Weekly output: smart cities, Bowie Seniors Computer Club, Twitter hack (x2)

Baseball will allegedly return Thursday with the Nationals’ home opener against the Yankees. Six months ago, I was looking forward to being on the stands on Opening Day to see the Nats hoist a World Series championship banner–and now the prospect of baseball coming back seems divorced from reality.

7/13/2020: Keeping an Eye on Privacy as Cities Get Smarter, Urban Land

I wrote this recap of smart-cities technology seen at CES month ago, but the coronavirus pandemic upended the publication schedule at the Urban Land Institute’s magazine. Note that the site will ask you to provide an e-mail address for a newsletter subscription to read this piece, but you don’t have to confirm your signup before reading.

7/16/2020: July 16 Zoom meeting, Bowie Seniors Computer Club

I got a message through the contact form here–yes, I really do read those–from one of the people running the user group that had hosted me for a talk back in 2009. I said I’d be delighted to return, even if only in video form, and I wound up spending much more time than I’d expected talking about my post-Post freelance career, the state of tech journalism, and the role of travel to tech events in my work these days.

7/16/2020: Twitter hacking, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on live a couple of times to talk about the previous day’s takeovers of a grab-bag of big-name Twitter accounts for no apparent purpose but broadcasting a cheap Bitcoin scam from such high-profile accounts as Apple, Uber, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Joe Biden.

Weekly output: Mat Honan, Mike Daisey, pausing telecom service, “Free Public WiFi”

Two of this week’s posts involved other people’s stories–either adding context to them or critiquing the storytelling itself. (I also filed one post and a podcast for CEA, but they haven’t gone up yet. I’m blaming the fact that it’s August in D.C.)

8/8/2012: Hacking Nightmare Comes True: Mat Honan’s Story, Discovery News

After reading Wired writer Mat Honan’s Tumblr post about how hackers had hijacked his iCloud and Twitter accounts, deleted his Google account and remote-wiped his iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air, I wanted to know how such a thing could be possible. After reading his explanation of the hack on Wired.com, I wanted to write about it myself–both to yell at Amazon and Apple for their (now fixed) security flaws that enabled the hack, and to remind readers of what they can to prevent the same thing from happening to them. It helped to talk to Honan over the phone on Tuesday morning and hear the stress and anger in his voice. (I enjoy Honan’s work, and he and I were on a radio show once, but I don’t think we’ve met face to face.)

8/8/2012: How Mike Daisey retooled The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Ars Technica

Some 17 months after I first saw Daisey’s monologue about Apple, I returned to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in downtown D.C. to catch the 2.0 version, stripped of the material he fabricated earlier about Apple’s outsourced manufacturing in China. This was the first time in years that I’d taken notes on a paper notepad (the prior item in this one was a set of questions I jotted down for a video interview with Steve Wozniak I did for the Post in late 2009).

It was also the first time in a while that the subject of a review wrote back to me. Maybe an hour after this post went up, Daisey e-mailed to contest my interpretation. He said I made him sound too trusting in the New York Times’ reporting and didn’t give him enough credit for addressing some of the related issues I mentioned in this piece in the program handed out to attendees. I replied that those were my reactions, as jotted down in real time in the dark; they may not be a correct interpretation, but the review is supposed to reflect what I thought at the time.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the comments from Ars readers were far less sympathetic to Daisey’s case.

8/12/2012: How to pause cable, phone services, USA Today

I thought a reader’s question about whether he could suspend his Internet, TV and phone services while away from home would make for a nice, easy, “it’s August in D.C. and nobody wants to work too hard” item. Wrong. Some telecom firms have multiple policies that vary by region. The piece also reminds readers that the “Free Public WiFi” hot spot you might see is an artifact of a patched Windows XP bug. (Yes, you’ve read that from me before: I covered it in a 2009 article for the Post.)