* Posts by Adrian Midgley

68 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jul 2007


Acer: Android netbook to come with... Windows

Adrian Midgley

I don't think the customers voted

I think that changes in pricing were made, with or without accompanying threats or promises, which persuaded shops to stock netbook versions preloaded with Windows.

In other news, the Russian Federation follows the USA and European Community in prosecuting Microsoft for monopolistic and anti-competitive behaviour.

The lag time on the first cases was years, what should we expect in another few years?

Virgin Galactic tests laughing-gas powered rocket motor

Adrian Midgley

@Suburban Inmate: better oxidiser than oxygen

N2O releases a lot of energy of dissociation. and is a better oxidising agent than oxygen.

Thermal lances use it, with oxygen it'll cut through steel, with N20, through concrete.

I don' think it is really two thirds, either..

iPhone compass evidence surfaces

Adrian Midgley

Needed for a wand

a wand being what you point at things, which then tells you about them. Rather more use in museums than a dumb narrative device.

Sphinx - text search The Pirate Bay way

Adrian Midgley


Am I wide of the mark in thinking this is an effective free text search engine?

Cameron: Give the UK's health records to Google

Adrian Midgley

doesn't need a big/central computer

Every general practice already has a server with a large number of (partial) records on it.

Leave them there.

They are connected by a hopefully secure TCP/IP network. Leave it there.

What is needed is an API defining the questions a computer in another practice, a hospital or wherever is permitted to ask, ( - isdiabetic($nhs_no) lastbp($nhs_no) listcurrent medication($nhs_no)and so on), a central directory so machines can find each other - not entirely unlike DNS or LDAP, and a means of certifying identity (I'd favour Gnu PG but there are several).

Modern computing consists largely of machines and programs lying ("emulating") to each other, and building shims to implement those API functions in calls coming as though from a terminal or the GUI for the various existing programs in primary care would be routine work, incremental, and not involve losses in translation, which all centralising and converting approaches do.

Taking a lesson from the large disparate distributed system - The Internet - on how to do these things is not stupid.

Film for medical imaging is on the way out though, it isn't as usable as digital, and the software to handle it is well-developed.

Canonical punts Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope

Adrian Midgley

buying support: key point though

surely a key point here is that if you want support, you _don't_ have to pay Canonical!

You can pay anyone who is willing to take your money and do the job.

Canonical is probably a very good choice to pay, and understands Ubuntu deeply, but you have a choice.

Kaminsky: MS security assessment tool is a 'game changer'

Adrian Midgley

if it is actually Open Source (TM) then it may be reused...

so if there is useful code in there, it could be repurposed for other tools and operating systems.

Or has MS produced something which is not Open Source but which they describe as open source, leading toward an obfuscation of what is Open and what is not?

Worm breeds botnet from home routers, modems

Adrian Midgley

write it on the router casing

For this threat model, make a seriously complex unmemorable password, and write it on the label of the router.

Cover that if you feel a need.

Online opt-outs for care record

Adrian Midgley

don't blame the doctors

for the communication.

Clarity is not intended.

EC retires the Microsoft watchdog

Adrian Midgley

One's supplier, or sysadmin

puts one on.

Alternatively, a chip, CD or FTP.

If still unclear, here is kitten

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/midgley/2987321809/" title="Tangle: crop by Adrian Midgley, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/2987321809_89737e6bff_m.jpg" width="240" height="240" alt="Tangle: crop" /></a>

Microsoft goes retail with own shops

Adrian Midgley

the windows will be painted?


Hospital boss slams patient records system

Adrian Midgley
Thumb Up

sp, but yes


PACS (medical imaging stuff) was not part of NPfIT, the PACS were mature technology - there is even an Open Source system from the University Hospital of Geneva - and tended to come with massive chunks of ionising and magnetising hardware.

Since there were obvious benefits and actual products in use hospitals were buying them in order to work better and save money. <s>Most</s>Some didn't buy enough licences to look at pictures for their systems in order to save a bit more, but that is the usual closed source nightmare.

NPfIT took over the kudos for these done deals.

Mozilla calls for 'open web' in EU Microsoft row

Adrian Midgley

Incorrectly parsed, and what _does_ the author want?

Spokeslizard: "An effective remedy would be a watershed event; a poorly constructed remedy could cause unfortunate damage,” she said on her blog late last week.

5ash: Now, we have the official-official word on the matter: "A good remedy could be helpful - a bad remedy could create more damage."

That doesn't represent adequately, or even interestingly, the statement reported.

The operative word is watershed.

I'd like to see one, but there may be much water under the bridge before that, alas.

Boffins: Blue light kills MRSA 'superbugs'

Adrian Midgley
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Royal RIfe didn't.

And the claims made about him and gadgets bearing his name are bunkum, quackery and the search for profit from the gullible.

Blue light on the fingertips. Hmm...

Adrian Midgley

Blue lit keycaps?

MRSA may well live in noses, but that's fine. What matters is when it is on fingers.

And things fingers touch.

So how about a keyboard illuminated in that wavelength of light so that each time a finger hits a key they both get a blast of blue?

Individual LEDs in keys should do it, with as a side effect, encouragement to learn to touch type, so as to avoid glare.

'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

Adrian Midgley

limited time for lifejackets - sufficient?


I'm not convinced that the absence of lifejackets correlates with passenger intelligence.

The instructions I've read assume a certain amount of time to prepare, which would fit in an aircraft losing power at 30000 feet, plenty of time to take off a belt, dress, rebelt and then get out with the jacket on.

In this accident, I doubt anyone should have unbelted between takeoff and ditching, which would leave them trying to evacuate while holding something if they chose to grab the jacket from under their seats.

Given that they didn't need their lifejackets, in the event, it looks at least possible that neither those giving instructions, nor those listening to and executing the instructions or making their own decisions along with them got it wrong.

SCO auctions Unix and mobile assets to continue fight

Adrian Midgley
Gates Horns

no end to this madness?

tired, I am of this

Mobiles finally admitted to English hospitals

Adrian Midgley

@Dodgy Geezer OK as long as you were already seen...

I think you might think that unless you were the first patient on the round it would be nice, and considerate, of those ahead of you did not delay the progress of the team toward you, or reduce the amount of time available for thinking about all of you.

It is a thing called society. Feel free to join. It involves more effort than paying a fee.

Windows for Warships™ reaches Royal Navy frigates

Adrian Midgley

it may be "easy to write obfuscated C code that can perform entirely unexpected operations"

although I suspect that getting it to do anything is only easy for small values of easy...

but getting it to perform expected operations on demand is harder.

Wikipedia exceeds $6m donation goal

Adrian Midgley

@Ros: WP aims for there always to be better sources available ...

I have a copy of the Brittanica, on paper, on a shelf.

For at least almost and probably absolutely everything in it there is at least one better and more authoritative source available.

The same applies to WP, it is part of the rules applied there.

The point of an encyclopedia is to bring together information on most things. It is never a primary source.

The other and better references for individual atoms of knowledge are fine, but you need an index to find them. There is Google, of course, and there is the human evaluation, which even if it uses imperfect humans adds something to that indexing for most areas.

What the Freetard Photo book tells us

Adrian Midgley

CC is a copyright licence

The article is bad, if writing is an art, it is bad art. If it was paid per word, it is bad value.

The Oxford Project is impressively good, in the little of it which I have seen, on the Web.

The on-cost of another person seeing the part of the Oxford Project on the Web is nugatory.

There is scope for criticising the photos offered freely for viewing, free, but the criticism offered is neither good nor useful.

Health minister promises Rate-My-Doc! service

Adrian Midgley

@Richard Porter

No you are not. (registered with a particular doctor)

A couple of years ago the gov. eliminated personal lists form the NHS.

Here, if you want to see a particular doctor, you would find out when they are consulting - from our website or the leaflet or our receptionist - and ask to see them then.

Sorry if that is too difficult.

Microsoft issues emergency IE patch as attacks escalate

Adrian Midgley

Web hosts?

What software are the sites holding the attack code hosted on?

And how did they get commandeered?

Entire class fails IT exam by submitting in Word format

Adrian Midgley

a promising sign, but ...

what format was demanded?

Lib Dems call for new NHS data security rules

Adrian Midgley

small practices are quite secure against actual threats

I'd disagree that large practices are necessarily more secure than small ones. As a singlehander I knew everyone who should be in the building. As one of three partners I still do. As one of 15 ...

And I don't think the national database is the way to go. Access under rules to distributed and existing systems is a more informatically sensible and more secure approach. It also looks a lot easier to implement - build a terminal which lies to the clinical system about being one of the usual terminals, and works through the usual messages to that clinical system to ask the usual questions, while talking on the other side to those it believes to be authenticated users outside.

Authentication is also better distributed, but there is a role for a central system - just a smaller and better understood one than the alleged spine.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 planned for 2009

Adrian Midgley

maintain broken website writing?

It sounds more like a way of encouraging people to carry on writing websites that require IE 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 than like a way of encouraging standards compliant or compatible website development.

Why would anyone want more sites to be developed that only work in IEx?

But if they do, presumably having a new browser that makes those sites look as if they are written right would be handy for anyone who still wanted to fragment the Web into a maze of proprietary channels all unlike, and for anyone who wanted to persuade people that stanrds compliant web browsers had something wrong with them.

"Well it must be OK, it renders correctly in IE8".

Microsoft's 'M' treads on US veterans' toes

Adrian Midgley

Massachusets general hospital, not VA, developed it.

Peyton above... no.

MUMPS is the first and only language and database management system designed for medical records.

The MGH clearly had some interest in such things, and back then people who needed to solve problems were writing such things, as they didn't largely exist.

It continues to be good at the things that we doctors want from medical record software, although less good at the things that vendors want from health service managers (££££, lockin and opportuities to reimplement wheels) .

GT.M has particular virtues in addition to those characteristic of the language.

Microsoft: Malware for Windows on the rise

Adrian Midgley
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users who ... religioously

"the data is evidence that users who use a firewall and anti-virus program and patch both Windows and third-party applications religiously aren't at much more risk than users of other platforms."

And who are those users?

The missing phrase from that quoted passage is the continuation:-

"...than users of other platforms who take no precautions other than using other platforms."

Top aero boffin: Green planes will be noisy planes

Adrian Midgley

Which " whale's vestigial rear flipper"

Which sort of whale is that?

Orange ditches Phorm

Adrian Midgley

Did VIrgin start running something

a month or so ago?

Or are the oddities on my connection unrelated?

Apricot drops 'too complicated' Linux from netbook line

Adrian Midgley

Interfaces and startup

I have an Asus EeePC. It has a simple interface - no 20 icons, no powerbar.

It runs Linux.

I have assorted other computers, some supplied by an organisation that insists on using Windows.

The Linux ones are ready to use when they are switched on for the first time after the OS is installed.

The Windows ones are not. They demand serial numbers.

Who was the genius, by the way, who decided to put the serial numbers on labels on the underside?

Microsoft taints open source CodePlex well

Adrian Midgley

AC - no.


Debian all business with Lenny and Squeeze

Adrian Midgley

... roots AC above...

Gentoo started in 1999

Debian history says:

"The Debian Project was officially founded by Ian Murdock on August 16th, 1993. At that time, the whole concept of a "distribution" of Linux was new. "


Fact-checking is less common than it should be,

Microsoft threatened on antitrust non-compliance

Adrian Midgley

Habitual ...

A word occasionally heard in court.

Aussie has answer to save Earth from asteroid attack

Adrian Midgley

more clever than most commentators

Only the numbers matter.

BCS to review NHS IT for Tories

Adrian Midgley


1. A FLOSS solution deployed in a health service of comprehensive coverage, free at the point of access* exists.

2. The problem with successive closed source failures, and eventual closed source successes (there have been some, partial ones) is that each time something goes wrong, and/or each time some new company shark gets to sit next to a PM or NHS high admindroid on a sofa for a while, all that has been done is lost and from scratch we are started again. For cost and with loss of function.

That is what FLOSS has thus far.

Try worldvista.org for a copy of an application suite which had been called VistA for very many years.

* those are the 2 key differentiators of the NHS, and of the US Veterans Administration Health service.

Forgot your ID? You must be a terrorist

Adrian Midgley

they've gone to all the trouble of determining that the person is safe to fly that time ...

It seems likely they are safer than average to fly at subsequent times than those who have not been checked to that extent.

Odd, really. I'm glad I don't have to run or invent a workable system that makes good sense though.

Capita wins NHS website contract

Adrian Midgley

a third iteration of the same original inaccurate data

seems likely.

Along with the loss of every bookmarked link.

Unless someone has had the sense to avoid a proprietary lockin as before.

Tech woes threaten NASA's Moon plan

Adrian Midgley

Apollo was safer than being shot at

which was the alternative. It relaxed people about some risks.

MS takes Windows 3.11 out of embed to put to bed

Adrian Midgley

Wine does a fair job on 3.11, does it not?

And yes, I remember 3.11 as an improvement, and more DOS windows on the Novell networked 386s . Yes, boxes still on the shelf, next to Warp.

Linux now, of course.

Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

Adrian Midgley

Methanol easier than Hydrogen

as a storage medium and for power transmission to mobile devices - cars etc.

NHS standardisation failed, says London CIO

Adrian Midgley

need more than a dozen, but it has been done

The problem is harder than the poster above thinks, but the US Veterans Administration solved it some years ago, and the software is available free, and in a more product-like form from http://worldvista.org

The problem isn't mainly software though.

DDoS packets soak up to 3 per cent of net traffic

Adrian Midgley

any of it not from Windows installations?

I suppose there may be the odd compromised *x box, but almost all of this is made possible through design desicions and features of one particular operating system family, which appear to have been either unwise in retrospect, or effective in degrading un-owned systems.

Terrorist robots dissected - anatomy of a scare

Adrian Midgley

Face recognition in commodity cameras

No idea how it works, but that suggests a potential terminal guidance mecahnism.

Seven per cent of doctors are mad: Official

Adrian Midgley

mine broke

Twice. The first time it took 6 months to get a replacement, the second time I still await one. It hasn't made a big difference, since the application it is intended to provide access to - Choose & Book - doesn't work (it does for 40% of GPs, I'm one of the other 60%).

The effective, working GP software was written initially by GPs, or developed by companies and other groups controlled by or heavily involving GPs.

And we have been looking after medical records since Hippocrates, and controlling automatically searchable ones since Cope-Chat. (Not Babbage, alas)

VOIP and the web baffle Brit spook wiretappers

Adrian Midgley

points of origin and destination unchanged though

It should only be a problem for our spooks if they are trying to listen to _every_ conversation, or carry on wide trawls. If they are suspicious about one person the conversations still start there or finish there.

I think much telephone communication has been packet switched on trunks for rather longer than is suggested.

MP accuses BBC chief of illegally championing Microsoft

Adrian Midgley

@Spleen, you give the answer

Spleen vents: "What might be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic for a public corporation."

and goes on to gloss it with:

"I fail to see why. The argument about it breaching state aid laws may be valid,"

So which bit of "it is (probably) illegal" is giving you a problem with why it is problematic for a public corporation?

UK nuke-power plans leak early

Adrian Midgley

Molten salt

I like the idea of the molten salt reactor, which breeds Thorium - no shortage - into 233U and can eat other actinides. But for the moment, we need some fission reactors, either PWRs or CANDUs. The CANDU is nice because it doesn't need enriched Uranium. Oh, and is from the Commonwealth rather than the USA.

Cameron blames Labour naivety for NHS IT woes

Adrian Midgley

GPs invented medical records

We have been keeping them, quite safely and usefully, for some decades.

Some of us even start talking about things like medical informatics, and some of the reasons why a pile of records from several databases made by several orgs for several purposes turns out to be just a pile when you amalgamate them.

In Exeter in the '80s the experiment of building a record for use by specialties and GPs was tried. It didn't work. The current effort does not include any solutions to the problems that killed that.

Medical records are not the only thing that we should be looking at, they are relatively easy, accept that there are several sorts of Practice software, note that the laboratory is a good place to hang on to lab results, that the PACS of the local imaging department can usefully hold the pictures and reports, do some caching and devise a framework perhaps with a PKI to allow my machine to ask the machine of a GP in Aberdeen (it won't work BTW since that is another country, come back South to Carlisle for examples) questions such as "IsADiabetic(ID)" or "ListAllergiesAndAvoids(ID)" at need, and send a list of those to the patient as well in a quarterly statement.

No, how about a bit of informatics, of computing, of weak AI, or at least Hinting Engines and Opinionated Systems (one of those would model many of my colleagues quite adequately, and they are easier to build than the Eschaton I think)

Or if you want a working system, take copies of the GPL'd US VA system - called VistA for the last couple of decades, install that and then work on from there...

Because of all the long-term infrastructure systems that should be built of Open Source, healthcare IT is hard to find a better example.

What is being done at the moment is driven by money and power, not by cleverness in IT or medicine. Which is a pity.

UK.gov New Year resolution: must build nuke powerplants

Adrian Midgley

Hopelessly infelxible: no, not that either

The Trawsfynd site demonstrates one simple way to get instant release of stored energy from a nuclear generator. (It pumps water up a hill, and when the load rises, it runs it back through a turbine)

Current reactors are made to provide full power, because that makes sense. Storing power against fluctuations if we ever find we don't have any fossil fuel plants at all, nor wind, nor tide that we can release faster is simple engineering. Large engineering, but simple.

Something on the lines of a Lofstrom Loop, used for its intended purpose or just as a storage and transmission line is complicated engineering, but offers one of several ways to store large amounts of energy for immediate load changes.

Do people who keep repeating these demonstrably false assertions also lie all teh time to their co-workers? How does anyone get anything done around them.