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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

aaarrrgggh Re:Anyone actually compare before and after?... (550 comments)

Many fair points.

There are plans outside of insurance that can provide 24x7 phone support from a doctor, prescription discounts, and other such values; our insurance broker actually enrolled us in them for free. This type of service needs to be more widespread. Unfortunately, most doctors visits really are a waste of time, but there is no way to avoid it if you (think you) need antibiotics. I partially long for Thailand where the pharmacist would recommend whatever they think you need (or was close to expiration/expensive, depending on ethics). Granted, I did see people die because of inadequate care, but the location wasn't going to get a hospital ever.

As for the emergency room, hospitals have worked harder to triage patients to their medical office buildings, but it is a cultural issue.

Once you set foot in a hospital campus there are substantial costs that need to be recovered. The cost for building a hospital vs medical office is about 5-10x depending on location. California is especially bad, after OSHPD got caught with their pants down in Northridge.

7 hours ago
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France Investigating Mysterious Drone Activity Over 7 Nuclear Power Plant Sites

aaarrrgggh Re:Unless the plant is surrounded in a glass dome. (114 comments)

A couple well placed hand grenades can take out most Tier-4 data centers. You need a bit more than that for a (nuclear) power plant, but a 2kg payload can do some real damage.

That said, the time to repair is minimal for anything I can think of, although you might be able to degrade the long-term service life.

yesterday
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Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Breached

aaarrrgggh Re:WTF? (263 comments)

By not securing their mailing list, they open their "customers" to very easy phishing attacks.

2 days ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

aaarrrgggh Re:Misleading- Good will is common accounting (255 comments)

For personal assets, yes. You as an individual cannot take tax advantage of buying something overpriced. Buyer's remorse is not tax deductible.

For a company, making that bad decision has other implications; your business has an inflated book value which will never hit equilibrium. Example: Computers are depreciated over 7 years. In years 1, you write off 1/7 the cost of the computer, and treat the other 6/7 as profit. Year 2, you can write off 1/7 against profits that year... same thing in year 3, provided you have profit. In year 4, you buy a replacement computer and retire the first one. Then, you can write off the remaining book value of the original computer, plus 1/7 the value of the new computer.

If you are paying 40% marginal tax rate combined state and federal, what is the net present value of your deductions assuming a discount rate of 5% and the replacement cost is equal to the original cost in dollar terms?

4 days ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

aaarrrgggh Re:So the taxpayer pays for overage, got it (255 comments)

No, not really. There are a few bad exceptions (Hollywood accounting comes to mind), but on the whole the system is designed reasonably fair. Specific tax credits (not deductions) are a problem, but it is all designed around the complexities of the tax code. Simplifying the tax code isn't easy.

Simple example: my wife has her own business, and makes less than $50k from it. Almost all that money goes into her 401k. She takes a minimal salary ($20k per year, of which $17.5k goes to her 401k, $2.5k goes to payroll taxes, and $2k goes to employment taxes). Everything else goes into her 401k, and we live off of my salary. This arrangement cost $400 to set up, and $250 per year in accounting, and saves us about $20k in taxes. (More importantly though it helps her build her retirement account which was non-existent 4 years ago.)

I also know several teachers that use real-estate tax benefits to fund their retirement or kid's college, taking advantage of the tax write-offs there.

The one thing I really wish would be different is that the IRS didn't tax retained earnings in small businesses. This is economically crippling and makes for poor business decisions busy not building sufficient reserves. However, if they did this it would make abuse significantly worse as it would allow a small business to choose when and how much taxes they pay.

If you want to learn about how to minimize your tax liability, read a book or hire an expert. The book can get you 90% of the way there. The one I read was something like "tax write offs of the rich" for $20. It wasn't anything revolutionary, but it makes you think about how you leverage your money. It had some terrible advice (in the post housing bust mindset), but you need to understand the implications of your actions and not just expect a magic formula to make you wealthy/happy/healthy/whatever.

4 days ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

aaarrrgggh Re:So the taxpayer pays for overage, got it (255 comments)

When anyone buys something with "goodwill"min the price they can take advantage of this, against future profits.

This is no different than depreciation; it is actually disadvantageous to the taxpayer in the short term as you cannot write off the goodwill all at once against other income.

Of all the things to get up in arms about, this really isn't one of them. Just wait until Ballmer starts pushing for H1b's for players...

4 days ago
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Software Glitch Caused 911 Outage For 11 Million People

aaarrrgggh Re:backup for 911 (115 comments)

Which is kind of ok as long as your problem happens in that area, and there is no actual natural or man-made disaster in play.

A 911 dispatch center has much better resources than a local police or fire department main desk. If you are lucky, they can operate at 10% of the capacity as a proper dispatch center.

The system should be more robust. It has improved dramatically since 9/11 with absurd amounts of cash poured into many facilities, but it can't do everything. An alternative solution is to not expect 9/11 to be robust, but hard to tell if that is a good approach for most communities.

about two weeks ago
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32 Cities Want To Challenge Big Telecom, Build Their Own Gigabit Networks

aaarrrgggh Re:Boston (175 comments)

Deploying in a market is more likely a 20-year payback, and incremental customers are a 2-year payback. The benefit to Verizon is in deprecating copper infrastructure, which has high maintenance costs due to age, but overlaying new fiber pathways on the existing copper pathways is expensive.

They want to hit markets where they can have an incremental income from FIOS, and where the chances of competition are low. That means prioritizing affluent communities that have the wherewithal to create alternatives if the need isn't addressed.

about two weeks ago
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Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

aaarrrgggh Re:If only (99 comments)

Towers fail in time to deploy. Even small scale towers- utility poles or street lights) in mesh networks take substantial time to get licensing and rights-of-way in place. Wireline services have similar constraints, but just for the initial pathway installation, which can be leveraged for decades. A wireless technology upgrade needs to happen every 2-5 years if the service is successful.

about two weeks ago
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Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

aaarrrgggh Re:I'm betting on balloons (99 comments)

There was an article a few years back on /. about a network of weather balloons with hotspots, forget the name of the system. It is a bit labor intensive, since each unit only stays in flight 3-5 days, and the shoebox needs to be recovered and returned.

Zeppelin ROVs have also been discussed on /. before, and offer substantial improvements over the system, but not really lower costs-- just trade offs.

Traditionally, wireless always makes sense when you have limited subscriber density or portability requirements. Where it usually fails is that it can't scale as quickly when bandwidth needs increase. As an old codger, I will also recall the discussions of MetroLink's Ricochet Wireless system here on /. 15-17 years ago-- same basic concepts, same challenges.

Wireless is always great for yesteday's use cases. Time to market from yesterday is what kills them, which airborne solutions can improve on if done right... but I won't hold my breath for low latency gigabit connections from a UAV.

about two weeks ago
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Ebola Does Not Require an "Ebola Czar," Nor Calling Up the National Guard

aaarrrgggh Re:"Fear" (384 comments)

If you don't want to believe what someone is saying is the truth, you will not trust them. Your opinion is set from sources you do trust, which does not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Politics- next election; news- next ad; military- next budget; church- blind following; nobody is impartial.

What you can control is your own behaviors to ensure the people you trust have common goals that are important to you. A Talking Head can never be in that position. Seek out experts...

about two weeks ago
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32 Cities Want To Challenge Big Telecom, Build Their Own Gigabit Networks

aaarrrgggh Re:Boston (175 comments)

Verizon isn't seeing the return on capital for FIOS; that is well known. They think they can increase subscriber rates in areas they have covered and recover the capital that way.

What they completely miss is the fact that the use-cases that will drive more valuable service plans only exist when ~gigabit networks are available everywhere.

The problem I see with either approach is that business internet costs aren't going down fast enough to push that evolution. You get better speeds for less in a co-lo, but that doesn't help enough if you use a single office location.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

aaarrrgggh Depends on if you want to get calls... (107 comments)

If you don't need to receive calls, you can control use pretty well and maybe make it work for slightly less money.

Speaking from personal experience while traveling though, it is really a pain, especially for a prolonged period of time. If you have a specific need to use multiple devices for non overlapping functions (laptop, phone, tablet) where the functions really can't be done on a single device then the MiFi is cheaper than getting three SIMs. The only time I broke down and went this route in the last 10 years was in Sydney, where the hotel charged around $25 for wifi, and I only had one Australian SIM card that would work.

Convenience or cost...

about two weeks ago
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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

aaarrrgggh Re:You don't need the bandwidth (150 comments)

Lease payments, power, bandwidth are all expensive in a colo. If you are out of cash, you are in trouble. Your assets could be used to wind down operations gracefully... Or to your point to repay your creditors.

Hopefully Google, Amazon, or Microsoft would give reasonable notice of a pending cancellation of a service, but there are no guarantees.

about two weeks ago
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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

aaarrrgggh Re:Local Backups (150 comments)

Removable drives work well to a point, but you need at least 3 for a proper rotation. You also have the issues of failure rate and potential for theft, which eventually drive you to the SAN/NAS route which gets expensive quickly. Cloud services for our business have a sweet spot around 4TB of live data; businesses with highly distributed workforces may nap have a much lower threshold.

Cloud services seem to make sense to me for small companies not wanting to invest in servers and to minimize consulting, or companies of any size that just don't want to bother with it, and are willing to pay more for fewer distractions. Out of sight (site) out of mind. Buyer beware...

about two weeks ago
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If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

aaarrrgggh Re:Legally binding? (150 comments)

Moreover, if a big cloud vendor quickly closes shop, interdependencies and network effects are likely to have an impact on your contingent vendor.

We have hosted email, and will likely move to Amazon Glacier for DR backups; we have local snapshot backups that give all the information locally that would go to Glacier; it is just the earthquake/sprinkler/sabotage scenario that offsite would protect us against, and Glacier is starting to get competitive for our needs.

Like everything, it is a scenario you need a plan for. Depending on the impact, the plan needs to be developed, tested, and re-validated as appropriate.

about two weeks ago
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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

aaarrrgggh Re:Developer unhappiness or Marketshare loss? (229 comments)

AutoCAD LT is $800.
I think Omni Group had something on there for $140 a while back.
Generally speaking I don't have a need for many $5 apps on my Mac; if that is all it is worth I can use a spreadsheet or something for the functionality. The impulse buys just aren't there.

about two weeks ago
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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

aaarrrgggh Re:Developer unhappiness or Marketshare loss? (229 comments)

There are times where the Mac App Store is actually useful to me. It just isn't enough that I spend any reasonable amount of money on it. Not having trial versions for $100+ software is a bit of a deal-killer for me.

about two weeks ago
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Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

aaarrrgggh Re:Overstated or misrepresented? (403 comments)

The problem though is that someone that is a hyper-miler in one car will be a guzzler in another car with the same behaviors.

about three weeks ago

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