<![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, 20 Dec 2014 00:48:37 -0800 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:48:37 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[LA Taxis May Get Apps as Ride-Shares Get LAX Nod]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:44:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+traffic+taxi+vg.jpg

Imagine using an app on your smartphone to hail — not a ride share car — but any taxicab in Los Angeles.

Imagine a ride share car being permitted to drop off passengers at LAX — just like a taxi — because the ride-share company has agreed to be regulated.

Both perhaps unexpected prospects moved forward Thursday as two different Los Angeles City commissions took steps to advance Mayor Eric Garcetti's policy "to ensure equal competition among transportation platforms."

Within a handful of years, the emerging ride share industry — think Uber, Lyft, Sidecar — has grown to take as much as one-third of the fares that once went to traditional taxis.

Taxi companies are licensed by the city and subject to stringent regulation that ride share companies maintain do not apply to them. The taxi industry sees an unfair situation.

"It needs to a level playing field," said Simon Gevorkian, a taxi driver who also is a part owner of two taxi companies.

"We should be on the same level — under the same rules," said Andrey Primushko, President of United Taxi.

Ride-sharing has flourished through smartphone apps that enable riders to connect directly with nearby drivers, without any need to go through a dispatch service.

In response, several of the major cab companies, as well as tech companies, have developed so-called "e-hail" apps for taxis.

E-hail apps enable a rider to view a map showing all the available taxis in his area, and to choose by clicking. Advocates say the more taxis logged-on, the more likely one will be close to the rider, making the service more appealing.

"You need to see twenty cabs around you," said Sachin Kashal, chief product officer for Flywheel, an e-hail app. "If you have only a two minute, you'll call."

At this point, such e-hail programs are used by fewer than half of the city's cabdrivers, according to Eric Speigelman, the president of LA's Board of Taxicab Commissioners.

A motion introduced by Spiegelman proposes making it mandatory for all drivers and all taxis.

"E-hail technology has the potential to allow the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to enforce minimum standards of quality, safety, and equal service more efficiently than methods currently available," reads his motion in part.

Meantime at LAX, the airport commission heard from a series of travelers asking for the option of using ride share services for ground transportation after landing.

The city-owned airport has permitted ride shares — formally known as "transportation network companies — to drop off travelers, but not to make pickups, as taxis line up to do.

The commission directed staff to develop plans for a program that would allow ride shares to operate at the airport and promote "a level playing field."

Significantly, the ride shares would have to agree to observe city regulations — and possibly even pay fees — in order to participate.

Though the ride shares have sought to define themselves as different from transportation services subject to regulation, the lucrative airport pickup market may be sufficient inducement to persuade them to relent.

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:03:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[New App to Detail Wait Times at Border]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:44:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/border+wait+times.jpg

A new application announced Tuesday will give people traveling across the border more information on the wait times they would be facing.

The new mobile application, Border Wait Time, gives people access to border wait times at various ports of entry around the county and the status of open lanes at land ports of entry on-the-go, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officials said.

Wait times for pedestrian, passenger and commercial vehicles are broken down by lane type, the CBP said. Through the application, users can locate the three closest ports of entry and map the best route to their selected crossing.

The application does not require the individual to register or provide any personal information. Additionally, CBP does not have access to or store personal information from travelers.

Users can download the application for free on Android's Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:08:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Mobile App Helps Diagnose Ear Infections]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:01:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1209-2014-Cellscope.jpg

Need help checking for an infection? There's a tool and app for that. San Francisco-based Cellscope created the “Oto” to help you get a remote diagnosis from a doctor fast.

"We can provide the magnified, and illumination that a doctor needs to see a great quality image of the eardrum,” said Cellscope Co-Founder and CEO Erik Douglas.

They call it the Cellscope Oto, short for otoscope, because it’s like the tool doctors use to check your ears. You can attach the Oto to your smartphone, open the app, and put the tip of the Oto in your kid's ear. The device magnifies the picture from your smartphone camera and sends a recording to a doctor.

"The doctor responds within two hours and gives you a diagnosis, a treatment plan, can call in a prescription if necessary. It saves you that trip, saves you that worry,” Douglas said.

Ear infections account for roughly 30 million trips to the doctor each year in the U.S. and are most common in children.

If you want to skip the doctor's office, the Oto costs $79. Each time you send a recording to a doctor for diagnosis, it costs $49.

It’s not covered by insurance and parents we spoke with had mixed reactions.

"At night, let's say you can't reach the doctor but you actually want to get some assistance...I'll give it a shot,” said father Mano Pillai.

“I'm skeptical because it seems like an unnecessary expense. I've had four kids, and I have a grandson now and I can tell if they have an ear infection. I don't need any device,” said mother Jamie Barker.

The Cellscope Oto went on sale Tuesday and is only available in California.

Douglas says the company is working on similar tools to help diagnose other infections in the future.

Photo Credit: Ian Cull]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Confess to "Criming While White"]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:31:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/USDprotest-1205.jpg

As protesters marched in San Diego Thursday, a conversation was happening on social media involving the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite - confessions from people who say they were able to get away with crimes because of the color of their skin.

University of San Diego students marched Thursday in protest of recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York concerning the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The two African American men were both killed in recent confrontations with white police officers.

Garner died July 17 after a chokehold was applied by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Brown, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

An eye-opening social media conversation started after the NY grand jury released its decision Wednesday in Garner's death and protests broke out around the country.

Jason Ross tweeted "Busted for larceny at 11. At 17, cited for booze + caught with a gun. No one called me a thug" He then invited other white people to share their stories of unpunished crimes.

Over 200,000 tweets using #CrimingWhileWhite have been posted.

With San Diegans weighing in, Theresa Seid posted, "I was pulled over for a suspended license 3 times & let go every time. Eventually judge cleared my record."

At the USD protest Thursday, there was mixed reaction to the hashtag.

“It's time for conversation and I think that's one way of being able to engage folks who perhaps aren't quite ready to have conversation,” said USD Professor Erin Lovette-Colyer.

"It's just a whole different insight and very eye opening for us and for a lot of other people who think that white privilege doesn't exist and it does,” said protester Imain Mulzac.

Others say it isn't right.

"They're just basically bragging about the bad things they get away with that people who are minorities wouldn't be able to and it's actually something I'm not taking part,” said Grossmont College student Michelle Macrorie.

Of course, it is social media and there is no way to verify if some of the stories posted under the hashtag are true.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[Police: iPhone Thief Takes Selfies, Uploads Them to Victim’s Cloud]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 08:10:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/stockton-selfie.jpg

Stockton police are looking for thief they say has been documenting his crime by taking selfies on a stolen iPhone.

Detectives know what the alleged thief looks like from the above photo. Now they are trying to figure out his name.

The iPhone was stolen from a car back in November. Soon after, the victim noticed photos of the suspect uploaded to this iCloud account.

The photo was posted on the Stockton Police Department's Facebook page. As of Wednesday afternoon, the post had more than 2,000 shares and 700 comments.

Anyone who recognizes the man is asked to contact Stockton police.

The Stockton suspect is not unique in his vanity. In February, a selfie taken by a San Diego burglary suspect led to his arrest. Last year, in Oakland, police released a photo taken by a man wanted for armed robbery who officers said used a victim's cellphone to snap a selfie.

Photo Credit: Stockton Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Google Goes Big In LA, Gobbles Up 12 Acres In Playa Vista]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 08:10:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has set its sights on Hollywood.

And, for good measure, the Spruce Goose, too.

The Bay Area-based tech titan has moved to expand in Los Angeles in a big way with a $120 million purchase of 12 acres in Playa Vista, according to reports.

The Los Angeles Times notes that there's room at the site for up to 900,000 square feet of commercial space, a "vast" expansion of Google's current presence of a "handful" of buildings in LA.

Google is also expected to lease the 319,000-square foot hangar where aviator Howard Hughes built his colossal failure, the Spruce Goose, the newspaper reported.

Google declined to "detail its plans," but the newspaper guessed that as many as 6,000 workers could eventually have a home at the company's new base.

This latest acquisition is part of a sustained spending spree that's seen Google expand its presence in the Bay Area to 15 million square feet, according to the newspaper.

Google has a 100,000-square foot campus in Venice, where about 600 people work.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Doorman" Keeps Online Orders Safe]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:42:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1125-2014-Doorman.jpg

A San Francisco start-up wants to make sure you never miss a package again, or have one stolen off your doorstep. Doorman delivers boxes and envelopes to your door, when you are home.

“Shopping behavior online is changing dramatically,” said Co-Founder of Doorman Kapil Israni. “People are getting their toilet paper online. The problem is they're never home to get their package."

Doorman gives its customers an address to use when purchasing online. That package goes to the company’s warehouse, and customers are alerted when it arrives. The user can then respond with what time they’ll be home that night. One of the part-time contracted drivers then takes the package to your front door and texts you when they’re outside. Deliveries are made between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week.

"This is our attempt to modernize the last broken piece of e-commerce,” said Co-Founder Zander Adell.

Packages arrive the same day they would if you ordered directly from a retailer. The cost is $4 per package, or $20 dollars a month. The hope, is you'll never miss a package again.

“There's nothing worse than getting a door tag. I'd rather get a parking ticket,” said customer Michele Mandell.

“If I'm not home, (other delivery companies) just return it. Then I have to take my car to the center and lose 3-4 hours,” said customer Loic Le Meur.

For now, Doorman is only available in San Francisco, but there are other options in the Bay Area.

Amazon has lockers you can ship packages to, and pick them up when you’re available.

If you ship through the Postal Service, you're urged to insure your package and make sure the box or envelope has to be signed for when it arrives. You can also track its progress online.

"One thing people do is have a trusted neighbor keep an eye out for their packages and say, 'hey, I'm expecting something, can you keep an eye out for it, and I'll do the same,” said USPS Spokesperson Augustine Ruiz.

The Postal Service announced its employees will begin delivering seven days a week through the holidays. USPS expects to deliver 12 percent more packages this holiday season than the same time last year. That equals more than 450 million packages.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[E-Cigarettes May Be Giving You Malware]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:03:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/E+Cigarette+486477989.jpg

E-cigarette users charging up through a USB port on a computer may want to be more cautious about plugging in.

The devices may be responsible for harming your computer when plugged in to charge, at least according to one report on the social news site Reddit.

One Reddit user said an executive at a large corporation had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined. The executive’s system in question was up to date with virus protection, so people helping him asked about change in habits.

“And that was the answer they were looking for, the made in china e-cigarette had malware hard coded into the charger and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system,” he wrote.

The technology to transmit viruses and malware through a USB port exists, according to research done by the Security Research Labs firm in Germany, a security research firm and consulting think tank that released the code.

E-cigarettes are usually charged using a USB connection, whether that be with a special cable or by plugging the device directly into the computer.

“Ultimately any USB device that you can plug in can be reprogrammed to do malicious things to your computer,” Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, a cyber threat research firm, told the Washington Post.

Because a variety of devices plug into the same connector, one type of device could become malicious without the user noticing once reprogrammed, RSlabs said.

“Once infected, computers and their USB peripherals can never be trusted again,” the study said.

E-cigarette users may want to think twice about purchasing their cheap e-cigarettes from untrustworthy suppliers online.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3-D Printing Gives Chance to Little Girl Born With Heart Defect ]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:31:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/195*120/11-24-14_Heart-Defect-Surgery-Hensel.JPG

Esther Perez was born with heart defects that could have taken her young life, but thanks to a series of breakthrough procedures at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the now-14-month-old little girl is thriving.

Using a series of conventional MRIs, 3-D MRIs and an incredible printer that reconstructed a model of the girl’s heart, doctors were able to plan her surgery, practice it and reduce her risks and increase her chances of survival.

That was the first miracle for her mother, Martha Perez, who found about her daughter's medical problem while she was still in the womb.

"I stop the pregnancy, or continue. Maybe the baby will be born for just five, 10 minutes, and then the baby maybe will be dying," she recalled, near tears.

Perez credits her faith with helping her to make it through the pregnancy, but when Esther was born, things looked bleak.

Her cardiologist said the baby just wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her body.

An early surgery provided a temporary fix, but as time went on it became clear a second, much more serious operation was needed.

Doctors decided the innovations could help, including creating a life-size model of Esther’s heart.

The paper-and-plastic model was an exact replica of Esther’s heart, so doctors could explore and strategize before the actual surgery.

"As soon as we opened the heart, it was exactly as I had seen before, so making the patch and doing the connections were quite straightforward," said Dr. Richard Kim, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on Esther.

Similar heart surgeries were done long before the 3-D technology was available, but doctors said it has helped increase the effectiveness and safety of similar operations.

Dr. Kim said Esther now stands a very good chance of having a healthy, normal life.

Perez said she’s grateful for the chance her daughter has been given.

"It’s a miracle," she said.

<![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:34:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

The long-awaited Apple Watch will be making its debut in early 2015 and consumers will be able to get their hands on newly available 3D printers to make food and collectibles. Smart home devices are also among the hot tech trends in the new year, experts say.

“It’s a world of synced devices that will become mainstream in 2015," said Stacy Glasgow, a Chicago-based consumer trends consultant for market research firm Mintel. "It’s no longer about startups or early adopters. We’re seeing a lot of big retailers giving consumers smart products and devices.”

Glasgow said that in Mintel’s research, the company found that 59 percent of U.S. consumers were interested in using an app or device to control their home. About 22 percent already owned a wearable device already. “We definitely see that number in a position to grow,” she said.

Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader for Deloitte based in San Francisco, said that the wearable technology market is exploding but is probably going to be more important for businesses rather than consumers.

“I think there are huge benefits for the industrial user,” he said.

Coye Cheshire, an associate professor for the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, said most of the trends we’re seeing have to do with playing with user data.

“It’s called instrumenting the experience,” he said. “It’s all these apps, such as fitness apps or other metrics, capturing user data and returning it back to the consumer.” The hype is exciting, but he said society is not quite sure what it really wants to know. “The assumption is that if there’s more of this data and you turn it back to the people it will equal better experience, but it remains highly unknown if that’s the case.”

Here's a list of seven tech trends for 2015:


The TellSpec is a small spectroscope that uses a beam of infrared light to figure out the composition of food and help users determine exactly how many calories and grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates they are consuming just with a wave of the device. The TellSpec shoots the information to a smartphone (Android or iOS) where users can see not only the vital stats of the food, but also if it contains allergens like eggs or gluten. The company has been busy scanning foods so the spectroscope has a full database and can identify traces of ingredients, according to Fast Company.

Cheshire seemed interested but not optimistic about the scanner. “Will some people carry them around? There are a small amount of people who are responsible for almost all the uptick of all devices,” he said of the new adopters. But will it be popular with the mainstream – that’s another story.

Wearable Technology

The Apple Watch will likely be a must-have for those who want both a status symbol and a stylish timepiece (they come in different colors, from sensible stainless steel to elegant 18K rose gold). Other wearable tech, such as Google Glass, have already made their debut and caused the public to crave more gadgets like it. Samsung is launching a new platform, Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (also dubbed SAMI), to capitalize on wearables. Expect to see more offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, Jawbone and others, including the Polo Tech Shirt which also offers biometric readings with a designer label.

Gartner Inc. predicts more wearable tech will come on the market because our society is becoming increasingly mobile and wants it available in more environments, including work. Cheshire said that cheaper sensors are making it possible. “This is the early stage of wearable technology and different companies are trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” he said. "If were playing futurist, I wouldn’t bet on many of these things being around in a few years."

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

“Virtually every large appliance is looking at the ‘Internet of Things,’ from sensor technology to smartphones to home networks,” Openshaw said of today's smart appliances and machines. Both Nest and Apple have devised ways to tell your house to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat or record TV programs via your smartphone, and you can expect to see more in 2015.

According to GigaOm, small startups are also joining the smart home movement by adding Bluetooth so users can control light bulbs, outlets or even receive pictures with their smartphone of who is knocking at your door. Expect all these apps to work with voice integration, so you will literally be talking to your smartphone to start your dryer or start preheating the oven.

Digitized Dining

We’re all familiar with making reservations online with apps such as OpenTable or finding food online via GrubHub, but now more restaurants are letting you order your food online. Already Pizza Hut offers that capability (and receives half of its online orders from mobile devices) as does Panda Express. Some Chili’s and Applebee’s provide tablets for customers to order, while McDonald’s and White Castle are also working on a touch-screen customizing kiosk, which may do away with a cashier altogether.

“I think the trend is rooted to an unprecedented expectation for on-demand convenience,” Glasgow said. “It’s this new immediacy in shopping and food service.” She said to expect more “blurring” between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying With Your Phone

The idea of “click and pay” with a smartphone has been around for the last few years, but perhaps it needed Apple’s new iPhone 6 to bring the mobile payment system to the mainstream. Security professionals say it's a "significant improvement over using a credit card" and Apple said it "doesn't collect your purchase history, so we don't know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it."

But there are still some issues. According to Consumer Reports, a reporter used his wife’s credit card after scanning it into his iPhone without impunity or questions and in October, Bank of America apologized for charging customers twice for purchases they made using the system.

Cheshire said that digital payment isn't enough to the transaction more seamless. “Paying by your phone alone doesn’t make it efficient,” he said, “but if you also make an order and pay for it with the same phone it can be.”


It may sound a bit creepy, and your teenagers will hate it, but keeping tabs on your entire family at all times is now a reality with this free Life360 app.

“If I had an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 so I could know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

Parents will likely love the “Places” part of the app that is literally a map that shows everyone in the circle coming or going from certain spots and alerts users when members have left or have entered a specific area.

“I think the social implication is that we’re raising our kids to know they can’t be trusted or trust people in general,” Cheshire said. Glasgow disagreed, saying that it may calm parental anxieties. “If I have an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 to know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

3D Printers

How would you like to have a printer that can create a gun or a pizza? Apparently many people are interested. The shipments of 3D printers will double in 2015 and double again in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. Previously the domain of scientific labs or universities, 3D printers have captured the interest of the masses perhaps because it can reduce costs and create facsimiles almost instantly.

“We see another trend that consumers are finding they enjoy making things on their own and I think 3D printing facilitates that,” Glasgow said, mentioning the beauty of 3D printer Mink which can create custom-colored eye shadow or lipstick.

Consumers may also be interested in exploring cuisine with the Foodini, a 3D printer that creates your favorite foods from “sweet to savory” according to CNN. Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines which creates the Foodini, says a consumer version of its product will be out soon and retail for around $1,000.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 06:18:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

California-based company Acton has developed electronically-powered skates that can propel the wearer up to 12 miles per hour — no pushing required.

Founders said the idea was inspired by "Iron Man," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Jetsons."

"The idea of just being able to slide around the urban environment is very exciting," said Peter Treadway, co-founder of Acton. "It's kind of like a magic carpet for your feet."

The skates were released this week and sell for $500 a pair.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Try to Trick Popular Traffic App Waze]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:51:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/11-20-14-waze-app.JPG

Westside Los Angeles residents are working to fool Waze — a popular traffic app — into believing the side streets are clogged, so that the app stops diverting traffic into their neighborhoods.

Waze is a driving tool that uses crowd sourcing to tell commuters the best roads to get to where they need to go in the least amount of time.

"The freeways are not enough anymore," said Lawrence Marshall. "It's head on. They are dialed in. I'm avoiding traffic."

The problem: the app is diverting traffic from the freeways to neighborhood side streets.

Some West LA residents have had enough, declaring war against the app.

Waze promises that residents’ plan to trick the app will not work.

"Fake, coordinated traffic reports can't come to fruition because they’ll be negated by the next 50 people that drive down the street passively," Waze said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Mekahlo Medina ]]>
<![CDATA[Canceling Apps Like Uber Not Easy]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:32:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/453253488.jpg

It's easy to sign up for online apps like Uber but canceling is another story.

"They want to keep your information at all costs," said Kim Gough with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "So they're not going to make the process necessarily easy for you to do it."

In Uber's case, finding the cancellation policy requires digging through the fine print on the website. You won't find it in Terms and Conditions, but in a second level down navigation in the Privacy Policy.

"You have to click through several links, you have to read through 10 pages so they could do a better job of disclosing that information right up front," said Evan Velasquez with the Identity Theft Resource Center.

But both Velasquez and Gough say practices like this are not unusual. Many apps, websites, memberships and online contracts inundate readers with blocks of legal language. Yet if someone clicks "I Agree" it's as if you signed paper on a lawyer's desk.

Gough said you need to read the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy of companies before you sign up. But she acknowledges that few people do that.

Also, websites and retail businesses alike often create databases on their customers that include names, emails and credit card information. But that information is often difficult to find.

"It would be safe to say that every time you give that number out, it's being retained," said Velasquez.

And while many consumers are not aware of policies like this, Gough said the companies are most likely doing nothing illegal.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FB Shuttle Drivers “Like” Union Bid]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:11:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

Shuttle bus drivers who take Facebook employees to and from Silicon Valley overwhelmingly gave the "thumbs up" to forming a union on Wednesday, after they had complained publicly for months about their low pay, split shifts and health insurance benefits.

Rome Aloise, secretary for the Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, said the vote was 43 in favor of unionizing and 28 opposed. A total of 16 of the 87 drivers who work for Loop Transportation - the shuttle company contracted to drive Facebook employees, did not vote.

"This will now give these drivers at Facebook, and most probably the drivers for all of the companies that use this type of service a chance at a piece of the pie," Aloise said. "This makes it possible for those that make Facebook successful to get to work comfortably, safely and in a timely fashion.  Hopefully the tech companies will step up and pay the "freight" so to speak"

The National Labor Board still needs to certify the election, and then bargaining can begin with Loop for a first-time contract.

In a statement, Loop CEO Jeff Leonoudakis said that the company didn't feel "our drivers' interests are best served by union representation."

But, he added: "Our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Leonoudakis reiterated that the company's drivers earn between $17 and $25 an hour and get full medical benefits valued at up to $714 per month per employee. One of the drivers' complaints is over their split shifts. They pick up Facebook employees about 6 a.m. and have to take them home sometimes 14 or 15 hours later - and are only getting paid for an eight-hour shift.

Leonoudakis said that the drivers can sleep at the Loop Transportation yard, or eat for free at Facebook's campus.

Facebook officials has not formally commented on the labor strife, indicating that the fight is not with their tech company, but with a third party contractor.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Get Ready to Send Messages to Other Cars]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:02:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/googlecar.jpg

Google released its latest APIs so developers can build apps for its Android Auto, according to reports.

The initial apps offer audio enhancement and messaging apps -- a bit like Apple's CarPlay, according to TechCrunch. The apps will be developed by third parties and will appear on screen when a user opens up the system.

The new software is supposed to be "distraction-free" and voice-activated so drivers' eyes stay on the road. The system also means that the software can be routinely updated. Right now Google is essentially garnering apps for when it launches likely sometime next year as it competes head-to-head with Apple's CarPlay.

As for what car manufacturers are using which platform -- it seems that many are open to installing both -- so users can choose between an Android or iOS platform.

Photo Credit: Erika Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Google "Trekkers" Maps Hiking Trail]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 05:23:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1118-2014-GoogleTrekker1.jpg

Google "trekkers" are helping you map out your next hiking trip and get a feel for being on the trail.

The backpack-type trekker carries 15 cameras and records the hiker's every move with the same technology used in Google Earth and Google Maps.

"The trekker takes an image as the person walks -- every two and a half seconds," said Deanna Yick, a Google Street View manager. "That enables us to get a picture of what a place is like and a feel for being there."

Hannah Lonergan recently went on a hike using a Google trekker.

"It's a lot heavier, you have an antenna, you have to watch out for low-hanging branches," Lonergan said when asked how a trekker compares to a regular camping backpack. She added that the trekker weights about 60 pounds.

The City of Monterey is working with Google to get trekkers on local trails.

"We feel like this is a great way to showcase Monterey County," said Tammy Blount, Monterey City Convention Bureau CEO.

Google officials said trekkers can handle privacy concerns on the spot. For example, if someone is hiking on the trial and doesn't want to be in the picture, the hiker can pause the camera and make sure the hiker's anonymity is preserved.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Butts Heads With Journalists]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:40:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Uber-X-Generic.jpg

Uber's threat to snoop on tech journalist Sarah Lacy might not have been an idle one.

Uber was in damage control mode Tuesday after Buzzfeed broke the news Senior Vice President Emil Michael, also an advisor to the Pentagon, suggested the ride-providing giant ought to "dig up dirt" and "spread details" of the personal life" of journalists including Lacy, the PandoDaily editor who has criticized the company.

Reaction to Buzzfeed's report was swift.

Hundreds of people tweeted that they'll no longer use the car service, especially angry that Michael singled out Lacy, who has written critically about Uber in the past.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted some apologies to the company's customers, shareholders, and to Lacy, who responded by pushing a #DeleteUber campaign on Twitter.

As of midday Tuesday afternoon, Michael remained at his post.

Meanwhile, journalist Ellen Cushing, who wrote a profile of Kalanick and his company for San Francisco Magazine, revealed Monday that she was warned by Uber employees that that company "higher-ups" would likely dig into her rider logs, too.

Cushing wrote she could not confirm whether or not Kalanick or his co-workers were peeking on her.

However, as a former Uber employee reportedly told her via e-mail: The current scandal "doesn't surprise me."

The whole debacle is a bit reminiscent of when Hewlett-Packard, back in 2006, investigated journalists and board members, trying to find the source of a leak.

Attempts by NBC Bay Area to reach Kalanick or Uber for comment were not successful.

Scott Budman contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:28:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  

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<![CDATA[Website Exploits Passwords to Get Peek Inside Private Lives]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:52:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/220*120/11-13-14_Surveillance-Hacking-Passwords.JPG

Home surveillance systems are supposed to make residents feel safe.

An Internet search, though, turns up a website that has turned the devices into direct portals for a peek inside people’s private lives.

Private hallways in Reseda, bedrooms in Hollywood, dining rooms in Los Angeles, kitchens in Pasadena and home offices in Burbank all turned up on the site - more than 1,000 across Southern California.

The technology behind the site exploits the likelihood that many homeowners never change their default passwords, set by the manufacturers before the devices are installed. Many people leave the pre-issued usernames like "Admin" combined with standard passwords like "12345."

That makes the home systems vulnerable to a simple hack.

But the website is so new, even LAPD detectives said they were surprised by it.

"It's scary, it's scary," said Detective Dan Fournier. "Yeah, this is incredible. Child’s bedroom here, people sleeping here."

Fournier said the tool isn’t just concerning because it could be a window for burglars to figure out the layout of homes, but also because of the voyeurism component.

"You are thinking you are doing it to monitor your child, some pedophile may be monitoring it for other reasons," he said.

He also said anyone who browses the site may be guilty of committing a crime.

"Basically you are using a camera, to view somebody's bedroom," he said. "You are a peeping Tom."

NBC News reached the operator of the website, which appears to have been registered in Moscow, and which NBC4 is not disclosing, who sent a statement.

In broken English, the statement said "I am glad to point users into a large security problem." The operator said he set up the site to highlight the issue with default passwords.

Nude screenshots of people in their homes that appear to have been taken using the website are being circulated online, though.

Some devices are vulnerable include:

  • AvTech DVRs
  • Foscam cameras
  • Hikvision DVRs
  • Panasonic cameras
  • Linksys cameras
  • IPCamera cameras

Fournier said the best thing for homeowners to do immediately is to change the default settings on their devices.

"Change your password. Right away, because as you can see most passwords when you get the system the default password is 12345," he said. "Just about everybody knows that."

<![CDATA[Pilot Apps Vulnerable to Hacking: Study]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:13:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/small+plane+generic1.jpg

Inexpensive wireless devices used by private pilots for GPS, weather information and more are susceptible to hacking or spoofing, which could lead to catastrophic outcomes, a team of researchers recently revealed.

Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego and Johns Hopkins University presented their findings Nov. 5 at a conference in Arizona to increase awareness among pilots who use the devices.

They looked at three combinations of devices and apps most commonly used by private pilots:

  • Appareo Stratus 2 receiver with the ForeFlight app (one of the top grossing apps)
  • Garmin GDL 39 receiver with the Garmin Pilot app
  • SageTech Clarity CL01 with the WingX Pro7 app.

Each combination uses a tablet to display information such as an aircraft’s location, data on nearby aircraft, weather or airspace restrictions, according to the team.

In all three, researchers were able to tamper with the connection between receiver and tablet, effectively giving a hacker full control over safety-critical real-time information shown to the pilot, they said.

In two of the combinations, an attacker would be able to replace completely the firmware, which is home to the programs controlling the devices, according to a UC San Diego news release.

“When you attack these devices, you don’t have control over the aircraft, but you have control over the information the pilot sees,” Kirill Levchenko, a computer scientist at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego said in the university’s news release.

Researchers say the FAA does not regulate the systems because they are not an integral part of the aircraft.

The findings were presented at the 21st ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Scottsdale, Ariz.

NBC 7 reached out to the manufacturers of the apps tested to get their response to the findings and received no response.

Read more on what researchers found and their suggestions for making the systems more secure here.

<![CDATA[Google Engineer Creates Algorithm for Happiness]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:12:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/172819785.jpg

Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan says he's created a three-point plan for happiness.

Tan began his work on creating a happier, stress-free environment by creating a course to teach Google employees "mindfulness skills to enhance emotional intelligence and promote well-being," according to the BBC. He became part of HR and began his mission to create a happier life for Google employees. He created Search Inside Yourself, also the title of his book and the course. 

At SXSW in Austin, Meng's panel, "Make Yourself the Happiest Person on Earth" had three easy steps: 

1. Calm your mind 

Tan advised breathing exercises to calm the brain and "be mindful" of the breathing. “If that’s too hard, then just think about nothing for little bit,” Tan said, according to the BBC. Obviously, this is the first step in meditation which is about calming one's mind and lowering stress. 

2. Log moments of joy 

Basically, when you are having a great time or enjoying yourself, take the time to express your moment of joy. Modern-day people tend to hold onto the negative, so embracing a happy, positive moment is a necessity. It can also get us to believe that, when looking back, the day was a happy one. 

3. Wish other people to be happy 

Tan believes in altruism, including "Kindness is a sustainable source of happiness." Apparently charity work gives people almost as much joy as dancing (I think this also says something about how we need to start dancing.) It also feeds positive thoughts about others which lasts weeks. Basically giving is better than receiving. 

While there's some debate about the science of Tan's formula, there's certainly nothing wrong with implementing the three keys to happiness. And to think you have Google to thank for it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TED Talks in San Diego]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:28:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ted-Talks-San-Diego-Robot.jpg You may have seen Ted Talks videos go viral but now the conference has popped up in San Diego. An independent version kicked off today showcasing local companies that may change the way you think about the future. ]]> <![CDATA[Local Companies Showcase New Technology at TEDxSanDiego]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 11:14:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ted+talk+robot.jpg You may have seen TED Talk videos online, but on Saturday, an independent version of the conference arrived in San Diego. From personal robots to prosthetics, NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala shows us some of the cutting-edge technology being developed right here in San Diego. ]]> <![CDATA[Stanford Profs Test 'Quake Tech That Could Save Homes]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:24:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Capture20.JPG

A Stanford engineering professor has developed a home that's survived over a dozen of the world's most destructive earthquakes.

Professor Greg Deierlein is testing his "seismic isolator" technology through simulated earthquakes at a facility in San Diego. He thinks the small discs he's developed to sit between the structure of a home and its foundation could be the key to a truly earthquake-safe home.

"When you think about large tracts of development, townhouses being built on these isolators, it could totally mitigate one of the large risks we face here in California," Deierling said.

Lots of earthquake research has gone into protecting bridges and high-rise buildings, Deierlein said, but his focus is on single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Using this system, a series of seismic isolators are placed on a steel plate below the structure, above the foundation. They're meant to let house roll over the shaking below.

Deierlein's model home survived unscathed simulated earthquakes, like the 6.8-magnitude 1994 Northridge temblor, even though the home shakes back and forth by up to 15 inches.

"It's just sliding back and forth, but it's not a very violent slide, rather a smoother, slower slide," said Eduardo Miranda, another Stanford engineering professor working on the project.

Tests say the homes can survive the worst earthquakes seen in human history, according to Miranda, a survivor of the deadly 1985 Mexico City earthquake that killed at least 10,000.

The idea of earthquake safety preparation is to save lives and make homes more resilient, according to Dr. Lucy Jones, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the city of L.A.'s earthquake czar.

"The biggest growth decade in the history of Los Angeles is the decade after the 1906 earthquake, as people abandoned San Francisco and moved south," Jones said.

Photo Credit: Tommy Bravo]]>
<![CDATA[Rocket Launch Aborted Over Boat Just Before Blast-Off]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:59:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/15011952803_64c309615d_o.jpg

The planned launch of a rocket from a NASA launchpad in Virginia was aborted less than 10 minutes before blast-off Monday night, after a sailboat wound up in the restricted launch range area.

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket , which will carry a capsule stuffed with space gear and science experiments to astronauts at the International Space Station, is now set to launch Tuesday evening.

The rocket had been supposed to launch its space gear-stuffed Cygnus capsule into space at 6:45 p.m. ET on Monday, en route to the International Space Station, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's eastern shore, becoming the biggest rocket to launch from the site.

But although the Monday mission was aborted, skygazers in the Washington, D.C., area were still in for quite a sight, as the International Space Station itself was passing overhead just a few minutes after the rocket had been slated to launch.

Orbital has explained when watchers will be able to see the rocket soar into view with a handy map, showing how many seconds after blast-off they should expect to spot it. 

If you're unsure how to spot a rocket blasting off, the Washington Post advises looking for a glowing trail of light that makes an arc in the sky. Orbital released diagrams of the expected view from major sites and cities on its website.

The launch now slated for Tuesday will kick off the third in a series of eight planned Orbital delivery missions to ferry crucial equipment and food to astronauts.

This one will also carry a trove of science experiments — including the Meteor, the first space-based system to observe meteors, and the Drain Brain, a special neck collar for astronauts to determine how their blood flows down to their hearts without gravity, Discovery News reported. The results could help researchers develop countermeasures for headaches in space, an ISS scientist told Discovery.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
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<![CDATA[Is Photo Math App Bad News for Teachers? ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:57:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/photo+math+app.JPG

An app called Photo Math boasts the ability to solve math problems with the click of a smartphone camera, prompting a new round of an old debate: how much should students use technology in the classroom?

With the app, users can simply hold their phone over a question and wait a few seconds as it makes the calculations. It then produces the answer and shows the steps to get there.

Photo Math offers help for those stuck on a particularly hard question, but it also presents an easy way to cheat.

One educator likened it to the issue of whether to let students use a calculator solve problems.

“When I first heard about (the app), I thought, ‘Oh my goodness.’ And then I thought, it’s always kind of been there, it’s just quicker and easier because of the speed of the internet,” said Dr. Jeffrey Theil, who works with staff and parents on Common Core standards for the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

He told NBC 7 with Common Core, students are asked to show their answers in multiple ways, so one would have to know how to ask the question to get an answer on the internet.

Siri, the virtual voice-controlled assistant on Apple products, can also be used at a math tool but was better with the simple questions, while Photo Math listed all the steps.

However, on Thursday, students in class were asked to do the problems in their heads by rearranging fractions.

While the app could crunch the numbers, it could not understand the intent of the questions, and the intent is what matters.

If students use it as a tool to help them with homework and not a short cut to get the answer, more access and quicker access can be a good thing.

“That number sense and fluency is really important,” said Theil, “and I don’t think you can get that through an app or googling that or whatever because we’re challenging your mind and what your mind can do mathematically.”

If the technology isn’t there yet to interpret the intent and multiple demands of the Common Core math curriculum, it will be.

And just like in the old days when we could look at the back of the textbook for answers, students need to be taught if they only use the internet as a short cut, they’re only cheating themselves.

Student Alexa Zumstein appreciates that concept, telling NBC 7 she likes doing equations mentally.

“Not only does it help me practice doing it in my head, it just feels a sense of accomplishment, like I just did 237 times 26 on my own and I got it right and I feel good,” she said.

<![CDATA[Patent for Smartphone Infrared Thermometer]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:14:01 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sick-flu-BC9098-002.jpg

Just in time to meet the Ebola outbreak demand for detecting fever, San Diego-based Fraden Corp. announced that it received a second U.S. patent to augment any smartphone with an instant, non-contact infrared thermometer.

The company’s new invention is a sub-miniature infrared camera incorporated into a smartphone or its protective case. The device will work together with the phone’s digital camera, which acts as its viewfinder.

“This results in unprecedented convenience of taking temperature by a smartphone (by) just aiming the phone at the person’s head,” said CEO and Co-founder James Fraden in a press release.

The company developed an app that automatically detects the forehead surface, reads the infrared camera output signal, and calculates the internal body temperature with clinical accuracy, Fraden said. Within one second, the result is displayed on the screen of the smartphone.

Read more about Fraden Corp. in the Nov. 3 edition of the San Diego Business Journal.

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[Company Paid Workers $1.21 An Hour]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:47:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1022-2014-EFI.jpg

A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.

The Labor Department said about eight employees of Fremont-based Electronics For Imaging were flown in from India and worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company's headquarters. The employees were paid their regular hourly wage in Indian rupees, which translated to $1.21.

EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, released the following statement on Thursday: "During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards."

Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66.

Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.

"It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage," said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.

EFI has been ordered to pay $40,000 in back wages to the employees. In addition, the company was hit with a $3,500 fine.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Court: Don't Tell Him You're Pregnant on Facebook ]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 06:37:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/39weekpregnancy.jpg

Facebook is used by a billion people, but it's not enough when notifying a father about his biological child being placed for adoption, a court rules.

The court stems from an Oklahoma woman notifying the biological child via Facebook before placing the child up for adoption, according to the Wall Street Journal. The biological father of a baby girl contested the termination of his parent rights, stating that she had let him know through a Facebook message, court records revealed.

The man, Billy McCall, claimed he never saw the message and the girl was put up for adoption in 2012. McCall claimed he didn't know of the child's existence until a week before she was born and a trial court severed his parental rights in 2013. The court was weighing in on the question of whether a Facebook message satisfies the notification requirement given to "the natural father of a child born out of wedlock."

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that it wasn't enough. From the decision:

Instead of contacting Father directly, Mother left him a message on Facebook, which is an unreliable method of communication if the accountholder does not check it regularly or have it configured in such a way as to provide notification of unread messages by some other means. This Court is unwilling to declare notice via Facebook alone sufficient to meet the requirements of the due process clauses of the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions because it is not reasonably certain to inform those affected.

The custody case between McCall and the child's adoptive parents is ongoing.
It's nice to know that legal documents may not be served up on Facebook, sandwiched in between ads and virtually ignored.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>