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: Scripps’ broadcast bet, AT&T CEO, Discovery downgrade, Betacom, ransomware lessons, Boost Mobile + DraftKings, exploding ISP prices

This month is ending in a flurry of deadlines, and I am profoundly grateful to have tomorrow as a day off to think about people who have had much harder jobs than me.

5/24/2021: Scripps CEO on why he’s bullish on OTA TV, FierceVideo

I talked to E.W. Scripps CEO Adam Symson about his ambitions for distributing the company’s new Newsy channel via old-school broadcast TV.

5/24/2021: AT&T’s Stankey defends WarnerMedia spinoff at J.P. Morgan event, FierceVideo

My editors at Fierce asked if I could fill in to cover some breaking news Monday, and the first result was this recap of AT&T’s CEO defending his decision to unwind the company’s expensive media strategy.

5/24/2021: MoffettNathanson disses Discovery with ratings downgrade, FierceVideo

I also filed this post on a clueful market-research firm’s pessimism about one apparent beneficiary of AT&T’s retreat from media.

5/25/2021: Betacom makes its private-wireless-network bid with $15M in funding, Light Reading

My other trade-pub client wanted me to cover a wireless-infrastructure firm’s pivot.

Screengrab of ransomware post5/26/2021: Why the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is a sign of things to come, Fast Company

I spent a fair amount of the previous week watching panel discussions at the RSA Conference, and a series of talks about the ransomware plague at that information-security event yielded this piece.

5/27/2021: Boost Mobile bets on DraftKings as a partner, FierceWireless

FierceVideo’s sister publication requested my help in covering another bit of breaking news: an unusual marketing tie-in between an online sportsbook and an ambitious reseller of T-Mobile’s service.

5/30/2021: Buyer, beware: Internet providers may have ‘exploding prices’ after year one or two, USA Today

As I wrote to my editor when I filed this piece: “After I invoice USAT for this, I would like to invoice Comcast for pointing out their broken Web design.” It’s one thing to offer promotional prices that end after a set period of time, but it’s another to send a would-be customer on a dark-pattern detour to figure out what the real price will be after the new-subscriber honeymoon ends.

Weekly output: Mark Vena podcast, Discovery’s streaming video ambitions

Ten years ago today, I finally crossed “see a space launch” off my to-do list, and I’m still working on the best words to describe what it was like to see, hear and feel Endeavour rocket into a cloudy Florida sky. Sometimes, I can’t quite believe that I did that–or that I’ve since had the immense privilege of returning to the Kennedy Space Center’s press site for two other launches. Fortunately, I have a framed print of the photo I took of the shuttle’s liftoff hanging on the far wall of my home office to remind me that I really did accomplish the goal I’d had in my head since I was 10.

5/11/2021: SmartTechCheck Podcast (5-11-21), Mark Vena

After a couple of weeks off, I returned to this podcast to talk about the tech business with our host from Moor Insights & Strategy and fellow tech scribes John Quain and Stewart Wolpin. Among this week’s topics: the legal battle between Apple and Epic over the former’s App Store governance, a newly announced smart-home standard, and the plague of ransomware.

Screenshot of the article as seen on an iPad5/12/2021: Discovery CEO says SVOD success won’t end its TV-bundle role, FierceVideo

My trade-pub client asked me to write up Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s interview at a conference hosted by the market-analysis firm MoffettNathanson. I figured Zaslav would wax optimistic about the company’s Discovery+ subscription video on demand (SVOD) service, but I didn’t expect him to explain that Discovery makes as much or more money off a D+ streaming subscriber than a cable or satellite viewer–and yet he expects no pay-TV provider will be able to get away with dropping Discovery from its lineup. I don’t imagine that many of you are feeling terribly sorry for those cable and satellite operators at this point.

Weekly output: Discovery hire, vaccine disinfo on social media, Moody’s pay-TV forecast,

This week saw the quiet demise of Uber’s flying-taxi ambitions, in the form of the company  selling that operation to Joby Aviation. I feel relieved that my earlier coverage of Uber Elevate included skeptical notes from aviation-security analyst Robert Mann.

12/7/2020: Discovery hires Hulu’s Jim Keller to helm digital ads, FierceVideo

I spent Monday filling in at my trade-pub client to write breaking news. This post covered a Discovery hire in advance of its new Discovery+ streaming-video service.

12/7/2020: Vaccine disinformation on social media, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me to discuss what social networks should do about anti-vax lies now that coronavirus vaccines are finally in distribution.

12/7/2020: Moody’s forecast shows no end to pay TV’s problems, FierceVideo

My other piece at Fierce Monday covered a new report from Moody’s Investors Service that predicts an acceleration of cord cutting.

12/9/2020: Google Will Pay For Some Paywalled News Stories—Just Not Here, Forbes

Google paying for the first click at a paywalled site in a few other countries represents a major turnaround from it demanding that paywalled sites give that first click for free. But with this initiative confined to the News Showcase Google is launching outside the U.S., it offers no help to American publishers that, in turn, continue to neglect revenue possibilities for occasional readers. (In a post here yesterday, I suggested two ideas of my own for that scenario.)

12/10/2020: Meet The Web’s New Second-Place Tracker: Not Facebook, It’s Amazon, New Report Finds, Forbes

A study from the online-privacy firm Ghostery found that Amazon’s trackers now show up on more U.S. sites than Facebook’s–although not all of these trackers serve its retail business. Meanwhile, Google continues to do the most tracking by an enormous margin.

Weekly output: YouTube TV drops NESN, upload speeds, AMC earnings, FedEx tech, election social-media misinformation, Discovery vs. T-Mobile

The longest Election Day I’ve seen since 2000 wrapped up a few minutes before noon Saturday, when I checked my phone on a bike ride and saw that all the major news networks had called the race for Joe Biden. A few minutes later, I turned around and rode into D.C. to witness the city as ecstatic as I’ve ever seen it.

After four years of President Trump’s lies, cruelty, bigotry, and incompetence, Americans have chosen a future that starts with four words: Donald Trump, private citizen. This is the resolution I had been hoping for since the morning of Nov. 9, 2016.

11/2/2020: RSN cuts continue as YouTube TV drops NESN, FierceVideo

I started the week by spending Monday covering breaking news at my trade-pub client. This post started with a tweet from my friend Ron Miller about his streaming-TV service dropping the network that carries Red Sox games.

11/2/2020: Upload speeds still lag on most Americans’ broadband, USA Today

This column revisited a subject I’d covered for the paper back in 2016, and I have to credit the work I did for the U.S. News Internet-provider package for refocusing my attention on this problem.

11/2/2020: AMC sees third-quarter 2020 income slip as subscriptions grow, FierceVideo

I wrote up AMC Networks’ Q3 earnings and had a little fun with the lede. From what Google tells me, I may have introduced the phrase “zombies and subscriptions” to the Web.

11/4/2020: FedEx is upgrading its tech for a holiday season in pandemic times, Fast Company

FedEx staged an online event for media that unpacked some interesting work it’s doing with robots and drones. One thing this effort won’t deliver anytime soon: a live delivery map like what UPS and Amazon offer.

11/6/2020: Election misinformation on social media, Al Jazeera

The translator for this live hit on the Arabic-language news network asked me if Twitter was being unfair to Trump. I replied that the president should try not lying so often.

11/6/2020: Discovery To T-Mobile: What Do You Think You’re Doing Bundling Us?, Forbes

Two weeks after I covered T-Mobile’s launch of a streaming-TV service with some attractive pricing and some notable gaps in the channel lineup, I wrote about the unlikely complaint of Discovery and two other entertainment-industry firms–that T-Mobile doesn’t have the contractual rights to put their channels on its $10 TVision Vibe package.

A sort of homecoming for Discovery

The space shuttle Discovery completed her last journey a week ago. An airport tug towed the shuttle, with tiles and insulating fabic looking toasted or outright torched from 39 re-entries, into a display hall at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

It was not an altogether joyous occasion. The proper home for a spacecraft is space, not a museum. Discovery might have kept flying for years longer–had the Bush administration not acted on the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board to retire the shuttle, after which the Obama administration reaffirmed that decision while adding two last flights to the schedule.

During the handover ceremony itself, former senator and two-time astronaut John Glenn said the shuttle was “prematurely grounded.”

But there are reasons why we only have three space-flown shuttles to retire to museums after building five. Challenger’s remains sleep in a missile silo at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; Columbia’s occupy part of the 16th floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. Neither spot is open for tourist visits, although anybody designing a manned spacecraft should find a way to pay their respects there.

What makes me mad, not just sad, is seeing people use this occasion to break out a “The End” stamp for the space program.

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, for instance, pronounced Discovery’s final trip “a funeral march”–apparently unaware that the shuttle’s would-be successor, the behind-schedule and over-budget Constellation program, had been fired for cause. CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a “Hard Landing” episode that suggested the battered Space Coast economy will never recover. (For all of of that episode’s neglected angles, I hated seeing that the bar I stopped in for lunch after STS-134’s launch had closed.) Editorial cartoons have proclaimed that manned space flight has reached the end of its road and now amounts to a museum piece.

But like many people of a certain age, I know the difference between today and the last extended interregnum in American spaceflight. One of my first memories of television was watching a rocket launch that must have been the U.S. half of 1975’s sole Apollo-Soyuz Test Program mission. I had to wait almost six years to see another liftoff live on TV. No American got close to orbit until the Sunday morning in 1981 when I woke up early and excitedly to watch Columbia take us back.

We are not witnessing a re-run of that era. If you want to see an American spacecraft, you don’t need to go to a museum. Step outside on a clear night, when the timing lines up, and you can’t miss a light brighter than any star gliding in front of all of them–the International Space Station, occupied nonstop by U.S. astronauts since November of 2000.

Back on the ground, NASA is designing the biggest rocket the U.S. has flown since the ’70s–although the Space Launch System’s projected expense and limited utility alarms me.

But unlike the ’70s, we don’t have to hope that the government does everything right. In Florida and Virginia, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are getting ready to run cargo to the ISS in privately-developed spacecraft. SpaceX and three other firms are also competing to bring up crew next and free us from having to pay Russia for transportation to the station. (Note to Congress: Reducing the funding for this project is one of the most foolish and shortsighted things you’ve done lately.) In a year or two, the rich should be taking their own suborbital flights, no NASA contract needed. (Note to Virgin Galactic PR: call me.) And in Seattle, some well-heeled tech entrepreneurs think they can make a business out of mining asteroids.

The dream is alive.

Damnit, I hope I’m right about that.

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