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Archive for August, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Power without Power Lines

This is just too cool (my geek is showing, excuse me).

The physics are way beyond me, so I’m just going to point the way to the CNN article about a recent Intel demo of a light bulb being powered by a source THREE FEET away. It’s a small step on the road to potential wireless power, but it is cool. I think.

I was doing good til I remembered all the urban legends about living under/near power lines–What happens to those legends if the power is just in the air? Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that this is still far from being a viable power delivery system.

Read the article and decide for yourself. Even better, come back and let us know what you think. Either way, have a great, hopefully labor-free Labor Day next week!

PostHeaderIcon Staying Secure Online

None of the tips in the recent CNN article, “Seven online-security blunders to avoid,” are new or particularly innovative, but they are still good advice.

Identity theft will become more of a problem with (a) the holidays coming–people spend more, are more free with their credit card info, and don’t look as closely at their statements, and (b) the economic downturn–as times get tough, more people will get desperate enough to try to use someone else’s name or credit.

Tips about downloading, email phishing scams, and virus protection are good advice for the whole family, and something you might want to go over with kids and teens who have computer access.

PostHeaderIcon Tax Provisions in the New Housing Bill

The new housing bill signed by President Bush has a lot of tax provisions and changes in it. They are, quite honestly, over ~my~ head, so if you have questions ask Candy, or your tax attorney.

For accountingweb.com’s lowdown on the changes, read their handy cheatsheet/article here.

PostHeaderIcon New Form 990 Instructions Released

Last December we told you about the new Form 990 for tax exempt entities that was coming–effective in 2009 for filing 2008 taxes.

Now the IRS is telling folks how to fill it out when the time comes.

The IRS released instructions for the long form 990 today, and announced that instructions for the 990-EZ form will be coming soon. The need for separate instructions belies the form’s name in my mind (EZ?) but, I don’t work for the IRS…

The new forms are intended to make the operations of non-profit and tax exempt entities more transparent to the public, since their tax returns are public records.

PostHeaderIcon Microsoft MAPPs Out New Security Plan

I heard about the new MS MAPP (Microsoft Active Protections Program) at accountingweb, but the article didn’t make much sense (possibly because I’m still on my first cup of coffee?) so I went to the source for more details.

Because I just click the little icon (unless my geek in residence specifically says not to) I never paid attention to which day of the week/month my Microsoft updates occurred and didn’t know about Patch Tuesday. Basically it’s when Microsoft releases all their big software and, here’s the important part, security patches. These patches cover vulnerabilities in MS software that can be exploited by hackers and virus writers.

In order for most security software companies to figure out what and where these holes are so they can better design their products to block them, they have to reverse engineer Microsoft’s updates. Then they can update their own products to prevent people from exploiting these holes.

The second post above, from Microsoft, indicates that they (finally!) realize what an inefficient system this is. Microsoft’s MAPP will share critical information about these security holes with selected security product providers BEFORE Patch Tuesdays to give them more time to develop a fix before the announcement of the security issue repairs are made to the public. All under an ironclad seven ways from Sunday NDA, of course.

Oh, and if you are running, well, anything Microsoft, since one of the August patches involved the Microsoft Image Color Management system for Windows 2000, XP, and Win Server 2003, you prolly ought to go ahead and click that little shield icon in the lower right.

PostHeaderIcon Home Alone No More!

If you work from home, whether for yourself or someone else, you know how quiet it can be. Deadly quiet. So quiet, at least when the kids are at school, that the sound of the air conditioner turning on sets your heart racing.

Once the adrenaline rush is gone, you decide you’ve GOT to get out for a little while. You pack up your computer and head to the local wireless hotspot, or a park if you’re working offline. It is undeniably noisier, but you’re still alone. No one knows you and many people will deliberately avoid you, afraid they might be interrupting.

So what do you do? Find a jelly! A jelly is a combination social event, networking and just plain work designed to help the self-employed or remote employee get a little human interaction every now and then.

For more info, check out this spiffy post on The Virtual Legal Assistant Blog. If you’re in Austin, and curious about co-working (another term for people working side by side who do not work together) and the new meeting venue for it here, check out Conjunctured’s web site.

PostHeaderIcon Time to Really Open OpenOffice.org?

That’s what columnist Matt Asay at cnet.com thinks.

For more on why the open source community is rumbling that Sun needs to let OpenOffice.org move fully into the public sector, check out the original derStandard.at interview with Novell developer Michael Meeks here.

PostHeaderIcon Jingle, Jingle

Intuit has joined forces with rock producer Tommy Silk to put together the newest interactive kitschy website: The Jingle Generator. For more details, check out the accountingweb article on it.

Curious? Check out the OA jingle Candy put together here.

PostHeaderIcon Tax-Friendly Places to Plant Your Business

As a virtual assistant I am particularly aware of how little affect geography can have on a business’ ability to survive and thrive. That said, where you base your business can impact how you conduct business.

If you’re thinking about opening a business, or thinking of moving one, check out KPMG’s 2008 Competitive Alternatives report.

For the short version, check out the accountingweb article about the report here.

PostHeaderIcon Picture THIS!

We all know the housing market is in a slump and sellers are having a rough time of it, but still…

A Photo Contest with a HOUSE as the Prize?

Yep. Read the article with a bit more detail (legal questions to answer, hoped for minimum number of entries, etc.) here. Then click on the link above if you want to get out your camera and try your luck. Just do it fast since the entry period closes this Friday, 8/15/08.