Politics UK

Warning: You are now entering a totalitarian state

You probably haven’t heard of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Far from it.

This bill, if passed, gives almost unlimited powers to Ministers to change the law without the involvement of parliament. And since the bill doesn’t exclude itself from this amazing power, whatever restrictions it contains could be removed by ministerial order. In other words, it would enable the government of the day to do anything, without any of that tedious business of democracy getting in the way.

When you consider it alongside the Mass Surveillance System* currently being set up, the curtailment of the right to protest, and the possibility of indefinite detention without trial on the basis of security service “intelligence” (despite the very obvious failure of such “intelligence” in Iraq), can you see what is happening here? Most people can’t. If you can, please help to spread the word before it’s too late.

This is not just about this government. It’s about whether you want every future government, elected or not, to have such far-reaching powers, which take automatic precedence over your freedom. Do they really need to create all the tools of a totalitarian state just to fight terrorism? It wasn’t necessary to do so in the days of the IRA bombing campaign. Why now?

* The Mass Surveillance System comprises, amongst other things, ID Cards and especially the National Identity Register; Childrens Act Register; CCTV on every street (but violent crime continues to rise); numberplate recognition systems that will track your vehicle everywhere in the name of “congestion charging”; unprecedented powers for the security services to spy on British citizens, including MPs. It is the repealment of human rights and justice safeguards that we have had for centuries, like the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Instead there is now a presumption that all citizens might be up to no good and must be kept under surveillance at all times.

Further Reading about the Bill:

Thanks to No2ID for alerting me to this.

Usability Web

URL aesthetics

Look at the state of this… the URL itself I mean, not the page it points to:

Can you imagine trying to dictate this to someone over the phone, or read it out on the radio? Reckon you can memorise it? If you saw it in your history list would you remember what the page was about?

URLs should be:

  • designed for people, not computers and not filesystems;
  • as short as possible (maintaining hierarchy only as necessary);
  • as meaningful as possible — using words, dates, standard reference numbers, or whatever will make sense to your users, not a bunch of abbreviations;
  • single case, not a mixture of lower and upper case;
  • persistent (cool URIs don’t change), and therefore designed with persistence in mind. A URL is more likely to persist if it is sensible and economical in the first place!

URLs should not:

  • include implementation details (.asp) and language preferences (_e), both of which can be handled transparently by content negotiation;
  • use unnecessary punctuation. Some punctuation is ok, but four dashes scattered throughout the URL is too many.

Ideally, it should also always be possible to remove the trailing part of a path to obtain an index document for that level. If that’s not the case (which it isn’t for this one), it’s a probable sign that you have more levels of hierarchy than you actually need.