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Comment: It's taken them this long to realise? (Score 1) 212

by GoddersUK (#48157197) Attached to: Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too
British IT education is a joke. An absolute lack of specialist teachers and courses that you'd expect them to be teaching to OAPs at the library being taught to school leavers is the norm. We "learnt" Word, Excel, Powerpoint and, if "lucky", Access. Products that we all (except the teachers) could already use because we were using them for every other subject that we studied. In year 7 (the first year of UK secondary education) we only had IT one in every three weeks and we didn't have it at all in years 8 and 9. For our GNVQ (a form of school leavers (age 16) exam) our teacher admitted he was just there to babysit us (he was a PE teacher) and we followed an online step by step guide to complete the coursework (literally Assignment: Make a Business Card, Step 1: Open Publisher, Step 2: Go to menu x and change the paper size...).

The only friend I know who did a CS degree did not take A-Level (pre-university) IT and my friends that were most talented at IT all did physics degrees. We do loose out massively as a result - I've done a chemistry degree and having been taught programming skill in school would have made many aspects of that course vastly easier and more rewarding, indeed they have to teach programming (C++ in the modules I took) in some of the computational chemistry modules before they can get onto the chemistry.

Programming and other CS skill aren't just useful for those who want to take a CS degree or work in IT they're widely helpful in every day life and close to becoming essential in many fields (science, maths, stats); just about anyone who does an office job would benefit from having these skills. The UK is loosing out, and will continue to loose out, because for a whole generation IT was viewed as an unimportant part of the curriculum and, even now, is mostly taught and organised by people who don't know what they're talking about and think that teaching 16 year olds to use Dreamweaver is the same as teaching them programming.

It's a sad state of affairs for the country that produced the BBC Micro; even the Raspbery Pi, which was supposed to be a modern equivalent of the BBC Micro, is used more by hobbyists than for education. (Yes, I'm bitter because I missed out on learning an important and useful skill during my schooling simply because the school were too lazy to teach it properly.)

Comment: Re:Eurozone... (Score 1) 314

Where I am (Ishikawa pref.) the only places I can use my western credit/debit cards are atms in post offices and atms in 7-11 stores. The majority of shops won't even take Japanese cards; although perhaps my expectations are skewed since back home (London) we're encouraged even to put our bus fairs on credit/debit cards. That plum wine is SO SO good!

Comment: Re:Eurozone... (Score 1) 314

They still have fiat value. If they found themselves unable to use them for their criminal activities they could just cross the border, take them to the nearest bureau de change and swap them for USD or whatever - which makes the proposed move seem rather pointless.

Also I'd say "currencies operate on trust" is an oversimplification - although technically true for government backed fiat currencies. If the majority of the criminal fraternity accept that something has value then it can become a de facto currency - so long as it isn't easily forgeable and exists in only limited supply - no additional trust needed. (Gold is an excellent example of this - outside the electronics and chemistry industries it has little inherent value beyond its rarity yet it is widely used to exchange/store value with no guarantee that anyone else will honour that value, but you know they will.)

Comment: Eurozone... (Score 1) 314

Erm... I'm not sure a member country of a currency union can unilaterally withdraw/ban/remove one denomination in its territories; the entire concept is based on a, you know, union of currency between many different states.

Ignoring that obstacle I still don't see how this would work - they could end their status as legal tender but beyond that? How can they stop to individuals that have agreed to use these notes doing business with them? Will they try and make bartering illegal next?

(Writing this I'm currently in Japan where trying to use any form of payment that's not cash (notes/coins) is next to impossible outside the largest shops in the large cities.)

Comment: The 4th, 5th... (Score 4, Insightful) 354

by GoddersUK (#47998647) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous
"What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law."

Yeah, how dear people use the fourth and fifth amendments, what do they think it's there for?

Seriously, though, how can he stand there and say there's something wrong with companies responding to a market demand for technology that enables people to protect their rights. Encryption is not a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty, you have the right to remain silent, the government has no right to force you to unlock your door (or decrypt your phone) or to know what's inside unless they're able to show probable cause.

It's probably incredibly naive of me to believe in such quaint ideas though... All hail our benevolent overlords, all hail!

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 1) 474

by GoddersUK (#47945537) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence
Promises that, I would point out, were made by people without the authority to make them. The only body with the authority to make those bodies was parliament and the only body that can honour them is parliament - and it could equally refuse. Tory backbenchers have already indicated they don't approve of the status quo (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11098825/David-Cameron-faces-Tory-bloodbath-over-unfair-cash-for-Scotland.html). Those promises were never more than (and never could be more than) "this will now be lib/lab/con official policy".

Comment: Re:at least the nuclear weapons will be gone (Score 5, Informative) 494

by GoddersUK (#47926137) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry
The UK does not have a ground based deterrent. Our nuclear deterrent consists entirely of submarine launched ICBMs with one submarine in an unknown aquatic location at all times (which could be just about anywhere where the water is deep enough to hide a submarine). In terms of what it "covers" - the range is irrelevant in the sense that we're not going to nuke ourselves or our allies - it only matters in that the missiles can reach Moscow. In terms of whether we'd use them in the rest of Europe's defence (either through NATO, altruistically or through fear for ourselves) is the question of political guesswork, bluffing, double bluffing, prisoners dilemmas and so forth that is the basis of mutually assured destruction. The short answer is: who knows, the only way to find out is by "experiment"...

Comment: Re:Question: (Score 1) 115

by GoddersUK (#47510363) Attached to: UK Users Overwhelmingly Spurn Broadband Filters
That's a different blocklist. The IWF's blocklist (as used by BT's cleanfeed) blocks child porn and, perhaps, other "illegal" content (although there's no way of finding out what it actually blocks in practice unless you hit a blocked page while using an ISP honest enough to not serve a fake 404) and is used by all large ISPs with no way to turn it off. The blocklists in question here are mandatory default-on in the "we'll regulate if you don't do it voluntarily" fashion and block a whole variety of legal content from the genuinely objectionable through it's a question of taste to the innocuous. They're not set directly by the government, rather they're purchased by the ISPs from third parties and you can opt to have them turned off (if you don't mind the embarrassment of asking...). That's not to say the government interference here is a good thing for a whole range of reasons though.

Comment: No surprise (Score 1) 230

by GoddersUK (#47442109) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education
I'm a research student in London and I did my undergrad here too, what's amazed me is the number of people I know/knew who did their undergrad elsewhere that are now popping up all over the city. Turns out a graduate level job market attracts graduates who in turn attract graduate level jobs... What the summary fails to point out, of course, is that the growth of all the extra facilities - bars, restaurants, dry cleaners etc. - also ensure the job market grows in non-graduate jobs too, so it's win-win for everyone that lives in the lucky city. That city then grows at the expense of its neighbours that lose jobs in all sectors of the market (again, as we see in the UK where London and the south east is a giant black whole sucking up money and talent from the rest of the country). Whether or not you think this is a bad thing varies, of course...

Comment: Re:Seems appropriate (Score 3, Interesting) 353

by GoddersUK (#47419497) Attached to: UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys
Not true. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25745989 guy wasn't convicted until he decided to reveal it as part of separate proceedings proving he hadn't forgotten it; I'm surprised they didn't have him for perjury or something too.) Think about it - if that was the law every time you visit an SSL secured website you'd be breaking the law since your computer doesn't record the session keys. And perfect forward secrecy would be illegal too. Not that I'd put any of that past the government here, mind you, but it hasn't happened yet.

Comment: False dilema (Score 0) 333

Perhaps they were pushing the button AND thinking... shocking, I know. Typically the deeper in thought I am the more likely I am to absently mindedly do things like repeatedly prod a button that produces some kind of effect. I guess it ties up the bits of my brain that control my body so they don't distract the thinking bits?

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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