New Web service allows consumers to rate health care experiences

Angie's List, a Web site that allows consumers to rate their experience with home service companies, on Monday launched a new feature that allows members to rate health care services, the Indianapolis Star reports. The site allows its roughly 600,000 members nationwide to rate services in 55 health care categories including dentistry, hospitals, insurance providers and various medical specialties with grades from "A" to "F." While the director of the life science and health practice at Deloitte Consulting suggests the site is "a great extension of the consumer movement,” some health care professionals say medical services cannot be rated in the same way as services provided in other industries and question whether the site will provide credible recommendations. Meanwhile, the president of the Indiana State Medical Association notes that "the rating system is going to look at the experience the patient has, or had, at the appointment. It's not going to rate the quality of the medical care that was provided" (Lee, Indianapolis Star, 3/25/08). 

Microsoft, Yahoo shares of search market falling

According to data from Nielsen Online research, Microsoft's share of the U.S. internet search market is declining, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. Specifically, the company’s shares fell to 11.2 percent in February, down from 12.1 percent in January. Google, meanwhile, increased its already major lead in the U.S. search market with a 58.7 percent share in February, up from 56.9 percent in January. In addition, Yahoo, currently a distant second behind Google, also saw its share of U.S. internet searches fall to 17.6 percent from 19 percent in January (Puget Sound Business Journal, 3/26/08).

Oracle takes over application test suite

Oracle Corp. on Thursday announced plans to acquire the e-TEST suite of products from Bedford, Mass.-based Empirix Inc., a provider of voice and Web application testing and monitoring products, the San Jose Business Journal reports. Under the partnership, of which the financial terms were not disclosed, Empirix's e-TEST suite will be incorporated into Oracle Enterprise Manager and Oracle Real Application Testing. According to the company, the combination "is expected to result in a comprehensive solution for testing packaged and custom-built applications" (San Jose Business Journal, 3/27/08).

Australia launches tech stock exchange

Australian on Wednesday launched a new stock exchange with a focus on technology and innovation stocks, Reuters reports. Modeled after the U.S. Nasdaq index, the Asia Pacific Technology Exchange is a joint venture between the non-profit Enterprise Pacific Ltd and the National Stock Exchange of Australia, which holds two stock exchange licenses in Australia. Based in Sydney, the venture plans to start with a minimum of 20 listed companies and hopes to draw interest from across Asia. It is slated to be fully operational by the second half of 2008 (Byrnes, Reuters, 3/26/08).

Cuba loosens restrictions on PC sales

Reports from a leaked government memo suggest that Cuba is set to lift restrictions prohibiting Cubans from owning computers, reports. Unveiled by Reuters, the memo suggested that individual Cubans will soon be allowed to purchase PCs and DVD players, while restrictions on video recorders, car alarms, 19 and 24 inch television sets, electric pressure cookers and microwaves are also set to be lifted. Because of limited power supplies, however, air conditioners may not legally become available until next year, and Cubans may have to wait until 2010 to purchase a toaster. Previously Cuba only allowed foreign nationals and some companies to purchase computers; Raul Castro, who was formally appointed as Cuban president last month, is set to relax the laws (Trendall,, 3/25/08).

Dell adds services for businesses switching to new PCs

Dell on Tuesday released a set of new services designed to help large businesses replace thousands of computers, including new PCs bought to accommodate Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system, the Palm Beach Post reports. According to officials, the new client-migration services include a suite of Dell software tools that automate many of the tasks involved in switching large numbers of users to new PCs. Other services include assessments to help companies refine their plans and procedures for refreshing thousands of computers. Ultimately, the new tools aim to enable technology managers within a large company to automatically set up a PC with the applications and data an individual user needs (Zehr, Palm Beach Post, 3/25/08).

Dell makes India retail deal

Dell last week announced plans to introduce new computer models specifically for the Chinese and Indian computer markets, Digital Trends reports. Specifically, Dell has made a deal with Infinity Retail to distribute its notebook and desktop computers to India's Croma retail stores beginning this April. According to Digital Trends, “the move marks the computer maker's latest foray into retail offerings as it struggles to regain it's title as the world's top computer maker” (Digital Trends, 3/25/08).

Partnership to facilitate old computer donations

Goodwill Industries and Austin-based Dell Inc. have expanded the Reconnect alliance to foster computer equipment recycling in the Houston area, the Houston Business Journal reports. Through the alliance, consumers can donate old computers at a Computer Works store or nearly 50 participating Goodwill locations throughout the city to be refurbished. Reconnect, Dell and Goodwill's partnership, began with a pilot program in October 2004. More information is available at (Houston Business Journal, 3/26/08).

New technology helps the brain to learn

New technology developed at Tufts University in Boston is enabling scientists to translate the most abstract, complex concepts into clearer, more precise three-dimensional images, United Press International reports. The technology involves a 14-foot by 8-foot visualization display called "VisWall," which is designed to facilitate work in diverse disciplines including mathematics, physics, drama and dance. Specifically, the wall features a high resolution display that uses a single screen with roughly nine-megapixel resolution and two rear projectors that together help create high-resolution images and animation that appear smoother and without seams. UPI adds that the system also can “combine the sense of touch with that of sight through haptic devices that convey varying levels of resistance to a user when he or she touches graphical objects on the display.” According to researchers, "users will be able to manipulate, simulate, touch and literally immerse themselves in data in a way they never have been able to before" (UPI, 3/25/08).

Indian leader calls for greater technology adoption

India’s Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Suresh Pachauri on Wednesday called on civil servants to keep pace with developments in modern technology in order to serve the country better, The Hindu reports. in his inaugural address at a seminar on “Human Resources Management—Revisited,” Pachauri said the government needs “to make efforts to ensure that our officers remain fully motivated.” Noting the need to foster discussion among officers, Pachauri said that leaders “need to build an environment where creativity is not killed by failure,” adding that they need to motivate “officers and staff to excel in modern day technology” (The Hindu, 3/26/08).

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