Creative Storytelling in web, iOS, and Film

Articles

Increased Productivity, Courtesy of iOS 6 and Apple

Increased Productivity, Courtesy of iOS 6 and Apple

As Apple’s latest mobile operating system is downloaded by millions, understanding why this is a good thing is a reasonable question to ask. Some people are of the opinion that if Apple updated everyone to a blank screen with zero functionality, millions of fans would still do the sheepish thing and click “download now.” But… not so fast. With only a few hours of public use under its belt, iOS 6 is already proving to be both stable and a big improvement over the previous release. What makes this new OS introduction so valuable is the practical upgrades that have been implemented. The result? You can be more productive with your use of mobile tech – and that really should be the bottom line for any software solution. Here are a few ways in which iOS 6 improves upon its now aged (one year!) predecessor: 1. The VIP inbox The most common use of a mobile operating system is not making calls – it’s texting and email. Apple has added a VIP inbox to its mail app, and what a great idea that is proving to be. Simply add a contact to the VIP list, and anything related to that contact will be filtered and promoted via the VIP list. Think of it as a most important inbox option. So, email from those most important to you will be easily recognized and managed. You can add a contact manually, or you can tap any sender’s name and then choose “add to VIP.” Easy. Cool, too. 2. A smarter Reminders app Now, the Reminders app makes sense. It could still do more, but it is usable now, and that makes it an improvement in our ability to manage time and tasks. In fact, some of the most important improvements relate to prioritizing tasks, rearranging them, and setting tasks that repeat. My favorite improvement is getting a ping reminder when I arrive or depart any location, not just those from my contacts list. So, when I get to the Amtrak station, iOS 6 reminds me to call the office before I get on board. Reminders also syncs with iCloud. Anything that syncs with iCloud is a good thing. And, it’s a bi-directiona l sync, too. As a result, you can add tasks either when signed into iCloud, or when using your phone. Logical. Super cool as well. 3. Siri-powered Facebook and Twitter updates Despite the stock price, Facebook is used by millions on a daily (hourly, even!) basis. Twitter is the new public broadcasting system from you and me, as long as we keep it short and sweet. So, doesn’t it make sense to use Siri to get it done? Now, you can create tweets and FB updates using your voice – and Siri. No more tapping things onto a keyboard while driving (and ultimately crashing) your vehicle. It’s as simple as telling Siri that you want to “update Facebook,”or, “update Twitter.” Important. A potential life saver as...

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Remembering 911

Remembering 911

As we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we’d like to present you with two videos that may help bring some of the aftermath into perspective. Within hours of the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, a cadre of Los Angeles Firefighters (as part of FEMA CA-TF1) were headed to New York. Within a few days, a separate group of LAFD members made their way east at their own expense – and both groups spent time assisting FDNY, as well as those affected. This first video shares the experiences of those who were impacted from Los Angeles on this memorable day. The above video, produced by Cameron and David Barrett, has won numerous awards, and was produced for the LAFD’s remembrance event. This second video offers more detail about the thoughts and memories of LA firefighters, cops, and public servants. It is a bit long, but offers never before seen insight into the events of 9/11/01. Please feel free to share your thoughts as we remember this day of...

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Hosting Is Evolving

Hosting Is Evolving

The emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing has changed the dynamics of hosting and provisioning of Internet services. At some point, the definition of cloud-based hosting will need to evolve. Everyone who has a server hosted in a remote location is, in reality, using a cloud (as defined) service. The real issue that will change hosting over time is virtual hosting. Products such as VMware are providing companies with remarkable flexibility when their Internet requirements vary or change often. At present, developers often benefit the most from a virtual host environment, as they can add or delete clients, create sandbox development sites, and other changes on the fly. Many companies, on the other hand, don’t need to change their server specifications, and as such, virtual hosting is not of immediate importance to them. R/com provides both secure server-based cloud services as well as virtual services. At present, our hosted environment offers both value and security, in a services environment that is made up of three levels of service. The most basic is competitive hosted content. The most advanced includes application management, hardware and software firewall security optimized for the client specifically, as well as off-site backups and mirrors. The dynamics of selecting a hosted solution are pretty basic: what do you offer the public, your internal staff, and external secure partners? From there, a hosting design takes shape pretty quickly. There are some specific benefits to server-based cloud computing. The environment is stable and you control the content and management of the environment – which in turn drives a cost benefit. On average, our server-hosted clients spend 38% less than those who opt for virtual services, as most elements become a la carte when that route is selected. We also ensure that the performance of the environment, meaning the speed of drives, the software used to ensure failed drives don’t interrupt service, and other factors keep our clients websites and services up and running. It’s really important, however, to review those services, and to never be satisfied with the status quo. Things change all the time, and we work with our clients to keep them up-to-date. We ask our clients and partners to bring forward any questions they have about secure hosting and cloud-based services. We’ll talk more about these evolutionary practices as the fall...

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Dealing With False Math

Dealing With False Math

Have you ever experienced the challenge of dealing with something that adds up, but doesn’t? Unemployment is a good example (and this doesn’t relate to any political position). The current unemployment figure, as shared by the Federal Government is at 8.1%. However, that doesn’t take into account those individuals who are unemployed, but not looking for work. As such, it could be argued (and it is) that the figure isn’t accurate. Actually, it is accurate, but only when the parameters for inclusion in the figures are defined. Adults from the ages of 25 to 55 (the majority of the job market) are facing 7.1% unemployment (source: Department of Labor), while those in the 16 – 25 age group are facing 16.8% unemployment (source: Department of Labor). So, it’s when you combine elements, discard other elements, and then sum things up that the unemployment figures start to make sense. This is also true for those of us in business. The concept of “spin” when related to any project can, if not carefully reviewed, position a project or objective toward a misguided or altered result. We support our clients with technology, media, and brand consulting. To do so, we often engage with other third parties that are part of the overall process (new website, new IT infrastructure, new film, new branding, etc.). Overall, this has traditionally been a positive, collaborative process. These days, we’re seeing more “false math” relative to the need of our clients than ever before. And because companies are doing more with less (especially staffing), dependance on third party vendors is high. One of our clients is working to improve their search engine visibility. This is at the baseline a simple process – if you know how SEO works and what process to follow. The vendor engaged by our client presented them with a PowerPoint, and within it, there are some good suggestions. However, there are some elements that have clearly been manipulated to “press home the point” of what the vendor was hired to achieve. The result is “false math” and a client who is overly stressed about how and when their content is going to be seen and followed up on. This makes other partners, including ourselves, put in a position wherein we need to support the client, but we also need to avoid tossing the other vendor under the bus. Our tactic is to take any action we can to support the client, while also encouraging them to carefully review their objectives and desired results. One can only hope that in that process, the value of eliminating false math becomes clear. As a partner to companies working round the clock to meet their objectives, we have a responsibility to share accurate information. We encourage all of our clients to ask questions, relax relative to the struggle for effective process, and focus on the outcome and efficiency. The end result is a stronger product and a happier...

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A Brief History of the HITECH Act

A Brief History of the HITECH Act

There’s been so much interest in the evolution of Electronic Health Records recently. The impact on every physician’s office that chooses to accept insurance approved patients, or those on medicare will be staggering. For those that don’t want to play, they’ll be relegated to a “cash” business and face extensive costs to enter the market late. The net result for those in the software development business is a new horizon of opportunity. We’re asked on occasion about the history of the HITECH Act, and the more recent activities related to the evolution of EHR. As such, here is a brief history of activity (spoiler alert: if you’re not involved in the medical community, this is boring stuff). February 2009 The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act amended the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) and created “Title XIII and Title IV” – Health Information Technology and Quality” to: improve healthcare quality, safety and efficiency through the promotion of HIT and the electronic exchange of health information. Section 3004(b)(1) of the PHSA required the Secretary of HHS to adopt an initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria by December 31, 2009 to enhance the interoperability, functionality, utility and security of health information technology. Which would be finalized after a 60 day Public Commentary period. Creating the rules The ONC continues to build and revise on the previous Strategic Plan and the information acquired from the American Health Information Community. That committee will now be replaced by 2 new committees, the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee. Along with the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), these 3 committees will now advise and recommend to the new ONC to meet the HITECH Act mandates. Federal Advisory Committees Health IT Policy Committee –  created in 2009 through the ARRA. It is responsible for, among other duties, recommending priorities for standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria. Health IT Standards Committee – created in 2009 through the ARRA. It is responsible for recommending standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for adoption under section 3004 of the PHSA. National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics – created in 1949 through recommendations from the World Health Organization post WWII. The NCVHS advises the Secretary of HHS in the area of health data, statistics, and national health information policy. The Committees Begin Work Defining Meaningful Use of certified EHRs Selecting Standards Implementation specification guidelines Certification criteria for EHR systems May through December 2009 – monthly update and progress meetings were held openly by the HIT Policy and HIT Standards committees. Committees and workgroups held hearings and heard testimonies from all stakeholders. The committees made recommendations to the ONC. December 30, 2009 The ONC and CMS issued rules based on the recommendations from the committees. January 2010 ONC Interim Final Rules (IFR) were published in the Federal Registry CMS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) were published in the Federal Registry The customary 60 day comment period for both rules began on January 13th and ends March 15th. March 2010 Comment period ends for the ONC IFR and CMS NPRM. Over 2000 comments were received from all types of stakeholders June 2010 Certification Programs are established. New Policy Committee Workgroups Enrollment -to recommend standards which would facilitate enrollment in Federal...

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Rcom WebManager Pro & Sitellite

Rcom WebManager Pro & Sitellite

Our team has offered a secure, efficient, and flexible content management system since 2001. Initially a branded version of a Canadian-based CMS called Sitellite, over time, our team has developed variations, additional elements, and new components, leading to our own CMS solution: R|com WebManager Pro. The development of Sitellite was an off again/on again process, and several years ago, the primary developer determined he would be off to new adventures, leaving Sitellite as an “open source” solution to be managed by the “web community.” Our support did not change, and in fact, as other users of Sitellite found themselves without support, we added a number of clients. Recently, the original developer of Sitellite has decided to jump back into the CMS development world. He has a new product, which he calls Elefant. Elefant is a cool idea, and is based on the most recent versions of the scripting language PHP. However, this is a simple CMS (at this point in time) and is not in any way a competitor or replacement for Sitellite. More to the point, as our CMS is supported directly by our team (and understood by hundreds of developers worldwide), there is no risk relative to the continued use of R|com WebManager Pro – and in fact, now is the best possible time to get on board. Our CMS is in use by a wide array of users, ranging from small businesses to large multi-national distributors and service providers. Remember, if you have questions, we’re always ready to speak with you. Give us a call, or drop us an email. NOTE: The latest release of R|com WebManagerPro will be released this...

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Time to Upgrade? An editing suite nightmare wakes up to Thunderbolt.

Time to Upgrade? An editing suite nightmare wakes up to Thunderbolt.

One of the reasons editors poo pooh changes in their editing environment is the time it takes to make the conversion to whatever the new gear might be. Imagine buying a house, spending a year getting the furniture just right, and landscaping done, and you’ve enjoyed your first garden party with your friends and family. Suddenly, you discover that in order to get your friends and neighbors to continue coming over, you’re going to need to move to a different house – and essentially start over. Ouch. Incremental updates and improvements to software is always a good thing. But when technologies change, and we’re all expected to jump on board and change with everyone, that becomes less exciting – by a factor of “a lot.” Remember when Firewire 400 came out? If you don’t you’re too young to edit professionally – just kidding. It was supposed to be FAST. Oh, but not so fast – Firewire 800 would get the data moving at hyperspeed. And just when your collection of 50 Firewire 800 drives have been properly labeled and filled with content, Apple introduces new, faster, slimmer, brighter Macs ideal for production, but um… no more Firewire. I won’t even begin to talk about USB 3. Well, maybe a bit, but not yet. And did I mention there’s a new way to move all of those huge HD files now? It’s called Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt has been around for awhile. But it’s only now that the integration into the average post suite makes sense. There are a number of drives, most of them RAID-based, that work with Thunderbolt and your Mac or PC. It’s fast. Two channels of data moving at 10 Gbps – that’s 12 times faster than Firewire – and with dual channels. Thunderbolt is based on two technologies: PCI Express and DisplayPort (and it’s from Intel). But, just like the old stereo high end systems, your system is only as good as the weakest link. So, now that there’s a really super fast data and display tech, how do you get hooked up? Have you ever noticed that many people build their workstations around their CPU – their computing device? Now, you can try dancing to a different drummer: create your edit suite from the hard drive up. First, determine what your strategy will be. How will you store archived projects? How will you transfer data to those storage devices? Do you need to move your storage devices around? How will you combine data (video, graphics, audio, etc.) storage with ingest of video, export of video, etc.? And, what about a plan to back up everything? So, before we even think about the computer we’re going to use, we need to think about storage, displays, video input, output, and the various adapters to let us use all of our old gear. I love the ability to use a RAID, but I hate large boxes, fan noise, and lack of transportability. Now that I understand what I need generally, it’s time to give some thought regarding what to do specifically! We’ll address that in the coming week. Daisy chain to your heart’s content – adding drives and displays. In the old days of a few weeks ago, you’d need multiple cables, multiple technologies, etc. so, simplicity is what...

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Streamlining EHR for patients and physicians

While people tend to get fairly animated when discussing the Affordable Care Act (AHA), there is another big change taking place in medicine, and it’s already underway. Electronic Health Records, or EHR is changing the way physicians and patients interact. It’s changing the way physicians are paid. It’s changing the way they interact with each other. Fundamentally, it changes the way medical interaction with the public takes place. The history of EHR is pretty interesting. The origins go back to the 1970s, an idea that Lockheed had relative to managing astronauts health records, and suddenly, El Camino Hospital and a huge IBM mainframe computer were creating basic patient records. Jump forward to February 2009, and electronic health management moves into a new century. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act amended the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) and created “Title XIII and Title IV – Health Information Technology and Quality for the purpose of: Improving healthcare quality Improving patient safety Promoting efficiency through the promotion of HIT and the electronic exchange of health information And it became law. Electronic Health Records would now be implemented as an approved process for not only managing the physician/patient relationship, but qualifying physicians for payments from Medicare. There are a number of ways that EHR implementation will change how physicians manage their relationships with patients. Let’s look at some of them: Administrative Evolution Automated Appointment Requests — a patient can request an appointment online, and the physician no longer needs to go thru the typical phone to appointment book to online booking software solution that has no interaction with the patient Appointment Confirmation — patient confirms their appointment via email and the appointment is automatically marked confirmed in the physician’s schedule Patient Pre-Registration — patient completes the standard patient demographics, insurance, and HIPAA forms online – via a patient portal Online Form Signing — the standard forms can be signed online with a mouse or iPad®; no more scanning and uploading pre-registration forms Secure Patient Messaging — message a staff member, and the staff can view the message in their iPad Inbox (and patients review the replies on the patient portal) Debit/Credit Card Processing — pay co-pays online, or sign up for automatic payments Scan Insurance Cards — scan both sides of the insurance card with a single swipe in just seconds Clinical Benefits Complete the Chief Complaint and HPI — during online check–in, the patient completes customized questionnaires that build the HPI portion of the encounter Complete the Review of Systems — during online check-in the patient completes and updates the Review of Systems portion of the encounter Review and Add Medical Histories — review and add new findings to the Allergy, Past Medical, Past Surgical, Family, and Social Histories Review and Add Medications — review and add new meds to the active Medication List Prescription Renewal/Refills — request a refill, complete with the patient’s preferred pharmacy Secure Patient Messaging — exchange messages with clinical staff; set a staff member(s) to filter messages for the doctor Personal Health Records — download Meaningful Use compliant PHR files and review recent encounters Lab Results — review lab results online and receive messages from the provider related to lab findings; example: “this result is abnormal, schedule an appointment” Document Review —...

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Flash in the pan… HTML-5 gains momentum

I remember the good old days, I guess in part because I’m no longer a twenty or even thirty or wow – a forty something. Software development was a thoughtful, exciting process. And, as you developed the software you planned to release, you had the benefit of expanding support in the channel you were developing for. Thanks to HTML-5, those days may return, at least for awhile. I must say that the past few years have been a royal pain in the neck for us, as our clients have migrated from one “solution” to another. The plug-in world for web browsers was initially designed to create expanded capabilities for users, but ultimately, has been a one way street ending at the top of the Malibu pier: off you go, tech solution/plug-in from ten minutes ago. Splash. I expect that during the coming few months, more and more hardware manufacturers will move away from technology that just minutes ago they were promoting as “long term” solutions. FLASH from Adobe is already fish food. And Silverlight is about to swim with the fishes as well. So, why is HTML-5 different? First off – it isn’t a plug-in. It’s a different animal, and it’s got a laundry list of capabilities that make it far more functional for developers and consumers alike. For starters, HTMP-5 supports variable semantic elements, scalable vector graphics, an offline cache, and when used in combination with CSS3, will support high-quality interactive graphics. That means it is more like a user-interface design environment, rather than a markup language. Bottom line: HTML-5 is ideal for delivering rich web-driven content. Steve Jobs was right. The late co-founder and CEO of Apple predicted, accurately, that Flash as a delivery platform was doomed. Just 19 months have he initially trashed Flash, Adobe suspended mobile development of Flash – and the future of computing is mobile. And iOS, one of the two primary operating environments, doesn’t support Silverlight either – likely for the same reasons. Today, Adobe and Microsoft have both signaled their intention to strongly support HTML-5. So far, our experience with it has been highly positive – and we believe it will create some stability in a market that for the past few years has kicked and screamed, never quite knowing what users or developers should use. I’m ready for...

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The Power of the Sizzle

We’ve just finished producing a short sizzle reel for MySafe:LA. Cameron spoke with the presentation team that visits schools, and from their comments, worked diligently to tell the story of MySafe:LA school visits in one minute. A sizzle reel is a very important part of your overall storytelling message. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new product, a service, or just a story you’re eager to share with a large audience, the sizzle is what get’s people hungry for more. Talk to us about your need to sizzle – and remember: it isn’t the camera, the computer, or YouTube that makes the sizzle work. It’s the storyteller. Check out the new sizzle:...

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