Archive for the 'General' Category

The Problem With Google And Why You Should Care

When I read The Case Against Google in The New York Times last week it was with a typical technology interest eye. It was like reading the local paper about hit-and-runs, robberies, or the latest political scandal. Somewhat interesting, but it really doesn’t affect me (thankfully). Or so I thought.

Then Medgadget published Our Case Against Google, which is a comprehensive (and damning) indictment of Google and the “GoogleFacebook duopoly”. Their bottom line:

Google is an evil monopoly.

This is not a new red flag. Even nine years ago there were concerns: Is Google a Monopoly? Just ask Stack Overflow (and me). Note that this site’s Google search traffic in 2009 was 95.9%. Now it’s 98.4%, mostly because there are fewer search engine competitors around today.

Here’s an overly simplistic summary of the effects of these monopolistic behaviors:

  1. It kills innovation. As the Raffs journey shows, superior technology can be easily crushed.
  2. It kills high-quality content, which is well-documented in the Medgadget article.

Companies trying to innovate or content providers that are dependent on ad revenue for survival are, of course, directly affected by this. But I’m not either of those, so how does this affect me?

I’m an Android/Gmail/Google Docs&Maps person (i.e. no Apple here). I take it for granted that all of these wonderful Google-supplied technologies and conveniences are free. Google funds these goodies through their anti-competitive tactics and biased search algorithms. Does this mean that I’m benefiting from Google’s bad behavior?  No duh!

So the logical conclusion is that my Google freebies aren’t free after all.

Technology innovation and high-quality content are also things that I take for granted. But in reality, these are being sacrificed and are the actual cost. The struggles (and potential failure) of companies like Foundem and Medgadget is a very high price to pay, and it’s happening all the time as a result of Google’s behavior.

Why you should care: Monopolistic behavior carries this high price for all of us. This is true no matter what technology you use.

Modern-day technology anti-trust litigation (including the 1998 Microsoft case) involve complex legal/business/technology issues that are well worth becoming educated about.

Unfortunately, battling 800-pound Gorillas is a difficult business.  Asking this small med-tech community to raise awareness wherever possible is the least we can do.

Thanks for reading!

Update (3/22/18): Google and Facebook can’t help publishers because they’re built to defeat publishers


Old Nerds

Nobody is immune from aging.

In the tech industry, this can be a problem as described in Is Ageism In Tech An Under-The-Radar Diversity Issue?.  Programmer age distribution from the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2016 Results clearly shows this:

2016-Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2016 Results

Worth noting:

  • 77.2% are younger than 35.
  • Twice as many are < 20 then are over 50.

Getting old may suck, but if problem-solving and building solutions are your passion being an old nerd (yes, I’m way over 35) really can look like this:
There’s a lot of reasonable advice in Being A Developer After 40, but I think this sums it up best:

As long as your heart tells you to keep on coding and building new things, you will be young, forever.

I sure hope so! 🙂

UPDATE 13-Oct-16: Too Old for IT

Healthcare IT Q&A: R.I.P.

After close to two years of effort (see here) the Healthcare IT Stack Exchange Site is closing for good. HealthCare IT is closing:

it simply does not appear that this topic has a strong enough following on our network to support the site long-term

That says it all. 🙁

SOPA and Internet Censorship

I first heard about this from a system message on the Stack Overflow site. The post Protect intellectual property – but not like this explains their position (in particular, SOPA vs. DMCA) and has a lot of good links to more information.

SOPA-Rope-a-dope has a well written explanation of DNS blocking and DNSSEC.

This bill is a really bad idea. A lot of people in the know agree: An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress.

Congress to Resume SOPA Hearings Next Week (Wednesday 12/21) so it’s not too late to help stop this bill. If you’re like me and have always wondered why people contact their Congressperson, now we finally have a good reason to do so.  Go to Stop American Censorship and let your voice be heard.

From RWW Cartoon: SOPA Opera:


UPDATE (12/23/11): Bill that could ‘break the Internet’ delayed until 2012. Also see: What You Need to Know About SOPA in 2012

Finally Launched: Healthcare IT Q&A

The new Healthcare IT Stack Exchange site is now open to the public.

Hopefully this thing will take off.  So go search, ask, answer, up vote,  and (yes) down vote when necessary. Also, don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues.

We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. — Carl Sagan

ZDNet Healthcare: Gone forever?

Wow! It took me 7 months to realize that I had not seen an update from the ZDNet Healthcare blog. The reason is that Dana Blankenhorn was fired around the end of November 2010.  Apparently it was his Free and Open Source (FOSS)  blogging that lead to his demise at ZDNet. Also see the comments section in this article.

I commented on his Healthcare blog several times and even took issue with him in Access to Medical Data: Are PC Standards and PHRs (You) the Answer?

It looks like ZDNet has not found a replacement for dedicated Healthcare coverage. This means I can remove ‘ZDNet Healthcare Blog RSS’ from my reader feed.

Final Plea to Launch: Healthcare IT Q&A

Closer to Launch: Healthcare IT Q&A didn’t get close to doing the job. Even after 8 months the commitment level is still at only 60%:

It doesn’t look like Area51 has a time limit on how long a proposal can languish in the Commitment phase, but we’re going to need a lot more support to get to Beta. So go over and sign up today!

Writers Writing about Writing

Jeff Atwood is a great writer. All of his blog posts are informative and interesting.

How to Write Without Writing is a case in point.  It starts off with a clever hook (“trick my fellow programmers”), expounds the benefits of writing, particularly answering questions (“fun sized”) as a way to improve your communication skills.  All of this is true.

The worm in the apple of course is the blatant promotion for the Writers Stack Exchange site. You really can’t fault Jeff for doing this though. If you were running a venture funded business that depended on driving traffic, you’d make use of your celebrity in exactly the same way.

This will hopefully not diminish the message that writing can be used as an effective vehicle to gain technical knowledge as well as being a critical professional skill.

That wasn’t as insurmountable and impenetrable as I thought it was going to be.

Closer to Launch: Healthcare IT Q&A

The reverse psychology I used in Failure to Launch: Healthcare IT Q&A is finally starting to work. The question definitions are complete and the commitment phase has begun:

Go over and sign up today.

Failure to Launch: Healthcare IT Q&A

It seems like a great concept (to me anyway). Grow a community of like-minded Healthcare IT geeks that want to participate in an on-line Q&A site which rewards contribution and facilitates constructive dialog. As of today, it appears unlikely this will happen anytime soon.

Even after being endorsed on HISTalk News 6/25/10 less than 900 people have visited the site.

The attraction that programmers have for Stack Overflow just doesn’t translate for this group of professionals. I suppose it’s the nature of the business.

  1. Programming, like Food and Cooking, have a much larger audience. Since only a small percentage of the interested population will actively participate or become community leaders, the numbers game is critical.
  2. Even though Healthcare IT seems like a broad topic, the number of non-subjective questions that could be asked is probably fairly limited.  The .NET Framework and bread recipes have tons of facts.
  3. Maybe HIT experts are a shy bunch?  The activity level also seems surprising low on Chris Paton’s Health Informatics Forum site which has over 4000 members.

Anyway, it’s really too bad there isn’t a way for a site like this to gain traction. It would be a valuable HIT resource if it could get off the ground.



Twitter Updates