Weekly output: Huawei’s IFA pitch, broadband buildout, Verizon One Unlimited for iPhone, iPhone 12 and 13 discounts, pay-TV warnings, Super Bowl ads, Mark Vena podcast

A week after I got back from Berlin, I finished my Flickr album of photos from the event, plus another one of Berlin scenery. That comes just in time for me to get back on a plane to Europe: Monday night, I fly to Copenhagen for the TechBBQ conference, at which I’ll be one of the judges at a startup pitching session.

9/5/2022: Huawei exec generates reality distortion field in IFA keynote, Light Reading

The head of Huawei’s Western European consumer business gave some answers in this onstage Q&A that seemed not just detached from reality but delusional.

9/6/2022: NTIA Head: At First, New Broadband Maps Are ‘Not Going to Be as Good’ as We Want, PCMag

While the federal government will soon have much more accurate maps of broadband availability, it apparently won’t use them to distribute broadband-buildout subsidies until localites get a chance to challenge perceived inaccuracies.

9/7/2022: ‘One Unlimited for iPhone’ Is Verizon’s Sixth Unlimited-Data Phone Plan, PCMag

The lede here wrote itself: “Verizon now needs both hands to count all its unlimited-data smartphone plans.”

Screenshot of story as seen in USA Today's iPad app, with the lead art being an Apple-provided photo showing five iPhone 14 handsets in different colors.9/7/2022: Why now’s a great time to grab an iPhone 12 or 13 at a discount after iPhone 14 launch, USA Today

This explainer of the potential appeal of the newly-discounted iPhone 12 and 13 got a quick update after AT&T clarified that only the new iPhone 14 would be supported on the 3.45 GHz 5G spectrum it’s now deploying (which is not the same as its C-band 5G but also significant to its network plans).

9/8/2022: MoffettNathanson raises red flags about cord cutting, Fierce Video

On another day when I was filling in at my trade-pub client, I wrote up a research report warning media firms and pay-TV providers that cord cutting and advertising revenue each stood to get a good deal worse, while sports-rights deals would probably get even more expensive.

9/8/2022: Fox says Super Bowl spots are going, going, almost gone, Fierce Video

And speaking of sports-rights deals and advertising revenue, Fox Sports says it’s sold almost all of the spots for the next Super Bowl.

9/9/2022: S02 E35 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this industry-analyst host and my fellow tech journalists John Quain and Stewart Wolpin to discuss IFA (Vena and Quain also covered it in Berlin) and Apple’s product-launch event Wednesday. One point I made about the latter: While Apple’s satellite-SOS feature looks fascinating, Apple requiring a subscription after the first two years raises a risk that somebody will set out for a wilderness hike with an iPhone that just turned two years old, then realize they can’t use that feature to summon help.

Weekly output: Google lets people keep legacy Google Apps accounts for personal use, broadband gains and pay-TV losses, Bing autosuggest hid some Chinese names

SANTA ROSA, Calif.–My road trip through the Pacific Northwest that started in Boise last Sunday ends Monday morning when I fly home. Doing wireless-carrier drive testing for this year’s version of PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project has taken me to some beautiful places, but I will be delighted to see the same old D.C.-area scenery tomorrow.

PCMag post on Google relenting on legacy G Suite5/17/2022: Google Clicks ‘Undo’ on Plan to Force Legacy Free Google Apps Users to Pay Up, PCMag

Google had spent months telling people (like me) who had long ago opened free Google Apps accounts to use e-mail under personal domain names that they’d have to pay for a business account or relocate their mail service elsewhere. Then the company said, in effect, “never mind.” I’m feeling confused but relieved, as the alternatives all seemed ugly in their own ways.

5/18/2022: TV Subscription Losses Almost Double Broadband-Subscription Gains in Q1, PCMag

I wrote up two reports from the consultancy Leichtman Research Group showing continued growth in broadband subscriptions and continued losses in pay-TV subscriptions. The detail that jumped out at me: how much fixed-wireless broadband service from T-Mobile and Verizon has grown in the last year.

5/20/2022: Bing Hid Auto-Suggestions for Politically Sensitive Chinese Names, Even in the US, PCMag

A new report from Citizen Lab found Microsoft’s Bing search site didn’t autosuggest search terms for certain names that would be considered politically delicate in China. Note my comment in this post about how this University of Toronto-based group found another form of autosuggest filtering that can’t be blamed on anything but the difficulty of automated content screening.

Weekly output: mm-wave 5G, broadband and pay-TV subscriptions, Apple product events (x2), Firefox add-ons, White House cryptocurrency policy, Charter CEO, Paramount CEO, YouTube vs. Russia, Mark Vena podcast, public diplomacy via TikTok, Lifekey

AUSTIN–I’m clearly out of practice at keeping one foot in the conference reality-distortion field that is SXSW here and one foot in my real-world schedule, as I completely spaced on writing this post yesterday. I’m going to blame that on the Daylight Saving Time switch.

3/7/2022: mmWave 5G advocates try to refocus their sales pitch at MWC, Light Reading

My final bit of MWC coverage came in this recap of a two-hour session covering the possibilities of millimeter-wave 5G broadband.

3/7/2022: 2.95M Americans Added Broadband in 2021, and Almost All of Them Got Cable, PCMag

I wrote up a summary of 2021’s trends in broadband subscriptions from Leichtman Research Group that once again showed cable running away with most of the growth there.

Screenshot of the column as seen in USAT's iPad app3/8/2022: To time your Apple purchases wisely, shop to the rhythm of Apple’s events, USA Today

I wrote this reminder about Apple’s product-introduction patterns as a curtain-raiser for the Tuesday event at which it introduced the updated iPhone SE and iPad Air as well as the new Mac Studio.

3/8/2022: Still Got Cable? Pay TV Providers See Subscriber Exodus in 2021, PCMag

A day later, Leichtman released their 2021 report on pay-TV subscriptions.

3/9/2022: Mozilla: The Pandemic Expanded Our Appetite for These Browser Extensions, PCMag

Mozilla released a study of which browser add-ons saw the most downloads at the start of the pandemic two years earlier, and of course a Zoom extension topped that list.

3/9/2022: White House Executive Order Starts Wheels Turning on Cryptocurrency Policy, PCMag

The Biden administration’s executive order on cryptocurrency policy directs the Federal Reserve to consider issuing a government-backed digital currency.

3/10/2022: Charter CEO: The new bundle is broadband and mobile, FierceVideo

I filled in at my trade-pub client this week, the first such piece being a writeup of a cable exec’s talk at a Morgan Stanley conference.

3/10/2022: Paramount CEO touts two-fer strategy at Morgan Stanley, FierceVideo

I then wrote up a second interview streamed from this Morgan Stanley event, this one with much better audio quality.

3/10/2022: YouTube ices out Russian subscribers, joining other U.S. video services in boycotting the country over Ukraine invasion, FierceVideo

I was lucky enough to have an analyst I quizzed on short notice have some useful stats about the Russian streaming-video market.

3/11/2022: S02 E10 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This edition of the weekly podcast (also available in video form) focused on one issue: Apple’s product introductions.

3/11/2022: White House courts TikTok influencers, Al Jazeera

Right after I did this Skype interview from the house I’m renting here about the Biden administration’s understandable extension of public-diplomacy efforts to social media, I got a Facebook message from a friend with a picture of a TV showing my appearance–he was visiting family in Morocco and was surprised/amused to see me on the news.

3/13/2022: For Wearables, Doing a Thing Well Beats Trying to Do It All, Grit Daily House

I interviewed Lifekey CEO Jason Kintzler onstage at the media house set up offsite by my conference pal Jordan French’s startup-news publication.

Updated 3/23/2022 to fix formatting glitches and correct a site misidentification.

Weekly output: Devin Nunes, Mark Vena podast, tech journalists about tech PR, Instagram and kid safety, your data for sale, Charter CEO

As I wrote on my Patreon page Thursday, I continue to be happy to be off the gadget-gift-guide treadmill.

12/7/2021: Devin Nunes Quits Congress to Run Trump’s Social Media Venture, PCMag

I enjoyed noting how this famously litigious representative will now get to square his dislike of online mockery with running a social platform that touts its opposition to censorship.

12/8/2021: S01 E21 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

My contribution to this week’s episode was unpacking Qualcomm’s attempts to sell an “always-on camera” as a privacy upgrade for smartphones.

12/8/2021: NPC Lunch & Learn: Meet the Technology Media, National Press Club

I joined fellow panelists Musadiq Bidar of CBS News and CIO Dive and Cybersecurity Dive editor Naomi Eide in this Zoom panel, in which we discussed our interactions with tech-PR types.

12/8/2021: Instagram kid-safety moves, Al Jazeera

I joined the Arabic-language news network via Skype to discuss the Facebook-owned app’s moves to tamp down overindulgence by teenage users. One early thought: I’d like to see more like that from YouTube.

12/9/2021: Guess What? The Cops Can Buy Your Data Instead of Going to Court for It, PCMag

I wrote up a new report from the Center for Democracy & Technology about how often and easily government agencies can get the information they want by buying it from data brokers instead of getting a search warrant. The piece closes with a reminder that Android and iOS include useful tools to limit how an app can get your location; if you haven’t looked at those settings, please do so now.

12/9/2021: Charter CEO: Wireless is the future, video is not yet the past, FierceVideo

I’m getting tired of seeing cable CEOs profess that they’ve moved past from relying on video subscriptions even as their pricing continues to favor TV subscribers.

Weekly output: Mark Vena podcast, Twitter buys Brief, iMessage mess

Once upon a time, you could count on August to be a slow news month. The Trump administration put an end to that–and even with Trump gone, the pandemic will ensure nobody gets a break from breaking-news alerts anytime soon.

Screengrab of podcast episode page as seen in Chrome for Android7/28/2021: SmartTechCheck Podcast by Parks Associates, Mark Vena

My industry-analyst pal now works at Parks Associates instead of Moor Insights & Strategy, but the podcast he hosts continues to run on the same outlines. My contribution to this week’s episode, once again featuring my fellow tech scribs Stewart Wolpin and John Quain, was to call out the ridiculous pricing Verizon has slapped on its new Fios TV streaming apps.

7/30/2021: Twitter buys Brief, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on for a few minutes to discuss Twitter buying the news-recap app Brief.

7/30/2021: Are your iMessage texts disappearing? The answer might just be checking your email, USA Today

Yet another episode of messages from an iPhone-using friend going to my iPad instead of my phone finally pushed me to dig into how Apple’s iMessage routes your chats. This column is paywalled, but the headline basically spells out the fix: If you use an Android phone, remove your regular e-mail address from your Apple ID profile.

Weekly output: pay-TV predictions, T-Mobile’s work-from-home bundle

I try to space out the posts here so the blog doesn’t go too many days without an update. Since I write these weekly-output posts on Sundays, in an ideal blogging universe I’d publish each week’s other, less self-promotional post around mid-week. In this imperfect and stressed world, however, I often wind up not getting that second post up until Saturday. And this week, the non-weekly-output post went up Sunday afternoon–because as I rushed to finish writing that ode to two good newsletters Saturday evening, I forgot that the Block Editor here has a confirmation dialog you need to click through before a post gets published.

3/2/2021: Analyst Report: The Pay-TV Bundle Looks Even More Doomed—And Streaming Won’t Save It, Forbes

I wrote up a MoffettNathanson report with grim predictions for pay-TV bundles.

Screenshot of story as seen in an Android phone's Chrome browser.3/5/2021: T-Mobile wants your employer to give you home-office wireless broadband, Fast Company

T-Mobile’s announcement of a new bundle of services for larger government and business customers to buy for their working-from-afar employees glossed over a lot of details. I failed to fill in the blanks about the speeds of the upcoming Home Office Internet 4G/5G service that leads off T-Mobile’s “WFX” offering, but I did manage to document how extensively this fixed-wireless connectivity can block services not obviously related to people’s work. As in, the list of sites cut off by default includes Netflix and Amazon and even T-Mobile’s own T-Vision streaming-TV app.

Weekly output: World Central Kitchen, Mint renewal, social media vs. Trump (2x), Struum

Last Sunday feels like two weeks ago, but an attempted coup at the Capitol by a violent mob will do that to a seven-day span of time. This afternoon, I biked over to Capitol Hill and saw a changed place, locked down inside fences decorated with the occasional flower.

1/5/2021: The tech that keeps World Central Kitchen cooking in times of disaster, Fast Company

This was one of the last pieces that I filed in 2020 (unless you count today as Dec. 41, 2020). I very much enjoyed a chance to tell a story of how hard-working professionals use technology to help other people eat.

1/6/2021: Here’s Intuit’s plan to get Mint back on track after years of neglect, Fast Company

When Intuit PR got in touch in early December offering a heads-up on these changes, I thought they would involve more at the start than a rewritten iPhone app, so this post reveals a certain amount of disappointment from my perspective as a Web-first Mint user. Note that the copy you see now differs slightly from what we posted Wednesday morning, reflecting a correction of one spelling of a product manager’s name as well as a few other changes to add context about some privacy issues. (I wrote more about this post’s backstory for Patreon subscribers.)

1/7/2021: Social-media platforms limit Trump, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on (overdubbed) to talk about Facebook and Twitter moving to quarantine President Trump’s accounts.

1/7/2021: This Startup Wants To Sell You Hipster A-La-Carte Streaming TV, Forbes

The Wall Street Journal got an exclusive on the launch of a new startup called Struum, but I was able to advance the story in one way: by clarifying how you pronounce that moniker. (“Stroom” or, if you prefer diacritical marks, “Strüm.”)

1/9/2021: Social media platforms banning Trump, Al Jazeera

AJ had me back on after Twitter permanently banned Trump. The two big points I made: Twitter and other social networks may need to reconsider “world leader” policies that give more leeway for incitements to hate or violence to people with the biggest followings, and Trump can get a massive audience anytime during his last days in office by walking over to the White House Press Briefing Room.

Weekly output: 2021 pay-TV trends, 2020 in review, Comcast drops Norton security bundle

Today is Jan. 3, 2021, but I can’t blame you if it may feel more like Dec. 34, 2020.

12/30/2020: Four Pay-TV Plot Twists To Watch In 2021—And For Pay TV To Hate, Forbes

My last Forbes post for 2020 looked at possible future developments in both traditional and streaming pay TV, most of which are bad.

12/31/2020: SmartTechCheck Podcast (12-31-20), Mark Vena

I joined the podcast of this Moor Insights & Strategy analyst with my fellow tech journalists John Quain and Stewart Wolpin to discuss what pandemic-wracked 2020 taught us about the state of tech. Early on, we pointed to the ability of video calling to replace some face-to-face meetings–and then we kept running into video or audio glitches.

1/3/2021: As Comcast drops one computer security plan, what – if anything – should you replace it with?, USA Today

This column started with an e-mail from a reader asking what he should do about Comcast ending its free bundle of Norton anti-malware apps. I’d seen the advice of my Wirecutter colleagues that paying for anti-virus software is no longer a good idea, but I turned to my friend Sean Gallagher–who edited a little of my earlier writing at Ars Technica and now works as a threat researcher for the security firm Sophos–for added context. The result: a column about a Comcast policy change that can’t really fault everybody’s favorite cable giant for taking something away from subscribers, because it wasn’t doing them that much of a favor in the first place.

Weekly output: Hulu’s rate hike, Trump vs. social media

Like (I hope) many of you, we bagged our plans for Thanksgiving travel. The pandemic metrics around here keep going up, while escalating demand for coronavirus tests is making getting a result back in a timely manner a dicey proposition; seeing these and other metrics looking worse than they did in summer, when we had opted not to visit relatives, left no other sound choice.

11/17/2020: Hulu Hikes Its Rates Yet Again As TV Pricing Pain Rolls On, Forbes

Hulu hiking the monthly cost of its live TV service to $65 left me asking when TV viewers will be able to get off this treadmill of rate increases. The answer seems to be “only if they have good local TV reception and aren’t that invested in sports.”

11/17/2020: Trump’s battle with social media, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on talk about our soon-to-be ex-president’s latest round of whining about the unfairness of social-media platforms.