Saturday morning coffee [September 23 2017]

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” ― André Gide

So much happens each and every week, and 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…

It’ reigned supreme at the box office for a second week in a row, bringing its total domestic gross to nearly $220 million. Not bad for a movie I will never see. I’ve never understood the human psyche that drives people to want to be scared. The world is scary enough already, and it’s free.

Speaking of movies, earlier this week my wife and I threw our hard-earned money at American Assassin. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s probably not something you’d want to pay full price for either. Michael Keaton is one of the co-stars. He plays an ex-Navy Seal that’s now used by the CIA to train covert spies, i.e. assassins. I swear there was one point in the movie where his character was going off the deep end a bit and all I could think was Beetlejuice.

Los Angeles Times: “A state pharmacy inspector made a surprising discovery last year while conducting a routine records review at a Westside facility that compounded drugs for patients at UCLA medical centers…More than 1,000 IV bags of sterile medications for heart patients and others with serious health issues had been made with expired and potentially dangerous ingredients, according to state Board of Pharmacy records.” Oops. The list of expired items included monosodium glutamate monohydrate (MSG) and monosodium aspartate monohydrate (MSA), clopidogrel, mexiletine, and estradiol. The dates on those drugs ranged from November 2015 to September 2016, a month before the inspection. While there is no excuse for using expired medications, it’s likely that no harm would come from it. In fact, the FDA has recently started to question the expiration date practice of drug manufacturers.

Looks like a theme park ride, although I doubt the people on the station platform were having much fun:

I was in San Diego last weekend to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. While there, we visited a local mall where Amazon was showcasing the Smart Life Roadshow. Basically a trailer with all kinds of smart appliances connected to the Amazon Alexa. It was pretty cool. I have both an Amazon Alexa and a Google Home. The Alexa resides in my living room and the Google Home in my kitchen. They are similar in many ways, but I prefer the Google Home. My wife, on the other hand, seems to use Alexa more. Just goes to show that there’s a place for all these smart devices. The only thing I find creepy is that they are always listening.

My wife drives a 2017 Dodge Charger. Nice car. During our trip to San Diego, I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time behind the wheel using Android Auto, which is built into the Charger. Super nice setup. With my phone connected to the car, I was able to do all the things I normally do on my phone via voice control: navigation, look for places to eat or get gas, ask questions, play music via Google Music or Spotify, and so on. Not to mention I was able to use the giant touchscreen in the middle of the dash to do the same. It was cool. Something I’ll definitely look for when I finally decide to replace my truck.

I found myself using the term eutectic at work this week. “A eutectic mixture is defined as a mixture of two or more components which usually do not interact to form a new chemical compound but, which at certain ratios, inhibit the crystallization process of one another resulting in a system having a lower melting point than either of the components [1]. Eutectic mixtures, can be formed between Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), between APIs and excipient or between excipient; thereby providing a vast scope for its applications in pharmaceutical industry. Eutectic mixture formation is usually, governed by following factors: (a) the components must be miscible in liquid state and mostly immiscible in solid state [1], (b) Intimate contact between eutectic forming materials is necessary for contact induced melting point depression [2], (c) the components should have chemical groups that can interact to form physical bonds such has intermolecular hydrogen bonding etc., (d) the molecules which are in accordance to modified VantHoff’s equation can form eutectic mixtures [3].” (source: Journal of Developing Drugs)

Anyone remember Hostess Zingers? I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues this week, and she told me that she had never heard of a Zinger. Those little raspberry cakes of gold are a solid childhood memory for me. Are they no longer a thing? Does that mean I’ve outlived my usefulness because I’m out of touch? Heck no! It means I need to buy her a box of Zingers.

Engadget: “Researchers at BYU have introduced a non-interfering solution: A nanofoam cushioning that measures impacts in real-time… The foam can be inserted in helmets and padding to track collisions via electrical signals and wirelessly send the data to tablets and devices held by coaching staff on the sidelines. It’s designed to operate quickly, too, informing coaches how hard a player has been hit — and whether they’re at risk of a concussion and should be pulled off the field.” – Pretty cool.

And just for the heck of it, let us all watch how balls of steel are made….

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Saturday morning coffee [September 16 2017]

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” — Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

So much happens each and every week, and 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…

‘It’ was #1 at the box office last weekend, bringing in more than $120 million. Expect it to stay there for at least one more weekend. I won’t be seeing it any time soon. Not my kind of movie. Expect more scary movies to hit the box office as we approach Halloween.  

Deadline Hollywood: “It’s an age-old excuse, but, yes, blame this summer’s box office depression on too many tired tentpoles that underperformed. That’s what happens in a product-driven business.” – I feel like this is true. Some of this year’s franchise movies weren’t very good, i.e. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Alien: Covenant, and Transformers: The Last Knight to name a few.  

The FDA recently released a safety alert calling for “separating the dosing of sodium polystyrene sulfonate from other orally administered medicines by at least 3 hours…  A study found that sodium polystyrene sulfonate binds to many commonly prescribed oral medicines, decreasing the absorption and therefore effectiveness of those oral medicines.”. Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS) is commonly used to treat hyperkalemia — a potassium level that’s too high. It’s kind of an odd alert as I would have thought this was common sense. It’s a freaking binding agent that preferentially exchanges sodium ions for other ions for Pete’s sake!

MedicalXpress: “In recent years, researchers have identified substances in coffee that could help quash the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. But few of these have been tested in animals. Now in study appearing in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, scientists report that one of these previously untested compounds [cafestol ] appears to improve cell function and insulin sensitivity in laboratory mice.” – It’s coffee time! Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee…

Bloomberg: “Here’s a fact you have to write down to believe: Over the past 10 years, during which the world has adopted smartphones and social media, sales of fountain pens have risen… Retail sales, in particular, have grown consistently. In 2016 they were up 2.1 percent from the year before, making fountain pens a $1 billion market, according to a report by Euromonitor International.” — I enjoy using fountain pens, and have several. My most recent acquisition is a Pilot Vanishing Point. Neat pen. Retractable nib. 

Jalopnik: “Tesla briefly sold a 60 and 60D trim level of its Model S and Model X vehicles. These models had 75 kWh battery packs installed, but were software limited to have less range to artificially create a more affordable entry-level tier for buyers….With category four Hurricane Irma headed straight for Florida, Tesla unlocked the full capacity of 60 and 60D model owners in Florida to give them about a 30 mile range boost while evacuating.” – Tesla is getting a lot of praise for doing this. On the surface that makes sense, but why would you put an artificial limit on the car straight off the production line. Can you imagine if Chevy or Ford said, “here’s our new V6. It gets 30 miles per gallon, but we tune it down to 22 miles per gallon unless you pay us more”. Think about it.

Xiaomi announces the Mi Mix 2 and Mi Note 3, a better bezel-less flagship and mid-ranger for the end of 2017. With the price of smartphones at or above $1000, it’s time to search for an alternative. 

Looks like Google is ready to drop the curtain on the Pixel 2. “Google hasn’t yet sent out invitations to its next event, but it is beginning to tease it. After sightings of a billboard in Boston suggested that we “ask more of our phone,” Google has thrown up a homepage for the entire world with the same notion — the Pixel 2s are coming.” (source: Android Central). I have to admit, the Pixel and Pixel XL just didn’t do it for me. My wife and daughter both carry the Pixel XL. Meh.

Healthcare IT News: “AMA demands EHR overhaul, calls them ‘poorly designed and implemented’…Latest study confirms typing and clicking consume more than half the workday for doctors.” – Ya think?

Ars Technica: “The situation at Cooley Dickinson is not unique; patients nationwide are being potentially misled about the quality of their care. According to data collected by the [Wall Street] Journal, hundreds of hospitals with federal safety violations continue to boast accreditation and a “Gold Seal of Approval” from the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that the government relies on to accredit almost 80 percent of US hospitals.” – This really isn’t a surprise. The Joint Commission is a joke. They give hospitals tons of warning prior to their “inspections”. And of course, they do a superficial job of looking around. I think they should just pop in without warning and do a deep dive. I could certainly tell them where to look. 

I watched a slew of college football games last weekend. A couple of minor surprises, like Oklahoma over Ohio State — for which I am eternally grateful — and how much trouble Washington State had with Boise State. The PAC-12 looks pretty solid as does the SEC, as usual. Looking forward to watching a few this weekend as well: USC vs. Texas and Louisville vs. Clemson, for starters.

As far as NFL games from last weekend, I didn’t watch a single one. That’s the first time that I can remember that I didn’t sit down on a Sunday and watch the NFL. You want to know something? I don’t really miss it.

I gotta’ go to work now. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Saturday morning coffee [September 2 2017]

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” — Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

So much happens each and every week, and 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 Hitman’s Bodyguard was #1 at the box office last weekend, making it two in a row. It’s a decent movie. Not as funny as one might think, or hope. My wife and I both thought the same thing, Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool without the costume.

Speaking of movies, this Summer hasn’t been kind to the Hollywood bottom line. From the New York Post: “Heading into the next-to-last weekend of the summer movie season, the US box office was running 13.4 percent below last summer, according to comScore.” Take it from someone that likes watching movies on the big screen, this summer has indeed been lackluster. The Mummy wasn’t very good. Transformers 5 was bad. Planet of the Apes was too dark and depressing. Atomic Blonde had some awesome fight scenes, but was otherwise meh. Dark Tower made me look at my watch and wonder “how long is this thing”. And the above mentioned Hitman’s Bodyguard was just ok. Wonder Woman was the cream of the crop, leaps and bounds better than any other movie this summer. It makes me desperate for Justice League.

Lest we forget just how powerful Mother Nature can be, Houston, Tx is literally under water following Hurricane Harvey.

Alabama is sitting pretty at #1 in this year’s first preseason Top 25. And there they will sit until someone knocks them off. I think it’s going to be a great year for college football. As for the NFL, not so much. I’ve lost almost all interest in the NFL. I haven’t watched a single pre-season quarter.

The NSAS Flickr site has some pretty cool images from the eclipse.

It appears that “banana bags” are no longer the treatment of choice for management of alcohol-associated vitamin and electrolyte deficiencies. Go figure. The practice of using banana bags has been called into question secondary to time to infuse, cost:benefit, etc. “Based on the published literature, for patients with a chronic alcohol use disorder admitted to the ICU with symptoms that may mimic or mask Wernicke’s encephalopathy, we suggest abandoning the banana bag [in favor of different therapy].” — Flannery A, Adkins D, Cook A. Unpeeling the Evidence for the Banana Bag. Critical Care Medicine. 2016;44(8):1545-1552. doi:10.1097/ccm.0000000000001659.

Calcium Gluconate is the calcium salt of gluconic acid, an oxidation product of glucose. It’s commonly used in healthcare, even more so now that Calcium Chloride is hard to get. The 10% solution, pictured below, is supersaturated and stabilized by the addition of calcium saccharate tetrahydrate. The problem is that supersaturated solutions are prone to precipitation. I was basically unaware of the problem until I found this bottle. I Tweeted about it and received multiple responses indicating that “it happens all the time”. In my 20 years, I don’t recall ever seeing this before. Some propose that it’s the warm California weather that prevents it from happening. Maybe.

In the wake of what went down in Charlottesville, some groups were kicked off the internet. For example, Cloudflare Inc., an internet security service, cut ties with the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. While everyone seems to agree that these people are aholes, I think we’re getting into some pretty dangerous territory. Even Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince thinks so, and he’s the one who pulled the plug on Daily Stormer. According to Prince he “Literally… woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. No one should have that power”. He’s right, no one should have that power. Everyone believes in the right to free speech and having their own opinion until someone else’s opinion doesn’t agree with their own. At that point rational thought goes right out the window. Whether I disagree with Daily Stormer’s views is irrelevant. I have no idea what their views are. I’ve never been to their site. I am not a neo-Nazi nor do I believe in their cause, at all. Until the Charlottesville incident I had never even heard of them. However, that’s not the point. What if someone woke up one day and decided I shouldn’t be allowed on the internet because of my views? That’s some scary stuff right there. Think about it.

There’s an interesting article at Ars Technica about the slippery slope we’re on with internet censorship.  

Android Authority: “The official Android 8.0 release is here: Android Oreo officially arrived Monday August 21 during the solar eclipse. The over-the-air (OTA) update began rolling out immediately to supported Pixel and Nexus devices and factory images were posted on the Android Developers’ site the same day.” – Android 8.0 – Orea – will include the following new features: Picture-in-picture, Notification dots, simplified autofill framework to simplify how users set up a new device and synchronize passwords, system optimizations and background limits, auto-sizing textview, adaptive icons, shortcut pinning, and a few things under the hood that are over my head. My wife’s Pixel XL received the update a couple of days ago. I’m jealous. 

The Essential Phone is finally available, sort of.  While I appreciate the engineering that went into the device — and it is beautiful — the reviews have all said the same thing, it’s a beautiful phone that’s not quite up to par in certain key areas.  Not to mention, the company has suffered from shipping problems and at least one email slip up. As much as I link new toys, there’s just nothing there to entice me.

IFA 2017 is going on in Berlin as we speak. I love reading about all the cool stuff that shows up at IFA each and every year. In years where I’m thinking about buying a new laptop — like this year — I typically wait to see what drops at IFA before making a decision.

The Samsung Note 8 was recently announced. My Note 5 was the best smartphone on the market when I bought it, and it still kicks butt. From what I’ve seen and read, the Note 8 is better in almost every way, with a couple of minor exceptions. It looks like Samsung has the best smartphone on the planet, again. For your reading pleasure: 10 Reasons you’ll love the Note 8. 

Chrome Unboxed: Chrome Tip To Help Those Who Use Lots Of Tabs: “Take your files app, for instance: you can hold CTRL and select multiple items or hold SHIFT and select a range of items with just a couple clicks….That’s right, you can hold CTRL and select multiple tabs. After this, you can grab any of the selected tabs and move them around as a group. Likewise, if you click one tab, hold SHIFT, and then click another tab, all the tabs between are selected and can be moved as a group.” – I’m a longtime user of Chrome and had never heard of this tip before. Very useful. 

Speaking of Chromebooks, I’m thinking about giving them another try. Even after my recent failure, I’m still drawn to them. This time around it’ll be either a Samsung Chromebook Plus or Asus Chromebook Flip C302, I think.The Samsung Chromebook Plus has the edge, but the stupid thing doesn’t have a backlit keyboard. Then again, I’ll wait until IFA is over before making any decisions. 

I continue to be amazed by the quality of images captured by smartphones. The image below was taken with my two-year old Samsung Galaxy Note 5 while out walking my dogs. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Saturday morning coffee [October 10 2015]

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw …you people know who you are.

So much happens each and every week, and 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…

MUG_SMC

As predicted, The Martian was #1 at the box office last weekend, pulling in a just over $54 million in its opening weekend. It’s a good movie. Highly recommended. I expect The Martian to hold the #1 spot for a bit longer. Who’s going to challenge it, Pan?

Speaking of movies, my younger brother came up to Fresno last Sunday and took me to see Everest. The movie recreates one of the worst climbing disasters in history. I don’t usually go in for movies like that, but Everest was really quite good. Another film I would recommend.

I’ve always been a drip coffee guy, probably because that’s how I got started drinking coffee. I’ve tried various methods – pour overs, coffee press, running by Dutch Brothers twice a day – but I always come back to drip. Recently my tried and true Mr. Coffee Coffeemaker took a turn for the worst and I had to replace it. Instead of simply getting another Mr. Coffee, I wanted to try something different. I did a little online research and finally decided on a Bonavita 8-Cup Original Coffee Brewer. While the Bonavita is still makes coffee via “drip”, the water comes down onto the grounds in a sort of showerhead fashion, and the “pot” is a carafe that keeps the coffee warm for several hours. There is no warmer under the carafe. It works very well. I’m quite satisfied with the coffee it brews. The only thing that’s a bit of a bummer is that you can’t pull the carafe out before it’s finished brewing when you just can’t wait five minutes for it to finish. I used to grab the carafe on my old Mr. Coffee as soon as I had enough black gold to warrant a cup. The price we pay for good coffee.

Microsoft had an epic event this week in New York. The company introduced some of the most exciting new products that I’ve seen in years. The company took their already class-leading line of Surface machines and introduced the new and improved Surface Pro 4. The Surface Pro 4 has updated internals, a slightly larger display, improved pen technology with a better inking experience, and a better detachable keyboard. And the best thing of all is that you can custom configure the device to your liking at the Microsoft Surface site. But that’s not all. Microsoft also introduced what I think is the most innovative piece of hardware that’s come along in a while, the Surface Book. The Surface Book offers a crazy new design, making it both a complete laptop and a full-fledged tablet. It also gives users the ability to configure the Surface Book to rival any 13-inch high-end laptop on the market. It’s what a modern ultrabook-tablet should be. Surface Book is quite literally my idea of the perfect machine torn from my brain and turned into reality. It’s the most excited I think I’ve ever been for a piece of new consumer technology. It’s beautiful, and I must have one.

Here’s an interesting website: http://easypcpicker.com/. “Easy PC Picker exists to simplify the process of buying a new computer. We ask you three simple questions (price, operating system, and features) and then provide a recommendation hand-picked by our staff of experts.” I played with it a little bit. It’s not perfect, but it kicks out some solid choices for anyone looking for a new machine.

Who would have thought that Velcro could be dangerous? I’ve managed to get a few nicks and cuts on my hands from unstrapping and re-strapping my leg brace several hundred times over the past few weeks. I’m theorizing that the little hooks on one side of the Velcro strap are able to grab tiny pieces of skin that are loose. And when they grab hold, they don’t let go.

Speaking of Velcro, it “is the brainchild of Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who, in 1941 went for a walk in the woods and wondered if the burrs that clung to his trousers — and dog — could be turned into something useful. After nearly eight years of research (apparently it’s not so easy to make a synthetic burr), de Mestral successfully reproduced the natural attachment with two strips of fabric, one with thousands of tiny hooks and another with thousands of tiny loops. He named his invention Velcro, a combination of the words “velvet” and “crochet,” and formally patented it in 1955. Though the first Velcro was made out of cotton, de Mestral soon discovered that nylon worked best because it didn’t wear with use.” And the moral of the story? Take time to go for a walk in the woods. (source: Time)

Have I ever told you how awesome 3D printing is? There’s a lab at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) –  <cough>… my alma mater – that’s using living cells as the substrate to 3D print human tissue. “Zev Gartner, PhD, has focused on the next best thing: His lab is building fully functioning 3-D human tissue, cell by cell. It sounds straight out of a Frankenstein novel, but Gartner is working to grow the milk-producing tissues of the human breast to create a living, working model of the human mammary gland that grows, ages and responds to hormone signals just like the real thing. This means growing the ducts, arteries and connective tissue in the same environment.” Crazy.

How long before we all have 3D printers in our houses to print everything from our breakfast cereal to a new spray nozzle for our hose? It’s not as far off as one would think. It could even happen before I decide to checkout for good.

This week the FDA told ASHP that it has “not cleared or approved any syringes for stand-alone use as ‘closed container systems.’” Oh boy, that’s a biggie. You can read my initial thoughts about the announcement here, but I think it’s going to cause some problems for pharmacies.

Variety: “Consumers are now using mobile phones more often to search Google than desktop PCs…“We are getting over 100 billion searches every month,” Singhal said. Mobile overtook the desktop as the number one source of traffic this summer, he said.” – I talked about this a few years ago during a presentation I gave at a SoCal HIMSS Meeting. Those things in your pocket aren’t phones, they’re computers. My thought is that there has to be a way for pharmacy to leverage that knowledge to improve patient care. Really hasn’t happened yet.

You really should stop whining about your commute. Take a look at what happens when people return from vacation in China. Dude, that’s some traffic right there.

And just like that the Cardinals broke my heart. I said last week that the Rams defense was good, and they gave Palmer fits all afternoon. The Cardinals play the Lions tomorrow. I think it’s a winnable game, but the Lions have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous. Expect the Cardinals secondary to have their hands full with the Lions long-ball.

Ugh, the Bruins took one in the shorts last Saturday night. Hats off to Arizona State, they punched UCLA in the throat. No game for the boys in baby blue this weekend. Good thing, as they have Stanford up next on the schedule. They’ve had trouble with the Stanford running attack and defense over the past few years. Fingers crossed.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday morning coffee [October 3 2015]

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.” ― Marcus Aurelius

The mug below was given to me by my awesome wife and daughter. They went out to run an errand a few weeks ago and saw this mug. Apparently they decided that I really need it. They were right. It’s a pretty cool mug.

MUG_DarthVader

Hotel Transylvania 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend, pulling down nearly $50 million in its opening weekend. The first one was good, and I suspect this one is too. Sometimes I wish I still had little ones running around the house. It would give me an excuse to see movies like Hotel Transylvania 2. Don’t expect it to stay at #1, however. The Martian will likely take that spot this weekend. My wife and I saw The Martian yesterday. Besides some over-the-top corniness right near the end, it was a very good movie. Highly recommended.

Did you know that Finland is the top coffee consuming nation in the world? It’s true. Those pesky Finns drink a national average of 2.64 cups of java per day. According to WorldAtlas.com “the most popular coffees in Finland are very light roasts, much lighter than anywhere else in the world”. My kind of coffee drinkers.

I really need to try this, putting butane in Coke. Seems like a decent afterschool activity to me.

The ‘c’ key on my Yoga 2 Pro is giving me problems. Sometimes I’ll have to hit it 2 or 3 times to get it to work. It’s really starting to piss me off. You don’t realize how often you need a ‘c’ until you look up at a document you’ve been working on and it looks like someone wend crazy with a red pen underlining misspelled words. I’ve really lost faith in Lenovo with this machine.

There’s been another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in southern Oregon. Ten people were killed and another seven injured Thursday when a 26-year-old gunman opened fire in a classroom at the community college. Very sad. It gets harder and harder each time something like this happens for me to defend my pro gun position. There’s just no place for this kind of thing in our society. I don’t have an answer, but it’s obvious that what we’re doing isn’t working.

Reuters: “A new electronic drug capsule engineered to deliver medications directly to the colon could potentially offer a more effective and cheaper option for treating people with gastrointestinal conditions, according to researchers at Purdue University in Indiana. The device is comprised of two parts, one carrying a drug payload and the other housing electronics designed on the same principles used to trigger a torpedo.” – The capsule contains a magnetic trigger that separates the capsule and releases the medication. I worked on a project team that was researching something like this when I was an undergrad in chemistry. Very cool stuff.

Speaking of cool developments, Nanowerk News is reporting that “[r]esearchers have for the first time developed a technique that coats anticancer drugs in membranes made from a patient’s own platelets, allowing the drugs to last longer in the body and attack both primary cancer tumors and the circulating tumor cells that can cause a cancer to metastasize. The work was tested successfully in an animal model.” Anything that can be done to improve the targeting of cancer cells without wrecking healthy cells is a good thing. Nanotechnology rocks.

Are you a visual note taker? If so, you should drop by this site and check out 50+ Awesome Resources to Create Visual Notes, Graphic Recordings, & Sketchnotes. I desperately want to learn how to take visual notes. I’ve tried it a few times, but can’t seem to make it work. I envy the people that can do this.

visual note-taking

Google announced some awesome new hardware this week: two new Nexus phones – the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5x, the Pixel C Android tablet, a new Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio. The Nexus 6P is a spectacular device, and the Pixel C will surely become the poster child for flagship Android tablets. The announcement of the Nexus 6P has muddied the waters for me as I was just about to pull the trigger on a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I was looking at the Moto X Pure Edition, but decided that I really wanted a Note 5 for the camera, active digitizer, and Samsung Pay. The Nexus 6P lacks the active digitizer and Samsung Pay, but offers similar camera performance and a pure Android experience. Tough choice. Actually, now that I write it out, I think I’ll stick with the Note 5….or not. Ugh.

With the introduction of the Nexus 6P, Android now has the top six best mobile cameras on the market. This according to the DxOMark website. The top ten, starting at the top: Sony Xperia Z5, Samsung S6 Edge, Google Nexus 6P, LG G4, Samsung Note 4, Moto X Style, Sony Xperia Z3+, Apple iPhone 6Plus, Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5. Note that the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 have the same camera as the S6 Edge, which puts them in the same slot. My wife and oldest daughter have the LG G4, while my youngest daughter has the Galaxy S6. I can tell you that the images captured by those devices are spectacular. My S5 takes pretty good shots, and both the G4 and S6 put it to shame. Smartphones have become the new point-and-shoot camera of this generation.

Gizmodo: “Tom Scott has an excellent video explaining the basic physics behind the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift in not-so-sunny Scotland. It enables boats to travel between two canals, one of which runs 80 feet higher than the other.” – I remember sitting with my mom one evening a little more than a year ago and watching a special on the Falkirk Wheel. Very cool engineering.

Due to a recent mishap I’ve had to make extensive use of our current healthcare system. I’m amazed that the system works at all. To say that the system is disjointed and full of incompetence would be putting it kindly. Actually, calling it a system is probably a misnomer because that assumes that things are connected in some logical fashion. They are not. And now that the bills have started rolling in, I find it a confusing mess of “billers”, adjustments, and insurance company EOBs. Let me give you just one example of the craziness that is our healthcare system. During an ED visit I had several X-Rays and CTs taken. Fast forward several days when I had to see an orthopedic surgeon in his office. I had to contact the hospital, request that the studies be placed on a CD – seriously, a CD – and hand carried them to my appointment. Hard to imagine in this day and age that those images couldn’t be stored “in the cloud” and simply accessed at will. Here’s the kicker. When I arrived for the appointment, the orthopedic surgeon ordered a completely new set of X-Rays because he “likes to get his own images”. Then he sat down to view the images on my hand-carried CD and couldn’t open it using his office-based EHR system. It wouldn’t read the image type. Zing! And yes, I received bills for both the ED and office taken X-Rays. I have other crazy stories from the past several weeks, but won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, the current healthcare model sucks.

Harvard Business Review: “…findings from our research using six years of data from nearly 3,000 acute-care hospitals suggest that it is the communication between caregivers and patients that has the largest impact on reducing readmissions. In fact, the results indicate that a hospital would, on average, reduce its readmission rate by 5% if it were to prioritize communication with the patients in addition to complying with evidence-based standards of care.” – Huh, imagine that. It appears that communication is important. I found communication lacking when caring for my mom. Some facilities, like UCSF did a good job of communicating with both my mom and the family. Other facilities, like the two we used in the Central Valley, failed miserably at communicating information. It made a tremendous difference in her care.

The Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch went on sale yesterday. Love that watch. If I go with the Note 5 mentioned above, I’ll likely pair it up with the Gear S2. Below is a quick review by Flossy Carter. Love this dude’s reviews.

Football season is well under way and it’s been awesome. There have already been some upsets among the college ranks…cough, Ole Miss. UCLA is playing well and look good to take the PAC-12 South. They play Arizona State today. Look for them to take care of business early and win that one. The NFL is chugging along. Nothing really stands out there besides the quarterback shuffle that’s taken place secondary to injuries. My Cardinals look great. Unfortunately, they’ve done this to me before, i.e. started out strong only to finish on life support. I’m holding my giddiness until around week 10. They play the Rams on Sunday. It’s a very winnable game, but those division games can be a bugger. Not to mention that the Rams have an angry pass rush, and Carson Palmer is getting hit like a pinata this year. They really need to keep that dude upright if they have any hope of making a playoff run.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday morning coffee [August 22 2015]

“Don’t accept that others know you better than yourself. Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.” – James Allen

The mug below comes from the University of Arizona in Tucson. I was there earlier in the week doing some research on a project. In fact, I’m sitting in a hotel in downtown Phoenix this morning as I write this. I’ll be heading home later today. I saw this mug in a display case in the U of A bookstore. It’s an awesome looking mug. I wanted one, but couldn’t bring myself to purchase it because, well, you know, my daughter is a UCLA cheerleader. Having a U of A mug in the house would be akin to blasphemy. It really is a beautiful mug though.

MUG_UofA
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [August 22 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [August 8 2015]

Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” – Margaret Thatcher

The mug below comes from Six Flags Magic Mountain down in Valencia, California. If you like roller coasters, then this is the place for you. They have some of the best in the business, and my kids love to ride them. We used to go down there a few times a year, but haven’t had the opportunity in a while. It was nice to have a little reckless fun for a change. One of the longtime landmark rides at Magic Mountain was the Colossus, billed as the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. Something happened in 2014 and Six Flags did some major work on the coaster. It’s no longer the wooden beast it was, but rather a hybrid wood and steel roller coaster called Twisted Colossus. The new ride features barrel roll inversions, and a near-vertical drop. And when I say near-vertical drop, I mean near vertical. It got my heat racing. Should have brought the GoPro.

Twisted Colossus MUG
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [August 8 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [August 1 2015]

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. Lewis,

So much happens each and every week, and 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…

MUG_SMC
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [August 1 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [July 24 2015]

To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” – Buddha

So much happens each and every week, and 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 mug below comes straight from the Hula Daddy Coffee Plantation in Kona, HI. My family and I recently spent a week in Kona on vacation. The island isn’t what I expected, but we had a great time. There are so many interesting things to do, and the differences in landscape and climate are crazy in such a small area.

MUG_HulaDaddy
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [July 24 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [June 6 2015]

“Three things you cannot recover in life: the word after it’s said, the moment after it’s missed, and the time after it’s gone.” – unknown

So much happens each and every week, and 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 mug below is the sister of the one from my May 16 2015 SMC post. I picked them up from the Starbucks Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle, Washington at the same time. I liked them both. Couldn’t leave one behind.

MUG_RoasteryWhite
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [June 6 2015]