AI 13 Week 1 Results

Let this be a lesson to all contestants: Do not try to perform a song with a title like “Beautiful Disaster” as if it’s an upbeat pop song that makes you smile and validates all of your life choices.

America will kick your butt back home.

Is there a holiday coming up?

This is my “Promotion” tab on Google for less than the last week.

2014-02-07 at 9.38 PM

The iWatch to Save All Diabetics

I’m still extremely cynical and pessimistic on this one. With evidence now that Apple met with the FDA to discuss wearable medical devices, the iWatch rumor mill is back at it.

9to5Mac is putting together the pieces and sees:

>Besides fitness tracking, a marquee feature of “Healthbook” will be the ability to monitor a user’s vital signs.

>The application will be able to track a person’s blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels, according to our sources.

I’m still not believing it. Measuring blood glucose is still reliant on blood samples. Measuring it by the moisture on your skin is still too science-fictiony for me.

Pointer to Tech Blog

I should also point out that the Various and Sundry CS blog is back up and running after a two month hiatus due to — ironically enough — technical issues.

Expect lots of Elixir on there in the weeks and months ahead.

Jack Is Back

I have to be honest. I never watched the last couple seasons of ’24.’ Or that television movie that led into the one season. I’m not even sure where we left Jack.

But it’s been just long enough that all the nostalgia flows through me and I’m super excited that Jack Is Back:

Besides, once upon a time, ’24’ talk was a regular feature around here. I didn’t forget you.

Book me a flight to Japan, quick!

Squirrel Gardens.

What more do I need to say?

How awesome is that?

Abe Lincoln, My Little Pony

The things a father draws for his daughter…

“What if Abraham Lincoln was a My Little Pony?”

lincoln_pony

Cutest Thing of the Week

(I may need to change tons of WordPress settings so I can embed YouTube videos and tweets around here. In the meantime, click on that link. NOW your day is complete.)

Two Spaces After a Sentence. It’s Really OK, People…

The topic of spacing after a period (or “full stop” in some parts of the world) has received a lot of attention in recent years. The vitriol that the single-space camp has toward the double-spacers these days is quite amazing, and typographers have made up an entire fake history to justify their position. […]

Unfortunately, this whole story is a fairy tale, made up by typographers to make themselves feel like they are correct in some absolute way. The account is riddled with historical fabrication. Here are some facts…

Such a good read ripping apart the modern notion that using two spaces at the end of a sentence is wrong. And he backs it up with a ridiculous amount of proof and history

My New Computer Programming Blog

If you go to VariousAndSundry.com/cs, you’ll find my new blog. Spinning off from this one, it’s for all the computer programming things I want to talk about. That’ll be mostly Ruby, with some Perl, iOS/Objective-C, and whatever else strikes my fancy. (Elixir? Go?)

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.

Enter

The first programming I ever did was on the family’s Commodore 64, typing in programs from the pages of “Enter” magazine. I recently came across two or three issues that survived that era, plus a folder full of pages I had ripped out to save for whatever reason. I might be scanning those in to show off here. This stuff is golden for programmers of my age, I imagine. There’s a lot of memories to come flooding back from these pages.

Enter Magazine with Sting from Dune, December 1984

Sorry, Pepsi

I love Diet Pepsi. And this summer, they have a contest going where you can collect codes under bottle caps and redeem them for chances at prizes on their website. So i went to the website to register. I logged in via Facebook, but they still needed all my information and a new password. Not sure what the point of Facebook then was, but I’ll live.

The form had a captcha, though. And everytime you failed the captcha, you had to fill out a new one AND re-enter your intended password (8 character minimum) twice. I started taking screengrabs after I failed the first half dozen times. This system of captchas is broken.

Please note that Pepsi doesn’t give you the option of choosing lowercase characters. Maybe THAT’S the problem?

captcha1

captcha2

Google Reader Update

I haven’t found one that’ll work in IE8, which is what I’m stuck with at work.

I haven’t tried Feed Wrangler yet, mostly because it would cost me $24 to try it and I kind of doubt it’ll work on IE8, too.

So, maybe I’ll be going cold turkey on reading the news starting Monday.