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About Gentleman.Jack.Darby

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  1. Bad Cookies

    Yes, I hear you on that! Of course, there's a way to handle that sort of crap as well but, depending on the browser, it requires a little more love and on-going attention than is required for an ad-blocker, but once it's set up and one has some practice with it, it becomes second-nature. For Firefox users, NoScript is the gold-standard - it tames Flash and JavaScript, which are the roots of all evil for wasting bandwidth, making websites load slowly, and which also present significant security risks. For Chrome, unfortunately there is version of NoScript available, but there are two good alternatives - uMatrix (MicroMatrix) and ScriptSafe. For Internet Explorer, which one shouldn't be using anyway if one cares about speed and security, I'm not aware of anything like NoScript, but I haven't paid significant attention to or used it in years. I understand there is some ability to do something similar within IE, but I have no first-hand experience with it. If one REALLY wants a fast and secure web browsing experience, check out Google Chromebooks. One of the many great things about them, at least for this discussion, is that they DO NO use either Flash or Javascript so, obviously, script blockers and Flash blockers aren't required.
  2. Bad Cookies

    An ad-blocker won't really help with anything other than blocking ads - most people install them because some sites go way overboard with the ads, using multiple SLOW ad networks in addition to their own banner ads, which results in frustration from slow page loading. Other sites, such as this one, don't run many ads so the effect of an ad-blocker on this site will be minimal - I don't run it on this site and my suggestion is that others also allow ads for this site as well. To turn off ad blocking for a single domain (website) in AdBlock, simply click on the AdBlock Plus icon in the upper right corner of the browser Below the "ABP" stop sign symbol, you'll see a green checkmark and "Enabled on this Site" To tun AdBlock Plus off, simply click in the area with the green checkmark - that will turn off AdBlock Plus (allow ads) for every page on a particular domain (website). Ad-blockers also won't do anything for cookie-related problems - that requires changing browser configuration options or performing a procedure in the browser, depending on the browser and how much leeway one wishes to allow a particular site in setting cookies. I've also seen wild swings in prices on Amazon.com for no apparent reason within short periods of time - It's my opinion that a lot of shopping sites have developed bi-polar disorder when it comes to pricing, so I've actually started to move away from Amazon.com for this and multiple other reasons. Airlines are a business in which I'd expect to see prices rise as time goes by (seats get filled) since, even if there are open seats very near the flight date, there will almost always be someone who will need a seat, usually up until the doors to the aircraft are closed.
  3. Bad Cookies

    It depends on the browser that you are using. Hopefully you are using either Firefox or Chrome - my preference is for Chrome, since it's the fastest and most secure browser out there RIGHT NOW, especially when running on a Chromebook. I'd recommend AdBlock Plus because that ad blocker will allow you to turn it off for domains (websites) that you like and wish to support. In Chrome, the adblocker that you install is referred to as an "extension" In Firefox, the addblocker is referred to as an "add-on" In Chrome, go to the Chrome webstore at this URL: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions In the search box on the left side of the screen, enter "AdBlock Plus" or the name of your preferred ad blocking extension and when you see it, simply click "+Add to Chrome" and it will be installed. Once installation is finished, restart Chrome to activate the extension and make sure all is good! In Firefox, go to the Mozilla Foundation site at this URL: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/ In the search box on the right of the page, enter "AdBlock Plus" or the name of your preferred ad blocking add-on and when you see it, simply click "+Add to Firefox" and it will be installed. Once installation is finished, restart Firefox to activate the add-on and make sure all is good! If you're using Internet Explorer, I'm afraid I can't be of help there since I avoid it like the plague but I would humbly suggest that you change to either Firefox or Chrome. You'll notice that either of those are significantly faster than IE, especially with an ad blocker installed.
  4. CITIBANK, Foreign & Phil accounts

    Appreciate the additional information. I mentioned the PDIC limit simply because I thought many people, especially Americans, likely sleep better knowing that their deposits are insured. I should have also pointed out a couple of other things about which some folks may be concerned regarding Citi Philippines somewhat higher minimum balance (TRB) to avoid the monthly maintenance fee - USD 20,000 might be out of reach for some folks and even for those who have it and are willing to essentially park that amount of money, they may have well founded concerns about what might happen if they needed to leave the PI, quickly or otherwise. It would not surprise me to find out that there might be rules on the book, enforced or not, that might delay one's ability to transfer FROM the PI, especially in times of a national or banking "emergency", even using Global Transfers; the Citibank websites I've reviewed in detail (U.S., Philippines, and Thailand) make no mention of THAT aspect of Global Transfers, but I suppose there's something buried somewhere in the fine print.
  5. Windows 10 OneDrive

    OneDrive is just Cloud storage, along the lines of Google Drive or Amazon Drive. I've used OneDrive since it first started and was called by another name which I've long forgotten and never had a problem - Microsoft has renamed it several times that I'm aware of. OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive is Cloud storage only - there is no mechanism available that would allow one to stream content, such as a movie, to a device as one can do with music stored in one's Amazon Music Library. Amazon does make it possible, through Amazon Web Services, for one to stream one's content stored in Amazon Drive but that is several steps above simply storing data there and something one must build (and pay for). As for privacy concerns, I wouldn't recommend storing any files there which are sensitive, such as bank statements or tax returns unless they're encrypted using good encryption, such as PGP or Minilock. All of the Cloud services encrypt whatever files one puts there when they are "at rest", ie; not in transit, so ones' privacy is more protected by keeping one's files there than it would be by keeping one's files on one's own computer in one's house. When one's files are "in transit", ie; being transferred to or from the Cloud, privacy is protected by an SSL connection between the Cloud and one's browser (computer). I would also expect that relatively few of a Cloud services employees would be able to "decrypt" any particular files stored on the service and it probably takes more than one employee to do so. As for copyright issues, so long as one is not publicly sharing any content to which one does not own the intellectual property rights (movies, music, books, computer code, etc.) there is no problem storing it on Cloud services.
  6. CITIBANK, Foreign & Phil accounts

    I'm an American with a Citibank U.S. account, so I'm most familiar with that "flavor" - I did check the Citibank Australia site briefly. Yes, with Citibank Global Transfers, one can transfer from an account in Australia to a Citibank Philippines account via the Citibank website for free. The only thing that one should consider with a Citibank Philippines account is that the "Total Relationship Balance" (total of all balance across all Citi Philippines accounts) to avoid the monthly fee of PHP 500 (USD 10) is PHP 1,000,000 (USD 20,000). The PHP 500 is not material when compared to the cost of a wire transfer or the poor exchange rates give by money transfer services, but PHP 1,000,000 is above the amount covered by the PDIC (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation). Probably not much of an issue considering that it's Citibank.
  7. RESIDENCE for US Tax Returns

    Well, my personal viewpoint is that when it comes to taxes, the alternatives are "better" and "poor". It's better because, in the final analysis regarding Obamacare "shared responsibility payments", by Congress limiting the IRS ability to actively collect them using liens and levies as they can do with income taxes, Congress gave individuals a method to not pay them by not having a federal income tax refund. It may not be perfect but, as is always the case with taxes, it's "better" than what could have happened and, in my book, isn't "poor", so it's a win for the little guys. There are some people who deliberately have their employers withhold too much federal income tax from their pay because they like to get a large income tax refund after filing their annual income tax return to, for example, make a large purchase, in essence making an interest-free loan to the U.S. government because they are unable or unwilling to save on their own. I understand why people do it but, in the end, whether it boils down to an unwillingness to periodically review their taxes to ensure that their withholding approximates their tax liability or the lack of discipline to save on their own, it's still poor tax planning. And governments and businesses routinely take advantage of those who make poor decisions. And if the rumoured "overhaul" of Obamacare actually happens, I hope that those implementing the overhaul ensures that those with unpaid "shared responsibility payments" prior to the effective date of the overhaul are totally relieved of them.
  8. RESIDENCE for US Tax Returns

    earthdome, I'm not picking on you and I'm not trying to split hairs, but under "ObamaCare" which is also known as the Affordable Care Act, there is no "penalty" if one does not have a U.S. health insurance policy and one fails to make the laughably PC named "shared responsibility payment" that some folks refer to as the "health care tax" or "penalty". The IRS is specifically barred from using liens or levies, their usual fearsome and powerful tools for collecting taxes that are legally enforceable, to collect unpaid "shared responsibility payments". However, the IRS CAN withhold any tax refunds and, presumably, any refundable credits, such as the Earned Income Credit, to which a taxpayer may be entitled to satisfy any unpaid "shared responsibility payments". See the following FAQ, Item 29, on the IRS website that states, in pertinent part, "...The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any individual shared responsibility payment. However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund that may be due to you." at the following URL: https://www.irs.gov/...ility-provision As well, if a person meets the rather stringent requirements to qualify as a bond-fide resident of a foreign country for, essentially, an entire tax year, as laid out in IRS Publication 54, he is also exempt from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
  9. RESIDENCE for US Tax Returns

    I'd be a little hesitant to make the blanket statement that there are tax savings simply from living outside the U.S. While the U.S. does grant a foreign earned income exclusion for income earned outside the U.S., there are tests that must be met in order to do so: 1. One's tax home must be in a foreign country and; 2. One must meet EITHER the bona fide residence test OR the physical presence test, neither of which is necessarily a slam-dunk; 3. There are also tests for the type of income - some income that one might try to classify as earned income won't meet the IRS test for earned income. And, assuming one's income qualifies as foreign earned income and is granted the exclusion, the reason for the exclusion from U.S. tax is because, presumably, the income is taxed by the foreign country in which one earned it and of which one is a tax resident. It is surprising how much higher effective (the rates one actually pay after adjustments, exclusions, credits, etc.) tax rates are in foreign countries when compared to the U.S. - there are a lot of stories, editorials, etc. that are written about how "high" U.S. rates are but the writers generally have only a rudimentary understanding of the U.S. tax code and none about foreign tax codes. Same goes for "a guy in the bar", "my uncles who's filed his returns for 40 years", "the guy that works next to me in the shop", etc. And, if one's tax home is in a foreign country, it is possible that other income, such as a U.S. pension which, in places offering retirement "visas", such as Thailand, Malaysia, the PI, etc., is normally exempt from taxation, might become taxable. A while back I was considering Indonesia since it offers a retirement visa and, as part of my due diligence, I took a look at the tax treaty between it and the U.S. since it appeared that taxation of foreign income, such as pension and interest income, was somewhat "cloudy" in the sources one runs across when looking at their retirement visa scheme. I was a bit surprised and that, coupled with one or two other undesirable requirements of their scheme, made me put Indonesia on the back burner.
  10. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    I've been looking into that recently and there are a couple of things to keep in mind about residency outside the U.S. and brokerages such as Fidelity: One thing that gets overlooked, especially when folks are thinking about Fidelity and Charles Schwab as "banks" is that they aren't banks in the conventional sense as are, for example, Citibank or Bank of America - they are really brokerages and their so called "bank" accounts are really cash management accounts designed to park one's excess cash until executing a brokerage transaction or moving it into a retirement vehicle such as an IRA. in everyday practice, they work just like conventional bank accounts but better because the fees are low or non-existent and they reimburse "foreign" (other bank) ATM surcharges, but at the end of the day, it's part of a brokerage account. Because of strict financial regulations regarding brokerages, non-residents including U.S. citizens who are resident outside the U.S., are restricted in their ability to execute brokerage transaction such as buying individual shares of stock, mutual funds, etc. It's my opinion that one should maintain a U.S. legal domicile and some sort of a U.S. physical presence, such as a mailing address with a trusted friend or family member or mail forwarding service and ensure that it is updated with one's brokerage.
  11. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    The first login screen will be the same one that you've always seen. Once you enter your userID and password (the first step of two-factor authentication) then, assuming they're correct, you'll be sent to another screen where you'll enter the Symantec VIP Access OTP (the second step of two-factor authentication). Most financial institutions will log you out after a certain period of inactivity and if that happens, you'll need to log in again with a new OTP. Financial institutions don't set cookies that allow one to stay logged in and come back later to where one left off. The inactivity periods are pretty generous for the sites I use, so that's rarely a problem. FYI - Once you've installed Symantec VIP Access on your phone and linked it to your Fidelity account, if you're not familiar with these sorts of devices, I would suggest bringing it up on your phone and watch it for a minute or two to see how it works. These OTP generators work by generating a new OTP every so often, maybe every 30 seconds or one minute or so and once a new OTP is showing on the screen, the old OTP will no longer work. They do not generate OTPs nearly as fast as the tokens given out by banks to their business customers but every now and then if I try "beat the clock" instead of waiting a few seconds for a new OTP, I'll find that I am too late and the old OTP expired. Not a big deal, but when I was new to using these devices, there was a momentary panic thinking something was wrong.
  12. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    Symantec VIP Access is a Symantec app, not a Fidelity app and is used solely to generate random OTPs (One-Time PINS) used in two-factor authentication for access to one's Fidelity (or other) account. Symantec is a computer software security company most widely known to most people as the maker of the Norton suite of security tools which includes Norton Antivirus, although they also make a lot of security tools aimed at larger corporations. OTP generators such as Symantec VIP Access are simply one part of a two-factor authentication scheme. TFA simply means that for one to access, for example, a website, one must have two things: something one KNOWS, such as a userID and password and something one HAS, such as an OTP generated from a device in one's possession (Symantec VIP Access, Google Authenticator, Bank of America SafePass, etc.). The beauty of TFA is that even if a bad guy gets one's userID and password, he can't log into one's account without one's physical device to generate the OTP. And, conversely, if the bad guy gets one's physical device, he can certainly generate an OTP, but that OTP is worthless without one's userID and password. Authentication apps of this type from third-party providers, such as Google Authenticator for example, can be used to generate the OTP for more than one website or other application from different companies. For example, the Google Authenticator app generates the OTP for both the Google ecosystem (GMail, Google Voice, Google Drive, etc) AND for LastPass (Password management system) - two totally separate companies and totally different applications. GA is probably used to generate OTP for other companies' applications, but those are the two for which I use it. As well, I would expect that Symantec VIP Access is probably used by some other companies to generate OTPs for their sites or applications as well, although I'm not aware of which or use it for anything other than my Fidelity account. OTP generators such as Symantec VIP Access don't use (or need) an internet connection (wi-fi or cellular) to function and generate the OTP - they simply run as a process (program) on the device in which they are installed, so Fidelity would have no idea where one is located simply by virtue of using the app installed on one's phone to generate an OTP. So if one is somewhat paranoid (and there's nothing wrong with that these days), one would use a desktop browser (using a VPN to ensure that Fidelity's system "sees" one as being in the U.S.) to enter one's userID and password and Symantec VIP Access on one's phone (in airplane mode to ensure that wi-fi and cellular connections are disabled) to generate the OTP.
  13. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    Fidelity offers Symantec VIP Access, which is an app that runs on a smartphone and generates a 6-digit code that is used when one logs into one's Fidelity Brokerage or Cash Management ("bank") account. Fidelity's doesn't do a very good job of promoting it or explaining it on their website or by any other method, for that matter - I stumbled it across while lost on their site and I knew what it was when I saw it because I use Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator routinely. Because it runs as an app on a smartphone, one does not need an SMS OTP (text message one-time PIN) and it will work anywhere in the world and does not require cellular data or wi-fi. Once the app is installed on one's phone, one simply calls Fidelity customer support and they "link" it to one's account. And, if one loses one's phone, all one need do is call Fidelity customer support and they can either "turn off" VIP access or link one's new phone and VIP app to one's account.
  14. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    Some things to think about if one decides to take one's home phone roaming with the intention of getting verification SMS on it: When I first started looking into the problem, using roaming was my first thought; however, sending SMS internationally isn't rock-solid because of the differences among different countries' cellular systems. The other major drawback is that if something happens to one's phone while abroad, such as the phone failing, getting lost, stolen, etc. it would be a catastrophe for an expat - maybe not such a big deal for someone just visiting. That being said, T-Mobile, because it has a worldwide presence, is probably the best carrier for roaming abroad. My specific plan offers unlimited international data and text while roaming and calls are USD 0.20 / minute. - There is fine print regarding the data, however. For folks who have Verizon, I came across something last week that might be of interest to them: Verizon Messenger. I didn't look into it in great detail because I'm sticking with T-Mobile and having a second Verizon line is just too expensive but as I understand it, with Verizon Messenger, any SMS sent to a Verizon cell number are also sent to a Verizon server that syncs the SMS with any devices one has registered to access the Verizon Messenger website. So, as I understand it, one could "see" the SMS from a web browser logged in to the Messenger site. I did not actually test it, but I did question a couple of CSRs at my local Verizon store and they were certain that is how Meesenger works. It sounds as if, so long as one pays the bill each month, the phone could be turned off sitting in a drawer and one would still get all SMS at the Messenger website.
  15. Cell phone now needed for Social Security AND Bank login

    I would suggest keeping the phone plugged in to AC so that one doesn't impose too much on one's family's or trusted friend's goodwill in having to "mind" the phone. I'd also consider removing the battery, if possible, since batteries tend to fail if they're not discharged and recharged routinely. Although by leaving the battery in, one would have redundancy in the event of a power outage.