Archive for January, 2005

Toyota’s Hybrid Highlander coming soon

Monday, January 31st, 2005

This evening I recieved spam a newsletter from Toyota which noted that their Highlander Hybrid should be on sale by mid 2005. I really, really hope that Toyota will keep the deadline, since I’m *this close* to getting rid of my Jeep.

I’m never buying an American car ever again. And getting a 4 wheel drive hybrid just sweetens the deal, as far as I’m concerned.

hey all

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Those of you who know me “off blog” know how much I enjoy looking at my logs and figuring out who is reading and where they are coming from (yeah, especially those of you who are now local to me). Since I’ve started posting (again) I’m thrilled to see new people reading, but I haven’t heard from some of you!

Anyway, for those of you who are new or are just really, really quiet, feel free to comment or to drop me a line at blog at cleverhack dot com…

whoopsie…

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

I’ve updated WP…and am messing around with index.php… watch the transformation!

Intuit is *still* evil, news at ll.

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

This morning, boingboing and slashdot are all aflutter because Intuit is yet again disabling earlier versions of Quicken. The Slashdot thread has some informative posts from a few developers who have worked for financial institutions and have experience with Intuit. According to one poster, the reason for this most recent push to upgrade is that Intuit has switched vendors for their online bill pay backend.

I’ve written about Intuit and it’s unholy ways in the past, let’s peruse the timeline, shall we? Suffice it to say, I’m not only a Quicken user but I’ve taught classes on how to use Quicken, so I think you could call me a power user. Intuit is a software company that writes various financial software packages, some of them you might know like personal finance software Quicken, Turbo Tax, and software for small business called Quickbooks. If you’ve ever used Intuit software, you’ll notice that Intuit not only is selling software, but is trying to sell services, which may or may not be beneficial to the consumer. Product tie ins with Quicken, for example, include stock quotes, integration with TurboTax and online bill pay directly from your Quicken software.

In 2003, Intuit got into a heap of bad PR because they included digitial rights software called C-Dilla along with their Turbo Tax product, without telling anyone. The major problem with the included DRM, was that it was uninstallable and it did not allow the software to be run on more than one computer, which proved to be a major inconveience to honest users. It was only months later that Intuit apologized for the mistake, and handed out universal product keys for Turbo Tax. Then, in May 2004 Intuit announced they were cutting support for previous versions of Quicken 98, Quicken 99, and Quicken 2000.

Back then I observed…

The WaPo article touches upon a personal sticking point I’ve had with the way the whole Quicken “system” operates. If you use the Quicken bill pay and/or the Quicken.com stock quote and investing features, you have to use the Quicken servers. Thus, when Intuit chooses to pull support, you’re up a creek. This is why in my classes I would make sure that my students realized that they could pull their own stock quotes/do bill pay through their financial institution’s Web site.

In all reality, the problem for Intuit is that there not much innovation to be done in the area of personal finance software, therefore, one needs to add bloat in order to move new versions of the product. Like I stated earlier, most people have relatively simple needs and the only way that they are going to purchase new versions of this type of software is if the support for the software ends.

A snow wish

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

I really wish that PennDOT and municipal and local governments here in PA would get their act together concerning snow removal. It seems that the philosophy down here is “Oh it snowed? Let’s put some salt down and hope it melts.” on major travel routes. And talking about municipal governments, you’re damn lucky to see salt on a secondary road. Let me put it to you this way, the road in front of where I live was cleared of snow from last Sunday’s snowstorm on Tuesday - and that’s because it melted.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t like to drive when it’s snowing not because I’m worried about me, I’m worried about the other morons sharing the road with me. Nothing like driving behind a guy in a Lincoln going 20.

My car is currently covered with road salt and I’ve had to refill my windshield washer fluid. I didn’t have problems like this in Vermont.

The funny thing is that I when I drive to work in Delaware, I notice that DelDOT does a mighty fine job of clearing the roads. Even the secondary ones.

mail software pondering

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

I use Thunderbird on Windows at work for my email needs, and I am just wondering why Thunderbird doesn’t support message bouncing like god’s given mail.app does.

Bids sought for Net sales tax systems

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

From The Washington Post

State governments working on a national Internet sales tax system are moving ahead with plans to create the data infrastructure that they and retailers will need to manage the collection of taxes on most e-commerce transactions.

Working together under the auspices of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, 40 states and the District of Columbia have issued two requests for bids from technology companies to design the software and Web-based networks to track millions of online purchases and process the appropriate sales tax payments.

A request issued by the states last Friday seeks bids to build a registration system where all Internet retailers — ranging from giants like Amazon.com to smaller companies — would go to declare their intent to collect and remit taxes on online sales made to customers in the project’s participating states.

The second request, issued last November, is aimed at making it easier for online retailers to collect sales taxes. The states plan to award contracts to multiple vendors who would provide sales tax collection systems to online retailers. As currently envisioned by the states, Web merchants would pay nothing for the services. Instead, the vendors would take a small cut from the revenues.

To date, 19 states — including Florida, Michigan and Texas — have modified their sales tax codes to make it easier for retailers to collect taxes on Internet sales. By October 2005, the states hope to have a voluntary collection system working in at least 15 states representing roughly one-fourth of the U.S. population. With that in place, they hope, Congress would be more likely to endorse a mandatory, national Internet sales tax system.

The Streamlined Sales Tax Project home page is http://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/. Here is a list of participating states.

From someone whose day job is all about e-commerce, all I have to say is “Ugh.” You have to love the bit in the article about how this consortium is hoping to get a mandatory Internet sales tax imposed by Congress, once proof of concept for this sales tax system is implemented.

I’m guessing that the “system” that is being designed will be similiar to how USPS/UPS/FedEx shipping tables are implemented for popular e-commerce shopping cart systems. In other words, the state and local sales tax tables will be updated every year and if you run your own shopping cart system, you’ll have to update the module provided by whatever vendor this sales tax group approves.

However, what I think is most interesting about this sales tax push is the fact that this consortium is pushing to collect sales tax based on the customer’s residency, not where the retailer (or the retailer’s servers) is located. Basically, this group is trying to enforce the idea that the transaction occurs where the customer is physically located. This is interesting as other parts of Internet law has been based upon where the servers are (i.e. AOL winning judgements against spammers because of Virginia laws being broken or the French decision against Yahoo.)

Mommy Hottest

Friday, January 28th, 2005

From USA Today

Best quote: “I don’t think you have to stop living just because you become a mother.”

oh, how arty

Friday, January 28th, 2005

I know you all were dying for a recent self portrait. Maybe I should submit it to The Mirror Project.

c*h*a*n*g*e*

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

For some goofy reason, I’ve got the itch to create a quickie php script that’ll change the background of the blog upon reloading. I’m in the mood for change.

dogblog

Monday, January 24th, 2005

The Best Dogblog Ever.

blog errata

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

I have gotten my monthly archives working again. Praise be.