a glob of nerdishness

March 22, 2008

Federal 1040 helper as Numbers spreadsheet

written by natevw @ 12:41 pm

Below you will find the IRS’s Federal 1040 form in a completely unofficial, completely at your own risk spreadsheet template worksheet for iWork’s Numbers application. As you fill in each line, it updates an estimate that might be similar to what you might owe or be refunded from federal United States taxes. This year, only the main F1040 form is “complete” although there is a very simplified part of Schedule C that hooks in as well.

f1040 spreadsheet screenshot (reduced)

You can download the template and try it out. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Share Alike license so feel free to share any corrections or additions.

As I’ve posted before, I quit my job at the end of last year. In preparation, my wife and I were trying to estimate where we might be at financially this year. I love Numbers, so I put this together to help get a more solid estimate of our tax liability. While I was preparing this year, it also helped me see by how much deductions would affect the bottom line. Of course, this is no substitute for the official forms or the advice of a certified accountant. Don’t trust this form, but please do let us know if you find any errors. Either leave a comment for everyone, or if you want to send attachments my email account with yahoo.com is “natevw”.

Speaking of the official forms, another piece of advice: On both of my work computers, Preview.app has two frustrating, er…deficiencies I’ve encountered when filling out the PDF tax forms. First of all, if I use “Save as” to keep my work it instead *clears* my work and I end up with two blank PDFs. I think a hearty EPIC FAIL is in order here. When I try to work around that by printing to a PDF instead, it often crashes halfway through printing and I end up with one blank and one corrupted PDF. So the advice? Do all your official figuring on good old paper printouts and pencil. If you do want it in digital form, copy the values into the spiteful electronic nemesis when you’re all done. Then if (WHEN!) it tries to subvert you, you needn’t waste time recalculating.

March 1, 2008

Everything is Miscellaneous

written by natevw @ 11:50 am

This review of David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous is categorized under both “Books” and “Reviews”. I think he would be okay with that — he’s not against sorting, just opposed to “the idea that there’s a best way of organizing the world”. That thesis, found on page ten, echoes throughout the book with various applications. When James Tauber mentioned the book, the title alone drew me in. Indeed, the book was an affirmation of many ideas I’d had.

I can’t say I enjoyed the book as much as I’d hoped, though. When it arrived in its bubbly blue cover, I became a bit suspicious. Indeed, this book is written in a fluffy, overly colorful style. Furthermore, the author categorizes certain ideas as “those which it is safe to condescend”, sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly. Right and wrong themselves are a bit too provincial for Weinberger, and I got the impression he’s still bitter towards any religion on account of one of his forbear’s being waterboarded by a Republican during the Spanish Inquisition. Perhaps that was the case, which would be unfortunate, but that recurring tone distracted this book from its more useful points.

I read the book last fall, and took the notes for this review at that time. This morning I finally got around to listening to Clay Shirky’s Ontology is Overrated presentation, which was delivered more than two years before this book came out. It’s much less sensationalist, more elegant than vitriolic when presenting its worldview, and still manages to cover almost everything that Dr. Weinberger did. If you’d like a general introduction to the benefits of non-hierarchical, decentralized, fuzzy means of classification, I’d recommend Shirky’s presentation before Weinberger’s book.

However, Everything is Miscellaneous did strike me as reasonably well researched and presented some interesting ideas that expanded in some areas beyond what “Ontology is Overrated” covered. As James Tauber said in his post, the book didn’t really change my mind either, but I don’t regret reading it. I’d still like to add it to one of my shelves. But I’m waiting until after it’s available in paperback this April, as that is a more appropriate medium for the writing style.