A media hatchet job

Roman Hasil isn’t the chief guilty party in yet another DHB fiascoRoman Hasil

Watching the news media hounding Dr Roman Hasil has been disturbing to me. Anyone who has experienced depression or lived with a victim would have immediately recognised the outward symptoms.

Watching the way TVNZ’s trusty news team pounced on an obviously distraught Hasil and his female friend in Australia was very disturbing. It wasn’t news reporting, it was akin to ambulance chasing. It was cruel.

The 8 unfortunate women whose lives have been affected by this flawed man’s botched sterilization operations and problems with the bottle would have gained little comfort from the exercise in persecution. Hasil is as much a victim as they are.

Who is really to blame here?

OK, Dr Hasil is not blameless, his behaviour was disgraceful and probably criminal, but what about:

  • the decision makers at Whanganui District Health Board and Whanganui Hospital who failed to carry out the most basic background checks when hiring Dr Hasil. They didn’t even contact his last employer.
  • the recruitment company who held back a damning reference from one of two referees (yes, just two) listed in Dr Hasil’s CV.
  • the string of employers who failed to address Hasil’s obvious health problems.
  • the Medical Council, who could have done more to obtain information from their Australian counterparts.
  • the whole unwieldy New Zealand health edifice which has left the Whanganui Hospital so short of medical staff that they find it necessary to cut corners. Too many administrators – not enough doctors and nurses. Overworked staff. A vicious circle of destruction echoed around the country.
  • our pathetic per capita GDP which ensures that we can’t afford to rectify the shortages.
  • the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons who should have a one stop shop database of information about their members.

Who will pay when the lawyers start on the compensation hunt?

We all know who will pay. It’ll be the long-suffering taxpayers and ratepayers when the District Health Board is sued. It’ll be the patients whose care will suffer because of funds diverted to the battle and staff diverted by the process.

Who should pay?

  • The recruitment agency.
  • The individuals at the DHB who failed in their duty. Not the organizations to which they belong.

Every time an MP, a Minister, a council, a cop, or a raft of other perpetrators does something stupid which results in litigation the taxpayer pays the costs and the damages.

It’s time the individuals shouldered the responsibility for their actions. Maybe we could then look forward to a little more care being exercised before decisions are made or libelous statements uttered.


And after all this, and various other fiascoes, the DHB Chief Executive, Memo Musa, still has his job.


Office 2007 tearing you to ribbons?

Revisionists despair

Your beloved menu bars have gone. Completely. Forever. They’re replaced by the Ribbon. A classy 21st Century toolbar on steroids. Captain Kirk could only dream of one of these.

Office Menu Bars aren’t coming back, so the best approach may be to get over it. If you can’t or won’t get over it there’s a commercial plug-in for US$29.95 here at Addintools which gives you a reprieve. 30 day free trial.

Microsoft have reasoned that it’s best for us to be thrown in the deep end so they haven’t provided an option to use the old menus. They do have a free menu bar here for Word only.

Office 2007 has myriad changes, but none so dominant as the ribbon. The justification for this menu and toolbar usurper is that more commands are displayed to the user without said user having to hunt through submenus, dialogs and toolbars. Ummm… yes. Instead you hunt through ribbons, help files and web pages.

Previous Office hotkeys and shortcuts are mostly supported, but if you don’t remember them, or didn’t know them in the first place, the commands themselves can be very hard to find.

It’s a mission. I’m still working on it.

Reports indicate that most users like the new regime. I’m yet to be convinced – to me it’s just another example of dumbing down but I acknowledge that I may have to eat my words. I liked Office 2003 and only upgraded to 2007 because Microsoft gave me a copy after I paid to attend a seminar at which I didn’t learn much. In fact I’m so underwhelmed by the new bells and whistles that my next upgrade may be to the free OpenOffice.

Trouble is, I, and many like me, don’t have the time to learn to use Word, Excel, Outlook, Access and who-knows-what-else all over again. Life is short. Not enough hours in the day and all those other clichés are not without merit.

Where is that thrice-accursed command?

If, like me, you don’t wish to buy a plug-in, but you’re struggling to cope nevertheless, MS have provided some ribbon/menu conversion help in these links:

Word Article

Word Command Summary

Excel Article

Excel Command Summary

PowerPoint Article

PowerPoint Command Summary

File types

  • File types have changed. Doc becomes docx and so on. All to do with standards. XML and all that jazz. You probably don’t want to know.
  • There’s some good news here – file sizes have been reduced by nearly half.


More helpful links

Up to speed with Word 2007

This page enables you to download the demo or to watch it online. If you don’t wish to watch a video the page contains links to text versions.


Word 2007 Demos

Links to several online flash movies:


And for those fortunate folk who’ve yet to sample the joys of Office 2007 there’s a Microsoft Office 2007 compatibility pack here. Not sure whether or not it includes the sexy new fonts that come with Office 2007. If it doesn’t you can get them here with the Powerpoint 2007 viewer.

The pack allows you to open, edit, and save documents, workbooks, and presentations in the file formats new to Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007

If I’ve given the impression of being underwhelmed forgive me. I am underwhelmed. But I concede that I’m a stick-in-the-mud curmudgeon and that if I can spare a week to subscribe to the revolution I may have to eat my words.

Like the PC seller in 1990 who asked me why I wanted Windows on my 386 scorcher.

Then again maybe I should’ve listened to him. I’d be a lot richer.

Have fun.

Throwing good money after bad

It’s about time the New Zealand taxpayer saw some action on the dreadful state of the tottering health edifice. We can’t afford to pay medical staff enough to keep them in this country, but we can shell out tens of millions (hundreds?) on exponentially increasing health bureaucracy.

It’s crazy.

We need answers, results and accountability. Information Technology is supposed to make life easier for bureaucrats, instead it just produces more and more paper which nobody reads and an increasing spiral of administrative complexity. More and more managers of managers. Less and less doctors and nurses. It’s a sorry state of affairs when we’re spending more money on health than ever before, but our health services seem to be in an ever-decreasing spiral of effectiveness.

The problem isn’t what we’re spending, it’s how we’re spending it. What has changed in the system that requires vastly increased expenditure on non-medical staff and services? If those changes haven’t resulted in improved services and cost effectiveness why were they made and, more importantly, why are we stuck with them?

Michael, I suspect you got it right for once

Can’t be wrong all the time.

Wanganui mayor, Michael Laws, had this to say a while back regarding the Whanganui DHB:

“My initial inclination is that one administrative entity that looked after the west coast of the North Island – from Levin to New Plymouth and included both Wanganui and Palmerston North – would be preferable to the current hodgepodge.”

Sounds good to me. Now all he has to do is stop abusing his fellow DHB members, get them to co-operate and start getting stuff done as he did with the City Council; at least during his first term. Maybe he can’t cope with not being numero uno on the Board.

There is no need for Whanganui Hospital to provide full services if a combined alternative could, as it should, result in more bang for the buck. If you’re living in Greater Auckland you may well have to travel far greater distances (and through worse traffic) to receive treatment than you would if you were to travel from Wanganui to Palmerston North.

Case in point

John de Waal A few years ago I cut off the end my thumb by guillotining it in a folding trailer towbar. Yes, it hurt. At the time I was living in Whangaparaoa on the Hibiscus Coast. The nearest hospital was North Shore, but the nearest place where I’d have received full treatment was Middlemore in Otahuhu. By the time I got there and waited a day or two for treatment my thumb would have been dog tucker. Maybe literally.

By amazing good fortune, I hit the jackpot at my Red Beach local medical centre. A plastic surgeon, Dr John de Waal, was visiting to provide staff training. That’s John on the right. Give him a ring if you need a half-life refit. A lateral thinker and a nice bloke. Thanks John :o)

He sewed my thumb back together as a practical demo for the staff. Clever work – drilled holes in the reinserted thumbnail to serve as a splint to sew the mangled flesh back together. Ten years on it’s almost as good as new. If it hadn’t been for that happy coincidence I’d have been unable to carry on working as a marine engineer. I’d have been another ACC statistic on a permanent disability benefit.

So what’s your point I hear you cry?

With our present setup, unless you live very close to a major hospital you can’t expect close-to-home Rolls-Royce treatment in any area of medicine anywhere in this country. If something bad happens to you you can’t expect treatment around the corner or a helicopter in 5 minutes. The cookie jar is not bottomless. Unless we rebuild the whole tottering edifice from the ground up, you can’t expect satisfactory treatment anywhere. Waiting lists for emergency treatment are, on many occasions, as unsatisfactory as waiting lists for surgery. Yet again we need to start with a clean slate. This time with more input from the medical folk, less from the bean-counters and the pedlars of high tech baubles. It’s a bloody mess.

Upgrade WordPress painlessly

The quick and dirty painless WordPress upgrade

But first a bonus:

WordPress says “howdy folks“

Aaaarghh…. I hate that.

For those who, like me, are not PHP wizards, aren’t related to John Wayne and don’t live just south of the Mason-Dixon line.

When logging in to a WordPress site’s admin area, the greeting at the top of the header is:

“Howdy <username>”

As any English speaker outside the US will be aware that is more American than Mom and apple pie.

To change it to something like hello, take me to your leader, gidday, bon jour, konban wa, or kia ora – anything but “howdy y’all” is easy.

  1. Open the file “wp-admin/admin-header.php”
  2. On about line 46 you will see:
    <?php printf(__(’Howdy, <strong>%s</strong>.’), $user_identity) ?>
  3. Just change “Howdy” to whatever you like.

That was painless right? Trouble is, when you update WordPress to a new version, which seems to happen every few weeks thanks to the tireless volunteers who power the world’s blogs, you’ll more than likely have to repeat the change. You have to live with that, but to make your life really easy in lieu here’s a monumental time saver:

WordPress Automatic Upgrade

Get it right here.
I installed the WordPress Automatic Upgrade and put it to work. As my Tech Hideaway friend Martha from Texas who put me onto it said, “Does it rock!”

Does it what!

Thanks Martha and howdy. :o)

This gem disables your plug-ins, backs up your database installs the upgrade and re-enables everything. 2 minutes to upgrade. Being paranoid, I backup my blog first anyway.

Here’s what it does in more detail straight from the horse’s mouth:

  1. Backs up the files and makes available a link to download it.
  2. Backs up the database and makes available a link to download it.
  3. Downloads the latest files from http://wordpress.org/latest.zip and unzips it.
  4. Puts the site in maintenance mode.
  5. De-activates all active plugins and remembers it.
  6. Upgrades WordPress files.
  7. Gives you a link that will open in a new window to upgrade installation.
  8. Re-activates the plugins.

In case you missed it – get it here.