Jan 24, 2009

Free Tax Return Software

I have been using QuickTax so far, which cost around $20 per return.  And I recently heard about this free tax return software called StudioTax from RedFalgDeals.com, but was not sure how good it is even if it has been around for years.

And I found my lab hamster today: my dad had to use 2007 version to file his super late tax return, and guess what?  I think I even like this one over QuickTax because this software shows you actual tax forms that CRA mails to you.  Wow.  This program looks a bit less professional than QuickTax, but more user-friendly and seem to have more forms that I will need.  You can report even investment incomes and your contract work incomes.

I'm definitely gonna use this one for my 2008 tax return. With this software, you can either print out and the mail, or you can even do NETFILE with it. (just wait a bit, NETFILE certified version will be up pretty soon) Super awesome.

Finally, BIG KUDOS to BHOK IT Consulting who made it available free for us.

Steve Jobs is Just an Icon

As soon as Steve Jobs took a leave for 6 months due to the his health problem, Apple stock was hit heavily. A lot of news were pretty much saying "without Steve Jobs, Apple is fucked" As you can guess, the Apple stock declined for some days. So I bought some Apple stocks.

Why? Because I know Steve Jobs is just an icon. So many people think he was the one who make iPod happen. But that is not true. As Steve Wozniak, another founder of Apple and who designed the first Apple computer, said in his autobiography,iWoz, iPod was already being developed even before Steve Jobs rejoined the company. Steve Jobs is there because he has such incredible presentation skills which make all the Apple products look better.

About one or two weeks after Jobs took his leave, Apple disclosed the quarterly earning, which is pretty darn healthy. And now a lot of news are contradicting themselves by saying Apple is not just an one-man company, and all the Apple engineers are really making it happen. Jeez, thanks. How much money did you, news creators(they are not reporters at all.. are they?), make by buying Apple stocks after first news and selling them back after second?

Don't get me wrong. I like Steve Jobs. He's a great dude, but people tend to think him bigger than what he is. He is just an icon, and maybe that's why one of his unofficial biographies is callediCon.

Jan 22, 2009

Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts

So apparently a book called,Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts, was published a couple of months ago.  You might like it if you were a big fan of Monkey Islands or Maniac Mansion like me. To be honest, I do not really care about their Star Wars games....

Jan 17, 2009

The Soul of a New Machine

Engineers are aesthetes - Tracy Kidder
So are game developers... well... at least some of them are.... well... almost... - Me

I've finally finished a book called,The Soul Of A New Machine.  It took me about 4 years because this book is about 1 million pages.... okay I am kidding.  I started to read this book while I was at BCIT, and I got really busy, so couldn't continue.  And I totally forgot about this book until recent when I finally picked it up again and started to read.

This book is about a group of Data General engineers who devoted their life to make a new computer back in late 70s.  Who wouldn't call it a devotion when they worked like over 80 hours a week without weekends and holidays for about 1.5 year, and for sure no overtime pay.

Why did they do that?  Are they stupid?

That's exactly the same question I often ask to myself.  Why do I do that?  What's really driving me like this?  I know it's not money for sure.  I don't mind making tons of money, but that's not what drives me.  Even DG engineers were not rewarded after the machine's huge success.  The best answer I can think of for this "syndrome" is challenge.  There is a rare breed of people who is always looking for new challenges.  After conquering an almost-impossible-to-solve challenge, they move to a-little-more-impossible-to-solve challenge. Why?  Because everyone needs excitement to be happy in their life, and conquering challenges is the only way to excite this rare breed.  Harder challenges bring more excitements, that is.  And without it, their life is hollow, making them feel empty.  Fortunately, and unfortunately, I believe I belong to this species.  I've been throwing myself hard problems, and trilled whenever they were overcome, but I still want more without knowing why I am doing this.  It's just a big cycle that happens again and again for years.  The only difference is that I'm now trying to solve harder problems than a couple of years ago: all the other things, including the anxiety, are still same.

There is only one problem with these people: they don't know what to do after retirement.  I think I will have this problem, too.

It would be very interesting if someone writes a book about game developers (not a dumb fiction like J-Pod, though) because our life seems to be as harsh as those engineers quite often.  But do I complain?  Nope.  I enjoy hell alot of it.