Weekly output: OurStreets for groceries, browser choices and sports-network fees, coronavirus effects on tech

In a fit of optimism two weeks ago, I put together a panel proposal for this fall’s Online News Association conference–which, at the rate things are going, could be my next business trip if I even go anywhere for work over the rest of this year. Over at Patreon, I wrote a post Tuesday for subscribers about how I put together this pitch and recruited two other panelists for it.

4/28/2020: Can’t find toilet paper, eggs, or flour? This app knows where to go, Fast Company

I wrote about the reincarnation of an app that I’d covered first in January as a tool to report bad behavior by drivers. OurStreets now delivers crowd-sourced intelligence about the availability of such staples as toilet paper, bread, milk, eggs and flour. It’s done that impressively well around D.C. in my own experience, but in other cities it’s yet to see the same shopper pickup. (I have to credit my editor Harry McCracken for asking me to go into more detail about this app’s slower adoption outside its launch market of the greater Washington area.)

4/28/2020: This Morning with Gordon Deal April 28, 2020, This Morning With Gordon Deal

I was on this business-news radio show to talk about my USA Today columns on desktop browser choices and sports-network fees on pay TV.

4/30/2020: Moor Insights & Strategy Podcast (4-30-20), Mark Vena

I joined my analyst pal’s podcast with fellow tech freelancers John Quain and Stewart Wolpin to talk about working from home and when we’ll ever get to meet in person again at some tech event. Appropriately enough, our conversation about using collaborative tools to work remotely got interrupted when Stewart mysteriously dropped off the Zoom call.

Weekly output: sports-network fees without sports, astroturfed “reopen” domains

My home-baking experience has gotten more analog this week after our beloved and much-used KitchenAid stand mixer fell off a counter and took enough damage to break some non-user-accessible part of its motor. After hand-kneading the dough for two loaves of bread, a pizza crust and a batch of English muffins, I can report that old-school baking provides a decent upper-arm workout.

4/26/2020: How sporting is this? Sports-network fees stay in the pay-TV lineup despite no live action, USA Today

If you were hoping one tiny upside of the novel-coronavirus pandemic would be a break from regional-sports-network fees on your TV bill, you’re going to have to wait for the leagues involved to announce formally that their 2020 season either won’t happen or will be cut back by a large and defined margin. Sorry!

4/26/2020: Suspicious “reopen” domain names, Al Jazeera

I appeared via Skype on the Arabic-language news network to discuss reports from Domain Tools and my old Post pal Brian Krebs that many of the sites suddenly created to urge reopening the U.S. from coronavirus lockdown were actually created by the same set of sketchy right-wing activists. This led me to ask my producer in AJ’s D.C. bureau how you’d say “astroturfing” in Arabic; he said the closest thing would be “التنجيم” (pronounced “tanjeem”), which apparently has a dictionary translation of “astrology” but has lately picked up other meanings.