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Comment Re:I foresee a sudden demand for raises (Score 2) 430

The problem here is that companies like Google don't have a clue what their employees are contributing. They don't even know (in any meaningful sense) why they employee a lot of them - look at all their abandonware. They have a huge amount of money coming in and hire people they think they might be able to use, possibly not right now, possibly for no purpose yet defined. They may work more or fewer hours, commit larger or smaller numbers of lines of code, but does that ultimately translate into better or worse value for Google? Who knows? The line manager almost certainly doesn't.

That means salaries aren't really tied to any concrete business metric, but to extrinsics - how much managerial time would have to be spent replacing people, how much empire-building the line manager is trying to do, how much you want to stop your competitors having access to the "best" talent. In other words, they're going to be arbitrary, to all intents and purposes.

Comment Your card will likely not be welcome... (Score 1) 294

In parallel with this trend, European countries are getting increasingly fussy about which cards they will accept. Recently, railways in The Netherlands, for example, wouldn't accept cards that had Visa or Mastercard logos - only V Pay or Maestro (European debit card variants). These latter aren't even routinely issued in the UK where most debit cards are branded Visa or Mastercard and are viewed as "credit" cards in most European countries. If you wanted to buy a railway ticket in Amsterdam station, your best bet as a visitor was normally to withdraw cash from the ATM and then queue at the ticket counter. There has been a recent change of policy, but you'll pay an additional 50c for the privilege of using your Visa/Mastercard.

You'll also find that stored-value cards for things like transport are increasingly common and often the only way to get the best-value fares. However, the card will likely have limited geographical scope (eg the London Oyster Card), so if you're travelling widely you'll need a bunch of them or pay higher fares.

While these schemes may make life easier/cheaper for locals, they can make life for visitors increasingly complicated.

Mind you, these supposedly transnational card networks have always been rather parochial. A lot of years ago I came across an ATM in Germany with a handwritten signed attached saying "Nur Deutschen Eurokarten"...

Comment Re:And just like that, UK has a GeStaPo.... (Score 1) 83

The only thing about this that's new is the scale - modern technology has simply enabled surveillance that would not have been feasible a decade ago.

And as you say, it doesn't flow from politicians, per se. You only have to look at the unproven, but plausible reports of the security services pursuit of Prime Minister Harold Wilson to realise that elected politicians too may be the target if they are suspected by the establishment of deviating too far from the status quo.

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 2) 273

Actually, the IATA proposal was a recommended MINIMUM size for cabin baggage (actually, two sizes, there's a smaller capacity defined for very small aircraft) so that passengers could acquire one bag that they could take everywhere. There may be a common size in North America, but in the rest of the world there isn't and oversize baggage charges are a source of some considerable revenue to budget airlines and annoyance to passengers, particularly when their journey involves more than one budget carrier. There was certainly never any intent to prevent airlines carrying larger bags in the cabin if they wanted to. Indeed aircraft manufacturers are going to be fitting larger overhead bins to planes to deal with the increase in carry-on luggage. However, this has been spun essentially as a "Mars bars are getting smaller" story, so the proposal has, now, AFAIK, been withdrawn in face of intense public opposition to something that was never proposed in the first place...

Comment Re:IPv6 and Rust: overhyped and unwanted! (Score 2) 390

>other people will solve them

Other people are solving the real problem of address exhaustion, just not in the way that the IETF intended.

Even the IPv6 enthusiasts accepted that adoption would have to be widespread before the regional registries started running out of IPv4 addresses if it were going to work as a solution. That hasn't happened and it's now just too late - don't forget this started 22 years ago when most of the host systems were still under the control of education and government institutions and migration could have occurred much faster than it could now.

The thing that still irks me is that there'd been a very similar and very public (though much less protracted) attempt to deal with similar address limitations in DECnet that had failed miserably and the IETF chose to turn a deaf ear to those experiences which have simply been repeated on a larger scale with IPv6.

The problem of address exhaustion remains. IPv6 is no longer the solution, it's time came and went. A different group of "other people" are now attempting to keep the Internet roughly connected, but I'm afraid end-to-end connectivity is gone because the solution that offered it has failed the acceptance test.

Comment Re:Red Button (Score 1) 107

And more than that, it isn't at all obvious that retaliation will solve the problem you're experiencing. Indeed, the resources devoted to it will diminish the resources available for solving the domestic problem.

More seriously, critical infrastructure needs to have a safe manual mode of operation (even if you have to deploy personnel that normally wouldn't be present). If it doesn't your defence has already failed.

Comment Re:The sad part? (Score 1) 577

As a furriner, this is the part I always find hilarious.

If an enlightened citizenry were ever going to use their weapons to overthrow the overbearing state, there have been plenty of occasions over the last 50 years where you could construct an argument for justification.

And yet it never happens. And why not? Because the people who believe in the weaponisation of civil society have been right behind every form of oppression from slavery through to the Patriot Act.

The US government would be mad to deprive the gun nuts of their guns - they do their work for them.

Comment Re:There are no such things as human "rights". (Score 1) 313

It was a big worry for the British government that in the event of a nuclear strike the people they needed to maintain the fiction of continuing authority would actually prefer to be at home dying with their families rather than assisting the remnants of the state.

So, for example, there was a secret list of telephone engineers (all, at the time, government employees) who would be kidnapped at gunpoint in the event of a nuclear emergency and forced into their nearest bunker to maintain the telecommunications equipment.

"For your own good", indeed.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 392

>I almost can't believe we're talking about effective encryption being illegal

Then you must be very young.

Back in the days of telegrams, many countries had strict regulations regarding the readability of messages sent. The US wouldn't allow the export of software which permitted encryption with (symmetric) key lengths longer than 40 bits until 1996 when the limit was raised to 56 bits by the Wassenaar agreement. PGP was eventually determined to be legally exported from the US as a result of a court decision that source code printed on paper was protected as free speech (you couldn't legally at that point export the source code in electronic form, only as printing on paper). The late 1990s saw many governments agonising about encryption and although the commercial imperative was clear (in particular for electronic financial transactions), because of its military origins it was regarded as a hostile technology - there are endless proposals from various countries for key escrow systems (eg "Clipper Chip"). A proposed encryption system for the UK National Health Service was considered that included key escrow, presumably because it would otherwise be difficult for medical information to be obtained without a court order.

The last few years, in which encryption has been freely available (but little used), are very much the exception in the history of cryptography.

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli