This weekend I spent a bit of time doing my Taxes. Unlike what appears to be 90% of the population I don’t use those newfangled computer programs to do my taxes, I do them by hand. In general this isn’t so bad. Other than doing a bit of research to figure out what I could deduct from my move (pretty much nothing), I completed my 1040, and my Minnesota M1NR. Do to my Minnesota residency but employment in WI, I get a penalty this year for not paying estimated tax to MN. I probably should have thought about this ahead of time since I had the same thing happen last year. At least I don’t have to deal with that again.
Now I need to do a CA return which seems to be stupid complicated compared to the other ones. For some reason I have to file a Schedule CA 540NR which is not nearly as straight forward as it should be. I’m not sure why they really care about my 1040 wages since they only get a part of that, and you work out what you actually owe on a sheet you don’t even turn in.
Actually, the worst part of my tax experience seemed to be that I didn’t have any paper forms (well I had a 1040a but needed to file a 1040). The federal government and the states all offer PDFs you can fill in but there is NO WAY to save your work. The best I could do is print the form to another PDF which I couldn’t edit. This made the few Apple Preview crashes a pain since I lost all the stuff on the form a couple times. That and I had to retype the whole form if I want to make a change. After the first crash I moved to scratch paper.
They seriously need some sort of form where you can save temporary work. Maybe they can just let me fill in a form online and submit electronically without paying. But if they let me do that, then Intuit would go out of business. I’m not going to pay some third party $20 so I can submit my taxes online.
Also for fun I gave the free online Turbo Tax a try to see what it came up with. In about the same amount of time (almost more in fact) as doing it by hand Turbo Tax agreed with my hand calculations. The best part was that they wouldn’t actually give you tax advice on the free version. At least the IRS forms list what you can do for certain deductions. With TurboTax you get a blank box unless you fork over your cash. Frankly, I have no idea why anyone pays for that software.
There’s some big news on the whole next gen Hi-Def DVD format. It appears that since Warner dropped HD-DVD the red camp is being hit with a massive attack of bad news.
Ars Technica and others are reporting two pieces of bad news for those of you who support the red discs. Firstly, Best Buy has decided to recommend Blu-Ray over HD-DVD to customers. While they won’t stop selling HD-DVD players/discs at the moment their sales associates will advise people looking for High Def content to head Blu-Ray’s way. While this probably doesn’t directly effect anyone reading my blog as most of you probably don’t take Blue Shirt advice (want a service plan)?
The bigger nail in HD-DVD’s coffin is that Netflix has decided that it will no longer carry HD-DVD. As of now they will not be buying new HD-DVD discs and will be removing the current HD-DVD’s from circulation in the coming months.
Both of these pieces of news mean that people have even more reason to go blue and not red when buying their movies. This will likely drive more consumers into the Blu-Ray camp which is probably a good thing overall. Honestly, neither standard will really catch on as long as both still exist. Hopefully, Universal and Paramount give up their silly ways and start releasing Blu-Rays so I can get Bourne and Serenity in High-Def.
As for those of you who bought Laserdisc 2.0 I hope you enjoy your collector’s items.
Sometime between 9pm Friday and 10am Saturday someone smashed the front driver’s side window in my car while it was sitting in my parking spot. They did a pretty thorough job going through my car and stole everything in the glove compartment, and the roadside emergency kit that was in my trunk. They did leave the 3-4 burned CD’s I had in the car. Luckily, I didn’t really have anything valuable in the car that they could take. They did get my car’s manual and registration.
Since the only damage was to the window it’s well below my $500 deductible and so my insurance covers nothing from the break in. It also turns out they don’t cover any items stolen from the car. Now that I know they don’t cover stolen items I think I’m going to have to go find a different provider.
I’m mostly glad I typically don’t keep anything in my car, so at least I didn’t lose anything else. What really angers me is the $255 in damage to my window. I’m sure the items stolen add up to much less than the replacement cost, and it’s not like I really need that extra expense.
I thought I lived in a somewhat safe neighborhood but it looks like that’s not the case. My other worry is that there’s no guarantee that something like this won’t happen again. It’s not like I can do much to prevent someone from breaking my stuff again. Apparently, keeping nothing in the car doesn’t help.
I also attempted to report the whole thing to the police but apparently the Santa Clara police don’t really care. When I tried to call and file a report the officer answering the phone just forwarded me on to an answering machine where I left a message that never got returned.