Weekly output: tax prep, Google Glass, Heartbleed, Nearby Friends, online banking

This was a multiple-microphone week, and two of my three broadcast appearances involved shows that hadn’t booked me as a guest before. That’s good.

In other news: Happy Easter!

4/15/2014: The Strange and Successful Campaign to Make Taxes More Taxing, Yahoo Tech

A lot of material had to get left out of this already-long column denouncing the crony-capitalism campaign by Intuit and such Washington groups as Americans for Tax Reform and my former client CCIA to stop governments from letting citizens file and pay taxes at their own sites. (For example, these direct-filing sites cost little to run–$80,000 a year at California’s ReadyReturn, $150,000 for Pennsylvania’s soon-to-be-shuttered padirectfile.)  Comments debuted at Yahoo Tech late Tuesday afternoon, and as you can see I did not wait long to show up in them myself.

Speaking of feedback, you might as well see ATR’s latest post opposing IRS-run tax prep and stories, mine included, that suggest it would be a good thing… which, in a coincidence too weird for me not to disclose, was written by the guy who’s done my taxes since 2012.

4/16/2014: Google Glass and privacy, Al Jazeera

The news network’s Arabic-language channel had me on the air to talk about Google Glass and privacy issues. Since I was being translated into Arabic in real time, the producer emphasized that I speak slowly and simply–a challenge when my usual habit is to speak too fast on the air.

To the Point Heartbleed show4/16/2014: Heartbleed and Internet Security, To the Point

KCRW’s news show had me on to discuss the Heartbleed bug and how  open-source development broke down in this case. I wish I’d thought to compare major tech companies’ unwillingness to kick in any money to the OpenSSL Foundation with all the effort they’ve put into finding ways to pipe income to shell corporations in overseas tax havens.

Most of my input happened in the first 20 minutes or so, but keep listening to hear Internet Governance Project founder Milton Mueller discard some silly objections from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s Daniel Castro to the government’s proposal to hand over supervision of the DNS root zone.

4/18/2014: Nearby Friends, WTOP

D.C.’s news station had me on the air for a few minutes via Skype to talk about Facebook’s new location-based option, its privacy implications and how it competes with such existing apps as Foursquare and the D.C. startup SocialRadar.

4/20/2014: Safety you can bank on: Chromebook, Linux, phone, USA Today

A relative’s question about whether he should buy a Chromebook for his online banking gave me an opportunity to note a couple of cheaper options to separate your Web financial transactions from your regular use: booting your computer off a Linux CD or flash drive, or using your bank’s app or the built-in browser on your phone or tablet.

Weekly output: Internet governance, Kojo Nnamdi Show, old camcorders

For once, the combined universe of smartphones and tablets did not constitute the majority of my coverage over a week.

3/18/2014: No, the U.S. Isn’t Really Giving Up the Internet—It Doesn’t Own It Anyway, Yahoo Tech

This story was not the easiest one to write, courtesy of Monday being a snow day in which most of my queries went unanswered while my wife and I had to keep our daughter entertained. DNS root-zone supervision is an exceedingly wonky topic; did I keep my explanation of it out of the weeds, or is mine too far above the ground to provide enough understanding of the topic?

Kojo Nnamdi Show on wireless service

3/18/2014: Choosing A Cell Phone And Mobile Data Plan, The Kojo Nnamdi Show

WAMU host Kojo Nnamdi, CNET columnist Maggie Reardon and I discussed the changing shape of the wireless market–in particular, T-Mobile’s hanging up on subsidized handset pricing. T-Mo marketing v.p. Andrew Sherrard joined us via phone for part of the show and provided a number I hadn’t seen before: From 10 to 20 percent of its customers now bring their own devices to the carrier.

3/23/2014: How to rescue vintage camcorder footage, USA Today

As it has before, my neighborhood’s mailing list proved to be a fruitful source of Q&A column material–and this time around, my research into a neighbor’s problems getting video off an old MiniDV camcorder involved a house call.

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Weekly output: ECPA, WCIT, The Daily, search hijacking, router firmware

As that abbreviation-dense title might indicate, I wrote about policy issues more than usual this week.

12/3/2012: ECPA And The High Cost of Tech Short-Sightedness, Disruptive Competition Project

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act basically strips your e-mail of the usual protections against government snooping once it spends more than 180 days on the server. Now that Congress is finally moving to fix that flaw, some 26 years after passing ECPA, I thought it a good time to recap an issue I neglected at the Post–and to put it in the context of the trouble Congress has had future-proofing legislation about technology.

12/4/2012: A World Government For The Internet? Not So Fast, Discovery News

The International Telecommunications Union is having a 193-nation summit in Dubai this month, called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, and some of its participants want to see the ITU get a larger hand in running the Internet. I don’t think that will happen, but other mischief could happen over WCIT’s remaining week.

The Daily DisCo post12/4/2012: The Daily’s Demise: Another Secret Sauce For The News Business Dries Up, Disruptive Competition Project

I’m still irked at how the Post obsessed over the launch of News Corporation’s iPad publication, so of course I was going to write about The Daily shutting down less than two years into the experiment. A lot of other journalists had the same idea, but I hope I took it a little further by comparing the way publishers latched onto the hope of tablet apps with the news business’s other exercises in wishful thinking.

12/9/2012: Tip: If your search goes awry, it might not be your PC, USA Today

The post I cranked out here about my search-hijacking experience got enough attention (thanks for the link, Loop Insight) that I decided to write a less technically-inclined version for USA Today. I threw in a tip gained from my debugging attempts about updating firmware on a WiFi router; I had neglected that chore until I logged into its admin page to look for weird DNS settings and saw it had an update waiting.