<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usMon, 23 Oct 2017 14:18:35 -0700Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:18:35 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Explore Mars From the Comfort of Your Couch]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:34:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-20-2017-rover-360-mars20171019.jpg

Now everyone can get a taste of what scientists see on the red planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience that be accessed with a computer, mobile device or virtual reality/augmented reality headset.

Access Mars: Experience access Mars by clicking here and learn about Curiosity’s mission here.

Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore the desert terrain while poking around nooks and crannies. The program features four notable regions: Curiosity's landing site, Murray Buttes, Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. The rover’s current location on Mt. Sharp will be continually updated as new imagery comes in.

The software is adapted from a similar program used by NASA scientists to study Martian geology.

"We've been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day," said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL's Ops Lab, which led the collaboration. "With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along."

The experience was crafted by pairing Curiosity's imagery and scientific data with WebVR, an open-source virtual reality software that be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

Visitors can learn more details about Curiosity’s experiments such as photos of digging sites, soil mineral compositions and even a selfie the rover took so scientists could monitor wear and tear.

"Immersive technology has incredible potential as a tool for scientists and engineers," Luo said. "It also lets us inspire and engage the public in new ways."

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL
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<![CDATA[How to Prevent Being Spied on in Vacation Rental Homes]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:24:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cameras_Found_in_Airbnb_Condo_1200x675_1068525123576.jpg

For people on vacation, being watched on hidden cameras in your room should be the furthest thing on their mind, but police are warning people to be on the lookout after an alarming case last month involving a vacation rental, according to "Today." 

An Indiana couple found a hidden camera and microphone in a smoke detector pointed toward their bed at their Airnbnb rental in Longboat Key, Florida. The homeowner was arrested and charged with video voyeurism, police said.

It is surprisingly easy to hide cameras and microphones in everyday household items, according to Scott Black, owner of Bethlehem Spy Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"You can be 2 thousand miles away and as long as there's an internet connection,'' Black said, "we can monitor this from anywhere in the world."

Photo Credit: WFLA
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<![CDATA[Weinstein Sex Scandal Triggers #MeToo Movement]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 20:00:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17281854843740.jpg

The Harvey Weinstein sex scandal has triggered a huge new movement that is expanding well beyond Hollywood.

The hashtag #MeToo message on social media was designed to allow women to acknowledge they have suffered sexual harassment or assault, but it has also turned into a nationwide rallying cry.

Chandra Brooks, a commissioner on Santa Clara County's Commission on the Status of Women, allowed NBC Bay Area to be there when she added her name to the list of those publicly acknowledged they had been a victim of sexual harassment or assault.

"I've been sexually harassed and assaulted more times than I can even think of, but I must share and let everybody know they are not alone," Brooks said.

Brooks is one of many women and girls joining the social media movement. She thinks change will come out of the movement.

"I think legislation might happen," Brooks said. "You never know. I think so many things can happen."

Brooks said it is hard to say yet what will happen, specifically, as the commission and other groups dedicated to women's rights address the issue, especially when a social media movement is grieving by the minute.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[This Is What Happens When You Take a Fidget Spinner to Space]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:25:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DIT+SPACE+FIDGET+SPINNER+THUMB.jpg

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station tested a fidget spinner in zero gravity. They had time to play with the popular toy in between three scheduled space walks this month.

<![CDATA['Krack' Security Flaw Puts Every Wi-Fi Connection at Risk]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/551984311-Hacker.jpg

A newly discovered Wi-Fi security flaw reveals that your home network is hackable, giving outsiders access to everything from private chats to baby monitors, NBC News reports.

The attack, called Krack, takes advantage of the longstanding connection between devices and routers that is supposed to deliver a fresh, encrypted session every time you connect.

"When I woke up this morning and saw this one, I was taken aback," said Bob Rudis, chief data scientist at threat intelligence company Rapid7.

The gaping hole in the Wi-Fi protocol is fixable, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been reaching out to the many vendors who are affected. Rudis recommends checking with your internet service provider for the latest information on updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers as Part of Annual Reviews ]]> Sat, 14 Oct 2017 19:30:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/Tesla_Headquarters_1.jpg

Tesla Motors fired hundreds of workers after completing its annual performance reviews, even though the electric automaker is trying to ramp up production to meet the demand for its new Model 3 sedan.

The Palo Alto, California-based company confirmed the cuts in a Saturday statement, but didn't disclose how many of its 33,000 workers were jettisoned. The San Jose Mercury News interviewed multiple former and current Tesla employees who estimated 400 to 700 workers lost their jobs.

The housecleaning swept out workers in administrative and sales jobs, in addition to Tesla's manufacturing operations.

An unspecified number of workers received bonuses and promotions following their reviews, according to the company.

Tesla is under pressure to deliver its Model 3 sedan to a waiting list of more than 450,000 customers. The company so far has been lagging its own production targets after making just 260 of the vehicles in its last quarter.

Including other models, Tesla expects to make about 100,000 cars this year. CEO Elon Musk is aiming to increase production by five-fold next year, a goal that probably will have to be met to support Tesla's market value of $59 billion -- more than Ford Motor Co.

Unlike Ford, Tesla still hasn't posted an annual profit yet.

Despite the mass firings, Tesla is still looking to hire hundreds more workers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Successfully Launches and Lands Another Rocket]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:58:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/spacex2.png

SpaceX launched and landed its second rocket in three days. The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida before delivering a satellite and landing the leftover booster on an offshore barge. It is the third time a SpaceX has reflown a rocket.

<![CDATA[Not Just You: Facebook, Instagram Go Down Wednesday]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:43:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Facebook-generic-1.jpg

Facebook and Instagram went down for many users on Wednesday, with problems on the social media giant spiking, according to the website status-tracking page Downdetector.

Facebook acknowledged that people weren't able to use the site, or Instagram, which it owns. 

"We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible," a Facebook representative said.

There were thousands of reports of problems starting Tuesday morning about 10 a.m. ET, though the spike receded about three hours later. The reports came from across the nation, Europe and South America, according to Downdetector's map.

It wasn't immediately clear caused the issue.

Facebook's troubleshooting dashboard noted an increased level of in errors. A company that links to Facebook's back-end in order to let companies post to social media, SocialFLow, said there was a problem in a tweet before noon.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Ways to Finance the New iPhone 8 or X]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:53:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/iPhone+8.jpg

When the iPhone first launched, the only way to get Apple's latest smartphone was through a two-year contract through AT&T. Things have changed, NBC News reported. 

Consumers now have the option to finance the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and upcoming iPhone X from Apple and the major wireless carriers, as a shift from two-year contracts to carrier financing becomes popular.

Experts say that it's important for people to read the fine print and know what they're signing up for.

"If you do finance through them, they kind of have you on the hook,” says John Oldshue, owner of SaveOnPhone.com. “Not only will they come right after you for the rest of the money if you decide to switch carriers in the middle of that time period, but some have a penalty for leaving the carriers.”

NBC News' Better ran down all the options for customers looking to buy the latest iPhones.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[California Bullet Train Staff Recommends German Operator]]> Sat, 07 Oct 2017 09:50:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/AP_17208104600370.jpg

The agency overseeing California's bullet train project recommended Friday that a U.S. subsidiary of a German rail company design and operate a train segment from the Central Valley to Silicon Valley in its early stages.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's board of directors will vote Oct. 19 on whether to approve a $30 million contract with DB Engineering & Consulting USA. It's the U.S. arm of rail giant Deutsche Bahn AG, which is owned by the German government.

Chinese, Italian and Spanish companies also competed to lend California expertise in building the United States' first high-speed train. California's quest to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours, a priority for Gov. Jerry Brown, has been plagued by repeated cost increases, delays and staff turnover. The agency has been searching for a new chief executive for months.

The $64 billion project is now slated for completion by 2029. Construction is underway on a 32-mile segment between Madera and Fresno counties.

The agency hopes bringing on a company with experience in the high-speed train industry will ensure the design phase and early operations of the train go smoothly.

Deutsche Bahn operates more than 620,000 miles (1 million kilometers) of train tracks and transports 6.5 million rail passengers per day, according to its website. DB Engineering & Consulting has worked on rail projects across the globe, including in Europe, China and Australia, according to its website.

If approved, DB Engineering will help design stations, thinking about needs such as parking and food. It will set up a ridership model and evaluate the best means of collecting revenue, from hiring ticket-collectors to allowing for mobile ticketing. It will also help the authority market and brand the rail project, according to the contract.

The contract cost is $30 million over six years. Some rail board members questioned at a June meeting whether that price was realistic for the scope of the project.

After the initial design phase, DB Engineering would help with track and train testing, and run the train in its early stages from the Central Valley to Silicon Valley. The state would then competitively bid again for a long-term operator, according to the contract.

Deutsche Bahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Startup Aims to Produce Hybrid-Electric Planes by 2022]]> Thu, 05 Oct 2017 13:02:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/zunum.png

Zunum Aero, a Seattle-based startup, has announced plans for a hybrid-electric plane.

<![CDATA[Panel OKs Guidelines for LAPD Drone Program]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:35:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-485983672.jpg

The civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department unanimously approved guidelines Tuesday for a drone program the LAPD wants to create despite opposition from activists who consider the technology a threat to civil liberties.

The debate over the LAPD's use of drones began three years ago when the department acquired two of the devices, which it ultimately decided against using in the face of protests from activists fearing surveillance uses. But the department reversed course and in August presented the Board of Police Commissioners with a plan to create a pilot drone program.

The newly approved guidelines do not give a green light to the creation of the program. After posting the guidelines on the department's website for two weeks and receiving more public feedback, the board is scheduled to vote on final approval of the pilot program.

"Our challenge is to create a policy that strikes a balance, that promotes public safety and does not infringe on public policy rights. The best way to do that is through a strong policy, that creates maximum transparency, accountability and oversight, and I believe this proposed policy does that," Commissioner Shane Murphy Goldsmith said.

A week ago, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Civilian Oversight Commission voted 5-4 to call for the grounding of the LASD's recently enacted drone program, although Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the program would continue.

The Police Commission first heard a presentation on the guidelines for the proposed LAPD program in August, and the department held four public meetings to get feedback.

LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the commissioners that 1,675 emails were sent to the department and 95 of those were in support of using drones.

Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition pointed to the negative emails, as well as 3,500 signatures his group said it had gathered in opposition to the program and 1,900 signatures the ACLU said it had also gathered, as evidence that the board was not interested in the public feedback it was receiving. He also said the overwhelming feedback at the four meetings was from people in opposition to the program.

"Only seven percent of the people in the emails agreed with the department. All four meetings where it was overwhelming rejection. The sheriff's civilian oversight rejects the drones and demands that they be grounded, and this body, this supposedly civilian oversight body, continues with the same practice," Khan said.

Mohammad Tajsar, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties of Southern California, also told the board it was not listening to the feedback it was receiving.

"Responsiveness means not just to allow the public to speak, but to listen to the feedback when it gets it," Tajsar said.

He said the feedback wasn't just in opposition to parts of the program, "but it is opposition to end the entire program."

According to the approved guidelines, drones would be used in a limited capacity, including high-risk tactical operations, barricaded armed suspect responses, hostage rescues, and situations involving threats of exposure to hazardous materials and the need to detect explosive devices.

The drones would not be weaponized, and their use would have be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Members of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, the Drone-Free LAPD/No Drones, LA! Campaign and other groups held a news conference before the meeting to denounce the potential program.

A pair of Draganflyer X6 drones were given to the LAPD by the city of Seattle in 2014 but were never deployed. The drones were put into storage, but Girmala told the commissioners in August those two drones have since been destroyed.

The groups opposed to the drones say that although the current guidelines are limited, they could be changed later on to allow surveillance, invasions of privacy or end up being weaponized.

The Los Angeles City Council cleared the way in June for the city's fire department to begin using drones. A Los Angeles Fire Department report addressed the issue of privacy concerns and said the devices would not be used to monitor or provide surveillance for law enforcement.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Yahoo: Every Single Account Was Impacted by 2013 Data Breach]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:27:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-493360991.jpg

Yahoo, now part of Oath, said that every single Yahoo account was affected by a data breach that took place in 2013.

That's about 3 billion accounts, CNBC reported.

Yahoo buried the stat in a recent update to its Account Security Update page. "Based on an analysis of the information with the assistance of outside forensic experts, Yahoo has determined that all accounts that existed at the time of the August 2013 theft were likely affected," Yahoo's page says.

Yahoo said that the company received new intelligence after it was acquired by AOL and that forensic experts discovered the attack was larger than originally thought. Yahoo will begin alerting accounts that weren't previously notified of the attack.

This story is developing please check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: How Gravitational Waves Are Detected]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 10:03:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*128/GW170104a_close-up_spinning_black_holes.jpg Albert Einsten thought gravitational waves might exist -- he just didn't have a way to prove it. About 100 years after the gamed scientist first calculated the existence of faint ripples flying through the universe, a team of researchers recorded the first observation of gravitational waves.

Photo Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)]]>
<![CDATA[GM to Ditch Gas- and Diesel-Powered Cars, Go All Electric]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:40:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GM-electric.jpg

General Motors plans to go 100 percent electric, the Detroit automaker announced Monday.

"General Motors believes in an all-electric future," said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. "Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs."

A number of auto manufacturers have recently announced plans to "electrify" their product lines. But GM said its promise takes this commitment a step further, NBC News reported.

GM currently offers one extended-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, but will add two others within 18 months, Reuss said, with "at least 20" to be in the line-up by 2023.

Photo Credit: General Motors via AP]]>
<![CDATA[FCC Chief to Apple: Enable Radio on iPhones, Save Lives]]> Thu, 28 Sep 2017 15:35:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/455053466.jpg

The iPhone is an incredibly advanced device, but some versions have a very old piece of technology embedded in it lying dormant: a radio receiver.

Now, the chairman of the U.S. agency that regulates radio, phones and other forms of communication wants Apple to activate the FM chips in iPhones to help get information to Puerto Ricans, whose island is near-totally blacked-out after Hurricane Maria hit land with devastating force last week.

"When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information," said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai Thursday in a statement. "I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones. Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so."

Pai's call was backed by the National Association of Broadcasters, which also urged Apple to "light up the FM chip."

"It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first," Pai said in his statement.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of what San Juan's mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, House Speaker Paul Ryan and others have called a humanitarian crisis. Nearly half the island is without water and about all electricity customers without power as of Wednesday, according to federal agencies' most recent updates.

About nine in 10 cellphone sites were still out of service by Wednesday, and residents have complained that there's no way for them to get vital news about where to get supplies. Many people continue to be unable simply to reach family members on the mainland.

Usually, smartphones get data through the internet, but with so much of the island crippled, internet service is very hard to come by. But the FM chips that most phones are made with would allow them to tune into radio frequencies without anything other than power — if the chips are activated, and users have an app downloaded that can access broadcasts.

Pai has long identified this capability as being important option for smartphone owners to have when disasters hit, and the FCC has recognized that it's particularly useful in disaster situations when the internet is hard to access.

"I don't think people realize how vulnerable people get," said former FEMA Administator Craig Fugate, citing cell system overload during Hurricane Sandy and the Virginia earthquake, in an interview with NAB. 

FEMA urges people to have battery-powered radios in their disaster preparedness kits, but Fugate said in the 2014 interview, "If your radio's now in your cellphone, that's one less device that you have to have extra."

Currently, the NAB-supported NextRadio app, which can broadcast from the FM chip, is available on a wide variety of Samsung, HTC, Moto and other smartphones. But not iPhones.

Apple did not respond when Wired wrote about the issue of smartphones' FM chips last year. In a statement to NBC on Thursday, an Apple spokesperson said that its iPhone 7 and new iPhone 8 do not have FM radio chips in them "nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products."

"Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products," Apple said in a statement. "Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts."

Apple did not address the older models of iPhones, and the FCC declined to comment on the company's statement.

Activating the FM chip wouldn't immediately help anyone in Puerto Rico without internet already. But advocates argue it would help Americans be prepared for the next disaster.

Wireless companies have long urged Congress to let FM chip activation be up to individual carriers.

Asked at a 2013 congressional hearing why cellphone providers are reluctant to activatation of the chips, then-executive vice-president of the wireless association CTIA, Christopher Guttman-McCabe, said, "we leave it up to that ecosystem, and the carriers will compete against each other as well as the handset manufacturers."

In a recent statement, CTIA spokesman Nick Ludlum touted wireless providers' quick response to the three recent hurricanes that hit the United States, including by bringing in portable generators and cell equipment.

NBC reached out to the CTIA for a response to Pai's statement.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter to Test 280-Character Tweets]]> Tue, 26 Sep 2017 14:24:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/twitter-logo.jpg

Twitter is experimenting with raising the limit on tweets from 140 characters to 280 characters.

The company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday it was rolling out 280-character limit tweets to "a small group" of users who tweet in languages that may make it difficult to include everything they want to say.

"We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too," Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen wrote. "But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint."

Shares of Twitter rose more than 1 percent in extended trading following the news, CNBC reports, after declining more than 2 percent during the regular session.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Classified US Spy Satellite Launched From California]]> Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:43:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/satellite+launch.JPG

A spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office has been launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the classified NROL-42 satellite lifted off at 10:49 p.m. PDT Saturday. All systems were going well when the launch webcast concluded about three minutes into the flight.

The launch was expected to be visible across a wide area of California, weather permitting.

National Reconnaissance Office satellites gather intelligence information for U.S. national security and an array of other purposes including assessing impacts of natural disasters.

U.S. officials have not revealed what the spacecraft will be doing or what its orbit will be.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Photo Credit: OnScene.TV]]>