Friday Foolery #10. 6 x X-Rays

7 11 2009

“X-rays” were in the news this week, at least there was an illuminating exposure on Twitter. Here are 6 stories, half serious and half not so serious.

[1] First, voters have picked the X-ray machine as the most important scientific invention (objects in science, engineering, technology and medicine), in a poll to celebrate the centenary of the Science Museum in London. As a matter of fact medical inventions were in the top three places in the poll (1. X-ray machines 2. Penicillin and 3. DNA double helix), ahead of the Apollo 10 capsule (no. 4) and the steam engine (8).

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8339877.stm
BMJ: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/339/nov05_3/b4602?rss=1

[2] Margaret Daalman came to hospital complaining of stomach ache – and one glance at her X-ray showed why:  the 52-year-old woman’s stomach contained an entire canteen of cutlery. She had to go under the knife to remove the (78!) forks and spoons. (see fotos here) The woman told the doctors: ‘I don’t know why but I felt an urge to eat the silverware – I could not help myself.’ She was somewhat picky however, as she never ate knives.
The images were actually taken over 30 years ago, but they were published for the first time this week in a Dutch medical magazine. Yes the woman was Dutch. At least according to the Daily Mail…….

However, the actual story published as a case in Medisch Contact is somewhat different.They actually state below the article:

Mededeling redactie

Over deze casus is in de populaire media foutieve berichtgeving gaande. De in andere media opgevoerde ‘mw Daalmans’ heeft niets te maken met deze casus. Het betreft, in tegenstelling tot wat elders wordt beweerd ook geen casus van 30 jaar geleden.

Which means something like: in contrary to what has been stated by the popular press this case has nothing to do with Mrs Daalmans, nor did it happen 30 years ago.
In effect, the Daily Mail mentions both (?) Rotterdam and Sittard as towns where this should have taken place, but in Medisch Contact only Helmond was mentioned. The towns are far apart.

One wonders why, because the story is extraordinary enough.

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1223563/The-woman-knife--swallowing-entire-canteen-cutlery.html
Twitter: http://twitter.com/drves/status/5403151285
Medisch Contact: http://medischcontact.artsennet.nl/blad/Tijdschriftartikel/Bestek-in-de-maag.htm

[3] An obese man died after refusing an X-ray taken in a machine for zoo animals because he was too large for the hospital’s X-ray machine, the maximum capacity of most hospital machines being around 200 kilo. Later his wife told that the man felt too humiliated to go to the zoo.

The Local (Germany news in English, Bild.de.) http://www.thelocal.de/society/20091103-22993.html

[4] Todays Friday Funny post of dr. Val at Better Health is Joyful Radiology or Merry X-Ray

engrish-funny-merry-xray

Better Health: http://getbetterhealth.com/the-friday-funny-joyful-radiology/2009.11.06

[5] A special X-Ray: CAT-scan

4076270034_aa19e6dd2b cat-scan

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinkearney/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

[6] When both your arm and the X-ray are broken:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomicCyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Ooh, I wonder whether the great number of X-ray related posts has something to do with the upcoming overlooked holiday: X-ray day (November 8th).

Can someone put the light off?

Articles by Zemanta

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]




Blue Ribbon Blog Rally for Free Speech Online; een Blauw Lint voor Vrijheid van Meningsuiting

26 04 2009

I have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafiblackribbonsign

Thanks to T at Notes of an Anesthesioboist for getting this going, a group of bloggers is holding a blog rally in support of Roxana Saberi, who is spending her birthday on a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has been incarcerated for espionage. According to NPR, “The Iranian Political Prisoners Association lists hundreds of people whose names you would be even less likely to recognize: students, bloggers, dissidents, and others who, in a society that lacks a free press, dare to practice free expression.” blackribbonsign-2

Hearing reports like these has prompted us to do a ribbon campaign. Blue for blogging.

Please consider placing a blue ribbon on your blog or website this week in honor of the journalists, bloggers, students, and writers who are imprisoned in Evin Prison, nicknamed “Evin University”, and other prisons around the world, for speaking and writing down their thoughts. Also, please ask others to join our blog rally.

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

————————-

Text is from Notes of an Anesthesioboist and Paul Levy of Running a hospital

*********************************************************************

nl vlag NL flagI have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

T van Notes of an Anesthesioboist heeft ander bloggers opgeroepen om deze week een blauw lint op hun blog te plaatsen. Blauw staat voor bloggen, vrijheid van bloggen wel te verstaan.

De aanleiding is dat de Amerikaans-Iraanse journaliste Roxana Saberi, die beschuldigd wordt van spionage en vastzit in Iran, vandaag haar “verjaardag viert” in een Teheraanse Gevangenis, alwaar ze in hongerstaking is gegaan.blackribbonsign-2

In de Iraanse gevangenis zitten honderden, veel minder bekende mensen gevangen: studenten, bloggers, dissidenten, en anderen die hun vrije mening durfden te uiten in een land dat geen vrije pers toestaat.

In navolging van T wil ik u daarom ook vragen om deze week ook een blauw lint op uw blog of website te plaatsen om alle journalisten, bloggers, studenten, en schrijvers te ondersteunen die gevangen zitten in de Evin gevangenis, ook wel “Evin Universiteit” genoemd, of waar dan ook ter wereld voor het vrij uiten van hun gedachten.

Wilt u ook anderen vragen om aan deze blogrally mee te doen?

Jacqueline.





Reference Management Software, Shut Down of 5 Google Apps and a Plane that Crashed.

18 01 2009

Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed. What have they in common? Nothing, except that these three unrelated subjects all reached me via Twitter last Thursday eve.

[1] When I checked my Tweetdeck (a twitter client) I saw a huge number of tweets (twitter messages) about the crash of a plain in the Hudson river. It now appears that Twitter and Flickr broke the news 15 minutes before the mainstream media. Below is the first crash picture which was posted on Twitter from an iPhone, taken by Janis Krums from a ferry. Earlier (Twitter as a modern tam tam) I gave some other examples of Twitter as a breaking news platform.

jkrums-plaatje-voor-blog

[2] Twitter is also a useful tool for up to date information and exchange of thoughts. For instance some tweeple (people on Twitter) had been asking about free reference management software. I had retweeted (RT, resend) the message and Thursday eve DrShock (of Dr Shock MD, PhD) tweeted a very useful link to Wikipedia which compared all reference management software, which was retweeted to the Twitter community.

The wikipedia article gives a comprehensive overview of the following software: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero.

The following tables are included: the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions.

Very useful (although not always accurate). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

wiki-ref-man-system

[3] @Symtym (of the blog Symtym) had just learned me how to use Google Notebook to clip and collect information as you surf the web, organize the notes in notebooks and publish the public notes automatically to twitter via twitterfeed. I found it real handy and gathered some material to write a post about it.

But then came the news, brought to me by @Dymphie (of Deetjes (Dutch)), that Google decided to close many services, including Notebook as well as Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball) or as ReadWriteWeb says it: “Google Giveth, and Taketh Away”. (see announcement on the Google Operating System blog).

google-stopt-met-aantal-zaken1

Although Google Notebook itself will remain, the active development will be stopped. Of course this was shocking for many faithful users, including me, Dr. Shock and many others (see comments here)

wtf-gn-is-going-down-shock

What are the alternatives? Soon @DrCris, author of several blogs including Applequack, tweeted on a solution soon to come: “Evernote is working on a Google notebook importer“. I heard great things about Evernote, many doctors seem to use it, so I might as well give it a try.

evernote-google-nb-importer

Diigo is also planning to make a GN importer (see here). Presumably other tools will follow soon.

Note added:

Two articles in Lifehacker give tips [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” and [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Thanks Dr.Shock.)

——————-

nl vlag NL flag“Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed”. Wat heeft dit met elkaar te maken? Niets eigenlijk, behalve dat ik donderdagavond hiervan via twitter op de hoogte gesteld werd.

[1] Eerder gaf ik al voorbeelden dat twitter als een moderne tam tam werkt en vaak een primeur heeft. Donderdag was dat ook het geval. De eerste berichten van het neerstorten van een vliegtuig in de Hudson rivier kwamen via twitter binnen.

[2] Twitter is ook nuttig om informatie te delen. Deze week vroegen mensen naar gratis reference manager software. Ik twitterde dat door (RT of retweet) en donderdag kwam @DrShock (van Dr Shock MD, PhD) met een erg nuttige link naar een artikel in wikipedia. Vervolgens werd door ‘retweeten’ een groot aantal volgers op de hoogte gesteld

In het artikel wordt de volgende software vergeleken: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero met betrekking tot de volgende punten: “the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions”.

Heel erg nuttig en overzichtelijk (in tabelvorm met kleurtjes). Zie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

[3] Van @Symtym (blog: symtym) had ik juist geleerd hoe ik Google Notebook kon gebruiken om teksten al surfende op het net te knippen, bewaren en verzamelen in kladbloks en vervolgens te publiceren op twitter via twitterfeed (berichten automatisch ingekort tot 140 lettertekens). Ik vond het ontzettend handig. Het is een ideale manier om snel informatie te organiseren om later te bekijken, om er een stukje over te schrijven en/of om direct met anderen te delen.

Maar toen kwam als donderslag bij heldere hemel het nieuws via @Dymphie (van Deetjes) tot mij dat uit verschillende Google applicaties de stekker zou worden getrokken. Ook uit Google Notebook. En daarnaast Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball).

Google Notebook zelf zal nog wel even blijven, maar de ontwikkeling zal worden stopgezet. Natuurlijk is dit nogal een schok voor trouwe gebruikers. Eerst worden mensen geenthousiasmeerd om een nieuwe tool te gebruiken en vervolgens wordt deze hen weer ontnomen

Gelukkig twitterde @DrCris, auteur van o.a. Applequack, vrijwel direct dat Evernote werkt aan een Google notebook importeerfunctie. Ik heb erge goede dingen gehoord van Evernote en veel artsen gebruiken het, dus ik ga dat ook maar eens proberen. Diigo is ook bezig met het ontwikkelen van een GN importeerfunctie (zie hier). Waarschijnlijk zal dit wel navolging krijgen. Toch blijft het vervelend om steeds maar van tool te moeten veranderen. Maar misschien moet je dat op de koop toenemen bij gratis applicaties.

Achteraf toegevoegd

Twee artikelen in ‘Lifehacker’ gaan over dit laatste punt [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” en [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Met dank aan Dr.Shock.)





Yet Another Negative Trial with Vitamins in Prostate Cancer: Vitamins C and E.

15 12 2008

Within a week after the large SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention) Trial was halted due to disappointing results (see previous posts: [1] and [2]), the negative results of yet another large vitamin trial were announced [7].
Again, no benefits were found from either vitamin C or E when it came to preventing prostate ànd other cancers.
Both trials are now prepublished in JAMA. The full text articles and the accompanying editorial are freely available [3, 4, 5].

In The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial (PHS II), researchers tested the impact of regular vitamin E and C supplements on cancer rates among 14,641 male physicians over 50: 7641 men from the PHS I study and 7000 new physicians.

The man were randomly assigned to receive vitamin E, vitamin C, or a placebo. Besides vitamin C or E, beta carotene and/or multivitamins were also tested, but beta carotene was terminated on schedule in 2003 and the multivitamin component is continuing at the recommendation of the data and safety monitoring committee.

Similar to the SELECT trial this RCT had a factorial (2×2) design with respect to the vitamins E and C [1]: randomization yielded 4 nearly equal-sized groups receiving:

  • 400-IU synthetic {alpha}-tocopherol (vitamin E), every other day and placebo (similar to the SELECT trial)
  • 500-mg synthetic ascorbic acid (vitamin C), daily and placebo
  • both active agents
  • both placebos.

Over 8 years, taking vitamin E had no impact at all on rates of either prostate cancer (the primary outcome for vitamin E), or cancer in general. Vitamin C had no significant effect on total cancer (primary outcome for vitamin C) and prostate cancer. Neither was there an effect of vitamin E and/or C on other site-specific cancers.

How can the negative results be explained in the light of the positive results of earlier trials?

  • The conditions may differ from the positive trials:
    • The earlier positive trials had less methodological rigor. These were either observational studies or prostate cancer was not their primary outcome (and may therefore be due to chance). (See previous post The best study design for dummies).
    • Clinical data suggest that the positive effect of vitamin E observed in earlier trials was limited to smokers and/or people with low basal levels of vitamin E, whereas animal models suggest that vitamin E is efficacious against high fat-promoted prostate cancer growth (20), but lacks chemopreventive effects (i.e. see [1,4] and references in [5], a preclinical study we published in 2006).
      Indeed, there were very low levels of smoking in the PHS II study and the effect of the vitamins was mainly assessed on induction not on progression of prostate cancer.
    • Eight times higher vitamin E doses (400IE) have been used than in the ATCB study showing a benefit for vitamin E in decreasing prostate cancer risk! [1,4]
  • Other forms of vitamin E and selenium have been proposed to be more effective.
  • As Gann noted in the JAMA-editorial, the men in both recent studies were highly motivated and had good access to care. In SELECT, the majority of men were tested for PSA each year. Probably because of this intense surveillance, the mean PSA at diagnosis was low and prostate cancers were detected in an early, curable stage. Strikingly, there was only 1 death from prostate cancer in SELECT, whereas appr. 75-100 deaths were expected. There also were indications of a deficit in advanced prostate cancer in PHS II, although a much smaller one.
    In other words (Gann):
    “how can an agent be shown to prevent serious, clinically significant prostate cancers when PSA testing may be rapidly removing those cancers from the population at risk before they progress?”
  • Similarly, in the SELECT trial there was no constraint on the use of other multivitamins and both studies put no restriction on the diet. Indeed the group of physicians who participated in the PHS II trial were healthier overall and ate a more nutritious diet. Therefore Dr Shao wondered
    “Do we really have a placebo group – people with zero exposure? None of these physicians had zero vitamin C and E” [7]. In the Netherlands we were not even able to perform a small phase II trial with certain nutrients for the simple reason that most people already took them.

What can we learn from these negative trials (the SELECT trial and this PHS II-trial)?

  • Previous positive results were probably due to chance. In the future a better preselection of compounds and doses in Phase 2 trials should determine which few interventions make it through the pipeline (Gann, Schroder).
  • Many other trials disprove the health benefits of high dose vitamins and some single vitamins may even increase risks for specific cancers, heart disease or mortality [9]. In addition vitamin C has recently been shown to interfere with cancer treatment [10].
  • The trials make it highly unlikely that vitamins prevent the development of prostate cancer (or other cancers) when given as a single nutrient intervention. Instead, as Dr Sasso puts it “At the end of the day this serves as a reminder that we should get back to basics: keeping your body weight in check, being physically active, not smoking and following a good diet.”
  • Single vitamins or high dose vitamins/antioxidants should not be advised to prevent prostate cancer (or any other cancer). Still it is very difficult to convince people not taking supplements.
  • Another issue is that all kind of pharmaceutical companies keep on pushing the sales of these “natural products”, selectively referring to positive results only. It is about time to regulate this.

1937004448_dfcf7d149f-vitamines-op-een-bordje1

Sources & other reading (click on grey)

  1. Huge disappointment: Selenium and Vitamin E fail to Prevent Prostate Cancer.(post on this blog about the SELECT trial)
  2. Podcasts: Cochrane Library and MedlinePlus: (post on this blog)
  3. Vitamins E and C in the Prevention of Prostate and Total Cancer in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial. J. Michael Gaziano et al JAMA. 2008;0(2008):2008862-11.[free full text]
  4. Effect of Selenium and Vitamin E on Risk of Prostate Cancer and Other Cancers: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Scott M. Lippman, Eric A. Klein et al (SELECT)JAMA. 2008;0(2008):2008864-13 [free full text].
  5. Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplementation for Cancer Prevention: First Bias, Now Chance-Next, Cause. Peter H. Gann JAMA. 2008;0(2008):2008863-2 [free full text].
  6. Combined lycopene and vitamin E treatment suppresses the growth of PC-346C human prostate cancer cells in nude mice. Limpens J, Schröder FH, et al. J Nutr. 2006 May;136(5):1287-93 [free full text].

    News
  7. The New York Times (2008/11/19) Study: Vitamins E and C Fail to Prevent Cancer in Men.
  8. BBC news: (2008/12/10) Vitamins ‘do not cut cancer risk’.
  9. The New York Times (2008/11/20) News keeps getting worse for vitamins.
  10. The New York Times (2008/10/01) Vitamin C may interfere with cancer treatment.








Huge disappointment: Selenium and Vitamin E fail to Prevent Prostate Cancer.

16 11 2008

select

October 27th the news was released that ([see here for entire announcement from nih.gov]

“an initial, independent review of study data from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other institutes that comprise the National Institutes of Health shows that selenium and vitamin E supplements, taken either alone or together, did not prevent prostate cancer. The data also showed two concerning trends: a small but not statistically significant increase in the number of prostate cancer cases among the over 35,000 men age 50 and older in the trial taking only vitamin E and a small, but not statistically significant increase in the number of cases of adult onset diabetes in men taking only selenium. Because this is an early analysis of the data from the study, neither of these findings proves an increased risk from the supplements and both may be due to chance.”

SELECT is the second large-scale study of chemoprevention for prostate cancer. Chemoprevention or chemoprophylaxis refers to the administration of a medication to prevent disease. The SELECT trial aimed to determine whether dietary supplementation with selenium and/or vitamin E could reduce the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men. It is a randomized, prospective, double-blind study with a 2×2 factorial design, which means that the volunteering men received either one of the supplements, b2x2-select-vierkantoth supplements or no supplements (but placebo instead), without knowing which treatment they would receive.
The trial volunteers were randomly assigned to one the following treatments:

  1. 200 µg of selenium and 400 IU of vitamin E per day. (both supplements)
  2. 200 µg of selenium per day and placebo
  3. 400 IU of vitamin E per day and placebo
  4. two different placebo’s (neither supplement)
    (µg = micrograms, IU = International Units)

Enrollment for the trial began in 2001 and ended in 2004. Supplements were to be taken for a minimum of 7 years and a maximum of 12 years. Therefore the final results were anticipated in 2013. However, but due to the negative preliminary results, SELECT participants still in the trial are now being told to stop taking the pills. The participants will continue to have their health monitored by study staff for about three more years, continue to respond to the study questionnaires, and will provide a blood sample at their five-year anniversary of joining the trial, to ensure their health and to allow a complete analysis of the study. (see SELECT Q & A).

In an interview with CBS, one of the investigators Dr Katz, said he was highly disappointed and concerned, because he had high hopes for the trial. “I”m disappointed with the study. I’m very concerned about the results of the trial.

more about “Vitamin E A Flop In Prostate Cancer T…“, (with 15 sec advertisement first) posted with vodpod. This video is derived from CBS news.

Dr. Klein, one of the principal investigators, has published as many as 14 publications on the SELECT trial (see PubMed). He has always been a strong advocate of this huge trial.

The question now is:
Was there enough evidence to support such a large trial? Could this result have been foreseen? Would the trial have had different outcomes if other conditions had been chosen?

The SELECT trial seems to add to the ever growing list of disappointing “preventive” vitamin trials. See for instance this blogpost of sandnsurf on “a systematic review of all the published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on multivitamins and antioxidant supplements in various diseases, and their effect on overall mortality” concluding:

“Taking the antioxidant vitamins A (and its precursor beta-carotene) and E singly or in multivitamins is dangerous and should be avoided by people eating a healthy diet. On a diet like that recommended here, the intake of these and other important vitamins should be high, with no need for supplementation.”

Quite coincidentally I commented to Sandsnurf blogpost referring to the SELECT trial, 1 week before the bad outcome was announced):

Indeed, in many RCT’s vitamin supplements didn’t have the beneficial effects that they were supposed to have. Already in the early nineties, adverse effects of beta-carotene (higher mortality in smokers) have been shown in several RCT’s. Still, because vitamin E had an expected positive effect on prostate cancer in one such trial, vitamin E is now being tested together with selenium (2X2) in a very large prostate cancer trial. Quite disturbingly, 8 times higher doses vitamin E are being used (400IE) compared to the original study. If the Lawson study is right, the outcome might be harmful. Worrying.

It might be argued that it is easy to criticize a study once the outcome is known. However, this critique is not new.

Already in 2002 a very good critique was written by MA Moyad in Urology entitled: Selenium and vitamin E supplements for prostate cancer: evidence or embellishment?

Here I will summarize the most important arguments against this particular trial (largely based on the Moyad paper)

  • SELECT was based on numerous laboratory and observational studies supporting the use of these supplements. As discussed previously such study designs don’t provide the best evidence.
  • The incidence, or rate of occurrence, of prostate cancer was not the primary focus or endpoint of the few randomized controlled trials studies on which the SELECT study was based.
  • A 2×2 design is inadequate for dose-response evaluations, in other words: before you start the trial, you have to be pretty sure about the optimal dose of each supplement and of the interactive effect of vitamin E and selenium in the particular doses used. The interaction between two agents might be synergistic or additive, also with respect to any negative (i.e. pro-oxidant) effect.
  • Eight times higher vitamin E doses (400IE) have been used than in the ATCB study showing a benefit for vitamin E in decreasing prostate cancer risk! This is remarkable, given the fact that high doses of anti-oxidants can be harmful. Indeed, a prospective study has shown, that vitamin E supplements in higher doses (> or =100 IU) are associated with a higher risk of aggressive or fatal prostate cancer in nonsmokers.
  • Other forms of vitamin E and selenium have been proposed to be more effective. For instance dietary vitamin E (gamma tocopherol and/or gamma tocotrienols) might be more effective in lowering prostate cancer risk than the chemically-derived vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol acetate) used in SELECT. Also the used selenomethionine might be less effective than organically-bound selenium.
  • Selenium and vitamin E supplements seem to provide a benefit only for those individuals who have lower baseline plasma levels of selenium or vitamin E.
  • There may be other compounds that may be more effective, like finasteride, lycopene, statins (or with respect to food: a healthy lifestyle)

Katz said. “I would have hoped this would have been the way to prevent cancer in this country.”

Isn’t it a little bit naive to expect such huge effects (25% less prostate cancers) just by taking 2 supplements, given the thoughts summarized above?

In the interview, shown in the CBS-interview LaPook concludes “This is a major disappointment, but it is also progress. Because it’s also important to know what does not prevent cancer.”

Well I wonder whether it is ethical ànd scientifically valid, to do such a costly experiment with 35.000 healthy volunteers, based on such little evidence. Do we have to test each single possibly effective food ingredient as a single intervention?

SOURCES:
Official publications and information

- EA Klein: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12756490
- Lippman SM, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Jan 19;97(2):94-102. Designing the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). (PubMed record)
- new2.gif The results of the SELECT trial are published in JAMA: Effect of Selenium and Vitamin E on Risk of Prostate Cancer and Other Cancers: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Scott M. Lippman, Eric A. Klein et al SELECT)JAMA. 2008;0(2008):2008864-13, published online December 9th 2008.

- SELECT Q&A: www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/SELECTQandA
- General information on SELECT http://www.crab.org/select/
- Information on Study design (from Cancer Gov.clinical trialsSWOG s0000) and from clinicaltrials.gov

- More information on study designs and the ATCB trial (on which this study was based) in a previous post: the best study design for dummies

NEWS
- CBS Evening News Exclusive: Vitamin E And Selenium Fail To Prevent The Disease In Large Clinical Trial, NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2008
- Los Angelos Times; Vitamin E, selenium fail to prevent prostate
- Emaxhealth: NCI stops prostate cancer prevention trial. With many good links to further information





Nature science blogging conference

30 08 2008

There is official forum for Science Blogging in London, today. The event is organized by Nature Networks.

You can find the program and the attendees here.

AJCann of Science of the Invisible has summarized in this post how you can virtually follow this conference.

At this moment (saturday 11.45 am) you can follow the forum live here

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge

———————————-

Vandaag is er een conferentie voor ‘wetenschapsbloggers’ in Londen.

het wordt georganiseerd door Nature Networks

Hier kunt u het programma bekijken.

Op dit moment (zaterdag 11.45 uur) kunt u het programma hier live volgen.

AJCann van Science of the Invisible heeft hier samengevat hoe u deze conferentie kunt volgen.

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge





New OvidSP-release, Version 2 – Part I

21 08 2008

Thursday August 14th, the new OVID-release went live.

It seems that the release comes in two phases, the first focusing on workflow improvement and the second on new features (My Projects, a workspace area for saving and managing files, and Ovid Universal SearchTM, a cross-platform search) (see OVID-SP latest news ; OVID-SP-screenshots and blogpost of Michelle Kraft; follow this link to register for a webex course).

The following changes have now been implemented: (Note that I avoid the word ‘enhancements’, because I’ developed an allergy against the recent abuse of this term, although in this particular case “enhancement” may be justified)

* A new Multi-Field Search tab.
Makes me think of advanced search beta in PubMed, or searching in the Cochrane Library, just as it reminds Michelle Kraft of EBSCO-searching. Like Michelle says, this tab basically allows you to easily search for multiple things within multiple fields all at one time. Perhaps useful for the beginner, but not of much use to the advanced searcher, who knows the field codes by head.

* New and Improved User Workflow Tools

  1. Collapsible Search Aid box
  2. Results Manager is collapsible and available above and below the main search box
  3. Ability to move the Search History above the main search box, sort searches in ascending or descending order, and identify each search by search type
  4. Customize common limits on the main search page
  5. Ability to create, edit, and add multiple annotations to a citation
  6. Browse Books and Browse Journals links are now on the Select a Database page
  7. Browser support for adjusting font size
  8. When logged into their personal accounts, users will see their name and institution.

To begin with the last point, I was unpleasantly surprised that I had to fill in a whole list of details (name, address, institution) when I assessed one of my saved searches. With the emphasis on one. I’ve literally a few dozens of accounts, at least one for each patron. Should I fill in the patron’s name or mine?…each time? Dee (on twitter) said she just filled in 0 in most boxes. You can also press the back button.
OVID apparently requires this personally identifiable information for My Projects so you can create a community to collaborate with others later on.

But what an improvements! :) This is really what I had hoped for (see this post on the new OVID SP; and a previous one about Ovid causing RSI). ‘All’ boxes collapsible, and movable… Although I first didn’t succeed in moving the Search History, but via the OVID-SP-screenshots I found out that it was just a little grey square you had to press (with a pop-up if you move your mouse over it, see figure above). No more endless scrolling, no more pain in my wrists after a whole day searching. Almost, almost ideal… If..If …the Search Tip wasn’t so prominent. :( As I said before, the Tip (that never gave me any useful information) fills 1/3 of the search screen. Because of this, the unnecessary addition of the field “Search Type” and the broad columns, the search history itself comprises less than 1/4th of the screen. Thus it is difficult to keep a good overview over large searches (see for instance the screenshot and the video below )

Compare the “usual view”

with the search in “print” format

And see the original search in this ultrashort video:

I’m not the only one that dislikes the Tipbox. According to a recently finished survey on the original OvidSP-version redesign earlier this year the number one thing people wanted to change was to remove or hide the Ovid Tips (see PDF of Danielle Worster’s and Debbie Pledge’s poster here). Overall one of the main concerns was the usage of screen space by the new design including features- including the Tips on the right hand side and the new placement of Results Manager.

But, as Danielle points out at her (shared) blog The healthinformaticist, the response was quite heterogenous, what was “annoying” to one person was “fine” to another! And vice versa!

With Danielle I wonder how the recent changes will be perceived. Will the people who complained about the new interface be pleased with the new arrangements? And what about the people that just thought it was fine? And those who’s main frustration was the adaptation to the new interface? One librarian sighed at the MEDLIB-list: “what is the credibitiy of the library in promoting the 3rd Ovid advanced search version in less than a year over the relatively consistent PubMed interface?” It is interesting how perceptions can differ. Personally I find it much harder to explain why functionalities (like ATM!) change radically while the interface looks the same (and are therefore not noticed).

Isn’t it most important that adaptations represent (1) improvements, (2) preferably easy to understand? Of course there is a limit to the number of substantial changes and their frequency. We know that the second update of OvidSP version 2 lies ahead and I sure wish that it will be soon followed by a third one that brings us an optional TIP-box. I don’t hope that the suggestion raised at Danielle’s blog, that “the Tip-box was created for advertising (commercials?) to recover the cost of all these (unnecessary) changes” is true.
More basic changes concerning Reference Manager as discussed by Krafty are also welcomed, at least by me.

——————–

Afgelopen week, op donderdag 14 augustus, “ging de nieuwe OVID release in de lucht”.
De release gaat in 2 stappen. Deze eerste stap dient om het zoekproces te versoepelen, bij de 2e komen er nieuwe functionaliteiten bij (My Projects en Ovid Universal SearchTM) (zie OVID-SP nieuws ; OVID-SP-screenshots, blogpost van Michelle Kraft; en volg evt. deze link om u op te geven voor een webex instructie).

Dit zijn in grote lijnen de veranderingen:

* Multi-Field Search tab.
Een manier om tegelijk op verschillende termen in verschillende velden te zoeken. Misschien handig voor de beginner, maar voor een gevorderde die de commando’s kent werkt advanced search veel sneller.

* Nieuwe Tools

  1. Inklapbare Search Aid (nooit gebruikt)
  2. Results Manager inklapbaar; zowel boven als onder het zoekvak aanwezig.
  3. Zoekgeschiedenis verplaatsbaar, sorteren in op- of aflopende volgorde. Elk zoektype aangeduid.
  4. Algemene limieten op de hoofdpagina zijn aangepast .
  5. Mogelijkheid tot het maken van notitities bij een record.
  6. Browse Books and Browse Journals links zijn nu aanwezig op de “Select a Database” pagina.
  7. Grootte van het lettertype kan aangepast
  8. Na inloggen (op persoonlijk account) verschijnt naam en instituut.

Om met dat laatste te beginnen, ik werd nogal onaangenaam verrast dat ik een hele waslijst met gegevens moest invullen (naam, adres instituut, titel, beroep etc) toen ik één van mijn opgeslagen searches wilde openen. Met de nadruk op één. Ik heb namelijk tientallen accounts, tenminste 1 voor elke klant. Moet ik mijn of zijn/haar naam invullen? Elke keer opnieuw? Dee (op twitter) zei dat ze gewoon 0 in alle vakjes invulde. Je kunt ook ‘n pagina terug gaan in je browser.
OVID heeft kennelijk deze persoonlijke gegevens nodig voor ‘My Projects’ zodat je later een eigen samenwerkingsgroep kunt creeeren.

Maar wat een verbetering zeg, deze versie, geweldig! :) Hier had ik aan het begin van het jaar niet op durven hopen (zie bijv. dit bericht over OVID en RSI). Bijna alle vakjes inklapbaar, of verplaatsbaar… Hoewel het wel even duurde voordat ik door had hoe je de Zoekgeschiedenis nu kon verplaatsen (niet dat ik dat wilde, maar om ff te checku)… maar de OVID-SP-screenshots brachten uitkomst: je moest gewoon op een klein grijs blokje rechtsboven klikken (zie Figuur hierboven). De toelichting verschijnt als je er met de muis overgaat, maar dat moet je maar net weten.
Geen eindeloos gescroll meer, geen pijn meer in mijn polsen na een-hele-dag-Ovid-zoeken. Haast ideaal, ware het niet … dat de zoektip nog steeds zo prominent in beeld staat. Zoals ik al eerder heb gezegd neemt de (voor mij nutteloze) TIP 1/3 van het zoekscherm in horizontale richting in beslag. Daarnaast is in de zoekgeschiedenis ook nog een extra kolom toegevoegd (zoektype) en zijn veel kolommen onnodig breed. Resultaat: zoekactie wordt gecomprimeerd tot 1/4e van het scherm. Het is dan moeilijk om overzicht te behouden, het leest naar en je moet alsnog scrollen (zie fig en video hierboven).

Gelukkig sta ik niet alleen. Uit een recent onderzoek naar de tevredenheid van ervaren informatiespecialisten over de OvidSP-makeover begin dit jaar, bleek dat het verwijderen of verbergen van de OvidSP Tip met stip op nummer 1 van het wensenlijstje stond (zie hier voor poster van Danielle Worster en Debbie Pledge). In het algemeen was de ruimte-inname door het nieuwe design een veelgehoorde klacht.

Maar zoals Danielle op haar (gedeelde) blog The healthinformaticist vermeld, was de respons nogal uiteenlopend. Wat de een vervelend vond, vond de andere wel best!

Ik ben, met Danielle, benieuwd hoe men tegen de huidige veranderingen aankijkt. Zullen de mensen die klaagden over de nieuwe interface nu wel tevreden zijn? En de mensen die het allemaal juist prima vonden? Of diegenen wier grootste frustatie het steeds weer wennen aan de nieuwe interface was? Een informatiespecialist verzuchtte hoe je als bibliotheek nog geloofwaardig kunt zijn als je in minder dan een jaar 3x een nieuwe Ovid advanced search moet promoten terwijl PubMed redelijk hetzelfde blijft” Grappig hoe verschillend mensen tegen iets aan kunnen kijken. Zelf vind ik het veel moeilijker uit te leggen waarom een ogenschijnlijk identiek Pubmed achter de schermen toch de zoekactie anders uitvoert (ATM).

Is het niet het belangrijkste dat de veranderingen die doorgevoerd worden ook verbeteringen zijn en niet te moeilijk op te pakken? Natuurlijk is er een grens aan hoe veel en hoe vaak je een interface verandert. We weten dat er een 2e update van OvidSP version 2 in het verschiet ligt en ik mag hopen dat de 3e ons een optionele OvidSP-TIP brengt. Meer fundamentele veranderingen bijv. voor wat betreft Reference Manager (zoals gesuggereerd door Krafty zijn ook zeer welkom, zeker wat mij betreft.





1st Dutch Grand Round expected soon

16 08 2008

Jan Martens has announced the start of the Dutch version of the grand rounds on his blog. You can submit your articles online. The deadline is August 24th and the first publication is due August 26th.

This first issue wil be published at the blog of Dr Shock MD PhD.

From Dr. Shock's website

From Dr. Shock's Website

On October 21th it will be my turn to host the Grand Round.

See: Previous post on this subject (Dutch Grand Round?) here.

This was the good news. The bad news is that Jan Martens also announced to discontinue the MedBlogNL top 25 and MedBlogEN top 100, at least for a while (see posts 1 and 2). Hopefully there will come a solution for this, at least for the MedBlogNL top 25, which has no real equivalent.

—————————————————-

Jan Martens heeft op zijn blog nu officieel aangekondigd dat binnenkort de Nederlandse “grote visite” van start gaat. U kunt nu alvast artikelen opgeven voor de ronde. De deadline is 24 augustus. Streven is de eerste ronde op 26 augustus te publiceren.

Deze 1ste grote visite wordt gepubliceerd op het blog van Dr Shock.

21 Oktober is het mijn beurt om gastvrouw te spelen.

Zie: eerder bericht over dit onderwerp (Dutch grand Round?) hier.

Dit was het goede nieuws. Het slechte nieuws is dat Jan Martens zich genoodzaakt ziet om, in ieder geval voorlopig, met de MedBlogNL top 25 en de MedBlogEN top 100, te stoppen (zie berichten 1 and 2). Hopelijk wordt hier wat op gevonden, want het zou toch zonde zijn als de MedBlogNL top 25 zou ophouden te bestaan. Het is echt de enige in zijn soort…





The Real Sputnik Virus

15 08 2008

I just rewrote the “about” section, saying that this blog was started as part of the web 2.0 SPOETNIK (EN: Sputnik) course, that I saw this blog as an experiment, but that I am now irreversibly infected by the blog/Sputnikvirus.

Coincidentally a real Sputnik virus has been discovered.¹ The virus is called Sputnik (Russian for “travelling companion”), because it “accompanies” the mamavirus, the big ‘mama’ among the recently discovered giant mimiviruses. Both the mamavirus and its satellite were present in an amoeba-species, found in a water cooling tower. Strikingly Sputnik cannot infect the amoeba on its own, but needs the companion of a mimivirus. In fact Sputnik hijackes the ‘viral factory’ of the mimivirus in order to replicate, making the mimivirus less infective. Therefore the Sputnik virus is said to actually “infect” another virus

Wait a minute…!! A virus that ‘lives’ from an other virus and takes over his replicating machinery? This means that the virus that is being ‘infected’ (the mamavirus) is a living organism??? But viruses are ‘dead’, at least that is what I learned.

Definition of a virus in one of my studybooks (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Thus ‘per definition’ viruses are not alive ànd they do not infect other viruses?!

But what is in a definition/name?
According to Aristotle a definition of an object must include its essential attributes or its “essential nature”. However humans may only observe part of the essential attributes, especially when it concerns the infinitely small or infinitely large (which limitates the accuracy of our observations). Nature made his own definitions/categorizations and we just trying to find the rules, if any, to bring some order into chaos. But in science rules and concepts can be falsified and this rule may be one of them.

That viruses may be at the boundaries of life is no new discussion. According to wikipedia:

Biologists debate whether or not viruses are living organisms. Some consider them non-living as they do not meet all the criteria used in the common definitions of life. For example, unlike most organisms, viruses do not have cells. However, viruses have genes and evolve by natural selection. Others have described them as organisms at the edge of life.

As you can see from the scheme above (from wikipedia) the classification of living organisms has never been rigid and as time goes more ‘kingdoms’ have been discovered.

The Mimivirus seems to be at “the edge of life”, because it

Besides the what-is-a-living-organism-issue the discovery of the Mimi-Sputnik virus couple raises some other interesting points.

  • The paradigm that viruses are evolutionary latecomers, evolving as parasites after the archaea, bacteria and eukaria had formed is challenged by comparative genome-analysis which suggests that the virus world is the most ancient.
  • There is an abundance of Mimi-like genetic sequences in the (virus-rich) ocean leading to a suspicion that giant viruses are a common parasite of plankton.
  • Sputnik-like DNA is also found in the ocean, raising the possibility that satellite viruses could play a role in regulating the growth and death of (Mimi-infected) plankton. Therefore these marine viruses could be mayor player in the global ecosystem
  • Although Mimiviruses primarily infect amoeba, antibodies have been found to the virus in some human pneumonia cases. If these mimiviruses have their own satellites…. then this might perhaps be therapeutically exploited against large DNA viruses in human.

Finally I would like to close this post with an apt poem of Jonathan Swift (often cited in this context):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

And another coincidence: There is a popgroup sigue-sigue-sputnik that has an number called virus (on the album ray-of-light.)

NOTES
¹The Sputnikvirus has been detected by the team led by Jean-Michel Claverie and Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles), the same team that identified the mimivirus as a virus.
²Some of the finding are not completely new, e.g. Sputnik was not the first virus-satellite: Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus had been discovered before. Some researches don’t regard a satelite virus as a virus, however, but as subviral

SOURCES
La Scola, B et al The virophage as a unique parasite of the giant mimivirus, Nature DOI:10.1038/nature07218; announced in ‘Virophage’ suggests viruses are alive – Nature News, 2008 august 6th
Other news-coverages:
NRC-handelsblad, 2008-08-09 en wetenschapsbijlage 2008-08-10
telegraph.co.uk 2008-08-06
sciencenow daily news 2008-08-06

BACKGROUND INFO and HYPOTHESES
about the sputnikvirus
:
findingdulcinea.com: good starting point for further information about Sputnik and mimiviruses with links to other sources
scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/
the-scientist.com/blog/
about the mimivirus :
a general overview in
http://www.microbiologybytes.com (last update 2007)
and “unintelligent-design at discovermagazine.com/2006

about the origin of viruses and their presence in the sea: again….
Nice overview
Viruses in the sea’ in Nature by Curtis A. Suttle et al(2005)
Hypothesis: The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells by Eugene V Koonin in Biomedcentral (2006) (pdf-open access)
General: Wikipedia, ie about Viruses and Bacteriophages

—————

Ik heb net de “about” pagina herschreven: ik schrijf dat ik dit blog ben gestart in het kader van de web 2.0 SPOETNIK cursus, dat ik dit blog als een experiment zag, maar dat ik inmiddels voor altijd geinfecteerd ben met het blog/Spoetnikvirus.

Toevallig las ik afgelopen zaterdag in het NRC dat er een echt Spoetnik virus is ontdekt.¹ Van de Spoetnikcursus weet ik nog dat Spoetnik in het Russisch metgezel betekent. Het virus kreeg deze naam omdat het zich samen met het mamavirus, het grootste virus onder de reusachtige minivirussen, in een amoebe ophoudt. Opmerkelijk genoeg is het Spoetnik virus helemaal niet in zijn eentje in staat om de amoebe te infecteren, maar heeft jij daarbij de hulp van het mimivirus nodig, in die zin dat Spoetnik de virusfabriekjes van het mimivirus inpikt om zichzelf te vermenigvuldigen. Met andere woorden, het Sputnik virus is in staat een ander virus te infecteren.

Wacht even?!……… Een virus dat een ander virus infecteert en ‘ziek maakt’? Dat betekent dat het virus dat geinfecteerd wordt ‘leeft’. Maar virussen zijn dood, dat heb ik tenminste zo geleerd.

Definitie van een virus in een oud studieboek (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Dus viruses leven per definitie niet en kunnen andere virussen niet infecteren?!

Maar “what is in a definition/name”?
Volgens Aristoteles moet een een definitie van een voorwerp/begrip essentiële elementen of de ware aard omvatten. Maar mensen zien misschien maar een deel van deze kenmerken, vooral als het om oneinig grote of oneindig kleine dingen gaat. De natuur maakt zijn eigen indelingen en wij proberen om wetten te achterhalen, voor zover deze er zijn, om orde in de chaos aan te brengen.
Volgens de regels der wetenschap zijn wetten en concepten echter toetsbaar en falsifieerbaar. Dat virussen levenloos zijn zou dus ook ontkracht kunnen worden.

Het al dan niet ‘levend zijn’ van virussen is geen nieuwe discussie. Sommige biologen zien virussen als niet-levend, omdat ze niet àlle belangrijke kenmerken van leven hebben, ze hebben bijvoorbeeld geen cellen. Virussen hebben echter wel genen en evolueren door natuurlijke selectie waardoor ze volgens anderen wel op het randje van het leven balanceren.

Het Mimivirus lijkt nog het meest op het randje te balanceren. Het

Behalve bovenstaande implicaties voor wat we ‘leven’ noemen, maakt het Mimi-Spoetnik-koppel nog meer discussie los.

  • Op basis van vergelijkend genoomonderzoek lijkt het onwaarschijnlijk dat virusen evolutionaire nakomertjes zijn, maar meer dat ze aan de voet van de archaea, de bacteriën en de eukaryoten hebben gestaan.
  • Er is heel veel Mimi-achtige genmateriaal in de oceanen gevonden, hetgeen zou kunnen betekenen dat reuzevirussen wel eens een algemene parasiet van plankton zouden kunnen zijn.
  • Spoetnik-achtig DNA wordt óók in de oceaan gevonden. Misschien dat satelliet-virussen wel een slutelrol spelen in de regulatie van de hoeveelheid plankton.
  • Hoewel Mimivirusen vooral amoeben infecteren, zijn antistoffen tegen dit virus ook bij enkele patienten met longontsteking gevonden. Als deze mimivirusen hun eigen satellieten hebben, kunnen deze wellicht ingezet worden tegen de ziekteveroorzakende virussen.

Tenslotte een zeer toepasselijk gedicht van Jonathan Swift (veelvuldig in deze kwestie aangehaald):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Nog een toevalligheid Er is een band sigue-sigue-sputnik met een (vrij heftig) nummer virus (album ray-of-light).

NOTES
¹het Spoetnik- en het mimivirus zijn ontdekt door Jean-Michel Claverie en Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles) en zijn team.
²Niet alle bevindingen zijn echt even nieuw. Vòòr Spoetnik waren er al andere virussatellieten ontdekt, zoals de satelliet(virus)van tabaksmozaïekvirus. Door velen wordt zo’n virus niet als ect virus gezien, maar als subviraal beschouwd.





Twitter Traumas: Twitter’s Janus Face

7 08 2008

In a few posts I praised Twitter, the free microblogging service, for its value as a rich source of social contacts, news and ideas. See for instance this post about Twitter as a modern tamtam or this one titled: “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

In the short period I used it (2 months) I also noticed some drawbacks: its frequent down times, for instance. The sudden disappearance of half of my followers, a phenomenon, which appeared to affect half of the Twitter community last week. The vanishing of part of the archive (@Deeboeks). However, last week the situation has come to a head by the banning of some if its most active users. Why? Because these highly following and followed twitterati were apparently suspected as spammers. Without thorough verification, that is. These addicted Twitter-users were greatly inconvenienced.

@davedelaney: “(from his blog) Take my email analogy and consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

@pfanderson: (from her blog) “Now, two important points. First point, earlier this week I stated in this blog that Twitter is my #2 productivity tool. In other words, this is REALLY important for me! Second point, Twitter funkiness (like Second Life funkiness) is not unusual, so at first I did not realize this was anything beyond the typical. (…..) All kinds of alarms went off. I had just been asked to demo Twitter (among other social techs) at an important upcoming meeting. Wait a week? For them to just look at the problem? Ummm, that could be a REAL problem!”

Well, it isn’t bad when spam is banned. Indeed many of the spamming or advertising twitterati are following a huge number of people, but are followed by relatively few. Thus a ratio of 1500:50 sets the alarm bells ringing. But then you must do a second check: of profiles, website links and tweets, of course. A proper check of @davedelaney, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (one of my favorites) @narain (a twitterer I referred to as bringing breaking news about Bomb blasts in Bangalore!!) would have learned that these people intensively use twitter for serious purposes. Quite different from other twitterers that follow a whole crowd, only producing twitter messages like: “want to do X than look at this (= my) website” or all kind of quack. And these twitter-spammers are not banned…

But everybody can make mistakes, as long as you….. right, 3rd problem….. communicate it directly to your customers, preferably before you ban them. And if you faile to do so, … right 4th mistake…. do you best to fix the problem and …..o.k. 5th really unforgivable mistake …. always give yours sincere apologies!!

Nothing of the kind happened and that is really bad. If I could, I would ban @Ev (Twitter’s silent leader who was enjoying wine and pie while some of his most loyal users were panicking, according to @davedelaney‘s description) at least for a while. Without checking, without notification, without responding to his frequent requests for help, and foremost without any apology afterwards!!

As far as I know all accounts are back now, but it has cost these people a lot of precious time and has changed their feelings about twitter as a program.

@davedelaney has a poll at the end of one of his post asking:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% of the responders gives an affirmative answer.

There are some Twitter alternatives, but as Delaney says:

“Of course my main love for Twitter is the Community (…). Without the people there would be no Twitter. I don’t love Twitter, I love the people on Twitter who make it such a vibrant place to be. I don’t love Twitter, I don’t even like Twitter at the moment – I may even hate them.”

Further reading:

On Dave Delaney’s blog (August 3rd) : 5-reasons-why-i-hate-twitter. Very balanced: he also gives 5-6 reasons why he loves Twitter; some alternatives mentioned as well)

An account of the banning adventure :can also be found at the blogpost of @pf anderson: twitter_banning.html and on here slideshow on Flickr

****************************************************************************

Eerder promootte ik Twitter als een microblogging-dienst, omdat het zo’n rijke bron is van sociale contacten, nieuws en ideeen. Zie bijvoorbeeld de berichten: Twitter as a modern tamtam en “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

Maar in de korte periode dat ik het gebruik, ondervond ik ook enkele nadelen. Twitter is bijvoorbeeld herhaaldelijk niet bereikbaar (“down” , “upgrading” of te zeer belast). Vorige week verdween ongeveer de helft van mijn fans (en ik heb er al zoveel), maar “gelukkig” bleek ik niet de enige te zijn. Soms verdwijnt een deel van het archief, bij @Deeboeks bijvoorbeeld: “Al mijn tweets van voor 6 april 2008 zijn uit ‘t archief verdwenen”. Maar vorige week was toch wel de klap op de vuurpijl. Opeens waren de accounts van de meest actieve twitteraars verdwenen. Waarom? Ze werden kennelijk van spammen verdacht en zonder staving verwijderd. Dat bracht behoorlijk wat ongemak met zich mee, daar dit juist mensen zijn die Twitter veel gebruiken en er deels ook afhankelijk van zijn. Voor @pfanderson: is Twitter is haar “#2 productivity tool“. @davedelaney: “zegt het als volgt:

“consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

Natuurlijk is het bannen van spam niet slecht. Als de verhouding following/followers 1500:50 dan moet er wel een belletje gaan rinkelen. Maar dan moet je vervolgens het e.e.a. checken: profiel, evt. website en natuurlijk de aard van de tweets.
@davedelaney
, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (een van mijn favorieten) @narain (die het nieuws over de aanslagen in Bangalore bracht!!) zijn intensieve en serieuze gebruikers. Dat kun je in één opslag zien.

Iedereen kan fouten maken, maar je moet natuurlijk wel goed en tijdig communiceren met je gebruikers, alles doen om de fout te herstellen en vooral achteraf je excuses aanbieden. En dat is allemaal niet gebeurd.

Wat zou ik graag Twitterbaas @Ev (die alleen twitterde dat hij heerlijk genoot van wijn en quiche terwijl zijn klanten in paniek waren en om zijn hulp vroegen) het zelfde lot doen ondergaan: account rucksichtlos verwijderen, niet op de hoogte brengen, niet reageren en niet helpen. En natuurlijk al helemaal geen excuses aanbieden!!

Ik geloof wel dat alle accounts nu weer in orde zijn, maar het heeft deze mensen wel veel ergernis bezorgd en hun gedachten over Twitter veranderd.

@davedelaney heeft zelfs een poll gezet onder zijn Twitterbericht met de vraag:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% van de mensen die hierop gereageerd hebben zegt ja.





New OvidSP version 2.0 postponed

6 08 2008

The new OvidSP version 2.0 scheduled to be launched August 5th and announced on my blog yesterday (see here) is postponed a few days.

According to OvidSP:

“Some last minute adjustments are being carried out at present to ensure the absolute excellence of the platform. Unfortunately this means that the release date has been postponed with no new date available yet.”

As a result, my training schedule on August 8th will be cancelled (so that’s how I found out). It is advised to register for any training session on “what’s new in OvidSP” (click here) once the release date is announced.

Thus we have to wait a few days for the much-desired new OvidSP version.
That’s regretful, because my coming days are fully planned with OVID searches and I’m really looking forward to this new flexible platform…. But changes are on their way… And I’m looking forward to them

——–

In mijn vorige bericht kondigde ik aan dat de nieuwe OvidSP versie 2.0 gisteren in de lucht zou zijn, maar deze deadline is kennelijk niet gehaald. Er moet toch nog het e.e.a. aan versie 2.0 gesleuteld worden, voordat deze perfect werkt.

Ook de trainingssessies zijn tot nader order uitgesteld. Aangeraden wordt om je pas op te geven als OvidSP werkelijk draait.

Ik vind het jammer, want ik keek er echt naar uit. Juist nu, want de komende dagen zijn gevuld met lange OVID searches (voor systematische reviews en een richtlijn). Maar, ja, wat in het vat zit verzuurt niet…





New OvidSP release (planned August 5th 2008) will allow more flexible searching

5 08 2008

Update 2010-08-14: I see many people going to this post because of recent changes to OVID SP. This post is NOT about the 2010 changes. Thus I added 2008 in the title.

I wrote before (see here) that ‘OVID-SP gave me RSI’, because I had to scroll too much between last search and new command. A huge TIP-box is in the way and the last search and command bar are too far apart.

Friday, I finally decided to write to OVID’s customer service, asking them if they could do something about the TIP-box and the way the search box and search history are placed relative to each other.

The same day I got an answer from a very kind Technical Support Engineer writing:

“I am really sorry but we can not remove the Tip box. However the interface is going to change next week, the search history box will be more customizable.”

YES!
Never mind the TIP-box (for the moment).
I’m very happy that OVID does take his users seriously. This means a real step ahead for heavy OVID-users. Thanks!

He also gave me the official communication about the new release, shown below (or follow this link)

By the way the new OvidSP version 2.0 is scheduled to be launched TODAY instead of July 31st.

Want to become acquainted with the new features and functionality in the latest version of OvidSP than follow this link to register for a (webex) course (choice from 20 dates!)

Transforming the Way You Search with More Flexibility and Customization of OvidSP Workflow Tools

Dear Ovid Customer:

The next release of OvidSP on July 31st is all about flexibility and enabling users to search the way they want to search. In our third weekly email introducing what you and your users will see on July 31st, learn more about new user-configurable customization enhancements to OvidSP’s workflow tools that further deepen the search experience and help users get to the results they need quickly.

  • Search Aid – Now users can expand or collapse this search refinement feature based on their preferences for managing the results screen.
  • Search History Many users perform complex searches, some involving as many as 60-80 lines of search. Now, the Search History can be placed above or below the main search box, so there’s no need to spend time scrolling up the page to review search strategies. Plus, you can sort all your searches in either ascending or descending order so that the last search statement is always viewable.
  • Results Manager – To accommodate for a wide variety of user behavior and to minimize scrolling when it comes to managing results, the Results Manager is now located in two places, above and below the results set. You can minimize it in both places to save valuable screen real estate.

Plus, now you can customize the “common” limits—those available on the main search page. These settings will act as defaults for users who are able to login via a personal account.

Like all of the upcoming enhancements and new features, those illustrated above are based on extensive feedback from and interviews with customers and users.

Coming soon to the OvidSP Resource Center will be screenshots, an updated training schedule, Frequently Asked Questions, and more. Be sure to contact your Ovid Account Representative or support@ovid.com with any questions.

Regards,

Wolters Kluwer Health – Ovid


©2008 Ovid Technologies

Eerder schreef ik dat OVID mij RSI bezorgde, omdat ik teveel moest scrollen bij langdurige searches. Er staat een enorme “OVIDSP TIP” hinderlijk in de weg en de zoekregel staat te ver van de laatste search.

Vrijdag besloot ik eindelijk om OVID’s klantenservice te mailen. Of ze niet de tip weg konden halen en iets aan de plaatsing van zoekgeschiedenis en de zoekregel konden doen (ik verwees daarbij naar mijn blog).

Diezelfde dag nog kreeg ik antwoord van een zeer attente mijnheer van de helpdesk (die getuige latere correspondentie ook inhoudelijk het een en ander weet). Hij schreef:

“I am really sorry but we can not remove the Tip box. However the interface is going to change next week, the search history box will be more customizable.”

YES!
Laat de OVIDsp-TIP maar even zitten (voor nu).
Erg goed dat OVID zijn gebruikers serieus neemt. Ze doen tenminste wat met de feedback! De aanpassingen zijn echt een stap vooruit. Bedankt, OVID!

De officiele aankondiging van OVID staat hierboven. U kunt ook deze link volgen.

Belangrijkste punten:

  • Je kunt naar wens de zoekgeschiedenis boven of onder de zoekbalk plaatsen en de searches in opklimmende of dalende volgorde plaatsen. Deze flexibiliteit lost mijn probleem dus al grotendeels op!
  • Je kunt de “Search Aid” in- of uitklappen.
  • De “Results Manager” staat nu zowel boven als onder de zoekresultaten en kunnen ook weer ingeklapt worden. Hierdoor hoef je ook weer minder te scrollen als je iets met de resultaten wilt doen.

Tussen 2 haakjes: De nieuwe OvidSP version 2.0 staat VANDAAG op de planning, niet 31 juli

Wil je vertrouwd raken met de laatste versie van OvidSP dan kun je je opgeven voor 1 van de 20 (!) online (webex) trainingen via deze link.





Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

26 07 2008

**********************************************************************
For people just looking for video’s, powerpoints or transcripts of Randy’s presentation(s), the most important links are these:

http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/ Randy Pausch’s Web Site on Carnegie Mellon University, i.e. with links to transcripts and powerpoint-presentation (low resolution, used in this post) of his lectures.

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/Randy/ ” The Legacy of Randy Pausch” Dr. Gabriel Robins, colleague Professor, mentor and friend. With additional interesting links
http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture/ about Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture
http://www.alice.org/
link to Alice
the video’s are shown below,

***********************************************************************

The other day I wrote about Twitter as an alternative and sometimes breaking news source.

That same day this news reached me via twitterer @Mndoci (Deepak Singh):

Randy Pausch. I didn’t know who that was, so I googled him.

There is a full record in Wikipedia, which is VERY up to date: Randolph Frederick Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science, human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh..and a bestselling author who achieved worldwide fame for his The Last Lecture” speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon.

His “Last Lecture” was viewed online by over six million people and has been recently been published as a book (see Librarything description).

When he held the speech, he knew he had just a few months to live: the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with a year before had spread to other organs. He decided not to play it very emotional, but to go for dark humor.

This is how he starts his Last Lecture (which ironically had recently been renamed as ‘Journeys’). It sets the tone for the rest of the presentation:

What Indira didn’t tell you is that this lecture series used to be called the Last Lecture. If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would it be? I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it. [laughter] So, you know, in case there’s anybody who wandered in and doesn’t know the back story, my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in the room, introduce them. If you look at my CAT scans, there are approximately 10 tumors in my liver, and the doctors told me 3-6 months of good health left. That was a month ago, so you can do the math. … We can’t change it, and we just have to decide how we’re going to respond to that. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you. [laughter] And I assure you I am not in denial. It’s not like I’m not aware of what’s going on….”

He ends the lecture entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” like this:

So today’s talk was about my childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and some lessons learned. But did you figure out the head fake? [dramatic pause] It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. Have you figured out the second head fake? The talk’s not for you, it’s for my kids. Thank you all,good night

I found his speech very inspiring. A mixture of amusing stories and wise life lessons. Not just theories but real examples illustrating his points. Very clear and recognizable. His main theme: Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things. He showed how most of his dreams were realized (or dealt with or ‘adapted’: ‘Being Captain Kirk’ was changed in ‘Meeting Captain Kirk’), the magic word being perseverance: “never give up!”. Other one-liners: “Loyalty is a two way street”. “Give people enough time and they will always impress you”.

He learned a lot from other people. This is what he learned from his football coach when he was 9 years old:

“And he showed up for practice the first day, and you know, there’s big hulking guy, we were all scared to death of him. And he hadn’t brought any footballs. How are we going to have practice without any footballs? And one of the other kids said, excuse me coach, but there’s no football. And Coach Graham said, right, how many men are on a football field at a time? Eleven on a team, twenty-two. Coach Graham said, all right, and how many people are touching the football at any given time? One of them. And he said, right, so we’re going to work on what those other twenty-one guys are doing. And that’s a really good story because it’s all about fundamentals. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.”

He also stresses that it’s not what you say but how you say it (“c’est le ton qui fait la musique”). Here he tells a story about how his dutch uncle and first boss Andy ‘beats him up’.

“He Dutch-uncled me. And he put his arm around my shoulders and we went for a little walk and he said, Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant. Because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life. What a hell of a way to word “you’re being a jerk.” [laughter] Right? He doesn’t say you’re a jerk…”

The same uncle stimulated him to do his PhD instead of taking a job:

“It wasn’t the kind of thing people from my family did. We got, say, what do you call them? …. jobs. And Andy said, no, don’t go do that. Go get a Ph.D. Become a professor. And I said, why? And he said, because you’re such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education.[long pause, looks directly at Andy van Dam] Thanks.”

He did do his PhD and became a charming professor, a brilliant researcher ànd a gifted teacher. His specialty was virtual reality. He was able to mix theorie and practice in a very fruitful way. For instance he combined his work as a professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon with Sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts (EA) (one of his childhood dreams) and he became co-founder of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). He also was the director of the Alice (www.alice.org), a software project ‘learning’ children to program while they just think they’re making movies and video games. The good stuff is coming in the next version, where we will teach them Java language while they think they are writing moviescripts using Sims characters, Randy said.

“I, like Moses, get to see the promised land, but I won’t getto set foot in it. And that’s OK, because I can see it. And the vision is clear. Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard. That’s pretty cool. I can deal with that as a legacy.”

And what a legacy this is. Randy’s wife, Jai, put out a statement the day he died thanking “the millions of people who have offered their love, prayers and support. Randy was so happy and proud that the lecture and book inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children,” she said. “The outpouring of cards and e-mails really sustained him.” (Foxnews, July 28th)

Please enjoy the videos and/or go to links below where you can find more information.

more about “Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving …“, posted with vodpod

Apart from his last lecture I also include his lecture on time management. This was something Randy also was an expert in. I’m sure it will be very inspiring as well.

Miscelanous Sources (other than referred to above)

NL flag NL vlag

Eerder schreef ik dat Twitter soms een heel goede en snelle nieuwsbron kan zijn.

Diezelfde dag las ik de volgende twitter van @Mndoci:

Randy Pausch. Ik had eerlijk gezegd geen idee wie het was, dus heb even gegoogled.

Er is een volledige pagina in Wikipedia, over Pausch, die nogal erg up to date was: Randolph Frederick Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science, human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh..and a bestselling author who achieved worldwide fame for his The Last Lecture” speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon.

Zijn “Laatste Lezing” werd zeker door meer dan 6 miljoen mensen bekeken en is recent als boek uitgebracht (zie Librarything).

Toen hij de toespraak hield had hij net te horen gekregen dat hij nog maar enkele maanden te leven had. De pancreaskanker (het jaar daarvoor bij hem vastgesteld) was uitgezaaid en niet meer behandelbaar. Hij had er heel emotioneel over kunnen doen, maar het lag meer in zijn aard om het met wat galgenhumor te brengen.

Ironisch genoeg was de naam ‘Last Lecture’ net gewijzigd in ‘Journeys’. De lezing heette de last lecture omdat je aan de studenten levenswijsheden zou onderwijzen alsof het de laatste mogelijkheid was: wat geef je mensen mee als je weet dat je nog maar kort te leven hebt? Maar nu was het letterlijk zo. Randy grapte meteen: nu ben ik eindelijk zover dat ik de lezing mag geven, veranderen ze de naam.

Zijn lezing heet “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Hij vertelt hoe hij zijn kinderdromen heeft gerealiseerd of omgevormd (Captain Kirk zijn werd Captain Kirk ontmoeten, dat is gelukt). Sommige dromen die hij niet gerealiseerd heeft (premier league football player), hebben toch hun nut gehad omdat hij belangrijke zaken leerde, die hem later in zijn leven goed van pas zouden komen. Hij leerde bijvoorbeeld van zijn rugby-trainers hoe belangrijk het was te volharden: eerst de basis leggen, dan de vruchten plukken.

Zijn lezing gaat niet alleen erom hoe je je eigen dromen kunt verwezenlijken (of eigenlijk hoe je moet leven), maar ook hoe je die van anderen kunt verwezenlijken. Dat was zijn sterke punt.

Hij was van plan gewoon een baantje te nemen, zoals iedereen in zijn familie, maar op aanraden van een nederlandse oom ging hij studeren (computerwetenschappen), promoveerde hij en werd hij professor en nog belangrijker: een charmante persoonlijkheid, een briljante onderzoeker en een begenadigd leraar. Hij was gespecialiseerd in “virtual reality” en zag een van zijn kinderdromen (disney-imagineer) in vervulling gaan toen hij op vernuftige wijze zijn professoraat in Carnegie Mellon wist te combineren met (meerdere) Sabbaticals bij Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts (EA). Later zette hij zelf het Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) op. Ook was hij directeur van Alice (www.alice.org), een software project dat kinderen ‘leert’ te programmeren, terwijl ze denken dat ze films en video’s maken. In de komende versie wordt kinderen geleerd met Java te werken terwijl ze denken dat ze scripts voor een film met Sims-figuren schrijven.

Het is een mooie nalatenschap, die Randy ons achterliet

“I, like Moses, get to see the promised land, but I won’t getto set foot in it. And that’s OK, because I can see it. And the vision is clear. Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard. That’s pretty cool. I can deal with that as a legacy.”

Voor details van zijn lezing verwijs ik verder graag naar de video’s, engelse citaten en verdere literatuurverwijzingen hierboven.





Twitter as a modern tam-tam

26 07 2008

I´ve just discovered Twitter, a free social networking/microblogging service. As described in a previous post I prefer Twitter to Hyves: it’s globally oriented, more interactive and there are more collegues out there.

Via Twitter you can share ideas and thoughts with people with the same kind of interest (followers/-ing). People tell what they’re doing, give links to interesting information. Sometimes Twitter serves like an Q&A. It is only difficult to condense the message to 140 characters -and still be understood. Here is an example:

Laika (Jacqueline) laikas Does anyone know the code(s) in PubMed for : ‘has been indexed’ and ‘has not been indexed’. There are so many papers unindexed >1 yr old.

Nikki D.eagledawg @laikas Not all citations will have MeSH [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE], details on why (scope,author manuscripts) at http://snurl.com/34lyf

Laika (Jacqueline)laikas @eagledawg Thnx. PubMedCentral® manuscripts may be the main culprit in this set.

Nikki D.eagledawg @laikas yep that will do it too! Hard to explain anything about NLM resources in only 140 characters ;)

Apart from being a social platform, Twitter can also function as a news breaking platform. In case of the China earthquakes, for instance, Twitter brought faster coverage than traditional media. (i.e. see this blog about technology from BBC News)

A Dutch example: the news that Joran van der Sloot (possibly involved in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance) threw a glass of red wine in the face of private detective Peter R. de Vries after a TV broadcast first appeared on Twitter. Corrie Gerritsma saw it all happen in the studio, twittered it, which was picked up by Fransisco van Jole, a journalist, specialized in Internet coverage (see his post here). While the official media were asleep, Francisco made it public on Twitter. Later a video showing the incident appeared on You Tube. I learned these facts from yet another twit: dutchcowboys. Thus Twitter is really working as a tam-tam here. Dutchcowboys notes that although the group twitterati is small they’re moving closer and closer to the fire.

Quite coincidentally I picked up two very different news stories simultaneously through Twitter yesterday morning while at work.

One was about the Bomb blasts in Bangalore, brought to us via Twitter by @mukund and @narain (via @pfanderson). They covered in detail what happened, before the official news releases.

Mukund twittered:

6 minutes ago: Bomb Blasts in Bangalore – 4 locations, details to follow #Bloreblast
4 minutes ago: Blasts at: Sirjapur Road, Nayandhalli, Madiwala , Adugodi, Rajaram and Mohan Rai Circle
1 minute ago: Bangalore blasts – telecom connectivity is broken so trying to call bangalore wont work

And finally blogged about it (see post here). The usefulness of Twitter to follow the events was stressed by Daniel Bennett at his post: using Twitter to follow the bangalore bomb blasts (click here). Daniel is a PhD student researching the impact of blogging and new media on the BBC’s coverage of war and terrorism.

twitter news

Although the news is not verified and authorized, it is fast, and that may be important, especially for local news (also to reassure people: ‘no death’). Other examples and thoughts about Twitter’s relevance as a news source see the comments to the post on ‘BBC news technology’ I referred to before.

The other event I was alerted to at the very same moment was local news from the ‘University of Leicester (UoL) Library (UK), where the falling down of a part of the heavy wooden ceiling in the new library caused a little disaster (luckily without any casualties), resulting in a temporary closing. Interestingly, Leicester Twitter-users were well aware of the event before it was common knowledge, and colleagues were informing each other via Twitter. The question then asked, both at the blog of the Leicester Library and on 2 video’s by @AJCann (one below): how should we respond to such unofficial events (possibly much worse events at a crowded campus)? And which role social media have to play in such a context?


more about “Vodpod Firefox Extension for WordPress”, posted with vodpod

http://api.seesmic.com/#/video/iae6d6VuZW/watch

In a second video (made that same day) AJCann stressed that:

“everything with a service function should have a service dashboard especially in case of services outages, like Twitter.com and wordpress.com have.
Where is your university organization service dashboard? How does your organization inform about the status of your institution, library, blog, lecture, module, whatever?”
(freely cited)

On his video he referred to the url http://tinyurl.com/6h42hs: the announcement on “Movius Interactive Corporation Announces Rapid Alert Application” on O’Reilly Radar.

Certainly, also a service like PubMed should be in dashboard to notify their customers of outages. As Michelle Kraft recently ranted at her blog (see her post here):

Apparently PubMed’s servers went down at 1:00am that morning… As usual the emails started coming in from Medlib-l regarding PubMed. Librarians from different areas of the United States asking about the health status of PubMed as they too noticed it doing funky things. There was a brief discussion and some questions raised on Twitter Medlibs about what to do if PubMed goes down and you don’t have access to Ovid. What do you do, where do you send patrons? Would third party tools work?

Thus again the unofficial tam-tam did its job, but wouldn’t it be far better if PubMed itself “put an obvious note on the site when there is an outage or if there are problems”?

Indeed Web 2.0 communication is an undeveloped area. There are plenty possibilities, not only for individuals, but also for libraries, hospitals, universities and organizations.
But how to convince the majority of people that think those tools/sites are just trendy?!

Note added ‘in proof’: while I was working on this post, @mukund was twittering about new blasts in Ahmedabad.

———————–

NL flag NL vlag

Ik ken de gratis netwerk/microblogging dienst Twitter eigenlijk nog maar kort, maar ben er nu al enthousiast over. Zoals ik eerder schreef verkies ik Twitter boven zo’n site als Hyves, dat meer een profielensite is, minder interactief èn Nederlandstalig. Met Twitter bereik je veel meer mensen, ook (en in mijn geval vooral) veel collega’s.

Via Twitter kun je ideeen en gedachten met geestverwanten (followers/-ing) delen. Mensen vertellen wat ze aan het doen zijn, of geven links naar interessante informatie. Soms is Twitter net een vraagbaak (Q&A). Alleen is het soms een hele kunst om je boodschap helder over te brengen in 140 tekens, zoals wel blijkt uit de volgende, overigens zeer nuttige, conversatie:

Laika (Jacqueline) laikas Does anyone know the code(s) in PubMed for : ‘has been indexed’ and ‘has not been indexed’. There are so many papers unindexed >1 yr old.

Nikki D.eagledawg @laikas Not all citations will have MeSH [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE], details on why (scope,author manuscripts) at http://snurl.com/34lyf

Laika (Jacqueline)laikas @eagledawg Thnx. PubMedCentral® manuscripts may be the main culprit in this set.

Nikki D.eagledawg @laikas yep that will do it too! Hard to explain anything about NLM resources in only 140 characters ;)

Twitter is echter niet alleen een sociaal medium, maar zorgde meerdere malen voor een primeur, zoals bijvoorbeeld over de aardbevingen in China. Twitter bracht het nieuws sneller dan de traditionele media (zie bijvoorbeeld dit blog over technologie van BBC News)

Om dichter bij huis te blijven: het ‘nieuws’ dat Joran van der Sloot (die mogelijk betrokken is bij de verdwijning van Natalee Holloway) na een tv-uitzending een glas rode wijn in het gezicht van Peter R. de Vries had gegooid, werd het eerst bekendgemaakt via Twitter. Corrie Gerritsma zag het incident, plaatste een bericht op Twitter, dat opgepakt werd door de journalist Fransisco van Jole (zie bericht). Terwijl de Telegraaf ‘sliep’, bracht Francisco deze primeur naar buiten via Twitter en later via zijn blog. Daarna verscheen er ook nog een You-tube video van het hele gebeuren. Op mijn beurt las ik dit alles weer op een twit van de dutchcowboys. Dus Twitter werkt soms echt als een tam-tam. Dutchcowboys merkt ook op:

“Twitter lijkt ondanks de nog relatief kleine groep van gebruikers steeds dichter op de actualiteit te kruipen“.

Heel toevallig kwamen gisteren via Twitter 2 heel verschillende nieuwsberichten voorbij.

Een ging over bomaanslagen in Bangalore, via de Twitterati @mukund and @narain wereldkundig gemaakt (getipt door @pfanderson). Vòòrdat de officiele kanalen het raporteerden.

Minuut na minuut twitterde Mukund:

Bomb Blasts in Bangalore – 4 locations, details to follow #Bloreblast
Blasts at: Sirjapur Road, Nayandhalli, Madiwala , Adugodi, Rajaram and Mohan Rai Circle
Bangalore blasts – telecom connectivity is broken so trying to call bangalore wont work

Vervolgens vond hij ook nog tijd om erover te bloggen (zie hier). Het belang van Twitter in dit opzicht werd uit de doeken gedaan door Daniel Bennett: using Twitter to follow the bangalore bomb blasts (zie hier). Als promovendus onderzoekt Daniel de effecten van web 2.0 media op de oorlogsverslaggeving door de BBC.

Hoewel niet officieel en niet geverifieerd, is het nieuws er wel heel snel. Met name bij locaal nieuws kan dat van belang zijn, niet alleen om mensen te waarschuwen, maar ook om ze gerust te stellen (‘geen doden‘). Zie voor enkele andere voorbeelden van het belang van Twitter als nieuwsbron, de commentaren op het BBC news technologie-blogbericht.

Vrijwel tegelijkertijd speelde zich een klein drama in de ‘University of Leicester (UoL)’ Bibliotheek af: een deel van het zware plafond van het net nieuwe gebouw was naar beneden gevallen. Gelukkig was dit vòòr openingstijd gebeurd en waren er geen slachtoffers, maar de bibliotheek werd wel tot nader order gesloten. Werknemers met een twitter-account hoorden het nieuws het eerst. Continu stelden ze elkaar op de hoogte via Twitter, ook toen er rond het middaguur weer groen licht gegeven werd.
De twitteraar @AJCann stelde zich toen de vraag hoe we op dergelijke onofficiele berichten horen te reageren en welke rol de sociale media in deze context moeten spelen. Zie de discussie op het blog van de U0L Bibliotheek. Ook maakte hij diezelfde dag nog 2 video’s, waaronder bovenstaande video.

In een 2e video benadrukte AJCann:

“everything with a service function should have a service dashboard like Twitter.com and wordpress.com have, especially in case of services outages,
Where is your university organization service dashboard? How does your organization inform about the status of your institution, library, blog, lecture, module, whatever?”
(vrij ‘vertaald’)’

Op de video is steeds de url http://tinyurl.com/6h42hs: in beeld een verwijzing naar een bericht op O’Reilly Radar over de noodzaak van een snel waarschuwingssysteem.

Zo’n waarschuwingsysteem zou ook een dienst als PubMed niet misstaan om de gebruikers te waarschuwen als ze weer eens ‘down’ zijn, of hun servers overbelast. Ik moest hieraan denken, omdat Michelle Kraft het kortgeleden hierover had (zie hier voor haar blogbericht):

Apparently PubMed’s servers went down at 1:00am that morning… As usual the emails started coming in from Medlib-l regarding PubMed. Librarians from different areas of the United States asking about the health status of PubMed as they too noticed it doing funky things. There was a brief discussion and some questions raised on Twitter Medlibs about what to do if PubMed goes down and you don’t have access to Ovid. What do you do, where do you send patrons? Would third party tools work?

Dus wederom is het zo dat de onofficiele tamtam zijn werk deed (voor diegenen die het volgden), maar het zou toch veel beter zijn als PubMed problemen zelf officieel aankondigde.

Web 2.0 communication is een nog onontgonnen gebied. Het biedt heel veel mogelijkheden, niet alleen voor individuen, maar ook voor bibliotheken, universiteiten, ziekenhuizen, organisaties.
Maar dan is het wel nodig dat de grote meerderheid die denkt dat het allemaal maar niets is of veel te trendy over de streep getrokken wordt… net als ik, een paar maanden geleden.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 607 other followers