Archive for February 21, 2008

Statin Drugs: Survey

February 21, 2008

Statin Effects Study


The UCSD Statin Study group, headed by Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, has actively been researching statin medications and their risk-benefit balance, including possible side effects. We believe it is important to understand all of the benefits and adverse events of statins. Accordingly, our work is geared towards expanding knowledge of the impact of statins in order to better inform the public and the medical community.

While many physicians (and experts in heart disease and cholesterol) are familiar with the benefits of statins, they are often unfamiliar with the adverse experiences that many people have reported. These include: muscle pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, memory/thinking problems, and mood/personality changes among other symptoms.

Previously, we conducted a “randomized controlled trial” of persons living in San Diego, examining effects of low dose statins on thinking, mood, behavior, and quality of life. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Analysis and study reports of our randomized trial are ongoing.

We are currently undertaking a separate, observational study, The Statin Effects Study. We are interested in the experiences of people presently or formerly on statins, who have noticed any side effects (or benefits) while on these drugs. We are also interested in hearing from people who did not notice any change in order to to help identify characteristics that may predict risks and benefits while on statins.

Take the survey if you’re on, or have been on, a statin drug. I just did.

If you know someone on such a drug, tell them about the survey.

If you don’t trust doing it over the Internet, the survey can be mailed to you in paper format.

The more people participate, the more of an impact we can have to persuade government and manufacturers to add dangerous mental effects to the warning labels of these drugs.

Fifty-One Seconds Of … What?

February 21, 2008

I have no idea because it’s in Chinese


That’s just one of its faces. You figure it out now.

Reference: RepRap

February 21, 2008

What is RepRap?

Look at your computer setup. Imagine if you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust these parts are think of Lego bricks and you’re in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.

RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer will make components using Fused Deposition Modelling Rapid Prototyping, which builds the component up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs will be about €400). That way it’ll be accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. We are distributing the RepRap machine entirely free to everyone using open-source – so, if you have one, you can make another and give it to a friend…

This is what it looks like:


I mentioned fast-fabrication in the old blog (here and here).

This is the future.

No Tomorrow In Japan

February 21, 2008


Japanese Youth Do Not Buy a Car When There Is No Tomorrow

Japan Automobile Dealers Association announced Japan’s new-car sales on Jan 7. According to the report, 3,433,829 new vehicles were sold in 2007, a 7.6 % decrease compared with the number in 2006. As I expected, many news media laid the blame on young people, who allegedly do not wish to own a car. In fact, young people, especially those in their 20s, are regarded as the “worst consumers” in Japan. They hardly drink, stay home on holidays and are enthusiastic about saving up money.

But what discourages young people from spending money is anxiety about the future. It is caused by the debt-heavy government, aging society, state-run pension system running on a shoestring and many other social problems. They know that those problems are becoming more and more serious as time passes and that they will have to shoulder heavy burdens in the future.

On top of that, Japanese people are not good at dealing with uncertain situations. According to the study of Geert Hofstede, the author of Culture’s Consequences, they have a strong tendency to avoid “uncertainty.” Therefore, when they are uncertain about the future, they tend to save money to ease their anxiety.

As a member of this generation, I can understand their frustration at drawing the short straw. In the late 80’s, people are spending money like there was no tomorrow and caused the burst of the bubble economy. And now, those who have to deal with its aftermath do not spend money because they know there is no tomorrow to count on.

Emphasis added by me.

I quoted it in full. Cutting it anywhere would have destroyed it.

MacBook Air Teardown

February 21, 2008

You’ve seen the guts of other devices. You’ve probably already even seen the guts of the Air.

But you got to read this series. It’s fascinating. It’s done by a group of high-class professional engineers who make their living manufacturing electronics. Their insights are revelatory.

[MacBook Air Teardown] No Information on Release Date [Part 1]

[MacBook Air Teardown] Battery Module Covers 2/3 of Bottom Surface [Part 2]

[MacBook Air Teardown] Video: Opening Bottom of Chassis [Part 3]

[MacBook Air Teardown] Video: Maker of Flexible Substrate [Part 4]

[MacBook Air Teardown] ‘No Waste Outside, Nothing but Waste Inside’ [Part 5]

FAIL: Sony Spent $3B To Kill HD-DVD

February 21, 2008

How the Blu-ray war was won – Sony outspent, outsold Toshiba

Sony’s victory in the high-definition format war is a badly needed win for the Japanese electronics giant, after a series of humiliating failures that have left control of the music market with Apple. The question that Sony has yet to answer, however, is whether the price paid to see off Toshiba – at least $3 billion (£1.54 billion) – was worth it.

Blu-ray is more expensive to manufacture than Toshiba’s HD-DVD player. Toshiba players are on sale for as little as £149.99 this year, £120 less than the cheapest Blu-ray. Although some of that discounting reflected a last throw of the dice from Toshiba, for the moment consumers have been saddled with a more expensive format and Sony’s losses to make up.

The only way for Sony to distribute Blu-ray in large quantities was to build the technology into the PlayStation 3 and sell the games console at a discount. Sony’s console division ran up a $1.97 billion deficit in the year to March 31 last year, which it followed with a $991 million loss in the first three quarters of the current year. Yet the true costs of Blu-ray are probably much greater: early research and development expenses have not been included.

Analysts believe, however, that Sony will recoup its $3billion-plus investment eventually. Richard Hooper, an analyst with Screen Digest, said: “It is hard to estimate precisely what royalties Sony will generate, but we believe that they will be able to recoup far more than $3 billion over the lifetime of Blu-ray. It’s worth it.”

No, I disagree.

If the economy turns as sour as the experts predict, people aren’t going to have the money nor be in the mood to adopt another DVD technology.

Look at it this way. A Blu-Ray movie can cost $35-$40. That’s for one movie.

You can pay that much money for a month of high-speed Verizon FIOS service.

And trust me, after that monthly fee, there’s more than $40’s worth of video online to watch for free.

Sony, this is one war you should have lost.

Reference: iPhone Ringtone Software

February 21, 2008

No hacks. No per-ringtone fees.
Unlimited custom ringtones for your iPhone!

Drag, drop, and sync.

iToner enables you to quickly transfer custom ringtones for your iPhone – without modifying, hacking or having to reset your iPhone. Simply drag and drop your MP3, AAC, WAVE, or AIFF audio files on iToner’s window, click the Sync button, and you’re done.

That sounds like fun.

Something More Not To Like About This Election

February 21, 2008

Warning: Obama is dangerous
The senator and his wife, as this week has shown, are classic European-style leftwingers

[ … ] In what might be the most revealing statement made by any political figure so far in this campaign season, Mrs Obama caused a stir this week. She said that the success of her husband Barack’s campaign had marked the first time in her adult life that she had felt pride in her country.

This, even by the astonishingly self-absorbed standards of politicians and their families, is a remarkably narrow view of what makes a country great. And though she later half-heartedly tried to retract the remark it was a statement pregnant with meaning for the presidential election campaign.

Now, to be fair to Mrs Obama, she would surely have a point if she had said that it was a source of incomparable pride to her and all African-Americans that in a country with a long and baleful history of racial discrimination, one of their own was within serious range of becoming president. All but the most irredeemably racist Americans would surely agree with that.

But that was not what she said. She said this was the only time in her adult life that she had felt pride in America.

Emphasis added by me.

Yeah, I’ve been wondering about those two … even this far away from them they give me the creeps.

But so do the other two candidates.

Can we have an Undo and start over?

I’m No Fan Of The Kindle. Nor Is He.

February 21, 2008

It’s no secret that I favor the Sony Reader. So I was very pleased to see the Kindle dispatched in the pithy way only the British can manage.

Review – Amazon’s Kindle e-book

Opening para:

My test for a potential successor to the book is whether you can read it in the bath. With a Kindle, that is probably not a good idea, unless you want to risk your $399.

Closing para:

Perhaps I’ll drop it in the bath anyway.

Well done.

NYPD Denies Online Journalist Press Pass

February 21, 2008

Columnist Sues City Over Press Passes

An online columnist who discovered a year ago that the police department would not renew his press pass is suing the city over its refusal to provide him with documents that describe its policy for issuing press passes.

“This is strictly retaliatory,” Leonard Levitt, who is widely read within the police department and is frequently critical of its top officials, said in a video posted on the Web site of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is helping him with the case. “There’s no question about it.”

Mr. Levitt’s Web site,, bills itself as “an insider’s view of the department that the public rarely sees.”

I didn’t know the police department issued press passes. Why are they doing that? Shouldn’t it be a function of the Mayor’s Office?

First it was CES. Then CeBIT. Now this.

Well, it had one unintended consequence the NYPD can’t be pleased with: It’s made me aware of that site and now I’m telling others too.

Don’t mess with the Internet.