March 24, 2012

Choosing the best technology platform

The Commodore Amiga in 1985 The Commodore Amiga story is one I like to tell to examplify that even the best technology will sometimes succumb to market (money) power. The Amiga was introduced in 1985 and was at the time a technological breakthrough as it could easily display colorful, animated graphics and play high quality sound while PCs (and even Apple) at that time were black & white and had one single speaker that could only beep. It's operating system was cleverly designed and handled windows and multitasking (like playing music and writing text simultaneously) with a breeze while PCs at that time were playing hangman with you on a green DOS screen.
The Amiga was geniously designed by brilliant engineers, incorporating clever and advanced technology so that it was way ahead of it's competitors and thus jaw-dropped everyone who saw it in action, below is one of the first demos showing of Amiga's capabilities

Despite technological advances, the Amiga was elbowed out of the market mostly because the public's attention was where the money was and vice versa, so IBM, Microsoft, Apple and the big giants won with their inferior products.

For me, like many, this was a sentimental battle. Not only did I love my Amiga but I felt the world could gain so much with it's advanced technology. The revolution came finally but only many years later as the PCs finally caught up and the IT boom set off and changed the world as we know it forever. Still today I wonder what had been if the Amiga had had the impact it was designed to have?

Today I feel pretty much in the same way about some technologies being in the shadow of others enjoying the spotlight without really having done so much to deserve it. Now you may say I am arrogant but let me remind you I've been using computers almost since infancy and I've tried many different technologies so that what I use today is the result of many years of trial and error. I have made dramatical u-turns when I feel there is another technology which fulfills my needs better -  like when I switched to Linux after having been a Windows fan for more than 10 years.

For this reason I get irritated when the world seems to believe there is only one gadget existing like Apples' i-products. Physicians are head over heels about iPhones and now iPads but what most of them haven't done is to actually compare them to the alternatives. I have done this and for many reasons (open source software, USB connection, high configurability just to name a few) I prefer Android to iPhone.

The Commodore Amiga in 1985 The Linux vs Windows one is a no-brainer, Windows is a totally overvalued piece of software that exists today only because of the power of money (you could start with asking yourself why it is almost impossible to buy a computer without Windows pre-installed). Read my above mentioned blog-post to find out why.

Then there is the Google Apps vs MS Office debate. I was an Office fan too and I found Google Docs to be a lousy product in it's beginnings. But it has advanced a lot and today it is one of the most important IT tools I have and has dramatically changed the way I work and stay organized both as a physician and family man with three children.

The message? Be critical, open-minded and picky about your technologies. Don't just buy a product because the word of the street says it's the best. There is no thing such as 'one size fits them all' when it comes to software and gadgets - decide what to purchase based on what your needs are and what you are going to do with it. There are plenty of blogs and IT magazines out there to do some home-learning!

March 19, 2012

Lazarus' sign

Lazarus' sign is one of these signs that you just have to know because it is just so perversely stunning. Basically it is a corticospinal reflex in the brain dead where the patient (or it's body) will flex both arms as if he was grasping after some object or even trying to 'give a hug', scaring the hell out of family members or inexperienced personnel. BTW, Lazarus's sign is *not* the same as decorticate or decerebrate reflex.

Today I heard a story from a college who was doing the apnea test to confirm a patients' brain death and while bending over to auscultate the heart, the patient performed the Lazarus' reflex and seemingly hugged the doctor while showing no other signs of life.