Weekly output: iPhone electrocution, Ethernet chat, VLC and the DMCA, phone upgrades, disabling Android apps

Getting sick when you work for yourself is no fun: There’s nobody else who can fill in to complete the work you signed up to do, so sometimes you can only write slower than usual and take lots of breaks. That’s how I spent part of Tuesday (when my daughter’s cold caught up with me) and all of Thursday (when I was recovering from some weird digestive discomfort by largely taking a break from food).

WTTG iPhone electrocution7/16/2013: iPhone death allegations, Fox 5 News

WTTG had me on the air to talk about a strange story out of China involving a woman electrocuted when she used an iPhone while charging it. I suggested that a poorly-made knock-off charger might have been at fault, and that now seems to be the case.

7/17/2013: Bandwidth Chat, IDG Enterprise

I’ve signed up with IDG to help host a few Twitter chats it’s running for various clients. This week’s Comcast-sponsored chat focused on “carrier Ethernet”–a dry topic that did not seem to draw much interest. But at least it was a good practice for the slightly more consumer-relevant topics coming up.

7/19/2013: Trying To Ban Links to Software Is The DMCA Joke That Never Gets Old, Disruptive Competition Project

I’d meant to write this reaction to HBO asking Google to remove a search result link pointing to the open-source video app VLC sooner–Friday afternoon is not a good time to get a wonky tech-policy post any extra attention. So I submitted a recap of the story on Slashdot (I know, old school), and the editors there were kind enough to put that on the site’s front page.

7/21/2013: Pegoraro: How often should I upgrade my phone?, USA Today

I was amused to see the headline for this analysis of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon’s new frequent-upgrade deals start with my name–as if I’m some tech sage whose name alone can be invoked to settle arguments.

On Sulia, I offered a preview of what I’d say on Fox 5, observed how a hack into a Congressional site revealed some Hill staffers’ terrible taste in passwords, teed off on the exploitative pricing of the AT&T and Verizon early-upgrade deals, and confessed how my query about an apparent exemption to MLB.tv’s idiotic regional blackouts might have gotten that magic Zip code fixed.

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Weekly output: iPhone SIM locks, VLC, Sonic.net (2x), big-screen phones, saving energy,

Remember when I wrote a few weeks ago that I’d been working on some longer features? The results of that effort surfaced this week, adding up to 6,620 words published under my byline and making me look far more productive than I was.

I also gave a talk about e-book DRM Tuesday, one of Lisa Schaefer’s ongoing “Future of Books” meetups around the D.C. area, but there doesn’t seem to be a transcript or recording of that.

2/26/2012: How to unlock your iPhone 4S for world travel, USA Today

This was going to be my contribution to the paper’s site two weeks ago, but Verizon needed more time to get its story straight. To answer the “why didn’t you just tell people to jailbreak their iPhones” question: USAT is a general-interest publication, and I don’t know of any jailbreak that works on the iPhone 4S with the current 5.1 version of iOS–your odds seem iffy even on the 5.01 release. This column also endorses using the open-source VLC to play DVDs purchased overseas…which, I admit, may not exactly be a general-interest topic.

2/26/2012: Gigabit Internet for $70: the unlikely success of California’s Sonic.net, Ars Technica

One typo aside, I enjoyed the hell out of reporting this story. Knocking on doors to talk to strangers, multiple rounds of interviews with sources, writing dozens of column inches’ worth of copy, having some material left over in my notes afterwards–this felt more like traditional newspaper journalism than anything I did at the Post in my last few years there. It was also a treat to write for a site that I’ve cited and appreciated for such a long time. (Trivia: I quoted Ars Technica founder Ken Fisher in a July 28, 2000 column for the Post about the joys of upgrading one’s computer.)

I then went on to write a few hundred words more responding to comments about the site on Ars and in Reddit’s thread about the piece.

2/29/2012: Big Screens Are For TVs, Not Phones, CEA Digital Dialogue

If you think oversized smartphones like the Galaxy Note I took to task last week are an aberration, prepare to be surprised. Manufacturers are gearing up to ship a lot more phones with screens 4.5 inches or larger, as I found out after consulting a DisplaySearch analyst. (That conversation also yielded a useful tip about extending battery life on devices with OLED screens, which you may soon see in my USA Today column.) For those curious about the measuring implement in the photo I took: It’s an old printer’s ruler, which puts the Note’s screen at 32 picas.

2/29/2012: Surfing at a Billion Bits Per Second, Discovery News

I used some of those leftover notes from the Ars piece for this shorter post for Discovery about the experience of using that connection, based on my own tests in late December and subsequent e-mails with some of subscribers. As I was writing this, I posted the photos I took back then to Flickr so I could link to one in the story. When foxnews.com showed up as a referrer in my stats there a day later, I discovered that Fox (with which Discovery has a content-sharing arrangement) had reposted the piece.

2/29/2012: Gamification: Green tech makes energy use a game—and we all win, Ars Technica

When I first pitched Ars on the idea of doing a feature on Sonic, I didn’t know they were already preparing to ask me if I’d be interested in writing a feature on the topic of how better data and game mechanics might help us save energy. This was a lot of fun to put together as well… I guess I’d forgotten about the rewards of long-form journalism. I’m glad that I now have the time to do these things.