NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy except that Steve Morse is famous for his “One Step Genealogy” web pages at https://stevemorse.org/. Steve is now branching out into other topics, helping to simplify the use of complex information.
Steve Morse created his “One Step Genealogy” web pages that have since become standard reference pages for millions of genealogists. He also created the “Viewing ObamaCare Health Plans in One Step” several years ago. Steve hasn’t been standing idly by as more complex information is becoming important to every American.
The so-called tax reform bill looks like it is about to be passed by Congress and signed by the president. Indeed, it is complex and has many, many changes. Some taxes will be lowered while others will be raised. Steve apparently decided to help simplify the information.
The new online “Applying 2016-2018 Tax Brackets in One Step” uses the tax brackets for various years to compute the federal tax for any income up to one million dollars. The years covered are 2016, 2017, and 2018. There are two 2018 calculations — one is based on the tax brackets under the old tax plan and the other is based on the tax brackets under the new tax plan.
This isn’t a pedigree chart drawn to strict genealogical standards, but it is amusing. With the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie being released this week, this is is a “must have” for any genealogist who is also a Star Wars fan.
You can see the Star Wars Family Tree at http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/video/stills/star-wars/sw3-famtree.l.jpg
This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, I have written often about Chromebooks, the inexpensive laptop computers. (See http://bit.ly/2zNe4HY for my past articles about Chromebooks.) This is a follow-up to the earlier articles.
Perhaps the most common question about Chromebooks is, “Can it run my favorite Windows (or Macintosh) programs, such as Microsoft Word?” The answer was “No.” However, that is changing.
Chromebooks are designed to be used with the cloud and run programs that are stored on servers in the cloud. There are thousands of such programs available. See https://play.google.com/store/apps?hl=en for a list of the available apps that run on Chromebooks. The genealogy apps may be found at: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=genealogy&c=apps&hl=en.
HOWEVER, Microsoft has now released versions of Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive) written especially for Chromebooks. The Chromebook versions have most of the functionality of the Windows and Macintosh versions, although a few features may be missing.
Are you concerned about malware (malevolent software), such as viruses, keyloggers, and trojan horse programs? If so, you might want to read a new report from Nokia.
The Nokia Threat Intelligence Report examines malware infections found in mobile and fixed networks worldwide. It provides analysis of data gathered from more than 100 million devices by the Nokia NetGuard Endpoint Security solution. The new report details key security incidents and trends from the first three quarters of 2017. Amongst the findings:
- Devices using the Android operating system were the most likely to be infected this year, according to Nokia research.
- Android was the #1 target for Malware, about 1% of all Android devices will be infected, an increase from 2016. This means 0.94% of all Android devices were infected, slightly above Google’s 2016 Q4 estimate of 0.71%.
- Out of all infected devices, 68.50% were Androids, 27.96% ran on Windows, and 3.54% used iOS.
This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: low-cost computer hardware. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this article.
UPDATE: This was obviously a very popular sale! Most BestBuy stores are reporting they have now sold out of this model. However, you still might check with a BestBuy store near you to see if that store is one of the exceptions and still has a few left.
If not, keep your eyes open. Similar sales on other models of Chromebooks do happen, often in the $100 to $150 price range.
I have written many times about the advantages of Chromebooks, low-cost laptop computers that are web-oriented. I have a Chromebook and love it. The cheap laptop has become my preferred laptop for traveling. I know that laptops are frequently stolen from airports, train stations, bus stations, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, and other public places. While I would hate to have my Chromebook stolen, I would feel much worse if my much more expensive Macintosh laptop was stolen! That is one of the reasons why I travel with a Chromebook: reducing the risk of financial loss. The other reason is the Chromebook accomplishes everything I need to do when traveling.
I also use the Chromebook frequently at home when watching TV. Chromebooks are designed to run applications “in the cloud” although they are also capable of running a few programs internally.
To find my past articles about Chromebooks, start at: http://bit.ly/2m3fGXz.
Now BestBuy is offering a basic Chromebook laptop for $99 US. That’s not a refurb nor a product by some manufacturer you never heard of. Instead, it is for a brand-new Samsung model XE500C13-S03US Chromebook with a one-year parts and labor warranty. To see the Black Friday sale, go to http://bit.ly/2AjZS4W.
This article has nothing to do with genealogy, other than many genealogists are sensitive about changes in the world around themselves as well as what the worlds of their ancestors were like. Indeed, the world is changing rapidly today.
If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.
Are you mobile?
It seems the current trend of the online world is moving to small, handheld devices. Sales of laptop computers are stagnant while sales of desktop computers have been dropping for several years. Yet the sales of tablet computers and so-called “smartphones” is exploding. I admit that I spend more time on the Internet and with email with my smartphone than I do with the computer with a 27-inch monitor that sits on my desk back home.
Consider the changes in retirement between you and your grandparents. When the national retirement age of 65 was established for the Social Security Act in 1935 (82 years ago!), the average American lifespan was 61.7 years. The age of 65 was chosen at that time because it was beyond the average life expectancy for Americans. While there certainly were exceptions, most Americans of 1935 aged 65 or more were in poor physical condition and were unable to earn a living. In fact, the average 65-year-old American of those days was… DEAD!
Again, I am talking about averages. We all know of exceptions, but financial planning by the actuaries at the Social Security Administration is based on averages.
NOTE: Actuaries are the individuals who determine the rate of accidents, sickness, death and other events, according to probabilities that are based on statistical records. Actuaries then use trend information to predict future averages.
Today, we still think of retirement age as 65, but the average lifespan of Americans is now 78.74 years — 17 years more than it was when Social Security started. The impact is enormous.
Some newsletter readers know that I have a winter home in Orlando and have asked if I was OK and if my house was OK after Hurricane Irma passed through. I’ll post a brief note here to let those who care know about my status.
Luckily, I am safe and sound and dry in Massachusetts right now.
My Orlando next-door neighbor just called me. He says my home appears to have minor damage. The damage appears to be limited to some siding blown off the back side of the house, probably easily repaired. We may have to first rip out some insulation that may have been soaked by the rain after the siding was ripped off.
Considering the damage other people sustained, that’s trivial.
NOTE: The following article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one.
I have written a number of times about the usefulness of the low-cost Chromebook laptops. (My past articles about Chromebooks may be found by starting at: http://bit.ly/2pm21Iu.) I use my Chromebook more or less daily. It also has become my primary traveling computer and I also often use it from the living room couch whenever that is convenient.
While Chromebooks are cheaper than most any other laptops, WalMart is now offering an even lower price than I have seen before: $129. The Lenovo N22 Chromebook isn’t a used or refurbished system; it is brand-new and comes with a full warranty. The WalMart web site doesn’t say anything about a sale or a “special price” so I assume this is the regular price. Other web sites sell it for $150 to $200.
If you were thinking of picking up a Chromebook for yourself or for a family member, now might be the time. You can have it shipped to you or you can pick it up in person at a nearby WalMart store.
This has nothing to do with genealogy. However, I found it amusing and decided to share it.
First, I have mention that I am a “snowbird.” That is, I spend about six months of the year in the cool climate of Massachusetts and the other six months in the sunbelt of Orlando, Florida. Next, I only have one telephone number. I disconnected my old-fashioned, wired telephone years ago and use a cell phone as my only phone.
The cell phone has a Massachusetts number but I answer it from wherever I am located. It seems to work well and I can answer calls whether I am in Massachusetts, Orlando, Singapore, Reykjavik, or other places where I am traveling. However, when callers see the Massachusetts phone number and do not realize it is a cell phone, many of them assume I am in Massachusetts.
This morning, the cell phone rang as I was driving down a street in Orlando. I answered (with hands-free Bluetooth) and almost instantly realized it was one of those obnoxious telemarketing calls. A very excited lady on the other end launched into a sales pitch. She sounded as if she was so excited that she was almost out of breath.
“I’m calling to inform you that you just won a one-week, all expenses paid vacation to Orlando!”
I have written several times about the need for genealogists and most everyone else to make frequent backups. I strongly recommend that everyone make at least two backups of every important bit of information: one backup should be kept very near the computer where it is conveniently available when needed plus a second backup should be stored a long distance away for use in case an in-home disaster destroys both your computer and the local backup. Such disasters include fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and more. The second backup might be a file storage service in the cloud or simply a CD-ROM backup stored in a desk drawer in some distant location.
Actually, I believe everyone needs MORE THAN TWO BACKUPS to be stored in more than two different places. But I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
I wasn’t planning to write any more articles about backups but a newsletter reader today asked what is probably the most important question of all:
Might Dick or someone have advice on the best on line or cloud back up service
I did answer the question but decided to also copy my answer here in the newsletter in case others are wondering the same thing.
NOTE: The following article is “off topic.” That is, it contains no genealogy information. Instead, it describes a new credit card service that I have been using for a while. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one. If you are looking to save money and to add security to your online shopping experiences, you may be interested in this article.
More than 205 million Americans – more than half the population – uses online shopping. While all of these online shoppers apparently are comfortable with the security, a few others are still nervous about using credit cards online. That’s sad as millions of people prove every day that online shopping is safe.
Federal laws specify that you’ll only be liable for up to $50 of any bogus transaction. However, the credit card companies exceed this legal minimum; they will reimburse you for the first $50 as well as the remainder of the charge.
However, if someone needs a bit more assurance, a virtual credit card may be just what they need.
This is not a genealogy-related article. However, I wrote an article that describes a problem and a solution that I think every person who is contemplating purchasing a laptop should read. I won’t publish the article here but will mention that it is available at https://goo.gl/CvYS4i in case you would like to read it.
Here is another change in lifestyles that is happening around us. In the 21st century, what could be more ridiculous than checks? A paper check is a little piece of paper upon with incredibly sensitive information printed in a font from the punch-card era of computing. Anyone can easily steal money from your checking account if he or she can obtain the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks.
If you pay by check anywhere, anyone who touches the check has access to the routing and account numbers, they are encoded on the bottom of the check in magnetic ink. It’s called the MICR line. When you pay your mortgage payment, your electric bill, or any other bill by check, a dishonest employee in the company’s mailroom can easily copy the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks and then have new checks printed that he or she can use to empty your checking account.
Luckily, paper checks for paying bills are fast disappearing. As genealogists/micro-historians, should we be recording this change in our lives? Our descendants will probably be fascinated that we used paper “I.O.U.s” in the good ol’ days, I.O.U.s that promised payment if given to a bank.
Today seems to be the day for “flash sales” on cloud-based file storage services. (See my other article at http://wp.me/p5Z3-4cY). Amazon announced this morning it is offering UNLIMITED storage space in Amazon Drive for one year for $48, a big reduction from the normal price of $60. However, this is a one-day sale: today only (Monday, December 5). I suspect it is for U.S. customers only although I do not see anything in the announcement about that.
According to the Amazon announcement, “When you upload a file or photo to Amazon Drive, you’re saving a backup copy in Amazon’s secure servers. There’s no limit to how many files you can upload, and we’ll never change or reduce the resolution of your images.”
Amazon is Offering up $50 Gift Cards when You Subscribe to a Year of Dropbox Pro for $99, Today Only
UPDATE on December 6: Amazon listed this yesterday as the “Deal of the Day” and said it was a one-day sale. However, I see this morning that Amazon is still offering it at https://goo.gl/GL0jOo. I have no idea how long the sale will last.
As I mentioned in an article last week, “Dropbox is a very popular service amongst genealogists.” This morning, Amazon announced a “flash sale” on Dropbox Pro that is only good for today (Monday, December 5): Pay $99 for a one year subscription to Dropbox Pro, including one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of online file storage, and receive a $50 Amazon gift card.
That is a great deal, especially as I expect the gift card will come in handy this holiday season. However, the offer is good only for new customers or for existing Dropbox customers who are using the free (2 gigabytes) service. The offer is not applicable for existing Dropbox Pro or Business accounts, such as my account. Otherwise, I would have signed up for this offer in a heartbeat.
NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you will want to skip this one.
About two and a half years ago, I published a non-genealogy article (at https://goo.gl/GBxRTo) about the easy way to install your own home security system, also known as a burglar alarm. According to the “hit counter” on that page, the article has been one of the more popular ones I have published. All the information in the article is still true today with one major exception: the company has just announced any new customer can get $200 off SimpliSafe’s Defender Package during this holiday season.
With entry, motion, and glassbreak sensors, the SimpliSafe system is a rather complete protection system for any home. Best of all, anyone can install it; there is no requirement to string wires around the house connecting together all the various door and windows sensors. Everything is wireless and can be installed in just a few minutes.