US Government Considering Tax Holiday

Of its $156B in cash, $138B (88.5%) is banked overseas…

TaxHoliday

Apple has a lot of cash. $156B USD to be exact, and $138B USD of it, or just about 88.50% is kept in banks outside the US. To the unfinancially initiated, like me, this seems curious. However, when you consider the 35% tax hit ($48.3B USD) that Apple would be charged to bring the money back to the United States, it’s no wonder they don’t think twice about it. Spending $$48.3B to bring back just $89.7B isn’t worth the hit. So, the money stays outside the US, and Apple deprives the US of the tax revenue.

Apple needs a place to park the money, and it – like nearly every other large corporate entity – banks a lot of it in Ireland. They have much kinder tax laws, making it more fiscally responsible for Apple to store it there. However, this makes it difficult for Apple to use it the way they want to; and it would be a lot easier for them to bring the money home.

As such, the US Government is currently considering a tax holiday that would allow Apple to make a one-time transfer of its cash hoard back into US banks. The last time this happened in 2004, the government lowered the tax rate to 5.25%. However, at that time, Apple was still three years away from releasing the iPhone and six years away from releasing the iPad. It wasn’t able to take advantage of the tax break.

Recently, Apple has been the target of a US government cash into its tax payments. This effort, and the resulting news coverage on Apple’s – as well as other organization’s – legal use of Ireland’s corporate tax haven, has caused the European Union to take a much longer, more scruitinous look at those laws. While Apple hasn’t broken any laws with its international tax policies – Apple paid over $7.0B in US Federal, corporate taxes in fiscal 2013 – the company wants permanent tax reform in the US.

The US Federal Highway Trust is out of money at the end of August 2014. With major road repairs to major infrastructure – like I-80, which crosses the Continental US from Coast to Coast, East to West – the US government must do something. For its part, Apple is willing to repatriate its large cash hoard, but won’t without a tax repatriation holiday and without permanent tax reform.

This particular issue is going to linger on for quite a while. While I’m not one for financial news, I will update this story if anything interesting develops over the next few months.

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Get your mail and read important articles with Sylpheed

Get your mail and read important articles with this cool Windows-based email client.

SYL-04

Believe it or not – and despite what other people might say about email dying – its not. In fact, most of what I do every day evolves around my email client both here at home and at the office. The biggest problem with email is finding an app that does what you need it to do without clogging up your computer with a bunch of stuff that you don’t want or don’t need. Its why Sylpheed is a good choice for a Windows mail client and RSS news reader.

Sylpheed is a mail client and news reader that runs on the X Window System. It has a 3-paned display similar to the popular e-mail clients for Windows such as Outlook Express and Becky. In fact, after taking a look at it, that’s exactly what I thought – it looks a lot like Outlook Express. To top it off, its easy to use right out of the box.

The app is very stable. You can have tens of thousands of messages in your inbox. The app protects your data and still functions well regardless of how large your information store is. If something does go south and the app does forcibly quit, you won’t have to worry about the state of your data. It won’t get corrupted.

Its also easy to search for mail with Sylpheed with its filtering engine. You can also refer to messages matching your search criteria by saving the query to a search folder.

If you’re looking for a decent mail and news only app, then this is a decent choice. The app is easy to use and is basically rock solid. If you’re looking for an Outlook replacement, don’t come here, though. The app doesn’t do calendar or to-do’s at all, though it will handle your address book. It also won’t sync with your smartphone.

Download Sylpheed Free

 

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Bring down Wikipedia to your hard drive for offline viewing with Xowa

Bring down Wikipedia to your hard drive for offline viewing with this awesome app.

When I was growing up (I graduated from high school in 1984), my parents had a set of Britannica Encyclopedias THEY used when they were in school circa 1950-blah, blah, blah. Its what I had at home to help me with homework – a 25-30 year old, out dated set of reference books…and it was far better than most anyone else had at home. Google didn’t exist yet. In 1984 when I graduated from high school, Sergey Brin was in the 4th grade. That, my friends… is TOTALLY depressing.

Today, with the advent of Google and other search engines, the world is your oyster. Students today have access to information that I could only dream about back in the day…that is, as long as they’re online. Well, until now. XOWA is a cool Windows app that downloads any Wikimedia wiki to your hard drive for offline use; and unlike my stale set of smelly encyclopedias, can be updated at will.

XOWA is a free application that lets you download Wikipedia and Wikimedia compatible wiki’s to your computer. With it, you can access all of Wikipedia offline, meaning without an internet connection. You effectively rip it to your hard drive and then access Wikipedia via the app.

It works with any Wikimedia wiki, including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikiquote, and Wikivoyage. It also works with other specialized wikis such as Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, or any other MediaWiki generated dump. Also works with any non-English language wiki (French, German, Dutch, etc.) compatible wiki.

When you search or find what you’re looking for, you can search for any page by title using a Wikipedia-like search box, browse pages by alphabetical order using special:allpages, or find a word on a page. You can also access a history of viewed pages and bookmark your favorite pages.

This application is really cool. Its something that every high school and especially college student should have, especially if you have a laptop, have to do some kind of a research paper and know you’re going to be some place that doesn’t have Wi-Fi (and you don’t have mobile broadband to burn – which is a very common state, especially among students here in the States).

With XOWA, you surf, download, storage and go. The app will even store data on a storage card or thumb drive, so you don’t have to eat up precious hard drive space. The app is also VERY difficult for first time users to get set up. You have to do a LOT of reading of instructions in order to actually get the app to rip something to your hard drive. Don’t expect to be able to flip a switch and start using it out of the box. Its going to take a bit of work to get going.

XOWA-01

 

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It was the WWDC 2014 Day!

Yesterday was the day we find out what Tim got many of us for Christmas..!!

Stijn-WWDC-iPhone

…and I must say I’ve been a very good boy.

Most of the tech world – or at least anyone with any mild interest in what’s up and coming in terms of Apple technology and innovation –yesterday was sitting on pins and needles. The Apple WWDC keynote was set to begin at  10am  Pacific Time, and can be found here.
Most of us will also, likely get some of the new hardware goodies that were announced yesterday for our loved ones, or ourselves, as 2014 Holiday gifts later this calendar year. You may have to continue to behave until then, kids… Santa doesn’t give the good stuff to just anyone.

While I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to Live Blog the speech yesterday as I have for other pubs in the past, I will do my best to recap the results. I will also have first look-styled reviews of both OS X 10.10 and iOS 8.0 as soon as I can get installations of them up and running on my Mac and iPhone 5, respectively; but it will likely be a few days before I can get that to happen, as I’m certain everybody and their brother with any kind of an Apple Developer’s account will be downloading the software as soon as its available.

Stay tuned to Soft32, as I’m certain it’s going to get very exciting around here in the coming weeks.

If anyone has any questions or items you’d like me to give special attention to regarding either OS X 10.10 or iOS 8, please do me a favor and leave me a comment, below. I’ll make sure that I do my best to at least mention it in the review of each OS.

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with iPhone

I’ve been working with mobile devices since 1996. I’ve had nearly every kind of mobile device from near every manufacturer on nearly every mobile OS…ever. The iPhone is by far the easiest to setup and configure. Like the other two mobile OS’ in use today, we’ll run through the default configuration and then see about adding another sync account to your iDevice. Apple makes this pretty easy…

Please note that these instructions were done using and iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1.1. As I don’t have an iPhone 5S, you won’t find instructions on using Touch ID, here. However, as you will see from the screenshots below, the configuration process is very easy. You shouldn’t have any problems configuring it if you simply follow the process and then work with the device when it wants to read your finger prints.

1. Turn on your iPhone for the first time. After the device boots, you’ll be greeted with a welcome screen. Place your finger just to the left of the greater-than sign (>) and slide it over the top of the words, “slide to set up” to begin the configuration process.
IMG_0001

2. Select a wireless network to connect to. If you have Wi-Fi in the house, using it over your mobile broadband bandwidth is preferable. Select your network from the list and tap it.
IMG_0002

3. The wireless network password screen appears. Type the password to your Wi-Fi network and then press the join button.
IMG_0003 IMG_0004

4. Turn on Location Services. You’ll want to make certain that they are configured correctly later, but for now, you’ll want them turned on so things like Maps and local search work correctly. Tap “Enable Location Services.”
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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Android Phone

Android+Google Account

There are a BOAT LOAD of different kind of Android devices, from numerous manufacturers running about 35 or so active versions of the Android operating system. As such, there simply isn’t a standardized set of instructions for setting the device up. Android versions may also differ on the SAME device on a DIFFERENT carrier (adding to the confusion… I know.)

These instructions were done on an HTC One (M8) on the Verizon Wireless Network. As such, it’s going to have Verizon specific screens in its setup routine.  If this is your phone, then you have the exact instructions you need to get going. If you have, say, a Samsung Galaxy S4 or other Samsung Android device on Verizon, these instructions will be close, but not spot on. Unfortunately, there isn’t ONE single way to deliver Android; AND the way its implemented differs from device to device, mobile carrier to mobile carrier, so, if something in the instructions doesn’t line up for you and the store you purchased the phone can’t give you immediate assistance, leave a question in the comments.  I’ll answer it ASAP.

1.    Turn on your Android phone for the first time. After it boots and displays various splash and logo screens, it should stop at a welcome screen. This should be the beginning of a setup wizard or other setup app.
Android_ss_0001

2.    The HTC One (M8) uses the Verizon Cloud to back up your phone’s important information. If you want to use Verizon Cloud, click the “Next” button. Otherwise, click the “Skip” button.
Android_ss_0002

3.    Choose the data that you want to backup to Verizon Cloud. By default, all data types are selected.  Click the “Next” button when you’re done.
Android_ss_0003

4.    Choose what wireless networks are used – cellular and Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi only – when backing up data to Verizon Cloud.  Click the appropriate radio button and then click the, “Done with Cloud” button to go to the next step.
Android_ss_0004

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Windows Phone

Now that you have your email account created and your address book populated, let’s get the data on your smartphone.

OK… we took quite a bit of time the other day getting our email account setup on our service of choice. Any of the ones that I gave you instructions for – Google Apps/Gmail, Outlook.com, iCloud – are decent choices and should serve you well. While you’re going to want to make certain you give yourself the best opportunity for glitch free synchronization (meaning it’s not always wise to mix and match devices and services, or more aptly put, I’d recommend using the service that is natively paired with your device – Gmail+Android, Windows Phone+Outlook.com/Exchange, or iCloud+iPhone), it is possible to mix and match if you absolutely HAVE to. If you must put a Google account on your iPhone, don’t be surprised if your experience isn’t as optimized as it would be if you had either Google services synching to an Android phone or Apple services synching to an iPhone. It works, but there may be a couple of glitches here and there…

So, how do you get the information from your email account over to your smartphone? It’s quite simple, really. You have to tell your smartphone that you have the type of account you have and then let the two communicate via the smartphone’s cellular data connection with the internet. As changes are made to either side – on your smartphone or on your email account – those changes will be made to the remaining side so that you’ll always have the latest information, no matter where you look at the data.

The big thing to remember here is that this is likely one of the first things your phone is going to want to take you through when you turn it on for the very first time. It’s going to want to attach itself to your email account so that you get all of your PIM data (Personal Information Management data – Mail, Calendar, Contacts (or address book) and Tasks) to and from your smartphone as the data changes. It will set up a Push Data connection (the same kind as Blackberry made famous, back in the day…); and as a result, your smartphone will always have the latest data and will be considered a “smart” source of information (hence the name, “smartphone”). Any time you want to know who needs to be where at what time, who you can call if for some reason you don’t get the information or can’t make an appointment, or want to message someone about… you can use your smartphone. (This is why we took the time to get your email account set up correctly…). It also makes all of this information portable, mobile and easy to take with you wherever you go.

Ok, so your phone is going to want to setup its default account (if you have more than one email account, you can set up more than one sync relationship) so that it gets all the info all the time. I’m going to take you through some of the default setup steps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. This will help you if you have problems.

However, the screens we’re going to review actually take you through, step-by-step and have a pretty good set of instructions. If I gloss over something that you don’t understand or need more information on, let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the instructions.

Please remember that this process assumes that you’re mixing apples with apples. In other words, you’re using the default email account TYPE with a LIKE phone.

Windows Phone+Outlook.com (or your Microsoft Account)
1. Turn your new Windows Phone on for the first time. The Welcome screen below, will appear after it boots.
wp_ss_0001

2. Sign in to your Microsoft Account on the “Keep Your Life in Sync” screen. If you sign in later, your phone won’t be setup correctly until it has all of this information.
wp_ss_0002

3. Enter in your Microsoft Account email address. This is more than likely a @msn.com, @live.com, @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com email address, but it could be any email address you have, provided you registered it as a Microsoft Account mail address.

4. Type in your password in the password field. When you’re done, either check or uncheck the “Allow Microsoft to send you information and tips about your Windows Phone,” checkbox. While this will subscribe you to their Windows Phone newsletter, it might have some cool tips in it that you didn’t know about. If you’re new to Windows Phone, I’d check it. You can always unsubscribe later.

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite #1: Setting up Your Address Book

This is a cell/ smartphone’s primary use case; but it isn’t as cut and dry as you think…

If you remember my intro from the other day, you’ll remember that what makes a smartphone smart can be summed up in one word – Integration. We’re going to come back to this point a number of different times over the course of this week, just to make certain everyone certain that they understand that missing an integration point can effect more than one app or piece of functionality.

For example – Failing to correctly setup and configure a primary email account will affect your ability to make and place cell calls.

I know. It’s strange except for one very important point – the address book in your smartphone is a universal address book. It has names, addresses and phone numbers in it for everyone that you want to communicate with, in any and EVERY way you will want to communicate with them.  That includes email addresses, Skype addresses, Facebook and Twitter name, etc.  If you don’t get your address book set up right, then you’re going to have issues taking and placing calls. Period.

The biggest thing I want you to do here is to NOT get overwhelmed. Yes.  You’re right…there’s going to be a lot here that may or may not make sense to you right away.  If things are confusing, then the biggest thing you can do to help yourself is

Ask questions.

That’s what the discussion area is for. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask a question in the discussion area. I’ll check through the comments (if any) and answer your question(s). If need be, I’ll answer it in an article if the answer requires a bit more than a one-two step answer. It’s not a big deal…

So… step one – get an email address if you don’t already have one.  If you do have one, then you need to make certain that it will work appropriately with your new smartphone.  You’re probably also going to want to make certain that this service (remember that word for later…) also has a compatible calendar and task list or to-do list.  You’re likely going to want to keep track of those and your phone makes a great tool for that.  Here are a couple GREAT examples of mixing and matching PIM (Personal Information Management) services that will likely have to be forced to work.

Hotmail/ Outlook.com/ Exchange on Android – it works, but Google stopped supporting Exchange ActiveSync on Android.  All this means is that if you have your email, contacts (address book) and calendar here, getting it to show up on your Android phone just got more difficult. Chalk this up to the smartphone and ecosystem wars going on between Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Exchange on iPhone – Google isn’t the only one who stopped licensing Exchange ActiveSync (Microsoft’s Push eMail Sync System) on their devices. Apple did it too, and now getting the information there for new users of new Exchange eMail accounts is more difficult. It’s still possible, but you may have to configure things manually. I know I do…

Google Apps/Gmail on iPhone – If you have a Gmail account and you want to sync it to your iPhone, it isn’t as easy as it used to be when both Google and Apple were licensing Exchange ActiveSync. Now that neither support EAS, you either have to be grandfathered in via Google Apps, or pay $50 per year, per user to enable the feature. I don’t know many consumers that do this.

Ok… so your next question is obviously, “OK, Chris… What DOES work?”

That’s easy – stick to the ecosystem; or pair like animals together.

If you’re using an Android device, use or get a Gmail or Google Apps account.  If you’re using an iPhone your best bet is to use or get an Apple iCloud mail account. If you’re using Windows Phone, you can use Hotmail/Outlook.com or Exchange email addresses without any difficulty.  All of these will have Calendars and Task/To-Do lists.  You can set them up later.

See how the smartphones and support systems match up?  That’s what each company wants you to do.  They want you to use their SERVICES (I told you to remember that word from before…) with their devices. Google and Microsoft are all moving to a subscription based software licensing model when it comes to many of their software titles (like, Office 365, for example) and supporting services.  They want to lock you in so that you have to get what you need from them (that way, THEY get your dollars). The mixing and matching of devices and services that we did between 2008 and 2012 is ending. It’s getting harder and harder to do that. So, if you have an Android device, you might want to consider using Gmail. If you have an iPhone, you might want to consider using iCloud, etc., even if that means you have to stop using an address you’ve used for a long time.

Your first step, after signing up for a new email address is getting your contacts from the old system to the new system.  You’re likely going to want to do most of the work here on your desktop PC. There’s (potentially) a lot of information to capture, so you’re likely going to want to type things in on a desktop or laptop. Doing this on your smartphone keyboard is gonna suck.

Depending on the number of contacts you have, you can try to use the export system your old account has.  There are up to 9 different sets of instructions here (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks are available in Gmail, iCloud and Exchange); and all three have decent help systems that will show you how to export these items. If you have problems, leave me a comment and I will give you as simple a how-to for your situation as possible; but if you can send email, you can probably figure out how to export these three items into a format that can be used for importing into another system.

The same can be said for importing items. Look to your new email’s help system for importing items. After you get everything into the new system, we’ll setup a sync relationship and then make a test phone call.

However, if you’ve never had a smartphone before, then you probably don’t’ have a lot of contacts. If you have less than 100 entries in your old device’s phone book, you can probably type them into your new email account manually. To update your address book, use the following instructions on the following different systems.  These instructions assume you have already created an account on the appropriate and/or relevant system.
A quick note on importing contacts from social networks, like Facebook and Twitter: Most social networks ask you to input an email address and a phone number into your account profile. If you or your friends did that with, say your Facebook account, then that information will likely be imported into your new email system if it gives you the opportunity to import those contacts.

Outlook.com – These instructions will help you
a) Import some contact records to Outlook.com from 4 compatible social network and/or email sources (instructions included only because the options displayed automatically when the People app main page appeared)
b) Create a contact record for yourself.

1. Open your web browser and navigate to Outlook.com.
2. Log in with your Microsoft Account’s user name and password.  The Outlook.com main email page will appear
Outlook.com - Contact 01

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