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: Coors Super Bowl dreaming, streaming-TV rate hikes

We finally got a legitimate snowfall for the first time in almost two years, allowing me to dust off my cross-country skis for the first time since early 2019. It’s good to know that I will not repeat last year’s disgrace of a no-skiing winter.

1/27/2021: Coors Didn’t Buy A Super Bowl Ad. It Wants Into Your Dreams Instead., Forbes

I got an advance on this goofball social-media stunt by Coors. which gave me time to read up on some fascinating work in dream science from MIT’s Media Lab.

Screenshot of my USA Today column, as seen in USAT's iPad app1/31/2021: Streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube TV may raise their rates, but you can still save money, USA Today

A rate hike from Sling TV gave me a chance to revisit a point I’ve made before: Even as streaming-video services charge a little more each year, their absence of add-on fees and long-term contracts continues to make them the better deal. I didn’t have room to mention another advantage for streaming services that I’d explained in a Forbes post last week, all the cash-back deals you can find for them at many credit cards. So instead, I wrote a cheat-sheet about these deals and similar offers on online services for Patreon readers.

Weekly output: 2021 pay-TV trends, 2020 in review, Comcast drops Norton security bundle

Today is Jan. 3, 2021, but I can’t blame you if it may feel more like Dec. 34, 2020.

12/30/2020: Four Pay-TV Plot Twists To Watch In 2021—And For Pay TV To Hate, Forbes

My last Forbes post for 2020 looked at possible future developments in both traditional and streaming pay TV, most of which are bad.

12/31/2020: SmartTechCheck Podcast (12-31-20), Mark Vena

I joined the podcast of this Moor Insights & Strategy analyst with my fellow tech journalists John Quain and Stewart Wolpin to discuss what pandemic-wracked 2020 taught us about the state of tech. Early on, we pointed to the ability of video calling to replace some face-to-face meetings–and then we kept running into video or audio glitches.

1/3/2021: As Comcast drops one computer security plan, what – if anything – should you replace it with?, USA Today

This column started with an e-mail from a reader asking what he should do about Comcast ending its free bundle of Norton anti-malware apps. I’d seen the advice of my Wirecutter colleagues that paying for anti-virus software is no longer a good idea, but I turned to my friend Sean Gallagher–who edited a little of my earlier writing at Ars Technica and now works as a threat researcher for the security firm Sophos–for added context. The result: a column about a Comcast policy change that can’t really fault everybody’s favorite cable giant for taking something away from subscribers, because it wasn’t doing them that much of a favor in the first place.

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: Hulu’s rate hike, Trump vs. social media

Like (I hope) many of you, we bagged our plans for Thanksgiving travel. The pandemic metrics around here keep going up, while escalating demand for coronavirus tests is making getting a result back in a timely manner a dicey proposition; seeing these and other metrics looking worse than they did in summer, when we had opted not to visit relatives, left no other sound choice.

11/17/2020: Hulu Hikes Its Rates Yet Again As TV Pricing Pain Rolls On, Forbes

Hulu hiking the monthly cost of its live TV service to $65 left me asking when TV viewers will be able to get off this treadmill of rate increases. The answer seems to be “only if they have good local TV reception and aren’t that invested in sports.”

11/17/2020: Trump’s battle with social media, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on talk about our soon-to-be ex-president’s latest round of whining about the unfairness of social-media platforms.

Weekly output: Amazon Echo, data caps, telecom bills

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Me neither. But at least I’m further along in the process than I was at this point last year.

Yahoo Tech Amazon Echo review12/16/2014: We Try the Amazon Echo, Yahoo Tech

Amazon PR hasn’t exactly been handing out review units of the Echo, but a friend got a semi-coveted invitation to buy this Bluetooth speaker/digital assistant/listening device and was kind enough to invite me over for the unboxing and some of his early use. Yahoo Tech (by which I mean me) paid for that early access with a bottle of homebrewed beer.

12/16/2014: When Is a Data Cap Not a Data Cap? When Big Telecom Says So, Yahoo Tech

This story had been in the works for a while, and then I had to redo a paragraph in it as it was supposed to go online to note T-Mobile’s customer-friendly addition of a data-rollover policy. The photo, in case you were curious, represents a rare case of my getting actual value from the mailings Comcast sends me every other week; in the background you can see a Dominion Power smart meter.

12/21/2014: Give the gift of cheaper TV, Internet and phone service, USA Today

In need of a column topic for this weekend, I asked the Twitter hive mind which family tech-support tasks people were most nervous about. One person replied that calling Comcast led the list, and that made me realize that I was overdue to write a cheat sheet about ways to trim telecom bills.