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Saturday, 2 February 2019

Microsoft's best ever product ...

... is a mouse. The Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1A USB Wired. I've been using these for a couple of decades now, and I can really recommend them. I've only ever had one fail.

And, of course, they don't make them any more. It seems to be a rule. When a company makes something really good, they replace it with something. Maybe the current crop of Microsoft mice are just as good, but I'd have to wait a few years to know.

So when I spotted a nest of nine of them in an eBay advert (the picture showed ten), I snapped them up.

While I'm on the subject of input devices - I'm still using the IBM "buckling spring" keyboards that were made in 1983, 36 years ago. There are people reading this blog that weren't born when these keyboards were made. What I like about them, is the feel, and the way that you know when you hit a key, because of the buckling spring system they use. I'm glad to say, I bought six of them 20 years ago, when it was still possible to get them.

You can still get keyboards like them (but without the IBM brand) for about £100.









JetDirect 170X

One of my servers is only there to connect my HP LaserJet 6P.

I've had that HP LaserJet 6P for more than 25 years, and it's given good service all that time. But the only port it has is an old-fashioned parallel port, and computers today don't have parallel ports. So I used an old computer to run the HP.

I tried using a parallel to USB cable, but that didn't work. And then I had an idea. I went on eBay and bought a second hand JetDirect 170X for £19. It arrived today. I plugged it in and powered it up, and pressed the test button, and it told me that its IP address was 172.22.28.190; presumably that's the IP address that the last user set it to. So I unplugged it, held down the test button and powered it up again, holding the test button down for several seconds. That did a factory reset.

When I rebooted it, it used DHCP to acquire an IP address of 10.14.63.23, because my whole network uses addresses in the 10.x.x.x range. That's better, and I was able to access it. I tried to use the web interface, but it wanted a prehistoric version of Internet Explorer or Netscape, so instead, I used Telnet.

I disabled DHCP and set the IP address to a fixed value so that various computers would be able to find it. And it all worked!



Friday, 1 February 2019

VAT Update

As anyone following this blog knows, on April 1 we all become April Fools. Because for a lot of people, that is the date (or soon after) that we submit our quarterly VAT returns, and then pay the VAT.

But "Making Tax Digital" is happening, and instead of filling in the form with half a dozen numbers, we have to submit the form electronically. And to do that, you need to get a username and password.

I already have a username and password for VAT - that's how I've been submitting my VAT return for ages. But no. They don't want it to be that easy. I have to make myself a new username and password. And they don't make it easy to discover where you sign up - I challenge you to find it. So here's what I've discovered.

Sign up here.

I haven't signed up yet. They want my UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference number), which I've never needed before, and I'll need to find it.

But there's more. On March 29th, ...

Actually, I don't know what will happen on March 29th, and neither does anyone else, including the 650 Lords of Chaos who are currently starring in the Brexit pantomime. But we're being asked to prepare for "No deal".

In "No Deal",  we are no longer in the EU, but I still have an obligation to pay VAT on sales to the EU-27 countries. Or do I? I don't know, nor does anyone else. I don't pay VAT on sales to Australia, Canada or the USA, so why should I pay other foreign taxes? I don't know.

If I do have to pay VAT to the EU-27, how do I do it? I currently pay via the "Union VAT MOSS" system, but if the UK is no longer in the EU, that won't work. Or will it? I don't know, nor does anyone else.

If it doesn't work, I have to sign up for the  "non-Union VAT MOSS" system in some other country. I had a look at the Irish web site (they speak English there) but that started asking me for information that I don't have.

The Lords of Chaos are incompetent, incoherent and clueless.