Weekly output: FuboTV rate hike, Varjo, NextGen TV, Washington Apple Pi, sustainability at CES, Twitter apps, Mark Vena podcast

You can imagine how much I appreciate having this holiday weekend follow CES. I came home last Sunday morning exhausted and with a cold–but fortunately not Covid, as verified by three negative tests since then.

(Speaking of CES, Patreon readers got a post sharing more of my notes from the show.)

1/9/2023: FuboTV Increases Rates by $5 a Month, Tacks on ‘RSN’ Fee, PCMag

I have to wonder if Fubo doesn’t have some kind of a death wish, because there’s little else to explain why it would want to adopt one of cable TV’s more loathsome practices by sticking subscribers with a new surcharge for regional sports networks–and doing so on the same day it hikes its advertised rates by $5.

1/10/2023: On the Virtual Road With Varjo’s XR-3 Mixed-Reality Headset, PCMag

I got to try out this high-end headset at the end of a long Friday at CES and came away impressed–not that there’s much consumer-relevant in a device with a five-figure price tag.

Screengrab of the story as seen in Safari on an iPad mini.1/12/2023: NEXTGEN TV’s CES sales pitch: strength in numbers, Fierce Video

I thought I’d see more manufacturers shipping TVs with NextGen (aka ATSC 3.0) tuners, but on the other hand I didn’t expect to learn that those sets made up 8% of all TVs shipped to U.S. dealers last year. That already makes NextGen much more relevant than 8K TV.

1/12/2023: Afternoon Learners SIG, Washington Apple Pi

I joined the virtual meeting of this group (SIG being short for “special interest group”) via Zoom for about an hour to share my impressions of CES and answer questions.

1/13/2023: Green tech and trends at CES 2023 point to environmental progress, Fast Company

After noting all of the green shoots I saw at CES, I had to remind readers of how much Las Vegas remains a monument to car supremacy.

1/13/2023: Third-Party Twitter Apps Stop Working in What Appears to Be a Widespread Outage, PCMag

The fact that Twitter management remains silent about blocking third-party clients shows a colossal amount of disrespect for both the developers of those apps and their customers.

1/14/2023: S03 E43 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I shared my impressions of CES and discussed smart-home technology in the first 2023 edition of this podcast, also available via video.

Weekly output: year-end tech-policy rush, NFL Sunday Ticket, shaving streaming costs, Mark Vena podcast

Christmas can double as Family Sysadmin Day for tech types, and today was not an exception.

12/20/2022: Giant Omnibus Bill Mandates Online Seller Transparency, Cracks Down on TikTok, PCMag

This could have been a shorter post, but I felt obliged to offer some context about the security and privacy risks of TikTok relative to any other social app that’s not owned by a Chinese firm. Then two days later, we learned that four TikTok employees spied on journalists reporting on ByteDance’s social app.

12/22/2022: Google Scores NFL Sunday Ticket Deal for YouTube TV, PCMag

It’s kind of crazy how long DirecTV held on to this exclusive, considering how irrelevant its core satellite-TV business has become over the last 10 years.

USAT streaming-costs Dec. 2022 column12/23/2022: Netflix, Disney and Apple TV prices jump. How to save a bundle on your streaming services, USA Today

TV-entertainment expenses remain an evergreen topic, but this time I could note some progress in the availability of regional sports networks outside traditional pay-TV bundles and suggest a few more ways to get one or more streaming services for less or for free, depending on your choice of wireless carrier and the credit cards in your wallet.

12/23/2022: S02 E42 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this podcast for the first time in weeks to discuss Elon Musk’s ham-handed “Twitter Files” effort to unmask the alleged sins of previous management, then share some predictions about what CES will bring next week.

Weekly output: Verizon admin-fee increase, mmWave 5G smart repeaters, White House AI policy, Pixel 7 calling features, alternative social platforms, U.S.-EU privacy framework, Mark Vena podcast

In addition to the work you see below, I also spent most of Tuesday afternoon volunteering at a vaccination clinic–about a week and a half after getting my bivalent booster at the same clinic.

Screenshot of the column as seen in USAT's iPad app, where it's topped by a video explaining how C-band 5G might interfere with radar altimeters on airliners.10/3/2022: Did Verizon just raise prices? Administrative fee increase is another price hike, USA Today

Corporate executives apparently continue to believe they can cram a price hike into a fine-print fee without customers noticing. The e-mails I’ve gotten since this column ran suggest that this belief is grossly incorrect.

10/4/2022: A new pitch for mmWave: smart repeaters, Light Reading

I spent Thursday morning hearing out a variety of pitches for millimeter-wave 5G wireless broadband’s latest possibilities, then filed this report for one of my favorite trade-pub clients that included some caveats from industry experts.

10/4/2022: White House AI Bill of Rights Looks to Rein in ‘Unaccountable’ Algorithms, PCMag

I thought this would be a quick post to write, then realized that this document ran about 30,000 words.

10/6/2022: With the Pixel 7 series, Google tries again to answer the call of harried phone users, Fast Company

This story might have come out differently if I had not been forced to rely on a non-Pixel Android phone, devoid of the Pixel-only calling features I’ve gotten used to in recent years.

10/6/2022: Only 6% of US Adults Get News From Alt-Social Platforms Like Truth Social, PCMag

The Pew Research Center gave me an early look at this study… and then I still didn’t file it until after the embargo expired, because I had too many other things going on Thursday morning.

10/7/2022: Biden Executive Order Implements New Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Safeguards, PCMag

Another executive-branch tech-policy document became another long read for me this week.

10/8/2022: S02 E37 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s edition of my usual podcast (also available in video form) featured a new addition to the usual gang of tech journalists: my PCMag colleague and fellow New Jerseyan Angela Moscaritolo.

Weekly output: security attitudes at Black Hat, American Airlines bullish on Boom, Visible changes plans, business cybersecurity worries, Mark Vena podcast

With our kid going back to school a week from Monday, this is my last week of day-camp-commute driving for the year.

Screenshot of column as seen in Firefox for macOS8/16/2022: As Black Hat security conference turns 25, a lesson: security doesn’t have an end point, USA Today

I didn’t finish writing this recap until leaving Vegas and using that conference’s video-on-demand option to watch the panel I’d most regretted missing.

8/16/2022: American Airlines Puts Down Deposit on 20 Boom Supersonic Overture Jets, PCMag

Once again, Boom Supersonic had news of an airline order for its Overture jet land unaccompanied by news of an engine design, so this time I reminded readers of how long two recent jet engines took to enter revenue service.

8/17/2022: Visible Reshuffles Plans: No More Party Pay, But Solo Service Is Now $10 Cheaper, PCMag

Visible is taking a page out of its parent firm Verizon’s book by having more than one plan with “unlimited” data.

8/18/2022: What Do Business Execs Worry About Most? Getting Hacked, PCMag

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey finding that business executives worry most about information security shouldn’t be news… except that none of PwC’s previous surveys of suits had found infosec to be their top anxiety.

8/19/2022: S02 E34 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

Recording this week’s episode of the podcast hit a few technical glitches, and for once they weren’t on my end.

Weekly output: sports streaming, Mark Vena podcast, Warner Bros. Discovery hire, U.S. ends Covid test rule, RCS vs. iMessage, federal EV-charging specifications, antique mobile apps

My Covid roller coaster of a week started with a couple of nap-heavy days after last Sunday’s positive test, transitioned to me waiting to see the positive strips in rapid tests start to fade as my cold-like symptoms already had, and wrapped up with that positive strip vanishing faster than I might have hoped. That leaves me free to proceed with my earlier travel plans: flying to Ireland Monday night for Dublin Tech Summit to moderate two panels there and finally use my Irish passport in the country that issued it to me.

6/8/2022: Sports-streaming panel finds no one winning play in key issues, FierceVideo

Instead of speaking at this publication’s Stream TV Show and writing up a couple of panels, I could only cover this discussion about sports streaming, one of a limited set of talks available via streaming at a conference devoted to that very topic.

6/9/2022: S02 E24 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s podcast conversation (also on video) focused on Apple’s WWDC news from earlier in the week.

6/10/2022: Warner Bros. Discovery names sports-CEO pick, FierceVideo

My fill-in duty at my trade-pub client, continuing through Monday, included a quick write-up of this hire.

6/10/2022: US Finally Scraps COVID Test Requirement for Inbound International Flights, PCMag

This is a story I’ve been hoping to write for months.

Screenshot of USAT column as seen in Safari on an iPad6/10/2022: Why haven’t iPhone, Android messaging apps evolved to make it easier to talk to each other?, USA Today

I first wrote this after Google I/O last month, then updated it to note how Apple ignored the entire issue of Android-iOS messaging security at WWDC. Alas, that rewriting cycle did not help me catch a stupid mistake that a friend asked about the day after the story was published: I wrote that Apple’s Messages app shows non-iMessage texts in blue bubbles, not the actual green bubbles of shame.

6/11/2022: Biden Admin to Set Standards for Federally Funded EV Charging Stations, PCMag

Writing this post about proposed requirements for electric-car charging stations funded through last year’s infrastructure law took longer than I expected after I got into the weeds reading about the finer points of EV-charging systems. Which is good, because I need to know this stuff in depth.

6/12/2022: Apps can live on in your phone or tablet, even after removed from an app store, USA Today

I wrote this explainer after Apple and Google announced new rules for quasi-neglected apps–and Apple’s first iteration was especially harsh and its revision of them still left app developers a little puzzled.

Updated 6/26/2022 to add the sports-streaming panel; I’m blaming Covid for my forgetting to note that before. 

Weekly output: Rocket Lab booster catch, passwordless logins, Mark Vena podcast, Chris Krebs cybersecurity-policy assessment, Facebook to end background location tracking

Friday marked two years since we adopted our cat. Abel still ignores us when we tell him not to jump on the dining-room table but is a sweetie in most other ways. And every time I expand the online world’s inventory of cat photos by posting one of him, I feel like I am being a good citizen of the Internet.

Screenshot of the PCMag post in Safari for iPadOS, showing the screengrab I took of Rocket Lab's stream showing the Electron booster and its parachute at right, with the helicopter's cable at left.5/3/2022: Watch a Helicopter Catch an Electron Booster Rocket, PCMag

I watched a helicopter catch and briefly hold a spent first stage of a rocket as it descended under a parachute, a first-time experience for me, and then tuned into Rocket Lab’s press conference hours later to get some quotes from Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck for this story.

5/5/2022: Google lines up with Apple and Microsoft to nix passwords in favor of nearby-device authentication, Fast Company

I got an advance on this three-company news announcement from Google, so all the quotes in this post are from two Googlers. If you’d like to read more about this initiative, please turn your attention to Dan Goodin’s writeup at Ars Technica.

5/5/2022: S02 E19 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this podcast after missing it last week due to travel.

5/6/2022: Ex-CISA Chief: Biden Cybersecurity EO ‘Raises the Standard’ on IT Vendors, PCMag

I wrote up the closing session at the Hack the Capitol event in D.C., in which former Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Administration director Chris Krebs shared his insights about the state of information-security policy.

5/6/2022: Facebook Unfollows ‘Nearby Friends,’ Other Background Location Features

Facebook bulk-erasing everybody’s location history will be its biggest data-minimization move since scrapping its facial-recognition database. And yet the company’s sole announcement of this move Friday was in-app prompts and e-mails for some users.

Weekly output: Nielson streaming-spend study, Apple TV+ + MLB, SpaceX so far, FIFA+, Netflix double thumbs-up, CNN+ viewership, VR interest, Stellantis + Qualcomm, Mark Vena podcast, new Amazon CEO shareholder letter

Happy Easter! I hope this holiday’s message of reborn life resonates in Ukraine in particular.

(Patreon FYI: Readers there got a bonus post about a few shopping tactics that can let you buy an Apple gadget below list price.)

4/11/2022: Nielsen study shows most streaming viewers spend $30 or less, FierceVideo

I spent the first three days of the week filling in at my trade-pub video-industry client, starting with this writeup of some Nielsen research.

4/11/2022: Apple TV+ debuts Friday Night Baseball, FierceVideo

I used this post to share my own review of Apple’s baseball-coverage venture, as viewed during Friday’s Nationals-Mets game.

Fast Company SpaceX history post4/12/2022: How SpaceX came to dominate the launch business, Fast Company

I knew that a lot of aerospace-establishment types were skeptical of SpaceX a dozen years ago, but digging up their actual quotes was something else.

4/12/2022: FIFA makes a new bid for soccer fans with FIFA+ streaming, FierceVideo

If any sports organization can afford to bankroll a streaming service and then let anybody watch for free, it would be FIFA.

4/12/2022: Netflix adds double-thumbs-up option for rave reviews, FierceVideo

Remember: Don’t call this new Netflix review option “two thumbs up,” because that’s a trademarked Ebert & Siskel phrase.

4/13/2022: Report cites fewer than 10,000 daily viewers for CNN+, FierceVideo

Maybe CNN’s subscription streaming service would have more paying viewers if the news was less depressing?

4/13/2022: Adults remain uninterested in VR live events, FierceVideo

The Morning Consult survey that I wrote up referred to virtual reality as “the metaverse,” but I was not going to use Facebook’s preferred word in the headline or lede if I could help it.

4/14/2022, Stellantis Partners With Qualcomm for 5G-Connected Cars, PCMag

Writing up this connected-car news allowed me to use some leftover notes from Qualcomm’s Tech Summit and then from CES.

4/14/2022: S02 E16 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I joined this podcast (also available in video form) via my laptop, once again using my phone’s camera in place of the laptop’s webcam.

4/15/2022: In First Shareholder Letter, Amazon CEO Sticks With the Bezos Playbook, PCMag

I made a point of noting the things new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy didn’t mention in his first letter to shareholders.

Weekly output: 5G patents, Shazam suggests local concerts, quantum computing, smartphone plans, Mark Vena podcast, Russian hacking

This event treated me to not one but two conferences in D.C.–Satellite 2022 at the convention center, then ShmooCon at the Washington Hilton. I can’t remember when I last used Capital Bikeshare every workday in a week, but it can’t have been more recently than 2019.

Patreon readers got a bonus this week: a recap of my attempt to figure out how a reader’s wife’s browsing activity could have landed a PayPal promotional e-mail in his inbox.

3/22/2022: USPTO study: Everyone’s a winner in 5G patents, Light Reading

I wrote a couple of quick posts last week for my telecom trade-pub client to cover for an editor finally taking a vacation. This one poked yet another hole in the useless “race to 5G” trope.

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari on an iPad; it's illustrated with a photo of a band on stage3/22/2022: Shazam Now Suggests Nearby Concerts, PCMag

Writing this post about how the Apple-owned song-identification app will now show nearby concerts of the artists it recognizes made me miss seeing bands play live. By which I mean, seeing bands play live at Iota.

3/23/2022: Telecom needs to get ready for quantum computing, report warns, Light Reading

I don’t usually write about quantum computing, so this was a neat departure from the usual.

3/24/2022: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

The latest update to the guide that I started working on more than eight years ago covers 5G improvements at AT&T and Verizon, updates to Verizon’s unlimited offerings, and advice about 3G shutdowns at the big three carriers.

3/24/2022: S02 E13 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I used my part of this industry analyst’s podcast (also available in video form) to talk about the space-tourism possibilities I heard about at Satellite 2022.

3/25/2022: Department of Justice Reminds Us Russian Hackers Are a Serious Threat, PCMag

The DOJ’s unsealing of two indictments returned last year against Russian government employees came with a reminder to U.S. companies to step up their  own security efforts. Conveniently enough, two ShmooCon speakers had talked the night before about Washington’s latest attempts to warn American firms about Russian hacking, so I ended the post by quoting them.

Updated 3/29/2022 to add the Wirecutter update that had escaped my attention (by which I mean a Google search Sunday for mentions of my name in the last week didn’t surface it). 

Weekly output: satellite laser links, Twitter’s tech-policy outline, Facebook blacklists, Mark Vena podcast, algorithmic accountability

In addition to affording me two days together with my fellow pixel-stained wretches of the Online News Association, this week had me writing and speaking at the following places.

Screenshot of the story as seen on Safari on an iPad mini10/11/2021: Why Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites are beaming data by laser, Fast Company

This story is a belated result of my brief attendance at the Satellite 2021 conference last month.

10/13/2021: Twitter Has Some Ideas on How Congress Should Overhaul Social Media, PCMag

Twitter posted a short list of principles it wants to see inform any rewrite of laws governing social-media networks, and I had to read part of it as a subtweet of Facebook’s ongoing campaign for “updated Internet regulations.”

10/13/2021: Facebook blacklist, Al Araby

This Arabic-language news network had me on, overdubbed live, to discuss Sam Biddle’s reporting in The Intercept about an extensive list of “dangerous” individuals and organizations.

10/13/2021: S01 E13 – SmartTechCheck PodcastS01 E13, Mark Vena

I was on this industry analyst’s podcast once again; my contribution to the discussion was to note the amazingly low-key arrival of Windows 11.

10/14/2021: Lawmakers Want to Hold Social Networks Responsible for ‘Malicious Algorithms’, PCMag

I wrote up a brief bill that would make yet another revision to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, in this case lifting that law’s limited immunity for social forums if their algorithms amplify content that contributes to “physical or severe emotional injury.”

Weekly output: Starlink to exit beta, Mark Vena podcast, Texas social-media law challenged, iOS 15/iPadOS 15 help

This coming week has something unusual on it: business travel to a conference. I’m flying to Miami to moderate two panels at Seatrade Cruise Global, a cruise-industry gathering at which I was supposed to speak last spring before the pandemic forced its cancellation. Then I led one video panel at Seatrade’s virtual gathering in April, which went well enough for the organizers to bring me to Florida.

9/20/2021: Elon Musk says his Starlink satellite internet is coming out of beta, Fast Company

Since pretty much every other tech-news site was also covering SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announcing (in a reply to somebody else’s tweet) that Starlink would exit its beta status in October, I took some time in this piece to compare this broadband satellite constellation’s progress to the slower pace of OneWeb and Amazon’s yet-to-launch Project Kuiper.

9/22/2021: S01 E10 – SmartTechCheck Podcast by Parks Associates, Mark Vena

I rejoined this industry analyst’s podcast with fellow tech journalists Stewart Wolpin and John Quain to talk about Apple and Google knuckling under to Russia by removing the “smart voting” app of dissident Alexei Navalny’s party, Starlink’s service, commercial space travel, and Apple’s iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

Screenshot of the story as seen in Safari on an iPad mini 5.9/23/2021: Tech Policy Groups Mess With Texas, Sue Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Social Media Law, PCMag

This is the first thing I’ve written for PCMag in several years, but you won’t have to wait nearly as long to read my next piece there. I’m now going to be writing short explainers about tech-policy news at that site. Yes, this debut item on two tech-policy groups suing to overturn the blatantly-unconstitutional Texas law banning large social media platforms from most forms of content moderation runs about 700 words, which is not exactly short even if a lot of it consists of extended quotations from the law and the lawsuit filed by the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice. I’ll try to be more economical with my prose the next time.

9/25/2021: How to fix some foibles of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, USA Today

After seeing the reaction to my cranky tweet about iPadOS 15 wrecking my carefully tended arrangement of app icons (even before the Verge’s Chris Welch lent it some extra publicity by embedding it in a story), I pitched my editors at USAT about a column offering advice to people irked by some of the changes in this release. One angle I had to cut from the piece: how the iPhone and iPad versions of Safari are in some ways catching up to mobile browsers like Firefox (which moved its controls to the bottom last August) and Chrome (which added tab groups last May).