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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.

Comment IPV4 was designed for government use (Score 5, Insightful) 203

I think what people have forgotten here is quite how old the internet is, for how long the British have been involved in it, and how tightly integrated into British government it has been for a long, long time.

I'm sure Slashdotters don't need a history lesson on the origins on the internet; as a cold war military network designed to re-route traffic in the event of a nuclear strike on what would otherwise be single points of failure. What readers might need a reminder on, is the UK aspect of this early history.

Whilst the internet began as a US-only operation, within only a handful of years this had spread to the US' closest NATO ally, the British. Given that even us Brits cheerfully admit that, from a NATO perspective, our island is essentially a 700-mile long aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic that can never be sunk, the involvement of the UK in the early days of the internet should come as no surprise. It's also well known that both American and British universities got in on the act fairly quickly, initially from the perspective of military research; most British universities were either directly addressable or a short hop through a gateway from the internet by the early 1980s. Other close NATO allies, notably the Canadians, ditto.

What's not so well understood is that, as absolutely certain first exchange targets, the British had an extremely highly developed government continuity strategy for nuclear war. Some parts of this have come to minor public attention in the form of amusingly retro nuclear bunkers that have been re-purposed as museums, archives or modern telecoms junction points (look up the codenames Guardian, Anchor and Kingsway) with varying degrees of practicality. There are some very chilling bits like the "Protect and Survive" videos (now on Youtube) that frankly still scare me silly and we'd all rather forget. Further, there other parts such as the RSG Regional Seats of Government which remains partially, or perhaps even largely, obscured by national secrecy (and probably rightly so).

This stuff was set-and-forget, it's original design brief was that you wouldn't be able to call the IT department if the IT department had been killed in the first strike, it had to work and remain working without significant intervention.

Understand that concept - understand that the internet has been at the heart of the most serious British government infrastructure for around 40 years - and you begin to understand why /8 IPV4 address blocks have been, often literally, hard-wired in to the British government. This network was the network we would rely on, to survive. It was the one thing the British government could depend upon. It was the one thing which, when planning IT infrastructure, the government could be absolutely certain about.

Having that level of certainty allowed us to build other infrastructure around it, such as the PSN Public Services Network,

To those arguing that it's just a bunch of router reconfigurations... this is not your piddling little /24 home office network. Nor is it simply a bunch of VPNs linking regional offices over a few leased lines. This is not even one IT-savvy megacorporation like IBM. This is a nuclear-war-proof combined civilian and military network which over 40 years has been integrated into every government department and every local government office in a country of 70 million people. It's in the job centres, the benefits offices, the local tax offices, the post offices, the village doctors' offices. It's throughout public service departments which are staffed by people who, on the whole, are pretty good civil servants but who don't actually have a reason to need to know how it all hangs together, and in the vast majority weren't around when it was plumbed in.

Would this cost more than the value of the address space to reconfigure to 10.x.x.x or IPV6? Crikey, yes, Ten times yes. Magnitudes of scale yes.

Comment Threads (Score 2) 1365

Threads, a 1984 BBC TV film docu-drama giving a reasonably accurate account of a nuclear strike on the UK, from the point of view of residents of the country's fourth largest city and their next two generations. It includes the "Protect and Survive" real-life instructional videos, realistic Regional Seat of Government setups and gives an extremely unpleasant account of exactly how useless such preparation would be. It is both clinical and graphic, and ends on a stillbirth. It is extremely science and thankfully fiction... so far.

Comment Just don't tell anyone about your failures (Score 2) 121

> The Russians do it slightly differently by

...not telling anyone when it goes wrong. Let's not forget, folks, we're all certain that Gagarin was the first man to return from space; what we're less sure about is whether he was the first to go there, or to attempt to go there. If you spent half your national space budget on propoganda and control of the media, you'd have a pretty successful space programme too.

Comment Paris McD manager = probably Euro millionaire (Score 0) 1198

>So, there you are in a new country with a different culture

Are you talking about the American tourist with the science-project band-aid spectacles who can only afford to eat in fast food restaurants whilst visiting the greatest gastronomic city on Earth, or the third-generation Parisian restaurant owner with the native passport?

Knowing what the cost of living in Paris is, versus the squalid living conditions of many minor American academics and generally hilarious wages in the USA (from which you then have to subtract heath insurance and vacation days... LOL), I know which one I'd be looking down on. It's half a million Euros minimum just to start a McDonalds franchise in one location in Europe; in Paris, a shedload more. That chap with the tie in the photos, he's probably the franchise owner, he's probably a millionaire.

Comment Recording devices are banned in McDonalds (Score 4, Insightful) 1198

Whilst I don't doubt for a moment that Parisian fast food operatives can be rude and physically pushy, it does appear from TFA that he had communication issues and a tendency to be rather arrogant (the whole article starts with "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M AN ACKNOWLEDGED GENIUS!" and works its way from there).

McDonalds in France (and in the UK and many other countries) do not allow still cameras, video cameras or other recording equipment to be operated inside their restaurants without explicit permission from the managers.

This is clearly labelled on all the doors as you go in, not just in words, but a picture of a camera crossed out.

If you don't agree, go elsewhere, problem avoided.

What seems to have happened is that an attention-seeking American ignored these notices. He was then asked to put away the recording equipment, and he didn't comply. At that point he was probably asked to leave, but from TFA I'm not convinced he knew enough French to realise what was being asked of him. A scuffle then broke out.

It's important to note that on private premises, the staff can ask you to leave for any reason (it's their shop, not yours) and if you refuse, they can legally use reasonable force. Same anywhere in Europe. In larger cities where they have lots of troublemakers they will even employ professional bouncers (doormen, security guards) to enforce this, but anyone acting with the owner's consent can chuck you out, physically if need be. My first wife was even directly instructed by the police to physically manhandle unruly customers out of her amusement arcade rather than calling 999 (911/112), which seeing as she was a 6'2" amazonian and her customers were weedy videogaming teenagers was rather one-sided, and probably not the Xena experience they had fantasised about. Point is, shop staff can ask you to leave, they don't have to give you a reason, and if you don't comply, they can physically chuck you out perfectly legally.

Now there's clearly a question about whether the amount of force used was reasonable, but that question only arose because he ignored or refused to comply with what is a very, very reasonable request: People in restaurants generally don't want to be filmed. If he's too ignorant or arrogant to deal with that, then scuffles such as the one he described are entirely predictable.

As if to reinforce people's view of him as arrogant and out-of-touch, he appears to have looked up American contact information on WHOIS rather than using the phone number on a French-language website; seemingly he thinking a bunch of IT infrastructure engineers 8,000 miles away are going to be able to do anything about bouncers in a fast food restaurant in a foreign country.

In short, the moral of the tale is: If you're in a foreign country and you're pissing people off, consider the possibility that the foreign country has different social norms than what you're used to, and adapt appropriately. If you're not prepared to accept that, rip up your passport and stay at home.

I mean, heck, I'm not a fan of Catholicism, but I'm not rude or arrogant enough to expect to be able to visit French cathedrals wearing beach shorts without getting an old lady jabbing a sharp, painful and accusing finger into my hide, and even if I did, I'd take it as an indication that *I* was the one doing something wrong.

People are trying to relax and eat, put your recording equipment away dude!

(And I don't for a moment buy the argument that the digital glasses aren't recording equipment. Exhibit A, the still photos on the chap's web page.)

The bloke was being a dick.

Comment Re:Breton farmers do NOT depend on Minitel. Grrrr. (Score 1) 137

> can not be bothered.

This is closer to the truth. The French do tend to expect their government to do everything for them, and I'm speaking from the perspective of a Brit who gets free healthcare and subsidised childcare from my government. It will actually take an action like this, turning off the system, to get some of those people to switch.

They'll depend on it, right up to the day after it's switched off and they suddenly have an incentive to go and spend 300 euros on a router and a basic PC. Given that French farmers receive millions of euros in subsidy, and as a business expense they'll be able to claim it back from tax, there is no real barrier.

Keeping on using old tech is an absolutely fine strategy so long as it still does what you need and it doesn't cost more to support than the alternatives. But Minitel now DOES cost more to support - in terms of ongoing development/maintenance - so, junking it is the right call. I would imagine that trying to get corn futures prices transferred from a modern trading platform, to what is essentially a heavily localised VT terminal, requires waaaaay to much hassle, and hassle costs money.

Faced with a Unicode XML RESTful web service at one end of the line and a dumb text terminal in an esoteric, heavily-localised character set at the other end, frankly my first move would be to take a cricket bat to the dumb terminal, and give the bloke a cheap 3G tablet.

Comment Breton farmers do NOT depend on Minitel. Grrrr. (Score 5, Informative) 137

OP: "perhaps most affected will be Brittany, where the devices were developed, and where many farmers still depend on them."

Sorry, but that is what we Europeans call "bollocks". I was in Brittany two weeks ago, in a campsite in the middle of nowhere, and it was saturated in 3G/HSDPA mobile broadband. I drove all round the place, 3G everywhere. Decent stuff, too, was browsing BBC News at snappy speeds, even video worked fine.

Campsite I stayed in had Wifi on about a 4 meg connection, probably ADSL, middle of nowhere. Restaurants and cafes in villages and market towns, ditto. The "Domain de Kerlan" campsite I used last year even had wi-fi to *every* *single* *plot*. So stop this "farmers still depend on dumb terminals with 1.2 kilobit modems" bullshit.

France is not very big, only twice the size of the UK. It's not like the USA where there are thousands of miles of empty rural plains. It was dead easy to wire up the whole country for ADSL. That happened a decade ago. The furthest you'll ever get from a city of at least 50,000 people is about twenty-five miles, and I can't think of *any* part of France that is more than five miles from a village of at least 2,000 people.

What's more, French farmers are usually part of a local co-operative who bulk-buy engineering and technology gear at discounted rates (for example, they tend to club together to buy tractors or combine harvesters). I sincerely doubt there is any large farm that wants ADSL, or at least ISDN, that can't get it; French farmers are fscking *minted*.

"Many farmers still depend on Minitel". My arse.

Comment Re:[...], historians say (Score 1) 137

>Journalists tend to toss the word "historian" around rather
>loosely. It can mean anything from "Some local-yokel
>kook who calls himself a historian" to a university-
>affiliated Ph.D. in history with serious academic credentials. ...but rarely ever anyone with an actual proper job.

Comment Re:Using CCTV (Score 1) 202

>UK was planning to put cameras at every intersection everywhere in the country?

That's utterly impossible. Our road network is two and a half thousand years old. We have two hundred thousand miles of paved road in a country only 700 miles long.

The UK has 2.2 miles of road for every square mile of land. That's DOUBLE the road density of the USA.

One camera per junction? Utter rubbish.

Perhaps you meant one camera per motorway (interstate) junction? That's already happened. There are traffic cameras every couple of miles on every motorway/interstate regardless of whether there's a junction or not. Images from these traffic cameras are available to the public, live, on various websites. Of course there is nothing to stop the police using them either - that kind of goes with the territory of making them available to the public.

There are also cameras and licence-plate recognition systems on other major roads, again images and traffic flow information from those is available from websites. The difference here, though, is that the police can get access to the raw OCR licence plate numbers from the licence-plate cameras, whereas the general public can only get "ping times" of how long on average it is taking traffic to get from one licence-plate camera to another licence-plate camera.

But this is a long, long way off "all intersections". The UK has masses of minor roads which have no cameras, and with two and a half thousand years of roadbuilding you can easily get from anywhere to almost anywhere else without using major roads if you really wanted to (I think I'd call that "slow... but picturesque").

I usually call up my nearby motorway junction (interstate intersection) traffic camera image on my Android phone before I get on to the M5 motorway. If the motorway looks crowded then I will just take the old 2000-year-old Bristol Street roman road instead (A38).

(I can see my house from here...)

Comment UK govt did NOT want to "shut down Facebook" (Score 1) 106

Compaqt: "the UK govt. wanted to shut down Facebook and Twitter"

We did? Nope.

The suggestion was that all mobile internet access should be turned off *only* for the TX towers covering a riot zone, in order to prevent rioters encouraging more people to join the riot. If the Riot Act has been read then everyone outdoors in the area has to leave by law, therefore there would be nobody legally present to use their cellphone in the street anyway (metropolitain cell towers cover a couple of blocks, at best; we weren't talking about turning off 3G for a whole city).

The suggestion was discounted for a variety of reasons, one of which was that the most likely riot areas (high streets / downtown shopping precincts) were saturated in free WiFi hotspots so blocking GPRS/UTMS would probably not be effective. The Internet treats censorship as damage, and all that.

Do bear in mind that England is one of, if not the absolute, world's oldest democracy, with democratic rights dating back 800 years. British women had the vote two years earlier than those in the USA.

The policy was suggested by democratically elected representatives, not by faceless bureaucrats or dictators. The suggestion was discussed by other democratically elected representatives, and rejected by the consensus of those democratically elected representatives.

Democracy would therefore seem to be working very well here.

Comment Re:Who said Amiga? (Score 1) 103

Screw the court case, I'm still harbouring resentment from Amiga owners looking down on my decision to buy an ST. That's a battle as big as Confederates vs. Unionists! Tudors vs. Plantagenets! Roundheads vs. Royalists!

If we ST owners defeated Microsoft in court, then by Jingo we Atarians deserve the credit! Screw you and your fancy graphics chips, Amigans, bow down before my vastly superior raw CPU megahertz! Not that I'm bitter, or anything.

Good Lord, I'm old. But a four-digit Slashdot ID will never be enough to heal the scars of the Amiga vs. ST battle.

(I did have the good sense to own a Commodore 64, though, so at least I won the 8-bit wars. 10 PRINT "SPECTRUMS SUCK" 20 GOTO 10 )

Comment Re:Your world is smaller than ours (was Re: Welcom (Score 1) 1205

Cheltenham, England to Vladivostok, Russia (Pacific coast). 8000 miles. Admittedly you do have to put your car on the train to drive under the sea for 25 miles between England and France, but other than that... what's your point?

Your scenario seems typical of the small horizons perceived by a nation where hardly anyone owns a passport.

We Brits take our cars abroad. A LOT. We have a 200-mile-an-hour train that takes our cars under the sea. We have a huge fleet of car ferries that take a thousand cars at a time across the world's busiest shipping lane.

900 miles is your longest journey? Is that all? Italy's further than that from here, and that's at 9 dollars a gallon for gas. Man up!

Comment Re:I might just be a luddite, but (Score 4, Interesting) 348

>Because headlights only light up what is in front of a car

Correct. It's worth mentioning, for the benefit of our cousins, that we British drivers tend to change lanes much more often than Americans.

Until very recently, it was mandatory in the UK to return to the lane furthest from the median immediately after overtaking. Only very recently has this been changed to allow you to remain in the centre lane for extended periods. In the UK it is still illegal to hog the lane nearest the median and it is illegal to "undertake" (i.e. to overtake on the furthest lane from the median) unless you are using a ramp/exit/sliproad.

So in the UK where we drive on the left, you can only overtake on the right and most people have been trained to return back to the left pretty much immediately. That makes visibility (and therefore lighting) of the whole width of the road vital during busy periods.

My experience of driving in the USA is that overtaking is allowed on any side and that most motorists pick one lane and stick to it for most of the whole journey, regardless of speed. (Re-wrote this half a dozen time to try to get the terminology UKUS neutral. Probably still not quite right. Bah.)

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