Future of Android? Take 2

A week ago, I discussed the Future of Android and felt that one thing that will come to haunt Google will be the fragmentation of the OS, which will be difficult to correct because each OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) will tweak it differently to make it distinct in the market flooding with Android handsets, and also that this will make it difficult to upgrade to the latest version of the OS.

Well, Dell has just come out with its first handset, the Aero. It runs on version 1.5, which is 16 months old and four versions behind the current Android OS, 2.2. It is the “The ultimate example of Android’s flaws,” says Bill Snyder; “Dell’s new Aero shows yet again that the fragmented Android platform is broken and the carriers still rule idiotically“.

The venerated non-Apple blog, PC World, gives “3 Reasons to Avoid it“. Besides it being a mediocre hardware and being on AT&T, the third reason is that it has “Really Old Software“. It explains that “Dell has customized heavily the user interface on the Aero, something that would delay the company significantly if it ever decides to give Aero users a software update to the latest version of Android. Because of the old software on the Aero, many applications from the Android Market won’t be compatible with the phone, as they require 2.X version of Android, so you would be stuck with a limited selection of software add-ons to your Aero“.

Dell is not alone with this problem. Motorola has recently unveiled a successor to its Droid, the Droid X. However, in another article, PC World believes that the “Motorola’s Android 2.2 Rollout [is] a mess“, which “…is becoming an exercise in frustration“. The reasons are similar: fragmentation, and uncertainty as to when it will have a full functioning Android 2.2. Ken Segall has made a summary of this article:

• The first Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgrades to Droid failed to deliver Flash. An upgrade to the upgrade will shortly fix that.
• The overseas Droid (called Milestone) gets Froyo in late Q4, but only in Europe and Korea. Froyo is “under evaluation” for Canada, Latin America and Mexico.
• Motorola phones with pre-2.1 versions of Android won’t get Froyo anytime soon.
• The Motorola Cliq, Cliq XT and Backflip are waiting for Android 2.1, but the Devour won’t get it.
• Owners of the Droid Incredible are still waiting for their upgrade.
• The brand-spanking-new Dell Streak was delivered with Android 1.6 and won’t get an upgrade till the end of the year.
• Samsung Galaxy phones are expected to get Froyo, but no one knows when.
• The only company to “ace” the Froyo launch was … Google. Nexus One users got their upgrades back at the end of June.

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I have no doubt that the Android OS will soon become, and remain, the dominant OS. As I showed in my last article, it will populate the plethora of handsets manufactured by a number of OEMs who will fight with each other the on remaining slice of the profit pie left over by Apple and RIM.

Android is the Windows Mobile of the coming decade.

iPhones at Target?

Well, old ones.

Target has started a program where you can trade-in your old iPhone.

Apple fanboy’s dream car?

Don’t compute and drive

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Of course, if you can afford this Mercedes-Benz S600, you must be having a chauffeur. To order, contact ZerCustoms.

The appleblog.com gives the details: “Each car comes packed to the gills with outstanding multimedia capabilities, including two iPads in the rear seats with matching Bluetooth keyboards for each. The iPads are capable of controlling every aspect of the S600′s COMAND system, including the radio, navigation system and telephone, in addition to BRABUS’ own custom multimedia functions. Don’t think you’ll be limited to offline or 3G use, either, because the car boasts its own wireless internet via UMTS and HSDPA connections.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a Mac mini in the back seat that uses a drop-down 15.2-inch TFT display, Magic Mouse and USB 2.0 ports accessible to both passengers for real computing power. Finally, because you wouldn’t want to use iTunes on the Mac mini or the iPod apps on your two iPads, there’s a 64GB iPod touch in the center console that also controls the whole shebang using a custom BRABUS iOS application“.

More pictures to whet your appetite for this baby:

What Is It About 20-Somethings?

Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up? Read this if you want to know the answer.

BEWARE, it is a 10-page article in the NY Times Magazine; take this exercise when you have some time to spare.

BTW, the link was email to me by my daughter; she’s 22!

California joins ‘progressive’ Iowa?

The Federal District Court in San Francisco has overturned the same-sex marriage ban in California*, deeming it unconstitutional.

However, the chief judge, Vaughn R. Walker, “…immediately stayed his own decision, pending appeals by proponents of Proposition 8, who seem confident that higher courts would hear and favor their position”. Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have filed briefs to allow such marriages to take place now.

Indeed, this case is destined for the Supreme Court, and it is apparent that Justice Walker has sensed it as well. “…appeals court judges and the justices at the highest court in the land could find themselves boxed in by the careful logic and structure of [his] opinion” according to legal experts. “In his ruling, Judge Walker found that California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage irrationally discriminates against gay men and lesbians”, thus affecting their 14th Amendment rights.

In addition, he wrote “…that the Supreme Court has stated that government cannot enforce moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose.” In other words, what a contemporary society may find ‘immoral’ is not necessarily ‘illegal’.

With the current composition of the SCOTUS, it is quite likely that this ruling will be reversed. It could possibly “…turn on the court’s traditional swing vote, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has shaped decisions that struck down laws that discriminated against gay men and lesbians.”

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*Prop 8, that banned such unions, had passed with 52% of the vote. According to a national Gallup poll in May 2010, 53% of Americans felt that “…marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?” 44% felt otherwise and 3% had no opinion.

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, “Walker’s original nomination to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987 stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee because of controversy over his representation of the United States Olympic Committee in a lawsuit that prohibited the use of the title “Gay Olympics”. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged “insensitivity” to gays and the poor. Years later, the San Francisco Chronicle noted the irony of this opposition due to Walker’s sexual orientation.”

He was nominated to the bench, again, by George H.W. Bush. He received a unanimous Senate confirmation this time.

Quality of medical care by foreign doctors?

A new study has summarized the outcome of cases of heart attack and congestive heart failure when treated by American or foreign physicians.

The patients of foreign-born international graduates had the lowest death rate, 5 percent, and the patients of American doctors trained overseas had the highest death rate, 5.8 percent. Patients of the American born-and-trained doctors fell in the middle, with 5.5 percent.

However, when non-US born foreign medical graduates (FMGs) are lumped together with US-born FMGs, there was no difference in outcome when compared to American medical graduates (AMGs).

20% of all FMGs are Americans who had their education in international medical schools, often in the Caribbean. Most foreign-born international graduates come from India and Pakistan, who have completed medical school in their native country. In addition, these foreign-born FMGs often have had additional medical training in these locations abroad, before entering residency training with fresh AMGs.

The authors think that the worse performance of the US-born FMGs as compared to the other two groups could be due to two reasons. For one, Americans choosing to study abroad may have failed to get admission in a US medical school because of their grades, implying that they may be less capable to start with. In addition, it is possible that many foreign schools they attend may have lower standards of education and training.

All FMGs, whether or not born in the US, must take the same series of rigorous examinations given to AMGs, and also complete the same residencies and appear in the same board qualification examinations that AMGs do. Residencies done in non-US hospitals (except for Canada) are not recognized.

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The first author of this study is John J. Norcini, president of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, in Philadelphia. The study is being published in the August issue of the Journal Health Affairs. Here’s the abstract:

One-quarter of practicing physicians in the United States are graduates of international medical schools. The quality of care provided by doctors educated abroad has been the subject of ongoing concern. Our analysis of 244,153 hospitalizations in Pennsylvania found that patients of doctors who graduated from international medical schools and were not U.S. citizens at the time they entered medical school had significantly lower mortality rates than patients cared for by doctors who graduated from U.S. medical schools or who were U.S. citizens and received their degrees abroad. The patient population consisted of those with congestive heart failure or acute myocardial infarction. We found no significant mortality difference when comparing all international medical graduates with all U.S. medical school graduates.

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I hope that more studies are conducted on this topic, since it has huge implications. There is an ongoing shortage of doctors in the US, especially in the fields where reimbursement is poor, like Family Practice, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. This vacuum has traditionally been filled with FMGs who are willing to train and practice in these specialities.

The addition of over 10% of the population (32 million) to those eligible to receive healthcare by the newly passed Healthcare Reform will aggravate this shortage. There are efforts to increase class sizes and open new medical schools in the US, but the number of residency slots remain the same. This raises a few issues:

  1. As the authors caution, schools should not lower their admission standards and accept American applicants who would have had gone to study abroad because of their grades. If they do, medical schools may be churning out many less competent doctors.
  2. Since there will be a gradual increase in the number of AMGs, without a concurrent increase in residency positions, they will have to squeeze out FMGs. If these ‘displacers’ are doctors who would have otherwise been American FMGs, there will be a lowering of the quality of healthcare in the US.
  3. Ultimately, the number of doctors available every year will depend on the number of medical graduates completing their residency programs, whether they are AMGs or FMGs. So there will be no net gain in the number of practicing physicians.

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These matters need to be addressed. The number of post-graduate training positions have to be increased to meet the new influx of healthcare consumers, and the high standards of medical school admissions have to be preserved to maintain the quality of care in the US healthcare system.

Don’t park your car in the driveway?

Aside from someone breaking in and stealing your radio, police can shoot a dart to plant a GPS unit on to your car.

Fortunately, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the “police cannot surreptitiously stick a GPS unit on your car and track your movements without a warrant”. I see this case heading to the Supreme Court.