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* Posts by John Robson

703 posts • joined 19 May 2008

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Apollo 11 - The Owners' Workshop Manual

John Robson
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Ascent Propulsion system

Had no maintenance requirements - it couldn't even be tested, the first firing for each ascent rocket was on/near the moon (think 10 and 13)

The propellants were so corrosive that they basically destroyed the rocket bell when fired - one shot rockets don't have much call for maintenance...

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Mitsubishi finalises mass-market e-car production plans

John Robson
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Excellent

About bloomin' time - they've been announcing this for years now

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Website liable for Google-generated page summary

John Robson
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Bankrupt

Why would any court not say - "see those dots... they mean that this isn't a complete sentence, but two fragments. Case dismissed"

Google

(Now hopefully this comment will show up when "google" and "bankrupt" are used as a search terms)

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Microsoft, Asus launch anti-Linuxbook campaign

John Robson
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That's one short video

Cut together repeatedly...

And then put in a loop after you press play...

MS / Asus:

Familiar != better

Trusted != Good (we used to trust the banks)

Compatible isn't your game, never has been.

- Try reading my ext3 formatted SD cards on Windows...

- Try looking through just ubuntu's package management to see what "proprietary" devices are supported - and that's ignoring RedHat, SuSE et al.

I was hoping that the proliferation of netbooks would encourage the definition of some communications standards, and provide device manufacturers (e.g. nokia, garmin etc) to publish their interfaces (it's not as if I'm going to buy a device I can't talk to, or that talking to the device is useful without the physical device)

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Fans decry tennis gal's breast-slash plan

John Robson
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Paris Hilton

sports bra?

Might help here - and I'm sure some sports bra manufacturer could come up with something better than she is wearing there, and get advertising out of it!

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Welsh mum amazed by Marmite Messiah

John Robson
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We're really good

at seeing faces in things aren't we.

Just one of the optimisations in the human brain - dedicated facial recognition circuits mean that often we get a "face" signal for really weak images.

Ho hum...

I'm not going to hail our new yeast based overlords...

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E-cars are a dangerous myth, says top boffin

John Robson
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Single point emissions are easier to control / manage

And improve societal health through cleaner air in cities.

When (not if) we do manage to get fusion running in a stable and productive fashion on the planet we'll be bale to run 'leccy cars with very low CO2 emissions (because no other pollutants count)

Lektricty is a good choice of power for a vehicle - zero burn while stationery - maximum torque at zero revs (i.e. when you're likely to need it).

Unfortunately we can't go and dig up Lektricity, we have to make it.

At the moment we use much the same tech as we have for many years - but centralising this energy production makes it easier to monitor and control. CSS (for example, not a definitive solution) isn't practical for liquid fuelled cars, it's relatively simple at a large power plant.

Solar and wind are poor choices for many things, but for charging a UPS (i.e. my car plugged into my house) they're actually quite reasonable.

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Worldwide GPS may die in 2010, say US gov

John Robson
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"@" is not a title apparently?

"I know all of my personal computers sync to one of my GPS units every now and then, just to keep them honest."

I assume you're accounting for the leap seconds introduced since the start of GPS time - they are not applied to GPS time, only earthbound time uses them...

And I want GPS to continue - It's nice being able to log my bike rides accurately... Fortunately for me I imagine I will be able to for a good long while, there are plenty of sats, and I'm sure sufficient will be replaced...

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BASF to develop 350-mile e-car 'super battery'

John Robson
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@Dave

The right maths is what he did - a recharge cycle is generally not "any topup" it's generally a full discharge equivalent.

So if I use and recharge 10% each day then in ten days I'll use 1 charge cycle...

Mind you - I reckon I'm becoming clairvoyant: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/19/lithium_oxygen_stair_battery/

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John Robson
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Batteries are the upgrades

Just define a shape, voltage and socket.

Then sell a car with mostly empty slots for round town, and battery upgrades whenever. In a couple of years when some newfangled technology "batteries" take in air, output roses and power we can simply* slot them in to our existing cars.

* Simply might involve a trip to the garage - but that's not a huge problem...

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Downing Street on Phorm: 'Meh'

John Robson
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Independant?

"http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/pressreleases/2008/new_phorm_statement_040408.pdf

ICO is an independent body"

So why does it have a .gov.uk domain?

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ContactPoint goes live despite security fears

John Robson
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Easier to spot kids at risk if they're the only ones there...

Surely?

I mean if we're looking for this to be useful then police/protection agencies should be able to search/add details of people with whom they have contact.

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Green GT rolls out sexy e-supercar

John Robson
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Even a half decent performance at LeMans

Would shut up those people who claim batteries are no good.

Definitely the right contest!

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Swedish couple demand right to name baby 'Q'

John Robson
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And in my defence

I present an XKCD cartoon, to show how evil I could have been :)

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Pudsey Bear refused UK passport

John Robson
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Go away IPS

You can't claim to protect her identity by refusing to acknowledge it...

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Mitsubishi to release e-car in UK this year

John Robson
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Cost?

'cos that's a sensible car...

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Honda executes 180° turn on plug-in e-cars

John Robson
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Tech

We seem to do quite well in terms of bashing individual techs, which is why they aren't getting built.

The electric motor is a good way of putting power to the road, even Sir Clarkson will agree - getting power to it is interesting, there are various methods for generating electricity, so we should look at standard INTERFACES.

If we decide on a size and shape of "power source" and a nominal voltage then we can stick LiON in there now, and replace them with carbon based fast chargers, fuel cells, or magic pixie dust when they become commercially viable.

If cars had a few such "slots" then you could buy a car with just one battery pack (the wife only goes to the shops in it...) for relatively little cost, and add more, better capacity, power sources later - as required.

This allows us to have decent vehicles, with upgradable and replaceable power sources. No LiON is a killer tech for all car journeys - but it would make perfect sense for most second cars, and for quite alot of "first" cars.

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Windows 7 and the Linux lesson

John Robson
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Boffin

Windows isn't an OS

It's an ecosystem - there is just no way to only use the OS section of Windows.

Canonical have a reasonable method of continuous upgrades, even my wife keeps her laptop fully up to date.

There are always dependencies within software ecosystems - letting the software behave in a defined fashion, and declaring those dependencies means that aptitude just handles what is needed. I imagine that various machines around here and work will get an upgrade to Jaunty fairly soon.

If I could use different window managers on Windows then I might look at it, but the "you will use the mouse for everything" interface is just unpleasant. The only reason I touch a windows machine is to update a pesky manglement spreadsheet.

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Acer Ubuntu nettop to get quiet storage switch

John Robson
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Hmm

Drool.

Attempt to justify......

Hmm, I wonder....

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Toshiba Tecra M10 14in notebook

John Robson
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The advantage of all that depth

Is that you can throw these things down the stairs and they survive.

Well I managed it with mine (slightly older Toshiba - but looks to be the same case)

Not a dead pixel or reallocated sector. But it did crack the case and bend the metal screen edges in two places - pliers and gaffer tape sorted that completely

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OCZ Vertex solid-state drive

John Robson
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Stop

Latency figures

Are what we really need to see with SSD's

For a more detailed look at why:

http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=3531

Most of the time we're writing small files, 4K or less, and we notice is the drive takes a while to do that...

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Budget reaction: Credit insurance good, all else bad

John Robson
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Stop

£2k for rich people only

Seriously - a £2k subsidy for scrapping cars is one thing, but choose emissions MOT failures only, and give it to the poor sap who needs to replace their crap car, not someone struggling to decide between a 911 and a rangerover.

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Boffins build super-accurate atomic clock

John Robson
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Boffin

No winding?

It's being continually wound by that secondary red laser.

It might not need resetting though...

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UK dons dunce hat on copyright law

John Robson
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This comment is licensed

You may read it, word by word, only to incur a cost of £5 per word.

This is a non negotiable fee, you chose to read it after all.

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Hybrid Jaguar XJ en-route?

John Robson
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Boffin

@ They fail to explain one thing

Power stations are rather more efficient than your average car engine at converting the chemical energy in their fuels to useful output (in their case electricity). And when combined with local community heating schemes this can be a

The losses from there to your tyres are relatively small - so you may even get a gain in efficiency (especially if you add in regenerative braking).

The other major advantage is that we can easily upgrade all the cars in the country by producing "better" power stations. Whether by pollution capture schemes or cold fusion power stations whose chimneys exhaust daisies and otters.

The short term advantage is relavtively small overall, but it makes for quieter and less smelly streets. The long terms gains are an ecologists dream* though.

John

* Of course assuming we don't need to start pushing smoke into the air... ref: recent NASA study

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Naming the Palm Prē: Strategy Boutique OD's on joss-sticks

John Robson
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Hats off to Nokia

Who started with numbers, and basically stick there...

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AP orders affiliate to pull embedded YouTube vids

John Robson
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It's clear cu

Why pull the videos?

Until they can explain why they've published embed codes they've not got a stump tostand on, let alone a leg

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Traffic info goes mobile

John Robson
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Passengers

are of course also available to read such missives and advise the Driver on the appropriate course (as they have done for many years)

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Blade server standards coming this year

John Robson
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Scary

"A standard to which no big vendors adhere is as intimidating as a tiger with its teeth and claws removed."

I'd still not want to go up against a tiger in such a state - one swat from a paw and you're history...

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GM, Segway to unveil iPhone-driven wheelchair e-car

John Robson
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Surely an extra wheel

would help - it can't be efficient to have to keep balanced when there are well known stable configurations...

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Super Talent flashes the big whopper

John Robson
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Boffin

PCIe ssd should be released in

expresscard format as well...

I can deal with a boot partition on my HDD, then mount / from the ssd.

An initrd from the spinny disk would be fine.

But give me a low latency SSD using the PCIe interface of teh expresscard.

Sell it on the basis of latency.

Perfect upgrade for most "fairly" recent laptops.

I'm sure even MS can do something similar, can't it????

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Brussels: Old-school lightbulbs to be gone by 2012

John Robson
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Boffin

@ Mark Haven

"The savings quoted are based on a lamp being left on constantly - this almost never happens in real settings. When you switch them on and off each time the reactive load uses a lot of energy."

Do you not watch MythBusters (OK, it was repeated a couple of days ago and I happened to catch it, but they tested a variety of bulbs.

Startup does cost more energy, but it's negligible - the WORST performers were full size fluorescent tubes, which took the equivalent of leaving them on for 26 seconds to start up.

So if you leave a room to make a cup of tea - even with the worst performing lights you're best switching them off.

It's been a long standing rumour, but it was easy to debunk on the back of an envelope:

Lighting circuits are fused at 6A in general in the UK, so you can't get more than a kW or so anyway. To use several hours worth of energy in a few seconds would require much more, e.g:

10W bulb.

Aiming to use 2hours worth in 10 seconds:

7200/10=720 times the power

7.2kW ~30 ampere (through a 6A fuse/trip switch)

~2.5 kettles!

it's not going to happen

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NASA CO2 scan satellite launch fails

John Robson
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Let's watch

the conspiracy theories roll in...

Shame though - would have been an interesting survey

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Google's email service goes down

John Robson
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Go

Productivity increase:)

Without email to distract me I can do some work for once!

Of course instead I'm posting here...

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Wrong kind of winter brings England to a halt

John Robson
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Go

One wheel drive did quite well

No need for four wheel drive, or has everyone already forgotten about the African Top Gear.

I managed to cycle to work - 10 miles in the snow was fine, my glasses froze up again, but that's OK - I can still see around them.

Amazingly, this afternoon there seemed to a mass exodus from the building when it looked pretty outside, and people sat queuing for 45 minutes to get out onto the roads - meant it was nice and quiet when I left though.

@Perpetual Cyclist - Safer on the road IMHO, I tried a cycle path for about 20 yards, but the council don't think we need grip - so there's no gritting of the cycle paths (even right alongside the road)

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Revenue pledges data security...by 2011

John Robson
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Black Helicopters

Muppets

Why are they so inept?

I can't imagine that anyone with enough brain power to put on their own underwear would think that a 4 year cycle for a security review is just ridiculous.

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Google spins out Chrome 2.0 pre-beta alpha

John Robson
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Not a bad system...

They do a basic set, use a couple of easy libraries to get a quick release out, then go and rewrite those as they're dodgy and non portable.

Just hope that v2.0 is actually properly portable - get them to drop mac/linux v1 ideas and do it with v2

I like Chrome on my VM, but don't like having to fire up a VM to use it, so it's only rarely touched.

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NASA deploys huge clingfilm strato-pumpkin over Antarctic

John Robson
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Boffin

@AC

Polar bears don't live in the antarctic - you might like some penguin pate though

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VeriSign remedies massive SSL blunder (kinda, sorta)

John Robson
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Alert

SSL proxy

Surely the capacity to generate your own certificates allows an SSL proxy, that's massively valuable. I don't need to set up a fake bank site, I just proxy your SSL connection and read your login details.

The returns from that (especially if you combine it with a DNS poisoning attack) are potentially massive. I think that criminals would probably know that, and would assume that they've been looking at this quite hard since 1996 (and then again when the MD5 vuln's were disclosed, assuming they hadn't already cracked it privately).

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Lenovo prices up dual-screen ThinkPad

John Robson
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I want...

They've even managed decent resolution on both screens. It'd stop me having to switch my screen resolutions around any time I need to move around the office...

but £2k?! That's a steep price, even for a decent machine, the engineering in that second screen really does need to be something special to justify that kind of an outlay.

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Facebook breastfeeding pic takedown gets backs up

John Robson
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Breasts have been sexualised...

For some reason it is now assumed that nothing can perform more than one function, I think this is because we've all been dumbed down to the point where so few people can think of even one thing at a time that it's a reasonable assumption.

Yes breasts do perform sexual functions, but they also perform other functions. Do you let your child read, because they could read porn if you do.

Quote from a midwife friend:

"Breasts, like women, can multi task"

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Lightning to thunder with speed-creep beating V8 roar

John Robson
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Great internally

But externally there are much better noises to simulate than a V8.

Those new broadband noise generators being put in sirens for instance, not in the same pattern obviously, but at low speed it might prove useful for cyclists (who would need to be owls to look for these cars). It's really rather useful for cyclists to know when some idiot is coming up behind them.*

John

* Yes I'm a cyclist, no I don't listen to music while I commute, yes I do try and watch out for vehicles and assist them by indicating when there is no approaching traffic (i.e. when it's safe to overtake) as I can usually see round the corner first...

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Support grows for Intel's mobile Linux despite slip

John Robson
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If thats a real boot time then woohoo

Why hibernate if the boot sequence is 5 seconds (I know, you get to keep your documents open - seriously how many do you work on?

I'd love a machine that booted that fast, I might even turn it off overnight. Shame most POST sequences take longer than that...

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Germans seduce Jacqui over remote hacking of disks

John Robson
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Security

No problem, all terrorists use Vista, and MS will simply add a back door.

Of course anyone using *nix is a terrorist and should be locked up for 42years unless they provide the root password and access to their bank systems.

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NASA goes for Hubble back-up boot-up

John Robson
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Need an ATV with a robonaut

Hubble is low enough for comms to be pretty quick. A quick ATV trip could have load of fuel up there to keep hubble in the sky, as well as a permenant robonaut for sensible repairs.

Heck - having a couple up there all the time could be a good way of fixing anything - given time chaning orbits is the cost, not waiting to catch the errant sattelite, and IIRC the ATV had a pretty good load capacity to LEO

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Texan boffins working on electric cyber-heart

John Robson
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I seem to recall NASA doing this

back when I was at school - the major difficulty was trying not to destroy red blood cells with the rotor.

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Gates dethroned as tech's richest get thumped

John Robson
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Alert

So there are still two people

who could single handedly wipe out third world debt...

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Secret Service camera bought on eBay

John Robson
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Why seize the camera/computer

I'm sure he'd have happily deleted the information if they'd asked, after all he did go to the police with it (not the daily depress, nor the BBC)

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Tories would decentralise NHS IT

John Robson
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Go

Decentralized

Add some VPN and decentralise it all you want, just make sure that there are some well defined standards for data interchange (note, not storage - interchange) probably XML with a certain number of required fields for any consult etc.

I do want my records held locally, but when I get airlifted to a distant hospital because some idiot in a car can't wait 20 seconds to overtake me on my bike then I damned well want them to be able to access that data in a comfortable format.

It should be possible to determine where my records are kept (and where they have been sent to when I moved)

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German developers forge Iron from Chrome

John Robson
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Chrome...

Is actually quite nice - I might go and see how well iron fares.

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