Saturday morning coffee [August 4 2012]

By | August 4, 2012

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right comes from the University of Texas in Austin, home of the Longhorns. I picked it up last week while the Fahrni crew was on vacation terrorizing the Lone Star State. Feel free to read about what we’ve been up to here.

– Dark Knight Rises remained #1 at the box office last weekend. I’ve already seen Dark Knight Rises so my wife and I went to see The Watch instead. The Watch is a terrible movie, but it’s funny as heck. If you’re looking for a crappy movie that will make you laugh out loud at times, then the Watch is for you. I don’t regret seeing it as I was due for a good laugh, but I wouldn’t see it again. It’s a Redbox rental, if you know what I mean.

– Music for this morning’s blog composition, Candlebox.

– Love him or hate him, Michael Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly to capture his 17th gold medal. No matter what your opinion of the man, his accomplishments will be in the record books for a long time to come. Congratulations, Michael.

– Microsoft has introduced a new email client,, to take the place of the aging Hotmail. I’ve been a Hotmail user for a long time. It was the first email account I ever had and I registered for it when I completed pharmacy school. Well, this week I made the switch from Hotmail to I like the UI because it’s simple and easy to use. One thing is for sure, it’s designed to be used on a touchscreen tablet. My primary email account will remain Gmail, but I’ll give a fair shake. Check out this Lifehacker article for a decent comparison between Gmail and “David Icke, chief executive officer of mc10, creates breathable, implantable microcomputers that conform to the human body, which can be used for a variety of medical applications. During his TedMed 2012 keynote address, Icke shares the potential of smart-sensing stickers and how they can advance medical procedures while enhancing life.  Traditionally tech devices have been rigid and boxy – until now. While not mainstream yet, the microcomputers seem promising and will add to the evolution of technology, which is the focus of Icke’s discussion.” – It’s a bit sobering to think about how far we’ve come. Things that were complete fiction a mere 20 years ago are a reality today. There are only two ways this can go: complete awesomeness or complete destruction.

Medscape News: “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first ingestible sensor. The Ingestion Event Marker (IEM), by Proteus Health, represents a new category of medical device: It is made entirely of ingredients found in food and is activated on ingestion.” – The IEM sensor can be embedded in a pill. When activated by fluid in the stomach it sends signals to a patch on the skin indicating that the patient has taken the medication, along with some additional information like vitals, body position and so on. Both interesting and creepy.

– Google Handwriting is here. Yep, you can now use your finger to write search terms and phrases on your smartphone to search Google. All it requires is a simple change to the settings inside the Chrome browser. I activated it yesterday. It’s pretty cool.

technology review:  How about an augmented reality welding helmet to record tungsten welding … “Mann et al. have built just that… and will be presenting their stereo “EyeTap welding helmet” at this year’s Siggraph conference (A PDF of their abstract, here.) The idea is to build a helmet that puts two cameras right where the eyes will be, and then capturing and streaming the extremely dynamic visual information of tungsten inert gas welding.” – Both my dad and grandpa were welders. One of the things I used to enjoy as a kid was welding with my grandpa and my dad. Of course it was simple stick welding and it was only on non-essential equipment, but it is something I have fond memories of nonetheless.

Unnatural Language Processing is a blog written by Kevin Clauson of Nova Southeastern University. Kevin is a pharmacist and one of the foremost experts on mobile health (mHealth) in the country. He’s a humble guy and would probably disagree, but his knowledge and passion for the subject are matched by few. Anyway he has a knack for putting together incredible presentations. And this week he hit another one out of the park. I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it below. Enjoy.

The Lancet: “Maximizing use of current health technologies (drugs, devices, biological products, medical and surgical procedures, support systems, and organizational systems) is essential to improving global health. Sometimes, as with ACTs, the problem is cost. For instance, as the authors of the Commission point out, more than 80% of those with HIV/AIDS worldwide are still not receiving treatment due primarily to the high ongoing costs of antiretroviral drugs. As well as making existing technologies accessible, new technologies specifically designed for the poorer settings—frugal technologies—are important.” – Sometimes I think we forget that technology can certainly advance medicine and improve our lives, but it’s expensive. The idea of frugal technologies is interesting to me. The concept is basically to reduce the complexity, and therefore the cost of items by removing nonessential components and finding alternative substrates to use in the manufacturing process. Shouldn’t all development be like this?

– The National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) recently published a rather lengthy document titled “A Human Factors Guide to Enhance EHR Usability of Critical User Interactions when Supporting Pediatric Patient Care”.  The document highlights “important user interactions that are especially salient for pediatric care and hence to the EHR user-centered design process.” The entire 46 page document is available for your reading pleasure here (PDF).

– Earlier this week I mentioned how much I enjoyed the Sony Tablet P and its clamshell design. As it turns out I’m not the only one that thinks the clamshell design rocks. “Almost all portable PCs have had clamshell cases for so long that it’s tempting to assume that it was obvious from the start that it was the ideal form factor. Not so. In 1968, visionary technologist Alan Kay had proposed a sleek portable computing tablet for kids, the Dynabook, in 1968. It went on to be wildly influential. But when he drew it, he depicted a tablet-like device with a screen and keyboard, but no hinge.” (CNN) The article is pretty interesting.

Wyss Institute (Harvard): “SLIPS: Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (A slippery surface that can repel almost everything) – A simple, inexpensive, and robust material that repels a variety of liquids and solids has immediate relevance to applications ranging from biomedical devices to architecture and fuel transport. Unwanted interactions between liquids and surfaces are currently a limiting factor nearly everywhere liquids are handled or encountered: they create drag in transport systems, trigger fouling in medical tubing, nucleate icing on power lines, promote growth of bacteria, and interfere with sensing devices. Most state-of-the-art liquid repellent surfaces are modeled after lotus leaves, which, due to their rough, waxy surface and contact angle characteristics, are known to exhibit superhydrophobicity and self-cleaning as water droplets remove contaminants from their surfaces when they roll-off. Despite over a decade of intense research, these surfaces are, however, still plagued with problems that restrict their practical applications: they show limited repellency to oils; they fail under pressure and upon any physical stress; they cannot self-heal; and they are expensive to produce.

– A post over at the AmericanEHR blog dissects and discusses an article in the July issue of JAMIA that talks about the effects of personal health records (PHR) on hypertension control. The results are mixed. “Only 26% of the patients used the PHR frequently. [And] There were no statistically significant changes regarding patient activation, improvement in outcomes, satisfaction with care, or change in the use of medical services.” I for one don’t think we’re ready for PHRs in this country. We’ve failed to build the infrastructure necessary to provide Americans with the tools and knowledge they need to properly use a PHR. Remember that whole frugal technology discussion above? Well, we haven’t done that with EHRs, much less PHR development and use. It makes more sense to me to have an “official” medical record held and managed by a healthcare system where patients can actively go in search of information or view their medical record.

– Specs for the Lenovo Windows 8 ThinkPad Tablet 2 started showing up on various websites this week, including at Techin5. According to the article the Thinkpad Tablet 2 will have a 10.1-inch screen, with an IPS display and resolution of 1366 x 768 (720p), 10+ hour battery life, unknown processor, but “can be sure that it will feature the latest Intel Core processor (probably the reported clover trail)”, NFC, 8 megapixel rear camera as well as 1080p recording abilities, a 2 megapixel front facing camera for video conferencing, and of course Windows 8. I am a Lenovo fan, and currently use two Lenovo machines, but I can’t help but feel that this tablet will have trouble secondary to the anticipation of the Microsoft Surface tablet.

– Speaking of Microsoft, apparently they’re dropping the word “Metro” from the Windows 8 verbiage. It’s been all over the internet this week. You can read a little bit about it at the site. The rumor mill is spinning as to why, but rest assured it wasn’t their choice. The word “Metro” has become synonymous with Windows 8 and Windows Phone over last year. It’s unfortunate for Microsoft as Metro was catchy, simple and memorable.

– I’ve been thinking about purchasing a Livescribe Echo Smartpen, or something similar. As I mentioned in a previous post I’ve moved away from my tablet PC and back to pen and paper for recording notes and ideas. Unfortunately if I lose my paper notebook I’m screwed. This epiphany occurred to me while planning for vacation. I usually carry my notebooks in my computer bag when I travel. This time I decided to leave my paper notebook at home because I had a feeling that I might lose it. Not sure why, but I did. I ended up scribbling some ideas on napkins and the back of receipts because I didn’t have a notebook with me. Some of those ideas didn’t make it home and I have no idea what they were. So now I’m looking for something between a tablet PC and a traditional paper notebook, i.e. something like the Livescribe pen. I’m open to suggestions should anyone have any.

– My Amazon Cloud Player Premium account expires on August 31. I can’t decide if I want to renew it or not. I’ve been very happy with Google Music so I really don’t need another place to store and stream music. However, for $25 a year Amazon throws in 50GB of storage on their Cloud Drive system. For $25 I really can’t pass it up. On the other hand I already use at least four, no five, cloud storage services. Do I really need another one?

– And for the finale, how about the best car sales commercial ever:

Have another cup of coffee and have a great weekend everyone! Time for me to go.

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