Friday, November 30, 2012

Listening to the Sage from Omaha

I am not an investment buff but when you get a chance to listen to a sage at your doorstep, you take it.  Today the Cleveland Clinic ideas for tomorrow series hosted Warren Buffett.  It was quite an amazing experience, and I came away with the impression that he is

  • Simple
  • Genuine
  • Funny
  • Smart
I live tweeted the session omitting the second t from his last name.  It is quite amazing how often one can read something and not know how to spell it till you actually write it.  Anyway, quite unedited, here is my Twitter stream from the session.  There are some absolute gems in this, something that will stay with me a long time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coming full Circle in Google+!

Had an amazing journey today and made me realize how sometimes one can learn so much if you have the right people in your circles on Googe+ (or follow the right people on Twitter).

It started early morning when I saw this post by Dirk Stanley who is a physician and a Chief Medical Information Officer.

I followed the link to his excellent blog where he describes his thoughts on EHRs and alerts.  I 1+'ed is post and went on with my day.  Later I came across this post by Marcius Herbert who is a Computer Science Educator in the UK. The post was about using SMS to persuade learners - linking to an article in the British Journal of Education Technology.  This sounded fascinating as I was aware of the use of SMS in helping patients comply with physician instructions.  

At work I was able to get the full text of the article which used an instrument called MSLQ (motivated strategies for learning questionnaires) and referenced the work of B J Fogg who has done amazing work in the field of motivation or "Behavior Design" at Stanford. The article referenced his book "Persuasive Technology; Using Computers to Change What  We Think and Do"  I perused this and learned about the term he coined, "Captology" and his principles organized under

  • Computers as Persuasive Tools
  • Computers as Persuasive Media and 
  • Computers as Persuasive Social Actors
This was fascinating stuff and I realized how this was so closely related to how we try to design Clinical Decision Support Systems and alerts in Electronic Health Records to try and change physician behavior if they are doing something inappropriate.  

My day had come a full circle!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

iPhone 5 - Should it have a back button?

As I posted earlier, our workplace moved from BB to iPhone 5.  The iPhone will be the only supported device for corporate e-mail.

As I use the iPhone, I realize that it seems to be missing something very simple that I have gotten used to using on both the BB and the Android.
The home button at the bottom has to serve the purpose of 3 buttons on Android 

Consider these cases:

  • You get an e-mail with a hyperlink.  You click on the hyperlink and it displays the web page in the browser.  Now you want to return to the e-mail.  How do you do it?
  • You are reading Google news.  You click on an item of interest and it opens a new tab.  Now you want to go back to the news stream.  How do you do it?
I cannot find a way to do it in iOS with one click.  Maybe I am missing something but seems like a simple oversight. 

The first versions of iOS did not allow multiple apps to run concurrently I believe.  Maybe there was no need for a back button then.  Seems it is high time for iOS to get this IMHO.

Another issue is the height and width of the iPhone 5 combined with a "back" navigation button at the top of the screen makes it very difficult to have a one-handed operation.  

Android has a back button along with the home button and a button to show the running apps at the bottom of the screen.  In the Google News example above, the back button closes the newly opened tab and takes you back to where you were in the news stream with a single click!  
The back button is integrated into all Android devices at the bottom left.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Goodbye Blackberry: What I miss about you!

Recently our workplace stopped supporting the Blackberry and moved to iPhone 5.  This is now the only supported smartphone for getting corporate email.

While I am always excited to get a new device, I am already missing my Blackberry Bold.  What do I miss the most?

  1. Speed dial.  I had several buttons programmed to dial with one long press.  Speed dialing did not need me to touch the screen, swipe, or use voice control.  Thus I could press the H key for home, the D key for dad etc.  The iPhone since it lacks a physical keyboard can not have this functionality.  Yes one can use Siri or create favorites or even do some workarounds using "" but nothing even gets close to the simplicity of having a single key press for speed dial.
  2. The trackpad:  This is probably one of the most brilliant features of the BB.  While it had a touchscreen, the trackpad made it almost unnecessary to touch the screen.  One could navigate the cursor precisely to the necessary spot and click the exact spot you wanted.  One could swipe, scroll etc without touching the screen.  This made it a very simple one-handed operation.  The iPhone 5 being a particularly taller screen makes it harder to reach all navigation areas with the thumb while hold the phone in the palm and fingers.  
  3. Zooming a video:  While the iPhone has a somewhat non-intuitive pinch to zoom function for the camera it does not appear to have this for the video which seems quite an important omission for a 500+ dollar device that claims to have the best camera on any smartphone.  Yes there are apps that enable video zooming but IMHO this should be a built in functionality.
  4. The form factor:  The fact that a lot of navigation controls are near the top e.g. the email navigation buttons; and the home button is near the bottom means the phone has to be moved around in the palm  to reach these.  The phone is just too tall for one handed operation and too narrow to feel secure holding it in the palm/fingers.  Due to the insecure grip, a case is a must which means there is no point to the gorgeous look?  Never even thought about getting a case for the BB as it was secure in the palm and just the right width.
  5. The BB magnetic holster:  It is possible on the BB to set up certain profiles/behaviors based on whether the device is in the holster or outside.  This would also save battery life by automatically putting the screen to sleep/locking the device when placed in the holster.