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.

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Weekly output: terms of service, CES, Android and iOS printing, long presses

This week was pretty slow. Next week won’t be.

DisCo ToS post1/3/2013: How To Change Your Terms Of Service Without Looking Like A Jerk, Disruptive Competition Project

This expands on the post I did for Discovery about Instagram’s terms-of-service fiasco. Instead of yammering on about what that service and others have done wrong, I suggested a few ways they could communicate ToS changes more clearly to their customers.

(But will some other overconfident dot-com ignore this kind of advice and blunder into yet another PR meltdown within three months? Sure.)

1/4/2013: A Guide To Seeing Past CES Hype, Disruptive Competition Project

After attending CES for 15 straight years, I’ve seen more than enough over-hyped debuts go on to flop at retail or never even make it that far. This curtain-raiser goes over a few factors that I’ve seen sink promising CES launches, but two days later I feel like I should have enriched the piece with more historical examples.

1/6/2013: Tip: How to print from tablet or phone, USA Today

A reader question led to the pleasant surprise that printing from Android and iOS is a lot less restricted than Google and Apple’s own solutions would suggest. It also caused me to realize anew how rarely I use our printer-scanner to put ink on paper; since I switched to mobile boarding passes for almost all of my flights, my number-one use for that Canon device is probably scanning in checks for deposit through our bank’s site.

Weekly output: Instagram, Twitter, default apps, family tech support

There’s no way that two popular social networks would dare commit news the week before Christmas, right?

Instagram post12/18/2012: Insta-Hate For Instagram’s New Rules, Discovery News

No consumer-focused service should be surprised when its users read an intimidatingly long terms-of-service document in the unfriendliest way possible, but Instagram apparently was. The schadenfreude factor here was higher than usual, between my amazement at Instagram’s failure to learn from new corporate parent Facebook’s past missteps and my “you dang kids, get off my f-stop!” distaste for the idea of expressing one’s photographic creativity by applying somebody else’s canned filter to a picture.

(No, I don’t see this episode as any sort of a win for Instagram. While its old, now-reinstated terms of service give it more latitude in some ways, the PR hit here is lasting. And if Instagram actually engages in the sort of sketchy advertising reuse of its users’ photos that people feared this time, it will get crushed all over again.)

12/19/2012: Twitter Gives Your History Back, Discovery News

I’d been hoping I’d be able to write this post since hearing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tell Online News Association conference attendees that he hoped to see the option to download your entire Twitter archive happen this year. Details I probably should have added to this post: The first few years of the archive don’t include clickable links, and photo previews don’t start showing up until late 2011.

12/20/2012: Google Maps Shows How Locked-Down Defaults Deter Competition, Disruptive Competition Project

This post, in which I compared your inability to change the default Web, e-mail and mapping apps in iOS to the locked search defaults in Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system and in earlier versions of Google’s Android, reminds me of some of the wonkier stuff I did at the Post. I was flattered to see it get as much attention as it did.

12/23/2012: A ‘to-do list’ for helping family with tech support, USA Today

Several years ago, Gina Trapani wrote a great post for Lifehacker about how to fix Mom and Dad’s computer over Thanksgiving. I thought that was an idea worth imitating, so I started writing my own holiday-computer-troubleshooting tips for the Post–first in the newsletter I used to do, then on my blog there. Note how much of my advice this time around focuses on uninstalling software instead of adding or updating it.