Weekly output: Chris Vickery, post-phishing advice, hyperloop competition

It was a back-to-work week after the previous week’s time off. In addition to what you see here, I filed a USA Today column that should go up tomorrow morning and a thousand-word feature that won’t run for a few more weeks.

8/15/2017: How companies leave your data online without your knowledge, Yahoo Finance

This post was the product of my one work appointment while on vacation in the Bay Area, a conversation with data-breach detective Chris Vickery.

8/17/2017: These college students are vying to build Elon Musk’s hyperloop, Yahoo Finance

I drove up to College Park Tuesday morning to see the test hyperloop pod that this UMD team is taking to a SpaceX-hosted hyperloop competition at the end of this month, then used part of my resulting writeup to discuss the overall feasibility of the hyperloop concept for transporting people. In the process, I got to employ a quote that I’ve had sitting in Evernote since last November.

8/18/2017: You got phished. Now what?, USA Today

This ran about a week after I filed it, thanks to my original e-mail not being addressed to the right editor and the right editor a) missing my re-send of that e-mail and b) being really busy. Fortunately, phishing and e-mail security in general are both evergreen topics, so this summary of the advice I gave to a friend’s dad was at no real risk of getting scooped.

 

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Weekly output: CES recap, United fleet site, cybersecurity coverage, wireless phone plans, inauguration wireless coverage, T-Mobile One alternatives

I got a little extra publicity this week from the Columbia Journalism Review when its editors illustrated their open letter to President Trump from the White House press corps with a photo I took of the White House press briefing room. It’s been flattering to see that people actually read photo credits! I would have liked to see CJR link to the original–I believe that’s a condition of the Creative Commons non-commercial-use-allowed license under which I shared it on Flickr–but the reply I got was that their CMS doesn’t support links in photo credits.

That photo, incidentally, comes from 2014’s White House Maker Faire–exactly the sort of event I don’t expect to get invited to over the next four years.

1/17/2017: Techdirt Podcast Episode 105: The CES 2017 Post-Mortem, Techdirt

I talked with Techdirt founder Mike Masnick about my experience at this year’s show. I did the interview using a podcasting Web app I hadn’t tried before, Cast. My verdict: great UX, but that name is horrible SEO.

Screenshot of Air & Space story1/18/2017: Get to Know Your Airliner, Air & Space Magazine

I finally wrote a story for a magazine I’ve been reading on and off since high school, which is pretty great. The subject: the United Airlines Fleet Website, a remarkably useful volunteer-run database of United planes that I’ve gotten in the habit of checking before every UA flight. The story should also be in the February issue, available at newsstands in the next few days.

1/18/2017: What you should really know about every major hacking story, Yahoo Finance

I put on my media-critic hat to write this post about what too many cybersecurity pieces–and too many mass-media conversations on the subject, up to and including those started by Donald Trump–get wrong.

1/19/2017: The Best Cell Phone Plans, The Wirecutter

We decided last summer that having separate guides for the four major wireless carriers and for prepaid and resold phone plans didn’t help readers who should be considering all of their options. That also imposed extra work on me. The result: a single guide that’s much shorter and will be easier to update the next time, say, Sprint rolls out some new price plans.

1/19/2017: How carriers will keep D.C. online during Trump’s inauguration, Yahoo Finance

The real test of the big four networks came not during President Trump’s under-attended inauguration but the Women’s March on Washingtoh the next day. To judge from the experience of my wife and others, the carriers did not acquit themselves too well: Her Verizon iPhone lost data service for part of the day, and I saw friends posting on Facebook that they couldn’t get photos to upload.

1/22/2017: Am I stuck with T-Mobile’s flagship plan?, USA Today

T-Mobile’s decision to limit its postpaid offerings to the unmetered-but-not-unlimited T-Mobile One gave me an opportunity to provide a quick tutorial on the differences between postpaid, prepaid and resold services.

Weekly output: Chromecast tips, GM and the DMCA, Google I/O, online security, landline number portability via VoIP

I had a fun and productive stay in San Francisco for Google I/O, then started a day of travel home that became a day and a half. And it was basically my fault for being a greedy avgeek. Instead of booking a nonstop back to National or Dulles, I opted to connect through Houston so I could get a belated introduction to the Boeing 787 on the first leg–and, I figured, have the extra capacity of a widebody plane on a domestic route lead to my upgrade clearing.

That left me with a tight connection before the last flight to National, and I’d thought that my big risk was getting into IAH too late for that departure. Instead, the latest in a series of storms pounded the Houston area, forced planes to divert hundreds of miles away, and led too many pilots to time-out. My brittle connection finally crumbled when United acknowledged reality and cancelled the DCA flight at around 10:30, I grabbed a reasonably cheap hotel room nearby, and I got home after 4 this afternoon. Oh, and my upgrade didn’t clear on the 787. Not my smartest travel hacking ever.

5/25/2015: How to watch your own videos on Chromecast, USA Today

My editor decided to run this column on Monday of the Memorial Day weekend instead of Sunday. That, in turn, meant I could devote Sunday to holiday pursuits instead of taking time to market the piece on social media.

5/26/2015: General Motors: Don’t Touch Your Car’s Software, Yahoo Tech

I’d planned on writing about this year’s round of requests for exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention clause later this year, but there was enough interest in a proposal to legalize tinkering with the embedded software on cars that I had to go ahead with the column. Short version of the ensuing reader feedback: You all trust GM about as far as you can throw it.

Yahoo Tech 2015 Google-keynote post5/28/2015: Cut From Google I/O: What Didn’t Make the Stage, Yahoo Tech

After the opening keynote to Google’s I/O conference wrapped up, I wrote this recap of the things that Google executives didn’t mention in that two-plus-hour presentation. I hope somebody does the same for the keynote at Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference.

2/29/2015: Google’s Security News: Malware’s Down, and You’re Heeding More of Its Warnings, Yahoo Tech

My editor at Yahoo Tech suggested I check out this half-hour presentation by Google’s Stephan Somogyi about its security efforts, and I’m glad I took his advice. He shared some fascinating details about how security warnings fare when read by distracted humans who are apparently feeling lucky all the time.

5/31/2015: Want to move your home number? Take it to the Web, USA Today

The question that led to this column about using Internet-calling services to move a landline number to another area came from a reader of my May 11 piece about the demise of Sprint’s WiMax wireless broadband–see, I do read my e-mail! It also gave me an overdue incentive to start testing some home-phone VoIP hardware I’ve had sitting around for a while.

Weekly output: online banking

A week split in half by a national holiday means I don’t have much to show for my work this time around. Don’t expect much over the coming week either–although I will be working on stories you’ll see later.

USAT online-banking column12/29/2013: Tip: How to bank safely online at home, USA Today

A reader asked one of those questions that seemed simple but unfolded to reveal enough other wrinkles to make for an interesting column to write. This post also gave me a chance to scold the big banks for not embracing two-step verification.

On Sulia, I shared details about two episodes of holiday tech support (one involving Time Machine’s inexplicable failure to clear old backups, another an aging AirPort’s apparent breakdown), pointed readers to a wonderful NASA recreation of Apollo 8’s unlikely “Earthrise” photo, panned Dave Eggers’ dystopian novel “The Circle” as “Atlas Shrugged” 2.0, and wrote up my first impressions of my in-laws’ Fiat 500e electric car.