This is the personal Blog home of Brian M. Westbrook. I make no guarantees you will like what you see here -- or receive any value. If you're looking for my radio stuff, it has (for the most part) moved to:

11 December 2006

2006 Holiday Gadget Guide

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 20061211
Nintendo Wii Logo/LinkBuying tech gifts for the holidays can be a daunting task. Just knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Never fear, your resident Tech Expert tackled the topic on-air today and is here with a replay for online listening. iPod vs. Zune? Wii vs. Xbox 360 vs. PS3? Extended warranties? All covered in this holiday gadget guide wrap-up... for more "Features on the :40's" with KXL's Tech Expert Brian Westbrook, listen live at Mondays @ 6:40am and 8:40am.

Listen to today's report: kxl_techexpert-gadgetguide_20061211.mp3

If you're still looking for gift ideas for me... check out my Amazon Wishlist! ;-) Have a Geeky Holiday!

05 December 2006

Did stranded Oregon family use online mapping?

google vs. yahoo vs. mapquestI did an interview today with Newsradio 750 KXL about online mapping sites and how GPS technology may have helped the family stuck in Oregon for a week. (The father remains missing as of this post.)

In preparation for the interview, I looked up the route the stranded family took from Grants Pass to Gold Beach. Curiously, Google (shown at left, top) sends travelers on a more direct (albeit closed during the winter months) route while Mapquest (middle) and Yahoo (bottom) send drivers south through California. This must be what they mean when they say "this information is for reference only" ... bet the Google lawyers are glad they insisted on *that* disclaimer today. :)

27 November 2006

How Ruined My 2006 Christmas

With Thanksgiving a recent memory, our nation's attention seems to have shifted to consumerism in the form of holiday gift-giving. My family is no exception. Last year we discovered the convenience of Amazon Wish Lists. What, with the registry, comments, prioritization and convenient duplication-avoidance system -- it's perfect for high-tech families like ours.

BMW's Wish ListI updated my Christmas "Wish List" (view it here) last Saturday around the pre-Thanksgiving dinner table. Among the items added was the Tom Tom
Navigator 6 w/GPS receiver
(opting for the DVD maps so I can load on my own memory card) package.

Not being one to appreciate spoiled surprises, I made sure to set the "Don't show me what's been purchased: [X] during the month of December" option last year (screenshot at right). **checking calendar** Problem: Today is November 27. Amazon no longer shows the GPS software and receiver package in my wishlist (along with a few DVDs that are apparently headed under my tree as well). :( Early-bird shoppers have purchased these items on my list and since it is not yet "the month of December" -- they've been removed from my Wishlist. I bet they'll reappear in a few days ... stay tuned!


Dear Amazon,

Please change the "during the month of December" option to "from Black Friday until the end of December". Anyone over-eager enough to buy my Christmas presents before Thanksgiving deserves to have me find out what I'm getting. But isn't early holiday shopping what you're hoping for? Isn't that what all this "Cyber Monday" stuff is about?

Maybe Christmas 2007 will be better.

In Christmas Ruins,


Bonus Blog Content:
In a pseudo-ironic coincidence (and while we're on the topic of, I discussed "Cyber Monday" today Newsradio 750 KXL's "Portland's Morning News" show. Here the clip here (mp3): kxl_techexpert-cybermonday_20061127.mp3

Screenshot: avoid spoiled options

15 November 2006

Microsoft signs on to Portland's free WiFi network

You may recall back in July when I talked about the City of Portand approving a proposal from a silicon-valley startup to grant free wireless internet (or "WiFi") access to residents (listen: MP3). Now, Microsoft® has teamed up with MetroFi to provide advertising and content support.

According to the recent announcement, Microsoft’s MSN® service will become the "home page" containing local news, information, and (of course!) advertising. The free service, which will be subsidized by ads on this MSN launch page and a 1 inch banner on the top of all web pages viewed during a user’s online session, is slated to be active by mid-2008.

From my friends in Portland: Thanks Microsoft! Now if only we could get free WiFi in Seattle... (and light rail... and tax-free shopping... and strippers... and...)

Listen to my report here: KXL Live Report: Microsoft Signs on to PDX WiFi (11/15/06) (or anytime at:

For more on this story:
  • Oregonian coverage:
  • The Willamette Week chimes in with a report on filtering:
  • Microsoft official press release: