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.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29173565/firefighters-warn-of-power-strips-after-adams-middle-fire

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.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29344407/new-carry-on-bag-sizing-program-delayed

Allegiant’s issues magnified by lack of alternatives

CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

Thursday morning, an Allegiant Air flight from St. Pete-Clearwater to Niagara Falls was diverted to Orlando/Sanford because of an “operational decision,” but no further details were given.

It’s the latest issue facing Allegiant recently. Twice in the last month, Allegiant planes made emergency landings at PIE, one for smoke in the cabin; the other had pressurization problems.

“I don’t think this is special to Allegiant,” said FOX 13 consumer reporter and aviation aficionado Chris Chmura.

We asked our own expert: What’s going on here?

“Trust you me — all of the airlines having problems like this every single day all over the country,” he said. “The problem is Allegiant, by virtue of its low cost model, doesn’t have the ability to rebook passengers on other airlines and that’s when frustration really begins to grow.”

He recommends going with a major carrier if the prices are similar.

Fliers like Mary Mill say overall their experiences with Allegiant have been solid.

“It is not expensive to fly, you can take your family, it’s not a big deal. You can go more often,” she said.

Passengers on that diverted flight were given $50 vouchers.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29413010/allegiants-issues-magnified-by-lack-of-alternatives

Flight costs up in anticipation of record-setting travel season

TAMPA (FOX 13) -

As the weather gets warmer and children across the country finish the school year, many families are planning vacations, and with that, airline companies are hoping to cash in.

Popular airlines are raising their prices for those flying the skies. The trend started when JetBlue increased round-trips rates by $10 earlier this month, and now others are following suit.

The upward bump comes after the industry group, Airlines for America, estimated that 222 million people will fly between June 1 and August 31- which would make it the busiest summer in the history of U.S. air travel.

The previous peak was 217 million in 2007 before economic downturn.

The average number of travelers a day is expected to be 2.4 million. That includes 332,000 on international flights, which according to the group, also sets a new record.

A lot of people are packing bags because 13 of the 15 busiest days of the year fall in the summer.

A quick and easy tip for those hoping to spend less on summer travel: Avoid booking flights for the most popular days, Friday or Sunday.

Instead, travel Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday and you’ll likely save money.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29340153/flight-costs-up-in-anticipation-of-record-setting-travel-season

Laying out the problems with Apple’s Family Sharing

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http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/latest-gadgets/so-theres-the-apple-watch/2220921

Where does Zephyrhills water really come from?

ZEPHYRHILLS (FOX 13) -

It’s two worlds in one that create this city’s namesake product: Bottled water.

There’s the industrial complex – the maze of stainless steel pipes and pounding machines. Then there’s the lush springs complex – with shimmering aqua ponds and brilliant tropical greenery.

Nestle, which owns Zephyrhills, granted us access inside both compounds to see how bottled water is made. It turns out that this seemingly simple task isn’t simple at all.

“You would think that getting water in a bottle wouldn’t be that complicated,” said plant manager Donnie Bowden.

The journey to your lips begins inside an idyllic place called Crystal Springs Preserve – the source of Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water. Contrary to public opinion, it’s private property. A man named Robert Thomas’s family owns it.

And he is the unlikely proprietor of the state’s most famous water works.

“I’m a rancher,” Thomas said.

Thomas said his family – longtime cattle ranchers – bought the Crystal Springs in the 1960s. Today, the Thomases have turned this unique slice of the state into a working preserve.

“It’s a great source of pride for us,” he continued. “It is absolutely gorgeous.”

The Thomas family employs a team of naturalists who are charged with keeps the springs complex as beautiful as possible – while also allowing water to be pumped out.

“We are private stewards of some of Florida’s most amazing habitat,” said Karen Pate, who oversees the 525-acre complex.

She takes us to the water’s edge.

“It’s awesome,” she observed.

But it wasn’t always that way. Thomas tells stories that are backed up by pictures in Florida’s photo archive.

“It became the old swimming hole,” he said.

Tourists and locals alike were loving the springs to death.

“It was a mess back then,” said Kent Koptiuch, a Nestle hydrogeologist who also looks after the springs. He keeps a balance. Koptiuch monitors the springs’ natural health while also safeguarding the bottling plant’s daily take.

It’s ironic in a sense. The consumption of this natural water feature’s sole offspring is the key to its preservation.

“I love my job,” he offered. “It’s one of the best jobs in the world, I think.”

Koptiuch said the springs produce 30 million gallons of water a day. The bottling plant takes 600,000 gallons of that. The ‘straw’ is a 10-inch diameter stainless steel pipe. It’s visible from the surface, but far from remarkable.

Thomas chuckles.

“People that come out and see it, they think I’m playing a joke on them,” he said. He lifts his arms and stretches them as wide as he can. “They think there’s going to be some pipe this big. And they ask, ‘That’s it?'”

The submerged pipe snakes underground – under roads, under intersections — and over 3.24 miles. It arrives at the plant as unceremoniously as it left the springs. The pipe emerges behind a tall chain link fence and connects to a silo farm.

“The first thing we do is run it through carbon filtration,” said Bowden. “Each of those holds about 45,000 gallons of water.”

But it’s not there long. Inside the sprawling factory lives a thundering mechanical marvel.

“We have 10 production lines,” Bowden continued. The pacing rivals NASCAR. Just 35 minutes pass between the time water arrives and it is bottled, labeled, and ready to ship.

It’s genuinely dizzying, as many components spin like a merry-go-round operated by the devil.

One type of machine feverishly converts three-inch plastic molds into full-size bottles at a rate of 17 per second – as it spins, no less. Another machine flash-fills as many as 1,000 a minute.

The plant produces an ocean a day.

“It’s somewhere around five million bottles of water every day,” Bowden said. “There’s a lot of thirsty people out there.”

Nestle sees great potential in bottled water. It enlisted a dietitian to press that point.

“Water is trending up,” said registered dietitian Carissa Bealert. “There’s actually research to support that. In 2014, for the first time ever in U.S. supermarkets, we bought more bottled water than carbonated drinks.”

Bowden said Zephyrhills is constantly testing the water’s chemistry for consistency. But there is one test that does not require a scientist.

“It’s a taste test,” he said. “We’re the first to taste it.”

Bowden says all 230 plant employees are required to taste at least 40 samples per week.

“We’re looking for any kind of off taste, any kind of off odor,” he explained.

The next people who will lap up the plant’s product are consumers – as many as five million a day. Many are likely unaware of the many people it takes. Even fewer likely realize the delicate balance between man and nature that brings them that refreshing bottle of H2O.

But Thomas says it works.

“I think it works quite well,” he added, standing on the edge of the glistening springs complex. “And this is where it starts.”

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29115798/where-does-zephyrhills-water-really-come-from

Trooper pulls man from burning car on interstate in St. Petersburg

By Cheryl Glassford, Reporter

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 09, 2015, 4:28 PM

ST. PETERSBURG — 

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper is being credited for pulling a man from a burning car Monday night. 

The crash happened on I-275 North near exit 26.

According to FHP, Trooper Robert Duckers had been helping out another driver whose car had broken down on the interstate. That’s when authorities say a car veered off the exit ramp at the curve, crashing in to several trees. The car burst in to flames.

Trooper Duckers ran to the car, and broke a window to get the driver out. 

Witness Douglas Donlon had pulled over to help, and saw Trooper Duckers pulling the man to safety.

“I pulled over to the side of the road and saw the car on fire, and saw the trooper dragging him out on the grass,” said Donlon,  “He was attending to him making sure he was alright.”

The trooper and others on scene gave the driver first aid until paramedics arrived, and took the driver to Bayfront Health with serious injuries.

Trooper Robert Duckers was also injured from broken glass and pulling the man away from the flames.

Those at the scene called him a hero.

“I think he was great, he went up to the car, it was on fire, he dragged the guy out,” said Donlon,  “I think it was awesome actions by him.”

The trooper was taken to the hospital to be checked out.

According to FHP, Duckers has been with them for about a year and a half.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2015/6/8/trooper_burning_car/?cid=rss

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.

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/latest-gadgets/google-offers-everyone-unlimited-free-storage-of-photos-and-videos/2231553