2006-10-31 00:00:00

Happy Pets Equal Happy Homes

The following article was writting by Andrea Glane of Andrea’s Pet Services, www.andreaspetservices.com. I had the pleasure of her join me during a trip to the dog park with my dogs, Ranger and Wrigley. I was very impressed with her passion for pets and her depth of knowledge.

Happy Pets Equal Happy Homes

In order to have a well behaved happy dog, there are some basic needs that must be met. Everydog requires exercise, mental stimulation, nutrition, and attention.

When talking about exercise, I mean a good hour of aerobic exercise. Placing the dog in the backyard to entertain himself is not a good definition of aerobic exercise. Yet, every dog is different. Some older/mellow dogs benefit from a long walk in the neighborhood or playing fetch in the backyard. Other more active dogs require a long hike in the woods, running, or biking with their owner. No matter what kind of dog you have, try to get their heart rate up. If they cannot get daily aerobic exercise, then some type of exercise is better that none. Keep in mind, ?A tired dog is a good dog.?

Mental stimulation can come in different forms. Have your dog work for what they want. Add some basic obedience commands to their daily routine. (Yes, your dog will benefit from a routine.) Ask them to sit before you throw the ball, give them their dinner, or go for a walk. Incorporate mini training sessions into their day; teach them something new or reinforce what they already know. Interactive toys are a great way for them to exercise their minds without demanding more time from you.

Nutrition is a difficult subject because everyone has a different opinion on what is the ?perfect? diet for dogs. Just remember to consider their age, body type, and lifestyle. No matter what you decide to feed your pet, make sure you are watching their calorie intake. If your pet is over weight and you want to give them treats, feed them carrots. Please do not to feed your pet ?people? food. They won?t beg for it if they have never had it.

I don?t think that I need to remind anyone about giving attention to their pets. But before you begin petting your dog, ask yourself, ?Do I want to be massaged every minute, of everyday, everywhere I go?? And remember that attention does not replace exercise or mental stimulation.

People and pets are very similar when referring to basic needs. Consider your own needs and how they affect you and it will be easy to recall your pet needs.

Filed under: — @ 2006-10-31 00:00:00
2006-10-28 00:00:00

Advice to NIH Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) participants

The National Institute of Health Commercialization Program (NIH-CAP), designed to assist promising life science companies bring their technologies to market, is a nation wide program funded by NIH and managed and executed by Larta. The Larta Institute invited me to talk to this season’s group about my thoughts on Healthcare IT, Media, and Training. Here’s what I told them.

Healthcare Industry Fallacies

I started with a brief discussion about how selling to the healthcare community is very hard but not for the reasons they might think. I mentioned that:

  • Healthcare folks are neither technically challenged nor simple techno-phobes. Because they are in the business of saving lives and improving health, they care about technologies that help them achieve their mission.
  • Most product decisions are no longer made by clinical folks alone, CIOs are fully involved. Don’t try to sell just to the clinical folks — make sure the IT side is engaged and on your side.
  • Complex, full-featured, products are not easier to sell than simple, stand alone tools that have the capability of interoperating with other solutions are much easier to sell. Software as a service is a good approach.
  • Hospitals will not buy unless one proves value. This seems obvious but most startups think that because they think something is important, their customers will just agree.
  • Selling into doctors offices is not easy. There were a few startups looking to sell to individual physicians’ offices. I told them selling to to your first dozen physicians is pretty easy since we all know doctors. Just be careful, though, since selling to the next dozen and beyond is where companies fall.

Conducting Market Research

Lots of startups don’t do basic market research so I suggested the following approach:

  • Find the right search terms for your industry or product. Don???t be esoteric. Because startups will only be found through word of mouth or on the Internet, don’t choose terms to describe yourself that no one else understands. Selling to hospitals is not about creativity, it’s about value. If the customer doesn’t understand what you’re selling give up now.
  • Use competitive intelligence to locate your competitors and existing firms. The easiest way is to use Internet search. Once you know your competitors, call them up and ask them about client references Call up their clients and talk to them about their products and services and what can be improved.

How Tech can help Healthcare today (what areas are good to get into)

  • Fraud detection and improved billing (revenue cycle management)
  • Offshoring. Inshoring.
  • Convergence of healthcare IT and clinical engineering.
  • Virtual clinicians in radiology and ICU monitoring.
  • Data interoperability for medical records.

What types of Business Models to Consider

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) and subscription model  — best model for startups with something they can maintain in their own data centers
  • Consulting and Solutions model – when you can provide packaged help
  • Licensed model – when privacy or complexity requires solutions to be installed in house
  • Freemium model (and open source)

Some Success Criteria

  • Make sure your company and its value is easy to explain
  • Make sure your value is defendable and differentiated (but without being esoteric)
  • Make sure that you have ability to attract partners and can either create or be part of an ecosystem
  • Ensure that you have word of mouth opportunity
  • Have scaleable staff and systems
  • Have a scaleable product ??? build once, sell many times
  • Have an uncomplicated pricing and deployment model
  • Be very focused — you can’t “solve healthcare” but you can solve very specific problems
  • Try to own the relationship with and information about customers — don’t rely on partners that won’t give you access to customers
    Filed under: — @ 2006-10-28 00:00:00
    2006-10-28 00:00:00

    Technical leadership advice

    Many of my younger colleagues often ask about what some of the most important leadership aspects are for technical managers like team leads or architects. There are no hard and fast rules but here are some things I’ve learned over the years:

    • Make Decisions. This is one of the most important aspects of leadership — just making a decision and not analyzing for weeks or months. No amount of evidence or information will ever “be enough” and at some point you’ll need to make a decision. Your team can see if you are timid or if you take risks. Leadership is about decision making and if your decision making skills or risk taking ability are limited, don’t bother trying to lead. I’ve seen many architects and so-called “team leads” that try to get their bosses to make their decisions for them so they don’t get in trouble for making “the wrong ones”. Big mistake.
    • Lead by Example. Leadership is about direction and if you want to lead, you’ll need to make sure you take charge and establish that you know where you want to go. But, be prepared to demonstrate that you do what you ask your team to do. If you ask everyone else to do something but don’t do it yourself, your team will lose respect.
    • Be transparent. You work with bright people and although they may not be your equals in experience or knowledge, they will know when you are making decisions based on whim or reason. If you can’t explain your decisions in a way that your team can comprehend then you’re not a good leader.
    • Mentor. Good leaders create the next group of leaders, not just bark orders. If you’re not regularly mentoring and training, you’re not doing your job. And, if you mentor well you can let your team make many of the decisions without you and you’ll be able to trust that their decisions will be as good as yours.
    • Be inclusive. You’re the leaderand can make all the decisions and everyone knows that. But, if you’re not including input from everyone you’re losing valuable data and a chance to build a cohesive team.
    Filed under: — @ 2006-10-28 00:00:00
    2006-10-28 00:00:00

    Advice to NIH Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) participants

    The National Institute of Health Commercialization Program (NIH-CAP), designed to assist promising life science companies bring their technologies to market, is a nation wide program funded by NIH and managed and executed by Larta. The Larta Institute invited me to talk to this season’s group about my thoughts on Healthcare IT, Media, and Training. Here’s what I told them.

    Healthcare Industry Fallacies

    I started with a brief discussion about how selling to the healthcare community is very hard but not for the reasons they might think. I mentioned that:

    • Healthcare folks are neither technically challenged nor simple techno-phobes. Because they are in the business of saving lives and improving health, they care about technologies that help them achieve their mission.
    • Most product decisions are no longer made by clinical folks alone, CIOs are fully involved. Don’t try to sell just to the clinical folks — make sure the IT side is engaged and on your side.
    • Complex, full-featured, products are not easier to sell than simple, stand alone tools that have the capability of interoperating with other solutions are much easier to sell. Software as a service is a good approach.
    • Hospitals will not buy unless one proves value. This seems obvious but most startups think that because they think something is important, their customers will just agree.
    • Selling into doctors offices is not easy. There were a few startups looking to sell to individual physicians’ offices. I told them selling to to your first dozen physicians is pretty easy since we all know doctors. Just be careful, though, since selling to the next dozen and beyond is where companies fall.

    Conducting Market Research

    Lots of startups don’t do basic market research so I suggested the following approach:

    • Find the right search terms for your industry or product. Don???t be esoteric. Because startups will only be found through word of mouth or on the Internet, don’t choose terms to describe yourself that no one else understands. Selling to hospitals is not about creativity, it’s about value. If the customer doesn’t understand what you’re selling give up now.
    • Use competitive intelligence to locate your competitors and existing firms. The easiest way is to use Internet search. Once you know your competitors, call them up and ask them about client references Call up their clients and talk to them about their products and services and what can be improved.

    How Tech can help Healthcare today (what areas are good to get into)

    • Fraud detection and improved billing (revenue cycle management)
    • Offshoring. Inshoring.
    • Convergence of healthcare IT and clinical engineering.
    • Virtual clinicians in radiology and ICU monitoring.
    • Data interoperability for medical records.

    What types of Business Models to Consider

    • Software as a Service (SaaS) and subscription model  — best model for startups with something they can maintain in their own data centers
    • Consulting and Solutions model – when you can provide packaged help
    • Licensed model – when privacy or complexity requires solutions to be installed in house
    • Freemium model (and open source)

    Some Success Criteria

    • Make sure your company and its value is easy to explain
    • Make sure your value is defendable and differentiated (but without being esoteric)
    • Make sure that you have ability to attract partners and can either create or be part of an ecosystem
    • Ensure that you have word of mouth opportunity
    • Have scaleable staff and systems
    • Have a scaleable product ??? build once, sell many times
    • Have an uncomplicated pricing and deployment model
    • Be very focused — you can’t “solve healthcare” but you can solve very specific problems
    • Try to own the relationship with and information about customers — don’t rely on partners that won’t give you access to customers
      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-28 00:00:00
      2006-10-28 00:00:00

      Technical leadership advice

      Many of my younger colleagues often ask about what some of the most important leadership aspects are for technical managers like team leads or architects. There are no hard and fast rules but here are some things I’ve learned over the years:

      • Make Decisions. This is one of the most important aspects of leadership — just making a decision and not analyzing for weeks or months. No amount of evidence or information will ever “be enough” and at some point you’ll need to make a decision. Your team can see if you are timid or if you take risks. Leadership is about decision making and if your decision making skills or risk taking ability are limited, don’t bother trying to lead. I’ve seen many architects and so-called “team leads” that try to get their bosses to make their decisions for them so they don’t get in trouble for making “the wrong ones”. Big mistake.
      • Lead by Example. Leadership is about direction and if you want to lead, you’ll need to make sure you take charge and establish that you know where you want to go. But, be prepared to demonstrate that you do what you ask your team to do. If you ask everyone else to do something but don’t do it yourself, your team will lose respect.
      • Be transparent. You work with bright people and although they may not be your equals in experience or knowledge, they will know when you are making decisions based on whim or reason. If you can’t explain your decisions in a way that your team can comprehend then you’re not a good leader.
      • Mentor. Good leaders create the next group of leaders, not just bark orders. If you’re not regularly mentoring and training, you’re not doing your job. And, if you mentor well you can let your team make many of the decisions without you and you’ll be able to trust that their decisions will be as good as yours.
      • Be inclusive. You’re the leader and can make all the decisions and everyone knows that. But, if you’re not including input from everyone you’re losing valuable data and a chance to build a cohesive team.
      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-28 00:00:00
      2006-10-27 00:00:00

      Take the stress out of raking leaves

      RAKING TECHNIQUE

      What seems like a simple act requires preparation and thought about the effect it has on your body. The American Chiropractic Association suggests:

      Warm up

      Do five minutes of low-intensity physical activity such as walking, jogging in place or riding a stationary bicycle. Make large, controlled circular movements with your arms to warm muscles in the upper body.

      Stretch

      ??Stand and prop your heel on a back door step or stool with your knee slightly bent. Bend forward until you feel a slight pull at the back of the thigh. Hold the position for 20 seconds, then relax. Do it once more, then repeat with the other leg.

      ??Stand and put your right hand against a wall. Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks to stretch the quadriceps muscle at the front of your thigh. Hold position for 20 seconds, relax and do it again. Repeat with other leg.

      ??Weave your fingers together above your head with your palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds to stretch the side of your upper body, then reverse. Repeat two or three times.

      ??Hug yourself: Wrap your arms around yourself after letting out your breath and rotate to one side as far as you can go. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then reverse. Repeat two or three times.

      Pay attention to posture

      ??As you rake, stand up straight. Don’t reach so far forward that it causes you to slump.

      ??Use the scissors position. Start with your right foot forward and your left foot back. Reverse foot positions every five to seven minutes to limit repetitive motion injuries.

      ??Switch hand positions to limit stress on one side of the body. Place one hand toward the top of the rake handle and the other down far enough so that your elbow bends just slightly.

      ??Create small piles of leaves. They are easier to pick up and lessen the chance of back strain. As you pick up piles, bend at the knees, not the waist. Pay attention to keeping your back straight .

      ??Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids. When you feel tired or sore, stop.

      Mulching

      Fallen leaves can easily go into natural areas under the canopy of shade trees or into shrub beds. This free mulch decomposes slowly and improves the soil.

      But don’t overdo it. More than 4 inches could compress and create a barrier, keeping water and air out of the soil. Do not heap leaves against tree trunks. The mulch area should stop several inches from the trunk.

      Once flower beds and vegetable gardens are cleared of this year’s plants, dig in these leaves or turn them under with a tiller. Because smaller pieces decompose faster, mow them into a grass catcher before adding them to the beds.

      Two places where leaves (and grass clippings) should not be placed or piled are in the streets or in or beside streams, says Jennifer Krupowicz, water quality educator for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services. In both cases, this could have a negative effect on water quality. When put in streets, leaves can clog storm drains and lead to flooding.

      Composting

      The natural decomposition of leaves, helped along by nitrogen-rich matter such as grass clippings or manure and microscopic organisms, creates a rich, fertile compost. This will improve native clay soil once it is worked into it. You need tree leaves, green matter such as grass clippings, alfalfa meal and kitchen waste such as old lettuce and peelings. Garden soil that’s loaded with microorganisms will get the process going. Plus you need a bin, purchased or made with 12 feet of wire fence (3 feet high) turned into a circle.

      ??Make a bottom for the compost bin with coarse matter such as twigs and small sticks. This allows for air circulation and drainage and keeps the bottom of the compost from staying soggy.

      ??Add 3 to 6 inches of leaves, then 1 to 2 inches of green matter, then a thin layer of soil. Moisten the layers. Continue to build the layers to about 3 feet. Add leaves as the material in the bin settles.

      ??Water it. Keep it damp. Rain may do this for you, but don’t let it dry out if rain doesn’t fall or if you have a lid on your bin.

      ??Stir it up. It speeds the process. Bring thematerial on the outside to the inside by stirring. A bin that isn’t stirred takes longer to produce compost because oxygen doesn’t reach the microorganisms that do the work. Compost should be ready by spring.

      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-27 00:00:00
      2006-10-26 00:00:00

      Top 10 Happiest Countries in the World

      Most of us have heard the common clich?, “wherever you go you take yourself.”?? According to Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at Leicester who developed the first “World Map of Happiness,” where you go might be the most important factor.

      White’s research used a battery of statistical data, plus the subjective responses of 80,000 people worldwide, to map out well being across 178 countries.

      Not surprisingly, the countries that are happiest are those that are healthy, wealthy, and wise. “The most significant factors were health, the level of poverty, and access to basic education,” White says. Population size also plays a role. Smaller countries with greater social cohesion and a stronger sense of national identity tended to score better, while those with the largest populations fared worse.

      The Top Ten Happiest Countries:

      10. Canada
      9.?? Brunei
      8.?? Bhutan
      7.?? Sweden
      6.?? Finland
      5.?? Bahamas
      4.?? Iceland
      3.?? Austria
      2.?? Switzerland
      1.?? Denmark

      With a high standard of living, negligible poverty, and a broad range of public and social services, it’s easy to see why Denmark tops the happiness map. There’s a high level of education; public schools are top-quality and private ones are affordable. The low population gives the nation a strong sense of identity. And Denmark’s physical beauty forms a great backdrop to daily life. The weather is a bit tough, though.

      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-26 00:00:00
      2006-10-26 00:00:00

      Government Rejects Thimersol Restrictions

      Very few issues in healthcare have created as much controversy as the mercury compounds contained in vaccines.? Large studies have been done on both sides that completely contradict each other.? The public has been left without a definitive answer regarding the safety of vaccines.

      A group called the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 seeking the restrictions on thimerosal, citing concerns that the preservative is linked to autism. In a reply dated Sept. 26 but made public only Tuesday, the FDA rejected the petition.

      Thimerosal, about 50 percent mercury by weight, has been used since the 1930s to kill microbes in vaccines. There have been suspicions that thimerosal causes autism. However, studies that tracked thousands of children consistently have found no association between the brain disorder and the mercury-based preservative. Critics contend the studies are flawed.

      Vaccines have been credited with the eradication of numerous illnesses since their introduction.? In discussing the efficacy of these vaccines it is also important to notice the disappearance of these diseases in countries that did not have access to vaccines.? Furthermore, according to government statistics diseases like polo were on the decline long before the introduction of the polio vaccination.

      In weighing the option to use vaccinations, it is important to be diligent in your research.? Make sure you know who is providing the “facts” and do they have an ulterior motive.? There are a lot of book on the subject and I would recommend compiling as much information as you can regarding this issue.

      Full Story: CNN.com

      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-26 00:00:00
      2006-10-26 00:00:00

      Want Better Gas Mileage?

      Losing the plump could also help you at the pump according to a recent study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage.

      Using recent gas prices of $2.20 a gallon, that translates to about $2.2 billion more spent on gas each year.

      “The bottom line is that our hunger for food and our hunger for oil are not independent. There is a relationship between the two,” said University of Illinois researcher Sheldon Jacobson, a study co-author.

      “If a person reduces the weight in their car, either by removing excess baggage, carrying around less weight in their trunk, or yes, even losing weight, they will indeed see a drop in their fuel consumption.”

      The lost mileage is pretty small for any single driver. Jacobson said the typical driver ? someone who records less than 12,000 miles annually ? would use roughly 18 fewer gallons of gas over the course of a year by losing 100 pounds. At $2.20 per gallon, that would be a savings of almost $40.

      Forty dollars a year won’t bring about early retirement, but it is yet another reason to keep fit.

      Full Story:? Yahoo Health.com?

      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-26 00:00:00
      2006-10-24 00:00:00

      Do Modern Cars Increase the Risk of Whiplash?

      There is no doubt that automobile manufactures have been successful in lowering fatalities associated automobile accident.? Advancements like airbags have been credited with preventing serious injury and preventing death, but do these advancements come at a cost.

      Why can one person suffer chronic pain following a low speed rear-end collision, while another can walk away with just minor symptoms?? This is a question that has haunted whiplash research for 40 years.? A new study conducted by some of the world’s leading engineers indicates that one culprit may be bumper design.

      Bumper stiffness has been a major issue in the insurance industry the last few years.? The Insurance Institution for Highway Safety rates cars annually on how expensive it is to repair bumpers after low speed collisions, with the goal of making them stiffer - and less expensive to fix.

      A state-of-the-art study was performed to determine the forces that are being experienced by occupants of cars with bumpers that have been stiffened to keep repair costs down.? The researchers found that the occupants of these cars experienced a larger acceleration which translated to increased force on the joints and muscles of the neck.

      Another key factor in preventing whiplash injury is proper headrest placement.? If the headrest is too low or too far from the back of the head, the head experiences a higher degree of whipping when the occupant is struck from behind.? The top of the headrest should be just below the top of the head and there should be very little space between the back of the head and the headrest.

      Filed under: — @ 2006-10-24 00:00:00
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