April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

apple-watch.pngCNET/CBS Interactive

Apple has formed a small team of biomedical engineers to work on noninvasive blood sugar monitoring to better treat diabetes, according to CNBC.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report said Apple has been conducting “feasibility” trials at clinics across the Bay Area.

The technology would help rid of needles diabetes patients use often daily to test their blood and was reportedly first imagined by late co-founder Steve Jobs.

Apple is said to be developing optical sensors, which involves shining a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose. Apple hasn’t begun what is likely a lengthy march with regulators if it wants to bring the technology to market.

It’s not clear how advanced the glucose monitoring technology is or what devices it may be found on. The team of roughly 30 people is said to report to Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. The hires are said to come from the biomedical field, along with acquisitions Apple has recently made.

Apple in 2014 debuted HealthKit to help healthcare professionals and patients better communicate and manage healthcare data. Apple is rumored to have planned more health features for the first Apple Watch, but many of the features were dropped due to consistency problems.

Apple isn’t alone in developing a glucose monitor. Google is developing a “smart contact lens” that it said will hopefully monitor glucose and warn users if their level is dropping too low.

A smart watch to detect heart attacks before they happen:

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

We’ve known Apple to be developing a range of powerful health sensors since before the company introduced Apple Watch, so claims it has teams developing non-invasive diabetes sensors aren’t really news at all – we know it has been in the works for over five years.

Sensor-sational

“The whole sensor field is going to explode. It’s already exploding. It’s a little all over the place right now, but with the arc of time, it will become clearer I think,” said Apple CEO, Tim Cook, way back in 2013.

The arc has shifted quite a bit since then. Regular readers will know I’ve been explaining how deeply committed the company is to digital health. So, why diabetes?

The scourge

Diabetes is one of the biggest problems on the planet.

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

When you are at home or in the office, it is relatively simple to sign and return a document that was received electronically. It can be printed out, the printed copy can be signed, and then the signed copy can be scanned, converted into the desired format and emailed back to the sender.

Sometimes, however, documents require immediate attention — even when you are away from your home or office. So what should you do when you only have your smartphone and there is a time-sensitive document that requires your signature? 

During a recent trip, I was forced to find out the answer to this question for myself.

When all you have at your disposal is your smartphone, suddenly needing to sign a document can be an unexpected puzzle, and it can be stressful on those occasions when time is of the essence and you are trying to figure out a solution on the fly. Fortunately, there is a simple solution available, even when your toolkit is limited to your Android or iPhone. All you really need is Adobe Acrobat Reader for Android, which is available free on Google Play, or the iOS version which is free from iTunes.  

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

The LaMetric Time tracks time, weather, emails, calendar events, tweets, followers, news, deadlines and any other metric needed for your home or business, and displays them almost in real-time. It works as an always-on display for the whole family by showing notifications from smart home devices and allowing anyone to control them with the click of a button. LaMetric Time eliminates the need to check multiple apps or news sites for the information you need. Instead, you receive key information at a glance, all in one place. The possibilities are endless. It also shows real-time notifications from IFTTT-connected services. LaMetric Time is standalone Wi-Fi device, iPhone or Android smartphone is needed for setting it up and configuration only. The interface is easy to use: left and right buttons for navigation between the apps, middle button for taking related actions. The form factor is sized to fit well on a table, shelf, shop-front or a counter. Wake up to your favourite Internet radio station or stream music from services like Spotify, iTunes, Pandora via Bluetooth. The typical list price on this one-of-a-kind gadget has been reduced 15% from $199 to $169 for a limited time. See this deal on Amazon.

This story, “15% off LaMetric Wi-Fi Clock – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

Is it time for high-end pros to dump the Mac?

As Apple transitions into a mass-market consumer electronics giant, high-end professionals, especially creative types, are being left out in the cold.

Is it now time for these professionals to dump the Mac?

what’s hot on zdnet

Analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon succinctly sums up the problem facing both Apple and the professionals who rely on the company for high-end hardware:

“There appears to be a growing rift among Apple executives when it comes to Mac strategy. Apple Industrial Design and Apple management have spent the better part of the past 10 years focused on devices designed to move hundreds of millions of people beyond the Mac. However, this strategy did not address 30M Apple users dependent on pro Mac hardware and software. While this segment only accounts for 4 percent of Apple’s user base, it is responsible for creating content consumed by the other 96 percent of Apple users. These content creators have played a major role in Apple’s mobile success.”

Back in 2007, Apple dropped the “Computers” from its name. Coincidentally (or not), this was also the same time that Apple unveiled the first-generation iPhone. The success of the iPod made it clear that Apple’s future lay in mass-market consumer electronics devices that had a fixed lifecycle and zero upgradeability, and not the traditional computer with all of its easily replaceable parts.

And Apple was right. But that success has led it to isolate and alienate that small pro Mac market.

As to what Apple will do, my guess is that it will try in the short to medium term to appease that 4 percent by throwing them tidbits in the form of upgrades and a new Mac Pro, while at the same time trying to convince those who can to move to more mainstream Macs or the iPad.

However, in the longer term, it’s clear that Apple’s heart just isn’t in developing and supporting high-end niche hardware anymore.

So where does that leave those who rely on Macs?

As always, it depends.

Let me begin by making something clear — I’m not and I have never been one of those people who recklessly encourage people to swap platforms on a whim. As someone who made a transition from Windows to Mac, and someone who may be considering making the switch back, I know the challenges that it entails.

It takes a lot of time, it puts a big dent in your workflow (initially), and it’s expensive.

OK, with that out of the way, what should high-end Mac professionals be thinking about?

If you’re a Mac or iOS developer, then you’re stuck with Mac. You’re going to have to suck it up, spend the money, and do your best to navigate what lies ahead. No switching to an iPad or a Windows PC for you. If you need a high-end system like the Mac Pro then you’d better get used to updates being few and far between.

You won’t be in control of your upgrade schedule or path. Apple will be in control of that.

Everyone else splits into one of three groups:

  • You’re happy to stick with Mac, even if that means moving to a more mainstream “consumer” model — the biggest problem with this move is how Apple keeps fiddling with what connector it wants to use, and the increasing reliance on having to use dongles to support existing peripherals
  • You can switch to the iPad — Apple is working hard to push the iPad as the platform to replace the computer
  • You can switch to a Windows PC — it’s a bigger ecosystem catered for by a wide array of vendors

Probably the easiest thing for Mac users to do is to stick with Mac. After all, it’s the simplest path, and one fraught with the fewest uncertainties.

Better the devil you know, and all that.

That said, while Apple continues to makes drastic changes to the ports on the Mac (seemingly dropping FireWire, USB, and Thunderbolt for USB-C), it’s becoming harder to slot a new Mac into old workflows without buying new peripherals. This adds unnecessary pain to upgrading Macs and actually makes switching to a Windows-based PC seem like a smaller step (I’m currently resisting upgrading my MacBook Pro for this exact reason).

It’s a tricky time for high-end Mac users. While I don’t think that the Mac is going to vanish overnight, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. And the worst part is that I’m no longer sure if Apple itself knows where it’s going with the Mac. The emergency damage control meeting the company held last week suggested division within the company as to the direction Apple should take, and even going so far as to hint at gross incompetence, both in seemingly forgetting about its high-end market, and serious design problems with the Mac Pro.

If your company is running and relying on Apple hardware, these are not the sorts of things you want to be hearing from the executives.

Without a doubt, tough decisions lie ahead.

See also:

Apple’s software engineering chief tells us why there’s no touchscreen Mac:

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft is working on a fix after Tuesday’s Windows 7 and 8.1 security updates misfired on some users, forcibly locking them out of future Windows updates.

Microsoft has acknowledged that the updates’ detection mechanism, intended to force users with newer 7th generation processor chips to move to Windows 10, also caught people with 6th generation AMD Carrizo DDR 4 PCs, which were explicitly allowed under terms of Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy FAQ. Microsoft admitted erroneously blocking Windows Update on four different Tuesday patches: KB 4015549 (the Win7 Monthly Rollup), KB 4015546 (the Win7 Security-Only patch), KB 4015550 (the Win8.1 Monthly Rollup), and KB 4015547 (the Win8.1 Security-Only patch).

There’s a report from an anonymous Intel Celeron owner whose Celeron Dual-Core T3000 computer was shut out of future updates as well. Few Windows fans realize that the Celeron 3965U chip is designated 7th generation, and thus is targeted by the detection mechanism.

There’s currently no known way to roll back the bad patch or to unlock Windows Update.

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

Smartphones have the power to make our lives more efficient. They also have the power to cause major migraines.

Let’s face it: Technology wouldn’t be technology without the occasional facepalm-inducing failure—and mobile devices are no exception. But an annoying Android error doesn’t have to send you scrambling to the nearest clueless carrier store or online help forum. I’ve been covering and personally using Android since its infancy, and I’m here to help. (My certified-geek badge is on file in the main office if you need to see it.)

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

If we’ve learned anything in the technology business in the last 25 years, it would be to never underestimate the Linux kernel. Why, then, have so many networking companies been so eager to bypass the Linux kernel — or more specifically, the Linux kernel networking stack? What could be so wrong with the networking packet arteries in the Linux kernel that motivates so many of us to bypass them?

There are two main reasons. First, the kernel networking stack is too slow — and the problem is only getting worse with the adoption of higher speed networking in servers and switches (10GbE, 25GbE, and 40GbE today, and rising to 50GbE and 100GbE in the near future). Second, handling networking outside the kernel allows for plugging in new technology without the need to change core Linux kernel code.

For those two reasons, and with the additional advantage that many kernel bypass technologies are open source and/or specified by standards bodies, the proponents of bypass solutions continue to push data center operators to adopt them.

Kernel bypass solutions

We have seen many kernel bypass solutions in the past, most notably RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access), TOE (TCP Offload Engine), and OpenOnload. More recently, DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit) has been used in some applications to bypass the kernel, and then there are new emerging initiatives such as FD.io (Fast Data Input Output) based on VPP (Vector Packet Processing). More will likely emerge in the future.

April 13, 2017 brianradio2016

With robotics making great strides and more companies welcoming robots into the workforce, IT managers need to start prepping for the changes coming their way.

“Robotics will probably touch every business over the next decade,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX. “I think we’re nearing a tipping point where more businesses will be adding robots and robotics to their operations. They’ll be doing everything from manufacturing, to delivering food to restaurant tables to cleaning chores and farming — and lots of stuff in between.”

While robots have been working on assembly lines and in giant warehouses for some time, they’ve become much more than giant hulking arms moving car doors and stacking boxes. With advances in technologies like artificial intelligence, computer vision and mobility, robots are taking on a host of new roles.

Late last summer, for instance, Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, announced plans to use customer-service robots in 11 stores in the San Francisco Bay area.

April 12, 2017 brianradio2016

This gadget from TP-Link plugs into a standard outlet and allows you to control it from anywhere using your smartphone, or with your voice through an Alexa device. Program on/off times or put it in “away mode” to simulate being home while you’re away. The typical list price of $49.99 has been reduced 30% to $34.99. See this deal on Amazon.

This story, “30% off TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.