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Tag Archives: British Broadcasting Corporation
Some sports fans love the unceasing commentator patter that accompanies every televised sporting event. Others find it inane and annoying. Now they can choose for themselves, at least if they’re watching online. The BBC is conducting an experiment where viewers of the Wimbledon online stream can download an application called NetMix. NetMix creates a fader bar with “Court” on one end and “Commentary” that lets them set the balance to their liking.
MobileBeat reports that game developer David Braben has just created a $25 computer that can fit in the palm of your hand. Similar to the idea behind OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), Braben aimed to design a computer for children that would be both affordable and easily distributed around the world. “In theory, they could be given away to the child, there would be other ways of funding it,” Braben told the BBC.
BBC Biochemical, based in Mount Vernon, Wash., is a maker of the stains, reagents, and fixatives used for diagnostic and medical lab testing. The company shares a building and a network and phone system with its sister company, Medical Diagnostic Labs, which collects specimens and performs patient testing. Adrian Biesecker, CEO of BBC, tells IncTechnology.com that a new network and phone system helped the firm better protect patient data while improving customer service and productivity. Elizabeth Wasserman: What does your firm do? Adrian Biesecker: We make the stains, reagents, fixatives, and lots of solvents that are used in testing medical samples. If you go to the doctor to get a mole removed, the doctor puts the piece of tissue in a bottle. They bring that bottle to a lab. The lab runs it with different stains and fixatives and other chemicals used to determine an accurate diagnosis. We make the products that improve the accuracy for many different diagnoses — cancers, tumors, you name it. Wasserman: Your business is located in the same building as a sister company. How does that work? Biesecker: I own BBC Biochemical. My Dad owns Medical Diagnostic Labs. They’re housed under the same roof. Medical Diagnostic Labs is a clinical lab that runs tissue samples and blood culture. All that data has to stay very secure. , There are lots of regulatory agencies that require patient information held close to the heart. HIPAA [the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act] is one such regulation. With the two businesses being on the same network, we needed to make sure we could share results of how our products performed but not share patient information. Being able to be on the same network but only being able to share parts of information was a challenge. Wasserman: How did you address that challenge? Biesecker: We looked at many different options. We looked at many companies but they couldn’t provide the solution that Cisco was able to provide, encompassing everything including network, phone, mobility — all of the great things that we use today. Only one company could come to the table with all the appropriate technology. They were able to separate the information on a network with multiple VLANs to house the phone system across both companies and have it act like separate companies. We have routers here that have VLANs [virtual local area networks] and they keep all the data separate except what we choose to share. We can have multiple networks, subnets on the same router, and you can choose when you want to traverse or cross over to another VLAN. It keeps the information completely separate 24 hours a day until you choose actively to go across the network to get pieces of information that you’re allowed to get. We have to have results on our chemicals and how they perform, but we don’t want to get patient results. We want to know whether the stain we produced is as strong and intense as it should be. We need to keep that data accurate as far as different lots of product. Wasserman: What have the results been? Biesecker: Flawless. We don’t have any problems. With regard to BBC, it used to be we had a phone system where you could page or activate a speaker phone on the other end to see if anyone was there. It often took a long time to find someone and pin them down. With this installation we are able to get people quickly. We have a wireless solution so people can take their phone anywhere in the building. Everyone has to have their “Batphone.” We have many people who don’t just sit at desks and this helps everyone be more productive. It also gave us peace of mind. We don’t have to worry about data leaving the building or leaving the network it’s housed on.
Gadgets Handspring engineers put its latest Treo on a diet. The Treo 600 is 15% smaller than the Treo 300 but has hardly cut bone. The buttons on the Blackberry-like keyboard are larger (though closer together, a heads-up to those with big thumbs), and the new navigational pad allows you to scroll through your address book and dial with a few clicks, instead of futzing with the stylus. A juiced-up processor speeds up everything from surfing to games on this Palm OS 5 device, and talk time has been upped to six hours. Plus, a VGA camera’s been added to send instant postcards or for photo caller ID. You’ll have to spring extra for software to take advantage of the MP3 capability, and we wish Wi-Fi was built in as with some Pocket PCs, but add-on cards are imminent. $500; www.handspring.com. Mark Spoonauer First there was the iPod. Now the portable entertainment ante has just been upped with the RD2780 RCA LYRA Audio/Video Jukebox, which records up to 80 hours of television to view on the crisp 3.5-inch color screen. Connect the LYRA to your TV, and the MPEG-4 encoder records your favorite shows, cable movies, and home videos to its 20 GB hard drive. You can allot some of that storage space to MP3s or digital photos, which can be transferred either via USB 2.0 or Compact Flash slot. Battery life is up to 12 hours for audio, and three hours for video (Gangs of New York, anyone?). At 13 ounces, the RD2780 is certainly not as sleek as the iPod, a trait videophiles might be willing to overlook. $449; www.rca.com. Mark Spoonauer Books Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design, by Henry Petroski (Knopf, 273 pp., $25) Though Henry Petroski is best known for his 400-page history, The Pencil, the Duke engineer’s real love is design. In this new book, he peers closely at some of our most common household objects and explains how they work — or don’t. Why is a round glass superior to a squarish one? Do plastic bags have any advantages over paper sacks? Is the thick-handled Oxo potato peeler really better than the old-style Ekco model? How should a supermarket efficiently organize its shelves? Petroski’s reflections gain much of their charm from his own easygoing personality; he is, after all, the author of a memoir about being a paperboy. In discussing why his Volvo’s cup holder is so poorly designed, he wistfully recalls carhops hooking trays over partially rolled-down windows and confesses, “all engineers delight in the challenge of packing a car trunk.” Not surprising, he observes, “When I give engineering students the option of redesigning any consumer product they wish, they often choose the CD jewel box.” Whether he’s tracing the evolution of the Oral-B toothbrush or explaining why the fastest tollbooth is always the one on the far right, Petroski clearly knows the designs of our times. Michael Dirda CDs 1. It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket (BMG) Jim James may sing like Neil Young, and the rest of the band may play like Crazy Horse, but Louisville’s My Morning Jacket’s songs are lusher, warmer, and more contemporary. It’s the kind of record that makes you want to pick up a pal, choose a direction, and drive until dawn. Rowan West 2. Seal, Seal (Warner Bros.) After a five-year hiatus, Seal is back with his third self-titled record. Is this a return to form? It is if you like soulful, dark-before-the-dawn lyrics sung in a rich voice that’s part darker Lionel Richie and part gruffer Marvin Gaye. The arrangements — impeccably tasteful with a touch of dancefloor synth — are a perfect complement. Rowan West 3. Show Me Your Tears, Frank Black and the Catholics (spinART) Former Pixie Frank Black turns in a tight 12-song collection that rocks, rolls, and occasionally strolls. If the Pixies were arty surf punk, the Catholics are brainy rockabilly, full of hollow guitars and tinkly pianos. Black’s vocal dynamism and flair for melody take you places you haven’t been. Rowan West DVDs The Office (BBC Video, $29.98) Whether you get your office banter via IM or over the water cooler, it’s likely that the BBC’s brilliant series The Office has come up in conversation. The Office follows, mockumentary style, the soul-cauterizing existence of the workers of Wernham Hogg, a grim suburban paper company in constant downsize mode (what the Brits call “redundancies”). Boss David Brent (creator Ricky Gervais) is the prototypical, uninspiring putz with a bad goatee and an even worse sense of humor. He’s surrounded by all the major elements of any modern house of work: the loathsome sycophant, the bitter funnyman, and a couple of hotties — all going nowhere fast. The humor is dry, the laugh track is absent, and the result is the perfect workplace sitcom. DVD EXTRAS: Gervais’s 40-minute doc, How I Made The Office, is worth a spin, as are deleted scenes from the first season and “Slough Slang,” a glossary of the local lingo. Larry Smith