Weekly output: Wing drone deliveries around Dallas, Project Kuiper launch contracts, Peacock MLB deal, Mark Vena podcast

This week allowed me to dust off (literally!) the suit that I think I last wore in April of 2019, thanks to the Consumer Technology Association’s Digital Patriots dinner. The event was great, but I did realize that I’d forgotten how that kind of outfit adds two more pockets in which you can forget where you stashed your glasses.

Screenshot of story as seen on an iPad, illustrated with a Wing-supplied photo of one of its drones above Dallas suburbs4/4/2022: Drone Deliveries From Alphabet’s Wing to Take Flight Around Dallas, PCMag

I covered this announcement about the start of drone deliveries for some residents of some Dallas suburbs.

4/5/2022: Amazon’s Project Kuiper Tips Massive Satellite Launch Deal, PCMag

Writing about this enormous launch contract allowed me to use some quotes from the notes I took at the Satellite 2022 show in D.C. last month.

4/7/2022: Peacock Gets Exclusive Lineup of 18 Sunday Morning Baseball Games, PCMag

Baseball fans may need to sign up for yet another streaming service to see their team’s games–or, as I noted in this post, they can “watch” a game on the radio.

4/9/2022: S02 E15 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

Baseball streaming video figured heavily in this week’s episode of the podcast, which is itself available in video form.

Weekly output: space tourism, Netflix sharing, FedEx drone delivery, trans-Atlantic data privacy, App Store attacks (x2), new ISP deals excluding old customers, DoD cybersecurity rules of engagement

My published work this week includes one story about people in space and another about robots in the sky.

Story as seen in Safari on an iPad mini and showing its illustration, a close-up of the Inspiration4 badge on a SpaceX space suit3/28/2022: Will SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Virgin Galactic ever be affordable?, Fast Company

Covering the Satellite 2022 trade show in D.C. two weeks ago both allowed me to interview somebody who’s experienced suborbital space flight and write this post about the prospects of more people being able to have that experience–if they can write a sufficiently large check.

3/29/2022: Using Someone Else’s Netflix Account? You’re Not Alone, PCMag

I wrote up a survey that found that 15 percent of Netflix viewers watch for free on somebody else’s subscription.

3/30/2022: FedEx Teases Texas Drone-Delivery Demo, PCMag

The embargoed copy of this announcement specified a flight test around Dallas, but the final copy of the release left out that geographic detail.

3/30/2022: The new trans-Atlantic data agreement puts E.U. priorities first, Fast Company

This explainer went farther into the policy weeds than I’ve gone in a while.

3/30/2022: Dutch Class-Action Seeks Almost $5.6B From Apple for App Store Overcharges, PCMag

The first of two posts about Apple’s App Store control covered a pending class-action lawsuit in the Netherlands–where Apple is asking for trouble with insultingly greedy responses to regulators’ demands that it let dating apps opt out of Apple’s in-app billing and its cut of 15 or 30 percent.

3/31/2022: Apple Finally Lets ‘Reader’ Apps Link Out to Sign-Up Pages, PCMag

The second post covered an overdue and still inadequate App Store liberalization move by Apple. Yes, I enjoyed the chance to throw in a comparison to 1995-vintage AOL.

4/1/2022: New deals for existing customers? AT&T, Charter and Spectrum make getting better rates hard., USA Today

This column originally ran with a headline that named Comcast; although large and seemingly unfeeling telecom conglomerates can start to look alike, that cable company did not figure in my story.

4/2/2022: Biden Admin May Roll Back Trump Policy on Military Cyber-Offensive Operations, PCMag

Writing this got me up to speed with an episode of questionable executive-branch conduct under the previous administration that I’d missed.

Weekly output: local ISPs, augmented reality, Toronto and Lisbon’s mayors, TVision, Senate Commerce vs. tech CEOs

I’m looking at a four-day workweek at my day job–plus a 16-hour day Tuesday as a poll worker for Arlington. Wish me luck! More important, wish all of us luck.

10/26/2020: Local Internet Service Providers, U.S. News & World Report

I wrote guides to the major choices for Internet access (using data from BroadbandNow) in 10 markets: Fairbanks, Alaska; Chandler, Ariz.; Colorado Springs and Denver, Colo.; Chicago, Ill.; Cary and Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Dallas and El Paso, Tex. (The first of these got posted back on Oct. 16, but the last two didn’t land until Tuesday, and it’s simpler to cover them in one entry.) Putting this together enlightened me beyond expectations about the state of broadband across the U.S.; for instance, I hadn’t realized how strict data caps could get until seeing what Alaska’s dominant cable provider inflicts on its customers.

10/26/2020: AR is finally infiltrating everyday tasks such as Google search, Fast Company

Writing this post on the state of augmented-reality interfaces allowed me to revisit a topic I’d covered for the Washington Post almost 11 years ago. It’s too bad Yelp scrapped the Monocle AR interface I wrote about then.

10/27/2020: Panel: Leading the city of the future, City Summit

This Web Summit side event had me interview Lisbon mayor Fernando Medina and Toronto mayor John Tory about how their cities–hosts of the Web Summit and Collision conferences, also places I sorely miss visiting this year–have responded to the novel-coronavirus pandemic.

10/27/2020: T-Mobile Launches TVision To Help You Fire Cable (Or Satellite) TV, Forbes

I walked readers through T-Mobile’s entry into streaming TV, which offers some surprisingly aggressive pricing but also requires some compromises in its channel selections that may prove non-trivial obstacles.

10/29/2020: The Best And Worst Moments In The Senate’s Grilling Of Social-Media CEOs, Forbes

The Senate Commerce Committee’s interrogation of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey featured many cringe-inducing if not disgraceful sound bites, but it also afforded some non-garbage-fire moments. I particularly enjoyed writing the last sentence, even if it cost me some time poking around Federal Election Commission filings.

A hell of a way to follow up on America’s birthday

On Monday, the United States of America celebrated its 240th birthday. Things have gone pretty much downhill for us since.

American flag over Mississippi RiverTuesday, police officers in Baton Rouge shot and killed Alton Sterling outside a convenience store as bystanders Abdullah Muflahi and Arthur Reed recorded it on video.

On Wednesday, St. Anthony, Minn., police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile in the car also occupied by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and his four-year-old daughter. Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook Live.

I knew I couldn’t unsee those videos but watched them anyway. They can’t tell the whole story, but they all looked way too much like extrajudicial executions of fellow Americans who happened to be of African descent. I have grown to accept that African-Americans have sound reasons to be nervous about getting stopped by police, even as I have never worried about anything more than getting points on my car insurance.

That’s unsettling. So is the thought that the excessive use of force by a minority of police officers vastly predates the existence of technology to publicize it, the efforts of news organizations like the Washington Post to track it, and the rise of protests by people trying to make a point that shouldn’t be that debatable: Black lives matter.

Thursday night, another person decided the answer was to take an AR-15 rifle to the scene of a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas and murder as many cops as possible. This African-American–I refuse to use his name–killed officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa and injured seven others along with two civilians before the Dallas Police Department sent in a robot with a bomb (welcome to the future?) to kill him.

How could we as a country top the killings of two people almost live on camera? That was how.

None of those stories represent the nation I want to live in. Cops keep us safe–I sleep well knowing I’m not even a mile from Arlington’s police headquarters–but the rule of law is a good idea for them too. Don’t like how they do their jobs? Vote, every damn time, for leaders who will change that. Picking up a rock, a knife or a gun against people who volunteered to protect us makes you an enemy of civilization.

At least this rotten week brought two other things that do embody the United States I know. One was the sight of our daughter happily playing with day-camp classmates whose complexions cover most of the colors on the American quilt. The other came Friday, when the fifth anniversary of the final space shuttle launch reminded me that, as Anil Dash wrote, “We can do amazing things! I know because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” Yes, we still can.