Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Survival Guide: Kid Sites & Tech Support Tips

With Christmas morning mere hours away, there's two things on your mind: Keeping the kids occupied while you cook dinner, and figuring out that fancy new gadget gift.

I'm here to help!

First, with some kid-friendly websites:

Nickelodeon -- My own niece & nephew showed me this one... an assortment of educational, but fun, games will keep them occupied with characters they recognize and age-appropriate skill development.
Crayola -- As one might expect from the crayon-and-crafts maker, lots of activities and exercises to download and print. Great for the "road trip activity" resources.
Fisher-Price -- Proof it's never too young to get your child computing, the younger set will enjoy FP's simple colors and easy-to-manage colors, shapes and basic skills games. Enough fun the adults will want a turn!
PBS Kids -- One of the better kid-friendly sites, look for extensions of television programming they may already be used to with learning and activities in a variety of areas.

There are literally THOUSANDS more. Before setting your kid loose on any website, give them some guidance:

  • Know where they're going
  • Check out the websites in advance
  • Keep a watchful eye

If you're receiving a new Blu-Ray player, computer, or other gadget this holiday... it might be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be.

Some general tips to keep you from total frustration:
  • Take it easy. It's natural to want instant-gratification-- but take your time. Missing a set in setting up electronics can result in disappointment and frustration. Take the time to follow the instructions, complete the setup and learn how to work the device. It will save you headache and fatigue later on.
  • Don't return electronics to the store if they're "not working". There's a decent chance your gadget is not defective, rather you were just not properly trained in how to use it. (Blame the manual, not the user!) Call for tech support, ask someone else to take a look, or set it aside for a few hours and get a fresh look.
  • Take advantage of warranty support-- you might even have warranty support from the buyer's credit card. This is also a good time to mention extended warranties. Actual needs vary by owner, but generally I discourage buying extended service plans. (There's a reason they are sold aggressively.) A notable exception and a must-buy: AppleCare.
  • Tell your insurance company. Often your Home Owner or Renter's policies will cover new, often expensive, gadgets-- but only if they have logged serial number and purchase (or gift receipt) dates. This is especially relevant for high-end digital cameras, computers, and in-car electronics.

Still frustrated? Need some help? I'll be monitoring this blog on Christmas Day-- feel free to ask your question here and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Gadget Gift Ideas on The Lars Larson Show

Today I jumped on The Lars Larson Show (nationwide) to chat tech gift ideas. Lars and I have known each other for nearly 10 years and it's always great talking gadgets and gizmos with him both on and off-air.

Listen (MP3) for yourself. We talk HP's DreamScreen, Joby Gorillapod, SPOT Personal Messenger, and more.... What gadgets are you giving (or hoping to get) this year?

Happy Gadget-giving!

Blackberry Outage Over, Frustration Continues

It's a frustrating day to be a Blackberry User.

Owners of the popular smartphone have been without email service throughout North and South America much of the day.

The service, according to Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry is back online --- but email will be slow to trickle into your handheld device.

For more:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to Dial a Rotary Telephone


Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday: Online Holiday Shopping Strategy Guide

While Friday marked the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, known by many as "Black Friday", many online retailers have their sights (and sites) set on a rush of web shoppers today-- "Cyber Monday".

The term "Cyber Monday" is only a few years old, dating back to the 2005 shopping season. The National Retail Foundation's website coined the term in 2005 to describe a bump in sales among online retailers as shoppers return to their high-speed Internet connections at work.

However, while nearly 100 million shopppers plan to shop on Cyber Monday, according to the survey conducted by BIGresearch, only 13.5% of those shoppers will do so at work. The decline from previous years can be attributed to more widespread availability of broadband at home and on mobile devices.

If you're looking for deals, start with the NRF's own website: -- participating retailers are linked and offers featured.

Other great sites to bookmark this CyberMonday: -- the king of online e-tailing makes cyber shopping easy with a Universal Wishlist feature. Link to anything on the web, even if it's not sold on, and those buying gifts for you can find and buy it. -- This Portland-based site makes it easy to save shopping receipts and confirmation pages.

Keeping yourself secure online is especially important. While the volume of shoppers increasing, you can bet those seeking to steal your personal information will be working as well. Here, then, some tips:

  1. Use unique, complicated passwords for each account -- don't be lazy!!
  2. Be careful when clicking links, visiting random websites
  3. Keep your security software updated
  4. Save your receipts-- use to save complete webpages
  5. Look for the https -- secure padlock for encrypted sites
  6. Consider your own card-reader: SmartSwipe is dubbed as the "World’s first truly secure personal credit card reader" and transfers your card details directly to online sites

Happy Cyber Monday!

Hear this report, as originally broadcast on Newsradio 750 KXL (MP3).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Turkey Day and there are likely two things on your mind: shopping and shoveling your face with more food than one person should be capable of consuming.

First, the deals.

Start with, there are others-- but I've found to be a good place to start. Look online at retailer's websites for special deals that don't require getting up at ridiculous hours. Many of the deals, if they're not already, will be posted at midnight Eastern time (9pm here on the West Coast).

And if you're not up for cooking?

Check out a Portland-based project where you can enjoy Thanksgiving in the comfort of your own web browser. Turkey Tracker is a great peek at Turky prep, without getting your hands dirty...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Portland Blogger Seeks Olympics Gig: Help Her Win!

It's no secret Portland loves blogging.

Blogging about food carts, beer, heck-- there's even a weekly event called Beer & Blog. For one Portland, the love of blogging may send her to Vancouver, B.C. as an official blogger for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

And you can help her get there.

Meet Laurie Matthews, a "historical landscape architect, photographer, writer, recovering graphic designer and journalist, pop culture enthusiast, and unabashed sports fan," according to --duh-- her blog. This ambitious woman is one of five semifinalists who’s in the running to win a trip to B.C. and credentials to blog right "alongside members of the credentialed press corps," as stated in a Microsoft release. (Microsoft is sponsoring the contest to send one student and one female blogger to the Olympics games to use Microsoft technology to file daily reports.)

Check out Laurie Miller's blog here: vote for her at the Microsoft Winter Games Blogging Contest site.

You can vote daily until voting ends on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Make us proud Laurie!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Microsoft Store meets Johnny Rockets -- Awful Dancing Ensues

If you've been following Microsoft's launch of retail stores, you'll know they're taking a page out of the Apple playbook and opening locations in shopping malls across the country. This one, at Mission Viejo, apparently has a thing for Black Eyed Peas.

Note the customers apparent apathy. Also, at 2:14 (from one of the YouTube commenters), check out the girl in the white shirt shoplifting.

And we thought the Windows Launch Party videos made Microsoft look bad. Doh!!


(H/T CrunchGear via. TechFlash)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Square Live at 7: Google Android Smartphones 28Oct09 (KGW-TV)

Join Brian M. Westbrook as he explains today's news from Google, Verizon and a look at what Apple may be doing next. From KGW's "The Square" Live at 7:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Party Hosting How-to from Windows 7-- #SRSLY?

Microsoft is doing a series of House Parties to help generate buzz about the upcoming release of Windows 7. Now while the idea has a place-- we're not all techies, remember-- this video surely is a bit umm... off-base?

Surely Microsoft's marketing team is now thinking to themselves-- to parahprase the tutorial's "script" itself, "Can you believe we put these guys in charge of the launch video?"

Watch this video, then when you're done, hop on over for a hilarious round-up by Washington Post writer Rob Pegoraro (@robpegoraro).

Whatever you do, don't miss the censored version from Cabel Sasser at the bottom of Rob's post...


Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Tech on KGW-TV's The Square "Live at 7"

click above to watch the broadcast as originally shown on

It's time to send the rugrats back to school and young adults everywhere are leaving the nest and moving to campus. I recently took time away from Gnomedex 9 to jump on KGW's The Square "Live @ 7" to share some back to school tech tips.

First up, gadgets!

LiveScribe Digital Pen ($150+) – Amazon. Take notes with a digital pen, record voice annotations, and search the text you wrote and save for later. It's high-tech paper and pen!

Texas Instruments TI-89 Graphing Calculator ($140) – Amazon. The latest in graphing calculators from TI, the TI-89 is a must-have for back-to-school math. Plugs into your USB and even runs apps!

Griffin AirCurve Acoustic Amp for iPhone ($20) It's an amplifier without wires, cables, or batteries. Using acoustic molding and a clever tunnel of sound, the Aircurve jumps your volume up 10db. Perfect for iPhone!

Speck Products Laptop Backpack ($100) Use code "BMW25" for 25% all Speck Products. Get a stylish laptop bag that protects your new notebook!

Back-To-School Tips:

Computer essentials:
  • Focus on RAM, screen, keyboard
  • Battery Life critical
  • Storage doesn’t matter, but…
  • Portability does

Mac vs. PC?
  • Personal preference
  • Coursework may determine
  • windows 7 Coming soon

Tech dorm essentials
  • Plenty of spares!
  • Ink cartridges
  • Media
  • Extra power supply, batteries, etc.
  • Extra cables
  • Backup plans

Helpful Back-to-School Websites: – rent textbooks like netflix, save money! -- capture notes, comments, clips on your phone or web -- Curriculum Wiki, perfect for educators and parents to help students

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cut the Cord: Sprint 4G Launches In P-Town

Back in a time of arctic freeze and #Snowpocalypse I reported on Sprint's new U300 dual-mode 3G/4G device. Well, folks, get out your contract-signing pen... 'cause it's here in Portland and ready for use!

(uhh, unless you use a Mac, more on that in a moment...)

Sprint yesterday opened the wireless floodgates for customers to jump on the WiMax-powered 4G network. They join network partners Clear and Comcast in offering broadband-like speeds on a wireless device.

We're not alone.

While the versatile U300 is capable of 4G speeds in markets such as Portland, Baltimore, Atlanta and Vegas -- with others (such as Seattle & Salem, Ore. coming this year) -- the killer app is having access to the current 3G network in those spots where WiMax hasn't been rolled out yet.

Sprint tells us in a press release:
Sprint made history by launching 4G in Baltimore in September 2008. In addition to Portland, Sprint also launched 4G service in Atlanta and Las Vegas today Sprint also plans to deploy Sprint 4G service in these additional markets in 2009: Chicago, IL; Dallas, Ft. Worth, Philadelphia, PA; Austin, Texas; Abilene, Texas; Amarillo, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Bellingham, Wash.; Charlotte, N.C.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; Honolulu, HI; Killeen-Temple, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; Maui, Hawaii; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Salem, Ore.; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, WA: Waco, Texas; and Wichita Falls, Texas.

One thing the U300 can't do, quite yet, is accommodate Mac OS X or Linux users. While initially promised for "Summer" my contacts at Sprint now tell me "Fall 2009".

But wait, there's a workaround!

For an extra $100, you can plug your U300 into Sprint's Cradlepoint PHS300s [Note: I believe the photo on is actually of the business version] mobile router and turn any WiFi-equipped device (such as your laptop, iPod Touch, personal gaming device... heck, even an iPhone!) into a 4G-uber-fast mobile broadband surfin' machine. Okay, so it's another device to lug around, and a battery to charge, but I'm a huge fan of the ubiquitous nature of WiFi (and sharing your connection among up to 5 devices).

So now the choice is yours: Sprint, Comcast, or Clear -- but if you're a mobile professional, a connectivity addict, or just want the latest toys -- upgrade to WiMax.

For more on this story, listen to my report (MP3), as heard on Newsradio 750 KXL during Portland's Morning News 18 Aug 2009.

Verizon Commerical- Twitter Updates and Facebook

Verizon hits a nail on the head with this clever commercial turning the tables on social media cliches'. Kudos to VZW for giving us something comical for raw comedy's sake... not your typical advertising stunts.

Check it out:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sprint Slapped Over Early Termination Fees

It'll be at least October 21 before we know for sure, but Sprint has agreed to settle a lawsuit over early-termination fees. If you canceled a Sprint contract between July 1, 1999 and December 31, 2008-- you may qualify for up to $95.
A proposed national settlement has been reached in a class action proceeding alleging that Sprint, Nextel and/or Sprint Nextel's use of a flat-rate early termination fee (ETF) in its customer wireless agreement violate the Federal Communications Act and consumer protection laws of the states and of the United States.

The company has agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle the class action lawsuit.

If you think you may qualify for a cash or credit refund, check the website:

For current customers, Sprint won't be charging flat rate early termination fees until at least 2011 -- but that doesn't get you out of your Sprint contract if you were considering switching: pro-rated fees are still fair game.

The confirmation hearing is October 21, but customers can file a claim now.

As is typical, Sprint has denied any wrong-doing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

DoS Attack Results in Twitter "Fail Whale"

Twitter was down for nearly an hour this morning. An inconvenience for some, a burden for others. Not the least of which Twitter security teams fighting what the status blog is calling a denial of service attack.

The outage brings up the question: Has Twitter become a critical communication tool for you?

Stay tuned for more...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nikon Adds DSLRs with Video: D300s, D3000 & Lenses

For those keeping track at home, my primary digital SLR is a Nikon D300 with 18-200mm VR zoom lens. Now, it seems, Nikon -- in a fashion only seconded by Apple, Inc. -- has released new ways to take my money.

Today they announced two digital SLR bodies: The D300s and a consumer-targeted D3000. Sounds like the upgraded D300s will add video-- something we've seen in both the top (D3) and mid-range (D90, D5000) of the lineup.

I first was skeptical of adding video capability to a perfectly-good digital SLR, but now after time with the D90 and D5000, I can see the value, convenience of merging the two functions. Sure there are plenty of better video capture devices (even a Flip-sized handheld camera may suffice), but the convenience of using your existing lens glass (think zoom) is handy at times. To say nothing of not having to cart around a second device (and, more significantly, the batteries, chargers, and memory cards that accompany). Video (often HD video) in a digital SLR is at the very least something to strongly consider.

While I strongly recommend the 18-200 VR lens-- with any Nikon camera, I'm not sure the upgrade to VRII justifies the expense to have the latest. Look for the original 18-200 VR lens and save yourself a few bucks if you can. I'll look forward to testing each.

And speaking of new lenses, Nikon also tells us they're releasing a new 70-200mm 2.8 VRII. THAT, my friends, tops my wishlist. With Christmas right around the corner, I'm already getting ideas...

Happy shooting! Let me know what you think of Nikon's announcements, which I've conveniently pasted here for your review:

Nikon has just announced the highly anticipated professional level D300s and consumer level D3000 digital SLR cameras which deliver a new benchmark for creative freedom. Both cameras balance performance and versatility which make it easy to take great photos regardless of experience.

Highlights of the D300s include:

· 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS Image Sensor

· D-Movie HD Video with external stereo microphone jack

· Continuous shooting as fast as 7 frames-per-second

· Available August 2009 for $1799.95 (body only)

Highlights of the D3000 include:

· New Nikon Guide Mode teaches and builds confidence in SLR photography

· 10.2-Megapixel DX-format Imaging Sensor

· 6 Automatic Exposure Scene Modes

· Available August 2009 for $599.95 (camera outfit with 18-55mm VR lens)

Nikon has also launched the new 18-200mm VR and 70-200mm VR lenses today. Both of these lenses use Nikon’s VR II image stabilization technology, to substantially reduce camera shake-related image blur. The 18-200mm VR lens will be available in September 2009 for $849.95 and the 70-200mm VR lens will be available in November 2009 for $2399.95.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Square Live at 7: Travel Tech with Tracy Barry

Today on The Square "Live @ 7" we talked Travel Gadgets while outdoors on the bricks at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Join me as Tracy and I explore the latest in summer-friendly travel gadgets-- including a camera to keep an eye on things while you're away from home.

To view this video on, just point your browser here. For more, visit and tune in weeknights at 7pm!

Tech News Roundup and a Weekend of PDX Tech Events

A targeted attack exposed sensitive information about the company that runs the popular Twitter service, Microsoft set to open stores to compete with Apple and more news rounds up this week's Tech Expert Topic notes from Newsradio 750 KXL.

Employees at Twitter uses a hosted version of productivity software known as Google Apps. An intruder was able to foil security and obtain access to sensitive data from the company behind the popular social networking service Twitter. This data contained juicy financials, candidate interview records and a reality TV show pitch. The information was then offered to various blogs and news outlets. At least a few took the bait and published the information.

While Twitter is comparing the event this week to having someone "rifle through your underwear drawer" (as in, embarrassing but not exactly revealing), it does serve as a good reminder to change your passwords and use strong passwords.

With one exception, users of the Twitter service itself are not affected. Still, it wouldn't hurt to change your Twitter password anyway. It's just good practice.

Microsoft and Apple
Microsoft this week revealed just a tad more about the retail locations it plans to open. Apple's slice of the computer market dips from 4th place this past winder down to 5th place. Finally, with new more attractive prices on many systems including the popular Macbook line, Apple is calling foul on Microsoft's Laptop Hunter TV spots.

This Week In Local Tech Events...

  • Join me for an action-packed series of rapid-fire talks as Ignite Portland 6 takes place --free, no ticket required-- at the Baghdad Theatre.
  • Tomorrow it's Beer & Blog Happy Hour from 4-6pm, then head down to Pioneer Courthouse Square for KGW's Live at 7 where you can watch the show live (no doubt we'll be outside on the bricks!) and I'll stick around afterwards.
  • Then on Saturday, Join me at a special "End Bloglessness 2" event (Downtown from 12p-5p, free) if you've always wanted to start a blog... experts (i.e. those that know FAR more than I do) will be on hand to answer questions, get you set up and tech you best practices. (While you're at it, add WordCamp/PDX to your calendar NOW.)

For more on this story, listen to my report (MP3), as heard on Newsradio 750 KXL during Portland's Morning News 16 Jul 2009.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grab Your Popcorn: Office 2010 "The Movie" Trailer Released

Sure, it's over-the-top cheese, but the "trailer" for Microsoft Office 2010 is at least worth a sneak. Here's hoping this isn't a case of "you saw the best stuff in the trailer" as disappointed movie-goers are too familiar with:

CNET reports, "For those who want more hard-core information on the next Office, you shouldn't have to wait too long. Microsoft has said it will have a technical preview of the software this month."

More information about Office 2010 expected in the coming days and of course, we'll stay on top of it for you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Throws Chrome into Operating System Battle

Covering the tech world, a few things are certain: There will be much speculation and rumors before any Apple announcement, and Google has been said to be creating everything. (Reports of Google creating a death ray are, at this time, only rumors.)

Late last night Google admitted one of these spculations, an operating system, was actively under development. The Chrome operating system, set for public release in 2010, initially targets low-end netbooks -- those super-portable machines focused largely on basic online activity (email, web browisng, note taking).

Many netbooks now run an older version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, XP. While the Vista requirements are generally too much for netbooks to handle, Windows 7 is expected to fare much better. [I've been running Windows 7 on a netbook with pleasing results.]

While Google hasn't announced much in the way of details, we do know the operating system will be an expansion of the freely-available Chrome web browser.

There's much work to be done, and last night's post raises more questions than it answers, for now this closing thought from Google:
We have a lot of work to do, and we're definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision. We're excited for what's to come and we hope you are too. Stay tuned for more updates in the fall and have a great summer.

Stay tuned to this blog (subscribe for updates via. email) for more of what you need-to-know when details of Google Chrome is released.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Microsoft Warns of Security Hole -- No Fix Yet!

Microsoft is warning users of Windows XP and Server 2003 software of a serious threat potentially allowing hackers control of your computer.

Generally Microsoft will announce security updates and patch vulnerabilities before announcing details. This time, there has been no warning -- there is a workaround allowing users to disable functionality and avoid infection.

Here's what you need to do:
  • Visit the Microsoft Security alert website for self-help instructions.
  • Be especially vigilent about websites you visit, warnings you receive and other online behaviour.
  • Report any susipcious computer activity to your company IT department and look for warnings / advice from system managers.

Affected Systems:
* Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, when used with:
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter x64 Edition
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition
o Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition for Itanium-Based Systems
o Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems
* Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2, when used with:
o Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
o Microsoft Windows XP Professional
* Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3, when used with:
o Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
o Microsoft Windows XP Professional

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comcast launches WiMAX service- Starting in PDX

The second of three planned WiMAX offerings launches today in Portland.

Riding the coattails of Clearwire's existing offering, Comcast Corp. will begin selling customers their own WiMAX service dubbed "High-Speed 2go" according to the company's press release. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, "and more" to launch by year end.

Sprint Nextel Corp. spokespeople tell me their own (or for those keeping track, the 3rd way customers can buy essentially the same service running on the same network) offering will launch "soon".

I'm testing the Sprint 3G/4G dual-mode device now and will keep you posted.

From Comcast:
Comcast is selling two different data cards and service plans:

* Comcast High-Speed 2go Metro service uses a 4G-only data card giving customers the fastest wireless service within the 4G metro coverage area. The Metro device operates only in a 4G service footprint.
* Comcast High-Speed 2go Nationwide service delivers the fastest metro 4G service plus coast-to-coast access on Sprint’s national 3G network. The Nationwide device automatically switches between available 4G and 3G networks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

DTV Switch times for Portland, OR & Seattle, WA

After years of planning and months of procrastinating, DTV "switch day" has arrived.

Starting today, you will no longer be able to watch your local broadcast station programming over-the-air using analog signals. Those without a newer television will need a converter box and compatible antenna, or a subscription to a paid-service such as cable or satellite.

Each station has slightly different plans for today's transition. Here's a list of compiled transition times for Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Remember, after the transition you'll want to "rescan" your converter box to pick up any station frequency changes or moves.

Portland, Oregon:
KATU (ABC / ch. 2): 11:35pm
KOIN (CBS / ch. 6): 7:25am
KGW (NBC / ch. 8): 3:05am
KOPB (PBS / ch. 10): 1:05am
KPTV (FOX / ch. 12): 9:30am
KRCW 9:00
KPDX 9:30:00
KPXG Transitioned already
KNMT Transitioned already
(some info from

Seattle, Washington:
KOMO (ABC / ch. 4): 9:00am
KING (NBC / ch. 5): 9:00am
KIRO (CBS / ch. 7): 9:00am
KCPQ (FOX / ch. 13): 9:00am
KONG (Ind / ch. 16): 9:00am

If you have questions (or know of a station I missed above), hit me up in the comments on by email and I'll do my best to answer!

Welcome to the world, DTV!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update: Fisher Stations Return to DISH Networks

Sometime in the veil of darkness, the months-long dispute between broadcaster Fisher Communications (owners of Portland-based KATU-TV and Seattle's KOMO-TV & KOMO Radio) and satellite provider DISH Network appears to worked itself out. graphicFlipping to the appropriate channel on your DISH Networks receiver, you'll find a return of ABC programming in respective markets. (I can't personally verify, but I'd guess Fisher smaller-market stations have also rejoined the satellite lineup.)

Is it a coincidence this move comes mere hours before the analog television signal shut-off that could leave Fisher customers with the clumsy step of needing a converter box for that one lone network not broadcast on DISH? The timing is quite suspicious. (Tonight is also the continuation of the NBA finals on ABC.)

If I had to guess, for what it's worth, Fisher couldn't risk losing more viewers.

Welcome back Fisher stations to DISH Networks! We missed you.

Disclosure: I have previously provided technology content for KATU's "AM Northwest" and KOMO's now-defunct "Northwest Afternoon" and KOMO 4 News as well as Fisher Interactive websites. I have no relationship with Fisher Communications at this time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BING: What it really means... Acronym definitions.

Fair warning - this post should be considered time-wasting and the reader is hereby warned of the extreme lack of value that will follow this disclaimer.

So I was thinking about Microsoft's Bing search, err... decision engine today and couldn't help but jumping on the "what does it really mean" bandwagon. Here are some of my ideas, I'm sure there are hundreds more. Vote for your favorites and if you have some of your own, by all means comment away.
  • BING: But it's not Google (source: Twitter)
  • BING: Ballmer: "I need Gates!"
  • BING: Because it's no good
  • BING: Betsy - I'm now gay
  • BING: Beautiful images no guts
  • BING: Booze is needed greatly
  • BING: Brian Is Now Goofy! (thanks: @marcusatmsft

I did warn this post would be a waste of your time. :-p

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No More Excuses: Google makes switch from Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL easy

If you are one of the large number of users stuck using AOL or wanting to migrate from Yahoo or Hotmail to Google's Gmail, it just got a whole lot easier.

TechCrunch has details of Google's new migration tools.

Now, I'd encourage users to take it one-step-further. Sign up for Google Apps, register a domain name and create your own or email address with a domain YOU control. Google Apps is free and a domain registration is $8-10/year.

Then whenever you change email service providers, intern providers, you can take your email address with you!

You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

140: The Twitter Conference - #tshirt Contest Winner!

I love simplicity.

This might be why I fell in love with Twitter. The requirement to get to the point in less than 140 characters mandates brevity. With this abbreviated burst of communication, my ADD-esque distraction tendencies, and my naturally snarky sense of dialogue, Twitter is perhaps the most perfect medium for me (@BMW).

It comes, then, as no surprise (to me anyway) that my short, to-the-point entry into the 140 | The Twitter Conference T-shirt contest for free conference admission (and, of course bragging rights), announced in early April. The contest rules simple:
come up with a better phrase for the back of the T-shirt, win a free seat at the conference

Apparently, my entry:


Was exactly the sort of cleverness judges (event speakers as I understand) were looking for.

For me, it was just another day fit into 140 character updates.

My contest submission, in entirety:

Learn more about the event, May 26th & 27th, 2009 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

From the "140" site:
"We’re bringing together the top gurus in the Twitosphere to discuss all things Twitter, from understanding the business value of Twitter to exploring the what makes a great Twitter app."

Simple as that! Now, who's going? Guess I am now!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ignite Seattle April 29 Schedule Released

Brady, pioneer of the now worldwide Ignite format of talks, sent out the schedule for the next Ignite Seattle. The event takes place Wednesday, 4/29 at downtown's King Cat Theatre. The event is free.

7PM - Doors Open

7:30 PM - Paper Tower Contest Begins - Build the tallest tower you can out
of just 5 sheets of paper and tape (See Details)

8:30 - First Set of Talks
Hillel Cooperman (@hillel) - The Secret Underground World of Lego
Dawn Rutherford (@dawnoftheread) - Public Library Hacking
Roy Leban (@royleban) - Worst Case User Experience: Alzheimer’s
Shelly Farnham (@ShellyShelly) Community Genius: Leveraging Community to
Increase your Creative Powers
Dominic Muren (@dmuren) - Humblefacturing a Sustainable Electronic Future
Ken Beegle (@kbeegle) - Decoding Sticks and Waves
Maya Bisineer (@thinkmaya) - Geek Girl - A life Story
Scott Berkun ( How and Why to Give an Ignite Talk
Scotto Moore ( Intangible Method

9:45 PM - Second Set of Talks
Secret Guest Speaker from Ignite Portland
Mike Tykka - The Invention of the Wheel
Jen Zug (@jenzug) - The Sanity Hacks of a Stay At Home Mom
Jason Preston (@Jasonp107) - Goobye Tolstoy: How to say anything in 140
characters or less
Chris DiBona (@cdibona) - The Coolness of Telemedicine
Ron Burk - The Psychology of Incompetence
Katherine Hernandez (@ipodtouchgirl) - The Mac Spy
Jamie Gower - I Am %0.0002 Cyborg
Beth Goza (@bethgo) - Knitting in Code


Wearable HD: VholdR Launches ContourHD, Avail. Soon

My Seattle-based friends at VholdR have launched their second wearable camcorder, the ContourHD just in time for Summer outdoor sports!

The ContourHD high-definition upgrade to the action-sports wearable camera I featured on KOMO-TV's Northwest Afternoon after CES 2008. The new version sports 720p 30fps or standard-definition 'high action' 60fps (TV, as you know, is 30fps) video, up to 16GB memory MicroSD memory cards for longer recording, and maintains the simple slide-to-start/slide-to-stop ease that made the original popular with the action sports community.

Add to the high definition camera an online community for sharing videos, VholdR has a recipe for success in this troubled economy.

“ContourHD is the perfect camcorder for the weekend warrior in your life who is skiing, boarding, mountain biking, or even riding a motorcycle,” Marc Barros, VholdR’s CEO explaisn. “ContourHD and our Easy Edit software are making HD action video easy to shoot and share online in seconds.”

The ContourHD will be available from REI,, on and action sports retailers nationwide. Suggested price: $299. For a list of locations accepting pre-orders, visit

I spoke with CEO Marc Barros earlier this morning. He tells me he's excited to get away from his desk now that the new camera has launched. Congratulations Marc and the entire VholdR team on an exciting launch!

CountourHD Features (from VholdR Press Release):

2 Video Settings
High Definition: Fill your screen with vivid, widescreen (16:9) action video. With a full 1280x720 (pixels) window and 30 frames per second, your videos will be just how you remember them, big and awesome!

High Action: Ideal for making the fastest adventure sports appear as smooth as butter. Recording standard definition video at 60 frames per second (twice as many frames as TV quality video) you won’t miss any of the action.

Record over 8 Hours of HD Video
ContourHD can record up to 8 hours of HD quality video or 16 hours of SD quality video to an internal microSD memory card (compatible up to a 16GB memory card). Powered by a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this robust camera recharges through a USB cable connected directly to your computer.

Wide Angle Lens:
At 135 degrees, the new ContourHD lens strikes the perfect balance in capturing the entire scene without over-distorting the video.

Wearable Anywhere
Patent-pending TRailTM Mounts “slide and lock” ContourHD onto a series of different mounts for your goggle, helmet, handlebar, vehicle, or anywhere else you want to mount it. Wear HD video on more than just your head.

One Button Simplicity
ContourHD’s operation couldn’t be simpler with a single oversized record switch (to be operated even with a pair of gloves on) and click to share software.

Laser Alignment
Two lasers and a 192o rotating lens ensure you line up the shot every time. Turn on the lasers and rotate the front lens until the two laser points are horizontally aligned.

Armored Body
A water-resistant camera for all seasons its light (4 ounces/116 grams) anodized aluminum body withstands dust, dirt, mud, and snow.

Easy Edit Mac and PC Software
Easy Edit™ software (Mac and PC compatible) makes it automatic to import your videos from the camera, clip out the best parts, and share them to

Friday, April 24, 2009

InnoTech 2009: Live on Newsradio 750 KXL

The 6th Annual InnoTech conference was by many accounts, the best yet. A complete report is coming soon, but for now check out clips of my live radio reports, as heard on Newsradio 750 KXL, from Thursday morning.

Listen to Report 1 (6:40am): Innotech eMarketing Summit Day 1 recap, economic impact of IT spending, green computing, should you blog? (feat. Marshall Kirkpatrick, Rick Turoczy and Josh Bancroft), preview of IT Executive of the Year Awards honoring Trail Blazers CIO Chris Dill.

Listen to Report 2 (8:40am): Should you upgrade to Microsoft Windows 7, preview of Rahaf Harfoush keynote on social media during Obama campaign, Apple iPhone sales results

Check back for more coverage from InnoTech Portland 2009.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: Green(er) Gadgets on The Square Live @ 7 w/Stephanie Stricklen (KGW-TV) The Square Logo

Mentioned during the segment:

Watch the video on

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Hosting An Award Show!

Joining the ranks of Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Crystal and Jon Stewart, I'm hosting an awards show! The 6th Annual IT Executives of the Year Awards will take place during InnoTechPDX on April 23rd in Portland.

My objectives for this awards show are are follows:
  1. Entertain: Make one person laugh.
  2. Present the awards.
  3. Keep it moving (nobody likes 4.5 hour shows).
  4. To Not Suck. Much?
The presentation and reception is open to all InnoTech participants. Unfortunately, I can't tell you where, specifically, inside the Oregon Convention Center it's at since I don't even know yet... (I suppose if youfind me, you'll find the awards?)

Who knows, maybe you'll even WIN! :-P

Tech Events for April 22-24, 2009 -- Join Me!

There's a lot going on this week in Portland-- join me if any of the following events strike your fancy, or propose a new one? (Follow me on Twitter for last-minute updates!)

14:00 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): To blog or not to blog: Making blogging with Silicon Florist's Rick Turoczy, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb and Josh Bancroft (Legion of Tech, others).

15:30 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): Just the Tips Please - Implementing a Successful Online Strategy

19:00 -- KGW's The Square: Live at 7 with Stephanie Stricklen -- Newschannel 8 NBC/Portland or watch (w/open mic breaks!) online, 7-7:30pm. (Come down to KGW's Pioneer Courthouse Square studio to watch the show live, check out the gadgets, or just say hi!)

19:00 -- OMSI After Dark: OMSI After Dark! (thanks @addictedtotext for the reminder!)

06:40 -- Live on Newsradio 750 KXL: Weekly look at the week's hot tech topics, this week: Live from InnoTech PDX! (Tune in to Portland's Morning News on 750 AM / Portland or listen live online at

08:00 -- InnoTechPDX (E145-146): Delivering Business Impact: A Strategic View of the Optimized Desktop and Windows 7

08:40 -- Live on Newsradio 750 KXL: Weekly look at the week's hot tech topics, this week: Live from InnoTech PDX! (Tune in to Portland's Morning News on 750 AM / Portland or listen live online at

09:00 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): How Best-in-Class Companies Make Word of Mouth Marketing Work Successfully

09:00 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): How Best-in-Class Companies Make Word of Mouth Marketing Work Successfully

09:30 -- InnoTechPDX(E147): The State of the Mobile Industry with Jason Grigsby

10:00 -- InnoTechPDX(Portland Ballroom 256): Companies and Communities: Participating Without Being Sleazy

10:30 -- InnoTechPDX (E147): Mobile Platform Panel with Raven Zachary (iPhone), Jon Maroney (Handmark), Don Park (Android), Jason Harris (Nokia/Symbian), Jason Mauer (Microsoft)

11:30 -- InnoTechPDX(Portland Ballroom 255): Yes We Did: Strategic Insights and Social Media from the Campaign that Changed History with Rahaf Harfoush, New Media Strategist, Member of Obama's Social Media Team, & Associate Director of the Global Cooperation Initiative at the World Economic Forum

11:30 -- Lunch (tentative) (Widmer Gasthaus, ): Innotech Lunch Meetup/Tweetup at Widmer Gasthaus (details at Upcoming)

13:00 -- InnoTechPDX(Portland Ballroom 256): What is your Social Media Conversion Rate?

13:00 -- InnoTechPDX (E147): Mobility Lighting Talks

14:00 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): Social Media Marketing

14:30 -- InnoTechPDX (Inside Exhibit Hall E): InnoTech Happy 45 Minutes

15:30 -- InnoTechPDX (E147): The iPhone Market

15:30 -- InnoTechPDX (Portland Ballroom 256): Hot Seat Panel: Hot Seat Panel-Real World Advice From the Experts

16:30 -- InnoTechPDX (TBD):
6th Annual IT Executives of the Year Awards & Reception

18:00-20:00 -- ($15, Candy Bistro Burger Bar, 904 NW Couch Ave): 2009
SoMe Awards

FRIDAY APRIL 23, 2009:

16:00-18:00 -- (Green Dragon): Beer & Blog Portland

22:00-23:30 -- ( Strange Love Live

Mophie Juice Pack Air at Apple Stores NOW!

If you've seen me out-and-about, you've probably noticed the green backpack hugging my iPhone 3G. The Mophie Juice Pack is an add-on battery that gives additional life to iPhone 3G users (an iPod Touch model is also available).

The folks at Mophie put the must-have iPhone 3G battery pack on a diet and the slimmer version: Mophie Juice Pack Air is available starting today at Apple Stores and online.

Here's a quick table I hacked together to show how the two Mophie Juice Packs compare:
Battery: Standby time (up to, hrs)350270
Battery: Talk time (3G)64.5
Battery: Internet use (3G)64.5
Battery: Audio playback2820
Battery: Video playback86
Battery: capacity1800mAh1200mAh
Weight (ounces)3?

More in the press release from Mophie here:
Mophie Announces Worldwide Availability of Juice Pack Air Accessory at Apple Stores and

World’s Thinnest ‘Works with iPhone’ External Battery/Protective Case almost doubles iPhone 3G battery life and offers the full protection of a hard-shell case in a low-profile design

Los Angeles, CA – April 21, 2009 – mStation | mophie today announced the immediate availability of Juice Pack Air, currently the world’s thinnest Apple-certified external battery for iPhone 3G. The rechargeable 1200 mAH battery, integrated into an ultra-thin case, is now available worldwide at Apple retail stores and for $79.95 in black, white, and purple.

“Since debuting the Juice Pack Air last month, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from around the world” says Ross Howe, sales and product development director for mStation | mophie. “The Juice Pack Air is an intuitive, ergonomic solution that provides added protection and external battery support in a low profile design. We think it’s poised to be one of the most essential iPhone 3G accessories ever introduced to the market.”

Juice Pack Air features an innovative “standby mode” that allows users to control when they want to take advantage of additional battery support versus simply using it as a protective case. The integrated 4 LED charge status indicates how much power is remaining in the external battery. Unique pass-through design allows users to simultaneously charge their Juice Pack Air and sync their iPhone 3G with iTunes via the included USB cable.

Additional battery time provided by Juice Pack Air:

* Standby Time: Up to 270 hours
* Talk Time: Up to 4.5 hours (3G) Up to 9 hours (2G)
* Internet Use: Up to 4.5 hours (3G) Up to 5.4 Hours (Wi-Fi)
* Audio Playback: Up to 20 hour
* Video Playback: Up to 6 hours

For more information on the Juice Pack Air, please visit

About mStation | mophie
mStation is consistently praised for its ability to create quality products with cool Industrial Design. mStation recently acquired mophie, an iPod accessory company with a wide array of award-winning cases. Their products can be found in Apple Stores and major retailers worldwide.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DirecTV & Comcast Fined for Calling "Do Not Call" Customers

Comcast and DirecTV are in trouble with the FCC for calling customers after they'd been added to the "Do Not Call List". Umm, I'm no genius, but isn't that the exact POINT of the Do Not Call List?

Apparently the FCC agrees.

PC World has more from the "DOH!" files:
"The illegal calls consisted entirely of prerecorded messages in which consumers were told that "from time to time [DIRECTV] extend[s] exciting offers to our loyal customers like you, but because you are on the DIRECTV Do Not Call List, we are not able to contact you for these exciting offers." The message then told call recipients to "press one" to remove their numbers from the company's Do Not Call list."

What do you think of the "Do Not Call List"... effective? A waste of effort? Are you on the Federal Do Not Call registry?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Logitech Wi Life Foils Florida Robbery

I've been a fan of Logitech consumer electronics since their 1980's-vintage computer mice. Most recently I've purchased and used a variety of Harmony remote controls to simplify and automate our home entertainment center.

Seems I need to add "home security" to the list of Logitech products I rely upon.

The Wi Life system by Logitech was, quite publicly, credited with leading to the arrest of four crooks riffling through two homes in Florida. Jeanne Thomas was watching her home webcam at her workplace in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and called 911 with a play-by-play. She tells CNN:
I'm watching my home on live monitor, and there is a black man in my house, and he is robbing it," she told the dispatcher. The woman on the other end of the call asked Thomas where she was, and Thomas replied, "I'm in Fort Lauderdale, at my work.
I haven't used the system myself, but this sounds like quite the endorsement if you ask me!

The best PR? Happy customers.

(Homeowner Jeanne Thomas was interviewed on The Today Show this morning and mentioned the product by name.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

E-Book Readers on The Square Live @ 7 w/Stephanie Stricklen (KGW-TV) The Square Logo

Watch the video on

Here are the E-book readers we discussed on Live at 7 on Thursday 10 April 2008:

And for those on Twitter who asked, the iPhone 3G case is a Speck Products "CandyShell" (use "BMW25" for a 25% discount!).

Finally, huge props to TheOneTrueBix for his, as usual, stunning photos. Here's a good one, click on the image for more!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twitter fuels G-20 protests & Conficker Update

Tech Expert Topic Notes for 2 April 2009

Social networks are bringing friends, former classmates and even protesters together. Protests at the G-20 Summit in London is being fueled by Twitter... With a look at how these new site are changing how groups are mobilized, K-X-L Tech Expert Brian Westbrook...

Listen to this report, originally broadcast on KXL-AM Thursday 2 April 2009: kxl_techexpert-g20protests&conficker_20090402.mp3 (MP3)

Follow @BMW on Twitter and check his blog at

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Google Creates CADIE In Time For April Fools' Day 2009

With the Conficker Worm on techie minds going into April Fool's Day, some might think the online jokes would take a year off. For those who thought the annual holiday would be overshadowed by a pesky virus: The joke is clearly on you.

Google gets us started with a hilarious take on artificial intelligence. The new Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (or, thankfully, "CADIE" for short) has concluded:
"Through analysis of Google's index, I hae determined that I <3 pandas."
The end result?

The most hideous, repulsive and disgustingly creatively designed bastardization of HTML the web has seen since graduating from "Under Construction" animated GIFs and the deprecation of an equally-obnoxious BLINK tag.

As you can see in the screenshot below, and for yourself, the Google experiment makes even the most offensively customized Myspace page look like a Webby award winning site.

No doubt additional April Fools' jokes are to follow. Google continues to set the high standard when it comes to time-wasting activities the first day of the every Second Quarter.

As for Conficker? Hopefully this ends up being a joke as well...

UPDATE / Bonus: Okay, that didn't take long... here's another site worth checking out today (with the best "pitch": "It's like Flickr, but for your nose.").
...we think you'll find this nimble, Cloud-based, SaaS startup to be a breath of fresh air for social networking.

Conficker Worm Wreaks April Fools' Day Havoc

It's been around for awhile, but as April 1 approaches, new concerns about the Conficker virus have alarmed computer security experts. Here's what you need to know:
  • Conficker virus impacts unpatched systems running Microsoft's Windows operating system (Vista, XP, 2000 and server versions may be affected). Mac OS users are not known to be impacted by this worm.
  • Those who are behind in their operating system patches, or are running Windows automatic updates service should download and install the Conficker removal tool
  • If your computer belongs to your employer or is connected to a network, please check with your IT staff or Helpdesk for specific plans to combat this, and all, malicious software.
We'll be monitoring this virus on Newsradio 750 KXL -- including any impact on April 1, -- as always you can email KXL Tech Expert Brian Westbrook (email: techexpert AT brianwestbrook DOT com) if you have questions or comments about this story.

Listen to this story, as broadcast on Newsradio 750 KXL on 31 Mar 2009.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

KING 5 Morning News on KONG 6/16 - "Travel Tech" (26 Mar 2009)

Thursday morning, on KING5 Morning News on KONG 6/16, we talked "Travel Tech" with the latest high-tech gadgets for Spring Break travel. Watch this blog for more gadgets and look for the video clip to be posted here shortly!

MoboSteady - personal, inexpensive, "steadicam" for taking smooth video using small cameras, 3-in-1 device (steadicam, tripod, shoulder-mount). ($95,

Casio Exilim EX-FC100 - new high-speed cameras takes pictures BEFORE you press the shutter so you never miss the shot. ($349,

Nikon D90 Digital SLR
- innovative digital SLR takes stunning photos and records high-definition video! (body only: $890, / kit w/lens: $1150,

Creative VadoHD
- pocket high-definition camcorder records movies with built-in USB connection for easy transfer. ($195,

SPOT satellite messenger - life-saving satellite (not cellular!) tracker tells friends, family you're okay, notifies emergency services when you're not! ($110,

HP 2140 Netbook
- ultra-portable computer loaded with features incl. hard-drive parking accelerometer to keep data safe during tumble. ($449+,

iPod charging station - compact charging stand with night-light, perfect for hotel rooms. ($38,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

KGW's Studio on the Square "Tweetup" - 11 Mar 2009 - #squareup

KGW Newschannel 8 invited Twitter followers to a "tweetup" at their new Pioneer Courthouse Square "Studio on the Square" in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Live @ 7 Anchor Stephanie Stricklen introduces Station General Manager D.J. Wilson.

For more from the 11 Mar 2009 event, search for event hashtag: #squareup

Monday, February 23, 2009

Busting Tech Myths on The Square Live @ 7 w/Stephanie Stricklen (KGW-TV) The Square Logo

Watch the video on

Megapixels matter. -- many consumers are falsely led to believe that "megapixels", a measure of image resolution recorded by a digital camera, are the most important aspect of a camera purchase. While one aspect of a camera's performance, often the megapixels are secondary to lens quality, a camera's speed, and other features.

You must buy software to keep your computer secure. -- while you certainly can buy anti-virus software and other online protection programs for your computer, some of the best tactics to keep your computer free from malicious virus and spyware don't cost anything at all. Free anti-virus software is in many cases just as good at the paid versions and keeping your computer safe frequently involves diligence, "cautious computing" and staying current with the latest software patches.

Online software is inadequate. -- Today's software no longer comes in boxes with large manuals. More often this software -- even the most elaborate professional applications -- is loaded electronically. Other types of applications, such as or Google Docs solutions. Many online web-based software packages do as much if not more than their traditional counterparts. Key advantages of using online apps: No need to update your local computer, access your programs (and often data) from any machine, often less expensive (free?).

Must upgrade your system every two years. -- This is even *less* true today. There as a time when computers were advancing quickly and became obsolete every few years... now, with more and more computing happening online, it's not uncommon for the older computers to perform just as well. Many users find completely whiping their hard drives and re-loading the operating system will give them that "showroom performance".

High-Definition TV requires subscription service. -- While it is true a large number of premium high-definition television channels are available only to those willing to pay for cable or satellite service-- most network channels are available free, over-the-air, using your existing antenna (or in some cases a low-cost upgrade). You will, of course, need a HDTV to watch the higer-quality broadcasts, but if you're looking for Heroes, my favorite 30 Rock, or want to see Live @7 in all it's stunning HDTV glory, consider over-the-air HDTV.

Online video is illegal. -- On the contrary! Most online video is very legal and supported by the very content providers that bring these shows to your television nightly. Look towards supported services such as Hulu, iTunes and the networks' own websites to stream first-run TV shows directly to your PC or mobile phone.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BMW's Media Twitter List: "The Ocho" Invades Twitter -- New Usernames to follow

The Portland-area Twitterati know @KGWNewsChannel8, @TheSquare and @StephStricklen from local NBC-affiliate KGW Newschannel 8. Well get ready Twitter users, a flood of folks from "The Ocho" joined Twitter last night. Here's a rundown of the names I've (my Twitter name is @BMW, add me!) collected from KGW (and other Pacific Norhwest media), of course -- let me know who I've missed and I'll update this post:
  • @KGWNewschannel8 - general Twitter account for KGW (headlines, station news)
  • @TheSquare - producer account for Live at 7 show (show prep, notes, feedback)
  • @StephStricklen - anchor of KGW's Live at 7 (personal goings-ons, behind-the-scenes)
  • @Aweiss - mostly personal account of "Producer Aaron", freq. voice behind @TheSquare
  • @pdxpeacock - KGW anchor Joe Donlon
  • @lauralKGW - KGW anchor Laural Porter
  • @zaffino - KGW Chief Meteorologist Matt Zaffino (get it " Zaffino"?)
  • @burton_scott - KGW "Night Team" reporter Scott Burton
If you use TweetDeck (or similar?) you can toss the following query into a search box to follow the KGW-related conversation in one handy column:
KGW OR TheSquare OR StephStricklen OR AWeiss OR pdxpeacock OR OR lporter2009 OR zaffino or "burton_scott"

Other Northwest Media Twitter accounts you might find interesting to follow:Fans (or professionals) of broadcast journalism may also want to follow:...of course there are HUNDREDS more. What media-related or local outlets are considered "must-follow"? Drop your own list in the comments (or Twitter me, I'm @BMW) and I'll update the list with your suggestions.

Twestival Comes to Portland, V-Day Viruses to Your PC

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 12 February 2009

It's called "Twestival" and it's coming to 175+ cities near you to benefit a worthy cause. A meetup of Twitter users, and others concerned about providing clean drinking water to regions of the world that would otherwise go without, the event happens today at The Goodfoot Pub on 2845 SE Stark Street. For more information, visit the Portland site or learn more about the global campaign.

It wouldn't be Valentine's Day without the annual reminder... be cautious about e-greeting cards! Those saying "I love you" this year via. email will join 2.5% of all spam -- some containing malicious spyware, nasty computer infections, or other dangerous software. Be skeptical when opening attachments, cautious when clicking links, and -- as always -- be sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.

Thanks for listening and don't forget to check out my appearance today on KATU-TV's AM Northwest where we'll be checking out gadgets to make your life easier...

Listen to this segment, as broadcast on Newsradio 750 KXL on 12 February 2009.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ignite Portland and Other PDX Tech Events

UPDATE: Ignite Portland 5 tickets were gone in 5 min. 29 seconds! If you didn't get yours, add yourself to the waiting list here or show up (early!) to the Bagdad Theater on the 19th for "general admission".

Why should you play bridge? Have you ever wanted to learn the history of fonts? These topics and more are among the 18 slated for the fifth installment of Ignite Portland. Held a few times a year, the free event at the Bagdad Theater highlights inspiring talks, educational presentations, and a fun evening of networking -- all with McMenamin's-level hospitality (read: good beer!).

I'll be at Ignite Portland 5 coming up in two weeks and look forward to seeing as many listeners (and viewers!) there as I can! Get your tickets now or show up on the 19th.

The event takes place Thursday, February 19th at the Bagdad Theater at 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd from 7-10pm. If you have a ticket (free), you can take your seat as early as 5:15pm. Those without tickets (lots of seats held for non-ticketholders and there's even a "waitlist") line up early and enter at 6pm.

Get your tickets (FREE) starting at 10AM Thursday:

Other area tech events I'm attending where you can catch up with me (feel free to buy me a beer!) and say hello:

Thu 19 Feb 09 -- Ignite Portland 5 (free) at Bagdad Theater. Doors at 5:15pm w/tickets, Doors at 6:00pm for non-ticketholders.

Fri 20 Feb 09 -- Beer & Blog (weekly, free) at The Green Dragon. Weekly tech scene happy hour. Get help with your blog or just come mix and mingle with felow Portland techies.

Mon 23 Feb 09 -- Social Media Club PDX.

For more information on area tech events, be sure to visit:, Portland's Tech Calendar.

To hear this story, as broadcast on Newsradio 750 KXL on 5 February 2009, click here (MP3).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personal data safe? Microsoft's Data Privacy Day

Microsoft invaded traditionally Hallmark turf earlier this week with their "Data Privacy Day" public-awareness campaign. The software giant encourages us to think about how we reveal personal information in a fun, if not somewhat corny, online quiz.

The quiz, which not surprisingly didn't work well in my Firefox browser, asks questions about your online activities and ranks your performance between "Your cover's blown" to "You're in deep cover", complete with secret agent icons.

Now, don't expect this campaign to change your world, make you a security and/or privacy expert... but it does serve as a great reminder that there are risks to sharing your personal information with online sites.

Here are some important tips to remember everyday, not just the so-called "Data Privacy Day":
  • Be aware of what information you are sharing and how it will be used. If in doubt, refuse to give it out.
  • Review a website's privacy policy and site terms. Sure, they're long legal documents and often a checkbox away from getting what you came for... but these agreements contain important details about what a website may and may not do with your data. (Of course, scrupulous sites will take advantage of your data anyway!)
  • Review your accounts, passwords, and social networking profiles often for revealing (and incorrect) information.
  • Change your passwords often. When was the last time you changed a password? Do it now!
  • Be careful what you click. Emails may contain attachments that are ticking time bombs, websites that look sketchy -- probably are. And the IRS will never send you unsolicited email. A healthy dose of skepticism could save your identity and major headaches to follow.

Microsoft has also released a much-less corny video documentary with some solid recent data about online privacy from a variety of perspectives. It's five minutes, but worth watching. (Use some of that time you save each time you quickly and click 'Accept' on a website's privacy policy.)

My Privacy: Safely Navigating Life Online

For more information, visit Microsoft's "Data Privacy Day" website. While you're joining me in a collective eye-roll at the idea of a Microsoft holiday -- if you really want to get into the spirit of things -- hop on over to my Amazon wishlist and feel free to buy me a Data Privacy Day gift. (What, you didn't know buying me presents was part of Data Privacy Day?!?)

Sunday, January 25, 2009 Server Error in '/careers' Application.

In light of layoffs for the first time in Microsoft's history, there's a certain irony to Sunday's error message on the "Careers" page: Careers page broken with database error - captured 25 Jan 09 0645am PST --BMW.

Server Error in '/careers' Application.


Need some help guys? (Screenshot created 6:45am 25 January 2009, repro steps: Visit, click "careers" in bottom footer. Result: Error as shown above. Expected: Microsoft's Careers database. Browser: Firefox.)

Complete error text, for those who might be able to help restore the page (of course, I suppose you'd already need to have a job at Microsoft to offer assistance)...
Server Error in '/careers' Application.
The log file for database 'Careers' is full. Back up the transaction log for the database to free up some log space.
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

Exception Details: System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: The log file for database 'Careers' is full. Back up the transaction log for the database to free up some log space.

Source Error:

An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

Stack Trace:

[SqlException (0x80131904): The log file for database 'Careers' is full. Back up the transaction log for the database to free up some log space.]
MSArm.UI.Common.XpSession.CreateNew(HttpContext Context) +461
MSArm.UI.Common.XpPage.CreateNewSession(String redirectUrl, Boolean signout) +81
MSArm.UI.Common.XpPage.CheckSession() +4333
Microsoft.HRIT.Staffing.Web.External.Pages.HomePage.Page_Load(Object sender, EventArgs e) +43
System.Web.UI.Control.OnLoad(EventArgs e) +99
System.Web.UI.Control.LoadRecursive() +47
System.Web.UI.Page.ProcessRequestMain(Boolean includeStagesBeforeAsyncPoint, Boolean includeStagesAfterAsyncPoint) +1436

Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:2.0.50727.1433; ASP.NET Version:2.0.50727.1433

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Microsoft: 5,000 jobs cut, tough times ahead

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 22 January 2009

Proving even software giants are not immune to the effects of this troubled economy, Microsoft has announced today 5,000 job cuts – 1400 expected today.

The Redmond, WA-based company released a press release just after 6am this morning warning of lower profits sending shares in pre-market trading down 7 percent. They’ve also advised investors not to expect “quantitative revenue and EPS guidance for the balance of this fiscal year”, due to market volatility. (Microsoft’s fiscal year ends in June annually.)

The most troubling news for those heading to work at various campus locations worldwide today:
Microsoft will eliminate up to 5,000 jobs in R&D, marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, and IT over the next 18 months, including 1,400 jobs today.”

Previously this week, Intel Corp. announced cutbacks in its Hillsboro, OR workforce, among other locations.

For more on this story, listen to my report (MP3), as heard on Newsradio 750 KXL during Portland's Morning News 22 Jan 2009.

Updated - Airchecks from today's Microsoft layoffs story:
KXL-AM: Tech Expert 6:40am Live - Microsoft Layoffs & transition
The Lars Larson Show (regional) - Microsoft Layoffs, Intel Impact analysis and local impact
KOMO-AM: Microsoft Layoffs - What Microsoft and Intel layoffs have in common

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration 2009: Makes Smooth Transition

The 56th Inauguration of the President of the United States of America is underway and clearly will be a day to remember.

While millions gathered at the Nation's Capitol -- a tiny army of web workers, including Macon Phillips incoming Director of New Media, unveiled the new website of for the new Adminstration.

Here is what looked like just before the transition:

And here is a screenshot of the new while Obama gave his Inaugural address:

And eight years ago? The online transition wasn't so successful, as I noted in my 2001 post just after the previous shift of Presidential power.