2020-01-17

Diabetes, and CGMs (Freestyle), non-diabetic using one!

I have been diabetic for a few years. My mum was too, since she had me, and we suspect this is what did my grandfather in (undiagnosed) to be honest. It is often hereditary.

I have often felt almost like some sort of fraud. I have insulin, as just taking tablets was not working, but the process is to review my HbA1c, maybe once a year, which is a test that sort of gives an average blood glucose over some months, which is not that good a "picture". But (having lost some weight) I am on a low daily dose of insulin now. That has advantages (one jab) and disadvantages (cannot adapt to changing circumstances easily). I have tablets too. It is "mild" compared to many people.

However, when I started losing weight, I also decided to buy, with my own money, at a cost of some £100+ a month, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It sticks on my arm and logs interstitial glucose levels and keeps a history. It has its quirks, like only 8 hours of data (and some times I try and sleep more than that!) so has to be scanned at least that often for a full picture. It is also maybe half an hour behind blood sugar levels, so I can feel hypo when it shows higher as it has not caught up.

However, I have found it hugely useful with managing my diabetes and diet. It is really good for making me aware of the wrong things to eat (basically sugar) and what I can eat in moderation and get away with in, and how much I can eat of something without getting away with it. This is mostly feedback of history rather than "am I really hypo now" which a blood test can do.

Sadly they are not cheap, but I feel they should be used more. They are normally only prescribed for people with severe diabetes, but I can see they should be really useful, even for people just trying to control it with diet. It is a shame they are not cheaper and prescribed more.

Recently I was able to see what a "normal person" is like on one of these. That said, it was rather odd. A friend of mine (who will, no doubt, read this blog) was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. So I gave her a CGM (and another as she knocked the first one off on a car door, FFS). She did not want to do the requested 8+ finger pricks a day, so my treat.

The thing is, having used the CGM, no way is she remotely diabetic. This is one day (with her permission)... Yes, charge that battery FFS!


Subsequent days I have seen are lower than that. She does not spike over 7 even when eating stuff she knows she should not.

For me this was really interesting as I did not know what a "normal", non-diabetic person looked like on a CGM, and now I do. It puts my graph to shame, and I am well controlled (apparently).

Like I say, I almost felt like a fraud, until I saw that, and I know I am nothing like that good. My diabetes is mild, under good control, but very real. I don't feel like a fraud any more, and even wonder if I need fast acting insulin doses when I eat as I can peak at 10 mmol/l, and occasionally more.

Interesting stuff.

P.S. As requested, here is one of mine, on a really good day... Most days I am peaking higher.


2020-01-05

New printer (Canon PRO-1000)

I have had, and used, many printers over time (for paper, not 3D).

Just off the top of my head :-

  • Simple line of pins impact dot matrix through ribbon - classic. I had a few of these.
  • Single "pin" with rotating roller behind paper to do dot matrix through ribbon - slow - prints one dot at a time moving up through the character, then the blade shaped head moves right to do next pixel one dot at a time.
  • Band printers - I did not own one, but used one - has all the letters on a band, and it is fascinating watching the line form as each letter is printed when it is over the right space, printing many in the line at a time, so the line of text sort of forms in seemingly random order in front of your eyes.
  • Daisy wheel, impact print through ribbon, but fun doing some graphics with a lot of full stops.
  • A spark based printer, single wire high drags at high speed across the paper for each row burning off a silvered surface of the paper, dot matrix - creates a black on silver text.
  • A spark jet printer, with a carbon rod in a glass tube making a spark to the paper and carrying carbon deposited on the page. Single glass tube moves at high speed back and forth over the paper. Like printing with pencil. I did my degree dissertation on that.
  • A variety of thermal printers on thermal paper - head the width of paper. Fades rather easily.
  • A variety of thermal transfer printers, transfer from film to normal paper, head the width of paper.
  • A variety of thermal transfer multi-colour ribbon printers for photo printing.
  • The plastic card printer we use at work, thermal transfer. Ive used two kinds of such printers.
  • Normal A4 laser printers, postscript
  • A3 laser printer, colour
  • Ink jet printer
  • Bubble jet printer
  • Oh, and pen plotters
Wow, I have had a lot of printers. I suspect I have missed some out even.

Actually, I left out that I have used manual, movable lead type printing machines and done typesetting using actual fonts of lead type characters. Genuine upper and lower "cases". That was a long time ago. I must be old.

The printer I have used for a long time is a wax based printer - originally Tektronix, but now bought by Xerox. I like them as they are not as messy as using toner and do solid colours really well. You just drop in these wax blocks to load the ink, neat and tidy. They are OK (ish) for photo print, but for colour letterheads (which is why we got them originally) they are really nice. I even print red wax seals to use with an embossing seal, and well, it was actually wax.

The office moved on to other laser printers some time ago, and my printer here finally started playing up (sheet feeder issues), so I have decided it is time for a new printer, and I thought it would be nice to get an ink jet type printer, but why not get one that can do photos...

What I eventually got was a Canon PRO-1000. It can have a stack of A4 plain paper for the normal use cases, but can also take a variety of sizes up to A2, and do impressive high resolution professional quality photo prints, edge to edge, on photo paper. It does pretty good photos even on plain paper.

So, yes, it will be used for simple A4 prints most of the time. These days I print quite low volumes, and can alway use printers at work for printing something with a lot of pages. It also has separately replaceable ink cartridges, which I prefer. However, there have been occasions where we do want to print bigger than A4, mainly for circuit drawings, etc.

But yes, I can print really nice photographs now. This is printing an A2 map on plain paper.


I did consider getting the wider models, they can do roll based prints up to A0, or even bigger. You can print proper posters for adverts and the like. But no way it would fit in the man-cave sensibly. I was also not sure if it would do the simple A4 plain paper as easily. The PRO-1000 seems a good compromise. The print quality really is rather impressive and having the option of large prints is nice.

2020-01-02

EICAR test QR

It seems there is something of a standard test string for anti virus (wikipedia has more on this).

The idea is that systems that look for viruses will have this string loaded as a signature of a valid virus, and so react as such. This allows you to test virus checking systems without an actual virus being used. Obviously some systems may flag as "test virus" or some such, and some may not have this "standard" string.

The string is :-
X5O!P%@AP[4\PZX54(P^)7CC)7}$EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!$H+H*
So far, so good, but what people are doing (see tweet) is putting that in a QR code, e.g. this (feel free to copy this image).


[note the white space around the image is part of the QR code spec]

And then sticking it on a car, or a hoody, etc..

The result is that some systems that happen to log the content of QR codes they see, e.g. on CCTV and the like, promptly trip their virus detection systems. Ooops.


Of course this does raise questions of whether this could count as Computer Misuse, but then should such systems be reading QR codes off a hoody anyway?

P.S. My QR code generator is on GitHub if you want... It seems to be more efficient than most (though no advantage for this particular case), and has a lot of options (png, svg, text, binary, eps, ps, hex, data URL). Have fun.

2020-01-01

0

It is funny how we like to see numbers clock over, whether a simple anniversary or birthday, or the odometer on a car, or even years.

Until the year 2000 I do not recall anyone having any issue with the common way decades were numbered. The '20s were 1920-1929 (inclusive), and so on. No issue, no doubt, no confusion. Sadly the year 2000, being a change of millennium, caused many to say "technically the new millennium does not start until 2001 as there was no year 0". This is one rare cases where I err aware from "technically correct" for a change, and even question if it is technically correct. The years are projected back from a more recently invented calendar and indeed go from 1BC to 1AD in one calendar. So on that basis, yes, a millennium starting at the start of 1AD means a new one in 2001. But why consider the start 1AD not 1BC? All evidence suggests that was not when Jesus was born, if he existed, so you should probably consider the third millennium starting maybe spring 2004 [citation needed]. You are picking an arbitrary start point - why?

However, it depends which calendar you pick obviously. We use the Gregorian calendar, but other calendars (e.g. astronomical) do have a year 0 and otherwise align with the Gregorian calendar (for current years). So one can be "technically correct" and still have a new millennium starting at the start of 2000 without any difficulty.

My point all along was that the only reason to consider the change of millennium as "special" in any way is the base 10 numbering that we use, and that a clocking round of 1000 years happens very rarely (oddly enough, every 1000 years), and so the only logical point to consider "special" is when the year number "clocks round" 1999 to 2000. If you are not doing it then, then why even consider 1000 special, why not consider multiples of 324.6 years as "special"?

I had thought this was all old news, but, to my surprise, I see people even now on social media saying the next decade does not start until 2021 as "there wasn't a year 0", continuing this nonsense. Sorry, but (Gregorian) decades only make sense as "special" if you consider them to be the years ending 0 to 9 (inclusive), end of story. So if anyone says otherwise just say you are using the astronomical calendar which does have a year 0, and see how they cope with that. Good luck.

But this may also help (thanks to xkcd)


P.S. this was raging on twitter later in the day on the 1st, and someone even posted that "At age 21 you start your third decade", LOL. No, 1st is 0-9, 2nd is 10-19, and 3rd is 20-29. Anyway, for those insisting "it" starts in 2021, point out that what "it" is, in that case, is "the 203rd decade of the Gregorian calendar" and not "the '20s". The '20s start in 2020, end of story.

P.P.S. a reminder that it is '20s, and not 20's, unless you are using a possessive, like "The '20's greatest hits".



Anyway, on a more amusing note, it seems Bulb may have finally fixed my account so I can submit a meter reading (they have been messed up since I signed up for no apparent reason, and just emailed me to say fixed). Yay, so a meter reading is needed.

I was about to submit one, on 31st Dec, and noticed it was close... very close...

This has resulted in my spending many hours on the 31st Dec, turning on extra high power kit in the house for a while, and even running the tumble drier, wasting many pence worth of electricity in order to get this picture (well, maybe not wasting as it means gas heating needs less power as house is warmer)...


It is a thing of beauty, is it not?

To my surprise Bulb had no problem with my submitting the meter reading of 00000.

All the "there was not a year 0" people would say I should not consider my meter to have rolled over until 00003 (or whatever it was when first installed).



There is one clock I'd rather not reach 0 though :-