Steve's Blog

Rosie and Me

published on June 30th, 2008 . by Steve Greenberg

Rosie and meRosie and I swap books— at Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL

Summer/Pool/Waterproof Stuff

published on June 27th, 2008 . by Steve Greenberg

Check these out:

Digital Camera Swim Mask  ($100) www.Hammacher.comIt’s the worlds first and only swim mask with a built in digital camera—let’s you keep your hands free while swimming.  5-megapixel camera can operate in a depth of 15 feet.  When out of the pool plug mask into USB port of your computer to download images. 2 AAA batteries.  Comes with 16MB but it is expandable Reware’s Juice Bag Solar Beach Bag ($250) www.rewarestore.comPerfect to charge your phone, iPod or other handheld device in about the same amount of time as if charged into a wall socket at home using ONLY SOLAR POWER…no battery needed  Vibram FiveFingers® KSO patented glove-styled footwear Classic: $70, Sprint: $80, KSO: $80, Flow: $90  www.vibramfivefingers.comThe KSO (Keep Stuff Out)  features a full breathable stretch mesh upper and a higher topline collar to  keep out dirt and debris, it also features a unique single strap hook and loop closure for a secure comfortable fit.    SolarSafe is a UV monitored wristband that warn the user when they should reapply sunscreen.( 7 strips for $6.50 ) www.sunprotectionzone.com  Aquavee  ($90) is designed to get in you in the pool, cooling off and burning those calories at the same time.  Designed by an ex-competitive swimmer, the clever little product is used by trainers, tri-athletes and fitness coaches as part of their fitness routines, as well as thousands of pool owners who have suddenly rekindled their love for the backyard pool. www.aquaveeonline.com  Hercules I-XPS-120 ($130)  The 1st speaker system with certified resistance to water and dust and under Made for iPod® license.  The perfect portable iPod® speaker companion for outdoors. Your iPod® will always be safe closeted within the splash and particle resistant protective compartment. www.hercules.com  BoomBucket iPod Dock & Speaker System ($150) www.Brookstone.com  It docks, charges and plays all docking iPod models, including iPod touch.  Waterproof casing protects iPod from elements and splashing around the pool Molla Space’s TearDrop iPod Speaker ($60) www.mollaspace.com  H2O Audio’s iSH2 Waterproof Headset ($80) is an integrated waterproof housing and headset for the iPod shuffle  that works up to 10 feet under water.  www.h2oaudio.com Axiom Audio’s  Weatherproof, Outdoor  Algonquin  Speaker ($330)  is a must-have for  cookouts, working in the  yard or relaxing  by the  pool. www.axiomaudio.com  Misty Mate ($40) www.mistymate.com  battery free cooling system Aqua Reader ($40) http://olympichottub.store.yahoo.net/aquareader.htmlRead your favorite book/magazine while in the pool or hot tub. Remote Controlled Floating Serving Tray ($50) www.Hammacher.comPerfect for chips 12-oz cans of your favorite beverage Personal UV Monitor with Exposure Timer (under $25) http://www2.oregonscientific.com/shop/product.asp?cid=2&scid=5&pid=644 

Panasonic’s SDR-SW20 compact SD camcorder ($400) is built tough so you can shoot in places never before possible. Take it underwater as deep as 5 feet1 for great video in the pool or ocean. Waterproofing also means you can shoot in the rain or snow with no worries. www.panasonic.com 

Gadget Nation showcased in The Miami Herald

published on June 24th, 2008 . by Steve Greenberg

In case you didn’t see it, The Miami Herald did a big article on GADGET NATION.  The reporter, James Burnett, did a terrific job telling my story.  The Herald also had me do a video for their website–you can check it out at:

http://video.ap.org/v/Legacy.aspx?partner=en-ap&g=b7dbef07-3514-4dd4-b7d1-539fe6eb8fd7&f=FLMIH&mk=en-ap&f=flmih

AND if you missed the article–here it is:

For ‘Gadget Guy,’ inventions are life’s necessities

Posted on Mon, Jun. 23, 2008

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Steve Greenberg is a veteran TV reporter and producer who carved a niche in telling stories about inventive, creative people.

DONNA E. NATALE PLANAS / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Steve Greenberg is a veteran TV reporter and producer who carved a niche in telling stories about inventive, creative people.

» More Photos

At first glance, Steve Greenberg’s Brickell apartment looks like a testing ground for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

There are no magical candies, but make a quick 360 degree spin and you’ll see all sorts of fantastical knickknacks, like the alarm clock with wheels on it that forces you to chase it in order to turn it off.

Greenberg, a veteran Miami-based television reporter, producer and documentary filmmaker, is known in his field as ”The Gadget Guy,” because he combs the United States looking for America’s most inventive people. Some of what you’ll find in his apartment is the fruits of those inventors’ labor.

It’s a fun gig, sure. But Greenberg’s friends say if not for his own meandering path through life and the multifaceted skill set he picked up along the way, he might never have come across the folks who fill the pages of his new book, Gadget Nation: A Journey Through the Eccentric World of Invention (Sterling, $19.95).

”My fascination with inventive people goes back to childhood,” Greenberg, who has written stories on gadgets for The Miami Herald, said in an interview recently at his Brickell home/office.

FATHERS OF INVENTION

“I come from a family of patent-filers. Seriously, my dad was very handy. My mom used to joke that if you stand still too long he’ll turn you into a lamp. It seemed like everyone in my family was always filing for patents for things they’d invented — a new lamp, a new type of shelf, or a new type of fixture to hold up that shelf.”

The opening pages of Gadget Nation show a few of Lazarus Greenberg’s sketches for a roof top vent pipe cover and washing machine lint catcher, among other things.

Where other kids’ families in Fairlawn, N.J., gathered around the television after dinner to watch Ed Sullivan, the Greenbergs would talk inventions.

Greenberg recalls his first nonfamilial brush with inventiveness, when his fourth-grade class took a field trip to Menlow Park, N.J., to visit Thomas Edison’s historic home and museum.

TWICE BITTEN, NOT SHY

”It’s funny, at that point I really wasn’t certain what I wanted to do with my life,” Greenberg said. “I was a biology and English major. I was thinking maybe pre-med, but I just wasn’t sure. And then I took a spacial relations test — not something I was aware I had in terms of special or natural knowledge. But I scored so highly on the test that I was offered scholarships to attend dental school at Northwestern University in Chicago.”

Greenberg accepted the scholarships and, after graduating from dental school in the early 1980s, headed home to New Jersey and began practicing at a clinic near his home town.

But after one particularly busy day of pulling and patching teeth, Greenberg saw an ad placed by a cable TV company in his local newspaper, offering $250,000 to anyone who came up with a solid proposal to open and operate a cable access TV station.

The ad invited all comers to show up at a public library the following Tuesday night for more details.

And Greenberg bit.

‘I was in my late 20s and I thought, `Why not?’ ” he said. “In those days cable TV was a relatively new thing. It was a strange mix of people who showed up too — retirees, blue collar people, white collar professionals.”

Within days Greenberg had put away his tooth tools and formed a team with several other locals who shared his vision for a TV station. Their proposal won.

”It was wild. I learned TV from the ground up, no classes, no lessons,” he said. “We set up a small studio and then set up drops (remote reporting sites) at City Hall, at the public library, and several other locations around town. And we did sort of a current events thing. . . It worked.”

From a distance, the cable company that sponsored the station watched Greenberg’s enterprise develop and eventually offered him a job hosting a public affairs show.

”I realized then I was bitten by the bug,” Greenberg said, and that hosting job led to TV reporting gigs in Secaucus, N.J., Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and eventually WFOR-CBS-4 in Miami.

After 15 years of reporting, Greenberg grew restless and took another career left turn.

”I began hosting and producing shows on Discovery, The Learning Channel, and other networks,” he said. “I did segments for America’s Most Wanted, Roker on the Road, Dream Builders, and traveled all over the country finding creative and unique home construction. I did Your New House. And for Discovery, right here from my home in Miami, I produced a short segment called Check this Out, in which I featured a review of some new construction or decorating tip — always something creative and inventive.”

Cindy Wallach, a TV producer and friend of Greenberg’s said he was destined to hone in on creative people.

”It sounds so generic, but it really is his work ethic that gives it away,” Wallach said. “In finding and producing a story, he does a little bit of everything — promotion, research, interviews. You name it. And he’s always excited about it. Every season we worked together, easily half the ideas I pitched to the television networks were ones Steve came up with.”

Joel Kaplan, a Pembroke Pines photographer who has partnered with Greenberg on his freelance work, said he first saw Greenberg’s inventive side when the two of them were producing educational children’s TV shows.

”We did Gators, Crocs, and Other Yucky Swamp Creatures,” Kaplan said. “I’ll never forget how, without a script, in order to get the kids on the set and in the audience excited about the show, Steve played the animal roles. He climbed a tree and acted like a monkey. He growled and made all the sounds. It was off the cuff. The kids loved it.”

The more innovative he got and the more creative people he met, though, the more Greenberg wanted to focus on their stories.

So he began collecting those stories and built a list of several hundred inventive people, some more successful than others, but all proud of what they had created.

There was Grandpa Witmer’s Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer Crank, a contraption that looks like a regular jar of peanut butter, but whose lid contains a handle that cranks a peanut grinder inside the jar. And the bird diaper. And the ash hole, a portable ash tray shaped like a bottle with a wide brim, that swallows cigarette ashes and prevents them from blowing around.

By this time last year, Greenberg had the makings of Gadget Nation, 100 of the best inventor stories he’d found.

THE AMERICAN DREAM

”One of the things I liked about my book is it’s very optimistic,” he said. “You have to believe in this world and this economy in order to convince yourself to take a chance. Lots of these people have cashed in 401(k)s, are using college funds, etc.

“Not all of them have been financially successful. But the American dream is about entrepreneurship and reaching for that brass ring. You have a smart idea in this country, you can do it. Think about it. If you’re the person who comes up with the next Wite-Out or Post-It notes, you change your life forever.”

Greenberg won’t cite a favorite invention, but among his most memorable are the E-Z Lift Turkey Transport, a Z-shaped device with a handle that allows you to skewer a full-sized cooked turkey and carry it that way, so as not to risk dropping a hot pan full of hot bird and grease.

He’s also a fan of the Repillable Card, a credit card-sized piece of plastic, with a raised, hollow top that allows you to carry medicines in your wallet.

The craziest invention in the book might be the Nipple Enhancers, which are probably self explanatory. The ”enhancers” became a big hit several years ago, when Sex in the City featured them in an episode.

These days Greenberg is busy promoting Gadget Nation, sifting through the dozen or so e-mails a day he gets from hopeful inventors, and traveling to produce a gadget and invention show he hosts in five American cities.

”The next great mouse trap is out there,” he said. “And when it’s discovered, I want to be there.”

Don’t Rain On My PARADE !!!

published on June 12th, 2008 . by Steve Greenberg

An amazing two weeks—last week I did 5 TV appearances (NYC, Philly, Wash DC, ABC Ahead of the Curve, Miami) and two book signings promoting the book–this week it will be 3 TV appearances (two in Chicago and another one in Miami) and a few radios.  In the middle of all of this flying around–PARADE magazine put out their “Best Reads for Dad.”  At the top of the list–GADGET NATION

Very exciting–but even more than that was watching the impact on Gadget Nation’s sales ranking.  When the book was launched it was ranked something like # 300,000+  After selling a few copies it jumped to 100,000– then over the next few weeks it moved between 34,000 and 14,000 (keep in Barbara Walters has been sitting at #1).  Anyway, after these TV appearances AND PARADE–I jumped to 94, then 66, then 44 !!!!

It was like watching a horse race—what a thrill

Now before you think (or I give the impression) that I’ve sold millions of books–stop–this is just a ranking for the number of books sold that day–so if people took a break from buying Barbara Walters book and maybe a hundred or so bought mine—that would explain the jump–BUT honestly it really isn’t about how many books sold, just breaking the top 100 books sold for even just this week–is VERY COOL for this author.

Thanks Parade Magazine–I now appreciate your power–and will be a fan from now on.

Oh yes–just one more thing I want to add:  REMEMBER GADGET NATION MAKES A GREAT FATHER’S DAY GIFT!!!!  (under $20)