We have just days. The FCC is about to vote to end net neutrality—breaking the fundamental principle of the open Internet—and only an avalanche of calls to Congress can stop it.
A month ago, my husband and I officially entered parenthood and sleep is a long forgotten luxury that I sorely miss. Everyone keeps telling me it will return and I grin and nod while I mentally pull a face at them. I know that just knowing the torture will end, isn’t enough to make it hurt less when you’re in the throws of it. But they all mean well and speak from a place of kinship and understanding. And I realize it’s just my deprived brain lashing out because they got over this hump with their sanity intact and I question whether mine will be able to manage.
And they get a few hours of sleep….in a row….in their bed…..probably next to their significant other. But really no, I’m not too bitter. One day I will be that guy. I hope. I pray. I better be or I’m going to remind each and every one of them about having lied to me.
Using Tech Gear In Parenting
I think it’s known that I am apart of the Quantified Self movement and Decentralization. I’m not a huge fan of silo systems but I will use them under certain circumstances. I have been life logging for several years now, in various forms. Using various apps, programs, etc. My smart phone is basically a life logging machine that can text. So I was already logging everything during pregnancy and didn’t realize I’d be questioned so closely when we saw the pediatrician and consultants. I had the answers, such as how many diapers I had changed, how many bottles, etc. I just didn’t expect people to care or ask.
Anyway, I felt as if my prior life logging had been training me for this. I was so ready to log all the things. And for such purposes, I’ve been happily using FeedBaby. It let’s you record all the essentials, food, diapers, sleep, pumping, mood, notes, etc. It let’s you sync to multiple phones on the paid version. But the selling point for me was the export option, downloading the data as often as you like in csv format, on the free or paid version.
I’ve been using my normal life logging apps to track my food intake, pain levels, changes, etc. This has been helpful when discovering things such as her lactose issues, or being able to correlate my actions and how it affects her.
I think I’ve established how the first month of lack of sleep has felt, at least generally. We had everyone tell us to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and while this idea works in theory, doesn’t translate well for us. First, because we have a cat. A ten year old, spoiled cat who doesn’t much care for closed doors and will whine, scratch, and howl until he’s let into a room. This has been a problem for a long time and perhaps we should have tackled ridding him of this habit prior to our baby’s arrival but with dealing with other health issues that come along with pregnancy, neither of us had the time or patience to try. So if we want to try to sleep when the baby sleeps, we either have to have a second person in the room or risk our cat being in the room unsupervised.
Secondly, our baby doesn’t much care for sleeping in the bassinet. She tosses, grunts, flails, and at two weeks of age was managing to wiggle her way to the edge of the bassinet. We suspect it started with acid reflux that was making it uncomfortable to be flat on her back, but her wiggling made even propping her up, impossible. Oh, and swaddling? Ha. She ninja-ed her arms free in minutes no matter who swaddled her, and all the swaddle suits are made of fleece. It’s the middle of summer and I can only imagine a bulky fleece suit would get too hot.
The only way she would sleep was in the podster. Which isn’t recommended, but it allowed her to feel snuggled in while allowing her to move her limbs when she wanted, and elevated her just enough to make the reflux ease up. But because sleeping in a podster is dangerous; neither of us felt safe enough to try to sleep when she did.
Using the MonBaby monitor, while allowing me to feel safe enough to sleep when she does, is a pain to use. The app takes up a lot of resources on your phone, so if you have a slightly older phone (mine is a year old), it will drain your battery. Syncing is tricky to say the least, since it has to use bluetooth, you basically have to have the phone immediately next to the baby. As in a foot or two, max. Or it won’t see the device at all. Not to mention it’s not as simple as just ‘turning on an app’, it’s a bit of a tedious process of -don’t breathe, don’t move while it takes five minutes to sync to the device’. Or risk it not finding it at all and needing a phone reboot so you can try again. It’s basically a pain to turn it on. Also, as a side note: when it does confirm a sync, the button (that’s attached to your child only an inch from their face) flashes this extremely bright blue light, so if your child is a light sleeper, I recommend blocking that blinking with a hand.
Also, it only operates under the impression that your baby is a sound sleeper. If the baby moves too much in her sleep, the alarm goes off (too much movement). If you have to pick up your baby a few times after syncing the device because she keeps fighting going to sleep, the alarm goes off (it detects she’s not on her back), if you leave the room with baby to bounce her back to sleep, away from your -attached to the wall- phone, the alarm goes off (lost signal alert). Or it may just loose it’s bluetooth signal and go off randomly.
Oh, and while it’s nice that the device battery is standard, it was a bit annoying that by the time I actually got to use it, the battery was at 38% because there’s no way to turn it off and conserve it.
Now that I bashed the device, I will reiterate, that it is worth all the effort to get it to work, if I am desperate enough to try to sleep when she does. But take that with a grain of salt, considering my next point goes into how my husband and I have rearranged our sleep schedule to avoid doing just that.
My husband recently made a blog post, discussing his experiences with polyphasic sleep. Now, I am doing going full force into sleep scheduling, as he is. For instance, I am not taking any of the supplements he is, because 1) we don’t know the affects they have on the baby and 2) I am only trying biphasic sleep in the simplest terms and don’t feel I need the additional help.
He came up with a sleep schedule for both of us that works around my getting a core 5 hour block of sleep while working around his going back to work. And while this will likely work. I feel it will limit our time we get to spent together.
When we were taking shifts in the first two weeks, one of the biggest complaints we both had was sleeping opposite of the other. It felt isolating. And while this new schedule fixes that, it depends largely on his being at home on paternity leave. There’s going to be a huge chunk of time during the day that he won’t be. And we will get maybe two hours, but likely closer or less than one hour before he has to do his dusk sleep. Then I prep for my 5 hour block at night.
I’m also anxious how easily it will be for him to keep his schedule with the demands of work. His schedule relies on his being able to get a lunch break and being able to leave on time at night. While, ideal….may not work every time. There’s no way to predict a future problem that needs him to change his schedule. And my worry is how badly will that affect the remaining schedule.
Also, we expected Day 3 and Day 5 to be the worst in terms of not feeling rested. And boy was that correct. What I found interesting was that even I felt sluggish. Even though I feel my schedule is the least altered, I could still feel a difference.
He had two good days after that point but something that we didn’t see covered was how having a cold/flu affects the entire process. We both felt under the weather a few days ago, but thankfully I recovered quickly. I can’t say the same for him. And it’s completely thrown off his schedule. He can’t seem to feel well rested, no matter how many additional hours he gets. He had a 10 hour block yesterday during his morning sleep and still felt drained, achey, and completely worn down. And again this morning, although to a lesser degree. He’s basically having to start all over again because this threw him. Even with cold medicine and tons of vitamin C and sleeping until he wakes up naturally. But then attempting to stick to his next sleep block. And even though he’s sick right now, we both had noticed he felt well rested after his dusk sleep and drained after his morning sleep. But neither of us can figure out a way to replace that morning sleep or move it within the entire schedule.
It is concerning how easily his schedule can be thrown by illness and timing. And I’m sure it’s also affected by us entering this, already sleep deprived with high stress. And I doubt many have been drawn to this due to a newborn.
We know that her sleeping like this is a temporary situation and eventually she will sleep through the night and ‘hopefully’ in her bed. So this won’t be necessary forever, but if it works for us and actually benefits our habits, goals, and productivity; it’s well worth considering for the long term. It’s just been difficult getting to that point with hiccups in the system.
Image Property of Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Institute of Technology president Bill Destler announced on Monday that he is retiring at the end of the next school year.
In a statement, Destler said, “It has been a privilege to lead RIT alongside such great students, faculty and alumni.” He credited “RIT’s transformation into one of the world’s great universities to them.”
Destler, 69, also released a video with his wife, Rebecca Johnson, saying that he has mixed emotions about retiring and that his years at RIT have been the most fulfilling of his professional career.
“As we enter our final year, RIT cannot rest on its laurels,” said Destler in his video message.
When he retires at the end of June 2017, he will have served 10 years as president of RIT.
This is a pretty sad announcement. Our entire R.I.T. career was under Dr. Desler. Between his constantly upbeat attitude and how many major changes he made for the school, he will be missed as the President. There were a couple of things he did that the students weren’t on board with (the switch to semesters and the focus on traditional sports when RIT is a tech school) but ya know, he’s done a great job overall. He renovated so many parts of the school, so many new buildings and beautiful additions to the campus. Such as Global Village, the bookstore area, the new apartment complexes, the Alumni House, the several new schools. It’s just been amazing watching RIT go from being on the edge of the city, barely needing stop signs because of how low the traffic was, to such a major spot.
I know we left in 2014, but it’s still a sad moment. But life goes on and I’m sure he will have an amazing retirement. I will leave with one of his student favorite songs from his album he put out.
Ransomware, a vicious form of malware which locks up files, programs or even entire computer systems and prevents users from accessing them until a ransom is paid, has been a growing problem for all manner of consumers and businesses in recent years. One type of business that has been hit hard by ransomware attacks recently is hospitals. It’s no secret that the healthcare industry as a whole is vulnerable to all manner of security intrusions, as large-scale data breaches of health care companies like Anthem and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield have shown. However, you might be wondering what exactly it is that makes hospitals such easy targets for ransomware attacks — and what is being done to help improve security and lessen the chances of entire hospitals being taken virtual hostage by hackers.
Baby Wearables and Monitor Woes
So here we are, the Quantified Life movement hit a peak the past few years and out came a dozen new wearables for all walks of life. And thanks to crowdfunding, new indie companies have had the chance to try their hand at making wearables for things we would never have thought about.
I’ve been watching some wearables over the years, and sadly saw many put on hold or become abandoned entirely. It’s disappointing but a natural ebb and flow. For instance, I’ve been waiting over two years for TempDrop to finally come out with their device. They are still struggling with mass production and while it’s frustrating for me as a backer, it’s ironic how life goes on anyway without the help devices like these hopefully give you. Another device I would really have found useful this year is the Bella Beat Shell. As it’s the only pregnancy wearable advertised out there. But the last I spoke to them, they had no estimated development and release date.
But even though I’ve been watching the development of so many wearables, I had to step my game up a notch this year. There was no way around it, I had to make decisions. And one of the first struggles I found dealt with – Baby wearables. So what does that mean specifically? While, many of the wearables play similar roles, monitoring a baby’s breath, heart rate, and movement while sleeping. Which is a very appealing attribute for new parents who have to watch out for SIDS. Even though many pediatricians say these wearables are giving parents a false sense of security in preventing SIDS, they do encourage parents to use devices that help them, but to stay ever diligent and use all available prevention techniques currently in place.
And I do have to agree, the prospect of SIDS is a scary scary thought, and the idea of yet another device looking out and capable of alerting you when things don’t seem right, is a very comforting thought for parents. So while I understand the medical professions cautions, I don’t feel discouraged in trying out the devices, in addition to all other medical suggestions too.
So where does that leave me on my baby wearable search? Well, I had to come up with what I wanted out of a wearable. The above mentioned features, heart rate monitoring, breathing monitor, etc seem to be pretty standard among the several options available. And that’s not where I ran into problems. I think I’ve made my point clear up to this point that my end goal in wearables is to collect data.
I’ve used a fitness app and wearable to monitor my health habits for years now. (I recently switched from FitBit to AngelSensor and MyFitnessPal, MySymptoms, and Moves.) To see what I was doing over a period of time and see what surprises I might have discovered. And I found a lot of useful information. But I wouldn’t have been able to correlate my surprising discoveries if I hadn’t had access to the data to begin with. One of the first things I noticed was my severely poor guesstimate on many habits prior to using a wearable. I had previously thought I was doing one thing and found that I actually was doing something quite different. And this self-discovery has been consistent in my data collection. What it told me was that my judgement was not necessarily accurate. And had I not had the ability to reflect back on my collected data, I may never have discovered that.
So my point is, a huge reason for my wanting to use wearables, even for my own child, was to actually have access to the data the child created. So that I could evaluate it, our pediatrician could evaluate it and see what was not only normal for our child, but be able to catch any irregularities early.
So where’s the problem? There are a surprising number of baby wearables who do not allow the consumer access to the data the device captures.
I spoke to multiple different development teams and the second to most popular answer I received was ‘We’re working on it‘. The most popular answer was ‘We don’t have that as a current option.’ Now I’ll admit, this surprised me. It left me with questions. ‘What happens to the data then? Does your company store it? Is it stored in the phone and can I access it? Does it get erased after a set timeframe? Why wouldn’t this be something you offered?‘ To me it feels like a natural next step in the process of making a wearable. Give your consumers a way to visualize or at least view the very data they are creating. But I was clearly in the minority in thinking this. In this ‘SQUIRREL‘ culture, consumers tend to want immediately information with little regard for anything outside of the here and now. Or so that’s the impression I got from the direction so many developers took on prioritizing saving the data.
I’ve ended up spending months searching, talking with teams, and finally found….one…device (MonBaby) that has logging on their schedule and I am being given a chance to beta test it. Finally, something. It’s not the best case scenario and their due date for release will be cutting it dangerously close to when I will actually need to rely on it (barring no hiccups in their schedule.) But it’s the best I can hope for and cross my fingers they don’t run into any problems.
Now this isn’t the only smart device we plan to use for ourselves, I’ve already received my Pacif-I, a smart pacifier/thermometer. And BleepBleeps motion detectors and am on their wait list for the plethora of parenting devices they have planned. I just have to keep hoping that the good ideas that keep popping up don’t fade away like some of the original concepts I’ve seen. But you do feel a sense of accomplishment finding all these nifty gadgets and hold onto the hope of getting use out of them. But I won’t know for sure how effective and safe they are until we start to really use them.
Now another big issue we have run into is finding a good baby monitor. The monitors of yester-year are quite antiquated in comparison to what’s on the market today. Most baby monitors are glorified security cameras with phone or tablet access, so you can watch the video stream from anywhere. With added features of two-way talking through the monitor, playing music to help with sleep, and have a nice night vision option. You can control the monitor settings through the apps. Now on the surface, this sounds awesome. But the reality is that it’s been well known for many years in the security industry that these baby monitors have terrible security flaws. It’s been all over the news how the manufactures have spent very little time on securing the video and audio streams, opening up to anyone who wants to see, the video. There have even been cases of hackers abusing the audio stream, terrorizing the child or parent while watching the video stream.
I knew this going in. I had been keeping an eye on this problem for years and sadly none of the popular baby monitor makers have taken these known issues seriously or made changes to their devices to stop this from happening. So it left my husband and I very little options. We either risk it on a poorly secured standard baby monitor (and leave ourselves and our child open to strangers watching the stream), find an extremely basic radio based monitor and lose all the nice new features (and believe me, finding a radio signal monitor is extremely difficult to find in today’s world -we found all of one that seemed decent enough but too many reviews stated it stopped working after a couple of weeks of use), or look for indie or open source monitors that have a greater focus on security. Or the last option…..make a monitor ourselves.
My husband found what he would need in hardware to create the device, using Raspberry Pi and various open source options. But the options are either un-finished or very bare bones. And would require a lot of work. Something we aren’t necessarily opposed to, but not a realistic option in our time crunch. So while we have been keeping that in our back pocket, I’ve continued to hunt for pre-made devices from smaller companies or start-ups. Keeping an eye on Kickstarter and other crowd-funding projects, etc.
Recently I started tweaking my search, since I wasn’t getting anywhere. I started focusing on just security systems and monitors, since a security monitor and a baby monitor are very similar in build and use. And I was pleasantly surprised to find a few start-up security monitors that had a ‘baby monitor’ option.
I did find the Angel Care Monitor intriguing. It’s the only big company monitor that sounds like they take security seriously. But I can’t say whether they’ve eliminated the known problems, since I haven’t used it. I wasn’t thrilled about the Facebook and social media login option though. Whereas I understand people do like being able to share their saved memories from the device, it’s well known that social media sites data mine and we don’t know how much of the device information gets passed onto them.
Next, I saw the Withings Home Security Device. Now we use the Withings Scale and are pretty happy with it. I’ve had digital scales in the past and I was pleased with the tweaks that the Withings has made. It automatically senses which user is on the scale, takes weight, heart rate, and even tells you the weather. Although, like other digital scales, it’s sensitive to foot positioning, although not nearly as bad as my previous digital scale. And Withings automatically sends your data to the app. So there’s no manual syncing or picking which user account, etc. You just step on and go. So when I saw this Home Security option, I was intrigued. So having had a good experience with one of their products, I dug deeper on their Monitor.
Home also has an air quality feature, which is nice but I’d love it if it included a CO2 and Fire detector option. Although BirdI looks promising for those features in specific and makes them less necessary to be integrated in the home security device. Having said that, I have to say I’m fairly impressed with how they are handling the security issues. They actually have a full 39 page manual detailing how to protect privacy on the device. Which is way more than the other monitors have offered, which generally consists of one paragraph summarizing that they care about your security but don’t detail how they ensure it. This monitor also has specific modes you can pick, one of which being the Baby Monitor mode. Or you can completely turn the camera off. Now that leaves the question on how lightly it is for other users with the app and access to turn on/off the camera without you knowing. So as far as pre-made monitors, this Withings one has some good qualities and is the leading contender in our search so far.
Next I found a few Kickstarter funded ones, some are still in manufacturing and are only available via Pre-Order at this time. Which is slightly disappointing, as we will need them very likely before they are available, but are good to keep an eye on. Mainly; Angee – a security monitoring system with a little bit of AI personal assistant thrown in. Which peaked my interest to be honest. It doesn’t have a required monthly subscription like Canary. Although Canary does have additional features such as air quality and reports and is far cheaper. But Angee has a 10 hour battery life should the power go out. I also like their approach to security.
“We used an almost paranoid diligence protecting both static data (within the device) and dynamic data (communications). Our approach is to perceive the cloud in general as a potentially untrustworthy environment, and thus we`ve encrypted not only the communication between Angee and the cloud, but also the data stored in the cloud. For the encryption itself, the de facto industry standard — SSL — is used. So we use the same encryption framework as banks or the military.” Per the Angee website.
Although I would like a clearer answer from them on whether users can use private clouds/local networks for data storage rather than AWS through them.
Angee does also have the personal assistant options and integrates with other smart devices. It doesn’t sound like it’s as sophisticated as the Amazon Echo or the JIBO personal robot. But it does have an IFTTT support, so it could potentially become more detailed and personalized. But it’s not due to be open for order until October 2016.
So at this point, I’m still not sure which direction to go. There are a few good options but they each have their hiccups that give my husband and I pause to invest and see how it goes. We’ll still continue to search and research the options we have. But I wish I had a clear ‘this is the one‘ moment to give you. Sadly, I don’t.