Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

1 mile

My in-laws’ two homes are each about 1 mile away from the flames of the Kincaid fire in Santa Rosa. Please send good wishes!

Moderate Humidity Decreases Infection Rates

TL;DNR: Keeping the humidity at 40-60% dramatically decreases airborne infection rates!

Here are snippets from an article in Forbes, shown to me by Winnie Chen.

Oct 17, 2019, 09:30am
This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season
Leah Binder

“Harvard Medical School graduate and lecturer, Stephanie Taylor” heads this research…

“The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air.”

“Taylor finds one of the most interesting studies from a team at the Mayo Clinic, which humidified half of the classrooms in a preschool and left the other half alone over three months during the winter. Influenza-related absenteeism in the humidified classrooms was two-thirds lower than in the standard classrooms—a dramatic difference.”

“They used to assume the microbes in desiccated droplets were dead, but advances in the past several years changed that thinking.”

Machine Learning Hand Gender

In looking up hand research for work, I came across this super-cool machine learning article. In brief: a computer can read an X-Ray and tell if a person is a boy or girl really accurately and (at least some) doctors can’t! Maybe by paying attention to what the computer sees, doctors can figure out how to determine the gender of the hand in the X-ray.

Despite the well-established impact of sex and sex hormones on bone structure and density, there has been limited description of sexual dimorphism in the hand and wrist in the literature. We developed a deep convolutional neural network (CNN) model to predict sex based on hand radiographs of children and adults aged between 5 and 70 years. Of the 1531 radiographs tested, the algorithm predicted sex correctly in 95.9% (κ = 0.92) of the cases. Two human radiologists achieved 58% (κ = 0.15) and 46% (κ = − 0.07) accuracy. The class activation maps (CAM) showed that the model mostly focused on the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal base or thumb sesamoid in women, and distal radioulnar joint, distal radial physis and epiphysis, or 3rd metacarpophalangeal joint in men. The radiologists reviewed 70 cases (35 females and 35 males) labeled with sex along with heat maps generated by CAM, but they could not find any patterns that distinguish the two sexes. A small sample of patients (n = 44) with sexual developmental disorders or transgender identity was selected for a preliminary exploration of application of the model. The model prediction agreed with phenotypic sex in only 77.8% (κ = 0.54) of these cases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrated a machine learning model to perform a task in which human experts could not fulfill.


Looking for Noisy-environment speech recognition microphone

Please help me find a good noisy-environment speech recognition microphone. I have students that want to use speech-to-text in their classroom, the microphone should pick up the student’s voice but not stray voices in the room. Best if it’s on a headset.

Butchart Gardens Fireworks Are AMAZING

Megan, Abigail and I just saw the summer fireworks show at The Butchart Gardens near Victoria, BC. It was an even more beautiful show than we had seen 5 years ago on our honeymoon! The show is a gorgeous, playful, exposition of light-art, part representative, part interpretive, all pleasurable! A youtube search turns up some nice displays at Butchart Gardens but be forewarned that no fireworks show well on a screen.

I spoke with a few people in Victoria, BC about this and they said that Canadians use fireworks differently than Americans. American fireworks are almost universally a monosyllabic ejaculation of sound and color while Canadians use it as a medium. Curious! Wonderful!


One Weird Trick

How did it take me 20 years to figure out this “one weird trick” to know which way is up on a USB cable? All hail the sharpie clown nose!