Sunday, April 09, 2006

Saturday: Techie Day

Yep. The SO and I went to breakfast at Denny's then to Fry's Electronics. Fry's is the temple of all that is techie. They have appliances too - I got Rudy the Roomba there. But today the SO was after a new AMD Athalon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor (I just copy the words on the box, I have no idea what they mean) and I didn't want anything in particular but once I saw one I wanted a graphics tablet to try out.

I came home with my Wacom (I have to think twice when I type that because I keep wanting to type Wacoal - I think most of ya'll ladies will get that) Graphire4 4x5 tablet. I've been playing with it on and off today. I'm going to have to keep practicing - but it's pretty handy. I already use the mouse that came with it for all my mousing online. It's much easier than the wireless one I was using.

The tablet came with some bundled software as well. I haven't decided if I want to install the PhotoShop Elements - I had that on the laptop before it crashed and needed a new hard-drive. I didn't re-install it because I found it highly confusing and didn't get much use out of it. Besides I have the PaintShop ProX program now and it's working out just fine for me.

But a program called Just Write Office 4 and another called EverNote looked interesting, so I installed them. I'm having much fun with them both.

Just Write puts an interface with my tablet and Word or Excel or Power(shudder)Point. I can do a doodle or write a note in long hand - I'm not sure how valuable it will be - but I'll see how it works for me.

EverNote, though, is really cool. If I highlight anything on the web and click the EverNote icon in my toolbar it saves the quote and the URL on the EverNote which is lie a scrolling tape of notes that can be tagged, organized, and searched. This will be very handy for blogging. You can do other types of clips and also use the graphics pad to doodle or mind map.

Nifty stuff.

I've been reading and cleaning and doing laundry, too today. I'm currently reading a book about the Viet Nam war which has me riveted. I'm going to do a review of it for someone - might even put it up on the 'net somewhere someday - I'm sorry to be so vague, but I can't say much more until things actually pan out.

~~~~~insert 8 hours of sleep here~~~~~

Hi again. Yep. I stopped there last night and didn't get back to it. Now it's Sunday morning. There were a few things I wanted to add to my post before I put it up.

1. Goose Attacks Toy Store Shoppers I like ducks but I think I don't like geese. At least this one's type.

2. The IRS and debt collectors: A bad marriage - The Red Tape Chronicles - Apparently the IRS will start going after delinquent taxpayers with collection services.

I received a notice a few months back that the IRS wanted me to explain my tax returns for the prior two years. I had taken the advice from Turbo Tax on how to claim my employee stock option exercises and it was incorrect. So I went to a CPA, he re-did my taxes, wrote the appropriate letters and I actually ended up with a refund from one year and owed a bit more on the other year. Which I paid with interest. I figured I'd fixed the problem.

They wrote me again back in February - apparently they had received the usual forms from my broker on my option exercises. These forms don't provide all the data about the shares - you have to provide additional documentation with your taxes, which my CPA did. In case you aren't familiar, with employee options you only get the difference between the price of the share when it's granted and the price of the share when you 'exercise' it. If the share price when the option was granted was $10 and you exercise the option at $15 then you only get $5 - less witholding at the max rate. So, my income wasn't $15 a share - it's $5. But the IRS thinks my income was the $15 based on the form they got (which they should know isn't the whole story. Thus, instead of checking on the revised tax forms I sent in for the year for which I paid the extra tax owed, with interest(and have a cancelled check), they just sent me another letter.

My CPA answered it. Now they write me again. They are acting as if they didn't get the letter. They think I owe them a lot of money (a really big huge lot - twice what my taxes were that year). Now my CPA will have to send yet another letter.

Yep, these same wonderfully organized folk will be using on their great ability to know whether or not one has actually paid taxes to decide if they will be sending out Bruno and Spike to get back taxes from folkwho may very well either not owe those taxes or have already paid them.

Any wonder why some Americans keep trying to elect people who have tax reform on their platforms?

3. PNH's Sidelights on Making Light had this great link - Google in 20 years. Heck, I need it now. I can't tell you how often I have to call my cellphone from the house phone to find it.

4. I called gravity a force and my SO told me I was wrong. He said gravity is the shape of the universe. I thought there were strong and weak forces in physics and gravity was a weak force. Has that been changed? He told me to go read it on Wikipedia, that it would probably be simple enough to understand there. Hello, I knew that gravity was called a weak force in physics once upon a time and I never took one physics class. I READ ABOUT IT in all the hundreds of books and Analog articles I've read throughout 40 years of reading about science and reading SF. However, I did go to Wikipedia anyway. What did I find there?

The Wikimedia Foundation servers are currently experiencing technical difficulties.

The problem is most likely temporary and will hopefully be fixed soon. Please check back in a few minutes.

For further information, you can visit the #wikipedia channel on the Freenode IRC network.

In the meantime, you may be able to view Google's cached version of this page.

Wikipedia is now one of the most visited sites on the Internet by traffic and continues to grow, and as a result the Wikimedia Foundation has a constant need to purchase new hardware. If you would like to help, please donate.

Great. So I go to Google and type "what is gravity" and find the cached page from Wikipedia on gravity:

In physics, gravitation or gravity is the tendency of objects with mass to accelerate toward each other. The gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature, the other three being the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. Gravitation force is the weakest of these interactions, but acts over great distances and is always attractive. In classical mechanics, gravitation arises out of the force of gravity (which is often used as a synonym for gravitation). In General Relativity gravitation arises out of spacetime being curved by the presence of mass, and is not a force. In quantum gravity the graviton is the postulated carrier of the gravitational force.[1]

Gee, I see the word 'force' all over the place and gosh - it's the weakest of the 4 forces. I know I can't remember what we had for dinner last night but darned if I didn't remember that. I need to hear his explanation for this one now - I'm not saying he's wrong - I'm saying that if physics has re-classified gravity from a force to 'something else' I'd really be interested in understanding it better. In my other Googling I did find this article, Scientists Say There is No Gravity, but I have reason to doubt it's veracity - perhaps the name of the site is a clue?

I like being as scientifically literate as I can manage without a formal science education. I don't understand in a complete and scientific way what 'quantum foam' is but I've read about it and read stories that discuss it (Baxter's Transcendent being one of the most recent) so I'm not totally ignorant of the concept and I find it fascinating.

One of the funniest things I've seen today, though, is when you Google "quantum foam" one of the ubiqitous Google sidebar ads comes up:

Quantum Foam
Whatever you're looking for
you can get it on eBay.

My next post will probably be about something I heard on the radio whilst taking my son to work today. I may have discovered a worthy social/political movement/cause to get involved with - we'll see what I think after I've researched it some.

Meanwhile, I hope your week is lovely!

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AstonWest said...

Gravity is acceleration (9.8 m / sec^2)

Be careful with the IRS.
I read (in the FairTax book) about a company that accidentally shorted them a dime, and they attempted to nail the company for an unbelievable amount of money in penalties and fees.

Sean D. Schaffer said...

For future reference, it's called an AMD Athlon Processor, not an AMD Athalon.

Hi Dawno. I just thought I'd stop in and see how you're doing. I couldn't read the entire post, because I was hoping to go to bed before too long. But I do hope you get everything figured out with the IRS. When they owe you money, you can expect to wait several weeks, but if you owe them anything, they want it RIGHT NOW.

I'll talk to you later, and I hope you have a good week.


Dawno said...

Thanks Sean! Like I said, I just copied directly from the box. If they want to put all that stuff between the AMD Athalon and the word Processor, that's what I'll call it. :-)

Sorry my post was so long - when I write them on the weekend I tend to ramble.

I'm not to concerned about the IRS thing - I have a CPA doing my taxes and he knows what he's doing. We'll just keep sending them the same info over and over until they read it.

*sigh* Good night! God Bless!

Mark Pettus said...

Wow... I had almost forgotten how much I missed Fry's. When I lived in Texas I was in Fry's almost every week. Fry's is more than the temple - it is heaven itself. (It was even better years ago, before any of the staff was on commission.) I wish they'd build a store in Florida.

Time for a national sales tax. The Fair Tax plan has some real appeal - as does any plan that eliminates the IRS.

p.s. I haven't gotten a piece of spam in months (in comments). You really don't need the word verification feature. (arrrggghh)

Dawno said...

As soon as I turn off the verification feature I'll start getting slammed with spam. I'd rather not tempt fate.

But thanks for putting up with it to come by and say hello!

I'm ready for national sales tax or a flat tax or whatever else - so long as there are no loopholes and everyone has to pay it.