Archive for October, 2008

Gadget Friday: Guitar Hero Gets Real

October 31, 2008

Scott McGrew:
Scott McGrewPlay actual music on your Guitar Hero guitar – Free!!

This is so much fun – a total hit among the neighborhood kids – that we take a departure from our “gadget” in Gadget Friday to take a look at free software that will turn your Guitar Hero or Rockband plastic guitar into a real musical instrument.

If you’re experienced with computers, and you’re good at following instructions, you can have this up and running in under 15 minutes. If installing software or dealing with your computer’s file folders is beyond you, you may need a teenager’s help.

You need a couple things

1. A guitar from the game Guitar Hero or Rockband. Ideally, it should be from the Xbox360 version, because they have the easy to use USB connectors. If you’re trying to use one from a Playstation game, you will need an Playstation-to-USB adapter. There’s more information about adapters here.

2. A computer. PC, Mac, doesn’t matter.

Go to The Guitar Zeros website. Here you will find an actual band that plays Guitar Hero guitars live on stage!

Check out their videos, then scroll down to the bottom of the home page on further instructions on how to set up your guitar.

I *promise* if you follow the exact instructions, you’ll be rocking in no time.

For a great article about the band “Guitar Zeros” and instructions on how to make other weird instruments, check out the latest issue of Make Magazine.

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Reporter

Cherishing Childhood

October 30, 2008

Laura Garcia Cannon:
Laura Garcia CannonI was in the grocery store the other day when I spotted a dinosaur. Right there in the baking isle just walking around. Then, in the drug store I saw a little cow. Plain as day, a little cow, mooving around. Am I loosing my mind? No, don’t commit me just yet. Remember, Halloween is right around the corner and one of my favorite things are the days leading up to the day.

This is for all those parents who buy the outfits early so the good one’s aren’t picked over! It makes sense. Your little bundle of joy is going to be the cutest little pumpkin or puppy or lamb around! But when it comes to trying that outfit on at home, watch out! That’s exactly what happened to my sister and her little girl. She brought home a little lamb outfit. Lauren tried it on and well, didn’t want to take it off! My sister called me half laughing, half distressed saying, “What do I do?” I could hear the little lamb shrieking for the full outfit in the background. (She already had the lamb head on). Well Aunt Laura was all for leaving it on.

There is something just so precious to me to see a little superman walking around with his cape, or a dragon with his long tail that just cracks me up. It’s childhood. It’s innocence. It’s not giving a care about what people think about you, you look like a lamb and that’s fun. There’s only a limited amount of life where you can live as carefree enough to go to the store dressed as a chicken. Adulthood will be here before you know it and then, we’ll that’s just not cute anymore.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

Editor’s Note: Send photos of your kids in costume to isee@nbcbayarea.com – we’ll show some Friday morning on NBC Bay Area News

Pumpkin Jam

October 29, 2008

Mike Inouye:
Mike InouyeLocals know that Half Moon Bay is a lovely place for a weekend trip but the ONE weekend you DON’T want to head “over the hill” is that which is the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. Rivaling the size and celebrity of the record-making gourds are the size and celebrity of the traffic on Hwy. 92 heading toward the coastal town during this season.

My buddy called up and asked if we wanted take the kids to the pumpkin patch and it turned out that the weekend which worked well for both of our families was none other than that which was not to be spoken. Though not big fans of traffic jams we still opted to make the trip vowing to meet early to avoid as much of the backup as possible.

For many, 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday is early.

For the morning traffic guy… it’s still early. 😉

Even at that time of the morning, the slowdown had started. A single stream of cars filed down the grade past the iconic farms; Lemos Farm to the north and Pastorino Farms to the south.

We found a spot in the lot and headed for the fun.

We got in line for the train.
We got in line for the hayride on the jack o’lantern truck.
We got in line for the cookies.
We got in line to get food for the goats.
We got in line to NOT ride the ponies.(bad idea)
…and then we got in line for the drive home.

What a fun time we had at the pumpkin patch. We had so much fun, in fact, we didn’t have a chance to buy pumpkins.

Don’t worry, we took care of that the following weekend.

Mike Inouye
NBC Bay Area Traffic Anchor

My Dog-Gone Weekend!

October 28, 2008

Craig Herrera:
Craig HerreraI love fall, the foliage, the wind, the change and the holiday season coming up! It all begins with Halloween and since I don’t have children, my dogs are like my children… and my last weekend went to the dogs.

Friday, October 24th, was the annual Society Dog Howling Halloween in Los Gatos. Yes, the town of the cats went to the dogs too! About 300 dogs and their humans dressed up in costumes and paraded around Old Town and Downtown for some treats from the venders of the beautiful town. The money raised went to the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police K9 Foundation and NBC Bay Area was a proud sponsor, I was honored to be the emcee. 🙂

It was fun to see so many fun costumes! Some of those humans were very creative with the costumes. One of my favorites was “Spaghetti and Meatballs.” A few other stand outs were Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and his elf, the lady bug and her flower and the police officer with his jail birds in tote. I took many photos at the event and I have posted them on my Facebook account. The account is open to everyone to view so I hope you enjoy the fun pictures.

Saturday, we spent the day at the dog park with my Sasha (Lhasa Apso) and Kaia (Rhodesian Ridgeback) and then a nice bath at our local pet store. Sasha and Kaia slept so well Saturday evening. I hope you have a Happy Halloween with your family.

Craig Herrera
NBC Bay Area Meteorologist

TJ Ties

October 27, 2008

Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonWe here at NBC Bay Area have many ties to CNN anchor TJ Holmes. No really – many ties – as in, a whole box full of ‘em. You see, TJ was once an anchor here – but later moved to the big national spotlight at CNN. He has not forgotten those of us he once called colleagues.

A little trivia about TJ. First, you can find all sorts of photos of him on the web. No doubt, he is a good lookin’, well dressed man. But you may not know that TJ never wears the same tie twice on TV. Once on air, that tie goes into re-Tire-ment. He also never wears a tie that costs more than ten bucks. He has a knack for finding great looking ties for ten bucks or less – wears ‘em once – and gets another.

When TJ left NBC Bay Area he had a massive tie giveaway. Many of those ties ended up in my closet, and you have likely seen them many, many times during our newscasts (‘cuz I wear ‘em over and over).

TJ recently visited the Bay Area and swung by the studio to say hello to old friends. I mentioned that I needed a new shipment of ties. Well, the old ship came in last night. On my desk this morning, a whole batch of new ties from TJ!

Of course, I shared my good fortune with others – i.e. Mike, Craig and Scott – as you can see in the picture. I also “pass it on,” meaning I take the old ties from the first batch and pass those on to other people. I give them to friends, or to people I know who are tight on cash these days due to the economic times and I give some to Goodwill as well.

So, the TJ tie legacy lives on and on. In the meantime, I’ll be watching TJ to preview some of the ties I hope to see in the next shipment!

Thanks TJ.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

Gadget Friday: Data Dots

October 24, 2008

Scott McGrew:
Scott McGrewData Dots are very small (100 times smaller than a dime) dots that you paint onto a small section of something you own. The dots are invisible except under UV light, and can be read with a regular magnifying glass.

You paint the dots onto your laptop or cell phone in a place where they won’t easily rub away, such as inside the battery compartment. Your dots contain a unique numeric identifier, which you register online at the company’s website.

Add a sticker that reads “protected by DataDots” and the police know they can find the dots on any recovered stolen items by putting them under a black light. They can go online (the website is actually right on the dot) and type in the number, and get your contact information.

Whether this actually works or not is unclear – the company does not mention any success stories, but then again it’s a fairly new idea.

The sticker that says “protected by DataDots” may be as valuable as the dots themselves – after all, it’s easier to discourage burglars than it is to foil them.

Cost: $29.95
Company website: http://www.datadothome.com

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Reporter

Free Fashion Advice

October 23, 2008

Laura Garcia Cannon:
Laura Garcia CannonNeed some fashion advice? Not that I’m the queen of it at all, but I’m sure you’ve heard Brent joke on air how often he thinks I shop. Well, I’m headed to the mall this weekend and you can join me. I’ll be MC’ing a fashion show at Macy’s Pleasanton on Saturday and the bonus, if you look at it that way, are one on one consultations on how to create your own style! Body issues no problem, everyone has something they love about themselves right? We’ll take that and accentuate it to find the perfect look for you. Best of all it’s free! In this economy who doesn’t love something free?

Saturday afternoon
Macy’s Pleasanton, Petites Level 3
Stoneridge Mall Road

Come early to sign up for the free one-on-one consultations… maybe you can teach me a thing or two!

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

Screaming Camel Spiders

October 20, 2008

Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonI already had great appreciation for the men and women serving in Iraq. But now, I have even more. It is bad enough they risk life and limb everyday. It is bad enough they have to be away from their friends, family and loved ones. It is bad enough they make daily sacrifices we take for granted. But now, a new pest I had no idea existed.

A friend has a family member serving in Iraq and just told me about a hideous little monster troops have to deal with. It is called a “camel spider.” Spider, you ask? Why not ship a bunch of raid to the troops? Well, have you ever heard of, or seen the dreaded camel spider?

From what I hear, they are bad news. They are little meat eaters. They get their name because they like to get under camels as they lay down and gnaw on their bellies! They can become very large. I also hear they are very, very fast – like they can run up to 30 miles an hour.

They say the spiders do not like the sun, so they chase you. Not because they are trying to eat you, yet, but because they want to get into your shadow and escape the sun.

Troops are told to shake out their sleeping bag each time they get in to make sure there is not an uninvited guest waiting. As I understand, the camel spider is not poisonous, but they have big fangs and powerful jaws and can leave a very nasty wound if they bite.

After looking them up on the Internet I found out several things. First of all, some of what I mentioned above are myths. Some of it is not. And another thing, they say camel spiders are also called “screaming spiders” because they make a screaming sound when they run. Nice.

So – check out this link for some YouTube videos, pictures and other information – don’t forget to check the parts that are true vs. the parts that are not. But either way, these things are nasty and just one of the many parts of daily life the troops have to deal with.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor

Gadget Friday: Hauppauge HD DVR

October 17, 2008

Scott McGrew:
Scott McGrewWatch Gadget Friday Video

The truth is you will either say to yourself, “Wow, I could totally use the Hauppauge HD DVR!” or “I have NO idea what you would need that for.”

It’s like red and blue states – they’ll never see the other guy’s point of view.

The Hauppauge HD DVR is a box that sits on top of your DVR (or DVD, or xBox, or whatever) and records everything that runs through the device.

So – get ready for this – it’s like a DVR for your DVR.

The video signal (from your DVR, your DVD, your xBox, whatever) passes through the unit and continues on to your TV. You watch as normal, but in the background the device is recording the video and transcoding it into the QuickTime H.264 format, which is a very high quality but low size digital file.

You can play this sort of file on your iPod. That’s one of the things you might use it for to record TV to your iPod. Or, you could use it the way I’ve been using it, to record game video from an xBox (which I then show on TV). You could record your games and email your great kills to friends.

You COULD record a Blockbuster DVD to your iPod but that would be illegal. 🙂

Cost: $249
More info:
http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Reporter

Bears In There!

October 16, 2008

Laura Garcia Cannon:
Laura Garcia CannonEvery year I’m lucky enough to take a weekend dedicated to some of my best friends from college. There are nearly 10 of us that get together each year as long as schedules don’t conflict and babies aren’t being born (which is often in this group). Anyway, eight of us made it this year. We usually pick a different place to go every year and this year it was Tahoe.

We all drove up, flew in, whatever it took to all arrive on a Friday night. We decided to stay in the first night, make dinner together, get caught up in lots of joyful conversation. Three of the girls thought of some bear necessities they needed so they went out of the cabin through the garage because it was raining. We’re girls we don’t like to get our hair wet if we don’t have to. Anyway, they left the garage door up because they would be right back… and they were right back rather quickly, to FIND A BEAR IN THE GARAGE!!!!!

Three girls in an SUV with the lights shining on a bear trying to get into an empty garbage can!Three girls shrieking, “Get the phone, get the camera, somebody call them inside!!” I was part of the party inside the cabin, and quite frankly I’m glad they didn’t call us. What was I supposed to do? Go into the garage to ask the bear to leave? Can you imagine walking into that?

I don’t know if it was the shrieking inside the car or the headlights that made the bear look up, or maybe the thought there was a girls weekend going on (that could be scary for any male)… but the bear just decided to slowly walk away. The three girls came running in barely – no pun intended until after I wrote that- being able to breathe! I honestly couldn’t understand them.. They had to calm down from what they saw to be able to speak again. We all ran out to see the tracks and sure enough, there was the garbage pail lid turned on its side, wet paw prints on the floor. We put that garage door down!

I do have to admit it made us all think twice before we walked out the door later that weekend. Good thing girls like to talk – we stayed in a lot.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC Bay Area Anchor