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Comment Easy: they're all crap (Score 2) 615

Over the years I've owned modem/routers by Netgear, Linksys, Cisco, Swann, TP-Link, Thomson, Corega, Origo, D-Link, probably some others too. I've used them with different ISP in different countries, various physical locations, in the presence and absence of other local networks, with stock or custom firmware (DD-WRT, Tomato and OpenWRT) and I've come to one conclusion: they're all crap.

For the most part they work ok when new, but I have never had a router that stayed working for more than a couple of years. Usually the first symptom is wifi dropouts, then dropping ADSL, then router crashes. Eventually they just stop responding at all. It's not interference since getting a new router always fixes it all (for a bit anyway). I really don't understand how they would 'wear out' (being solid state); perhaps poor thermal design? I'm not a demanding user - they need to connect my ADSL to my ethernet and wifi quickly and reliably and provide NAT, DHCP, basic firewalling, operation as a DHCP relay or bridged access point if it's not a modem; I can happily do without media servers, port triggers, QoS, static routes, print serving etc - if it can't provide my most basic requirement of simply maintaining a connection, all that's just excess junk.

I've had the worst record with Netgear; their stuff just likes to die. I've not tried Apple, Buffalo or Draytek. Most of the open firmware is generally better than stock, but instability and risk of 'bricking' is stupidly high, and we wouldn't need them if stock firmware was decent in the first place.

It all seems a bit like my experience with Terry Pratchett books - I have a bad experience with one, so I look for suggestions, get recommended something, try that, and and am disappointed yet again. I'm certain there must be a market for wifi kit that isn't crap; it seems to be up for grabs.

Comment Re:Imperial units (Score 1) 717

I'm not quite sure why, but in most of Europe the unit of choice is an inverse, typically litres per 100km, so lower figures are better; 54.5 miles per US gallon is 4.32 l/100km. A current, mainstream European large family estate car (station wagon, Peugeot 508 e-HDi / VW Passat Bluemotion) gets around 4.2 l/100km (56mpgUS). Peugeot also have a diesel-electric hybrid version that gets 3.2l/100km (61mpgUS). Curiously, Peugeot get some of their efficiency improvement via their automatic gearbox, which uses an automated manual system without a lossy torque converter; apparently it's crap though! VW's DSG gearbox is much better.

Comment On-ramp wimps (Score 1) 717

This on-amp argument is quite pathetic; European cars with way higher efficiency cope just fine on motorways with fewer lanes and higher speed limits (e.g. 83mph in France), i.e. where on-ramp aceleration is far more critical.

Ford's EcoBoost engine is pretty impressive. They have a 3-cyl, 1.0 litre version pushing out 177BHP at sane revs in the works. The V6 version is used in the F150 too.

Comment Spiked cars (Score 1) 1651

This reminds me of a similar counter-argument for increasing car safety: if seatbelts were banned and cars were fitted with a large metal spike on the steering wheel, pointing towards the driver, you could be pretty sure that people would drive more carefully.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

It could be that there is a correlation between poor riding practices and not wearing a helmet, given that not wearing a helmet is a poor practice!

They do give stats on helmet usage in non-fatal accidents: it's 13%. What you're saying about paying attention is true - accident prevention is by far the most effective measure - but the numbers make it clear that if you are going to have a crash, wearing a helmet improves your chances of surviving it by a factor of about 33, and you'd be hard pushed to find a factor that big by other means.

Where I usually ride I'd say helmet usage is in the high 90%s: It's very rare to see anyone without, and I don't know anyone that doesn't.

Cycling in London, I got used to using buses to my advantage - they're particularly useful as shields when pulling out onto roundabouts.

Comment Mailserv (Score 1) 224

For a straightforward do-everything mail server (runs in an OpenBSD VM), take a look at mailserv. I'd really recommend weaning everyone off POP3 - it's just horrible. IMAP is great, and there's very little that doesn't support it now.

I've never found a contacts & calendaring solution with multi-user 2-way sync that really works - it always seems to run into trouble in one way or another. Any recommendations?

I've had real reliability problems with Google Apps, and their backup options are really quite bad: you can't seem to back up in a native format, only via conversions which are lossy, and as an admin, you can't back up user accounts - you need to log in to each one and back them up separately.

I did see this recently (asterisk/FreePBX running on a Raspberry Pi), it's got to be worth trying at the cost!

Comment Re:Can't agree more (Score 1) 1651

Helmets are certified to a minimum of 300g, and the reason for that figure is that it's been established (apparently) that it's roughly what you can take without sustaining significant injury. The helmet is thus a force measuring device of sorts - if it breaks it suggest that the impact exceeded 300g. If it breaks AND you did not sustain injury, it means that either the helmet was not up to standard (and the crash wasn't as bad as you thought), or that it provided sufficient critical protection while exceeding its failure threshold (i.e. it was a good helmet and saved your bacon). Random sample testing should reduce the incidence of the former (I don't know if that's common), and the latter is sustained by the fact that you're not dead - knowing precisely how much you're not dead by is not interesting and provides no rational basis for not wearing a helmet.

It's not that simple of course - some crashes will be unaccountably harsh (landing on a small stone on top of a hard surface wil send accelerations and force concentrations rocketing), others surprisingly mild.

I always wear one - I crashed into a pile of rocks at 40mph on the kamikaze downhill in Mammoth and had to dig 2" rock slivers out of my helmet (ok, and my arms, legs, neck and back too!) afterwards, but walked away mostly intact. A friend not wearing a helmet was killed with no external injuries from an 8mph fall onto flat pavement after being knocked off by a car.

Comment Re:And how did his death get caused by no helmet? (Score 1) 1651

It's not about total energy (which you can't do anything about), it's about how long you can draw out the impact time and thus reduce the acceleration you're subjected to: going from 2ms to 6ms is the difference between life and death - helmets absolutely ARE crumple zones; disintegration is a failure mode when they have nothing left to give.

Comment Re:Can't agree more (Score 1) 1651

Of course you can't do that, but you could do reasonable tests on a helmet of the same type to show that it might require a certain amount of acceleration to break, and it would show whether exceeding its failure threshold is still likely to bring an impact to within a survivable range. All recent helmet certifications have a minimum failure limit of 300g, so it should take more than that to actually break, but since an unprotected impact is likely to exceed 1000g it's not unreasonable to say that a broken helmet could well have saved you, perhaps by lowering the impact to 400g - that's not a good number, but it's quite definitely less bad. Anything that increases impact time (and thus reduces acceleration) is a good thing.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

Right, because pedestrians ordinarily share their designated space with fast-moving, 2-tonne chunks of metal with limited maneuverability and inattentive operators. It's not your speed that matters. A friend (not wearing a helmet) was killed while doing ~8mph (up a hill) when he was knocked off his bike by a car that turned across him. No broken bones, no blood, just a fatal haematoma that would probably have been prevented by a helmet (or by not getting hit).

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