5 non-health tech stories you should care about this week

Today, we debut a new, weekly feature looking at five interesting general technology stories that people in healthcare should pay attention to.

ObamaHere at MedCity News, we are heads-down covering health technology every day, but what’s going on in the world of tech outside healthcare?

Today, we debut a new, weekly feature looking at five interesting general technology stories that people in healthcare should pay attention to, since these issues could have an impact on health tech. We’d love your feedback in the comments below and on social media.

1. “Obama touts technology as the answer to America’s ills in State of the Union” (Mashable)

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Tech has indeed worked both for and against Obama throughout the last few years of his administration. The president has frequently butted heads with Silicon Valley over how much access the federal government should have to encrypted private data and the government has endlessly battled the spread of Islamic State (ISIS) propaganda across the web and social media.

But he’s also embraced the power of technology across issues ranging from combatting climate change with cleaner energy initiatives to making guns safer with smart firearm technology to growing the economy with more STEM education.

2. “Microsoft cuts Azure virtual machine prices up to 17 percent in response to Amazon” (ZDNet).

On January 14, Microsoft responded, announcing price cuts of up to 17 percent on its Azure D-series virtual machines, a k a Dv2 Virtual Machines. Specifically, the cuts are up to 10 percent for Windows Server instances of D1 to D5 second-generation VMs and 14 percent for Linux D1 to D5 VM; and 13 percent for Windows Server instances of D11 to D14 VMs and 17 percent on the comparable Linux VMs.

3. “Google Play adds support for promo codes, including in-app purchases” (TechCrunch).

Android developers will finally be able to market their applications, as well as distribute copies of paid apps for free, and more, by way of promo codes – a feature Apple has supported for years. Thanks to a new option spotted in the Google Play Developer Console, it appears that app makers will now be able to distribute codes for both apps and in-app content.

4. “This 111-inch, double-sided TV is the future of home entertainment” (Business Insider).

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, LG showed off a dual-sided OLED TV. With a screen on each side, the TV would be perfect for commercial settings like a mall or subway platform. But there’s one catch: the TV isn’t for sale.

5. “Prominent Bitcoin developer declares the digital money dead” (Fusion).

In a long screed, [Mike] Hearn says that Bitcoin’s community has grown toxic, and that the system is now controlled by too small a group of people. His primary complaint concerns the “Bitcoin XT constitutional crisis” that emerged last year, during which two groups of people within Bitcoin had different ideas about how to deal with a change that needed to be made to the digital coin’s code. It led to a flame war, Reddit censorship, and a schism in the community that left Hearn’s camp on the losing, censored side.

The result, says Hearn, whose post is flavored by the sour grapes of losing that battle, is that “the network is on the brink of technical collapse.” He says that because the block size capacity, which is the cap on how many digital money movements can be processed at a time, wasn’t increased as proposed by his crew, transactions are now slow to go through and the system is vulnerable to attacks that consist of flooding the network with transactions. In order to ensure your transaction goes through, says Hearn, you sometimes have to pay Bitcoin miners a transaction fee that’s higher than what merchants pay for credit cards, which undermines one of Bitcoin’s primary appeals. If the blockchain cap doesn’t get bigger, those transaction fees will continue to grow.

Photo: Screenshot via PBS News Hour