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Car Registration Warning

Starting July 1st, 2011, residents of California received a little tax relief.  The temporary tax that was implemented on April 1, 2009 and was not renewed further by the California legislature.  Around the June 30th deadline to extend the taxes I recall seeing a forlorn Jerry Brown on the news saying how disastrous not extending the tax would be. I say “Hallelujah!”

As you can see, the sales tax rate in Long Beach is already higher than surrounding cities. A full 1% higher than neighboring Los Alamitos.  But, that 1% decrease is a good start.  I always have the option of purchasing goods in Orange County.  *wink-wink*  But how is the state going to recoup that lost revenue. Here’s one way that was shown to me just today. Late fees.  The notice below was inside my father-in-law’s DMV renewal bill that he received today.

So, as of July 1, 2011, as well as paying 1% less sales tax, you also have less time to pay your DMV registration renewal fees.  The state has chopped the advance notice that you have enjoyed on your DMV renewal from 60 days to basically a week.  That’s right!  The bill that I saw is due on July 24th, just one week from when it was received.  What does that mean for y’all?  Well, if you read all you statements and pay them when you receive them, you’re golden.  If, however, you are like me and you’re used to that couple of month buffer between when you receive and when you pay your DMV renewal, you may find yourself with a fine, especially if you don’t read the notices you receive with the bill.

And there it is.  I believe that the state is offsetting the loss in sales tax, at least partially, with the elimination of the 60-day advanced notification.

I’m going to verify this on my vehicle registration when it comes in August.  Also, from what I saw on the FIL’s bill, the 30-day grace period mentioned in the notice doesn’t actually exist.  On the day that the fees are due on his bill, the next date on the bill showed late fees immediately on the day after it is due, not 30 days later.  That may be an oversight on the formatting of the new bill, and maybe in a month that will be fixed.

In the meantime, read all the notices that come with your bills.  You may be saving yourself late fees and other hidden taxes because of it.

 

 



Netflix Alternatives

As you read here, or on some other source, Netflix is raising their prices for the streaming and DVD combo service.  They are raising it from $9.99 per month to $15.98.  From the sound of their blog post on the subject, they are pretty resolute on this change.

As always, our members can easily choose to change or cancel their unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both by visiting Your Account.

That sounds eerily like, “It’s my way, or the highway.”

Well, thanks to Netflix raising their prices 60% it’s going to cause people to look for alternatives to Netflix.  I just resurrected my Hulu account that has sat dormant for a couple of years.  I signed up for the service when it launched but didn’t find the service compelling.  Now that I may be rethinking my choice of streaming video service, and the Hulu service is much more mature now, it may be a viable option. The price is the same $7.99 as Netflix and they have a large number of television shows and movies to choose from. Not as large as Netflix, but may be doable. The thing that will make it possible to switch will be the content for kids. Perusing the television shows I’m not seeing a lot of programming for children, except for Naruto.

I think Matthew Leech has a good plan for replacing the DVD portion of Netflix.  I didn’t think about using those red kiosks at the grocery store.  They rentals are only $1 (if you remember to return them the next day) and they have the latest DVDs there even before Amazon VOD.  I’m still holding onto the idea that Amazon will bolster their streaming offerings with their Prime service as well.  That along with the cheap or free shipping that comes with the service would work well for the family.

One bright spot in this whole thing is the fact that all three services, Netflix, Hulu/Hulu Plus and Amazon VOD/Prime are all services that are available on my Roku set-top box.  Stay with Netflix, add Hulu Plus or dump them all.  Any way I go, I’m covered.  That’s refreshing not having to change out boxes and cables behind the entertainment center.

Free Shipping on Roku XD and XDS, Buy Now. Limited Time Offer.

Meanwhile, I’m not making any decisions until August 31, 2011.  At that time I’ll cancel the DVD service.  Until that time though, I’m going to go on a DVD binge and catch up on the top 20 movies in my DVD queue.


Netflix Raising Prices 60% in September

Or, if you go back in time to the point that Netflix added streaming to the service ($7.99 then) they are effectively doubling the price for streaming and one DVD at a time.

Amazon Prime, and their one price for Prime shipping services and streaming, is starting to look more interesting. Prime is $79 per year or $6.58 per month. Assuming Amazon is aggressive in getting new streaming content this might be the place to look in the future.

In the meantime, I’ve had the same DVD at my house for roughly three weeks. Apparently the DVD service is not that important, but it was nice to have for those titles that don’t stream yet. I’m going to be sending that one back and going for the streaming only. I’ll rent new movies on Amazon VOD instead of getting them on DVD. Both services are available on the ROKU so I don’t have to choose just one.

Free Shipping on Roku XD and XDS, Buy Now. Limited Time Offer.


Audible Bucks the Trend

And the hits just keep on coming” is what I thought I would be saying when I received an email from Audible.  As you may or may not know, Audible was purchased by Amazon.  When I saw the words “Audible” and “affiliates” in the same email, I thought that was the next affiliate program to be discontinued.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

But, the opposite is true, at least for now.  Here’s the email:

Hello Russell Turley,

Governor Brown of California signed a budget on June 29, 2011 that included a piece of legislation that imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers even if the online retailer has no physical presence in the state. Although many online retailers were forced to terminate their relationships with their affiliates due to the passage of this legislation, Audible.com will not be terminating its relationships with its affiliates at this time.

If new legislation is passed or circumstances change we will notify all of our California partners and publishers at that time.

If you have any questions about the Audible affiliate program please do not hesitate to contact me!

Best Regards,


Google Plus…

“…it’s a tech journalists circle jerk in there.”

Even after seeing this description of the new Google service, I still want in.  Is that wrong?


Goodbye Amazon Affiliate Program

Well, Gov. Dickhead signed the bill. Why does anyone do business in California?

Hello,

Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.comEndless.comMYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect your ability to purchase fromAmazon.comEndless.comMYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com.

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. As mentioned before, we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

 


Amazon To Terminate Affiliate Program in California

I received the following email from Amazon today.

Hello,

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

As a result, we will terminate contracts with all California residents that are participants in the Amazon Associates Program as of the date (if any) that the California law becomes effective. We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice. As of the termination date, California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before the termination date will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com.

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. We are also working on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

I make a couple bucks now and then from Amazon affiliate links. Not a ton, but enough to cover videos on demand a few times a month. It’s unfortunate that the California legislature refuses to fix its spending problem and instead looks to extract as much from its constituents as possible. Thank Moonbeam!


RSVP Means Something

So today we’re throwing a birthday party for our twins, Matt & Nate.  They actually turned seven in April, but they wanted to have a combined party with their buddy Owen.  He turned seven even before the twins, but we’re just getting around to the party now because of scheduling.  Why not?

It’s a spy party, not that it’s pertinent, but maybe you were interested.

Anyway, we sent out invitations for the party, even hand delivered most of them to classmates and friends.  On the invitation were printed four little letters, R.S.V.P.  Well, those four letters mean something.  They originated from the French words répondez s‘il vous plaît, which mean “Please respond“.

See, even Google agrees with me.  Even Emily Post, the source for all etiquette had this to say about the term R.S.V.P.

“Anyone receiving an invitation with an R.S.V.P on it is obliged to reply….”, and some recent editions describe breaching this standard as “inexcusably rude”.

So, why is it that whenever we have a party and ask for a reply, ask for the invitee to respond please, about 50% of the people we invite are inexcusably rude. Seriously! We include an email address and a phone number on the invitation for the invited person to respond, yet it’s like we sent the thing into a great invitation void whence a response will not come.

Our children thought enough of your child to invite them to their party. If they can come, excellent, if not, bummer, but either way WE NEED TO KNOW!

There is the chance that most people don’t know what R.S.V.P. means. I recall telling my wife that she should put the words “Respond if your are/aren’t coming”, or something to that effect. The result–no different.

We’re going to get ready to party now, but I don’t know how many cup cakes we need, so I have to buy for everyone we invited.  I don’t know if they’re coming.  There’s going to be more than a few left over, guaranteed.


Senseless Banter #5 – They Live!

Welcome to the re-worked show with new co-host, Brad Chowen!

In this return to the Senseless Banter podcast we discuss where Brad and Russ met and their common pasts. We also learn what happens when Kim puts on the termite pants.

We discuss the movie review movie, 50 Worst Movies of All Time. Brad’s seen quite a few which lead to a future screening of Blood Sucking Freaks. We also briefly discussed the John Carpenter cult classic, They Live!

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