HAPPY BIRTHDAY WORLD WIDE WEB.


“The Web does not just connect machines, it connects people.” Tim Berners-Lee FRS on the World Wide Web which he created #OnThisDay in 1989.

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Digital Technology Is Transforming Care Delivery


Jim was an elderly patient suffering from emphysema. He lived some distance from the nearest hospital and couldn’t easily see a doctor, and he was rushed to the hospital once or twice a month when symptoms of his chronic lung condition flared up, putting a heavy strain on him and his family. Then Jim’s life was transformed: He became the beneficiary of a revolutionary approach to healthcare, and he could be tested and his condition monitored without ever having to go to a hospital.

American health provider Mercy Health put Jim on a new “virtual care” program, and care was brought directly to his bedside at home. Mercy used remote technology to carry out tests, monitor Jim and make sure any worrying signs were responded to before they became an emergency.

This example shows how care delivery is being transformed by modern digital technology. Jim’s care was managed by the Mercy Virtual Care Center, a “hospital without beds” that uses digital technology to enable remote care of patients at home.

Randy Moore, former president of Mercy Virtual, speaking at the Siemens Healthineers Executive Summit in Frankfurt, Germany in October 2018, recalled how Jim’s wife summed up the benefits of remote care. “She told us, ‘Our family had two years where I could leave the house, go shopping and not be afraid. Jim got to be at home. You gave us the best gift we could have,’” Moore said. Hospitals can be stressful for the families of patients as they are an unusual and often inconvenient setting. Relatives may prefer home-based care.

The Value-Based Approach

Modern healthcare is about more than simply caring for the sick, he added. “We have to be excellent if Jim shows up, but we also have to be in the business of health optimization. We can unleash that power and give 10 times the value we have in the past,” said Moore.

Finding more effective ways of caring for patients is essential to overcome the challenges facing modern healthcare. Aging populations have created a spike in chronic illnesses even as healthcare budgets are spiraling downward and costs spiral upward, and new treatments are ever more expensive.

Many healthcare systems were put in place a hundred years ago primarily to treat acute medical problems, at a time when most people didn’t live long enough to develop chronic conditions. Today’s health systems are often ill-equipped to cope with the rise in long-term care. Hospitals are paid for the number of operations they perform—the “fee for service” model—not for the long-term well-being of patients. Yet hospitals are an expensive way of caring for patients. This disparity is forcing the transformation of healthcare systems to achieve the most patient value for money spent by keeping hospitalizations to a minimum.

The new value-based healthcare approach is turning the care model on its head. It rewards health providers for prevention and long-term results, rather than one-off operations, often providing a fixed fee or “capitation fee” for each patient every year. This incentivizes care providers to prevent illnesses by educating as well as diagnosing and intervening early.

Value-based healthcare is also leading a sea change in the way care is provided.

Improving Access to Care

Expanding access to care is an important step to reduce the incidence and severity of illness and to treat conditions before they lead to hospitalization. This means greater use of ambulatory services to diagnose, observe and treat patients outside hospitals. Many chronic conditions such as diabetes and lung disease, including emphysema, lend themselves to this approach.

Oak Street Health is one U.S. organization that has pioneered ways of improving access to healthcare for ordinary Americans, primarily working with older Medicare patients and focusing on prevention and treatment in the community. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Griffin Myers, told the Executive summit that 80 percent of illnesses are related to social and environmental factors, such as poor access to healthy food and clean water, a lack of stable housing and neighborhood violence. Doctors tend to think such factors are not part of their job, but Myers disagrees.

“It is time for us as leaders in this space to take responsibility for those social factors because those are the things that determine how well our patients do,” he said.

Oak Street charges insurers a set fee for patients, and pays all their medical bills as well as costs related to social and other factors, such as transportation. “The value-based model is not theoretical. Our goal is to keep people happy, healthy and out of hospitals,” said Myers.

Oak Street has achieved a 40 percent reduction in hospitalizations largely by addressing social determinants. However, a drawback in today’s reimbursement systems for hospitals is that this approach may lead to a decline in hospitals’ income as they treat fewer patients.

Increasing Workforce Productivity

While demand for care is rising, the medical professionals needed to provide this care are in limited supply. To address this imbalance, health providers are looking for ways to improve workforce productivity.

In a value-based healthcare system, productivity is increased by organizing care around a patient’s medical condition with integrated teams collaborating to help the patient through all stages of care.

A good example of this is the Martini-Klinik in Hamburg, Germany which was established in 2005 to focus on delivering care for a single condition – prostate cancer. The clinic handles over 2,200 prostate cancer cases a year and claims better outcomes than any other organization. But the clinic doesn’t simply “cure” patients and send them on their way. The Martini-Klinik uses research and patient surveys to measure the long-term outcomes of its care and find ways of improving them.

The clinic has focused on boosting productivity through training and supporting staff. This has led to greater job satisfaction and staff loyalty with a low employee turnover.

The clinic uses a system where all physicians involved in treating prostate cancer are given joint incentives. This encourages them to work together, reducing difficulties with handing over information and losing data.

As Dr. Ghada Trotabas, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Siemens Healthineers, told the summit: “The complexities of medicine have by far exceeded the ability of the single individual. Today’s medicine needs to be practiced in teams.” She compared these teams to “pit crews,” the integrated group of mechanics who service race cars.

Today’s value-based  care teams help the patient before, during and after treatment, and deal with side effects, complications and care throughout the process.

Like Oak Street Health, provider Kaiser Permanente, based in California, also uses a capitation model with a set fee per patient which creates incentive to improve the health of each patient and prevent illness. Kaiser promotes benchmarking of staff across the organization so everyone can see who the top, middle and lowest performers are in every area of care. Dr. John Mattison, Kaiser’s Chief Health Information Officer, told the summit that a workflow specialist regularly analyzes the company’s benchmarking data and helps recommend how clinics can achieve the best results. “We replicate that across the program, which requires integrated care and an ethos and culture, so you can transfer those processes and the system configurations from site to site very easily,” he said.

Mattison noted that too much emphasis has been placed on giving health providers incentives based on procedures, rather than outcomes. “The only way to change that is to change the cultural model—changing leadership, inspiration and motivation—as well as aligning the kinds of outcomes you want with pay.”

Managing Population Health

Value-based healthcare is also about managing health across entire populations. This includes public health information campaigns that promoted disease prevention and screening, as well as programs to identify chronic patients who will benefit from intensive programs and treatments.

Globally, managing population health will require a massive expansion of healthcare systems in developing countries. India has launched one of the biggest projects globally to put healthcare within reach of hundreds of millions of underserved people: Ayushman Bharat – also known as “Modicare,” launched in early 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will bring health insurance and medical care to 500 million Indian citizens, cover healthcare costs of up to $7,800 for 100 million impoverished families and spend $188 million to create “health and wellness” centers.

“Healthcare was not on the political agenda of India like it has been in the USA,” Dr. Girdhar Gyani, Director General of India’s Association of Health Providers, told the summit. “Half of the money has been driven by the state government directly. But in the new scheme, we are pushing the insurance companies to drive it; the insurers will learn to make sure they put emphasis on preventive healthcare, and that is where technology will play a leading role.”

Modern advances in healthcare are designed to keep hospitalization to a minimum. As Kaiser Permanente’s John Mattison said, “An unplanned hospitalization for someone with a chronic disease is a system failure.”

Patients and their families are welcoming the transformation in care delivery, as illnesses are prevented, hospitalizations are reduced and the care workflow is improved. Hospitals may find that traditional income streams decline as a result of more efficient and remote care, but the clear aim is to keep patients out of expensive hospital beds and improve their quality of life.

This Lab Has Built a Prototype ‘Anti-Laser’ That Swallows Light


In recent years scientists have started exploring the concept of anti-lasers – devices that can perfectly absorb a particular wavelength of light, as opposed to emitting it the way a laser does.

main article image

Now researchers have published a study that explores the blueprint for building an anti-laser that’s more complex than anything we’ve seen before.

More than an anti-laser, this team’s device is a ‘random anti-laser’: capable of absorbing waves randomly scattered in all directions. This ability could have a variety of potential uses, in everything from phone antennas to medical equipment – anywhere waves are captured.

An anti-laser may sound wild, but it’s actually pretty much what it says on the tin. You can think of such a device as a laser light burst happening in reverse – getting swallowed up rather than beamed out, according to the researchers.

“So far, anti-lasers have only been realised in one-dimensional structures onto which laser light was directed from opposite sides,” says one of the team, Stefan Rotter from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria.

“Our approach is much more general: we were able to show that even arbitrarily complicated structures in two or three dimensions can perfectly absorb a suitably tailored wave. In this way, this novel concept can also be used for a much wider range of applications.”

It’s that versatility and flexibility that sets this new anti-laser apart from what previous such devices. The team worked up a set of calculations and computer simulations to theorise how such a perfectly absorbing anti-laser might work, then backed them up with physical lab tests.

Key to the process is finding a wave front for the incoming signals in order to perfectly absorb them. That then enables the absorption of waves that aren’t arriving in predictable ways, but rather as scattered signals bouncing in from multiple sources.

“Waves that are being scattered in a complex way are really all around us – think about a mobile phone signal that is reflected several times before it reaches your cell phone,” says Rotter.

“This multiple scattering is made practical use of in so-called random lasers. Such exotic lasers are based on a disordered medium with a random internal structure that can trap light and emit a very complicated, system-specific laser field when supplied with energy.”

laser light 2The random anti-laser setup. (Vienna University of Technology)

When it came to building their own anti-laser, the scientists set up a series of randomly placed Teflon cylinders, and sent microwave signals scattering through them – a little bit like rocks deflecting water waves in a puddle of water.

A waveguide placed on top with an antenna in its centre was used to absorb the incoming waves. The researchers managed to get an absorption rate of approximately 99.8 percent of the signals they broadcast.

That high mark is only in tightly controlled conditions, though – the team first measured the wave reflections as they came back in order to finely tune the central antenna to absorb them. Both the frequency of the signal and the absorption strength have to be carefully calibrated.

As a first attempt though, it’s very promising, and the theoretical physics behind the project suggests it can be adapted to a range of other signals and applications. It could work for any scenario “in which waves need to be perfectly focused, routed or absorbed”, write the researchers.

“Imagine, for example, that you could adjust a cell phone signal exactly the right way, so that it is perfectly absorbed by the antenna in your cell phone,” says Rotter.

“Also in medicine, we often deal with the task of delivering wave energy to a very specific point – such as shock waves shattering a kidney stone.”

Being treated with an anti-laser sounds pretty cool to us.

Can Artificial Intelligence Read X-Rays?


An artificial intelligence (AI) system can analyze chest X-rays and spot patients who should receive immediate care, researchers report.

The system could also reduce backlogs in hospitals someday. Chest X-rays account for 40 percent of all diagnostic imaging worldwide, and there can be large backlogs, according to the researchers.

“Currently, there are no systematic and automated ways to triage chest X-rays and bring those with critical and urgent findings to the top of the reporting pile,” explained study co-author Giovanni Montana. He is formerly of King’s College London and is now at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.

Montana and his colleagues used more than 470,300 adult chest X-rays to develop an AI system that could identify unusual results.

The system’s performance in prioritizing X-rays was assessed in a simulation using a separate set of 15,887 chest X-rays. All identifying information was removed from the X-rays to protect patient privacy.

The system was highly accurate in distinguished abnormal from normal chest X-rays, researchers said. Simulations showed that with the AI system, critical findings received an expert radiologist opinion within an average of 2.7 days, compared with an average of 11.2 days in actual practice.

The study results were published Jan. 22 in the journal Radiology.

“The initial results reported here are exciting as they demonstrate that an AI system can be successfully trained using a very large database of routinely acquired radiologic data,” Montana said in a journal news release.

“With further clinical validation, this technology is expected to reduce a radiologist’s workload by a significant amount by detecting all the normal exams, so more time can be spent on those requiring more attention,” he added.

The researchers said the next step is to test a much larger number of X-rays and to conduct a multi-center study to assess the AI system’s performance.

How to make your own homemade water filter


Image: How to make your own homemade water filter

Water is essential to survival, even more so than food. Even in the best of conditions, you probably won’t last more than 10 days without access to clean, drinking water, but you might be able to survive for four to six weeks without food. At the same time, it is important to either purify, filter, or sterilize your water before drinking it. While dehydration is a valid cause for concern, drinking unclean or contaminated water might just be worse, as this may expose you to waterborne bacteria or parasites. SHTF will really happen if this causes you to develop diarrhea, as you will lose even more of what little water you have left in your body. Secure your own supply of clean water by making your own DIY water filter. (h/t to MDCreekMore.com)

Before making your own homemade water filter, you should first be familiar with the proper terminology. Most people, including preppers, tend to use the words filtration, purification, and sterilization interchangeably. While there is some overlap between these terms when it comes to how many commercial filter units operate, these terms do not all mean the same thing.

Filtration involves the removal of solid matter and some emulsified liquids. Purification involves the removal of non-water substances, such as those in emulsions or solutions. Sterilization involves the elimination of harmful microbes. Some filter units may even include layers of activated charcoal to filter out solid matter and remove heavy metals. Also known as activated carbon, activated charcoal utilizes chemical adsorption to remove contaminants and impurities.

Sponsored solution from CWC Labs: This heavy metals test kit allows you to test almost anything for 20+ heavy metals and nutritive minerals, including lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum and more. You can test your own hair, vitamins, well water, garden soil, superfoods, pet hair, beverages and other samples (no blood or urine). ISO accredited laboratory using ICP-MS (mass spec) analysis with parts per billion sensitivity. Learn more here.

How to build your own DIY water filter

Building your own homemade water filter is much more cost-efficient than buying a completely new one. A DIY water filter also allows you more freedom to customize your filter to better suit your personal needs and preferences. The process is so simple that it will only take you around 20 minutes to build your own water filter.

Items needed:

  • 2 Black Berkey purification elements (or any other purification elements of your brand of choice)
  • rubber washers
  • wingnut fasteners
  • 2 5-gallon food-grade buckets with lids
  • food-grade spigot (preferably the size used for large water coolers)
  • drill with 1/2- and 3/4-inch drill bits

Procedure:

  1. Take one of your food-grade buckets and drill two holes at the bottom using your drill and the 1/2-inch drill bit. These holes should be around four to six inches apart.
  2. Take the lid of that bucket and drill two holes through it using the drill and the 1/2-inch drill bit. Make sure these holes match up perfectly with the holes at the bottom of your bucket.
  3. Take the second bucket and measure a spot around two inches from the bottom on one side of the bucket. This will serve as the hole for your spigot, so make it so it doesn’t touch the bottom to avoid damage.
  4. Once you’ve found the right spot, drill a hole through the side of the second bucket using your 3/4-inch drill bit.
  5. Install your purification elements through the 1/2-inch holes that you drilled at the bottom of the first bucket.
  6. Carefully secure your purification elements using your rubber washers and wingnut fasteners. Make sure that you do not overtighten the nuts as this could damage your purification element and cause it to leak.
  7. To assemble your water filter, first take the bucket with the spigot. This will serve as your base.
  8. Next, place the lid 1/2-inch holes on top of the bucket with the spigot.
    • On top of the lid, place the bucket with purification elements installed. Keep the holes aligned so that the tubes of the purification elements extend through the lid below it and into the lower bucket with the spigot.
  9. Pour water into the upper bucket. This water should drip down through the purification elements and collect in the lower bucket.
  10. Cover the upper bucket with the remaining lid.
  11. Whenever you feel thirsty, simply turn the spigot on and fill a glass with your clean, drinking water.

Learn other ways to secure your supply of clean water by going to CleanWater.news.

Sources include:

MDCreekMore.com

All-About-Water-Filters.com

Evolving Medical Education for a Digital Future


Three major technology trends—mobile phone–enabled platforms, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI)—exemplify how new technologies are transforming conventional modes of healthcare delivery. Mobile applications are replacing activities previously requiring in-person visits, computers are using vast new data streams to personalize treatment approaches, and AI is augmenting disease diagnosis.

Physicians have an important role in deciding where and how these new tools might be best utilized in diagnosing, treating, and managing health conditions. As medicine undergoes a “digital transformation,” a foundational review of medical education spanning medical school, residency, and continuing medical education (CME) is needed to ensure that physicians at all stages of practice are equipped to integrate emerging technologies into their daily practice. By evolving medical education today, we can prepare physicians for medicine’s digital future.

Computers algorithmically diagnosing diabetes from retinal scans[1]; chatbots providing automated mental health counseling[2]; smartphone applications using activity, location, and social data to help patients achieve lifestyle changes[3]; mobile applications delivering surgical follow-up care[4]; and smartwatches passively detecting atrial fibrillation[5] are just a few examples in which technology is being used to augment conventional modes of healthcare delivery.

Many proposals to evolve medical training in a world of continuous technology transformation have focused on specific technologies, such as incorporating telemedicine into existing Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies,[6] creating a new specialty of “medical virtualists,”[7] or better integrating data science into healthcare.[8]

Emerging Technologies Transforming Medicine

Looking beyond legacy health information technology platforms like electronic health records (EHRs), active venture capital funding provides a vision for where the community is placing its bets for emerging technologies. We highlight three areas drawing significant investor interest: mobile health ($1.3 billion raised in 2016),[9] big data enabling precision medicine ($679 million),[10] and AI ($794 million).[11]

Mobile health. In a 2015 national survey, 58.2% of smartphone owners reported having downloaded a health-related mobile application[12] from an estimated 259,000 available health-related applications.[13] These applications frequently help patients self-manage their health conditions by providing education, tracking tools, and community support between clinic visits.

Big data enabling precision medicine. Phone-based sensors, wearable devices, social media, EHRs, and genomics are just a few of the many new technologies collecting and transmitting clinical, environmental, and behavioral information. These new contextual data streams are facilitating personalized medical decision-making with treatments tailored to each individual patient.

AI. New computational methods such as AI, machine learning, and neural networks are augmenting clinical decisions via algorithmic interpretation of huge data sets that exceed human cognitive capacities. These new computational technologies hold great potential to assist with diagnosis (interpretation of ECGs, radiology, pathology), personalized treatment (tailoring treatment regimens for individual tumor genotypes), and population health (risk prediction and stratification), though for now they remain software innovations reliant on human clinician hardware to guide appropriate use.[14]

Knowledge Domains

Physicians have an important role in deciding where and how new tools might be best utilized in diagnosing, treating, and managing health conditions. A recent study by the American Medical Association (AMA) found significant physician interest in digital health tools, with 85% of physicians reporting that they perceived at least some benefit from new digital tools in improving their ability to care for patients.[15]

Integrating emerging technologies such as mobile applications, big data, and AI into regular practice will require providers to acquire new knowledge across ACGME educational domains such as Professionalism, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, and Systems-Based Practice.

From a foundational perspective, it is important that physicians understand their role and potential liability as related to these new technologies. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Understanding relevant laws, particularly state-based regulations concerning remote practice of medicine (ie, telemedicine). (Systems-Based Practice)
  • Compliance with HIPAA and other key privacy regulations when interacting with patient-generated data outside the bounds of the EHR. (Systems-Based Practice)
  • Evaluating potential malpractice implications, including assessing coverage scope. (Systems-Based Practice)
  • Awareness of emerging reimbursement codes for time allocated to new technology–enabled practice models. (Systems-Based Practice)

Outstanding questions remain regarding the clinical efficacy of many new technologies. With formal clinical trials still underway, physicians may feel unable to speak definitively regarding a specific technology’s potential risks and benefits. Yet, the increasingly broad use of these tools requires that physicians use their clinical expertise to help their patients understand the limitations of such technologies and steer them toward appropriate tools. Essential skills and roles that modern physicians must now adopt include:

  • Teaching patients how to identify trusted tools—those using evidence-based guidelines or created in conjunction with credible physicians, scientists, and hospitals (Medical Knowledge)
  • Setting clear expectations upfront about the extent of physician involvement in reviewing patient-generated data (particularly if there is no anticipated involvement) (Patient Care)
  • Assessing technology literacy in the social history and adapting patient education on the basis of digital attainment, including recommending websites, online video, and mobile apps when appropriate (Patient Care)
  • Advancing clinical knowledge by referring select patients to enroll in digital remote clinical trials (Systems-Based Practice)

Taking into account the rapidly increasing amounts of data inputs in clinical decisions, physicians must augment their statistical knowledge to become generally familiar with new data science methods:

  • Leverage data science tools such as visualization to more efficiently review large amounts of patient data, including identification of outliers and trends (Medical Knowledge)
  • Seek to understand the inputs and assumptions of advanced computational algorithms and not allow them to become a black box. Recognize that although deep-learning algorithms can deduce important patterns and relationships, physicians remain necessary as a critical lens in deciding how to apply findings to each individual patient. (Patient Care)

Implications for Physicians

For current medical students and trainees, many of whom are digital natives themselves, the educational domains outlined above may seem intuitive or obvious. In contrast, physicians currently practicing today are already burdened with countless administrative tasks that may make these future technologies feel overwhelming or irrelevant. Yet, the frustration and feelings of burnout that many physicians have as related to the use of EHRs exactly illustrates why it is critically important that physicians engage early in the dissemination of new technologies.

The first step for providers in the digital transformation of medicine is awareness. While providers may not be aware of, or are dismissive of, new technologies, these tools are already being used avidly by millions of patients around the world.[11] Mobile health, big data, and AI soon will become an integral part of medicine, much like EHRs (and stethoscopes).

The second step is for physicians to familiarize themselves with general categories of new digital tools. New journals such as the Journal of Medical Internet Research offer peer-reviewed manuscripts focused on “eHealth and healthcare in the Internet age.” Physicians may benefit from downloading and signing up for test accounts of new applications or connected health devices. Organizations should consider allowing physicians to spend a portion of their CME budgets on such “digital transformation” learning activities.

The third step is for physician leadership organizations to work with regulatory agencies like the FDA to help identify the most robust tools for physicians to adopt and recommend. A positive example of this is the AMA’s recently issued guidelines on the appropriate use of digital medical devices.[16]

By evolving medical education today, we can prepare physicians for medicine’s digital future. In the face of complex and rapid change, we may all be trainees in a world of ever-accelerating technological evolution.

10 amazing and helpful apps that will inspire you


There are millions of mobile applications available to smartphone users today, and that number will only keep growing as it becomes easier to build and deploy apps. Some apps are for amusement, but others are specifically designed to improve the lives of their users or the world at large.

10 amazing and helpful apps that will inspire you

We asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question about some of the most innovative apps they’ve encountered that were created to help people:

What’s one innovative app you‘ve seen that’s designed to help people, and what can leaders learn from apps like it?

Their best answers are below:

1. Be My Eyes


Be My Eyes is an app that provides blind and low-vision people with visual assistance by connecting them with volunteers and company representatives. What leaders can learn from this app is that basic tasks, like picking out the correct can of soup, can be challenging and humbling and that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. If you don’t have the right answer, someone else will. – Duran InciOptimum7

2. Charity Miles

Charity Miles is an app that motivates you to hit your fitness goals by donating money to your favorite charity. For every mile that you run, walk or bike, you earn money from corporate sponsors that is then donated to the charity of your choice. Leaders should take notice and see how they can combine charity with business in a more innovative approach. – Syed BalkhiWPBeginner
 
3. Chummy

Chummy aims to make the world better by paying it forward. Users can request help for everything from moving furniture to finding a lost pet. This should trigger entrepreneurs to think about achieving socially responsible goals by helping other businesses solve their problems. It may require unique thinking to find solutions that are financially sound and socially conscious. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

4. Aaptiv

The best app I’ve seen recently is Aaptiv. It’s like having a personal trainer without having to pay the high fees. Aaptiv is a fitness app that has thousands of workouts involving activities like running, using the elliptical and strength training. When you start your workout session, the trainer will give you the exercises to perform via audio. I think leaders can learn that fitness can be done whenever, even with busy schedules. – Jean GinzburgJeanGinzburg.com

5. Pacifica

The Pacifica app provides a way for people to deal with daily anxiety and stress. It provides audio lessons to help deal with stress, mood trackers and mindfulness meditations. When work gets too stressful, apps like this can help calm your mind, which is important if you want employees to perform their best. – Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

6. Speak & Translate 

Speak & Translate is an amazing app that allows you to communicate verbally with people who speak different languages. One of my passions is creating connections, and breaking down the boundary of language entirely with an app is absolutely groundbreaking. This app teaches us as leaders that there are no excuses for not making connections. – Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

7. Voice Access

Voice Access is a new Android accessibility app from Google. It helps people with limited mobility navigate their phones by voice, helping them with opening apps, scrolling, editing text and other common interactions. It’s a well-designed accessibility app, and it should inspire app developers to think about creating user experiences that don’t exclude people with restricted mobility and other disabilities. – Vik PatelFuture Hosting

8. Samaritan

Samaritan gives you the stories behind some of the homeless people you may see every day and allows you to donate money ($1 or more). These funds go toward needed services and expenses like clothing, groceries or gas. Leaders can learn from it because giving back to the community is the right thing to do. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers

9. Red Stripe

Red Stripe is an app for people with red-green colorblindness. It uses a smartphone camera to identify these colors and highlights them on the screen with stripe patterns. It’s a simple but useful app that shows how, with a little imagination, the built-in capabilities of mobile devices can be used to enhance people‘s lives. – Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

10. Budge

Budge is an app that lets you challenge your friends in the name of giving to charity. You can challenge a friend to things like quitting smoking, losing weight, running 10 miles etc., and whoever loses has to make a donation to charity. Leaders can learn how to make giving to charity a fun team activity with this app

Apple Releases Mysterious iOS 12.1.2 Update After Just ONE Beta


Ios 12 1 21

Apple has released iOS 12.1.2 to the public, just about a week after the first beta became available for developers and software testers.

The update is a relatively light one. According to Apple’s release notes..

It fixes a bug impacting eSIM activation for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.

It also addresses an issue that affected cellular connectivity in specific regions.

eSIM activations are now available from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as of the writing of this article. Once users download iOS 12.1.2, they shouldn’t experience any bugs with eSIM activations.

But while iOS 12.1.2 is a minor update, it is fairly unusual. Apple typically doesn’t rush a software update out after just one beta version.

Presumably, iOS 12.1.2 contains a fix that Apple opted not to wait to address.

As far as what that might be, it could be anyone’s guess. But it’s worth noting that iOS 12.1.2 lines up with a previously planned software update from Apple.

What’s Really Going on Here?

Last week, Chinese courts placed an import ban on certain iPhones due to an alleged violation of two Qualcomm patents.

Apple, in response, said it would release a software update that addresses any concerns about its devices violating those patents.

While iOS 12.1.2’s release notes don’t mention anything, its launch on Monday does certainly correlate with that timing.

Interestingly, the iOS 12.1.2 update is only available on iPhone — not on iPad or iPod touch. That further suggests that it could be related to the previously announced update.

But it’s also a bit confusing since reports suggested that iOS 12.1.2 also fixed a bug on iPad Pro. That could hint that an iPad and iPod touch version of the software may be on its way, or that the bug fix will be implemented in a future update.

How Do I Get It?

iPhone users can download it over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb?


Yes and no: there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the question

Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb?

We still haven’t grappled with the deep questions Nicholas Carr brought to public attention in his seminal book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2010). Is the internet making us dumb? Is the technology causing us cognitive loss or debilitation? Carr focused on the internet, which is, by design, a dumb technology—a general-purpose digital communication infrastructure that pushed “intelligence” to the ends of the network.

Since my own book Re-Engineering Humanity, co-authored by Evan Sellinger, was published, I’m often asked: Is smart technology making us dumb? My first reaction is to bounce a few questions back. Can technology really be smart? Is your question whether our use of certain technologies is making us dumb? Or is your question about technology companies?

Eventually, I return to the original question and respond like a lawyer: It depends. It’s yes, in some ways and no in others. Before addressing it, we must acknowledge the conceptual mistake of boiling intelligence down to a binary—smart versus dumb—as if it exists on a single dimension. There are many different types of intelligence that matter, and how technology affects different types also varies considerably.

Once I’m done meandering, however I answer yes. I believe we may be making ourselves dumber when we outsource thinking and rely on supposedly smart tech to micromanage our daily lives for the sake of cheap convenience.

The internet provides us with seemingly limitless data, prose, images, video and other raw materials that could in theory enhance our intelligence and enable us to become more knowledgeable, to be more skillful or to otherwise use actionable intelligence. Maybe we could improve our decision-making, reflect on our beliefs, interrogate our own biases, and so on.

But do we? Who does? Who exactly is made smarter? And how? And with respect to what? Are you and I, and our siblings and children, engaging with the seemingly limitless raw materials in a manner that makes us more capable, more intelligent? Or do we find ourselves outsourcing more and more? Do we find ourselves mindlessly following scripts written or designed by others?

We’re easily led to believe that we’re extending our minds and becoming more intelligent with a little help from the digital tech tools, when in reality, those are often just illusions, sales pitches optimized to pave the path of least resistance. Every time someone suggests they’ve extended their mind with their smartphone, that they are thinking through and with their phones, I respond by asking them about who’s doing what thinking.

Are they extending their mind or extending the reach of others into their mind? When you rely on GPS, who’s doing the route planning? Who is gaining what intelligence? Are you smarter because of GPS? What impact does outsourcing navigation and awareness of your surroundings have on your capabilities? Certainly, Waze or Google gain intelligence about you, your surroundings and even others around you. That could be good or bad, but it’s not really extending your mind or expanding your intelligence.

As everyone knows by now, many digital tech companies know a lot about each of us. Advertisers, Cambridge Analytica–like firms, large platforms and so on. They’ve gained considerable intelligence and, as a result, power. But note that for the most part, they feed on different raw materials. They don’t get smart by consuming the same materials that we’re fed.

They gain actionable intelligence by collecting treasure troves of data, gleaned from digital networked technologies. Everything that occurs on the internet—every interaction, transaction, communication, etc.—everything is data, strings of 0s and 1s. And all of our activities generate data. Digital tech companies gain actionable intelligence by collecting and processing data, mostly about how we behave in response to different stimuli—what we’re fed. This empowers those companies. They may, for example, personalize their services to induce desirable behaviors, such as sustained engagement. Or they may develop new salable insights about consumers. I could go on. But the bottom line is that digital tech companies get smarter, more capable, more powerful.

But what about you and me? Do we also get smarter? Do we extend our minds and thereby gain intelligence and increased capabilities? What actual capabilities are extended or enhanced? Are they in fact practiced? If so, to what end? What actionable intelligence improves the quality of your life?

 

Upon reflection, I remain uncertain. Again, the lawyer in me emerges, and I can reach no definitive evaluation. Does that say something about me and my reflective capacity, the ambiguity of empirical evidence, or something else?

The internet promised the library of Alexandria at our fingertips, delivered instantaneously wherever and whenever we like. It delivered that and much, much more. One might describe the exchange in Faustian terms, as trading one’s soul for knowledge. Putting aside concerns about what’s been lost (our soul, humanity, etc.), it’s not even clear that the promised knowledge was delivered. To make matters worse, evaluating the Faustian bargain is even more difficult when the intellectual capabilities required to do so seem to be waning, at least for many of us.

A New Apple Patent Offers a Radically New Vision for Future Smartphones


Apple will likely stick with its signature smartphone notch for the foreseeable future, but the company is looking to shake up the display design in years to come. With Samsung and a few upstarts hard at work developing an ecosystem around “foldable” multiple-display handsets, a new patent suggests that Apple’s looking in a slightly different direction.

It’s actually series of new Apple patents, and together they suggest the iPhone’s successors will be more of an all-in-one gaming platform that can make better use of the augmented reality and gaming features the company touted this year.

The bevy of 37 new patents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved and released Tuesday detail the designs for an iPhone with a screen that wraps all the way around it, almost like a smartphone crepe. Its internals would be completely encased in a flexible display, making it completely bezel-less and giving users access to screen real-estate on the rear and sides of the phone. The patents were first reported by Patently Apple.

The filings also explain how the device could use an accelerometer to detect tilt motions, as well as how users could use the rear screen to interact with the front screen. This design would make it an ideal gaming phone. Tilt controls could be used for racing or dogfighting games and the rear touch interface could serve as bumpers like the ones found on all gaming console controllers. In short, the findings suggest that a gaming-focused iPhone could be in Apple’s future.

apple iphone patent
A flexible screen would wrap around the phone’s internals, creating a sort of smartphone crepe.

Sections of the documentation obtained by Patently Apple describe the theoretical device:

“A transparent display cover structure that wraps around an axis of the electronic device…The control circuitry comprises an accelerometer that gathers tilt data…The electronic device has a front face and a rear face and wherein the flexible display layer is configured to display content on the front face based on touch input gathered using the touch sensor on the rear face.”

This design corresponds with Apple’s push towards AR and gaming applications with the 2018 releases of the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPad Pro. A wraparound display could convert iPhones into gaming controllers for iPad Pros or standalone mobile gaming platforms.

iphone patent concept gaming apple
View of a user interacting with the back of the device to control the front display.

While this design could make Apple’s push into gaming more viable, the documentation doesn’t address where it would put its cameras. That much display would also take a big toll on battery life.

Patents, while they are a good way to see what concepts companies are spitballing, are not dependable gauges of product launches. If Apple does choose to move forward with this idea it probably wouldn’t be for at least a few more years.

But who knows, maybe the iPhone and iPad will be bundled together as a gaming console within the next decade.

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