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Comment speaking as an IT provider to health care (Score 1) 294

I work as an outsourced IT contractor in the Atlanta area, and a large number of my clients are hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, and so forth. The main reasons I see for them not wanting to adopt increased IT infrastructure to enhance record-keeping abilities are:

1) Budget. Health care has been one of the most resilient industries in the current recession, but no one can afford to not watch their spending these days.
2) Reliability. It doesn't work 100% of the time. It might, if you added enough redundancy, but then you're running into problem 1) again.
3) Politics. I don't know of a single hospital that doesn't have serious political infighting. This bleeds over into the budget issue again...who gets how much of the budget for what projects, who gets what access levels within the system, and so forth. IT tends to be looked on as an unwelcome but necessary expense, kind of like the power bill. If there isn't an obvious fire or immediate pressing need, getting funds for improving performance or reliability is very difficult. And if there *IS* an obvious fire or immediate pressing need, they're upset that you hadn't already prevented the problem with the budget you've had thus far. It's a catch 22.

I see these as being problems with getting all sorts of industries to incorporate better IT... the medical field is just a big obvious one right now with all the efforts to improve compliance with standards, and the efforts to control the rising costs. The answer I wish I could give to ALL of them is simply: "shit breaks. pay the cost of having it break less, or deal with it breaking. but it will always break. having a plan B is always going to be a good idea."

Comment Re:Bad news for Amateur Radio (Score 1) 435

You are correct, bouncing radio waves off the ionosphere is primarily for longer-range HF communications. However, when you're in a hurricane zone trying to communicate with NOAA, or at least with relay stations (many of whom are in FL or TX), being limited to 50-100 miles hurts. This was an issue during Hurricane Katrina, when sunspots were low, band conditions were terrible, and communications in and out were sporadic. I was manning the Georgia Tech radio room for a good bit during that time. The phone kept ringing off the hook with people trying to use us to get word about their loved ones in the disaster zone. Conditions were so limited, however, that most radio nets working the area were restricted to immediate lifesaving traffic only. Health and welfare traffic had to go through normal channels, like the red cross, which meant days or weeks of waiting.

Sunspots being low impacts radio communication within the US, not just across the globe.

Comment Bad news for Amateur Radio (Score 5, Informative) 435

I realize that HAM radio is a bit of an anachronism in the eyes of most slashdot readers, but it's still the most viable medium for emergency communications. Unfortunately, with sunspot activity being so low, HF communications become very limited. Whole bands of RF spectrum are almost unusable, because the E-layer of the ionosphere can no longer bounce higher frequencies of radio waves. 40m wavelength and lower tend to still be usable, 20m is come-and-go, and 17m and higher become sporadic or completely unusable.

I'm 31, I've been a HAM for 6 years. My cell phone often doesn't get coverage where I roam, and my power and internet and landline phone have been knocked out by storms and provider mistakes. Radio works when all else fails... ...but sometimes it works better than others!

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