Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Homepages for Halloween

Looking for some scary sites for Halloween fun? Today on Newsradio 750 KXL we took to the web in search of haunted homepages. Check these out: general overview with great links and information. -- find local haunts, area events, activities and more on a map! great party games, fun ideas for halloween parties and entertaining. -- relive the legends and scary ghost stories. -- e-greeting cards to send to friends and family with Halloween themes.

And keeping kids safe is definitely priority #1 this Halloween, visit the following sites for tips: / / -- all great sites for allergy-free alternative treats. -- enter an address, get a list of predators in your area -- great places to avoid trick-or-treating. -- good site with general-purpose Halloween safety tips. (including tips for pets)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Printer Problems? Try these tips!

They cause a lot of problems for corporate IT departments and home users alike... We're talking PRINTERS. Fortunately for anyone who's ever walked down the hall only to crumble up their hard copy in frustration -- I've got some tips to make the most of your printer.

Update your printer driver -- software (we're talking operating systems, browsers, accounting software, even your favourite word processing program) is regularly updating itself with new and fresh updates -- especially with internet-connected machines these days. Your printer needs software check-ups as well. A great first step to reducing problems is to download the latest driver suitable for your operating system. Find the driver you need at your printer makers' website.

Don't get frustrated Know that printers cause headaches for even the most skilled technicians -- you're not alone. Patience, logical troubleshooting techniques (think of the basics first: is it properly connected, did you recently update your software, can another computer print okay, is the toner/ink properly inserted and fresh?) can often identify and solve problems quickly.

Proper care and feeding is important. Follow manufacturer's directions for everything from what supplies to use to how to regularly clean your printer. Think of a printer as a car -- it needs oil changes, cleaning and occasional repairs to run properly. Neglecting any of these maintenance tasks will shorten the life of your printer (and, like your car -- you'll be stranded when you need it most!).

While we're talking printers... recycled cartridges can be a good way to save some cash -- but be cautious, they're not all created equal -- look for cartridges sold by a vendor you trust (the big box office supply stores, for instance) that are designed specifically for your printer. If your printer is under maintenance contract or extended warranty -- be sure you are not violating these agreements to save a few bucks.

Be an eco-friendly printer: Print only what's necessary (do you really need to print that email?), use the "print preview" function to check pagination, reduce font size and margins when possible, and try double-sided or N-up (multiple images on one side) printing, especially with large documents. Give online reviewing options a try when editing documents, and use electronic PDF receipts for web transactions and bill payment verifications.

Perhaps you've got a tip on how to extend the life of your printer? Want to share an eco-friendly way to save paper and reduce trips to the office printer? Drop me a line (techexpert (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com) or leave a comment below.

Please, think twice before printing this blog! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Want Improved Cellular Coverage? Run For US President!

Seems the McCain ranch in Sedona, AZ has great cellular coverage in what was once a dead spot.

How'd that happen?

As a nominee for the Commander In Chief post, McCain has an expected entourage of press and security (including Secret Service presence) -- all obvious cell phone users. Verizon and AT&T both clarify the temporary towers were installed based on a "business decision".

[So... What did we learn? If you had bad cellular coverage where you live, try winning your party's nomination for US President!]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FCC Commissioner Answers DTV Questions in Pacific Northwest

Residents of the Northwest will have the opportunity to ask questions about the DTV conversion of FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein next week. The meetings, October 20th to 23rd, will take place in four cities in Washington and Oregon.

Complete details in the FCC press release below.

Four-City Tour is Part of Extensive Nationwide Outreach Focusing on Markets with High Levels of Over-the-Air Television Viewers

Washington, DC – FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein announced he will visit Portland, OR, on October 20, Yakima, WA, on October 21, Spokane, WA, on October 22, and Seattle, WA, on October 23 to hold public town hall meetings on the digital television (DTV) transition.

WHO: FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein
WHAT: Public Town Halls on the DTV Transition


WHEN: October 20, 12:15-1 PM
WHERE: Urban League Multi-Cultural Senior Center
5325 NE MLK Blvd.
Portland, OR 97211

WHEN: October 20, 2-3:30 PM
WHERE: Native American Cultural Center
Portland State University
710 SW Jackson Street
Portland, OR 97201


WHEN: October 21, 2-4 PM
WHERE: Clarion Hotel and Conference Center
1507 N. First Street
Yakima, WA 98901


WHEN: October 22, 1-2 PM
WHERE: C’oeur d’Alene Reservation
Rose Creek Longhouse
Worley, ID


WHEN: October 23, 3-4:30 PM
WHERE: Seattle Public Library
Central Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104

WHEN: October 23, 6-7:30 PM
WHERE: Asian Counseling & Referral Service
3639 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S
Seattle, WA 98144

The FCC identified target television markets for specific DTV outreach, including all those markets in which more than 100,000 households or at least 15% of the households rely solely on over-the-air signals for television reception. The five FCC Commissioners and senior Commission staff will visit these and other markets to raise awareness and educate consumers in the days leading up to the DTV transition on February 17, 2009.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Include a description of the accommodation you will need with as much detail as possible. Also include a way we can contact you if we need more information. Please provide as much advance notice as possible; last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill. Send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).


News about the Federal Communications Commission can also be found on the Commission’s web site

Monday, October 13, 2008

Donate Old Cell Phones -- Save the Earth! ... Save A Life?

Seems each week we're talking about the latest and greatest new mobile gadget to save you time, increase your producticitiy and keep you in contact with friends and family. With the constant incentive to upgrade, what about your unused phone?

Cellular carriers are providing an easy option to donate your unused phone to benefit organizations that help victims and survivors of domestic violence. You can participate by taking your phone to any Verizon Wireless store (other carriers offer similar programs, be sure to ask when you buy your new phone for details!).

From a Verizon Wireless Press Release:
In 2008, Verizon Wireless donated wireless phones with prepaid service to several Oregon based non-profit agencies including:
  • Eugene— Domestic Violence Clinic - Lane County Legal Aid
  • Milwaukie— Clackamas Women's Services
  • Portland— Bradley-Angle House
  • Portland— IRCO’s Refugee and Immigrant Family Strengthening Program
  • Portland— Raphael House of Portland
  • Portland— Volunteers of America
  • Portland— YWCA of Greater Portland/Yolanda House
For more information, visit Verizon Wireless' HopeLine website here.

Donated phones are not tax deductible.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple Macbook Buyers: Wait Until Oct. 14

One question I hear often is: Should I wait to buy... ?

While my advice is generally consistent (if you need it now, buy it now) there are great resources for tracking whether or not you should hold off -- especially when it comes to Apple products. Certainly keeping up with sites such as will give you a pulse on what the rumor mill is saying (with varying degrees of inaccuracy). A section of the same website -- the Buyer's Guide -- tracks time between previous updates and contains helpful recommendations such as: "Don't Buy - Updates soon" (current the advice for Macboook and Macbook Pro systems).

While this information fits squarely in the "individual results may vary" category and you may not be able to wait for the elusive and unconfirmed updates 'soon' -- there are occasionally times when waiting just makes sense.

Like now.

Apple has invited press to an event on October 14th. According to Engadget, this one's all about notebooks. So, ya... it'd be a bad idea to pick up a new Macbook this weekend.

Unless of course, you must.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Microsoft PDC 2008 Commercial: "Leave the coffee, Brian..."

Okay, so I'm sorta rolling my eyes... but you hafta admit, it's a break from the traditional promos for Microsoft's upcoming Professional Developers' Conference in Los Angeles later this month.

My favorite line? "Leave the coffee, Brian..." (I hear that often!)