Ethical WTF: Telus Health secretly inserted drug vouchers into electronic medical records system

According to the Toronto Star, Telus Health’s EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system offered vouchers for more expensive brand name drugs. This “feature” was enabled in a 2016 software update with many doctors unknowingly activating it.

When doctors would go into the system, vouchers would sit alongside patient information, it would be non-obvious or hidden and it would look like part of the software:

The Star had found that brand name drug companies paid Telus to digitally insert the vouchers so that the prescription is filled with their product instead of the lower-cost generic competitor that pharmacists normally reach for.

What’s troubling is that Telus would send data about usage of the vouchers back to the marketing/advertising companies:

Telus said drug manufacturers paying to have their vouchers in the EMR receive “aggregated and anonymized, province-level statistics” on the total number of vouchers printed off for their products

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Riot.im 0.12 is out, yes it’s better than Slack

Riot.im is out with version 0.12 for web and desktop. It is another fine example of an open source Slack (or HipChat) alternative (we’ve covered one Slack alternative before, Zulip). In this latest version they include widgets which are a way of sharing app integrations embedded within a Riot.im chat room.

Embeddable Widgets For Your Chat Room

Widgets are embedded and pinned to the top of your Riot.im chat room. This makes them visible at all times to everyone in the chat room. Similar to pinning a particular message.

The widgets included in this release are:

  • YouTube, for sharing an endless playlist of cat videos in a chat room
  • Etherpad, for sharing notes that can be collaborated on
  • Grafana, for sharing graphs of how much traffic is spiking web server CPU
  • Google Docs, for sharing documents

There’s an ability to add custom widgets so I’m hoping someone creates a custom widget for Kolab Now (which is a free/open source alternative to Google Docs).

Only the Most Proper Video Conferencing with Jitsi

The bigger news? Riot.im has support for proper video conferencing with Jitsi! Jitsi is free/open source video conferencing software that is compatible with WebRTC and is scalable and matches what the big players of video conferencing  (Skype, Zoom) are offering.

 

Riot.im and Matrix, free/open source alternatives to Slack

Riot.im promises the same thing as Slack except in a nicer, more hackable free/open source package. Riot.im is a client for the Matrix group chat server. Matrix is the free/open source infrastructure for setting up a Slack/HipChat alternative. There are other clients available for it. Matrix can be viewed as an alternative to XMPP/Jabber and as an upgrade to IRC.

You can support Matrix and free/open source chat/communications infrastructure by donating here through Liberapay (or Patreon or sending cryptocurrency like BitCoin or Ethereum BTC 1LxowEgsquZ3UPZ68wHf8v2MDZw82dVmAE, ETH 0xA5f9a4f9E024F6D727f7afdA9257e22329A97485).

Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

Liberapay is a recurrent donation platform, similar to Patreon, GoFundMe and other platforms. What makes it different is that LibreaPay is a non-profit organization and they fund themselves rather than charging transaction fees (though you will still get charged payment processing fees).

The source code for their platform is also open source. The code for Liberapay is available on Github.

What’s nice about Liberapay is that it’s easy to use, the transaction fees are non-existent and it gives users of free/open source software another platform on which to support developers. Recurring donations are sponsorships of a project. OpenCollective is a similar platform that we’ve covered before.

If you’re interested in more crowdfunding platforms for your free/open source projects, the Snowdrift Co-op has an amazing wiki page full of research on crowdfunding platforms.

Red Hat Teams Up With Microsoft

This is a headline I thought I would never see but the world has really changed with Microsoft seeming to fully embrace open source!

Red Hat is offering support for .NET Core on RHEL and OpenShift, not only that but the version of .NET includes C#, F# and Visual Basic. Red Hat offers enterprise-grade support for .NET now and if a corporation using .NET was hesitant about moving to GNU/Linux, they can enlist the help of Red Hat with that move.

I’ve personally known a few .NET shops that would do well to consider moving to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); Linux servers are easier to automate and administer than Windows servers. With Red Hat’s support, it becomes even easier.

Facebook Patents Grant License is Causing Chaos

Facebook Patents Grant License is Causing Chaos

Note: this blog post was updated on 25 September 2017.

The popular React Javascript library from Facebook, amongst other open source projects from them, has a license (3-clause BSD license) and a patents grant. Recently, the Apache Software Foundation declared that this license + patents grant belongs to Category X. The licenses in Category X means that projects that are part of the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) umbrella cannot use libraries or code that are licensed under those licenses.

The patents grant basically amounts to this:

The patent grant says that if you’re going to use the software [Facebook] released under it, you lose the patent license from us if you sue [Facebook] for patent infringement

This means that if you’re using React.js in your startup’s code and later on down the line, Facebook patents something related to your startup and you try to sue them for patent infringement, then Facebook revokes the patent license. Their reasoning for this is that it will prevent patent trolls from suing Facebook but this doesn’t make much sense. There are other ways to protect themselves from patent trolls and it feels like this chaos is much more punishing to the open source communities around Facebook’s code.

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Node.js has forked into Ayo

Ayo (pronounced “eye-oh” or IO) is a fork of the popular Node.js JavaScript runtime. It was created because of a Code of Conduct issue in the Node.js project.

A committee at the Node.js project voted 60% in favour of allowing a developer to stay on with the project. The vote put forward to the committee noted some violations of the Code Of Conduct. The fact there was a vote means that they took the Code of Conduct seriously.

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