31 August 2011

My how time flies..

Picking up new clients, maintaining the status quo for current ones, and welcoming back former departures seem to have taken over any time I don't specifically set aside for family. And though I haven't posted anything new in some time, the existing articles seem to become more popular by the month. Call it inspiration or guilt, but I find that I really need to put the effort into regular articles. And I have so many topics to choose from lately.

Whether it be the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the latest iGadget, the uncertainty created by HP's recent announcements, or one of the many anecdotes from recent experiences, I need to roll out some of this information on a timely basis. And if I haven't touched on a subject near and dear to you, feel free to contact me at any time to ask. As witnessed by my lack of recent posts, I don't right about every mistake, workaround, or discovery I come across. But I might just have an answer for you.

So please, stop back again soon. I'll have fresh content for you, and perhaps we'll all learn a little something.

19 January 2011

Cleanliness is next to Godliness..

Recently, I received an Econo-Keys EKW-105 wireless silicone keyboard to test. I've tried other silicone keyboards in the past, and I have to say that wasn't terribly impressed with them. They tended to be difficult to type on as they required precise, strong keystrokes to register anything. But to give it an honest review, I've been using the Econo-Keys keyboard as my primary device for the past three weeks.

A quick overview from the Econo-Keys website tells us:
"The EKW-105 is a wireless keyboard with the added benefit of an integrated touchpad. Built with 2.4 GHz digital radio technology, the EKW-105 has a wireless range of 30 feet, and connects to any computer with a USB dongle.

The EKW-105 is manufactured to eliminate the need for cables and is ideal for use on carts and wall mounts. The EKW-105 has a completely washable keypad and operates on two AAA batteries (included).
And the primary reason for using a silicone-encased keyboard is the following (from the EKW-105 Datasheet):
"IP68 Protection Against
     • Splashing, hose-directed and submerged water
     • Corrosive, abrasive, acidic and alkaline substances
     • Bleach, alcohol and hospital-grade disinfectants
     • Dirt, dust, sand and other airborne debris
     • Extreme temperatures
My experience? I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the keyboard. The keys are very sensitive to the touch, the compact size of the keyboard allows for a smaller footprint (which is always important in an operatory), and the wireless capability just works. My primary system is Windows 7 Professional, and I had zero issues with the keyboard and connectivity. No additional drivers necessary. Just plug it in and off you go. An added benefit is the sealed touchpad on the right side of the keyboard. Also sensitive to the touch, this eliminates the need for a separate mouse.

Overall, I had a very positive experience. It took a few days to get used to the feeling of the silicone keys, but after using it regularly I had little to no difference in the way I type. If you're looking for an alternative to placing a standard keyboard in a plastic bag or wrapping it in cellophane, I definitely recommend you give these a look.

27 October 2010

Not all x-rays are created equal..

Can you spare a JPEG? And no, I don't mean DICOM files exported from your digital imaging software renamed with a .jpg extension. I'm referring to your garden-variety JPEG format image that every dental imaging software is capable of exporting. Why do I ask, you say? Well, as digital imaging becomes more common, so do my calls from clients complaining that they cannot view the x-rays that office "B" just sent them via email.

Now why would that be? Well, it seems there's a crucial training topic missing from the usual syllabus for digital imaging software classes. You see, when a patient visits the specialist (oral surgeon, periodontist, etc.) and the specialist's office calls asking for x-rays (preferably digital), what does your staff do? Export and email. But in what format?

My usual response to the calls mentioned above has been "Please call/reply to office 'B' and ask them to export the images as JPEG, not (insert proprietary format here)." It's true that the majority of dental imaging software understands the DICOM format, however, that is not their default image type. In fact, nearly every product uses its own propriety format for storing images. But they're just images, right? I wish it were that simple, but there is a simple solution (hint: it's my usual response).

03 August 2010

More data jacks, please..

Not sure what I'm referring to? Well, what has kept me busy as of late (and why I haven't posted up until now) has been the build out of new dental offices. Outfitting new dental offices with new and existing equipment is one of the more enjoyable parts of this job. Everything goes in looking and working properly from the beginning. However, the planning and implementation takes a significant amount of time. And each project has revealed the same issue overlooked from the beginning, not enough data jacks for networked equipment.

I'm talking about the outlets in the wall that look like oversized phone jacks. These are used to allow networked equipment to talk to each other. The typical means of determining the necessary amount and location of data jacks have been to outline where computers will go and count them. What is missing in this equation are networked printers, cameras, scanners, and now digital x-ray sensors. When building a new office, all of this should be taken into consideration to provide enough data jacks to accommodate all of this equipment.

So how do you know the proper amount of data jacks needed? Plan on more than you think. In busy areas (e.g. reception and consultation), add a few extra beyond what has already been outlined on the blueprints. In operatories, consider if you will be making equipment upgrades in the next three years that may necessitate network connections (e.g. those new digital x-ray sensors). It's easy to say no to save a few dollars now. It's more expensive to learn you need additional data jacks after the office has been completed.