December 12, 2007

AT&T’s new ad compaign hurts my head

Filed under: ADS — KHOI @ 3:55 am

AT&T’s new ad campaign involves taking three places that you liver, work or travel to while on a cellular network and combining the names of all these locations into a new “destination”.   They’re trying to tell you that they work in more places that you do.  The commercials are very entertaining (see below)

But this campaign is not translating into print very well.  While I was driving home today, I saw a similar billboard to this:

I almost ran into the car in front of me trying to read it.  So what does my eyes do when I passed a similar billboard a few miles down, I ignored it.  I saw the color scheme at the periphery of my eyes and made a note not to look at it.

When I got home today and went online, there were banners like these everywhere:


Do you know why I don’t like it?  It hurts my head.  I try my best to read it, but my head just doesn’t comprehend what I am trying to do.  I can make sense of what I am trying to read and it shuts itself down.

My message to at&t, stop using this ad campaign in print, it’s hurting my head and it only works in deterring my eyes way from the ad.  The commercials are great and they’re funny!  especially with people who have accents to pronounce these weird destinations, but PLEASE don’t make me read it.

One more thing, good job blanketing the band waves with your new logo and new ads.  I barely even remember that you use to be called Cingular.


November 19, 2007

Amazon Kindle not so kind

Filed under: Gadgets — Tags: , , , , , — KHOI @ 8:36 pm

original article here.

Today Amazon will release their Kindle, a reader that is similar to Sony’s Reader.  It has everything apparently.  It even connects wirelessly to the internet to download books (unlike the Sony, which has to be connected to a computer to do so).  It will cost $400, $100 more than the Sony.   People who’ve had their hands on it this weekend claims it as being pretty perfect.

My biggest gripe with this machine (and it’s a deal breaker) is that it only plays the proprietary format by Mobipocket, a company that it acquired in 2005.  It does not play the current open standard format.  For me, it really needs to play all types of formats (including PDF).

The other problem I have with it is that it doesn’t look sturdy.  It doesn’t look like it can survive a 3 foot fall.  I don’t mind if the product is a little bit thicker, it just needs to be a bit more rugged so I can take it to the park, to the beach to go camping.  What use is a portable reader if it does not allow me to take it everywhere I need to go to escape from the computer?

After these two problems get solved, I’ll get the device that have these in a heartbeat.  As for now, I’ll stick to my X60 tablet.

Apple is Spying on you!?!

Filed under: Gadgets — Tags: , , , , , — KHOI @ 8:02 pm

Original article here.

The iPhone is filled with spywear that send user information back to Apple.  Did Apple learn nothing from the HP fiasco?  Apple users are a special group of people.  They like to think of themselves as better.  Better as in that they try to do their best to be better individuals and they think that their choice to choose Apple is in someways bettering society because Apple is a “good” company.

Well…This flies in the face of all their users!  This is a betrayal which sticks to high heavens.  It makes you think of a certain wire-tapping administration.

November 11, 2007

Riding on Youtube’s Success

Filed under: Web — Tags: , , — geeknalytics @ 11:49 pm

Youtube is one of the most successful video sites on the web. According to Compete, it has grown by 4.5% in number of users per month and is ranked, by Compete as the 11th most visited site on the web. With that said, why aren’t more startups analyzing why Youtube is so popular and ride upon its success?

One of the most popular uploads on Youtube are video of users doing song covers.  Basically, everyone wants to be a star and get discovered like Esmee Denters who was discovered on Youtube and signed by Justin Timberlake.  No one is leveraging or making use of the psychology of Youtube users. Build a way for these wanna-be artists to expose themselves!

The closest startup that is doing this is iLike.  iLike exposes artists who others may not have heard of based on a member’s taste in music. iLike has facebook features,ilike.jpg allowing you to integrate the iLike services onto your Facebook page. What makes this useful to uprising artists is music exposure. According to their blog, artists who sign up for iLike will obtain a weekly stats newsletter on how their music is being used. Artists will be able to monitor their fan growth stats, latest fan comments, and even song stats.

However, iLike is not very well known among the Youtube users.  If I was managing iLike’s community, I would make an effort to reach out to every user who’s doing covers and ask them to put a link to their profile from their Youtube page to their iLike profile.   Who doesn’t want their friends and family to put their “cover” on their facebook or myspace page?

Web innovators need to take advantage of a users desire to be known or discovered via their musical talent.  If I was interested in making a Facebook widget – it would be a way for users to play their music covers on their facebook page.  Tap into already popular sites and find out what’s missing…then build it.

November 7, 2007

Viagra: A Call of Duty

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — geeknalytics @ 4:01 am

A question was asked whether or not a “viagra for women” would be as successful as viagra for men.viagra.jpg Viagra, in case you didn’t know, is used mostly for male erectile dysfunction, the other use is hypertension. Sexual dysfunction is a potential 5-billion-dollar plus market. A recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that 43 percent of women suffer from sexual dysfunction, compared with 31 percent of men. So theoretically, if a drug company was to develop a “viagra for women” it would be successful…right?

Does a man take viagra because of his sexual needs or is it because he believes it is a sense of duty? A duty to satisfy his woman. So are the high viagra sales due to men or women? The high viagra sales is due to a mixture of the male desire to have sex as well as his desire to please his woman.

A woman who wants to satisfy her man, really does not need to do anything but lie there. She doesn’t need to be erect as a man does in order to satisfy her partner. Would a “viagra for women” surpass sales of that for men? No way. Men buy viagra for two reasons: sex and a sense of duty. Women would buy a “viagra for women” for one reason: her own sexual pleasure. Another question to ask is how much of the female sexual frustration is purely based on a male’s inability to perform as opposed to the female’s inability to?

With that said, a “viagra for women” would probably have less sales than that for men. A 55-year-old nurse at Stanford Hospital said she, and virtually every woman she knows, would like to try Viagra, hoping that it would increase her sexual pleasure. If a “viagra for women” has the ability to physically and psychologically improve a woman’s experience during sexual encounters (i.e. multiple orgasms), then sales would hit the top. Otherwise, merely fixing the physical attributes just doesn’t cut it. Why would anyone take a pill to produce lubrication when they can just go buy some lubrication over-the-counter? Sex for women is more complicated – it deals with both physical and psychological needs.

November 6, 2007

Old people use Yahoo. Young people use Google.

Filed under: Health Web — Tags: , , , — geeknalytics @ 10:59 pm

One of the most interesting things I have found when talking to patients is the preference of search engines and websites used to search for health information.

Generally, from what I have noticed from patient conversations:

Older patients (age 65 and up) : Type in WebMD into search bar –> uses WebMD for information –> Goes to use Yahoo
Patients (ages 30-65): Goes to WebMD –> Google for more information
Younger Patients (30 and under): Go to Google and searches for information —> Web MD

Why is this?

Allegiance lies with E-mail
The majority of older patients have an allegiance to a search engine based on the type of e-mail used. It just so happens that the majority of the older adults uses Yahoo Mail as their e-mail and hence, they use Yahoo to search. Why Yahoo? Most of the homepages at the library are set to the Yahoo homepage. Not to mention the huge, “Sign-In” to your email box in the upper right hand corner of Yahoo’s page. This “allegiance to search engines” based on e-mail for older adults seems to be dominated by Yahoo which is surprising because I would expect Microsoft to have the older adults using their search engine. However, upon opening, there is no indication as to where one may sign up for e-mail. Yahoo’s idiot proof layout dominates the older generation.


Here’s another case. My father is in his 60’s. I set the homepage to open to Google search. My father doesn’t use Google search. The first thing he does is go to his e-mail, which he uses yahoo for. After using yahoo e-mail, he then types in to search for things. Despite having Google on the homepage and him seeing it everytime he opens his browser, his search preference is still with yahoo.

Here’s another scenerio.  I have FireFox installed on my laptop.   The homepage is set to open to firefox start page, which is essentially google search.  My 50-year-old aunt would type in “yahoo” into the search box just to then use yahoo search.  I’ve noticed this among other older users and their allegiance to yahoo in nursing homes with computer training.

As for myself, I have always wondered why I choose Google to search as opposed to other search engines. It must be that I use g-mail for my e-mails. Again, allegiance to search engine based on e-mail used.

Health Search
WebMD still seems to be the primary source of health information for patients, despite them complaining how unorganized and confusing it is. When I ask patients why they prefer WebMD over other search engines such as google, medstory, etc. The replies are varied:

  • WebMD has correct information
  • I don’t like looking over tons of results
  • How do I know if the information is correct from google or medstory results

    It appears that the “MD” in the WebMD’s name automatically makes people think that the material on that site is legit and written by healthcare professionals. Perhaps GoogleHealth should change itself to GoogleMD or HealthVault should change itself to MicrosoftMD. I still, to this very day, do not use WebMD because the mere sight of it gives me a headache.

Does Care really Care?

Filed under: Health Web — Tags: , , — geeknalytics @ 10:41 pm is a website focused on finding things such as caregivers, pet caregivers etc for users. Users enter their zipcodecarefrontpage.jpg and indicate what they are looking for: caregivers, baby/sitter, nanny etc.

At first thought, this is a great idea. There are always people who are searching for caregivers. However, I was disappointed at’s website due to its various lack of integrating patient’s needs into their algorithm.

Lack of rating
There is no way to differentiate one caregiver from another except for their biography. There needs to be a way for testimonials or ratings of these caregivers. I would never entrust my grandmother to a stranger I found on the internet without knowing their background first or other patient experiences from them.

Lack of Security
Not one of these profiles indicate that they have gone through a background check. There should be fields that ask if the person is willing to go through a background check or has gone through a background check.

Medical Professionals
If searching for a caregiver for my grandmother, I’d probably want to rank the profiles by whether or not they have a medical background. I would prefer a nurse over a non-medically educated caregiver

There are other things lacking in the medical arena of but given that it seems that to not focus totally on health, I will not analyze this any further.

October 22, 2007

Blindly Investing in Healthcare: Diagnosing Depression Via Voice

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , , — geeknalytics @ 8:17 pm

The great thing about Silicon Valley is the diverse group of people that you meet everyday or the people that you may meet. Sitting at Starbucks reading my subscribed copy of Pharmacology Today, I was approached by an investor who shall remain unnamed.

Investor: Are you in the healthcare field? I notice you’re reading that magazine.

Me: Um yes, you can say that. I am into pharmaceuticals and technology

Investor: Oh, so you must know a lot about drugs and diseases

Me: Doctorate degree is in it

Investor: Do you have a minute to talk? I’d love to hear your opinion about a product that my firm is thinking about funding

Me: Sure thing

Investor: This great idea is ran by some really brilliant guys from M.I.T. It’s a way to diagnose depression from someone’s voice.

Me: Excuse me? Can you repeat that again? Diagnosing depression from voice?

Investor: Yes. Finding out if someone is depressed from their voice. I wanted to know what you thought of that

Me: (Thinking how to phrase it politely that he’s nuts). Well…that is definitely…new. I’d have to see the clinical data done with this hypothesis before I can make a suggestion but I can tell you now that depression is a very difficult thing to diagnose. It’s a condition that is often misdiagnosed by doctors. To use voice technology and link it to depression seems to have so many variabilities associated with vocal pattern recognition.

This is when the investor attempts to explain to me that the technology is supposed to help with depression diagnosing and that the two physicians on their health investment team thought it was a good idea. When I asked this enthusiastic investor why the two physicians voted for the green light on this project, he replied “It’s going to change medicine and help with diagnosing depression.” And hence begun the 1 and 1/2 hour discussion of my opinion on the matter.

Lack of supporting clinical data

Mood disorders is currently diagnosed by doctors using the DSM-IV criteria. Even with the criteria set forth by the medical community, depression is already being misdiagnosed. The argument made by the physicians on the health investment team is that this voice technology system is going to make diagnosing depression easier and reduce misdiagnoses. In health, before any practitioner even considers using a new discovery, clinical studies are looked at first and scrutinized. I couldn’t find a clinical trial that used more than 10 patients in the experiment of linking depression to voice. Would I base a disease diagnosis on a case study of 10 patients? No. Would I have invested X million dollars into this idea based on these clinical trials? No. Anyone who has done years of research has learned the art of reading clinical trials and determining whether or not the study is pure crap. The things to look for when shown clinical trials: population size, statistical analysis used, funding source, experimental method, among others must be considered. With that said, you’re probably wondering why the MDs on the investment team didn’t see that viewpoint. Most healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists receive an education focused solely on clinical aspects. The ability to analyze research papers require one or two more courses that are often elective. So not every clinician is an expert at clinical data analysis. A very old and wise Judge once told me, “You would never ask a corporate lawyer to advise you on your divorce.” In the same way, you would never ask a physician on a topic he was not specifically trained in. Would you ask a cardiologist how to diagnose depression?

Too many variabilities

There are too many reasons a patient’s voice may change: illness, drugs, screaming to loud, and other conditions such as anemia. How would one go about in filtering a diagnosis of depression among such a vast amount of other reasons?

Health Economics Barrier
Lets assume that the voice technology actually works and may accurately diagnose depression by following a user’s voice pattern. Would the medical community and your insurance company accept this?

My answer is no. What a lot of health innovators and investors forget is that health is about money. I wish I could say that health was about patient care but then I’d be lying.

Any sort of technology that requires a physician to spend their income on will not be accepted by him. For instance, e-prescribing was a really big investment for a lot of firms. It was the main topic at all medical conferences. There were news that e-prescribing would reduce medication errors by over 60% and medical conferences were boasting about how great it would be to have a centralized medication database. This led to companies putting millions into e-prescribing and investors throwing their money into funding anything that was as part of e-prescribing. For instance, Wellpoint put over $42 million dollars into a project that gave away physicians free PC and handheld devices with e-prescribing software on it. Despite the free giveaway, Wellpoint’s vice president of technology, Charles Kennedy said that the free giveaways wasn’t causing a large number of physicians to use it.

Why would physicians want to implement a technology that would cost them money instead of save or make them money?
E-prescribing would have cost physicians about $27,000 for the first year to implement and this is without any financial help. Investors were putting money into e-prescribing without considering all the players in the healthcare community: nurses, pharmacists, patients, and doctors. E-prescribing would have increased revenue for retail chains and increase patient safety but they failed to recognize the lack of benefits for doctors.

This example applies to the voice-depression technology. Depression is often diagnosed at a primary physician’s office. Primary physicians with over 3 years experience, make about $150,000 a year. So along with over $300,000 debt from medical school loans, the voice-depression technology investors expect these primary care physicians to fork out x thousand dollars to implement this technology for “easier depression diagnosing.” Is this realistic? I don’t think so.

Healthcare Investment and Innovation

Warren Buffet always said “invest in what you know.” Healthcare investment isn’t just about clinical but also health politics. Holding a degree in healthcare may provide you with the needed clinical knowledge but unfortunately, there’s more to healthcare investments than clinical.

Before investing in a healthcare related investment, think about the feasibility, competitors and most importantly, health politics – how will the community accept or reject it? If done right, healthcare may lead to a very lucrative investment but if a mistake is made, it may lead to millions being loss in an instant.

October 20, 2007

Microsoft HealthVault Beats GoogleHealth To Launch

Filed under: Health Web — Tags: , , , , , — geeknalytics @ 3:15 am

What does HealthVault let you do?
Microsoft: ”Microsoft HealthVault lets consumers collect, store, and share health information online.”

Brief Analysis
HealthVault is different from other online records in that information may be uploaded in the form of documents instead ofhealthvault.jpg everything having to be inputted which is quite time consuming. In addition, users are allowed to pick “Programs” from legit and authorized sites such as the American Heart Association to assist them in maintaining their health. The programs available ranges from diabetes management to cholesterol tracking – a feature lacking from other competitors. It was smart for Microsoft to team up with these leading organizations. It lets patients as well as healthcare professionals know that HealthVault provides accurate information since it is coming from the association itself…not to mention the branding among health professionals accompanied by partnering with such organizations.

Was Microsoft’s launch of HealthVault during GoogleHealth’s fiasco a coincidence or was it strategy? GoogleHealth has been receiving negative remarks from the healthcare community due to the lack of diversity (i.e. they’re all older doctors) sitting on their healthcare team. Popular healthcare bloggers and healthcare forums are angered at Google’s lack of diversity, even prompting a written letter from the the Center of Nursing Advocacy to Google. Nurses, librarians, pharmacists as well as younger doctors have been holding negative feelings towards GoogleHealth for the lack of other healthcare professionals and there have been comments by medical residents that older doctors are not the ones to embrace new technology, the younger ones are. However, GoogleHealth’s Team has no one who is under 30 years. It is one thing to upset the younger doctors who are more likely to use your service but it’s another to upset the healthcare professionals who have the most patient interaction in the healthcare community: nurses and pharmacists. Nurses are the ones who spend the most time with patients in hospitals and pharmacists fill over 500 prescriptions a day – think about all that marketing power being loss! In addition, rumors that Marissa Mayer spends no more than 90 minutes on GoogleHealth a day makes it seem as though the project is being half-heartedly pursued and perhaps Google really isn’t interested in making healthcare better.

Microsoft jumps in during this whole fiasco and by partnering with different associations, tells the healthcare community that “Hey, we might now know everything about health but we’re partnering with leading associations for their help. We have the right people behind us. ” HealthVault has been receiving warm remarks among physicians, with one physician commenting that he plans on enrolling his patients onto HealthVault. In addition, Microsoft’s strategy to allow third-party developers to create applications that could be integrated into it, brands itself among programmers and further markets itself among the technical crowd.

GoogleHealth is still in its infancy form but unless they address their problems now, HealthVault has them currently beat especially by launching and therefore, branding itself early among users. However, HealthVault is not user-friendly, leaving room for a competitor to penetrate this sector.

Would I tell my patients and healthcare colleagues to use HealthVault?

HealthVault is not user-friendly. However, because Microsoft has teamed up with very impressive partners, I would recommend my patients and healthcare colleagues to give it a try. If anything, HealthVault is an excellent place to find all the disease management tools from different health organizations available to a patient.

Some of the comments made by users of VentureBeat suggested that Microsoft shouldn’t have released such a “half-baked” idea. Healthcare itself is half-baked, its been years and the system is still fragmented. To be a “baked” idea, you have to launch and get feedback. I don’t see it as a half-baked idea. As long as the team at HealthVault actively engages the community on how it may improve itself as well as promptly respond to suggestions and complaints, they are well on its way.


HealthVault Case Study
Registration – 4 seconds too much
Registration in itself is cumbersome but for HealthVault, just getting to the registration page is a hassle. The user has to pass four screens before being able to get to the registration page. Four screens is aboutt 4 seconds of a user’s time. Some of you may be thinking “it’s just a few seconds…so what?” 4 seconds to get to the registration page is 4 seconds too much.

Let me illustrate this from a patient’s point of view. When a patient picks up a prescription from the pharmacy, he is asked by the pharmacist if he would like to receive patient counseling on his new medication. The majority of the time, the patient would answer “No.” If a patient isn’t willing to spend a few seconds to hear about how a drug may potentially harm him, why would he spend his time clicking through 4 screens just to get to the registration page?

Let’s think about this from another standpoint. 4 screens is 4 different reasons for a user to leave your site. Why would anyone put up a maze before anyone starts using a site?

Registration Form
Filling out registration for a user should be simple as possible. The site indicates that the information provided would be used to customize a user’s search. However, there are unnecessary fields on that form that doesn’t seem to affect a user’s health search. Are these fields necessary: industry, occupation, job title, marital status? I didn’t know being single or married affected my health.

By the time the user has reached the registration page and filled out all of those fields, he may have already lost interest in exploring the site capabilities. It might be more time-saving if the amount of screens to click to get to the registration page was lessened and some fields are taken out or made optional.

The Strong Password
After filling out the form and pressing another two screens, I am informed that my password, which was all in lower case, is too weak and that I must create a “strong password.” Let me illustrate the possible actions taken by a user:

Password attempt #1: use all lower case letters
Result: Password is “weak”. Site informs to create a “strong password”.

Password attempt #2: use all lower case letters with numbers
Result: Password is “medium” Site informs to create a “strong password”.

Password attempt #3: use a mixture of lower and upper case letters along with numbers
Result: Password is “strong”.

For extreme security reasons, HealthVault requires a “strong” password, which to Microsoft is a mixture of upper and lower case letters along with numbers. However, in exchange for extreme security, there is a drawback of losing potential members. Patients already have a hard time remembering when to take their medications let alone a password that contains upper and lower case letters along with numbers. Also, it is difficult to remember a password form not normally used. In a nursing home that I volunteered at, computer classes were given to the residents. These were non-computer savvy folks who were learning to use the computer for the first time. They had a hard time using the mouse and would have a harder time entering a password that would require pressing the Shift + Letter key. Something so trivial and simple to a techie may not be so for certain populations. For older patients, an all lower cased password may be easier for them to remember and type.

Furthermore, a non-techie would not know what a “strong password” is. Clicking on the link “Learn how to create a strong and memorable password,” does not tell me what a “strong password” is. I can just imagine the little old lady madly typing in different words, wondering why her password isn’t strong enough, eventually giving up out of frustration and not exploring what HealthVault has to offer. The screen needs to tell the user upfront what is required for a “strong password.” This would save the user trial and error time.



The HealthVault Itself

  • Lacks the ability to organize documents into categories
  • Inconvenience of jumping back and forth between the partner sites
  • Painfully having to fill out information about myself on the partner sites when I have already inputted it at HealthVault


  • Should have an excel feature to allow users to customize forms they would like to have available i.e. medication list, lab data, etc
  • Allow cropping: Assume a patient receives lab results via PDF and would like to upload it. However, there are some information the patient may want to leave out such as social security number or MRN. Microsoft should allow users to crop the documents they are uploading because some users are not comfortable revealing all that information
  • There isn’t a search tool bar when I am logged into the HealthVault Profile. Isn’t Microsoft HealthVault suppose to be a search engine too? There is no way to get to the search page from my HealthVault user profile


The Search

  • Use of wikipedia to quickly explain what a condition is – genius. People writing medical conditions in an understandable manner to non-healthcare users allows for quick and understandable information
  • Great display of amazon related products on the right hand side related to my search, enticing me to buy
  • Scrapbooking: excellent tagging abilities


  • Customize search according to zipcode. The engine should display relevant information according to my location. For instance, a list of doctors, clinics etc in the area pertaining to my disease search would be helpful
  • Incorporate scrapbooking into search algorithm. If someone scrapbooks it, it must be a good site. I’d like to know how may scrapbooks a link gets. It’ll improve relevant search information for me
  • Advertise HealthVault when users use MSN Search to look for health information. There should be a banner right on top of MSN Search advertising the HealthVault. Microsoft should make it a goal for themselves that every MSN user knows about HealthVault.


Remarks about HealthVault from around the world

  • “application did not have a place for me to enter my past medical history, medication lists etc. I think, for this application to work for my patients, this feature needs to be in place” – Mark Singh, MD
  • “not easy to configure for the average non techy over age 60 who are the patients that will need this type of monitoring.” – Gary Levin, MD

How I would change Health Vault



I would like it better if each search pulls up relevant information pertaining to me. Since I had entered my zipcode prior, it would be nice to have a list of doctors, hospitals, etc around my area. There’s a lot of other things that could be made useful to the patient. Patients complain all the time about how difficult it is to find information. By listening to them, a search engine can surely be made to be much more useful.

Another area I added was a “bookmark” count. This shows the number of people who “scrapbooked” a certain link. Using a style similar to delicious, it will allow me to quickly scan links to see if it is worth looking into. If a link has a lot of “scrapbooked” it must mean that the link is highly useful.

This is just a gist of all the things in my head. I am not a designer so don’t laugh at the below attempt to design. It’s to illustrate a touch of what I am thinking of.



You can read more about what others are saying about HealthVault: Venturebeat, NYT, Techcrunch








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