LOS ANGELES—April has been an incredibly busy month, between deadlines, traveling, competition shooting, and visits to doctors and dermatologists, I've been on the run constantly.
What does this have to do with computers? Everything!
You realize that your car has an on-board computer, and you may know that the gas pumps are all computerized right down to the last drop so that all the taxes go to the right place. Non-automobile travel is computerized, too. Electronic tickets are issued when you've found your best prices on www.cheaptickets.com or www.hotwire.com and you can check the Accuweather forecast so you know what to pack. Of course, you'll take along your laptop so you can stay in touch with those back home, and your digital camera so you can send photos instantly, you may even upload the images to an on-line site where your family and friends can order copies.
You may not, however, realize how much a computer is used at your doctor's office. Appointments are logged in. Patient records are computerized. Drug interactions are flagged when a prescription is filled at your pharmacy, and follow-up reminders are sent automatically.
Recently, I've been having treatments at a dermatologist. Dr. Daniel Taheri is the official Dermatologist of the Academy Awards, and all his offices are equipped with the latest and most state-of-the-art computerized treatment machines imaginable. The V-beam laser is being used to treat a keloid scar that has bothered me for quite a while.
I'm particularly fascinated by the Aurora Intense Pulse Light (IPL). It is used for treating Rosacea and other skin problems, as well as improving the appearance of skin by erasing lines and refining large pores. Actually, there are two machines, both calibrated by on-board computers, that work in tandem. Since the IPL can be uncomfortable (think of someone snapping a thin rubber band on your face) the addition of the Cryo-5 makes the treatment virtually painless by blowing chilled air over your skin and numbing it for the time the IPL is working. A series of sensors allows Juliana, a trained licensed nurse who performs the IPL treatments, to adjust the settings for every skin type.
Since sun damage is a major factor in skin cancers, Brett, Dr.Taheri's Certified Physician's Assistant (as I drop names all over the place), has zapped a few small sun damage spots with the Diolite Yag Laser, which has a computer-calibrated laser pulse. Computer guided lasers were originally developed by Bell Labs to assist in cutting and engraving stainless steel, but were soon in wider use by the military, manufacturing and the medical fields. It's strange to think that the same type of machine used to slice through steel can be tamed by a computer to be used in reshaping corneas and smoothing skin.
As for the deadlines, like the one for this article, sending text and photos via the Internet has made the journalist's life a breeze. As one who dates from the days of typewriters and rewrite desks, I wonder how we ever existed before the electronic age!
Next month, games for the family, and an illuminated keyboard (unless I become intrigued by some other new computerized marvel).
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