Weekly outpot: cheaper hearing aids, Mark Vena podcast, Google vs. Roku, Amazon satellites, FTC broadband-privacy report, blockchain domains

This afternoon featured the longest bike ride I’ve done in, I think, five years. Observations: It’s good to know that I’m not too old and busted to clock 35 miles and change, Reston Town Center has grown up and out a bit since 2016, and the nap you have after a longer ride followed by dinner you cooked yourself is the nap of the righteous.

10/20/2021: The Feds Are (Finally) About to Make Hearing Aids Cheaper, Easier to Buy, PCMag

I wrote up the overdue release of regulations to allow over-the-counter sales of hearing aids, using this piece to recount the long, strange trip this policy shift has taken through the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations.

10/20/2021: S01 E14 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s episode of my industry-analyst pal’s podcast (also on video) had me and fellow tech-journalist guests John Quain and Stewart Wolpin discussing Apple’s product-launch event Monday. We agreed that the $4.99/month Voice Plan for Apple Music was a weird bit of product segmentation, and that people who don’t edit video for a living can ignore Apple’s high-end MacBook Pro models.

Screenshot of the story as seen in Safari for macOS10/21/2021: Google Says It Will Pull YouTube App From Roku on Dec. 9, PCMag

This became a longer-than-usual post for PCMag when Roku offered to show me their receipts of Google’s demands that it revise its search features to benefit YouTube–including a Sept. 2019 e-mail in which a Google executive called adding a special shelf of YouTube results to Roku’s standard search interface “a must.” I’m still waiting to see how Google will explain how that message squares with its past statements that it’s “never” asked for special search privileges on Roku’s media players.

10/21/2021: Satellites, Fast Company

This non-bylined item, part of the “Amazon Unpacked: A-Z” cover story of Fast Company’s November issue, popped up Thursday.

10/22/2021: FTC: Here’s How Much of a Snoop Your ISP or Wireless Carrier Can Be, PCMag

My third post for PCMag walked readers through a lengthy report the Federal Trade Commission released Thursday about the tracking habits at six major Internet providers–in which I also took care to remind readers of how fast Republicans in Congress worked to squelch pending broadband-privacy rules from the Federal Communications Commission in early 2017, even before the FCC could undo the net-neutrality regulatory foundation of those rules.

10/23/2021: The blockchain is making domain names more private—for good or bad, Fast Company

The Microsoft digital-defense report that I covered briefly for PCMag two weeks ago got me curious about domains stored on various blockchains instead of hosted at traditional registries–which the report called “the next big threat.” So I made some inquiries of my own and came to a somewhat different conclusion than Microsoft’s researchers.

Weekly output: Boost Mobile bundles telemedicine, Tegna’s local-ads sales pitch, Facebook Oversight Board (x2), dark patterns

This week’s biggest accomplishment doesn’t appear on the list below: getting my second dose of the Moderna novel-coronavirus vaccine Thursday morning.

5/4/2021: Dish’s Boost Mobile to add telemedicine to the bundle, Light Reading

My newest client asked me to write up the news that Dish Network’s T-Mobile reseller Boost Mobile will bundle K Health’s telemedicine service–an interesting departure from marketing as usual in the wireless industry.

5/4/2021: Tegna outlines local-content strategy at NewFronts, FierceVideo

My other regular trade-pub client then asked me to fill in with coverage of the ad-industry group IAB’s conference. I was struck to see the TV company spun out of Gannett several years ago sound so confident about the ad prospects for local news when so many local Gannett papers seem to feel otherwise.

5/5/2021: Facebook Oversight Board’s Trump ruling, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on for the first time in a while to discuss the Facebook Oversight Board’s May 5 ruling that while Facebook was right to kick Donald Trump off the platform after the January 6 riots at the Capital, suspending him indefinitely instead of just deleting his account was without precedent.

Fast Company FTC dark-patterns post5/6/2021: Can the FTC stop the tech industry’s use of ‘dark patterns’?, Fast Company

I “attended”–meaning I watched from my home office–a conference the Federal Trade Commission held at the end of April about the abuse of “dark pattern” interfaces by tech companies to push customers into making decisions against their own interests. The FTC had a great lineup of speakers, I learned a lot, and at the end I really wished I could have walked over, said hi and asked follow-up questions like in the Before Times.

5/6/2021: (Face)book ’em Donno!, Bipodisan

My friend Robert Schlesinger had me back on the podcast he co-hosts with Jean Card for the first time since last May. We mostly talked about the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision–in particular, its implicit scolding of Facebook’s habit of letting its policy shop override the content-policy enforcement calls–but also discussed broader concerns about the influence of Facebook and what political and technological developments might help check that.

Weekly output: smartphone-only Internet access, data discussion, Credit Karma, GDPR notices, ad agencies, Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, live music, encryption politics, future of the FTC

I spent most of this week in New Orleans for the Collision conference–that event’s finale there, as it’s moving to Toronto next year. (The clip the organizers put together to announce the change of host cities includes a snippet at the 0:21 mark of a panel on VR and AR that I did at Collision last year, something that completely escaped my attention when they played that clip Tuesday.) I’m sad that I won’t have an obvious reason to put NOLA on my Schedule C next year, but I don’t want to complain too much after three years in a row of being able to do just that.

Meanwhile, Conference Month continues with my departure Monday for Google I/O in Mountain View. I return Thursday, and then Tuesday of the week after has me off to Toronto for RightsCon.

4/30/2018: Study: 1 in 5 American homes get broadband through smartphones, Yahoo Finance

After filing this write-up of a new Pew Research Center study from a “real” computer, my editor sent back some questions as I was boarding my flight to New Orleans. I had free Internet access on my phone thanks to T-Mobile’s deal with Gogo, so I wound up finishing this post on smartphone-only Internet access on my mobile device. My comment to my editor: “I’ve basically become one with the story.”

5/1/2018: Data do nicely: Metrics that matter, Collision

My first of four panels at Collision had me quizzing Node co-founder Falon Fatemi and Branch Metrics co-founder Mada Seghete about how their firms collect and crunch large amounts of data for various clients. About five minutes in, I realized that I only had 15 minutes’ worth of questions for this 20-minute panel–a clock-management fail I should know to avoid–and started improvising. As I watched the timer tick down and silently implored each of my fellow panelists to keep talking, I thought the situation vaguely reminded me of watching the Caps grinding out a penalty kill.

 

5/1/2018: From 0-$4bn: Building Credit Karma, Collision

Tuesday’s second panel was an onstage interview of Credit Karma co-founder Nichole Mustard. After the morning’s timing troubles, I took care to write down more questions than I thought I’d need, then didn’t have to worry about timing since my panel partner could hold forth on everything I asked about.

 

5/1/2018: Pay attention to those privacy notices flooding your email, USA Today

This column explaining why so many sites, apps and services are rolling out new privacy policies effective May 25 was one of two posts that benefited from an interview I did with the Federal Trade Commission’s Terrell McSweeny–as in, one of my Web Summit co-panelists last year–on her second-to-last day in office.

5/2/2018: The agency of tomorrow today, Collision

I had a great chat with DDB Worldwide’s CEO Wendy Clark about the state of the ad business. This panel also featured some audience questions–routed through the Slido app, so I could pick which ones to answer instead of pointing to somebody in the audience and hoping they wouldn’t begin “this question is more of a comment.”

 

5/3/2018: Why Sprint customers should hope the T-Mobile deal succeeds, USA Today

This column walked readers through four independent assessments of Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks–three of which found Sprint’s to be well behind, even after notable improvements.

5/3/2018: Tech changed consumption: What’s the next disruption?, Collision

My last Collision panel had me quizzing Ticketmaster’s Ismail Elshareef (with whom I’d worked in 2012 when I did a talk at his then-employer Edmunds) and the UCLA Center for Music Innovation’s Gigi Johnson about the state of live music. You’ll hear a couple of shout-outs from me to such current and former D.C.-area venues as the 9:30 Club and Iota.

 

5/3/2018: The Trump administration is pushing hard for smartphone backdoors, Yahoo Finance

I’m not sure what led this recap of recent developments in encryption politics to get 1,280 comments, but I’m not going to turn down that kind of attention.

5/3/2018: The agency that protects your privacy is in for big changes, Yahoo Finance

Most of my notes from the McSweeny interview went into this post, along with a few conversations with outside observers of the Federal Trade Commission.