Friday, May 27, 2011

Small Design Pattern: Status History

Where a table has a field for status lifecycle (e.g., New, In-Process, Pending, Complete, Void). You have a couple of options. One is to keep updating the Status field each time it changes. But if you want an audit trail of that  history, you can have a child table that captures each snapshot of history. It would be nice to have it one-click automated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Arab Spring

Crime Wave in Egypt Has People Afraid, Even the Police

Mounting disorder, from jailbreaks to sectarian strife to soccer riots, is causing economic and political worries in post-
revolutionary Egypt.

This kind of societal breakdown is/was one of my fears. After so many decades of repression, pent up passions exploding and chaos ensuing. I'm afraid the "Arab spring" is blooming much faster than optimal.

Never Oversleep Again

I've been using my Andoid phone as my alarm clock.

  • Nice, mellow, slowly loudening wake-up sound. Much less jarring than the buzzer on my 20-year-old alarm clock.
  • Can have multiple named alarms, set in advance. Greatly lessens the chance of forgetting to set your alarm. For those easy-to-forget extra-early Monday meetings--set the alarm on Friday.
  • Battery backup, of course!


  • Hard to snooze
  • No visual time-check when you wake up in the middle of the night
  • Small reliability risk, relative to tried-and-true alarm clock technology

Smartphones Need Bigger Standard Batteries

I predict that at some point, maybe a couple of years out, very long battery life will "suddenly" become a sought-after feature, more important than the last few millimeters of slimness.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Android Usability Glitch: Suppressing Incompatible Market Apps

The Android Market has functionality to allow apps that are incompatible with the device in question to be suppressed. In principle, that is very good functionality--don't let me install an app that at best won't work, and at worst will mess up, my phone. However, the way this is implemented creates a usability flaw. You search for something you know is in the market and don't find it. You keep searching, trying different terms and spellings, and are completely mystified.

The solution would be to display the incompatible apps, but flag them visually as incompatible. This would both cure the usability flaw, and provide the bonus benefit of helping the user develop their mental model of how things work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mental Toughness

Howard Wasdin, former Navy SEAL:

I can take just about anyone and make them physically strong. A lot of people showed up at [training] who were much more physically capable than I was, football players and athletes in phenomenal shape, and they were the first to quit. Mental toughness is a must to make it through training, much less through combat.
I've always believed this was the case, for this kind of hardcore work. I remember reading that the survival rate for torpedoed British merchant marines, during World War II, was higher for older men than for young, and they attributed it to their mental seasoning. It also kinds sorta supports my view of why it is perfectly okay to have proportionately less severe pushup standards, for females in the military. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Flaws in One-Size-Fits-All Dosing

 It is about time! I have wondered about this topic for decades! This seems so obvious a consideration! Is it due to--for lack of a better term--laziness, on the part of prescribers? Too much trouble to punch some numbers into a calculator, then round to the nearest available dosage?
A subscriber to our Health After 50 newsletter asks: I'm taller and heavier than the average person. Should I be taking a higher dose of antibiotics? ... as an editorial in The Lancet recently pointed out, a 6- foot, 198-pound male with pneumonia will likely be prescribed the same dose of antibiotics as a 5- foot, 123-pound woman. Some research suggests that one-size-fits-all dosing of antibiotics poses a distinct disadvantage for heavier people. Why? Large -- especially obese -- people have comparatively larger blood volumes than their normal-weight counterparts. Consequently, the concentration of an antibiotic in the bloodstream is lower in a large, obese individual than in a smaller one, making it harder for the antibiotic to fight infection. In fact, some experts theorize that insufficient dosing relative to body size may help explain why obese people tend to recover poorly from infections. Insufficient dosing may also push physicians to prescribe more antibiotics for longer durations, thus contributing to the alarming trend of antibiotic resistance. Ideally, antibiotics should be individualized to age, gender and liver and kidney function as well as height and weight. But clinical trials on individualized dosing have yet to be conducted. It's not clear if this would be cost effective, as drug manufacturers would also have to make changes to match individual patients' needs. For now, talk to your doctor about upping your dose if your current one isn't helping

Programmable Applliances

Yes, yes, YES! I have been after this for years.

Looking to the future, the team foresees a world where accessories can work with all Android devices, regardless of manufacturer. To that end, Google is introducing the Android Open Accessory API, which will allow universal accessory compability. While initially designed around USB, they look to Bluetooth. One example they give is having an exercise bike recognize your phone and launch a corresponding workout app automagically. Google is committed to giving developers a path to making great accessories, in a program that's completely open with no fees. Google would "like to think of your entire home as an accessory," and sees a future where your appliances communicate with you Android devices, designing an open wireless protocol to let anything electrical talk to Android.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Smartphones have majorly changed the way we deal with daily matters and these devices have even become a necessity for many of us, but there are those that simply don’t need such a strong phone and would prefer a WiFi-only device to use as a PDA/multimedia device. Finding a good “phoneless smartphone” is not an easy task right now, unless one goes for the Apple iPod Touch, of course. Last January at CES, Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy Player, finally bringing a worthy competitor to the iPod (more specifically, the iPod Touch). At last, Samsung has officially launched the Sasung Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 and 5.0 devices, which are the equivalent versions of the Galaxy players outside of the U.S.
Finally! I've believed the Android ecosystem really needs this. Though I'd keep my fingers crossed on price--it can't be any more expensive than an iPod touch, and ideally, would be cheaper.