This was the first year since 2017 that started and ended with me writing for the same set of core clients. After watching 2020 tear down a non-trivial chunk of my business and spending much of 2021 contining to rebuild from that occupational rubble, that was a profound relief.
PCMag lets me both post quick updates on tech-policy developments and take such journalistic detours as writing about the possible return of supersonic air travel. Fast Company gives me the space for more in-depth pieces on technology, policy and science. USA Today, where I’ve now been writing for more than 11 years, remains a great place to explain tech–concisely!–to readers. And in Light Reading and Fierce Video, I have trade-pub clients that let me get into weeds on telecom and video topics, making me more informed about those issues when I step back to cover them for a consumer audience.
So that’s how I made freelancing work this year. Along the way, these stories stand out as favorites:
- I took pleasure in stuffing as many references to Neil Young song titles as possible into a PCMag post recapping the singer-songwriter taking his catalogue off Spotify in protest of that service tolerating tough-guy podcaster Joe Rogan’s medical misinformation.
- A February story in the Washington Post (yes, it remains fun to show up in my old paper) allowed me to revisit much previous reporting about the difficulty of ensuring that a new home, especially a rural abode, will have broadband.
- An April column for USA Today unpacked a particularly repellent practice among broadband providers that don’t feel too threatened by competition: not letting existing customers get rates offered to new subscribers.
- Later in April, I reminded Fast Company readers of how far SpaceX has come–and how little confidence many Washington aerospace-establishment types had thought of the company a dozen years earlier. (When you see me denounce Elon Musk for his moronic mismanagement of Twitter, remember that this is my baseline for the guy.)
- Speaking of Musk’s pre-Twitter output, a June PCMag post shared my thoughts on putting a rented Tesla Model 3 through that nearly 1,700-mile drive, and why I think so much more highly of Tesla’s powertrain engineers than its interface designers.
- In an August USA Today column from the Black Hat information-security conference, I shared some refreshingly human-centered advice from security professionals.
- Light Reading gave me a chance in September to call out a Huawei executive’s attempt to generate his own reality-distortion field in a keynote at the IFA trade show.
- Later that month, a Fast Company story on browser competition allowed me to rethink some of the things that I wrote two decades ago about that subject.
- In October, I walked PCMag readers through using an iFixit repair kit to replace the Pixel 5a screen that I’d clumsily shattered, bringing that embarrassing episode to what I hope was a reader-enlightening close.
Business travel resumed at a level last I’d last seen in 2019 and pushed me past the million-miler mark on United Airlines, with my sideline of speaking at conferences treating me to some new and old places: Copenhagen, Dublin, Las Vegas, Lisbon, New York, and Toronto. PCMag, in turn, gave me the chance to take that Tesla-powered road trip through some outsized and beautiful parts of the Pacific Northwest–a trek that featured an overnight stay at my in-laws’ for my first home-cooked meal in a week.
(You can see a map of those flights after the jump.)
All this travel gave me more practice than I wanted with Covid tests, but especially after I finally came down with Covid in June–and then had a remarkably easy bout that cleared in a week and allowed me to return to Ireland for the first time since 2015. Four months later, I learned that my father-in-law had cancer; two months later, that invasive case of lymphoma had taken Al from us. I wish 2022 had spared him, and then maybe you all could have soon seen him pop up in the comments as he sometimes did here to share a compliment or an encouragement.Continue reading