Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Web Secret 589: Diagnosis

Way back in 2010, I wrote a post Web Secret #129: Crowd Accelerated Innovation describing the new concept that human beings across the world could access the same video resulting in rapid innovation.

This was right before Apple released FaceTime in the App store.

It is now almost 10 years later, and what we hoped would happen then is in full flower today.

No series best showcases the promise of the crowd than Netflix' Diagnosis.

The premise of the show is that Dr. Lisa Sanders finds medical cases that stump professionals. She then creates a video broadcast that describes the patient's medical problems and makes all performed tests, labs, etc. available to the world. Viewers have up to two months to respond.

And the world answers, solving the mystery, and providing the patients with a diagnosis, a treatment path, and support from the medical community and beyond.

It's exhilarating, inspirational.

And depressing.

Many of the patients featured in the series are bankrupt because of their medical bills. One of the arguments made for not offering universal coverage in the US is that we have to pay to provide the best medical care in the world.

That is not true - if it ever was.

One patient's problems are solved by a revolutionary lab in Italy. Cost to the patient: zero. Everyone in Italy gets free health care.

Here is another sad fact: a third of Gulf War Veterans suffer from Gulf War Syndrome - that's 100,000 people - caused by exposure to Sarin, a lethal chemical, and other poisonous substances. Decades after their service, veterans experience the horrific fallout of that conflict.

While I was watching the series, I came across a video on YouTube that consists of a graphic showing the countries who who had the greatest military expenditures from 1914 to 2018. In 1914 the country in first place is Germany and the US is in 6th place. By 1918, the US moves into first place, and for the rest of the 20th century we stay in the top three (except for a brief time, pre-World War II.) Starting in the 1990s we remain in first place, spending more money on our military than the rest of the top 15 countries put together.



Can you imagine if we put some of that money to provide universal health care and job skills for the millions of people we imprisoned for minor drug possession charges and other non-violent crimes?

Imagine.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Web Secret 588: Google Secrets

When I was a very young adult, I spent 6 months working as a researcher at a now defunct company aptly named Find. Find's clients were corporations whose minions could call and ask "What is the market for bubblegum?", or "How does the Palomar Observatory clean it's telescope?"

I answered many questions. Since this was eons before the Internet, this meant I ran around New York City's many public libraries with a bag of nickels to make photocopies. I looked at microfiches by the hundreds. I read directories and books. I found out who the experts were, looked their phone numbers up in the Yellow Pages and called them.

By the end of my stint at Find, I was a crack researcher. Once the Internet was invented, my skills easily translated into being able to science the shit out of pretty much anything.

But most people I encounter in day to day life, not so much.

So I came across a useful article on how to effectively use Google, which I have summarized for you:

1. Use quotation marks to find a specific phrase. When you put quotation marks around a collection of words, it tells Google to look for the words only in that order. As an example, I knew that "science the shit" is an expression that was used in "The Martian" novel and movie, and I used that technique to get the clip that I linked to in this post.

2. Use the minus sign. As an example, a search for for "wedding bands" brings up a ton of results, for both wedding rings and musicians that play at wedding receptions. Think of a word that would appear on all the irrelevant pages — in this case, “jewelry” or “jeweler” — and include it with a minus sign in your search: wedding bands -jewelry. Just like that, you’ve got yourself a bunch of sites that review wedding bands across the country.

3. Narrow your search to a specific time period. You can put a date restriction on search results by clicking the "Tools" button under Google’s search bar, and then clicking the “Any Time” drop-down. You can narrow your results to the previous week, month, year, or a custom time frame.

4. Find the source of a photo with reverse image search. Not all searches are made up of words. Sometimes, it can be handy to know where a certain photo came from, or to find a larger version of it. You probably know you can type a few words to find a photo with Google’s Image Search, but you might not have realized it works in the other direction too: Drag an image into Image Search and Google will find other versions of that photo for you.

Start searching