Weekly output: “TV Everywhere,” changing journalism, ad retargeting

All of the PR pitches for Mobile World Congress exhibits and events should have tipped me off, but it only really hit me this weekend that in two weeks, I’ll be in Barcelona for that show. Which, considering the number of things I’d like to have finished before then, is not entirely convenient.

Yahoo TV Everywhere post2/4/2014: ‘TV Everywhere’ Takes a Trip to Sochi, but Some Viewers Can’t Tag Along, Yahoo Tech

The launch of NBC’s expanded online coverage of the Winter Olympics gave me an opportunity to critique its practice of limiting Internet viewership to people who can authenticate their status as paying TV subscribers. What I didn’t realize at the time I wrote this: That NBC affiliate WRC’s over-the-air signal, once one of the strongest DTV broadcasts in the D.C. area, would be pretty much unwatchable this weekend. I’d like to know what changed there.

2/4/2014: media panel, PR Newswire

With Amy Webb and Edwin Warfield, I talked about the changing nature of journalism and whether I care for some current PR and social-media practices at a Baltimore conference for PR Newswire staffers. (I’m sure our discussion had a less generic title, but I forgot to write it down, and PR Newswire’s blog hasn’t posted the promised recap yet PR Newswire’s blog post, added Feb. 24th, doesn’t cite one either.)

2/9/2014: How does ad ‘retargeting’ work?, USA Today

I’d been thinking of doing an explainer about this increasingly common advertising strategy–where one site shows an ad for something you were viewing on another site minutes earlier–and then a friend’s Facebook comment gave me an excuse to write it.

On Sulia, I offered my first impressions of Facebook’s Paper app, kvetched about a security-certificate bug in OS X that seems to have gone three years without a fix, wondered why it takes so long to answer a call in Google+’s Hangouts app, wrote an insta-review of the Feedly-compatible ReadKit RSS app for OS X, and endorsed a site called CarFreeNearMe.com that plots out real-time info about nearby rail, bus, bikeshare and car-share options.

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Weekly output: data breaches, triple-play bills

I hear there’s some sort of football game scheduled for this evening that many Americans will watch to the exclusion of other things, so I’d better post this while it still has a potential audience.

Yahoo Tech data-breach politics1/27/2014: Weak Data-Breach Laws Leave Us All In A Compromised Position, Yahoo Tech

This critique of Congressional inaction and ill-thought action on data-breach issues wound up running on Data Privacy Day, basically due to dumb luck. In another bit of unintentional timing, three days later Yahoo reported a breach of some Yahoo Mail credentials from “a third-party database compromise.”

2/2/2014: Q&A: How can I lower my cable, Internet, phone bills?, USA Today

To judge from the number of times this post has been shared on Facebook and Twitter–not to mention the 43 comments it’s racked up as of this writing–I should cover telecom costs every week.

On Sulia, I decried a ridiculous argument against cities launching their own municipally-owned broadband networks, shared a recipe for looking up service costs at telecom sites that insist you cough up a street address before they’ll display a price, shared my first impressions of Cove’s low-cost co-working space in Logan Circle, denounced the way Patch sacked most of its underpaid and overworked local-news journalists while leaving its sites up as if nothing had happened, and wondered when enough phone thieves will realize that iOS 7′s Activation Lock reduces the resale value of stolen iPhones to zero.

 

Weekly output: 4K UHD TV, Tech Night Owl, stolen phones

This week was a lot less productive than I’d hoped, even factoring in Monday being a holiday and most of Tuesday’s schedule getting canceled out by snow and sub-freezing temperatures. I’m going to be paying for that this week.

1/20/2014: All of the Potential Problems with 4K TV, Yahoo Tech

This was set to be last week’s column until the net-neutrality ruling upended my schedule. Considering that nobody’s rushing out to buy UHD sets before the Super Bowl, I don’t think the delay hurt this post too much.

1/25/2014: January 25, 2014 — Adam Engst and Rob Pegoraro, Tech Night Owl

I returned to Gene Steinberg’s podcast to talk about my new role at Yahoo Tech, net neutrality, the Mac’s 30th birthday and more.

USAT stolen-phones update1/26/2014: Tip: Serial number can’t recover stolen smartphone, USA Today

Barely a year has elapsed since I’d last covered find-my-phone apps in my USAT column, but two major changes have come around since that piece: Google offering its own, free phone-finder app for Android, and increased attention to the lack of a persistent kill-switch feature for smartphones beyond iOS 7′s capability and Absolute Software’s aftermarket Lojack app for some Samsung Android devices. Besides, the reader asked for help nicely.

On Sulia, I noted my old Washington Post colleague Ezra Klein’s departure from the paper, voiced some anger about a Kafkaesque overreaction by law enforcement and the MPAA to somebody wearing Google Glass to a movie, griped about bad USB-port placement and the stubborn survival of obsolete music formats in cars shown off at the Washington Auto Show (yes, you’ve read those two rants before), and reported about my experience using Absolute’s software to wipe and lock a Galaxy Note 3.

Weekly output: net neutrality, teens on Facebook, Chrome and passwords

I had two stories this week show up online without the links I’d added. Since two different sites and CMSes were involved, I’m left with the conclusion that I’m personally snakebit. Or that I maxed out a monthly link quota that I didn’t know existed.

Yahoo Tech net-neutrality post1/14/2014: Why Is Tuesday’s Court Decision on Net Neutrality Such a Big Deal? And What Happens Next?, Yahoo Tech

This was not the column I’d originally written for this week, but when a federal court handed down a ruling Tuesday morning that gutted the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to enforce net-neutrality regulations, I had to drop everything and write an analysis of a result that I saw coming back in 2010. This post initially appeared without any of the links I’d added, for reasons nobody has been able to figure out; we fixed that earlier today.

1/16/2014: Rob Pegoraro, columnist for USA Today and Yahoo Tech, talks about teens dumping Facebook, WTOP

WTOP had me via Skype to talk about an iStrategyLabs report, based on usage data Facebook provides to advertisers, of declining teen Facebook use. About 10 minutes afterwards, I remembered that only two months ago, I’d heard about some enlightening research into teen social-media use that would have been useful to cite on the air.

1/19/2014: Why does Chrome ask for your Mac Keychain password?, USA Today

For the second time in three weeks, my USAT column dealt with a problem I’d experienced on my own computer–in this case, annoying Keychain prompts by the Mac version of Chrome. The column somehow got posted without any links; I’ll ask management about that.

On Sulia, I observed that Netflix’s data on average streaming rates across different ISPs showed how much viewing there involves lower resolutions, heaped scorn on the Weather Channel’s attempt to guilt DirecTV into paying a higher carriage fee, confessed to having a Digital Compact Cassette in my office, shared a fix for Evernote’s iPad app not digitizing scanned business cards, and complained about Netflix becoming unwatchably slow over my 15-Mbps Verizon Fios connection.

 

Weekly output: Alexis Ohanian, Snapchat, fitness gadgets, Mac webcam

As I type this, I’m on my way to my 17th CES in a row. My laptop and phone have advanced a great deal since 1998, that’s for sure.

DisCo Ohanian interview

1/2/2014: Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian: Current IP Laws Aren’t Much Of A Friend to Startups, Disruptive Competition Project

My final contribution at DisCo was an interview with Reddit’s founder, who’s since become both an investor and activist on many tech-policy issues. We talked about how a balanced intellectual-property system helped make Reddit possible–and how the same system doesn’t always offer much help for small companies whose own IP has been infringed.

1/2/2014: Snapchat experienced a security breach, WTOP

I talked to D.C.’s news-radio station about Snapchat’s inexcusably lax approach to security and how it’s harder to change a compromised phone number than a password.

1/3/2014: New fitness gadgets, Fox 5 News

WTTG’s Sarah Simmons quizzed me on what activity-tracking gadgets like the Jawbone Up and the FitBit can do to help you track your exercise–and how they’re at risk of being made obsolete by tools built into smartphones.

1/4/2014: Q&A: How can I re-install my laptop’s webcam?, USA Today

The column recounts how resetting my MacBook Air’s System Management Controller cured it of an inability to see its own webcam… except that when I opened the laptop this morning, the problem had returned. Either I didn’t do the SMC reset correctly, or this Mac has a deeper ailment. Either way, I hope I don’t have to Skype or FaceTime from this machine this week.

On Sulia, I inventoried the memes I ignored on Twitter this year (“Duck Dynasty” should have been on that list too, as I’ve never watched the show, have no interest in watching it and don’t care who’s on it), wondered why Google Now’s estimate of my cycling mileage in December missed my Capital Bikeshare rides, whined about Chrome asking for saved passwords on every restart (and then updated that post to share a fix), endorsed a great little Mac plug-in called “WordService” that adds editing tools to just about every other app, and teed off on Snapchat for its arrogant refusal to apologize.

Weekly output: online banking

A week split in half by a national holiday means I don’t have much to show for my work this time around. Don’t expect much over the coming week either–although I will be working on stories you’ll see later.

USAT online-banking column12/29/2013: Tip: How to bank safely online at home, USA Today

A reader asked one of those questions that seemed simple but unfolded to reveal enough other wrinkles to make for an interesting column to write. This post also gave me a chance to scold the big banks for not embracing two-step verification.

On Sulia, I shared details about two episodes of holiday tech support (one involving Time Machine’s inexplicable failure to clear old backups, another an aging AirPort’s apparent breakdown), pointed readers to a wonderful NASA recreation of Apollo 8′s unlikely “Earthrise” photo, panned Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel “The Circle” as “Atlas Shrugged” 2.0, and wrote up my first impressions of my in-laws’ Fiat 500e electric car.

Weekly output: Jared Polis, identity theft, tablets, phone unlocking, USB charging

Total CES PR pitches received this week: 119 (not counting e-mails from the Consumer Electronics Association itself).

DisCo Policy Forum12/10/2013: Q&A With Rep. Jared Polis (D-Co.), DisCo Policy Forum 2013

At the Disruptive Competition Project’s one-day conference, I quizzed one of the few representatives in Congress with a tech-startup background (he co-founded the e-greeting-card company Blue Mountain Arts site bluemountainarts.com) about issues like patent reform, NSA surveillance, immigration policy, and the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Left unanswered: Why I still get all of my Christmas cards in paper form.

12/12/2013: Evolution of ID Theft, State of ID Theft

I discussed trends in identity theft at the National Consumers League’s first conference devoted to the subject with Verizon security director Andy Bonillo, Hart Research Associates v.p. Abigail Davenport, Allan Friedman of the Brookings Institution, and assistant U.S. attorney general Zach Intrater. Surprising thing I learned: ID theft can be a slow and arduous line of work.

12/13/2013: #TabletChat Tablet Usage in Business Twitter Chat, IDG Mobility

Another busy hour of debating the finer points of tablet usage. I realized halfway through that I should have been performing my chat-host duties on a tablet instead of a tablet–not for intellectual-integrity reasons, but because I was eating lunch as I typed, and it’s easier to wipe crumbs off a screen than to brush them out of a keyboard.

12/13/2013: Unlocking Phones Is One Thing, Unlocking DMCA Regulatory Capture Is Another, Disruptive Competition Project

The major wireless carrier’s agreement to unlock paid-up phones–and to tell their customers when they’ve unlocked that option–has some serious limits, but it still represents a remarkable reversal of where we were 11 months ago, not to mention five years ago.

12/15/2013: Tips on charging devices with your laptop, USA Today

A reader asked a simple question–how do I know if my laptop will charge my phone when asleep–that did not have a simple answer. The column also includes a reminder to check your laptop’s touchpad settings.

On Sulia, I questioned a dubious cable-industry Web ad campaign, shared details of a conversation I had with FreedomPop’s COO about my tepid review of its service, decried the communication breakdown behind Twitter’s quickly-reversed weakening of its “block” feature, pointed readers to an interesting password-testing site mentioned at NCL’s ID-theft conference, and denounced the idea of Sprint angling to buy T-Mobile.

12/17/2013: Corrected Polis’s bio and added a link to video of the ID-theft panel.

Weekly output: Energy Star, holiday shopping, consumer-vs-enterprise mobile apps, cable competition, FreedomPop, backup services

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone! I hope it finds you well.

11/25/2013: Plugged-In with ENERGY STAR – EPA’s Consumer Electronics Podcast, Energy Star

I talked about electrical consumption in new and old gadgets on this podcast put out by the EPA’s Energy Star program with host and EPA spokeswoman Brittney Gordon, Samantha Nevels of the Consumer Electronics Association and Energy Star managers Una Song and Verena Radulovic.

11/26/2013: Let the Black Friday madness begin, Voice of Russia American Edition

I talked for a few minutes about the intersection of holiday marketing and consumer electronics (disclosures: a friend is a producer in their D.C. office).

11/26/2013: Navigating the Enterprise-Consumer Collision Course, Enterprise Mobile Hub

IDG Enterprise’s sponsored Twitter chat focused on how enterprise and consumer mobile apps can learn from each other.

11/26/2013: How One Local Cable Monopoly Can Compete With Another, Disruptive Competition Project

If Comcast buys Time Warner Cable or teams up with another cable operator to engulf TWC, no one TV viewer will gain or lose any cable-TV choices–but the subscription-TV business as a whole will still lose some important forms of competition.

PCMag Freedom Hub Burst review11/27/2013: Freedom Hub Burst (FreedomPop), PCMag

This home wireless-broadband router offers decent speeds–in the relatively few parts of the country with WiMax coverage–but FreedomPop’s creepy, sketchy Web presentation of the service really bothered me. Memo to marketers everywhere: Making visitors cough up both e-mail and street addresses just to see prices is a profoundly stupid way to introduce yourself to customers.

12/1/2013: How to choose a good backup system, USA Today

I was overdue to compare online backup services, and Comcast’s shuttering of its own offering gave me an excuse to test-drive Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan and Mozy. One issue I’ve realized since filing this piece: Carbonite eats an awful lot of processor cycles on my Mac. Another: good deals on Backblaze and Mozy through Monday.

My Sulia microblogging was mostly Thanksgiving-themed, with one post comparing Google Maps and MapQuest’s performance on the rather gruesome drive up and four about family tech support (updating my mom’s Mac, introducing my father-in-law to Android Device Manager, fixing my sister-in-law’s iPhone-driver problem, freeing up space on my wife’s iPad). I also found time to visit one of Google’s “Winter Wonderlab” exhibits at a nearby mall, leading to the slow-mo video you can watch after the jump.

Updated 12/3 when I realized I’d forgotten to mention the Energy Star podcast.

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