Blogs

The Usability Bypass ( an homage to the late Douglas Adams)

In the Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Arthur Dent complains that he had not been warned that his house would demolished to make way for a new bypass:

Sherlock Holmes: a modern data protection parable?

The final episode of the second series of the modern BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes opens with serious security breaches at the Bank of England, The Tower of London and Pentonville Prison. The breaches are apparently caused by a piece of malware created by Holmes' nemesis Moriarty.
Towards the end of the episode, Moriarty reveals that the malware is a hoax: it does not exist. Instead the security breaches were caused by collaboration by insiders induced by threats and bribes.

Losing Personal Information Needs to Treated More Like Drinking and Driving than Speeding

After the English riots in the summer of 2011, commentators observed that criminal behaviour was influenced as much by social norms as the legal system. Some illegal acts are socially acceptable. If you get caught exceeding the speed limit and 'fess up at a middle class dinner table, you will likely be greeted with sympathy and with comments such as "why aren't the police out catching real criminals?"

The second biggest data protection risk in the world

If asked to invent the worst possible data protection nightmare, I wouldn’t have to: it already exists, and it’s called a fax. Imagine a medium which allows you to put any information on it in a completely uncontrolled way on a completely open format for all to see. Then take this medium and feed it into a machine where it is directed by using a long string of pseudo random numbers, which is almost but not exactly the same as a phone number.

10 Reasons why IT projects fail

In spite of the best efforts of many software developers, IT projects have a poor reputation for failure, associated with errors, budget over-runs and delays.
Even more depressing, the 10 reasons given below are not new. So why re-state them? Because until we address them, the perception of failure will continue.
1. People don't remember the successes

Informed consent: a noble myth?

Informed consent is required in research, in treatment and for the storage use, disclosure or sharing of personal information. For this discussion, we shall consider consent to treatment as part of the delivery of health care. The concept came to the fore in the UK at a series of high profile inquiries into adverse events at Bristol and Liverpool. Those inquiries described situations where the health care professionals were deemed to have acted paternalistically and failed either to obtain valid consent or provide sufficient information to enable patients to make informed decisions.

Private sector good? Public sector bad?

A common rhetoric in the UK 2010 election campaign is “private sector good, public sector bad” which gets extended to public sector costs us money, private sector makes us money. Therefore, the politicians tell us the answer is to get rid of all these highly paid public sector managers who earn exhorbitant salaries. Preferably, by stringing them up from the nearest lampposts next to the bankers who are presumably also now in the public sector as we own most of them!

Better Health Must Cost More, Right?

Bob Evans, Health economist from British Colombia Canada coined the phrase “intellectual zombies” for ideas that refuse to die in spite of all the evidence. His particular bete noire (to mix my metaphors!) is that private health care is cheaper than public health care. It’s not. All the evidence says so but some people still believe it. So here’s my latest nomination for an intellectual zombie. Better Health Must Cost More. Of course, there are times when you need to spend more to get access to a new wonder drug or a new scanning whizzymajig.

Does health news reporting carry particular ethical responsibilities?

In a free society, a free media is a key part of that freedom. Health care is a high profile political issue. With the advent of 24-hour news channels, there is a need to fill the available time slots. Such channels often run themed weeks and focus on a particular subject. The health care system is a favourite topic.
This can lead to pressure to find health care stories and this in turn can give stories of limited news worthiness a higher profile than they may deserve.

Stafford Hospital: Bristol Revisited?

The events at Stafford Hospital have depressing echoes of Bristol and Alder Hey in the UK and Winnipeg in Canada and King Edward Memorial in Perth, Western Australia in the 1990s. These events had a profound effect on the development of clinical governance in the UK. In spite of all the enquiries, all the newspaper inches and the indignant editorials, here we are again.

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