Weekly output: Google lets people keep legacy Google Apps accounts for personal use, broadband gains and pay-TV losses, Bing autosuggest hid some Chinese names

SANTA ROSA, Calif.–My road trip through the Pacific Northwest that started in Boise last Sunday ends Monday morning when I fly home. Doing wireless-carrier drive testing for this year’s version of PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project has taken me to some beautiful places, but I will be delighted to see the same old D.C.-area scenery tomorrow.

PCMag post on Google relenting on legacy G Suite5/17/2022: Google Clicks ‘Undo’ on Plan to Force Legacy Free Google Apps Users to Pay Up, PCMag

Google had spent months telling people (like me) who had long ago opened free Google Apps accounts to use e-mail under personal domain names that they’d have to pay for a business account or relocate their mail service elsewhere. Then the company said, in effect, “never mind.” I’m feeling confused but relieved, as the alternatives all seemed ugly in their own ways.

5/18/2022: TV Subscription Losses Almost Double Broadband-Subscription Gains in Q1, PCMag

I wrote up two reports from the consultancy Leichtman Research Group showing continued growth in broadband subscriptions and continued losses in pay-TV subscriptions. The detail that jumped out at me: how much fixed-wireless broadband service from T-Mobile and Verizon has grown in the last year.

5/20/2022: Bing Hid Auto-Suggestions for Politically Sensitive Chinese Names, Even in the US, PCMag

A new report from Citizen Lab found Microsoft’s Bing search site didn’t autosuggest search terms for certain names that would be considered politically delicate in China. Note my comment in this post about how this University of Toronto-based group found another form of autosuggest filtering that can’t be blamed on anything but the difficulty of automated content screening.

Weekly output: smartphone plans, online misinformation, Twitter perceptions, SpaceX Starship, cord cutting stats, online-privacy bill

I have a short workweek followed by my first family-reunion Thanksgiving in two years.

Patreon readers got an extra post this week: a look at my attempts to ensure that the panels on which I speak aren’t filled out by people who look more or less like me.

Wirecutter phone-plans guide, as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 3a Android phone11/15/2021 The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

This update–the first substantial revision to this guide since the summer of 2020–should not have taken this long, but it’s been a trying year for everybody.

11/15/2021: How Do You Combat Online Misinformation? Katie Couric, Prince Harry Have Some Ideas, PCMag

I wrote about a report on online misinformation from an unusual group of experts.

11/15/2021: We Read Twitter for Entertainment, Trust It for News (Unless We Vote Republican), PCMag

This post covered a pair of Pew Research Center studies about people’s attitudes towards Twitter. The most susprising finding: how many Twitter users misunderstood their own privacy settings.

11/18/2021: Elon Musk’s Starship rocket may launch to orbit in January, Fast Company

The SpaceX founder was scheduled to speak for 30 minutes but spent more than twice as much time at this virtual National Academy of Science meeting. I could have filed a vastly longer story, but I didn’t want to write myself into a bad per-word rate.

11/18/2021: Cord Cutting’s Latest Toll: 1.34 Million Legacy Pay-TV Subscribers Gone, PCMag

I decided to write up this report on pay-TV subscriptions by comparing the numbers involved to cities. Hence: “The top seven cable operators combined to lose 700,500 subscribers, a figure you may find easier to visualize as ‘almost the population of Denver’.”

11/19/2021: Who Owns Your Data? Calif. Congresswomen Try Again With Online Privacy Act, PCMag

The Online Privacy Act reintroduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D.-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif.) seems to get a lot of things right, but it lands in a Congress that seems singularly incapable of passing even incremental privacy upgrades.