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Comment Re: In Other News (Score 2) 178

IR35 was introduced because contractors often pay less income tax than employees (by using dividends from their one-man limited company, and by deferring income to maximise use of allowances). So the government is out money.

It seems they're fine being out this money if it's genuinely a business-to-business kind of deal. But not if it is disguised employment.

The only time I was ever asked to fill out IR35 paperwork I pointed out that I was contracting as an individual, rather than through a limited company, expressly because the contract was basically tantamount to employment and I had no interest in paying less than the full rate of tax. They were... surprised.

Comment Re:Well maybe there will be some time to fix thing (Score 2) 70

If you read the actual court judgment, you'll find a slight nuance. The algorithm was invented by Thales. They licenced it to EM. EM and another company called Delphi make immobilizer equipment using it and then sell the kit to Volkswagen and others. The researchers informed EM; EM failed to inform anyone else. VW found out a few weeks before publication and were pissed off.

Which is not to blame the researchers (except perhaps for notifying everyone, rather than simply the maker of the one component they compromised) but it does explain why the judge was fairly scathing: "It may well not be the defendants' fault that Volkswagen were not told earlier, but once the defendants were told about Volkswagen 's concern a responsible academic, concerned with responsible disclosure, would have realised that publication should be delayed, at least for a reasonable period, to allow for discussion with Volkswagen."

Comment Re:New law (Score 4, Informative) 47

It's worth bearing in mind that this is the second time that the Lib Dems have killed this particular bill. Also that their members are pretty virulently pro-privacy, and that the party currently has the balance-of-power in Parliament.

I'm sure something similar will be proposed again, but I'd be waiting until after the next election (2015) before it's likely to be passed.

Comment Re:Asking around? (Score 1) 343

Problems of schools gaming the stats not withstanding, this isn't a good approach. Your friends and family will have only anecdotal evidence of some schools at some periods of time; reputations tend to catch up with actual quality in the long run, but this can take several years.

In short, your algorithm is an excellent way of finding out what some people like you thought were good schools some years ago - it's not an efficient way to find out where your kid might be best off in the future.

Comment University of Oxford (Score 5, Interesting) 432

Oxford's campus-wide wireless LAN project, OWL, operates like a hotspot scheme with open access points and a redirection to a login page for temporary credentials when you open a web browser. If you're a student or faculty member, you can instead use Cisco Anyconnect to access the university VPN and bypass the login screen.

Not only does the university support Anyconnect on Linux clients, it also provides guidance for setting up an entirely Free Software alternative for those who would rather not download the official software. It's really quite good.

Further details at

Comment Re:Copyright is main US industry, while not others (Score 2) 293

There's actually quite an extensive economic literature on what the optimal economic term of copyright might be. See for example Pollock, R., 2009. Forever Minus a Day? Calculating Optimal Copyright Term. Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 6(1), pp.35-60.

The short answer is that the rational term is much lower than the present one - of the order of twenty years or less. The majority of works make no money that long after release, so the average economic value of the longer term is tiny, especially when the net present value of the income is calculated at a reasonable discount rate.

Comment Re:Some people don't want to go online (Score 3, Informative) 224

The school trips part of your argument (at least) is bogus. At state schools in Britain, nobody is obliged to pay for school trips (see and merely being unemployed isn't going to stop you getting the begging letter.

Submission + - Sony Get Nasty With PSBreak Buyers ( 1

YokimaSun writes: The War between hackers and Sony over the Playstation 3 has now taken an even more sinister turn with Sony now going after not just shops but actual buyers of the PSBreak Dongle, threatening them with fines of many thousands in Euros and forcing them to sign Cease and Desist letters. Seems that Sony will use any method possible to thwart both Homebrew and Piracy on the PS3.

Submission + - Scientology Could Lose Tax Breaks in UK

Pickens writes: "The Guardian reports that the government is urging councils across the United Kingdom to stop giving hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax breaks to the Church of Scientology. In the first time a cabinet minister has intervened in the long-running dispute over the tax breaks for Scientology, communities secretary, Eric Pickles, says a majority of the public do not want the "controversial organization" to be given the kind of favorable treatment usually reserved for charities and questioned this use of public money. "Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favored tax treatment over and above other business premises," says Pickles. "The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognized place of worship." However Scientology has won some victories to gain tax-free or low-tax status. In 2000, it persuaded Revenue & Customs that it should be exempt from VAT on payments received because its services were educational and non-profitable and in a test case before the VAT tribunal, the Scientologists' lawyers forced the taxman to return £8m in overpaid VAT."

Comment Article title not true (Score 5, Informative) 507

It's worth pointing out, for those who don't know much about the British parliamentary system, that the title of this post isn't true. One of the Parliamentary Select Committees has recommended that the NHS should stop funding homoeopathy. This is not a decision and will not automatically result in the money being withdrawn. This should be seen as the starting of a conversation on the issue in Parliament. In reality, the government has effective control over public spending and unless and until the Department of Health decides to change the way its money is spent then there will be no change in practice.

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