* Posts by ratfox

2199 posts • joined 3 Sep 2007

Google Tax part 94: EU's H-dot wavers over copyright levy

ratfox
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Re: Hypocrites!

Google "aggregation" actually INCREASES the traffic on various European news websites. It's beneficial not adverserial.

Careful.

As long as Google News exists, it is beneficial for news websites to appear on it; because many users go to Google News and are generally satisfied with what they find there. Not appearing on it means definitively losing traffic from these users.

If Google News disappears, however, these users will still look for news, in some other way. Some news sites will see less traffic (likely the small ones), and some will see more traffic (likely the big ones).

There are definitely websites that are getting more traffic now that Google News has closed.

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ratfox
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Catastrophic?

In Spain, the more recent law has had an even more catastrophic effect

Why catastrophic? It means that instead of getting results from a wide array of sources, Spaniards have to go directly to the news sites they know to get their news. If you are a user, or a small, little-know website, this is bad. If you are one of the big news sites, this might be very very good.

The problem with Google News was that it forced the big news sites to compete with the rest of the planet. Now the problem has gone away. I'm guessing they have seen a bump in traffic and are celebrating. I doubt the law will change, and I doubt Google News will come back.

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Forget Google's robot cars, now it's on to ANDROID cars

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Re: Another vote for QNX

Silly. The power consumption needed for such a system is nothing compared to the A/C or the headlights.

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FCC to smack Sprint with $105m fine over 'cramming' – report

ratfox
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Holmes

Cramming is more precise

Like "murder" is more precise than "crime".

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EU VAT law could kill THOUSANDS of online businesses

ratfox
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…from claiming that all their European profit is made in Luxembourg…

Nitpick: this change is not at all about profits, which are still going to happen in Luxembourg. It's just that now the country of the customer will get VAT.

That said, I suspect the new rules will simply not be enforced for small businesses for a while. It seems impossible they will be ready any time soon.

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Amazon workers in Germany stage CHRISTMAS STRIKE

ratfox
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Re: logistics?

The law is kind of weird. How can different industries have different rules? If there is a good reason for this, how come the industries can be defined so loosely as to invite confusion? It feels to me like studying the reasons the rules were written differently at the time they were written would make it clear whether they should apply to Amazon employees…

Anyway, since this is a legal matter, why isn't it decided once and for all by a judge?

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French space agency teams with Google for broadband balloons

ratfox
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Re: unclear on how this works

They claim your common sense is wrong; they plan to have new balloons coming up all the time to replace the ones leaving.

Well, Loon is the name of the project after all…

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Hold the front page: Spain's anti-Google lobbyists lobby for Google News return

ratfox
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Re: Weird

Well okay, but people would still be looking for news. (Even without Google showing them the way!)

I assume the users would just Google for the name of one of the big newspapers, find their website, and get their news from there. If you're a big newspaper, this is a good thing — possibly much better than whatever traffic they received from Google News or Google results.

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ratfox
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Alert

Weird

I would have thought they would be happy. Large media companies probably win from Google News disappearing. As long as Google News is there, they are forced to compete on it with small websites, losing more and more control because there is a real risk that not letting Google act as it wants would lose them traffic.

But if Google News disappears, users are forced to rely on the names of big newspapers they can remember. The traffic from Google News they would lose might well be replaced by more traffic of people going straight to their websites. After all, I understand Google News only represents something like 10-20% of their traffic in the first place, unlike small websites for which it should be more like 75%.

I mean, it's not like users are going to stop surfing the web for news when Google News disappears. They are just going to surf in a different way, and some web sites are going to end up winning. It seems a fair assumption to me that those will be the bigger ones. If I was this AEDE thingy, I would wait and see for the results.

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Google says NYET! to Putin, pulls techies out of Russia – report

ratfox
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Angel

Re: Google is a leach and there is no requirement to accomodate it.

Google does not contribute - it extracts value for itself, but returns nothing in taxes according to the Australian Taxation Office.

Ah, that explains why nobody uses Google!

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Google vows: Earth will VANISH in 2015

ratfox
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Re: Oh look, something else Google got "bored with".

Didn't read the article, did you?

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Spanish scraper scrapped: Google axes Google News

ratfox
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Predictable

Google certainly wants to avoid at all costs making a precedent. If they caved in in Spain, other countries would immediately create the exact same law. And would they stop at news web sites, or would they just go all the way and force Google to pay for giving results to any random web sites? "Look, you are showing advertising next to the IP of other people. You have to pay them for it."

Now that's a thought that should chill Google's blood.

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Firms will have to report OWN diverted profits under 'Google Tax' law

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Weird

It sounds like this is not creating any new tax burden, is it? What is it exactly that would stop Google from just declaring all over the same thing: "We have an Irish company selling a lot of ads, and according to EU laws, you cannot tax that. We also have a UK company, which is just an intermediary and hardly making any money; go ahead and tax it."

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The Pirate Bay SUNK: It vanishes after Swedish data center raid

ratfox
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Disappointing

I thought The Pirate Bay was supposed to have an incredibly resilient infrastructure? Yet a simple police raid took them down. Was it all hype then? Or maybe I'm spoiled by all the five nines services around.

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Shhhhh! It's a Swiss Sunday shutdown. Kill the lawnmower, punish the kids with CHEESE

ratfox
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Devil

Re: creepy

Hey, it's one of the few countries around here who has never tried to conquer the world or its neighbours! Your many oppressed ex-colonies say hello!

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Which country has 2nd largest social welfare system in the world?

ratfox
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Devil

Including the cost of the US healthcare system in welfare spending is not unlike including the price of billionaire mansions in the money spent to fight homelessness.

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GOOGLE is COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN

ratfox
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Angel

Re: Scary prospect

Well, yeah, from what I can understand, that is precisely what Google would like to fix…

Once you control the video web site, the search engine, the browser, possibly the OS and the hardware itself, your position for creating a mostly-safe internet for kids is basically as good as it can get.

Now, the question is how much non-Google web sites will be included in this walled garden.

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ratfox
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Devil

Why won't somebody think of the children?

Well, Google did!

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Oi, UK.gov. WHERE'S THE DETAIL on your Google Tax?

ratfox
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Re: Stop taxing profits

Quite apart from the fact this would bankrupt companies with thin margins (everybody but luxury brands), it would do nothing to solve the Google problem. Because Google has almost no income in the UK. All advertising contracts are signed with Google Ireland, who does not report its income or profit to the UK. In fact, just by the last point, I don't see too much how the UK could tax profits from a company who does not have an obligation to report said profits to the UK.

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Bloke, 36, in the cooler for leaking ex's topless pics on Facebook

ratfox
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Thumb Up

Good, good

It's hard to believe it would be necessary, but apparently the message needs to get out that doing this will not be tolerated. Gods…

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Wikipedia won't stop BEGGING for cash - despite sitting on $60m

ratfox
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Devil

Re: Straight into a special account

The reason they are not using a bank in San Francisco is that it would probably only accept checks sent by post. Try asking a US bank for an IBAN, you'll see where it gets you…

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LA schools math quiz: $500 Chromebooks or $700 iPads for students?

ratfox
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Re: all about the Apps?

I'd say whatever exists on one platform, it's probably easy to port it to the other one. I don't think educational apps are that demanding, for all the fluff they contain.

That said, it's not the first time a school buys a chromebook. Publishers probably exist already.

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Docker, Part 2: Whoa! Spontaneous industry standard! How did they do THAT?

ratfox
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Windows

Re: almost nobody says "Android Linux."

Well, Linux is just the kernel, doncha know…

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Netflix: Sacre vache! French resistance from the vestibuleurs de consommation

ratfox
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Re: Joker in French is just "joker"

You chose to complain about this, instead of "vestibuleurs de consommation"??

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ratfox
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Trollface

Re: Another reason for Netflix Difficulty

proper made in France material that requires more mental activity than most people want to use when watching TV

Hmpf… Pfff… BWAA HAA HAA HAA HAAA

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EVIL US web giants shield TERRORISTS? Evil SPIES in net freedom CRUSH PLOT?

ratfox
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Megaphone

Of course… But maybe.

Of course it's a terrible tragedy that a Fusilier Lee Rigby got assassinated by terrorists. Really!

But maybe it's not worth letting go of our freedoms and privacy rights for the chance to maybe – maybe! – save a few lives. The Benjamin Franklin quote comes to mind.

The number of people who die of terrorism is similar or smaller to those who die from snake bites, or from lightning strikes. It is vastly inferior to the number of people who die of car accidents. It is dwarfed by those who die of cancer.

So my message to the authorities is: Stuff it. Look at the numbers. Look how much your war on terrorism costs. Look how much good it does. Look how many soldiers got killed in wars you started, compared to the number of people who got killed by terrorists attacks.

And stop asking for extraordinary powers to fight a shadow threat.

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Britain's MPs ask Twitter, Facebook to keep Ts&Cs simple

ratfox
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If they want clear privacy conditions…

They have to write it themselves. The point of T&Cs is not to inform users; they are written for the express purpose of making sure that the company can never be sued for anything. The people writing them work very hard to not include anything that would explicitly limit the freedom of their employer.

The only way this can change is if governments write a privacy code making clear what is allowed and what is forbidden. Until then, it's purely and simply a matter of who you trust.

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Oh BOY! The MICKEY MOUSE Apple Watch is no heart-throb

ratfox
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Still not convinced by the crown

This is the company that got out a smartphone with a single button, and everybody called them crazy, and it was incredibly successful. What the heck are they doing adding a crown?? How about just using the touch screen?

Oh, and keeping the time within 50 milliseconds: I consider myself a freak because I want my wristwatch to be within 5 seconds of the exact time… But I don't really see why I would need a hundredfold increase in precision.

So far, it feels like the best use case is a remote control for the phone.

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Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU

ratfox
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Megaphone

"There is no need"

So, is Google allowed to do it? Or is it not allowed to do it?

And about the results on google.com, do they need to be scrubbed in all cases, or only when the search comes from a European IP? Because I suspect the US are going to be quite nervous about the idea that a European court can decide what they are allowed to find in their search results.

I think the regulators are walking on eggs, and deliberately left quite a lot of uncertainty in their announcement. This is far from over…

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Google turns on shiny new .google top-level domain – but WHY?

ratfox
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Headmaster

Seems useless to me

> Of the 1,400 applications for new internet extensions, exactly one third were the names of well-known existing companies

That is not possible, because 1,400 is not a multiple of three.

That said, I expect that the majority of these companies already own the related *.com domain. In theory, this could make it possible to save four characters when typing. Woo-hoo.

Unfortunately, I suspect that most people will get confused by an internet domain name that does NOT end with .com, .net, .org, .edu or a two-letters country code. As it is, I already do a double-take whenever I see an address ending with .info or .biz.

Go to iphone.apple.com <-- recognizable by 99% of people

Go to iphone.apple <-- Huh?

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Whistling Google: PLEASE! Brussels can only hurt Europe, not us

ratfox
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Alert

Only a levy can help the German publishers

But why a levy, which is chump change for Google, and not a property-based market for digital news?

Because there is no value for such a market. There are too many websites who are willing to let Google scrape all of their data in exchange of some traffic. The German publishers have clearly demonstrated recently, when they asked Google to show their snippets, even for free. In fact (though it will probably not come to this), the German publishers would probably be willing, on the contrary, to pay Google for showing their snippets. Quite a few websites do this; it is called online advertising, and Google has some experience on the topic.

The problem the publishers have is not that Google scrapes their data; it is that the Internet exists, and contains a lot of cheap competitors who are willing to whore themselves for clicks, and that search engines in general and Google in particular forces them to compete with all this competition. Would Google not exist, the publishers would be in practically the same situation with any number of other search engines, and those might even charge them for the privilege of giving them traffic.

So the levy is the only possibility that remains. It more or less amounts to declare that quality news publishing is not profitable, yet positive for the common good, and so must be subsidized by some kind of tax on businesses that are profitable.

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And the award for the world's most tech-savvy country goes to …

ratfox
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I wonder if fixed phone lines count as positive or negative. In Europe, tech-savvy countries should have less of those, since they become useless once everyone has a mobile phone…

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Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU

ratfox
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I have a memory that people used to talk how mobile phones were bad for your health due to the radio waves going through your brain… And the single study "supporting" this view that existed at a time was a study from the 1980s showing that people who owned a mobile phone were more stressed than others.

There might have been more studies since then, but I haven't heard of it. People still worry about having a cell phone tower near their house, though.

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Coming clean: Ten cordless vacuum cleaners

ratfox
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Windows

Re: I Thought the Reg was an IT mag.

Essential article to any IT bod who needs to clean his (or her) server room!

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Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned

ratfox
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Re: Tough choice...

My dream is that he is finally caught after many years, trying to escape from the embassy; shipped to Sweden; then sentenced to one month of community service.

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Google, Rockstar to bury zombie Nortel patent lawsuit

ratfox
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Just one year from lawsuit to settlement?

That was fast.

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Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop

ratfox
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Windows

Indeed

My three years old iPhone is not very functional, and my two years old Nexus 7 also slowing down. I guess it does show how fast devices are evolving, eh?

We're lucky that PCs are not doubling in power every year anymore, or they'd be creating 3D fractal OSes just to make us buy the latest hardware.

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All ABOARD! Furious Facebook bus drivers join Teamsters union

ratfox
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Re: here's a crazy idea

Then again, they could be treated better. According to this article, Google drivers have access to the Google gyms and cafeterias. Though of course, the article is essentially about the same complaint: work in the morning and late afternoon, with nothing to do in the middle.

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Google bags OBSCENELY LARGE Times Square ad space for New Year's

ratfox
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Headmaster

Re: Thank you, El Reg

It might be a recognised standard, but I struggle to figure out which pitch this is about. The football pitch is said to be about an acre, or 4'050 square meters; but all the football pitches I could find, from the diminutive American football field's 6'400 square yards to the massive Australian rules football fields (variable, but over 10'000 square meters) are much bigger.

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ratfox
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Re: Why?

Everybody knows about Coca-Cola, but they still have ads…

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Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

ratfox
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Legal?

I'm pretty certain there are limits to what businesses can put in the fine print. Like, say, replace this £100 with £1'000'000, and it becomes obviously illegal.

I hope these practices are formally banned, though.

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Has your STARFISH been DRIBBLING awful SLIME? Scientists now know WHY

ratfox
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Headmaster

"A method implies an actor"

It's awfully hard to describe many natural processes as anything else than a method, even though there is no sentient actor involved. E.g you could read in a book "sweating is a method used by the body to regulate temperature", as if Mr body had decided to regulate its temperature, had tried different systems for getting rid of waste heat, and had settled on this one.

The proper way to see it, of course, is that because of bits of DNA randomly generated millions of years ago, the way the body is built happens to include a system generating sweat, which happens to have the beneficial effect of getting rid of waste heat, which presumably led to the survival of this body over all the bodies which did not happen to include this sweat generation system. But since it's impossible to think of it that way without feeling like a random chemical process, we tend to prefer more active words, like "method".

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YIKES: Combination of LIVING WOMAN and MACHINE sighted in NYC

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Re: orientation

It is considered fashionable for women to wear their watch on the inside of the wrist, and to check the time by holding the forearm straight, with the wrist daintily bent. This avoids the unfeminine move of raising the elbow to check the watch on top of the wrist.

So this is very much the best orientation for an elegant watch for women.

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ratfox
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Facepalm

Oh man

They just had to show as example of message the Four Dreaded Words, which make every husband/boyfriend quake in fear…

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You know where Apple Pay is getting used a LOT? Yes - McDonalds

ratfox
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Half of all McDonald's US touch purchase transactions are now made using Apple Pay

What's the other half? Android, or NFC-enabled cards?

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Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work

ratfox
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WTF?

Microsoft Office is a social-network-for-suits now??

I wouldn't know. I haven't used it since 2005.

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Remember that internet sales tax? Wasn't that a great idea? It's dead

ratfox
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Re: Oh noes, sales taxes are too complicated!!1!

@Eddy Ito: I'm not buying it. There are already online companies that are charging sales taxes when people are buying from zip code 90631, because they are based or "have presence" in California, and the law forces them to do it. It might well be that they charge the incorrect amount of tax, or that the money goes to the wrong county, or a myriad of other things that can go wrong; but they are charging sales tax.

For example, Amazon has a tax collection service which they claim is able to determine the taxes due anywhere in the US:

"The ability to specify tax collection obligations for orders at the state, county, city, and district level for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia"

Amazon offers this service for all the companies that use Amazon as a marketplace to sell their wares, and which may be required to collect sales tax in any place. This is typically a problem that is very hard to figure out… for a human being, but that can be solved easily using computers.

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ratfox
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Facepalm

Oh noes, sales taxes are too complicated!!1!

This does not stop Amazon from already collecting sales taxes for all the states where they have a presence. For all the complexity of the system, it should be fairly easy to have a service which answers in real-time what is the tax rate for a particular address and a particular product at a particular time. Then have every online store call that service whenever they need it, job done.

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ratfox
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What are they thinking?

Though I'm not really overjoyed at being taxed, the current situation makes no sense at all. There is no reason why buying from the net should be in effect tax-free, and buying the same at a store should be taxed.

I can only assume that Boehner heard "new tax" and reflexively said "over my dead body".

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Hey, Apple! We can land a probe on a comet, but we can't have a 12.9in iPad 'until mid-2015'?

ratfox
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Would they really want to?

Apple normally tends to focus on a smaller number of products. It's only last year that they started to introduce two new phone models per year.

Considering large tablets are not really selling well, I would skip building an even larger one.

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