Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to eliminate duplicate Outlook tasks when you have both gmail IMAP and Exchange accounts

Gmail IMAP in Microsoft Outlook 2007 is great, except for the fact that starred or flagged emails are duplicated two or three times in the task list and to-do list. If you only use gmail the solution is to add a filter criteria such as "In Folder" is (exactly) "All Mail" but this hides any flagged Exchange emails and Outlook tasks.

The solution is to create a custom SQL filter with the compund logic that can't be achieved using the "Advanced" filter dialog. The logic that works for me is "Email Account is empty OR (Email Account contains "gmail" AND In Folder is (exactly) "All Mail"). Here's how you do it:

  1. Right click on the a blank part of the task list or to-do list and click Filter.
  2. Click the SQL tab and check "Edit these criteria directly..."
  3. Open an new text file with Notepad
  4. Copy the contents of the SQL criteria box and paste into Notepad. Save this file as "original_task_filter.txt" so you can restore the default filter by pasting it back if this custom filter doesn't work well for you.
  5. Overwrite the existing criteria completely with the text below:
    ("{00062003-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}/810f0040" IS NULL AND "" IS NULL AND ("{00062008-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}/8580001f" IS NULL OR ("{00062008-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}/8580001f" LIKE '%gmail%' AND "" = 'All Mail')))
  6. Click OK.
  7. Repeat these steps for any other task lists or to-do lists that show duplicate gmail tasks. You should only have to back the original criteria up once.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Confessions of a bad blogger

An old post of mine was linked by Tyler Cowen yesterday, which I consider an honor. I regret that what is being briefly showcased is a dormant, stale blog.

I thought I could blog but it turns out that I am only motivated to post when I have something original to say about something I consider important, and that doesn't happen very often. When I try to post on personal matters or current events the results are usually embarrassing and I lose interest. I considered taking the blog down.

The link from Marginal Revolution makes me glad I didn't. I guess this blog won't ever be timely. Thanks for reading anyway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mortgage interest deduction in the news again

I wrote previously but imperfectly on the mortgage interest deduction here. I'll restate my arguments in favor of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) below, hopefully omitting the stupid parts this time.

Instapundit links to this article in The Hill:

Although Congress last year rejected the White House’s proposed cut to the amount wealthier taxpayers can deduct for home mortgage interest payments, the administration included it again in its 2010 budget — saying it could save $208 billion over the next decade.

"Save" $208 billion. Isn't that clever. Not "raise." Not "increase tax receipts by." Save whom?

I find the framing of the eliminationist argument to be dishonest. Continuing to not tax what has never been taxed "costs" the government billions. Eliminate deductions for a few forms of personal interest and what remains deductible becomes a "subsidy."

Michael Kinsley says he was against the mortgage interest deduction before he was for it:

How can you recognize a tax subsidy? You look to its ostensible purpose. There are deductions and credits in the tax code that are intended to make taxes fairer, and then there are deductions and credits that are intended to promote some other public purpose. The second category are tax subsidies. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

But Kinsley can tell. (It's a subsidy.) And yet, when Grandpa Kinsley was filling out his 1913 Form 1040, there was line 2 of General Deductions, "All interest paid within the year on personal indebtedness of taxpayer." The ostensible purpose here is likely to prevent the double taxation of interest. The fact that the MID now takes on a special apparent social purpose is a function of its having survived the 1986 destruction of this reasonable principle where auto loans and credit cards did not.

Regarding imputed rent, I don't think I can do better than I wrote last time:

The benefit that homeowners receive is called imputed rent. This is the rent they would have paid to rent their own place if they didn't own it, or would have received if they rented it to someone else. Rental income is taxable to a landlord, but this imputed income is not taxable to a homeowner. Unfair? Landlords can also deduct maintenance, depreciation, salaries, etc. Homeowners cannot. If the imputed rent should be taxable, then the expense—both real and imputed—of maintaining the home should be deductible. A more equitable basis for taxing homeowners would be a tax on imputed rental profit. In nearly every case this will be much less than the MID. There could even be an imputed loss. It's a difficult value to estimate, and might easily be gamed.

Finally, I still find absurd the argument that the MID is regressive because 50% of the mortgaged don't itemize. The ordinary components of the itemized deduction are mortgage interest, property, state and local taxes, and margin interest. The standard deduction is a somewhat generous minimum estimate of these same components, is it not? Generous because about half of mortgage holders find it exceeds their own interst and tax expenses. Generous because it is offered even to those with no mortgage interest and property tax expenses, like renters. Why should renters get this special deduction for expenses they don't even have? Why is the tax code subsidizing renters?

I kid. But seriously, those who write in favor of eliminating the MID usually end with some phrase like "never gonna happen." Hopefully they're at least right about that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In vino spucatum tauri

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Hodgson told me that when he started playing with the data he "noticed that the probability that a wine which won a gold medal in one competition would win nothing in others was high." The medals seemed to be spread around at random, with each wine having about a 9% chance of winning a gold medal in any given competition.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Felix dies natalis

What do Don Adams, Robert Bork, Jon Corzine, David Dinkins, and Leon Spinks all have in common?

That's right, they're all former U.S. Marines. Happy 234th and thanks to all Marines past and present.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bernie goes all in

Bernard-Henri Lévy, in The Huffington Post:

I hardly know Roman Polanski. But I know that all those who, from close and from afar, join in this lynching will soon wake up, horrified by what they have done, ashamed.

Sounds like something I wrote, only exactly the opposite. I'm ashamed to share the same rhetorical style as this loathsome sac de douche.