I built a spreadsheet to model the effect of California state income tax rates on after-tax income and compared California with Washington State, which lacks an income tax.
I would have to earn about $12,000 more in California in order to earn the same after-tax income that I make in Washington State, and even if I did earn that income premium in California, I would likely not be able to save as much money each year because housing is more expensive in big cities in California. If I were to account for all of the cost of living increase, I’d probably need to earn $20,000 more each year in California to save the same amount each that I can in Washington State.
This spreadsheet really illustrates the power that income taxes wield over all of us…who knows, maybe this spreadsheet will even cause someone to move to a lower-tax state!
Click here to see the spreadsheet in a new window.
Note: Someone tipped me off soon after publishing this spreadsheet that I did not account for the fact that earning a higher pre-tax income in California would also potentially put you into a higher federal income tax bracket, and this scenario is not reflected in my spreadsheet (maybe in version 2.0?).
If you haven’t seen the new Zaarly Storefronts, you should take a look. It legitimately might change ecommerce forever.
The team of geniuses at Zaarly has tackled a few big peeves we’ve all had with the legacy ecommerce establishment:
- Traditionally, online merchants focus on products and are horrible at selling services
- It’s hard to find local products/services which due to their proximity may be more relevant to what I’m looking for
E-commerce isn’t totally broken today, but it doesn’t really provide a good avenue to finding good local service providers (house cleaning, outsourced chores, lawn mowing, personal chefs, et cetera), and it is no good at helping you find Services (major ecommerce sites like Ebay/Amazon are much more focused on selling products). All the daily deal sites made ecommerce more local, but they only gave us deals on restaurants, spas, and some other things that we don’t really want or need. Zaarly Storefronts changes is. It is local (which makes its service offerings more relevant), it includes products (which is what most of us buy online, anyway), it makes buying services easy, it provides a clear visual introduction to the service provider or product, and does all of this in one place.
The gist of Zaarly Storefronts is that it is local products and services with with engaging descriptions and photos/visuals that give you a good idea of what you’ll get.
Here’s an example: you want someone to clean your apartment every two weeks because you don’t have time to do it yourself. Zaarly Storefronts says “Meet your new cleaning lady, Geannie Meckler!”:
See, read, click, buy. Now your house is clean. It’s intuitive and effortless. I think that Zaarly’s ecommerce innovations are going to drive its competitors to change the way they list products and services, so perhaps Zaarly Storefront will change the way commerce happens even on platforms outside Zaarly.
Here’s an example of some of the local products available on Zaarly Storefronts (which reminds me of a sort of virtual farmer’s market):
Kudos to the team over at Zaarly for building a hyper-relevant ecommerce platform!
TouchBase for iPhone is an app that is so useful and innovative, I need to share it with you.
It effectively replaces your iPhone Calendar app and does all the regular things (creating/editing calendar entries, inviting others, et cetera) that you would expect. It really shines, though, when you’re running late to meet someone or need a map of the venue to navigate to the meeting venue quickly with GPS.
Here’s an example. If I create a calendar event called “Lunch with Tony W. at Grim’s Seattle”, TouchBase will automatically go through my iPhone contacts and find Tony W. and associate him with the calendar event. The app will also run a Google search for “Grim’s Seattle” and insert the top-ranked search result’s address into the location/address field of the calendar event. Since TouchBase knows who I’m meeting with and automatically fetched his phone number from my address book, I can call or text Tony DIRECTLY from the calendar event, and because TouchBase has automatically fetched the meeting venue’s address, I can navigate to it and get driving directions–also straight from the TouchBase calendar event. If I’m stuck in traffic for our lunch meeting, I can simply hit “I’m running late by 20 minutes” and TouchBase will send Tony a text to let him know (or I can call him).
This is the kind of useful extension of the calendar that I wish Apple had built into the standard iPhone calendar. Anyways, you can now have this functionality for just $0.99 (the price is set to quadruple to $3.99, so get it soon!).
It IS possible!:
A little exchange I had regarding privacy (which I do not really value as highly as I value transparency). I learned that not everyone shares my values, and that, for many, eschewing Google products is the most appropriate choice:
Thanks for allowing me to learn something new, Steve!
By connecting humans to one another, the internet has revolutionized communication, and by extension it has also revolutionized aspects of every other discipline. This can be seen quite clearly in the lightning-fast response to the post-earthquake humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
Within an hour of the quake, news reports were disseminated across the globe instantly. Those reports made mention of the quake, its location, and its severity. That put aid agencies on alert, and sparked hundreds of thousands of subsequent phone calls between consular officials, humanitarian/aid organizations, foreign militaries, airlines, medical staff, concerned families, et cetera. The fight to save Haiti became viral, and the virus’ method of delivery was undoubtedly the internet.
The internet has allowed for much more than quick dissemination and virality of news results. On Wednesday, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal posted image galleries online which effectively communicate the scale of the destruction to outsiders. The image galleries act as a crucial emotional appeal to humans’ nurturing instincts, and are most probably responsible for a surge in the size and quantity of charitable donations being made.
Already, Haitian-American recording artist Wyclef Jean has managed to raise more than $750,000 for his Haiti-focused charity, Yele, by soliciting donations via Twitter. His charity accepts donations via the internet, and through SMS shortcode (Anyone on an American wireless carrier who texts ‘YELE’ to the phone number 501 501 makes a donation of $5 to Yele which is charged to their mobile phone bill). Without the viral platform that Twitter offers, Wyclef Jean’s charity surely would have raised much less money.
The immediacy, virality, and rich media offered by our modern internet has surely helped save the lives of Haitians who would’ve perished without it.
If you’d like to make a donation to the relief effort, consider the following organizations:
I’ve seen games in Excel before, but this is something else:
Spreadtweet is a Twitter client that makes a person’s incoming Twitter stream look like a typical Excel spreadsheet, giving the impression that an employee is working when they really are not.
Via The Type-A Way (Thanks, Marina!)
I sat down with Gist CEO T.A. McCann last Friday and got a personalized introduction to their messaging application. I’m finally importing all my messaging, contacts, and social networking data into Gist so I can use it as my centralized messaging center day-to-day.
It’s fascinating what kinds of things Gist can tell you about your contacts:
Imagine I had a meeting scheduled with Marcelo Calbucci next week. I could look at his Gist profile and see which media organizations had mentioned him in the last week, and what they wrote about him. That way, I can be caught up on what’s going on in Marcelo’s world before even sitting down with him.
Gist functions in a very similar fashion to my BlackBerry’s Messages application, and by that I mean that it’s a centralized destination that gives a timeline of my communication with all my contacts no matter the platform (email, Facebook messaging, Twitter, et cetera). That kind of continuity and context is important in our modern, connected, busy world. And to top it off, you can reply using any and all platforms right from Gist. No need to open up Facebook or Gmail in a separate tab.
This thing is just going to blow Google Wave out of the water because it harnesses the power of context. It combines communication and contextual relationships into one, bringing a human element into messaging–something that Google could only wish they’d thought of building into Wave.
It seems like this product was purpose-built for me. If they made me pay monthly for it, I would–in a second.
I’m going to write about any new Gist features that strike my fancy each week, as I get to know the software better, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, try it out yourself: https://beta.gist.com/dashboard
At 8GB, my BlackBerry now matches (most) iPhones when it comes to storage, and still manages to weigh less, have a keyboard, and push email/contacts/calendar entries to the device. I’m throwing my 2GB iPod Nano out the window.
In my very scientific tests vetting newcomer search engine Wolfram Alpha against stalwart Google, Wolfram Alpha has failed:
Astronomy? Seriously? I know you’re in beta, but is that all you can come up with? Are you confused? Wait, are you…..oh no.
I mean, that’s fine and all. Wolfie, me and you are still cool. Just not that cool. Like, we can still play XBOX. You just can’t stay over anymore now that I know you’re not on my team. Not that I’m against people like you–I’m not. Really.
Long-time Man-staple Google, on the other hand, when searched for “hottest girl earth” comes up with a TON of great entries, including the top entry, a photo spread of Megan Fox (who is pretty much the hottest piece around) from Maxim.
Google 1, Wolfie 0 (or should I start calling you Bruce?) .
I’m a very effective Google searcher, and after meeting a new contact, it takes me less than a minute to find out everything I want to know about that contact using Google. I call it being well-informed, but it could seem a little stalker-ish, depending on if you’re the one being Googled, or the person Googling.
A new startup, Gist, is attempting to kill my information advantage over the Search Plebes. Their product rifles through your email inbox looking for names, and comes up with tidy little reports for you that will help you know your contacts better before your meeting with them. It’ll show you all your communication with that contact no matter the platform (email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs). It’ll tell you what is being said about them in blogs. It’ll tell you what they’ve been writing about in blogs. It can tell you so many things that, in reality, your future in-person meeting with them will be just a formality, because all your questions for them will already be answered by Gist in advance. Skynet will then hunt you down.
I love their idea. The inbox is the ultimate tool, and hasn’t seen much innovation. I think, ideally, Gist would be bought NOW by Google, who could integrate Gist into GMail, negating the need to use any other messaging platforms by way of integrating communication in one place. Google has already been doing that with their additions of GoogleChat, AIM, and GoogleTalk into GMail.
This is an amazing time to be alive, what with all the things that are changing, evolving, improving.
A major step was just taken that will revolutionize how video is produced and consumed. It’s called the Panasonic GH1.
It dispenses with the traditional SLR mirror and optical viewfinder, allowing a shorter lens-to-sensor distance; in turn enabling smaller, lighter, and quieter cameras. The platform, called ‘Micro Four Thirds’, maintains the same-size image sensor as a traditional DSLR, and uses similar (though smaller) interchangeable lenses that allow for shallow depth of field, which is one of the defining characteristics that DSLRs have long had a monopoly on versus point-and-shoot consumer cameras.
So it’s smaller. Why is this camera so revolutionary, then?
Well, size is not the revolution. HD video functionality is.
Though hardly the first digital camera to shoot HD video (notable examples include the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90) the GH1 manages to provide jaw-droppingly-good HD video (1080p) in a smaller and less-expensive package* than its predecessors and rivals. This means that any idiot with a thousand bucks, a subject, and a PC can become a movie producer.
Here’s the freshest example of HD video shot off a Panasonic GH1 (if you watch the HD version closely and notice the shallow depth of field and fantastic quality, you’ll understand how revolutionary this is!):
What we’ve seen with print media–the replacement of the top-down newspaper/magazine model with a more democratic, user-generated model–is exactly what is going to happen with digital video. With the increased accessibility of cheap HD video recording, sites like Vimeo and FunnyOrDie are going to be swimming in quality user-generated content (if they’re not already). The losers are going to be the big studios, whose only advantages will be 1) bigger budgets for marketing/production, 2) star power, and 3) existing distribution channels (movie theaters, et cetera). The studios, however, will be at a massive disadvantage on the internet, coming up against small niche players who will be able to undercut them on production cost AND content pricing, providing the content for free (ad-supported). If the big studios eschew the free-content route, as print media did, and they’ll lose market share to the internet upstarts.
This is a MASSIVE opportunity for anybody with film-making experience. You have the opportunity to be involved in a revolution. Yes, the democratization of HD video will mean declining prestige, and an increasingly flooded content marketplace. But at the same time, it allows content creators to put more professional-looking creations on the web and garner maximum exposure before the big studios begin to adapt to the new platform.
If there is to be an internet video production star made, he/she will be made king very soon. As I said earlier, this is an amazing time to be alive.
*Note: the Panasonic GH1 may be priced similarly to the Nikon D90. We’ll have to see.