Weekly output: Nokia 900, podcast, Fuji FinePix XP170, Web chat, This Week in Law, Reddit

Lest this list give too generous an idea of my recent productivity, remember that I filed the first two items earlier.

7/17/2012: Review: Nokia’s Lumia 900 already feels outdated, CNNMoney.com

In my second long-term evaluation for CNNMoney after May’s reassessment of the Kindle Fire, I took a look at Nokia’s Lumia 900 and what it’s done for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. The biggest difference between this piece and the review I did for Discovery News when the phone debuted in April: Microsoft’s announcement that the phone would not get an update to Windows Phone 8, which made Nokia’s “beta test” ads look dumb overnight.

7/17/2012: Rob’s “June” Podcast: Getting Silicon Valley To Talk To Washington, CEA Digital Dialogue

The quotes are required because this interview with Engine Advocacy’s Michael McGeary got held up by, in succession, travel, technical problems trying to record a Skype interview on my laptop, the derecho and the general scheduling chaos of the July 4 week. Then it got lost in the shuffle at CEA. But anyway… Mike’s one of the tech-policy types I enjoy talking shop with, and I think you can tell that from the interview.

7/18/2012: How A Shockproof Camera Knocked Itself Out, Discovery News

Surprise, surprise: yet another dismal review of a digital camera. This time around, I liked this Fuji’s rugged nature–the photo that leads off the review shows the camera immersed in my kitchen sink, with one of my daughter’s rubber duckies floating above it–but did not appreciate its clumsy WiFi Direct photo-transfer feature. I was further annoyed by the sloppiness on display in its interface and design, like having it beep by default every time you touch a button or including yet another proprietary USB cable. And this one did not take exceptional pictures, as you can see in the Flickr set of its output.

7/20/2012: Live Chat Today: Travel Talk, CEA Digital Dialogue

We opted for ScribbleLive for the chat, mostly for a reason I hadn’t thought of when I discussed our chat options on Monday: A large chunk of the potential readership would be at work and not in the best position to play video or run a webcam, which weighed against doing a Google+ Hangout On Air. The chat got off to a slow start, thanks in part to some rookie configuration errors on our end, but I did have fun and think we can work with this software.

7/20/2012: #171: Printing Friends and Influencing People, This Week in Law

I returned to TWiT.tv’s “TWiL” a month after my debut there to discuss a grab-bag of tech-policy topics: the prospects for cheap, widespread 3-D printing; a new intellectual-property bill that is not the second coming of SOPA; who much data the Feds have been collecting from wireless carriers; and the new face-blurring option on YouTube intended to protect dissidents. My conversation with hosts Denise Howell and Evan Brown and Public Knowledge attorney Michael Weinberg was briefly interrupted by a Skype dropout; I’m not sure if I should blame Skype or the increasingly erratic Actiontec router that came with my Verizon Fios connection.

7/20/2012: Redditors Bear Witness To Aurora Shooting, Discovery News

After reading an arresting firsthand account of Friday morning’s horrific shootings in Aurora, Colo., on Reddit, I quickly accepted an editor’s invitation to write about that. As i started putting together this post, I remembered my first mention of that site: a Post column that noted how it had become an interesting place for people to discuss news posted elsewhere. At that time, I had no idea that Reddit could become a new journalistic outlet in its own right.

Afterwards, I wanted to write a personal follow-up here noting the oddity of steadily loosening gun regulations while these mass shootings keep happening, but I ran out of time on Friday. Fair warning: You may yet read a post like that here.

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When review hardware goes bad

I hate it when this happens.

ImageThe low-battery logo you see at right comes from the screen of the Nokia Lumia 900 that I reviewed last week. That–and the AT&T logo it occasionally gets stuck on as the phone attempts to boot–represent the only signs of life this review model has shown since the weekend.

What I thought was an isolated charging problem–I was foolishly extrapolating from a gripe in TechnoBuffalo’s review about the phone not charging when powered off–seems to be a more serious issue, well beyond my ability to fix.

(No, I can’t pop out the battery; it’s sealed inside the 900’s case. The force-rebooting techniques suggested by Nokia PR haven’t worked either.)

In case you were convinced that all loaner hardware has been carefully inspected, massaged and polished to rule out any chance of failure, consider this as contrary proof. And it’s not even the first time this year I’ve had a loaner device go sideways; the Galaxy Nexus provided by Verizon drained its battery at a frightening rate with WiFi active and somehow saved a few photos without the usual timestamp.

Nokia says they’ll replace the defective phone, but in the bargain I have to count on them to wipe my info from the device. Not that I don’t trust them to do that–but I’m a lot more comfortable when review hardware heads home without any of my personal data on board.

This also means that if you come to my CEA Web chat–noon to 1 p.m. Eastern on this Friday April 13–with questions about the Nokia 900 or Windows Phone 7, I may have to wing some of my answers. But please stop by anyway.

Weekly output: podcast, software updates, Nokia 900, Flashback and Java, Google seach tools

Can I count the hours I’ve put into getting my business expenses properly itemized and categorized for my taxes as part of this week’s work? Sure I can.

4/3/2012: Rob’s March Podcast: Sourcing, RIM Shot, Windows 8, “Free” 4G, CEA Digital Dialogue

In this month’s episode, I interview ABC News tech correspondent Andrea Smith about such recent tech tidings as Research In Motion’s travails, Microsoft’s Windows 8 preview release and NetZero’s semi-free 4G wireless service. I also update some of my recent CEA posts–in particular, the item I wrote about outsourced manufacturing. (I’d hoped that talking to a radio and TV pro would make editing the podcast easy, but then I had to work around some Skype dropouts anyway. Sigh.)

4/4/2012: Software-Update Policies Could Use An Upgrade, CEA Digital Dialogue

I didn’t want to write yet another post about the problem of smartphone manufacturers and carriers ending software updates for phones that are still under contract–but how could I not after comparing that example to the two years of free updates my TV received, or Microsoft’s 13-year commitment to Windows XP?

4/6/2012: Nokia’s Lumia 900: A New Deal For Smartphones, Discovery News

I expected good things from this phone after briefly inspecting it at CES and seeing the overall progress of Windows Phone 7. The results I saw don’t match up–especially the bizarre charging problem I encountered just before filing the piece, but also a continued shortage of quality apps even after Microsoft has thrown money at the problem. And yet: After all the issues I’ve enumerated with the iPhone and Android, I want a viable third option.

(I’m still waiting for confirmation from other Nokia 900 users of that charging issue–and for comments about the tax-prep commentary I hid in the photo I took for this review.)

4/5/2012: Secure your Mac from Flashback infection, USA Today

This post advocating disabling or removing Java went up a couple of days earlier than usual, on account of the scope of the Flashback drive-by-download problem on Macs. I take no pleasure in noting that I predicted something like this last May… okay, I take a little pleasure in that. The column also offers a reminder about a helpful but somewhat-hidden search option at Google. I was flattered to see it get a prominent spot on USAT’s home page and show up as the most-read story Saturday morning, as you can see in the screenshot at left.

And one more thing: Happy Easter!