Tag Archives: random

Surviving in a changing, networked world (part 2)

Two weeks ago I wrote this post, about how it is getting harder and harder to know what are the right paths, the right way points or even the right destinations in life…

Here’s a video that reminded me why it is all so exciting and scary at the same time.

Long live the third curse for we live in interesting times! (Remind me again why I seem to be pursuing curse one and two?)

The Fraser Institute – a case study in how not to engage young people

This video is so shockingly bad, on so many levels, that it almost deserves a facebook group composed of its target audience dedicated to mocking it… Be warned: what you are about to watch will feel like a low-budget angry, mid-80’s government sponsored don’t do drugs commercial.

Well you can thank the Fraser Institute – publishers of an enormous amount of unthinking nonsense – for releasing this video.

I especially enjoyed the use of hip “SMS” styled messages that are guaranteed to alienate the very people it is designed to reach out to. However, what I loved best is the thing that ensures this video will fail: it does the very thing that young people hate most – it treats them like they are stupid. It makes no cogent argument, overstates the few facts it references, and fails to cite experts or personalities a young person could relate to.  For an organization that spends 80% (!!!) of its budget on advocacy and communicating its agenda one would have thought they’d have a more refined strategy.

Thankfully, they don’t.

Healthcare innovation

m2graphicThis link (via Gayle D.) is pure awesome. Turns out someone has decided to offer prescription drugs via an ATM. For policy wonks, this has all the hallmarks of a disruptive innovation.

I suspect that in the pharmaceutical industry the 80/20 rule is in effect. That being 80% of  patients are using only 20% of the available drugs. So a small number of drugs account for the vast majority of all prescriptions filled. That means you could service a huge part of the market with only a handful of drugs on hand.

This is precisely what this ATM for drugs allows you to do. Moreover, it allows you to do it faster, cheaper and with a better experience for customers. That is precisely what a disruptive innovation is.

Indeed, you can see the early signs of its disruptive nature in the way it is being talked about.

The Canadian Pharmacists’ Association has endorsed the machine, but it appears oblivious to the machine’s implications (despite the very clear case study of the decline of bank tellers after the introduction of ATMs – although perhaps the idea of pharmacists comparing themselves to bank tellers is so threatening that they ignored that data):

Some pharmacists will undoubtedly feel threatened by the technology, says Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists’ Association.

But he predicts the machines will have only a niche role, likely in remote communities that have limited pharmacy services, since the devices offer patients a “lesser” form of communication with the druggist.

“I tend to think the face-to-face encounter with the pharmacist would win hands down,” he said.

Niche role? I suppose, if you count 80% of the pharmacy business as niche. I suspect this service will take off – and we’ll need fewer pharmacists. On the flip side, the pharmacists we keep will have to very good since they’ll be focused on the more dangerous, complicated and difficult prescriptions – which really is the best use of their time.

What about people’s alleged preference for face-to-face encounters? Perhaps this is a preference. But how strong is that preference? For me, it isn’t so strong that I’m willing to hang around in the pharmacy for 30 minutes while my prescription is being filled, or worse, to come back they next day. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of us will use the ATMs – just like we do at the bank.

Indeed, the president of the company that creates the ATMs for drugs – who is quoted later in the article – knows what’s really going on:

Just over 800 patients used the machines at Sunnybrook to obtain 1,200 prescriptions between June and September. A survey of 108 of them indicated that more than 95% received their drug in less than five minutes and would use PharmaTrust again, said Peter Suma, president of PCA. None of the prescriptions was incorrectly filled, he said.

Not everyone, however, was able to take advantage of the pharmaceutical ATMs. About a third of patients who tried discovered that their medicine was not available, said Dr. Domb, though PCA offers to deliver those orders to the patient’s home the next day.

Despite such limitations, Mr. Suma predicts his kiosks will be embraced by consumers accustomed to instant, technologically aided service, especially when the devices are “deployed ubiquitously.”

95% satisfaction rate? This technology is killer. And check out the different perspectives of the two quotes.

On the one hand, the industry expert and entrenched actor (the pharmacists association executive director) believes the ATMs will be restricted to a niche market (such as rural markets). In contrast, the disruptor (the president of PCA) sees these machines as being “deployed ubiquitously.”

They can’t both be right.

What pollution in the final frontier says about us



I’ve always thought that if you want to understand how something is going to affect a system, it is sometimes helpful to look at a system that is fragile or extreme.

This image, created by the European Space Agency, depicts all known objects – functioning and dead – in orbit around earth. The size of an object corresponds to its actual density data, but (obviously) not to scale. Interestingly, every year we add 200 objects to this image, and that’s not counting the thousands of pieces that are created whenever any two objects collide.  There are currently 17,000 known pieces of space debris larger than 10 cm and an estimated 10,000 pieces smaller than 10 cm.

What I find fascinating about this image is how it demonstrates that even in the vastness of space our failure to recycle and not plan for obsolescence leaves us with tens of thousands of pieces of space junk whirling around above us. That may sound harmless but understand that a piece of metal the size of a bolt, flying at the expected speed of 36,000kmph (or 21,600 mph) has the kinetic energy of a 400-lb safe traveling at 60 mph. Needless to say, such an object slamming into a satellite, or worse, a space station, could generate some pretty dramatic results. Indeed, there was a real fear last week that this was about to happen.

We need a whole new way of managing what we create, to engineer it to from cradle to cradle, both up in space and of course, down here on earth.

An International Baccalaureate Growth Strategy

I recently ran into a teacher from my high school who has been active in the advancement and growth of the International Baccalaureate program (IB). I participated in the IB program – as a certificate, not a diploma candidate – I believe it was a great experience. The program was demanding and interesting.  Equally important, it helped prepare me more effectively for university.

The encounter – and the conversation – got me thinking about how IB should plan its expansion. Clearly one option is that it could expand in a uniform manner – pitching itself to districts in a more or less uniform manner. This is not their approach, and nor should it be. The fact is, some places in North America are going to be more receptive to IB than others. One option would be concentrating resources in places where the ground is most fertile and where success more readily achievable. In its strategic plan however, IB makes it clear that it does not want to only serve an educated elite. Consequentially I would advocate for a two pronged approach. One strategy for places where IB is going to be a relatively easy sell. Another for more hostile environments, where attitudes and resources will be harder to mobilize or change.

The only question remains. How to identify the two regions?

The answer, I believe, could reside in Richard Florida’s creative class maps.

If I were to imagine the type of parent interested in IB, it is likely one that believes in science, wants what is best for their child, has a broad, generally progressive, outlook on the world. They are probably interested in AP, but are even keener on something better. In short, present day IB kids are creative class kids. Their parents recognize the value of a strong education, and can generally afford the extra taxes currently necessary to subsidize such an education. Fortunately, Florida has mapped where the creative class lives in the United States. These maps are essentially demarcate the dividing line between areas that will be receptive and areas that will be more challenging for IB to establish itself. In short, IB should devise a “creative class” strategy and an “elsewhere” strategy. The two areas are likely very different in the questions that will need to be addressed, the allies located and mobilized, and the resources that will need to be marshaled.

(note: apparently IB is big in Texas, something that initially surprised me, but a look at this map suggests that, depending on where the IB schools are located, Texas is indeed fertile ground.)

Internationally, I might use Florida’s spiky world maps such as the one below which denotes patents per 10,000 people by region. The higher the spike, the greater the number of patents and the places where IB can most likely adopt it’s creative class strategy. The valley’s will probably require a different approach.

It would be fascinating to cross reference IB programs against these maps. I suspect there is already a high degree of correlation. Perhaps I’ll ask if they have any maps…

To the victor go the spoils…

A while back some of you may remember that I wrote a blog post called “The Coalition that Never Was” in which I predicted:

a) the coalition would not bring down the government over the next budget

b) Layton, Dion and Harper will likely be gone within 12 months.

There were a few commentators who disagreed and one of them – Scott Ross –  wanted to place a wager over the issue (a). Namely, he believed that by today – the 29th – the coalition would bring down the government and would take office. I took him up on his offer and during subsequent negotiations (over email) the following terms were agreed to and posted in the post’s comments. Specifically:

Ok, after some offline emailing Scott and I have settled on a bet.

Scott is betting that a coalition will bring down the government on the 27th. I’m betting that it won’t.

The bet will be settled on the 28th – because either there will or will not be a new government.

The loser of this (very friendly) bet agrees to put a button linking to the winner’s blog on a prominent part of their website (likely at the top of the blog).

Today, I’m calling to collect… I hope my button can be posted shortly. I believe we agreed on a two week period for the button’s posting. I also think Scott’s been a phenomenal sport – and so am more than happy to drive traffic his way as well.

As for prediction (b) the odds feel longer but I’m still a believer – I think the first budget/coalition debacle fatally weakened pretty much all of the leaders, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Layton and Harper go down this year. I’m willing to take a friendly wager on this one too…

7 things about me. Soon to be 7 things about you.

Both Beltzner and Surman have tagged me with the 7 things meme and, to quote Beltzner:

“by The Laws of The Internet, I must participate in the latest meme to sweep Planet Mozilla. “

The Rules for This Particular Meme

  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post. (see above)
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post. (see below)
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs. (see below)
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged.

My Seven:

1. I once spent the night in Rome sleeping outdoors at the Circus Maximus.

2. I have never broken a bone…

3. …or thrown a punch (although not necessarily related there is, I believe, some correlation).

4. I’ve only drunk 3 cups of coffee in my entire life (and yes, I grew up in Vancouver…).

5. I live atop of a supermarket and Home Depot (which sounds scary but is actually quite convenient).

6. A long, long, long time ago, I sung on a childrens record.

7. And once, while walking at at 5400M (17,500 ft), I was passed by a guy smoking a cigarette… (not a proud moment, but in my defense he was a local)

Seven people who are now “it”

  1. Taylor Owen, whose blog has still less levity than mine
  2. Mark Kuznicki, who loves all things webby
  3. Stephen Johnson, who is wicked smart and is on a book tour so may find this fun for his audiences…
  4. Michael Anton Dila, who has so much free time :)
  5. Alexandra Samuel or Rob Cottingham, I’m sure one will read this, the other will blog it.
  6. Sameer Vasta, for being an all round cool guy.
  7. Marc Laporte, because TikiWiki should feel the love too.

My work here is done.

Why can't my computer and stereo system talk to one another?

Sorry for the scarcity of posts. I been a little distracted by vacation and, more to the point, I’m in the middle of moving… weirdly time consuming.

Very excited about my new place but have discovered that there is a simple item that I cannot seem to buy that would make it nicer still.

I, like many people, stopped using my CDs about 5 years ago. I scanned my hundreds of CDs into my hard drive and have been an MP3 listener ever since. Probably like many others, my computer (either desktop or laptop) is not located near my TV/stereo equipment (geek that I am, even I don’t keep a computer in the living room) so what I’d really like is an easy way to play music from my laptop through my stereo system. I imagine this mythical computer/stereo interface would be wireless – or maybe it broadcasts via an fm frequency… but however it might work, I’m confident that there is demand.

So when I walked into Best Buy the other day and asked the stereo people if something like this existed they stared at me blankly as though I’d suggested I needed a stereo system that might work on Mars. I find it interesting that there isn’t a solution to this problem that a Best Buy sales guy doesn’t know that answer too. Is it more complicated than I think?

Most likely the stereo companies and computer companies simple don’t talk that much… it’s too bad, because I’m sure there is a good sized market for this.

Okay, more serious posts to come tomorrow.

on snow

From an im message I sent this morning:  my views on snow. I think it encapsulates Vancouverites position on the issue:

Snow should be like grandchildren. Fun, playful and always a car ride away.

I supposed given my age, I should say snow should be like nieces and nephews…

You can ignore eaves.ca today. It is going to be nothing my mindless fun. Not that it matters much, the hit counter is way down, which is as it should be on Christmas Eve.

Sean Yo just sent me a link of Merb and ruby merging. Hoping to blog about it shortly.

It's called Rockband and I lay down some mad drumming beats

(It’s been a good, but long hard week – here’s something fun to close out the week and kick off the weekend)

I remember first hearing about Guitar Hero back in 2003 (I believe). A friend of mine was visiting his friend who happened to be a video game reviewer and had an early edition of the game. He said it was the most fun he’d had in a long time… and I thought he was crazy. I was thinking, no one is going to play this game.

Could I have been more wrong? Probably not.

I’ve just returned from Ottawa and Toronto where friends in each town have Rockband and I’ll admit, I’m hooked. Trust me, this is both a video game AND the salvation for rock and roll. It’s like karaoke on steroids. Everybody thinks they are going to hate it, and everybody ends up loving it. The secret is that they’ve found gateway songs and instruments to get people hooked.

Take me for instance. I, and I suspect many others, was initially a Rockband snob. I preferred the drums (delusional in believing they were somehow more “real” than the guitar – a thought I haven’t completely let go of). Heck I’m still way to “cool” to pick up the mic (and nobody wants to hear me sing, trust me). But I did pick up the guitar for the first time the other day – so I believe the “drums” may just be a gateway instrument to get us snobs hooked on the game at which point we eventually crossover and experiment with other instruments…

Either way, I’m hooked. And, there are about 15 classic 80’s and 90’s rock songs I haven’t even thought about in years (some of which I never really cared for) that are now rattling around in my head. Am I thinking about getting on itunes and buying them? Well… er… (cough)… maybe… yes.

Consider yourself warned. You may think you’re above Rockband. Trust me, you’re not.