Weekly output: customer satisfaction, net neutrality, Facebook interest-based ads

Having a holiday shorten this work week was much appreciated. So was the chance to catch up with some of my college-newspaper friends Saturday; my unpaid, no-course-credits-granted time at the Georgetown Voice remains the most career-relevant thing I did in college.

Yahoo Finance ACSI post6/1/2016: New customer service survey says Comcast is no longer the worst, Yahoo Finance

This was the first story I’ve written in an actual newsroom in quite some time, thanks to me visiting Yahoo Finance’s NYC offices for the day.

6/5/2016: The FCC’s ‘power grab’ on net neutrality still hasn’t burned your broadband provider, Yahoo Finance

I was working on another story when I saw that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had yet again failed to cough up a ruling on the suit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality regulations. I decided that I was tired of waiting on that court to write my next post about the net-neutrality argument and cranked out this over a couple of hours.

6/5/2016: Status with Facebook ‘interest-based’ ads is complicated, USA Today

This was yet another piece that I didn’t have on my list of story ideas at the start of the week. My summary to my editor after spending two hours bouncing e-mails back and forth with Facebook PR to discern the privacy models behind two of the social network’s ad systems: “This was one of the bigger reporting hairballs I’ve had to eat.”

 

Weekly output: digitizing infrastructure, Oracle v. Google, Bluetooth beacons, ads and privacy

After two straight weeks of travel (separated by almost 24 hours at home), I have the novel experience of looking at my calendar and not seeing any upcoming flights. That can only be explained by a bug in that app, right?

Connected Conference panel5/27/2016: Digitizing Infrastructure, Connected Conference

The scheduling for my part of this Internet-of-Things conference in Paris moved around a lot. My original connected-cars panel got swapped out for this one, and then the speakers for a discussion of smart buildings and smart cities got reshuffled more than once. As you can see, the conference site’s page about the panel still only lists some of the people who showed up Friday morning (besides me, Olivier Selles of Bouygues Immobilier, Herbert Beck of Nexity, Riad Ziour of Openergy, Jackson Bond of Relayr and IBM’s Christian Comtat). Most surprising anecdote: How an IoT climate-control system brought a little labor peace to an office where union officials didn’t trust management’s estimates of indoor air quality.

5/27/2016: Why you should care that Google dodged Oracle’s $9 billion bullet, Yahoo Finance

This jury verdict in Google’s favor and against Oracle dropped Thursday night in Paris, so I had to write this explainer during what little downtime I had Friday morning and afternoon in the city. (Did comparing APIs to the bumps on a Lego block work for you?) I promise I will look over all 120-and-counting comments sometime soon, but hopefully not tomorrow.

5/29/2016: Don’t be alarmed if Android wants to get physical, USA Today

After a visit to one Connected Conference exhibit yielded an Android notification of a Web address being broadcast by a nearby Bluetooth beacon, I realized I had a decent column topic sitting in front of me. Writing it also gave me a chance to revisit some of the early hype around Apple’s iOS-only iBeacon.

5/29/2016: A ‘right not to be surprised’ in ads would be great — good luck defining that, Yahoo Finance

I’d had this idea kicking around since hearing AdRoll CEO Adam Berke’s talk at the Collision conference, but I somehow waited to finish writing it until I was in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Weekly output: “Beyond television,” cable boxes and apps, Google I/O (x3), Chrome OS, security, Android N

I had a two-city, four-airport week: I spent Sunday afternoon through Tuesday evening in Boston for the cable industry’s INTX show, flew to SFO that night and spent Wednesday through Friday at Google I/O before flying home Saturday morning. I am seriously exhausted… so it’s not optimal timing that I’m writing this from Dulles. Why? I was invited to moderate a panel at the Connected Conference in Paris later this week (and on the side, meet a bunch of French startups the government wants to show off). I haven’t been to my family’s one-time expat home in 25 years, so this would have been difficult to turn down. But I did think about that.

5/16/2016: Beyond Television: Extending the Media Brand Across the Digital Forever, INTX

I moderated this discussion with BET’s Kay Madati, Fusion’s Jigar Mehta and Scripps Networks Interactive’s Vikki Neil about how cable networks are trying to connect with current and potential fans outside the big screen. I may be a cord cutter, but I do have one of Alton Brown’s cookbooks and I often turn to Fusion’s tech coverage, so I guess I’m an example of successful beyond-television marketing.

Consumer Reports I O preview5/17/2016: What to Expect from Google I/O 2016, Consumer Reports

My debut piece for CR (no subscription required to read it) was a preview of Google I/O’s expected news that I think mostly holds up.

5/18/2016: Live at Google I/O, Jefferson Graham

Right after I picked up my press badge, I ran into Jefferson and a few other USAT pals, and he elected to do a Facebook Live stream on the spot.

5/18/2016: Cable operators are trying to fix the single biggest problem with their apps, Yahoo Finance

I wrote a reality-check piece about the cable industry’s “but we have apps!” response to the Federal Communications Commission’s “unlock the box” proceeding. The cable operator that now seems most far along in providing TV apps that can take a cable box’s place without compromising on major features? Comcast.

5/18/2016: Google just made it clear that it’s trying to catch up in 3 big areas, Yahoo Finance

This recap of the keynote that opened up I/O disappeared sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon due to a publishing glitch nobody noticed at the time. Sorry for the mess!

5/19/2016: Google just revealed it’s ‘bringing the Play Store to Chromebooks’, Yahoo Finance

The news that Chrome OS laptops and desktops shipped in the last two years will get a free update opening them up to the Play Store’s catalogue of 1.5 million Android apps may have been the biggest consumer news out of I/O.

5/20/2016: Google: 3 steps you should take now to secure yourself online, Yahoo Finance

Like at last year’s I/O, Google’s security chief Stephan Somogyi gave a great presentation about the state of security that I judged worth a writeup.

5/22/2016: 6 big changes coming to Android phones, USA Today

My last I/O post broke down the changes coming to the next major Android release. I wound up finishing it on my Android phone–an excruciating experience–after my laptop ran out of battery on Caltrain on the way into San Francisco.

Weekly output: Facebook Live and Flash, Facebook Trending (x2), sharing-economy privacy, Tech Night Owl, iPad keyboards

I’m at the start of two weeks of a ridiculous travel schedule. I flew to Boston this afternoon to cover the cable industry’s INTX convention, Tuesday night I’m off to SFO to spend the rest of the week at Google’s I/O conference in Mountain View, Saturday I come home… and I won’t spend much time there before getting back on a plane. More about that in next Sunday’s recap.

USAT Facebook Live post5/9/2016: Flash makes one of its last stands on Facebook Live, USA Today

As I wrote in my post Facebook post advertising this story, I’ve yet to do anything with Facebook Live video. Should I?

5/10/2016: Facebook Trending news, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on to discuss the Gizmodo report that Facebook’s Trending list of headlines suppressed some conservative sites. My first take was that the sorry record of accuracy at the likes of Breitbart.com and the Drudge Report invited skeptical treatment, but talking about this on camera got some wheels turning in my head.

5/10/2016: Some sharing economy companies share too much of your information, Yahoo Finance

I always enjoy reading the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who Has Your Back?” accounting of how tech firms say they’ll answer government requests for your data (see my writeup of last year’s report), and this year’s mostly-uncomplimentary look at “sharing economy” firms was more interesting than usual.

5/11/2016: There are worse things than manipulated ‘Trending’ stories lists, Yahoo Finance

This is the post that resulted from those wheels turning in my head. The comments, as you can see, were neither friendly nor persuasive. There’s a broader conversation to be had about the detachment many Republicans seem to be having from observed reality on subjects like climate change and evolution, but I guess a story’s comments thread is not the place for it.

5/14/2016: May 14, 2016 — Adam Engst and Rob Pegoraro, Tech Night Owl

I talked with host Gene Steinberg about Facebook’s Trending list and Apple’s lagging computer-hardware updates, among other issues.

5/15/2016: How to use or avoid hidden iPad keyboard options, USA Today

Once again, my own computing malfunctions served as column fodder. Writing this allowed me to offer a first-look review of Google’s Gboard iPad-keyboard app; as I type this, it’s the default keyboard on my iPad.

Weekly output: EMV credit cards

Last week’s flurry of work–enough for me to lose track of it when trying to inventory it here–was evened out by this week. I also didn’t have to travel any further for work than Capitol Hill and downtown D.C., although one of this week’s events did require me to dust off the tuxedo I hadn’t worn since maybe 2009. (Can we not talk about how the pants fit before the intervention of a tailor?)

Yahoo Finance EMV-update post5/6/2016: Those chip cards have a long way to go, Yahoo Finance

Watching a panel at the Rayburn Building Tuesday reminded me of two things: It’s been over six months since the “liability shift” that was supposedly going to end the tenure of old-school magnetic-stripe credit cards, and it’s been almost as long since I covered this topic. Revisiting the issue convinced me that making people enter a PIN at each purchase won’t solve the bigger security issues of paying with plastic–and that my earlier writing about “EMV” cards should have acknowledged the extra time spent with your card in a point-of-sale terminal.

(Notice the new Web address? Stay tuned for more about that.)

Weekly output: old phone plans, sports and VR, Vint Cerf, prepaid and MVNO wireless, Collision pitches, crowd wisdom, Apple earnings, “A Beautiful Planet,” VR visions, Charter and data caps

This week took me to New Orleans for the first time since 2012, courtesy of the Collision conference that ran from Monday through Thursday there. As I was signing up for a press pass to cover this production of the team behind the Web Summit conference I covered in Dublin last year, some of the organizers suggested I could moderate a panel or conduct an onstage interview; I followed up on that, they offered me a panel, and then a week before the show they asked if I could handle another.

The results: a great trip, a great conference, and a reason to go to New Orleans around this time in 2017.

 

4/25/2016: Oldies aren’t goodies when it comes to phone plans, USA Today

I used this column to answer a round of reader questions about an earlier column, and in the process subjected myself to dangerous levels of math.

Collision wristbands4/26/2016: Putting VR first, Collision

This conversation about using virtual reality to depict sports–featuring Derek Belch, founder of the VR-training firm STRIVR and PGA Tour senior content director Sloane Kelley–was the late addition to my schedule. I had about a second of complete panic as I began speaking and heard people saying “we can’t hear you,” but then I realized I probably hadn’t broken the head-mounted microphone and should instead try positioning it closer to my mouth. After that anxiety-inducing start, seeing this appreciate tweet from one of the organizers kind of made my morning.

4/26/2016: Internet pioneer Vint Cerf: We need to make room on the Net for all the machines, Yahoo Tech

The idea for that photo popped into my head about halfway through Cerf’s talk Saturday at Smithsonian magazine’s “The Future Is Here” festival, and then I had to write a post to go with it. I’m pretty sure this represented my first coverage of IPv6 since 2011.

4/26/2016: Best Prepaid and Alternative Phone Plans, The Wirecutter

The first update to this guide since November heralds an end to Republic Wireless’s ban on tethering and T-Mobile’s speed limits. It should have also noted Boost’s addition of family plans, but I left a stray phrase in that we had to fix two days later.

4/26/2016: Pitch judging, Collision

I helped judge one round of Collision’s startup competition. We heard from execs at a semiconductor supplier, a place-finding app, a video-production-management service, a chat app, an air-quality-monitoring service, and a restaurant-management app.

Collision schedule listing4/27/2016: Crowd wisdom and peer-based markets, Collision

This panel not only featured Declara CEO Ramona Pierson, Moovit CMO Alex Mackenzie Torres, and Getaround founder Jessica Scorpio, it also included a cute little dog, thanks to Scorpio bringing hers onstage. About a third of the way through, I realized I was in whatever zone panel moderators can get into–I was thinking a few questions ahead, I had no worries about having too little or too much time left, I was avoiding “uhs” and “ums,” and I had no anxiety at all. That’s a great feeling to have.

4/27/2016: iPhone Sales Fall, Ending Apple’s Record Growth, Voice of America

I did a quick interview from the Collision media lounge about Apple’s first “bad” quarterly earnings in 13 years. Speaking of that location: Collision’s press-room chow wasn’t quite as awesome as at Web Summit, but it was still vastly better than at almost every other conference I’ve attended.

4/28/2016: ‘A Beautiful Planet’: friendly space station, muddled message, Yahoo Tech

I attended a screening of this IMAX documentary at the National Air & Space Museum the Friday before, then wrote the review on the flight to New Orleans. Watching the movie’s depiction of life on the International Space Station represented a flashback to attending NASA Tweetups five years ago in more ways than one: I ran into NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz, the space agency’s social-media manager back then, at the screening.

4/29/2016: Virtual reality: Feeling our way into an uncertain future, Yahoo Tech

I enjoyed coming up with the lede for this, and playing around with Leap Motion’s hands-included VR was a treat too.

5/1/2016: Charter to drop data caps, but other companies, but other companies still use them, USA Today

We updated this post a few hours after it went up with a couple of lines about overage fees at AT&T and Comcast that should have been in my copy from the start, plus a tweaked headline.

Updated 5/2 to add last weekend’s USAT column, which I didn’t even realize I’d overlooked until I was invoicing for April’s work. And updated again that afternoon to add a link to the updated Wirecutter guide. It appears that I could use more sleep. 

Weekly output: custom-fitted headphones, virtual reality, Facebook auto alt text, connecting with journalists, FBI vs. Apple

This week featured my first trans-Pacific business trip–I spoke on a panel at the IFA Global Press Conference in Shenzhen, China–and my first travel to Asia since 2007. It seems that I don’t cope with that level of jet lag as well as I did in my 30s.

4/18/2016: For your ears only: Uvero offers earbuds with truly personalized fit, Yahoo Tech

I had a lot of time to try out these custom-fitted earphones on a 16-hour leg from Chicago to Hong Kong. They did not make the flight seem any shorter, but my personal soundtrack did sound better.

4/19/2016: What’s next in Virtual Reality?, IFA Global Press Conference

I talked about trends in this technology with my former Yahoo editor Dan Tynan, HTC’s Raymond Pao and AMD’s Chu Hanjin. The photo below may suggest that i was about to do a mic drop; in reality, I was talking with my hands as usual.

4/20/2016: Facebook launches technology experience to help the blind, Al Jazeera

I did the interview for this piece about Facebook’s efforts in automatically generating descriptions of images two and a half weeks ago. I didn’t know I’d be sitting in front of a TV camera when I got dressed that morning, which is why I’m wearing a green checked shirt instead of TV-friendly solid-color attire. Fortunately, the producers were willing to work with that, and the results looked alright.

4/22/2016: On Deadline: How to Best Connect with Reporters?, Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

The morning after I got back from Hong Kong (professionalism!), I talked about how PR types can be less obnoxious when advising the press about upcoming news. My fellow panelists: the Washington Business Journal’s Jim Bach, ABC7’s George Jackson, and Bloomberg’s Jordan Robertson, plus W2 Communications’ Tom Resau  as our moderator.

Al Jazeera FBI Apple interview screen grab4/22/2016: FBI hacking Apple’s iPhone encryption, Al Jazeera

I couldn’t get to AJ’s newsroom on New Hampshire Avenue for this, so they sent a camera crew to me instead. We did the interview in the lobby of the my conference venue, the Gannett/USA Today buildings in Tysons. Afterwards, somebody in Doha sent a screengrab to the producer who then texted that to me.