<![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 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:01:13 -0800 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:01:13 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Google Expansion Worries Hometown]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:58:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/google22.jpg

New expansion plans for Google headquarters, known as the Googleplex, has the city of Mountain View in a tough position as city leaders try to accommodate their biggest corporate taxpayer as well as non-Google residents who feel the tech giant is swallowing their town.

“I think most of us in Mountain View are concerned about where are we going to house the employees that work there, the new employees. How will they get to work given the traffic bottlenecks that already exist?” asked Mountain View councilman Lenny Siegel.

Reportedly, the new plans highlight a campus focused on walking or biking to work, which means one thing to Siegel: Mountain View must build new housing.

“We’re expecting as we put housing in north Bayshore and near north Bayshore that we’ll reduce the amount of miles traveled by commuters,” he said.

A mobile home park in the shadow of Google headquarters is also in the cross hairs.

“There is a mobile home park in north Bayshore, about 360 units and a growing number of Google employees are moving in there,” he said. “Now it’s unfortunately displacing some of the residents, they’ve been bought out basically.”

Gregory Legg, who lives in Mountain View said many of his neighbors are Google employees and they’re doing wonders for property values

“It’s actually bringing it up, the property values, which is good. It’s real good,” Legg said. “I mean, before, it was pretty low. And now it’s brought it up quite a bit.”

But with the higher prices, Rosemary Dozie Antoine said she will probably have to move.

“We would like to get out of here because everything’s too expensive for what I do,” she said. “And for what my husband does. So we need to kinda’ need to get out of here.”

The higher real estate is benefiting some, but pushing out others.

“It’s the housing and transportation issues that make me question the value of all this high-tech growth,” she said.

Siegel said opening up Moffett Field for a type of park-and-ride plan that would help alleviate street congestion could be in the works. But his main focus is discussing new housing developments around Google, something the council said no to last year.

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<![CDATA[What Net Neutrality Protections Mean For You]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:50:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MEDINA-_NEW_NEUTRALITY_WEB_1200x675_405265987972.jpg What the new net neutrality protections mean to your Internet. Mekahlo Medina explains on the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2015.]]> <![CDATA["Spring Forward": Apple Watch Expected at March Event]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:52:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/APPLE10.jpg

Could it be time for the Apple Watch's big debut?

In its typical mysterious style, Apple announced on Thursday it will hold a “special event” on March 9, in San Francisco. While the Cupertino company didn't mention the watch - it never publicly identifies the subjects of its much-ballyhooed unveilings - it did use a time pun in its sparsely written invitation, colored in pastels.

"Spring Forward," reads the text for the invitation-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, which kicks off at 10 a.m.

Bolstering the watch theory, the company bought 12 pages of ads in Vogue magazine to tout its new Apple Watch, which is set to be released in April. The ad features three versions of the new smartwatch: the leather standard model, the rubber Sport , and the high-end Edition, all in glossy print ads.

And keen industry observers, including TechRadar, MacRumors and the Wall Street Journal predict that soon most everyone who wants one will be walking around with a new Apple wearable on their wrist.

Photo Credit: Apple invitation]]>
<![CDATA[Uber and Starwood Hotels Partner]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 10:54:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uber-safety.jpg

San Francisco-based ridesharing company Uber is partnering with a hotel rewards program for the first time.

On Tuesday, Uber announced a partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Connecticut.

Now people in Starwood Hotel’s Preferred Guest program can earn hotel “points” at the chain every time they ride with Uber. The Starwood chain is made up of more than 1,100 hotels and nine brands including St. Regis, W, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element.

According to Uber’s blog, 72 percent of the over 290 cities where Uber is available, you can also find a Starwood hotel.

This partnership includes larger promotional events around the world, including a day of special freebies and deals for San Francisco customers on Feb. 28.

While Uber is a popular ridesharing company, it has also been surrounded in controversy both in the Bay Area and around the world.  Uber has come under fire recently for its safety record, executive missteps, and for being embroiled in several lawsuits with local governments.

Riders will have to rack up quite a few Uber trips to earn their free stay. Starwood Hotel guests earn one “Starpoint” for each dollar they spend with Uber. Guests need a minimum of 2,000 of those “Starpoints“ to stay at the least expensive Starwood rooms.

<![CDATA[Latino-Themed Gaming App Stirs Controversy]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:22:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-la-chancla-app.jpg

The first Latino-themed gaming app created by Latinos has reached nearly 1,000 paid downloads since it was released last week. However, the game received mixed reviews about the way it portrays Latinos.

"I don't really like the game," said Sonya, a Highland Park mother. "Kids might feel that they have to follow stereotypes like Mexicans should be cholos (gangsters)."

La Chancla is the name of the 99-cent game, and the rules are simple: Avoid getting hit by grandma's chancla, Spanish for slipper, while running through the streets of Highland Park. The game plays on the cultural phenomenon of Latino mothers and grandmothers using their flip-flops to discipline their children. The characters, whether it is Super Cholo or Baby Bubba, run through the streets jumping to get tacos, burritos and coins – all to the sound of a cumbia-mariachi mix of music.

Even though some find it offensive, creator Erik Garcia said the game is based on his reality.

"It's just a product of our environment," said Garcia, founder of Echo Brown development. "We are not trying to be racist in any way, it's just what we grew up with."

Although some people said they are offended, Garcia said the humor of the game outweighs any notion of negative stereotypes.

One mother of two in Highland Park said the game is fun and funny.

"It hits home," said Anais Arrenquin. "I don't find offense to it and growing up in a community the way we were brought up, it's just kind of funny."

Garcia said there are barely any Latino gaming developers, and that this game is one of the few that actually strikes a chord with people.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Google Teams Up with Wireless Carriers]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:09:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/google12.jpg

Aiming to undercut Apple's latest hit service, Google is teaming up with three major U.S. wireless carriers to prod more people into using its mobile wallet.

The counterattack announced Monday is just the latest example of how the competition between Google Inc. and Apple Inc. is extending beyond the technology industry's traditional boundaries. Besides payments, Silicon Valley's two richest companies are expanding into fields such as home appliances and cars to increase their power and profits.

Google's latest volley calls for its payment service to be built into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA later this year. Smartphone owners currently have to download the service, called Google Wallet, and install the app on their phone if they want to use it to buy something instead of pulling out cash or a credit card.
Apple's rival service, Apple Pay, already comes embedded in the latest versions of the company's mobile software.
Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google Inc. is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Although Google and the wireless carriers got a head start with their digital wallets, the concept hadn't gained much traction until Apple Pay debuted last fall.
The service has become more popular than Apple expected, according to a recent presentation by CEO Tim Cook.

Just three months after Apple Pay's November debut, Cook said the service accounted for two out of every three dollars spent across the three major U.S. card networks, when no card was used. About 2,000 banks and credit unions have agreed to offer Apple Pay to its customers. Apple hasn't said how many merchants are set up to handle its mobile payment services.
Apple builds on that early momentum, the Cupertino, California, company could become the leader in what is expected to be a booming market. Nearly 16 million U.S. consumers spent about $3.5 billion on tap-and-pay services last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. By 2018, eMarketer predicts those figures will rise to 57 million U.S. consumers spending about $118 billion.

Companies that provide mobile wallets make money by collecting processing fees from merchants and banks.

Samsung Electronics, another major smartphone maker, may be ready to join the fray after buying a mobile payment startup called LoopPay. That deal, announced last week, fueled speculation that Samsung will include a digital wallet on its next phone.

Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online. Media reports say Google is considering selling its own wireless plans to consumers.

The pre-installation of the Wallet app is similar to what Google already does with its search engine, Gmail and YouTube on millions of other phones running on Android -- an operating system that Google has been giving away for years to ensure people keep using its products on mobile devices. Google profits from the traffic by showing ads.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Department Changing Export Rules on Drones]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:50:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drone-casa-blanca.jpg

The State Department said on Feb. 17 that it is changing its export rules covering unmanned aircraft.

The Associated Press interpreted the announcement as a loosening of rules covering the export of unmanned aircraft able to carry weapons, when the export is to countries friendly to the United States.

There is a good chance the change would affect San Diego businesses that supply aircraft to the U.S. military and close allies such as those in NATO.

The new State Department policy states, among other things, that armed and other advanced unmanned aircraft are to be used in military operations “only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense.”

The department guidelines also prohibit unlawful surveillance of populations.


Photo Credit: bhphotovideo.com
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<![CDATA[FAA Rushes to Finalize Drone Rules]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 20:46:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nixie-drone.jpg The FAA is rushing to finalize rules for drones as the pilotless helicopters quickly become more popular and affordable. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m., Feb.16, 2015.

Photo Credit: Nixie]]>
<![CDATA[New App to Deliver Alcohol to San Diegans]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 19:24:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/saucey+screen+grab.jpg

San Diegans can now order alcohol with just a few taps on their phone.

The alcohol delivery app Saucey has launched in San Diego, the company announced on Twitter.

It also delivers to residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The application has its own team of drivers, according to the website, and promises delivery in 20 to 40 minutes.

To download the application, visit the application's website.

Photo Credit: Sauceyapp.com]]>
<![CDATA[Dating App for Pot Smokers]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 05:49:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/High+There+App.jpg

Stoners looking for that special someone, rejoice: There is a new way to light up connections with others who share a love of weed.

High There! is a dating app, similar to Tinder, designed especially for marijuana smokers.

The Denver-based app is available for Android phones in states where use of marijuana is legal, according to its download page in the Google Play store.

High There! doesn't yet have an iPhone app, though several media reports say one is in the works.

Similar to Tinder, High There! lets users create profiles and swipe through potential matches. But the app also lets weed-smokers let others know what they like to do when high. A preview on Google Play shows the options to set your "energy level" to "low" if you like to veg out, or to "high" if you want to go for a run after you partake.

The app also matches people based on their preferences for consuming THC -- vaping vs. smoking, for example.

"High There! solves the problem many cannabis consumers face in connecting with similar people," according to the app's download page. "Whether looking to connect with new friends, current friends, fellow patients, or simply to find that special someone who understands and supports your choice to consume, High There! helps by giving you a safe place to express yourself."

CEO Todd Mitchem told Mashable the app is designed for more than just dating.

"A lot of people say we're the Tinder of weed, but that's only one facet of the whole thing. It's so much bigger," he said.

Mitchem said the app can help users find recommendations for local medical marijuana dispensaries, or just make friends. (Presumably, friends with some weed.)

Photo Credit: High There! Screen Grab from Google Play]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg, Chan Donate $75M]]> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 11:32:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_2960706.jpg

The Bay Area's Power Couple is at it again.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan have announced a $75 million donation San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center to complete an acute care and trauma facility.

The gift is the biggest donation the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation has received since it was established in 1994, the foundation said Friday. It supplements an $887.4 million bond issue that San Francisco voters approved in 2008 to start building the facility.

According to the Foundation, the grant will "Fund critical state of the art equipment and technology for the new building and will help convert the existing hospital building into an ambulatory care facility."

Zuckerberg and Chan recently also donated $25 million to fight Ebola. In a press release, Zuckerberg said, "Priscilla and I believe that everyone deserves access to high quality health care."

Chan, a pediatrician, is completing her residency at the University of California, San Francisco and works regularly at the hospital, where she focuses on treating underprivileged children.

The newest donation is the latest in a series of tech windfalls helping Bay Area hospitals. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff donated about $250 million for the newly minted Benioff Children's Hospital.

Scott can be found on Twitter: @scottbudman

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Facebook
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<![CDATA[Google Now Calculates Your Mortgage]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 13:22:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*121/GoogleMortgageCalculator.JPG

Google now has a mortgage calculator for users who don't want to bother looking up a mortgage site.

Apparently it was created to capture those searching for a mortgage calculator because it shows up in the search results, much as its regular calculator does, according to Search Engine Land. From Google Plus:

Preparing for homeownership just got a bit easier. Starting today you can ask Google things like “How much can I borrow at $200 a month?” or “At 5% APR how much can I borrow over 10 years?” You can even adjust the mortgage amount, interest rate, mortgage period and more to see which financial options fit your needs.

Google's plan is to keep eyeballs on the site, and providing free online tools has been their successful way of doing just that. Its other tools, such as Google's currency converter and Google Translate are also ways to keep people using the search engine and coming back for more.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Protect Yourself After Anthem Data Breach]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 19:20:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ANTHEMMEDINA_1200x675_394841667586.jpg A massive data breach for California's largest health insurance provider -- Anthem. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Google Takes on Uber]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 09:29:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uber-illustration-451549230.jpg

Uber, Lyft -- and now Google.

With no drivers, to boot.

The Mountain View search engine and advertising giant is reportedly working on an Uber competitor, with Google employees already using an app-hailed ride service, according to Bloomberg Business.

Google is working on multiple ventures, including a driverless, self-driven car. Google is also an Uber investor, after the company sank $258 million in Uber in 2013.

Bloomberg believes that Google's ride-hailing service will be launched "most likely in conjunction" with the "driverless car project."

The project is so real that Uber is close to asking David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer who has sat on Uber's board since 2013, to resign his position, Bloomberg reported.

Multiple companies are working on driverless cars, but Google's emergence as an Uber competitor rather than a partner might spell trouble for the San Francisco-based Uber.

Photo Credit: Illustration/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Super Bowl 2015: Top Moments on Twitter, Facebook]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 11:00:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/brady-belichick-sb49-win-462644256.jpg

Sunday’s Super Bowl battle between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks was the most-talked about NFL championship ever on Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants said Monday.

There were more than 28.4 million global tweets about the game and halftime show, surpassing last year’s 24.9 million tweets during the Super Bowl, Twitter said.

For Facebook, 65 million people wrote some 265 million Super Bowl-related posts, comments and likes.

Some of the game's highlights generated more buzz than Katy Perry's halftime performance and dozens of commercials.

The most popular moment on Facebook was the Patriots' win (1.36 million people-per-minute). This had the second highest volume on Twitter with 379,000 tweets per minute. Katy Perry’s “Firework” finale at halftime was the second most talked-about moment on Facebook (1.02 million people-per-minute); Perry's halftime show was third on Twitter with 284,000 tweets per minute.

When Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson one yard from the goal line with 20 seconds left in the game, Twitter exploded with 395,000 tweets per minute to become the top moment of the night. Butler’s move was the third most popular moment on Facebook, which sparked some 676,000 conversations per-minute.

Women between ages 25 to 34 were the most represented demographic in the conversation about the game on Facebook. The social media platform added that Tom Brady was the most-discussed New England Patriots player, and Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks.


Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 08:49:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Newsweek Criticized for Silicon Valley Cover]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:19:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Newsweek+sexism+in+tech+cover.jpg

Newsweek's latest exposé has social media in a frenzy over the choice of cover art.

To illustrate the "What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women" article, the American news magazine created a cover illustration showing a computer cursor lifting up the skirt of a woman in a red dress.

Billed by Newsweek as a report of the "sordid, shocking and systemic" sexism in the Northern California technology hub home to Apple, Google and Yahoo, the attention-grabbing art has pundits and social media users questioning its appropriateness.

"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of the analysis group Women In Media and News.

Newsweek editor Jim Impoco has not directly responded to the outcry but instead tweeted a line of approval taken from an Adweek review of the article, and also retweeted one commenter's reworking of the cover art to show the woman kicking the cursor away and her expletive-filled thought over the incident.


Photo Credit: Newsweek
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<![CDATA[Earth Observatory Launch Postponed]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:20:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/01-29-2015-smap-launch-satellite.jpg

The launch of a satellite that will help scientists study the moisture in Earth's soil, which could help guide decisions about water resources, weather forecasts and drought, was postponed until Saturday at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite launch was initially scheduled for a 6:20 a.m. PT Friday launch, but mission control scrubbed the launch due to upper level winds just minutes ahead of planned lift-off. The launch was re-scheduled for Friday morning, but delayed again due to minor repairs to the rocket.

The launch is scheduled for Saturday at 6:20 a.m.

The satellite is expected to provide the most useful soil moisture maps ever created, providing more accurate and timely information for weather forecasters, flood monitoring, climate change research and drought management, especially significant in California where a three-year dry spell has left the state's water reservoirs at critically low levels.

The satellite arrived at Vandenberg AFB, just northwest of Santa Barbara, from Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena in October.

"Water is vital for all life on Earth, and the water present in soil is a small but critically important part of Earth's water cycle," said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The delivery of NASA's SMAP spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base marks a final step to bring these unique and valuable measurements to the global science community."

After rocketing into space, the satellite will fly at an altitude of 426 miles and provide a global map of soil moisture every two to three days for the next three years. The topsoil observations are more frequent and accurate than anything previously provided to researchers.

"This mission could not be more timely in my view," said Kellogg.

The mission required JPL to build the largest rotating antenna that could be stowed in the satellite’s 1-by-4-foot compartment — about the size of a kitchen trash can. The antenna dish and unfurls to a diameter of nearly 20 feet after spinning out of the compartment like a lasso on an extending support arm.

"We call it the spinning lasso," said Wendy Edelstein, the SMAP instrument manager. "The antenna caused us a lot of angst, no doubt about it.

"We test, and we test, and we test some more. We have a very stable and robust system now."

Once fully deployed, the satellite will orbit Earth every 98.5 minutes, allowing it to map the globe every two to three days.

The satellite's radar system transmits signal to Earth that penetrate its soil and bounce back. Any changes in the electrical properties of the signals indicate changes in soil moisture. It is one of "the most sophisticated signal-processing" systems every developed, according to NASA.

The deployment process has been pre-tested from start to finish 18 times, Kellogg said.

The satellite is capable of telling scientists a lot about the condition of Earth's soil, including its freeze-thaw state. Determining whether soil if frozen or thawed helps researchers better plan for natural hazards.

Soil moisture is already closely tracked in developed agricultural regions, but in vast areas remains unknown.

The launch marks a milestone for NASA’s Earth science missions, which essentially monitor the planet’s vital signs. The satellite is the last of five program mission launches during a 12-month period.

The NASA mission will cost $916 million, according to the space agency. The observatory was assembled at NASA's Southern California Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The next launch at Vandenberg AFB, a Jason 3 satellite aboard a Falcon 9 vehicle, is scheduled for March 31. A launch scheduled for April 13 will blast a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)]]>
<![CDATA[Instagram Down for a 2nd Time This Week]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:15:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/158539421.jpg

The photo-centric social media site Instagram was down Wednesday night, just two days after it suffered a similar outage.

The website Is It Down Right Now showed the site as being down shortly after 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. By 10:40 p.m. ET it said the site was back up and reachable.

The site went down on Tuesday around the same time that Facebook, which owns Instagram, suffered a widespread outage lasting roughly 40 minutes.

Instagram has about 300 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.25 billion.

Users took to social media on Wednesday night to report the problem and the pain of not being able to post their photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Social Media Lights Up During Facebook Outage]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:31:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/THETRENDNOONMEDINA_1200x675_389914179993.jpg Facebook and Instagram are back up and running after a massive outage. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Apple Promotes MLK Day Volunteerism]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 07:06:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/8-22-2013-MLK-on-MEET-THE-PRESS.jpg

Apple is defending its policy on Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed nationally on Monday Jan. 19, after a Silicon Valley media blog called out the company for not making it a paid holiday.

The suggestion is that Apple is making a misstep, especially as tech companies are striving for greater diversity.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Apple, which confirms, while Monday is not a paid holiday, the company has encouraged employees to volunteer as a way to honor Dr. King. In turn, Apple, through its matching gifts program, is contributing $50 for every employee hour worked.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means government workers will have the day off.

In its article, Valleywag notes Bay Area-based companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo all give employees the holiday off.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Hackers Clone Fingerprints Using Photos]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:10:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150113-6pm-biometric-fingerprint_1200x675_384016963519.jpg European hackers showed how easy it is to clone someone’s fingerprint using public photos. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[The Wearable Drone That Swept CES]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:41:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drone-wear.jpg

Imagine combining a flying drone, with a wearable device.

And, while you're at it, add a camera, so you can take a selfie. While your wearable drone is flying.

That's the idea behind a small startup called Nixie, that got a ton of buzz at CES this year. Tucked into the Intel booth, Nixie showed off its wearable device, that comes with four bands. Each band has a propeller on it, and when disbanded, the Nixie can fly away for a bit, snap your photo, and then return to you.

"It's basically like a boomerang," says Nixie co-founder Christoph Kohstall, "but easier to throw."

It's a lightweight device, alright, one clearly in its early stages. Nixie won a wearable contest at Silicon Valley tech giant Intel, got a slot at CES, and wowed the tech-shellacked crowd. Now, on its website, it's posting job listings.

The goal, in addition to stimulating instant oooohs and aaahs, is to let you continue to be active, while still taking your own picture. According to Kohstall, "Most cameras give you the point of view you have yourself. We want to develop a camera that captures you in the moment."

It's an interesting idea, and because it seems to be their moment, the small staff of Nixie has a bit of a runway to make it work.

Scott flies on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Partner With Facebook, Bing For Amber Alerts]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:41:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Facebook-generic-1.jpg

Facebook and the federal government announced that they are working together to fight child abduction. Get ready to see an Amber Alert pop up in your news feed.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday - National Amber Alert Awareness Day - that it is teaming up with the tech giant as well as search engine Bing to expand the reach of the Amber Alert system.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a video message Tuesday morning and in it said the Amber Alert system has been key as an early warning system to find abducted children.

It’s been nearly 20 years since the system first started and it is credited with the rescue and safe return of more than 700 abducted children.

The alert has already been expanded to highway signs and mobile phones, and now the attorney general and the tech companies say social media is a logical place to send alerts and increase the number of children returned safely.

“Facebook’s geo-targeted alerts and Bing’s online broadcast tools will give Amber Alerts an expanded social media and Internet presence – extending our web of child protection resources into new and critical areas,” Holder said in the video. “I am grateful for their involvement, and for the participation of so many organizations and agencies that have helped to make the Amber Alert system such an important public safety asset.”

The Attorney General went on to say that finding an abducted child and returning them to safety depends on a fast response, and nothing is faster than the Internet.

“When an Amber Alert is activated, think of Facebook as the world’s largest neighborhood watch,” said Emily Vacher, Facebook’s Security, Trust & Safety manager.

“We’re sending detailed, relevant, timely information to people who use Facebook so they can open their eyes, they can look around their community, and hopefully find that one tip that will bring the child home.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CES Theme is "Year of the Robot"]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 19:07:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CES2015MEDINA_1200x675_381379139781.jpg Robot maids, motion sensor jackets ... sounds like the Jetsons, but it's real enough at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.]]> <![CDATA["Personal Transportation Device" Among CES Debuts]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:06:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_mekahlo_trend_noon_1200x675_381307459723.jpg Personal transportation device that moves at up to 6 mph among new tech items to debut at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Jan. 7, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Home Companion Robots at CES]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 08:20:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/01-07-2015-robot-ces.jpg People will soon be able to have their very own robot friend, which was showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mekahlo Medina reports for Today in LA on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Gadgets Unveiled at CES 2015]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 11:40:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*160/knbc-ces2015-4k-drone.jpg The International CES show for consumer electronics is full of surprises, including the future of driverless cars, curved TVs, remote-controlled skateboards and more.

Photo Credit: Kenny Holmes]]>
<![CDATA[CES International Tech Show Opens in Las Vegas]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 19:47:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP965047133929.jpg It's the day tech geeks have been waiting for. The doors are open at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sony Set to Release New High Quality Sound Walkman]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 10:10:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZX2_close_up.jpg

Is the Walkman back?

Sony has unveiled a new Walkman that it says will deliver a "pure sound quality for a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience." But that experience will cost you.

The new ZX2 Walkman, revealed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will provide an "unparalleled listening experience" at a price of $1,119.99.

How will the device deliver such a high quality sound? The new walkman has an S-Master HX processor that enables it to carry songs in “high resolution,” meaning each song will be around 150MB, according to Time.

Most CD’s and MP3 players carry compressed versions of songs that are a fraction of that size.

The larger size will allow songs to have more detail, and consequently the device will provide “a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience,” Sony said in a statement.

The Android-powered device also features a 4-inch touchscreen and a battery life of up to 60 hours.

It will also be able to reach apps through Google Play, though it isn’t meant to be a competitor of smartphones, according to Business Time.

The first Walkman, a portable cassette player, went on sale on July 1, 1979, and went on to become a defining product for Sony in the pre-Apple iPod and smartphone era. Other Walkman-branded players were later created for CDs, the Mini-Disc and MP3s.

More recently, an '80s-era Walkman was prominently featured in the blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Sony's new Walkman ZX2 is set to hit the markets this spring, Time reported. 

Photo Credit: Sony]]>
<![CDATA[Tuesday at CES: Electric Skateboard]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 09:31:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/6AM_Mehahlo_CES_2015_PKG_1200x675_380606531905.jpg What's happening Tuesday Jan. 6, 2015 at CES in Las Vegas? A whole new twist on skateboarding. ]]> <![CDATA[All About That Bass: Music at CES]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 23:43:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/IMG_2038_speaker.JPG

"Hey, Mrs. Carter."

Whoever it is that calls out to Beyonce in the song has never sounded better.

And neither has a ton of bass.

I'm listening to the newest speaker from the French company Devialet, and it's a revelation. In a CES that will no doubt be dominated by drones, and droning on, it's a pleasure to have just a little time alone with some terrific sounding music.

"Billie Jean," for example, is a song I've heard 435,000 times. It's a classic. But today I heard parts of it I never knew existed. Something about a high-end speaker from a company that builds them, and sells them for more than $20,000 a piece.

Devialet chose CES to bring its system to the masses. Well, the well-heeled masses. The "Phantom" is still going to about $2,000. Much less than the high-end model, but it's really made for audiophiles who want a stylish speaker to go with their pumping Bass. (Although, to be fair, it's not just the stuff I listen to that sounds great. Segueing into "The Girl From Ipanema" proves that quiet, smooth music can be improved with a quality system, too).

Devialet boasts dozens of patents to bring you the music. The speaker actually moves as the sound changes, thanks to air being pushed inside. It's cool to watch. But away from the technology, they say music is really about what you feel. Quentin Bernard, Devialet Product Manager, says "by bringing the product to a larger market, people will be able to rediscover the emotion of music. This is our goal."

It's a good goal, and the speaker sounds great. It's wifi-enabled, so you can stream your iTunes playlist, or your Spotify. Buy a few of them, and you can wirelessly listen to movies in your home theatre.

And if you can afford it, my advice is: Crank it up. Even fancy speakers are made to blast your "Yonce.

Scott Budman will be cruising CES. Get his updates by following him on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Scott Budman / NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Wearable Tech, 3-D Food Among Preview Items at CES]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 05:59:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_mac_ces_ring_6_1200x675_379960387835.jpg Connected homes, wearable technology and 3-D printed food are among the items previewed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 6 on Jan. 4, 2015.]]>