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Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for iOS hands-on (video)

Withings users not satisfied with only being able to share their weight with the world can now add blood pressure and heart rate to the mix. This iPhone-connected blood pressure monitor made its first appearance at CES, but you'll finally be able to order one of your own today. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the $129 accessory costs three to four times as much as off-the-shelf blood pressure monitors, but integrates well if you're looking to pair it with your Withings scale for a complete vitals management solution. Results can be sent to health sites like Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, or directly to your doctor. Care to see how it works? Join us past the break for a hands-on look at the monitor, including a video comparison with the in-store vitals machine at our neighborhood Kmart.

Continue reading Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for iOS hands-on (video)

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for iOS hands-on (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 20 Jun 2011 09:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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British Library and Google Books partner up to digitize 250,000 out-of-copyright works

Oh paper, ye olde guardian of human wisdom, culture, and history, why must you be so fragile and voluminous? Not a question we ask ourselves every day, admittedly, but when you're talking about the British Library's extensive collection of tomes from the 18th and 19th century, those books, pamphlets and periodicals do stack up pretty quickly. Thankfully, Google's book digitization project has come to the rescue of bewildered researchers, with a new partnership with the British Library that will result in the availability of digital copies of works from that period -- spanning the time of the French and Industrial Revolutions, the Crimean War, the invention of the telegraph, and the end of slavery. In total, some 250,000 such items, all of them long out of copyright, will find a home on Google Books and the British Library's website, and Google has even been nice enough to bear the full cost of transforming them into web-accessible gems of knowledge. Jump past the break for the similarly digital press release.

Continue reading British Library and Google Books partner up to digitize 250,000 out-of-copyright works

British Library and Google Books partner up to digitize 250,000 out-of-copyright works originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 20 Jun 2011 07:38:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Note: Grant writing ruled again this weekend; so I took this post, which first appeared elsewhere, and decided to revise and repost it. It seems appropriate, given what I've been discussing lately. [...]">

Stepping back: Lies, damned lies, and…science-based medicine? [Respectful Insolence]

Classic Insolence logoNote: Grant writing ruled again this weekend; so I took this post, which first appeared elsewhere, and decided to revise and repost it. It seems appropriate, given what I've been discussing lately. Enjoy, and hopefully there'll be something new tomorrow..

I've been complaining a lot about a certain journalist lately, specifically one named David Freedman. Before the most recent paean to unscientific medicine written by him, he wrote another article. The article, which was trumpeted by Tara Parker-Pope, came under the heading of "Brave Thinkers" and is entitled Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science. It is being promoted in news stories like this, where the story is spun as indicating that medical science is so flawed that even the cell-phone cancer data can't be trusted:

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Let me mention two things before I delve into the meat of the article. First, these days I'm not nearly as enamored of The Atlantic as I used to be. I was a long-time subscriber (at least 20 years) until last fall, when The Atlantic published an article so egregiously bad on the H1N1 vaccine that Mark Crislip decided to annotate it in his own inimitable fashion. Fortunately, this article isn't as bad (it's a mixed bag, actually, making some good points and then undermining some of them by overreaching), although it does lay on the praise for Ioannidis and the attacks on SBM a bit thick. Be that as it may, clearly The Atlantic has developed a penchant for "brave maverick doctors" and using them to cast doubt on science-based medicine. Second, I actually happen to love John Ioannidis' work, so much so that I've written about it at least twice over the last three years, including The life cycle of translational research and Does popularity lead to unreliability in scientific research?, where I introduced the topic using Ioannidis' work. Indeed, I find nothing at all threatening to me as an advocate of science-based medicine in Ioannidis' two most famous papers, Contradicted and Initially Stronger Effects in Highly Cited Clinical Research and Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. The conclusions of these papers to me are akin to concluding that water is wet and everybody dies. It is, however, quite good that Ioannidis is there to spell out these difficulties with SBM, because he tries to keep us honest.

Unfortunately, both papers are frequently wielded like a shibboleth by advocates of alternative medicine against science-based medicine (SBM) as "evidence" that it is corrupt and defective to the very core and that therefore their woo is at least on equal footing with science-based medicine. Ioannidis has formalized the study of problems with the application of science to medicine that most physicians intuitively sense but have not ever really thought about in a rigorous, systematic fashion. Contrast this to so-called "complementary and alternative medicine" (i.e., CAM), where you will never see such a questioning of the methodology and evidence base behind it (mainly because its methodology is primarily anecdotal and its evidence base nonexistent or fatally flawed) and most practitioners never change their practice as a result of any research, and you'll see my point.

Right from the beginning, the perspective of the author David H. Freedman is clear. I first note the title of the article (Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science) is intentionally and unnecessarily inflammatory. On the other hand, I suppose that entitling it something like "Why science-based medicine is really complicated and most medical studies ultimately turn out to be wrong" wouldn't have been as eye-catching. Even Ioannidis restrained himself more when he entitled his PLoS review an almost as exaggerated Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, which has made it laughably easy for cranks to the misuse and abuse of his article. My annoyance at the title and general tone of Freedman's article notwithstanding, coupled with the sorts of news coverage it's getting notwithstanding, there are still important messages in Freedman's article worth considering, if you get past the spin, which begins very early in describing Ioannidis and his team thusly:

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7-Step Process All Designers Should Follow To Complete Every Project

As a graphic designer, you know your job entails helping your client sell their service or product. Your ultimate goal is to help viewers understand a message and, in turn, reap benefits for your client. Developing a process to follow each time you take on a new project can help tremendously in achieving results you and your client are happy with. Whether you’re a graphic designer, web designer, programmer or otherwise, having a system set up will help you get the work done faster in addition to keeping things organized and the designer/client relationship a positive one.

Project Initiation

One of the most important steps in the design process is accumulating the information you’ll need. This is usually achieved by either a face-to-face meeting with the client, a questionnaire, or even a Skype meeting if you really wish to establish a personal relationship with your client. In gathering this information, you now know your client’s objectives and can focus on the details for inclusion in your brief.

The Brief: Although it may seem like more work than necessary, a design brief has a couple of key benefits, no matter how big or small the project seems to you:

  1. It ensures the client knows what he or she wants from the project
  2. It acts as your point of reference during the project

The more information the client provides initially, the better the result for the both of you (especially the client). Topics for inclusion in the design brief may vary but a few good starting points may be:

  • Corporate Profile – A summary of the business
  • Market Position – An evaluation of the company’s service/product in relation to the competition.
  • Communication Task – What’s the message trying to be conveyed and through what means (e.g. taglines, body copy, photography, etc.)
  • Target Market – Demographics — the age, gender, income, employment, geography, lifestyle of those the client wants to reach.
  • Objectives – What quantifiable result does the client want to achieve?
  • Schedule/Deadline – A realistic schedule of how the project should proceed.

At this stage it’s also a good idea to accept a deposit for the first half of the project.


After you’ve met with the client and have a firm understanding of the task at hand, it’s now time to put your nose to the grindstone. After reviewing the materials given to you you can start research. This phase usually entails taking into account competitors, market trends, product/service differentiators, the history of the business, and the future of it as well.

While this stage isn’t usually going to be your favorite but it’s well worth it in the end. There’s nothing worse than creating a beautiful logo only to discover it’s too similar to a competitor’s. You’ll reap the rewards of the time you put into research, trust me.


This step may vary depending on the scale of your project, but generally it’s best to develop a strategy before putting pencil to paper. Through this you analyze the research gathered and decide on design and functionality criteria. This can be as simple as a theme carried across all marketing materials. You can present this strategy to the client to get approval or disapproval before heading on in the hopes of getting more creative direction.


Once you have a clear strategy, the idea is to then create preliminary design concepts based on the strategy you developed. Developing concepts can be done through various means when inspiration strikes, but here are some of the most effective.

  • Mind Mapping: A diagram that’s used to represent words, ideas, and tasks linked to your central idea. Encourages a brainstorming approach to planning and organizing tasks.
  • Storyboarding: Meant to pre-visualize a motion picture, animation, etc by organizing illustration in a sequence.
  • Free Writing: A great way to get your ideas down on paper and later expand on them.
  • Layout Creation: Sketch layouts from collected inspiration, play around with color schemes and typography until a direction strikes you, and then explore it more.

Develop several different concepts through the above methods. The idea here is to create as many different options before choosing the most viable one. Through the help of the client, these ideas can them be narrowed down to a couple of ideas for further development and refinement.


Often best presented as a PDF file with the design in context. It’s now the job of the client to review the designs and provide feedback based on their objectives and the needs of their target audience.

At this stage the designer is tasked with making changes to the aesthetic elements based on client’s request or putting the final touches on an agreed upon design.


With an approved design, the designer is now able to implement the finished piece across all deliverables, which may include both print and web. Depending on the project and/or media, the materials may often be handed off to a third-party, which includes:

  1. Prepress/Printer
  2. Media Outlet
  3. Launched on the Web

If it’s a web project, instructions and documentation may be required for administrative purposes, as well as Search Engine submission.


There’s nothing more rewarding than turning over a completed project to a satisfied client, so congratulate yourself.

You can know invoice your client the remaining bill for the project. Oftentimes this is best achieved through online invoicing software, which will help save time associated with putting together an invoice. One application that I personally recommend is Freshbooks.

With a solid process in place for completing a design project, you not only establish a closer relationship with your client, but you take a lot of the guesswork away when it comes down to creating something memorable for them. Consider it one less hurdle you have to overcome. Do you have a design process in place that you utilize with each new project? Feel free to share any tips with us that I may have missed.


On the divided left [Thoughts from Kansas]

Sir Charles says he's glad he didn't come to Netroots Nation this year. Reading about a panel on LGBT rights and immigration, he sees too many people claiming the President failed, rather than realism about the political system's current state:

It seems pretty clear to me that Obama is moving toward a pro-marriage equality stance. In the meantime, though, he has done more than enough to earn the spirited support of the gay rights community. However, even if you don't agree, a quick look at where the Republicans are on these issues and it seems to me that this should generate a sense of compelling urgency. Instead, you have someone like Aravosis pretending that there is some realistic tactical alternative to going all in for Obama and the Democrats. It's as if in 1964, the leaders of the civil rights movement were disappointed because LBJ had delivered only the Civil Rights Act and not the Voting Rights Act, and so, even in the face of Goldwater, decided to grudgingly and half-heartedly back Johnson, all the while diminishing the enthusiasm to vote of their followers
This is right and important. Watching the Netroots Nation interview with White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, I was glad to see him pressed to give straight answers to challenging questions, but a few too many questions framed as if the failure to accomplish progressive goals was the White House's fault. "Why are you still firing gay servicemembers?" is a fair question. The answer is that the repeal of DADT was conditioned on a process, and that process isn't done yet. They're trying to finish that process, but until then, there's not much to be done. The interviewer's "Oooookay" wasn't a followup or a rebuttal, but dismissed the answer as if it were spin, rather than political reality.

That doesn't serve the progressive movement well. We're the ones who are all about being reality-based. We're the policy wonks. We're the bloggers who try to shed light on the process, and to fix it. We can't abandon our reality-based assessments just because polls turn against us.

Fortunately, by the end of the conference, I think the tide started to turn. Partly, this is a reflection of the fact that those loud voices of opposition to the President are not representative of Netroots Nation attendees. Eight in ten NN attendees approve of the job the president's doing, and nationally, 82% of Democrats approve. As Matt Yglesias notes: "the proximate problem faced by would-be left-wing critics of President Obama is that they generally have much less credibility with the progressive constituency than the president does himself."

The progressive movement is in a different place today than they were in 2008, when I first attended Netroots Nation. That was a time of optimism, after the nomination fight and as candidate Obama was surging towards victory. We had the House and the Senate back, and once we took back the White House, we were sure we'd be able to fix everything. In 2009, we met as the healthcare fight bogged down in town hall meetings and teabag protests; we could laugh about the teabaggers, but it was clear that change wasn't going to be easy. Last year, it was clear that we'd lose seats in the House (and probably lose control), and that we might even lose control of the Senate. Legislating had ground to a halt, the healthcare reform which had passed was less than we hoped for, climate legislation was dead, immigration, civil rights for gays and lesbians, and a host of other issues were stalled.

Now, we have a Republican House, a narrow Senate majority undercut by conservative Senators and abuses of the filibuster blocking any action at all. There's reason to be frustrated, and there are steps the administration could be taking - but isn't - to force a contrast with Republicans and to advance the agenda it was elected for. But many of the biggest ticket items have to go through Congress, and we may have to wait until 2014 to elect Democratic majorities capable of doing the nation's work. Until then, the President needs us to clear the way for him to take the actions the nation needs. It's time for the people to lead, not for the left to eat itself.

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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


New Windows 8 leak hints at SMS support, feature licensing, geo-location

Considering its adoption of the Windows Phone metro style, its not surprising to hear that Windows 8's latest leaked build sports a metro-inspired virtual keyboard and traces of code that could bring SMS 3G enabled Windows 8 devices. An App store and feature licensing, however? That's interesting. Buried in the Windows 8 code, Microsoft enthusiasts have found strings that may hint at a Windows App store, and the ability to activate or deactivate certain OS features through that store. Will this be the end of "Home," "Pro," and "Ultimate" editions of Microsoft's flagship product? We wouldn't hold our breath. Still, Windows à la Carte doesn't sound half bad. Hit up the source link to see the code (and speculation) for yourself.

Continue reading New Windows 8 leak hints at SMS support, feature licensing, geo-location

New Windows 8 leak hints at SMS support, feature licensing, geo-location originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 20 Jun 2011 02:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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On the plus side, she wrote 'Welcome to the AAA Club!' in lipstick on the bathroom mirror, and left me a membership/roadside assistance card on the counter.

TiVo Android and iPhone apps in the works, Season Passes soon at your fingertips

Sure, it's technically been possible to manage one's TiVo via the mobile web for a half-decade now, but earlier methods were neither intuitive nor enthralling. Earlier this year, the company released its iPad app -- a diddy that showcases functions like remote control features, ToDo List prioritizing and Season Pass management. After hinting at a number of apps for smaller-screen devices (boasting all manners of operating systems), the latest print edition of CEPro has delivered solid intel that the aforesaid whispers are becoming reality. With Honeycomb slates dropping left, right and center, we're wondering if the Android build will target tablets first and smartphones later -- perhaps even a merged edition once Ice Cream Sandwich crawls from the freezer. Either way, it'll soon make recording season-long reruns of The Hills even easier for those living within iOS or Android ecosystems, including updates from the places you're too embarrassed to mention in public.

TiVo Android and iPhone apps in the works, Season Passes soon at your fingertips originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 19 Jun 2011 23:53:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The “onanistic, pathetically immature” kewl kidz

Hendrik Hertzberg has written a great piece on the Weiner scandal that you must read in its entirety. He talks about why it was different and why it created such a stir despite the fact that Weiner's main sin was in the documentation not the (fairly banal) acts themselves. Very interesting stuff.

But I'd like to comment on this specific observation:

Weiner's sins, being wholly online, basically onanistic, pathetically "immature," and totally without direct fleshly carnality, are literally ridiculous. They lack the swaggering macho that pushes more traditional, arguably crueler male transgressions - having affairs, whoring, fathering children out of wedlock - into the comparatively (though only comparatively) safer territory of "boys will be boys" and "men are like that."

One more factor that comes to mind: the particular media addictions of the political class. I suspect that, unlike normal people, a preponderance of that class - commentators, political reporters and editors, operatives, "strategists," aides, news producers, etc. - spends several hours of every day watching cable-news television (or having it drone and flicker in the background), reading political blogs, sending and receiving e-mails about the latest political uproar, and talking about same to other members of the same class, on the phone or face to face. Actual office-holding politicians don't necessarily have the time for all that, but they live inside the bubble it creates. The ambient atmosphere is one of constant overexcitement, hysteria, and sometimes unbearable tension, all focussed on the story of the day. That may be a reason why the protagonists of political scandals are dispatched more quickly and more mercilessly than in the past.

I think there's something to that. I live in the same atmosphere to a certain extent and I know that it craves excitement and stimulation. But the Weiner scandal exposes the real essence of the problem with beltway sex scandals and it's more than that. Indeed the words Herzberg uses to describe Weiner are the exact words I'd use to describe the press when one of these silly tabloid scandals erupt: "onanistic, pathetically immature." The juvenile glee with which they pore over the most salacious details is best described as Beavis and Butthead go to Washington

It must also be noted that the reason they seem to do this much more toward Democratic politicians is because they eagerly gobble the nasty little tid-bits they are fed by the likes of Andrew Breitbart or Drudge and his minions. (A notable exception was Mark Foley whose scandal was broken by gay activists who weren't afraid to pull that string.)That right wing noise machine (which also takes infantile delight in "dirty" behavior) is what propels these scandals into obsessions and feeds that tabloid cable energy.

It is no surprise to me that the nepotistic tribute hire, Luke Russert, seems to have made his bones (no pun intended) on this story. Weiner's sin, with all its trendy Facebookie-twittergasm was a virtual scandal fed by online vandal Andrew Breitbart. Russert's vacuous smirk was the perfect representation of the modern, virtual kewl kid ouvre.


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: transparent airplanes, photovoltaic subdivisions and a wind-powered yacht

Green transportation soared through the skies this week as Inhabitat reported on Airbus' plans for a transparent airplane, and we showcased a crazy working hover bike capable of flying up to 10,000 feet. We were also excited to see China begin to roll out high-speed rail across Asia and we spotted several out-of-this world Frankenstein vehicles -- a Mercedes-Benz bus train in Bolivia and a wind-powered yacht that doubles as an airplane.

It was a momentous week for energy news as well, as Italians voted to end the use of nuclear power, and we took a look inside Germany's Wunderland Kalkar Amusement Park, which is built inside of a decommissioned nuclear plant. Solar power also had its moment in the sun as Enfinity unveiled two gorgeous photovoltaic-laden landscapes in Les Mées, France and Bangladesh announced that one million of the country's homes are powered by photovoltaic panels. We even spotted a new type of flexible generator that could be built into shoes to produce power as you walk.

This week we were also excited to unveil the winners of our Bright Ideas Lighting Design Competition -- the elegant geometric Tetra Pak Lamp, the gorgeous glowing Nourishment Lamp, and the cute cork Pinha Pendant Light. We also launched our new Ask a Tech Geek Series where gadget guru extraordinaire Peter Rojas answers your questions about green technology, and we reported on one Japanese researcher's dubious plan to create an artificial meat substitute from poop. Finally, we shared an awesome steampunk rotary smartphone and a set of fun foldable Paper Punk robots that are perfect for terrorizing your coworkers' cubicles.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: transparent airplanes, photovoltaic subdivisions and a wind-powered yacht originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 19 Jun 2011 21:47:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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