Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Denmat Acquired by Centre Capital Investors and Mill Street Partners

Denmat logo.png
Here is a letter from the new CEO with all the details:
Dear Valued Customer,
I wanted you to be among the first to know that DenMat has been acquired by Centre Capital Investors and MIll Street Partners.  As the new CEO, I am happy to welcome you to the new DenMat.  I know that you'll have some questions, but I want you to be clear on one point up-front: our first prrority is you!  Our dedication to customer service will be second -to-none.
I also want you to know that we are fully committed to expanding our product portfolio.  Better, more efficient and more effective clinical and esthetic smile solutions will support your success as a clinician and ours as a business.  Moving forward, we're dedicated to partnering with professionals like you to provide:
  • The very highest quality products;
  • Extraordinary customer service;
  • An ongoing commitment to the success of your practice.

What I've enjoyed more than anything in my 32 years in the dental industry are my relationships with clinicians like you.  We've got a great tradition here and you can be sure that we'll be building on it.


Thank you,


Steven Semmelmayer

Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pronto Forms - A Way to Get Your Patient Registration Digital!

Pront Forms.png
I've been tinkering lately with a pretty cool product that allows you to use a tablet to fill out & sign forms digitally.  The product is called Pronto Forms.
Download the app from their app store.  It is available in both Android & iOS versions.
You can then send them the forms you need to have created.  In my case we emailed in our HIPPA documents, health history, etc.  The company takes these documents and creates digital versions of them.  Once the forms are setup, you simply log into your Pronto Forms account on  your tablet and the forms are right there for a patient to fill out.  The really cool part is that after filling out the necessary info, the patient can sign the form with their fingertip right on the tablet.
Once the forms are completed, they are available for download from the Pronto Forms website and they can be dropped right into your dental software.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Apple Attempting to Move to *Much* Higher Res on Screen in iPad 3

iPad 3.jpg
The pic above is just an artist's rendition, so don't let your heart rate get too high!
Word has it that Apple is readying the iPad 3 and that the latest tablet will have a stunning display.  Of course the display is all about the number of pixels that can be squeezed onto a screen and Apple has continued to do a good job of squeezing with every iPad generation.
The latest may very well have 264 pixels per inch which would be double the number that the iPad 2 comes in with at 132 pixels per inch.
Apple has been pushing what they are calling Retina display which is 300 pixels per inch.  Supposedly that is the pixel density where the human eye can no longer discern the individual pixels.  While the iPad 3 doesn't look like it will reach quite that boundary, the new display should definitely be amazing.
My question is that "once we get to a point that we can no longer see pixels, is resolution then a moot point?"  Time will tell.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things I'm Thankful for 2011

It's a weird world we live in.  Admit it.  We all know it.  Things move at a dizzying pace and despite  our best efforts, things get out of control.  It's hard to sit back and take it all in most days.  That's why I think it is really important to set aside a moment from time to time and just take it all in.  One of the downfalls of being human is forgetting to enjoy the ride.  We get so caught up in getting to the destination, that we forget to look out the window and enjoy the world as it whizzes by outside.


So as the world zips past me at breakneck speed, I try and make the effort from time to time to just stop and think about the wonderful things I'm surrounded by.  One of the days that help me make that effort is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.  I mean, what better time to think of all the great things in your life than on a holiday dedicated to the concept of being thankful?  So here is this year's list of things that I really am grateful for.


  • Thanks God, for all you have done for me and all that you continue to do.  I'm grateful that you've taken someone like me and blessed me so abundantly.
  • Thanks to my wife who puts up with me on a daily basis and endures my crazy travel schedule with a hug, a smile, and never a complaint.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I love you...
  • Thanks to my great family.  Sometimes (*gasp*) I'm not the easiest guy to live with, but you always are there for me with love, hugs, laughs, smiles and everything else that makes life worth living.  I could type for a month or a year and still not capture the essence of how much you mean to me and how wonderful my life is because of you.
  • My mom & dad.  There has never been a son who is so  honored to have the parents that I do.  You have stood by me when no one else would and I love you for that more than I can say.  Thanks for always being there and for believing in me when no one else did.
  • For the sound of raindrops on the roof during a heavy downpour.
  • I'm thankful for the wagging tail of a big black lab and the soft paws of a young tabby cat...
  • I thankful for the human beings that trust me as their doctor.  My dream, since I was three years old, was to be a dentist and every day I'm incredibly grateful to all of you that I get to do what I do.  It is truly a privilege to help you and I want you all to know how much I value your trust.
  • I'm thankful for the sounds of the children on the playground that I can hear when my office windows are open.
  • I'm thankful for all the friends I have in the dental industry.  I really love working with all of  you to change the profession of dentistry for the better.  I love knowing that our efforts end up making things better for the patients that receive care.  That's what gets me out of bed every morning!
  • For the beauty of pristine new fallen snow.
  • For the sound of the bat as it comes off the ball... especially when the bat is in the hands of Albert Pujols.  I'm a rare breed being a Royals fan, a Cardinals fan, and a Red Sox fan.
  • For the smell of freshly mown grass and hotdogs drifting over my seats at the "K" on a warm summer night.  I love my wife, but baseball is my mistress...
  • I'm thankful for my brick in the sidewalk outside the main entrance to Kaufmann Stadium.  It was a surprise gift and reads "John Flucke, The Best Dad Ever".  Those last 4 words are, in that order, my favorite in the English language.
  • I'm thankful for Barry and Audrey.  Their emails, letters, and gifts to the family are always a welcome treat and the fact they do all this for a family half a planet away is just amazing to me.  The warmth they bring to me is just difficult to put into words.
  • I'm thankful for my friendship with Don.  He's my friend, my confidante, and my mentor.  There are certain situations in everyone's life where sometimes the stars align and you get something amazing.  My friendship with Don is like that.
  • I'm thankful for Thais Carter at Advanstar/Dental Products Report.  She's amazing to work with and she helps me in so many ways that it's hard to list them here.  When you are a writer, you get help from a lot of sources that people don't really hear about.  Thais is one of those sources and she is a huge factor in why I love writing so much.
  • I'm thankful for the warm and fragrant goodness of my favorite Starbucks latte early in the morning.  This from someone who used to tease friends who frequented coffee shops.  Starbucks has won me over!
  • I'm  thankful for Marty & Paul and all of our crazy adventures touring as Dental Technology Solutions.  The sound of "Mr. Jones", "Custard Pie", and "Enter Sandman" brings a smile to my face every time.  I'll forever remember the moose, the Jerky Outlet, and the "Shroud of Turin" as well as dozens of other moments of hilarity.  However, I still "find the distance to the stage too far".  :-)
  • I'm thankful for those in the travel industry who deal with the daily problems of travels with a smile and with understanding.  So many times we just want to get home to our families and you help us do that!
  • Thanks to those who put themselves in harms way on a daily basis so that I can continue to do the things I do and not even have to think about the fact that I'm safe because of what you do.
  • And finally, I'm thankful to you!  This blog is a labor of love, but it takes you, the readers to make it happen.  By taking time out of your busy lives and busy schedules you make all of this worthwhile.  I'm truly honored and grateful that so many of you take the time to read, comment, and email.  I've always loved writing.  Even from the time I was in junior high school and this blog gives me a nice way of sharing with others.  I'm truly grateful that so many of you take the time to read and have become part of the "blog community'.  You guys and gals are the reason I do this I don't think you'll ever truly know how grateful I am that you honor me by reading.  So thanks to you and my best wishes for a great Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dental Informatics postgraduate training program announcement at University of Pittsburgh

One of my colleagues and a bright guy I'm honored to call my friend, is Dr. Titus Schleyer.  He is the Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Dental Informatics at the dental school at Pitt.  I've known him for several years now and have a great amount of respect for him and for what he accomplishes within the realm of "dental informatics" at the school.

If you are interested in a career in this fascinating field, read on.  They are looking for folks who want a career!


Subject: Seeking applicants for MS/PhD/postdoctoral positions in dental informatics


Dear colleague,


Help shape the field of informatics in healthcare by training in dental informatics at the University of Pittsburgh! At the Center for Dental Informatics, you can get training in a cutting-edge discipline and conduct innovative research on:


  • electronic dental records
  • decision support
  • human-computer interaction
  • reuse of clinical data for research
  • evidence-based dentistry
  • teledentistry


Getting training in a variety of aspects on informatics opens up unique career opportunities, such as in software development, information technology management, academic teaching and research, and consulting.


We are currently recruiting applicants at the certificate, MS, PhD and postdoctoral levels. The program is highly multidisciplinary and is open to individuals with a variety of backgrounds, such as information science/computer science, dentistry, medicine, information technology or related fields.


Financial support, in the form of a full scholarship, a stipend, health insurance and more from the National Institutes of Health is available to eligible individuals. Applications are accepted immediately. Program start is August 2012.


Please note: The NIH also offers a loan repayment program for educational loans for up to $35,000/year for 3 years.


For more information, please visit our Website at




Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD


P.S. Please forward this message to interested individuals if you can. Thanks!


Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD

Assoc. Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics

School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 3501 Terrace Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Skype: titus.schleyer, Ph: (412) 648-8886, Fax: (412) 648-9960, E-mail:








P.P.S. Interested in dental informatics? Join the worldwide dental informatics community at for free!




Free Training in Dental Informatics

cget training in a cutting-edge discipline

c conduct innovative research on: c electronic dental records c decision support c human-computer interaction

c reuse of clinical data for research

c evidence-based dentistry

c teledentistry copen unique career options for


MS/PhD/ Postdoc

cMS: 36 credits, MS project/thesis

cPhD: 72 credits, doctoral thesis

cPostdoc: develop a research and academic career

cover 35 trainees in the program cvariety of backgrounds (DDS/DMD,

MD, computer science, etc.) cfull scholarship/stipend available

Apply now for 8/2012!

Funded by the National Institutes of HealthUniversity of Pittsburgh

The NIH also offers a loan repayment program for educational loans for up to $35,000/year for 3 years.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Joy of Portable Books... and I Mean *Very* Portable

Amazon Kindle Logo.png
I've been a Kindle user for several years now.  My original Kindle is big and klunky, but it still works well and I'm glad that I jumped on the Kindle bandwagon early (thanks Ben!)
One of the great things about that particular early adopter moment is that it got me on the electronic book train before it ever really left the station.  By doing that, I was able to really be part of the swell of e-books before the first wave ever really formed.
For the record, I completely, totally, and madly love reading books electronically. The process is easy to use and easy on the eyes.  I don't ever want to go back to paper again.
Now we're seeing what I consider to be the next generation of the ebook which is not to say the newest offerings from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but instead, the development of apps that will allow for true "cross platform" reading.
What I'm seeing is that many of us who have been ebook readers for some time now no longer need to be convinced of the concept.  No, what we need are the ways to grab our books wherever we need them.  Example:  I'll readily admit I'm hooked on the whole "Kindle Concept" even though I haven't picked up my Kindle in over a month.  How can I be a KIndle diehard & not even use it?  I'll explain that in a moment.  First let me explain the "hooked on the concept" part.
The idea of a small device that holds all my books and goes anywhere with me is a tremendous idea.  Amazon was the early winner in the category even though they were not the first to market.  Their agreements with publishers gave them a huge library of books that were formatted to their device the day it went on sale.  I have bought and read more books in the time that I've had my Kindle than in perhaps the 5 years previous combined.
Here's a prime example:  Last year I was at a meeting and I was sitting pool side with one of my really good friends in dentistry, Dr. Bob Lowe.  He and I travel quite a bit for our lecturing and as such we end up with time on our hands that can be often made less stressful by reading a good book.  Bob mentioned 3 good mysteries he had read recently.  I just flipped out my Kindle searched on the books, purchased, and downloaded while we sat by the pool.  I had the books in a couple of minutes and I never even had to get out of my chair!
This scenario happens a lot with me where someone will mention a good book and I buy it right then and there.  Amazon has sold me a lot of books that I would never have purchased if I had to go to a store or even go to a website and then wait for UPS to bring it.  Having books available in almost real time is a huge advantage.
Now we get to the part of why I don't use my Kindle.  To put it succinctly... I don't need it anymore.  Amazon has done a wonderful job of designing & distributing apps that work on a variety of devices.  I have an iPad, a Motorola Xoom Android tablet, and 2 Android phones.  All of them have Kindle apps that allow me to do everything that I can do on the Kindle and the keep all of my books synchronized with each other!!! Open a book on my iPad and read a few pages then close it.  Open the same book on my Xoom a few minutes later and the app asks me if I want to sync to the last page read on the iPad.  Tap "Yes" and it automatically jumpst to that page while keeping all of my bookmarks, highlights, etc synced as well.  Now Amazon has also introduced their Cloud Reader that keeps your books in the Cloud as well and allows you to read from any device that has an Internet connection.
While I don't read much on my phone, I can if I want to and it can be quite handy in a pinch.
I don't have much experience with the Nook from B&N but I've got to figure it's a similar experience.  All said, I can't imagine going back to paper.  The ebook experience is just too good.  While I do enjoy the "feel" of a good book in my hands, I can't  imagine giving up the convenience and the instant gratification that comes with "go anywhere" reading.k

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Bad Guys are Going After Android... Malware Expands 500% since July 2011

Lookout Logo.png
If you are an Android user and arent' currently using some type of anti-malware protection such as Lookout Mobile Security, you probably should be looking into it.
States from Juniper Networks research has shown an increase in malware of 472% since July 2011 with the majority of this activity coming in September & October.  That's right, the last 2 months have shown a tremendous amount of growth in Android malware.
It seems that most of the threat comes from criminal elements that are looking to steal data.  This is usually done by taking legitimate apps, hacking them, and then putting them into the Android MarketPlace appearing as the legitimate app.  However, when installed they carry with them a dangerous trojan horse payload.
The problem is exploding because Google isn't as controlling of their apps as Apple is.  They don't really analyze apps that are submitted and don't control what apps can be installed.  Because of those 2 points , the bad guys are exploiting the weaknesses to their advantage.
As an Android user, I've used Lookout almost since day 1.  I immediately  installed it on my Galaxy II that I'm testing as well.  Lookout scans the phones daily and also scans all apps installed or updated to make sure they are safe.  If you are an Android user, I'm highly recommending you look at a program like t his... especially if you are using your phone for banking or online shopping.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hard Drive Shortage Looms Due to Flooding in Thailand

Hard Drive Explained.png
While many of you may have read about the flooding in the Pacific rim, it turns out this terrible weather situation will also have an effect on other parts of the world.  Now don't get me wrong... I've seen pictures of the devastation and my prayers are with those who are affected by it.  In May of this year, Joplin, Missouri was struck by a massive killer tornado that decimated a huge chunk of the town and many of my friends were affected by it (Joplin isn't too far south of where I live & practice).  I can't begin to understand the situations, pain, shock, and all of the other things that people involved in tragedies of this magnitude must go through.
Now, in addition to everything else that the flooding has caused, comes word that the manufacturing sector of Taiwan's economy has also taken a hit due to the devastation.
It turns out that about 25% of the hard drives that are sold within a given year are made in Taiwan.  When you think about that and pair that number with the fact that the severe flooding covered about 1/3 of the surface of Thailand, you can see that this is set to become a notable "supply and demand" problem for the foreseeable future.  Speculation is that the shortage will be seen in the 4th quarter 2011 and extend into the 1st quarter of 2012.
The other interesting "sub-category" about this subject is the company Nidec.  The currently produce about 70% of the motors that are inside of the hard-dive and power the "spin" of the drives.
Western Digital, the largest manufacturer of hard drives in the world, has been speculated to temporarily lose 75% of their production.
Seagate, the second largest manufacture of hard drives, said in a statement that while their factories are all operational, getting parts is difficult.  Here is part of what their statement said, "Given the volatility of the situation it is unclear what the magnitude of the supply chain disruption will be to Seagate’s hard disk drive output from its Thailand operations. Seagate is actively managing its supply chain and factory output to align production capabilities and optimize its build schedule to meet customer requirements. As a result of the disruption caused by the floods, Seagate anticipates hard drive supply will be constrained throughout the current quarter."
The bottom line is this:  expect to pay more for hard drives for the next 6 months or so.  Also expect that you may not be able to get the hard drive you might be looking for.
I had my first experience with this on Saturday at Micro Center here in Overland Park, KS.  I was attempting to purchase two 1 TB Seagate hard drives.  When I got to the checkout I was told that they could only sell me one hard drive.  I had been reading about the flooding, but didn't realize it was having such an impact.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Windmade... Look for It on Products and Make a Difference

WindMade Logo.jpg
Here is something that I think people need to be aware of.  Yesterday, November 18, 2011 was the day the announcement was made of the WindMade Initiative.
This consortium of major corporations is dedicated to preserving the environment my using "green technology" in the manufacture of products.  AAMOF the pledge is to procure at least twenty-five percent of their power from wind energy.  Personally I think this is a movement that is long overdue.
While we all have been aware for several decades that our energy consumption is increasing while the supply remains static, there has been some, but not enough, movement toward renewable energy development & usage.  It has appeared that smaller companies and individuals have put some effort into this, but the real way for this type of technology to make it to the forefront is for large companies with corresponding higher profiles and carbon footprints to endorse the move to these types of renewable energy sources.
That's why I was excited to read about the creation of the WindMade consortium.  These companies have the financial resources and the corresponding marketing budgets to make something like this work.  I'm also excited about the published goal of 25% of their power from wind energy.  That number is significant.  It's not some tiny percentage or some nebulous goal that states  no direct  measurable number.  Many times I've seen things like, but they are lip service only.  This appears to me to be the "real deal".
I'm also impressed with the number of front line type of companies that have decided to become involved with WindMade.  This is not an inclusive list, but members include: Motorola Mobility, Lego, Bloomberg, and the World Wildlife Fund.  These are organizations that are well known and have the wherewithal to make a move like this happen.
Also, devices and products manufactured under these standards will bear the WindMade logo.  Look for it to be sure you're helping support the initiative.  The more we as consumers spend our money on these products, the more we support the initiative and the things it stands for.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Panasonic Creates an LED with Amazing Similarities to Incandescent... Even the Look

CFL Bulb.jpg
As a member of the Eco-Dentstry Association's Advisory Board, I'm concerned about the well being of our planet and what we're going to leave for our kids.  Over the past few years I've begun to become more and more concerned about that issue and I'm trying to do all I can to help make our world a better place when possible.
To that end, today's post is a geeky one (big surprise there, I'm sure), but this is a topic that can affect not only a dental office, but your home as well.  So even if you are reading this blog, not as anyone involved in any aspect of health care, but you're just here because you re a geek, read on because I think there is something in this post for everyone.
Now we all know a few years ago we began to see a push to move away from the traditional incandescent bulb.  The reason was a simple one.  ICB's are pretty inefficient when it comes to utilizing electricity.  The ICB that we are all familiar with use electricity that is passed through a metal filament.  As the current passes through this filament (thin wire), it heats up until it glows.  This glow is what we call "light".  The bad news is that this "light" is a byproduct of the resistance of the current passing through the filament.  As I said before, the current passes thought the filament until it generates enough heat to make the filament glow.  What this means is that while the ICB does generate light, that light is a small byproduct of the heat.
Most ICBs are terribly inefficient using only 10% of the energy to generate light.  The remaining 90% is given off as heat to the surrounding environment.  This heat causes air conditioners to work harder which, in turn, creates more demand on the power grid.
Because of this inefficiency of the ICB, there was a push to move to a type of bulb that utilized fluorescent technology (pictured above).  These bulbs are called "Compact Fluorescent Lamps" or CFLs for short.  These bulbs are very bright, very energy efficient, and operate at a much cooler temperature.  They tend to use 3-4 times less power than ICBs and last 8-15 times longer.  When one considers those numbers, it's easy to see why there was a push to move away from ICBs and toward CFLs.  However, CFLs were not without their drawbacks.  They tend not to have as "pure" a light at ICBs with many people stating they look "yellow" to them.  They also do not come on at full strength when in a cold environment.  The tubes are filled with a gas that must warm before full illumination can occur.  This means that when first turning them on in a room that is cold (or outside in winter) it may take several minutes for the bulb to reach full brightness.
However, those drawbacks were minor compared to the fact that fluorescent lights, including CFLs, contain mercury.  This means that while they help save the environment with energy usage, they are much more expensive to dispose of properly.  Mainly because of this, there has now been a movement to discontinue or decrease the use of CFLs.
So.. what do we do?  Read on!
Panasonic Edison LED.jpeg
To the rescue comes the LED.  For those of you who have been to one of my lectures, you've probably heard about my love affair with the LED.  They are amazingly energy efficient, instant on, last for years, and are easy to dispose of.  The photo above is a bulb from Panasonic that just won a Good Design Award.  The "bulb" is actually an LED but it looks and acts very much like a traditional ICB.  This particular model is said to last 40 years before needing replacement and it will operate at a minimal cost.  It is not on the market... yet.  However with the looks and efficiency it's only a matter of time before Panasonic or another electronics manufacturer steps up and begins to mass produce something like this.
When they do, I'll be at the front of the line.  This type of product will make the world a better place for our children and after all isnt' that what it's really all about???
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ReQall Performing Well After 6 Months of Stress!

Reqall Logo.jpg
Last April I was forced with a dilemma.  I was a user of a web based service called Jott, but they had been acquired by another company who had swallowed their technology to incorporate it into another project.  Jott, as I know it and loved it, ceased to exist.
Without going into great detail, Jott was a web based service that let you create multiple todo lists.  You could enter them either by text or by typing and then set alarms.  When the time came, Jott would send you an email and a text message reminder.  It was great for those times in the car when you suddenly had a great thought or remembered something but you couldn't write it down.  You'd just call Jott, dictate it and easily within 30 minutes, it was transcribed and available to you in whatever list you specified.
When Jott had the plug pulled, I was despondent.  I had been using it and even recommended it to patients.  There were people all over the country that had heard me talk about it in lectures that were using it.  I was bummed!
I made a blog post about the demise of my beloved Jott and , like most instances in my life, technology came through!  My blog post brought comments from 2 readers.  The first was from Trader Jones and the second was from my buddy Marty Jablow.  Both of them were former Jott users who had moved to Reqall.
Reqall was a Jott competitor who had survived the shakedown of the buyout that Jott had gone through.  So... I deleted by Jott account & then moved some of my lists over to Reqall.  I started with things that weren't "mission critical" if I lost them.  You know, things like music that I was thinking of downloading, and items I was considering picking up at Home Depot, Micro Center, and Radio Shack.
Once those items were transferred and not lost, I began to really use Reqall. It became my "go to" place for organizing my life.  Reqall now holds all of my "todo's", "follow ups", etc.  After using a free account for only about 2 weeks I jumped in with both feet and became a Pro Account Holder.
I'm here to tell you that if you are looking for a way to better organize your life, you definitely need to take a look at Reqall.  The site and it's apps for both iOS and Android, keep me better organized and I don't forget things nearly as often.  My life can be really crazy (more often than not these days) and it truly pays to have an electronic system looking over my shoulder to help me think about things I should be thinking about. Reqall is just the thing for people like me.   For all the details, check out the company website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lego Universe Online Game to Shut Down January 31, 2012

Lego Universe.jpg
File this one under blog posts "about life".  If you're a geek like me, have a longstanding relationship with Legos.
When I was a kid, they were just bricks that you snapped together and built structures you could visualize with your " mind's eye".  Nowadays they come in kits that build actual models and working toys.  When I was a kid, we relied on the Revel company to supply us with models, but those models required model glue (remember that aroma?)  And when you were done, the models were not really  "workable" but instead were usually fragile and for display purposes only.  Oh, and as a geek who also had to take a decent amount of chemistry I can tell you a fair amount about the aromatic hydrocarbon called xylene (if memory serves me correctly) that gave the model cement its unique smell, but that is a completely different blog post altogether.
So... in the 80's I remember seeing Lego kits that were like models.  They weren't just collections of bricks, but were, when assembled, an island, a pirate ship, an airplane,  you name it.  I can remember sitting on the floor with my young nephew helping  him put together a pirate ship and pirate island.
The idea was brilliant.  Models that not only looked cool when they were assembled, but that worked and moved.  You could actually play with them!!!
I've got to give a lot of credit to the minds at Lego.  They have created amusement parks, podcasts, new lines of products, video games and they have supported movies and popular culture.  Being a family man Lego has been a part of my life for a long, long, time.
Last year Lego brought Lego Universe to market it was an online game in MMOG genre (massively-multiplayer online game).  I won't go into the descriptive details here, but it was one very cool, graphically intense game.  We immediately became subscribers and I loved watching the adventures unfold.  You can take a look at the image above for just a small example of what the game was like.  However, any business venture, Lego Universe needed to make money.  They offered users a limited free account to give them an idea of what it was like and then wanted around $10 per month for a full user account.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that Lego got over 2 million users, they could not convert enough of them to paying customers.  Therefore, after basically one year and change online, Lego has decided to shut the Lego Universe product down as of January 31, 2012.  Hearts are breaking all over the land of bricks...
Here is the press release:

LEGO® Universe to close in 2012

Online game will close on January 31, 2012. The LEGO Group’s digital offerings will continue to develop over the coming years.

November 4, 2011 – The LEGO Group today announced that it will close LEGO® Universe, an MMOG (massively-multiplayer online game) that has been in operation since the autumn of 2010. 

In spite of very positive player feedback and a large number of players in the free play zone, it has not been possible to convert a satisfactory number of players to paying subscribers. It has therefore been decided to close the game as of January 31, 2012.

“The LEGO Universe team can take pride in having developed and launched a great LEGO experience that many players will miss,” said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President, LEGO Universe. “Right now, we have almost 2 million players in LEGO Universe, and we get extremely positive feedback from players. Unfortunately, we have not been able to build a satisfactory revenue model in our target group, and therefore, have decided to close the game.”

Despite the change, the ambition to develop and run a digital business remains. In future, it is the intention to further pursue cooperation with partners. The LEGO Group has a strong and continuing partnership with TT Games & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to create digital LEGO experiences within video games. A further expansion in the digital area will mainly be based on similar partnerships.

“The development of our digital offerings continues to be a very important element in our strategy,” said Mads Nipper, Executive Vice President, LEGO Group. “We have more than 20 million visitors on every month, and LEGO video games are among the bestselling children’s video games with sales of more than 60 million units in the last five years. Through our experience developing and running LEGO Universe, we have gained a lot of valuable insights, and we have a very strong foundation for future development in the digital area.”

As a consequence of the closure, the LEGO Universe staff has today been informed that the ‘Play Well Studios’ in Louisville, Colorado and the game’s marketing function in Billund, Denmark will be closed. This will affect 115 employees. All affected employees will be offered assistance in finding new jobs inside or outside the LEGO Group.

Further information:

Charlotte Simonsen, LEGO Group, +45 7950 6579 

For U.S. media: Kate Hancock, Triplepoint PR, 901-674-6443,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amazon & Apple are now Both in the Cloud... Let the Games Begin!


iTunes Match.png
I've been blogging about the Amazon Cloud Drive here for a few moths now... basically because it has been available and I've been using it.  The "it's been available" part in that last sentence is huge, because Apple just brought their iTunes Match service online basically yesterday.  It was supposed to launch by the end of October, but delays pushed it back until Mid-November.
Now we get to see the competition heat up between a couple of Cloud giants.  Amazon has made a huge name for itself with the Kindle and all kinds of Cloud storage while Apple has iTunes which is really what (along with the iPod) started the digital music revolution.
Both companies are coming at this from different angles.  Amazon is offering 20GB of Cloud Storage for $20/year.  Apple is providing their iCloud service for $25/year and it allows users to have up to 25,000 songs in the cloud.
Let's take a look at the differences because, other than the Cloud, there are not a lot of similarities.
Amazon: $20/year for 20GB of storage, which you can increase.  Amazon Prime members get unlimited storage as part of their membership fee.  Users must upload their songs (which can be time consuming and bandwidth consuming depending on the number of songs in your catalogue.  The service will take any MP3 songs (that is the format that Amazon sells) but will not take any type of encrypted music.  The songs can be played on any device with an Internet connection vis streaming from the cloud, but you can also download the songs to any device capable of playing MP3's.
Apple: The iCloud service is $25/year for up to 25,000 songs.  I'm not sure how my GB that would translate into, but i've got to think it is comparable to Amazon.  No uploading of your songs is required.  Utilizing iTunes Match, the service scans your music collection for songs & if the same song is available iTunes, you have access to it.  IF Apple doesnt' find it, it will upload YOUR version.  This could prove to be a big time and bandwidth saver.  Also, the songs that iTunes will play that match your songs are 256Kbps which are very high quality.  The one real downside to this service is that it limits you to 10 devices.  Now in the big picture, that probably really isn't a huge deal.  I mean, how many of us have 10 digital music players?  However, we dont' know what the future holds and I've never been a big fan of anything that provides "limits" to my usage, etc.
So... I don't have a clearcut winner in this race.  I'm already an Amazon user and I've already uploaded my entire music collection to the Amazon Cloud Servers.  It took several days (I have around 60-GB of music).  I have had a great experience with the Amazon service and I continue to upload any new songs I buy to my Cloud Storage.  I probably will not be using the Apple services but that is only because they weren't first to market.
Let me know your thoughts on this.  This should be an interesting next few months...


Monday, November 14, 2011

Intel & MasterCard Join Forces to Enhance the Consumer Payment Experience for Online Shopping


Intel Logo.png
I've heard about this for a while  now from Google who has been working on this for a while and are now advertising it on the Mastercard website, but now the Ultrabook is getting this too.
We seem to be heading into a world where swiping a card may soon be going the way of the modem.
While Google is approaching it from the standpoint of using an Android phone to transmit credit card info to the credit card terminal, Intel is coming at it from a slightly different angle.
It all started with the PayPass system a while back.  That system utilized an RFID chip is a small dongle that was waved over a receiver.  This transmitted the pertinent data to the terminal and allowed for the card info to be placed into the terminal and the purchase price was charged to the appropriate account.
Now Intel has upped the ante a bit as they've added "another link in the security chain" and those of you who know me... know that I feel you can't have enough links in either your backup or security chains.
Now, I could type for the next hour or two and try to explain how this whole system works, but I'm also all about efficiency and not reinventing the wheel.  Because of that, I'm going to let the good folks at Intel explain it to you:
Intel and MasterCard Join Forces to Enhance the Consumer Payment Experience for Online Shopping

Collaboration to provide more options for a safer and simpler check-out process for online merchants and consumers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. and PURCHASE, NY – Nov. 14, 2011 – Intel Corporation and MasterCard Incorporated announced today a multi-year strategic collaboration to further enhance the security and consumer payment experience for online shopping.

The collaboration will combine MasterCard's expertise in payment processing and commerce with Intel's strengths in silicon innovation and chip-based security. It is designed to provide more options for a safer and simpler checkout process for online merchants and consumers using Ultrabook™ devices and future generations of Intel-based PCs.

The two companies are working together to optimize a variety of emerging payments technologies, including MasterCard's PayPass® and Intel® Identity Protection Technology (IPT). Intel® Identity Protection Technology can enable consumers to use strong two-factor authentication and hardware-based display protection. This provides increased online security against malware. Additionally, when used with an Intel® Identity Protection Technology-enabled reader, consumers will be able to pay for online purchases with a simple tap of their PayPass-enabled card, tag, or smart phone on an Ultrabook device.

"MasterCard is constantly working to improve the shopping experience for consumers and merchants," said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer, MasterCard. "The collaboration with Intel will deliver enhanced security and faster checkout – with the convenience of a simple click or tap."

Consumers continue to shift their shopping to the Internet. Online sales reached $176.2 billion last year in the United States alone and are expected to grow at double-digit percentage rates annually for the next 5 years, according to Forrester Research.

"Our goal is to enable users of Ultrabook devices and future generations of Intel-based PCs to enjoy the convenience of e-commerce while making online payments safer from malware and hackers with the advanced security capabilities of Intel Identity Protection Technology," said George Thangadurai, general manager of PC Client Services Division, Intel Corporation. "Online commerce is a key focus area for Intel, and through this partnership with MasterCard, we intend to deliver an innovative, personalized and safer e-commerce experience to consumers."



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Adobe Announces It is Officially Killing Mobile Flash

Adobe Flash Logo.jpg
This is a curious "chicken & egg" story.  When the original iPad came out, many tech lovers couldn't believe that Apple was't supporting mobile Flash on the device.  There was  a fairly big "brouhaha" about the whole deal and Steve Jobs was alternately praised & pilloried over the decision.  However, Steve being Steve, he stuck to his guns, refusing to cave to pressure and the next generation of iPod was released still not supporting mobile Flash.  It strange,  but I really don't feel like I miss it all that much on the iPad I own.  I also have a Motorola Xoom which does support Flash, and I don't find myself reaching for one device or the other based on what I need to view.
I began thinking that maybe Steve was right, although I never fully drank the Apple Kool-Aid.
Now, however, it's more chicken & egg than ever before.  You see, on November 9th, 2011 at 5:59 a.m. Danny Winokur, Vice President & General Manager, Interactive Development at Adobe announced on the Adobe Blog, that Adobe would no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.
So, did video kill the radio star?  (And if you don't get that really deep 80's reference, you'll have to loo that up... sorry)
I'm not sure whether Jobs & Apple's failure to support Flash did t his or whetehr the writing was on the wall.  Either way, Flash on mobile is now dead.
For the full post & information, click on the link above.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Apple Issues a Worldwide Recall for Some of the First-Generation iPod Nano's


iPod Nano Defective.jpg
Although it doesn't happen frequently, it does happen.  The law of averages states that if you do enough of a certain activity or manufacture enough of a product, you're bound to have a SNAFU eventually.
So those of you who are fighting through something like this in your life... whether it be in your personal, professional, or even in health care... remember it happens to everyone every once in a while... even the mighty Apple.
While I think we could all agree that Apple's quality control is pretty doggone good, the law of averages catches up to them on occasion.  The latest problem has affected the first generation iPod Nano.  I did a little research and this is what I found, directly from the Apple website.  If you have a defective device, this should pretty much be all you need to know.  However, even though the info below is a direct copy & paste of the page from the website, it never hurt to check with the source in case things have changed.
Here is what Apple has to say about it:


Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the battery in the iPod nano (1st generation) may overheat and pose a safety risk. Affected iPod nanos were sold between September 2005 and December 2006.

This issue has been traced to a single battery supplier that produced batteries with a manufacturing defect. While the possibility of an incident is rare, the likelihood increases as the battery ages.

Apple recommends that you stop using your iPod nano (1st gen) and follow the process noted below to order a replacement unit, free of charge.

Note: This battery issue is specific to the iPod nano (1st gen) and does not affect any other iPod.

You may order a replacement unit via the web. Click here to begin.

Your iPod nano serial number will be checked to verify that it is eligible for this program. You will receive a replacement unit approximately 6 weeks after we receive your current iPod nano (1st gen).

If you have a personalized iPod nano, you will receive a non-personalized replacement. Make sure to use iTunes to back up any data on your current iPod nano before sending it in for a replacement unit.

Identifying an iPod nano (1st gen):

  • It has a black or white plastic front and a silver metal back - later iPod nano models have a metal front and back. See images on this web page.

If you need assistance with placing an order, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) and bring your iPod nano with you for serial number validation.

Your replacement iPod product is warranted to be free from defects for 90 days from the date of service.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Why LIghting is *So* Important...

For some time now I've been evangelizing on the need for magnification to do better dentistry.  A "not so old survey" from Dental Products Report gave us the information that only about 50% of doctors are currently using surgical telescopes.  Personally I wish that number were 99.9%


A few years ago I made the jump to 4.8x and I can't even begin to imagine what my treatment would be without it.  My Orascoptic 4.8x telescopes go around my neck the moment I start my clinical day and they dont' come off until the last patient has left the office.  They are as important to my treatment as my brain... since they provide a staggering amount of visual data that flat out helps me be a better doctor.


However, just as important as the telescopes is the use of auxiliary lighting.  I have amazingly light and powerful lights that attach to the telescopes and provide illumination to the field that one can't begin to envision using only a standard track-light.  Bright, compact, and following my every movement... an LED on the end of your nose will change your posture and what you can see.


Today is a prime example of this.  I do all of my own endo, and today we were treating a case on tooth #19 (FDI 36) and it was through a porcelain fused to metal crown.  Illumination was at a premium due to the metal sub-structure and the fact that the canals were severely sclerotic added to the difficulty.  The pulp chamber had been obliterated by sclerotic dentin and the canals had receded into the roots making the location part of the access much more challenging.


However, in these types of cases, good optics can greatly decrease the stress level and greatly increase the quality of care as well as the outcome.  I normally wear my 4.8x with the Orascoptic Freedom LED system that has an output of 4000 foot candles.  However, today as I began to look for canal orifices deeper than I was initially anticipating, I switched to my 4.8x with the Orascoptic Zeon Discovery.  This LED has over 7000 foot candles of brightness and made a significant improvement in lighting deep into the access.


We combined this with the LaboMed surgical microscope with an amazing Zeon light source.  The LaboMed microscope performs well, but is designed for a general practice and comes with a significantly lower price tag than models designed exclusively for use in a specialist's office.


When pairing these 2 technologies in the same appointment and procedure allowed me to locate the canals which might very well have gone undetected using conventional techniques.  If you are not currently using magnification & auxiliary lighting, you owe it to yourself and to your patients to explore this amazing realm.  I'm confident that you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Dental R.A.T. is Available at the AAP Meeting and Readers Here Can Get the Same Discount

Dental R.A.T. Deal.jpg
In 2006, while wandering the exhibits at the ADA meeting, I came across the Dental R.A.T.  This is a device that was invented by a hygienist who was looking for a better way to do perio charting on a computer.  She had found the keyboard to be frustrating and slow so she began to try and think of an alternative input system.
What she devised was a computer mouse that is controlled by your foot.  Hence the large mouse (or a Rat) was born.  The R.A.T. ( for Remote Access Terminal) is a cordless and battery operated mouse that is placed on the floor of the operatory.  From there, the user can put their foot on teh device and fully control the computer in a manner that is completely hands-free.
It is set up to allow for complete computer control as well as perio charting.  This is accomplished by having buttons on the device that correspond to the numbers recorded during perio probing.
This year, my colleagues and I on the Pride Technology Panel awarded the Dental R.A.T. a Pride Institute Best of Class Award.  If you are looking for an easy way for our hygiene department to accomplish their tasks, give this product a look.
As a deal to you loyal readers, the company is offering their "show special" from the AAP to you. Just order and tell them you heard about the deal here on the blog. Hey, there ought to be some perks for reading!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The New Gendex DP-700 Pan

For an idea of what a "state of the art" digital pan has for resolution and detail, click the image above to see it full size.

As most of you will remember, we recently installed the new Gendex GX DP-700 digital pan machine in my office.  The "700", as we have taken to calling it, is a pretty amazing piece of technology.  Also, as you can see above, it produces some stunningly beautiful radiographs.
We've had the device in service now since October 28th and it has impressed us from day one.  The DP-700 is the newest device in the Gendex pano line and is upgradeable with features such as a ceph arm and 3D cone beam capabilities.  It even has the really cool feature of being able to take bitewing radiographs should the need arise.
We decided to upgrade our pan capabilities for a couple of reasons.  The first was that our previous machine, the Gendex 9200, was starting to get a "bit" long in the tooth and the second is that the DP-700 allows us to take "half mouth" 3D cone beam scans.
The half mouth scans are important to us since I do a fair number of endodontic retreat cases which are always easier when you first have a 3D scan to work with.  My philosophy of retreatment is that there is a reason why the retreat is needed and it makes the treatment more predictable by having as much information preoperatively as possible.  It's pretty amazing when you look at a case and find an untreated accessory canal or some type of bifurcation or other oddity that would be impossible to see without 3D.
We're also placing more and more implants and having a smaller volume of scan means we get just as much information with less exposure, which is always a good thing.
Add to that the fact that we're getting images like the one above on our panoramics and you can see why we're so excited about the DP-700.  If  you are looking for a pan that can provide every option right now... or in the future, give it thorough consideration.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Important is the Keyboard... Answered

Over a month ago I posed this question in a previous post.


Since that time, I've had a chance to get fairly well acquainted with the Samsung Galaxy II... a device that uses only a soft keyboard as well as voice to text.


I've found the device incredibly easy to use, and I never thought I'd say that.  One of the things that Samsung does over some other companies is the use of haptic feedback which means the phone uses a pulse of the vibration mode to shake the phone each time a character is typed.  This provides a much more stable and reliable experience when using a keyboard with no "feel" since it is virtual only.


Combine that with the arrival of Siri on the new iPhone 4S.  Siri, for those of you who don't know, is not only voice to text, but allows control of the iPhone OS to do all sorts of things such as telling the phone "wake me up at 7 in the morning" and it will set the alarm for 7:00 am.  This completely removes the need for typing at all.


So the answer is... yes the keyboard will soon be a non-issue.  I've always been a fan, but if I can give it up, you can too.  I do think it requires you to find the right device, but trust me... they are out there.  I think with our mobile devices, at some time we'll think back to keyboards like modems.  We may get a bit nostalgic but we really won't miss them at all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

iControl Pad Hits the Market


iControl Pad.jpeg
As regular readers know, I've been thinking about whether you really need a slideout keyboard any more.  Then along comes this nifty little gadget that gives all kinds of gaming controls for any smart phone that has a BlueTooth connection.
It's a pretty good idea.  Supposedly the device was originally going to be iPhone only and would connect via the patented Apple connector, but the company decided it was just easier to bypass that idea and go with BlueTooth.
It's currently being sold through ThinkGeek and is compatible with that website's games in the iCade iPad arcade cabinet.  However, it will also work with Android as well.
It uses its own power source so the only thing that will drain your phone is the actual game you are playing.  The price is $75, which doesn't seem outrageous, and can be ordered by clicking on the link above.

Product Specifications

  • Fully functional Bluetooth gaming controller for smartphones (but you can also use it with computers, tablets, and consoles - anything with Bluetooth!)
  • Compatible with almost every Bluetooth enabled smartphone
  • Official iOS App Store Apps include any app with iCade emulation mode or dual nubs mode (no jailbreak required)
  • Hundreds of Android apps work with the iControlPad using Bluez IME, an input handling program. Also, games that support BT Gamepads or Keyboards and let you map keys will work out of the box with iControlPad.
  • Dual analog nubs, digital D-Pad, 6 face buttons, 2 rear buttons
  • Bluetooth connection with HID keyboard, joystick, and gamepad modes

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanks to the Holiday Dental Conference!

Thanks to everyone who attended any or all of the course that Marty, Paul, and I participate in during the Holiday Dental Conference.


I had really great time and I can't believe how much I enjoyed hanging out in Charlotte for those 2 days.  It was especially great getting to see my pal Bob Lowe on Saturday.  Bob had been in Buffalo on Friday, but made a point to come down to the meeting just to hang out for a while on Saturday.


I especially appreciate all of you who spent the morning with me on Saturday doing the 2 laser courses.  You were a great couple of groups and had really great questions and feedback.  You just don't know how much I appreciate that!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Morning from the Holiday Dental Conference

Good morning from beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina... home of the Holiday Dental Conference.


For the next 2 days my buddies Paul Feuerstein, Marty Jablow, and I will be doing the "Flying Circus of Dental Technology" know as Dental Technology Solutions.  We'll be spending time going over subjects like: digital operatories, digital impressions, Internet for dentistry with social media, digital radiography & cone beam, computer backups, and lasers.


So, there will be a minimum of Tweeting for the next 2 days, but we're going to have some fun!


Let the games begin!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jawbone Up Tracks Your Body for Better Health

Jawbone Up.jpg
Jawbone is known for wireless devices, but those are Bluetooth headsets.  Now they've come up with a really cool device to help you track  your health.  Called "Up" the device is a bracelet that, when worn, tracks things like, activity, sleep, etc.
It then plugs into your iPhone, iPad, or 4th generation iPod to upload the data.
From the company website:
What does the UP band track?
The UP band has a built-in precision motion sensor that automatically tracks your movement (steps, distance, calories burned, pace, intensity level and active vs inactive time ) and sleep (hours slept, time to fall asleep, light vs. deep sleep and sleep quality).
The device will be available soon for 99.99 which doesn't really seem outrageous for what it does.  This definitely looks like something I'm going to be putting on the wish list.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PlugBug Improves Your Mac Charging Experience

Plug Bug.jpg
Here's a cool idea that is for Mac lovers/users only, but I know many of you who read the blog fit that category.  This is a nifty gadget that attaches to your Mac power adapter and allows you to charge another device along with your notebook.  That means you can leave a power adapter at home and lighten your load on the next trip!
The PlugBug features a 10W power adapter to charge iPads, iPhones, iPods, you name it.
The best part?  This little beauty is only $34.99
Here are details from the company website:

One accessory lets you charge two devices at once. 

PlugBug is made exclusively for all MacBook Power Adapters, including current and previous models. Snap PlugBug onto your MacBook Power Adapter and you now have the first ever device that lets you charge your MacBook + iPad or iPhone simultaneously, from one wall outlet. Watch this video to see how easy it is to use PlugBug. 

Fastest iPad charge possible. 

The beautifully designed, bright red PlugBug packs a powerful 10 watts, providing the fastest charge possible to iPad and iPhone. Knowing iPad requires twice the power of a typical USB charger, the 10 watt PlugBug becomes a must-have Mac accessory. Between flights or before work, you can charge your MacBook + iPad or iPhone with PlugBug and one wall outlet. 

PlugBug lets you de-clutter. 

When you connect PlugBug to your MacBook Power Adapter you instantly have an all-in-one MacBook + iPad and iPhone charger. You can finally purge that tangled mess of chargers in your computer bag. Even better, as long as you have PlugBug in your bag, you never have to worry about forgetting a charger again. And, powering up with PlugBug beats using a $2,500 MacBook Pro as an iPhone charger. 

Stand out, stand alone charger. 

Only need to charge your iPad or iPhone? No worries. PlugBug works as a stand-alone wall charger too. Slide PlugBug off your MacBook power supply and slip on the included cap to use PlugBug as an extra iPad charger. A solid 10 watts of power ensures your iPad gets the quickest charge possible. The bright red finish makes it easy to spot PlugBug inside your backpack, computer bag or purse. 

International power converter. 

Travelers visiting the US or Canada from faraway places can use PlugBug to convert an international MacBook Power Adapter into a North American compatible adapter. PlugBug in your bag means you’ll have a bonus USB charger too.