Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


May 2007

Joy Division Oven Gloves

A new feature – inappropriate titles for blog posts!

I was going to call this post ‘stuff’ but felt that was pretty dismal/boring.

Anyway, onto the post. Three things to report:

1) Today’s Google blog linked to something called a binary clock. I was intrigued and visited the Think Geek online store and discovered what it was (click here). I want one!

2) I came across this wonderful looking “HEALTH 2.0: USER-GENERATED HEALTHCARE“. I’d love to go but not sure I can justify the time and costs for a single day…

3) The next upgrade for TRIP is taking shape. Yes, we’re still waiting to release the latest upgrade (hopefully next week – I’ve heard that before) but we like to think ahead. The main features will be linked in with the gwagle experiment (see previous post). The main planned features will be user-added content, enhanced My-TRIP, content tagging (with associated tag clouds). We may even add a scoring mechanism whereby users can give a score (based on something nebulous such as ‘clinical usefulness’. It may not sound much but it will represent a significant move in TRIP’s development.

As for the title of the blog post, see this YouTube clip. I was at that concert and the clip doesn’t do the song justice!

Lessons from Gwagle

Gwagle has been interesting! A few people have used it a lot but mostly people haven’t. As such we’ve had little feedback. Being an alpha test I’m not overly upset by this as that is what the alpha was about – testing perceptions etc. My own conclusion being that, as it stands, there is little obvious gain for busy clinicians to actually use the site. It’s also, probably, a fairly abstract concept for many of those exposed to it. So where to from here?

As it stands, I don’t feel Gwagle (the website) will be the priority. However, Gwagle (as a web-service) will provide the backbone to added functionality to TRIP. To begin with, when the latest deployment to TRIP is released, there will be a ‘comments’ function. This function will be using the Gwagle ‘engine’ to work. Also, comments on TRIP will help populate Gwagle.

The next step is to allow users to add content to TRIP. I see lots of really useful information that doesn’t fit into the ‘usual’ TRIP editorial/upload mechanisms. At the moment I add it to Gwagle (as do other people). As you can see from the ‘latest’ link in Gwagle (click here) there is lots of ‘good stuff’. Yesterday, I added an awful lots of podcasts – there is currently no mechanism to add podcasts to TRIP.

So, this facility will appear as TRIP functionality (as it will be) but it’ll have the Gwagle engine to get it to work. There is also no reason why other groups/organisations can’t use the Gwagle engine to power their own ‘products’.

Moving back to TRIP, the ability to add content will happen, hopefully before the end of the year, and will also incorporate other features to help assess ‘quality’ of the added content (think digg but not focussed on news!).

The new version of TRIP

I think I’ve been saying this for an age now – but the new version is very close to deployment! I’ve got the final development version to test and then a slight design change to be added. If this doesn’t happen by the end of next week I’ll be pretty frustrated!

With any complex web deployments there are unforeseen problems. This time the biggest one was my enthusiasm to alter the specification midway through. Initially, there was no intention of allowing users to add comments to TRIP. However, our experience of the alpha test of Gwagle indicated a need to make that concept less abstract (I’ll say more on that in my next post). As such a comments function was added. So that just throws things a bit and add delays…..

I’m confident that it’ll be worth waiting for!

TRIP is back!

After what seems like an age (certainly over 24 hours) TRIP is back! The official reason from the web-people is:

“The problem was caused by the number of maximum connections to the database being exceeded. We don’t know why as yet, but are investigating as a matter of urgency.”

Not 100% sure what that means, possibly linked to our increased popularity! Talking of which we’re currently upgrading our servers to double the capacity



It appears TRIP has been mis-behaving over the weekend and the error has spilt over into today! We’ve got our techies looking into it and we hope to have normal service resumed surely.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused!

NRR and Google Earth Mash-up

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Hazim at Update Software highlighting their rather lovely new feature on the National Research Register. The NRR is:

“…a database of ongoing and recently completed research projects funded by, or of interest to, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).”

In a nutshell it allows you to search for completed or ongoing research in a particular topic. The results can then be added to a map of the UK (up to a maximum of 100 results). Below is a picture of the 76 ongoing, single-centre research projects, looking at ovarian cancer.

TRIP around the world

TRIP has recently produced a map which highlights active contacts from around the world (click here). However, that only tells part of the geographic ‘reach’ of TRIP as these are people who’ve actively contacted us. We’ve recently added the Google Analytics code to the TRIP site and these show vists by city. Below you will see a world map with lots of circles. These represent where searches have come from. The results below are for Sunday and Monday this week.

TRIP Evidence Reviews

The TRIP Evidence Reviews have been available via TRIP for a week or so and are already proving popular (they’ve been viewes a total of 264 times). There are currently 47 reviews and we’ll probably stop developing them in the near future, catch our breath, and see what happens.

Alongside the reviews we’re developing a CPD component, which is looking interesting!


Yahoo Pipes have been around for a while now. Unfortuantely, I’ve not had the time or inclination to dig around and see what they can do. I’ve now started using them and think they are potentially very powerful. I’m sure, at present, I’m using them crudely. In fact, I’ve so far, simply merged two separate RSS feeds – but it’s a start.

Take this old (2004) ATTRACT answer on exercise and depression. If you view that you’ll see that it has a warning “NOTE: The following question is over two years old. We do not routinely update our answers. Therefore, significant new research may now be available.”

I’ve always wondered about auto-updating of answered. Therefore, I created two separate searches in PubMed (with exercise and depression both as [majr] mesh headings), one for RCTs and one for systematic reviews (via clinical queries) and restricted the date to those articles published after the ATTRACT answer. I then exported the results as an RSS feed and joined them together in Yahoo Pipes. You can see the results here.

If this output was then tagged to the bottom of all appropriate Q&A answers they would, in effect, auto-update.

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