This week was kind of nuts. I knew I’d be busy covering breaking news in the mornings for my trade-pub client FierceVideo while one of their reporters was on vacation, but I didn’t factor in how many entertainment and TV companies would be announcing their quarterly earnings. This put a dent in my ability to follow the now-virtual Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences that, were this a normal year, would have had me in Las Vegas this week. (Hacker summer camp friends, I miss you too and will try to catch up on your talks over the next few days.)
8/3/2020: Microsoft gets Trump green-light to buy TikTok, FierceVideo
I started this week by writing a bit about the biggest story in tech this week.
8/3/2020: Apple TV+ comes to American Airlines flights, FierceVideo
Writing about this addition to AA’s in-flight entertainment gave me an excuse to get a few quotes from one of my favorite avgeek bloggers, Seth Miller.
8/4/2020: Survey Shows Facebook Barely More Satisfying Than Comcast, Forbes
I got an advance look at the latest report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, allowing me to have this post up right as the ACSI published these findings.
8/4/2020: AMC’s second-quarter earnings could have been worse, FierceVideo
This was the first of four earnings stories.
8/4/2020: Time spent on TV viewing soars, says Samba, FierceVideo
My editor at Fierce pointed me to this study and asked if I’d heard of Samba TV; I said I had, and that a friend had tried to connect me with their CEO at CES last year.
8/4/2020: Layoffs loom at NBCUniversal, FierceVideo
I wrote up a WSJ report about pending layoffs for my third post of Tuesday.
8/5/2020: Thinking of buying a 5G smartphone? Finding your carrier’s flavor of 5G requires a taste for investigation, USA Today
We had to correct this column because I said a study released in May came out last year, an error I could only laugh about once it was brought to my attention.
8/5/2020: After a disaster movie of a quarter, Disney bets on Mulan, FierceVideo
The big news in Disney’s earnings call: It will debut Mulan in September as a $29.99 extra for Disney+ subscribers instead of sticking to a theatrical release.
8/5/2020: Fox forges ahead despite ad-revenue shortfall in Q4, FierceVideo
The optimism Fox executives voiced on their earnings call about sports returning this fall seemed unfounded at the time.
8/5/2020: Tech journalism, Lobsterclass
My friend Rakesh Agrawal (aka rakeshlobster on Twitter) quizzed me about the state of tech journalism and how startup founders might improve their interactions with the media for the latest in a series of product-management classes he began in May. Our Zoom chat got interrupted a couple of times by incoming WhatsApp calls that I couldn’t answer with “sorry, can’t talk right now” messages because my phone was already in use as my Zoom camera.
8/5/2020: Facebook and Twitter suppress Trump coronavirus video, Al Jazeera
The reason behind those calls: AJ’s English-language channel wanted me to opine about the two social networks taking down Trump shares of a Fox News video in which the president said children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. So at 11 p.m., I put my phone back on the tripod for yet another video call.
8/6/2020: Roku Q2: 43 million active accounts, $43 million loss, FierceVideo
I wrapped up my earnings coverage for Fierce by covering Roku’s quarter.
8/6/2020: First take on Instagram’s Reels: Yes, it’s a TikTok clone, FierceVideo
In addition to gathering quotes from a couple of analysts, I cobbled together my own art for this story by taking screenshots of Instagram’s new TikTok-ish feature.
8/7/2020: What becoming a poll worker taught me about securing the 2020 election, Fast Company
Security researcher and Georgetown Law professor Matt Blaze’s Black Hat keynote gave me an opportunity to share my own experience as a poll worker with a larger audience than this blog ever gets. We had to correct one error after posting; the National Vote At Home Institute, a non-profit whose CEO I quoted in the piece, is based in Denver, not D.C. as listed in its Twitter bio.
8/7/2020: From Russia With Lure: Why We’re Still Beset By Bots And Trolls Pushing Disinformation, Forbes
Stanford Internet Observatory researcher Renée DiResta gave an excellent keynote on day two of Black Hat about influence operations online and how China and Russia’s efforts compare.
8/7/2020: Trump issues executive order to ban business with TikTok, FierceVideo
I scrambled to get an explanation of what, exactly, Trump’s order would ban U.S. companies and users from doing with TikTok, and Public Knowledge’s telecom-law guru Harold Feld came through.
8/7/2020: NBCUniversal reshuffles entertainment leadership, FierceVideo
My week filling in at Fierce wrapped up with this recap of a reorg at NBCU.
8/9/2020: TikTok’s suitors, Al Jazeera
I usually don’t shave on Sundays but had to for this appearance on AJ’s Arabic-language channel to talk about why Microsoft and, reportedly, Twitter, might want to buy TikTok.