Weekly output: social-media misinformation, Comcast voice remote vulnerability, Cambridge Analytica, T-Mobile 5G, phone plans

I had at least one work event on my calendar each workday of this week, which has not happened in quite some time. Since CES, to be exact.

10/6/2020: Social-media misinformation, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language network had me on for half an hour to talk, once again, about governments staging misinformation campaigns on Twitter and other social networks. 

10/7/2020: Hackers could have used Comcast’s XR11 voice remote to spy on homes, Fast Company

The security firm Guardicore figured out how to load malware onto a widely-used Comcast remote control that would turn its voice input into a remote eavesdropping tool–and then Comcast promptly responded to their disclosure and fixed the flaws that made this possible. 

10/8/2020: The Real Problem Wasn’t Cambridge Analytica, But The Data Brokers That Outlived It, Forbes

An online talk by David Carroll, the New York professor who went to court in the U.K. to try to force Cambridge Analytica to disclose what data it had collected about him, gave me an opportunity to revisit everybody’s least favorite political consultancy.

10/9/2020: T-Mobile’s 5G sales pitch continues to miss on mid-band , Fierce Wireless

T-Mobile staged a bit of a dog-and-pony show for journalists about its wireless ambitions that had some entertaining moments but left some big questions about its 5G strategy unanswered. 

10/9/2020: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

I updated this guide to cover slight changes to the “unlimited” plans at Verizon, Mint Mobile’s new “unlimited” plan, Cricket’s addition of a 5G plan, the Verizon prepaid brand Visible, and a set of simpler plans at TracFone.

Weekly output: 5G frequency farming, delivery robots, Blacklight privacy assessment of Forbes, pay-TV apps

My major non-work accomplishment this week: voting. The ballot I filled out Monday represented my earliest ever vote in a presidential election. And my easiest choice ever.

9/21/2020: Faster 5G is on its way, and here’s how we’ll get it, Fast Company

This explainer about the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to free up more mid-band 5G spectrum kicked off a useful Twitter conversation about phone compatibility when PCMag’s Sascha Segan questioned the willingness of the carriers to certify existing phones to use on these upcoming 5G bands.

9/22/2020: Contactless delivery robots may soon hit a sidewalk near you, Fast Company

Writing this piece allowed me to circle back to some of the same experts I’d consulted for two earlier features on smart cities for the Urban Land Institute’s magazine.

9/23/2020: A Privacy Watchdog Built A Tool To Show How Sites Track You. Here’s What It Says About Us., Forbes

When the privacy-focused news site The Markup released a Web tool called Blacklight to inspect the tracking practices at news sites, I had to point it at the site where I do most of my writing about media issues these days. The results were not flattering for Forbes. As for this blog, Blacklight found 12 ad trackers and 23 third-party cookies just now but no other tracking–thanks in part to my removing Facebook widgets from here.

9/27/2020: Do you really need to rent a cable box? No, there’s an app for that, USA Today

I revisited an issue I’d last covered in 2017 and was pleased to find serious progress among major TV providers in providing apps that can take the place of rented boxes–especially Comcast, the biggest of them all.

Updated 9/28/2020 to fix a broken link.