I’ve been a tad busy since I started my surgical placement a couple of weeks ago – 8 am starts, right through to 5 pm some days gets to be pretty exhausting, and hence I haven’t had much time to do any writing. Then I got sick, which wasn’t too fun either. I spent most of last week looking for a case I could follow from pre-op, then see the operation, and see them post-op too. It was nigh on impossible to find someone going for surgery in the immediate future that I could actually get into. On Wednesday my patient was scheduled for an appendicectomy (removal of the appendix, and not appendectomy, as our American friends would have us believe) with an approximate time of 10.30 am, and after waiting until 5 pm when I could wait no longer, I left the hospital. It wasn’t until 6.40 pm that she actually got the operation, and it didn’t even turn out to be appendicitis! Things are not always clear cut as they seem, and since I had to abandon writing this post mid-way through that sentence, I cannot remember the point I was trying to make. Anyway, the case was done, and I chose to still write about the procedure, and some new methods that are becoming more popular.
When you say surgery, the first thing that comes into your mind is a scalpel cutting a gaping hole in someone, but the laparoscopic approach (otherwise known as keyhole surgery) is the favoured method for many operations. Obviously with keyhole surgery the scar is much smaller, and the patient recovers and is out of hospital faster, so it seems like the obvious choice, but it is not without its faults. The operations are more time consuming than traditional open methods, and the equipment can be very expensive. In my mind, laparoscopic surgery was pretty modern and high-tech, but the principles behind it have been around for more than 100 years. As for the cutting edge developments, they are being made in the field of robotic surgery, giving the surgeon much more control of the instruments, and providing a 3d view inside the body. The da Vinci robot surgery machine has taken off in the USA, with hospitals adopting the technology widely, without too many questions asked. These are still early days for robot surgery, and there will be some bumps along the way, as with any big idea. The problem with da Vinci lies with Intuitive Surgical (the makers) and not the technology itself, as it was marketed at inexperienced surgeons with basic or rudimentary minimally-invasive procedure skills. The thinking behind this was purely profit driven, and that very skilled laparoscopic surgeons may not choose to adopt the technology. As a result of this, some surgeons were put in difficult positions and performed procedures they shouldn’t have, leading to loss of life in some cases. As for the safety and reliability of the device, it doesn’t seem to present any problems. Like many things, this is down to pure human error, and unskilled operators, but over time skills and training will improve and the true benefits of robot surgery can be realised. For now, it appears to be a gimmick for many hospitals desperately trying to recover their losses after being slapped with the huge costs associated with purchase and maintenance, not to mention consumables too. Patients are easy targets and promising the highest-tech surgery available is sure to interest them, but hospitals should be honest and explain the other, much cheaper options available. This is a non issue in these fair isles of course, because as soon as the NHS saw the $$$, it simply said no.
Anyway, onto the real subject as per the title. I tried to resist it for many years, and fought off buying a tablet for as long as possible, dismissing them as a fad and nothing better than big smartphones (without the phone capability). No, that’s not right. I have actually been rooting for tablets since before they were popular, or really all that functional. Yes, back in the pre-iPad era tablets did exist, mainly of the Windows variety. They have been about forever though, and in many different iterations. Many of them were bulky and ugly, but they had their own charm. Fujitsu was quite active in the tablet market in the early days, and I was rather taken with the 3500 shown below. It was released in 2001, packed a 500MHz Celeron processor, 15GB, and a battery capable of providing over 4 hours of uninterrupted computing power. That’s right, four whole hours!
When I first bought my spotting scope with a video output I was searching for a portable field monitor and recording device, and an old Windows tablet seemed like the perfect fit. Cheap, durable, and hopefully powerful enough to run the recording software. None of that really happened, and instead they were often too slow or too expensive to be worth considering. I ended up opting for the Itronix GoBook IX250; a tough laptop combined with a resistive touchscreen. It was a beast of a machine, and still is. If it falls I don’t get worried about the laptop, I worry about the damage it will cause whatever it lands on. One of the main drawbacks to the early tablets was the terrible touchscreen technology – well before capacitive touchscreens were popular, resistive was the only choice, and offered a clunky and frustrating, though pretty accurate way of inputting information. The real nightmare would be inputting text, though, as the onscreen keyboard was dire, and the handwriting recognition left a lot to be desired for too. Not to mention the slow slow performance. If you didn’t get it already, I have always had an interest in tablets.
When the iPad first came on the scene, my instant reaction was, “So what?”. So there was a big iPhone that you could pose with. So what? I was completely unmoved by the fruit company’s offering until I actually went into a store and tried it out. And I kinda liked it, I have to admit. It wasn’t enough to sway me towards parting with my life savings for a still unfinished product in my eyes, but it was enough to reignite my interest in tablet computing. A few years passed, others tablets came and went, then the Google Nexus 7 appeared on the scene. And earlier this year my dad bought himself one, so I’ve had an opportunity to play about with this great little piece of gadgetry. It just works so well, and is built incredibly well. For the money it is impossible to beat. Some put the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 up against the Nexus 7 as rival, but I don’t see what the fuss is about, as the Nexus 7 is miles ahead in a lot of areas. So what if it doesn’t have expandable storage – I have a massive microSD card in my phone, and I barely even come close to using up the external storage. Of course, being in close proximity to the Nexus 7 has made me a tad tablet jealous, and driven me to purchase my very own.
It’s not a Nexus. Nor a Galaxy Tab. In fact, I’m around 99% certain that if I told you the manufacturers name, you would shrug your shoulders. If you had mentioned Gemini Devices to me a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue what you were talking about either. They are a UK based mobile consumer electronics brand specialising in Tablet PCs and Mobile Internet Devices, based out of Birmingham. It’s nice to know there are companies closer to home trying to compete in the vast Android tablet market. I wouldn’t have normally considered this sort of device, but since they were on Misco for £80 refurbished, then I thought it was worth a punt. It was a HotUKDeals find to be correct, and seemed rather too good to be true when it first came up, as the tablet’s retail price is £179. I held off as long as possible, hoping someone would receive theirs first, and report back whether it was actually worth buying or not. Time ran short, and I took a leap of faith, hoping for the best. Moments later, comments started rolling in about being shipped dead tablets, flat batteries, frozen screens, and numerous other problems, and my heart sank. Misco thankfully had a good returns policy, but luckily I didn’t have to send it back.
The GD JoyTab Duo 9.7 Pro is the name of the unit, rather unfortunately. It is a unique design, coming packaged with a Bluetooth keyboard which forms a protective shell for the tablet screen. The tablet specs are as follows:
- 1.5 GHz Dual Core Rockchip Processor
- Quad Core Mali-400 graphics chip
- 1GB DDR3 RAM
- 16GB of internal storage (expandable to 48GB with microSD card)
- 9.7″ LCD 1024 x 768 Capacitive Touch Screen
- 8000 mAh battery
The moment I first turned on the tablet, I breathed a sigh of relief. It runs Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, which is completely stock, and they haven’t messed around at all. Better yet, it was rooted straight out of the box. This is a company that knows their customers! Who needs a custom rom when the one shipped is perfect. The screen isn’t the greatest in the world, with dodgy viewing angles at times, and text could be sharper, but it isn’t bad either. Day to day I have gotten used to the resolution, and to say it is horribly low would just be unfair. Compared to other tablets on paper it seems shocking, but at the end of the day, who really cares? Not I, for I paid only £80. It’s no slouch either, being snappy for web browsing and routine stuff. Games play really well too – it breezed through Temple Run 2, Osmos, Metal Slug X, and the new Iron Man 3 game whilst showing off some stunning mobile graphics. Quadrant was used for benchmarking, and the result shocked me slightly. Compared to my phone, the Atrix 4G, it scored almost double the points. And it also beat dad’s stock Nexus 7 on paper. The Nexus 7 is much better optimised though, and feels snappier in general use.
That’s about it for now, as I have rambled on for a rather long time, but I will have more about living with the tablet next time. Toodle-oo!