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 [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 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 [April 11 2015]

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” – William Shakespeare

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 bookstore on the UC San Diego campus. My youngest daughter, Mikaela and I attended Triton Day 2015 last Saturday on the UCSD campus. Mikaela will be attending UCSD starting in the Fall of this year as a NanoEngineering major. After sitting through the Chemical Engineering and NanoEngineering presentations at Triton Day I’m thinking about joining her. It’s a great time to be entering the nanotechnology field.

UCSD Triton Mug
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [April 11 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [March 21 2015]

“Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.” – Sholom Aleichem

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….

I was sitting in The Main Street Café in Visalia, CA having breakfast with my brother when I saw the sign below hanging on the wall. Perk ‘Em Up….would make a great name for a coffee shop, no? Just in case you were wondering, the staff was great, but the food was mediocre. The pancakes weren’t very good at all. No flavor. Bacon was good though.

MUG_CoffeeShop
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [March 21 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [March 7 2015]

“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what a reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.” – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

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 [March 7 2015]

Saturday morning coffee [February 21 2015]

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” – Orlando A. Battista

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 was sitting next to my laptop filled with chocolate covered espresso beans last Saturday morning, Valentine’s Day. A gift from my lovely wife. Apparently she’s aware of my addiction. It made me smile.

MUG_Valentines
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [February 21 2015]

My ASHP Midyear 2014 technology loadout

I’m always tinkering with my travel bag to find just the right mix of computer technology and carrying convenience.

Most recently I’ve been carrying a Yoga 2 Pro, an Asus VivoTab 8, and a Samsung Galaxy S5. The Yoga 2 Pro serves as my primary machine for pretty much everything. The VivoTab 8 is an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet with Wacom digitizer, i.e. pen support. I use it to take notes, mark up PDFs, etc. I find that it’s just “okay”. The 8-inch screen is too small at times, and lately the digitizer has been finicky; a known issue with this tablet. The S5 goes everywhere I do. I use it for the obvious things – calls, text messages, emails, etc – as well as to play games, listen to music, take photos, check my social media feeds, and so on.

I’m changing things up a little this trip. My loadout for ASHP Midyear will include:

  • Yoga 2 Pro – This is my primary workhorse. It’s a great machine and meets almost all my computing needs. I will be using it to compose blog posts and manage photos and videos that I capture while walking around the exhibit hall.
  • Surface Pro 3 – New this year, the SP3 will likely go with me everywhere I go while I’m at Midyear. It’s small and light enough that I can carry it around, it offers great pen support for note taking, and still has plenty of horsepower for when I need more than a tablet. I thought about leaving the Y2P at home and taking only the SP3, but I’ve never traveled without a “real laptop”. I’ll see how things go during Midyear. If things work out then I’ll leave the Y2P at home next time. Can the SP3 really replace my laptop? I don’t know, let’s find out.
  • Galaxy S5 – As mentioned above, this is my primary mobile device. I’ll be using it to handle my calendar, make calls, send texts, read and respond to emails, etc. I will also be using it to take photos and videos when possible. I thought about taking my Sony Handycam for video, but decided against it for two reasons. First, it’s another piece of hardware to carry around. Second, I don’t know if vendors will allow me to walk around shooting video of everything they demo. For those that allow me to take video, I’ll have my S5.

In addition to the three machines above, I’ll also be carrying various cables, adapters, and external chargers for my smartphone.

And there you have it, my ASHP Midyear 2014 technology loadout.