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Don Kirkby
Works at BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Attended University of British Columbia
Lives in Vancouver, Canada
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Don Kirkby

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The International AIDS Society Conference just ended today in Vancouver. I was excited to go, because we had a poster describing one of the software projects I've been part of since I joined the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS last year. However, the big news at the conference was a study that showed benefits from starting treatment immediately after a patient is diagnosed with HIV. Currently, most countries wait until the infection has progressed to a certain point before beginning treatment. With the new study showing benefits to the patient, and a previous study showing that treatment reduces the risk of infecting others, there could be big changes in the way we treat HIV. Manufacturing and delivering a lot more drugs will be a big challenge, as will paying for them.
 
Landmark Study to Transform Global AIDS Strategy - About.com

While the term "breakthough" is used far too often when covering AIDS research, it is one that inarguably applies to a piece of research presented at the 2015 International AIDS Society conference on Monday.

Like the PACTG 076 study in 1994 (which showed that the use of a single HIV drug could prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV), the discovery of protease inhibitors in 1996, and the iPrEx study in 2010 (which demonstrated the efficacy of HIV pre-exposure prohylaxis), the new START study will most certainly transform the global AIDS strategy moving forward by endorsing treatment for all persons with HIV at the time of diagnosis.
A landmark study showed that the treatment of HIV on diagnosis decreased the risk of illness by 57%, findings of which will transform global strategy.
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Ron Hale-Evans's profile photoDon Kirkby's profile photo
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In the very long term, perhaps, but remember that this is a treatment, not a cure. Patients will be taking the drugs for the rest of their lives. There was also lots of talk about cures and vaccines, but progress is slower there.
An earlier benefit would be reduced transmissions so fewer people get infected and require care. People also contribute more to the economy when they aren't sick.
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Nicky Case makes a nice argument that being right isn't enough to persuade people. Adding emotion and storytelling is measurably more effective than logic alone. His description of educational soap operas is fascinating.
We're doing it wrong. Doing what wrong? The way we, activists and storytellers, seem to go about trying to change peoples' minds: by more or less just telling them “you're doing it wrong”. And to be fair, I used to...
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My daughter didn't understand how I could have a T-shirt that Leonard Nimoy signed, so I decided to follow +Scott McCloud's advice and use juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence (a comic) to explain it to her. Spoiler alert: it worked.
Thanks again to all my friends at Zaber for such a thoughtful gift when I left. Even though it's been two years, I still miss you.
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Yes, I thought you turned out better than I did.
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May the fourth be with you, everyone! This was a nice surprise on our way to Chinese school on Saturday. I'm not sure if it's public art or a prank, but it made us laugh. I was also surprised when my daughter said, "Too bad Yoda's lightsaber is the wrong colour." I don't think I could have told you what colour his lightsaber was (green, by the way). Getting trivia schooled by your daughter is a proud parenting moment.
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What happens if you change a fundamental assumption in what seems to be a simple task? You break your brain. +SmarterEveryDay​ has posted another great video, and it doesn't even have any slow motion. A friend welded a custom bike with its handlebars reversed, and Dustin tried to ride it. Before you decide that reversed handlebars are just inherently more difficult, watch the end of the video.
I've experienced some similar brain changes while learning Chinese, but nothing as visible or dramatic.
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I had always thought that North America wasn't bombed during the world wars, but apparently that's not quite right. Japan sent bombs on balloons through the jet stream, and some of them made it across the Pacific. The ones that made it all landed in remote areas, so the Americans were able to keep the whole thing quiet. At least five people died, however, when some children triggered one of the unexploded bombs.
I was particularly surprised to learn that one of the balloons was found recently in the woods about a five hour drive from my home.
The main link is to an episode of RadioLab that tells the story of the Japanese fire balloons, and you can read about the recent find near Lumby, BC here:
npr.org/blogs/npr-history-dept/2015/01/20/375820191
During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. A ;tale of mysterious balloons, children caught up in the winds of war. And the terror of silence.
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It's been almost two years since I put out a release of Live Coding in Python, but I put a new one out today. If you haven't seen it, it lets you run Python code while you're typing it, and shows you instant feedback on the state of variables during execution. It can also show you the result of running turtle graphics commands while you type them. Read the linked post or watch the video for a demonstration of its features.

The new version focused on making sure that your Python code only runs when you ask for it - no accidentally running some code that wipes out important files! See the release page for more details:
https://github.com/donkirkby/live-py-plugin/releases
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The Smithsonian Institution is giving an online course on the history of Superheroes in culture. Stan Lee will be involved. I'll check it out, but I'm terrible at predicting which courses will be interesting.
I'm in the middle of a good course right now: Nand to Tetris. You start with Nand gates and flip flop gates, and build a computer from there. Each week you build a set of components in a simulator, and then use those components to build more complex things in the next week. You go all the way up to writing a game of Tetris on the computer you've built. It's a similar experience to following Euclid's geometry from a small set of axioms.
https://www.coursera.org/course/nand2tetris1
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It took me almost a year, but I've just published a new release of Vograbulary. It's a set of word challenges for your web browser or Android device. There's a new challenge called Bacronyms, but that's not why it took me a year.
When I tried to add the ability to drag the Russian doll words through each other, I found that the libgdx platform I was using just wouldn't support it. I fought with it for a while, tried another platform called PlayN, and finally decided to have separate projects for Android and the web. I do share the same rules and logic code for both projects, and I published a small demo project to show how that works:

https://github.com/donkirkby/webandnative

It's based on what I read about Google's Inbox project, and I summarize some of the other options for writing projects that are portable across mobile and web platforms.

Hopefully, the next release will be in two months, instead of a year. Try it out, and tell me what you think.
Vograbulary : Add new words to a student's vocabulary and make the words stick (grab them).
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+Dan Ariely  and Michael Norton have a couple of interesting suggestions for how to make wealth redistribution more palatable. I hadn't heard of this one before:
"In the domain of inequality, think of leaving tax rates unchanged right now but pegging changes in those rates to changes in inequality. In fact, Yale’s Robert Shiller has proposed that if inequality increases, the rich bear a larger tax burden; as inequality decreases, that burden lessens."
They make the point that most people agree that the ideal wealth distribution would far more even than it currently is, but nobody wants to reduce their own income now.
Rich and poor, left and right, we all agree the world should be more equal. Dan Ariely and Michael Norton have spent the past decade analyzing the data. Now, they tackle what to do next.
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Here's a nicely annotated list of top abstract strategy games, selecting one per year (with a few gaps before 1980). The honourable mentions are also worth reading, I think I‘ll make myself a copy of Robotory.
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Don Kirkby's profile photoRon Hale-Evans's profile photo
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Consider also Santorini. Clark Rodeffer introduced me to it at Penguicon. I only played it a couple of times, and that in 2007, but I thought it was a great game. I think you could easily play it with two piecepacks, any flavor (for the tiles -- otherwise, you would only need one).
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In his circles
250 people
Have him in circles
435 people
michael logan's profile photo
Марта Балога's profile photo
Ryszard Talaga's profile photo
王昊's profile photo
Russell Ring's profile photo
Анастасия Аршавина's profile photo
Shawn de Raaf's profile photo
Zinab Hassan's profile photo
Julien Thewys's profile photo
Education
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics, 1987 - 1989
  • Computer Science, 1990 - 1992
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  • Way Of The Dragon
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coder, board gamer, skeptic, 学中文
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Computer Programmer
Employment
  • BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
    Computer Programmer, 2014 - present
  • Amazon.com
    Computer Programmer, 2013 - 2014
  • Zaber Technologies
    Computer Programmer, 2008 - 2013
  • Sierra Systems Group, Inc.
    Computer Programmer, 1996 - 2008
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Vancouver, Canada
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