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Saturday, 01 October 2011 21:07

The software world loses a great programmer...

Written by Kamal Shah
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... to the healthcare world!

I recently switched to a full time role with NephroPlus. These have been very exciting times. Throughout my working life, the only thing I have ever done was software. Development, testing, managing. Years full of deadlines, requirements, design documents and code reviews. It has been a very rewarding experience.

When I started off in late 1999 at Summa Computers, the company belonging to my mother's friend, it was my first job. I was part time. I had just settled down into CAPD after the extremely tumultuous two-odd years with kidney disease and the unsuccessful transplant. I was itching to do something useful and my mother's friend agreed to take me on. I started learning Visual Basic and MS SQL Server.

A few months later, Obul, my uncle Paul's friend was looking to start a software company around web applications using Apple's WebObjects and he was in India and we met up and Effigent was born. Effigent took up the next eight years of my life. I worked on WebObjects apart from doing a lot of management. Effigent was definitely the most significant part of my career till now. I learnt a lot during these years both in terms of software and general stuff as well.

Somewhere in the middle, the tsunami happened and I had to eventually move from PD to home hemo.

I then joined Grene in November 2008 and worked on WebObjects, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. This were probably my best two years as a pure programmer with no management distraction. I did some great work on home automation.

Software was my first love. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

I have been involved with NephroPlus since Day 1. There is no doubt in my mind that the work I do at NephroPlus is my 'calling'. I have struggled for years to find it. I am glad that I have. Many people don't. So, that way I am fortunate.

Life is very different from that in the software world. When you develop software, you basically enable people to do things. Outside it, you actually do those things! I am now on the other side of the fence where I am looking after the implementation of software prepared by someone else at NephroPlus.

I am very excited about the work at NephroPlus. I hope the years to come are productive, fruitful and intellectually satisfying!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/10/software-world-loses-great-programmer.html

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Saturday, 01 October 2011 10:05

Birthday Videos

Written by Kamal Shah
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Here are the two videos done for my birthday, the first one by the NephroPlus folks and the second one by my Engineering College friends.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/10/birthday-videos.html

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Friday, 30 September 2011 11:13

The 48 hour birthday

Written by Kamal Shah
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I celebrated my 26th birthday on the 28th. Yes, I finally started growing. I was stuck at 25 for quite a while. After a point, you have no choice but to accept your age. Gracefully. So let it be with Kamal.

So, I went to sleep the previous night. Last year, the NephroPlus team had come home in the middle of the nightand surprised me like hell. There was no way they were going to do it again. I mean, who does these kinds of things every year?! I was on dialysis. I fell asleep after a while.

Suddenly the light came on. And there they were. The NephroPlus team trooping in one by one. Even Sara and Tabassum, former NephroPlus team mates had come! They brought a cake that I cut while on dialysis. They brought a beautiful clock and some cards. The best part was the videos that they recorded of the patients that dialyze at NephroPlus wishing me. Those were very sweet. There were also videos of the NephroPlus team that couldn't make it at night. I was really touched by Dr. S. Krishnan's video. He is a senior nephrologist of the city. This entire effort was co-ordinated by Sandeep Gudibanda, fellow director at NephroPlus. I will never forget what he did for me that night.



I couldn't sleep for almost two hours after they left.

The next morning, I went to - where else - Poorna Tiffins, had my fill of Idlis with ghee. After this I went to the Banjara Hills center where the team had decorated a part of the center with balloons and confetti and we had the cake cutting.



After this, A Srinivas suddenly called me and suggested that we have lunch together. Sure, I said. When I reached the restaurant, I was surprised to see some other really good friends there. We had a great lunch! That evening I had dinner at my favorite restaurant with my family.

At the dinner, I was shown a video by my brother done by Dinesh, Kamal Kumar and their families. These are my friends from engineering college. That video was also so beautiful! Thanks all of you!

I thought I was done. Nope. Not so soon. The East Marredpally center team complained that they did not get a chance to do the cake cutting with me. So, next morning, I went to the East Marredpally center and we had another round of cake cutting and general hungama.


And now a word about Facebook. Last year, I had this crazy notion that I shouldn't display my birthday on Facebook. Those who remembered my birthday would wish me, I thought. I was so wrong! I am no great celebrity! This year I realized that and changed the settings to show my birthdate. I was overwhelmed by the wishes. Almost 70 people wished me. Yes, it takes very little effort but the feeling that so many people wished me was really touching. People who I have talked to last close to twenty years back. They were wishing me! This is possible only on something like Facebook.

This birthday was probably my best ever. So much love and affection. I was moved beyond imagination. Thanks everyone who did this!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/09/48-hour-birthday.html

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Friday, 30 September 2011 00:22

Dialysis, yes, but Flash Mobs too

Written by Greg Collette
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Late last June Julie saw an article in the local afternoon paper about a group organising a Flash Mob to appear as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival in September and October.  The article showed about 20 people from Yarra Trams rehearsing a dance.  We really enjoyed video of the Sound of Music Flash Mob at Central Station Antwerp so we decided to get involved.

Called Crowd Play, it is the Fringe Festival’s large scale arts project for people of all ages, types, sizes and inclinations.  We both fitted into one or more of those categories, so we went along to our first rehearsal the following Saturday.  I dialyse Saturday mornings’ from 6:45am until around 10am, and after it I usually meet Julie for coffee, have a quiet lunch and maybe do a little shopping in the afternoon.  Nothing strenuous.

All that changed.  Our first rehearsal was in the auditorium of 3RRR, a community radio station in bohemian Brunswick.  There were about 30 people there, mostly young, energetic and flexible, and there was us, over 50, enthusiastic but creaky.  The dance goes for seven minutes and involves lots of arm swinging, leg kicking, chicken walking, wiggling, falling down and getting up again and even a Mexican Wave.

They began by working through each step, showing how it is done, then practicing it, then showing the transition to the next step, practicing that, then the next step and so on.  After about 5 steps, we would rehearse what we learned so far; have a break and move on.  It was great fun.  I realised two things very early.  Coordinated movement was not my strong point and it takes me a lot longer than I thought to turn through 360 degrees.

But who cares?  The idea of Crowd play is to have all kinds dancing.  It’s not a professional group, it’s just a crowd of people suddenly bursting into dance!  Not quite making the turn, or forgetting that first leg kick is half the fun.

By the end of the 1.5hr practice we were hot, thirsty, tired and well on the way to knowing the first third of the dance.  It only struck me after the session that I had completely forgotten that I had dialysed just 3 hrs before.

For the next three months, we practiced every Saturday:  a couple more times at the radio station, once in a breakout room at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton and then at the Blue Circus Studios in Fitzroy, below the ropes and trapeze.  The venues were an adventure in themselves.

Meanwhile other groups were practicing on other days, at similar public venues or at their workplaces (like Yarra Trams), where a Crowd Play ambassador would go to them to teach the dance.  In all about 500 people signed up.

Eventually we learned all the steps (sort of), and about the same time it was all of a sudden only a week to go before our first performance.  Three were planned, all on Wednesdays at 1:30pm in inner city locations, kept secret until the day before.

Our practices then became Large Group Rehearsals, held in the evening at the old Meat Market in North Melbourne.  About 80 turned up when we went on the Monday before our first Wednesday outing, and it was a real buzz with so many people dancing together.

In addition to the dance, there’s singing.  At the start of each performance a band called The Bandits, formed from people with intellectual disabilities, gradually gathers together and sings Dancing in the Dark.  Neither of us can sing for nuts, so we didn’t go to those practices.

Now all we had to do was wait until Tuesday, when we would receive an email with the first location.  It arrived just after lunch.  Our first appearance was at Flagstaff Gardens, right on the edge of the CBD to the north of the city.  There were also instructions:

On the day, arrive no more than a few minutes before the performance. Dress inconspicuously, but comfortably for dancing and singing, and only bring a bag if you can dance with it!  We won’t have anywhere to store bags and we’d hate you to lose track of it.  

There will be a “busker” with a guitar who will start singing with The Bandits – when they get to that first chorus, then everybody else join in! The dance will follow the song. 

At the end, remember to hold the final pose for a few seconds.

There will be media – both photos and video cameras there. Afterwards, some might approach you to get your thoughts on be a part of this great event.

Naturally we messaged everyone we knew and invited them along.  So much for an unsuspecting public.

Wednesday afternoon arrived and Julie and I met around 1pm near the Gardens.  We walked up to where it was happening to check out the lay of the land.  We saw a few other familiar faces, then left.  In the interim, a range of our relatives and friends arrived and set up camp.

About 15 minutes before “D” minute, we went back to the gardens and nonchalantly stood around, in direct contravention to the rules.  It’s hard to look casual when you are nervous.

Finally, the singing started and we moved forward.  Within 5 minutes about 200 of us became a genuine Flash Mob, dancing in front of a (mostly) astonished crowd.  We moved as one, more or less - I remembered most moves, but still couldn’t get those 360 turns right.  But it was great fun – what a buzz!  The audience clapped and hooted when we finished and Julie and I and every other dancer couldn’t stop smiling.

There were cameras there. We made the TV news that night, the paper the next morning and there is a  YouTube video.

Our next performance was outside the Melbourne Museum during school holidays.  There were about 250 of us there, and a bigger crowd.  It was just as big a buzz.

Our last appearance is next Wednesday.  It will be a bitter-sweet moment, at least until next year!

Who says you can’t enjoy life on BigD?

... http://bigdandme.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/dialysis-yes-but-flash-mobs-too/

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 09:58

There is a solution for Restless Legs Syndrome

Written by Kamal Shah
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Many dialysis patients have something called "Restless Legs Syndrome". There is an irresistible urge to shake or move the legs and the inability to sit or lie still. This was my biggest problem many years back.

Many patients do not know how to describe this feeling. Many doctors don't know about it either. But it is a common problem. So, what happens is, let's say you're sitting (maybe at home or in a car). After a few minutes, you just have to get up and walk briskly. You just cannot sit. Or at night, when you are sleeping, suddenly you just have to shake your legs vigorously. You cannot sleep. All these are symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome.

Remember, you are not alone. this is a common side effect of kidneys not working properly.

Luckily for us, there is a solution. If you are facing these symptoms, you should talk to your nephrologist about Gabapentin. Describe the symptoms and ask if you can use Gabapentin. It is available in doses of 100 mg and 300 mg as Neurontin in the US and Gabantin in India. Definitely do not take it without consulting your nephrologist who will assess the severity of your symptoms and decide the dosage and frequency.

This drug actually saved me from a lot of problems. It rid me of the symptoms in days.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/09/there-is-solution-for-restless-legs.html

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Monday, 26 September 2011 17:46

NxStage Users UK – Forum

Written by Steve Bone
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The NxStage Users UK forum is now live and ready to take your discussions! You can find it by going to www.nxstageusersuk.co.uk or you can just click this link. There are several categories for different subject discussions, but if you want to add a new category, please just let me know.

If NxStage or Kimal respond to any discussions they will be published in full.

Got something to say? Had a good experience, or maybe a not so good experience? Share it and we can all benefit by improving our collective knowledge.

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... http://mydialysis.co.uk/blog/2011/09/26/nxstage-users-uk-forum/

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Monday, 26 September 2011 09:39

Informative brochure released by the aHUS Foundation

Written by Kamal Shah
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The atypical HUS Foundation has just released a very informative brochure about the disease. The brochure can be downloaded from here.

The brochure explains the disease in simple terms and also talks about the types and the treatment options. It also has some stories of people affected by this disease. (Hint: See Page 5 of the brochure!)

It has been put together by the Foundation for Children with Atypical HUS, a group of people whose children have been affected by this disease. It also has some adults (like me) who have aHUS.

This is a very rare disease and some 300 children and a handful of adults in the US are expected to have it. It requires a very dedicated team to do any kind of research on diseases such as this because there is hardly any bang for the buck, so to speak. So, only the very academically inclined who really have a deep interest in this class of diseases or the underlying phenomena get into this.

For diseases that are more 'mainstream', any work by researchers yields a lot of benefits simply because of the volume of patients that would benefit from the work.

It is through this foundation that patients such as me can come to know about all that's happening in this small world of aHUS.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/09/informative-brochure-released-by-ahus.html

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Sunday, 25 September 2011 08:28

How RSS feeds dry up our lives

Written by Kamal Shah
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I use Google Reader to track all the news I am interested in on different subjects for example, aHUS, dialysis, Apple etc. And I use the Reader app on my iPad to check the feeds and go through the stories. I also use the same mechanism to read the blogs I follow. This method however, strips out the 'soul' of the blogs - the backgrounds, sometimes the images and videos and the comments.

This is all right for news articles but not for blogs. Blogs must be read on the original site, not using a feed reader. Is there a solution for this? I had written something similar a while back here and I haven't found a solution for this yet.

Basically all I want is an app that checks the blogs I follow if there are any new posts and then show only those blogs in their original interface - exactly like they would appear if I visited the blog website.

Any suggestions?

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/09/how-rss-feeds-dry-up-our-lives.html

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Saturday, 24 September 2011 12:59

New forum on mydialysis site

Written by Steve Bone
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I’m pleased to say I have now started up a forum on the my dialysis site which is embedded in the blog. This is a public forum so anything posted here will, after moderation, be visible to all. Given the development of NxStage in the UK, then this is a good opportunity to broaden the discussion and ‘compare notes’ to help those either new to dialysis, or those maybe in the queue to go home on dialysis and need to make decisions with their health professionals about what is the best way forward for haemodialysis. Decisions about whether to have a ‘conventional’ machine or to go the NxStage route. Maybe NxStage is the new ‘convention’.

Anyway, got something to say, no matter how small, then please feel free to contribute. This is a discussion location about dialysis in all forms and also kidney disease that brings us to this place and time.

Go to ‘Discussions’ in the top menu bar.

Tags: , ,

... http://mydialysis.co.uk/blog/2011/09/24/new-forum-on-mydialysis-site/

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