Weekly output: tech PR, cybersecurity and wiretapping, 1776, Tech Night Owl, unlimited data, charging cables

According to this list, I spent more time talking about my job than actually doing it (and it’s not even counting the roughly three hours I spent talking to local startups at Day of Fosterly Saturday). That’s not actually true, but it’s not far from the truth either.

4/30/2013: Meet the Tech Media, BusinessWire

I talked about the intersections of technology, the media and public relations with Washington Technology editor Nick Wakeman, freelance writer Andrew Feinberg, Washington Business Journal reporter Bill Flook and Potomac Tech Wire editor Paul Sherman at the Tysons Corner Marriott.

DisCo cybersecurity wiretapping post5/1/2013: Government To Industry: Secure Your Systems, But Also Make Them Easy To Wiretap, Disruptive Competition Project

This post started when I read my old Post colleague Ellen Nakashima’s front-page story about a campaign to compel Internet services to provide real-time decryption of their encrypted communications services for law-enforcement inquiries. Then I thought about how that effort might square with the last two years of debate over what the Feds can do to get private industry to strengthen its cybersecurity defenses–and realized how that paralleled mid-1990s arguments over the government’s “Clipper chip” scheme.

5/3/2013: Media outreach breakfast, 1776

Déjà vu set in as I once again found myself onstage with Paul Sherman to talk about how the media covers tech startups–this time at the 1776 incubator on 15th Street downtown, almost directly across from the Post.

5/4/2013: May 4, 2013 —Tim Angel, Rob Pegoraro and Daniel Eran Dilger, Tech Night Owl Live

I returned to Gene Steinberg’s podcast to talk about Apple’s cliff-diving stock price (and what that says about Wall Street’s short-term judgment), Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest report on how well some major tech companies protect your data from government inquiries.

5/5/2013: Why hang on to your unlimited data plan?, USA Today

The post I wrote here about how much data people actually use on their phones led to this column questioning the value of unlimited-data wireless plans. It has not won universal applause so far. Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin astutely pointed out that if you signed up for Verizon’s old unlimited plan long enough  ago, you could well save money by sticking with that, even if you have to pay an unsubsidized price for a phone; I was less persuaded by people saying they plow through 15 or 20 gigabytes a month without citing what apps chew up that much data.

On Sulia, I assessed the iOS version of Google Now, shared some quick reactions to my Fosterly Media Match experience, related how much my Nexus 4’s battery seems to like being on WiFi and 3G at the same time, and asked Web admins to make sure that site addresses don’t require users to type in a “www” prefix.


A plea to gadget vendors: pick a micro-USB orientation and stick with it

For most of this year, my desk has been littered with a changing cast of mobile devices. But since all of this year’s gadgets, save one, replenish their batteries over micro-USB cables, I rarely bother taking each new model’s charger and cable out of the box–I can use any random micro-USB cable.

Phone micro-USB portsYet I still have to expend precious brain cells figuring out whether any given phone requires me to plug in the USB cable with its flat side or its curved–er, chamfered–side up. There’s no consensus about this: Of five gadgets on my desk, two opt for the former approach and three go with the latter.

I don’t see any reason to keep users guessing (and, in some rare cases, damaging USB cables by trying to plug them in the wrong way). When I finally got around to whining about this divisive issue on Twitter last week, my initial vote was to have the flat side up and the curved side down; that roughly mirrors the contours of most phones and tablets.

But another Twitter user quickly pointed out that the USB spec describes the curved side as the top and calls for the USB logo to be displayed there. (Another visual cue: In this orientation, the small metal prongs on the metal end of the plug face down, as most fangs do.) On reflection, that’s good enough for me. So can we settle on that orientation and move on to squabbling over even less consequential technical details?