Thanks to TurboTax – IRS Reject my tax return

6 02 2012

IRS Reject my return - click to enlarge

This is the first year I have e-filed. It may be the last.

I submitted my return Saturday February 4th and the IRS rejected it Sunday evening. The reason given is that all parts of a multiple page form were not submitted. Intuit have acknowledged that their software is faulty and I will be able to resubmit on the 10th February, maybe.

The software doesn’t indicate which form is faulty. There is a  support page at Intuit’s website where you can register for email updates as the problem is worked by them.

It maybe a happy mistake after all, I thought of another deduction I can claim that I had overlooked, it won’t amount to much, but every bit helps.

TurboTax Support Page





New SharePoint 2010 book published by Wrox

15 11 2010

Wrox publishers have released a new SharePoint 2010 book‘Real World SharePoint 2010: Indispensable Experiences from 23 SharePoint MVPs

It promises to be very useful for those looking to setup and/or migrate a SharePoint farm from SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) to SharePoint 2010. My first impressions of the book are that it is very comprehensive and a boon to anyone working with the latest version of SharePoint. Each chapter of the book is written by a different author. The book claims each author is an Microsoft SharePoint MVP so the information should be some of the best available.

I purchased a copy in Kindle format from Amazon. I have found the book to be easy to navigate and search using a Kindle app on my PC. The table of contents is full of hyperlinks so you can quickly get where you want to go. Search is the real reason I got the e-book over the paper book. This type of technical book is very much a reference book, you don’t read it cover to cover like a novel. Being able to search is a very very useful feature. The book is always available to me on my Android phone or my Kindle or a PC; no leaving it at home or have the inconvenience of lugging this heavy book around.

Amazon are quite a bit cheaper than Barnes & Noble for both the paperback or the electronic e-book. Amazon are selling the title for about $28/$31 versus $33/$36 at B&N. Interestingly the Kindle e-book is $3 dollars cheaper than the paperback, but the Nook Book is $3 more. I wonder why Barnes & Noble want to charge more for the e-book?  The cover price is $49.99 so both retailers are discounting heavily.

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I have included below a list of the chapter titles to give you a flavor of what the book contains.

So buy it here while you can!!





Kindle in short supply again

28 09 2010

After being ‘in stock’ for a few weeks Amazon have put a small shipping delay of 3-5 days on the Kindle 3. Both the 3g + Wifi and Wifi only models are subject to this restriction. The more expensive DX is in stock.


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In addition, Amazon are limiting customers to a total of 5 Kindles per account. If you have a genuine need for more than 5, you have to email Amazon at kindle-sales@amazon.com.

When the Kindle was first released at the end of August it was on back-order for a few weeks due to strong pent-up demand. On September 15th Amazon showed the Kindle being in stock, presumably having received a new shipment and satisfying all outstanding orders.

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E-book sales in July 2010 showed a surge in demand of over 25% compared to previous months, signaling that e-books are becoming main stream. Amazon recently announced that their sales of e-books exceeded the sales of hardcover books. The e-book revolution is here.





Pre-Release version of Kindle 3 software available

21 09 2010

Amazon have posted a preview version of a software update for the Kindle latest generation. The software is available for a limited time. If you intend to update be sure to download before it is removed

The release fixes several issues including

  • Slow web-browsing
  • Slow page turns in bright sunlight.

I find it ironic that page turns with the current Kindle 3 are slower in bright sunlight, especially after Amazon’s latest TV ad poking fun at the iPad’s readability in bright sunlight. I’m sure they will release the software update as soon as possible to save getting too much egg on their face regarding the sunlight issue. I believe their TV Ad campaign is flawed, read more here.

.To learn more about the Kindle visit the Kindle product page





New Kindle Owner – Week 1

19 09 2010

I placed my order for the latest Kindle 3 with Wifi + 3g on September 3rd 2010 and it arrived a few weeks later on September 16th. I’ve used it for a few days now and here are my first impressions :-

The Unexpected

Being sold out and on back order I resigned myself to having to wait 2 weeks to get the device before I could use it. However as I read up on the Kindle I quickly discovered you don’t actually need a Kindle at all to read Kindle books. Amazon have released Kindle applications for computers and smart phones. Visit this web page for more details.

I was able to install the Kindle app on my Android phone and start downloading and reading Kindle books immediately.  You don’t need to have ordered a Kindle to do this, the software is freely available.

I read HG Wells War of the Worlds. I had seen the TV reenactment of the famous radio version of this story. The book however was both different and delightful. Quite a satisfying read. I was amazed how readable the book was on an Android phone. I had read the entire book while waiting on the Kindle to arrive in the mail. I found the ‘Sepia’ theme to be the easiest on the eyes. I also experimented with the Desktop application on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It worked great and synchronized my reading place between devices across the internet. Amazon refer to this sync feature as WhisperSync. It works remarkably well.

I also discovered that many classic books are free, and some books are offered for free on short term promotions. Many books offer the first chapter for free.

By the end of the first week I had purchased 17 books. 15 free, 2 paid for, for a grand total of $10. I had registered 2 mobile devices and 4 computers to my Amazon account in addition to the yet to be received Kindle.

The Good

The Kindle arrived and I found the reading experience to be much better than anticipated, even given the positive reviews I had already read on the web. The text is very sharp thanks to great contrast. This is my first time to experience ‘e-ink’ and it is quite phenomenal. In bright light I find the readability to be superior to physical books.

Not only were all my purchases available directly upon opening of the box, but all my Audible titles were also available for download. The automatic synchronization between my Kindle and Audible accounts was seamless and the audio books sound great on the Kindle. I was able to pick up reading Stieg Larssons, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ where I had left off on my android device.

Free 3g wireless for the life of the service/device. What a deal!! No contracts, no fees just download content from anywhere with 3g data. It even works with Edge if 3g isn’t available.

The Bad

The price of e-books. You’ll notice I ‘purchased’ a lot of books at no cost, this sounds great, what can I complain about? The reason I selected free books is that current books are in my opinion over priced, as a rule of thumb, e-books are priced the same as paperbacks, or a smidgen less. Don’t blame Amazon, they wanted to price most e-books at $9.99 or less, but the publishers lead by Macmillan were successful in strong arming Amazon into charging more. Read more here . It is dismaying to see Apple at the center of the price hike as a result introducing the iPad earlier this year. More competition leads to higher prices!?! Am I missing something? I refer to higher e-Book prices that is, thanks to Apple the Kindle price is cut in half, hence my purchase :-)

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Amazon advertise the latest Kindle as having 4GB of storage. Well actually its more like 3GB usable storage. I’m accustomed to GB inflation from hard drive manufacturers, but 25% difference? Hmmm….

The Ugly

‘Experimental Features’ such as the MP3 player and Web Browser are not easy to use on the Kindle. The MP3 player is simply a jukebox that plays your MP3′s in the order they were loaded on the device. No controls.

The Web Browser is slow and very difficult to use without a pointing device. Using up/down/right/left arrows to navigate is very frustrating. One good note however, the browser scores 100 on the acid3 browser test and renders sites such as Gmail very well. Why offer a browser at all? To sell books of course.

Summary

I like it. I like it a lot. I recommend you get one even if you already have a laptop/notebook/iPad. This dedicated reading device is very compelling.





Why Amazon’s Kindle vs iPad ‘pool ad’ is a mistake

17 09 2010

Recently Amazon have aired an ad that makes fun of the iPads readability (or lack thereof) in bright sunlight.

In my opinion this is a huge mistake. The two products are complementary not competitive. What Amazon should be doing is comparing their Kindle Library to the Apple iBook Library. Content is king, devices will come and go, ones e-book library will by contrast persist for much longer.

Amazon’s Kindle library can be accessed on a wide range of devices, including the iPad no less. Making fun of a platform that you officially support is rather silly. Do Amazon really want to sell Kindles or do they want to sell Kindle books? Kindles are merely a delivery mechanism for the real product, a book, magazine, newspaper etc.

There are so many great things about the Kindle ecosystem that they could promote, the device isn’t that important. The fact that the 3g model has free worldwide 3g without any monthly cost or commitments is quite frankly amazing, push this and compare to the price of the iPads data plan. Free vs $$$ per month.

Learn more about the Kindle here.





AITP / Microsoft Presentation – April 8th 2010

26 04 2010

At the April monthly meeting of AITP Nashville chapter we enjoyed a presentation by Matt Hester of Microsoft (Twitter @matthewhester). Matt’s presentation was part of a tour he conducted during the spring of 2010 to both promote Microsoft technology and his recently published book on Server 2008 R2.

Matt lives in Cincinnati Ohio and travels extensively with his role as IT Pro Evangelist. He moved from Dallas, at first he had mixed feelings regarding the move but later it was a blessing in disguise since now he can spend more time with his father. It’s good to see a professional make a move based on factors in addition to obvious career goals. Matt’s role as an evangelist is to support and grow the IT community and promote the adoption of technology. Matt’s focus at our last meeting was on Windows Server 2008 R2 and he has written a book recently on that subject.

Matt spent the first part of his dialog with us explaining Microsoft’s road-map for some of its major product lines.

  • Microsoft is committed to providing a solid platform for directory services with their active directory extensions and improvements.
  • Virtualization of computers, both servers and desktops is a rapidly growing sector in IT and Microsoft is extending the capabilities of their Hyper-V technologies to take on the market leader VMware.
  • Webservices provided by IIS have seen some significant improvements. Microsoft claim that their IIS product now out performs Apache and has been re-engineered to be interoperable with Linux servers running SUSE, Ubuntu and also support for PHP as an adjunct to their .NET platform.
  • Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular with corporations and Microsoft have recently brought to market their Azure product line. The primary selling point to IT departments and corporations is that Azure can transform a corporations IT division from a cost center into a strategic asset. Currently 80% of companies operate their data centers as cost centers, Azure allows corporations to relocate the local data center to ‘the cloud’ or a data center operated by a company that specializes in hosting and managing large data centers. Microsoft are of course such a provider along with other leading providers such as Amazon EC2/S3, Google Apps, GoGrid, ElasticHosts etc.

Matt then continued his discussion with specifics regarding Server 2008 R2. Service pack 1 has been announced, some of the features to lookout for are

  • Remote Terminal Services improvements. One drawback to remote access is that graphics especially video do not work well or at all. RemoteFX extensions now make streaming video transmit reliably over a remote access session.
  • Hyper V has been extended so that it can now be considered to have ‘feature parity’ with VMware. Microsoft are therefore claiming they have ‘caught up’ with the leading vendor in this industry segment.
  • The AD Admin center can have multiple administration levels/roles, so some AD admin tasks can be delegated to the help desk (i.e. password resets) without giving access to all admin controls. The admin center also supports canned filters to quickly identify users with expired passwords, geographic location, empty AD attributes etc. There is also now a ‘recycle bin’ for deleted users (however this is rudimentary is only available via the command line).
  • Better support for Solid State Drives. Virtual servers can achieve phenomenal performance boosts by moving to solid state drives for critical boot and paging resources.
  • One feature to get excited about is the ability to add storage to a Virtual Machine while it is running. This is accomplished using the Hyper-V manager. The command line tool Disk2VHD creates Virtual Hard Drives to allow one to add the extra storage to the running virtual machine(s). This is very useful for high availability servers, no need to shutdown the server to add storage as storage demands grow.
  • Microsoft have provided a ‘Best Practices Analyzer’ for Server 2008 R2 as they have with other Microsoft products. It provides a detailed analysis of your implementation of Server 2008 R2 and compares the configuration to a model ‘best practice’ configuration and provides interactive help in resolving common configuration mistakes.

Matt also discussed Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, Windows 7 and what to expect in the yet to be released SP1 (service pack 1). XPMode is a real-time virtualization option for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise which runs applications inside a Windows XP virtual machine, ensuring backward compatibility for older applications.  XPMode is not new in SP1, but what is new is the removal for the need for Hardware Assisted virtualization, therefore making the solution available on a wider range of computers. This change is as a result of feedback received from users of Windows 7 in corporate environments.

If you have an idea or feedback regrading Microsoft products, send an email to MSWISH@microsoft.com.





VTel Video Conferencing Presentation

31 03 2010

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On March 31st 2010 I attended a presentation hosted by Sprint and VTel showcasing a video conferencing system (and Sprint wireless connectivity for the device). The lunch and learn was held at Maggiano’s in Nashville TN.

VTel CEO Richard Ford lead the presentation and was joined by Ken Hall the South East Regional Sales Manager.

They showcased their iPanel Room video conference system. It comprised of an HDTV,  High Def SVideo Camera, a customized slimline PC (that was attached of the rear of the Flat Panel TV) and a paired wireless keyboard. A Sprint wireless device was tethered to the system to provide 3G connectivity. (Sprint mobile 4g is not available in Nashville currently – Sprint 4g is currently limited to WiMAX via their relationship with Clearwire). Read the rest of this entry »





Skype on Android / Verizon = Crippleware

27 03 2010

At long last Skype is available on my Droid!!!! The news on the new app is Good, Bad and Ugly.

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The Good.

  1. Cheap calls to international destinations directly from your cell phone. This is Huge!
  2. Skype calls do not use any of your wireless plan minutes. Yak all day long if you want to! Especially useful for those long tech support calls to 1-800 numbers during peak hours.
  3. All of your Skype contacts are automatically imported/synced when you sign-in to Skype.
  4. Contact presence is indicated. The online contacts filter to the top of the list, just like with the desktop application.
  5. Call Quality is good.
  6. It’s available at last – Yippee!!!

The Bad Read the rest of this entry »





Google Maps 4.0 OTA update available for Droid

11 02 2010

I got an Over the Air update this morning on my Droid for Google Maps. The new version is 4.0, just last week we got version 3.4 which added multi-touch.

3.4 to 4.0 sounds like a significant jump, however the only new feature I could find was an additional map layer that is integrated with Google s new social networking product, Buzz.

Multi-touch was a huge usability improvement and got no mention from Google, it was just slipped in. Clearly they are jazzed about buzz at Google. I’ve got one follower on Buzz and automatically was made follower of 12 others. Looks like Google are going after twitter with the way the Buzz network is setup. Is buzz a twitter killer? I don’t think so (just yet) because it integrates with Twitter, right now I view it more as a supplement to twitter and other social micro blogging. It maybe a freindfeed killer.








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