Archive for April, 2012



April 27, 2012

Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been a busy with the whole job searching/interviewing/comparing offers bit. With only two months left on my non-compete, it was time for me to start investigating my options.

And then my mom came to visit for a few days. We saw fire dancing, which was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in the city.



April 5, 2012

For some reason, just recently (as in the 6 months), there seems to be an overwhelming number of articles written along the lines of “why everyone should learn to code“. And places like CodeAcademy are making it a lot easier. But should basic concepts of computer programming be required in school? I’m not convinced yet.

The basic argument is that computers and technology are going to (if they don’t already) run our lives. And something so ubiquitous in the world should be understood on some basic level. Otherwise, you risk being taken advantage of by people (programmers) who do know what’s going on and are the ones building all those apps you use.

John Naughton even goes as far as outlining the concepts he thinks need to be learned:

algorithms (the mathematical recipes that make up programs); cryptography (how confidential information is protected on the net); machine intelligence (how services such as YouTube, NetFlix, Google and Amazon predict your preferences); computational biology (how the genetic code works); search (how we find needles in a billion haystacks); recursion (a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem); and heuristics (experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning, and discovery)

Now, I took computer classes in school. My school system had required typing classes in middle school (they covered our hands so we had to type without looking) and I did three years of elective computer science classes in high school. In fact, I dropped out of advanced english classes to learn programming. Then I took a fundamental computer science class and some web design classes in college. That all gave me a pretty solid foundation.┬áBut I’m not convinced my background has better prepared me for this world than the rest of the kids who didn’t elect to take those classes. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn about all the above concepts.

I’m all for making programming classes available to students. Just like kids should have access to physics and calculus and various literature classes. Let’s be honest though – there’s a lot of science going on around me every day that is way beyond any basics I learned in high school. And I’m getting through life pretty well.

Kids are growing up on technology now. I had dial up internet through a good chunk of high school; I didn’t get a cell phone until college. But imagine if you started using an iPad before preschool, and you’ve only ever known internet banking, and every social networking site you join has hundreds of privacy settings. Kids are growing up with a different awareness about computers and how to interact with them and how troubleshoot problems and how much information they give away. They’ll learn what they need to know – just like you learn when you need to go to the doctor and when you can just sit on the couch.

My only exception is typing classes. I’m not even sure if that’s necessary for kids who will grow up on computers at home. But typing in the correct position without looking (and fast) is a skill that will, without a doubt, be a necessary life skill. Like using a telephone and basic multiplication.

Also, this video is one of my memories from my first high school computer science class.



April 2, 2012

One of the tricky things I encountered when moving to San Francisco was having to find new healthcare providers. A new OB/GYN, a new dentist, a new eye doctor, a new primary care physician (though I haven’t gone to a primary care doctor in forever). So I did the search to find a provider in my network, and scheduled an appointment. But how do I make the decision of which doctor to see? I don’t want to waste my time and money seeing someone who I won’t trust or who’s not friendly or who rushes through my appointment.

Enter patient satisfaction surveys. It’s the new thing to survey patients on things like if their medications were explained to them, if the doctor is addressing your concerns, things like that. In fact, Medicare is starting to use these survey scores as part of their reimbursement equation. That’s a big deal.

Of course, providers are getting nervous. In a New York Times article, an oncology nurse talks about how “hospitals aren’t hotels” – it’s often not the most pleasant experience. No doubt, in an oncology unit, that’s by far the majority of the time. So the fear is that when you have patients, who aren’t going to have the best outcome or who are going to undergo a painful treatment, how are they going to rate your hospital? Doctors sometimes need to be “cruel to be kind in the right measure“. Fair question. Patients as reviewers could easily be vindictive. I didn’t like the dentist who told me I had five cavities. And I’ve definitely written my fair share of negative restaurant reviews on Yelp.

But the point, isn’t to do a patient’s bidding and make sure they’re happy as a clam. It’s there to make sure patients are getting a quality level of communication and understanding of their hospital visit. I think it will be valuable for hospitals and providers to get this kind of feedback. It might be a problem they don’t even know is happening. I’m all for it, even though I’ll stick to recommendations for finding a new provider.