<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 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, 23 Nov 2014 20:25:37 -0800 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 20:25:37 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:22:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TellSpec

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

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

Wearable Technology

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

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

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

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

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

Digitized Dining

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

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

Paying With Your Phone

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

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

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

Life360

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

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

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

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

3D Printers

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

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

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



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:36:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley CEOs Say More Immigrant Visas Needed to Keep Tech Industry Strong]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:11:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlmd_barack_obama_accion_ejecutiva_inmigrantes.jpg NBC Bay Area's Business and Tech reporter shows how the immigration debate also impacts visas for highly-educated tech workers.]]> <![CDATA[Apple Plans to Include Beats Music Service in iOS]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:06:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/173223604.jpg

Apple plans to incorporate its Beats music service, which it paid $3 billion for a few months ago, into its iOS mobile platform used on its iPads and iPhones.

The news comes from an unnamed source, the New York Times reported, and Apple will also lower the monthly subscription rates to "as low as $5 a month," a 50 percent drop. Apple declined to comment on the story.

Music plans seem to be hitting a $10 a month wall -- the price where most "casual listeners" drop out of the subscription service. The average payment is $50 to $55 a year from listeners. Although Apple's iOS 8 doesn't have a Beats Music app yet, Apple is expected to include the app by next March.

Apple bought Beats for its brand and its "cool" factor, but was it worth $3 billion? So far Apple hasn't made money on the acquisition.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Shuttle Drivers Give "Thumbs Up" to Unionize]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:11:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Crowdfunding Website Focused on Raising Money For Lawsuits]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:56:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1119-2014-LexShares.jpg

A new crowdfunding website aims to help raise money for legal cases.

Lex Shares, launching in New York, wants to bring investors together to help small businesses raise money to file lawsuits.

"So this gives the investors the opportunity to buy equity in the lawsuit," said Jay Greenberg, Lex Shares CEO. "And should the plaintiff prevail, by settlement or court judgement, the investors receive a return for investing in the case."

But, as legal analyst Steven Clark points out, what works in the tech sector doesn't necessarily work in the legal sector.

"Under California law, a lawyer is not allowed to split fees with a non-lawyer," Clark said. "So crowdfunding itself is frought with problems under California state bar rules."

But could access to money lead to more frivolous lawsuits?

Greenberg said that would not be the case because such lawsuits would not only fail to pass the company's vetting process, but typically don't make much money -- so they wouldn't be as attractive to investors.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Drivers Vote to Unionize, Demand More Pay]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:58:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

Shuttle bus drivers who schlep Facebook employees to and from Silicon Valley began voting on Wednesday on whether to form a union, arguing they have an archaic relationship with the tech giant, comparing their situation to nobles and servants.

A total of 87 drivers for Facebook's shuttle bus contractor, Loop Transportation in San Francisco, began voting in shifts throughout the day, deciding whether to become part of the Teamsters.

The drivers are hoping for higher pay and better health care insurance. But they'd also like a solution to the "horrendous" split shifts of driving Facebook employees to the Menlo Park campus beginning at 6 a.m. and returning home 14 hours later, only to be paid for eight of those hours, according to Rome A. Aloise, secretary for the Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro.

The union began circulating a petition a few weeks ago. By Wednesday, it had about 5,000 signatures.

Aloise said the shuttle drivers came to his group about six or seven months ago. Even though the driver work for Loop, because of who they take to work  - Facebook -  the labor fight has made it to the pages of USA Today, Business Insider and the New York Times.

"Zuckerberg needs to step up," Aloise said Wednesday morning by phone, adding that the Teamsters have tried to set up a meeting with him and even friended him on Facebook - to no avail. "These drivers are helping him and all his employees make a lot of money. And they just want a fair life."

Even though Facebook doesn't directly employ the drivers, Aloise said CEO Mark Zuckerberg should call up Loop and offer to close the gap on what the drivers are asking for because the company is so profitable and has such a high-profile image.

Facebook spokeswoman Genevieve Grdina declined to comment on Wednesday morning, even as drivers and their supporters rallied the evening before in front of the company's Menlo Park headquarters.

Protesters - many of whom were older men with gray beards - pumped their fists to beeping horns in front of the Facebook "thumbs up" sign in Menlo Park. Some held signs that read "Dear Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook drivers need you." Facebook has indicated in the past that the issue isn't with Facebook, it's with the company the drivers work for.

Loop Transportation President and CEO Jeff Leonoudakis responded Wednesday with a four-paragraph email lauding his "talented drivers." He said Loop has "long provided its dedicated professionals with one of the best wage and benefit packages in the Bay Area and comfortable accommodations between shifts."

Leonoudakis added that the drivers take home "$17-25" and get full medical benefits, up to $714 a month per employee paid by Loop, paid vacations, holidays and sick days. He added that during split shifts, drivers can hang out at either Loop and use the company's lounge with bunk beds to take a nap or watch TV, or eat for free at the Facebook campus.

Aloise said the Teamsters represent five other Loop driver groups, including those who work at San Francisco and Oakland international airports. Those drivers earn between $17 and $24 an hour, he said, but have much better health care packages, get a pension and don't have to work the split shifts. Aloise added that the Facebook shuttle drivers were earning about $17 or $18 an  hour until they began complaining and started receiving raises shortly after.

Drivers for public transportation services such as SF Muni, AC Transit and SamTrans, can make as much as $25 or even $30 an hour.

The union drew comparisons to a generic era of nobles and servants, likening Facebook techies to privileged players of a hierarchical social class.

"While your employees earn extraordinary wages and are able to live and enjoy life in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Bay Area, these drivers can't afford to support a family, send their children to school, or least of all, afford to even dream of buying a house anywhere near where they work," Aloise wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to Zuckerberg.

"This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants," the letter continued. "Frankly, little has changed; except your noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Google Trekkers Map Out Bay Area Trails]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 05:23:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1118-2014-GoogleTrekker1.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Reaction to Buzzfeed's report was swift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Budman contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[San Quentin Inmates Learn to Code]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:50:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/185*120/072114-san-quentin.jpg

You never leave San Quentin State Prison the same way you came in.

For 18 inmates of one of the state's most notorious prisons, the re-entry to life on the outside comes with programming skills.

Four days a week, instructors from Hack Reactor go to San Quentin State Prison to teach inmates how to code, USA Today reports.

The program is called Code.7370, which USA Today says is a "rigorous new coding boot camp."

The program boasts participants will be able to score "entry-level Web developer" jobs within six months of stepping in front of a monitor and typing their first keystrokes.

Some of the participants had never even seen a computer or smartphone.

A total of 100 men applied for the spots in the class, many of whom began serving prison terms before or during the first dot-com boom.

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

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

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

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

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


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<![CDATA[AT&T Customers Can Opt-Out of Tracking System]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 12:06:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/71515165.jpg

Customers with AT&T smartphones now have the option to opt-out of a controversial tracking system.

On Friday, the company shut down the program that allowed it to secretly track its customers’ web surfing.

Users can now said no to any tracking programs in the future. Verizon has been using a similar system for two years.

The company said it is part of its “precision market insights” system.

Customers can opt-out by clicking here.



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

Home surveillance systems are supposed to make residents feel safe.

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

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

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

That makes the home systems vulnerable to a simple hack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some devices are vulnerable include:

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[WATCH LIVE: The Tech Awards Gala 2014]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:45:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/187*120/2014-11-13_17-50-44.jpg

The 14th annual Tech Awards Gala presented by Applied Materials is taking place tonight, Nov. 13.

The Tech Awards is the signature program of the Tech Museum of Innovation. It honors individuals, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies who are using technology to significantly improve human conditions in the categories of environment, education, health and economic development.

This year 10 people who are using technology to benefit humanity will be recognized in front of 1,400 Silicon Valley technorati.

Among the award recipients and special guests are renowned philanthropist and media pioneer Ted Turner and 10 global innovators from India to Africa to Latin America.

WATCH LIVE: We will be streaming the Tech Awards Gala live on this page beginning at 7:40 p.m.  (Refresh this page after 7:40 to see the live stream)

When: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014

Where: San Jose McEnery Convention Center

Time: 7:40 pm - 9:40 pm

For more information on the Tech Awards, click here.



Photo Credit: The Tech Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Comet Scientist's Bad Wardrobe Choice Draws Attention]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 18:12:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/thatshirt2.jpg

The first pictures from the comet landing were spectacular, but it's another picture that's getting attention.

Scientist Dr. Matt Taylor — who led the European Space Agency team that landed a robot probe on a comet, capping a project project decades years in the making, according to the BBC — had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction at a celebratory press conference for the success of the Rosetta mission.

His shirt covered in cartoon-like images of buxom, scantily-clad women in seductive poses caught plenty of flak on Twitter for the unwelcoming, sexist message they said it could send women in science fields.

"ESA can land their robot on a comet. A comet! It’s amazing. But they still can’t see misogyny under their noses," Alice Bell wrote in a column for The Guardian. "Pointing this out is not a distraction to the science. It’s part of it."



Photo Credit: Nature News / Via youtube.com]]>
<![CDATA[Google Barges Considered Firetraps, Report Says]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 23:52:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/googlebarge.jpg

The mysterious Google barge that appeared near San Francisco and was eventually moved to Stockton, Calif. was supposed to be a mobile tech showroom, but the project was pulled because of fire-safety concerns, according to a report.

The U.S. Coast Guard had concerns about the possibility of fires on the barges because of the large amount of fuel on board, the Wall Street Journal reported. “These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board,” the Coast Guard’s acting chief of commercial vessel compliance wrote in an email to the contractor, Foss Maritime.

A Coast Guard inspector also wrote that the barges needed more safety measures -- however the Coast Guard officials all had to sign confidentiality agreements about the barges for Google so none of this was done publicly.
Neither Google nor Foss Maritime would comment on the report which was made public by the Freedom of Information Act. The Coast Guard reportedly said it "conducted its regulatory responsibilities when inspecting the Google barges” and had no further involvement.
The barges were created in 2011 to be "floating retail stores" but by early 2013, needed safety measures totaled 20 pages. Despite Google inviting officials on "field trips," the Coast Guard still wasn't won over. By September, the project's plug was pulled. In March, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission said the barge didn't have permits to stay near San Francisco and was moved to Stockton.
A similar barge in Maine was "dismantled in August, the containers sold for scrap," the WSJ reported.
The floating showroom idea was a good one, but unfortunately it looks like Google didn't research the project enough. Google's charm and money didn't seem to change the Coast Guard's mind nor ease the permitting process. Next time, Google will have to make sure all its ducks are in row before beginning a media extravaganza.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Zynga Co-Founder Now in Marijuana Business]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:42:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/194*120/060313-zynga-getty.jpg

From FarmVille to marijuana land.

Zynga co-founder Tom Bollich left mobile gaming to become CEO of a marijuana startup, according to reports.

CNN Money brings us word of the latest venture for Bollich, who left Zynga in 2009.

He's now CEO of Surna, a Colorado-based company that makes "equipment used in growing commercial marijuana," the website reported.

He says that running a company that deals in legal weed "remind[s him] a little bit of Zynga."

Before, he worked on a product that relied on the platform of Facebook and on the whims of its daily users. "Now, we are at the mercy of the whims of politicians and voters," he told the website.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rand Paul Plans Silicon Valley Campaign Office]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:45:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP13030614019.jpg

Sen. Rand Paul is talking openly about his potential run for president, a campaign he plans to wage in 2016. And he's open about the role Silicon Valley will play in his plans.

POLITICO reports Paul will open an office in his home state and another in Silicon Valley, where he'll "add ties and presumably fundraising heft" among tech elites, who tend to run libertarian when engaging in politics at all.

A Paul for President bid already has endorsements from Sen. Mitch McConnell, the incoming Senate Majority Leader.

Nate Morris, an entrepreneur figure on Fortune's "40 under 40" list, has already been working as a "door opener" for Paul in California tech circles, the magazine reported.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Profs Test 'Quake Tech That Could Save Homes]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:24:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Capture20.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Tommy Bravo]]>
<![CDATA[Hold the Mayo: SF Startup Sued Over Product Name]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 18:38:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mayo1.jpg

A San Francisco startup that makes food without eggs is being told to "hold the mayo."

Hampton Creek is being sued by food giant Unilever, maker of Hellman's and Best Foods Mayonnaise, over its product called "Just Mayo." The lawsuit claims Hampton's product shouldn't be called mayonnaise because it doesn't contain eggs.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a backer of the SF-based firm, a food technology company that is trying to make food that's both vegan and market-friendly.

Just Mayo is doing well to break into the $11.3 billion global mayonnaise market. The plant-based alternative is reportedly carried by Wal-Mart and Costco. That could be part of the issue: The company is doing too well for Unilever's liking.

Unilever, which is an enormous company and by far the biggest-yet challenger to Hampton Creek, did not comment to Forbes about the lawsuit.

Executives for Hampton Creek say Unilever has not had to deal with serious competition in 60 years. The suit "speaks to how backwards these people think about food," CEO Joshua Tetrick told the news source.

"We've done a lot of work on the legal side,” Tetrick told NBC Bay Area. “We call our product mayo for a reason.”

Whatever it's called, Hampton Creek is selling a lot of its vegan products, largely by claiming that they don't taste different from the alternatives.

Other backers of Hampton Creek include Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Asia, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

Hampton Creek was founded in 2011. Since then, it's also hired some talent formerly employed by Unilever, which tried – and failed – to make its own plant-based mayo, Forbes reported.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google Has Room For 30,000 New Hires ]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 15:16:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/71425751.jpg

Mountain View cannot contain Google.

So the company has offices in Redwood City, Sunnyvale, and is looking to add even more office space, despite having room already in the Bay Area to hire an additional 30,000 workers, according to reports.

Bay Area News Group reports that Google's recent real estate moves in Redwood City and Sunnyvale give it a stock of "dozens of buildings across a wide swath of the South Bay." 

Google first expanded beyond its Mountain View base in 2011, including a lease for 1.9 million square feet of office space in Sunnyvale that could be the biggest in California "in at least 15 years," the newspaper reported. Its Redwood City complex is at 934,000 square feet.

The company did not disclose what it paid for either, but Google did confirm that it plans to be the tenant for both, according to the newspaper.

Google has 55,000 employees worldwide. Real estate "insiders" say that with its current office space, Google plans to hire 5,000 workers a year "for at least the next five years," the newspaper reported.

There could be room for another 5,000 workers at a 1-million square foot space at NASA Ames Research Center, according to the paper.

No question: Google is growing.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Wants to Raise $1 Billion to Expand Service]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 11:34:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/uber-451549230.jpg

What's a ride worth?

Uber wants to raise $1 billion to further expand its service worldwide.

The ride-sharing company has set its sights on opening up shop in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Uber is already the highest valued private company in the Silicon Valley, and officials hope its reputation will help in the fundraising and expansion.

The 5-year-old company is currently operating in 45 countries.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Safety Sunk Plans For Google Barge]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 17:05:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/googlebarge.jpg

Fire sunk Google's plans for the high seas.

The mysterious and notorious Google barges that appeared on both coasts last year were scrapped after concerns over fire safety led the company to abandon ship, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that federal maritime officials told Foss Maritime Co., which had been developing the barges into floating "technology showrooms," that the barges' cargo — 5,000 gallons of fuel, and more "combustible material" on board — might cause unsightly scenes in the event of a fire.

The Coast Guard in 2013 worried about "people ... forced to jump overboard on the waterside," according to the newspaper.

Google declined to comment.

Two out of three original Google barges were sold for scrap. The third floats still in Stockton, where it "awaits its fate," the San Francisco Business Times reported.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Residents Complain of Peeping Drone]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 04:48:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/drone+generic.jpg

Residents of a San Jose high rise say a peeping Tom is using a drone with a GoPro camera attached to spy on them.

San Jose Downtown Residents Association President SK Panda said one of his neighbors was in her 10th floor condo when she noticed a blinking LED light outside of her window.

"They saw a guy with a skateboard next to him -- with a device that he was looking at," Panda said. "So we think that image that was transmitting from the drone -- he was able to look at those images live."

The man and his drone have been seen outside the building multiple times by residents. When neighbors realized they might be being filmed by the drone, they, too, took out their cameras and snapped photos of the man.

"It's important for everyone to be vigilant, and so far we know that a couple of residents have gotten photos," said Sam Liccardo, San Jose city council member. "And I hope that will spark an opportunity to crowd source and catch this guy."

Liccardo adds that police can take action if someone is spotted spying with a drone.

"There are state laws on the books that prohibit snooping of this sort," he said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kitchit App Provides Personal Chefs on Demand]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 23:33:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/219*120/cooking-generic.jpg

How would you like a personal chef to cook your dinner tomorrow? Now, it’s possible through a new app launched this week by a Bay Area company.

Kitchit has provided personal chefs on demand before. The company says that service is mostly for special events. The new feature “Kitchit Tonight” offers friends and families to make reservations up to 1 p.m. the day of the dinner. People can host 2-12 people at $39 a plate. Hosts provide the silverware, plates, drinks, and some cookware. The chef handles the meal and cleanup.

I spoke with Kitchit Executive Chef Alicia Jenish as she prepared a meal at a condo in San Francisco. She says Kitchit Tonight offers a different kind of experience for both guests and chefs.

"It's definitely more intimate with the guests. You get to see their reaction. You get to explain the food and talk about the menu and where the ingredients were sourced,” she said.

The menus are set by the company each week. Jenish chooses each three course meal. For this dinner she made fresh shrimp and rice spring rolls, five spice chicken over steamed spinach and black rice. For dessert, banana and rice pudding.

"We have a commissary that preps things to get it to a certain level," Jenish said. "So it's really easy for the chef to execute the meal once they get in the home. That helps us give a really consistent dinner."

As Jenish cooked, host Samantha Duvall proposed a toast with seven of her friends. Duvall says reserving a chef is easier than last minute reservations at a restaurant.

“It's really intimate to get all your friends around the table, in your own home,” Duvall said.

She also enjoys throwing dinner parties without having to go back and forth from the kitchen.

"I know a lot of people get intimidated with the idea if they have to cook and get ready and they have to set the table and everything. It's kind of a big deal."

“Lunch for tomorrow,” Jenish said placing the leftovers in the fridge.

She wiped down the counters and put the two pans she used back in the cabinets as Duvall and her guests sipped champagne.

Kitchit Tonight is currently only available in San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lyft Sues Former COO for Taking Secrets to Uber]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:11:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/450502210.jpg

Mobile rides startup Lyft is suing its former chief operating officer, Travis VanderZanden, for downloading confidential documents before joining its arch-nemesis, Uber.

VanderZanden is said to have forsaken his "confidentiality agreement and fiduciary duty" a few weeks before joining Uber, according to TechCrunch. He is accused of downloading and taking "strategic product plans, financial information, forecasts, and growth data," according to the complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court.

VanderZanden joined Lyft 18 months ago after Lyft acquired the startup Cherry and was quickly given the COO position where he orchestrated Lyft's expansion. He reportedly left in August after "reported tensions" with Lyft's founders and was hired at Uber a few months later to help with the company's growth around the world.

Lyft claims that VanderZanden notified the company of his plans to leave on Aug. 12 and soon after "backed up a number of emails and confidential documents" to his home computer and mobile phone before giving back the computer. Forensic analysis showed that VanderZanden did copy a noticeable amount of documents before his departure.

Lyft released this statement: "We are disappointed to have to take this step, but this unusual situation has left us no choice but to take the necessary legal action to protect our confidential information."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New NSA Director Tries to Make Nice With Silicon Valley]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:24:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_nsa_central.png

The new director of the National Security Agency paid a visit to Silicon Valley on Monday to send a message: The government is here to help and is nothing like other governments, according to reports.

CNET reports that Admiral Michael Rogers told a collection of professors and students at Stanford University, where he's trying to woo people to join the government rather than Google, it "doesn't do us any good to villainize either side of this argument."

Rogers is saying that working for the government collecting data has rewards "neither Google nor Apple can match," according to the website, and that American data collectors don't do the things counterparts in China or Russia do.

"I don't go into foreign companies, steal intellectual data" and pass it on, he said.

It remains to be seen whether existing American companies will still cool to government surveillance masters.

Tech companies are working on encrypting mobile operating systems as well as webmail, CNET reported, exactly the kind of moves needed to mask data from the government.



Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Inside Look: How Facebook Protects Users' Private Data]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 18:39:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/192*120/1138884201.jpg NBC Bay Area business and tech reporter Scott Budman got an exclusive look inside Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters and the company's security team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Damon Wayans, App Maven, Slated For Samsung Conference]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 15:23:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Damon-Wayans.jpg

Damon Wayans continues to channel “Hey Mon’s!” Mr. Hedley, a West Indian character he played on “In Living Color,” who scoffed at anyone who worked less than two jobs.

“I’m a comedian, writer, producer, father, grandfather and app maker,” Wayans laughed. It’s the former gig that will bring him to Cobb’s Comedy Club in SF Nov. 6-9, and the latter that will see him moderating a panel about global reach for mobile apps at the Samsung Developer Conference this month.

Wayans brought to life such characters as Mr. Hedley, Homey D. Clown, Handi Man and Head Detective on the ‘90s Fox sketch show “In Living Color,” and he’s been on the stand-up stage for more than 30 years. When trying to take a version of “In Living Color” online back in 2008, Wayans’ creative side took a blow.

“I went to my first convention, and they were talking about entertainment and how they were going to monetize content donations. They’re viewing what I do as a donation, and they’re going to make money off it,” he said. “That made me sick to my stomach. I needed to create tools to help create the content, because creating the content has little value.”

Wayans calls his app Diddeo a “pocket studio” where users can give their videos a professional makeover. With Smart phones able to produce hi-res video, Wayans calls Diddeo the “Rolls Royce of video creation.” In fact, he’s looking to launch a sketch comedy show using Diddeo, possibly with his son, Damon Wayans Jr., who’s having a great year with a starring role in the hit film “Let’s Be Cops.”

“It would me against the world, challenging the online community to do a sketch or music video parody,” Wayans said.

He’s also got FlickDat, an app to replace the paper business card.

“You can change all your contacts into business cards. You can add take a photo, make that your background, add a photo on top of that and add video to your business card,” Wayans said.

Wayans also spent a season on “Saturday Night Live.” He thinks when Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s hit sketch show “Key and Peele” hit, they’re really funny. But, he said since Dave Chappelle left his show, the void has yet to be filled.

“We’ve almost gone backward, if you think about Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and the doors they knocked down. Those doors have been put back up,” he said. “You can’t talk about race. You can’t talk about homosexuals. You can’t talk about politics. What can you talk about? There was a time when this country would laugh at itself.”

Wayans would love for his brother, Keenan Ivory, and Fox to work out the details to resurrect the groundbreaking “In Living Color,” if even for a one-off special.

“There’s still so much comedy in the world to be had,” he said. “We need to hold up a mirror.”

Visit cobbscomedyclub.com for more info on Damon Wayans shows.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

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<![CDATA[Tracking Technology Alerts Dispatchers When Police Draw Guns]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:39:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1031-2014-GunChip.jpg

Seconds matter for law enforcement. In a situation, seconds could be the difference between life and death. It’s those seconds the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is concerned about.

Sheriff Phil Wowak is having his deputies test new technology from Capitola start-up Yardarm Technologies.

It’s a microchip that goes in the handle of a firearm. It’s light and fits in the standard frame of the weapon. That chip can alert dispatch and other deputies every time the gun in pulled out of the holster, or even fired, in real time. The exact time and location is sent to dispatch, so backup can be on the way in seconds.

"That little piece of electronics connects that gun to the cloud, and from there we can do a lot of things with it. We can alert officers nearby, we can alert the commander that one of his officers has used his firearm in the line of duty,” said Yardarm Technologies VP of Marketing Jim Schaff.

It’s technology Deputy Daniel Robbins could have used a few weeks ago. He was chasing a suspect into a backyard with his gun when he accidentally gave dispatch the wrong address.

"Very uncommon that my beat partner happened to be right around the corner from me, so he was able to see where I was running,” Robbins said.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

Sheriff Wowak said the situation proves their office needs this technology.

"We're really proud to be on the cutting edge of something that I think is going to be a safety tool for all law enforcement worldwide,” Wowak said.

Schaff said a price has not been set. After this initial testing phase, he plans to sell the technology in mid-2015.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Uber For Kids? Shuddle Ride-Sharing Service Launches in Bay Area]]> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 11:23:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1030-2014-shuddle.jpg

When 9th-grader Julia needs a ride home from school when her mom's at work, she looks at her phone and waits for a driver. She doesn’t ask a friend anymore, she uses a new ride-sharing service called Shuddle.

It’s like Uber or Lyft, but for kids.

The company caters to families who need to be in two places at once. It’s for busy parents with busy kids.

Julia’s driver on Thursday afternoon was a teaching assistant and graduate student Julee Lee.

"I love meeting the kids and I really like that I can schedule it into my schedule,” Lee said.

Shuddle just launched in the Apple app store two weeks ago. Founder Nick Allen also co-founded Sidecar and says there's high demand from parents.

"My last company saw parents using Sidecar for this exact thing, but it wasn't really built for that. Drivers were confused and parents were confused. It didn't have the right insurance and I thought there's got to be a better way,” Allen said.

Parents can use the Shuddle app to schedule a ride up to a week in advance. The child will say a password that the driver also knows, to ensure they’re getting into the right car. Parents can track the trip on the app's GPS and receive an alert at drop-off. Parents are encouraged to meet the driver and can even ride along. Safety is the main priority.

"Our drivers go through very deep background checks,” Allen said. “That's national and local level. We meet them all and train them in person. They all have childcare experience which we verify through employment reference checks."

Julia says it took a bit to warm up to the idea.

"At first it was a little strange, but after the second ride I really got used to it and felt like it was very comfortable,” she said.

The service costs $9 a month, plus the cost of the trip. More than 100 drivers serve the Bay Area except San Jose, where Allen hopes to expand to soon.

Allen says he plans to expand nationwide in the future.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Pinterest's Seventh Employee On Being Black in Silicon Valley]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:02:38 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*160/B0E3v0nIUAAna4j.jpg

Justin Edmund is a designer for Pinterest. He's the company's seventh employee.

He is also a black man in America. And a black man in Silicon Valley. Two percent of Silicon Valley employees are black people, and at Pinterest, it's 1 percent, Edmund says. What's that like? Uncomfortable, and a bit weird, he tells USA Today.

He is "isolated," the newspaper writes, despite working in tech in San Francisco and living in the Mission District, two situations in high demand.

During the troubles in August in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, Edmund told his Twitter followers that he didn't feel comfortable going to the corner store for a Coke.

Even in San Francisco, he was worried about being "shot dead in my tracks because of a misunderstanding, or perhaps for no reason at all," feelings he expanded upon in a Medium essay that was widely-shared.

He has much to boast of: he is the first person in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree from Carnegie Mellon.

But, meanwhile, he's in a field that prides itself on changing the world... and he recognizes how much needs to change about that field.

He thinks companies should go around to schools and engage minority students and get them excited about technology: but more than that, get them excited about the idea that they can work on technology rather than just work on it.

"If the people who have the money and the power funnel them the right way and to the right places, we can solve these problems," he told the paper.



Photo Credit: Justin Edmund/Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Apple CEO Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to Be Gay"]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:41:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tim-cook.jpg

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out publicly about his sexuality in an op-ed for Bloomberg Businessweek, saying, "I'm proud to be gay" and that he hoped to inspire others.

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook said in the article, entitled "Tim Cook Speaks Up" published on Thursday. "So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."

Cook, who was named CEO in August 2011, has never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation, but he said many of his colleagues at Apple already knew. He said the choice to come out wasn’t easy as privacy is important to him, but he hopes his public declaration helps others.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook wrote. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Although Cook had never acknowledged he is a gay man, he spoke out against discrimination against the LGBT community in the past.

In June, he tweeted his support for the White House’s decision prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, calling it “a matter of basic human dignity." And in February, he applauded a coach of his hometown college football team for saying he would welcome a gay player on the team.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Students Operate Space Satellites Through NASA]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:11:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1029-2014-Satellite.jpg

Santa Clara University students are learning how to run space satellites thanks to a program with NASA's Ames Research Center.

The program places students into a mobile laboratory, which spends time on campus, at the research center or anywhere it needs to be to get a signal and communicate with the satellites. Officials said the university is the only school in the country where students operate government satellites.

Jake Hedlund and Nick Xydes, both engineering students at Santa Clara University, are participating in the program. The students are given missions that include gathering science data and sending commands to the satellite to tell it to run an experiment.

"We have living quarters," Xydes said. "We can eat, sleep while we do operations."

The mobile laboratory will be making trips to local schools in the future to show off the technology and try to get younger students interested in science and engineering.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Google to Pay Woman $2,250 for Showing Breasts on Street View]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:11:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP101027035159.jpg

Google was ordered to pay a Montreal woman $2,250 plus interest and court costs for photographing her and placing the images on Google Street View with her breasts partially exposed.

Although Maria Pia Grillo's face was blurred in the picture, she argued the photo showed her leaning forward while sitting on her porch and revealed a significant amount of cleavage. She said she was easily identifiable because her license plate remained unblurred in the image, according to the Telegraph (U.K.)

Grillo sued Google in 2011, asking for $45,000 in damages after "suffering mockery" from co-workers and a "loss of personal modesty and dignity." Google argued it was a picture taken from the street in a public place, but the judge decided to award Grillo $2,250 plus interest and court costs, and ordered Google to blur the house, the car and Grillo's entire image.

The photo can't be seen now, although you can see a before and after courtesy of a Montreal newspaper.



Photo Credit: AP]]>