Watson at your service

As a follow-up to this post on my other blog, I read a fascinating account of how computers might help with the diagnostic process of medicine. It's impressive that the Watson system can digest research papers as well as handwritten notes. But I do worry that this is not really what patients expect from their physicians. Quite a lot of my time is spent consoling, explaining, demystifying and guiding patients along the healthcare pathway. I suppose Watson might improve diagnosis and therapy planning in some specialties where there is a need to weight up large numbers of biomarkers and genetic information, as well as clinical symptoms and signs. But I'm not convinced it would add much to cardiology practice.

Any thoughts?Imgres

Leaving Wordpress for Squarespace - the downside

.Wordpress logo stacked rgbSquarespace logo horizontal black

8 months in and I love Squarespace. Well, I love Squarespace 5 actually. The themes are great, the interface is straightforward and I have integrated Google analytics into the site with no problem. If I wanted to, I could add image galleries and Google Adsense as well.

But the release of Squarespace 6 caused me a problem. It does not work with my favourite blogging application Marsedit. Marsedit is such a good application for blogging for several reasons - ease of image uploading, scheduled posts, multiple blog management and a very approachable developer.

I don't know if this issue will ever be fixed. But until it is, I will stay with v5 of Squarespace. It suits my needs and will be around for the long run according to the site.

Give it a test run by clicking the banner on the right side of this page (shameless affiliate link).

Edit: seems all is not well with Squarespace 6. Some Internet tech nerds are leaving to go to static blogs or back to self-hosted Wordpress setups.

TrackMyPlaque.com, domain names and why I don't like GoDaddy

I like buying domain names.

My latest purchase is trackmyplaque.com. No site up yet (clicking should redirect), but it has potential I think.

Now I just need to find an imaging technique that allows me to do just that - follow an atherosclerotic plaque as it regresses under the effects of therapy. There are in fact several ways of doing this already - ultrasound of the carotid arteries, MRI of the carotids and aorta and of course intravascular ultrasound for the coronary arteries. These all provide useful structural information, and regression may be linked to future cardiovascular risk reduction. Wouldn't it be useful to have a global vascular score for each patient? Yep, I also own cardioscore.pro. And hearthealth.tv. Told you I like domains!

But it seems that the functional characteristics of the plaque may change in a beneficial way before the intervention affects the structure of the lesion, and it is believed that inflammation imaging, perhaps using FDG PET, might give an earlier readout of treatment efficacy (or otherwise) than waiting for wall thickness changes.

I use Hover to buy my domains. I used to use GoDaddy, but the constant upselling at checkout was annoying.

I have a 10% discount code for this of you that want to try Hover. Message me on Twitter and I'll send it to you.

Papers for Mac revisited

So I made a new video on Papers. It goes into some depth about using Smart Collections to organise your research library.

Enjoy it, and let me know what other software you'd like to see covered. You may finally be able to throw off the curse of Endnote for Mac. Nothing sets the beach balls spinning on my laptop faster and for longer than Endnote.

Citations, Impact Factors and Social Media

Google Scholar has come up with an interesting new way to keep track of citations to your work. And by doing that, indirectly keep up to date with new publications in your niche.

Here's my link as an example.

As we approach the REF2014, I imagine that measures of articles like citation numbers, and the impact factor of the journals where we publish our work will be taken into account, although it's not clear which metrics will be used.

Cambridge University is using Symplectic to collate REF returns for each scientist.

A recent addition this area is the collation of social media activity relating to publications, including Facebook, twitter and blog mentions. These are pulled from Altmetric.

As a proponent of social media and science, I like where this is heading. The 'traditional' channels for discussion of scientific research are being used less often than before (letters the the editor anyone?), and and tweets, retweets and buzz around conference presentation are on the rise.

Scrivener - order from chaos

I have been using Scrivener for a couple of years now, mainly for medium to long writing projects. There are several key features I love. I have written about it before on this blog here.

I love the fact you can set-up a perfect working environment, with outline, brief, email traffic, research folders (containing anything you like) and of course the draft text, all in one place.

Here is a research folder of a review paper I am working on right now. All the relevant PDFs are at my fingertips.

I also like to use the Template feature of Scrivener. When I have found a set-up that I think I'll need again, like that for grants, review papers, formal reports, I'll save it as a template so I can re-use it next time.

More Markdown goodness and some resources to enjoy

I wrote in a recent post about how much I enjoy using John Gruber's Markdown as a means of having my writing as portable plain text across my devices, but at the same time easily exportable to HTML and the web, and transferrable into a good-looking PDF.

I have stumbled across some great links and screencasts for those wanted to know more. Some are listed below.

I use it for this blog, and my other site over at plaqueimaging. I wrote my list of publications in Markdown which makes it so easy for keeping this running list updated, with live links to the relevant URL.

Have you tried it? Let me know what you think.

Fitbit - an inspiring collision of technology and health, or just another fad?

I just got a Fitbit on eBay after reading this post. It's a pedometer, designed to be worn all day that tracks your every move. It even claims to monitor your sleep patterns when worn on your wrist at night.


I was intrigued. Could wearing something so small really influence behaviour in a way that might impact long-term health? The hype suggests so.

It seems like a combination of cool form-factor video game style challenges and rewards for certain activities (steps per day, flights of stairs walked etc) can really appeal. Plus some good old-fashioned competition between friends - the dashboard of the website where your stats are collected is heavily integrated with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Setup is a breeze, a charge lasts a week or more and synchronisation with the web server is automatically done when you walk into the same room as your computer.


It seems that the Fitbit has now been partnered with United Healthcare, the large US health insurer.

UnitedHealth Group Announces New Strategic Partnerships with Mobile Health Technology Firms

Stay tuned - I'll let you know how it goes.


on 2012-12-06 17:05 by James Rudd

I'm enjoying the FitBit - a great motivator to keep walking every day, and keep climbing stairs too.

I'm also thinking of investing in a Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale that can be paired with the device.