* Posts by adamd

4 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jul 2008

Insulin pump hack delivers fatal dosage over the air


Facts from a Medtronic User

My wife has one of these pumps - a Medtronic 719. Her life depends on it, and trust me, diabetes is not fun to have. Some of the comments are not very helpful, even offensive, implying that the wireless is there just to save some time getting data out.

The facts: The wireless feature does help to get data out of the device which helps with setting the dosage curve (annoyingly you need a PC with IE and Java), but more importantly the wireless feature is used to help regulate the insulin intake, more or less continuously. An electronic strip tester can take the blood-sugar level from a pin-prick of blood and send the level to the pump - this can happen up to 10 times a day. Another device which my wife has been piloting has a sensor that sits in the skin, and continually measures the sugar level, again radioing in the numbers only this time every few minutes. This gets the whole setup to something like an artificial pancreas, which if you think about it, is pretty cool.

The downside is that the pump is plumbed into your body. You wear it under clothes - and the wireless trick is useful as it helps you lead a more normal life.

Actually I tried to read data from the Medtronic device myself - the fact that it can't be read from a Mac is not in my mind a helpful feature so I earlier this year I tried to set up a 900Mhz radio to read from it, or to intercept the USB dongle, so I could get the data out and plot it on graphs. At the time I thought this could be a vulnerability, but because I couldn't make it work I gave up and thought no more of it.

It's a serious point about the hacking, glad it's been brought to life. As more of us get to outsource our body functions to machines, we had better make sure they can't be slipped a 'virtual mickey'.

Best Buy leaked memo spills Windows 7 upgrade details


Delaying PC purchase...

Aye, I agree with your last lines: "In the meantime, anyone eyeing up a computer will be pondering whether to postpone a purchase.". i run a small company that needs to buy two new PCs pretty quickly - and completely stuck on what to do. I really don't want to inflict Vista on my staff (Vista running on my high end Sony laptop so annoyed me I bought a mac - an option not open to my staff). So what do I do? Wait until July to get a "Win 7 upgrade"? Negotiate a special discount to take account of upgrade price (and if so how much)?

When I called up Dell today, they had no clue "We only supply Vista" was the lame answer.

Any ideas, fellow readers? Or perhaps El Reg can help me in a "Dear Dierdre" fashion...


Amazon UK kicks off low-end price scuffle with iTunes


Rip Off Britain Etc

Here in Amsterdam I bought a track* off the NL iTunes earlier for the "can't bothered to download the torrent at that price!" price of EURO 0.69. Which is about 61p. Plus they have albums for under 7 Euros. Rip it up and start again Britain! On the downside, Amazon politely decline to sell me MP3s online from their store, even though I have offered to show my UK passport. Oh yes, and we are still waiting for the iPlayer to come here. Hurry up!

*Yes, thanks for asking, it was Planet Claire, by the excellent B-52s.

Even without 3-Jesus Phone, Apple busts revenue records

Thumb Up

Driven by ordinary folks moving to Mac?

Purely speculation on my part, but could upturn in sales be actually due to nicely designed, easy to use computers that satisfy customers? We have a Macbook in the office, and I am always pleasantly surprised by its total reliability, quietness, instant-start-up and long battery life.

Compared to my 8-month old hi-end Sony laptop which really should have been a delight to own, but is hobbled by Vista Business - which makes it slow, unpredictable, struggles to find wifi network, short on battery life... All the 'cool' features of Vista we turn off to give it some decent performance. Same goes for the other Vista machines we buy.

So this morning, I made a decision to start buying Macs from now on, and keep the PCs around for legacy apps. I think we'll save money on productivity uptime from not having to keep loading updates. Put it this way, I feel unconfortable about buying a new Vista-based PC at the moment.

Dangers of samples of one obviously, but I wonder how many other SMEs are going through same decisions? I don't feel so sorry for Microsoft, but I think the decent PC makers like Sony, HP, Tosh and Dell are being (possibly) unfairly hammered by the poor quality of Vista.