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Comment Ummm no not really (Score 1) 1103

While these cards are a shitty setup, they are NOT company scrip in any way, shape, or form. They are denominated in US dollars and can be cashed out in that, or spent as that at stores that accept the reliant payment processor (Visa or Mastercard).

Company scrip was money that could only be spent at stores owned by the company, not anywhere else, and had no value in terms of government currency.

Don't make shit up. It weakens your argument. When something is bad, demonstrate its problems as they are. Don't try and invent new ones. When people find out you are lying they'll disregard your argument.

Comment And for reference (Score 1) 1103

The cost to actually send the money to the employee direct deposit is $0.35 per transaction. That's what the payroll service pays, and what you'd pay if you did it directly. That is what ACH charges. It is a cheap system. That's why places are more than happy to have bills paid via ACH. When they do an ACH deduction, they pay the fee (the initiator pays), but it is so very cheap in terms of getting money. Much less than a CC.

In terms of an actual check, it varies but is generally in the range of $0.75-$1 when you count the cost of the check stock, printing, envelope, and postage fees. Perhaps a bit more if you factor in labour (depending on how automated the system is).

Neither system costs an employer much. Checks cost the bank somewhat more to deal with, though they have automated that to a large degree, but ACH costs them nothing (when they receive). The sender pays a small transaction fee and that's it. ACH is cheap on purpose because it can be, and is, used for massive volume and thus does well.

No matter how you look at it, it doesn't cost much. The costs are mostly in the other services, as you of course notice from the cost of your payroll service that does all the other work for you (my folks used a payroll service when they ran their business for the same reason).

Still a trivial cost as compared to all the others, as you point out. $15 is trivial shit compared to the other costs of having an employee, even a minimum wage one.

Comment Well two problems with that (Score 5, Informative) 1103

1) You can, indeed, get free checking from Credit Unions pretty easy. Some banks too. There really are places that'll do business with you for no money up front and they won't charge you fees so long as you don't do things like overdraw.

2) They say companies are trying to do this instead of direct deposit. DD costs companies next to nothing. The Automated Clearing House (which is how they all do it) charges $0.35/transaction. This is why companies like to pay people that way. It adds just a trivial cost, and it all automated, the money comes out of their account in to yours. Well the only reason to go prepaid cards instead would be because the bank is bribing them, not because it is cheaper because the ACH cost is just fucking trivial.

This is not a matter of being nice to poor employees, this is a matter of fucking people over.

I could certainly understand offering it as an option. Maybe some employees would find it convenient or financially advantageous. But trying to force people on it? That is just trying to screw them over for a very minor benefit. Like I said, ACH is $0.35/transaction (or 0.06% of a minimum wage paycheck, not counting payroll tax and all that jazz if you want to look at it that way) and it is good bookkeeping wise since the transaction hits right away so you know the status of your current accounts.

Comment Re:Toner? In a capital budget? (Score 4, Insightful) 146

At the university there are only two kinds of budgets: capital and personnel. We have money for salaries, and money for equipment. Those are the categories. You may disagree with their method for doing it, but it is set by the regents and the state and it not something we control. Basically our personnel budget isn't being reduced, in fact there are small state mandated raises coming. However the equipment budget has only been 33% approved.

Personally I don't think toner should be an IT item, it should be in the same category as office supplies which is a department budget the business managers have. However, it is in the IT budget and that is that. We don't control it.

In terms of printers we have little control over that. We aren't like most IT shops where we can tell people what it is. We have to do what they want, by and large. Were it up to me, people wouldn't have personal printers, they'd use the large floor combo copier/printers which have much cheaper consumables on account of being so large. However they don't do that because:

1) They are lazy.

2) They use their printers for non-work related uses. We can audit the departmental stuff, not so for the personal stuff.

You have to remember that universities operate rather differently from companies.

Comment Also (Score 5, Interesting) 146

Show what you'd lose at a 50% cut. Show him the things that they want to have, that would go away if they cut that much. Often people fail to appreciate what a budget is spent on and if it gets explained what they'll have to trade off they'll be more accommodating.

We may have to do just that where I work. The Dean has been fiddling with the budget again (he's really, really bad at budgeting) and has approved about 33% of our capital budget. He says he'll see if there's more money once the FY starts. Well if not, we are just going to have to make it clear what they don't get to have. Toner will be a big one, we spend almost a third of the budget on that because every professor just HAS to have their own personal printer (this isn't something we get to say no to). Well, those purchases will have to stop, departmental toner purchases only, and then only for academics and business needs. We'll identify the computer labs that are running Windows XP that cannot be upgraded to 7/8 that will need to be shut down next year when updates stop. There will be no new purchases of desktops for anyone unless their computer is just non-functional, no refresh. Etc, etc.

At that point, he'll likely decide that more budget is needed, and move money around (I haven't looked, but my suspicion is he's giving the advertising group more they are a black hole that always wants more). If not, we'll keep going on what we have, and services will be cut because there won't be the funds for it.

It can be very effective to not only show people what you give them, but what you won't be able to give them. A 50% cut is huge, that isn't the kind of thing where you "just make do with a little less" or "cut some minor things" that is where major services have to be cut out. Show him what those are. It is easy to say "I want a 50% cut," when you just look at the money side. When you see what you are going to lose, then it is not so easy.

Comment The EU doesn't, but members do (Score 1) 417

The UK's SIS is one of the all-time legends of the intelligence community. Not surprising, given the importance that intelligence played in WWII and the threat that the UK faced. The SIS is one of the best of the best. Likewise France's DGSE is a pretty heavy hitter, with a number of publicly known operations (and likely many more not known) and a six hundred million Euro annual budget.

So ya, the EU itself has no central intelligence agency, but if you think its members don't, well then you haven't bothered to check.

In case you are wondering, they HAVE in fact killed people. One example that is publicly known? The DGSE sunk a Greenpeace ship in New Zealand, which killed one person. It was called Opération Satanique.

So sorry to burst your bubble about the EU and members being nothing but noble, but they are nations, with interests, just like all the others and they have intelligence agencies to that end.

Comment You think they are the only nations that spy? (Score 1) 417

Pick the nation, I can likely name the intelligence agency. How about Canada? Those nice Canadians surely don't have one. Oh wait, they have the CSIS, modeled after the British SIS. Ok well not the Norwegians, I mean they are such a wonderful country. Oh, no, wait, they have four of them, three mostly foreign (NIS, FOST, NSM), one mostly domestic (PST).

I really can go on for basically any nation. Nations have collected intelligence on each other for basically as long as we've had nations. This shouldn't surprise you if you've studied history at all. There are also some fairly recent (in historical terms) events that remind nations of the importance of intelligence, like the second world war.

That the US spies shouldn't surprise you. If you think it shouldn't, ok that is valid, but understand it would be essentially the only nation that doesn't. You also might want to learn up on problems that would cause, and then see if you are still ok with the tradeoff.

Comment For some reason (Score 1) 458

Many Wikileaks supporters seem to feel that it and its members should have near inviolable privacy, and nobody else should. It is sacred ground, that can be as secretive as it likes, while shedding light on anything else.

Now I suppose I could respect that if it were a more generalized "public/private" thing. In that they believed that government entities, being under the public's control, should have no secrets, but that private individuals and entities should be allowed secrets. However they don't do that, they've published things like sorority secrets which are for a private entity and have no public interest (meaning actual use to the public, people are interested in them with the same voyeuristic attitude as prying into celebrity lives).

It just seems to be how many Wikileaks members and supporters feel. It and its members are one of the few things that should be allowed as much privacy, including total privacy/anonymity, as they want. Everyone else? Fair game, publish whatever they can get their hands on that they decide is a juicy secret, regardless of utility or public good.

For that matter you can even see that with the governmental data they've leaked. There's various stuff that you can argue if it is in the public interest to release it but there is plenty you really can't. For example the private opinions of the diplomatic corps about the Russian leaders. There is NO REASON to release it to the public. It harms diplomatic relations, harms the individuals involved, and doesn't reveal anything, not even US policy, just the opinions of those involved. It isn't evidence of malfeasance or illegal action, it isn't useful to release. But they did, because they could.

Comment Re:Not that anyone will. (Score 1) 276

How is that going to help? It is not a legit UK plate - automatic arrest after you pass the nearest APNR camera (allegedly 50 metres, but might be more if you live in a rural area).

All plates have either

two letters, two digits, three letters


one letter, one to three digits, three letters.

or (if more that about 40 years old)

three letters, one to three digits, one letter

or, if dating from before 1960,

three letters, and one to three digits.

if the vehicle dates from before 1939, there may be even fewer characters, but there were never very many cars before 1940, and very few of them still work .

Comment Re:Errr (Score 3, Informative) 276

Well the UK is not a US State. Here the plate follows the vehicle, and all vehicles must have a place if they are in a public place. Yes, the police can and do track your every move, and the data IS archived for ever. I understand that there is no one with sufficent authority to request deletion of the data.

However, the system is gloriously incompetent. I once bought a car with a plate that had been cloned. The cloner had run over some children in the entrance to a school and been arrested, and this fact was recorded on the DVLA database. However, several local authorities in the area where the cloner operated continued to hound us for various motoring offences committed by the cloner before we bought the (innocent) car. Only when we managed to get one of the officers prosecuting the cloner to call the local authorities did the harassment cease.

They routinely collect the data "to go after terrorists" but use it haphazardly on innocent people, and it costs money and time (their time and money is your time and money) to perform this stupidity.

Comment Re:Being done commercially too ... (Score 1) 276

what value would there be in the government sharing my travel data with Visa/Mastercard?

What makes you think that the commerical entities ask first? Most government databases appear to leak like sieves. In all probability. the data is freely available on servers in Afganistan/NIgeria/Russia for anyone who wants it.

Comment Re:Why is this such a big deal? (Score 1) 122

As long as it works

What is at stake here is the definition of "works". Canonical shipped Unity - which gave users the impression that their definition of "works" does not include "able to carry out the user's most basic tasks", or "shipped with a viable way to avoid the use of an untested and serverely restricted UI".

In short, given their track record. "works" is unlikely to be the average user's experience of Mir.

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