Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas from Santa, his Reindeer and Me

In what will probably be my last posting until the New Year I'm going to generously wish all readers a Merry Christmas by 'stealing' a message from someone else (let's call it 'social networking'). Anyway, this made me laugh and I love the mannerisms in these characters.

Merry Christmas

Tags: , , , ,

British Computer Society Recommend CfH Changes

A report by the British Computer Society is being widely reported at the moment. I wish to do little else than add my voice to those who say "here here". I believe it is a very rounded review and I would urge anyone in the NHS, DH or Healthcare IT to read the full version- and not just what they read in the press.

The only thing I would add is that a move away from monolithic systems to interoperable standards will require an evolution in the maturity of healthcare IT (See There be Dragons in Phase 4). The commercial environment required to enable this out-of-cashflow investment would probably be too large to run alongside NPfIT. As expensive as it is, the systems being implemented through LSPs are only an incremental improvement at a functional level rather than a fundamental rearchitecting. We need to focus on some core areas and keep them simple if this is to work.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New 2009 Ferrari Dino Spotted?

Have I spotted a prototype of the top secret 2009 Ferrari Dino? It is rumoured to be an "entry-level Ferrari to slot below the F430"- this would certainly be that. Or could it be the latest in a craze for ironic modifications to Smart cars in W1, London?

So hard to tell...

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NHS Cautiously Proceeds with Patient Records

It's been announced that Lord Warner has decided that the NHS should press on with the National Care Record System- albeit in a watered down 'summary' format and with the ability to opt-out and keep your data local.

I welcome the news. Well, I welcome the progress bit within the news. We're out of the gate. Personally, I'm happy for the brakes to be taken off the technology but the media suggests that the public thinks differently. This announcement leaves the path open to eventually extend the summary records into being more detailed and provides the opportunity for people to see the benefits. I want all of my medical records on line NOW and I want to contribute to it. It's my information and I feel that future clinicians I have the misfortune to need the services of will be able to serve me better if they have more information. The further away I am from my friends and relatives at home when I need that help, the more I want the information available to clinicians with my life in their hands.

Security? It's doable. What's more, do you know what they're doing now? When were you last asked for your consent? Believe me, technology will be better- it can be explicit. The problem with health care is that moral dilemmas are always a short step away which can bring progress to a stiffling halt. Am I the only person who wants to live longer and healthier?

And in case anyone asks... GPs do not represent me. The media keeps giving the GPs' opinion as if it is surrogate for the public. Not so. Ask me.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LinkedIn Upselling leaves something to be desired...

Now. I'm a big fan of LinkedIn, but even I was left not in the least bit tempted by this attempt to encourage me to extend my professional network. With all due respect to my friends Liz and Bela, librarians are not the top of my list of "must network with". Where are the astronauts, lion tamers and QCs?

Tags: , , , , ,

Partying with Geeks is Fun

Next year why don't you come down to the British Computing Society Younger Professionals Group Christmas Party (BCSYPGCP for short)? This year's event was so much fun you might forget that most of the revellers are professional developers OR testers ELSE businessmen. The event was held at No.5 Cavendish Square- purporting to be a private members club, but seemed to me to be a night club cunningly dressed up as a members club. Nevertheless, we had a great VIP area, a modicum of champagne, nibbles and the opportunity to listen to the diverse careers of those present.

Many thanks to Mervin, Portia, Mark T, Phil, Ed, James, Mark and Abdullah for your company. Mark has even be set the challenge of trying to find this blog from what little information he gleaned from me- watch this space. Sorry to those I didn't bump into (or maybe you were lucky), especially the hostess Jenny, Nigel, Houston & Tom (keep the Brunel spirit alive).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Does IT Matter?

In May 2003, Harvard Business Review published a paper authored by Nicholas G. Carr titled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. A business partner of ours sent it too me and yes, it was thought provoking, and yes, it nearly made my blood curdle.

A Technorati search shows that the article has been widely reported on by AccMan and Navarik. The title isn’t a total red herring designed to hook you in before it makes some clever ironic play. The paper really does make the case that at a strategic level “IT Doesn’t Matter” because it is approaching commodity status. Quite simply- I disagree, especially in health care IT.

1. The article paints a static picture of any company’s IT investments. This is a war of continuous evolution rather than a battle between individual systems.

2. I would argue that the commoditisation of IT provides the opportunity for organisations to construct orchestrated solutions disruptive to markets and their competitors. Customers can apply technologies in ways that the creators of the building blocks had not imagined. This is a highly competitive capability which depends on organisation competence and agility.

3. The investment in IT is being painted in black and white. Because the customer was not intelligent, IT investment was focussed on features that solve problems without consideration of how the problems are solved. The “how” has become crucial because for features from many suppliers to work together requires an understanding of this architecture. I would agree there was overinvestment in features- but only now are we looking at the architecture.

4. You cannot compare, as Nicholas Carr does, IT to electric power or railways by analogy at almost any level. Information simply does not conform to the First Law of Thermodynamics. If the physics don’t stack up, nor will market comparisons. We’re talking about tools for knowledge workers, not core utility services.

5. Technology as a competitive factor in health care is only just beginning. We are along way off a sector with the characteristics this article is describing. Technology is still widely seen as a necessary evil in this sector which is amazing as few other sectors would benefit from computerisation more than healthcare. It is such a complex sector that control of information will make the controllers very competitive. The status quo suits only the incumbant. Managing vulnerabilities is important, but there is an opportunity for a health care IT company to be created out of the current climate who will lead us into the next phase of IT maturity.

*ClickRich’s New Rules of IT Management would therefore be:

Spend wisely, but large investment in health care IT is required to catch up.
Follow on core technologies, lead in how you apply them.
Focus on Opportunities if you are an emerging Health care provider.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is Second Life the new Sharepoint?

With much talk over the last 5 years about collaborative technologies there has been a huge investment in portal platforms- from Microsoft's Sharepoint to Oracle's Collaborative Suite. These platforms essentially extend existing comms user interfaces into the browser, but are they about to be usurped by a game? Virtual worlds designed for entertainment are being turned to by corporates and institutions looking for a richer immersive collaborative experience. The most hailed is Second Life, from Linden Labs, which according to Forbes (and reported on FutureHIT), is used by about 40 companies- mostly for a savvy marketing prescence. Some, such as IBM are reported by Chris Edwards of the IET magazine to have 'secret islands' to try out concepts. Starwood Hotels built a concept hotel so they could gauge the feedback of virtual guests. Campus: Second Life is even structuring learning facilities for use by real life institutions with profiles for their students.

Will this become the norm around corporate offices? Induction Courses the world over will have to add the agenda item "Build Avatar".

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Get a Blog. Get 3 degrees of Seperation!

Read this amazing story about Jason Happe of GA who lost a Swiss Army Knife his grandmother had given him. Years later, a blogger called Rick Lee picked up the knife in the forest of West Virginia and posted it on their site. The site was seen by someone who'd served in the army with Jason and, via his father, the knife made its way home.

Fantastic. It just shows how a sense of community has grown around the blogosphere.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, December 04, 2006

IE7... no, Firefox 2.0. No IE7... or maybe Firefox?

I've mentioned before how I'm broadly very pleased with IE7 to the point where it has retaken the mantle of "Preferred Web Browser, Autumn 2006" from Firefox2.0. I've not mentioned that this was largely on the strength of the "Feeds" feature.

I was interested to read in the Jan 2007 edition of PC Pro that they prefer Firefox2.0 so maybe I'm wrong? They clearly are paid to review products. I just fit this around a busy day job. What would I know?

Not only do they prefer Firefox2.0, but it is on the strength of the feed features! I looked into this a little further and they basically find my source of irritation with Firefox an improvement- that is the drawing of summaries into a live bookmark. The thing is, I was thinking that it's 'neat' for Firefox to have the feeds running off the favourites menu navigation, but I find it an irritation to keep returning there to flick through sources when IE7 can have the feeds pegged to the left hand pane. HOWEVER, being forced to reappraise my assessment and I can now see that you can do the same with Firefox2.0 from the View menu.

So, after all that, the debate is wide open again at ClickTowers. IE7 and Firefox2.0 are neck and neck, until I look into it again...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 Choking on Technorati

I've been using IE7 for quite a few weeks now and it's managed to usurp Firefox 2.0 as my preferred browser for general web use. I still use Firefox but only for very specific things where it just pips Internet Explorer 7. However, IE7 does seem to have a problem with the Technorati site from time to time. It's not all the time, but at least once a day it downloads the page HTML and starts pulling down the images etc when it seems to choke on something "Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site... Operation abandoned"

From this screenshot you can see that it might be the advertisment at the right hand side which is in Flash 9.
In terms of plugins, I only have the Google Toolbar running and I can't imagine that causing instability (the core of IE should be fairly immune to plug in vagries anyway?).

Has anyone else experienced problems?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Boutique Cinema vs BIG Screen Experience

Last night I went to see Casino Royale. Great film. I had in mind a stroll down to Leicester Square for the definitive big screen experience. However, on the recommendation of a colleague I tried "The Screen on Baker Street", one of small chain of just 7 small boutique theatres called Screen Cinemas. What probably particularly grabbed my attention was the mention of comfy chairs and beer and wine. Further, on calling the booking line the Yorkshireman in me was singing from the moortop heathlands at the champion price of just £6.

OK, it wasn't a huge screen or ear drum thumping volume, but it was more than more than up to the demands of this action film. The seats were sure comfy (perhaps more protection from the rear would be appropriate for those unfortunate to be sat in front of us lanky streaks with wayward knees- sorry Mister). The beer was fine. The ice cream was suitably up class. The staff were marvellously helpful and even loaned me a spoon when my ice cream was found to be lacking the prepacked one. I sadly let down their hospitality by leaving the spoon at my seat despite promising otherwise. I hope they let me back in next time.

Unfortunately the bar was light on savoury options (just peanuts really) but hotdogs wouldn't have suited this classy joint. Tapas? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will go back for more- with just two screens I might have to wait a while until they bring in the next feature or travel to one of their other two central London cinemas.

Tonight I'm particularly heartened to see that to have watched the same film, at about the same time, from a similarly positioned seat, on the same day at the Odeon Leicester Square would have cost more than twice as much. Oh, and from my experience there would have been more teenagers keen to impress their dates with how loudly they can shout.

Viva the boutique!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 24, 2006

There be Dragons in Phase 4

Software Development organisations need to be very aware of the maturity model of their industry. Based on the forming, storming, norming, performing model of change management I've devised the following phased model of IT maturity. The bigger they are, the more aware the organisation needs to be because in Phase 4 lurks the small start up who wasn't even on your radar, but who will bring you down.

Phase 1 (embryonic)
-Niche technology pockets addressing specific challenges
-Feature focus. No one minds how you solved the problem, as long as you solved it.

Phase 2 (childhood)
-Technology pockets grow so as to bump up against each other
-Boundaries are created
-Interfaces cause unexpected complications that result in under delivery

Phase 3 (adolescence)
-Responding to the escalating costs and complexity, clients reduce the downside risk and consolidate suppliers
-Fewer boundaries
-Gorilla takes all

Phase 4 (adulthood)
-With benefits realigned with expectation, clients turn to maximising the up side and exploiting new generation technologies
-How you've been solving the problem becomes VERY important, because it needs to be consistent with other methods, frameworks and ecosystems
-Creation of platforms for effective competition
-People who can master taking the same components and reuse them in interesting ways will create new business models that redefine the market

Now we can discuss where your company or sector is, and where you're heading.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Boost for Healthcare IT from Microsoft

Thank goodness Microsoft has finally published its Connected Health Frameworks. A whole toolbox for the healthcare IT sector.

This is a welcome announcement for a sector looking for an IT shot in the arm. I was privileged to see this a few months ago and am glad it’s now in the public domain so we can talk about it. It will be extremely interesting to see how healthcare IT organisations respond to the release. Which will crawl into their shells and which will embrace?

We need to see some maturity in this market. Consumers will expect it.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Full Page Search Engine Ads in London Daily

If ClickRich was starting to look like a "Search Engine Special", with this being the second post on the subject today, then don't be surprised if it happens one day in the real world of publishing. This is because I was amazed to see Microsoft taking out a full page advert in this morning's Metro newspaper in London. A colleague tells me that they had a 'wrapper' advert yesterday. Incredible. The search engine wars are hotting up!

Only recently a friend was remarking how amazing it is that Google is one of the world's largest companies, yet he'd never seen an ad or met anyone who works for them. That could change quickly.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Google Threat to Technorati?

It was only a matter of time, but Andy Boyd seems to have spotted Google dabbling with integrating blog search technology into its heavyweight main search engine.

A bit of competition for Technorati will keep things interesting.

Watch this space.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vacuuming whilst I Work

As I sit here in my office something amazing is going on in my living room. A robot is vacuuming the carpet for me. All I had to do was charge the iRobot Roomba and tell it to start and off it goes vacuuming, detecting and avoiding obstacles, concentrating more on the dirty bits and even getting under the sofa where my Dyson hasn't been in years.

With 120 minutes of battery life, I'm just leaving it too it. On the first use it needed emptying regularly (partly due to the small container and in part due to how long since the last vacuuming). However, the point is that you use it more regularly to keep on top of things. The results are great.

I still need the Dyson to help me do the sofa and curtains but when it comes to replacement, there's no need to go for the full blow-your-house-down model- a handheld should suffice. The future is here now. I'm only surprised this technology isn't more pervasive throughout the major players... in the same way that no one would have been impressed if I'd started this post with the statement that a machine is washing my clothes in the kitchen. Next up: Ironing (pleeease!)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

PACS is dead. Long live PACS

It is my prediction that the days of the acronym "PACS" are numbered. Picture Archiving and Communications Systems are the hospital systems that store all those digital diagnostic images- X-ray, mammogram, MR, CT etc.

They need phenomenal storage capacity (Terabytes) and distributing those images (usually of the DICOM format) from the imagers to radiologists is therefore non-trivial.

When did you last hear an application based IT system have to define itself as a communication system? That's inherent in the fact that it is information technology. It feels illogical to make a big deal out of that, reflects challenges largely in the past and aspires to monolithic systems. I try and use the terms "DICOM Storage", "DICOM Viewer" and "Radiology Writer" to describe the constituent parts and apply as appropriate. Processes are being reengineered such that these elements are being reused in ways the inventing technologists hadn't imagined and the PACS term will itself be reengineered.

There's a lot of inertia in the acronym by virtue of the intellectual capital (deals, research papers, products, implementations) invested in it, so I don't expect a change any time soon... but watch this space

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Google helps to Diagnose Patients

As a one time sufferer of the rare illness henoch schönlein purpura, I'm very familiar with the concern surrounding undiagnosed conditions. In my case it was the 80's and the efforts of a non-medically qualified, but very concerned, mother were more effective than the doctors in diagnosing an illness that aflicts just 14 people per 100,000.

So, I was very interested in how doctors are beginning to embrace the technology of the raging-consumer success that is Google. A British Medical Journal article reports on the success rate of search engines in helping unravel unusual and complex symptoms. Ironically, it is usually professionals that pioneer new technologies which subsequently filter into the high street and home. In this case it's been the reverse. Nevertheless, better late than never.

So, is this the end of doctors? Not really. Using Google, users successfully identified 58% of diseases published from a range of symptoms from The New England Journal of Medicine. It takes a qualified, intelligent human being to take that success rate beyond 80%. The computer is just doing what computers have always done well- to sift through huge amounts of knowledge (in this case pretty much the accumulated medical knowledge of the human race) and present it back in a prioritised fashion. You can't train a human to do that.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cisco to Invest in Demonstrator Baseball Stadium

You have to wonder how bleeding edge we still are with wireless technology when Cisco needs to take such a prominent role in a project to build a $400-500m stadium for the Oakland As. This implementation does sound jaw dropping but it tells me that clients, construction companies and even tech partners aren't ready to treat these technologies as business-as-usual.

Still, I'm feeling the 80 applications they've considered!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 13, 2006

Adults need to know about Line Rider

This is a post for the adults out there. This is because everyone under the age of 18 will know about this phenomenon already. Nothing makes you feel middle aged like being sent a link to a website which you think is really cool and then to find out that the kidz have been blogging about it for nearly 2 months (thanks to Technorati's chart for that info). The toy (the author says it's not a game because there's no objective) is called Line Rider, and very easily enables you to draw lines that a little character can then sledge down... or crash.

In its simplicity the game is really fun, but the big hook is in how people are recording their results to YouTube. These videos made my 10 minutes of playing look pathetic. Either there's some seriously mispent youths evolving out there, or the next generation are evolving some talent beyond mere hand-eye coordination.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

3.5G Data Card Brings Life to Commuter Train

On the red eye express where most of my fellow commuters seemed dead to Monday, my new 3.5G data card from Vodafone (Qualcomm under the hood) was the only sign of life this morning. The card seems a bit slow to make its initial requests (I guess theres some validation going on) which is frustrating, but once in full stream it is seriously quick. By the time I'd done the painless installation I only had chance to try the various basics so that's about all I can review at the moment. However, even then (maybe 5 minutes use) I'd used about 1.5 of my 50Mb per month tariff. I'll have to keep an eye on that!

In the software there appears to be a neat WLAN finder directory. However, entering Cafe and London results in a long enough list that you don't seem able to navigate beyond 'C' and Costa Coffee. A minor gripe in an otherwise pleasant out-of-the-box experience.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Engineering to Make You Proud

So I was on an internal American Airlines flight a few days ago and I thought I'd flick through their in-flight magazine to see what I could spend my last few dollars on. This is the nation that brought you "Man on the Moon"TM and "The Production Line, Inc", so there had to be some great gadgets.

Well, they practically had to lift me off the floor when I saw the iPod toilet roll holder.

I could hardly contain my incredulity when, on the same page, I saw both adverts for a device to help your beleagured pet to climb onto your furniture AND a gizmo for scaring them off. Can we not make our minds up? Pets on the bed or pets off the bed? Let's not confuse our labradoodles with these messages! Perhaps the idea is that you buy both and keep your canine friend exercised?

You wonder whether this in flight magazine is there for the entertainment more than the revenue opportunity. Thank you American Airlines.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 10, 2006

Studying Blogging

What did you study at school or university? Latin? Maths? Physics? Well, some lucky students in Interactive Media Studies (or is that Strategies?) at Bournemouth University have, as part of their studies, been asked to set up a blog. Although not all have embraced the idea, see The Reluctant Blogger, the blogosphere has been fanned with a flurry of new bloggers. Some of opened up with good humour (that was my tactic, how long will it last?), others matter of factly, but it will be interesting to see how they pan out over the duration of the course. Point your RSS readers at Bournemouth Uni!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

IET Lecture on Climate Change

Thank you to the nearly 40 of you who came along to last night's Institute of Engineering and Technology lecture on "How to Drive a 4x4 and Still Save the Planet" in Bournemouth. I saw no 4x4s or bicycles in the car park as I left, so I presume that everyone got away ok! Any feedback would be welcome. Usually we use paper feedback slips, but in the interests of the environmentally conscious subject matter and to give me a break for not getting round to it, I will take that feedback through comments to this blog and emails.

This year's attendance figures are really showing an upswing, but it would be great to see more students coming along to enjoy the event, including pre and post refreshments. Please contact Mark Linney ( if you want to become actively involved in the Young Members Section, otherwise stay posted to our Yahoo Groups or IET Local Network website (less up to date, but it's the official site) for details of upcoming events. Of course, stay tuned to this blog too- all Bournemouth events and some others will be posted here.

Finally, a huge thank you to Anthony Day for taking such a complex and interwoven brace of issues and presenting them in such an informative and entertaining way. We rarely have so much debate stimulated by the end of an event and look forward to the publication of your book.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lessons in Blogging- Rights and Responsibility

A recent series of posts by an employee of a US healthcare provider has landed him in hot water for his criticism of the technology decisions made by his bosses. His postings have been amplified by other blogs. I don't wish to comment on the specifics of this case.

Technology is complicated. There are rarely right decisions. Most decisions are a trade off with associated risk mitigation. When raising concerns in a corporate environment, you will rarely be criticised if you act professionally. The key is to avoid looking like a whinger or someone with an agenda. I'm not saying that senior management is infallible, but if you are not seen to carry your right to complain in parity with your responsibilities, you could find yourself on extended leave.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

American Climate Apathy?

Over my breakfast in Madison, WI this morning, the front page headline of the Wisconsin State Journal read "Helping save the world, one day at a time". I was pleased to see that some Americans, notorious for being the world's gas guzzling Kyoto-dodgers, are giving climate change top billing. However, the midterm electioneers seem to be fighting in very different territory- who is and isn't enjoying the services of same sex escorts and the use of IT in the voting booths, for example. Whilst out and about tonight I'll see if I can gauge public opinion on the climate... least, public opinion as seen through the bottom of a beer glass. If you live in Madison want to avoid the nosey Brit, avoid the Angelic Bar and Great Dane Pub & Brewery.

Incidentally, I was also stunned to see that over $2billion is being spent on the midterm campaigns. More than the last presidential election!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

RIP Pluck RSS Reader

It's a sad day at ClickTowers on reading the news that Pluck are withdrawing from the RSS Reader market. It seems that they've found some effective ways at earning revenues by targetting the publisher (and their budgets) which make their consumer facing products nonsensical. I've been a happy user of Pluck for a year or so. Oh well, I'm sure a star will come forward to fill the void. Perhaps it's time to try the inbuilt readers of Firefox and IE7 (another reason that Pluck have thrown in their towel on this one).

Aren't you glad you never got round to that corporate roll out?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Technorati not indexing properly

I've been restrained. I've kept my lid on. It could just be me, you see. I don't want to lower my high brow blog (ha ha) into the gutter and use it to leverage my complaint- surely?

You better believe it.

Regular readers (ok, put your hand down mum) will know that I'm a big fan of Technorati. However, they seem to have stopped indexing my site properly. I've not changed the way I ping. I've not changed the site structure. I upgraded to the Beta Blogger, but the problem didn't start immediately. Anyway, according to Technorati I've not posted anything for about 25 days. The problem seems to get worse too, in that previously indexed posts are being removed from their listing! Stranger and stranger.

Surely it's not just me. Or is it? They're out to get me. I knew it.

The problem is exacerbated by three weeks of three support emails (correctly labelled with support tickets etc) going unanswered. Please please please Technorati. Help me.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Adobe Acrobat 1: Information Governance 0

I was looking for a piece of information earlier today and stumbled across a PDF document online courtesy of Google. It turns out that the document is a 'leaked' "Commercially in Confidence" report of the National Audit Office on the NHS's National Programme for IT. The copy I was looking at was on the BBC website. There are some things in the report which would come as no surprise for most professionals, but obviously the press picked up on them and had a field day. What is really interesting though is that either the source or the BBC chose to black out some of the text which they deemed particularly sensitive. Therefore you can't read it in the PDF...

...or can you?

Of course you can. You simply select the blacked out text and cut and paste it into another application. Hey presto, you can read it as plain as day.

It makes for interesting reading, but my point is that office applications are so feature rich these days that users often lose out in the security stakes to them. "Track changes" in Microsoft Word is also a great example. The contracts I, or my colleagues, have been sent where you can recollect the internal discussions and tactics of the opposite parties, never cease to surprise me.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Abuse of Chatham House Rules

I was pleased to meet with Richard Granger, the Director General of NHS Connecting For Health, (aka NHS IT Chief) earlier this week. I have to say he was very impressive and it was a good opportunity to hear about the GREAT progress being made in many areas of the National Programme for IT. Clearly, all things the press is not interested in printing.

However, I can't say any more because the event was Chatham House rules. That is, people can take away what was said in the meeting, but it is not to be referenced in a way which makes it attributable to any individual present. This encourages openness and enables us all to learn from mistakes as well as successes.

Richard Granger suffers much at the hands the media. You could argue that's just part of the job- and that is fair enough. My point is that comments which he made last week in a Chatham House rules governed event are now splashed across the pages of the New Statesman and have been picked up by all the usual healthcare IT publishers. We have to lose this rapcious appetite for sensational headlines if we can have reasonable discussions we can all learn from.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 13, 2006

How to Drive a 4x4 and Still Save the Planet

How to Drive a 4x4 and Still Save the PlanetA date for your diaries... I'm pleased to announce the second* of the 2006 programme of the Institution of Engineering and Technology lectures in Bournemouth will be on November 9th.

How to Drive a 4x4 and Still Save the Planet
…Will Climate Change Your Life?

A talk by Anthony Day based on his upcoming book about climate change, exploring what it’s really all about and where we should focus our efforts.

Venue: Bournemouth University (Talbot Campus), Coyne Lecture Theatre
Date and Time: Tea/Coffee from 6:30pm. Presentation from 7pm, Thursday 9th November 2006
Meeting contact: Richard Atkinson, Bournemouth Convenor,

This talk is free and open to anyone interested in the topic.

*What happened to the first, I hear you cry? Well, the IEE merged with the IIE to create the IET in the middle of this year (got that?). The previous lecture, "45 million miles from Earth" predated the merger so went under the auspices of the IEE.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How to get your work into the British Library...

Thanks to Steve who pointed this out to me... on 17 October 2006 we will all have our chance to go down in the history books by taking part in the Biggest Blog EVER and go into the archives of the British Library FOREVER.

17 October has been designated as an historic date. The organisers want as many people as possible to record a ‘blog’ diary of this one day - 17 October - which will eventually be stored by the British Library as a permanent historical record of our national life at the beginning of the 21st century. This is a one off, one day diary done on a mass scale – that will itself make history.

The event asks you to write your blog diary at HistoryMatters and ..."Please include in your blog how history impacted on you that day – whether it be simply travelling past an historic landmark, discussing family history at home, watching another repeat of Only Fools and Horses, or listening to Dad’s 60’s music, again!". You don't even need to come up with something profound- they want to record real life. Diaries can be added from 17 to 31 October.

Or you could just write a book, find a publisher, have the book published with an ISBN number... I'll opt for the blog for now.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Web2.0 to hit Health Care with Super-Consumers

Hold on to your hats. Whilst the world's eyes are on the major social networking manouveres by Google, NewsCorp (MySpace), Yahoo et al, there is a breed of niche network providers squaring up to fundamentally change entire sectors. The latest is OrganizedWisdom which enables people to share their health care experience. Whilst the site might not be rewarding today... just watch as the knowledge base explodes exponentially on the back of the user base growth. The whole thing will start to feed itself and, as long as the back end and finances of this service can scale, I predict that this could become the hottest technology in the whole health care sector.

There is a fantastic interview with the co-founder, Unity Stoakes, by Shahid Shah on Healthcare Guy. I've not seen such a well formed description of the impact of Web2.0 on health care. Doctors talk about the Google effect bringing patients in with ideas about what's wrong with them. This is just the start of a new wave of super-consumerism.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Service Oriented Architecture Landmark

On Monday, probably the world's leading provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) through it's CRM solutions, upped the ante. Now that users are comfortable with the web based software delivery model, Salesforce are making AppExchange (ApEx), their proprietary application language, available to customers and developers. This means that Salesforce will become closer to being a data and processor utility. The utility's services will be available to users through the use of ApEx.

This is a major shift in marketing... not a shift in policy, as this infrastructure play must have been their long term play for many years (otherwise they'd have farmed it out). Salesforce are now in direct competition with SAP. Who'd have guessed that when the company was founded in 1999? That's why they're worth 3 times as much as YouTube :)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Future of 'Ologies' in the UK

On Saturday I surprised myself by attending an interview with Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, by Anthony Minghella at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. I'm glad I went. Ostensibly, it was an interview about the Chancellor's book (a collection of his speeches over the last decade), but clearly a Prime Minister-in-waiting had to be prepared for the scope of questions to broaden beyond "Who are your favourite authors?".

What it made me realise is that I need to find more opportunities to delve beneath the media politics which come and find you, and upon which we are superficially informed about policy and manifestos. I need to find platforms where politicians are able to expand on their vision. Gordon Brown is an extremely intelligent man with a deep sense of history from which his vision of Britain is born. Party politics aside, prior to Saturday I'd have voted Cameron if I was asked to choose a Prime Minister tomorrow. However, I couldn't imagine, even with an Eton education, David Cameron being able to hold a candle to the depth of Gordon Brown's knowledge of the world and humanity. The snappy style of modern politics doesn't give you a chance to see how the minds of politicians understand and unravel incredibly complex issues. Sound bites don't cut it.

However, much as I applaud Gordon Brown's vision of a Great Britain competing in the global economy with high value science, engineering and technology, I can't reconcile this against the culture of celebrity New Labour has presided over. There have been too many closures of University science departments. Despite this loss of educational capacity, demand is even lower. According to an article in The Guardian., "Engineering and technology has seen the second slowest growth in student numbers, stagnating at around a 4% rise over the 10 years from 1995 to 2005 - and well below the average growth of 56%".

No doubt the reasons are based in deep and complex cultural characteristics beyond the limitations of quick fix mechanisms from Westminster. I fear that David Cameron doesn't have the ability to get to the bottom of these issues. I think Gordon Brown does. Whether the wheels of their parties will allow either man to do anything about it is another matter.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Tan in the UK in late September!

Southampton WaterI've just had a great weekend of sailing, but you have to wonder what's happening to our climate when you can get a tan in just two days in the waters of the UK in late September.

Am I overreacting or wouldn't this have been possible 50 years ago? I'm going to be looking at this Climate Change subject more closely over the coming months so stay tuned.

Thanks to Pod, Pip and Bri for a fantastic weekend.

Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome IPExecSearch to the Blogosphere

A friend of mine recently set up a blog to help engage potential customers for his Intellectual Property business by explaining the issues at play and reporting on topical situations. Nothing like my unfocussed rantings then!

There are some really interesting articles about Apple's 'pod' and 'podcast' claims and what's happenning with the Rover brand.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bluetooth set to be usurped by Wibree?

Bluetooth has long had it's critics. It was highly commendable of Ericsson to release the fruits of their research into an open standard, but there has long been a feeling that Bluetooth compromised in many areas. This is hardly surprising given that the potential applications for personal area networks weren't clear back then.

About a decade on and Nokia has come up with something more compact, less power hungry and cheaper called Wibree. They intend to have it ratified as a standard so third parties can adopt it. However, do the third parties have the appetite for another standard when they're already so committed to Bluetooth?

What we need is a killer app for Wibree that Bluetooth couldn't tackle. Then consumers can make up their minds. Been here before? Of course we have. We were surprised when SMS became the killer app of GSM. Videocalls and internet access is being touted for 3G, but take up has been slower than expected. Bluetooth is often used for headsets, but synchronisation with laptops and PDAs is hardly setting the world alight. Personally, I struggled to make it work. Wibree could find applications in more ubiquitous products such as watches, clothing and jewellery.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Humour on our Trains

I was very amused to hear the aggrieved and candid announcement that the 30 minute delay to our Virgin train this evening was "...due to poor regulation". They can scarecely conceal their frustration with National Rail.

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, September 15, 2006

There's a New Pub in Town Pard'ner...

...The Gunmaker's in Marylebone. Actually, it's a pub under new management and with a bit of a polish up, but that wouldn't have sounded very gunslinging.

Last night was the official opening night with John at the helm and what a great turn out. The drinks were flowing and dodgy Den (pianist at The Savoy and Connaught by day) was bashing out the tunes, scarcely needing to look at his hands, and including a remarkable rendition of the Mike Oldfield classic, Tubular Bells. There were nibbles being passed around the splendid wood panelled parlour and my drinking buddy, Tom, and I had a thoroughly good time. Incidentally, Tom's mission is to find this blog armed with just his knowledge of me, so keep an eye on how long it takes a comment to appear.

Good luck to the Gunmaker's.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chekhov at the Chapel

My friend Becca and her colleagues who formed the Cilgwyn Theatre Company have finally (c'mon Bex, pull your finger out why don't you) got their first show off the ground and onto the stage of the Union Chapel in Islington. As everyone who knows me will atest, I'm not the thespian type (I was even choking on my own modest name drop in the first sentence of this post), but people whose opinion counts, such as The Guardian, reckon it would be worth turning out for.

Personally, I trust Bex and, if that weren't enough, I'll be there for the canapés supplied by her culinary gifted brother, the Kitster, at the Gala performance on 19th September. I believe it's a case of bring your own Doritos from that point in.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

London to Paris in 2hr15mins

It would seem that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link programme is one of the UK's best kept secrets. A week or two ago I caught a train from London to Nottingham. I was literally gobsmacked by the contruction happening at St.Pancras, so when the opportunity arose to listen to a talk by the Implementation Director, David Bennett, at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, I leapt at the chance.

In the event, I was lucky enough to grab a few drinks with David afterwards which was a bonus. It is sort of deliberate that the programme is not entertaining the public gaze- which can be very distracting for these mega-programmes. It's not easy to hide a £7bn spend. I'm comfortable that my blog hasn't exactly given Mr.Murdoch many sleepless nights so this hardly qualifies as publicity, but WOW, WHAT A PROGRAMME. David was keen to point out that this is all tried and tested technology, BUT in my view the resultant effect is a fundamental change. When 'Section 2' (the bit through, and under, east London) opens in 2007 you could be in Brussels in 1hr51 and Paris in 2hr15mins. This is the scheduled time- suggesting it could be even quicker with a perfect schedule and green signals. Looking at the achievement another way, imagine cruising through the motorways of Kent at 70mph to have a train pass you doing ANOTHER 100mph on top.

How can airports hope to compete with those times- especially when you factor in the punctuality statistics and the effect of check-in times? I love airports, but I'm no air martyr.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yoghurt Wars

Life is good. How do I know this? I know this because a flippant comment by yours truly about which is the best yoghurt was put the test by one of my colleagues and he disagrees. Life isn't about careers, size of house or what car you drive. It's a tapestry of those things that make you laugh.

OK, soppy post over. Down to business, this is yoghurt war. Which do you prefer? Onken Wholegrain Biopots or Rachel's Organic Wholemilk?

The answer "Ski" doesn't work. Do not pass Go, return to the 90's. Vegans may participate with the permission of an omnivore.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 11, 2006

Why are Americans great salespeople?

I've just come off a several hour long, 4 way, web demo from a potential US partner, our HQ and a couple of our employees from home. The sales team made me feel really bad. Why? I must have spent days worth of accumulated hours pitching to potential US customers in previous lives and they must have been bored stiff by my unimaginative banter. At the time I thought I was well prepared, but these folks have taken the art of sales to a whole new level of preparation.

These folks are a nation of salespeople. In the UK, we might be a nation of shopkeepers, but we need to break out from behind the counter and do something different. These guys had a team of 6 or 7 role players running through a well practiced (sorry, practised) script with very natural, but no doubt highly calculated, humour.

It was an absolute pleasure.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Google News Archive- we need to find more time to play with this stuff

I think Google must believe that I have either too much spare time or that my career endeavours are not worthy. Why? Well, they keep introducing these new services whose only purpose must be to distract us from reality and suck us into endless wild goose chases after meaningless factoids. From Google, to Google Earth to Google Desktop... and now Google News Archive Search. What is Google News Archive Search?

Someone has been busy scanning archives of newspapers and running them past Optical Character Recognition (OCR) before the usual Google formula of indexing for search. This means that I can search on my home town, Ilkley, and pull up an article from the Saturday 18th April 1891 edition of the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel and see that the nearby Bolton Abbey was a place that "few Americans have seen because of its remoteness"; contemporary reports about the arrival and life of Rev Dr Robert Collyer, the famous Unitarian minister and close friend of Andrew Carnegie; and in the Liverpool Courier of 26th Jan 1897 about the death of two boys, Waterhouse and Berridge, on a stretch of the river that I used to play in. Over a hundred years ago! Some of the OCR is dodgy, but if you have patience to interpret the text, it's fascinating.

This must be a rich source for historians and I look forward to seeing if it can make a contribution to my genealogy endeavours. The pay-per-view and subscription results are a pain for a tight-wad like me though.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

BT Movio kept under wraps or were we just not on the ball?

This morning it was announced that BT is to launch its 'Movio' television-to-your-mobile service through Virgin Mobile in the UK on October 1st. Owners of the new 'Lobster' phone (about time we named our consumer electronics after animals) will be able to watch BBC1, ITV1 and Channel 4 on their phone. They won't even have to pay for this to be streamed over 3G as it will cleverly use a modification to the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard which permits it to use IP and stream video over the airwaves. Users will also get 50 audio radio stations as a by-product.

What I find interesting though is how BT cleverly kept this convergence of technologies under wraps to seemingly steal a march on the competition. I, for one, am a technologist who didn't see this coming as soon as it has. As recently as July (just 55 days ago) BT were reporting their satisfaction at the revision to the DAB standards and the ability for them to mix and match with 3G, WLAN and DVB-H. I simply did not put the pieces together and realise the impact of what they were saying. There was no suggestion of the service going live within several months (a heart beat in consumer electronics development).

Was this intentional or had the marketing people just not got to grips with the concept?

I must admit to being a little confused as to whether the TV data comes through a digital radio receiver or through the GSM/3G reciever (there are mixed reports out there), but I'm happy to play the consumer and celebrate the results.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Confused in Leeds

1 City SquareThis might sound extremely trivial unless you can relate to a similar situation, but I've just visited Leeds for the first time on business and it was odd. Why? Well, I must have been to Leeds several thousand times having been brought up for 18 years just round the corner. However, today I commuted there from London and saw the city in a whole new light, stepping out of the station with thousands of city centre workers and making my way, not to the shopping centres to the NE of the station, but to the Central Business District* across City Square... in a suit. It was an immensely strange feeling something like jet lag or time travel (I guess).

Of all the buildings to be visiting, it was the landmark "1 City Square" too. I guess I've just been holding off for an invite to the smartest building in town.

*GCSE Geography raises its latent head.

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, September 04, 2006

Save Energy by moving to Low Voltage Living

Recent time on holiday has been a time to ponder things which usually tumble off the bottom of the to-do list. The first is that of why we need 120 or 240V mains electricity supplies- or specifically whether it is cost effective to transform the voltage down at each of many points of use.

I know that it took us a while to settle to the 120 or 240AC voltage standard, but as I sit here looking across the ClickOffice, I can see several dozen power outlets connected to desktops, laptops, mobile phone chargers, printers, lamps, scanners etc. Without exception, they all need less than a tenth of the sort of power the UK ring main is designed to deliver. Sure, things like electric ovens and washing machines need more- but we have nothing like that in the office. Therefore you have umpteen inefficient transformers producing heat as a by-product of their operation.

I know that changing the power configuration to the wall would be a mammoth commitment, but surely as a developed world we are, or should be, heading in the direction of challenging some deep seated assumptions. Surely it could be worth it on new developments where lifetime costs can be factored in?

What about other options? All our VoIP phones use power over ethernet (POE) with CAT5e cabling. Could more appliances piggyback that? How about daisy chaining desktop power usage off USBs? More than half our lighting is of the 12V halogen variety. Could we use that exclusively?

Lying on the beach on holiday, I just felt this was a little discussed arena in this time of deep concern for energy consumption.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Out of office autoreply

I'm on holiday this week so please leave a comment and I'll get back to you on my return.
If it's a more urgent matter then tough. Eagerly anticipated posts will resume next week, meanwhile burglars have a whole few nights to swing by ClickTowers unhindered by anything other than some highly trained houseplants and a forlorn basil.

"My Verdict: The new Yahoo! Mail is far superior..." � The Wall Street Journal.

Now you can scan emails quickly with a reading pane. Get the new Yahoo! Mail.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Are iSoft exclusively to blame for NHS delays?

It has been widely reported this week that a review of the readiness of iSoft's Lorenzo programme, which is intended for 3 out of 5 of the NPfIT regions and is therefore crucial to the running of the UK's National Health Service, has concluded that there is "no believeable plan" for completion. You can read more about this at the Guardian, E-health Insider and numerous blogs including Blogzilla.

The report was compiled by Accenture and CSC who are leading the Local Service Providers that include iSoft in their teams. Naturally, iSoft are being heavily criticised for major programme management failings but the question I've not seen raised is "Why have CSC and Accenture not reacted earlier?". Afterall, the Lorenzo problems were well known up to a year ago. Accenture say they will loose around £500million as a result of the delays in their LSPs caused by iSoft. When there is so much of their money on the line, surely they should have managed their risk appropriately. Were reviews like the one just conducted, not built into the relationships between Accenture, CSC and iSoft from the beginning? iSoft is rightly taking a pounding in the press, but the NPfIT LSP structure designs the risk to be managed, and carried, by the consortium leaders. Those leaders should be looking hard at themselves right now.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,