<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:35:09 -0700 Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:35:09 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple Store Employees Learn How to Be Fashion Stylists]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:19:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/apple-watch-new-event.jpg

Apple Watches will come in a variety of styles and prices, and the company's retail division is reportedly being instructed on how to give fashion advice to customers.

9to5Mac published what appears to be a visual training guide for Apple retail employees to help them suggest the right Apple Watch to prospective customers based on fashion, lifestyle and job cues.

Among the tips: "Don't focus on price as a reason to recommend an option because many customers may be willing to spend more for a model that makes them feel good."

The tech media is already casting a side eye.

"The notion that a plainly dressed, modestly paid worker could become a fashion expert is a bit silly, and Apple's example customers don't always make sense," wrote Engadget. "What kind of waiter makes enough money to drop $1,000 on a steel smartwatch without flinching?"           

Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24, with a suggested retail price range of $349 to $1,049. There is also an 18-karat gold "Apple Watch Edition" option that starts at $10,000.

<![CDATA[Teamsters Push for Bus Driver Unionization]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:56:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/IMG_2449.JPG

Neither the unions nor the shuttle contractors are relenting in their scuffle over tech bus drivers.

Though tensions had eased a little by Monday for the Teamsters at Bauer's Intelligent Transportation headquarters, the unions are still upset with the employers of tech bus drivers.

The Teamsters filed an unfair labor relations complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Bauer, citing Bauer’s surveillance of employees and efforts to prevent employee union elections. That complaint is currently under review. Bauer is one of the eight major shuttle contractors for large, and typically high-tech, Bay Area companies.

When Teamsters began talking to Bauer’s shuttle drivers, the union felt that company management turned hostile. During outreach in the last month, Mark Gleason, principal officer for Teamsters 665, said that management at Bauer followed and confronted the Teamsters who were meeting with drivers in San Francisco. He wouldn't disclose the details of this supposed confrontation.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Bauer several times on Monday, but the company could not be reached for comment.

Bauer’s drivers are not the first in the commuter shuttle industry to consider the possibility of union negotiations. All shuttle drivers for Facebook worked out a contract with the Teamsters this February, raising the average Facebook shuttle driver’s hourly salary from $18 to $24.50. Drivers for Compass Transportation who make up some of the fleets for Ebay, Genentech, Apple, Yahoo, and Zynga recently voted to unionize with Teamsters as well. Gleason says the union has zeroed in on working with shuttle bus drivers because the drivers don’t necessarily reap the financial benefits of working with the tech industry.

Gleason explained, “Unlike the high priced skill set of the workforce in the tech industry, the bus drivers are not well paid.” Gleason estimates that tech bus drivers earn between $30,000 and $35,000 per year.

“Trying to live on $15 to $17 an hour to support yourself let alone a dependent is nearly impossible," Gleason said. " We think this industry should be providing wage and benefit structure that will support (the drivers).” In addition to wage increases, the union is also pushing to encourage compensation for drivers who work extra hours due to split shifts.


Shuttle bus drivers' right to unionize will also be up for public discussion Tuesday at a  San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss requiring commuter shuttle operators to demonstrate proof of labor harmony.

Photo Credit: Teamsters Local 665]]>
<![CDATA[White House Science Fair Features Bay Area Students]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:04:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/ruchipandya.jpg

Three Bay Area students got to meet the president on Monday, strutting their scientific know-how.

They’re among just a few dozen students from across the country invited to take part in the White House Science Fair.

Holly Jackson, 14, of San Jose created a device that could help design high performance protective gear like hazmat and space suits with its ability to measure the strength of stitched fabric. Holly's grandmother taught her how to sew when Holly was in fourth grade, piquing her interest in threads and fabrics.

Natalie Ng, 19, of Cupertino discovered a way to improve the diagnosis and treatment breast cancer by better predicting the metastasis of the disease. Ng also competed in the International BioGENEius Challenge in 2013 where she won First Place.

Ruchi Pandya, 18, of San Jose figured out how to use a single drop of blood to test for cardiac biomarkers, which could improve the way doctors diagnose heart health. In her spare time, Pandya is a teaching assistant for her school's STEM-research class, where she tutors ninth and tenth grade students in research and engineering.

Find more information about all of the science fair exhibits here.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Driverless Car Starts Journey from San Francisco to New York]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 21:44:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/autonomous-driving-vehicle-turning-into-traffic-for-delphi-drive-cross-country-road-trip.jpg

A driverless car took off from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge for its cross-country trip to New York.

The 10-day, 3,500-mile trip will be the first and longest coast-to-coast drive by an automated vehicle. The Delphi will navigate highways and other roadways with no human hands on the wheel.

But there will be an operator in the driver's seat at all times in case of trouble.

Photo Credit: Delphi]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Jobs Biopic Needs Extras]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:09:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_stevejobs12.jpg

The Steve Jobs biopic is looking for local extras.

Adults aged 18 and over are invited to sign up for free tickets to participate in a shoot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 29. The work is unpaid, though there is free parking and a raffle for electronic products such as an iPad.

According to The Bold Italic, Beau Bonneau began casting local parts and extras in January for the film starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak. The agency also sought locals in February to be a Rogen body double.

The film, written by Aaron Sorkin ('The Newsroom,' 'The West Wing') and co-starring Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, has had a bumpy history in pre-production. Variety reported that Sony dropped the picture in November; it was quickly signed by Universal. Christian Bale, the original choice for the lead actor, also departed in November, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Launches Money Transfer Tool]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 05:54:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/payments.png

Facebook is launching a new tool to let users transfer money in its Messenger application, competing with services like Venmo and Paypal.

As seen in the video above, users will be able to tap a dollar sign in the app, select an amount, and then tap send. It will be available across Android, iOS, and desktop.

Although the money transfer happens immediately, Facebook said it can take one to three business days for the funds to become available to use, depending on your bank.

Users will need to link their Visa or MasterCard debit card to Messenger the first time they send or receive money. Once added, users can also create a pin to make transactions more secure.

The company insisted that personal information will be protected in each transaction.

“We use secure systems that encrypt the connection between you and Facebook as well as your card information when you ask us to store it for you,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “We use layers of software and hardware protection that meet the highest industry standards.” 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Mile IQ App Helps Drivers Track Mileage for Business Trips]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 00:44:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0317-2015-MileIQ.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO - There's a new app out there that tracks you, and that's a good thing if you use your car for business purposes.

It’s called the Mile IQ app. You simply download the app and it tracks you when you drive. When you arrive at a location, you can open Mile IQ and swipe right if you just used your car for business purposes, or left if it was a personal trip. Users have their driving log e-mailed to them at the end of each day, month, and year so they can deduct those miles on their taxes.

"I've logged just this month alone 1,300 miles,” said the Owner of San Francisco Brewing Co. Josh Leavy.

Leavy is busy expanding his business and says they Mile IQ app saves him about 30 minutes a day.

“[Before Mile IQ] I was tracking it with a pen and a piece of paper using Google Maps which wasn't efficient at all. And I probably missed hundreds of dollars a month,” Leavy said.

"90 percent of the market is not doing anything to track their miles,” said Mile IQ Co-Founder and CEO Chuck Dietrich.

The app costs $6 a month, and is now available for both Apple and Android devices.

"The average business drive is $8.07. So every time you miss tracking a business drive it could be $8.07. So what we're trying to do is automate the process of capturing those drives,” Dietrich said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Google Maps Bay Area Hiking Trails]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:22:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GOOGLE-TRAIL-APP.jpg A first look at what could be your next "virtual vacation." Scott Budman reports.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Apple TV Working on 25-Channel Lineup]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:10:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/3.appletv.jpg

Apple is working on a 25-channel Apple TV online service, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is negotiating its lineup, but  has a commitment of about 25 channels including ABC, CBS and Fox. So far, Comcast's NBCUniversal is not on that list, likely because it's launching its own streaming service and a "falling out" during talks, unnamed sources claimed.

Despite NBC not on board, Apple has been in talks with the other two major broadcasters, as well as FX, ESPN and others. The idea is that it's a cable offering without the channels few watch. The price seems to be around $30 to $40 a month and is planned to launch in September on all Apple iOS devices.

Some say the company now has some momentum because it recently signed HBO Now to the service, but we will see how the service is received after HBO's popular "Game of Thrones" series season is over.

At only about $35 a month, the service may well beat cable's prices, but it may only succeed if it also gives quality service and the option to save viewing for later.

<![CDATA[Google Wants Robot Cars on Road By 2020]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 18:31:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Google-Driverless-Car.jpg

Google is hoping to have its self-driving cars for sale by 2020, according to reports. 

Chris Urmson, the project's chief, said that only Google's self-driving cars can "fully address safety concerns," according to the the Re/Code. Urmson was speaking Tuesday at the TED conference in Vancouver, saying he also wanted the cars ready before his 11-year-old son gets his license.

The cars have custom maps to guide them around their environment and no longer have a steering wheel for drivers to take the wheel in an emergency. From the report:

The company is currently logging three million miles in simulators every day, in addition to its real-world driving tests. Urmson showed how the vehicle can handle complex occurrences like traffic zone lane closures, a bike running a red light and even a woman in a motorized wheelchair chasing ducks.

While some states are already allowing  the self-driving cars to be tested on public streets, it may still take several years for state and federal regulators to approve the vehicles. That means seeing them for sale by 2020 seems a bit optimistic, especially when the tested vehicles aren't even freeway legal.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Start-Ups Looking to Disrupt Online Car Sales]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 19:57:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Used+Car+Still.png

With all the haggling, the hassles and the headaches, buying or selling a used car can be downright stressful. Now, several Bay Area start-ups founded mostly by Stanford Graduates are working to disrupt the traditional buying and selling experience. “We don’t have a showroom,” said Minnie Indersoll, the COO of Shift, one of several new online car selling companies. “We’re fundamentally quite different from a dealership. We’re not an end-to-end. We don’t ever purchase the cars. We don’t take title of the cars. We don’t have a showroom.” Since Shift doesn’t own the cars, it is not a licensed dealership.

This is where the disruption comes in. Shift, uses its website to pair buyers and sellers in what Ingersoll calls a “peer-to-peer” marketplace. Beepi, another start-up based in Los Altos, does the same thing, but Beepi’s co-founder thinks his company has an edge. “We think it’s important to play buy the rules if you want people to trust you,” Beepi co-founder Owen Savir said. “Even before we launched we got registered as a California dealer.”

Carlypso , another start-up headquartered in a small office in San Carlos, also opted to get registered as a California dealership. We got the license in order to be able to buy cars,” said Nicholas Hinrichsen, one of Carlypso’s Co-founder. Whereas Beepi and Shift don’t normally buy the cars, Carlypso buys the cars, but then sells them online instead of in a traditional used car lot. “We don’t store any cars. Only if and when someone buys a car he’ll pick it up from us, unless he wants us to ship it to him,” Hinrichsen said.

As the drive to disrupt the car sales industry races ahead, it’s catching the attention of traditional dealers. “We have met with the DMV and the DMV has indicated that they have an investigation ongoing,” said Larry Laskowski, the Executive Director of the Independent Auto Dealers Association of California.

In a statement to NBC Bay Area, a DMV spokesperson said “We are aware of these business models; however our policy is not to confirm or deny the existence of investigations.”

All three companies said they are working with the state to make sure they’re following all the rules and regulations. “We’re definitely working with the regulations, but we’re also engaging with the DMV and we’ve also been in talks with them since day one to try and push regulation forward and how we can try to bring it to the 21st century,” Savir said.

While scrolling through Yelp reviews, most companies receive five stars, but some reviewers complain about everything from wrong title, to expired smog certificates, to unavailable cars. Shift acknowledges the challenges and Ingersoll says her company is working to meet customers’ expectations. “There’s really a challenge in growing so fast and maintain a level of customer excellence so we’re not dropping the ball on just the little things,” said Ingersoll.

All of the start-ups say they want to take on the challenges and move into the fast lane of car sales. What they won’t say is how fast they’ve moved. None of the three would say how many cars they’ve sold in the year or so they’ve been in business, but all say it’s in the hundreds.

Consumer advocates say no matter where you buy your car, do your homework. Check for recalls and have a trusted mechanic inspect the car.

The non-profit Fair Warning looks at other online car companies like these and details state and federal regulations and law. Click here to read the Fair Warning story.

<![CDATA[Uber Competitor Wants Self-Flying Rideshare Cars in Air]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:25:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/201*120/aeromobilprototype.jpg

Imagine a car that flies in the air and dispenses passengers to the ground via parachute in case of emergency.

It may be closer to reality than you think: a European company called AeroMobil has created a prototype for a self-flying car and would like to put a taxi service in the air in the next two years.

"The sharing economy is excellent for us," AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik said to Mashable after delivering a keynote at the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin. "People will have this opportunity to call a 'flying Uber,' which will not just deliver you to the airport, but to your final destination."

With a projected date of 2017 to put them in the air, AeroMobil could land in the Bay Area long before the San Francisco to Los Angeles bullet train, which isn't scheduled to be completed until 2029.

Photo Credit: AeroMobil]]>
<![CDATA["Google Feud" Game Plays on Autocomplete Results]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:52:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-03-16+at+12.50.12+PM.png

The Google search bar is well known for displaying autocomplete results you might not have considered. Now, those results have become fodder for an online game called "Google Feud."

"Google Feud" is similar to the popular TV show "Family Feud." The game asks players to complete a number of queries based on what users search for.

How does it work? The game has four categories: culture, people, names and questions.

If you choose people, and the game asks you to complete the phrase 'My best friend is a ...' you might guess "girl, singer, or doctor." If your responses line up with the top 10 popular queries searched by Google visitors, then you earn a point. If not you get a strike. The round is over when you hit three strikes.

Google Feud is not the first online game based on Google autocomplete results. Last year, a board game called Query was launched, Mashable noted

The game's developer has not yet responded to a request for comment. 

Play Google Feud here.

<![CDATA[Google Apologizes for Glitch That Exposed Info]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 18:50:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/57374883.jpg A Silicon Valley tech giant slips up and a quarter of a million people had their private information public. Scott Budman reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google to Sunset Code Project Hosting Service]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:07:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/google22.jpg

Google will shut down its programming project hosting service in January 2016, a response to developers migrating away from using it.

The company announced Tuesday via the Google Open Source Blog that it has disabled new project creation on Google Code and acknowledged that, since launching the hosting service in 2006, "better" competitors like GitHub and Bitbucket have emerged to make it obsolete.

"As developers migrated away from Google Code, a growing share of the remaining projects were spam or abuse," reads the statement. "Lately, the administrative load has consisted almost exclusively of abuse management. After profiling non-abusive activity on Google Code, it has become clear to us that the service simply isn't needed anymore."

The Verge noted that the impending closure follows the shuttering of other established Google services like Google Wave, which went under in 2012, but that Google Code is different because it began before any competition existed.

<![CDATA[Pi Day 2015: 3.14 Things to Know About Pi]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 04:15:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pi-97065863.jpg

Saturday is Pi Day, a national celebration of the mathematical concept, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi equals 3.1415... and Saturday, 3-14-15, the only day this century that matches pi.

Schools and museums across the country have planned events to celebrate the concept, which has fascinated humans for centuries. Pi Day is also a good excuse for paying tribute to pies, whether sweet or savory. 

In the spirit of the holiday, here are 3.14 things you may not know about pi:

1. No one is certain who discovered pi as we know it today

But we do have some ideas. It seems that the Egyptians used pi in the construction of the Great Pyramid because when the perimeter is divided by its height, one gets a close approximation to 2π. It’s the same result if one divides the circumference of a circle by its radius.

But the most significant pi research might have come from the astronomer, Archimedes, around 250 B.C.

His mathematical calculation showed that pi was "between three and one seventh and three and 10 seventy firsts,” Steven Strogatz, an applied mathematics professor at Cornell University, told NBC Owned Television Stations. “He approached that putting a six sided figure into a circle, then made it 12 sided, and went all the way up to a 96-sided polygon.”

He proved that pi was found somewhere between these two numbers, which applied to all circles.

2. You can find your identity in pi

One myth is that since pi is a continuation of numbers, people’s identities can be found in the pattern: like social security numbers or birthdays.

This theory became popular when this meme appeared on George Takei’s Facebook:

But Professor Strogatz stressed that the meme is misleading.  Even if it is true (which is not yet known), the digits in pi would tell us nothing about a person's life or identity, because along with correct social security numbers and brithdays, there will also be wrong social security numbers and birthdays.

3. Proving pi with matches

You can prove pi exists with matches, toothpicks, a pen, or anything else that is the same length, explained Johnny Ball, the author of “Why Pi? (Big Questions).”

“There’s a wonderful way to find pi for yourself. You find a floor with parallel lines; you find matches, pins, pens, exactly the same length. If you drop a hundred of them at random on the floor, the points touching a line will equal pi,” Ball said.

The matches' length must be equal to the distance of the two parallel lines. After the matches are dropped, you multiply the number of matches thrown down by two and divide it by the total number of matches that touched a line, which will equal pi.

This problem was discovered in the 18th century by French mathematician Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.

Check out this video on Dr. Tony Padilla's YouTube channel Numberphile where he demostrates Buffon's Needle Problem:

3.14...Legislating against pi

In 1897, Indiana state legislators tried passing a Pi Bill that legally defined pi as 3.2. Edward J. Goodwin, a physician, convinced a well-known mathematical monthly newspaper that he had solved what mathematicians had tried to do for generations: squaring the circle. Simply put, squaring the circle is the impossible task of finding the area of a circle by finding the area of a square around it. Goodwin claimed that pi was 3.2 instead of a continuous number. The bill never became a law thanks to Professor C. A. Waldo who convinced the Indiana Senate that Goodwin’s discovery was not possible.

Photo Credit: Washington Post/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[SXSW Interactive Bans Drones]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 16:50:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/drone-generic-carlsbad-0926.jpg

The SXSW Interactive tech conference announced that drones are banned from the four-day festival because of the "safety risks drones present to the public," according to reports.

SXSW Interactive kicks off on Friday, but made the announcement Wednesday saying that drones not only were a safety concerns but also against a city ordinance, the New York Post reported. Despite the drone ban, there are still plans to have a "Robot Petting Zoo" with parakeet-sized drones flying around.

SXSW said it made the decision after numerous talks with "drone experts," users and experts. Exceptions will only be made within "certain trade show areas" where tethering could be used. "Airwaves and/or frequency spectrums generally used in the remote control of drones are too congested during the SXSW event to ensure operation safe from interference," organizers said.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[23andMe Sells DNA Info to Drug Companies]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:01:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*133/82749238.jpg

23andMe, a company that tested genetics for people and accumulated a 850,000-person database, will now mine that information for potential drug targets, according to reports.

The Mountain View, Calif. startup reported that Richard Scheller, former head of research and early development for drug-maker Roche, will become the company's chief science officer, the Wall Street Journal reported. About 80 percent of 23andMe customers agree that the company "owns the aggregated data with rights to use it for research."

Drug companies already use the data and those relationships will continue, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe's chief executive officer stated, but new clients will also be able to look broadly for information in the database without as many restrictions. Wojcicki is the estranged wife of Google founder Sergey Brin.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration halted 23andMe from selling its saliva kits for medical or diagnostic use, so the startup had to remake itself. While it still sells the kits for "ancestry discovery", Wojcicki said she and the company saw it as "an opportunity to transform." This meant hiring new senior executives and a chief medical officer.

While it took a while for 23andMe to find its place in Silicon Valley, it seems that it finally has found its niche.We can only hope those drug makers can create something innovative and affordable.

<![CDATA[Uber Wants to Hire 1 Million Women]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 18:03:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Uber+GettyImages_451551326.jpg

Uber announced it will create 1 million jobs for women in the next five years.

The announcement by the ride-sharing app came this week as part of a partnership with UN Women, a United Nations committee which supports global gender equality and which promotes access to jobs, according to both Uber chief Travis Kalanick and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Uber's female drivers isn't large — only about 14 percent of its 160,000 U.S. drivers are female, but it boasts "hundreds of thousands" across the globe, Mashable reported.

Uber can afford to create jobs because its latest funding round brought the startup's valuation to $40 billion and it now operates in 290 cities since it began in 2009. Several of its male drivers have also been accused of sexual harassment and assault in recent months.

<![CDATA[Wi-Fi Barbie Accused of Spying for Mattel]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 07:12:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/187*120/HelloBarbie.jpg

Hello Barbie, Mattel's new wi-fi enhanced doll with a tiny microphone, isn't even available yet, but she's already causing controversy, according to reports.

The latest Barbie features speech recognition software that enables conversations and recall's the owner's preferences. However, now privacy advocates say that the doll is violating children's policy and could be used for "stealth marketing" with toymakers listening in on the conversations or encouraging children to buy accessories.

"If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed," Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, said in a statement.

Using a microphone, speaker and LED lights inside the doll's necklace, and rechargeable batteries in its legs, Hello Barbies will be able to tell stories, jokes and play interactive games. After listening to its owner's conversation over time, the $75 doll could also reference some of the child's likes. The doll was created by Mattel and uses San Francisco-based startup ToyTalk for voice-recognition software.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition Wednesday asking Mattel to stop the doll, calling it "creepy," according to the Christian Science Monitor. The group and others believe that Hello Barbies treasure trove of information will be usedful to marketers.

Campbell said, "In Mattel's demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children."

Susan Linn, executive director of the Campaign, said that she was leery of Mattel's motives. "It's creepy — and creates a host of dangers for children and families,” she said.

Mattel said there is no controversy because it conformed to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and partner ToyTalk said that any information retrieved from Hello Barbie's owner is "never used for anything to do with marketing or publicity."

Ultimately the decision to buy the $75 doll is up to parents, but the doll won't go on sale until near the end of the year.

Photo Credit: Mattel]]>
<![CDATA[Global Outage Shuts Down Apple's iTunes, App Stores]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:06:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/158329790.jpg

Apple's widely used iTunes and app stores suffered a rare breakdown Wednesday, frustrating millions of music lovers and mobile device owners around the world.

The iPhone and iPad maker confirmed the outages in a post on its status notification page without providing any cause for the problem as of 1 p.m. ET. By then, the both the iTunes and app stores had been inaccessible for several hours to the exasperation of Apple users venting on social media and various online forums.

"We apologize to our customers experiencing problems with iTunes and other services this morning. The cause was an internal DNS error at Apple," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "We're working to make all of the services available to customers as soon as possible, and we thank everyone for their patience."

Besides the iTunes and mobile app stores, Apple's online book store and app store for its Mac computers weren't working either.

The disruption affects some of the world's most widely used — and most profitable services.

About 800 million accounts with credit cards linked to them have been set up on Apple's iTunes store since it opened in 2003 to sell digital music for the company's iPods.

More than 75 billion apps have been downloaded from the store that Apple opened in 2008 for the iPhone and, later, the iPad. Many of those apps charge a fee, or generate revenue from purchases of other services while people are using the program.

Last year, Apple's revenue from its iTunes, app, iBook, Mac app stores and other services totaled $18.5 billion, or an average of $50 million per day. That's still a small fraction of Apple's total revenue of $200 billion during that period.

The outages also will cut into the sale mobile app developers who keep most of the revenue from the programs sold in the app store. Last year alone, Apple distributed $10 billion to mobile app developers, an average of about $27 million per day.

The global outage comes two day after Apple unveiled its latest technology, the Apple Watch.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is hoping to attract even more traffic to its app store next month when the smart watch goes on sale.

The company's stock slipped 60 cents to $123.91 in early afternoon trading Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Removes "Feeling Fat" Emoji in Response to Petition]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 14:31:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/206*120/lEZAHEHTUqkhGeS-800x450-noPad.jpg

Catherine Weingarten was browsing Facebook one day when she noticed a status update with a puffy-cheeked emoji that read "feeling fat."

The Philadelphia resident had overcome what she calls "disordered eating" in her Change.org petition that called on the social media giant to remove the emoji, because, as she wrote, "fat is not a feeling."

More than 16,000 people nationwide have signed Weingarten's petition, which was filed with nonprofit Endangered Bodies. The hashtag #fatisnotafeeling has been adopted to discuss the topic on Twitter, according to Mashable

Facebook has responded by removing the emoji.

"We've heard from our community that listing 'feeling fat' as an option for status updates could reinforce negative body image, particularly for people struggling with eating disorders," reads a statement from Facebook. "So we’re going to remove 'feeling fat' from the list of options. We'll continue to listen to feedback as we think about ways to help people express themselves on Facebook."

There is a new emoji in place for the fallen "feeling fat." It's called "feeling stuffed."

However, a similar Change.org petition from Australia with more than 16,000 signatures urging Facebook to remove the "I feel fat" and "I feel ugly" status options has not received a response from the company despite receiving media attention from the Washington Post, Glamour and Cosmopolitan.

"Still no response from Facebook. Help me give them a reason to take this seriously!" Rebecca Guzelian, who also filed with Endangered Bodies, wrote in a petition update on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Faebook/Catherine Weingarten]]>
<![CDATA[CIA Sought to Hack Apple Devices: The Intercept]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:21:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/248*120/tlmd_apple_tecnologia_620.jpg

Several CIA-sponsored presentations over a two-year period reportedly described attempts at decrypting security in Apple mobile and laptop devices, according to reports.

Abstracts of the presentations were reported on The Intercept Tuesday, citing documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who now lives in exile in the former U.S.S.R. From the reports, it seems that attempts at hacking Apple products went back as far as 2010 at an annual conference called the Trusted Computing Base Jamboree, which is sponsored by the CIA's information operations center, the Intercept reported.

The same conference continued to talk about ways to bypass security on Apple devices, according to the report.

The government has complained about increased default encryption in mobile devices and the Internet that makes "lawful electronic surveillance impossible," according to Computerworld. Instead, the FBI and others would like encryption that could be bypassed for government requests for data. However, building this "backdoor" could be leaving a security exploit open for hackers.

In short, the government seems like it's been trying to hack into Apple's system without permission. Since the government can simply request information, we don't know why it would have to break into Apple's system to procure information unless the request was denied or deemed unlawful. Apple chief Tim Cook has previously said he doesn't want a government "backdoor" through the system because he doesn't want to invite the government onto Apple's servers. It's probably a wise move, but the U.S. government could find its way there with or without permission.

<![CDATA[Exhibit: Gentrification is Changing SF's Art Scene]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 18:30:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/art10.JPG

Truong Tran's target art pieces make a statement about what it means to be an artist of color in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco.

"We're both invisible and targeted," he says in a video promoting Framed Targets, his exhibit on display through April 11 at California Institute for Integral Studies.

Tran's perspective on the dwindling of the arts world in San Francisco has another layer since he is a gay man of color. He is "situated in a complex and contradictory position of feeling both invisible in the face of a growing demographic of mostly younger, mostly white and straight techies, and a target of the same economic forces driving this social transformation," according to the show's description.

Tran's show features more than 150 pieces including light sculptures, reports The Bold Italic. He uses discarded materials, drawing a comparison to his perceived place in the city.

On the lowbrow end of the local art scene, SF Weekly noted the release of "your first anti-gentrification anthem of 2015" this week as a group called dropped a video called "Mission I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down." It's a parody of "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," a 2007 song by LCD Soundsystem.

As each week seems to bring about a new depressing map showing skyrocketing rents and the displacement of poor, elderly and minority residents in San Francisco, artists are using the economic and social climate to fuel their ideas.

Photo Credit: Truong Tran ]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Spends $50M on Diversity in Tech]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 15:15:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP111004191461.jpg

Apple announced that it's giving $50 million to nonprofits that will train and recruit more women, minorities and veterans to work in the tech industry.

Apple human resources chief Denise Young Smith told Fortune that the company has been working with several organizations to create a more diverse workforce. “We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” Young Smith told Fortune. “There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”

For now, the initiatives are focusing on women and minorities, she said, although the company itself is also open to race and gender (its chief executive Tim Cook is openly gay.) Apple is maintaining a $40 million multi-year partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit that supports students at historically black colleges and universities.

“Historically, other organizations have provided scholarship dollars or focused on whatever area matters most to them,” Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told Fortune. “What differentiates this partnership with Apple is that it hits on everything that we do — it is the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization.”

Apple is also working with the National Center for Women and Information Technology to create more female workers in technology. About $10 million will be used to "double the number of four-year-degree recipients" the center currently has, Fortune reported. In addition, Apple is also talking to the military about increased technology training for veterans.

Although these projects will likely take several years to mature, Apple hopes to eventually partake of the fruit of its efforts more women and people of color diversifying and strengthening the tech industry.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Veteran Technology Blog Gigaom Pulls The Plug]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:05:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/om-malik-462854174-%281%29.jpg

One of San Francisco's earliest technology blogs has suddenly folded.

Nine-year-old Gigaom released a statement on Monday announcing the closure, citing an inability to pay its creditors in full: "All operations have ceased. We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets. The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy."

Company founder Om Malik left Gigaom in 2013 and joined venture capital firm True Ventures as partner, according to The Verge.

"Every founder starts on a path — hopeful and optimistic, full of desire to build something that helps change the world for the better, reshape an industry and hopefully become independent, both metaphorically and financially," Malik wrote about Gigaom on his own website. "Business, much like life, is not a movie and not everyone gets to have a story book ending."

Gigaom's website has not been taken down, but there is no new content as of Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sweetness App Makes Gift-Giving More Personal]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:33:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0309-2015-SweetnessApp.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO - If you want to sweeten up your friend's life, there's now an app for that. A San Francisco based company is hoping to make gift-giving more personal through sweet treats. It’s called the Sweetness App. It launches Tuesday March 10th.

"San Francisco is about to get a little sweeter,” said the app’s co-founder Sid Viswanathan.

To send a pastry to a friend, loved one, or co-worker, you simply download the app and enter some account information. Next, you select a treat and enter the recipient’s name and e-mail address. The company does the rest.

Employees coordinate with the friend to find out where they’d like their pastry delivered. The next day the sweetness arrives.

"To have a thoughtful experience, as if you were to go out there and buy a gift, package it yourself, and hand-deliver it to your recipient, yet you do this with the convenience of a mobile app with just a couple taps,” Viswanathan said.

You can also make a short video greeting card in the app, which is delivered to your friend via text message at the same time as the baked good.

"It really makes the gifting experience thoughtful and memorable."

The pastries come from one of five locally owned bakeries in San Francisco, like Cako Bakery. Employee Traye Turner says it's a great way to help them expand.

"We're thinking of ways to really put ourselves out there as much as possible and expose people to our signature flavors,” he said.

The cost is $20 for each of the treats.

It's only available in San Francisco right now, but the founders hope to spread their app and sweetness to the west coast and beyond.

You can find the app by going to: sweetnessapp.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook CPO Donates $1M to East Palo Alto Nonprofit]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 20:04:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/188*120/pookieliveinpeace.jpg

Facebook CPO Chris Cox and his wife, filmmaker Visra Vichit-Vadakan, have donated $1million to Live in Peace, an East Palo Alto nonprofit that provides academic, music and technology training to inner city youth.

"Live in Peace is just awesome," Cox wrote in a Facebook post explaining their donation. "They operate with a very organic model of connecting young people to their talents, to jobs, and to a bright picture of their future through a support system of leaders from their own community, with an emerging focus on creating networks between East Palo Alto youth and the universities, entrepreneurs, and tech companies that surround them. We can’t think of a more important mission or a more capable group to lead it."

Live in Peace hosts three separate programs for kids: L.I.P. Studio, which offers instruction in music production; The College Initiative, which concerns mentorship for traditional academic pursuits; and Streetcode Academy, a community-based "hacker school" that teaches coding.

Cox has been intimately aware of Live in Peace because he plays in a reggae band with one of its founders, Justin Phipps, according to Tech Crunch.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Live in Peace]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Tech Firms Flex Political Muscle]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:58:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/266*120/citiyhall.jpg The Silicon Valley may drive California's economic engine, but for years its political might has been missing. But things are changing. NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Son of Wrestler Portrayed in Foxcatcher Reflects on Movie, New Startup]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:07:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000010506926_1200x675_410088515515.jpg

Alexander Schultz, son of Dave Schultz, whose story was portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Oscar-nominated movie "Foxcatcher," talked movies and tech with NBC Bay Area last week.

Schultz is a budding tech entrepreneur living in San Francisco.

Dave Schultz was an Olympic World Champion wrestler who was murdered by his wrestling sponsor John duPont in 1996. His story was once again in the spotlight this year with the release of  "Foxcatcher." Steve Carell played duPont in the movie.

Schultz has watched the film about his father’s life five times.

“Anytime you have someone tell your story, it’s kind of out of your hands. The most important thing is that they get the bullet points right for the characters,” Schultz said of the movie.

In general, he thinks Hollywood did well with his family story.

(Left)Young Alexander Schultz with his dad Dave Schultz (Right)Alexander Schultz with Mark Ruffalo who portrayed Schultz's father in the movie "Foxcatcher."

“The movie is extremely well done and each actor embodies their real life counterpart to an incredible degree," Schultz said. "Some liberties are taken with the timeline, but that's understandable given the short period of time they have to tell a pretty complex story.”

Schultz has a pretty complex story to tell as well: the murder that audiences are watching at movie theaters was the backdrop to his childhood.

After his father’s murder, Schultz (who was nine at the time) moved from the DuPont Estate where his family lived to Foster City.

Schultz attended San Mateo High School, but eventually dropped out. Shaken by his father’s death, Schultz took a while to get back on track academically. Eventually, he completed his GED, attended community college and transferred to USF.

Today, Schultz is a part of the Bay Area tech scene. He is CEO and co-founder of an app called Complete which aims to use social media to help people achieve their goals. Schultz explained that much of the conversation he saw on social media was oriented around what people had already done.

“If we shifted the conversation to what you’re going to do, we can start collaborating,” he said. “We didn't just want to make a social network and say 'now talk about the future.' So we leveraged a habit nearly everyone has, writing down to-do's.”

This social to-do app syncs with social media accounts where friends can offer recommendations and support for goals. Schultz has used his app for crowdsourcing feedback often, from date ideas to hiring advice.

He even made a Complete post to commemorate his interview with NBC Bay Area.

<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Apple Launches Apple Watch, New MacBook]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 16:17:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TLMD-portada-apple-watch.jpg

The wait is over. Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the highly anticipated Apple watch at the latest Apple event Monday.

But, there’s more... He also unveiled a new MacBook, a streaming service partnership with HBO, and a foray into a software framework designed to help medical research.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Reacts to the New Apple Watch ]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:11:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/apple-event-465689046.jpg

The buzz around Apple's announcement of the new Apple watch exploded on Twitter as Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke of the product's features. Reaction to the new watch was mixed and fun. 

Apple called its newest creation the "most advanced timepiece ever created."


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Photos from Apple's "Spring Forward" Event]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:43:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TLMD-portada-apple-watch.jpg See live photos from Apple's "Spring Forward" March 9, 2015 event.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sen. Lindsey Graham Has Never Used Email]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:31:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/170334784.jpg

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been in Congress for 20 years and is a member of the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, but said he has never sent an email, according to reports.

Graham, who also serves on the budget, judiciary and appropriations committee, appeared on "Meet the Press"discussing the recent controversy about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sending emails from her private account. Moderator Chuck Todd asked Graham if he had a private email account. Graham said:

 "I don't email. No, you can have every email I've ever sent. I've never sent one."

The statement led to several incredulous posts around the Web, including a thread at Reddit which seemed alarmed that a sitting senator would be so disconnected from mainstream society. We suppose it is troubling to know that Graham is making decisions about privacy, technology and the law with little, if any, experience with the Internet.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Googler Alleges Sexual Harassment at Google]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:24:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/466915567.jpg

A former Google employee tweeted that she had been sexually harassed by two supervisors while Google allegedly did nothing to stop it.

Kelly Ellis, who was a software engineer at Google for four years, tweeted the comments Saturday, according to BuzzFeed. Ellis, now a software engineer at blog-publishing platform Medium, has previously written articles on sexual harassment and sexism in technology. She left Google last July.

The tweets reportedly said:

I've tweeted in the past about being afraid to burn bridges. [Expletive] them bridges, they're not worth my self respect.

Ellis later names two supervisors she alleged sexually harassed her, Google engineering director Rod Chavez and Vic Gundotra, former vice president of engineering and head of Google+, BuzzFeed reported. Chavez allegedly said, "It's taking all of my self control not to grab your [buttocks] right now." She also tweeted that she was actually written up by Google when she threw a drink on him:

Rod Chavez is an engineering director at Google, he sexually harassed me, Google did nothing about it. Reprimanded me instead of him.

She also said that Gundotra allegedly told her she looked "amazing" in a swimsuit. Gundotra left Google last year.

SF Weekly questioned Chavez about Ellis' tweets, but he denied any knowledge of them and said that he barely knew Ellis.

Did you know Ellis? "No not really," he said, “She used to work at Google I believe. She didn’t work with me but we worked in the same org.” 

Did you have much contact with her? “Not really.”

Chavez quickly ended the phone call, saying he needed to check with Google about whether he should be talking to the press.

Google has declined to comment on the allegations, but it should comment on the issue soon. It seems that the Internet is already judging the tech titan. Ellis, too, has been judged. She reportedly has been receiving threats after she made the sexual harassment allegations.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>