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Have you tried Canva?

My favorite new tool is Canva, a graphic design tool that makes it super easy to create images for social media, flyers for sharing, and cards for printing. You can choose from free or $1.00 templates, photos, or icons to create images or PDF’s that you can download or save in your design stream.  Check out some of the images that I have created to publicize our Pet Therapy Study Break, Afternoon Tea, & other messages for Twitter and Facebook posts. One nice feature of Canva is that you can choose the size of your image to fit perfectly into posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram as well as headers for social media and email. Canva also offers helpful tutorials on design plus inspiration from cool designers to follow on Instagram. Join the over 2 million members on Canva and start creating your own super designs.


GOOD LUCK2sunshinegood luckMolly3

The Weird Joys of Home Automation

Alexa was delivered to our house on December 9, 2014. She’s small, thin, black, cylindrical, and sits on our china cabinet, and waits for someone to say her name.  She’s always listening.

“Alexa, play Nirvana.”

Shuffling for…Nirvana

“Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?”

            Tomorrow, in Birmingham, you’ll see…

“Alexa, set a timer for 25 minutes.”

            Setting a timer for…25 minutes.

As I do with most of the tech that my husband, Brian Moon, brings into the house, I met his description of Alexa with a slow blink and raised eyebrows. But after living with her for a week, I like her. When I cook, I ask her to set a timer for me so that I don’t have to stop whisking to grab my phone to wake up Siri, or mess with the unreliable timer on our 1970s-era oven.

If there’s a draw back to Alexa it’s the way you have to talk to her. I feel a bit rude and demanding, but she accommodates politely with her sophisticated accent. Every time I tell her to set a timer when I put food into the oven, I say thank you to make myself feel better.

We introduced Alexa to our friends on New Year’s Day. My friend, Janet, had the best reaction. She looked up in the direction of the voice and blue light, and with something like a Poltergeist warning uttered, “Oh my God, it’s happening.”

Xbox, Meet Us

I’ve had about 32 years of experience in turning the on the television, but now I have to ask the X Box—“X Box, On”—and still I have to press a button. It’s known Brian since he installed it, and now it knows me since I took to the time to properly introduce myself by registering my face.

The Xbox encourages you to build a relationship with your TV. It signals hello by chirping and popping up a message from Brian’s mii that says “Hi Brian!” I can tell you that he’s completely delighted every single time. Me? I think it’s an odd choice to have a cartoon version of myself saying hello to my human self, and so I feel like a mean girl…”Whatever, Xbox…Hey.”   But the whole thing is completely entertaining. I laugh at Brian over his delight, and he laughs at me about my judgment.

I asked Brian how he feels when the Xbox welcomes him to the living room. He says, “Well, I can say that I don’t feel any emotion related to it. It is more about convenience and seeing a glimmer of what could be possible with technology.”

Real Implications & Connections

I was helping a UAB School of Nursing class with an article appraisal assignment and the topic was Ageing In Place. We explored ways that technology could help the elderly stay in their homes longer and more independently. We discussed studies on the use of home monitoring devices, the use of video surveillance, and other seemingly intrusive gadgets. How we introduce technology to our everyday lives is becoming more and more culturally relevant to how we care for our loved ones and ourselves.

Whenever Brian introduces these things to our lives, I immediately think how unnecessary it all is. Then he goes out of town, and I send him a text that it’s cold in the house. Because I know that he can control the thermostat with his phone, I wait on the sofa, in the living room where the Xbox just said hello to me with a bit too much enthusiasm, for the sound of the heat to come through the vents. He texts back, “Better?”

Dare I ask? “Alexa, play a love song.”


Ebola Communication Network (ECN)

For better or worse Ebola’s presence in the United States has definitely increased awareness of the hazards of ignoring infectious disease in developing countries as something that “can’t happen here.” It has also raised the profile of global public health efforts. The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, or HC3, recently launched an online collection of Ebola resources, materials and tools for prevention and control of this deadly disease, the Ebola Communication Network (ECN).


A major focus of the ECN is on the use of social and behavior change communication to help residents, healthcare workers and community leaders know how to prevent illness, how to recognize Ebola signs and symptoms and how to care for the sick safely. There are posters, brochures and infographics available for download, as well as demographic information and professional articles for health workers. The site is responsive to mobile devices and optimized for low bandwidth situations.

The ECN allows searching by language, publication type, topic and audience. Users may also upload their own materials, which are posted after a brief review process.


The Ebola panic in the US has subsided somewhat, but the epidemic in Africa continues. The ECN may prove to be an important tool in providing useful, timely and understandable information to populations dealing with both the disease itself as well as the fear of the disease.

Do you know Stanford Medicine X?

Stanford Med X logo

Medicine X brings together patients, providers, researchers and technologists to move health care and emerging technologies forwardway forward.

Medicine X just held their 4th annual conference in September.  To get an idea of how diverse their program is, check out the schedule.  You’ll quickly see that the 2014 schedule is not just a list of speakers and abstracts, but a way to connect to the conference and the speakers even if you weren’t there.  Many of the contributors to Medicine X are ePatients (meaning expert patients)–some are also well-established bloggers, blogging about their illness or chronic disease.

The conference is styled very similarly to TED Talks–the stage is flashy, no podium, speakers are cool, casual and inspiring.


Image (YouTube) of Brit Johnson delivering a talk about her experience with autoimmune arthritis at a Medicine X Conference at Stanford University. You can follow her blog @hurtblogger.


There is a list of Medicine X’s selected talks made up of conference presentations and weekly LIVE discussions that are designed to be watched and followed on Twitter (#MedX) every Tuesday & Thursday.  (NOTE:  The site seems to be behind in their promotion of upcoming LIVE discussions, but there are plenty archived on their YouTube Channel.)

As mentioned before, patients play a big role at the conference, ePatient Scholarships applications can now be submitted for the 2015 conference.  If you are or know a good candidate, this looks like an amazing & fun opportunity!



Does sex matter?

Learn about sex and gender differences from The Science of Sex & Gender in Human Health online course


“Sex…is an important basic human variable that should be considered when designing and analyzing the results of studies in all areas and at all levels of biomedical and health-related research.” —Institute of Medicine, Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter?

Learn all about sex and gender differences from this online course developed by the Office of Research on Women’s Health, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health and the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Three free courses are offered:

  • The Basic Science and the Biological Basis for Sex- and Gender- Related Differences
  • Sex and Gender Differences in Health and Behavior
  • The Influence of Sex and Gender on Disease Expression and Treatment

Each course includes 5 or 6 lessons and takes about 5 or 6 hours to complete.  New users must register for access to the courses.

The course was developed for researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, educators, and students who wish to gain a basic scientific understanding of the major physiological differences between the sexes, the influences these differences have on illness and health outcomes, and the implications for policy, medical research, and health care.

Continuing Education Credit

Eligible candidates can earn continuing medical education (CME) credit, continuing nursing education (CNE) credit or continuing pharmacy education (CPE) for successfully completing Course 1, Course 2, or Course 3.

Learn more

about research and resources in sex and gender differences at UAB and beyond in our Women’s Health Resources GuideThe guide was developed as part of the “Women’s Health Resources Dissemination Outreach Project” through funding provided by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

More information on NIH’s requirement that drugs be tested on animals of both sexes


7 ways to make your (finals) week less stressful

1. Find a stress buster event on campus near you

Take a break from studying and join Campus Recreation, the Counseling and Wellness Center, and the Student Nursing Association for our FREE Stress Buster Program!  Enjoy chair massages, blood pressure screenings, yoga classes, and stress relief handouts. There will also be free blue books, scantrons, and stress balls!

Free Massages* & Blood Pressure Screenings+

  • M // APRIL 21 // 4-6PM // (COMMONS)*+
  • T // APRIL 22 // 11:30-1:30 PM // (LISTER HILL)*+
  • W // APRIL 23 // 11-1 PM // (COMMONS) + (no massages on this date)

Free Yoga in Studio 1 of CRCT

  • M // APRIL 21 // 4-5PM (KAITLYN)
  • T // APRIL 22 // 12:15PM-1PM (TERRIE)
  • W // APRIL 23 // 4PM-5PM (IHSAN)

2. Take a humor break

Basset Hounds Running

Image source: Buzzfeed Bassett Hounds Running







3. Drink some tea – we’ve all heard that tea drinking is good for you but another benefit it provides is a chance to stop what you’re doing and take a break.  Afternoon tea is a Wednesday tradition that Lister Hill Library has been doing for several years – we know it’s popular with students and it’s been great for us too!  We enjoy hearing what you think about services and resources at the library so stop by, have a cup of tea (and a scone) and tell us what you think!  Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:30

4.  Go outside – take a walk around the block or just sit outside on the green or at a table on the plaza for 15 minutes.  Turn your phone off and enjoy a few moments to feel the breeze, listen to birds, and breathe.

5. Speaking of breathing, if you don’t already meditate, try spending time each day sitting quietly.

6. Make a list – If you have lots on your mind, it often helps to write down your TO DO list so you can stop worrying that you’ll forget something important.  While you’re making lists, write down what you’re thankful for – it will help to keep things in perspective as you juggle a busy day.

7. Find more helpful hints at Lifehacker, The Joy Diet, & Zen Habits.

iPhone Shared Photo Streams

Are you tired of sharing your life through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Or maybe you have privacy concerns about these sites and have avoided them altogether. I recently discovered an easy-to-use, fun, and less public way to share and comment on photos among my closest family and friends: iPhone Shared Photo Streams. Granted, I think this has been around for a couple of years, but if it’s taken me this long to discover and use it maybe it will be something new for someone else out there!

Most of us iPhone users take oodles of photos on our phones. I often either text photos to someone or share them through one of the sites mentioned above. But have you ever noticed the “Shared” button at the bottom of the Photos app? That’s what I want to do (share), but why have I never clicked on that to explore the sharing possibilities?!

The first thing you have to do if you want to use this feature is check your iCloud settings. Make sure you have Photo Sharing set to “on.” (The screen shots in this post show iOS 7, but this is also available in iOS 6.)

Photo Stream Settings

Next, you need to set up a shared photo stream. Go to your Photos app and click the “Shared” cloud icon at the bottom. Click “New Shared Stream,” give it a name, and invite people. (I did have trouble inviting one person. I got an error message saying, “The phone number invited to [shared stream] cannot receive shared stream invitations.” I haven’t figured out why that happened, but iCloud support suggests trying an alternate email or phone number if this happens.) The people you invited should get a invitation to join the shared photo stream. To add photos to your shared stream, tap on the name of your stream (my shared stream in this example is “Springtime!”), tap the + sign, and navigate to select the photos you want to add from your phone.

You can make comments on each photo:


You’ll receive notifications when another person in the shared stream comments, likes, or adds to the stream.

Stream Feed

If you really want to focus on the images in a photo stream, turn your phone horizontally. It cuts out all of the extra white space, comments, etc. and makes a great little personal slideshow!


Another really neat thing you can do with shared photo streams is instantly create a public iCloud website, a URL that’s accessible to anyone. All of those iPhone photos you took on your fabulous trip to Europe? Just create a shared photo stream, turn on the “Public Website” option, and click “Share Link.” This will allow you to email them the URL and see a beautiful display of your images. Check out my example website created from my shared photo stream.

I’ve already started using this for sharing photos of my kids with their grandparents, but I could certainly see this being a fun tech tool to use in the educational setting. I’m thinking group projects in which students go out and capture photos to complete an assignment. Scavenger hunts, photo examples of certain types of architecture, plant identification, documenting before and after of some community project… and those are just the first few ideas that popped in my head! Endless possibilities. Oh, and of course the greatest part would be when students make their photo stream public on an iCloud website to showcase their work. Fun!

Is it Still Tasty? Or will this year-old mustard kill me, my friends, and my whole family?

photo 3Have you ever stood in the doorway of your refrigerator, staring at the date printed on a bottle of salad dressing, two months past its expiration date?  What did you do?  Use it?  Toss it?  Put it back in the fridge and inspect the neighboring bottle?  What if there was an app to help you make those decisions?

You guessed it, there is!

StillTasty is an app that can help you decide whether or not the “best by” date means toss it or it’s fine to eat.

The StillTasty database is impressively comprehensive.  Just about anything that you can imagine is listed, from spices to beverages.  Take, for example, spaghetti sauce.  Within the list of possibilities, you can learn how to store and how long to store homemade sauce and store-bought sauce (listings for opened & unopened) will last in the fridge or in the freezer.

I used this app last Thanksgiving to plan when I would do my shopping and I beat the crowds by a week!  I looked up how to properly store my brussels sprouts and green beans, and how long everything would last in the fridge.  I checked on them every day before Thanksgiving to make sure they were still fresh, and they were!  It was a relief to not have to fight the crowds.

Just last week I discovered a better way that I can store blocks of cheese.  (yeah, it doesn’t take much to excite me.)  First, wrap in wax paper and then plastic wrap.  Finding this out really helped me understand how to store blue cheese better.  Since what makes blue cheese so good is mold, I usually just went with my own made-up rule which had my throwing away half a block of Maytag after 2 days.  But now, as you can read in the image below, I can wrap the cheese up good and it can stay in my fridge for weeks.  And it will be fine to eat as long as there isn’t any extra, not so yummy, mold development.



Getting their information from a variety of reputable sources, like the US Department of Agriculture, the Food & Drug Administration, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can feel safe following their advice.

So, as long as your home storage conditions are constant at 60-70 degrees for room temperature, and 35-40 degrees for refrigerator temperature and you follow the storage guidelines–you’re good to go.

StillTasty also features shopping lists and alerts.  Set an alert for the things you buy in bulk at Costco and never wonder again whether you’ll really eat all that quinoa before it goes bad.  And more importantly, you won’t putting yourself or the ones you love in jeopardy.

According to the web version, the StillTasty app is only available for iPHone.


According to our old friend Wikipedia states “Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects.”

While RFID has ties to World War II espionage the first true RFID ancestor was patented in 1973 by Mario Cardullo. The beauty of RFID is that unlike UPC barcodes they can store information. Imagine for minute that everything in the grocery store had an RFID tag and all you had to do was pass by the reader with your full buggy and the total would appear. Just like self-check except you don’t have to remove anything from your buggy. It is both exciting and terrifying. RFID tags with your medical history could be implanted in your body!!! RFID is already being used in Alzheimer’s patients and in pets.

It really shines for inventory control. Folks that have to use a toll ways often have passes attached to the windshield that deducts money as the pass through without have to stop. Some credit card companies are using RFID in their cards so you just tap instead of swiping.

RFID is not without security concerns. For instance, those with less than benevolent intentions can use scanners to read data on RFID tags. Called skimming thieves use a generic reader to gain access to the information on the RFID which may include personal or credit card information.

Since RFID tagging is about inventory and information not security of the items tags there are a number of ways you can protect yourself if you are using RFID in your personal life.

Read more about RFID:

Wikipedia, Radio-frequency identification.

Cardullo, Mario, Genesis of the Versatile RFID Tag, RFID Journal.

How Stuff Works, How RFID Works.

Make Grocery Shopping Zippy with ZipList

Grocery shopping. Are there people out there that like grocery shopping? I guess maybe there are, but I am not one of those people. In fact, it’s safe to say I despise it.

However, since I started using ZipList 4 or 5 years ago, I despise grocery shopping far, far less. ZipList is one of the 5 or so apps I use every day, and it has completely changed the way my family and I approach grocery list making and shopping. No longer must I dig down deep in my enormous mom purse, which is really just a black hole I carry on my shoulder, to find the crumpled-up, hand-written, coffee-stained grocery list that probably doesn’t even include items my husband may have jotted down on a separate list floating around somewhere on the kitchen counter.

ZipList has saved us from this insanity.

I use a combination of the ZipList website and mobile phone app to make my shopping list wherever I am. Of course, everything automatically syncs. I’ve set up multiple lists for various stores. Here’s a shot of my different lists (left) and my grocery list (right).

ZipList Shopping Lists          ZipList Grocery List

You can see the check boxes to the left of each item. As you’re shopping you simply check off what you put into your cart.

Also, when you’re viewing a list, you can click on the gear in the top left to view various settings for that list. For example, you can tell it to sort by specific stores (it apparently knows the layout of my neighborhood Publix!). The real beauty of ZipList, for me, is the ability to share lists with my husband (and when they’re older… my kids). With his ZipList account, he can not only view all of my lists but also add to them and check off items as they’re purchased. I’ve somehow convinced him to do all of our grocery shopping (back off ladies, he’s mine), so he loves this app!

ZipList List Settings with Arrow

Another extremely helpful feature of ZipList is the ZipList Recipe Clipper. Add this bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and click it whenever you’re on a page with a recipe you want to make. Within 2 or 3 clicks, you can save recipes and import recipe ingredients into your shopping list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a hurry and forgotten to put key ingredients on our shopping list – like ground beef for a meatloaf recipe – or written down the incorrect amount of a needed ingredient. Before adding ingredients to your list, ZipList allows you to remove items from the list you already have by unchecking them (see screenshot below). This handy recipe clipper is a lifesaver.

Taco Pizza Recipe IngredientsThe final feature I think is worth highlighting here is the integration of store deals into your shopping lists. Once you tell ZipList the stores you frequent, it will let you know if those stores are having any sales on items on your list. You can click on the blue money symbol next to an item to view the deal(s).

Store Deals

Life pre-ZipList seems like a distant, unpleasant memory. I hope you’ll give it a try and find it as useful as I do!