Local Businesses Support Education Efforts in Tampa Bay

home-theater-tampa-flIn an effort to teach young teens about the challenges of running a successful small business, Pinellas County has started a program called Small Business for Tampa Teens that introduces teens to local business owners.  Although it is in it’s first year, there have already been positive results from some of the relationships that have been formed and the knowledge that is being shared.

Starting with Technology

Since so many kids now days are immersed in technology, whether it be the smart phones, gaming systems, or personal computers, the Small Business for Tampa Teens program thought it would be a good idea to start off with a local technology company.

Innovative Sight & Sound is a local home technology company that specializes in home theater and home automation systems in the Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater area.  They recently hosted an event at the Clearwater showroom that allowed the kids to see firsthand what the business does and how it operates.  The event kicked off with a quick demonstration of their theater system.  The kids were wowed with several impressive scenes from recent movies.

Then they were taken behind the scenes to see what it takes to make one of these high performance home theater systems operate so smoothly.

One of the goals of this program is to introduce teens to professions in which they might have an interest in working once they’ve graduated from high school or college.  It gives them an up-close and personal look at the daily tasks involved in running and operating a successful business.  They are allowed to ask all the questions they want regarding what the business does and how it services it’s clients.

Hands on Experience

One of the best parts of the program is that it provides hands on experience for teens to see what it is like to work in certain industries.  While plenty of kids are passionate about technology, they don’t necessarily have a solid understanding of what it takes to make technology operate successfully in a production environment.

This particular demonstration allowed them to see the time and effort required in designing, building, and troubleshooting a high performance home technology system.

So far the project has been a great success with both business owners and the teens enjoying the entire experience.

For more about Innovative Sight & Sound, you can contact them at their showroom with the information below.

Innovative Sight & Sound
4400 118th Ave N #203
Clearwater, FL 33762
(727) 539-0000


Local soldier injured in training accident adjusts to life as paraplegic

A local soldier’s life was forever changed in February of this year. 

Specialist Timothy Riney, Jr. was paralyzed during a training accident while at Fort Carson, Colorado. Riney Jr. and his parents sat down with Bay News 9 to talk about his recovery for the first time.

Riney Jr. now lives in his parents’ Safety Harbor home, and said he takes one day at a time. His parents said it’s been a challenge to give their son a way of life at home that maintains his dignity.

When Riney Jr. decided to join the Army in 2012, he was in his second year at Florida State University. He said it was something he always wanted to do.

“To put on that uniform and see the flag every day, it was sheer honor, honestly,” said Riney Jr.

Riney Jr. and his family knew the risks of being in the military.  Still, they never expected he would nearly lose his life during a training exercise.

“The call on February 6th was just indescribable shock,” said father Timothy Riney Sr.

Riney and six others had been riding in a Stryker vehicle outside Fort Carson when the vehicle tumbled down a steep embankment, killing one soldier and injuring the rest.

“I’m a complete paraplegic, probably never going to walk again, but, just living life,” said Riney Jr, who is at the moment still active-duty.

The VA is taking care of Riney Jr.’s medical and physical therapy needs, however his parents wish his life was far more comfortable at home.

Riney Jr. sleeps in the front living room because he can’t get to his bedroom upstairs. He uses a bathroom, without a door, to fit his wheelchair.  It’s tough for him to reach cabinets in the kitchen.

Riney’s self-employed parents said they can’t afford the home improvements that would give him privacy, and said they can’t apply for assistance until the accident investigation is complete.

“We are reaching out now as much as we can, for help from other places other individuals, and not worrying about what the military or the VA is going to do for him, because that’s maybe a year or so away, if at all,” said Riney Sr., “And even the groups we’ve contacted most of those groups have different reasons they’re not going to be able to help.”

Despite the struggles, Riney Jr. stays positive.

“There’s always a plan, and you got to just accept it and just go with the plan, you can’t ever fight it,” said Riney Jr., “Feeling bad for myself isn’t going to get me anywhere.”

His father admires his strength, and said it’s what helps keep them all going.

“My pride for him is overwhelming,” said Riney Sr.

Riney Jr. is going to physical therapy at the VA hospital twice a week. He said his physical therapists have been a source of inspiration during his recovery, and said he would now like to become a physical therapist someday.

The family has set up a foundation in Riney Jr.’s name. That website can be found here: http://timothyrineyfoundation.com/.


Laying out the problems with Apple’s Family Sharing

I think I’ve written before about Family Sharing, Apple’s solution for families that want to be able to share the stuff they buy in Apple’s iTunes Store.

The idea is that family members shouldn’t have to buy a song, movie, etc., if someone else in the household has already bought it. In the past, most families accomplished this by sharing one iTunes Store account — everyone in a family could access the same stuff, because everyone was buying stuff under the same name.

That was what my family used to do, and it did make sharing purchases dead simple. There are only four of us, only one of us uses more than one iThing (raising my hand, sheepishly) and we all pretty much want to watch and listen to the same stuff. The most awkward the arrangement usually ever became for us was when one or both of the kids were given iTunes Store gift cards. We’d load them onto our shared iTunes Store account, then we’d have to keep our own checkboook-style register so we knew who had how much left to spend.

Family Sharing arrived with iOS 8, probably because iOS 8 makes a stronger assumption that devices sharing the same account belong to the same person. Until we signed up for Family Sharing, I had a hard time convincing iOS that all of our devices didn’t belong to my wife, for example.

But Family Sharing isn’t without its shortcomings, and David Sparks described them eloquently in a New Year’s Day blog post. He runs through several points in fine detail, but here are the ones I’ve run into in our family:

In-app purchases aren’t included. If one of us buys a $1.99 app from the App Store, anyone in our family can navigate through to that person’s purchases and download it for free. But if the developer sets up that game as a free download from the App Store with the meat of it available as a $1.99 in-app purchase, each of us has to buy it separately.

iTunes Match isn’t included. iTunes Match isn’t without its own problems, but the idea behind it is that all of your music — whether purchased from the iTunes Store or copied from your personal CD collection — is available on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. In our case, it’s generally worked reasonbly well, and at $25 a year it’s not outrageously expensive (especially if you used to pay for .Me services that are now free under iCloud). But there’s a big difference between paying $2 a month for an iTunes Match account shared by your family and paying four times that to cover four accounts.

App updates often don’t work. This was the earliest problem we ran into with Family Sharing, and we still run into it occasionally. Now that each of us is using our own accounts on our iPhones and iPods (and my iPad), we’re occasionally prompted to update an app only to then be told the app can’t be updated because it was purchased on a different account. Often, updating that app means deleting it from your device — meaning it’s likely you’ll lose your data — and installing it again for free via Family Sharing. Often, I end up deleting the app and just leaving it at that.

Anyway, David Sparks lays out his problems as reasons he’s quitting Family Sharing. We haven’t come to that point yet, but I admit that’s likely because my kids don’t complain loudly about things that would make me complain loudly. Apple’s track record on debugging their cloud services hasn’t been great; let’s hope they figure Family Sharing out sooner than later.


Biologists: Dolphin with deep propeller cuts improving


Marine biologists say an injured bottlenose dolphin seems to be improving.

The dolphin had a badly lacerated back when she was found in John’s Pass off Madiera Beach earlier this month.

Blair Mase of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the Tampa Bay Times a team of biologists and veterinarians tracking the dolphin are “slightly encouraged. But they consider her condition to be potentially life-threatening.

Last week biologists took pictures of the dolphin that show deep propeller cuts on her back and tail. Mase says the cuts likely go as deep as the bone.

The agency plans to track the dolphin they’ve named Babyface through the weekend before deciding whether to let her heal in the wild or be captured and rehabilitated.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


So, should you order an Apple Watch? (w/video)

Apple hosted their big shindig on Monday to announce new Apple Watch details, new MacBook laptops and more. The folks at MacRumors have some excellent roundups, if you’re interested in the nitty gritty. The highlights:

Apple Watch

–Pricing starts at $349 for an alumninum Sport model and goes all the way up to $17,000 for the 18K gold Edition. Prices vary by material (aluminum, stainless steel and gold) and size (42mm and 38mm). Buyers can choose bands ranging in price from $49 to $449.

–Starting on the April 24 launch date, you’ll be able to make a reservation at an Apple Store to try on an Apple Watch model you select online.

–The Apple Watch will be water resistant, but it won’t be waterproof, per se. You’ll be okay wearing one while exercising, in the rain and while washing your hands (or all three, simultaneously), but it should not be submerged (i.e., while swimming).

–The battery is expected to last 18 hours during mixed use (defined as 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 30-minute workout with music playback). It should last up to three hours of continuous phone calls, up to 6½ hours during an active workout session, and up to 6½ hours of playing audio. When used simply as a watch, the battery should last 48 hours — and in a newly announced Power Reserve mode, for 72 hours. It will take 1½ hours to charge the battery from 0 to 80 percent using the included inductive charger, 2½ hours to get to a full 100 percent charge. The battery will be replacable, but only by sending the watch to Apple for installation.

–The Financial Times says the Apple Watch 2 launch is targeted for 2016; new case materials could be coming this fall.

Retina MacBook; New MacBook Air and Pro

–The new 12-inch Retina MacBook (starting at $1,299) is separate from Apple’s Air and Pro lines. It weighs 2 pounds and is 24 percent thinner than the current MacBook Air. It comes in three iPhone- and iPad-style colors (gold, silver and dark gray). There’s a newly redesigned keyboard and trackpad that can tell taps from presses (Apple calls it “Force Touch”). It boasts only one external port, a USB-C connector that will handle charging and external storage and displays; it will not have the traditional MagSafe charger available in other MacBook models. Follow the link above for processor and graphics details.

–Updates to the Macbook Air and Pro lines were slight, including processor and graphics upgrades, and a redesigned Force Touch trackpad.

Apple TV

–Maybe a little lost in all the Apple Watch hubbub is a a new HBO Go subscription that will let you add HBO programming to your Apple TV whether or not HBO is part of your cable subscription. It will cost $15 a month and become available next month. The plan meshes with rumors that Apple might create a Web-based television service that would bypass cable companies altogether.

–The price of an Apple TV was dropped to $69 (from $99).

The fallout

Seeing Apple offer a watch priced at $17,000 raised a lot of eyebrows, although some had pointed out in advance that it’s pretty much impossible to buy a solid gold watch for under $10,000.

Am I likely to run out and buy one? Well, not a solid gold one, that’s for sure. And the model I’d be most likely to consider would still cost $350 to $400, which is way more than I’ve ever spent for a watch, be it smart or dumb.

I don’t need to be sold on the concept. I’ve worn my Pebble smartwatch since I got one in their initial Kickstarter project, and I love it. Glancing at my wrist to find out who’s calling, or who sent that email or iMessage that just arrived feels a lot better than having to fish my phone out of my pocket every few minutes. When I’m at one of our kids’ swim meets, it vibrates to let me know when there’s lightning in the area. How cool is that? And I would expect you could do anything with an Apple Watch that I can do with my Pebble.

Should you buy an Apple Watch? I dunno. Maybe it’s better to ask whether you should by one of these Apple Watches or the next version. I’ve always found the second iteration of a new gizmo to work a little more smoothly than the first, anyway. (My first-generation iPod touch didn’t even have volume buttons, f’r crying’ out loud.) With new models expected this fall or next year at the latest — and, presumably, new prices — you might be happier in the long run.


St. Petersburg man accused of beating 11-month-old son


A St. Petersburg man is facing charges after his young son was hospitalized with severe brain trauma.

Eric Joseph-Kareem Williams, 19, was arrested Monday on charges of aggravated child abuse and violation of probation for carrying a concealed firearm.

According to St. Petersburg police, Williams’ 11-month-old son was taken to the hospital on Sunday afternoon by paramedics after he was found unresponsive by a family acquaintance.

Police said the child was suffering from severe brain trauma that required emergency surgery. Doctors said they also found severe burns on the baby’s body, and bruising to his chest and face.

Investigators said Williams told them he had lone custody of the child at the time of the injuries, but he maintained they were the result of an accidental fall.

However, a doctor determined that the baby’s brain and body injuries were inconsistent with William’s explanation of events, and were instead the result of child abuse, police said.

The child remains in critical condition at All Children’s Hospital.


Wife arrested after fight with husband over Confederate flag


A Safety Harbor woman was arrested for hitting her husband because he wouldn’t take down the Confederate flag, according to deputies.

Deputies say Margaret “Peggy” Rae Carpenter and her husband, Larry, were arguing over the Confederate flag Larry had put up Saturday afternoon.

According to the arrest affidavit, she kept asking him to take down the flag and he refused.

Deputies said the fight turned physical when Peggy, who was wearing two bracelets at the time, stuck Larry in the arm, causing him to bleed.

The 60 year old was charged with domestic battery. 


Google offers unlimited free storage of photos and videos for everyone

It’s all you want, really, isn’t it? A digital equivalent of that shoebox full of photos in your parents’ closet — a place you can store all the photos and videos you’re taking, without having to worry about having enough space for them.

Because here’s the thing: Your parents’ shoebox didn’t cost them anything. If you decide you want a phone with more storage space, it could cost you a couple hundred bucks. If you can figure out how to get them off your phone onto a disk, you’ve got to buy that, too — and then you’ll have to worry about what happens to all those photos and videos if it gets broken or lost. Storing them online seems like the best option, but storage space is always an issue. You can get the space you need, but you’ll pay for it, every month, for as long as they’re willing to store your stuff.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Google announced Google Photos, and it might be a game-changer in the cloud storage game. Google Photos will store all of your photos and videos. For free. All of them.

There are limitations, but right now odds are they won’t be important to you — photos can be up to 16 megapixels, and high-definition video is limited to 1080p. Stay within those limits (as you likely already do) and you can dump everything you want into Google Photos.

There’s an app for iPhones and Android phones, and a website (photos.google.com). Visit, and you might see shades of the old photo management tool from Google Plus, the company’s struggling social media site. But Google Photos will be different, the company says.

“There has been a renaissance in the thinking of what Google Plus is for,” Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of photos and streams (that’s a job title?), told the Associated Press. It’s not that Google Plus is going anywhere, Horowitz said, but AP says it’s “likely to focus on bringing together people who share common interests and hobbies instead of trying to connect friends and family.” I admit I’m not sure I understand what that distinction will mean when you’re deciding how to share photos of your cat, but the message seems to be this: Google admits the shortcomings in Google Plus were obvious; hopefully Google Photos will address some of those concerns.

And the benefit to you goes beyond the free price tag, Google says. Google Photos will be about how your photos are arranged and managed, freeing you from having to sift through that entire digital shoebox when you want to find that photo of Uncle Phil falling into the pool last Thanksgiving. If you use Gmail for your email, you probably understand the approach Google wants to bring to organizing and searching your photos. They’ll be automatically sorted by location, activity — or, according to the AP, “even species of animal.” Down the road, after you’ve uploaded thousands of your photos, Google wants you to be able to find pictures of your dog just by typing “dog” in the search field — even if you’ve never taken the time to put tags or descriptions on any of your stuff. You’ll be able to create slide shows and albums automatically, too, and set them to music. 

Is there a catch? There has to be one, right? And maybe it’s this:

Ask yourself what’s in this for Google? How do they come out ahead by offering you everything you wanted, and for free? Well, for one thing, they’re trying to fine-tune their image recognition algorithms. What better way to do that than to turn it loose on an enormous stash of photos that people have given you for free?

Is that some nefarious invasion of everyone’s privacy? Meh. I guess it depends on how worked up you want to get about that kind of thing. Stashing your photos on Google’s servers is kind of like leaving your gym bag in someone else’s locker. It’s probably fine, but you wouldn’t want to leave anything valuable or embarrassing in there.

And when the alternatives are 5GB of free storage from Apple, then 99 cents a month for an additional 20GB, or even 1TB of free storage from Flickr, Google’s free and unlimited largesse might be worth managing that concern. It’s certainly enough to get your attention.


Firefighters warn about power strips after school fire

TAMPA (FOX 13) -

An overheated plug adapter caused a fire in the main office at John Quincy Adams Middle School in Tampa early Wednesday morning, according to fire investigators.

“It started out the size of a sparkler at first, and then it just grew intensely, very quick,” said Melani Singletary, who witnessed the fire.

The damage cost was estimated at more than $100,000.

Firefighters say various forms of power strips are common in both businesses and households, and they warn users to be careful.

Fire officials say there are several ways people misuse power strips, such as overloading them.

“There are some that have eight to 10 slots, so if you hook them all up and then keep extending, you’ve got maybe 15 devices drawing current, coming from one extension cord. That’s not the purpose of it,” said Tampa Fire Marshal Milton Jenkins.

Users must know their wattage limits, and always avoid ‘piggy-backing’ power strips, plugging one strip into another.

In addition, it’s important to keep power strips away from moisture. Damp places, such as windows and doors can lead to fires if water somehow seeps into the electrical device.

“If your surge protector continues to trip, then that’s telling you you’re drawing too much power,” said Jenkins.

The fire marshal reiterated that a power strip that flashes in and out, including a flickering power light, could indicated the device is dying and needs to be replaced.

The most reliable power strips, according to fire officials, is a device that has a ‘kill switch,’ meaning if the strip becomes overloaded, it will automatically shut down.

According to a Hillsborough County School District spokesman, no one will be punished for the faulty power strip that led to the fire on Wednesday, but the district’s safety office will send a reminder letter to all employees on how to prevent electrical fires.

Classes were not disrupted by the fire at Adams Middle School. The fire started in the guidance counselor’s office and was extinguished within 30 minutes, before it could spread to any hallways or classrooms.


New carry-on bag sizing program delayed

TAMPA (FOX 13) -

When an airline group proposed requirements for smaller carry-on bags last week I proclaimed on TV that it ‘steamed my clams.’


Apparently, I was not the only one griping. And, apparently someone was listening.  


Today the International Air Transport Association announced it is ‘pausing’ the smaller-bag program, called Cabin OK.


“While many welcomed the Cabin OK initiative, significant concerns were expressed in North America,” said Tom Windmuller, IATA Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travelers. We need to get it right. Today we are pausing the rollout and launching a comprehensive reassessment.”

The IATA recommended on June 9 that air passengers’ carry-on on bags be limited to 21.5″ x 13.5″ x 7.5″.


“Cabin OK is a guideline for an optimally-sized cabin bag,” the IATA explained.


The reduction from today’s typical roll-aboard bag was relatively small, measuring just .5″ x .5″ x 1.5.” But that loss was big enough that most carry-on bags (which currently stand 22″ tall) would either need to be replaced or checked into the cargo hold – at the passenger’s expense.


Many consumers, including this reporter, bristled at the move and concluded it was a nothing more than a thinly veiled money grab.


My colleague Josh Cascio quoted me as saying this: “What really steams my clams about this is that the bag that I just bought– I’m going to have a buy a new one now.”


To describe the proposal’s public reception as unpopular would be too kind. Airline passengers railed.


“In my lifetime, I have never seen a service industry that is so openly corrosive to their customer base,” said Fox 13 viewer Eric Peterson via Facebook.