Free app for Crohn’s and Colitis patients

Free app for Crohn’s, colitis patients
CBC News
July 25, 2011

Toronto’s SickKids creates myIBD to monitor bowel diseases

The myIBD phone app helps patients track their food, stool and bathroom breaks.

Teens and parents dealing with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis now have a mobile app that will help them manage their disease and seek help sooner if something is wrong courtesy of staff at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

The free app helps patients track their pain, food, stool and frequency of bathroom visits on their mobile devices. It also provides access to educational tools and the latest information on managing their symptoms.

More than 200,000 Canadians suffer from Crohn’s or colitis, known as IBDs or inflammatory bowel diseases, which can be debilitating.

“Some days I’d go to the washroom up to 20 times,” says 18-year-old Calandra Carkner, who has Crohn’s. “I was exhausted, in constant pain and afraid.”

Staff at SickKids say they noticed that patients and families of young children with IBD were missing “red flags” when it came to symptoms and flare-ups. That led Karen Frost and her colleagues, Dr. Johan Van Limbergen and Meaghan Wright of the Department of Gastroenterology at the hospital to create the app.

“MyIBD offers a visual tracking system so patients can monitor their disease activity and seek help when necessary – sooner, rather than later,” said Frost in a statement released Monday.

Calandra says the app helps her understand the triggers such as stress or a particular food and gives her some control and lets her focus on her life.

SickKids has arranged for myIBD to be available in the APP Store for iPhones, iPad and the iPod touch and will be available to Android devices later this year.

Discussion continues at

Metalhead gets disability pay for heavy-metal addiction

Metalhead gets disability pay for heavy-metal “addiction”
by Adriana Barton, Globe and Mail
Monday, July 25, 2011

Never mess with a man’s Metallica – let alone his Iron Maiden and AC/DC.

In Sweden, a dishwasher has succeeded in having his heavy-metal habit declared an addiction requiring disability payments, reports The Local, a Swedish news site.

Roger Tullgren, 42, says he consulted three psychologists to obtain statements confirming the depth of his heavy-metal dependency. “I have been trying for 10 years to get this classified as a handicap,” he told a reporter. The heavily tattooed metalhead says his compulsion to attend up to 300 concerts last year left him out of work and on welfare.

Now his part-time income will be supplemented by state benefits. What’s more, his boss has agreed to give Mr. Tullgren time off to see shows as long as he makes it up later. And the hard-rocking dishwasher is allowed to play metal on the job – “but not too loud when there are guests,” he notes.

The musicophile reportedly got hooked at age two when his older brother came home with a Black Sabbath album.

But as odd as his obsession sounds, it’s hardly the kookiest addiction out there.

Growing 24-inch fingernails, eating drywall and performing non-stop ventriloquism are among the weird compulsions highlighted in the TLC reality show My Strange Addiction.

Treatment generally involves urging addicts to kick the habit: In uber-liberal Swedish, the state could be accused of enabling Mr. Tullgren’s addiction by accommodating his heavy-metal lifestyle.

It’s enough to turn any employer into a headbanger – against a wall.

File under “The World Gets Weirder and Weirder”.

Discussion continues at

Blockheaded research, blockheaded conclusions

When you do simple-minded research, expect to draw simple-minded, blockheaded, and just plain wrong conclusions. What’s worse is the potential damage reports of such research can do to those with mental health conditions in need of treatment.

Case in point… the following description of a McMaster research study from TriCity Psychology Blog:

Anti-Depressants Raise Relapse Risk?
TriCity Psychology Blog
July 20, 2011

Patients who use anti-depressants are much more likely to suffer relapses of major depression than those who use no medication at all, concludes a McMaster researcher.

In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression. Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant. Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.

Andrews believes depression may actually be a natural and beneficial — though painful – state in which the brain is working to cope with stress. “There’s a lot of debate about whether or not depression is truly a disorder, as most clinicians and the majority of the psychiatric establishment believe, or whether it’s an evolved adaptation that does something useful,” he says.

This is seriously blockheaded research.

1. Patients who take antidepressants also tend to be more seriously depressed and probably more prone to depression via personality factors and coping skills than those who don’t.

2. Patients who take antidepressants and discontinue them prematurely, typically at about 6 months when they start to feel better, are unquestionably at risk for relapse. They mayu be feeling better but that doesn’t mean theyc are ready to discontinue the medication. Prior research has already demonstrated quite convincingly that those who remain on the antipdepressant medication for 1-2 years are significantly LESS likely to relapse.

“There’s a lot of debate about whether or not depression is truly a disorder, as most clinicians and the majority of the psychiatric establishment believe, or whether it’s an evolved adaptation that does something useful,” he says.

Oh, really? Maybe in the seriously ill-informed world of Andrews and his immediate colleagures. Out in the real world, I’ve never heard of this so-called debate.

Discussion continued at


After years in a coma, DMOZ/ODP finally pronounced dead

Final Nail In The Google Directory Coffin
by Barry  Schwartz, Search Engine Land
Jul 20, 2011

In 2008, Google removed directory links from Webmaster Tools and in December 2010, Google dropped the search box from the Google directory.

Today, Google has completely removed the Google Directory as a Google service. Going to will show you a notice that reads the “Google Directory is no longer available”. Yesterday the directory was live but today, Google quietly and without warning removed it.

In  truth, DMOZ/ODP has been of historical interest only to anyone but the  increasingly shrinking in-group that constitutes DMOZ editors for years. Their  claim to importance in recent years has been the desperate claim that Google still thought they had value – despite the fact that Google had pretty much stopped updating the listings in their cloned version a long time ago. Now clearly, DMOZ exists only to continue to feed the pathetic egos of its

R.I.P. DMOZ. We hardly knew ye.

More from Barry Schwartz…

The Available Parent

The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens
by Dr. John Duffy
Viva Editions; ISBN 978-1-57344-657-0

The process of transitioning from child to adult is sometimes as difficult for parents as it is for their children. In his new book, Dr. Duffy provides a framework for parents to navigate these tricky years with a minimum of anger and conflict.

“As the parent of a teenager your top priority – before anything else – is to stay in touch with your rapidly changing youngster. Staying in touch is the essence of what Dr. Duffy means by availability.” ~ Dr. Thomas W. Phelan, Forward

This book is written in a clear no-nonsense style using observations and examples from Dr. Duffy’s work with youth and their families. More than anything else, it is obvious that he understands the teenage “mind” and the psychological and social factors involved in changing children into adults.

Dr. Duffy aptly captures the vicious cycle:

Conventional wisdom dictates that teenagers are poor communicators, and that they often stop talking with parents altogether. In my experience, however, I’ve found that a parent’s anxiety about raising a teenager too often gets the better of him, such that he is less available to his teenager. I would argue that, more often than not, the teenager then responds to his parent’s unwillingness to listen to and communicate with him appropriately and effectively… In fact, teen after teen has expressed this sentiment to me over the years. Parents find themselves judging their teenagers, and wanting them to be somebody different than they are… Through the judgment and emotional baggage they themselves bring to the relationship, parents too often limit their ability to communicate with influence and enjoy the relationship with their child.

Teenagers are left feeling unheard and misunderstood, and parents are left feeling bewildered by the changes in their child and their sudden lack of effectiveness as parents. The parent has become unavailable, the teen responds in kind, and a negative and often destructive cycle of communication begins.

But he also describes in clear terms why the changes in your child are required in order for her to mature into a normal, fully functioning adult:

First and foremost, you need to know that developmentally your adolescent is, by nature, highly egocentric. Yes it is all about him! He is not yet expert at taking the perspective of someone else, including you.

There is a very important and simple reason for this. All children are born egocentric. The universe really does revolve around the child, even to the point where objects (including people) in that universe are not yet perceived as having independent existence. They are simply extensions of the infant child, there to serve her needs. As that child grows from infancy through childhood to adolescence and finally adulthood, she gradually acquires, first, the recognition that those other beings and objects have independent existence and that other people have their own needs and thoughts and feelings and reactions to the world around all of us. The ability to do this – to feel empathy, to see things through another person’s eyes, to sympathize, to feel remorse, to be able to predict the logical consequences of one’s own actions, and to inhibit one’s own impulses or delay gratification of those impulses – all of these capacities reside primarily in the frontal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobe is that last part of the brain to develop from an evolutionary perspective and the most underdeveloped part of the brain at birth. It continues to grow throughout childhood and adolescence, and even into the mid-twenties.

[The teenager’s] job is separation and individuation, developing a sense of himself in the context of relationships, and learning to cope with stress and manage his emotions. It vis here, during adolescence, that your teenager learns self-motivation, self-starting, self-control, and frustration tolerance. He will also explore the trial-and-error method of experimenting with new things, and truly creative thinking. He may try different looks, linguistic styles, music, and so on. While traversing this terrain, your teen may seem difficult, irrationally emotional, contradictory, opinionated, and angry. If you pay attention, you will find that he can also be brilliant, insightful, and empathic at the same time.

For parents, this is probably the most difficult part. It may appear as though your teen is rejecting everything you believe in and stand for. It may appear as if your teen is rejecting you. And in a sense, that is true – temporarily.

On some level, teenage minds actively work against taking your perspective into consideration. They have been working from the foundation of your perspective, your values, and your timetables their entire lives. During the course of adolescence, they begin to develop their own values, interests, styles, and perspectives. To do so, they often try on different ways of being. You have probably seen this in your child and perhaps written off these developmental steps as “phases’. The label is less important than the fact that your teen needs to go through them in order to find himself and to hear his own voice… the vast majority of the time, this is a normal and very important development.

This is a book I could have written myself, in that it echoes the advice I have given to many parents of teens over the years in my practice. But as one of my students once told me, “You snooze. You lose.”, and Dr. Duffy has beaten me to the finish line.

I highly recommend this book to parents and practitioners alike.

See also:

Google accuses Bing; Bing deflects accusations; Google strangely silent

In a move that seemed more like college dorm intrigue than research or detective work, Google set up a rather silly sting in search terms for rare or nonexistent words and then claimed that for these infrequent search terms about 9% showed up in Bing’s search results. Based on this rather flimsy “evidence”, they accused Bing of copying their search results.

Danny Sullivan has an excellent article laying out what actually happened, why Google’s accusations were wrong, and how this has created an embarrassing situation for Google:

Bing: Why Google’s Wrong In Its Accusations

The scheme backfired because in the course of defending themselves against Google’s accusation, Bing has disclosed how they use the “clickstream” generated by their Bing Toolbar as part of the data they feed their algorithms.

Now the pressure is on for Google to do the same. Google at first denied they use such data at all but then had to retreat and admit they do use it to determine page load speeds. How else do they use the data? So far, Google is being notably quiet on the subject.

See also Danny Sullivan’s followup post, Turning The Tables On The Google Toolbar & Disclosure Claims

Google Finally Admits Toolbar Data is a Ranking Signal
by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land
February 16, 2011

Many SEOs have long believed that Google uses data it collects from the Google Toolbar to influence search results. Now Google has finally confirmed it.