Apple backtracks: no AV necessary for the Mac

via CNET, alerted by Slashdot:

Apple removed an old item from its support site late Tuesday that urged Mac customers to use multiple antivirus utilities and now says the Mac is safe "out of the box."

"We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," Apple spokesperson Bill Evans said.

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box," he said. "However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection."

 

So, they want it both ways: you don’t need it, but it’s a good idea.  Corporate-speak gibberish.

The End is nigh. Is it time to move on?

The End is nigh. Is it time to move on?

When PalmDoc recognises the end is near for Palm, game over.

You’ll be surprised at his answer for a successor platform.

Well, so much for the Mac Invincibility Theory

British Broadcasting CorporationIn a note posted on its support site in late November, Apple said it wanted to "encourage" people to use anti-virus to stay safe online.

The move is widely seen as a response to the growing trend among cyber criminals of booby-trapping webpages that can catch out Mac users.

Apple recommended users try McAfee VirusScan, Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11, or Intego VirusBarrier X5.

For me it won’t be Norton; does anyone have experience with the Mac versions of McAfee ($36.55) or Intego ($69.95)?

What’s my Blog-style?

Per the Typealyzer I’m a Guardian:

The organizing and efficient type. They are especially attuned to setting goals and managing available resources to get the job done. Once they´ve made up their mind on something, it can be quite difficult to convince otherwise. They listen to hard facts and can have a hard time accepting new or innovative ways of doing things.
The Guardians are often happy working in highly structured work environments where everyone knows the rules of the job. They respect authority and are loyal team players.

Well, I could quibble around the edges, but that seems about right.  I think this is the digital equivalent of the sheepdog, and I do seem to fit that.

via WhiteCoat Rants

GoogleFlu

People with better than average web searching ability are said to have “GoogleFu”, which is not to be confused with their latest creation, which I call GoogleFlu, and they named Flu Trends.

googlelfu

They say it’ll allow users to find out where the flu is faster than the CDC maps, which is both true (faster than the CDC maps), and a little misleading: they’re not actually tracking the flu.

What they are tracking are keywords (via WSJ Health):

for instance "cough," or "fever." It displays the results on a map of the U.S. and shows a chart of changes in flu activity around the country. The data is meaningful because the Google arm that created Flu Trends found a strong correlation between the number of Internet searches related to the flu and the number of people reporting flu symptoms.

So, they’re not tracking flu cases, they’re using keywords with a demonstrated correlation to draw a map.  So, this will not be specific to influenza, but would also show where people are searching about their cold symptoms.

It bears watching, but remember it’s not counting actual flu cases like the CDC.

Great moments in bad customer service: DirecTV Style

Life’s been good to me, and today I wanted to upgrade two of my regular DirecTV boxes to HD boxes.  So, a call to customer service to get a couple.

(I had tried to do this online, but stopped when it wanted to charge me for an HD installation, which I already had: that should have told me the legendary DirecTV customer service was slipping).

The phone call started fine, through the phone tree that has very good voice recognition, and within a few minutes I was talking to a nice rep who knew her stuff.  She was unfailingly polite and professional throughout; this isn’t about an individuals’ poor service, it’s about a company that’s setting policies designed to drive away customers.

me: I’d like to upgrade two of my DirecTV receivers to HD, please
dtv: I’d be glad to help you with that.  Oh, I see you ordered an HD receiver last December, so I can only give you one.
me: Why’s that?
dtv: You can only order 2 in a year.
me: Why would that be?  I’ve never heard of a company that didn’t want business…odd.
dtv: It’s just the policy.  (appropriately business-polite expression of sorrow).
dtv: I can have an installer come out (second week of November) to do an installation.
me: Installation?  We’re swapping boxes.  I’m going to unplug one and plug in the replacement.  I really don’t need an installation.
dtv: It’s a no-charge installation.
me: It’s not about the charge, it about waiting two weeks for someone to swap a set-top box.
dtv: Your account isn’t able to have a drop-ship.  (Apologies again).
me: Well, let’s cancel this order while I decide whether to keep this service.
dtv: (in that ‘let me see if I can fix this’ voice’) Hang on just a second.
me: Ok
three minutes on hold here…
me: What are we waiting on?
dtv: I’m canceling your order.
me: You need me to stay on the phone to cancel my order?
dtv: Yes.  If you hang up your account information goes off my screen.
me: You’re kidding?
dtv: No sir.

I’d like to reiterate this isn’t the phone-persons’ doing (unless she really really misunderstands several policies, which I doubt), it’s about a company that has made some really bad choices about equipment, and set up some terrible customer service interaction software for their personnel.

I’ve got an email out the the good people at Weaknees for the same boxes (whom I should have turned to first anyway), so we’ll see.

Update: Weaknees sold me two, and assures me by email (after hours) that they’ll be activated without a problem. I suspect that’s the case. (They hadn’t heard of a limit on receiver numbers, either).

MedicalCavity.com – Round The Clock Medical News Aggregator

If you’re like me, there’s never enough to read on the internet.

There’s now a cure, for the medical world at least: MedicalCavity.com – Round The Clock Medical News Aggregator.

As introduced by Dr. Subrahmanyam Karuturi::

Medical Cavity is a one stop website for medical news worldwide. It is a
single web page which wraps up the latest headlines from the trusted
medical news sources worldwide. It gives you a quick glance on what’s
happening in the medical world. Medical Cavity is the starting point for
Doctors to navigate the world of medicine.

Website : www.medicalcavity.com

I salute Dr. Karturi, and will be visiting frequently.

iPhone Emergency Apps

From The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

Save a life with your iPhone or iPod touch

by Steven Sande on Oct 20th 2008 at 12:00PM

If you came upon someone who was injured or had suffered a medical emergency, would you know how to react? In the midst of a crisis situation, even citizens who have been trained in first aid sometimes forget what they need to do to help save a life.
Several iPhone apps are now available to give you a hand. PhoneAid, First Aid, and 1st Reponse: Emergency Kit are all designed to be at your fingertips in the event of an emergency. Although it might be difficult or impossible to read an iPhone screen and perform CPR at the same time, the apps can help you or someone else give instructions in a panic situation.

I’ve downloaded the three they mentioned, and will be giving a short review of them over the next few days.

Askimet: A bloggers’ best friend

Bloggers are afflicted with a lot of comment and trackback spam.  How much, you ask, thrilled at the concentrated navel-gazing necessary to care about such matters?

 

Thanks to the latest Askimet update, I can show you, in graphic form:

gdocaskimet

 

Yes, the pink part is spam, the blue part is ‘ham’. as they amusingly term actual, wanted comments. Additionally, they have this amusing explanation of the ‘ham’ thing:

What the heck is ham doing on my blog? I’m a vegetarian.

Spam most people know as the unwanted commercial comments on their blog, its counterpart we call ham to indicate legitimate comments. On the Akismet mistakes side, missed spam is pretty self-explanitory, but a false positive is what it’s called when we incorrectly identify a legitimate comment as spam. (Which hopefully happens exceedingly rarely.) Also, we’re sorry about the vegetarian thing.

Thanks, Askimet, from bloggers everywhere.  And a pox upon spammers.

e-patients.net – For Sale: Revolution Health

For Sale: Revolution Health

Why is Steve Case’s online health venture already looking to sell itself, just a year and a half after it launched? Yet another tale of hubris in the e-health sector.

John Grohol at e-patients.net has a very good post about the problems of medical startups on the web.  It’s well written and informative, including his perspective from having been in the same boat before.

I do think he’s missed the other act of hubris, that fundamental change in our medical system can be brought about by a company with a professional website, writers with credentials, etc.  That’s good for entertainment, so far as it goes, but it’s not a terrifically efficient way to shape healthcare policy.  (The New York Times has all those things, works hard to affect policy, and is not very effective at getting their ideas enacted as national policy.  Also, the NYT has deep pockets and has been engaged in the arena for a very long time, demonstrating the long time horizon necessary to have influence).

This puts Dr. Val’s blog homelessness into perspective (but I wonder what’s to become of some of the others)?

I wonder if my iphone posts

Let’s find out.

Yes!  Yes it does.

Tech Bleg

Do any of you know the answer to the following?

I want to attach a network switch at a location remote from my wireless router.  Would a wireless adapter plugged into a switch work, or no?

Update: I didn’t give nearly enough info initially, so here’s what I have:.  In one end of the house is my internet connection, going through a Linksys wireless router.  I have the router attached to a set of Netgear powerline ethernet adapters, as the wireless signal on the other end of the house is very very low.

I tried putting a linksys 5port switch on the Remote Netgear adapter, and nothing will connect through it, though the hardware will connect when plugged directly into the netgear wireline adapter.  I have about 4 things in that room I want to attach to the network, by the way.

I threw out the wireless adapter thing as a SWAG, but wonder if I need to attach a router to the netgear wireline adapter (instead of the switch) to make that work?

Update2: The Denoument of Stupid.  My original setup works.  Switch ok attached to the Netgear adapter.  Apologies to all, thanks for the suggestions.

One reason blogging’s been light

Is my DSL connection.

This is the PingPlotter visual (red = no connection)

You can see the problem (that’s about 48 hours there in the picture).  My connection time is spent doing things I have to get done.

We’ve had the DSL techs out twice.  The first one pronounced us to have ‘too much line noise’, disconnected some things, and that didn’t fix it.  Tech 2 cut the speeds in half and replaced the modem, which didn’t help, either.

We noticed a few days ago that phone calls would just drop in mid-word, and a call to the ‘voice’ people resulted in a different test, which apparently says there’s a problem with the wires outside the house, and in typical AT&T fashion someone would be out in the next 72 hours.  No idea when, just in the next 3 days.

My guess is an intermittent short or a wire breakage that moves in the wind, so it acts normally sometimes but not others (like in medicine, intermittent things can be very hard to diagnose).

Hopefully, this’ll get fixed soon.  In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves.

Los Angeles Times: Doctors talk shop on medical blogs

Yrs. Trly, KevinMD, OBGynKenobi and Notes from Dr RW are all mentioned.  I’ll disagree mildly (I think it’s more complicated than that) with the last sentence, but the reast is pretty good.

Los Angeles Times: Doctors talk shop on medical blogs

Web posts offer insight into the profession, but also raise patient privacy issues.
By Melissa Healy
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 4, 2008

For physicians of a certain age, the weekly teaching session known as grand rounds is a ritual steeped in formality and tradition. Presided over by the profession’s graybeards, grand rounds are attended with white coats on and clinical details in hand.

Here, young physicians learn to accept their elders’ old-school admonishments with reverence and humility.

Grand rounds on the Internet, however, is another thing altogether. A weekly compilation of the Internet’s best medical blog postings, it is part classroom, part locker room, part group therapy session and part office party — a free-wheeling collection of rants, shop talk, case studies and learned commentary along with the occasional recipe, movie review or vacation slide show…

I’m always interested that I sound a little smarter in interviews than I do in actuality.  That’s a good thing.

Medicare Saver

I got an email last week asking me to have a look at, and maybe blog about, the following:

Hi, I am part of the team of local independent medical and technology
professionals that have just created an online Medicare Part D tool to help
even the playing field for seniors and independent physicians and
pharmacists.  Having created this baby we realized we have no idea how to
let people know about it.  So I was wondering if you might write a review
of us in your blog.The concept is simple.  The client simply enters their
location and drugs and we search for lower cost medications and list the
plans available to them with detailed pricing and restriction information.
It is free, confidential, and takes about 5-10 minutes.  The site is
www.MedicareSaver.com.

I’m all for things that help people make better decisions, so I’ve had a somewhat quick look around, and I generally like it (my gripe’s at the end).

It’s a very professionally done site, navigation couldn’t be easier.  It starts by asking your Zip code, and explains that “Medicare calculates your coverage by your location”, which drives the rest of the decisions inherent in the program.

When you get to step two, entering the medications, there’s the inherent problem with medication name entering: multiple non-sensical names for medications.  For instance, type in ‘metoprolol’ and the following appears:

metoprololchoices

I’m a doctor and I had to study the choices to make the choice I wanted.  This isn’t a slam on the Medicare saver people, it’s just one example of how this isn’t super-simple (and I don’t know how to make it more simple).

Where I think this site is very useful is the graphical presentation of Part D plans in your area, recommending the least expensive at the top:

partdrec

And, I can compare all 56 plans, should I want to.  It’ll then ask some questions to check your eligibility, and spit out an answer (I’m not eligible).

This is a good site for a lot of Medicare-covered people, and I’d recommend it as a starting place for discussions about medications with their doctors, and to shop Part D plans.

The MedicareSaver people want to tailor this product for physician practices and pharmacies (they need income too), so if you’re one of those, have a look.

My gripe: the professionally done, entirely understandable talking head at the top of every page cannot be shut off.  It’s not optional.  I really hate audio that plays automatically when I open any web page, and think if you’re going to do that you have to put in a mechanism to turn it off.  I emailed the site builder and mentioned this, and was told this is a deliberate decision based on some Seniors having relatively diminished sight.  Okay, but it still needs a way to shut it off.

That’s not enough to have me pan the whole product: it’s good, and I’d recommend it for the Medicare eligible.

(I have no financial or other entanglement in this product, I just think it’d be useful).