Monday, December 26, 2011

I Just Installed a Software Upgrade on my iPad and Now the Apps Won't Run

I've never been a fan of Apple.

This probably goes back to the Macintosh with the 9-inch black and white monitor with its 512 pixel-wide screen.  Good idea, poorly implemented.  This probably is the real Apple Corporate Motto, pasted on a back wall in Cupertino in Sanskrit.

But, the iPad has become the place where really creative people put forth their best efforts creating application programs for computers.  Once again, Microsoft missed the boat.  They didn't invent a store to sell cheap application programs and didn't think up a clever name for them, like "Apps!"  So while the whole world is buying and selling sophisticated programs for between one dollar and five dollars, Microsoft is still out there trying to sell a word processing program for $120.  Good luck on that.

So, the iPad is the place to be to use this stuff.  The screen is still only nine inches, just like that 1984 Mac, but at least you can pick it up and hold it so you can see it.  I caved.  Santa brought us an iPad Saturday night.

I loaded up a few Apps.  Angry Birds, of course!  Netflix and the Kindle reader, then a nifty photographer's guide to where the sun will be on any day of the year at any place.  Throw in a few restaurant guides and we were ready to hit the road!  My Travel Blog is here.

But, why not also make sure the iPad operating system is current too?  So I upgraded to the current version of iOS.  I then clicked on one of my application programs (Okay, an "App") and nothing happened.  Well, it briefly started to expand, then contracted back to icon size.  What the heck?

The restaurant guide, the Kindle reader, LightTrac - nothing!  But Safari, e-mail?  Yeah, those work.

Searched the web.  Found this marvelous website, where people have been complaining about this problem from April 15 through December 22 of 2011.

Lots of interesting solutions are mentioned but non quite as good as the one I found on another thread which was "Just download another free application from the App Store.  This fixes it.  Then remove the newly installed App."

Worked like a charm.

It was also educational to find that there are people who recommend a "hard reset" for the iPad just like the people who inhabit Windows forums and suggest, "wipe the disk and reinstall the operating system."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Respect For the Payroll Department

It's a classic battle of the little guy versus the elite.  And, as usual, the elite are winning.

Who are the elite?  The President and the United States Senate.  The little guy? Your local payroll department that issues your check every week, on time and for the correct amount.

The House of Representatives passed a one-year extension of the current payroll-tax rate for FICA-SS which, otherwise, would revert to 6.2% from 4.2% on January 1st. Action required in the payroll department? None.  Just the usual year-end hustle, otherwise, have a nice holiday season.

Not content to let things be simple, the Senate countered with a bill that would extend the current rates for only two months.  And to top it off, they slipped in the $18,350 kicker!

$18,350?  Yes, indeed.  The politicians want to make sure that no high-rollers, that is, people making over $9,175 per month get away with any extra money.  Not to mention the evil forces of management who might be expecting a bonus check sometime in January.

So they put in a provision that any amount of earnings in excess of $18,350 paid during January-February will be taxed at 6.2% and not at 4.2%

I can almost guarantee you that there is no switch to be flipped in your employer's payroll system that will implement that change!

Many people are paid with a payroll system that has been neglected, patched and repaired for many years.  I talked a few years back with one contract programmer who maintained the payroll system for the engineers on a railroad.  The system had to accommodate both a differential for miles on uphill grade and downhill grades - plus a differential for passage through "Indian Territory."  Those provisions were still in the contract under which the engineers operated.  I hope my friend is still available and on call for the week after Christmas.

So where do the payroll departments of the country stand on this issue?  Well just Google  "payroll tax 18350" and follow a few of the links.  Or follow this link to see the letter from the National Payroll Reporting Consortium.  A quote:
In our opinion enactment of HR 3630 as written could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.
And just where does the president stand on this abomination?  Well, here's one photo (thanks, Drudge)  that captures him in a leadership role:

That's right, the president thinks a two-month extension is preferrable to a twelve month extension.  And the media buys it!  Have you read or heard anything about the chaos that this two-month extension is going to cause?

Ah, well.  Payroll never gets any respect.

As for me?  I'm retired, so I don't have to deal with this issue.  Just keep sending me those social security check, you young folks.  And thanks for the 3.6% raise you are giving me on January 1st.  Say, how are you paying for that raise when you quit putting 6.2% into the Social Security Trust Fund and dropped back to 4.2%?  Well, I guess that goes in a different post.