Saturday morning coffee [October 13 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 is from The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Tx. My family and I spent some time there during our summer vacation in Texas. One of the things I really wanted to do in Dallas was visit Dealey Plaza and the site where JFK was assassinated. Well, I finally got that chance as my family and I spent some time walking around the plaza area, visiting the location of the assassination and spending a little time at the book repository and museum. JFK is one of the few men in history that I would have liked to have met in person.

Taken 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend. My wife and I saw it last Saturday. Not bad. If you decide to go see it make sure you don’t want a good story line or incredible acting range. Just enjoy the senseless violence and be entertained. Hotel Transylvania was #2 at the box office. I saw that last night with my wife and youngest daughter. Good, clean humor. Worth seeing especially if you have little ones.

– The damage from a contaminated batch of intrathecal methylprednisolone continues to mount. Medical Xpress: “The number of people believed to have been sickened by a contaminated drug rose to 185 Friday, but US health officials said the death toll from the rare meningitis outbreak held steady at 14. Among the hardest hit states were Tennessee, with 50 cases and six deaths, Michigan, with 41 cases and three deaths, Virginia, with 33 cases and one death and Indiana, with 24 cases and one death, according to the latest tally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” – Sad.

– Unfortunately the meningitis tragedy above has led to many calling for more regulation of compounding pharmacies. This would be a disaster for pharmacies that compound. There’s already a mountain of regulatory BS that compounding pharmacies have to deal with, and the problem here isn’t oversight. The pharmacy in question, New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass., appears to have broken the law. Compounding pharmacies are not manufacturers and should not be regulated as such. NECC overstepped their bounds when they started producing such large quantities of a compounded injectable and shipping it to multiple states in bulk. If they broke the law they should be punished just like any other law breaker. As tragic as this is, don’t punish the entire industry for the sins of a single pharmacy.

– Here’s something interesting from the October edition of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy:  Vancomycin Versus Linezolid in the Treatment of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nosocomial Pneumonia: Implications of the ZEPHyR Trial. Linezolid has been around for a while. When I was still a practicing pharmacist the drug reps pushing it came at the physicians fast and furious with the promise of the greatest thing for MRSA since sliced bread. The data wasn’t all that compelling, but we dispensed a ton of it; most of which was inappropriate. Anyway, according to the article in The Annals “results of the ZEPHyR trial do not support routine use of linezolid for the treatment of MRSA pneumonia”. Huh, imagine that. And to think, it only took a decade to figure it out.

– Well lookie here, it appears that medications may not expire as fast as many think. According to a recent article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, an analysis of 8 medications indicated that the active ingredients were good for “decades” after the drug’s expiration date. The authors used 90% potency as their cutoff for declaring a drug as still ok. Only aspirin and amphetamine fell below the 90% threshold. Interesting, don’t you think? Now that doesn’t mean you should keep drugs around for eons. Better safe than sorry. When in doubt throw it out.

– Samsung continues to bolster its Galaxy line of smartphones with the introduction of the Galaxy SIII mini. The device looks a lot like its big brother (see below), but the specs are different with a 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480 pixel) display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 32GB of memory, and running Android 4.1.1, Jelly Bean. It’s not going to wow anyone, but should be a nice mid-level phone if the price is right.

– Windows 8 is on its way. Exciting stuff. You can pre-order the “Pro” version at Amazon for about $70, or you can wait until October 26 and download it from Windows.com for about $40. The choice is yours. Don’t wait too long though as the promotional pricing is scheduled to end January 1, 2013. I for one am excited about Windows 8 and all the new hardware that will be released around it.

– Speaking of Windows 8, CNET has a list of all the Windows 8 machines scheduled to launch in the near future.  The list includes “links to all the major new Windows 8 hardware being released this holiday season, sorted by brand.” Check it out, there’s some cool stuff there. Samsung clearly had the best Windows 7 tablet on the market in my opinion with the Samsung Series 7 Slate. It truly is a great machine. With that said, the new crop of Windows 8 tablets has my head whirling as for the first time in a long time I can’t decide on which tablet(s) I like the most. Exciting.

TagMyDoc is an interesting service. TagMyDoc allows you to place a QR code on a document that can be scanned by others to retrieve an electronic copy. It’s pretty cool if you think about it. With all the smartphones and tablets floating around meetings these days you can save some trees by not making copies. If someone wants the document just have them scan the QR Code. The service offers integration with Dropbox and Box as well as plug-ins for all the popular Microsoft Office applications.

TSF Shell 3D is one of the coolest launchers I’ve ever seen for Android. It’s a bit pricey ($16.80), but based on what I’ve seen it’s worth it. Check the video below.

Gizmag – Vibrating glove could direct users to items within stores: “This guiding glove isn’t a formless idea: it’s already been created and tested. A controlled experiment found that subjects who wore the gloves had a big advantage in finding an object. “In search tasks where there were hundreds of candidates but only one correct target,” explained Dr. Antti Oulasvirta from Max Planck Institute for Informatics, “users wearing the glove were consistently faster, with up to three times faster performance than without the glove.” – Hmm, I could see use for this in a pharmacy.

– Looks like researchers were able to produce a synthetic version of erythropoietin (EPO). This is huge as EPO is used frequently in dialysis patients, among others, and is expensive. Finding a way to drive down the cost sure would be nice. (Wang, P, et al. At Last: Erythropoietin as a Single Glycoform . Angewwandte Chemie International Edition. (2012))

– Who thinks barcodes are dead? If you raised your hand you should check out this work using acoustic barcodes. Yes, acoustic barcodes. “Acoustic Barcodes, structured patterns of physical notches that, when swiped with e.g., a fingernail, produce a complex sound that can be resolved to a binary ID. A single, inexpensive contact microphone attached to a surface or object is used to capture the waveform. We present our method for decoding sounds into IDs, which handles variations in swipe velocity and other factors. Acoustic Barcodes could be used for information retrieval or to triggering interactive functions. They are passive, durable and inexpensive to produce. Further, they can be applied to a wide range of materials and objects, including plastic, wood, glass and stone. We conclude with several example applications that highlight the utility of our approach, and a user study that explores its feasibility.” – Fascinating.

– Ok, so if you’re worried that the new crop of Windows 8 tablets are too small then do I have a tablet for you: the Sony Vaio Tap 20-inch tablet. Seriously, it’s a 20-inch tablet with 10-point multi-touch recognition and specs equivalent to a desktop machine. And it only weighs 11.46 pounds. Feather weight to be sure. I wonder if it’ll fit in my travel bag. If it won’t that can only mean one thing….I need a bigger travel bag. Just sayin’.

- I’ve been a product manager for nearly two years now, and the image below is one of the most accurate representations of the development process that I’ve ever seen.

– Ever wonder why ice floats? If it didn’t we’d all be dead. Ice floats because it’s about 9% less dense than its liquid form, which is rare in nature. Almost all other liquids become denser as they cool and freeze. Fortunately for us the bond angle in water changes as it freezes and expands. From About.com Chemistry: “A water molecule is made from one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, strongly joined to each other with covalent bonds. Water molecules are also attracted to each other by weaker chemical bonds (hydrogen bonds) between the positively-charged hydrogen atoms and the negatively-charged oxygen atoms of neighboring water molecules. As water cools below 4°C, the hydrogen bonds adjust to hold the negatively charged oxygen atoms apart. This produces a crystal lattice, which is commonly known as ‘ice’.” Ta-da!

– I’ve spent a lot of years working in acute care pharmacy, i.e. in hospitals, and I’ve had the conversation below many, many times. It’s funny because it’s true.

– Just because it’s wicked cool.

– Check out the cool infographic below from Archos. It shows the evolution of Android. It’s hard to believe that Android 1.0 came out in September of 2008. Look how far it’s come in four years. Amazing. The most recent version of Android, version 4.1 Jelly Bean, is incredible. I’m running it on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. By the way, I had to put this at the end because it’s so long. Have a great weekend everyone.

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