Weekly output: Outlook.com, the cloud, 8K TV, Activity Monitor, Mac App Store

It took me a while, but I finally managed to have a week in which smartphones did not figure into the lede of any review.

7/31/2012: Microsoft Outlook: Not Hotmail, Not Quite Gmail, Discovery News

I had high expectations for this service when I got an embargoed briefing of it from Microsoft about two weeks ago–finally, I thought, I might have something that would allow me to move my home e-mail from Google. But I didn’t know at the time how limited Exchange ActiveSync support could be: Contrary to my first expectations, this Hotmail successor leaves Mac users no way to sync their e-mail to a desktop client. My review devoted more words to this topic than most; I was glad to see the same issue come up multiple times in the Reddit discussion Microsoft invited, and I hope Outlook.com’s developers take the numerous hints.

8/3/2012: Questions to Clarify Cloud Computing, CEA Digital Dialogue

After reviewing Google Drive and seeing how tightly Apple and Microsoft’s new and upcoming software integrate each company’s cloud services, I realized I wasn’t sure which ones to include or rule out. So I wrote up the questions I’d want to ask of any cloud service for CEA’s blog.

If you’re curious about the photo, it consists of a Nexus 7 tablet resting on the screen of a MacBook Air. It took a few tries to get enough of the cloud cover reflected on each screen.

8/3/2012: ‘8K’ TV: More Pixels Than Can Meet Your Eye, Discovery News

After Comcast invited me to a screening of some “Ultra High Definition” Olympics video (as in, 7,680 by 4,320 pixels, adding up to 33 megapixels and change), I wrote up my impressions of the experience. Not a surprise, considering my earlier writing: I didn’t come away hoping to get something like that in my living room. Actual surprise: a reader wrote in to protest that studies by the Japanese broadcaster NHK showed that people could distinguish the higher resolution of 8K in still images seen at common viewing distances. Since this reader couldn’t get a comment to post, I quoted those e-mails in a comment I added to the post.

8/5/2012: Monitor your Mac’s behind the scenes activity, USA Today

Maybe a day after I’d posted my review of OS X Mountain Lion, I noticed that my iMac (but not the new MacBook Air next to it) was suddenly running low on memory. I checked the Activity Monitor app, saw a CalendarAgent process eating up every last bit of RAM, confirmed that others also had this problem, and force-quit that process. After several tries had apparently beaten this program into submission, wrote a reminder for USAT about the usefulness of Activity Monitor. (It also covered reasons to use or ignore the Mac App Store.) Unfortunately, CalendarAgent resumed its assault on the iMac’s memory and processor after I’d filed this piece; any ideas about what to do next, besides yell at Apple to fix its software?

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Weekly output: Google Drive, CISPA, DNSChanger, app data usage, podcast, TV antennas, HDMI CEC

Television played a larger role than usual in my work this week, both as a subject and as a stage.

4/24/2012: Google Drive: Late to the Game and It Shows, Discovery News

You’ll note that this review didn’t get into Google Drive’s search features. I don’t think they matter much in the context of selling this service; if you have so many documents stored on Drive that Google’s search talents become necessary to manage them, the company’s already closed the deal.

4/26/2012: CISPA: What’s the worst that could happen?, CEA Digital Dialogue

This story became a moving target–I had to revise it twice after filing it, once to incorporate the White House’s threat to veto this cybersecurity bill, again to reflect CDT’s withdrawal of its own support. The House passed the bill anyway on Thursday, so I guess I need to work on my blog’s influence in Congress.

4/26/2012: The Virus That Really Will Kill Your PC July 9, Discovery News

First an editor suggested I cover the DNSChanger malware and how it could result in hundreds of thousands of computers being unable to navigate online after July 9. Then maybe 48 hours later, as I had begun writing the post, I got this e-mail from a reader: “Are the stories I’ve been reading about FBI shutting down a safety net that will cause many users to loose internet access true?”

4/26/2012: Where’s all my data going?, CNN Newsource

I did a short interview with CNN Newsource, a subsidiary of the news network that provides content for local stations, about which smartphone apps and services can use the most data. It’s since shown up on the sites of several broadcasters (for instance, WCCT in Hartford, Conn.; WALA in Pensacola, Fla.; KOLR in Springfield, Mo.; and KYTX in Beaumont, Texas), but the CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Ala., seems to have been first, so it gets the link.

In other news, I apologize for the slovenly state of my home office.

4/29/2012: Yes, you can put up that antenna, USA Today

This began with a reader’s query in response to my item two weeks ago about tuning into digital cable without a box–her homeowners association apparently had no idea that the FCC overruled its ban on rooftop antennas 18 years ago. The column then shares a tip about using a feature called HDMI CEC to cut down on the number of taps of a remote control it takes to start watching TV. (But after the post was edited, an executive with one of the major electronics firms confessed that he’d turned CEC off on his own set because it kept forgetting which device it was supposed to control.)