Category Archives: Tech, Tools, Toys

Pandemic Doesn’t Mean Panic. It Means Be SSMART

Pandemic Doesn't Mean Panic. It Means Be SSMART!
Pandemic doesn’t mean panic. It means be SSMART.”
Find copies of the poster for printing and sharing here.

This started with a Facebook post made during an online meeting last week. I’ve been really, truly, deeply concerned (read “alarmed”) by much of the panic and fear that is surrounding me on social media. I’m seeing fear-focused messages create situations that cause harm to others, and which can potentially cause harm to yourself. There are a lot of blogposts I want to be writing related to this, but I’m going to start here, with that original Facebook post:

Pandemic Doesn't Mean Panic - Original
Pandemic doesn’t mean panic. It Means Be SSMART!

What is being smart, in this context? I’m giving these mental hooks as places to start:
SSMART = Sanitary, Social Distance, Methodical, Aware, Responsible, Thoughtful.

Let’s start with a plain language version of what those might mean, and then do a deeper dive. The following text is copied from the image at the head of the post, for those working from a screenreader.

SSMART (Plain Language Version)

SANITARY

East or West, SOAP is best! What soap? Any soap you like. If you can’t get soap, then high-alcohol hand sanitizer (>60%) or bleach wipes will do. It’s especially important to wash hands after visiting the bathroom.

SOCIAL DISTANCE

The elbow bump is SO last month! These days social distance means 6-10 feet, or 2-3 yards or meters. If you can reach out and touch fingertips? Yeah, that’s too close. Back up a bit, friend.

METHODICAL

Just like we do our laundry regularly, making hand-washing and social distancing a habit is one of the best ways to keep you and your loved ones safe.

AWARE

If you are feeling good, sure you can go for a walk. Just remember social distance, walk in nature not around people! And look out for those people who aren’t watching where they are (or their dogs).

RESPONSIBLE

Parents take care of children. Grown-up children take care of their parents. Friends take care of friends. We all watch out for each other. This isn’t about me, or you, it’s about all of us. We all know someone who is at risk, probably someone we love. Right now, each time we wash our hands or skip a party, it’s about keeping others safe.

THOUGHTFUL

Helping others stay calm can help us stay calm, too. Checking the source of that news story or web site might make you wonder if it’s actually true. If we talk a lot about how scared we are, we might end up scaring other people around us even more. Who’s listening to what we say? What do we want them to hear? Does what we say help them, too, or make things worse? Stop. Think first. Then share.

The Deep Dive — More Thoughts on These

More Thoughts on SANITARY

All the fuss about hand sanitizer? Yeah. No. Soap works better. Soap is like a grenade for the coronavirus, just destroys it. And people who are cleaning their home personal space to an extraordinary degree? I have nothing against doing this, as long as you recognize that this is largely a way to comfort yourself, and probably not terribly practical for actually managing your risk of catching the virus. That is, of course, unless you have someone in your home who is either at high risk or ill, and you are trying to manage their germs or their exposure to germs. For my home, it is filled with my usual germs, and while, yes, it needs a good cleaning, coronavirus is not why it needs cleaning.

I’ve encountered people who believe witch hazel will be better than alcohol for sanitization, people who believe that antibiotics are better than antivirals, people who don’t understand the difference between different kinds of sanitizers, and similar misunderstandings or misconceptions. If you’re interested, we can take more time to discuss these, but what you really really need to know is that there is one very clear winner for what stops coronaviruses before they get inside you, and that is SOAP.

Regarding coronaviruses on surfaces, there’s also been a lot of confusion and hype. There was an article that the media picked up and misinterpreted a couple weeks ago that talked about how long coronaviruses last on different surfaces. The methodology wasn’t reported well or clearly, so I have some concerns about the quality of that study, but the media latched onto one idea — the 9 days part — and ran with it, implying that if someone coughs outside or in an office the surface is infectious for weeks. NOT TRUE. If you actually read the article, what it really said is:

(a) in a hospital room where a patient with a coronavirus infection of any sort (not just COVID-19) has had a procedure done (such as being intubated) the virus can possibly last a long time on surfaces that aren’t properly cleaned, but we don’t know if it’s infectious or not; and

(b) the only intervention shown to make a real difference in transmission in a pandemic situation is more hand washing stations. In the hospital. Specifically in the Emergency Department.

So, please, unless a sick person was intubated in your dining room or something like that, you don’t need to go do an extreme cleaning your house. Clean, yes, but don’t get anxious over it.

More Thoughts on SOCIAL DISTANCE

What is social distance? First, this basically is being used to mean too far to touch if you both tried really hard, and then add a bit more. Ten feet is ideal, but unrealistic. Six feet is more realistic. It’s not about touching, though, it’s about coughing, and how far the droplets travel in the air. If you have short arms, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to get closer to people, because you still cough and breathe just like everyone else.

Secondly, the phrase being used is “social distance” but really they are talking about PHYSICAL distance. It’s fine to talk over Skype with a friend. Socializing is necessary and healthy, just keep our physical bodies away from other people.

This is less critical for SOME people, in some situations. If you are at home, in your own house, with the same people who live there all the time, you don’t need to keep social distance as much, unless someone is sick. If one person gets sick then they need to be quarantined, and then EVERYONE in the house needs to also observe the quarantine, unless they have been keeping social distance. I’m currently quarantined, and for us, this means my son can’t go to work. Bummer, but that’s how it works. Even though his job mostly involves working with soap.

More Thoughts on METHODICAL

This is not easy stuff to do. To actually do it, you have to make it a habit, and build it in. You can help build the habits by adopting behaviors that cut down on opportunities to do your usual thing. Don’t want to touch your face with your hands? Put your hands in your pockets, or do something to keep them busy. Finding yourself tempted to give a friend a hug? Maybe visit virtually instead of in person.

For example, let’s say you have a dog that needs to be walked. You can do this, honestly. Even if you are quarantined, but only have mild symptoms, if you wash your hands and face first, wear a good mask and a pair of gloves, and walk the dog in a nature area away from other people, you can walk the dog and not put others at risk. This is especially true if you go walking very early in the morning or late at night, when other people tend to not be out. But if you live on a crowded busy street, and go walk the dog during rush hour, you have a situation and environment where it becomes very hard to keep away from other people, especially if they don’t understand the limitations we’re talking about. My son was walking our dog, and a woman holding a baby in her arms stopped to try to talk to him. Very sweet, but … no. Let’s just not do that.

So when you are building your habits — the habit of handwashing, the habit of soap, the habit of social distancing — build habits that are smart and include things like time of day, your environment, what your neighbors typically do, and things like this. Build habits that protect everyone, not just you.

More Thoughts on AWARE

This could be a big section, so I’ll try to restrain myself.

Part of this is being aware of people around you, your local environment. As you try to practice social distance, is someone walking up behind you? Who’s ahead of you, and how far away are they? How well behaved is that dog on the leash? That child they hold by the hand, are they trying to get loose and run? Is someone about to cross the street coming towards you?

Part of this is being self-aware, of what’s going on in your body, of the people around you. How are your neighbors doing, who needs someone to check in on them? That little tickle in your throat? Did you cough once or twice? How are you using social media and reading the news, and how is it making you feel? Do you need to take a break for your mental health?

Part of this is being aware of what information is coming out that could change our understanding of the situation. Check the date of this blogpost, and have I updated it (I would say so at the top). If it’s been a few days or longer, the best information might have changed. Right now, with the COVID-19 situation, information is changing so fast no one can entirely keep on top of it, even the experts. Because of this, you may get very different information on the same day from different medical professionals. Don’t just take what you hear for granted, especially if it will make a difference to what you do in your life or how you might put a loved one at risk. Check out more details, ask questions, try to find someone you trust to find out and make sense of it. Most of all, don’t assume anything, don’t take what you hear on face value. Look for authoritative sources who agree on it. Try to find at least three trusted sources saying the same thing, and who get their own information from different places. If the recommendation is all based on pieces that cite the same article, that counts as ONE information source, not three. (I’m thinking of that 9-day figure that freaked people out last week, and was promoted in dozens of news articles.)

More Thoughts on RESPONSIBLE

You heard this from other people. This isn’t about any individual. That’s hard for Americans to hear, land of cowboys and free ranges, frontier heroes. I’m remembering the song from Oklahoma, The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends. In those difficult times, we needed people who were community focused, and those who were out on the edge doing something valuable but alone. We still need both kinds of people, but deciding that it is your personal individual right to go to a party and be wild does not make you a cowman, it just makes you a fool. Don’t be that person. Sure, stand up for your own rights, but think carefully about what those are, and how they impact on the people around you. Right now, if you go to a party, and come back, even if you don’t get sick, you could pass along the virus to someone else, who passes it along to their friend, who passes it along to the dad with cancer, or kid with type-one-diabetes, or their grandma, and that person becomes the one who doesn’t make it. Do you want that on your conscience? Actually, someone who would do that will probably just say, “You can’t prove they got it from me. They could have gotten it anywhere!” Right.

More Thoughts on THOUGHTFUL

Most people want to help, and be helpful. But what people are doing to help, isn’t always actually helping. There’s a lot of sharing of misinformation. I just discovered this great resource which is collecting high quality evidence resources right along many of the myths and legends of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

FirstDraft: Find information about coronavirus (Covid-19)

As people have been coming to me with questions, I’ve been doing my own research on each one, and it turns out this will actually handle most of the questions I’ve gotten! YAY! So, check here first, before you share that video you found on how hair dryers can cure your COVID-19 illness. No, they can’t, and even worse, they spread the virus all over everything! Do you really want to be sharing something that will make more people sick? I didn’t think so.

What leaps to mind today are the news articles around the new Imperial UK report that is making so many headlines. If you read the report, it’s scary enough without the way the headlines are presenting it. Most of the headlines I’ve seen say something like we’ll have to socially isolate for 18 months or else, and use language like “chilling,” “drastic,” “draconian,” “staggering.” That’s just going to make every one feel so great, isn’t it? More like feeding despair and hopelessness, and those won’t lead anywhere good for anyone.

What’s the alternative? Well, if we see journalists going for clickbait, look for other journalists talking about the same story. Check out this more balanced piece by John Timmer at Ars Technica or the more positively phrased Atlantic piece by actual doctors, “This is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus.” In general, you might want to bookmark and scan another great Ars Technica COVID-19 resource, “Don’t Panic.” These discuss the assumptions underneath the predictions, and what sort of changes could make a difference to these estimates.

You can also find a mix of hyperbolic and well reasoned thought on social media. You want to be careful, and you want to intentionally look for people providing different views. This thread from Jeremy C. Young has a long discussion, which highlights a point I haven’t seen in any of the news stories — that even the worst case scenario is on-again, off-again, not that we stay in seclusion for 18 months straight!

So stop and think about what you are reading, and what you are sharing. Think about who is listening to you, and are you making it worse or better for others?

IMAGE CREDITS

Sanitary: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=157635&picture=washing-dishes-vintage-clipart
Social Distance: https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-jrfol
Methodical: http://www.publicdomainfiles.com/show_file.php?id=13526394611608
Aware: https://publicdomainvectors.org/en/free-clipart/Eye-contact/56082.html
Responsible: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=111574&picture=father-and-son-silhouetteThoughtful: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=188584&picture=man-reading

IFTTT 101

IFTTT Screenshots: homepageIFTTT Screenshots: servicesIFTTT Screenshots: Grant Alerts

I’ve been asked about how I use IFTTT (IF This Then That). which is an app for connecting digital devices and streams in creative and interesting ways. Basically, it allows you to automate ways different tech things can talk to each other, or, as they describe it, ” helps your apps and devices work together in new ways.” Actually I think the real question was about how I use social media, broadly, but this was part of the question, and it’s way easier to answer, so I’m going to start here, with an overview of some interesting recipes, followed by how to find them, and how to make them.

ComputerWorld (2019): What is IFTTT? How to use If This, Then That services
With 11 million users running more than a billion applets a month, IFTTT hopes to become a service that connects pretty much everything — though some users say it still has room for improvement.

RECIPES AND APPLETS

These are some IFTTT recipes and applets that I either actually use, or wish maybe I could. (Hey, I can’t afford all those fancy-schmancy smart home devices!) These include things that streamline some of my work, help me keep up to date, manage my work-life balance, support accommodations for health issues and safety concerns, keep me in tune with hobbies and interests, and more!

Notice that there are often multiple recipes to accomplish what looks like the same task. These are usually made by different people. Sometimes they refine an earlier idea to make it better (like shifting from “remind me to drink water” to “remind me to drink water when I’m not asleep”!), sometimes not so much. If you forget you already have one recipe going for a task, you can end up with duplicate emails or Flickr posts or things like that. And be accused of spamming your Flickr followers. Sometimes you want to try both out to see which one works better. Some of the Instagram to Flickr recipes only work for one image at a time, or one a day, while others are more flexible and robust and will capture everything you do. There are dozens of recipes to help you remember to take your medicines or vitamins at a particular time of day. At least one of them will actually trigger your device to speak aloud to remind you! There are several to send alerts if there is a new clinical trial on diabetes, or asthma, or skin cancer, or …

You get the idea. The basic message is “BUYER” BEWARE. Test it out, try it out, and be prepared to turn it off if it doesn’t do what you expected. Also, watch for unexpected side effects. There have been the occasional report of an IFTTT recipe that, maybe, sends email AS you instead of TO you, just as an example. Another example was someone who used a device to automatically lock their door when they weren’t at home, set up a recipe to verify the door was locked if the door saw an unfamiliar face, then forgot about the recipe, and had trouble trying to UNLOCK the door when it didn’t recognize him. So you want to be careful. Also, just because I link to a recipe below doesn’t mean these have all been vetted or tested. These are examples of the kinds of things you can do with IFTTT, and I have tested SOME of those listed here.

Alert: Reminder to drink water every hour unless you’re asleep (I actually use this as a reminder to take a 3 minute exercise/movement break each hour)

Clinical Trials: Get an email when ClinicalTrials.gov publishes a new trigger or action

Grants: Get an email when there’s a new education-related grant
Grants: Get an email when there’s a new grant that mentions your state or city
Grants: Get an email when there’s a new health-related grant

IFTTT: Get an email when a new service is published on IFTTT

Instagram: Post your Instagram photos to Flickr

NASA: Get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your house
NASA: Receive NASA’s Image of the Day in your inbox
NASA: Did an astronaut exit space? Get a notification
NASA: Did an astronaut enter space? Get a notification

News: Get an email from the New York Times whenever there is breaking technology news
News: Get a weekly email digest of new Pew Research technology articles
News: Automatically tweet updates from Pew Research

Safety: Get yourself out of an awkward situation (International)
Safety: Google Home Find My Phone (“When you ask Google home to find your phone it turns the ringer to 100% and places a VOIP call through IFTT.”
Safety: Ok Google, call my device
Safety: Hey Alexa, call my device

Self-tracking: Log how much time you spend at specific locations like the office or home in a spreadsheet
Self-tracking: Track your work hours in Google Calendar
Self-tracking: When I buy a coffee, log calories to iOS Health

Smart Home: Call me if Roost detects a water leak
Smart Home: Turn on/off your lights with one tap on your phone
Smart Home: Turn on Smart Life device at sunset
Smart Home: Get your Hue Lights to colour loop when it’s Christmas

Twitter: If Twitter #HASHTAG, Then IF Notification

WHO: Get alerts if there’s a disease outbreak news from the World Health Organization

WUnderground: Rain tomorrow? Get a mobile notification
WUnderground: Get a notification and an email if there’s going to be snow tomorrow

YouTube: Add songs from videos you like to a Spotify playlist

Highlighted collections from IFTTT

DISCOVERY: Finding IFTTT Recipes to Meet Your Needs

How do you find these? I usually browse the “Discover” section of the IFTTT app, but I also search for keywords and browse other people’s recommendations. The metadata is dependent on the person who created the recipe, so the words in the title can be really weird sometimes. It helps to get really creative with related words.

IFTTT: Discover: https://ifttt.com/discover

The Ambient, Smart Home (2019): IFTTT essential guide: The best IFTTT Applets for your automated smart home

PC Magazine (2019): The 25 Best IFTTT Applets: If This Then That (IFTTT) integrates activities across your digital services and devices. Here are some of our favorite combinations, or applets.

ComputerWorld (2017): 41 cool and useful IFTTT applets: Want to automatically save articles you’ve liked on Twitter to Pocket? There’s an IFTTT applet for that – and for a lot of other things, too.

Trusted Reviews (2016): 35 amazingly useful IFTTT recipes to simplify your life

Lifehack (2013): 35 Super Useful IFTTT Recipes You Might Not Know About

DIY: Making Your Own IFTTT Recipe

The next question for me, and something I haven’t done yet, is, hmmm, what about all those journal alerts? And search strategies? Or Google News alerts? I wouldn’t want a phone alert for everything, but there might be some where I’d like to know. I can imagine that some of the faculty medical librarians support might like to have something set up for grants in their field, new publication alerts on the topic of their most recent systematic review, or even if someone cited their articles. I don’t know how hard it would be to do this, but I can certainly imagine that we might want to! So, here is an article about how to get started.

How to create an IFTTT recipe https://support.meshprj.com/hc/en-us/articles/213717818-How-to-create-an-IFTTT-recipe

Health & Healthcare at #CES2019

I was working on a blogpost about wearables, smart textiles, and household tech for healthcare when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off. Let me just step aside for a moment and collect some of the wonderful new and emerging technologies from there. Here’s a bunch of articles, videos, and tweets highlighting some of what was being shown off at CES 2019.

Gadgets were on or in:

  • abdomen
  • belts
  • ears
  • eyes
  • fingernails
  • head
  • stomach
  • wrists

Health & tech topics included:

  • 3D printing
  • AI
  • asthma
  • augmented reality
  • autonomous mobile clinics
  • babytech
  • body temperature management
  • brain activity tracking
  • caregiving with robots or virtually
  • eldertech
  • fall prevention
  • a fitness tracker that doesn’t require charging
  • food technologies
  • heart health and cardiology
  • imaging and radiology
  • incontinence
  • mobility aids
  • personalized health
  • pet health
  • posture
  • stroke recovery
  • surgery
  • virtual reality
  • weight management
  • wheelchairs that navigate based on facial expression

VIDEOS

CES 2019: Wristband ‘Can Control’ Your Body Temperature https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-46840471/ces-2019-wristband-can-control-your-body-temperature

ARTICLES & LINKS

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-health-gadgets-ces-2019/

Blood pressure watches and DIY sonograms: CES 2019 was all about health: At CES, health, wellness and medical tech are big focuses once again. https://www.cnet.com/news/from-a-blood-pressure-watch-to-diy-sonograms-ces-2019-was-all-about-health-tech/#ftag=CAD590a51e

CES 2019: First Alert Previewing New HomeKit-Enabled Smoke Detector-and-Speaker With Mesh Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 https://www.macrumors.com/2019/01/07/first-alert-new-safe-sound-homekit-smoke-detector/

HealthTech wearables to major at CES 2019 http://healthtechpulse.com/2019/01/08/HealthTech-wearables-major-CES-2019

The Impossible Burger https://impossiblefoods.com

Matrix PowerWatch 2 uses solar and heat to power GPS, heart rate at CES 2019: The future of wearable fitness tech might be charge-free. https://www.cnet.com/news/solar-and-heat-powered-matrix-powerwatch-2-can-run-a-marathon-with-gps-and-heart-rate/

CES 2019: Omron HeartGuide blood pressure watch is for real: Detecting a sneaky heart condition could get a little easier with this watch: Just lift your arm and push a button. https://www.cnet.com/news/ces-2019-omron-heartguide-blood-pressure-watch-is-for-real/

Smoke Detective http://www.smokedetective.com

What’s new and what’s next in consumer health? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-new-next-consumer-health-roy-jakobs/

TWEETS

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Winter Break – Bingo!

Images of Christmas, New Years, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice from Open Clip Art https://bingobaker.com/view/1862418

It’s that time of year again! We are slowing down for the end of term, and gearing up (geeking up?) for the winter break. It’s always a good plan to have some extra activities available for those days where so many people are stuck at home. Following on the heels of last year’s tech comics & coloring books, here’s a collection of bingo options for the IT community!

Some of the bingo cards are designed to be played in groups with a caller, while others are designed to be interactive,  with the player filling in the card as they explore a virtual or game space or watch an event or TV show. You can either play bingo from themed cards designed by other folk, or you can make your own. If the kids are getting wild, you might consider having them design their own bingo cards with one of the many online bingo generators or apps. I’ve tried a few, and am rather fond of Bingo Baker, which has a kid-friendly URL, a community of folk sharing ones they’ve already made (please proof them before showing them to a kid), and tools to make and share your own. EduBaker is another option, similar, but a little less polished.

With Bingo Baker, it will randomly generate a number of different bingo cards from the same set of terms or phrases, it adjusts the text to fit the box, and it provides statistics on how many rounds to expect before someone shouts BINGO! For kids, you might suggest that they create a Bingo set of terms on one of their hobbies, or a favorite TV or Netflix show, or a favorite game. With BingoBaker you can also modify or build upon collections someone else already made, so you can customize after you find something on a topic you like. It is also possible to include images or drawings, and you could make a bingo card for spotting cars on those long drives.

Want to have something quick to print and use? There are, obviously, a lot of bingo cards already available online. Here are some along themes appropriate for your IT holiday party or winter gathering.

Of particular interest to me was the new IT security bingo game created by University of California-Irvine as an interactive educational activity for their students. Pretty darned clever! I wonder how it’s been received, or if this would be something to try here.  

If you want something that doesn’t have the risks of the big community collections for younger kids, Chris Osric made a very simple bingo card generator you could explore, and here’s a popular Anime-Bingo generator. There are also guidelines and tips in WikiHow and Instructables for making your own bingo cards, and more.  Examples include the basics, Avengers Bingo (visual), Comic Con Bingo (visual), Hipster Bingo (visual), Human Bingo (an ice breaker for parties), Super Mario, and Super Bowl Bingo for that most magical day (although you might prefer WIRED’s Superbowl Ad Bingo!). Check out these example Comic Con Bingo cards from New York, San Diego, Denver, Dash of Different. There are a TON of cosplay bingo options, but in the interests of remaining family friendly, I’m limiting the options here to the picture-based one from Tampa Bay Times (pdf), Comrade Comics and Anime Expo (both also visual), and the text-based one from AnimeCons.  If you have Arduino geeks in your house, you can make a bingo number generator.  

Last but not least, there are also a number of more family-friendly bingo cards already designed around various geeky and nerdy themes. Here are a few, just for fun, including some that are visual for preschoolers and non-readers. Some of these focus on critical thinking, by scanning for specific patterns of plot or character deficiencies, script crutches, and similar ways to watch a program more thoughtfully. There’s content here for a range of ages, from preschool to high school, so be sure to check them out before giving to the younger crowd.

Have you found or made some you enjoyed? Share them in the comments!

Coding and tech comics & coloring books

First posted at https://michigan.it.umich.edu/news/2017/12/19/comics-coloring-books/


We are coming up quickly on the winter break, with families gathered and children out of school. With that in mind, it might be fun to have some some (slightly eccentric?) options for family activities and young folk distractions. Even better if these are options that promote learning, or just understanding more about what the old folks do with their days, eh? Here are a few highlights from my collections of (mostly free) comics, coloring books, and games around the world of geekery, coding, and tech. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something that tickles your own funny bone!

A FORTRAN Coloring Book

Coloring Books

The first coding coloring book I could find dates from 1978 — Roger Kaufman’s FORTRAN Coloring Book, actually published by MIT Press and used as a textbook, back in the day. I was tickled pink when I found it, in part because I remember by Dad coding in FORTRAN when I was a young thing. (Yes, I have a copy on paper in my office. Honest!) It is robustly humorous for actual coders, and probably not as much fun for kids today. It is, however, available in the fabulous Internet Archive (but you might have to wait your turn to get access, since it is still under copyright).

Another rather amusing tongue-in-cheek (optionally NSFW) geek coloring book comes from the infamous Oatmeal. Check out 404 Not Found (and 404 Not Found NSFW). Not free.

With coloring books about coding going back so many decades, I thought there must be more, and oh my, there are.

ABC++ [PDF] (free)

The Coder’s Coloring Book [PDF] (free)

Kevin’s Python Coding Coloring Book (usually around $7)

Lady Ada’s E is For Electronics Coloring Book [PDF] (free as PDF, or you can buy a copy for $9.95)
(You might want to see also Lady Ada’s R is for Robots, which is not free.)

Programmer’s coloring book (About) [PDF] (free)

The SELinux Coloring Book (Github) [PDF] (free)

Soldering is Easy (free, but no PDF, only individual page downloads)

The Imitation Game, by Jim Ottaviani

Comics, Graphic Novels, Zines, Etc.

– About Coding & Tech-

These include comix for kids and comix for pros, but even those for kids are so well done I get a giggle out of them.

BubbleSort Zines. (Includes zines like “Hip Hip Array!” as well as t-shirts and jewelry such as “BYTE ME!”) (not free)

Code Cartoons (such as A Cartoon Guide to Flux and more) (free)

Google Chrome comic by Scott McCloud (free)

Grokking Algorithms: An illustrated guide for programmers and other curious people (~$17 onAmazon)

Hello, Ruby (for ages 5 and up) (not free, but free stuff available for downloading at the site)

How DNS Works (start here) (free)

Linux comics, a small zine. Others from the same author include “Let’s Learn tcpdump,” “Spying on your programs with trace,” and “Networking! ACK!” (free)

What Makes a Clock Tick (free)

Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby (free)

– About Geekery Other Than Coding –

We are very lucky here to have Jim Ottaviani on campus as a hard core science geek who loves and loves to make comics. I could hardly talk about comics and coding without mentioning his collaboration with Leland Purvis, The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded! But there are more comics and graphic novels about coders, geeks, and the work and culture they love. This is just a few selected titles, not at all comprehensive (try searching cyberpunk graphic novels to see what I mean). [NOTE: These are mostly NOT free, but for sale at bookstores both analog and virtual.]

Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer (Pantheon Graphic Novels)

Tom Clohosy Cole’s Space Race

(And if this isn’t enough to keep people busy, you can always make your own, one way or another.)

Visual Abstracts — Thoughts from a Medical Librarian

Visual Abstracts (Screenshot)

You might be interested in this initiative arising out of surgery, and primarily developed by Andrew M. Ibrahim MD, MSc of the University of Michigan. Dr. Ibrahim is a Clinical Lecturer in Surgery here and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation. His idea of a visual abstract is kind of a blend of visual literacies, infographics, posters, and science abstracts.

In surgery, this is being adopted as a new strategy for creating journal article abstracts. It is being mentioned by the Annals of Surgery, Cochrane Collaboration, Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), and the World Journal of Surgery, among others.

It lends itself to plain language explanations of concepts, clarity for funding agencies and policy makers, and as a tool for public outreach and education. The visual abstract may be more accessible to folk with cognitive or learning disabilities, while being less accessible to those with visual disabilities. There are powerful benefits, especially in this era of publicly contested science findings, as well as some significant drawbacks if we were to depend on the visual abstract to replace written abstracts. Another challenge is that it isn’t actually searchable in databases, and the issue of how to include and discover visual abstracts in MEDLINE remains to be addressed by the National Library of Medicine. Personally, I’m not sure that it replaces the full functionality of the traditional abstract, but rather supplements it, which I suspect is the intent. Offering both strongly empowers science communicators and educators, especially if the images are licensed to promote use and dissemination. It would be ideal if the standard of practice for visual abstracts would be to make them Creative Commons licensed.

Medical librarians must be aware of this, and should develop the competencies and skills necessary to make them so that they can help support their institutions as well as creating these for their own articles and research. One of the most common questions about this is how to locate or create icons to use. Just a few quick suggestions. If you have a significant budget, hire a graphic designer. If you have a smaller budget, consider licensing icons from the Noun Project. If you have more time than money, consider using Open Clip Art, where the images are free, but it may take more digging or editing for images you can use.

Cool Toys Pic of the day - Noun Project

So, how do you make these? Dr. Ibrahim has examples, videos, and guidelines available at his site.

Here is the direct link to the primer, including guidelines and best practices for the creation of visual abstracts, but I have not been able to get the direct link to work consistently.

Click to access VisualAbstract_Primerv2.pdf

Increasing numbers of journals are requesting visual abstracts as part of article submissions or are creating them as part of promotional content for highlighted articles. You can find many examples on the website, and more in the Twitter stream for the hashtag #VisualAbstract. Here are some examples from the past couple weeks.

FDA Released Draft Guidance on 3D Printing

Boatloads of people and a brain computer interface — #3Dprinting & #Robohand folk at #MakeHealth

The FDA recently released draft guidance for those using 3D printing (also known as “additive manufacturing”) to create or modify medical devices.

Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Devices
Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff
This guidance document is being distributed for comment purposes only.
Document issued on May 10, 2016.
http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM499809.pdf

This is a pretty interesting happening, and particularly interesting in the context of the maker movement, #DIYability, #InventHealth, #MakerNurse, and #MakeHealth. These are all concepts or movements driving the improvement of health and healthcare through engagement with the general public. This is where a lot of patients and the general public use creativity, insight, experience, and often various technologies such as 3D printing in order to craft custom solutions to interesting health challenges.

Here, at the University of Michigan, most of the press we’ve gotten around 3D and 4D printing has related to saving babies (in multiple ways) and making surgeries safer.

So, will the FDA guidance impact on people trying to make stuff at home, at work, in the hospital? Possibly. Actually, according to the strict interpretation of the current definitions, it sounds pretty likely. (Please, note, I am not a lawyer!) Here is one section on that aspect.

“Point-of-care device manufacturing may raise additional technical considerations. The recommendations in this guidance should supplement any device-specific recommendations outlined in existing guidance documents or applicable FDA-recognized consensus standards.”

So, this is talking about point-of-care, which would include pretty much all the maker communities I was mentioning above, but it’s really really vague. I’m not the only person who thinks so.

“Although the draft guidance is a start, there are still many unresolved regulatory issues that need to be addressed, especially as the technology continues to evolve and more innovative products are brought to market. One still-pressing, unanswered regulatory issue associated with 3D printing is how the FDA intends to approach non-traditional device manufacturers. As background, under the existing FDA regulatory framework, a manufacturer is defined broadly to include “any person who designs, manufactures, fabricates, assembles, or processes a finished device.” As 3D printers become increasingly accessible, a person (or entity) with a 3D printer does not need the financial capital, infrastructure, or resources historically associated with traditional manufacturing operations. While the draft guidance acknowledges point-of-care manufacturing, it does not provide much discussion on non-traditional entities, such as healthcare providers and suppliers becoming “manufacturers” of medical devices. … We also do not know how the FDA intends to resolve the legal and regulatory issues associated with point-of-care manufacturing.”
Matt Jackson, Kevin Madagan. FDA’S 3D Printing Draft Guidance Leaves Much Unresolved, Even More Unknown http://www.meddeviceonline.com/doc/fda-s-d-printing-draft-guidance-leaves-much-unresolved-even-more-unknown-0001

The next thing they mention, in the same paragraph, is biofabrication (which technically is less about making devices and more about 3d printing with biological “ink,” living cells, biomaterials, and such).

“In addition, this guidance does not address the use or incorporation of biological, cellular, or tissue-based products in AM. Biological, cellular or tissue-based products manufactured using AM technology may necessitate additional regulatory and manufacturing process considerations and/or different regulatory pathways. Therefore, all AM questions pertaining to products containing biologics, cells or tissues should be directed to the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).”

I’m actually relieved that they are leaving biofabrication alone for now, but it is not going to go away forever (nor should it). For people working at the intersectional spaces of 3D printing, where it combines with biologics, electronics, programmables, smart materials, and other materials with interactive potential, there is a possibility that content from this guidance may interact in unexpected ways with the other side of the work they are trying to do.

Here’s the good news.

“This draft guidance is a leap-frog guidance; leap frog guidances are intended to serve as a mechanism by which the Agency can share initial thoughts regarding emerging technologies that are likely to be of public health importance early in product development. This leap-frog guidance represents the Agency’s initial thinking, and our recommendations may change as more information becomes available.”

AND

“FDA’s guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the Agency’s current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. The use of the word should in Agency guidance means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.”

So, don’t worry TOO MUCH just yet, but do please read this, consider how it might impact on work happening in your community, and consider replying to the draft guidance or filing comments. You may submit comments on the Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Devices Draft Guidance until August 8, 2016.

Additional reading

3D Printing of Medical Devices http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/3DPrintingofMedicalDevices/default.htm

FDA Issues Long-Awaited 3D Printing Guidance for Medical Devices http://www.raps.org/Regulatory-Focus/News/2016/05/09/24901/FDA-Issues-Long-Awaited-3D-Printing-Guidance-for-Medical-Devices/

The FDA Releases Draft Guidance for Industry & Food & Drug Administration Staff Regarding 3D Printing https://3dprint.com/133570/fda-draft-guidance-3d-printing/

FDA releases long-awaited draft guidance for 3D printed medical devices http://www.3ders.org/articles/20160510-fda-releases-long-awaited-draft-guidance-for-3d-printed-medical-devices.html

New Year Surprises

You know the line “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing“?

Well, I can’t believe how little I’ve been here. I am absolutely SHOCKED that I haven’t blogged in over a MONTH! Of course, this is because I’ve been so gosh all darned busy, both at work and at home. Just briefly, what all is keeping me away is probably of interest to folk.

* MDMLG
* Opioid Overdose Summit
* Microbes and Mood
* Design Lab & Coloring
* PaGamO (Gaming)
* Graphic Medicine
* Librarians & Artists’ Books
* Sleep Trackers


MDMLG

First, a couple days after the last post, I was a keynote for the November meeting of MDMLG (Metropolitan Detroit Medical Library Group). It was a wonderful experience, a great group. I really enjoyed being with them, and by all reports, they enjoyed my talk. There are rumors that I might repeat it locally, and I’ve been pondering maybe repeating it in a Hangout or something for other folk. Maybe. In any case, here are the slides!

But is an Emerging Technologies Informationist a Librarian?


OPIOID OVERDOSE SUMMIT

Dashed away to visit family for the November holiday, dashed back, and immediately was livetweeting the UofM sponsored Opioid Overdose Summit. Another fantastic event! I’ve been working on a big beautiful Storify of the event for the last month, but the Storify platform developed a glitch and ate the whole thing. Unfortunately, the only engineer who MIGHT be able to restore the file from backup is out on vacation for another week, so for now I can offer you links to the UM Injury Center’s agenda, slides in Slideshare, their videos, and the hashtag #uminjuryctr.


MICROBES AND MOOD

The same week, I also livetweeted the seminar, “Gut Feelings: Microbes, Mood, & Metabolism” from the Depression Center’s Colloquium Series. It was a wonderful triple of presenters on how emerging and historic research is revealing connections between our microbiome (the bacteria that live in and on us) impact our own emotions. Powerful and exciting stuff.

I was making a Storify of this, too, but the same glitch (which prevent some content from being inserted and erases other content) has made it impossible for me to finish, so I’m releasing it in the raw form.


DESIGN LAB & COLORING

The following week I worked on various Storify stories in progress and had a bunch of meetings. One of the meetings was with the new Design Lab that lives on the main floor of the Shapiro Library, where we started planning a workshop which will sneakily use the adult coloring craze as a way to teach things like internet search skills, internet security, paper/art/book preservation concepts, some online tools and toys, etc. The workshop is happening next week, and I think it is going to be super cool. Just to whet your appetite, here is an example.

Original image:
Fleming Building at Sunset

Coloring version of the same image:
UM: Fleming


PAGAMO (GAMING)

PaGamO Screenshot

I didn’t livetweet this, but I felt very lucky that I was able to attend the small presentation by Dr. Benson Yeh on PaGamO for education. The lecture was FANTASTIC and was recorded, so I am hoping for a video to be available soon. In the meantime, here are a few links.

Why one professor created the first-ever social gaming platform for a MOOC http://blogs.coursera.org/post/64423209807/why-one-professor-created-the-first-ever-social

ReImagine Education 2015 Wharton Awards: PAGAMO, The World’s First Event Multi-Student Social Gaming, National Taiwan University; Winner: 1st Place E-Learning http://www.reimagine-education.com/the-winners-individual/8/PaGamO

PaGamO: First-ever Multi-student Social Gaming Platform for General Course (SLIDES) http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/pedagogical/website/files/theme/awards/winners/slider/pag/Benson_Wharton%20Award_V2.pdf

PaGamO, the world’s first ever MOOC-based multi-student social game platform https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKAWPqRtIe0


GRAPHIC MEDICINE

The next day, we had the first EVER meeting of the newly formed Graphic Medicine Interest Group for the University of Medicine. I took notes and lots of pictures, but the pictures did not end up in Flickr when I tried to put them there, so I have to hope they are in my hard drive backup for the phone. In the meantime, here is a picture of some of the graphic medicine titles I keep in my office when I have consults on the topic.

Graphic Medicine & Comics

Books included in this image:

1) REAL, by Takehiko Inoue https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_(manga)
2) Graphic Medicine Manifesto, by by MK Czerwiec, Ian Williams, Susan Merrill Squier, Michael J. Green, Kimberly R. Myers, Scott T. Smith http://www.graphicmedicine.org/book-series/graphic-medicine-manifesto/
3) The Bad Doctor, by Ian Williams http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-06754-4.html
4) On Purpose, by Vic Strecher http://www.dungbeetle.org/
5) Neurocomic, by Hana Ros, Matteo Farinella http://www.neurocomic.org/
6) Epileptic, by David B. http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/books/reviews/10851/
7) CancerVixen, by Marisa Acocella Marchetto http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/14/books/a-vixen-cartooning-in-the-face-of-cancer.html | http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/107478/cancer-vixen-by-marisa-acocella-marchetto/9780375714740/
8) Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/books/review/roz-chasts-cant-we-talk-about-something-more-pleasant.html
9) Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, by Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli http://boingboing.net/2014/11/30/second-avenue-caper-when-good.html | http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2014/11/joyce_brabner_creates_a_graphi.html
10) Diary of a Teenage Girl, by Phoebe Glockner http://stamps.umich.edu/creative-work/stories/phoebe | http://www.npr.org/2015/08/13/431997207/a-diary-unlocked-a-teenage-coming-of-age-story-put-on-film
11) The Spiral Cage, by Al Davison http://the-toast.net/2014/11/03/disability-and-the-work-of-al-davison/
12) Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud http://scottmccloud.com/2-print/1-uc/
13) Oh Joy, Sex Toy, by Erika Moen http://www.graphicmedicine.org/comic-reviews/oh-joy-sex-toy-2/ | http://www.ohjoysextoy.com/
14) Chop, Sizzle, Wow, by The Silver Spoon and Adriano Rampazzo. https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/chop-sizzle-wow/ | http://www.phaidon.com/store/food-cook/chop-sizzle-wow-the-silver-spoon-comic-book-9780714868202/


LIBRARIANS AND ARTISTS’ BOOKS

A few days later, in between my frantically working on the Storifys and an article deadline, I was doublebooked to livetweet two lectures, and had to pick one. So, I picked the one that was related to the library and was being presented by friends and colleagues. It was incredible, and again I took lots of pictures that are hopefully on that other hard drive. I had been hoping to enrich the Storify with those, but that isn’t going to happen until Storify fixes their bug with inserting links into story streams. So, here is another partially completed Storify, this one on the amazing artists working in the library making phenomenal art books. Beautiful.


SLEEP TRACKERS

Pebble Pals

Last but not least, we finished and submitted our article on sleep trackers for consumers and how they may or may not be useful in healthcare. It was an exciting and rewarding project, but I don’t want to say too much until we hear if the article is accepted. It was a LOT of work, and we compared many dozens of devices and tools. Learned a lot, and I hope the article is accepted. I must confess, I found it ironic that my own sleep tracker (Pebble + Misfit) quit working over the holiday. Color me perplexed.

NOW YOU UNDERSTAND?

So you can see why I was so busy I wasn’t getting blogging done? I’ll be a little absent for a while yet, still, since I have a few presentations next week, and piles of meetings coming up. But I’ll have to tell you all about what I’m doing with comics and hashtags and coloring in a future installment. And the weird Storify glitch that is supposedly only impacting me and one other person. Hope you all had a great holiday and end-of-the-year, with expectations of a Happy (and productive and fulfilling) New Year!

#WHDemoDay and #ADAinitiative — Oh, the Irony


Welcome to Demo Day at the White House! (Megan Smith, the First US Chief Technology Officer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxGrDsuwCFk

“It’s a tradition in the tech community to show off amazing things that people have built. … All Americans do this. All American are capable of this. And it’s a big part of our future, and it’s always been a big part of our past.”

Yesterday was a landmark day in diversity and inclusion.

Yesterday saw the first ever White House Demo Day (#WHDemoDay), for women and minority entrepreneurs and innovators to ‘pitch’ their ideas to President Obama.

Yesterday saw the end of the ADA Initiative, “a feminist organization. We strive to serve the interests and needs of women in open technology and culture who are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression, including disabled women, women of color, LBTQ women, and women from around the world.” (Ada Initiative, About Us)

How enormously ironic to see the closing of the one with the opening of the other, and both with such closely related missions. I can only hope that this first White House Demo Day proves to be one of many, and that the effort continues to embrace and support diversity as essential to American creativity and innovation.

White House Demo Day

The White House Demo Day had demonstrations to illustrate the diversity of people contributing to the innovation that helps strengthen the American economy. Most of the companies presenting had at least one woman founder or co-founder. Almost as many of the companies presenting had a founder that is a person of color or who shows ethnic or cultural diversity. The two companies represented by white men were (1) military, and (2) a winner of the XPRIZE. There were a few wonderful presenters from Michigan, including Ann-Marie Sastry of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor talking about her innovations in batteries and power storage. Products presented included new search engines based on cognitive models, medical innovations in cancer / HIV / aging / asthma, parenting tools, strategies for empowering patients, creative ways to repay student loans, several on converting ‘waste’ to profit, and much more. There was even Zoobean, who partner with libraries to recommend books and apps based on children’s preferences.

White House Demo Day

Part of what made this so wonderful (and why I wish I’d heard about it sooner) was the move to encourage parallel events across the country. I wish we’d done this here! Here are some tweets about the high points.

Read about the presenters here. Listen to the pitches here.


President Obama Hosts the First-Ever White House Demo Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKsxHS5vptM

White House Demo Day: https://www.whitehouse.gov/demo-day

Ada Initiative

“When the Ada Initiative was founded in 2011, the environment for women in open technology and culture was extremely hostile. Conference anti-harassment policies were rare outside of certain areas in fandom, and viewed as extremist attempts to muzzle free speech. Pornography in slides was a regular feature at many conferences in these areas, as were physical and sexual assault. Most open tech/culture communities didn’t have an understanding of basic feminist concepts like consent, tone policing, and intersectional oppression.” https://adainitiative.org/2015/08/announcing-the-shutdown-of-the-ada-initiative/

The Ada Initiative began by trying to change the world for women in STEM and tech. They stopped, but not without having made change, and not without leaving a permanent legacy. You’ll see tributes and comments below to testify to this, but you’ll also see links to some of the content they made open source and Creative Commons in order to help perpetuate their work, as well as work from some of their partners who carry on the good message and work. By the way, their open source toolkits are absolutely incredible and well worth downloading.

HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community https://adainitiative.org/2014/02/howto-design-a-code-of-conduct-for-your-community/
Code of conduct evaluations http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Code_of_conduct_evaluations

Announcing the ADA Camp Toolkit: https://adainitiative.org/2015/07/add-a-little-bit-of-adacamp-to-your-event-announcing-the-adacamp-toolkit/

ADACamp Toolkit: https://adacamp.org/
– Inclusive event catering: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/inclusive-event-catering/
– Providing conference childcare: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/childcare/
– Quiet room: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/quiet-room/
– Supporting d/Deaf and hard of hearing people at an unconference: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/supporting-deaf-people/

UofM Student Research on 3D Everything (Except Printing)

#mlibres Students on #3d

Last week there was another of the wonderful Emergent Research Series of lectures sponsored by the University of Michigan Libraries Research Unit (2014 archive, 2013 archive).

Main topics covered were spatial tracking, 3d virtual reality, optical motion capture, holography, optical tracking, acoustic motion tracking. During the Q&A, a major diversion (at least for me) was “Sim-sickness”, in which 3d immersive virtual reality (think of Oculus Rift & Google Cardboard) make folk nauseous, some to the point of actually tossing their cookies. There are videos in Youtube. I don’t need to find them for you. Fun topics mentioned included virtual augmented reality, Hololens, holography for teaching anatomy, biomechanics, cultural preservation, robotics, aerospace engineering, body slicing with the Kinect, body tracking, and DIY arduino acoustic sensors and automated echolocation. There were lots of tips and tricks, what works and what doesn’t. Many interesting links in the Storify below.