Weekly output: Disney CEO swap, streaming devices, adtech deal, Comcast freebies, robocall punishment, T-Mobile updates, World Cup ratings, Black Friday streaming deals, Musk touts Twitter growth

I had an exceedingly busy three days to start the week–as in, it was a good thing my flight Wednesday wasn’t until 3:15 in the afternoon–then managed to keep my hands off a keyboard for most of the rest of the week.

Patreon readers got a bonus post Wednesday afternoon about my struggles getting Verizon to document where it’s expanded its C-band 5G service this year.

11/21/2022: Disney CEO recycling sees Chapek go and Iger return, Fierce Video

The lede for this story about Disney replacing CEO Bob Chapek with his predecessor Bob Iger–“Meet the new Bob, same as the old Bob”–popped into my head almost immediately, and then I checked Twitter and saw that I was not alone in thinking of that turn of phrase.

11/21/2022: U.S. total of streaming video devices topped 1 billion last year, Fierce Video

Before you react in disbelief to that number, remember that the authors of the report I wrote up are counting not just TVs and streaming-media players but also phones and computers.

11/22/2022: Amagi buys data-aggregation vendor Streamwise, Fierce Video

My work filling in at this video-industry news site continued with this writeup of one infrastructure company buying another.

11/22/2022: Comcast offers a week of streaming freebies to video subscribers, Fierce Video

Subscribers to Comcast’s video services are getting some extra stuff to watch without paying extra.

11/23/2022: Robocall-Enabling Provider Gets the Digital Death Penalty From the FCC, PCMag

If you’re a telecom provider subject to the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations, you should probably not answer an FCC query about your non-compliance by writing back “We are not needing this certification.”

Screenshot of the story as it appeared in Safari for macOS.11/23/2022: T-Mobile execs open a door to mmWave FWA, Light Reading

I wrote up my conversation at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit with two T-Mobile network executives, during which I learned a few things about the carrier’s fixed-wireless-access efforts.

11/23/2022: U.S.-Wales World Cup match draws 11.7 million viewers, Fierce Video

After writing this post, I felt bad for not watching any of that match live–oh, wait, the video services I pay for don’t include Fox Sports.

11/23/2022: Black Friday deals at streaming vendors, retailers and services, Fierce Video

After looking up all of these discounts, I then made it through the weekend without buying any streaming-media gadgets. My only purchase that Friday happened at a grocery store.

11/27/2022: Elon Musk touts Twitter growth, Al Jazeera

I did a quick hit via Skype to talk about Musk’s claims of rising numbers for total users and engagement on Twitter, telling the audience (as translated live into Arabic) that if Musk though Twitter had a bot problem before he bought the company, Twitter almost certainly had a worse bot problem after Musk had fired far more than half of Twitter’s employees.

Weekly output: Roku updates, targeted TV ads (x2), Instagram Reels, online-ad advice, TechBBQ startup pitches, Theranos whistleblower

This week’s trip to Copenhagen for the TechBBQ conference was going to introduce me to two new countries, thanks to my connection in Iceland each way. And then I realized that I could duck over to Sweden for breakfast Friday morning, thanks to Europe’s longest road/rail bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden with frequent and cheap train service.

9/12/2022: Upcoming Roku interface changes nod to streaming complexity, Fierce Video

Another run of fill-in work at my video trade-pub client started with this writeup of upcoming Roku product releases.

9/12/2022: Fox enlists Comscore to help target local TV ads, Fierce Video

Fox is bringing on outside help to improve its ad targeting at its local TV stations.

9/12/2022: New Dish partnership to enable real-time programmatic TV ads, Fierce Video

Dish is enlisting similar assistance with its targeted ads.

9/13/2022: WSJ report: Instagram’s Reels is reeling in hardly anybody, Fierce Video

A few days after writing this, I finally had a Reel catch my eye–in the form of one my brother had posted.

9/13/2022: Advertising Group Urges Companies: Give Customers a Reason to Share Data, PCMag

I finished writing this summary of a report from the ad-industry group IAB while sitting at the gate for my flight from Dulles to Reykjavik.

The audience for my panel, a few minutes before it started. Attendees wear headphones provided by the organizers to cope with a noisy venue.9/14/2022: PR & Press Panel Pitch, TechBBQ

My contribution to this conference, alongside moderator Morgan Meaker of Wired and fellow judges Jordan French of Grit Daily News, Amala Balakrishner of DealStreetAsia and Niels Lunde of Børsen, consisted of quizzing a set of early-stage firms picked by TechBBQ’s organizers: Seaborg Technologies (cost-competitive nuclear power), FarmDroid (robotic agriculture), Stykka (eco-friendly interior construction), Atlant 3D Nanosystems (nano-scale additive manufacturing), and Blue Lobster (sustainable seafood). All five had to present with the unexpected disadvantage of the audio-video system preventing them from showing all but snippets of their slide decks.

9/15/2022: Theranos Whistleblower on Lessons Learned: I ‘Would Have Hired a Lawyer’, PCMag

I wasn’t sure if a conference focused on the Nordic tech ecosystem would yield a story for a U.S. audience, but Tech.eu editor-in-chef Robin Wauters’s interview of Theranos whistleblower Erika Cheung provided just that.

Weekly output: Spotify privacy, Halo’s 5G-powered car service, Internet providers

Our kid was out this week at camp, but in a few days it will be my turn to be out of the house: I’m doing some of the drive testing for this year’s edition of PCMag.com’s Fastest Mobile Networks guide. Yes, on the road for actual business travel.

7/7/2021: At Spotify, private listening is not a simple proposition, USA Today

I’ve had the idea for a while of a column unpacking the inconsistent and often unhelpful privacy settings in Spotify, but the chance to interview a Spotify executive for the virtual edition of Dublin Tech Summit last month gave me quotes to anchor the piece.

Screenshot of the Fast Company story on Halo as seen on an iPad mini.7/8/2021: This driverless car-sharing service uses remote human ‘pilots,’ not AI, Fast Company

I was supposed to write this story last month about the Halo car service and its use of T-Mobile 5G to have remotely-driven vehicles show up before car-share customers. But then T-Mobile said they wanted to push the embargo back; that gave me time to get an industry analyst’s perspective and write an explainer for Patreon supporters about PR embargoes.

7/8/2021: Internet Providers, U.S. News & World Report

My latest round of work at U.S. News–consisting of profiles of AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon; comparisons of Spectrum and AT&TComcast and AT&T, and Verizon and Spectrum; and guides to fiber broadband, cheaper Internet access, and ways to speed up your connection–was much more work than my previous efforts. That is mostly the fault of the many large Internet providers that show no interest in clearly displaying their prices, speeds and terms of service. Las Vegas hotels and their resort fees are models of transparency compared to this lot–although maybe I can’t be too cranky about their willful opacity, since it gave me the material for a USA Today column.

Weekly output: Scripps’ broadcast bet, AT&T CEO, Discovery downgrade, Betacom, ransomware lessons, Boost Mobile + DraftKings, exploding ISP prices

This month is ending in a flurry of deadlines, and I am profoundly grateful to have tomorrow as a day off to think about people who have had much harder jobs than me.

5/24/2021: Scripps CEO on why he’s bullish on OTA TV, FierceVideo

I talked to E.W. Scripps CEO Adam Symson about his ambitions for distributing the company’s new Newsy channel via old-school broadcast TV.

5/24/2021: AT&T’s Stankey defends WarnerMedia spinoff at J.P. Morgan event, FierceVideo

My editors at Fierce asked if I could fill in to cover some breaking news Monday, and the first result was this recap of AT&T’s CEO defending his decision to unwind the company’s expensive media strategy.

5/24/2021: MoffettNathanson disses Discovery with ratings downgrade, FierceVideo

I also filed this post on a clueful market-research firm’s pessimism about one apparent beneficiary of AT&T’s retreat from media.

5/25/2021: Betacom makes its private-wireless-network bid with $15M in funding, Light Reading

My other trade-pub client wanted me to cover a wireless-infrastructure firm’s pivot.

Screengrab of ransomware post5/26/2021: Why the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is a sign of things to come, Fast Company

I spent a fair amount of the previous week watching panel discussions at the RSA Conference, and a series of talks about the ransomware plague at that information-security event yielded this piece.

5/27/2021: Boost Mobile bets on DraftKings as a partner, FierceWireless

FierceVideo’s sister publication requested my help in covering another bit of breaking news: an unusual marketing tie-in between an online sportsbook and an ambitious reseller of T-Mobile’s service.

5/30/2021: Buyer, beware: Internet providers may have ‘exploding prices’ after year one or two, USA Today

As I wrote to my editor when I filed this piece: “After I invoice USAT for this, I would like to invoice Comcast for pointing out their broken Web design.” It’s one thing to offer promotional prices that end after a set period of time, but it’s another to send a would-be customer on a dark-pattern detour to figure out what the real price will be after the new-subscriber honeymoon ends.

Weekly output: a 5G reality check, sports network fees without sports

Yesterday afforded us the rare privilege of several hours spent in a different part of the greater Washington area–Harpers Ferry. That historic town at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah is as picturesque they say, and it’s close enough that I have zero excuse not to have visited it before. On the other hand, it’s good that after 30-plus years around here I’m still discovering new places.

9/4/2020: Two promising 5G trends: $200 5G phones and unlimited home broadband, Fast Company

My coverage of the scaled-back IFA tech show got an unexpected boost when Qualcomm offered Fast Company a chance to quiz their president Cristiano Amon about their announcements at that event. I enjoyed my conversation with the executive I’d met IRL at an IFA reception last year, and I also appreciated getting some realistic talk about which parts of the 5G formula actually look to be mass-market material on a global scale.

9/6/2020: NBA, NHL, MLB fans sidelined: Will TV subscribers ever get money back after coronavirus shortened seasons?, USA Today

I wrote an update to the column I did in April that didn’t break an enormous amount of news–AT&T’s reply almost matched the one they provided then word-for-word. But I did get some more specific assurances from Comcast about when subscribers might get compensation for months of paying sports-network fees that have not brought anywhere near the usual quota of live sports.

Weekly output: Collision recap, YouTube TV rate hike, coronavirus antibody testing, data caps returning

I had an exceptionally low-key Fourth of July: My wife and I watched the flyover from our sidewalk, I cooked dinner on the grill, and after dining we watched the fireworks from a nearby street.

In addition to the stories below, Patreon readers got a post from me about that site’s confusing and vague presentation of possible sales taxes on membership fees.

6/30/2020: Collision from Home 2020 at a glance, IT World Canada

Lynn Grenier wrote a recap of panels at last week’s virtual conference that mentioned one of mine, making this the first and probably the last time I’m in the same story as Justin Trudeau.

6/30/2020: YouTube TV Now Costs Almost Twice What It Did Three Years Ago, Forbes

The headline wrote itself. I revised it a day later to note a smaller price hike at a competing service, FuboTV, and add a reminder to readers that they can watch PBS over the air for free.

7/1/2020: Here’s what it’s like to get a coronavirus antibody test, Fast Company

On this piece, the lede wrote itself.

7/1/2020: Data caps still alive as pledges from internet service providers expire, USA Today

Between the inability of the nation’s largest Internet provider to make up its mind, my own inattention, and USAT’s status as an online and print publication, this column has had a few iterations. First we updated it later Wednesday to add Comcast’s decision to reinstate and raise its data cap–a move made after that cable operator left its customers guessing after its previous pledge to suspend enforcement of that limit had expired. Then we revised the piece again to correct my own misspelling of somebody’s last name (yes, I managed to get “Smith” wrong because I typed in Cox spokesperson’s Todd Smith’s name and got a different Todd’s surname lodged between my brain and fingers at the time). Finally, the column as revised and extended ran in the July 2 print edition of USAT.

Weekly output: backup bandwidth for working from home, WFH advice, Twitter coronavirus rules, ISP data caps

The demolition of this spring’s business-travel schedule concluded Friday with the cancellation of the Geoint 2020 Symposium, a late-April conference in Tampa at which I was set to write up talks for the show daily as I did at last year’s event in San Antonio. This will hurt financially in a way that all of my other canceled conferences haven’t–those few days of deadline writing would have yielded a nice big check on top of the paid travel. Yet I feel like I can’t really complain when I look at how much uglier business has gotten for news organizations in just the past few weeks.

(Sorry if I’m getting you down. Please enjoy a picture of cherry blossoms, taken far from any crowds in D.C.)

3/16/2020: Working or learning from home: Telecoms give boost in bandwidth to keep us online, USA Today

I scrambled to write this Friday afternoon as telecoms began announcing moves to liberalize their data caps and other usage restrictions to accommodate all the Americans newly-forced to work or learn from home. Then I filed an update Saturday morning with news about two wireless carriers giving subscribers a lot more mobile-hotspot data.

3/18/2020: Confessions of a Work-from-Home Pro, Presidential Management Alumni Association

I still miss the Web chats I used to do for the Post, so I was happy to accept the invitation of this group for federal workers to do a group Zoom chat about the finer points of working from home. I hope I was able to help, although I don’t know if there are any great answers for people who live in small residences that don’t allow for much of a separate “work” area.

PMAA says they’ll post a recording of the session soon; when they do, I’ll add a link to it here it is.

3/20/2020: Twitter’s new coronavirus rules, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on via Skype to talk about Twitter’s new rules governing coronavirus disinformation. Although doing this remotely saved me a trip to the D.C. office, it also meant I struggled to hear the translator on top of the anchor; a couple of times, I had to hope I’d correctly heard his rendition of whatever she’d said in Arabic.

3/21/2020: The coronavirus might have just killed ISP data caps, Fast Company

I revisited the news I’d covered for USAT by asking several Internet providers and a few telecom analysts about the odds of now-waived data caps returning; the ISPs didn’t comment, but the analysts all agreed that they were most likely a coronavirus casualty that can’t be revived.

Updated 4/9/2020 to add a link to video of my session in PMAA’s wonderfully-named “Couchella” series. 

Weekly output: Comcast broadcast-TV fee hike, Starz app, Disney+ downloads, Ericsson mobile-broadband study, Opensignal video-quality study, Black Friday media-player deals, inactive Twitter accounts

Hello, December–as in, the month in which the only uncertainty left about my income for the year concerns which clients will not pay an outstanding invoice until after Dec. 31.

11/25/2019: Comcast readies another round of rate hikes, FierceVideo

I spent the first three mornings of the week filling in at this trade-pub client to write up breaking news. Comcast obliged me by prepping its latest in a long series of rate hikes–one topped by a nearly 50 percent increase in the broadcast-TV fee that didn’t even exist before 2015.

11/25/2019: Starz takes streaming-TV app overseas, FierceVideo

Monday didn’t have much else in the way of breaking video news, so I wrote up this international expansion of Starz’ streaming app.

11/26/2019: Disney+ mobile apps hit 15.5 million downloads: Report, FierceVideo

My editor at Fierce flagged the New York Post’s writeup of the news, which extrapolated from the app-download estimates of Apptopia to conclude that almost a million people were signing up for Disney+ a day. I’m glad I asked Apptopia for comment, because they declined to associate themselves with the Post’s assumptions.

11/26/2019: Ericsson study: video will eat 76% of mobile bandwidth in 2025, FierceVideo

I wrote up a new Ericsson forecast calling for a boom in streaming video–fueled by rapid adoption of 5G broadband.

11/27/2019: Opensignal study slams U.S. carriers’ streaming-video quality, FierceVideo

My first item Wednesday morning was an Opensignal study that gave streaming-video quality in the U.S. the equivalent of an F- and ranked us between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

11/27/2019: Streaming video players spotted less at early Black Friday sales, FierceVideo

The headline on this was supposed to read “Streaming video plays spotted for less.” I was also supposed to have Wednesday afternoon free after filing this, but I didn’t finish writing another post for a separate client (not yet posted) until 5 p.m.

11/28/2019: Inactive Twitter accounts, Al Jazeera

I took a short break from Thanksgiving cooking to pop in via Skype and discuss Twitter’s quickly-walked-back plans to start culling inactive accounts. Most of the questions from AJ’s host involved what Twitter should do for the accounts of deceased members, and I had to admit that it crazy for Twitter still not to have any policy for that.