Weekly output: 5G patents, Shazam suggests local concerts, quantum computing, smartphone plans, Mark Vena podcast, Russian hacking

This event treated me to not one but two conferences in D.C.–Satellite 2022 at the convention center, then ShmooCon at the Washington Hilton. I can’t remember when I last used Capital Bikeshare every workday in a week, but it can’t have been more recently than 2019.

Patreon readers got a bonus this week: a recap of my attempt to figure out how a reader’s wife’s browsing activity could have landed a PayPal promotional e-mail in his inbox.

3/22/2022: USPTO study: Everyone’s a winner in 5G patents, Light Reading

I wrote a couple of quick posts last week for my telecom trade-pub client to cover for an editor finally taking a vacation. This one poked yet another hole in the useless “race to 5G” trope.

Screenshot of story as seen in Safari on an iPad; it's illustrated with a photo of a band on stage3/22/2022: Shazam Now Suggests Nearby Concerts, PCMag

Writing this post about how the Apple-owned song-identification app will now show nearby concerts of the artists it recognizes made me miss seeing bands play live. By which I mean, seeing bands play live at Iota.

3/23/2022: Telecom needs to get ready for quantum computing, report warns, Light Reading

I don’t usually write about quantum computing, so this was a neat departure from the usual.

3/24/2022: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

The latest update to the guide that I started working on more than eight years ago covers 5G improvements at AT&T and Verizon, updates to Verizon’s unlimited offerings, and advice about 3G shutdowns at the big three carriers.

3/24/2022: S02 E13 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

I used my part of this industry analyst’s podcast (also available in video form) to talk about the space-tourism possibilities I heard about at Satellite 2022.

3/25/2022: Department of Justice Reminds Us Russian Hackers Are a Serious Threat, PCMag

The DOJ’s unsealing of two indictments returned last year against Russian government employees came with a reminder to U.S. companies to step up their  own security efforts. Conveniently enough, two ShmooCon speakers had talked the night before about Washington’s latest attempts to warn American firms about Russian hacking, so I ended the post by quoting them.

Updated 3/29/2022 to add the Wirecutter update that had escaped my attention (by which I mean a Google search Sunday for mentions of my name in the last week didn’t surface it). 

Weekly output: spotting fakes in e-mails and text messages

Spending most of this week knocked out by a cold had the predictable effects on my productivity, but at least my schedule was clear. That’s not the case this week, which features one day in which I won’t be able to do any work between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.–Tuesday, when I’ll be working as an election officer for Arlington.

2/25/2020: Here’s how hard it is to spot a fake email address or phone number, Fast Company

This post started with an interesting talk I saw at the ShmooCon security conference at the start of February. I’d meant to write up this EmailRep system for automatically rating the credibility of e-mail addresses right after, but breaking news kept intruding. That worked out in okay when a pitch from an old PR rep about did not land in my inbox–because Google thought it belonged in my spam filter, thereby providing the perfect demonstration of how hard it can be for software to decide if an e-mail is suspicious or not.

Weekly output: #DIV/0!

For the first time since two Augusts ago, I have no new bylines in a week. I did file one story, not yet posted, and get much of the reporting done for two others–after losing much of the first two days from having our schools closed after last weekend’s snowstorm–but it’s still annoying to have this post equate to a divide-by-zero error.

And that happened even though I worked for a good chunk of this weekend: I spent most of Saturday at the Shmoocon cybersecurity conference in D.C. I connected with people much better-informed than me, picked up some useful insights that I hope to turn into a post, caught up with an old friend, and enjoyed spotting the hilarious National Security Agency recruitment ad pictured at right. (No, I did not plug in my phone.)

Having this con take place at the Washington Hilton provided a bonus level of amusement. I’ve been at the venue Washingtonians call the Hinckley Hilton for many other events, but none had involved so many people with hair dyed interesting colors and on-message t-shirts (e.g,, “Crypto means cryptography”). That was an excellent change-up from this hotel’s usual overdressed look.