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Archive for the ‘Mobile Devices’ Category

Updates for NLM’s Tox Town City Neighborhood

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Tox Town City neighborhood now has updated graphics with a new photorealistic look. The City, Town, and Southwest scenes are now in HTML 5. Location and chemical information remains the same, but the new graphics allow users to better identify with real-life city locations. Tox Town can be accessed on a variety of personal electronic devices, including iPads, iPad minis, and tablets. Regardless of where you live, check out the updated Tox Town City neighborhood and learn about potential environmental health risks!

Designing Questionnaires for the Mobile Age

How does your web survey look on a handheld device? The Pew Research Center reported that 27% of respondents to one of its recent surveys answered using a smartphone, and another 8% used a tablet. That means over one-third of participants used handheld devices to answer the questionnaire. The lesson learned is unless you are absolutely sure your respondents will be using a computer, you need to design surveys with mobile devices in mind. As a public opinion polling organization, the Pew Center knows effective practices in survey research. It offers advice on developing questionnaires for handhelds in its article Tips for Creating Web Surveys for Completion on a Mobile Device. The top suggestion is to be sure your survey software is optimized for smartphones and tablets. SurveyMonkey fits this criterion, as do many other popular Web survey applications.

Software alone will not automatically create surveys that are usable on handheld devices. It is also important to follow effective design principles, such as keeping it simple and using short question formats. Avoid matrix-style questions. Keep the length of your survey short. And don’t get fancy with questionnaires which include logos and icons, which take longer to load on smart devices. It is also advisable to pilot test questionnaires on computers, smartphones, and tablets, to be sure to offer a smooth user experience to all of your respondents.

Low Cost Mapping Tools on NLM’s Community Health Maps Blog

Have you ever wanted to be able to use mapping for your outreach needs, but thought that making maps would be too expensive, time-consuming, or just too difficult? The main goal of the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps: Information on Low Cost Mapping Tools for Community-based Organizations blog is facilitating the use of geographic information system (GIS) mapping by providing information about low cost mapping tools, software reviews, best practices, and the experiences of those who have successfully implemented a mapping workflow as part of their work. The blog is moderated by Kurt Menke, a certified GIS professional.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can find on the Community Health Maps blog:

  • A short guide for using iForm for field data collection. iForm is an app that can be used on iPads, iPhones and Android devices, and has a free version. Using this app, you can go to different locations, gather data (for example, demographic information about attendance at your program), and view it in tabular or map format.
  • A description of a project using youth in the Philippines to collect data on the needs of their communities. Technology + Youth = Change showed how a dozen donated phones helped 30 young adults survey and map information on access to water, electricity, jobs, and more.
  • A review of a pilot project done by the Seattle Indian Health Board’s Urban Indian Health Institute on noise pollution and health in the urban environment.

MedlinePlus Releases New Responsive Web Design Interface!

New responsive design of MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en Espanol

MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español are now available with a fresh look and feel and a completely redesigned web site. The new release uses responsive design for ease of use on any device, whether that is a desktop monitor or mobile touchscreen. Responsive pages automatically change their layout to fit your screen. Further details are available by visiting the NLM announcement page.

Since this latest version enables all users to access a layout of MedlinePlus.gov optimized for their device, there is no longer a need for the separate mobile (m.medlineplus.gov) sites. These sites are now retired, and visitors to them will be redirected to the new version of MedlinePlus.gov. NLM invites you to try out the MedlinePlus full responsive design on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. A two-minute tour of the redesigned site is also available in English and Spanish. Feel free to send your feedback and comments about the new design via the “Contact Us” link that appears on every MedlinePlus page.

NLM Project to Improve Malaria Diagnosis Wins HHS Funding

Researchers at the National Library of Medicine are collaborating on a software tool to speed up the diagnosis of malaria. They’ve developed an automated system for detecting and counting parasites in blood films. The goal is to develop a version for smartphones so it can be used in the field. The project, Watch it, Parasite!, is an idea so promising, the US Department of Health and Human Services will provide support from the HHS Innovation Ventures Fund Program to take this early-stage idea to the next level.

The current standard method for malaria diagnosis in the field is light microscopy of blood films. About 170 million blood films are examined every year for malaria, which involves manual counting of parasites. To improve malaria diagnostics, the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, an R&D division of the National Library of Medicine, in collaboration with NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Mahidol-Oxford University, is developing a fully-automated system for parasite detection and counting in blood films. While existing drugs make malaria a curable disease, inadequate diagnostics and emerging drug resistance are major barriers to successful mortality reduction. The development of a fast and reliable diagnostic test is therefore one of the most promising ways of fighting malaria, together with better treatment, development of new malaria vaccines, and mosquito control.

Read more about this project by visiting NLM in Focus.

Tox Town Updates the “Town” Neighborhood Scene

The National Library of Medicine’s Tox Town resource now has an updated Town neighborhood with a new photorealistic look. All of the location and chemical information is the same, but the new graphics allow users to better identify with real-life locations. The Town scene is now available in HTML5 so, in addition to computers, it can be accessed on a variety of personal electronic devices, including ipads, ipad minis, and tablets. Regardless of where you live, you will definitely want to visit the updated Town neighborhood and learn about possible environmental health risks in a typical town.

NLM Honors Nobel Laureate Marshall Nirenberg Who Deciphered the Genetic Code

Fifty years ago, Marshall W. Nirenberg, PhD, deciphered the genetic code. It led to a Nobel Prize—the first for a scientist at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Nirenberg’s family recently donated his Nobel Prize medal to the National Library of Medicine to be added to the papers and other items that chronicle his contributions to science. NLM’s History of Medicine Division hosted the first of three events at NIH that will celebrate the legacy of Marshall Nirenberg, who died in 2010, and the fiftieth anniversary of his deciphering of the genetic code. Subsequent events will be announced by the NIH Office of Intramural Research.

A Tribute to Marshall Nirenberg was filled with personal stories from his wife; from a scientist in his lab; and from a historian who helped develop NLM’s Nirenberg collection. The event, held March 17, was recorded and can be viewed on demand. One of the most significant pieces in the Nirenberg collection is the chart that is the first summary of the genetic code. Dated January 18, 1965, when more than half of the code had been deciphered, the document, with curatorial notes provided by Serlin, was recently added to NLM’s Turning the Pages project, which is available online and as an iPad app. Dr. Nirenberg won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1968. He shared the award with Har Gobind Khorana of the University of Wisconsin and Robert W. Holley of the Salk Institute.

Keep It Simple with Micro-Surveys

A hot trend in marketing research is the micro-survey. Also known as the bite-sized survey, these questionnaires are short (about three questions) with the goal of collecting focused feedback to guide specific action. The micro-survey is a technique for overcoming what is arguably the biggest hurdle in survey assessment: Getting people to respond to your questionnaire. It is a technique that is particularly useful for populations where mobile technology use is on the rise, and where there is competition for everyone’s attention in any given moment. To better expect respondents to answer questionnaires, don’t burden them with long, matrix-like questions or require them to flip through numerous web pages. Keep things simple, or respondents will be lost before they ever get to the submit button.

The trick to micro-surveys is to keep them short, but administer multiple questionnaires over time. For example, break down a traditional membership or customer questionnaire into several micro-surveys and distribute them periodically. The length of the survey is not the only factor contributing to response rate. Follow the Dillman method, which provides time-tested guidelines for administering surveys. Also, take a look at Champagne’s Nine Principles of Embedded Assessment. His website has articles and YouTube videos on how to implement these principles. If you want to try doing a micro-survey, check out the effective practices described in this blog article from the marketing research company Instantly.

National Library of Medicine Launches TOXinvaders Game!

The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has launched TOXinvaders, an environmental health and toxicology game for the iPhone and iPad. It is available from the Apple Store. TOXinvaders supports middle school science concepts pertaining to chemistry, the environment, and health. It can serve as an engaging classroom or homework activity for middle and high school students, as well as an entertaining learning activity for gaming aficionados of all ages. In the classroom environment, TOXinvaders works best as a supplement to NLM’s Tox Town, Environmental Health Student Portal, TOXMAP, and ChemIDplus Web sites.

The game consists of four fast-paced levels, in which a launcher is used to annihilate toxic chemicals falling from the sky and earn protective shield points by capturing “good chemicals.” To move on to the next level, players must take a brief quiz about the chemicals. These dynamically generated tests provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about environmental health and toxicology from the game’s chemical information sheet and from NLM Web sites. Quiz questions and answers can also serve as a starting point for classroom discussions, as well as for Tox Town, TOXMAP, and Environmental Health Student Portal activities and experiments.

Apple’s “iWork for iCloud” Now Available to Everyone!

Apple recently made its “iWork for iCloud” app suite available to all users at no cost, even those without an Apple device. iWork for iCloud is web-only access and features web versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. To access this trio of productivity apps, you will need to create an Apple ID on iCloud.com, if you don’t already have one. Sign-up is free and includes 1GB of free storage for saving documents.

To create an Apple ID:

  1. Go to iCloud.com.
  2. Click Create Apple ID.
  3. Fill out the required account information including your email address, a strong password, and security questions.
  4. Verify your email address by entering the 6-digit code that Apple sends you.
  5. Accept the iCloud Terms of Service.

iCloud.com supports recent versions of Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Learn more about the system requirements for iCloud.