Weekly output: online-news problems and possibilities, Mark Vena podcast

Sometimes these weekly recaps only feature me talking about my coverage instead of, you know, actual examples of my coverage. This week is one of those times.

Screenshot of CPI page showing my event, with a still frame from the video4/7/2021: The Future of Innovation in News Production, Competition Policy International

I moderated this panel on problems and possibilities for online news publishers, featuring eco – Association of the Internet Industry policy adviser Thomas Bihlmayer, tech-policy lawyer Cathy Gellis, and Public Knowledge competition policy director Charlotte Slaiman. Spoiler alert: We did not solve the media’s business-model problems in the hour we had, but the participants all made great points, and I would be happy to pick up the discussion with any of them.

4/7/2021: SmartTechCheck Podcast (4-6-21), Mark Vena

The topic I discussed on this week’s installment of this tech analyst’s podcast: the Supreme Court’s termination of Oracle’s attempt to get courts to grant it a new intellectual-property monopoly, a quest that would have had disastrous effects on interoperability and competition in the software industry. As I said on the show (also available in video form): You can hate Google and still like this ruling.

Weekly output: Qwoted, 5G frontiers, T-Mobile turns off TVision, pay-TV-free MLB, Mark Vena podcast, “Other” iOS storage

It’s Easter Sunday, and my favorite sign of reborn life today is the CDC reporting another 3.37 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered yesterday.

3/29/2021: ‘Qwestion’ & Answer with Rob Pegoraro, Freelance Journalist, Qwoted

This platform set up to connect experts to journalists quizzed me over e-mail at the end of last year.

Screengrab of my CCA panel, showing one panelist's cat perching on this chair.

3/30/2021: New Frontiers For 5G, Mobile Carriers Show

A year ago, I was supposed to moderate a panel discussion about 5G wireless possibilities at the Competitive Carriers Association’s spring conference. That event got scrubbed, and then I wound up doing an online panel about 5G at the same organization’s virtual event this spring. My fellow panelists: T-Mobile chief network officer Ulf Ewaldsson, U.S. Cellular chief technology officer Mike Irizarry (his cat makes a cameo in the screengrab here), Ericsson consumer lab head Jasmeet Sethi, and Nex-Tech Wireless director of operations, network and engineering Nathan Sutter (who somehow has his caption swapped with mine in the screengrab above). Two days later, panel host Fierce Wireless wrote up our talk.

3/30/2021: T-Mobile Turning Off TVision, Will Bundle Philo And YouTube TV Instead, Forbes

T-Mobile dumping the streaming TV service it launched half a year ago, and which I wrote up at the time, made this an obvious story candidate. 

4/1/2021: As Streaming Services Drop Baseball Networks, Many Cord-Cutters Can Only Say ‘Wait Till Next Year’, Forbes

This year’s version of what’s become an annual fixture covered how multiple streaming-TV providers have run away from the regional sports networks that carry most baseball games, and which have socked local viewers with regional-sports-network fees that increase a little more every year. 

4/1/2021: SmartTechCheck Podcast (4-1-21), Mark Vena

This week’s episode of this podcast (also available in video form) involved my gripes about the thin availability of baseball games on streaming TV (see above), Amazon’s clumsy stabs at persuading politicians and their voters via Twitter, and more. 

4/2/2021: What does ‘Other’ mean in your device storage? Dealing with the dark matter of iPhone and iPad data, USA Today

Once again, a family member’s request for tech support led to a tech-support column for USAT.

Updated 4/6/2021 to add a link to the video version of Vena’s podcast.

Weekly output: talking tech with Mark Vena, laptops, Controlled Digital Lending

Researching the second item in this week’s roundup reminded me at length of how much I miss going to large tech trade shows like CES and IFA to assess new gadgets in person. Seeing a new laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other device in a canned online presentation is a weak substitute for a hands-on inspection, and I look forward to the time when I can resume that part of my work.

3/23/2021: SmartTechCheck Podcast (3-23-21), Mark Vena

I’ve now been on my industry-analyst pal’s podcast enough times with the same two fellow tech journalists–Stewart Wolpin and John Quain–that Mark decided to make us regulars. This week, we discussed a topics ranging from the new federal subsidies for educational broadband to the Apple event that was supposed to happen this week, and we also ventured a few predictions. In addition to the audio above, you can watch the video version in the YouTube embed below.

3/25/2021: Laptops, U.S. News & World Report

This project followed the lines of the password-managers guide I helped write over the winter: After editors picked a set of contenders to cover, based on a reading of third-party reviews, I wrote profiles of each of them. (As in, you should not read the rankings here as my own judgment.) In this guide, I covered Apple’s Macbook Air M1 and MacBook Pro 16-inch; Asus’s Chromebook Flip, ROG Zephyrus G14, VivoBook S15, and Asus ZenBook 13; Dell’s XPS 13 and XPS 15 9500; Google’s Pixelbook Go; HP’s Elite Dragonfly, Envy x360 13-inch, and Spectre x360 13-inch; Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet and ThinkPad X1 Carbon; and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7. My contributions here also included a piece on what to consider when shopping for a laptop and a Chromebook-basics explainer.

3/27/2021: The Paper-To-Pixels Workaround Activists Want To Use To Keep Libraries Online, Forbes

“CDL” isn’t just shorthand for a commercial driver’s license; it’s also an abbreviation for Controlled Digital Lending, a framework for libraries to digitize printed books they own and then loan out those ebook copies on a one-for-one basis.  

Weekly output: homework-gap help, Facebook and the media, Apple’s app-tracking prompt

I’m writing this under a moderate amount of duress, in that WordPress has demoted the “Classic Editor” to a block you can invoke in the middle of a post written with the Block Editor about which I continue to grumble. One reason why: The Block Editor, notwithstanding improvements in its image-handling functions, still doesn’t appear to offer an indent feature, forcing me to switch gears one paragraph at a time to use the Classic block in this post.

3/16/2021: Two new bills could put a dent in technology’s ‘homework gap’, Fast Company

One of the better reasons to use (and pay for) a note-taking app is the ability to dredge up a quote from two years ago that shows one of the people you’re writing about was tuned into a problem before a pandemic put it in a harsh spotlight.

3/19/2021: Facebook Wants To Put News Back On Its Friends List, Forbes

You can see from the page-view totals shown atop this post that not many people read it. On the other hand, reporting this out gave me a chance to check in with a couple of my favorite journalism-conference people. And my including a link to my Patreon page was followed by a new reader signing up there. 

3/20/2021: What an upcoming Apple privacy prompt will mean for you – and the apps you use, USA Today

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency prompt–your invitation to ask apps not to track your usage across other apps–drew full-page-newspaper-ad opposition from Facebook a few months ago, but since then other large tech giants have responded to it with a remarkable level of equanimity. This post also quotes a mobile-marketing consultant who warns that smaller developers have much more to lose.

Weekly output: video gaming booms, Locast expands, Sheryl Sandberg defends Facebook

A time shift caused by the start or end of Daylight Saving Time means one thing around here: a boomlet of page views for the rant I wrote about the unintuitive interface on a sports watch my wife used to wear. Not too many of you still have this Timex model, to judge from the declining stats for that post compared to five years ago, but it remains the most-read post on this blog with 123,612 views–almost twice as many as the second-place post, a how-to about setting up Lotus Notes to forward all your work e-mail to Gmail.

3/10/2021: Limelight survey: The pandemic is driving a boom in gaming, FierceVideo

I spent Wednesday morning filling in at my trade-pub client to cover breaking news, and as part of that wrote up this eight-country survey conducted for the content-delivery firm Limelight Networks.

Screenshot of my Locast story as seen in my Android phone's Chrome browser.3/10/2021: Locast expands service to Cleveland area, now reaches more than 50% of U.S. viewers, FierceVideo

The first piece I filed Wednesday got published second, because reasons. Covering the expansion of Locast to northeast Ohio gave me a chance to introduce myself properly to the PR people at this non-profit that streams local TV stations–this won’t be the last time I cover this interesting option for cord cutters and the legal challenges it faces from broadcasters who don’t appreciate its reading of copyright law.

3/11/2021: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: Trust Us, You Still Want Personalized Ads, Forbes

An appearance by Facebook’s chief operating officer at the ad-industry group IAB’s virtual event left me scratching my head about the vast gap between the picture Sandberg painted of Facebook and what I’ve seen and read over the past year.

Weekly output: pay-TV predictions, T-Mobile’s work-from-home bundle

I try to space out the posts here so the blog doesn’t go too many days without an update. Since I write these weekly-output posts on Sundays, in an ideal blogging universe I’d publish each week’s other, less self-promotional post around mid-week. In this imperfect and stressed world, however, I often wind up not getting that second post up until Saturday. And this week, the non-weekly-output post went up Sunday afternoon–because as I rushed to finish writing that ode to two good newsletters Saturday evening, I forgot that the Block Editor here has a confirmation dialog you need to click through before a post gets published.

3/2/2021: Analyst Report: The Pay-TV Bundle Looks Even More Doomed—And Streaming Won’t Save It, Forbes

I wrote up a MoffettNathanson report with grim predictions for pay-TV bundles.

Screenshot of story as seen in an Android phone's Chrome browser.3/5/2021: T-Mobile wants your employer to give you home-office wireless broadband, Fast Company

T-Mobile’s announcement of a new bundle of services for larger government and business customers to buy for their working-from-afar employees glossed over a lot of details. I failed to fill in the blanks about the speeds of the upcoming Home Office Internet 4G/5G service that leads off T-Mobile’s “WFX” offering, but I did manage to document how extensively this fixed-wireless connectivity can block services not obviously related to people’s work. As in, the list of sites cut off by default includes Netflix and Amazon and even T-Mobile’s own T-Vision streaming-TV app.

Weekly output: Ranking Digital Rights, COVID-19 exposure-notification apps, mass-media misinformation

This week saw me wrap up writing for one large project that’s at least a few weeks away from publication. Still a good feeling to cross that off the to-do list.

Screenshot of the story, as shown in an iPad's copy of Safari2/24/2021:This new digital rights report flunks the tech giants, Fast Company

Participating in a panel discussion in January that featured Ranking Digital Rights director Jessica Dheere reminded me that this group was working on its latest assessment of how tech and telecom firms around the world support human rights. And then I almost forgot to follow up with RDR a month later to get an advance copy of the report.

2/24/2021: COVID-19 exposure warnings for iPhone, Android phones: Apps still await widespread adoption, USA Today

This column was originally going to run a week earlier, but we set it aside to cover changes to password managers. The numbers I got from the Virginia Department of Health about adoption of a simplified iOS exposure-notification option jumped dramatically over that time; I can’t complain about a delay in publication that gives me a chance to tell more of a story.

2/24/2021: The Point A House Hearing Almost Missed About How TV News Keeps Making Us Angry And Dumb, Forbes

I spent three and a half hours of my Wednesday watching this hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Committee–ostensibly about how pay-TV providers prop up the right-wing propagandists at Newsmax, One America News and the Fox News commentariat, although the members rarely stuck to that script–so you didn’t have to.

Weekly output: streaming-video viewers, Facebook vs. Australia, ShowStoppers TV, password managers, Vint Cerf on 6G

In addition to the stories below, my tweet about the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board-meeting news of an American Express Centurion Lounge coming to National Airport in 2022 got picked up at Gary Leff’s View From The Wing travel blog. As a longtime reader of Gary’s, I had to smile about that.

2/16/2021: OTT providers acknowledge the challenge of holding onto viewers, FierceVideo

I wrote up this online panel about the issues involved in retaining viewers as we emerge from this pandemic. The panel itself suffered its own retention problems, in the form of the moderator dropping offline multiple times.

2/17/2021: Facebook Will Give You Less Koala Content, Among Other Problems With Its Australian News Ban, Forbes

The koala-content angle came to me early on as I wrote this post, so I had to find some file art of a koala to go with the piece.

2/18/2021: ShowStoppers TV, ShowStoppers

I emceed this round of gadget demos, introducing and quizzing the presenters:  Godonut’s smartphone/tablet mount, HoverCam’s eGlass remote-teaching system, and Wacom’s Chromebook-connected drawing tablet.

Screenshot of USA Today column as seen in the paper's iPad app2/18/2021: LastPass to limit its free password manager. Here are other options, including Apple, Google, USA Today

All the research I did about password-manager services at the end of last year for the U.S. News guide that ran in January made this an easier column to write. That work also helped me write a longer post about the relative merits of LastPass, 1Password, Bitwarden and Dashlane for Patreon readers.

2/19/2021: 6G internet? Internet pioneer Vint Cerf isn’t buying the hype, Fast Company

I wrote up an online event hosted by Mitre Corp. on Feb. 11 that featured this interview of Internet pioneer Vint Cerf (whom I previously wrote about for Fast Company when he spoke at a conference in Alexandria in late 2019). Much as Cerf had voiced some sensible skepticism about 5G broadband one winter ago, he declined to get too excited over 6G and instead pointed to the connectivity potential of low-Earth-orbit satellites and ever-cheaper undersea fiber-optic cables.

Weekly output: the App Store’s fake-reviews problem

Valentine’s Day is one event that hasn’t changed because of the pandemic. I love to cook, but I’m not so fond of seeing a restaurant at its worst because of Feb. 14 crowds. So this has always been my day to put together a fancy dinner at home.

Screenshot of this post as seen on an iPad mini. 2/12/2021: Lesson Of A Ripoff Roku Remote App: Beware App Store Ratings, Forbes

I started following Kosta Eleftheriou on Twitter a couple of weeks ago after seeing one of his threads unpacking an outrageous level of obvious fraud at Apple’s App Store. His Friday-morning thread about a third-party remote-control app for Roku media players conning people into signing up for $4.99/week subscriptions struck me as a convenient intersection of my longtime interest in app-store governance and my Forbes gig covering the intersection of tech and media.

Weekly output: Starlink beta testers, Wikipedia code of conduct, Verizon’s 5G play at the Super Bowl

A year ago today, I was in New York to moderate a panel at what turned out to be my last out-of-town conference. I miss leading discussions with people in the same room instead of on the same screen. And I miss NYC–especially now that I could get off the train and exit into Moynihan Train Hall instead of Penn Station’s subterranean squalor.

Screenshot of the story as seen in Safari on an iPad2/1/2021: What Starlink beta testers really think about Elon Musk’s satellite internet, Fast Company

Reddit once again proved to be a good place to find early adopters of a new broadband technology, although I also found one Starlink beta tester on NASASpaceFlight.com’s forums.

2/3/2021: Wikipedia’s New Code Of Conduct Gets One Thing Right; Another Will Be A Struggle, Forbes

This post gave me an excuse to reconnect with two experts on social-media behavior I hadn’t talked to in way too long, Alex Howard and Caroline Sinders.

2/6/2021: Verizon Is Talking A Big Game About 5G At The Super Bowl, Forbes

Out of all of the overhyped use cases for 5G, crowded sports stadiums would actually let the extra capacity of millimeter-wave 5G shine. But with in-person attendance at Raymond James Stadium capped at a third of the venue’s capacity, Verizon is left with an empty demo.