Be careful about diagnostic health apps

There is tremendous potential with using apps and connectivity to improve health care. We can now accomplish incredible things using today’s technology, but there will be limits.

Here’s an article about how four new apps for skin care fared when tested to identify melanoma. Three of the four had very poor ratings, but the reason is very interesting.

Here’s the important thing: The three apps that failed to spot melanomas 30% of the time all use digital image analysis techniques. Computers decide whether a mole is cancerous or not. The fourth app actually sends images to a dermatologist, who replies with an evaluation in 24 hours. That fourth app correctly identified 52 out of 53 melanomas that researchers sent along. Such accuracy doesn’t come cheap–the app charges $5 per image, which is enough to drive many people towards the cheaper digital image analysis apps (they ranged from free to $4.99, with no individual charge per lesion).

The key here is that software and machines can only take us so far, at least with today’s technology. Apps like this work best when there is a human component. I suspect that the machine can handle the very easy cases, but then we need an expert to make the tough calls.

So get excited, but stay wary when you hear some of these claims.


Eight Image Effects and Where to Use Them

Imaging software changed photography processing. A person uses the software to create the ideas and artistic insights that they have gleaned. It begins with choosing an interesting image.

Effects for all Images

Image via Pixabay by geralt

Take time to really look at an image before editing. What does the image say? How would image editing enhance it? High quality, engaging image creation often happens with basic techniques used skillfully. When you take the time to hone these techniques, it will show in your images.

One: Filter the Noise

Image Via Wikimedia by Debivort

Images often have two issues due to the photographic process itself and the phenomena is called noise filtering. Dots of light occur in the dark areas and points of dark occur in the light areas of an image. Color noise is splotches of translucent color scattered across an image like the sheen of oil on a water puddle. Learn how to edit images by filtering out the noise first.

Two: Capture the Strays

Image Via Wikimedia by Moros

Stray light almost always occurs in any image. It results in softened edges. If you sharpen the image overall, it offsets the issues and establishes firm boundaries.

Three: Cut and Focus

Image Via Wikimedia by Wapcaplet

Cropping allows one to focus on the most interesting aspects of the image. It becomes even more provocative or engaging to look at. It removes the distractions.

Four: Time to Color

Image Via Wikimedia by Bruce McAdam

Global enhancement makes changes in the color tones of the image. Changing the colors creates an emphasis or different interpretation. Contrast and gradient in color evoke the most emotions. Changing the color quality either in the whole image or a part of the image can radically change the photo’s look or appeal. Imaging software allows selective coloring and deepening or lightening of color depth.

Five: Peek-a-Boo Editing

Image Via Wikipedia by Magnus Lewan

Some images need more or the artist wants to do something innovative. Digital processing allows experimentation with its non destructive editing feature through its adjustment layers. Doing edits in layers allows maximum creativity since a person can try a technique, check, and easily return to the original image if not acceptable.The feature allows removal of unwanted elements in a photo.

Six: Manipulating for Mood

Image Via Wikipedia by Niabot

A graph called a histogram displays all the tonal qualities of light in an image. Knowing the range of lights and dark gives information on the composition and balance. The vertical axis gives the count of pixels, and the horizontal axis gives level of light. Manipulating the histogram can give a desired effect in contrast or depict a specific mood.

Seven: Many Photos Made Into One

Image Via Wikipedia by Pit Will

Merging and slicing allows a montage of several images. Each photographic piece can have a special technique applied or each piece can have color adjustment to create a whole image.

Creating special effects by learning basic tools put creativity in the hands of a human. Playful manipulation of images puts a personal stamp and voice on the work making for true artistic expression.


Best of the Web: App reviews

We’re taking a trip around the web to find sites with informative and entertaining app reviews. With the explosion of smartphones and social media, apps are now everywhere, and younger kids view them as ubiquitous as television. For the rest of us, it’s amazing how one app can make our life easier and completely change the way we’ve done something for years. Other are just fun as hell. We’re flooded with them however, so it’s always nice to get tips from experts around the web.

Gizmodo iPhone App of the Week
This powerhouse tech blog focuses specifically on apps for particular devices, with this one here for the iPad.

You’ll find an app of the week feature in the content-rich apps section of this popular tech site.

APP Chronicles
Tons of write-ups of free apps.

Bullz-Eye App of the Week primarily covers men’s lifestyle topics, but this feature covers a wide variety of apps.

ABC News Technology Review
This tech section has an well-done app of the week series.


Statement by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz

In a huge story, many have linked the prosecution of Aaron Swartz to his tragic suicide. Here’s part of a statement by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz trying to argue that her prosecution of Swartz was reasonable.

As a parent and a sister, I can only imagine the pain felt by the family and friends of Aaron Swartz, and I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man. I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life.

I must, however, make clear that this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably. The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct — while a violation of the law — did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases. That is why in the discussions with his counsel about a resolution of the case this office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct — a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting. While at the same time, his defense counsel would have been free to recommend a sentence of probation. Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge. At no time did this office ever seek — or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to seek — maximum penalties under the law.

As federal prosecutors, our mission includes protecting the use of computers and the Internet by enforcing the law as fairly and responsibly as possible. We strive to do our best to fulfill this mission every day.

I guess it’s encouraging at some level they were not seeking harsh sentences in a plea arrangement, but they also should have known that as a matter of principle Swartz would never cop a plea.

We have many laws on the books that frankly are obsolete in the Internet age, and we need prosecutors with judgement over prosecutors with an agenda. The obvious course of action here was probation with a stern warning, so Swartz and others would know that they have to be careful with mass downloads of information.

The government and the Justice Department needs to get on this asap. These antiquated laws in the hands of idiot prosecutors are lethal weapons.


Facebook introduces ‘Graphic Search’

Tons of people love Facebook, but most will agree that the search function sucks. It’s pretty surprising that new developments have taken so long for Facebook in this area, but today’s big announcement reveals a pretty impressive evolution in the whole search concept.

Graph Search, which is initially launching as a beta product for U.S. audiences only, will allow users to uncover social connections between other members of the site and quickly identify which friends have been to certain places, “liked” specific topics or appeared in certain photos.

Friends, places, interests and photos will be the foundation for queries when the search engine launches, Facebook said. For example, Facebook explained how Graph Search could be used to find “My friends who live in Palo Alto who like Game of Thrones,” “Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India” or “Photos of my friends taken in Paris.” Singles looking to meet people could search “Friends of friends who are single men in San Francisco.” Someone trying to remember a person she’d met at a friend’s party evening before could query, “People named Drew who are friends of Peter and went to Harvard.”

We’ll see if the actual service lives up to the hype, but the potential seems significant.


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