Monday, September 21, 2009

Changes in Alberta Health Services

Normally I just post about new technology and new trends but I need to bring to light the absolute idiocity of what the Alberta Conservative Government is doing to the Alberta Health Care system. So here is the back story. In March 2008 there was a General Election in Alberta. Ed Stelmach and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party won an overwhelming majority (Please note that this was the lowest voter turnout in Alberta History Wikipedia Reference). So with a "blank cheque" and a "free pass" from the Alberta Tax Payer the Conservatives can do pretty much what ever they want.

So in January 2009 the Alberta Government hired an Australian economist to be the head of Alberta Health Services (now is it just me or how is an economist know anything about health care besides counting pennies?). Read CBC Article On Duckett Hiring

In May 2009 the new Health Minister Ron Liepert and his party decided to merge the regional boards into one big super board (Read Ref Link). This lead to the layoffs of many managers that got paid a huge severance for being laid off (CBC Article September 2009).

Here is an interesting note the allot of the deficit came from the Government changes to the health care system (please refer to the CBC Article September 2009).

So now we are looking into the abyss if you will. The complete and total destruction of the Public Health Care system by strangling it to death. Here is how it starts. Duckett implements a new code of conduct that puts a "gag order" on all Alberta Health Services employees. This is allowed to go though because of no public pressure or political will. (Read Calgary Herald Article)then closes 300 acute care beds (which we are already short on) at Alberta Health Services passing on the cost to municipal governments and law enforcement budgets since there is no place to take or help these people.
Police Worry About Alberta Hospital Closure 2009

He argues that here will be places in community based or assisted living programs. These programs are not equipped to handle these people with very specific needs.
(CTV Article).

"First of all if they could be in assisted living they would already be there this is going to be a repeat of history because Albertans can't learn from history. We went through this in the 90's and here we go again."

Now he is talking about crippling the back bone to the Health Care System, removing nurses (Which we are short on) saying that their job can be done by someone else who we don't have to pay as much. First of all they tried this already, and I won't get into specifics but we are back to removing highly trained and educated staff that we need to keep the health care system running. This is not a good idea!
CBC Nurses Complaint Letter 2009
Duckett Issues with Nurses in the Past

This is the problem when you don't have someone who is familiar with the training and backgrounds of personnel in the given profession. It doesn't matter what profession but if you don't understand or know about how something works then you are useless and more then likely will cause more harm then good. The oath of most medical professionals is to do no harm. Since Stephen Duckett and our Alberta conservative government didn't take that oath then I guess they can do all the harm they want that is until the next election... I hope...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Embroidery Formats Are A Problem

I've been working closely with a few graphic designers and we are coming to the end of a project. The client wants to get some embroidery done on some shirts. So we get quotes from the various embroidery places and the client is ok with everything so we send the job off; so far so good right? Wrong. We get a call from the embroidery place asking us for a .dst format. The designer who took this call asked me after this information was provided "What a .dst was?" as he was not familiar with it. I looked at him and asked what an embroidery place wants with an autocad sheet file, as that was the extension I was aware of for that program. After a lengthy discussion and a few hours of research we discovered that it is also an embroidery format for their software. Since we didn't have any embroidery software we told them we couldn't provide then with the format. Then they told us it would be $100 to convert the file for the embroidery. Now the order was a very small order and a $100.00 to the client was a huge deal so we didn't do the order and here is why.

After some extensive research there is no free software to convert the files. There are a lot of viewers and trail versions but none save to an embroidery format. The closest one that did is a Mac program called graphic converter which can save as a Mac Weavlet file but that proved to be useless. I also found a program on the Mac called Convert It by Macemb which says it will convert jpgs, tiffs all sorts of different embroidery formats to different embroidery formats. So I downloaded the trial and you can't save to an embroidery format unless you buy the software which is $150.00 so not bad but not in the budget.

My issue is not with the different software out their for embroidery but the lack of compatible standards with the rest of the graphic industry. These embroidery formats need to be opened up and made compatible with everything else. Much like with Print and Web (the difference being of course is resolution). Open standards with the rest of the industry would make software work better and converting files easier faster and cheaper. - imagine that!

This was my first experience dealing with embroidery shops and it left a nasty taste in my mouth, If I can avoid closed and proprietary systems I try to but I also realize that systems like Windows and the Mac OS are also closed systems and operate similar to the embroidery software shops only not as stringent. You need to have a cheap free way to convert to and from these file types. Thus far I know of none, but if I come across any I will share that information. I don't want anyone else to go though the experience I went though.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

What should a Canadian Copyright Law be?

As a content producer, I feel that there should be a flat fee for content. It shouldn't matter if you buy a DVD, CD, download your content, you should pay a flat fee for that content. The platform is irrelevant, as content should and can transend the platform.

The solution is simple.

A copyright bill that covers the content not the platform. If you have the rights to the content to view/own/rent what ever the "legal" terms of use/definition is then you can do what you want with it in the terms of use.

The terms of use should not limit the platform but want you to take the content to any platform and do what you want with it short of giving it the content you purchased away.

A DMCA style law is useless and wrong, it invites stagnation in content creation and delivery. To prove my point Artists that have released their albums under Creative Commons License

have been successful. For example Nine Inch Nails.

The question that we have to ask ourselves do big record/Movie companies/producers want to change to survive? Do they need a diamond crusted swimming pool or solid gold TV? If you were use to making 6 or 7 figures would you want your salary cut?

Media and content (to a point) can now be produced cheaply and relatively easily, maybe we need more CBC's and BBC's or a levy like the CD levy (Which is suppose to allow us to make personal copies of our purchased content) so we can fund more content.

The DMCA is wrong and our government officials would be a bunch of idiots if they adopted a DMCA style law here in Canada. It doesn't work in the States and it won't work here. The only reason the record/movie companies and lobbist want it is so they can charge for their content per platform which is wrong and should not be allowed.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Microsoft Vs Linux. Debunking Microsofts Propaganda

Well, Microsoft is at it again. Using their enormous resources to go after the competition and using other companies employees to do it to.

Arstechnica has an article showing slides of a Microsoft Test trying to "Stretch" why one person should get Windows instead of Linux. Microsoft teaches Best Buy employees how to troll Linux users

Any rate lets go through step by step why you would pick one over the other.

1) The most important reason to pick an operating system is to get it to do what you want. In my opinion, for a Netbook Linux is a superior choice. A Netbook is to be used for word processing and web surfing. It is little more then a glorified type writer. If you want a productive machine for your kids that is
safer then a regular Windows computer but doesn't cost as much as a Mac then Linux is for you.

2) Linux is self supported, you will have to learn a bit about computers to use it more then you would have to learn about a Windows system. It is NOT because Windows is easier, or safer, or even more inexpensive. It is because Microsoft has all PC manufactures (Except Apple) shipping their stuff with Windows1.

3) Linux will use less resources for running your operating system then Windows.

4) If you do want to run iTunes without being an IT expert, then Windows maybe the version for you. You do have to enable Wine on Linux to run Windows applications.

5) Parental controls on Windows does not make it safer. There are better ways to make your computer and the Internet safer for your children such as using Open DNS to restrict what websites they can see and having a router, to control when they can go on the internet and most important keep the computer in a public area where you can monitor your children and what they are doing!

Microsoft has started an offensive against Apple and Linux, and one can argue that they are safer because their market share is so low but I also know that both the Apple and Linux kernel are very secure and I would even argue more secure then Window's kernel. Regardless a computer should do what you want it do and come at a reasonable price. A Linux system will do most of the things a Windows system will do, and it will cost less. - A lot less. Regardless make sure you tell the person selling it to you what you want it to. Here are some questions you should ask.

1. Will it play my music?
2. Will it play movies?
3. Does it come with a word processor and email program?
4. Can I edit pictures on it?
5. Can I edit movies on it?
6. Can I burn movies on it? (Fair use only!)
7. Does it come within my budget?
8. How long will it last me? ( Will you have it for 6 months or 3 years)
9. Do I need any additional software? If so how much will that cost?
10. Will it be easy to backup and recover my data with out any trouble?

Get what you need. Not what some one else tells you to buy. Mac, Linux, Windows, it's all the same hardware, just what software do you like?


1 - A few pc manufactures such as Asus, Acer, Dell and HP have begun offering Linux pre-installed on their computers.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Security should not override productivity.

I think that some network administrators are to paranoid. When a network admin takes away a feature of a machine you buy in the "Name of Security" it is annoying, useless and a waste of money. What am I ranting about? Well I went to a client's office to consult and my client had a had copy they wanted to scan and email to me. They had just got this fancy multi-copier laser printer combo and when they tried to scan and email the document it said access denied and gave an error number. So my client calls his tech support manager and the manager tells him "we disabled that it is a security concern".

Needless to say the I.T. Manager and my client had some words, but more to my point. If a company purchases or leases an expensive piece of equipment with features that the machine is purchased for it makes sense to let staff use it. Other wise it is a waste of resources. Security is important but not so important that is should hamper productivity. These I.T. managers who think that nothing but security matters better wake up this is the 21st century, if your causing a lack of productivity and a lack of communication you better watch out or it could be your head on the chopping block and be replaced with a more savvy I.T. person that understands the growing needs for communication and security. It's not just security stupid; it's also about productivity and making the most money in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort.


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