Weekly output: Disney CEO swap, streaming devices, adtech deal, Comcast freebies, robocall punishment, T-Mobile updates, World Cup ratings, Black Friday streaming deals, Musk touts Twitter growth

I had an exceedingly busy three days to start the week–as in, it was a good thing my flight Wednesday wasn’t until 3:15 in the afternoon–then managed to keep my hands off a keyboard for most of the rest of the week.

Patreon readers got a bonus post Wednesday afternoon about my struggles getting Verizon to document where it’s expanded its C-band 5G service this year.

11/21/2022: Disney CEO recycling sees Chapek go and Iger return, Fierce Video

The lede for this story about Disney replacing CEO Bob Chapek with his predecessor Bob Iger–“Meet the new Bob, same as the old Bob”–popped into my head almost immediately, and then I checked Twitter and saw that I was not alone in thinking of that turn of phrase.

11/21/2022: U.S. total of streaming video devices topped 1 billion last year, Fierce Video

Before you react in disbelief to that number, remember that the authors of the report I wrote up are counting not just TVs and streaming-media players but also phones and computers.

11/22/2022: Amagi buys data-aggregation vendor Streamwise, Fierce Video

My work filling in at this video-industry news site continued with this writeup of one infrastructure company buying another.

11/22/2022: Comcast offers a week of streaming freebies to video subscribers, Fierce Video

Subscribers to Comcast’s video services are getting some extra stuff to watch without paying extra.

11/23/2022: Robocall-Enabling Provider Gets the Digital Death Penalty From the FCC, PCMag

If you’re a telecom provider subject to the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations, you should probably not answer an FCC query about your non-compliance by writing back “We are not needing this certification.”

Screenshot of the story as it appeared in Safari for macOS.11/23/2022: T-Mobile execs open a door to mmWave FWA, Light Reading

I wrote up my conversation at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit with two T-Mobile network executives, during which I learned a few things about the carrier’s fixed-wireless-access efforts.

11/23/2022: U.S.-Wales World Cup match draws 11.7 million viewers, Fierce Video

After writing this post, I felt bad for not watching any of that match live–oh, wait, the video services I pay for don’t include Fox Sports.

11/23/2022: Black Friday deals at streaming vendors, retailers and services, Fierce Video

After looking up all of these discounts, I then made it through the weekend without buying any streaming-media gadgets. My only purchase that Friday happened at a grocery store.

11/27/2022: Elon Musk touts Twitter growth, Al Jazeera

I did a quick hit via Skype to talk about Musk’s claims of rising numbers for total users and engagement on Twitter, telling the audience (as translated live into Arabic) that if Musk though Twitter had a bot problem before he bought the company, Twitter almost certainly had a worse bot problem after Musk had fired far more than half of Twitter’s employees.

Weekly output: SLS explained, skepticism for Warner Bros. Discovery, wireless carrier cell-site location data retention, security-patch severity, Twitter opens Circle feature, Samsung’s 8K pitch at IFA, electronic eccentricities at IFA

This week’s trip to Berlin and back to cover the IFA trade show (reminder, with the event organizers covering most of my travel costs) finally allowed me to experience Berlin Brandenburg Airport as a passenger instead of as a zombie-airport tourist. I can’t say I miss Tegel Airport’s weird system of having separate security screenings at every gate.

Fast Company SLS explainer8/29/2022: NASA’s Space Launch System—whenever it comes—will mark the end of an era for U.S. spaceflight, Fast Company

This post needed a quick rewrite before posting to cover Monday’s scrub of the planned Artemis I launch of the SLS. After a second scrub Saturday, this headline remains current. And it appears that I have a renewed opportunity to see this giant rocket fly in person

8/29/2022: Bloomberg Intelligence raises flags about Warner Bros. Discovery, Fierce Video

I wrote this post during last week’s flurry of filling in at my trade-pub client, but it didn’t get published until Monday.

8/29/2022: Here’s How Long Your Wireless Carrier Holds on to Your Location Data, PCMag

I wrote this from a lounge at Dulles Airport before my departure for Berlin, but it helped that I’ve covered this topic before.

8/31/2022: Security patches for your iPhone come all the time. But should you be told which are important?, USA Today

This isn’t the first time a column for USAT started with a tech-support query from a relative.

9/1/2022: Twitter opens Circle to all users, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel asked if I could cover Twitter’s introduction of this new audience-selection tool. It’s an interesting topic (in part because Twitter has basically reinvented the Circles feature of Google+), but doing this TV hit from IFA required me to find a quiet spot with bandwidth. I found that spot in the landscaped Sommergarten in the middle of the Berlin Messe.

9/2/2022: Samsung Shows Off a Video Unicorn at IFA: A TV Series in 8K, PCMag

The dismal 8K sales stats I reference in the closing paragraphs are really something, and I’m saying that as a longtime skeptic of the 8K value proposition.

9/3/2022: Ovens with eyes, a chameleon of a fridge, and other electronic eccentricities at IFA, Fierce Electronics

I wrote this recap of IFA oddities–a staple of my coverage of the show over the last 10 years–for this sibling publication of Fierce Video.

Weekly output: Starlink, spectrum coordination, flight delays (x2), T-Mobile and Verizon 5G home broadband, Mark Vena podcast

About one year later than I’d planned, I’m flying to Las Vegas Tuesday to cover the Black Hat information-security conference. Two big factors in my deciding to go ahead with that trip this year: My kid is now vaccinated and boosted, while I had Covid barely seven weeks ago.

8/2/2022: SpaceX’s Starlink has soared, but a course correction may be on the horizon, Fast Company

More weeks ago than I’d like to admit, one of my editors asked if I could do a more in-depth look at the progress of SpaceX’s Starlink low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation. A day after this piece ran, Reddit’s ever-informative r/starlink served up new evidence of capacity issues at this service: a new rate plan in France that cuts the monthly rate in half but imposes a 250 GB threshold for possible speed deprioritization.

8/2/2022: 2 Key Federal Telecom Agencies Promise to Play Nice With Wireless Spectrum, PCMag

Two federal offices about two miles apart in D.C. pledged to work better together in spectrum planning. That might seem like an obvious thing to do, but the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last updated this memorandum of understanding in 2003.

Story as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 5a phone, showing its lead illustration: a photo of people waiting on line at an airport.8/3/2022: Don’t Get Stranded: How to Watch for Flight Delays and Get Around Them, PCMag

A discussion on PCMag’s Slack workspace about coping with travel hiccups led to me asking if I could write this story, and not just because I’d like to recoup my added travel costs from my unplanned extra night in Toronto in June.

8/3/2022: How Verizon ‘fixed wireless’ and T-Mobile home broadband is converting cable customers, USA Today

After a reality-check interview with an analyst who reminded me that fiber scales so much better to meet demand than fixed wireless can, this column on the progress of T-Mobile and Verizon’s 5G-based home broadband got a bit less enthusiastic about its potential.

8/4/2022: S02 E32 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

My main contribution to this discussion was talking about my Starlink story, but if you watch the video of the podcast you can also see me scowl at a Lightning cable.

8/5/2022: DOT Moves to Strengthen Rules on Refunds for Flight Changes, Cancellations, PCMag

Speaking of travel delays, I returned to the subject to cover a set of proposed Department of Transportation rules that would clarify what counts as a significant schedule change and a cancelled flight–and require either non-expiring trip credits or straight-up refunds for travel canceled because of a future pandemic.

Weekly output: EU Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts, bringing blockchain technology to land titles, Mark Vena podcast, FCC goes after auto-warranty robocall enablers, Elon Musk tries to back out of buying Twitter

I much enjoyed not going any farther than a neighborhood friend’s house for the Fourth of July; if you traveled further for the holiday, I hope the trip did not involve any unwanted bonus airport time.

7/5/2022: Sweeping EU Bills May Require Major Changes at US Tech Firms, PCMag

Writing this post took longer than I expected because digesting the text of the European Union’s Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act took longer than I expected.

Screengrab of the story as seen in the Brave browser for Windows7/6/2022: This Virginia county is trying to use blockchain-like tech to store land titles, Fast Company

I started working on this story months ago–after learning about Wise County’s project from a story by Cardinal News, a local non-profit covering southwest Virginia–but didn’t get all the quotes I needed until hearing one expert talk at Collision and meeting another at that conference in Toronto a few weeks ago.

7/7/2022: S02 E28 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I joined my usual podcast partners for the first time in a few weeks to discuss TikTok privacy concerns, Netflix’s recent headwinds, and more. If you watch the video version of the podcast, you can see me sporting a Washington Apple Pi shirt.

7/8/2022: FCC Goes After Voice Providers Enabling 8 Billion Auto-Warranty Robocalls, PCMag

Just like you, the members of Federal Communications Commission are sick of people trying to reach them concerning their cars’ extended warranties.

7/9/2022: Elon Musk tries to back out of buying Twitter, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on in overdubbed form to talk about the billionaire’s belated buyer’s remorse.

Weekly output: Google shopping-search lawsuit, broadband competition in apartments, Fox earnings, DELETE Act, Mark Vena podcast

Yet another Super Bowl has ended without Washington’s woeful NFL franchise having any involvement in the game–which is fine, really, because D.C. sports fans will always have 2018 and 2019.

(In addition to the work below, I wrote a post for Patreon subscribers breaking down potential savings on tax-prep apps available through some credit cards.)

2/7/2022: Swedish Price-Finding Site Sues Google for $2.4B Over Alleged Market Abuse, PCMag

When I write about lawsuits, I usually insist on linking to a PDF of the complaint so that readers can make their own judgment about that source text. But here the plaintiffs said they couldn’t provide that.

Screenshot of the story as seen in Safari on an iPad2/8/2022: FCC Chair Plugs Plan to Open Apartment, Condo Buildings to Broadband Competition, PCMag

My first workday spent entirely in D.C. in almost two years (courtesy of the telecom-industry group Incompas hosting their policy summit downtown instead of online) allowed me to write up Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s speech backing a proposed set of rules to open up broadband choices for apartment and condominium dwellers.

2/9/2022: Sports betting boosts Fox revenue, busts Fox income, FierceVideo

I filled in at my video-industry-news client to cover Fox’s quarterly earnings. As some of the Super Bowl ads may have reminded you, the sports-betting industry is doing some huge favors for TV networks right now.

2/10/2022: With DELETE Act, Senators Want a ‘Do Not Call’ List for Data Brokers, PCMag

I wrote up a new bipartisan bill that would let Americans opt out of the collection and sale of their information by data brokers, a topic I covered at length for The Verge last year.

2/10/2022: S02 E06 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this industry analyst’s podcast after a few weeks off to discuss the FCC’s move to require Internet providers to provide broadband shoppers with a standardized, food-label-style list of just what sort of service they’ll get.

Weekly output: Verizon Tracfone purchase approved, spectrum-sharing progress, cloud-storage choices

This year’s Thanksgiving, unlike last year’s, did not warrant descriptions like “house arrest.” And now I will follow up that overdue family time by flying almost 5,000 miles away from my own for a tech event, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2021. I have clients awaiting coverage of this event (and who are fine with Qualcomm covering the airfare and lodging, another departure of sorts for me) and I’m sure I will learn a lot and appreciate connecting with other telecom nerds starting Monday afternoon in Hawaii. But… yeah, if this travel schedule leads you once again to question my life choices, I can only reply “fair.”

11/23/2021: FCC Greenlights Verizon’s Purchase of Tracfone, With Conditions, PCMag

The Federal Communications Commission seems confident that a set of temporary rules can ensure that the nation’s largest wireless carrier buying the nation’s largest wireless reseller will not lead to harm to customers.

11/24/2021: Spectrum-sharing task force chair: ‘It really doesn’t have to be a spectrum fight’, Light Reading

This post offered a welcome chance to get into the weeds about the finer points of freeing up wireless spectrum currently in use by some non-trivial military hardware.

11/27/2021: Apple, Google or Microsoft? How to match cloud storage to your computers – and cut costs, USA Today

Yes, you’ve read a version of this column before, down to its emphasis on picking an online backup service that pairs best with the hardware you’re most likely to take out of the house. But unlike the 2018 release, this one incorporates some money-saving tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years–like checking to see if credit cards have cash-back offers on one company’s cloud storage, or if you can buy a gift card good for that storage at a discount from a third-party retailer.

Weekly output: Biden FCC nominations, Google opt-out for images of kids, Mark Vena podcast, Facebook Papers, Nielsen accreditation, Facebook renames itself Meta, Congress votes to veto Huawei and ZTE, Internet Archive

LISBON–After only experiencing the Web Summit through various screens last year, I returned to that conference’s host city this morning. I have four panels to moderate this week, which don’t seem like that much of a challenge after all the copy I filed this week.

PCMag FCC-noms post10/26/2021: Biden Nominates Rosenworcel as FCC Chair, PCMag

I really didn’t think I’d have to wait until almost November to write about President Biden picking a full-time chair of the Federal Communications Commission and filling the seat that’s been left open since January. Neither nomination–acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel to become permanent chair, former FCC advisor Gigi Sohn to take the vacant seat–is a surprise, so I’m still wondering what took the White House so long. 

10/27/2021: Google Adds Option to Wipe Images of Kids From Search Results, PCMag

Writing this allowed me to revisit the “right to be forgotten” debate and how Google users where I’m writing this have far more rights to have certain results hidden from queries than Google’s U.S. users do.

10/27/2021: S01 E15 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s podcast had us talking up the FCC nominations as well as Facebook’s reliance on algorithms and Samsung moving to support the Matter smart-home standard. The video version suggests I should invest in some smart window blinds; I had mine closed to avoid bright sunlight oversaturating my home office, but halfway through the recording clouds rolled in, leaving me in the dark.  

10/27/2021: The Facebook Papers revelations, WWL

I talked to this New Orleans station (the folks there had me on in May to discuss streaming TV) about all of the bad news about Facebook we’ve gotten this week. 

10/28/2021: Nielsen on regaining accreditation: stay tuned, FierceVideo

I filled in at my trade-pub client to cover Nielsen’s earnings call, on which executives for the audience-measurement firm gave… measured answers to questions about how they would regain accreditation for their TV ratings service from an industry group.

10/28/2021: Facebook renames itself to Meta, Al Jazeera

Speaking of Facebook news, the news channel quizzed me about my take on Facebook renaming itself to Meta and recasting itself as a metaverse-first developer. I hope my skepticism came across fully in overdubbed Arabic.

10/29/2021: In Rare Bipartisan Move, Congress Votes to Crack Down on Huawei, ZTE, PCMag

It’s nice to know that even in these hyper-partisan times, Democrats and Republicans can still agree on some things–like their profound distrust of these large Chinese telecom firms.

10/29/2021:  In case you missed it: The Internet Archive turns 25, USA Today

This was a neat column to write–both because I learned some new things about how to use the Archive’s Wayback Machine, and because it let me remind readers of the time I wrote up my visit to the Archive’s offices in San Francisco for the Washington Post and then had Archive founder Brewster Kahle show up in that story’s comments. That 2010 piece, appropriately enough, now seems readable only via the Archive.

Weekly output: wireless plans, cities meet 5G, GM + Honda, Twitter business models, Hack the Capitol, smartphone biometric locks, Tech Night Owl

This week saw a couple of long-running projects finally go online. It also saw a tweet I sent during a combative onstage appearance by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) at the Atlantic Festival go slightly viral, as in 1,651 retweets and 2,843 likes. That one tweet doesn’t fairly capture Graham’s discussion–that’s why I posted it as part of a thread that wound up spanning 11 updates–but I fear most of the 185,556 impressions for the tweet in question did not result in my new readers sticking around to read the rest of that thread. Once again, Twitter is where context goes to die; in other news, water is wet.

10/1/2018: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

We posted yet another update to the guide to reflect the addition of tiered “unlimited”-data plans at all four carriers and tried to streamline the text a bit. And by the end of this work, we realized we would need to update the guide yet again in a few months, should changes we’re seeing in usage levels continue showing up in third-party studies.

10/2/2018: Why 5G Internet Is a Policy Minefield for Cities, CityLab

When I started interviewing people for this story, 5G wireless deployment was months away, but now it’s a commercial reality in four U.S. cities. Appropriately enough, I wrapped up work on this piece for this subsidiary of The Atlantic’s parent firm while attending that magazine’s conference in Washington.

10/3/2018: GM’s self-driving-car project will have Honda riding shotgun, Yahoo Finance

This writeup of GM’s Cruise Automation’s deal with Honda to co-develop its second self-driving electric car benefited from a quick interview with Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt I did right after their press call Wednesday morning.

10/3/2018: Twitter business models, Al Jazeera

The Arabic news channel had me to discuss this subject, inspired by the “We can’t believe this website is free” joke tweeted by Twitter’s own Twitter account. Right before I went on the air, I though to ask the interpreter if there was an Arabic term for “freemium”; he told me there was not, so we agreed that I would take a minute to describe that concept so he could translate it correctly.

10/4/2018: Hack the Capitol event reminds lawmakers that IoT security needs help, The Parallax

I wrote about this brief conference in D.C. about the security of industrial control systems from the week before in the light of… wait for it… Congress not acting on a vital tech-policy issue.

10/5/2018: Unlock your phone with your face or fingerprint? Here’s how to shut that off – quickly, USA Today

This how-to walks readers through quickly disabling the facial- or fingerprint-recognition unlock features in iOS and Android. A reader wrote to me afterwards to ask why I didn’t mention just restarting the phone, which will also disable those biometric unlocks; that would not be as quick to do, but I should have included that anyway.

10/6/2018: October 6, 2018 — Rob Pegoraro and Bryan Chaffin, Tech Night Owl

I talked with host Gene Steinberg about the puzzling mismatch between Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s story alleging a long-running Chinese campaign to hide spy chips on server circuit boards with increasingly direct denials by Apple, Amazon and others. There’s also some banter about transit in our roughly hour-long discussion.

Weekly output: headphone jack, 5G wireless, unlocked smartphones, broadband maps, wireless plans, MWC’s weirdest gadgets, Twitter spam

I had a terrific but exhausting week in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress and looked forward to a relaxing weekend at home–until Friday’s windstorm toppled the tree in our front yard and deprived our home of power until Sunday afternoon. As a result, most of the pictures in my Flickr MWC album haven’t seen any editing yet. And they may not until next week, since I have another short week: Friday, I head out of town again as SXSW brings me to Austin.

2/26/2018: The headphone jack isn’t dead yet, Yahoo Finance

I revisited a theme of last year’s MWC coverage to note that most phone vendors are not following Apple and Google’s foolish removal of the headphone jack. But with Sony, Huawei and Nokia introducing at least some models without that old but perfectly functional audio output, I’m not feeling too confident about the industry’s direction.

2/28/2018: How 5G wireless will soon supercharge the internet, Yahoo Finance

After years of hype about 5G, the next wireless standard is starting to look less vaporous–and some key industry figures are dialing back that hype.

2/28/2018: Don’t buy these smartphones through your carrier, Yahoo Finance

I’ve been arguing for years that you shouldn’t buy your phone from your wireless carrier, but at MWC three of the big four made that point for me by pricing the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus at least $70 over what you’d pay–with interest-free installment payments available–at Samsung’s own site.

CityLab broadband-map post2/28/2018: The Problem With America’s New National Broadband Map, CityLab

The Federal Communications Commission relaunched its broadband map, but the much better-looking version suffers from the same information gaps as ever. So does a privately-run site that draws on the same FCC filings as the map.

2/28/2018: The best cell phone plans, Wirecutter

I updated this guide to reflect more generous plans at many prepaid and resold services. But within a day of the revised guide’s publication, AT&T reworked its pricing for unlimited data, so we’ll have to update the guide yet again to account for that.

3/2/2018: The 6 strangest gadgets from Mobile World Congress 2018, Yahoo Finance

I had fun writing this look at the weirder hardware I saw at MWC–the last piece I filed from the show, shortly before they shut down the press room Wednesday night.

3/3/2018: Twitter spam, Al Jazeera

The news network’s Arabic-language channel had me on (overdubbed live into Arabic) to talk about an outbreak of Twitter spam in Saudi Arabia. The point I made: Going back to Usenet, every popular social platform has inevitably been abused by spammers and con artists.

Weekly output: net neutrality (x2), 2018 security risks, bargaining for a better TV or Internet bill

One of the ways that self-employment has taught me to see the calendar differently: Once you put November in the books, you’ve pretty much put your yearly income in the books too unless you can sell something early in December to a client that pays unusually fast. (See also, a client worth keeping around.)

USAT net-neutrality transparency post11/28/2017: After net neutrality: Up to you to police the ISPs, USA Today

My contribution to USAT’s coverage of Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai’s move to repeal all of 2015’s net-neutrality rules was to unpack the disclosure requirements he would impose on Internet providers. One big catch: An ISP wouldn’t have to post on its own site that it blocks or slows certain sites or charges others for priority delivery of their bits.

11/28/2017: Why the FCC chair says social networks are the real threat to the free internet, Yahoo Finance

Pai gave a speech Tuesday that included some reasonable arguments against the current, proscriptive net-neutrality rules–and then pivoted to the deeply dubious contention that we should really worry about Twitter and other social networks being mean to conservatives.

11/29/2017: How hackers might target you in 2018, Yahoo Finance

I wrote up McAfee Labs’ cybersecurity forecast for next year–which identified the companies selling connected gadgets for your home as a major part of your privacy and security risks.

12/3/2017: Check your cable or Internet bill: After the first year discounts, it’s time to bargain, USA Today

Three weeks ago in San Francisco, I sat down with my USAT editor for the first time after two-plus years of her handling my column to brainstorm tech-support columns that might resonate over the holidays, and this was among them. Conveniently enough, my Thanksgiving tech support a week ago allowed me to inspect my mom’s Fios bill to see how Verizon breaks down its promotional discounts and what you’ll owe after their expiration.