<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usThu, 08 Dec 2016 22:27:24 -0800Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:27:24 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Facebook's Sandberg Says Fake News Didn't Sway Election]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:43:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-610719770-Sandberg.jpg

Facebook has faced backlash after fake news sites used the platform to spread misinformation about the nominees during the 2016 presidential election. But the social media giant's chief operating officer said Thursday the impact fake news had on the election has been exaggerated.

“There have been claims that it swayed the election, and we don't think it swayed the election,'' Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show.

Sandberg added that Facebook takes its responsibilities seriously and is looking into ways to keep fake news from spreading online without compromising freedom of expression.

During the election, fake news sites masked as informative websites published stories making untrue claims, including Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running a sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. The latter led one man to bring a military-style rifle to the pizza shop in a misguided attempt to rescue child sex slaves he thought were held inside. 

Edgar Maddison Welch is now facing jail time after opening fire inside Comet Ping Pong. He told The New York Times "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent," but wouldn't dismiss the online claims.

A few weeks after the election, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a new initiative to combat the diffusion of fake news. He wrote that he plans on "improving Facebook technical ability to detect misinformation, making it easier for users to report stories as untrue, working with fact checking organizations to create third-party verification and labeling stories that other users have flagged as false," NBC News reported.

While on "Today," Sandberg also revealed Facebook’s top global stories in 2016. The American election dominated for the second year in a row as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took center stage internationally. 

Sandberg said that she thought the new Facebook Live feature allowed Americans to engage with the political process in a way they hadn’t before. By being able to live stream clips from the debates, for example, the electorate had unprecedented access to political discourse at all hours and regardless of location. Sandberg also said Facebook Live has given the Black Lives Matter movement visibility that catapulted the civil rights protesters into the spotlight. 

“Black Lives Matter has been happening for years,” Sandberg said. “This was the first year it broke into top 10 on Facebook, and we think that's partially because the power of live helps people bear witness."

Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/ Getty Images for Advertising Wee
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<![CDATA[These Are the 10 Best Places to Work in San Francisco]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:21:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/LinkedInHQ.jpg

If you're a Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn employee, chances are you like your job more than the next person. 

Jobs and recruiting website Glassdoor released its 2017 edition of its annual list of the 50 best places to work on Wednesday. The list is compiled using employee feedback on benefits, salary and pros and cons of working for the employer.

Bain & Company is the best company to work for. The management consulting firm's comprehensive benefits program, which offers low co-pays and an employee wellness program, has consistently remained a top five place to work for the past seven years. 

Employee reviews say the "tough, but rewarding" work culture makes a job at the firm the "best post-MBA job to have." Bain also boasts the highest-rated CEOs on Glassdoor for a second straight year.

Runner-up Facebook is the second-best large company to work for in 2017. The social network offers its employees 16 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave, an extra month more than the 12 weeks mandated by New York state.

Gooogle, LinkedIn and Adobe were the other top ten large companies to work for. In one review, a LinkedIn employee wrote "Generation X and [Baby] Boomers need not apply", which implies the professional social networking service's work culture is millenial-friendly. 

In-N-Out Burger came in at number seven.

Tech companies who made the top 20 were: Salesforce, Intuit and SAP.

NBC New York contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Announces $20M For Affordable Housing Partnership]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 19:15:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/187265573-facebook-generic.jpg

Facebook announced Friday a new partnership aimed at solving some of Silicon Valley's most difficult issues, including affordable housing.

The Menlo Park-based company is contributing an initial $20 million to the partnership, which includes community groups and government agencies in the region. Facebook said it hopes to attract more contributions and partners to the cause.

In addition to affordable housing, Facebook is devoting $625,000 to job training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Facebook also will dedicate $500,000 to an assistance fund to "provide legal support to tenants threatened with displacement from evictions, unsafe living conditions and other forms of landlord abuse."

"Since shortly after Facebook was created, we’ve been part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The region — this community — is our home," the company said in a press release. "We want the region to remain strong and vibrant and continue a long tradition of helping to build technologies that transform the future and improve the lives of people around the world, and also in our extended neighborhood. We all need to work together to create new opportunities for housing, transportation and employment across the region. We’re committed to join with the community to help."

Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Deep Learning: Teaching Computers to Predict the Future]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:16:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/atlas-computer.jpg

Researchers have configured computers to predict the immediate future by examining a photograph, NBC News reported.

A program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has analyzed 2 million videos to see how scenes typically progress, and can generate a 1.5-second video clip predicting a scenario based on a photograph.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory hopes to generate longer videos with more complexity in the future.

To create the program, the team relied on a scientific technique called deep learning, which uses mathematical structures to pull patterns from massive data sets. It could lead to computers making diagnoses from medical images, customer predictions or even operating vehicles.

Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor/Getty ]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Companies Show us How We'll Watch Sports in the Future]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:45:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/vr-budman.jpg

I just watched football on a virtual reality headset.

No offense to our network’s “Thursday Night Football,” but VR is super immersive, and it feels really cool to virtually stand on the field or walk around the stadium, without so much as leaving my desk chair.

Virtual reality is still, for the most part, virtual. It's not quite ready for prime time commercial status, but still super cool.

Intel recently bought Voke, which let me watch the game on its headset. It looks great.

Voke’s David Aufhauser says the company wants to change how football fans experience the game.

“You can feel like you're at the game,” Aufhauser says. “You can sit courtside if it’s a basketball game, on the field if it’s a football game, or I'm done, I want go to the owners' suite, and boom, you're in the owner's suite."

We also visited a virtual pub and a virtual safari. All shot, for real, with numerous cameras. It’s all cool, and it’s all coming to a football fan near you.

Scott tracks VR on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:30:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How to Protect Google Accounts From Latest Cyber Attack]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:26:26 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GOOGLE_AP_16118529018333.jpg

A top security company warns about a new cyber attack that is infecting about 13,000 mobile devices every day.

So far this hack has taken control of over 1 million Google accounts since August.

Downloading apps and opening unknown email that contains malware is what allows hackers to take over your Google account.

The most recent malware attack campaign for Google account holders is known as Gooligan. Tech analysts say it's the largest breach of Google accounts to date, with more than a million accounts compromised.

The Gooligan hack primarily infects older Android phones, which still account for about 74 percent of the market.

The problem is caused by malware often hidden in free apps, which entice people to download them rather than paying fees to use Google Play apps that are considered more secure. The malware can also infect your account by clicking on links to apps in e-mail messages, known as phishing.

Once the app is downloaded it can access all your Google accounts, bombarding you with advertising and increasing the rank of other legitimate games on Google Play.

The director of security for Google says the purpose of Gooligan hacks is promoting apps, not stealing information.

So how do you protect your Google accounts?

First, make sure you have the latest operating software from Google.

You can also reinstall your operating software. If you don't know how to do that, take your phone or tablet to a retailer that sells Androids and a technician should be able to help you.

You can also check your device by going to gooligan.checkpoint.com and entering the email address associated with your Android.

<![CDATA[East Bay Teen's 'Life Saving' App Wins Congressional Prize]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:11:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/image005+copy.jpg

A Danville teen who made an app allowing users to quickly send allergy information to health care providers won a congressional contest earlier this week.

Jasmine Steele, a student at San Ramon Valley High School, beat out other contestants from the Bay Area for the 2016 Congressional App Challenge, a contest that is aimed at encouraging young people to learn how to code.

"I really am proud to have won," the 16-year-old Jasmine said. "I guess I made the app because I thought it was a good thing to do." 

Jasmine created her app, Allergy Blast, over the course of the past year, hoping that it may help children, seniors or people with special needs share critical health and allergy information. Jasmine suffers from a severe nut allergy.

"Whenever I would be under someone else's care, my mom would type off this long list of allergy information," she explained. "It worked, but it was a big hassle. So, instead of making a paper that they have to print out, they can just create a profile once, save it and resend it anytime." 

In a phone interview with NBC Bay Area, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier said he was proud of Jasmine and called the app "life saving." He recalled a time when his ex-wife had a severe allergic reaction to bees and said Allergy Blast could be an important resource in similarly dire situations.

"It's just a wonderful combination of using a technology for a practical application that I could really relate to," he said.

DeSaulnier added that he found Jasmine to be an "amazing" student who is "very composed," both compliments echoed by her computer science teacher, Janet Muirragui.

“She’s very mature, conscientious,” Muirragui said. “She’s very talented. Her grades are excellent — she has the highest grade she can get.”

When Jasmine isn't studying for the SATs or in one of her AP classes, she enjoys drawing and creating art. Her mother, Julie Steele, said that Jasmine is attracted to projects that combine the humanities and STEM.

"She started playing around with drawing software early on," Steele said. "She really figured out that she loved it, and that's the direction that she wants to continue heading down."

Jasmine, who would like to attend MIT or UC Berkeley, is used to being one of the few girls in STEM classes and is trying to encourage more young girls to get into the field. According to the Census Bureau, women comprise 48 percent of the workforce, yet women hold only 24 percent of the STEM positions. Other organizations have found the figure to be much lower.

"It creates this atmosphere where, since there are so many more boys than girls, boys are much more vocal and seem more confident in their abilities," Jasmine said. "And, on the flip side, girls seem less willing to show off their work, even though their input is super valuable." 

Her mother has noticed her daughter's commitment to closing the gender gap strengthen since enrolling in programs like Pixar's Girls Who Code and seeing other successful women in the tech industry. 

"She really wants to be a part of that movement," Steele said.

Currently, Jasmine is working on a web comic about a tech-savvy female superhero who inspires young girls to code. 

"I feel like it's really important for us not only to get more girls into STEM, but also to help them feel like they are welcome there and that they really can succeed in that area," she said of her inspiration for the comic. "And, also show that it's not just boring nerd work. You can create vibrant worlds using technology." 

Gillian Edevane covers Contra Costa County for NBC Bay Area. Contact her at Gillian.Edevane@NBCuni.com or give her a call at (669) 263-2895. 

Photo Credit: Office of Congressman Mark DeSaulnier
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<![CDATA['Star Wars' Battle Drones Set to Hit Retailers]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:28:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1130-2016-StarWarsDrone.jpg

It's the fight sure to get a lot of buzz this holiday season.

"Star Wars" X-Wing, Millennium Falcon and TIE fighter battle drones are coming to a store near you.

"Everybody wants to fly one, and now they can," said Kyle Dahl with drone-maker Propel.

Propel is focusing on "Star Wars," letting players fight with their smartphones.

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"There's an app on your phone and it registers your battle," Dahl said. "How many hits, who you hit, who you killed."

Up to 24 drones can play at the same time, with top speeds of 35 mph.

The drones go on sale Friday and cost $240 each.

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Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Google Proposes Housing Project in Mountain View]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 19:33:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/731664041.jpg

Google is, for the first time, seeking permission to build an apartment complex in Mountain View, but there's a catch.

The plan, which also includes a massive office expansion, is in an area not currently zoned for residences.

If the City Council approves Google’s plan, a parking lot and offices on Logue Avenue in the East Whisman neighborhood would be converted into apartments, offices, shops and restaurants.

Google is eyeing a 3.9-acre site on Logue Avenue in the East Whisman neighborhood for the construction of about 330 apartments. The tech giant has promised that 15 percent of the new apartments will serve as affordable housing, the Mountain View Voice reported.

"Given that they’ve long advocated for residential, it is good to see them stepping forward to propose it," said Randy Tsuda, Mountain View’s director of community development.

But the proposal also includes stores and restaurants, and office space that exceeds 200,000 square feet.

"I think Google sees this as a way to catalyze residential development in the East Whisman area," Tsuda said.

But people who live near the Google campus say traffic has become unbearable in the last few years.

"You can’t go anywhere after 2 in the afternoon," said city resident Xenia Heldebrant.

Grace Deleon, who works in Mountain View, added: "That’s possibly going to add to the traffic, unless they were to expand the housing significantly."

The Mountain View City Council has already been mulling rezoning the East Whisman neighborhood to allow more housing — an issue they wil discuss at a public meeting on Saturday. Google's plan will be discussed at a meeting on Dec. 6. 

While some are skeptical that one Google apartment complex will make a dent in in the commute, others think it’s a step in the right direction.

"The best mitigation for our traffic is to not have people drive to work, [it’s to] have them walk to work," Mountain View Mayor Pat Showalter said.

Palo Alto resident Jim Vadeboncoeur echoed the same sentiment.

"The idea of having people live where they work is a good idea," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Rules Apply to Everyone, Including Donald Trump]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:22:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TrumpTwitter.jpg

Despite his soon-to-be role as the most powerful man in the country, Donald Trump isn't exempt from Twitter's rules.

The future president of the United States must still abide by every rule and policy set forth by the social media giant, a Twitter spokesperson told NBC Bay Area.

In a succinct and to-the-point response, Twitter said "the Twitter rules apply to all accounts."

Those statutes include protections against threats, hateful content and harassment to name a few, according to "The Twitter Rules."

President-elect Trump has had a fiery and unfiltered presence on Twitter since signing on. Early Tuesday, he tweeted that, "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" That stance goes against free speech rights protected by the United States Constitution's First Amendment.

Twitter couldn't comment on whether or not Trump's future tweets will be monitored in any special way.

Effective Jan. 20, 2017, Trump has the option of taking over the @POTUS handle, which has been used by President Barack Obama during his time at the helm, according to a late October White House announcement. The @POTUS account will retain its more than 12.3 million followers, but it will be wiped clean of Obama's tweets. Those will be archived in a new handle coined @POTUS44.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: New Drone Video Shows Apple 'Spaceship' Almost Done]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 08:41:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/applespaceship.jpg

A new drone video released over the Thanksgiving weekend shows that Apple's new "Spaceship" building in Cupertino is nearly completed.

David Sexton, who runs Sexton Videography, made a trip from his hometown Chicago to California's Silicon Valley over the holidays. He sent his DJI Phantom 3 Advanced drone into the air over Apple's new campus.

"I'm an Apple fan boy," Sexton told NBC Bay Area by phone on Monday. "I was on vacation and no one was around, so I decided to do a flyover."

Sexton did the same thing last December, and noted how remarkable the construction changes were in a year's time. "It was just a shell," he said. "It's really blossomed."

His video, taken on Thanksgiving and posted on Nov. 25, shows aerials of Apple's 176-acre Campus 2, aka the Spaceship, being built between Homestead Road and Interstate Highway 280. The solar-paneled, space-age, circular building is slated to open in a few months, in early 2017.

The drone video also shows an underground auditorium, a huge research and development building, a tunnel with underground parking and a fitness center for employees.

A representative from Apple's Campus 2 media list did not respond for comment.

For more information on the project, click here.

Photo Credit: David Sexton/ Sexton Videography]]>
<![CDATA[Cyber Monday: Online Bargains May Come with Risks]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 18:30:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-156976324.jpg

More of us spend more money online than ever before.

Stores know it, and they are loading up websites with bargains.

This year, a record $3.5 billion is expected to be spent on Cyber Monday, which is a 9 percent jump.

But along with online deals come online risks.

Security experts say hackers will try to steal your personal data while you shop, and they tend to focus on non-mainstream websites. So shop on sites you know and trust.

And if a price looks too good to be true, check elsewhere. You might be looking at a scam.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Social Media Transforms Makeup Artists Into Online Phenoms]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:44:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Ipsy-3.jpg

Christen Dominique has a lot of friends – 2,052,875 to be exact.

Or at least that's how the beauty maven views her YouTube followers.

"It's more like a friendship, a trusting friendship," said Dominique, a Houston, Texas native and Los Angeles transplant. "It's like real girls talking about what they love."

Reflecting on her childhood, Dominique said getting her hands on her mother's makeup was something of a game changer. She developed a fascination with color and its ability to transform her animals, dolls, paper – and then her face.

"It really helped me embrace myself," said Dominique, underscoring the importance of having "tough skin when it comes to reading your comments" and not letting people's opinions bring you down.

Dominique joined fellow Ipsy stylists Cydnee Black, Karen Yeung, Gabriel Zamora, Desi Perkins, and others, at the sold-out Generation Beauty event in San Francisco last month.

Like Dominique, Black, who is originally from Denver, Colorado, was influenced by her mother — who was also a makeup artist and from whom she inherited her striking blue eyes. Her sisters weren't interested in beauty products, but Black was smitten by the "fun," "artistic" and "creative" loot.

Black learned the art of makeup application by practicing a new look – everything from blue eye shadow to various hues of lipstick – before going to bed at night. Now, she is converting that expertise into tutorials that break down the process of makeup application "for the average person who has no idea what they're doing."

"Even though I think its common sense – it's not, it's really not," she said. 

Having started uploading YouTube videos consistently only last December, Black has amassed 554,618 followers.

Meanwhile, Yeung – known by her moniker IAMKARENO – is yet another runaway hit on YouTube with 1,301,682 followers.

The petite Los Angeleno credits her personality for her success.

"I like the weirder things," Yeung said, and that affinity for quirk reflects itself in more "funky" videos, much to her fans' delight.

Yeung, who was born in Singapore but grew up in San Jose and studied at the University of California, Davis, pays close attention to fashion and makeup trends outside the United States. She hopes to expand into the burgeoning Chinese blogging industry next.

When asked what three words she might use to encourage someone who wants to follow a similar path as her beauty idols, Yeung replied: "Passion. Consistency. Endurance."

To that, Black added: "There's no rules ... So wear whatever makes you feel good."

We caught up with Dominique, Black and Yeung and asked for their take on social media, makeup, and more. After all, inquiring minds want to know!

How has social media changed the makeup industry?

KY: I think before, without social media, there was not a lot of personal interaction with makeup. With social media, we can have different faces and show audiences how [different makeup] will look on different faces. It built a culture around it – a makeup culture. … There is literally every single type of personality and makeup now because of the influencers bringing in that insight.

CD: You're able to reach so many more people on a real level [rather] than just a magazine cover. It's like real girls talking about what they love and wearing it. It's more of like a friendship, a trusting friendship, rather than just flipping through the pages of a magazine and being inspired that way.

CB: It's changed the makeup industry because it's given … the average person more of a voice. Because instead of listening to whatever's in a magazine or what's on TV, where there's these gatekeepers who say what's cool and what's not, even though that's not what the general public actually believes, now they have us. … So it's making the common girl or guy more accessible to this world and getting their voices out there.

What's your favorite social media platform?

KY: At the moment, I really like Snapchat because there is that immediacy in it, and it's very genuine, it's very honest. I also like the fact that you don't have to edit the video. It saves a lot of time.

CD: Other than YouTube, it would be Snapchat. I feel like Snapchat is like … it's so easy and raw. Most of the time, I probably don't even have makeup on … and I think people appreciate that – just that I'm a real person. I'm not always made up and they get to connect with you on a personal level rather than just makeup.

CB: YouTube just because I was a fan before I started doing it, and I'm still a fan. And I think that's important for being successful on YouTube. You have to actually appreciate the platform, and appreciate the content that other people are creating to be able to create great content yourself. So I still get lost in YouTube, I'll watch it for hours.

Why have beauty channels done so well compared to everything else posted on YouTube?

CB: I think the beauty community on YouTube is set apart from the rest of categories, like gaming … because it actually makes people feel good about themselves. Like I get a lot of messages from people saying like, "You inspire me so much, like I didn't know how to wear lipstick on dark skin and you made me feel beautiful wearing lipstick on dark skin." I think it really … uplifts people and makes people feel good about themselves.

How do you keep you fans hooked?

KY: I think, ultimately, it's your personality and being as honest as possible. … Because the space is doing so well, a lot of companies are also coming in and doing sponsored videos. Those are great videos, but I think people want to see the real side of us. So that's one thing – to have that actual human connection.

CD: I think just embracing yourself. If you're a little quirky, a little goofy, just be yourself. People love knowing that you're not perfect because nobody is perfect. … Imperfection is so much more beautiful.

CB: It's hard to differentiate in this industry because there's so many people doing it now but when you're yourself and you find people who actually connect with you then they want to come back to watch you. … They don't feel like they're just watching another beauty influencer. They feel like they're watching Cydnee because they know Cydnee, they trust Cydnee so they want to watch her more.

Girls and women with darker skin may enjoy makeup, but don't always turn to YouTube because they find that most makeup artists aren't catering to their needs. Your thoughts?

CB: Representation is the most important thing because I get so many people who come to me … and they're like, "I don't know how to use this because there's not anyone who looks like me using these products." I'm here to say, "You know, you can still use it. You can still do it." … I want to show girls with darker skin that you can still do these looks and still be beautiful.

One makeup product you won't leave home without?

KY: That's a hard one! Just one? Eyeliner.

CD: Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer. Even if I was stranded on an island, I'd bring concealer.

CB: Becca Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

Editor's note: Answers given by Christen Dominique, Cydnee Black and Karen Yeung have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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<![CDATA[Holiday Toys Go High Tech]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 06:25:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NC_hatchimal_1500x845.jpg From artificial intelligence in Hot Wheels to Barbie's dream smart home controlled through an iPad, this year's gifts for the holidays adapt new technology to add a new spin on traditional toys for children.

Photo Credit: NBC News ]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide for Gamers on Your Holiday List]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:40:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/223*120/Game-Splitter.jpg

This holiday season, the ghosts of video games past, present and future will be visiting the gift lists of players everywhere, and we've rounded up some hot items to make everyone happy. All prices listed below are the manufacturer's suggested retail price, but there are plenty of Black Friday sales to help your wallet.

Venture back to the 1980s with the NES Classic Console ($59.99) from Nintendo. This small replica of the original Nintendo Entertainment System console can fit in the palm of your hand but contains 30 classic games from the past.

The controllers are the original size, yet significantly smaller than today’s gaming controllers. Pick up an extra controller and watch the entire family try to set high scores on games like "Donkey Kong," "Super Mario Bros." and many others.

The console is a popular item this season, so call ahead for availability in stores or order early online. 

Looking for something a bit more current with a lot more power? The PlayStation 4 Slim ($299.99) version packs today’s technology into a smaller, trimmer console. Bundle it up with a hit like “Uncharted 4” and enjoy a quieter, cooler gaming experience with a better High Dynamic Range look.

Perhaps something stronger is on your gaming list. The Xbox One S ($299.99) features built-in 4K Ultra Blu-ray for movies and streaming video in 4K. Just be sure your television or monitor can handle the upgraded visual experience.

The PlayStation VR, named one of this year’s best inventions by Time magazine, is a glimpse into the future. The headset attaches to the PlayStation 4 console for an intense and immersive visual gaming adventure like no other. But what about that sound?

The Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR headphones ($79.95) have clearance for the VR headset and cables, while providing amazing high and booming lows from the VR games. With over the ear cushions, the headset is comfortable and provides amplification to make any VR scene more vibrant.

When you decide to take a break from all the gaming, PowerA’s charge and display station for PSVR ($49.99) can charge up one DualShock4 controller and two PlayStation Move controllers while also elegantly displaying the PSVR headset, keeping it off the floor and away from tripping or stepping hazards.

If you're looking for better sound in Xbox or Windows 10 gaming, the Astro A50 ($300) is a wireless headset that delivers up to 15 hours of battery life while letting players hear enemies from every angle with Dolby 7.1 surround sound. An optional mod kit includes synthetic leather headband and ear cushions for improved comfort while cutting down on extraneous (re: non-gaming, real world) noise.

But what if your gift receiver has all the hardware they need? Not to fear, because some of the top games of the year are out, just in time for the holidays.

For those looking for something nostalgic, “Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration” ($59.99) not only includes the latest release, but also offers a glimpse at Lara Croft’s 20 years as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Outfits, weapons, skins and more span her travels as an amazing adventurer. Plus, the game also features new modes, including a VR mode and story in stately, but crumbling, Croft Manor.

More interested in shooting games rather than discovering lost artifacts? “Titanfall 2” ($59.99) offers a brand-new single player campaign along with new abilities and Titans for a fast-paced, explosive multiplayer challenge that will have any player calling for their favorite mech.

Rather sneak around than blow stuff up? “Dishonored 2” ($59.99) returns players to the court at Dunwall, where they discover a plot to overthrow the Empress. As Emily, or her father, Corvo, sneak your way past enemies and traps to regain the throne with as little bloodshed as possible. Of course, you can always just shoot your way back to power, but where is the fun in that?

If gaming on the go is more your gift recipient’s style, “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon” ($39.99 each) for the portable Nintendo 3DS console is the perfect way to go. Trainers head to the Aloha Islands to discover and catch new Pokémon, including new Legendary creatures. Dozens of new Pokémon friends and challenges await on each of the Aloha Islands.

PC gamers will be challenged over and over again with “Civilization VI” ($59.99). Build a lasting civilization that can stand the test of time in a new turn-based strategy game re-built from the ground up. Visually, the expansion of how cities are represented will amaze and perplex your games, while new leaders and gameplay changes will test how they want to use their “one more turn.”

If tabletop gaming is more the speed of your gift recipient, consider something from the “Dungeons and Dragons” line. A new release, “Volo’s Guide to Monsters,” ($49.99) is more than just another book of creatures. It takes a deep dive into monster lore and is a launching point of imagination for any D&D game. There are also some new adventures available, so your Dungeon Master can use their new knowledge.

For the Twitch or YouTube streamer in your life, Blue’s Raspberry microphone ($199.99) provides 24-bit studio-quality sound in a form that is smaller than most smartphones. It is perfect for in home studio use or when they decide to take their show on the road. A simple USB plug connects the Raspberry to any PC, Mac, Windows tablet, iPhone or iPad for an instant podcast or recording session.

Whatever they want, hardware or software, there are plenty of choices and deals out there to satisfy the player on your gift list. A few things to keep in mind: Know what console or computer they play their games on and what kinds of experiences they enjoy. There is nothing worse than unwrapping a new game and discovering it is for the wrong platform.

Or you could just buy them a new console with the game so you will never have to run into that issue.

<![CDATA[Safety Not a Concern at Annual Turkey Trot in San Jose]]> Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:15:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/webTurkeyTrot.jpg

Despite a security scare following a jail break at the nearby Santa Clara County Jail, thousands of people took to the streets of the South Bay Thursday to run in the 12th annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot.

Roughly 100 police officers were on hand to provide added surveillance and oversee the event, which is billed as the largest timed Thanksgiving weekend race in the United States.

Santa Clara County sheriff’s officials said they stepped up security following a jail break around 11 p.m. Wednesday night, when two fugitives cut jail bars and rappelled out of their second-story cell window in the oldest section of the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

Runners said the inmate escape didn't scare them away from racing.

"I’m not gonna have fear in me right now, just gonna go for it in the race," one participant said. "I'm going to pray that everything goes off safe, and we all have a Happy Thanksgiving."

The Turkey Trot race, which is designed to help local charities and those served by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation's community efforts, was hoping to raise $1 million for five beneficiaries: Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Healthier Kids Foundation and the Health Trust.

Families and children took part in a 5K or 10K run/walk in downtown San Jose (there was a Kid’s Fun Run, too) while sporting a Turkey Trot, long-sleeved race shirt.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Top Holiday Gifts for Gamers]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:03:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Gifts21.jpg From hardware to software to desktop gaming, this gallery offers a bit of everything for the game players on your holiday gift list this year.

Photo Credit: Blue, Arkane Studios/Bethesda Studios]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Users Get $15 Check From Class Action Settlement]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 18:02:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/facebook-logo2.jpg

Some of Facebook's 1.8 billion users have recently received a $15 check from the social media giant in the mail, leaving many recipients scratching their heads. "Is this check real?"

The answer is: Yes.

[[402551476, C]]

The money comes from a class action lawsuit settlement over Facebook’s use of members' names and faces in “Sponsored Story” ads without their permission and without paying them.

Fraley vs. Facebook was filed in April 2011. In their lawsuit, the five plaintiffs claimed Facebook improperly used photos and names of users in Sponsored Story ads, which are created by members “liking” companies’ pages or content. The plaintiffs also argued that Facebook violated a California law that forbids companies from using people’s likenesses or names in advertisements without their consent. Finally, the suit asserted that Facebook should have received parental consent to use the names and likeness of any user under the age of 18.

After more than two years of deliberation, a U.S. federal judge in California approved a $20 million settlement in August 2013. Facebook also promised to give users more “control” over how their photos are used in ads.

Facebook users were who filed to join the class action by the May 2, 2013 deadline were eligible to receive a payment.

Third parties kept the case tied up in appeals court for years, but after those were finally resolved this year, the settlement awards were freed up to be distributed to Class Members, according to the class action's website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Stanford Study: Most Students Can'’t Tell Fake News From Rea]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 14:26:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/stanford-campus-generic.jpg

A disturbing new study from Stanford shows most students don’t know when news is fake.

Researchers from Stanford University’s Education Department found teenagers and college students were not only getting their news from internet sources like Facebook and Twitter but a majority of them were unable to sort fact from fiction.

One of the tests included a picture from a photo sharing site of irregularly shaped daisies with the caption “Fukushima Nuclear Flowers.”

Researchers at Stanford sent that picture to 170 high school students around the country, asking: "Does this photo provide strong evidence about conditions near the Fukushima nuclear plant?"

There was no proof the photo was taken at Fukushima or even Japan - no proof that the plants were exposed to radioactivity.[[402560076, C, 645, 798]]

“So there’s lots of problems and most students - the vast majority - noticed none of those problems,” said Sarah McGrew, co-director of the Stanford study.

One student responded that it does provide strong evidence because it shows how the small and beautiful things were affected greatly. Eighty percent of high school students accepted the picture as proof.

Another test was a title page from The Atlantic touting an article on climate change. And from the same website an ad by Shell Oil talking about climate change.[[402562036, C, 637, 831]]

Two-hundred students were asked which article seemed more reliable. Seventy percent of those students said the article sponsored by Shell was the more reliable source.

What drew them in was the look of the Shell graph: It looked professional.

One student wrote: “I think Article B is a more reliable source because it says sponsored by Shell and big companies wouldn’t just sponsor anything.”

Another test was a tweet from MoveOn.org stating new polling shows the NRA is out of touch with gun owners.[[402559306, C, 645, 570]]

“And then we asked students what makes the tweet a useful source and a less useful source,” McGrew said.

Eighty percent of the college students surveyed didn’t notice the source of the polling and two-thirds didn’t notice that a progressive organization like Move On tweeting about the NRA might be something you’d want to think twice about.

“Again completely ignoring the source of information,” McGrew said.

The study surveyed 7,800 students from all over the country.

And the take away about the vast majority of those middle, high school and college students?

“They use social media very fluently but when it comes to evaluating information they encounter, the overall picture that we got was very bleak,” said Teresa Ortega, the study’s co-director.

The one bright spot in this study is that the same researchers are now working on curriculum to teach critical thinking to students.

Facebook has been in the news recently for trying to address its fake news problem. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said at a trade summit in Peru that his company was taking measures to curb what he called was a "relatively small" percentage of deliberately false stories.

Critics complained that the surge in bogus news stories on Facebook may have led to a Trump win in the 2016 elections. Google also acknowledged that it let a fake news story slip into its list of recommendations for election stories.

For the executive summary of the Stanford study, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File
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<![CDATA[Users Who Violate Google's Policies May Get Digital Death]]> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 03:44:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16132525649141-google-generic.jpg

Some of Google's unwitting users are learning a harsh lesson: If you violate the company's policies, it can abruptly cut you off from your Gmail account, online photos and other vital digital services.

Several people who recently bought Google's new Pixel phone on behalf of a New Hampshire dealer are now suffering that punishment after the company detected their online purchases and judged they violated its terms of service. Those rules, outlined in a document that few people read closely, forbid the purchase of the Pixel for "commercial" resale.

"There isn't an hour that doesn't go by that I don't think about the enormity of what Google has done to me," said one of the affected resellers, Shmuel Super of Brooklyn, New York. "This is like a digital death sentence."


Super and his fellow resellers got into trouble for buying up to five Pixel phones from Google's online store and having them delivered to New Hampshire for resale. They received $5 for each phone. As of Sunday, some started finding themselves locked out of their Google accounts.

In a Thursday statement, Google described the resale arrangement as a "scheme" devised by a dealer looking to sell the Pixels at marked-up prices in violation of its policies.

Google declined to say how many people were affected by the account lockdown. DansDeals , a consumer-focused website that first reported Google's crackdown, concluded that more than 200 people had been blocked from their Google accounts after talking to the New Hampshire dealer behind the Pixel buying spree. The Associated Press was unsuccessful in its efforts to identify and interview the dealer.

The crackdown may come as a surprise to the hundreds of millions of people who now routinely rely on Google, Facebook, Apple and other tech companies as the caretakers of their digital lives. Few of the people involved in this situation appear to have backed up their data outside of Google.

Google said it plans to restore the accounts of customers who it believes were unaware of the rules, although the company didn't specify how long that might take.


Once they figured out why they were being locked out, the exiled consumers realized how dependent they had become on Google as the custodian of their digital communications, records and other mementoes.

Some said they couldn't retrieve confirmation numbers for upcoming flights or notices about an upcoming credit-card payment. Others couldn't fetch work documents or medical records. Some started getting phone calls from friends, family and colleagues wondering why they weren't responding to emails.

Like other two other people interviewed by the AP, Super said he had no idea that he was violating Google's policies when he bought the Pixels for the New Hampshire dealer. He can't believe Google would do something as extreme as locking him out of his account without warning, rather than just banning him from buying its phones in the future.

"Google's slogan is 'Don't be evil,' but to me, there is nothing more evil that what Google has done here," Super said.


Some of the Pixels purchased for resale were delivered before Google recognized the violations and meted out a punishment spelled out in a separate terms-of-service document . "We may suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct," Google warns in one section.

Google doesn't give any advance notice before it shuts down an account, and doesn't make distinctions between minor and major violations. Affected users can appeal for reinstatement, though it's unclear how long that might take or what criteria Google uses in such cases.

Apple also forbids online purchases of iPhones for resale, although its terms of service say only that the company reserves the right to cancel any order suspected of breaking the rule.

Daniel Levy, who has been locked out from his Google account since Monday, said he has learned a hard lesson, though not necessarily the one the company intended.

"They confiscated my property and shouldn't be trusted," said Levy, who lives in Lakewood, New Jersey. "I will never use their services again."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Robot Roams Lowe's Aisles]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 16:55:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BUDMAN+SJ+ROBOT+PKG+-+00003013.jpg

“How ya doin'?”

That, from a shopper who — literally — ran into a robot while looking for a new refrigerator in San Jose.

Such is life at Lowe’s, which just rolled out its first shopping robot.

The robot, which had been tested at OSH Hardware locations (also owned by Lowe’s), is rolling through the aisles – coming to 11 Lowe’s near you.

Made by Fellow Robots of Mountain View, the robots come with 3D scanners to detect when people walk into the store, as well as laser sensors. They can also help track inventory for the stores. 

And, they come from comic books!

According to Kyle Nel of Lowe’s, the company saw the robot shoppers “in a comic book. So, we hired science fiction writers to make the idea come to life,” and then brought Fellow Robot on board.

It’s the latest example of robots coming into daily life, and if it works at a hardware store — who knows what’s next?

Scott tracks robots on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Motors-Solar City Merger Approved by Investors]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 15:51:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/teslaelonmusk.jpg

Tesla Motors got approval from investors to combine with SolarCity Corp. in an effort to expand the market for solar power and give electric car owners new options for solar charging.

Shareholders of both companies backed the merger by a wide margin Thursday. Tesla said 85 percent of shareholders who voted approved the deal.

The deal, first proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk proposed in June, has had more of a mixed reaction on Wall Street. Analysts wondered why Tesla would want to take on SolarCity while it's building a big battery factory in Nevada and preparing to launch its first mass-market car, the Model 3, due out at the end of 2017. Shares of both companies dropped in the ensuing months.

There were also complaints of a conflict of interest for Musk. He is the chairman of both companies, and SolarCity is run by his cousins.

But Musk convinced shareholders that the deal was, as he originally stated, "a no-brainer." Earlier this month, he said SolarCity _ the largest home solar panel installer in the U.S. _ could add $1 billion in revenue to the combined company next year and could add $500 million in cash to Tesla's coffers over three years. And at a big party in Hollywood, he unveiled what he hoped would be the combined companies' first product: glass solar roof panels that look like traditional roof tiles.

"I think your faith will be rewarded," Musk told shareholders Thursday. He said the solar roof tiles would be ready for installation in large volumes by next summer.

The all-stock deal was worth $2.6 billion when the companies approved it in August, but the final terms will be determined by the value of Tesla shares on the day the merger goes into effect. SolarCity said it expects the deal to close in the coming days.

Tesla shares rose 2.6 percent to close at $188.66 Thursday. That's down from $219.61 on June 21, the day before the merger was proposed. SolarCity shares rose 2.9 percent to $20.40, down from $26.40 in June.

Musk and two other Tesla directors who sit on SolarCity's board recused themselves from the vote, but that didn't stop some shareholders from suing. They claim the merger is an attempt to use one company to bail out another. Musk owns 22 percent of both companies.

Neither company has achieved sustained profitability, and both operate in markets where demand is uncertain. Plug-in electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of U.S. sales, and less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity generation comes from solar power, according to government data.

Tesla posted a net profit of $22 million in the third quarter, its first quarterly profit in three years. SolarCity reported a third-quarter loss of $225.3 million.

Efraim Levy, an equity analyst at CFRA Research, was among those against the deal because it could distract Tesla's management and increase the company's need to raise cash next year. He has a ``hold'' rating on Tesla's stock.

"Elon Musk is clearly a force for change, but we think TSLA shareholders will see rewards delayed," Levy wrote in a note to clients.

Down the road, Levy said, there are some potential upsides. Tesla and SolarCity have said they could save $150 million in the first full year thanks to reduced marketing costs and other synergies. Levy said the deal could also reduce the cost of financing for SolarCity.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Great Twitter ‘Purge’: Are Accounts Being Unfairly Cut?]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 13:12:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twitter+generic+logo.jpg

As if there wasn’t already enough tension surrounding politics and social media, but on Tuesday reports emerged of what some called a Twitter “alt-right purge” – the culling of accounts that spewed hate speech.

Twitter didn’t comment beyond pointing out that its rules prohibit abuse and harassment, but, as San Jose State media professor Richard Craig says, "We always have freedom of speech in America, but we don’t always have freedom from consequences."

A good point, but is Twitter cutting some accounts unfairly?

Andrew Torba, the chief executive officer of social media startup Gab, says he heard "the purge" was coming. He’s no longer on Twitter, leaving 23,000 followers behind. He says some of his fellow Trump supporters were purged, simply because of their political preferences.

“They’re not anti-Semitic, they’re not white supremacists,” he says. Just Republicans.

If you’re on Twitter, or the rapidly growing Gab, fear not. You can avoid hate speech, with filters that let you block not only users, but also phrases and words you find offensive.

Scott tracks tech on Twitter and Gab: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File
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<![CDATA[Russia Continues Hacking, Gathering Intelligence on US]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 16:40:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478186613cyber.jpg

Russia has always placed a top priority on gathering as much intelligence as it can about American government officials, and the team now gathering around the new president-elect is no exception. In the overnight hours after Tuesday’s election, hackers linked to Russian intelligence launched a sweeping cyber-espionage campaign to find out what a Donald Trump victory could mean for Vladimir Putin’s government.

Sean Kanuck, the U.S. National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues from 2011 to 2016, told NBC News that Russia would likely be after any information on Trump and his advisors that would help Russia gain strategic advantage over the U.S. 

The Nov. 9 attack targeted “people who are or will be associated with the incoming administration,” said Steven Adair of the cyber security firm Volexity.

The attack came from the hacking crew known as Cozy Bear, which is linked to previous attacks on the Democratic National Committee, the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Snowden 'Beams In' to Real Future Fair in Oakland]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:07:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/snowden-time-AP249291078917.jpg

Edward Snowden told a crowd at Fusion’s “Real Future Fair” that voters shouldn’t put too much faith in elected officials, and instead look to technology and science to bring positive change to the world.

Snowden appeared from Russia via a BeamBot, a remote-controlled presentation robot with a screen, that scooted around the stage of the lecture hall at at the Oakland Museum of California on Tuesday.

“If you want to build a better future, you’re going to have to do it yourself. Politics will take us only so far. And if history is any guide, they are the least effective means of seeing change we want to see,” he said.

Fusion’s Real Future editor, Kashmir Hill, interviewed the former contractor who leaked hundreds of thousands of pages of international intelligence documents and records from the National Security Administration in 2013. Snowden, 33, has been called a hero, a traitor, a whistleblower and a dissident. The leaked information was published by respected news organizations and sparked a discussion over privacy and national security.

Asked about the 2016 elections and his predictions for individual privacy under President-elect Donald Trump, he said that the American people put too much faith in elected officials, and that’s a mistake.

“One of the most challenging issues we had during the election was that nobody wanted to have a conversation about policy, the future, even about the presidency. Instead, we were dragged into this conversation about personalities -- which of these two bad options was more palatable?” he said. “Elections matter. Votes matter. But they’re never enough. We shouldn’t be thrust into a position where every four years we’re asked to hope for a Barack Obama or fear a Donald Trump.”

He called out President Obama for not following through on his promises to end warrantless wiretapping, close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and investigate the George W. Bush administration. He also noted that more government sources and journalists have been prosecuted under Obama’s administration than any other previous president

“When it comes to fighting cancer, healing aids, ameliorating poverty -- these solutions aren’t coming from government,” he said.

He said every person in the audience probably had a cell phone which records and sends their location and communications.

“If this is going to empower us rather than disempower us, we’re going to need science and technology rather than law. At the end of the day, law is only letters on the page. They’re not going to jump up and protect your rights,” he said.

One advantage that technology has over laws is that technology knows no jurisdiction when properly implemented, he said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Snowden under American laws against espionage and theft from the government. He is currently living in exile at an undisclosed location in Russia.

“If we get it right, if we can enforce a right to privacy through technology and other countries will realize that they must have access to these technologies in order to thrive,” he said. “To me, that to me is a more reliable plan.”

Snowden was also asked about how much political discourse played out on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks this election, and how those corporations might have influenced the election, on purpose or by accident.

The challenge, he said was the lack of competition.

“There seems to be no alternative to the larger services. Because of this network effect, because the first mover advantage. When you get a Google or a Facebook or Twitter in place, they never seem to leave,” he said.

That centralization of power in a single point poses a danger, he said. One solution would be a federation of thousands of connected social media platforms, so one could be filtered, scrutinized, or abandoned if it wasn’t working.

Snowden blamed Silicon Valley’s desire for massive, world-eating services that take over. He warned that in the past, monopolies grew quietly, achieved a prominent platform, operated carefully and rationally to maximize profits. Then, once they got big and unstoppable, they became less careful and “more muscular,” trampling not just customers but paradigms, he said.

Tech executives are “asking us to accept a status quo in which we set aside competition in favor of scale. But we should be cautious,” he said. “To have one company that’s so powerful as to reshape the way we think -- I don’t think I have to describe how dangerous that is.”

Snowden answered questions from the audience. One attendee asked him how to protect individual privacy while working for change.

“The first thing is to care, and signal that you care. Be that person at Thanksgiving who brings it up. Don’t ruin Thanksgiving over it,” he said. “But really the most important thing is to make your voice heard.”

He suggested using apps like Signal and donating to organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation which work to educate politicians, reform laws, and work through the courts “to get that better brighter more free world.”

The rapid pace of technology, from cell phones to augmented reality means no one can predict whether a new kind of tech is a blessing or a curse, he said.

“What we can say is that we are living in a moment of possibility that will allow us to reshape not only the way we relate to technology but the way we relate to each other.”

The second annual Real Future Fair featured speakers on police reform, the future of work, diversity in tech, and internet harassment. After last week's election, the event organizers decided to give away free tickets. 

Snowden's next stop on the virtual Bay Area lecture circuit is in Febrary at City Arts and Lectures

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Twitter Takes New Steps to Address Cyberbullying]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 08:28:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Twitter-generic1.jpg

Twitter says it's giving users more tools to combat abuse that's becoming more common on the social media platform.

Users are getting more options for muting tweets they don't want to see, the company said in a blog post Tuesday. Reporting hateful conduct is becoming direct as well, and Twitter's support teams have been retrained on contextualizing hateful conduct so the company can take action faster and more transparently.

"We don't expect these announcements to suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that. Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn," the blog post said.

The expanded muting function being rolled out in the coming days allows users to mute phrases, keywords and conversations. Twitter said in the blog post that it's been a commonly requested feature.

Cyberbullying, harassment and abuse are on the rise on Twitter, the company said, and many on the platform have sought more action from Twitter to put an end to it.

Among the many people who have decried cyberbullying is Melania Trump, wife of President-elect Donald Trump. She's said she will make reigning in cyberbullying her priority as first lady.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Tech CEOs React to Trump Presidency]]> Fri, 11 Nov 2016 19:27:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TLMD-donald-trump-GettyImages-621869756.jpg

Donald Trump's election caused celebration, concern, and in the case of Silicon Valley tech companies, a flurry of memos and e-mails.

Some CEOs felt the need to reach out post-election, telling employees that even though the country might be changing, their companies will not.

"As it was becoming more obvious where the election was going, it would make sense to measure the organization," said Aaron Levie, Box CEO.

Levie is used to talking with his co-workers. But the CEO and co-founder of the Redwood City cloud storage company took it to another level after Trump's election with a memo to his workforce.

"I did get a couple of notes that evening with people wondering," Levie said. "It was clear we needed to communicate what we were going to stand for."

Levie was not the only one moved to write.

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out an all-hands, post-election message saying Apple employees should reach out to each other and celebrate diversity.

Delivery service Grubhub's CEO was criticized after writing that employees who share Trump's views should resign.

And a New Balance memo about things moving in the right direction with Trump as president was quickly passed around, leaving some who bought the company's shoes to literally trash them.

Levie is not looking for something that extreme.

"I'm hopeful we can work in a constructive way with the new administration," he said.

Levie said he got positive feedback from many in the company. He said the goal was to stay non-partisan, just supportive.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Delivery Robots Coming to Redwood City]]> Fri, 11 Nov 2016 18:24:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/222*120/deliverybotresized.jpg

Redwood City has agreed to pilot a fleet of delivery robots within the city.

In October, London-based company Starship Technologies approached the city to see if it would be receptive to being the primary pilot program for the robots in the United States.

After a review of the proposal, the City Council approved that request Thursday with plans to roll out the robots in December. 

The pilot program will last for nine months with another five robots being tested in Washington D.C. 

After the inital nine months, the city said it will review the results to decide whether to continue to approve the use of delivery robots on the sidewalks and streets.

"This is something totally new for Redwood City," Catherine Ralston, Redwood City's Economic Develoment Manager said.

Unlike drone delivery previously discussed by the council, the robots move at only four mph and are less of a safety concern on the ground, according to Ralston.

She says she hopes this announcement sends the message to more technology companies: "We are here."

"We are a technology hub and we are willing to accept new technologies," Ralston said.

Aside from its proximity to tech, the city staff report said the city's urban and suburban variety of development as well as residents high use of Munchery, Door Dash and other popular delivery services made it a good location for the pilot program.

Those that request restaurant and grocery delivery at a variety of vendors will see an option to have their groceries delivered by one of the Starship robots.

Should they choose that option, a robot manned by one of the two local Starship operaters would roll out to the order location. 

Residents waiting for their groceries would recieve a code that allows them to both track the delivery and unlock the grocery delivery when it arrives. 

The company has logged more than 10,000 miles with the robots and currently uses them in cities in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Photo Credit: Starship Technologies]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Worry About Trump Leads to Silicon Valley Stock Slump]]> Thu, 10 Nov 2016 18:56:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_456651566735.jpg

It’s natural to have some uncertainty about a new President-elect.

But in the case of Donald Trump, it’s costing Bay Area tech investors a lot of money.

Even as the Dow — fueled by bank and energy stocks — hit new record highs on Thursday, tech stocks tumbled. Apple stocks fell 3.3 percent, Amazon 4.3 percent, Google parent Alphabet 3.3 percent, and Facebook 4.7 respectively.

Blame uncertainty. Without knowing where Trump stands on tech, investors are backing away.

“The problem is there really isn’t a clear bridge between Silicon Valley and Trump’s administration," venture capitalist Hemant Taneja of General Catalyst said.

Without the bridge? Worry.

And with worry, comes more selling.

Scott tracks tech on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Social Media Comes Up Big During Election 2016]]> Wed, 09 Nov 2016 16:23:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Twitter-generic1.jpg

This was the election of social media.

While polls failed, research failed, and the so-called Clinton Mandate failed, social media soared.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton used Twitter and Facebook to reach out to voters. After the election, those voters — and other observers — used the same sites to celebrate, commiserate and reflect.

After a night where a record-setting 75 million tweets were sent, “People are sharing today,” San Jose State University media professor Richard Craig said. “Almost everybody is using it to vent.”

Like a baseball game or award show, it was possible to follow the presidential election, blow-by-blow, on social media.

And judging by the numbers, many people did just that.

Scott has elected to be on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Exec Adam Bain Steps Down to 'Do Something New' ]]> Wed, 09 Nov 2016 16:06:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/10-30-2013-twitter-generic.jpg

Twitter's Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain is resigning his post after six years in yet another shakeup at the struggling tech firm.

According to a report from the Mercury News on Wednesday, Bain will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto, and the firm will search for a new CFO.

In a series of tweets, Bain indicated he was ready to "do something new" outside the company.

San Francisco-based Twitter, which has struggled to expand its user base and to meet Wall Street expectations, saw its stock dip 4 percent Wednesday after the announcement, the newspaper said.

In October, the microblogging social network laid off about 350 workers, or roughly 9 percent of its worldwide workforce.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file
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<![CDATA[Top Google Doodles]]> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 04:33:44 -0800 2016 US Election Day doodle leads to a tool that helps users find their polling place, after playing a cute animation.]]> 2016 US Election Day doodle leads to a tool that helps users find their polling place, after playing a cute animation.]]> http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/election-doodle.png Since 1998, Google has created more than 2,000 colorful and imaginative doodles to commemorate important holidays and people. Take a look back at some of the most iconic designs from around the world.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Sues Oil Exec Alleging He Impersonated Elon Musk]]> Fri, 04 Nov 2016 03:19:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490597798.jpg

Tesla Motors has filed a suit against an oil industry executive, claiming the man impersonated the company's CEO Elon Musk in an email message, according to a report by Forbes.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Todd Katz, CEO for Quest Integrity Group, a Seattle-based company that provides services for oil and gas companies, Forbes reported.

Palo Alto-based Tesla claims Katz was trying to gain non-public financial information from the electric-car maker after its most recent earnings report, Forbes said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, Forbes said.

According to the suit, on Aug. 3, Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler received an email from elontesla@yahoo.com seeking confidential financial projections and car pre-order numbers beyond what was provided earlier that day during the company's earnings call with analysts, Forbes said. Wheeler did not provide the information.

The complaint says the email address is similar to one Musk has used in the past.

According to Forbes, the suit says the company's review determined that Katz was the author. Along with Katz, the complaint says as many as 10 others were involved. They were not identified.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>