Weekly output: AR in academia, Yosemite in VR, messaging apps, mobile-app nags, municipal broadband

I haven’t traveled anywhere for work since the end of June, but tomorrow I depart for Berlin to cover the IFA trade show for my fifth year in a row. My passport has collected a lot more stamps since August 2012 and I know I won’t feel too lost when I emerge from a U-Bahn station, but the prospect of temporarily putting 4,000-plus miles between me and my family still leaves me with mixed emotions.

EdTech AR in academia post8/23/2016: Higher Ed’s Augmented-Reality Ambitions Highlight Infrastructure Requirements, EdTech

This short, technically-inclined piece allowed me to quiz an old Post colleague–Dan Pacheco, now a professor at Syracuse University’s journalism school–and follow up with a University of Maryland professor I met last winter.

8/25/2016: You can visit Yosemite National Park with Obama … in VR, Yahoo Finance

I got an advance look at this virtual-reality tour of Yosemite narrated by President Obama. Having myself immersed in a place I haven’t seen since 2001 filled me with an almost painful level of nostalgia, so I had no choice but to reference a certain Mad Men episode.

8/26/2016: Here’s why email is still the best messaging app, Yahoo Finance

Months after the idea landed in my head, I finally wrote this get-off-my-lawn post about the cognitive load of having too many messaging apps on my phone.

8/27/2016: Avoid downloading mobile apps with these iPhone tricks, USA Today

I spaced about marketing this Q&A item about getting mobile browsers to impersonate desktop browsers because the column went up on USAT’s site on Saturday, not the usual Sunday. Note to my editors: I’ll get into PR mode about it tomorrow morning, I promise.

8/27/2016: Municipal broadband, KGO

I talked to the San Francisco station’s Jason Middleton about the sorry state of broadband competition and the prospects of municipal broadband increasing our choices. Note to myself: The next time a radio host gets my last name wrong, correct that immediately instead of waiting for the right moment.

Weekly output: MLB regional blackouts, Sprint and T-Mobile “unlimited” plans (x2), Tech Night Owl

This week brought the unusual experience of a story getting taken down a few hours after its appearance. The post in question covered the regional blackouts that prevent MLB.tv subscribers from watching their home team online and my use of an alternative domain-name service called Unlocator.com to work around them. I’ve expressed my annoyance at the fan-hostile nature of regional blackouts before, but this story was my first to document how to defeat them… and Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief thought it went too far in telling people just how to break the rules, so he decided to take it down.

Facebook share of Yahoo Finance postBefore you ask, I don’t know what Major League Baseball thinks of the story, as I haven’t heard anything from anybody there since the background conversation I had with a publicist Monday afternoon in which I recounted my Unlocator use. I do know that I’m nowhere near the first person to write a how-to about beating blackouts–see, for example, this April piece from the Los Angeles Times’ Chris Erskine. I’m going to chalk this up to my not reading my client correctly.

8/19/2016: T-Mobile and Sprint’s new unlimited plans aren’t exactly unlimited, Yahoo Finance

As part of August’s stubborn refusal to act like the slow news month it’s supposed to be, Sprint and T-Mobile each introduced new, cheaper “unlimited” data plans that each contain significant limits (like an absence of usable tethering at T-Mo). Most subscribers should avoid these offers, but many may find them tempting because their own phones make it difficult to track how much data they use.

8/20/2016: August 20, 2016 — Rob Pegoraro and Jeff Gamet, Tech Night Owl

I talked with host Gene Steinberg about those new price plans, the state of municipal broadband, and Windows 10’s first anniversary. I would have sounded less positive about Win 10 had I known before the recording of this podcast that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update broke many third-party webcams.

8/21/2016: Unlimited plans at Sprint, T-Mobile have limited appeal, USA Today

My editors at USAT wanted me to compare these two new offerings to the unlimited-data deals they replaced and to the other plans available at each carrier. Sprint’s all-you-can-browse deal came out of this exercise looking a good deal better than T-Mobile’s.

Weekly output: Blendle, municipal broadband, OS X Calendar crashes

I spent last week on vacation, more or less, with my wife’s family in the Bay Area. I didn’t succeed in avoiding work completely, but I did manage to compress my laptop time to maybe a day and two-thirds of effort. To carve out a little more downtime, I also refrained from answering non-urgent e-mails; if yours was one of those, I should be able to answer it in the next few days.

Yahoo Finance Blendle review8/10/2016: This ambitious new service wants to be the ‘Spotify of news’ — but falls short, Yahoo Finance

After a few months of trying out Blendle, a news app that lets you make micropayment for news stories, an otherwise slow news week meant it was time to review the service. After the story ran, Blendle spokesman Michaël Jarjour wrote in to say that about two dozen news sites in Germany and the Netherlands had added a special Blendle button that allows readers to pay for a story without leaving that site–a good way to make this app less invisible–and that the company was working to bring the same feature to U.S. publishers.

8/11/2016, We need more high-speed internet, but politicians are blocking the way, Yahoo Finance

I worried that the comments here would skew towards denouncing the socialist evil of collective ownership of the means of watching cat videos, but instead people lined up to complain about their Internet provider.

8/14/2016: Cure a calendar crash on Mac, USA Today

This column was curiously popular with people on my Facebook page–although my share of it only reached 348 people as of now, nine of them gave it a thumbs-up “Like” or the rarer, more coveted “Love” reaction. Was it something I said?

Weekly output: social-media mimicry, T-Mobile’s network, Windows 10 and Android notifications, Windows 10’s reception

Last week, I had Bernie Sanders dead-enders and WikiLeaks zealots angry at me. This week, it’s Windows 7 users. I have to imagine that some of these embittered Microsoft customers also voted for Sanders and have WikiLeaks bookmarked, which I guess means they’re now shopping for voodoo dolls to name after me.

8/3/2016: 3 features that social networks should never, ever borrow from one another, Yahoo Finance

I had been sketching out an essay along these lines for a while when Instagram copied a Snapchat feature almost wholesale, giving me a news peg on which to hang this post.

Yahoo Finance T-Mobile network post8/4/2016: T-Mobile now has America’s second-best availability, new ranking says, Yahoo Finance

We changed the headline on this after AT&T PR complained about the use of the word “coverage” in it when OpenSignal takes care to say they only track LTE availability over time, not over geography. That struck me as a fair objection, so we revised the hed.

8/7/2016: Get Windows 10 in touch with your Android phone, USA Today

I was working on a different topic, which you may read next weekend or the week after, when I decided I could get this week’s column done quicker by devoting it to a walk-through of a nifty cross-platform notification system available in Windows 10’s new Anniversary Update, an upgrade I’d just installed with zero issues on two tablets I’m testing for an upcoming story.

8/7/2016: Windows 10 isn’t perfect — but it’s time to let go of Windows 7, Yahoo Finance

Reader reaction has been pretty negative to this piece. Some of it is fair–like objecting to Microsoft’s problem-monitoring telemetry or the company’s pushy presentation of this update–but to call the 2009-era Win 7 a better fit for the hardware and Internet of today strikes me as a serious reach. If you had an update to Windows 10 hobble your computer, I’m sorry for your loss. But I’ve heard that complaint about every single Windows release ever, and my own experience and the prior reader input I’ve seen suggests Win 10 is a less risky upgrade than its predecessors

Weekly output: WikiLeaks, standard-definition pay-TV channels

This past week was supposed to be downtime visiting family in Boston, but when we booked this I didn’t think to see if it would overlap any major-party conventions. I also didn’t wrap up a longer, not-yet-published feature beforehand as I should–and then people had to go and make news outside the Democratic convention anyway. It was a minor miracle that I only lost two full days to my laptop. And yes, you have read this kind of story before here.

Yahoo Finance WikiLeaks post7/27/2016: If you value privacy, WikiLeaks stopped being your friend years ago, Yahoo Finance

I wrote about WikiLeaks in depth for the first time since maybe late 2010, and even back then I was growing doubtful of that site’s preening self-righteousness. My reward was seeing my Twitter notifications become even more of a nexus of derp than usual, but I did appreciate seeing the kind of company I had in my skeptical assessment of WikiLeaks.

7/31/2016: How to watch TV channels in high definition, USA Today

Once again, a family member’s tech troubles–Fios boxes showing the standard-definition versions of major networks when HD feeds of them were available–turned into column materials. Fortunately, this time around I was able to find a solution for the issue, research how other TV providers handle this, and get the column written and filed considerably earlier than usual.

Weekly output: iOS app updates, Twitter abuse, Facebook Messenger encryption, old Fios routers, GOP tech policy

I did not spend last week in Cleveland and I’m not spending this coming week in Philadelphia, but I’m still devoting a great deal of time to following the Republican and Democratic conventions in case speakers at each say anything relevant about tech policy. In other words, I watched Newt Gingrich so you didn’t have to.

iOS-update column screengrab7/18/2016: When an iOS app update starts with an uninstall, USA Today

Seeing USAT’s old iPad app tell me to upgrade it by deleting it and then installing a newer app of the same name led to this column. So it’s only appropriate that I illustrate this with a screengrab of my story as seen in USAT’s current iPad app.

7/20/2016: Twitter won’t solve its harassment problem by banning one jerk, Yahoo Finance

Looking at my earliest coverage of Twitter, it’s funny/alarming how I paid no attention to whether this platform’s mechanics might enable antisocial behavior. Like, say, the torrent of anti-semitic garbage my old Post co-worker Jonathan Weisman endured from neo-Nazi Trump supporters, an episode I wish I’d mentioned in this post.

7/21/2016: Here’s how to make sure no one else can read your Facebook Messages, Yahoo Finance

FYI: Leaving a comment on a story about some new Facebook feature with a version of “I’m not on Facebook” only advertises your colossal lack of creativity.

7/24/2016: Keeping old router on Verizon Fios will cost you, USA Today

That question that yielded this column came from a reader I’ve been corresponding with since 2002, maybe earlier. We’ve both been through a few e-mail addresses in that time.

7/24/2016: Here’s what Republicans (and maybe Trump) think about tech policy, Yahoo Finance

Watching Donald Trump’s dystopian harangue yielded few insights about tech policy–or any other current issues–but the Republican platform had much more to say about technology, including some unexpected overlap with Hillary Clinton’s views.