Friday, June 30, 2006

OK, I'll Download Firefox

On signing up for the Attention Trust, I was presented with another reason to install Firefox- to use the Attention Recorder.

After an extremely satisfactory introduction of Opera for the Symbian OS into my life, I understand that there are serious benefits to be had from trialling different browsers. I've just never got round to it on my PC. Anyway, with AttentionTrust tipping me over the abyss, ClickRich should soon be enjoying faster browsing, tabbed browsing and live bookmarks.

Watch this space for a report.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mobile computing in Healthcare- more secure than paper?

In a survey reported on the BBC News site, it is claimed that the NHS is failing to use adequate security on portable data storage devices.

I could explore this for hours with the authors.

Although there is the risk of self-interest in the survey being carried out by Pointsec, a mobile data security business, you have to acknowledge that this is how these surveys are funded. The involvement of the British Journal of Healthcare Computing should provide a steadying hand (although they need something tasty to write about).

Anyway, let's put that behind us and think about what we mean by adequate security in the context of healthcare IT. Sure, sensitive patient data is being carried around on mobile devices by doctors. If those devices fall into the wrong hands then we can do nothing but consider that to be a bad thing. It goes without saying.

However, what did we used to do? We used to carry all that sensitive information on paper in briefcases... often quite attractive, solid, leather cases. Emminently thievable. This is not a new risk.

I'm not saying that mobile security doesn't need addressing, but we should take this in context. The nature of the risk environment has certainly changed:

1. More records are stored on the mobile devices than was carried around on paper.
2. More details are stored in each record to improve clinical decision making.
3. Healthcare IT credibility is influenced by the consequences of security compromise- no one was responsible for paper!
4. Users depend on expert advice to assess and ensure security.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why is the NYSE trying to buy the LSE?

Storyboarding the future is a tried and tested trick of technology consultants, but this 2015 video by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein is one of the most motivating agents of change I've seen. You can't imagine their managers being anything other than spirited to embrace change after watching this. I like the way that the BIG rival of Goldman Sachs is singled out for attention.

Want to see what happens to the likes of eBay, Amazon, Google and Sony? Watch the video. Although there is a disclaimer at the end, how can you not believe this video has been sent back to us from the future? cynics.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LlamaGraphics Close but no Cigar

In an earlier post I lamented the limitations of the preinstalled Task management software on the Symbian OS of my Nokia N70. I thought I'd found the answer to the problem in LifeBalance from LlamaGraphics. However, Symbian isn't supported.

They do deserve an honourable mention though, for what appears to be a cracking piece of software (both from a review of the website and the plaudits of a colleague who uses the PalmOS flavour on his Treo).

I'll continue to twiddle my thumbs though...

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4G Spotted

Just when you were thinking about upgrading to a new 3G phone, someone mentions 4G and you freeze...

What now?

Much like the annual hunt for the first Christmas Selection Packs to hit the shops, I've spotted the first public reference to 4G telephony outside of techy circles (and if I'm honest, without really looking seriously).

And it came from the Johnny Latecomers of the mobile industry- the US. They've caught up, and in the shape of Sprint Nextel's CEO, Gary Forsee, have announced their intention to go through the next step change.

However, after the performance hype of 3G, Mr Forsee is being more circumspect and referring to a "10 fold cost-performance improvement" which keeps the detail nice and wide open.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

A Bridge Too High

Millau BridgeActually, more of "A Pun Too Far" as the Millau Viaduct is certainly very high (the highest in the world, in fact) but not too high (as far as my structural-integrity-o-meter can tell). MissClick and I visited the Millau Viaduct in the Midi Pyrenees region of France last week. To be fair, MissClick was largely being tolerant of my selfish wishes in agreeing to drive to Millau, but I think both of us stood in awe of the spectacle before us (over our emmental and chorizo half bagettes).

As you travel north you are suddenly launched out of a cutting into a cliffside onto the bridge. It doesn't carry water, so why it is named a viaduct is news to me- because it travels over water? Not what I was taught. Anyway, you are suddenly the height of the Eiffel Tower above the valley floor and marvelling at the cable stays and pylons, before you're scrabbling for change at the peage toll booth.

We then lunged down into Millau and, via a viewing point (and lunch), round to the information centre.

Rather cutely, the petrol forecourt of the supermarche in the shadow of the viaduct reflects the structure in the form of the canopy supports.

Still, I'm sure the British architects Foster & Partners won't be suing for infringement of intellectual property... and if you don't like bridges, just visit one of the Roquefort Fromageries round the corner and all will be good again.
Millau Viaduct

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Redefining Healthcare

Although this book is only available on import from the US and is written about the woes of the US Healthcare market, "Redefining Healthcare" by the celebrated Management Consultant Michael Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg, is essential reading for anyone in healthcare management.

The analysis is hugely incisive, lucidly delivered and astutely structured, leading to conclusions which apply in any country's healthcare market.

This is a future shaper... Shining the light on one of the megatrends of this generation.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BBC's Tech Savvy Credentials Proven

On Monday I commented on the fact that Robert Scoble's resignation from Microsoft was even reported by the front page of the BBC's news site. Well, for what should be a fuddy duddy organisation, the BBC showed how leading edge it is when Robert Scoble himself published his blog traffic stats. Who was the top referrer by a factor of nearly 3? The BBC website. Worth paying the TV license for.

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Business Rules Rule

I met with the founder, and what seemed like half the Board, of a business rules management system (BRMS) vendor this week. They pretty much defined the genre by convincing Forrester of its emergence. A natural extrapolation of the Expert Systems of the 1990s, BRMS is really starting to shake up the way us technology users handle short cycle requirement changes. Ian Grahms has written extensively on the subject. I believe all the ingredients are in place to make this sector explode- processing power, knowledgeable buyers, componentisation of enterprise systems etc. Watch this space.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Voicemail to Text

Has anyone (especially in the UK) tried any voicemail to text gateway services like SpinVox? I fancy giving it a go, but my voicemails are so valuable that even a free trial doesn't quite cut it. I'd like some recommendations from strangers please :) I lose so much time to catching up with Voicemails because I can easily do 4 to 8 hours of meetings a day. Whilst I can do sub-2 minute tasks and emails in some of those meetings, I can't check the voicemails. Then I need to spend an hour catching up at the end of the day and carrying tasks through to tomorrow. It would be so much better to deal with the voicemails as emails in the meetings.

I'm worried about setting it up and then not being in control. Anyone?

Also, any alternatives to SpinVox out there?

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Not all US Politicians are Blinkered

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore tries to break through US apathy towards the environment. Now we just need that other US politician (you know, the one that calls the shots) to watch the film. It might trigger something.

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Even the Beeb Website leads with Scobleizer Story

You must have heard, it's all over the web, Robert Scoble has resigned from Microsoft. You can read about it e v e r y w h e r e.

As a sign of the growing importance of blogging, and in particular of the corporate blog, what is very interesting is how the story managed to break onto the home page of the BBC News website. You can read the stats on how many people read Scobleizer, but this is a real milestone.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hobbits, Chewing Gum, Greensleeves and Fine Knit Sweaters

They don't sound like likely ingredients for the local history of Branksome Park in between Poole and Bournemouth. However, Iris Morris's book "Looking Back at Branksome Park" (one of a series of local history books by the same author published by Old Thyme Publishing, Poole) presents a painstakingly researched account of the area which links these disperate entities.

I can recommend this book for anyone who wants to see a history interwoven with residents such as JRR Tolkien, The Wrigley family (of chewing gum fame), Mantovani (the orchestra leader and musical arranger who had a best selling record with Greensleeves in 1952) and the Marsden-Smedley family (of John Smedley knitwear).

I never knew this area had such interesting characters chronicled alongside the better known residents such as the Duke of Westminster and Lady Wimborne (auntie to Sir Winston Churchill).

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

3.96 Million New Websites Last Month

Largely fuelled by the blogging phenomenon, Netcraft measured the largest increase in the number of websites in one month since their records began. Their June 2006 survey recorded 3.96 million new websites (that's 4.7% in proportional terms). Back in March 2003 there was an 8.5% increase in one month, but this was beaten in absolute terms this time round.

In the rest of the analysis, it is interesting to see Microsoft platforms continuing to take share from the market leading LAMP brigade (with the Apache server).

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

43Folders added to my RSS feeds

Just as folk are maybe starting to thing that I AM David Allen due the number of plugs I give his book, I find a bigger blog-based advocate in 43Folders. The first article I read was advice on shaving which was a pleasant surprise. The author, Merlin Mann, takes a broad view of productivity and writes about 'life hacks'.

The name 43 Folders comes from the number of folders in a tickler file. Don't know what a tickler file is? Well, read the book and then go and set one up.

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Nokia N70 Task Synch Problem

Anyone reading my blog recently will know that I'm on something of a mission in maximising my personal productivity and that of my colleagues. It all started with the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen (more to be found in this blog and more to follow).

However, I'm in need of someway of categorising my Tasks as they synchronise onto my Nokia N70. Obviously, Outlook is able to categorise what I need (agenda, office, PC, phone, projects, waiting). Unfortunately, the To-Do app on my phone (preinstalled) doesn't get that piece of info when I synch. The result is that my personal management system isn't working for me. Well, perhaps it's working, but is my next BIG hurdle in pursuing my increase in productivity (and a better lifestyle).

Any ideas? Anyone used an alternative java to-do/task list app for the Symbian operating system?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

NTL:Telewest report 2 hours a day of office timewasting

In a press release today, NTL:Telewest report that, on average, UK office workers waste more than 2 hours a day. Presumably this excludes pursuing futile bids and sales calls from water fountain companies :) 38 minutes was allocated to communication technologies not being used to good effect. This is something we're trying to manage sensitively in our office- especially email. You need to remember that each email distracts the recipient for a minute or two, so does that warrant sending the email- or should the subject be modified to indicate how it might be handled?

Several of us have been so impressed with "Getting Things Done" by David Allen, that we're rolling it out as compulsory reading around the office and even had a presentation by a particular long term advocate. I've started to embed the processes into my working life and am finding I'm much more productive and much more able to leave work behind (consciously and subconsciously) on an evening or weekend. I trust the systems I've put in place. Much more to do though.

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A picture says a thousand words

Few areas of IT sound dryer than 'Knowledge Management' which is quite something when you bear in mind that this is already spin on 'Document Management' *yawn*. However, in investigating extranet and portal solutions, I've just been given a demo of some visualisation tools from Information Graphics (or Infograph). They have quite a product portfolio, but I was I taken with the Brava! suite of apps that specifically deal with viewing and annotation of images. What is really, ahem, 'cool' is that using java or .NET (API/applet thingumbies) they have been able to let the browser view so many formats of images, from the obvious big 5 (jpg, tiff, pdf, bmp and png) through to specialist CAD formats and twenty or so document formats (no, not just Microsoft). You can then annotate what you see without touching the original- the data is stored in an xml layer.

With so many collaboration solutions making use of the Internet through products like Microsoft Sharepoint, Oracle Collaboration Suite, BEA Plumtree and Metadot, Brava is a company I'd invest my two-penneth in.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

How do they do that?

This weekend, we (the Royal 'we') visited the Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2005 touring exhibition at The Devon Guild of Craftsmen (it must have taken the year to reach Bovey Tracey). It was much more impressive than I though it would be and was filled with amazing displays, but for me the real takeaway was an understated coffee table in the gift shop by Robert Kilvington.

Perhaps it is the engineer in me, or that my grandfather was a joiner and cabinet maker, but I REALLY want to know how Mr.Kilvington did these joints. I can see how to cut the shapes, fiddly as they may be- but think about it, how do you bring these two pieces together? It's a conundrum and would love to know the secret. Wonderful.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Believe in Magic? Don't Watch This

We all know that magic is a clever illusion right? Well, bear that in mind as you watch this video.

Guys are showing this stuff on TV now, so I'm not so worried about ruining Christmas, if you know what I mean...

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Low PC Pricing Driving Unqualified After Sales Pitches

Something I've been hearing much scorn over recently is how large PC vendors, driven to very low price points, are resorting to after sales pitches which take "batteries not included" to a whole new level. They should be wary of damaging their brands. Obviously after-sales warranties etc are nothing new to any area of consumer electronics, and neither is the phenomenon of excluding items which had hitherto been inclusive as the competition hots up.

However, recent techniques are generating a whole new level of chagrin. John Ludwig describes how, on buying a low end HP, he spent hours (on top of Windows Activation) being forced through pitch after pitch which stood between him and him and actually doing anything useful.

Extended warranties, internet access, HP registration, Symantec, Money, Quicken, Office, Rhapsody, AOL, AOL Music, Ebay... his list goes on. No doubt that joint marketing deals with HP are very carefully calculated to provide the hooks to turn a $500 purchase into something north of $600. You can't blame them for the effort, but its time we reminded these guys of how many frustrated birthdays were created for simply not including batteries. I still don't forgive Sir Clive Sinclair for not including a mains plug on my Zx Spectrum when my birthday was on a Sunday and the shops were shut.

I also wonder what would happen if you actually said yes to all these offers on a low spec machine. My guess is that you're on the highway to rebuildsville.

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