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Comment Re: We don't bother with sidearms, we use BIG GUNS (Score 1) 292

It's more that an MP5 is standard issue for ordinary day-to-day duties by regular friendly bobbies on the beat, whereas an SA-80 or AR-15 indicates a specialist firearms officer who is only called in for extremely serious "incidents".

MP5 = friendly

SA-80 || AR-15 = Bugger off before you get caught in the crossfire

Comment We don't bother with sidearms, we use BIG GUNS (Score 4, Interesting) 292


It's a big mistake to think that the British police are unarmed. They're not.

They just don't bother with piddling little pistols.

If you're going to have a gun, have a BIG GUN.

Other than for plain-clothed detectives working undercover, pistols are pretty much laughed at by the British police. Compare the stopping power of a weeny little Colt or a Glock to that of an MP5 sub-machine gun, G36 assault rifle or (God help you if you see one of these - strongly suggest you change your plans for that day) an SA-80 or AR-15 assault rifle.

Although British police don't routinely carry sidearms, in high crime urban areas they will carry SMGs or assault rifles in a locked gun cabinet in the boot (trunk) of their car. In extremely difficult or vulnerable areas such as airports or tourist hotspots, they will carry MP5s around, mixing in with the crowd. The bobbies carrying MP5s are very nice blokes, feel free to strike up a conversation with them. Just back off the ones carrying SA-80s and AR-15s, there's a good chap.

Our largest island is only 700 miles long. Where on earth are you going to run to, that a radioed-ahead armed response unit can't get to first?

I can fully understand why lots of larger countries have routinely armed police - calling for backup could take hours. But it's extremely difficult to outrun the police radio on an island only 700 miles long with a heavily-armed SMG & assault rifle unit every 25 miles or so, and CCTV at every trunk road junction (interstate intersection).

(The police at Birmingham Airport used to have those truly lovely-looking P90 bullpup rifles for manoeuvrability in corridors & aeroplanes; from my recent visit it looks like they've swapped over to MP5s - a shame as the bullpups just looked like a wonderfully practical bit of design. I once saw West Midlands Police using one of those wacky Steyr Augs - again, lovely design - but seem to have standardised now on SA-80s and AR-15s. There seems to be a lot more standardisation across the various regional firearms units these days. Probably very practical from a co-ordinated response point of view, but a lot less showy from a nerd point of view.)

Comment Re:You can switch it off. (Score 1) 195

What would be even better would be if those adults responsible for children, could have some way of banding together with other adults, and could make decisions together, so that they didn't have to keep repeating each other's mistakes.

And I suggest this be named "democracy".

What is this "gov't permission" of which you speak? Government ain't nothing but the will of the people.

Yeah, I know we Brits have a hereditary head of state, but she has no practical power beyond a bit of ceremony; everything is in the hands of democracy. This includes our decision to have filters by default, to have ubiquitous CCTV and to not buddy up to gun nuts who want to invade foreign countries on flimsy evidence.

Feel free to come back and lecture us about democracy when your head of state doesn't have a one-man veto on bombings.

Comment Re:What about roaming users? (Score 1) 195

>I am not a UK citizen, but travel from time to time to the UK.
>How do those filters interfere with my roaming Internet access?

(Assuming your mobile provider in your home country has half a clue, then...)

They don't affect it. The filtering is done at the access point (APN). Whilst roaming, your APN remains the same - data is transmitted back and forth between your home carrier's APN.

(If your home network's provide is clueless, they may require you to change your APN to the foreign network's APN when roaming. In that case, the filtering would kick in. But, seriously, pick a better provider.)

However if you were to purchase a British SIM card for use in the UK, and use that in your unlocked smart device, and use the British APN, then the filtering would kick in. You would then typically have to visit your British service provider's online account system (e.g. log in to the billing system) and turn the filter off (usually log in and one click, which it is with GiffGaff).

Comment Island? Great Britain, we do things different here (Score 1) 195

girlintraining wrote:
>Anyone who uses a 'best interests of the children' argument
>should be immediately shipped to an island populated entirely
>by other people just like them ... Put them all on the island,
> setup cameras,

The island is called Great Britain[1], do feel free to visit us. Everyone over the age of about, oh, five, has a mobile phone. 3G mobile data and fibreoptic broadband has near-complete coverage in all of the island's urban and suburban areas, with rollout plans for all rural areas except the Scottish Highlands. We also have CCTV cameras covering pretty much every urban area and all major roads on the island.

British people value "doing the right thing" above freedom. Freedom includes the freedom of the strong to persecute the weak, and we don't think that that's the right thing.

We Brits have an extremely conservative attitude to child safety. For example, any adult who visits a school during school hours more than twice a year, is required to undergo a background check. Missing child investigations instantly lock-down nearby borders- try to board a ferry to the European continent with your young family during a missing child alert, and you can guarantee you'll questioned and checked quite thoroughly (been there done that, especially when my youngest matched the missing child description).

You may not like filter-by-default, but it is, at least, consistent with our other national child safety policies. We are not the USA, and whilst we are friends, we don't always think the USA does the right thing.

We rate fairness above freedom. It's fair to filter all mobile data by default, if and only if, it is very easy for an adult to turn that filter off. That provision makes it fair, makes it British.

Seriously, I'm with GiffGaff and turning the filter off/on is one checkbox on a webpage, and that webpage isn't difficult to find (log in to GiffGaff's website; click Phone Settings, job done). There is no human interaction. It's monumentally simple. It's on the same web page as the checkbox to turn billing notification off (by default, GiffGaff text you after every call, telling you your balance). I turned it off, no problem; it covers all 18+ services such as betting too.

I found the filter made it an easier decision to me when deciding whether to give my eldest daughter a smart device. Sure, I could have set the DNS to OpenDNS Family Filter (which is what I did with her Linux laptop, and frankly I think all shop-bought PCs sold with operating systems should have that by default) but this setting on GiffGaff just made my life easier.

The problem with setting DNS on a smart device, compared with a laptop, is that there is no concept of sudo on Android, and a pretty poor implementation of admin rights. Any user (or permissioned app, for that matter) can change the DNS. So having a service-provider-level filter is quite handy for smart devices in a country where 95% of kids own one long before the age of ten.

When she's old enough to take on the account's bills, she can decide whether to turn GiffGaff's filter off on her smart device. And when she's experienced enough to be entrusted with sudo she can reset her laptop's domain name servers to whatever she likes.

Don't get me wrong, it would be better for Android et al to introduce proper superuser-based security. But until the vast majority of them do that, provider-level filtering remains consistent with child safety law in England and Wales.

[1] There's another Petit Bretagne - Little Britain - in what is now north-western France. They're descended from Cornish Celts and speak a dialect of Welsh. "Great Britain" in this context just means "the big island", not any statement of superiority.

Comment Re:But what if your friends work there? (Score 1) 224

That's the old "Terrorists might..." argument. Sure, terrorists *might* do anything. The question is, which of those billions of possibilities are the highest risk and most likely?

Cheltenham's Largest Employer remains Cheltenham's Largest Employer regardless. There's no need to specifically target anywhere in particular, there are so many workers that you could pick any gathering of people in town and hit an employee. "Terrorists might" attack pretty much anywhere in or around town, and be guaranteed to score.

There are several far higher, clearly labelled soft targets:

The fact that a communications intercept base employs a lot of geeks who like D&D and sci-fi quizzes is not a security revelation.

Comment But what if your friends work there? (Score 2) 224

I live in Cheltenham. Moving my social networking to a decentralised model won't stop The Man snooping on my social network activity; like anyone who lives near Cheltenham several my social network friends work at Cheltenham's Largest Employer anyway. I'd be pretty annoyed if they *weren't* reading my updates. They'd better damned well turn up for Dungeons & Dragons tonight (I've bought pizza, even though I'm skint this month), and we've got the Geek Pub Quiz in a couple of months - if the spooks don't know about that, our team will be completely missing any Tolkien, Lovecraft or Star Trek experts. Two wins in six games, although I suspect our next victory won't be until the Oct/Nov session where Doctor Who will be the main topic. Spooks or no spooks, our team will be all over that one. And I'm kinda hoping that my expression of interest in seeing World War Z (ZED, goddamnit) will mean that one of my kids' godparents will volunteer to babysit.

Comment Re:BBC broadcast services and timezones (Score 1) 487

Yeah, the BBC's domestic services *are* available in some overseas countries/territories, but unlike the Spanish national services, the BBC domestic channels only use the one timezone.

There are three ways to receive BBC domestic channels overseas:

1. Officially, through a directly supported relay from the BBC, such as the Falkland Islands relay. These are typically British overseas military bases or very low population remote islands that are entirely or almost entirely dependent upon the British government for their continuing existence. Coverage to British overseas military bases has increased significantly since the British Forces Broadcasting Service started offering BBC1 and BBC2 to all military bases as of March 2013.

2. Officially, through a third-party supplier with a paid agreement with the BBC. For example, most Netherlands cable services provide BBC1 and BBC2 domestic TV; the BBC charge the Netherlands cable firms around 15 eurocents per year per customer.

3. Unofficially, through signal overspill or by use of an internet gateway or proxy. For example, most of the northern and eastern parts of the Republic of Ireland can receive British terrestrial television from transmitters in Northern Ireland or Wales. Most parts of northern and western Europe can receive British satellite television from the Astra 2D satellite (although you may need a larger than normal dish). And although the BBC restrict access to their online streaming television to British IP addresses, this can be circumvented if you have a server hosted in the UK and perform some simple port forwarding or proxying. The server's bandwidth needs to be up to scratch, though.

Methods 1 and 2 are usually the England or London variants of the BBC domestic channels. Method 3 will get you whatever you tune in to - BBC1 Wales, BBC2 Northern Ireland, BBC1 Midlands etc. All of the domestic TV channels in all of the regional variants are available unencrypted on the Astra 2D satellite.

No matter which method you use to get BBC domestic channels overseas, it will only use the one timezone; GMT in winter, BST in summer. Even on BFBS military base relays in, say, Afganistan, you will get GMT/BST programming. So in Afghanistan, on a British military base, you will get the BBC1 News At Six at half-past nine at night (because Afghanistan's timezone is three-and-a-half hours ahead). You will also get the BBC1 London and BBC2 England variants for regional programming, there is no separate programming for overseas reception (there used to be, though - the BBC1 satellite channel used to have a special compilation of the "best of" regional news stories; this was dropped when all of the regional variants were put on Astra 2D).

Comment BBC broadcast services and timezones (Score 4, Informative) 487

The BBC domestic services only use GMT/BST (Greenwich Mean Time in winter, British Summer Time in summer). One time zone. Although they can be received in other countries in other timezones - for example BBC1 and BBC2 domestic TV channels are provided on cable in the Netherlands - no reference is made to those other timezones.

The BBC's overseas services primarily use GMT but are broadcast regionally (e.g. "Middle East", "West Africa") where they may optionally mention secondary timezones on-air. For example, the BBC World Service's South Asia radio broadcasts may say "It's eleven hours GMT, fifteen-thirty hours in Delhi."

The BBC has no European radio service any more. European relays of the BBC World Service, including the relay on Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio inside the UK, use the African stream. This primarily uses GMT but occasionally additionally references a secondary timezone in a major African city such as Johannesburg or Lagos. There is a specific African breakfast news programme on the BBC World Service's African stream, presented jointly from London and Johannesburg, tailored around the morning hours across several African timezones.

Live presenters on the BBC World Service may also announce the time as simply "minutes past the hour" without referencing which hour they're referring to, for example "It's twenty minutes past the hour". These are particularly prevalent for African streams. These "minutes past" timechecks are avoided in regions with timezones that are offset by 30 minutes, such as India.

BBC overseas TV timezones fit into two categories; regional and worldwide. Worldwide services such as the BBC World news channel or BBC Entertainment do not usually reference the time as spoken word, but instead represent the time using on-screen graphics. The graphics will show GMT plus a selection of 3-5 timezones appropriate to the region the stream is broadcast to. For example, the European stream of BBC World will use GMT, Central European time and Moscow time. These are typically shown as full-screen text announcements for future programming (e.g. "Hard Talk, Mon-Fri at 08:30 GMT, 10:30 CEST, 12:30 Moscow" for the European stream). Where programming is shared between regions, they may either use opt-outs for regional time displays or use a more general subset of timezones (e.g. GMT, EST, India; very rarely, GMT is omitted in favour of CET).

Regional overseas TV services such as BBC America or BBC Arabic will use whatever timezones that region uses and will cope with it just like local domestic services. They will not generally use GMT.

Comment Your family inherits your data (Score 1) 122

I realise that we all like to make jokes about Slashdot readers being nerds and never having a girlfriend, but seriously... by the time most of us die, we will be married with kids and grandchildren.

If you're a newbie geek, under 20, maybe even under 30, chances are you might be single, sure.

But don't believe the stereotype. You won't be single forever.

Once you get over 30, and your attractive-to demographic becomes 25+ , CHICKS DIG STABILITY. Yeah, sure, your dream girl at school rejected you for some sports moron, but now that sports moron is working for minimum wage, he doesn't look so attractive any more. Over 25, people start looking for stability, for a partner who can provide a good steady income, for someone they can start a family with.

If you're over 30 and have a steady job that pays well enough to afford a car that doesn't break down and somewhere to live that has more than one bedroom, that is pretty much all you need to get hitched. Just join a club that has members of the opposite sex in it, and stuff will just happen. Relax, you're male, your biological clock is not running out, theirs is.

After that, you just write down a master pass-phrase to a master email account (e.g. the email account which is the registrant for your vanity domain), seal it in an envelope and ask your bank or whoever drew up your will to look after it. Then your family inherits your data by using that master email account to unlock everything else.

I've written a complete Handbook For The Recently Bereaved for my missus, that contains a complete list of where my will is, who our phoneline and utilities are with, who my various pensions are with, where all our family photos are stored (all she knows right now, is that when she clicks a symbolic linked directory, the photos just appear), etc. But if it came down to it, as next of kin holding my death certificate, she wouldn't need a master pass-phrase, she could just use a lawyer to get the hosting company to hand it over. And she knows enough of my geeky friends to find someone who'll help her track down where our data is stored (if you're reading this, dear, that little black box on my book shelf, that is what is called a "NAS" and it has two hard drives both containing identical "mirrored" copies of all our family photos and home videos; there's also a portable harddrive at my parents house with a backup, and if my parents are dead, I'll have moved that drive to my sister's house).

Comment Re:Slashdot - News by Morons (Score 4, Informative) 75

>The only people buying As are the ones who don't know how to find Bs

Bzzt. Wrong. Model A is the low-power version preferred by the "maker" community, as having no ethernet and no built-in USB hub, it consumes just 300mA / 1.5W compared to Model B's 600mA / 3.5W. Connect a Model A to a cheapo "emergency phone charger" and you can go for quite a while. Adding a USB nano bluetooth adaptor or wifi adaptor edges up the consumption by 100-150mA, still well under the Model B.

If you're looking for something to be the heart of something battery powered, like a remote control car, mobile robot or something you can port around with you, the Model A is where you want to be. Well, assuming you want a "full" Linux box - if your project only requires very minimal computing power then an Arduino will cost even less, but you usually have to control it from another PC.

Comment Re:My experience on ubuntu 12.04 (Score 1) 474

You're right. One package. No dependencies. In particular, missing the cutting-edge graphics card drivers that the Steam program nags you to install under Linux, which then - in my experience - break themselves, or worse, break X. When it comes to closed-source graphics card drivers under Linux, I'm with Linus Torvalds.

I love Linux. I love Steam. But Steam on Linux, even for a beta, seems half-arsed. It feels like it installs the way that MS Windows programs install - i.e. badly.

If the end game of this, is better graphics card drivers under Linux, then it will all have been worth it. Hopefully Valve, as the world's largest games retailer, will have the oomph to force AMD/ATI and Nvidia to pull their finger out.

Comment Re:My experience on ubuntu 12.04 (Score 0) 474

Why on EARTH would you need to download stuff in a browser? Why don't you just go to your package manager and pick the file from the repository? Isn't downloading random executables and installers off the web incredibly dangerous? Perhaps that's why you have to use a virus scanner? No need for that with a Linux repository - everything is digitally signed by an authoritative source.

Oh, wait, you're on Windows. You don't have a package manager. You don't have an authoritative software repository. You just randomly download sh*t and hope for the best.

The problem with Steam is that Valve have not integrated it into the existing Linux software repositories. That means it's just as godawful to install on Linux as it is on Windows.

If Valve just packaged it up and put it on a repo, such as an Ubuntu Launchpad PPA, together with all the prerequisites/dependencies, this whole fuss would be null. And I wouldn't have wasted 3 hours of my life trying to fix a graphics card driver dependency problem.

Comment Answer: Double cab trucks not tax deductable in UK (Score 2) 717

epyT-R wrote:
>The F150 is used by just about every contractor/construction
>worker in the US. Pretty much anyone who's involved in
>building/making anything of significant mass ends up with one
>at some point.

I think this argument does have some merit. We Brits are comparing the F-150 with family cars, whereas your post indicates that it is used both as a family car AND a tradesman's vehicle.

In the UK, a tradesman with a family would typically own both a Ford Transit PLUS a small/medium family car.

In the UK a tradesman would not own one vehicle to perform both work and family tasks, since (and here's the clincher) the British tax system penalises tradesmen for using their work vehicles for family purposes; for example, there is a restriction on claiming tax back on "double cab" vehicles unless you can prove that you frequently move more than 3 workmen around in the same vehicle. Using tax-deductable expenses such as vehicles for domestic purposes is viewed, in the UK, as cheating the tax system.

Whereas, if a British tradesman buys a single-cab van or truck, the cost is much easier to claim against tax. So a tradesman's family will buy a gas-guzzling van for the tradesman, which he will essentially get for free if he pays enough tax, and a cheap-to-run medium-sized MPV for the homemaker (or maybe even a compact/hatchback).

If you start comparing an F-150 with a Ford Transit (the most popular trade vehicle in the UK), rather than a family MPV, then the F-150 starts looking like less of a monster.

Engine size (basic): F-150 3.5 litres, Transit 2.4 litres
HP: F-150 365, Transit 140
Torque (Nm): 570, Transit 285
Length: F-150 5.8 metres, Transit 5 metres
Width: F-150 2 metres, Transit 2 metres
Height: F-150 1.9 metres, Transit 2 metres
Kerb weight: F-150 2 tonnes, Transit 1.8 tonnes

What's interesting here is that, with the Ecoboost engine, the F-150 is a far, far more efficient work vehicle than the Transit, both in terms of horsepower (where you would expect the F-150 to win) and in terms of torque (where you would expect the Transit to win).

When you factor in dual use for both trades and family, the F-150 suddenly looks like a very sensible purchase even by European standards.

Now there's something you don't see every day; a discussion on Slashdot actually discovering an answer. What do Americans use the F-150 for? Answer: As a multi-purpose vehicle for both trades and domestic family use, a purpose which is almost entirely absent from the British market due to the way tax claims are made more difficult for mixed-use capital expenditure.

Comment What do Americans use the F-150 for? (Score 4, Informative) 717

Blimey. Just had a look at the Ford F-150. To provide an overview for my fellow Britons:

That thing (F-150) is five and a half metres long, two metres wide and one point nine metres tall. Even if you're really, really tall, you still wouldn't be able to see over the roof, you'd still be able to lie down in it sideways, and it would take six paces to walk from the front bumper to the rear. It won't fit into a standard European parking space through the two horizontal dimensions, and won't fit vertically through most multi-storey car park "Max Headroom" barriers either. It weighs over two tonnes even before you put anyone or anything inside it.

For comparison, a massive gas-guzzling British car such as the Vauxhall Zafira 7-seater has a maximum engine size of 1.9 litres, produces only 148hp and weighs 1.5 tonnes.

The F-150's smallest engine is 3.5 litres and produces 350hp. That is roughly the same as a high-end BMW 5-series. Yup, their smallest engine is the same as a top-end BMW engine. That 3.5 litre, 350hp engine is branded the "eco" version.

I could understand this if Americans drove everywhere. But from my repeated and frequent trips to the USA, my experience is - they don't. They drive hardly anywhere - they generally just drive to the shops or to work, plus a few outings to nearby towns and parks within a couple of hundred miles. Sure, Americans make a lot of journies, but they don't tend to be very long ones. Anywhere much further, they FLY and get a hire car. They don't generally, for example, take their cars on long-distance holidays like Europeans do. They don't ever get in their car in, say, New York and drive all the way to Charleston; they fly. Whereas lots of Europeans would think nothing of getting in our cars in, say, Manchester, and driving all the way to Bordeaux, or starting a journey in Rome and driving to Zurich.

So I'm mystified by what Americans use an F-150 for.

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