Summer Harvests and Storage

Finally, we’re getting into the time of year when the tomato plants are so productive that we can’t eat everything they give us. The rest of the garden is no slouch either.

Tonight’s gorgeous harvest was limited to slicing tomatoes and paste tomatoes (no cherry tomatoes, no squash, no cucumbers), and even so, I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next couple of days.


Last weekend, the harvest was reasonably bountiful:


So, I spent much of the weekend doing the very meditative acts of canning, pickling, and slow roasting.


I yielded 5 pints of Tomato Sauce from chopped up tomatoes:


Plus, a tupperware full of slow-roasted tomatoes, 2 quarts of pickled green tomatoes (so delicious!), a quart of pickled squash, and two colorful quarts of tomatoes in their own juice.


At the end of the canning, the kitchen was a disaster. Imagine an entire kitchen covered with splashes of juice and seeds. Even my shoes were caught in the crossfire.


I’ve learned, though. This weekend, I’ve recruited help.

Summer Harvests

Summer’s first harvest is always some type of squash. This year, we didn’t grow the Zucchini Romanesco, which is sad, because it’s such an amazing producer (see last year’s huge fruit that kept growing and growing in our weeks of neglect):


But, we did grow some yellow summer squash that are producing like mad:


And, our first tomato harvest was a welcome addition to the kitchen:


Especially the crazy megabloom sweet horizon (it must have been 2 pounds, at least):


The next week’s harvest was almost double:


And, most importantly, we finally had enough ingredients to make the first garden Gazpacho of the summer:



Open Source Hardware

One of the main differences between GPL v 2.0 and GPL v 3.0 is the modifications made to address some folks’ concerns that to truly embrace the idea of “Free” or “Open” software, the license must also prohibit restrictions at the hardware level that would prohibit folks from modifying the software.

The natural extension of this concept is the idea that there should be a way to contractually ensure that hardware should also be “Free” or “Open” to modification by its users.

In the software world, we have the Open Source Definition or “OSD,” as a set of community-defined principles to guide the use and development of the term “Open Source Software.”

Now, in the hardware world, a consortium of folks have proposed a draft Open Source Hardware Definition that hopes to establish the same thing for the term “Open Source Hardware.”

Today’s version of the draft indicates that they are drawing from the OSD, as well prior drafts of their proposal and the TAPR Open Hardware License.

I wish them the best in their efforts to converge on an agreed set of principles and look forward to working with the term FOSS/H in the future.

Independence Day Harvest

After closing some end-of-fiscal-quarter transactions for clients, I was very excited to get some quality time in the garden.

First, I harvested all of the leeks and onions that were ready:


Then, I moved in on the row of shallots:


And finally, I took out the garlic,


which I set into a *very* messy braid a few days later (this one is about twice as neat as mine).

I tied up, pruned, and ogled my tomatoes (that just won’t seem to ripen due to the coolest summer I can recall since we moved here…):


And I checked in on the development of the 5-or-6-bloom megabloom sweet horizon tomato, which did not disappoint:


At the end of the holiday weekend, the garden looked much more civilized than it had in days prior:


And, since I accidentally knocked down some green tomatoes in the course of my work, I put them to use in that great southern tradition of fried green tomatoes (but California fusion-style, cooked in a wok, and encrusted with panko):




This first American Indepence Day that I am experiencing as a sole proprietor, small business owner — it feels very American.

We are staying home.

I am looking forward to catching up on the sleep that I missed closing transactions at the end of Q2 2010.

Also, I’m looking forward to giving our garden some love. Because right now, it’s a bit of jungle:


Especially, when compared against the garden immediately post transplants, in May:


Now that it’s finally warm, everything is growing like crazy, including the Nasturtiums:

And, the leeks and onions we didn’t get a chance to harvest in time are now flowering:


Most people would abandon the leeks and onions post flowering, but I’ve found that if you act fast, they fare reasonably well in bakes, stews, and other long-heat forgiving food preparations.

As for tomatoes, we don’t have much. Just a few cherries from the Sun Sugar that appears to have given up the ghost:


and, some promising early turning Heinz tomatoes:


As for me, I look out every day and see all of the green tomatoes and can’t wait for the heat that will make them ripe. Certainly, I may regret the drying, the canning, the stewing, and other means of preservation. But at the moment, I only know one tomato annoyance — and that is impatience for locally grown ripe tomatoes. So, of course, when the annoyance is no more, I suspect I’ll have a different complaint…. wish me well.

Summer Garden’s Promise

As I posted back in May, we dutifully did the labor to put the beginnings of the Summer Garden in place:


And, despite the cold spring and rainy early summer, the sun has caused some serious growth in our front yard:


We even have baby tomatoes:


And more baby tomatoes (but plums!):


And we’ve even got our own first Megabloom:


In short, Summer, and all of its tomato (and friends) glory, is fast approaching. I can hardly wait to share it with people!

Internet Taxation of Software-as-a-Service

Recently, several states have made attempts at expanding their taxation of out-of-state businesses who provide services or products to customers within the state. (See generally, the Tax Foundation Special Report No. 176, March 2010).

In many of the analyses I’ve read, folks have jumped straight into the state law analysis. But, unless and until federal law changes, there are constitutional limits on states’ rights to tax out of state Businesses

Federal Law

The Supreme Court of the United States has issued a long line of cases which holds that in order for a state to tax a business conducted within that state there must be a “Substantial Nexus” between the business and the state.(*1) Developments in the delivery of electronic communications over the Internet have made it easier than ever before for out-of-state businesses to deliver goods or services to customers within states where they have no substantial nexus under the traditional test.

Specifically, the Supreme Court has issued a bright line distinction between . . . sellers with retail outlets, solicitors, or property within a State . . . on one hand and those who do no more than . . . communicate with customers in the State by mail or common carrier as part of a general interstate business . . . on the other hand.(*2) The Court has consistently held that businesses belonging to the second group (e.g. those who have no agents within the state, but communicate with customers and deliver products to customers via generally available distribution channels within a state as part of a general interstate business) may not be taxed by the state where customers reside because it places an undue burden on interstate commerce.

This initial federal legal analysis is very important to complete before performing the analysis of the applicability of a state’s tax law.

State taxation of goods and services that are provided by out-of-state businesses over the Internet is an evolving area of the law. In 2007, the U.S. Congress extended the Internet Tax Moratorium until the year 2014,(*3) signaling Congress’s commitment to prohibiting multiple and discriminatory taxes on Internet usage. Recently, several states have taken aggressive stances attempting to assert the right to tax goods and services delivered to such states via Internet usage., in particular, is actively disputing several of these newly enacted tax laws. Amazon has responded to laws that claim the state has a right to assert taxes on sales to residents in the state as a result of Amazon’s affiliate program by (i) canceling the affiliate program in the applicable state; or (*4) (ii) challenging the state’s right to tax it in court (and thereby subjecting the state’s tax collections to dispute and making them difficult for the state to use).(*5)

The case law that will arise as a result of Internet-based companies disputing these state laws should provide some additional clarity. Additionally, it is important to note that it is the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Congress’s exercise of its powers under Commerce Clause of the Constitution that provides mostt of the limits on how far states may extend their power to tax out of state businesses. It is not only future case law that may modify the law in this area — in the event that the U.S. Congress were to pass new legislation with an express position on interstate commerce and state taxation of out of state business over the Internet, the law would necessarily change.

Therefore, Software-as-a-Service providers need to be diligent about staying abreast of new developments in the law in these areas to ensure that they are in compliance with the current laws of the United States as well as the various states where they have customers.

(1)Quill Corp v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992).
(2)National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Dept. of Rev. State of IL, 386 U.S. 753 (1967)
(3)Tax Foundation Special Report No. 176, March 2010
(4)(e.g. Colorado, North Carolina, and Rhode Island) Id.
(5)The New York trial court found for the State of New York, the case is currently on appeal to New York’s intermediate court, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. Id.


I received a form license agreement from the other side (a Fortune 100 company) with this most excellent Y2K provision the other day:

Supplier represents and warrants that neither performance nor functionality of the services, Products or systems is or will be affected by dates prior to, during and after the year 2000.

It’s not like I can strike it and argue that it shouldn’t apply.

But, really?

The Latest Case Against Facebook

On May 5, 2010, The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the FTC regarding Facebook’s privacy practices (or lack thereof).

The biggest two complaints, to my reading are that (1) Facebook unilaterally tried to convert some information previously designated as private to public; and (2) Facebook changed its developer data retention policy to allow developers to retain end user data indefinintely.

Neither of these changes benefits end users, no doubt. But, what I’m fascinated to see is that today, a mere 12 days after the complaint, the user experience is significantly different from the experience described in the complaint (notably, the experience is more protective of user’s data when compared against the experience described in the complaint).

The legal process is slow and cumbersome and using it to argue with a quick and nimble internet-based adversary is going to be frustrating, to say the least. However, where end users are concerned, perhaps the quick responsiveness of Facebook is a benefit. If enough people complain, they just roll out a fix, long before the Feds, or the courts order them to do so. Certainly, this means that the fix is likely to be on Facebook’s preferred terms, rather than what the court or Feds order, but isn’t a quick fix better than a long period of open sharing without a fix (when it comes to privacy)?

I’m not saying I approve of Facebook’s most recent blunders. But, I do applaud of their quick “opt-in” and “opt-out-of-all” additions after the complaint about the blunders. And, I’m fascinated to see how or where the law fits in this world where the facts upon which any legal claims may be based are so ephemeral.