CFS/ME diagnostic test

Researchers at Stanford University, California, have described a blood test for CFS/ME. Mononuclear cells respond differently to hyperosmotic stress in patients with the condition from how they do in normal controls. This, it is hoped, may provide a diagnostic test for the condition, which at present is diagnosed purely on symptoms.

This is encouraging, but Minerva in the BMJ thinks they used the wrong comparison group. “What’s important is not whether the test can tell healthy and ill people apart but if it can distinguish between chronic fatigue syndrome and other conditions in which symptoms of fatigue and tiredness are prominent.” This seems to be a valid comment.

Spectrwm – minor annoyance solved

My favourite window manager is Spectrwm but with its default setting I get a minor annoyance in relation to window focusing.

Suppose you have Window A in Main and Window B in Stack and the focus is on Window A. You now swap these two windows with Mod+Return, so that Window A is in the Stack and Window B is in Main. With the default setting the focus is still on Window A but I usually want it to be on Window B, in Main.

Of course, I can easily achieve this with Mod+m, but I find it irritating to have to do this each time I switch windows, which I do very frequently. In dwm the problem doesn’t arise and I was seriously thinking of changing to dwm for this reason. But Spectrwm has so many features I like that this wasn’t really an option.

The solution, as so often, was RTFM.  The man page says that setting “focus mode” to “follow” does this:

Set window focus on all cursor border crossings,
including workspace switches and changes to layout.

This gives me the behaviour I want. The cursor is normally in the window I’m working in (Window A initially in this case). When I swap the windows the cursor is still Main, which now contains Window B, and the focus follows it. Simple, really.

However, this creates a problem. Mod+Space cycles between three different layouts one of which is  layout_max, but when I access this the display flickers. As I don’t need layout_max (I can use Mod+e for this) I unbind Mod+Space to prevent that layout being accessed accidentally;  I bind Mod+v for vertical layout and Mod+z for horizontal layout. Here are the relevant entries in the configuration file.

bind[] = Mod+space  # unbind mod + Space
bind[layout_vertical] = Mod+v
bind[layout_horizontal] = Mod+z

Note: For this to work, the pointer must be in the window you want the focus to be in (on the left of the sceeen, i.e. in Main). Just occasionally I still get a flicker, e.g. if starting Firefox from dmenu); to stop this, use Mod+q.


Book review: The Diet Myth, by Tim Spector

Spector is professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, London, where he specialises in twin studies, genetics and epigenetics, and diet. Readers of his earlier book Identically Different will know that he is also interested in the human microbiome—the innumerable microbes that live on and especially inside us, and this is a central preoccupation in the present book. Spector believes that it is the key to understanding why diets to control our weight nearly always fail in the long run. Continue reading