Archive for August 2013

 
 

Could Apple Save Glucometers?

Reading this article (it’s from 2012) is as frustrating today as it must have been to write back then. What’s changed in the glucometer industry since that was written? Absolutely nothing.

But the author makes an interesting point, and it made me put a random two together with another random two to create a piece of wild speculation that would be cool if it actually happened. Follow along:

A point in the article is that syncing your glucometer up to your computer, let alone your iPhone, is a ridiculous process. At best, you can buy a special wire to hook up the two, whose standards are not open. So you’re forced to use the manufacturer’s piss poor software. And you’re still connecting a cord. People don’t want to do that with their phones, let alone their glucometers.

We have wireless technology today. Bluetooth standards have only gotten better over the years. Recent upgrades mean Bluetooth chips use a miniscule amount of power. They won’t drain the batteries of glucometers anymore. It’s bad enough we’re stuck on oddly-shaped black and white 8-bit screens, but why can’t we get the data off the glucometer without writing it down or manually re-typing all the results into the computer? The data has already been entered. Why does that effort need to be duplicated? I’d rather get a half hour more exercise each week than spend time in front of an Excel spreadsheet or web site’s form to enter all those numbers in.

I know this sounds like a classic First World Problem, but it’s the reality of the situation. It’s how Apple has become such a huge company, by removing the little obstacles that technology presents to getting things done that matter in every day life. Why can’t the diabetes world have a savior like that?

What if it IS Apple, though?

From a recent 9to5Mac.com report:

Apple has also hired several experts in the field of non-invasive blood monitoring sensors from C8 MediSensors. This firm is a company that became defunct in February of this year, according to its former CTO Rudy Hofmeister (who departed the company in late 2012).

The company’s technology provides a non-invasive way to measure substances in the human body such as glucose levels. [...]

During a phone call, the former CTO told us that the company broke down because the glucose-level-analysis technology was facing issues surrounding the consistency of data readings. When the company dissolved, Apple moved aggressively to hire several C8 MediSensors directors and engineers, including designers and scientists that specialize in machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence that focuses on interpreting forms of data), Hofmeister said.

Could an iWatch have a blood sugar reader incorporated into it? While I would love that idea, I’m not sure it’s feasible just yet. It would be the ultimate solution, particularly if it kept a constant read of your levels, even if only every 15 minutes. But what if there’s a middle ground here?

One Touch Test Strips for diabetes

What if those two were hired for their connections with the diabetes industry? What if their job is to schmooze key players in the diabetes world to add Bluetooth to their Glucometers so that they could sync up with iPhones directly, or indirectly through an iWatch? Wouldn’t a company like LifeScan love to be featured at the iWatch roll-out as having a new glucometer that ties in with this “stunning” new device?

Maybe.

It would be cool, and it would certainly be less impossible sounding than an actual watch that read blood sugar magically through the skin.

Just a theory.

P.S. My glucometer’s time stamp doesn’t automatically change for Daylight Savings Time. I’m a professional computer programmer, and I have not been able to figure out how to change it manually. I think if I pulled out the battery, everything would reset so I would have to reset the time. But then I’d lose my history of readings. That’s an awful user experience.

Wanted: More Ruby Podcasts

I made a comment on Twitter last night which was impossible to defend in 140 character installments. So let’s unpack it here today.

I wondered if the Ruby Rogues podcast hadn’t ‘cornered’ the market on Ruby podcasting. Not that they drove everyone else out or that everyone is afraid or them or anything negative like that. There’s just no “competition.” (Another qualifier: Additional podcasts wouldn’t necessarily be competition. It’s not a zero sum game.)

I love the Rogues podcast and went back and listened to every episode of interest after I found the show (and some on topics I didn’t much care about). It’s a weekly fixture in my podcast listening.

But I want more. I want to listen to more people talking about Ruby. So I scour the iTunes store and find — very little else. The other mainstay of my podcast listening routine is Giant Robots Smashing Other Giant Robots via Ben Orenstein and Thoughbot. It’s a weekly shorter show devoted to Ruby and Ruby-esque topics. There’s the usual parade of guests, a variety of topics, and occasional mirth and hilarity.

After that? Not much. Ruby5 is still going, with two five minute Ruby news updates per week. Other Ruby shows have podfaded away. It sometimes seems like the glory days of Ruby podcasting might have been five years ago. Even then, it wasn’t all that huge a market.

So why aren’t there more?

I know the Ruby market isn’t THAT big, but there’s room for more podcasts with a variety of angles and personalities, I should think. I compare it to the Apple/iOS podcasting market, which is practically flooded. Putting aside the more general interest tech shows that glance across programming and development for a moment (like Mac Break Weekly or The Prompt or Amplified), you have developer-led shows like Developing Perspective (done by a former Ruby on Rails developer), Edge Cases, Core Intuition (one of whom does some Rails work), Identical Cousins, Accidental Tech Podcast (a more general interest tech podcast, but it gets back to development often enough that I’ll count it here), Debug, Systematic (that might be stretching it a bit), and probably one or two others I’m forgetting at the moment.

Where are THOSE shows for Ruby programmers? Where’s the solo Ruby programmer-led development podcast? Or where’s the show with the two friends discussing their Ruby projects and programming, in general? Where’s the show interviewing Ruby programmers about their history with the language and their views on computers and programming, in general?

It might just be a difference in cultures. iOS developers are often product developers working independently creating stuff they hope to sell directly to consumers. Ruby programmers tend to be consultants who develop other people’s websites, often the kind we’ll never see or care about. They might be company intranets. They might be under an NDA. And, well, websites aren’t as sexy to talk about as GPS-enables smartphones with database access, 3D animation built in, touch interfaces, etc. etc.

iOS developers have new hardware to play with and a new API to use every year. They have a consumer-facing product to sell. Ruby is on version 2. Ruby on Rails is on version 4, nearly a decade later. The big changes aren’t as numerous to provide a constant flow of show topics, nor are they terribly exciting or noticeable to front-end users. And discussing code on a podcast is often the least effective way to deliver the information. Screencasts or blog posts are far more effective.

Maybe what I want is impossible to effectively deliver? Or maybe what I want isn’t really what I want?

What I want is more fun programming discussion centered on Ruby that I can listen to in my drive back and forth to work. If I learn something, all the better. I wish I had time to do it myself, but even my days as a solo podcaster are behind me due to time constraints.

I guess I’m hoping that someone is inspired by other podcasts to create a new one for the Ruby community to enjoy. There are a lot more models than the panel show. Maybe I’ve given someone some ideas here. I’d listen.