Fra Ingvil Hareide Aarbakke

Ahmeds restaurant

Det er vel innlysende at selve mangelen på ting var noe som virket nytt på oss og derfor tiltrekkende, for vi kom fra et overfylt område i verden hvor men-neskene av klimatiske eller rastløshetsårsaker har funnet på maskiner til å gjøre arbeidet for seg, og disse maskinene har nå vunnet samfunnsherredømmet i en grad at menneskene nå må arbeide for dem: fremstille, selge, reparere maskinene, og konsumere deres produkter. Følgelig er vår verden fullstendig dominert av ting i alle mulige farger og utforminger. Her var det nesten ingen ting. Og de få tingene som fantes, var av samme type: Det fantes en slags lastebil, husene var overalt de samme kalkede betonghusene, maten var den samme, folk brukte de samme redskaper og klær. Og alle tingene var bleket av solen og betrukket med et lag mikroskopiske sandkorn, så deres opprinnelige farger var redusert til forskjellige nyanser av grå-gult.

Vi kom fra et sted hvor vannet drypper og renner konstant og hvor hver overflate er bebodd av en eller annen form for fuktig liv. Her er alt svidd og blåst bort. Planter og insekter har fortrukket fra de støvete gatene og kun ved kildene står noen frosne tørre daddelpalmer og henger.

Gatene var tomme, bortsett fra markedet, som ble etablert hver morgen og forsvant hver ettermiddag. Magre menn satt enkeltvis på sine tepper foran kurver: gryn, grønnsaker, diverse tingeltangel som de ikke gjorde noe forsøk på å selge. Kurvene ble trukket på vogner, av mennene selv. Det ble ikke sagt mye. Mennene satt langs en vei uten trafikk, i en rekke på hver side. Det var som om de sørget. Det var som om de sørget over en samfunnsordning som tvang dem til å tilbringe det meste av tilværelsen i selskap med an-dre menn. Men det ville nok være en grov tilsnikelse å tillegge dem slike tanker. De var kanskje ikke engang sørgmodige, kanskje var det bare begivenhetsløsheten i denne byen som hadde trengt helt inn i alle deres bevegelser og tanker, så de satt stivnede som fugleskremsler på markedet og så foran seg i støvet.

Den økonomiske betydningen av vareutvekslingen som fant sted her kan ikke ha vært annet enn mini-mal, funksjonen av handelen må ha vært rent ernæ-ringsmessig: Du får noen egg, til gjengjeld får jeg ap-pelsiner. Til å formalisere byttet vandret noen klissete sedler fra en lærpung til en annen. Men det gjorde ingen rikere eller fattigere.

Kaféer uten skilt, det var så stor byen var.
Et skilt var en overdrivelse og en overflødighet, bereg-net på fremmede som ikke fantes. Ahmeds restaurant hadde et skilt. Og vi leste det og gikk inn.

Etter at hans eldste søster var blitt gift og flyttet til nabobyen var han ansvarlig for sin mor, bestemor, tante og to yngre søstre, og restauranten som han had-de overtatt da faren døde, var det som skulle gi dem penger til å leve og samtidig holde farens minne i live. Ahmed burde ha nok å se til.

Hver morgen gikk Ahmed et par hundre meter til restauranten hvor han møtte sin ansatte, S., som vas-ket gulvet. Selv satte han vann over til te. Når S. var ferdig med gulvet, drakk de te, og utpå formiddagen sendte han den ansatte til markedet. Når S. kom tilbake med egg og mynteblader, drakk de mer te mens de holdt øye med gaten utenfor. Et par ganger i løpet av dagen gikk Ahmed ut i kjøkkenet hvor han rullet ut et lite teppe, la seg på knærne og bad. Den ansatte bad ikke. Han hentet egg hos mennene på markedet, rørte sammen egg og serverte dem for menn, som når det var helt ille, var de samme som han hadde kjøpt eggene av, og i mellom disse handlingene ventet han på det rette øyeblikk til å ta sitt eget liv.

Ikke fordi han var særlig kresen eller hadde planlagt et særlig drama. Tvert imot, det var likegyldig om det var
i morgen eller om et år. Det avgjørende var at det kom til å skje. Jeg har aldri før møtt et menneske som gikk og planla en slik begivenhet. Jeg ble straks redd for ham og unngikk hans selskap etter at han hadde fortalt det. At han fortalte det kan like gjerne være uttrykk for likegyldighet som en bønn om medfølelse eller hjelp. Eller det var kanskje bare hva han hadde å fortelle. Nå, hva har du for planer? Tja, jeg tenker vel i grunnen på å begå selvmord. Jaså, gjør du det, det var da voldsomt. Men hvis du ikke har annet å ta deg til.

Han var for øvrig på det rene med at det ikke ville være noen heltedød og at han ville havne i helvete for det. Ahmed var også klar over at det kunne bli en kortvarig ansettelse og var innstilt på å finne en avløser. Som betingelse for å beholde ham som arbeidskraft til det siste hadde Ahmed satt at selvmordet ikke skulle skje i restauranten eller på et offentlig sted hvor han selv eller andre ville kunne lide overlast.

Kanskje hadde S. innsett det som Ahmed var for oppslukt av sin oppgave til å fatte, men som hans far hadde fattet: at hans liv uansett ville forsvinne, i små biter ville det tørke opp og drysse av ham på vei mellom Ahmeds restaurant og markedet, mellom kjøkkenet og restaurantens bord, mens han bar på egg og omeletter, inntil han var borte.

Han var altså forberedt på å dø, i den forstand at han var uten vilje til å leve og uten nysgjerrighet overfor hva hans 24, 25, 26 osv. år kunne komme til å inne-holde av merkelige og spennende begivenheter. Det kunne kanskje få en til å tro at han var rolig og fattet den dagen, 8 år senere, hvor han fremdeles var i live, fordi han ennå ikke hadde funnet redskapet, stedet og anledningen til å få en definitiv slutt på sitt ansettelsesforhold i denne verden, da landsbyen fikk besøk av ”maskerte menn med sabler” som trakk ham ut av sengen og ut på veien, hvor han sammen med andre menn fikk halsen skåret over.

Men hans søster og mor, som sov i det samme huset som ham, kunne fortelle at det var han ikke. Han hadde vært minst like redselslagen som de øvrige drepte, og hadde kjempet vilt imot da de førte ham ut av huset.

Ahmed overlevde angrepet og var blant dem som begravde de myrdede. Han var lettet. Det hadde gått mange år, og hver dag hadde han tenkt – er det i dag? Det var mange dager han hadde tenkt det. Jeg svarer aldri på postkortene Ahmed sender meg hver jul. Jeg er redd for å forstyrre begivenhetsløsheten i denne lille byen. Er redd det kan få voldsomme og uventede følger.

The mismeasure of man

I don’t have the time to write a complete review or resumé of this book.

Let me just write a few quotes, and link to a presentation with some tidbits from the book.

The main thrust of the book can be summarized thus:

  • Attempts at measuring man (humans) is nothing new, but it’s pretty useless
  • In the past it has mainly been used to show the superiority of white men over all other humans on the planet, and thus been used to justify everything from slavery to regressive social policies (The Bell Curve)
  • Humans are more similar than different, and differences withing groups are generally larger than differences between groups
  • You can’t really define groups in any meaningful way, so you might as well not bother
  • The modern IQ measure is fairly useless, and says nothing about groups (caucasians, asians, etc)
  • Racism is bad

Now for the link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1N_ZQYZOXTYWpDFhuAYIZdwT-ChMNAKh2pPMxwmidZ_0/edit#slide=id.p

And a quote by Charles Darwin:

“If the misery of our poor be casued not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

“Those who look tenderly at the slave owner and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! Picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children – those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own – being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty”

The happiest two weeks of my life

Here is the result of about two weeks’ worth of work.

The year is 1982 in the autumn and all the kids will spend two weeks working somewhere – school is out, it’s called “arbeidsuke”. We are supposed to gain experience from working somewhere. I have discussed working at the local COOP in Tromsø in the audio/video department. This is where they sell the Technics rack that I crave.

Then at the last moment there is a change. Maybe it was the Italian guy called Alessandro who had joined my class, and who had found a place at the Nordlysobservatoriet. He reeked of garlic most of the time, and I think he had curly hair, and he certainly struggled with Norwegian. Suddenly I found myself at the Nordlysobservatoriet in the electronics lab. 3 or 4 guys worked there, and electronics was my great passion, see Til minne om Stein Torp.

As I recall, already on day one I was allowed to play with creating a digital circuit on a Vero board (the one you see above). The integrated circuit was a four-bit counter, and I made it reset itself when it reached a certain value – 10, for instance. With a carry to a second counter it was beginning to look like a clock. Now it would count to 59, and when it hit 60 it would reset itself. This is achieved by using a few AND-gates to detect the number 60 and use the output to reset the counter. So, the value 60 is present at the outputs for a very short time. Not the most elegant solution, but it works.

What I remember, though, is the excitement of going to work every morning with the anticipation of working on my circuit. Piece by piece I added more counters to make a 24-hour clock. I then added a LED-driver integrated circuit which decodes BCD to a standard LED display, and wired it all together. The white ICs on the left contain 7 resistors used to drive the LED. Now I needed a clock pulse, and this comes from a crystal and a counter or two – the result is a 1 HZ signal. It took trial and error to stabilize the crystal, and if I remember correctly a small capacitor in parallel did the trick, probably shorting a higher harmonic to force the crystal to oscillate at its main frequency, the one stamped on the outside. I used a digital analyzer to inspect all the waveforms. Probably Hewlett Packard.

The final steps where a voltage regulator, a transformer, a bridge rectifier, a smoothing capacitor… the regulator IC was a quite expensive one.
The people in the mechanics lab helped me make a metal chassis, and the whole setup was finished before my two weeks were up. I added two push-to-make switches for setting the time.

One day I could not work on the circuit – we drove to the telescope station deep inside Troms, at Skibotn (see this link). That was quite interesting, but I don’ remember much!

The clock still runs all this years later, but I don’t use it anymore.

Seeing Zionism at last

From “A land with a people”, Monthly Review Press, 2021.

Tzvia Thier

“I was born in Romania during the Second World War. When I was six. in the wake of the Holocaust, my family immigrated to Israel. There, I grew up in Tel Aviv, spent years in a kibbutz, and was part of a “socialist Zionist” youth movement called HaShomer HaTzair. While serving in the army, I volunteered to teach in the Negev, mainly immigrants from North Africa. I continued as a teacher and a principal until I moved to the United States, where I taught at a Jewish day school and created curricula for Jewish and Zionist organisations. In 1995, I moved back to Israel and lived in Jerusalem. I was a liberal Zionist and felt strongly connected to Israel. I believed that Israel should withdraw from the Occupied Territories and blamed the settlements and the settlers for the occupation. I was against wars, racism and discrimination, and felt that I had good values. I did not know that I lived behind an invisible wall. I did not know how much I did not know.”

..

(as a child) We had bible studies three to five hours a week in the second through twelfth grades. The Bible was used as a historical document that gave us, the Jewish people, the right to live in the promised land. In other words, a secular society was using a great collection of ancient writings, putting God in the position of real estate agent.

We learned how the Holocaust survivors came to rebuild their lives in Israel. The fact that the Europeans had commited these horrible crimes, yet the indigenous in Palestine were the ones paying for them, did not cross my mind. Arabs were described as primitive cowards who took off their shoes and ran away. Or they were described as cruel people, hosting you nicely, but when you turn to leave, stabbing you in the back. We were told only the Zionist narrative, as expressed in Israeli literature, poetry, songs history and ceremonies. That is, only the Askhenazi Israeli narrative. The expulsion of some 750.000 Palestinians, and over four hundred villages that were razed to the ground and replaced by Jewish towns, villages and kibbutzim, or by JNF forests and parks, were not part of the story. I learned that, in the struggle over Palestine, my enemies were Arabs and the British, I belonged to a particular society, and I knew who I was. It was my identity.

Through most of my life, I did not have any contact with Palestinians, not one friend, acquaintance, or neighbor. The Palestinians were on the dark side of the moon. I never went to Arab towns, definitely not to the West Bank or Gaza (before the blockade). Sometimes, while driving to the north, I would stop at one of the Arab restaurants located along the roads to eat some good Arabic food. I lived in Jerusale, the “united Jerusalem”, where 40 percent are Palestinians (residents, not citizens). I never went to Occupied East Jerusalem. I saw Palestinians cleaning the streets, planting flowers to beautify my city, working on building construction, carrying products in the supermarkets, and washing dishes in the restaurants, but I really did not see them.

..

(Sheikh Jarrah, 2009): And.. I was afraid. My daugther, Daphna, insisted on going there. I joined her. I had to protect her. Together, we found Sheikh Jarrah. This was the first time in my life – at the age of 65, after living in Israel for 59 years – that I had a conversation with Palestinians! I realized that it was not my daughter who needed protection, but the Palestinians. My journey had begun. Sheikh Jarrah was my doorway to end the fear. I joined the weekly protests on Friday afternoons, where I met Palestinians and Jewish-Israeli activists. It was then that I started my inquiry. I wanted to see, I wanted to know. My first tour was with the left advocacy group Ir Amim, to East Jerusalem. I was shocked. It is a third-world city. In this “united Jerusalem”, the Palestinian neigborhoods don´t look like the Jerusalem in which I lived. We were driving on narrow, bumpy, unpaved roads with no sidewalks. The schools we saw were very poor and inadequately staffed and resourced. There were no playgrounds, and the piled-up garbage was rarely collected.

(the author also joins Machsom Watch, a group that monitors soldiers and police at checkpoints – “the Palestinians are .. processed like a herd of animals” – and visits Hebron: “I felt anger, shame, sadness and pain”.)

It has been hard work to examine my own mind. Many questions leave me wondering how I could have not thought about them before. My solid identity was shaken and then broken. I have been an eyewitness to the systematic oppression, humiliation, racism, cruelty, and hatred by “my people” toward the “others”. And what you finally see, you can no longer unsee.”

Paris revisited 2021

Photos by Asus Zenfone 8.

It was lovely to be there. As so often before. The particular smell of the Metro was filtered out by the face masks, and I missed it. Echoes of Covid 19, together with the need to book museums up front. Though in fact it wasn’t an absolute requirement.

We stayed in an airBnB – actually LivinParis, would’ve been cheaper – in Rue de l’Echiquier, close to Porte St Denis and the Bonne Nouvelle Metro. Up a crumbling staircase with wires hanging out, and inside it was brand new and very comfy for 9 people. The rest of the house inhabitated by ordinary residents.

And the weather was magnifique, and the people of Paris were friendly! Maybe tourist fatigue hadn’t set in yet. I talked to a cop, shopkeepers, security guards, taxi-drivers, waiters, Metro-staff and museum staff in my decent French, and everyone was friendly, patient and forthcoming.

We did the sights, and they delivered. I missed Notre Dame. Sitting in that cathedral it’s easy to feel humble. We will be back.

@Louvre the Victory from Samotrace always talks to me.

Mona Lisa is more of a study in sociology than a study in art; how do humans behave in front of a famous piece of art? The description of the painting, how it came about, that it´ s unfinished, was more interesting! And so was reading about the impressionists at Musée d´Orsay and seeing the contrast with what was then comme il faut – huge paintings of past heroics. Did the impressionists use the camera?

I hadn’t noticed “Camille sur son lit de mort” by Claude Monet before. Look it up on the 5th floor at the M’O. Haunting.

Sacre Coeur. I sat there a rainy December evening many years ago with a Parisian girl who was mourning the recent loss of her grandmother. The aisles were sparsely filled with people past their first youth voicelessly mouthing their prayers. Very different to rushing in and out with the tourist crowds on a sunny October day.

Catacombs. La tour Eiffel. Walking along the Seine, and the hop-on-hop-off bus. Awful coffee. Lovely pain au chocolat and more awful coffee. Great falafel in Le Marais. Mediocre Boeuf Bourgignon in Le Marais – but great wine, again from Burgundy (“Bourgignon”).

I did a short pilgrimage to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Talked to a French couple in their early 70-ies and strolled around the small, unusual park. Visitez-le!

The monuments, the avenues, or should I say Boulevards. The stolen art. This is the capital of an Empire, built by Napoleon III and Eugène Haussmann. Napoleon also oversaw a major colonial expansion – Vietnam, Cambodia, and islands in the pacific. How much of Paris´ splendour was financed by this?

Around the corner from our flat, Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis. Streetside cafés, cigarette smoke, beer and beggars. The one who accosts me hardly speaks any French, but great English. He’s from India. The next day in a neat, clean well-stocked small supermarket the lady at the counter hardly speaks any French, but some English. She’s from Colombo, Sri Lanka. “Paris no belle ville”. She longs for Colombo.

I suppose that’s how it’s supposed to be. The ugly and the beautiful side by side. But you got to hand it to the French – when it comes to taking care of the patrimoine culturel, they are up there with the best.

“Paris vaut bien une messe” still rings true.

Ambrogio robotic lawn mower

Some notes on our project to get Ambrogio 15L up and running. We got great assistance from our vendor at Notodden. He always answers your messages. Without him, we would have chosen another maker, like Gardena.

Why Ambrogio? It´s small and can operate in tiny spaces, it´s well built and should be durable. It´s not the cheapest brand around, but it´s used by professional users also. Which should vouch for quality.

If your garden is a rectangle of grass, then count yourself lucky. Otherwise, you will have to modify your garden for the robotic mower to be a success.

cobblestones are about 11×11 cm

Can it tackle a cobbled path or a stone path? Yes. Can it tackle several separate spaces? Yes, but there can only be one perimeter wire, so the spaces must be connected by a single loop of wire. Does it leave a wide margin? No, about 10 cms. Can it handle uneven terrain? Yes, but not so much surfaces that are loose, like bark. Here it can get stuck and dig a hole for itself.

Margin – about 10cms

How does it work?

The perimeter wire probably runs rectified AC, possibly straight DC. DC current runs in one direction meaning the magnetic field has a determined direction, and so Ambrogio knows the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise when it encounters the wire, and can steer accordingly – especially to return home along the wire.

Setting it up

We didn´t buy the garage, but built one out of wood. The model 15 (and probably 20) are a bit tricky to dock properly, and guides of wood on the side are needed to force Ambrogio to dock correctly. Initially it would not always charge. Tried some contact spray and adjusting the guides and now it connects every time.

Home-made garage

Laying down the wire was quite easy, but I would use a tool for burying it if I were to do it again. As it is, it´s held down by plastic pegs every 50cm or so.

Setting up the two separate areas required some talking to the vendor, and it boils down to a 20 cm wide corridor doing the job. Ambrogio can follow (straddle) the wire on one side down this corridor to get from one area to another. In theory, when it´s doing its normal criss-cross cutting it will never hit the 20cm gap and stray from one area to another. In practice this does happen now and then. Making a small bend in the wire at the entrance to the corridor, to make it narrower still at the entrance, might cure this problem.

The corridor: the guide wire is squeezed down, 2 cobblestones apart – invisible here

The knife is 15cm in diameter which sounds and looks tiny, but it works. I have changed the knife after one season, and maybe I´ll manage to sharpen the old one, there is lots of metal left! To change it is very easy.

The robotic mower doesn´t cut the grass by brute force, and hates twigs, wood, rocks and the like: it´s more like a razor than anything else. The lawn must be “perfect”. This also means it´s not fond of tall grass. It´s designed to cut 1-2 cm of incremental growth since last time it passed. Tall grass bends under it and is only partially intercepted by the knife. So if you are away for two weeks and Ambrogio has been stuck under a bush for 13 days, you can´t really set him to work again until you have, er, mowed the lawn!

You also need a tool for cutting the margins of the lawn.

Finally, there is the app. It´s not hyper-intuitive, nor is it bad, and it´s reliable. One thing that I miss is the ability to toggle auto-mode on and off. That has to be done by a physical button.

This leads to the following situation: you program the schedule in the app. You wait for the time to come up. Ambrogio doesn´t budge. After a while you realise you have to push the Auto-button on its top, and then it goes to work…

Nice result

Ambrogio manages this passage the following way: every day when he starts working, he follows the wire a set distance, which ends at the end of this section. Then he starts to work and zig-zags his way back out.

About 60cms wide

Finally, if you have a bush or something, you lay the wire around it and thus Ambrogio avoids it.

Carbonology Boost surfski

Just a brief note following up on Surfski for the newbie: Epic V10L and Carbonology Boost.

About me: 74kgs, 180, with a medium wide behind (). I am cool in a 60cm Citius, fine in a 55cm, alert in a 51cm and will sooner or later go swimming in a 48. Started paddling age 53…

I have had the Boost now for about 6 months, and here are some impressions. I have the 12kg hybrid LV (low volume). This is very easy to handle, thanks to the handles (!), but so light the wind can easily lift it. So do get this version, but don´t leave it in a windy place.

Build quality is good but not “wonderful”, reflecting the price, but everything works well, from footrests to pedals and rudder and bailer.

The cockpit is wide, despite this being LV, and comfortable. I find it easy to get a good working position and get a good leg drive, better than in my V10L. Having said that, I find it hard to get a very upright sitting angle. In a kayak like a Citius, the seat encourages you to sit “ahead” of the somethings in your behind (os ischii, tuber ischiadicum).

The ski measures 50.5 cm, but this feels more like 500 cm. It´s very stable. I have been in the open sea, and no problems, really. Never gone swimming!

Speed: as is well known, no-one is fast if they are not stable (and comfortable). On the flat, the Carbo is almost boring since it´s so stable. With my power and technique I cruise at about 10.5 km/h. In the Epic, it might be 11, that´s how small the difference is. This is on flat water.

In choppy waves, the speed in the Epic V10L will sometimes drop to zero, whereas I can still gun it in the Carbo.

So, it´s a great all-rounder for someone with medium to mediocre ability. If you´re a hero, by all means get a narrower ski.

I have caught a wave or two in it so far, but big time surfing is not where I´m at. It surfs, that much I can say!

I briefly tried a Nelo Viper 46 Ski; that was fun, had lots and lots of secondary stability/final stability (saved my bacon once) and had a narrower cockpit. It´s a playful thing- try it! The price is 50% higher which may be hard to justify.

Agile or just lazy?

When I first came across Agile it was 2007 and I was given a set of reasonably well-defined requirements and a team of developers and a mandate to create an app to solve a problem. Prior to this I was familiar with iterative methods like DSDM that date back to the 1990s, and I had responded to a few large requirements specifications in my role as Key Account. And now I was in new territory, one which I initially interpreted as “more power to the team” (sw developers) and less to the “bureaucrats”. I haven´t really changed my mind.

Agile can be seen as a reaction to the old paradigm of requirements, waterfall, and final testing, with all its cost-overruns and “failed” projects. Agile gives more power to the team, and what we have now is explicitly a running negotiation between the customer and the supplier. This may be a good thing. The realities of software development are what they are – we might as well face them square on, rather than pretend that all will be well if we apply sufficient amounts of old-school professional project management.

So what seems to be the problem? Software is a the same time malleable and rigid. If you apply a little pressure, it yields, and you can often see small changes. But if you apply large pressure to effect large changes, you find that this takes a lot of time and effort. Basic design assumptions permeate the system. A key element, often given little attention, is the information model. Often when we change a “system”, we are actually changing the information model. Moving an attribute up or down in a hierarchy can be extremely costly, because so much logic may depend on it.

The waterfall model was ditched because it is so hard to get the requirements right up front, and because they may change, and because there was too little focus on user involvement during the construction phase. But did we go to the other extreme, and get lazy? The danger in laziness is obvious: construction starts without sufficient probing of the difficult topics; as the project progresses you have to face them, and realize that you started to build the system on foundations or assumptions that turn out to be plain wrong. You have travelled far in the wrong direction.

So when the developer teams says “we don´t know what this will look like in the end so we will start here and refine it as we go along”, my response will be “why don´t you know? How hard have you looked? What effort would it take to improve your understanding before you start designing?”.

As for “agile business” , that looks to me like “retrofitting” or induction from agile as a software development approach. We are told that companies like Adobe and Apple are agile (!)(gimme a break), and Spotify (same app year after year). I find this a sterile discussion, where inevitably “agile” ends up being applied as a label on anything that you want to applaud or promote. Agile ends up a victim of its own success – the other day agile was touted as the means to achieve security in software development (!!). I rest my case.

So by all means, let´s work in 3-week periods and get feedback regularly and learn from each other. But let´s not get lazy. Many problems yield to a bit of determined analysis.

Access control in a medical VNA

Updated January 2022.

How do you make sure only the right personnel can see the medical media content stored in a VNA (Vendor Neutral Archive) – being sure that the access policies are adhered to, without devoting enormous resources to the task?

The answer is simple, but likely to prove unpopular.

Consider first the EPR (EPJ). There are two checkpoints to clear before a document is displayed to any employee with legitimate access to the EPR:
1) Does the employee have a current care relation with the patient (that the document describes)?
2) if yes, does the employee’s access profile include the category of the document in question?
The 2nd step is also crucial. As an example, a physiotherapist can read documents related to the work they carry out, but not the psychiatrist’s assessment, nor other clinical documents. Now, assume an image is added to the VNA relating to an aspect of the patient that’s outside of the legitimate needs of the physiotherapist How do we make sure the image is hidden from the physio? A modern teaching hospital has about 40 different professions, and maybe 100 document categories linked to the professions by access profiles.

To give you an idea of an access rule:
A SOMATIC NURSE has:
READ access to SOMATIC and PSYCHIATRIC documents created by NURSES
WRITE access to somatic NURSE DOCUMENTS .


There are many more documents the NURSE can read, and even more the NURSE cannot create or edit.

So far so good within the EPR.

We will now add the VNA to the mix. An image is added to the VNA in the patient’s folder. It is created within a clinical context (and encounter) with a purpose; generally the equipment that is used to capture the image receives some data from the EPR (metadata), and the metadata are stored with the image in the VNA (analogous to RIS/PACS workflow). As an example, an image shows “a bruise related to a fracture” caused by violence. The image is described in a journal record in the EPR which also includes remarks about a radiology report. We have a photo, an x-ray, and a document.

The question now arises: who should be able to see this image? First of all, the care relationship must be present. There is only one system that can determine if it is indeed present, and that is the EPR: so, we need to ask the EPR: does employee X have a current care relationship with patient Y? If the answer is yes, the patient folder in the VNA can be displayed. But will the VNA reveal all images about the patient to our employee X? No, it cannot, for the same reason as we have discussed above: access if filtered by profession.

The figure below shows how this may be solved – the employee has a professional role attached to an access profile. The access profile includes document category 2, and so our Employee can see document Y, which is in this category. The document describes / is linked to an image, and thus the image must also be available to our employee.

Access control via EPR

In the figure below, the acces control is independent of the EPR once the document category has been assigned to the image: the image belongs to a category which it should inherit from the EPR. We can now establish access control outside the VNA, and the VNA must store the category that the image belongs to. The Access control function maintains a table of roles and access profiles, and thus is able to determine if a given employee should see a given image once it knows the category the image belongs to.

Standalone access control in VNA

How is the category linked to the image? Potentially through the work process. When a clinician describes an image and creates a record in the EPR, the record and the image are linked and metadata exchanged.

The conclusion is that the when the VNA is used to store clinical objects, such as images, ECG, video, and so on, it effectively becomes an extension of the EPR, and must use the same logical mechanism as the EPR to control access to content.
This is analogous to the way RIS-PACS interact with each other.