Tuesday, September 02, 2014

This interactive Periodic Table makes learning Chemistry fun

During the 1960s I practiced analytical chemistry then taught chemistry, mathematics and general science at high schools (in the sate of Victoria, Australia).

I left teaching when I joined IBM in 1970, but am still interested in all things scientific even to this day. I’ve decided that I’m going to try getting my three young grandsons interested too, hoping that at least one of them will follow in grandpa’s footsteps!

I decided to write this brief post as soon as I came across an excellent little website devoted to displaying the Periodic Table of the chemical elements in an novel way.

The Dynamic Periodic Table is an interactive web-based joy to use -- but I will admit that you have to be that way inclined!

(click for a larger image)image

This periodic table was created by Michael Dayah.  Read all about it here.

Michael explains that it’s a true web application, uses only HTML (no images or Flash), and accesses multiple resources (such as Wikipedia) to conglomerate information about the individual elements, tablet friendly, usable offline, kept up to date with newly-discovered elements and other information, and more.

Highly recommended for chemistry buffs!

I heartily recommend that you have a play with it too, then be sure to pass the link on to all the young people that you know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self-check video for Melanoma (or other skin cancers)

After many decades of sun and surf, I’ve finished up with a circular bald patch on my scalp where a melanoma was removed last year.

Such skin cancers can happen to anyone at all, typically appearing from teenage onwards. It’s particularly distressing to see beautiful young people dying quite quickly from skin cancer, with melanomas being the prime cause.

If detected and removed early enough, there’s a fair chance of recovery and hanging around on this wonderful blue planet of ours for five to ten years or even longer.

In my case, nobody noticed the melanoma brewing away atop my noggin. Its presence was confirmed only after I decided to go to a specialist for another skin spot, and he found it while doing a complete body scan. (I’m quite surprised that various hairdressers over the years didn’t ever commented on it.)

You owe it to yourself (plus those near and dear to you) to check your skin REGULARLY for the appearance of suspect moles and other skin spots.


The University of Queensland (Australia) has put together a video to help people carry out skin self-assessments: How-to skin check video - Useful for men 50 years or older

I suppose that old blokes are rather careless about their health (but we know that it applies to anyone of any age, don’t we?). A recent Australian study showed that men over 50 ignoring skin cancer risks despite awareness campaigns 

A Swedish study that men living alone have higher risk of death from skin cancer:

“Cutaneous malignant melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. The disease is one of the fastest growing cancers among Caucasian (white) populations and is an escalating health problem even among young individuals.”

The Swedish study mentions that “Melanoma of the skin can be cured if the tumour is surgically removed before the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body” and that’s certainly what I’m hoping for in my case.

In my readings I’ve discovered that melanoma is frighteningly aggressive in its spread (metastasis). The biggest criticism is that the video is prudish in not mentioning that checks must include the entire groin region, front and back. You should also check the less obvious spots, such as between the toes.

Some forms of melanoma are worse that others, see: Nodular Melanoma, Form Of Skin Cancer That Grow 4X Faster Than Others, Has Doctors Warning Patients

Although nodular melanoma only accounts for 15 percent of melanoma cases, it is also to blame for 43 percent of deaths caused by melanoma.

Then there’s the frightening way that melanoma cells work their way all over the body. See Skin cancer cure step closer as Manchester scientists mimic way cells 'wriggle' through body:

“The life-threatening cells form different shapes allowing them to squeeze their way out of tumours, travel through the bloodstreams or even raid soft tissues such as the brain. The cells can also assume a long thin shape giving the life-threatening disease the ability to travel through harder tissues like bone.”

Surely that’s quite scary!

Australian doctors have been told recently to warn patients about The killer pimple: Doctors warn of aggressive form of skin cancer which is six times more likely to kill if it is not removed within two months (be sure to watch the video), and there’s more at Some melanomas present as harmless-looking pimples

I’m sure that all the above makes for very unpleasant reading, but if it leads to even a single extra person getting early treatment I’ll be very pleased.

Just let me get back to coding - a developer’s dream?

Andrew Binstock, Editor in Chief at Dr. Dobb’s, has hit the nail on the head in two recent editorials about development toolsets that every coder should read:

  • Just Let Me Code! (22 July 2014) - Managing the complexity of development toolchains — from SCM, to the build tools, to the testing, to the deployment stack — now so overwhelms the developer experience, it's hard to get any real programming done.
  • Getting Back to Coding (29 July 2014) - Reducing tool complexity requires mercilessly applying YAGNI to your toolchain. Resist the siren songs of new, popular memes and the blandishments of vendors, and choose the tools that deliver only what you need.

    … “That problem is most acutely felt by two groups: solo developers and those working either in SMBs or for-hire at a client site. Those least affected are programmers at enterprises, which can afford dedicated staff” …

Andrew obviously hit a nerve, there being quite a few assenting comments!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Moving and docking Eclipse-style views in IBM Domino Designer (video)

An old 2010 post of mine about Open In New Window (for IBM Notes data views) just received a comment (by Scott) asking whether in IBM Domino Designer this capability for Notes data views was also available for design elements.

Well it is possible, pretty much, by taking advantage of the underlying Eclipse Workbench ability to move and dock "views” (here used in the Eclipse sense).

Open Help for Domino Designer and navigate to:
>>> Workbench User Guide
>>>>>> Tasks
>>>>>>>>> Working with views and editors

This documentation is rather sparse, so I recorded an off-the-cuff demo that should give you a fair idea about the way this capability works. (Sorry about the croaky throat, it’s winter season here Down Under in Melbourne.)

In the Eclipse Workbench there’s the ability to have “detached views” (which would be the exact equivalent of opening a Notes data view in a new window), however this doesn’t seem to have been implemented in IBM Domino Designer.

Nevertheless what’s there is pretty good, so go try it out and maybe improve your developer productivity.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Are these the Biggest Problems facing your IT Project Teams?

A nice slideshow has just appeared on the Baseline website that covers the commonest issues that arise all over the world. Can you add to their list from your experience?

See The Biggest Problems Facing IT Project Teams (slideshow)

Don’t overlook the link on the first slideshow page to AtTask’s free-to-download e-book titled "10 Problems Preventing Your IT Team From Doing (Its) Best Work and How to Solve Them" (or here).

Of course, remove the references to IT and edit just slightly, and these same points pretty much apply to every sort of project there is.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Should Google be called “the evil umpire”?

My ex-employer —I retired nearly twenty years ago – IBM used to be widely regarded as an “evil empire” but that label seems to have worn off over the last few decades, even being called “almost cuddly these days” in an InformationWeek story IT’s Evil Empires:

Evil Empires can acquire their reputation through no fault of their own. But all too often, they earn the characterization through a distasteful combination of success-fueled arrogance and a thinly disguised disdain for customers, competitors, and regulators.

Microsoft more recently usurped the “evil empire” throne in the years following the release of Windows 95 (during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who seems to have popularized the term).

Now it’s Google’s turn, and since its ascendance to obvious dominance in Web search by the early years of the new millennium, Google is being nominated as the “new evil empire.”

Along comes the recent launch by Afaq Tariq of his “Hidden from Google” website.

This causes me to suggest, more in jest than anger, that if Google kowtows to the “right to be forgotten” ruling of the EU then Google should be called The Evil Umpire (laughter all around)!

Or perhaps I’ve gotten it wrong, and by enforcing a new form of censorship on otherwise-free Web information is it the EU Council that/who are the evil ones in this case?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Debugging JavaScript– new DZone Refcard (cheat sheet)

Here’s a heads-up for those that are unfamiliar with the many developer resources at DZone.

Just released is a reference card (a.k.a. cheat sheet)  for Debugging JavaScript which is the latest in a long list of their Refcardz series.

Go get the Debugging JavaScript cheat sheet.

It’s free, you only have to register with DZone to be able to download it.

And don’t forget to browse all the earlier ones too, you’ll undoubtedly like what you find there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

An essay on The Joy of Typing

I don’t like most modern computer keyboards. My career at IBM using their excellent keyboards with the superb “buckling spring” technology has made every other type of keyboard seem inferior to me. There is that immensely satisfying “Click” every time you successfully make a keystroke, you just can’t beat it.

During the mid-1990s I switched to a Lexmark keyboard, not as massive as the weighty IBM ones, also having the buckling spring mechanism, with the added advantage of taking up less desktop space. This Lexmark gathered much gunk between/under the keys, so a few months ago I pulled off the removable keytops and gave it a thorough cleaning.

Trouble was, I couldn’t ever get the space bar to work properly after that. Now it randomly generates extra spaces between words causing me much frustration and time wasted remove the surplus spaces.

I explored the purchase of a brand new Unicomp keyboard from the USA. I’m sure their keyboards are excellent to use, with the slight advantage of having a “Windows” key which neither the old IBM or Lexmark keyboards did (they were designed well before Windows 95 appeared). They cost from USD $79.00 upwards, however the freight across the Pacific to Australia was going to double the price, so I passed on this option.

So now I’m back using an original IBM “Model M” keyboard again, and must say that it does seem to have a subtly better tactile feel than the Lexmark. So I’m a happy typist again (in keyboard terms, that is).

The IBM Model M keyboard

Interestingly, and in a completely different vein, the other day I came across The Joy of Typing by Clive Thompson, wit the subtitle “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.”

He starts of by posing the question: “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.” A study had reported that college students who typed lecture notes remembered less than those who wrote them down by hand.

So, should we stop typing in favour of handwriting (where possible)? Go read Clive Thompson’s article and draw your own conclusions.