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Harry Potter, the NHS, e-voting and Amazon

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Good news, bad news for NHS

A mixed week for the NHS, starting off with the bizarre departure of Richard Granger. His exit leaves the world's largest civil IT project looking for a boss. Meanwhile, the fight over the future of iSoft - a key supplier for the project - looks a little rosier. CSC, which was blocking the deal, seems to have changed its mind.

CSC job cuts

While we're on CSC, the firm confirmed this week that it is cutting some 300 jobs. It asked for volunteers, but not enough people came forward. The firm is still looking to cut a total of 5,000 employees from its payroll.

MPs go for consultants

You'd think all those government contracts would keep CSC's earnings on track. Certainly the Public Accounts Committee thinks that a £3bn bill for consultants over the last three years is far too high. NHS IT accounted for most of the growth.

E-voting horror stories

The local elections in May saw the first trial of electronic voting in the UK. And it wasn't a pretty picture. Independent observers found fault with voting machines, but even worse were the electronic devices used to count paper ballots. Not only were they slower than fingers and thumbs, but a subsequent manual recount found a staggering 56 per cent of votes rejected unfairly.

Amazon ditches Royal Mail

As if facing an imminent strike was not enough, the Post Office this week lost its contract for Amazon deliveries. Second class packages earn the Royal Mail £8m a year. Or at least they did. Nothing raises heckles quite like the Post Office. The story is here, along with a whole sack full of reader comments and a Harry Potter conspiracy theory.

Harry Potter spoiler ahead

In other news from Hogwarts, a pesky hacker-type claimed to have used Trojan software to get into various publishers' computers and pinched a transcript of the latest JK Rowling offering. His claims are not entirely convincing, but then nor are his motives - to save us all from a life of paganism rather than improving our literary tastes.

Department of Security not terribly secure

We all know how embarrassing it is to fall prey to a security screw-up. But it's even more embarrassing if security is your job. This week the US Department of Homeland Security had to explain how it fell for 800 attacks. It found password sniffing Trojans, classified emails sent over insecure networks, and that old favourite - people writing down passwords and user IDs.

And, just a few days later, the Pentagon had to shut 1, 500 email accounts because they'd been hacked.

White House secret emails

Of course, one way to ignore security protocols is to use your own kit rather than that provided by your business. White House officials are rather more tightly regulated, or so you might think. Despite clear instructions to only use official email addresses which are secure and properly archived, some 88 senior Bush advisers, including Karl Rove, used private addresses to send emails on official government business.

Biggest ever pirate pays out

The Business Software Alliance is celebrating this week after hitting a British company with the largest ever settlement for using pirated software. The ever-popular enforcement group got £250,000 out of the company concerned.

Sun seeks head

This week also saw the surprise departure of the UK MD of Sun Microsystems.

World's worst words named and shamed

A great poll this week found the 10 worst words spawned by all this new technology stuff. Blogosphere was beaten into second place by the admittedly hideous "folksonomy". Crimes against language documented here.

Musical theatre saved for posterity

Do you remember back in January Andrew Lloyd-Webber getting vexed that radio frequency regulations might lead to the end of radio mikes and therefore of his never-ending bleeding musicals? Well, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Ofcom has reacted to the luvvies' outrage and promised to listen to the concerns of Webber and his ilk.

Google expands ad platform

Google advertisers around the world can get their hands on the new ad platform this week after the search giant extended accessibility beyond the US. Pay per Action should mean you don't pay until someone hits on your site. With Microsoft's recent moves into this area, things are going to get interesting.

MS switches off Office 2003

PC makers are losing access to Office 2003. From 30 June, Office 2007 will be the bundle of choice for new PCs. The decision comes pretty early on because Office 2007 only became fully available in January this year.

US faces more WTO anger

No one likes a bully, and this week the World Trade Organisation lined up to criticise the US for its ban on online gambling provided by foreigners, while allowing good old homegrown companies to operate. Antigua brought the original complaint, but has now been joined the European Union, Japan, and India.

High Def DVD - guess the winning format

Format wars are always fun, as long as you're not involved. The barney over High Definition DVDs mirrors that over Betamax and VHS video tapes. The battle isn't over yet, but film rental shop Blockbuster announced this week it is blessing the Blu-Ray format over rival HD DVD. But it's not discounting HD DVD completely.

That's it from us, thanks for reading and have a good weekend.

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