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MyTake - Verizon's 180


Verizon's 180 
Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 9:00 PM - Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
I just ran across my notes from why I canceled my contract with Verizon in early 2007. I recently switched back, and it appears most of my gripes have been addressed. The list from 2007:

- Disabled Bluetooth features (namely file transfer and dial up profiles)
- Unable to install non-certified apps
- Contact backup program doesn't work
- No unlimited SMS plan
- Web costs a monthly fee AND minutes, no unlimited data plan available for phones
- Can't activate non-e911 compliant phone
- Weak coverage at work
- Voicemail does not count as IN network minutes

Since that time it appears that all but the last four issues have been addressed. I should note that my phone at the time was a Motorola v710 (a J2ME/BREW based phone, Verizon's first Bluetooth phone) and I now have a Motorola Droid X. It looks like Verizon STILL doesn't offer an unlimited web plan for "standard" phones, only smartphones. And as far as why calling a Verizon voicemail system, using the Verizon network, with a Verizon phone, still isn't considered "IN network," I have no idea.
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Free, Simple Finance Calculations 
Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 10:33 PM - Economics
Posted by Administrator
I've been using my own custom budgeting spreadsheet for a long time. Most of the budgeting software I've come across is just really overkill for my needs. I don't need to track every penny in and out, I just need to make sure in a general sense, my money coming in is more than my money going out. Most of my expenditures are extremely predictable, bills like rent, phone, cable, etc. don't change much from month to month. If I look at my expenses over a year this is even more true. Issues that aren't the same every month like car repairs and travel expenses are more consistent when looking at the picture for a whole year.

Therefore, I developed a simple budget spreadsheet, which is now available to you. It is based on a very simple concept, it follows the same trail that your money does over the course of a year. We start with income, typically in the form of wages. Then remove the pre-tax deductions that never see your bank account. From there we can reasonably calculate how much you are taxed and subtract that out along with any other post-tax deductions from your paycheck. That leaves your take home pay, where you itemize your expenses and watch your balance drop to zero.

In addition, I developed a simple retirement spreadsheet. This was because I was unable to find an online calculator that convinced me that it took the appropriate considerations for inflation, social security (or lack thereof), and pay raises. Or worse, it was unclear about inflation adjusted dollars vs. present day dollars, as you will see this can make a BIG difference when you are looking at decades. If you want to look at the details you can, I have full spreadsheets for each year, inflation adjusted or not. But if you want to keep it simple, just fill in the purple boxes and you will get a chart that shows your retirement saving/spending.

Please note, I am not a Certified Public Accountant. You should consult one for tax and retirement planning issues. These spreadsheets are only a generic guide to give you a long term outlook for retirement. There are probably some mistakes or things I haven't accounted for, or issues simply too complex to include. I appreciate any feedback on these issues and I will try to address them. I have run numbers against various other calculators and believe what my spreadsheets come up with are at least in the right ballpark.
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Health Reform Website Collects Personal Info for No Reason 
Saturday, June 12, 2010, 6:02 PM - Public Policy, Law, Privacy
Posted by Administrator
The President's website to promote health care reform, www.healthreform.gov, collects Personally Identifiable Information (PII) without explaining why or what it will be used for, in violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).

In two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the government states that it has no records of anyone even discussing Information Collection Requests for any part of www.healthreform.gov as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act. Both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (PDF), who manages the website, as well as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (PDF), who administers the PRA, have no records for anything involving www.healthreform.gov.

Under the PRA, collection of "general comments" is allowed without approval, as well as information "necessary for self-identification" such as name and email or mailing address. Anything other than that requires an Information Collection Request which is published in the Federal Register, then OMB will issue a control number for the form, which indicates it was properly generated and approved. The forms at www.healthreform.gov have no OMB control numbers.

Normally FOIA requests that result in no records provide a very simple response that says just that. But the response from HHS goes a step further. HHS claims, "as only general comments were to be received, no Paperwork Reduction Act documentation was created because clearance was not required." This is partially true, but it does not address the "support" form at all which ONLY collects PII such as name, address, email, and even phone number. Thats all, no field for "general comments" or anything else, unless your comment is "I support health reform this year."

Since this request was filed, the "support" form was removed from the website, the original page can still be found as part of my FOIA package (PDF). As to why this page was removed, I'll leave that to speculation.
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Pinning Down Accidents Caused by Cell Phones 
Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 9:24 PM - Public Policy
Posted by Administrator
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 25% of all crashes are caused by cell phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver distraction from all sources (including cell phones) contributes to 19 percent of all crashes (2008). Even then, this is not necessarily the cause of the crash.

Both cannot be true, someone here is wrong. The NSC report is merely a statistical extrapolation of what might have happened, heavily based on averages. More real world data to corroborate their numbers is needed. The NHTSA has the opposite problem. Their numbers are based on real world reports. These suffer from reporting errors, often because those involved in a crash might not report being distracted while driving.


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IPv6 Quirks 
Monday, December 7, 2009, 11:37 PM - Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
After playing with IPv6 extensively over the weekend, I discovered a number of oddities about the protocol.

First, autoconfiguration only works with /64 subnets. Anything more or less, even if the router advertises the prefix, clients will not add the prefix to its own interface. This seems like it can problematic as users cannot easily break down these prefixes into smaller subnets. This could be a key area for using DHCPv6 as a replacement.

Second, autoconfiguration will not work if the computer is configured as a router for IP forwarding. This means that additional work for defining routes needs to be done even if you only plan on using the default gateway on a network. This can either be in the form of static routes or a full blown routing protocol.

Third, 2002::/16 (IPv4 transition addresses) doesn't count as a real IPv6 address when source address selection occurs. Instead it is considered a separate scope, similar to an IPv4 address. This means when websites have both a 2001::/16 IPv6 address and a IPv4 address, the IPv4 address is used by default. If the website has a 2002::/16 IPv6 address and a IPv4 address the 2002::/16 IPv6 address is used to connect. This seems very odd and inconsistent and can lead to confusion.
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