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Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 474

by Cimexus (#48935825) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

Yes as a comparison, I recently moved from Australia to the US. Similar sized city in both countries (~400k people).

In Australia I had a choice of ~30 ADSL2+ providers at up to 24/2 Mbps (down/up), plus around 4 or 5 VDSL2 providers offering a guaranteed 60/15 Mbps down/up. In each case the physical line the service was provided through was the same line, owned by the main telco, but many different providers could offer service over it.

In the US I have a choice of precisely one DSL provider at 6 Mbps/768 kbps down/up (ick), and precisely one cable provider who offers 60/4 Mbps DOCSIS3. Obviously I choice the cable provider. Thankfully they seem quite decent and I'm getting the advertised speeds. But if I had an issue with them ... I'd be screwed, since there's no other choice.

Cost was approximately the same in both countries. The US ISP has a nominal 300 GB cap but I don't think they enforce it. The many Australian ISPs I could choose from offered various plans with a range of caps: effectively pay more if you need more, pay less if you don't need much. For the same price as the US ISP I could get a 300-500 GB cap in Australia so it's basically comparable.

I was fairly lucky in Australia having the access to VDSL. A lot of people are stuck in areas where ADSL2+ is the top option. But even then at least you usually had dozens of ISPs to choose from. In America there's usually just 1 option per technology (i.e. one DSL, one cable, etc.)

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 2) 474

by Cimexus (#48935739) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

No the way it works is that government builds and maintains the infrastructure - the physical cables and such - but then leases access to this infrastructure out to private companies so that those companies can offer retail services to the consumer on it. In countries/regions that have done this, the government itself isn't in the business of actually being your ISP, and it's not interested in doing so.

Comment: Re:great. now lets remove the ban on (Score 1) 276

by Cimexus (#47321285) Attached to: Federal Judge Rules US No-fly List Violates Constitution

Uh, most (non-LCC) carriers outside of North America?

Hell, on Qantas in Australia (to take an example I know of, I'm sure there are others), you get fed in all classes, even on short 40 minute flights. Free drinks too, including wine or beer if it's a weekday flight after 5pm.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 1) 619

by Cimexus (#47278833) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

What you probably think is a good quality road, isn't, by international standards. There are decent roads around (interstates are usually OK - they are Federally funded of course) but a lot of state/county/local roads, in my area at least, are just shockingly bad. Cracks and uneven joints and poorly patched potholes everywhere. They had to lower the speed limit from 40 to 25 on one road near my place last winter because the cold temperatures had caused it to warp so badly.

Road markings are the other thing that are really bad in the US - often very faded, worn, and impossible to see at night or in the rain, even on major highways. In other countries these are bright, reflective white and with much more common/denser usage of cats eyes or raised reflective bumps.

Yes these are "first world problems" in some ways, but the ~average~ condition of US road infrastructure genuinely is worse than all other (developed) countries I've ,lived in - Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, France, the UK, Germany, Hong Kong. Raising gas tax may not be the solution - but infrastructure does need a big injection of funds from somewhere.

I also think some of the problem boils down to the inefficiency of having road maintenance managed at so many different levels of government - city/local, county, state, Federal. I know of a few roads in my area that don't get repaired because a town is fighting with the county about who has responsibility etc.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 4, Insightful) 619

by Cimexus (#47277017) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

As someone that moved to the US a couple of years ago but have previously lived in Europe, Japan and Australia - you guys do have very cheap fuel compared to virtually any other developed country you care to name.

Those other countries/regions are in decreasing order of cost ... while fuel in Australia is only maybe 1.5x the cost in the US, Europe is close to 2.5-3.0x.

The difference is of course down to the levels of taxation (the actual cost of oil/fuel itself is relatively similar everywhere on earth). But frankly, US roads are in terrible condition compared to the average road in those other regions I mentioned. I'd be glad to pay more for fuel if we could get some decent roads out of it. Most of them here in the Midwest are horribly bumpy and uneven ... patches upon patches upon patches on roads that really should have been completely ripped up and relayed years ago. I kind of understand now why cars don't seem to last as long in the US as in other countries - it's partly weather (particularly winter salt), but partly that they get slowly rattled to pieces death just by driving around!

Comment: Re:Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (Score 1) 465

In Australia at least, the football they play in America is referred to as gridiron, or simply 'American Football'.

Yes I am aware that in America, 'gridiron' refers to the field it's played on, not the game itself. However this is not the case elsewhere, for some unknown reason.

Rugby, in either of its incarnations (Rugby Union and Rugby League, which have quite different rules from each other), doesn't have downs. In League there's an enforced turnover of the ball if it hasn't been kicked downfield (which means it generally gets caught by the other team effecting a change in possession) within 6 plays ... but there's no 'minimum distance gained'-type requirement like downs.

Comment: Re:Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (Score 5, Insightful) 465

Even if it's not used in American English (which honestly, is surprising to me), it's not exactly obtuse or difficult to work it out. Putting ones tools down (and stopping work). What else could it mean? The only possible other interpretation is 'downing', as in 'consuming' ones tools, which obviously doesn't make any sense in this context.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 2) 320

It's virtually impossible to make a cellphone call from a plane in flight. Firstly, for all but a very small portion of its likely path, MH370 was over the open ocean (no cell towers out there). Secondly, even over land, a plane is a hollow metal cylinder and a rather effective Faraday cage. Unless you're flying low'n'slow (e.g. 9/11), holding a call is very diffcult. I've tried it before and while I might occasionally get a few bars worth of signal, it's not useable in the real world.

Comment: Re:And the "Target" Country is..... (Score 1) 320

I wonder if they've thought through what all this spying on 'allies' is doing to them, long term.

The change in attitudes towards the US in friendly, allied countries - the UKs and Australias and Canadas and Germanys of the world - has changed noticeably in the last 20 years. We quite liked you guys in the 90s. The US had a positive image and was an popular place to visit. But now you have a whole generation who is really quite anti-American. This shift in attitude started with Iraq (II), particularly in the countries that, due to treaty or otherwise, committed (and lost) troops to that conflict for what was felt to be no good reason. It deepened when you started treating tourists like criminals (taking first two, and then all ten fingerprints of everyone who enters, even just to transit and connect to another flight elsewhere). And now, all this NSA stuff is compounding the situation.

Diplomats and politicians and businessmen won't see much of this shift in attitude. In the circles they roam in (educated, generally middle-aged to older people), nothing much has changed. But there is a ~significant~ anti-American streak, in supposedly allied, Western countries, among younger people (say, the under-25s). It's not (usually) a burning hatred or anything as dramatic as that, more a general feeling of resentment and 'screw those guys'. Not seen as a place to visit as much either - quite a few of my friends 'wouldn't visit me in the US if [I] paid them' (I live in the US currently ... I move around a lot for work). Just seen as too much hassle with the fingerprinting and the scary, rude border officers (though, I personally think that's just an LAX thing ... SFO and DFW seem a lot friendlier!)

Whether this or justified or not is somewhat moot - that generation will eventually occupy the positions of influence and power in politics and business, and attitudes formed in youth are often difficult to change (although, they will generally mellow with age). The US is big and powerful and could reasonably argue its allies need it more than it needs them; nonetheless, they rely on friendly countries in obscure corners of the world for a lot of their ability to project military power (bases) and collect intel (communications installations, listening stations etc.) I just wonder if they've considered what a general shift in attitude towards the US in the rest of the western world would mean, long term...

Comment: Re:get real (Score 1) 320

Heh, I had to read that in my head in an American accent before I 'got it' ... to me they sound nothing alike.

But yeah, given how crappy most GSM (or other cell phone) calls sound, I'd be surprised if any text to speech system could do this en masse with enough accuracy to make it useful.

Comment: Re:Combined with the ringing phones ? (Score 3, Interesting) 382

Yes that is interesting. Although we are just going on hearsay to an extent. Is there PROOF that passengers' phones were ringing (i.e. those phones were definitely on the plane, and definitely rang)? Or is it just a case of some relatives believing what they want to believe (which I don't blame them for, in the traumatic situation they are in).

Furthermore there are other potential explanations for that, including phones auto-forwarded to other numbers or diverted to a malfunctioning voicemail or answering machine system when not in range of a tower. This is especially possible for internationally routed calls (which sometimes do some pretty weird things).

If it is true, it certainly does suggest that the plane remained flying (and at a low altitude) for some time after 'disappearing', or at least that the plane crashed somewhere within range of a cell tower and some phones survived the crash.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.