Reader’s Corner No. 63: Why Health Insurers Don’t Care about Big Bills, Compromising Linux Desktops, Energy Efficient Tech, & New Online Sales Tax

The Summer Solstice has passed, which means that the heat index in Durham is rising. School may be out for summer, however, there’s no shame in sidestepping heat exhaustion in exchange for some solid learning. In this week’s lesson we will be discussing health insurance, 6502 processor opcodes, an upcoming technology for energy efficiency, and a new supreme court sales tax decision.

Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills

David Gouch

Source: NPR

Takeaway: Highlights the complexity of using legislation to steer the behavior of corporations. It’s a fundamentally different kinda of lawmaking. Individuals respond to the labels we give things. ‘Fine,’ ‘violation’ or ‘necessary expense’ carry weight, but corporations can see right past those labels to the actual numbers at the end. So if that’s the case, maybe the solution isn’t to respond to amoral behavior with moral outrage, but to reopen the laws and try again. Maybe lawmaking isn’t stone tablets all the time, maybe sometimes it’s like tending a garden.

Tags: #Healthcare, #Regulation

Compromising a Linux Desktop Using... 6502 Processor Opcodes on the NES

Jay Roberts

Source: Hacking Everything by Chris Evans

Takeaway: Every dependency in a project is a potential vector for an attack. Keeping libraries constrained to only what is necessary and ensuring that timely updates happen is critical.

Tags: #Security, #Linux

This Technology Could Fundamentally Change Our Relationship to Electricity

Michael Nicholson


Takeaway: An RTP lab+startup is working on a technology that could vastly increase the efficiency of electrical distribution and use in nearly all items by monitoring and correcting electrical loads at nanosecond intervals. This could potentially halve the amount of energy lost in electrical transmission (currently approximately 60% of the energy used to generate electricity is lost before being used as electricity), increase the longevity of parts, and increase battery life. In addition to pursuing groundbreaking technology, the company (3DFS) is pursuing a more deliberate roll out to maintain focus on pushing the technology forward, rather than letting it become a major factor in only one silo of the industry. Current tests have been run at large data centers and have shown significant promise; one of these tests was run at Freudenberg IT's small-scale test data center. In that initial test, power consumption dropped by 20 percent, server temperature dropped by 20 degrees, and the Power Quality Rating (3DFX’s metric describing 26 parameters of power) reached 90.

Tags: #Technology, #Environment, #EfficientPower

Supreme Court Lets States Force Online Retailers to Collect Sales Tax

David Minton

Source: Reuters

Takeaway: In a recent 5-4 ruling re. South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., the justices overturned the 1992 high court ruling of Quill Corporation v. North Dakota that had barred states from requiring businesses with no “physical presence”, like out-of-state online retailers, to collect sales taxes. States may now force online retailers to collect sales taxes, which will conceivably generate billions of dollars in revenue for the states. If you aren’t collecting sales tax for online sales, there are new regulations on the way that will likely affect your business.

Tags: #Google, #Search, #SEO, #StructuredData

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