Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Dad shoots daughter’s laptop after reading her Facebook rant

February 10, 2012 Comments off

Tommy is a little pissed. Tommy is armed. Laptop is toast. Video on YouTube.

I gotta admit that the tactic of taking away a favorite toy can work.  Unless, of course, they have too many toys.  Which mine do.

Thus far our strategy is the expensive electronic stuff is owned by mom and dad and lent on occasion to our kids.  If they want a iPod Touch or DS or laptop they can go buy one themselves subject to parental approval.

Even then I’m thinking no electronic devices allowed in the bedrooms.

I’m also not looking forward to needing to lock down the internet and computers or playing cat and mouse like Tommy on Social Media sites.

with a father that works in IT that you’d have better sense than doing it again

There’s been quite a few times where my kids are surprised that I know when they are being bad or lying about something.  And I answer that I’m older, sneakier, been there, done all that and do they really think I’m stupid?

So far I’m able to decisively outsmart a seven year old.  I’m hoping that the rope around a baby elephant’s leg trick works on kids…’cause I’m not so sure I can keep that up when they are 14.

via DF


Categories: ATF, Parenting

Ameda Purely Yours Vs Medela Pump In Style – Tear Down and Comparison

February 10, 2012 Comments off

What?  Breast pumps AGAIN?

Well if you’re a tech geek and you need to buy a $200-$300 electronic device to attach to your wife’s anatomy you’re probably googling for the pros and cons of various pumps and wishing for a tear down or two.

I wrote a very long blog post about reusing 2nd hand breast pumps and there was a nice tear down of the Medela Pump In Style in a similar article by a poster named Robb.  I finally took apart the Ameda to see what was inside.

We bought our Purely Yours for our first child back in 2004 which is a long while ago.  But based on the minimal internal changes between Robb’s older Pump In Style and our newer one as well as the fact that pictures of the Purely Yours on Amazon looks exactly like ours I’m guessing that breast pumps are not a rapidly evolving technology segment in comparison to say…smartphones.

If this were a product marketed toward men you’d probably see a new model every year with high end models CNC’d out of aircraft grade aluminum or made from carbon fiber complete with a touchscreen providing critical statistics like total volume pumped and fastest pump time. Fortunately, not so much and as near as I can tell these things don’t change all that often.

The Ameda Purely Yours is much lighter than the Medela and is not built into a bag.  That’s a nice thing since you can buy just the pump and save yourself some money if you don’t want their smallish bag, bottles and ice pack.  It’s also a lot more compact that way and fits better on a end table or desk than the Medela in its huge bag or backpack.

The primary reason it’s lighter is because it’s made out of plastic and not metal like the Medela.  And that’s a serious downside as ours broke halfway through pumping for our second child.  It stopped sucking well and you could hear some broken plastic part rattling around inside.

Folks buy the Ameda because it’s a closed pump system that can be safely reused…all the parts that touch the breast milk can be sterilized or replaced.  Pumps are expensive and if you can sell or gift it to someone that’s really nice.  That’s mostly why we picked the Ameda over the Medela the first time around (we got our gently used Medela as a gift from a friend and that saved us quite a bit).

But if the pump isn’t made to last then the closed nature of the pump system isn’t that much of an advantage, either for yourself or for a friend/relative.


So lets take a look what’s inside the Ameda.  Once you pry off the plastic cover, and in my case breaking off several plastic tabs in the process, you see what is essentially a glorified syringe driven back and forth by a little electric motor.  For a $150-$250.  Niiiice.

Inside the Ameda Purely Yours

It’s actually a nice little design if attachment points had been built more robustly.  Ours failed where the clear cylinder attached to the main pump body with the shaft and gearing.  Once you break that seal it can’t pump effectively.

Failure Point

There’s just these four little (brittle) plastic tabs that hold the thing together.  Two of the four failed and one of these had fallen off completely which was what we heard rattling around inside the case.  The piston still moves back and forth but with the cylinder detached it’s pushed outward on the outstroke and there’s no air seal and doesn’t generate suction on the instroke.

It’s all driven by this little motor driving a little rubber belt.

In comparison the Medela has a metal case and the motor and piston components are far more ruggedly built:

Medela Motor and Case (Taken By Robb)

Medela Piston (Taken by Robb)

As you can see the casing, motor and gearing are all much more substantial than the one in the Purely Yours and made of metal.  Even the plastic parts are far more substantial and tougher with the weakest link being the membrane itself.  Mechanically nothing else is likely to break.


The Ameda Purely Yours Carry All ($185) is nearly $100 cheaper than the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack ($279) on Amazon at time of posting but the Ameda in the backpack form ($233) isn’t much less.  If you’re shopping for a breast pump and expect to only have one child I’d recommend getting the cheapest Ameda sans tote for $160.  The pump might last through a second child but didn’t for us.

If the Ameda had been built with a metal clip/fastener holding the two important plastic pieces together rather than these fragile little clips that eventually failed from the constant physical stress we’d still be happily using the Purely Yours and these two blog posts wouldn’t exist.

Feeling a little cynical it strikes me that the Ameda’s strategy is to sell a “reusable” closed pump but build it in such a way that it will likely break after one or two users/children.  Medela went the other route in designing their pump to make sterilizing it for reuse by another Mom a huge annoyance but made it robust enough for the Brady family (you know, the show with six kids from the 70s…oh never mind…).

If you expect to use it for more than one child or want to pass it along to a relative then I’d go with the Medela.  Then let them buy the Ameda Purely Yours Replacement Parts Kit that also doubles as a one hand manual pump for $45.  This provides a fully closed system that’s completely air separated from the Medela pump and likely as safe to reuse as the Purely Yours.  The tubing fits our Medela pump and it works as well with our old Ameda kit as the Purely Yours pump did when new.

If you do get the Medela, remember to clean the membrane every so often unless you’re using an Ameda kit with it.  As an open system milk can get on the membrane and you end up with the mold growth some users have reported.  That’s pretty nasty and given the membrane is located behind the front panel it’s easy to forget.

Next Project: rebuilding the Ameda Purely Yours with carbon fiber replacement parts, an upgraded motor with Neodymium magnets, micro-chain drive belt assembly and LED light kit…

Categories: Parenting

Claimchowder: Apple iPad vs Kindle DX: Which is Better for Education? | PCWorld

February 7, 2012 Comments off

Apple iPad vs Kindle DX: Which is Better for Education? | PCWorld.

I was looking at Kindle vs iPad/iBooks 2 for textbooks and ran across this gem from two (was it only 2!) years ago:

Yes, I realize it’s far too early to write the iPad’s eulogy in the consumer market, and I have no intention of doing so. The device hasn’t even shipped yet and, besides, numerous bloggers have already pointed out the iPad’s shortcomings. Still, the iPad does appear to be hard sell to consumers who already own a smartphone and a laptop, and its appeal as a household entertainment machine seems limited.


My household can’t live without the iPad these days and ironically the only thing it can’t do is run the Flash based math drill site my school uses.  Thank goodness for the TouchPad I bought for Flash.

I’m looking forward to learning with my kids.  I grew up as part of the first generation with video games.  They’re growing up as the first generation with truly mobile computing and the fulfillment of the e-Learning potential that my dad, as an educational technologist, glimpsed at in the 60s with the first computers entering K-12 schools.  Somewhere there’s a picture of me with a digital light pen and an IBM terminal catching electronic butterflies in 1968.

It should be fun.

Categories: eBooks, iOS Apps, Parenting

Jay Mug — Stormtrooper Happiness

February 2, 2012 Comments off
Categories: Parenting, Photography

Tech Tip: Reusing a Previously Owned Medela Pump-In-Style Breast Pump

January 15, 2012 Comments off

Here’s not a topic you’ll see on many tech blogs.  How to safely reuse a used breast pump.

Obligatory Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor nor breast pump engineer.  Do not rely on this article for medical advice.  I am only describing what we choose to do.  For the impatient, skip to the last section.

We’re expecting a new baby and madly scrambling to get everything together for the event.  You’d think with two kids already we might have our act together but its been six years and we gave away or tossed most of our baby stuff.

One item, our Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump, had died.  We bought it because it was one of the few pumps listed as reusable…alas, made out of plastic it was not to be.

A friend very kindly offered their Medela Pump-In-Style pump to us which is really awesome since electric breast pumps aren’t cheap.  But if you google you end up reading very dire warnings about reusing breast pumps.  Some of these warnings are well intentioned from other parents.  Some of these warnings are a bit self serving from companies.

Here’s the FDA warning provided in many baby forums:

Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person. With the exception of hospital-grade pumps, the FDA considers breast pumps single-use devices. That means that a breast pump should only be used by one woman because there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women.

The money you may save by buying a used pump is not worth the health risks to you or your baby. Breast pumps that are reused by different mothers can carry infectious diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis.

Buying a used breast pump or sharing a breast pump may be a violation of the manufacturer’s warranty and you may not be able to get help from the manufacturer if you have a problem with the pump.

OMG! HIV OR HEPATITIS! Most sane parents stop considering used pumps right there. Me, I kept googling. A reporter at U-T San Diego looked into this and it turns out that it’s not quite that clear cut.

First, there are no such things as “hospital-grade” pumps as certified by the FDA.  The FDA also doesn’t certify any breast pump for reuse.  The FDA spokesperson Karen Riley had this to say:

“If a breast pump has a separate breast cover and tubing, then it can be reused once cleaned,” she said, “but the pumps are not labeled as such.


“We have allowed breast pumps that clearly separate (no possible contact of breast milk with the pump mechanism) to be marketed as reusable with appropriate instructions for cleaning and disinfection,” Riley said.

So as the article states…pretty much the manufacturer decides whether or not to market their breast pumps as reusable and how easy they make to disinfect.

Gee, I wonder if it is in Medela’s interest to sell everyone a new $300 pump or let folks reuse perfectly good used pumps.

So, can you safely reuse a Medela pump?  You can replace all the external tubing (we bought ours from Amazon) and disinfect the front face plate but according to Medela there’s a diaphragm which cannot be adequately disinfected.

The Medela Pump In Style® Breastpump has an internal diaphragm that cannot be removed, replaced, or fully sterilized. Therefore, the risk of cross-contamination associated with re-using a previously owned pump such as the Pump In Style cannot be totally dismissed. Multiple use of single-user breastpump automatically voids the warranty of the Medela product. Each mother who wishes to express milk with a pump should use a clean, uncontaminated breastpump. This is the safest way to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination.

This is sort of true.  It used to be that you could buy a replacement internal diaphragm from resellers.  Today, these are all listed as discontinued and to contact Medela.  I’m guessing they aren’t likely to sell you one for your used pump.  So can you disinfect it enough to be safe?  They sure don’t want you to think so.

Here’s the solution we started with:

First question is there any access to the “internal” diaphragm.  Actually yes.  Just pop off the front plate which you need to do to sterilize it anyway.  Here’s a nice tear down of an older pump in style.  The 2008 model we have is largely the same although the face plate was redesigned.  The diaphragm looks like this (from Robb’s posting):

It’s not hard to disassemble the Medela breast pump.  On the one we borrowed it’s held in via velcro.  And unlike the Ameda it’s not glued plastic but a sturdy metal frame.  One screw later and you can see the guts.  The only somewhat tricky part is accessing the pins for the second plastic face plate that holds the diaphragm in place.

Once you get this far you realize that Medela could have made this a fairly painless thing to do.  You also realize that this $300 breast pump consists of about $30 worth of parts and that’s being generous.

Now Robb just used alcohol wipes…which turns out isn’t quite enough to kill Hepatitis C viruses.  I found this article regarding disinfecting Goldmann tonometers.

Hepatitis C virus was placed on Goldmann tonometer tips, air dried, and then disinfected by dry gauze wipes, isopropyl alcohol wipes, cold water washes, povidone iodine 10% wipes, and hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol soaks followed by a cold water wash and dry.


Percentage of hepatitis C virus RNA remaining after disinfection: dry gauze wipes 95.65%, isopropyl alcohol 5-second wipes 88.91%, cold water wash 4.78%, povidone iodine 10% 5-second wipes 0.72%, hydrogen peroxide soak with cold water wash 0.07%, and isopropyl alcohol soak and cold water wash 0.02%.

89% of Hepatitis C virus RNA left after 5 second Isopropyl wipes isn’t so good.  It probably means some are still active.  What I did was to pull the pump unit out so I could set it on it’s back on a flat surface.  Then I filled the concave diaphragm with 70% isopropyl alcohol and left it for 5 minutes and then carefully dumped it out with soaking the motor.  I wiped down the edges with more alcohol and finally took tissue, saturated it with alcohol, and left it across the diaphragm for 5 minutes.  A lot of this was random experimentation to figure out an adequate way to “soak” without taking the assembly apart and actually soaking.

Replicating the cold water wash was pretty much impossible without risking the electronics board, again because I wasn’t willing to pop the diaphragm out of the pump.  I wasn’t really sure I could actually reassemble it.  So I wiped it several times with a wet cloth.  If there were any hepatitis virus (which I doubt) contamination on the surface it was probably down below 1% at this point.

Given that I didn’t believe there was anything wrong in the first place and I repeatedly soaked and wiped the surface with alcohol (wasn’t going to risk iodine) I would have gone with this as a 99%+ safe solution.

As for HIV and herpes and other viruses it seems they are less hardy than Hepatitis. Wiping with an isopropyl alcohol swab and then allowing the alcohol to evaporate seems to “inactivate” these viruses.

If you are using any Medela pump (new or used), I recommend wiping down the diaphragm regularly with an alcohol swab, let evaporate and then wipe down with water anyway.  Milk CAN get in there and you can get mold growth on the surface.  That’s pretty nasty and a complaint you see on Amazon.

Here’s the Actual Solution We’re Going To Use

99%+ safe isn’t actually 100% safe. Even assuming I got any viral contamination down to 0.02% some parents are still likely unwilling to take the risk.  Given that I wasn’t able to do the full cold water rinse it’s probably not that low anyway.

Remember that I said we have a broken Ameda Purely Yours breast pump?

The reason this kind of pump can be safely reused is because it’s a fully “closed” system.  Meaning the part that touches milk is fully contained in the replaceable breast shield.  You can never get milk into the pump portion and there’s no air exchange between the two sections.  What happens is that the pump creates suction which collapses a diaphragm inside the breast shield assembly…creating localized suction within the shield.  The only parts that milk can touch are the fully sterilizable or replaceable parts.

Ameda claims:

The HygieniKit is the only milk collection system approved by the FDA to protect against cross contamination. It also safeguards the purity of expressed milk from bacteria and viruses by keeping milk and outside air separate from one another.

The Medela pump generates the same amount or more suction than our broken Purely Yours did.  The tubing is same size so I plugged the Ameda kit into the Medela pump.  The external diaphragm in the Ameda breast shield collapses just fine despite some minor leakage and the combo probably works better than the original Ameda pump (don’t ask how this was tested).  Certainly better than when it was half working.

As far as I can tell (remember disclaimers above) this is a 100% safe solution regardless of how contaminated the diaphragm is on the Medela.  There’s simply no contact with the air used for suction.  Milk can never get in the tubing nor ever touch any part of the Medela pump.

You can buy the Ameda parts from Amazon.  I believe that the full replacement kit should work and even comes with a one-hand-manual pump as a bonus.  I’m not sure since we already have all the parts I need.  I may buy it anyway since our kit is 6 years old and a little worn anyway.  If I do, I’ll report what I find.

This technique should be able to work with any breast pump that uses similarly sized tubing for suction.

Important note:

This worked on the Medela Pump-In-Style 2008 bag model because the Ameda tubes fit tightly into the front face plate.  The Medela tubes are harder than the Ameda ones but the same size.  Newer Medela models have a different face plate but the replacement Medela tubes I purchased fit all of Pump-In-Style ones but the only model I tested (because it’s the only one I have access to) is the 2008 model.

The price at the time of writing for the replacement Ameda kit is $46 from Amazon.  Because these components are single user use they are not returnable if opened.  If it doesn’t work with your used pump you will be out the price of the kit although you can still use it as a manual pump.

Also, since my wife isn’t pumping yet it may be that the Medela kit simply works better than the Ameda kit.  Medela is a popular brand for a reason.  One, they seem to be built better.  Second, they may simply work better.

If that’s the case, we’ll likely go with just using the Medela tubing and breast shields since I already bought all the parts and opened them (again, single user).  For me, I’m reasonably certain I did enough to kill anything that might have been on that diaphragm.

Also consider, as stated by Medela, if you are reusing someone else’s pump the warranty is automatically void.

Links (Active on Jan 2012)

Why does the FDA tell consumers that breast pumps can’t be reused? |

Can you reuse a breast pump safely? What is Medela hiding? | Medical Noise.

Are used breast pumps a no-no?

Categories: Parenting