Monday, May 25, 2009

Greater Washington, DC, an island of solvency in a red sea

Kim Hart
It's just one more sign of the region's growing clout in the business and technology world. This is where stimulus dollars are doled out, where the economic recovery is taking shape, and where regulations -- many of which directly affect businesses -- are being crafted and rewritten. Of course, lawyers and lobbyists are getting a great deal of business helping folks find ways to tap into stimulus money. But Washington's new power role is also good news for local firms.

The stimulus dollars are for the whole country, but the federal government is a unique market and most of the talent that understands it are located along the Potomac.

Voting machines miscellany

Evgeny Morozov describes European resistance to DRE voting.

Dan Wallach explains why open source code is the logical choice for voting technology.

suggests that open source is fine but that paper ballots inspire more confidence.

A Hawaiian judge has blocked use of the machines until proper administrative rules have been set.

Andrew Appel gives us a rundown of the witnesses in a the New Jersey voting machines trial, Gusciora v. Corzine.

Danielle Citron has additional trial coverage.

A Further Look Into Voting Machines

Nizhal Yoddha points to IEEE Computer Magazine's latest article on the problems with the machines.

Clearly the credibility meltdown continues. Maybe someone should write a book about that. East Coast blogging seems to agree.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Apps for America challenge

Sunlight Foundation

What it Is

Apps for America is a special contest we're putting on this year to celebrate the release of! We're doing it alongside Google, O'Reilly Media, and TechWeb and the winners will be announced at the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase in Washington, DC at the end of the Summer.

Why we're doing it

Just as the federal government begins to provide data in Web developer-friendly formats, we're organizing Apps for America 2: The Challenge to demonstrate that when government makes data available, it makes itself more accountable and creates more trust and opportunity in its actions. The contest submissions will also show the creativity of developers in designing compelling applications that provide easy access and understanding for the public, while also showing how open data can save the government tens of millions of dollars by engaging the development community in application development at far cheaper rates than traditional government contractors.

First prize is $10,000 and serious bragging rights.

Government and social media; I heard it from a little bird

Jill Kurtz reports that Transportation Security Administration, the SEC, and Fairfax County are all blogging, on Facebook, Twitter, or all three. Adoption has reached mainstream.

Online support for my book!

Wow, one of the political blogs has endorsed my book proposal:
Alice Marshall’s Working On A Book: You might be interested in helping her write it

Putting your proposal online like this is humiliating and thrilling all at once. I have six backers; if I can find some more this book will really happen! I am so excited!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Learning about Redhat at the DC Linux User Group

Last night I went to the DC Linux User Group to hear Greg Dekoenigsberg talk about Redhat, open source, and how government is using open source software. He also gave us much of the back story to One Laptop Per Child which was previously unknown to your humble servant.

There was another speaker, whose name I did not catch, who explained how the military is using open source software. Open source fits in very well in the improvisational culture of war fighters. Given the very long procurement cycles, it is much easier for soldiers to simply download the software they need, open source makes that possible. There was a long description of setting up a wireless network out of scavenged materials, including Pringels cans, that was absolutely fascinating.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Maryland EHR bill, what doctors need to know

O'Malley expected to sign bill that would aid in creating national health information network

By Matthew Hay Brown and Kelly Brewington | Baltimore Sun reporters
May 19, 2009

Maryland is poised to jump ahead of the rest of the nation in health information technology on Tuesday when Gov. Martin O'Malley signs a bill intended to coax doctors into using electronic medical records.

SimplyfyMD: Let Nothing Come Between You and Your Patient

To which I would add, don't let the insurance companies control your EHR system.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Social media is your friend

Study: Referring links critical in search query rankings

This is why it is important to know who the bloggers are in your industry and to cultivate them. It is also why it it better to have lots of little employee blogs rather than one official corporate blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Great moments in damage control

It seems that Merck has been having problems with the Vioxx brand after some doctors became critical. A lawsuit in Australia has revealed some very damaging emails:
The first fun thing to emerge in the Australian case is email documentation showing staff at Merck made a "hit list" of doctors who were critical of the company, or of the drug. This list contained words such as "neutralise", "neutralised" and "discredit" next to the names of various doctors.

"We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," said one email, from a Merck employee. Staff are also alleged to have used other tactics, such as trying to interfere with academic appointments, and dropping hints about how funding to institutions might dry up. Institutions might think about whether they wish to receive money from a company like that in future. Worse still, is the revelation that Merck paid the publisher Elsevier to produce a publication.

At some point corporations should entertain the possibility that their critics have a point and fix the problem.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

What the RIAA and MPAA could learn John Stewart

Not so long ago clips from the Daily Show began to appear on YouTube. Stewart could have brought lawsuits, he could have railed against thieves on his show, instead he did something very intelligent, he adjusted his business model. The Daily Show now has all their video clips on their site with commercials. Stewart treated the YouTubers as a de facto focus group/test market.

Now instead of litigation draining their purse, Comedy Central has an additional revenue stream. I don’t have any use for content thieves; but clearly there are more intelligent responses than litigation.

Preach it brother Livingston

Net Neutrality Still An Issue

I am truly worried that the whole Web 2.0 does not get how dependent their business model is on net neutrality, or that they take it for granted.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Youth Summit on Technology

12th Annual Youth Summit on Technology Sponsored by Patriots Technology Training Center
The workshops included Video Game Design; TV/Radio Production; Telecommunications; Engineering; Computer Hardware/Software; College Preparation; and Career Development.
Workshops for parents included Partnering with Federal Agencies to Pay for College and Countdown to College.

One of the highlights of the youth summit was the computer competition where four teams of students each disassembled computers and put them back together. The fastest team won laptops for each of the 4 members of the winning team.

Congratulations to the winners.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Call for Participation: XML-in-Practice 2009 Conference

IDEAlliance cordially invites you to participate at the world’s longest-running conference devoted to Markup and XML. XML-in-Practice 2009 offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect and apply the learning from leaders in government, publishing, business, healthcare, and technology.

This year's conference will provide two full days of program that will focus on XML in three key areas:

  • XML in eGovernment
  • XML In Publishing & eMedia
  • XML Foundations, Applications, and Interoperability

XML in Practice will showcase real world applications and solutions that XML has enabled, enhanced and or made possible. In addition, and as is tradition with the IDEAlliance XML Conference, the foundations, applications and interoperability track will offer topics with sufficient technical depth to explore pressing issues beyond the fundamentals.

Important Dates

  • Abstracts due: May 8
  • Notification: May 25
  • Program Posted: June 1
  • Presentations Due: September 15

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Astroturf medical journal

Merck Makes Phony Peer-Review Journal
The Scientist has reported that, yes, it's true, Merck cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website, according to The Scientist.

This is truly embarrassing.

Edit -
Jim Horton had the same reaction.