2007-01-19 00:00:00

Resume Driven Development (RDD)

It always amazes me when I find new or even seasoned managers that haven’t come across a situation where programmers wanted to use tools, techniques, or technology to improve their resume instead of solving the customer???s problems. This concept, which I call RDD (resume driven development), is very real and it???s actually a fairly widespread problem.

In fact, RDD is so prevalent these days that people will actually choose Java over Perl because ???Perl will not help my career???. Or, they???ll choose WebLogic or WebSphere instead of Tomcat or Jetty because ???who???s going to hire me because I know Jetty???? Never mind that Ruby, Perl or Python may be much better for some quick and dirty solutions where Java may take too long. Never mind that WebSphere will cost much more and may be too heavy a framework for the customer???s need. I???ve heard many developers at my clients??? sites say that they ???just have to use Ruby on Rails on this project??? because rails work may be in demand. Never mind that Rails may create maintenance headaches or require senior engineering talent that may not be available.

Now, don???t get me wrong: choosing any particular IDE, framework, or tool like Rails is not a bad idea (I actually love Rails). But, tools should not be chosen to help a career; tools should be chosen because the customer will get a high-quality solution. Just don???t choose a tool or product (and I???ve seen it many, many, times) because a developer wants to ???learn the tool??? at your customer???s expense! Similarly, choose languages and libraries because of their utility to your project, not the developer???s preferences to learn new things. More often than not, a new tool introduced into an existing project will delay things, not speed up delivery. And quality will likely suffer.

It???s similar to a problem I???ve seen in non-technical sectors as well ??? namely, the politicization of decisions. As we all know, politics (office-style) and Politics (democracy-style) often leads us to make suboptimal decisions. Managers choose particular people on their projects to help advance their careers; workers hide problems and make themselves look better to advance their careers; these are things we come across all the time. RDD is no different ??? developers usually can???t play politics to advance their careers so they end up with resume driven development tactics to pad their resumes so that their next job is easier to get.

Note to all managers and leaders of software projects: when developers ask you to choose a particular tool or technology, always have them explain to you why this may not just be a RDD request versus a request that may actually be good for the client. If the developer talks more about the technology as opposed to the solution or the customer???s requirements then the developer is not focused on the right topic. In fact, ask the developer outright: ???will this tool, technology, or technique help your career more than it will help the client???? See how the developer responds.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-19 00:00:00
2007-01-19 00:00:00

Resume Driven Development (RDD)

It always amazes me when I find new or even seasoned managers that haven’t come across a situation where programmers wanted to use tools, techniques, or technology to improve their resume instead of solving the customer???s problems. This concept, which I call RDD (resume driven development), is very real and it???s actually a fairly widespread problem.

In fact, RDD is so prevalent these days that people will actually choose Java over Perl because ???Perl will not help my career???. Or, they???ll choose WebLogic or WebSphere instead of Tomcat or Jetty because ???who???s going to hire me because I know Jetty???? Never mind that Ruby, Perl or Python may be much better for some quick and dirty solutions where Java may take too long. Never mind that WebSphere will cost much more and may be too heavy a framework for the customer???s need. I???ve heard many developers at my clients??? sites say that they ???just have to use Ruby on Rails on this project??? because rails work may be in demand. Never mind that Rails may create maintenance headaches or require senior engineering talent that may not be available.

Now, don???t get me wrong: choosing any particular IDE, framework, or tool like Rails is not a bad idea (I actually love Rails). But, tools should not be chosen to help a career; tools should be chosen because the customer will get a high-quality solution. Just don???t choose a tool or product (and I???ve seen it many, many, times) because a developer wants to ???learn the tool??? at your customer???s expense! Similarly, choose languages and libraries because of their utility to your project, not the developer???s preferences to learn new things. More often than not, a new tool introduced into an existing project will delay things, not speed up delivery. And quality will likely suffer.

It???s similar to a problem I???ve seen in non-technical sectors as well ??? namely, the politicization of decisions. As we all know, politics (office-style) and Politics (democracy-style) often leads us to make suboptimal decisions. Managers choose particular people on their projects to help advance their careers; workers hide problems and make themselves look better to advance their careers; these are things we come across all the time. RDD is no different ??? developers usually can???t play politics to advance their careers so they end up with resume driven development tactics to pad their resumes so that their next job is easier to get.

Note to all managers and leaders of software projects: when developers ask you to choose a particular tool or technology, always have them explain to you why this may not just be a RDD request versus a request that may actually be good for the client. If the developer talks more about the technology as opposed to the solution or the customer???s requirements then the developer is not focused on the right topic. In fact, ask the developer outright: ???will this tool, technology, or technique help your career more than it will help the client???? See how the developer responds.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-19 00:00:00
2007-01-17 00:00:00

Developing your own master person index using open source tools

There are several types of directories that are useful in healthcare settings; the first is a directory of users and Microsoft Docmain Controller (DC), Active Directory (AD), and LDAP are the most common solutions. DC, AD, etc all help manage a list of users, their roles, and other identity management functions within an enterprise. Another common directory is a master person or master patient index (MPI). MPIs are very useful because it gives a single view of the patient (customer) population within an enterprise.

There are a number of vendors that provide useful MPIs in the commercial world but sometimes, especially in academic or integrated delivery network (IDN) settings it’s useful to create your own MPI. The best approach is to combine the patient catalogs in various applications and provide a unified front-end. For this purpose, you can use a tool like Penrose.

Penrose is a Java-based open source virtual directory server. It basically allows you to connect various data sources (like your clinical apps, your customer-facing apps, support applications, etc) and give a unified view of the patients, users, etc via a virtual LDAP interface. What this allows you to do is to maintain your separate applications where you need to but provide an MPI through a portal for search, lookup, and other purposes. In their words:

Virtual directory enables federating (aggregating) identity data from multiple heterogeneous sources like directory, databases, flat files, and web services - real-time - and makes it available to identity consumers via LDAP.

Penrose has a good architecture, especially for distributed application connectivity within healthcare enterprises, and is worth a look.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-17 00:00:00
2007-01-16 00:00:00

Vitamin B12

B vitamins help support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are needed for key metabolic processes. Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is necessary for DNA synthesis and affects the development of red blood cells, normal myelination (covering) of nerve cells, and the production of neurotransmitters. Deficiencies of B12 can lead to memory loss, confusion, fatigue, and even dementia.

Animal-derived foods, including dairy, eggs, meat, fish and poultry are the only natural sources of B12, so this important vitamin is often deficient in vegan diets. Good sources are clams, herring, cooked oysters and wild Alaskan salmon. To help meet daily needs, I recommend a B-complex supplement that contains a full spectrum of B vitamins, including thiamine, B12, riboflavin and niacin.

Often many people are unable to absorb B vitamins due to problems in the gut.? One common cause of B vitamin malabsorption is a decreased HCL in the stomach.? To learn more about HCL in the stomach read my post “Heartburn - Too Much or Too Little Stomach Acid.”?

B vitamins are also very important following an injury to the nervous system.? B vitamins help repair the damaged nerves associated with trauma.? This is why I recomend a B complex to my patients who have been in a motor vehicle accident or some other type of trauma that effects the nervous system.

There are a number of different vitamin B supplements on the market, but not all of them are created equal.? I am partial to companies such at Metagenics, Thorne and Standard Process to name a few.? These products are only available through a healthcare practitioner.? If you have questions about a particular brand of supplement, I suggest www.consumerlabs.com. ? Consumer labs is very similar to Consumer Reports, but they test on supplements.? There is a yearly charge for the use of the website, which is minimal in comparison to the price of supplements that might not be living up to their claims.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-16 00:00:00
2007-01-15 00:00:00

Platform for building healthcare fraud detection applications

I ran across Picalo, an open source fraud detection platform, and thought it might be a great solution for those of us looking to build our own fraud detection systems in healthcare settings. Here’s how the authors describe it:

Picalo is a data analysis application, with focus in fraud detection and data retrieved from corporate databases. It is also the foundation for an automated fraud detection system.

Picalo is currently focused on data analysis for fraud and corruption detection. However, it is an open framework that could actually be used for many different types of data analysis: network logs, scientific data, any type of database-oriented data, and data mining.

One of the nicest features of Picalo seem to be detectlets. These are little bits of analysis code written by analysts and non-programmers to help define what to look for when attempting to detect fraud. By creating libraries of detectlets we could build and share fraud detection rules between IDNs, hospitals, government institutions, etc. Seems very powerful.

The only issue I see with Picalo is that it’s GPL which means that it’s not a very friendly open source license for commercial vendors to build their software upon. GPL is great for end users, though (especially if you plan to build your system in an IT shop).

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-15 00:00:00
2007-01-15 00:00:00

Medical Study: Herbal Treatment of Low Back Pain

The esteemed medical journal Spine published a study of herbal treatments for low back pain on January 1, 2007.

The study looked at three herbal Harpagophytum procumbens, Salix alba, and Capsicum frutescens.? Reasearchers review previously published studied on herbal therapy for low back pain. ?

Ten trials were included in this review. Two high-quality trials utilizing Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil’s claw) found strong evidence for short-term improvements in pain and rescue medication for daily doses standardized to 50 mg or 100 mg harpagoside with another high-quality trial demonstrating relative equivalence to 12.5 mg per day of rofecoxib. Two moderate-quality trials utilizing Salix alba (White willow bark) found moderate evidence for short-term improvements in pain and rescue medication for daily doses standardized to 120 mg or 240 mg salicin with an additional trial demonstrating relative equivalence to 12.5 mg per day of rofecoxib. Three low-quality trials using Capsicum frutescens (Cayenne) using various topical preparations found moderate evidence for favorable results against placebo and one trial found equivalence to a homeopathic ointment.

Conclusions: Harpagophytum procumbens, Salix alba, and Capsicum frutescens seem to reduce pain more than placebo. Additional trials testing these herbal medicines against standard treatments will clarify their equivalence in terms of efficacy. The quality of reporting in these trials was generally poor; thus, trialists should refer to the CONSORT statement in reporting clinical trials of herbal medicines.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-15 00:00:00
2007-01-15 00:00:00

Mindful Meditation

The benefits of mediation and relaxation have been shown to improve one’s overall health and wellbeing.? There are a number of different conditions that respond favorably to relaxation techniques such as meditation.? The following is a quick and easy way to bring the benefits of meditation to your life.? Remember that this is a skill.? In our fast pace world, it is hard to slow down the mind, so start with a few minutes and build from there.

Mindful Meditation

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.

Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.

2. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.

3. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.

4. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.

5. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-15 00:00:00
2007-01-15 00:00:00

Platform for building healthcare fraud detection applications

I ran across Picalo, an open source fraud detection platform, and thought it might be a great solution for those of us looking to build our own fraud detection systems in healthcare settings. Here’s how the authors describe it:

Picalo is a data analysis application, with focus in fraud detection and data retrieved from corporate databases. It is also the foundation for an automated fraud detection system.

Picalo is currently focused on data analysis for fraud and corruption detection. However, it is an open framework that could actually be used for many different types of data analysis: network logs, scientific data, any type of database-oriented data, and data mining.

One of the nicest features of Picalo seem to be detectlets. These are little bits of analysis code written by analysts and non-programmers to help define what to look for when attempting to detect fraud. By creating libraries of detectlets we could build and share fraud detection rules between IDNs, hospitals, government institutions, etc. Seems very powerful.

The only issue I see with Picalo is that it’s GPL which means that it’s not a very friendly open source license for commercial vendors to build their software upon. GPL is great for end users, though (especially if you plan to build your system in an IT shop).

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-15 00:00:00
2007-01-14 00:00:00

Single sign on (SSO) solutions in healthcare

Based on my recent discussions with numerous CIOs, they each mention that SSO is something that’s on their radar screens as an important or high priority requirement. Given that most users deal with multiple IT systems during the day and they’re getting tired of re-authenticating themselves for each system, it’s understandable.

While the commercial vendors already tout their own (pretty good in some cases) solutions I thought I’d bring some of you up to speed on one open source solution that you may not be aware of: the Central Authentication System (CAS). CAS is an authentication system originally created by Yale University that allows applications written in Java, .Net, PHP, Perl (and other languages) to authenticate a user against a central directory or multiple directories.

An important feature of CAS is that it’s an open protocol with a solid set of implementations in multiple languages. This means that you can write your own implementation and continue to use the CAS protocol/standard across your various products. And, since it’s open source, you can have your vendors use it without buying per user or application licenses. It’s already in active use in decent size campuses so you don’t have to worry about being an early adopter.

Have your folks check out CAS, it’s something I’ve analyzed personally and it’s a great option for many organizations looking for a reduced or sign sign on solution.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-14 00:00:00
2007-01-14 00:00:00

Single sign on (SSO) solutions in healthcare

Based on my recent discussions with numerous CIOs, they each mention that SSO is something that’s on their radar screens as an important or high priority requirement. Given that most users deal with multiple IT systems during the day and they’re getting tired of re-authenticating themselves for each system, it’s understandable.

While the commercial vendors already tout their own (pretty good in some cases) solutions I thought I’d bring some of you up to speed on one open source solution that you may not be aware of: the Central Authentication System (CAS). CAS is an authentication system originally created by Yale University that allows applications written in Java, .Net, PHP, Perl (and other languages) to authenticate a user against a central directory or multiple directories.

An important feature of CAS is that it’s an open protocol with a solid set of implementations in multiple languages. This means that you can write your own implementation and continue to use the CAS protocol/standard across your various products. And, since it’s open source, you can have your vendors use it without buying per user or application licenses. It’s already in active use in decent size campuses so you don’t have to worry about being an early adopter.

Have your folks check out CAS, it’s something I’ve analyzed personally and it’s a great option for many organizations looking for a reduced or sign sign on solution.

Filed under: — @ 2007-01-14 00:00:00
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