Bits and Pieces

Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.

The National Psychologist

July-August 2005

A recent report in the American Journal of Psychiatry tested the efficacy of computerized therapy for depression.  Using an 8-week program, one-third of the patients got cognitive therapy, one-third a computerized cognitive therapy program and one-third a wait-list control.  Results indicated that both the therapy groups improved significantly more than the control group and these changes were maintained over a 6 month period.  Clearly the computer program is more cost effective and implications are far-reaching for managed healthcare.  This is not the first study of computerized treatments, but it is the first to receive such wide-ranging publicity.  What do you think? Are you going to be replaced by a computer?  Or, do you see value as an adjunct to therapy?  For interesting reading visit John Suler’s website at http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/eliza.html.

RFID

Six years ago I had my yellow lab implanted with a tiny device behind her neck.  If she got lost and was found by animal control they could scan her and determine that I was the owner.  This device was the precursor of RFID which is short for Radio Frequency Identification.  Quietly, these devices are now being integrated into everyday items such as casino chips (to prevent the use of fake ones), beer kegs (to make sure they are returned), clothing (to prevent theft), and ID badges and soon may be found in passports.  A school in California tried to make all the children wear RFIDs around their necks ostensibly to cut down on truancy.  A parent revolt quashed that idea.  But we are not far from implanting these devices in humans.  The upside? Well, if it is implanted in your wrist (the most likely place) you can just scan your wrist across a vending machine and the money will be transferred from your bank account.  Get into an accident and your medical records will be available to the doctors.  Don’t worry about someone removing it and using it since the technology already exists to make it inactive if it is not imbedded in your wrist and your wrist is not attached to your arm.  The downside? If someone can steal personal information from your computer and even from giant, corporate computers like they did at Warner Brothers, this does not bode well for these personalized RFIDs.  Right now the ethicists are arguing about it but RFIDs will prevail and they will be implanted routinely within the next five years. Sorry.

Wireless Starbucks Access

Have you used a public wireless system yet?  When my flight from Portland home was delayed two hours I sat myself down in a pub and went online.  The entire airport has wireless access.  Believe me, it helped keep me calm in a potentially tense situation.  Of course, the Newcastle helped, too.  Many Starbucks offer free access.  Philadelphia and Los Angeles have pilot projects designed to eventually spread over the entire city.  My son’s college has access everywhere including wireless printing.

To take advantage of these options all you need is a wireless receiver for your laptop.  Either you buy a small, credit card size card that fits in a slot on the side of your laptop (called a PCMCIA port) or you can get a small box the size of a package of cigarettes that plugs into your USB port.  When you enter a wireless area you go down to the bottom right side of your computer screen and right-click on the icon that looks either like a computer with a signal coming out of it or two computers, one on top of the other.  Choose the option labeled “View Available Wireless Networks.”  If there are any local networks available you will see them listed and if they are “unsecured” you can click on the name and then click “connect.”  Public networks then present you with a log-on screen which may take a minute or so to appear.

I love it but, of course, someone has figured out a way to turn it into a scary situation.  According to recent reports, a program has been developed that allows someone to disconnect you from the network and then present you with a fake log-on screen. Once you log on your data are hijacked.  Sigh.  I guess that with every innovation there will be someone trying to figure out how to make money illegally.  My suggestion, make sure that you have a good firewall and pay heed when it tells you that you are facing a potential invasion.  Also, empty your cache, purge your cookies and delete your temporary files before you log on with your latte.  In Windows click Tools à Internet Options à Delete Files (and also Clear History).

Websites of the Month

Wouldn’t you like to have your own personalized postage stamps?  I just received the first shipment from a new program (photo.stamps.com) with my very own postage stamps with a photo of my kids building a gingerbread house last Christmas. It is so simple. Take a digital photo (or have a regular photo uploaded to your computer) and follow the simple instructions. You can crop your photo, put a border around it, zoom in on part of it and then click and send it off.  Each stamp is quite large and costs about double the face value.

Do you ever need to translate some text into English or from English to another language?  Babelfish.altavista.com is where to go.  It has been around for years and is quite good at providing a decent translation.

I just discovered an amazing website for creating online surveys (http://express.perseus.com/perseus/asp/login.aspx).  I built a survey for online daters and it is free!  When you have collected the data you can get graphs of each item and can download the data into Excel and SPSS for further analysis.  Did I mention it is free?

Have a good summer and let me know if you have any questions.  E-mail me at LROSEN@CSUDH.EDU.


Copyright, 2005, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax with Visa or MC to 614.861.1996.