Tag Archives: David Pogue

“I Am …” The Westport Library Photo Campaign. Are You?

In the summer of 2016, over 500 people had their “geek moment” at the Westport Library.

Talented family and portrait photographer Pam Einarsen snapped them, as they held or wore objects identifying their particular passions. The “I Geek…” project portrayed an astonishing array of talents and interests, all of which the library encourages and helps us fulfill.

Among our geeks: human biology, burgundy, Harry Potter, Greek Islands, Toquet Hall, astronomy, break dancing, coffee, archery, knitting, astronomy, the Green Bay Packers, folk music, dragons, baking, and sleeping.

It all ended with a big party. The Great Hall was filled with food, entertainment — and Pam’s compelling portraits.

Now she’s at it again.

This time, when library users sit for their photos, they’re asked for 3 descriptors. Pam’s images, and those self-identifying phrases, are then shared on the library’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

David Pogue says “I am a dad. A showoff. A softie.” (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

It’s part of the library’s goal — in the midst of its Transformation project — for folks to imagine how the library can help them, in entirely new ways.

“What are you passionate about?” library director Bill Harmer says the “I Am…” campaign is asking.

“And how can we work together, with you and your passions, in this great new space?”

Mary Brown’s “I Am…” photo on Instagram. She says she is “an art historian, obsessed with music, and a Fireball Island master.” (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

The new library, Harmer adds, is “all about building community, and creating spaces where human beings can interact.”

More photo sessions will be scheduled soon. Check the library website for details.

Hey — it’s me! To find out my 3 descriptors, you’ll have to wait until the library posts this on social media. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)


David Pogue Finds A Renovation Angel

To the rest of the world, David Pogue is a tech guru. He’s a writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American), TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) and author (“Missing Manual” series, “Pogue’s Basics”) who has won 3 Emmy awards, 2 Webbys and a Loeb for journalism.

To Westporters, he’s a neighbor.

Which means he worries about the same things you and I do: traffic. How his kids do in school. His kitchen renovation project.

Here — because David Pogue is a neighbor, friend and “06880” fan — is his exclusive story about one part of that kitchen remodel:

When we decided to renovate our aging kitchen, one of my greatest stresses was: What happens to the old kitchen?

David Pogue’s kitchen, before renovation.

For most Fairfield County residents, I’d imagine the answer is, “it winds up in the landfill.” Occasionally, “Habitat for Humanity will take a few items.”

But I’m here to tell you about an amazing alternative that I wish everybody knew: Renovation Angel.

Our kitchen designer told us about this outfit. To be frank, it sounded too good to be true. Listen to this business model:

* They dismantle and haul away your old kitchen for free. You’re saved the cost of the demolition, disposal fees, dumpster rental, and so on.

* They give you a huge tax deduction.

* They then resell your entire kitchen, both online and at their huge showroom in New Jersey. All of it: cabinets, countertops, appliances, lights, chairs —whatever you can part with. Other people who are renovating their kitchens get luxury stuff for a fraction of its usual price.

* The best part: Renovation Angel then gives the proceeds to charity. They donate to programs for addiction recovery, at-risk children, job training, and social entrepreneurship.

David Pogue, wondering how to renovate his kitchen and help the world.

To me, this seemed like a win-win-win-win-win. You win (free demo and the tax writeoff); the planet wins (nothing thrown away); your kitchen’s buyer wins (saves a fortune); Renovation Angel wins (employs 135 people); and, of course, the charities win.

I decided to try it. I sent them photos; they sent a guy out to measure. They asked when we wanted them to show up, and recommended that we have the water and gas disconnected when they arrived. That was it.

Oh — except for the part where they said that our nearly 20-year-old kitchen would earn us a $40,000 tax deduction! Unbelievable.

And so last week they showed up on schedule with a big truck and a 4-man, fully insured crew. Board by board, piece by piece, they dismantled our kitchen, protecting each piece as they loaded it into the truck. They worked nonstop for 4 hours, treated each piece like an heirloom, and left the place spotless. (Incredibly, ours was their 2nd kitchen of the day.)

Almost done!

Renovation Angel is the brainchild of Steve Feldman, who credits a drug addiction recovery program with saving his life when he was a teenager. About 12 years ago, he saw a 10,000-square-foot house in Greenwich being demolished — and watched all the fine marble, custom cabinetry and expensive appliances get tossed into a dumpster. That was the inspiration for Renovation Angel.

Now, a dozen years later, he’s recycled 5,000 kitchens, donated $2.2 million to charity, and kept 30 million pounds of stuff out of landfills.

The kitchen, after Angel Renovation got done. (Photos/David Pogue)

The experience for us was joyous, effortless and thrilling — not words you usually associate with home renovation. Seems like Westport is a national hub of nice kitchens and kitchen renovation. So I can’t help myself in trying to spread the word!

As I said, David Pogue may be world famous, but he has typical Westport/1st world problems. Like, how will he and his family eat while their new kitchen is being installed?

Click below for David’s great time-lapse video of the entire Renovation Angel project:



First Citizens Of Westport

One man revitalized downtown Westport with a building project. The other revitalizes lives, providing homeless people with buildings to sleep in.

Both men — David Waldman and Jeff Wieser — will be honored as “First Citizens.” The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce presents the awards on Tuesday, June 13, at a dinner at the Boathouse restaurant.

Waldman is principal of David Adam Realty. Under his leadership, Bedford Square — the former Westport YMCA — has been transformed into a lively retail/restaurant/residential complex.

That’s just the latest achievement in Waldman’s 26-year commercial real estate career.

David Waldman proudly shows off the Flemish brick used in Bedford Square.

A near-native, he arrived here in town age 1. His father — a marketer — moved here because Westport was “the marketing capital of the world.” He built buildings to house his business. He sold the company, kept the buildings, and a real estate firm was born.

David attended Coleytown Elementary and Junior High. He graduated from St. Luke’s and Syracuse University, then returned to Westport in 1991 — just in time for a real estate downturn.

Waldman persevered. His initial project — renovating the Art’s Deli block on Post Road West, including apartments above — provided him with his first understanding of “process, politics and zoning.”

He and his wife Yvette — “the one who grounds me and gets me through life” — have 3 children: Rachel, Jacob and Ava. He calls them “my greatest accomplishments.”

Yet Bedford Square — created in conjunction with several partners — is not too shabby either. By developing adjacent Church Lane and Elm Street, Waldman has “tried to make positive change. We’re taking the town where the world is moving — a little more walkable and connected.”

David Waldman (center), at the opening of Bedford Square.

He calls himself “blessed to live, work and play in the same town. Sometimes that’s difficult. But it’s nice to see people enjoy our work.”

Now he’s turning his attention to nearby Sconset Square, and the former Save the Children site across the river.

“I’m only 47 years old,” Waldman notes. “It’s nice to have public recognition. But at the end of the day, the product on the ground is what I’m proudest of.”

Waldman’s fellow First Citizen honoree Wieser represents the non-profit sector. In 7 years as CEO and president of Homes With Home — Westport’s supportive housing umbrella — he has nearly doubled the number of beds, added new services, and engineered a merger with Project Return (the North Compo residence for teenage girls and young women).

Homes With Hope is believed to be one of only 4 such organizations in a town like Westport in the nation.

Jeff Wieser

This is Wieser’s 2nd career. A New York banker with stints in Australia and Hong Kong, he and his wife Pat moved here in 1985.

Their choice of Westport was happenstance — they just wanted a “commutable suburb” (a town-owned golf course and beaches were added attractions) — but it soon became home.

With 2 young children, the Wiesers quickly met lifelong friends.

Wieser served on the Homes With Hope board for 15 years. He had not thought of working there. But when founder Rev. Peter Powell retired, and several people asked Wieser to step up, he realized that after 30-plus years in banking, he was ready.

His wife said, “This is something you wanted to do all your life.”

She was right. “It’s been a wonderful change,” he says.

Wieser is proud that his organization has been supported so well — and so long — by town officials and private citizens.

Jeff Wieser (Homes With Hope CEO) and a lobster. The event was a “build a sand castle” fundraiser for Homes With Hope.

“Westport cares about our neediest neighbors,” he says. “Homes With Hope is a model for all suburban communities.”

Wieser hopes to keep it growing. “There’s still plenty to do,” he notes. “We’re getting chronic homelessness under control. The much bigger challenge now is affordable housing.”

Waldman and Wieser are not the only 2 Westporters to be honored by the Chamber of Commerce. “Young Entrepreneurs” Aishah Avdiu, Remy Glick, James O’Brien and Phoebe Spears — from Staples and Weston High Schools — will be feted too.

Westporter David Pogue — technology columnist/Emmy-winning TV personality/author/musician/New York Times, CBS News, Scientific American, Yahoo Tech and PBS star — is the keynote speaker.

We can’t all be First Citizens. But it’s clear — and the Chamber of Commerce recognizes — that Westport is blessed with far more than one.

(Tickets for the June 13 dinner are $80 each. Tables of 10 are also available. For more information, click here.)

David Pogue Kicks “NOVA” Into High Gear

In his books and columns, through his videos and with his talks, David Pogue teaches all of us how to navigate the world. He seems to know everything, about everything.

But the tech and life-hack expert — a longtime Westport resident — is worried. He needs a favor from “06880” readers. David writes:

I love the PBS science show “NOVA,” and not just because I’ve served as its host in 16 episodes.

David Pogue hosting "NOVA." He's standing behind a periodic table "table."

David Pogue hosting “NOVA.” He stands behind a periodic table “table.”

For 2 years “NOVA” has been planning a new, educational, entertaining, 2-hour special called “Beyond The Elements,” which I’ll host. The plan is to ask the public to help fund it, through Kickstarter. This is historic: a public TV show seeking help directly from the public!

(Ordinarily, the government provides about 20 percent of public television’s budget. The rest we have to raise from grants, gifts, foundations, and of course “viewers like you.”)

In the middle of gearing up for this quest, current events suddenly overtook us. Both science and public broadcasting are under political attack. Our leaders have expressed a desire to de-fund both.

These trends break my heart. I truly don’t understand the anti-science movement. When it comes to solving the world’s problems — from dropped cellphone calls and stuttering Netflix, all the way up to climate change, feeding the population and fighting epidemics—science is all we got.

My guess is that rapid advances are tapping into something primal in us: fear of the unknown. We no longer understand our world — our car engines, our televisions, our phones, our medical treatments — and it’s terrifying.

That’s what gets me up in the morning (early!) on “NOVA” shoot days. Once someone takes the time to explain these concepts, they won’t seem unfamiliar — and therefore won’t be frightening.

David Pogue searches for the "super battery" on "NOVA."

On “NOVA,” David Pogue searches for the “super battery.”

Which brings me back to our Kickstarter campaign. The new show is a sequel to one I hosted in 2012 (“Hunting the Elements”), which has been watched over 10 million times. It’s become a teaching tool in thousands of public school classrooms (including Staples)!

I know that many Westporters are concerned about the direction of the country. I truly believe that a contribution toward this “NOVA” campaign is a gesture of support for both science and public broadcasting. If we’re successful, it will send a message that we, the people, can take matters into our own hands.

With Kickstarter, we have 30 days to raise the money. If we reach our goal, then we make the show. If we don’t, no money is collected; it’s as though the whole thing never happened.

The donation is partly tax-deductible. It comes with various “rewards,” ranging from a T-shirt to lunch with me (though I’m not sure if that’s a reward or a punishment).

I hope “06880” readers will pitch in to our campaign, or at least watch the pitch video here.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging…

David Pogue Helps Us $ave Money, Basically

David Pogue can’t believe that Westporters still pay to get flat tires repaired. Town Fair and other chains fix flats for free — it generates goodwill.

Westport’s leading tech guru/TV personality/author also is surprised at how few folks know that E-Z Pass offers a carpool rate — a big one. If you’ve got at least 3 people in your car, it costs $6.50 — not $12.50 — each time you drive to or from New York. (You do have to go through a manned gate and say “Carpool.” And you need to sign up in advance.)

Pogue notes too that our new Starbucks — like the other squintillion of them — offers unlimited 50-cent refills of coffee or tea (hot or iced).

Also worth noting: The smallest Starbucks serving is called the Tall. But an even smaller one does not appear on the menu: the Short. It’s less expensive, of course — and perfect for a little zap of something. It even contains the same amount of espresso as a Tall.

David Pogue, thinking of ways to save money.

David Pogue, thinking of ways to save money.

Pogue is astonished that Americans leave money on the table every day. And we do it every time we use cash machines, book flights, buy insurance or shop for clothes.

Because Pogue is such a good guy — as well as a clever person, and excellent writer — he’s sharing 150 tips for saving money. They’re collected in his latest book: Pogue’s Basics: Money.

Here are a few:

  • You can get 5 percent off anything you ever buy on Amazon. Just sign up for the Amazon Prime Store Card, a virtual credit card good only for Amazon shopping. There’s no fee — and no downside.
  • If you have a gift card for a store you’ll never visit, sell it to Cardcash.com or Raise.com. They pay cash for gift cards — maybe 75% of face value.
  • Why rent your cable box for $235 a year? You can buy one for $100.
  • That sticker on your windshield says to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Modern cars require oil changes only every 7500 to 10,000 miles. The manual even says so.

Everyone knows that time is money. But time is limited. Pogue says, “Fortunately, information is money too. If you know certain things, you can get more money without spending time.”

david-pogues-basics-moneyHis Basic Money book saves time and money, handing you 150 secrets all in one place. If you use all 150 of them, he says, you’ll save $61,195 a year!

You’d think Pogue has given away enough. But here’s a special “06880” offer: free autographs.

Our neighbor will personally inscribe any copy of the book. It’s at Barnes & Noble (or you can get 5% off by using the Amazon Prime Store  Card online).

Email pogue@me.com to arrange an autograph session.

Thanks, David! Here’s to a merry — and frugal — holiday for us all!

David Pogue Really Loses It

Most of David Pogue’s Yahoo videos are short.

The tech guru has made a career — one of his many — providing bite-sized information on topics like how to open Windows 10’s secret start menu. They’re little snacks, to help you navigate your tech life.

The other day though, the Westporter posted a full-course meal. It’s 9 minutes long — and fascinating.

The SparkNotes version is that Pogue’s daughter Tia — a Staples High School senior — was deep into the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

One item she needed: Get a child to write a letter to the universe. Then launch the letter into space. Oh yeah: Provide video proof too.

Tia — with a little help from Dad — managed to do it. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was really, really hard — as the video shows.

Tia and David Pogue, in their Yahoo video.

Tia and David Pogue, in a screenshot from their Yahoo video.

But it’s well worth watching, for both the technology and the surprises. Pogue is a gifted storyteller.

There’s even a cameo appearance by Tia’s drone operator. He’s Brandon Malin — a very talented Westporter.

Brandon is also an 8th grader, at Coleytown Middle School.


(To watch the video — and/or read David Pogue’s story — click here.)

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen

When you or I go on a scavenger hunt, we try to find random but normal items: a menu from a local restaurant perhaps, or the signature of someone semi-famous.

When Tia Pogue went scavenging this month, she created a human piano; showed an alien draining our civic infrastructure, and milked a dairy cow (while dressed in semi-formal attire — that’s her in the center below).

And when you and I go scavenger hunting, we play for a few bucks or a bottle of wine. Tia — who graduates next June from Staples High School — competed for a free trip to Iceland.

That’s the difference between your and my scavenger hunt, and the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

The week-long event takes — as you have already figured — a hefty amount of energy, creativity and intelligence. Tia has tons of that.

It’s genetic. Her dad, David Pogue, is the world-renowned newspaper/TV/book tech expert — as well as a Yale music major who spent 10 years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.

In early April, Tia saw a Reddit post soliciting members for a GISHWHES team. The group — Team Raised from Perdition — had finished as a runner-up the year before. Members came from across the US, Canada and Brazil; their professions included sign language interpreter and opera singer. All shared a love for creativity, and making the world a better place.

In addition, the hunt combined art, randomness, philanthropy, challenges and fun — all things Tia loves. She eagerly applied.

She had 3 days to do 3 challenges from past hunts, and make an “About Me” video. She was selected from a pool that included many adults.

The GISHWHES event takes a week. Teams race to complete as many of nearly 200 challenges as they can. Participants submit pictures or videos of their work.

Tia Pogue's team proved that aliens are taking job opportunities away from American.

Tia Pogue’s team proved that aliens are taking jobs away from Americans.

Rules are quirky. For example, most videos must be exactly 14 seconds long. Kale was arbitrarily banned.

Tasks fall into 3 categories:

  • Wacky art projects (recreating photographs out of junk food)
  • Random acts of kindness (planting a community garden or donating blood — a large portion of registration fees go to charity)
  • Asking random people for help (requesting that an art museum temporarily replace a painting worth at least $100,000 with a forgery painted by an 8-year-old).

Tia and her team communicated daily, using an app called Slack. She found everyone warm, accepting, interesting. Teammates grew tighter — virtually — and hope eventually to meet in real life.

With the help of her family, Tia completed 23 items.

Several moments stand out. One was when — after many hours — she finished her junk food version of the famous National Geographic cover with an Afghan refugee:

Tia Pogue National Geographic photo

Other team members created a dress entirely out of corn husks, painted a portrait of a live model while scuba diving, recreated a landmark out of sticks and twigs, held a corporate meeting in a sandbox, and did a variety of charitable acts

Tia learned a few things in the process. One is that she’s happiest when she is creative. This school year, she plans to spend a little time each day doing something crafty.

She also learned that her age is not as big a barrier as it initially seemed. She calls her teammates “friends,” even if some are decades older.

Final results will be released in October. If Tia’s team wins, they’ll finally meet each other.

In Iceland.

Below: Tia Pogue plays a human piano:

(To see Tia’s complete team page, click here. For their spreadsheet, click here. For more information on the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, click here.)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

David Pogue Loses It

David Pogue leads a wonderful life. The Westport-based tech writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American), TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) and author (“Missing Manual” series, “Pogue’s Basics”) has won 3 Emmy awards, 2 Webbys and a Loeb for journalism.

But even Pogue’s life doesn’t always go according to plan. The other day — well, let him describe it for “06880” readers:

I love drones. I love reviewing drones. I love filming drones!

But last week, something really crazy happened. I was reviewing the new $1300 Yuneec Typhoon H, taking it out for a test flight before the Yahoo video crew arrived next day to film my video review.

David Pogue drone

My son Kell (a Staples High School 2015 graduate) and a couple of his buddies stood on our attic balcony, checking it out. I let it hover at their eye level, just so they could see how cool and menacing-looking this hexacopter was. (It has 6 rotors. No, that doesn’t make it a sexcopter.)

From there, I flew it straight up. It hovered over the house, giving me an amazing view (on the remote control’s screen) of the Wakeman athletic fields.

Wakeman athletic fields - Pogue drone

The drone hovered 370 feet up — just shy of its 400-foot, hardwired altitude limit (also the FAA’s maximum allowable height). Then, before my eyes, the drone started drifting away. The controls did not respond!

The screen just said, “Trying to reconnect.” As I watched in disbelief, the drone drifted away over Bayberry, toward Fairfield. I was helpless.

I got on my bike and rode around, looking and looking. I never found it. There’s a $1300 drone in somebody’s bushes somewhere.

Drone flyaways are supposed to be impossible. They’re programmed to return to their takeoff position (in this case, my backyard) if they ever lose their connection to the remote. Somehow, that fail-safe system never kicked in.

A little Googling shows that flyaways do, in fact, happen. (One landed on the White House lawn last year.)

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

The company analyzed my flight logs and concluded that nothing I’d done contributed to the flyaway. But they had no explanation for what caused it.

Nobody’s ever been hurt by a flyaway drone, and companies are working on better sensors, software and electronics to prevent flyaways. But I was really rattled — though not as much as if I’d actually bought this drone. (It was a review unit.)

Friends suggested I tape “LOST DRONE” signs on telephone poles in the neighborhood. I decided, nah. That’s just be too embarrassing.

But if an “06880” reader finds a sleek black drone in their bushes: I’ve still got the remote control. Let’s talk.

There Be Dragons

Everyone knows there’s an airplane hanging from the Westport Library ceiling.

But unless you’ve been there lately, you may not have seen 2 dragons lurking in the Maker Space.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Alert photographer J.P. Vellotti notes they’re not the only dragons there. A few feet away, the WPA mural — rescued from the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — shows another version of the creature.

You can see all those dragons — and more — this Thursday (April 7, 5-6:30 p.m.). A “Geek Party” kicks off a photo campaign showing all the things library users “geek” (are passionate) about.

If you’d like to be photographed by Pam Einarsen showing what you geek about, wear a solid black top — and bring what you geek. You’ll get free digital and print copies.

Can’t make it Thursday? Photo sessions are also scheduled for Saturday (April 9, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Tuesday (April 19, 3-5 p.m.).

And if you geek dragons, that would be very, very cool.

David Pogue is one of Westport's best-known geeks.

David Pogue is one of Westport’s best-known geeks.

Candlelight Kiosks Add To 75th Anniversary Joy

More than a year ago, “06880” posted a request. The Staples High School music department was preparing for its 75th anniversary Candlelight Concert — 13 months away — and needed old programs and recordings for a display. They figured a few might trickle in.

The trickle became a torrent. Audio recordings — records, tapes and CDs — of every concert since that year (except 3) poured in from across the country. So did most printed programs since ’53. (It’s uncertain whether any programs or recordings were made between the very 1st Candlelight in 1940, and 1952.)

Then the fun began.

As anyone who has ever attended a Staples performance knows, the music department does things in a big way. Concertgoers tonight and tomorrow will see a lot more than a simple display.

Staples parent Jeff Hauser spent weeks processing the files. A Brooklyn company digitized the old vinyl LPs. However, they returned only 1 computer file per side. Someone had to hand-split those sides into individual songs — and consult the programs to find out the name of each one.

Staples senior Devon Murray volunteered many hours creating elegantly written software. It allows everyone to click on a particular year, then listen to whatever they want. He’ll be in the lobby, standing near laptops to help anyone (from the Class of 1953?)  who needs help.

In 1979, the annual concert was already 39 years old. Some of those performers -- now with their own children out of college -- will return this weekend.

In 1979, the annual concert was already 39 years old. Some of those performers — now with their own children out of college — will return this weekend.

Staples parent David Pogue took time off from his PBS Nova/CBS Sunday Morning/Yahoo tech jobs to cut apart songs from some of the 1950s concerts. He also loaned the laptops and headphones for the kiosks.

Pogue had fun watching Candlelight evolve. He says, for example, “what we consider a lovely soloist has changed a lot over the years. In the ’50s they were usually given to girls with light, warbly voices, with very fast, fluttery vibratos.”

Pogue also noticed changes to the printed programs. In the 1960s each program says at the top: “Please do not applaud during the program, since the entire concert is being recorded.”

These days, he notes, the show is recorded ahead of time, “without any pesky audience members to ruin the effect.”

The front of the 1962 Candlelight program.

The front of the 1962 Candlelight program.

The audio and program displays are two more added attractions to this weekend’s very special 75th anniversary concert. But if you don’t have tickets, don’t bother going. They were sold out weeks ago.

On the other hand — as noted before, Staples’ music department does things in a very big way. Tomorrow’s (Saturday, December 19, 8 p.m.) performance is being aired live on WWPT-FM (90.3), and broadcast live on Cablevision Channel 78.

If you don’t live within range of radio or TV — no prob! Just click here for a livestream.

You can enjoy Candlelight anywhere in the world. All you’ll miss is the kiosk.