Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leading technical indicators point to another doozy of a tax season

From the it-could-only-happen-to-me department:

I started on my taxes tonight. As I did last year, I will be using TurboTax in my annual Sisyphean ordeal of dealing with incomprehensibly senseless complexity paired with will-breaking fiscal obeisance to my governmental masters. It's early in the game yet, but I'm already growing weary of the sultry deduction tease that TurboTax plays with me:

"Psst! Hey! You may qualify for this deduction!'

Ok, I'll bite: go take a look for me, if you would be so kind.

"Oh no, so very sorry, but it appears that you do NOT, in fact, qualify for that deduction. I don't know any more about your financial situation now than I did just moments ago, before I broached the subject, so clearly there is no reason for me to have even asked you if you were interested in the first place, other than pure, unadulterated spite. Have a nice day. [Sucker!]"

This year, though, the baiting has taken an even more disturbing turn, lapsing into actual physical abuse. Having learned to use the available 'help' windows to get some idea as to whether it's worth getting my hopes up on any proffered deduction, I thought maybe I had gained the upper hand in this chess game of move/counter move.

Turbo Tax is not so easily bested, as it turns out. I opened one of the little help windows, read the text (which quite plainly explained to me that not only did I not even come remotely close to qualifying for the deduction in question but that I was also a greedy bastard for having even asked), and tried to move the mouse cursor to the 'Close' X. As I did, the window moved under the mouse cursor. No matter how fast I moved, how slow I moved, or where I moved, the window moved as well, and I just couldn't click on the 'X' to close it. Keyboard 'Close' commands such as Alt+F4 were too forceful and threatened to close the entire session. After a couple of hours of entering data, I was too timid to take such a drastic (one could almost call it 'nuclear') approach for fear of losing all progress made.

I am not exaggerating when I say that it took me more than 20 minutes to finally sneak up on that damnable 'X' and get the window to close. How can I be so sure that it took that long? Well, because this is what I found under the window:

"For your Security, we have logged you out. We do this automatically if you haven't used TurboTax in the last 20 minutes."

I note two things. First, while I appreciate their concern for my security, I wish they'd pay at least minimal attention to my sanity as well. Second, it's a good thing they travel in a group ('We' do this...) and have me out manned, or I'd be mighty tempted to kick some TurboTax ass right now.

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