Slashdot: Rethinking Virtual Communities Part 3

Here is an interesting article on Slashdot about virtual communities (VC’s)past and present, and the rise of corporatism on the Internet. ‘…The new online community may have to draw from some of the most traditional, non-tech elements of society: the water
cooler, the backyard fence, the tavern, the neighborhood park, even the office itself. All of these gathering spots tend to
cement community, forge relationships, provide the human and contextual cues that help people resolve disputes, receive
information,communicate in a civil way, learn new ideas. It is precisely these kinds of one-on-one communications
forums that are missing in so many VC’s…’

Best of LMN: Top 10 (And Growing) Reasons Doctor’s Aren’t Computerized

Happy Holidays, this is a best of LinuxMedNews article. This list originally appeared 9/11/2000. Items 13-11 are courtesy of Jefferson Hopkins.

13. If it gets something on it, we can’t autoclave it!

12. The computer doesn’t address me as “Doctor”.

11. Risk carpal-tunnel syndrome with these hands?

10. I’m too BUSY to learn how to use computers.

9. Design committee input: Can you make that thingie on the
screen blink?’

8. Voice recognition, now THAT will be something.

7. My time is too valuable, why don’t we hire someone?

6. We’ll have that feature in the NEXT version.

5. Remember what a disaster the last one was?

4. I can work faster with my pen.

3. I won’t be able to interact with my patient if I have this
THING on my desk.

2. You want a drug and drug interaction database? That’ll COST

1. What? They want to turn me into a TYPIST!

Additions are welcome.

Christmas (License) Greetings

From us (“the wishor”) to you (“hereinafter called the wishee”) Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all…and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2001, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee. Author Unknown, courtesy of Tim Cook, fine print follows.

By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms

  • This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal
  • This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.
  • This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes.
  • This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor.
  • This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.
  • The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor
  • Any references in this greeting to “The Lord”, “Father Christmas”, “Our Saviour”, or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

Linux NetworX Clusters Powering Genome Research

Linux NetworX, which shipped the world’s first commercial Linux cluster
system, recently delivered a 40-processor cluster to Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory for its Drosophila Genome Project. The ability of Linux clusters to match the performance of expensive
supercomputers for a fraction of the price, is making it the technology
of choice for researchers and scientists alike. Follow the Read more… link to see the company’s press release.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Uses Linux NetworX Cluster System for Genome Research

Cluster system offers the computation power, scalability, and price/performance required for genome studies

Linux NetworX, Inc., a provider of
large-scale clustered computer solutions for Internet, industry and
research fields,
announced today that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley
Calif., has selected a Linux NetworX cluster computer system for its
Drosophila Genome Project.

Using the Linux NetworX cluster system with 40 processors, Berkeley Lab
is analyzing and sequencing the Drosophila (fruit fly) genome, the
resulting genome data from these studies can be used for applications in
human genome research, such as research into diseases and aging. The
Drosophila’s 15,000 genes are similar to a human’s 100,000 genes and
have been used extensively in the past as a model organism for research

The massive amount of data computation inherent in genome research
requires large supercomputers or cluster systems. Cluster technology is
a method of linking multiple computers, or compute modules, together to
form a powerful, unified system. Linux NetworX clusters can match the
performance of supercomputers for a fraction of the cost.

“The Linux NetworX cluster is much more cost efficient than the systems
we’ve used in the past,” said Erwin Frise, systems manager and
biomedical scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “Comparing
the price/performance of the cluster to supercomputers and other options
available on the market made Linux NetworX the obvious choice for our

Frise also explains that because clusters are highly scalable, Berkeley
Lab will be able to add additional compute modules to the system to keep
it up to date, something not feasible with a supercomputer. The ability
to add additional compute modules as demands increase also provides
long-term cost savings because the Linux NetworX cluster architecture
takes advantage of many standard hardware components.

“Our clustered systems are a great option for research organizations
such as Berkeley Lab,” said Glen Lowry, president and CEO of Linux
NetworX. “Linux NetworX provides organizations with complete ready-to-go
cluster solutions – allowing the customer to focus on what they do best.
The biotechnology and genome research markets are recognizing the
outstanding value Linux NetworX clusters offer over other alternatives.
We’re pleased that our technology is an instrumental component in such
important scientific endeavors.”

About Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located
in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research
and is managed by the University of California.

About Linux NetworX

Linux NetworX ( brings its powerful cluster
technology to those demanding high-availability and high-performance
systems. With the use of cluster computer technology, Linux NetworX
provides solutions for companies with high-computing needs including
Internet servers, research, industry, government and other technological
fields. Through innovative hardware, complete cluster management
software, service and support, Linux NetworX provides end-to-end
clustering solutions.

To date, the company has built some of the largest cluster systems in
the world and has developed unique hardware and versatile software to
facilitate overall system management. Linux NetworX has offices in Utah,
New York, Calif. and Texas and worldwide distributors.

About the Linux Operating System

Linux is a computer operating system that is distributed freely on the
Internet. As an open source project, Linux allows developers to share
information, code and suggestions to continuously maintain and improve
the system. Linux NetworX selected the operating system for its
stability, reliability and rapid development.

NY Times: New Privacy Rules to Shield Patients

Updated: 12/21/00 You can download and read yourself the PDF document (1533 pages!) here from the gov’t ‘Administration Simplification’ (??!!) page. The New York Times (free login required) is reporting that new medical record privacy rules are to take effect in two years. ‘…The new rules, completing four years of work, will affect virtually every doctor, patient, hospital, pharmacy and health insurance plan in the country, setting the first comprehensive federal standards for transactions now regulated by a jumble of state laws…They
cover not only electronic records, but also paper records, regardless of
whether they ever existed in electronic form. The rules will also cover oral
communications by health care providers and health plans…the disclosure of medical information would be limited to the
“minimum necessary” for any purpose like paying bills…’

On Jack Hammers, Concrete and Medical Open Source

It was 2:00 am last week and I was admitting a patient to the hospital. It was a night to remember for what it wasn’t.

The nurse handed me the nursing workup as well as a workup from the transferring hospital the patient came from. For once the paper wasn’t illegible scrawl. For once it wasn’t legible writing run through that notorious illegibilizer: a fax machine. For once I could read what medications the patient was on and their doses. For once, I could actually use work people had previously done so that my workup on the patient went smoothly and swiftly.

The whole episode from beginning to end took 30 minutes instead of the usual 1 to 1.5 hour fumble attempting to make sense out of the laboriously produced garbage that most previous medical records are.

These thoughts brought memories of my transition from hot-shot software engineer to medical student some years ago. The astonishment I felt in those days of playing the intensely irritating (to a software engineer), time-wasting fumble of ‘Where’s the chart?’ or worse: having to wait for it until someone else was through with it.

I’ve mellowed through the years in a way I don’t care to mellow. Idiotic delays don’t bother me nearly as much as they should. But, I was reminded of it anew after breaking concrete in my condo.

You see, my subfloor sucks. Built 20 years ago in the go-go oil boom years in Houston, they put down too thin plywood. In places the joists are too far apart and the thing flexes. The concrete on top doesn’t and it cracks badly. Years ago, lawsuits against the builder were followed swifly by bankruptcy that left the bad floors in place for 20 years.

I’m a home improvement type and intentionally buy places in good areas that have problems. Being both an engineer and in medicine, I have a double dose of obsessional characteristics so of course I elected to break out the whole mess and start over. The board of directors wanted to do just a patch job, but I wanted it done right to put down nice flooring. I told them I was going to jack hammer it out. ‘You won’t need a jack hammer, it will just come out by hand.’ was the reply.

Good lord, are they out of touch, I thought.

My reaction was predictable. A character trait of engineers is they don’t like to be contradicted when they say how they are going to do something. They’ve usually discarded unworkable methods, carefully thought things through and have a confidence in their method because they can usually demonstrate its superiority. If you ever work with a really good engineer, don’t tell them what they can and can’t do. They just need the parameters and they’ll usually come up with the best solution to the problem. Ignore their opinion at your peril.

Naturally, I pretended I didn’t hear their remarks and rented a nice little electric ‘demolition hammer’ for $35 a day. The concrete flew, things were shaken off the shelf and I had a ball!

My wife is a gentle creature and eschewed the violence of my method for the hand one. She gave it up quickly in the face of her agonizingly slow progress with hammer, chisel and wrecking bar. Lest you think I am a wife abuser, let me say that the floor re-do was her idea and she declined the offer of using the hammer.

I thought about all this while admitting the patient late that night. There was still much wasted time even in this rare case of a quick 30 minute admit. Yet the usual frustrations surfaced: I had to re-write the patients medications twice: in the workup and on the Doctor’s order form to continue the patients current medications. This was a total of 3 people writing the same thing four times.

Lots of time wasted. More importantly, there is much talk these days about medical errors being the 8th leading cause of death in the US. Not a surprise to an engineer. There were four opportunities for a medication error to be propagated with the above patient. More if you count the transcription by the pharmacist.

These problems are well known in medicine. So is the solution. There have been conclusive studies in one of the most major medical journals (JAMA) that electronic ordering of medications cuts down on errors as much as 50%.

So where is my medical jack hammer? Where was my medical jack hammer in medical school? Why weren’t the medications already embedded into the electronic workup that I should have been doing? It should have merely required a quick check with the patients medication bottles or a quick talk with the patient without the laborious write out. Electronic medical records have been attempted for decades. For Pete’s sake, where is my jack hammer?

It is lying at the bottom of the ocean. It is there because of the difficulties of getting to it and how much software engineering there is to be done in medicine. But even the most basic things like medication writing and medical records are not readily available. Sure there are services for electronic prescription writing cropping up. They show promise, but none appear to have much chance of becoming universal. Services like these are all too busy carving out their turf. Sure, there are companies that will sell you an electronic medical record at a steep price, frequently with poor quality. But what if you change jobs? Move? Rotate? Graduate? Start over. With all the painful re-learning and inherent risks to patients that this entails.

The answer to all this, of course, is freedom. As in Free and open source (follow the links to read about what these are) software holds the greatest promise to liberate medicine from the tyrannies of software incompatability, poor quality and errors in medicine.

People say things like: ‘But, it would be too hard. Where’s the profit motive? Doctor’s will never change. Medicine is too complicated. You can’t do that.’

Did you say can’t? Too late, it is already being done. The real question is when will medicine embrace it.

2netFX and Zapex Team up to Provide Distance Learning Tech

San Jose, CA2netFX, a leading provider of streaming solutions for intranet and broadband Internet media delivery, and Zapex Technologies, Inc. an industry leader of MPEG-2 compression products, have formed an alliance to design and deliver innovative hardware and software broadcast solutions to be used in the IP distance learning market. This HDTV over IP technology is currently under consideration by many for distance learning and diagnosis in the medical market. Surgical procedures via HDTV have the resolution to show the minute detail as well as the ability to be used in locations where there is no trained personnel available. Ultrasound results and other diagnosis methods can be sent to any location on earth via satellite or terrestrial means for a concise diagnosis. It is the only company that offers multicast HDTV over IP that is available now as well as via the Linux platform.

The new solution for Linux-based platform users will be demonstrated at the Streaming Media West show in San Jose, California from December 12-14. The companies will be sharing space in booth #630, displaying several broadcast options.

“This alliance enhances the vision of both companies in bringing intranet broadcast capabilities to any PC-based enterprise,” comments 2netFX vice president of marketing William Reed. “It provides both companies with a solid foundation for penetration into the IP market. Users now have the capability to set up full-motion, full-screen, virtual-television broadcasting stations on IP networks using solutions deriving from our collaborative efforts.”

The first system offered by the alliance is a Linux-based server solution, providing users a viable means to stream broadcast-quality transmissions. It includes 2netFX’s StreamRider client and ThunderCast/IP server software and Zapex’s ZL-330 encoder with Dolby´┐Ż digital audio and MPEG-2 video. It is the first encoder of its type to achieve Dolby certification for Linux operating systems, and it eliminates inherent lip-sync issues by providing Transport Stream multiplexing within the Zapex encoder. “Together, these products provide a low-cost, high quality, real-time broadcast solution in an easy, ready-to-use package,” remarked Reed.

The ZL-330 produces high quality video images at low bit rates. “The resulting low-bandwidth video stream from the ZL-330 permits an unlimited number of users to access a multicast video,” says Gary Marsh, Zapex vice president of sales and marketing. “Coupled with the 2netFX software, PC users can interactively select which programming they wish to view, then capture and store the video locally. Effectively, customers can select their own viewing schedules, depending on application.”

About 2netFX

2netFX ( is a leading provider of streaming solutions for intranet and broadband Internet media delivery. Founded in 1996, 2netFX was the first to offer multicast streaming of HDTV over ordinary networks, advanced client player customization and integration, and fully featured media server solutions with the lowest latency in the industry.

2netFX’s Streaming Media Application (SAM) server and SAM receiver provide complete hardware/software turnkey solutions for delivering and receiving MPEG-1, 2,4,H.263, and HDTV streams from 28Kbps to 25Mbps via satellite, ATM, LAN/WAN, xDSL, cable modem, or dial up.

Designed for a variety of applications, including distance learning, corporate communications, government, education, and the military, 2netFX products are currently bundled by many leading digital video companies and in use at leading organizations including Sprint, Panasonic, Wal-mart, MCI Worldcom, Hughes Networks, NASA, GlobeCast/France Telecom, Walt Disney Studios, Lucent, Echo Star and others.

About Zapex

Zapex Technologies Inc., a company of Brother International, and a leader in compression technology, designs and manufactures MPEG encoding systems for PC platforms, providing digital video and audio solutions for DVD, networking, broadband and storage applications.

The company’s U.S. headquarters is located at 2432 Charleston Road, Mountain View, Calif., 94043. Telephone is 650 930-1300. Fax is 650 930-1399. Web address is
-30 —

2netFX Contact: William Reed, Vice President, Marketing (408) 232-1691 breed@2netFX

Carol Warren, Account Manager
Public Communications Worldwide
(562) 944-4626

All products/services and trademarks mentioned in this release are the properties of their respective companies. Products and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Copyright 2000 2netFX. All rights reserved. (*Media NOW!, Inc. dba 2netFX)

Wired: Med Records Get Cue From Napster

Wired is reporting on CareScience Co.’s plans to use Napster-like peer to peer networking to share medical records among health care workers. The article states that ‘…at least 50,000 deaths occur each year due to medical errors that
are often linked to physicians not having immediate access to information that they desperately need to care for their patients…CareScience aims to change those statistics using Napster-like peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to give medical personnel easy
access to crucial health-related data…’

ELT: Inpharmatica Installs 1,100 Processor Linux Protein Analyzer

Enterprise Linux Today is reporting on Inpharmatica a European company that does genome and protein research to find new drugs. The article states that the company has installed a 1,100 processor Linux system to do computerized analysis. ‘…This substantial upgrade propels Inpharmatica into an even stronger position in the provision of up-to-date, comprehensive and, above all, useful
information on the human proteome…’