Weekly output: police body cameras, mobile battery life, online publishing, DSL modems

It’s not Christmas yet, but I can see it before me. Which is another way of saying that I need to finalize my CES schedule, book my Mobile World Congress flights, and figure out where I’m staying for SXSW.

12/9/2014: 3 Questions to Ask Before Putting Cameras on Cops, Yahoo Tech

This column got a spot on the Yahoo home page, resulting in a flood of comments and a round of e-mails I wish I’d answered already.

Kojo Nnamdi Show mobile battery life12/9/2014: Powering Our Mobile Devices: How to Boost Battery Life, Kojo Nnamdi Show

I talked about what can prolong the time before your phone’s next meeting with a power outlet. My interlocutors: host Kojo Nnamdi and C|Net executive editor Ian Sherr,

12/11/2014: Mistakes made in online publishing, HHS Digital Council

News organizations have often chosen poorly when picking online publishing systems, so I had to accept a friend’s invitation to discuss that history before a group of digital-media managers for various branches of the Department of Health and Human Services.

12/14/2014: Weak Wi-Fi drags down DSL? Try moving the modem, USA Today

This column, like others, started with a call from a friend who had a technical question (in this case, about being able to replace an aging Verizon DSL modem with one that might get a WiFi signal to all of a house). That’s why I’m glad I write a Q&A column: It lets me monetize the inevitable tech-support queries from pals.

Corrections and changes can’t be clandestine

In the bad old days of paper-only journalism, you couldn’t change the text in an already-printed story, but at least newspapers almost always ran the correction in the same spot (usually, a box on A2 quietly dreaded by all in the newsroom). We’ve now flipped around the problem: It’s trivially easy to fix a story that’s already online, but you can no longer count on getting notice that it was corrected.

WordPress update buttonAnd while I’d much rather see stories get updated early and often to fix mistakes and incorporate breaking news, to do so without telling the reader you changed them is… kind of a lie. It suggests that you never made any mistakes in the piece when you really did. And since somebody will always notice the change, if not take a screengrab of the original copy, you risk trust rot setting in among readers.

Ideally, the content-management systems in use at news sites would automatically time-stamp each update and let readers browse older versions, as you can with the “View history” button on any good wiki. But some three years after online-journalism pioneer Scott Rosenberg urged just that and heralded the arrival of a WordPress plug-in to automate public revision tracking, I see few sites following that practice. More often, the bad copy goes down the memory hole.

If you run your own site, the lack of built-in version-browsing can’t stop you from telling readers you changed the copy–just strikethrough the offending text if it’s a minor fix or add a date- or time-stamped note to the end of the piece calling out the correction. (Since WordPress.com doesn’t provide a way for readers to compare revisions like what blog admins get in the editing interface, that’s what I do here.) That’s also how I handle things at the few freelance clients that allow me to sign into their CMS.

What do you do if you lack that access and a “CX” might otherwise go unremarked? Here’s my fix: Once your editor updates your post, leave a comment on it, linked back to a page or social-media account publicly recognized as you, that notes the error and the correction. Readers may not see that comment, especially if some relevance algorithm hides it by default, but at least you’ve documented the change in the closest possible spot to the original mistake.

Weekly output: podcast, DVD recording, TPS panel, Social Machines, Twitter and Topsy, searching within sites

The amount of writing inventoried below is a tiny fraction of all the tweeting I did from the Tech Policy Summit last week. I’m surprised my follower total didn’t plunge after all of that verbiage.

6/5/2012: Rob’s May Podcast: Big-Screen Banter With Dave Zatz, CEA Digital Dialogue

For the latest episode of the CEA podcast, I had a long chat with longtime D.C.-area tech blogger Dave Zatz. He’s been doing great work covering the video end of the electronics industry, I’ve cited his posts many times (most recently, in my Discovery News post about Vudu’s disc-to-digital service), and he has the unusual perspective of having seen gadget marketing from the inside out in two jobs with electronics vendors.

6/6/2012: How DVD Recording Got Paused, CEA Digital Dialogue

My past enthusiasm for DVD recording doesn’t look as ill-founded as my cheerleading for municipal WiFi, but it’s not far behind. In this post, I explain four angles that I missed–and make the shocking confession that I bought a 3D-compatible Blu-ray player in December. Worse yet, this thing can also play SACDs.

6/6/2012: Looking Ahead: Intellectual Property and Innovation, Tech Policy Summit

Video of the contentious discussion I moderated at this conference in Napa, Calif., featuring Techdirt’s Mike Masnick and USC Annenberg Innovation Lab director Jonathan Taplin.

6/7/2012: ‘Social Machines’: Check In For Free Beer, Discovery News

An overdue dose of DC-area tech news in my coverage, featuring clever hacks put together by the Dupont Circle social-media marketing firm iStrategyLabs that carry on a tradition of connecting ordinary devices to the Internet that I first wrote about in the Post’s long-forgotten “CyberSurfing” column. (Anybody remember the Cygnus Support Christmas tree?) Speaking of hacking, note how this post includes gratuitous and yet relevant, justifiable references to free beer and Lady Gaga.

6/10/2012: Topsy knows what you did on Twitter last year, USA Today

A friend’s Facebook query about looking up tweets from NASA’s STS-135 launch Tweetup last July led to this–which was once set to run as the shorter tip item in the column until I realized I could address other recent developments in the Twitterverse. It also offers a tip about working around a site’s defective internal search that I hope isn’t too mind-numbingly obvious.

In other news, a story I covered two weeks ago–the arrival of the iPhone on Cricket Wireless’s prepaid service–got a little more interesting this week as Sprint’s Virgin Mobile subsidiary also announced that it would sell Apple’s smartphone at a higher price but lower monthly rates than Cricket. From this tech-support note, it appears that Virgin Mobile will also unlock the iPhone; I’ve asked PR there for clarification but haven’t heard back yet. Update, 6/11/2012: Virgin Mobile publicist Jayne Wallace replied, “Yes the SIM slot is locked, and no it can’t be unlocked.” It will not work on any other carrier, in the U.S. or overseas; that tech-support link came from Virgin Mobile Canada, a separately-owned company.

Update, 6/25/2012: Added a link to video of the TPS panel.