Weekly output: Nexus 7, mobile-ized desktop interfaces, Yahoo passwords, HTTPS always

I ended this week with two more stories filed beyond those listed below, so next week’s version of this post should make me look busier.

7/10/2012: Nexus 7 Writes New Chapter In Android Tablets, Discovery News

I finally found an Android tablet I like–and, indeed, will probably buy. (Like everybody else who attended Google’s I/O developer conference, I got a Nexus 7 for free, along with a  Nexus Q media player and an unlocked Galaxy Nexus phone; as a journalist, however, I had to sign an agreement confirming that all these products are loans due back Dec. 31, and I will honor that commitment.) This review has one error I’ve since corrected: The Nexus 7 includes the Google Wallet app, even though a search for that app in the Play Store didn’t show any results and I stupidly didn’t think to check the apps list on the device itself.

Since this post went up, I’ve seen a few reports on Twitter from other tech journalists who say their Nexus 7 review units won’t charge, or won’t charge over anything but the tablet’s own charger. I didn’t have that experience–having seen how an iPad can slowly replenish itself off a generic USB charger even when it says it’s not charging, I figured that the Nexus 7 would follow that pattern and saw that it did. But should I have spelled that out explicitly in the review? Should I add that detail now?

7/13/2012: What Your Phone Owes Your Next Computer, CEA Digital Dialogue

My not-entirely-pleasant experiences trying out an advance version of Windows 8 and living with Apple’s OS X Lion led me to write this reassessment of the wisdom of making our desktop operating systems more like the software running our phones and tablets. I see some clear-cut improvements–app stores, for example–but also serious downgrades (touch-first interfaces). And even the positive steps can be undermined by other things OS and third-party software vendors do (see, for instance, the extra steps Mac developers have to take to meet the Mac App Store’s “sandboxing” security requirement).

7/15/2012: Give your passwords a security check-up, USA Today

Last week’s massive breach of user-account credentials at Yahoo’s Yahoo Voices site gave me an excuse to revisit older advice on generating and saving passwords that both resist guessing and cracking attempts but can also be memorized by normal human beings. The column wraps up with a reminder to enable the site-wide encryption option offered by Facebook and Hotmail, but not yet the default at either site.

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Weekly output: iPhone rumors, remote controls, Kindle Fire, the Cricket iPhone, cable boxes, IE 8, Google alternatives

All three pieces that were on an editor’s screen a week ago went online this week. See how falsely productive I look now? This week’s list includes a new site, CNNMoney. (I enjoy how my freelance situation gives me enough spare time to try to chase down new business and write for different sites and audiences.)

5/29/2012: The Next-iPhone Season Draws Near, So Read Wisely, Discovery News

As you may have read here a year ago, I think obsessing over next-iPhone rumors can be a colossal waste of time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t provide some advice about which of this year’s crop could be true and which seem transparently ridiculous. Just don’t make me write that post every week!

5/30/2012: Your Next Remote May Already Be In Your Pocket, CEA Digital Dialogue

After seeing some interesting experiments in using smartphone and tablet apps to replace remote controls at the Cable Show–which, in turn, followed some similar demos at CES–I thought it was a good time to assess this overdue experimentation in replacing the remote and warn about how it might go awry.

5/31/2012: Rethinking the Kindle Fire, six months later, CNNMoney

Back in January, I had a great conversation with an editor at CNNMoney about the lack of follow-up in tech reviews: If car magazines and sites can set aside the time to write long-term evaluations of cars, why can’t tech sites do the same for gadgets? This six-months-later look at Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the result of that chat. Please compare it to my initial writeup for Discovery–and let me know what other tech products might deserve their own extended eval.

5/31/2012: The ‘Next iPhone’ We Didn’t See Coming, Discovery News

The week’s surprise was seeing Cricket Wireless, the prepaid carrier I reviewed back in 2009 and hadn’t encountered since getting a demo of its Muve music service last spring, get the iPhone. Even more surprising: Learning that Cricket’s version of the iPhone 4S will be unlocked for international use–and then seeing that highly-relevant fact go unmentioned in other stories.

6/3/2012: Off the Grid, Still In the Box: where’s Cable TV headed?, Boing Boing

My Cable Show coverage wrapped up with my second post at Boing Boing, in which I recap some surprisingly positive developments in user interfaces and energy efficiency–and a less-enthralling lack of progress in opening up this market to outside vendors. Having enjoyed the conversation with BB readers in February, my next move after posting this will be to catch up on the feedback I missed earlier today.

6/3/2012: How long should you hang on to IE8?, USA Today

A reader asked if it was okay to keep using Internet Explorer 8 instead of IE 9; as you might expect, I don’t think that’s a great idea. (To answer the “what if you’re still on XP?” replies I’ve already received: That’s not a great idea either. That OS is well past its sell-by date, and I can’t stand to use it myself anymore.) After I endorse Google’s Chrome as a good IE alternative, I explain how to set Chrome to use non-Google search engines as its default.

Last week, I also learned from my site stats here that ABC News’ tech site syndicates these columns. So if the orange highlight atop USAT’s tech section bothers you, maybe the blue-green header at ABC will be more to your liking.

Weekly output: Gadget-guide guidance, Kindle Fire

A holiday-shortened week, an absence of the gadget-guide pieces that used to swamp my schedule about this time every November, and no freelance pieces for other sites make for a much shorter list of articles compared to last week’s.

11/21/11: “Gadget-guide guidance,” CEA Tech Enthusiast (subscription required) CEA Digital Dialogue

Yeah, about those gift guides… in this post, I try to explain how these catalog-style pieces tend to align more closely with the interests of publishers and advertisers than those of readers. They’re also often a nuisance for writers, if anybody’s interested in our concerns. I conclude by offering some suggestions about what sorts of gadget guides might be more and less useful to people looking for help on what hardware to give or get.

11/22/11: “Amazon’s Kindle Fire: The Paperback of Tablets,” Discovery News

The lede for this piece popped into my head just as I started work on it–which could have been inconvenient if my evaluation hadn’t matched that phrasing. Fortunately, it did: The Kindle Fire is a good but not quite great tablet that does enough things sufficiently well that it should escape the dismal fate of earlier iPad competitors. (That’s “competitor,” not “killer”; calling anything an “iPad killer” ensures its demise. Just ask all the “iPod killers” nobody can unload on eBay.)

Updated 1/31/2012 with a non-paywalled CEA link.

Live-tweeting, then Storifying Amazon’s Kindle event

NEW YORK–I did a day trip here yesterday to cover Amazon’s introduction of its new Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch tablets (if you were curious, getting up for the 6 a.m. Acela was as unpleasant as I expected). Since Discovery didn’t ask me to liveblog the event itself, I decided to use Twitter to post my real-time recap instead–something I haven’t had the luxury of doing at a tech event in a while.

That worked well–it’s a lot easier to share a photo with Twitter’s smartphone apps, for one thing–but live-tweeting also suffers from vanishing down Twitter’s timeline in the days afterward, not to mention requiring any later readers to read them in reverse.

So I used Storify to embed all of my tweets from Amazon’s event in conventional chronological order–minus a few replies to people asking about non-Kindle topics, plus a few photos I would have shared had I taken them with a phone instead of a regular camera. I had, perhaps, foolishly, thought I could simply embed the results after the jump here–but no, that doesn’t appear to be a supported feature, and my attempts to post the archive here through one of Storify’s publishing options didn’t work either. So you’ll have to read that archive at Storify.

(Dear Storify and WordPress.com management: Please figure out how to get your sites to play nicely with each other. It would also help if I could block-select tweets in Storify instead of tediously dragging them over into a story, one at a time. Until both those things happen, I think I’ll give Storify a rest. Readers: Am I missing some easier way to do things? I know WordPress embeds tweets quite well, but it doesn’t do the same with pictures shared through Twitter.)

Anyway. Note that there’s an error most of the way down; I wrote that the Kindle Fire has a microphone when it does not. Note also that this adds up to a lot of text—1,014 words, by my count.

Too much to read? My recap at Discovery News only runs about 500 words. Don’t want to read at all? You can watch my appearance on the local Fox station Thursday morning to discuss Amazon’s news. That clip’s too short? Amazon posted a 51-minute video of the entire event on YouTube.