Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Editor, InformationWeek Healthcare
Smart Ways To Deal With Dumb Clinical Alerts
5 Strategies To Fail Fast On IT Projects
I've worked at both companies and government enterprises, and most of them have something in common: lots of rules, gatekeepers, and controls--longhand for bureaucracy. The checks are all well intentioned, but the combined effect is the same: slow, lumbering projects.
Editor, InformationWeek Healthcare
E-Prescribing: Not Quite Ready For Prime Time?
Editor, InformationWeek Healthcare
Physicians Say IT Is Still The Enemy
Founded by clinicians, site called Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care encourages the medical community to share its EHR successes, complaints.
A group of physician health IT leaders has launched a nonprofit website for doctors that's designed to promote the transformation of healthcare through the use of information technology. Although not directly aligned with the federal government's Meaningful Use program, the website, Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care also could help physicians achieve Meaningful Use by aiding them in implementing electronic health records.
Editor, InformationWeek Healthcare
Do Health IT Hires Need A Clinical Background?
- Their identities being stolen—37 percent of Australians, 33 percent of Britons, and 35 percent of Americans
- Personal info exposed on the Internet—30 percent of Australians, 26 percent of Britons, and 29 percent of Americans
- Personal information being viewed by persons not directly related to the patient's care—11 percent of Australians, 15 percent of Britons, and 10 percent of Americans
"It is important to stress that information systems now are far more secure than they were at the time these files were produced—we no longer store information on floppy disks or CDs and use sophisticated systems of encryption."
Sunday, February 26, 2012
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2011 photo, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett speaks in Omaha, Neb., Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at an event to raise money for the Girls Inc. charity organization. Buffett wants Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to know that the company has someone in mind to replace him eventually, but he's emphasizing that he has no plans to leave. Buffett offered a couple new details about Berkshire's succession planning in his annual shareholder letter Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. Investors have long worried about who will replace Berkshire's 81-year-old CEO. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks during a news conference in Iwaki city. Japan. Buffett wants Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to know that the company has someone in mind to replace him eventually, but he's emphasizing that he has no plans to leave. Buffett offered a couple new details about Berkshire's succession planning in his annual shareholder letter Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. Investors have long worried about who will replace Berkshire's 81-year-old CEO. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Oracle of Omaha earned his nickname — and more than a few billion dollars — by spotting investments that others overlooked, but Warren Buffett makes mistakes.
No, really, he does.
Just pick through Buffett's annual letters to shareholders of his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. His pronouncements are eagerly anticipated by investors around the world. But sometimes even the Oracle gets it wrong.
By the second page of this year's letter, released Saturday, Buffett was borrowing a tennis term to take credit for "a major unforced error" he'd made on some Texas utility bonds.
Of course, Buffett's shareholder letters are filled with a lot more good decisions than bad ones. His $44 billion fortune attests to that. But the blunders are instructive. Or at least remind us that he's human.
The plainspoken, no-nonsense investor tends to be a good sport about his mistakes. Here are some of the lowlights.
The blunder: Buffett predicted in last year's letter that the U.S. housing recovery would begin within the next year and help fuel economic growth.
The explanation: Buffett doesn't mince words and says he was "dead wrong" about this one. But he says basic biology makes it unavoidable that the country will need more houses.
The quip: "People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while 'doubling up' may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure."
The blunder: Buffett spent about $2 billion buying bonds offered by Texas utility Energy Future Holdings. But those bonds are now worth about $878 million, and he conceded Saturday that even that could be wiped out.
The explanation: Buffett comes right out and admits misjudging the company's prospects and the likelihood that natural gas prices would remain depressed.
The quip: "However things turn out, I totally miscalculated the gain/loss probabilities when I purchased the bonds. In tennis parlance, this was a major unforced error by your chairman."
The blunder: Some of the companies Berkshire Hathaway has bought don't add much to the company's bottom line. Buffett didn't single out the laggards in Berkshire's manufacturing, service and retail unit, but he acknowledged that a few produce poor returns.
The explanation: Buffett says he misjudged some of these businesses before Berkshire bought them partly because he didn't always listen to curmudgeonly Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.
The quip: "I try to look out 10 or 20 years when making an acquisition, but sometimes my eyesight has been poor. Charlie's has been better; he voted 'no' more than 'present' on several of my errant purchases."
The blunder: In 2008, Buffett more than quadrupled Berkshire's stake in ConocoPhillips when oil and gas prices were near their peak. It cost the company several billion dollars.
The explanation: Buffett said he didn't anticipate the dramatic fall in energy prices that happened later in 2008.
The quip: "During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments. I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt."
The blunder: Buffett has said that buying Berkshire Hathaway itself may have been his worst investment decision. It was a struggling New England textile mill when Buffett bought into it in the 1960s. He kept the mill running for 20 years before shutting it down.
The explanation: Buffett didn't recognize immediately that the textile business was doomed to continue losing money.
The quip: "The dumbest thing I could have done was to pursue 'opportunities' to improve and expand the existing textile operation — so for years that's exactly what I did," he said last year. "And then, in a final burst of brilliance, I went out and bought another textile company. Aaaaaaargh! Eventually I came to my senses, heading first into insurance and then into other industries."
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Tech Sanity Check
Re-think everything for mobile or you're toast
By Jason Hiner | February 22, 2012, 9:22 PM PST
Before 2007, surfing the web on a mobile phone was a miserable experience. I remember trying it from BlackBerries, Palm Treos, and Windows Mobile devices, and being so frustrated by how slow and unusable it was that I was dying for the day when we'd be able to access the web from a mobile device just as easily as from a computer.
Obviously, that day is here. In fact, it's reached the point where most of us take it for granted and that's one of the big reasons why sales of smartphones surpassed PCs in 2011. This trend is accelerating so quickly that a lot of companies are going to be in danger of being disrupted if they don't adapt and re-think their customer experience for mobile.
Computers are about to get lapped
Let's take a quick step back.
When the iPhone arrived in June 2007, it was the beginning of sea change that turned smartphones into full-fledged Internet devices. While the first-gen iPhone was severely limited most of the time because it didn't have 3G mobile broadband, it reinvented the mobile user interface and when you used it on a Wi-Fi connection you could see that the future was having the full power of the web in the palm of her hand.
Before iPhone — and eventually Android and Windows Phone 7 — arrived, 90 percent of the systems that connected to the web were Windows PCs. It's hard to believe that was only five years ago.
In 2012, Gartner projects that worldwide PC sales will reach about 400 million units in 2012, while smartphones will surpass 600 million units. Tablets will sell about 100 million units. That means that only about 35% of the new devices sold this year that will be connecting to the web will be Windows PCs. That's how much the technology world has been turned on its head in just five years.
Now, remember that those Gartner numbers are only for new devices sold in 2012. So the overall percentage of Windows PCs accessing the web will still be over 50% in 2012, since there are obviously a lot of older machines still in use.
However, the numbers are going to get more dramatic in the years ahead. PCs are about to get dwarfed. By 2015, Gartner projects PC sales will grow to over 500 million, but tablets will triple to about 300 million and smartphones will leap past 1.1 billion.
Despite the fact that this massive sea change is about to come roaring in, the web continues to be a computer-centric place. While many types of workers and business professionals will use computers to design, build, and create content for the Internet for years to come, the primary access devices that the majority of users are going use to access the Internet will be smartphones and tablets.
The mobile re-think
That's why user satisfaction with mobile sites is lower than the overall web, and it's why users have gravitated toward downloading native apps that are optimized for the mobile experience. The problem with that is it creates a bifurcated experience for companies because they end up developing a separate set of functionality for the web versus native apps for mobile devices. And since every mobile operating system has a different set of development tools, that means a company has to develop a different app for every platform, and try to keep them all unified and updated. That's impractical and unsustainable — and we haven't talked about the fact that companies now have to design separate apps for tablets.
This situation is not going to make sense much longer, because within a few years more people are going to be accessing the web from mobile touchscreen devices than from computers. The mobile web will simply become the web. That means every company that builds a website will need to rethink site design so that it's always friendly for both a big screen with a mouse and a touchscreen device. But, that's just the first part of the equation. Companies also need to reconsider their entire site experience for mobile, and think about what it could mean for customer service, mobile commerce, geolocational targeting, targeted deals and coupons, and much more.
The bottom line is that this isn't happening fast enough, and that's going to create a lot of opportunities for disrupters who can create better mobile experiences and use it to leapfrog incumbents. If you're not thinking about this now and planning for it, then you could be putting your business at risk. If your competitors have a smoother and more comprehensive mobile experience then it could give them an important edge with customers, especially since users have even less patience for slow site performance and a bad user experience when it comes to mobile.
Of course, this goes for TechRepublic too, but it's not just for Internet businesses. Every company or organization that has a website and a competitor needs to get serious about this because it's going to be a sea change on the same scale as the iPhone first bringing the capabilities of full web browsing to the phone — only this change isn't just going to disrupt smartphone makers, it's going to affect every kind of company imaginable.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
How to create it, rehearse it, and tailor it for a specific audience
Keep It Fresh
Always Be Prepared
Uploaded by SeanyTHEbear on Sep 21, 2006The CBC's business reality series, Dragons' Den, is where contestants pitch their business ideas to 5 multimillionaire investors in an effort to acquire the funding they need to make their business come to life. The way to suceed is to master the "elevator pitch." Mentor Capitalist, Sean wise explains how.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Shoppers check out laptops at a Best Buy store.
By Rob Pegoraro, Special for USA TODAY
Published: 2/19/2012 2:00:00 PM
Question of the week: Considering that laptops are sometimes lost or stolen, do you have any recommendations for securing confidential data on them?
Answer: The easiest way to keep your data safe is not to put it on a machine that somebody could easily walk away with.
Before everybody says "duh" all at once, think about all of the schools, businesses and government agencies that saved sensitive data on employee laptops that then got stolen. If those offices had stored that data securely on their own servers, accessible only via an encrypted online connection, the major cost of a stolen laptop would have been the price to buy a replacement computer.
On a personal level, this means using cloud-based apps instead of traditional, disk-bound programs — for example, using a Web-mail service instead of an application like Microsoft Outlook, or employing a Web personal-finance tool like Intuit's Mint.com in place of a program like Quicken.
You should use secure passwords at these sites — see my column of two weeks ago for some advice on that point.
Your browser will offer to save passwords for many of those sites, but unless you have a separate password that must be entered before your browser logs you in anywhere — for example, Mozilla Firefox's master-password option— a thief could take advantage of that feature.
Separate password-management programs like the free LastPass offer one way around that. Another option, contrary to many password myths, is to write down those passwords on a piece of paper — which you then stuff in your wallet, something you already know to keep safe.
Having a strong password for your computer should block access to it (the reader who asked this question mentioned that he had a 12-character password, which is good enough). But even then, you can use widely available software to copy files off a computer without logging into it.
And unless you're running a Google Chromebook, you'll need to store some data on the machine.
In Windows, I suggest using the free, open-source TrueCrypt. ("Open-source" means that other programmers have had a chance to inspect and improve its code, so you don't have to trust the developers when they say they did their job). It's not the prettiest or the simplest app, but it will let you create a special folder that turns into gibberish once locked. You can even create a TrueCrypt "container" on a cloud-based storage service like Dropbox, then open its contents on any PC — or Mac — running TrueCrypt.
On a Mac, use the FileVault encryption built into Mac OS X— it's under the "Security & Privacy" heading in System Preferences— which automatically secures all of your data from anybody who doesn't have your computer's password.
Tip: Backup DNS can keep you online
The Domain Name System— the invisible switchboard your Internet provider runs to translate addresses like http://www.usatoday.com/ into numeric Internet Protocol identifiers like 18.104.22.168 — is usually the least-dramatic part of Internet access. It works so well that you never know it's there, in the same way that you don't stop to think how calls reach your phone from any other phone in the world.
But on rare occasions, your Internet provider's "DNS" may go out of service; for example, Comcast suffered an hours-long DNS outage in November 2010. If that happens, you'll find that you can't get to anywhere on the Web —not even a site like Google that should stay up in any event short of a Mayan apocalypse. More annoying yet, the lights on your cable or DSL modem (and maybe even your provider's tech support) may still suggest everything's fine.
Two alternate services, Google Public DNS and OpenDNS, can back up your provider's domain-name service, connecting your computer to other sites when your ISP stops doing that job. At other times, they may also work slightly faster and provide a little extra security against malicious sites.
Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based in Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.
IT dept heads, read this
Planning principles for IT comfort, cost control
Virtualisation of volumes, file systems, storage systems;
Dynamically tiered storage;
Power down disk, MAID;
Multiprotocol SAN storage;
De-duplication, data compression;
Integrated archive; and
Management, policy-based provisioning