Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Why We Want & Need Digital IDs …

Apple, along with a few states are starting to roll out Digital Driver’s Licenses. As with any major shift in safety, and as with automobile seat belts in the 70s & 80s - a lot of misinformation is being spread throughout the internet and on social media. Confusion  about how Digital IDs will work, how supposedly easy the system will lead to law enforcement abuse and voter fraud are among the chief concerns.
The current ID system is broken and outdated. It’s easily faked, forged, and hacked. With most states going to National ID but not enforcing all safety measures, a stanadards based ID could be a big safety net, rather than a problem. Similar looking people can possess real, current state issued IDs.  Mag strip readers are easy to obtain. Anything visual or in card form can be reproduced. However, if the license were tied to 256bit encryption over RFID with no touching of the phone by either party - that’s what I’d call  “the most secure solution”. Also, the phone market is so competitive that if in an unlikely scenario it is abused - competitors will make 100% sure it’s national news that “the other company’s system” failed.
While we need to question new technology and can't just accept it under "it's easier"  - we also have to accept that this is the next convenience and innovation that smartphones can provide us.

For those who would like more detail on how this technology works and the benefits of it visit:

Monday, March 01, 2021

Hard to find information about solar tax credits and why getting the tax credit may be hard to get

I’ve been researching solar panel installation; in particular, a Tesla solar roof.

A big misconception about solar installs is the federal tax credit.

Before I continue, I want to make sure that anyone reading this realizes that I’m not a tax advisor.

That said:

The typical solar panel install nets about $7000 in potential tax credits.

If you get a refund, YOU CAN NOT TAKE A TAX CREDIT
If your standard deduction is higher than the “form 5695 residential energy tax credit” - combined with your other deductions, you can’t take a solar tax credit either 
Tax credits only work to reduce your tax liability (what you owe). 

If you OWE money to the IRS, ie $3500. You can bust a $7000 credit up over 2 years by carrying credits to the next year. In other words. $3500 on your 2020 taxes and $3500 on your 2021 taxes.

Realize, that if you have a typical home mortgage and make less than $75,000 a year, and are married filing jointly, it is likely your standard deduction of $24,200 exceeds most case scenarios unless you have a home business with more than $18,000 in OTHER QUALIFYING  tax deductions.

Also realize that NO DEDUCTIONS ` even if you qualify in combination with your liability or deductions come if you lease your panels. A lot of companies like SunRun and Vivint lease panels. Many of these companies will claim to give you a rebate after the install of $2500 or so. They are giving you a part of the 26% tax credit THEY are going to receive for your install.

From every unbiased source I’ve seen and the hundreds of customer reviews I’ve read, it’s not a good idea to lease your panels - even considering that this method is one way of “getting some cash back”.

Leasing solar panels dramatically reduces the value of your house, and it’s highly likely that your next home buyer won’t want to take over your contract. Know that if you terminate a solar panel contract - you owe 100% of the solar install immediately. While most “solar lease companies” claim they won’t put a lien against your home but they will do what’s known as a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) filing
No title company will approve the sale of your home until you’ve cleared up a solar financing/lease bill.

↑ losses from clearing UCC claims CANNOT be recovered through taxes. Meaning, you can’t claim a loss on your taxes or any associated attorney fees with a UCC claim - even if you had attorney fees as part of your other business deductions.

I hope this made a little more sense if you were confused about this as I have been. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to help.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The 2nd Pitch: Apple Should Buy Aptera

First, I want to make it clear that I’ve been asking for Apple to make a car since before Apple was considering making a car.

See my June 25, 2008 post:

Apple: The Only Company Capable Of Revolutionizing The Car Market

Consider now vs 2006 - before the iPhone but at iPod peak.

If entering the car market - Apple whose expertise is now quality at scale wouldn’t have to design or build a combustible engine. With materials and manufacturing advances in just the last 5 years, Apple wouldn’t have to assemble complex chassis. Apple could make a car design unlike any other on the road, powered unlike any vehicle ever built.

Combustible engines at scale are the single greatest obstacle and near impossibly insurmountable - even if a new car company outsourced it. An electric motor on the other hand is easy to build and has room for innovation. 

Volkswagen CEO Diess ‘Not Afraid’ of an Apple Electric Car”:
Germany’s Volkswagen is not concerned by any Apple plans for a passenger vehicle that could include the iPhone maker’s battery technology, its chief executive Herbert Diess said. […]
“The car industry is not a typical tech-sector that you could take over at a single stroke,” Diess was quoted as saying an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “Apple will not manage that overnight,” he added.
While Apple’s plans are not public, Diess said its intentions as such were “logical” because the company had expertise in batteries, software and design, and that it had deep pockets to build on these competencies.
“Still, we are not afraid,” he said.
This is the reason the big players & even Tesla are facing a hard “to market” proposition. A car can be made electric with a whole lot less “factory” than a combustible engine and traditional styling & assembly. The “big guys” are looking at it from a traditional way. Apple innovates.

Electric cars can essentially be sourced for parts like chips, glass, camera lenses, and  batteries for phones and ironically even exploit a lot of the same parts as phones.

VW makes traditional cars. Aptera is making an out of the box design that doesn’t require huge manufacturing facilities. An obstacle is infrastructure to build. 

VW would want standard charging when solar is likely the innovation needed. VW wants SUVs and sedans. If a car were to fix range anxiety, be able to go 1000 miles on a single charge - enhanced by solar - and retain styling - Apple would quickly see demand.

Apteras are made easily scalable vs Tesla. Tesla, despite what sycophants push is a traditional car company & are made at great expense. Aptera is a molded unibody design & solar charge enhanced. They have the least possible drag coefficient that no other design can match. That bears repeating. No other design for a vehicle would EVER be able to surpass the design of the Aptera. Maybe a tweak here or there, but the design is as refined for wheel to the road vehicle as you can get. The body is as lightweight but rigid for safety as you can get. The interior is as space efficient as you can get. The technology is here and ready.

One may could argue that they don’t like how it looks. You’d lack taste if you said that but it is a fair argument none the less. What you can’t argue is getting any more aerodynamic or efficient of a design and more importantly- a build than the Aptera.

What exactly is Apple waiting on or are they waiting until the last minute to reveal they’ve been behind Aptera all along?

Friday, February 05, 2021

Why I switched to Verizon and you should too

1) Since the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV - then subsequently Warner Entertainment, AT&T has dropped in both quality of customer service and network availability. It is near impossible to get an issue worked out within an hour.

2) AT&T gives HBOMAX/Warner content as a monthly bonus to subscribers. AT&T owns CNN and is guiding its content. Similarly with HBOMAX. CNN is an outright propaganda network. It’s undeniable, even if you have left leaning politics, you know they regularly peddle misinformation for ratings. HBOMAX runs shows like (Emmy winning) Euphoria - a show that literally glamorizes teen drugs, teen rape, and family dysfunction. It’s a horrible show. Horrible. I repeat thrice; horrible. I’m sad that Warner owns Bugs Bunny and DC super heroes. Since AT&T acquired Warner - their content has gotten more aggressive and spiritually abusive.

3) The Verizon app and Verizon customer service. The Verizon app is easy to navigate & understand. AT&T’s app is a mixture of online & offline and accesses servers in weird ways. It’s hard to find what you need and is outdated. Verizon customer service is USA based. They are quick to resolve issues. They’re thorough and they follow up. AT&T has a system where a customer service rep will tell you one thing then an AI system will go in within 48 hours and “re-resolve” your issue to what corporate guidelines are.

4) I originally got BellSouth Mobility > Cingular >> AT&T because it started out as a GSM network. This technology was far superior to Verizon & Sprint CDMA technology. With the advent of LTE, this difference no longer matters. Since November 2020, Verizon is now on a superior 5G network than AT&T.Verizon is the leader in coverage and speed despite any claim in a commercial you see otherwise. All unbiased ratings of cell service agree.

5) Included Apple Music & DisneyPlus. I never thought I would enjoy these as much as I do. I do like owning my music more than subscription, but now I have access to 10s of 1000s more songs at any time without spending any extra. The best thing is that artists get paid for every listen. As for DisneyPlus- it’s been well worth it just to see The Mandelorian. DisneyPlus is way better than Netflix in my opinion and certainly more wholesome than HBOMAX.

6) I’m a former Apple employee who appreciates the quality of Apple products: Apple partnered with AT&T for the original iPhone. They have now officially partnered with Verizon as of November 2020 for phones and cell networks going forward.

I’m familiar with other cell providers. TMobile is good. I believe they’ll become even better with the acquisition of Sprint. (Even though Sprint/Boost has horrible customer service- I see that changing.) TMobile has great cellular internet values. 

Everyone else is pretty much a rebrand of the top 3 providers.  (The proper term is MVNO = Mobile Virtual Network Operator) Rebrands are cheaper because they expect you to be on your own, using the basics, never complaining. Most people I talk to are happiest with the Verizon MVNOs like PagePlus.

If you’re using all of your benefits, I believe Verizon is the champion as far as price too. All networks are roughly the same $75+tax for unlimited. If you add the value of DisneyPlus, Apple Music, and a $3-$5 gift card to your favorite places every month. I think consistently Verizon gives the best value.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Thoughts on The Purge: Social Media & Parler

Thoughts on the Parler take down:

First, it should be addressed that social media shouldn’tve suspended any Trump account. This act alone has ignited a fire so hot that I anticipate (2) outcomes:

1) A loony far-right person to do something really stupid - like the December 2020 Nashville bomber or the crazier side of the capitol raid in January 2021.

2) A loony far-left group like Antifa to do or to stage something and blame it on “the whole right of center”

I don’t appreciate tech companies playing with shareholder sentiment. Everyone has free speech & that includes individuals at companies, but it should stop at the individual.

As for the Parler take down. I’m for it.

I’m for it being erased from the internet. I’m for not even being able to resolve as a domain.

Parler is an example of the overstepping of boundaries of free speech.  It is the shouting fire in theaters example.

Parler literally is/was hosting conversations with open KKK forums.

There are interesting conversations there but the majority is crazy, nonsensical contrails/Q conspiracy talk spattered with respectable people trying to “legitimize” an alternative outlet on social media.

Parler is a dangerous precedent. It’s the modern Larry Flynt argument. “No matter how perverse, it should be allowed.”

This is contrary to the Constitution & true liberty lovers know it. If you believe in the concept of liberty - you must keep your private matters - private. Private matters are not for public consumption.

We have a responsibility if we want to command respect from others - to patronize each other with dignity and for business to treat ALL of our fellow man with respect. Being a part of a forum that literally promotes everything from Nazism to contrails climate change origins is wrong. In your heart, you know it.
Don’t fall for the secular lie that “respect is earned”. Everyone, including your enemies, deserve respect & kindness in your temperament. EVERYone - has a natural right to peaceful interactions of protest with you in public (this includes the public square of the internet).

I’ve seen this quote from Game Of Thrones author George R. R. Martin being bandied on Twitter: 

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

To frame the argument by a more respectable author:

Matthew 18:8 says::
“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.”
I’d rather have a voice in heaven than a voice on Parler.

The Parler removal has led to 1000s stating they are dumping Apple products. 

Know this, Samsung (and other Apple competitors spanning decades) are  LOVING - if not provoking - crap about Apple on social media right now. They always amplify bad news about Apple. ALWAYS. Please don’t be a pawn in a game of corporate espionage chess.

In the end, don’t throw away everything for Parler. In broader terms, don’t fall for manipulation by extremist right wing media outlets & their crazy staff or any online personality or “influencer” right, left, moderate, or otherwise,

 Read more. 
  Listen more.  
   Respect more. 

This will win the war. 
This is how to win The Purge. 
Now what night of the year is that on again?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Quick Commentary: Why Apple Won’t Drop The Lightning Port Anytime Soon.

I’ve seen lots of commentary over the past few years that Apple should (or is about to) drop the lightning port from the bottom of iPhones.

This speculation was furthered by Apple’s switch to USB-C on new iPad Pros (and in theory by means of Thunderbolt 3 on MacBooks).

The thing is, MacBooks & iPads don’t “transmit” CarPlay to car stereos. Higher end premium package cars are only recently coming with a wireless CarPlay option - even though wireless CarPlay has been available for several years now. Wireless CarPlay has also been available in aftermarket car head units for more than 3 years but the price has been prohibitive - exceeding $1000 for a quality installation.

Wired CarPlay is relatively inexpensive to implement and a  major selling feature for many cars sold nowadays. Wired CarPlay is a huge driver for sales of iPhones for Apple. After all, you have to have an iPhone to have CarPlay. 

I personally have an aftermarket Pioneer head unit replacement in my 2013 Scion iQ with wired CarPlay. I recently purchased a wireless dongle from a third party called “CPlay2Air”. This dongle tricks the head unit into thinking the iPhone is plugged in. The dongle was pricey though - $120. I don’t see Apple selling such an adapter. Wireless CarPlay doesn’t always provide the most seamless experience - even if it’s factory installed and on a fully updated head unit and iPhone. Wireless CarPlay requires more proactive updating and tech savvy than Apple likes to place on users. Wired CarPlay on the other hand, just works and has the added benefit of charging your phone through the lightning port.

As car sales are boosted by Apple having a charging port and Apple’s sales of iPhones are boosted by desires to have CarPlay, I doubt the lightning cable is going anywhere soon. I also doubt iPhones are going to make the switch to USB-C on both ends of the cable - maybe on either end as so many cars sold 2016 onward have standard USB 2.0 ports. Placing such a cable in the box as standard would only serve a narrow niche of the newest, more premium car buyers - and for that matter - home users and home or office computer setups. 

As an IT admin, I know that I wouldn’t want those in my office to have access to wireless passwords just to sync their phone. No matter how good the security of the iPhone is, a host of security concerns arise in data syncing a phone with contacts, personal data, and banking apps on it.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Lowes Doesn’t Know

Today I’m sharing a letter that had no resolution with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores.

I called once and was told I’d get a call back from the local store. No call. I shared with Lowe’s in private message on social media. I got the run around being told I would get a definite resolution three times over the course of 40 days. No response to address my concerns.

Dear Lowe’s,

During a recent sales promotion from March 16-19, 2020, your “Lowe’s Knows” ad campaign was really put to the test for me. 

For the past few months, I’ve been building up Lowe’s gift cards to use at an event that was being held nationwide March 17-19.

5% off any way you pay 

10% off for Lowe’s credit card holders.

A few weeks before the event, I started having paper flyers deposited into my Lowe’s shopping bags advertising said event. I frequent Lowe’s quite a bit and prefer Lowe’s over Home Depot.

Three weeks before the event, I went by the help desk at the Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia store to clarify the terms and conditions of this sale - that 1) it was an unlimited discount with no caps on amount of savings and 2) what exclusions applied. 

Oddly, the help desk knew nothing about the sale that was being advertised BY DEPOSITED FLYER in my bag. I showed them the flyer. The help desk associate went through a binder and read about the sale and clarified that I would be able to get 5% off any item in the store INCLUDING water heaters and also no limit on amount I could save. I asked, “If I spent $1000, I’d get $50 back?” Yes. If I spent $3000, I’d get $150 back?” Yes.

One other significant aspect of the sale terms I was told I had “to make sure you ask for the discount”, the flyer even indicated that the 5% / 10% wouldn’t be automatically deducted from my total.

I was told the main exclusion was custom orders. Example, if I had wire cut to length or paint mixed.

Due to complications of schedule adjusting due to the Corona Virus, I was unable to go to Lowe’s the first day of the sale on the 17th. On March 18, I went into the Fort Oglethorpe store at 9am and purchased $1500.00 worth of merchandise - covering 37 items. None of these items were custom - just standard off the shelf.

Over the course of the next two days I went to the Chattanooga Tennessee Lowe’s location and spent another $2300. None of the sales associates at this store knew of the sale either. I went to the management and they didn’t know. In fact, at this location they stated they had forgotten to advertise it and had placed flyers underneath each register but forgot to tell employees. 

During March 18-19 I had to go back and forth to Lowe’s quite a bit as my contractors, family, and myself needed items as we worked on the house:

The lack of knowledge about the sale got to be so maddening that I just skipped trying to get the discount and delayed buying some items.

As you know, lockdowns came into place and now I became stuck not completing my house projects in the accelerated (and discounted) timeframe I had originally planned.

All in all, I missed out on $78 in additional discounts because of this.

I had planned to purchase my entire raised garden build and supply with plants . Yesterday I went and got supplies in masks and gloves for $170. I had intended to spend over $300 on this project during the sale but I opted for a quicker, cheaper blue bucket container garden instead.

During this visit, I saw no employees with gloves, masks. All I saw was social distancing  marks and an intercom voice warned about social distancing, but that was it.

I’m very disappointed in Lowe’s and I’m hoping this letter finds the reader and management healthy and well. I also hope there is something you can do to restore confidence in my support of Lowe’s going forward.