Apple to Fix 3G iPhone, Supposedly in October

AT&T just call to tell me that in October, Apple is supposed to upgrade the 3G iPhone for free to solve this problem, which I’ve been experiencing:

Businessweek writes:

“Complaints over dropped calls and choppy Web connections on Apple’s iPhone 3G have sparked a wave of debate in the blogosphere over the root cause of the problems. Two well-placed sources tell BusinessWeek.com the glitches are related to a chip inside Apple’s music-playing cell phone. The sources add that Apple (AAPL) plans to remedy the problems through a software upgrade rather than through a more disruptive step, such as a product recall.”

Why I keep talking about Nokia’s US Service

Some people have asked why I keep talking — on this blog and elsewhere — about Nokia’s US service problems. This video explains my motives. In a nutshell, it’s because I want to keep options open for journalists. Tools like the Nokia N95 represent a way for journalists to make their own opportunities, regardless of the fate of news organizations. But if Nokia continues to mishandle its US market, it could easily lose out to the Apple iPhone — which, while slick, is not the best tool for mobile reporting/blogging.

NewsTools 2008: I have always depended on the kindness of friends

I’m not exactly Blanche DuBois, but…

I’m at the NewsTools2008 unconference at Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale, CA — where 150 news/media people, academics, and technologists are gathered to figure out better tools to support journalism that matters. (Follow my live coverage on my amylive Twitter account.)

…And I have apparently come down with a cold. It hit me at the opening reception last night, and it’s continuing today. My friend Maurreen Skowran kindly gave me some Sudafed, so I’m functional — but just feeling slightly spacey. So anyone meeting me here, if I seem a little weirder than normal, that’s why.

Like many Mac users, I had a LOT of trouble getting onto the wifi here at Yahoo HQ — something that galled me. I’ve had this laptop on a lot of wifi networks. Why should I have problems with access at Yahoo HQ , of all places?

Anyway, my Poynter colleague Ellyn Angelotti showed me how to get online here. (Thanks, Ellyn!) Mac (Leopard) users who are guests at Yahoo, here’s how you do it:

  1. Click on the Airport icon to bring up the Airport menu.
  2. Select "join other network"
  3. Select "show networks"
  4. Selecting the network you’ve been told to usehere today, and enter the password you were given.

Don’t ask me why, but that makes it work for me and Ellyn. Spread the word.

Just before Ellyn solved my immediate access problem, Scott Karp of Publish2 solved my long-term problem. He talked me into finally buying a wireless modem card for my laptop as "internet insurance" — I might need it rarely, but when I need it I tend to really need it. I’m finally sold, dude. I realize why it’s worth the money. Thanks.

It all reinforces to me the value of having a posse. Right now, so many people in my personal and professional posse are available to me online, via Twitter, instant messaging, e-mail. It’s nice, at least for a few days, to have my posse so close at hand. It’s nice to see their real faces and hear their real voices. I never want to take my posse for granted. Thanks.

Journalism: A Toxic Culture? (Or: Why Aren’t We Having More Fun?)

Despair, Inc.
Remind you of any journalists you know?…

(NOTE: I originally posted this article on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. But I thought Contentious readers might be interested in it, too.)

Most of what I do is help journalists and news orgs wrap their brains around the Internet. Generally I enjoy that work. Lately, though, I’ve been getting quite aggravated at the close-minded and helpless attitudes I’m *still* encountering from too many journalists about how the media landscape is changing. Those attitudes are revealed by statements, decisions, actions, and inaction which belie assumptions such as:

  • The only journalism that counts is that done by mainstream news orgs, especially in print or broadcast form. Alternative, independent, online, collaborative, community, and other approaches to news are assumed to be inferior or even dangerous.
  • Priesthood syndrome: Traditional journalists are the sole source of news that can and should be trusted — which gives them a privileged and sacred role that society is ethically obligated to support.
  • Journalists and journalism cannot survive without traditional news orgs, which offer the only reliable, ethical, and credible support for a journalistic career.
  • Real journalists *only* do journalism. They don’t dirty their hands or distract themselves with business and business models, learning new tools, building community, finding new approaches to defining and covering news, etc. As Louisville Courier-Journal staffer Mark Schaver said just this morning on Twitter, “[Now] is not a good time [for journalists] if you don’t want your journalism values infected with marketing values.”
  • Journalistic status and authority demands aloofness. This leads to myriad problems such as believing you’re smarter than most people in your community; refusing to “compromise” yourself professionally by engaging in frank public conversation with your community; and using objectivity as an excuse to be uncaring, cynical, or disdainful.
  • Good journalism doesn’t change much. So if it is changing significantly, it must be dying. Which in turn means the world is in big trouble, and probably deserves what it will get.

There’s a common problem with all these assumptions: They directly cut off options from consideration. This severely limits the ability of journalists and journalism to adapt and thrive…

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Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

OpenDemocracy, via Flickr (CC license)
What might this Malian girl and I have in common, and what might we learn from each other? How could we know if we can’t really connect?

This morning I listened to an excellent Radio Open Source interview. Host Christopher Lydon was talking to Global Voices Online founder Ethan Zuckerman and GVO managing editor Solana Larsen. I’m a huge fan of GVO and read it regularly — mainly since I enjoy hearing from people in parts of the world I generally don’t hear much about (or from) otherwise.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion concerned how homophily shapes our individual and collective view of the world. Homophily is a fancy word for the human equivalent of “birds of a feather flock together.” That is, our tendency to associate and bond with people we have stuff in common with — language, culture, race, class, work, interests, life circumstances, etc.

Zuckerman made a profound point: Homophily makes you stupid. Which is another way of saying something my dad told me a long, long time ago:

“You’ll never learn anything if you only talk to people who already think just like you.”

Here’s what Zuckerman actually told Lydon about how homophily makes it hard for people from around the world to relate constructively…
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N95 Report: Why I had to give up

NOTE: I posted the article below about 10 minutes too soon. After completing the Nokia firmware upgrade as instructed, using their software on a Windows laptop, my lovely N95 morphed into an expensive brick. It won’t start.

It’s surprising how upset I am about this. I’ve held off for years on getting a serious cell phone because I don’t really want or need a phone, I need a moblogging tool. I hate talking on the phone, it’s a low priority for me.

Last Sunday, when I decided to take the plunge and get the N95, I was so excited. And believe me, right now I really needed something positive to be excited about. I’ve been vastly overworked and very stressed.

I really WANT to be moblogging. I’m so ready for it. I’ve been wanting to do it for ages. But the tools weren’t where I needed them to be. They still aren’t. I can’t be bothered with carrying 3 or 4 different pieces of gear and lugging a laptop about. I was willing to pay top dollar for a serious integrated moblogging tool.

Yeah, I know the iPhone 3G *might* be coming out soon. But no word whether it would have a Bluetooth keyboard option, and I really really really really hate iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard.

And, yeah, I know the Nokia N96 *might* be coming out soon too — but after this experience I’d only want to go with a Nokia again if I could get it from a local retail store where I could exchange it fast if it bricks out again. Right now, their only store are in NYC and Chicago.

I’m not ashamed to tell you this experienced has reduced me to tears on this lovely spring day…

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Why Blogging Your Problems is Good

If you get really creative about it, failure and frustration can be the most engaging part of your blog. Don’t be scared to be human.

On a discussion list, a colleague recently asked for opinions about whether it’s a good idea to sometimes blog about the sucky stuff: Obstacles, frustrations, disappointments, setbacks, etc. Several people on this list responded to say that they only preferred to write — and read — about “successes.”

I can understand the general reluctance to blog about problems: Fear of being vulnerable, or of looking dumb or unprofessional (which is just another kind of vulnerability). It can be difficult to realize that sometimes vulnerability can be your greatest strength — especially in blogging.

Here’s my reply to that thread where I explain why blogging your problems can and probably should be a key part of your blogging strategy…

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Flock Rocks! (Mostly, So Far)

I never thought I’d do it, but yesterday I switched over to a new default browser — Flock.

I’ve been a huge Firefox fan for a long time because I need a browser I can customize extensively. And Flock is very similar to Firefox — It comes from the same code base and has a very similar interface. Most Firefox plugins run well on Flock. So I could carry over to Flock almost all the functionality I valued from Firefox. It took a fair amount of work because I’d customized Firefox so heavily, but I think it was worth it.

Here’s why…

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Newspaper Biz: Evolution Isn’t the End of the World

Rob Lee, via Flickr (CC license)
Some ways of approaching what looks like the end of the world are more constructive than others.

(NOTE: I originally wrote this for Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. I’m cross-posting it here because I think it might also interest Contentious readers.)

This morning I read in the New York Times a cold litany of everything that’s going demonstrably wrong with the newspaper business. (Found it thanks to Jim Romenesko.) It’s a long, depressing, and familiar list: layoffs, buyouts, papers folding, declining revenues, etc.

A couple of things Richard Pérez Peña wrote in that story caught my attention.

First, “Newspaper executives and analysts say that it could take five to 10 years for the industry’s finances to stabilize and that many of the papers that survive will be smaller and will practice less ambitious journalism.”

Yeah, no kidding. Personally, I’d be surprised if many dailies are left standing after the next 7-10 years, if they don’t make fast, fundamental changes to their revenue strategies. (I touched on this theme yesterday.) I realize this is dire news to people who can’t envision doing anything but working for a traditional newspaper. But on the bright side, for those with flexibility and a bit of business savvy, I think that right now there is more space than ever in the news market for entrepreneurial journalistic ventures.

Why my optimism?…

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How and why to get started with blogging: The REAL answer

afkatws, via Flickr (CC license)
Don’t just start blogging. Spend some time scoping things out first.

Almost daily, people e-mail me to ask me for advice about their online-media careers. I just got such an inquiry this morning. It started out pretty typically:

“I found your Contentious.com recently. I’m very interested in online writing as a career. Can you tell me something about it? How do you start, etc.”

OK, after I explained that I needed his question to be more specific so I could offer a meaningful answer, he offered a bit more detail: He’s about to graduate with a sociology degree, likes writing, and wants to combine those skills to earn a living. Still an overly generic inquiry — but since it’s a basic question many people have, here’s my honest answer:

Don’t assume in advance that being a writer (in any medium) is your ultimate career goal. Often, media is merely a means to an end — I guess that’s why they call it “media,” since it’s usually “in between” real stuff happening.

In my experience, it’s more useful to pay attention to what’s really going on, what people really want or need, and what you really have to offer, than to assume you already know what you “should” be doing. You can’t really be in business by yourself, since business is about the exchange of value. Who are you going to trade with, and what do they need?

Increasingly, participating in online, conversational, and social media (from blogs and forums to Twitter and Second Life) can help nearly anyone find their niche and their path. Because ultimately, these forms of media are about PEOPLE (especially binding communities) — not technology.

On the practical side, here’s the advice I offered this reader…

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