Tag Archives: California

PTJ 106: Guardians of the Geekery

Summer fun is over and El Kaiser has something to get off his chest in his Tech Term this week and JD has tips on how to stream local newscasts from most of the U.S. directly to your television.

In the news, Facebook tinkers with user newsfeeds once again; Instagram releases a new app for creating time-lapse videos;  Fashion designer Ralph Lauren tests out iOS-connected nylon shirts that track the wearer’s fitness stats at the U.S. Tennis Open Championships; Hackers take down the Sony PlayStation Network; Amazon buys the game-video streaming company Twitch; the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) sounds a warning about a new Backoff malware version; Apple begins a huge push for its Beats Music app; and Hewlett-Packardrecalls its LS-15 model AC power cords due to fire and burn hazards.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Worldwide Local News

If a major disaster or event happens across the country from you, wouldn’t it be useful to just flip on your TV and watch an on-the-scenes newscast from a local station near the scene instead of waiting for the national networks to get there? With a TV streamer like a Google Chromecast or an Apple TV, plus the Web and your home network, you can do just that.

The basic recipe: Find a local TV station streaming the breaking news video online, pop it up to your television set from your computer or mobile device — and shazam, you and your family members can gather around the big screen to watch the story unfold, even if the national news outlets like CNN or the broadcast networks aren’t on it yet.

Take, for example, last Sunday morning when Napa Valley and the northern California Bay Area were rattled with a 6.0 earthquake. If you had friends or family there, your first thought was probably for their safety and you wanted to know what was going on. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube can report early eyewitness accounts, but you’d probably like a semi-comprehensive news narrative as well, right?

appletvIn the case of the Napa quake, I jumped online and quickly found KGO, San Francisco’s ABC affiliate, which happened to be streaming its live broadcast to the Web. It took me about 30 second to find the stream, start playing it in the web browser on my late-model Macbook Pro and then send it on up to the Apple TV connected to my Sony flatscreen using Apple’s AirPlay technology.

googlecastYou can do similar things with one of Google’s $35 Chromecast  sticks and the Google Cast extension for the Chrome browser. Other devices and ways to get the picture on big screen — like AV cables between laptop and television — are also out there.

quakebotThe San Francisco station was actually cutting to a reporter who was minding the social media feeds so they could use the crowd-sourced photos, videos and personal accounts to help tell the story. Having all these news sources in one place really helps fill in the details. Dedicated Twitter feeds for weather or natural incidents, like the SF Quake Bot with updated from the US Geological Survey or the National Weather Service, are also quite informative.

Live streaming radio is another great source of news — WBUR in Boston and stations like it were a vital source of information for people around the world during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Local stations pop up quickly with a quick Web search. Try something like “San Francisco live new video” or something similar. If there’s a breaking news event in that area, odds are the local stations will be streaming their feeds.

You can also find sites that aggregate big lists of TV stations with streams from all over the world. If you want to browse for future reference, check out sites like the Live TV Center, Streema, WWITV or Live TV Café. Some aggregator sites may ask you to create an account or sign it with your Facebook credentials – that’s up to you. Sites like UStream and Livestream often carry news channels too.

ustream

So if something happens, check out a local source for the details. Newsgatherers there can often get on the scene faster, are more apt to cover the event for a longer period of time and you can zoom in from your part of the globe to get the information you need. Knowledge is power — and it can also make you feel better when you find out your peeps are okay.

PTJ 82: Food, Cheer, and Song

Sincerest apologies to the great Federico Fellini but we here at Pop Tech Jam believe life is a combination of magic … and a White Castle Crave Case®. If you have a hankering for some regional food classics that you just can’t find in your town, J.D. harnesses the power of the Internet and shows you how to get those comfort food favorites delivered right to your door.  All the talk of food has Pedro’s stomach grumbling but he was able to fight off the hunger pangs long enough to explain what Social Engineering is and how we can all be affected by it.  In the news the F.C.C. plans on introducing a new net neutrality policy; Apple loses their appeal in an attempt to ditch a  government appointed e-book monitor; Anti-malware company Kaspersky Labs claims to have discovered a global cyber-espionage  organization; Google leases more space from NASA; and Lego considers  a new building set based the BBC’s Sherlock TV show.

Thought for Food

Just as hearing a particular song on the radio, tasting certain foods can automatically whisk us back in time — just think of Proust and his madeleine. Little French cookies aside, what if our memories hinge on something that’s harder to get, like a dish served at a specific restaurant or some sort of regional cuisine that’s far removed from your current location?

Now, if you live if a larger city, maybe you can find reasonable facsimiles of the foods you grew up with. But what if you don’t, or the local approximations don’t measure up? That’s where the Internet comes in. If you haven’t looked lately, more and more famed regional restaurants have gotten on board with online shops and apps. It may cost a bit more to get the home delivery from across the country, but you can get another helping of those childhood food memories.

For example:

  • Did you grow up in the Windy City and now find yourself missing the region’s distinctive pizza? Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East both deliver deep dish by mail. You can also get Carson’s BBQ ribs, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, Portillo’s Italian Beef at the Tastes of Chicago site.
  • The Decatur Dairy ships serious Wisconsin cheese all over the country.
  • If you hail from the City of Brotherly Love and miss your Tastykakes, Sweetzel’s Spiced Wafers and Philly Soft Pretzels, visit the Pennsylvania General Store.
  • Craving the fine produce and natural foods from California? Check out Market Hall, where they also import the famed French tea, Mariage Frères.
  • Hankering for some Texas Hill Country barbecue? The Salt Lick in Driftwood is just one of the many places you can go to order a rack for UPS delivery.
  • Need an authentic New Orleans king cake for your office Mardi Gras party on March 4th (which is just a few weeks away), Gambino’s is just one of the many local bakeries that will FedEx you a king cake, beads and doubloons so that your good times may roll.
  • Amazon even links up with specialty food importers so you can get overseas favorites like Jammie Dodgers sent your way.

Many fine old American roadside eateries are also getting into the online delivery business. Yes, you can get Stuckey’s pecan logs on the Internet these days. Like most chains, the Stuckey’s site has a store locator feature you can use to find the nearest franchise, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic enough for a roadtrip.

wafflebunnyAnd if you’re heading out on the highway, hit up your App Store to see if your favorite establishment has figured out the mobile game yet. Just for starters, Waffle House has its own app for iOS and Android, as do many beloved chains like In-and-Out Burger (also with iOS and Android offerings) and White Castle, which even has a Windows Phone app to go with its iOS and Android offerings. In addition to locating the nearest store to your current location, you can peruse the menu and even check in on social media.

And if you are hitting the road to relieve a childhood food memory, be sure to order up some classic candy from your era from sites like Old Time Candy or the Candy Warehouse. Proust had his madeleines and yo, you can have your Squirrel Nut Zippers.