In whichever hemisphere you dwell, winter is the time of year when viruses come into their own. Cold weather forces people indoors, crowding them together in buildings and creating a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of viruses. Everything from the common cold to influenza spread quickly during the cold months, spreading misery and debilitation far and wide.
In addition to the usual cocktail of bugs making their annual appearance, this year a new virus appeared. Novel coronavirus 2019, or 2019-nCoV, cropped up first in the city of Wuhan in east-central China. From a family of viruses known to cause everything from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in humans, 2019-nCoV tends toward the more virulent side of the spectrum, causing 600 deaths out of 28,000 infections reported so far, according to official numbers at the time of this writing.
(For scale: the influenzas hit tens of millions of people, resulting in around four million severe illnesses and 500,000 deaths per season, worldwide.)
With China’s unique position in the global economy, 2019-nCoV has the potential to seriously disrupt manufacturing. It may seem crass to worry about something as trivial as this when people are suffering, and of course our hearts go out to the people who are directly affected by this virus and its aftermath. But just like businesses have plans for contingencies such as this, so too should the hacking community know what impact something like 2019-nCoV will have on supply chains that we’ve come to depend on.
Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: What’s Your Coronavirus Supply Chain Exposure?”
Of all the lessons that life hands us, one of the toughest is that you can be right about something but still come up holding the smelly end of the stick. Typically this is learned early in life, but far too many of us avoid this harsh truth well into adulthood. And in those cases where being right is literally a matter of life or death, it’s even more difficult to learn that lesson.
For Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician-scientist in the mid-19th century, failure to learn that being right is attended by certain responsibilities had a very high cost. Ironically it would also save the lives of countless women with a revolutionary discovery that seems so simple today as to be self-obvious: that a doctor should wash his hands before seeing patients.
Continue reading “Publish Or Perish: The Sad Genius Of Ignaz Semmelweis”
Diabetes is a disease that, among other things, has significant effects on the feet due to a combination of neuropathy, vascular issues, and other factors. You may have seen special diabetes socks with features like non-elasticated cuffs for better circulation and a lack of seams to prevent the formation of blisters. Taking care of your feet is essential in diabetes to prevent injury and infection. Ebers is a project that seeks to help in just this area.
Ebers monitors plantar pressure, temperature, and humidity in the sole of the shoe. It then feeds this data back to a smartphone for analysis over Bluetooth. The brain of the project is an Arduino Pro Mini which is tasked with interfacing with the various sensors.
The project relies on 3D printed insoles which fit inside the shoe of the wearer. This is a particularly useful application of 3D printing, as it means the insole can be customised to fit the individual, rather than relying on a smaller selection of pre-sized forms. This has the additional benefit of allowing the insole to be designed to minimise pressure on the foot in the first place, further reducing the likelihood of injury and infection. The pressure sensing is actually built into the insole itself, and can measure pressure at several different areas of the foot.
Overall, it’s a project with huge potential health benefits for those with diabetes. We look forward to seeing where this project goes in future, and how it can bring improvements to the quality of life for people the world over.
Silverleaf Medical products has created an electric wound dressing that staves off infection by killing microbes in an open wound and preventing other germs from getting in.
They call it the CMB Antimicrobial Wound Dressing, and it is made of polyester fabric woven with a proprietary material called Prosit. When the bandage is moistened, the Prosit generates a low voltage, killing germs in the wound. One of these bandages can be worn for 3 days at a time, and their clinical trials indicate that they are highly effective in treating infected wounds. Take a look at their brochure (PDF file) for some informative and stomach-turning before and after photos.
StopBadware.org has released their May 2008 Infected Sites Report(PDF). They took their current list of 213K active badware websites and resolved the IP addresses. These addresses were used to determine the network block owner and country. The results could be skewed to networks Google scans more often, but they should give a decent overall picture. China hosts 52% of all the badware sites while the U.S. has 21%. There weren’t any other countries maintaining over 4% of the total. They also calculated the number of infected sites per capita, which China also led. Last year’s report resulted in several AS block maintainers cleaning up to the point that they don’t even make the top 250 this year.