Weekly output: Qualcomm’s automotive ambitions, MEF Connects USA, corporate America’s tech ideas, Verizon 5G home and gaming news, Halo car sharing

I went to my last Nats game of the year Saturday–a 13-4 trouncing of the Phillies that reminded me of better days in the past and, I trust, the future. We also had tickets for Sunday, but with rain forecast all day I declined the opportunity to participate in the sunk-cost fallacy.

9/27/2022: Qualcomm sells a story of in-car inevitability, Light Reading

I wrote this recap of Qualcomm’s pitch to the auto industry at an event in New York the previous Thursday. Note that Qualcomm’s pitch to invited attendees included comped travel; I already had my train fare to and from NYC covered by the Back Market conference at which I spoke earlier that week but did accept two nights in a hotel to simplify my logistics–after obtaining my client’s permission.

A printout shows the order of panels at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum's MEF Connects USA conference.9/27/2022: MEF Connects USA, Mobile Ecosystem Forum

After joining this industry’s group’s podcast in April, the MEF people asked if I’d be interested in speaking at the conference they were organizing for the day before MWC Las Vegas. I wound up emceeing the afternoon half of the program and moderating three panels–one about the future of mobile identity yielded a what-if post for my Patreon readers, while two others on carrier billing for services educated me about aspects of the mobile industry that I’d overlooked.

9/29/2022: Sorry, But Your Boss Is Pretty Hyped About Today’s Most Annoying Tech Trends, PCMag

I can’t claim any credit for the headline on this post summing up a KPMG survey of attitudes among senior U.S. tech executives towards such topics as cryptocurrency and VR.

9/29/2022: At MWC, Verizon unwraps upgraded FWA receiver and 5G gaming gambit, Light Reading

With the MEF folks having agreed to cover my airfare and two nights of lodging, sticking around for another two nights on my own dime to cover MWC Las Vegas was an easy call. This recap of Verizon’s announcements during the opening keynote was the first of two posts I wrote for my telecom trade-pub client that week.

10/1/2022: Hello, Halo: This Car-Share Service Remotely Drives Its Vehicles to You, PCMag

With nothing blocking my schedule Thursday afternoon, I opted to ditch the conference for a few hours to try out Halo, the car-sharing service I’d covered for Fast Company last summer that has the car meet you, controlled remotely by a professional human driver, instead of your having to make your own way to the vehicle. As I quickly learned, the reality of this service in its beta-test stage includes some safety-driven inefficiencies.

Weekly output: gadget customer satisfaction, Google Pay fact-checking rewards, right to repair, Mozilla browser-choice report, AI image generators

Through two years of building back my business-travel schedule, one frequent destination from the Before Times had remained off my calendar until this week: New York. My overdue reunion with NYC allowed an equally belated inspection of Penn Station’s Moynihan Train Hall (one thing I didn’t expect was how great it would be to see the sky through that glass ceiling as I ascended the escalator from the tracks) and not enough time to wander around that other city on the Northeast Corridor.

9/20/2022: Amazon Sees Uptick in Consumer Satisfaction With Its Fire Tablets, Kindles, PCMag

I got an advance look at the latest survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which suggested that Amazon’s e-readers and tablets have been winning some fans in the last year.

9/21/2022: Some Google Pay Users Offered Tiny Bribes to Check Transaction Data, PCMag

I decided to try to sell this story after Google prompted me in Copenhagen to verify that its app had correctly recorded a transaction at a ticket-vending machine in that city’s central train station–which should be among the easier paperless transactions to confirm.

Photo shows the slide identifying me and my fellow panelists: Lisa Kemp of Sims Lifecycle Solutions, Ildar Manoprov of WCell, and Dylan Jackie of Back Market.9/21/2022: Right to Repair Panel, BackForum

The gadget-resale platform Back Market had me moderate a panel at its one-day conference in Brooklyn, in return for which they covered my Amtrak fare from and back to D.C. This was originally going to be a one-day trip, but after Qualcomm invited me to an auto-tech event it was hosting the next day (with lodging covered), I opted to stick around NYC through Friday morning.

9/22/2022: Mozilla says users are being denied browser choice. It’s not that simple, PCMag

My first prominent endorsement of Mozilla Firefox happened 18 years ago, and yet I still found this report that browser’s developers to be surprisingly unpersuasive. 

9/25/2022: Why This Online Archivist Isn’t Feeling Much Angst About AI-Generated Art, PCMag

After arriving at Union Station late Friday morning, I bikeshared over to the Wharf for the conference hosted by The Atlantic that was a fixture in my Before Times calendar. The talk by the Internet Archive’s Jason Scott immediately struck me as material for a post, and then I had a moderately mind-expanding talk with him an hour and change later.

Weekly output: Roku updates, targeted TV ads (x2), Instagram Reels, online-ad advice, TechBBQ startup pitches, Theranos whistleblower

This week’s trip to Copenhagen for the TechBBQ conference was going to introduce me to two new countries, thanks to my connection in Iceland each way. And then I realized that I could duck over to Sweden for breakfast Friday morning, thanks to Europe’s longest road/rail bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden with frequent and cheap train service.

9/12/2022: Upcoming Roku interface changes nod to streaming complexity, Fierce Video

Another run of fill-in work at my video trade-pub client started with this writeup of upcoming Roku product releases.

9/12/2022: Fox enlists Comscore to help target local TV ads, Fierce Video

Fox is bringing on outside help to improve its ad targeting at its local TV stations.

9/12/2022: New Dish partnership to enable real-time programmatic TV ads, Fierce Video

Dish is enlisting similar assistance with its targeted ads.

9/13/2022: WSJ report: Instagram’s Reels is reeling in hardly anybody, Fierce Video

A few days after writing this, I finally had a Reel catch my eye–in the form of one my brother had posted.

9/13/2022: Advertising Group Urges Companies: Give Customers a Reason to Share Data, PCMag

I finished writing this summary of a report from the ad-industry group IAB while sitting at the gate for my flight from Dulles to Reykjavik.

The audience for my panel, a few minutes before it started. Attendees wear headphones provided by the organizers to cope with a noisy venue.9/14/2022: PR & Press Panel Pitch, TechBBQ

My contribution to this conference, alongside moderator Morgan Meaker of Wired and fellow judges Jordan French of Grit Daily News, Amala Balakrishner of DealStreetAsia and Niels Lunde of Børsen, consisted of quizzing a set of early-stage firms picked by TechBBQ’s organizers: Seaborg Technologies (cost-competitive nuclear power), FarmDroid (robotic agriculture), Stykka (eco-friendly interior construction), Atlant 3D Nanosystems (nano-scale additive manufacturing), and Blue Lobster (sustainable seafood). All five had to present with the unexpected disadvantage of the audio-video system preventing them from showing all but snippets of their slide decks.

9/15/2022: Theranos Whistleblower on Lessons Learned: I ‘Would Have Hired a Lawyer’, PCMag

I wasn’t sure if a conference focused on the Nordic tech ecosystem would yield a story for a U.S. audience, but Tech.eu editor-in-chef Robin Wauters’s interview of Theranos whistleblower Erika Cheung provided just that.

Weekly output: Huawei’s IFA pitch, broadband buildout, Verizon One Unlimited for iPhone, iPhone 12 and 13 discounts, pay-TV warnings, Super Bowl ads, Mark Vena podcast

A week after I got back from Berlin, I finished my Flickr album of photos from the event, plus another one of Berlin scenery. That comes just in time for me to get back on a plane to Europe: Monday night, I fly to Copenhagen for the TechBBQ conference, at which I’ll be one of the judges at a startup pitching session.

9/5/2022: Huawei exec generates reality distortion field in IFA keynote, Light Reading

The head of Huawei’s Western European consumer business gave some answers in this onstage Q&A that seemed not just detached from reality but delusional.

9/6/2022: NTIA Head: At First, New Broadband Maps Are ‘Not Going to Be as Good’ as We Want, PCMag

While the federal government will soon have much more accurate maps of broadband availability, it apparently won’t use them to distribute broadband-buildout subsidies until localites get a chance to challenge perceived inaccuracies.

9/7/2022: ‘One Unlimited for iPhone’ Is Verizon’s Sixth Unlimited-Data Phone Plan, PCMag

The lede here wrote itself: “Verizon now needs both hands to count all its unlimited-data smartphone plans.”

Screenshot of story as seen in USA Today's iPad app, with the lead art being an Apple-provided photo showing five iPhone 14 handsets in different colors.9/7/2022: Why now’s a great time to grab an iPhone 12 or 13 at a discount after iPhone 14 launch, USA Today

This explainer of the potential appeal of the newly-discounted iPhone 12 and 13 got a quick update after AT&T clarified that only the new iPhone 14 would be supported on the 3.45 GHz 5G spectrum it’s now deploying (which is not the same as its C-band 5G but also significant to its network plans).

9/8/2022: MoffettNathanson raises red flags about cord cutting, Fierce Video

On another day when I was filling in at my trade-pub client, I wrote up a research report warning media firms and pay-TV providers that cord cutting and advertising revenue each stood to get a good deal worse, while sports-rights deals would probably get even more expensive.

9/8/2022: Fox says Super Bowl spots are going, going, almost gone, Fierce Video

And speaking of sports-rights deals and advertising revenue, Fox Sports says it’s sold almost all of the spots for the next Super Bowl.

9/9/2022: S02 E35 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this industry-analyst host and my fellow tech journalists John Quain and Stewart Wolpin to discuss IFA (Vena and Quain also covered it in Berlin) and Apple’s product-launch event Wednesday. One point I made about the latter: While Apple’s satellite-SOS feature looks fascinating, Apple requiring a subscription after the first two years raises a risk that somebody will set out for a wilderness hike with an iPhone that just turned two years old, then realize they can’t use that feature to summon help.

Weekly output: SLS explained, skepticism for Warner Bros. Discovery, wireless carrier cell-site location data retention, security-patch severity, Twitter opens Circle feature, Samsung’s 8K pitch at IFA, electronic eccentricities at IFA

This week’s trip to Berlin and back to cover the IFA trade show (reminder, with the event organizers covering most of my travel costs) finally allowed me to experience Berlin Brandenburg Airport as a passenger instead of as a zombie-airport tourist. I can’t say I miss Tegel Airport’s weird system of having separate security screenings at every gate.

Fast Company SLS explainer8/29/2022: NASA’s Space Launch System—whenever it comes—will mark the end of an era for U.S. spaceflight, Fast Company

This post needed a quick rewrite before posting to cover Monday’s scrub of the planned Artemis I launch of the SLS. After a second scrub Saturday, this headline remains current. And it appears that I have a renewed opportunity to see this giant rocket fly in person

8/29/2022: Bloomberg Intelligence raises flags about Warner Bros. Discovery, Fierce Video

I wrote this post during last week’s flurry of filling in at my trade-pub client, but it didn’t get published until Monday.

8/29/2022: Here’s How Long Your Wireless Carrier Holds on to Your Location Data, PCMag

I wrote this from a lounge at Dulles Airport before my departure for Berlin, but it helped that I’ve covered this topic before.

8/31/2022: Security patches for your iPhone come all the time. But should you be told which are important?, USA Today

This isn’t the first time a column for USAT started with a tech-support query from a relative.

9/1/2022: Twitter opens Circle to all users, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel asked if I could cover Twitter’s introduction of this new audience-selection tool. It’s an interesting topic (in part because Twitter has basically reinvented the Circles feature of Google+), but doing this TV hit from IFA required me to find a quiet spot with bandwidth. I found that spot in the landscaped Sommergarten in the middle of the Berlin Messe.

9/2/2022: Samsung Shows Off a Video Unicorn at IFA: A TV Series in 8K, PCMag

The dismal 8K sales stats I reference in the closing paragraphs are really something, and I’m saying that as a longtime skeptic of the 8K value proposition.

9/3/2022: Ovens with eyes, a chameleon of a fridge, and other electronic eccentricities at IFA, Fierce Electronics

I wrote this recap of IFA oddities–a staple of my coverage of the show over the last 10 years–for this sibling publication of Fierce Video.

Weekly output: 5G IoT security worries, Big Ten carriage deals, House of the Dragon streaming glitches, Netflix + ads, Russian digital attacks on Ukraine, YouTube TV, Thursday Night Football, Xfinity Mobile, NBC Sports Washington, non-TV video viewing, Plex breach, video budgets, FuboTV, LotR: Rings of Power, SpaceX + T-Mobile

Monday’s schedule has three big items on it: the Space Launch System’s Artemis I liftoff, our kid starting seventh grade, and my flying across the Atlantic for the IFA electronics trade show in Berlin for the first time since 2019. They’re all pretty exciting, although one of them has a vastly more detailed checklist.

(The IFA organizers are covering most of the travel costs for an invited group of U.S. journalists and analysts, your blogger here included.)

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari on an iPad mini 5.8/22/2022: The next wave of wireless security worries: API-driven IoT devices, Light Reading

My Black Hat coverage continued with this recap of a talk about the possible security risks of connected devices on 4G and 5G networks.

8/22/2022: NBCUniversal and its Peacock streamer get Big Ten Saturday night, FierceVideo

I spent my mornings this week filling in at my video trade-pub client, starting with this post about a sweeping deal for college-sports carriage rights.

8/22/2022: Some Fire TV users fired up over streaming glitches with HBO Max, FierceVideo

Some House of the Dragon viewers had trouble watching the Game of Thrones prequel on Amazon Fire TV devices.

8/22/2022: Report: Netflix to keep new movies and kids’ shows ad-free, FierceVideo

I can imagine the relief of cash-strapped parents on learning that the upcoming cheaper-with-ads version of Netflix won’t feature ads in kid-oriented content.

8/23/2022: Six months into the war, how have Ukraine and its Western allies resisted Russia’s digital tactics?, Fast Company

I was almost done with this piece when I got the chance to quiz TCP/IP co-author Vint Cerf at a Washington event about how Russia has abused his creation.

8/23/2022: YouTube TV to add YouTube Shorts and four-channel viewing, FierceVideo

This lede essentially wrote itself: “YouTube TV’s shorter-attention-span viewers may applaud (albeit briefly) two new features apparently coming to the streaming video service.”

8/23/2022: DirecTV-Amazon deal keeps Thursday Night Football in bars, FierceVideo

This story about NFL rights is really one about the uneven availability of broadband in the U.S.

8/23/2022: Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile Cuts Rates for Subscribers With 2 or 3 Lines, PCMag

Verifying the fine print in Xfinity Mobile’s plans took a surprisingly long time.

8/24/2022: Comcast sells D.C. RSN to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, FierceVideo

After I wrote this, the Washington Post reported that MSE founder Ted Leonsis is preparing a bid to buy the Washington Nationals.

8/24/2022: 59% of U.S. adults watch video daily on non-TV devices, FierceVideo

I wrote up a survey of video-viewing habits.

8/24/2022: Plex reports data breach, tells users to reset passwords, FierceVideo

It was somewhat nice to write about a data breach that didn’t involve me.

8/25/2022: Survey: 26% of U.S. households have cut video budgets, FierceVideo

This survey found that Americans’ biggest money-saving move was dining out less often.

8/26/2022: Fubo adds slate of Cinedigm FAST lifestyle channels, FierceVideo

I noted that the streaming-TV provider Fubo’s list of channels is now as long as the average cable company’s.

8/26/2022: WSJ: Amazon spends $715 million on The Rings of Power, FierceVideo

I would have written this piece faster if I hadn’t spent so much time finding Lord of the Rings references to drop into it.

8/26/2022: T-Mobile to Expand Coverage With the Help of SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites, PCMag

A very long Thursday wrapped up with me writing a version of this post from an advance copy of the joint SpaceX/T-Mobile announcement, then rewriting it that night after watching the stream of the event.

Weekly output: security attitudes at Black Hat, American Airlines bullish on Boom, Visible changes plans, business cybersecurity worries, Mark Vena podcast

With our kid going back to school a week from Monday, this is my last week of day-camp-commute driving for the year.

Screenshot of column as seen in Firefox for macOS8/16/2022: As Black Hat security conference turns 25, a lesson: security doesn’t have an end point, USA Today

I didn’t finish writing this recap until leaving Vegas and using that conference’s video-on-demand option to watch the panel I’d most regretted missing.

8/16/2022: American Airlines Puts Down Deposit on 20 Boom Supersonic Overture Jets, PCMag

Once again, Boom Supersonic had news of an airline order for its Overture jet land unaccompanied by news of an engine design, so this time I reminded readers of how long two recent jet engines took to enter revenue service.

8/17/2022: Visible Reshuffles Plans: No More Party Pay, But Solo Service Is Now $10 Cheaper, PCMag

Visible is taking a page out of its parent firm Verizon’s book by having more than one plan with “unlimited” data.

8/18/2022: What Do Business Execs Worry About Most? Getting Hacked, PCMag

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey finding that business executives worry most about information security shouldn’t be news… except that none of PwC’s previous surveys of suits had found infosec to be their top anxiety.

8/19/2022: S02 E34 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

Recording this week’s episode of the podcast hit a few technical glitches, and for once they weren’t on my end.

Weekly output: LinkNYC, Google renews RCS plea, Chris Krebs at Black Hat, 5G explainer, Cyber Safety Review Board, Web3 security

After a week on the West Coast, including four days in Las Vegas for the Black Hat security conference, I now have two weeks of not going anywhere. Which is good!

8/8/2022: LinkNYC begins deploying 5G kiosks – but not yet with 5G inside, Light Reading

After too many months of not writing for this telecom trade-pub client, I filed this update on New York rebooting its LinkNYC effort to bring free WiFi and digital city services to individual blocks.

8/9/2022: Google Posts Yet Another Plea for Apple to Support RCS Messaging in iMessage, PCMag

Google makes fair points when it calls out Apple for hindering the quality and privacy of cross-platform text messaging by not supporting the RCS messaging standard in iMessage. But Google hurts its cause by not supporting RCS in Google Voice–or even explaining that hangup. Also unhelpful: Google has yet to ship an API that would let the developers of Signal and other third-party messaging apps support RCS.

Screenshot of PCMag post as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 5a, with a VPN service active.8/10/2022: Ex-CISA Chief’s Advice at Black Hat: Make Security Valuable and Attacks Costly, PCMag

I covered the keynote by former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency head Chris Krebs that opened Black Hat. His talk ended on a self-help note, as he advised his audience: “Life’s too short to work for assholes. So don’t.” And yet Krebs worked for President Trump from 2018 through 2020, when Trump fired him for correctly confirming that the 2020 election was run fairly and securely; that could not have been easy for him.

8/11/2022: What Is 5G, and Does It Actually Make a Difference?, Wirecutter

I wrote yet another 5G explainer, this time for the New York Times’ Wirecutter site.

8/11/2022: How a US Govt Board Helped the Open-Source Community Leap to Patch Log4j, PCMag

As the token Washingtonian among PCMag’s crew of writers, I had to write up this very Washington panel about the first test of the Cyber Safety Review Board–an organization set up as an infosec version of the National Transportation Safety Board.

8/12/2022: Why Is Web3 Security Such a Garbage Fire? Let Us Count the Ways, PCMag

This talk about a series of security meltdowns at blockchain-based sites and services had more than a few unintentional-comedy moments.

8/12/2022: The 14 Scariest Things We Saw at Black Hat 2022, PCMag

My contribution to this recap was the “Startups Shirk Security” section.

Updated 8/21/2022 to add the PCMag Black Hat recap.

Weekly output: Starlink, spectrum coordination, flight delays (x2), T-Mobile and Verizon 5G home broadband, Mark Vena podcast

About one year later than I’d planned, I’m flying to Las Vegas Tuesday to cover the Black Hat information-security conference. Two big factors in my deciding to go ahead with that trip this year: My kid is now vaccinated and boosted, while I had Covid barely seven weeks ago.

8/2/2022: SpaceX’s Starlink has soared, but a course correction may be on the horizon, Fast Company

More weeks ago than I’d like to admit, one of my editors asked if I could do a more in-depth look at the progress of SpaceX’s Starlink low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation. A day after this piece ran, Reddit’s ever-informative r/starlink served up new evidence of capacity issues at this service: a new rate plan in France that cuts the monthly rate in half but imposes a 250 GB threshold for possible speed deprioritization.

8/2/2022: 2 Key Federal Telecom Agencies Promise to Play Nice With Wireless Spectrum, PCMag

Two federal offices about two miles apart in D.C. pledged to work better together in spectrum planning. That might seem like an obvious thing to do, but the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last updated this memorandum of understanding in 2003.

Story as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 5a phone, showing its lead illustration: a photo of people waiting on line at an airport.8/3/2022: Don’t Get Stranded: How to Watch for Flight Delays and Get Around Them, PCMag

A discussion on PCMag’s Slack workspace about coping with travel hiccups led to me asking if I could write this story, and not just because I’d like to recoup my added travel costs from my unplanned extra night in Toronto in June.

8/3/2022: How Verizon ‘fixed wireless’ and T-Mobile home broadband is converting cable customers, USA Today

After a reality-check interview with an analyst who reminded me that fiber scales so much better to meet demand than fixed wireless can, this column on the progress of T-Mobile and Verizon’s 5G-based home broadband got a bit less enthusiastic about its potential.

8/4/2022: S02 E32 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

My main contribution to this discussion was talking about my Starlink story, but if you watch the video of the podcast you can also see me scowl at a Lightning cable.

8/5/2022: DOT Moves to Strengthen Rules on Refunds for Flight Changes, Cancellations, PCMag

Speaking of travel delays, I returned to the subject to cover a set of proposed Department of Transportation rules that would clarify what counts as a significant schedule change and a cancelled flight–and require either non-expiring trip credits or straight-up refunds for travel canceled because of a future pandemic.

Weekly output: slumping social-media satisfaction, Russia threatens to leave ISS, CHIPS Act, IRS direct e-filing, net-neutrality bill

My workweek ended with a streak of only-in-Washington posts.

7/26/2022: Customer Satisfaction With Social Media Platforms Is Slumping, PCMag

I got an advance look at the latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, an ongoing survey project that’s been a source of story ideas since I worked at the Post.

Article as seen in the iPadOS Flipboard app7/27/2022: A Russian ISS exit could give NASA a hangover—then leave cosmonauts grounded, Fast Company

I could have written this explainer at twice its length and detail, but I’m also the guy who has a Lego model of the ISS rounding out my home-office decor. I’m glad that I ended this piece with some skepticism about Russia’s ability to walk away from the station after 2024, because by the end of the week Russia had clarified that it would not leave the ISS until launching its own space station in 2028–a goal that no serious observer seems to think within that country’s grasp.

7/29/2022: House OKs CHIPS Act to Boost US Semiconductor Manufacturing, PCMag

It’s easier to sell a bill in Congress with a clever acronym; this one’s title stands for “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors.”

7/29/2022: IRS Asked to Consider Free, Direct E-File Tax Returns, PCMag

The “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” doesn’t have much in common with the “Build Back Better” bill, but it does retain that larger measure’s provision calling for the IRS to report back to Congress on the feasibility of providing its own direct e-filing site. As in, what Virginia had 12 years ago before a gullible General Assembly and governor fell for Intuit’s “Free File” bait and switch.

7/29/2022: Dems Look to Restore Net-Neutrality Regulations on Internet Providers, PCMag

I don’t get this bill. If Senate Dems can’t even muster 50 votes for Biden’s stalled pro-net-neutrality Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn, what makes them think they can get 60 votes for this sweeping expansion of the FCC’s regulatory authority?