Weekly output: OpenAI-enhanced customer support, fixed-wireless upgrades, MLS Season Pass, app-store competition report, FCC broadband map, Matter, Next Level Networks, Twitter offer to creators

I blew off work Friday to do something I hadn’t done in four years: go downhill skiing. Slope conditions were not awesome and I had snow guns blowing in my face most of the time, but it still easily beat spending those hours in a warm, dry home office.

1/31/2023: Can OpenAI Tools Help Customer Service Reps Sound More Human?, PCMag

The PR folks for Intercom gave me an advance on their news about adding GPT-based writing assistance to their widely-used customer-support platform.

1/31/2023: How MU-MIMO could change the FWA game for T-Mobile and Verizon, Light Reading

My editor at this trade pub asked me to summarize a rather technical report from Signals Research Group that found signs of a significant capacity upgrade in progress at T-Mobile–which that carrier had not talked up before but confirmed when I asked about it.

2/1/2023: Apple Invites Soccer Fans to Sign Up for MLS Season Pass, PCMag

After writing last summer about Apple signing this deal with Major League Soccer, I had to follow up with the pricing details Apple announced Wednesday.

2/2/2023: Feds Slam Apple, Google for Abusing App-Store Power (But Mostly Apple), PCMag

The lengthy report the National Telecommunications and Information Administration posted on Wednesday didn’t break any major news about the ways Apple and Google have run their mobile app stores, but its recommended remedies were still interesting.

Screenshot of story as seen in USAT's iPad app2/3/2023: Is broadband available near you? This updated FCC map can tell you. Maybe., USA Today

I’d had this topic on my to-do list for a while, and then Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel offered an update on the FCC’s connectivity-cartography efforts at an event Tuesday.

2/3/2023: With Matter, Apple HomePod 2 speaker aims to connect to devices no matter who makes them, USA Today

USAT publishing this post (a week and change after I filed it) wraps up my CES 2023 coverage.

2/3/2023: This startup aims to green broadband deserts with an old-school idea: Get customers to pay for the network up front, Fast Company

I first read about Next Level Networks from Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin, then learned that this Bay Area startup was building a fiber network at a development in Sonoma County, Calif.–not far from where I was already spending the holidays with my wife’s family.

2/3/2023: Twitter offers ad revenue share to creators, Al Jazeera

I was able to jump on Skype to offer a value judgment about Elon Musk’s insultingly vague promise of a share of advertising revenue to undefined “creators” who also pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue because I got back from skiing maybe 25 minutes before scheduled airtime.

Weekly output: Google location-privacy lawsuit, Mozilla privacy-minded gift guide, Artemis I launch, Astranis, Mark Vena podcast, Qualcomm “Always-Sensing Camera,” FCC broadband moves

My trip to Hawaii this week was less enjoyable than the phrase “my trip to Hawaii” (and event host Qualcomm covering airfare and lodging expenses) would suggest, thanks to my laptop suffering a screen and maybe motherboard-level malfunction that left it unusable from Wednesday on.

11/15/2022: Google to Pay Almost $392M to Settle 40-State Lawsuit Over Location Tracking, PCMag

I wrote this from my hotel room during the lightly-scheduled first day of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit.

11/16/2022: If You Care About Your Privacy, Don’t Buy These Tech Gifts, PCMag

I got an advance copy of Mozilla’s announcement of this update to its Privacy Not Included gift guide, making it easy to write this as well in conference idle time.

Screenshot of story as seen in Chrome for an Android, illustrated with a NASA photograph of the Space Launch System liftoff.11/16/2022: NASA Successfully Launches Artemis I, PCMag

I assumed somebody else would cover the long-awaited debut of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, but seeing nobody claim that in my client’s Slack workspace led me to raise my hand–and then writing this from Hawaii made it easier to follow a post-launch press conference that started around 5 a.m. Eastern.

11/17/2022: Astranis’s MicroGEO is a high-flying new take on satellite broadband, Fast Company

I wrote about one of the companies spotlighted in Fast Company’s Next Big Things in Tech awards.

11/17/2022: S02 E40 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I joined this podcast by positioning my phone on a travel tripod parked atop a trash can atop a table on the balcony of my room. And then somebody had to fire up a circular saw on the ground floor of the hotel…

11/18/2022: How Qualcomm’s ‘Always-On Camera’ Became Its ‘Always-Sensing Camera’, PCMag

With my laptop inoperable, I wrote this on a Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Lenovo Thinkpad x13s that a company rep had handy. Writing this post in Chrome on a laptop with a processor architecture not supported in that Windows x86-only browser was a bit of an adventure, and now I want to do a longer-term test of a Snapdragon laptop–not just because my own laptop is on the fritz.

11/18/2022: FCC Publishes New Broadband Map, Votes to Require ISP ‘Nutrition Labels’, PCMag

I wound up writing this post in the Google Docs app on my phone, a dreadful experience that left me wanting to ice my thumb.

Weekly output: Joe Rogan apology, Pozio Cradle, C-Band 5G and air safety (x2), broadband and real estate, foreign-app risks, Amazon earnings, competitiveness bill

One of this week’s stories is not like the others.

1/31/2022: Joe Rogan Apologizes (Sort Of) for Hosting Guests Who Spout Pandemic Misinformation, PCMag

I did a quick writeup of the podcast host’s quasi-apology and had to think about the complete absence of any such contrition at other places with a history of providing a platform for anti-vaccine quacks–like Substack and Fox News.

2/2/2022: What a phone-jamming cradle says about our privacy fears, Fast Company

After seeing the Pozio Cradle’s ability to jam a smartphone’s microphone demoed at CES, I had to put this thing through my own tests.

2/2/2022: More C-band uncertainties show up in 5G’s radar, Light Reading

One surprise in reporting this story about what might come next in the inter-industry dispute over possible interference with radio altimeters from C-Band 5G: Nobody I talked to could point to any confirmed cases of such interference happening.

2/2/2022: Resolving C-Band 5G Mess Will Take at Least Another Year, FAA Says, PCMag

Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson’s two-hour appearance at a House hearing yielded one bit of news: He doesn’t think we’ll have standards for C-Band-resistant altimeters until early 2023.

Photo of the story as it appeared in the Post's print edition Saturday2/3/2022: Does the home you want to buy have good high-speed Internet? You may have to do some sleuthing to find out., The Washington Post

After years of writing about the problem of inadequate rural broadband for other outlets, I finally thought to pitch my old shop on a feature unpacking this situation and offering advice to home shoppers. I’m glad I did: The piece ran as the cover story in Saturday’s Real Estate section, a few days after being published on the Post’s site.

2/3/2022: Commerce Department’s foreign-apps study, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me to discuss a Commerce initiative focused on the risks posed by apps that could be subverted by foreign adversaries–by which I mean, the hosts mostly asked me about TikTok.

2/3/2022: A limited media message in Amazon Q4 earnings: be content with our content, FierceVideo

I filled in at my trade-pub video client to cover Amazon’s latest earnings, which reminded me of how much effort Amazon is putting into original video and how little time I’ve been able to devote to watching that output.

2/4/2022: House OKs Sprawling Competition Bill That Aims to Boost US Chip Manufacturing, PCMag

The House passed a Christmas tree of a tech-competitiveness bill months after the Senate voted by larger margins for a narrower competition bill; this post noted one problematic component of the House bill that isn’t in the Senate legislation.

Weekly output: FCC broadband map (still) considered harmful

This week was our kid’s spring break, so we had a lot of family time. I, in turn, had a little less laptop time than usual–which is another way of saying I’m starting this workweek slightly behind.

4/19/2019: Why it’s so hard for some Americans to get high-speed internet, Yahoo Finance

This piece started with a lengthy e-mail from a reader of a column I wrote for USA Today four years ago. As I do too often, I neglected that message from this resident of a broadband-deprived part of rural Michigan for a week before kicking off a slow-motion correspondence that revealed a fairly horrible failure of the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband map. The major fault here: The map relies on old and fuzzy data from providers that don’t always accurately report where they provide Internet access. Since this post ran, I’ve received another lengthy e-mail from a resident of rural northern California who’s been dealing with another broadband drought that doesn’t show up on the FCC map, and I can’t rule out writing a sequel.

Weekly output: digital privacy, smart-home privacy, NetNames piracy study, mobile privacy, privacy lessons, wireless broadband, broadband map

PORTLAND–I’ve wrapped up three educational, inspirational and sometimes deeply moving days at the XOXO conference here. I’ll have more to write about that later on.

9/17/2013: Digital Privacy, IDG Enterprise

This week’s Twitter chat focused on workplace privacy, which got us into some fundamental trust issues between employers and their employees.

PII 2013 home page

9/17/2013: Home Smart Home: Living with Connected Devices, Privacy Identity Innovation

I moderated a panel at this conference in Seattle about the privacy risks of webcams, connected appliances, and home-automation systems with SmartThings co-founder Jeff Hagins, Forbes writer Kashmir Hill, Life360 Chris Hulls, and Gartner research director Angela McIntyre. Despite the dreaded post-lunch time slot, I didn’t observe anybody in the audience nodding off. I’ll add a link to video of this if/when it’s available. 10/19/2013: Watch our discussion on PII’s site.

9/18/2013: NetNames Piracy Study Yields Same Lesson As Old: Legal Options Shrink Infringement’s Share, Disruptive Competition Project

I unpacked a study financed by NBC Universal that reported a growing problem with copyright infringement online–except the actual numbers in the full report did not quite make that case. This post may remind longtime readers of something I wrote for the Post two years ago.

9/18/2013: Developing Better Mobile Privacy Notices, Privacy Identity Innovation

My second PII panel featured Mark Blafkin, executive director of the Innovators Network; Justin Brookman, who directs the Center for Democracy and Technology’s consumer-privacy project; and Dona Fraser, vice president of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board’s Privacy Certified program. There is a certain art to managing an onstage discussion; this time, it seemed to go really well. I’m not quite sure how I was that “on,” but it felt great. 10/31/2013: Video is up, so I’ve changed the link accordingly.

9/20/2013: Ways to Pivot Privacy From Pain to Something That Might Pay, Disruptive Competition Project

I wrote up this recap of PII’s discussions and how they caused me to look at some issues I’ve covered many times before–for instance, privacy policies–from a slightly different perspective. The opportunity to learn continues to be a pleasure of this line of work.

9/22/2013: Cut the cord for home broadband? Not so fast, USA Today

A reader’s query about broadband options in Naples, Fla., gave me the chance to make some broader observations about the state of broadband access and competition in the United States–and to share a tip about a database and map of Internet-access options maintained by the Federal Communications Commission.

On Sulia, I shared my first impressions of iOS 7 after several frustrating hours of unsuccessful download attempts, was once again somewhat puzzled by Apple’s choice of which news outlets got early access to new iPhones, and posted a round of updates from XOXO: why Marco Arment is bullish on podcasts, a site that makes it rewarding for fans to support artists they like, Chris Anderson’s sales pitch for agricultural drones and more.

Update, 9/29: Added a link to the Twitter chat I forgot to include in my haste to get this written before I missed too much of XOXO’s closing party.