<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usWed, 01 Jun 2016 00:37:19 -0700Wed, 01 Jun 2016 00:37:19 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Neighbors of Airbnb Houses Now Free to Complain]]> Tue, 31 May 2016 19:47:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/airbnb-stock-image-airbnb-generic.jpg

Airbnb provides the opportunity for guests to rate hosts, and vice versa. Now, neighbors of Airbnb listings can chime in.

Coined "Airbnb and your neighborhood," neighbors next to Airbnb houses can express their concerns or complaints directly to the company, according to the Airbnb blog.

Neighbors are free to rant about noise, parties, trash or other disturbances. Any submissions will be anonymous, according to Airbnb.

"We’ll treat each case seriously and ensure that we give hosts and their neighbors the opportunity to resolve concerns themselves, whenever possible," Airbnb said on its blog.

Once a complaint is submitted, Airbnb will verify the email address and create a case number, according to the blog. The company promises to follow up within five days and says it will suspend or kick out Airbnb hosts who repeatedly ignore the rules.

That was something that could have been helpful to Donald Garner, of Los Altos, whose neighbor's Airbnb rental became a repeated "party pad" for hundreds of teenagers.

"It wasn't the first time," Gardner said about the parties. "It was the third weekend in a row."

Los Altos police Chief Tuck Younis said on that third occasion, about 300 teenagers had rented the house, and when officers arrived, the partiers scattered throughout the neighborhood, causing damage.

That Airbnb rental was taken off the website the day after an NBC Bay Area story aired about it last summer.

It remains empty, and neighbors aren't sure what it will be used for.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Why Not Use Streaming Technology for Aircraft Data? ]]> Sun, 29 May 2016 14:27:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/VoiceRecorderAircraft-GettyImages-461475586%281%29.jpg

The use of black boxes to record critical flight data is striking many experts as antiquated, even though technology exists to stream information from an aircraft to a ground computer, according to NBC News. 

The system doesn’t continuously send data to ground-based computers, but activates in the event of an abnormal occurrence, sending data to the airline to analyze. The airline can then apply corrective action. 

The streaming devices are similar to the hardware used in black boxes on aircraft for decades. In the event of a plane crash, the data transmitted can help searchers pinpoint a specific search location. 

The technology hasn’t been widely adopted, mainly because of the cost. FLYHT Aerospace Solutions, a Canadian company, provides an on-demand black box at about $100,000 per plane.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg to Raze, Replace Four Homes]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 19:40:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_690435554351.jpg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is creating more space around his Palo Alto home.

The billionaire and his wife, Priscilla Chan, plan on razing four homes surrounding his property on Hamilton Avenue and Edgewood Drive and replacing them with smaller ones, according to an application submitted to the city last week and plans posted Monday.

Zuckerberg paid $30 million for the homes in 2013, well over the market rate, because he was concerned about privacy, according to The Mercury News.

The couple filed the application to demolish the existing homes and build new ones that would be 20 percent smaller.

The Crescent Park neighborhood association says it understands the couple's need for privacy, but it worries about how they will use the surrounding properties.

"Is he gonna use them to house guests?" said Norman Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association. "Is he going to sell them to ordinary families so they'll have a home to live in? Is he going to house employees there?"

A letter from the property managers dated May 16 was distributed to neighbors informing them of the application, The Mercury News said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Postpones Rocket Launch, Attempted Landing]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 17:48:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_40364550147.jpg

SpaceX postponed the satellite launch of a rocket that would attempt to land on a ship at sea for a third time Thursday, NBC News reported.

The launch was postponed until Friday, because of a “tiny glitch in the upper stage engine actuator," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted

The Thaicom-8 commercial communications satellite will lift off atop SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. After the rocket’s two stages separate, the second one will carry Thaicom-8 to orbit. The first one will come back and try to land on one of SpaceX’s two drone ships stationed off the Florida coast.

"As with other missions going to geostationary orbits, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing," SpaceX wrote in a statement. 

The landings are part of SpaceX’s effort to develop usable rockets.



Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters' Drone Use Grows]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 15:32:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2016-05-25-drone.jpg

As firefighters braved the smoke and flames from the ground and rooftops, a small object soared above their heads Wednesday morning, trying to assist their efforts as a five-alarm fire ripped through a Santa Clara, California, strip mall.

The drone was sent up by the Santa Clara Fire Department volunteers to try to pinpoint how to best fight the blaze, which affected about a dozen small shops and restaurants in the Koreatown mall.

The use of drones by fire departments and police agencies has grown across the country from Connecticut to Spokane, Washington, though there are some controversies and hurdles surrounding their use.

"It's not a perfect application for every fire," Santa Clara Fire Chief Bill Kelly told NBC Bay Area. "But a view from that vantage point helps us figure out tactical methods, like where to put the hose stream."

Kelly said the quality of the hobbyist drone isn't all that great, and the video doesn't provide deep thermal images. "But it was useful today," he said. "It gives you a bird's eye view."

Santa Clara police began using an amateur drone a year ago, and nearby Menlo Park has been using them, too. Coincidentally, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman announced on Wednesday that his fire agency was the first in Northern California to be authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones. His department will be using three drones: the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, the DJI Inspire One and the DJI Phantom 4 that use thermal imaging, visual tracking of moving objects, collision avoidance and other high-tech features. It took the Menlo Park Fire Department more than two years to be approved through an "onerous" procedural process, Schapelhouman said.

There are basically two types of drones — ones used by hobbyists and ones used by the military, explained CalFire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff. And there are a few types in between, including commercial-style drones used for crop spraying and making movies.

CalFire does not own either of the types, she said. Rather, the state agency borrows U.S. Forest Service-owned, military-grade drones that can fly above 10,000 feet to document how large fires have spread, find hot spots and survey damage. The California National Guard in 2013 operated the MQ-1 "Predator" over the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park to stream real-time video down to the command post.

At this point, CalFire is doing some research into whether a non-military-grade drone, which flies more directly over the scene, would be of practical use, Tolmachoff said, noting their use is gaining in popularity with local departments, such as Santa Clara.

While the images could be helpful, Tolmachoff said, there are challenges with using drones, too. The small aircraft can get in the way of large firefighting helicopters dousing the fires with buckets of water.

For example, a private drone hindered CalFire efforts in June 2014 as firefighters were fighting a fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and a hobby drone prevented CalFire from launching air tankers during the San Bernardino wildfire last July.

Coordinating between the drone and the helicopter — so that they don't crash into each other — would be a large effort. "One of those drones could bring down a chopper," Tolmachoff said.

Any kind of technology has advantages and disadvantages, said DroneLife.com editor-in-chief Frank Schroth, who nevertheless added that he is a staunch drone advocate.

Flying drones takes skill and practice, he said, and shouldn't be taken lightly, just as a driver wouldn't get behind the wheel without lessons and a license.

Schroth compared drones today to smart phones 15 years ago - there is a lot of room for growth and improvement.

"There is plenty of room for abuse," he said. "But as with anything, it has the potential to do a lot of good."

]]>
<![CDATA[New Prosthetic Arm Offers Life-Like Touch]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 16:12:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_prostheticarm0523_1920x1080.jpg A unique, thought-controlled prosthetic arm developed in part by the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington, uses the the body's nerve signals to control movement.]]> <![CDATA[Airbnb Slapped With Suit for Discrimination, Violation of Civil Rights]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 17:00:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AIRBNB5.jpg

Airbnb was slapped with a proposed class action in a Washington D.C. federal court Tuesday for allegedly violating the fair housing act and the civil rights of its African-American users.

The complaint alleges that 25-year-old Gregory Seldon was denied accommodation in Philadelphia in March 2015 because of his race. Seldon is filing the class action on behalf of all users who may have been discriminated on the basis of race.

Seldon claims he was looking for housing while planning a weekend getaway with friends, and decided to use Airbnb as a cost-effective housing alternative. He connected to Airbnb using his Facebook login, so it displayed his profile picture, race, education and age to the site's host agents.

He claims an Airbnb host rejected his initial application but subsequently accepted the same application when Seldon re-applied using profiles imitating white men, one under the name "Jessie" and another under the name "Todd."

This is hardly the first time Airbnb has been accused of not doing enough to combat discrimination on its platform.

The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack went viral earlier this year, with people flocking to Twitter to share stories about discrimination they felt while using the site. A Harvard study published two years ago also found that people with "distinctly African-American sounding names" were less likely to have their applications on the site accepted than their white counterparts.

Airbnb has repeatedly denied that it condones racism on its site. The company's anti-discrimination policy states that ""content that promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group, and we require all users to comply with local laws and regulations."

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<![CDATA[LinkedIn: Millions May Be Affected by New Data Leak]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 14:57:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/linkedin+logo.jpg

LinkedIn is aware of a set of over 100 million users' data that may have been released online by a hacker, the social media network said Wednesday.

The password and email data that have apparently been released came to the company's attention Tuesday, Chief Information Security Officer Cory Scott wrote in a blog post. It appears the data was taken during a known security breach in 2012, after which the company required any users they believed were affected to reset their passwords.

"We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords," Scott said Wednesday.

The stolen passwords were hashed, a form of encryption, LinkedIn says.

In the wake of its initial 2012 hack, which LinkedIn believed resulted in 6.5 million hashed passwords being leaked, it added an extra layer of protection called "salting."

Motherboard reports that the hacker, who goes by the name "Peace," listed 117 million emails and passwords on a hard-to-access web marketplace for the equivalent of about $2,200. A search engine for paid hacked data also told the news agency that it acquired the data, providing a sample of almost one million credentials and claiming to have hacked nearly all of them.

LinkedIn suggests that users enable two-step verification (which sends a text or email to a person who's logging in from an unrecognized device) and strong passwords.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Shuttle Fuel Tank Arrives for Final Leg of Journey]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 16:55:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/05-18-2016-shuttle-tank-et94.JPG

The lone remaining external fuel tank from NASA's space shuttle program arrived early Wednesday in Marina del Rey for the final leg of its journey to the California Science Center.

The rust-colored tank, aka ET-94, was transported on a barge during a month-long sea voyage from a NASA assembly plant in New Orleans. The 15-story, 32 1/2-ton tank was never used and will become part of the Science Center's display that features the retired Endeavour space shuttle — which made its own celebrated trip on Los Angeles' streets to Exposition Park after a spectacular Southern California flyover on the back of a jumbo jet.

ET-94 began its journey to Los Angeles on April 10 when it was pulled out of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Two days later, it was tugged into the Gulf of Mexico to begin a sea voyage that took it through the Panama Canal.

The transport crew made headlines during the trip when crew members helped rescue four people who abandoned a sinking sportfishing boat off Baja, California.

A tugboat pulled ET-94 out of San Diego waters Tuesday morning, and the barge floated out of the fog and toward the dock around 6 a.m. Wednesday in Marina Del Rey.

"I think this is awesome, couldn't wait to get down here this morning," said resident Dean Reutter.

The tank will remain at the marina until about midnight Saturday, when it is scheduled to begin a slow, 12-mile journey to the Science Center that will likely continue into Saturday night.

The caravan will travel — at about 5 mph — down Lincoln and Culver boulevards, to Westchester Parkway, then through Inglewood on Arbor Vitae Street to La Brea Avenue, past the Forum, and north on Vermont Avenue to the museum. It will be joined to Endeavour and, eventually, two booster rockets at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

"This will be the only place in the world where a whole space shuttle stack with real hardware will be available," said Science Center President Jeffrey N. Rudolph.

The shuttle stack will be available for viewing next week.

The external tanks, which provided the shuttles with the propellants needed to enter space, were designed to detach from the shuttles and disintegrate as they plummeted back to Earth. ET-94 is actually made up of three tanks: one for oxygen, another for hydrogen and a third collar-like intertank that connects the two others.

The external tank also provided structural support for the shuttles and booster rockets when they were upright on the launch pad.

The ET's skin was coated with polyisocyanurate foam, which protected the tank from heat and helped maintain the proper temperature for the propellants it contained. Its job was done about 8 1/2 minutes after launch when it was jettisoned from the shuttle.

Most of the tank disintegrated in the atmosphere; the rest splashed into the ocean.

NASA used three types of external tanks for the space shuttle program: standard weight, more advanced lightweight tanks and super lightweight tanks. ET-94 is considered a lightweight tank, commonly used throughout the 1990s.

ET-94 was delivered to NASA in January 2001 and, although it was never used in flight, investigators looking into the 2003 Columbia disaster examined the tank in search of possible problems that might have led to the re-entry break-up that killed seven crew members. The team dissected foam coating from parts of the tank, which explains why there are pieces of foam missing from ET-94.

The tank will be restored before it joins Endeavour on display.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Exec on Losing Husband]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 11:45:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CAL+GRADUATION+-+14400209.jpg

Commencement speeches usually strike a celebratory tone, but Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg went against the grain Saturday while addressing UC Berkeley grads and spoke publicly for the first time about the tragic death of her husband.

"His death was sudden and unexpected," Sandberg said. "For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief — what I think of as the void — an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, and constricts your ability to think or even to breathe."

Sandberg’s husband, Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg, died of a cardiac arrhythmia while the couple was vacationing in Mexico in May of 2015.

During the speech, the “Lean In” author told students about how the sudden loss affected her, and how she came out of that grief with a stronger sense of self.

"I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss," she said. "But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again."

She said she hopes students will take her words to heart and acknowledged that they too will face immense challenges.

"When the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it."

She continued: "It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are," she said. "You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[WordPress to Offer .Blog Domain Extensions ]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 13:29:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LaptopTyping-GettyImages-500231363.jpg

Website hosting service WordPress.com will offer .blog domain extensions for Internet users later this year, NBC News reports.

The domains will be up for grabs this year. Anyone interested can sign up to get notified when they’re available to the public. 

"With a top-level domain like .blog, you can get a name that truly matches your identity," WordPress.com said in its statement. 

Registration prices for the .blog domains haven’t been finalized yet, but they will be in “standard range for new top-level domains with some premium pricing for higher-value names,” the company said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images – File]]>
<![CDATA[Yahoo Working With Congress After Ransomware Attacks Reported on House]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 04:10:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/YAHOO_AP_1603102305581417.jpg

A recent attack from "ransomware" to the House of Representatives prompted Congress to work with Yahoo on security issues, NBC News reported.

The House Information Security Office advised representatives late last month that it had blocked access to its networks from Yahoo Mail accounts because of the attacks, the business and tech site Fast Company first reported last week.

The attacks used web-based services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail, the IT office said in a memo to members, but "the primary focus appears to be through Yahoo Mail at this time." There was no immediate indication that the attacks extended to the Senate.

According to the memo, the attack uses a social engineering and phishing strategy by generating an email that appears to be from a trusted source. The email includes an attached .ZIP file that, when clicked, injects code that encrypts all files on the recipient's computer — including files shared with other users.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hyperloop Technology Unveiled]]> Wed, 11 May 2016 20:09:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hyperloop_Technology_Unveiled_1200x675_684013123736.jpg Hyperloop One's uber-fast transportation technology was tested in the desert near Las Vegas, giving viewers a preview of the possible future of transit. Mekahlo Medina reports for the NBC4 News at 5 & 6 p.m. on May 11, 2016.]]> <![CDATA[Elon Musk Sleeps at Tesla Factory 'Quite Frequently' ]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 02:09:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_540376079789.jpg

If you’re ever wondering where the CEO of Tesla is in the middle of the night, he’s most likely sleeping — inside the Tesla factory.

To ensure that all production targets are being met — Tesla hopes to produce 500,000 cars a year by 2018 — Musk has a sleeping bag in a conference room right next to where the cars are being manufactured.

"I'm personally spending an enormous amount of time on the production line," the billionaire tech icon said to analysts over a conference call after Tesla released its first quarter earnings results last week, Mashable reported.

Old habits die hard, because this isn’t the first time the ambitious exec calls his workplace a second home.

"Almost every day, I'd come in at seven thirty or eight a.m., and he'd be asleep right there on that bag," one former colleague recalled. "Maybe he showered on the weekends, I don't know."

Tesla held a job fair over the weekend to fill hundreds of positions at its Fremont factory following skyrocketing demand for its high-priced, eco-friendly cars.

But skeptics question whether Tesla can meet customer demand. So far, sales for its Model S has been strong, the Model X is still something of a question mark, and orders for the Model 3 were through the roof .



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Father and Son Create Kid-Friendly Smartphone Plan]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 13:21:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-ty-stokols.jpg

Eight-year-old Ty Stokols didn't think it was fair his friends couldn't text him, so he's been working to fix that. Ty and his father Stephen Stokols, CEO of FreedomPop, have designed a kid safe smartphone plan that protects kids, but still lets them play online.

The deal uses a $29.99 Motorola E powered by FreedomPop, an internet and mobile phone service provider based in Los Angeles. The phone is included in FreedomPop's kids pack, which receives 500 megabytes of data, 200 minutes of calling and 500 text per month for free. For $10 extra the device comes with parental controls like text monitoring, location tracking, site blocking and more.

Ty initially proposed the idea to his father so he could engage more with his friends outside of class.

"I wanted to text and play games with my friends, but they didn't have phones because their parents didn't trust them [on the Internet]," Ty said.

Through their research, the two found that parents weren't letting their children use mobile devices due to online dangers. Ty said he wanted to help solve the issue.

"I asked my dad if he could block the sites that their parents didn't trust," Ty said.

According to Stokols, Ty helped research what could be done.

"He actually started digging in and finding solutions, and so we realized we could come up with a kid phone," Stokols said.

They collaboratively adapted Ty's initial proposal and began working toward creating a more kid-friendly mobile device.

Stokols said parents were already looking for an alternative.

"It not only tuned out that it was good idea and he was validating real demand ... but it also turned out when we looked at it from a distributer perspective and some of the macro perspective, it was validated that people actually wanted this," Stokols said.

The FreedomPop kid pack plan is now for sale online at freedompop.com.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Prevents 'Face Book' Food]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 23:48:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/187265573-facebook-generic.jpg

A Chinese company has been denied the chance to release food and drink products under the "face book" brand name.

According to CNET, Menlo Park-based Facebook has emerged victorious after a Beijing court threw out a Chinese company's case to register "face book" as a trademark, and use it to brand items such as canned vegetables, potato chips, candy and coffee.

While the ruling will certainly put a damper on international attempts to profit off of the Facebook name, it might not abate the proliferation of cakes that look like Facebook popping up on the social media site and Instagram.



Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 Rocket at Sea]]> Fri, 06 May 2016 05:22:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_40364550147.jpg

SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform early Friday, following the launch of a Japanese communications satellite, NBC News reported.

Company representatives weren't optimistic of a successful touchdown before liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, because of the high altitude needed to send SKY Perfect JSAT Corp.'s JCSAT-14 satellite into orbit.

"Given this mission's GTO destination, the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely," SpaceX wrote in a mission description.

This is the first successful landing at sea for SpaceX, which hopes to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets that the company's billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, contends would cut spaceflight cost by a factor of 100.

"Woohoo!!" Musk exclaimed in a tweet after Falcon 9 touched down vertically atop a barge in the Atlantic Ocean. 



Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Urge Password Changes After Massive Cyber Attack]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 16:36:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/computer+generic2.JPG

Cybersecurity professionals are warning anyone with a personal email account to change their passwords after stolen user names and passwords were being offered up for sale on the Internet, NBC News reported. 

Some 272.3 million accounts were stolen - and involve some of the biggest email providers, including Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and Microsoft, according to Alex Holden of Hold Security. 

"We know he's a young man in central Russia who collected this information from multiple sources," Holden told NBC News. "We don't know the way he did it or the reason why he did it."

The user names and passwords were all being sold on the so-called “dark web,” where hackers hock their goods. Hackers use the stolen information to lure users into giving away more information, including credit card numbers and bank account access.

Experts say people should change their passwords regularly. Use abstract combinations of letters, numbers and characters that a criminal's computer program couldn't easily guess.



Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Says Service Back After App Store Problem]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 12:46:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/GettyImages-128349521.jpg

Apple said Thursday morning that "all users" were affected by a problem on its App Store that lasted from about 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., CNBC reported.

The service had not been "working as expected," Apple had said on its system status page. It appeared the store's search function was not working as it should.

For example, the first seven results of a search for "Google" did not show apps from the tech giant, CNBC reported.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Can Tesla Meet Demand?]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 11:37:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Large-car-winner-over-50k-Tesla-Model-S-70D.jpg

The timing could not be worse. 

Tesla Motors, facing a crucial earnings test after the bell Wednesday, announced that two of its executives left the company earlier in the day.

Greg Reichow, VP of Production, and John Ensign, VP of manufacturing, both resigned from the company. Tesla's CEO praised the two, while vowing to keep the company on track.

Meanwhile, Tesla investors, who have been an extremely optimistic lot, are watching the company closely for the earning numbers; not so much for profit/loss (expect a pretty sizeable loss), but for current and future car sales. The Model S has been strong, the Model X is still something of a question mark, and orders for the Model 3 were through the roof - investors will be looking for clues as to whether or not the company can deliver on that optimism.

As I write, shares of Tesla stock (TSLA) are down about 4 1/2 percent, dipping after the departure news got out.

Scott tracks Tesla on Twitter: @scottbudman

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<![CDATA[Facebook Pays $10K Reward to Boy for Reporting Glitch]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 13:22:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_351548094733.jpg

Facebook has given a $10,000 reward to a 10-year-old Finnish boy for finding a glitch in its photo-sharing app, Instagram, according to Reuters. 

"I wanted to see if Instagram's comment field could stand malicious code. Turns out it couldn't," Jani, whose last name was not released for privacy reasons, told Finland's Iltalehti newspaper. 

The boy is the youngest ever recipient of Facebook’s “bug bounty,” which is paid to users who find bugs or weaknesses in its platforms. 

"I could have deleted anyone's comments from there. Even Justin Bieber's," he told Iltalehti. 

Facebook said the glitch was fixed in February and the reward paid in March.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tech-Savvy Gang Members]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 04:45:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0502-2016-Smartphone.jpg

The FBI, in its latest national gang report, says the use of technology among gang members is creating "unique challenges for law enforcement."

Tech-savvy gang members staying a step ahead of police is also a concern for law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area. Members of San Jose Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force are not surprised gangs are increasingly using technology and war-time tactics to carry out their crimes.

A former gang member in San Jose also says he is not surprised gang members are using social media platforms and leaning on the "end-to-end" encryption technology to communicate with one another.

"They think ahead. They're innovators. They are inventors," said Pastor Sonny Lara, who runs the Firehouse Community Development Center in San Jose.

Lara, a former gang member, works to get kids off the streets and provides programs to get them back in school.

Gang members are also using old-school, Trojan horse-like methods to attack their enemies, including dressing like them.

"This new trend of wearing the opposing colors and getting closer to the enemy, being able to get to another area, another turf, another barrio without being seen as a red going into a blue territory, or a blue going into red," said Mario Maciel, who directs the San Jose Mayor's Gang Task Force.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Study on Why Some Sharks Glow]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 02:43:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Catshark-Glow.jpg

San Diego researchers have discovered that some sharks use their fluorescent glow to communicate with other sharks deep under water, and their research has provided some really cool images to show how it works.

Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, working with experts at the American Museum of Natural History, used a custom-built "shark eye" camera to do the research.

"This study provides the first evidence that sharks can see the fluorescence of their own species," said Dimitri Deheyn, a researcher at Scripps and co-author of the study. "It's not just beautiful but has an ecological purpose."

How does it all work?

Well, people and other land animals live in a full-color environment, but fish live in a world that's mostly blue, because water quickly absorbs most of the visible light spectrum the deeper you go. The research team figured out that many fish absorb that remaining blue light, and then re-emit it in neon colors of greens, reds and oranges.

Then researchers were able to take their findings a step further. They designed a camera that could capture that fluorescent light and they were able to capture a hidden universe.

They focused on two catsharks: chain catsharks and swellsharks.

The scientists went on a number of expeditions at Scripps Canyon in San Diego County. They observed swellsharks in their native habitat, about 100-feet underwater. The team stimulated biofluorescence during night dives with high-intensity blue lights in watertight cases.

The research team recorded the activity (which you can't see with the human eye) using the custom-built underwater camera. The camera had different sets of filters.

"The set of filters we used for the shark-eye had similar effects as if using yellow filters to see fluorescence, as commonly done by divers," Deheyn told NBC7. "The shark eye filter set is just more finely tuned to match the data collected from the eye."

The scientists mathematically modeled the images from the camera, and found that the contrast of the patterns on the biofluorescent sharks increases with depth. That suggests the animals cannot only see the light, but are also probably using it to communicate with one another.

"This is one of the first papers on biofluorescence to show this connection, and a big step toward a functional explanation for fluorescence in fishes," said John Sparks, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Ichthyology and a co-author on the paper.

The study was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.



Photo Credit: J. Sparks, D. Gruber, and V. Pieribone]]>
<![CDATA[SCOTUS Approves Rule Change to Expand FBI Hacking Power]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:01:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/USSupremeCourtBuilding-518005430+%281%29.jpg

The U.S. Supreme Court approved a measure on Thursday that would allow judges to issue warrants for computer searches in any jurisdiction. Civil liberties groups say it unnecessarily expands the FBI's hacking capability, while the Justice Department says it is a minor change necessary to modernize the criminal code.

Judges are normally only able to issue warrants within their own jurisdictions, which are typically small and limited to a few counties. A Justice Department spokesperson said the change is necessary due to the "anonymizing" capabilities that criminals use to conceal their identity and location, and that remote searches are the only way to track the suspects down.

Google and civil liberties groups said that the change is an attack on American's privacy and is counter to the U.S. Constitution's protections against illegal searches and seizures.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bad Apple: Apple Reports 1st Revenue Drop Since '03]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:37:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/iPhone-GettyImages-519233078.jpg

Apple says quarterly revenue fell for the first time in more than a decade, as iPhone sales fell compared with a year ago. That's putting more pressure on the world's most valuable public company to come up with its next big product.

Apple sold more than 51.2 million iPhones in the first three months of 2016 — while racking up $10.5 billion in quarterly profit. That was more than many analysts expected, but still fewer than the 61 million iPhones sold a year earlier.

The company is battling perceptions that its latest iPhones aren't dramatically different from previous models, as overall smartphone sales are slowing around the world. Apple also sells iPads, Mac computers and other gadgets, but nearly two-thirds of its $50.6 billion in quarterly revenue came from iPhones.

Revenue was down 13 percent from the January-March quarter of 2015. And the company surprised analysts by forecasting another revenue drop of 13 percent or more in the current quarter. The forecast drove Apple's stock price down more than 5 percent in extended trading Tuesday, after closing at $104.35.

Despite the decline, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said in an interview, "we continue to believe the iPhone business is very strong." But he added that Apple is expanding its other businesses. The January-March quarter includes $6 billion in revenue from online services, apps and other software, which was up 20 percent from a year earlier, but just 10 percent of overall revenue. 

Many were hoping the Apple Watch would be the company's next big hit when it went on sale one year ago. Apple hasn't revealed sales figures for the watch, but most analysts estimate the company has sold 12 million or more, producing well over $5 billion in revenue. That's more than twice the number of iPhones sold in the first year after the company introduced its signature smartphone in 2007.

But even as some owners say they're delighted with the Apple Watch, others have voiced disappointment that it doesn't do more. And critics say it hasn't ignited consumer passions, in the way the iPhone became a "must-have" product.

 "They need to come out with that next great product," Angelo Zino, a financial analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence, said in an interview before Apple released its earnings report Thursday. While he's optimistic about the company's future, Zino added, "Apple absolutely needs to start diversifying their revenue base."



Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Hanging Up on Robocalls]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 07:13:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/telephone-landline-robocall-04252016.jpg

Carol Hill quit answering her home phone because the calls are rarely from anyone she knows.

"I would say 90 percent of them are those," said Hill.

"Those" are telemarketing calls, robocalls ranging from carpet cleaners to solar energy. Even with the Do Not Call list, the Federal Trade Commission gets millions of robocall-related complaints.

Chris Sharp says he gets two to three telemarketing calls every day.

He doesn't screen his calls instead, "as soon as there is a little delay and you know it's not a person on the other end right away, I just hang up."

But there are services that help. PrivacyStar and Truecaller help screen calls. Time Warner Cable is now offering to block customer calls by using Nomorobo.

"If the number is on the block list," said Bret Picciolo with Time Warner. "It will ring once and then the call is dropped."

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif) wants the Federal Trade Commission to require all telecom customers to have access to call blocking services.

Bret Picciolo with Time Warner says if Nomorobo works with his customers, he won't hear much about it.

"If all is quiet on the front, then that means it's working," he said. 



Photo Credit: NBC7's Consumer Bob]]>
<![CDATA[Snowden Advanced Encryption '7 Years': Spy Chief]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 04:42:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SNOWDEN_AP_334678657241.jpg

Edward Snowden's revelations about the U.S. government's spying activities spurred advanced encryption technologies by "about seven years," National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Monday during a talk hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Commercially available software has become so sophisticated so rapidly, Clapper added, that it is a "major inhibitor" to the government's ability to collect intelligence on terrorists.

"From our standpoint," Clapper said, "it's not a good thing."

But in interviews with NBC News, digital rights and security experts were puzzled over how intelligence officials arrived at the seven-year figure.

"He's speculating on what would have happened if what happened didn't happen," said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy director of Access Now. "I'm not sure what metric he's using."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Toxic Old TVs Are Ticking Time Bomb for Environment]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 04:09:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TV_GettyImages-489056935.jpg

The global slump in commodities, marked by low prices of raw materials like lead and copper, is leading to old electronics being dumped and e-recycling companies improperly disposing of them, NBC News reported.

A Kentucky company was caught last year burying old TVs and other electronics devices in a 10-foot-deep hole in a field. These products contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, beryllium and cadmium

"We want to promote recycling the best we can," James Young, executive director of the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority in West Virginia, told NBC News. "But when it becomes such a burden, we can't expect municipalities to foot the bill."

Meanwhile, companies that used to recycle televisions for free, including Best Buy, are now charging customers to haul them away.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Solar Plane to Land in Bay Area]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 14:55:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-522899362.jpg

The pilot of a solar-powered airplane on an around-the-world journey said Saturday that stopping in California's Silicon Valley will help link the daring project to the pioneering spirit of the area.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard, who left Hawaii three days ago, said he hopes to fly over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge before landing in Mountain View on Saturday night.

"Can you imagine crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a solar-powered plane just like ships did in past centuries? But the plane doesn't make noise and doesn't pollute,'' Piccard said a live video feed on the website documenting the journey.

It's a priority to link the project we have with the pioneering spirit in Silicon Valley,'' he added.

The project's website says the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is 2 days and 4 hours into a three-day flight over the Pacific.

The aircraft started its around-the-world journey in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan. It's on the ninth leg of its circumnavigation. 

On Friday, Piccard exchanged pleasantries with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who hailed Piccard's pioneering spirit as "inspirational,'' telling him he was making history.

Piccard responded that Ban, too, was making history by having just presided over the signing of a climate agreement supported by representatives of 175 nations.

"What you are doing today in New York, signing the Paris agreement, is more than protecting the environment, it is the launch of the clean technology revolution,'' Piccard said.

The trans-Pacific leg of his journey is the riskiest part of the solar plane's global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.

After uncertainty about winds, the plane took off from Hawaii on Thursday morning. The crew that helped it take off was clearing out of its Hawaiian hangar and headed for the mainland for the weekend arrival.

At one point passengers on a Hawaiian Air jet caught a glimpse of the Solar Impulse 2 before the airliner sped past the slow-moving aircraft.

The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Hawaii in July and was forced to stay in the islands after the plane's battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan 

Piccard's co-pilot Andre Borschberg flew the leg from Japan to Hawaii 

The team was delayed in Asia, as well. When first attempting to fly from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii, the crew had to divert to Japan because of unfavorable weather and a damaged wing.

A month later, when weather conditions were right, the plane departed from Nagoya in central Japan for Hawaii.

The plane's ideal flight speed is about 45 kph, or 28 mph, though that can double during the day when the sun's rays are strongest. The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs more than 5,000 pounds, or about as much as a midsize truck.

 The wings of Solar Impulse 2, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[All-Male Gender Equality Panel Puts PayPal in Hot Water]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:49:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/paypal-logo.jpg

Paypal is catching flak following the announcement that it will host a discussion on gender equality in the workplace. The problem? An all-male panel is set to lead that discussion. 

The invite, which started circulating on social media Thursday, reads: "Please join us for a discussion with our senior male leaders...about how men and women can partner to achieve a better workplace." 

Many have questioned PayPal's suitability to host such a discussion in the first place, considering the company has an executive board composed of 15 men and only three women. 

Following the criticism, PayPal released a statement from its President of Unity saying that the invite was a missunderstanding, and that the panel is subtitled: "A Conversation with our Male Allies."

But the announcement only drew more ire.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[FBI Paid More Than $1M for iPhone-Cracking Software]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:24:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JamesComey-AP_1604052000313874.jpg

The FBI paid more than a million dollars for software to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, NBC News reported. 

"A lot, more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure,” FBI Director James Comey said during a security conference in London. 

The FBI director is paid about $180,000 a year. So multiplying that by 7.3 years yields a figure of about $1.3 million. FBI officials were not immediately available to confirm the figure.

Apple and the FBI were supposed to head to court in March, until the government said it found a way to get data off Syed Farook’s iPhone without the company’s help. Comey recently said the FBI “purchased” the technique from an unidentified third party.



Photo Credit: AP]]>