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Downtime: NHS IT, Richard Dawkins, YouTube electioneering

A very, very long NHS appointment waiting list

Downtime has long suspected that the NHS IT programme may be rather unfairly picked on - it is, after all, a fairly sizeable project and a few things are always bound to go wrong. However, a letter from a reader may have forced us to change our mind.

Said reader was trying to book a hospital appointment using Choose and Book, but came up against a bit of trouble in that he could neither choose, nor book. After being offered no appointment slots, one month, three months, or even a year ahead, our intrepid reader searched for appointment slots up to 2056. "When that came back empty I had a slight suspicion that something might be wrong," writes our reader.

"Realising that they had not quite mastered web services, I gave the phone number a try. I was then informed that because I had recently used the online system, the adviser at the NHS was locked out of their system for half an hour! I tried back an hour later, only to be told that they had the same problem as me - ie. no free appointments from now until eternity. So now my details will be sent to the hospital, which will contact me directly (by phone) to arrange an appointment. Technology - don't you just love it!"

Indeed.

South Korean scientists announce Wedding 2.0

Darwinian devotee Richard Dawkins may have made some pretty sharp observations in his book The God Delusion, but Downtime believes that there will always be a place for religion, even in the 31st century.

What is more, scientists in South Korea seem to agree with us. The country has played host to the world's first cyber-wedding conducted by a robo-vicar - a robot that officiates the ceremony. Unlike the antiquated human-style vicar, the new and improved version will come with a handy fast-forward button.

Presidential hopefuls embracing youth again

Snatching votes from young 'uns with attention spans shorter than a game of two-card snap means American presidential candidates must embrace some new technology, namely YouTube.

All this should make the 2008 presidential campaign even more exciting than normal. In among the normal political debates, voters with strong stomachs can watch Hillary and Bill attempting to spoof the last ever scene of the Sopranos.

The youth of today demand interaction with their presidential hopefuls in order to feel out the leader of the free world, which is somehow a little reminiscent of a well-known episode at the White House.

Taking IT sabotage to the realms of outer space

"Set phasers to kill, boys - we have got ourselves a traitor on board!" That is what engineers at Nasa could have said upon discovering that a computer due to be flown to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Endeavour had been sabotaged.

An unidentified employee cut wires inside the computer in what the US space agency said was an intentional and obvious act of vandalism.

Downtime thinks the event could provide the perfect inspiration for the world's first IT-detective show. The story writes itself: rogue network administrator James McByte takes matters - as well as infrastructure cabling - into his own hands as he attempts to bring his bespoke brand of justice to the IT industry.

Each week, the "tech-no-prisoners" cop solves a variety of IT crimes, gets the girl and rolls out an ERP system, all in the space of half an hour. Suggestions for villains and crimes should be e-mailed to the usual address.

If you have a funny IT related story, we want to hear from you.
E-mail computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk


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