Weekly output: WiFi, Mac or PC, Web chat, QAM, HD or SD

I did not review a single product or service this week. Don’t worry; that streak won’t last long.

4/10/2012: Passpoint: A Recipe for Wider Wi-Fi, CEA Digital Dialogue

I got a little wonky with this post explaining a new standard for automatic WiFi roaming–first for smartphones, later for other devices. The idea behind WiFi Certified Passpoint (also referred to by the names of related efforts, Hotspot 2.0 or Next Generation Hotspot) is to ensure that people can stay online when the cellular airwaves get crowded. I got an example of the need for such a thing when I couldn’t upload a photo to Twitter from the Washington Nationals’ home opener.

4/12/2012: We’re All Macs And PCs (Unless We’re iPhones), Discovery News

My editors at Discovery asked if I’d be interested in writing an essay on the fading Mac-PC divide, and I said that sounded like a good topic–especially coming after a week that had seen Apple hit with an antitrust suit and the Mac get hit with a massive malware attack. I enjoyed writing this piece, although I’m a little puzzled that it didn’t draw any comments beyond a reader e-mail calling the piece “misleading, incorrect, and mischievous” (the writer has not responded to my request for specific examples of same).

I also enjoyed coming up with the no-Photoshop-involved illustration you see on the post. To take that photo, I held a Kindle Fire with its browser open to the Windows 7 logo in just the right spot to have that Microsoft graphic reflected in the Apple logo below an iMac’s screen–while holding a camera in the other hand.

4/13/2012: The Widening Wireless World (Web chat), CEA Digital Dialogue

My monthly Web chat covered a variety of mobile and wireless topics and a few related to desktop and laptop computing: LTE and WiMax 4G, WiFi roaming, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports and–of course!–the possible timing of the next iPhone.

4/15/2012: Do you need a box for digital cable? USA Today

This column started out with a Twitter inquiry from a Comcast subscriber outside of Charlottesville, Va., about tuning into just local channels without a box–a subject I’d covered at length for CEA a couple of months back. (Look, synergy!) The rest of the column outlines which cable and satellite providers offer ways to avoid watching the SD versions of channels you pay to watch in HD. (Speaking of synergy, from now on I’m going to try to have some thread connecting the Q&A part of each column with the tip.)


Weekly output: blog hosts, QAM, Kojo Nnamdi, iPad rumors, Web chat

This week involved more real-time interaction with readers than usual.

2/12/2012: Tip: For a personal Web page, keep it simple, USA Today

First a reader e-mailed to ask about the easiest way to host a blog under a personal domain name; then, between my filing this piece and USAT posting it, two friends asked me the same question. I guess the timing was right for the topic. The column also offers a tip that emerged from a comment thread here: You can recharge an iPad over any random charger with a USB port, not just a higher-powered model labeled as iPad-compatible.

2/14/2012: Qualms Over QAM, CEA Digital Dialogue

Here I discuss the cable industry’s proposal to encrypt the local, public, educational and government channels that “QAM” (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) tuners in digital TVs can receive without a box. Would you trade that–cable operators say encrypting QAM will free new customers from having to wait for the cable guy to show up–for the Federal Communications Commission making its “AllVid” proposal for box-free reception a standard for both cable and satellite? For further reading: The National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Paul Rodriguez explains why cable operators don’t like the “traps” they now use to control access, while venture capitalist Fred Wilson argues for keeping clear QAM and providing the broadcast channels for free.

2/14/2012: Our Love/Hate Relationship with Email, The Kojo Nnamdi Show

I discussed ways to tame an overloaded inbox with WAMU host Kojo Nnamdi and two other guests, etiquette author Anna Post and IBM social-computing evangelist Luis Suarez. You hear more of me in the second half of the show, after Suarez’s call-in segment ended. (Tip: You can speak in paragraphs on public radio, but they have to be newspaper paragraphs.)

2/17/2012: The Only ‘iPad 3’ Story You Need To Read, Discovery News

The headline I wrote may oversell this story a bit–but, really, the feature set on the next iPad should not be that hard to figure out. And if this post isn’t the only next-iPad piece you elect to read, it’s certainly the only one I plan to write, just as I only wrote one next-iPhone post last year.

2/17/2012: Living a Connected Life (Web chat), CEA Digital Dialogue

My second monthly chat for CEA started a little slow, but I wound up getting enough questions from readers to stick around for an extra 15 minutes. One query I got confirmed my decision to devote next week’s CEA post to the upcoming reallocation of some spectrum from TV to wireless data mandated by this week’s payroll tax-cut bill. Another may yield an item for my USA Today column: how to connect an ’80s-vintage Nintendo NES (no, really) to an HDTV.