Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mac OS X and Eclipse Debugger's "Drop To Frame"

After years of using it, I've become dependent on the debugger feature, Drop To Frame (described here, here, and here). Briefly, it allows you to select any level (frame) in the call stack during debugging and force the JVM to rollback to that point. It's a little difficult to explain briefly, but trust me when I say that once you've used it you quickly learn to depend on it.

So you can imagine my dismay when I recently started doing all of my Eclipse work on Mac OS X and discovered that Drop To Frame is disabled. It is a feature that not all JVMs support (specifically, those prior to Java 1.4), but I just can't believe that the modern Mac JVMs don't (I've tried running my apps in both Java 5 and Java 6 JVMs).
I asked about this on the Eclipse newsgroups/forums and on IRC, but no response so far. I'm hoping that the blogosphere might have some more insight...

Update: it seems that Drop to Frame is enabled sometimes, but only part-way down the stack, and sometimes not at all. The app I'm debugging has no native code in it, so that's not the culprit in this case. So I'm still looking for some insight into what enables/disables the feature.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Experience with OmniPod

For those that don't know, I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. About a year and a half ago I changed from taking 3-5 injections a day, to using an insulin pump. But no ordinary, tubes-hanging-out-of-you, beeper-looking-thing-attached-to-your-hip, insulin pump - no, I chose the OmniPod tubeless pump system. I've had some requests for my overall impression, and below is something I wrote in response to one of those requests.

I've been a Type I diabetic for over 20 years and I can honestly say that OmniPod has changed my life. For me, not only is the technology an improvement over injections, but it has re-invigorated me and my interest in controlling my disease. In other words, using OmniPod somehow got me more interested in managing diabetes again, instead of being complacent.

Of course like most 'Podders, the big attraction for me was the lack of tubes. I had been turned off by traditional pumps for years because of the tubing, but OmniPod was intriguing because of the freedom from tubes that it offers.

As for cost, even with good insurance it is likely that using the OmniPod will cost you more than injections. My insurance coverage is pretty good, but I still have a deductible each year and then pay 20% after that (used to be 10% until this year). If cost is a big concern for you then you should definitely find out exactly what your policy covers. I think any kind of insulin pump is going to have higher cost. You local sales rep at Insulet can tell you exactly how much it will cost before you have to pay anything.
If you want specific examples... My deductible is $300 per year, which even before OmniPod I would easily use up for lab/blood work. After that, the pod cost is somewhere around $250-$300 per month, 20% of which I must pay under my insurance plan. So it's not dirt-cheap, but for me easily worth it.

I find the system to be very easy to use (but I am a tech geek and love all kinds of gadgets). Even for the average person I think they've spent a lot of effort to make it simple. The process of changing a pod has about 4-5 steps, but they are easy and the PDM (controller "computer") guides you through each one. I think after only 2 or 3 times the average person will be very comfortable with the process; and the training is very thorough. Honestly, think about testing your blood or taking an injection; think of how natural that is for you and how you don't really have to think about it while doing it. Using the OmniPod is the same; you do it so much that it quickly becomes second-nature.

I've only had one or two very minor issues, and with the help of the customer service and the local trainer I've been able to solve them. I've read of some people who have certain problems (like someone who says the pods don't stick well to their skin and try to fall off before the 3 days is up), but I really think those are the minority because thousands of people use it successfully. I've never had any kind of trouble like that, even though I am very active and play several different sports with the pods on (including wrestling with my 3-year-old son).

My control is much improved since I started using OmniPod. I was always turned off by insulin pumps because of the tubing; it was a big turn-off for me to be attached to a pump all the time. Now that I've been using OmniPod for over a year I can't imagine going back to injections. It is very discreet when I want it to be, but I've found it to be a great "conversation piece" too; everyone is fascinated to hear about it if I talk about it.

I love how it lets me be more free to do things like a normal person, instead of having to worry about carrying insulin bottles/pens, needles, and alcohol wipes everywhere. I am so much more free I can't even tell you!
Here's an example: this summer we took our son to Disney World for his birthday. We were at the park from 10am until 11pm. We ate at odd times, food that I was not certain of the ingredients or carbohydrate content, and several little snacks. Plus, we were doing lots of walking which tends to lower my blood-sugar quite a bit. That day would have been a nightmare if I was still using injections. I used to take Lantus as a basal, once per day, and then Novolog (pen) at meal times. I would have had to adjust my Lantus the night before to account for the exercise (walking) and then would have worried about keeping my Novolog pen cool throughout the hot day, taking several injections to cover the small "meals" and the unknown carbs I was getting. I would have almost certainly been too high or two low most of the day because of all the uncertainty and irregular schedule. But with the OmniPod, I was able to easily decrease my basal rate once we started walking, based on what my blood-sugar measured. And I was easily able to take a meal dose each time we ate something or I tested my blood-sugar and found it a little high. I was able to do all of this while standing in line for a ride or sitting on a bench watching my son play. No having to sneak off to the bathroom or some other private place to do an injection. I actually enjoyed the day with my family instead of worrying about my diabetes; I didn't really "think about" diabetes at all that day. For me, that is the big advantage of using OmniPod.

I guess I've written way too much, but hopefully this will help you understand why I love the OmniPod. If you have any more specific questions, don't hesitate to ask. In fact, I'd even be willing to talk on the phone if you'd like.

I am very enthusiastic, but I realize this is a big personal decision to make, and of course the OmniPod (or any insulin pump) is not the right thing for everyone; there are always some people who will be better off with injections. But I'd definitely encourage you to give it a try if you've been curious or considering it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Updated Eclipse Community Forums plug-in

I've released a slightly updated version of the little Eclipse Community Forums plug-in I made last week. I added more of the standard web navigation buttons (back/forward/reload/stop/home) and eliminated the Login button/action (it was a real hack , didn't work 100% reliably, and I'm not sure anyone would really care about that feature anyway).
If you've already got 0.1 installed you should be able to update it from the About dialog, Installation Details, then select the Eclipse Community feature and click the Update button. If not, you can install it from scratch from the update site
Still looking for feedback - even if it is "This isn't very useful, you should drop it."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Access the new Eclipse Community Forums from inside Eclipse itself

Thanks to Denis Roy, Eclipse now has a modern web user interface for its user/developer newsgroups. While I, personally, still prefer to use Thunderbird to access the newsgroups the "old fashioned" way, I'm sure many users will appreciate this big improvement over the old web interface.
The new forums site is still in a "beta" stage (please report any problems or suggestions to bug 284281), but I thought it would be nice to have easy access to it from right within Eclipse itself. So I've developed this little plug-in that adds an "Eclipse Community Forums" view to all perspectives. The View is basically an SWT Browser widget that is hard-coded to the forums site, along with some basic toolbar buttons for navigation.

A few notes on this "first draft" implementation:
  • I've only tested it on OS X (Cocoa) so far; please let me know how (or if) it works on Windows XP, Vista, and Linux.
  • The View is supposed to be automatically added as a Fast View to all perspectives (and it does correctly when I test it in a self-hosting environment), but when I installed it into an existing Eclipse instance I had to manually open the View via Window > Show View > Other...
    If anyone has some ideas why it isn't automatically added after installation, please let me know.

  • The Login toolbar action currently only takes you to the Login page, but my plan is to have it (optionally) automatically submit your login credentials if you choose to store them. I need to get with Denis to help debug why my attempts at submitting a login via URL isn't working.
  • The Shortcuts list is an extension point that any plug-in can contribute to. For now I've included just some of the more popular newsgroups forums; if I get this accepted as an official plug-in, the vision is that different Eclipse projects would contribute to the extension point to have their forum included.
  • Notice the "Open in External Browser" button in the View toolbar (not the toolbar that is inside the view above the browser). I waffled back and forth on whether to put the Login and Shortcuts actions up there, too. If you have a UI design opinion about that, please let me know.
  • My goal is to get feedback and improve this over the next week or two and eventually submit it for inclusion as a first-class citizen of the SDK and package builds. So please let me know what you think and help me make it better.
You can install the plug-in from this update site: