<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usMon, 30 May 2016 00:09:16 -0700Mon, 30 May 2016 00:09:16 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Why Not Use Streaming Technology for Aircraft Data? ]]> Sun, 29 May 2016 14:27:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/VoiceRecorderAircraft-GettyImages-461475586%281%29.jpg

The use of black boxes to record critical flight data is striking many experts as antiquated, even though technology exists to stream information from an aircraft to a ground computer, according to NBC News. 

The system doesn’t continuously send data to ground-based computers, but activates in the event of an abnormal occurrence, sending data to the airline to analyze. The airline can then apply corrective action. 

The streaming devices are similar to the hardware used in black boxes on aircraft for decades. In the event of a plane crash, the data transmitted can help searchers pinpoint a specific search location. 

The technology hasn’t been widely adopted, mainly because of the cost. FLYHT Aerospace Solutions, a Canadian company, provides an on-demand black box at about $100,000 per plane.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Postpones Rocket Launch, Attempted Landing]]> Thu, 26 May 2016 17:48:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_40364550147.jpg

SpaceX postponed the satellite launch of a rocket that would attempt to land on a ship at sea for a third time Thursday, NBC News reported.

The launch was postponed until Friday, because of a “tiny glitch in the upper stage engine actuator," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted

The Thaicom-8 commercial communications satellite will lift off atop SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. After the rocket’s two stages separate, the second one will carry Thaicom-8 to orbit. The first one will come back and try to land on one of SpaceX’s two drone ships stationed off the Florida coast.

"As with other missions going to geostationary orbits, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing," SpaceX wrote in a statement. 

The landings are part of SpaceX’s effort to develop usable rockets.

Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Use of Drones Grows in Firefighting Efforts]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 15:32:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2016-05-25-drone.jpg

As firefighters braved the smoke and flames from the ground and rooftops, a small object soared above their heads Wednesday morning, trying to assist their efforts as a five-alarm fire ripped through a Santa Clara, California, strip mall.

The drone was sent up by the Santa Clara Fire Department volunteers to try to pinpoint how to best fight the blaze, which affected about a dozen small shops and restaurants in the Koreatown mall.

The use of drones by fire departments and police agencies has grown across the country from Connecticut to Spokane, Washington, though there are some controversies and hurdles surrounding their use.

"It's not a perfect application for every fire," Santa Clara Fire Chief Bill Kelly told NBC Bay Area. "But a view from that vantage point helps us figure out tactical methods, like where to put the hose stream."

Kelly said the quality of the hobbyist drone isn't all that great, and the video doesn't provide deep thermal images. "But it was useful today," he said. "It gives you a bird's eye view."

Santa Clara police began using an amateur drone a year ago, and nearby Menlo Park has been using them, too. Coincidentally, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman announced on Wednesday that his fire agency was the first in Northern California to be authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones. His department will be using three drones: the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, the DJI Inspire One and the DJI Phantom 4 that use thermal imaging, visual tracking of moving objects, collision avoidance and other high-tech features. It took the Menlo Park Fire Department more than two years to be approved through an "onerous" procedural process, Schapelhouman said.

There are basically two types of drones — ones used by hobbyists and ones used by the military, explained CalFire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff. And there are a few types in between, including commercial-style drones used for crop spraying and making movies.

CalFire does not own either of the types, she said. Rather, the state agency borrows U.S. Forest Service-owned, military-grade drones that can fly above 10,000 feet to document how large fires have spread, find hot spots and survey damage. The California National Guard in 2013 operated the MQ-1 "Predator" over the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park to stream real-time video down to the command post.

At this point, CalFire is doing some research into whether a non-military-grade drone, which flies more directly over the scene, would be of practical use, Tolmachoff said, noting their use is gaining in popularity with local departments, such as Santa Clara.

While the images could be helpful, Tolmachoff said, there are challenges with using drones, too. The small aircraft can get in the way of large firefighting helicopters dousing the fires with buckets of water.

For example, a private drone hindered CalFire efforts in June 2014 as firefighters were fighting a fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and a hobby drone prevented CalFire from launching air tankers during the San Bernardino wildfire last July.

Coordinating between the drone and the helicopter — so that they don't crash into each other — would be a large effort. "One of those drones could bring down a chopper," Tolmachoff said.

Any kind of technology has advantages and disadvantages, said DroneLife.com editor-in-chief Frank Schroth, who nevertheless added that he is a staunch drone advocate.

Flying drones takes skill and practice, he said, and shouldn't be taken lightly, just as a driver wouldn't get behind the wheel without lessons and a license.

Schroth compared drones today to smart phones 15 years ago - there is a lot of room for growth and improvement.

"There is plenty of room for abuse," he said. "But as with anything, it has the potential to do a lot of good."

<![CDATA[Vallejo Unveils Plans for Electric Car Plant]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:41:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/car+charger.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO - The city of Vallejo, which emerged from bankruptcy five years ago, is poised to get a big economic boost as plans to build a major plant for electric cars are rolling forward, officials said Tuesday.

City leaders later this month will consider and vote on an exclusive negotiating agreement with Faraday Future for a 150-acre plant on the north end of Mare Island, a former U.S. Navy shipyard.

``When we first started marketing this property, our first objective was good-paying jobs with green technology and an employer willing and able to make the necessary investment,'' said Mayor Osby Davis. ``Faraday Future and its plans to make Vallejo its second manufacturing site and bring green technology to Mare Island checks all the boxes.''

The plant is expected to create hundreds of jobs and to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Vallejo. The city on San Pablo Bay, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, was the original capital of California and was once a thriving naval center. But in 2008, this diverse working-class city had tens of millions of dollars in debt and filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Funds for paying benefits to current and retired city workers dried up; both the police and fire departments shrank by more than 40 percent; about 60 percent of city homeowners tanked on their mortgages, and storefronts went vacant. Unemployment spiked to 15 percent.

In 2011, a federal judge approved Vallejo's $50 million debt-restructuring plan, which included lower interest payments to creditors, leaner employee contracts and reduced benefits for retirees, who now must pay more for their health plans.

Since then, it has been slowly rebuilding.

The electric car project would bring Vallejo increased property, sales, utility and hotel taxes among other boons.

``We anticipate that the project will create hundreds of construction-related, ongoing professional, and manufacturing jobs to local residents,'' said Faraday Future spokeswoman Stacy Morris. ``Additionally, the investment in our manufacturing facility, customer experience center, and business offices is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This includes investing significantly in the restoration and revitalization of the land surrounding the facility.''

Mare Island already is home to more than 100 businesses occupying more than 3.5 million square feet, 2,300 jobs, a residential community of 324 homes, a public golf course and Touro University. Companies on Mare Island are producing craft beer, high-end manufactured housing and earthquake-protective stabilization bearings relied upon by builders worldwide.

Headquartered in a low-profile office just south of Los Angeles, Faraday is holding a lot of details about the project close. Though it won't confirm the source of its funds, documents filed in California point to a parent company run by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, who styles himself after Apple's late Steve Jobs. It employs about 760 people in the United States.

Last month, the upstart electric car company marked the start of construction on a planned $1 billion Las Vegas-area production plant, where they hope to have the first vehicles rolling off the assembly line by 2018.

Faraday Future puts the size of that facility at 3 million square feet, or nearly the size of the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center close to the Las Vegas Strip. The company promises an automated ``highly connected and environmentally friendly'' plant that will emphasize energy efficiency and modern design.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA['Chewbacca Mom’ Visits Facebook Headquarters]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 18:36:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/052416-chewbacca-mom-facebook.jpg

Unless you've been living under a rock, by now you've probably seen the famous "Chewbacca mom" Facebook video that has taken the Internet by storm. From the looks of it, this may just be the beginning of the viral star's new-found fame.

It all started when Candace Payne posted a Facebook Live video last week where she was simply giddy with excitement about her new Kohl's purchase – a $17.99 Chewbacca mask that makes Wookie sounds. Her infectious laughter and sheer joy propelled the video, which she titled "It's the simple joys in life," to record-breaking heights, making it by far the most-watched Facebook Live video ever with 142 million views... and counting.

The next day, Payne posted this to Facebook: "Today has been a whirlwind. I'm grateful for every kind word and comment even if I haven't replied. Y'all. OVERWHELMED with gratitude. Let's keep belly laughing again and again. Never imagined finding my "simple joy" would land me more VIEWS on a little FB video than Mark Zuckerberg has followers. INSANE. Find your "simple joy"!"

And now she can add a visit to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park to her list. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted photos of Payne's visit Tuesday afternoon, and from the looks of it, the exuberance hasn't waned one bit.

Payne is on a media blitz. She appeared on the "Late Late Show With James Corden" earlier this week, with special surprise guest Star Wars director J. J. Abrams, in addition to stopping by "Good Morning America."

No doubt this won't be the last we see and hear of the "Chewbacca mom."

Photo Credit: Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook
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<![CDATA[New Prosthetic Arm Offers Life-Like Touch]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 16:12:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NC_prostheticarm0523_1920x1080.jpg A unique, thought-controlled prosthetic arm developed in part by the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington, uses the the body's nerve signals to control movement.]]> <![CDATA[Airbnb Slapped With Suit for Discrimination, Violation of Civil Rights]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 17:00:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AIRBNB5.jpg

Airbnb was slapped with a proposed class action in a Washington D.C. federal court Tuesday for allegedly violating the fair housing act and the civil rights of its African-American users.

The complaint alleges that 25-year-old Gregory Seldon was denied accommodation in Philadelphia in March 2015 because of his race. Seldon is filing the class action on behalf of all users who may have been discriminated on the basis of race.

Seldon claims he was looking for housing while planning a weekend getaway with friends, and decided to use Airbnb as a cost-effective housing alternative. He connected to Airbnb using his Facebook login, so it displayed his profile picture, race, education and age to the site's host agents.

He claims an Airbnb host rejected his initial application but subsequently accepted the same application when Seldon re-applied using profiles imitating white men, one under the name "Jessie" and another under the name "Todd."

This is hardly the first time Airbnb has been accused of not doing enough to combat discrimination on its platform.

The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack went viral earlier this year, with people flocking to Twitter to share stories about discrimination they felt while using the site. A Harvard study published two years ago also found that people with "distinctly African-American sounding names" were less likely to have their applications on the site accepted than their white counterparts.

Airbnb has repeatedly denied that it condones racism on its site. The company's anti-discrimination policy states that ""content that promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group, and we require all users to comply with local laws and regulations."

<![CDATA[Apple Opens New Flagship Store in San Francisco]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 15:53:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/apple-07-GettyImages-532736680_master.jpg Apple is preparing to open its newest flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square on Saturday, May 21, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Hospital Center Named After Mark Zuckerberg Opens ]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 15:42:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KPIX+SF+GENERAL+PATIENT+MOVE+PKG+-+16214021.jpg

After nearly eight years in the making and a huge donation from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, San Francisco general hospital’s new facility is fully operational.

About 160 patients were loaded on gurneys on Saturday for the 200-foot trek across a bridge connecting the old and new facilities. Building 25, the new center, is a nine-story structure with glass walls and a rooftop garden. Its addition will bring the number of emergency beds up to 58 from 27, according to a news release. 

The new hospital, located on Potrero Avenue, is named Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, or ZSFG for short. The Facebook creator and his wife, a doctor, donated about $75 million for the construction project. Both were on hand for the ribbon cutting, along with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. 

Hospital employees say the new center holds a slew of features absent from the old 1970s-era building. 

“The operating rooms, we have 13 in this building, the old building had 10,” Chief Operating Officer Iman Nazeeri-Simmons told NBC Bay Area. “There are more critical care rooms, and the technology is very patient centered. It’s just overall a hospital for the 21st century for San Francisco.”

Terri Dentoni, the hospital’s nursing chief, said the staff are “very excited” for the move.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area ]]>
<![CDATA[LinkedIn: Millions May Be Affected by New Data Leak]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 14:57:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/linkedin+logo.jpg

LinkedIn is aware of a set of over 100 million users' data that may have been released online by a hacker, the social media network said Wednesday.

The password and email data that have apparently been released came to the company's attention Tuesday, Chief Information Security Officer Cory Scott wrote in a blog post. It appears the data was taken during a known security breach in 2012, after which the company required any users they believed were affected to reset their passwords.

"We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords," Scott said Wednesday.

The stolen passwords were hashed, a form of encryption, LinkedIn says.

In the wake of its initial 2012 hack, which LinkedIn believed resulted in 6.5 million hashed passwords being leaked, it added an extra layer of protection called "salting."

Motherboard reports that the hacker, who goes by the name "Peace," listed 117 million emails and passwords on a hard-to-access web marketplace for the equivalent of about $2,200. A search engine for paid hacked data also told the news agency that it acquired the data, providing a sample of almost one million credentials and claiming to have hacked nearly all of them.

LinkedIn suggests that users enable two-step verification (which sends a text or email to a person who's logging in from an unrecognized device) and strong passwords.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Space Shuttle Tank to Go on Display]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 16:55:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/05-18-2016-shuttle-tank-et94.JPG

The lone remaining external fuel tank from NASA's space shuttle program arrived early Wednesday in Marina del Rey for the final leg of its journey to the California Science Center.

The rust-colored tank, aka ET-94, was transported on a barge during a month-long sea voyage from a NASA assembly plant in New Orleans. The 15-story, 32 1/2-ton tank was never used and will become part of the Science Center's display that features the retired Endeavour space shuttle — which made its own celebrated trip on Los Angeles' streets to Exposition Park after a spectacular Southern California flyover on the back of a jumbo jet.

ET-94 began its journey to Los Angeles on April 10 when it was pulled out of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Two days later, it was tugged into the Gulf of Mexico to begin a sea voyage that took it through the Panama Canal.

The transport crew made headlines during the trip when crew members helped rescue four people who abandoned a sinking sportfishing boat off Baja, California.

A tugboat pulled ET-94 out of San Diego waters Tuesday morning, and the barge floated out of the fog and toward the dock around 6 a.m. Wednesday in Marina Del Rey.

"I think this is awesome, couldn't wait to get down here this morning," said resident Dean Reutter.

The tank will remain at the marina until about midnight Saturday, when it is scheduled to begin a slow, 12-mile journey to the Science Center that will likely continue into Saturday night.

The caravan will travel — at about 5 mph — down Lincoln and Culver boulevards, to Westchester Parkway, then through Inglewood on Arbor Vitae Street to La Brea Avenue, past the Forum, and north on Vermont Avenue to the museum. It will be joined to Endeavour and, eventually, two booster rockets at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

"This will be the only place in the world where a whole space shuttle stack with real hardware will be available," said Science Center President Jeffrey N. Rudolph.

The shuttle stack will be available for viewing next week.

The external tanks, which provided the shuttles with the propellants needed to enter space, were designed to detach from the shuttles and disintegrate as they plummeted back to Earth. ET-94 is actually made up of three tanks: one for oxygen, another for hydrogen and a third collar-like intertank that connects the two others.

The external tank also provided structural support for the shuttles and booster rockets when they were upright on the launch pad.

The ET's skin was coated with polyisocyanurate foam, which protected the tank from heat and helped maintain the proper temperature for the propellants it contained. Its job was done about 8 1/2 minutes after launch when it was jettisoned from the shuttle.

Most of the tank disintegrated in the atmosphere; the rest splashed into the ocean.

NASA used three types of external tanks for the space shuttle program: standard weight, more advanced lightweight tanks and super lightweight tanks. ET-94 is considered a lightweight tank, commonly used throughout the 1990s.

ET-94 was delivered to NASA in January 2001 and, although it was never used in flight, investigators looking into the 2003 Columbia disaster examined the tank in search of possible problems that might have led to the re-entry break-up that killed seven crew members. The team dissected foam coating from parts of the tank, which explains why there are pieces of foam missing from ET-94.

The tank will be restored before it joins Endeavour on display.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Great America Poised to Unveil Thrilling 4D Ride 'Mass Effect' ]]> Tue, 17 May 2016 18:38:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GREAT+AMERICA+MASS+EFFECT+AWA+RAW+-+10520901.jpg

Video game sales have been slumping lately, so Electronic Arts, publisher of the big seller “Mass Effect” has an idea: Get you off the couch, and into a vibrating chair.

“Mass Effect” is now a ride at Great America. It opens Wednesday and NBC Bay Area got a preview ride.

Think of it as a video game, on steroids.

“This really, wow, all I can say is wow, really,” says one gamer (and now rider) .

It’s a cool experience that even pumps the smell of burning metal from your chair into your face when your ship crashes.

EA knows it needs to mix things up, and maybe a giant screen with 4D graphics is the way.

“This does things you can’t do in your home with an Xbox or PS-4,” says EA’s Patrick O’Brien. “Here, you have hydraulics in the seat, and a 50-foot screen.”

Everything you might need to take a summer day away from your couch, but not away from your favorite video game.

Scott tracks games on Twitter: @scottbudman.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Google Tests Free Carpooling App in Bay Area]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 22:27:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Google26.JPG

Google on Monday jumped feet first into carpooling with the launch of Waze Rider.

The free app, available to 25,000 employees at certain Bay Area companies to start, matches riders with drivers who are using nearly identical routes. Drivers are able to accept or deny the requests to carpool via the Waze app. 

Riders are only permitted to seek carpools during rush hour twice a day — once to work and the other back home, according to the Waze website

Passengers are asked to pay the Internal Revenue Service's recommended 54 cents per mile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In its test phase, Google won't retain any percentage of Waze Rider's transactions, but that could change.

The Waze website also says riders and drivers will split the cost of gas for the trip. Payments are decided in advance and the money is transferred between the two automatically.

Companies located near Google's offices, including, UCSF, Adobe and Walmart Global eCommerce, will test Waze Rider in its pilot phase. If successful, the app will be expanded to other cities, the Chronicle reported.

Google announced its plans via an animated promotional video Monday, which indicates that Waze Rider will help reduce Bay Area traffic congestion while helping riders conserve gas and money.

“This is kind of an extension of what we do at Waze, to build this trusted community,” Josh Fried, head of partner development for Waze’s carpooling efforts, told the newspaper.

An estimated 700,000 Bay Area residents currently use Waze for directions, and police and traffic alerts. So, according to the Chronicle, Waze Rider is poised to render a blow to Lyft — which charges $1.16 per mile in San Francisco as well as other fees — and Uber — which charges $1.15 per mile and additional fees.

“Critical mass is a big reason carpooling hasn’t been able to be as successful as it could be,” Susan Shaheen, co-director of the UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center, told the Chronicle. “It’s exciting to see how we can use technology in a socially and environmentally beneficial way.”

Photo Credit: Google/Waze
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<![CDATA[Zuckerberg to Meet With Conservative Leaders ]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 05:26:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-464961022.jpg

Following complaints from Republicans that Facebook suppresses conservative stories on the site, Mark Zuckerberg will hold a meeting Wednesday with some notable right-wing politicians to discuss the issue.

At the center of the debacle is the “trending topics” feature. Anonymous reports circulated last week that Facebook staffers purposefully excluded conservative stories from appearing on the trending topics sidebar.

Among attendees at the meeting at Facebook headquarters will be political commentator Glenn Beck, as well as a few other Republican party media experts.

Last week, South Dakota Sen. John Thune wrote a letter to Facebook requesting information on how the trending topics were sorted on the site.

"If Facebook presents its Trending Topics section as a result of a neutral, objective algorithm, but it is in fact subjective and filtered to support or suppress particular political viewpoints, Facebook's assertion that it maintains 'a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum' misleads the public," wrote Thune, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Facebook’s Vice President of Search, Tom Stocky, said the company found no evidence to support claims of political bias influencing trending topics, but did say stories are weeded out based on reliability.

After political focus was placed on Facebook’s trending topics, Democrats hit back at Republicans and implied that their attention was misplaced. 

"The Republican Senate refuses to hold hearings on (Supreme Court nominee) Judge (Merrick) Garland, refuses to fund the president's request for Zika aid and takes the most days off of any Senate since 1956, but thinks Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest," Jentleson said. "The taxpayers who pay Republican senators' salaries probably want their money back."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sandberg Speaks Publicly About Husband's Death at Cal]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 11:45:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CAL+GRADUATION+-+14400209.jpg

Commencement speeches usually strike a celebratory tone, but Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg went against the grain Saturday while addressing UC Berkeley grads and spoke publicly for the first time about the tragic death of her husband.

"His death was sudden and unexpected," Sandberg said. "For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief — what I think of as the void — an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, and constricts your ability to think or even to breathe."

Sandberg’s husband, Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg, died of a cardiac arrhythmia while the couple was vacationing in Mexico in May of 2015.

During the speech, the “Lean In” author told students about how the sudden loss affected her, and how she came out of that grief with a stronger sense of self.

"I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss," she said. "But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again."

She said she hopes students will take her words to heart and acknowledged that they too will face immense challenges.

"When the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it."

She continued: "It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are," she said. "You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[WordPress to Offer .Blog Domain Extensions ]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 13:29:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/LaptopTyping-GettyImages-500231363.jpg

Website hosting service WordPress.com will offer .blog domain extensions for Internet users later this year, NBC News reports.

The domains will be up for grabs this year. Anyone interested can sign up to get notified when they’re available to the public. 

"With a top-level domain like .blog, you can get a name that truly matches your identity," WordPress.com said in its statement. 

Registration prices for the .blog domains haven’t been finalized yet, but they will be in “standard range for new top-level domains with some premium pricing for higher-value names,” the company said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images – File]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: Billionaire on Musk, Google, Etc.]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 10:52:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/richardbranson.JPG

"You know, the last band I signed was the Rolling Stones..."

Not a bad way to start a conversation, but really, just a regular story told from billionaire business mogul Sir Richard Branson. Yes, he's a "Sir," and yes, he was into music way before your iPod was invented.

He's also trying to take us into space, with his Virgin Galactic competing with, among others, Elon Musk. "We're great friends, actually," Branson says when asked about the SpaceX Founder. "But obviously there's a little bit of rivalry there."

Branson was visiting Silicon Valley to speak at the Coupa Conference, and to meet with some of the hundreds of Virgin employees who work here. He says he's a bit disappointed that VirginAmerica was bought by Alaska Air ("had to give so many shares to Americans..."), and that he hopes the brand - and employees - stay.

As for space travel? Be patient. He says they're "testing and testing" the next generation spaceship, "and when the test pilots say we're ready, we'll be up and away."

So strap yourselves in.

Scott hangs with billionaires on Twitter: @scottbudman

<![CDATA[Yahoo Working With Congress After Ransomware Attacks Reported on House]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 04:10:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/YAHOO_AP_1603102305581417.jpg

A recent attack from "ransomware" to the House of Representatives prompted Congress to work with Yahoo on security issues, NBC News reported.

The House Information Security Office advised representatives late last month that it had blocked access to its networks from Yahoo Mail accounts because of the attacks, the business and tech site Fast Company first reported last week.

The attacks used web-based services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail, the IT office said in a memo to members, but "the primary focus appears to be through Yahoo Mail at this time." There was no immediate indication that the attacks extended to the Senate.

According to the memo, the attack uses a social engineering and phishing strategy by generating an email that appears to be from a trusted source. The email includes an attached .ZIP file that, when clicked, injects code that encrypts all files on the recipient's computer — including files shared with other users.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Nextdoor Addresses Racial Profiling Concerns]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 23:31:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0510-2016-Nextdoor.jpg

A social networking site is tackling the issue of racial profiling.

The website Nextdoor is accused of providing a platform for people to spread their racial bias. The tech company's CEO in response is speaking out and sharing what he and others are doing to try and stop the problem.

"Our mission is to use technology to create stronger and safer neighborhoods," Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia said.

Some believe that mission got lost when they felt racial profiling became an issue on the Nextdoor website in Oakland's Dimond District.

"We'd see posts that say 'black man walking by too slowly.' There was a number of us that would challenge these posts. We'd say 'this is unacceptable. This is really dangerous.' Folks would write us back and say 'you're the race police.'" said Shikira Porter with Neighbors for Racial Justice.

After two years of arguing with people online, Neighbors for Racial Justice contacted Nextdoor and Oakland city council members demanding that something be done about it.

"What we've done is actually educate neighbors about what racial profiling is, which is when you are identifying someone just by their race," council member Annie Campbell Washington said.

The social networking site is making changes on how to report suspicious activity without focusing on race.

"There will be a mandatory set of forms to make sure what you are posting is accurate, is helpful and not include discriminatory language that would include racial profiling," Tolia said.

Tolia also said the change is only a first step, but believes it is a step in the right direction.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Accused of Suppressing Conservative News Stories]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 18:50:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6P+FACEBOOK+TRENDING+PKG+-+00012422.jpg Republican conservatives say Facebook is favoring politically liberal news and suppressing conservative stories on its site.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Uber and Lyft Leave Austin: High Stakes Bluff or Shutting Down for Good?]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 19:25:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-508246192.jpg

Less than two days after people had their say at the polls, the lights at the Lyft’s Austin offices are off.

“I saw them taking literally everything out of the office. They switched the sign to ‘closed’ and that’s all I’ve seen,” Austin’s Cody Herring told our NBC affiliate KXAN.

On Saturday, Austin residents voted to require ride-hailing companies to fingerprint their drivers. Starting Monday, Uber and Lyft decided to leave Austin instead of going along with it.

Chris Nakutis, General Manager of Uber Austin, issued a statement: “Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down. For the past two years, drivers and riders made ridesharing work in this great city. We’re incredibly grateful. From rallies to phone banking to knocking on doors, they spread the word and their support was humbling and inspiring.”

Uber leaders say the ballot language was confusing for voters, some of whom are now challenging it in court.

Though Lyft says it was a difficult decision to halt operations, the San Francisco-based company is playing it a little differently: “We are going to continue to fight for ridesharing in Austin. We remain hopeful that we will we will find a way forward that brings Lyft back to the city as we did in San Antonio. However, we will not operate in Austin as long as mandatory fingerprinting is in place.”

Last year, Lyft and Uber also left San Antonio, but then returned months later after the city made fingerprinting voluntary.

In the Bay Area, taxis and ride-hailing companies have been at odds for years.

“We still do fingerprints. We still do drug and alcohol tests,” Shakur Buni, president of the San Jose Airport Taxi Driver Association, said, explaining it’s a matter of fairness.

Buni thinks Bay Area voters should get to decide too.

“Instead of getting pressure from the big corporations, [the City Council] should put the whole issue before the public and let the public speak on the issue,” Buni said.

San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra says putting the issue on the ballot would be a last resort.

“I hope not. When it comes to governance, you usually try to avoid going to the ballot,” Kalra said. “We’re working very hard to try to find a way for our taxi cab industry and our ride share industry to coexist.”

Councilmember Kalra says a pilot program doing monthly checks on ride-hailing driers is still in early stages.

“Right now, from what our staff is telling us, the spot checks and background checks are working, but when it comes to safety we don’t want to just rely on the first couple of months,” Kalra said.

He says San Jose’s background check program will have a mid-year review in August. That’s the same time the taxi drivers plan to ask the City Council to put an initiative on the November ballot.

Meantime, Austin leaders say they are expediting fingerprint background check process and helping drivers who lost their jobs sign up for other ride-hailing companies.

<![CDATA[Facebook Prevents 'Face Book' Food]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 23:48:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/187265573-facebook-generic.jpg

A Chinese company has been denied the chance to release food and drink products under the "face book" brand name.

According to CNET, Menlo Park-based Facebook has emerged victorious after a Beijing court threw out a Chinese company's case to register "face book" as a trademark, and use it to brand items such as canned vegetables, potato chips, candy and coffee.

While the ruling will certainly put a damper on international attempts to profit off of the Facebook name, it might not abate the proliferation of cakes that look like Facebook popping up on the social media site and Instagram.

Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Elon Musk Sleeps at Tesla Factory 'Quite Frequently' ]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 02:09:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_540376079789.jpg

If you’re ever wondering where the CEO of Tesla is in the middle of the night, he’s most likely sleeping — inside the Tesla factory.

To ensure that all production targets are being met — Tesla hopes to produce 500,000 cars a year by 2018 — Musk has a sleeping bag in a conference room right next to where the cars are being manufactured.

"I'm personally spending an enormous amount of time on the production line," the billionaire tech icon said to analysts over a conference call after Tesla released its first quarter earnings results last week, Mashable reported.

Old habits die hard, because this isn’t the first time the ambitious exec calls his workplace a second home.

"Almost every day, I'd come in at seven thirty or eight a.m., and he'd be asleep right there on that bag," one former colleague recalled. "Maybe he showered on the weekends, I don't know."

Tesla held a job fair over the weekend to fill hundreds of positions at its Fremont factory following skyrocketing demand for its high-priced, eco-friendly cars.

But skeptics question whether Tesla can meet customer demand. So far, sales for its Model S has been strong, the Model X is still something of a question mark, and orders for the Model 3 were through the roof .

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Zipline Drones Partner With UPS to Deliver Medical Supplies]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 19:13:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/206*120/zipline1.jpg

A Silicon Valley startup is bringing us a lot closer to a future of drone delivery. And it’s starting, with humanitarian aid.

Our camera was among the first to see the Zipline drone in action - a drone, resembling a small plane, that can fly up to 40 miles at a time, with the ability to drop off packages on the fly.

Zipline just announced a partnership with UPS to deliver blood and medical supplies to clinics in Rwanda. It’s an early test of the promise of drone delivery, the kind we hear about from much larger companies like Amazon. Zipline says this design makes for frequent and flexible flying.

“With a drone that looks like a plane, compared to a quadcopter you’re used to seeing, we can fly further, faster, and we can fly more reliably,” Keenan Wyrobek, Zipline co-founder, said.

Monday at 6 p.m., business and tech reporter Scott Budman will take a first-look tour inside Zipline’s headquarters, with more details about the new deal to test the delivery drones.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Holds Job Fair Saturday to Hire Hundreds of Workers]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 02:12:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/TLMD-TESLA-MODEL-3-VENTAS.jpg

Tesla Motor's Fremont factory will be opening up hundreds of new jobs at its Fremont office following skyrocketing demand for its high-priced, eco-friendly cars. 

The company plans to hold a job fair Saturday in order to fill the slew of open positions, many of which are already listed on its website. Hosting the job fair is West Valley Staffing Group.

The company's vacancies aren't relegated to the tech sector, either: positions in human resources, marketing, sales and design are also up for grabs. 

Gigs in production assembly reportedly to pay $17 per hour. 

Scoot on over to to the careers section of Tesla's website to find out more. 

Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 Rocket at Sea]]> Fri, 06 May 2016 05:22:23 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_40364550147.jpg

SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform early Friday, following the launch of a Japanese communications satellite, NBC News reported.

Company representatives weren't optimistic of a successful touchdown before liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, because of the high altitude needed to send SKY Perfect JSAT Corp.'s JCSAT-14 satellite into orbit.

"Given this mission's GTO destination, the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely," SpaceX wrote in a mission description.

This is the first successful landing at sea for SpaceX, which hopes to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets that the company's billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, contends would cut spaceflight cost by a factor of 100.

"Woohoo!!" Musk exclaimed in a tweet after Falcon 9 touched down vertically atop a barge in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP
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<![CDATA[Cupertino Mayor Discusses Controversial Apple Comments]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 19:12:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0505-2016-BarryChang.jpg

The mayor of Cupertino is raising some eyebrows after he was quoted as saying Apple "abuses us" and was forcibly escorted off the tech giant’s campus.

"There’s some misquotes. I did not say Apple abuses us," Mayor Barry Chang said, though admitting his relationship with Apple has never been sweet. "It’s not abuse, but it’s interesting. We need each other. I need them. They need us too. But what I am asking for, they are not willing to give."

The Guardian published a story Thursday morning, but Chang says the "abuse" he was referring to was about a resident’s behavior at a City Council meeting, not Apple.

The story also said the last time Chang walked into Apple three years ago, he "barely made it into the lobby when Apple’s security team surrounded and escorted him off the property."

The Guardian story has been revised since Thursday morning, and now leaves out mentions of "abuse" by Apple and reads, "Apple’s security team asking him to leave."

"But their reception was so cold. She said, 'You have appointment?' I said, 'No.' She say, 'Well, you have no appointment. No one will see you. You have to leave,'" Chang recounted, explaining he felt "a little disrespected" but not abused.

However, there are parts of the story where there is no confusion. The mayor is asking Apple to pay $1,000 per employee to help fund the city’s aging infrastructure and traffic issues.

"I’m calling all the big companies in town — not just Apple but the Googles," Chang said. "Please do your share."

Apple declined to respond to Thursday’s events, but says it is Cupertino’s biggest tax payer. The company adds it has paid more than $70 million to improve Cupertino and is creating programs to get a third of its employees to use alternative transportation.

"When I was negotiating with them, they said, 'Oh, oh, we’re OK as long as our employees are on the bus. They have their Wi-Fi; they can work.' But that’s too selfish," Chang said.

Community groups working to recall Chang also talked to NBC Bay Area outside City Hall Thursday.

"I don’t blame Apple specifically [for steadily increasing traffic]. I blame poor planning. We needed a transit solution 20 years ago," Liana Crabtree, with community group Better Cupertino. "The mayor and some portion of the City Council seem to be representing the developer interests over the interests of the electorate."

Chang has his sights on a bigger office — he’s running for State Assembly. For now, however, he’s standing firm in Cupertino and is not afraid of the most valuable company in the world taking its business elsewhere.

"Well, then can, but I’m not afraid of it. If they move, I know there are other companies that want to come in," Chang said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Urge Password Changes After Massive Cyber Attack]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 16:36:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/computer+generic2.JPG

Cybersecurity professionals are warning anyone with a personal email account to change their passwords after stolen user names and passwords were being offered up for sale on the Internet, NBC News reported. 

Some 272.3 million accounts were stolen - and involve some of the biggest email providers, including Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and Microsoft, according to Alex Holden of Hold Security. 

"We know he's a young man in central Russia who collected this information from multiple sources," Holden told NBC News. "We don't know the way he did it or the reason why he did it."

The user names and passwords were all being sold on the so-called “dark web,” where hackers hock their goods. Hackers use the stolen information to lure users into giving away more information, including credit card numbers and bank account access.

Experts say people should change their passwords regularly. Use abstract combinations of letters, numbers and characters that a criminal's computer program couldn't easily guess.

Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reddit to Move Into SF's Tenderloin District]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 11:38:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/reddit3.JPG

Tech company Reddit is moving to the more affordable Tenderloin district of San Francisco, near Union Square and down the road from Twitter and Uber, according to a report from the San Francisco Business Times.

The social news website is leasing the entire building at 420 Taylor St., about 50,000 square feet. The company will pay $64 per square foot in the less expensive Tenderloin, the report said. Reddit’s current headquarters are at 520 Third St. in the South of Market district of San Francisco.

The space is appealing to Reddit because as a single-tenant occupier, the company will have its name on the building, access to a roof deck and nearby public transit stations, the report said.

Photo Credit: Google Earth]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Says Service Back After App Store Problem]]> Thu, 05 May 2016 12:46:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/183*120/GettyImages-128349521.jpg

Apple said Thursday morning that "all users" were affected by a problem on its App Store that lasted from about 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., CNBC reported.

The service had not been "working as expected," Apple had said on its system status page. It appeared the store's search function was not working as it should.

For example, the first seven results of a search for "Google" did not show apps from the tech giant, CNBC reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cyber Security: Stanford Students Work on 'Hacking for Defense']]> Wed, 04 May 2016 22:42:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0504-2016-HACKERS.jpg Cyber security and the military is a serious problem, and some of the brightest Bay Area minds are trying to solve it. Scott Budman reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Pays $10K Reward to Boy for Reporting Glitch]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 13:22:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_351548094733.jpg

Facebook has given a $10,000 reward to a 10-year-old Finnish boy for finding a glitch in its photo-sharing app, Instagram, according to Reuters. 

"I wanted to see if Instagram's comment field could stand malicious code. Turns out it couldn't," Jani, whose last name was not released for privacy reasons, told Finland's Iltalehti newspaper. 

The boy is the youngest ever recipient of Facebook’s “bug bounty,” which is paid to users who find bugs or weaknesses in its platforms. 

"I could have deleted anyone's comments from there. Even Justin Bieber's," he told Iltalehti. 

Facebook said the glitch was fixed in February and the reward paid in March.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Pays 10-Year-Old $10K for Finding Instagram Glitch]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 15:13:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-142610768.jpg

Facebook rewarded a 10-year-old with $10,000 for finding a glitch on its photo-sharing app Instagram.

Jani, from Finland, is the youngest hacker in history for Facebook’s “bug bounty,” a term used to describe users who find glitches or weaknesses in its platforms.

Instagram, created by Stanford graduates Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, was bought by Facebook in 2012 – after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg offered the pair a billion dollars for it.

Hoping that Instagram could stand malicious code, Jani tried out what he learned from YouTube videos on coding. He figured out a way to delete user comments on Instagram.

"I wanted to see if Instagram's comment field could stand malicious code. Turns out it couldn't," Jani told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. "I could have deleted anyone's comments from there. Even Justin Bieber's."

Facebook gave the reward to Jani in March, after they fixed the glitch in February.

Jani wants to explore a career in data security in the future, but his immediate plan is to buy a bike and a football with his reward money.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gangs Using Tech Present New Challenges for Police]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 04:45:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0502-2016-Smartphone.jpg

The FBI, in its latest national gang report, says the use of technology among gang members is creating "unique challenges for law enforcement."

Tech-savvy gang members staying a step ahead of police is also a concern for law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area. Members of San Jose Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force are not surprised gangs are increasingly using technology and war-time tactics to carry out their crimes.

A former gang member in San Jose also says he is not surprised gang members are using social media platforms and leaning on the "end-to-end" encryption technology to communicate with one another.

"They think ahead. They're innovators. They are inventors," said Pastor Sonny Lara, who runs the Firehouse Community Development Center in San Jose.

Lara, a former gang member, works to get kids off the streets and provides programs to get them back in school.

Gang members are also using old-school, Trojan horse-like methods to attack their enemies, including dressing like them.

"This new trend of wearing the opposing colors and getting closer to the enemy, being able to get to another area, another turf, another barrio without being seen as a red going into a blue territory, or a blue going into red," said Mario Maciel, who directs the San Jose Mayor's Gang Task Force.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Can Tesla Meet Demand?]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 11:37:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Large-car-winner-over-50k-Tesla-Model-S-70D.jpg

The timing could not be worse. 

Tesla Motors, facing a crucial earnings test after the bell Wednesday, announced that two of its executives left the company earlier in the day.

Greg Reichow, VP of Production, and John Ensign, VP of manufacturing, both resigned from the company. Tesla's CEO praised the two, while vowing to keep the company on track.

Meanwhile, Tesla investors, who have been an extremely optimistic lot, are watching the company closely for the earning numbers; not so much for profit/loss (expect a pretty sizeable loss), but for current and future car sales. The Model S has been strong, the Model X is still something of a question mark, and orders for the Model 3 were through the roof - investors will be looking for clues as to whether or not the company can deliver on that optimism.

As I write, shares of Tesla stock (TSLA) are down about 4 1/2 percent, dipping after the departure news got out.

Scott tracks Tesla on Twitter: @scottbudman

<![CDATA[Snapchat Could Be Looking for SF Office: Report]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 18:34:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-4567366021.jpg

A report suggests Snapchat, based in Southern California, might be on the hunt for office space in San Francisco.

The company would not confirm as much to Re/code, but multiple sources who were not named said that reps are looking at properties.

It was revealed on Sunday that Snapchat has entered into an agreement with NBC to show highlights from the Olympics this summer. According to Bloomberg, there will be a dedicated Snapchat channel airing behind the scenes clips and other content curated by BuzzFeed, a move to draw in audiences who aren't sitting in front of the television.

“[Young people] are not necessarily glued to their televisions anymore, and Snapchat is something they check in with multiple times a day,” Matthew Henick, head of development for BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, told the publication.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Project Include' Launches to Increase Diversity]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 19:07:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/twitterGettyImages-494325030.jpg

The stats don't lie: Nearly 70 percent of tech workers are still male, the majority still white.

When it comes to Venture funding? Just 11 percent of VCs, according to a recent study, are women.

Project Include wants to change that. Boasting a lineup of female tech executives from Pinterest, Slack, Kapor Capital and including Ellen Pao, it's a project to encourage tech executives to bring more women and minorities into the mix.

It's a welcome push, according to Chenxi Wang. Wang is a tech executive who also launched "Equal Respect," aiming to bring more diversity to tech, with a focus on shows and conventions. "I think we all want the same things," she says. "More women, more diversity, and more people from different walks of life in the tech industry."

Will it work? We'll see. Even Sheryl Sandberg, who successfully launched the "Lean In" movement, told us in a recent interview that "we're still really far from equality."

Scott covers tech on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>