Weekly output: Google MWC updates, Nokia’s lunar LTE, anti-virus software, Bluetooth Auracast, fixed wireless 5G, most innovative robotics companies, Formic’s robots as a service, broadband and pay-TV subscribers, Microsoft’s plans for digital deserts

I wrote three of the items below between weeks and months ago, but I still feel a little tired looking at this list now. And yes, I have had a lot of naps since coming home from MWC¬†Thursday–because I need to rest up before I head out to Austin for SXSW on Friday.

2/27/2023: Google Kicks Off MWC With Grab-Bag of Android, Wear OS, Chrome OS Updates, PCMag

Google PR sent this embargoed announcement to me and my PCMag colleague Eric Zeman. He had enough other things to write–as in, he somehow cranked out eight posts Monday–so it fell to me to cover this.

2/27/2023: How Do You Make LTE Relevant at MWC 2023? Fly It to the Moon, PCMag

I wrote about this project last year for Fast Company, but this time I could look at a life-size model of the rover and quiz one of the researchers face-to-face on the MWC show floor. And yet despite that acquaintance with the topic, we had to correct the story after publication.

AARP story, as seen in Safari on an iPad mini 6.2/27/2023: Should You Pay for Antivirus Software? These Experts Say No, AARP

My debut at AARP covers a topic I’ve been writing about since I was way too young to let myself think about AARP membership: Should you pay for a third-party anti-virus app or stick with the security tools that came with your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone?

2/28/2023: A Quick Listen With Bluetooth Auracast: Like a Hotspot, But for Audio, PCMag

I got a demo of this short-range audio broadcast technology Tuesday morning, then wrote it up after in the afternoon after multiple meetings and at least one nap.

3/1/2023: Questions over FWA capacity, competition dominate MWC, Light Reading

I watched this panel about fixed-wireless access late Monday morning and found time to write it up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when jet lag once again left me staring at the ceiling of my Airbnb and I gave up trying to sleep for a bit.

3/2/2023: The 10 most innovative companies in robotics of 2023, Fast Company

My introduction to the Most Innovative Companies feature consisted of judging candidates in this category, then narrowing my choices over a couple of rounds and finally writing up profiles of the 10 finalists. It was fascinating and educational work, and I hope I can do it again.

3/2/2023: This startup is reviving American manufacturing with robots as a service, Fast Company

One of those 10 “MIC” honorees in the robotics category, a Chicago startup called Formic, also earned a spot in the overall top 50, so I interviewed the CEO and wrote this profile that print Fast Co. readers can see in the March/April issue of the magazine.

3/3/2023: Brutal Year for Pay TV Sees Wireless Carrier Broadband Picking Up Steam, PCMag

The telecom consultancy Leichtman Research Group posted their summary of 2022 broadband subscriber trends on Thursday (when I was too tired to think about writing that up) and then posted their 2022 pay-TV recap Friday morning, allowing me to cover both in one post.

3/5/2023: Microsoft’s ambitions for digital deserts, Al Jazeera

Having covered this topic for PCMag¬†in December, I was happy to accept AJ’s invitation to come into their D.C. studio for a quick interview (overdubbed live into Arabic as usual) about the ambitions of Microsoft and others to get hundreds of millions of people online in the world’s poorest countries.

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Yet another way to overthink shopping: discounted gift cards via AARP Rewards

Late last year, I hit the half-century mark and then, several weeks later, made my advanced age quasi-official by getting an AARP membership card. The discounts and benefits touted by the nonprofit once known as the American Association of Retired Persons seemed like they would justify the small cost of a membership that I’d already reduced by prepaying for five years (quite the vote of confidence for me to cast in late January!) and getting a cash-back deal on it from my Citi Double Cash card.

It took me a little longer to realize that the real payback would come from AARP Rewards. This program, partly open to non-members, offers points you can collect by completing such simple tasks as answering quizzes or just visiting the Rewards page, then redeem for gift cards as well as magazine and online subscriptions. The return on those points hasn’t been good for me, between the high number required to procure a gift card (for instance, 25,000 points for a $10 Spotify card) and the low odds of picking up one for less in an instant-win or sweepstakes entry (I’m batting .000 there after nine attempts, but at least I’ve only burned 450 points this way).

But AARP Rewards also sells a wide variety of gift cards at good-to-excellent discounts, some of which cover common if not unavoidable expenses and therefore amount to free money. For example, you can get a $15 Google Play gift card for $13, a 13.3 percent savings, while Home Depot, Safeway and REI gift cards come at 8% off. (All of those examples but Home Depot require an AARP membership, which younger people can get at an “associate” level while full benefits are reserved for my new demographic of 50 and older.)

AARP Rewards also sells a limited number of daily-deal gift cards at a deeper discount; for example, last month I picked up a $15 Crate & Barrel gift card for $10. But deals from the best-known retailers vanish almost immediately, as I’ve learned in multiple failed attempts to snag a Home Depot gift card at 30% off.

So far, I’ve racked up $24 in savings this way–although since I haven’t used all these gift cards yet, the savings are somewhat theoretical. The downside is that I now have yet another place to check after credit-card sites and miles-and-points shopping portals before I make an online purchase. And I now have yet another reason to feel a little dirty if I forget to do that and later realize I missed out on a chance to save a few bucks.