Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nanopore Community Meeting 2018: The Clive Report

Given it's late and I just dashed through a classic San Francisco downpour, I'm going to mostly stick to covering Clive Brown's talk tonight.  Within it there were a number of announcements, and for anyone following this space I get to point out things I've proposed in the past that are moving to fruition as well as recent statements I made that were quite erroneous.

Also note that tweets during his talk have been collected by ONT into a Twitter Moment

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Few Things Before Nanopore Community Meeting Begins

Nanopore Community Meeting begins within the hour.  San Francisco is spectacular as ever -- Alcatraz Island disappearing into the fog as I fiddled with camera settings, the spectacular Bay Bridge spans are visible from the the breakfast area and I even got to see some notable locals on my walk over from the hotel

Hans Jansen was kind enough to remind me by tweet of a couple of missed topics in my preview piece.  So let's cover them!.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nanopore Community Meeting 2018 Preview

Okay, now that I'm done venting -- for now -- about ONT's customer service experience  (well, almost done -- they sent me the same damn letter they sent my colleague -- why were they several hours apart???) -- let's move on to the Nanopore Community Meeting.  Technically it started today with the training session, but I'm not heading out until tonight.  At the first one of these in NYC Oxford tried to avoid making any announcements, but they seem to now like having two major focus times a year sometimes supplemented with Clive Brown webinars in between.  Here are some

How Not Do Think Like A Customer: Examples from ONT and AMZN

I'd planned today to use some downtime to write up a preview of the Nanopore Community Meeting which I am attending tomorrow and Thursday.  I might still do that, but the same organization just engaged in the sort of customer engagement that drives me batty (yeah, twisting the lion's tail before entering their den -- smart move or what?) and it reminded me of another lousy experience I had recently with a very prominent company: Amazon.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Failure: The Real Secret Sauce of Engineering

I took one swing at Vijay Pande's overly rosy piece on applying engineering methods to biology and medicine and similar minded efforts were published by Ash Jogalekar at Curious Wavefunction and Derek Lowe at In The Pipeline. Perhaps I shouldn't make another go, but it is a new excuse to explore an old fascination of mine.  Pande's subhead was "Billion-dollar bridges rarely fail -- whereas billion-dollar drug failures are routine".  I can't argue that.  Actually, it would seem from an informal search that billion dollar bridges are actually much rarer than billion dollar drug development programs.  Obviously they exist -- I've traversed the new Tappan Zee Bridge which came in over $3B.  On the other hand, a second crossing at perhaps the most notorious spot in bridge engineering history, the Tacoma Narrows, was built earlier in this century for only $0.8B.  What I wish to explore are the failures of bridges and other structures of any cost, as it is the analysis of failures that frequently propels engineering forwards.  That analysis is enabled by the relative simplicity of human engineering and the artifacts it uses and creates.  Conversely, analyzing the failure of new drugs is nothing like that.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

No, the Groves Fallacy Can't be Retired Yet

Vijay Pande has a thought-provoking piece in Scientific American on the Groves Fallacy, though in the end I'm afraid mostly what he provokes in me is the thought that he's in most cases pretty far off base. Titled "How to Engineer Biology", he claims that the Grove Fallacy -- the idea that biology can't be tamed by engineering -- is quickly being put to rest.  And Pande isn't some naive Silicon Valley type, but a professor at Stanford whose lab works in experimental biology.  So he has some street cred -- but that doesn't mean he isn't mostly wrong.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Illumina Buys PacBio: More Thoughts

Illumina surprised pretty much everyone in the genomics community by announcing the purchase of Pacific Biosciences.  I had spent Thursday deep in the weeds of a combined PacBio-ONT-Illumina dataset, so was caught completely by surprise on my commute home by an email asking for my comment.  If you do want to hear hot takes on it from myself and AllSeq's Shawn Baker, Theral Timpson over at Mendelspod interviewed us that night.  There has of course been much discussion of the deal and tributes.   I've had the weekend to ponder things, and here are some somewhat better thought out and detailed comments -- though I don't believe I've retreated from any of the themes in the podcast.  I've grouped the thoughts into a few themes.