<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usSat, 21 Oct 2017 09:52:35 -0700Sat, 21 Oct 2017 09:52:35 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Immersive Experience Lets Users Explore Mars Using VR]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:34:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/10-20-2017-rover-360-mars20171019.jpg

Now everyone can get a taste of what scientists see on the red planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience that be accessed with a computer, mobile device or virtual reality/augmented reality headset.

Access Mars: Experience access Mars by clicking here and learn about Curiosity’s mission here.

Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore the desert terrain while poking around nooks and crannies. The program features four notable regions: Curiosity's landing site, Murray Buttes, Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. The rover’s current location on Mt. Sharp will be continually updated as new imagery comes in.

The software is adapted from a similar program used by NASA scientists to study Martian geology.

"We've been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day," said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL's Ops Lab, which led the collaboration. "With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along."

The experience was crafted by pairing Curiosity's imagery and scientific data with WebVR, an open-source virtual reality software that be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

Visitors can learn more details about Curiosity’s experiments such as photos of digging sites, soil mineral compositions and even a selfie the rover took so scientists could monitor wear and tear.

"Immersive technology has incredible potential as a tool for scientists and engineers," Luo said. "It also lets us inspire and engage the public in new ways."

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL
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<![CDATA[How to Prevent Being Spied on in Vacation Rental Homes]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:24:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Cameras_Found_in_Airbnb_Condo_1200x675_1068525123576.jpg

For people on vacation, being watched on hidden cameras in your room should be the furthest thing on their mind, but police are warning people to be on the lookout after an alarming case last month involving a vacation rental, according to "Today." 

An Indiana couple found a hidden camera and microphone in a smoke detector pointed toward their bed at their Airnbnb rental in Longboat Key, Florida. The homeowner was arrested and charged with video voyeurism, police said.

It is surprisingly easy to hide cameras and microphones in everyday household items, according to Scott Black, owner of Bethlehem Spy Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"You can be 2 thousand miles away and as long as there's an internet connection,'' Black said, "we can monitor this from anywhere in the world."

Photo Credit: WFLA
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<![CDATA[Tech Giant vs. Startup in Legal Battle Over Former Employees]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:33:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/egnyte_487846.JPG

A tech giant and a scrappy startup are locking horns over hiring away employees, and the workers are caught in the middle.

Citrix systems, based in Santa Clara, is taking on Mountain View-based Egnyte over seven employees and the knowledge and skills they left with when the smaller company hired them away.

Lawsuits have been filed by both companies. Citrix is claiming the former employees took sensitive information with them when they went to Egnyte.

Egnyte co-founder Rajesh Ram insists his company is not trying to steal a competitor's intellectual property. It's just hiring salespeople.

"They have their customers; we respect that," Ram said of the $12.5 billion software giant.

Among the workers who left Citrix is Jessica Bell. She has been with the smaller company for a month and is now part of the lawsuit filed by her former employer.

"It was very surprising to have someone pound on your door and serve papers," Bell said. "I essentially feel threatened."

Legal action in the tech industry is nothing new, whether it's hardware or software competitors. And intellectual property usually is the issue.

"There is precedent for this sort of thing happening, absolutely," Ram said. "But, to be honest, we're happy to sit down with Citrix and say let's ensure that you're comfortable that we have no desires on any of the stuff you're concerned about, and we would welcome a dialogue."

Neither company is backing down.

Bell said she wants to keep her new job.

"As a single mom to a kid just starting college, it was important to me that I provide for her and pay her tuition," she said.

Citrix said it does not comment on litigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[3 Former Tesla Factory Workers Allege Racial Discrimination]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:25:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/10162017Tesla_448174.JPEG

In a lawsuit filed Monday, three former Tesla workers, all African American men, claim coworkers – and in some cases supervisors – routinely called them the N-word.

Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator inside the car maker’s Fremont factory, says coworkers began to harass him shortly after he started in June of 2015. He says they called him the N-word and told him to “go back to Africa.” He says he even found drawings depicting derogatory images of African Americans placed around the factory.

Diaz tried to ignore it, but says what happened to his son nearly broke him. Demetric Diaz, just 19 years old at the time, worked on the production line.

“I was turning the corner, I was coming out to give my son his lunch, and his supervisor started calling him a [expletive] [n-word],” he said.

Both men say they complained to the staffing agencies that placed them at Tesla. Owen Diaz sent an email to his boss, a Tesla employee, saying he didn’t feel safe around a coworker who he says harassed him. But they say nothing changed, until Demetric was let go a few months after he started, and Owen quit not even a year into the job.

“Couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.

A third complainant is also named in the lawsuit against Tesla and the staffing agencies. They’re not the first workers to make allegations of racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

In March, a production associate filed a suit against the iconic car maker, alleging the company failed to protect him from ongoing racial harassment despite making repeated complaints. One instance was captured on video. Coworkers filmed themselves calling the man the N-word and threatening to cut him up.

Tesla’s managing counsel says the company started an investigation, but failed to see it through after the representative handling the investigation left the company. Tesla took action against the men in the video more than six months later when the company reopened the case.

The company declined an interview request to discuss the most recent accusations. In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson said the company “takes any and every form of discrimination or harassment extremely seriously.”

The company says it doesn’t seek to avoid responsibility in instances where it’s at fault, but says that doesn’t appear to be the case here. Tesla says it’s found no evidence the men made complaints about racist language or behavior and says none of the workers ever brought a claim against the company until now.

The company is questioning why the men didn’t first make discrimination allegations to regulators, which is normally what happens in these sort of cases, and claims the lawsuit is the result of a negative media campaign by one lawyer.

Larry Organ of the California Civil Rights Law Group, also filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dewitt Lambert – the man at the center of racist threats captured on video. Tesla won the motion directing the case to arbitration. Organ then brought the case to federal court under the Civil Rights Act – a move Tesla says shows he’s shopping for a more favorable forum. The company claims he is preparing a negative media campaign against Tesla.

But Organ says the legal action is a way to force the company to educate workers about acceptable workplace conduct.

“This conduct is illegal,” he said.

Tesla says it now requires all employees to complete anti-harassment training, and recently created a team to investigate workplace concerns and recommend disciplinary action to improve employee behavior.

“We will never be able to stop every single person in the factory from engaging in inappropriate conduct,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement, “but we will continue to do everything that we can to encourage the right behavior and to take action whenever something bad happens.”

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit, email theunit@nbcbayarea.com. Like Liz on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[This Is What Happens When You Take a Fidget Spinner to Space]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:25:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DIT+SPACE+FIDGET+SPINNER+THUMB.jpg

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station tested a fidget spinner in zero gravity. They had time to play with the popular toy in between three scheduled space walks this month.

<![CDATA['Krack' Security Flaw Puts Every Wi-Fi Connection at Risk]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/551984311-Hacker.jpg

A newly discovered Wi-Fi security flaw reveals that your home network is hackable, giving outsiders access to everything from private chats to baby monitors, NBC News reports.

The attack, called Krack, takes advantage of the longstanding connection between devices and routers that is supposed to deliver a fresh, encrypted session every time you connect.

"When I woke up this morning and saw this one, I was taken aback," said Bob Rudis, chief data scientist at threat intelligence company Rapid7.

The gaping hole in the Wi-Fi protocol is fixable, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been reaching out to the many vendors who are affected. Rudis recommends checking with your internet service provider for the latest information on updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Successfully Launches and Lands Another Rocket]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:58:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/spacex2.png

SpaceX launched and landed its second rocket in three days. The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida before delivering a satellite and landing the leftover booster on an offshore barge. It is the third time a SpaceX has reflown a rocket.

<![CDATA[Not Just You: Facebook, Instagram Go Down Wednesday]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:43:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/211*120/Facebook-generic-1.jpg

Facebook and Instagram went down for many users on Wednesday, with problems on the social media giant spiking, according to the website status-tracking page Downdetector.

Facebook acknowledged that people weren't able to use the site, or Instagram, which it owns. 

"We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible," a Facebook representative said.

There were thousands of reports of problems starting Tuesday morning about 10 a.m. ET, though the spike receded about three hours later. The reports came from across the nation, Europe and South America, according to Downdetector's map.

It wasn't immediately clear caused the issue.

Facebook's troubleshooting dashboard noted an increased level of in errors. A company that links to Facebook's back-end in order to let companies post to social media, SocialFLow, said there was a problem in a tweet before noon.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Ways to Finance the New iPhone 8 or X]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:53:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/iPhone+8.jpg

When the iPhone first launched, the only way to get Apple's latest smartphone was through a two-year contract through AT&T. Things have changed, NBC News reported. 

Consumers now have the option to finance the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and upcoming iPhone X from Apple and the major wireless carriers, as a shift from two-year contracts to carrier financing becomes popular.

Experts say that it's important for people to read the fine print and know what they're signing up for.

"If you do finance through them, they kind of have you on the hook,” says John Oldshue, owner of SaveOnPhone.com. “Not only will they come right after you for the rest of the money if you decide to switch carriers in the middle of that time period, but some have a penalty for leaving the carriers.”

NBC News' Better ran down all the options for customers looking to buy the latest iPhones.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Drone World Expo Shows Off Next-Gen Drones in Silicon Valley]]> Fri, 06 Oct 2017 10:32:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-842175906.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Startup Aims to Produce Hybrid-Electric Planes by 2022]]> Thu, 05 Oct 2017 13:02:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/zunum.png

Zunum Aero, a Seattle-based startup, has announced plans for a hybrid-electric plane.

<![CDATA[Yahoo: Every Single Account Was Impacted by 2013 Data Breach]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:27:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-493360991.jpg

Yahoo, now part of Oath, said that every single Yahoo account was affected by a data breach that took place in 2013.

That's about 3 billion accounts, CNBC reported.

Yahoo buried the stat in a recent update to its Account Security Update page. "Based on an analysis of the information with the assistance of outside forensic experts, Yahoo has determined that all accounts that existed at the time of the August 2013 theft were likely affected," Yahoo's page says.

Yahoo said that the company received new intelligence after it was acquired by AOL and that forensic experts discovered the attack was larger than originally thought. Yahoo will begin alerting accounts that weren't previously notified of the attack.

This story is developing please check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caltech Researchers Score a 'Win for Einstein']]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 12:37:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/230*120/10-03-2017-gravitational-waves-caltech-ligo.jpg

The Nobel Physics Prize 2017 has been awarded to three scientists, including two from Caltech in Southern California, for their discoveries in gravitational waves.

Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday that the winners are Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology. The three were key to the first observation of gravitational waves in September 2015.

Barish received his Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

When the discovery was announced several months later, it was a sensation not only among scientists but the general public. Gravitational waves are extremely faint ripples in the fabric of space and time, generated by some of the most violent events in the universe.

"These gravitational waves will be powerful ways for the human race to explore the universe -- not for the next few years or decades but for the next few centuries," Thorne told The Associated Press. 

Barish, speaking by phone from Santa Monica, California, said he and his colleagues knew there was a good chance they would get recognized by the Nobel team. The call came at 2:41 a.m., beating his own alarm by 4 minutes.

"There was some anticipation. But, the Swedish Academy is so secretive," he told The Associated Press.

He added Tuesday's announcement was "a win for Einstein, and a very big one."

Thorne called the award is "a win for the human race as a whole." He said he was a "little disappointed" that thousands other scientists who have worked on the project did not get to share the prize, adding: "Nevertheless I'm tremendously pleased to accept this" on their behalf.

Weiss, in a phone call with the news conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said "I view this more as a thing that recognizes the work of a thousand people."

Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity, but he thought they might be too weak to be detected. General relativity says that gravity is caused by heavy objects bending space-time, which itself is the four-dimensional way that astronomers see the universe.

The waves detected by the laureates came from the collision of two black holes some 1.3 billion light-years away. A light-year is about 5.88 trillion miles.

The German-born Weiss was awarded half of the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize amount and Thorne and Barish will split the other half.

For the past 25 years, the physics prize has been shared among multiple winners.

Last year's prize went to three British-born researchers who applied the mathematical discipline of topology to help understand the workings of exotic matter such as superconductors and superfluids. In 2014, a Japanese and a Canadian shared the physics prize for studies that proved that the elementary particles called neutrinos have mass.

Photo Credit: Caltech
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<![CDATA[GM to Ditch Gas- and Diesel-Powered Cars, Go All Electric]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:40:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GM-electric.jpg

General Motors plans to go 100 percent electric, the Detroit automaker announced Monday.

"General Motors believes in an all-electric future," said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. "Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs."

A number of auto manufacturers have recently announced plans to "electrify" their product lines. But GM said its promise takes this commitment a step further, NBC News reported.

GM currently offers one extended-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, but will add two others within 18 months, Reuss said, with "at least 20" to be in the line-up by 2023.

Photo Credit: General Motors via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Examining Social Media Impact on Las Vegas Shooting]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 19:40:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Examining_Social_Media_Impact_on_Las_Vegas_Shooting.jpg

Social media, as always in modern times, played a big role both in how we found out about the shooting and how many of us were able to reach out to those who were in the line of fire. But it also gave scammers an instant platform. NBC Bay Area Business and Tech reporter Scott Budman reports.

<![CDATA[Hyperloop the Answer to Solving Bay Area Traffic?]]> Thu, 28 Sep 2017 19:41:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Hyperloop_the_Answer_to_Solving_Bay_Area_Traffic.jpg

A tech company has a high-speed solution for the Bay Area's traffic problem. Scott Budman reports.

<![CDATA[FCC Chief to Apple: Enable Radio on iPhones, Save Lives]]> Thu, 28 Sep 2017 15:35:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/186*120/455053466.jpg

The iPhone is an incredibly advanced device, but some versions have a very old piece of technology embedded in it lying dormant: a radio receiver.

Now, the chairman of the U.S. agency that regulates radio, phones and other forms of communication wants Apple to activate the FM chips in iPhones to help get information to Puerto Ricans, whose island is near-totally blacked-out after Hurricane Maria hit land with devastating force last week.

"When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information," said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai Thursday in a statement. "I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones. Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so."

Pai's call was backed by the National Association of Broadcasters, which also urged Apple to "light up the FM chip."

"It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first," Pai said in his statement.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of what San Juan's mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, House Speaker Paul Ryan and others have called a humanitarian crisis. Nearly half the island is without water and about all electricity customers without power as of Wednesday, according to federal agencies' most recent updates.

About nine in 10 cellphone sites were still out of service by Wednesday, and residents have complained that there's no way for them to get vital news about where to get supplies. Many people continue to be unable simply to reach family members on the mainland.

Usually, smartphones get data through the internet, but with so much of the island crippled, internet service is very hard to come by. But the FM chips that most phones are made with would allow them to tune into radio frequencies without anything other than power — if the chips are activated, and users have an app downloaded that can access broadcasts.

Pai has long identified this capability as being important option for smartphone owners to have when disasters hit, and the FCC has recognized that it's particularly useful in disaster situations when the internet is hard to access.

"I don't think people realize how vulnerable people get," said former FEMA Administator Craig Fugate, citing cell system overload during Hurricane Sandy and the Virginia earthquake, in an interview with NAB. 

FEMA urges people to have battery-powered radios in their disaster preparedness kits, but Fugate said in the 2014 interview, "If your radio's now in your cellphone, that's one less device that you have to have extra."

Currently, the NAB-supported NextRadio app, which can broadcast from the FM chip, is available on a wide variety of Samsung, HTC, Moto and other smartphones. But not iPhones.

Apple did not respond when Wired wrote about the issue of smartphones' FM chips last year. In a statement to NBC on Thursday, an Apple spokesperson said that its iPhone 7 and new iPhone 8 do not have FM radio chips in them "nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products."

"Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products," Apple said in a statement. "Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts."

Apple did not address the older models of iPhones, and the FCC declined to comment on the company's statement.

Activating the FM chip wouldn't immediately help anyone in Puerto Rico without internet already. But advocates argue it would help Americans be prepared for the next disaster.

Wireless companies have long urged Congress to let FM chip activation be up to individual carriers.

Asked at a 2013 congressional hearing why cellphone providers are reluctant to activatation of the chips, then-executive vice-president of the wireless association CTIA, Christopher Guttman-McCabe, said, "we leave it up to that ecosystem, and the carriers will compete against each other as well as the handset manufacturers."

In a recent statement, CTIA spokesman Nick Ludlum touted wireless providers' quick response to the three recent hurricanes that hit the United States, including by bringing in portable generators and cell equipment.

NBC reached out to the CTIA for a response to Pai's statement.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[A Look Into the Rising Robotics Industry in Bay Area]]> Wed, 27 Sep 2017 19:25:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/A_Look_Into_the_Rising_Robotics_Industry_in_Bay_Area.jpg

It's a multi-billion dollar growth business in the Bay Area, but for all the growth we're seeing in robotics, are those 'bots taking our jobs? Business and tech reporter Scott Budman went to see robots at work to find out.

<![CDATA[Shannen Doherty Speaks at Med Tech Conference On How Technology Helped her Fight Cancer]]> Tue, 26 Sep 2017 20:08:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/09-26-2017-shannen-doherty.jpg

Shannen Doherty may have first caught worldwide attention for TV shows like 90210, but during her appearance at the Med Tech Conference, she shared how technology helped her fight her battle with cancer.  Scott Budman reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter to Test 280-Character Tweets]]> Tue, 26 Sep 2017 14:24:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twitter-logo.jpg

Twitter is experimenting with raising the limit on tweets from 140 characters to 280 characters.

The company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday it was rolling out 280-character limit tweets to "a small group" of users who tweet in languages that may make it difficult to include everything they want to say.

"We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too," Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen wrote. "But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint."

Shares of Twitter rose more than 1 percent in extended trading following the news, CNBC reports, after declining more than 2 percent during the regular session.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Bay Area Tech Companies Aim to Help Solve Healthcare Issues]]> Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:07:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Bay_Area_Tech_Companies_Aim_to_Help_Solve_Healthcare_Issues.jpg

Experts say California will be hit very hard under the newest healthcare proposal from Washington. The news is causing tech companies and healthcare experts to come up with new solutions at a conference kicking off this week at San Jose's Convention Center. Scott Budman reports.