Please note that you can always click on an image in my postings and it will render a clear full sized version in a separate browser page! Also please note that this blog is best viewed with Firefox and Chrome

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Avatar, the movie

I haven't blogged in quite a while. I apologize to any readers that come here either for discussion or to learn something. I have (for better or worse) been summoned to jury duty here in the U.S. For those that are unfamiliar, in the U.S. anybody that registers a vehicle or registers to vote will eventually be called upon to do their civic duty. Jury duty is a process where you might be selected by a lawyer to serve as one of the jurors on a case that is tried in court with a Judge and jury. I not only was summoned for duty, but I was also selected to be on the actual jury. During this time, we're asked to have as little interaction with the 'real' world as is possible, and to never talk about the case. Now that it is over, after 2 whole trying weeks, I can feel more comfortable blogging and such.

This post is going to be a review of a movie I saw this past Christmas Eve (Dec 24th), called Avatar. Most people in the world now should have at least heard of it since it cost over 240 million US dollars to produce, and another 140 million dollars was spent marketing it. Those figures may even be higher in reality. What can I say about it?

Simply Incredible!!!!!!

This has to be one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen, period. Not since the epic Lord of the Rings movies have I felt so enthralled, emotional, and pulled into a movie as deeply as this. I also should mention I saw it in 3D. They offer it in 3D and regular formats. I think seeing it in 3D was even more impressive. I could go on and on about this movie, but I won't. I will see it again for sure. My fiance and I were completely stunned with the movies grand scope and awesome graphics and environment. You completely forget that what you are looking at most of the time does NOT exist! It is graphics! The characters are realistic, and believable.

Again, this is easily in my top 10 movies I have ever seen, and I recommend it as highly as I can.

Please feel free to drop a comment on this. P.S.- I have read all the critic articles about how this movie has an underlying theme such as anti-American, anti-African native, feminist, non-feminist, anti-human, you name it. Sure, there are many themes here that pull on your emotions, but please see the move for what it is first, and then delve deeply into your own subliminal interpretations afterward. One thing is for sure, it makes me think about human irresponsibility and greed and the slow destruction of our own planet...and to this most of us are guilty.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just because I think Google tools are cool...

A marriage of google and BI...not bad. I'll link here to Mark's blog to let you see what I mean.
Google has long been (whether you knew it or not) a VERY heavy database-centric company, and they are harnessing the concept of SAAS like few others. This is a great representation of a nice tool with some 'oopmh!' (Is that a word?) I expect Google to grow more powerful in this space. We'll see. I'll be watching.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Helpful Links on Data Warehousing Fundamentals

These might not all be 'fundamentals' but the articles at this link are solid. Many may not apply to you since they are great when applied to very specific situations (such as modeling multiple employee dimensions).

In general though, I think many people can learn something here. Kimball and sometimes Margy Ross here share good insight. They're not going to give you the gold nuggets that you'll likely get from their paid training, but the articles will get you thinking about your design.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

I have been AFK! - away from the keyboard

Well not actually. I have been in front of a computer or using a keyboard every single day practically since my last post in April! Work has been extraordinarily stressful and busy. You know...when you have 10 tasks and 2 people? :) Yes, THAT busy. In a way I suppose that's a good thing. We've had a global meltdown since the end of 2008 in the economy. Things picked up a bit since their March lows...up a good 20-30% depending on the index you measure.

There's never a shortage of work for people that really know how to do it. So, as I said...maybe the mind-numbing heaps of work is a good thing in this economic storm.

I want to apologize for not posting more regularly! I used to take it upon myself to blog while waiting for things, sitting in an airport, having a spare 30 minutes to share interesting observations on Oracle. I just haven't had that time recently :(

One link I would like to provide is courtesy of slashdot. I read there regularly. This article and the following comments (warning, MANY comments) are mostly about IT in healthcare, and why it is SO behind. It follows up a bit on my last post in April about Healthcare and Medical Informatics.

Another posting I have decided to link to simply burns me up. Very Angry! Here
Read on if you dare! I whole-heartedly disagree with this analysis, and I have many years of firshand experience!

I also wanted to mention (Sept 4 2009) that I received this very interesting comment. I didn't know what language it was, but I assumed arabic, hebrew, russian...I was not sure. So Google's translator was VERY handy! it detected the comment attached to this post was in Russian and tried to give a best translation to English. Here it is:

Если врач знает название вашей болезни, это еще не значит, что он знает что это такое. Никогда не приписывай человеческой зловредности того, что можно объяснить обыкновенной глупостью. Человек может долго жить на деньги которые он ждет. Реальность это иллюзия вызываемая отсутствием алкоголя. Женщины едят за разговорами, мужчины едят заедой

This, according to Google is suppsoed to mean:

"If the physician knows the name of your illness, it does not mean that he knows what it is. Never ascribe to human malignancy that can be explained by ordinary stupidity. A man may live long on the money that he waits. Reality is an illusion caused by lack of alcohol. Women eat for talking, men shall go eat."

Interesting. Confusing but interesting. A bit abstract!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Wide World of Medical Informatics

I got thinking the other day (and have thought this for quite a long time- as far back as 1999) that if there was one niche or sub-field that really falls right into my interests and background it is medical informatics. I have degrees in cell and molecular biology, as well as computer science. I have been fortunate to work in hospitals, medical research facilities, and in medical schools at various levels. Not to mention my career as an Oracle consultant.

I have been very very busy recently, and have decided to try and post regularly again. This particular subject motivated me to do so! To start with, the subject "The WIDE World of..." is misleading. It is true that Medical Informatics requires a very wide skill set as opposed to what most strong oracle developers individually, or most medical practitioners individually have. Each of these are very deep careers in themselves! However, we can also say the subject itself, as opposed to the knowledge needed to DO the work is not particularly wide. Nor is it very established and mature! Schools only recently in the last decade have even developed patchwork curriculum studies to earn certificates or master's degrees in bioinformatics, or medical informatics, or medical analytics.

To top it off, I have noted that such top schools including Northwestern University, right here in Chicago, Illinois, USA, don't have anywhere near the strict admissions standards applied to these newer programs in their infancy. You don't even have to take the GMAT or GRE (graduate admissions exam) to matriculate! It is recommended, but not required. Admissions In most cases, this indicates a program or field of study still in it's infancy and looking to establish itself as a solid undeniable mainstream option.

I do believe that as of now, it is undeniably necessary and important. However, most medical institutions are in the stone-age. Any very solid technical person that steps into hospitals or even doctor's offices will see some systems that are VERY complicated and state of the art. Other systems, such as records systems and software programs are buggy, poorly laid out, or cause the practitioners (nurses, doctors, executives) headaches when trying to enter data, or more importantly...retrieve data that is accurate, up to date, and understandable! The real focus...informatics...is important. The analytics and informatics methodologies in a business intelligence lifecycle simply are lacking in major healthcare organizations. I am not just talking about hospitals, but health insurance companies too!

I have personally sat in doctor's offices where multiple doctors and even medical execs can't stress enough how much they hate having to use EPIC Systems software, or Cerner Software.
I don't know enough about them to explain the issues, but I have seen the pained expression too many times. I have plenty of friends that worked from a technical or manager perspective for major healthcare insurance companies that ALL complain about the same thing: old and not too sharp technology OR sharp technology being used the wrong way which costs even more $$.

I've read it and heard it in person so many times that I've decided to try and write a few blog posts on this topic. The field is ripe. The education is now available. The technologists (Oracle BI and DW folks) are very much present and ready. The doctors know just enough of what they want but VERY few have the skills that we Oracle BIDW developers and managers have.

I want to provide a link for readers to pursue:
Saving Lives With Oracle

What might a VERY general role of the Oracle scientist, or informatics individual be?

Medical Informaticists fill a vital role in health care systems management, verifying and certifying critical computer system components:

  • Certifying medical systems for accuracy and completeness

  • Validating medical decision support systems and expert systems for clinical diagnosis and treatment

  • Verifying the accuracy of Oracle database output results and reports

Is it necessary to have a M.D.? I do not think so. However, this is not like ANY other consulting or business engagement. The doctor or the healthcare organization has a lot of knowledge and very detailed ideas of how things need to work. This is just not something the average consultant can pick up in a few meetings! Unless you have some experience in scientific industries, or have worked in a medical or healthcare settings, or have an actual M.D., you'll likely need to work with a person or small team from the organization that knows all the ins and outs of healthcare, diagnoses, patient records, records management, prescription management, insurance, and core hospital measures and operating practices!

Do not be held back by that though! The reason I believe this field has been too slow to advance, is lack of education, and extremely high amounts of knowledge necessary. I will continue writing on this topic. I'd like to disuss things such as data mining, analytics, and other topics that are relevant!