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A Step Toward Internet Sales Tax?

Will be interesting to see how this case shakes out:

Amazon.com filed a lawsuit on Monday to fend off a sweeping demand from North Carolina’s tax collectors: detailed records including names and addresses of customers and information about exactly what they had purchased.

via Amazon fights demand for customer records | CNET News.

It seems that Amazon’s case is somewhat unique because the purchase of books carries certain court-protected privacy protections. Of course, they sell more than books. Regardless, it’s hard to see how the “no-sales-tax-online” situation can be maintained forever. I’m not fundamentally opposed to paying taxes, but I don’t want a pure, complete, and identifiably record of my purchased passed along to the government. I’m curious what compromise arises over the coming years (decades?).

Update: Thanks to Patricia Clausnitzer from PC for translating this blog post into Belorussian.

Receipts via Email from Wells Fargo ATMs

A couple months ago, Wells Fargo ATMs added the ability to have a receipt emailed to you instead of printed out on the spot. The present a menu screen where you can choose to view the receipt on the screen, print it out, send it to your Wells inbox, or have it emailed to your personally email address on record.

I get an outsized amount of enjoyment from this simple little feature. Part of me wonders why it hasn’t been such before — it’s so simple! Another part of me enjoys the physical convenience — no paper, no trash. And part of me gets a silly little feeling of cleverness — that we /are/ actually living in the future.

In general I hate Wells Fargo because they continually charge me extra hidden fees and make me jump through silly hoops repeatedly even though I’m a long time customer holding, I believe, nine different accounts with them (our TIC/condo group in part of that).

But while the bank may such (don’t they all?), their ATMs are cool. (For those interested in UX and Interface design, Pentagram studios did the redesign and Physical Interface has the story / case study.) In addition to the emailed receipts, I like that

  • the screen options are personalized with your most common transactions (how much to withdraw; from which account; receipt preference);
  • you can deposit checks without an envelope, and print a receipt with a scanned image of the check;
  • and that you can buy postage stamps.

Anyways, I write this because I’m up early on a Saturday morning waiting on a phone call to come in. Uggh. Scanning Techmeme while I wait and this post reminded me about the WF feature and that many other hadn’t seen it (apparently only testing in Northern California and Colorado)…. So there you go…back to my coffee…

A long time…

…is how long it’s been since I posted anything here. I need to get back into the habit. This short post’s purpose is to get the first one — always the hardest — out of the way.

There. That’s done. Phew.

While I’ve got you, a few words: The last year has been a great one. I had a daughter. I switched jobs. I traveled. I wrote. I coded. I designed. I laughed extensively. I ate a bunch of great things. I picked up some new habits while shedding others.

I had fun.

Esme is the highlight, of course. By a mile. I’m in love.

More on that later. More on all of it later.

For now, nice to see you all again. It’s good to be back.

Test Suites for CSS 2.1, ARIA, and HTML5

Just hours ago Microsoft released an amazing new resource that helps the entire frontend engineering industry. Their Windows Internet Explorer Testing Center contains thousands of test cases covering CSS 2.1, HTML5, and WAI-ARIA.

CSS gets the most coverage with 7005 tests, 3784 of them developed just since IE8’s “beta 2″ a few months ago. IE8 passes all 7005, including, mysteriously, 52 tests that do not pass on any other major browser.

For HTML5, coverage includes 13 cross-document messaging and 30 DOM Storage tests. For WAI – ARIA they submitted new samples to support their previously-submitted ARIA to MSAA roles, events, and mappings.

While a great resource for the standardization movement in general, it also goes a long way to support their stated belief that “IE8 RC1 has the most complete implementation of the CSS 2.1 specification in the industry.” It will be very interesting to see if any of the other browsers care to comment. I’m hoping for a four-way tie.

Read more:

The Eyeballing Game

Here’s an enjoyable way to spend ten minutes giving your brain some exercise: The Eyeballing Game. The game/exercise asks you to modify a polygon to create a parallelogram and right angle, find the midpoint of a line, bisect an angle, find the center or a triangle and circle, and identify a convergence point.

My average score, the degree on inaccuracy, (as you can see below) was 4.01 (low is better). By best showing was bisecting an angle.

Think you can do better? Give it a shot: http://woodgears.ca/eyeball/

my-eyeballing-game-distribution
my-inaccuracy-by-category

Walking for Farm Animals

This weekend, Aimee and I are taking part in the Walk for Farm Animals 2008 to raise money for Farm Sanctuary, a national non-profit that works to end cruelty to farm and food animals through rescue, education, and advocacy. It’s a great organization that, to me, is way more palatable than more confrontational organizations such as PETA.

We hope you’ll support us by donating $5-10 (or more) via our FirstGiving page (a secure way to send directly to Farm Sanctuary, and they’ll mail you a tax-deductible receipt).


goat at farm sanctuary

We visited Farm Sanctuary’s California farm in Orland last weekend (they have one on NY, too). We stayed in the farm’s guest cabin and were able to spend a lot of time with all the animals (Aimee discovered I’m something of a turkey whisperer). It was fun to see them in action and we had a chance to volunteer a little by preparing food and feeding many of the animals and brushing the goats.

Aimee posted a set of photos (ad 2 vids) from our time at Farm Sanctuary on Flickr.

happy pig at farm sanctuary

Also, if you vote in California, please join us in supporting Prop 2 (sponsored by Farm Sanctuary) with a “Yes” vote in November.

Prop 2 is a modest measure that would allow farm and food animals the ability to stand up, stretch and turn around. Through the reduction of these inhumane caging/crating practices (most commonly used by factory farms) will improve the health and safety of our food, support family farmers, and reduce the environmental degradation caused by these unnecessary practices. The NY Times has endorsed Prop 2 in a thoughtful and straightforward article.

We hope you enjoy our pictures and hope you’ll consider helping us raise money for this important organization.

Thanks and love,
nate & aimee



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