On Monday the US Government FDA forced the main home testing company 23andMe to stop selling its saliva genetics home testing kit. As this is their only product this means that they effectively shut down their operation.
Looking at Genes
The problem seems to be that the company is offering testing for gene mutations that may lead to rises in probability of contracting diseases. This is considered a medical test by the FDA, and so they require trials and results in order to see how well the tests work before they license them. 23AndMe have been unable or unwilling to provide such results, so cannot market their device unless they take away all of the medical arguments.
So what exactly is a smart meter? Brownie points need to go to whoever name it, as (unless it was named after a Mr Smart) the name is pretty self explanatory; a smart meter is a smarter version of your original gas and electricity meter.
So what makes it smart(er)? Well smart meters are going to put an end to estimated bills by feeding your energy usage directly back to your provider, removing the hassle of having to report your readings. This also means that there is no longer a need for someone to come around and read your meter.
Out with the old and in with the new once more. Last month it was Blockbusters, the global giant of video rentals, closing their last few doors for the last time in the USA, as they filed for bankruptcy. Technology has overtaken them, their model of offering films for rent is obsolete.
Many stores are closing
Even in the UK where I grew up there seemed to be one on every corner. I used to walk round of an evening and thumb through the Betamax section (my mum had Betamax, much better quality than VHS, not widely used in a domestic setting but still used today for broadcasting).
A couple of weeks ago I went to a science conference called S.NET here in Boston. On the first day a film called Fixed was shown, followed by a discussion with the Director. The film was about commonly held beliefs about ‘disability’, and technological ‘fixes’ seen through the eyes of a series of people who use these fixes or work in the field. See the film website here.
My first post on Technology Bloggers was about elective amputation, and in that post I wanted to raise the idea that people may choose to replace parts of their body for better functioning prosthetic devices. This may seem far fetched, but today the US military are a leader in pioneering eye surgery. They operate on pilots with perfect vision in order to make it even better, see this article for a brief overview.
I am a cyclist myself. I don’t have a car here in the USA, although I do have one sitting on the drive in Italy. The problem with cars is not only that they pollute but also getting stuck in traffic.
When I go out on my bike I know exactly how long it will take me to do my trip, presuming that I have done it before. So I can get to my music lessons in 25 minutes, or to the dentist in 20. If I take a car though sometimes it takes 10 minutes, but sometimes it takes half an hour or more, so I have to leave with ample time to adjust for these problems.
Oh and a million people a year are killed in cars, although biking is certainly no safer. What we need is an alternative, and today for you ladies and gentlemen (and third Gendered) I have started saving up for my answer and dream, a flying car.
I have just downloaded and taken a quick look at the new Mozilla add-on called Lightbeam.
I am an UBUNTU user myself, so I don’t know if this will work for other systems, but I would like you to help me decide if it’s an interesting tool either way.
I have always heard that companies share your information. So you go on one site and they share your habits with other organizations. Well Lightbeam shows you who they are sharing your information with.
One thing that I should say is that I do not know what the information they are sharing actually is. If anyone does know I would love to hear. So that is job number one for you down in the comments below.
It is often said that the Internet has democratized the world. Maybe not in terms of governance, as we all know various governmental organizations collect huge amounts of data about our web use, but in terms of information.
When I was a teacher I saw many students relying on Wikipedia for information. I do the same myself of course, but I am at least wary about the accuracy of the information. They were not, and were shocked when I suggested to them that maybe all that is written is not true.
One worrying aspect is that the more critical a person is the more they are likely to distrust newspaper and TV reporting. This leads to more trust being put into Internet communication. The younger the user the more likely they are to get their news and information through digital media, but the more likely they are to trust it too, and this has consequences.
EDITOR NOTE: This is Jonny’s 100th post From his humble beginnings writing about elective amputation, Jonny has taken Technology Bloggers by storm! Jonny started as a contributor, soon after earning himself author status and he has recently been awarded editor status. Congratulations and thank you from me and the rest of the community Jonny, you deserve it. Here is to the next 100! – note by Christopher