<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Tue, 30 Jun 2015 23:34:46 -0700 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 23:34:46 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Attack of the Leap Second: Sites Crash Tuesday]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:44:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/amazon-453056767.jpg

Blame the leap second.

Several major sites went down around around after the scheduled leap second on Tuesday evening, including Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix and Amazon.com.

Those sites all rely on Amazon Web Services for their Internet infrastructure. AWS, which powers several other major sites and social media platforms, suffered a connectivity issue between 8:25 p.m. to 9:07 p.m. ET (5:25 p.m. and 6:07 p.m. PT).

The culprit: "We have seen with these reported issues that this has been caused by a leap second bug within the instance operating system," AWS said.

Call it the new Y2K bug — except this one actually did some damage.

"We experienced an Internet connectivity issue with a provider outside of our network," Amazon Web Services said in an announcement on its Service Health Dashboard. "The issue has been resolved and the service is operating normally."

Several other sites were crippled around the same time. Apple's newly launched music streaming service, Beats 1, apparently suffered an outage for nearly 40 minutes, as did task management sites like Asana, Slack and SocialFlow. It wasn't immediately obvious what caused those outages, although a similar "leap second" problem may have been the cause as well.

The leap second, as it's known, is a minute adjustment for the tiny inconsistencies in the length of a day.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Releases New Music Streaming Service]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:38:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-476371856.jpg

Apple's new music streaming service is finally here: Apple Music.

In an attempt to compete with Spotify, Tidal, Rhapsody, Rdio and other streaming-music services, Apple Music combines downloaded music, streaming tunes, radio and some social elements.

“Apple Music is really going to move the needle for fans and artists,” said record producer and Beats by Dre co-founder, Jimmy Iovine in the company's press release. “Online music has become a complicated mess of apps, services and websites. Apple Music brings the best features together for an experience every music lover will appreciate.”

The new services takes songs from the users' own library in addition to a catalog of 30 millions songs available to stream. The 24-hour radio station, Beats 1, is Apple's first live radio station "dedicated entirely to music and music culture," according to the press release. Apple Music Connect will allow artists to share lyrics, backstage photos, videos and song releases directly to fans' iPhones. 

Starting June 30, users are able to use the service for three months before being charged $9.99 per month—a comparable price to other monthly streaming-music applications. For $14.99 per month, up to six family members can use one membership as part of Apple's family plan. 

“We love music, and the new Apple Music service puts an incredible experience at every fan’s fingertips,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “All the ways people love enjoying music come together in one app — a revolutionary streaming service, live worldwide radio and an exciting way for fans to connect with artists.”

<![CDATA[Facebook Lets Users Show Their Pride with Rainbow Filter]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:56:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-4786255681.jpg

Facebook is now offering a rainbow filter that anyone can overlay on his or her profile picture, following Friday’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

The site’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg applied the filter to his own picture and posted a graphic showing two maps, one from 2008 and one from 2015, that showed the huge increase in membership in LGBT Facebook groups.

“I’m so happy for all of my friends and everyone in our community who can finally celebrate their love and be recogized as equal couples under the law,” Zuckerberg said.

In addition, the Facebook Stories page posted a video profiling Justin Kamimoto, who “started a Facebook group to support LGBT+ youth in California’s Central Valley.”

Six million people in the United States identify as LGBTQ on the site, according to Facebook. The company was one of 379 corporations and employer organizations that urged the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, in a friend-of-the-court brief.

In February 2014, Facebook expanded users’ ability to self-identify with the gender of their choice, adding 56 options to the original “male” and “female” categories.

But Facebook wasn’t the only social media site pumping up the pride on Friday. Twitter, which also supported the ruling, also got in on the celebration, offering two new emojis, #Pride, a rainbow flag, and #LoveWins, a rainbow-flag heart.

Many companies updated their social media to reflect support for the court’s decision, in addition to Facebook and Twitter. Even The Weather Channel got in on the act, tweeting, of course, a rainbow.

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<![CDATA[The Future Has Arrived: Hoverbike in the Works]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:15:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hoverbike1.jpg

A UK aeronautics company that once used Kickstarter to raise funds has a real hoverbike in the works. A prototype for the vehicle is moving forward with the help of the an American engineering company and the U.S. Department of Defense.

According to Reuters, Malloy Aeronautics is collaborating with Maryland-based engineering firm SURVICE and the DoD to create manned hoverbikes for the U.S. Army. Malloy's marketing director said hoverbikes will provide safer and more agile and cost-effective alternatives to helicopters. Developers said the vehicle could be used in emergency response tasks including search and rescue operations.

At the Paris Airshow, directors from both Malloy and SURVICE along with Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announced the opening of a Hoverbike office in the Harford County, Maryland for the U.S. Army, Reuters reported. 

The hoverbike isn't the only hover prototype floating around. Toyota's Lexus division charmed the Internet with a promotional teaser on YouTube. The video shows a sleak skateboard-like device much like the one seen in 'Back to the Future.' Other hoverboard prototypes have been in the works for in recent years.

Photo Credit: Malloy Aeronautics
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<![CDATA[Apple Responds to Taylor Swift's Open Letter]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 06:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-476492963.jpg

Apple says it's bowing to concerns raised by pop superstar Taylor Swift. The giant tech company now plans to pay royalties to artists and record labels during a free, three-month trial of its new streaming music service.

Swift criticized the company in an open letter on Sunday, saying it wasn't fair that artists and labels wouldn't be paid directly for the use of their music during the trial period.

Writing on her Tumblr page in a posting titled "To Apple, Love Taylor," Swift said she would withhold her 2014 album "1989" from Apple Music, which launches June 30. The pop star called Apple's plan not to compensate artists, writers or producers during the three-month trial "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company."

Eddie Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, responded to Swift late Sunday night in a series of tweets announcing the policy change.

Swift said she was speaking up for the music community at large, not for her own personal gain. Three months, she said, "is a long time to go unpaid." Last November, Swift also pulled "1989" off Spotify.

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<![CDATA[Newt Gingrich Takes on New Job: Tech Reviewer]]> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 08:38:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gingrich14.jpg

Newt Gingrich's long resume just got longer.The former presidential candidate, House speaker and political consultant is now also a tech reviewer for Mashable.

His first post, a review of the Apple Watch, hit the site today, saying while there are some hiccups with the wearable gadget, it's a step in the right direction and fun for many people.

"At the moment, the Apple Watch seems best suited for busy people who need quick access to information on the go, those who want access to their schedules at a glance and anyone who likes being an early adopter of the newest technology," he wrote. "In many ways, the Apple Watch is like a beta product, but one promising a new direction, much like the first BlackBerrys and first iPhones." 

The idea to have him write for the site arose on Twitter two years ago, after Gingrich tweeted about virtual cars. A then-Mashable employee tweeted back, saying he wished the Republican would review the car for the site. 


While that review never happened, the prolific writer and technology fan later gave the site another reason to ask. In May 2015, he wrote a post for his own website about the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. Mashable again took to Twitter to hint at the idea of him writing for the site.

With an excited response from Gingrich, a plan was set: he would be reviewing the Apple Watch. The 1,000-plus word review, which covered use of the watch during a cross-country flight and managing a busy schedule, got more than 1,000 shares within hours of hitting the Web. And the cub Mashable reporter seemed to be enjoying the job, too. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ladies Take the Lead at E3]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:39:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Girl+Gamers1.JPG

The Electronic Entertainment Expo this week in downtown Los Angeles is expected to attract 48,000 attendees, including a never-before-seen volume of female video gamers and creators.

Both gamers and gaming businesses, along with their strong female leadership, featured new video game releases Tuesday morning. Presentations like XBox were led by woman leaders and executives.

"Women over 40 are faster growing demographic, more than boys under 20," said Rich Taylor, Vice President E3. "The average gamer is 35... So parents are gamers."

The once male heavy industry is quickly shifting gears as its consumers continue to change demographically.
Erica Hampson, a game developer from Virgini, said that she loves video games and female representation within them.

"Sometimes, girls feel as if video games aren't meant for them," Hampson said. "Games used to be very sexualized but it's been getting a lot better."

Hampson stressed that she focuses on including more female roles within games.

Gamer fan Emily Morrison was always made fun of for her male dominated pass time. But now in 2015, the virtual world has gained more female users than ever before. With a little under half of the gamer population made up of women, the game industry has shifted its products and tailored them to show more female leads, less gender stereotyping and sexualization.

Recent changes can be attributed to the 30 percent of female game designers in America.

<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Gives $5M to Scholarship]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 16:59:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mark-zuckerberg.jpg

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are giving $5 million to a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students. 

The Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan announced their donation to TheDream.Us in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"America was founded as a nation of immigrants. We ought to welcome smart and hardworking young people from every nation, and to help everyone in our society achieve their full potential," he wrote. "If we help more young immigrants climb the ladder to new opportunities, then our country will make greater progress."

Zuckerberg is among Silicon Valley's most philanthropic people. In 2013, the Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $1 billion, according to reports.

He came out as an advocate for immigration reform in 2013 when he spoke publicly for the first time on the issue.

"Someone did a study and it showed half of tech companies are founded by immigrants," he said. "These are issues that don’t just touch our industry, but really touch the whole country."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Thousands Pack Electronic Entertainment Expo]]> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 19:16:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/The_Largest_Gaming_Event_in_the_World-_Electronic_Entertainment_Expo_1200x675_465739331729.jpg Female gamers turned out by the thousands at the Electronic Entertainment Expo - E3. Women over the age of 40 are one of the fastest growing demographic of gamers, E3 officials say. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[TIPS: Take Better Vacation Pix on your Smartphone]]> Mon, 15 Jun 2015 09:44:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smartphone-better-pxi.jpg More than 10 billion photos are taken each month. 6 billion of those are with smartphones. Accessories and apps can make the photo taking experience that much greater.]]> <![CDATA[Can A Company Own the Word “Book?”]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 16:36:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Facebook-Logo1.jpg

Vermont’s governor has waded into a dispute between a small technology company in his state and the social media giant Facebook.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, sent a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, asking Facebook to back off its objections over a trademark application from Designbook.

“I hope that he'll listen,” Shumlin said Wednesday. “How is it fair to claim you own the word ‘book?’”

Designbook, a Burlington startup, provides an online platform for entrepreneurs to describe their infant business, as they seek professional feedback, collaborators, and maybe even investors.

“That is not what Facebook does,” said Aaron Pollak, one of Designbook's founders.

Pollak, an engineer who has used what is known as a “design book” to jot down ideas or sketches for projects, said he received legal notice that Facebook objects to his company’s use of the suffix “book” in its name.

Facebook, as it has done in other cases involving the words “book” or “face” linked to technology or social media ventures, argued since both brands operate in the digital space, a consumer could get confused about whether the two are linked.

The Designbook team will have to spell out its differences from Facebook in legal filings if it's to pursue that trademark.

“The two businesses are completely divergent,” Pollak said. “It looks to be a relatively expensive process, and something we really shouldn't be focusing on. We should be focusing on materializing our business and supporting other entrepreneurs, not fighting frivolous battles.”

Attorney Jared Carter with the Vermont Community Law Center said it is the nature of trademarks to see holders aggressively seek to protect them.

“It's quite common,” Carter observed. “If Facebook or Nike, or some other major company, doesn't police—vigorously—its trademark, then there's a chance they can lose it.”

One high-profile example of a large company protecting its trademark came in 2013, when Vermont-based ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's successfully halted the release of X-rated movies that used ice cream-themed titles and logos on the porn packages that were very close to the dessert brand’s.

Carter said the filings back and forth between Facebook and Designbook could be a lengthy process, and could result in either some sort of agreement between the brands, or in litigation.

Shumlin said he hopes the tech firm will have a result similar to another small Vermont company, Eat More Kale. In 2011, the sandwich sellers at Chick-fil-A said the t-shirt slogan was too close to its “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, which saw cows urging quick-serve restaurant customers to choose chicken over beef.

Eat More Kale eventually prevailed over Chick-fil-A, which failed to prove any risk to its brand through customer confusion or other factors.

“Designbook is a good company,” Shumlin said. “Let’s not underestimate the imagination of the American people.”

Here is the complete text of the letter Shumlin sent to Mark Zuckerberg, which Shumlin’s office provided to news outlets including necn:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I was very concerned to read about Facebook’s unnecessary bullying of a Vermont startup called Designbook. The Vermonters behind this company are the type of people that make me proud to be this state’s Governor. They are young, entrepreneurial, and innovative. Given your background, I am sure you can relate.

The last thing these Vermonters deserve is for a giant corporation to threaten them unnecessarily. We don’t stand for that type of injustice in Vermont. Just ask Chick-fil-A.

I’m sure that the enormous growth and worldwide success of Facebook insulates you from many of the decisions made within the organization. I sincerely hope that is the case here. And I hope you will step in to take action to right this wrong.

Peter Shumlin
Governor of Vermont

A Facebook spokesperson told necn that Facebook is aware of Gov. Shumlin’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg, but declined comment on the letter itself, or on the disagreement between Facebook and Designbook.

Nathaniel White-Joyal, a Designbook employee, said he and his six co-workers greatly appreciate Shumlin’s support. “We’re excited to have the governor on our side on this one,” White-Joyal told necn. “We want the same thing he does: to help make Burlington and the Burlington area the center for entrepreneurship for the state.”

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Sandberg Pens Tribute to Husband]]> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 11:42:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sandberg-GettyImages-173218730.jpg

Facebook COO and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg penned a loving Facebook tribute Wednesday to her late husband, Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Goldberg, 30 days after he died after collapsing on a treadmill at a Mexican resort.

She began her post with a reference to their Jewish faith, and the fact that the sheloshim period, or monthlong bereavement, completes the “religious mourning for a spouse.”

"I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser," she wrote.

In two hours, the post had garnered nearly 60,000 likes, including ones from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his sister Randi Zuckerberg, and more than 17,000 shares.

Religion was important to Goldberg. The day he was buried, Sandberg had posted that it was her husband of 11 years who took her to temple for the Jewish holidays.

In her tribute Wednesday, Sandberg described spending moments “lost in the void” over the last 30 days and wrote that “many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.” But she hopes it won’t always be that way.

Sandberg described how parents at school and co-workers have been trying to do and say the right thing, but many have avoided her eyes because they simply don’t know the proper protocol. To those who feel awkward, she said, she appreciates real, honest questions about her loss.

What really inspires her, Sandberg wrote, has been hearing stories like a colleague’s wife going back to school to get her degree to show her support. “Yes!” Sandberg wrote.

Sandberg wrote that she has come to some realizations, both philosophical and practical, in the month since her husband's death.

She said she has a “more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother," and she realizes “moving to the side of the road for ambulances is extremely important." She also realizes that saying it’s going to be OK is not the right thing to say when someone is grieving.

“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not,” she wrote.

Here is the post in full:

Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.


A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.


I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.


But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.


And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me. While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy.


I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.


I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.


I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.


I have learned some practical stuff that matters. Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.


I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.


I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children.


I have learned that resilience can be learned. Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.


For me, starting the transition back to work has been a savior, a chance to feel useful and connected. But I quickly discovered that even those connections had changed. Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing. One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, “It’s the elephant.” Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.


At the same time, there are moments when I can’t let people in. I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.


I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted. When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before.


I am truly grateful to the many who have offered their sympathy. A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree—something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men—from those I know well to those I will likely never know—are honoring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.


I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.


I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”


Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave. — with Dave Goldberg.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/FILE
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<![CDATA[Levi's, Google to Make Smart Jeans]]> Tue, 02 Jun 2015 07:32:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Levi-Strauss-Real-Label.jpg

Your Levi's may one day control your smartphone, thanks to a new partnership with Google.

Google announced at Friday's I/O developer conference that the two companies have plans to make affordable wearable tech, reported Business Insider.

It's part of Google's "Project Jacquard," which the publication described as a "type of smart yarn that would allow textile manufacturers to create electronic clothing more easily."

In the case of Levi's, that might mean controlling functions such as sending calls to voicemail or dialing up tunes by tapping or swiping jeans.

There is no word yet on when the jeans might be available for sale or what the retail price might be.

Now, all Google and Levi's need to do is partner with San Francisco's DrumPants and get a jeans band going.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[#MyNameIs: Rally Against FB Policy]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:38:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sisterroma2.jpg

Critics of Facebook's requirement for users to authenticate their real identities staged a protest on Monday, saying that many in the transgender community feel they are being “maliciously targeted” and unfairly reported for using a "fake" name.

The #MyNameIs protest, organized through a Facebook page, began in San Francisco and headed down to Facebook campus headquarters in Menlo Park. About 60 people had made the trek by 11 a.m. and were shouting their disapproval outside the "thumbs up" sign, draped in a rainbow banner, in front of the Silicon Valley company.

The campaign and online petition specifically asks Facebook to remove the fake name reporting option, stop asking users for government IDs, and create an appeals process because Facebook's "customer service is non-existent."

Critics say that it's not fair that anybody can claim someone is using a fake name and report that person to Facebook for scrutiny.

"It's a tool that's being used by bullies and bigots to maliciously target and report people they find objectionable. People who've done nothing wrong expect to exercise their right to self identify," said one of the organizers, Sister Roma, a vocal critic of the policy and a self-identified San Francisco drag queen. Roma also pointed out that Bruce Jenner, who made a public debut as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair on Monday, would also have a hard time registering on Facebook under her new name.

Facebook argued again on Monday, as it has in the past, that having people use their real names is for safety, and is meant to curb anonymous cyber-bulling. In fact, on Monday, the company outlined its "authentic name" policy.

“We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the names that they use in real life," the company said in an email. "Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech."

In a Facebook post, Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice president of global operations, and Monika Bickert, head of global product policy, said they realized the company made it "too hard" for people to confirm their authentic identity on Facebook. So, they said after several community conversations, they made some "significant improvements"  such as expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name and allowing people continued access to their profiles while they verify their name.

Users can now verify their names by showing a piece of mail, a magazine subscription or library card, and that there is now a grace period of seven days if people need to verify their name, the posted explained.

This issue is  not a new one, and Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox apologized over the issue in October 2014.

Cox wrote the company's policy has "never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name." The spirit of Facebook's policy, he said, was for people to use the "authentic name in real life." Still, Cox noted that hiding behind a fake name can lead to "trolling, domestic abuse and higher rates of bullying." He promised that Facebook would work to build better tools to authenticate the "Sister Romas of the world."

Still, it seems that despite that apology, many people, specifically in the transgender community, are still not satisfied. And on Monday, the critics reiterated their position: They don't think Facebook should have a right to ask for any type of ID. People should be able to remain anonymous, they argued. At the protest, people carried signs that said "Facebook's apology is a lie" and "Facebook exposed my abuser."

Organizers took particular issue with having to register with a government issued ID. The petition notes that "when exposed, trans men and women are often the victims of discrimination, bullying, harassment, and violence.”

But others listed different, non-LGBT issues as well.

On the event organizing page, Kathryn Suzanne-Dreamer wrote that Facebook does not think "Dreamer" is a real name so she can't simply have "Dreamer" as her last name, she has to hyphenate it.

The protesters also have what they say is a simple solution to the so-called problem: Just block the person if you think they are fake or abusing their fake name. “When you block someone they immediately disappear from your Facebook experience,” the petition reads.

Sister Roma said that Facebook has to realize that the social media giant is an "important and a crucial part of our social life. And it's time Mark Zuckerberg realize that identity is fluid."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Apple Chief Tim Cook Gives $6.5M to Charity]]> Sat, 30 May 2015 16:00:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/TimCookiPad.jpg

Apple chief Tim Cook, who came out as a gay man in October, has increasingly made philanthropy and social justice a mission. Now it's clear that Cook has placed his money where his ideals are by donating more than $6.56 million to an undisclosed charity, according to reports.

The news came in a U.S. Securities and Exchange document, stating that Cook transferred 50,000 shares of his stock to an unnamed organization, but is likely a charity, Apple Insider reported.

This is not the first time Cook's philanthropist side has been discussed in the media. 

At a commencement speech at George Washington University recently, he told graduates, "Don't shrink from risk, and tune out those critics and cynics," he said. "History rarely yields to one person. But think, and never forget, what happens when it does. That can be you. That should be you. That must be you."

Cook's views and message differ from the Apple era of Steve Jobs, who didn't encourage corporate philanthropy or outside politics.

Cook, who hails from Alabama, also gave an undisclosed amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign's Project One America, a campaign to ensure gay rights the politically and socially conservative states of Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas in December, Reuters reported. The group has a $8.5 million, three-year budget, with campaigns in all three states.

"We hope Tim Cook's substantial personal investment inspires others to support this vital and historic project,"  Jason Rahlan, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, told Reuters.
Apple confirmed Cook's donation but declined to comment further because it was a personal, and private, contribution. In December, Cook also lent his name to an LGBT anti-discrimination bill in his native Alabama, so perhaps that decision galvanized the Apple chief executive to become more politically active and fight for gay rights.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Finds Rare Apple Computer]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 02:32:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2015-05-30_0-27-39.jpg

An older woman did not realize her unwanted computer remains were valued at $200,000 after she dropped off the boxes at an electronic recycling shop.

"She dropped off a couple boxes like that,” said Clean Bay Area Vice President Victor Gichun.

Gichun says the woman cleaned out her late husband’s garage and dropped off two boxes. She didn't want a tax receipt, and didn't want to leave her contact information. 

"We really couldn't believe our eyes. We thought it was fake,” Gichun said upon digging through the boxes a few weeks after they were dropped off.

Inside was an Apple One computer, Gichun said. About 200 were made, and they’re extremely valuable.

"It was the first computer that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created in their garage and it was sort of this breakthrough in personal computing,” said Computer Science Professor David Crandall.

The company policy is to give 50 percent of all items sold back to the original owner. For the computer, they fetched $200,000 in a private auction.

In case you’re thinking of running down there to collect a check, Gichun knows what she looks like. He just doesn’t know her name. Now he wants to find this mystery woman to thank her, and make her rich.

"I ask this lady, please come over to our warehouse in Milpitas again, and we'll give you check $100,000,” Gichun said.

Photo Credit: Ian Cull]]>
<![CDATA[Charging Cellphone Sets Bed on Fire]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 11:53:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hamden+cellphone+fire.jpg

Fire officials are warning residents to be careful charging their devices after a cellphone ignited a bed and pillow in Hamden, Connecticut, overnight Friday, according to the fire department.

"I saw the flames," said Hamden resident Kimberly Johnson, who said the fire broke out in her 15-year-old son's bedroom. "When I ran upstairs, his entire left side of the bed was on fire."

Residents at 204 Franklin Road in Hamden ventilated the home and the fire was extinguished before emergency crews arrived around 4 a.m., but fire officials say it's a warning to residents about the dangers of charging electronics.

"I was just scared because all I saw was the flames and my son was laying there," Johnson said.

Chargers "need space to breathe" because they generate heat while in use, according to the Hamden Fire Department.

"The cell phone was left on the bed. These devices need areas to be ventilated," said Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca. "It is recommended that you leave these type of devices on a hard surface so the heat can dissipate. The batteries heat up, they could melt – in some cases, explode – and cause a fire."

Never block the air vents on the back and sides of a laptop or leave charging devices on a bed while sleeping. Bedding and pillows can block airflow, fire officials said.

Check power cords and chargeres regularly for damage, and throw them out if they're frayed. Damaged cords can emit electrical sparks and ignite a fire.

Always unplug chargers that are not in use. They consume electricity even when the device is not charging.

More information is available through the Hamden Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-407-3182.

Photo Credit: Hamden Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[$169 PC For Endless Global Impact]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:40:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/endlesscomputer.jpg

For many, access to computers and high-speed internet connections has never been more crucial.

We rely on them to complete schoolwork, search for jobs, watch movies, access healthcare information, and find relationships, to name but a few.

While a computer and internet access is nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. — 83.8 percent of U.S. households reported computer ownership in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — nearly five billion people have no computers globally, and sixty percent of the world sits outside the internet's reach.

Endless, a San Fransisco-based start-up, is hoping to close the divide with a user friendly and affordable desktop aimed at emerging markets.

The computer, powered by a smartphone processor, was tailor-made for people in developing markets. Keeping in mind that people in third world countries have limited access to the internet, much like early PCs, Endless is pre-installed with over 100 apps that are accessible offline, ranging from farming to health. It also comes with Wikipedia, Khan Academy, curricula, and educational games.

Starting at $169 for a 32GB computer, the egg-shaped operating system doesn't include a monitor or keyboard. As a way to reduce cost, Endless was designed to be connected to a television set.

"A keyboard isn't expensive and the monitor, well the one thing I did see in travels around India, Brazil, Thailand other places was, without fail, HD-quality televisions in most homes," CEO Matt Dalio told USA Today. "I thought the TV could be used as a monitor and we could rework the smartphone technology to make the computers affordable.”

In April, Endless launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for their international outreach marketing campaign, #EndlessAdventuras. The company amassed $176,538 to help bring awareness of the product to its first markets, Mexico and Guatemala.

Operation #EndlessAdventuras is currently underway in Mexico. Members of the Endless team are traveling through the Latin American country aboard a retrofitted schoolbus that is functioning as an offline cybercafe, stopping in rural communities, and introducing Endless to prospective users for the first time.


Photo Credit: Endless
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<![CDATA[3D Printers Create Prosthetic Legs]]> Thu, 14 May 2015 12:44:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/LEG2.JPG

Is it the next Industrial Revolution? 3D printing may one day revolutionize businesses, but it’s already having another effect: changing countless lives.

For some, that means being able to stand on their own two feet. Literally.

Veronica Perez was 16 when she suffered an injury that left her with chronic bone infections in her feet. Tired of the pain, she asked doctors to amputate her left leg.

“There’s a lot of limitations that come with being an amputee,” said Perez. “There’s a lot of things we can’t do.”

Insurance covered the bulk of her primary prosthetic leg, which ranges in cost from $20,000 up to $100,000. Perez said unfortunately, it’s not made for water. This meant countless times of depending on strangers to help her get into the pool, for instance. Something as simple as getting in and out of the shower, without her prosthetic leg, became potentially dangerous.

“I’ve had a few times where I’ve fallen and I’ve slipped getting in and out of the shower,” described Perez. “I’ve hurt myself, it’s scary and I’m worried I may hurt myself more.”

That’s why Jeff Huber, an entrepreneur, decided to start Standard Cyborg. The San Francisco-based start-up creates prosthetic legs that are both water- and wallet-friendly as secondary legs. Think of the legs as different kinds of shoes, made for a wide range of purposes: walking, running, swimming, and going out.

“Your primary leg will cost $20,000 $100,000, if you’re an above the knee amputee,” Huber explained.

While insurance can cover the bulk of the cost, Huber said that doesn’t necessarily apply to any other legs an amputee may want or need. His product is also a fraction of the cost: under $800.

“Nobody else in the world, as far as I know, had created functional 3D printed legs, and definitely no one had ever sold one before,” said Huber.

In six short months from summer of 2014, it grew from pet project to real product, one made by what Huber’s dubbed his “glorified glue gun.”

The leg shape is scanned, the images are finalized on his computer, and those data files are then sent to the three 3D printers sitting in his South of Market shop. The melted plastic is melded into just about anything.

“You can print an object of infinite complexity that many times traditional manufacturing couldn’t even make, and you can do so at a very cheap price because it doesn’t cost a lot,” said Huber.

It’s part of the so-called “Maker Movement” that involves a wave of hands-on inventors and innovators, hackers and do-it-yourself devotees who harness the power of production for people who might otherwise be ignored by mass manufacturers motivated mostly by money.

“I think that that the fact he can use things like 3D printing is really great because we’re such a small group of people who need this,” said Perez. “It’s really great that technology is so accessible like that.”

The field of “personal manufacturing” is still in its nascent stages. Most products have been toys and gadgets, in part because the plastics available for the printing haven’t been strong enough to produce more substantial products. Huber believes that’s quickly changing.

“Even in the next one to two years, you’re going to see some pretty cool things happen I think.”

The industry is exploding. According to San Jose-based leading touch technology and microcontrollers manufacturer, Atmel, there are roughly 125-million adult “makers” in the United States alone, injecting about $29 billion into the economy annually.

Atmel also says the market for 3D printing products and services hit $2.2 billion in 2012, a figure expected to jump to $6 billion within two years and $8.4 billion by 2020 – mostly coming from the aerospace and healthcare fields.

“We’re at the very early stages of this and it will be fascinating to see where it plays out over the next 20 years,” said Huber.

It’s innovation inspired by his very own life. Huber has been an amputee his entire life.

“As an amputee, you’re always worried about using your prosthetics. Say you take it to the beach, you’re worried about losing it, breaking it. This thing costs $20,000 so if you lose or break it, it’s a really big deal.”

After about 10 hours of 3D printing and several days of waiting before they could meet, Perez arrived at Huber’s San Francisco shop to try on her new leg.

It fit. While it’s still a work in progress, Perez said she is both giddy and grateful to have this secondary leg.

“I would never think of something like that and then be able to produce it, and you actually did it,” she said to Huber. “I think it’s so awesome.”

It’s also reassuring. Perez admits having to rely on strangers for help as an amputee has been a struggle.

“I worry about having to depend on others for day-to-day things, and it scares me,” she said. “Honestly, I worry a lot about that and I hope by the time I’m a senior, that there are things out there that are going to help me be more independent.”

For Huber, the ability to give someone that bit of freedom is invaluable.

“It certainly helps when you want to pull your hair out to say, ‘Okay, this is actually going to change somebody’s life, so I should probably go figure it out.’”

<![CDATA[Uber Could Be Worth $50 Billion]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 12:37:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/UberEATS-menu-Godmother-1024x683.jpg

If Uber is successful in raising $1.5 to $2 billion in additional funding, the company could be worth $50 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reports the San Francisco company told investors these figures are the target range for the next round of funding. The publication noted, if Uber achieves a $50 billion valuation, it would be comparable to what Facebook was worth before going public.

Uber has been quickly ramping up other types of offerings, including a food delivery service called UberEATS that might expand to the Bay Area in the future.

But, Uber has also been losing money and has accrued $5 billion in debt and equity, according to TechCrunch.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Uber]]>
<![CDATA[Girl: My iPhone Caught Fire]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 23:34:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/iPhone+Catch+Fire+Girl+Pocket.PNG

Roselly Rolon got her daughter, Alexis, an Apple iPhone 5C for peace of mind in case of an emergency. But the Northeast Philadelphia mother never expected the smartphone to be the source of trouble.

On Friday morning, however, the family claims just that happened. As the 12-year-old walked to school, she said the popular smartphone caught fire in the pocket of her pants.

"All I saw was smoke coming out and then it was my phone. So I threw it on the ground — my butt was, like, burning," the girl recalled.

Alexis heard a cracking sound coming from the phone before it caught fire, but she didn't realize anything was wrong until the smoke began to rise, she said.

"I took it out ... and I threw it on the ground and started stomping out the fire," she said.

The white phone's case was left disfigured, the metal charred and rippled. The device burned through the back pocket of Alexis' jeans and left the girl with second-degree burns, doctors at Nazareth Hospital determined.

"We depend on these phones. And the same phone that I'm depending on is gonna burn my daughter," Roselly Rolon, the girl's mother, said angrily. "Thank God it wasn't her face."

The girl said the phone had been problem-free before Friday's fire and that she charged it normally Thursday night.

Apple told NBC10 they can't comment because the Rolons haven't contacted them directly about the incident. The family says their attorney is reaching out to the tech giant.

This isn't the first time an iPhone owner claimed their phone combusted. A middle schooler in Maine suffered 2nd degree burns in January 2014 after she said her iPhone 5C caught fire in her pocket. An Arizona man also suffered similar burns after he said an iPhone 6 went up in flames in his pocket last October.

Despite the pain inflicted by the device, Alexis isn't shying away from the smartphone. "I like the iPhone, but I don't want that one anymore. I want a different one," she said.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Yelp Might Be For Sale]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 18:05:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Yelp-Reviews-0520.jpg

A new report notes that Yelp is courting potential buyers.

The San Francisco company, founded in 2004, could be worth $3.5 billion if sold, according to The Wall Street Journal. That's half a billion more than what Business Insider called Yelp's current market cap.

Less valuable and included in any sale of Yelp would be its legacy of lawsuits and inquiries. Though ultimately dismissed, the company has faced multiple extortion suits as well as an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Photo Credit: AP / File]]>