26 December 2008

School Choices - Stress Increases

As reported in the NY Times: Middle School Scramble - New York has created hundreds of new schools and centralized the admission process but noe of thsi has diminshed every parents fear that "picking the wrong school could dash their children's chances for a top high school"

The downturn will likely add to the anxiety and fear and it remains a high stakes activity that is for many parents myself included a stressful and difficult exercise

23 December 2008

Space is Weaponized

In an thoughtful piece from Stratfor they review the history of space and weaponization and specifically the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” (better known as the Outer Space Treaty) which loosely restricted the miltarization of space and prohibited nuclear weapons in outer space

As they state
Today, it is a cornerstone of global military communications and navigation....... Imagery from space-based surveillance platforms has become commonplace and the Defense Support Program constellation continually monitors the surface of the earth for the launch plume of a ballistic missile. It is an incredibly valuable military domain. And just as it has become more valuable, the United States has become increasingly dependent on it.
They argue and I would agree at this point in time space is weaponized and there is a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in place (albeit launched from earth). At some point in the future we will see a more complete weaponization and space based weapons:
The Pentagon intends to dominate space the same way it dominates the world’s oceans: largely passively, allowing the free flow of international traffic, but with overwhelming and unchallenged military superiority. That will include not only defending assets in space, but holding those of a potential adversary at risk. Currently, Washington can do much of this from the ground; it is not only able to
destroy a satellite with a BMD interceptor, it is also honing the technology to deny and disrupt access to space systems.

08 December 2008

School Teacher Risking Hard Time for School Computer Infected with Malware

If you ever wonder why I get worked up about computer security it is stories of the authorities with little or no understanding chasing after poor innocents stuck with poor software and unprotected computer systems

Cringley posted a couple of clogs - the first here and then a follow up here on the Connecticut Julia Amero case where they went after a school teacher after the PC she was using exploded with pop ups of porn.
Amero's "crime": In October 2004, the substitute teacher from Norwich, Conn., was surfing the Net on a computer inside a middle school classroom when porn ads began popping up all over the screen. She didn't turn the computer off, because school officials expressly told her not to. Someone reported the incident, and Amero was charged with four counts of endangering minors. In January 2007, a jury convicted Amero of surfing XXX sites in the classroom.
You can see the summary here (pdf) which details the findings from a group of volunteer security experts reviewing a Disk Image (but refused access to the firewall server logs)

The PC itself was described as:
Windows 98 PC described by another security wonk as a "pile of living dog **** with absolutely no protection on it"
Familiar story.......thanks to Sunbelt software and their CEO Alex Eckelberry she had the charge "reduced" and just paid a fine but the state refused to admit any wrongdoing.

Be warned even if the company or school or office advice is to leave the PC on it might just be better to turn it off rather than have exploding pop up windows appearing on the PC that are deemed to be your fault. I wonder who it was that originally complained. I have seen this on friends PC's, on home PC's and elsewhere and even with skilled technical resources it can be next to impossible to get rid of this level of infection.

25 November 2008

Minority Report here we Come

Rodent Free Computing
Eat your heart out Jeff Han Perceptive Pixel There's a new game in town:

Oblong Computing and their g-speak spatial computing.....

Minority Report here we come

If you are interested - here is Jeff Han's Video

In case the video does not play here's the Link

Facebook and Blogging for the Fortysomethings

Great piece in Forbes on the Fortysomethigns and the struggle wiht the new media....

...I belong to a cohort--the 40-somethings--that has a peculiar relationship with Facebook. It is a cohort that is entirely comfortable with computers, but which also has a memory of the courtesies and languor of the pre-computer age. We read a lot online, but also have newspapers delivered to our homes. We write e-mail as if we were born with the skill to do so, yet we wrote letters by hand until we were well into
our 30s.
I like Tunku "don't take Facebook for granted" and have a "certain
self-conscious formality". I certainly don't just update my status, I do think before I type (mostly), pondering the effect of the status update on its potential readers...

So now you know.....

11 November 2008

Google predicting flu trends based on search terms

Google has a web site that is using search terms as a method to predict flu trends. Based on identifying the frequency and location of certain flu related search terms. Looking at historical data and linking this to the search trends there is a relationship to incidence.....
Fascinating stuff

07 November 2008

Changing People's Minds

Turns out that changing people's minds is not as difficult as you might imagine. Guy Kawasaki explains this in his blog and refers to an experiment where they took tow groups of people and successfully changed their viewpoint to the opposite position...

He links to some great articles and these are repeated here

Our Secret Attitude to Change
The Hidden Workings of Our Minds
What We Don't Know About Shopping, Reading, Watching TV and Judging People
When we are Fools to Ourselves
At the Heart of Attraction Lies Confusion: Choice Blindness

So for business and life in general - don't assume that someone's opinion is unchangeable....

06 November 2008

The Other Side to the Coin

There are lies, damn lies and statistics and while the "Thought Provoking Video" is exactly that it is not the final word nor is it the forbearer of the demise of the US economy or the US leadership.

MITSloan online has a balancing piece "The Beneficient Dragon"
which details the positive supply side shock of unleashing a huge pool of resources into the world economy. So the shock statistics including the size of the economy and the growth rate are less impactful when looked at with historical perspective
China's growth rate is almost identical to that achieved by Japan in the 1950s and 1960s when that country effectively reentered the world economy after the devastation of World War II
and optimistic projection
Even under the most optimistic assumptions, there will still be a gap in GDP of three to four times in 2050

05 November 2008

Time's Top 50 Inventions

The full list is here but for me some standouts (the numbers are where they are on the list not my personal preferences)

1 23andMe retail Genetic testing
5 the Black Hole creator - Large Hadron Collider
16 Dynamic rotating tower no doubt to be seen in Dubai first
24 Bionic Contacts
for Harry Potter fans 28 the invisibility Cloak
for the new found runner in me 43 high tech running shoes
and coming in at number 50 for the Trekkies like me Geordie's visor pre-curso 50 - A Camera for the Blind


21 October 2008

Thought Provoking Video

Thought Provoking Video
This has been done several times but I like this version and the Music (Fatboy Slim - Right Here Right Now if you were wondering):

Or you can open in Windows Media Player with this link

20 October 2008

Simple advice

I received this recently and it made a lto sense - hope you enjoy

  1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully
  2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
  3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
  4. When you say, 'I love you ,' mean it.
  5. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye
  6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
  7. Believe in love at first sight.
  8. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
  9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
  10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
  11. Don't judge people by their relatives.
  12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
  13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'
  14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  15. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.
  16. When you lose, don't lose the lesson !
  17. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.
  18. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship..
  19. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
  21. Spend some time alone.

19 October 2008

What you can Sneak Through Airport Security

Jeffrey Goldberg's experiences trying to sneak items through various airport checkpoints. No major surprises here (except perhaps that the admission of illegal transportation of items has not resulted in his arrest).
He refers to Bruce Schneier who writes a regular column and is the author of two excellent books on security (Beyond Fear and Secrets and Lies).

15 October 2008

Ridiculous Press Releases

What a great article at the NY Times railing into a press release that was full of its own over blown pomposity

Lessons in what not to use or send out as a press release can be read here

Yikes - am I suffering from Digital Eye Fatigue (DEF) as I write this...? I must have Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). But like the author I definitely have Rolled Eye Syndrome (RES) and Toxic Sarcasm Overload (TSO)

08 October 2008

Time Spent

Current averages
27 hours of TV per week (70 mins /day)
164 minutes of internet usage per day (that's almost 3 hours)
That takes 4 hours out of our day before we do anything else.....

Digital Paper

Not sure how to interpret this technology from Scribd that turns everything into iPaper

They profess to accept all sorts of format and make them readable to everyone (sounds a lot like Adobe PDF except online). Do we need yet another format

07 October 2008

Financial Crisis - Sucking the Oxygen

Not to diminish the crisis but I agree with Neal Patterson from Cerner when he says that the Financial Crisis is sucking the oxygen out of everything else (including healthcare) much like Y2K sucked the oxygen out of everything in 1999

02 October 2008

Mandating Password Complexity

Mandating login specifications that include requiring increasing password complexity on busy clinicians is a recipe for disaster. It may be stating the obvious but there are repeated instances of this security driven initiative

Not to suggest that security is not important - it is but usability and helping busy clinicians deal with complex technical Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems is imperative if we want to create a positive experience and elicit clinicians buy in

Ease of use is essential - this is the detail that is often missed by technically focused engineers who see all this technology through their own rose tinted spectacles that imply that all this technology is easy to use.....

This may not be the only reason that the iPhone is so successful but it is certainly a big part of the success

30 September 2008

Doctor's Feedback on a Dashboard

Science news article on instant feedback to doctors from the Medical College of Georgia

Instant feedback on doctors along the lines of the colored globes that emerged some years back and the feedback screens that are showing up in all sorts of places (immigration, supermarkets etc).

I know feedback is good but not sure getting so quickly will add value and is more likely to add stress.....?


29 September 2008

Is Education killing Creativity

A couple of interesting video interviews by Riz Khan of Sir Ken Robinson that are worth watching:

Part 1

Part 2

Props PresentationZen

Alternative Plan for the Bailout Money

Interesting alternative for bail out money

Whoever T. J. Birkenmeier is, I sincerely salute him.

I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a Well Deserved Dividend.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000

bonafide U.S.=2 0Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman

and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college – it’ll be there

Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car – create jobs

Invest in the market – capital drives growth

Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks

who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company

that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it...instead of trickling out

a puny $1000.00 ( “vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG – liquidate it.
Sell off its parts.
Let American General go back to being American General.
Sell off the real estate.
Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.”

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion

We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

An d remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned

instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Birk T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic

PS: Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it’s either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85 Billion!!

iPhone for Doctors

Interesting blog that features a collection of applications that doctors could use with the iPhone including some video's of these applications


iPhone is not perfect but the interface is very attractive