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Marc Robbins
Lives in Zurich, Switzerland
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Marc Robbins

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Marc Robbins

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A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol says the Model S ran over a tow hitch, which hit the undercarriage of the car, causing an electrical fire.
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+relationclient@programme-voyageur.sncf.com

Ah, sometimes you have to love the internet. And trains.... Rewind 45mins the me in the Gare SNCF in Le Mans.

Me: I'd like an Abonnement Frequence between Le Mans and Basel please.

SNCF: Sorry, that doesn't exist...

Me: I have had one for 2.5 years so yes, I think it does. I can also buy online, but came to you as I enjoy the happy service.

-> 30 minutes of arguing with all the staff insinuating that I am a liar, or have been in an alternate but strangely parallel universe for 2 years

-> I get out my phone, buy the Abonnement on SNCF.fr and give the assistant the reference

SNCF: Err how did you get this, it can't exist... But, yet it does.

-> I tell him not to use the chip and pin on my credit card to pay for the ticket as it is a Swiss card and won't work. He does it anyway and tells me my card is invalid, looking at it like it is covered in anthrax.

-> I correct him again. The card works.

-> I get my ticket and leave, but he won't give me a €150 refund I an due on my previous abonnement as he doesn't believe that the ticket he just have me was real! Even though it was booked on the SNCF website. He printed it and gave it to me.

The window to get the 150€ expires tomorrow, so I'll now lose it... To add insult to injury, I pressed the wrong option on the website and bought for 1 year not six months. Bah.

Ah the joys of traveling by train!
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"If you think the ticked you just gave me is not real, shouldn't you call the police and get yourself arrested as a forger?"
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Marc Robbins

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Want.
 
This is the brand new BMW M5. Technically, technically, that statement is correct. But before you go scurrying off into the world shouting it from the rooftops, brace yourself: it's just a facelift. Well, a facelift and some extra power, courtesy of something called a ‘Competition Pack'.

To coincide with the standard 5-Series facelift and mid-life refresh, BMW has treated The Best Super Saloon in The World to a series of tweaks to keep it on the boil...

Read more at:
http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/bmw-m5-facelift-competition-pack-2013-05-21
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Home at last :)
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About 14 years ago, I got a bad cold, and my voice became hoarse.  At the time I didn’t think much about it.  But my voice never fully recovered.  So I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis.  This is a nerve problem that causes your left vocal cord to not move properly.  Despite extensive examination, the doctors never identified a cause — though there was speculation of virus-based damage from my cold.  It is quite common in cases like these that a definitive cause is not found.

While this condition never really affected me — other than having a slightly weaker voice than normal which some people think sounded a little funny — it naturally raised questions in my mind about my second vocal cord.  But I was told that sequential paralysis of one vocal cord following another is extremely rare.  

Fast forward to last summer, when the same pattern repeated itself — a cold followed by a hoarse voice. Once again things didn’t fully improve, so I went in for a check-up and was told that my second vocal cord now had limited movement as well. Again, after a thorough examination, the doctors weren’t able to identify a cause.  

Thankfully, after some initial recovery I’m fully able to do all I need to at home and at work, though my voice is softer than before. And giving long monologues is more tedious for me and probably the audience.  But overall over the last year there has been some improvement with people telling me they think I sound better.  Vocal cord nerve issues can also affect your breathing, so my ability to exercise at peak aerobic capacity is somewhat reduced.  That said, my friends still think I have way more stamina than them when we go kitesurfing!  And Sergey says I’m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully.  So surprisingly, overall I am feeling very lucky.

Interestingly, while the nerves for your vocal cords take quite different routes through your body, they both pass your thyroid.  So in searching for a cause for both nerves that was an obvious place to look. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis in 2003.  This is a fairly common benign inflammatory condition of the thyroid which causes me no problems.  It is unclear if this is a factor in the vocal cord condition, or whether both conditions were triggered by a virus.

In this journey I have learned a lot more about voice issues.  Though my condition seems to be very rare, there are a significant number of people who develop issues with one vocal nerve.  In seeing different specialists, I met one doctor — Dr. Steven Zeitels from the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Voice Center — who is really excited about the potential to improve vocal cord nerve function.  So I’ve arranged to fund a significant research program through the Voice Health Institute, which he will lead.  Thanks a bunch to my amazing wife Lucy, for her companionship through this journey and for helping oversee this project and get it off the ground.  Also, thanks to the many people who have helped with advice and information many of whom I have not had a chance to thank yet.

Finally, we’ve put together a patient survey to gather information about other people with similar conditions.  As it’s fairly rare, there’s little data available today — and the team hopes that with more information they can make faster progress.  If you have similar symptoms you can fill it out here: voicehealth.org/ip
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Marc Robbins

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I listen to this every Friday without fail... 

To quote Douglas Adams - "Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff drink."

(Edited for my fav version!)
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The packet capture shown in these new NSA slides shows internal database replication traffic for the anti-hacking system I worked on for over two years. Specifically, it shows a database recording a user login as part of this system:

http://googleblog.blogspot.ch/2013/02/an-update-on-our-war-against-account.html

Recently +Brandon Downey, a colleague of mine on the Google security team, said (after the usual disclaimers about being personal opinions and not speaking for the firm which I repeat here) - "fuck these guys":

https://plus.google.com/108799184931623330498/posts/SfYy8xbDWGG

I now join him in issuing a giant Fuck You to the people who made these slides. I am not American, I am a Brit, but it's no different - GCHQ turns out to be even worse than the NSA.

We designed this system to keep criminals out. There's no ambiguity here. The warrant system with skeptical judges, paths for appeal, and rules of evidence was built from centuries of hard won experience. When it works, it represents as good a balance as we've got between the need to restrain the state and the need to keep crime in check. Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason.

Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people. Nobody at GCHQ or the NSA will ever stand before a judge and answer for this industrial-scale subversion of the judicial process. In the absence of working law enforcement,  we therefore do what internet engineers have always done - build more secure software. The traffic shown in the slides below is now all encrypted and the work the NSA/GCHQ staff did on understanding it, ruined.

Thank you Edward Snowden. For me personally, this is the most interesting revelation all summer.
New documents reveal exactly how the Post was able to determine that the NSA was peeking inside the Google and Yahoo's cloud network.
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:)
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He looks exactly like you :)
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Light at the end of the journey...
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Weather is nice in Winterfel this time of year!
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Summerfel?
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In his circles
172 people
Have him in circles
218 people
Lisa William's profile photo
Pal Takacsi's profile photo
Stefan Heyers's profile photo
Ravin Ramkissoon's profile photo
Elias Pinto's profile photo
Nathan Seth's profile photo
Claudia Borges's profile photo
Kitleigh Evans (Kit Clock)'s profile photo
Martin Pilgrim's profile photo
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All the views I express here are personal and my own. They have nothing to do with work, my job or anything else. Just me. 
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