Reuters reports IBM to provide Microsoft-free PCs to eastern Europe

According to Reuters, IBM is teaming up with Red Hat and other partners to offer computers without Microsoft software in eastern Europe, Triangle Business Journal reports. Other partners in the project include VDEL of Austria and LX Polska of Poland, which will get the actual computers from their partners, while Big Blue will use North Carolina-based Red Hat's Linux operating software on the computers. In addition, the PCs will be preloaded with Lotus Symphony—an IBM software suite that rivals Microsoft's Office software. According to the Journal, IBM left the PC-making business in 2005 and sold its North Carolina-based division to Lenovo, a China-owned company now based in Morrisville. Reuters also reports that the deal, which will specifically target Russia, could give IBM a boost in its battle to one-up Microsoft in the region (Triangle Business Journal, 3/4/08).

Broadcom acquires chip-maker; deal could cut costs on high-def disc players

Broadcom Corp. on Monday announced it has purchased Sunext Design Inc. and the licensed optical disk reader and writer technology from its parent company Sunext Technology for $48 million, Los Angeles Business reports. According to a release, Sunext Design created single-chip front-end technology that complements Broadcom's system-on-a-chip back-end Blu-ray Disc platform, and the combination could lower costs for high-definition players and recorders. Los Angeles Business notes that the cash deal closed on Friday, Feb. 29 (Los Angeles Business, 3/4/08). 

Microsoft unveils $100,000 sweepstakes for beta workspace software suite

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday plans to announce a new sweepstakes with a $100,000 grand prize for U.S. beta testers of its free Web-based document storage and collaboration service called Office Live Workspace, IDG News Service reports. The company also announced that it has added several new features to Office Live Workspace, a service designed for individual users and small businesses that Microsoft describes as an "online extension" of its Office suite. As part of the sweepstakes, Microsoft will award a total of 30,000 prizes through May 11. Prizes other than the grand $100,000 prize include 300 Xbox 360s, 500 Samsung BlackJack II mobile phones, 200 30GB Zune media players, 400 Expedia travel vouchers worth $300 each, and several thousand other Microsoft software and hardware products. The bulk of the prizes, however, include roughly 23,000 soda coupons and 1,000 $10 gift cards to an unidentified "specialty coffee retailer." While any user can currently sign up to try Office Live Workspace, only U.S. residents who are age18 or older are eligible for the prizes. Testers can sign up for both the service and the sweepstakes on Microsoft's Web site (LAI, IDG/New York Times, 3/4/08).

Kentucky HIE to use health record bank for data sharing

The Louisville Health Information Exchange (HIE) is tapping the health record bank model to exchange patient information because it, Health Data Management reports. HIE officials plan to use the data bank model, which enables patients to control who accesses their information, to collect, store and facilitate access to medical information for residents who open a health record account. The HIE is currently developing a request for proposals for one or more vendors to collaborate, build and operate the health record bank (Health Data Management, 2/29/08). 

Cisco unveils high-power, efficient router

Cisco Systems Inc. on Monday unveiled a new router for processing data, voice and video that is built atop its new QuantumFlow Processor, Computerworld reports. Resulting from five years of research and a $250 million investment, the new Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1000 will become available in April in two-, four- and six-rack-unit sizes, according to Cisco officials. The ASR 1000, starting at $35,000, is designed for use in WAN applications at “the network edge,” a term defining those areas outside the data center such as surrounding buildings in a campus setting. Touted as the company’s highest-performance and most efficient router, the ASR 1000 features instant-on provisioning, according to Cisco's director of product management for midrange routing. He adds that its embedded capabilities will eliminate the need to deploy multiple single-function applications, thus lowering costs and reducing the carbon footprint. Such combined functions include a firewall, IPsec VPN, deep packet inspection and session border control (Hamblen, Computerworld, 3/3/08)

Dell unveils tougher laptop product to rival Panasonic Toughbooks

Dell on Tuesday plans to launch its first rugged notebook that meets all U.S. Department of Defense standards for durability and operation in extreme conditions, IDG News Service reports. With a hardened cover, the Latitude XFR D630 notebook is shock-resistant and resists moisture, high altitude and high temperatures, according to officials. In accordance with federal standards for operating in extreme conditions, the notebook can run in environments from -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 degrees Celsius) to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), as well as altitudes as high as 15,000 feet. Additionally, the laptop is sealed to resist moisture and dust. IDG reports that the laptop is a more rugged version of the company's still-available Latitude D630 laptop, which only complies with some of the DOD's rugged laptop requirements. The more rugged version specifically targets the military, public-safety first responders and enterprises such as oil and gas exploration companies, among others, and officials note the product enables Dell to compete against companies such as Panasonic—the leader in rugged laptops (Shah, IDG/InfoWorld, 3/4/08).

University of Pittsburgh taps patient monitoring technology

The University of Pittsburgh is using patient-monitoring technology to improve care delivery in "step down" units, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Patients in step down units are being carefully transitioned from intensive care units to hospitals' acute care departments. University officials have implemented the patient-monitoring system made by OBS Medical to automatically tracks patients' vital signs and alerts nurses when a patient's heart rate or breathing pattern is abnormal. The system also helps nurses react "very early on when the patient starts to develop instability, sometimes when there isn't even what we would consider to be a significant change in vital signs," according to one acute care nursing professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Meanwhile, the school also is tapping technologies such as simulated patient robots to help train nurses (Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/3/08).

Massive DNA database to expedite disease research

Harvard University medical professor George Church is planning to create a database of DNA sequences for 100,000 people in an effort to identify new drugs for common diseases, Bloomberg News reports. Supported by $1 billion from Google and OrbiMed Advisors, the effort is slated to be the largest gene sequencing project worldwide. Specifically, Church will match genetic data with each participant’s health history to link DNA variations and diseases for scientists and drug makers—the first step in discovering treatments that can block mutations or alter how they work in the body, according to Bloomberg. In addition, Church plans to use the database to explore other human traits and behaviors in relation to their DNA. Church already has partially sequenced genomes of 10 people, and a Harvard ethics panel is reviewing his plan to include 100,000 participants. Church notes that he would like to continue expanding the project beyond 100,000, noting that, if the project gains approval, he would like to include a million genomes. Most participants will be asked to provide $1,000 each to defray the costs and subsidize some nonpaying participants (Lauerman, Bloomberg News, 2/29/08).

Intel announces “Atom” processing chip line

Intel Corp. on Sunday announced that its new family of low-power chips will be called "Atom," the San Jose Business Journal reports. Though Intel did not release prices for Atom chips, the product line will target mobile Internet devices and super low-cost and small notebook and desktop personal computers with expected selling prices under $300. According to the company, the chips, previously named Silverthorne and Diamondville, are less than 25 square millimeters and will likely release midyear (San Jose Business Journal, 3/3/08).

Michigan physician like e-prescribing, survey finds

A survey of providers participating in the three-year Southeastern Michigan ePrescribing Initiative (SMEI) suggests that many feel e-prescribing boosts patient safety and care quality, Healthcare IT News reports. Based on input from roughly 500 physicians, the survey found that more than 80 percent of respondents’ prescriptions were written electronically, while 40 percent of respondents said they now write only e-prescriptions. In rating e-prescribing’s value, 75 percent of providers said they strongly believe that the technology improves patient safety and nearly 70 percent said it improves care quality. Additionally, respondents lauded the safety alerts that warn of potentially harmful prescription drug interactions, and 65 percent of physicians reporting changing a prescription after receiving an alert. In addition, 90 percent of respondents indicated that e-prescribing had “met or exceeded” their expectations. Roughly 70 percent also reported a reduction in communications with pharmacies about prescription questions, and more than 50 percent said the technology saved clinicians time and helped improve productivity. According to Healthcare IT News, the SMEI plans to extend the initiative and continue to enroll physicians through June 30 largely due to the survey findings (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 2/27/08).

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