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Comment: Re:Sudafed (Score 1) 328

by flink (#49720595) Attached to: Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine

Or one employee that believes in personal freedom, and also realizes that yeast produced opiates will shut down the cartels, hurt the Taliban, reduce violence, and pretty much make the world a better place ... unless you are either a criminal or a cop.

Unless, of course, the government goes on a pogrom against any large scale yeast operation, in which case only organizations with the resources to operate one illicitly will be able to benefit: the cartels and the Taliban.

Comment: Re:Impactor efficiency versus rocket payload? (Score 1) 147

by flink (#49710247) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Payloads For Asteroid Diverter/Killer Mission?

Would it be more efficient to launch an impactor from Earth to change the asteroid's trajectory or to launch a rocket (using the same rocket that would launch the impactor) carrying a second rocket that would attach to the asteroid and burn to similarly change its trajectory? An impactor would need to be calculated precisely in advance, while attaching a rocket would allow some room for error since its burn could be controlled remotely. The actual feat of getting the rocket to land and securely mount itself would be a challenge however. I don't think "blowing it up" is a good idea, but diversion if possible seems the least-risky and most-effective method.

Just my take, but: If you want to land on it instead of crashing, you have to carry a bunch of extra fuel to burn off the delta-V that got you there in the first place. If you have enough extra fuel to slow down, you might as well burn it getting there faster so you have more energy when you impact. Essentially if you slow down to land, you're wasting a bunch of energy in the form of the ship's momentum which you could be putting into changing the course of the asteroid.

Comment: Re:The trick... (Score 1) 245

by flink (#49692629) Attached to: Douglas Williams Pleads Guilty To Training Customers To Beat Polygraph

Perhaps, but what they actually tend to do is look at the situation dispassionately and make utilitarian decisions that bring the most benefit to themselves.

Just make sure the organization's objectives are aligned with the interests of the leader. Star ship captains get promoted to admiral by completing their mission, not saving their friends. Generals advance in rank by winning battles. CEOs get their bonus by raising the stock price.

A psychopath CEO will see the fine associated with dumping toxins in a river is smaller than the increased profits to be realized by not disposing of chemicals legally: organization and CEO goals aligned. A person with a conscience will a) want to obey a reasonable law and b) have some moral qualms about potentially poisoning a bunch of people, regardless of whether it will be traced back to them.

Corporations are basically amoral, immortal, and wield an enormous amount of influence in politics. One of the best counterbalance is having someone of decent character in charge of them.

Comment: Re:What Makes it Fail (Score 1) 507

by flink (#49692333) Attached to: Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?

The problem is contracts generally have a statement of work saying what you will do and a date saying when you will deliver it by. If you don't accomplish the things in the SOW by the deadline, you don't get the $$$. Unless you are doing pure R&D, you rarely have the luxury of being as hand-wavy about the requirements as agile seems to want you to be.

Comment: Re:Nope. Not happening. (Score 1) 100

by flink (#49689151) Attached to: Is Big Data Leaving Hadoop Behind?

I tend to agree. As a storage admin for a Multi-Hospital organization using anything open source is not really an option if we want to keep the HIPPA-potamus away.

I worked for over a decade as an SE for an org that was both a hospital-IT vendor and a covered entity in its own right (we sold a PMS, a PACS, operated multiple HIEs, and were a claims clearinghouse). When choosing libraries and server technology, never once was the open source status of a piece of technology a consideration with regards to HIPAA. We would occasionally have to run things by the legal team to evaluate a new license or check our compliance, but that was it. HIPAA considerations were mostly operational: Is PHI encrypted when at rest or transmitted over the open internet? Are we ensuring only authorized personnel can see PHI? How are we handling backups? The ops team took care of most of those things and they didn't care what we built the software out of, as long as it conformed to the requirements.

Comment: Re:Not convinced (Score 1) 408

Another interesting question is whether there is increased risk when transferring control from the automated system to the human driver. I'd be curious to know if the two accidents with a human operator were in the moments immediately following a hand off of control. I imagine that it might take a few seconds to go from "passenger mode" to "driver mode" as you might not have the same level of situational awareness as when you are in control of the vehicle.

Comment: Re:"Had to" (Score 1) 123

by flink (#49580691) Attached to: Crowdfunded Android Console Ouya Reportedly Seeking Buyout

The problem is that that Kickstarter is really nothing more than distributed venture capital. Except that normal venture capital gives you a share of the company or future profits. That two-way exchange makes it clear what you are getting for your money - part ownership of the company. As a part-owner/investor, you're fully aware of the risk that comes with it - you know you could lose all your money and have nothing to show for it if the company should fail.

Kickstarter is explicitly not a VC platform. A kickstarter pledge isn't an investment, it's a gift. The "thank you rewards" are the equivalent of the tote bag you get for pledging to PBS. Kickstarter was started as an alternative to fund projects that couldn't get funding through traditional avenues of grants, patronage, or VC. This was a way to get the $50k for your student film without maxing your parents' credit cards.

Comment: Re:It is an ad. (Score 1) 216

by flink (#49580287) Attached to: How Google Searches Are Promoting Genocide Denial

Free speech applies to your interactions with the government - it does not apply to a private company.

Who says that?

The first amendment says that. It prohibits the government from restraining speech or establishing a state religion ("..the government shall make no law..."). To the extent that other non-state actors are forced to respect the 1st amendment, it's usually because they are acting as agents of the government because a law delegates regulatory authority to them or because they are accepting public money to perform a service.

Free speech applies to private universities. Private universities usually have free speech, because college teachers demanded it and organized to get it.

Many if not most universities accept government subsidies, to a certain extent they are government actors and may have part of their funding tied to respecting civil rights.

Free speech applies to private organizations. If I join a union, I should have free speech to criticize that union.

Free speech is a right and principle. It applies everywhere. We should have free speech everywhere. We don't always have it. You only get free speech if you fight for it.

And all of these organizations have the right to respond in any legal manner they want to in response to your speech. The union might kick you out (or not, there are a lot of other laws and regulations covering union behavior). Your employer might fire you if they don't like what you have to say. Google is free to decline to do business with you if they don't like the message of your ad.

You might have free speech, but no one is obligated to facilitate the distribution of your speech unless they are operating as a common carrier (e.g. the phone company).

Comment: Re:Billionaire saved by taxpayer (Score 1) 118

And yet, the federal government makes loans to grad students in the 6% to 7% range. A failing tech company with a billionaire owner gets low interest loans because of the potential for the future, but low and middle income grad students, who really are the future get high rate loans.

To be fair, these are unsecured loans. Yes, the rate is higher than the ~4% you would get for a mortgage, but it's better than the 18% you would pay on a credit card and on par with the rate you pay on a car loan. The crazy part is that you are barred from refinancing your student debt.

Comment: Re:HHS Asleep At The Switch (Score 1) 184

In the US, there are two overriding issues with the EHR - getting a bill out and getting a bill out.

There's a distinction here that is being missed between a Electronic Health Record (EHR) and a Practice Management System (PMS). The PMS usually handles scheduling, billing, claims, remittances, and maybe registration -- the business side of healthcare. The EHR holds the patient's actual clinical data. These systems can and should talk to each other: the EMR will need the ADT (Admit/Discharge/Transfer) feed from the PMS and the PMS will need the procedure codes to bill for from the EHR. However, the PMS is not a health record and shouldn't be used as one. You can't get a proper continuity of care record out of a financial tool and likewise will have a hard time doing billing with a clinical tool: they're specialized for different use cases.

Unless you are at family practice, the docs don't usually mess around in the practice management software: it's more of a tool for the front desk and accountants. On the PMS side we've had pretty good standardization of formats dues to HIPAA. The government had a pretty good lever here to force compliance: Medicare. When HIPAA went into effect, CMS set a deadline that sometime in 2004 (IIRC) they would no longer accept non-X12 claims. Since Medicare/caid are such a huge part of everyone's revenue stream, everyone had a real motivation to comply. This worked so well that when I left my previous job in 2012, our claims clearinghouse division was actually shrinking because the software to connect directly to insurers had become a commodity feature in most practice management systems.

There is, as far as I know, no equivalent government body that everyone interacts with for clinical data that could force a similar standardization across EHR vendors. I know where I worked we tried to support the IHE profiles as much as we could, but I don't know how wide-spread that behavior is.

Comment: Re:Oh yeah, don't forget MUMPS (Score 3, Interesting) 184

Sorry for double posting, but one other thing to note is this...behind all the whizzy new web interface screens, many EHR systems are based on some of the oldest, creakiest standards imaginable, including a programming language-and-database combo called MUMPS. Look it up - it's positively ancient, and it should be obvious why they have trouble finding people willing to specialize in writing code for it.

When I first started in the healthcare industry almost in 1997 as an intern, my first job was writing MUMPS interface routines to extract referral data for a web interface. The system in question was running on a VAX/VMS cluster and ran a major midewestern HMO's operations.

The funny thing is when NoSQL became a buzzword a few years ago, thanks to my exposure to MUMPS, I instantly recognized it for what it was: 70's-era hierarchical database technology, repackaged for a new generation.

Comment: Re:Feds (Score 3, Interesting) 184

There are already industry standards for EMR

Common Document Architecture (CDA) - provides formats for the interchange of data built on the OASIS schema.
Integrating Healthcare in the Enterprise - defines profiles for implementing technologies in an interoperable manner.
Open eHealth - open source baseline implementation of the above.

That's just for clinical data. There are a whole other set of standard for financial/claims records (X12) and pharmacy records/scripts (NCPDP).

The problem is that medical data is pretty complicated and often the context of the document is as important as the content. You almost always have to massage documents coming in even if they are ostensibly formatted to a standard you consume. You have to normalize units, make sure all the fields are part of the subset of the standard your system supports, etc.

And that doesn't even begin to get into tracking patient consent, tracking identity across multiple orgs, depts, and visits (MPI,PIX/PDQ), plus access restrictions and emergency access exceptions.

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud