ARBA: Augmented Reality Bay Area meetup

On Jan 24, 2017, we joint the first Augmented Reality meetup hosted at the Runway Incubator in San Francisco. This is also the first time I went to the meetup. 

So the above company basically creates a Kinect which can work with VR headset to produce body tracking.

This is an interesting device, a company named ultrahaptics creates a ultrasound matrix (where the green dot is under the palm), which give air pressure based on the computer display. In VR, this makes feeling the virtual object possible. However, a plane only gives force from one direction. To resolve this issue, a cube-shape array can be created with the blocks. This could be a good plugin for automobile control panel where ultrahaptics can provide feeling of real buttons so people don’t need to look at the panel while driving.

Wearing HoloLens in daily life really need a strong mind! All right, the presentation starts. First, Occipital demonstrates a smart mixture of AR/VR. They created a headset for Iphone. The headset also includes a depth camera. In the demo, they showed that how the depth camera can used to scan a room to create a 3D mesh model for that space. Then the texture is created from the iphone camera. After generating the 3D mesh of the space, the model is loaded into the VR set so it becomes a AR environment. In my opinion, this is an offline real world mapping trick that take advantage of the 3D reconstruction functions. As a result, the system may not ready to process real time point cloud data.

 

Next company Yowza shows a new idea to convert our real living space into digital world. In their idea, the raw mesh of the space is captured and uploaded to their cloud, then the point cloud is segmented and classified to different, completed furnature model in the dataset. Then the 3D models replace the raw mesh and ideally create a completed 3D scene for VR environment. 3D object recognition and 3D segmentation are hot topics in SIGGRAPH and CVPR. This company’s idea will be a very good feature for VR.

The last demo is a Tango based one from Clever Robot Labs. It analyzes the 3D point cloud from Tango phone to recognize the ceiling, floor, table, bed, etc in real time. Then it can replace them with VR contents dynamically. Interestingly, the algorithm can replace the real table based on the point cloud to scale the virtual table. Please see the video for the result.

After that, some new member also introduce themselves and also pop some job information. It is a very nice experience. Focusing more on technical side. And I am also glad that our CEO An Li has a good conversation with Ori Inbar. Hope that we can also join AR meetup in this year!

I485 timeline

So luckily get the message of acceptance of my I485 application just before the price increase. Hope everything can go smoothly so we can get it done before summer of 2017. On this post I will update my timeline for the I485 process. For my I140 EB1A, I use PP directly so I submit application on Nov 20, 2016 and get approved notice on Nov 30, 2016. Then I spent 1.5 weeks for I485 preparation and health check, I mailed my package on Dec. 12, 2016.

  1. 12/12/2016 Mail the package to Phoenix.
  2. 12/14/2016 In the afternoon the package is delivered to the mail box.
  3. 12/21/2016 The check is cashed.
  4. 12/22/2016 At noon I received the text message and email saying my application is accepted and transferred to NSC.
  5. 12/24/2016 Received the return of my AP application and it says that my form expired, this is a processing error from the USCIS since someone else actually uses the expired form and get accepted.
  6. 12/26/2016 Received the receipt of my EAD and I485 (official received date is Dec. 15, 2016).
  7. 12/28/2016 Mail my new package for AP application to use the new form.
  8. 01/11/2017 In the afternoon I received the text message indicates that my AP application is accepted and transferred to NSC. Now it is long time wait…
  9. 01/29/2017 USCIS mailed the finger print appointment notice. and I received it on 02/04/2017.
  10. 02/16/2017 Appointment to the finger print.
  11. 02/25/2017 USCIS notices my new EAD card is produced.
  12. 03/01/2017 USCIS indicates that my new EAD is mailed to me.
  13. 03/03/2017 Received the EAD card in mailbox. It uses the photo taken during FP process and has my finger print.
  14. 4/19/2017 Received text message about my AP mailed.
  15. 4/24/2017 Received my AP paper, two copy, the covered date is from 4/14/2017 – 4/18/2018
  16. 8/23/2017 Go to the USICS for a status check, the naming check just completed on 8/22/2017 so that do take a while. BTW, my NIW I485 has been approved, from 9/26/2016 to 9/8/2017. NIW cannot make fast so that is basically how long it takes.
  17. 10/20/2017 Submit a service request.
  18. 11/17/2017 Get reply for the service request, indicating that the file is in the queue for review.
  19. 11/20/2017 Status update as Card is being produced.
  20. 11/27/2017 Status update as Card was mailed to me.

In memory of the blue fish

Today I saw the blue fish died in the tank, I even haven’t picked up a name for it…

I feel sad due to that it has been just less than a week for it to be in our office. And I am majorly the person who take care of it. And what is important, it dies with white mold cover its body. I actually saw these white mold yesterday when it is still alive but just forgetting to spend 1 minute to google it. I saw the pattern but did not treat it seriously. Then just after one night, it is gone.

Another sad situation is, no one notice it except me. I doubt that no one will ask where the fish goes for the entire week. Let’s see… UPDATE: Yes, so people notice it, not that disappoint. 

This makes me think more about the company at the same time. How should we run a healthy business? First, we need to have a lot of experience in running a successful business. If we do not have a veteran in group who have so many experiences to see the pattern of sickness, we need to learn as much as possible, as soon as possible. Because lacking of knowledge is dangerous, which may leads to catastrophe in one night. However, the problem may be not that hard to fix in the early stage.  You just miss the chance to do the easy thing and then the damage cannot be stopped.

Pay attention to details. Yes, if we do not treat the abnormal case in a company as serious as possible, we lose the chance to fix them.

No body may notice the death of the fish, why? Because no one really take it as his/her responsibility. For me, I feed the fish, but I did not extend the responsibility to keep it alive. I did not take the consequence for its death. So I did not treat it as that serious. So In terms of company, there are two ways in my mind for this situation. One, make very clear responsibility list for everyone so in a whole picture every corner of the company has been taken care of. Another, you have to be self-motive to look after the development of the company in terms of your general duty. Self motivation needs stimuli. For me, I need to prove myself and get what I do not expect from the company to treat it as my own business. To understand what you want from your job is very critical, it is not only good for your development, it is also good for the company since in this case people have direction to motivate themselves to go, once people have the force to go within themselves, the leader understand how to guild the force, even change the force in regarding to the general benefit of the company. If the employee lacks of the force, pushing them will be useless and really won’t go anywhere.

Employee should not ignore abnormal situation of the company. It needs eyes to detect the “white mold” on the body, through study more than just technical and theoretical knowledge. In small company, I feel every employee need to train to acquire this leadership skill. In return, the boss should also take care of the employee to detect the “white mold”. Try to understand where the force of the employee is, help them build the career path and grow in a healthy way. It cost much more if we ignore a small problem we notice in the early stage.

I buried the little blue fish in front of 3150 building, under a bush. I am so sorry for you.

December 14, 2016

China Tech Day Take-away

On December 10, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center hosts the “China Tech Day” event, which invites a group of CEOs to visit Silicon Valley. There is some interesting information to take home.

I20161210_135051n the opening talk from Chun Li, CTO of Alibaba, I notice that what Ali accomplishes is to build a platform for all people who try to do business but don’t have the power to deal with the technology part. They resolved the problem like create general API for dealing with money with all different banks in China in early 2000.

With some try-out of business, they start to design and develop a general platform which can support the business in China. Majorly with multi-layer design. When they think the problem, they put the question “How does different cases run on this system?” in their mind.

They also think about how to put people to develop the platform together.

They also mentioned about the differences between SV and China.

  • Silicon Valley focuses on tech and product.
  • China is about how to get the business big, so it may involve more on how to get order and enlarge asap since it won’t be that hard to duplicate the similar product in China. The issue is who gonna be the big boss.

 


20161210_14320220161210_145635The next coming report is from Zhengrong Tang, vipabc’s CTO, but also a veteran who worked 10 years in SV and 10 years back to China. His talk is really informative on how to start business.


Then we have a panel talk on How asian engineers should plan their career path. But I feel that panel is a little out of the topic of “Asian”, it is about the difference between being engineer in SV and China.

  • There basically are two pathway as professional career: Technical and Management. Both of them can go pretty high but seems like Technical path needs a strong research passion to keep thing going, which won’t be very easy.
  • When you choose the job, actually, if you have the power to choose, then try to see the culture-fit, challenging job, fun work, and self-improvment space (such as to work under the supervision of big star).
  • Management is about how to help others from your own perspective.
  • A rating and evaluation system is also critical. Since it provides a objective way to make you see what people thinks about you on the work performance. Normally the rating is about Leadership, Leverage, Result.
  • For people who choose to go to China to start work, the time that the oversea student enjoy much high attention has gone. If people are not very special when they study/work in US, then when he/she comes back to China, it won’t be that different, and he/she also need to avoid using English for the job and work. Some technical words need to be learned in their Chinese form. For these group, they should think what they can do for the job in China with their knowledge learned in US.

20161210_160125 20161210_160536 20161210_160544 20161210_160626Then it is the technical part, AR/VR introduction given by Wanmin Wu. This is a intro level talk about AR/VR, but it is very helpful for me to sort my knowledge.

  • The non-technical challenges for VR: anti-socialism. In its current form, it actually not helping people to communication.
  • The challenging part for AR is eye tracking so the system can dynamically refocus. Interaction is need to be natural and effective. Display is difficult to be small. The content is an issue. Power drain fast. How to reduce the heat. How to increase the FOV and resolution? How to render pure black on transparent surface?

In conclusion, I feel this is a very interesting talk and give me more insight knowledge on how a people become bigger than just one.

WeGreened绿卡申请经验

现在想想很幸运和WeGreened北美联合律师所合作,把EB2NIW和EB1A联合package办下来,并最终EB1A PP在7天内通过。

选择WeGreened主要是一开始对我case的一个比较有信心的评估。我于2015年7月博士毕业并开始在加州工作以后开始联系身份申请的律师,当时的状况是如此:

  • 美国公立大学计算机博士
  • 论文19篇,其中journal 5篇,会议14篇,一作7篇,其实journal一作只有一篇,还有2篇是心理学的合作journal,那个其实只需要提交abstract,所以并没有完整的文章。
  • 引用60,主要集中于一两篇文章
  • 没有国际大奖,学校小奖或者学生competition入围奖
  • 无Patent,无媒体报道
  • 虽然读书时间review了很多文章,但是没有直接给我自己发Thankyou letter的。

这个情况大多数律师是觉得可以办EB2NIW,但是EB1A不行。联系到WeGreened,给他们发了我的CV,律所很快回复,可以办理EB2NIW和EB1A联合申请。其中EB2NIW还是失败退款项目。这个比较特别,失败退款是指如果WeGreened为你提供此项目但是最终你的申请被USCIS驳回,那么律所会全额退还律师费(给USCIS的申请费应该退不了…)。所以如果律所敢保障办理这个项目,则证明你的通过率很大。实际上,WeGreened在2014到2015年EB2NIW和EB1A的通过率都相当高,在95%以上,如果单算不敢失败退款的类别,也在80%以上。我觉得能够对办理有如此的信心,主要还是基于两点;1. 大量办理所产生的数据量和经验;2. 对于客户的严格把关。

所以于2015年9月签署了合作书,然后就开始在WeGreened转的一个网上信息平台整理搜集律师所需要的资料。

  1. 律师会给出一个10页的模板,让你总结你的3-4个两点,推荐信撰写人的list以及相关背景。模板都是以问题的方式给出,所以你可以写的很有条理。这个文稿很关键,因为律师肯定不是你研究方向的专家,所以你的petition letter,recommendation letters里的内容都将基于这个模板来,甚至就是原文搬过去。所以这个需要自己花些脑经。但是,感觉比让自己照着别人的Petition letter再重新打稿要容易多了。
  2. 之后根据对应亮点和相应的推荐人,律所会撰写推荐信。然后各位就求各位大神签字吧。对于EB1A类型,至少得有一名推荐人是来自美国之外。还有啊,这个推荐人不要一位追求同领域内大牛,因为签证官有时会跟你来比较,说你同领域有这么牛的,你就low了,反而弄巧成拙。

同时他们会完成你的Petition letter,以及需要的item list。你就一方面准备这些items一方面求推荐信。律所10天会根据你的模板准备好Petition letter 文稿,如我所说,因为不是你领域的专家,他们写出的文章在论述你领域的时候难免会有你看上去不对的地方,请耐心修订。经过多轮修改后,同时准备好材料就可以打包邮寄给律所了。

等到正式提交EB1A申请时,我的状态是:

  • 美国公立大学计算机博士
  • 论文20篇,其中journal 5篇,会议14篇,一作7篇,其实journal一作只有一篇,还有2篇是心理学的合作journal,那个其实只需要提交abstract,所以并没有完整的文章。
  • 引用160,主要集中于一两篇文章
  • 没有国际大奖,学校小奖或者学生competition入围奖
  • 无Patent,无媒体报道
  • 16 篇 journal conference review thank you letters。

2016年感恩节完成PP NSC的申请,于11月30收到通过的电子通知。

写在8年之期

来美8年了,今天终于给自己的博士生涯在生命的历程中画上了一个句号。EB1A申请在7天内通过,就在2016年11月30号,一个身在Nebraska的签证官,审阅了我这八年来上帝保守下行的道路,给出了Approve的答案。

打开浏览器的时候只是不经意的看到昨天查过的网页又弹出来,于是又在输入栏里面填上了L,选了历史记录里面的收据号码,回车,然后显示了Approve的信息,我还不敢相信,拿出收据原件好好比较又比较。感觉好像不会是自己吧,不会这么走运吧。

是的,这就是我,一个脚踏实地但是却总觉得自己不够格的人。读博士没想着最后还能去SIGGRAPH,没想过可以认识那么多牛人,没想过会和工业光魔的老大say hello,没想到可以完成那感觉总也写不完了毕业论文(没动笔真是觉得Mission Impossible),没想到会跟同学出来自己创业,没想到过去八年所做的会如此加速我拿到绿卡的过程。

这就是上帝的美意,在我最困难的时候,是我的心中的责任和柔软以及我在Binghamton教会家庭的话语让我能够在失落的时候可以归向神,让我明白神不应许我们妄求的因为必将准备更好的在我们的前方,而一切挫折其实都是为了祂在我们生命中的安排。

我也明白,否认上帝的也可以活的很精彩,甚至更自由,我也不比那些更加虔诚的基督徒,但是我心里一直想的就是:在2013年复活节,我做出了这个选择,我就继续在主的道路下走。我会不听话,我会怀疑,但是我不会放弃。就像我2008年8月3号踏上飞往纽约州的航班,想想真是时光匆匆,所有的怨恨,快乐,悲伤,到现在真的又在乎多少呢?一个人的心态确实是会完全改变人的行为处事甚至生命的轨迹。我要更加积极,同时也要保守自己的谨慎和认真,继续走主给我安排的道路。

话说今天早上接人还拿了一张Ticket,所以上帝的工真是猜不透啊。。。

圣诞节能看到梁静茹和老友,今年我真的很满足。

湾区爬山信息一

这里开个贴聊聊旧金山湾区的民俗活动之一,爬山(hiking)。直入主题,今天要说的是两个去过但是风格完全不同的地方,一个是位于中半岛Fremont的Mission Peak,一个是位于金门大桥以北的Muir Woods National Park.

  • Muir Woods National Park

地址:1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941

阳光指数:★

难度:★★★

经典度:★★★★★

费用:10

Muir 属于北加景点,但是确实是值得一游的地方,建园100多年,里面很多古树遮日,白天步行其中仿佛回到史前时代。此地也是星球大战的场景之一(视频见上)。入园的底层都是木板铺就的行人道,然后多条不同的Trails依次从两边延伸出去。比较推荐的是Skyline 步道和Dipsea步道,都是顺着石阶环山而上,最后柳暗花明鸟瞰太平洋。Dipsea步道单程大概时间2小时,Skyline应该会短一点。

去这个Trail就抓住一点:早!停车位实在有限所以感觉9点之后到就比较难找到车位。而且如果到得比公园管理员早,应该是不会被收门票的。

  • Mission Peak Trail

20160417_155645 20160417_170543

地址: Stanford Ave, Fremont, CA 94539

阳光指数:★★★★★

难度:★★★★

经典度:★★★★

费用:Free

想认认真真做运动那就来Mission Peak吧!周末停车位是不好找,8点以后估计就得停到旁边的豪宅区了。山上由于是牧场,经常会有奶牛过马路,当然也要小心牛粪。山路弯弯曲曲上去,可以回眺整个湾区的景色,最后是一段岩石路,小心登顶以后就可以排队等待在顶峰的标志上合影了(如上图)。上山时间差不多2小时。

由于地处Fremont,所以爬完山吃吃喝喝的地方都是很方便,沸点啦,韶山冲啦,还有Union City刚开的涛味海鲜自助。。。(额,感觉有点反爬山宗旨)

爬山准备

我一般都是头一天蒸一些番薯,鸡蛋放包里,然后带两瓶水,出门记得带防晒或先涂好,带帽子,穿运动鞋。初爬最好带登山杖,这个东西Costco有卖,运动品商店也有。

那基本就说到这里吧,看大家有问题再一一回复,也欢迎各位指正错误哈。

Canon Mixed Reality Project MReal 体验

今天在斯坦福体验了摄影大厂佳能自己捣鼓出的一款增强现实设备MReal。这是一款配有三个摄像头的有线连接头盔和对应的解码设备。配合佳能为其量身打造的Markers, 该产品可以实现空间内三维物体的实体渲染。不同于目前各大厂商的AR设备,佳能的这一款采用了Video see-through的设计。也就是说,用户眼前看到的影像实际是经过两个在眼睛处的摄像头采集的。头顶部还有一个简单的摄像头,头部平视时该摄像头朝下,用来跟踪地板上的maker map。

MReal HMD set.

设备的帧率在30 fps, 视角在110°左右。作为一个面向工业设计界的AR头盔(感觉Mixed Reality就是对Augmented Reality这个晦涩的词汇的大众叫法),感觉HMD本身只是三个摄像头的支架,视频信息被汇总到一个解码器一样的设备然后再传输给一台主机process,看起来略显笨重。但是不同于其他VR Hack成的MR设备,MReal在眼前的图像会真是还原实际的景深,所以裸眼看见物体的大小和通过此设备看到的大小别无二致,这一点还是不错的。

相关处理设备

此台设备由于配备了Marker 的地板,所以不需要额外的摄像机来跟踪头盔在空间的位置,用户也是通过一个贴满Marker的操纵杆来和MR环境交互,基本上全部是利用图像跟踪的技术。值得注意的是,为了提供更自然地交互,系统提供了颜色选取功能,用来让用户自定义一个颜色范围,比方说手,然后就可以将手的部分从二维图像中挖出来。据透露,通过两个摄像头捕捉图像的视差,三维空间可以重建,于是手和虚拟渲染出的物体就可以交互。

大家其实都忍不住想用手呢~
大家其实都忍不住想用手呢~

关于这个产品的应用,主要是针对工业设计。因为传统工业设计中直接制造毛培模型话费平均百万美元,到最后定稿阶段必须要手工制造出实体才能商讨。通过这样一个设备,许多设计可以按实际大小显示在增强现实空间里。而且由于头盔佩戴者可以被跟踪,相隔千里的人也可以针对同一个产品建模进行交流,用手中的tracker指向模型,另一边的用户会看到一个虚拟渲染出的手指向模型的位置,然后可以走过去观察。这样一个在虚拟环境中的展示可以很大程度上缩小开模的次数,从而减少设计成本。而且由于是在三维空间等大小显示,设计师可以更直观的获得产品外观方便设计。而作为Video See-through设备,可以很好地避免光学成像的半透明效果,渲染出的物体拥有实体店颜色,更适合工业设计用途。此外,在进行专业人员训练时,不需要实际的机器,人员就可以在这种虚拟环境下迅速尝试多台设备,对于培养诸如同一厂商整条流水线的汽车维修人员也是很有帮助的。

在教育方面,这也可以应用于医疗教学,可以更方便的展示相应信息。但是基于本设备的成本大约在10万左右,我相信还是工业界使用的可能性更大。

佳能的这款MReal设备推出大约有三年,并不面向普通消费者,提供SDK但是并不开源。但是确实作为一个Video See-through的设备,解决了光学成像的半透明问题,还是值得学习借鉴的。

IMG_20160413_170532 IMG_20160413_164129

产品在工业界的流水线所起到的作用。
产品在工业界的流水线所起到的作用。

关于第一年毕业留学生报税相关经验总结。

终于浑浑噩噩地在Taxact上弄完了一个联邦,两个州的报税信息。边弄边学也是醉了。今年前半年在学校还有拿工资,后半年工作。身份嘛还是F1,虽然有到OPT的转换,但是依然可以享受5000的treaty。但是2016年如果十月份转换了H1B理论上应该就不能用了,因为Treaty是给从国内直接过来的学生或者研究人员,如果一直OPT的话应该可以继续使用。但是,这个treaty也只是适用于联邦税,纽约州也接受这个treaty,但是加州是不承认此Treaty的,所以加州报税如果是软件填写,直接从联邦税里面拷贝过来的数值要加回5000,否则是有错误的。

  1. 如果可以早点购买报税软件就早一点,不过一般报税软件优惠都是到最后你吐血地填完表以后才出价格,由于诸多原因也许价格和你想的有出入,有些人忍忍也就交钱了,免得又填一份。给我的感觉是,如果你可以用报税软件,那么Taxact可能会比Turbotax便宜一点。一般所谓的软件优惠都是对于第一次新用户,所以老用户如果直接填上次的邮箱可能不会成功。所以其实每年打折扣的机会不一定多。今年依旧在Taxact上报,每份是24块钱。
  2. 对于中国人,反正我这种博士在学校待了超过五年后就可以用Resident Alien身份报税了,用软件还是稍微爽一点点。具体是我2008年8月来美,之后一直是以non-resident alien身份报税到2013年。包括2013年以后的年份我就用resident alien身份报了。
  3. 从Taxact来说,对于正常的收入,填W2然后一路选下去就可以了。但是如果你从学校出来的时候很有可能会有1042s。这个在Turbo和Taxact里面都是没有对应表格可以填写的。而1042s上如果你发现没有tax rate,那么它一般就是用来报你tax treaty的一部分收入,换句话说,学校1042s 上的收入 + 学校W2 上的收入= 你从学校来的总收入,如果1042s上记录未扣税的收入已经到达了5000,那么就相当于学校已经应用Tax treaty把你的头5000收入税给免了,如果没有1042s,那么就代表学校可能还是扣了你的工资的税,你可以从联邦或者纽约州政府要回来,但是加州就别想了。

这时你可能会问,如果1042s报的没有收税,我是不是就可以当没发生过不report,反正政府也没从里面扣。根据官方文件p519的第47页最右列开头,如果学校给你的报的方式是以taxable income,即便rate是0,好像还是要report。这个最好先和学校确认。

我的方法是,

a. 学校的1042s,W2,上班以后的W2都算在一起作为收入,报在总收入。

b. 然后应用Treaty在适当的地方减去 5000。

c. 在联邦税表里附上8833说明中美Tax treaty。

d. 如果你需要报的州承认中美treaty,那么啥都不用做,软件会在联邦里面计算的基础上给你得到享受treaty以后的结果。

e. 对于不承认treaty的州,请在合适位置加回5000,完成填表。

对于以上情况,除了联邦我打算额外附上8833表格,其他两州我真心不想自己寄了,所以还是用上E-file。情况是这样,报税软件每年的E-file表格都会有所不同,Taxact不会customize给你在某个E-file里放上其他的特殊的表格。但是,它给你那些表去填。至少在我这种情况下,如果想申报8833,那么在最后生成的E-file联邦文件里是不会附带8833表格的。想了一想还是稳妥点自己打印邮寄吧。州税放8833表也不合适,但是也懒得查放什么了,尤其是加州反正也没承认那5000,所以也就不想为了说明缘由搞得州税也不能E-file。

我们现在来说说上面的abcd几条。a 关于如何添加1042s的收入,TurboTax好像有人官方论坛问过,所以google一下就可以找到,我问Taxact的回答是,他们不提供1042s这个表格来report,所以说请把收入report在他们W2的表格里,通过新建另一个W2来完成。具体回复如下:

Form 1042-S is used to report amounts paid to foreign persons (including persons presumed to be foreign) that are subject to tax withholding, even if no amount is deducted and withheld from the payment because of a treaty or code exception to taxation or if any amount withheld was repaid to the payee. It is also used to report amounts withheld under Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

You can enter this data in the program although Form 1042-S is not available in TaxAct.

In your situation you may need to report this amount as wages on Line 7 of the Form 1040.

To enter or review information from your Form(s) W-2 Wage and Tax Statement in the TaxAct program:

  1. From within your TaxAct return (Online or Desktop) click on the Federal tab. On smaller devices, click the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner, then select Federal.
  2. Click Wages and Salaries to expand the category and then click Wage income reported on Form W-2.
  3. Click Add to create a new copy of the form or click Review to review a form already created.
  4. Click Quick Entry or Step-by-Step Guidance to enter or review.
    1. If you select Quick Entry be sure to scroll down to answer all applicable questions.
    2. If you select Step-by-Step Guidance, the program will proceed with the interview questions.

后来一想,反正最后要邮寄,寄的时候附上1042s应该就可以了。这个方法主要是让系统可以把1042s的收入加到总收入,也就是1040的第7行。至于这个W2的内容,除了单位信息和收入值,其他我都留空为0。

b.这个请去Taxact 的Federal页面,other income条目下有一个“Prize和其他”的选项。可以在里面的other income里写-5000,并标注Exempt income China-US tax treaty。这个值最后会出现在1040的第21行。于是你就顺利完成了5000 tax treaty的使用。

官方的说法是在第21行把treaty的额度写在一个括号里,然后22行减除括号里面填的那个值。这个方法如果是手填可以做,软件的话肯定需要看符号计算所以还是写-5000。

c. 同时,请在Taxact侧边栏Form里面查找8833,然后按照网上标准模板根据自己的情况稍作修改填好下载下来。

d. 不需赘言。

e. 对于加州,mitbbs反馈已经说明加州好像不承认这个treaty。所以需要在加州tax的版面,选择adjustment,然后里面有一个页面有addition,和subtraction放在一起,请在addition里写5000,这样就配平回来了。

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

最后,在Taxact里面选择E-file的时候请选择最后一个选项,网页版好像有bug,最后一个不会写成e file states 而是写成  e file <你多个州中的一个>。 我就写的 e file California state。我一开始还以为纽约州不能 e file,不过最后还是发现它把两个州都走了一遍。

接下来就是处理联邦税的表格了,因为e file不能添加8833表格,所以即便我是resident alien可以 e file我还是得打印表格。这个选print file,然后选择Federal然后一路走到底就可以了。他会给出instruction告诉你怎么放置各个表格,以及签字。还是走原来邮寄准备表格的老方法啦。注意,就是如果打印出来的联合表格里面没有完整的8833表,那么请到TaxAct右上角,My Return下面的Print Center里面选择8833打印就好。

当然,正如我所说,每年这个tax软件都会有调整,所谓的折扣可能也是往往给新用户,所以以后真的收入复杂了还是考虑找CPA吧。

希望对大家有帮助!

 

 

How to buy a new car in US?

“To buy a car from a dealer, just one sentence you need to keep in mind: Know exactly what you want. If you are not sure, do your research before saying yes.”

Made my decision to get a new vehicle as a present for my 30. The whole process took about 3-4 weeks from no clue to drive the car home. Now I will try to talk about some of my experiences on this. In a word, to buy the car at the right price, is all about information and knowledge. If you don’t spend time to know about all the deals you can have, you give the extra money to the dealer. The steps below are what I encountered, you can treated as a reference. I do need to thank you my buddy Tao Shui for sharing car type and brand suggestions so I really saved a lot of time to choose between different cars and directly went to step 2.

SEARCH YOUR CAR

1. First, make your mind about the budget, and better know what kind of car you want. You don’t need to know the specific packages of the car, even you know, it may not be available at the local dealers. If you have multiple choice from different budget categories, no worry, keep them in the notes. At this stage, you should at least know that if you want front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD).

So what do you need to know to choose between FWD and AWD? To me AWD gives you better performance in bad weather area like where there is a lot of snow or the road is like the one in the mountain. Its drawbacks is more gasoline consumption, and the insurance may be more expensive comparing to the FWD since it needs more gears to control the 4 wheels. I have driven FWD sedan in the north New York state for 5 years, it is not that bad. I mean, if the snow is all over the place, you probably won’t go out.

Another factor is the time to buy, normally the end of the year is a good time since the dealer may want to achieve a good year sell-out number. They may be more friendly and less care about ripping you off. And do not buy a car when it just releases. Wait for 3 months.

And highly recommend to get a super nice credit card which comes with crazy rewards for the user to use it to make a thousand dollar purchase, such as chase Sapphire, which gives like 625 bucks if you spend several thousand dollars. This could be a super handy card later. Get one if you really have a chance.

2. Go to truecar.com  or edumus.com. These two website should be enough. Type in your car inside, It may ask your ideal configuration information and what kind package you want (I will tell more about the package later). Added simple configuration you really want and leave other or the one you don’t know, or just try not adding anything so just get the base model. Finally you will have a price chart. In truecar.com it will be something like below:

pic1

At the bottom left you can see the Factory Invoice price. OK, 90% of that before tax and license fees, should be what you try to achieve in the final price. Or you see the exceptional price? that is what you should try to get. Btw, below this chart you may also see the price change during the time after its first release.

3. Do the same quote at edumus.com and it will give you the dealers near your preferred locations in certain mile radius (set the mile readius as 200). Now try to contact with them about the car you want. Read this articles if you can understand Chinese to get a basic idea about how to contact dealers and let them bit the price. The idea is to send email to these dealers and ask for the car you want to check if they have them and how much they can offer, if they can match the price you find in the truecar.com good price categories (don’t try exception categories, they won’t say yes normally through email). Different from that article, dealer now may not will to give you a super good deal though email or phone. They will want you to come to their place and have true discussion on the vehicle.

4. In may case, email bit does not work well. But anyway, you need to pickup a dealer where you can test drive your car. Go to yelp to check the score of the dealership and you can just pick up your communication though email to make an appointment to test drive the vehicle.

5. The first time you go to a dealership, test drive your car along with a salesman and have a discussion with him about the car you want. If they have the type, rim, and package you hope to have. The dealerships normally share a database to locate the cars all over the states, if the car is close by, the dealer can exchange the car for you, so you don’t need to buy from the other dealer. This helps since if you lock down a price at dealership A, but unfortunately they don’t have the color of the car in stock or on the way, if you find the one in the other dealer close, dealership A can get that car for you. In this case, you can maintain the lock down price at dealer A without doing the possible negotiation again at the other dealership.

However, although the database is a good resource, the salesman may not try to find your car either intentionally or just really don’t have the cars. Their conclusion about “You may not get the type you want at now.” may not be true. They may just mistype the keywords or other things so the filter shows nothing about what you want. That is fine.

And even the same car comes with different packages, which are like extra features such as the moon roof, navigation system… I feel if you want a new car, you should try some cool stuff it try to provide. Basically, choose the premium package (middle class package) if you want to drive the car for your next 10 years.

So follow the salesman for the little difference configuration than what you expected. let him go over the whole procedure to get the price. Ask him what is the lowest he can over for it. What is the APR if you try to finance. FOCUS ON THE WHOLE PRICE FIRST! DO NOT TELL YOU HAVE SPECIAL DISCOUNT SUCH AS NEW GRADUATED STUDENT, MILITARY DISCOUNT, OR YOU WANT TO TRADE IN YOUR CAR!!!!! The reason is simple: Information. The dealer can extract profit from you if you provide more choice to them. Once they know you have certain brand discount, they may not willing to make the price too low. Once they know you want to trade in, they may lower the price for your new car, but give you a really bad price for your trade in. So they get the money back in the trade in procedure. Just don’t let them to have too much to work around at the beginning.

So keep to work on the price, dealer may get the retail worksheet, which is base on your current price of car get tax, plate, license, financial interest… everything inside. You also need to know your down payment. It is what you try to pay out-of-pocket at the beginning. If your loan has APR, you pay more at the beginning, you have less left to be used to calculate the interests, so you get less interests to pay. If you are not good at investment, work a number that is affordable so you don’t need to pay too much interests during the normal 60 month loan period.

OK, now you have the retail sheet done. You can do the same thing for the other type of the car, ask the salesman to print out the retail worksheet for you (You can ask them to do that). And keep them. Also ask them to print out the detailed configuration of the car they provide at the moment. And you can go home now.

RESEACH & CALCULATING

If now you still can get what you want at the beginning nearby, Congratulations! If not, Is up to you if you want to change your mind. But before that, as I said, these dealer may make mistakes and do not find your car, you can personally try on line some dealer nearby by yourself to see if they have stock of your type. I actually personally found the color I want at a near by dealer and ask tells dealer A about it, he then search again based on the information I provided he found it. Just let you know that it is possible. Now with the specific package and car type you have, go to true car again and get all the information there ( you can choose “I want to build my own” when choosing the package, it should give you the perfect match choice with the cars information you get from the dealers. N. ow what you see is the price for the car you want exactly. As I said, the exceptional price, or the factory invoice price – 2000 should be what you try to achieve before tax.

Feel you are ready? Try the steps below for one or several dealers if you have time. Make appointment with the dealer and work with the salesman you meet last time on the car again. But this time you try to lock down the price. Find the car, and ask what they can offer. Tell them what you want. Never let them make a price and you say yes! Always let you say a price lower and they say OK. Or else they definitely get more profit from you. If it is reach a point like “Sorry that is the lowest we can give”, normally at this moment, the price should be already lower than the factory invoice. If it is still higher than the factory invoice, then you should walk away and try other dealer. This one is too greedy for you. However, if it is already in the good price categories and with the discount you haven’t revealed yet, it can get into the exceptional price categories. It is up to you to tell them: “Sir/Mam, if you can lower the price for another 300 bucks I will agree.”  This is a magic number that normally works (I have tried, 100% works). After you make the deal, reveal your possible discount to them. And you can also ask if they can get a full season floor mat for you (100 bucks!). You know, just ask for some good stuff other than price drop. But you need to know what you don’t have in the car package or you just feel the others do you a favor actually not.

At the moment, they may say your discount only works for last years model blah blah. Calm down. The brand discount or cashback is from the brand not the dealership. So it is good for you and won’t harm them at all. If you feel you are legal to enjoy the incentives but the dealer says you are not, walk away and choose another one. If you feel doubt about whether the discount can apply to you. That is OK. Go back home and directly call the brand financial service, ask whether the deals works for you or not. You can even record the talk as evidence or ask the financial service send you email confirmation. Know what you are doing is important.

Now you should get what you want for the raw car price. It is time to look for the maintenance package. Depends on what you feel about a new vehicle. Normally it comes with complementary maintenance for  free at the first 1-2 years at any its dealership. However, dealer may also try to sale you with prepaid maintenance package. If you want to get the maintenance package. You should quote several different dealerships for that. The question is:

a. How much it is for the prepaid maintenance package (need you give the year/mileage number. Normally the year is 5 year, the mileage can vary a lot. Depends on how many miles you drive, you can choose the package).

b. Does the price include tax already?

c. Does it a global maintenance which means any the brand dealership should be able to do it? Or it is just your dealership only (the dealership specific ones may be cheaper, but may not have the benefits like you have from the brand).

As I said before, if you get the price too low on the car, the financial service guy may lure you to purchase the maintenance package or other protections to get back to the battle. Don’t listen to them on any other bullshit. The maintenance package is even not necessary if you are a DIY person. The first time I hear the maintenance package and the finance man tells me the original price is 4000 for the car if you pay once by once. That is just buff. If you do your work you will know it is not that price. Psychologically, it try to get their profit when you are so happy about get the car price down. It is a trap. Calm down and compare the price, if you want the prepaid maintenance package.

Next is the insurance. I just want to say my experience. I have to compare different insurance company. The website quote may just be as lure as usual. You may get a low price but when you try to pay, it will go to the DMV database to get more information and the price can increase. Finally I choose AAA. My old friend chooses it also. Although the contents of it is simple, may not be that fancy to cover a lot different types, but the price is the best I can compare with. And what is more, try to call them and make quote! I get several hundred less than the price on line. This situation only happens with AAA. And AAA insurance need to purchase with AAA membership, it is a good membership since you get discount at car rent and other stuff. And it may cover tow for certain mileage (5, 100, 200) and open the car if you lose key.

GET YOUR CAR

You need three things to pick up your car: insurance card, down payment check, and proof of residency. The last one is your rental lease or electric/gas bill.

So finally you made the decision about the car and get your cashier check for the down payment. Also remember to ask if the dealer accept credit card, normally they are happy to accept no more than 5000 payment from credit card. That is what I said about credit card. Now you sign the document, the financial service will handle the sign and normally the protection, maintenance package comes at this moment. If you don’t have time to do your own homework on these packages and the dealer you work with seems nice, ask them if you can change the down payment to add more before get the car. If you need to get the car right now, then you have to make your decision about the service you need to pay. You can ask some time to consider in the lobby and ask some friend. But if this is the case while you haven’t done any homework on this, I suggest that just say no. You will find a way to do them later.

Check the car. I think the major thing is the outside, if there is obvious problem. Check the car made date, better no more than 3 month from the date you pick it up. Also remember to check the mileage on it (normally a new car should be considered lower than 100 miles on it). Check the vin number, to see if it is the same as your document. You can also go over all the equipment in the car list you print out but I don’t feel it is necessary since the vin number is correct. In normal case, you should expect the electric guy explain how to use all the functions of the vehicles to you and answer all the questions. And you will get a full tank of gas paid by the dealer. This is not favor, at least at my dealership. If they don’t give that, ask them politely for it.

OK, I think that is all I have now to say. I hope I can have a good relationship with this SUV for the next 10 years in my life. For my old car, It will also help me, I should also spend some money on her for maintenance.