Scott Hanselman

Scott's Diabetes Explanation: The Airplane Analogy

May 6, '04 Comments [5] Posted in Diabetes
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I was talking with a friend and they asked some question about my insulin pump or something and I realized I’d never explained diabetes to him.  I did, and he said, “you explained this in 15 minutes better than it’s ever been explained to me. You should blog it.”

So I have a place to point people (and you do too!) here’s:

The Basics:

There are two types of Diabetics:

  • Type I – also called Juvenile Diabetes or Youth-Onset or Insulin Dependant (IDDM).  These folks ALWAYS use Insulin.  If someone says “I’m Type I” you know theyinject insulin.
  • Type II – also called Adult-Onset or Non-Insulin Dependant (NIDDM)

They are so different it’s a shame they are both called Diabetes.

  • Type I – Typically these folks don’t produce any (or much) of their own insulin.  If I don’t make it, I need to get it somewhere.
  • Type II – These folks typically have decreased responsiveness to their own insulin.  If they aren’t using their own insulin well, they need to be made more sensitive to it.  As with any drug, the more you take, the more you need.  If you’re a big carbo eater your whole life, you’ll produce a lot of insulin, and chances are you’ll eventually become resistant to your own insulin.

“Worldwide, there are about 171 million diabetics, but only about 10 percent of those have Type 1 diabetes. The vast majority have Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity. In the United States, about 900,000 to 1.8 million people have Type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association says.” [Wired]

The Airplane Analogy

 You are flying from L.A. to New York. You have to maintain a consistent altitude the whole way.

Note: For this analogy we will focus on a good cruising altitude and pretend that taking off and landings aren’t important.

Food raises blood sugar (altitude.)  Insulin lowers it.  Non-diabetics don’t have to think about altitude, as you all have a working pancreas (autopilot) and don’t sweat altitude.  Diabetics, on the other hand, have to constantly wonder if they are at a safe altitude.  Staying at a consistently high altitude (high blood sugar) will eventually make you sick; while a low altitude (low blood sugar) will kill you quickly.  

When I prick my finger to check my blood sugar with a glucose test strip, that’s an altitude check.  I want to know how I’m doing.  Each time I do it, it costs about 70 US cents.  So, I can only afford about 200 test strips a month, which is about 7 finger pricks a day.

Each time I feel I need to lower my blood sugar, I take insulin.  In the old days I took a manual shot by measuring the insulin and filling the syringe by hand.  I would typically take about 5 or 6 shots a day.  Now I have an insulin pump that’s attached to me 24 hours a day.  I attach it with a needle to a new place every 4 days or so.  I have a remote control that tells it what to do. I keep the whole thing in my pocket with a tube leading under my clothes. 

Note: I’m always asked if an insulin pump does things automatically.  Answer: I wish.  It is delivery only.  I have to “close the loop.”  There are currently no publicly available closed-loop systems that automatically test blood sugar AND deliver insulin.  Not yet.

Here’s where the analogy gets interesting.  Remember in the analogy we are flying from L.A. to New York, except we only get to check our altitude seven times.  And, we only get to change altitude (take insulin) less than ten times.  But, when I check my blood sugar, I’m actually seeing the past.  I’m seeing a reading of what my blood sugar was 15 minutes ago.  And, when I take insulin, it doesn’t start lowering my blood sugar for at least 30 minutes.

Now, imagine yourself in that plane with an altimeter that shows you the altitude 15 minutes in the past, and a yoke that changes the altitude – but when you press on the yoke, your altitude won’t change for a half-hour.  It would be a challenging trip. 

Kind of reminds one of the delays in controlling the Mars Rover by remote, eh?  This is what Type I diabetes is like.  It’s a daily “chasing of one’s tail.”  This is why I prefer to eat at Subway when I’m in NYC or SFO.  It’s consistent.  I can count on it.  I know how much insulin to take for a Steak & Cheese.  Believe me, I’d love to eat new kinds of food every time I visit a new city, but I’d have to discover how much insulin to take and that’s and exhausting series of calculations and trial & error.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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N.exe

May 6, '04 Comments [9] Posted in Programming | Tools
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I’ve mentioned in a few talks that I long-ago renamed NOTEPAD.exe to N.exe as I have a tendency to “Windows-R, N, Enter” and I wanted to save a least a few hundred “otepad’s” a day. 

I’m also a big fan of starting a drag-drop operation, and without releasing the mouse button, doing an ALT-Tab, bringing my app up, and then releasing the mouse button and completing the drag.  A lot of people don’t know you can do this.

Anyway, the point was that Notepad is kind of lame, and hasn’t really changed in a while.  Sure, there’s lots of other Text editors out there, yada yada yada, but really what I want is a better Notepad.  No fancy toolbars, just Notepad++.

Now I’m using Notepad2 by Florian Balmer.  I’ve even renamed it to N.exe.  It’s really very nice.  It has lots of nice features, but here are the ones I care about:

  • Line Numbers
  • Long Line Indicator
  • Show Line Endings (CR vs. CRLF)
  • Transparent Mode (great with Always on Top)
  • Configurable Syntax Highlighting (all the obvious languages included)
  • Brace Matching
  • Zooming with Ctrl+Mousewheel

It’s definitely going on Scott’s Ultimate Tools List

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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My Last Few Weeks Summary Post

May 6, '04 Comments [1] Posted in XML | Africa
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A couple of kind people have commented on my recent silence in the blogosphere and said they missed me. Certainly I had trouble keeping up with posting while on vacation…not a lot of connectivity where I was. Additionally, with the recent situation, not to mention getting back into the swing of things at work as well as the worst jet lag I’ve had in a while (and lemme tell you, mefloquine gives one some FREAKLY dreams), I’ve been slow to blog.

However, as my mind awakens I’ve been thinking of a few things I wanted to mention.  I’ve actually been too lazy to blog them, but I’ve not been to lazy to put them into notepad.

Here are a few thoughts/comments/interesting things, in no particular order.  Some have conclusions, others do not.

  • Remember the “Does your code think in ink” contest?   They were giving away $15,000 in prizes to folks to write Tablet PC Power Toys.  Well, turns out I was a runner up and came away with $2500 cash and a copy of Visual Studio.NET 2003.  Very cool, considering that my applet (which is apparently to be published as a Power Toy) was not hard to write.  Apparently winners will be announced soon.  There’s a second chance to write a winner with the new Application version of the same contest.  Looks like $100,000 this time.  Cool.
    • Side Note: I now have a copy of Visual Studio.NET 2003 for sale. ;) $1000 OBO.
  • Nerds with glasses.   I went to the eye doctor for my 2 month checkup since my LASIK surgery.  I’m officially 20/10 in both eyes.  This is ridiculous since I was 20/1600 and legally blind.  I can see so well I can see your thoughts.  Seriously.  Having a little dry eye occasionally, but otherwise a fantastic outcome.
    I was talking to the doctor and wondering why so many computer people (read: nerds) wear glasses.  You can call it a stereotype all you want, it’s still true. ;)  He said there’s actually a whole segment of optometric psychology that looks how personality types have different vision.  I proposed that Type-A, borderline ADD, uptight, detail-oriented people like myself should be more likely to have sharp vision if only through shear willpower and want.  He said it’s actually the exact opposite.  People “like me” are so focused and driven and prone to perfectionism, they stress their eye muscles at an early age and can actually CAUSE myopia.  Interesting stuff. 
    Anyone else agree or disagree?  I know I was reading early and taking small electronics apart at a young age when perhaps I should have been using my eyes to avoid dodge balls.  Maybe all that fly-tying when I was 5 caused my problems?
  • Vacation.  Anyone who comes back from vacation saying, “I’m so refreshed and ready to get back to work” is full of crap.  The longer I am away from work, the more I want to retire and hang out.  This is a reflection on how nice NOT working is, not in anyway a reflection on my current employer.  It just would be nice to NOT have to wake up one day, eh?
  • Coders who are born.  A friend is taking a SmallTalk class, and commented on a fellow student who just wasn’t cutting it.  I commented that maybe he wasn’t born a coder.  This turned into a discussion that culminated in the conclusion that while developers can be created, they (the personality type) are fundamentally in-born.  If we weren’t developers, we’d be designing the Jumble, or working in the fields of Math or Physics.
  • Books.  I’ve just finished two amazing books that I recommend highly:
    • The Time Traveler’s Wife: This is a slow-moving, but perfect little book.  It is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future.  Truly one of the best books I’ve read in the last decade.
    • Ilium: This is the new Space Opera from Dan Simmons, author of Hyperion.  It is virtually a retelling of Homer’s Iliad, through the lens of SF.  Bizarre and amazing.
      “On Earth, a post-technological group of humans, pampered by servant machines and easy travel via “faxing,” begins to question its beginnings. Meanwhile, a team of sentient and Shakespeare-quoting robots from Jupiter’s lunar system embark on a mission to Mars to investigate an increase in dangerous quantum fluctuations. On the Red Planet, they’ll find a race of metahumans living out existence as the pantheon of classic Greek gods. These gods have recreated the Trojan War with reconstituted Greeks and Trojans and staffed it with scholars from throughout Earth’s history who observe the events and report on the accuracy of Homer’s Iliad.”
  • Video Editing: We filmed over 8 hours of digital video while in Africa.   I use a higher-end Digital 8mm Sony camcorder with an external microphone and polarized lens filter.  I did a bunch of Adobe Premiere work back in the day, so I figured when it came time to make DVD with my DVD Burner, I assumed I be using something like Premiere.  I’ve used prosumer things like Pinnacle, but I say again – Nero Burning ROM is flat out the greatest single value in consumer software today.  In one day I ripped all 8 hours (via Firewire) about 90 gigs of DVD AVIs, edited, added a soundtrack, created interactive DVD menus with animation and background music and burned back to a DVD-R a very nice 2 hour tribute to my father in law.  All this with a US$70 piece of software.  Oh, and it also plays DVDs, has a full featured backup app, makes photo CDs, rips MP3s, and squishes DVD9 to DVD4 or CD.  Glorious.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Healing...emotionally and physically

May 1, '04 Comments [1] Posted in Musings
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Everyone knows that men want to 'fix' stuff while women need to talk about it.  When bad things happen, death and the like, often women converge on the house to console while men tend to go 'into their cave.'  That cave might be a BBQ, the garage, or a computer.

So, during this difficult time, I felt the need to fix.  It's how I cope.  While we were in Zim burying Mo's father, a series of documents and photographs appeared from various relatives.  These photos were pretty messed up.  A few were in pieces, yellowed, dry and cracked.  I've been jetlagged with the darned east-to-west lag that makes you get up at 4am still tired, so I scanned and started working.

Here's the results.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The 2004 Africa Trip in Pictures

April 30, '04 Comments [6] Posted in NDC | Africa
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I'm up...actually I was up at 5am.  Can't sleep, so why not post some pictures now that we're home and I've got 3Mbps of bandwidth. :)  We went to a mall called Cresta in South Africa to find an internet cafe.  It appeared that 14 machines in this particular cafe were sharing one 128kbps ISDN line.  Ouch.  Needless to say, Oddpost was unusable, so posting to the blog was unlikely to happen.  Additionally, I didn't have any GPRS support for my Blackberry. :(  So much for the world phone.  It worked in Spain and South Africa (GSM) but was useless in Morocco and Zimbabwe.

I know posting personal pics of trips and such is gratuitous, but it's my family, eh? :) Either way, I hope you find it all interesting.


We stayed with my brother-in-law Vusi at a 'Cluster Home' in Johannesburg.  The most striking thing to me about South Africa is the pervasive and in-your-face security.  EVERYONE has a fence.  And not a white-picket fence, but a concertina razor wire electrified fence.  Security is a HUGE industry.  Automatic doors, alarms, motion detectors.  One of the most interesting and obvious things is that every parking lot has a number of guards.  We went to Makro (Costco) and there were over two dozen security guards watching the cars.  They also help you back out of your spot and you tip them 2 Rand.  The mall itself also has at least a dozen guards.  This is odd since I have only ever seen ONE guard at a mall in the states, and he was guarding Santa.

This is a typical breakfast for the family.  That's beans, eggs and liver.  The Diet Coke (Coke Light) is mine. :)

This is Mañana (tommorow).  Mo and I had the pleasure of naming her.  However, everyone calls her uFatty - she's 18 months old.

This is Mo's Mom when we all took the family out to the Market Theater for dinner.  She works very hard and she deserves everything.  She's raised seven kids and raised them well.

This is a wholesale meat market where we picked up a few hundred Rands worth of Lamb and Beef.  You have to buy in bulk or you'd go broke.  They cut the meat in front of you.  Not sure if it'd pass U.S. Health Standards, but then again, does it matter?

I discovered this picture when I was uploading the photos.  Apparently younger brother Bongani got ahold of the camera and wanted to take a look at himself.  This photo just makes me laugh, as Bongani doesn't typically smile.  Looks like he's a closet goofball. :)

Not only is there a 'Portland Store' which is hilarious to me, there's also an 'Oregon Market.'  Madness! 

After we left South Africa in a rush we went to Lower Gweru.  Here is the beginning of uNki's grave.

Hundreds of people came from all over to see him honored.  Many spoke and addressed the crowd.  It was a full day's event.  Many of the women sang in a choir for the entire day.

In Bulawayo, there's a rural school that Mo's Mom has taught at for the last 20 years.  Mollar has worked her company to help support the school remotely.  Through their donations and hard work, they've build toilets, a school office and new classrooms.  The next step is getting electricity and running water to the school.

Here's a few happy ones to end on.

As we look towards tomorrow...

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.