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Thanks for stopping by. My name is John Patrick and Attitude LLC is the name of my company. My activities include writing, speaking, and board service. I am fortunate to have quite a few affiliations and I get to work with Net Attitude people from whom I am constantly learning. Prior to “e-tirement”, I was vice president of Internet Technology at IBM Corporation. Nearly everything I have ever said or written is here at patrickWeb or in my book, Net Attitude. As of today, the patrickWeb blog contains 1,438 posts. I hope you enjoy reading some of them. Get the email version of patrickWeb if you prefer. Find me on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Follow me on twitter. You can also find me in Wikipedia.

Health Attitude is Coming

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Healthcare icon

Health Attitude is coming soon! No one is happy about the American healthcare system. Millions have no health insurance. Millions more have it but cannot afford it. Primary care physicians feel over worked. Specialist physicians feel the payers are squeezing them. Hospitals are under huge pressure from Medicare to lower their costs and improve their quality of outcomes. Tax payers are not happy about the increase in their taxes to support the healthcare system. Thousands of people die each year because of errors in the healthcare delivery system. The list goes on. The topic is complex and there is no simple solution, but there are multiple solutions, and good things are underway. Health Attitude will unravel the mysteries of healthcare, make the problems understandable and, more important, will make the solutions understandable. It all revolves around attitude. Consumers need to take more responsibility for their health. Physicians need to put the consumer in the center of health care. Hospitals need to do a better job of coordinating care across the community. Political leaders need to focus more on the needs of citizens and a bit less on the wants of health insurance companies and big pharma.

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Password Hell

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Key in Lock

I had put off the task long enough — it was time to clean up my passwords. I began using the Internet in the early 1990s and started to accumulate web logins and passwords. The first site I recall using was Weather Underground, which went live in 1993. As of August 2014, when I embarked on my cleanup project, I had more than 600 logins and passwords. I use 1Password to store these credentials — it is a truly great piece of software. The app runs nicely on the Mac, iPhone, MacBook, and iPad. The password database is securely stored in Dropbox and kept in sync for use on any of the devices. 1Password doesn’t just store your ids and passwords and automatically log you in to the corresponding website, it also provides a real-time analysis of the quality of your passwords. It shows how many are duplicates — not a good idea because if someone breaks into a site and gets your password, they could be able to use it at other sites. 1Password shows you how many of your sites are vulnerable to heartbleed, a serious security vulnerability, and it shows you which of your passwords are weak, how many are 3 years old, and how many are one-to-three years old. I confess my profile was not pretty.

I embarked on the cleanup project, and it took a chunk of my summer. I had several goals. First was to eliminate passwords for sites I no longer use or that no longer exist. Some sites were defunct, some had been acquired. I emailed sites and asked them to delete my account. Most sites responded quickly to the requests. The second goal was to eliminate any duplicate passwords, of which I confess I had many. It seemed like a good idea way back but clearly is no longer appropriate. The third goal was to make my passwords un-rememerable. I decided that a good password would be 20 characters long, contain upper and lower case letters, 3 special characters, and 3 digits. An example would be MRbUJ,6t4uz,>6FsaPmJ. Fortunately, 1Password can remember such a password. I used to know all my passwords, and now I can’t remember any of them. Any human or software would have a tough time guessing them.

The project was quite revealing about the many websites that I use. Most sites allowed the 20 character password with upper case, lower case, 3 digits, and 3 of any special character. Some sites had hard to believe password policies. Following are some examples of what I encountered.

bullet Most all sites require that you enter your password twice to make sure you get it right. A copy from 1Password and then a paste makes this quite easy. However, TurboTax, Costco, and Quest Diagnostics require you to type in the second field. I cannot think of a rationale for such a policy.
bullet Woodbury Products requires you to buy something before you can login. Their IT department said they outsourced their website and they don’t know anything about it.
bullet My bank limits your password to 8 numbers and letters with no special characters. You would think all banks would love long ugly passwords
bullet The security monitoring company at my house allows no special characters.
bullet 1Password generates long ugly passwords for you and you can easily configure how many special characters and numbers you want. The New York Times and a number of other sites allow only periods, underscores, or hyphens. This is the worst password policies.
bullet JC Penney does not allow special characters, but did not say so in their rules
bullet Southwest Airlines: no special characters
bullet CVS accepts up to a password length of 25 characters, but you have to type it in: twice
bullet Surprising that some very sophisticated organizations such as the World Community Grid allowed maximum password length of 15 and no special characters.
bullet BestWestern Hotels sends your password in the clear, and there is no way to change it.
bullet PC Magazine site is cluttered with so much advertising that no password link could be found. It took multiple emails and days to connect with them.
bullet Progressive Insurance does not allow customers to change their password online. You have to fill out an online form to get password reset instructions.
bullet Stop and Shop asks for a secret question but then truncates your answer to 16 characters without telling you so it would never work.
bullet A number of sites require you to enter your password to change your password. This is after you have already logged in.
bullet WSJ requires you to enter your secret question answer before you can change your password. Secret questions are a farce. The classic one is your mother’s maiden name. Do you enter mary jones, Mary Jones, Mary M. Jones, Mary M Jones, etc.? You answer a question and then a year later you have to remember if you used upper or lower case.
bullet Microsoft says minimum length is 8, but they don’t tell you the maximum length is 16. They do accept all special symbols.
bullet AT&T.com finally introduced the idea of allowing a user to have the same login credentials for both your wired and wireless accounts. They introduced the idea of having one set of credentials for one company as though it is a breakthrough. The site requires the secret questions from a short list of their (not your) favorite questions. One of them was “Who was your first employer?”. My answer was ibm. “Invalid answer. It must have at least four characters”. Duh. So much for people whose first job was at IBM, GM, ABC, AOL, NBC, FOX, or ATT. And, your favorite color can’t be red. What were they thinking?

At the end of the project, my password database went from 627 to 354, and they are mostly long and not rememberable. Using 1Password on the iPhone is great. The app opens with your Touch ID fingerprint and then you simply copy the desired password. The interface is elegant. As I finish this post, I note that 1Password shows that I have 14 passwords that need attention, so the project is never over. Investing a small amount of time on a regular basis is a good investment of time for security’s sake.

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iPhone 6 Plus- Initial Review

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Mobile phone

The iPhone 6 Plus finished the journey from from ZhengZhou, China to Incheon, Korea; Anchorage; Louisville, Jamaica, NY; Windsor Locks, CT; Brookfield, CT; and on to my home in Ridgefield for an 11 am delivery. As usual with Apple products, the setup was a breeze. I took it out of the box, turned it on, went through the simple setup, and then gave it time to load 150+ apps that I had on the iPhone 5S plus gigabytes of pictures and music.

The next thing I experienced was that the iPhone 6+ rang with a default ring tone. Apparently there was a bug in iOS 8.0 that caused ring tones not to sync. I have one that I had purchased way back, but now can’t find it anywhere. It is time for a new one anyway! I answered the phone and it was working perfectly. All the data and settings were exactly where they were minutes earlier on the 5S. I reset the 5S to factory settings and set it up as a hand-me-down to my wife. That process went smoothly except for the phone part of the iPhone. It turns out that the SIM card in her iPhone 4 will not fit in the 5S, so we have to wait for a new SIM card that AT&T shipped to us. I was able to get an exception from AT&T to unlock the iPhone 4 even though the contract wasn’t quite up. They took pity on me for having taken a two year contract on a used iPhone 4, which my wife insisted was plenty good enough for her. She would have taken an iPhone 3 if they had any. The final step is to ship the iPhone 4 to Gazelle. We got $50 plus a $10 early-bird bonus plus a $3 bonus for taking the $63 as a credit on Amazon. The contract thing is not pleasant. This time I upgraded using the Next plan from AT&T. It is basically an installment payment plan with the full purchase price of $849 of the 6+ spread out over 20 months with zero interest. That means I can upgrade to an iPhone 7 in 20 months with no contract penalty.

The iPhone 6 Plus is all that I had hoped for and more. Fast, thin, slick, large screen, and brilliant graphics. Some people may find the size too large, but I find it just right. You can do almost anything on the 5S, but the screen size makes some things laborious or tedious. With the 6 Plus, the difference is dramatic. As I re-use my apps, I find each a great experience. I think of the 6+ as an optimum iPhone size. It is not a mini iPad mini. As for bendgate, the testing has been completed and the results are in –it takes 70 to 90 pounds to bend the new iPhones. My recommendation on this issue is simple: do not sit on your new iPhone.

The only glitch in setting up the iPhone 6 Plus or selling the iPhone 4 were with — you guessed it — AT&T.  I really think they are trying hard, but they are a long way from great customer support.  My iPhone uses an AT&T Microcell on the kitchen counter because the AT&T tower signal is not very good where I live.  The new iPhone has a different electronic serial number, so it is not surprising that the Microcell would have to be updated.  You would think that would be easy using their otherwise nice Microcell management page. You can easily add or delete other AT&T phones that you authorize to use your Microcell.  However, you can’t remove or change your own!  I had the same problem one year ago when I got the 5S. They said then that they were working on a fix — that was a year ago. The Microcell uses 3G technology. LTE has been out there since at least 2012. Apple adopted it quickly into its products, but the owner of LTE, has yet to do so.

Everything I have learned from the prior six iPhones is still applicable on the iPhone 6+, and iOS 8 adds a lot more.  Using an iPhone keeps getting easier.  The hardware is better than ever — thinner, lighter, and a joy to hold.  It would be a shame to put a cover over the beautiful aluminum and glass device.  The speed is stunning  — it is truly a personal supercomputer. The new Health app is profound for healthcare. I am writing about it in my new book, Health Attitude. Stay tuned. That’s it for now.  I am really enjoying the new iPhone.

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iPhone 6 Plus – Part 3

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Mobile phoneThe iPhone 6 Plus made it to Windsor Locks, CT this evening. Looks like there will be an on-time delivery sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, there is quite a bit of chatter about the bending of iPhones. Hard to tell if this is real or acts of photoshop. It it is real, then my thoughts are that the iPhone is unbendable under all but extreme situations. People should not sit on their iPhones. If they have beyond normal physical demands for their iPhone, then there are many iPhone cases available to offer protection.

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iPhone 6 Plus

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Mobile phoneThe first pleasure of each iPhone is to watch the logistical system in action.  I ordered the iPhone 6 Plus at four AM on September 12.  It shipped from ZhengZhou, China eight days later, and then moved today to Incheon, Korea. I’ll post the subsequent moves during the week. I am looking forward to holding the Plus. I had made a paper mockup with the Plus dimensions before deciding that the larger size is what I want. I convinced myself that the Plus would become the new normal for smartphones. Hopefully, the experience will not disappoint. Stay tuned.

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Apple – Another Successful Keynote

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Apple

As usual, the Apple Keynote to introduce the Apple Watch and two new iPhones, was done with great marketing aplomb. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them works every time. Apple has it down pat. Dan Frommer over at Quartz, believes that Apple Keynotes, made not of aluminum and glass, but rather of words and pictures, are “among Apple’s most successful products”.

Also as usual, the many financial analysts are missing the point of the new products. They seem to be focused on whether the profit margin next week will be 38.1% or 38.6%. Nothing can go straight up to the moon–as we learned from Sun, Cisco, Microsoft, and many others–but Apple still has a long way up, in my opinion. The reason is not the profit margin, although surely they will remain quite profitable. The point is that they make their products easy to use, cherished by users, and they provide great customer support. Whenever I have an occasion to talk to Apple customer support, I get the feeling they really cared about my questions. One time a support rep did not know the answer to my question,and they immediately asked if I would mind if they got a colleague with more experience on the particular question to take over the call. Can you even imagine an AT&T support rep doing that?

The point about ease of use is profound. The financial analysts don’t seem to get the seamless integration that Apple offers. You take a picture with your iPhone and then you pick up your iPad to look at it. Or you visit iCloud.com to look at it. Or on your Mac. Or your friend or family member can look at it in the Photo Stream you have shared with them in iCloud. You can text a friend from your iPhone and then when you get back home to your Mac, you can continue the dialog from the desktop or on your iPad. None of these things requires knowing much. As Steve Jobs used to say, “it just works”.

The new iPhones are going to be a big hit, especially the 6 Plus. I made a mockup of the 6 and 6 Plus, compared the size to my 5S, and held the mockup in my hand to get an idea of how large it will feel. I think there is a perception that the 5.5 inch screen is too big. Some people have said the 6 Plus was an iPad mini minus. I don’t think so. People are ready for a larger screen and I think Apple nailed the optimum size with the 6 Plus. The iPhone got hundreds of millions of us hooked on the the ease-of-use of the iPhone. As we did more and more things on the iPhone, we realized that you can do just about anything on the iPhone, but a larger screen will make it easier to do those things.

The near field communication (NFC) technology in the new devices is going to enable us to pay for things without the security exposure of handing over a mag-stripe credit card. There are many skeptics about Apple Pay, but I believe it will take off. I use my iPhone to pay for coffee at Starbucks, as do many. It is very convenient. The new Apple products will extend that convenience and security at millions of retailers around the world. The credit card companies are happy because they don’t have any additional fees and the NFC approach will reduce fraud. The issuing banks will pay a small fee to Apple, but they believe they will more than make up for that with expanded e-commerce that will take place. The only thing that disappointed me in the keynote was no mention of bitcoin. I continue to believe that the major retailers will end up accepting bitcoin. I would be surprised if Apple doesn’t have some contingency plans to be able to add bitcoin support to Apple Pay.

I can’t wait to get my hands on an Apple Watch. The skeptics see the iPhone and Apple Watch as creating confusion, but they forget that all Apple devices will be part of iCloud. That means you can read a headline on the watch and then read the full story on the iPhone or iPad. Content that is on one device is on all devices. In addition to the technology features of the Apple Watch, the fashion design and many choices of bands, colors, and style will make the watch have broad appeal. I think it will be huge.

Again, no company can grow to the moon, but it is quite conceivable to me, based on this latest set of announcements, that Apple will be the first company to achieve a market capitalization of one trillion dollars.

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Resy on Bitcoin

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Waiter in restaurant

I don’t know what the ultimate number of mobile apps may be, but there is no end in sight to the stream of innovation. I’ll have much more to say about mHealth apps (a key topic in my new book) soon, but the app I want to comment on today is Resy. The problem Resy aims to solve is getting a reservation at a great restaurant at a great time. There are many great restaurants, but getting a reservation at some can take a month or more. At others, you can get a reservation at 5:00 or 10:00, but not the prime time you want. Resy has partnered with a number of great restaurants in New York to carve out an allocation of prime times, say 7:00, and will offer them for a fee ranging from $10 (Tuesday) to $25 (Saturday) per person. Not exactly cheap, but for people wanting a last minute reservation at a great spot at a great time, perhaps it will be seen as a bargain.

What I like about Resy is that they will be accepting bitcoin payments from customers via their Coinbase wallet. As noted here before, credit cards were not designed for the Internet. The bitcoin infrastructure is just like the Internet. I don’t know the details of Apple’s mobile payment announcements may be, but I am sure they will include bitcoin at some point. Hopefully, the major credit card companies have not made their arrangement with Apple exclusive to them and excluding bitcoin. I’ll bet that Apple is too smart for that. Coinbase is on a roll, and I forsee a major explosion in mobile payment apps with bitcoin. The young developers at the startups think this is a natural thing to do. Me too.

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Molecular-level Health Testing for the iPhone

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Stickman with smartphone

With the power of a supercomputer, the iPhone is going to be the host for a wide range of healthcare-related consumer devices and related apps. The latest comes from a San Diego startup named Cue. The company has developed a compact consumer-oriented device that can detect five biological conditions at a molecular level. This is not a fitness tracker. To the contrary, the compact and simplistic looking device is a mini-laboratory that has been years in the making. With a simple nasal swab and insertion into the Cue device, the biological data is transferred to your iPhone and then compared with data from the Cue cloud to determine recommended dietary or other actions (see Cue health tracker brings molecular-level testing to iOS).

When Cue launches next year, it will have five tests available :

  • Inflammation
    The cue can detect the level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a commonly used marker of inflammation. Based on the level of the CRP, a consumer may get suggestions on how to optimize workouts, recovery, and a healthy heart.
  • Vitamin D
    Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin”, is a hormone produced by the body when the skin absorbs sunlight. Cue suggestions might include spending more or less time in the sun to achieve well-balanced health.
  • Fertility
    Cue says that tracking the detected level of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is the best tool to determine the ideal time to conceive a child. The device helps you track the LH level as an indicator of fertility trends, and Cue can recommend food choices that are claimed to support fertility. Cue will provide alerts when LH is at an optimum time for conception.
  • Influenza
    Cue detection of flu can enable getting an early warning that can enable you to see a doctor early and get an appropriate treatment started.
  • Testosterone
    Testosterone is a hormone that is essential for health and well-being as well as the prevention of osteoporosis. Cue claims its recommendations can help you plan exercise, training, and diet that can boost your natural testosterone levels.

The Cue device is expected to retail for $300 next year. It is considered a “consumer health product” at this stage, but the company is hoping for an FDA approval to enable the device to join the growing list of consumer medical devices.

EndNotes

1 Bassil, Nazem, Saad Alkaade, and John E Morley. “The Benefits and Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy: A Review.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management 5 (2009): 427-48.

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Sequencing the Genome of An Unborn Baby

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Genome

Beginning in 1990, more than 200 scientists collaborated on a $3-billion project to sequence the roughly 3 billion bases of human DNA. Between 2002 and 2008 the cost to perform the sequencing gradually declined from $100 million to $10 million. The introduction of next generation sequencing technology in 2008 led to a plummeting of the cost over the six years until now, bringing the cost down to a few thousand dollars. See Falling Fast for a comparison of the price drop to Moore’s Law.

Does this mean all of us will be sequencing our genomes? Yes, that is likely, and some will push the envelope even further. Razib Khan decided to sequence the genome of his unborn son, who was later born in early June in California (see How a Geneticist Sequenced His Unborn Son’s Genome, Using Do-It-Yourself Biology Tools). Khan believes our genetic data, and that of our unborn children, belong to us. Physicians and policymakers will not necessarily agree, and many debates will be ignited in the months and years ahead.

Khan said his son turned out to be a “normal kid”. He used publicly available analytics tools to study the 43 gigabytes about his unborn son’s genome. Fortunately, he found nothing alarming or even unusual. But, what if he had found some disturbing news such as that his son would be born with some disability or with a likelihood of some future fatal disease? What actions would he and his wife then decide to take and what ethical issues would arise. I don’t think we know even a small fraction of the issues ahead. However, some things are for certain. The price of sequencing will continue to decline and the availability of big data about us and our children will be commonplace.

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