Weekly output: Microsoft, Kleos, finding exoplanets, Firefox tracking protection, Hollywood-style storytelling, fighting wildfires, NRO, Kitware, NSA, NGA

This week’s list has a pronounced military-industrial-complex look, thanks to the four days I spent covering the Geoint 2019 conference in San Antonio on a contract gig for my occasional client the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. I now know much more about the business of geospatial intelligence, which can only help the next time I write about topics like location privacy for a consumer audience.

This coming week will also have me out of town, this time to NYC to speak on a panel about 5G and smart cities at the CE Week conference, attend a one-day event about 8K television, and meet up with a few friends. And that should put a cap on my work travel until at least early July, maybe all the way to early August.

6/3/2019: Better Tools for ISR Management, Trajectory Magazine

As part of the work USGIF paid for, I wrote a series of profiles of Geoint 2019 exhibitors. This one covered a software firm in Redmond, Wash., that you may have heard of before.

6/3/2019: ISR for Maritime Security, Trajectory Magazine

This exhibitor profile covered a far smaller company, Luxembourg-based Kleos Space.

6/3/2019: The Search for Exoplanets, Trajectory Magazine

I wrote up an interesting talk by SETI Institute data scientist Jeffrey R. Smith about the challenges involved in processing the imagery collected by the exoplanet-detecting satellite TESS.

6/4/2019: Firefox browser blocks sites and advertisers from tracking you online by default, USA Today

Mozilla gave me an advance on the Tuesday-morning introduction of a version of the Firefox browser with tracking-protection capabilities on a par with those in Apple’s Safari. Note that if you’re upgrading from an existing installation, you may not have this new default active; to change that, adjust your settings as I outlined in a tweet.

6/4/2019: What the Intelligence Community Can Learn from Hollywood, Trajectory Magazine

This panel got closer to a CES keynote than anything else I saw in San Antonio, thanks to a presentation by The Third Floor CEO Chris Edwards about how that virtualization studio uses 3D-rendering tools and augmented-reality interfaces to create worlds for movie and TV productions. The takeaway: The intelligence community needs to learn these techniques too, not least because our adversaries will use them against us.

6/4/2019: The Power of Real-Time Data for Firefighting, Trajectory Magazine

This otherwise-fascinating panel about using geospatial data to fight wildfires such as last year’s Camp Fire in California featured a glaring example of failed clock management: CalFire research data scientist Rachael Brody and Clark University graduate student Jaclyn Guz didn’t get to speak at all.

6/4/2019: Government Pavilion Stage Highlights, Trajectory Magazine

My part in this roundup was a recap of a talk by Troy Meink, geospatial intelligence systems acquisition director at the National Reconnaissance Office, about that black-budget agency’s increasing openness to working with smaller private-sector companies.

6/5/2019: From Sensors to Answers, Trajectory Magazine

My last exhibitor profile covered the imagery-analysis firm Kitware.

6/5/2019: Teamwork and a Talent Pipeline are Key to NSA’s Future, Trajectory Magazine

I didn’t know before this week that the National Security Agency helps run cybersecurity camps for K-12 students, but this talk by U.S. Cyber Command executive director David Luber got me up to speed on that.

6/5/2019: Government Pavilion Stage Highlights, Trajectory Magazine

My coverage wrapped up with a recap of a panel featuring National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency associate directors Jennifer Daniels and Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland. My lesson learned from writing this: If you’re going to record audio of a panel, don’t do that from halfway back in the audience.

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Weekly output: CES recap, cable’s 10G pitch, making Congress smarter about tech policy, whither “GIS”

We’re now more than halfway through this presidential term, which is crazy to think about considering that January 2017 sometimes feels like it happened five years ago.

1/22/2019: Techdirt Podcast Episode 196: The CES 2019 Post-Mortem, Techdirt

For the fourth year in a row, I joined Techdirt editor Mike Masnick on his podcast to compare notes about CES.

1/24/2019: How cable wants to speed up your internet access, Yahoo Finance

The cable industry chose CES week to announce its “10G” initiative for 10-Gbps broadband, which helped ensure that I couldn’t get around to unpacking how much of his plan isn’t new until a couple of weeks later.

1/24/2019: These people are trying to make Congress smarter about tech policy, Yahoo Finance

I’ve had this story on my to-do list for months, but the arrival of a new class of TechCongress fellows finally pushed me to research and write it.

1/25/2019: The Changing Nature of GIS, Trajectory Magazine

I returned to my occasional client to write this wonky article about how cloud services and mobile devices are democratizing geographic information systems in much the same way that they’ve opened up online publishing.

Weekly output: wiping flash drives, Apple Maps to-do list, geospatial privacy issues

Having July 4 bisect this workweek ensured that I would spend much of it checked out of work. I hope that was the case for you as well, even if you didn’t have the additional factor of visiting relatives you’ve missed.

USAT flash-drive wiping column7/5/2018: Ready to ditch your old flash drive? Don’t just erase and recycle, USA Today

The number-one reader question I got after my earlier column on how to destroy a dead hard drive was “what if the drive still works–how do you be sure no data’s left on it in that case?” This column should be your answer, although I’m not sure how many Windows users will go to the trouble of installing VeraCrypt and using that free, but complex open-source app to scramble drives before disposal, resale or recycling.

7/5/2018: 5 ways Apple maps can improve to compete with Google, Yahoo Finance

A report by TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino about Apple’s ongoing effort to rebuild its mapping app on an in-house foundation gave me an excuse to vent about some longstanding problems with Apple Maps. Writing this also led me to consider other ways in which both that app and Google Maps fail to grasp such transportation alternatives as high-occupancy/toll lanes and using bikeshare or ride-hailing services to augment transit.

7/6/2018: GEOINT Law & Policy: A Poorly Mapped Frontier, Trajectory Magazine

I wrote a feature for the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s quarterly magazine about how many of the laws and norms governing geospatial privacy have failed to keep up with advances in the tools that can track us.

Updated 7/10/2018 to add a link to the Trajectory article (it didn’t show up in a Google News search, and I forgot to check the magazine’s site on my own.)

 

Weekly output: LTE speeds, geospatial intelligence and police, reading deleted Web pages

LISBON–I’m here for my third Web Summit, where I have four panels to moderate (a late change having added to the three I already had on my schedule) and many more to watch and learn from.

As I write this, I’m listening to my friend Anthony Zurcher’s recap for the BBC of the election result that stunned me here last year. Life has gotten a lot more complicated since then, that’s for sure.

11/1/2017: Study shows US has slower LTE wireless than 60 other countries, Yahoo Finance

About half a year after writing about an earlier OpenSignal study of wireless-data speeds around the world, I covered new findings from that research firm that saw the U.S. backsliding compared to other countries. I wrote that we could see improvement if Sprint and T-Mobile gave up on their merger ambitions and focused instead on building their separate networks… and Saturday, each firm walked away from that deal.

Trajectory police-geoint feature11/1/2017: GEOINT for Policing: Location-based technologies offer opportunities for law enforcement, Trajectory

My first piece for the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s quarterly magazine looks at how police departments are deploying data gathered from real-time sensors and street-level databases to try to spot crime as it happens–or earlier, if possible. It was a fascinating topic to dig into–not least when the CEO of one “geoint” firm agreed unhesitatingly with an ACLU analyst’s concerns about this technology’s possible misuses–and I’m now working on a second feature for Trajectory.

11/3/2017: After Gothamist: how to read Web pages that have gone to their grave, USA Today

I had started researching a column about data caps when news broke that billionaire owner Tom Ricketts had not only shut down the DNAInfo and Gothamist family of news sites (I miss you already, DCist) but had also redirected every story published there to his statement voicing regret about not being able to make money at the venture. I offered to write a quick explainer about how to use the Internet Archive and Google’s page-caching function to read just-deleted pages, which USAT had up by the next morning. That evening, Ricketts restored those pages, if not many journalists’ trust in the promises of wealthy, would-be newsroom saviors.