IBM shrunk Watson to pizza box size

Moving on with Watson (from Forbes):

IBM’s Watson Gets Its First Piece Of Business In Healthcare

Over the past two years, IBM’s researchers have shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to a pizza-box-sized server that can fit in any data center. And they improved its processing speed by 240%.

Even before the Jeopardy! success, IBM began to hatch bigger plans for Watson and there are few areas more in need of supercharged decision-support than health care.

WellPoint’s chief medical officer Samuel Nussbaum said at the press event today that health care pros make accurate treatment decisions in lung cancer cases only 50% of the time (a shocker to me). Watson, since being trained in this medical specialty, can make accurate decisions 90% of the time.

This is just amazing.

Israel now bans skinny models

According to Jpost, Israel now bans skinny models for benefit of impressionable teenagers.

Starting on Tuesday, female and male models who have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 may not be shown in the media or on Israeli websites or go down the catwalk at fashion shows.

The law, initiated by then-Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, aims to protect impressionable teens from eating disorders.

Good idea? Maybe. Too much control? Definitely!

Just got Fitbit

I just got Fitbit.

Got it fulfilled through Amazon from US. Fitbit is manufactured in Singapore but I cannot get it here.

Will update more on how it works after a week of usage. It’s pretty cool so far.

Above is a screenshot of what I did today. It’s not very accurate on the steps part though. I don’t think I ran that much steps today. It’s an extremely simple to use device and is compatible with Windows and the Mac.

Recounting 2011

New year’s coming and I am excited that I am going older a year. This year has been particularly fruitful. I completed most of what I set to achieve. Here’s a rough status:

  • On religion, I ascertain my religious stance. I am neither theist nor atheist. I found out about the word “ignostic” (or theological noncognitivism) and felt it describes the thoughts that are forming from 2008 to now and I learn that I am not alone.
  • On consumption, I have deeper appreciation on the finer things. I learnt to enjoy coffee in its bitter form. I finally got it.
  • On living, I am slowly discovering what my motto in life is. It’s kind of flaky and I should not discuss it now. I feel a lot of decisions that I make or do not make is based on this narrative. While it differs from most people, I found peace in that statement and that everything will be okay if I continue to invest my options towards that goal.
  • On work, I quit ONG&ONG because I got too comfortable. I never realized I crave for uncertainty that much. I traded stability for excitement. It’s the first step to reprioritize myself. I look forward to 2012.
  • On clothes, I am more willing to try out something less conservative. I wanted to believe that there is a perfect form of fashion but this is perhaps fundamentally incorrect. I am confident that nearly no one has any idea if a set of apparel and accessories is matching. It depends on the person having the confidence to pull off the most ridiculous of combinations.
  • On verbal and written communication, I could do better. I should work on this more in 2012. I tend to be misunderstood.
  • On health, I am less healthy than before. I will go to the gym more. Oh and by the way, I somewhat concluded that the most important thing in life cannot be health. Anyway who claims that haven’t thought through the subject sufficiently. If you believe in that and you aren’t a health product salesman please let me pull you out of this disillusion. Call me.
  • On music, I like fusion jazz and electro swing more. And Nicki Minaj of course. I got a pair of Marshall headphones this year and it is best investment this year. Thank you Joanne.
  • On people, I grew less skeptic and less protective of myself this year. Am I just waiting to be hurt really badly? Maybe. People are kinder to me this year — empirical evidence of something done right.

See you next year.

It’s cheaper to kill her

A week ago, a minivan driver knock a toddler down in China and then ran over her again. He offers an upsetting explanation to his behavior:

The minivan driver who knocked Wang down, and then ran over her deliberately, has since surrendered to the police, but offered a curious explanation for his action. He said he had been talking on his mobile phone when he hit the girl, but decided to run her over because it would have cost him less to pay off a dead girl’s parents than to pay for her hospital expenses.

“If she had died, I would have been required to pay only about 20,000 yuan (about Rs 1.5 lakh) in compensation, but if she were injured, it would cost me hundreds of thousands of yuan in hospital expenses,” he said.

Source: First Post

The quote left me with disgust.

Some Chinese are quick to attribute the moral decline to increasing urbanization in China.

Japan lost track of their old folks

Japan lost track of some 230,000 centenarians (over 100 years of age).

More than 230,000 Japanese centenarians ‘missing’

More than 230,000 elderly people in Japan who are listed as being aged 100 or over are unaccounted for, officials said following a nationwide inquiry.

Officials have found that hundreds of the missing would be at least 150 years old if still alive.

The inquiry followed the discovery of the mummified remains of Sogen Kato, who was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo.

However, when officials went to congratulate him on his 111th birthday, they found his 30-year-old remains, raising concerns that the welfare system is being exploited by dishonest relatives.

Reports said he had received about 9.5m yen ($109,000; £70,000) in pension payments since his wife’s death six years ago, and some of the money had been withdrawn. (Source: BBC)

Reading cuts stress levels by 68%

Reading helps keep stress down:

Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds or 68%.

New research by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex says reading works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 per cent. Playing video games brought them down by 21 per cent from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point. (Source: Marie Claire)

I’ve been reading quite a bit these couple of months. What I feel is that reading from a book helps reduce stress much more than reading from the screen.

If you don’t like reading books typically, you may get humor books just to have a laugh. I have a book with only funny pictures — that worked too. I probably flipped through hundreds of times, each time looking at around 10 pictures. That seems to keep my stress level down. Whoever said “laughing is the best medicine” might just be right.

Stephen King’s alcohol and drug abuse

Stephen King reveals how wasted he was in the past:

In his 2000 memoir, On Writing, King revealed that he’d been so shattered by his alcohol and drug abuse in the 1980s that, even today, he cannot remember working on many of the books he wrote back then. There were times when he’d been doing so much blow that he wrote with cotton wads stuffed in his nostrils, to prevent blood dripping on his typewriter. (Source: Life)

California: The sad state of a failing state

Are things that bad? If you have 10 minutes to spare and are in the mood for reading, read the Guardian article:

Will California become America’s first failed state?

… California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kenneth Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”

… California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the “Healthy Families” programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit’s. In order to pass its state budget, California’s government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California’s education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California’s schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above “junk”.

Read it full at Guardian

It has this chilling effect for me.