Weekly output: Japanese startups, Paula Abdul’s audio glasses, FTC moves to ban non-competes, “dabloons”

My CES travel concluded Sunday morning, but my CES coverage has a few more days to run as I continue to work on pieces from that event. And try to catch up on all the sleep I lost, especially during my red-eye flight home Saturday night.

The CES 2023 app's page describing the LaunchIT pitch competition.1/3/2023: Launch.IT, CES

With Larry Harrell and Connie Koch Harrell of Keiretsu Forum, I helped judge this pitch competition for Japanese startups exhibiting at CES–sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization and produced by the ShowStoppers tech-events firm, with whom I’ve worked before.

1/5/2023: Paula Abdul Talks Up Her ‘Smart Audio Glasses’ at CES, PCMag

This was not a piece that I had on my list of CES possibilities, but it’s also not the first time meeting a celebrity with a tech venture at the show has led to a story.

1/6/2023: FTC Proposes Rule Banning ‘Non-Compete’ Clauses, PCMag

The possibility of the Federal Trade Commission taking action against non-competition clauses, meanwhile, has been on my list of potential tech-policy developments for a few years now. And as you can see from a link towards the end of this post, I’ve been following this topic for most of the last decade.

1/6/2023: TikTok “Dabloons,” Al Jazeera

I am not entirely sure what led the Arabic-language news nework to decide that I was the guy to offer commentary on this goofy online role-playing exercise.

My no-longer-secret Bitcoin shame

Bitcoin has infested tech news lately–the cryptocurrency’s unlikely rise in value, its subsequent and unsurprising fall in value, what complete tools Bitcoin zealots can be in front of a reporter, and so on and on. I’ve watched all of this as an unwitting spectator.

Yes, I’m one of those doofuses who forgot a password to a Bitcoin wallet. At least I have a half-decent excuse: CES.

I didn’t go to the gadget show in 2014 planning on investing in Bitcoin, but one of the first events I attended featured a diverse contingent of BTC startups, one of which had a dollars-to-Bitcoin ATM. How could I not gamble a few bucks to earn an anecdote to throw into a Bitcoin explainer?

I put a $5 bill into this thing and followed an exhibitor’s advice to install the Mycelium wallet app on my phone, scan a QR code off the ATM’s screen, and set a 15-character passcode to protect my stash of .00513 BTC.

Guess what I forgot to do as I headed to my next CES appointment?

I then mostly ignored the app, except for the occasional check to see how my investment had decayed. That habit faded, and when I tried resetting my phone the next fall to fix some touchscreen bugginess, I didn’t even think about the risk of losing access to my tiny Bitcoin hoard.

By which I mean, I didn’t even think to open Mycelium until several months after that unsuccessful phone-troubleshooting exercise. Then I realized that I could no longer remember the 15 characters I’d typed on my phone’s screen two years earlier, without which I could not restore the backup I had made right after my ATM transaction.

That’s where things have remained, even as Bitcoin’s value has soared and then plummeted. It’s annoying, but at least I have two things going for me: The app won’t lock me out as I keep guessing the passcode incorrectly, and at the current exchange rate I’m only out $57 or so. I’ve done much worse gambling in Vegas.