Monday, May 30, 2016

Why wealthier people are more likely to survive melanoma

Can’t really say that I’m surprised by this:

“We already know that poverty is a risk factor for poor health and premature mortality, according to a 2004 meta-analysis of income inequality and health in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews. But a new skin cancer study finds that wealthier people actually have a higher chance of being diagnosed with melanoma—as well as a higher chance of surviving it.”

See …

Friday, May 27, 2016

Computers and their peripherals, old and even older

I just read the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2015 report: Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations about "federal IT investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes" which is an outcome not unique to the U.S. government by any means!

It got me thinking yet again about old computers and old software, and the reliability of these today and in the past. See my earlier post: If it’s safe enough for NASA, then it’s good enough for me (software coding rules)

The other day I stumbled upon another fascinating tale about hardware, software and user interfaces between the two, that I strongly recommend. Be sure to read  Apollo Guidance Computer: A Users View (PDF) by astronaut David Scott.

Just think about it. Jet-setting to and vacationing on the Moon, back in the 1960s, with your life relying on computing equipment about as powerful as a $5 wristwatch these days.

But most of us were unaware of all this as we gathered boggle-eyed around out TV sets to watch grainy live broadcasts of the various Apollo landings – not to forget the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

This will goad (or goat) you into laughter

Watch this amusing video:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Men's essential reference manual now available in paperback edition


Just letting you know that the popular men’s handbook "Understanding Women" is now out as a paperback …

Re Men's reference manual now

Monday, March 07, 2016

Food for thought–Your guts, eating greens, and well-being

Why eating greens is so good for you
Did you see this in The Age (Australian newspaper) several weeks ago?
Another reason to eat your greens: sugar

Queen Garnet plums – new superfood?
Wthe latest info on Queen Garnet plums in today's episode of Landline (the segment near the end of the episode): 

If you’re don’t have an Australian IP address then you might be blocked from watching this ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) video, I’m sorry to say. (Plus, it may be withdrawn within a few weeks.)

It certainly looks like this is another "superfood" that we should all consider consuming (and, if you're a farmer, well worth setting up in your plantation).

Does your gut have control over you?
and I think that I sent a note about the following a while ago:
Stomach and mood disorders: how your gut may be playing with your mind

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Putting these all together, there seems to be plenty of food for thought about how eating the "right" things should have a distinctly beneficial affect on improving your well-being and enjoyment of life.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Why Australia is better than the USA, melanoma-wise

I had a melanoma excised from my scalp at the start of 2013, it was probably sitting there baking away for years. Out of sight, out of mind. Too many decades in the plentiful Australian sun, while surfing and elsewhere.

I visited a dermatologist for examination of a spot on my left thumb (which turned out to be benign), and he gave me a full skin examination. I asked about the lump on my scalp, for which the dermatologist took a biopsy. He rang me a few days later with the bad news that it was a dangerous well-developed melanoma that needed excision as soon as possible.

A week or so later I was on the operating table at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, under light anaesthetic, where I could feel the scalpel catting out a 5-centimetre wide circle of flesh from the top left side of my noggin. Then I felt some sort of sharp, whirring surgical gadget sliced off a thin patch of skin from the upper inside portion of my right arm, and this donor graft was stitched onto my scalp.

Life’s full of surprises: a few weeks earlier I hadn’t the slightest inkling that I would be experiencing this novel event!

So for a few years I’ve been living with a pale circle on pink hairless skSt. Anthony of Padua in that really stands out against my greying but still mainly mousy-brown hair.

I tell people that I have a SETI antenna built into my scalp, and am aiding in the search fro intelligent life in far places. .. Perhaps I could claim that it’s a tiny tonsure, but I wouldn’t have the gall to claim so since I’m neither devout or humble, unlike my patron saint pictured to the right. (Click the image to find out more.)

As you might expect, over the last few years I’ve been attending regular skin checks, and have had a couple of less aggressive skin cancer sports excised too. As you might expect, I’m now extremely aware of skin cancer in all its manifestations.

Anyway, on to the topic of this blog post. Australia has now in all states banned commercial tanning beds (solariums), which we found to have been responsible for too many deaths -- though anything more than zero deaths is of course too many. There is some concern that non-commercial (private) solariums are increasing in number, buts that’s a different problem needing to be solved and at least the commercial ones are illegal here Down Under.

But sadly the US seems to be way behind Australia in the way that solariums are regarded, see US melanoma rates are rising faster for women than for men — indoor tanning may explain why and take heed (in the USA or any other country where solariums are used, at home or in parlours).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Please help this user to install IBM Notes 9.0.1

RJ Kelly has asked for assistance in installing IBM Notes 9.0.1 and I hope that somebody in the Notes community is able to help him.

To assist, see my earlier blog post:
    IBM Notes 9 Client install fails with “RCP Base plug-in not found”

Please scan the post and read his comment right at at the bottom -- and help him out, so that he doesn’t have to go back to Notes R5!

How to check “short URLs” before opening them

I just stumbled upon this useful security too that everybody should use:


Be safer online. Use this tool to help determine if a cryptic shortened URL – such as -- might be dangerous to open (by leading to a malware site).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Let's Bring Learning to Life at Home and in the Classroom

During the 1960s I did some industrial (analytical) chemistry work, then spent six years teaching chemistry, general science and mathematics in high schools. … Then gave up teaching to join IBM in 1970 and spend the rest of my professional life in the IT industry (finally retiring at the end of 2013).

I just received an e-mail from one Stacy Maxton, requesting that I add some links to this page on my website but that page (and most of the others on the site) have now been moved to archive status, so I couldn’t fulfill Stacy’s request.

Instead, since it looks worthwhile, as one who believes strongly in encouraging education (for people of all ages), I’ve taken the liberty of posting Stacy’s request below, where it will probably get more attention:

Hello fellow educator!

I’ve been a cheerleader for math (and, really, education as a whole) for as long as I can remember (in fact – that’s ultimately why I started my own site!).

Over the last several years, I’ve tutored 100s of students to make math more attainable and fun.

Teaching becomes increasingly difficult during the holiday season when thoughts of sugar-plums are dancing in our students’ heads! :) That’s why I decided to put together a list of resources to help educators keep a classroom full of excited children focused and (hopefully!) ensure that learning still happens during this somewhat chaotic time! :)

Please enjoy! And feel free to share with others (on your site:, and any other medium you prefer)!

I hope these resources ease this somewhat chaotic time for learning!

Keep Calm and Teach On! :)

I hope that the above resource links assist educators around the globe, including visiting Stacy’s site MathCamps of course.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

It’s time to change this punctuation rule (or am I being too dotty?)

Languages are constantly and continually changing, as are the rules for punctuation. I’ve been interested in languages since early High School days (where I was introduced to Latin and French, my first exposure to foreign tongues).

Being used to mathematics and computer coding, there’s one particular punctuation rule that I’d like to see changed for the better

In mathematics and computer programming languages, there are statement construction rules such as the requirement to balance parentheses. In spoken languages, there are sentence construction rules that we are expected to follow.

For example, in “good English” there are rules for the placement of punctuation marks such as the full stop (the dot, or period). Taking as one example Jef Raskin’s essay Effectiveness of Mathematics and consider the final two sentences:

It is because we have evolved so as to have brains that work the way the world does, that part of what has evolved are the logical (to us) processes of deduction. As we build mathematics we build it in conformity with the physical world because the foundations of logic, the very nature of what makes sense to us, was dictated by the physical world. The inherent abilities of our brains were established, and those abilities reinforced, by natural selection. If we have been schooled by the physical world, should we be surprised that our works reflect its teachings? From this point of view, we should be surprised only if mathematics, built on a logic derived from the way the world behaves, was not able to describe the world. We do not need to resort to Penrose’s mystical explanation, which is based on a "belief in the profound mathematical harmony of Nature" as he proclaimed in his book, The Emperor’s New Mind. In an appropriately skeptical book, The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan came close to my position, saying that, "our notions, both hereditary and learned, of how Nature works were forged in the millions of years our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. I think the roots of logic are perhaps deeper than our sentient ancestors." I move from "perhaps" to "must have been".

In the first of these two sentences we see the conventional punctuation rule for concluding a sentence containing a quoted phrase. This rule states that you should precede the closing quotation mark with the full stop. …    “must have been”.    rather than  “must have been.”

In the second sentence, and probably inadvertently, Jef placed the full stop after the closing quotation mark.

I prefer he second usage, and reckon that the rule should be changed to be like this. It makes more sense to me, and is more “balanced” in the way that mathematical expressions and computer programming statements would require.

Let’s start a movement to get this punctuation rule changed. I hope you agree with me that it’s a “better way”.  Or am I just being an unpleasant, unrepentant pedant?