Here’s to “old” technology

February 7, 2009 by

Brent Cannon: Brent CannonI read an article in the San Jose Mercury news the other day which said Santa Clara University is taking the phone lines out of dorm rooms. Seems modern students don’t use the old “land-line” phones. They all have cell phones now – so there is no need for the “old fashioned” phones.

But I beg to differ, and here’s why. First – students claimed nobody ever called the old phone in the dorm room. I say, people will call if they know the number. I doubt people don’t call because they have a ‘hang up” about calling an old phone. Sure they’ll call. If they think you are in your room – they’ll call. Why not?

Second – In an emergency the old land line is the best bet. When the power fails, a cell phone will eventually need to be re-charged and will eventually “die” especially if you are making a lot of calls – which will tend to be the case in an emergency. Land lines can still function when the power is out.

Third – service is also likely to not work for a cell phone in an emergency. Cell sites get jammed and calls don’t go through. Land lines are more reliable and more likely to be able to place and accept calls when cell phones cannot.

Fourth – you don’t have to sign long contracts and agreements with land lines.

The downside is that land lines are not mobile and cannot take pictures. But when all you need to do is have a conversation with somebody – they work just fine.

So, from my perspective – land lines may not be in vogue – but they still can play an important and functional roll. Here’s to the old, outdated, not so cool technology of the olden days!

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Gadget Friday: Instant Video Surveillance System

January 16, 2009 by

Scott McGrewThis gadget will help you keep an eye on things at home. Home security cameras have been around for quite awhile, but this setup from local company AVerMedia has won awards because it’s so easy: four cameras and a DVR.

Plug the DVR into the wall, turn the cameras on, put them where you want (they’re wireless), and you’re all done.

You can monitor all four cameras at once like a mall cop.. or you can zoom into just one.

Model: Avermedia EB1704HB WiFi-4 Hybrid DVR/NVRs
More info: http://www.avermedia-usa.com/surveillance/productdetail.aspx?id=21
List Price: $1599 (we’ve seen it available for $1279)

How Have You Been?

January 12, 2009 by

Craig Herrera:
Craig HerreraI love catching up with friends of old! For me, one of the best parts of life is collecting friends along the journey. And even though we lose touch, they are often in my mind. Different people come into my mind at different times, it all depends on what I might be doing. A memory of an old friend might make me smile while I’m watching an old TV show, or I might be visiting a city or restaurant, or maybe a song on the radio, or it might be a movie that will spark a memory of a friend I’ve made in my adventures. I am so happy that I am now in touch with so many old friends, all thanks to the internet and a little web site called Facebook, perhaps you’ve heard of it! 🙂

Our morning show Executive Producer John Peck started a Facebook page for our morning team last summer and since we did, and I started my own page, and I have had so much fun catching up with old friends, or should I state, friends I’ve made in life.

craigyearbookI love it! I’ve found old roommates from college, old co-workers and most recently, old high school friends. The timing is just perfect too as I need to plan our 20th Class Reunion in the summer of 2010. I have 17 months to find everyone and plan this milestone and I’m so happy to say I’ve tracked down about 10 percent of my class already. And many other friends who were in different classes before and after me. It’s fun to learn where they live, what they are doing and how life has changed as they have become adults in different parts of the country and world. For example, one of classmates now lives in Belize and has her own business. A few are in Portland where one is working with children on The Mentoring Project, and one is raising a family and home schooling her children. While some have moved, one is back in Germany, another is in Dallas, and many are near home and raising beautiful families. One was even elected a U.S. Congressman in the last election. craigyearbook2I grew up in a small town called Pojoaque, New Mexico, it’s about 10 miles north of Santa Fe, between Santa Fe, Taos and Los Alamos, and it’s so great to hear from some of my classmates. When I said I found 10 percent of my class, I mean all 12 of them! My graduating class was a just over 100, so I hope I can round them all up in time for our reunion in the summer of 2010. I was honored to be Class President, so I think the duty of organizing the reunions fell in my laps back in 1990, and I gladly accepted and now I’m working to make sure we get it all together. This has just been one of my journeys back in time on Facebook, oh what fun!

Craig Herrera
NBC Bay Area Meteorologist

Early Morning Leads to Unexpected Entertainment

January 11, 2009 by

Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonI guess it’s official. I am a morning guy. We keep unusual hours. Laura and I used to get up work day mornings at about 3:00. That changed a week ago to 2:15 because our newscast now starts at 4:30AM instead of at 5:00AM.

We have been doing this now for several years. Nine years at this station, and before that I did the morning news for two years in Phoenix.

I have always steered clear of saying you get used to it, because I don’t think you really do. It just is not natural to wake up at two or three in the morning on a daily basis for years on end.

But I really noticed a change recently while Laura and I were on vacation. I woke up at 4:00 or 4:30‘ish – feeling refreshed and ready to go. I pushed it by trying to stay in bed until 5:00AM.

On the flip side I cannot stay up past 8:00PM. I tried. I was watching a great game on TV – and woke up in the 4th quarter. I fell asleep on the couch. Family wants to go to diner at 7:00 and I cringe. I know I will virtually be sleepwalking by then.

And here’s the real kicker. One of the final nights of vacation, Laura and I both woke up at about 2:30 and couldn’t sleep. We all got up. She, the cat, the dog and I all went downstairs and watched infomercials. It was a hoot. We saw some funny stuff. It is amazing what they come up with to sell. I saw the “Shamwow” – and these slipper things you put on your feet and “swiffer” the floor by kind of skating around! There was some sort of putty, glue stuff, and all sorts of kitchen gadgets. The thing is, you laugh, but then they “mind meld” you and you start thinking, “Hey, that’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll order that.”

Anyway, we didn’t buy anything thing, but we watched for an hour or so and decided to go back to bed and try to sleep. I think I napped for another hour and then got up.

So I guess it’s official. I’m a morning guy now. A really early morning guy.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

Gadget Friday: Ssshhh! The Super Secret Camera Spy Lens

January 9, 2009 by

Scott McGrewThe Super Secret Camera Spy Lens, or SSCSL from here on out, is a lens that screws onto your exisiting threaded camera lens. Inside is a mirror. The mirror allows the SSCSL to act as a periscope – while it would APPEAR you’re pointing the camera in one direction, the picture you’re taking is actually at 90 degrees.

So if you have a familiy member who absolutely freezes up into a stupid posed grin every time you point a camera at them, you can pretend to be taking a picture of something else and catch them in a nice unposed shot.

Now, if you look closely -or even casually- at the lens, you see the trick. But the truth is, most people won’t pay any attention to what you’re doing.

Works with any SLR, and any other camera with a threaded front. 37mm, 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, and 77mm

Cost: $55
More info: http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/candid-photography-spy-lens

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Technology Reporter

The Inouye Old School House Party

January 7, 2009 by

Mike Inouye:
Mike InouyeI think I’m old fashioned.

Cool.

My son’s birthday was at the end of December and we had, amongst other family festivities, a small party with a few of his more frequent playmates… Strike that, he’s just turned three and at that age they don’t play WITH each other so much as NEAR each other. I guess they’re more like “other kids he plays AROUND.”

No matter.

My wife and I threw him a little party where the kids made their own pizzas, even choosing the toppings they wanted (or didn’t want, as you see from these pictures).

pizzascookingjustplainpizza

After the pizzas were cooked and NOT eaten, and the juice/punch fueled kiddies had filled their tummies with Goldfish crackers, cake and ice cream instead, they escaped to the play area for another hour of playing near each other.

No fights, no crying… it was a GREAT party.

Later, we got a message from one of our friends sharing some pictures and letting us know how much she enjoyed coming to an “old fashioned” birthday party that someone actually had at their house. (After thinking about it, we realized in his scant three years of party-going he’d celebrated birthdays at Gymboree, KidsPark, Pump It Up and a number of other pretty big shindigs at parks around the Bay Area.)

Our pizza party was not intended to be any sort of counter-culture statement. In fact, we thought it was actually kind of lazy of us. It does, however, seem to be a bit different than the type of suggestion you find as a result of a simple web search for “kids birthday party”. (Click here to see some results.)

Imagine that: we managed to have a cool birthday party, one that was not the same old thing, by having the same old “home” party I used to have when I was a kid.

So, the party was old fashioned… which made it new fashioned…

I hope that doesn’t cause some sort of infinite loop or weird rift in the time-space continuum.

I think I’m old fashioned.

Cool.

Mike Inouye
Pizza Party Animal
NBC Bay Area Traffic Anchor

New Year’s Cravings

January 6, 2009 by

Laura Garcia Cannon:
Laura Garcia CannonYou know that New Year’s is here, not just because all the sales on half price 2009 calendars at the mall kiosk, but all the ads on how to lose weight. Beat the diet monster, have you called Jenny yet? I heard there’s a new Atkins diet that now lets you eat carbs! Wasn’t the lack of eating carbs that made this diet famous and successful for some? Meat, bacon, lamb shanks oh my! Add a piece of bread? It’s just not Atkins anymore! So the “no carb” is now “some carb,” and when I looked up the “low fat” – I also found the “full fat” diet! No kidding, whole milk, cheese.. Mmm can I dish up a nice bowl of ice cream on that one? Is there a hot fudge diet? Maybe I should patent that one now. I do remember seeing a book at the checkout line on the peanut butter diet, I bet Homer Simpson has the “Du-ohnut diet.” Just follow it up with the detox diet and we’ll call it good. Three day diet, Zone diet, Mediterranean diet, South Beach diet, Grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, Hollywood diet oh my. I don’t even want to go on a diet but it’s amazing how many there are out there, makes me hungry for some reason.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

The Goat That Brought Two Anchors Together

December 23, 2008 by

Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonScott mentioned a website the other morning – universalgiving.org – and mentioned how he could jokingly give a goat to his sister for Christmas via that site. He then showed a picture of his sister, as well as the little goat.

goat

The goat caused me to have a flashback of my fist date with Laura. So, now I have to explain.

Laura and I met while working for competing stations in Fresno, which is a whole story of its own. We exchanged phone numbers, and I decided to ask her out. But I wasn’t sure about a big, serious date. I thought I’d make it something more casual and fun – take the pressure off by doing something a little less formal. So, I asked if she wanted to go to lunch and the zoo one afternoon.

Laura worked in the ABC station’s bureau in Visalia. So, she drove to Fresno and I drove to lunch and the zoo.

On the way to the zoo, I asked how long she thought she might be there. I meant, how long did she anticipate staying in the Fresno/Visalia market. My thinking was that if the date went well, should I pursue things? If she was trying to advance to a larger market, it might be a waste of time to attempt building a new relationship. But, she took my question to mean how long she was going to stay in Fresno that afternoon – as if I was already wondering when she might be leaving to return to her Visalia apartment. She thought I was already getting bored or something, and I was figuring out how to spend the rest of my day.

Anyway, we got that squared away and continued to the zoo. One of the stops was inside a little petting zoo area, where they had cute little goats, which looked just like the one in Scott’s story – hence the flashback.

Anyway, the rest of the day went well and we had fun. Obviously, there were other dates and well – the rest is history. We got married, moved from the Fresno market, and here we are anchoring the morning news – going on nine years in the Bay Area. And a little black billy goat is part of the story.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

‘Tis the Season to Run the Gauntlet

December 15, 2008 by

Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonThe holiday season is in full swing – especially the shopping. I know what they are saying about the rough economy, but I have been to the mall, and from what I can see, there are plenty of people out there. Maybe they are not buying as much, but they sure are shopping.

Holiday crowds are a notorious turn-off for some shoppers, but the thing that bugs me the most is having to run what I call “The Gauntlet.” That is just walking from store to store, trying to dodge those people manning the kiosks. Malls didn’t used to have kiosks, but now they are jammed with them.

Most people working a kiosk are not horribly invasive. But an increasing number of them are becoming downright annoying. I just want to shop. I just want to go from place to place without being hassled. But it is getting insane. They stand in your way. They holler greetings, and try to hand you things – anything just to engage you in a conversation so they can try to make a sale.

And you can see it coming. You are walking towards a kiosk and you can see them already picking you out. You try not to look them in the eye – but they come right up and engage you anyway.

They say things like, “Can I ask you a question?” Lame. And yet we fall for that all the time. I guess our natural reaction is to respond to a person who wants to know something. But the only thing they really want to know is if they can con you into buying something you do not need or want.

How about those people who work for the kiosks that sell those warm wrap things. You know – the beanbag things that you heat in the microwave and put across your shoulder. If you don’t virtually sprint past these people, they’ll have one of those things around your neck before you know what hit you. Just try getting it off! They can put it back on faster than you can take it off. All the while they jabber their sales pitch. You can feel like a little gnat, trapped in the spider’s web – and the spider is closing in. You struggle but cannot escape!

Then there is the “hand a person something for free” approach. If you try to walk by – they jockey for position – forcing you to recognize them and acknowledge their wares. You say, “no thanks” – but see – you have engaged in conversation. That is the opening they want. You are in the web!

Others try to “guilt” you into buying. They say things like, “not even for the pretty wife of yours.” Or, “Doesn’t the lovely lady deserve….” In my head I’m thinking, “she deserves way better than what you are trying to pawn off on me.” But I politely try to keep walking.

I often think about what it used to be like stepping onto a car lot. They used to swarm a person – and then give the hard sell. But these days, it seems most sales people have learned the soft approach. They are not so invasive – so intense – so “in your face.” I wonder how long before some of the kiosk workers evolve to that same point? And how about the malls – I know they are making money by jamming as many kiosks in as they can – but do they realize the hard sales approach can actually be yet another incentive for shoppers like me to stay away?

Oh well, what can I expect, after all –‘tis the season.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area News

Gadget Friday: BackTrack

December 13, 2008 by

Scott McGrew:
Scott McGrewBushnell BackTrack ($74)
http://www.bushnell.com/gps/gps_backtrack.cfm
Watch video of Gadget Friday Segment

The Bushnell BackTrack is a GPS enabled device that allows you to set three points of interest and then find them again. So, for instance, you could mark the place you parked your car and then consult the device when you return to the parking lot.

Holding it horizontally, an arrow will indicate what direction your car is, and the distance in yards to it. Just follow the arrow and you’re back where you parked.

It only works outdoors (which is generally true of all GPS devices) and is a little large for my tastes – about the size of an Olympic medal. So, it’s not something you’ll carry in your pocket. But it might be nice to carry in your glove compartment for the next time you park in overflow parking at the Giants game.

It also works as a digital compass.

Runs on two AAA batteries, not included.

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Reporter