Diabetes tech free of charge

I have talked about diabetes before – both in terms of technology and cost – but every day it seems to be a greater topic of discussion and research. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it is now the seventh leading cause of death, affecting 29 million Americans.

The MIT news office recently wrote an article about Common Sensing’s plan to solve the nation’s diabetes-management issues by going digital. Common Sensing is a startup, founded by MIT students in 2012 and based in Cambridge, MA, that creates hardware and software medical device solutions for diabetes care. Their first product, called the Gocap, is a Bluetooth connected pen cap for injector pens that automatically track insulin doses as well as other dose-related information.

More accurately, Rob Matheson wrote:

“The startup’s smart insulin-pen cap logs insulin intake data on an app and in the cloud, to help patients better manage their regimen. Moreover, the cap gives doctors a detailed view into patients’ insulin habits and how they affect blood-glucose levels, for more targeted care.”

Right now, the Gocap is going through clinical studies in order to test it out. The co-founders James White and Richard Whalley have partnered with Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston to collect data on 125 patients using the cap over the course of the next year.

The product isn’t available yet but when it is it will be accessible to insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and clinicians. The end goal is to have them be free of charge to the people who need them.

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Gender diversity in Silicon Valley

Today in class we had a guest lecturer, Professor John Wihbey, who taught us a bit about data visualization. We practiced creating charts with various data ranging from reported cases of whooping cough in the US to beverage prices. For our in-class assignment we created a visual for gender diversity in Silicon Valley. We looked at the overall percentage breakdown of men and women in the following companies: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Apple. We then compared it to the percentage breakdown of men and women working in tech in those same companies.

image-2

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Northeastern University’s election post-mortem

At 7:29am, I woke up to see a Boston Globe breaking news alert that had been sent 4 hours earlier: Defying all expectations, Trump takes the White House. I am not a morning person, but in this moment I was wide-awake. I had gone to sleep last night with a headache from the latest results and the inability to watch any longer. I’ll just find out in the morning, I thought to myself. I had voted early, I made my voice heard, I did my civic duty. That was all I could do. So I chose to wake up to the news instead of staying up and waiting, because my lack of sleep wasn’t going to change anything.

I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for this possible outcome. But here we are. After letting it sink in for a few hours, I attended Northeastern’s “The Day After: Making Sense of the Election and What Lies Ahead” – a conversation led by a panel of three faculty members, Dan Kennedy, Dina Kraft, and Jonathan Kaufman, from the School of Journalism. For one hour, I watched as students and faculty engaged in a dialogue regarding what had taken place the night before and the role of journalism in the events leading up to it. Although there was a noticeably gloomy atmosphere surrounding the discussion, due to the uncertainty that lies ahead of us as a country, it focused more on the media’s impact on the campaign. Questions varied from “what was the role of gender in this election?” to “was the media biased?”

Dan Kennedy opened up the discussion with his views on media coverage of the race, which ultimately became the central point of the discussion. “They deserve some fairly harsh criticism,” Professor Kennedy said regarding the media. Professor Kennedy’s point had two parts. First, Donald Trump got free media coverage that no other candidate has ever gotten. He was able to go on the air and interrupt television shows whenever he pleased. The second part was a key element associated with this election: “a sense of false equivalence.” In other words, the media gave equal weight to lesser stories of Clinton and greater stories of Trump. However, Professor Kennedy said that this shouldn’t have made a difference because Trump voters were still well informed due to the good reporting done by institutions such as the Washington Post and the New York Times.

It’s evident that Professor Kennedy was referring to stories such as the Clinton’s emails. Professor Laurel Leff, a member of the audience, said that the biggest journalistic issue surrounding the election was “the willingness to use the WikiLeaks tape without thinking twice about it.” In response, a student said that so much of the election coverage was based on sensationalism and the media focused more on what grabs viewers. As CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves, said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

At what point did this become more about journalistic gain and less about America as a whole? “The way we talk about it (the election) as a joke, undermined it,” a student said. It’s true. We joke about it and the media sensationalizes it.

After several shots at the media, Jonathan Kaufman made a notable point. “The media, I don’t think, elected Donald Trump,” he said. Again, this is true. The media isn’t responsible for the election results and as Kaufman stated, most news anchors were in fact in shock. However, news organizations’ biases do make a difference in public voting and that is hard to ignore. As an audience member questioned, who would the public favor if they only had access to Fox News or CNN, but not both.

It’s voters’ job to elect and journalists’ job to provide the information for those voters’ to make informed decisions. As of now the future of the press is looking a bit shaky. Nonetheless, whether or not the journalism behind this election was done properly, the question now, as a student put it, is “going forward, how do we fix this divide?”

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Why STAT?

STAT News is my primary source of information for my blog. It is the first site I check for the latest updates from research labs, hospitals, and biotech boardrooms (it also happens to have news from political campaigns – I just haven’t looked too much into that side of things).

I rely on STAT as my initial source, from which I find other links and branch out deeper into the topic. It provides exactly what it is called – STAT News – important and urgent news that is succinctly and cleverly delivered. “Take this medication immediately was its message,” wrote Bob Tedeschi, a senior writer at STAT. “It may well be just what the doctor ordered.”

The reason I find STAT to be a credible source is because it is produced by Boston Globe Media. They are headquartered in Boston but have bureaus in Washington, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The executive editor of STAT, Rick Berke, was brought on by John Henry, who is the owner of both Boston Globe Media and the Boston Red Sox. According to the site’s about page, STAT and The Boston Globe are two distinct properties that share content and complement one another. STAT is also a free site. They do not have a paywall as of yet.

The STAT team includes writers, editors, and producers who are capable of the sort of explanatory writing that breaks down complicated scientific topics into easily understandable, but well developed stories. They have hired science, health and biotech journalists, as well as motion graphic artists and data visualization specialists. The site is visually appealing for everyone, while remaining easy to navigate. Their inclusion of photographs and videos has been incredibly informative and they lighten the word-heavy load that we are used to seeing on news sites.

The reason I enjoy reading STAT has two parts. First off, their description of “who’s your audience?” is 100% accurate. Their writing is for anyone. I am sure health professionals and lab scientists frequent the site but even if you don’t understand the first thing about science, you can understand what they have to say, and they make it interesting. They have something for everyone. You can choose to read the fun, quirky pieces like Vinome or learn about new drugs fighting cancer. The second aspect is that they seem to always have the news first. Not surprisingly, they publish new content everyday. But what always strikes me is that if I find an interesting bit of news on STAT and then go to find more on it somewhere else, those other sources got to it later. STAT published it first.

Similar Web Statistics:

  • 1M views in the last 6 months
  • Average duration per visit was 00:01:08
  • Bounce rate is 83.12%
  • Gets the most traffic from the United States
  • Its traffic sources range from Social Media (25.57%) and Referrals (24.08%) to Search (21.36%) and Direct Search (20.12%), even mail (8.87%)
    • Referrals are generally from The Boston Globe and top destination is Facebook

Other facts about STAT

  • They display small advertisements and sponsored content
  • They do allow comments under their articles (although I have never seen many)
  • You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @statnews, as well as follow the individual writers on Twitter
  • You can sign up for newsletters
  • You can find their podcast “Signal” on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast platforms
  • Their site is created for mobile access
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Food trucks and social media: threefold

This semester our class has learned a lot about how the world is increasingly relying on social media for a wide range of reasons. Therefore, I have decided to report on how food trucks around Boston not only function, but also how they use social media to advertise themselves. This December I will be creating a multi-media project out of all of the information I obtain.

Through a combination of interviewing people who work on and run food trucks and customers on the street, I will write a text story accompanied by a video and slideshow. My hope is to understand how social media may have helped food trucks take off in their early months and how it has helped them since. What are their tactics? Which platform has proven to be most useful? Do they have social media specialists or does everyone contribute? I will ask customers if they found the food truck using social media or if they simply stumbled upon it. Do they follow any food trucks on social media?

As of now, I plan to approach trucks located near the Prudential Center, Newbury Street, and Copley Square. Within my video I will incorporate clips of at least three interviews, with B-roll clips of food truck employees hard at work, serving their customers. I also hope to include clips of scrolling through their social media platforms online. My video will likely cover different food trucks and their use of social media, while my slideshow will be more likely to focus on one food truck in action – away from the social media side of things.

My goal is that one could understand the importance of social media for such businesses, from my three forms of storytelling.

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“Best Belgian waffles made by actual Belgians”

IMG_2237.JPGIt is rare to find a small, family-owned café with a line leading out the door in a city like Boston, where there are coffee shops and brunch spots on every corner. Located near Harvard Square, Zinneken’s is one. What’s their secret to success? The owners of the cozy restaurant pour their culture into the handcrafted dough of their Belgian waffles. “Best Belgian waffles made by actual Belgians,” they state on their website.

“My husband started this restaurant,” said employee Cristina Caprar. “He wanted to bring something new to the U.S.”

Although many restaurant menus list Belgian waffles, Zinneken’s signature Liège waffle (or Belgian Sugar waffle) is not commonly sold across the U.S. Their use of pearl sugar, imported from Belgium, sets them apart. When the dough bakes in their cast irons, the pearls caramelize, resulting in a uniquely “soft ‘n chewy” texture. Their Brussels waffle is the “light ‘n crispy” alternative. Each waffle is made-to-order, freshly baked in front of customers and then topped with their choice of tasty toppings, ranging from fresh fruit to imported Belgian chocolate and Speculoos (biscuits).

img_2228Caprar said that her husband knew how special the Leige waffle is in Belgium and believed America lacked authentic Belgian waffles. After college, he started the business with friends from school, sharing food he missed from home with the greater Boston area. A few years after building their name, the owners decided to move one step further and created the Zinneken’s truck.

While the restaurant was initially established by a close-knit group of friends and family, Caprar said their employment is not exclusive. Their site offers the opportunity to become a part of their “new niche in the gourmet food industry.”

If their list of 10 Good Reasons to Join Zinneken’s doesn’t entice you then their sugary scent that permeates down the street definitely will. Zinneken’s is open throughout the day and into the night, providing the option of breakfast, dessert, or even a late-night snack. You will surely return once you’ve gotten a taste of their waffles, a sip of their coffee and a feel for their homey environment.

Zinneken’s

Contact Information:
(857) 756-0416
http://zinnekenswaffles.com/
Hours of Operation:
Sunday: 9AM – 9PM
Mon-Thurs: 9AM – 11PM
Fri-Sat: 9AM – 12AM
Location:
1154 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard T-station (Red-line)
Not handicapped-accessible
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One step closer to prosthetics that can feel

“Imagine being in an accident that leaves you unable to feel any sensation in your arms and fingers. Now imagine regaining that sensation, a decade later, through a mind-controlled robotic arm that is directly connected to your brain.”

That was written in Science Daily regarding a recent breakthrough in neurotechnology: the artificial hand.

But not just any artificial hand, one that allows an amputee to tell the difference between soft or firm touch. The implanted electrodes let the amputee feel the same intensity of pressure in the artificial hand as they do in the other. It is one step closer to developing prosthetics than can feel.

In order to test out the device, Keith Vonderhuevel held his 2-year-old granddaughter without taking the artificial hand off, as he normally would in fear of squeezing too tightly. Vonderhuevel had lost his right arm below the elbow 11 years ago in a job accident and this was the first time he was able to use both hands – almost equally. “It feels like a light pressure. The harder I squeeze, the stronger that pressure gets,” he said to a member of the Associated Press.

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University say that enhancing prosthetics with a sense of touch will still take a lot of research but their plan for now is to allow Vonderhuevel and another volunteer to use the experimental hand at home instead of just the laboratory. They want to see if it can make a difference in one’s everyday life. Case Western biomedical engineer Dustin Tyler, leader of the project, said that the goal is to get people to use it as any other limb.

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