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Comment Re:I feel like we are living in an 'outbreak' movi (Score 1) 258

Since an anecdote is worth a thousand data points, I would like to add in the perspective from those of us working in the hospitals during the H1N1 epidemic ...

That shit was nuts. People were dying left and right from H1N1 in our ICUs. Some had multiple comorbidities and immunocompromised states; but MANY others were just young, healthy, yet unlucky people who developed life-threatening respiratory failure from it. Why it hits some people so badly, while giving others just a fever and some aches, who knows; but the families of those who suffered through these critical illnesses, of whom there were many, would vehemently disagree with your assessment that "nothing happened" from H1N1.

Additionally, our hospitals were stretched to the absolute max, it felt like sheer mayhem for several months, and we saw the (frighteningly restricted) limits of our healthcare system's ability to cope with a large-scale epidemic.

In conclusion... lots of bad things happened in the United States from the H1N1 epidemic, and you are lucky you didn't have to bear witness to, or suffer the consequences of, any of them. Others were not so lucky.

Comment Re:"they've been ordered to stay at home" ?! (Score 1) 258

You sound surprised? It's called quarantine, and it's been around forever in all societies that are able to do it, including the United States. It ultimately boils down to the mobility rights of the infected, versus the rights of the rest of the (uninfected) population to be free from excessive risk of infection. Considering that this is Ebola we're talking about, many would agree that a certain degree of pragmatism is warranted here. All "supposedly inviolable" rights are subject to such limitations.

Comment Re:Evernote (Score 1) 217

I've been using Evernote and it is pretty rich for setting a base hierarchy. Then, you can set all manner of tags and search on them. But, you have to be diligent to make the system really work for you.

You also have to learn not to be over-diligent. As a recent MD graduate and now third-year resident, I've found that it's all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "I'm going to build a database that contains ALL MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE." That database already exists: it is called PubMed, it's huge and unwieldy, and your Evernote will be too if you try to include everything in it. Worst of all, in a few short years, it'll be out of date. Blast.

The nice thing about M1/M2 year of medical school is that the knowledge base you are expected to acquire is (or should be) fairly well-defined. So Evernote (or any of the other database approaches discussed here) will probably work fine for that purpose. But as you move forward into your clinical training, you may want to clean out your Evernote and start over again, being rather more selective about how you curate it.

Nowadays, my personal rule is never to put anything clinical into my Evernote unless I've had to look it up 3-4 times. By that point, I know it's useful enough to have around (in a more easily accessible fashion than, say, UpToDate), but not so useful that I've already memorized it out of necessity.

Comment Re:Single Languages (Score 1) 159

"Gee, I'm in your country, can't speak your language, and now I might die because I can't communicate with you - you should buy devices that translate my speech for you!". ... It's called natural selection, it's good for the human race. Stop fighting it, you're only encouraging the idiots...

um... you're an asshole. just sayin'.

Comment Re:Profiling (Score 1) 1135

Of course it's important to protect us. But this goes far beyond "offending" a group of people. Let's not forget that it was within the 20th century that hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans -- most of them US citizens -- were forcibly removed from their jobs and educational endeavors and relocated to internment camps, on the basis of the same argument you supply. "Offending"? How about violating constitutional rights? How about violating human rights? The constitution does not only apply to white people. Human rights do not only apply to white people.

In addition to being morally reprehensible, profiling is also quite useless. Although 99% of terrorists may be Arabs or Muslims, the percentage of Arab Muslims who are actually terrorists is quite small. Thus, profiling expends an astronomical effort on an enormous number of subjects to try to catch a very small number of actual terrorists. You have to search/interrogate/whatever a bajillion Arabs and Muslims to find that one terrorist. The yield is terrible, and you're much better off finding much more specific ways to target your search. The vast majority of bank robbers might own ski hats, but you do not prevent bank robberies by interrogating all those buying hats at Dick's Sporting Goods. It is important not to interpret a measure of sensitivity as a measure of predictive value.

Furthermore, once the terrorists are onto your profiling tactics, they can easily circumvent them. It's not that hard to make yourself look non-Arab, and/or to obtain a false identity, or for that matter to recruit a red-blooded American into your fold.

Defending against the present threat is a situation in which profiling just makes no damned sense.

Comment Re:Writing code with pencil and paper... (Score 3, Interesting) 319

Several years ago, when I was taking an intro CS course at Stanford (106X), our exams were on paper and we had to code our responses by hand. There would be a problem to solve at the top of an otherwise blank page, and the rest of the page was where you could "code." Certain caveats were allowed (no declaring variables, etc.), but apart from that it had to be functional code. The point was to test your understanding of the elementary concepts, and how to implement them in a non-hackish manner. It was hard, but it was also a great mental exercise in design. To be fair, I think we could have done something similar by computer (take away the compiler, or something). I have no idea what they are using now.

From time to time, I still pseudo-code on paper. Helps to sort out an overall approach to a problem.

Comment Re:Yes. (Score 4, Insightful) 319

Because delivering information at the highest blazing speeds possible is inherently good teaching...? Seriously?

I have learned a lot more from talented teachers wielding a piece of chalk than from the drones who clicked through 90 packed slides in 50 minutes. PowerPoint is a great way to put your audience into information overload, ensuring that they learn nothing (google "Death by PowerPoint"). Good chalkboard management is much harder to do. I am not saying that PowerPoint can't be used effectively, and I do believe that all of these tech devices add to the learning experience when wielded skillfully and in the appropriate scenarios. But to suggest that teaching by PowerPoint is inherently better? No. No. NO.

It's not the technology that matters. It's the quality of the teaching. Good teachers remain good teachers even when the power goes out. Bad teachers remain bad teachers no matter how much tech (ppt, ARS, web stuff, whatever) they use.

Input Devices

BlindType — the Amazing Keyboard of the Future 125

kkleiner writes "BlindType has created a new touchscreen keyboard program of the same name that changes size, orientation, and position to match your wandering fingers as they type. BlindType also features some of the most impressive typing correction software I've ever seen. The result is a practical touchscreen interface that knows what you meant to type, even if you make mistakes. Lots of them. In fact, you can type without looking at the screen at all."

Comment Re:whats the point? (Score 1) 432

Also, why use a touchpad when you got a mouse? The magic mouse sure is very uncomfortable but regular mouses are much more pleasant to use than touchpads or trackpoints or whatever. And its not like they can't do gestures.

I used to be similarly convinced of the superiority of the mouse over the trackpad. When I bought my first laptop years ago, the first thing I did was hook up a mouse, even before I had booted it up. But over time, I became used to the trackpad, and I learned to control a trackpad just as well as a mouse. One fateful day, I noticed that my mouse had collected a layer of dust on it (because I had inadvertently become an exclusive trackpad user), so I unhooked it.

I don't know if it's the whole not-having-to-move-your-hand thing, or if it's the not-having-to-use-your-elbow, or what. I just know that when I'm on a system that has a good trackpad and a good mouse, I always end up using the former. I'm not saying mice (or trackpoints, or touchscreens, or whatever) don't have their utility, because they definitely do. But I can definitely see why people would be interested in getting a trackpad for their desktop.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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