Weekly output: Joe Rogan apology, Pozio Cradle, C-Band 5G and air safety (x2), broadband and real estate, foreign-app risks, Amazon earnings, competitiveness bill

One of this week’s stories is not like the others.

1/31/2022: Joe Rogan Apologizes (Sort Of) for Hosting Guests Who Spout Pandemic Misinformation, PCMag

I did a quick writeup of the podcast host’s quasi-apology and had to think about the complete absence of any such contrition at other places with a history of providing a platform for anti-vaccine quacks–like Substack and Fox News.

2/2/2022: What a phone-jamming cradle says about our privacy fears, Fast Company

After seeing the Pozio Cradle’s ability to jam a smartphone’s microphone demoed at CES, I had to put this thing through my own tests.

2/2/2022: More C-band uncertainties show up in 5G’s radar, Light Reading

One surprise in reporting this story about what might come next in the inter-industry dispute over possible interference with radio altimeters from C-Band 5G: Nobody I talked to could point to any confirmed cases of such interference happening.

2/2/2022: Resolving C-Band 5G Mess Will Take at Least Another Year, FAA Says, PCMag

Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson’s two-hour appearance at a House hearing yielded one bit of news: He doesn’t think we’ll have standards for C-Band-resistant altimeters until early 2023.

Photo of the story as it appeared in the Post's print edition Saturday2/3/2022: Does the home you want to buy have good high-speed Internet? You may have to do some sleuthing to find out., The Washington Post

After years of writing about the problem of inadequate rural broadband for other outlets, I finally thought to pitch my old shop on a feature unpacking this situation and offering advice to home shoppers. I’m glad I did: The piece ran as the cover story in Saturday’s Real Estate section, a few days after being published on the Post’s site.

2/3/2022: Commerce Department’s foreign-apps study, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me to discuss a Commerce initiative focused on the risks posed by apps that could be subverted by foreign adversaries–by which I mean, the hosts mostly asked me about TikTok.

2/3/2022: A limited media message in Amazon Q4 earnings: be content with our content, FierceVideo

I filled in at my trade-pub video client to cover Amazon’s latest earnings, which reminded me of how much effort Amazon is putting into original video and how little time I’ve been able to devote to watching that output.

2/4/2022: House OKs Sprawling Competition Bill That Aims to Boost US Chip Manufacturing, PCMag

The House passed a Christmas tree of a tech-competitiveness bill months after the Senate voted by larger margins for a narrower competition bill; this post noted one problematic component of the House bill that isn’t in the Senate legislation.

Weekly output: Google location-privacy lawsuit, C-Band 5G and aviation safety, Neil Young vs. Spotify, broadband nutrition labels, C-Band 5G explained

The traffic stats for my post about where I should move my home e-mail account once Google will start charging for it suggest I’m not alone in this confusion. Readers: story assignment received.

1/24/2022: Lawsuits Accuse Google of Surveilling Customers, Profiting From Their Data, PCMag

For once, a request for comment from a giant tech company accused of misconduct by multiple states yielded a data point I didn’t know before: At some recent point (Google hasn’t told me when), the company began limiting the accuracy of its location estimates for Web searches to a “general area” no smaller than one square mile.

Screenshot of Arirang's Global Insight page listing recent episodes, as seen on an Pixel 5a on T-Mobile 5G1/26/2022: What’s going on with 5G and flights?, Arirang TV

In what I’m pretty sure was my debut on Korean TV, this English-language news network had me on its Global Insight show to talk about the intersection of C-Band 5G wireless and aviation safety, as well as the broader picture for 5G in the U.S.

1/26/2022: Neil Young to Spotify: Since You Won’t Dump Joe Rogan, I’m Dumping You, PCMag

I would have written this faster if I hadn’t made a point of stuffing multiple references to Neil Young’s work into the post.

1/27/2022: FCC to Require ISPs to Post Broadband ‘Nutrition Labels’, PCMag

Almost six years after I wrote about an earlier attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to encourage Internet providers to list the basic parameters of their service in a nutrition-label format, the FCC voted to write rules making such a thing mandatory.

1/30/2022: What is C-Band? Here’s what a new 5G flavor means for AT&T and Verizon users, USA Today

This explainer about C-Band 5G offered advice about how to read Verizon’s 5G coverage map. It also shared some hope, possibly foolish hope, that these mid-band 5G frequencies can lead to a meaningful expansion of Americans’ choices in home broadband.

Weekly output: Spotify privacy, Halo’s 5G-powered car service, Internet providers

Our kid was out this week at camp, but in a few days it will be my turn to be out of the house: I’m doing some of the drive testing for this year’s edition of PCMag.com’s Fastest Mobile Networks guide. Yes, on the road for actual business travel.

7/7/2021: At Spotify, private listening is not a simple proposition, USA Today

I’ve had the idea for a while of a column unpacking the inconsistent and often unhelpful privacy settings in Spotify, but the chance to interview a Spotify executive for the virtual edition of Dublin Tech Summit last month gave me quotes to anchor the piece.

Screenshot of the Fast Company story on Halo as seen on an iPad mini.7/8/2021: This driverless car-sharing service uses remote human ‘pilots,’ not AI, Fast Company

I was supposed to write this story last month about the Halo car service and its use of T-Mobile 5G to have remotely-driven vehicles show up before car-share customers. But then T-Mobile said they wanted to push the embargo back; that gave me time to get an industry analyst’s perspective and write an explainer for Patreon supporters about PR embargoes.

7/8/2021: Internet Providers, U.S. News & World Report

My latest round of work at U.S. News–consisting of profiles of AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon; comparisons of Spectrum and AT&TComcast and AT&T, and Verizon and Spectrum; and guides to fiber broadband, cheaper Internet access, and ways to speed up your connection–was much more work than my previous efforts. That is mostly the fault of the many large Internet providers that show no interest in clearly displaying their prices, speeds and terms of service. Las Vegas hotels and their resort fees are models of transparency compared to this lot–although maybe I can’t be too cranky about their willful opacity, since it gave me the material for a USA Today column.

Weekly output: online privacy, in-person telecom events, Amazon Fire TV, mobile-broadband traffic, Discovery’s video plans, Spotify’s future, Philips and teleheath, HBO Max

This week was not like the 66 preceding weeks in that it involved a bar tab I could put on my business expenses–a reunion Saturday night of people connected with the debut of the Washington Post’s Web site 25 years before.

6/14/2021: Ways to Protect Your Identity From Cyber Attacks, Cheddar News

I talked to Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin about what I learned reporting the online-privacy story that the Verge ran a week ago. I appreciate how the screengrab at the right shows my fellow Jersey guy talking with his hands.

6/15/2021: The forecast for in-person telecom events: Expect a busy Q4, Light Reading

I talked to a variety of telecom trade associations about their plans for non-virtual events and came away with two conclusions: Q4 will be busy, but attendees at these conferences should not worry about having to show proof of vaccination. (Get your shot anyway.)

6/15/2021: Amazon Fire TV VP’s forecast includes news, games—and cars, FierceVideo

My trade-pub client asked me to cover three panels at their StreamTV Show. The first one featured Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi (a frequent source of mine) quizzing Amazon Fire TV vice president Daniel Rausch.

6/16/2021: New Ericsson report calls 46% data traffic growth ‘normal’, Light Reading

I wrote up the latest report from Ericsson about trends in the mobile-broadband business.

6/16/2021: Discovery exec talks cable+streaming math, FierceVideo

My second post for Fierce covered CNet’s Joan E. Solsman interviewing Discovery v.p. Lisa Holme about how that company (a long-ago client) aims to chase both streaming and cable/satellite viewers.

6/17/2021: Fireside: The Future of Audio, Dublin Tech Summit

I did two fireside-chat interviews for the virtual edition of Dublin Tech Summit, both recorded in advance. In this one, I asked Spotify consumer-experience vice president Sten Garmark about the audio-streaming service’s agenda and lobbed in a few feature requests of my own.

6/17/2021: Fireside: The End of the Waiting Room: Telehealth Brings the Doctor to your Living Room, Dublin Tech Summit

In my second DTS panel, I interviewed Deeptha Khanna, chief business leader for consumer health at Philips, about how that Dutch firm intends to square privacy and usability concerns with people’s desire not to get sick.

6/17/2021: HBO Max is going places, but at a measured pace, FierceVideo

Writing this StreamTV Show recap was a little humbling, in that interviewer Sara Fischer of Axios has somehow mastered the art of never glancing at notes during a virtual panel while still asking insightful questions of a subject like HBO Max executive vice president Sarah Lyons.

Weekly output: password managers, streaming-TV forecast, Limelight earnings, EU vs. Apple

The most important item on my calendar this week: getting my second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

Screengrab of story as shown in USAT's iPad app4/28/2021: A cheaper deal from Dashlane invites a new look at password managers, USA Today

Dashlane’s PR firm offered me an advance on their addition of a new, cheaper price plan, which I used as a news peg for an overview of the password-manager market.

4/29/2021: Expect To Spend More On Streaming Video Than On Traditional Pay TV By 2024: New Report, Forbes

I wrote up a Strategy Analytics report predicting a slow demise for pay TV as we’ve known it. Sports fans, take note of the streaming deal for Italy’s Liga Serie A that one SA analyst described for me.

4/30/2021: Limelight revenues drop and losses widen, FierceVideo

I filled in at this client to cover this content-delivery network firm’s disappointing earnings.

4/30/2021: EU’s Answer To Spotify’s Complaint: Apple’s Rules Have Consumers Losing Out, Forbes

Writing this post about the European Commission’s preliminary finding that Apple abused its App Store authority to suppress competition from Spotify took me back to 2011–when it already seemed obvious that Apple demanding a 30% share of in-app subscriptions while forbidding app developers from pointing iPhone and iPad users to their own payment systems represented an abuse of power.

Weekly output: Apple One, Apple’s September news, TikTok and WeChat ban, TikTok-Oracle deal

Having Apple news play such a large role in my work this week reminded me a little of older, perhaps simpler times. Having the Trump administration’s clumsy attempts to suppress TikTok and WeChat eat up much of the rest of the past several days made it clear that we live in different times.

9/15/2020: Apple As A Service: With Apple One, Life In Its Orbit Comes With A Monthly Price Tag, Forbes

My take on Apple’s venture into selling bundles of its services: By making iCloud backup the least-generous part of the two cheaper Apple One plans, Apple is putting the entertainment cart before the storage horse.

9/17/2020: SmartTechCheck Podcast (9-16-20), Mark Vena

I returned to the podcast of one of my tech-analyst friends to unpack Apple’s Tuesday announcements.

9/18/2020: Trump’s Partial TikTok And WeChat Ban Tip-Toes Into Chinese-Style Censorship, Forbes

In addition to letting me vent about the unhelpfulness of the Trump administration’s attempt to punish these two mobile apps, this post provided a useful demonstration of the limits of Twitter to promote a story. As in, having people with a combined follower total well into the hundreds of thousands tweet or retweet links to the post has yet to get its page-view total into four digits.

9/20/2020: What Trump’s TikTok deal means for privacy, Al Jazeera

I asked my interpreter upfront how you’d say “crony capitalism” in Arabic, and then the host only asked about what this deal would further protect the privacy of TikTok users. My answer: it doesn’t appear to do any such thing.

iTunes (2001-2019-ish)

With Monday’s news that Apple is finally retiring the Mac version of iTunes, there’s been a lot of “good riddance” chatter about the impending demise of this music/video/download-store/backup/kitchen-sink app.

I get it. For years, iTunes has been a glaring example of Apple forgetting one of Steve Jobs’ rules about the importance of saying no to things. But I also have a long history with this program–I’ve been using it continuously for as long as I have any app, maybe longer. And it hasn’t been all bad.

It’s easy to forget today how bad the music-player landscape was before iTunes, full of apps deliberately limited in features and larded with upsells. If you wanted something decent, you had to pay for it upfront–the app that became iTunes, Casady & Greene’s SoundJamp MP, was a $40 download.

And even after iTunes arrived, competitors didn’t take the hint. Typical headline, from a 2006 review of Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 11: “Nice Features, But It’s No iTunes.” So when I finally set aside time to rip every CD I owned, iTunes did the job. And it was through iTunes that I bought the vast majority of my music downloads–and then paid $25 for iTunes Match to get legit copies of the MP3s I’d downloaded off Usenet newsgroups and file-sharing apps in the days before paying $1 a song was an option.

Most of two decades since my introduction to this app, I no longer use one of its original flagship features, easy music sync. I don’t own an iPhone, and since Apple has held fast to ignoring other mobile devices in this app, I copy the songs I want to store on my Android phone via the Finder.

The new Music app that will replace iTunes may be just as good at the core tasks of music organization and playback, but I won’t know for a while. The iMac on which I’m typing this–kept in service largely because I replaced its sluggish hard drive with a solid-state drive last year–can’t even run the current Mojave edition, much less the upcoming Catalina.

And iTunes for Windows will remain–but that app looks like such a stranger in Windows 10, I can’t deal with it. Instead, it looks like I’m stuck with two other choices with their own issues: Microsoft’s Groove Music, effectively retired after a series of feature removals, and the privacy-hostile Spotify. It looks like Apple isn’t the only large tech company that needs to reboot its desktop music-player strategy.

Weekly output: Audi stoplight smarts, Big Tech banter at SXSW, SXSW strangeness, Facebook outage, Spotify vs. Apple

I’ve been recuperating from SXSW in the lamest way possible: by spending a lot of time weeding the lawn. Early returns suggest that my prior years of springtime toil have led to less chickweed, so I’ve got that going for me.

3/11/2019: How traffic lights might talk to your next car, Yahoo Finance

I spent a few days driving around D.C. and northern Virginia in an A8 that Audi loaned to test its Traffic Light Information system. The whole experience got a little more terrifying when I looked at the spec sheet for the loaner vehicle and realized that I was trying test-driving Audi’s stoplight-to-car data service in a sedan with a list price above six figures.

3/13/2019: Breaking up Big Tech: Advocates spar over how to trim sails of technology giants at SXSW, USA Today

I did not get to as many SXSW panels as I wanted, but I did watch the session featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.). Warren advocated forced break-ups of tech giants, and over the next several days multiple SXSW speakers took it to task. The critiques you’ll see in USAT comments on this piece, however, amount to trash.

3/13/2019: SXSW 2019: Synthetic sushi, a buggy demo, and other weird gadgets, Yahoo Finance

I didn’t even have the SXSW trade-show exhibits on my must-see list until meeting a friend for lunch, at which point he strongly suggested I check out Sushi Singularity. He was right.

3/14/2019: Facebook outage, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on to talk about the Wednesday outage of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. My takes: Securities and Exchange Commission regulations give us strong reasons to take Facebook at its word about the causes of this downtime; we should all work to depend less on Facebook and its vassal states for communication with bystanders, customers and fans.

3/15/2019: Spotify has a point about Apple’s App Store fees, Yahoo Finance

If you were reading me eight years ago, this column should not have surprised you. My opinion hasn’t changed since because Apple still acts as if it has a God-given right to annex up to 30 percent of the content income of many App Store developers.

Weekly output: Donald Trump’s e-mails, French startups, Hillary Clinton’s tech policy, Viva Technology Paris (x6), Spotify vs. Apple, wireless resellers

After going 25 years without setting foot in France, I returned to Paris barely a month after May’s horribly-overdue reunion to moderate a round of panels at Viva Technology Paris, a new conference put on by the French business-news group Les Echos and the Paris-based marketing firm Publicis Groupe. They covered my travel costs in return for my not zonking out from jet lag on stage, a commitment I did keep.

6/27/2016: Donald Trump has a big problem with email spam, Yahoo Finance

I filed this last Friday afternoon, but the crush of Brexit coverage at Yahoo left the post farther down the editing queue than normal.

6/27/2016: The thing that holds back French startups? Not the 35-hour work week, Yahoo Finance

I can’t make any jokes about the French work ethic after needing a good month to finish this report from May’s up-close look at the country’s attempts to make itself a tech destination. On the upside, it did inform the very next post I wrote for Yahoo.

6/28/2016: Here’s how Hillary Clinton plans to keep America the world’s tech leader, Yahoo Finance

I hustled to finish this Tuesday afternoon, then found myself with unexpected free time at National Airport as the weather made a mess of my initial itinerary. I wound up going to Paris by way of Frankfurt, but that’s another story in its own right.

Viva Tech panel intro6/30/2016: Building the digital state with data, Viva Technology Paris

I interviewed Rufus Pollock, president and founder of the U.K.-based Open Knowledge group, about how much data stays locked up in proprietary formats and behind paywalls.

6/30/2016: Electricity storage: a new frontier, Viva Technology Paris

Having whole-home batteries like Tesla’s forthcoming Powerwall won’t change how we use electricity as much as having battery-backed homes linked on a neighborhood level. At least, that’s what I learned from my talk with Engie innovation program director Mark Akehurst and Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann.

6/30/2016: Open partnerships to design new territories, Viva Technology Paris

The initial description of this smart-cities panel might have sounded a little vague, but I wound up having a good conversation with Vinci Energies innovation and development director Lydia Babaci-Victor and HAL24K founder Jérôme Mol about ways to make our cities and towns more self-aware and efficient.

6/30/2016: Will cellular agriculture help to feed us all?, Viva Technology Paris

Sadly, we had no samples of vat-grown food to share at the talk I had with Gilonne d’Origny of New Harvest and science journalist Marta Zaraska. I enjoyed the conversation anyway.

7/1/2016: How will online medicine change our relationships with doctors?, Viva Technology Paris

My other five (!) panels ran just 20 minutes, but this one featuring Doctolib CEO Stanislas Niox-Chateau, Omixy CEO Lavinia Ionita and Push Doctor CEO Eren Ozagir was booked for 30 minutes. Result: We all started to sweat under the lights in an already-toasty venue.

7/1/2016: 3D simulation and the cities of tomorrow, Viva Technology Paris

My other smart-cities panel of the week, featuring Engie’s Olivier Biancarelli and Siradel CEO Laurent Bouillot, was marred by some dead air when the one-minute videos each had brought to show their 3-D city modeling didn’t play promptly. I should have seen that coming and been prepared to talk through the holdup.

7/1/2016: Spotify just turned up the volume on its latest fight with Apple, Yahoo Finance

I wrote this between Friday afternoon’s panels, then had to revise it again after a letter from Apple’s general counsel to Spotify’s made its way to BuzzFeed’s site.

7/3/2016: Name that network: The carriers behind wireless resellers, USA Today

Not for the first time, a question from a friend led to a column that I hope will draw a good amount of search traffic over time.

Weekly output: techno-panics, unsubsidized phones, Apple and Google streaming music

Hey, August, you’ve been doing a really bad job of being a slow news month. Could you please clock out already?

8/18/2015: How to Survive the Next Techno-Panic, Yahoo Tech

When I suggested this topic to my editors, I had no idea that a day later, Spotify would uncork a self-inflicted techno-panic by… wait for it… rolling out a vague and expansionist privacy policy written by lawyers for other lawyers.

Yahoo Tech phone-prices post8/20/2015: 5 Reasons You Should Pay Full Price For Your Smartphone, Yahoo Tech

I filed the first draft of this story last week, then had to update it twice when Sprint a) said it would stop selling subsidized phones at the end of the year and b) the next day, rolled out a warmed-over version of its old “iPhone for Life” lease plan. You can guess what other, oft-updated work of mine needed repeated revisions this week; look for them to show up online shortly.

8/23/2015: What to do when Apple Music has its head in cloud, USA Today

In an alternate universe, this would have run July 5. Instead, I wrote another, timelier column and put this one back on the shelf until now. That extra time led me to discover a useful option in Google Play Music that’s missing from Apple’s music apps.