Cloud Expo Asia 2013

Dear all,

I would like to draw your attention to the upcoming Cloud Expo Asia 2013, held from 13-14 Nov 2013 at Suntec Exhibition Centre, Singapore.

I am actually invited to speak at this event but unfortunately, I have reservist duties during that period (I am Singaporean) so I will have to give this invitation a miss.

Nevertheless, the programme agenda looks pretty robust and more importantly, the event is free (due to a grant from IDA) so if you are interested in a free, robust educational programme on Cloud, feel free to sign-up for Cloud Expo Asia 2013 at http://www.cloudexpoasia.com/

New advanced computing institute to tackle big problems

Interesting news pertaining to Big Data from The Seattle Times, enjoy 🙂

The University of Washington and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are forming a new enterprise, the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, to tackle a wide range of the world’s most vexing issues – from the causes of disease to how climate change will impact the planet.

The institute is designed to find ways to mine the huge amounts of data generated every day by scientific instruments and household electronics, said Doug Ray, associate director of Richland-based PNNL, in a release.

Ray said researchers at the new institute will tackle ‘big data’ to help improve the quality of life, taking on the most pressing problems facing science and society.

For example, new computational techniques can help design a smart electric grid system, and better analysis of biological data can help determine the cause of diseases. Computer modeling can be used to explore climate change impacts. Cellphone data could even be analyzed and used to find ways to decrease idling traffic.

At the institute, UW and PNNL researchers will jointly explore advanced computer system designs, accelerate data-driven scientific discovery and improve computational modeling and simulation. It will also become a training ground for future researchers.

“The new center is fundamentally about methodology,” said the UW’s Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and engineering and director of the UW eScience Institute.

“’Big data’ is transforming the process of discovery in all fields,” he said. “UW and PNNL have significant and complementary strengths; together we’ll be able to do amazing things.”

The institute, which will be headquartered in the UW’s Seig Hall, will be led by UW electrical engineering chair and Applied Computational Engineering Lab director Vikram Jandhyala and PNNL fellow Moe Khaleel, who directs PNNL’s Computational Science and Mathematics research division.

Last year, the UW generated a buzz in the computer science world when it hired four computer-science superstars to join the faculty.

Steps to make a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer

It appears that a bunch of computational engineers, lead by Professor Simon Cox (the full team is acknowledged here) at the University of Southampton have built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego (yes, you didn’t read wrongly. Lego).

The supercomputer is  named “Iridis-Pi”, runs off a single 13 Amp mains socket and uses MPI(Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes (using Ethernet). The entire system apparently cost under £2,500 (excluding switches) and has a total of 64 processors with  1Tb of memory (16Gb SD cards for each Raspberry Pi). The free plug-in ‘Python Tools for Visual Studio’ was used to develop code for the Raspberry Pi.

Interested in building your own Raspberry Pi Supercomputer? Well, the full documentation and guide can be found here.

Accenture and AT&T Launch Medical Imaging Solution

Helps Hospitals Access Medical Images and Doctors Collaborate

CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and AT&T* have launched a new medical imaging solution that will enhance the capabilities of health professionals and radiologists to electronically share, review and store medical images, such as X-rays and CT or MRI scans, through AT&T technologies.

The Accenture Medical Imaging Solution, enabled by AT&T, can help medical professionals review patient images almost instantly, allow radiologists to see more patients and improve long-term technology costs and profitability. The solution can also enable national hospital networks to centrally manage medical images and collaborate efficiently with other institutions, physicians and radiologists.

The Accenture Medical Imaging Solution will be offered to U.S. hospitals and support the following capabilities:

  • Workflow Analysis and Enablement – The Accenture benefit assessment and optimization analysis is a process that helps hospitals and other care providers connected by this solution to share their capacity for storing medical images and information. The offer includes features that can help hospitals efficiently manage radiology services.
  • Teleradiology Exchange – The Accenture exchange will help to match supply and demand of radiology facilities and services. This can provide community-based hospitals with access to radiology services from medical centers, enabled by AT&T’s network and cloud hosting capabilities.
  • Long-Term Image Management – The AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management solution, a vendor-neutral,cloud-based service, helps providers to store, access, view and share patient medical images from virtually anywhere over a highly-secure infrastructure. The pay-as-you-go storage pricing helps providers to store medical images easily and avoid costly capital investment in storage infrastructure.

“Access to an accurate, cost-effective diagnosis will significantly improve all aspects of health delivery,” said Derek Danois, who leads medical imaging for Accenture Health. “Healthcare IT is an integral link in connecting clinical decisions and enabling an insight driven healthcare system.”

“Accenture’s systems integration experience coupled with AT&T’s cloud-based technologies means hospitals can have virtually real-time access to medical images while reducing healthcare costs,” said Randall Porter, assistant vice president, AT&T ForHealth.

Medical imaging management is one of the health industry’s biggest challenges, and providers increasingly are turning to cloud-based solutions. Roughly 73 percent of healthcare organizations plan to shift imaging data storage to the cloud, in some capacity, while 32 percent actively use some form of cloud solutions today, according to an Accenture study. The shift from analog to digital images has resulted in exponential growth in the amount of data that must be stored.

Original article can be found here

HTML5 code could replace Windows applications

Interesting insights from V3.co.uk on the next generation standards – HTML 5

HTML5 could soon allow any kind of application to run inside a browser, enabling developers to build software that runs across virtually any platform, according to Microsoft’s Paul Cotton, who also co-chairs the W3C HTML5 working group.

Cotton said in an interview with V3.co.uk that there was no reason why browser-based apps built with HTML5 should not match the experience of native Windows applications in the future, even for graphics-intensive software.

Such applications, being built around web standards, could run on any platform or system, whether a Windows PC, a Mac or a mobile device running Android or Apple’s iOS, allowing developers to target a much wider market.

“Not only are the specs moving in that direction, but I think that some of the things browsers are putting into their environment are moving in that direction as well,” Cotton said.

He cited products such as Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, which already delivers “a pretty rich set of applications that work reasonably well”, as an indication of what future business applications may look like.

However, Cotton said that there is a dearth of developer tools to build HTML5 applications, and that this would have to change before web apps can reach their full potential.

“I don’t think something like Adobe Flash is going to go away soon. Until the marketplace gives us a rich set of HTML5 development tools, [developers] will continue to march to the place that gives them the best tooling,” he said.

Graduate Students Create Recyclable Laptop

Creativity in Green, now that is a topic that constantly excites me.

I chanced up a blog entry titled “Graduate Students Create Recyclable Laptop” at Chronicle.com and the idea further extending the lifespan of the average laptop has been demonstrated  by graduate students from Stanford and Aalto University.

I think while the demonstration from their prototype is interesting (and I think it is a great idea they have), the goal the industry should try to achieve is establishing a common set of standards.

Lets look at the desktop industry, consumers have long enjoyed the ability to self-assemble a customized workstation of their choice / preference and the ability to replace or upgrade specific components if so desired.

Of course, this will be a long journey ahead (as will the concept be in healthcare informatics and technology) but I think best of breed is the way to go. The pie is big enough for everyone so why no strive to be the best in what we do as opposed to attempting world domination? (remember, the aim should always be patient safety and better care at lower cost).

A new laptop designed by students may not self-destruct in 30 seconds, but it can be disassembled in about that amount of time, which makes it easier to safely dispose of when it’s time to throw it out.

A group of seven graduate students, from Stanford University and Finland’s Aalto University, created a prototype of a recyclable laptop as a project for a corporate-sponsored mechanical-engineering class.

The invention, called the Bloom laptop, is made mostly of materials that can be recycled alongside ordinary household items, like metal, plastic, and glass. Materials like LCD screens and circuit boards, which need to be sent to specialized recycling facilities, can be easily separated in a few steps.

“I think where the group really nailed it on the head is where they tried to understand how to modify consumer behavior in a way that would promote green thinking,” said John Feland, who leads the Stanford class involved in the project. “If the design of the computer involves the consumer in the process of changing the environment, it becomes easier for people to do the right thing.”

The group was one of 10 teams in the Stanford engineering design class that received a challenge from a corporate sponsor, Autodesk. The company wanted a completely recyclable consumer-electronics product. However, the choice of the product was completely up to the students.

Aaron Engel-Hall, a Stanford mechanical-engineering graduate student and one of the group members, said making that decision took nearly nine months for the group. Through testing, the group discovered that it took them an average of 45 minutes and 120 steps to dismantle an ordinary laptop.

The students were also intrigued by the relatively short life of a laptop, averaging around two years, since that short life span increased the pace that waste entered the environment. These discoveries, Mr. Engel-Hall said, inspired the group to focus their attention on simplifying the laptop deconstruction process by designing pieces that could slide or snap apart, resulting in an end-product that Mr. Feland calls “where origami meets electronic engineering.”

In addition to encouraging recycling of old laptops, Mr. Feland said the Bloom design could also be both a more economical and greener laptop in other ways. The design makes it easier for consumers to replace the parts themselves, rather than scrap it if something goes wrong, he said.

Mr. Feland acknowledged that there are some minor technical hurdles in the design that need to be overcome before it can be produced for a wider market—such as the prototype’s size and weight.

The design has yet to be embraced by any laptop manufacturers, but all of the ideas are openly available through Autodesk’s Web site. Mr. Feland said corporate-sponsored classes have been a part of Stanford for 45 years, because they allow students to work on solutions for real problems companies are facing with the opportunity to experiment and fail—a luxury he said the real world doesn’t provide.

 

Card Trick Leads to New Bound on Data Compression

An article from TechnologyReview examines how “a magician’s card trick has prompted a mathematical re-evaluation of the limits on data compression”. That my friends is the amazing ability of creativity 🙂

Here’s a card trick to impress your friends. Give a deck of cards to a pal and ask him or her to cut the deck, draw six cards and list their colours. You then immediately name the cards that have been drawn.

Magic? Not quite. Instead, it’s the next best thing: mathematics. The key is to arrange the deck in advance so that the sequence of the card colours follows a specific pattern called a binary De Bruijn cycle. A De Bruijn sequence is a set from an alphabet in which every possible subsequence appears exactly once.

So when a deck of cards meets this criteria, it uniquely defines any sequences of six consecutive cards. All you have to do to perform the trick is memorise the sequences.

Usually these kinds of tricks come about as the result of some new development in mathematical thinking. Today, Travis Gagie from the University of Chile in Santiago turns the tables. He says that this trick has led him to a new mathematical bound on data compression

Gagie achieves this new bound by considering a related trick. Instead of pre-arranging the cards, you shuffle the pack and then ask your friend to draw seven cards. He or she then lists the cards’ colours, replaces them in the pack and cuts the deck. You then examine the deck and say which cards were drawn.

This time you’re relying on probability to get the right answer. “It is not hard to show that the probability of two septuples of cards having the same colours in the same order is at most 1/128,” say Gagie.

He goes on to consider the probability of correctly predicting the sequence of cards pulled at random from a deck of a certain size and after a few extra steps, finds a lower bound on the probability of doing this correctly.

This turns out to be closely related to various problems of data compression and leads to a lower bound than has been found by any other means.

“We know of no previous lower bounds comparable to [this one],” he says.

That’s impressive, a really neat trick in itself.

Researchers use light from LEDs to send data wirelessly

I picked this article up from Computerworld.com and I think its exciting news – fast data transfer (230Mbit/sec) using visible light from commercial light-emitting diodes.

Computerworld – Light coming from lamps in your home could eventually be used to encode a wireless broadband signal, according to German researchers.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications at the Heinrich-Hertz Institute in Berlin experimented with using visible light from commercial light-emitting diodes to carry data wirelessly at speeds of up to 230Mbit/sec.

Research into wireless data communications using LEDs has been going on for years, but the 230Mbit/sec. speed is considered a record when using a commercial LED, according to the Optical Society of America, an organization for optics professionals.

It could also be a potential answer to the shortage of radio spectrum bemoaned by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and others, optical communications researchers say.

One of the German researchers on the project, Jelena Vucic, said there would be an advantage in using light to carry data over Wi-Fi or another system because the lights are already in a room. Her group’s findings will be presented at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference on March 25 in San Diego.

A signal from an LED is generated by slightly flickering all the lights in unison at a rate millions of times faster than the human eye can detect, the OSA statement said. Commercial LEDs have a limited bandwidth of a few megahertz, but Vucic’s team was able to increase the amount tenfold by filtering out all but the blue part of the LED spectrum. The team built a visible wireless system in their lab to download data at 100Mbit/sec. and then upgraded the system to get 230Mbit/sec. Vucic said the team should be able to double the data rate again with some modulation adjustments.

In 2008, a separate team of U.K. researchers also explored using visible-light LEDs for wireless communications.

Sending data over fiber-optic cable at enormous speeds has been going on for decades. However, taking data transmission to an open environment such as a living room over light from a lamp would be an enormous step, and a challenging one, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates.

Gold said the German research seems to show data transmission via light only in one direction and only in one room. In comparison, Wi-Fi and other radio transmissions are bidirectional and can pass through walls.

One practical concern in using visible wireless would be getting the data signal to the light itself, Gold said.

Ramblings: SingLive 2009 – Day One

Phew, what a long day! I woke up at 6am just to beat the traffic jam (even though I am not driving today) to the exhibition centre – Suntec City Convention Hall for SingLive 2009.

The day got an exciting start (although I will not comment too much on it) and remained extremely busy throughout with not only queries from delegates who are interested in cardiology informatics (scheduling, cardiovascular information system and cardiology PACS) and product demonstration (I think I did 7 demos while my clinical analyst did even more. I got the thumbs up from her on my ‘demo skills’ though, the feeling was extremely rewarding as I am a technical marketing product manager, not clinical 🙂  I guess the late nights fiddling with an end-user manual in front of a demo workstation paid off)

In addition, I had several colleagues who flew in from China for this event (yup, that’s how famous SingLive is) to support us as there are numerous delegates from China (amidst several  countries).

Of course, the best part is still the networking. Catching up with old friends who move on to different companies while making new ones sparked off several collaboration potentials as well as marketing opportunities – I’m a firm believer of creating a win-win situation. I reckon if you help enough people, they will return the favor when you really need it. Worked extremely well for me so far 🙂

So in all it was a long and tiring day but the good news is that while other big modality vendors are not exhibiting this year due to budget issue, my company (well, the one I work for) remained not only robust but drew in more interest than ever! Feels good to be (an important) part of the winning team 🙂 🙂

Interestingly, a conversation with a friend working in a large famous medical grade provider (starts with a B, no prizes for guessing the correct answer though) commented on the large market potential of a side ‘business’ that I have been trying to get a partner with.

It ached alittle as I see numerous commercial opportunities on this aspect every other day but keep having to turn it away as the partner I’ve identified wanted to hold on the discussion till April. (But I guess they have their rights). The good news I have on this? Well I am now thinking of Plan B to capture these opportunities 🙂

Still tune for more on Singlive 2009 – Day Two and this side ‘business’ idea of mine 🙂

Dell, Intel, Motion Computing join for healthcare IT app

This is good news, in fact, I’m rather excited about it.

Dell, Intel and Motion Computing (which is Intel) have jointly launched a new service to assess, design and validate the quality and coverage of wireless networks for healthcare information workflow.

As rambled before, this is what you get when you have the IT giants entering the healthcare informatics arena – accelerating the proper utilisation of effective computing and cutting edge technology 🙂

“The new Mobile Point of Care (MPOC) Wireless Assessment service enables healthcare customers to assess whether their wireless network is reliable and can provide 100 percent coverage and 24/7 access to patient information. The service provides wired and wireless network analysis, design and validation”

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