Strike Up The Band(width)!

When I first became active in the PACS world, I adopted a goal from my senior partner/mentor: “Sit here, read there”. This was to apply to every site, every examination in our enterprise. Today, we have met that goal, both with our group-owned system, and with PACS provided by the hospitals. I can indeed sit at any site within our realm, and for that matter, at any broadband-connected computer, anywhere, and peek at any particular study that takes my fancy. When you think about it, that is quite an achievement.

All of this interconnection requires, well, a connection! That would be the various networks and portals into the Internet. As I have pointed out in a previous post, aptly titled Disconnected!, when the network is down, thus PACS is down, and therefore the whole department sits idle except for extreme emergency cases.

We are feeling the pressure of the network in another way. One of our hospitals has somewhat suboptimal internet connections to the outside world. We have tossed blame back and forth as to why their web-based PACS can be viewed but slowly at remote sites, and why our web-based PACS (both Amicas, by the way) crawls when viewed from within their walls. Trying to view the Agfa Impax of the other hospital system from within the problematic facility is just that, trying.

As yet, we have no good reason for this to be happening. The IT folks at the institution in question have switched us back and forth on various lines and channels, this one having no net-nanny or port-blocking, that one having X speed, another having yet more different parameters. All we know is that the situation is deteriorating rapidly, and we have to do something. To use the buzz-words that get everyone’s attention, our ability to deliver health-care is being impaired, and this needs to be fixed.

At this point, our main option is to buy our own network. Our system lives in a neutral spot, external to all hospitals. We are on the brink of purchasing Metro Ethernet lines, also called MetroE’s, with point-to-point access for our system. This would also give us direct, very rapid access to our own PACS, and should significantly improve the connection to the hospitals, at least we expect it to do so. At a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per year, we don’t want to do this and see no benefits!

There might be one last option. Our state is participating in the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (RHCPP) which is designed to link under-served primarily rural hospitals with fiber optic broadband. The network-challenged hospital has apparently signed on to this initiative, and anticipates a great boost in service. However, I’m not sure we would qualify to participate:

Palmetto State Providers Network ($7.9 million)—This project will connect healthcare providers to a fiber optic backbone to enhance simulation training, remote intensive care unit monitoring, and medical education in South Carolina.

I suppose we could sign up to read from any rural hospitals that are properly equipped to transmit out to us. That would be a win-win situation.

In the meantime, we’re about to spend a lot of cash for some local bandwidth. At least one part of the economy will be stimulated. . . On Kindle!

Vanity knows no bounds. In the old days, to make it to print, one had to have an agent, and probably some reasonable amount of talent. Or, for the truly desperate, there were “vanity publishers”, who would for a large fee print up a hundred copies of your version of the Great American Novel.

Today, all it takes to be published is a computer, a account, and the foolish notion that someone else might want to read what you’re writing. Which is where you, my beloved readers, come into the picture.

There are lots of options for access to this, my favorite blog. First and foremost, you can find me with your computer, right here at This applies as well to iPhones, iPod Touches, PocketPC’s, and even the occasional Blackberry.

But hold on to your shorts, and let loose your wallet. Today, there comes a new option: The Amazon Kindle! For only $359, you can have a pencil-thin slab of 1500 books, or for $489, you can have a larger screen DX version with enough space to hold 3500 books! Of course, if you already have an iPhone, you can download the Kindle app which does a pretty good job of simulating the real thing.

The Kindle has wireless access (with no extra charge) that lets you download books, magazines, newspapers, and so on, for a fee, of course. And now, you can download blogs as well! Here’s the teaser for mine:

There is just one catch: If you access through your Kindle, it’ll cost you $1.99 per month. Of course it’s worth it, right?!

Spock With Sex Appeal?

Things are getting a little out of hand, in the opinion of yours truly, a Centrist/Conservative Trekkie.

I accept the fact that the media is very enamoured with our new President; they helped him get elected, after all, so they might as well hide any buyer’s remorse they might have. But Newsweek’s Jon Meacham has gone waaaaaay over the line. In an article reviewing a conversation he had with Mr. Obama, Meacham quoted the President as saying, “he saw the new Star Trek recently because ‘everybody was saying I was Spock.'” Argggggh! Not Everyone! But the sacrilege goes further:

. . . (H)e appears resolved to keep playing the role—Spock with global sex appeal—that has gotten him this far.

OK, that’s just. . . WRONG! Raise my taxes, cut my income, but don’t mess with Star Trek! And besides, if you wanted Spock with sex appeal, look no further:

Super Google!

I remember when AOL’s WebCrawler and AltaVista were the best of the best for searching the ‘net. Then came Google, and the on-line world was never the same. Google today has a huge web-footprint, if you will, dominating the search engine business, and most every other area of the net it touches via ad-driven accessories. Why, this very blog is hosted by Google!

Google can find everything, it seems, but the one thing it cannot do is answer a question. That seems like a daunting task, but there is a new approach with a fine pedigree.

From the Times Online:

A revolutionary new search engine that computes answers rather than pointing to websites will be launched officially today amid heated talk that it could challenge the might of Google.

Wolfram Alpha, named after Stephen Wolfram, the British-born computer scientist and inventor behind the project, takes a query and uses computational power to crunch through huge databases.

The service can compute the distance between two cities, the population of a country at a specific date and the position of the Space Shuttle at a given moment. The user does not have to search through links provided by the engine; the answer comes immediately and, if appropriate, is accompanied by charts or graphs. What it does that Google, at the moment, cannot do is provide answers to questions that have not been answered already.

Wolframs stated goals are anything but modest:

WolframAlpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

WolframAlpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

WolframAlpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

Uh, yeah. ALL SYSTEMATIC KNOWLEDGE??!! This is bloody amazing, and over-the-top ambitious. I think it’s going to take a little while to get there. Still, this thing is pretty powerful already.

Try “Pi to 1000 digits” and you get


I checked, and it’s the right answer. I put in my last name and found

Basic information for the United States:

Rank: 857th

Fraction: 1 in 7326 people 0.014%

Number: 36,833 people

Ethnic fractions:

White 96.54%
Mixed 1.26%
Mestizo 1.22%
Black 0.46%
Asian 0.4%
Amerindian 0.11%

But when I tried to search for Doctor Dalai, I get “WolframAlpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.” Which is probably appropriate.

This is one of those “works in progress” that is pretty impressive from the beginning. It isn’t Google as yet, but sooner or later, WolframAlpha will surpass it’s rival. In the meantime, it’s a pretty darn good math homework helper. Give it a try at Happy computing! Reviewed!

Slowly but surely, the word spreads about my wonderful blog!

My compadres at the “Radiology Technician Schools” blog took on the difficult task of reviewing 50 radiology blogs

. . . by radiologists, sonographers and industry professionals (which) reveal the ups, downs and nitty gritty details that you would want to read before making a huge decision such as a career path. Check out these top 50 blogs and see if diagnostic imaging is in your future.

Wow. Now, I might be encouraging (or discouraging) someone from entering radiology, radiography, sonography, etc., etc. What responsibility! I’m not sure I’m worthy, but read the review of my site (which was only ranked #4, but to be fair, that’s pretty darn good in this rarefied company):

4. Dalai’s PACS Blog – This humorous blog begins with an alternative meaning to the PACS acronym: “Pain and Constant Suffering.” Mixing tongue-in-cheek ad medical analysis, reasons to embrace or avoid medical technology, and more awful medical spam, this site is a buffet of entertainment.

Well, I might have gone so far as to say I’m offering a salad-bar of entertainment. Buffet does sound better, though (except when some relatives of mine pronounce “buffet” as BOO-FAY, but that’s another story for another time.)

Many thanks for the kind words. It still amazes me that anyone actually reads this thing, but I’m really glad you do.