I lost track of how many columns I wrote for the Post after my 500th ran in September of 2008, the Post’s woeful new content-management system made it impossible for me to total my blog output after the 1,300 or so composed in the old CMS, and I’d have to inventory the contents of too many folders to add up everything I’ve written since leaving the paper. But among those uncountable thousands of stories, these ones stick in my memory for good reasons–and so do a handful of pieces I’d like to take back.
11/14/2004: Firefox Leaves No Reason to Endure Internet Explorer, The Washington Post
For a long time, this was one of my favorite ledes–“Internet Explorer, you’re fired”–until I started reconsidering the virtues of giving free PR to a reality-TV star’s catchphrase. I am, however, still glad I wrote this endorsement of Firefox well before some of my competitors.
5/2/2008: To wit: Twittering, The Washington Post
An early look at Twitter and the broader digital culture of status updates, almost entirely written in paragraphs of 140 characters or fewer. My editor sent it to the copy desk with instructions along the lines of “this has been written in a very particular format; do not edit.”
4/16/2010: Apple rejects Pulitzer winner’s iPhone app because it ‘ridicules public figures’, The Washington Post
I enjoyed taking Apple’s App Store “curation” to task when the company took it to a ludicrous extreme, and somehow my editors okayed my taunting Steve Jobs at the end of the post.
11/16/2010: Beatles finally allowing digital downloads on Apple’s iTunes, The Washington Post
I started writing this two years before the actual announcement, because I was already sick of the topic.
11/18/2011: A Store That’s The Apple of Microsoft’s Eye, Discovery News
Microsoft’s chain of retail stores don’t just look a lot like Apple’s; they also represent a fairly harsh critique of the PC industry as we know it.
2/26/2012: Gigabit Internet for $70: the unlikely success of California’s Sonic.net, Ars Technica
Reporting this 2,000-word feature on a pioneering independent Internet provider felt more like traditional newspaper work–including knocking on strangers’ doors to interview them–than most of my last two years at the Post.
11/19/2012: Google’s cheaper Chromebook: enough of a computer, Boing Boing
I hopped into my tech time machine to write this review, which put Google’s Web-and-little-else laptop in the context of such older, less-successful ventures into simplified computing as 3Com’s Audrey and Sony’s eVilla.
2/4/2013: How sports networks inflate your TV bill, USA Today
A neighbor was annoyed to see a line item for regional sports network programming on her Fios TV bill; I saw that as more of a cry for help.
2/27/2013: My Fellow Americans, We Really Do Have A Strange Wireless Market, Disruptive Competition Project
Going to Mobile World Congress made me realize how dysfunctional the U.S. wireless business can be compared to much of the rest of the world.
8/4/2015: Unlocking Democracy: Inside the Most Insecure Voting Machines in America, Yahoo Tech
I wrote up an autopsy of the Winvote voting machines on which I had the immense displeasure of voting for a decade or so.
9/7/2016: Apple just demonstrated why people hate the tech industry, Yahoo Finance
Apple is still wrong to have removed the headphone jack from the iPhone–and so is every other smartphone vendor stupid enough to follow that arrogant example.
5/12/2017: The Trump administration gets the history of Internet regulations all wrong, The Washington Post
Six years and 25 days after I left the Post, I returned with a lengthy debunking of FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s inaccurate praise for 1990s telecom regulation.
9/28/2017: What it’s like riding in Cadillac’s self-driving Super Cruise for 350 miles, Yahoo Finance
I’ve never been so excited to drive through Breezewood, Penn., as I was when a Cadillac drove most of the highway miles for me.
2/6/2018: SpaceX successfully launches the world’s most powerful rocket, Yahoo Finance
It was an immense privilege to be able to tell readers what the debut launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy looked, sounded and felt like.
1/23/2020: What the hell happened to Mint?, Fast Company
I enjoyed unpacking Intuit’s apathetic stewardship of Mint–with the help of Mint founder Aaron Patzer. This piece resonated extraordinarily well with readers who have been experiencing some of the same frustrations.
4/19/2007: Going to Town With WiFi, The Washington Post
I glowingly sketched out how local jurisdictions would soon set up municipal WiFi networks with the help of… noted broadband pioneer EarthLink. I must have been waiting for my skepticism to download over one of EarthLink’s dial-up connections.
4/11/2010: With iPad, Apple aims for sweet spot between laptops, smartphones, The Washington Post
In retrospect, I was way too optimistic about manufacturers of e-readers, netbooks and other tablets catching up with Apple–and too pessimistic about the coming selection of iPad-optimized apps.
1/31/2011: 1994 ‘Today’ show ‘What is Internet?’ clip offers a reminder: We were all newbies once, The Washington Post
I thought I was sufficiently vague in describing the person who uploaded a dusty old clip of Today Show hosts marveling at “Internet.” I was not; that individual’s bosses found out and fired him. I still feel like crap about that.
What CMS did they use? Their own, or a proprietary one? Can you say? Always enjoyed your columns!
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