Weekly output: Virgin Mobile USA Inner Circle, Microsoft on security, D.C. tech media, Sprint Flex, SMS two-step verification

This week involved a large tech conference, but I didn’t have to go any farther than D.C. for it: Microsoft Inspire ran from Monday to Wednesday at the convention center, with the morning keynotes held at the Verizon Center. The event yielded one post, an idea for another and a sweaty evening at Nationals Park Wednesday, the location of the Carrie Underwood concert that closed out the gathering.

7/10/2017: Virgin Mobile’s iPhone-only plan: What’s the catch?, USA Today

This snakebit column required not one but two corrections. The first remedied my mistake in reading “$1” as this Sprint prepaid brand’s promotional monthly rate when it was the cost for the entire first year of service; minutes later, I saw a reader comment calling out my dumb error in writing “megabits per second” instead of “kilobits per second” when describing a streaming speed limit.

7/12/2017: Microsoft reveals two big ways to stop ransomware attacks, Yahoo Finance

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith’s keynote Wednesday called for collective action to stop ransomware and other malware outbreaks. But getting companies and organizations to end their long-running abusive relationship with Windows XP won’t be easy; neither will persuading governments to stop hoarding vulnerabilities in favor of promptly disclosing all of them so they can be fixed.

7/12/2017: Working with Tech Media in the Washington D.C. Region, Washington Network Group

I spoke on this panel with the Washington Business Journal’s Andy Medici and FedScoop’s Tajha Chappellet-Lanier (a fellow Washingtonian Tech Titan honoree) about coverage priorities, tech trends and PR pet peeves. Once again, I implored publicists not to follow up by re-sending the original e-mail topped by nothing more than “Any interest?”

7/14/2017: Sprint doesn’t want you to buy your next phone, Yahoo Finance

Sprint gave me an advance on this, but its PR pitch for its new Flex leasing deal didn’t spell out that this move would also end Sprint’s installment-payment pricing on phones. Because I’m slow, I needed a couple of rounds of Q&A to grasp that difference. Sprint, in turn, didn’t clarify the international-unlocking policy under Flex until Friday morning, after its embargo on the news had passed but before it had posted its own press release.

7/14/2017: How a system meant to keep your money safe could put it in danger, Yahoo Finance

I expected to see everybody else jump on this story of a PayPal customer losing money after an AT&T rep let an unknown attacker move his number–the last line of defense on his PayPal account–to a new SIM, since I learned about it on Twitter a week earlier. Instead, I had time to quiz PayPal, AT&T and others; verify that a no-longer-advertised phone-free form of two-factor authentication still worked at PayPal; and have an enlightening chat with Google security product manager Stephan Somogyi about the tradeoffs of different “2FA” methods.

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Weekly output: HBO and cord cutting, wireless carriers, two-step verification

This week involved many meetings, but that was okay–I spent a couple of days in New York catching up with my Yahoo Tech colleagues, getting updates about how we’ve done and hearing about future plans. I also successfully installed OS X Yosemite on both of my Macs and cheered on a friend running the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time. Overall: not a bad seven days.

Yahoo Tech post on HBO10/21/2014: Will Sports Learn from HBO’s Grand Online Experiment?, Yahoo Tech

This is a column I’d wanted to write for the past few years, but until recently I didn’t think my chance would come until maybe 2016. The photo illustrating my musings on HBO’s move to sell online-only viewing was an idea that came to me at the last minute, as I was flipping through the paper at the dining table; if only the words could pop into my head so quickly!

10/21/2014: This Is the Best Wireless Carrier for You, Time

The condensed edition of my Wirecutter guide to wireless carriers has run at a few other places (for instance, Fast Company posted its version Sept. 21), but I was tickled more than usual to see it land on the site of the newsmagazine I read almost every week in high school.

10/26/2014: Security update: AOL learns to two-step, and why your ISP may not, USA Today

A friend sent an apologetic e-mail about his AOL account getting hacked (yes, I have some pals who continue to use the site); I was going to tell him to turn on two-step verification and then realized I couldn’t; inquiries with AOL PR led to me breaking the (not-quite-huge) news that it will soon offer two-step verification once again.

Weekly output: Game of Thrones, security, augmented reality, T-Mobile, phone insurance

Happy Easter!

DisCo Game of Thrones post

3/27/2013: Ethicists Make Lousy Economists, And Other Lessons From the Endless “Game of Thrones” Debate, Disruptive Competition Project

This started life as a draft here a year ago, when I’d gotten fed up by seeing the same old arguments thrown around on Twitter and in blog posts about the HBO series. Then I set it aside, which turned out be a good thing when I had a paying client interested in the topic.

3/29/2013: Social-Media Trend To Watch: Security That Doesn’t Have To Suck, Disruptive Competition Project

With Dropbox, Apple and, soon, Evernote and Twitter following Google’s lead in offering two-step verification as a login option, I’m cautiously optimistic that this competition will yield more usable security than what the efforts of corporate IT have yielded so far. The skeptical comments this post has since gotten have me wondering if I was too optimistic.

3/29/2013: Augmented Reality Doesn’t Need Google Glasses, Discovery News

I revisited a topic I last covered in depth in a 2009 column for the Post. Part of this post recaps how I still use some of the apps I mentioned back then, part suggests some other possible applications, and then I note how Windows Phone 8’s “Lenses” feature could foster “AR” on that platform. I’m not sure all of those parts hold together.

3/31/2013: Q&A: Is T-Mobile’s new math a good deal?, USA Today

The wireless carrier’s no-contract plans may not save you much money if you buy a new smartphone exactly every two years, but if you upgrade less often–or buy an unlocked phone from a third party–they can work well for you. (And if they foster the growth of a carrier-independent market for phones, they would work well for the rest of us.) The post also includes a reminder to watch out for phone-insurance charges on your bill.

Sulia highlights: calculating how much you’d spend on an iPhone 5 and two years of service at the four major wireless carriers; noting the belated arrival of threaded comments on Facebook pages; explaining why Google Maps doesn’t offer real-time arrival estimates for Metro and other transit systems; critiquing the woeful setup experience on a Linksys router.