Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Google Rules the World?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Check it Out
Monday, December 26, 2005
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Photos for Free
1. Stock.Xchng. Great sites with plenty of photos.
2. PD Photo. Another nice site with thousands of photos.
3. Open Photo.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Here's a great site with reviews of about five really nice compact cameras. You can check it out here.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...
1. Favorite Small Company Practice Management Software: The Complete Exam. This product continues to impress. Excellent charting module, tight integration with QuickBooks, good technical support, competitive price. Runner-Up: Open Dental.
2. Favorite Large Company Practice Management Software: Dentrix. A solid product that is the most popular program out there. There were some very welcome changes to Image 4.1 (goodbye dongles and ViperNet!), and the screenshots I saw for version 12 just blew me away. Runner-Up: Eaglesoft.
3. Favorite Image Management Software: Tie between XDR and Apteryx. Both programs are excellent in their own right. XDR sports an incredibly easy interface, low cost, and a growing list of features. Apteryx is the "Swiss Army knife" of image software; it does it all. Runner-Up: Tigerview.
4. Favorite Server: The Dell 830. We love Dells for their great tech support and low cost. Get the RAID 1 with 250 GB drives and you'll be set for a long time. Runner-Up: None. We use Dells exclusively.
5. Favorite Workstation: Dell Optiplex 620. Dell took a big hit in the press this year due to their faulty GX 270/280 models with bad motherboards. A lot of our clients were affected. So far, the 620 has been flawless. Get the Small Form Factor. Runner-Up: Shuttle. If space is a consideration, these tiny systems can be customized for any dental situation.
6. Favorite Backup System: Permastor. A true set-t-and-forget-it solution that has ease of use, redundancy, and security. Runner-Up: Maxtor External Hard Drives.
7. Favorite Monitor Mounts: TLC (Chair Potato). Probably the biggest "wow" factor for any office, these systems continue to evolve. Runner-Up: Anything from ICW.
8. Favorite Patient Education: Orasphere. Great little program. Version 3, which will be out in a few weeks, allows you to string multiple presentations together and burn to a CD. Runner-Up: Caesy.
9. Favorite Scanner: Epson 1680 Professional. The industry standard still shines. Runner-Up: Microtek i800. A nice scanner at 1/3 the price of the Epson.
10. Favorite Intraoral Camera: Claris i310. I just love this camera. Great image quality, small docking station with every option imaginable, lightweight handpiece with capture. Runner-Up: RF Einstein.
11. Favorite Sensors: e2v. The best combination of image, cost, comfort, warranty, and company. Runner-Up: Suni.
12. Favorite Digital Camera: Photomed Canon G6. More than enough for 95% of dentists out there. Runner-Up: Photomed Canon Rebel XT.
13. Favorite Printers: HP 2420 and Canon iP6000D. A workhorse LaserJet and really nice inkjet that won't break the bank. Runner-Up; Dell Color Laser 3100.
14. Favorite Online Forum for Dentists: DentalTown. Close to 60,000 members and growing. Close Runner-Up: Internet Dental Forum. The original and still great.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Playing to Good Reviews
One of my favorite things about December is the multitude of "Year in Review" TV shows on CNN and ESPN and other networks. Well, no need to wait for that: MSNBC has a 2005 Year in Pictures that plays as a multimedia slide show with audio. Lots of great photos and a nice recap to the main news events of 2005.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Searching for Answers
1. Ditto, an image search database.
2. Healthline, a medical search directory.
3. Foodieview, which searches recipes.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Cover it Up
Thursday, December 15, 2005
On a side note, make sure your antivirus is up to date. There have been plenty of news stories about a major Sober worm outbreak that is due to happen January 6, 2006.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Pushing the Edge
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Lost and Found
Monday, December 12, 2005
Likely causes of disk thrashing
The most likely culprits are anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, instant messenger programs (IM), and Microsoft's own indexing service.
Some IM software, such as Trillian or AOL Instant Messenger, may write system events to a cache file. A system event may be that someone on your buddy list is logging on or logging off. Your IM program takes note of this, and may write that to a file, or even play a sound.
If you have anti-virus or anti-spyware software installed, they are probably set to auto-protect (and they should be set that way). That means that they are constantly monitoring your system to make sure that there is no virus or spyware activity. Especially if another program is making a small change (like if the IM program is writing to the cache file), the anti-virus and anti-spyware programs will suddenly "wake-up" to check to make sure that the disk activity isn't the result of a virus.
Other programs that monitor your disk for changes are indexing utilities, like "Google Desktop" and Windows XP's indexing service. Whenever something is written to your hard drive, these programs also make note of the change so that your searches (whether through Google Desktop or through the Search function in Windows) are always up to date.
So, in essence, a small event (like someone on your buddy list logging off) may cause 4 or 5 other programs to also access the hard disk!
One easy fix is to disable the Windows XP indexing service. Your searches (when you click on Start, then Search) make take longer as a result.
To turn it off, click the Start button and choose Run...
In the pop-up box, type in services.msc
In the Services window, find the Indexing Service and double-click on it to see its Properties.
Change the Startup type to Manual. Click the Stop button to stop the service from currently running, then hit OK and close the Services window.
Find out what is accessing your hard disk
If you want to find out specifically which programs are accessing your drive, SysInternals makes a great free utility called Filemon - download it here.
There's no need to install Filemon - just unzip the files and double-click the filemon.exe program to run it.
This program makes it very easy to see what processes are accessing your hard drive, and what folders the processes are looking at. If you don't know what a particular process is, the quickest way to find out is simply to enter the process name in Google. For instance, if I Google "rtvscan.exe", it will show me loads of web pages about Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Cure for What Ails You
File it Under...
Friday, December 09, 2005
The Times, They Are A Changin'
1. The percentage of offices using digital cameras shot up from 38% to 63%, while intraoral camera use went from 61% to 58%. I attribute this to some offices finding their intraoral cameras breaking down after years of use and the dentists choosing to either not replace them or to replace them with a digital camera.
2. Digital x-ray systems showed a similar growth pattern. Intraoral systems rose from 12% to 28% and digital pans from 4% to 13%. The growth wasn't unexpected although I question the 28% market penetration, as our experiences would put that number closer to 10-15%. Perhaps the average reader of DPR is more technologically savvy.
3. Computer use in the office has also risen. Computers in the office jumped from 78% to 90%, flat screen monitor use rose significantly from 33% to 71%, and intraoffice communication systems went from 30% to 47%. The most surprising numbers to me, though, were the fact that only 44% of offices use computer software in the ops (that's not enough!), and most surprisingly, a full 24% say they are using Tablet PC's. We've worked with close to 400 offices, and I've seen about 2-3 Tablets total.
You can see the full results of the survey here.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Choosing an Intraoral Camera
1. Unlike many other systems in dentistry, with intraoral cameras, you tend to get what you pay for. Do you have a limited budget and want the $129 Miharu camera? Well, what you'll get is a $129 image. It may be fine for patient use or light hygiene use; this would not be the camera you use for finding fractures.
2. There are basically two type of intraoral cameras: fiber optic, and LED. The fiber optic cameras are the ones have been around for a long time: AcuCam, DigiDoc, and others. The LED cameras are the newer systems and would include the Claris, the Schick, and the Einstein.
3. The Einstein is the only major brand that offers a wireless handpiece. Image quality is so-so, and interference can be an issue. But most people who have it find the image to be acceptable.
4. One of the main considerations that you have to think about is the interface. The older and many newer cameras use an analog connection (S-Video or RCA), so you'll need a capture card like the Hauppauge WinTV. Make sure your software is compatible with this card. Dentrix, for example, only works with their own Viper PCI card. Many newer cameras use a USB interface, so you'll definitely need to check with the image software provider to ensure they work together.
5. In most cases, the fiber optic cameras have better image quality than the LED cameras. I think the Claris is on par with the fiber optics, but that's just a personal opinion, and I've never really liked the halo effect (that black circle around the image) that you get with some fiber optic systems.
There's no perfect system out there. Consider your budget and image quality needs when choosing a system.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Color My World
Monday, December 05, 2005
The Ultimate Tweaking Guide to Windows XP
The TweakGuides Tweaking Companion is the complete system optimization guide for Windows XP users. No longer do you have to put up with so-called "Windows XP Guides" which have a handful of Registry tweaks and some vague optimization advice - the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion brings an enormous range of detailed descriptions and resources together in one free 170 page downloadable PDF file. Everything from the correct installation of Windows and critical software and drivers, through to recommendations for every significant setting in XP, all the major performance, visual and convenience tweaks, and descriptions of XP's functionality. The guide includes comprehensive chapters on overclocking, benchmarking and stress testing, troubleshooting and regular maintenance procedures. Basically the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion is the mother of all Windows XP tweak guides and system optimization guides.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Free is Good
1. JAlbum. This software takes your digital images and makes them into web-based photo albums.
2. Unlocker. A very useful tool to unlock those pesky "locked" files.
3. Winpatrol. A nice anti-malware program suite.
4. XP SysPad. A utility that gives you control over your Windows system and many others features.
And, they are all free.
Build it and They Will Come
If you want to learn how to do it on your own, this site has a great walkthrough with tons of pictures. Leave yourself a good day to build from scratch if it's your first time, but have a good time doing it as it really can be fun and informative.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
AOL Security Suite
In an effort to better protect its members from the ever-increasing tide of worms, viruses, spyware and other security risks, AOL on Friday rolled out a standalone application called Safety and Security Center. The tool fills the gaps in Windows with antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection.
AOL has tapped McAfee to provide the virus scanning engine and firewall, which is designed to protect both dial-up and broadband Internet users. AOL Spyware Protection 2.0, meanwhile, utilizes Computer Associate's PestPatrol technology to remove over 28,000 different spyware and malware programs.
Employing the same feature found in AOL Explorer and Netscape, Safety and Security Center boasts phishing protection that blocks access to questionable Web sites. AOL works with a number of partners to keep an updated list of known phishing URLs and also collections reports of suspicious activity from users.
Parental controls are also included that allow parents to prohibit their children from accessing certain Web sites. Parents can set an online timer and track the Web usage of their kids using the AOL Guardian "report card."
Like Microsoft's own Security Center in Windows XP SP2, AOL Safety and Security Center features a unified console that displays information of the AOL software on their computer. Along with the aforementioned tools, the console highlights the status of spam protection and pop-up controls as well.
"A broadband connection is basically an open pipe to the Internet, which means that high speed users are particularly vulnerable to thousands of new viruses and spyware threats as they emerge," said Joe Redling, President of AOL's Access Business. "That's why it's so important for our members to have safeguards."
Although AOL Safety and Security Center is a standalone application, it is currently only available to paying AOL subscribers. However, with the company's recent push to embrace the open Web, it is possible the service could be extended to all Internet users in the near future.
AOL members running version 8.0 or higher can download the free software by visiting AOL Keyword: Safety or via www.aol.com/safety. Current parental controls and security settings will be imported from the AOL client into Safety and Security Center, the company says.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Do the Domain
1. It demonstrates permanency. Regardless of the nature of your business, having a site hosted by AngelFire or AOL or any of the free hosts makes web surfers cringe. If you're not willing to spring for the domain name, are you really going to be around that long?
It's the same thing as having a permanent office. Whether it's actually true or not, it causes people to attribute more permanency to your business.
2. It's affordable. Really affordable. If you bought a website address in the late 90's or so, you had to pay $75 or more per year for a domain. While this was still reasonable for many organizations, for smaller businesses, it simply wasn't worth the money.
Now, however, domains can be purchased for much less. As little as $7 a year, in fact. Some places charge a little bit more for the convenience of having your domain name and hosting with the same company, but it's still a fraction of what it used to be. (And I've found having the domain name and hosting with the same company is well worth the few extra dollars.)
3. You can use the domain for your email address. Let's face it, webdesigner165768 @ yahoo.com (not a real address) does not look nearly as professional as email@example.com. And while free web based email is certainly useful for many things, it should not be used for businesses. To a certain degree, this goes back to the issue of perceived permanency.
In fact, there is more permanency in that your email address will never have to change. Even if you switch hosts, your domain name stays the same.
4. It's easier to remember. www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/7116 is a lot harder to remember than something like www.google.com
5. It will rank a lot higher in search engines. A lot higher.
6. No one else can claim it. I've talked to a realtor who had this problem. Another realtor in her area actually had the same name as her, and purchased a domain with that name. The realtor I spoke with lost several clients who mistakenly went to the other realtor, then ended up just using her.
Even if you're not quite ready to get a website, you should go ahead and buy a domain for your business. It's really easy to do, and you can "park" your domain. This means a temporary page will be displayed that says something like "website coming soon." Then, at least no one else can stake their claim on it.