Weekly output: smartphone plans, online misinformation, Twitter perceptions, SpaceX Starship, cord cutting stats, online-privacy bill

I have a short workweek followed by my first family-reunion Thanksgiving in two years.

Patreon readers got an extra post this week: a look at my attempts to ensure that the panels on which I speak aren’t filled out by people who look more or less like me.

Wirecutter phone-plans guide, as seen in Chrome on a Pixel 3a Android phone11/15/2021 The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

This update–the first substantial revision to this guide since the summer of 2020–should not have taken this long, but it’s been a trying year for everybody.

11/15/2021: How Do You Combat Online Misinformation? Katie Couric, Prince Harry Have Some Ideas, PCMag

I wrote about a report on online misinformation from an unusual group of experts.

11/15/2021: We Read Twitter for Entertainment, Trust It for News (Unless We Vote Republican), PCMag

This post covered a pair of Pew Research Center studies about people’s attitudes towards Twitter. The most susprising finding: how many Twitter users misunderstood their own privacy settings.

11/18/2021: Elon Musk’s Starship rocket may launch to orbit in January, Fast Company

The SpaceX founder was scheduled to speak for 30 minutes but spent more than twice as much time at this virtual National Academy of Science meeting. I could have filed a vastly longer story, but I didn’t want to write myself into a bad per-word rate.

11/18/2021: Cord Cutting’s Latest Toll: 1.34 Million Legacy Pay-TV Subscribers Gone, PCMag

I decided to write up this report on pay-TV subscriptions by comparing the numbers involved to cities. Hence: “The top seven cable operators combined to lose 700,500 subscribers, a figure you may find easier to visualize as ‘almost the population of Denver’.”

11/19/2021: Who Owns Your Data? Calif. Congresswomen Try Again With Online Privacy Act, PCMag

The Online Privacy Act reintroduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D.-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif.) seems to get a lot of things right, but it lands in a Congress that seems singularly incapable of passing even incremental privacy upgrades.

Weekly output: debating privacy regulation, United same-day changes

I feel bad for being so checked out of the NCAA tournament, but once again, my Hoyas have no part in March Madness. My wife’s Hoos are in it, having managed to avoid repeating last year’s improbable first-round collapse–yet I’m still a little leery about getting too invested.

3/19/2019: Approaches to Regulating Technology—From Privacy to A.I., American Action Forum

I debated possible regulatory strategies for protecting privacy with the Charles Koch Institute’s Neil Chilson, the Niskanen Center’s Ryan Hagemann, and the George Mason University Mercatus Center’s Jennifer Huddleston. My fellow speakers suggested that we didn’t really need a new batch of data-protection laws along the lines of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or the California Consumer Privacy Act, which struck me as an exceedingly optimistic perspective to hold after a year of bad news about Facebook’s privacy failings. But they could very well be right in suggesting that Congress won’t get it together to pass any such bill this year.

3/20/2019: A Comprehensive Guide to United Airlines’ Same Day Flight Change, The Points Guy

I wrote this to share one of the best travel hacks I’ve learned over the past several years: the generous and free same-day change policy at United Airlines, which Gold and higher elites can use to revise itineraries to a remarkably degree starting within 24 hours of departure.

Updated 4/30 because, um, I missed the SDC story when it was published.