Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TaxACT and Obamacare

TaxACT Free Edition and Deluxe are updated with the latest tax law changes and 2015 ACA calculations. After consumers answer simple questions about their 2014 taxes and health insurance, TaxACT generates a personalized HealthWatch report with calculations and information for marketplace applications, including:
  • A detailed breakdown of 2014 income for a more accurate estimate of 2015 income to help recipients of the Advanced Premium Tax Credit avoid a large bill on 2015 tax returns
  • Policy numbers for any current plans held by household members
  • Basic information for each household member
HealthWatch also includes exemption guidance and an estimated individual shared responsibility payment for all of 2015 based on 2014 household and income.
"TaxACT's ACA calculations give an advantage to Americans applying for 2015 marketplace," says TaxACT President JoAnn Kintzel. "Having those exact numbers means the Premium Tax Credit and subsidy amounts you receive for 2015 are less likely to impact your refund in 2016."

Monday, November 24, 2014

MSFT Adds Dropbox to Office Mobile

Microsoft today updated the Office app for Android smartphones, adding support for Dropbox and further integration with the company's own OneDrive cloud storage service.

The update to Office Mobile -- the name of the all-in-one app that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- was promised two weeks ago when Microsoft announced a partnership with Dropbox.

Shortly after Microsoft and Dropbox trumpeted the deal, the former updated its iOS apps -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint for the iPhone and iPad -- to let users connect to their Dropbox accounts from within the apps.

Android's Office Mobile now does the same.

"With today's update, you'll get the same integration in Office Mobile for Android phone, including the ability to ... add Dropbox as an online storage location, browse your files on Dropbox, [and] use Office Mobile app for Android Phones to edit your Dropbox files and automatically save them back to Dropbox," Microsoft said in a short blog post today.

Unlike Office for iOS, which Microsoft has split into separate refreshed apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Android's Office Mobile retains an older UI and the three-app grouping that was formerly the sole option for iPhone owners.

The new Android app also now lets users share a link to a OneDrive-stored document, spreadsheet or presentation via email. OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud-based storage and sync service, and competes with Dropbox.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Aereo Has Thrown in the Towel

Aereo Inc.’s quest to shake up the television industry with its online-streaming service has come to an end.

The Barry Diller-backed startup sought bankruptcy protection after the U.S. Supreme Court said its TV service violated programming copyright protections. The nation’s highest court rang the death knell for Aereo in June, handing a victory to broadcast giants including CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC, Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox Inc.

Aereo had been striving to revolutionize broadcast TV viewing, offering live and recorded programs via the Internet for as little as $8 a month. The Internet-TV startup’s failure eliminates an alternative to cable and satellite bundles, which can cost $100 a month and include channels many subscribers don’t watch.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beware of Lollipop

Users of Google's latest mobile operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop, are warning others not to immediately upgrade, after experiencing broken apps, repeated crashes, and device slowdowns.

Many are reporting early issues with calling, failing Wi-Fi connectivity and sound quality — in some cases, audio fails to work altogether.

But a more pressing issue emerged: Apps built with Adobe Air have in many cases been removed from users' Nexus devices, and cannot be reinstalled.

The fifth major version of Android, dubbed "Lollipop" after Google's candy-based naming scheme, was widely lauded in a positive review by sister-site CNET. It lands with a number of improved features, including a new user interface and experience, and a consistent design across the board — from smartphones to tablets, and newer devices, such as wearables.


The Lollipop update has been hit with some harsh criticism by its users since it first landed in their hands, despite strong feedback from the tech community when it was first announced earlier this year.

Users have said they "regret" the over-the-air download, saying the older Nexus 7 tablet is "laggy, restarts, and crashes randomly." In some cases, apps were not responding.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bad News for Samsung

A U.S. judge has rejected Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s bid to put Microsoft Corp's lawsuit over smartphone patent royalties on hold while the South Korean company pursues an arbitration proceeding in Hong Kong.

In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York said the lawsuit would proceed despite the arbitration. Rakoff said he would explain his reasoning in a subsequent opinion.
Microsoft sued Samsung in August, accusing it of breaching a collaboration agreement by initially refusing to make royalty payments after the U.S. company announced its intention to acquire Nokia’s handset business in September 2013.

The lawsuit claimed Samsung still owed $6.9 million in interest on more than $1 billion in patent royalties it delayed paying.

Samsung has countered that the Nokia acquisition in April violated its 2011 deal with Microsoft.
Samsung filed the request for arbitration with the Hong Kong office of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is Google Glass Dead?

After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday.

He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product -- he recently wore his pair to the beach.

But Brin's timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.

While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Facebook "Privacy"

Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck.

In fact, Facebook doesn't think it would make sense to let users do that.

“With most online services, there’s an understanding that when you use those services to share information, you’re also sharing information with the company providing the service,” said Matt Scutari, manager of privacy and public policy at Facebook.

“For users who are truly concerned with sharing their information with a particular platform, honestly, you might not want to share information with that platform,” he said, speaking during a conference on digital privacy in Palo Alto, California, on Friday.

“I don’t think there are many services out there who could claim they’re not using your information that you’re sharing with them for any purpose. They have to at least use that information to provide the service,” he added.

Scutari was responding to a question from the audience about what tools, if any, Facebook might provide to people who want to post and share information but keep it from Facebook itself.