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Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 1) 367

by xaxa (#48944195) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

Interesting, America being different again ;-)

I found http://krebsonsecurity.com/201... which has some background. I'm not so sure about the security risk, there has been a recent slight increase in lost+stolen fraud in the UK (PDF graph, starting at £120M pre-introduction it reduced to £50M, but has since increased to £60M. (In step with other types too, so maybe it's just more crime in general.) That contradicts the person quoted though.

The other suggestion -- that people will pick the 'easiest' card in a competitive market -- sounds much more likely, especially as it's the reward cards that do use a PIN.

Not having a retailer take a card to check a signature helps -- they can't copy down the details to use online. In restaurants they must bring the machine to you, so you can type a PIN, and the card never leaves your sight (or often possession).

Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 1) 367

by xaxa (#48932769) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

The whole lot is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

The next fleet of trains will cost £16 billion, the lines the trains are for have an annual ridership of about 600 million, and we could assume the trains will last 55 years (same as the ones they're replacing). That's 16G/600M/55 = 48 pence per journey?

I wonder if a boring design would cost less. I suspect it doesn't make much difference in the end -- a custom design is needed to maximise capacity in the old tunnels in any case.

Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 1) 367

by xaxa (#48932369) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

What were they doing before the useless encryption chips? Stealing dozens of cards and beating the PINs out of the owners? How did these magical encryption chips put a stop to this practice?

Cloning magstripe cards to use in ATMs. The chips can't be cloned.

“Fraud on lost and stolen cards is now at its lowest level for two decades and counterfeit card fraud losses have also fallen and are at their lowest level since 1999. Losses at U.K. retailers have fallen by 67 per cent since 2004; lost and stolen card fraud fell by 58 per cent between 2004 and 2009; and mail non-receipt fraud has fallen by 91 per cent since 2004.”

Similarly, the national roll-out of EMV in Canada in 2008 had a dramatic impact on fraud. Losses from card skimming in Canada fell from CAD$142 million in 2009 to CAD$38.5 million in 2012, according to the Interac Association.

http://www.smartcardalliance.o...

Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 1) 367

by xaxa (#48932335) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

I think some American trains just look old. Bare aluminium (sometimes fluted!) and boxy corners.

Compare the newest NYC train with the newest London Underground train: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...

(London's oldest trains are from 1972, and will be replaced in 2025. The next oldest are from 1980, and will be replaced this year. How long trains last seems to depend more on how well they were built and maintained, rather than simply age.)

Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 2) 367

by xaxa (#48932187) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

The funny thing is that last year I my latest Amex card came with a chip, and so far the only place that I have actually used it is at Walmart of all places.

It was similar in the UK, until the law changed to allow Visa and MasterCard to push the liability for non-chip fraud onto merchants. In the months leading up to that, everyone updated their card readers.

The law changes in the USA in October.

Comment: Re:For all of you USA haters out there: (Score 1) 367

by xaxa (#48932125) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

I was wondering about a solution to this problem, and I find that prepaid travel EMV cards are available for purchase to those who think to do so in advance. Do you think tourists could also buy such cards after arrival?

Yes, I've found these: http://www.idtprime.com/ http://www.splashplastic.com/ which are available in shops in the UK. (From http://www.mastercard.co.uk/fi... and I said I was 13 and didn't travel.) They can be topped up with cash. (Check thoroughly before relying on these, I don't know anyone with one!)

You could ask your American bank to send an EMV card. Non-EMV cards are often accepted in person for shopping, restaurants etc, but you can get stuck dealing with machines (e.g. buying train tickets, or collecting cinema tickets you've ordered online) or very cheap merchants (trader at a music festival, market stall holder etc).

Comment: Re:Any experienced teacher already deals with this (Score 1) 388

by xaxa (#48807299) Attached to: UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

Why should English classes be more about works of fiction and theatre by dead white European males and less about communicating your own ideas to other people?

Here's some of what I had to study when I was approaching 16, in 2002. You'll note the opposite criticism has been made -- "the inclusion of the poems represented an "obsession with multi-culturalism"."

I had trouble writing and analysing fiction, and always received poor grades. A few months before the final exam the teacher set me some work to analyse and write something more factual -- I think it was articles from a popular science magazine. That was easy, I got As. It was a topic most English teachers didn't enjoy teaching, and avoided, but the examination board allowed it as an alternative.

Comment: Re:Any experienced teacher already deals with this (Score 1) 388

by xaxa (#48807173) Attached to: UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

Primary school teachers in the UK are paid a lot less than secondary school teachers, I assume because the job is a good bit easier.

Both my parents were secondary school teachers. They'd both manage a long break in the summer, at least 6 weeks, but made up for it by working well over the official hours in term time. I guess before they had children they might have valued the summer holiday less, and normal weekends / evenings more.

(Legal minimum holiday here is four weeks (20 days), but the actual average is 26 days. In both cases add 8 public holidays (Christmas day etc).)

Comment: Re:To be fair... (Score 1) 388

by xaxa (#48807119) Attached to: UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

Right, agreed. So, once upon a time we had typing classes. Would you then expect the typing teacher to take on teaching shop and engineering courses that were about how to build a typewriter? No.

Actually, yes, but probably against their wishes. (But their alternative is being made redundant, so can you blame them?) My dad started as a woodwork teacher, which was replaced by engineering drawing. He'd failed his A level at that, but his school presumably couldn't find anyone else to teach it, and asked him. Apparently it was a stressful summer learning. That was more gradually replaced by IT, meaning "using software", which I think he did quite well at -- "using software" had the flexibility to mean using art + design + CAD packages. The children he taught got As, but if he hadn't retired a few years ago he'd be one of the teachers stuck trying to teach Hello World to 12 years olds -- I'd passed his level of programming when I was 9 or 10.

He also taught geography for a couple of years, I think covering for a long-term sick colleague, and PE (sport) similarly.

Similarly, I remember seeing teachers at my school change subjects. Sometimes it's fine -- a decent chemistry teacher can teach physics, biology and maths pretty easily, especially to children under 15 or so. But the teachers teaching computer science probably aren't the maths teachers, but the general technology / business teachers who have little choice but to struggle with the new subject.

I'm critical of teachers for a lot of things, but not knowing how to teach Towers of Hanoi isn't one of them. Demanding that someone who knows how to teach Towers of Hanoi get paid the same as the social studies or health teacher IS one of them.

I'm familiar with that one! In the last few months I've run out of patience with the public sector scientific organisation I work for, so I'm looking for a developer job elsewhere. I'm aiming for around double the pay... (Although the situation isn't quite the same. I have highly technical, general, transferrable skills, the scientists have highly technical, extremely specialist, less-transferrable skills, so they're "worth" less.)

Comment: Re:To be fair... (Score 2) 388

by xaxa (#48804133) Attached to: UK Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More Than Them

It's one thing for a teacher, like my computer science teacher in high school, to be expected to understand computer SCIENCE. It's another to expect them to know a bunch of software packages. That's one of the big problems with computer education in schools; the idiots putting together the curriculum don't understand the difference between conceptual learning and facility with using systems.

That is the issue here: it used to be knowing about software packages, the "idots" have changed it (see here and here, among others) to include some programming. FTA "It seems that switching from an approach that emphasised computer literacy to one that actually wants students to do more difficult things is the reason for the problem."

Comment: Re:Better way (Score 4, Informative) 289

by xaxa (#48750345) Attached to: Extra Leap Second To Be Added To Clocks On June 30

arbitrarily-picked Greenwich, UK,

Greenwich wasn't arbitrarily picked. The only options were Paris, Berlin, London and Washington DC -- they had the necessary observatories. London was already in widest common use, and the anti-meridian falls in a convenient place (not crossing anywhere important).

Comment: Re:I answer work e-mail from home. (Score 0) 82

by xaxa (#48704763) Attached to: Pew Survey: Tech Increases Productivity, But Also Time Spent Working

I am online all the time, I answer work e-mail from home at all hours. I can't technically discipline anyone for not replying to me off-hours, but it does get remembered.

British law states that, "workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days (eg if you finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 7am the next day)." and "Workers have the right to: (a) an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week, or (b) 48 hours each fortnight". source

I set my phone to not check my work email outside working hours, and not at all while I'm on holiday. I don't think it would be a bad thing if the majority of people were normally prevented from accessing email (and other work systems) during these periods.

Comment: Re:Learn to drive (Score 1) 214

by xaxa (#48703453) Attached to: New Year's Resolution for 2015

I already use a bicycle for my commute, and most local journeys. I intend to continue with that, especially as it keeps me fit.

Driving a car will let me transport more stuff or passengers than a motorcycle. I'll investigate the cost of owning a car for a while, mostly to get some practise after I've passed the test, but after that I'll probably just rent one as required.

We can predict everything, except the future.

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