Top movies I wish would get released on Blu-Ray

I’m a High-Def nerd. I like my HD satellite TV, HD video games, and Blu-Ray(or HDDVD) HD movies. Unfortunately there are a handful of my favorite movies that don’t exist on blu-ray yet. Can someone make a call and get this fixed? They are:

  • Gladiator
  • Heat
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Fight Club

EDIT (4/3/2010): Saving Private Ryan will be the last of these released on May 4, 2010.  I’m happy to see that I’ve got so much traction with the movie industry 😉

EDIT (12/24/2012): All of these movies are available on blu-ray.  Whoohoo!

Sunday Quick Hits

Here are today’s blogworthy thoughts that I don’t care to write entire articles about

  • My team and I at Geneca finished our B2B auction web application ahead of schedule last week and there was much rejoicing. I had a lot of fun on the project.
  • About two and a half weeks ago now I finished my summer MBA course: Cost Accounting. Man am I glad that’s over.
  • Today I upgraded RedCloth on my rails app to 4.0. Dreamhost didn’t have redcloth installed by default however and to make it work I ended up having to create a gem repository in home directory – it ended up being a real pain in the ass. I mostly followed the instructions on doing so from here:
  • I saw an old post I made last year saying I dropped my yearly hosting costs to $23. Renewal time came around again and without being to use a promo code it costs $119/year. Dreamhost has been pretty good and I don’t feel like shopping around for a new host so I bit the bullet and paid it. ouch.

Criagslit: It works!

My first experience with craigslist this week was a good one. In case you’re not up on the latest trends, craigslist is an online classified advertisement site where it is free to post a classified ad. Its one of the big reasons that the classified section in your newspaper keeps getting smaller and smaller. Anyway, I was trying to sell a fridge. I put the ad up, and not 5 hours later I got a reply from a buyer. He picked up the fridge and paid in cash the same day!

So in case you’re keeping score: Craigslist – 1, Mass-emailing your family – 0

Inside Nuance’s Dictaphone Healthcare Dept, Part 1

This is the story of the Dictaphone FX project – of how it almost was, and how it got canceled – from someone very close to the project (me). I have since been released from Nuance and am now working for a company called Geneca. This article is rather lengthy for me and covers several topics. This is part 1, which covers the business perspective, or ‘Why Nuance canceled the project and laid me off’. Part 2 will cover the technical perspective, of ‘What went into FX’.

I will start with the business side. Let me begin by explaining a little about what FX was for, and what Medical Dictation and Transcription is.

At large hospitals (and increasingly at smaller clinics), the facility will create a medical report for every visit you make to the hospital, or for every test done while you are there. Your doctor will make a voice recording of your session, and that recording will get routed via the transcription workflow solution to a Transcriptionist that could be in the next room, or in the Philippians, to get transcribed (The hospital decides the routing). Once transcribed, the report will automatically print out at the hospital and/or get filed into the Hospital’s Electronic Medical Records system (EMR). When speech recognition technology is applied, the document is automatically transcribed and the Transcriptionist becomes an Editor.

Now on with the FX story: “FX” was just a code name. The product had been branded “Dictaphone Powerscribe MDx”, and later re-branded “Dictaphone 360”. This product was to be Dictaphone’s next-generation transcription workflow solution* – the successor to the aging iChart and EXText/EXVoice products. FX addressed all of iChart’s shortcomings, especially in the areas of scalability, reliability, and user-friendliness. It also had a few features which would have made it stand out in the market, including a complex yet intuitive MT & QA job allocation system, support for different QA levels, and a post-release QA grading system.

At the time Nuance announced its intention to aquire EScription, we were 2.5 months away from going to market with FX. The beta was in full swing and the schedule had finally stabilized. Everyone in the Chicago office had been putting extra hours(55+/week) on this project for the better part of a year. I was tired of the long weeks but also excited that the end was in sight. So what happened? Why did Nuance cancel FX?  Honestly, I’m still asking myself that question. The information I have says that Escription has an inferior UI, less features, and an inferior architecture to that of FX. However, Escription’s speech recognition component is supposed to be considerably better. This is personally frustrating to me because while the speech team did work with the FX team, they were managed by different people. If speech is such a critical component and ours was obviously inferior to the competitor, why were we not putting more emphasis on improving it? Alternatively, why could FX not gone to market and then improved the speech system? In the end, as I understand it, it all came down to money. Because the EScription’s product’s profit margins were so high, Nuance could afford to pay them $460 million and still increase the earnings per share by $.01.

EScription’s profit margins are an area that I think needs a little more attention. The Nuance administration talked about Escription having the best profit margins they had ever seen. The charts I saw showed margins in the 45% range, meaning that they made $.45 on every $1 they charged a customer. The business was designed to create great margins, however. They only had around 10 clients, all of which were large hospitals. As anyone in the industry will tell you, there are higher margins to be had at larger hospitals. I have even heard that EScription would turn down smaller clients that did not fit their business model. The point I’m trying to get at here is that these profit margins will not be sustainable as the EScription product takes on more and more customers.

See part 2 of this article for the technical perspective of the ill-fated Nuance FX project.

Class Project Collaboration with a Wiki

In the Operations Management course I just finished, a group project accounted for a third of the grade. My group was given the topic “Toyota Production System / Lean Manufacturing”. I suggested to the group that we use a Wiki to collaborate on the project.

I installed MediaWiki (the same one used by Wikipedia) on my site and off we were. The wiki did not necessarily determine the outcome of the project(which was a success), but it certainly helped streamline the process. In fact, I think I found a new application for Lean principals – Lean Group Project Collaboration!

You can find the results here: OMIS505 Group Project Wiki 

Upsides of Wiki Collaboration
-mobile, accessible repository for keeping research (links and notes)
-gives you the ability to instantly see the latest version of your project (or the outline in our case)
-you can review what changes were made when and by whom, which introduces some accountability into the project

Downsides of Wiki Collaboration
-no mechanism for uploading files (like a powerpoint presentation)

In case you are interested, the final version of our powerpoint is available here:
Group Project Presentation (5MB)

Darned Internet Hackers!

I just got done deleting hundreds of unwanted comments from my gallery software which I can only assume were placed there because of internet hacker bots!

Also, I just realized that my content management system is totally unsecure. If you had the wherewithall I’m sure you could hack my articles up a bazillion ways from Sunday (what does that even mean)?

Things to do:

  1. – disable guest account for photo gallery and force my friends and family members to register & login just to post a comment on some picture.
  2. – secure my website. I must remember the words of Uncle Ben: With Great Power (Ruby on Rails) comes great Responsibility (i.e. the site doesn’t secure itself)!

    Now that I think of it, I actually have an uncle Ben and I’m not sure he’s ever said that.

UPDATE 6/6/2007 My site is now [more] secure! Take that internet hacker bots!

The 4-1-1 on google

Google just rolled out a new free 411 service. You can access this awesome service by dialing 1(800)GOOG-411. It prompts you for City & State, then a business name or type. After selecting the business it will connect you automatically. Never again will I have to look up the number for Little Caesers!

The service is completely automated. It uses speech recognition to figure out what you say and some text to speech processor to give you the results. The best part? I hear it uses Nuance’s Dragon engine for Speech Recognition.

Read more about this service at the following URLs

Ars Technica Article