Category Archives: cool stuff

Some good news on cancer, for once

tl;dr: A new combination of drugs long used in the treatment of breast cancer has produced some stunning results:

New breast cancer treatment wipes out tumours in just 11 DAYS

A new treatment for breast cancer has completely eradicated tumours in just 11 days.

Doctors today described the unexpected results as ‘staggering’ – and said the new two-pronged technique could spare thousands of women from gruelling chemotherapy.

The UK team, announcing their results at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, said they had never seen breast patients respond so quickly to a cancer treatment.

Women who were newly diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer were given the therapy at 23 UK hospitals.

Of the participants in the trial the vast majority – 87 per cent – responded to the treatment, with tests showing that the cancer had stopped producing more cells.

But for some women the results were more dramatic.

In 11 per cent the tumours had completely vanished, to the surprise of surgeons, and for another 17 per cent they had significantly shrunk.

The drugs involved aren’t particularly expensive, either, as cancer drugs go: around $2150 for an 11-day course.  The patent on one of them is about to expire, which should knock that price down a fair bit.

Need the “owner’s manual” for your M1 Garand?

I’ve converted it to an eBook:

Field Manual 23-5: U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1

It’s a faithful rendition of what I think is the last edition (published in 1965), formatted for your Kindle or other compatible device.  Cribbed from the description I provided to Amazon:

An ebook conversion of the Army’s “owner’s manual” for the M1 Garand battle rifle. More convenient than the PDFs that exist, and easy to load into your phone so you have it on hand at the range or in the field. Includes information on basic handling and operation, field stripping, a description of how the rifle operates, how to resolve stoppages, and routine maintenance.

Awesomeness

Found this on the book of faces…an 81-year-old not only finished a beer mile with a not-too-bad time, but she beat her daughter and son-in-law while she was at it:

This 81-Year-Old Grandma Is Better at Drinking and Running Than You Are

If you’ve ever subjected your body to a beer mile race — easily one of the world’s ultimate tests of physical and emotional endurance — you might want to contact Elvira Montes for some pointers. The 81-year-old grandmother of three was, not only the oldest person to finish during the 2015 FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin, Texas on Tuesday night, but also outran her daughter and son-in-law, according to a report byRunner’s World. Needless to say, she’s a freaking hero.

[…]

While the beer mile world champions crossed the finish line in a cloud of sweat and suds faster than you can pour a beer and drink it, Montes finished the race with a damn impressive time of just 20 minutes and 24 seconds — 50 seconds faster than her 47-year-old daughter. She admittedly doesn’t even like beer, but pounded four bottles of KCCO Gold Lager from Resignation Brewery, according to the report.

The race marked Montes’ second beer run, having participated in the same event last year. Next year, she plans to break 20 minutes and said she can improve by drinking her beer faster.

 

CyanogenMod 12.1 brings back stock features on the Moto X

About two years ago, I replaced my iPhone 4 with a Moto X.  One of the coolest features at the time was that you could shake it while it was “asleep” to bring up the camera.  It’d also wake up the screen periodically to show the time and recent notifications.

These features went away when I unlocked the bootloader and switched from stock firmware to CyanogenMod 11 a while back, but the advantages of a mostly-unlocked phone (still need a SIM unlock…can probably do that next month for free when my plan’s up) outweighed the disadvantages.

Today, I got around to updating to CyanogenMod 12.1.  It took an unusually long time to install and Lollipop has moved lots of things around compared to where they were in KitKat, but the hardware is still able to keep up with it.  More importantly, the sleep-mode notifications and the shake-to-switch-to-the-camera feature are back.  It was nice to not have to unlock the phone and dig through the menus to fire up the camera; shake it anytime and the camera’s ready in about a second.  That means fewer missed shots when something happens.

Who knew? The Google Play Books Chrome app has an offline mode.

IMG_20151104_130132A new tablet arrived yesterday: an HP Stream 7, which set me back a whopping $60 at Woot.  After letting it update itself from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 (yes, it runs Windows, not Android or iOS) and putting Chrome and a few other apps on it, I set out to find a decent ebook reader.  Ideally, it’d support ePub and would sync bookmarks between existing devices.

I have been using Google Play Books to share my collection between Android and iOS devices.  Apps are available for both to download part or all of your collection for offline reading; bookmarks are synced when online.  Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated Windows app…but it turns out that’s not a problem.

After trying several ebook apps for Windows and finding them wanting in one measure or another, I ran across references to a couple of things I didn’t know about:

  • Google Play Books is available as a Chrome app
  • The Chrome app can use HTML5 local storage to hold selected ebooks for offline reading

Sweet!  The only tricky part now was selecting books for offline reading.  You’re supposed to hover the mouse pointer over the title you want to download, then click a “make available offline” checkbox that pops up.  Without a mouse, though, you can’t hover over anything.

That’s where a program called TouchMousePointer comes into play.  It converts part of the screen area into a touchpad, and puts up a mouse pointer that you can hover over the books you want to download.  It’s easily toggled off most of the time, but is there if you need more precise positioning than your fingers can deliver (as apps written with a mouse in mind might need).

IMG_20151104_130807Here’s the end result…note that the tablet’s in airplane mode.  The screen doesn’t really look like that; it’s some weird interaction between it and the camera in my phone that you’re seeing.

Alcohol abuse…in space!

1445869708280I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of hashers suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced:

Comet Lovejoy appears to be a well-stocked bar in space

If you are looking for a good time, it might be worth stopping by Comet Lovejoy.

That’s because the famous comet is releasing huge amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar in space, according to NASA. This marks the first time that ethyl alcohol, the same type found in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet.

“We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity,” Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory, France and the lead author of a paper on the discovery published in Science Advances, said in a statement.

It also raises the prospect that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules required for the emergence of life. The team found 21 different organic molecules in gas from the comet, including ethyl alcohol and glycolaldehyde, a simple sugar.

Hadn’t thought of this

random-shite-2015-10-01-09

Then again, lately I’ve just had Malibu’s nails trimmed by the vet when she’s in there for something else (like boarding).  That way, they’re the ones she bites, not me. :-)

Besides, it looks like you need more than two hands to make this work.

h/t: Wirecutter