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Adding blog to web site and musings about medical information on the internet

Finally have this blog linked to the rest of the website and it works. Big test will be once I publish this entry to see whether the permissions are set correctly so that people can access it. Thingamablog is a really neat program and the only thing I don't like about it is the name. Will refer to it as TGB for short.

The previous blog program also claimed it could publish blog entries but it never worked and I would have to manually create the new blog files and then ftp them from the machine I created them on to webserver. Not sure why this was because the transfers are done via ftp which is OS independant (webserver is a Mac mini and my primary machine now is a windoze based tablet PC). The whole idea of having a blog is so that one can quickly add new material rather than going through the process of manually creating a new web page, formatting the page and then linking the new page to another page. Also, if one uses this technique, the number of links becomes unwieldy and it is both hard to maintain and navigate. This is why blog creation software is so useful and it saves me writing my own.

The reason that this blog is included in my personal section of the web page is because I usually can't just limit myself to medical topics which stay within the bounds of what I am allowed to say as a physician. Rather than worrying about whether I've crossed a line of acceptability, I put everything in a personal section where I can say what I want without worry. I should note that anything I post on the blog is NOT to be construed as medical advice. While I strive to ensure that the information I post is correct, the only person who can determine whether it is applicable to a particular individual is that persons physician. People have individual responses to drugs and supplements (this is the area of pharmacogenomics) so anyone who experiments on themselves without medical input does so at their own risk.

One other thing that just occurred to me is that I'm constantly being asked by patients about where they can find good sources of medical information and I've been at a loss to give them a source. My primary source of information is Ebsco which is available by subscription only and every physician in BC has free access through the BC College of Physicians and surgeons. Using a search engine for medical information is essentially useless. There are so many people out there that want to make money selling people cures for every possible disease that entering a disease into the search engine usually results in thousands of results most of which are sites trying to sell some dubious product and an equal number of sex sites that add commonly used search terms to draw people to their sites. The national library of medicine is a good source for abstracts of medical papers and a small number of journals will also give free access to full text of the articles. Unfortunately most online medical papers are behind paywalls; the Ebsco subscription that I have access to allows me to get most of these papers for free (well not really free as the BC College dues are $1200/year now) but I can't post these on my web site. One of the things that I'll be doing is posting summaries of significant papers on this blog and, depending how much material I happen to post here, I may start putting together a web page which consists of good quality information in the medical area.

For an example of an excellent medical site, psycheducation.com is highly recommended. It is maintained by Dr. Jim Phelps who is a psychiatrist in Oregon and deals primarily with bipolar disorder. If I suspect that someone may have bipolar disorder, I give them the URL of this site so that they can peruse it at home and decide if what they're reading applies to them. I can't think of a better single resource dealing with bipolar disorder on the internet and we need sites like this for a large number of other diseases.

One resource I don't recommend is Wikipedia. Wikipedia links tend to come up near the top of search lists and people overwhelmingly tend to click on links near the beginning of the list of possible sites. Wikipedia claims that it is objective but has been systematically preventing anyone from suggesting that causes of climate change are primarily natural and not anthropogenic and also trying to eliminate the embarassing (for AGW fanatics) medieval warm period from the earths climatic history. I made a comment on the last link as to how I think Wikipedia could be improved (on 19/12/2009 20:50), but in light of the marked bias that wikipedia demonstrates in the area of meteorology, I would strongly advise people to avoid wikipedia as a source of medical information unless it is on a topic that there is absolutely no contraversy about.

The other problem with medical information is that people have vastly different backgrounds and to understand a full text medical paper often requires a large amount of baseline knowledge in physiology, molecular biology, pharmacology and statistics. Thus one needs to have a spectrum of available information on the internet which ranges from the really basic for people who don't have that extensive background knowledge to material which is at the cutting edge of research which may be incomprehensible to a significant number of physicians. The internet is setup so that information can be presented hierarchically: every medical/biologic term that is used could have a link to an explanatory page which would have the same format so that, in theory, someone with no knowledge of a particular area, but sufficient interest to learn more could get a detailed understanding of a complex medical topic by just clicking their way through an article learning what they needed to as they go along. One, randomly chosen, link that has some of the characteristics that I'm thinking of in such hypertext is on the mitochondrion.

Posted by Boris Gimbarzevsky at 22:42.19
Categories: Blog related


It works !!!

Am able to publish entries to blog and view them immediately after they have been uploaded. Don't have any problems with file permissions now, but still haven't solved this problem to my satisfaction. Also realized that can now justify text in html documents which must be part of one of the newer html specifications as don't recall being able to do this before (although the last time I really looked at HTML specifications was in 1994 when I created first web site).

There are still some bugs with this blog creation program; when one is making a new entry and goes from edit mode to edit_HTML mode before one has completed a paragraph, the text disappears from the Edit window. A minor bug but reminds me that this version of Thingamablog is beta software. Enough of a test and will now incorporate this new blog into my web site and have to decide what to do with old blog that only was updated from 2005-2006.

Posted by Boris Gimbarzevsky at 22:19.18
Edited on: 18/12/2009 22:26.53
Categories: Blog related

First step in getting new blog working

Well it seems to work as I now have a working blog on my server at DrGimbarzevsky.com and the blog files were transferred using Thingamablog publish command. A minor bug (which hopefully I'll be able to sort out RSN) is that one can't access the files from a web browser after uploading them. The problem is because Panthera runs OsX and the file permissions of the files published to Panthera are set for full access only for the user that created the files. This user is one that I created with a very strong password just for ftp access to Panthera.
What I've had to do is to change the file permissions manually using Finder (if I'm in the same room as Panthera) or remotely using Filezilla which can set file permissions recursively on a directory and all of its subdirectories. This is still tedious and will have to look into whether there is an easier way of doing this. I'm sure there is a very simple solution to this problem (and I'm now trying to change the ownership of the files from the ftp access user to the primary user on Panthera to see if this will work). The whole idea is to have a very simple way of adding new entries to the blog and one of the reasons I haven't been updating the website that often is because I have to perform the same permission change operation on all html files that I upload remotely. Will see whether my change of user idea has worked.
Posted by Boris Gimbarzevsky at 22:00.45
Edited on: 18/12/2009 22:12.32
Categories: Blog related

Test of Thingamablog

There are the remnants of a blog that I tried to maintain in 2006 on this website but the program proved to be just to unwieldy to use. Today found Thingamablog which is a free blog creation program (but not open source) which allows me to maintain a blog on my own webserver. So far it seems to be easy to use and reasonably powerfull, but the big test will come when (if I have the time) to start updating this blog on a regular basis.
I've been asked why I don't just use Blogger for my blogs as this is available for free and a lot of the overhead of administering blogs is taken care of by Blogger. I don't like putting my data on a remote server where it can just disappear and blogger is a real resource hog when I've tried to use it. Also, it is hosted by Google which I'm in the process of boycotting now. Given the behavior of Google during the recent climategate events, it is clear that Google doesn't want information that it considers politically incorrect getting much attention. Thus I've switched to Bing as a search engine and the days of googling something are in the past (unless Google suddenly has a change of opinion about AGW).

This is the first test post and will see if Thingamablog will publish this on Panthera which is my webserver.

Posted by Boris Gimbarzevsky at 21:32.15
Categories: Blog related