Weekly output: Michael Chertoff on privacy, TV-streaming rate hikes

I only had four workdays this week, thanks to Monday being spent in the air on my way back from London to D.C. That said, my productivity was not as bad as this scant list would suggest, since I filed three other posts in those four days… and now I can find out how much more work edits on those posts will entail.

7/12/2018: Ex-Homeland Security chief Chertoff wants EU-style data privacy laws, Yahoo Finance

I spent about half an hour on the phone with Michael Chertoff Wednesday afternoon about his views on various privacy and security issues and came away with far more material than I could fit in this post, as well as a renewed appreciation of the time it takes to transcribe quotes from a recording of an interview.

7/15/2018: As cord-cutting prices rise, here’s what you can do to keep costs down, USA Today

No, rate hikes at such live-TV streaming services as DirecTV Now and Sling TV don’t mean that returning to the embrace of cable or satellite TV–both subject to the same inflationary pressures, both also fond of sticking you with monthly fees to return a tuner box–now makes financial sense for a lot more people.

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Weekly output: wiping flash drives, Apple Maps to-do list, geospatial privacy issues

Having July 4 bisect this workweek ensured that I would spend much of it checked out of work. I hope that was the case for you as well, even if you didn’t have the additional factor of visiting relatives you’ve missed.

USAT flash-drive wiping column7/5/2018: Ready to ditch your old flash drive? Don’t just erase and recycle, USA Today

The number-one reader question I got after my earlier column on how to destroy a dead hard drive was “what if the drive still works–how do you be sure no data’s left on it in that case?” This column should be your answer, although I’m not sure how many Windows users will go to the trouble of installing VeraCrypt and using that free, but complex open-source app to scramble drives before disposal, resale or recycling.

7/5/2018: 5 ways Apple maps can improve to compete with Google, Yahoo Finance

A report by TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino about Apple’s ongoing effort to rebuild its mapping app on an in-house foundation gave me an excuse to vent about some longstanding problems with Apple Maps. Writing this also led me to consider other ways in which both that app and Google Maps fail to grasp such transportation alternatives as high-occupancy/toll lanes and using bikeshare or ride-hailing services to augment transit.

7/6/2018: GEOINT Law & Policy: A Poorly Mapped Frontier, Trajectory Magazine

I wrote a feature for the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s quarterly magazine about how many of the laws and norms governing geospatial privacy have failed to keep up with advances in the tools that can track us.

Updated 7/10/2018 to add a link to the Trajectory article (it didn’t show up in a Google News search, and I forgot to check the magazine’s site on my own.)

 

Weekly output: credit checks for wireless service, Carpenter v. U.S., Safari security, Facebook listening patent

The second quarter of the year is in the books. Or to put this in less financial terms: Happy almost Fourth of July! Please take a moment during this holiday to remember that democracy is not a spectator sport.

6/25/2018: Sprint’s $15 unlimited data plan required a ‘hard pull’ credit report, and it’s not the only one, USA Today

The Collision conference gets an assist here for introducing me to CreditKarma co-founder Nichole Mustard, who on short notice provided a concise explanation of different levels of credit inquiries.

6/25/2018: Four things to note about the Supreme Court’s location privacy ruling, The Parallax

I applaud the Supreme Court ruling that the government has to get a search warrant to see my location history as tracked by my wireless carrier. But it also left many things unclear, like the validity of the “third-party doctrine” that originally allowed warrantless access to that location data.

6/29/2018: Apple’s Safari has dropped the ball on security, Yahoo Finance

News that Twitter would finally support two-step verification based on cryptographically-signed “U2F” USB keys gave me a timely peg for a piece recounting how Apple’s browser has been late to implement many security advances–even as Safari has led the industry in adding privacy protection.

6/30/2018: Facebook’s listening patent, Al Jazeera

I got a call from a producer as I was walking to Metro to meet friends for brunch, asking if I could talk about recent reports of Facebook obtaining a patent that appears to describe turning on a phone’s microphone when an ad broadcasts a special, inaudible-to-humans tone. I said this patent only showed that Facebook has aggressive patent lawyers. Why? See Nilay Patel’s debunking of this allegation in the Verge, based on a close reading of the claims in the actual patent.

Weekly output: Inside the Media Minds, EU copyright control-freakery, WeChat, 5G and IoT, Facebook political-ad rules

In addition to the exposure below, I may or may not have been on New York’s Fox affiliate WNYW Monday–I did a Skype interview about the music industry’s move away from downloads, but I have no idea if they used it or not. If you happened to watch them Monday night, please let me know either way in a comment.

6/19/2018: EP 7 – Rob Pegoraro/Yahoo Finance/USA Today, Inside the Media Minds

I sat down for this interview with W2 Communications‘ host Christine Blake a month ago–but since I spent most of the time talking about longer-term stuff like my coverage priorities and my worries about technology, it aged reasonably well.

6/20/2018: How Europe’s proposed copyright laws could ruin your search engines, Yahoo Finance

It’s now been over five and a half years since I first wrote about the inane idea of letting newspapers charge search engines for the privilege of indexing their content, and I’ve been covering Hollywood’s demands that the tech industry nerd harder and create some magic solution to copyright infringement since at least 2002. That the European Union is seriously considering copyright-law revisions that would add a link tax and upload filtering suggests that no tech-policy idea is too dumb not to be exhumed and put forth as a sober-minded solution.

6/21/2018: Meet WeChat, the app that’s ‘everything’ in China, The Parallax

I wrote a lengthy explainer about WeChat, the do-it-all social-media platform that largely defines the mobile Internet for Chinese users–Facebook Messenger could only dream of folding in so many functions. Then again, Facebook Messenger offers end-to-end encryption while WeChat offers no such thing.

6/21/2018: 5G and the Internet of Things: How much? How fast? How soon?, CE Week

I led a panel discussion at the CE Week conference with Owl CEO Andrew Hodge, I Luv Wireless managing member Michael Dean, and SureCall sales vice president Frankie Smith. The takeaway: forget latency and bandwidth, better battery life will be the real reward of 5G in connected devices.

6/22/2018: Facebook’s push to kill bad political ads is also hiding regular posts, Yahoo Finance

Facebook now requires ads that address political issues to meet a higher standard of transparency—but in practice, its system has been classifying ads promoting news stories and even everyday commercial offerings as political.

Weekly output: net neutrality, Web browsers compared, Last Gadget Standing, China’s autonomous-vehicle ambitions, Sprint and Verizon “unlimited” data

My most-distant business trip of the year is in the books, and I don’t even feel that tired after getting home Friday evening. Falling asleep in my own bed remains the single best cure for jet lag that I know. I’m traveling again this year, but I’m only going about 3 percent as far–I’m in New York from Tuesday night through Friday afternoon for the CE Week show.

6/11/2018: Why the death of net-neutrality rules will be a big campaign issue, Yahoo Finance

I started writing this from Newark International Airport, then finished it and filed it from the plane–worrying I’d lose the satellite link as the plane got farther and farther north. My thanks to United for not leaving me in the lurch… and for opening some upgrade space just in time for my longest flight this year.

6/12/2018: Stuck on Chrome? Always use Safari? It may be time to break up with your default web browser, USA Today

Apple’s WWDC news about online privacy got my editor interested in a post comparing the virtues of the Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. If you still run Microsoft Internet Explorer, my advice in this column remains unchanged from prior years: stop.

6/13/2018: Last Gadget Standing, CES Asia

I helped emcee this competition along with my former Yahoo colleague Dan Tynan and Last Gadget’s impresario-in-chief Robin Raskin. I introduced and briefly quizzed the people behind three finalists: iGlass ARAction One, and the Wahe nuclear living room machine V. Alas, my joke about the name of that last device–a streaming-media player with gaming aspirations–becoming “nucular living room machine” in the American South was never going to make it through translation.

6/16/2018: How self-driving cars will take to China’s roads, Yahoo Finance

I wrote most of this from my hotel, then filed it from my flight home–except that when edits came back, we were still too far north to have a reliable signal. And since I had stupidly neglected to e-mail photos before taking off, I also had to deal with the horribly slow uploads of satellite Internet.

For more from CES Asia, have a look at my Flickr album from the trip.

6/17/2018: Sprint and Verizon’s latest deals offer still more definitions of “Unlimited“, USA Today

Verizon decided that having two different flavors of unlimited wasn’t enough, so it added three–while Sprint elected to mix up its own offerings with a quickly-expiring offer that amounted to a Basic Economy level of unlimited data.

Weekly output: dead hard drive, Mac Observer, Safari vs. Facebook Like and Share buttons, Twitter bots (x2)

My last long-haul business travel for the first half of this year starts early Monday morning, when I head to National Airport to start my journey to Shanghai for CES Asia. Like last year, I’m helping emcee the Last Gadget Standing show there; unlike last year, I imagine I’ll be hearing more pronounced reactions in China to President Trump’s increasingly angry outbursts about international trade.

6/5/2018: This Morning with Gordon Deal June 05, 2018, This Morning with Gordon Deal

I talked to this show’s host about my experience destroying a dead backup hard drive with a crowbar, as recounted in my earlier USA Today column. My spot comes up about 13:30 into the show.

6/5/2018: TMO Background Mode Interview with Freelance Tech Journalist Rob Pegoraro, The Mac Observer

I talked to TMO’s John Martellaro about my experience doing a drive transplant on an old iMac, Google’s I/O news, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and more.

6/6/2018: Apple’s Safari to Facebook’s Like and Share buttons: Dislike, The Parallax

I wrote an explainer for my newest client about how Safari will block Facebook’s Like and Share buttons–along with those of other social networks–to stop a common form of Web tracking. Along the way, Apple might wind up boosting two of its own lines of business.

6/6/2018: Twitter bots, Al Jazeera

A late-in-the-day request from an AJ producer meant I had to do this interview via Skype off my laptop in the middle of attending a panel discussion at New America. For future reference, if you need to do a TV hit via Skype at that D.C. think tank: They have a couple of phone-booth-sized rooms with backdrops that look techie enough on TV, in which you can get a laptop webcam at a respectable angle by putting that booth’s trash can on its table and then raising its chair as high as possible.

6/7/2018: Twitter bots, Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera was sufficiently interested in this post on the Washington Post’s site about the use of Twitter bots by Qatar’s Gulf rivals that they had me on for a second day, where I had the chance to speak at a greater length and wear a solid-color, TV-friendly shirt. I don’t have a link to either hit because they roll off AJ’s site within two days, and I forgot to copy those links when I could.

Weekly output: hard drive destruction, AI meets video (x2), fuel-cell Honda Clarity

A week shortened by Memorial Day was made even shorter by a quick trip to the West Coast for a cousin’s wedding Thursday–without which I would not have been able to write one of the posts listed below. I got home from that trip just in time for my 25th (!) college reunion, and I am now way more tired than I should be on a Sunday night.

5/31/2018: Even a dead hard drive can give away your private info. Here’s how to delete it for good, USA Today

This column represented the first time–and hopefully the last–that a crowbar has figured into my story research. You can see the damage it inflicted on the backup hard drive that died last month (and pushed me to replace the hard drive in my iMac before it, too, could fail without warning) in the photo I took to illustrate the piece.

6/1/2018: AI Meets Video Production, FierceCable

I wrote a couple of pieces for this e-book bundle of stories–you’ll have to provide your e-mail and sign up for their newsletter to read it, but I actually don’t mind getting that daily digest of headlines–about how artificial-intelligence and machine-learning software are changing video. This one covers how AI is already easing many production chores.

6/1/2018: The Future of AI in Filmmaking: A Long Shot, FierceCable

My second story for this Fierce e-book covered the prospects for AI creating original content–a much less certain thing, in my opinion. This post allowed me to use some notes I’d taken at SXSW that hadn’t wound up in any stories filed from there.

6/1/2018: Here’s what it’s like to drive a hydrogen-powered car, Yahoo Finance

I’d first seen the fuel-cell version of this sedan at the Washington Auto Show in January, when two Honda public-policy types suggested I could stop by their D.C. office and take it for a spin. When I finally followed up, Honda PR said they’d prefer to stage this test in L.A.–and conveniently enough, I had a few hours open after my late-Wednesday-morning arrival at LAX. Our first stop was, of course, the In-N-Out Burger just north of runway 24R; the second was one of the 35 hydrogen refueling stations open to the public in California. For more about my test drive, see the photos I uploaded to Flickr.