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Comment: Re:Expensive (Score 1) 105

by xaxa (#49493477) Attached to: UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels

Bored railway tunnels are only single-track, usually with two parallel bores. Here are some good photos, I believe the "cathedral"-sized cavern was built by digging down from ground level. The finished tunnel diameter is 6.1m.

The London Post Office Railway has 2.7m tunnels, so is pretty much what you want. It was shut down after the introduction of the Congestion Charge, since that removed enough traffic that it was then cheaper to use surface vehicles.

Comment: Re: Easy grammar (Score 2) 623

If English had official "tones" like Mandarin, we could distinguish between meanings of "fuck" used as a verb in writing, to visually indicate things like sarcasm. Actually, in a way, English *does* have an informal "system" of indicating the equivalent of _tones_ -- quotation marks, underlines, italics, boldface, and wikitext markup.

This is not what tones are like in Mandarin. Different tones change the meaning of individual words completely.

ma1 (high, level tone): mother

ma2 (rising tone): hemp

ma3 (falling then rising tone): horse

ma4 (falling tone): to curse

ma5 (no tone): makes a sentence into a question, a bit like adding "right?" (rising tone?) to a sentence in English.

Sarcasm in English applies to the whole sentence, and the tone is applied to the whole sentence, not the individual words.

(Also, a homonym is a word like "minute" (time, small). It's Latin for same-word. You described a same-sound, a homophone. This would be easy if English derived technical terms from smaller English words.)

Comment: Re:Money money (Score 1) 190

by xaxa (#49429213) Attached to: How do you contribute to open source projects?

Apparently as of this month, company account data for British companies (which Canonical is) is available for free download. It's a set of large zip files, and I can't find a nice website with an interface over it -- perhaps something will appear in the next few months.


Accounts data: http://download.companieshouse...

Company data: http://download.companieshouse...

Company number 06870835, "CANONICAL GROUP LIMITED".

Comment: Re: What an Embarrassingly Vapid Article (Score 5, Insightful) 477

I wonder about uber driverless. Without a person, what prevents people from trashing the car?

The same thing that prevents people trashing buses, or train carriages. Most people simply don't.

More than the train/bus, there's probably a record of exactly who hired the car, and before/during/after CCTV pictures can be recorded.

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 1) 139

by xaxa (#49377783) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

In England we call them, much more accurately, train drivers.

Interestingly, in France we call them chauffeurs, as in heaters. Because they used to have to shovel coal under the steam engine long before they could start them. And taxi and truck drivers are still called this way. Etymology...

That is interesting -- because chauffer in English means the person who drives your limousine.

The man responsible for the fire on a steam locomotive is called a fireman. (It's actually moderately skilled -- the fire is large, and needs to be balanced, and provide the right level of heat, and not waste coal. I had a go when I was about 13, unofficially on a tourist steam railway.)

Comment: Re:Maybe useful, maybe not effective? (Score 1) 175

I don't think you even need your eyes open. When I was at school I was given a tour of the local pharmacutical R&D company's facility. They had trouble with animal rights protesters, so the fence would alert security if it was knocked by a person and bring up the appropriate CCTV camera to that panel.

Comment: Re:Freedom, liberty and privacy, and the police (Score 1) 160

by xaxa (#49249625) Attached to: LAPD Police Claim Helicopters Stop Crimes Before They Happen

cops walking (note that walking and driving are NOT the same) a beat

I've heard the same thing. I wonder if it's because walking is slower than driving (stop beating the guy for a second as the car passes), or if it's because seeing 'people' has more of an effect.

Some of both, I think. Cars are very anonymous, and the driver will (hopefully) be concentrating on driving rather than observing.

A police officer on a bicycle can be a good halfway: they're still very much human (can speak and be heard, can stop immediately without blocking the road) but they can cover a wider area. Depending on local geography, they can get to some places faster than by car. About half the police I see around here (London, but not the centre) are on bicycles.

Comment: Re:Does AliBaba have them listed yet? (Score 2) 156

But the important question - Do they work?

Probably, but probably not especially well. Spend a bit more for the Chinese watch that isn't trying to be Apple, where the effort has gone into features, not imitation.

My flatmate bought an "iPhone 6" in Albania for about £40. He was convinced it was real, to the point that he's contacted Apple UK support because it wouldn't charge properly.

I haven't handled an iPhone 6, but I thought the buttons seemed a bit wobbly, although the rest of the case was convincing. The graphics were spot on, and smooth enough that I wasn't certain it was fake (I thought it could be stolen). What gave it away was pressing "iTunes Apps" opened the Android "Manage Applications" screen. There were a few other apps, settings etc that opened Android things but had Apple labels.

It could have been OK, a cheap phone with an Apple-like interface. Except the touchscreen was so shoddy it was impossible to dial "#" (I wanted "#*#*INFO*#*#"), and it won't recognise the SIM.

Comment: Re:piratebay proxies (Score 1) 113

by xaxa (#49227925) Attached to: UK ISPs Quietly Block Sites That List Pirate Bay Proxies LU up Very Fast

... and blocked by Sky — but I shouldn't be surprised when I have internet supplied by an enourmous TV company. That's provided by the Luxembourg Pirate Party, but I guess the British police/courts have no issue interfering with e.g. the British Green Party's campaigns when it suits them.

(Others on that list aren't blocked.)

Comment: Re:It says something bad about the US (Score 1) 734

by xaxa (#49197517) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

I've done four road trips, about 8-10 weeks travel in total, stopping in at least 26 states. I've passed through or changed planes in a few more, but I don't count those. (In fairness, all except three of these states were when I was a child, and we only visited France and Ireland as a family.)

My US relatives (in their 40s) get two weeks leave a year, and tend to visit family.

The lack of Americans is most evident when backpacking. I was in Ecuador last year. You can divide the backpackers into students and non-students. There are some American students, but disproportionately few American non-students. (I'd expected to see more Americans on my first trip to South America, but it was little different to Asia.)

Comment: Re:It says something bad about the US (Score 1) 734

by xaxa (#49195107) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Americans don't travel as much, even in the US. They don't have much holiday time.

Many Europeans don't leave the EU, although I'd guess it's more common to visit the US than the other way round.

US culture between states is less diverse than Europe, but it does differ. Geography and climate differs more, although you need to remember some of northern Europe is arctic, which makes up for not having any desert. I think you'll find a bigger difference between Ireland, Austria, Estonia and France than any four US states you care to pick. If non-EU is allowed how about Belarus, Albania, Iceland and Georgia?

I've been to West Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Colorado. I've travelled through Alabama, by train (brief stop in Birmingham). I've been to/through Sioux City, so it seems I just missed Minnesota. I've not yet met an American who's been to more states than I have! But my parents' idea of a family holiday was a road trip.

Comment: Re:It says something bad about the US (Score 1) 734

by xaxa (#49192515) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

I can't think of any disadvantage to me gaining an additional European Union citizenship, with some exceptions (e.g. Estonia has military service).

Many millions of Europeans live in a different country to their citizenship. It's probably a lot more common than for US citizens, for all kinds of people (from the unemployed to millionaires), so the issues were solved long ago.

(I think there can be cases where if you don't live in a country "full time" you can lose the right to things like free healthcare, but that's separate.)

Comment: Re:Why not run with it? (Score 1) 223

by xaxa (#49184011) Attached to: <em>Star Trek</em> Fans Told To Stop "Spocking" Canadian $5 Bill

British paper money currently features (£5-10-20-50) Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer), Charles Darwin, Adam Smith (philosopher) and James Watt and Matthew Boulton (engineers), so there shouldn't be a problem from the queen. But I think people tend to have been dead for a while.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir