Weekly output: smartwatch etiquette, Kojo Nnamdi Show, Android tips, finding an ISP

With the arrival of August, I’m supposed to be able to slack off now that everybody with more sense temporarily flees D.C. Somehow I doubt things will work out that easily. 7/29/2014: Smartwatch Etiquette: We’re Making It Up as We Go, Yahoo Tech

Does wearing a smartwatch mean I no longer have to be the annoying person who’s always checking his phone, or does it turn me into the annoying person who’s always checking his smartwatch?

7/29/2014: A Short History of Gadget Hate, Yahoo Tech

I enjoyed putting together this sidebar listing past denunciations of wearable technology, from the watch itself to the Sony Walkman.

Kojo Nnamdi travel-tech show7/29/2014: Travel Tech for a Great Vacation, The Kojo Nnamdi Show

I talked about airfare- and hotel-search sites, out-of-town bandwidth, navigation apps and other travel-tech topics with National Geographic Traveler editor Keith Bellows and Washington Post travel writer Andrea Sachs.

8/1/2014: 9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Android, Yahoo Tech

The little Android crash-test-dummy toy in the picture atop this post was a giveaway at last year’s Google I/O conference. More interesting than yet another screen shot, don’t you think?

8/3/2014: How to find the best Internet service provider, USA Today

A friend’s question about replacing his wretched EarthLink DSL led me to realize how the lack of competition in broadband seems to have dried up the market for find-an-ISP sites. (Not that I miss the insane amount of work I sank into compiling directories of local ISPs for the Post.)

Weekly output: Net neutrality, iPhone theft

NEW YORK–I’m writing this much later in the day than usual, on account of having a late Saturday night of WHCD silliness that was followed by a prolonged and pleasant brunch hosted by my client Yahoo. And then the Acela’s WiFi, which has been pretty reliable lately, was barely usable, thwarting my hopes of getting this post done on the way up here: Up next: three days of startup demos, panels and keynotes at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Yahoo net-neutrality post4/29/2014:  The FCC Appears to be Letting ‘Net Neutrality’ Die. Here’s Why That Matters., Yahoo Tech

I was one of a minority of journalists to not crucify FCC chair Tom Wheeler for his proposal to reconstitute a diminished set of net-neutrality regulations that would allow Internet providers to charge sites extra for faster delivery of their content. But I did say that the FCC had to do a much better job of explaining this idea and related proposals, which Wheeler then did in a blog post that afternoon.

5/4/2014: Will Apple’s ‘kill switch’ tamp down iPhone thefts?, USA Today

After two friends had their iPhones stolen in D.C., I had to wonder when the ability of Apple’s Activation Lock to render a stolen phone permanently unusable would start to deter iPhone theft. This column also gave me a chance to note the wireless industry’s recent commitment to offer kill-switch systems for other phones.

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Weekly output: Sprint-T-Mobile, Tech Night Owl, iMessage

I was a lot more productive than usual this week (much of that activity went into a project that’s not ready to post yet), even though I lost all of Monday to travel. Funny how that works…

3/25/2014: Dear Feds: Hang Up on a Sprint/T-Mobile Merger, Yahoo Tech

I still don’t know if Sprint is going to try to go through with what seems a phenomenally bad idea, but I wanted to go on the record about my dislike of further consolidation of the four big wireless carriers. I also thought this was a good time to denounce the idea that government regulators can manage away the risks of mega-mergers by imposing complicated conditions on the conduct of the combined firm; saying “no” is easier, cheaper and permanent.

3/29/2014: March 29, 2014 — Rick Broida, Daniel Eran Dilger and Rob Pegoraro, Tech Night Owl

I made one of my occasional appearances on Gene Steinberg’s Apple-centric podcast; we talked about the arrival of Microsoft Office on the iPad and my column on Sprint-T-Mobile.

USAT column on iMessage mess3/30/2014: iMessage: How to make it stop, USA Today

I’ve been hearing complaints from friends and acquaintances for at least the last year about how switching from an iPhone to a non-Apple device (especially if that switch happens after the loss or theft of the iPhone in question) causes text messages from friends on other iPhones to vanish. I finally looked into this for my column and found things were even worse than I’d thought: You can have messages go down a black hole even if you do things right, Apple’s documentation is woefully incomplete, and the company’s tech support can’t be relied on to play by even the undocumented rules.

Note that until we can get a revision in, the column describes one aspect of iMessage incorrectly: I wrote that iMessage-routed messages appear in green bubbles and regular texts show up in blue when it’s the other way around. If Apple fans seize on that error to call the rest of the column into question–well, they’d be wrong, but it’s still my job to get the details right.

Weekly output: Comcast-TWC, disk corruption

BARCELONA–One of the nicer things about this line of work is having to go here for Mobile World Congress. I’m in this city through Thursday to cover that show and see what it tells me about where the phone business is headed; look for my first take on that Tuesday at Yahoo Tech.

Yahoo Comcast-TWC post

2/18/2014: The Comcast/TWC Merger: As Big Cable Gets Bigger, Your Bill Will, Too, Yahoo Tech

Yahoo got an excellent value for their money with this column–at least in the money-per-word sense. It ballooned to 1,500 or so words as I kept writing; after some pruning, it still clocked in at 1,341 words. Biggest surprise since the column posted: no reader e-mail on this issue at all.

2/23/2014: How to salvage data from a hard drive, USA Today

This week’s question came from a reader I’ve known online since Post days, and whom I finally met in person last year; I was glad I could provide useful suggestions when he asked for help with a failing hard drive. There’s also a tip about using a wireless router to host a backup volume, leavened with a warning about a remote-access vulnerability in one well-regarded model that I happen to own.

On Sulia, I questioned Comcast’s “fastest in-home WiFi” sales pitch, suggested the FCC’s passing reference to investigating barriers to municipal broadband was the most interesting part of its revived net-neutrality agenda, mocked some impressively ill-targeted ads on Facebook, complained about United’s primitive routine for cashing in a discount companion-travel certificate, and then complimented the airline for providing a workaround through its Twitter customer service.

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: Washington Post sale (x3), TWC vs. CBS, iPhone apps, lost and found phones

August is supposed to be a slow news month in D.C., but somebody forgot to remind the owners of the Washington Post about that.

8/6/2013: Bezos Brings Patient Capital to the Post; It Needs Bold, Persistent Experimentation Too, Disruptive Competition Project

My first take on the pending sale of my former employer to Jeff Bezos for $250 million looked at the possible upsides of the Amazon founder owning the business. (My second one ran here.) I find Bezos’s willingness to invest in costly ventures that may take decades to pay off, such as the private-spaceflight firm Blue Origin, heartening, but he doesn’t have much of a public record in standing up to government pressure on national-security issues.

WJLA spot on Post sale8/6/2013: Bezos’ influence on the Post, according to tech experts, ABC 7 News

WJLA’s Steve Chenevey–who interviewed me a few times at his old employer, Fox 5 News–asked me for some perspective about the Bezos sale on the Tuesday evening news. You can also see iStrategyLabs CEO Peter Corbett and 1776 co-founder Evan Burfield opine on the news in this report.

8/8/2013: The Hostage-Taking Foolishness of Retransmission Fights, Disruptive Competition Project

This unpacking of CBS’s squabble with Time Warner Cable over how much TWC should pay for the right to retransmit its local stations recycled much of my coverage of the 2010 retransmission fight between Cablevision and Fox–because the TV industry is recycling much of the stupidity of that “retrans” fight.

8/10/2013: How to bring iOS apps back to your home screen, USA Today

This explanation of how iPhone or iPad apps can appear to disappear almost needed a correction. But on Saturday I realized that a passing reference to how many apps you can put in a folder was incorrect (in fact, the limit varies by device), I e-mailed my editor to suggest we drop that detail, and she promptly fixed the piece. In other news, my editor is kind of awesome.

On Sulia, I complimented how everyone involved with the Post sale was able to keep a lid on the news beforehand, cast a little scorn on one story of many to suggest that Bezos’s involvement might finally allow the Post to put in place some obvious upgrades, and reported on my initial experiences with Twitter’s new login verification and Google’s Android Device Manager find-my-phone service.

Weekly output: “free WiFi” (x2), 1776, Facebook Graph Search, Facebook and Twitter apps

My former employer collided with my current work this week, courtesy of the Post’s front-page story Monday heralding the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to open some broadband-friendly frequencies to unlicensed use. My former cubicle-mate Cecilia Kang’s piece phrased things much more expansively than that, especially before the jump, and then things got out of control as people spun the story as “free WiFi for everyone!”

(If you want to hate tech journalism, there’s your reason: Competing sites couldn’t spend 10 minutes reading the FCC filings to understand the story for themselves and instead rushed to post their own breathless interpretations of Kang’s piece. Worse yet, most of them haven’t bothered to correct the errant results of this game of telephone.)

2/4/2013: FCC Plan to Provide Free Wireless a Long “Complicated” Process, Voice of Russia American Edition

This AM station in D.C. (a friend works as a producer there) had me on Monday to talk about the Post’s story; I did what I could to explain that there is no actual FCC plan for free WiFi, just a framework that could, maybe, make it easier for some companies to offer no-charge wireless access in certain locations.

DisCo FCC no-free WiFi post2/5/2013: Free As In Unlicensed: Why The FCC Isn’t Giving Away Wireless Service To Anybody, Disruptive Competition Project

After spending much of Monday on the phone and in e-mail with various tech-policy types to make sure I hadn’t missed some fundamental shift in the FCC’s positions, I explained what the FCC actually is proposing and how it ties into a larger problem in telecom: the lack of competition in residential broadband.

2/8/2013: Older City ISO Hot Young Tech Startups, Disruptive Competition Project

On Wednesday, I attended an open-house event for a startup incubator, 1776, that’s scheduled to open its doors next month with backing from the District government. Under that clickbait headline (my fault!), I put this in the context of how other cities and regions have tried to make themselves into startup hubs but have neglected to follow California’s practice of making almost all noncompete clauses unenforceable. Ending an employer’s veto power over an employee’s next job makes it vastly easier for talent to chase interesting problems, and I’d like to see other states follow that example.

2/10/2013: Tip: Control Facebook exposure by friending folks you know, USA Today

I held off writing much about Facebook’s Graph Search until I sat down with Facebook’s product manager in the social network’s D.C. office to learn what this tool does and does not index–and how people’s selective disclosure can further skew its results. (Appropriately enough, this discussion about unsent signals happened on the one day I forgot to put on my wedding ring before leaving the house.) The column wraps up with a reminder to clean out old and unused Facebook and Twitter apps.

On Sulia, my week included a recap of my experience attending a screening at the Motion Picture Association of America’s offices, two gripes about dumb car-stereo design trends seen at the Washington Auto Show, a report about Facebook asking if I knew new friends offline, and a reader’s assessment of the Mohu and WallTenna TV antennas at a less reception-friendly location.