TechnologyHey Reddit, I’m Chris Richardson, author of “POJOs in Action” and microservices guru, here for an AMA brought to you by Oracle for the Developer Legend Series. Ask me anything!
Mar 21st 2017 by ceracm • 39 Questions • 1460 Points
Hello Reddit! We are pharmacist, nurse and physician toxicologists and poison specialists at the National Capital Poison Center in Washington DC. It’s hard to imagine what people swallow, splash, or inhale by mistake, but collectively we’ve responded to more than million phone calls over the years about….you name it!
National Poison Prevention Week (March 19-25) is approaching. Take a few minutes to learn how to prevent and respond to a poison emergency. Be safe. AMA!
There are two ways to get free, confidential, expert help if a poisoning occurs:
1) Call 1-800-222-1222, or
You don’t have to memorize that contact info. Text “poison” to 484848 (don’t type the quotes) to save the contact info directly to your smart phone. Or download our vcard.
The National Capital Poison Center is a not-for-profit organization and accredited poison center. Free, expert guidance for poison emergencies – whether by telephone or online – is provided 24/7. Our services focus on the DC metro area, with a national scope for our National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333), the webPOISONCONTROL online tool, and The Poison Post®. We are not a government agency. We depend on donations from the public.
Now for a bit of negative advertising: We hope you never need our service! So please keep your home poison safe.
Hey Redditors, thank you for all your amazing questions. We won't be taking any new questions, but will try to get to as many of the questions already asked that we can.
What trends do you see in products that switch from a monolithic architecture to a microservice architecture? If I'm starting something new with a small team, I'll lean towards a monolithic architecture so I can move faster, but what part should I break out early or from the outset to help me 2 or 3 years down the road?
Thanks for the great response. Why don't we (the government or people who can) close the fiscal gap then?
What is the wildest / Funniest call you guys have gotten?
There is a good argument that you should just focus on the solving today's problems and building a good product, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_aren't_gonna_need_it . It is possible that the extra effort you would spend on being 'microservices ready' would slow you down too much and incur too much risk.
Having said that you could try to ensure that your system remains modular. For example, implement your business logic using loosely coupled DDD aggregates and use eventual consistency rather that ACID transactions.
I just realized I didn't give a good enough answer on this. Sorry about that. The reason we don't is that we can't agree, and there's still a long way to go to get there. Republicans don't want to do tax increases. Democrats don't want to do significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid (the parts that are actually growing). So, that leaves us at a longer-term impasse.
But, all the stuff I said about the progress is still true.
A family called us after attending a funeral where the corpse spontaneously exploded. They were worried that they might explode too. Jess Benson, Pharm.D., DABAT
Hi Chris, thanks for doing an AMA, I have to admit that I don't have extensive knowledge of microservers, but do you believe that they are the future of enterprise software solutions?
What's a step that Americans on both sides of the aisle would agree to that would help balance the budget?
It depends. There are tradeoffs - http://microservices.io/patterns/monolithic.html and http://microservices.io/patterns/microservices.html
For some applications - especially the simpler ones developed by a small team - the monolithic application is fine. But for large complex applications developed by large teams it is likely that a microservice architecture can be helpful.
Great question. The answer is that most of the low-hanging fruit is used in deals. There just aren't trillions of dollars for things that each side says is fine. In order to get to a place, one side needs to have the ability to exert its will, or each side needs to be willing to do stuff it doesn't like. One of the biggest issues with growing polarization is that agreeing to the stuff you don't like is a much bigger deal. Bush 41 increased taxes. When's that happening again? For the Joint Select Committee of Deficit Reduction, Paul Ryan was one of the Republicans appointed. Not a chance in the world that he was going to accept big tax increases. Chris Van Hollen was there on the other side. Not a chance he was going to go for major Medicaid cuts.
How do programmers come up with names for different programming languages (i.e. java, sql, c++)?
So all those memes are way off?
The reasons are varied. Some like SQL are acronyms - structured query language. C++ because it is the successor to C. C because its the second language derived from BCPL - the first was B.
Which memes? Are you talking about the ones showing defense at over 50% of spending?
If I ever need to call you, how would you prefer that I order the information about the poisoned victim?
Coolness or Hype is irrelevant when making technology choices. What matters is whether a technology solves your problem. Java is still an incredibly popular language and systems are still be written using it. Having said that NodeJS, for example, is useful.
What is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid and is among one of the world's more deadly poisons?
Software development is a profession like any other. I am not convinced that everyone needs to know how to code.
I don't like it's priorities. We currently spend about 16% of our money on our military, and I don't think we need to spend more than that. If we want to spend more money on military, I don't think it should be at the expense of programs that keep people out of poverty.
That said, this was a very incomplete document. We'll get a lot more information in the bigger budget in May, and so we'll get a better sense of his priorities, which may look different by then.
Iocane powder, of course. We have all spent the past few years building up an immunity to it. As you wish ;) P Soto, PharmD
Well into my 20s, I've noticed a lot of my friends expressing the sentiment that they want to learn code. Would you encourage someone to learn coding as a hobby and if so why?
Thanks for the reply!
What are some commonly overlooked areas in childproofing? Are there any items that parents don't realize are poisonous?
Sure why not. But I'd also encourage people to cook, play tennis or go fly fishing. As a hobby, you should do what is fun and stimulating.
how do you guys plan on handling such tight knit teamwork in an industry where independence is still highly regarded?
I did. Just yesterday I was wondering what sorts of things budget analysts think when reading such an unusual budget. Turns out, in this case anyway, at least one of them thinks more or less what I thought (with far less swearing!).
So there is a ton of safety information out there for new parents, can you give me some simple tips for not poisoning my kid?
I think the reality of software development is that it is a social activity. In many cases the idea of a lone coder performing heroic feats is an illusion. It takes a team.
Wow, that was much to read and I still contend that the author does not understand what happens in the shadow economy as he calls it. How does he count the legal immigrant that collects the check and distributes cash to the five undocumented immigrants that work under him. How does he count the crews I compete against for construction work that are completely off the books. Do you think the guys in the hood answered his survey honestly?
I have really enjoyed your explanations of fiscal policy. Thanks!
if Poison ever reunites how will you respond?
I'm glad you read it! That's a great point, and I couldn't tell you. All I know is that the government uses advanced statistical methodology to try to estimate and account for non-response bias, but we obviously can't tell. There's frequently no natural experiment to see how well the methods did.
I couldn't really expound beyond this because this isn't my area - I just know that the author, Jason Furman, is incredibly highly respected (and Matt Damon's freshman year roommate in undergrad) and is a person who does all he can to make sure he's not biasing data through omission.
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
"Life Goes On", We'll Have "Nothin' But a Good Time"! By the way, if you inhale too much hairspray, call Poison Control. P Soto, PharmD
How would you incentivize the private sector to invest more in job training, like Trump seems to want. And do you think Trump will do what needs to be done to make this happen?
I'm an epidemiologist at a local health department so I have a public health-y question.
In light of the opioid epidemic that we see across the country, is poison control on the national level doing any sort of surveillance to monitor this? What kind of a role does poison control play not only in reporting these instances but also in using the data to study trends and outcomes? If so, what agencies does poison control collaborate with or hope to collaborate with?
Businesses try to maximize the net present value of their profit, discounted to infinity (or at least the life of the current heads of the company). That is, they try to get as much profit over the period they care about. Currently, they do job training if they think it's helpful/if they need to (because there's a supply shortage, as during the dot com boom, rather than a demand shortage). A government policy that focused on that would be in changing the profit margins and thus the incentives for them. But we already let companies write off training and salaries as a business expense, so that's not it. We could pay them to do it! But then why not directly do it? The government actually has plenty of jobs training programs. Unfortunately, Trump's budget proposed to cut some of them. So, I'd be surprised, but you never know. We'll get more detail about all of his priorities in the bigger budget in May, which will go line by line through every account in the federal budget.
Hi. What a great question! Poison control centers collect data and submit these data in real-time to the National Poison Data System (NPDS). These data are used to look at poisoning trends over time and to see spikes in poisonings in near-real time ... opioids included. Right now the American Association of Poison Control Centers (the parent organization for poison centers in the US) collaborates with the FDA and CDC primarily. In addition poison centers collaborate with their health departments, emergency rooms, health systems and sometimes with the Office of Medical Examiner to provide additional data and to enhance mutual surveillance efforts. Realize that dead people don't call poison control and many emergency room physicians will not call a poison center about routine opioid overdose so these collaborations are really quite important if we are going to get a robust view of the opioid epidemic. In addition to surveillance many poison center are involved with drug take back effort and naloxone distribution efforts within their states. Suffice it to say, opioids have been a very important part of poison center activity over the past 10 years.
Jess Benson, Pharm.D.
Happy to clear that up - sorry I skipped too many words before!
Times have changed! Poison Help commercial has replaced that one!
Dead serious....where does the money go. They keep saying the US is the richest country in the world but everything seems to be old and falling apart. I am an average person and the government takes a good chunk of money out of my paychecks but I can't see the effect it has or where it seems to magicially vanish too.
Also how corrupt is the government in your opinion?
What was the hardest part of putting the app together and how do you keep track of the "logic" for all the different possible scenarios?
By corrupt, do you mean, like as a kleptocracy? Or just wasteful?
On where our tax dollars go, I'd start with this: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go
Half of our spending goes to Social Security and health care. Another 24 percent goes to military and vets. That's 75% right there, so if you like those things, I think it's harder to think of it as largely a waste? Another 6% is interest, which we have to pay, and another 10% is other social safety net, which leaves approximately 11% on all else.
The US has a lot of money that the federal government doesn't touch. Among economically advanced countries, we are a low-tax, low-spending country (by a lot).
I'd also say that a lot of times we don't see the effects of government. Do we see it when the Consumer Product Safety Commission makes a dangerous product illegal, and then we don't die? Or do we just notice it when the government isn't doing it's job and things go wrong? Do we see it when the USDA successfully keeps us from getting poisoned? So, I think the idea of government use is harder when talking about the remaining bit of the budget.
If you ask the toxicologists (as opposed to the software developers), we'd say the hardest part is developing the algorithms, product database and logic. Each of the 1325+ ingredient algorithms is matched to the corresponding ingredients in 49,000 products - so we have to be able to handle products with multiple ingredients, too. Each algorithm has age- or weight-based thresholds for the ingredient, a list of expected minor symptoms which may develop, a list of symptoms that require further medical evaluation, specific home treatment where appropriate, the expected onset and duration of symptoms and a risk window beyond which significant toxicity is unlikely if symptoms have not already developed. Since algorithms are also used in traditional poison centers, they also outline the justification for the threshold and provide references.
On the other hand, the developers might tell you that the greatest challenge was the overall scope and complexity of the code and the many little nuances required to accommodate variations. Specific logic is incorporated in the software to handle each formulation type, multi-ingredient products, unknown amounts, unknown weight, and the minimum possible weight for age.
It may be difficult to imagine the complexity of the engine driving this app. There are more than 50 administrative interfaces that enable tracking, linking and manipulation of products, images, barcodes (yes, you can scan the barcode of the product your kid swallowed to enter the product name), algorithms, and case data. It also includes tools for quality assurance and data analysis.
Toby Litovitz, MD
Oh, don't worry! At this point, my viewpoint is "explore everything and probably change my major 30000 times" so don't worry. Again, thank you so much for the detailed responses. This AMA is the most nerdy fun I've had in awhile.
What are some common poisons that often get overlooked as safe?
Haha, fair enough! And of course - I'm glad you found them useful! :)
In children we worry about imidazoline-containing nasal sprays (contain oxymetazoline or tetrahydrozoline). Most people will not think of them as poisonous because they are over-the-counter and generally viewed as safe. Unfortunately, small amounts can produce loss of consciousness, slowed heart rate and loss of breathing. Button batteries are another example. See our reply at https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5zrfrq/we_are_the_national_capital_poison_center_ready/df0etyz/ We also worry about laundry pods. Jess Benson, Pharm.D., DABAT