Compliance (Medical)

At a recent talk, I learned of the word “compliance” in medical parlance. It refers to the patient’s likelihood of complying with the doctor’s prescription, usually in relation to the number of tablets needed to be taken at one sitting. The talk was a product launch for a tablet with 60mg dose instead of 30mg as was previously available.

Yesterday after my wisdom tooth surgery, I was prescribed 10 tablets 3 times a day. My head knowledge instantly translated into heart knowledge. I have never had to take so much medication before!

Visit to a Fish Farm

My family went to buy some goldfish today, and I saw a certain species of rays selling at $4,500. Not sure whether that was for one or a pair. Hehe. We got eight $3 goldfishes. It was nice that the person who took the fishes out actually inspected them one by one before putting them into the pail. He recommended against taking one because its tail wasn’t beautiful. If the goldfish had emotions, I wonder what it would have felt. Would it have been happy for not being caught, or sad for being rejected?

It has been an awesome weekend at cellgroup and church. Looking forward to an exciting week ahead!

Scanning a Notebook

Spent the better part of this afternoon transforming one of my old B5 sermon notebooks into a 56.1mb PDF. Overall I’m satisfied with the results though it would have been wonderful if the OCR worked. Anyway I struggled to read my own handwriting… so I don’t think I can blame the OCR for not deciphering it.

This is the equipment that I used:

I decided to do it on a computer as it provides me with much more advanced controls. With the SCX-4828FN, I can only either scan simplex using the ADF or do everything manually on the flatbed. Furthermore I would be unable to preview my progress and any mistakes would only be noticed later. There were also some A4 printed inserts which I had to handle manually. Thankfully PDF is a really flexible document format that allows pages of different sizes.

Another area where I ended up intervening on is pages on which I had used a glitter pen to write. I didn’t want to feed them through the ADF at risk of the glitter rubbing off on the rollers.

I scanned the whole notebook in full color (with printed notes in grayscale) as I mostly used a colored pens. Grayscale would definitely have saved a lot of space but I felt that was not necessary. One gotcha was that my root directory was getting full with only about 25mb of space remaining! After having scanned over 50% of the notebook, I realized that I couldn’t even save the project into a PDF! So at 6:20pm I decided to start from scratch as the filenames in the tmp directory were completely random and I didn’t want to piece together the jigsaw puzzle.

The scanning seemed to stop between each page. I suspect this is due to the scanner buffering content before sending it to the PC. This might be due to the SANE Linux driver that I was using.

gscan2pdf allowed me to set flexible page number progressions, e.g. incrementing page numbers by different multiples, thus I could utilize the simplex ADF to scan one side of a stack of notes before scanning the other side.

Learning points:

  • Better OCR. It might be possible to train tesseract on my handwriting, but I realized that even in the span of one notebook I had switched handwritings and used different pens.
  • Better color control. Again the NAA has done a good job with their document Digitising accumulated physical records.
  • Though this is a seemingly simple project, having OCR, running other graphical processing filters and exporting to PDF all takes encoding. I had no qualms spending 2 hours to rip 1 hour from a DVD, but for this more interactive endeavor a faster processor would have made the experience more enjoyable.
  • Write properly. You’ll never know who needs to read what you’ve written, even yourself! Use good contrast ink and white paper is really the best at the end of the day.

Weird! When I scan a single page, the free disk space on my root file system dips by about 35mb, before going back up to the previous number. However when I use the ADF and scan pages in bulk, it seems that only the disk space of the last page gets reclaimed, thus the program is taking up some space somewhere on my root file system. gscan2pdf problem.

Ended up doing a separate scan of the remaining pages and using Preview to fix them up… oh well. Just finished at 8:45pm, a total of 2h 25m! Not good but alright for the first time. Total of 125 pages, resulting in an average 449kb per 300dpi scanned B5 page. I am guessing that gscan2pdf used jpg compression.

For those who are interested, you can take a look at this file: Scanned Sermon Notes sample.

  • Pages 1 – 2: The first sermon I have recorded in this book
  • Page 3: A scanned sermon note
  • Page 4: Notes written with a glitter pen
  • Page 5: Trying out a new handwriting

I expect subsequent projects to take much less time as I didn’t use my glitter pen subsequently.





Family Digital Archival and Preservation Project

I’m not sure when was the first time I thought of digitizing and archiving everything at home. It was probably crafted part by part over the years, influenced by my IT background and movies I watched. In line with reorganizing the house, I thought that I should get started by writing down my thoughts on this matter.

Key components are:

  • Digitization: converting of analog material (photos, video tapes, cassette tapes, paper documents, etc.) into digital forms. For convenience ripping of CDs/DVDs falls under this category too. Perhaps this should be labelled “input”.
  • Curation and cataloging: sorting, tagging, metadata, flagging, voting, creating useful playlists
  • Preservation: backup & restore, digital format advancement
  • Searching and retrieval: Apache solr?

Secondary components include:

  • Restoration: Noise removal, click removal, levelator; unpaper, photo restoration

There are a number of main types of media that I’ve come up with:

  • Audio
    • Speech (sermon, etc.)
    • Music
  • Video
    • Speech
    • Music
    • Video without sound (e.g. CCTV feed)
  • Photos
  • Documents

There are two areas that I may consider outsourcing to professional services if I feel the need arises as they are beyond my expertise/time:

  • Digital restoration, especially for old photos
  • Transcription, or at least verification of OCR’d or machine transcribed text

I’ve been thinking over how to best implement this, and I feel that Drupal may actually be the most flexible starting point, though I’m not sure how that would integrate with set top boxes and other systems. The vision of course is for a system that I can easily navigate from the comfort of the sofa on the TV set. RSS would be the most intuitive option. The Mac mini looks like the most tempting option for a set top box except that it is a little pricey given that I will likely put Linux on it.

It would of course be nice for this to be integrated with my personal data bank though I assume it shouldn’t be too hard to do within Drupal. If I add RFIDs to visitors in the future, the system would potentially be able to load different playlists based on the people in the room, while setting a whole host of other variables too (room temperature, background music, quotes and wallpaper on LCD/LED screens). Alright, I diverge…

Found this interesting publication on Designing and Implementing Recordkeeping Systems from the National Archives of Australia that I believe is useful for anyone who is planning to embark on such a project.

I plan to continue to write about the practicalities of doing this including:

  • Hardware and software used in digitization, roughly:
    • Scanner with (ideally duplex) Automatic Document Feeder for documents
    • Flatbed scanner for photographs (not sure how well they’ll play with an ADF)
    • DVD (blu-ray if necessary) drive for reading optical drives
    • possibly gimp on Linux
    • cassette tape player (just converted an old sermon from tape into mp3 today)
    • audacity for audio recording and manipulation
    • OCR tools: watch-ocr, tasseract, etc.
    • speech recognition tools
    • catalog system
  • Workflow
    • As a secondary project, I expect this to take a minimum of 3 months up to possibly 12, depending on the rate at which data is digitized.
    • The biggest time delays are usually not in actions but in inaction, not knowing what’s the next step. That’s the reason why I want to document and share my workflow that others may benefit from it.
  • Possible partners
    • As mentioned above I lack the time and skills required for certain operations. It would be ideal to be able to source talent from my network first as it will minimize my worries of personal information being leaked.
  • Preservation
    • Tools used to keep materials up to date. Current filetypes/encodings I’ll probably start with are: jpg for photos, mp3/aac for audio, mkv (h.264/aac) for videos and pdf for documents.
    • Scripts for batch processing and backups. Putting so many eggs in one basket, I would consider it far too risky not to have offsite backup.

If this is something of interest to you, leave me a message and see if we can share on ideas to solve some of the problems that stand in the way!

My Jesus I Love Thee

My Jesus I Love Thee by William Featherston

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as You lend me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Managing Emotions

Wow I can’t believe how much has been happening just being back in Singapore. Perhaps I have indeed been slightly out of touch with Singapore’s degree of busyness after one year in Ho Chi Minh City. Let’s see what just passed:

  • Easter
  • Labor Day
  • Parents went to Ho Chi Minh City
  • WYZ Family Day
  • Book of Ezekiel Bible Study
  • Mum went to Cambodia

And coming up in the next few weeks..

  • Singapore General Elections
  • Mother’s Day
  • Attend a hearing
  • Good friend’s wedding

It is true that some of the items do not involve any action, but as I’ve realized and as noted by this article, The Cognitive Cost of Doing Things, there are costs involved even before we lift up a finger. Aside from cognitive costs, I believe that there are emotional costs. This period for me has been intensely emotional.

The first weekend I was back, April 16, Ps Phil preached on Knowing God from Daniel 11:32. He talked about coming face to face with God, and how the root of doing great comes out of an encounter with God. It was really timely with my recent rededication to live in completely abandonment towards God. It had been ages, maybe years since I last knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was right there. No, right here. With me.

Easter means a lot to me. There used to be a time when I contemplated suicide as a way out of the pressures that I was facing. This was way back in secondary school. I was already in City Harvest back then. One fine Easter, we were having service in the Singapore Indoor Stadium. I do not remember the exact year off the top of my head, but the drama that day transformed my life. That day, when my eyes were opened to the pain that Jesus went through in the 3 days, I realized the unfairness of taking my own life. That day I resolved that even if I were to go through life as a loser, suicide would never be an option. I didn’t realize this that day, but thanks be to God for overcoming death at the cross, I don’t need to struggle through life as a loser but can live in victory every single day! Thank God for another blessed drama this year :-)

Last night I went for the book of Ezekiel BS. It was another unanticipated important meeting for me. It reminded me of the importance of keeping my heart right. That a simple “aha” was Edom’s sin.

There is so much more that I want to write about. But time would not permit me to write all that I want to express. For now, it is time to get some rest. It is going to be another exciting day tomorrow.