Sunday, January 31, 2010

5 Cool Drink Ideas

We are a liquid consuming culture. When you sit at a traffic light just take a look at that car next to you. If they aren't holding a cell phone, chances are its a Starbucks. Let's toast five cool drink ideas:

#1: The Skinny Vanilla Latte -- Probably the greatest Starbuck's invention. Coming in at around 90 calories for a Tall and 0 grams of fat this really is a good deal on the beverage front. Not wanting it to be too healthy I usually opt for the Venti and add a little carcinogen (one Sweet-n-Low).

#2: The Venturi Wine Aerator -- My associate Linda Timmerman raves about this device. I'm not sure I believe it can turn a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck into a Caymus Cab but anything with that good of a 4 and 5 star rating can't be bad. (

#3: The Sigg: Ok, not the hand gun -- this is the all metal eco-friendly Swiss made water bottle ( Not only do you look cool, but its a great way to keep plastic out of our landfills.

#4: Teavana: This is my addiction. Taking after my mother who is an avid tea drinker, I normally drink at least 32 ounces per day and almost all of it from Teavana. With wild and fruity flavors like Caribbean Breeze and a generous number of red Rooibos teas you can mix and match these like a mad scientist. And as long as you brew according to the recommended times it almost always tastes great. Probably the biggest lesson here is the Teavana brew pot -- loose tea and water in the top, filtered tea at the bottom right in your cup.

#5: Tito's Handmade Vodka: From the Mockingbird Distillery in Austin, Texas this crystal clear elixir has eclipsed its competitors. If you don't believe me, just go into your neighborhood Centennial Liquor and look at which vodka (from the hundreds) is missing from the shelves. Rumored to have started out in a garage as a vodka that "women would want to drink" it has quickly become my vodka of choice and the price is right too.

Drink up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPhone Increases Patient Satisfaction

Ok, this isn't by any stretch a scientific study. But let's think about it for a moment: when was the last time you were happy while waiting to see your doctor?

When I was a kid of course we were doomed to the eternal germ infested copy of Southern Living or Car & Driver that had been donated by the local physician (identified by the Sharpie covered mailing label). Residency brought the AA battery driven casino game. But now we have the iPhone!

Today, not to say that this is typical (some of my staff might argue), but I ran a little behind in my schedule. A little....might be 40 minutes. But before I get labeled as one of those doctors who think "my time is more important" than my patients, I really do try to stay on schedule...but that's a topic for another blog entry.

I noticed today in an informal observation that patients who had an iPhone were consistently more happy and patient while sitting in a paper gown than those with other kinds of phones, particularly the non-smart phone crowed.

iPhone users were busily sliding their finger through apps ranging from Bejeweled to TweetDeck. Blackberry users were a close second, but most of them seemed to be preoccupied with being away from the office...that is, they were working while sitting in the paper gown.

I was quite proud of my observation and would recommend to any prospective patient that there is no better way to wait than using the mindless energy consuming bandwidth of AT&T with your iPhone.

I did mention this to a patient at the end of the day, and he smartly remarked that I might need to be careful. The next app might just be a waiting room timer. Not what I wanted to hear.

Monday, January 25, 2010

MOOve on over traditional business cards!

I'm always excited to find new products and services, particularly those that turn an old product into something that is more practical and exciting. That is exactly what does to the outdated business card.

This European-come-to-America company is creating exciting new products including "mini cards." These small cards can be passed to include information such as your website name or your Twitter or FaceBook ID.

I would encourage you to check this company out as an interface between electrons and parchment. I've copied some info from their website -- let me know what you think:

MOO is a new kind of printing busines

There are now more than a billion people online, many using the internet to engage in some kind of social activity. Over 4 petabytes of unique virtual content is generated a month, and in case you're not sure, that's quite a lot.

There's virtual communication like email, instant message or video. People belong to virtual communities like social networks, image sharing or interest groups. And in these communities they use virtual identities to share virtual content: writing, photography, design, music, video... Sometimes, we think life is just a little too virtual.

MOO dreams up new tools that help people turn their virtual content into beautiful print products for the real world.
Our Products and why we make them
Look familiar?

Handing out our contact details, the old way. It wasn't pretty. Really.
MOO MiniCards

Handing out our contact details via MOO. It's nicer. People call back.

All of the staff at MOO have active online social lives - not for work, just for fun. We love the web. Over half of us have our own website, or blog, and pretty much all of us share our photos online with our friends.

Our first product, MiniCards, came about when we realized that sometimes, we wanted to hand out details of our personal sites, and we just didn't have a nice way to do it. A business card was too cheesy, too serious, or too... businessy, and didn't represent us the way we really are. A hastily scribbled piece of paper is more personal, but who ever has paper or a pen when you want it? We needed something else.

So we made MiniCards. Little cards - about half the size of a business card - with your own photos, designs and text on. Made in boxes of 100 with the option of having a different image on every one.

We launched them into the big wide world towards the end of 2006, and now you can get them through a variety of MOO partner community sites, or by uploading your images directly to MOO. Don't have images of your own? Don't worry, we thought of that too.

Our other products are developed in the same way. As people with a lot of content online, we love the chance to take it offline again and hold it in our hands. To put it in our pockets, and hand it out to friends.

We make products we like and want to use, and we really hope you feel the same way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fredricksburg Weather: I just can't believe we are having high 70's today as we make our way to Hondo's for some eclectic central Texas food.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sky Helicopters Training video featuring me!

Check out this latest informational video from Sky Helicopters in Dallas, Texas that features yours truly. Sky Helicopters is located at the Garland/DFW Heliport and is a great place to learn to fly. The DFW airspace offers complexity but also beautiful skylines, and the people at Sky are friendly, professional, and great teachers. I couldn't say more about this organization. Here's the video (Note: No student pilots were harmed or injured in anyway in the making of this production):

Monday, January 18, 2010

Top Ten Technology Tidbits 2009

Just finished an interesting PC Magazine article on the top 10 most influential technological advances over the last decade. It got me to thinking: what would be on my list over the last year? Here it goes:

1. The Kindle -- without a doubt, my favorite Christmas present. Being able to read multiple books at the same time while traveling, reading the New York Times on Sunday without getting out of bed, and buying-on-the-go make this a great addition to my electronic gadget chest.

2. Twitter -- I know, I know: cheesy. But even though as technology goes I might be a late comer, this has truly been revolutionary. I no longer read the CNN and FOX sites for news. And, what a fun way to keep up at conventions and meetings. I owe a big thanks to Steve Levine at TMA for turning me on to tweeting.

3. The iGo Charger -- Ever since the 10 days spent in Austria last summer, traveling with a single charger for everything from iPhone to computer to iPod (and now to Kindle), the iGo has been my companion. Kind of expensive as far as chargers go, but the convenience of using one plug for everything (and it converts European voltage as well) is awesome.

4. Photoshop Lightroom2 -- I have always been a Photoshop fan, but as the generations of this great product have evolved, they've left me in the dust -- along with many who don't possess a degree from the Art Institute. Anyway, most of the improvements on images are common, and that's where Lightroom2 excels. Simple interface, database storage, and convenient output make this my top photographic tool on my laptop.

5. Mozilla Firefox -- I don't like to change things. In fact, I still use the same shaving cream I've used for 30 years. So why would I change internet browsers? The stability and usability of Mozilla Firefox blows IE away. Very cool.

6. Camtasia Studio6 -- If you do any presentations or seminars, being able to convert that presentation into a reusable product is very practical. In the past that meant recording PowerPoint presentations using the record function within PowerPoint. Camtasia Studio6 will make your presentations look like Oliver Stone was involved in the production.

7. Yoostar -- Technically one of the kid's Christmas presents, I've been able to play along with them. You can see one of our productions on this blog.

8. The webcam -- Although this has been around for a number of years, I never used this device until recently. Cathryn taught me how to use it, and I've been fascinated ever since. She is capable of making it rain, growing horns, and creating bubbles during her Skype phone calls -- I'm limited to slow frame rate videos at present but I'm learning.

9. The iPhone -- I was a confirmed crackberry addict having used up three of these phones in the last three years. But the iPhone, being part pocket computer and media player, has changed the way I use my phone. The apps are user friendly and mind consuming. Within a few finger swipes I can read my Twitter downloads, make a reservation on OpenTable, and check the aviation weather at the Mesquite Airport on AirWX -- not to mention update my FaceBook status. No wonder 5% of the AT&T cell phone users who have iPhones use 50% of the bandwidth. I'm guilty. Meetings just seem to pass faster.

10. Sodastream -- Ok, ok. Maybe its not really technology. But this little gadget is way cool. It allows you to make soda at home in virtually any flavor. The kids have become regular soda jerks. Dad is addicted as well and it has way less sugar and aspartame. Plus, I have an endless supply of Diet Coke.

That's my list. What's yours?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The newest addition to our family: Kindle

My Christmas gift this year that is turning out to be my favorite is the Kindle electronic book.

Not only is it easier to hold in bed when I'm reading, but by adjusting the font size and words per line, I can almost "speed read". Plus being able to find a new book and have it to read in 60 seconds is just genius.

So far no flaws on my end. I would love to hear what people think about their Kindle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Obama's Pickle

President Obama has found himself in quite a pickle concerning health system reform.

After visiting several members of Congress yesterday, mostly Democrats, its apparent that there is no broad consensus on the final outcome of the Bill.

From the beginning it appeared the President was going to capitalize on his booming popularity and the majorities in both houses of Congress. When you combine that with the back slapping endorsements from the physician trade group (the AMA), the hospitals, and big pharma -- before they even had a chance to discuss the components of the bill -- it seemed like a slam dunk.

But, oh what a mess we find ourselves in. First and foremost is the tenuous nature of the Democratic majority. The first attempt at HSR in the House was a modest Bill, some problems, but tolerable from a patient care standpoint. It passed with a few vote margin but likely could have been more with some arm twisting from the Speaker. Several D's were allowed to vote "no" in an effort to pander to their conservative base in an election year.

Then the Senate creates their own bill: a monster that reorganizes modern health care delivery, provides no increased provider incentive, and creates a "block grant" type funding mechanism with the IMAC proposal. The IMAC, or "Independent Medical Advisory Committee", is especially worrisome. In effect, Congress would defer funding decisions for Medicare to an independent board appointed by the President allowing Congress to be "off the hook" in future budget cuts.

The other problem is the doctors. The AMA for many years has not been the "voice" of the practicing physician. With membership numbers vague, but probably hovering around 17%, this organization makes its income from product sales and services. So their endorsement was a hollow ring for most physicians. They put their eggs in the basket of a fix in the funding mechanism (the SGR, or Sustainable Growth Rate formula) which was denied by the Senate. They told their membership they needed to keep a "seat at the table" -- but that's not happening -- more about that later.

So now the decision is being made by Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. The current conventional political wisdom is that we will find ourselves with a bill that looks mostly like that one from the Senate. But it remains to be seen if the House can stomach the proposals and if Pelosi can hold her troops together.

Getting the 218 votes in the House from just the Democrats might be more difficult than if he had worked on a bipartisan piece of legislation from the beginning. I just can't help believing that we would have ended up with some remarkable health care reform if the President had worked more closely with the Republicans.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I was amazed this week to review the concept of "mechanical turks" from Briefly, Amazon has created a scalable human workforce that is accessible from the web in individual units. Mostly useful for highly repetitive tasks and web based activities, it allows you to post a project and have it completed by workers from around the globe.

From someone who dabbles consulting in the area of emerging technologies, this is an exciting concept. Sure, there have been others who have attempted to match "service-based" (rather than product-based) projects with workers -- eLance being one of the first -- but no one has been as progressive as Amazon. There has been, and for the foreseeable future will be, a gap between electrons and sweat. There are just some projects that require a human interface (read: MBA word for "touch").

I'm going to give "mechanical turks" a try and I would love to hear from others who do the same. Check it out at: