Quicksilva Newsletter

August 2009

Welcome to Quicksilva's monthly newsletter with thoughts from Quicksilva staff.

Connecting for Health v who?

There has been much chattering in the press over the last couple of weeks (yes, I have stuck my nose in, but I was only trying to help…) about the release of the Independent Review of the NHS and Social Care by Dr Glyn Hayes and the Conservative take on it. Of particular interest to those speculating is the suggestion that central architecture would be dismantled.

Most are asking what constitutes the central architecture?...do they mean the Spine?...is it CFH itself?

My take on the proposal, which has been shared with anyone who might show a glimmer of interest, is that the Spine is far too critical in terms of the services that it supports to dismantle it – Electronic Prescriptions, Choose and Book, Personal Demographics, all useful stuff. There is also the cost to consider…no, not the money that has already been spent to deliver a powerful service-in-waiting which would be wasted as a result, but the potential cost of cancelling the contracts that the Spine is delivered through.

Reports say that Fujitsu is seeking £700m from the Department of Health following the termination of its contract for Local Service Provision….what price the cancellation of the Spine?

Gayna

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Quicksilva's Spinal Tap  

Quicksilva's Spinal Tap® Message Broker Provides the Backbone

Quicksilva is delighted to have its first customer, a pharmacy software provider, through NHS Development Compliance and with live prescriptions passing through our new Spinal Tap® Version 2 broker compatible with the new NHS Spine EPS Release 2. The system has been operational since last month and it is anticipated that the service will roll-out to selected pilot pharmacies in the next few weeks.

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Quicksilva football  

Happy Mind / Healthy Body at Quicksilva

The secret to our success for delivering software that “wows” our client is to have a happy and healthy team - happy mind and a healthy body. At Quicksilva, we have a number of people that participate and in many cases excel in a variety of sports, making it an ideal place to keep fit and get a good "work life weave". With a high number of sporty individuals, not only does it bring out the competitive spirit within the company, it’s what brings our diverse team together.

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In the News...

In the News
Addicted to social networking  

How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer

From Daily Mail Online

Social networking sites such as Facebook could raise your risk of serious health problems by reducing levels of face-to-face contact, a doctor claims.

Emailing people rather than meeting up with them may have wide-ranging biological effects, said psychologist Dr Aric Sigman.

Quicksilva thoughts...

Not sure whether it is my age but I am becoming increasingly annoyed by this type of misleading headline.. It entices the reader into the article by giving the impression that using Facebook has some link to an increased cancer risk.

The article is really about why staying at home and interacting with people in a virtual sense might have a detrimental effect on our genes. It claims that increased isolation could alter the way our genes work and even impair mental performance. Apparently we continue to use such applications at our peril so do not stay at home, get back on the streets, meet face to face and get those genes interacting!

Technology has certainly given us the ability to choose how, when and where we communicate with people and I am all for it.

I can already see next week’s misleading headline as I sit alone at my desk:

"Using Facebook reduces your risk of catching swine flu" ?

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Communications  

Tories plan health record giveaway

From The Register

The Tories are today releasing more details of their plan to get Google and Microsoft involved in holding medical records.

Quicksilva thoughts...

Whilst the national NHS IT strategy has been beset by setbacks and delays, there's no guarantee that changing to a strategy of local systems that are somehow all to be interoperable (note that there's no explanation of exactly how that might work!) will fare any better.

However, the stated goal - of patient records being more visible and under the control of the patient and their GP, rather than in one monolithic database - is to be lauded.

Government has never shown itself to be the most reliable when it comes to safeguarding our private data but then are Microsoft or Google any more trustworthy, given the marketing potential of healthcare records to private enterprise? The next few years will be interesting and busy for NHS IT, that much is certain.

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Internet Explorer  

Microsoft backs long life for IE6

From BBC News

Microsoft has underlined support for its Internet Explorer 6 web browser, despite acknowledging its flaws.

The software giant said it would support IE6 until 2014 - four years beyond the original deadline.

Quicksilva thoughts...

Backwards compatibility is often a conversation in many a development project; arguments can often be heard along the lines of "just tell them to upgrade", or "most people aren't using that anyway" but those very often miss the point. As developers, we create solutions for the real-world and in the real world many users just don't upgrade to the latest and greatest version of a product each time an update is released. For many people they stick with what they know because what they know works well enough for them.

The idea that if your application is not backwards compatible it won't really matter as "almost no one uses that these days" can often lead down a road of assumptions and missed opportunities. True though it may be that only a minority of users may be using an old version of software, word of mouth spreads faster these days than ever before and if your application doesn’t work for them you can bet that almost everyone they know will be informed of this fact through the magic of various social networks.

When it comes to backwards compatibility, not worrying about it is bad for you, your users and your business.

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Circuit board on fire  

This website will self-destruct...

From BBC News

Emails, Facebook messages, and Google Docs can all be set to disappear into thin air by using new software developed by the University of Washington and called, appropriately enough, Vanish.

Quicksilva thoughts...

Data privacy has been a hot topic of late and it is interesting to see how data protection methods are evolving in attempts to keep up with the latest developments in technology. Cloud computing and online data storage offer incredible opportunities but it is good to see that people are already considering the possible pit falls this could pose to personal data loss or theft.

The complexity of controlling personal data, forcing the innovation of seemingly complex solutions like ‘Vanish’, suggests to me that the cloud may not be the best place to keep data you wish to protect in the first place. It is interesting to see the concept of cloud computing itself has been used to solve a possible problem it creates.

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Quantum computers  

Ditching binary will make quantum computers more powerful

From New Scientist

Memo to the developers of superfast quantum computers: give up on the familiar 1s-and-0s binary system used in conventional computers. By switching to a novel five-state system, you will find it easier to build the staggeringly powerful machines.

Quicksilva thoughts...

There are 10 types of people - those who understand binary and those who don't.

Move over binary, there is a new challenger.

Moore's Law suggests that the number of transistors on a chip will double roughly every 2 years, with geometrical scaling resulting in the wiring and transistors becoming smaller, eventually approaching the molecular scale. Obstacles like enormous heat build up and the cost of the physical manufacturing have spawned the development of regular structures of high density that compute with quantum states.

Quantum computers promise to provide untold processing and number crunching capabilities, while the explanation for this remains impossible for the majority of us to understand. Current computing uses Boolean logic, and the 'bit'. In quantum computers this is a 'quantum bit' (or 'qubit') but limits the number of possible values to 2, per bit. Imagine using 5 simultaneous states of information in parallel calculations... welcome to the world of 'qudits'.

How do you program a quantum computer? Could a quantum computer improve its own design making it recursively better and more intelligent? Is it possible that we reach a technological singularity described by Vernor Vinges as "the drastic change in society that would occur following an intelligence explosion."?

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Caption Competition

Quicksilva Caption Competition 17

How to enter

Email captions to captions@qxlva.com

 

Deadline: 24th September 2009.

We will include our favourite(s) in next month's newsletter!

 

Our favourite from last month

Last Month's Caption Competition
As a Paperless Office is so hard to achieve - what about Officeless Paper?
"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." - George S. Patton
Quicksilva

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