Recent Writing and Podcasts (mid-January to late February)

On the heels of the news that I'll be writing (and talking) more about Macworld, here's a summary of recent articles and podcasts there and all over.

Articles

Podcasts

  • Macworld podcast #445: My first appearance as co-host! We talked about Google's updated Wallet offering with cell carriers, malware in hard drive firmware, solar farms and data centers, and new emoji.
  • Clockwise #75: Apple Car, government spying, Samsung spying, and Apple's greatest threats.

Big Hair to Fill

You may have heard that veteran Macworld staffer Chris Breen joined a fruit company in the Bay Area. (Raisins? Apricots?) Chris spent 30 years as writer, and nearly 20 at Macworld. With him gone, who would fill his big hair…I mean, shoes?

Who has two thumbs and eight other fingers and loves writing about Mac stuff? No, not Two Thumbs Eight Fingers McGee. (I hate that guy.) Me! Because I'm not in California, it didn't work out to take over his job. Instead, in addition to the security and privacy column I've written weekly for Macworld since late September, I'll be co-hosting the weekly Macworld podcast with executive editor Susie Ochs and other Macworld staff, and writing the Mac 911 column, where reader questions are researched and answered. You should subscribe to the podcast right now, shouldn't you?

It's a good shift for me, as a long-time senior contributor for Macworld. I've written…I don't know how many articles for Macworld. Hundreds? It'll be a pleasure to have more recurring gigs there, especially the podcast, as I've been trying to get back into regular audio work. (The podcast I launched with Christina Bonnington, Not Enough Time in the Week, has to go on hiatus, as there's too much of a topic overlap with what we'll be talking about in the Macworld podcast, sadly!)

What does this mean for my other writing? Oh, don't you worry. You'll still find me at Fast Company, the Economist, Boing Boing, and other publications. I have books in progress and a new one coming out this week on networking and security in iOS 8. With the funding nearly complete for The Magazine: The Complete Archives, a combination of my time and outside help will get that out the door by April.

And Old & New, my fresh periodical idea, will still launch as planned: as a blog with commissioned articles and a podcast. I'd always intended to launch it slowly but steadily, instead of all at once with the money and time commitment required for that.

It will be nice to have a solid anchor at Macworld, reducing the amount of time I spend pitching stories, many of which don't turn into assignments, and instead spend more time being productive in a way that benefits other people.

There Is Not Enough Time in the Week for My New Co-Hosted Podcast!

I've been absent from a regular podcast for a while as I wrapped up The Magazine and sorted out my freelance career. But I'd been incubating an idea for a while, and enlisted my friend, Christina Bonnington, a staff writer at Wired, to co-host Not Enough Time in the Week. She and I have complementary technical backgrounds and interests, and we'll quiz each other each week to explain the events of the last few days — why is China blocking VPNs (and what is a VPN)? If Uber is planning self-driving cars, is that realistic in the near future? The FCC is changing how it defines broadband, and what does that mean and how will it change our available services?

We're looking forward to listener feedback and suggestions. We're keeping it timely and short: 30 to 40 minutes per episode. Give a listen below, or find us via our RSS feed or on iTunes.

The Freelance Life: Pushing a Rock Uphill, But the Slope Seems To Be Ever Shallower

As a 20-year veteran of freelance writing, my return to nearly full-time work as a reporter comes at a time when online writing has never been paid at a better rate. In 2001, I made much more per word, but it was largely for print. As online advertising revenue continues to grow and specialized publications hire more staff, especially in tech and business, this seems to be putting pressure on publications to pay more. For myself, I need to write about 250 articles in 2015 to support my family as part of how I make a living (or fewer articles and more other work). It's a challenge because of the overhead of pitching, but I'm happy with what I do and optimistic about the future. I explain this at great length in this post.

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The Latest in Glenn Writing & Podcasting

My latest batch of articles from all over:

  • An Internet of Treacherous Things (MIT Technology Review, January 13). The "Internet of Things" (IoT) will grow from about 5 billion devices today to 50 billion in five years. But with the security evidenced by the largest deployed home Internet devices today, broadband gateways and routers, are we ready to keep the IoT from betraying us?

  • How “Gangnam Style” broke YouTube’s counter (Economist, December 10). Google said it ran out of numbers to count Psy's video. It had to re-engineer things to account for more than 2,147,483,647 plays.

  • Marriott plans to block personal wifi hotspots (Boing Boing, December 31). The hotel chain files an FCC petition to let it control unlicensed wireless around its facilities, and faces opposition from Google, Microsoft, and citizens.

  • How and why you should use a VPN to protect your data's final mile (Macworld, January 16). The easy options for single-click VPN-for-hire to protect all your data on a Mac or iOS device.

  • AT&T Offers Rollover Data While Defending Throttling (TidBITS, January 12). A new data rollover plan is limited, but could save some users some money, but AT&T keeps trying to pretend that "unlimited" use means something other than its intended original definition.

  • The Software and Services Apple Needs to Fix (this blog, January 7). One of the most popular entries ever on this blog, I describe a litany of problems that feel ignored or unfixed in iOS and OS X. Over 300 comments chime in with new or long-running problems.

I also did podcast-related things

  • Dr. Katie Mack Explains the Universe (live event, Ada's Books, January 13). I interviewed Katie Mack, an astrophysicist, about how everything works. (You can listen directly in the post below or download the episode.)
  • Marriott, Wi-Fi, & the FCC (Packet Pushers, January 16). We talked at some length and somewhat technically about why hotels want to jam Wi-Fi.


The Latest Articles (Dec. 12, 2014)

My recent articles include:

Three Serious Weekend Stories: Encryption's Ease, Apps' Ecosystems, Patreon's Abusers

For the holiday weekend, I wrote three rather serious stories that may be of interest.

In the Economist, you'll find my feature at the start of the Science and Technology section in print (read online). I noticed a trend that was accelerating: it's easier than ever for people with no interest in tweaking configuration settings or installing special software to have robust encryption for messaging, email, and elsewhere — so good, in fact, that governments are now complaining. My editors agreed, and "Cryptography for dummies" is the result. Governments can still obtain what they need, but not "wholesale": they can't vacuum up all our data and sift it. They'll have to use better police work, and our privacy will be better protected.

At Six Colors, Jason Snell's Apple-focused site, I wrote about the tradeoffs between Web apps and native apps. The difference isn't so much the coding for a lot of apps, which are often thin wrappers around the equivalent of web sites; rather, it's often about the payment, notification, and offline storage offered in an app ecosystem.

And on this very blog, I explained the trouble Patreon is having with settling a policy about users of its subscription-style crowdfunding site that supports creators in the regular production of work. Patreon's policies and enforcement have allowed a literal national socialist and many harassers and abusers to stay onboard. Should Patreon be more determined in kicking out people who, not on Patreon's site, engage in behavior that violates its terms of service?

 

The Latest Articles and Podcasts

As usual, I've been a busy boy, especially regarding podcasts. I have three podcasts I want to launch, and when the The Magazine finishes its run in three weeks, I'll be gearing up to work on all of those. In the meantime, I'm recording all over and filing articles like mad, too. (I've got three more articles queued up that should run later this week at Macworld, the Economist, and Six Colors.)

Recent articles:

Recent podcast appearances:

  • Random Trek, "Collective" from Voyager, back in August. This is Scott McNulty's bold project to randomly go through every episode across all Star Trek series and movies.
  • The Incomparable has split up its radio-play specials into bite-sized servings as The Incomparable Radio Theater! Listen to me as Nicola Tesla, with as good a Serbian accent as I can muster, in Two-Fisted Tales of Tesla (show episodes 0.2 and 0.5). You can also hear me with an exceptionally plummy accident in 0.1 as a character in The Fog.
  • Jason Snell and Dan Moren had Jacqui Cheng and me as guests on Clockwise episode 63 (Nov. 20). It's a strict 30-minute format. In a separately available bonus question, I explain the joys of the Bed Buddy.
  • Jason and I recorded a new episode of The Periodicalist, my irregular show about the future of publishing. In "Episode IV: A New Beginning," we talk about how a company with all the advantages of IDG fell into the innovator's dilemma, me shutting down The Magazine, and Jason booting up several new efforts in his new career.
  • On the Incomparable's main podcast, I appear in episode 220, "Authentic Cop Mustache," discussing webcomics; and episode 221, "Do the Hand-Wavy Thing," rounding  up the recent Doctor Who season. Listen to the extra for episode 221, "Gerbils and Tamagotchis."
  • I appeared on MedaTwits, a PBS videocast/podcast, on Nov. 14 to talk about new models for long-form journalism.

Mediatwits: Long-Form Journalism

I appear on today's Mediatwits, speaking from my experience at The Magazine. The show's description:

 

Long-form journalism is seeing something of a resurgence on the web. While many people believe digital media has pushed people toward short, bite-sized listicles, deeper stories continue to resonate when they hit the right audience. Plus, online publications such as Atavist, The Verge and even BuzzFeed regularly publish long-form pieces.

Have Red Pen, Will Travel: Hanging up My Shingle

My labor of love for the last two years, The Magazine, will finish up with its last regular issue on December 18. It's possible we'll do special issues or other work in the future, but we'll end subscriptions then. I'll be resuming my full-time freelance career, and have been ramping up where and how much I write already.

But I'm also considering part-time or full-time editorial jobs that would allow me to stay in Seattle, or editorial consulting work on setting up platforms or production flows. I'd love to bring my experience in podcast hosting and production, electronic periodical publishing, print publishing, and managing app development to a site or publication that's trying to chart a course forward in all those directions.

I've been writing professionally since 1994, starting with trade publications, and, by 1998, contributing to mainstream news and business print and online periodicals, like the New York Times, Wired, Business 2.0 (columnist), Popular Science, and the Seattle Times (columnist).

Since 2005, I've written regularly for the Economist, contributing heavily in the last four years. Since 2010, I've written 350 online items for the Economist, mostly for its Babbage blog (now retired and archived) about the intersection of technology and science with culture. I have also contributed business and arts stories. I appear regularly in its Technology Quarterly section (in print and online), had my story featured on the American edition's cover in March 2013, and twice had my stories on the cover of the Technology Quarterly section. (Some links to articles are at the end of this post.) With the shift away from blogs at the Economist, I now contribute regularly to the online sections for Business & Finance and Science & Technology.

I've also had long-time homes at Boing Boing and Macworld. I regularly write both news and long features for Boing Boing, while I've contributed reviews and features for nearly 15 years to Macworld. I recently signed up to write a weekly security and privacy column for Macworld about issues of interest to Mac and iOS users. For nearly 20 years, I've written and contributed to TidBITS; I wrote the code for their content-management system and consulted deeply on the launch and first year of their user-supported journalism subscriptions.

At The Magazine, I started as executive editor just after its October 2012 launch, and bought the publication from its founder, Marco Arment. I've produced every issue since #3, meeting an every-other-week production schedule as a staff of one with contract help for over two years. We'll finish out with #58. I've edited over 200 features, most of them long-form, and many of them reported, working closely with writers, photographers, and artists.

As part of The Magazine, I planned and executed the successful crowdfunding of a hardcover anthology, with 1,200 advance buyers before the book hit the press. I hired designers, and carried out every stage of production: funding, accounting, programming a user reward management system, creating and releasing digital rewards, working with the printer, and managing the logistics of shipping books to 50 states and dozens of countries.

I'm also a long-time podcaster, with my first series in 2006 (about Wi-Fi). I'm a regular guest on the sci-fi/fantasy podcast, The Incomparable, and just concluded a nearly two-year run of The New Disruptors, a podcast about creative people using new tools to connect with audiences and own their work from conception to distribution.

I can write, edit words and audio, interview, design, and manage. I believe I'm good to work with, and I can provide references from people I've worked for as well as people who have worked with me. I love collaboration.

Some of the clips of the last couple of years that I'm most proud of: