Apple Computer still on fire; my memories

My history with Apple Computer is a lengthy one – both in my work and play.

I first wrote about Apple as a reporter at The Chronicle in 1983, just after I joined the paper.

Reporter Gayle Schares and I broke some stories about how John Sculley had orchestrated an ouster of Steve Jobs from the computer startup he had founded.

It was tragic: how the board turned against its founder for a soda pop salesman. (I can’t provide links, because it was before The Chronicle had an Internet database; stories were clipped by hand in the library and stored in envelopes with each reporter’s name on it).

I wrote about Apple for many years at The Chronicle, including how a guy named Gil Amelio was hired to supposedly rescue Apple. As it turned out, Amelio almost ruined the computer maker (though he did land a McMansion on the shores of Lake Tahoe, and it sold for a record price at the time).

Then, when I joined CNET, we broke the news late at night about how Jobs sold his Next Computer to Apple, clearing the way for his comeback. It was a pioneering effort of original reporting on the Internet, later taken for granted – and now a fading memory in the era of “big oven,” AKA, cost-cutting journalism.

I laugh when I hear print staffs complain about posting Web “briefs,” compared to the multi-story (and award-winning) packages we produced then. We won a National Magazine Award at CNET, something reserved for the likes of Time and the New Yorker. The awards ceremony is held at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan.

At CNET, I helped orchestrate a journalism triumph when it comes to Apple: persuading Jobs to meet with the staff for a two-hour tete a tete on Apple’s future plans. Turned out, he nailed the plan: expanding beyond the computer into iPods and iPhones.

Along the way, I’ve become an Apple fan. In 2000 we bought our first Mac – a G4 tower – and we’re now big Mac fans.

This week, I upgraded to an iMac with twice the power for one quarter of the price – a testament to the power of computing. We still own a PC, though, for the Word and Excel programs (though you can buy them for a Mac).

Our family also bought some stock in Apple along the way – *after* we moved here and I stopped covering it. My investing philosophy: If you like the product *and* understand it, invest in it. (I’m not a big fan of McDonalds, though I guess the stock has done OK.)

Apple has been a “win-win-win” for our family: in my career, in the product and later, as stockholders.

Steve Jobs is sick now, and we are hoping for a recovery. (A cancer such as his is tough to beat).

We talk a lot about jump-starting our economy, but it’s people such as Steve Jobs, not a government-led “economic stimulus” package, that make it happen.

I’ve followed California’s history for my lifetime, and Apple Computer takes up many chapters.

Nevada City gets first vet clinic w/coupon

Tooling around my hometown on Wednesday afternoon, I noticed that Nevada City’s first veterinary clinic has just opened its doors.

Pine Creek Veterinary Clinic moved from the Pine(less) Creek Shopping Center in Grass Valley to 128 New Mohawk Road in Nevada City. (It’s just down the road from the Railroad Museum – a favorite local landmark.)

Though the move had been hoped for, it was not a done deal. The move had been threated by challenges such as the ongoing recession and permitting, the vets told me earlier this year.

“Dr. Ron Rosner and Dr. Denny Nolet are pleased to announce the relocation,” reads a postcard being handed out in their new offices.

And here’s a recession buster: The card is good for $20 off you dog or cat’s first visit to the new location. The offer expires at the end of May.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. The phone is (530) 478-9141.

Welcome Pine Creek Vet Clinic, where your office is now *surrounded* by pine trees and near a creek.

What local leaders own Emgold stock?

I’m increasingly wondering how many of our community leaders who support reopening the Idaho-Maryland mine – government, civic or major business advocates – own stock in parent company Emgold?

They obviously would personally benefit if the mine were to win approval to reopen.

As a journalist, I certainly would disclose that. (Most news organizations *require* that if you write about them). Others should too, no matter what their occupation.

Likewise, I suppose, I’d like to hear from mine opponents who are “shorting” the stock – that is, betting it will go down. (A less likely group of people, but who knows?)

I raise this because I’ve been *astounded* at the “conflicts of interest” that routinely go on around here but are not fully disclosed – something I’ve written about before. Living in a “small town” is not an excuse.

Raising the bar on professionalism is a big step toward attracting more professionals to our area.

BTW, I don’t own any Emgold shares. I’m also still on the fence about reopening the mine. It’s much too early in the process to take sides.

Put on a wedding ring at 30,000 feet

Richard Branson and a friend
Richard Branson and a friend
You’ve heard of the “mile high club.”

But Virgin Atlantic Airways has a twist: air weddings. As a business, I’ve always admired Virgin and founder Richard Branson (whom I’ve interviewed half a dozen times) for getting “out of the box” in a “me-too” industry such as airlines. Others in autos and old media could learn from him.

Here’s the email sent on April Fools’ Day:

“We are proud to announce a once in a lifetime opportunity – air weddings.

“Take over our Clubhouses for your bachelor and bachelorette parties, then take off with up to 300 guests for your wedding in the sky, complete with pilot officiator and air hostess bridesmaids.

“Enjoy a champagne reception (with real champagne flutes), followed by a three course meal and speeches through the headphones.

“It’s all the excitement of a wedding, elopement and honeymoon rolled into one, with your friends and family along for the ride. Now all you need to do is say ‘I do’.”

Sound cool? If you click on the email, it reads, “GULLIBLE ISN’T WRITTEN ON THE CEILING,

“And unfortunately, we can’t help you tie the knot on board – at least not yet!

“That was just our little April Fools’ joke to jump-start your month – did we get you? Forward the email onto your friends and see if you can catch them out as well!”

90-foot antenna ‘tree’ is 70 feet from GV homes

Ah, “progress.” In this case, a teleco is proposing to build a 90-foot fake pine tree, AKA communications tower — just 70 feet from an apartment building in Grass Valley. Four antennas also will be poking out toward the top, all towering over the neighborhood.

This proposed “plant a metal tree” project — part of a growing, controversial trend — is at 531 South Auburn Street in Grass Valley, near East Empire Street. The apartment building is 70 feet to the east.

“The project includes artificial needles, branches and bark on the mono-pole to create a conifer tree appearance, similar to conifer trees in the immediate area,” according to a city legal notice.

Of course. An environmental report shows “no significant environmental impact,” according to the city. The project is occurring in a “communications compound” in the neighborhood.

Let’s see what the neighbors think. A 30-day comment period starts in April.

”This thing is just a horror,” a suburban New York resident told The New York Times when a cell-phone tower looking like a tree was installed in his neighborhood. He referred to it as ”our monstrosity.”

Tourism could suffer from ban on stocking trout

The weather is warming up and trout fishing season is just around the corner in the Sierra and Sierra foothills.

But a court order stemming from a 2006 lawsuit will prevent fish from being stocked in many lakes and rivers, including Scotts Flat, Bowman Reservoir, Spaulding Reservoir, Rollins Reservoir, Donner Lake, the North Fork of the Yuba and the Truckee River, among other places, my research shows.

These are among the area’s most popular fishing holes that are subjected to the no-fish stocking lockdown.

It could hurt the summer tourism business, too, because many people come here to fish. Fishing is much slower when the fish aren’t stocked regularly. Just what we need on top of a deep recession.

The ban on stocking fish in many lakes and rivers — a common practice — stems from a November court order on a 2006 lawsuit.

A group called Pacific Rivers Council sued Fish and Game over stocking programs, arguing no environmental impact report had occurred for the programs. A superior court judge ordered the agency to complete a report, which won’t be finished until January 2010.

Meanwhile, planting of trout is not permitted in many places. Here’s the full list of lakes and rivers where fish will be stocked and where they will not: list.

My son and I noticed that a few of our favorite spots will still be stocked, so I’ll take him there. You can always catch the other fish that aren’t planted this year, too — and they’ll be even bigger!

Tahoe papers to launch weekend e-edition

The Sierra Sun in Truckee, Tahoe Daily Tribune in South Tahoe and Bonanza in Incline Village all will launch a weekend e-edition this spring that is mobile-friendly, shifting more effort online.

The e-newsletters called iSun, iBonanza and iTrib will contain coverage of weekend news and events.

“E-mails will go out on Mondays giving residents and visitors a recap of weekend news and events, slideshows, photo galleries, videos, multimedia features and a recap of weekend sports,” according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

As for Truckee’s Sierra Sun, the free tabloid publication has cut its print circulation back to only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday since January, down from five days a week last year, to cut costs.

No mention was made whether any further cuts would be made in print circulation to the Tahoe papers. For years, larger newspapers have launched e-editions with mobile features. Online-only publications, such as CNET, depended greatly on them.

The Tahoe papers are sister papers of The Union. All are owned by Reno-based Swift Communications, a closely held family business.

Sales of second homes have tumbled 30 percent last year, according to the AP. Many of Swift’s markets are in communities dominated by second homeowners, such as Tahoe and Vail.

My habits are to read the Sierra Sun’s e-edition when I’m not in the Tahoe area. But in the summer, the busiest time of year, I like to crack a hard-copy by the lake or a restaurant – not read it online.

I also miss the weekly Tahoe World, which provided more “hyper-local” news for Tahoe City. For long-timers, Truckee and Tahoe are different markets. I hear a lot of the same concerns from full-time residents too.

Either way, the papers are going to have to beef up their local news coverage of government meetings, including the school districts, water boards, TRPA, etc. – something that has suffered in the recent cutbacks.

Some major “hard news” issues have fallen through the cracks, too, such as the ongoing water and sewer problems in neighborhoods around the lake.

When it comes to entertainment and calendar items, a weekly print publication called “The Weekly” also provides another choice for readers. It also has a Web site.