Archive for Mobile

Is there an app for cancer?

The combination of terms, “games” and “cancer” seems incongruous to most. However, recent trends in health education and care are promoting games and online gaming as a means of encouraging patient engagement, support and learning even – or especially – in remote and rural areas.

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A notable contribution to this realm of serious gaming apps includes the introduction this year of iManageCancer, an online gaming and interactive monitoring module sponsored by the European Union. Young people especially can find social support and encouragement through this platform via their mobile phones, although the system is intended for all ages. The gaming components allow cancer patients to address the emotions surrounding their diagnosis and treatment. For instance, a game for children with cancer might involve the ability to “shoot” cancer cells, thus increasing the child’s sense of empowerment. In addition, a monitoring component which tracks therapeutic side effects among other things allows for individualized coping strategies for the patient while alerting the health care team to any serious physical or psychological reactions.

iManageCancer is still in the pilot phase according to company press releases. The hope is that if this project is successful, it can pave the way for apps for conditions where patient empowerment is key to successful management – which would include most conditions, right?

Keeping a Remote Eye on Things, (Fairly) Easily and (Fairly) Inexpensively

I had been mildly interested in wi-fi cameras and other minimal web-enabled security/automation items for a while-besides keeping a lookout while away, how much fun might it be to spy on the cat??  I had looked at Iris and Smarthome components when I was browsing the area DIY box stores.  A turn-key system had a lot more appeal, rather than building something from scratch. Iris looked the most intriguing, but the reviews at that time were mediocre and you had to pay a monthly fee to get the most out of it.

Then last fall Costco made me an offer I couldn’t refuse-a starter kit from Insteon that had the basics of what I needed, at a great price.  This kit included the network hub, a wi-fi camera, a couple of control switches for outlets, a motion detector, and a couple of open/close sensors.  I didn’t really want to be so connected that everything turned on and off as I left a room, adjusted the atmosphere, or cooked dinner for me while I was at work, and I didn’t want to have something with ongoing costs associated.  The reviews were decent, there is no ongoing fee,and so we were off.

The hub was quite easy to hook up to my home network,insteon4 and all the components connected effortlessly except the wi-fi camera.  Since you want to have more interaction with it and be able to view video, it is more complicated-more on that later.  Insteon has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows which allow you to control your devices and group them together in “scenes”, where they work together to accomplish a desired task.  There is a PC interface available as well.

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Multiple cameras can be added to the system.  If you don’t insteon3want your cameras to end up linked on one of those sites where you can click and see inside peoples’ houses, be sure and change all the passwords from the defaults.  Set up involves adding ports in your wireless router configuration, and if you want to have the highest level of remote control through the web, you can forward the port and establish a URL for your system.  This was the most involved part of the process for me, and some was trial and error.  After a few months using the system, I felt that the external URL wasn’t useful to me and I discontinued this option.

At this point, I am making the most use of the camera.  The camera can be set to send an alert upon sound and/or motion, and it can be scheduled to react at the times you desire.  It also has audio capability that can work in both directions.  I also like to have lamps on timers, and open/close sensors on remote doors and windows.  I haven’t really explored making a lot of scenes to this point, where components interact with each other. Insteon defines a “scene” as multiple devices responding to memorized states.  For example, a dinner time scene turns on the dining table light, dims the kitchen lights to 10%, backyard lights turn off and the thermostat adjusts to 72º. Since a component can be part of only one “scene”, I can’t have the same light go on at a certain time of day, and also be triggered by the motion sensor at night, for example, so there are some limitations.

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Insteon has an increasing variety of components you can add to your system, including locks, thermostats, LED light bulbs, wired wall switches, and outside cameras.  Several kits are available so you can choose a bundle that meets your needs.  You can tailor the system to be as simple or complex as meets your needs.  They are also working on increased interoperability with other systems, per this recent article on cnet.

The website has helpful videos and documentation, and I’ve read good reviews of the telephone support.

So if you are looking to dabble in home automation and security, without spending a fortune, Insteon lets you start small and add on as needed.  There is a lot of information available at insteon.com, and several helpful articles a cnet.com.

Have you tried Canva?

My favorite new tool is Canva, a graphic design tool that makes it super easy to create images for social media, flyers for sharing, and cards for printing. You can choose from free or $1.00 templates, photos, or icons to create images or PDF’s that you can download or save in your design stream.  Check out some of the images that I have created to publicize our Pet Therapy Study Break, Afternoon Tea, & other messages for Twitter and Facebook posts. One nice feature of Canva is that you can choose the size of your image to fit perfectly into posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram as well as headers for social media and email. Canva also offers helpful tutorials on design plus inspiration from cool designers to follow on Instagram. Join the over 2 million members on Canva and start creating your own super designs.

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Safe Pregnancy & Birth App for Remote Health Workers

Mobile health or “mHealth” applications featuring targeted text or video messages to frontline health workers and patients in resource-poor countries have had mixed success so far owing mostly to the limitations of the technology and economics in scaling up pilot projects. The mHIFA Working Group recently updated a review of existing projects, highlighting some of the more successful ones.

Foremost among them is the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app from Hesperian Health Guides. As judged by the Working Group’s criteria of “Significance of the Health Problem,” “Appropriateness of the Targeting,” “Value of the Information,” “Ease of Assimilation of the Information,” “Availability of the Application,” and “Technological Accessibility of the Application,” the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app provides short, easy to follow, step by step instructions (illustrated by simple drawings) of pregnancy and birth health issues.

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For example a lay birth attendant in a remote location can get simple instructions on how to check the baby’s position in the womb or non-medical techniques for strengthening labor.

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The app is freely downloadable to iPhones (or iPads and other Apple products) as well as Android devices. For now, the information is available only in English or Spanish, but the producers welcome offers to translate the information into other languages. The Working Group noted the app’s focus on action-oriented instructions and ease of navigation.

Mobile health applications are still proving their worth, but apps such as this one definitely help to make the case for continuing the effort.

Meet Browzine™ Turn your tablet into your e-reader!

Keep up to date with your scholarly reading with Browzine™, a new way of browsing and reading your favorite journals from many major publishers on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android Tablet or Android phone. BrowZine is free. All licensed content is provided via UAB Libraries.

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Get started in two EASY steps:

1.  Download the free Browzine app for your device.

2. When installed, choose University of Alabama at Birmingham as your university library. Use your Blazer ID/password when prompted.

Choose

Why use Browzine?

  • to scan the complete tables of contents of scholarly journals and read articles optimized for mobile devices
  •  to get one-click from journal tables of content to the PDFs of the articles you want to read
    • save specific articles for later reference and offline reading
    • create a bookshelf of your favorite journals for easy, fast access
  • to receive on screen notifications when new issues of your favorite journals are published

Other features:BrowZine_Article_Export_Options_iOS

  • Find journals by searching or browsing a title list, or by using a Browzine bookshelf chosen by subject.
  • Annotate or print articles by opening them in your favorite apps like Good Reader or iAnnotate.

Questions?

Pushbullet

Pushbullet is a great, free app designed to allow you to easily move items between your computer and mobile devices.

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As promised, it is very easy to get started:

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I downloaded the app to my iPhone and iPad and added the Chrome extension to my computer.  I logged in with my Gmail account and that was it.  I could then use the app on my mobile devices to push items such as photos, files, and links to my computer.  I sent a couple of things from home and when I got to work the next morning there was a pop-up on my computer with the information.  Computer does need to be on though, when I sent one over the holiday it didn’t go through and I couldn’t easily resend it.

I did the same thing from my computer, using the Pushbullet icon in Chrome and instantly pushed files or links from one to the other.

Now I do have other options for moving things between devices but this is so fast and easy I likely will never use the other options again.  As I don’t have an Android phone I don’t have all the options (yet) but still find this FREE app to be a great time saver.

There are also some great IFTTT recipes for Pushbullet.

Apparently this app has been around for a while, I just missed it somehow.  If you have been using it and have suggestions on how to make the most of it, let us know in the comments.

OurGroceries

When I heard that ZipList was closing down earlier this month, I panicked. As mentioned in my post about ZipList earlier this year, this is one of the top few apps I use on a daily basis. The discontinuation of this app comes at a very bad time of year, so I’ve quickly had to do my research to find a replacement! And since I raved about ZipList and may have even lead some to start using it themselves, I feel the need to direct you all to another shopping list solution!

After reading about and considering a few other shopping list apps (Shopper, GroceryIQ, Grocery Gadget, and others) I have ended up with OurGroceries. (Available for both iOS and Android as well as via most PC web browsers.)

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So far, am really liking it. As I confessed in my ZipList post, I am not a grocery shopper. I go only when I must. My role is the list maker; my husband’s role is the store-goer. So the ability to share shopping lists in real time, is key. I like to sneak one or two more items on the list while he’s actually at the store!

In addition to list sharing, other shopping list app features I require include the ability to:

  • sign up for an account without linking to Facebook. (This was the deal breaker for Shopper. I did not see a way to share my lists without registering with my Facebook login and like others, I’m still suspicious of “anonymous login.”)
  • make lists for multiple stores: Publix, Target, Home Depot, Beth, Bath, & Beyond, etc.
  • categorize items by type of product and/or aisle in store

I didn’t find myself using ZipList to search for recipes and then automatically add recipe ingredients to my shopping list, so for those who like the sound of that, OurGroceries is probably not for you. You can store recipe names and ingredients but must manually enter that information. There is no place to store the actual recipe instructions. To me, the recipe part of the app is pretty worthless. I guess just having a list of recipe names might be helpful if you’re at a loss for what to cook and need to skim a list.

Some features OurGroceries doesn’t have (or not yet) that some of the other similar apps have include barcode scanning, price tracking, coupon integration, and photos of products. For now at least, I’m enjoying the simplicity of OurGroceries.

There is a free version of OurGroceries, which includes ads. So far, the ads have not been too much of a nuisance to me. For $4.99 (in-app purchase), though, you can upgrade to OurGroceries+ and go ad-free.

Sickweather

In case you need another motivator to wash your hands frequently, try out the
Sickweather app! It scans social media sites for mentions of illness, maps the location of those reports in real time, and can send you alerts for reports close to you. Quickly and anonymously add reports of your own illnesses by clicking the + sign in the top right.

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Receive a daily Sickweather forecast for a heads up of the most common illnesses reported in your area. There’s even a 5-day radar that shows the illness hot spots across the country over the past 5 days. You can select what types of illnesses you want to know about, such as bronchitis, common cold, flu, norovirus, pink eye, RSV, stomach virus, strep throat, etc. (Ebola is not included in Sickweather’s list of illness.)

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Also, if you’re planning to travel, you can look up a city and see what illness have been reported most recently there.

I’m going to enjoy giving this app a try. I think it’s important to remind yourself that these are all self-reports of illness, however. While this app might be helpful for getting a general sense of how much people are talking about illnesses on social media (and thus may reflect what’s going around), there is no physician or CDC researcher reviewing these reports to confirm their accuracy!

HealthTap

“62,804 top doctors. No waiting room.” Sounds pretty interesting, huh? HealthTap has been around in a free form for several years, but I just recently heard about it on a tech segment of the local news. Via the HealthTap website, a healthcare consumer can enter a health topic and quickly access a list of patient questions with doctor-provided answers, as well as links to tips and topic information pages. For example, a search on multiple sclerosis (MS) brings back doctors’ answers to questions such as, Can I catch MS? If I have MS, how can I reduce the effects of an attack? What are the signs of MS?

HealthTap Consult AskThe HealthTap app requires you to create a personal account. To “personalize your experience,” you are guided through a series of pages to provide information about yourself: gender, location, three health topics of interest to you, etc. After that you can:

  • view a feed of targeted health information, much like a health-focused Facebook feed;
  • search by condition, symptoms, doctors, medications, or procedures;
  • enter a question, at which point you’re given the option to (a) (for a fee) consult a live doctor via video, phone, or chat, or (b) (for free) email a doctor anonymously if none of the provided links sufficiently answer your question; or
  • find doctor-created checklists.

The fee-based features of HealthTap were launched just last month as HealthTap Prime, which gives users (for a $99/month fee) access to unlimited medical advice via live video conference with participating physicians.

HealthTap also markets heavily to physicians, highlighting numerous benefits for doctors to offer services through the site and app. In fact, there is a separate HealthTap for U.S. Doctors app that allows physicians to, as one reviewer put it, “help people in [their] spare time.”

It’s no doubt the website and app are slick and user-friendly and the convenience of being able to video conference with a physician at any moment is enticing. I believe this company is onto something exciting. However, I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical of the service. I saw several typos in my browsing of physician answers, so I question the quality control and review process of the information provided. (I couldn’t find a description of their editorial process.) On their Additional Information page, they do address one of my initial concerns about the service by pointing out that virtual consults with HealthTap Prime physicians should not replace regular visits to primary care doctors. Which makes sense: your primary doctor knows your history and has access to your health records. Personally, based on what I saw on their website and app, I’m not yet ready to take a $99/month plunge. But what do you think?

The Emojli Network :) or :(

You’re either going to love this or really hate it.

A couple of guys from London, Matt Gray & Tom Scott, are getting ready to launch an all emoji social network for iOS called Emojli, which will make exclusive use of the emjoi keyboard on your mobile device.

All the posts will be made up of emoji–only emoji.  Even your username.

It’s certainly not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and not intended to be.  For those who get bent out of shape in thinking that texting and tweeting have ruined our ability to communicate in writing, Emojli isn’t that serious.

Emojli is like the Monty Python of Social Networks.  It will be silly.

They hope to make it available on iPhone sometime this month, and for Android soon after.

To reserve your username and watch their promo, click the image below.

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FYI: Before you enter in a username, be sure that you’re comfortable with it.  If you try a username and it hasn’t been taken, it’s yours.  And with over 250,000 two-image combinations still available, you can also waste, I mean spend, a lot of time trying to come up with something clever.

If you do decide to be a part of the big Emojli joke, look me up.  I’m timebomb

 

To add the Emoji keyboard to your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps.