My Extralife Comic: “Every answer a new question” by Scott Johnson

Your Medical Records Aren’t Secure

By Deborah C. Peel March 23, 2010

The president says electronic systems will reduce costs and improve quality, but they could undermine good care if people are afraid to confide in their doctors.

I learned about the lack of health privacy when I hung out my shingle as a psychiatrist. Patients asked if I could keep their records private if they paid for care themselves. They had lost jobs or reputations because what they said in the doctor’s office didn’t always stay in the doctor’s office. That was 35 years ago, in the age of paper. In today’s digital world the problem has only grown worse.

A patient’s sensitive information should not be shared without his consent. But this is not the case now, as the country moves toward a system of electronic medical records.

In 2002, under President George W. Bush, the right of a patient to control his most sensitive personal data—from prescriptions to DNA—was eliminated by federal regulators implementing the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. Those privacy notices you sign in doctors’ offices do not actually give you any control over your personal data; they merely describe how the data will be used and disclosed.

In a January 2009 speech, President Barack Obama said that his administration wants every American to have an electronic health record by 2014, and last year’s stimulus bill allocated over $36 billion to build electronic record systems. Meanwhile, the Senate health-care bill just approved by the House of Representatives on Sunday requires certain kinds of research and reporting to be done using electronic health records. Electronic records, Mr. Obama said in his 2009 speech, “will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests [and] save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health-care system.”

But electronic medical records won’t accomplish any of these goals if patients fear sharing information with doctors because they know it isn’t private.

Read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal

SAP Bosses Say It’s Now Pedal to the Metal

By Ashlee Vance

Pop quiz: You’re the new chief executive of a software maker that has been ridiculed ad nauseam for being years late with a product. What do you do?

Answer: Talk about speed, speed and speed. And that’s exactly what the top brass at SAP is doing these days.

SAP, based in Germany, has two chiefs to carry the torch of agility far and wide. After chief executive Leo Apotheker resigned last month, SAP’s board installed Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe as co-chief executives. The pair met earlier this week with Silicon Valley reporters at SAP’s office in Palo Alto, Calif.

The first words out of Mr. Snabe’s mouth: “It is obvious we will accelerate our innovation capability going forward.”

Later, he added, “What we want to do is increase the speed,” and “I don’t think we did a lot of wrong things in the past. We just have to do things much faster.”

Mr. McDermott chimed in as well, saying, ”I do think we are a little bit bolder in terms of our clock speed.”


NComputing’s Numo chip could drive desktop computer costs to zero

March 19, 2010, Dean Takahashi

It’s a tantalizing thought. The cost of destkop computing hardware is moving toward zero. Stephen Dukker, chief executive of NComputing, is moving that idea a step closer to reality today as he announces a new chip called Numo.

Of course, we don’t really mean zero. We just mean really really really cheap compared to today’s costs. Numo is a chip that integrates all of the desktop virtualization hardware that the company has created in its distributed computing solution, which lets a bunch of users share a single computer at the same time and still run all the Windows software that they need to use. And LG Electronics, the South Korean electronics giant, plans to begin selling monitors with the Numo chips as early as June.

If it takes hold in both business and the home, the Numo-based computer could take a lot of cost out of the price of computing. It’s a very disruptive idea, Dukker argues.

The revolution is already under way with distributed thin client computers. NComputing currently makes client computers that cost about $70. You plug them into a monitor and link them to a desktop computer. The client, using NComputing’s vSpace software, taps the power of virtualization. That is, it taps the unused power of the PC to operate the client as if it were another computer. You can attach 10 or 20 of these small clients to a single desktop computer. That means 20 users can do their work — such as cruising the Internet or working on productivity apps — by sharing one computer. It’s like a throwback to the days of time-shared mainframe computers.

Read the complete article at

6 critical tips for launching a startup while holding a day job

March 24, 2010.  Jason Cohen

(Editor’s note: Jason Cohen is an angel investor and the founder of Smart Bear Software. This story originally appeared on his blog.)

Most people start their first company while they still have a day job. It makes sense: You don’t need loans. You don’t need funding. And if you “fail,” all you’ve lost is time.

But you’ve also placed yourself in a hazardous – potentially legally ambiguous – situation. If managed improperly, you’re unnecessarily risking lawsuits and worse.

I’ve been on both sides of the table: I’ve done a startup while working and I’ve employed people who either were or are very capable of having their own startup on the side. And I’ve known people who were sued because of it, and not all of them won.

Recognizing in advance that I’m not a lawyer – and that none of this qualifies as legal advice – here are my tips for how to pull off the balancing act:

Pick a business that can thrive within your constraints

Your side venture has constraints a “normal” business doesn’t have:

  • You can’t answer the phone during normal business hours.
  • You can’t answer emails during normal business hours.
  • You can’t afford to hire three developers to add features and bugs.
  • You have to work in fits and spurts.

Your natural tendency is to fight these constraints, but that’s the wrong approach. For example, you know that to avoid social media shitstorms you’re supposed to have stupendous customer service, so you claim as much on your website. But then you don’t have a phone number and emails sent to you at 10:00am don’t get answered until that night (which means they’re not viewed until the following day).

That’s called a “missed expectation.” It’s also called pissing in the wind — it’s just going to come right back at you.

Read the full list at

Security Issues of Online Gaming

By Greg Byrne

This article looks at several of the issues regarding security aspects of online based games and virtual worlds.


As online gaming becomes a billion dollar industry and game companies are making revenue from subscription charges, new problems emerge which need to be taken very seriously. Online games containing graphical glitches, sound defects and poor performance will not be very popular. However, an online game with security flaws and mass-cheating will simply fail.

Several security issues related to online gaming are shared with other network applications, however online gaming has a unique set of problems that need to be dealt with. The aim of creating a secure game is not only to ensure customers credit card numbers are protected, but to ensure that all players receive a fair and entertaining experience. Otherwise, they won’t play.

This rest of this article looks at some of the security related issues in online gaming. Note that not all of the issues will apply to all types of games.

Continue reading at

(Image from World of Warcraft, by Blizzard Entertainment, captured by Niko at 7:50am Mar 24, 2010)

AiR-#012 – Apptastic iGame Review – 3/24/10 with, Produced by: Chris Pope

AiR-3/24/10 Guest: Bonnie Frankum on with us 🙂 Reviews: Depict, Cube Runner, Jumples with Marvin the Meerkat, Stitcher, Text From Last night, Calculations Randoms: Fortune Ball, iBrate, iPuppetBlue

15 Best Keyboard Shortcuts

Cyber Attack on U.S. Firms, Google Traced to China

By Bill Gertz

An Obama administration official told The Washington Times the U.S. was able, with some confidence, to link the cyber attack on Google and other U.S. companies, to Chinese government organs.

The cyber attack on Google and other U.S. companies was part of a suspected Chinese government operation launched last year that used human intelligence techniques and high-technology to steal corporate secrets, U.S. government and private-sector cybersecurity specialists told The Washington Times.

More worrying is the likelihood that the cyber attacks that led Google this week to end its cooperation with Beijing-controlled censorship and move its search engine service to Hong Kong included planting undetectable software on American company networks that could allow further clandestine access or even total control of computers in the future.

Continue reading at or the

Blue Waters: Sustained Petascale Computing

Blue Waters is expected to be the most powerful supercomputer in the world for open scientific research when it comes online in 2011. It will be the first system of its kind to sustain one petaflop performance on a range of science and engineering applications. The project also includes intense collaboration with dozens of teams in the development of science and engineering applications, system software, interactions with business and industry, and educational programs. This comprehensive approach will ensure that scientists and engineers across the country will be able to use Blue Waters to its fullest potential.

Scientists will create breakthroughs in nearly all fields of science using Blue Waters. They will predict the behavior of complex biological systems, understand how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang, design new materials at the atomic level, predict the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, and simulate complex engineered systems like the power distribution system and airplanes and automobiles.

Blue Waters is a joint effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, its National Center for Supercomputing Applications, IBM, and the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation. It is supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Illinois.

Information on the Blue Waters project can be found at