Friday, 17 August 2012

Dogs off leash

It's illegal in California to let your dog off the leash. Seriously. I guess this explains why there are no dogs here just ... wandering about. They get picked up by the dog catcher.

In Dublin and Belfast, it seems to be fine to let your dog off the leash. As long as it doesn't bother anybody. It's kinda bad form to let your dog just ... wander, but I don't think it's illegal.

The only caveat is that if your dog worries sheep (i.e. out in the countryside), a farmer might shoot it. So don't let your dog worry sheep. It'll get shot. (Folk don't let their dogs run wild in the country, just in the city and suburbs.)

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Keyboards in the UK have a slightly different layout to those in the US.

I think I prefer US keyboards, but obviously I have a soft spot for UK keyboards.

US keybaords usually a double-wide enter key. Backslash is above it. UK keyboards have a tall, narrow enter key. Backslash is either beside it or beside Z. (UK keyboards often have a narrower shift key as a result.)

Hash ('#') can be more awkard to type on a UK keyboard: shift-3 is usually the pound sign.
The number two usually has the double quote symbol above it (except for apple keyboards) in the UK, so @ is near the enter key. This is just wrong: the apple way is the right way.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Applying for passports

Applying for US passports is much easier than applying for Irish/British passports.

If you want a US passport. you can just go to a post office (having made an appointment first), pay them some money, have them take your photo, swear you are entitled to a passport, show them a birth certificate or other suitable documentation, and wait a week or three for the passport to arrive.

To get an Irish passport, you have to get your photos and form signed by one of a tiny subset of the population who must have known you personally for at least two years. It's really tedious. Especially if you've only recently moved to the USA. British passports are less strict, but still a royal pain.

Also, you can't pay for an Irish passport with a personal check or credit card. Money order only.

Also, kids over seven have to sign their Irish passport application forms themselves. (I kid you not.)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Clutch Interlock in manual cars

In the US ... here in California at least ... cars with manual transmission have an interlock where to start the car, you have to press the clutch.

In the UK ... and, I'll bet, the rest of the world ... they don't.

Very occasionally, you'll try to start the car, it'll be in gear, it'll lurch, you'll feel stupid, nearby people will mock you, and you'll get on with your life.

In the US, this doesn't happen. At least not so much.

In countries where automatic transmission is weird and unnatural and only for old and sick people (i.e not the USA), you just learn from the start to only ever start the car in neutral. You press the clutch, and wiggle the gear lever from side to side before you start the car. It's reflex.

It means that folk from the UK going to the US have literally no idea how to start a car until someone tells them.

It means that folk from the US going to the UK occasionally get unpleasantly surprised.

A little difference.