Monthly Archives: April 2009

Get a Job: Support the Social Networking Model for the Medical Industry

I used to wait tables at a Mexican restaurant in Montclair NJ, (if you are from this area you likely know which one I am talking about).  The most expensive item on our menu at the time was $13.95 and it got you a huge plate of food.  Besides this perk, we were a BYOB place so people could eat and get drunk for pretty cheap.  Our entire business model (and my tips at the end of the night) depended on a high rate of turnover.  I would turn my tables over anywhere from 4 to 7 times per night, including big parties.  To make money we had to move people in and out.

The medical industry seems to operate much in the same fashion these days: insurers scrutinize claims, cover less, and demand more from our doctors, and as a result, doctors double and triple book patients, filling waiting rooms, spending as little time as possible with each patient so they can service more claims.  This is not a rant about the sad state of our medical care; it is my vision of a future where the medical industry leverages Web 3.0 opportunities, mobile technology, and lessons from social networking to deliver effective  and complete care so doctors can cut costs with a better process rather than a shorter visit.

Here are some of the thoughts I have for such a network:

  • Online Medical Identities: everyone has an online profile somewhere, which is their identity on a social network.  Take that concept to the next level by having online medical profiles created for all U.S. citizens.  These profiles are accessible only by the patient or their doctor through providing personally identifiable information (“PII”) such as a combination of SS#, birth date, and mother’s maiden name, (one day, I envision verification via finger print scan from the user’s touchscreen and verified electornically online). 
  • Single Point Records Access – one of the most frustrating things about visiting any doctor (besides co-pays, long waits, etc.) is having to fill out that same form all the time.  Under the OMI system your dermatologist, cardiologist, therapist, insert-specialist-here, would all be accessing the same living, updated profile.  With that visit, your single record would be updated in real-time.  The insurance company or government program (in my perfect world everyone has insurance) would receive a notification of your visit, access that same record, process payment, and update your profile.  A record of all insurance claims and payments would be part of your OMI, (sorry insurance frauders). 
  • Government & Private Database Protection – let’s face it, the scariest thing about this idea is the thought of some hacker stealing, well, you.   This system centers around creating an official medical network on a secure server (similar to this one), either owned or co-maintained by the government and private partners.  The government can even offer tax-break or other incentives to private partners who participate and secure the server.
  • Touchscreen Net Tablets for Doctors – I am not talking about clunky, tablet laptops that the doc has to balance on his knee while he enters info about you.  I mean a slim, sexy, touch-response tablet about the size of a netbook screen (or Kindle) which wirelessly updates the info.   Make it easy-to-use, intuitive, and functional. 
  • Create Jobs – Obama’s plan to digitize medical records directly supports this idea.  He sees the development, scanning, and maintaining of such an effort as essential to America’s future.  Best of all, it promises to add a new industry, something we sorely need in today’s economy.  How much more so would creating an OMI network add to this.  Networks as big as these do not run themselves (numbers as of Feb. 2009):
    • Facebook – 700 employees / 70M+ users
    • MySpace – 800 employees / 60M+ users
    • Linkedin – 300 employees / 15M+ users

There you have it, 2000 jobs created by 3 of the top silly social networks out there.  Now imagine if you have an essential social network along the lines of OMI how many jobs can be created both by the network itself and the work needed to maintain it. 

What are your thoughts about this?  How could something like this work (or fail miserably)?

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Jewish Jets Player Upset About 2009 Schedule

This has nothing to do with technology and humanity (other than the fact it was posted on youtube), but as a diehard Jewish, Jets fan, it is my duty to share it.  Apparntly, I am not the only one upset that 2 Jets games fall on Jewish holidays this year…

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Apple OS Dual-Touch Screen Netbook

My dream machine?  An Apple OS Touch Screen Netbook w/dual touch screen interface (like the Nintendo DS) rather than a keyboard.  While my concept may not make an appearance at the Apple Developer’s conference this June, speculation about the possiblity of an Apple OS Netbook abounds, from reports that Apple ordered thousands of 10 inch touchscreens to rumors that an Apple Tablet is forth coming.

Regardless of what the digital fruit company is a planning, I want MY netbook created.  Here’s an every-man’s mock up (not tech specs) of what features I’d like to see it include:

  • Dual touch screen interface (think Nintendo DS w/o the stylus)
  • Key board functionality on either screen depending on how it is being held (similar to iPhone)
  • Rotation of 1-screen to face out when netbook is closed enabling tablet functionality
  • Built in iSight camera and microphone on corner of swivel screen (allows video conferencing in Netbook or tablet configuration)
  • Paper screen functionality w/Apple inspired reading software so that device can be used as an e-Reader (Kindle Killer?)
  • 32 GB internal memory (if they can do it on an iPhone they can do it on a netbook) w/expansion slots
  • Satellite and wiFi connection (hey – in my perfect world, sat connections are cheap and effective)

What features would you want to see on the netbook of your dreams?

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Fire that Blogger!

“I’ve been reading your blog,” Mom said. 

“That’s great,” I said.

“Do other people read it,” she asked.  With her recent readership, I think I was up to five or six regular readers – not the New York Times, but exciting none-the-less.  I told her this, and she asked the proverbial parental question: “if there aren’t a lot of people reading and you aren’t making any money, why do you write it?”

I went onto explain how the pure joy of writing, sharing my opinion with the world, on a blogging platform that has the potential to reach anyone who cares to read it is an exciting and worthwhile thing.  To me, it makes no difference whether anyone reads it.  Sure, I’d love to have a Huffington Post-sized following, but at the very least this is great practice for my writing. 

“But doesn’t your boss mind that you post these at work?  Can he fire you for that?”  A shot of fear went through me for an instant: post at work?  I usually write my blog posts at night or on lunch.  Sometimes I edit them and post at work, but that shouldn’t raise flags.   After checking my settings on Wordpress I saw that my time stamps put my posts almost 7-hours in the future from the time I actually post them, and the fact that I can write something at anytime with a time stamp in the future, present, or past further diffuses any argument for firing.  Luckily, my blogging has been supported by my company – many of my posts are about e-content and publishing, some posts have even been repurposed on their main websites.    

I reassured Mom that the publishing of my posts during “work hours” didn’t concern my boss, but the question got me thinking: who has been fired for blogging?  These 7-famous firings of bloggers are well known, but do you know anyone fired for blogging?

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Ex-Videogame Junky Says: “OnLive Cloud Gaming’s gonna make me relapse…”

My name is Mike and I am an ex-videogame junky.  I have been “game-free” since February 2008.  The main reason I quit video games cold turkey was for my kids – I couldn’t justify the time suck with an 8-month old at the time and another on the way.   My game console of choice was the XBox 360, which I reluctantly sold with 15 games on Ebay for about $400, and my “gamer tag” on XBox Live was Fragmintz, a name which I still use on the web today.  I thought selling my 360 would be the end of it – at least until the kids were old enough to ask for a console, but now OnLive Cloud Gaming may just make me relapse.

The term “cloud computing” refers to an online service structure that end-users acces for various tasks without needing to download a 3rd party client.  Think of it like a grid of applications, like our electricity grid but without all those pesky high tension wires, that can be plugged right into by the consumer.  Some of the best examples are the Google suite of tools, Zoho, and Amazon – each providing their own services within the cloud which can be scaled and accessed according to the needs of each user.

Now enter OnLive to the forefront.  Traditionally, gamers divided themselves according to consoles.  In the next-gen console wars of 2005-6, the breakdown went a bit like this:

  • Xbox 360 = hardcore gamers, FPS (first person shooters) & Halo nuts
  • Wii = kids, Zelda nuts, and basically anyone with a pulse
  • PS3 = RPG (role playing gamers), Sony elitists
  • PS2 = economy class players
  • PC = mouse and keyboard nuts, MMORG (massive multiplayer online role playing gamers – basically World of Warcraft people)
  • Mac = does anyone game on a Mac?

We were a house divided, which did not stand (unless you were playing a Wii – then you kind of had to stand).  But now, it won’t matter what console you prefer b/c we’ll all just be playing the same game OnLive, (counterpoint: can it incorporate the Wii-mote?).

As a true “cloud gaming service” it proposes to play on any screen (TV, PC, Mac, etc.) and offers the games directly from the publishers.  Unlike XBox Live, where you downloaded the game to the console for storage and play, you play the games right on the OnLive server – which means that you also get a chock full of other services like social network: you can watch a buddy play their game, comment, update status, watch videos, etc.  From the sound of it, OnLive may free us from our silos of console-isolation and connect our online lives like never before.  Will I ever leave my computer again?

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Online A.D.H.D. (Purposeful Web 2.0 Browsing for the Ritalin Generation)

It seems like everyone has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) these days (even though it only affects about 5% of the population).  Our shortening attention spans are not helped in a Web 2.0 world where we are twittered down to 140 character status updates and keep connected with RSS feeds.  As someone whose therapist has given him a bona fide diagonsis as “an adult with ADHD who has learned to compensate” I find that focusing online is very tough.  I want to click this, search for that, keep 10 tabs open in my browser, while my Nambu or Tweetdeck (depending on what OS I’m using that day b/c I can’t just have one computer running) has multiple searches active.

Time to focus.  Here are some strategies I have thought of that make web 2.0 browsing a bit more focused:

  1. Have a short list of goals for each online session: (post 1 blog, fix up Picassa, and check Gmail)
  2. Make time limits: (I will finish by 11:30 pm tonight)
  3. Have a steady time to do certain repeating tasks (post a blog & check social network aggregators at lunch)
  4. Aggregators, aggregators, aggregators (Google Reader for RSS, Eventbox when on Mac) – finding the best aggregator that takes headlines from multiple sites & put them in one place
  5. Choose sides: I feel like I am always jumping onto something new to make my life easier (delicious, readit, or my favorite: digg) – rather than jumping to new tek to be in the now (thanks Ram Daas), find ones that you like and stick to them unless a good reason to change presents itself
  6. If your head starts to feel warm and tingly, go for a walk

What suggestions do you have to avoid aimless impulse browsing?

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Libraries of the Future Lend Kindle Titles and Devices

Library Journal posted an article about the mixed response from Amazon over whether a library can lend a Kindle device with books loaded onto it.  An Amazon sales rep said “yes,” Amazon officials said “no,” but the law may say otherwise.

The first sale doctrine is a copyright defense, codified in 17 USC 109, which basically allows an owner of a lawfully made copy or phonorecord (and other tangible media) to sell or otherwise dispose of it, as well as display it to the public.   This allows purchasers of a video game, DVD, or other medium to sell it on e-Bay or to a GameStop.  Software companies (and others) try to circumvent this defense by describing the purchase of their products as a “license” rather than a “sale” issuing license agreements and terms of use (“LATU”) to prevent resale of an item, but courts have disagreed with their enforceability.

In Amazon’s LATU there are explicit terms about the digital content on the device, but not the physical device itself.  The language from Section 3, Digital Content reads as follows (emphasis added):

Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

This language speaks to the digital content – not the device.  Amazon understands that the first-sale doctrine clearly prevents them from restricting transfer of the device, but that the gray area of the license agreements allows them some latitude here.  When drafted, Amazon likely sought to prevent a Napster situation, with users trading titles and diluting the market for content.

Now the idea of public libraries owning and lending Kindle devices is a great one.  It has the potential to create a revolution in e-Books and catapult Kindle to the status of an iPod – it can very well be the paradigm shift Amazon is banking on.  In fact, it seems like a win/win for Amazon: more public exposure to Kindle = more sales of device and content, and by putting the devices in libraries Amazon breaks through the tek-elite barrier.  I have yet to purchase or play with a Kindle b/c of the high price point and unavailability despite being an early adopter (when I have the cash for it).

But take it a step further: what if there were ways to ensure that a library could “lend” a Kindle file and then have it “returned” by the borrower?

Amazon would sell catalogs of titles to the 123,000 libraries in the United States (mix of public, school, governmental, etc.).  Those libraries would have tables of Kindle devices set up for public use (more device sales for Amazon).  They would offer file borrowing via library websites or even in the physical building (beaming or loading via docking station).  The file would have copy prevention and device tracking enabled.  It could also work like digital download rentals, which expire after a certain period of time.  If a person wanted to prevent expiration they could request an extra period of time with it, but longer than that they pay a small fee (digital late fees).  A user who likes the book so much can click to purchase from the library.  The library would make money (via the first sale doctrine) on that legally purchased copy, and can automatically order another copy from Amazon to keep their “stock” current.  Not to mention, this would allow Amazon to target users for direct sales based on their borrowing habits. This could be the future – much like the ELF’s idea for “collecting societies” of digital recordings.

Amazon, think about it – do you want to clutch to an old-world model, or do you want to build something better than iTunes?

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