Weekly output: CES (x8), Java, Flash, browser crashes

CES week has usually been the single busiest workweek of the year, and this time around did not disappoint. It also featured perhaps my shortest and certainly my highest-profile TV appearance yet.

1/9/2013: Wild West Show: What’s Happening At CES?, The Motley Fool

About eight hours into what became a 14-hour workday, I chatted briefly with the Fool’s Rex Moore for a show-opening video segment about some of the trends I’d seen thus far.

1/9/2013: Live @ CES – Erik Fisher & Rob Pegoraro, Panasonic

As it did last year, Panasonic ran a series of interviews with tech-industry types, journalists,  athletes, politicians and various other guests from its CES exhibit. Here, I discussed the intersection of sports and digital media with the Sports Business Journal’s Eric Fisher and host Jordan Burchette. I trust nobody was surprised to see me rant yet again about the idiocy of regional blackouts for live game coverage.

1/10/2013: CES 2013, Part 1: Tech To Open Or Close Markets, Disruptive Competition Project

I evaluated some of the more talked-about CES appearances in terms of whether they might entrench incumbents in a market or offer an opening to their challengers.

PBS NewsHour CES recap1/10/2013: At Consumer Electronics Show, Sorting the Go-Go Gadgets from the No-Go, PBS NewsHour

This show assessment for the NewsHour’s Rundown blog got a shout-out on that night’s NewsHour broadcast, right after an interview of my old Post cubicle-mate Cecilia Kang. Which makes a certain amount of sense, since the piece’s length and tone made it the closest thing to the CES-recap columns I wrote for the Post for… wow, 14 years in a row.

Note that the first version of this posted had a stupid mistake in the description of 4K resolution; when I was trimming a paragraph on the technology, “million” wound up where “thousand” should have been, and it took a reader’s comment to bring that to my attention. (That’s only one of the reasons why I try to read every comment.)

1/11/2013: Tech Talk: 01/11, CBS News Tech Talk

Larry Magid, a longtime tech journalist I enjoy running into at events like this, saw fit to include a sound bite from me in that day’s one-minute tech update.

1/11/2013: CES 2013: Three Ups, Three Downs, Discovery News

My CES recap for Discovery–also, my first in the site’s new design–covered the same trends I tackled in the NewsHour piece but benefited from another day’s worth of soaking in the show.

1/11/2013: CES 2013, Part 2: The Gadgets That Weren’t There, Disruptive Competition Project

I did a post like this back in 2011 that critiqued the absence of non-TiVo video recorders (among other things), didn’t think to return to the theme last year, but realized it would fit in well with DisCo’s focus on the ways outside factors distort and limit what the tech business can do.

1/11/2013: Earnings Surprises, Motley Fool Money

The Fool’s Chris Hill interviewed me about the show for the Fool’s weekly podcast. He had me on as a guest pretty regularly when I was at the Post; it was good to be back.

NBC Nightly News spot1/12/2013: Feds: Your Internet browser could be at risk, NBC Nightly News

An editor at NBC noticed the column I wrote for USA Today about Java security last spring and e-mailed to ask if they could interview me for that evening’s show. They recorded something like 30 minutes’ worth of footage; they asked good questions, didn’t cut off my answers and finished by asking if there was anything else I wanted this piece to say. Maybe 10 seconds of that wound up on the air, with me identified as a “USA Today Technology Writer.”

(I was worried they wouldn’t use any of it. Between the heat from the studio lights in NBC’s Nebraska Avenue offices and my own don’t-screw-this-up anxiety, I started getting a little flustered and began fumbling some of my answers.)

Anyway, now I can cross “be interviewed as an expert on a national nightly-news show” off the bucket list. And in yet another weird coincidence, that night’s broadcast also featured my friend Daniel Greenberg, one of my best freelance contributors at the Post, talking about video-game violence.

1/13/2013: How long will Flash survive?, USA Today

This week’s column looks at the persistence of Adobe Flash on the desktop and recants some of my earlier optimism about a quick sunset for that format. (Though I have to note that Discovery’s new design finally does away with Flash for slide shows, even older ones; I no longer feel guilty about linking out to those.) It also shares a few tips about talking crash-prone browsers out of their sulk.

Update, 10:37 a.m. In the midst of looking up all those audio and video appearances, I forgot to note my too-long-for-Twitter updates on Sulia: a rant about Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs’ chaotic keynote, my experience trying “brainwave cat ears,” a note about the relative absence of 3-D TV from the show floor, a micro-essay about CES’s continued gender gap, and a report of a prototype screen that can raise and lower individual buttons, and many more.

(With 15 of these 500-to-1,000-character posts a week, I can’t see adding them all to the weekly roundup, any more than I’d inventory my tweets. But maybe calling out a few highlights will work.)

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Weekly output: podcast, Google security, Tech Night Owl, TV choices, DLNA

I’d meant to write something else here this week: a post about the high distraction factor of a presidential election season. But I got distracted. (Shouldn’t I have seen that coming?)

9/7/2012: Rob’s Podcast: Comparing Notes With PCWorld’s Melissa Perenson, CEA Digital Dialogue

This was possibly the most snakebit podcast ever–after a long series of schedule conflicts, my first attempt was thwarted by bad Skype reception, the second one involved two or three false starts, and then it got held up somewhere at CEA. Anyway: In it, you can hear me talk about a variety of tech-industry issues–for instance, Windows 8′s interface, the future of the digital camera and upcoming tablets–with Melissa Perenson, a writer for PCWorld, TechHive and other sites.

9/7/2012: Gmail Two-Step Verification: Mission Possible, Discovery News

I waited until I’d spent a month with Google’s version of two-factor authentication to write about it. Verdict: a major upgrade in security that makes me feel smarter, but it increases the risk involved in losing one’s smartphone.

I didn’t realize until after I’d filed this that I had left out my usual disclosure about taking a speaking fee from Google last year. Should I have stuffed somewhere into the post?

9/8/2012: September 8, 2012 — Rob Pegoraro and Avram Piltch, Tech Night Owl Live

Gene Steinberg interviewed me and Laptop magazine’s Avram Piltch about what we saw at IFA in Berlin, tech patents, tablets and more for his Tech Night Owl podcast. (I was last on Gene’s show in January.)

9/9/2012: New depth in flat-panel fight: plasma, LCD, LED, OLED, USA Today

While I was at IFA, I shared a cab with a couple who asked if they should get a plasma or an LCD TV. The plasma-or-LCD question has been around for a while, but I realized I could use their query to address the difference between LCDs and LEDs (the subject of an earlier CEA post) and mention yet another flat-panel technology, super-thin but frighteningly expensive OLED screens. The piece also offers a tip about using “DLNA” sharing to link phones and connected TVs that may be news to many readers–I didn’t realize my TV supported this standard until a good year and a half after I’d bought it.

Weekly output: Auto Hop ad skipping, video walls, laptop batteries, travel power strips

This week ends with three pieces I’ve written sitting in three different editors’ queues. That will teach me to file close to on time. (Note to editors, readers, fellow writers and the deadline gods: just kidding!)

5/22/2012: Ad Hoc Reactions to ‘Auto Hop’ Ad Skipping, CEA Digital Dialogue

A day or two after Dish Network announced its Auto Hop automatic commercial-skipping feature, a thought popped into my head: Would fans of this clever use of computer-driven automation of a common human practice also approve of using software to send them a speeding ticket? With two other examples of technology making a generally accepted activity somehow ethically troublesome, I had this week’s CEA post.

Two days later, the debate over this ad-skipping option reached the inevitable Send In The Lawyers phase when Fox Broadcasting sued Dish and Dish sued Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC.

5/24/2012: Tile Your Wall With Video Screens, Discovery News

I usually don’t write about rigged demos, but the wall-sized video display I saw at the Cable Show in Boston raised enough interesting possibilities–both in terms of screen technology and how to use it–that I thought it worth a writeup. (Especially after I realized a parallel between this demo and giant telescopes.) I wasn’t the only one impressed; see, for example, this writeup by Zatz Not Funny’s Mari Silbey.

5/27/2012: The sad lifespan of a laptop battery, USA Today

A reader’s query about his aging Dell laptop gave me a chance to revisit a topic I covered two years ago in my old Help File column for the Post–but back then, I didn’t think to note how the battery-lifespan issue is so much worse on smartphones. The column closes with a tip about avoiding Lord of the Flies-esque unpleasantness when only one outlet is left open at an airport gate that you read here first.

Update, 6/9/2012: I remembered to finish writing the headline.

Weekly output: e-book DRM, Vudu Disc to Digital, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, data caps, OLED battery life

I’m finally done with the hell of tax prep and resuming something close to my usual level of productivity–after taking off Thursday to see the space shuttle Discovery arrive at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

4/17/2012: Overlooked E-Book Chapter: DRM Makes Monopolies, CEA Digital Dialogue

The Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major book publishers–followed by a round of traditional-media coverage of the DoJ’s action that ignored how “digital rights management” restrictions distort that market–persuaded me to revisit the topic I last addressed in my penultimate Post column. If I keep rewriting this thesis enough times, will I eventually see publishing-industry executives agree with it?

4/19/2012: Get Higher Def From (Some of) Your DVDs, Discovery News

Much like last week, I enjoyed coming up with an artsy photo for a post. This one critiques a Walmart service that provides digital copies of your DVDs and Blu-rays. It’s a dubious value for same-quality duplicates, but I can see myself paying to get HD versions of movies I own on DVD. Walmart just needs to let me make the purchase without having to trek to one of its stores–and I write this after completing the transaction on the first try, unlike my fellow D.C.-area tech blogger Dave Zatz.

To reinforce every single stereotype of East Coast Liberal Media Elite Bias: This was the first time I’d set foot in a Walmart in maybe nine years. (Look, I hate driving for 30 minutes to do routine shopping. That’s the same reason I’ve yet to set foot in a Wegman’s.)

4/20/2012: A Tablet That Talks To Your TV — Or Tries To, Discovery News

I might have gone easier on this Android tablet–at $250, it’s not a bad deal and is vastly more competitive than the first Galaxy Tab I reviewed–had Samsung not made such a strong sales pitch for its universal-remote app at demo in New York a couple of weeks ago. And if that app had not failed so badly in my own testing, even relative to my own snakebite history with allegedly universal remotes. If I hadn’t already been pushing the word count on this review, I also would have dinged Samsung for using a proprietary USB cable. (I didn’t ding the new iPad for that either.)

4/22/2012: What’s eating your phone’s data allowance?, USA Today

The front end of this column, explaining which apps and services might take the biggest bite out of a data quota, benefited from one of my last acts with the Galaxy Nexus phone before returning it last week: taking a screengrab of its data-usage report. The second half, relating a battery-saving tip for phones with OLED screens that I picked up while reporting a post about smartphone screen sizes for CEA’s blog, was also informed by a final test on overdue review hardware.

In the coming-soon category, I have an interview with former federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra in the May 2012 issue of Washingtonian. The print copy is now on sale but the story isn’t online yet, so look for a link to it in a future weekly-update post.

Weekly output: Google directions and social isolation, 2011 in review, telling the tech future

Another holiday-shortened week, another holiday-shortened list of stories. That’s okay: Spending next week at CES should more than make up for my recent idle time.

1/1/2012: Today’s tip: Get the most out of Google Maps, USA Today

Full disclosure: When I leave my house, I carry a Metro SmarTrip card and keys to my house and my bike–plus, as of two weeks ago, one for Capital Bikeshare–but not my car. (Why would I do otherwise? If my car is anywhere but my driveway or our block when I step off the porch, something’s gone wrong.) So I’ve appreciated Google’s moves to provide directions to people traveling by rail, bus or bike. The Q&A part of this week’s column digs into some sociological research and my own experience to offer a non-cynical answer to the question “is technology just isolating us from each other?”

1/4/2012: 7 Tech Stories for 2011 and 2012, CEA Digital Dialogue

The year-in-review column may be a crutch for tech journalists to lean on during the slow week or two between Christmas and CES, but that doesn’t mean it can’t provide a useful opportunity to pull some sense out of the last 12 months’ worth of headlines–and see where those stories might go in the new year. At the risk of ruining whatever suspense this post might contain: Sorry, I think Congress will continue to demonstrate a certain… lack of finesse when it comes to tech policy.

1/5/2012: 5 Tech Advances That Might Arrive In 2012, Discovery News

Speaking of new-year columns, this one outlines five long-hyped technological breakthroughs that people might be able to buy this year: glasses-free 3-D TVs, portable fuel cells, color e-ink displays, battery-friendly LTE smartphones and big-screen OLED TVs. (Whether they’ll want to buy these things is another matter.) To judge from reader reactions and chatter on other sites, fuel cells top many people’s wish lists–but I’ll believe that when I’ve got a review unit ready to take on a weekend out of town.