Ballmer Caught in Food Fight

Steve Ballmer got a bit of unexpected feedback while making a presentation to a group of college students in Hungary. One of the students in the audience, apparently disgruntled with Microsoft's educational pricing policies, calmly stood up and demanded that Microsoft return money it "stole" from the Hungarian people.

Here's the kicker though: He then lobbed three eggs at Ballmer, who quickly ducked for cover behind the podium. Thankfully, someone recorded the incident, which has already spread across the Internet. Here's a link to a YouTube clip of the event.

Ballmer was speaking to students at Corvinus University in Budapest about how they can change the world when this protest erupted. The angered egg-tosser (who isn't likely to win a pitching spot on the Hungary Olympic baseball squad any time soon, by the way) very calmly stood up, spoke his piece, then hurled his huevos.

The protester, who was also wearing a shirt with "Microsoft Corruption" emblazoned on the back, was quickly and peacefully escorted out of the lecture hall. Ballmer appeared flustered, but quickly recovered his composure. In the future, I can only imagine security will be tightened to keep breakfast-wielding miscreants from serving up their protests.

Ballmer isn't the only Microsoft exec to have inspired a food fight. Nearly a decade ago, someone nailed Bill Gates in the face with a cream pie. What do you think of these edible protests? I'm not trying to egg you on, but if you could say anything to Ballmer or Gates, good or bad, what would you say? Notice I didn't ask what food you'd prefer to fling at them. Hurl your comments at me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Google's Health Record Plan a Reality
Google has long been planning and discussing its ideas for making medical records available over the Internet while maintaining their security and privacy -- quite a tall order. Earlier this week, after much speculation, it officially launched its health records site.

Google Health, as the new service will be called, will let people upload their medical records to the site and store them there. Google execs said people using the site can password-protect their personal medical records, so they would still be able to access them remotely.

"We believe that patients should be the stewards of their own data," said Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in a prepared statement. Beth Israel is one of the pilot hospitals participating in the project. "Our vision is that [Beth Israel] patients will be able to electronically upload their diagnosis lists, medication lists and allergy lists in a Google Health account and share that information with health care providers."

Google's partners also include CVS, Walgreens, Longs Drug Stores and Medco.

Providing and maintaining electronic medical records seems like an essential step toward reducing both instances of medical errors and the overall cost of health care. Ensuring the right level of security and privacy, though, is absolutely essential, and profoundly problematic. This is made more difficult by the fact that many physicians either can't afford, or aren't interested in, investing in this type of system.

I can see it now: "No problem, doc, just check out myguts.com and you'll see what's wrong with me." What do you think about this type of online medical records access? Gateway to greater health care or a prescription for pandemonium? Record your thoughts with me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Arthur Burks: 1915-2008
We end this edition of Redmond Report on a sad note. Arthur Burks passed away late last week at a nursing home in Ann Arbor, Mich. at the age of 92.

Burks was truly one of the first computer technology pioneers. He was a member of the crew that designed the ENIAC (short for "electronic numerical integrator and computer") back in the 1940s, along with John von Neumann.

A Ph.D. in philosophy, Dr. Burks taught at the University of Michigan for 40 years. While there, he founded a Logic of Computers group in 1949. He also started up a graduate program in communication sciences in 1957. Both of those accomplishments were long before computer science was a widely accepted discipline anywhere else in academia.

You can honor Arthur Burks in your own way, just by thinking of him and those other early pioneers who helped him design these crazy things we use every day. I can only imagine the wonder with which he regarded the current state of computer technology. My best wishes and condolences to his family.

And remember, you can read more about these stories, and more about all the news that's fit to print (or post) about the Microsoft world, on our new news Web site RedmondReport.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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