The High-Tech Texan Blog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can't See Cowboys on NFL Network Tonight? Just Sling It

Once again we have another situation that for sports fans to put a Slingbox at the top of your holiday wish list.

Tonight's Cowboys-Packers football game will be shown on the NFL Network, the NFL-owned channel that 74 million homes CAN'T receive thanks mostly to a dispute between cable operators and the NFL ($$$$). NFL rules stipulate that the participating team markets have to show it over the air which is all good for Dallas and the Green Bay area. But everyone else is out of luck unless your cable or satellite company carries the NFL Network.

A few weeks ago Houston was the only major market not to get the Patriots-Colts showdown because the Texans were playing at the same time. I circumenvented the KHOU Channel 11 feed by tapping into a friend's Slingbox who lives in another city; watching every snap on my larege computer monitor.

If you have a friend who lives in Dallas or gets the NFL Network try to tap into his Slingbox tonight. If not, the NFL just announced a way to get snippets of the game. will provide limited access to the contest. The website will provide a live studio show, plus live "look-ins" at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. It also is promoting live video for play inside the 20-yard line. also plans to show the entire halftime show.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Set Your (Web)Sites on Cyber Monday

Don't let the hype of Cyber Monday fool you. It's simply a marketing scheme (which ain't all that bad) organized by the National Retail Federation.

Created just last year, the organization wants to promote its online shopping partners' websites and let consumers know how easy it is to click and buy. Some will tell you that it's the biggest online shopping day of the year but according to Mastercard and Visa that date was December 10 last year. Either way here are some tips to make your online shopping safer:
  • Use your credit card. You have certain rights if something goes wrong with the purchase and the vendor won't resolve the problem. If possible, use one credit card for all online purchases to keep web purchases separate from other uses.
  • Check and double-check shipping and return policies. Many sites are offering free shipping this year, but you may have to purchase a minimum amount. Some retailers will let you return items to a bricks-and-mortar store with no extra fees.
  • Know your merchant. It's a good practice to be familiar with the name or reputation of any company you're dealing with. You can often find helpful information about online companies from Internet news sources, directories, and rating services.
  • Keep good records. Make sure to print or save electronically any records related to your online transactions. This will help you keep track of shipping dates, shipping and handling fees, and other details of your transactions.

For more online shopping tips including privacy information and how to complain, take a click at


Friday, November 23, 2007

Won and Done

That's what the headlines should be in either the Chron or the always catchy front page and sports headlines of the Dallas Morning News.

To all newspaper editors, I'm available on a consulting basis. You're welcome. (Feel free to sign-up for my "VIP" newsletter with even more creative cutlines. Only $1,200 per season)

This is the last and only time you will ever see anything having to do with the Aggies in my blog.

Getting a gift card?

Gift cards are expected to be the most widely-given gift this year. Cool with me; I like them. I store my gift cards in a small wallet and keep track of the balance by writing the value on the back of each card with a Sharpie.

So here's a new website that is launching next week that can store and manage all your gift cards (and loyalty programs liek frequent flyer clubs). It's called Leverage and it's free to register. According to the site you will be able to buy gift cards from many retailers and - somehow - receive "interest" on the value of your stored cards (3.2 percent for cards bought through the site, and about 1 percent for cards bought elsewhere).

A neat feature that I hope works is swapping a gift card with someone else. Now I know what to do if I get any Barnes & Noble cards (heaven forbid I read a book).

This is really nothing new since others sites like Swapagift and CertificateSwap have been doing it for years.

I can see this service being useful if you get a lot of gift cards and need to keep track of more than five or six. I like the suggestion posted on TechCrunch - if you got an actual Leverage card that acted as an uber-gift card. The way that could work is that the card is tied to your online Leverage account, which knows all your balances. You take it to Best Buy, it taps into the $50 in your gift card account. You take it to Macy’s, and it sees you have $75. The startup is working on just such a card.

Would you use this service?


"Doorbuster" sales are still going on so I will be sure to get many calls on good deals-bad deals, should I get a warranty, LCD v Plasma, boxers or briefs, etc...

I'll have an interview with the folks from Palm and give away a new Centro. Plus, get ready to be amazed and dazzled with an in-studio mindreader and hypnotist.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shop Til You Drop

It's late Thursday night and I can only imagine how many people are already lined up in front of stores to save a few bucks on a TV or microwave. And it's chilly, too.

Black Friday is here and I'm looking for horror stories, good deals, ripoffs, the best places to park and shop online. I'm sitting in for Joe Pags on KTRH from 9a-11a. I'll lean on you to provide comments about these questions while I work with the Clear Channel traffic department (or what's left of it) to tell you how packed mall parking lots are.

I'll also take emails while you are out and about and if you can send me a photo of your shopping experience I will even try to post them. The most creative ones get a prize.

My regular Saturday show on The 9-5-0 is a doozy. Got an interview with a dude from Palm and we'll give away a Palm Centro or two. But I also have a magician/psychic coming in to read minds. Who says local radio is dead??

Hook 'em Horns!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Houston, We Have A New Website

Launch. Complete.

By now you probably have seen our new website at The boys from Dreamray came on my radio show last Saturday and flipped the switch while we were on the air. We quickly received several dozen emails with favorable comments and a smart suggestion or two.

The only non-flattering comment I remember reading was something about my choice of shirts. Noted.

Many people are taking the week off for Thanskgiving or at least slowing down a bit at work. A big topic on the show was online holiday sales. I mentioned that many sites likes Best Buy, Amazon, OfficeMax, Circuit City and Apple are rumored to have good deals beginning as early as this Thursday. If you find any sweet sales make sure to leave a comment here.

I sometimes wake up early on Black Friday to catch a few deals. I'll skip that this year as I will be sitting in for Joe Pags on KTRH between 9a-11a. Tune in as you are looking for a parking space (which could actually take up those entire two hours).

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Friday, November 16, 2007

New Website Launches Live On-Air Tomorrow

After months of preparing and writing and shooting (videos), we are about to debut the new High-Tech Texan website on Saturday morning. We are pumped and can't wait to flip the server so the world (wide web) can see the fruits of our labor.

Mostly it is from the creative minds of Dreamray. Click on the link and you can see a sneak screenshot of the new look. The plan is to kick it on near the top of my show around 11:15am CT so tune in to The 9-5-0.

If you are hear Rice University in the morning, stop by the monthly Houston Area Apple Users Group meeting. I'm still trying to figure out what to talk about during my keynote speech but I'm sure it will be groundbreaking. 9am sharp.

Also on the show tomorrow:

Scott Jordan, CEO of ScottEVest, talking about his high-tech clothing line
Marcie Zlotnik, President of StarTex Power, discussing ways to save energy

Plus, video gaming news you won't believe, best sites to get "Black Friday" deals and what I'm going to do about the Red Ring of Death on my Xbox 360.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Will This Push Back The Digital TV Conversion Date Again?

Feb. 18, 2009, is the day the analog TV signals are supposed to die in the U.S. Digital TV will take over the airwaves as the FCC mandates that over the air TV stations give back their analog frequenies.

That date has been pushed back several times over the years to allow broadcasters to upgrade their equipment, manufacturers to make more affordable digital TV and consumers to buy a new TV or at least get a soon-to-be-released converter box.

But here's a hiccup. The Bush administration official in charge of this transition is resigning. Oops. Wonder what's up other than he probably wants to "spend more time with his family."

Note to W: I haven't got much to do these next two years. I'll oversee the process. I await your call.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big Week

We're now in GO mode. Most of the listener call-ins and emails I receive now are about holiday gifts. What's good, what's bad, who's naughty, etc...

A busy week is here:

I'm giving a luncheon speech on Thursday to the HPMA. I'll be cutting a ribbon at the grand opening of the new ITT Tech North Campus that evening. Saturday morning at 9 I will be the keynote speaker at the monthly Houston Area Apple Users Group meeting at Rice. That should be interesting, to say the least.

And on Saturday during my show we are going to attempt to launch my new website. Paul Jerome from Dreamray will be in studio with me to discuss the months-long process of creating a site with way cool graphics and video. His support team will be at their site flipping the switch to the new servers. Be sure to refresh.

We have been working hard on this to give it a cutting-edge look and feel. Here is a small sample of the new graphics. Check out the 3D version of my logo.


Friday, November 09, 2007


I don't get into dogs (or animals, for that matter). So if I received an email with this photo asking me for money to adopt it I would simply delete it.

But this is just the latest example of the famed 419 scam, aka the "Nigerian letter" scam originated in West Africa in the early 80s after Nigeria’s economy crashed.

Don't fall for it, suckers.

But he is kinda cute.


Don't Laugh

Seriously. Stop it.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It Pays To Be An "A"

I LUV Southwest Airlines. Been flying since I was a little kid in Dallas and have owned a few shares of stock since I was 13 (thanks, Nana and Papa). The perks have always been a little bit better than other airlines - fewers trips to get a free ticket, free drink tickets, Companion Pass and more. But times are getting a bit tough...

No longer can you receive double flight credits by booking on the web. Instead of 12 free drink tickets you now get 4 when you qualify for a free flight. And even though Southwest just rolled out a new and improved boarding procedure, starting tomorrow it may be harder to get in the coveted "A" boarding group (first in line to board the open-seated plane).

Southwest is instituting the "Rapid Rewards A-List Membership." Details:
Just fly 16 roundtrips in 12 months and we’ll put you on our A-List where we’ll
reserve you the best boarding pass available on all your flights for an entire
year, which means you’ll most likely get an A boarding pass.

I don't like this. It's already a who-can-log-on-first contest to get an A boarding pass 24 hours before your flight. I recently logged in about 23 hours and 55 minutes before my flight and I was nearly the 50th person who had checked in (almost a B...gasp!). So with this new membership I estimate the first few dozen spots will already be held for members - especially on heavily traveled routes like Houston-Dallas where most travelers will be "in the club."

Kind of funy how Southwest has been heavily promoting their new boarding procedure but just now announced this new twist on the same day the procedure goes nationwide. Guess I need to fly a bit more (and carry a flask to make up for those drink tickets).


Monday, November 05, 2007

Gphone and Hannah Montana

Surprise. Google is developing a free cell phone software package so users can more easily reach the ubiquitous search engine and its many services. Rumors have been everywhere for the past few months.

According to

Google will not be making the phones, nor does it plan to stamp its prized
brand on the devices. Instead, it will work with four cell phone manufacturers
who have agreed to use Google's programs in their handsets. Consumers will have
to buy a new phone to get the Google software because the bundle was not made
for existing handsets.

Because Google's software will be free, it could undercut rivals who charge
handset makers to install their operating systems. It also promises to make
smart phones less expensive since manufacturers won't have to pay for

Google's system will also be based on computer code that can be openly
distributed among programmers. That, Google hopes, will encourage developers to
create new applications and other software improvements that could spawn new
uses for smart phones.

So far, Motorola Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., HTC and LG Electronics Inc.
have agreed to use Google's software in some of their phones. Both Motorola and
Samsung already buy Microsoft's Windows Mobile in some of their phones.

The list of wireless carriers that have agreed to provide service for
the Google-powered phone in the United States include Sprint Nextel Corp. and
Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile in the United States. China Mobile, Telefonica in
Spain and Telecom Italia are among the carriers that have signed on to provide
service outside the United States.

Don't expect to see this app on phones until next year.

But is that bigger news - at least in Houston - to this announcement today from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo? Hannah Montana is coming to the 2008 Rodeo!!! Imagine how thrilled I would be if I had little girls to go but I'm sure almost every other parent is jockeying to snap up tickets for the March 9 show.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

You Are Looking Live... the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Live on CBS via my buddy's Slingbox in North Carolina.

While the rest of Houston is watching the Texans have their way with the Raiders on KHOU, Ch. 11, I am tapped into the CBS feed from another market. As described on my show yesterday and my previous blog, this is working like a charm.

I also think I just coined a new phrase - Picture-Out-Of-Picture (POP). Notice the Colts-Pats game on my 21 inch computer monitor and the Texans-Raiders game on my 42" LCD TV.

I am the commissioner of TV football watching.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

iPhone is Invention of The Year

Surprised? TIME Mag named the iPhone as Invention of the Year.

Tune in Saturday at 11am and I'll go over the 5 reasons why they chose it.

Plus Leopard, the Google phone, Daylight Savings Time info and why you might be a bit happier if you live in an apartment and currently disappointed in your cable TV service.