Weekly output: sports streaming, Mark Vena podcast, Warner Bros. Discovery hire, U.S. ends Covid test rule, RCS vs. iMessage, federal EV-charging specifications, antique mobile apps

My Covid roller coaster of a week started with a couple of nap-heavy days after last Sunday’s positive test, transitioned to me waiting to see the positive strips in rapid tests start to fade as my cold-like symptoms already had, and wrapped up with that positive strip vanishing faster than I might have hoped. That leaves me free to proceed with my earlier travel plans: flying to Ireland Monday night for Dublin Tech Summit to moderate two panels there and finally use my Irish passport in the country that issued it to me.

6/8/2022: Sports-streaming panel finds no one winning play in key issues, FierceVideo

Instead of speaking at this publication’s Stream TV Show and writing up a couple of panels, I could only cover this discussion about sports streaming, one of a limited set of talks available via streaming at a conference devoted to that very topic.

6/9/2022: S02 E24 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s podcast conversation (also on video) focused on Apple’s WWDC news from earlier in the week.

6/10/2022: Warner Bros. Discovery names sports-CEO pick, FierceVideo

My fill-in duty at my trade-pub client, continuing through Monday, included a quick write-up of this hire.

6/10/2022: US Finally Scraps COVID Test Requirement for Inbound International Flights, PCMag

This is a story I’ve been hoping to write for months.

Screenshot of USAT column as seen in Safari on an iPad6/10/2022: Why haven’t iPhone, Android messaging apps evolved to make it easier to talk to each other?, USA Today

I first wrote this after Google I/O last month, then updated it to note how Apple ignored the entire issue of Android-iOS messaging security at WWDC. Alas, that rewriting cycle did not help me catch a stupid mistake that a friend asked about the day after the story was published: I wrote that Apple’s Messages app shows non-iMessage texts in blue bubbles, not the actual green bubbles of shame.

6/11/2022: Biden Admin to Set Standards for Federally Funded EV Charging Stations, PCMag

Writing this post about proposed requirements for electric-car charging stations funded through last year’s infrastructure law took longer than I expected after I got into the weeds reading about the finer points of EV-charging systems. Which is good, because I need to know this stuff in depth.

6/12/2022: Apps can live on in your phone or tablet, even after removed from an app store, USA Today

I wrote this explainer after Apple and Google announced new rules for quasi-neglected apps–and Apple’s first iteration was especially harsh and its revision of them still left app developers a little puzzled.

Updated 6/26/2022 to add the sports-streaming panel; I’m blaming Covid for my forgetting to note that before. 

The international-travel ritual I would very much like to have done for the last time

Staying up past midnight isn’t really part of my event routine these days, but I was determined to do that Tuesday night in Barcelona–not to enjoy any MWC nightlife, but so I could swirl a swab in each of nostrils while a stranger watched me do that via my phone’s camera.

I timed this quasi-exhibitionist performance to meet the Centers for Disease Control’s rule that air travelers to the United States provide a negative COVID-19 test administered no earlier than one day prior to travel. Because that’s one day, not 24 hours, my window to do this opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

And because I had packed a proctored version of Abbott’s BinaxNow antigen test$69.99 for a two-pack–I didn’t have to find a testing location open at that hour and could get this done in my Airbnb.

The experience felt slightly like I was recording a hostage video: After opening the Navica app this test employs, that app opened my phone’s browser to eMed’s site, which then asked for permission to open my phone’s camera so that my “guide” could walk me through the test, starting with me holding my passport before the camera and then keeping it in view.

You can imagine my relief at watching this test strip in the Abbott kit almost immediately show only one line and then stay that way, after which eMed e-mailed me a PDF that a Lufthansa check-in agent at BCN briefly inspected Thursday morning before printing my boarding pass.

Getting this negative result that quickly represented a major upgrade over the two other times I’ve had to get a COVID test to fly home, both of which took place when the CDC rule allowed a test three days before departure: a PCR test in Estonia last August that came back negative the next morning, and an antigen test in Portugal in November that only had me waiting an hour or so for an e-mail with a “Não detetado” PDF.

But every one of these tests also represented a waste of time. If requiring a negative test before boarding an international flight actually worked to slow the pandemic, every other country would make Americans do that before flying from the world’s COVID capital. But most don’t–I didn’t have to provide a negative test before flying to Spain through Germany a week ago.

Instead, it’s the U.S. government that imposed this requirement in the last days of the Trump administration last January. The pandemic subsequently hit never-before-seen peaks anyway, not because Americans with passports dared to use them but because too many of us still won’t get vaccinated. What this rule has done is inconvenience and worry travelers–and detain those unlucky enough to test positive overseas like Alexandria mayor Justin Wilson, who got to spend an extra week in a hotel room in Spain three months ago.

At the start of February, 29 airline, travel and business groups sent a letter to the White House asking the government to drop the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers. There are many times when trade assocations’ requests for regulatory relief deserve a skeptical reading, but this isn’t one of them. The CDC rule is a joke that was never funny, and it needs to go.