Weekly output: Starry Internet

Merry Christmas to all who observe! And to all who observe by bestowing gadget gifts: good luck with the setup and tech support.

Yahoo Finance Starry post12/18/2017: This startup could replace your cable internet, but faces hurdles, Yahoo Finance

Some of you may remember my coverage a few years ago of the TV-via-Internet firm Aereo. After the Supreme Court shut down that startup on questionable copyright-infringement grounds, founder Chet Kanojia went into the fixed-wireless Internet market. Starry offers 200 megabits-per-second, no-data-caps access to some buildings around Boston, and when I was there in early December I quizzed Kanojia for an hour and change about his new venture’s progress.

Note that this story has been updated since posting: One caption got egregiously mislabeled, and one analyst I talked to didn’t spell out (which also means that I should have asked) that he wrote his case study without quizzing Starry directly.

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Weekly output: Apple Park, forced-redirect ads, net neutrality, tech trends, Tech Night Owl, media-player tips

I would add up how many weeks this year have involved me writing about net-neutrality issues, but that would be too depressing.

12/11/2017: Why doesn’t Apple make its devices as carefully as it’s making Apple Park?, The Washington Post

After seeing Jony Ive’s talk at the Hirshhorn Museum last month, I tweeted out a line from him about how people should shut up about Apple Park’s perfectionist design–which then irked a great many people. I decided there was a story in this and, after striking out at two other places, found a home for it at the Post. Once again, I enjoyed confusing people who hadn’t seen my byline there in years.

12/11/2017: How to stop rogue ads that can set you up for malware, Yahoo Finance

When my mom asked how to dispel an obnoxious “forced-redirect” ads–the kind that take you off whatever you’re reading and then break your browser’s back button–I figured the problem was widespread enough to be story fodder.

12/14/2017: Here’s what you can expect now that the FCC has killed net neutrality, Yahoo Finance

The anger I’m seeing about this–not to mention the 3,767 comments this has drawn so far–suggest that FCC chair Ajit Pai’s PR strategy of laughing off fears is not calming anybody down.

12/16/2016: What’s Up With Tech?, PATACS

In my first talk to this user group since 2010, I talked about why I’m not sold on a handful of much-hyped technologies–4K TV, smart speakers, drones, virtual reality and Bitcoin. I brought a bag full of random trade-show swag to give away, and now I have that much more room in my home office’s closet.

12/16/2017: December 16, 2017 — Rob Pegoraro and Jeff Gamet, Tech Night Owl Live

I talked to host Gene Steinberg about the demise of the service once known as AOL Instant Messenger, net-neutrality politics, and my decision to replace my MacBook Air with a Windows laptop.

12/17/2017: Cord-cutting tips for setting up your new Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, USA Today

The advice about using an Ethernet connection instead of WiFi should be obvious, but I’ll bet a lot of people don’t think about using Plex’s apps to play music and videos stored on their PCs or using a media player’s remote-control app to avoid having to type passwords by clicking at letters on the TV’s screen with the player’s regular remote.

 

 

Weekly output: telecom bargaining (x2), net neutrality, gadget gift guidance, 4K viewing options

The list below would suggest that I spent more time talking about my job this week than actually doing it, but I filed two other stories that you should see Monday.

12/4/2017: Bargaining for lower telecom bills, KTRH

This Houston radio station wanted to interview me about last Sunday’s USA Today advice to bargain for a better rate on your TV and Internet bill. Fortunately, I had spare time during a long connection through Newark and an unusually uncrowded United Club in which to take anchor Scott Crowder’s call. I should probably list this with an asterisk, as I don’t know when or even if KTRH ran the interview; if you happened to tune in Monday and hear my spot, please let me know.

12/5/2017: Total Eclipse of the Net: The End of Net Neutrality?, New America

“I am serving a life sentence of covering net neutrality” was how I began this 90-minute panel hosted by New America’s Open Technology Institute. My conversation partners were Incompas general counsel Angie Kronenberg, economist Hal SingerNational Hispanic Media Coalition policy adviser (and former FCC commissioner) Gloria Tristani, and Free Press policy director Matt Wood.

12/5/2017: This Morning with Gordon Deal December 05, 2017, This Morning with Gordon Deal

A few minutes after my interview with KTRH, I did a second interview about last Sunday’s USAT column. My spot comes up a little after 13 minutes into this episode.

12/6/2017: Holiday gift guide: Shopping for a person who’s hard to shop for? These D.C. locals have you covered., Express

Bryanna Cappadona, entertainment editor at the Washington Post’s free tabloid, quizzed me for this gift guide. I will admit that my suggested purchase is rather nerdy, but it could also spare the recipient major heartache with their Gmail or Facebook account.

12/10/2017: 4K TV: How much Internet bandwidth do you need?, USA Today

This column also notes your primary offline option for watching 4K content–the small minority of Blu-ray discs that offer Ultra High Definition resolution–and the continued absence of 4K in cable-TV lineups and over-the-air broadcasts.

Weekly output: net neutrality (x2), 2018 security risks, bargaining for a better TV or Internet bill

One of the ways that self-employment has taught me to see the calendar differently: Once you put November in the books, you’ve pretty much put your yearly income in the books too unless you can sell something early in December to a client that pays unusually fast. (See also, a client worth keeping around.)

USAT net-neutrality transparency post11/28/2017: After net neutrality: Up to you to police the ISPs, USA Today

My contribution to USAT’s coverage of Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai’s move to repeal all of 2015’s net-neutrality rules was to unpack the disclosure requirements he would impose on Internet providers. One big catch: An ISP wouldn’t have to post on its own site that it blocks or slows certain sites or charges others for priority delivery of their bits.

11/28/2017: Why the FCC chair says social networks are the real threat to the free internet, Yahoo Finance

Pai gave a speech Tuesday that included some reasonable arguments against the current, proscriptive net-neutrality rules–and then pivoted to the deeply dubious contention that we should really worry about Twitter and other social networks being mean to conservatives.

11/29/2017: How hackers might target you in 2018, Yahoo Finance

I wrote up McAfee Labs’ cybersecurity forecast for next year–which identified the companies selling connected gadgets for your home as a major part of your privacy and security risks.

12/3/2017: Check your cable or Internet bill: After the first year discounts, it’s time to bargain, USA Today

Three weeks ago in San Francisco, I sat down with my USAT editor for the first time after two-plus years of her handling my column to brainstorm tech-support columns that might resonate over the holidays, and this was among them. Conveniently enough, my Thanksgiving tech support a week ago allowed me to inspect my mom’s Fios bill to see how Verizon breaks down its promotional discounts and what you’ll owe after their expiration.

 

Weekly output: Life as a journalist, data-cap calculations, FCC vs. net neutrality, “EC 261” flight-delay compensation

I got through this Thanksgiving without having to write a single gift-guide story. I can’t remember when I could last make that claim.

11/20/2017: EP 57 – What It’s Like To Be a Journalist in This Day and Age, The Lorne Epstein Show

I sat down in the studios of Arlington’s low-power FM station WERA in late August with Epstein and my fellow guest (and Washingtonian Tech Titan honoree) Tajha Chappellet-Lanier to talk shop about my profession. A little while later–Epstein is apparently better at working ahead of time than me–the show aired.

11/21/2017: Internet data caps: Why you end up busting them, USA Today

A reader’s e-mail about being puzzled by Cox telling her she’d exceeded its 1 terabyte data cap led me to revisit data caps and their essential unfairness.

11/21/2017: How the FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality affects you, Yahoo Finance

You can advance a respectable argument against net-neutrality rules by saying that ISPs have given up on trying to block or slow individual sites. Calling a repeal of those regulations on the behavior of corporations alone “restoring Internet freedom” is not that argument.

11/23/2017: Delayed in Europe? How EC 261 Services Can Get Airlines to Pay, The Points Guy

I’ve had this story on my to-do list since seeing AirHelp present at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in 2014. A year later, I finally tasked another company expert in the European Union’s “EC 261” flight-interruption regulation to get Lufthansa to compensate me for the hours-long delay that held up my return from IFA in 2012. The airline sent me a check last March, and then it took me another year and a half to sell a piece about it. That itself only happened when a TPG editor asked if I had other posts in mind after passing on one I’d thought to pitch after seeing a friend’s byline there.

Weekly output: 5G possibilities, Comcast-NBC revisited, switching to Windows, big-media serfdom, Face ID hack, online abuse

Good luck with your Thanksgiving family tech support, everybody!

11/13/2017: 5G’s Economic Prospects: Flexibility and Fuzziness, FierceWireless

Researching this piece about possible business models for 5G wireless helped inform me about story angles I’ll want to look into over the next few years. As with my past work for Fierce’s e-book bundles, you’ll have to cough up an e-mail address to read this one.

11/13/2017: Comcast + NBCUniversal Produces Mixed Bag, FierceCable

Disclosure: Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal has benefited me directly, in the form of Comcast PR inviting me to NBCUniversal movie screenings in D.C.

11/13/2017: How Apple sold me on buying a Windows laptop, Yahoo Finance

An angle I didn’t have room to address in this post: Windows 10’s “tablet mode” represents a long-delayed fulfillment of the promise of Windows XP’s watching-not-creating Media Center interface.

11/14/2017, Barry Diller says big media will be ‘serfs on the land’ of tech giants, Yahoo Finance

The media mogul’s pessimistic assessment of traditional media’s future was an easy sell from the Internet Association’s Virtuous Circle conference in San Francisco.

11/17/2017: You should still use the iPhone X’s Face ID even though hackers say they beat it, Yahoo Finance

I’ve written a few posts over the past year or two on the theme of “security nihilism”–the unhelpful belief of many infosec types that if a defensive measure can’t protect you from the most experienced and motivated attackers, then it’s worthless. Maybe this was more persuasive than the others?

11/16/2017: Technical and Human Solutions to Problematic Behaviors, Family Online Safety Institute

I moderated this panel at FOSI’s conference about ways to deal with people being jerks online. My thanks to TeenSafe’s Tracy Bennett, Verizon’s Ginelle Brown, Twitter’s Patricia Cartes and the Born This Way Foundation’s Rachel Martin for making me sound smarter on the subject on a day when I had to function on about four hours of sleep after a fuel leak forced my flight back from SFO to divert to Denver, after which I didn’t land at Dulles until after 1 a.m.

Weekly output: video surveillance, privacy vs. security, Facebook listening, universal basic income, intelligent assistants, convenience economy, UberAir, privacy fears

Once again, I’m at an airport. I got back from Web Summit on Friday, and now I’m headed to San Francisco for the Internet Association’s Virtuous Circle conference. This trip, however, will be a lot shorter than the last one: I fly back Wednesday.

11/6/2017: ‘Smart’ surveillance cameras should set off privacy alarms, Yahoo Finance

The advances in machine vision I saw demonstrated at the Nvidia GPU Tech Conference in D.C. last week both impressed and alarmed me–especially when I heard some of the responses of executives at companies bringing these artificial-intelligence technologies to the market.

11/7/2017: Debate: We should be prepared to give up our privacy for security, Web Summit

My first Web Summit panel was a debate between Threatscape managing director Dermot Williams and Federal Trade Commission commissioner Terrell McSweeny. I expected a one-sided audience vote at the end in favor of privacy, but Williams changed a few minds. There should be video of this somewhere, but I’ve yet to find it on Web Summit’s Facebook page.

11/8/2017: Why so many people still think Facebook is listening to them, Yahoo Finance

I’d had this post in the works for a while, and then CNN’s Laurie Segall asked Facebook’s Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky in a Summit panel about the persistent rumor that Facebook’s apps listen surreptitiously to your conversations. Hello, news peg.

11/8/2017: Double focus: IPO’s & the future of games, Web Summit

My contribution to Web Summit’s Wednesday programming was this interview of Rovio CEO Kati Levoranta. As you can probably guess from watching the video below, I exhausted my questions early on and had to improv a bunch of it.

11/9/2017: Why would you oppose Universal Basic Income?, Web Summit

This panel, held at one of the small stages in Web Summit’s speakers lounge, featured Basic Income Earth Network co-president Guy Standing, Kela change management director Marjukka Turunen, GiveDirectly CEO Michael Faye, and Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva. Not having taken part in any extended debate on this topic before, I learned a few things from this conversation.

11/9/2017: The next evolution of intelligent assistants, Web Summit

I quizzed Sherpa founder Xabi Uribe-Etxebarria about what he thinks the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google miss in the AI-personal-assistant market and how he hopes to carve out a niche with his own app.

11/9/2017: Demand more: Driving the convenience economy, Web Summit

The last of Thursday’s three panels had me interviewing Trivago co-founder and CEO Rolf Schromgens and Casper co-founder Luke Sherwin about how each is trying to challenge long-established competitors. This panel featured an unexpected technical difficulty: The acoustics made it hard for Schromgens, seated farther away from me on the stage, to hear me.

11/9/2017: Uber’s grand plan for flying cars faces a major obstacle, Yahoo Finance

One of first thoughts about “UberAir” was something along the lines of “you’re really going to get the FAA to open up the national air system to flocks of new electric-powered air taxis?” A conversation over e-mail with aviation-safety expert Bob Mann led me to believe Uber is being predictably optimistic about the odds of it bending government regulators to its will.

11/12/2017: Web companies should make it easier to make your data portable: FTC’s McSweeny. USA Today

This column about the privacy discussions that carried on all week long in Lisbon benefited from a little luck: My debate partner from day one was on both of my flights back from Lisbon and even sat a row behind me on the EWR-DCA hop, so we had a quick chat after arriving at National Airport before she headed to the parking garage and I got on Metro.

Updated 11/27/2017 to add an embed of video of my first Web Summit panel.