How the European Commission disrespects its own cookies directive

The most popular interpretation of the cookies directive is that websites should warn about cookies that are not essential for the operation of the websites. For instance, a cookie set to keep the items in your shopping cart is essential for the operation of an online shop and users should not be warned. If the cookie is set to track user activity for marketing purposes (e.g. by Google Analytics for targeting ads) — that's not essential, and the user should be warned.

The main website of the European Commission sets cookies to store information on surveys. This is not essential to the operation of the website, so technically they should warn about it. Bit they do not. OK. that's a small problem, they are almost clean… on sufrace.

If you look a little bit further, you'll see that parts of set Google Analytics cookies for the whole domain. For instance, EURES homepage sets Google Analytics cookies __utma, __utmb, __utmc and __utmz for everything at, as well as a couple of other cookies for itself,  such as eures_client_nr and piwiki_visitor, as well as a EURES_SESSIONID.

An example of project management workflow

Here's an example of software project management worfklow that I use daily.

Each project is split into two uneven parts:

  • Definition of project scope and objectives
  • Project execution and follow-up.

The main difference is that the former is document-based while the later uses a bug issue tracker

For definition of project scope and objectives, we edit a series of documents:

  • Personas — a list of different kinds of people that may be using the product, e.g. readers, clients, journalists, etc
  • User stories — a description of how these personas would use the product
  • Functional requirements — a non-technical list of features induced from user stories
  • Technical requirements — a list of technical features, induced from functional requirements
  • Budget estimation — based on technical requirements and team skills.

There's also an optional Traceability matrix — a many-to-many mapping between functional requirements and technical requirements.

For project execution and follow-up, we use an issue tracker Assembla to define:

  • Milestones — e.g. "Freeze data structures"
  • Tickets — for individual tasks, such as "Update the logo"
  • Components — to group tickets by origin or subproduct, e.g. "Marketing & Sales requests", "Newsletters"
  • Time — estimate and invested time, related to a ticket or not.

How screen resolutions changed over the past 7 years — it's not the mobile revolution, dude

This picture is well worth a thousand words. It shows 7 most popular screen resolutions on a mid-sized website in 2006 and in 2013. 1024x768 was taking a lion's share in 2006 but there's no clear winner in 2013. Websites that were designed to be best viewed in 1024x768 look much worse on the majority of screens nowadays.

What EU officials are the best paid? The ombudsman office really stands out!

Average salary per EU institutions, 2012 budget.

European Parliament	109,354.29 EUR
European Council and Council	98,659.59 EUR
European Commission	133,042.28 EUR
Court of Justice of the European Union	120,409.29 EUR
Court of Auditors	110,742.09 EUR
European Economic and Social Committee	87,223.82 EUR
Committee of the Regions	92,775.27 EUR
European Ombudsman	239,840.80 EUR
European Data Protection Supervisor	98,468.52 EUR
European External Action Service	80,869.68 EUR

How much of the EU bugdet goes into the salaries of EU officials?

It's not obvious to find these numbers in the budget, so we'll have to use a hack. EU permanent staff pays 10.25% of their salaries to the pension fund. Pension contributions are accounted for as revenue, so they are consolidated the section 4 1 0 here. For 2012, pension contributions were at 483mln euros. By means of a simple extrapolation, we can now evaluate the amount paid in salaries to 4.7 bln euros, i.e. 6.5% of the EU budget. With the number of permanent position at 38 482, this gives an average of ~122 000 euros/year salary.

Naturally, the distribution of income is rather unequal at the instititions, with high earners being paid 7 times more that low earners (18 370 vs 2 654 euros/months base salary)