Facebook’s New Patent Will Enable It To See Into Your Fridge & Suggest a Recipe

Michael Wolf wrote . . . . . . . .

Facebook was issued a new patent today outlining a system that would allow users to access and control networked devices in the home through their mobile app and enable the social network to serve up ads based on the contents of a person’s fridge or other data gathered from inside the home.

The patent, called “Controlling Devices Through Social Media” (US patent #9,967,259), explains a number of scenarios in which Facebook users may access and control networked devices in the home. They also outlined how the could provide recommendations for the user based on data gathered from in-home sensors and cameras, as well as information from the person’s Facebook profile.

One such example has Facebook accessing a camera within a refrigerator and providing a meal recommendation. From the patent:

As an example and not by way of limitation, a refrigerator may include cameras to take pictures of items placed in the refrigerator and upload the images to the cloud, where image recognition may be performed upon the images, and an identification of the items may be provided to the refrigerator. As another example, a refrigerator may retrieve recipes from the cloud based on the items in the refrigerator and user-preference information from the user’s social network.

Facebook’s patent also outlines how it could notify the user when their milk is about to expire or they’re out of eggs. If that isn’t weird or creepy enough, they also outline scenarios where they would send targeted advertising to people within the person’s social graph.

From the patent:

“…as an example and not by way of limitation, a user may purchase a particular brand of hot sauce, and a target group of users may receive a notification based on their affinity for that brand of hot sauce or for hot sauce in general.”

Now, it may seem a bit strange for Facebook to be pushing even further into our lives at a time when many of us (including the government) have a heightened concern about how much information we provide to the social network. But in its defense, the patent was filed back in a simpler time – July 2014 – when many of today’s privacy concerns weren’t as front and center.

It also should be noted that at the time Facebook filed its patent, it had grand designs on making Facebook an IoT platform. However, in 2016 the company decided to shelve Parse, the IoT platform it had spent a few years developing.

All that said, it’s worth keeping an eye on this patent in case Facebook decides to revive its push to connect itself to our physical world.

Source: The Spoon

The 3-Step Guide to Beating Back Pain

Hallie Levine wrote . . . . . . . .

Aching lower backs, either acute or chronic, affect nearly half of healthy, active people older than 60, according to a February study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“Lower back pain is one of the most common pain problems for older adults and one of the most frustrating because there are no easy fixes,” says Roger Chou, M.D., a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Traditional treatments such as opioid pain pills, steroid injections, and surgery are not necessarily very effective and can have significant downsides.

But some good evidence supports certain nondrug and nonsurgical options. That’s why 2017 guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommend them—and suggest drugs or surgery only when other therapies fail.

That advice is backed up by a nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 3,562 back-pain sufferers.

More than 80 percent who tried yoga or tai chi, massage therapy, or chiropractic said it had helped them, as did more than 60 percent of respondents who tried acupuncture or physical therapy.

But experts agree that a personalized plan is best. “Everyone responds to pain differently,” says Jack Ende, M.D., immediate past president of the ACP. “And what works for one person may fall flat in another.”

So which steps should you take when your back starts aching, and in what order? Here’s what the research and our experts recommend.

When Back Pain First Strikes

Back pain is considered acute when a new episode lasts for less than four weeks. If your back begins to hurt, experts suggest starting with the following:

Heat or ice. For instance, a warm shower, hot-water bottle, or heating pad can reduce pain. Ice may also feel good.

Gentle activity. It’s best to resume normal activity. (If you can’t, walk for a few minutes every few hours, Ende says.) If you’re able, try easy stretches. A 2017 Cochrane Collaboration review found that people with back pain who were told to stay somewhat active reported less discomfort and recovered faster than those advised to stay in bed.

OTC pain relievers if needed. While the ACP emphasizes nondrug measures, Ende says over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil or generic) or naproxen (Aleve and generic) can be used for a week or two.

If You’re Still in Pain After a Week or Two

If you still have a lot of pain at this point, your doctor may provide a home-based exercise program or refer you to physical therapy for supervised exercise. (Some sessions are usually covered by insurance.)

PT may include massage or low-level laser therapy, but the exercise component is key. People who get PT within 90 days of the onset of pain get fewer imaging tests and questionable treatments, according to a study published in 2015 in the journal BMC Health Services Research.

After a month or two, you may feel well enough to get back to—or start—a normal exercise program.

And that’s important: People who have had lower back pain but are active are about one-third less likely to see it recur, according to a review published in 2017 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

When Pain Persists for Months

For pain that continues even after a couple of months of home-based exercise or PT, the ACP recommends considering these (some may be covered by insurance):

Yoga and tai chi. They strengthen core muscles, relieving pressure on your back, says Benjamin Kligler, M.D., national director of the Integrative Health Coordinating Center for the Veterans Health Administration.

A 2017 Cochrane review of studies concluded that yoga improved back function. And research used as a basis for the ACP guidelines found that tai chi was useful for chronic back pain. It can also help with shorter-term pain, but it may take several weeks for you to see results, Kligler says.

Your doctor may be able to refer you to a local class for yoga (opt for a gentle form) or tai chi. YMCAs and fitness centers may also offer them.

Or find a list of certified instructors through the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association, the Yoga Alliance, or the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction. If back pain has you feeling depressed or anxious, CBT—which focuses on circumventing negative thought patterns—may help. MBSR increases awareness and acceptance of pain with practices such as yoga and meditation.

Adults with chronic back pain who did either technique for 2 hours a week for eight weeks reported significant relief, according to a study published in 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Ask your doctor for the names of cognitive behavioral therapists, or check the website of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Spinal manipulation. Used by chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and some massage therapists, it involves moving the joints of the spine. A review published last year in JAMA found that spinal manipulation significantly improved pain and function for those with acute lower back pain. A Cochrane review concluded that it works as well as exercise, PT, or standard medical care for chronic back pain.

Check your health insurer’s website for licensed chiropractors and doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), then ask your primary care doctor for a referral. (Our survey found that spinal manipulation is more likely than most nondrug treatments to be covered by insurance, at least partly.) Roger Chou at Oregon Health & Science University advises trying it for three to four weeks but moving on if it’s not helping.

Acupuncture. This involves inserting very fine needles into specific points on the body. “I usually have people with chronic back pain try a course of PT because it’s usually covered by insurance, and if that doesn’t seem to help, recommend they try acupuncture for six to eight sessions,” says Joseph Herrera, D.O., system chair for rehabilitation medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

A large review of studies found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatment and no treatment for all kinds of chronic pain, including back pain. But it may cost you $100 or more per session. Make sure any acupuncturist you see is licensed by the state. Find listings on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s website.

What About Meds and Surgery?

If none of the above help or you’re in significant pain while starting a treatment like PT, a week or two of medication is reasonable, Chou says. The ACP recommends over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

If you can’t take an NSAID or need stronger relief, consider the prescription pain pill tramadol (Ultram and generic) or the antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta and generic). Both have only a small effect on back pain, so you’ll need nondrug methods as well.

The nerve-pain drug gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant, and generic) is often prescribed for muscle pain, but research suggests that it’s not very effective and causes side effects such as dizziness.

And groups such as the ACP and the American Academy of Family Physicians strongly advise against the use of opioid painkillers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin and generic).

“These drugs are very problematic in seniors because they increase the risk of falls, as well as other concerns such as addiction and overdose,” Chou says.

Should surgery ever be an option? Only for persistent pain, numbness, and tingling that radiates down a leg from a herniated disk; severe or progressive weakness in a foot or leg; or spinal stenosis that hasn’t responded to therapies such as PT, Ende says. Even then, you can hold off if you’re seeing improvement.

Imaging Tests: When to Consider, When to Skip

You may be tempted to run to your doctor and request an X-ray or MRI for back pain. But that’s rarely helpful.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about these screening tests is that we can easily ID the cause from them,” says Richard Deyo, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. “The reality is, older adults usually have something that shows up on an X-ray or MRI, like worn-out or bulging disks. But oftentimes that’s not the cause of the problem.”

Consider imaging if you’ve had pain for six weeks and it’s not getting better, Deyo says. In that case, a pinched nerve may be contributing to the problem.

You should also contact your doctor immediately for an imaging test if you have back pain along with unexplained weight loss, a fever higher than 102° F, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of strength or numbness in one or both legs, or a history of cancer. These may be signs of nerve damage, infection, or a tumor.

Source: Consumer Reports

Bread Rolls with Beetroot and Longan


Pre-ferment dough

175 g bread flour
100 g water
5 g fresh yeast
2.5 g salt
5 g skimmed milk powder


75 g bread flour
72.5 g beet root puree
7.5 g skimmed milk powder
2.5 g sea salt
2.5 g fresh yeast
32.5 g sugar
37.5 g dried longans
20 g unsalted butter


  1. To make the pre-fermented dough, dissolve the yeast in water. Add flour, salt and milk powder. Knead until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 17 hours. The dough lasts well in the fridge for 72 hours.
  2. Peel the beetroot and cut into small pieces. Puree in a blender.
  3. Cut the pre-ferment dough into small pieces.
  4. Put all dough ingredients (except butter and dried longans) into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the cut-up pre-ferment dough. Mix well. Knead until smooth.
  5. Add butter and knead until the dough can be stretched into thin films without breaking.
  6. Add dried longans. Mix over low speed for 1 or 2 minutes until it doesn’t stick to the bowl.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball. Put it into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
  8. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions. Press trapped air out of each piece. Roll them into a ball. Leave them for 20 minutes to rest.
  9. Press the trapped air out. Shape each piece of dough into a pointed oval by rolling both ends. Place on parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for final proofing until it expands 70% in size (about 30 minutes).
  10. Line a baking tray with silicone baking mat. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the rolls over the cornmeal. Spray water on top and sprinkle with bread flour. Make a few incisions on top with a sharp knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 14 to 15 minutes until golden. Spray water inside the oven occasionally during the baking process to create steam.

Makes 4 rolls.

Source: Devoted to Bread Making

Decorative Bread Loaves

Antibiotics Tied to Higher Kidney Stone Risk

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . .

If you or your child is taking an antibiotic, new research suggests you might want to watch closely for signs that kidney stones might be developing.

“We found that five classes of commonly prescribed antibiotics were associated with an increased risk of kidney stones,” explained study author Dr. Gregory Tasian.

That increased risk appeared to linger for three to five years, and pediatric patients were the most vulnerable to developing the painful condition.

The findings echoed those of prior studies, “although we did not know which specific classes of antibiotics would be associated with an increased risk of stones and which ones would not,” Tasian added.

Tasian is an assistant professor of urology and epidemiology with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

The five antibiotic classes newly linked to kidney stone risk included sulfas (Bactrim, Gantanol); cephalosporins (Keflex); fluoroquinolones (Cipro); nitrofurantoin/methenamine (Macrobid, Hiprex); and broad-spectrum penicillins. No risk was observed among seven other classes of oral antibiotics.

Tasian stressed that this doesn’t mean people should avoid antibiotics when they’re truly needed.

“Antibiotics have saved millions of lives and are needed to prevent death and serious harm from infections,” he said. “The benefits outweigh the potential harms. These results don’t suggest that antibiotics should not be prescribed when indicated.”

However, they do support “the judicious and appropriate use of antibiotics, and reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics,” Tasian noted.

One kidney expert agreed that the proper use of the drugs is a balancing act.

“This study is another reminder that physicians have to be mindful of potential adverse effects of antibiotics and need to promote appropriate antibiotic stewardship. This is especially true since many antibiotics may be unwarranted,” said Dr. Maria DeVita, training program director for nephrology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, kidney stones arise following mineral build-up in a patient’s urine.

In some cases, small solid pebbles pass through the urinary tract without symptoms, while other people experience blood in the urine alongside sharp pain in the back, side, lower abdomen or groin.

Tasian noted that over the last three decades kidney stone incidence has skyrocketed by 70 percent, largely among children and adolescents.

Experts are unclear as to why. But prior research has cited a possible association with disturbances in the bacterial makeup (microbiome) of the intestinal and urinary tracts, which is often sparked by antibiotics.

And antibiotic prescriptions are increasingly common. As the researchers noted, in 2011, American doctors prescribed 262 million courses of antibiotics, with women and children forming the largest pool of recipients.

With that in mind, investigators used British health care data to isolate kidney stone cases among millions of patients treated by 641 general health care practitioners between 1994 and 2015. Roughly 26,000 kidney stone patients were identified.

The team then examined whether or not any of these patients had been prescribed any of 12 different classes of oral antibiotics in the three to 12 months leading up to their kidney stone.

This lengthy time frame was chosen because kidney stones can take weeks or even months to form.

The risk for kidney stones was greatest within three to six months following an antibiotic regimen, before ratcheting down over the ensuing three to five years.

Specifically taking sulfa antibiotics, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, nitrofurantoin/methenamine, and broad-spectrum penicillins were linked to a 1.3 to 2.3 times greater risk for kidney stones, the investigators noted.

But the study did not prove that these drugs caused kidney stones.

“For those five classes of antibiotics, the greatest risk was found among younger patients,” said Tasian. “However, the increased risk was still significant across all ages, including for older adults with the exception of broad-spectrum penicillins, which were not associated with an increased risk of kidney stones among patients over 75 years of age.

“At this time, we do not have any ways to limit the risk associated with antibiotics,” Tasian said. But he added that his work may eventually “provide additional insight into how, ultimately, we might be able to restore a healthy microbiome, or mitigate the adverse changes that exposure to certain antibiotics cause.”

The findings were published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Source: HealthDay

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