Weekly output: social-media misinformation, Comcast voice remote vulnerability, Cambridge Analytica, T-Mobile 5G, phone plans

I had at least one work event on my calendar each workday of this week, which has not happened in quite some time. Since CES, to be exact.

10/6/2020: Social-media misinformation, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language network had me on for half an hour to talk, once again, about governments staging misinformation campaigns on Twitter and other social networks. 

10/7/2020: Hackers could have used Comcast’s XR11 voice remote to spy on homes, Fast Company

The security firm Guardicore figured out how to load malware onto a widely-used Comcast remote control that would turn its voice input into a remote eavesdropping tool–and then Comcast promptly responded to their disclosure and fixed the flaws that made this possible. 

10/8/2020: The Real Problem Wasn’t Cambridge Analytica, But The Data Brokers That Outlived It, Forbes

An online talk by David Carroll, the New York professor who went to court in the U.K. to try to force Cambridge Analytica to disclose what data it had collected about him, gave me an opportunity to revisit everybody’s least favorite political consultancy.

10/9/2020: T-Mobile’s 5G sales pitch continues to miss on mid-band , Fierce Wireless

T-Mobile staged a bit of a dog-and-pony show for journalists about its wireless ambitions that had some entertaining moments but left some big questions about its 5G strategy unanswered. 

10/9/2020: The Best Cell Phone Plans, Wirecutter

I updated this guide to cover slight changes to the “unlimited” plans at Verizon, Mint Mobile’s new “unlimited” plan, Cricket’s addition of a 5G plan, the Verizon prepaid brand Visible, and a set of simpler plans at TracFone.

Weekly output: Streaming video vs. ISPs, streaming-TV advice, Twitter takedowns

In an alternate universe, this week would have seen two opening days: the Nationals home game and the year’s first mowing of the lawn. Opening Day has yet to happen, but at least our yard looks a lot nicer, especially after some obsessive weeding this weekend.

Patreon members got an extra this week: my calculations about finally replacing my aging iMac with a now-slightly-less-expensive Mac mini.

3/30/2020: Relax: Netflix binging won’t kill broadband during the COVID-19 crisis, Fast Company

Beyond talking to the usual bandwidth experts about the odds of our connectivity crumpling under all the new work-from-home traffic, I also quizzed people at three small Internet providers that don’t have the resources of a Comcast to deal with a flood of traffic.

4/1/2020: Streaming Services: A U.S. News Guide, U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News contributor Rudi Greenberg interviewed me for this cheat sheet about TV cord cutting.

4/2/2020: Twitter takedowns, Al Jazeera

I appeared via Skype on the Arabic-language news channel to talk about Twitter’s latest takedowns of networks of state-run sockpuppet accounts. I hope my key point came across in overdubbed Arabic: Twitter’s problem is what while it’s learned to catch these influence operations, it can’t catch them as fast as its trending-topics algorithm can boost some of their output.

Weekly output: 5G in rural areas, Twitter dissent in Egypt, Twitter account suspensions

My second-shortest business trip of this year let me add yet another airport to the list of 90-plus that I’ve used. At some point, I should post that avgeek list here, because some of those airports are a tad unusual.

9/17/2019: Don’t You 4G About Me: 5G’s Prospects in Rural Areas, CCA Annual Convention

This breakfast panel, sponsored by FierceWireless, featured T-Mobile senior director for engineering and technology policy John Hunter, C Spire chief innovation officer Craig Sparks, Ericsson vice president and chief technology officer for regional carriers GS Sickand, and Strategy Analytics director of service provider strategies Susan Welsh de Grimaldo. Fierce picked up my travel costs, which was especially appreciated after a week after I’d paid to attend and travel to the Online News Association’s rewarding but notoriously monetization-resistant conference.

Speaking of, Patreon backers got an extra post from me there that covered some of my ONA takeaways on issues of disinformation and rebuilding trust in journalism.

9/17/2019: Twitter dissent in Egypt, Al Jazeera

This was not my finest 10 minutes, because I got a question I wasn’t expecting about the alleged erasure of a trending hashtag attacking Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Coverage I’ve seen of Egyptian Twitter users denouncing their dictatorial leader, including AJ’s English-language reporting, has not mentioned any such erasure, so I had to limit myself to saying that did not make an enormous amount of sense given my understanding of how Twitter works and how Twitter has dealt with authoritarian regimes.

9/20/2019: Twitter suspends thousands of accounts, Alhurra

Another day, another appearance on an Arabic-language news channel. But this time, instead of Qatar’s government supporting the channel it was my own: Alhurra, Arabic for “the free one,” is backed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the same government agency behind Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other news services set up to bring quality reporting to people in unfree countries. They had me on to discuss Twitter booting a new batch of disinformation-minded accounts across the Middle East but also elsewhere. I couldn’t find video of my appearance on their site, but I did find their writeup of this situation.