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Last words on diabetes and software

Started as a rant on G+, then became too long and suited for a blog.

I do not understand why we can easily get people together with something like VideoLAN, but the moment when health is involved, the results are just horrible.

Projects either end up in “startuppy”, which want to keep things for themselves and by themselves, or we end up fractionated in tiny one-person-projects because every single glucometer is a different beast and nobody wants to talk with others.

Tonight I ended up in a half-fight with a project to which I came saying “I’ve started drafting an exchange format, because nobody has written one down, and the format I’ve seen you use is just terrible and when I told you, you haven’t replied” and the answer was “we’re working on something we want to standardize by talking with manufacturers.”

Their “we talk with these” projects are also something insane — one seem to be more like the idea of building a new device from scratch (great long term solution, terrible usefulness for people) and the other one is yet-another-build-your-own-cloud kind of solution that tells you to get Heroku or Azure with MongoDB to store your data. It also tells you to use a non-manufacturer-approved scanner for the sensors, which the comments point out can fry those sensors to begin with. (I should check whether that’s actually within ToS for Play Store.)

So you know what? I’m losing hope in FLOSS once again. Maybe I should just stop caring, give up this laptop for a new Microsoft Surface Pro, and keep my head away from FLOSS until I am ready for retirement, at which point I can probably just go and keep up with the reading.

I have tried reaching out to the people who have written other tools, like I posted before, but it looks like people are just not interested in discussing this — I did talk with a few people over email about some of the glucometers I dealt with, but that came to one person creating yet another project wanting to become a business, and two figuring out which original proprietary tools to use, because they do actually work.

So I guess you won’t be reading much about diabetes on my blog in the future, because I don’t particularly enjoy writing this for my sole use, and clearly that’s the only kind of usage these projects will ever get. Sharing seems to be considered deprecated.

Update 2021-11-18: clearly I changed my mind and kept working on glucometerutils even though I’m not working with any of the other “big” diabetes free software projects. I still think that some of them are irresponsible. More importantly, the project that was so ready to dismiss my contributions is gone.

Yes, their GitHub says that they moved to Gitlab and it looks like there’s even some movement about it this year (except it’s all in comments, not code)… but their domain expired last year and is now hosting a “hub” that is just a bunch of repurposed content for the sake of ad placement. Their API code that they were so proudly working with vendors on hasn’t been touched in four years, and of course there’s no running implementation of it.

I guess they failed at making it a startup. It’s sad that it has to come to something like this, but I guess I wasn’t far off that it was not a sustainable model.

Comments 6
  1. After heaving read “How To Win Friends And Influence People” recently, I’ve a pretty good idea why you could not convince the project to collaborate with you on an open exchange format… On the other hand, maybe they are just not the brightest bulbs in the box. I mean, they want to “standardize” the exchange format by “talking with manufacturers”. As if the manufacturers had anything to win by making the data interchangeable. What’s next – manufacturers of fitness trackers agree on an open standardized data format? Haha…Don’t let a few mules on the Internet deter you. You are clearly on to something. You own a vast array of different Glucometers by now and your curious mind gravitates to this problem again and again. The fact that good tools and an open data format for glucometers do not exist is not proof that they are not needed, just that nobody capable has taken the time to fill this gap yet. Maybe it’s like the successor for Subversion – in the end Linus had to do the grunt work himself…

  2. Funnily enough that’s book three in my current stack of things to read.But you hit the nail on the head: if you want to come up with a standard exchange format, you should most definitely ignore the manufacturers and come up with something that software uses, which is why my original idea was “draft something, propose it around”. Unfortunately the engagement models of these projects falls into either one-man shows, or startup business idea that will probably go nowhere.As for soldiering on, from one side I don’t think it’ll achieve nothing that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, given that, as I [said previously](… I would be hoping for someone else to do the data processing as I’m kind of terrible with that. It also is tricky unless there is an engagement of more people. I managed to clarify some points about the [Verio](… thanks to someone else having a similar glucometer and being able to give me a trace of their software talking to it.A lot of the details in the protocol I can’t even start guessing without having access to a trace of a different version, in particular the native unit of the device (mmol/l or mg/dl.) Which is why I was hoping for a more community-oriented engagement, but even xclaesse that I pinged on twitter more than a couple of times has not gotten back to me either there or by mail.

  3. To give some extra content, the main reason why I went to that particular project to point out my draft exchange format is that their *current* export has a number of mistakes in it. Not only it joins the value and the unit of the value into a single column (making it very hard to parse), but it uses US-style mm/dd/yyyy dates (and separate time.) Since when I pointed out these problems they have not replied, I came to them with my draft.*Now* that there is an actual format that would make sense, their answer was to get all defensive because they’ve been working (behind secret doors, I assume, given there is no draft or anything) on a “standard” for a year.I’m seriously disgusted if this is how FLOSS is behaving nowadays. Seriously so.

  4. I get having that itch, and yes I was diagnosed as Type 2 last year. All I can say is that I support your efforts, and I will help out any way I can. I’m not a coder, so other things will have to do.

  5. Dan, what could always be useful is, if you have a device and a Windows PC to get a trace of the software speaking with it, that’s always going to be useful, particularly if it’s a non-UK/IE device, as they would have a different unit than mine, so it would make sense to figure out where they store that information.But I’m afraid for now that would be the only things, beside trying to organize a proper community effort for diabetic FLOSS users, to override startuppy-projects like Glucosio and similar. And I’m not sure if I have the time to try even starting that 🙁

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