Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2010 April 5

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April 5[edit]

Converting formula into Javascript... help.[edit]

I have a formula I'm trying to use in After Effects, an animation program. It uses JavaScript as its language called "expressions". I know a little about JavaScript, but even less about formulas. Is this trig? calculus??

So I'm trying to convert this: f(t)=a_0+\sum_{k=1}^n(a_k\cos(k\omega t)+b_k\sin(k\omega t)) (The parameters \omega, a_k, b_k\;\! can be computed from data.)

...into something Javascripty like this that plots X/Y points onto a window (called this.Comp in AE speak)

veloc = 40; //horizontal velocity (pixels per second)

amp = 12; //sine wave amplitude (pixels)

freq = 2.4; //oscillations per second

x = time*veloc;

y = amp*time*Math.sin(freq*time*2*Math.PI) + thisComp.height/2;

[x,y]

--70.167.58.6 (talk) 00:32, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure what your question is. That kind of formula is a truncated Fourier series. 66.127.52.47 (talk) 01:04, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
The summation will probably be best implemented as a for loop, for k=1 to n. Do you know how to set this loop up, or do you want some help with that? Depending on whether your language handles vector syntax, you might need to loop over t as well, computing a value for every time sample, by summing over k.
Nimur (talk) 03:37, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
That looks great. But is seems After Effects Expressions are JavaScript *based*, not plain JS. I get this error, "Class 'global' has no property or method named 'T_MAX'". --70.167.58.6 (talk) 21:56, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
My code wasn't intended to be totally complete, only to demonstrate the formation of the loop to calculate the sum. T_MAX is intended to be a constant which defines the length of the vectors. This is the integer number of data-points you want to compute for f(t). The error message is telling you that T_MAX hasn't been defined; it is not a "default" (global) variable, and you have not defined it yourself. Nimur (talk) 17:09, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Windows XP activation[edit]

I have recently acquired a couple of used laptops (for free) and I thought I could clean them up a bit and perhaps give one to a relative in need of a working laptop. Both came with Windows XP Professional (presumably preinstalled since both have a XP professional Certificate of Authenticity attached to their undersides) but neither have any installation/restore disks. They also have Microsoft Office and various pre-installed software, again without any disks. I found I can easily download the manuals and some of the pre-installed software from the manufacturers' websites, but I would really like to keep the operating systems and the Office installations since they are expensive things to replace if I keep them as Windows machines - my relative would be very confused by Linux, is one reason for keeping XP and MS Office.

As part of the clean up, I have been removing the accumulated junk of partially installed/uninstalled programs, the foistware that comes with things like printers, scanners and cameras, old documents from the previous owners, and so on. In doing this I have noticed some problems with the operating systems. One such problem prevents me from doing any user management tasks, another prevents me from doing searches in Windows Explorer. I thought a repair installation was possibly the best bet so dug out an XP Professional OEM installation disk (which actually belongs to a third PC and that installation is in daily use), reasoning that it wasn't a complete reinstall but just a repair of a few broken files. After a surprisingly long time it claimed the repair was complete. However, when I now go to log in it says Windows needs to be activated, giving me a phone number and a long "Installation ID". If I understand it correctly, even though I have not changed any of the hardware, the reason I'm being asked to activate is because I used the OEM installation disk rather than the original installation disk (which I don't have). I took up the opportunity to ensure the "Installation ID" was based on the correct Product Key, entering the Product Key from the Certificate of Authenticity attached to the underside of the laptop, and the activation wizard generated a new and different "Installation ID".

So, after that rather long explanation, the question is: will activating XP Professional on the repaired laptop, using this new "Installation ID", suddenly make the XP Professional installation on the above mentioned third PC no longer properly licensed (and consequently cut it off from future updates and/or introduce annoying nag screens and/or eventually stop it working altogether - remember it is is daily use)? I really don't want to break a working and properly licensed PC that is in daily use, in an attempt to fix a used PC I got for free. Many thanks. Astronaut (talk) 01:36, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Go ahead and activate. It doesn't matter what disc you use, because all of them are identical. As long as each computer has a sticker you would be fine. (Think about it: if Microsoft had to produce an unique disc for each Windows they sell, how much trouble would it cause them?)F (talk) 05:50, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
If you can find the Office disc, you should do a format+reinstall. Use Keyfinder to extract the key first. F (talk) 10:58, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
A format & reinstall would be my preferred method, but not having any installation disks is a problem. While I can download the the pre-installed software and drivers from the manufacturers' websites (or simply choose not to reinstall something of dubious usefulness, and accept default drivers if necessary), the lack of MS Office disks is still a problem. To fix this would it be possible to use another computer's Microsoft Office OEM installation disk, with the product key I can extract using the Keyfinder software? ie. In the same way all Windows XP disks are the same, are all Office 2003 disks are the same? Astronaut (talk) 20:43, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Building a new box[edit]

I'm currently planning out my next computer it's primarily for use with photoshop - large >30MP images with many layers etc. - running 64x winddows 7 with the possibility of occasional gaming. I'm thinking if I wanted to cut down on cost is it better to go with:

A) Far Cheaper DDR3-1333 with a more expencive CPU (e.g., the i7-960 (I haven't chosen yet, definitely an i7 though. advice appreciated)), or
B) Go with DDR3-1600 and cut costs on the CPU instead e.g., getting only the ~i7-920 or ~860 (they have similar prices but the 9 series is better on paper?)

Which option gives better performance?

A second question about CPUs, how much difference does the three memory channels of the 9 series make compared to only two in the 8 series? (If I get a cpu with 3 channels I need a motherboard with 3 channels aswell? think thats right, just want to make sure)

A third question, if, for example, you had 8 GB of RAM divided between 3 channels, a single stick of 2GB in the second and third channels but 2 * 2GB sticks in the first channel, would the first channel bottleneck? i.e., would all 4GB RAM in that channel be used to it's full potential? I think this might be a stupid question, i assume it depends on the speed of the cpu and of the ram but I'm hoping for a "general case" answer.

I haven't built a box from scratch before so more questions will probably follow ;) Thanks in advance, Benjamint 02:52, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I've been very pleased with the performance of my i920 - especially with how it falls on the price-performance curve. I really recommend the i9xx series; if I recall, the i8xx do not use QuickPath Interconnect, which will degrade your performance to memory and peripherals. This may counteract any gain you would have gotten from higher performance RAM.
Also, I think your question on the memory channels also depends on the presence or absence of QPI; I've got 3 2GB sticks, and things run pretty smoothly. I believe QPI allows for asymmetric memory channels (different amounts of RAM in each channel) - it provides a more generalized bus arbitration between each core and each memory channel, and so it handles more corner-cases than DMI over a front-side bus; but I can't find this exact use-case, loading 8GB as you specified, to be certain it's a valid (let alone high-performance) option. Off hand, is there any reason 6 GB isn't enough? Will photoshopping 300 6-megapixel images at a time be better than only 250 simultaneously? Sorry, per your information: "65 30-megapixel images simultaneously in memory, instead of 50". If you're doing parallel programming, 3 memory channels makes a huge performance boost - because each core can essentially hog an entire memory channel when it needs a bulk transfer. During normal use, you might not have enough parallelism to take advantage of this 50% memory bandwidth boost: keep in mind that a single core can only use a single channel at a time - so unless you're routing the memory transfer to a different process, you can't take advantage of the performance. Nimur (talk) 03:48, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Ok, RAM first: so photoshop can only access the RAM in one channel anyway (I never realised that, it explains a lot though), i.e., 2GB in your case ... Thats changed my outlook. My laptop already has 2GB per channel and I'd like to at least double the performance I'm currently getting in PS. Loading 4GB into all 3 channels would be very wastefull though, most of it in the other two channels would never be used.
Second, CPU implications: well I don't think I'd be utilising all 3 memory channels, photoshop would hog all of one easily but apart from that I generally don't have anything else open thats particularly resource hungry. But would you still say it's worth getting an i9xx for the QuickPath Interconnect? Sounds like in my case the third channel would just be wasting RAM. Better to have only two channels?
n number of photos is a bit meaningless, they're 16bit images for a start and, for example, just a few days ago I was stitching a 32MP panorama of 3 photos, because of the overlap between the individual images it's not really 32, it's closer to 63MP that the computer needs to handle during the stitching process which is pretty resource hungry. Thats before even getting started on editing the image. As soon as I stamp the visible pixels of 3 images to one new layer thats already increased the file by another 38MP. But thats not important :) Benjamint 09:44, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I also just rechecked RAM prices and there isn't that much of a hike from 1333 to 1600 anyway... Benjamint 09:46, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Multi-channeling does not work like that. It's completely transparent to the application; it's the memory controller that splits the data between channels to get a higher throughput (think of it as RAID0 for RAM). To say "a single core can only use a single channel at a time" is completely false as dual channeling has existed long before the advent of multicore CPU's. --antilivedT | C | G 10:57, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
And the implications of that for me are that Photoshop *would* in fact be able to utilise more RAM that what was in one channel? Benjamint 12:39, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
You can use multiple channels in a single procses. And you can definitely use more than 2GB of memory. But you can't use two channels simultaneously from one core to boost bandwidth to memory. Nimur (talk) 12:42, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Here is a joint IBM/Intel report, Optimizing performance..., which discusses the effect of unbalanced memory channels on a Nehalem QPI system. There are benchmarks, too. Adding extra RAM, but creating an unbalanced memory channel actually created worse performance than not having the RAM in the first place. So: less RAM = better total system performance. Counterintuitive, but backed up by experimental benchmarks. See the QPI overview for details). Nimur (talk) 12:54, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Clarification, since Antilived has got me second-guessing my QPI / memory channel statements above. A single core CAN use multiple memory channels to improve bandwidth from main RAM up to the L3 cache, but no further. Beyond that, your memory-bandwidth is irrelevant, and all that matters is bandwidth to the L3 cache, which will depend on which cores are accessing which memory. Here's a simplified diagram from Ars Technica illustrating this, and here's the Nehalem schematic diagram from our article. Nimur (talk) 15:18, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
No asymmetric RAM. Done.
The diagram and article went a bit over my head unfortunately. So firstly, in my case where I'm just running PS and nothing else except an OS and maybe firefox at the same time, is there any benifit for me in having 3 memory channels?
Secondly, just for peace of mind, can somebody who has PS installed go to Edit>Preferences>Performance and tell me what the figure is that PS gives for "Available RAM" compared to the total amount of RAM and the amount of RAM in each memory channel? I ask because I have 4GB in my current box and PS only recognises 1665MB.... This has always struck me as odd and I've never understood why it is, I definitely want to avoid any similar occurance in the new computer. Benjamint 22:57, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm presuming you're already running Windows x64 of some kind right? If Photoshop isn't large address aware, then you'll be limited to 2GB in the x32 version. CS4 comes with an x64 version so you'll need to upgrade to that if you have an older version. If you're going to get 6GB you'll want to anyway regardless of whether it's large address aware. Nil Einne (talk) 05:04, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
That explains it. I thought the limit per application in x32 was 4GB. Thanks. Benjamint 09:34, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
For further clarification a x32 application can use 4GB if it's large address aware and on an x64 operating system. (If it isn't it'll be limited to 2GB.) If it's large address aware and on a x32 operating system, it may be able to access more then 2GB if you change some system settings but this will limit the amount the kernel has access to and is generally not recommended unless you really need it because it can create problems. Note that on a x32 OS you will generally not even have access to the entire 4GB because some of the address space is used to reference other things like GPU RAM. (Look in taskmgr to see this.) Also this only refers to Windows and workstation/consumer versions at that, server versions may have Physical Address Extension although I'm not that familiar how that interacts with the application (I presume large address aware applications will have access to 4GB but I'm only guessing). Nil Einne (talk) 16:25, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Ok, so large address aware applications on a x64 OS are able to access up to 8GB, is this regardless of what channels that RAM is in? i.e., in multiple channels Benjamint 03:59, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Sorry x32 large address aware applications can only use 4GB on a x64 OS. A x64 application (which aren't called large address aware AFAIK) should be able to use up to the limit of the x64 OS, probably much more (maybe up to 64 bit/2?) in any case not a limit you have to worry about. The channels may make a difference to the performance with some CPUs, but is basically transparent to the application (i.e. the application only sees the amount of total RAM you have regardless of whether it's single channel, dual channel or triple channel) Nil Einne (talk) 12:40, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

KDE sftp[edit]

KDE makes it very easy to set up remote file systems with sftp, just use something like sftp://username@somehost.com as the file directory. However, it appears that KDE will always make 2 or 3 attempts to use passwordless login when doing this. Is there a way to tell KDE to always use a password with an sftp attempt? -- kainaw 03:56, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Few things come to mind; you could set up a saved SSH key, per these instructions. (I don't like this idea). Second, you could use KWallet, (I don't really like this idea either - I'm not a fan of password saving). Finally, I think there's a way to set Nautilus to "remember the password forever", "forget the password after this login session", or "forget the password immediately" when you set the sftp session up. Is this popup box showing up? (Maybe this is actually a Gnome GUI, given that it's part of Gnome...). Nimur (talk) 04:00, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Nautilus is Gnome. KDE uses KIO. I do have passwordless SSH login. However, when I check my logs on the remote server, I see 2-3 passwordless attempts to login before using the public key. I don't understand why it does this. The only annoyance is that if I try to open a bunch of things on the remote server quickly, I get a flood of failed passwordless login attempts and the remote server assumes that I am a security risk and refuses to respond for two minutes. -- kainaw 04:06, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I see - are you actually typing in the sftp:// URI each time? I had been under the impression that you were saving this as a remote file system mount (this is how I do it in Nautilus - no password-less login attempts). Can you elaborate on what you're doing to mount the remote directory? Nimur (talk) 04:12, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Also, would an acceptable workaround be to substitute the sftp connection by using KIO's fish implementation or sshfs? These should never attempt to login without a password. All that is required is that the SFTP server is running sshd. Or, if you're in Konqueror, you can put the password in plaintext in the URI [1], sftp://username:password@name_of_server/directory/; I'm sure you're fully aware of the associated issues with that. Nimur (talk) 04:21, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I have never used fish. I haven't looked into it, but I notice that it is mentioned a lot. Perhaps I will read up on it some more. As for what I'm doing - I have bookmarked a few sftp URIs and I select them from the bookmark - so I am sort of typing it out every time. -- kainaw 04:27, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
From what I gather, fish is just a front-end to ssh that appears to the end-user as a file protocol. SSHFS is the same, except that it uses a virtual file system, typically in user space, so that other programs appear to access the files as if they were local; but preserving user-level authentication and file protection. Nimur (talk) 05:17, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see this (Konqueror 4.3.2/KDE 4.3.2). If I enter sftp://localhost:22/home/fin directly into KDE's address bar, the login window appears (I have no passwords stored or prior sessions hanging around) and there is no traffic reported on /var/log/auth.log. When I enter the correct password only then does it try to login, and it immediately tries the password (successfully). It immediately opens a second session (again successfully); I guess that (like ftp) it likes to use one socket for directory ops and another for transfers. I haven't set up stored passwords, but I can confirm that for password-given logins it behaves as one might expect, and not in the daft way you're experiencing. Perhaps your problem is the password-storer thing; that it has stored even unsuccessful passwords, and is trying them in order - if that's the case, a thorough cleansing of the password manager (which I think is called KWallet) may help. You may be able to diagnose this problem by visiting the server you're interested in by another name (e.g. by IP rather than a DNS name), which should circumvent the previous store that KWallet has made. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 10:39, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Print screen[edit]

On a Windows XP, how do you utilize the print screen key if it is attached to the SysRq key? Will it work while a full-screen computer game is up? And could one use that screenshot in an article? 2D Backfire Master ¿Por que,señor? 13:57, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

You would have to abide by the various copyright laws if you uploaded the screenshot of a game to wikipedia. It might fall under fair use if you're using it in the games article and the image is fairly small and low res —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.44.54.207 (talk) 14:04, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Of course it would be relevant to the game. But that didn't answer my question of how to take the picture. And where are these copyright laws? 2D Backfire Master ¿Por que,señor? 14:08, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
As far as I know, although "SysRq" is still written on the button, it doesn't function that way any more. It's just a Print Screen button, AFAIK. So, hit the button, go to an application like MS Paint, do an Edit + Paste, and see what you get. Movies often just give you a black box, and that may be the same for the game. I don't know about copyright policy with screen grabs. StuRat (talk) 14:11, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
There are some things that PrintScrn is not good at getting (e.g. graphics rendered directly by the video card with DirectX Video Acceleration), and it might be the case also that some applications can re-assign what PrintScrn does. Many games, though, have their own screenshot system built into them, which might be even more reliable. There is also software one can run that will guarantee your ability to make screenshots. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:16, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Software screenshots is our page on using game screenshots in Wikipedia articles. It is a stub and has a "historical" tag on it, for some reason; but has links to some useful pages. See the Half-Life 2 article for an example of a featured article that uses game screenshots (2, to be exact), under the fair use policies. Comet Tuttle (talk) 16:25, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
In the original design, the Print Screen/SysRq key is used by itself to get the Print Screen function, and with the Alt key to get the SysRq function. On the Model M keyboard, the Print Screen/SysRq key has "Print Screen" written on the top of the key in black and "SysRq" written on the front of the key in green (see this picture). On that same keyboard, the Alt keys are also labeled with green letters (see here). This helped show you have to press the Alt key and the Print Screen/SysRq key at the same time to get the SysRq function. (In the same way, the Pause/Break key has "Break" written on the front of the key to indicate you have to press Ctrl and Pause/Break at the same time to get the Break function.) Modern keyboards have moved the SysRq label to the top of the key, and don't put it in a different color, so its meaning is less clear. --Bavi H (talk) 02:40, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Limiting SSL/TLS chain-of-trust length[edit]

In SSL and TLS, is it possible for a certificate authority to certify an intermediate CA without allowing the intermediate to certify other intermediates (meaning that the intermediate is trusted to properly control its own issuance of non-CA certificates, but not to police other organizations in doing so)? NeonMerlin 15:32, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, the x509v3 Basic Constraints extension (OID 2.5.29.19) has a path length parameter for that. Be careful because some older implementations don't bother checking it. 66.127.52.47 (talk) 03:21, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Video Encoding issue[edit]

I have many files which i have recorded from TV using a tuner card and windows media center. These files are set to highest quality, and are in ".dvr-ms" format. I've been looking for a free program that converts these to popular standards like .avi, .mpg, or divx formats (partly so that i can also reduce the file size (quality) a bit!) I tried using something called "Format Factory" but they have an issue where any video converted from dvr-ms format has a small top section scrambled.

Does anyone know of a free video converter which reads my format, and doesnt have goofy issues when changing formats? Like i said ive been looking for a long time!

Thanks! 137.81.112.81 (talk) 21:05, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

According to DVR-MS, the files are basically .asf files with an unusual extension. I'd suggest reading the article on DVS-MS. It also notes the VLC should be capable of extracting the streams into a new container format; from there you should be able to do what you like with them. I should note that protected broadcasts will be recorded with DRM attached; you won't be able to work with them. At least, not legally, and I'm not going to look for or provide info on how to do that here. —ShadowRanger (talk|stalk) 21:14, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
VLC does play DVR-MS for me, but is a bit skippy; I've not tried its inbuilt conversion function. In addition to that, Windows Live Movie Maker will recode (and downscale) a DVR-MS to WMV (which more programs will read, but which isn't as portable as the formats you specify). Windows Media Center will also write DVR-MS files to unprotected video DVD (providing they fit) which means it recodes them to MPEG2, whence you could recode then to just about anything. The DVR-MS article says ffmpeg will also do it, but I didn't have luck trying (but I didn't try very hard). As with ShadowRangerRIT's reply, if the DVR-MS is encrypted then all bets are still off. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:34, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I just tried the VLC-recode method (with whatever default settings VLC chose to apply) and the resulting MPEG was also unacceptably skippy. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:44, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
I have yet to find any format that ffmpeg cannot decode. However, I think it is only supported well on linux, but you may be able to find some windows binaries. 86.157.54.58 (talk) 22:06, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

I just tried a trial version of AVS Video Converter 6.4.... same deal, a little strip at the top which is scrambled. Its not a HUGE deal? but fairly annoying! Why do i get the same effect using two entirely different conversion programs?!

137.81.112.81 (talk) 03:39, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Are you sure this strip isn't in the video file? If you're recording with an analog tuner, you'll often get things like that. Certain playback programs may extend the playback area past the visible screen so you won't see it under normal playback. Are you sure for example you don't see the strip in WMP or MPC when it isn't full screen? Nil Einne (talk) 05:21, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
I should point out that the scrambled strip, at least in the old broadcast format, corresponded to the Closed Captions feed (the info that produces text for the deaf and hard of hearing). It was hiding the signal in an area that CRT televisions wouldn't show, but could read. Not sure if a similar sideband exists in the digital broadcast specs. —ShadowRanger (talk|stalk) 13:54, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
I got to thinking and if DVR-MS is indeed a variant of ASF then perhaps VirtualDub with the ASF plugin [2] will work. If you can open the file in VirtualDub, you should be able to see the input video so you can easily see if this scrambled line is really there. You can also convert it to other formats if you have the appropriate encoding codec, resize it, deinterlace it & whatever with the appropriate filters including some rather fancy ones. This would be better then with some silly program which doesn't show you the input video Nil Einne (talk) 16:13, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

USA customs rates[edit]

I am importing 6 cell phones from the States to Australia and the company i am buying them from is telling me that i have to pay $5000USD to us customs before they can ship the phones which does not appear to be right because of the free trade agreement between USA and Australia. Can some one give me a contact email address at us customs so that i can check this out but i think i am getting ripped of. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Perrin7271 (talkcontribs) 23:44, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Sure sounds like you're getting ripped off — but you want the Australian customs agency, don't you? Customs duties are paid on import, not on export. This link is a US Customs website that has a link to a search engine for its big customs book, which is "the size of an unabridged dictionary", it says. But, again, duties are payable to the country into which the items are being imported. Comet Tuttle (talk) 23:50, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh, you should save yourself some time and tell the seller to show you where exactly it is written that you have to pay this. If they can't show you then you're certain it's a scam. Certainly something is amiss here. Comet Tuttle (talk) 23:56, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
An export tax will be payable to the country of export obviously. But these are very rare nowadays so that we seemingly don't even have an article, and are unconstitional in the US [3] and even elsewhere tend to only be used for raw materials and the like either for revenue generation [4] [5] [6] or to encourage local processing [7]. Definitely an export tax on electronic products is extremely unlikely anywhere (and obviously impossible in the US), in fact some countries may even have export subsidies. So yeah, there's definitely something amiss, you can ask the seller but personally I wouldn't bother, look for a more trustworthy vendor. Note that even with the free trade agreement you'll almost definitely have to pay GST to Australian customs (you'll either deal directly with them or thorough the shipment company, definitely not the supplier). Also although I doubt there's an import duties on mobile phones in Australia anyway are you sure they're covered by the agreement? Nil Einne (talk) 04:54, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
So you are in Australia and a seller in the USA is asking for US$5000 before shipping. Definitely sounds like a rip off to me. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service article provides a link to http://www.customs.gov.au/ which should be able to help you further. In particular, this page gives examples of the duty payable in various scenarios - for example: "Import of goods (other than tobacco products or alcoholic beverages) valued above [AUS]$1000" (a possible value for six cell phones?) suggests you need to pay an extra AUS$325. Astronaut (talk) 07:51, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
If you import them one at a time, they will hopefully each be under the $1000 mark and avoid customs duties. I agree with everyone else that a company telling you that you owe $5000 to import 6 cell phones is not trustworthy and you should have nothing more to do with them. If they don't rip you off now, they will try again and again until they succeed. You should report them to the authorities wherever they are located. (And besides, I prefer import/export companies that make money the old-fashioned way, by smuggling drugs with the cell phones. :-) ) StuRat (talk) 12:39, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Customs will generally be on the look out for that sort of thing, the website explicitly says:
Note: However, where there are multiple packages to the same addressee in Australia from a single consignor overseas that arrive at about the same time, then the value of all packages will be combined for duty and tax assessment purposes.
While you may be able to do it in certain circumstances I wouldn't recommend it, it will also increase shipping and could cause other problems and if customs thinks you're doing something fishy they may even give you a warning or something of that sort.
Incidentally am I the only one to notice someone forgot to update an internal IP in the website and it's pointing you to http://192.168.6.10 ? The actual page it links doesn't seem to exist on the customs website anymore? nor does the page linked to before that.
Nil Einne (talk) 16:33, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm surprised that they can assess items shipped separately as if they were a single item. When I bought a suit in a US state, I was advised to buy the jacket and pants separately, as that would put them under the minimum for a "luxury tax". In Australia, there must be some period after which they are legally considered separate items; a day, a week, or perhaps a month ? StuRat (talk) 16:44, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
May not be relevant, see my edit at the end
I doubt it's that simple. The thing is I'm pretty sure we aren't talking about some sort luxury tax here. Rather the Australian customs has decided it isn't worth their effort to tax people who irregularly importing a small number of low value goods for personal use. If you either import goods for commercial purposes or regularly import high value items they don't give you that leeway. As it is simply a policy of theirs and they are legally entitled under law to tax you for any item if they desire, you may be able to ask them to reconsider by giving them additional details but can't fight them if you disagree with their decision. Definitely it's the case in NZ, although the threshold is lower. Specifically they don't bother if the amount of tax due is under NZ$50 which if only GST is due means items worth less then NZ$400, well until the rate goes up to 15%; and they've also made it clear this isn't a hard and fast limit, if you receive several items or regularly receive items even if each one is under the limit they may still tax you.
This is not disimilar to the way for example the police often have either an unofficial or official policy of not stopping people who are only a small amount over the speed limit. In NZ they have an official (i.e. public) policy of allowing people to speed up to 10km/h above the speed limit. But they decided a while back to vigiriously pursue the speed limit near schools during school hours [8] and this obviously required no legislative changes nor is it likely you fight. For example the official policy is with 250 metres, if you carefully take measurements and prove you were only 275 metres of a school and could have safely slowed down in time to meet their official policy you may be able to convince them to change their minds if you write a polite letter but it's unlikely the court will have any bar of it if they don't since the police are entilted to fine anyone over the speed limit. At worse all they have to say is they thought it was unsafe (and indeed they could do this in any circumstance) and there's no much you can say in reply unless perhaps you feel they were discriminating against you because of your race or something. Obviously the Australian customs would have some sort of policy but they're not going to tell you in detail what it is and very likely there's a great amount of leeway given to the invidual officer.
And if you are doing something fishy, e.g. putting a false name or sending it to multiple addresses with the intention to try and avoid tax they could likely pursue this. (If you just send the items individually it's not likely they can pursue you but it doesn't mean they won't tax you and given the extra cost for shipping and other potential problems that could result probably isn't worth the extra effort.)
Edit: Re-reading the Australian customs website, I'm not so sure now since it does seem to suggest the limit is fairly fixed. From a bit of searching some people e.g. [9] are discussing importing stuff for businesses under the $1000 limit (including say that it can still be cheaper because of the reduces rates for high volume combined with shipping which suggests importing multiple times is no problem), and others also discuss it like it's a hard limit [10] [11], this one [12] discusses what about the same time may mean (although I haven't looked at the whole act so I'm not sure if the law actually says under $1000 is fine unless a total combibined over $1000 is arrriving at about the same time. However others talk about the limit like it's less clear cut [13] [14] [15] [16]. You probably should try asking the customs yourself, if you are unable to get a clear cut answer, it may mean that it's really not clear cut.
Nil Einne (talk) 11:10, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I would expect them to have a definite policy on this, not just leave it up to the discretion of the customs officer to charge taxes whenever they feel like it. The reason is that businesses absolutely hate that kind of uncertainty/risk. In many cases they would rather pay the tax than not know if a tax will be required, since that messes with their bookkeeping. In some ways a tax that may or may not be owed is like bribes required in 3rd world nations, adding an uncertainty that makes the profitability of a business impossible to predict, scaring off investors. StuRat (talk) 14:58, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
The free trade agreement kicks in if the article is made in the USA, not just sold from there. Also there is special paper work to fill in by the seller to indicate this fact. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 11:06, 10 April 2010 (UTC)