The thrust of Shulman's thesis lays in his discovery that Bell was trying out all sorts of approaches that weren't panning out, as noted in Bell's notebooks of early 1876. Entries in the notebook about his different attempts continue until 24 February 1876, and then don't resume until 7 March 1876 when Bell tries a novel approach. A day and a half later, "Mr. Watson, come here. I need you," is supposedly transmitted.
The gap is important, Shulman argues, because Bell had just returned from a trip from Washington, DC, where it seems that Bell got improper access to Gray's patent application. Shulman also contends that Bell's subsequent reticent behavior indicates that he struggled to come to terms with his theft of Gray's invention.
The book reminds one a bit of the recent flap over the MS-DOS and how much credit for it is owed to Gary Kildall and CP/M. I wonder if there will be books about it a hundred and thirty years from now, or will anyone then even remember MS-DOS, Windows or even Microsoft.
A few weeks ago, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division began contacting as many as 10,000 current and former federal employees who worked at the Naval Bases in Dahlgren, Va., Silver Spring, Md., and Panama City, Fla., on or before July 7, 1994, to warn them of potential identity theft, NSWC urged them to contact their creditor bureaus in the wake of a reported attempt to illegally obtain a credit card using an employeeâ''s personal information.
NSWC was notified on Jan. 8 that four individuals had been arrested in Bensalem Township, Pa., on Jan. 5, 2008, for attempted identity fraud. The police informed a Dahlgren employee that someone had stolen his identity and was about to use his credit card to buy a big-screen TV at Sears.
The four had in their possession two pages of a hard copy report dated July 7, 1994, containing personally identifiable information (PII) â'' names, social security numbers and dates of birth â'' of nearly 100 individuals with the last name beginning with â''B.â''
So far, there is still no information as to how the individual(s) came to be in possession of employee personal information. The episode is currently under Secret Service investigation.
This theft shows how even older data records can pose a major threat. What is concerning is whether this was a one-off, aberration, or whether id thieves are now targeting archival information. It also points out that thieves might be very willing to hold on to stolen data - especially if it is a "high profile theft" - for a very long time, since its value doesn't decrease much.
From Spectrum senior associate editor Steven Cherry at Tech Talk:
Would electronic medical records save the United States $77 billion?
Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York and one of the leading candidates for the 2008 presidency, said so on Thursday night.
You can hear it for yourself. Itâ''s about five and half minutes into this YouTube video.
If you don't want to listen, hereâ''s the key soundbite:
According to the Rand Corporation, hardly a bastion of liberal thinking, they have said that we would save $77 billion dollars a year. That money could be put into prevention. It could be put into chronic care management. It can be put into making sure that our health care system has enough access so that if you are in a rural community somewhere in California or somewhere in Tennessee or somewhere in Georgia, youâ''ll have access to health care. If youâ''re in an inner city area, and you see your hospital, like the Drew Medical Center, closed on you, then youâ''re going to have a place once again where you can get health care in the immediate area.
Clinton wants to pay for universal health care, in part, with these savings. And sheâ''s been talking about it for a while. She mentioned the $77 billion figure in a key policy speech on the eve of the New Hampshire primary that reinvigorated her campaign. Itâ''s obviously an important matter, yet Iâ''m not sure the press has taken even the quickest look at the RAND study on which so much of Clintonâ''s health plan depends.
If they had, theyâ''d notice that the study was released back in 2005. Not only that, but it was two years in the making, according to a RAND press release issued at the time. So the savings might be greater, adjusted for inflation, and might be greater, or a lot less, depending on how outdated the data is.
The study actually claims $81 billion in annual savings, according to a press release issued at the time. For some reason Clinton isnâ''t counting $4 billion that â''would be saved each year because of improved safety, primarily by reducing prescription errors as computerized systems warn doctors and pharmacists of potential mistakes.â''
Leaving aside those safety savings, what would the $77 billions in savings result from? Richard Hillestad, a senior management scientist at RAND who led the study,
estimates that if 90 percent of doctors and hospitals successfully adopt health information technology and use it effectively, resulting efficiencies would save $77 billion annually. The biggest savings would come through shorter hospital stays prompted by better-coordinated care; less nursing time spent on administrative tasks; better use of medications in hospitals; and better utilization of drugs, labs and radiology services in outpatient settings.
In other words, itâ''s not as if we save $77 billion from eliminating the manual operations of paper records, and then can plunge the savings into improved care. The savings come from the very improvements in heathcare that electronic health records make possible. So the question arises: Is Clinton double-counting the benefits of electronic health care records, once in the saving of the money, and then again in the spending of it? Look at one specific instance the RAND release gives:
For example, health information technology could make a major contribution to improving care for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, who account for 75 percent of the nation's medical care costs, according to researchers.
That sounds an awful lot like the â''chronic care managementâ'' that Clinton cited as something that â''that money could be put into.â''
To be sure, the estimated cost of Clintonâ''s proposed changes to health care run about $110, half of which she says can come from ending the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire soon. â''The other $55 billion,â'' she explained, â''would come from the modernization and the efficiencies,â'' of which, presumably, electronic health care is only one. It is, though, the only one she discussed at length in the debate.
Thereâ''s also, then, a question of timing. The RAND study says
â''It's going to take 10 to 15 years to achieve wide adoption of electronic medical information, even if all the ongoing efforts are successful,â'' Hillestad said.
Does Clinton plan to wait for the savings to materialize before reforming health care? Surely not.
Health care in general is a serious issue, as is the specific one of electronic health records. It was given quite a bit of debate time this week. Unfortunately, Wolf Blitzer, who moderated the CNN-sponsored debate, arrived unprepared to challenge Clintonâ''s airy claims about it, despite their having been made more than three weeks earlier in an important speech.
Weâ''ll continue to follow this and other tech-related issues as the presidential campaign continues. Some of the claims made by the candidates involve some pretty interesting and complicated technologies. For this one, though, all you had to do was read a two-year-old press release.
News reports are surfacing that the plan to implement UK ID cards by 2010 has been slipped to 2012, i.e., after the next election, according to a leaked government strategy paper. The plan, however, is still that by 2015, access to certain government services will require use of the ID Card, like here with REAL ID, thereby "encouraging" everyone to get one.
All the bad publicity from the data scandals has probably helped influence the new strategy.
However, the government, while not exactly denying the delay, said that it was fully committed to introducing the cards, regardless. Unless, of course, the current government loses the next election.
The UK National Program for IT (NPfIT), the national electronics health record program may be in deep trouble. A report last week in ComputerWeekly said that "a board of an NHS trust has learned of a "significant" risk of ÂFujitsu ending its Â£900m contract to supply and implement hospital systems across southern England."
If Fujitsu pulls out, the NPfIT roll-out would highly probably be delayed, and the whole program called into question. At the very least, a high level review that has been repeatedly called for would be hard to dodge any longer.
In 2006, Accenturepulled out of its Â£2bn contract with the project, writing off Â£230m in the process.
A year ago, a senior manager at Fujitsu gave a presentation at a conference on whether NPfIT could be made to work, and was severely beat up for it. Maybe Fujitsu should have bailed out then while the bailing was good.
Apparently Kerviel spent time hacking the risk control system which enabled him to hide his trades. He was able to do so by using his colleagues' passwords, although how he got them has not been disclosed.
A determined person can probably circumvent any set of automated risk control system, and that the control system itself needs to be monitored for signs of tampering. The UK government financial regulators are now looking at UK banks for such a problem.
During the outage, controllers went back to entering flight information manually, and needed to call other air traffic centers to obtain aircraft information for flights entering New England airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there were no safety issues, but NATCA disagreed.
" 'This was, in every possible sense, a dangerously unsafe and chaotic situation,' said Kevin Bianchi, Boston Centerâ''s NATCA facility representative. 'Controllers were in essence working blind and, in many cases, actually had to question pilots to determine their location and routes of flight. Controllers were required to use a secondary backup system to safely track aircraft.' "
The problem caused delays to flights at Logan International Airport and other New England airports as well as several international routes that travel in New England airspace on the way in and out of New York.
Why the problem occurred is not known. The FAA said that it is now investigating.
The London Telegraph over the weekend reported that, "Thousands of 'high profile' people have been secretly barred from using the online tax return system amid concerns that their confidential details would be put at risk."
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) admitted the on-line tax system used by 3 million "common folk" was not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family.
Those barred from using the on-line system must send in hard copies of their tax returns.
The HMRC says that, "HMRC online services are designed with security as an integral part of the service. We use leading technologies and encryption software to safeguard data and operate strict security standards."
The HMRC claims that the celebs need extra security, and the rumor is that there is a highly-secure tax database just for them. I guess the HMRC doesn't trust its employees too much, does it?
Attention in last week's crash of the Boeing 777 in London now seem to be moving away from computer error to something wrong with the fuel, according to several reports.
The UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch released an update which said: "As previously reported, whilst the aircraft was stabilised on an ILS approach with the autopilot engaged, the autothrust system commanded an increase in thrust from both engines. The engines both initially responded but after about 3 seconds the thrust of the right engine reduced. Some eight seconds later the thrust reduced on the left engine to a similar level. The engines did not shut down and both engines continued to produce thrust at an engine speed above flight idle, but less than the commanded thrust."
"Recorded data indicates that an adequate fuel quantity was on board the aircraft and that the autothrottle and engine control commands were performing as expected prior to, and after, the reduction in thrust."
The AAIB goes on to say that, "All possible scenarios that could explain the thrust reduction and continued lack of response of the engines," will be investigated.
The computer as culprit theory, however, still is popular, as shown in this cockpit video.