Weekly output: CFAA, Twitter spam, Nexus 7, mobile privacy, phone storage, Android Device Manager

I swear, sometime this month I will have the kind of lazy, do-nothing day that should be the right of every Washingtonian who doesn’t skip town in August.

8/21/2013: Cloak Your IP Address, Expose Yourself To Legal Jeopardy?, Disruptive Competition Project

I’d meant to write a post denouncing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in January–when Internet activist Aaron Swartz, facing the potential of a long CFAA sentence, committed suicide. I remedied that oversight when a judge’s opinion stated that using a proxy server to change your computer’s Internet Protocol address could be a CFAA violation.

Ars Technica Twitter-spam post8/21/2013: Deciphering the tricks of the Twitter spammers, Ars Technica

After seeing a fascinating study of the Twitter spam market presented at the Usenix Security Symposium last week, I did a little more digging to write this recap.

8/23/2013: New Nexus 7 Makes Android Tablets Look Sharper, Discovery News

This review already looks problematic–not even two days after it ran, the backlight on my loaner Nexus 7 seems to have died. Until I can figure out what happened (which will probably require Google to autopsy the device), don’t give my kind words about this Android tablet too much credence.

8/24/2013: Privacy Vulnerabilities and the Media, iOSDevCampDC

I gave a talk about how privacy issues get covered–often badly–by the tech and traditional media at this gathering of Washington-area iOS developers. This was not my best public speaking ever; I lost my place halfway through the talk and had to improvise for a bit. (My audience didn’t seem to mind, but things could have been much worse.)

8/25/2013: Will an 8 GB smartphone have enough storage space?, USA Today

This question seemed simple enough when a reader asked it several weeks ago, but then I realized it would give me a chance to discuss a few interesting, related topics. But in retrospect, I missed a chance here to call out phone vendors for charging too much for extra memory. There’s also a tip about Google’s new Android Device Manager lost-phone service.

My most important Sulia post this week reported the bizarre failure of the Nexus 7. Besides that, I critiqued Samsung’s announcement of a new Android phone with a 6.3-inch screen,   called out Amazon’s lack of a system-status page that might have better explained its brief outage this week, suggested a new Google patent application may have prior-art and obviousness issues, and complimented the new “Digital Commons” space at the District’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Library.

About these ads

Weekly output: e-mail privacy, 3-D printing, TV antennas, smartphone competition, sports networks, bargaining over TV bills

It’s not a total coincidence that I wrote as much about TV as I did in the week running up to one of the biggest televised events of the year.

1/28/2013: Why Can’t Web Services Compete To Protect My Data From The Feds?, Disruptive Competition Project

Reporting this one made me feel a little dumb when I realized that I could have had a nice little scoop weeks or months earlier if I’d just asked Google, Microsoft and Yahoo what they require before turning over a user’s e-mail data to the government. It turns out that all three go beyond the strict requirements of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in requiring a warrant–but that none seemed to think this was something worth bragging about.

1/29/2013: Hold Your Fire Before Freaking Out Over 3-D Printed Guns, Disruptive Competition Project

I started writing this post in December, then decided I didn’t like the last third of it and set it aside. I finally picked it up again after CES. Somewhat to my surprise, it only got one “you want to ban all guns” reply.

Discovery TV antennas review1/30/2013: Two Flat, Stick-On Antennas Tune In Free TV, Discovery News

I revisited the subject of over-the-air TV for the first time in over a year to review a couple of flat, lightweight antennas. Somewhat to my surprise, they worked better than the old set of rabbit ears I had plugged into the set downstairs (and unlike that antenna, I could put each one high enough on the wall to avoid becoming a plaything for our toddler). So I bought one of these models, the Mohu, and am now trying to figure out exactly where on the wall it will get the best reception of the three trickier network affiliates: ABC’s WJLA, CBS’s WUSA and PBS’s WETA.

2/1/2013: Will A Two-Party System Adequately Represent Smartphone Users?, Disruptive Competition Project

BlackBerry has a new operating system, but will it do any better than Microsoft’s Windows Phone? (I’ve been testing Windows Phone 8 on an HTC 8X; there are things I like about it, but the app selection really holds it back.) In this post, I express the possibly-futile hope that either BlackBerry or Microsoft can become a viable alternative to the increasingly entrenched duo of Apple and Google.

2/3/2013: How sports networks inflate your TV bill, USA Today

One of the people on my neighborhood’s mailing list asked about a new fee that Verizon was going to put on her bill to cover regional sports networks. I told her I’d see what else I could find out. The column also includes a reminder that TV rate hikes can, at least sometimes, be negotiable if your service thinks you’ll leave.

Sulia highlights this week included two more rants about the TV business–one on Verizon’s extortionate CableCard rate hike and another about the stupidity of making some Hulu content “Web-only”–and a post noting that the “Apple tax” is real when you look at what it costs to get more storage on an iPad.

Weekly output: Outlook.com, the cloud, 8K TV, Activity Monitor, Mac App Store

It took me a while, but I finally managed to have a week in which smartphones did not figure into the lede of any review.

7/31/2012: Microsoft Outlook: Not Hotmail, Not Quite Gmail, Discovery News

I had high expectations for this service when I got an embargoed briefing of it from Microsoft about two weeks ago–finally, I thought, I might have something that would allow me to move my home e-mail from Google. But I didn’t know at the time how limited Exchange ActiveSync support could be: Contrary to my first expectations, this Hotmail successor leaves Mac users no way to sync their e-mail to a desktop client. My review devoted more words to this topic than most; I was glad to see the same issue come up multiple times in the Reddit discussion Microsoft invited, and I hope Outlook.com’s developers take the numerous hints.

8/3/2012: Questions to Clarify Cloud Computing, CEA Digital Dialogue

After reviewing Google Drive and seeing how tightly Apple and Microsoft’s new and upcoming software integrate each company’s cloud services, I realized I wasn’t sure which ones to include or rule out. So I wrote up the questions I’d want to ask of any cloud service for CEA’s blog.

If you’re curious about the photo, it consists of a Nexus 7 tablet resting on the screen of a MacBook Air. It took a few tries to get enough of the cloud cover reflected on each screen.

8/3/2012: ‘8K’ TV: More Pixels Than Can Meet Your Eye, Discovery News

After Comcast invited me to a screening of some “Ultra High Definition” Olympics video (as in, 7,680 by 4,320 pixels, adding up to 33 megapixels and change), I wrote up my impressions of the experience. Not a surprise, considering my earlier writing: I didn’t come away hoping to get something like that in my living room. Actual surprise: a reader wrote in to protest that studies by the Japanese broadcaster NHK showed that people could distinguish the higher resolution of 8K in still images seen at common viewing distances. Since this reader couldn’t get a comment to post, I quoted those e-mails in a comment I added to the post.

8/5/2012: Monitor your Mac’s behind the scenes activity, USA Today

Maybe a day after I’d posted my review of OS X Mountain Lion, I noticed that my iMac (but not the new MacBook Air next to it) was suddenly running low on memory. I checked the Activity Monitor app, saw a CalendarAgent process eating up every last bit of RAM, confirmed that others also had this problem, and force-quit that process. After several tries had apparently beaten this program into submission, wrote a reminder for USAT about the usefulness of Activity Monitor. (It also covered reasons to use or ignore the Mac App Store.) Unfortunately, CalendarAgent resumed its assault on the iMac’s memory and processor after I’d filed this piece; any ideas about what to do next, besides yell at Apple to fix its software?