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A grueling day in court ended with evidence that Theranos tests sucked


After a tedious day of bickering, Victoria Sung appeared like manna from heaven — to tell us that Theranos’ tests sucked.

Sung worked at Celgene when it contracted with Theranos. Her testimony was brief and to the point: Celgene had not “comprehensively validated” Theranos technology, she said. That would have taken more work than what she did with Theranos’ tests. The work she showed the court from 2012 demonstrated Theranos performed dismally compared to standard testing — often returning results that were “out of range.”

We’ll get to the bickering in a minute, I promise, but Sung is a teaser for a big part of US v. Elizabeth Holmes we haven’t explored much: Theranos’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies. One allegation prosecutor Robert Leach made in his opening statement was that Holmes had deceived Walgreens about its relationship with drug companies. During former employee Surekha Gangakhedkar’s testimony a little over a week ago, she said that she didn’t think pharma company GlaxoSmithKline’s report on Theranos tech “comprehensively validated” it.

This phrase felt familiar, and today I realized from where: Bad Blood, John Carreyrou’s book about Theranos. In the book, Carreyrou wrote that documents Theranos gave Walgreens “stated that the Theranos system had been ‘comprehensively validated over the last seven years by 10 of the largest 15 pharma companies.’”

GSK and Celgene’s acquirer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, certainly rank among the largest pharma companies. They did have contracts with Theranos; in fact, Celgene was Theranos’ largest pharma customer. But neither of the studies those two companies did count as comprehensive validation, according to Sung and Gangakhedkar.

I imagine we will work through Theranos’ other pharma partners later in the trial; Sung’s testimony was brief. She was only on the stand because former lab director Adam Rosendorff had a childcare commitment at 2PM and couldn’t continue his cross-examination, which took most of the day.

Rosendorff had previously testified that Theranos’ tests were bad, even saying he didn’t understand the clinical value of one test.

Lance Wade, Holmes’ attorney, set out to undermine this testimony, and that was the source of a great deal of bickering. Rosendorff could be persnickety about details; for instance, Wade kept mixing up “proficiency tests” with “precision tests,” and Rosendorff kept correcting him. At one point, the two got into a fight about whether Rosendorff had forwarded an email or replied to it. At least, I think that’s what they were arguing about.

We revisited the lab inspection by the California Department of Public Health, where Theranos employees got instructions not to go in or out of the “Normandy” lab, where the Edison machines were kept. In a previous inspection in New York, bulletin boards had been covered with paper so the inspector couldn’t see what was on them. Wade asked if that was to protect trade secrets. Rosendorff asked who would pin trade secrets to bulletin boards.

But we did find out the results of the audit: some minor deficiencies, which upset Holmes and Balwani, Rosendorff testified. Later, Wade quipped that supervising quality control tests and making sure laws were followed was “why you get the big bucks, right?”

“Not as big bucks as you get paid,” Rosendorff replied.

While he was among the highest-paid employees at Theranos, making $240,000 a year, The Wall Street Journal noted that partners at Wade’s firm made an average of about $1.5 million a year. Given the problems at Theranos, as well as lawyers’ fees that stemmed from his time there, he should have been paid more, Rosendorff said. That bit of testimony was struck from the record.

Bickering aside, Wade did make some progress. He put some of the emails Rosendorff had been asked about on direct examination in chronological order with documents Rosendorff had signed, showing that whatever reservations Rosendorff had didn’t stop him from approving tests.

Crucially, Wade got Rosendorff to revise his testimony about proficiency testing, which is required by law. Though proficiency testing wasn’t run on the Edison devices, Rosendorff said, it had been run on the FDA-approved machines in the lab. Wade produced documents from the American Proficiency Institute that graded Theranos “acceptable.”

This is a significant narrowing of Rosendorff’s testimony from the direct examination. Unlike Wade’s attempted “gotcha” moment yesterday, this did make me reconsider how I felt about Rosendorff’s direct testimony on proficiency testing. It is far less damning to say that proficiency testing had been done everywhere except the Edison, which was used for only seven tests. Rosendorff was testifying to plans for proficiency testing on the Edison machines when he had to leave for the day. (This was when the email dispute occurred.)

Remarks made by counsel after the jury left suggested we have at least one more day of listening to Rosendorff and Wade squabble, which I am not especially looking forward to. But Sung’s testimony did give me something to get excited about: What is the rest of Big Pharma going to say about Theranos?





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Valve reportedly developing standalone VR headset codenamed ‘Deckard’


Valve could have a second VR headset in development with a standalone design similar to what’s currently offered by Facebook’s lineup of Oculus Quest headsets. Evidence for the new headset was brought to light by YouTuber Brad Lynch. He found multiple references in Valve’s SteamVR code to a device codenamed “Deckard” which he then cross-referenced against the company’s recent patent applications.

Ars Technica subsequently confirmed with its own sources that much of Lynch’s findings are accurate, and that Valve does have a second headset prototype in development. In contrast with the company’s first VR headset, the Valve Index, released in 2019, the new headset has a built in processor that could allow it to work without being tethered to a PC by a cable. Valve also reportedly has ambitions for it to be able to track movement without needing external base stations (aka “inside-out” tracking).

Ars’ claims broadly line up with the code references Lynch outlines in his video. These include use of the term “standalone” and a code string that suggests it might have some internal processing power, which could allow it to function independently from an external PC. There are also references that suggest the new headset might have some measure of wireless connectivity, potentially via Wi-Fi. Ars also reports that details about updated optics are also accurate, which could allow the headset’s lenses to be positioned closer to the user’s face for better comfort and performance.

Reports of a standalone headset are interesting in light of the announcement of Valve’s handheld Steam Deck console, which runs on a semi-custom AMD processor. A Valve FAQ has made it clear that the current console is “not optimized” for VR, but in an interview the company expressed an interest in one day using the processor in a standalone VR headset.

“We’re not ready to say anything about [using the AMD processor in a VR headset],” Valve’s Greg Coomer told The Verge in a recent Steam Deck interview, “but it would run well in that environment, with the TDP necessary… it’s very relevant to us and our future plans.”

Of course, Valve developing something internally is no guarantee it’ll ever see a commercial release. Ars points towards the company’s famous history of working on projects internally, only to kill them off. But the fact that the company has already released one VR headset, and is on the cusp of releasing its own standalone handheld console, has us hopeful that Deckard might one day make it to market.



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Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ new trailer shows what you’ll be doing outside of battle


We already know that the upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus makes some big changes when it comes to combat and capturing monsters. But the latest trailer for the roleplaying game shows some of the other things you’ll be doing. That includes familiar elements like riding pokémon, customizing your trainer with clothes and hairstyles, and what looks like a fairly robust photo mode. The trailer also ends with a look at a brand-new monster called Kleavor. Additionally, the developers revealed that players will get a device called an Arc Phone, which will likely serve as a pokédex of sorts. It also looks suspiciously like the titular new Arceus pokémon being introduced in the game.

Arceus isn’t launching until next January, but there is another Pokémon title a little closer on the horizon, with remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl coming to the Switch on November 19th. That game also has a new trailer that you can check out below, which similarly gets into the nitty-gritty of how the game works. That includes details on the Pokétch, a handy, app-filled gadget players can utilize; as well as Amity Square, a location where players can relax and have a photoshoot with their favorite monsters. The trailer is also a good chance to acquaint yourself with the games’ new, chibi art style that stands in contrast to the more grounded look of Arceus.



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RIP Android TV remote app, hello Google TV remote app


Google is killing its older Android TV remote. The move follows the company’s launch of its long-awaited Google TV remote app last week.

The company confirmed to The Verge that the Android TV remote app will take a bow after the Google TV remote app — which can be used for other Android TV OS devices as well — is widely available. Android Police earlier reported the remote news.

“We’re making the experience of using your phone as a virtual remote control faster to access and easier to use by upgrading the UI and integrating the feature directly into the Android mobile OS as well as the Google TV app,” a spokesperson said. “After the new remote feature is widely available, the Android TV remote app will no longer be supported and available for use.”

To use the remote, the Android TV OS television or device will need Android TV Remote Service 5.0, which has already started rolling out. Users will not need to manually update their devices to get it. A spokesperson said that the rollout will continue through this week and will update automatically through the Google Play Store.

The new remote is available to Android users from Quick Settings or through the Google TV app. A spokesperson told The Verge last week that the new remote app will be available only to Android users at this time.



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First Asian giant hornet (aka murder hornet) sighting of 2021 confirmed in Washington state


The Washington State Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first sighting of a live Asian giant hornet (nickname: murder hornet) in the state this year, the agency said in a news release.

Yes I am back on my murder hornet BS. And coincidentally, I am writing this about an hour after a regular-sized (enormous) wasp was prowling around in my kitchen and I had to shoo it outside with a broom handle and a lot of swearing.

You may recall last year, when many of us were introduced to the Asian giant hornet after it was spotted in the US for the first time. The WSDA trapped its first specimen last August, and eradicated its first Asian giant hornet nest in October. I encourage you to read the news release of that eradication event because it’s incredibly satisfying to read an entomologist hero story. Example:

In all, the entomologists with WSDA’s Pest Program removed 98 worker hornets. During the early morning extraction, 85 hornets were vacuumed out of the nest and collected another 13 live hornets were collected with a net while observing the nest

Hell yes, entomologists.

The first murder hornet sighting of 2021 in Washington came on August 11th, via a resident of Whatcom County, near the Canadian border. The WSDA confirmed it was an Asian giant hornet a day later, thanks to a photo of the hornet attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of Blaine, Washington.

“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year — attacking paper wasp nests,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said in a statement. “If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Note the direction they fly off to as well.”

Yes definitely note the direction they fly off to and then go the other way. Quickly.

Just to review: a queen Asian giant hornet can grow to be two inches long. The hornets are invasive pests that rip the heads off of honeybees and then feed the bodies to their young. They can fly at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, and their stingers are long enough to puncture most beekeeping suits. The WSDA says a small group of them can kill an entire honeybee hive “in a matter of hours.”

For comparison (brace yourself):

Washington State Department of Agriculture

The WSDA says it will be setting live traps in the area where this nest was discovered, and try to catch a live hornet in order to tag it and track it back to its nest. Canadian officials will be doing the same, since the sighting was so close to the border. According to the WSDA, half of its confirmed reports and all of the Canadian authorities’ reports came from the public, so good job everyone, at least we’re keeping an eye out for them. However, they haven’t caught any live murder hornets in traps so far this year.

If you live in Washington state and see what appears to be an Asian giant hornet don’t be a hero; snap a photo and upload it to agr.wa.gov/hornets or email [email protected] (lol the hornets have their own email address) and let the professionals handle things.



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The Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panel smarter pack is $50 off at Costco


If you like your lighting to be on the adventurous side, rest assured that Nanoleaf’s canvas light panels aren’t made to be subtle. The touch-sensitive squares are flashy and versatile, with the ability to display more than 16 million colors and a modular design that lets you place them in a variety of patterns. The bright LED panels also work with all the major smart home platforms, and can cycle through a number of preset colors or respond to sound when in “Rhythm Mode,” a feature that’s just as suited for the ambient noise outside your bedroom as your favorite record. Right now, Costco members can purchase Nanoleaf’s Canvas Light Panel smarter pack with nine panels and everything needed to get started for $50, one of the better prices we’ve seen on the intuitive lighting system.


Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panel smarter pack

Nanoleaf’s colorful, touch-sensitive LED panels support all major smart home platforms and can cycle through more than 16 million colors, making them the perfect accent piece for any room in need of a little flair.

The Razer Nari Essential is by no means a groundbreaking headset, yet, for the price, it’s an admirable entry-level model that will appease most gamers, especially on the PC side. The jet-black wireless gaming headset features an adjustable headband, a sturdy build, and support for both PC and PlayStation consoles, with THX Spatial Audio simulated surround sound available on the former. Normally $100, it’s currently available at Woot for $55, more than 45 percent off its typical list price. If Razer’s budget-friendly Nari Essential doesn’t offer what you’re looking for, however, we’ve also rounded up the best gaming headsets overall, including multiplatform models and both wired and wireless alternatives.


Razer Nari Essential

At $55, the Nari Essential is hard to beat. It’s one of Razer’s more affordable wireless headsets, with 16 hours of battery life, a well-made build, and simulated surround sound on PC, a feature that lets you pinpoint enemies before sneak up on you.

Good noise-cancellation can be hard to come by for $100 — just look at the Nothing Ear 1s. Fortunately, there’s the second-gen Amazon Echo Buds, a pair of true wireless earbuds that churn out satisfying sound while benefitting from improved comfort and noise cancellation over their first-gen counterpart. Amazon’s mid-range earbuds, which are now on sale for a limited time at Best Buy for $80, also feature IPX4 water and sweat resistance, and allow for hands-free voice commands via Alexa, meaning Amazon’s virtual assistant is always available at the tip of your tongue. Read our review.


Amazon Echo Buds (second-gen)

Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 improve upon the originals with a more comfortable design, improved ANC, and a more natural ambient sound mode. They still offer hands-free Alexa voice commands as well.

Other deals of note



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Telegram’s group video calls can now have up to 1,000 viewers


Telegram has announced the latest new features and improvements making their way to the popular messaging app. Video is the focus this time around. After launching group video calls last month, those sessions are now able to tally up to 1,000 viewers. The maximum number of people able to participate and broadcast to the video call remains at 30, but you can have quite the audience now for “anything from online lectures to live rap battles,” according to the company.

Video messages will also now come through at a higher resolution, and you can tap them for a larger view of the clip. When recording your own video messages, Telegram says that audio from your device will now keep playing as you do so, “so you can now sing along to your favorite songs or reply without pausing your podcast.” You can now zoom in when recording with your phone’s rear camera, as well.

Other additions include screen sharing for one-on-one video calls (with audio from the device of whoever’s broadcasting), the option to auto-delete messages after a month — the longest option was previously a week — and more precise drawing. Telegram has also spruced up the user experience with animations for the passcode screen and when you send messages on Android; iOS users already got these message animations in a previous update. For the full list of changes, head over to Telegram’s blog.



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How to ‘dislike’ TikTok videos


TikTok’s algorithms can be very perceptive when it comes to the types of videos you want to see in your For You feed. But when it doesn’t work, you may find yourself facing a steady stream of the type of video you really don’t want to deal with.

I’m not just talking about something egregious — like, for example, political or religious or social statements that you might feel are completely counter to your beliefs. I’m also referring to videos that you might simply find annoying, such as a type of music that you don’t like, or a type of humor that doesn’t suit. For example, for some reason I suddenly found myself swiping though a bunch of videos from so-called fortune tellers offering advice to their commenters. I really didn’t need to see those.

So what can you do?

Well, it turns out that you can actually “dislike” TikTok videos — or, at least, you can tell TikTok that you are not interested in it, and so (hopefully) tweak the algorithm to not show you other videos like it.

Here’s how:

  • Long press on the video that you don’t like.
  • You’ll get a pop-up menu that lets you save the video, add it to your favorites, report it (if you feel it’s really offensive), or say that you’re simply not interested. In this case, tap on “Not interested.”
  • You’ll then get the choice to either hide videos from that user or hide videos that use that sound (if you’re just tired of a particular audio track).

Long-press on the screen to bring up this menu. (Note: this is just an example; I had nothing against this video.)

You can either hide all videos from the creator, or hide all videos that use that sound clip.

You can either hide all videos from the creator or hide all videos that use that sound clip.

And that, hopefully, will be that. You can also, by the way, long-press on live videos that you don’t like; in that case, you’ll immediately get the choice to either say you’re not interested or report the video.



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The Verge Guide to TikTok


Despite having to weather a variety of controversies having to do with its content and its ownership, TikTok persists as a popular video app — and no wonder. It allows you to quickly create videos, add a variety of effects, text captions, and audio backgrounds, and show to the world what you think is cute, funny, politically problematic, deadly serious, or in need of fixing. TikTok is full of cute animals, weird dances, snarky remarks, and imaginative dialogues between the same individual dressed up in two different ways.

In fact, it is hard to say who is having the most fun: those who are swiping through the wide variety of videos out there, discovering what other people are doing, dancing, and discussing, or those who are creating these imaginative videos and enjoying the attention and comments that they engender. (Or not enjoying it, depending on those comments — this is social media, after all, and so there are a lot of angry people out there.)

If you want to know what all the fuss is about and want to give the app a try, either as a watcher or as a creator, we have your back. In The Verge Guide to TikTok, we’ve got step-by-step directions for new users and some excellent tips for knowledgeable creators. We explain how to find what you’re interested in, how to decline what you’re not interested in, and how to deal with the algorithms that determine what you’re going to see next.

We hope you find them useful in your explorations of the wonderful world of TikTok.



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How to use the Green Screen effect on TikTok 


Green screens used to be reserved for those with access to, well, a green screen. This method has been around for a long time: allowing creators to superimpose a photo or video onto a background in a film or video. Traditionally, that means using a setup that has a large sheet of (usually) green material behind the subject. The solid color makes it easy to digitally remove that color in post-production and add whatever image or video should be there.

Now the idea of green screens has gone digital as a way to hide backgrounds in meetings or to create fun videos on social media. TikTok has taken this idea and run with it by creating an effect within the app that does basically the same thing. While not as polished as a traditional green screen, it still gets the job done and allows the creator to remain on-screen while showing the audience an image in the background of the video.

The effect is a great way to spice up a video and provide an interesting visual. I use it regularly on The Verge’s TikTok so the audience can see whatever object or topic I’m discussing. Even though I usually rely on the basic green screen option, which adds a photo to the background, there are plenty of different effects to choose from.

Here’s how you can do it in TikTok:

  • Tap the + icon in the bottom center of the screen to create a new video.
  • Click “Effects” in the bottom left corner.
  • Choose “Green Screen” from the menu.
  • Browse all of the Green Screen effects and decide which one best suits what you want to do with your video.

There are a lot of different Green Screen effects to choose from.

Whatever image you choose will become the background.

The most common effects used are the simplest: they add a photo or video to the background that stays in place as the subject moves around the frame. But there are others that you can try that get pretty creative. You can add an image as a sticker that can be resized and moved around, or you can superimpose an image over your clothing to change your look. There’s even a feature to add parts of your face to a photo just in case, say, you want to pretend your dog can talk.

The options are limitless once you use a little imagination.

Turn your pet into a terrifying creature using the face green screen effect.

Change your outfit up using a photo or design.



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