2016 in review: a year of travel

This has been a trash bag of a year in so many ways, but on a personal level it could have been worse. As in, for a few weeks in the late winter I thought the overwhelming source of my income would vanish along with most of the Yahoo Tech operation.

Instead, Yahoo Finance picked me up before I’d gotten too far in exploring other possibilities. But the publicity over Yahoo’s content cutbacks wound up helping an overdue diversification of my income anyway–an editor at Consumer Reports e-mailed to ask if the news meant I’d be interested in writing for them. That led to a good series of stories, one not yet published.

2016-calendarI got another lucky break when a press-room meeting at the cable industry’s sparsely-attended INTX show yielded a string of assignments for the FierceTelecom group of sites.

These and other new clients still leave most of my income coming from a single company, but the totals aren’t as skewed as they were last year.

2016 did, however, see me do much better at finagling opportunities to speak on panels that got my travel expenses covered in the bargain. My mileage totals kept climbing as conferences and other tech events took me to places I’d hadn’t seen in 18 years (Hong Kong), 25 years (Paris), 43 years (Lisbon), or ever before (Israel), as well as my now-regular trips to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress and Berlin for IFA.

Domestically, New York was once again my most frequent travel destination, followed by Boston (now that both my brother and my mom live around there, I’m kind of obliged to find interesting tech events around the Hub). I also made my way to Austin, Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and the Bay Area. Having SFO appear as a work destination only once seems like a grave dereliction of duty; I’ll try to do better.

(Read on after the jump to see all of my air travel plotted on a map of the world.)

My single favorite trip of the year: Viva Technology Paris, which brought me back to France for a second time this summer and showed that I could moderate four panels in a day. The trip also allowed enough downtime for me to take a train to the suburb of Louveciennes, knock on the door of the house my family rented a quarter-century ago, and discover that the family we’d rented the place from still lived there and was happy to let me look around.

The most challenging trip of 2016 would have to be Web Summit. Doing three panels on four hours of nightmare-level sleep is not an experience I need to repeat.

On that note, I can only hope that 2017 will bring less bad news than 2016. But I don’t know how it will turn out, only that I have work to do and good fortune to repay somehow.

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Weekly output: Verizon e-mail, Verizon Wireless zero-rating, 2016 tech politics, Telecom Act, Twitter timeline, tech we love, cord cutting, Google Play Music, saving Web pages

A three-day weekend is much appreciated after this week.

2/8/2016: Verizon won’t shut off email as soon as you feared, USA Today

The column I filed late on the preceding Friday got lost in the excitement of a Super Bowl weekend and so ran on Monday instead of Sunday.

2/9/2016: Verizon’s Free Video Deal: Will It Cost Us in the Long Run?, Yahoo Tech

This was one of those times when I have to set aside other work to cover a topic that’s jumped into the news–in this case, how Verizon Wireless exempting its own video app from its own data cap backdoors VzW’s net-neutrality obligations.

CompTIA D.C. fly-in agenda2/9/2016: The 2016 Election and the Tech Agenda, CompTIA DC Fly-In

I talked about tech-policy issues we may hear about during the 2016 campaign with the Glover Park Group’s Jason Boxt, Politico’s David Perera, and this trade group’s Liz Hyman.

2/9/2016: The Telecommunications Act at 20: How Congress Almost Managed to Predict the Future of the Net, Yahoo Tech

It’s crazy how much this law has affected our use of technology over the last two decades; whatever coverage it got before its passage could not have been enough.

2/10/2016: Twitter’s new timeline, WTOP

Twitter’s introduction of an algorithmically-curated view of tweets you missed doesn’t mean it’s turned into Facebook. Well, not yet.

2/10/2016: Let Us Count the Ways: The Tech We Really Love, Yahoo Tech

My short contribution to this post was a paragraph about how much I’ve come to trust Google Maps since handing off a writeup of Google’s then-new navigation site to my friend Anthony Zurcher 11 years ago.

2/11/2016: T.V. Viewing Options, Maine Calling

I talked to Maine Public Broadcasting radio listeners about dropping cable or satellite TV in favor of broadcast and streaming video–both of which can be tricky in the rural reaches of that state.

2/12/2016: Tip: Upgrade Your Songs For Free with Google Play Music, Yahoo Tech

I’d mentioned this option in a USA Today column last January, but that piece glossed over some of the steps involved.

2/14/2016: To save a Web page, look past your hard drive, USA Today

As I was finishing up this column Friday, I realized that my advice to use the Internet Archive to save a copy of a page was somewhat undercut by USA Today’s blocking of that site. Awkward!

Weekly output: Trump closing parts of the Internet

As I type this, I have six pieces for various clients that I’ve completed but which have yet to be posted–three of which I filed this week. So, yes, I was more productive than this paltry list would suggest.

Yahoo Tech Trump close-the-Internet post12/17/2015: Dear Donald Trump: No, You Can’t Shut Down Parts of the Internet, Yahoo Tech

This post was slightly unpopular with Trump supporters, as I noted yesterday. Were I to write it again, I would have acknowledged upfront that countries like China and North Korea can and do wall off parts of the Internet–but that if we could exercise that level of control over Iraq and Syria, we most likely would have rounded up all of the current crop of terrorists.

Meanwhile, if you didn’t leave one of the first of the 1,928 comments the story has drawn to date–getting featured on the Yahoo home page yields results!–please accept my apology for not having read your feedback yet.

Donald Trump supporters have some opinions

Thursday’s post at Yahoo Tech critiquing Donald Trump’s notion of “maybe, in certain areas, closing the Internet up in some way” did not go over well among Trump fans.

Trump-supporter messagesI expected as much, but I did not quite expect to see quite their rage so poorly expressed–like, for example, the fellow whose entire message consisted of a one-word subject header, “Bull,” and the “Sent from my iPhone” signature. Another disgruntled individual closed with “Your a Complete ASSHOLE.”

A few less spittle-flecked messages expressed disdain for my calling The Donald a blowhard or a loudmouth. My response: If Trump isn’t one, then those words no longer have any meaning in the English language.

Several asked why we couldn’t cut the terrorists off from the Internet when North Korea, China or Cuba maintain an iron grip on their citizens’ online access. Well, if we could exercise that level of control over Iraq and Syria, wouldn’t we already have rounded up the Daesh death cultists by now?

Finally, a few led with “you’re just a member of the liberal media.” Hoo boy, I’ve never heard that one before. I will have to warn my colleagues about this novel insult they may come across on the Internet.

On the other hand, a couple of people wrote in to say they appreciated the story. So I’ve got that going for me.

 

Weekly output: 2016 tech-policy topics, tech journalism and PR, phone theft, Tech Night Owl, no-broadband house

This was my least-scheduled week in the entire month, allowing me to start catching up on some overdue chores. Like doing my taxes.

3/24/2015: 3 Tech Arguments that the Candidates for President Will Be Debating… Endlessly, Yahoo Tech

Monday’s announcement by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) of his entrance into the 2016 presidential race gave me a reason to outline three key tech-policy issues–and some key words and phrases that indicate a candidate is either thinking seriously about them or recycling discredited dogma.

BusinessWire panel photos via Twitter3/24/2015: Media Breakfast with DC Technology Media, BusinessWire

I talked about the state of the tech-news business and news-PR interactions with the Washington Business Journal’s Kasra Kangarloo, Potomac Tech Wire publisher Paul Sherman, Politico’s Joseph Marks and my old Post colleague Hayley Tsukayama. You may have seen some of our banter tweeted out by attendees under the #BWchat hashtag.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made an early-morning trek to Tysons for a BusinessWire breakfast panel (I did the same thing in 2013), but it was the first time I could take what I like to call the Tysons Corner El instead of driving. Round-trip fare on the Silver Line: $7.05. Being able to laugh at traffic on 66 and the Beltway while answering e-mail on my laptop: priceless.

3/24/2015: Armed robbers target victims along popular trail, Fox 5 DC

After a round of robberies on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in which thieves (since arresteddemanded not just smartphones but their numeric passcodes, Fox 5’s Jennifer Davis interviewed about that tactic. I told her that you should make sure your phone’s online-backup and remote-wipe features were active. And what should you do if a robber demands your phone and its unlock code? My only suggestion (which didn’t make the spot) was to try to reset the phone, on the assumption that the criminal only wants a phone in a sellable state.

3/28/2015: March 28, 2015 — Jeff Gamet and Rob Pegoraro, Tech Night Owl

I talked to host Gene Steinberg about Sling TV and other new video services aimed at cord-cutters, how Apple might offer one of its own, and Google’s latest interactions with regulators on either side of the Atlantic.

3/29/2015: New home, no broadband? Prepare to negotiate, USA Today

This column started with a tweet to me during last month’s FCC vote to overturn North Carolina and Tennessee’s restrictions on municipal broadband. Untangling this Knoxville-area reader’s situation and assessing his options took weeks longer than I expected. Fortunately, he does have one broadband option at hand, with another to come should he agres to Comcast’s offer to connect his home if he commits upfront to two years of pricier-than-usual service.