<![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 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:29:13 -0800 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:29:13 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man's iPads Stolen By Prospective Craigslist Buyer]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:35:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ipad_air_2_sim.jpg

A Ventura business owner was dragged by a car for several feet after trying to reclaim two iPads stolen by a prospective buyer he met on Craigslist, police said Saturday.

Around 5:15 p.m., the 34-year-old victim called police to report the robbery, which happened outside his business in a shopping center on West Main Street.

The man told police he had arranged to meet a potential buyer for his two iPads, but the robber instead took off with the devices without paying for them. He fled to a dark colored sedan parked nearby, where a second man was waiting and began to drive away.

The victim reached into the car trying to get the iPads back, and was dragged for several feet.

The victim suffered minor scrapes, but did not seek medical attention.

Anyone with information can call the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4400.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sidecar to Let Customers Choose Gender of Drivers]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 22:51:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/226*120/cab2.jpg

A Bay Area ride-share service is planning to step up to help female passengers feel safe.

Sidecar has announced on its blog it is letting customers select the gender of their drivers.

The San Francisco company has been letting users customize rides since February. And gender selection is the latest option.

This comes as Uber faces increasing criticism about its drivers. On Wednesday, an Uber driver near Boston was charged with sexually assaulting a passenger.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gilmore]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Up, Facebook Down For U.S. Teens]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:32:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/social_media_debate_president.jpg

Clicking "like"? You must be in your 20s.

Teenagers are Facebooking less and less, with the percentage of teens using Facebook dropping for the third-straight year, according to reports.

Bloomberg brings us word of a new review that shows 88 percent of social media users between the ages of 13 and 17 are Facebook users. That's some serious market saturation -- but when it comes to growth, Twitter is winning.

Twitter is now used among 48 percent of teens, up two points from the prior year, according to Frank N. Magid Associates.

Facebook was used by 95 percent of teens in 2012, a seven-point drop over the three-year period.

<![CDATA[LA Taxis May Get Apps as Ride-Shares Get LAX Nod]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:44:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/generic+traffic+taxi+vg.jpg

Imagine using an app on your smartphone to hail — not a ride share car — but any taxicab in Los Angeles.

Imagine a ride share car being permitted to drop off passengers at LAX — just like a taxi — because the ride-share company has agreed to be regulated.

Both perhaps unexpected prospects moved forward Thursday as two different Los Angeles City commissions took steps to advance Mayor Eric Garcetti's policy "to ensure equal competition among transportation platforms."

Within a handful of years, the emerging ride share industry — think Uber, Lyft, Sidecar — has grown to take as much as one-third of the fares that once went to traditional taxis.

Taxi companies are licensed by the city and subject to stringent regulation that ride share companies maintain do not apply to them. The taxi industry sees an unfair situation.

"It needs to a level playing field," said Simon Gevorkian, a taxi driver who also is a part owner of two taxi companies.

"We should be on the same level — under the same rules," said Andrey Primushko, President of United Taxi.

Ride-sharing has flourished through smartphone apps that enable riders to connect directly with nearby drivers, without any need to go through a dispatch service.

In response, several of the major cab companies, as well as tech companies, have developed so-called "e-hail" apps for taxis.

E-hail apps enable a rider to view a map showing all the available taxis in his area, and to choose by clicking. Advocates say the more taxis logged-on, the more likely one will be close to the rider, making the service more appealing.

"You need to see twenty cabs around you," said Sachin Kashal, chief product officer for Flywheel, an e-hail app. "If you have only a two minute, you'll call."

At this point, such e-hail programs are used by fewer than half of the city's cabdrivers, according to Eric Speigelman, the president of LA's Board of Taxicab Commissioners.

A motion introduced by Spiegelman proposes making it mandatory for all drivers and all taxis.

"E-hail technology has the potential to allow the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to enforce minimum standards of quality, safety, and equal service more efficiently than methods currently available," reads his motion in part.

Meantime at LAX, the airport commission heard from a series of travelers asking for the option of using ride share services for ground transportation after landing.

The city-owned airport has permitted ride shares — formally known as "transportation network companies — to drop off travelers, but not to make pickups, as taxis line up to do.

The commission directed staff to develop plans for a program that would allow ride shares to operate at the airport and promote "a level playing field."

Significantly, the ride shares would have to agree to observe city regulations — and possibly even pay fees — in order to participate.

Though the ride shares have sought to define themselves as different from transportation services subject to regulation, the lucrative airport pickup market may be sufficient inducement to persuade them to relent.

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Suspected Thief Identified on Tinder]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:14:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/TINDER1.JPG

The office of startup Buildzoom, has seen some ugly days. In July, co-founder David Petersen received an unusual call after several of his computers and equipment had vanished from the San Francisco building.

"An employee, he called me on my way to work and he says, ‘Hey Dave, are you playing a practical joke on me? My computer's missing,” Petersen said.

After three weeks and more missing computers, Petersen filed a police report on July 3 to try to figure out who had taken his stuff. But no one was caught.

So, he Petersen set up a security camera in the office. And he caught someone on it.

"You can see her creeping in,” Petersen said Thursday night, pointing to the footage.

The camera caught a woman sneaking around the Buildzoom office in San Francisco, grabbing a company bag, and then taking items off of employee desks.

Petersen claims the woman stole $30,000 worth of computers and tablets over several weeks. He posted her picture on social media and the company blog. No luck. So last week, he went a little more risqué, and turned to Tinder. It’s an app that connects two people who find each other attractive.

“And I'm like, wait a minute. If we put it on Tinder, thousands of people are going to see her [face], someone is going to know who she is,” he said.

Petersen posted a picture of the woman, with the words "I rob offices in SF, $5,000 reward for identifying me.”

"Within two days someone e-mailed me a name and a picture,” Petersen said.

NBC Bay Area asked Tinder what they thought of the story. They responded with a statement, "This is a very creative use of our platform. We're happy to hear that Tinder is helping people connect for a variety of reasons."

Peterson hopes police will make a quick arrest. He also thinks the Tinder app may have even helped his love life.

"My girlfriend did not have a Tinder account ... but I needed a girl's account and they link it to Facebook so I got her, I used the account, I created it and the good news is that account is now suspended. So she's banned from Tinder, which I think is good for me,” Petersen said smiling.

Petersen also plans to pay the reward if the woman is arrested. San Francisco police did not immediately comment on whether the woman in the video is a suspect or not.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Security Experts on Sony Hack: "WWIII Looks Like This"]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:03:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:08:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Multilingual Skype Translates As Users Speak]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:34:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6P+SKYPE+TRANSLATOR+PKG+-+00011301.jpg

A new, multilingual version of Skype translates what users are saying to one another in real-time.

It's not easy to use at first, or even download, but if you're patient, future Skype sessions will be pretty cool. It's like you have a translator sitting in the room with you.

For now, Skype is rolling out its Translator to a limited audience. It translates users’ conversation between Spanish and English as they speak. It can also text (including Klingon) in many other languages, also in real-time.

"The Star Trek instant translator from the 70s and 80s, we're getting close to it,” said Adam Blau of One Hour Translation, a translation services company.

Blau said the Skype Translator is a step in the right direction.

"It really brings up a big possibility for business, consumers, to understand what's being spoken,” Blau said. “It’s an exciting time for business, anybody working in a multi-lingual environment."

Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011 and admits this is Version 1.0 of Skype Translator. Windows 8.1 is required to use it.

<![CDATA["Uber for Pot:" Medical Marijuana Delivery Services ]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 05:56:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/uberpot.JPG

It’s the intersection of tech and pot. As more and more states legalize marijuana – both recreational and medicinal – the opportunity to cash in is blowing up. And ground zero is right here in the Bay Area.

Keith McCarty is CEO and founder of mobile app Eaze – a marijuana delivery service in the Bay Area also dubbed as “Uber for medical marijuana.” Customers register with their California medical marijuana identification card and then pick a product. They can even track its ETA on the app, all the way until it’s delivered to their doorstep.

“On average the delivery time in San Francisco is about 10 minutes,” McCarty said.

McCarty was employee number four at Yammer – a social networking service used by Fortune 500 companies which was bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion. Since the acquisition, McCarty set his sight on the next lucrative business.

“We want to get in right now so when this starts to evolve and take off and regulatory landscape continues to open up we’ll be best positioned,” he said.

Eaze officially launched in July, partnering with San Francisco’s largest dispensary Sparc to make its first deliveries. Eaze recently secured $1.5 million in investments. And in the last few weeks, there’s more competition.

Apothecarium, a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, just launched its delivery service after partnering with mobile app Meadow, which partners with multiple dispensaries. Meadow co-founder David Hua says the most important thing is following the law.

Both companies stress the drivers are employed by the dispensaries and that they just provide the technology.

“Tech often times skirts some of these things - if you look at Airbnb or Uber - this is not that space to do that in,” Hua said.

Apothecarium general manager Chase Chambers says business is booming and he believes Meadow’s app will only fuel the growth.

“Delivery is something our members have been asking for ever since we opened the door and it just didn’t seem feasible,” Chambers said. “But I think with tech innovation and companies like Meadow we’re able to reach the younger generation.”

Chambers adds using this technology will boost another demographic -- those who have a harder time physically getting the product they need: the elderly.

Banks don’t deal with this industry, one still deemed illegal by the federal authorities, which means this is a cash-only business.

McCarty says security mechanisms are built into the system: it isn’t just the recipient who tracks ETA, the dispensaries can also track their drivers.

“So if the driver starts to fall behind that delivery ETA it’ll be flagged and they can call the driver,” he said.

The group says this is the lead up to hitting it big in this “green rush.”

“I think there’s plenty of room for everybody – this is a business or industry that’s at $1.8 billion -- it’s going to be at $10.2 in the next 4 to 5 years,” Hua said. “Everyone’s going to be ordering their carrots and ordering their cannabis ... It's the same thing.”

<![CDATA[Pinterest Engineer Helps Bridge Silicon Valley Gender Gap]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:44:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/101210+computer+keyboard+generic.jpg

Tracy Chou is taking on the Silicon Valley gender gap.

And she's winning.

Chou is a 27-year-old software developer at Pinterest, where since she began, the number of female software developers has increased by "5 percent in one year," according to the Age, to an 83 percent male to 17 percent female ratio at the company.

That might not sound like a lot, but in an industry where only 15.29 percent of coders are women, and many Silicon Valley firms have far fewer women doing key work than that, it's not an insigificant achievement.

Chou is personally helping to bridge the gap by visiting universities and encouraging women with computer science degrees and coding chops to join the firm. Pinterest's most recent intern class was 29 percent women, and "three of those were hired full-time as engineers."

So it's getting better, but big firms are still lagging behind even the paltry 15.29 percent average. Airbnb, Dropbox, Wikimedia and Foursquare all have women percentages below the average. Even Change.org needs to change in order to become even averagely equal.

It's a tough road for women from the onset, The Age notes: women coders are outliers in computer science classes and can feel left out and isolated on the road from class to work.

Many companies have declined to present numbers of engineers who are women at their firms. The list of deniers includes Appel, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, The Age reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: eBay Considering Laying Off 10 Percent of Workforce]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:00:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/ebay+windows+f.jpg

Thousands of jobs could be cut from eBay as the online marketplace "spins off" PayPal, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people "familiar with" eBay's "thinking," as many as 3,000 jobs at eBay could be eliminated.

PayPal will be set up as an independent company sometime next year.

The cuts will come in eBay's "marketplace division," according to Reuters.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for eBay]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Protesters Disrupt Peter Thiel Talk at UC Berkeley]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 23:53:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/460277164_8.jpg Photos: Protesters Disrupt Peter Thiel Talk at UC Berkeley

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jesse Jackson Pitches Tech Diversity]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 18:53:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/REV.jpg

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has made tech diversity his mission for years. His latest stop this week featured a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a standing room only talk inside Intel's Santa Clara headquarters.

Introduced by Bay Area Journalist Van Jones, Rev. Jackson spoke about education and opportunity as the keys to giving young minorities a leg up on their way to the tech industry. He says it's then up to the companies themselves to increase their diversity efforts.

Coming on the heels of some pretty disappointing diversity reports from several tech companies, his timing is good.

"There have been patterns of exclusion of Blacks and Latinos," he says. "It limits growth. Inclusion leads to growth. Local companies say they agree. Pandora, based in Oakland, says it will triple its diversity budget next year."

As for his meeting with Tim Cook, Rev. Jackson says it went well. He says he encouraged Cook to "build Apple stores not just in downtown America, but in ghettos and barrios, too." He also reserved praise for Intel, whch hosted the event, and has committed to becoming more inclusive.

Scott is on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Glassdoor: Google Is Best Place to Work in America]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:39:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/google-campus.jpg

The road to perfect job satisfaction leads to Mountain View.

Google was voted the best place to work in America in Glassdoor's annual Employees' Choice Awards.

That makes Google the top tech company – an honor the search giant snatched away from Twitter – as well as the top overall company, beating out San Ramon-based Chevron as well as purveyors of pet food (Purina was No. 3) and consultants (Boston-headquartered Bain & Company was No. 2).

What makes Google so great? Is it the free luxury coach ride to work? The slew of perks at the massive Googleplex? The fact your employer is one of the most successful companies in recent American history?

Yes, yes and yes.

Past employees say the perks are unbelievable, with 15-plus cafes on the Google campus along with a 24-hour gym, volleyball pit, bowling alley, free laundry... the list goes on and on. Plus, Google employees are very well-compensated.

Overall, tech took a step back this year: There were 22 tech companies on the Top 50 best places to work in 2013. This year there were 14, VentureBeat noted.

Facebook came in at No. 13, with Apple finishing at 22nd. LinkedIn, another Mountain View headquartered company, was 23rd.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Mobile App Helps Diagnose Ear Infections]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:01:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1209-2014-Cellscope.jpg

Need help checking for an infection? There's a tool and app for that. San Francisco-based Cellscope created the “Oto” to help you get a remote diagnosis from a doctor fast.

"We can provide the magnified, and illumination that a doctor needs to see a great quality image of the eardrum,” said Cellscope Co-Founder and CEO Erik Douglas.

They call it the Cellscope Oto, short for otoscope, because it’s like the tool doctors use to check your ears. You can attach the Oto to your smartphone, open the app, and put the tip of the Oto in your kid's ear. The device magnifies the picture from your smartphone camera and sends a recording to a doctor.

"The doctor responds within two hours and gives you a diagnosis, a treatment plan, can call in a prescription if necessary. It saves you that trip, saves you that worry,” Douglas said.

Ear infections account for roughly 30 million trips to the doctor each year in the U.S. and are most common in children.

If you want to skip the doctor's office, the Oto costs $79. Each time you send a recording to a doctor for diagnosis, it costs $49.

It’s not covered by insurance and parents we spoke with had mixed reactions.

"At night, let's say you can't reach the doctor but you actually want to get some assistance...I'll give it a shot,” said father Mano Pillai.

“I'm skeptical because it seems like an unnecessary expense. I've had four kids, and I have a grandson now and I can tell if they have an ear infection. I don't need any device,” said mother Jamie Barker.

The Cellscope Oto went on sale Tuesday and is only available in California.

Douglas says the company is working on similar tools to help diagnose other infections in the future.

Photo Credit: Ian Cull]]>
<![CDATA[iPod Classic Fetching Up to $1,000 on Auction Sites]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:31:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/iPodClassic.jpg

Now that Apple has discontinued its iPod Classic, the device has been selling online for up to $1,000 a piece, according to reports.

A quick eBay search finds even used iPod Classics routinely going for between $150 and $200.

For most people, the question is, Why? It's a 4.9-ounce dinosaur with no capability except to listen to music, but perhaps people are nostalgic – and perhaps they also want 160GB of storage, which is far more than current iPods.

But $1,000?

Part of the reason for the demand is a result of Apple not making them anymore, but also it's a way for consumers to bypass the cloud storage model and own their songs and content outright, according to The Guardian. While Spotify can give users 120GB of storage, users also have to put up with interruptive commercials or fees.

The iPod Classic isn't the only device making a comeback. The flip phone has been seen in use among celebrities, such as Rihanna, and the Nokia 8210 has been selling well online.

While the reason for their popularity hasn't been well documented, the sound quality on those older, feature phones is typically much better than smartphones on the market today. Using a feature phone also keeps people from playing with their smartphones like zombies.

Photo Credit: Yoshiki via Flickr]]>
<![CDATA[Rich, Famous Pony Up $25 Million For Change.org]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 18:16:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/168214483.jpg

Change.org seeks to change the world. And wealthy celebrities including Bill Gates and Richard Branson want to make sure Change.org never goes away.

A pack of the world's rich-and-famous have assembled to give Change.org $25 million in funding, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

In addition to the Microsoft billionaire and the Virgin mogul, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Yahoo's Jerry Yang, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Arianna Huffington have all donated, the newspaper reported

Even Ashton Kutcher got on board!

In a report in Fortune, Change.org CEO Ben Rattray said that the San Francisco-based organization will be able to use the cash injection to pay for a mobile app. He'll also do more rounds of funding to pay off early investors.

Change.org has raised $42 million since 2007, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Editor's Picks: High-Tech to Low-Tech Toys 2014]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:06:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gift-guide-promo2.jpg

As the commercials roll out this holiday season, it’s hard to tell which toy to buy, especially if you’re buying for a video game lover or a board game player.  We’ve compiled just a few of our favorite picks, ranging from the most tech-oriented to the least.

High Tech:  the MiP, which stands for the Mobile Inverted Pendulum, a collaboration of WowWee toys and the University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab. It’s a fully interactive robot that moves about with hand movements. Retails for about $100. 

With drones all the rage, Air Hogs now has two toys we chose that hover over your head. One is the Atmosphere Axis (retails for about $25), which levitates and bounces off walls, as well as the Rollercopter (retails for about $44), which drives on the floor in a rolling cage, flies through the air and rolls on the ceiling.

Medium Tech: Cool Circuits light up puzzle,  and the Inventions Science Kit, both by ScienceWiz in Richmond. Each retails for about $20.

Low Tech: Creativity for Kids makes a plethora of DIY kits. Our favorites this year were the duct tape wallets and rubber band snaps. Wallet retails for about $7. Rubber band snaps cost about $18.

SpinMaster’s Quelf is a game where you answer crazy questions and perform ridiculous stunts. There’s only one rule: “Obey the card.” (Retails for about $15)

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<![CDATA[Drones Highlight Clash of Technology and Government]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:42:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/f0b3131c0e5846229ae4fd6798c0cdef.jpg Lawmakers are frantically trying to pass law regarding drones. It's the latest case of cutting-edge technology clashing with government. Scott Budman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Bay Area Tech Well Represented Onboard NASA's Orion]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:51:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP295465539544%281%29.jpg NASA's new Orion spacecraft made a "bull's-eye" splashdown in the Pacific on Friday following a dramatic test flight that took it to a zenith height of 3,600 miles and ushered in a new era of human exploration aiming for Mars. Scott Budman shows how Bay Area technology played a part.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sony Kept Passwords in File Named "Password"]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 20:49:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hacker2.jpg

Sony Pictures Entertainment is being blamed for lax security at its corporate headquarters, including saving thousands of its passwords in a file labeled "Password," making it easy for hackers to gain access to employee files and social security numbers.

Sony was hacked earlier this week, with many alleging saying it was North Korean hackers wreaking havoc for the studio's film "The Interview" a comedy about trying to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, according to the Re/Code.  The hackers likely found a lot to take because apparently Sony's computer security was deemed inadequate, even by its own employees, Fusion reported.

Social security numbers and information on its employees and actors were rampant in the files, including those 47,000 employees, including actors Sylvester Stallone and Rebel Wilson.  Those social security numbers and personal information were not found in only one place, either, but in duplicated in numerous documents, PC Magazine reported. 

"The most concerning finding in our analysis is the sheer number of duplicate copies of Social Security numbers that existed inside the files," Identify Finder chief executive Todd Feinman said in a statement to PC Magazine. "In this instance, some SSNs appeared in more than 400 different locations, giving hackers more opportunities to wreak havoc." 

One of the worst instances of this laxity was Sony's use of a file directory labeled "Password" which included 189 documents, spreadsheets and other files containing the company's passwords and social media accounts. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF Company Offers Gigabit Access]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:14:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Fingers_Keyboard_Generic_Internet_Safety_02.jpg

How much is gigabit Internet access in your home worth to you?

If you live in San Francisco, it may be worth $4,000. For starters.

Internet service provider MonkeyBrains says it can deliver home Internet access at speeds of up to 1 Gbps, or 10 times as fast as Comcast, for anyone willing to pony up and help fund an Indiegogo campaign.

Providing that at least 100 people donate.

Business Insider notes that a $2,500 donation will get donors a connection of up to 500 megabits per second. Some lucky and well-heeled Internet-seekers can get speeds of up to 700 megabits per second with a $4,000 payment.

MonkeyBrains is also asking donors to consider donating "double a link cost" to fund links in areas with "lower median incomes." Because, don't forget, there's a serious "digital divide": along with everything else, poorer areas have less than rich areas when it comes to Internet access.

<![CDATA[Orion Spacecraft to Launch New Era in Space Travel]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:52:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/459799276.jpg NBC Bay Area's Business and Tech Reporter Scott Budman spent the dya at NASA Ames as they prepared for the Orion launch.

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google Goes Big In LA, Gobbles Up 12 Acres In Playa Vista]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 08:10:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has set its sights on Hollywood.

And, for good measure, the Spruce Goose, too.

The Bay Area-based tech titan has moved to expand in Los Angeles in a big way with a $120 million purchase of 12 acres in Playa Vista, according to reports.

The Los Angeles Times notes that there's room at the site for up to 900,000 square feet of commercial space, a "vast" expansion of Google's current presence of a "handful" of buildings in LA.

Google is also expected to lease the 319,000-square foot hangar where aviator Howard Hughes built his colossal failure, the Spruce Goose, the newspaper reported.

Google declined to "detail its plans," but the newspaper guessed that as many as 6,000 workers could eventually have a home at the company's new base.

This latest acquisition is part of a sustained spending spree that's seen Google expand its presence in the Bay Area to 15 million square feet, according to the newspaper.

Google has a 100,000-square foot campus in Venice, where about 600 people work.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WozTV: Apple Co-Founder to Launch Reality TV Show]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 17:33:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/97191168.jpg

The Woz is coming to television.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is getting his very own reality show, according to CNBC.

The Woz will star in the appropriately-titled "The Woz," in which the charismatic former partner of Steve Jobs will "test various gadgets hands-on during the show," according to reports.

This time around, Wozniak's partner will be Kari Byron, of "Mythbusters" fame.

But when and where will it air? All is to be determined, though Woz and Byron are reportedly in talks with the Discovery Channel.

<![CDATA[SF Nonprofit Teaches San Quentin Inmates How to Code]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 23:45:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1201-2014-InmateCoding.jpg

San Quentin is California’s oldest state penitentiary and home to those sentenced to life behind bars – and even death – for the most violent of crimes.

Everything in and around the prison was designed to keep prisoners disconnected from the outside room, from the razor-wire fences to the towers manned by guards at all times.

Everything except one room where 18 students gather four times a week to learn skills they hope will land them a six-figure salary once they walk out of prison walls: coding. In the room, a former print shop, there are four rows of desks and refurbished computers. The “boys in blue” sit and watch a face projected on the screen at the front. The man talking is their instructor, teaching them from a remote location via Google Hangout. The class is focused on learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

It’s part of a new program titled Code 7370 offered by San Francisco-based nonprofit The Last Mile, headed up by husband-wife duo Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti.

“We want the guys, and hopefully women in the near future, to be taught inside, to be part of this onshoring movement which is taking people who are maybe in underserved neighborhoods, who don’t have the classic education to become junior coders,” explained Redlitz.

At the front of the room stood Aly Tamboura, 48, who was identified as a star student. Tamboura is also a felon finishing his 14-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon.

“I have 23 months remaining on that sentence,” Tamboura said. “I see this program as actually giving me the skills so when I get out I have a marketable skill to where I can go out from prison to the workforce.”

Chris Schumacher, 41, is serving a 16-year to life sentence for murder. Both he and Tamboura graduated from The Last Mile’s entrepreneurial training program during which they had to pitch start-ups to actual venture capitalists, businesspersons and investors at San Quentin during “Demo Day.”

He wanted to go a step further and take advantage of Code 7370.

“I was telling some friends that it felt a lot like a pitcher of water being poured into really small glass,” Schumacher described. “But with each day we learn a little bit more and it soaks in a little bit more.”

These are men who are learning how to write programming for apps, though they have never even touched a smartphone.

“I had a flip phone, a Nextel phone, but I don’t think it was very smart,” Tamboura joked.

The biggest hurdle here is what you cannot see among the technology in the prison classroom: there’s no internet connectivity. That’s where San Francisco-based program partner Hack Reactor plays a critical role.

“Every resource they have is either a book or documentation or files we have written or downloaded for them,” explained Wes Bailey, the program director for The Last Mile at Hack Reactor.

Hack Reactor teaches a rigorous three-month coding course that costs students more than $17,000 each. For the prisoners, the six-month elementary-level coding course is free.

“It’s the huge façade coming through the gates, the peeling paint, it’s like wow this is a place I don’t want to be and it’s a very intimidating environment,” Bailey said. “But I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised with how approachable and enthusiastic these guys are.”

These men acknowledge that the job force is gripped by stiff competition and that there’s unforgiving criticism to match: why should those who broke the law get a leg up?

Tamboura said it’s simple, they’re all returning to the community some day and want to maximize the result that they will never return.

“I can say that probably all of us want to do well in life. Nobody wants to come back here. Nobody wants to victimize anyone and this opportunity gives us a path so we can do that , so we can go out and be productive citizens.”

If that’s not sufficient for the naysayers, perhaps the following numbers will hit the mark. According to Chuck Pattillo, general manager of the California Prison Industry Authority (CalPIA), the decision to invest in these prisoners through steps like the coding program ultimately pay off for the taxpayers.

“In our Career Technical Education program, the cumulative recidivism rate is 7.1-percent,” Pattillo said. “So you think about 18 guys here, when they parole at that we’re talking 92.9-percent of these guys aren’t going to come back. That’s $60,000 a year. That’s over a million dollars annually in savings and I’m only investing 105 to 110-thousand dollars a year to run this program.”

Pattillo added he feels there’s a constitutional obligation to make sure people don’t go back to prison.

“So we will do whatever it takes to make sure they are prepared when they leave prison so they never come back again,” Pattillo said. “To do otherwise would be unconscionable.”

For inspiration, many of these men look to Kenyatta Leal, a graduate of The Last Mile who now works at tech start-up accelerator Rocketspace in San Francisco. We were there on his first day on the job in the summer of 2013.

“I’m getting emotional just thinking about it now because there’s some really, really good solid men who deserve a chance. That’s what motivates me.”

For Tamboura, the program has revolutionized the way he’s thinking about his remaining 23 months in prison.

“Now that I’m in this program I want the time to slow down because I want to absorb all of this. I want to be the best coder there is coming out of The Last Mile program.”

It’s inspirational even for those watching from the sidelines.

Phoun You, also a graduate of The Last Mile, said he opted not to pursue Code 7370 just yet but plans on doing it soon. Sentenced to 35 years to life for first-degree murder, You doesn’t have a shot at parole for another 15 years. Still, he said, watching his friends go through the course gives him hope.

“Even though I’ll be left behind, their success makes me feel good,” You said. “Gives me hope that maybe they can pave the way for guys left behind.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Robot Employees at San Jose OSH Store]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 14:07:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/0514-OSH.jpg

The robots will help you now.

Just in time for the holiday rush, the Orchard Supply Hardware in Midtown San Jose has put two new employees to work, both of whom are robots, according to reports.

Silicon Valley Community Newspapers reports the "5-foot tall, plastic shelled bots" are the first artificially-intelligent helpers at the nationwide chain, Lowe's owns OSH, and are helping workers find "odd part replacements or tools."

The robots aren't meant to replace human employees, company officials stress, merely help them as it's "impossible to know where every single item is," spokeswoman Amanda Manna told the newspaper.

But the computer knows.

The robots can scan a spare part held in a customer's hand and immediately locate a new part for sale.

The "OSHbots" will someday know more than just where to find a hammer: fluency in "five languages" will soon accompany the total knowledge of spare parts.

To see them in action, head to 377 Royal Ave. in San Jose.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Canada Trying to Lure Silicon Valley Based-Expats Home]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:29:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/456032710.jpg

There are as many as 350,000 Canadians living and working in Silicon Valley.

And Canadian tech firms would like to change that.

Technology startups located in Canada are offering top jobs, big pay, and the "chance to stamp their mark on a nascent industry" to Canadian nationals willing to take their tech talent home to Canadian startups, according to Reuters.

There's a blossoming tech hub near the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener in Ontario, where some former BlackBerry workers are at startups, the wire service reproted.

While the pay is lower in Canada, so is the asking price for an apartment -- and the commute is easier, too.

So far, Hootsuite, Wattpad and Shopify are the most-successful Canadian tech startups, according to Reuters.

But in addition to the easier living conditions, the Canadian government is also offering grants and tax credits.

Could tech start flowing north?

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Drivers Say Tech Company Shuttles Create Safety Hazards]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:01:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1126-2014-VTABus.jpg

Public bus drivers in the South Bay are issuing a warning to corporate employee shuttles for high tech companies, saying they are creating a safety hazard by parking in the public bus stops -- and they are demanding change.

VTA drivers said the corporate shuttles pull up at the stops, creating a public safety hazard for riders and other commuters. It is happening in Mountain View, Milpitas, and San Jose.

Riders said those buses are being delayed because somewhere along the route, some private vehicles park in a public bus stop.

"It makes other people late for their appointments," VTA rider Gabriel Zuniga said. "They have to start being more respectful."

“It makes everybody have to wait longer," another VTA rider Ramona Zuniga said. "And they shouldn’t be parked there in the first place.”

Just months ago this same issue created controversy in San Francisco when big groups began surrounding the private buses in protest.

Under a pilot program, shuttles in San Francisco now pay a nominal fee to stop at some Muni locations. The VTA is now working on a similar strategy in the South Bay.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Uber Now Valued At $40 Billion]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:04:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4532534881.jpg

Bloomberg is reporting that T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Investments, two firms that handle many Americans' retirement accounts, are thinking about buying into Uber during the app-hailed taxi alternative's latest round of fundraising.

And Uber is seeking funds at a valuation that's risen to as high as $40 billion, according to the unnamed sources.

This would suggest that there has yet to be much long-standing fallout over Uber's spying scandal, in which an executive suggested digging into a journalist's personal data.

T. Rowe Price had earlier declined to fund Uber, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

Rumors about an additional fundraising round for Uber have been circulating for the last month, with other valuations pegged at $25 billion.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Security Guards Want Better Pay, Conditions]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:58:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/455724848.jpg

Apple's security guards are attempting to unionize and want better working conditions which seems to mean a higher rate of pay and full-time hours, according to a report.

United Service Works West, along with the civil rights activist Rev. Jess Jackson, have called on Apple to create a better workplace for the security guards who average about $19.77 an hour, according to the San Jose Mercury News. 

Tech companies' use of contract workers to do janitorial, food service, security and drive buses, have arguably created a two-tier employee system. Tech workers get great pay, perks and benefits, while the service workers are paid considerably less and do not have any employee perks such as free onsite lunches, yoga or child care. Google recently put security guards on its payroll, where they will receive all the benefits of a Google employee.

The divide is an economic one, but also a racial one, too. The majority of service workers are black and Latino, according to reports.

Jackson wrote a letter to Apple chief Tim Cook to look at how its security guards are being treated by their contractor Security Industry Specialists and "urged him to take a stand," the Mercury News reported. "Part of the narrative of their firm is equitable and first-class leadership," Jackson told the newspaper. "As they grow at such a rapid pace, they should have world-class working conditions for their workers from the bottom up."

While SIS has argued their pay is higher than average across the Valley, a union spokesman pointed out that many of its listings are for part-time employment rather than full-time -- an impossible amount of money to live on in the Bay Area.

The question is whether tech companies with dragon's hoards of cash will put these men and women on their payroll or continue to treat them as contract workers. Putting them on the payroll would mean minimal problems or transition, but for some, perhaps saving that extra bit of cash is worth the negative publicity.


Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Start-Up Pledges to Keep Packages Safe]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:42:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1125-2014-Doorman.jpg

A San Francisco start-up wants to make sure you never miss a package again, or have one stolen off your doorstep. Doorman delivers boxes and envelopes to your door, when you are home.

“Shopping behavior online is changing dramatically,” said Co-Founder of Doorman Kapil Israni. “People are getting their toilet paper online. The problem is they're never home to get their package."

Doorman gives its customers an address to use when purchasing online. That package goes to the company’s warehouse, and customers are alerted when it arrives. The user can then respond with what time they’ll be home that night. One of the part-time contracted drivers then takes the package to your front door and texts you when they’re outside. Deliveries are made between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week.

"This is our attempt to modernize the last broken piece of e-commerce,” said Co-Founder Zander Adell.

Packages arrive the same day they would if you ordered directly from a retailer. The cost is $4 per package, or $20 dollars a month. The hope, is you'll never miss a package again.

“There's nothing worse than getting a door tag. I'd rather get a parking ticket,” said customer Michele Mandell.

“If I'm not home, (other delivery companies) just return it. Then I have to take my car to the center and lose 3-4 hours,” said customer Loic Le Meur.

For now, Doorman is only available in San Francisco, but there are other options in the Bay Area.

Amazon has lockers you can ship packages to, and pick them up when you’re available.

If you ship through the Postal Service, you're urged to insure your package and make sure the box or envelope has to be signed for when it arrives. You can also track its progress online.

"One thing people do is have a trusted neighbor keep an eye out for their packages and say, 'hey, I'm expecting something, can you keep an eye out for it, and I'll do the same,” said USPS Spokesperson Augustine Ruiz.

The Postal Service announced its employees will begin delivering seven days a week through the holidays. USPS expects to deliver 12 percent more packages this holiday season than the same time last year. That equals more than 450 million packages.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Say They Will Drive Less for Uber: Report]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:36:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/453253488.jpg

In the wake of Uber's privacy scandal, 45 percent of Uber drivers said they would drive less for the service -- including 13 percent who said they'd stop driving for Travis Kalanick's ride-sharing company altogether, according to Forbes.

Forbes reports that an analytics platform surveyed 184 drivers who provide rides via the app and found that 55 percent wouldn't change their habits. The other 45 percent surveyed said they would either drive less or not at all.

The driver fallout follows a wave of Uber users who said they would uninstall the app after BuzzFeed revealed an Uber exec's mention of the ability to find out where certain tech journalists had been.

Forbes also reported drivers were also asked to rate their love of the app from 1 to 5, with 1 having "disdain" for the app -- 1 received the most votes.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Security Breaches Spark Call for New Credit Card Technology]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:47:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/credit+cards+generic.jpg San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is urging business owners to adopt a new credit card technology that inclues a microchip and pin number for each card. Michelle Roberts reports.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3-D Printing Gives Chance to Little Girl Born With Heart Defect ]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:31:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/195*120/11-24-14_Heart-Defect-Surgery-Hensel.JPG

Esther Perez was born with heart defects that could have taken her young life, but thanks to a series of breakthrough procedures at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the now-14-month-old little girl is thriving.

Using a series of conventional MRIs, 3-D MRIs and an incredible printer that reconstructed a model of the girl’s heart, doctors were able to plan her surgery, practice it and reduce her risks and increase her chances of survival.

That was the first miracle for her mother, Martha Perez, who found about her daughter's medical problem while she was still in the womb.

"I stop the pregnancy, or continue. Maybe the baby will be born for just five, 10 minutes, and then the baby maybe will be dying," she recalled, near tears.

Perez credits her faith with helping her to make it through the pregnancy, but when Esther was born, things looked bleak.

Her cardiologist said the baby just wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her body.

An early surgery provided a temporary fix, but as time went on it became clear a second, much more serious operation was needed.

Doctors decided the innovations could help, including creating a life-size model of Esther’s heart.

The paper-and-plastic model was an exact replica of Esther’s heart, so doctors could explore and strategize before the actual surgery.

"As soon as we opened the heart, it was exactly as I had seen before, so making the patch and doing the connections were quite straightforward," said Dr. Richard Kim, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on Esther.

Similar heart surgeries were done long before the 3-D technology was available, but doctors said it has helped increase the effectiveness and safety of similar operations.

Dr. Kim said Esther now stands a very good chance of having a healthy, normal life.

Perez said she’s grateful for the chance her daughter has been given.

"It’s a miracle," she said.