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Hell Freezes Over

Back in May I asked the question whether Apple Mac computers were ready for the enterprise. It seems that the independent technology and market research company Forrester Research feels that not only are Macs ready for the enterprise, but tells IT that “Mac users are your HEROes and you should enable them not hinder them”. The review of the report in CNNMoney shares Forrester’s definition of HERO –  Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives — “the 17% of information workers who use new technologies and find innovative ways to be more productive and serve customers more effectively.”

This falls on the heels of news in a ComputerWorld UK article this summer that ITV is embarking on an 18 month plan to transition its 7000 strong workforce to Macs and Google Apps.

Looks like the IT landscape is heading for that long-overdue shake-up.

Are Mac’s Ready for Business?

The Hardware

According to The Loop yesterday, Consumer Reports, an American Magazine (requires subscription) similar to the UK’s Which?, Mac portable computers are rated as ‘the top in every category’. This covers the 11-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros. According to commenters, that’s not even the newest machines as some of the hardware tested were mid-2010 models.


But what about security? Don’t Macs get viruses now? Some of the recent news about the MacDefender malware might give cause for pause. Apple has been characteristically deafeningly silent about the matter until yesterday when it issued guidance on how to deal with the social engineering attack. The advice points out that MacDefender is not a virus but a scam to harvest your credit card details if you install the malware using an administrator level password. Apple has stated that it will be issuing a patch ‘in the coming days’ that will help protect users.

I get asked whether I use antivirus software on my Macs – the answer is no – but you have to make your own call on this. My reason for not using it is that they add a considerable overhead to the machine, using up power and system resources which is particularly relevant if you are using a laptop. As a rule they are also not much help in avoiding the kind of attack exemplified by Mac Defender, and give a false sense of security. CNN quotes Charlie Miller, a security researcher and renowned hacker of Macs in the Pwn2Own competition, who thinks most people won’t benefit installing anti-virus software on their Macs yet.

John Gruber reminds us that Miller’s top tip to optimise browser security on any computer is not to install Adobe’s Flash.

The Software

Setting Microsoft Office aside, as I feel this is adequately covered with MS Office 2011 for Mac, what other barriers to entry are there? Mac’s will natively connect to Exchange Servers using either the native Apple Mail client or Microsoft’s own Outlook 2011, so email shouldn’t be an issue. In larger companies I’d say that dependency on legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 for certain corporate systems seems to make it harder to fit Macs into the business environment. IE6 will be 10 years old this August and will be supported until April 2014. Aside from the browser, perhaps the deployment of Windows only single-sign-on tools is another common barrier to entry for Macs in the corporate environment.

How’s it looking in your company? Are the floodgates beginning to open?

Thanks to John Gruber at Daring Fireball for links.

900 servers for the 2012 London Olympics

I read in the Metro yesterday that by the time it’s complete the organisers will have installed ‘900 servers, 1,000 network and security devices and 9,500 computers’. They are just about to start on a programme of 200,000 hours worth of testing for their initial 130 server setup staffed by 70 people.

Seems like a lot of servers!

[found the logo here]

Sir Michael Rawlins on Tegenero TGN1412

Peter Lassoff, a former colleague of mine, rightly highlighted in a LinkedIn update today the importance of the recent report by the Academy of Medical Sciences to create a ‘one stop shop’ for the review and approval of health research in the UK.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, the author of the report, stated that it takes an average of 621 days from Cancer Research UK awarding a grant, before the first patient is enrolled in the trial. Clearly something needs to be done about this.

Sadly the interview took a turn for the worse when the eminent clinical pharmacologist and current Chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was asked about the ‘PAREXEL’ trial that went so badly wrong. Sir Rawlins stated that the very serious adverse events experienced by the participants in the Tegenero TGN1412 trial were due to  ‘incompetence’.

The detailed investigation conducted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) did not conclude that there was any incompetence and that the staff conducting the trial had complied with the protocol that was approved by the Ethics Committee  and the MHRA.

I would also refer Sir Rawlins to an interview by BBC Radio 4 on ‘Thinking Allowed‘ in Oct 2010 with Professor Adam Hedgecoe about ‘normalisation’ of practice as reported in my blog.

It’s very disappointing when such influential people spout so apparently knowledgeably about this matter.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 20 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 4th with 47 views. The most popular post that day was About.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tgn1412, tegenero, tgn 1412, edc ipad, and ipad and edc.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


About January 2010


Tegenero TGN1412 October 2010


Am I the only person that’s not heard of Google Health? May 2010


Is your preferred eClinical solution iPad ready? April 2010


iPad to access EDC and EHR systems June 2010

Stocking filler

Still looking for last minute gift ideas for the holiday season? You could do worse than a pair of traditional English shooting socks from Archie Foal. I have seen them myself, they are top quality and reflected in a rather steep price of £39-48 a pair. But probably worth it and understandable considering they are ‘made in England by a company of master knitters who have been producing shooting socks since the 1850’s.’ The wool is a ‘…high twist mix of Italian angora and Australian super fine merino wool. The angora is selected to be even finer than cashmere….’

Quite like the style, presentation and branding of the website too.

Beautiful, elegant, low risk…..

……I’m talking about Kickstarter, an elegant new concept that helps you fund your latest creative madcap venture. I first saw them when they were still in beta. Gruber at daringfireball recently highlighted one of their projects to turn the latest iPod Nanos into ‘Tik Tok’ and ‘LunaTik’ watches. The current Nano has a mode that shows a clean looking watch face and when coupled with the high quality straps delivered by this Kickstarter funded project will make a nice looking, if chunky, timepiece.

What makes the Kickstarter approach low risk? According to the site ‘…..a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.’


Highrise CRM

I have been working on a contract for a not-for-profit for the last 2-3 weeks and have been setting up a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for them to help with managing their grant application process.

I selected Highrise from 37Signals as I have had some experience using it and most of the other products from the 37Signals stable over the last few years. It’s lightweight, easy to use and quick to set up. Importantly it integrates nicely with desktop email clients and address books and the learning curve is fairly shallow. As with most new technology implementations it takes discipline and commitment to get it off the ground. At the same time as introducing the new technology I am creating and honing a complete set of business processes by doing the job myself.

The challenge remains to help the organisation switch from sending spreadsheets around by email to a cloud based database platform. What makes it rewarding, is seeing successful take up and buy-in from a largely unpaid team of volunteers spread about the globe.

Just for the record – no connection to 37Signals.

Tegenero TGN1412

There was a piece on Radio 4’s ‘Thinking Allowed‘ yesterday in an interview with Professor Adam Hedgecoe about ‘normalisation’ of practice. He describes how it had become normal to dose subjects in clinical trials of new medicines at fairly short intervals.

After the extremely serious adverse events experienced by the volunteers that participated in the trial there was a lot of hoopla by ‘experts’ stating that short dosing intervals were wrong and inappropriate. The fact is, that everybody did it this way. It goes without saying that the more cautious approach that we take today is better.

It was good to hear an interview that didn’t seek to sensationalise the story.

Skunk Works


I’ve heard this expression in reference to software development a few times and never really knew what it meant. It comes from an approach developed by Lockheed (and particularly one of it’s engineers – Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson) used to build it’s first jet fighter ahead of schedule and on budget. Johnson pulled together a small, specialist team within the larger organisation and ‘flew under the radar’ cutting red tape and just getting things done. have written about it with respect to a philosophy of design.

‘Quick prototypes. Small teams. No bureaucracy. No lengthy documentation. Limited meetings’.

It fits in with the key themes of their two books – Getting Real and Rework.

So now I know, and can aspire.