<![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 Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:03:16 -0700 Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:03:16 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mars Rover Opportunity Sets Distance Record]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:29:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/PIA18404_Opportunity_Traverse_25mile_br.jpg

When it comes to out-of-this-world mileage figures, no vehicle can compete with Mars rover Opportunity.

The rover's odometer has reached 25.01 miles after a decade on Mars, marking an off-Earth distance record. The rover traveled about 160 feet over the weekend, enough to break the old record held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover.

Lunokhod 2 rover landed on Earth's moon in 1973 and drove 24.2 miles. That journey took just about five months.

Opportunity wasn't designed to cover great distances -- its original three-month mission required it to cover about 1 kilometer. That mission was completed in April 2004, but Opportunity  has continued to travel and examine ancient Martian environments over that past decade.

"This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."

The next major landmark on Opportunity's Martian road trip is "Marathon Valley." The investigation site was so-named because if the rover makes it to the location, it will have traveled 26.2 miles -- the distance of a marathon.

In recognition of the Lunokhod 2 mission, the Opportunity rover team selected the name Lunokhod 2 for a crater near the site where Opportunity has been used to conduct research.

"The Lunokhod missions still stand as two signature accomplishments of what I think of as the first golden age of planetary exploration, the 1960s and '70s," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and principal investigator for NASA's twin Mars rovers, Opportunity and Spirit. "We're in a second golden age now, and what we've tried to do on Mars with Spirit and Opportunity has been very much inspired by the accomplishments of the Lunokhod team on the moon so many years ago. It has been a real honor to follow in their historical wheel tracks."

Spirit landed at about the same time as Opportunity, but it became stuck in soft soil in May 2009 and has not been heard from since early 2010 -- long after it completed its 90-day mission.

Opportunity, Spirit and the larger rover Curiosity  -- which landed on Mars in August 2012 -- are essentially remote-controlled geology research vehicles that receive instructions from mission managers on Earth. Their missions involve exploring Mars' surface and collecting samples for researchers to study as they look for signs of past life.

Photo Credit: NASA]]>
<![CDATA[OKCupid Dating Web Site Says it Lied to Users]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:36:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dating_generic2.jpg

When you sign up for a dating website, you are supposed to be set up based on your interests, and maybe even your looks.

The co-founder of OkCupid.com admitted the online dating web site set up people as part of an experiment.

“I think it’s kind of false advertisement,” Michelle Cady said.

In one of the experiments, people who were highly compatible were told they were a bad match and vice versa.

In another experiment, the website hid singles’ profile pictures for several hours to encourage people to message each other without knowing what they look like. When they brought the pictures back online, many of the conversations stopped.

“It shouldn’t become a game to them to see how many people they can hook up together,” Michelle Cady said.

The Cady sisters had mixed views on the experiments.

“Sometimes people go for a generic type of person and they date that kind of person over and over and wonder why it never works out, and maybe it’s because they’re being closed minded,” Nicolette Cady said.

Some of the guys did not mind the mix up.

“Because I’m overall, kind of a shy person. But I think in that situation it would definitely get me out of my comfort zone,” Herman Soyfer said.

The co-founder, Christian Rudder, is not apologizing. He wrote, ”If you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

Some singles say that is a good thing.

“People don’t know what they want necessarily,” Nicolette Cady said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Locals Tap Into New Online Economy]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:19:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Computer-generic-home-afric.jpg Would you let a complete stranger sleep on your couch? How about drive your car? Well, with sharing economy, it can all happen with just a simple click of a button. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus explains.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[App Aims to Save Cardiac Arrest Victims]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:50:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/199*120/pulsepoint+app.JPG

 A free CPR smartphone app aims to help San Diegans take a beat and save victims of sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in the country.

City and county officials teamed up Monday to launch the PulsePoint app, which alerts anyone with CPR training when someone in their area needs help.

Despite their best efforts, first responders often cannot get to a victim in time to save their life.

Because cardiac arrest has a small survival rate of 8 percent and time is of the essence, the app is designed to send a volunteer to a victim before paramedics can reach him or her.

The American Medical Response says you can triple a patient’s survival rate by doing CPR before an ambulance arrives.

The regional PulsePoint app informs users when and where paramedics urgently need help, gives basic CPR training and shows where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is.

It also uses GPS to track and alert users of emergencies within a quarter mile.

“You’re gonna get the alert, you’re gonna respond, you’re gonna start those chest compressions, and then once the emergency responders get there, they’ll take over, and that’s going to increase survival,” said Mike Rise with the American Medical Response.

Residents can learn how to use the app and how to do compression-only CPR at the County Administration Center’s waterfront park until 3 p.m. or at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas until 4 p.m. Monday.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last December to adopt PulsePoint.

Other cities and counties across the country have activated the PulsePoint app, so if you’re on the road and you’ve signed up for the app, you may still get alerts when an emergency is within a quarter mile.

You can download the free app for your iPhone or Android phone. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden cardiac arrest is so deadly because it is a fast, complete loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It is different from a heart attack, which happens when a portion of the heart's blood flow is blocked. 

However, heart attacks can sometimes trigger sudden cardiac arrest. 

<![CDATA[Uber Driver Arrested After Assault]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:31:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/police-lights-night-shutterstock_54084688.jpg

Police arrested an Uber driver a woman accused of sexually assaulting her earlier this month.

Police charged 31-year-old Reshad Chakari of Alexandria, Virginia, with second-degree sexual abuse.

On July 20, police went to the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW where a 25-year-old woman reported that an Uber driver sexually assaulted her. She had several drinks at a nightclub while celebrating her birthday and passed out in the car, News4's Darcy Spencer reported. According to the police report, the woman said Chakari touched her while she was sleeping in the car.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh said she wants to make sure these drivers are not preying on women. While Uber is required to perform background checks on drivers, that may not be enough, Cheh said. She said installing panic buttons in cars could help.

"Rider safety is Uber's #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care," said Taylor Bennett, spokesperson for Uber Technologies. "It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation.”

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for more on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[PD Tracks Burglars Through App]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 08:52:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/La-Mesa-police-badge.jpg

When a La Mesa man was awakened by burglars in his home, he called 911. The police officers who arrived didn't catch the suspects from the air or the ground but through a common app on many smartphones.

The two suspects broke into a home on McRae Avenue just after midnight Saturday and ran off with the homeowners’ handgun, medication, money and iPhone, according to La Mesa police. .

After a K-9 team and helicopter search could not find the suspects, investigators turned to the Find-My-Phone app. By entering the homeowner’s iPhone information, they were able to trace the suspects to an address in Chula Vista.

Chula Vista police were asked to check the address, but La Mesa PD soon discovered the iPhone was on the move again. This time, back to La Mesa, police said.

Officers tracked the signal to Murray Hill Drive and Yale Avenue where they stopped a dark blue late model BMW and took both men in the car into custody.

Officers say they recovered the stolen items from the car.

Luis Pelayo and Luis Gallardo, both 21 and from San Diego, were booked at the San Diego County Jail on charges of residential burglary, theft of a firarm and possession of a controlled substance.

<![CDATA[Celeb Tweets You Missed from Comic-Con ]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:47:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CCClarkDuke.jpg

It wasn't just the fans showing all the excitement of Comic Con over social media.

TV and movie stars alike were tweeting selfies, jokes and sharing photos over Twitter.

Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Truth Behind Hidden Contracts]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:10:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WomanComputerPic_1200x675_300608067571.jpg

It’s a contract few people read but nearly everyone has agreed to: the contract that often accompanies websites, service upgrades and downloads.

It’s that “Terms of Agreement” that often appears on your phone, tablet or computer screen before you are allowed to progress on the site. The terms are often long, legal and rarely read, yet California Western School of Law professor Nancy Kim said those terms are as binding as a traditional contract.

“If you ever end up in court they will treat that electronic agreement the same as they would a paper contract that you sign with a pen,” Kim explained.

So what you don’t read could hurt you.

Kim said more and more contracts are adding provisions that take away free speech.

“We’re getting our privacy rights diminished,” she added.

Kim said some online contracts block consumers from taking the company to court or participating in class action proceedings, instead requiring binding arbitration. Some sites add a non-disparagement clause that says consumers can’t complain about the company on social media. Some detail expensive return policies, cause consumers to give up rights to online photographs and other hidden agreements.

“People don’t think they are entering a contract when they click accept,” said Kim.

Still, some consumers say they simply don’t have the time or patience to read the contracts, including San Diegans Allen Langdale and Bryan Flores.

“It’s legal stuff that just goes on and on and on,” said Flores. “You get bored about two, three lines into it so you just skip it.”

Kim said some consumer watchdog groups are paying attention but the law hasn’t caught up with the technology.

She is afraid that companies will start adding more and more restrictive clauses in their “Terms of Agreement” knowing that consumers not only don’t understand the contract but don’t even read it.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Companies Announce Plan to Defeat Patent Trolls]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:09:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Patent.jpg

If you can't kill a troll, at least stop feeding him.

Google and other tech companies believe they've figured out a way to halt patent trolls, according to VICE.

"Patent trolls" are litigious creatures who buy "obscure" or otherwise-nebulous patents with the intent to then use the patents to sue established companies, thereby taking home a payout in the process.

Google, Canon, Dropbox and other companies -- some of whom have been the over 2,500 firms a year sued in this manner, a tenfold increase from 2004 -- have devised a "legal force field" to shield themselves from trolls.

It's called a "License on Transfer Network." Members of the network, upon selling a patent to anyone, cannot be sued for patent infringement because of a "royalty-free license" that's then extended to all members, VICE reported.

<![CDATA[Ex-Twitter Employee Sues For Age Discrimination ]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:12:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/twitter_passwords.jpg

Peter Taylor had a good job at Twitter.

Until the 57-year-old was fired after a younger supervisor made derogatory comments about his age, that is.

That allegation and others are part of an age discrimination lawsuit filed against the tech giant last week, according to SF Weekly.

Taylor worked at the company's data center in "deployment," according to the SF Examiner, and received a positive evaluation six weeks before he was fired.

The lawsuit says that he had surgery for kidney stones a month before his termination, but was then given more work to complete while recovering, according to the lawsuit.

He was fired and then replaced with younger employees, the newspapers reported.

Twitter says the lawsuit is meritless.

<![CDATA[New Bed Designed to Help Premature Babies]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:49:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/premature-birth-lifestart-b.jpg

A premature baby was resuscitated in San Diego last week using a new, specialized bed designed just for preemies.

Averi Snyder was born four weeks early and not breathing. Her umbilical cord was tied in a knot.

Mom Kim Snyder said the doctor didn't immediately alert her to the dangers but dad Shane Snyder said he saw the whole thing.

Seconds after she was delivered, Averi was placed into a special bed so that the team of doctors at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital could pump oxygen into her lungs while she was still attached to her mother's umbilical cord.

Within the first minute, Averi began to “pink up."

“[I was] mesmerized by what was going on and how everything took place and how fast they had her breathing,” Shane said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Kim was able to see Averi and kiss her before the staff took the newborn to the NICU.

The Snyders are one of the first families in the U.S. to use the new LifeStart resuscitation bed.

It's designed to delay umbilical cord clamping for the sickest or most premature babies, allowing them to receive blood and other fluids from mom.

It's a modern twist to an old concept that Snyder wishes was around when she delivered her first child.

“It's amazing and it’s lucky,” she said. “Our first child could've really benefitted from it. I hope that other parents get to experience it."

Sharp Mary Birch Hospital rolled out the equipment just last week becoming the first American hospital to put them in use.

Neonatologist Anup Katheria, M.D. said the beds are part of a research study focusing on pre-term births, or those babies delivered before 40 weeks.

The idea is that if doctors can start giving a distressed baby some oxygen at birth, they can take advantage of the first minute of life outside the womb and improve the infant’s outcome.

“Once the baby begins breathing in that first minute, the blood can naturally flow into the lungs allowing more stabilization to occur,” he said.

Umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells, oxygen carrying blood cells and white blood cells that help fight infections.

The fluids also help improve the baby's heart functions and reduce the child’s need for oxygen and blood transfusions.

The beds are placed beside the mother during delivery.

Each bed has a heated pad that mimics skin-to-skin warmth and allows the infant to be warmed from above and below.

So far, 10 babies have been treated using the four beds currently in use at the hospital.

As for Averi, she was still in the hospital Monday and progressing every day.

Her parents hope to take her home from the hospital on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Phone Chargers and Adapters Recalled]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:41:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/recall33.jpg

Two recalls have been issued for chargers that can overheat phones, causing a burn hazard, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The first recall warns about Gemini adapters and chargers that were given away at trade shows between October and April.

The company has received one report of a consumer who was burned on their hand, according to the CPSC. All chargers of this brand should be thrown out. About 31,000 chargers are affected.

The second recalls warns about Lifeguard Press charging kits. Seven models of charging kits with universal serial bus (USB) connectors that are used to recharge Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod devices are affected by the recall, according to CPSC.

They were sold under the brands Ban.do, Jonathan Adler, and Lilly Pulitzer between February and June.

Lifeguard Press has received six reports of the wall chargers emitting smoke and sparking and six reports of prongs detaching from the plug, according to CPSC. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers may contact the company for a refund. About 25,400 are included in the recall.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Kardashian Game Propels App Company]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 12:26:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KK11.jpg

Kim Kardashian is money.

Glu Mobile knows.

The app-maker is the publisher of "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood," a free-to-play game downloadable from Apple's App Store. And Glu Mobile is also enjoying a wave of success after its stock shares jumped 42 percent in recent months thanks to the Kim game, Bloomberg News reported.

San Francisco-based Glu Mobile officials say they're not surprised that Kim's celebrity power could compel hordes of downloads and plenty of in-game purchases, the trick that makes free-to-download games lucrative.

In the game, users try to negotiate their own celebrity landscapes, using advice from Kardashian herself to rise from the "so-called E-list" to the "A-list," the website reported.

Revenue from the game could hit $200 million, an analyst told the website.

Photo Credit: GC Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber: What to Know About Car Service App]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:42:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Summoning a driver at a push of a smartphone button is a lot easier than trying to hail a cab during rush hour, which may explain why Uber, a car service app that connects passengers and car services within minutes, has become so popular.

The San Francisco-based startup, which launched in 2010, is the biggest of the car-hailing apps (others include Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz), operating in 120 cities and 37 countries. Uber relies on a surge-pricing model, which means the fares increase during high-demand periods. The company has come under fire from traditional taxi drivers who say the service is not fair and might even be illegal. This battle between upstart and establishment is likely to continue, and may benefit riders from a cost perspective.

Meantime, here’s what you need to know about Uber:

  • How Does Uber Work?

A customer requests a car using a smartphone app and Uber sends its closest driver to their location, using the phone’s GPS. The fare is charged directly to your credit card. Uber provides five types of services: UberX, the cheapest option which allows for the hiring of livery car drivers with a smartphone; Uber Taxi, which lets you e-hail a yellow cab; Uber Black, a private hire car; Uber SUV, the car seats up to six people and Uber Lux, which features the priciest cars.

  • Who Drives Uber Cars?

UberX drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and they use their own cars. They also use their personal auto insurance policy while driving for Uber and they are not required to get commercial liability insurance. According to the company website, all ride-sharing and livery drivers are thoroughly screened and the company conducts ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time with Uber.

The review process may be flawed.  A three-month investigation by NBC4's I-Team found that convicted felons passed Uber background checks across the country. And in an undercover investigation, NBC Chicago hired several UberX drivers and ran their own background checks on them and found numerous tickets for speeding, illegal stops and running lights.

  • Is Uber Safe?

States are warning riders who hail an Uber or another ride-sharing cab that they may not be covered by insurance if the driver gets in an accident. But Uber and other ride-sharing companies say that is not the case.

"There's no insurance gap at all on any trip on the Uber system," Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian told NBC News. She said the company's $1 million policy provides sufficient coverage in case a driver's personal insurance fails to do that.

There are other safery concerns as well. A 32-year-old Uber driver in Los Angeles was arrested in June on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and taking her to a motel room, police said.

And a California couples told NBC4 an Uber driver stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo.

  • How Much Is Uber Worth?

Uber was valued in June at $18.2 billion, less than a year after being valued at $3.5 billion. The valuation was the highest-ever for a venture-backed start-up and experts say Uber is positioned to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

  • Uber Capping Fares in Emergencies

Uber announced Monday that it will cap fares during emergencies and disasters in all U.S. cities. The company said prices may still rise higher than usual during an emergency, but the increase will be limited. The price will always stay below that of the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding 2 months, according to Uber's website.

The company was accused of price gouging when it applied surge pricing after Hurricane Sandy, in some cases doubling the normal fares.

  • Uber Slashing Fares in Some Cities

Uber also said Monday that it was temporarily cutting UberX rates by 20 percent in New York City, making its service cheaper than taking a yellow taxi.

An UberX ride from New York’s City’s Grand Central Terminal to the Financial District will now cost about $22, down from about $28. The same ride in a city cab will cost about $24, according to Uber’s blog.

Uber has also reduced fares in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

  • Uber Banned in Some Cities

While taxi operators often shell out more than $1 million for a medallion to operate in some cities, Uber drivers don’t. At least six cities (Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Miami) as well as the state of Virginia have banned ride-sharing companies. Another seven cities and three states (California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) are trying to regulate them.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google CEO Larry Page Advocates for Shorter Work Weeks]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:12:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LarryPage1.jpg

Google CEO Larry Page has solved unemployment.

The solution: working less.

Cutting the work week from 40 hours is the way to solve "joblessness and the threat of a robot economy," according to the International Business Times.

Page dished the advice during a lengthy interview with co-founder Sergey Brin and conducted by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, the newspaper reported.

"Most people like working," Page said. "But they'd also like to have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests."

Page, it should be noted, is running a company that's working on adding robots to a host of tasks, such as driver-less cars.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DropCam Offers Inexpensive Home Security System]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 07:10:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Drop-Cam-San-Diego-Duffy.jpg

When Greg Duffy’s father called saying he’d like to know which neighborhood dog was fertilizing the family lawn, the younger Duffy made an interesting observation: of the available do-it-yourself home security cameras which existed, few seemed easy to set up and operate.

That problem led Duffy and his friend Aamir Virani to develop a technology that’s now being courted by Google’s Nest Labs in a $555 million cash deal.

San Francisco-based DropCam is gunning to dominate the $28 billion home security business by offering a low-cost inexpensive alternative to homeowners wanting a simple system.

When the Nicholas family of Rancho Penasquitos wanted to install a security camera to watch their daughter inside and any approaching strangers outside, they opted for DropCam.

“You don’t have any setup at home, you literally plug it in, connect it to your WiFi and you’re done,” said Elijah Nicholas.

The high quality, plug and play web-based cloud camera can be controlled and monitored from anywhere in the world. A paid subscription allows the video to be recorded in the cloud and accessibly for playback from any computer, tablet or smartphone.

Since DropCam first launched in 2009, designers have added night-vision capabilities and an optional high definition model.

The built-in microphone is another desirable feature.

“You can have two-way conversations,” said Nicholas.

The uses range from home and business security to pet or baby monitoring.

Google is interested in adding DropCam’s technology to its Nest home system that controls thermostats, smoke alarms and others, and sounds emergencies with a calmer human voice.

Because video clips can be shared, the cameras have hooked into social media. Some examples are the live stream of Beluga whales from the Georgia Aquarium (right) and the pups at JR's Puppy Cam (below).

Those who authorize the live streaming offer views of everything from beautiful beaches to dangerous intersections.

Security expert Jim Stickley said these do-it-yourself systems are not perfect.

While consumers don’t need to hire a home security company to wire the home, the main drawback with a system like DropCam is that your home or business is not monitored by a company with an employee who could step in and call 911.

Though a password is required to view the camera’s signal over the web , there are concerns that a system could be hacked.

Also, the camera relies on electricity and the reach of your wifi, so if either goes out, the cameras don’t work.

“When you have the full bells and whistles of those alarm systems – they’re tied in to the police, they’re set up so if the power goes out at your home you’re going to get notified – there are a lot of things tied back that make them generally a stronger solution,” Stickley said.

But it is clear, this technology is poised to at least rattle traditional home security companies which may be coming up with their own, lower cost, stripped down, camera systems to get a piece of this emerging business.

And yes, Greg and Aamir caught the neighborhood dog.

Photo Credit: DropCam]]>
<![CDATA[30 Md. Cab Companies Suing Uber]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:40:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Uber-Council-102313.jpg

More than 30 Maryland cab companies are suing Uber, saying the company is hampering their ability to do business.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, reported the Baltimore Sun. The lawsuit claims Uber's surge-pricing model is similar to price fixing, and the car service is creating an unfair marketplace.

Taxi companies have begun to fight Uber, a popular ride-sharing company that uses an app to summon rides. In D.C., taxis affiliated with the D.C. Taxi Operators Association closed down Pennsylvania Avenue last month in a protest against Uber that gridlocked traffic.

Virginia has barred Uber from operating in the state, and in San Francisco, the head of one of the oldest cab companies in the city has said that traditional taxis may not survive 18 months in the face of competition from Uber.

Maryland has become a new battlefront for the dispute, with cab companies lobbying against proposals to regulate Uber differently than cab companies.

The cab companies claim that services like Uber aren't regulated the same way that taxis are. Uber has countered that the ride-sharing model isn't a taxi service, and pointed to the consumer demand for the product.

Two of the companies that sued in Maryland -- Barwood Tax and Sun Cab -- are based in Montgomery County.

An Uber spokesperson says it's too early to comment on this lawsuit, but the company will defend itself if it has to.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Intel Stops Buying Chip Supplies From War-Torn Africa ]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:38:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/intel+image.jpg

No conflict inside.

Computer processor giant Intel has announced that it has rid its supply chain of raw materials -- for use in its chips -- gleaned from groups associated with rebels and militias in the Congo, according to reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the company took it upon itself to cleanse itself of "blood chips" to ensure that the company was "not unwittingly financing war crimes."

Some of the miners of the raw materials needed to make computer chips -- gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum -- are associated with groups who commit "gross human rights abuses," the newspaper reported.

How was it done? Intel put together a plan with its smelters and other processors of the raw materials to figure out how to audit the supply chain.

In the end, making sure that computers didn't fund conflict was something the company had to "fix," said Gary Niekerk, the company's director of corporate citizenship.

<![CDATA[App Lets You Tour Apartments In 3D]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:36:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/07-03-2014-3d-apts.jpg

 It's hard out there for a renter.

The Bay Area rental market is scalding these days, and for every opening, there seems to be dozens of potential renters.

Enter an app, to save you time. 

"Look" just debuted from Apartment List, a San Francisco company that aims to make your hunt more efficient. Tap on one of the buildings listed (so far, about one thousand spread out over certain cities, including San Francisco), and you can take a virtual tour - in 3D - on your smartphone).

This can, potentially, save you from all those trips to apartments you know aren't going to fit what you need. Says Apartment List's Genevieve Lydstone, "what we found is, renters spend an inordinate amount of time just searching various rentals."

The app (see 'Apartment List") is free, and the company says it will likely spread to other cities.

Scott is on Twitter: @scottbudman


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Who Bought All the Bitcoin? It's Tim "Six Californias" Draper]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 08:10:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/450921680.jpg

Tim Draper has the drug money. Every last blue bitcoin of it.

The cash seized during the federal raid on Silk Road, the online drug marketplace allegedly run by a San Francisco-based man, was 30,000 bitcoins.

And those bitcoins have sold at auction to Tim Draper, the eccentric Bay Area entrepreneur who recently made headlines for wanting to carve California into six parts, according to Medium.

The price Draper and his "bitcoin trading and storage startup Vaurum" paid is not yet known, though online scuttlebutt says he paid more than market prices.

At over $600 per bitcoin -- the digital crypto-currency is now trading at near $650 -- that's over $19.2 million, PandoDaily noted.

What can one man possibly do with so much volatile currency?

"[P]rovide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies," Draper said in a statement posted on Medium.

In essence, he wants people to rely on bitcoin rather than their country's money, noting that "no one is totally secure in holding their own country's currency."

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NASA Launches Carbon-Sniffing Satellite]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 21:41:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Carbon+Sniffing+Satellite+Illustration.jpg

Something smells up there, or at least that what NASA hopes.

A carbon-sniffing satellite was launched into orbit on Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base charged with the task to study and track the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The satellite, called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2), is part of NASA’s first mission dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists hope the $466.6 million project can help pinpoint the major sources of human-caused carbon dioxide and measure its impact on the Earth's climate.

OCO-2’s "nose" is actually a sensor that measures the intensity of the sunlight reflected by the gas in a column of air. Each individual measurement is unique and can be used both for identification and to determine patterns of carbon emission.

"Our uncertainty in carbon, what's happening with carbon, leads to a lot of uncertainty in climate," said Joshua Fisher, a JPL research scientist.

Observations of carbon dioxide levels of Earth are expected to begin in about 45 days.

The mission team is staffed and led by members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, based in Pasadena. For the lab OCO-2 represents the culmination of years of successes, failures and some things that never quite got off the ground.

"This is the satellite that everyone's been waiting for," Fisher said.

Most recently, OCO-2’s launch was scrubbed at T-46 seconds on Tuesday due to a malfunction in the launch pad water system.

But the most serious setback to the launch of a satellite dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide happened back in 2009 when the first edition of the OCO crashed into the Indian Ocean only minutes after lift-off.

The satellite will eventually settle at the head of the A-Train constellation, a group of satellites that orbit the globe together in formation, collecting massive quantities of climate and weather data.

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "With OCO-2 and our existing fleet of satellites, NASA is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge of documenting and understanding these changes, predicting the ramifications, and sharing information about these changes for the benefit of society."

Scientists expect to begin archiving calibrated mission data in around six months and plan to release their first initial estimates of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations early next year.

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]]>
<![CDATA[California Legalizes Bitcoin]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 07:46:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/%5BNECN%5DBitcoin.jpg

Bitcoin is now legal tender for all debts in California, public and private.

Provided, of course, that bitcoin -- or other digital currencies -- are accepted.

An "outdated" law that banned the use of "anything but U.S. currency" in California has been bypassed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed into law on Saturday a bill that ensures bitcoin is acceptable in the Golden State, according to Reuters.

Bitcoin is a darling of the technorati, who have seen other early adopters like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom -- who is accepting campaign contributions in bitcoin -- hop on board the crypto-currency train.

The law also allows "community currencies" like the ones used in some downtown merchant districts as an alternative method of payment.

Bitcoin is also big for federal law enforcement, who seized some 30,000 bitcoins in the raid of online drug marketplace Silk Road, and for law-breakers, who stole 850,000 bitcoins from bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

The digital currency, essentially a math equation that changes everytime another person agrees to trade in it, was trading at about $618 per coin on Monday.


<![CDATA[Users Angered at Facebook Emotion-Manipulation Study]]> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:56:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/163*120/facebook_computer_user.jpg

Facebook is dealing with a lot of unhappy users Monday morning after the Menlo Park company tweaked the feeds of thousands of users, the Today Show reported.

Researchers changed the feeds of almost 700,000 users to show a disproportionate number of happy or sad statuses for one week in 2012.

They found the emotions of others on users' news feeds can affect their moods, but they did not inform users of the experiment. And now, many of them are calling it unethical--but it is not illegal.

When users sign up for the social network, they agree to give up their data for testing and research.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article called, "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks."

An author of the study, Adam Kramer, has apologized on his personal Facebook page:

"I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety."

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<![CDATA[Want a Free Wedding? Uber Has the App for That]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 10:38:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wedding+generic1.jpg

Forget a shotgun wedding. On Saturday, try an Uber wedding.

The ride-providing app will take care of the nuptials for some lucky couples this weekend. The only catch? You need all your paperwork in order.

That's it.

To get married by Uber, all one needs to do is have everything ready and then open up the app. If selected, the wedding -- justice, champagne, and all -- will show up to you, Bold Italic reported.

Yes. It's that easy!

Uber will send out an "on-site notary" that will take care of the license. There's also a violinist, and evidently a portable "aisle" which you and your lucky partner will walk down.

But then the real cake: the free honeymoon. Uber doesn't say where, but the company says it will fly you and your new spouse somewhere nice over the next few weeks.


<![CDATA[Is Oakland the New Silicon Valley?]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:35:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/219*120/jacklondonsquare.jpg

Tech companies are now branching out into the East Bay, favoring Oakland after being priced out of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Erik Collier serves as one of the general managers of Ask.com, a search engine company that moved into Oakland's City Center from Emeryville in 2004.

"We knew it was cool before it was cool," Collier said. "We were looking for more space. Oakland seemed to be a great spot, a central location to transportation."

Other startups and tech companies moving into Oakland point to the cheaper costs of doing business, especially compared to San Francisco or on the Peninsula.

The average price for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,500. Oakland's average rent is about $2,000 a month for an apartment.

"All the young techies want to be in the East Bay," Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said. "It is so hot. They don't want the sterile environment of those isolated campuses of the old tech."

McElhaney considers old-tech powerhouse companies to be the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, all of which helped make Silicon Valley famous, simultaneously driving up rents south of the City in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, neither of which have much in the way of rent control.

She is touting Oakland as the next big thing for the tech industry.

"At this point, Silicon Valley is old money," McElhaney said.

The Sears and Roebuck building in Oakland will soon become part of  the city's renaissance. The building has been sold and the new owner plans to turn the building into retail and office space for more start-up companies.

Oakland restaurateur Irfan Joffrey, owner of Camber, said the upswing seems to be gaining momentum.

"A lot of new businesses are moving in," he said, "just because other businesses are coming into town so they can benefit from the economy."

<![CDATA[SF Parking App Makers Threatened With Fines, Lawsuit]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 07:32:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/06-23-2014-parking-app.jpg

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think they can solve San Francisco’s parking woes – and make some cash at the same time – are busy launching new apps that match drivers in need with much-coveted parking spots in the city.

But these tech companies could fold just as quickly as they started – or face possible fines or lawsuits – if they choose to go through with their business plans. 

On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking, claiming the app is illegal because it attempts to lease public, on-street parking spots.

Herrera also sent a similar letter to Apple, asking the Cupertino-based giant to remove the app from its store. Herrera also vowed to send out two more letters to ParkModo and Sweetch, companies with similar business models that charge consumers money to find empty spaces in parking-starved San Francisco.

Herrera’s letter said the companies will face a $2,500 fine, and a lawsuit, if they don’t stop operations by July 11. And his letter brought up issues of safety, logistics and equity regarding the controversial apps in a city where parking is in short supply.

In an email, MoneyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said he wasn't allowed to say too much because he hadn't yet time to consult with his lawyers. But in general, he said, he believes his company is "providing value to people," where users can "make $10 every time you leave a parking spot" by holding that spot until the next person comes. He said he feels his service should "regulated and not banned."

But, in an interview on Monday, Sweetch founders insisted that they’re not selling public spaces, they’re selling information. And the founders – French students who developed the app while taking an entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley – vigorously defended their business model.

In fact, Sweetch Co-Founder Hamza Ouazzani said his company attorneys told his San Francisco-based team that the app is “perfectly legal.” He explained that Sweetch’s goal mirrors Uber and Lyft, which also attempt to match people through the “sharing economy." Those two companies have been visible players in the ongoing conflict between tech ventures and public entities.

The Sweetch app, which charges users $5 to park, and pays users $4 to sell their spot to someone new, aims to make parking smarter, Ouazzani said, by providing a lower cost option for people who want to decrease the time they spend hunting for a place to park.

Ouazzani said while he’s not worried about Herrera’s threats, his team is now in consultation with attorneys to decide what the next move is for Sweetch.

The next move, at least on the city attorney’s behalf, will be to start fining, or suing, the companies who don’t heed his warnings. Herrera’s office noted, however, that Sweetch’s app, with its set-price model, does not appear to be as egregious as the other two apps, which encourage online bidding wars over parking spots.

City attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office isn't buying the app makers' logic. He said companies that claim to be selling “parking information," as opposed to the spot itself, are giving consumers a line that is “patently false.”

Companies like these are “holding on-street parking hostage,” Dorsey said in a phone interview. He added that San Francisco police code clearly bans the buying and selling of public spots to drivers. “It’s like selling off Muni seats,” he said.

Plus, Dorsey is skeptical that the information the companies are selling is even useful.

 “In the Mission District,” he said, “That information isn’t going to be good for very long.”

Herrera’s office is also arguing that drivers using these apps will make the roads more unsafe.

“Presumably, you’re still on your iPhone while you’re driving,” Dorsey said.

And, on a social justice level, Dorsey said the city attorney is concerned that the apps might "fly in the face of San Francisco values," making parking even more difficult for those without parking app access.

“It’s not fair that people with the ability to pay have a better chance to find parking in San Francisco than you or I might,” he said. “It’s already a city with affordability problems.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sweetch]]>
<![CDATA[Daughter's Letter Gets Dad Week Off of Work at Google]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:15:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_07_google_car.jpg

A little girl's summer wish came true, thanks to a letter she wrote to Google.

Katie wanted her dad, who works at Google, to spend more time with her, so she wrote the Mountain View company a letter asking for him to have Wednesday off. 

"Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off," she wrote in the letter, which is going viral on Twitter.

"P.S. It is daddy's birthday. P.P.S. It is summer, you know," she added.

The letter worked, according to "The Today Show," as Google responded with a letter thanking Katie for the note and giving her dad the first week of July off as vacation time.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

<![CDATA[Google Doodle Takes on Office Workers Sneaking Peeks at World Cup ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:36:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/worldcupgoogledoodle.jpg

Google outted office workers around the world with a doodle that features the iconic "Google" letters sitting around a conference table watching a World Cup game.

The animated letters are seen switching from the game to a graph presentation when a stern looking letter "B" walks by with a clipboard in hand. Once the B-is-for-Boss is gone, the PowerPoint presentation switches back to what appears to be an exciting match as the Google letters cheer and fist pump.

Users who click on the Doodle were taken to coverage of Monday's Netherlands vs. Chile match.

Researchers have yet to calculate the estimated loss of work productivity during the 2014 World Cup, but the U.S. economy in 2010 took a $121.7 million hit due to the 21 million soccer-loving Americans who watched for 10 work minutes a day during the South Africa games, according to NBC News.

<![CDATA[Facebook Down for the Second Time This Week]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 15:03:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP120112075763.jpg

Facebook appeared to be experiencing an outage on Friday afternoon. Users attempting to log on would see either a blank screen or an error message.

This is the second time this week the popular social networking site went off the grid. Facebook suffered its longest and biggest outage in the middle of the night on Thursday as millions of users around the world found themselves unable to access their accounts for about half an hour starting at 4 a.m. ET.

The latest service disruption started at about 1:13 p.m. ET, according to downrightnow.com, a website that monitors web services. Facebook was back up by 6:00 PM ET.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target Fixes Glitch That Caused Delays at Checkout]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 09:29:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/target9.JPG

Target says it has fixed a glitch that caused delays at checkout stands at some of its U.S. stores Sunday.

The company said it identified the source, and that it was not a security-related issue.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone inconvenienced by this issue,” said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

One customer told NBC4 on Twitter that a Target store in Tustin was unable to process debit cards. The store handed out coupons for $10 off to customers, she said.

Last December, Target announced it was the victim of a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Treks U.S. Meeting Facebook Friends in Person]]> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:57:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Mikel-McLaughlin.JPG

A Minnesota man is on a mission to get real social with his social media friends: he’s driving across the U.S. in an effort to meet all of his Facebook friends in person, some for the first time ever.

“For me, I started to realize that as my Facebook friends number grew, I knew less and less of them very well. I had some free time and I thought, ‘This might be an interesting experiment for me,’ and a fun one as well to see if I could connect with people on a basis that didn’t involve a computer screen in front of us,” Mikel McLaughlin, 35, told NBC 7.

McLaughlin began his social experiment road trip on April 2 from his hometown of Bloomington, Minnesota.

By Friday, he was on day 74 of his trek and had made it all the way to San Diego where he planned to meet with an old high school friend he hadn’t seen in 18 years.

“When I started this, she actually reached out to me and invited me out, which is great. A lot of times I’m the one kind of inviting myself so it’s always nice when somebody invites me,” McLaughlin explained.

So far, McLaughlin has met 156 of his Facebook friends face-to-face and traveled through multiple states including Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, California and Iowa. On his way back home, he plans to visit friends in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

McLaughlin said that when he began his project – aptly dubbed “We’re Friends, Right?” – he had 302 friends on Facebook. He now has more than 500 friends and though he’s not sure he’ll be able to meet all of them, he plans to keep trying.

The friends he has visited so far have included everyone from old childhood pals, including a friend he hadn’t seen since he was 8, to distant relatives, friends of friends, and friends of his wife.

About 15 to 20 of those people have been friends he had only previously met through Facebook, but never in person until now. He said those meetings haven’t been too awkward, and he’s enjoyed becoming better friends with people.

“Just about every time I leave somebody I feel like I’m a little bit closer to them than I was. I’m not making best friends necessarily while I’m out here, but I’m making a lot of first steps towards better relationships,” he explained. “I’m trying to build relationships, create memories and also, I like to write about it on my website, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

McLaughlin said he’s had some very fun, unexpected adventures with friends on this trip, too, including the time one of his Facebook friends -- a police officer in Rigby, Idaho -- took him on a ride-along.

“I got to turn on the siren during a funeral procession, even. It was a busy day,” he laughed.

Another friend took McLaughlin to Yellowstone National Park for the first time ever, while another showed him around the hometown of late Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, in Washington.

While most meetings with friends have involved lunch or coffee somewhere, McLaughlin said he’s really enjoyed the travel aspect of his project and the times when his friends have showed him around their hometowns.

And, after more than two months on the road, McLaughlin can say he’s gotten great response from most of his friends and not many rejections to his meet-in-person friend requests.

“Nobody so far has given me a hard ‘no,’ though in fairness, I have gotten some non-responses and some people that have come up with some brilliant excuses which may or may not be true. But nobody has actually said no [to meeting] so far,” he said. “I’ve been surprised by how receptive and open people have been to it. For the most part everybody is saying, ‘Yeah, come on over, let’s do something.’”

After each encounter with a friend, McLaughlin writes a post on his Facebook page and website as a way of chronicling his journey. He also tries to take a selfie with each and every friend and posts it to his Facebook timeline.

He said the most surprising thing about this trip, at least so far, is how nice people have been to him, proving that the human connection is still really there.

“People have been good to me. They’ve treated me really well – they’ve been generous with their time,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I was starting to get rather cynical with my approach to people, and it’s changed quite drastically since I’ve been doing this.”

McLaughlin intends to make his way back home to Minnesota by July 3. After that he plans to spend time with his wife and maybe map out another leg of his trip, if time allows.

McLaughlin said he graduated from law school last year and is currently waiting to get licensed, so this seemed like the perfect time in his life to hit the road and attempt this project.

As for his growing pool of Facebook friends, McLaughlin said he’s still accepting friend requests and will try to meet as many new people as possible in person, perhaps down the road.

“I’ll go [and do this] until I feel like it’s over. I don’t know when that’ll come,” he added.

To follow McLaughlin’s travels and Facebook friends endeavor, visit his website or, of course, his Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter's COO Resigns, He Will "Cherish the Memories"]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 17:34:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/10-30-2013-twitter-generic.jpg

Twitter’s chief operating officer resigned on Thursday, the New York Times reported.

Twitter said in a securities filing that it did not intend to appoint anyone else to that position held by Ali Rowghani.

Rowghani, who joined Twitter in 2010 as chief financial officer and quickly rose to spot No. 2, had not been successful in growing the micromessaging service with new users, the Times reported.

Rowghani, a former Pixar executive, had overseen Twitter’s successful efforts to expand nearly everywhere, but as the Times noted, much of the growth in that area came from the advertising side of the company.

In CEO Dick Costolo’s eyes, according to the Times, that left Rowghani with little to do.

In a parting Twitter message,  Rowghani wrote, “Goodbye Twitter. It’s been an amazing ride, and I will cherish the memories.”

In true Twitter fashion, Costolo responded on Twitter: “Thank you for being an incredible executive & partner. Twitter could not have succeeded without you.”

Through a spokesman, both declined further comment.

The company told the Times, Rowghani would remain an employee and strategic adviser.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla to Open Up Its Electric Car Patents]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 05:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tesla_models_car_red.jpg

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is sharing its technological brainpower with the world and will open up all of its patents in an effort to boost electric car production.

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a blog post announcing the decision Thursday.

Musk said he hopes encouraging other electric car manufacturers to use Tesla's technology will help make cars less reliant on gasoline.

"Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis," Musk wrote in his blog post.

"Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day," he added.

Musk said his new business strategy was based on open source philosophy, which encourages the free and open development of technology, and said sharing Tesla's technology "will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard."

The announcement came the heels of Monday's reveal that Tesla also planned to encourage standardized electric car specifications by opening Tesla's Supercharger system to other auto makers, Engadget first reported. The Supercharger lets Tesla drivers charge half the car's battery life in about 20 minutes.

Photo Credit: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images]]>