Amazon Cloud Player [Music] – Initial Impression

I’ve been using Google Music to listen to and store all my music for a while now. The reason I’ve been using it is obvious, i.e. it’s well integrated with all my Android devices; of which I have four. It’s fairly easy to use. I dump music on any of my computers and Google kindly syncs it to my other devices in addition to the cloud. It offers all the essentials including offline listening, which I use while traveling.

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Portable storage media, the scourge of patient privacy

LA Times: “Altogether, 16,288 patients’ information was taken from the home of a physician whose house was burglarized on Sept. 6, according to the UCLA Health System.

The data were on the physician’s external hard drive, officials said. Though the hard drive was encrypted, a piece of paper with the password was nearby and is also missing. The physician notified UCLA the next day and officials began identifying patients affected.”

I am continuously amazed at the number of security breaches involving patient healthcare information caused by careless use of portable storage media like external hard drives, flash drives, and even laptop hard drives. Patient information should never be stored or transported this way. I believe that utilizing cloud computing with simple browser access is a much better solution. 

What makes this particular incident so bad is the cause; reckless behavior by a physician. This wasn’t UCLA’s fault, per se. Sure, the medical center must accept a share of the responsibility, the lion’s share of the blame falls in the lap of the physician. Not only did the physician have sensitive patient information on an external hard drive, but was dumb enough to have the password to access the drive on a piece of paper next to it. Kind of defeats the purpose of encryption and passwords, doesn’t it.

For an eye-opening look at the magnitude of data loss and security breaches drop by DataLossDB.org sometime. It’s scary stuff.

SugarSync, an easy way to share large files across the net

It’s not uncommon for me to find myself with the need to get a large file onto someone else’s machine. The problem is that I’ve moved away from many of the more traditional ways of moving files back and forth. I try to carry a flash drive with me, but someone always needs one and I end up giving them away. I don’t have a CD-RW on either of my travel machines. I don’t carry an external drive. And my corporate email limits email attachments to 10MB, which really isn’t that big these days.

Anyway, I found myself in a situation where I needed to move several large files and had no easy way to do it. Fortunately I use SuargarSync, which is capable of quickly and easily sharing files.

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Chrome OS for healthcare? At least someone thinks so

Medgadget: “Yet on the whole, playing with the CR-48 is like peeking into the future – the far, far away future. And though it’s hard to fill in all the details now, there’s a lot of potential for Chrome OS in the world of medicine.” – The author does a great job of covering why the Chrome OS, and a CR-48 like device, would be good for healthcare. Reasons include disposability in which “the ultimate machine for the medical world is the one in which the doctor, nurse, patient, etc, cares the least about if it’s dropped, lost, or broken”; interchangeability by allowing any user to simply log into any CR-48 and have their information instantly available; security; and hardware customizability. It’s a refreshing change to see someone thinking outside the box when it comes to computing in healthcare.
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Don’t dismiss the potential of Chrome OS just yet

The Cr-48 is Google’s first notebook sporting their Chrome OS. While the hardware is nice, it’s really the operating system and the concept that’s raising eyebrows and generating interest. The operating system is designed to make optimal use of “the web”. The features of Chrome OS include instant on, fast load times, cloud storage and recover, etc. A full list of features can be found at the Google Chrome OS website.

I’ve read several reviews of the Cr-48 and for the most part users haven’t been all that impressed. The reviews interest me because I don’t believe the people using these machines get it. First and foremost, the Cr-48 is clearly a work in progress as is Chrome OS. Second, the idea of an internet based, fully cloud enabled system is ideal for creating a hardware agnostic future. It appears to me that Google is testing the waters and collecting data for a future run at something bigger. Do you really doubt Google will continue to develop a better cloud concept for an operating system? It would be a mistake to do so.

I remember similar thoughts from the so called experts when the Android OS rolled out, and now it’s slowly becoming the most prominent operating system for mobile devices. I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future.
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A new laptop plus the cloud equals bliss

I recently started using a new Dell Latitude e6510 for all my computing needs. It’s a significant upgrade from my old Dell Latitude 520 laptop, which was showing its age. The new e6510 has an Intel Core-i7 processor, a backlit keyboard, 128 GB solid state hard drive, 4GB of RAM, a beautiful 15.6” wide screen display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, Windows 7 Professional and so on. It’s also the size of a small sports car, which has me second guessing my choice of machine. I broke my own rule for selecting a laptop, i.e. keep it portable. I actually prefer laptops with 12″ – 14″ displays. I don’t know what I was thinking. Kind of like a moth drawn to light – “Look! It’s so bright and shiny”.

Anyway, it’s always a headache setting up a new laptop as most people like me have to transfer gigabytes worth of data from the old machine to the new one. Not this time.
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The cloud still slow to gain acceptance in healthcare

There’s an interesting article at InformationWeek about healthcare and the cloud. The article talks a little bit about the concerns surrounding security in the cloud and what I believe is an undeserved fear of using cloud based services and storage for healthcare information.

In the article a pediatrician that is also director of clinical informatics for Atrius Health is quoted as saying “At the moment I’m not convinced that there’s a secure enough place in the cloud or that the functionality exists for us to do everything that we need to do in the cloud. The cloud allows for a tremendous amount of interconnectivity between computers because it’s using data storage that’s free amongst different networks and I wouldn’t want healthcare information being scattered in a way that I couldn’t protect it appropriately.” I’m not sure I understand the perceived insecurity of the cloud as the existing infrastructure for storing patient information in healthcare is, by design, insecure.
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My first “cloud” letdown

The cloud punched me in the nose recently and it’s still a litter tender. I’m a huge proponent of cloud based solutions from simple things like online document collaboration and storage to web-based enterprise SaaS solutions, and I have been slowly migrating my digital life away from the desktop toward the cloud. The cloud and I have been very happy together for well over a year now, but we had out first argument last week and I lost. It’s not serious enough to consider divorce, but it was a wake up call to re-evaluate the relationship.

I use both Live Mesh from Microsoft and Dropbox to manage and synchronize documents on multiple computers. The combination has worked very well for me. I use both applications because I like to try new things; Live Mesh came first followed by Dropbox at the recommendation of my brother.
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