Weekly output: mobile payments, FCC regulations, Apple and the FBI, flash drives to North Korea, smart cities, Apple at 40, fiber Internet hardware fees

I wrote three of the stories below before this week–in one case, months before this week–so don’t get the wrong idea about my personal productivity over the last six days.

Yahoo Tech mobile-payments post3/29/2016: Don’t take my money: Why mobile payments haven’t taken off — yet, Yahoo Tech

In what I can only call epic timing, I had to have one of my credit cards reissued only hours after I filed this last week. Some joker had somehow obtained the number and used it for an online transaction at a random Ukrainian merchant. That’s the scenario that mobile payments could have prevented–if the unknown merchant that lost my card’s digits had accepted NFC phone payments, which is nowhere near a sure thing.

3/29/2016: Shining the Spotlight on the FCC: How Rules Impact Consumers and Industries, American Action Forum

I moderated a debate about the Federal Communications Commission’s recent regulatory initiatives with AAF’s Will Rinehart, Public Knowledge’s Meredith Rose and Tech Knowledge’s Fred Campbell. Rose and the other two come at this topic from different perspectives, as you can see below, but we had a civil and entertaining exchange.

3/29/2016: Lessons from the Apple-FBI fight, Yahoo Tech

When I wrote this, it still seemed possible that the FBI might disclose the vulnerability it exploited to unlock the phone used by one of the San Bernardino murderers. That now seems exceedingly unlikely. My hunch is that the Feds have bought themselves a short-term advantage that’s likely to set them back in the long run.

3/30/2016: New use for old flash drives: Subverting the regime in North Korea, Yahoo Tech

This story came about because I set aside a couple of hours on my last day at SXSW to tour the show floor and therefore came across this fascinating demo. The idea of smuggling flash drive into the “Democratic” “People’s” “Republic” of Korea might seem a wildly optimistic exercise in slacktivism, but two experts on North Korea told me it’s worth doing.

3/31/2016: The Internet of Things Drives Smart Transportation Projects, StateTech

I filed this piece about interesting smart-city projects in Chicago and Washington quite some time ago, but the story got held up for various reasons until the appropriate “publish” button was finally clicked this week.

4/1/2016: Apple turns 40, Al Jazeera

The news network’s Arabic channel had me on (overdubbed in Arabic by a translator) to talk about Apple turning 40. I answered a question about the state of the company post-Steve Jobs by saying that its hardware looked as innovative as ever, but its services remain a mess.

4/3/2016: Hardware fees not just for cable Internet, USA Today

Your e-mails asking about cable-modem costs at U-verse (note: not a cable system) got me thinking, and then I realized that AT&T’s mandatory hardware fee for its fiber service makes most cable operators’ price structure look reasonable.

Updated 4/4, 8:26 a.m. to add Friday’s Al Jazeera interview.

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Attribution is accuracy

One of the less exciting but even less avoidable parts of my work as a journalist and a citizen of the Web is proper attribution. You can’t count on a tweet, a Facebook update or a blog post accurately identifying whoever first posted the fact, witticism, image or video in question; you have to keep clicking “via” and “source” links until you reach the headwaters of the story and can credit the author by name.

This is both good manners and part of telling the truth. Passing off somebody else’s work as your own is wrong, and passing off somebody else’s work as a third party’s isn’t much better–especially if that third party did a quick copy-and-paste job.

But everybody’s busy, especially in most newsrooms, and it’s easy to link to whoever brought something to your attention and leave it at that. I also often see sites reserve their attribution for a short, vague link that may not even be in the body of a story.

I had a reminder of this risk earlier this week. My review of the car2go service for Discovery featured a number I hadn’t seen before: the $578,000 this car-sharing service paid the District of Columbia to obtain free on-street parking for its Smart Fortwo vehicles.

(This did not require any great reporting. I only thought to inquire about that as I was finishing the post; after an amazingly efficient PR interaction, a program manager with D.C.’s Department of Transportation e-mailed the figure.)

John Hendel, who writes the TBDOnFoot blog for (what’s left of) the local-news site TBD, saw that and added more details about car2go’s deal with DDOT in a post that linked to mine. And then the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis wrote a summary of the situation that credited Hendel for digging up the $578k number. Oops.

Things ended fine–I e-mailed DeBonis about it, he updated the post more prominently than I would have, we’re all good. But now I’m worrying if I myself have forgotten to credit somebody for a good quote or interesting factoid in any recent posts. If that somebody is you, please let me know.