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Current U.S. examples of Public Option, Single Payer and Socialized Medicine

As a marketing person I get a kick how people mangle semantics, especially when talking about health care reform.  So here are some simple definitions and examples where this is being used in the U.S. today:

Public Option:  In essence a government entity set ups a competitive insurance carrier.  After being setup, the taxpayers are paid back and the entity runs on its own.  Both New Mexico and Utah (there may be more) have already done this years ago for workers compensation.   The state legislatures set these companies up to drive down the cost through competition.

Single Payer: In this case, the government acts as the insurance carrier, collects premiums and uses private business to deliver the health care.  Medicare is an example of this.

Socialized Medicine:  Here the government runs everything.  They collect the money, build the hospitals and clinics and hire the doctors.  The Veterans Administration is an example of this.

As you can see, we have all three examples running currently.  So when we discuss health care reform, let's understand what the words mean.

Netbook + Mac Mini: A perfect combination

I wrote an article for PC Week in 1990 about the new Intel 386 SL chip.  This was the first chip made specifically for laptop computers.   And everything changed.  I suspect the Intel Atom chip will change everything again.

Aa For 19 years I have never believed a laptop would be a "desktop replacement".   For me the ergonomics and price factors have always favored a desktop for prolong work.  Which is why people plug in full size screens and keyboards into their notebooks.   But they pay a hefty premium.

When I travel, small and light is good.  But I still need to see what I'm doing and I would like to run "real" applications.  The new crop of 10" netbooks with nine hour battery life does the trick.  But for real work, I like to use a desktop.   Ergonomically and budget wise, it just makes sense.    So rather than dropping $2K on a powerful enough notebook (plus screen and keyboard) you can spend $1K and get a great netbook and a Mac Mini.   I like the mini because 1) it's very quiet and small and 2) it's OSX.   The netbook is XP, but since I run the same application on both platforms, that's o.k.

The key to making this work is Dropbox.  All my current project files are stored in Dropbox, and automatically synched on both machines (plus stored on Amazon S3 for safe keeping).   

And since I have a netbook, I can use a very small flip phone that fits in the change pocket of my jeans.   Since all my email is forwarded to Gmail, I can read and write from any email address.   I admit I'm not as good using T9 as some people, but it works for me.

And as a bonus, the netbook fits in a standard file folder.   Very nice going into meetings.  And here's a secret, you can upgrade those netbooks to 2gb memory for $30 or so.   

So it is possible to have it all and not go broke.   (and yes, that Compaq was my original portable computer)

The Perils of Outsourcing vs. Localsourcing Software Developemnt

I'm always hesitant to engage in a project with people I haven't met face to face.  Especially when out of the country.   But I did it.   It took me a couple of months but I realized that the software crew I had were programmers, not software architects, software managers or systems analysts.  I had the marketing requirements nailed and had discussions about product requirements hoping to work them out as a team.

Specs Turns out they were waiting for me to deliver them specifications.   End result?  No usable code and a more complicated architecture than was needed.  

So last week I had a couple hour meeting with a local shop.   By the end they had a complete understanding of what was needed and the most efficient way to get there.  And a very fast delivery date (e.g. had I gone this route originally, we would be done).

What did I learn?  First off, you have to meet the team.  By doing so you will get an understanding of just what kind of talent you have to work with.  Secondly, you need to be crystal clear about expectations and written deliverables.   And always have a plan B.

Darigold - Great Milk - Great Customer Service

I like milk.   I've milked cows and had fresh raw milk from a Jersey.   It was rich, but not my favorite.  The milk in France is quite good but make sure you order it "froid" or cold.  Warm milk never did anything for me.  When I was 19 I drove a milk truck and did home deliveries.  Getting up at 3:00 every morning kind of ruined my social life, but I did enjoy the job driving around the different apartment buildings in Chicago. 

Never did care for that watery stuff packed in plastic bottles in the supermarket chains.  A I was delighted when I found Darigold carried at a grocer in town ( a little out of my way).   Their freshness dates are a full month longer than anyone else and they package them in waxed cartons (prevents leaching found in plastic).  By far, the best tasting milk I've ever had.   I'm not sure if they use other than Holsteins for their herd or if it's in their processing, but it is a superior product.

A week ago the milk had a different taste which took me a while to figure out.  It was the hint of almonds.   Interesting flavor, but did not belong.  I dropped a note to the comment line.  Within a day they wrote back, apologized and offered to send some coupons to replace the milk.  What was the most interesting is when they told me what happened: the line had produced an almond creamer and the lines were not 100% flushed out.   And this was from a consumer advocate (everyone should have one I think).  

This I liked.  They figured out what happened, told me about it and made things right.  Contrast this to back in 1985 when we had a problem with Jewel's dairy in Chicago and they stonewalled us.