Late Night twitter

People love and use twitter for lots of different reasons. But I found this quote today from Leo Laporte, of TwiT fame:

“Twitter late night is kind of a swinging place, full of insomniacs, the caffeinated, and Australians. I dig it.”

leolaporte

Pretty much sums up twitter up-late. The other thing is that us Aussies must be making an impact on the twitter scene. There is certainly a big contingent of Aussies out there that are twitter nuts, so hop to it and see what you are missing. Or check out the Global Geek Podcast twitter special, all about twitter. We even talk about this very aspect of twitter – the light night twitter goings on from Oz.

Part of why I love twitter.

The_Rooster my updates are protected but add me and I might just follow you too 🙂

I Am Not a Terminal Blogger

Time BombIn the last 24 hours there has been a flurry of posts in reaction to an article on The New York Times, basically saying that the bloggers lifestyle is a fatal one. The article goes on to chronicle the recent deaths of a few more prominent bloggers and near misses from heart attacks mostly. In addition to the details about what it is like to be a corporate blogger and how much it is worth. They even mention a quote from Michael Arrington saying:

“This is not sustainable”

This may well be the case with the global giants such as TechCrunch, Gawker Media, ZDNet and others who are in a constant 24/7 race with each other to break the latest news. Even with a huge team and massive financial resources these guys don’t aways win. Yes it is nice when the little guy scores. Despite the fact that they will pretend that he didn’t.

Truth is that there is no point in trying to beat these blogging machines at their game. Why torture yourself? These machines have inside knowledge and get “tipped off” plus they do insane amounts of just poking to see if it moves and then speculate. Their reader numbers and influence makes people take notice regardless of the truth. A search for “rumor” on TechCrunch is a perfect example.

In addition if your a blog that has millions of page views a day and can generate a lot of traffic for companies, the fallout is that these are the blogs that are going to be sent emails about new start-ups, news or “insider information”. The “A-listers” are being used as another cog in the marketing machine. They are making money so everyone is happy.

I think that this means you can’t really have that great a relationship with your readers. Your too busy getting the next big story. Sure they might have a comments section and the “share this” plugin (or some variant) in order for you to participate in the “conversation” but they care more about you talking about them than they do about what you have to say.

In contrast I take a genuine interest in the communities around me. This for me has been the most rewarding part of blogging and podcasting. I actually allocate time and make a point of interacting with our community, especially with regards to the podcast. I have many listeners that are a part of my Skype contacts, twitter, Facebook not only as listeners but as friends. They all have something valuable to say and how much more valuable is that when they know that you have read it and responded to it. I care about them and the fact that they took the effort to say what they think.

But then I am not doing it for a living, maybe things would be different if I was. But to my thinking it is the community that follows you that matters, without them you don’t have much value. Either monetary or the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing is appreciated. Some bloggers don’t even need this, they are happy with self contentment.

I also agree with what Steve Hodson said about the article. Steve detests the concept of the “A-listers” considers himself a realist and writes like one. Stating that there are plenty of bloggers (the majority) that are adding more value to the conversation by adding substance that the “A-lister” can’t because they are off getting the next story. And they are making a decent living doing it!

So for me the take home message is that death by blogging is not unique to blogging. There are plenty of individuals out there in many occupations that work too hard and forget about life. There are plenty that are dead as well. It is the corporate machine that applies this pressure or themselves. Sure follow the machine just don’t try and compete with it. Ignore the pressure and carve your own niche and community, make them matter and the rewards will come, if that is what you want. Add value to the conversation by providing substance, I get more by reading and hearing about reactions than I do the original story anyway.

I am going to let the machine do it’s own thing, kill em selves in the process and have an opinion about it when they do. I could even write for the New York Times one day.

Existing Technology Could Make a Difference, Why Re-Invent the Wheel?

The following article is my personal opinion and does not reflect those of any health care system in Australia. I am not speaking for or on behalf of any facility or department or person. These are my own views and opinions as a member of the public, in relation to new technology and embracing those technologies for the benefit of patients.

Digital Pen Camera

I really hope that some politician somewhere is paying attention right now. Today I read an article about a new USB camera. It is called the Digital Pen Camera. This camera is special, what makes it special is that it is a small, very small. This means that the applications for medicine are exciting.

Measuring 14cm in length and 12.2 cm in diameter, so it is shaped like a pen. With this size comes the fact that it is also capable of really clear close ups up to 9mm from the subject. I could go into the rest of what makes this all possible but that would just be reiterating Dan’s Data’s excellent review, which you should read if you are interested.

While the technical specifications of this tiny camera are interesting even amazing, what is more interesting to me is what sort of things are possible with it, especially in regards to medicine. Here is an example of what this camera is capable of:

(This video has no sound)

Not sure if Dan knew what he was looking at inside his own ear, but that is a video of his ear drum. In fact it is a pretty good quality image that, in my opinion; any doctor and most defiantly a specialist could view that video to make a diagnosis or treatment decisions based on it. Or at the very least have an idea as to what is going on. That is vitally important. It is also worth taking a look at some of the other images that Dan has captured to emphasize the point of what I am about to say.

In Australia we have isolated communities that are a long way from specialist medical care. Lots of families live on large properties in the middle of no-where. Say a child has an ear-ache. The family might make the trip into town to see the doctor, this might be an hour or two (maybe more). They tell the doctor about the ear ache and he or she takes a look but they are undecided as to what is the best treatment so a referral to a specialist in a major center is made. Now the health care system is paying for that family to fly to the closest ear nose and throat specialist, accommodation and the flight back. The specialist takes a look and decides on a treatment and maybe a return visit. Or maybe the trip was unnecessary all together and the treatment could have been prescribed and managed by the local doctor.

Now that very scenario utilizing new technology and services that the Internet provides is a totally different one. The family may still have to visit the doctor. But once there the doctor is not sure of the best treatment. The doctor then starts Skype and plugs in the Digital Pen Camera. Starts a call to the specialist at the major center, tells he or she what the symptom are or the family can talk to the specialist directly. The specialist obviously needs to take a look in the child’s ear, so the Digital Pen Camera is employed and using Skype’s webcam features gets a great look in the ear. No trip to the big smoke necessary, or the trip is not a wasted one when it is decided that they need to go to get the best treatment, possibly a procedure.

Alternatively, if the specialist is not available at the time then the video could be recorded and sent via email or placed on a server via ftp and viewed when convenient. There are a number of possibilities for sharing this information and getting the best treatment to the most remote places.

This set up requires no building of technology, no massive investment in infrastructure. Yet the health care system is hell bent on building hardware or buying it at great expense setting it up and maintaining it and then not even using it in the way that they should be. Medicine needs to start adopting what us geeks have been doing for years and incorporating it into their practice. In doing so the struggling health care system would be saving thousands and thousands of dollars. There are many other costs built into the above situation other than what I have mentioned, I just wanted to keep it simple, but they could all be mitigated or reduced by using existing technology for the benefit of patients. In addition the families that are totally inconvenienced by the whole system get faster better treatment without being temporarily relocated.

I am sure that the government is probably saying things like it is not secure and it is not done that way, I have heard all the rhetoric before. But Skype is encrypted and we need to rethink some things! Seriously, wake up to yourselves.

Skype Application = free

Skype to Skype call cost = free (bandwidth excluded – they are paying for that anyway)

Digital Pen Camera = $90 (AU and excluding GST)

Most of the medical equipment that I have seen that can produce the above video quality are worth 10’s of thousands and some 100’s where such magnification is required. The 99 dollars that this little camera is capable of costs nothing in comparison, especially considering that it could benefit more than just one patient. Therefore, based on that calculation the thousands of dollars that it would have cost for little Johnny to see the specialist would be ZERO. It does not take a genius to see what we could be doing for a very small cost.

I admit there are some things that need to be looked at in order to really apply this to patients. One thing that comes to mind is the attachments and having enough available for each patient or the training that might be required. But I don’t think these are major hurdles at all.

Te application for this small camera are numerous, wide and varied, not only in health. But I am convinced that the application of the hardware to health at such a small relative cost is exciting. This technology could benefit any number of patients in many different situations. If you are a health professional then you will know what I mean by that. The benefit to patients would be measurable and the benefit to the system and the limited resources also of great significance.

I really don’t know why this is not being done right now. I am at a loss as to how I can influence the decision makers in order to change the way that we do things, or even just to evaluate what we do. I want to make things better for patients and the system. Maybe then I can make a real difference.

The Digital Pen Camera is available to anyone that wants one (even the government):

They are available in Australia for $99 including GST from Aus PC Market.

I am sure that they would consider a bulk discount, anyone for a trial using this very cool piece of kit?

Stupid Idea, Has a Life of Seconds

Found out today that there is a new company called The Pudding in private beta. Nothing new there. They are offering free PC based calls. I can only presume that this implies PC to landline calls. Great, excellent. But we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. But sure we can put up with the odd advert or pop-up if the product is worth it. But the product better be good. In this instance I don’t think any product would be good enough.

The price of the free calls is that you agree to let the company listen into your conversations and then deliver contextual advertising based on what you are talking about. What the heck are they thinking? This has got to be the worst business model I think I have ever heard.

In this era where people are as paranoid as ever about issues such as privacy and identity and all that goes with it, a company has decided to “bet” that people are going to be willing to give all that up for what? Free phone calls! Stupid idea. It just is not going to happen. That opinion comes without even exploring the idea of advertising which quite frankly I could do without and would rather pay for a service that comes ad free. But that is me.

Stupid name stupid idea, and that is going straight into the broken egg pile here at the chicken coop.

The Pudding Screenshot

Via: Silicon Alley Insider

Internode Increase Prices, Twice

Internode BannerI use Internode as my current Internet Service Provider, they have been reliable, cost effective and I have not had a single complaint. The day before yesterday they announced that there would be changes to their plans and pricing structure. I now have a complaint.

There has not been an increase or major changes to their offerings since I have been with Internode. Indeed there has not been a price increase for six years. I can appreciate that these things change and inevitably prices always increase. However in this instance it is the percentage of increase and the way in which they have gone about it that sticks in my neck.

The reasons that have been given for the price increases are that while offered line speeds have increase, the cost of provision has not decreased. In other words users have faster speeds, download more and the cost of providing that bandwidth has increased. Internode blame the heavy use of services such as YouTube and BitTorrent for this. I am not sure what they expected users to do. These services especially video are only really available to those on faster connections!  Therefore they have hit the high speed users more than the lower end plans. I presume they use the above for justification for this. They are the ones using the bandwidth so lets charge them the most.

So the price goes up. Which as far as I am concerned is fine. I can understand that if something costs more then you need to essentially cover that cost. For me this means an added cost of about $10 AU to my bill per month. Currently I am on 8000MB/384kB connection with a limit of 20 Gig down per month. I can cop the 10 bucks on the chin. But essentially I have been delt a double blow. My bandwidth has been halved to 10 Gig per month for the same price that I am paying now. The cost to increase to my current 20 Gig limit once the changes are in effect? 10 Bucks… Do you see it? This is not a 10 dollar increase, it is a 20 dollar increase. Because that is what it will cost to maintain my current service.

This was underhanded in my opinion. If you are going to increase my plan by 20 bucks then bloody say that. Don’t halve my service! Don’t tell me that most users don’t use their limit and don’t soften it by saying that you are offering 13 new plans to better suit my budget! This is a massive increase in cost to the end user both in bandwidth and cost. I assumed that maybe it would be 5 – 10 dollars per month, I was very wrong. Internode will loose customers having done this and there are a lot that are not happy. As the Whirlpool Forums, in which users have vented their displeasure is a testament to. There are those defending them as well but more that are trying to wrap their head around exactly what Internode were thinking.

As I said Internode are excellent, I don’t have a complaint about their service. Am I leaving? No, not for the moment, but I am looking at alternatives.

With the advent of the connected world, the increase demands of bandwidth for applications and web development with software technologies such as Ajax, Java and Flash, podcasting, on-line video and gaming this was inevitable. People are using the technology, they are utilizing that which the online universe has presented to them. They are using more bandwidth, they are consuming more resources. It was not like you could not see it coming. But this is only the beginning. The Internet is being programed for users that have the bandwidth to run it, not the other way around. In my opinion the thought that if you give users a faster speed they won’t actually consume more bandwidth was an oversight. Then to slug users that are using these services with a large increase and cripple their ability to use them due to reduced bandwidth limits was wrong.

I am not impressed Internode, at your lack of foresight, your logic, your increase in price and your reduction in my service. But as I said I have been happy with your service and I will give you but few chances and no, you are not a cat and there goes one…

Internode Homepage Screenshot

Consumers are in Charge, Got It?

Pete Cashmore said this today in relation to the fact that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences pulled all the clips of the Oscars from YouTube:

“Here’s the problem for you, content providers: you’re no longer in charge. The consumer is. And they’ll watch your content where and when they want, or they won’t bother watching it at all.”

YouTube Viewers Would NOT Like to Thank the Academy

Totally 100% agree, now how long do think till they actually get what that means? Right now I am not seeing that they do or are even close to even knowing how it can affect them. Nice one Pete.

Nice Job Wal-Mart

The screenshot below looks like crap. It is Wal-Mart’s entry into the competitive world of on-line video downloads.

Wal-Mart FF Version

It is crap because the screenshot was taken from Firefox. So why is it crap? Well it looks fine in Internet Explorer so in essence it isn’t but it is crap but because the mastermind that wrote the code failed to test it in Firefox makes it crap on more than one level. He or she just isolated about 30% of users. I hope that coder got the boot.

The other thing is that it has been this way for a few days. If I was Wal-Mart I would have fixed it pronto, nope. Double black mark. It is rather ironic is that the user that is going to utilize this service is more than likely an early adopter. Who are early adopters? Usually geeks. What do geeks browse with? Usually Firefox. So potentially they have just isolated a lot more than 30%.

Stupid oversight that could cost them dearly.

Render in IE for Optimal Viewing:

Wal-Mart in IE Screenshot