Weekly output: Apple silicon, undermining Facebook’s business model (x2), remote teamwork, cybersecurity and privacy (x2), banning strong encryption, Google paying news sites, Washington Apple Pi

I only had a four-day work week, but Tuesday was no day off for me: I worked my second primary election in Arlington. Turnout was exponentially lower than what I saw in March, between this primary being limited to Republican candidates for Senate and the novel-coronavirus pandemic pushing people to vote by mail, but I still appreciated the work and appreciated the voters who showed up.

Patreon subscribers got an (overdue) post from me in which I recap recent reader reports of bad behavior from Comcast, Google, Spectrum and Sprint.

6/23/2020: No Intel inside? What Apple’s change will mean for your Mac, USA Today

I contributed to USAT’s coverage of Apple’s upcoming switch from Intel to ARM-based processors by quizzing a few Mac software developers about how they thought the transition would play out.

6/23/2020: Giving Facebook less data is a good idea. Even better: Just use it less, Fast Company

I filed this story a week or so earlier, but the delay allowed events to catch up to my topic of undermining Facebook’s business model, in the form of the first big-name advertisers saying they’d pull their ads off Facebook properties in July.

6/23/2020: Is it possible to unite a remote team?, Collision

My first panel at this conference that would have had me in Toronto this week before the pandemic forced its move to a virtual format focused, appropriately enough, on the challenges of remote teamwork. We–meaning myself, Aptum CEO Susan Bowen, Vidyard CEO Michael Litt, and Real Ventures managing partner Janet Bannister–recorded the discussion in advance, so my spending all of Tuesday working the election was not a problem.

6/24/2020: Building a paradigm of trust, Collision

My second pre-recorded Collision panel, this time about new challenges in cybersecurity, featured Akamai chief information officer Mani Sundaram, Sumo Logic chief security officer George Gerchow, and Honeywell chief digital technology officer Sheila Jordan.

6/24/2020: These Senators Want To Force Tech Firms To Give The Cops Keys To Our Encrypted Data, Forbes

I really thought a story about a bill that would ban end-to-end encryption across an enormous range of devices and apps–and that got introduced by its Republican sponsors just as Attorney General Bill Barr’s role as President Trump’s political commissar in the Justice Department became even more obvious–would get more readers. My venture into getting paid per click isn’t off to the best start.

6/25/2020: What is the role of the media in covering online security and privacy matters?, Collision

I hosted a roundtable discussion about press coverage of these issues that wound up not drawing many attendees, but I enjoyed the discussion anyway. Getting to talk about the issues you cover with knowledgeable people you hadn’t met before is one of the things I liked about going to conferences, and this part of Collision reminded me of that.

6/26/2020: Google Says It Will Pay News Sites For Their Work—But Not Yet Here, Forbes

My other post for Forbes this week covered a new initiative by Google to pay news publishers to reproduce their stories on some of its properties. I reported it out by checking in with the news types I’d quizzed for a feature last month about Google’s relationship with news publishers.

6/27/2020: Rob Pegoraro Zooms into the Pi, Washington Apple Pi

I talked to this Apple user group via Zoom instead of appearing in person as I did last June. That meant I couldn’t do my usual giveaway of trade-show swag, but not having to drive anywhere also meant I could mow the lawn before this virtual session.

6/27/2020: Advertisers boycotting Facebook, Al Jazeera

I talked about the growing number of advertisers choosing to pull their ads off of Facebook properties, in some cases off of social media entirely.

Weekly output: #DIV/0!

For the first time since two Augusts ago, I have no new bylines in a week. I did file one story, not yet posted, and get much of the reporting done for two others–after losing much of the first two days from having our schools closed after last weekend’s snowstorm–but it’s still annoying to have this post equate to a divide-by-zero error.

And that happened even though I worked for a good chunk of this weekend: I spent most of Saturday at the Shmoocon cybersecurity conference in D.C. I connected with people much better-informed than me, picked up some useful insights that I hope to turn into a post, caught up with an old friend, and enjoyed spotting the hilarious National Security Agency recruitment ad pictured at right. (No, I did not plug in my phone.)

Having this con take place at the Washington Hilton provided a bonus level of amusement. I’ve been at the venue Washingtonians call the Hinckley Hilton for many other events, but none had involved so many people with hair dyed interesting colors and on-message t-shirts (e.g,, “Crypto means cryptography”). That was an excellent change-up from this hotel’s usual overdressed look.

Weekly output: data transfer, Facebook vs. disinformation campaigns (x2), Bletchley Park, $1 trillion Apple

Tuesday morning, I head out for my first business travel since June. And I’m going to one of the last places any sane individual would choose in August: Las Vegas. After years of following it from afar, I’m going to the Black Hat security conference. I hope I don’t melt down in the 108-degree heat, and I hope I can escape Vegas Thursday night without my computer or phone getting hacked.

(Most Black Hat attendees stick around for DEF CON, the other big infosec event in Vegas that week, but I have other travel booked next week, plus I’m speaking about travel tech at the Frequent Traveler University conference in Arlington Saturday morning.)

7/31/2018: Want to move your online data? New service could simplify the transfer to a rival site, USA Today

I wrote about the Data Transfer Project, an initiative backed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter to let people not just download their data from Web services but transfer it directly to competing sites.

7/31/2018: Facebook battles fake accounts, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on via Skype to talk Facebook’s July 31 announcement that it had removed 32 fake accounts for behavior that looked a whole lot like the Russian meddling Facebook largely overlooked in 2016.

8/1/2018: Bletchley Park’s WWII lessons for today’s hackers, The Parallax

While I was in England seeing family last month, I spent an afternoon wandering around the exhibits at Bletchley Park, the estate north of London where Allied codebreakers helped speed the end of World War II by defeating Nazi Germany’s encryption schemes. The story of how they did that offers important lessons to debates about security today, so I wrote them up The Parallax–with added insights from a couple of experts in the field.

I posted a few extra pictures from my visit at Flickr. But don’t take my words or photos for it; if you’ve got some free time when visiting London, use some of it to walk around Alan Turing’s old workplace.

8/1/2018: Facebook battles fake accounts, Al Jazeera

I returned to AJ, this time live in studio, to talk again about the Facebook-versus-fake-accounts story but with more emphasis on how the social network’s moves are playing out on Wall Street and in public opinion.

8/2/2018: Apple worth $1 trillion, WTOP

I talked to the news station about Apple hitting $1 trillion in market capitalization, but somehow without saying the phrase “one trillion dollars” in a Dr. Evil accent.