April 14th, 2004

Death and...

I've been putting off doing my taxes this year because I expected to be writing two four-figure checks, one to the feds and another to the state. I was 1099 for most of the year (the part that I worked, at least) and didn't pay any estimated taxes or self-employment tax. Yes, I was bad.

So yesterday I installed TurboTax on my desktop machine, which is where I've done my taxes for the past five years or more using TT. It bitched during installation that it needed IE 5.5 or higher (I had 5.0 and wanted it to keep it that way if I could, but I let it try to install 5.5. That failed.

I tried to install 6 from Microsoft's website, and that failed too. Over and over, in a fairly cryptic way. I searched the MS site. I searched Google. I pounded my head on the wall. I crawled through cryptic logfiles, hunted down arcane Windows voodoo commands, interacted with safe mode, rebooted rebooted rebooted, and did everything but sacrifice a goat while facing Redmond. For several hours I tried to do this upgrade, to no avail. It was ridiculous.

I eventually installed TurboTax on my laptop and copied over last year's files for it to import, then made a first pass through my return.

The good news? Without exercising any, umm, creativity, I'm in much better shape than I thought. At this point I only have to fork over about a hundred bucks net, and there are still some deductions that I haven't hunted down. When all is said and done, I might actually get a refund. How cool is that?

Microsoft "security"

In the process of dicking around with the desktop machine trying to get IE upgraded so that I could do my taxes, I installed the patches from Microsoft's critical-security-flaw-of-the-month club. This made the machine more secure, right?

Somehow in this process, my firewall got disabled. This morning I got up to find that the machine had been hacked. My antivirus software was screaming bloody murder, but apparently something got past it, and I got to spend time mopping up the mess.

These are the things that make you shout "motherfucker!" at the monitor.