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back to article Europe must shift R&D from car gizmos to infrastructure, honks wonk

Europe needs to focus on infrastructure and intelligent transport systems, one of the EU's top transport policy wonks said today, introducing the 13th EU Hitachi Science & Technology Forum in London. According to Marcel Rommerts from the EU's Directorate General of Mobility and Transport, the bulk of transport research money in …

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Anonymous Coward

Holistic people tracking

Most of the large-scale "innovation" starts with uniquely identifying each actor then providing means to track them, so that from that all sorts of goodness might spring. This, of course, causes a bit of distrust among would-be end users of that fancy new tech. Put a focus on decentralised anonymised infrastructure -- cars that can locate each other in the vicinity but not necessarily identify more than location, speed, direction, perhaps vehicle size and weight, and that still can do all that without needing a centralised infrastructure -- and you can do most of the intended safety and other goodness without causing a privacy nightmare down the road.

Of course, this sort of thing you'd never hear from eurocrats. It just isn't a consideration.

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Teleworking

Instead of banging on about integrated transport to reduce emissions and such, how about concentrating on teleworking? That it keeps on getting glossed over is a long-standing source of frustration: many commuters neither want nor need to be travelling into the office every day, but there's still an ingrained resistance to home-working which seems counterproductive and rather inexplicable (well, except for the propensity of halfwit PHBs to shoulder-surf lest their minions spend all day skiving, at least as they see it.) Surely the best way of dealing with transport and emissions problems is to actually obviate it as a requirement wherever possible.

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Happy

Re: Teleworking

I actually like working in an office. And I only live 3 miles from where I work. And in my job I could work at home. Go figure.

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Silver badge

Re: Teleworking

@ravenwiz: But how do you get to your office? Walk? Cycle? Bus? Other public transport? Or drive...?

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Re: Teleworking

@ravenwiz,

Lots of people do; but my point was that the option should be made available where it's appropriate. I often like working in an office, it's the typically two to four hours a day I can spend commuting that I'm not quite so keen on...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Teleworking

Christine, you are preaching to the converted.

I did the heavy commuting bit in my twenties and came to the conclusion back then that it was an extraordinary waste of my time and my employer's time, not to mention the expenses I got through, or from the environmental point of view the waste of non-renewable resources consumed.

At the end of the day I found a job in Europe to get away from the UK mentality of being at a desk 200 miles away from home from Monday to Friday. The alternative was to mortgage myself to the hilt, move to SE UK and still find myself with a heavy commute. No thanks.

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Re: Teleworking

Nice idea. I've lots of friends who do some of their work from home. You find out which ones by bumping into them in the pub in the afternoon or shopping in Tesco or cycling or at the gym. Now it may be these people are taking advantage of being at home to work more flexibly. But it's got to be a concern that teleworker productivity sucks. And it's hard for social creatures to be banged up in what amounts to solitary confinement for much of the day.

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Anonymous Coward

Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

My cojmpany laptop is so locked down it is next to useless for working from home. The IT numpties won't install the driver for the printer I have at home so if I need to print something I have to copy it to another machine and print it from there. Naturally, copying said document via USB stick is against company rules ( a dismissal offence)

So I'd rather face the M3/M25 in the morning.

Don't even get me started about trying to use the laptop in foreign climes. The VPN crapware (Nortel) barfs after a couple of minutes when connected via an AT&T or Rodgers(canada) network.

Solutions, not on a postcard please.

don't say get another job. I just need this one to last until I retire in 15 months time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Just wondered:

Did you consider asking your IT team for supported/recommended devices before buying your home printer? Anything that'll support, say, the basic HP Laserjet driver ought to work, locked down or not.

Have you discussed your frustrations about the VPN? If it's genuinely preventing multiple staff from working effectively I'm sure that management will have an interest in resolving the issue.

Are there no alternatives to VPN that you can consider? On MS' side you have things like Outlook Anywhere or Remote Desktop Services. Or there's plenty of alternative products, starting with Citrix...

(I hope that this does come across as an attempt at solutions)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Asking the IT team for supported/recommended consumer-level devices and getting a polite and helpful response? IT giving a damn about "preventing multiple staff from working effectively", even when senior managers are complaining about it?

...can I come and work for your company please? 'cause sadly there are a hell of a lot of firms that aren't like that.

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Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Seriously, what consumer can afford "consumer level devices"? Last time I checked by consumer level printer cost 50 cents per page.

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Pint

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Try Secure Entry Client from NCP? http://www.ncp-e.com Not free but good, can try as demo ;)

Seemed real solid when I used it to connect to old Cisco IPSec VPN box.

You may need to import your existing connection config or settings file, or get help from an admin.

Folks saying it might work with Nortel especially if IPSec, with SSL, don't know.

Works fine with Win7 and 64-bit OSs, unlike many of the OEM clients!

Also there is Shrewsoft http://www.shrew.net/ may need some tweaking to make it work but it is free.

Alternatively, it's possible to do SSL over PPP VPN (SSTP) on Win Server2008 but you may need Vista (phooey!) or Win7 (hurray!) clients.

There is also OpenVPN but that is a whole other kettle of fish.

Also, maybe they can get you a nice little B&W laser printer to go with the laptop? Cheap per page...

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Pint

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Ummm... print to PDF (CutePDF is free...) then email using company email.... to yourself if necessary ... then use webmail on destination PC and print from there... or use dropbox or something but probably company wont like it. ;)

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Silver badge

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

If the laptop has a parallel or serial port, or USB-adapters or network printing servers work for that configuration, you can simply get an old HP LaserJet 4. Those are darn cheap (<<100Euro) and the residual toner typically lasts for years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Teleworking - yeah but, no but, yeah

Oh come on, you know what I meant. Printers smaller than a washing machine and costing less than five grand.

Home mono lasers are pretty cheap to run, anyway.

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WTF?

Pinko commie librul grumble grumble.

Surely the reason that the bulk of R&D spend is in the automotive industry is because the bulk of revenue is generated by the automotive industry.

Is he expecting Volkswagen to start designing railway management software?

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Re: Pinko commie librul grumble grumble.

Well but that's short sighted. Cars stop being the must have status symbol they used to be. The youth is already trying to avoid having to have a car. Meanwhile China and India are producing cars of increasing quality at hard to beat prices.

So you are faced with a situation where people who used to buy your cars now either don't buy a car at all, or if they must, by an Indian one.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Pinko commie librul grumble grumble.

> The youth is already trying to avoid having to have a car.

Not round here, they're not...

Vic.

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Re: Pinko commie librul grumble grumble.

Well feel free to sell your VW shares if you think they're in the wrong business or have weak long-term plans. They seem to be doing OK to me.

My point wasn't that cars are any sort of long-term solution to transport problems. They're probably not. I live in a twee medieval town so I use a bicycle 90% of the time. I've never been a car commuter - it would drive me potty. No pun intended.

My point was simply that the reason all that money is invested in cars is because - at the moment at least - that's where all the profits are to be won. That's basically how capitalism works.

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Re: Pinko commie librul grumble grumble.

Well there's profit _now_. However if you look at long term successful companies, you will find that they always invested into the _next_ technologies. Even bean-counters acknowledge this.

While IBM was having great success selling typewriters and tabulators, they invested in general purpose computing, even though that business probably wasn't very profitable till the 1970s. If they wouldn't have, there would be no IBM today.

Capitalism has very little to do how companies are run, at least it hadn't. Now capitalism is seem as the way modern MBAs run companies, where someone could seamlessly migrate from a company making bottled sugar water to a computer company.

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Holmes

Smart traffic management systems.

I believe there should be a brain in each car. Instructing that potentially smart system to drive on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD !!! (yes I'm shouting) , well the left side for the UK, when THEY SHOULD would ease a great deal of congestion. I'm on the highway at 6.20am and I see how congestion forms in a few seconds on an empty highway. How is that for a "smart traffic management systems". Or is it too cheap ?

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Trollface

so: a million ways to know where you are...

...but no way to leave. :-)

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Another Solution Please

I own two cars, one of which is a VW, and is the most boring car I have ever owned. I drive in excess of 600 miles a week to and from work, a lot for the UK, and I would love not to spend all that time on three different Motorways.

The nature of SI work, and the general inability of SI resourcing to resource locally, means that IT is unlikely to be very green, well the carbon foot print of the company is dropping inversely to the carbon footprint of its employees,

Vehicle systems that allow me to reduce that footprint would be great, on a good day I have had 90 MPG out of my 1.9L Golf, but in practice 60 - 65 is more likely, the difference being congestion.

Even better would be a decent radial public transport network, and rules that allow new office parks to be built only near a railway station or other public transport hub. It would also help if stations had sane parking charges.

As much as energy efficient and green research is required for personal transport, its also required for public transport, and for how you can provide transport improvement quickly and cheaply. You can build a logistics park or office park in 12 months, try putting a rail connection with appropriate rolling stock in that time, it takes years to procure. In the UK you even need an act of parliament to build a railway, though not a road.

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