Monday, October 31, 2011

Steve Jobs, RIP

It is hard for me to think of someone, outside of my parents and family, who has had as profound an effect on my life as Steve Jobs did. As I sit here writing, I have an iPhone in my pocket, an iPad in my briefcase, a Macintosh computer on my desk at home (on which I have iTunes installed to download records), and an iPod in my desk drawer which I use when traveling or reading to listen to music. I bought my first Macintosh computer in 1984, an age when some of my current students were not even alive. It was a Mac IIe, with 1 meg RAM and a 5 ¼” floppy drive, and it so transformed my life as an editor and as a teacher that I cannot conceive of what life would be without it.

In 1984 I was early in my career with the JMPT, not yet its editor. Working with Dr. Roy Hildebrandt, every time we revised a manuscript which had been submitted to JMPT we had to have it retyped. Initially, we had to do this by hand; we then obtained an early IBM typewriter which could store up to a single page of text, which simplified the task a little bit but remained imperfect. With many submissions each month, our time was spent in reworking papers and typing them up again. That first Mac seemed magical- a full paper would be stored on this little piece of floppy material, and we could easily make changes and see them immediately reformat a page. OMG! Such power in that little piece of technology!

I also remember my first cell phone. Actually, it was called a bag phone, since it was the size of a regular land-line phone but was carried in a bag with a 9-volt battery. I imagine some of our students would not understand; they have grown up with cell technology. And that bag phone was only good for making phone calls. I look at the little device in my pocket, and I can make phone calls, but I can also access many programs that enhance productivity- or waste time- and I can read my email (and send email), access the web and watch movies.

In the classroom we use various technologies, most of which were either developed by Steve Jobs and Apple or Bill Gates via Windows. These have transformed education. We talk about Millennials, and how they learn differently than earlier generations (I am a baby boomer). I went to chiropractic college, and I sat in hours of lecture. Sometimes, the instructor had mimeographs of material, or an overhead on a acetate, and then maybe some slides (which required a slide projector). I learned well this way- and it took me a long time to understand that learning that way is no longer really operational- we have new technologies in play. There is even concern that the use of google may impact our memory and our learning, since so much information is now available for searching we need not remember it since it is always there. Google is now our brain. None of this is possible without Steve Jobs.

I will miss how visionary he was, how he transformed the world. I don’t know what Apple will do without him, but certainly the world is now a poorer place with him gone.

Monday, October 10, 2011

End of Term Youtube Bonanza

Here we are at the end of the Fall 2011 term and likely we are all feeling a bit tired and ready for a short break. I do, too, so herewith are some fun, heartwarming and interesting youtube clips to help you lead into or back from your vacation.

1. Woman hears her own voice for the first time: This video, taken by Sarah Churman’s husband Sloan, shows her dawning comprehension that she is hearing her own voice for the first time in her life; she is 29. It takes her a couple of seconds to process what is happening, but when she does, the smile and the tears that light her face are memorable. And her later comment is worth reporting: “I didn’t know I had an accent.”

2. And in a baby: Of course, if it is good in a 29-year-old woman, it has to be better in an infant. So here is an infant responding to his mom after he has had a cochlear implant. The smiel is worth the price of admission.

3. Bus driver surprised on his birthday: Well, you won’t see this happen any time in the United States, but here we see passengers help celebrate the birthday of their daily busdriver, even to fooling him with what looks like a protest, but is really just the opposite, a celebration:

4. Christian the lion- a legendary story and video, about 2 men who rescued a lion from a store in Great Britain, raised him so that he could be released into the wild, and then went looking to see how he was doing several years later. This is a memorable reunion:

5. And when I got back from Kandahar: Along similar lines, here we see a soldier returning home after a posting in Kandahar, and the reaction of his pet dog when he does. The dog is, shall we say, ecstatic:

6. A young singer with a mighty voice: I confess I d not watch these reality singing programs, but this one is pretty fine. The young lady can sing:

7. Ping pong outside the box: This is not your usual ping pong game here!

8. Hey, I play 3 instruments at once: And they are not even usual instruments, except the guitar. This fellow lays didgeridoos and stomp boxes along with his guitar- and he sings on top of it.

9. Grissom and Sarah: CSI, one of my favorite programs ever, developed the relationship of Gill Grissom and Sarah Sidle over a period of many years, using the so-called long arc of storytelling to do so. In the end, when William Petersen stepped out of the role he had owned for so long, the writers did him a good one by reuniting him with his lady love, in Costa Rica. Brings a smile to my face; this pay-off took 8 years to get to:

Enjoy the upcoming break and for those just back, enjoy the new term. I’ll be back in a few weeks with new posts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apps for Healthcare Educators

I have an iPhone. Some of you have Androids, BlackBerrys or other cell phone. And all of us have a various set of apps on them. Some are for fun; in my case, I play solitaire when I, oh, wait while my wife tries on clothes at the local Von Maur. I have various newspapers on my phone, and I also have a wonderful little app called MedCalc 3000. This is an app that provides you immediate calculations of various measures used in evidence-based practice, such as sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, confidence intervals, and so on. When I bought this app, at the high cost of just $4.99, I thought that there might be other good apps available. There are. I am not sure that they can be found for all phoe platforms, but I would be surprised if not. Here are a few good ones.

MedCalc 3000- you can read about this program at There are a number of different versions of the MedCalc program, some more for specialty physicians, but the one I note here has utility for those of us- which is all of us- involved in teaching with the tools of evidence-based practice. This little app lets you insert numbers from papers you read and then will calculate all sorts of statistics for you. Easy to use, intuitive and a good find. It costs $4.99, as noted above.

Med Calc- this is not related to the above app. This one is a more in-depth program that gives you access to many complicated formulas used in healthcare. For example, there is a body mass calculator in this program and there are many others. Take a look at And it’s free.

Epocrates- we chiropractors cannot and do not prescribe drugs. But our patients still take them. And they take a lot of tem and of many different kinds. This program is the best available online phone-based app to easily locate information about the drugs our patients are taking. It has the additional strength of letting you investigate drug-drug interactions and drug-supplement interactions. It is free, but may cost money to upgrade annually as new information becomes available. Glance at it here:

NEJM This Week- this is a free app that allows you to scan new information coming from the New England Journal of Medicine, which is one of the world’s most influential medical journals. Here is an overview for the program:

iRadiology- I will defer to our radiologists for other recommendations for good apps, and I know we have our strengths here, but this is one of the top programs for interns and residents to use. Take a look here:

There is a good overview of apps for doctors at The author links you to a couple dozen excellent programs. This is an amazing technological innovation, and I would love to hear what apps you find most useful.