Weekly output: net neutrality (x2), Nexus 6, connected-car privacy, Nexus lineup, Comcast fees

If only I could look this productive every week… note that all this happened with two travel days and a conference eating up my schedule, and that I filed another piece on Friday that hasn’t run yet.

11/11/2014: 5 Things to Know About Obama’s Net-Neutrality Push, Yahoo Tech

I enjoyed taking the close-up photo of an Ethernet cable that illustrates this post, and then I was pleasantly relieved not to see the comments immediately overrun with denunciations of net neutrality based on it being something President Obama supports.

11/11/2014: Beyond Email: 3 Innovative Communication Tools for Your Team, CyberCoders

My friend Andrea Smith quoted me a few times in this piece about collaborative apps used by geographically distributed workers to coordinate their work; appropriately enough, HipChat is one tab away from her story in my browser as I type this.

11/12/2014: Net neutrality, The Bill Press Show

An 8:30 am. East Coast radio interview was no problem the day after I flew to San Francisco, since jet lag had me awake around 4:30 a.m. local time. (Time-zone disruption was a bigger problem than usual on this trip; even Saturday morning, when I was thoroughly worn down from the week, I still found myself awake before 7 a.m. Ugh.)

11/12/2014: Nexus 6 review: Stop the screen-specs madness, VentureBeat

This phone bothered me more than I thought it would. Both the enormous screen and its beyond-human-vision pixel density strike me as the tech industry at its worst, chasing specs with inadequate attention to their real-world benefits.

11/12/2014: Privacy on the Road: A Conversation about Connected Cars, Privacy Identity Innovation

My interview with Catherine McCullough, executive director of the Intelligent Car Coalition, was scheduled for one of the trickier timeslots at a conference: immediately before the reception. I think we did okay; when they post video of this, you can judge for yourself 12/14/2014: see for yourself.

Boing Boing Nexus 2014 review11/13/2014: The new Nexus lineup is weak, Boing Boing

I enjoyed getting a chance to review the same devices for a different site and a different audience. Check out the comments for some detailed back-and-forth about this year’s crop of Nexus devices.

11/16/2014: Comcast changes tune on ‘change of service’ fee, USA Today

I was scrounging around for a suitable column topic when a reader’s tweet about getting hit with a fee by Comcast for the privilege of canceling his service solved that problem for me. I hope, in turn, that my spotlighting this issue helps solve my reader’s problem.

Updated 11:57 p.m. to include Andrea Smith’s piece about collaboration tools. I knew I was leaving something out the first time around…

The fable of the one-handed phablet

For most of the last three years, I have been fighting a battle against “phablets” and losing it badly. Not only have people flocked to buy supersized phones after each negative review I hand down, the dimensions of these displays have steadily crept up.

Phone size inflationThe 5.3-inch screen of the first Samsung Galaxy Note, the one that I mocked at the time for its enormousness, now ranks as just a bit over medium-sized. And that 2012-vintage hardware seems positively compact next to the 5.5-in. LCD of the iPhone 6 Plus, the 5.7-in. screen of the Galaxy Note 4 and the 5.96-in. display on Google’s upcoming Nexus 6.

Minimum sizes have gone up too. The 4.7-in. touchscreen on my Nexus 4 once seemed quite the expanse of glass but is now approaching minimum-viable-product material.

All along, my core complaint against enormophones hasn’t changed: How do you use these things single-handed? Here are some common situations where it’s difficult or impossible to wield a phone with both hands:

  • Holding a shopping basket at a store
  • Pushing a stroller
  • Wheeling your luggage through an airport
  • Standing in a train or bus and holding on to a handrail or stanchion
  • Eating a slice of pizza or other no-utensils-needed food
  • Standing in a coffee shop, bar or restaurant with a beverage in one hand
  • Holding your child’s hand
  • Walking a pet

And no, wearing a smartwatch doesn’t help unless you’re willing to annoy everybody around you by issuing voice commands to your computer of a chronograph.

But with millions of people choosing to pay what’s often a non-trivial price premium for plus-sized phones, I have to allow for me being the person who doesn’t get it.

So I’ll ask this: If you have a phone with screen that exceeds five inches across, how do you work its touchscreen when you don’t have both hands free? Has the act of tilting the phone in your hand to let your thumb reach a corner become so natural that you no longer notice, do you put down or let go whatever has your other hand occupied, or is there some other trick I’ve been missing?