Diary of a geek

July 2012
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Andrew Pollock

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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Sarah sans gallbladder

I can't remember exactly when, it was either pre-Zoe heart-related diagnostic imaging or during her pregnancy with Zoe, that it became apparent that Sarah had gall stones.

Apparently it's not uncommon for women to develop them after pregnancy, and it turns out that Sarah is slightly more genetically predisposed to getting them to boot. So it wasn't terribly surprising when she started having some pain recently. She had another ultrasound to confirm it, and went off to see a surgeon.

Apparently they care more about the symptoms than the number of stones in the gallbladder, and they don't bother removing the stones and keeping the gallbladder, so she was booked in for a cholecystectomy last Thursday.

It was a pretty straightforward procedure, she was out of the operating room in just under an hour, and awake a bit over an hour after that.

I've had a few friends need to have a cholecystectomy, and the photos on Wikipedia have always fascinated me, particularly this one. It seems so freaky to have a gallbladder full of that much gravel. It can't be comfortable. We're going to be able to pick up Sarah's stones on Monday, so it'll be interesting to see what they look like.

Sarah's recovering now. It's one of the few surgeries she's had under general anaesthesia where she hasn't been sick afterwards, so that was a good start. The procedure was done laparoscopically, using four incisions, and to give themselves room to work, they inflate the body with carbon dioxide gas, which then has to work its way out of her body over the following days. So she's dealing with some bloating, bruising and swelling at the moment, but not doing too badly. Apparently if you're vertical for too long, the gas can work its way up to your diaphragm, which causes some shoulder pain, so the trick has been to walk around a bit, then lie down for a bit, and then rinse and repeat.

She's not allowed to lift Zoe for 3-4 weeks, which presents a few challenges for us, but nothing insurmountable (hopefully). We converted Zoe's crib to a toddler bed a week before the surgery, and Zoe thought that was just the best thing ever, and has taken to it really well. I'm around at home for breakfast and dinner, so I can take care of the lifting into and out of the high chair for those meals, and Zoe can eat lunch at her little table. Zoe's also pretty good about getting into and out of the car by herself (not that Sarah can drive until she's off the painkillers) and she's normally in daycare two days a week. She's in daycare again on Monday, so Sarah won't have to deal with Zoe on her own until Tuesday, and we have backup daycare arrangements we can fall back on if need be. Zoe's been very good about Sarah not being able to pick her up, and been very gentle. It helped with the explanation that Sarah could show her all of her "owwies".

The surgeon was saying that only 1 in 400 people need to alter their diet after removing their gallbladder, so we're hopeful that Sarah will do just fine without it. She'll certainly be more comfortable in the long run.

[14:52] [life] [permalink]

New audit package in experimental

Various security folks at work have been keen on a newer version of audit be in Ubuntu (preferably 12.04), but unfortunately the Debian maintainer has been too busy to package it for Debian, so I finally carved out some time recently to do an upload to experimental, with his permission.

It would have been really nice to land it in unstable before Wheezy froze, but as it involved a library transition, and I didn't get a chance to talk to the release team about it until very close to the freeze, they said it was too late.

That meant the grand plan of getting it into Ubuntu 12.10 and then trying to get it into precise-backports went up in smoke as well. Oh well.

It was a fair bit of work to package. A lot of the patches were no longer relevant, and the remaining ones all needed to be refitted. It was also my first attempt at touching a library package where a SONAME bump was involved. I think I did everything correctly.

[14:29] [debian] [permalink]

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Polar epically anti-developer? A product review of the Polar WearLink®+ transmitter with Bluetooth®

Continuing in my better running through technology phase that I'm currently going through, I got all excited when I discovered that Polar make a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor chest strap.

Prior to this, I'd be lamenting how there wasn't a large choice of ANT+ enabled Android phones (to my knowledge there's just something Sony makes)

So I got all excited and ordered a strap and it arrived today. This is my initial review (I haven't gone running with it yet, I've just had a tinker)

I'll start with the bad first

the battery cover is a bit dicky
I took the battery cover off to confirm it came with a battery and then had a whale of a time getting it back on. I haven't managed to get it on as flush with the back as before I took it off. This appears to be a common complaint in the Amazon product reviews also.
hard to tell what its auto off timeout is, whether it's on, etc
Basically there's a large lack of feedback as to what's going on. Is it on or off? Is it wet enough to turn itself on? Is it reading a heart rate, or is the Bluetooth pairing just not working? The most accurate way I've found to determine if it's "working" or not is to unpair it and then repair it again. If you get a PIN prompt it's talking. By accident, I've found indications that it will turn itself off after not reading a heart rate for 10 minutes, and to reset it, you detach it and wait 30 seconds and reattach it. This would have been good information to include in the manual

Now for the good

reasonable Android app support
Heart Rate Monitor for Polar claims to support it, but I haven't managed to get it to do anything useful yet. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that My Tracks has support for it. Noom CardioTrainer is one that I was already trying out alongside Strava Run (which doesn't have support for it). There's also Sports Tracker and Endomondo. The UI for both of these also show the battery level. I've found that trying to have multiple apps reading the heart rate monitor simultaneously seems to be an exercise in fail, and that the Sports Tracker app seems to start a background service which subsequently causes all sorts of problems for any of the other apps started after it has started.

And the ugly

Looking back at all the Amazon product reviews, they're pretty much split equally between 5 stars and 1 stars. The product seems to either work flawlessly or absolutely dreadfully. I was beginning to think I was in the latter group and that I'd bought a white elephant, but now that I've gotten to the bottom of the idiosyncrasies of talking to it from Android, it seems to be behaving fairly reliably.

Talking to it from Linux, and the reason behind the title of this post

One of the first things I tried doing after Android was being initially flaky for me, was to try and talk to it from a Linux laptop. This proved fairly straightforward using rfcomm. I didn't get anything human readable out of it though. Being curious as to how these Android apps were able to decode the data, I went looking for some API documentation, and a Google search led me to this sad forum discussion.

So the API information is not freely available, and their CEO personally signs off on who gets access to it. How ludicrous. Do they want to sell product or not? That said, I did also find this blog post which, courtesy of the aforementioned Open Source My Tracks Android app, lays it all out for you. So them being all anti-development with their information is kind of pointless. Polar's website doesn't mention anything about their management, so I have no idea who their CEO even is. Wikipedia is also none the wiser.

I'm looking forward to going for a run tomorrow and seeing how this thing pans out.

[22:01] [tech] [permalink]