name of the employee
Employee gets to deduct the tax component from their salary. In reality it may not be this "clean" as tax may vary across employees
You benefit $300.

Scenario 4: Pixel phone donated to registered charity, donation made in the name of the employer
Employer claims the tax deduction.
You benefit $0.

Google / Alphabet appears to have chosen Scenario 4.
Caveats:
    I am not a tax lawyer!
    My understanding of tax law is based on the Australian environment. Other tax jurisdictions may throw these numbers off, wildly.
    Excludes non-financial factors e.g. warm fuzzy feelings.

Anyone who knows better is welcome to chime-in! I'd be curious to know of significantly different tax rules in other countries.

Comment Re:The human fund (Score 1) 399

Alphabet likely would have spent around the same amount of money on its holiday gifts, so it’s not exactly a cost-saving move

Just wanted to flag that when donating to a charity the value of the donation MAY be tax deductible. So it's possible that Google / Alphabet recouped [their marginal tax rate] x [$30 million]. Of course this would vary across tax jurisdictions.

Having said that, even the full $30 million would be peanuts for those entities.

Comment Re:It'd ne worth next to nothing now (Score 1) 67

I'd much rather spend my time doing fun things that working or nurturing a company.

And I'm sure Zuckerberg felt that growing Facebook was a fun thing.

Once he was offered several billion for his company, he probably figured he could continue with this fun project knowing he could always bail and get at least one billion.

Comment Re:Battery size doesn't matter (Score 1) 292

I want [the slightly heavier, thicker] phone a lot more than I want a lighter slimmer one that can't get me through an entire day.

Now, I agree with you. (Gimme a slightly thicker phone and triple its battery life.)

But I'll ask you:
Do you use battery cases? They add thickness & weight and increase the battery life.

Comment Re:Good news for me (Score 1) 181

you don't know the whole story.

lenovo is many companies. their business laptop division is nothing like the 'yoga crap' that they sell consumers with crapware.
...

the spyware and phone home stuff does not tend to exist on the business level lappies. business guys would not put up with that, generally; only 'yoga users' (lol, what a name!) would.

Um ...

As of September 2015: Lenovo systems may include software components that communicate with servers on the internet - All ThinkCentre, All ThinkStation, All ThinkPad

Comment Re:Privacy is dead (Score 1) 158

I've taken a different approach to email. (See a previous post where I tried to explain my rationale.)
However when so many people / organisations use Gmail ... it almost defeats the purpose!

I don't disagree with what you wrote above. I can envisage a model similar to the way TextSecure / Signal handle text messaging:
where if one's contacts have a PGP key, then the client will obtain those keys and opportunistically encrypt emails to those contacts.

But can users be trusted to not lose their keys / forget their passwords? (And therefore lose access to old emails.)
Perhaps encryption could only be used for email in transit. (?)

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