COVID-19 Sensor for iPhone

A prototype device has been created, measuring an inch wide, one that connects to a host device over Bluetooth and drawing power from a smartphone’s charging port. After opening a companion app, the sensor requires a particle of saliva to be deposited for a reading. 

DNA strands in the virus bind onto proteins on the sensor, in turn creating electrical resistance and triggered a positive result in the app. Once a test is completed, the sample can be destroyed using an electrical current, leaving it ready to be reused in another test.

Thing is, this test relies on saliva. I happen to work for a company that did a ton of work on the viability of testing for COVID-19 using saliva. The results were not promising.

In the Diagnostic Cohort, we find that saliva collection has reduced sensitivity (~30% less) relative than NPS. And in our convalescent cohort of patients greater than 8 days and less than 21 days from first symptom, we find that saliva has ~ 50% sensitivity relative to NPS. Our results suggest that rigorous studies in the intended populations should be performed before large-scale screening using saliva as the test matrix is initiated.

The team at Helix did some hard work and I wish the conclusion was different. If the sophisticated instruments and rigorous methods they used for testing showed that saliva isn’t as viable a medium for testing as NPS swabs, I’m hard-pressed to see how a $50 gadget with a tiny saliva sample can provide an reliable result. Maybe I’m missing something.

Faux Meat: It’s What’s for Dinner

Grocery store sales of products like Beyond Meat and Tofurky were up 264 percent during a nine-week period ending on May 2nd, according to Nielsen (via The Wall Street Journal). Overall, retail sales plunged 16.4 percent from March to April. The popularity of faux meat exploded starting in March, with sales of fresh meat alternatives surging 206 percent the first week of March and rising 279 percent the week ending on March 14th, according to Nielsen.

Makes sense. I had an Impossible Whopper recently. It was edible.

‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Set at CBS All Access – Variety

CBS All Access is bringing back some fan-favorite characters for a another brand new “Star Trek” series.

The streamer has given a series order to “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” starring Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock. The series will follow Pike, Spock, and Number One in the decade before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise as they explore new worlds around the galaxy.

— Read on

This is such good news. I’ve been so sorely disappointed with the way Star Wars worked out and have really happy with the way Star Trek:Discovery and Star Trek:Picard have developed, so this is really good news. Anson Mount was awesome as Captain Pike and I am ridiculously happy to see him return to the role.

The 5-year deal that EP Alex Kurtzman signed with CBS to expand the Star Trek universe is also pretty heartening.

It was announced in 2018 that Kurtzman had signed a five-year deal with CBS TV Studios to supervise the expansion of the “Star Trek” television universe. Last year, CBS announced it was launching a “Star Trek” global franchise group to manage new projects like podcasts, new digital spaces, and live experiential events.

Giphy alternatives and how to delete Giphy iMessage app – 9to5Mac

Facebook just announced that it purchased Giphy and all across the Internet, users quickly committed to ditching the service. If you’re concerned about the service being owned by Facebook, follow along for the best Giphy alternatives for iPhone and how to delete the iMessage Giphy app.
— Read on

Oh good.

Slack and Giphy

As always, Slack is committed to protecting user and company data. Giphy doesn’t receive any information about users or even companies using the Giphy for Slack integration, and only sees Slack usage of the Giphy API in aggregate.
— Read on

John Gruber’s post about the Giphy acquisition inspired a response from Slack. This is good; Slack is where I use Giphy the most.

Feeling Good About the iPad

Neil Cybart, writing on his site Beyond Avalon a few months ago.

Apple unveiled the iPad on January 27th, 2010. To mark the tenth anniversary of the unveiling, a few publications had articles recapping the iPad’s first decade. Some of the reactions were complicated, to put it gently.
— Read on

I’m not one of those people who feels that the iPad was a failure – or that it failed to live up to its potential.

In fact, how anyone can describe a platform that sells 45 million units each year, 20 million of which are to new iPad users, as anything less than a rousing success is somewhat baffling to me.

From what I can tell, there are a few common themes:

  1. The iPad wasn’t/isn’t the revolutionary device that the Mac and the iPhone were.
  2. The iPad hasn’t spawned the app ecosystem it needed to be revolutionary.
  3. The iPad suffers from software that isn’t good enough.

There’s a lot to unpack there and a previous draft of this post racked up 2600+ words which I then realized was me rambling. There’s a more cohesive MacStories-like article somewhere in the depths here, but I feel like I want to address this general sense of disappointment about the iPad with a rebuttal.

More Adobe Vulns

Adobe patches Acrobat Reader security flaw that could allow root access on Mac

This friggin app keeps popping up in my weekly patch meetings.