Weekly output: Google password manager updates, Android and iOS location-privacy advice, Android developers lawsuit

If you’re visiting my city for the Fourth of July, welcome to the nation’s capital! Please enjoy your stay; if you’re still weighing different options for where to watch the fireworks, I’d like to think my advice from 2015 still holds up.

6/30/2022: Google Updates Password Manager With New Security, Management Tools, PCMag

Writing this quick post reminded me of how often Google struggles to provide feature parity between its Web and mobile apps.

Screenshot of column as seen in USAT's iPad app7/1/2022: How to block – or blur – your location from your smartphone’s apps, USA Today

I think I’d pitched some version of this column to my editors not too many months ago, but having the topic of location privacy come up in my user-group talk last weekend reminded of that story idea and helped me focus it.

7/2/2022: Google offers Android developers $90 million settlement, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on (overdubbed live) for the first time in several weeks to talk about Google offering a $90 million settlement to Android developers who had complained about the cut it takes of digital app transactions. I told viewers that while Google has shown a non-trivial amount of greediness in its supervision of the Play Store, at least it allows for alernative app stores–something Apple does not.

Weekly output: Best Mobile Networks, Tesla Model 3 notes, digital healthcare innovation, baseball sports networks, Levi’s digital transformation, Boom Supersonic, WAP/PATACS

For the first time in a couple of months, the next month and change of my calendar doesn’t feature any work travel. That’s a good feeling, especially after the last business trip concluded in snakebit form.

6/21/2022: Best Mobile Networks 2022, PCMag

The drive testing that I did across the Pacific Northwest back in May yielded the network data for half of Boise and all of Portland and Seattle. For the second year in a row, PCMag gave its top honors to T-Mobile.

6/21/2022: 4 Things I Hated About Putting 1,700 Miles on a Tesla, PCMag

That road trip also yielded this assessment of the Tesla Model 3 I drove. I loved this battery-electric vehicle’s handling, comfort, range and Supercharger network. But I also hated its touchscreen interface, the inadequate options for music playback, the purist approach to design that evoked the excesses of Apple’s former design chief Jony Ive, and the proprietary Supercharger plug.

A red Collision sign, seen outside that conference's venue.6/21/2022: Tech for good: Unlocking the power of technology to advance human health, Collision

The first panel I did at Collision in Toronto had me interviewing Johnson & Johnson CIO Jim Swanson about upcoming advances in healthtech–and what might need to happen to bring them to reality.

6/21/2022: 5 MLB Sports Networks to Add $19.99 Direct-to-Consumer Streaming, PCMag

I wrote a quick post about five regional sports networks owned by Sinclar Broadcast Group letting fans in those markets–Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa–pay directly for streaming coverage of games instead of having to buy a larger pay-TV bundle.

6/21/2022: Diversity is the key to digital transformation, Collision

For my second Collision panel, I interviewed Katia Walsh, chief global strategy and artificial intelligence officer at Levi’s. Knowing that job title, I had lead off by asking what AI had to do with the cut of a pair of jeans–and I learned a thing or two from her answers.

6/23/2022: Boom Says Commercial Supersonic Air Travel Will Be Viable Again in 2029, PCMag

As a card-carrying avgeek, I had to watch the Collision presentation of Boom Supersonic CEO Blake Scholl, then quiz him at the subsequent press conference.

6/25/2022: Rob Pegoraro returns to Washington Apple Pi, Washington Apple Pi/PATACS

I made my first in-person appearance at a local user group meeting since November of 2019, in this case a joint gathering of Washington Apple Pi and the Potomac Area Technology and Computer Society (PATACS). My ulterior motive was unloading the tech-event swag I’ve had taking up space in my home-office closet, but in addition to serving as a decluttering exercise this event served up some interesting questions about smartphone service and blockchain technology.

Weekly output: Comcast advertising report, FuboTV, Apple TV+ promo, autopay discounts, Apple MLS streaming, investor-founder relationships, Maxio and Skillnet Ireland, fighting disinformation, health and location-data privacy

A month of speaking at conferences–with a one-week break when I came down with a gentle and brief case of Covid–wraps up this week with my short trip to Toronto to lead two panels at Collision.

6/13/2022: Comcast advertising report: Live TV lives on, FierceVideo

I did some fill-in writing at my trade-pub client, starting with this Comcast report on streaming-video advertising.

6/13/2022: FuboTV adds FAST channels from Trusted Media Brands, FierceVideo

My second post at Fierce allowed to mention cat videos in the lede.

6/13/2022: Apple TV+ makes first season of ‘For All Mankind’ free for all, FierceVideo

This day’s work ended with a quick post about one of my favorite Apple TV+ shows.

6/15/2022: Setting up autopay for your broadband or wireless can require careful aim, USA Today

Broadband providers’ inability to document the finer points of their pricing once again served up a story idea for me.

6/15/2022: Apple to Exclusively Stream All Major League Soccer Matches in 2023, PCMag

The story I did for FierceVideo in December of 2019 about D.C. United’s first attempt to go streaming-only looks a little more prescient now that MLS has agreed to have Apple offer live coverage of every match.

6/15/2022: FIRESIDE: Being on speed dial: how founders can best partner with their investors for maximum impact, Dublin Tech Summit

I interviewed Jonathan Heiliger, general partner with Vertex Ventures, about his lessons learned as a founder of tech startups and an investor in tech startups.

Photo of a list of panels on a wall at Dublin Tech Summit, with my second panel of June 15 listed about halfway down.6/15/2022: PANEL: Tales of Digital Transformation, Dublin Tech Summit

My second DTS panel had me quizzing Sally-Ann O’Callaghan, a regional director with the billing-services firm Maxio, and Mark Jordan, chief strategy officer with the tech-training organization Skillnet Ireland.

6/16/2022: Disinformation Experts Warn About US ‘Playbook’ Being Exploited Globally, PCMag

Day two of DTS featured this enlightening discussion between moderator Eric Schurenberg, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy research director Joan Donovan, Kinzen co-founder Áine Kerr, and Logically CEO Lyric Jain
about the challenges of combating disinformation campaigns.

6/17/2022: Senate Bill Would Bar Data Brokers From Profiting Off Location, Health Data, PCMag

I wrote this post around 3 in the morning after realizing that jet lag wouldn’t have me falling back asleep any time soon–a decision that paid off several hours later when a slow security line and the inefficiency of U.S. customs preclearance at Dublin Airport left me with less free time than I’d expected before my flight back to the States.

Updated 6/26/2022 to add the FierceVideo posts I’d forgotten before, an omission I’m going to blame on jet lag. 

Weekly output: sports streaming, Mark Vena podcast, Warner Bros. Discovery hire, U.S. ends Covid test rule, RCS vs. iMessage, federal EV-charging specifications, antique mobile apps

My Covid roller coaster of a week started with a couple of nap-heavy days after last Sunday’s positive test, transitioned to me waiting to see the positive strips in rapid tests start to fade as my cold-like symptoms already had, and wrapped up with that positive strip vanishing faster than I might have hoped. That leaves me free to proceed with my earlier travel plans: flying to Ireland Monday night for Dublin Tech Summit to moderate two panels there and finally use my Irish passport in the country that issued it to me.

6/8/2022: Sports-streaming panel finds no one winning play in key issues, FierceVideo

Instead of speaking at this publication’s Stream TV Show and writing up a couple of panels, I could only cover this discussion about sports streaming, one of a limited set of talks available via streaming at a conference devoted to that very topic.

6/9/2022: S02 E24 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s podcast conversation (also on video) focused on Apple’s WWDC news from earlier in the week.

6/10/2022: Warner Bros. Discovery names sports-CEO pick, FierceVideo

My fill-in duty at my trade-pub client, continuing through Monday, included a quick write-up of this hire.

6/10/2022: US Finally Scraps COVID Test Requirement for Inbound International Flights, PCMag

This is a story I’ve been hoping to write for months.

Screenshot of USAT column as seen in Safari on an iPad6/10/2022: Why haven’t iPhone, Android messaging apps evolved to make it easier to talk to each other?, USA Today

I first wrote this after Google I/O last month, then updated it to note how Apple ignored the entire issue of Android-iOS messaging security at WWDC. Alas, that rewriting cycle did not help me catch a stupid mistake that a friend asked about the day after the story was published: I wrote that Apple’s Messages app shows non-iMessage texts in blue bubbles, not the actual green bubbles of shame.

6/11/2022: Biden Admin to Set Standards for Federally Funded EV Charging Stations, PCMag

Writing this post about proposed requirements for electric-car charging stations funded through last year’s infrastructure law took longer than I expected after I got into the weeds reading about the finer points of EV-charging systems. Which is good, because I need to know this stuff in depth.

6/12/2022: Apps can live on in your phone or tablet, even after removed from an app store, USA Today

I wrote this explainer after Apple and Google announced new rules for quasi-neglected apps–and Apple’s first iteration was especially harsh and its revision of them still left app developers a little puzzled.

Updated 6/26/2022 to add the sports-streaming panel; I’m blaming Covid for my forgetting to note that before. 

Weekly output: Supreme Court stops Texas social-media law, Russian digital attacks, NESN goes DTC, new bipartisan privacy bill

Until a few hours ago, my agenda for the week ahead involved flying to Denver to moderate a panel at the Stream TV Show. But after a few days of feeling a moderately sore throat–and having months ago made a self-test part of my pre-departure routine before any work or personal trip–I broke out one of the antigen tests we got for free from the government. And this time, I got to see in person what a positive test looks like on one of these things.

As a result, the post I wrote this week for Patreon readers about my busy travel schedule this month is now… not inoperative, but certainly less operative.

6/1/2022: Supreme Court Ices Texas Social Media Moderation Ban, PCMag

I filed this the morning after I arrived in Helsinki for WithSecure’s Sphere conference, taking advantage of jet lag having me awake way too early.

Screenshot of the story as seen in Safari for iPadOS, featuring the photo I took of this talk showing Hyppönen standing before a screen showing his talk's title: "Ctrl Z"6/2/2022: Why Russia’s Cyberattacks on Ukraine Have Failed to Make a Significant Dent, PCMag

That event–as in, this event that covered my travel costs–had some enlightening talks. But the only one that I felt yielded a newsworthy post, given the constraints imposed by the conference schedule and my own jet lag, was this talk by WithSecure chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen about why Russia hasn’t been able to leave much of a digital dent in Ukraine.

6/3/2022: Red Sox Regional Sports Network Launches $30 Streaming Service, PCMag

After waking up for no apparent reason before 4 a.m. (have I mentioned how bad jet lag whomped me on this trip?), I decided to take advantage of that sleepless time and bang out a post about NESN finally going direct to consumer (aka “DTC”), giving cord-cutting Red Sox fans an alternative to paying for a traditional pay-TV bundle.

6/4/2022: Legislators Introduce Bipartisan Digital-Privacy Bill That May Not Be Doomed, PCMag

My Saturday work–Friday having been spent nodding off on the two flights that took me home–was reading up on and writing about a new privacy bill that seems like it might offer a workable compromise. I mean, except for the fact that Congress has spent the last decade finding new ways to fumble away opportunities to pass meaningful federal privacy legislation.

Weekly output: ISP guidance, Florida social-media law meets court setback, digital-platform antitrust bill updated, WiFi hotspots guide, Mark Vena podcast

I returned Monday from one work trip and have (ulp) four more coming up before the end of June. But at least they’re all separated by at least two days!

5/23/2022: Internet Service Providers, U.S. News & World Report

My contribution to this update of U.S. News’ guide consisted of three comparisons (Fios vs. XfinitySpectrum vs. AT&T, Xfinity vs. AT&T), advice about cheaper ISPs, and a DSL explainer that I hope you don’t need.

Screenshot of PCMag story, illustrated with a photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking in front of an "Awake Not Woke" banner5/24/2022: US Appeals Court Tosses Most Provisions of Florida Social-Media Law, PCMag

The ruling from a three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit overturning a Florida law essentially banning content moderation of posts from or about officially-filed political candidates is uncommonly clear in explaining why those judges found this statute to be unconstitutional garbage.

5/26/2022: Senators Update Antitrust Bill to Focus More Narrowly on Big Tech Firms, PCMag

PCMag had somehow not previously covered this bill from Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), so I used an incremental update to the bill’s text to get readers up to speed.

5/26/2022: The Best Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wirecutter

This is an incremental update to the hotspot guide I’ve been maintaining since early 2015–because while speeds and rates have changed, I haven’t yet had a chance to try a new set of 5G hotspots now available from AT&T and Verizon.

5/27/2022: S02 E22 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I joined the usual podcast crew to talk about electric cars, the dumb Texas social-media law that somehow survived a different federal circuit court’s scrutiny, and a few other topics; as usual, the podcast is also available on YouTube.

Weekly output: Google lets people keep legacy Google Apps accounts for personal use, broadband gains and pay-TV losses, Bing autosuggest hid some Chinese names

SANTA ROSA, Calif.–My road trip through the Pacific Northwest that started in Boise last Sunday ends Monday morning when I fly home. Doing wireless-carrier drive testing for this year’s version of PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project has taken me to some beautiful places, but I will be delighted to see the same old D.C.-area scenery tomorrow.

PCMag post on Google relenting on legacy G Suite5/17/2022: Google Clicks ‘Undo’ on Plan to Force Legacy Free Google Apps Users to Pay Up, PCMag

Google had spent months telling people (like me) who had long ago opened free Google Apps accounts to use e-mail under personal domain names that they’d have to pay for a business account or relocate their mail service elsewhere. Then the company said, in effect, “never mind.” I’m feeling confused but relieved, as the alternatives all seemed ugly in their own ways.

5/18/2022: TV Subscription Losses Almost Double Broadband-Subscription Gains in Q1, PCMag

I wrote up two reports from the consultancy Leichtman Research Group showing continued growth in broadband subscriptions and continued losses in pay-TV subscriptions. The detail that jumped out at me: how much fixed-wireless broadband service from T-Mobile and Verizon has grown in the last year.

5/20/2022: Bing Hid Auto-Suggestions for Politically Sensitive Chinese Names, Even in the US, PCMag

A new report from Citizen Lab found Microsoft’s Bing search site didn’t autosuggest search terms for certain names that would be considered politically delicate in China. Note my comment in this post about how this University of Toronto-based group found another form of autosuggest filtering that can’t be blamed on anything but the difficulty of automated content screening.

Weekly output: inflight WiFi (x2), cheaper broadband, Google I/O, Texas social-media law, DEA data-portal hack, Twitter mourns Shireen Abu Akleh, SpaceX recap

BOISE–For the second year in a row, I’m on the road for PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project. And this time the work has taken me much farther from home: After completing the network drive testing I started here after arriving Sunday afternoon, I’m heading to Seattle, Portland and then the Bay Area before flying home.

5/9/2022: Wi-Fi on the plane: Here’s how in-flight connectivity is changing (and costing), USA Today

I know everybody loves to complain about the unreliable state of inflight WiFi, but I see two positive trends worth a little applause: flat-rate pricing and free use of messaging apps.

5/9/2022: White House Lines Up 20 ISPs to Offer Free 100Mbps Broadband to Qualifying Households, PCMag

I wrote up the Biden administration’s announcement of a partnership with 20 Internet providers that will lower service costs to zero for households eligible for the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program–and noted how this deal’s ban on data caps make some of these companies’ existing broadband plans look even worse.

5/10/2022: Wi-Fi on the plane: Here’s how in-flight connectivity is changing (and costing), This Morning with Gordon Deal

The business-news radio show had me on talk about recent developments in using the Internet from a chair in the sky.

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari on an iPad mini 55/12/2022: Here are the 4 most surprising takeaways from the first day of Google’s I/O conference, Fast Company

Part of the keynote that opened Google’s I/O conference reminded me of today’s Apple, while another part evoked a previous decade’s Microsoft.

5/12/2022: US Appeals Court Rules Social Media Content Moderation Should Be Restricted, PCMag

I wrote about an unexplained and inexplicable ruling by a panel of federal judges that allowed a blatantly unconstitutional Texas law to take effect. My post had its own inexplicable error: I linked to the wrong one-page ruling and therefore named the wrong judges. No readers yelled at me about the mistake before I realized it on my own, but I feel stupid about it anyway.

5/12/2022: Hackers Reportedly Gain Access to Drug Enforcement Administration Data Portal, PCMag

My old Washington Post pal Brian Krebs had a scoop about what seems to be a massive data breach made possible by poor security practices, which I wrote up while adding some context about the White House’s recent moves to improve federal infosec.

5/12/2022: Twitter reactions to Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on Thursday night to discuss how Twitter reacted to the horrible news of their correspondent being shot and killed, apparently by Israeli soldiers, while reporting in the West Bank.

5/13/2022: Here’s How Close We Came to Relying on the Russians for ISS Trips, PCMag

I spent Thursday afternoon in D.C. at Ars Technica’s Ars Frontiers conference, and an insightful interview of former NASA deputy administrator by that estimable news site’s space reporter Eric Berger yielded this recap.

Weekly output: Rocket Lab booster catch, passwordless logins, Mark Vena podcast, Chris Krebs cybersecurity-policy assessment, Facebook to end background location tracking

Friday marked two years since we adopted our cat. Abel still ignores us when we tell him not to jump on the dining-room table but is a sweetie in most other ways. And every time I expand the online world’s inventory of cat photos by posting one of him, I feel like I am being a good citizen of the Internet.

Screenshot of the PCMag post in Safari for iPadOS, showing the screengrab I took of Rocket Lab's stream showing the Electron booster and its parachute at right, with the helicopter's cable at left.5/3/2022: Watch a Helicopter Catch an Electron Booster Rocket, PCMag

I watched a helicopter catch and briefly hold a spent first stage of a rocket as it descended under a parachute, a first-time experience for me, and then tuned into Rocket Lab’s press conference hours later to get some quotes from Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck for this story.

5/5/2022: Google lines up with Apple and Microsoft to nix passwords in favor of nearby-device authentication, Fast Company

I got an advance on this three-company news announcement from Google, so all the quotes in this post are from two Googlers. If you’d like to read more about this initiative, please turn your attention to Dan Goodin’s writeup at Ars Technica.

5/5/2022: S02 E19 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this podcast after missing it last week due to travel.

5/6/2022: Ex-CISA Chief: Biden Cybersecurity EO ‘Raises the Standard’ on IT Vendors, PCMag

I wrote up the closing session at the Hack the Capitol event in D.C., in which former Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Administration director Chris Krebs shared his insights about the state of information-security policy.

5/6/2022: Facebook Unfollows ‘Nearby Friends,’ Other Background Location Features

Facebook bulk-erasing everybody’s location history will be its biggest data-minimization move since scrapping its facial-recognition database. And yet the company’s sole announcement of this move Friday was in-app prompts and e-mails for some users.

Weekly output: Elon Musk buying Twitter, chief impact officers, U.S.-led Internet declaration, airBaltic’s NFT ambitions

Work took me on a short trip to the Baltics this week–one made a little longer on the way home by a date-validation glitch in a COVID-testing app. Have I mentioned how much I hate the CDC testing rule for returning international flights that has no counterpart for domestic flights?

This week’s bonus for Patreon readers: a post unpacking a curious case of a telecom company’s publicists going out of their way to avoid telling the press about a welcome development in their product lineup.

4/25/2018: Elon Musk buying Twitter, Al Jazeera

Somehow, my only paid-for opining about the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire’s bid to buy Twitter came in this appearance on the Arabic-language news channel. Please note that I didn’t write “somehow” as a synonym for “regretfully.”

Photo of the TechChill logo as seen on a display in front of the stage in Riga, Latvia4/28/2022: What do Chief Impact Officers Really Do?, TechChill

I led a discussion about this new c-suite slot with two recently-hired chief impact officers: Contentsquare’s Kat Borlongan, who appeared via video, and Maanch’s Sianne Haldane, who joined me onstage.

4/29/2022: US Gets 60 Countries to Sign ‘Declaration for the Future of the Internet’, PCMag

I contrasted this White House-led declaration of open-Internet principles with a list of countries that indulged in Internet shutoffs most often in 2021–meaning India and then everybody else.

4/29/2022: AirBaltic CEO Touts Cryptocurrency Experiments, Predicts NFT Airline Tickets. PCMag

A TechChill panel featured airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss holding forth on the airline’s ambitions to rebuild such core functions as ticketing on NFT foundations. I get that these announcements win the carrier some extra publicity (as seen in this post), but the real reason to fly airBaltic (should their routes match your travel patterns) is their flying the Airbus A220, one of the finest regional jets ever made.