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Thursday, January 31, 2008

A software that can diagnose diseases!

The Union Health Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss’ plans to make rural postings compulsory for the MBBS students has been dismissed as unworkable by many. But here is an alternative on offer — a ‘clinical decision support software’ that even minimally trained health workers in remote rural areas can apparently deploy to make ‘intelligent’ diagnosis based on symptoms keyed in by the user.


“We have tested NxOpinion for accuracy, usability and adaptability to local conditions in trials across 200 patients at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad. The diagnosis made by the software virtually matched that of fully-qualified physicians. This conforms to the diagnostic accuracy rate of 94 per cent that we have reported across patient encounters in different world locations,” claimed Dr Joel C. Robertson, creator of the software and CEO of the Michigan-based Robertson Technologies.

“We are currently talking to the Central as well as various State Governments about the feasibility of adopting NxOpinion, including its local language versions, under the National Rural Health Programme,” Dr Robertson told Business Line. The software, built on a standard Microsoft.Net platform, can be loaded on to any notebook or desktop computer and run locally without requiring Internet access.

Incorporating a proprietary ‘Bayes theory-derived probabilistic inference engine’ that scans a medical knowledgebase of over 1,000 disease profiles, the NxOpinion software offers likely diagnosis and best treatment options based on the age, sex, general health profile and symptoms displayed by the patient.

Moreover, the technology platform is claimed to be scalable; the disease prevalence data can be changed for more accurate diagnosis by region.


“The software is basically designed to mimic skilled clinical reasoning. Suppose a 45-year-old man complains of chest pain, it then asks him to specify the quality of pain (whether dull or intense; what position or activity aggravates or lessen the pain) and further prompts the health worker to check for pulse rate, blood pressure and cold or sweaty skin. If all these are in the affirmative, then the software would indicate, say 53.70 per cent probability of myocardial infarction. In case, the onset of pain is sudden and radiating to the neck, chest and shoulders, the probability rises to 98.62 per cent or so,” Dr Robertson informed.

But will such a tool really pass muster and gain acceptance with the medical fraternity? “No, we cannot support it. There is no substitute to a doctor, who alone has the knowledge and experience to make proper diagnosis. Tools of this kind will be liable to misuse by the thousands of quacks who illegally dispense treatment,” said Dr M. Abbas, National President, Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Dr Robertson, on his part, clarified that NxOpinion is not a freely marketable product and will be licensed only to health workers specifically approved by the Government. This includes accredited social health activists and informal rural practitioners who would act as an interface between the village community and the public health system.

Dr Abbas, however, maintained that the doctor’s role cannot be replaced by paramedics and neither can there be a simple technology quick fixes for rural healthcare problems. The Government has to provide basic facilities to enable doctors to function in rural areas, he added.

- The Hindu Business Line

Clean Tech, Free Tech

Open source software has forced industry leaders to be less possessive about their intellectual property

Companies usually guard their patents as if they were crown jewels. But we have already seen some change in the digital world, where open source software has forced industry leaders to be less possessive about their intellectual property.

Earlier this month, IBM Corp., Nokia Oyj and Sony Corp. collectively gave away 31 patents to a project called Eco-Patent Commons, a platform where companies share intellectual property that they believe will help combat pollution and save energy. Nokia, for instance, has given away the rights on a technology that will use old phones to make new electronic gizmos such as calculators. IBM has gifted 27 of the 31 patents that the commons now has.

Patents are an incentive for companies to spend on research. But they effectively grant monopoly rights. They sit uncomfortably with the belief in free markets. This new initiative could be a way out of the current deadlock.

- mint

Indian IT Services Market To Grow To Usd10 Bn By '11

As user organisations continue to grapple with challenges of higher attrition rate in internal IT departments, the Indian IT services market is pegged to grow to USD 10.73 billion by 2011 at a five year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2 per cent, according to Gartner Inc, leading IT research and advisory company.

Key factors driving this growth are agility, growth, cost takeout and innovation. But a factor which is acting as a prime impetus for companies to consider external service providers (ESPs) is the continuous turnover rates of key IT staff in range of 15-20 per cent, said the Gartner study.

Growth of the IT services market is primarily being driven by economic growth, high growth among the small and midsize businesses, government projects and increased customer focus. Many IT service providers, MNCs and domestic have now recognised this potential and developed strategies exclusively for the domestic market, said Arup Roy, senior research analyst, Gartner.

"Many IT organisations are planning to spin off their IT organisations into an independent entity to capture the growing opportunities", added Roy. The market segments that are expected to witness strongest growth are consulting, IT management and business process management (BPM) services with five year CAGRs of 28.1, 23.8 and 27.1 percent respectively.

Consulting revenue, although coming from a small base, grew 30.1 percent to USD 340 million in 2006 compared to 2005. IT management revenue grew 27.3 per cent from 2005 to USD 549 million in 2006.

Top three vendors IBM, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro Infotech together accounted for 26.1 per cent of IT services vendor market share in 2006.

IBM surpassed TCS to become the top vendor, taking an 11.2 per cent market share. TCS and Wipro occupied the second and third positions with 10.9 and 4.1 per cent market shares respectively, the study said.

However, the Indian IT services market is still fragmented, with the majority of the market being services by smaller local players that account for close to 40 per cent of the IT services market.

- The Times of India Online

Monday, January 28, 2008

Puma Commercials - 'Ants,' 'Butterflies,' 'Chimp'

The first three spots of the Puma 'New Stuff' campaign: 'Ants,' 'Butterflies' and 'Chimp.' Directed by Andrew Zuckerman, edited by Dave Herman via Version 2. Music by Christopher Tin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Apple gets IBM mail

Apple gets IBM mail IBM plans a formal announcement of the Lotus Notes e-mail package for Apple's portable devices at its Lotusphere conference in Orlando, next week.

The software, which requires use of IBM's Domino e-mail server programme, will be free for users who already have a Lotus Web-access license and start at $39 per year for new users.

IBM also plans to release Lotus Notes and the free Lotus Symphony “productivity” package -- which includes documents, spreadsheets and other Microsoft Office-like software -- for Apple's Macintosh computers.

With these moves, IBM is trying to find more avenues for its software and take advantage of Apple's natural affinity for Microsoft alternatives.

The iPhone already can connect users to Web-based e-mail services and to corporate e-mail sent over Microsoft's Exchange e-mail platform, though businesses rarely enable the setting that makes it possible.

If IBM, which counts 135 million Lotus users worldwide, can get companies to let their employees check Lotus e-mail on iPhones, the partnership could make Apple's gadget more competitive with Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry and other business-targeted smart phones.

IBM and Apple, competitors in the early years of the PC market, traditionally have not worked closely together but now appreciate that “we have a lot in common,” IBM spokesman Mike Azzi said. “We're going to cross-pollinate.”

One reason for the distance between the two companies is the small overlap between Mac users and the big corporate customers that commonly buy products from IBM.

Now, Apple hardware has become a broader platform with the popularity of the iPhone and Web-enabled iPod Touch devices.

However, Apple has delayed fully opening the devices to third-party applications; a “software developers' kit” to enable that isn't due until next month. Apple and IBM have been working together on their own.

- The Economic Times Online

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Life is a Random Draw

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, epitomizes what I believe about life. It is a random draw. Recently I came across a commencement speech he gave at Stanford University. There is a connection between Steve — you would not believe this one — and Hare Krishna!

I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Go figure the video here >>

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Choosing Your Camera


I get this question in my messages/emails everyday so I thought I'd write a news article to get it out there for you! That way my emails don't go unanswered either.

QUESTION - What is the best camera to buy?

ANSWER - There is no 'best' camera out there, a camera is suited to what YOU want. Think about it, if you old school and want a vintage look to your photographs, then the best result for the style you want would be a film camera, possibly a Holga / Polaroid.
If you are a budding fashion/portrait/landscape photographer, then you'd go for a higher end digital photographer, unless you want to go back to photography roots and use film for this.
On the other hand, if you're a documentary photographer you could use digital or film. If you're a budding Henri Cartier-Bresson, you might be using film exclusively, to achieve that very raw film look.
If you're a professional photographer then you need something that matches your job, most agencies will look for DIGITAL, because it's standard for magazines and you get the job done quicker, it's also vital because of all the editing techniques you can do digitally. You will also need to consider the amount of megapixels it has, from my experience, most clients/agencies will be looking for something 8 mpx +, stock agency websites look for 12 mpx +

Choosing your perfect camera will involve a bit of research, this is quite daunting when you're first starting out. I remember the first time I laid my eyes on the millions of cameras staring out of me from the glass case at a local camera store, scrolling through millions of camera websites online. I honestly didn't have a clue, and for most of you reading this (or I hope you are!) you'll be in the same position.

1. First, it's the big question - DIGITAL or FILM.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages -

DIGITAL Advantages
- Can be used automatically (even though this isn't the best way to start)
- Economical, you can print your own prints through a basic photo printer and you can get very cheap photographs at your local camera shop/lab or online shops.
- Memory card can be used and emptied over and over again, without the need of buying film
- Very easy to process, your digital darkroom is accessible at the click of a button!
- Most cameras have an LCD screen so you can view your photo, and playback the ones you've took. This is easier to proof your photos so you can get rid of the ones you don't like immediately.

FILM Advantages
- More hands on meaning you value your work more, you have created it from capturing to printing
- 35mm films range from 8 megapixel up to 18 megapixels
- Better for large prints - for detail
- You can easily proove you are the owner, because you have orginal prints and negatives (this is important in copyright cases, where digital would be much harder to recognise)

DIGITAL Disadvantages
- Digital files can easily be deleted (computer problems, memory stick errors etc)
- You need to spend quite a bit of money to get a quality camera (around 8mpx)

FILM Disadvantages
- Takes a long time to process (capturing an image to the printing process takes about a day)
- You can easily loose your pictures (through accidently letting light into the film, putting the film incorrectly on the spindle, not mixing the right chemicals)
- You cannot view your images until they have been processed
- Film is costly. Nowadays film and processing equipment is very expensive. Due to the demand of digital cameras in the industry there is no need for film, so producers raise the costs of the equipment.


A pixel is a single point in a graphic image. Every 1 megapixel means '1 million' pixels.

If you've chosen to go for a digital camera, you need to understand that the higher the megapixels, the higher the resolution. Unlike film, you need to get a camera that states what megapixel it is.

If it's likely you will only be shooting family snaps and printing 4x6 to 8x10 prints, you obviously have no need for a better camera, for you I would recommend anything 5 megapixel upwards.

If you're an amateur or semi-pro and it's likely you will be shooting portraits / art photography / landscapes or documentary, you're megapixel must be much higher. I would recommend anything 7 upwards.

if you're a professional, and you're need for resolution is bigger (for instance, you're on an agency and you're working for bigger clients who demand high res) you will need something about 10 mpx over.


SLR (Single Lens Reflex) - an interchangeable lens camera, is better for those that want to become professional. You *will* need to change your lenses to suit your need.
You will also be able to manually focus, and you get much more control over the overall focus.

COMPACT - Even though compact cameras come with a good amount of megapixel nowadays AND claim they give you full manual control, it's mostly likely that they will not give you as much control as an SLR.
A compact camera is perfect for snapshots and practice.
Please note you cannot change lenses with this camera.


This is an important one and probably one of the most confusing to a first time buyer. There's Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Minolta, Polaroid, Olympus & Casio - just to name a few!
My answer would be a little bit biased and lean towards the Canon area, just because I find them easier to use and I've had Canons for two years now.
However.. the brand must be entirely what you feel comfortable with.

There has been a debate for years between Canon & Nikon, both are very good makes and probably the two top end brands. Most professionals use eiter one of these. So if you're looking to go pro, you're best bet is Canon or Nikon.
Smaller end brands are best suited for amateurs or for snapshots.

To help you, I've found to very good sites that review the cameras (below)


There are a few places to purchase your camera, but you should do research before jumping into the deep end..

-> UK
I'd suggest Jessops or Jacobs. There is also warehouse websites which I highly recommend, Warehouseexpress is excellent value.
You'll also find they are in electrical stores such as
Currys or places such as Argos. However, electrical stores will not store higher end DSLRs.

-> US/Canada
I'd suggest Target or CircuitCity
or in Canada
Camera Canada or Best Buy

-> Other Countries You'll find most of the .com websites will ship to your country.

-> Online Stores
For a great deal, you're best bet is to buy your camera online.
Here are some trustworthy online sites that I recommend -
*Digital Rev
*Pixmania UK

To compare prices of digital cameras online, I recommend these websites -

-lara (
larafairie) on DA
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