The High-Tech Texan Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another Reason To Get A Slingbox

One of my fave gadgets of the past two years has been the Slingbox. It's a device that plugs into your TV and lets you watch and control it from a remotely connected computer. I've tapped into my Slingbox from my office, WiFi hotspots, London, Dallas and several other places during my travels. Since I can control my TV I can watch live shows or programs I recorded on my DVR.

A few of my friends in other cities have their own Slingboxes and that is where we get "creative." We have exchanged passwords so we can log into each other's boxes. Why would we do this? Aha! To watch shows that we can't receive in our home TV markets. For example, when the Dallas Cowboys game is not shown here due to a conflicting Texans game, I log on to my buddy's Slingbox in Dallas and watch the local Dallas feed.

A friend of mine in the TV biz who recently moved away from Houston taps into my Slingbox to watch his old channel here (apparently he really misses the weather).

So guess where I will be this Sunday at 3:15pm CT (after sleeping an extra hour)? Watching the over-hyped and much-anticipated Patriots-Colts game. CBS plans to pipe the "Game of the Century" into 96 percent of the country's TV households but because the Texans play the Raiders at the same time, KHOU (Ch. 11) will be showing that barn burner of a match instead. Note: The folks at Slingbox don't endorse or suppport this use. But I do.

Getcha popcorn ready and get over to my crib. Game on!

Has anyone else used a Slingbox in such a creative way?

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

And the winner is...

I spent a few days in Dallas at the 2007 Texas Truck Rodeo. As a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association it is my sworn-duty to test drive cars, trucks and SUVs to determine the best in each class. So feel sorry for me as I was rolling up and down a dirt test track with heavy duty horse power in some cool 2008 models.

I'll provide more details about the vehicles here and on my show over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are the winners in each category as voted by me and my counterparts:

1st: Ford F-250 Harley-Davidson
2nd: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
3rd: GMC Sierra Denali

1st: Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
2nd: Toyota Land Cruiser
3rd: Hummer H3 Alpha

1st: General Motors
2nd: Ford
3rd: Toyota

1st: Ford Tailgate Step
2nd: Ford Sync
3rd: Tahoe Hybrid Technology

1st: Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
2nd: Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
3rd: Toyota Land Cruiser

1st: Hummer H3 Alpha
2nd: Nissan Pathfinder
3rd: Jeep Liberty Sport 4x4

1st: Mercury Mariner Hybrid
2nd: Land Rover LR2 HSE
3rd: Honda CR-V

1st: Cadillac Escalade AWD
2nd: Lincoln Navigator
3rd: Toyota Land Cruiser

1st: Mercedes ML 320 CDI
2nd: Volkswagen Touareg 2 V8
3rd: Acura MDX

1st: Lincoln MKX
2nd: Volvo XC70

1st: GMC Acadia AWS SLT 1
2nd: Mazda CX-9
3rd: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

1st: Ford Edge
2nd: Saturn Vue XR Awd
3rd: Mazda Tribute

1st: GMC Sierra Denali
2nd: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
3rd: Ford F-150 Limited

1st: Dodge Dakota CrewCab TRX 4x4
2nd: Ford Explorer Sport Trac
3rd: Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

1st: Lincoln Mark LT
2nd: Cadillac Escalade EXT
3rd: Toyota Tundra Lucchese

1st: Ford F-250 Harley-Davidson
2nd: Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Quad Cab
3rd: GMC Sierra 3500 HG

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All Aboard

I've taken a few Southwest Airlines flights over the past few weeks and went through the new boarding process for the second time. I first happened to use it during the test phase in San Antonio last August but the Dallas-based airline is rolling it out now. All flights out of Dallas Love Field now use the lettered-and-numbered boarding pass and me likey.

Here is a copy of my computer-printed boarding pass. Notice the boarding group (A) and position (04). The number tell you where within the group you will stand in line before you board.

I like this process as it will eliminate the need for people to line up at the gate an hour before the flight. I'm an A guy, no doubt. I try to check in online as close to the 24 hour window before my flights. But I don't like getting to the gate an hour or more before flight time. That means I could be the 60th or more person to board the flight which - thanks to Southwest's open seating structure - means I could be sitting in the back or in the dreaded middle seat.

On this particular flight not one person was standing in line until the gate agent announced they were beginning to board. Then we all methodically lined up at our positions next to numbered columns.

Rolling out a new process like this to frequent and infrequent fliers could have been a nightmare but like everything Southwest does, the directions are simple as peanuts.

The only downside is that I now need to set my Outlook reminder alarm to buzz me exactly 24 hours before my flight so I can get a low number. Luckily I can do that from my web-enabled cell phone.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Apple Slices Song Price

Cool weather just blew through Houston so moods should be upbeat locally. Wall Street is expecting good moods later today as Apple will release its quarterly report detailing its busy summer. iPhones, new iPods, price cuts, predictions and more. They are waiting to announce things after the closing bell but I expect a little surge in the stock price.

Price cuts? DRM-free songs which debuted on iTunes a few months ago at $1.29 per were just lowered to the 99 cent price point, matching all other songs offered on the popular service. Good news but I still think Apple and other download sites need to offer tiered pricing on songs. No reason I need to pay the same price for a hot new Kanye West song and a 1977 B-side release.

Amazon's music site offers top songs for 89 cents with others going for 99 cents. Get prepped for a possible music download pricing war. Companies like Apple and Amazon can only offer prices so low without going belly up since most of the money goes directly to the RIAA, music labels, artists and more. The few pennies left over goes to the download sites. Profits are all in the volume, baby.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Apple A Day

I don't yap much about Apple (other than canonizing the iPhone a few months back). But since my son just got a MacBook and I will be the keynote speaker at the November Houston Area Apple Users Group (Gawd hep me!!), I might as well get better versed with the 8 percenters.

iPhone news...I have yet to hack my phone and don't plan to since I don't feel like playing the cat-and-mouse game with Apple and AT&T of "will it work/will it not work." So relief is on the way for do-gooders like me. Apple will allow third-party companies to develop applications on the iPhone and new iPod touch units. Don't hold your breath until February, though.

The new Mac OS X operating system goes on sale October 26. Code named "Leonard," the operating system is set to cost $129 for a single-user license and $199 for a five-user "Family Pack" license. I doubt there will be lines around the corner a la the iPhone launch but still those die-hard Maccies (or is it Maccabees? And if it is will the next version be code named "Judah?") will be flowing into stores next week. Leopard alledgedly has 300 new features in comparison to the current version.

Check out Apple's ubiquitous countdown clock on the Apple home page.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hole in $120,000

I'm back. After spending much of the past month finalizing plans on my annual charity golf tournament, it is finally behind us and now we can move on to the usual business of blogging and playing.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the 4th annual Land Tejas/Michael Garfield Celebrity Golf Tournament. We got a little wet towards the end of the day but it was just as fun wetting our whistles inside the new clubhouse at Houston National Golf Club as the rain came down.

Everyone was a winner as players walked away with great food courtesy of Double Dave's; huge goodie bags stuffed with Nike golf shoes, hats, jackets and balls; and over $120,000 was raised for MDA. Yep, definitely worth my time.

Here are some photos of the fun. That's me with ABC 13 sports anchor Bob Slovak and KPRC Local 2 weatherman Anthony Yanez. No one was lucky enough to hit a hole-in-one for a BMW (someone actually did it in year 1) but the cars looked great.

We now return you to our normal blogging and broadcasting.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

5 Free iTune Songs

Ticketmaster is promoting its Facebook presence in a big way by offering five free iTunes Store song credits just for joining its Ticketmaster Live group on the social networking site. Upon joining, new members will be presented with an iTunes Store coupon code that can be used to redeem five credits towards any songs they like.

Tune in Saturday at 11am and you just may hear more cool tips like this.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thirsty? Got beer, soft drinks and much more

Here's a shot of a truckload (literally) of drinks I delivered to Houston National Golf Club today as we are getting very close to the big tournament on Monday.

I'm test driving a Toyota Tundra Crewmax and hauling around about 1500 pounds of beer, soft drinks and water was a good test. No prob at all, probably could have handled a golf cart and John Daly back there.

Very excited about the event as the weather looks great, the new $5 million clubhouse is ready and the goodie bag stuff arrived.
We're just a few foursomes away from selling out and this is my last plea to you to join us. We're very close to our $100,000 donation to MDA so if you like golf and can escape the office this Monday, let's roll.

To register call Kristin Jordan at 713-783-6702. Fore!



That's what it's called! I got it, can't get rid of it and it is a very weird feeling.

Ever have a phantom vibration on your person? I regularly get them on my hip or upper leg. It may be a case of restless leg syndrome but I now realize its the sensation of thinking my phone is vibrating.

Check out this story.

How 'bout the dude with "pre-feel"? "I'll feel it, look at it. It's not vibrating. Then it starts vibrating," he said. "I am one with my BlackBerry." Freak.

Does this phenomena happen to you?


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cancelled Bills

That headline could have easily have been "Folk Lore" or "The Cowboys Still Own The Buffalo Bills." It's been exactly 24 hours since the Monday Night Football game ended and my heartbeat just finally went back to its normal resting pace.

My mood during football season generally ebbs and flows with the wins and losses of the Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys (for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I'm from Dallas and I graduated from UT). I was in the gutter since Saturday's loss to OU and I was getting ready to flush myself down the toilet with all but 2 seconds left in the Cowboys-Bills game.

As my kids can tell you when I woke them and the neighbors up with uncontrollable screams, the Cowboys pulled off one of the most improbably wins in NFL history. What should have been a game the Cowboys won by at least 40 points (according to my weekly pool guess), they played terrible and should have lost.

That's why I've been so giddy this past day. Haven't felt this pumped about the 'Boys since the Super Bowl runs in the mid-90's.

Immediately following the game winning kick by Nick Folk (who?), I called my dad in Dallas who I knew was watching the game. The last time we talked after a close Cowboys win was Week 2 of the 2003 season when Coach Bill Parcells took the team to play his old NY Giants on Monday night. Billy Cundiff kicked 7 field goals that game including a 25-yarder in OT. We celebrated on the phone for a while after that one.

While on the phone with him last night I kept getting beep-ins from my other friends in Dallas. I think we were still in shock and we kept trying to guess what the headlines in today's Dallas Morning News would be. (The DMN continues to be the best local newspaper in the country with a Sports section second to none). The editors have fun with 2 inch tall headlines following Cowboys games and they are memorable.

Today's paper didn't let me down. Front page: FOLK LORE Sports page: PICK AND GRIN (which perfectly described Tony Romo's 5 interceptions and ear-to-ear smile at the end of the game).

Anyway, I just came down to earth and now await this Sunday's matchup vs. the undefeated Patriots. God forbid the Texans play at the same time and the game is blacked out. Oh wait, the Texans hardly ever play the late game because they aren't good.

And by the way, Kris Brown's game winning field goal last Sunday to beat the Dolphins was fantastic, but it still wasn't the best and most dramatic kick by a pro team from Texas this weekend.

In case you missed it, the Cowboys-Bills game will be replayed on the NFL Network at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Oh, I wonder if The Buffalo News headlines read "Folk You?"


Monday, October 08, 2007

Fly Me To Dubai

Remember we talked about Emirates Airlines starting non-stop service from Houston to Dubai? Well, T-minus two months. And from the press releases I am getting my chops are starting to salivate.

Emirates recently swept three top awards at the World Airline Entertainment Association’s (WAEA) Avion Awards. Apparently that's the airline industry’s equivalent of the Oscars for in-flight entertainment and if it is I'm wondering who SVP Nigel Page was wearing...

More than 36,000 airline passengers worldwide were surveyed for their opinions on the 30-plus airlines competing for the Avion mark of distinction. The 600+ channels of on-demand entertainment on the airline’s ICE (information, communication, entertainment) system apparently won them over. The system offers seatback SMS and email services and live text news updates throughout the flight.

With flights lasting longer than 16 hours, you want good entertainment, you need good entertainment.


Houston is Very Bueno!!!

You've listened to and seen me in the Houston area for almost a decade. You know my favorite sports teams, my hobbies, my kids' names and definitely my fave foods. Though I've been living in the H-Town area since the mid-90's, I'm still a Dallas boy at heart.

I grew up with Slurpees and still can't figure out why 7-11 doesn't have stores here. But I can now check something off my "Bring this to Houston" list that I have been yearning for. Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages with hunger pangs, TACO BUENO has reached this market!

How did I know this was big news (atleast to me)? One of my regular listeners called me with the breaking news (btw, I am treating Amy Dudley to all the Bueno Chiladas she can eat!). She has heard me talk about my love for "the Buen" and wanted to make sure I knew that the Dallas-based fast-food chain has opened a location that is in relative proximity to me.

The Woodlands is the recipient of this gift to us and I would highly recommend anyone living up in George Mitchell-land to make this a regular stop on their morning, afternoon and evening commutes. I live in the southwest part of Houston and while I will continue to hold my breath until TB opens a Sugar Land location (please!) it is definitely worth a 50 minute drive to woof down my beloved bean burritos.

There are many reasons I talk about the Buen. Maybe it's memories of me getting my driver's license and rolling up to the Forest Ln & Inwood Rd. location in Dallas as my very first destination behind the wheel. It could be all those times my buddies and I sneaked off high school campus to get our burrito fix instead of eating the brown bag lunches our mom's made us.

Or the fact that yes I, Michael Garfield, worked at a Taco Bueno (that same Forest & Inwood location) frying corn tortillas into chips, boiling refried beans and dripping cheese on Beef Muchacos. (I only worked there 1 week back in '83 but I'll save that story for another time)

I don't get up to Dallas as often as I would like due to my schedule but when I do I tell my parents, my grandmother and my friends that I am coming to town to visit them. That's not the full story as the first stop I make when I reach Big D is on Central Expressway...the Buen located near Southwestern Blvd. And if I'm not full after that stop I head up a few miles and get off at the Forest Ln. location.

So WELCOME to town, Taco Bueno. This Ft. Bend County resident will now be more familiar with the beautiful Woodlands area as I ride up there regularly for a fix. And if you are looking to build more stores in this big city of ours maybe one former employee and Bueno aficianado could be sweet-talked into a franchise.

That would really be bueno!


Saturday, October 06, 2007

We're Rolling at 11am

Only one thing can keep me away from the Texas-OU game in dedication to you, my dear listeners. Even better, my show begins its new timeslot today from 11a-2p. Perfect timing as I can make it home for kickoff at 2:30pm.

For those who bleed burnt orange like myself, this YouTube is for you:

I'm giving away more Ergowrap devices. They went nuts last week as people are using them to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome when typing.

We'll get an in-studio visit from some Verizon Wireless folks showing off some of their just-announced new products for the holiday season. Make sure to log on to the video conference to see it all.

Other things to weigh in on include the hot, local topic of whether cell phones should be banned by while driving after the horrible accident that took the life of a police officer, a woman getting fined $220,000 for downloading illegal music and an iPod catching fire in a dude's pants.

Perfect fodder to kill time before the greatest college football matchup of the year.

Hook 'em Horns!

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