Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Articles on Medicine and Other Stuff Too (June 2012)

An interesting perspective on evaluating hospitals based on patient satisfaction. On the other hand, hospitals are sometimes led to make changes that improve patient comfort and mood.

Is your internet communication encrypted? Okay, but when that encryption is one day broken, someone might just have a copy of it.

Fun and revealing video about the parts of our consumerist culture that we usually don't see or just ignore.

Baltimore's historical advantage as an important port city is still relevant today, but old infrastructure is now a bottleneck.

Commentary on appropriate use of technology in a healthcare setting. It's the human experience that patients look for.

Plastics and food. Not the first study and probably not the last. Whether or not it is true, denying it won't make it false, so start paying attention.

Many public health efforts today focus on the problem of food deserts, but maybe they aren't all that.

USA Today investigative report on environmental dangers from historical factories.

Historical overview of innovations to the field of surgery.

How much do you trust a capitalistic industry? Or the widespread use of flame retardants.

The difficulties of taking care of a family member with dementia.

A short historical profile on the history of Sears.

The search for a stress vaccine? Perhaps, but it might just do as well to devote resources to fixing the causes rather than just treating the symptoms.

"People hate generosity as much as they hate mean-spiritedness." Or...people are incredibly jealous and don't want to look bad. Not sure I needed a research study to tell me that one, though.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reflection on Today

It's been four years. It's a beautiful day, and I have just finished the last class* that I will take as an undergraduate student. Kind of a scary thought, in many ways. In the fall, I will start medical school, the next phase of my life. There are still a few months before I do that, however.

In other news today, I had my first opportunity to see the new world-class facilities to go with the world-class doctors that make up the Johns Hopkins Hospital:

The main public areas are beautiful and might be what someone already expects when they think of a top-notch hospital, but rest assured that this is brand new. Hopefully all of the improvements for patients designed into the facility are already being realized.

A nice anecdote I heard today while observing a surgery involved the old operating rooms at Hopkins, now no longer in use (I don't know what the future plans for them are):
  • The old ORs had been in operation for 110 years (granted they've been upgraded and renovated over the years).
  • The first and last scheduled (i.e. non-emergency) operation to be performed in the OR suite was a shunt revision.
All in all, a good day.

*That last class happened to be 520.222 Computer Architecture with Prof. Jenkins; I have to say that this has been one of my favorite classes and professors during my time at Hopkins and I would highly recommend anyone with an inclination toward CS/EE/ComputerE consider taking this class as an elective. The material is very interesting, and yet sufficiently challenging without being overwhelming (though some may disagree with my evaluation). Update 5/8: See also this Washington post article on the new Hopkins building.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Articles on Medicine...and One on Amtrak (Mar 2012)

It has been awhile since I link-blogged, but I think I have a few interesting ones lined up, so here goes:

A few months ago, Wired published a nice long article looking at science, correlation, and causality. It uses the failure of the drug torcetrapib as a lead-in example, and also discusses some interesting stuff on diagnosing back pain. Read here.

The NYU School of Medicine has begun to supplement its anatomy classes with computer simulations. The future is here. It won't replace traditional dissection labs completely, but has a lot of potential to enhance medical education. (New York Times)

Biomedical engineering? How about an artificial heart that doesn't beat? The amazing story here, courtesy of Popular Science.

Now that you're all read out, consider taking some real time off from the world. This Washington Post columnist writes about her experience on a cross-country Amtrak trip, where the destination was the journey.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Verizon Wi-Fi for All Devices: Mac, Linux, Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and more

See bottom of post for minor UPDATE 2/5/2012.

Two and a half years ago, Verizon announced a partnership with Boingo to offer free wi-fi to its FiOS and DSL (3 Mbps or higher only) customers. Although it was a welcome addition, especially because of Boingo's coverage in airports, it was criticized for only supporting Windows devices, while everyone else was left out in the cold. The initial version of the software also had issues installing with the Firefox web browser. I had tried to install the software about a year or two ago and had not been successful, but today I am happy to report that the service actually works much better than expected.

The first piece of good news is for Windows users: Verizon has updated its software so that it is no longer browser dependent to install. You can do so by going to

The second piece of good news is arguably the bigger one of the two. When you go to get set up Verizon Wi-Fi, you will be asked to create a username and password to use with the service. You are then asked to download the software. However, you don't actually need the software, although it makes the Wi-Fi much easier to use on Windows. For all other platforms, you can simply use Boingo's web login page. Yes, that's right. Remember that username and password you created? After you connect to the Boingo wireless network and get to the Boingo splash page in your browser, click on the dropdown that says "Roaming Login". Choose "Verizon Business" and enter the username and password that you set up earlier. You need to include "" as part of the username. This means that any device with a web browser can now use "Verizon Wi-Fi" where there is a Boingo hotspot! The fact that Verizon doesn't report this method seems to be a large oversight on their part. Or perhaps they want to keep the number of Wi-Fi users down because the more users that use the service, the more they have to pay Boingo.

It is possible you will not be allowed to register for the service at without being on a Windows machine, but such a restriction, if it exists, is minor compared to not being able to receive the service at all, and is easily worked around by tech savvy users. It is also possible that this capability to login with just a username and password was only added recently. Nevertheless, it is extremely useful and I hope that other people will benefit from this knowledge, which I have not seen reported elsewhere online.
Note: Boingo's website may show more hotspots than Verizon's list, but that is because Boingo users are allowed access to some partner hotspots, while Verizon users cannot access those hotspots (you might be my friend, but your friend is not necessarily my friend too). However, this also theoretically means Verizon users can access non-Boingo international hotspots that also list "Verizon Business".

Minor Update 2/5/2012: It appears that not all Verizon Wi-Fi listed hotspots can necessarily be used as described in my post. I've discovered that the Marriott Long Island "ibahn" SSID doesn't seem to have Verizon listed as a roaming provider, even though the Windows app can log on. Go figure.