Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Doing taxes online part 2

I checked back in with TaxFreedom.com, the turbo tax online ap, on Monday. It told me that my return had been accepted by both the Feds and Maine and that my refund should be in my bank account by the end of the Month. I had to do some more hoop jumping, like send the state a form with my signature saying that I had done my taxes online. The feds let me sign electronically and it sounded like next year the state will send me something that will let me do that to.

I finished all this before I left for work although I left my printer churning away. Of course when I got back it patiently explained that there was a jam. I'm not sure the lexmark 3200 was the best choice. Anybody who wants me to test and review they're printer email me and let me know. But I digress.

I am very pleased with the process and I continue to stand by my recomendation and rating of Turbo Tax.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Doing taxes online

I was reading an article in the New York Times this morning about tax software online. A very nice article that listed the URL of the IRS page on E-filing. I decided to do my taxes. I chose turbo tax, be sure to see if you qualify for their free tax offering. I had been looking for a new tax software because I just wasn't satisfied with the other major brand that I had been using. Email me if you want to know what that was.

I loved it. It was easy it wasn't alot of fun but it was way better than doing it by hand and better than loading the software. This was the first year I tried turbo tax and I am abosolutely going to use them again next year. The efiling process was pretty much seamless. It allowed me to print off a copy of both my state and federal returns and save a copy as a pdf file. Everything went very smoothly it asked the right questions. In all it took me maybe 4 hours to finish my taxes. That includes printing which took a long time so my session at turbo tax timed out and I had to go back to the home page and log in again. I had read the FAQ and been warned about that so it was expected.

Things to remember before you start.

Get your papers together. I had most everything but had to make a few trips to the filing cabinet and the car, it's kinda chilly outside in Maine, in the middle of it all.

Read the documentation. This is a stylin ap but it's on the web so things can happen and it needs to be secure. The FAQ's will tell you what to expect when to expect it and what to do if it happens. They are well written and worth the time to read.

The Ratings out of five

User Interface      4.2  Really nice, very usable. When I had questions help was available and often my question was answered by clicking on a link off to the right.

Ease of use     4.2 It did what I wanted when I expected it to do it. It was amazing.

Overall      4.2 I didn't have to load software. I have a broadband connection. I am most satisfied. It caught a few mistakes I made and allowed me to correct them. Come back in a few days to find out if the IRS accepts my form or if I have to do this over again. I think they will.

So you might ask if I'm so happy with this experience why aren't I giving it a five. Well there was no food and nobody bought me beer I didn't meet anybody particularly interesting. But hey, it cracked the 4.0 ceiling without food, beer, or interesting party goers and that's pretty hard to do.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

February NetPM

So what does it take to get over a four from me. It takes a real party not something at a bar where I have to fight for a bartenders attention for the priviledge of buying a drink. It takes a real party where interested hosts have taken the time to prepare or purchase some tasty snacks. It takes a real party where the people know me and if they don't they are interesting and have something to say not only about what they do for a living but about something else too. Music is nice too.

I went to one such event tonight. Sage Data Security hosted this month's Mesda NetPM which is always a good time. The food and drink are served with a smile by people who understand the value of a happy person. The food is often catered and sometimes quite creative. The people are techies so there is a great deal of tech talk. But it turns out that that's not all they do. Elizabeth is the skiing guide for about.com. She also works for Anne Kennedy at Beyond Ink an international Search Engine Marketing firm out of Portland. Dan Corwin from Lexicos showed up always good to see him. Didn't get a chance to talk to Morten of Interface Publishing another sponsor of the event with Mesda.

The Ratings

Food      3.9 Finger sandwichs, fruit and cheese. Nothing exciting but they didn't run out.

Drinks     4.2 Oh yeah. the beer flowed Sage picked up the tab. A good time was had by all.

Music      2.1 They had a guy there with a guitar who was actually quite good but they stuck him away in a room so I didn't hear much. But a couple of points for trying.

Overall     4.0 free food and drink fun interesting folk what's not to like.

Maine Media Market and Portland Marketing Association After-Hours

I was at the Maine Media Market yesterday. It was mostly functional but the freebies were kind of lacking. I got there kinda late and didn't get a chance to visit the lower level. I did get on camera at the OurMaine.com booth, look for me in a couple of months. I'm thinking that you really can't have enough bags certainly their weren't any to be seen at that show. On the upside I was very selective about the stuff I brought home and didn't bring any big catalogs or brochures to immediately recycle. It's important to have a bag for people to carry stuff to many is better than none at all.

The Portland Marketing Association sponsored an after hours event at the Portland harbor hotel. Good food, met a few potential clients. One of whom bought me a beer. I met a potential new host for client sites but they didn't by me a beer either not sure I like that.

A note about the Portland Marketing Association website. Get a freaking clue! It's a redirect to the American Marketing site with not one but two popups one of which is just another window with the AMA homepage. How can they call themselves a marketing association when they can't even convince one of their members to build them a clean site. I'm thinking they aren't quite done with it yet but how much time does it take to put up a mission statement and a contact page. I mean really.

The ratings

Maine Media Market.     2.8 OK but giraffe events has done much better. So have the people that exhibited. What does it say about the state of marketing in Portland when you go to a trade show and don't come home with a bagful of office supplies and some stuff for your kids. OK some stuff but ...

Portland Marketing Association After hours event.

Food      3.0 simple but tasty could have been a bit more varied and plentiful. The fondue while tasty ran out of bread. Still it was almost enough for the group that showed up. Much better than some of the other parties I've been to in the last few months.

Drinks    4.0 should have had more people buying me drinks but I didn't pay for my beer so that was OK.

People    4.0 not really well attended but I met a strong potential client who took a bunch of my cards for her friends. Caron, http://portcitymodels.com/, showed up, always nice to see her. So that was good. Stayed looking for an invitation to more but it didn't show up. Although, I did hear someone say, Schuyler just left as I was going out the door. So I may have left a tad to soon.

Overall for the day  3.9 I finished up a piece of a project for a client. Met some interesting people, got some good leads. I was given some stuff, a good beer and some tasty food. I didn't spend any money.

I was listening to the writers almanac this morning on Maine Public Radio and Garrison Keillor was talking about Mary Leaky, the anthropologist.

She had found a the tracks of a pair of hominids, the smaller had stopped, looked around, and continued on her way. She interpreted the action as a very human moment of doubt.

Thinking on that I realize that she was writing about herself. Sure the tracks were a few million years old but like her they were in the middle of Africa. She was hot, uncomfortable, probably dirty, wishing for a good meal, some clean water, and she found a connection with one of her ancestors. The pair pre-people were in a similar situation to her own; looking for something that wasn't always there but that was where they found themselves.

I wonder if she had been in a better mood if she would have written that the smaller of the pair had stopped and marveled at the view. I guess it turns out that even when you are where you want to be and doing what you want to do, some days are better than others.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

BMW Films part 1

Right. So I've just seen my first three BMW Films. The Hostage, Ticker, and Beat the Devil.

Give the Hostage a pass. Not one of John Woos best. I'm thinking he needs more than 10 minutes to really get rolling. Still the opening shots were very pretty.

Ticker was sweet. Lot's of shooting driving and a nifty twist at the end that I probably should have picked up on but didn't expect in this genre.

Beat the Devil was great. Gary Oldman, James Brown what's not to like. It was a nice departure from the first two. No shooting just driving to beat the devil.

I'm running winxp pro on a 355 chip with very little room on my c drive. I tried to play the movie on WinMedia player but it wasn't happening. Maybe I need an upgrade. When I tried to play it from the download my box just stopped. It started again but golly I'd hate to see what it would have done to Win98. Quicktime stream wasn't much better. Real Player came through though. Buffered and didn't skip. Go broadband. Rah. Kinda tough to watch it on the embedded small screen though.

The Ratings

the hostage       2 of 5 Pretty but not much there. An attempt at suspense that didn't really have the chance to build.

ticker                 4.1 of 5 Gritty literally lot's of dirt and dust. Exciting with a twist like a tasty cocktail during a really good date.

Beat the Devil    4 of 5 Witty gotta love James Brown and Gary Oldman.

Not sure it's a good idea to view them all at once. I'm thinking they should be savored. I haven't seen the first season yet. Maybe next week or this Weekend.