The Forefront of Biology

December 18, 2021 at 11:53 am | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

A couple of good talks on recent health research.

Resetting DNA to correct coding errors and slow aging.


A TED conversation on using the bodies electrical blueprints to restore health. Fascinating research on how the cells know what pattern to build. They mention morphogenic fields, a model developed by Rupert Sheldrake.

David

The Brazilian Food Guide

May 5, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Recently, I watched the Nature of Things CBC-TV show that highlighted the Brazilian Food Guide.

The Five Principles the guide used to set the guidelines:
1) Diet is more than intake of nutrients
2) Dietary recommendations need to be tuned to their times
3) Healthy diets derive from socially and environmentally
sustainable food systems
4) Different sources of knowledge inform sound dietary
advice
5) Dietary guidelines broaden autonomy in food choices

Rather than categorizing foods by type (meat, dairy, vegetables, etc.), the guide categorizes by quality, according to four levels of processing:

  1. Natural or minimally processed foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, nuts).
  2. Oils, fats, salt, and sugar are processed culinary ingredients (butter, cooking oil).
  3. Processed foods (canned vegetables, pickled foods, cured meat, cheese, typical bread).
  4. Ultra-processed foods with industrial ingredients (snacks, cookies, flavored yogurts, soda, instant and fast foods, animal byproducts, etc). If an ingredient has a chemical name, it’s a chemical.

Thus, Four Recommendations:

1) Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of
your diet
2) Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts for seasoning and cooking foods and to create culinary preparations
3) Limit the use of processed foods, consuming them in small
amounts as ingredients in culinary preparations or as part
of meals based on natural or minimally processed foods
4) Avoid ultra-processed foods entirely. “Ultra-processed foods damage culture, social life, and the environment.”

Their Golden Rule: “Always prefer natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made dishes and meals to ultra-processed foods.”

The guide goes on to offer meal suggestions.

The also recommend several Modes of Eating:

  • Eating regularly and carefully. Regular times, at the table, eat slowly and with attention.
  • Eating in appropriate environments. Clean, comfortable, and quiet without stimulus to overeat.
  • Eating in company, share in prep and eating.

The guide also explores obstacles to following it.

And finally, they suggest 10 Steps to a Healthy Diet:

1) Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet

2) Use oils, fats, sugar, and salt in small amounts

3) Limit consumption of processed foods and drinks

4) Avoid ultra-processed foods

5) Eat regular meals in appropriate environments and eat with others. Avoid snacking or treating a meal as a snack

6) Shop where you can get a variety of natural foods

7) Develop, practice, and share cooking skills

8) Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life – it’s for your well-being and longevity

9) Away from home, prefer places that serve freshly-made food

10) Be wary of food marketing

guide cover

The Brazilian Guide (pdf)

Canada recently revised it’s food guide as well. They were clearly influenced by the Brazilian approach as they added cooking more and eating with others. They didn’t depart from the food-types approach but they did de-emphasize meat and dairy, shifting to a broader protein approach that accounts for a broader dietary range.

David

Going Secure with your Website

March 23, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Once upon a time on the Internet, you only needed to secure your website if you were selling on-line. Often you linked to another website to do this for you. Yet browsing any unsecured website, especially on public WiFi, can easily be snooped. To make your activity more secure, web browsers are increasing their warnings about ANY site that doesn’t have a security certificate. The little “i” beside the web address is soon to go red and add warnings on many, many websites.

As this initiative is being driven partly by Google, having a certificate also helps search engine rankings. If you have a free blog like this one on WordPress.com or on Blogger or similar, you’ll see they’ve gone to https already.

But if you host your own website, you may want to consider securing your site with an SSL certificate so this issue will not chase away viewers.

This Webnames article talks about the changes and what the browser warnings will look like.

This article talks about the kinds of certificates that are available. If you have a simple informational site, you’ll just need a basic domain validation type. But if you use sub-domains or have multiple sites, other options are available.

You can get a free certificate, but they have to be renewed often and have no support or insurance. If you have forms of any kind, including subscription or contact, paid will be more reliable. A basic paid certificate is a similar price to a domain name which makes it worth the small cost.

While you can install any certificate on your site, it’s easier to go with the options your hosting provider offers. This way, you also get their support and they’ll describe the steps on their servers. The process is fussy so that’s valuable. Give yourself time to sort out the bugs.

Here is a typical process. It will vary by host, server OS, and security vendor.

Step 1: Ordering the certificate you need. For example, I went to the SSL section of my host’s website and ordered there.

Step 2: Certificate Signing Request key: Typically, you’ll generate a CSR, then enter it into a form with your organizational info. This may be in 2 places on your host’s site.

Step 3: Often, there is then steps to set the certificate up in your website Control Panel under SSL or Security.

Step 4: Verify with the certificate provider. For example, they’ll email you a code to paste into a form to verify yourself. The certificate will then be Issued and emailed to you. Your site back end will be updated as well.

Step 5: Install the certificate. You then need to upload the certificate you received, usually into the form in step 3. Then you can select the certificate for your domain in your hosting control panel. Thus your site is certified secure.

Step 6: Site seal. You can then place a logo on your site to show your certification. This requires Header code, so I installed the “Insert Headers and Footers” plugin. (This can also be used for Google Analytics, Facebook pixel and so forth.)

You’re now officially secured. Run an SSL checker like this one, this one or this certificate detailed one to make sure everything is correct. Each reports a little differently.

But…
Odds are good that your site is full of old http addresses like images and back links. Thus, you’ll get a “mixed content” error and still won’t get the green lock or similar in a web browser – even if the SSL checks out perfectly.

This article lists some of the fixes needed (you can ignore the Cloudflare section if you’re not using them – skip to Enforcing SSL).

The temporary fix here was:
a) installing “SSL Insecure context fixer” plugin.
(Run the test first. It’s in the Dashboard, Tools menu. That tells you how to set it.)

b) In my case, the Custom HTML widgets needed to be updated to https links too.

If you’re still having issues, this tool identifies specific link errors.

As the above article mentions, you also want to update your website address on Dashboard, Settings, General to https. Also update your website links on social media sites.

Later, I’ll run a ‘search and replace‘ on the database to update all those image and internal links from http://domain.ca to https://domain.ca. Then I won’t need the plugin.

You can also use the “Broken Links Checker” plugin to check for redirected links, but I wouldn’t leave this plugin activated as it pumps the database too much and will slow your site.

Safe Surfing!
David

UPDATE:
When I migrated another site to a new domain a few years ago, I logged into the database, installed a special program, and ran a search and replace to update the domain for all the internal links. I then removed the program for security reasons.

This time, I took a newer, easier route and installed Better Search Replace plugin inside WordPress. After exporting the database as a backup, I ran a test. It found over 12,000 links to update (from http://domain.com to https://domain.com). I then ran the update and in a couple of minutes all was done.

I then deactivated the SSL Insecure Context Fixer plugin and ran a few SSL checking tools (all mentioned above) to confirm all was fixed.

I then activated Broken Links Checker to do a once over and fix random errors, like incorrect URLs entered into comment forms. I’ll deactivate this afterwards as it tends to bog a site down.

Had I known about the search and replace plug-ins sooner, I would have skipped the “temporary fix” above and done this directly. However, if there is an issue with the results, the SSL Fixer plugin can still be a great help to keep your lock green.

The Changing Landscape of Employment

March 23, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

Periodically, I write about trends in work and the economy. For example, The New Unemployed or Changing Jobs.

Fully half of all current jobs are expected to be automated or replaced by new technology within the next decade. I recently posted a related article about changes to energy and transportation.

In a TED talk by economist Daniel Susskind, he explores misconceptions and consequences of automation. How do we distribute wealth other than through work?
(For some reason the talk video is not posted on YouTube and the TED code doesn’t work now.)

In this TED talk, Anthony Goldbloom explores which jobs we’ll lose and which not. Machine learning makes the difference – is the task novel or is it about frequent, high-volume tasks a machine can learn? Already, computers can diagnose disease and mark exams better than humans. They’re learning to drive cars and anticipate our desires too.

On YouTube

I’d recommend people get much better guidance on their skills and aptitudes. Often, these are not obvious without considerable experimentation. We can be blind to what comes naturally to us. Yet working at what we’re naturally good at can make a huge difference in quality of life and benefit to society.

We would all benefit immensely if talented creatives, philosophers, healers and spiritual adepts didn’t have to seek other paid work to support themselves.
How all this will play out remains to be seen.
David

How Many Stars Are There?

October 9, 2017 at 11:28 am | Posted in Science, Space, uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve always enjoyed things that bring perspective on our place in the universe and the nature of space around us. I’ve posted on The Ultra Deep Field, How Our Solar System Actually Moves, Lanikea: Our Home Supercluster, Across the Universe, Quite Enough (on scale), and more.

A new treat: The European Southern Observatory is hosting a Gigapixel image of the Milky Way. You can shift it to full screen if you like. As you zoom and zoom, more and more stars show at every point. You can click and drag the image or use the tools across the bottom. Consider this a photo of our galactic neighborhood. It gives you more of a sense of just how large it is. Many of those points of light have planets.
David

 

Clean Disruption: Energy & Transportation

September 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 4 Comments

I recently gave a short talk on the three aspects of new transportation technology that are coming together to change the industry dramatically – even as far as how we get around. Will “driving” and car ownership be only for serious hobbyists?

In this talk, Tony Seba goes much further plus he explores the changes in the energy sector as well. He shows the science behind the changes underway and how some of this is already happening today. For the most part, the changes mean a cleaner environment and lower cost energy and transportation. But there will be a lot of job changes in the process. Key is that the disruption is not driven by technology, it’s driven by economics.

If you’re drafting a 5 year plan, you need to see this.

On YouTube

David

3D Doodling

July 26, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ever wished you could make something with silly string? Have more control over the spray? Or a glue gun? How about a pen with a controlled output? That allows you to draw in the air. This video illustrates:

Note that it’s not wireless. And like a glue gun, you put the coloured plastic in the back that the pen melts for you to form as you choose. They currently offer 3 kinds of plastic to use for different kinds of projects. For example, plastic that sticks to a surface like glass and plastic that doesn’t, for making panels. You can trace structural drawings and them assemble them. You can even use it on clothing or to make clothing & wearables.

This is similar in concept to a 3D printer only it’s pen style – a little less precise but also less expensive and more creative.

The sticks are about .40 each (depending on type) so cheap for a little fun but could add up for a larger project. They also have additional nozzles and a pedal control. The site has lots of video tutorials including using the tool, getting started, welding plastics, etc.

I notice there are some online sites offering an earlier version or the plastic refills for quite a bit more $. So it pays to compare prices.
David

CHIPping Away

May 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

I wrote previously about CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) and some of the science behind CHIP. I also wrote a related article on Minimizing Cancer Risk, basically with much the same recommendations.

The first articles were written early on in the course. As the course has progressed, we’ve gone into much more detail on various things, like the value of fibre and micronutrients vs calorie-dense foods. We’ve explored the major effect lifestyle has on issues like heart disease, diabetes and cancer plus cleared up some nutritional myths about protein, calcium, iron and vitamins.

If we look at the bigger picture of our health and well-being, it works out that about 70% of it is determined by our lifestyle choices. In other words, the bulk of our health is in our hands.

Another 10% is influenced by our genetics. But more important than our genes is gene expression. The study of gene expression is known as epigenetics. Just because we have a gene doesn’t mean it will be expressed.

For example, every cell has the entire set of genes. But an ear cell doesn’t need to express any of the genes that create proteins specific to brains, gut or eyes. Those genes are turned off. And the largest influence on gene expression? Nutrition.

Makes sense if you consider that our diet is what gives the body both it’s building blocks and many of the challenges it has to deal with. Change the gene expression and it changes your body. This is why even identical twins get increasingly different over their lives – small differences is choices. They add up. And you have a choice.

Sometimes you see diseases that are “passed down” in families. We may blame genetics but what is something else we pass down? Lifestyles, including diet and activity levels. These typically have a stronger effect on our life than our genes themselves do. In other words, it’s not so much what we have but how we use it.

We also explored how beliefs drive feelings and feelings drive behaviour. Becoming conscious of some of our old beliefs around food and exercise can be very useful. Say for example, “I hate broccoli”. I certainly once felt this way. But finally as an adult I discovered that I don’t actually, especially if it’s served with a squeeze of lemon.

Another common example is around exercise. Many of us have tried exercise routines that became difficult or a chore. We then associate exercise as unpleasant and something to avoid. And yet gyms are full of people who get a high on it.

The key with making changes to diet and exercise is to make the process pleasurable. Otherwise, you’ll develop an aversion to it. The key challenge is moving past the initial inertia in getting your body moving again. Once you do, then it becomes pleasant. When you get into the zone, pleasurable. The it becomes much easier to establish it as a habit.

As most exercise and goal setting programs tell you, take it a step at a time. Grow into it.

I’ve been really enjoying the walking and notice I’ve gradually increased how far I go effortlessly. And the program has now upped the ante. They noted that exercising an hour a day and then sitting 10 hours will not help your health as much. We have to break up all that sitting. Key is adding routines, like a stretching program and a gentle resistance/ strength training routine. In other words, building a more well-rounded exercise routine.

This increases fitness further and helps with weight loss and health maintenance.
We’re in the last 1/3 of the course now…
David

DNA Testing – Part 2

March 1, 2015 at 11:46 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 1 Comment

In the first part of this series, I talked about personal DNA testing and the available options. I ended up choosing 23andMe to include the health markers.

It’s worth noting that humans are 99% the same genetically. What the tests look at is parts of the 1% of genes that vary person-to-person. The different organizations vary on the focus of the genes they read. 23andMe looks more at health while FTDNA more at the family tree, as per their name.

The process is straightforward. As noted, you buy a test kit and they mail it to you. You take the simple sample and register the kit to yourself on their web site. And you mail it back in, prepaid. They let me know when it is received by the actual lab. (from Canada, they appear to gather the samples and batch ship them across the border) 4-6 weeks later, you get notified of the results on-line. And there is quite a bit of info.

This includes detail on quite a few areas. There’s your Maternal and Paternal (if you’re a male) lines (Haplotypes), genetic risk factors, drug response, inherited conditions, and traits. There is general ancestry info and and some ancestry composition. I was amused to see a connection with Doggerland, a now-submerged area that once connected France and England.

They accurately named eye colour, hair colour, blood type, and more. Birth weight range was wrong. I saved over 2 dozen reports. Even got to download the “music” of my DNA. Keep in mind that much of this is still quite early on but is growing rapidly.

They also have some experimental tools for exploring health and ancestry in various ways, like comparing your DNA to someone you’ve agreed to connect with. Once you’re in the system, information will be updated as new studies are integrated.

There are also various quizzes to help add support the research. And permission requests to share your DNA anonymously with researchers. You have control how much sharing is done at all points and can change your mind. And you choose if you want to even see some of the heath reports.

Because close relatives had already done the test, I didn’t expect surprises and there were none. Pretty generic average health stuff which I realized was a very good thing. Hardy stock, as they say, that was “successful”.

In my case, I elected to connect with genetic relatives, which includes the ones I know who have tested. And they show up in the system so you can invite them, connection by connection, to compare where you’re in common. This is quite distinct even from sibling to sibling. There was a small number of close relatives, some I don’t know, then hundreds of 4th and further cousins.

I’ve also uploaded my DNA to another system and will have those results in a couple of weeks. FTDNA can’t take the new V4 chip version of 23andMe but can accept older V3 results. I plan to research several other sites mentioned in the first article and may do a follow-up article here after more of this is digested.

It’s a fascinating exploration. And the more people that test, the more results they’ll have and the more research is supported.

Meanwhile here’s an interesting story where DNA results revealed that siblings were not related to the rest of their family. Turns out, their father had been switched at birth.
David

Windows 8 Revisited

February 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments

Back in the day, I wrote an article on Windows 8 and decided to avoid this Windows version. Many others did the same. It was designed for touch devices and I’m still very much a desktop keyboard & mouse power user. I’m used to multitasking various system intensive programs like PhotoShop, optical disc burning, and so forth. My tablet (Android) mostly gathers dust, though would see more use for reading had I the time. It’s also great for photo albums and other causal uses.

Recently however, the laptop I got for grad school has been running hot, a little burdened by years of long days. Windows 7 is now being phased out and is just getting security fixes. Windows 10 is yet to come (later this year). Other OS’s would require a major investment in time and money to shift to. And in the meantime, some of the tech authors who balked at Windows 8 originally have gradually shifted to it themselves. Especially with some of the fixes of v8.1.

Key to a reasonably happy transition is a few key changes. On a non-touch device you want to default to the desktop. And you want a Start menu to get at stuff in familiar ways.

There are several Start menu replacement programs out there that shift the startup to the desktop. Well recommended is the $5 Stardock Start8. I decided on the free Classic Shell as it has a few specific features I like, like a File Explorer toolbar. Both allow lots of customization to taste with several style options. For really simple, you can just r-click the Taskbar/ Properties/ Navigation tab and select to default to the Desktop. But I think you’ll find the Start menu useful unless you use very few programs.

Then there’s just a few small adaptations, like finding “Charms” where a lot of settings are found – the top right corner of the screen or by pressing Win-C. Win-X brings up a power users menu, with access to many back end settings. Win-F brings up Search.

Windows 8 starts Much faster than Win7. Add in an SSD (solid state) for a boot drive (recommended) and the difference is astonishing. Install your programs on the boot drive and keep all your bulky data on a second traditional hard drive. This is how I’ve organized things for years anyway – separating programs from data. As I’ve discussed prior, it makes backup much simpler – image the boot drive, file copy the data for easy access if the system ever goes down. This is backup that works in real world scenarios.

The Modern/Metro Apps will also tend to drive power users crazy, again partly because they’re touch-designed. For example, there’s no close button – you have to click and hold the top edge and drag it to the bottom. On a large screen this is excessive compared to a click. And who needs a calculator that fills a large screen? What if you want to see the spreadsheet at the same time, without splitting the screen? You can also click in the top left corner to switch back to the desktop but this leaves the app running – handy only if you want to go back and forth. Back to the top left and right click to close it. Clicking a program on the taskbar is easier.

In many cases you’ll want full versions of desktop software, not MS apps. So you’ll want a PDF viewer, an image viewer, a calculator, and so on. Lame when these have been built into Windows for many years but MS apps are not built for mousing and big screens.

Win8 requires you use a Microsoft Account for initial login. Because it uses this for on-line services like Skydrive and app purchases, it should have a long, complex password. But for routine login people will tend to use something easier to remember, sacrificing their on-line security. There is however alternatives, like using a Local Account (scroll down to the Local Account section). You’ll still need to occasionally connect on-line but can then use a password manager to handle the complex password for you. This does mean creating a new User and making all the settings, etc. so you want to do this sooner rather than later.

Another privacy issue is internal computer searches going on-line. In Charms/ Settings/ Change PC Settings/ Search and Apps/ Search: Turn the “Get search suggestions and Web results from Bing” off.

Another gotcha is the Skype app – it wants to convert your Skype account to your system Microsoft account. They offer no choice. Annoying if you use Skype on multiple systems and don’t want it tied to one. Like Local Account above, this is a privacy issue. This is a widespread industry trend of account merging. It makes it simpler for end users but vastly increases user tracking and personal security & privacy vulnerabilities.

I later installed Skype for Desktop and it worked with my old account just fine. And all the features I’m used to were back, unlike the dumbed-down app.

I also found I needed to change the Theme colour as the windows all seemed to merge together and it wasn’t clear what to select. The 3D edges are gone. After years using Win7, there’s a lot of tweaks and settings in a lot of software to migrate. I didn’t find the “Easy Transfer” software very useful.

I am finding it much faster than Windows 7, partly due to a faster system and partly Windows 8. There’s lots of small things I quite like and other things that are annoying or dumbed down. But at least I have a current OS, for now.
David

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.