Photo scans, medication tracking, Apple Watch
Bob's Tech Talk
October 1, 2022 | View PDF
Q. Years ago I converted a box of family photos with a desktop scanner. Are scanners still around, or have they gone the way of the fax machine and pay telephones?
A. Tabletop flatbed scanners are still available. And far less expensive than they were years ago. Pretty much any model that sells for less an $100 should do just fine. Just be sure that it is supported by whichever device you use it with.
There is however another solution: a smartphone app. Today’s smartphone cameras are more powerful than most budget-friendly scanners, and while there are specialized apps available, the built-in camera app can do a decent job with a few images.
For bigger size projects, check out Photomyne (https://photomyne.com) a one stop shop for home scanning with plenty of advice to help make each job a snap.
The app corrects for distortions, does retouching, and it helps with naming and sorting as well. The companion service is helpful during the project, but once you have the photos, you may want to move them out of Photomyne to avoid paying an ongoing subscription fee.
Q. Can you recommend an app for tracking my medications?
A. The answer a month ago would have been no. I could not recommend any app because none of them had earned my trust. Today the answer is yes, thanks to the iOS 16 iPhone software update released in mid-September.
When considering the entire personal technology landscape, there are only two places that I think are reliably secure enough to routinely share medical information: The Apple Health app, or secure web sites (on any device).
For daily medication consumption, no web site I am aware of provides tracking. That leaves only Apple’s option.
When it comes to medical apps, even Apple raises concerns. Most of the apps available on the App Store are not made by Apple. The iPhone platform is a secure foundation, but the App Store retails hundreds of thousands of apps from tens of thousands of developers, each of whom operates as a separate business.
My advice is to stick with the apps which are pre-installed on every iPhone as much as possible. The Health app (as of iOS 16) can track medications and generate daily reminders for when to take your medication.
Just scan the label with the camera, confirm the dosage and time, and the phone will remind you as needed. If you log each dose, it can generate a report you can give to your doctor.
Q. I think the Apple Watch is overpriced. What are the alternatives?
A. There are no alternatives whatsoever in its price range.
Apple has a well-earned reputation for expensive products, and it rarely advertises anything other than its flagship offerings. The perception that an Apple Watch is about $500 is commonly held, but incorrect. The Apple Watch SE 2 retails for $249. The internal chips that power it are basically the same as the high-end models that cost two to three times as much.
Although there are a few more features on the other Apple Watch models, the SE 2 is more than powerful enough for anyone. Here is why: it can help save your life. If you fall down, it will alert emergency services. If you are in an automobile crash, it will call for help. It will listen to your heart and identify potential problems. It tracks your medication and taps you on the wrist when it is time to take a dose.
It is also durable enough to last years, waterproof, and is probably the very best fitness tracker available.
The iPhone now accounts for more than half of the smartphone users in the US, and I notice Apple Watches on the wrists of people of all ages.
There is no question that Apple Watch was underpowered and extremely expensive when it debuted seven years ago. Today, it provides a safety net that was once impossible to buy at any price, along with a rich collection of useful everyday features.
Compared to its competition, there is no contest.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
History Making Maps
Do not skip this page because it seems boring. Instead explore a unique view of how we see our planet.
Health Privacy Guidelines
A guide to privacy expectations for personal health information.
Ancient Ruins of Russia
Strangely beautiful, haunted photographs of abandoned technology and disused spaces.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at email@example.com.