Category Archives: IT

Some thoughts on insurance companies and the use of wearable technology

When it comes to insurance and wearables, I think the effect of these devices will be limited. I think this because:

  1. I don’t believe people are consistent about using wearables. I have been using wearables and fitbits for some time. I believe most people are prone to not wearing them constantly. Inconsistent use will make it harder for insurers to guarantee you a  better rate or for you to achieve one.
  2. You are more likely to wear it and use it when you are trying to keep in shape. If you are not, you will likely not wear it. The insurer can’t know if you are getting out of shape or just no longer wearing it. (I used to use a Nike+ device for running, and I ran consistently, but I did not use the device consistently. Many days and weeks I just didn’t feel like it.) The use of wearables is mostly an upside for you, and of limited value to the insurer.
  3. One reason I gave up on using wearables consistently is that they don’t give you much new information. I walk and exercise consistently and so they often give me the same information consistently. Which means I tend to not wear them often. I don’t need the fitbit to tell me I walked 10,000 steps. I know I did because my commute to and from work plus my lunchtime walk consistently gives me that.
  4. My fitbit scale is great for tracking my weight over time, but an insurer could also just ask me my weight, height and waistline and get a sense of my eligibility for insurance, just like how they ask if I smoke. A very low tech way to measure things. Men with a waist over 40 inches are more prone to heart disease then men with much smaller waists, regardless of what a high tech scale says. A insurer needs a limited number of data points to assess your health risks.
  5. I believe there is limited return for insurers to get this much data. I base this on my current life insurer. I can get life insurance from 1-6X my salary (assuming I pay the corresponding rise in premiums) without providing medical data. They only ask for medical data if I ask for more than 6X. It likely isn’t of benefit for them to process the data for lower amounts, so they proceed without it.
  6. Insurers are data driven, for sure, but I think they are good at picking out a limited number of good numbers to determine what to charge you for insurance. I don’t think the numbers coming back from wearable tech is all that good.

So in short, I don’t believe people or insurers will get much benefit from wearable tech. People will not get breaks on their insurance, and insurers will not be able to reduce their risk substantially with the use of wearables.

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MindMup 2: a good web based mindmapping too

I’m a fan of mindmapping tools in general. One I’ve been using and enjoying lately is MindMup 2. 

Two things I like about it:

  1. It’s simple to modify your mindmaps on the go. You don’t need to do much to add or modify your map.
  2. It’s also simple to export your mindmap into a number of different formats. If you occasionally use mindmaps or you want to start with a mindmap to generate ideas but then you want to do the majority of the work in Word or some other tool, this is a good feature.

Mindmup_2 is a good tool. Go map your thoughts.

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How confidential are Gmail’s new “Confidential Mode” features?

According to EFF, not very confidential. To see why, read:  Between You, Me, and Google: Problems With Gmail’s “Confidential Mode” | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

 

 

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Isn’t machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) the same thing?


Nope. And this piece, Machine Learning Vs. Artificial Intelligence: How Are They Different?, does a nice job of reviewing them at a non-technical level. At the end, you should see the differences.

(The image, via g2crowd.com, also shows this nicely).

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It’s Monday morning: are robots going to replace you at your job?

Possibly, but as this article argues, there are at least three areas where robots and suck at:

Creative endeavours: These include creative writing, entrepreneurship, and scientific discovery. These can be highly paid and rewarding jobs. There is no better time to be an entrepreneur with an insight than today, because you can use technology to leverage your invention.

Social interactions: Robots do not have the kinds of emotional intelligence that humans have. Motivated people who are sensitive to the needs of others make great managers, leaders, salespeople, negotiators, caretakers, nurses, and teachers. Consider, for example, the idea of a robot giving a half-time pep talk to a high school football team. That would not be inspiring. Recent research makes clear that social skills are increasingly in demand.

Physical dexterity and mobility: If you have ever seen a robot try to pick up a pencil you see how clumsy and slow they are, compared to a human child. Humans have millennia of experience hiking mountains, swimming lakes, and dancing—practice that gives them extraordinary agility and physical dexterity.

Read the entire article; there’s much more in it than that. But if your job has some element of those three qualities, chances are robots won’t be replacing you soon.

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Some thoughts on the 10th Anniversary of the App Store

  1. I remember what a big deal it was that Apple was going to support third party software developers. That was by no means a given: Apple could have restricted the iPhone to only their apps and a handful of third party software vendors. By being much more open, they made the iPhone so much more than it could have been if they had not.
  2. I believe iTunes had a big influence on this. It was a model, in a sense, for what the App Store could be. And as iTunes helped make the iPod a success, so would the App Store help make the iPhone (and the iPod Touch) a success.
  3. One influence iTunes had on the App Store was software pricing. Before the App Store software was either free or pricey. Suddenly the App Store came along and software was the price of a song. The few vendors that wanted to charge more could not compete with those who were fine with the low cost. The App Store changed the way people thought about what they should pay for software.
  4. Another effect the App Store had on software was time to market. With mobile apps, people expected updates regularly and bugs to be fixed right away. Companies that used to ship annually now were shipping weekly or daily. This had a huge effect on how software teams developed software. Everyone had to have a mobile app, and every mobile app had to keep up with the new pace. This effect rippled through companies. Software developers adopted the pace for mobile apps to other software being created and released that frequently as well.
  5. The App Store also improved software quality. If you released bad software, you would hear from users immediately via the ratings. There was no hiding bad apps. As well, if your app sucked, other people would come out with better apps and steal whatever market share you had.  Software development teams were on tighter leashes because of the App Store.
  6. The App Store allowed software developers to make money in ways they could not before. You had a direct channel to consumers of software via the App Store. And lots of developers made a good amount of money as a result.
  7. Apps  became part of our culture. Games like Angry Birds found an audience because of the App Store.
  8. We downloaded so many apps we lost track of them. And some of them turned out not to be good for us. Speaking of that, if you want to do a bit of spring cleaning on your apps and make sure that the ones remain are good, I recommend you read this: On the 10th anniversary of the App store, it’s time to delete most of your apps (Popular Science)
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How chromebooks can be a means of avoiding being IT support for your family

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This piece explains the logic behind getting certain relatives a Chromebook so as to relieve you of being tech support:  I bought my mom a Chromebook Pixel and everything is so much better now – The Verge.

Now your mom may be tech savvy and not need a Chromebook (my mom was). But for some people’s moms or dads or children, it can be a very good solution. Especially for people who don’t travel much with their computer and who have a stable IT environment (e.g. the networking set up doesn’t change, the printer is good).

Chromebooks may not seem good value. You might compare what you get from a Chromebooks vs a Windows laptop and think: I get more from the Windows laptop. If you are good with computers, that true. But that’s not how to look at it. Factor in the cost of the relative’s computer plus the time you spend solving problems with it. When you factor that in, the benefit of the Chromebook jumps out.