Monthly Archives: February 2007

Windows Vista

I have been running Windows Vista on my laptop for a couple of weeks now. I like it. It is better than XP. There is not much else to say about that has not been said elsewhere. I am running it on a Dell Latitude D820. The install took a while but since then it has been pretty smooth sailing. The program I use to write this blog, RocketPost, had an incompatibility but Vista prompted me to download the missing component. Other than that there is not a lot to be excited about. The new UI is nice. I like the search box on the start bar. I know that under the covers the system is more reliable and secure.

Here is my biggest problem with Vista. Did they really have to make 5 editions? And that doesn’t count the versions for europe or the developing world. Microsoft this is what I want, 1 edition. Charge $150 – $200 for it. The idea that I cannot get bitlocker unless I have a volume subscription is crazy. Is my data on my laptop worth less than a larger companies data? I am a small business and while someday I will have a volume license, right now I don’t. Why does Home Basic exist? It has very few of the Vista features. I would advocate staying with XP over getting home basic. Having 2 versions was annoying. Having 5 is crazy. Same thing with Windows Server.

I have to say I breathed a large sigh of relief when I decided that my companies new backend search technology would run on Linux/Java/MySQL. I will still use Microsoft serves for web serving to use ASP.NET, but probably very little else. Figuring out which edition to get should not be a major burden. I am sure Microsoft is not alone in making this confusing. Alot of other companies do the same thing. But the number of versions of Vista is insane.

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Thoughts on the value of EMRs

This post on the value/cost of EMRs touches on a topic that I have been thinking a lot about How valuable is technology in healthcare? More specifically how valuable is IT in healthcare? The answer is twofold. First IT has the capability to be extremely valuable, helping doctors to make better decisions, gathering information from disparate sources, and alerting a doctor to something that he may not have known about or considered. In addition computers can make sure that things like patient records never get lost.

Now the reality is very different. Many EMRs are little more than very expensive data entry and display applications. There is very little automation that is being delivered by EMRs today. Want your patient records on CD? Not so fast. Even if you can get it there is no guarantee that the next doctor you visit will be able to open them. So basically much (not all) of healthcare IT is stuck in the 70s. A world of big system that need to be custom built for each institution. Remind you of IBM? Now where is Microsoft and Apple?

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More or Less

I have been giving a lot of though recently toward an going debate in the server business. Do I, as Google does, buy more desktop class computers and use software for reliability? Or do I buy fewer, more expensive servers that have some redundancy in hardware? Are there hybrid models? Johnathan Schwartz talked about this on his blog. Sun sells server class hardware and does argue for bigger, fewer, more powerful servers. Google is well known for using PC class hardware in an amazing density and it has worked well for them. I am looking for off the shelf hardware for right now so do I use bladesystems? I like the HP C-class half height servers because I can put 16 servers with all their support equipment in 10Us. But is it cost effective? I think that the Google approach is great but how much work does it take to build the custom racks? What is the learning curve for dealing with cooling? For now I am leaning toward cheap blades.

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Vista/Office Launch Event

I attended the Vista/Office launch event today in Washington Dc. I just attended the developer track that was held in the afternoon. The first hour was mostly a high level overview of the new Vista and Office . It was fairly informative although not very detailed. I do find the pillar theme of the presentation, Clear. Confident. Connected., to be somewhat irritating seeing as how one of the most anticipated features, used to be a pillar. I guess security is important enough to warrant a pillar but its a disappointing choice for the third pillar. Security should exist on all pillars. But I think that the WinFS horse has been beat to death. For anyone who does not know WinFS was a next generation database backed file system that was set to premier in Windows Vista but the project was ultimately canceled.

The second session showed more demos, including one of a patient monitoring application. It looked cool but wasn’t particularly useful as a health care application, but I think they got the point of graphic rich applications are better for users across. RSS was covered as was the built in search stuff. The search stuff looks really basic and anyone needing real search capabilities should look at Lucene. Windows Workflow looks really cool for building apps but I am not going to be using it in the stuff I am doing now. I see it as very useful for building line of business apps but less useful for infrastructure software. The visual designer is nice too.

The third session began with covering the plethora of products that have been launched, including Visual Studio addins and the various parts of office. Building ribbon addins for Office was covered. Overall I think that Office has advanced. VSTO is better. I really didn’t like the last one. Just on a side note, Office 2007 is the best new version that I have ever seen. The new Outlook is a must have application.

Sharepoint had some really cool features. The ability to manage libraries of individual slides, compose presentations of those slides, and have presentations containing those slides automatically update when those slides are changed is very slick. It also includes some social networking features. The whole system is very extensible. It is very heavyweight though and I like lighter weight things. Although the ability to use Sharepoint as a common repository of documents is almost reason enough to use it. Sharepoint also has some basic workflow features.

Overall the afternoon was informative. The presenter did not have internet access which hampered some of the demos.

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.net’s Achilles Heel

I have been a .net developer since .net beta 1 back in 2001. I love the platform and consider it to be superior as a single platform to anything else out there. However right now I am learning Java. Why? I am leveraging some opensource toolkits and pieces of software that do not have versions available in .net. I am using Nutch as the basis for a new search engine. Nutch is a fairly good piece of software. The underlying distributed computing components known as Hadoop are awesome. It is fairly easy to build a cluster of dozens to hundreds of machines to power a search engine.

So in this case the availability of a piece of open source software is driving my adoption of a new platform. I think that Microsoft should think long and hard about sponsoring opensource projects.

Update:

There is a lot of opensource software out there for .net. I just think there is a real lack of it in “high end” areas, like distributed computing. There is also not a lot of standardization in projects. I mean how many business frameworks and O/R Mappers do we really need?

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