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: , , , , , ,