Weekly output: Biden FCC nominations, Google opt-out for images of kids, Mark Vena podcast, Facebook Papers, Nielsen accreditation, Facebook renames itself Meta, Congress votes to veto Huawei and ZTE, Internet Archive

LISBON–After only experiencing the Web Summit through various screens last year, I returned to that conference’s host city this morning. I have four panels to moderate this week, which don’t seem like that much of a challenge after all the copy I filed this week.

PCMag FCC-noms post10/26/2021: Biden Nominates Rosenworcel as FCC Chair, PCMag

I really didn’t think I’d have to wait until almost November to write about President Biden picking a full-time chair of the Federal Communications Commission and filling the seat that’s been left open since January. Neither nomination–acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel to become permanent chair, former FCC advisor Gigi Sohn to take the vacant seat–is a surprise, so I’m still wondering what took the White House so long. 

10/27/2021: Google Adds Option to Wipe Images of Kids From Search Results, PCMag

Writing this allowed me to revisit the “right to be forgotten” debate and how Google users where I’m writing this have far more rights to have certain results hidden from queries than Google’s U.S. users do.

10/27/2021: S01 E15 – SmartTechCheck Podcast, Mark Vena

This week’s podcast had us talking up the FCC nominations as well as Facebook’s reliance on algorithms and Samsung moving to support the Matter smart-home standard. The video version suggests I should invest in some smart window blinds; I had mine closed to avoid bright sunlight oversaturating my home office, but halfway through the recording clouds rolled in, leaving me in the dark.  

10/27/2021: The Facebook Papers revelations, WWL

I talked to this New Orleans station (the folks there had me on in May to discuss streaming TV) about all of the bad news about Facebook we’ve gotten this week. 

10/28/2021: Nielsen on regaining accreditation: stay tuned, FierceVideo

I filled in at my trade-pub client to cover Nielsen’s earnings call, on which executives for the audience-measurement firm gave… measured answers to questions about how they would regain accreditation for their TV ratings service from an industry group.

10/28/2021: Facebook renames itself to Meta, Al Jazeera

Speaking of Facebook news, the news channel quizzed me about my take on Facebook renaming itself to Meta and recasting itself as a metaverse-first developer. I hope my skepticism came across fully in overdubbed Arabic.

10/29/2021: In Rare Bipartisan Move, Congress Votes to Crack Down on Huawei, ZTE, PCMag

It’s nice to know that even in these hyper-partisan times, Democrats and Republicans can still agree on some things–like their profound distrust of these large Chinese telecom firms.

10/29/2021:  In case you missed it: The Internet Archive turns 25, USA Today

This was a neat column to write–both because I learned some new things about how to use the Archive’s Wayback Machine, and because it let me remind readers of the time I wrote up my visit to the Archive’s offices in San Francisco for the Washington Post and then had Archive founder Brewster Kahle show up in that story’s comments. That 2010 piece, appropriately enough, now seems readable only via the Archive.

MWC 2020 brings a novel conference concern

I haven’t finished putting together my schedule for MWC Barcelona later this month, but my calendar for that trade show is already getting culled.

Three major tech firms–Ericsson, LG and Nvidia–have pulled out of the wireless industry’s global gathering, citing fears of the novel coronavirus. Nvidia is no key player in the industry, but LG remains significant to smartphones. And Ericsson not only has a major 5G-infrastructure business, its MWC exhibit has been a reliable source of a free lunch.

The rest of the show appears set to go on as usual, although with unusual precautions. ZTE announced last week that it will have senior executives attending the show quarantine themselves in Europe for two weeks beforehand and require all Barcelona-bound employees to have been symptom-free for 14 days prior. GSMA, the organization that runs MWC, said two weeks ago it will disinfect public areas frequently and advise everybody at the show to stick to a no-handshake rule and wash their hands frequently.

My calendar still has MWC on it, and that remains the case with other tech journalists I know–and whose judgment I trust. The show is still on and news and networking will still happen there, while the actual risk appears quite low in the context of MWC’s distance from China and the health screenings now imposed on the dwindling number of passengers from there.

But the risk is not zero, not with that many Chinese companies set to exhibit at MWC. I would like to think that they will all exercise the same care as ZTE. But I suppose prudence may require me to avoid an entire country’s exhibits… which, considering that China’s smartphone industry is already walled off from the West thanks to Google being a non-participant there, was already part of my MWC coverage plans.

And I will, of course, wash my hands frequently and not shake anybody else’s. I’m thinking that bowing slightly to strangers and exchanging fist-bumps with friends will be reasonable alternatives.

Weekly output: Huawei and ZTE network-gear security, Ericsson’s 5G forecast, 5G explained

I hope you all haven’t gotten bored of me writing about 5G wireless, because there’s a lot more of that coming over the next two weeks.

12/3/2019: Don’t obsess over the security of Chinese wireless gear. Do this instead, Fast Company

I wrote about the Federal Communications Commission’s recent move to ban wireless carriers that receive Universal Service Fund subsidies from using any of those government dollars to buy network gear from the Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE.

12/4/2019: Get ready for 5G to make your phone even more addictive, Fast Company

Remember the Ericsson study about the future of mobile broadband worldwide that I briefly wrote about for FierceVideo last week? Fast Company also thought that worthy of a post, allowing me to cover it in more detail. As my old editor Craig Stoltz used to say: “Sell everything twice.”

12/4/2019: 5G on the horizon: Here’s what it is and what’s coming, Ars Technica

This 2,000-word post–the first of three I’m doing for Ars about the possibilities of 5G wireless–allowed me to synthesize a lot of the research and reporting I’ve been doing over the last few months. One thought I had after writing this: The carriers are setting their customers up for an enormous amount of disappointment by hyping up the potential of the one form of 5G least likely to reach most Americans, millimeter-wave 5G. Another thought: Even with all the skepticism I tried to bring to the topic at the time, my first coverage of 5G still exhibited too much trust in the sales pitches of carriers and hardware vendors.