IVU Loto: A novel approach to tax collection enforcement

May 28, 2011 Leave a comment

If you purchase something in Puerto Rico you might find something peculiar in your receipt. Printed in the receipt on many merchants you might find something like:

IVU LOTO: XBSA1-GOSH1    DRAW: May-30-2011

This means that you are automatically participating in a raffle without probably knowing it! You see, ever since Puerto Rico implemented a sales tax, many merchants have not been fully honest sending the tax revenue to the Puerto Rico Treasury- but they still charge and pocket the 7% sales or IVU tax for themselves. Estimates vary but it is believed that the tax evasion is around 60% (likely more). So in order to ensure that the merchants are paying their dues to the state a new law has come into effect which turns citizens into IRS agents. Here is how:

-          All merchants must register to participate on the IVU Loto Program.

-          Merchants who qualify for the program are outfitted with devices on their cash register machines. For most merchants it is fairly straightforward if they have credit card terminals. The terminals have been reprogrammed to issue out IVU Loto codes when they print out their receipt.

-          Merchants must use these devices/terminals to report the sales taxes collected upon a purchase transaction and yes, even cash transactions. The devices record the transaction amounts and report it to the Treasury Department in real time.

-          Merchant must hand over a receipt, failure to do will result in a fine on the merchant. A lottery number will be printed on the receipt.

-          Every other day the Treasury Department will pick some of the IVU Loto codes at random and give away prices.

-          If a merchant refuses to give a consumer a receipt the consumer can report them to the Treasury Department.

This is quite novel approach to tax collection enforcement, but it has stirred up some controversy. Already local religious groups are claiming that this is forcing gambling upon the people. As you can imagine, merchants aren’t too happy either. Some merchants are claiming that coming “clean” will force them out of business or raise prices. Consumers aren’t too sure on to know if they have a winning ticket/receipt. Who knows what is next?  Las Vegas style slots on soda vending machines?

Here are a few helpful links:

-          Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury – IVU Loto Page

-          IVUSpots.com – A website for consumers to record and organize their IVU Loto receipts from a PC or Smartphone. If you have a winning number you get an email alert.

Categories: Technology

Photos from the Ironman 70.3 held at San Juan, Puerto Rico are up!

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I posted the photos I took of the Ironman held at San Juan, Puerto Rico

Ironman 70.3 San Juan, Puerto Rico

Categories: Uncategorized

So long Windows Live Spaces…

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

      The day Windows Live Spaces launched, I managed to secure the nifty jose.spaces.live.com address. 30 million spaces and I had the one with my first name reserved. Sadly, that was the only reason which made me hold on to my Live Spaces for the few posts I do. Over the years, the site saw features being taken away instead of added so it was no surprise that recently MS decided to pull the plug. I moved my site to WordPress, so if you are subscribed to my blog make sure to change the RSS feed. My blog is now hosted at http://jmoliver.wordpress.com

Kitesurfers on the beach

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Digital Photography

Windows Live Photo Gallery Wave 4–Geotagging wackiness

July 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Not long after posting on my initial thoughts on Windows Live Photo Gallery Wave 4 geotagging feature I was contacted by another blogger in the Netherlands who did a bit more digging into how the geotagging feature works. I was surprised to learn that WLPG w4 does indeed write GPS lat/long coordinates to the file as well as city, state/province, and country info under certain circumstances. However, I am disappointed some wacky logic is involved which result in inaccurate lat/long coordinates to be written to the file as well as the lack of a map feature which would allow for more precise geocoding.

I can only assume that a map feature was not included in the beta due to some scheduling reason but it will make it into the final release.
Yeah, that’s the reason…. I hope Confused smile

Check out this excellent post on how Geotagging works in Wave 4- Geoff Coupe: Geotagging in Windows Live Photo Gallery – Wave 4

Categories: Uncategorized

First thoughts on Windows Live Photo Gallery Wave 4 Beta

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a great application for organizing photos. While I also use other photo organizing applications such as Google’s Picasa,  WLPG always acts as the centerpiece of my photo organizing workflow. I have been playing around with the recently released Windows Live Photo Gallery Wave 4 Beta and have found it very stable as well as including some of the much-asked-for features. In this post I will focus on two much requested features – Face Recognition and Geotagging.

Face Detection/Recognition – In 2008, WLPG Wave 3 introduced People Tags and face detection. This feature allowed users to specifically tag people in photos. In Wave 3 faces were simply highlighted, but the recognition part was left to the user. The Wave 3 functionality has proven quite tedious if you have a lot of photos but has many advantages. For example, with the Facebook plugin, photos tagged with people where match to Facebook accounts. Picasa and iPhoto 09 had already introduced facial recognition and it was no surprise that Wave 4 greatly improves this feature with Facial Recognition as well. The arduous task of recognizing faces is significantly simplified. Still, compared with Picasa I find the feature slow and lacking a simple way to review the faces of a person after they have been tagged. Picasa does provide a way in which you can review all the faces of the tagged pictures, which proves handy because errors can be made during the process of tagging photos. Also, something which I like about Picasa is that you can adjust the “sensitivity” of the facial recognition, something which WLPG still lacks. Still, WLPG has something which the other applications lack which is that the people tags are saved to the file using standard xmp tags. This “truth is in the file” concept is quite important if you want to make sure that the effort you put into organizing and adding information to your photo files persist if they are moved to another computer. From days of testing this feature I have found to it to be reliable, but still Picasa’s face recognition excels over WLPG. I hope that the face recognition engine improves over time with future releases.  

Geotagging – I am a big fan of geotagging photos. I carry a GPS around and using the excellent geotagging tool, Geosetter, append the geographical information to my photos. Not to be undone by Picasa and iPhoto, WLPG Wave 4 supports geotagged photos by adding the location information as a separate tag. If a photo already contains GPS coordinates it automatically adds the place information such as City and State. Even better, if the photo already contains IPTC Location information (Sublocation, City, State/Province, Country), WLPG will use that information instead. However, I was disappointed of not finding a way to view or edit the photo locations on a map as in Picasa. Also, to my surprise, the geotagged information is not written back to the file. What happened to the “truth in the file”? I would have expected that this information would be saved back to the IPTC location fields.

WLPG is shaping to be a great update to a great product. I recommend that you try out the beta. Still, I hope some last minute enhancements are done to have a product at par with Picasa in terms of the features described above.

Update: I discovered that WLPG Geotagging seems a bit half-backed in WLPG. Check out this follow up post.

Categories: Uncategorized

Garmin Y2K+10 Date Problem and Solution

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I had not used my old Garmin Geko 201 GPS for a while. The last couple of times I had used it, the device would not sometimes shut-down unable to get a GPS fix and the tracklog files would report an incorrect date (Year 1990 or 2029). I feared the device was near death, given that I had it for 6 years and has survived some beatings. The problem is caused by a software bug in which the device does not work correctly on 2010. The issue is solved updating the firmware to the latest version using Garmin’s Web Updater tool. Apparently the issue is not affecting that single GPS model, so if your GPS is experiencing strange behavior do check the firmware is up to date.

Reference Threads:
http://www.gpspassion.com/FORUMSEN/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=132684
http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?t=236508
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.satellite.gps.garmin/browse_thread/thread/8cad726c6b947ddb

Categories: Uncategorized
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