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User Journal

Journal Journal: How to convince others to open source software? 1

About two years ago I wrote a piece of software that sits squarely in between two open source products. Two years later I'm no further along in getting my company to agree to open source the software. What suggestions do Slashdot readers have to help me convince the powers that be that the software should be open sourced?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Need for Data Standards and the Future of the VEMR

Information systems such as Hospital Information systems, Laboratory Information systems, Pharmacy Information systems, Radiology and other related imaging systems and other specialty medical information systems need a mandated federal standard for exchanging patient data which will allow the creation, exchange and management of a Virtual Electronic Medical Record for patients.

Without basic technological standards one could not call from one county to the next, but because there are properly implemented standards and exchange systems one can call almost anywhere in the world with ease. But those standards took a hundred years to evolve. By comparison, the internet, based on tcp and http protocols evolved in less than a decade, because every vendor had a standard from which to build. Meanwhile, I often can't get my data from one section of the hospital, much less between hospitals, because there is no accepted, agreed upon, and implemented protocol for the exchange of medical information.

Every vendor has a proprietary data exchange format and a business model that supports vendor 'lock in.' While that may be good from a business model, it is a disaster for modern medicine. And the additional time and expense of trying to maintain these disparate systems just continues to add to the cost of healthcare. Both hospitals and vendors need to embrace the reality of the need for implementation of good informatics practices in hospitals and clinics.

Medical practices and ethics should supersede business ethics in every situation where software and/or devices are used in medical care. You don't see incompatible medical hardware surviving long in the industry. A needle has to fit a syringe, an IV tube needs to fit a bag, and they do because of standardization. Yet medical software vendors continue to ignore the need for data interchange standards that will support a truly portable Virtual Electronic Medical Record.

Hardware Hacking

Journal Journal: Flash Page/Swap File

I was just wondering if anyone had tried using flash memory to provide page/swap file space. I'm guessing that with usb or pcmcia flash memory one could both improve performance and battery life and decrease hard drive access. Has anyone tried this? If so, what were the results?

Journal Journal: What alternatives to RDBMS are Slashdoters using & why?

From my first experience with Fortran IV data blocks in the 60's to CouchDB I've seen a lot of methods to handle data. But for some reason, the appearance, in this day and age, is that the RDBMS is the 'only' suitable method for handling large volumes of data. If you've been through the mill and decided not to use an RDBMS I'd like to know what alternative method you've chosen, what benefits and drawbacks made you look for alternatives, why you chose an alternative method, and last but not least, how the choice is working out for you. Please include a short description of your primary development environment, how your decision has developed into a solution, and if there is one, what is the one thing about it that you could change if you could?

Journal Journal: Google Ideas v 0.01

Lately I'm wanting a search tool geared toward the 'universal languages' such as mathematics and logic. I'd like to have a graphical interface that lets me construct mathematical formulas and logical expressions to use as search terms. This would require use of something like MathML or DLML with wild cards on the front end and the ability to compare like formulas and expressions on the back end. The goal would be to discover related materials in any and all fields of research. I believe that there are theoretical neighborhoods which share similar representations of ideas that are unidentified because the disciplines appear to be dissimilar. With all the sub specialization going on today in sciences there is a lot of fragmentation and topical myopia. What is missing IMHO is a science of generalism that can relate conceptual technology across disciplines. A tool like this could boost inter-disciplinary synergy and open new avenues of cross communication and possibly lead to new research in informatics.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Rethinking Intelligence

This weekend as I was digging for information about pacemaker lead extraction, and made one of those accidental, serendipitous discoveries that I found extremely interesting. The page I ended up on was [American Scientist Online]. This review article by J. Scott Turner on Mile Hansell's Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture had in interesting image, that of an amoebic 'test' which is a structure built by certain types of amoebas, that is similar to a snail's shell, in that the inner surface is secreted, while the outer surface is constructed from sand grains.

What I found fascinating is that this organism, despite having no nervous system, none the less manages to store, act on and pass on the information necessary to perform this tiny miracle of engineering. When humans think of intelligence it is represented by multi-cellular organisms possessing dedicated nervous systems. This picture suggested to me that there may be many alternative organic forms of intelligence of which we are, for the most part, completely unaware.

If an amoeba can store this kind of information, could it be that much of our inactive and unrecognized DNA contains information that our DNA has collected over the lifetime of our evolution, that we just are too self aware to access? It could well be that all life is 'self aware,' but that we are just too biased to recognize it.

Then again, perhaps there is a resource here that we can harness [PCWorld] or [New Scientist].

Your thoughts?


Journal Journal: Help Cheeta Get His Star!

As a kid I can remember Cheeta's work in the dozen Tarzan movies made with Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller and actress Maureen O'Sullivan. Cheeta is now the recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest living non-human primate. Let's get Cheeta his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

From the site:

"We, the undersigned members of the public, hereby declare our support for Cheeta the Chimpanzee to be honored in 2008 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"A veteran of more than a dozen classic Hollywood feature films, Cheeta (AKA Jiggs) played opposite such stars as Maureen O'Sullivan, Johnny Weissmuller, Ronald Reagan and Rex Harrison to name just a few.

"Now retired and living in Palm Springs, the simian superstar not only holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest living, non-human primate, he is an accomplished artist. His expressionistic paintings have hung in the National Gallery in London as well as raised thousands of dollars for animal rights charities such as the Jane Goodall Institute.

"Fellow animal actors Rin Tin Tin and Lassie have stars on the Boulevard and many cartoon characters also share the star studded sidewalk. Bugs Bunny, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh and The Simpsons have all been honored. The Munchkins deservedly took one of the coveted spots this year. Even Japan's Godzilla shows up on the hallowed Walk of Fame.

"There have been six attempts to secure a star for Cheeta, the last four beginning in 2004. Each time, he has been turned down. We ask the honorable Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant, and his Chamber of Commerce to please consider Cheeta when they choose the next batch of honorees in June 2008 for the 2009 nominations. Seven times lucky? We hope so.

"Cheeta is an inspiration to young and old alike. He represents all the chimpanzees that played Cheeta. His inclusion on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will not only give recognition to one of the international, animal megastars of all time, but focus attention on his fellow primates in the wilds of Africa who now face extinction.

"Please give Cheeta a star while he is still alive. Guaranteed to be a Tarzan yell heard around the world. Ungawa."

Be sure to see Cheeta in person:

User Journal

Journal Journal: Stories from the omelet line

When Fred started working the omelet line I was still bringing in my own little containers of eggbeaters. He used to tease me that his eggs weren't good enough. And I would always have to pry open a corner of the carton for him so the eggs would be ready to pour because the containers were so very difficult to open with gloves on. Then he surprised me one day with the news that the Nebraska Cafe had started carrying a new product, which was low cholesterol so I didn't have to bring my eggbeaters.

But every once in a while we would get to talking, you all know how much Fred loved to talk with people, and he would start to put real eggs in my omelet and I'd catch him with the ladle in his hand and we'd joke about it.

I began to notice that on those days, as I would catch him ladle in hand, that he would seem a little less lively than usual, and one day I asked him if he was getting enough sleep. He told me that he was staying up too late playing a computer game and that he had gotten stuck. Fred told me that he was playing "Oni-something-or-other" and as a character the game in 2004, he could not escape Nobunaga Oda at Mont-Saint-Michel.

Of course I had no idea what in the world he was talking about, but I Googled it and discovered that in the game, this was the character's second adventure at Mont-Saint-Michel, and that during the first, way back in 1582, he was supposed to have found the soil patch that was "soft and well-kept" and planted the seedling "Genma Plant" that this character had collected in his travels.

The character needed to do this because, when planted in the "soft and well-kept" earth, the "seedling Genma plant" would grow over the centuries to be tall enough, and strong enough, to allow him to leap over the edge of the wall into its waiting branches and enable him to climb down to safety, thereby escaping Nobunaga Oda.

So the next time I saw Fred, I let him know what he had to do. And sure enough, it worked and Fred was well on his way to his next adventure.

I can still remember seeing the happiness on his face, and the excitement in his eyes as he told me, "Hey Sean, it worked!"

Those moments with Fred are a gift that I will appreciate for the rest of my life. He had his own special way of nourishing our souls as he prepared us for filling our bellies. He was not afraid to extend the hand of friendship to anyone -- he cared not for what we did but found a way to appreciate each of us, just as we are.

So let us all open, somewhere deep in our hearts, that place which is "soft and well-kept" and there plant our memories of him, that they might continue to grow with us, as he would have wanted, a constant reminder to be good to each other.

And if I could tell him one more thing it would be just this -- "Thank you, God speed and good luck on your new adventure."

Stories from the omelet line January 25, 2008 on 3:35 am | About "U" |


Journal Journal: Speculation: Serenity Trilogy

Obviously we do a fusion prequel/sequel two parter and turn it into a

In the first half, the Parliament is not happy with Mal, but now they have bigger problems. And so does Mal. In his experiences he realizes that he will not find peace as long as Parliament is still in power. And with the help of his crew he discovers that there is no one better to help him understand and navigate the maze of power and how to attack Parliament than the person he most despises in the universe, the Operative. Through a series of new scenes and flashbacks (Which give us back Wash & Book, for a while) Mal realizes that Book was an operative, and that his nemesis, now in reclusion (like Book was) is the only one who can help him.

So the first of the sequels brings Mal to the realization, and Mal finds him. Their eyes meet, but not a word is said fade to black end of part one.

In the second, it picks up with the exact shot we left before, almost as though we just 'blinked.' The Operative joins Mal's crew (with all the expected edginess) and together they bring down Parliament. (Accomplishing almost single-handedly what the Browncoats could not do openly!)

To paraphrase Independence Day: "Any Questions?" "Let's Do It!"


Journal Journal: Will Vista Kill Microsoft?

It used to be that Microsoft was the operating system that strove to be most easily usable by the lowest common denominator, and Linux was perceived as a tool only for the most serious geeks. So, by using Microsoft products for over a decade, end users had been, in some degree, 'dumbed down.' But the main intent, make no mistake, was to please the end user.

Now comes Vista, with some fairly significant changes in how things work. For some, it is a big hurdle. But end users were not Microsoft's only beneficiaries this time. Microsoft has chosen to become its own police force and provide seamless, impenetrable DRM. After all, it's not your content, it really belongs to the person who bought it from the creator. And as we've all seen, that DRM hasn't got a chance.

Microsoft will shortly find itself in a very difficult situation. Do they allow these 'end user DRM modifications,' or do they enforce copyright through reinforcing the DRM? How will this happen? Will Microsoft choose to disable certain features for those users who don't agree with their policies?

I think that we're in for a very interesting period here as Microsoft begins to understand what they are really doing, with both end users and copyright holders.

User Journal

Journal Journal: This Just In

- This Just In -

"Microsoft has received a patent for Communications. We are now no longer
allowed to communicate without a license."

There is a commotion outside.

"What's that sound?"

The door explodes inward and the room is immediately filled with smoke and
overrun with stormtroopers.

A large and ominous voice booms out.

"You are forbidden to communicate."

I am stunned! I don't know what to think!

Then just as suddenly the first wave of stormtroopers are felled, one by one in
an unimaginably short flash of time.

"Don't know what to think?" a voice says.

I look up and see Jeff Brazos towering above the carnage.

"That's fine by me. I just patented Thought!"

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot Insurance

Slashdot has it's way of finding things. That's good for me, 'cause I get to find out all kinds of neat things, that I probably wouldn't find out about otherwise. With each member empowered to be a cub reporter of sorts, Slashdot finds its way into everything sooner or later. And when it does, we race for the cliff, herded there with all the furry frenzy of a Walt Disney documentary. The Slashdot Effect is well documented (just Google 'slashdot effect'). And with that power (aka known as the Slashdot DDOS attack) comes responsibility. Perhaps someone could develop the market niche which would address this problem. Slashdot Insurance would provide coverage, for a reasonable fee, to insure both that your bandwidth would be paid for and that your site would remain accessible, by providing monitoring and mirroring as your insured threshold was crossed. It seems that Slashdot would be in the best position to offer said insurance, but I wonder what the RICO statutes would have to say about a company that can offer you protection from the adverse effects of their own business practices?

Hmmmmm..... Maybe this one needs a little more thought. I'll file it with the RFID Shielded Wallet and the RFID currency impersonator and we'll see what happens.

User Journal

Journal Journal: glat

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a student to which had been appended the puzzle: WWWDOT-GOOGLE=DOTCOM. I like puzzles, so after solving it I decided to track down it's origins. I guess I missed the /. article. Anyway, here's my take WFIW.
  1. 555378-177104=378274
  2. the hot to be cool
    the cool to become warmer
    can i have more ram?
  3. 12212111
  4. E
  5. Unix isn't broken, it is only misunderstood by the inexperienced. At some level, each of us individually reaches a point at which we are individually inexperienced. Only shared understandings have any meaning. Do you understand? Live free or die. (However if I were to design an operating system around a product I might view things differently ... )
  6. E
  7. E
  8. 17280: Blue@450nm, Yellow-Green@550nm and Red@650nm (nice round numbers)
  9. 365731913 * 11
  10. 1 ohm
  11. I'd do that stuff on Saturday afternoon, and organize for the week to wind (are we flying a kite or energizing a toy?) down on on Sunday.
  12. pi = c/r
  13. D
  14. It's not in the quality or quantity of items/concepts, it's in the interpretations of the understandings of the relationships between the items/concepts. Users tend to refine their searches in an interative manner. Those iterations represent (hopefully, from the searcher's point of vew) a refinement in the result set. If we organize the data in an N directed graph, we can allow for navigation of the result data set by the intention of the searcher with respect to the relationships of the items/concepts. In effect we can data mine the searches indexed by IP and, by comparison of enough sets begin to explore the overall solution set for locii of interest.
  15. D
  16. Determine the Centriod (P) by bisecting the three sides of the triangle ABC with the compass and extending the three medians to their intersection with the ruler. Then use the ruler to connect the three verticis of ABC with the Centriod P.
  17. 0 (zero)
  18. Use of indirection in MUMPS to allow code to morph itself to adapt to circumstances rather than individually coding for each possible circumstance. Probably applicable in python too.
  19. (N!)/(N/2)! However, there is a special case, if mapped to the empty set means we have an exact identical outcome: We each have Nothing!
  20. D
  21. Stimulating the mind with interesting problems and formulating solutions that are downright sexy. Finding the page curl of reality and pulling it back to see the machineries within.



User Journal

Journal Journal: Moderation Selections: Disinformation is Misleading

I'd like to add at least one option to the choices in the moderation select list: Misleading (-1). This would be used for some messages which are simply marked Offtopic or Troll. However the problem is tha message is not really either, and sometimes inattentive moderators even select Informative for these messages. The point, however, is that the message author has made a deliberate attempt to subvert the discussion.

We live in a world where perception is reality. Everyone from advertisers to businesses, education to government practices this form of deception in one way or another, when the stakes are sufficently high; and the usual motive behind it leads in some manner to select individuals profiting at the expense of the general population. Shouldn't we simply identify disinformation for what it is worth? Shouldn't we encourage /. readers to make this kind of distinction?


Journal Journal: What Slashdot Needs: A Summarizer

With all the messages that manage to pass through the discussons on this site, it's often a big pain in the a** to actually separate the entertainement, from the information. Wouldn't it be nice to have a means to digest and summarize the discussions so that we could get to the facts or the funnies relatively quickly? At the very least, the posts could be grouped by their moderation tags and point values. I know that as end users we can 'adjust' the ratings of messages, but I'd like something a little more organized.


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