Weekly output: NYC startup spaces, zero rating (x2), wireless carriers, Internet downtime

My name showed up at a couple of new places this week. FYI: The coming week won’t feature my work on a typical schedule, because Yahoo Tech and I agreed to push my weekly column back from Tuesday so I could offer my take later in the week on the European tech trade show IFA. That, in turn, may explain why I’m posting this so late: I still have to pack.

8/25/2014: Making Space for More Tech Firms in New York City, Urban Land

I combined old and new reporting to generate this piece on the real-estate market for New York-based startups. I dropped a letter out of one source’s last name; we’ve since corrected the mistake

8/26/2014: ‘Zero Rating’: The Pros and Cons of Free Online Access, Yahoo Tech

My thinking on this subject changed radically as I kept talking to people involved in this issue.

8/26/2014: A Recent History of Free ‘Zero Rated’ Online Access in the U.S., Yahoo Tech

This sidebar about domestic efforts by various companies to make mobile access to their services a no-surcharge proposition led me to an interesting, post-column chat with a CEO involved in this market.

Wirecutter wireless-carriers guide8/29/2014: The Best Wireless Carriers, The Wirecutter

I have been working on this project for months, meaning I’ve had the pleasure of redoing calculations of two-year costs at the major nationwide wireless carriers more than once, sometimes more than twice. I don’t know why nobody’s found a mathematical error in the piece yet. If you have a question about this lengthy piece, check the comments; I may have answered it already there.

8/31/2014:  How to check your Internet connection, USA Today 

This column topic has been locked inside “Break Glass In Case Of Journalistic Emergency” box for the last two years and change. A cramped schedule and Time Warner Cable’s system-wide outage led me to conclude that this week was the right time for a column about debugging an apparently faulty Internet account.

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How much of your unlimited mobile broadband are you actually using?

In one comments thread this week, I’ve had readers say it’s silly to hold out for unlimited mobile broadband when you can save so much every month by opting for a capped plan. In another, I’ve had readers comparing strategies to hang on to their Verizon unlimited accounts for as long as possible.

March data usageMy hunch is that the first group has the wiser strategy. Consider the graph at right, charting my data usage from early March to early April: Even with all of SXSW and more than 900 megabytes’ worth of tethering, I still only racked up 2.13 gigabytes.

And that’s well above average, going by the latest numbers about North American usage from Alcatel-Lucent. That wireless-infrastructure vendor found that LTE users consumed an average of 46 MB a day–about 1.4 gigabytes a month–while 3G users ate up 17 megs a day, or only half a gig.

Am I missing something here? You tell me. Take a look at your own phone’s monthly data consumption and report back in the poll below. To check that detail in Android, open the Settings app and select “Data usage.” In iOS, open the Settings app, tap General, then tap Usage, then “Cellular Usage.” (Note that this isn’t broken down month by month, and that if you want to see which apps ate up the most data you’ll have to spring for a third-party app like DataMan Pro.)

For extra credit: Is that number more or less than you expected, and does it have you rethinking your choice of wireless plan?

Weekly output: Android updates, opening Works files, PDF export

Baseball distracted me from work for a good chunk of this week. The good news–by which I mean, the lousy news–is that I won’t have to worry about that again until the spring.

10/13/2012: With Android Phones, The Future’s Still On Hold, Discovery News

I thought that a post inventorying the versions of Android on the current hardware sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon would make for a quick post on a busy week. Wrong: Most of their sites (aside from Sprint’s) require multiple clicks to check that basic detail, and none of them seem to list clearly what phones have downloadable software updates available or promised. Fortunately, the extra work this required seems to have been rewarded with an unusual level of reader interest for a Saturday-morning post, including a long iOS-versus-Android comments thread I’m too tired to read through at the moment.

10/14/2012: It’s time to retire that Microsoft Works file, USA Today

I might not have believed this report of somebody sending out a .wps Microsoft Works document had I not known the recipient who asked about it. I figured that meant there were enough other people who had run into the same problem–or would at least be interested in general advice about how to deal with an odd file attachment–but the lack of reader feedback suggests I could be wrong. The post also suggests one way to get PDF copies of your important files for long-term archiving.

Weekly output: Google I/O (x3), buying or renting media, Verizon Share Everything, Google Maps offline

The next time I’m getting ready to head out of town for a few days on business–especially if I’m looking at an 8 a.m. departure–will somebody please smack me in the head if I start to install a preview release of an upcoming Microsoft operating system on my work laptop? Thank you. That would have saved me a lot of Windows-inflicted misery on a night I needed to go to bed early.

6/27/2012: New tablet and video-enabled glasses, WTOP

This week’s travels took me (again) to San Francisco, where Google hosted its I/O 2012 developers conference from Wednesday through Friday. I did a quick interview with Washington’s WTOP news-radio station about the opening-day keynote; a streaming copy of my spot is a little down the page on the above link, or you can download the MP3 directly.

(Pro tip: If a radio station is going to call your phone, make sure you know what direct dial to call back if your phone doesn’t ring or pick up for some reason.)

6/28/2012: The Future of Media: Buyers Or Renters?, CEA Digital Dialogue

The weekly CEA column revisited an old argument in the music business–would you need to actually own music if you had reliable, on-demand access to everything you’d want to listen to? I like how this post turned out, but having it land an hour or two before the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act probably didn’t help it win readers.

6/28/2012: Google Demos ‘Glass’ With Crazy Skydiving Stunt, Discovery News

So about that day-one keynote: I’ve seen some enthusiastic audiences at Apple product launches, but nothing quite like the response to Google having four people jump out of an airship over San Francisco, livestream their descent via Google Glass eyewear, and then land on the roof of the Moscone West convention center. This post provides some details about how Google pulled off this stunt (it’s the first time I’ve  had to quiz a Federal Aviation Administration rep for a story) and the Glasses themselves (Google vice president Vic Gundotra mentioned that his prototype model doesn’t last as long on a charge as his phone).

6/29/2012: Google Launches 5 Major Products, Discovery News

This follow-up post recapped Google’s five major consumer-focused product debuts at I/O 2012: the Jelly Bean version of Android possibly coming, possibly soon, to an Android phone near you; the Nexus 7 tablet; the made-in-the-USA Nexus Q media streamer; Google+ Events; and Google Docs offline editing.

7/1/2012: How Verizon’s service plans stack up, USA Today

The weekly Q&A unpacks Verizon’s new “Share Everything” smartphone plans and offers a first-look review of the offline mode Google added to its Maps program for Android. Note that if you read this story Sunday morning, it’s since been changed to fix two errors that readers e-mailed about: I had AT&T’s $20 data option including 200 megabytes of use, not 300 MB, and I wrote that Google Maps offline availability required Android 3.0 or newer when the far more widely-used 2.3 release will suffice.