Weekly output: CFAA, Twitter spam, Nexus 7, mobile privacy, phone storage, Android Device Manager

I swear, sometime this month I will have the kind of lazy, do-nothing day that should be the right of every Washingtonian who doesn’t skip town in August.

8/21/2013: Cloak Your IP Address, Expose Yourself To Legal Jeopardy?, Disruptive Competition Project

I’d meant to write a post denouncing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in January–when Internet activist Aaron Swartz, facing the potential of a long CFAA sentence, committed suicide. I remedied that oversight when a judge’s opinion stated that using a proxy server to change your computer’s Internet Protocol address could be a CFAA violation.

Ars Technica Twitter-spam post8/21/2013: Deciphering the tricks of the Twitter spammers, Ars Technica

After seeing a fascinating study of the Twitter spam market presented at the Usenix Security Symposium last week, I did a little more digging to write this recap.

8/23/2013: New Nexus 7 Makes Android Tablets Look Sharper, Discovery News

This review already looks problematic–not even two days after it ran, the backlight on my loaner Nexus 7 seems to have died. Until I can figure out what happened (which will probably require Google to autopsy the device), don’t give my kind words about this Android tablet too much credence.

8/24/2013: Privacy Vulnerabilities and the Media, iOSDevCampDC

I gave a talk about how privacy issues get covered–often badly–by the tech and traditional media at this gathering of Washington-area iOS developers. This was not my best public speaking ever; I lost my place halfway through the talk and had to improvise for a bit. (My audience didn’t seem to mind, but things could have been much worse.)

8/25/2013: Will an 8 GB smartphone have enough storage space?, USA Today

This question seemed simple enough when a reader asked it several weeks ago, but then I realized it would give me a chance to discuss a few interesting, related topics. But in retrospect, I missed a chance here to call out phone vendors for charging too much for extra memory. There’s also a tip about Google’s new Android Device Manager lost-phone service.

My most important Sulia post this week reported the bizarre failure of the Nexus 7. Besides that, I critiqued Samsung’s announcement of a new Android phone with a 6.3-inch screen,   called out Amazon’s lack of a system-status page that might have better explained its brief outage this week, suggested a new Google patent application may have prior-art and obviousness issues, and complimented the new “Digital Commons” space at the District’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Library.

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Weekly output: broadband, favorite gadgets, competition, Mountain Lion, miniaturization, location awareness, IP addresses

I don’t usually write this much in a week for my two oldest regular clients (“oldest” being a relative term, since it’s been just over a year since my first post for Discovery), but the scheduling worked out that way.

7/25/2012: Internet Costs and Choices Still Stink, Discovery News

This critique of the FCC’s latest study of the U.S. residential broadband market might have gone up last week had I not set it aside to write about Reddit’s coverage of the Aurora shootings. Instead, I gave it another couple of days. In that time, I came up with the somewhat contrived illustration shown here: an Ethernet cable twisted in the shape of a question mark in front of the FCC report as seen in a laptop’s browser. The headline here overstates things slightly–pricing for most consumer-grade connections doesn’t seem that bad, at least if you compare it to cable TV–but nobody can say the state of competition is good.

I updated the post a day later to add a reference to Google’s just-announced pricing for its Kansas City fiber-optic service (1 billion bits per second for $70 a month, 1 Gbps plus a set of TV channels that exclude ESPN for $120, or 5 Mbps for free after a connection fee).

7/25/2012: Tech Team’s Favorite Gadgets: Photos, Discovery News

As I mentioned upfront, it’s been just over a year since Discovery set out to cover tech and gadget news more closely. This photo gallery, featuring myself and the other regular Discovery contributors writing about gadgets we’ve appreciated more than most, marks that anniversary.

7/25/2012: Rethinking the State of Competition, CEA Digital Dialogue

This reassessment of the relative openness of a few key consumer-tech markets was going to be last week’s post for CEA–as you can see, it’s responding to Microsoft’s pulling out its MSNBC joint venture and Yahoo hiring Google’s Marissa Mayer as its new CEO–but got held up for various reasons. I’m not sure there was a solid 800-word blog post in this topic, but once I realized that I didn’t have time to crank out something different–I was late enough already.

7/27/2012: Your Device Can Be Too Small And Too Thin, CEA Digital Dialogue

Here I question the move to make ever-thinner gadgets at the cost of connectivity, expandability, compatibility and repairability. I could have written it at any time over the last few months, but buying a MacBook Air laptop–and realizing how much more I had to think about its memory allocation when I couldn’t upgrade that later on–closed the deal for me.

7/27/2012: Apple’s Mountain Lion: More of iOS in OS X, Discovery News

I feel better about Mountain Lion than I do about Lion–but I also recall that some of Lion’s annoyances took a few weeks to sink in. You’ll have to ask me in a month if I’m still spending much time checking the Notifications list, using the Share buttons in Safari and the Finder, or employing the Dictation feature to crank out short snippets of text. I also wonder if by then I will have figured out why the MacBook doesn’t see my Canon printer/scanner; nobody had an answer when I asked on Google+, and this post hasn’t generated any input on that subject either.

7/29/2012: How your phone gets location-confused, USA Today

Giving readers a refresher course in how smartphones fix their location through network signals, WiFi and GPS allowed me to bring orbital mechanics into an article, which doesn’t happen all that often. If I hadn’t written this a couple of weeks earlier (my editor was going on vacation), the second part of this column could also have noted the newfound interest of some U.S. Olympics viewers in using proxy servers to watch the BBC’s reportedly-excellent streaming video of the 2012 games.

Weekly output: Cookies and IP addresses, memes, Aereo, new iPad, SXSW

First SXSW ate up a chunk of my schedule, then a bizarre laptop malfunction on the way to the conference left me offline for most of a day. (On the first flight Friday, I realized that the keyboard wasn’t registering some keystrokes, then realized that it was no mere freak software malfunction; the entire damn thing is broken. Hi-larious.) So I’ve got less writing to my name than on average, much less compared to a week ago, and this recap comes to you a day late.

3/4/2012:  How Online Marketers Target You, USA Today

This week’s column explains two ways that advertisers can track you–or, more exactly, your computers and individual browsers on them. (Recommended follow-up reading: Atlantic tech writer Alexis Madrigal’s extended analysis of how close ad tracking might get to piercing the veil provided when sites only know us by IP addresses and cookies.) I also endorse using a site called Know Your Meme to figure out what all those crazy kids online are talking about this week.

3/7/2012: The Aereo Scenario: A TV Tune-Up On Trial, CEA Digital Dialogue

This research for this post began almost a year ago. One of my last acts as a Post reporter was a dinner meeting with the founders of a company then called Bamboom Labs, which hoped to bring over-the-air TV to reception-starved New Yorkers via the Internet. Since then the company has launched and drawn the inevitable lawsuits from broadcasters, and I’m not thrilled with the idea of banning a company from trying to sell what amounts to a better antenna. An express-permission-required economy is no formula for innovation.

3/7/2012: Things Unsaid In Apple’s New iPad News, Discovery News

In case you hadn’t heard, Apple sells a popular tablet computer called the iPad, and it announced a new version on Wednesday. Here, I take a look at some of the tradeoffs Apple made to upgrade this thing’s screen and camera resolutions and wireless data speeds–I’m particularly impressed with how much more battery capacity it holds on the inside.

3/10/2012: Why Doesn’t Congress Grok The Internet?, SXSW

Sadly, there’s no transcript or video of my session. But you can follow the real-time recaps of audience members by searching for the two Twitter hashtags the conference organizers suggested, #sxgroknet and #groknet.

Update, 3/24/2012: Since those Twitter links have expired, I used Topsy’s search tool to dig up those tweets; you can now read them in chronological order after the jump.

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