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Comment: Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 1) 273 273

Hmm, I'm not sure about that. There are quite a few players in Australia as well - 2 majors (Qantas, Virgin) and a bunch of minors and LCCs (Jetstar, Tiger, etc.). Not all that different from the US with the three majors (post-merger), considering the US population is 15x greater.

And Sydney-Melbourne is the world's 3rd busiest route in terms of aircraft movements, and 5th busiest route in terms of number of passengers.* On both metrics it surpasses ~any~ single route in the US. So Aussies do know the value of frequency. And airport congestion in Australia is surely less than in the US (IAD, ORD, SFO etc are clusterf***s as soon as there's any kind of weather or other disruption).

I just think that the flying public in Australia simply wouldn't stand for some of the penny pinching moves that carriers do in the US - there'd be a revolt. The majors all run similar routes at similar frequencies and so they really do compete more on the passenger experience than the do in the US.

Don't get me wrong, I get the need for the RJs between mid-sized cities, of which the US has many and Australia not so much (Australian cities are oddly distributed in terms of size - they're either massive metros or tiny towns, not much in the 100k-500k range other than Canberra and a couple of others). It just seems weird to me that 70% of flights between say, Chicago and Toronto (two of the very biggest cities in North America) are on RJs.


Comment: Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 1) 273 273

Well, the EMB-190s aren't too bad. It's the 120s and 175s I can't stand :) On paper they don't look too bad since they have 1-2 or 2-2 configs but the fuselage curves inwards at at low height so much that you end up having to hold your head at a weird angle if you have a window seat...

Comment: Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 3, Insightful) 273 273

Yep. I moved from Australia to the US a couple of years ago. I am a very frequent flier (140+ segments per year).

In Australia it was never a problem getting overhead space because:

(a) The carry on bag size limits were enforced

(b) Most airlines (including the major two - Qantas and Virgin) allow one checked bag as part of the ticket price (I won't say 'free', but it's not charged as an extra fee)

(c) Less of those godforsaken small regional jets (EMB 120s, 175s and CRJ 200s and 700s in particular) that have tiny overhead bins. The proportion of flights in the US (and Canada) that these aircraft amazes me. You get them even between major (4M+ population) cities. You'd never get anything smaller than a 737 or A320 in Australia between major city pairs.

Having said that, addressing (a) and/or (b) alone would probably be enough to solve the issue in North America.

Comment: "Still" have followers? (Score 2) 147 147

"Still" have followers? Mechanical keyboards have been making a huge comeback for years, and are pretty much a standard for gaming and other high-end self-built machines now. You don't have to spend anywhere near $500 to get a good one either. This article/video sounds like it was written for an audience from six years ago or something.

Love my Corsair K95. Marketed as a gaming keyboard (it's got fancy LEDs and 18 macro keys etc.) but works well for long coding sessions too.

Comment: Re:I still have dial-up (Score 1) 153 153

My DSL provider actually provides free dialup with every account, for emergencies and/or if you're on the road and just need to check your mail or something. I didn't even know about it until I saw a mention of it in some obscure corner of their website. Tried it for a laugh and hey, it worked! :P

Comment: Re:Exede (Score 1) 153 153

It's pretty much unusable. Even what looks like a relatively simple, plain site these days is hundreds of kilobytes in size (which, when you are downloading at maybe 3 or 4 kB/s, takes quite a while to load!)

It's not just a matter of 'patience' either, as many sites actually fail to render properly as the downloading of various page elements just times out.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 532 532

How can a single payer (the government) 'screw up' that badly though? All they are is the PAYER, not the entity providing medical treatment. All they do is pay the bill. The worst screw up they could manage is ... not paying. In which case it's their problem, not yours.

Writing from the perspective of someone living in a single payer healthcare country here (Australia), where the government pays the bill (or most of it at least). Doctors clinics themselves are still private businesses - I can pick any doctor I want and switch at will. "Single payer" means precisely that: single ~payer~ (i.e. the government pays the doctor, or reimburses me for what I've already paid to them). The Canadian system is different. It is indeed single payer but the problems your extended family are describing aren't related to that aspect of the system.

PS. I've lived in Canada, the UK, Australia and the US. The former three are all 'single payer universal' systems but all are different in terms of the actual provision of treatment side of things.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 532 532

Uh, living in a country with single payer universal healthcare Australia ... that's exactly how it works. If I want to go to the doctor right now, I can pick any doctor whatsoever and just ... go there. (Obviously in reality I'd call and make an appointment first to make sure they have time to fit me in, but then, you do that in America too).

What ever gave you the idea that you can't go to the doctor whenever you feel like it? That'd be a pretty awful system - indeed part of the reason why universal health care has better health outcomes in the first place is BECAUSE there's no cost barriers to going to the doctor. You can go when you feel you need it and not put something off because of cost. Prevention/early detection is better than cure after all.

Now if you're talking about hospital treatment, then yes, on occasion you may need to wait. Same as if you showed up at emergency ... you get triaged. Waiting a month or two to get treated for something that isn't urgent and won't affect the final outcome is fine. But if you need treatment or surgery ASAP for something serious - you'll get it.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 532 532

Single payer doesn't necessarily imply single ~provider~ (though, in some countries, it does). I live in Australia, which has a single-payer universal system. But I can choose to go to any doctor I want. Those doctors' clinics are still private practices and the doctors are not government employees or members of any wider 'system'. It's just that when I go to the front counter to pay the bill at the end, the government foots some or all of the bill (depending on what was actually done during the consultation).

We have private hospitals in addition to the public ones, and you can still choose to get private health insurance if you want it (indeed, the government gives you a tax incentive to do so, since you are less of a burden on the public system if you also have private insurance). But it's not required. The point is though that 'single payer' does not mean "no options". You have just as many options as you did before in terms of ~treatment~ providers ... but you now no longer have to worry about choosing ~insurance~ as well (though, you still can if you really want).

Comment: Re:The answers show how behind the times the US is (Score 1) 125 125

250 GB might blow, but generally markets where monthly download/upload allowances are the norm, also offer a RANGE of plans with different download allowances. His limit is probably 250 GB because he chose a 250 GB plan, because that met his needs. He could pay a bit more and upgrade to a higher limit if needed.

I'm guessing here of course, but I've lived in several countries with download allowances of this nature, and in all cases, my download 'limit' was self-imposed by the plan I chose. A typical ISP in a country like Australia will have low end plans with maybe 30 or 50 GB per month, some midrange plans in the 'couple of hundred GB' range, and high end plans with 1 TB and upwards per month. All at the same speed and identical in every respect except download limit and price.

Comment: Re:Since last move (Score 1) 125 125

The problem is, DSL is becoming less and less a 'real' option. Vast areas which have 'DSL' service are still only ADSL1, which technically maxes out at 8 Mbps downstream but is sold in most markets in tiers up to 6 Mbps (e.g. 768kbps, 1.5 Mbps, 3 Mbps, 6 Mbps). 6 Mbps downstream is pretty limiting these days, to say nothing of the awful upstream bitrates (384kbps? what a joke)

ADSL2+ (up to 24 Mbps down), VDSL, and VDSL2 (which can be as fast as cable if your line length is short) are better but not available in many places. Plus it's often hard to tell what you can get as ISPs obscure the actual technology used behind a generic product name (e.g. Uverse is delivered either over ADSL2+ or VDSL, depending on location, and the only way you can find out is by applying and seeing what speeds they'll offer you).

Comment: Re:should be a long time for most people (Score 1) 125 125

I'm a Charter customer (relatively new, just under 2 years now). I just have standalone internet though. No phone, no TV. Wondering what specifically you've found that sucks about them.

For me, using them for internet only, they seem fine. I've been quite happy:

- Seems to perform as advertised (60 Mbps down, 4 Mbps up)
- Downtime so far has been in the 'couple of hours per year' range, which is fine for a residential connection.
- I have servers at home and they don't seem to block any incoming ports (or at least, none of the ports I use)
- Price was good for the first year (29.99/month). It's now higher ($47.46/month including my local taxes), but that's still "OK".

Maybe I've been lucky - any horror stories you want to share? :)

Comment: One (Score 1) 301 301

Just 1 would probably do it - occasionally I still have to copy some files to/from a USB stick or external hard drive, or download things off a camera. Don't think I'd ever need to do more than one of those at the same time. This is assuming that the same port ~isn't~ also used for other necessary things like ethernet and charging (ala the new Macbook).

Comment: Re:Some quick math (Score 1) 124 124

Notwithstanding the dodgy 1% calculation, Pandora is only available in three countries:

USA: population ~318M
Australia: population ~24M
New Zealand: population ~4M

So you only have a total population of ~346 million people who could even ~potentially~ be Pandora subscribers.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.