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Diabetes Mentor

By Review by Gretchen Becker


Special Notice

I have reviewed a lot of diabetes management programs with an emphasis on my own personal needs. I am a type 2, managing with diet and exercise, and I often test new foods by doing postprandial curves and measuring the area under the curve. Thus I was looking primarily for a program that would (1) download my Profile and OneTouch II meters, (2) allow me to sort the downloaded results according to the 15 Profile Event Codes, (3) graph curves selected by Event Codes as well as by date, and (4) print the graphs. A convenient data dump for printout as a permanent record and a nutritional program were also of interest to me.

As a non--insulin user, I was not able to review the various programs' capabilities for handing insulin or pumps. Furthermore, I often rejected a program because the logbook won't handle more than 4 or 6 entries a day, because I need that feature. The programs I rejected I tended not to spend as much time with.

But insulin users, or people who want to measure their blood glucose at four predetermined times a day and then manipulate that data in various ways might find that a program that I hated is just what they want.

Or a person using a meter that doesn't download to a particular program might find that a program I loved doesn't work for them.

Keep this in mind as you read these reviews. They are very biased toward my own needs. As always, YMMV (your mileage may vary).


SUMMARY
As a very basic program, I like this one. It's simple and doesn't waste memory with a lot of fancy graphics and unnecessary extras like fancy fonts, so it doesn't take much room on the HD. Comes on one disk and takes up only 4 megs. And it loads quickly. It allows a lot of flexibility with the graphs, which is what I'm interested in. [A type 1 wanting a lot of color bar charts might prefer another program.]

One lack is the documentation, which is mediocre. But the program is pretty self-explanatory and intuitive to use. Not like some in which some clever feature isn't obvious without plowing through a lot of documentation.

The MAJOR problem is that I think it still has some bugs. See CONs section.

If price and disk space were factors for someone who didn't need the nutritional side of the programs, this might be a good one to get, although there might be shareware programs as good as this one for slightly less (if you're honest; a lot less if you're not). This one has the feel of shareware.

I wish the authors would put some more work into this one to get rid of the bugs, in which case it could be a really useful basic program. Until then, I couldn't recommend it.

PROS
Has the basics, no nutrition. But you can manually add 8 separate factors (insulin, calories, carbs, protein, fat, cholesterol, exercise, and weight) and graph them, with the option of using or not using each one of these factors. The printouts are a bit cluttered if you choose to print all 8 factors, but most times you wouldn't want that.

There's also a neat feature in which you can click on any item you're interested in, and the y axis will show the units for that item. And you can focus on a particular item and see exactly what the numbers are for that entry. Double click and you'll go to the logbook for that entry.

Downloads the meter and offers a choice of downloading all meter readings or only most recent, so if you change some of the data labels, you can redownload without creating a new file.

CONS
There's not quite as much flexibility in this program as in some of the more complex ones. For instance the line graph offers only options of showing 1 week, 2 weeks, or a month. But you can see one day by using the "standard day" graph and choosing only 1 day, without the option of graphing cholesterol and weight, etc., however.

One problem is the documentation is very sloppy. Sloppy documentation always makes me worry that the programming is also sloppy. I get the feeling the authors haven't had the time to invest in perfecting the program.

For example, in the LIST report, some event labels are uc and some are lc. One you understand that this sometimes happens, you don't worry about it. But at first you wonder if the uc ones are more important or something. A physician looking at your printout might wonder about this. For some days it prints out all the event codes, even though there are no entries.

Much more serious: It didn't download all the readings. Said "ignored 17 readings." Later I got it to download 7 more by changing the time the "day begins to 2 a.m." But how was a person to know this was important? I tried downloading again several days later and it still ignored 23 readings.

I also had problems getting some of the features to work correctly. When I tried to delete "today's" entries, it told me there were no entries for "today." But there were. And when I clicked on "add" instead of "delete" it worked fine.

A bigger problem is that it keeps crashing when I do certain things like clicking on the "?" for help. It did this with FirstAid running, so I disabled FirstAid and went through the exact same steps again and it crashed again.

You can choose to connect the entries on the graphs by lines or not. When you connect them, some of them have the lines and others (especially when there are long gaps between measurements) don't. I read in another program that it connected with dotted lines when you hadn't measured very often, and it could be that this is the reason, but I didn't find this explanation in any documentation.

When minor features don't work properly, I worry that some features that appear to work might also have bugs, so I can't trust the results. It's too bad, because I do like the "feel" of this program.

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