Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TV Timeout

Since we are on the verge of "March Madness" I am going to take a "TV Timeout".

I am on vacation and I am flying south for a little R&R. The Tampa, Florida area to be specific.

When I get back I might share a pic or two from the trip.

Check back later next week (around March 7) for continuation of "New at Dis Hour".

Monday, February 23, 2009

Get a Free Sub Sandwich

I came across this freebie on the web today. If you follow the link and fill out the registration form you will get a free sub sandwich from Quiznos.

Follow this link to Quiznos' website. (Everything looks legit to me.)

Everyone can use a freebie or two at times with this economy. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Consuming Programming

I'm working on a project for work and I need some input from the crowd.

How do you mostly acquire your prime time "tv" programming?

For instance, how do you watch shows like NCIS, 24, Lost, CSI, etc. Do you mainly acquire it by watching on your television set connected to cable? Or do you get the shows through websites or bit torrents?

Leave your answer on the poll at the right of the page. If you want to leave more information, please do some in the comment portion of this blog post.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bill Proposes ISPs & Wi-Fi Owners to Keep Logs

If you are one of the millions of people that own a Wi-Fi router a newly proposed bill in Congress could make your life a little more difficult.

Republicans have introduced two bills that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and operators of Wi-Fi access points keep records about users for two years.

The bill in the Senate is S.436. In the House it is H.R.1076.

Read the story about the "Internet Safety Act" from CNN.

What would this mean to you? If you own a wireless router and the bill passes, you would have to keep a record of all users that have accessed your Wi-Fi network. You would also have to keep those records for two years.

This would also impact your cell phone if you have it enabled to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

I'd like to hear what you think about the proposed legislation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Tacos

It appears that Jack in the Box is going to be celebrating my birthday...

Here is a coupon I have come across that will allow you to get two tacos from Jack in the Box for FREE. The coupon is only valid for February 24.

Join in the birthday celebration by clicking on the image, printing the coupon, and take it to a Jack in the Box store.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Media Companies Find It Tough in Current Economy

Media companies are not exempt from the global economic woes.

Media General is the latest media company to announce cut backs in spending. The company announced today that it will be implementing a mandatory 10-day furlough for employees.

Media General owns and operates 296 newspapers and other publications, 19 television stations, and 75 online enterprises.

Media General isn't the first media company to announce a furlough program. The Gannett Company announced a 5-day furlough program for its employees in January. Employees must take the 5-day furlough during the first quarter of 2009.

When times are tough, companies don't have as much money to advertise. Advertising is how media companies make money.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finding Cheaper Car Rentals

I'm looking forward to a trip to Tamp, Florida in a week and a half. I could use a little R&R!

Finding good priced airline tickets are easy. I found a ticket on American Airlines from St. Louis to Tampa for $205 (including taxes and fees).

The hard part can be finding rental cars without needing to apply to the "$700-billion Staimulus Bill".
The tip I have for finding good prices for car rentals is to visit

I have used Hotwire for car rentals before and have always had good luck.
For example, I used Orbitz (I like for airline/vacation deals) to search for car rentals for Feb. 26 - March 3. The search comes back with prices ranging from $413/week to as much as $514/week for a midsize car through a major car rental company. Using Hotwire, I was able to find a midsize car for $220 (all taxes and fees included).

Be aware that when you use Hotwire to find the cheapest rates for car rentals you do not get to see which company it is through. However, Hotwire tells you that it will be through one of the "major" car companies (Alamo, Avis Budget, Enterprise, or Hertz). As long as it is one of the major companies, it doesn't bother me.

Bottom line... Check out if you are looking for a car rental and want to save some cash!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Taking a Step Forward

I think the internet and technology is great! This isn't the first time you have heard me say it and it won't be the last.

I have been working on finding ways for KFVS/Heartland News to use technology and the internet in new ways that can help us both on-air and online. If you were watching Heartland News at 5pm and 6pm you might have seen a new tool used on the air. (Note that the quality of this cut of the video isn't as good as what was on the air due to compressing the video and processing the video as flash for blog purposes.)

If you follow technology, what we did is nothing fancy or nothing new. Most people have heard of Skype. TV stations are just starting to take note of how Skype can be used to bring the viewer more live shots from anywhere in the world.

We didn't just stumble across this idea at KFVS. I (along with web producer Christy Hendricks) have been playing around with applications that would allow us to go live in the field without the use of an expensive microwave or satellite vehicle. (These vehicles can cost upwards of a million dollars.)

Back in 2000, I remember sending an email to past News Director Brandon Sherer suggesting we get several laptop computers and webcams. This would allow reporters to go live in the field with video before a live truck can get to them instead of just using telephone interviews (phoners). At the time, the technology still had a few issues. There wasn't widely available broadband internet connections across the viewing area. However, with the widespread use of DSL/Cable modems, wifi, and cell carrier air-cards, our internet connectivity problem has been fixed.

One of our biggest hurdles has been the delay in getting the video/audio back to the station for use on-air. If you watch satellite live shots on our air, CNN, or CBS you will notice there is about a 3-4 second delay. You might think, "Why is the person being interviewed taking so long to respond?" That is due to the satellite delay. The delay comes from having to beam the signal 22,000 miles in the sky to a satellite. Then it has to be beamed back down to earth, another 22,000 mile trip. With some of the internet applications we have tried out, we were able to get the delay down to 5-10 seconds at best. That isn't good enough for TV purposes.

Over the coming weeks you will see the use of this technology more and more on KFVS12. One of the exciting parts of this (or at least I think), is that we can talk to viewers when there is "breaking news" happening. Instead of just talking to someone over the phone we can now put their voice with video (as long as they have a webcam).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tornado Warnings in Northern Arkansas

A few tornado warnings have been issued for a storm moving through northern Arkansas. Currently, the storm is tracking to the NE at 40mph.

Assuming the storm stays together and keeps moving to the northeast (with a slight turn to the east), it appears that it could move in to an area from Doniphan, Missouri to Kennett, Missouri. Yes, that is wide area but the storm could start to make a move towards the east.

It is still an hour away from Doniphan and perhaps an hour 45 minutes away from Kennett. (Assuming it continues to move at 40mph.)

By the way, if you look at the radar imagery above and notice it isn't showing any rain in southeast Missouri, it is because we are looking at the storm from the Little Rock, Arkansas NWS radar site.

Tornado Watch Issued

The Storm Prediction Center has issued Tornado Watch #14 for almost all of southeast Missouri (excluding Mississippi County), northwest Tennessee, and northeast Arkansas. The watch is in effect until 6am CT Wednesday.

The watch also includes all of south central Missouri, eastern Arkansas, and western Tennessee.

It is a good idea to turn on your NOAA Weather Radio before you go to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hang on to Your Hats!

Thunderstorms are still in the forecast for overnight. Damaging storms have been occurring over Texas and Oklahoma today.

Right now, I am not that impressed with the chance of severe storms around southeast Missouri, southern Illinois or western Kentucky. Don't be surprised by some strong winds (could be damaging) as the line of thunderstorms move through early Wednesday morning. Expect the line to move through starting in southeast Missouri around 5am-6am Wednesday. The entire line should be out of the area by Noon.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think we are going to be between the intense storms. Thunderstorms will re-intensify over central Kentucky early in the afternoon.

Don't be surprised if we have strong sustained and gusting winds behind the line of storms Wednesday morning. Winds are expected to be 30-40 mph with gusts over 50 mph.

Severe Thunderstorms Possible Overnight

As earlier mentioned, we have a chance of some strong to severe thunderstorms overnight (Tuesday-Wednesday). I woke up this morning and checked the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) website to see what they are thinking.

Here is the Day 1 Outlook (issued at 7am Tuesday) which runs from 6am Tuesday - 6am Wednesday: It appears that the greatest threat for southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee will be damaging winds. However, the SPC indicates it is not out of the question for an isolated tornado to develop. To read the latest Day 1 Outlook from the SPC, follow this link. Note the probabilities below:

Severe winds (58mph+):


Here is a look at the Day 2 Outlook from the SPC. This runs 6am Wednesday - 6am Thursday. I would not be surprised to see parts of Kentucky upgraded to a "Moderate Risk" later today.

The National Weather Service in Paducah, KY will be holding a teleconference with emergency managers and tv meteorologists today at 12:30pm. (This isn't uncommon.) I'll post a follow-up post with their thoughts after the call.

If you watch us on tv, you will have head us say this before.... "This is a good night to turn on your NOAA Weather Radio before you go to bed." There could be warnings issued overnight.

It is also important to let people, that are still without power, know about the threat for later tonight.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Caught in the Middle

We're back to weather for today. This time not about winter storms, but instead spring storms in the winter.

It appears that we might have two rounds of thunderstorms this coming week. The first round will come Monday. These shouldn't be too bad. The second round will come Tuesday evening and last through the first half of Wednesday.

The Storm Prediction Center, the meteorologists that issue Severe Thunderstorm/Tornado Watches, have put the area in a "Slight Risk" of severe weather for Tuesday evening. (See image below. You can click on the image to see a larger version.)

Looking at SPC's probabilities of severe weather leads me to believe that we could see an upgrade to a moderate risk for parts of Arkansas. (See the image below.)

When you see the probabilities from the SPC, it does not mean that there is a 30% chance of severe weather. It means that there is a 30% chance of having one or more severe events occurring within 25 miles of any point inside of the area.

Right now it looks as though storms will fire up across eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and western Arkansas. They would then move to the east. They wouldn't arrive in to southeast Missouri until later Tuesday evening if not early Wednesday morning (overnight). Most likely the storms would form in to a line with the main threat being damaging winds.

Normally you would think that would be the end of the storms. That won't be the case this time. There is still a upper level low pressure that will be slowly moving to the east. It will continue to send waves (or as I sometimes call it "chunks") of energy our way. Take a look at the upper-level wind graphic below. It might be a little confusing at first, but I will describe what you are seeing.

This is a view of winds at 500mb or approximately 18,000 feet. You are seeing lots of colors on the map. The colors represent the wind speed. For instance, the brighter yellow areas represent winds 65 knots to 70 knots or 75 mph to 80 mph.

Notice the reds and even purple out over southern New Mexico/western Texas. Just to the north of those strong winds is the upper-level low pressure center. When looking at upper-level charts you can see the waves of energy spitting out of the storm. Typically, you will see storms develop on the leading edge of the upper-level winds. The map above is for 6pm CT Tuesday.

Now take a look at the chart below which is for 12pm CT Wednesday.

See how the winds start to swing around the area of low pressure? By the way, the strongest winds at this point are right over the top of southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee. The storms that come through early Wednesday morning will have some upper-level support to keep going, but there won't be as much energy/juice (from heating and moisture) to work with. So when the storms come through here, they should be weakening. Think about it as a marathon runner runs their race, towards the end they can keep going, but they don't have as much in the tank to go as hard as they could towards the beginning.

Since the winds are right over the top of the Heartland around noon Wednesday, the next round of afternoon thunderstorms should develop just to the east of the viewing area. The SPC concurs with that thinking. Take a look at their Day 4 outlook. (The SPC does not issue slight, moderate, or high risk outlooks beyond Day 3.)

We will have to see how this pans out as it is still a couple of days away. But right now, it appears southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee are Caught in the Middle. Which can be a good thing in these situations. That being said, it does not mean that we will not see some watches/warnings out of this, but it does not look to be as bad as it could.

This is still a couple days away. We will have to keep monitoring the situation and see if things shift east or west a little.

By the way, this shouldn't be the first you are hearing about this as I have been talking about the chance of seeing some strong "spring-like" storms around the area since Wednesday.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Looking for a Phone

I have reached the magic moment in one's life. The point where one feels free to wander the open valleys. The moment where my cell phone contract is about to run out! Woo hoo! Let freedom ring.

Now that the contract is up, I can have fun looking around for a new phone at a "reduced" price. So this is where I need YOUR help. What phone should I get?

A few basic bits of information...
  • Currently I am an AT&T user. (For full disclosure, I also own stock in AT&T. haha)
  • I use my cell phone as my primary phone, although I still have a "land line" which isn't really a land line because it is a VOIP line.
  • I would like to use the primarily as a phone but also as an internet device.
  • I don't need it for music.
I have been looking at the iPhone. I have seen and heard great reviews of the phone. However, it doesn't have Flash yet. (Adobe is working on an iPhone version of Flash.) Flash is important to me as most websites are using Flash video. I am also not sure how I feel about using touch screens for all of my typing.

The Blackberry Bold looks cool, but too expensive!

I have also been looking at the Nokia e71. I have seen and heard a lot of good reviews on this phone. One of the cool features about this phone is the ability to download/run programs on it. For instance, there is one program that will allow you to turn the phone in to a mobile wifi hotspot. That means that you can use your wifi enabled laptop and surf the internet via your cell phone without any cables. Pretty cool!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Clip the Coupons

It is an interesting trend in the airline industry. Coupons.

The economy is in the dumps and the airlines are fighting for your money. To try and get your money, they have decided to jump in to the coupon/coupon code game. This is an interesting shift as airlines typically don't play this game.

It appears that the only way to receive the coupon codes is by signing up for individual airlines email alerts. That's not too much to ask if it saves you a fair amount of money. You also have to book on the specific airlines website. (Although, that is what I prefer versus booking via a discount site.)

Here is an example from Air France. The coupon code is MARCH442 and will save you $75. You must use the code to purchase a ticket by February 17.

Even better code seems to work. Take a look at a ticket I mock-booked from St. Louis to Paris.

The ticket was orginally $764.02 and the discount took it down to $689.02.

Happy airfare shopping...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

From Winter to Spring in a Matter of Days

Everyone is in need of some warmer weather. The good news... It is almost here. We will be back in to the middle to upper 50's this weekend. (Actually, highs should reach the upper 40's to lower 50's Friday.)

Along with the warmer temperatures, moisture will begin streaming north on strong southerly/southwesterly winds. Enough that you will notice the humidity climbing.

With the warm temperatures and moisture in place, we will be seeing a storm system that is moving in to California. This storm will move across the southwestern US and eventually shoot some chunks of energy our way. This means that we will have a chance of severe weather Monday and again overnight Tuesday/Wednesday.

Note that the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has already highlighted parts of Missouri in their Day 6 outlook.
This is still several days away and things will change a little bit, but this is how it is looking now. Stay tuned...