Weekly output: Kindle Unlimited, international bandwidth, This Week In Law, HDMI CEC vs. Blu-ray

I enjoyed seeing something I wrote on my own time get a little publicity through no effort of my own.

Yahoo Kindle Unlimited post7/22/2014: The Kindle Conundrum: Should You Rent or Buy Digital Stuff?, Yahoo Tech

I compared Amazon’s new subscription-reading option to the D.C. public library’s e-book catalog and found it wanting.

7/25/2014: A SIM Card Can Be Your New Best Friend When Traveling Abroad, NowU

My second piece for this new Gannett site offered advice about getting connected overseas.

7/25/204:#268: Ease Up Dude!, This Week In Law

I talked about e-book DRM, the fair-use defense, and other intersections of the law and technology on my first appearance on this policy-minded podcast since last year.

7/27/2014: Tips on fixing a buggy Blu-ray player, USA Today

This week’s column was more explanation than solution. If you have a fix for a Sony Blu-ray player that turns on by itself when shut down with a disc inside, please enlighten me.

About these ads

Weekly output: Cable WiFi, travel WiFi, Internet governance, phone lanes, Find My iPhone vs. Android

In one way or another, wireless technology figured in all of my stories this week. But why should this week be any different from others?

7/15/2014: With Cable WiFi, Your Modem Is My Hotspot, Yahoo Tech

I’ve been working on this column for a while–my e-mail correspondence for it goes back weeks–and for once, the news cycle obliged by not throwing any breaking tech news at me on a Monday. I’m still trying to figure out how so many people say they hate the idea of Comcast turning their leased modem into a public hot spot but so few (according to Comcast) opt out of it.

7/15/2014: How to Stop (or Start) Sharing Your Internet Connection with Strangers, Yahoo Tech

To go with the column, I wrote a quick explainer about how to turn off Comcast’s Home Hotspot–or set up an openwireless.org guest account for anybody to use.

NowU domestic-bandwidth story7/15/2014: What You Need to Know About Staying Connected in the U.S., NowU

This Gannett site for empty nesters officially launched on Tuesday, but if you’d thought to visit that site on Sunday you could have read my advice on traveling bandwidth then.

7/16/2014: Issues Raised by New Technology: Policy Slam, Internet Governance Forum USA 2014

This part of this daylong conference at George Washington University was an audience-participation event: People were invited to step up to the podium and share their ideas about Internet-governance issues that we ought to focus on, and then I and the other judges picked ones to debate further and offered our own comments about them.

7/17/2014: Cellphone Talkers Get Their Own Sidewalk Lane in D.C., Yahoo Tech

A bit of an experiment staged for an upcoming National Geographic TV show led to this extra post (so, my thanks to NatGeo for the upcoming extra income). The piece got a blurb on the Yahoo home page, so this may have been seen by more people than anything else I’ve written. And then it got a BeyondDC/Greater Greater Washington writeup, which was also nice.

7/20/2014: Get a browser to work where it’s not welcome, USA Today

This column pretty much wrote itself once I realized Apple’s short-sighted and easily-circumvented decision to block Android browsers from its Find My iPhone page matched the New York Post’s foolish attempt to keep iPad users from reading its Web site.

Weekly output: online movies, transparency reports, Bitcoin, CES (x2), Google Voice MMS

Yahoo Tech launched on Tuesday during Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s CES keynote–for a guide to the site, check out David Pogue’s welcome letter and introductory video, the latter featuring a two-second clip of me saying “hello, world”–which meant that a lot of writing done earlier could finally go public. As for articles written during CES about the show, I didn’t have any this year. You can blame that on my not selling any to paying clients before the show, then getting sick with some kind of bug that had me in a daze for much of Monday and operating at a reduced speed the next day.

(Scroll after the jump for a slideshow of my Flickr photos from CES.)

Yahoo Tech online-movies post1/7/2014: Want To Watch This Year’s Best Movies Online? Too Bad., Yahoo Tech

I repeated an old experiment–seeing how many of a critic’s best movies of the year could be legally streamed or downloaded online–but expanded it to include the previous year’s critic’s picks and the top-grossing movies for those two years. I thought the state of online movie availability would look better with that more generous sample set; I was wrong.

1/7/2014: Verizon And AT&T Are No Longer Blind To Transparency. Get Excited!, Yahoo Tech

Here, I set out to explain why it’s a big deal, and a positive development, for AT&T and Verizon to say they’ll follow the example of Internet companies by posting “transparency reports” documenting how often they field law-enforcement inquiries about their customers.

1/7/2014: Okay, Seriously: What The Heck Is Bitcoin, And Why Do So Many People Prefer It To Dollars And Cents?, Yahoo Tech

My research for this column concluded with my purchase of $5 in Bitcoin via an ATM set up at a CES reception–arguably, one of the sketchier things I’ve done in Vegas.

1/7/2014: 3 Trends From CES Week That Could Soon Change Your Life, The Motley Fool

The Fool’s Rex Moore interviewed me halfway through press-conference day about 4K TVs, curved TVs, wearable devices and other trends at the show.

1/10/2014: Wowed by many things at the Consumer Electronics Show, WTOP

My voice was nearly shot by the time I did this interview at 6:40 local time Friday morning.

1/12/2014: Some carriers allow photo messages on Google Voice, USA Today

Google added support for multimedia messages sent from T-Mobile numbers back in November, and I didn’t even realize it at the time thanks to Google electing to have the news broken by a product manager in a Google+ post.

I used Sulia to share updates from CES: this year’s odd fetish for curved gadgets, Intel’s pledge to ship processors free of conflict minerals, using a 3Doodler pen to draw in three dimensions, eyeballing LG’s revival of webOS as a TV interface, a “capacitive coupling” demo that essentially turned my body into a USB cable, whether connected cars should have their own bandwidth or borrow your phone’s, and ways activity-tracking wristbands can stay relevant when phones can be good-enough activity trackers.

Continue reading

Weekly output: NSA pushback, Twitter and Facebook abuse

I had meant to write an essay for the Disruptive Competition Project on this week’s Techonomy conference–but the post that seemed easy when I pitched it to my editors turned out to be anything but once I started trying to string words together. After spending about all of Friday bashing the piece into shape over multiple rewrites, I filed it so late that the post would have gone up at news-dump time. Fortunately, management elected to save it for Monday.

(So now I’ll probably take another whack at this post later tonight.)

11/12/2013: Responses To NSA Snooping: Security, Litigiousness And A Little Profanity, Disruptive Competition Project

I’d meant to write something earlier about the “it’s only self-serving, manufactured outrage” critique of tech companies publicizing their disapproval of the NSA’s snooping, and the latest round of creepy revelations (combined with the f-bombs being tossed around in Google+ rants by infuriated Google engineers) gave me an excuse to address this issue.

USAT Twitter and Facebook abuse11/17/2013: How to report an abusive user on Twitter, USA Today

A question from a reader about a Twitter abuser trying to hide the evidence of her misdeeds and a friend’s account of somebody impersonating his dad on Facebook while apparently blocking him from reporting the violation led to this post. Both of these companies need to fix some bugs, or at a minimum revise misleading directions, in their abuse-reporting systems. Since nobody seems to have called out these problems before, I’m a little happier than usual with this post.

On Sulia, I shared details from a couple of interesting talks at Techonomy (one on voting, another on Microsoft security), provided 30 turns of phrase you can use instead of the “disrupt,” shared what it takes to put somebody in my contacts list and explained how a promising feature in OS X Mavericks’ Calendar app turned out to be near-useless to me.

 

Weekly output: flash storage pricing, Tech Night Owl, uninstalling Windows 8.1, Win 8 recovery drives

One of the highlights of my week was not having to write a single story about Twitter’s IPO–a financial story I’m not especially qualified to report, and a financial opportunity in which I can’t ethically participate anyway. I had meant to use some of the time freed up by not blogging obsessively about $TWTR to get another post done… and that didn’t happen.

DisCo flash-memory pricing post11/5/2013: In A Flash, You’ve Overpaid For A Storage Upgrade, Disruptive Competition Project

This post started with some lingering frustration of my own and then seemed confirmed by a Facebook thread about friends about the same topic–but then I had to give the draft another run through the typewriter when it came out as too simplistic and repetitive. (I hope that’s not still the case.)

11/9/2013: Bryan Chaffin, Rob Pegoraro, and Kirk McElhearn, Tech Night Owl

I was one of the guests on Gene Steinberg’s podcast. We talked about Microsoft’s future, OS X Mavericks and its Gmail-sync issues, and the state of the Web-mail market.

11/10/2013: How to uninstall Windows 8.1, USA Today

Reader e-mail after an earlier USAT column about Win 8.1 led to this one. I enjoyed borrowing some insight for this post from my friend Ed Bott, ZDNet’s longtime Windows expert.

On Sulia, I complained yet again about the WinVote electronic voting machines that apparently refuse to die in my county, complimented Apple for posting a detailed transparency report, noted the unexpected emergence of Google+ as Googlers’ favorite place to rant about the NSA, confirmed that an Apple update fixes Gmail synchronization in Mavericks, and revisited HealthCare.gov with unsatisfying results.

How a Samsung phone and an iPad mini don’t mix

After accidentally invoking Siri on my iPad mini for the fifth time this morning, it hit me: The proprietary layout of buttons on the Samsung Galaxy Note II that I just reviewed is making me stupider at using Apple’s mobile devices.

ImageSamsung veers from the lineup of Android system buttons that Google established with last year’s Ice Cream Sandwich release: Instead of back, home and recent apps, arranged left to right, Samsung’s Android phones offer menu, home and back buttons. (LG also departs from the Android standard, but its back-home-menu array keeps the back button in the expected place.) To see your open apps, you have to press and hold the home button.

On my iPad mini, that same gesture opens Siri, while I have to tap the home button twice to see open apps.

(Yes, when I first wrote about ICS, I was skeptical about removing the menu button and thought that requiring a long press of home to see open apps was good enough. I was wrong: I rarely miss the menu button, while I hit the recent-apps button all the time.)

It’s an exasperating situation, and if I were to get a Samsung Android phone and keep my iPad I’d have to waste brain cells on memorizing this unnecessary difference. You can’t remap the system buttons on a Samsung phone or change Apple’s home-button behavior;  if you disable Siri a long press of the home button will instead bump you over to iOS’s search.

If, on the other hand, I get a phone with the regular ICS buttons–many vendors alter Google’s interface in other ways but stick with that lineup–I face a lot less confusion. At worst, I’d find myself pressing the phone’s home button twice and having nothing happen, which beats launching an unwanted app and hearing Siri’s “ding-ding” prompt.

So that’s one thing that I know will govern my next phone purchase.

Live-tweet archive, Google I/O 2012 keynote (skydive edition)

SAN FRANCISCO–After years of hoping and wondering if the day would ever come, I finally got to use the words “zeppelin” and “wingsuit” in a story. My excuse was Google’s opening keynote for its I/O 2012 developers conference. When I last covered I/O in 2010, it was a sometimes boring event spiced up mainly by networking meltdowns.
This time around, however, Google staged a group skydive onto the roof of the Moscone Center–streamed live from the Project Glass augmented-reality, Web-connected eyewear worn by the four skydivers. This was easily the craziest stunt I’ve ever seen pulled at a tech event, as I noted in a post for Discovery News, and the crowd went understandably nuts. (The photo above shows the skydivers walking into the hall.) If you want to read about how it felt, an archived version of my livetweeting, including a few updates from others I retweeted, follows after the jump.

Weekly output: Cookies and IP addresses, memes, Aereo, new iPad, SXSW

First SXSW ate up a chunk of my schedule, then a bizarre laptop malfunction on the way to the conference left me offline for most of a day. (On the first flight Friday, I realized that the keyboard wasn’t registering some keystrokes, then realized that it was no mere freak software malfunction; the entire damn thing is broken. Hi-larious.) So I’ve got less writing to my name than on average, much less compared to a week ago, and this recap comes to you a day late.

3/4/2012:  How Online Marketers Target You, USA Today

This week’s column explains two ways that advertisers can track you–or, more exactly, your computers and individual browsers on them. (Recommended follow-up reading: Atlantic tech writer Alexis Madrigal’s extended analysis of how close ad tracking might get to piercing the veil provided when sites only know us by IP addresses and cookies.) I also endorse using a site called Know Your Meme to figure out what all those crazy kids online are talking about this week.

3/7/2012: The Aereo Scenario: A TV Tune-Up On Trial, CEA Digital Dialogue

This research for this post began almost a year ago. One of my last acts as a Post reporter was a dinner meeting with the founders of a company then called Bamboom Labs, which hoped to bring over-the-air TV to reception-starved New Yorkers via the Internet. Since then the company has launched and drawn the inevitable lawsuits from broadcasters, and I’m not thrilled with the idea of banning a company from trying to sell what amounts to a better antenna. An express-permission-required economy is no formula for innovation.

3/7/2012: Things Unsaid In Apple’s New iPad News, Discovery News

In case you hadn’t heard, Apple sells a popular tablet computer called the iPad, and it announced a new version on Wednesday. Here, I take a look at some of the tradeoffs Apple made to upgrade this thing’s screen and camera resolutions and wireless data speeds–I’m particularly impressed with how much more battery capacity it holds on the inside.

3/10/2012: Why Doesn’t Congress Grok The Internet?, SXSW

Sadly, there’s no transcript or video of my session. But you can follow the real-time recaps of audience members by searching for the two Twitter hashtags the conference organizers suggested, #sxgroknet and #groknet.

Update, 3/24/2012: Since those Twitter links have expired, I used Topsy’s search tool to dig up those tweets; you can now read them in chronological order after the jump.

Continue reading

Weekly output: iPhone SIM locks, VLC, Sonic.net (2x), big-screen phones, saving energy,

Remember when I wrote a few weeks ago that I’d been working on some longer features? The results of that effort surfaced this week, adding up to 6,620 words published under my byline and making me look far more productive than I was.

I also gave a talk about e-book DRM Tuesday, one of Lisa Schaefer’s ongoing “Future of Books” meetups around the D.C. area, but there doesn’t seem to be a transcript or recording of that.

2/26/2012: How to unlock your iPhone 4S for world travel, USA Today

This was going to be my contribution to the paper’s site two weeks ago, but Verizon needed more time to get its story straight. To answer the “why didn’t you just tell people to jailbreak their iPhones” question: USAT is a general-interest publication, and I don’t know of any jailbreak that works on the iPhone 4S with the current 5.1 version of iOS–your odds seem iffy even on the 5.01 release. This column also endorses using the open-source VLC to play DVDs purchased overseas…which, I admit, may not exactly be a general-interest topic.

2/26/2012: Gigabit Internet for $70: the unlikely success of California’s Sonic.net, Ars Technica

One typo aside, I enjoyed the hell out of reporting this story. Knocking on doors to talk to strangers, multiple rounds of interviews with sources, writing dozens of column inches’ worth of copy, having some material left over in my notes afterwards–this felt more like traditional newspaper journalism than anything I did at the Post in my last few years there. It was also a treat to write for a site that I’ve cited and appreciated for such a long time. (Trivia: I quoted Ars Technica founder Ken Fisher in a July 28, 2000 column for the Post about the joys of upgrading one’s computer.)

I then went on to write a few hundred words more responding to comments about the site on Ars and in Reddit’s thread about the piece.

2/29/2012: Big Screens Are For TVs, Not Phones, CEA Digital Dialogue

If you think oversized smartphones like the Galaxy Note I took to task last week are an aberration, prepare to be surprised. Manufacturers are gearing up to ship a lot more phones with screens 4.5 inches or larger, as I found out after consulting a DisplaySearch analyst. (That conversation also yielded a useful tip about extending battery life on devices with OLED screens, which you may soon see in my USA Today column.) For those curious about the measuring implement in the photo I took: It’s an old printer’s ruler, which puts the Note’s screen at 32 picas.

2/29/2012: Surfing at a Billion Bits Per Second, Discovery News

I used some of those leftover notes from the Ars piece for this shorter post for Discovery about the experience of using that connection, based on my own tests in late December and subsequent e-mails with some of subscribers. As I was writing this, I posted the photos I took back then to Flickr so I could link to one in the story. When foxnews.com showed up as a referrer in my stats there a day later, I discovered that Fox (with which Discovery has a content-sharing arrangement) had reposted the piece.

2/29/2012: Gamification: Green tech makes energy use a game—and we all win, Ars Technica

When I first pitched Ars on the idea of doing a feature on Sonic, I didn’t know they were already preparing to ask me if I’d be interested in writing a feature on the topic of how better data and game mechanics might help us save energy. This was a lot of fun to put together as well… I guess I’d forgotten about the rewards of long-form journalism. I’m glad that I now have the time to do these things.

Weekly output: Google directions and social isolation, 2011 in review, telling the tech future

Another holiday-shortened week, another holiday-shortened list of stories. That’s okay: Spending next week at CES should more than make up for my recent idle time.

1/1/2012: Today’s tip: Get the most out of Google Maps, USA Today

Full disclosure: When I leave my house, I carry a Metro SmarTrip card and keys to my house and my bike–plus, as of two weeks ago, one for Capital Bikeshare–but not my car. (Why would I do otherwise? If my car is anywhere but my driveway or our block when I step off the porch, something’s gone wrong.) So I’ve appreciated Google’s moves to provide directions to people traveling by rail, bus or bike. The Q&A part of this week’s column digs into some sociological research and my own experience to offer a non-cynical answer to the question “is technology just isolating us from each other?”

1/4/2012: 7 Tech Stories for 2011 and 2012, CEA Digital Dialogue

The year-in-review column may be a crutch for tech journalists to lean on during the slow week or two between Christmas and CES, but that doesn’t mean it can’t provide a useful opportunity to pull some sense out of the last 12 months’ worth of headlines–and see where those stories might go in the new year. At the risk of ruining whatever suspense this post might contain: Sorry, I think Congress will continue to demonstrate a certain… lack of finesse when it comes to tech policy.

1/5/2012: 5 Tech Advances That Might Arrive In 2012, Discovery News

Speaking of new-year columns, this one outlines five long-hyped technological breakthroughs that people might be able to buy this year: glasses-free 3-D TVs, portable fuel cells, color e-ink displays, battery-friendly LTE smartphones and big-screen OLED TVs. (Whether they’ll want to buy these things is another matter.) To judge from reader reactions and chatter on other sites, fuel cells top many people’s wish lists–but I’ll believe that when I’ve got a review unit ready to take on a weekend out of town.