<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:52:14 -0700 Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:52:14 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Stanford Research Shows Achievement Gap Begins Early]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:15:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000006551656_1200x675_229846595656.jpg Could the achievement gap in school between minority kids and their white counterparts start as early as age one? Stanford University is doing cutting edge research in the heart of East San Jose - it involves looking into babies' eyes. NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo is live outside the Grail Family Services Center where the researchers have set up shop.]]> <![CDATA[Top Trending Buzzword: Emoji]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:46:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Emoji-Generic-SD-0417.jpg

Emoji. Futebol. Ghost Plane. We’re a quarter of the way into 2014 and those words – among various others – have been ranked the top trending buzzwords of the year, at least so far.

The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a Texas-based organization that tracks, analyzes and catalogues word usage trends around the globe, has just unveiled its list of the “Top Trending Words of 2014.” The words on the list are currently being heavily used on today’s most influential mediums, including the internet, social media, blogs, and print and electronic global media.

According to the GLM, the top word is “emoji,” as in those colorful, tiny icons often used in text messaging, emailing and social media posts. Gone are the days of using letters and words to communicate when you’ve got emojis.

Paul JJ Payack, GLM founder and chief word analyst says emojis are a sign of the times and a manner in which people express themselves, while adding to our broad vocabulary.

"Not only is the English language adding a new word every 98 minutes, but it is also expanding the basis of word creation. The alphabet, itself, is now expanding beyond letters to numbers, plus diacritical marks [emoticons], plus emoji [picture words]," Payack explained.

Other top trending words on the list include “futebol” – or soccer, as the globe gears up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – and “ghost plane,” as in one of the terms used to describe the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, or MH370, which vanished on Mar. 8 during a scheduled trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

“Climate Change” also made the cut, as well as “inflation,” “denier,” “mid-term elections,” “Crimea” and “pontiff.”

Buzzwords that recently made their way into the lexicon also made the list, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s gem, “conscious de-coupling,” and the big, bright “Blood Moon” from earlier this week.

Of course, Payack says this list is just a precursor to an even bigger list of top trending words and phrases of 2014, which will be released at the end of the year. Those year-end rankings will be part of the GLM’s 12th annual list of this kind.

The word-tracking organization says there are approximately 1,025,109 words in the English language – and counting – as of Jan. 1, 2014.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Journalist Says Google Glass Led to SF Assault]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:00:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/04-14-2014-Kyle-Russell.jpg

Google Glass appears to have inspired another attack in San Francisco.

Kyle Russell, a Berkeley-based tech reporter for Business Insider, had his Google Glass ripped from his face and "smashed on the ground" near the 16th and Mission BART station on Friday, he says. 

The attacker, a woman, shouted "Glass" before taking off with the $1,500 computer glasses, Russell said. Russell gave chase but before he could catch the assailant, she smashed the Glass on the ground.

She then "vanished," the Chronicle reported.

Russell had been in the Mission District covering an anti-Google protest, he said on Twitter. There had been a tech bus blockage that morning as well as a protest at an apartment building supposedly bought by a Google lawyer, who had moved to evict the tenants. 

Reaction to Russell's fate -- or, to be more accurate, the fate of his Glass -- ranged from solace-giving to outright schadenfreude, with perhaps a bit more of the latter from the anti-tech set.

Russell told NBC Bay Area he’s amused that critics seem to believe he was “flaunting” his wealth “as a techie, which is funny because I'm a journalist who lives in Berkeley.”

However, "I can see why the person who smashed my Glass did what they did," Russell said in a post summarizing the run-in and the subsequent reactions.

He recognizes that tech-fueled gentrification has pushed people out of their homes, and that his "love for gadgets" like Glass "makes me look and sound like one of the" oppressors, he wrote.

Earlier, a woman reported having her Google Glass snatched off of her face at a San Francisco bar. Sarah Slocum, a self-described tech PR writer, recovered her device.

Photo Credit: Karyne Levy]]>
<![CDATA[Google Is Letting Anyone in the U.S. Buy Glass – Only for One Day]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:07:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fb-04-14-2014-google-glass.jpg

Pining for Google Glass? You could snag your own pair today.

The tech giant opened up its "Explorer Program" to the general public for one day Tuesday, allowing any adult in the United States to purchase the technology for $1,500 plus tax on the Google Glass site. The limited number of Google Glass were available for sale starting at 6 a.m. PST -- 9 a.m. on the East Coast -- at this link.

The news of the sale created a buzz on social media, especially on Tuesday when many took to Twitter to either praise Glass or complain about the price.

The announcement about the sale, made last week via Google+ and Facebook posts, came after The Verge posted that it had obtained documents that indicated that Google will open up its "Explorer Program," making the personal wearable computers available to anyone.

"Whoops. So... we’d planned to post this next week, but it looks like the cat's out of the bag now," Google Glass said in its post. "Over the past several months, we’ve been trying out different ways to expand the Explorer program. Some of you signed up at Google I/O, some told us what you would do #ifihadglass, some were referred by a friend, some joined through their school or university. Our Explorers are moms, bakers, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better. But every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we’re trying something new."

Currently Google Glass is not available for sale to the public. Anyone who is over 18 years old, is a U.S. resident with a U.S. shipping address, can sign up for the restricted Google Glass Explorer Program.

Google said in its post that it will open up some spots in the Glass Explorer Program on April 15, without specifying exactly how many. They are even throwing in people's favorite shades or frames, thanks to feedback from current explorers.

As for everyone outside the U.S., here's what Google had to say:

"Sorry [sad emoticon] We’re just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries."


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[NASA Tests "Saucers" for Mars]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:48:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/rocket-sled-test-nasa-saucer.gif

The flying saucers of science fiction movies might be the shape of things to come for future Mars missions that are expected to involve larger payloads that today's landing vehicles are not equipped to handle.

The saucer-shaped landing systems in development, part of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator project, will be sent into near-space in June from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

Scientists provided a mission overview in a "clean room" Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Reporters were required to wear lab suits and hats.

"If you want to land bigger and bigger payloads, you need ways of growing the size of the vehicle to create more drag," said JPL's principal investigator Ian Clark, likening the vehicle to a puffer fish.

Current landing technologies rely primarily on parachute designs dating to the 1970s Viking Program. That design placed two landers on Mars in 1976 and the same basic technology was used about 35 years later when the Curiosity rover landed on Mars' surface.

After a parachute deployed high above Mars' surface, rocket thrusters were used to slow Curiosity's landing vehicle. The rover was then dropped by cables from the spacecraft and gently placed on the landing site before the tethers were disconnected and the spacecraft soared clear of the site.

NASA's landing vehicles in development would use the saucer shape to maximize atmospheric drag -- slowing and stabilizing the spacecraft after it enters Mars' atmosphere for final approach, a process described as "six minutes of terror." Increasing drag would save rocket engines and fuel required for complex landing maneuvers.

Friction already slows a spacecraft considerably after it enters Mars' atmosphere during the first four minutes of entry. But the spacecraft is still traveling at about 1,000 mph at that point and decelerates to about 200 mph after parachute deployment, which occurs at about 300 feet from the surface, according to NASA.

Thruster rockets, giant airbag cushions and tethers can all be used for the remainder of the descent, but the larger payloads possible in future Mars missions require something more advanced. The decelerators being developed by NASA -- pufferfish-like inflatable devices and an improved parachute -- can almost double payload mass, according to researchers.

The concept was ground-tested using a rocket sled in June 2012. The balloon-like inflatable devices extend around the vehicle to increase drag. A large parachute would then deploy to scrub off more speed.

The parachute is so large it did not fit in a wind tunnel, so researchers used the rocket-powered sled test at the U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake.

The upcoming test flights will give scientists a better idea of how the technology works when the saucer is sent high above Earth. The vehicles could be used in Mars missions as early as 2018, according to NASA.

When asked what was so sensitive about the project that it needed to take place in a clean room, Clark laughed, "It is the only space we had available."

Photo Credit: NASA]]>
<![CDATA[Must See: Giant Tetris Game Draws Crowd]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 04:28:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pa-tetris_1200x675_219161155683.jpg Hundreds of Tetris fans got to play a super-sized version of the popular interlocking shapes game in Philadelphia on Saturday.]]> <![CDATA["Mind Power" Headset Co. Gets $1M]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 07:12:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/2539517.jpg

Mind Solutions Inc., a San Diego company developing a headset that can operate smartphones and tablets through "mind power," said it received a $1 million funding commitment from an unnamed source, allowing it to further the development of its proprietary mobile headset.

The company has filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission with full details on the funding terms. Mind Solutions, which is a public company with shares traded on the Over the Counter stock exchange, said it plans to file its annual financial report, the 10K, within a week.

The company announced its desire to partner with or be acquired by a larger firm with greater resources in exchange for direct ownership in the headset device, Mind Solutions said.

The company said it’s been in discussions with interested partners and is seeking others.

The Business Journal is the premier business publication in San Diego. Every day online and each Monday in print, the Business Journal reports on how local business operate and why businesses leaders make the decisions they do. Every story is a dose of insight into how to run a better, more efficient, more profitable business.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Downtown Parking Mobile App in the Works?]]> Sat, 05 Apr 2014 17:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470542793.jpg

Finding parking in downtown San Diego can be difficult, but what if there was an app for that?

The nonprofit Civic San Diego has announced plans to scout out a developer that could create a mobile application and website that would provide real-time parking information to those who visit, live and work in downtown San Diego.

Right now, CivicSD is publicly requesting proposals for the “Downtown Parking District Mobile Application” from any and all interested developers, including proposals from local firms and small businesses.

The deadline to submit a response is 4:30 p.m. on Apr. 24. For materials and instructions on submitting a proposal for the app, click here.

According to CivicSD, the mobile app and website must include a map of the downtown area, filtering tools and “real-time data and information related to on and off-street parking, general parking information, graphics and photos.”

Ideally, the app will be compatible with multiple sources of data and provide GPS-enabled navigation to the parking destination.

The website will also include a map and filtering tools, just like the app.

The goal is to have the mobile app and website up and running by this summer.

As a consumer, what would you like to see included in this downtown parking mobile app? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mozilla CEO Quits After Backlash]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 18:54:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/04-03-2014-Brendan-Eich.jpg

Mozilla's newly-appointed CEO Brendan Eich has stepped down following calls for him to resign over his support for California's anti-gay marriage bill Prop. 8.

Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's board chairman, announced Eich's resignation in a blog post on Thursday.

"Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community," Baker said.

Eich -- who created the JavaScript programming language -- came under fire for a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 to support Prop. 8.

Eich's donation came under intense scrutiny over the last two weeks, and a number of people -- including Mozilla employees -- took to Twitter to criticize him. The dating site OKCupid joined the protest, calling for a boycott of the FireFox browser.

"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it," Baker's post said. "We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves. We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."

The Guardian reported that Eich has "repeatedly refused to discuss his donation to the Proposition 8 campaign, saying that to do so would violate Mozilla’s principle of inclusiveness."

“I agree with people who say it wasn't private, but it was personal,” he said of the donation in a Wednesday interview. “But the principle that I have operated by, that is formalised in our code of conduct at Mozilla, is it's really about keeping anything that's not central to our mission out of our office."

The Guardian also reported that Eich donated thousands of dollars to Right Wing Republicans such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan in the 1990s.

In a March 26 post on his website, Eich addressed lingering concerns about his stance on marriage equality.

"I am deeply honored and humbled by the CEO role. I’m also grateful for the messages of support," Eich said. "At the same time, I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results."

Eich went on to detail Mozilla's commitment to inclusiveness, adding that he was committed to ensuring that "Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion."

In her post, Baker underlined the importance of "diversity and inclusiveness."

"Mozilla supports equality for all," she said. "While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better."

Twitter immediately reacted to news of Eich's resignation, with some asking asking whether the resignation was the best way to address the issue.

Investor and entrepreneur Marc Andreesssen tweeted in support of Eich's contribution to technology, saying: "Brendan Eich is a good friend of 20 years, and has made a profound contribution to the web and to the entire world."

Others hailed the power of "clicktivism," praising OKCupid for its call to action.

<![CDATA[Local Law Enforcement Silent on Tracking Technology]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 10:49:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/03-31-2014-samsung-smartphone.jpg

NBC 7 has uncovered evidence that local law enforcement is using secret cell phone surveillance technology capable of pinpointing your exact location.

Civil liberty advocates call this kind of tracking highly intrusive and completely unregulated.

 A 2009 federal grant application obtained by NBC 7 shows the City of San Diego was interested in purchasing cell phone tracking equipment.

It’s called the Harris Corporation “Stingray II” cell phone tracking system and is described as a device “capable of tracking the signal of cellular telephones even if the person has disabled GPS capabilities.”

Court documents reveal in September 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice made the grant funding available.

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties calls the use of this technology “highly intrusive and completely unregulated.”

However, they say the bigger issues are a lack of government transparency and potential for 4th amendment rights violations.

“We don't know if they're seeking warrants when they're using the devices and the ACLU has real questions whether this device could ever be used in a way that is constitutional,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, the Policy Director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “[There’s] a fear of what the government will do when it's not transparent and not able to be held accountable.”

NBC 7 reached out to numerous local law enforcement agencies. The San Diego Police Department would not comment sending us this statement:

“It is a standard operating practice of the department to not disclose certain investigative tools and technology used to combat crime due to a variety of factors including compromising ongoing criminal investigations and revealing tactics used to gather intelligence information.”

The FBI provided a similar statement.

Special Agent Darrell Foxworth wrote, “As a general matter, the FBI does not discuss specific techniques used by law enforcement to obtain location information, as they are considered Law Enforcement Sensitive, the public release of which could harm law enforcement efforts at all levels by compromising future use of the technique.”

“The FBI only collects and maintains information that has investigative value and relevance to a case,” he added.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department told NBC 7 they do not have Stingray technology.

However, after filing a public records request, we found the San Jose Police Department sought feedback from our sheriff's department about the devices.

A sheriff’s spokesperson was not able to clear up the confusion.

“It's a big concern that this appears to be a widespread, a commonly used technology that there is no public information about,” Dooley-Sammuli told NBC 7.

This issue extends far beyond San Diego.

ACLU affiliates across the country continue to submit public information requests to law enforcement agencies to see who’s using Stingray devices and under what kind of restrictions, if any.

<![CDATA[The Best April Fools' Jokes From Across the Web]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:55:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chicken-april-fools86159934.jpg

Won't get fooled again? The Internet is full of so many April Fools' jokes that it's hard to trust anything online. Here are some of the most memorable hoaxes and gags from across the web on April 1.

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton parodied his wife, Hillary Clinton's, Twitter photo, which has taken on meme status over the last couple of years. Hillary's photo is of her back in 2011 when she was Secretary of State. The black and white photo shows her texting in sunglasses on a military plane bound for Libya. Bill's photo is almost an exact replica, except he's perched where she used to be and is holding an extremely large iPad.


The tech giant unveiled a legitimate update for Google Maps' iOS and Android apps that lets users hunt Pokémon around the globe. There are 150 of the creatures hiding across the world map. When you catch one, it's tagged in a Pokédex, a digital encyclopedia for Pokémon. The update was announced on Google's Japanese blog on Monday. The blog features a nifty video that's sure to excite Google and Pokémon fans alike.

Google also launched a new app in its Chrome Web Store that allows cats to type on smartphones using their paws. Like the Google Maps app update, this app actually exists; it's not just a gimmick. Features include "four pawing modalities using your trackpad or touchscreen" and "cat translation technology (beta)." Google claims new apps are coming for dogs, fish, hamsters and dinosaurs. Squirrels weren't left out of the mix either...


The video streaming service is tempting users with a brand new original movie: "Rotisserie Chicken." Except there are no actors or elaborate plot lines in this one, just 73 minutes of a rotisserie chicken being cooked in reverse. It's available until April 2, so if watching a juicy hunk of poultry travel backwards in time to its original raw state is your thing, you've got only a day to watch it.

Oh yeah, and there's also a 20-minute movie called "Sizzling Bacon" that's exactly what it sounds like, and just like "Rotisserie Chicken," it's backwards. One reviewer praised "Sizzling Bacon" as "an absolute masterpiece and Netflix's best original yet."


The social news site announced a revolutionary new way to browse Reddit, dubbed "headdit." By moving his or her head, a user can browse different links in Reddit. A user can simply frown to give a down vote and nod vigorously to give an up vote. A look of surprise will open a web link. Presenting a cat in front of the computer initiates "cat mode" (what "cat mode" does, we're not quite sure). "Headdit" uses "hand equivalent action detection" to accomplish this innovative way of browsing Reddit.

Sadly, the announcement was just a joke, and no such technological feat has actually been implemented.


The professional networking site jumped on the cat bandwagon with its new "Cats You May Know." The fake website update, which was announced on LinkedIn's blog, is supposed to connect professionals on the site with the feline community, and vice versa. On the blog, Peter Rusev writes, "Cats You May Know is designed to give pawed professionals an opportunity to brand themselves, share their unique skills, and network with both humans and other relevant cats in their breed." Maybe the cats could use Google's new paw-friendly app to access this faux LinkedIn page.


The taxi app is offering its users in New York a major discount along the Second Avenue subway route. The ride has been discounted down to $2.50 — the same price as a New York subway ride — as an April Fools' Day promotion. The discount lets people ride between 128th and Houston Streets at the discounted price, a steep drop from the normal price, which can top well over $20, depending on traffic.

The taxi's route follows the long-planned Second Avenue Subway line in Manhattan. Known as "The Line That Time Forgot," it was first proposed back in 1929 and has faced significant delays in its construction ever since.


The European Organization for Nuclear Research, operator of the world's largest particle collider, has announced that it is changing the font of its website to the much-maligned Comic Sans. "This is an important year for CERN and we wanted to make a bold visual statement," said CERN Head of Communications James Gillies.

The laboratory celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. It officially switches to the "round and squishy" font today. Chances are slim that it'll still be there tomorrow.

Domino's Pizza

The global pizza chain's British website announced an edible pizza box made entirely of crust. Described as "A world first in 'snackaging' innovation," the Edibox promised to transform pizza delivery and cardboard box recycling. To the disappointment of crust-lovers everywhere, Domino's tweeted that it was all an April Fools' gag.


Vegemite, the crude-colored food paste from Australia, makes many Americans' stomachs turn. But the yeast-based stuff — like its British counterpart, Marmite — is beloved by many. So it's no wonder that Vegemite's announcement that it's releasing a Vegemite energy drink was met with yays and nays on Facebook and Twitter. In the end, it was all just an April Fools' joke.  But that hasn't stopped wishful thinking from some.


The London-based restaurant chain announced via Twitter that it will be adding flavor to its utensils. The chain, which primarily serves Japanese ramen noodles, says it will introduce four flavors of chopsticks: soy, wasabi, chili and ginger. It's actually not a bad idea, but chances are the April Fools' concept won't stick.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Celebrates 8th Birthday With #FirstTweet]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 08:53:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/162211003.jpg

San Francisco-based Twitter is celebrating its 8th birthday with a #flashbackfriday trick that lets tweeps see their first post on the microblogging site.

Twitter set up a website, First-Tweets.com, to allow its estimated 214 million users to look back at their first 140 characters.

The move has users around the world reminiscing about their foray on Twitter. Since its start as a quirky messaging tool, the platform has taken off as a promotional outlet for news agencies, police, politicians and celebrities.

In a blog post, Twitter shared what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Twitter founder founder Jack Dorsey tweeted as novice users. Dorsey wrote: "just setting up my twttr." One of the more popular first tweets comes from Russian President Vladmir Putin, who congratulated president-elect Barack Obama on Nov. 7, 2012.

Check out your first post and have a look a few notable #firsttweets:

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Big Bang" Professor Speaks Out]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 10:56:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/03-20-2014-big-bang-prof.jpg

It’s been two weeks since Stanford physics professor Andrei Linde found out that his Big Bang theory was true, but he’s still reeling from the repercussions.

Since the announcement  was made public Monday, 2.4 million people on YouTube have watched Linde react to news that evidence from the BICEP2 experiment in the South Pole supports his cosmic inflation theory of how the universe began.

For many, the two-minute video felt more real than any glammed-up episode of reality television could ever be. Hundreds tweeted, Facebooked and GIF'd it, leaving no doubt that the news had sparked the beginning of many discussions on life, evolution and the universe.

Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, perhaps summed it up best in the New Yorker, explaining that the discovery could “allow us to peer back to the very beginning of time—a million billion billion billion billion billion times closer to the Big Bang than any previous direct observation.”

Linde called the media attention "a pleasant bump on the road."

“We are not exposed to this kind of attention, but that has changed,” Linde said Thursday. “We developed these ideas almost 30 years ago, nobody cared at that time, and only now they are being discussed seriously.”

So what exactly is inflation?

“Inflation is a brief stage of exponential expansion of the universe, which made the universe large and uniform, and produced the seeds for the large-scale structure of the universe,” Linde said.

He added that he is not entirely sure yet that his theory is true.

“I’m 95 percent convinced it’s true, but extraordinary statements need extraordinary proof. If these results are correct, they are among the most spectacular results in observational cosmology obtained in the 21st century. We should wait a little before they are analyzed and confirmed by other observers.”

As for his now-famous reaction on camera, Linde said that it was all real.

In the video released by Stanford University, assistant professor of physics Chao-Lin Kuo gets ready to deliver the good news to Linde.

“He has no idea I’m coming.”Kuo says into the lens, walking toward Linde's house.

“So I have a surprise for you,” Kuo tells Linde and his wife when they open their door. “It’s five sigma at point two.”

Linde’s wife, Standford professor of physics Renata Kallosh, says something that sounds like, “Discovered it?”

Then Linde asks Kuo to repeat himself again, and again, and then stops him mid-sentence, exclaiming: “Point two?”

Later, while celebrating over some champagne, Linde tells Kuo that the couple hadn't been expecting anybody and Renata had asked him whether he had ordered delivery from Amazon.

“Yeah,” he says in the video, “I ordered it 30 years ago. Finally it arrived.”

“My head is turning on my shoulders [since I found out],” Linde told NBC Bay Area Thursday. “There are some miracles about our world which do not allow us to sleep well … any results that support inflation, indirectly support the idea of the multiverse as well."

When asked where the discovery and subsequent validation of his theory falls in the pantheon of great scientific discoveries (Linde counts Einstein, Newton and Niels Bohr among his heroes), Linde said that although he wouldn’t compare it with quantum mechanics or the theory of relativity, it's really important to him.

“It’s changed our vision of life, the universe and our place in the world,” he said.

Photo Credit: via YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Stevie Wonder Touts Technology for Impaired]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 04:05:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Stevie-Wonder-SD-0320.jpg

Music legend Stevie Wonder was in San Diego Thursday, not for a performance, but checking out new gadgets showcased at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference.

The Grammy Award-winning hitmaker attended the event at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Diego.

There, he spoke with NBC 7 about the importance of assisted technology for those with disabilities and impairments, including visual impairment, such as Wonder himself.

“It’s always good seeing new technology that makes the world more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired,” Wonder told NBC 7.

“Imagine yourself not being able to see, and then all of a sudden, you’re able to get information that you would have never had available to you. That’s how important [new assisted technology] is,” he added.

Wonder made his way through the conference, visiting with friends and checking out gadgets. He wasn’t a keynote speaker or performing, just simply enjoying the event as an attendee.

In its 29th year, the conference filled an exhibit hall, highlighting products from more than 150 companies catering to those with hearing, reading and writing disabilities.

For instance, one product on display was a braille note-taking tool with a voice output system. Other examples of new technology included screen-reader devices that read out loud what is being typed.

The devices may look simple to some, but they can make a world of a difference for those who need it most.

Dinah Cohen has spent the last 23 years as the director of the Department of Defense’s computer electronic program, which provides these types of technology to wounded warriors. She also attended Thursday’s conference and said events like these are important in supporting soldiers returning home from deployment.

“I know when the first wave of wounded warriors were coming back, many had lost their vision, lost their hearing. And they had no idea where to start. And to know the technology is out there is step one of the recovery and process,” said Cohen.

Kathy Martinez is the Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy. Martinez says assisted technology helps her and others with their everyday tasks.

“Technology is the great equalizer. A lot of us cannot do what we do. I get upwards of 300 emails a day. Tthere’s no way I can ask someone to read them to me. So to have an iPhone or tablet that talks where I can actually hear what’s on the screen is critical for me to do my job,” she said.

Martinez says assisted technology also helps people with disabilities stay employed.

“That means we're paying taxes. That means were not on benefits and contributing to society," she said. "So accessible technology has a huge impact on society as a whole, not only on the person that has disability.”

The International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference is in town through Saturday.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Richard Branson to Speak in San Diego]]> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 11:50:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Richard-Branson-477100379.jpg

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is scheduled to speak at a biotech convention in San Diego this summer.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization announced Thursday that Branson will be interviewed as the keynote event for its annual event taking place in San Diego June 23-26, 2014.

Branson, 63, is the founder of the Virgin Group with a net worth of $4.6 billion, according to Forbes. That puts him at No. 6 among British billionaires.

Not only will he speak about his own company's accomplishments but will also talk about the importance of the biotech industry.

In November, Branson announced that NBC's TODAY would broadcast the inaugural commercial space flight of SpaceShipTwo.

He and his adult children, Holly and Sam, will be the first private passengers to travel into space on the spaceship from Virgin Galactic’s terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The BIO International Convention attracts thousands of attendees in the industry every year. For registration, schedule-at-a-glance, partnering, and exhibitor information, visit 2014 BIO International Convention.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery Tech Tenant]]> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:13:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/03-19-2014-sj-tech-office.jpg

Who’s the mystery tenant moving into San Jose's biggest-ever office park? That’s the million-dollar question everyone in Silicon Valley is scrambling to answer.

Speculation started flying as soon as San Jose city officials approved the 2-million square-foot office project on North First Street and Brokaw Road in North San Jose on Wednesday.

The list of potential occupants includes everybody from Seattle-based Microsoft and Amazon, to locals Apple, Google and Facebook.

So far, the only person at City Hall who reportedly knows the name of the company is San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, and he’s not talking.

"The company name is not something that I can divulge." Reed told NBC Bay Area. "They’ve asked me to keep it confidential and I will, but it’s obviously a pretty big deal for 2-million square-feet, it’s an awfully large space."

Reed added that it was a Fortune 500 company and people will recognize the name when they finally hear it.

"It’s a Silicon Valley tech company," he said. "There’s no doubt that there’s plenty of companies growing and we want to keep them here."

The project’s developers, Palo-Alto-based Peery-Arrillaga who are also behind Stanford's new stadium and the HP and Apple campuses, are not talking either. The firm did not immediately return requests for comment.

Reed underlined the importance of developing the North San Jose area in a September 2013 traffic impact fee incentive recommendation for large-scale offices and R&D campuses, including Peery-Arrillaga’s proposed project.

“With its superior urban design features and proposed high densities [the proposed project] is an excellent example of how we can achieve the objectives of the North San Jose Development policy,” the mayor said.

He added that he was committed to supporting developments such as the Peery-Arrillaga project, which, "when constructed and occupied" will bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue to the city.

Peery-Arrillaga was able to secure permits for the project in just six months and got the city to forgo $4 million in transportation impact fees.

The scale of the proposed project itself -- it's twice the size of Facebook's Menlo Park campus and more than two-third the size of Apple's planned "spaceship" campus in Cupertino -- has sparked quite a bit of interest. The site, located near Highway 101, where the Bay 101 Casino is located, is expected to house 8,000 to 10,000 employees in 10 seven-story buildings. There are also plans for an activity center with soccer fields and courts for basketball, raquetball and squash.

Reed says that he doesn't expect the tech pushback San Francisco and Mountain View are currently experiencing, in part because not a whole lot of people live in that area of San Jose.

"It's going to be a very iconic development for the city and for Silicon Valley," said Steve Piasecki, the city's interim planning official. "...You are going to know where the heart of Silicon Valley is in the not too distant future."

Although Piasecki said that there was enough infrastructure in place to handle the traffic impact caused by the proposed project, the city has already heared from concerned residents.

The proposed project is expected to break ground sometime in 2014.

Photo Credit: Peery-Arrillaga]]>
<![CDATA[Journalists React to News Helicopter Crash on Social Media]]> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 09:49:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chopper-crash-1.jpg

Two people were killed when a news helicopter for KOMO-TV crashed outside its station near the Seattle Space Needle, sending clouds of black smoke over the city during the morning rush hour.

WATCH: Helicopter Crashes Near Seattle Space Needle

Photo Credit: @meelataruc on Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Google Hangouts, Chats Restored For Some Users]]> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:44:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/466915567.jpg

Google restored service for some users after its chat services, which include Google Talk and Hangouts on Google+, went down on Monday.

The spreadsheet program Google Sheets was fully restored after it also experienced a "service disruption," the company said on its Apps Status Dashboard. Google resolved the issues for Sheets at 2:44 p.m. ET, the dashboard said.

Those trying to "GChat" were seeing messages that indicated recipients were not receiving chat messages, while chat tabs on Google+ said: "things are taking longer than expected."

An update on Google's Apps Status Dashboard at 12:22 p.m. ET announced a "service disruption" with Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts. Google announced the same issue for Sheets at 12:47 p.m. ET.

There was no word on what was causing the problems. In each case, the company said it was "investigating reports of an issue."


Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Navy Promotes Responsible Drinking With New App]]> Sun, 16 Mar 2014 07:35:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Navy-Pier-Pressure-App.jpg

U.S. Navy officials have found a modern way to promote responsible drinking among sailors. It’s simple: there’s an app for that.

As part of the Navy’s “Keep What You’ve Earned” campaign, which seeks to encourage safe drinking and smart decisions among sailors by celebrating the achievements in their Navy careers, officials are touting a new mobile app dubbed “Pier Pressure.”

The app – launched earlier this month by the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention office and available for download on the iTunes app store and Google Play – reminds sailors to think twice before drinking irresponsibly or driving under the influence.

Using the app, sailors can check their blood-alcohol level with a built-in BAC calculator or search for a safe, sober ride home using a local taxi search tool.

The app also includes different work-and-play scenario games that could have different outcomes depending on the decision made by a sailor. The point of the game is to advance one’s career, but players must make the right choices in order to succeed. The game can be played to determine how a night of drinking could impact work life and possibly get a sailor demoted in rank.

"In the game, the choices you make at the bar affect your skill level at work the next day, which in turn affects your player's evaluation reports," said Mike Aukerman, Alcohol Program Manager at NADAP, in a media release. "Just like in real life, smart drinking choices help advance your career, while poor choices can get you separated from the Navy – aka game over."

In order to develop the app to be user-friendly, entertaining and truly useful for sailors, the Navy tested the mobile app using feedback from more than 110 sailors.

"During the development of the Keep What You've Earned Campaign, we heard from young, enlisted Sailors that the best way to reach them was through their mobile phones," said Dorice Favorite, Director of NADAP, in a press release. "Pier Pressure will help Sailors understand how responsible drinking can keep their careers on track, and alternatively, how abusing alcohol can lead to serious consequences."

NBC 7 San Diego spoke with one sailor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carlos Oliva, who said he downloaded the app and thinks he will use it.

“I could see myself using the BAC calculator, which will help me determine how many drinks I could drink depending on the amount of hours out during St. Patrick’s Day,” said Oliva.

U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Mike Stevens told NBC 7 that the app, as well as the “Keep What You’ve Earned” campaign, is meant to remind sailors of the consequences of making foolish mistakes.

“We’ve seen too many sailors that have worked so hard to put their families and themselves in a position of success and the ability to serve our nation at the highest level. Then, they’ll go out and make a bad choice or choices and, essentially, within the blink of an eye, everything that they’ve worked so hard for and all that the Navy has invested in them is lost,” said Stevens.

To learn more about the ongoing campaign, which also promotes alternatives to drinking for sailors, visit this website.


Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Tops Forbes' Startup List ]]> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:18:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/186958891.jpg

If you have ever been interested in starting up a small business, it looks like San Diego is the place to do it.

According to Forbes, San Diego is the best place in the country to launch a business in 2014.

The company looked at the 50 most populous cities in the U.S.

Some of the components used to compile the list were business's credit card acceptance rates, online reviews and Facebook pages.

Forbes said San Diego is more likely to offer access to resources that benefit small businesses than those cities that don’t.

Read the full article here.

Denver, Colorado came in second place and Austin, Texas came in third.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apps, Gadgets Aim for Spring Break Safety]]> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:34:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/169937693.jpg

Spring break season is finally here, and thousands of college students are swapping their down jackets for bikinis and heading to resort spots.

Amid the crush of alcohol-fueled beach parties, it might be easy to forget about staying safe. Here's a list of easy-to-use gadgets and apps that aim to help you have fun and be safe.

1. Drinking responsibly.
College students can unfortunately be pretty immune to the idea of doing anything responsibly or in moderation, especially when alcohol is involved. But a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level could result in a DUI or worse.

Super tech-savvy drinkers may want to check out Breathometer, the world's first smartphone breathalyzer. (CEO and founder Charles Yim got over $1 million in funding from his appearance on the show Shark Tank and from an Indiegogo campaign.) The breathalyzer plugs straight into your iPhone or Android's headphone jack, and is priced at $49.

Other options that don't require a separate device are smartphone apps. If you're an Android user, AlcoDroid can help you keep track of all the drinks you've consumed – if you choose to log them, that is. iPhone users can download Last Call, a blood alcohol level calculator that also lets you call a taxi, or a local lawyer if you need one.

Although the results from BAC calculators are only estimates, they'll be able to help you pace your drinking and figure out whether or not you should get behind the wheel. (You probably shouldn't.)

2. Buddy system apps.
Whether it's checking out a bar or even hitting the restrooms, it's great to have someone with you to watch your back.

Cyber buddies are better than none: Circle of 6 is an app for iPhone and Android users that lets you message your six close friends if you feel like you're in trouble. You can send your GPS location with just a tap, ask a friend to pick you up or send a text that says "Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption."

Another good app to check out is SafeKidZone, which features include a panic button and a GPS tracking system for everyone in your family.

3. Testing for drugs in your drink.
It's a lot easier for someone to slip a drug into your drink than you might think.

To combat that possibility, several companies have crafted pocket-sized coasters that can test for the presence of incapacitating drugs in your drink. Just a drop of your drink on these coasters will tell you if your drink has been drugged. Texas State Technical College recently handed out 10,000 of these coasters to its students, just in time for spring break.

DrinkSavvy's drug-detecting cups and straws are also starting to make their presence known, starting in Massachusetts. These special cups and straws look and function just like normal drinkware, but they'll instantly change color if they detect such a drug in your drink.

4. Drunk text prevention.
Waking up to a slew of drunken texts after a night you can't remember is embarrassing and all too common. Good thing there are a bunch of self-censoring apps we can use.

Drunk Text Savior for iPhones will analyze your text message for spelling mistakes and swear words. A warning meter will let you know if you should click send, and a save option will let you save the message for later.

Stupid Phonecalls Blocker for Android users will only block one number, but it will block all incoming and outgoing calls, and incoming texts.

5. Getting home safe.
If you're looking for a designated driver, look no further than your smartphone.

StearClear (for iPhone and Android) and BeMyDD (for Android only) both provide pickup services: if you've already driven your car out that night, the app will dispatch two drivers to take you and your car home. BeMyDD also offers personal driver services that will drive you wherever you want, in your own car, at an hourly rate.

You can also rely on Uber to connect with drivers in the area. It's an on-demand service, which means you don't need to make a reservation, and you get picked up within minutes. Depending on which city you're in, you'll have different options for rates and vehicles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Vetta]]>
<![CDATA[Bad News for Amazon Prime Members]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:52:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/amazon-453056767.jpg

If you've ever wanted to sign up for Amazon Prime, you have a week to do so before a big price hike takes effect.

The cost of a standard "Prime" membership is set to set you back $99, up from $79. The $20 rate increase is Amazon's first since the program launched nine years ago.

Prime membership has expanded over the years to include free two-day shipping, free video streaming and a Kindle lending library.

The online retailer detailed the price changes in an email to subscribers. If an existing member's renewal occurs before April 17, 2014, the subscriber will be charged the previous rate of $79 (and $99 for renewals thereafter).

Amazon student memberships will cost $49 and "Prime Fresh" memberships will remain at $299. Prime Fresh members get free same-day and early morning delivery of orders over $35, including fresh grocery and local products found on AmazonFresh.com. It's currently only available in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The standard membership price bump now makes Amazon Prime slightly more expensive than Netflix, which runs just under $96 per year, based on a monthly $7.99 subscription cost.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCSD Study Shows Facebook Feelings Are Contagious]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:41:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/social_media_debate_president.jpg

New research from the University of California, San Diego, has found that feelings shared on Facebook – via negative or positive posts or status updates – are contagious among online friends.

The study, titled “Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks,” was led by UC San Diego professor of political science James Fowler and UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering PhD student Lorenzo Coviello, among several co-authors.

Published in “PLOS ONE,” the research analyzed whether happiness and other emotions are spread from person to person on social networks such as Facebook.

Using data from more than one billion anonymous status updates among more than 100 million Facebook users in the 100 most populous cities in the United States, the study found that positive posts beget positive posts, while negative posts beget negative ones.

According to the research, positive Facebook posts are more influential than negative ones, spreading the positivity among others. Each additional negative post yields 1.29 more negative posts among friends, while each additional positive Facebook post yields an additional 1.75 positive posts among friends, the study deduced.

In order to measure the emotional content of each post, UC San Diego says researchers used an automated text analysis software program called the "Linguistic Inquiry Word Count."

The study also found that rainy weather changes the mood of Facebook posts – and that mood change can be contagious. The research says rainy weather increases the number of negative posts by 1.16 percent and decreases the number of positive posts by 1.19 percent.

Upon analyzing friends living in different cities as those posting about the rain, researchers found that the moods of those being rained on impacted the moods of their dry friends.

“For every one person affected directly, rainfall alters the emotional expression of about one to two other people, suggesting that online social networks may magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony,” the study cites.

“Our study suggests that people are not just choosing other people like themselves to associate with but actually causing their friends’ emotional expressions to change,” said lead author Fowler. “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

Fowler said that in today’s digitally-connected world, it’s important to learn what can be transmitted through social media – including how much emotion can actually spread through social networks such as Facebook.

“It is possible that emotional contagion online is even stronger than we were able to measure,” he said.

This could have widespread implications, according to the researchers who write:

“[Emotions] might ripple through social networks to generate large-scale synchrony that gives rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals.”

Researchers suggest their findings could impact public well-being.

“If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then we may be dramatically underestimating the effectiveness of efforts to improve mental and physical health,” said Fowler. “We should be doing everything we can to measure the effects of social networks and to learn how to magnify them so that we can create an epidemic of well-being.”

Additional co-authors of the Facebook feelings study include UC San Diego political science graduate student Yunkyu Sohn; Adam D. I. Kramer and Cameron Marlow of Facebook; Massimo Franceschetti, also of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School; and Nicholas Christakis of the departments of sociology and medicine at Yale University.

<![CDATA[Developing Chip to Shield Water Supply]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:54:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/l_faucet1200.jpg

Researchers in San Diego are working to develop an inexpensive chip that would be able to detect 10 to 20 different toxins in a water supply.

Jeff Hasty, director of the BioCircuits Institute at UC San Diego, told NBC 7 his lab recently received nearly $1 million from a federal grant to develop the chip.

The project will use next-generation sequencing, synthetic biology and microfluidic technologies for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In addition to helping protect the nation's water supplies from terrorist contamination or accidental pollution, the device might well lead to patentable technology.

The hope is there will be a full model developed within 18 months. The key will be to keep the kits affordable with an ideal price point around $100.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Why the LIVR App Is Too Good To Be True ]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:09:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gizmodolivr.jpg

An app unveiled at this year's SXSW turned out to be a hoax intended to fool the media.

The parody app LIVR, named after the organ it will destroy while you use it, was billed as a social network that allows drunk people to meet other drunk people. Brandon Bloch, one of the creators behind the fake app, said the inspiration came to him while attending last year's Consumer Electronics Show.

"I was walking the tradeshow floor and saw apps that I thought were fake, but everybody thought they were real," Bloch told Gizmodo. "I actually couldn't tell if they were fake or real, and I wasn't sure if it mattered because everybody was so into the hype of it."

News sites and tech blogs around the web picked up the story as fact. But the Gizmodo report notes that there are a number of outlets who maintained a healthy dose of skepticism. Here are six reasons why LIVR was too good to be true:

A $5 Breathalyzer

To access the app, you're required to blow into a breathalyzer that plugs into the charging port of a phone and it will read your blood alcohol content (BAC). Once you meet the minimum BAC, you are good to go. However, $5 for a breathalyzer is too good of a deal. iOS breathalyzers attachments exist, but cost much more than $5. Breathalyzers are difficult and expensive to produce, Gizmodo notes.

Truth or Dare Game
This is a crowdsourced version of truth or dare, where you can post ideas for the game and dare people to accomplish a task. The more you participate in certain tasks, the more points are stacked up.

Drunk Dial™
With this feature, you can explore the opportunity of not having to accidentally drunk dial people in your personal address book. Drunk Dial™ will randomly connect two inebriated people, even if they are strangers.

Hot Spots
Hot spots show you the nearest bars and clubs in your area. The larger spots show busier venues based on how many people are using LIVR. Each spot on the map is color coded based on how intoxicated the users are. The darker the circle, the more alcohol has been consumed by people.

Blackout Button
The revolutionary idea of the Blackout Button is just too good to be true. This feature is designed to be used as the night comes to an end. Pushing this button will erase evidence of your misdeeds, meaning it will wipe out call history, photos and more.

Morning After Report
Alternatively, a "Morning After" report can be sent to other users so you can proudly show off your antics from the night before.

<![CDATA[Teens Abuse Yik Yak to Make Threats]]> Sat, 08 Mar 2014 21:49:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/yik+yak.jpg

Concerns over abuse of the new Yik Yak app ranging from fake bomb threats to bullying hit Southern California this week as a prank threat posted on the app left thousands of students on lockdown while a bomb squad swept their campus.

The incident was the latest of three recent Yik Yak-instigated bomb threats , including two at a Massachusetts school. The third happened on Thursday at San Clemente High School in Orange County.

The school’s nearly 3,000 students were on lockdown for four hours. The app, which enables users to post anonymously, has angered some school officials. In Chicago calls for a ban spurred Yik Yak to disable the app.

Bullying on other social media platforms including Facebook and ask.fm have been linked to teen depression and suicide.

Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for the Capistrano Unified School District, which includes San Clemente, cautioned against blaming Yik Yak for the bomb threat prank.

“Social media is just one tool,” he said. “It’s not the tool that’s used, it’s the matter in which it is used…It’s the behavior that matters.”

In Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said the district does not have a specific policy regarding Yik Yak. According to the LAUSD ‘s “Student Parent Handbook” the use of cell phones is prohibited “on campus during normal school hours.”

Yik Yak, which operates much like Twitter, has gained more than 240,000 followers since launching five months ago, according to USA Today. The app boasts “no profiles, no passwords, it’s all anonymous.”

According to the “Rules” section posted on the app, Yik Yak is intended for a mature audience, college age and over.
The apps rules sections says to “make sure that you are posting quality content. Herds of yaks are strongest when they work together and watch each others [sic] backs.”

Requests for comment from Yik Yak’s creators via email and social media were not returned.



<![CDATA[Federal Court: Commercial Drones OK]]> Sat, 08 Mar 2014 17:27:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP235853405875.jpg

Commercial drones are evidently allowed in America after a judge ruled in favor of a drone pilot fined by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to PandoDaily.

The FAA had fined the Virginia man for "recklessly" operating a drone near a university campus, the newspaper reported, but a judge overturned the fine and gave tacit approval for commercial drones to fill the skies.

The FAA has appealed the ruling to the National Transportation Safety Board, which means that drones could be fined if they flew for now, the Web site reported.

However, if the ruling stands, it would help commercial enterprises that have already planned to deliver via drones, according to reports.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Netflix Customers Targeted in "New" Scam]]> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 21:24:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/blackberry-playbook-no-netflix-support-thumb-550xauto-84596.jpg

A recent phishing scam targeting Netflix customers was so bold it even took a security expert by surprise.

It started with a fake Netflix site, which Jérôme Segura, senior security researcher for Malwarebytes Corporation, found by chance. The URL included the word Netflix, followed by a string of seemingly random characters that tipped him off to the fraud.

He knowingly participated in the scam and recorded what happened in a video embedded below.

Segura immediately noticed that the customer care number listed on the imposter site was the same one he’d seen weeks earlier in another scam.

What was different: "They were urging me to call a 1-800 number for ‘support.'"

It is unusual for scammers to ask their victims to contact them directly.

This is “something that is completely new to me,” he said. “Normally after a phishing scam you get redirected to new scam.”

Segura made the call and was told his Netflix account was suspended because it had been hacked.

“I knew this was not right because I entered a fake account,” he said.

The scammers told him they needed access to his computer to help him install security software. He complied, using a PC set up with fake information.

The scammers then installed spyware enabling them to access and transfer his (fake) personal information and documents.

"They had me download what was called ‘Netflix support’ but there is no such thing as Netflix support software," he said.

They also requested a photo of Segura’s ID and credit card,

When Segura balked at the request, the “agent” on the line remotely turned on Segura’s computer camera to make it easy for him to comply.

At the end of the session the “agent” attempted to charge Segura upwards of $400 – minus a $50 "discount."

The unusually aggressive nature of the operation could be an indicator of the next wave of phishing scams, he said.

The site was up for two days before it was shut down, he said.

Netflix told NBC4 News in an email it would not comment on the suspected scam.

Scams are not specific to any particular provider or brand, Segura said. Consumers need to be vigilant and on their guard whenever they are online.

People who believe they are the victims of online phishing scams can contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Netflix Tech Support Scam from Malwarebytes on Vimeo.

<![CDATA[Google Barge Sets Sail in Calif.]]> Sun, 09 Mar 2014 17:36:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/googlebarge.jpg

The mysterious Google barge seen floating in the San Francisco Bay has docked in a city sometimes hailed as the "asparagus capital of the world," making its new home in Stockton, Calif.

"It's been a busy six months for our barge and it's grown tired of all the attention," a Google spokeswoman emailed NBC Bay Area. "So we are moving it to Stockton where it can have a break, enjoy the city's delicious asparagus and warmer climate, and get a bit of rest before its next chapter."

The barge, which contains some sort of mysterious project in the works that Google has yet to unveil, landed at Stockton's Navy Rough and Ready Island, about 75 miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge, just about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday (PST). It's impossible to tell what's inside the four-story barge painted all in white, as the windows are taped up and security guards the entrances.

Despite the secrecy of what's inside, the port will house the Google barge for six months, with the tech company paying the standard dockage fee of about $12,000 a month, Port of Stockton Director Richard Aschieris said. The news is seen by some as a boon for the Central Valley city, which, in addition to throwing an annual festival celebrating the spindly green vegetable, has made headlines for filing for bankruptcy and fighting high crime rates.

"We're just so pleased they like our facility," Aschieris told NBC Bay Area.

The barge left Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay Area about 8 a.m. PST on Thursday and began lumbering across the bay to  the San Joaquin County seat.

Earlier this week, the Port of Stockton and Stockton officials knew nothing about Google's plans to move its barge. Aschieris said Thursday that the news was "just confirmed at 2 a.m. this morning."

Google was recently put on noticed by bay-watchers in San Francisco Bay that its barge would need to acquire permits or get going. Aschieris said he knew nothing about the permitting process in San Francisco, and housing the barge in Stockton did not require any special paperwork.

CNET, the first to report that the barge would be headed to Stockton, said that Google was poised to have to pay fees levied by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), a California state agency that manages bay waters.

Earlier this month, BCDC -- which had been for some time investigating whether Google needed a construction permit to complete the project at Treasure Island -- said that Google either needed to get such a permit, move elsewhere, or begin accruing fines that would top out at $30,000. The agency gave Google a 35-day grace period. CNET reported that the Port of Stockton falls outside the jurisdiction of the commission.

Meanwhile, CNET also reported that the construction on the barge went on hiatus in October because there were reported issues with the interior design. The San Francisco Chronicle uncovered that the large structure was supposed to be a large exhibition space, covered in sails, and would dock in various places.

As for peeking inside the mysterious Google barge, Aschieris said he didn't think he'd get any special inside look despite his position.

"I doubt it," he said.


NBC Bay Area's Shelby Hansen and Bob Redell contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[New Computer Technology for Cars]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 21:15:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Tech-Car-0305.jpg NBC 7's Consumer Bob takes a look at the car of the future, a vehicle that boasts "CarPlay," the latest Apple technology designed to turn your car into a rolling computer.]]> <![CDATA[5 Ways RadioShack Could Reinvent Itself]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:12:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/radioshack2.jpg

RadioShack reminded us all why we love it last month with its '80s-themed Super Bowl commercial — but it wasn't enough to reverse the tide of poor sales. The retro retailer, whose roots are in providing components to build ham radios, plans to close 1,100 of its U.S. stores, it announced this week.

Here are a few ways the retailer could reinvent itself.

1) Appeal to maker culture.
Limore Shur, founder of the creative design agency eyeball, suggests RadioShack could reposition itself by going slightly higher-tech — while staying loyal to its DIY roots — by appealing to the DIY tech movement known as maker culture.

"It would seem they have a great opportunity to build off their history as a supplier of relevant materials to make electronics," Shur said.

Instead of trying to compete with big-box stores to sell the latest headphones, RadioShack should fill a niche need for customers looking to modify their 3D printers, fix their interactive LED screens, make their GoPros fly and build drones, he said.

"How great would it be to go into RadioShack and get a kit to fix your (or your daughter's) shattered cell phone screen?" he asked.

And to remove any lingering relation to the analog age, Shur suggests perhaps a change of name is in order: "MakerShack." Even the White House is going to stage its first Maker Faire later this year.

2) Make them all concept stores.

One area where RadioShack has shown growth has been with its Concept Stores, which it said aim to "attract tech-hungry shoppers who will find a new level of products, service and excitement in a store that makes the buying experience fun."

Those stores highlight what RadioShack calls "in-demand" brands like Apple, HTC, Beats Electronics and Samsung and include fixtures like a Speaker Wall to let customers compare products — you know, like a modern-day retail store.

3) Get Jeff Bezos to come knocking.
Quartz first suggested last year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos should buy RadioShack outright. Now, seeing as the company's market value is below $300 million (for reference: Bezos paid just $250 million for the Washington Post), it wouldn’t be out of the question.

Bezos could take it a step further and turn the store spaces into Amazon "locker rooms," hubs for Amazon's locker delivery service that are also sports merchandise retail stores. Bezos could forge partnerships with local sports teams, letting customers pick up their Kindles or "Cards Against Humanity" games along with their Knicks tees or Chargers hats.

4) Become a mobile phone company.

As writer Steve Cichon very cleverly pointed out at The Huffington Post, every single item in  a RadioShack newspaper advertisement from 1991 (with the exceptions of the three-way speaker and radar detector) can now be replaced with a few taps of your smartphone:

So why not move to become a mobile phone company?

5) Go online-only.
RadioShack could cut costs by going online-only and get rid of the physical locations entirely by selling them to the likes of Starbucks.

The coffee giant bought tea company Teavana last year and opened its first tea bar in New York. Now, Starbucks plans to build 1,000 tea bars in the next 10 years. Why not make it 4,000?

What do you think? What should RadioShack do?

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Asteroid Will Be Closer Than Moon During Fly-By]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:17:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/moon.jpg

An asteroid headed for Earth's general neighborhood will be closer than the moon Wednesday when it passes -- an estimated 217,000 miles away.

The space rock, called 2014 DX110, is estimated at about 45 to 130 feet wide -- less than the width of a football field, but at least as big as the asteroid that injured hundreds of people when it broke apart above Russia last year. DX110 will be about ninth-tenths of the distance between the moon and Earth and might be visible .

Relatively close approaches like this occur frequently, but DX110 is closer than most asteroids. A much larger asteroid, 2014 CU13, is expected to pass Tuesday within eight lunar distances -- the distance from Earth to the moon, which ranges by tens of thousands of miles over the course of the moon's orbit but averages about 238,900 miles.

Photo Credit: KXAS]]>
<![CDATA[Popular San Francisco Bar Bans Google Glass]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 09:55:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/205*120/030414-bar-sign-google-glass-thumb.jpg

Leave the Glass at home.

That's the policy a South of Market watering hole has instituted, choosing to let other establishments continue the tech culture war begun over the appropriate use of Google Glass, according to reports.

A debate on where and when to use the $1,500 wearable computers is front-and-center in the tech-mad Bay Area, after a PR consultant claimed to be the victim of a tech "hate crime," when she was "attacked and robbed" at a Haight Street bar for her use of Glass at last call.

Broke Ass Stuart was the first to report, via Instagram, that The Willows in SoMa has chosen to stay out of the debate by asking patrons to "kindly remove" their Glass before entering.

"Our patrons have expressed concern with being recorded while enjoying themselves" at the bar, according to a sign posted at the pub.

Not every early adopter of the technology -- or, as they like to be called, "Explorers" -- has reacted to "No Glass" policies kindly.

Other bar patrons and bar owners in the Bay Area have had troubles after asking Glass users to pocket the specs, Oakland-based reporter Susie Cagle wrote in Medium.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[FB Offers Menlo Park $200,000 for Cop]]> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:27:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/facebook-menlo-park-substation.jpg

Facebook said it is willing to pick up the tab for security near its Menlo Park headquarters.

The social network is offering to put up $200,000 a year for a full-time police officer who would work out of the city's Belle Haven substation. The company has pledged to fund the position for three years, according to the Mercury News.

The Menlo Park City Council will consider the offer on Tuesday.

Last summer, city leaders approved a three-year lease for the new substation.

Facebook pledged to pay the rent over those three years and offered another $215,000 to overhaul the building.

<![CDATA["Minecraft" Film in Development]]> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 10:06:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_minecraft0725_test_mezzn.jpg

After the uber success of "The Lego Movie," another popular video game that allows you to utilize your imagination, "Minecraft," is also headed to a theater near you.

The game's creator Markus "Notch" Persson confirmed the news on Thursday in a Twitter post, saying, "Someone is trying leak the fact that we're working with Warner Brothers on a potential Minecraft Movie. I wanted to be the leak!"

Since its release on the XBox 360 Live Arcade in 2009, "Minecraft" has sold over three million copies on the XBLA alone and has spawned a myriad of versions and imitators. With no set goals, the sandbox game essentially allows players to create their own worlds.

Players use blocks to design elaborate structures during the day and at night, enemies the likes of skeletons, spiders and even zombies attack your creations. Able to be played in a variety of modes with multiplayer options, the game quickly became a huge hit. References in other video games such as "Borderlands II" and "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim," as well as "South Park" have ensured its place in pop culture. And with over 100 million users, it's safe to say "Minecraft" is as popular as "Grand Theft Auto" and "World of Warcraft."

"Minecraft" film will be developed by "The Lego Movie" producer Roy Lee (“How to Train Your Dragon,” "The Departed") and Jill Messick.







<![CDATA[Apple Tops "Most Admired" List]]> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 08:34:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470542793.jpg

If you want to work for a company that is admired all over the country, your best bet is to target tech.

Fortune Magazine just released its top 1,000 American companies when it comes to being admired. For the seventh year in a row, Apple tops the list, which Fortune says is made up of companies making at least $10 billion a year.

Seven years in a row is nothing to sneeze at, but also impressive is how strong technology is at the top of the list. In second place, online retail giant Amazon; in third place, Silicon Valley search giant Google. 

In its article, Fortune uses words like "stylish" and "user-friendly" to describe Apple's products. "Customer-centric" is a similar term the magazine uses for Amazon, along with "easy" (OK, "creepily so," to quote Fortune) to describe Google.

Not to write anything that you haven't heard before, but if you want to be seen as an admired company, the key seems to be: Make things easy and intuitive for your users. Google and Amazon are adjectives at this point; Apple has long been the standard for high-end design people are willing to pay more for.

By the way, among other tech companies on the list, one older (Microsoft) came in at No. 24, and one younger (Facebook) is listed at 38.

Other Bay Area companies that made the list include Abbott Laboratories (No. 1 in Medical Products and Equipment), eBay (No. 44), Intel (No. 47) and Cisco (No. 49).

Scott is listed on Twitter: @scottbudman 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>