New medicine

I’ve been happy with the Tysabri infusions for my MS. They seem to clear my head and give me more energy. Tysabri’s primary goal is to prevent new lesions and relapses, the other stuff is just a bonus. So that’s been going pretty well, we’ll see if it has stopped new lesions from forming when I get my next MRI’s done. In the meantime, I’m still having issues walking around…

I had originally gone to the neurologist in order to get some medicine to help strengthen my legs. People had been repurposing a drug that was designed to help people overcome opiate addiction for this. It’s called 4AP and has been around forever. There are very few side effects and you can get generic versions for pretty cheap. There’s a bit of a catch though. The dosage for MS is so much lower that you can’t reliably break pills to get accurate dosages. So you have to go through a compounding pharmacy. The other thing is that since it wasn’t cleared by the FDA for use with MS, insurance wouldn’t pay for it.

Well, a company went ahead and did the clinical trials and came up with a time release formulation. It got approved by the FDA under the name Ampyra. It is tremendously more expensive of course, someone has to pay for all of those licensing fees and clinical trials. I have decent insurance, so my co-pay i just a little lower than buying the generic, but the insurance company is paying a fortune for it. And people wonder why our medical costs keep going up…

 

Anyway, I’ve only been on it for a couple of days but I can already feel some positive effects. My legs don’t have as much jelly in them and I have a lot more control over my feet. I can now shake the water off of them when I get out of the shower, haven’t been able to do that in a while. I also feel more of my legs as well. I can actually feel them burn a bit when I go up the stairs, my muscles were pretty much numb before. Of course that also means I can feel pain in them better. I strained my right quad a couple of weeks ago. I have been feeling it tighten up and get weak on me, now I can feel the pain. I had a particularly viscous cramp in my left calf the other night, it has been smarting since, but now, OW! So, progress? I think so. I am walking better, and I’m hoping that with some feedback from my legs I can now improve my strength.

One other thing that has happened is that I have more energy. My first day back at work was pretty bad. I had been feeling run down over Christmas, wasn’t much of a conversationalist and had no energy. I only lasted 2 hours at work before I gave up and went home. A pattern has developed where I feel pretty run down in the week leading up to my Tysabri infusion, I figured I was looking at a long week until I got it. The Ampyra seems to have helped considerably. I can’t think of any other reason for my, for lack of a better word, feeling normal these last couple of days. So I am cautiously optimistic. Modern medicine is amazing, I sure am happy to be living in times like this!

Dr. Who overload!

I watched the Dr. Who Christmas special. Thought it was a great, fun episode. Nothing very deep, but Christmasy and will tide me over until the series starts up again in the spring. In addition, I got the last “Companion Chronicle” CD that I was missing. The Companion Chronicles are a series of audio plays made by Big Finish productions. They have a companion of the Doctor’s reminiscing about an adventure with (and once in a while without) the Doctor. They bring back folks from all of the “classic” doctors, including the 1st and 2nd doctors! So I now hove all of them…

I decided to take advantage of some specials that are being run by Big Finish and bought a few other Dr. Who related programs as well. I got both the “Gallifrey” and “Dalek Empire” series. They are spin offs, in the Dr. Who universe but not including the Doctor. All told, it’s close to 30 CDs worth of audio plays… I also bought the 4th season of the eighth doctor adventures. That’s another 9 when they have put all of them out…

Clearly, I really enjoy these things. All of this should keep me busy throughout the year. Believe it or not, there are still a bunch of other Dr. Who spin offs that I’d like to get. Cybermen, I Davros, UNIT, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and eventually more Bernice Summerfield. Big Finish sure know how to give folks what they like…

The FCC Should Not Regulate the Internet | Cato @ Liberty

A great summation of my unease over the FCC rules about the internet is from this article from CATO. Here’s the money quote:

 

“The arguments against government regulation in the name of “net neutrality” have not changed: A good engineering principle is not made better if dogmatized and given to lawyers and bureaucrats to enforce as law. The FCC and its regulatory regime are almost sure to be captured by major ISPs and turned to their benefit, used to suppress competition and blunt innovation.

A premise of net neutrality regulation—and much other regulation—is that consumers can’t be relied on to defend their own interests. Taking that premise, which I don’t, it follows that regulators must step in. But that syllogism skips over an additional premise: that regulators can do a better job.”

 

 

I wonder if people will ever catch on to the fact that regulation is frequently steered by the very groups that are being regulated. What appears to be onerous to big corporations is usually embraced by them because of their ability to absorb the costs. Smaller firms, and/or newer ones can’t so the regulation ends up reinforcing the status quo. There are other good points brought up in the article, give it a read!

 

The FCC Should Not Regulate the Internet | Cato @ Liberty: “”

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What the repeal of "Don’t ask Don’t Tell" actually means

Much like when the armed forces were racially integrated by presidential decree, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal will essentially force the armed forces, and by extension a large number of other Americans, to grow up… It turns out that people are different from one another, and that’s OK. At the same time, we are all more alike than different. That’s a lesson that needs to sink in deeply. Of course, once the military really understands that, it could undermine their willingness to kill folks. Maybe that’s what those generals meant when they worried about military effectiveness being compromised…

At some point, the realization that what people do in their own time doesn’t affect on duty performance will sink in, as will the realization that they have been working with homosexuals all along anyway. My prediction? This is a total non-event. This is a big deal precisely because it isn’t one. People want to serve in the military, who they love and are involved with has no bearing on military performance. Here’s hoping that this repeal will serve as a wake up call to people that want to cast gays and lesbians as being incompatible with decent living. Oh, AND IT”S ABOUT FREAKING TIME!!!!!!

More net neutrality questions

One of the important things in net neutrality is that providers do not discriminate against certain types of data. The idea is that the network provider is not filtering content before it gets to the user. Don’t we already have this though? The Kindle has a 3G network connection, yet you can only get what Amazon wants you to get, primarily ebooks and periodicals. Isn’t that a big no no under net neutrality ideals? Just to be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and I don’t think that most people have a problem with it. Here’s why…

The Kindle is pretty much made for one thing, reading things. As long as it can get the information you need to read, no one is concerned that you can’t also get Netflix on it. Despite being very un-net neutral, it is a very popular device because it works well. You’ll note that there’s no law or regulation that made that happen. Just sayin’…

That’s really the main point. If a device meets a demand, and does it well, it will be successful no matter how limited it is. On the other hand, if the device didn’t meet a big enough demand, or did it poorly, it would go away. Would Sen. Franken mind if Verizon came out with a VCAST only device with its own network?  More importantly, why should Verizon have to ask the Senator’s permission? Is there a big difference between a network banning other services on one device vs. all devices on that network? Why does anyone think that companies will be successful in banning popular services? There are a lot of possibilities out there with streaming devices, and no one really knows what will be best until it is tried. That goes especially for you Sen. Franken…

More net neutrality worry (Fed edition)

This shocked me, it really did. Here’s a quote from Sen. Al Franken talking about some FCC regulations coming up:

 

Under the language of the draft Order as I understand it, it would be entirely acceptable for a mobile ISP to prioritize its own such such applications and either degrade competing applications, or, quite simply, block them outright. To use a hypothetical, under this framework, Verizon could initially allow iPad owners access to a streaming Netflix video application over their 3G or LTE network—but then block that same Netflix application the very day that V CAST, Verizon’s mobile video on-demand service, becomes available and offers competing content. In fact, they could have blocked the Netflix application the day they thought of offering V CAST on iPad.

 

First off I want to point out that this is a US Senator worrying about Netfilx availability. Yes, I know it was a hypothetical, but when a Senator is trying to make waves by trying to scare people over entertainment availability, it makes me wonder if there’s something a little more important he should be working on.

 

OK, with that out of the way, let’s assume Verizon does exactly what he imagines, what would happen? In Franken’s world, the evil Verizon corporation would have absolute control of streaming content, no one would have any options, and millions would surely die… In the real world, people that value Netflix would simply leave Verizon. If Verizon was the only game in town, then they would, horror of horrors, be stuck with VCAST. The upshot here is that if Netflix really is in hot demand by their customers, Verizon would do nothing but shoot themselves in the foot if they got rid of it. People would leave, and the others would hate Verizon. The ones that are stuck with Verizon would be a very tempting target for Verizon’s competitors… The same goes for any other content you can name. Verizon has to stay on its toes in order to stave off current and potential poaching of their customers.

In any case, there doesn’t need to be any law or regulation put into place to protect Verizon from itself. If people demand openness to the internet, ISPs will have to provide it if they want customers. Net neutrality will always exist, maybe not on every network, but it will always be available because it is desirable. Let companies offer whatever services they want and let the chips fall where they may…

Err, maybe not…

I have an aunt that is a fan of lizards and has an appreciation of the silly things in life, so I was happy to find a comic called The Lizard of Oz. I figured it would be a fun Christmas present, and we’d all get a laugh. I got it yesterday and had a quick read. Good thing I did…

 

Instead of good witched and bad witches, we have the “Bitch of the West” and the “Good Fellatio Fairy of the North.” They are both curiously lacking in clothes. That ought to give you an idea of the level of this thing. Luckily, the main, Dorothy-like character is spared any sort of real sex treatment. Turns out the guy that did this was an artist for Heavy Metal magazine for years. Now, I’m not one to necessarily turn my nose up at this kind of thing, but this is just bad. It isn’t funny, sexy, or even drawn well. It manages to actually be offensive in several places. I gotta figure out if there’s a reasonable way to return this.

 

 

Sooooo, looks like Im going to have to find something else for my aunt for Christmas. SIGH, and I thought I was done shopping for the year…

Chrome browser

I’ve switched over to Chrome as my primary browser. I had been using Safari exclusively for a while, but I think right now the Chrome browser is the one for me. The plain version of both of those browsers are more alike than different, but when you start adding extensions and plug-ins, some differences start to kick in.

I had tried the Rockmelt browser for a little bit and I liked it. I really liked the Facebook integration and the RSS feeds were handy as well. But it wasn’t quite what I wanted. When I used Safari, I also used a program called Socialite to keep track of and notify me to updates to my friend’s Facebook pages and my Google reader RSS feeds. Rockmelt gave me the Facebook updates, but I still had to do something else for my Google Reader. I think I’ve finally been able to condense everything into one browser with the use of Chrome and some extensions. Here’s what i’ve installed into Chrome.

 

1) Facebook for Google Chrome. This gives me a small icon in the upper right side of the browser and alerts me when there is an update to my wall, a post I made, or a message sent to me. I can click on it any time and a small pop-out window will show up and allow me to read all of my friends’ posts and update my status. With this I can keep track of things without having to go to the page very often or use another program. it’s one of my most used things on the web.

2) Notifier for Google reader. Like the Facebook extension, this gives me an icon in the upper right of my browser and tells me when there are posts made to any of the RSS feeds I follow in Google reader. This is my second biggest use of the web, and this allows me ready access to the headlines and the ability to mark it read or to pop right to the article in a new tab. A great extension.

3) FlashBlock. This functions in a similar way that Click to flash does in Safari. If there is Flash content in a window, it will blank out the area, but I can activate it by clicking on it. I can also whitelist sites with it as well. Flash in Chrome is nice because it is embedded inside of it. Google updates it with the the browser, I actually have uninstalled flash as an internet plug-in. No muss, no fuss.

4) A Cleaner YouTube. This really has to be seen to be believed. Here’s a typical YouTube page with this extension enabled:

youtube shot.png

It is a much better experience without all that clutter.

5) Add toAmazon Wish list. Pretty self explanatory. Makes it easy to keep track of all your greedy thoughts as you surf the web.

6) Auto HD for YouTube. Automatically plays videos on YouTube at the highest available resolution. Great for those of us with high speed connections.

7) Google Voice. This gives me an icon to click on whenever I want to make a phone call. I’m using this for as many of my phone calls as possible because I like using it more than my cruddy phone, and it’s free. This makes it a little quicker to get to it.

8) RSS subscription Extension. This gives me an icon next to the RSS link that will add it to my Google reader subscriptions. Mighty handy.

9) Wikipedia Companion. This gives me a pop out mini wikipedia in my browser. This allows me to quickly look things up at a moment’s notice and then pop out of it when I’m done.

10) YouTube Downloader. I can download any video I watch on YouTube. Since I have the Cleaner Youtube extension installed, I have to click on the link that says, “ShowComments, Favorites, etc.” on the bottom of the video. Among those other things, I get a download button. I can pick the resolution and format (flash or MP4) from the available options. This makes it really easy to get videos for my iPod touch.

 

With all of these things installed, I can browse the way I like. You can get Chrome here and browse the extensions here. have fun!