September 2, 2008

Cholesterol treatment should be considered in relation to your risk factors for heart disease. Here are some questions Dr. James Cleeman, the coordinator of the National Cholesterol Education Program, recommends you ask your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you, along with notes on why they’re important.

  1. What is my risk of heart attack or coronary disease?There used to be one treatment goal when lowering high LDL, but now doctors treat LDL based on your risk factors for heart disease. The higher your risk, the lower your LDL needs to go. In a healthy patient, an LDL of 125 milligrams per deciliter may be fine, but the same LDL in a person with a high risk of heart disease is much too high. To assess your overall risk of coronary disease, you need to consider other risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, family history of early heart disease and your age (45 or older for men; 55 or older for women). If you have two or more risk factors, you should find out your 10-year risk of having a cardiac event. You can calculate it yourself at the Web site of the National Cholesterol Education Program. Your risk can then help determine how low your LDL cholesterol needs to go.

  2. What is my lipoprotein profile, including my total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides?Patients who discuss their cholesterol profiles and heart disease risks with their doctors tend to do better on a cholesterol-lowering treatment program, a recent study reported, perhaps because they adhere better to dietary and medical advice. While your LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, will be the biggest driver of what your treatment will be, the other factors will have a bearing on how you should be treated. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from your arteries. High levels of triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood, can raise your heart disease risk as well..

  3. What is my target goal for lowering LDL cholesterol?It’s important not to think of one LDL goal for all. Your target LDL depends on your 10-year risk of having a heart attack. A husband and wife of the same age may have different LDL goals, depending on their risk factors. For example, an LDL of 120 might be fine for a healthy 50-year-old with no other risk factors but be much too high for a person with diabetes.

  4. If I need to lower my LDL, how important are lifestyle approaches?The first and primary line of treatment is lifestyle modification. Anyone with high LDL needs to make therapeutic lifestyle changes that involve dietary, exercise and weight control measures. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol, high in soluble fiber, and low in simple carbohydrates (choose whole grain foods instead). And it’s helpful to eat foods that contain or are fortified with stanols and sterols.

  5. If LDL doesn’t respond sufficiently to lifestyle changes, am I a candidate for drug treatment?This will depend on your risk profile. If you’re in the 10 percent to 20 percent or greater risk range, you will probably be put on a statin, the drug treatment of choice. But statins are never a substitute for therapeutic lifestyle changes, which will enable you to keep your drug dose lower and reduce the risk of side effects. Lifestyle changes also produce benefits that the drugs cannot. Diet and exercise can reduce not only LDL levels but hypertension, as well as your risk of diabetes and blood clotting. These additional three benefits are not prime effects of statins.

  6. If I’m at low risk of heart disease, what can I do to keep my risk low?Always follow therapeutic lifestyle changes to keep LDL and other risk factors low. An important study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 found that people with a mutation of the gene called PCSK9 have naturally low LDL levels, and these low levels were associated with a vastly reduced rate of heart disease. The average LDL in the subjects with the PCSK9 mutation was 100, which produced an 88 percent reduction in heart disease. The implication of this study is that a low LDL level maintained over a lifetime produces very low heart disease rates. Keeping LDL low through lifestyle changes throughout life promises to significantly reduce your overall risk of heart disease.

  7. Do I need to be concerned about my waist circumference? You can have normal LDL but be at high risk of heart disease if you have metabolic syndrome. This constellation of symptoms includes having a waist circumference of 35 inches or more for women, 40 inches or more for men; triglycerides of 150 or more; HDL of less than 40 in men or less than 50 in women; blood pressure of more than 130/85 (either number being higher); and a fasting blood sugar of 100 or more. The treatment for metabolic syndrome is weight loss, diet and physical activity.

  8. How important is it that I raise my “good” HDL?If you have low HDL and LDL is not particularly high, the first goal is to get your LDL down even further. Whilethere’s a lot of evidence that lowering LDL lowers risk of coronary heart disease and prolongs life, the same degree of evidence is not available regarding the effects of raising HDL. If you still need to lower your risk after you’ve reduced your LDL, you can treat low HDL as well. Quitting smoking, losing weight and increasing physical activity can raise HDL. If your doctor recommends medication, currently available treatments include prescription niacin and cholesterol-lowering drugs called fibrates.

  9. Do the laboratory values I receive come from a lab that has been standardized?Most laboratories participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lipid Standardization Program, which requires participating labs to do multiple analyses on frozen blood samples to make sure their results are accurate. This helps assure that the numbers are accurate, since treatment is very dependent on these lipid levels. The Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network also certifies manufacturers of diagnostic products that measure total cholesterol.


Microsoft Faces New Browser Foe in Google

September 2, 2008

On Tuesday, Google will release a free Web browser called Chrome that the company said would challenge Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, as well as the Firefox browser.

The browser is a universal doorway to the Internet, and the use of Internet software and services is rapidly growing. Increasingly, the browser is also the doorway to the Web on cellphones and other mobile devices, widening the utility of the Web and Web advertising. Google, analysts say, cannot let Microsoft’s dominant share of the browser market go without a direct challenge.

Google already competes with Microsoft in online search and Internet advertising. They both make operating software for cellphones. Google is increasingly competing with Microsoft head-on in software that handles basic productivity like word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and e-mail programs. Google has Web-based software in these markets that are low-cost or free alternatives to Microsoft’s lucrative desktop software.

Despite the frequent clashes with Microsoft — including the role Google played in thwarting an attempted acquisition of Yahoo — Google has come out on top only in search and search advertising. But Google does not have to win the browser war. Strategically, opening yet another front against Microsoft forces it to divert resources to defend franchises.

Now, Chrome heightens the rivalry and marks a shift for Google, which has strongly backed Firefox, the open-source browser that has gained about a fifth of the market against the dominant Internet Explorer.

Google’s browser project has been under way for more than a year, a person close to the company said.

In a brief statement, Microsoft welcomed the new entry and expressed confidence that people would prefer Explorer, which is on every Windows PC sold.

“The browser landscape is highly competitive,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer group. “But people will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips, respects their personal choices about how they want to browse and, more than any other browsing technology, puts them in control of their personal data online.”

Google has clashed with Microsoft before, saying it had designed IE to gain ground in search, a market where Google is the runaway leader.

After Microsoft introduced IE 7 in 2006, Google complained that the browser’s search box favored Microsoft’s search service. Microsoft responded and made modifications, and a federal judge overseeing the antitrust consent decree against Microsoft determined that the browser design was not anticompetitive.

The first round of the browser wars in the 1990s led to a sweeping federal antitrust suit against Microsoft for the tactics it used to stifle competition from the commercial pioneer in browsing software, Netscape Communications. A federal appeals court ruled in 2001 that Microsoft had repeatedly violated the nation’s antitrust laws. Microsoft later reached a settlement with the Bush administration, which included some sanctions but left the company free to bundle browsing software with Windows, which runs more than 90 percent of all personal computers.

Microsoft recently stepped up its own browser development efforts, given the increasing importance of the browser and signs that Firefox is nibbling at its lead. Microsoft released a new version, IE8, last week to generally favorable reviews.

Microsoft still holds 73 percent of the browser market, according to Net Applications, a research firm. The market share for Firefox has climbed to 19 percent, while Apple’s Safari has 6 percent.

Chrome also puts Google in competition with an ally, the Mozilla Corporation, which manages the Firefox project. Just last week, Google renewed its deal with Mozilla. Under the arrangement, Google Search is the home page for Firefox and Google is its default search bar, and Google makes substantial payments to Mozilla. The agreement runs through November 2011, and will continue.

Google’s cooperation with Mozilla, however friendly, meant that it was ceding control of the Internet’s vital gateway technology — and the dominant supplier of that technology is its archrival, Microsoft.

Given the increasing importance of the browser and its widening competition with Microsoft, Google’s entry into the market is not surprising, said John Lilly, chief executive of Mozilla.

“It would be more surprising to me if Google didn’t do something in the browser space,” Mr. Lilly said. “After all, Google is 100 percent on the Web.”

Microsoft Dynamics GP Enterprise – Human Resources (HR)

September 2, 2008

Attract talented individuals, manage personnel-related processes, implement and monitor benefit programs, handle payroll, provide employee self-service tools and provide the information upper management needs for making educated decisions more quickly and efficiently. Microsoft Dynamics GP – formerly Microsoft Great Plains – for human resource (HR) management also integrates with leading payroll service providers, including ADP, enabling employee information and payroll data to be easily shared.

In order to generate substantial success, you need robust tools that strategically manage your organization’s greatest business asset: your employees. The human resources (HR) tools included in Microsoft Dynamics GP, a complete business management solution, efficiently manage human resources administration accurately and effectively. Additionally, this human resource management system (HRMS) operates like and with familiar Microsoft products, enabling users to make knowledgeable decisions and empowering employees to maximize their potential.

Customize your HR tools to work the way you do.
The human resources tools available in Microsoft Dynamics GP provide access to critical information exactly when you need it, providing you with the ability to make fast, efficient decisions. Additionally, Microsoft Dynamics GP facilitates successful communication with staff, a well-organized payroll process, and improved services and programs for employees. Customizable schedules, pay rates and hiring processes can be established with Microsoft Dynamics GP.

* Provide employees with familiar tools.
* Personalize the user experience.
* Integrate your systems to reduce unnecessary data entry.
* Implement reasonable and consistent policies – follow a standardized hiring process.
* Streamline the hiring processes by identifying top talent and maintaining a fair recruiting process with customized interview documents for acknowledgement, invitation, offer and rejection letters.

Monitor the satisfaction of your employees and maximize the value they add.
Using the advanced human resources (HR) tools in Microsoft Dynamics GP, track crucial health and wellness information in order to monitor the well-being of your employees and follow regulatory compliance. Additionally, manage employee certifications, licenses and training requirements to support your employees in meeting their potential and maintaining their qualifications.

* Track health and wellness data.
* Automate follow-up tasks for injury and illness records.
* Comply with regulated licensing requirements.
* Give employees the ability to update their own information.
* Automate the tracking of expiration dates for licensing and certification requirements so that a deadline is never missed.

Enhance worker satisfaction by granting employees and managers access to information.
Improve efficiency throughout your organization by providing managers and employees access to their personal information through a customized, RoleTailored Web portal. The self-service tools in Microsoft Dynamics GP as well as the automated transfer of information to the human resources (HR) department eliminate paper-based systems, enabling your team to focus on more pressing priorities.

Computer viruses make it to orbit

September 2, 2008

A computer virus is alive and well on the International Space Station (ISS).

Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS in July were infected with a virus known as Gammima.AG.

The worm was first detected on Earth in August 2007 and lurks on infected machines waiting to steal login names for popular online games.

Nasa said it was not the first time computer viruses had travelled into space and it was investigating how the machines were infected.

Orbital outbreak

Space news website SpaceRef broke the story about the virus on the laptops that astronauts took to the ISS.

Nasa told SpaceRef that no command or control systems of the ISS were at risk from the malicious program.

The laptops infected with the virus were used to run nutritional programs and let the astronauts periodically send e-mail back to Earth.

The laptops carried by astronauts reportedly do not have any anti-virus software on them to prevent infection.

Once it has scooped up passwords and login names the Gammima.AG worm virus tries to send them back to a central server. It targets a total of 10 games most of which are popular in the Far East such as Maple Story, HuangYi Online and Talesweaver.

Nasa is working with partners on the ISS to find out how the virus got on to the laptop in the first place.

The ISS has no direct net connection and all data traffic travelling from the ground to the spacecraft is scanned before being transmitted.

It is thought that the virus might have travelled via a flash or USB drive owned by an astronaut and taken into space.

The space agency also plans to put in place security systems to stop such incidents happening in the future.

The virus travelled on a laptop issued to an astronaut