Weekly output: farm tech, Firefox in the Microsoft Store, Facebook “sensitive” ad targeting (x2), Mark Vena podcast, the “Facebook is listening” myth

I celebrated testing negative after coming back from an international business trip by getting a booster dose of Moderna Saturday. My Sunday has involved two naps and some overall wooziness, none of which I will regret when I’m at CES less than two months from now.

11/8/2021: Poop sensors, drones, and robots: What automation looks like at the farm of the future, Fast Company

Virginia Tech staged a demo of some of its research into farming robotics at Mount Vernon; in writing that up, I noted a report about the lingering problem of inadequate broadband on farms.

Screenshot of this story, as seen in a copy of Mozilla Firefox installed from the Microsoft Store on my Windows 10 laptop11/9/2021: Firefox Arrives in the Microsoft Store, PCMag

Writing this up allowed me to dust off some my writing from the Microsoft antitrust trial over 20 years ago. It cracks me up that Microsoft has now given the browser that dethroned Internet Explorer a spot in its own app store.

11/10/2021: Facebook to Stop Some ‘Sensitive’ Ad Targeting, PCMag

Starting in January, Facebook won’t let advertisers target ads based on the topics you’re supposed to avoid at the Thanksgiving table–politics, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, among others.

11/10/2021: S01 E17 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I rejoined this podcast (also available in video form) to talk about the broadband provisions of the infrastructure bill that President Biden will be signing Monday.

11/11/2021: Facebook ending “sensitive” ad targeting, Al Jazeera

Writing about Facebook’s upcoming change paid off when I was asked to opine about it on this Arabic-language news network a day later.

11/14/2021: No, Facebook isn’t listening to you on your phone, Al Jazeera

I hope the live translation into Arabic got across how ridiculous I think it is that people are still wondering if Facebook’s apps have somehow been secretly eavesdropping on people despite the increasingly strict privacy controls built into Android and iOS, the torrent of leaks out of Facebook over the last year that have yet to reveal such a thing, and the utter insanity of trying this kind of privacy violation after so many governments have taken an intense interest in Facebook’s conduct.

Weekly output: Flash, Android tablets, SOPA, Microsoft stores, Metro

News flash: I haven’t been writing as often here. That’s a logical outcome of having more places willing to pay me to write, but at the same time I feel like I’m committing a blogging foul by letting this go dark for a week or two at a stretch. At the same time, I’ve realized that keeping up with my scattered output can’t be that easy for interested readers–I can’t always remember what I’ve written over the last two weeks.

(I point to my work on Twitter and my Facebook page, but good luck finding those links later on at either site.)

So I’m going to do a post each week wrapping up my work. That will ensure there’s something new here each week, and it will give me a spot to share some insights about how each post/article/Q&A/podcast/speech/interpretive dance/etc. came to be. (Credit for this idea and the structure I’m using goes to Brett Snyder’s Cranky Flier blog, which runs a “Cranky on the Web” post each Saturday noting where he’s written or been quoted.) Yes, the fact that this exercise may better promote my work and myself has not escaped my attention.

Nov. 15: “Fading Flash And Other Media Missteps,” CEA Tech Enthusiast (subscription required) CEA Digital Dialogue

A follow-up to an earlier post on Discovery News about Adobe’s decision to stop developing mobile versions of its Flash Player, in which I note some possible downsides of having to rely on a universe of apps for name-brand video on mobile devices and other non-computer gadgets.

Nov. 16:  “Why Android Tablets Can’t Catch A Break,” Discovery News

I’d meant to write this review of the Vizio Tablet earlier, but other events kept bumping it aside. The upside of that was that I could incorporate some extended observations of Vizio’s marketing and the broader state of the tablet market into the piece.

Nov. 18: “Online Piracy Act Is Copyright Overreach,” Roll Call

This is an updated version of a post I did for Tech Enthusiast two weeks earlier. CEA–no fan of the Stop Online Piracy Act–wanted to get the post a broader audience and sold Roll Call on running it. (CEA and I came to our dislikes of this foolish bill separately, but I don’t mind their efforts resulting in my first print appearance since April.)

Nov. 19: “A Store That’s The Apple of Microsoft’s Eye,” Discovery News

I trekked out to Tysons Corner to see Microsoft open its 14th retail store, the first anywhere along the Northeast Corridor. My first impression was probably yours: It’s a lot like Apple’s stores. My second: The Microsoft Store presents a tough critique of the PC business as we’ve known it.

Nov. 19: “How D.C.’s Metro Opened Up Its Data,” ReadWriteWeb

I started this post months ago; after my editor told me “no rush here,” I took advantage of a liberal deadline to over-report the piece. So, please, ask me an obscure question about Metro, transit-data feeds or mapping applications.

Updated 1/31/2012 with links to non-paywalled versions of the Tech Enthusiast links.