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TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free

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I happen to use TurboTax, but it's truly a sign of how messed up our world is to read about how they have spent millions lobbying politicians in order to insure that filing your taxes is a painful expensive process.

For more than 20 years, Intuit has waged a sophisticated, sometimes covert war to prevent the government from doing just that [making tax filling simple and free], according to internal company and IRS documents and interviews with insiders. The company unleashed a battalion of lobbyists and hired top officials from the agency that regulates it. From the beginning, Intuit recognized that its success depended on two parallel missions: stoking innovation in Silicon Valley while stifling it in Washington. Indeed, employees ruefully joke that the company’s motto should actually be “compromise without integrity.”


posted by mouser donate to mouser
discovered on osnews.com
(permalink) (read 9 comments)

The Mysterious Origins of an Uncrackable Atari Game

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Released in 1982, Entombed was far from a best-seller and today it’s largely forgotten. But recently, a computer scientist and a digital archaeologist decided to pull apart the game’s source code to investigate how it was made. An early maze-navigating game, Entombed intrigued the researchers for how early programmers solved the problem of drawing a solvable maze that is drawn procedurally.

But they got more than they bargained for: they found a mystery bit of code they couldn’t explain. The fundamental logic that determines how the maze is drawn is locked in a table of possible values written in the games code. However, it seems the logic behind the table has been lost forever.


Read more and download the full pdf paper..

VLC player has critical security flaw - July 23, 2019 - UPDATED

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Yikes -- this is concerning if you use VLC player to play media files.


"Update: VideoLAN confirmed that the issue was not a security issue in VLC Media Player. The engineers detected that the issue was caused by an older version of the third-party library called libebml that was included in older versions of Ubuntu. The researcher used that older version of Ubuntu apparently. End"

From VLC: "End of story: VLC is not vulnerable, whether this is or even 3.0.4. The issue is in a 3rd party library, and it was fixed in VLC binaries version 3.0.3, out more than one year ago…"

Original post:

Researchers from German firm CERT-Bund say they have detected a major safety flaw in the video player, which has been downloaded billions of times across the world, which could allow hackers access to compromise users' devices.


Our own 2-person board game convention

We had a 2-person board game convention this week :)

About a year ago I made a new friend in my town (Champaign, IL) who has similar tastes and appetite as me in cooperative board games, and most importantly a compatible disposition, and we have been playing a lot of cooperative board games together.

After about a year we decided to host our own 2-person "convention" this week.  3 days of gaming at our local game shop.

All of our friends and the people at the board game store were confused, startled, and then got a chuckle out of our badges and shirts, when they realized it was just the 2 of us "attending" the convention ;)
And we got inquiries from people who want to be part of it next year :)

I highly recommend the idea for anyone who wants to create a fun little event for their friends or family.



We play 15 hours the first day, 9 hours the next, and then 14 hours on the last day.  How's that for commitment ? :)

We played some old favorites, but spent most of our time on a new game that we'd both been looking forward to playing for a year.

Games played: Pandemic Fall of Rome (not our favorite pandemic but interesting), Cahoots (small coop filler), Orleans w/ Invasion co-op expansion (super cool Euro deck builder), Chronicles of Crime (app-driven detective game I have written about in this thread before, one of our favorites).

The game we played the most of (18 hours?) was 7th Continent, a massive, amazing adventure/exploration game.

It's a co-op/solo board game, heavy on exploration, with lots of story, very long duration scenarios that you are meant to play over the course of 6+ hours, split into different sessions.  It was a kickstarter exclusive but they are going to release a version to retail soon that is much more affordable.  It feels like an open world and is the most thematic adventuring/exploring games I've ever played.  It's difficult, and has some real gaminess/strategy to it, so I would only really recommend it to serious players who can commit the time to it, but wow is it good.

Re: What books are you reading?

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I've started reading an incredible book, The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich


It's a science book meant for lay readers, full of fascinating anecdotes.

I've only just started it, but it's compelling and important.  It makes a pretty convincing case that the secret to human evolution is not that we evolved to be smarter or better at tools or language, as some have theorized, but rather that our species has evolved to become, essentially, machines specialized for passing on culture.  It's our skill and obsession at passing on cultural information and knowledge, rather than some qualitatively different level of intelligence, that makes us so special and so successful.  And that seen from this light, many otherwise odd behaviors and tendencies make more sense.

Very thought-provoking stuff, and completely accessible with no background knowledge required.  Highly recommended.

My new project -- nodejs multi-user lobby library

blog clipart
I just wanted to give everyone an update on what I've been working on for the last month and a half -- a new open source project, written in NodeJs (server-based javascript).

I've been having a ton of fun learning new stuff.  There's a ton left to be done -- another couple of months worth I think.

But I wanted to give an update so you guys wouldn't think I've been AWOL  :-[

A little about the project:
  • First, it's an excuse to learn and experiment with some new stuff (nodejs), and do some more open source collaborative coding.
  • Second, it will hopefully give me an opportunity to dip my toe into multi-player simple games, the kind my friends and I like to play locally.
  • Third, I think I should be able to use the system to provide a better kind of multi-device synchronization of data for some of my (mobile) apps and future projects.

So, what is this project?  Well it's essentially a server and library api for coordinating communication (and data storage) from many users, organized by virtual apps and rooms, with functions specialized for data synchronization and simple non-realtime multi-player games.  One example use would be as a synchronization back-end, so that you could synchronize the data from one of my mobile apps across all your family devices (without needing to share dropbox logins as is required now when I used dropbox as my synchronization backend).  Another, very different example, would be to provide the back-end lobby services and communication support functions for JackBox party style games, where players gather around in front of a tv, each with their own mobile phone device, and play a game together where they input their actions into their phone, and the centralized game asks questions, etc.

In the coming month or two I'll be posting more about the project and sharing a github link to the source code.  If you are a nodejs person, I'd love to have some assistance on the project.  :up:

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