Searching for blog posts tagged with 'government'

Browser choice less than 2% - forget it



OK - this is disturbing me just a little bit:

It seems that the Central Office of Information released (quietly) a consultation paper last Friday regarding which web browsers should be used for Public Sector testing..Oh, ok, so we have the government telling us what browsers we should be avoiding and how to use them? Slightly, bizarre, no?

Well, check this out: It suggests that Web designers need not test against browsers with a share of less than 2%. Also, that the same designers place an notice stating to the user that they 'should change to an alternative and supported browser' - which in my opinion is potentially dangerous ground.

Telling our Mac & dedicated Safari lover out there that he/she should leave Safari and go over to IE would not make them a happy bunny at all. It is true that the public sector is definately emerging from an 'IE' only mindset, but the problems is that people will be spending more time developing than they actually need to. The funny thing is is that the following are figures posted by the COI in terms of visits to their site:

a) IE - 83.25%
b) Firefox - 8.68%
c) Safari - 3.99%
d) Firefox for Mac - 2.53%

Opera doesn't even get a look in because COI considered that it 'failed the disability concession'. However, they seem to have forgotten that Opera can pose as IE or Firefox when on the web and therefore its web server logs fail to reflect its true usage. Also, they go back against their logic, as they seem to accept Linux even though it falls below the 2% usage law.

I for one disagree with this. There is no doubt that when web designers and developers come together to work on a project, they are primarily designing for Firefox/IE and maybe Safari - and that's it. It depends on whom your target audience is, whether it is for public consumption or limited access and also whether your site has the kind of complexities in mixed-media such as Flash, Streams and/or 3D etc.

COI released this document in quiet I think, because they knew the response that it would get from across the waters. I do tell you one thing though - that any future ad or design agency looking to put tenders into the government for the web, is going to have a much tougher time at the usability & accessibility stages!

The original article was at my favourite news site: The Register

Who knows, maybe before all future sites load in the government sector, we'll get a notice on the first page saying:

You must use Internet Explorer 7 to view this site, otherwise please leave.Foot in mouth

elitism at its worst



100 people at Sussex are going to lose their jobs. 40% of the Informatics Department is being cut, and 5 people in English. Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing makes a quarter of a million pounds.

This situation is typical of big-business thinking, which has insidiously crept into higher education and is trying to turn universities into businesses. People like Michael Farthing don't understand the value of education for its own sake, the importance of investing long-term in a population that can think critically. All they understand is money. They want more of it for themselves, and they have no scruples about who they have to fire to get it. If the VC really cared about the dire state of Sussex's finances, he'd volunteer for a salary cut himself. But no. As usual, the people at the top continue to rake in fat paychecks while the people beneath them lose their jobs.

This is unacceptable. The government, easily prostituted as it is, bails out banks and failing businesses and passes the loss onto us, students, ordinary people who don't have the benefit of a prestigious job with a bloated salary. They eviscerate funding for education and hand the money over to the people who caused the recession, people who will do this again and again and again because they have seen no consequences for their greed and incompetence. MPs abuse their expense accounts and try to justify their greed and avarice. It's outrageous.

There is a protest today at 1pm in Library Square. We will be marching to Sussex House with P45 forms for Michael Farthing, our greedy and incompetent Vice Chancellor. But it can't stop there. It doesn't stop there. Farthing is just passing the buck that the government has handed him, instead of standing up for the students he's supposed to be helping. He is only part of an overall system that privileges people in business and stomps on everyone else. Write your MP. Write them a lot. Inundate them with angry letters. Demonstrate. DO something. There are more of us than there are of them.

Stop the Cuts: 26 November 2009



Over 200 students gathered at Library Square yesterday to protest the massive cuts that Sussex is facing. About 100 staff members are to be made redundant across a variety of departments. Meanwhile, top university administrators pull in 6-figure salaries.

Continue reading 'Stop the Cuts: 26 November 2009'...

Stop the Cuts: 3 December 2009



An emergency meeting of University Senate took place on Thursday morning to discuss management's proposals for cuts, and students and staff turned out in large numbers to make their voices heard. Over 500 people made their way to Bramber House in a procession half a mile long, chanting, "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!"

Continue reading 'Stop the Cuts: 3 December 2009'...

microcosm and macrocosm



Everywhere you look, management is passing the buck. VCEG claims that government higher education funding cuts have caused the deficit here at Sussex. They point the finger at Lord Mandelson, the elitist peer who wants unis to run like businesses. What VCEG doesn't tell you is that they've spent the last ten years grossly mismanaging Sussex. In "From the Top Down," they discuss several projects that executive members of staff put themselves in charge of, whether they were qualified to oversee them or not. The result, naturally, was that the projects went over budget. When official university communication says that management was incompetent, you know it's bad. Apart from that, £3m is lost in Icelandic banks because whoever invested it made a poor choice.

But VCEG doesn't answer to anyone but VCEG. Over the years, they have increasingly consolidated power into their own hands and used Senate and Council not as consultation tools but rubber stamps. "Your job is to comment, not vote," Michael Farthing told University Senate last week when they demanded a vote on the proposals to cut jobs. It is this sort of totalitarian governance that is the problem here at Sussex.

Now the management has created an email address: They claim they want feedback from students and staff, but instead of meeting with us, speaking with us, they want us to fill out a questionnaire or send in an email. Why? Because those are easily ignored. Management will cherry-pick select bits from these emails, no doubt, and find some way to use them to justify their plan to eviscerate this university.

We demand more than just an email address. We demand real consultation, especially given the gross incompetence that management has displayed over the years and their complete failure to be held accountable for it. We also demand that management produce the research they allegedly did into alternatives to job and service cuts. So far they have refused to produce any such document. We demand transparency.

Sussex management is reproducing the global financial crisis in microcosm. They fail to plan properly, they invest badly, they mismanage, and the result is a deficit. Management knows that their salaries constitute a large portion of the university budget, but they have refused to consider any kind of pay cut for themselves. If they have the university's best interests at heart, as they claim to, they will put themselves on the chopping block first. But like bankers that still demand huge bonuses in the midst of a recession, VCEG refuse to be touched by the recession. They see themselves as above accountability, above the consequences of their actions. They caused this deficit, and now they are profiting from it.

time to get back to the grind-- also, stop the cuts



I haven't written here in more than a month. I spent most of December being a lazy bastard and consequently a good portion of January flailing about and panicking about my term papers. They turned out pretty well I think-- at least, I thought so until it came time to turn them in. But I can't worry about them now. They're out of the way, out of my hands, and I can commence shitting myself once again when evaluations come in. Now I've got to focus on my current seminars.

Which brings me to my next point. One of my tutors this term is going to be made redundant. If the cuts that management is proposing go through, this woman will lose her job. I've already slagged off uni management and their plans that are clearly based on information from an imaginary Sussex full of business students, but it bears repeating: this is ridiculous. Higher education funding is being cut across the board-- because apparently the UK government want their population to be as uneducated as possible. I find it ironic that a country with such a long history of xenophobia seems obsessed now with bringing in international students (like me!). Why the hell would you deny your own people the right to an education? It just doesn't make sense. Not that that's ever stopped any corporate toad before.

So there's another demonstration. This Thursday morning at 11.30. Be there or watch your education be pillaged by people who can't answer a simple question and instead of listening, just wait for their turn to speak.

Speaking of questions. I will be at Postgraduate Open Day. And I will have many questions. I'm not just showing up to start trouble either; I genuinely want to know how Sussex thinks it will bring in the best and brightest if it sacks so many of its staff and cuts courses. Michael Farthing claims that Sussex needs to have courses students "really want." So is that why Chinese was cancelled? You know, the language that over a BILLION people speak? One of the languages that's going to be hugely important in the coming years? As usual, management's rhetoric proves to be at odds with their behaviour.

Lots of things going on. School of English Society needs setting up. Stop the Cuts campaign continues in all its myriad forms. Full-time officer elections are next month. I've got to do some reading. More rabble-rousing to come.

take action



There are a lot of things you can do to fight the cuts at Sussex on a personal level. You don't have to march or chant or chain yourself to a door. What's most important is that we get people involved and make them aware of the cuts and how to stop them.

  • Boycott the NSS. The National Student Survey is used to rank universities. It's one of the only things VCEG cares about, so we are refusing to fill it out. Computer surveys and website rankings are not an adequate judge of education. And contact the NSS to tell them that.
  • Talk to people. Tell them about what's going on. A flyer or a poster don't have nearly the same impact that face-to-face conversation have.
  • Read the Defend Sussex blog, which has the latest information about the cuts and the campaign.
  • Get involved on a School level. Lots of the Schools facing cuts have their own sections of the movement, like the School of English. Find out what your fellow students are doing.
  • Be creative. There are lots of ideas in the pipeline for Stop the Cuts events that are unusual and creative.
  • Speak out. Write your MPs, write to the Sussex management, write to the press, contact anyone who might listen to tell them what's going on here and how we all oppose it.

We can stop these cuts, and support from outside the university is growing every day. But we need everyone to get involved. We're all in this together.

acceleration, a whistling kettle, a rocket blasting off



The next Stop the Cuts rally is on Monday 8 February at 2pm. We're going to have speakers talking about the various segments of the campaign and hopefully some people from the community. Support for us is growing every day. UCU is balloting on strike action soon, the City Council has officially condemned the cuts, and Monday's rally promises to be the biggest yet.