<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Sat, 30 May 2015 02:15:23 -0500 Sat, 30 May 2015 02:15:23 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Charging Cellphone Sets Bed on Fire]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 13:53:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hamden+cellphone+fire.jpg

Fire officials are warning residents to be careful charging their devices after a cellphone ignited a bed and pillow in Hamden, Connecticut, overnight Friday, according to the fire department.

"I saw the flames," said Hamden resident Kimberly Johnson, who said the fire broke out in her 15-year-old son's bedroom. "When I ran upstairs, his entire left side of the bed was on fire."

Residents at 204 Franklin Road in Hamden ventilated the home and the fire was extinguished before emergency crews arrived around 4 a.m., but fire officials say it's a warning to residents about the dangers of charging electronics.

"I was just scared because all I saw was the flames and my son was laying there," Johnson said.

Chargers "need space to breathe" because they generate heat while in use, according to the Hamden Fire Department.

"The cell phone was left on the bed. These devices need areas to be ventilated," said Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca. "It is recommended that you leave these type of devices on a hard surface so the heat can dissipate. The batteries heat up, they could melt – in some cases, explode – and cause a fire."

Never block the air vents on the back and sides of a laptop or leave charging devices on a bed while sleeping. Bedding and pillows can block airflow, fire officials said.

Check power cords and chargeres regularly for damage, and throw them out if they're frayed. Damaged cords can emit electrical sparks and ignite a fire.

Always unplug chargers that are not in use. They consume electricity even when the device is not charging.

More information is available through the Hamden Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-407-3182.



Photo Credit: Hamden Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[$169 PC For Endless Global Impact]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 18:40:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/endlesscomputer.jpg

For many, access to computers and high-speed internet connections has never been more crucial.

We rely on them to complete schoolwork, search for jobs, watch movies, access healthcare information, and find relationships, to name but a few.

While a computer and internet access is nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. — 83.8 percent of U.S. households reported computer ownership in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — nearly five billion people have no computers globally, and sixty percent of the world sits outside the internet's reach.

Endless, a San Fransisco-based start-up, is hoping to close the divide with a user friendly and affordable desktop aimed at emerging markets.

The computer, powered by a smartphone processor, was tailor-made for people in developing markets. Keeping in mind that people in third world countries have limited access to the internet, much like early PCs, Endless is pre-installed with over 100 apps that are accessible offline, ranging from farming to health. It also comes with Wikipedia, Khan Academy, curricula, and educational games.

Starting at $169 for a 32GB computer, the egg-shaped operating system doesn't include a monitor or keyboard. As a way to reduce cost, Endless was designed to be connected to a television set.

"A keyboard isn't expensive and the monitor, well the one thing I did see in travels around India, Brazil, Thailand other places was, without fail, HD-quality televisions in most homes," CEO Matt Dalio told USA Today. "I thought the TV could be used as a monitor and we could rework the smartphone technology to make the computers affordable.”

In April, Endless launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for their international outreach marketing campaign, #EndlessAdventuras. The company amassed $176,538 to help bring awareness of the product to its first markets, Mexico and Guatemala.

Operation #EndlessAdventuras is currently underway in Mexico. Members of the Endless team are traveling through the Latin American country aboard a retrofitted schoolbus that is functioning as an offline cybercafe, stopping in rural communities, and introducing Endless to prospective users for the first time.

 



Photo Credit: Endless
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<![CDATA[Can You See Me Now?]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 17:15:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr-reflective-clothes.jpg

Cars kill more than 5,000 pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers each year. A vast majority of those accidents happen after the sun sets.

Special reflective clothing is supposed to make you easy to spot.

Consumer Reports tested several options: jackets, bike shirts, and an inexpensive safety vest. There was even a button-down shirt made with reflective thread. Some of the clothing stood out from the rest and was easy to see, but some just blended into the night.

Take the Betabrand shirt with reflective thread. On the company’s website, it looks easy to spot. But Consumer Reports found that it’s not visible from 300 feet, the distance it takes for a car to stop if it’s going 60 miles per hour.

It’s really important that the garment you wear can be seen from the front and the back. And the more reflective the pieces, the better.

The $180 Gore Phantom Windstopper soft-shell jacket is easy to see coming and going, but it didn’t outshine the Uline safety vest, with its big, bright strips. And it’s inexpensive, about $15 at uline.com.

You can up your safety game with the addition of accessories like a battery-operated wristband or a reflective ankle band. Consumer Reports found that they are all highly visible from 300 feet. And when they move up and down as you’re biking or running, they really stand out.

Consumer Reports also checked out iron-on reflective tape. It costs only about $4, and you can put it on a jacket, a backpack, or anything you or your kids might wear at night.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Confusing Car Designs]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 17:11:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+cars.jpg

For decades, traditional automatic shift levers had park at the top, down to reverse and drive at the bottom.

You could see and feel the shifter go into position.

Now, newer designs give you electronic levers, push buttons, and even dials to get into gear.

In some BMWs, you push the electronic lever forward to go into reverse. It stays in gear, but the shifter pops back to center. And in some Mercedes-Benz, the shifter is where the windshield wiper lever is in other cars.

Consumer Reports says that confusing controls can be dangerous.

For people with years of driving experience, those shifters aren’t intuitive.

They force you to unlearn years of muscle memory. In an emergency, you can revert back to old habits and pick the wrong gear.

Even turning the car on and off has become complicated.

In the 2015 Lincoln MKC, the ignition button is on the dashboard, where you can hit it by mistake. That happened to several drivers, so Lincoln recalled the MKC earlier this year and is relocating the switch.

Not all modern cars are overly complicated. Consumer Reports has found that many models from Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Kia have simple, straightforward controls, even though they still have lots of high-tech features.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[3D Printers Create Prosthetic Legs]]> Thu, 14 May 2015 14:44:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/179*120/LEG2.JPG

Is it the next Industrial Revolution? 3D printing may one day revolutionize businesses, but it’s already having another effect: changing countless lives.

For some, that means being able to stand on their own two feet. Literally.

Veronica Perez was 16 when she suffered an injury that left her with chronic bone infections in her feet. Tired of the pain, she asked doctors to amputate her left leg.

“There’s a lot of limitations that come with being an amputee,” said Perez. “There’s a lot of things we can’t do.”

Insurance covered the bulk of her primary prosthetic leg, which ranges in cost from $20,000 up to $100,000. Perez said unfortunately, it’s not made for water. This meant countless times of depending on strangers to help her get into the pool, for instance. Something as simple as getting in and out of the shower, without her prosthetic leg, became potentially dangerous.

“I’ve had a few times where I’ve fallen and I’ve slipped getting in and out of the shower,” described Perez. “I’ve hurt myself, it’s scary and I’m worried I may hurt myself more.”

That’s why Jeff Huber, an entrepreneur, decided to start Standard Cyborg. The San Francisco-based start-up creates prosthetic legs that are both water- and wallet-friendly as secondary legs. Think of the legs as different kinds of shoes, made for a wide range of purposes: walking, running, swimming, and going out.

“Your primary leg will cost $20,000 $100,000, if you’re an above the knee amputee,” Huber explained.

While insurance can cover the bulk of the cost, Huber said that doesn’t necessarily apply to any other legs an amputee may want or need. His product is also a fraction of the cost: under $800.

“Nobody else in the world, as far as I know, had created functional 3D printed legs, and definitely no one had ever sold one before,” said Huber.

In six short months from summer of 2014, it grew from pet project to real product, one made by what Huber’s dubbed his “glorified glue gun.”

The leg shape is scanned, the images are finalized on his computer, and those data files are then sent to the three 3D printers sitting in his South of Market shop. The melted plastic is melded into just about anything.

“You can print an object of infinite complexity that many times traditional manufacturing couldn’t even make, and you can do so at a very cheap price because it doesn’t cost a lot,” said Huber.

It’s part of the so-called “Maker Movement” that involves a wave of hands-on inventors and innovators, hackers and do-it-yourself devotees who harness the power of production for people who might otherwise be ignored by mass manufacturers motivated mostly by money.

“I think that that the fact he can use things like 3D printing is really great because we’re such a small group of people who need this,” said Perez. “It’s really great that technology is so accessible like that.”

The field of “personal manufacturing” is still in its nascent stages. Most products have been toys and gadgets, in part because the plastics available for the printing haven’t been strong enough to produce more substantial products. Huber believes that’s quickly changing.

“Even in the next one to two years, you’re going to see some pretty cool things happen I think.”

The industry is exploding. According to San Jose-based leading touch technology and microcontrollers manufacturer, Atmel, there are roughly 125-million adult “makers” in the United States alone, injecting about $29 billion into the economy annually.

Atmel also says the market for 3D printing products and services hit $2.2 billion in 2012, a figure expected to jump to $6 billion within two years and $8.4 billion by 2020 – mostly coming from the aerospace and healthcare fields.

“We’re at the very early stages of this and it will be fascinating to see where it plays out over the next 20 years,” said Huber.

It’s innovation inspired by his very own life. Huber has been an amputee his entire life.

“As an amputee, you’re always worried about using your prosthetics. Say you take it to the beach, you’re worried about losing it, breaking it. This thing costs $20,000 so if you lose or break it, it’s a really big deal.”

After about 10 hours of 3D printing and several days of waiting before they could meet, Perez arrived at Huber’s San Francisco shop to try on her new leg.

It fit. While it’s still a work in progress, Perez said she is both giddy and grateful to have this secondary leg.

“I would never think of something like that and then be able to produce it, and you actually did it,” she said to Huber. “I think it’s so awesome.”

It’s also reassuring. Perez admits having to rely on strangers for help as an amputee has been a struggle.

“I worry about having to depend on others for day-to-day things, and it scares me,” she said. “Honestly, I worry a lot about that and I hope by the time I’m a senior, that there are things out there that are going to help me be more independent.”

For Huber, the ability to give someone that bit of freedom is invaluable.

“It certainly helps when you want to pull your hair out to say, ‘Okay, this is actually going to change somebody’s life, so I should probably go figure it out.’”

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<![CDATA[Samsung Galaxy S5 Beats S6]]> Tue, 12 May 2015 17:27:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/samsung12.jpg

Consumer Reports has put Samsung’s new flagship smartphone through extensive testing.

The test results are in and the Galaxy S6 landed below Samsung’s older S5 in Consumer Reports ratings.

Samsung gave the S6 an all-new design of metal and glass instead of plastic. They also got rid of the removable battery and the card slot for extra storage.

The loss of those features and a shorter battery life are some of the reasons the S6 fell behind its predecessor in the ratings.

The new design also isn’t water-resistant like the S5, although it does offer wireless charging that works with both major standards, Qi and Powermat.

Samsung’s Galaxy phones have typically beaten iPhones in Consumer Reports’ Ratings, but not this time.

The S6 and iPhone 6 are essentially tied when it comes to ease of use, messaging, and Web browsing.

The S5 remains Consumer Reports top-rated phone. And its base price is less — $500 without a contract (16GB), compared with $600 for the S6 (32 GB) and $650 for the iPhone 6 (16GB).

Consumer Reports has rated one other phone ahead of the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6—LG’s G3 (32GB), which costs $450. Consumer Reports will be testing LG’s new G4 as soon as it’s on the market.

NBC 5 reached out to Samsung Mobile for a response to Consumer Reports' findings.

Below is their official response: 

“The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge have earned numerous accolades and received rave reviews from top media outlets. Our reimagined designs, high-quality camera and meaningful innovations have inspired praise from our customers who look to Samsung for the newest, forward-thinking ideas and devices. Specifically, the Galaxy S6 represents the future of power management, giving people the option to top off their device throughout the day on wireless charging pads, plug in a few minutes for a long-lasting quick charge, or use ultra power saving mode to extend the charge when every minute counts. With so many fantastic features packed into a sleek, slim design, the Galaxy S6 delivers incredible performance allowing users to do what they want, and accomplish what they need.” 

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Girl: My iPhone Caught Fire]]> Sat, 09 May 2015 01:34:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/iPhone+Catch+Fire+Girl+Pocket.PNG

Roselly Rolon got her daughter, Alexis, an Apple iPhone 5C for peace of mind in case of an emergency. But the Northeast Philadelphia mother never expected the smartphone to be the source of trouble.

On Friday morning, however, the family claims just that happened. As the 12-year-old walked to school, she said the popular smartphone caught fire in the pocket of her pants.

"All I saw was smoke coming out and then it was my phone. So I threw it on the ground — my butt was, like, burning," the girl recalled.

Alexis heard a cracking sound coming from the phone before it caught fire, but she didn't realize anything was wrong until the smoke began to rise, she said.

"I took it out ... and I threw it on the ground and started stomping out the fire," she said.

The white phone's case was left disfigured, the metal charred and rippled. The device burned through the back pocket of Alexis' jeans and left the girl with second-degree burns, doctors at Nazareth Hospital determined.

"We depend on these phones. And the same phone that I'm depending on is gonna burn my daughter," Roselly Rolon, the girl's mother, said angrily. "Thank God it wasn't her face."

The girl said the phone had been problem-free before Friday's fire and that she charged it normally Thursday night.

Apple told NBC10 they can't comment because the Rolons haven't contacted them directly about the incident. The family says their attorney is reaching out to the tech giant.

This isn't the first time an iPhone owner claimed their phone combusted. A middle schooler in Maine suffered 2nd degree burns in January 2014 after she said her iPhone 5C caught fire in her pocket. An Arizona man also suffered similar burns after he said an iPhone 6 went up in flames in his pocket last October.

Despite the pain inflicted by the device, Alexis isn't shying away from the smartphone. "I like the iPhone, but I don't want that one anymore. I want a different one," she said.



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Can Your Car Get Hacked?]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 17:21:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+car+hacked.jpg

Most of the systems in your car are actually controlled by a computer, the engine, the suspension, the seats, the mirrors even the air-conditioning.

Some alarming news stories recently have asked “Can the computers running your car be hacked just like your laptop or smartphone?”

Consumer Reports got to experience a controlled hack by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as it researches car security.

The demonstration showed how Consumer Reports Auto Editor, Mark Rechtin, was left helpless at the wheel. With a laptop hardwired to the car, a NHTSA engineer took control of the horn, seatbelts and even the car’s brakes and steering.

Rechtin’s reaction: “My hands aren’t leaving the wheel. Wow. The seatbelt pre-tensioner is going. The fan is going full blast. The horn’s going. The windows are going up and down all at once. It’s quite the haunted car.”

While this may sound unsettling, Consumer Reports says this isn’t a reason to panic.

Director of Consumer Reports Auto Testing, Jake Fisher, says, “The benefits of auto computers, far outweigh the risks. This is not a reason to run out and buy a computer-less, twenty year old car.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Periscope Eyed Over Pacquiao Fight]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 09:24:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Pacquiao-Mayweather-3.jpg

This weekend’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was hyped as the fight of the century. Now, a new fight begins.

It cost viewers at home about $100 to order the pay per view event, but several hundred people used live streaming video apps like Meerkat and Periscope to broadcast it for free. They simply held the phone up to the TV. Now, those people could face legal action.

“The technology as a whole, I think, is going to be beneficial to consumers and broadcasters,” said attorney Mitch Stoltz.

Stoltz is an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for consumer digital rights.
He believes live streaming companies shouldn't suffer when users rebroadcast licensed material.

“The makers of the technology, whether it's Sony in the case of the VCR, or Periscope with this new technology, isn't going to be responsible unless they were encouraging people to use it in illegal ways,” he said.

Saturday night after the boxing match, the Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted:

“And the winner is…@periscopeco.”

Twitter recently acquired the live-streaming company.

Monday, Periscope issued a statement:

"Periscope operates in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we respect intellectual property rights and are working to ensure there are robust tools in place to respond expeditiously. Unauthorized broadcasts of content that is protected by copyright is a clear violation of our content policy. It’s not the kind of content we want to see in Periscope."

A company spokesperson said of the 66 live streams red flagged by those who own the rights to the fight, Periscope shut down 30 of them within minutes. The remaining broadcasts had already ended and were no longer available.

As for why those broadcasters and advertisers would object? San Jose State University Advertising Professor John Delacruz said it’s not just about the lost money.

“I think the biggest problem that comes from allowing just anybody to broadcast live is that you can be damaging the brand itself," Delacruz said. "You can really leave yourself open to abuse."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Gifts for Mother's Day]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 10:28:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_momgifts0430_1500x845.jpg From tiles that beep and to find your keys to self-contained watering and growing pots for plants, here are some high-tech gifts for Mother's Day.]]> <![CDATA[Slack to Replace Work Email?]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 13:18:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/computer+generic1.jpg

Most people may know Stewart Butterfield as one of the founders of Flickr, who sold the company off to Yahoo for $25 million in 2005. Now his new company, Slack, a new team communication platform, is valued at $2.8 billion.

The impetus behind Slack is that email is too clunky, and worker drones need a better way to see what everyone is saying and have archive access. "By organizating people into channels or specific projects, you get an ambient awareness," Butterfield told Press:Here.

Instead of sending a ticket to a company's help desk to fix something, the department could notice a lot of chatter online about a computer problem. Instead of waiting for a fix-it ticket, the tech team could proactively try to fix it -- all because they were able to see what the rest of the company was talking about.

Slack actually came out of another startup by Butterfield, a video gaming site called Glitch, which never really caught on. After a while and $17 million in venture capital funds, Butterfield realized it was never going to be a moneymaker. However, his team realized it  wanted to keep using the same messaging platform they created. This made Butterfield pivot to Slack as a new startup for companies who want a more open communication platform.

Butterfield said the name comes from his attempt to lessen the tension around office communications. "Having slack gives people room to play and explore," he said.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Student Gets New 3-D Printed Hand]]> Sat, 02 May 2015 03:56:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/3-d+hand.jpg

A South Florida graduate student is getting a helping hand, thanks to a fellow classmate and some innovative technology.

Chad Coarsey was born without a left hand — but after a little ingenuity with a 3-D printer, he now has one.

Like many other 25 year olds, Coarsey loves to stay active and play sports.

 

"As I was wrestling in high school I got kind of the nickname, 'The Nub,'" said the Florida Atlantic University graduate student. "It's a big part of my personality, so it's a big part of how people identify who I am," Coarsey said.

Although his parents had offered to buy him a prosthesis many times, Coarsey was okay without one. Then he met his classmate and fellow graduate student, Charles Weinthal.

"I noticed he didn't have a hand," said Weinthal. "So I asked him, 'Chad would you like a hand?' And he looked at me for a moment and just smiled brightly and said 'Yes, I would,'" said Weinthal.

So why now?

"Well probably my curiosity and openness to science and seeing what I can actually make," Coarsey said.

The collaboration for their FAU class project then quickly began. They used FAU High School's high-tech lab and a 3-D printer to make Coarsey's hand.

Here's how 3-D printing works: Guided by a computer model, a plastic filament melts to create the object layer by layer. The 3-D printed prosthetic hand takes less than 24 hours to print.

"This device costs less than $100 to make," Weinthal said.

"When I put it on and started grabbing things and picking up things... for me it was just very surreal," Coarsey said.

It's no surprise these two passed their intro to bioengineering class with flying colors. The next step for "the Hulk hand," as Coarsey jokingly calls it, is for the plastic fingers to move individually.

"I can get another hand and be up to par... but why not push it further and get a hand that's better than what two handed people can do?"

Since this prosthesis has made a difference in Coarsey's life, both men now plan to give a hand to hundreds of amputees in need. They hope this quick and affordable alternative can extend far beyond the walls of their lab.

"It's important that everyone has a hand and that's part of giving. Because you give and get," Weinthal said.

"Despite having a limitation... if there's the motivation you can overcome it yourself," added Coarsey.

The students don't intend on making a business out of the creation. At this time, a foundation is in the works so that they can help thousands of people who may be in need of 3-D printed prosthetics.



Photo Credit: NBCMiami.com]]>
<![CDATA[Stopping Annoying Robo Calls]]> Sun, 10 May 2015 21:55:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR-Robo-Calls.jpg

Robocalls, those marketing junk calls you get on your phone, are getting worse. The Federal Trade Commission receives 250,000 to 300,000 complaints about unwanted calls each month. Putting your name on the government's Do Not Call list at DoNotCall.gov is one step, but Consumer Reports says it's not very effective.

So how can you stop robocalls? If you get your home phone service from an Internet provider, you may be able to sign up for the call-blocking service NoMoRobo.com.
Anecdotally, Consumer Reports is hearing that NoMoRobo is somewhat effective, but it's not available with all phone services. So you will have to check its website. Consumer Reports is in the midst of testing devices that are supposed to filter junk calls from your home phone.

Robocalls are also a problem on cell phones. On an Android phone you can try a call-blocking app, although you'll also block emergency calls and other calls you might want. iPhones have similar settings.

Nothing so far is 100 percent effective against robocalls. Rogue companies can mask their caller ID and make it appear that they're coming from within your own area code or even your own number.

Robocalls are not just a nuisance. Consumer Reports estimates that phone scams cost Americans 350 million dollars per year. To stop robocalls, the publisher of Consumer Reports is pressuring the big phone companies to provide free tools for their customers. Almost 300-thousand people have already signed a petition. You can join them at EndRoboCalls.org.


Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[How Old Do I Look? Website's Photo Guesses Go Viral ]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 12:08:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/computer_generic_laptop_5_640x480.jpg

People pondering the age-old query of "how old do I look?" are finally getting an answer, for better or for worse, thanks to a new website that's gone viral. 

Developers at Microsoft launched a website this week that claims to guess a person’s gender and age based on a photo upload.

Corom Thompson and Santosh Balasubramanian launched the website, How-Old.net at a tech conference Thursday, not knowing it would go viral.

"We sent email to a group of several hundred people asking them to try the page for a few minutes and give us feedback - optimistically hoping that at least 50 people would give it a shot," they wrote in a blog post.

But within a few hours, they wrote they had already seen hits from more than 35,000 users from across the world. 

While the answers are far from 100 percent accurate, many people are taking to social media to share the "age" guessed by the site. 


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Watch: Initial Consumer Reports Tests]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:16:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/apple+watch.jpg

People who preordered an Apple Watch started getting their deliveries. Prices start at $350 and go up to $10,000 or more for the gold edition.

While you can try on the watches at the Apple store, they are only being sold online. Consumer Reports has gotten six of the eight it purchased and immediately began testing.

Here are the initial results.

The Apple Watch comes in a variety of styles. The Sport is made of lightweight aluminum with hardened glass. The stainless steel version has a sapphire crystal. They face the same Consumer Reports’ tests that all smartwatches face.

Durability is important for a smartwatch. You can protect a smartphone with a case. But a smartwatch is on your wrist where it’s going to be out and exposed to the elements. And it’s going to get banged up.

One test checks how hard a scratch it can endure. Most smartwatches are scratched by the equivalent of a steel nail. The Apple Sport proved tougher and the sapphire crystal on the steel watch is even better, with the scratch-resistance of a luxury watch.

Both versions were also dunked in a pressurized tank for 30 minutes to check Apple’s water resistance claim. The watches survived the initial test but they won’t officially pass until testers make sure they still work 24 hours later.

One of the Apple Watch’s key functions is a fitness device. A test assessed its accuracy in measuring your heart rate while you’re moving. Still other panelists are checking usability. How easy is it to do various functions, how intuitive and what’s the learning curve?

Consumer Reports’ final ratings on the Apple Watch are expected in early May.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
 



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Watch Hits the Streets]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:47:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_applewatch0423001.jpg The first customers to sign up for the new Apple Watch will begin receiving their devices today.]]> <![CDATA[Azle Police Officers to Wear Body Cameras]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:21:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/azle-body-cams-inset.jpg

The Azle Police Department has adopted a new body camera policy.

High-resolution video cameras are to be worn by all uniformed officers and detectives, Rick Pippins, Azle Police chief, said in a statement.

The cameras will attach to officers' uniforms and will record video with audio.

The WolfCom 3rd Eye system was approved by the Azle Crime Control and Prevention District and the Azle City Council. CCPD funds and a $6,000 grant given by the Texas Department of Transportation will fund the cameras, Chief Pippins said.

The cameras are said to work in low-light situations and interface with the portable radios worn by officers. The high-resolution cameras also have GPS capabilities.

The statement said some officers and detectives received training on the proper use of the cameras and began using them this week.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Google Launches Wireless Phone Service]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:15:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP125290752356.jpg

Google is offering a wireless phone service designed to pressure major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless into lowering their prices.

The service, called "Project Fi," will cost $20 per month and only charge customers for the amount of cellular data that they use each month instead of a flat rate. Each gigabyte of data will cost $10 per month. That means a customer could sign up for a plan offering three gigabytes of data and get $20 back if only one gigabyte was used in a month.

Most wireless phone carriers allow their customers to roll over unused data into another month of service without refunding any money.

Google's service initially will be available only on the Nexus 6, a Motorola phone made with Google's help.

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<![CDATA[Mysterious Drone Causing Headaches in Mansfield]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 12:14:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/221*120/drone-chicago.jpg

A Texas man says a drone was hovering outside his first floor window, but when he called police he was told there was little they could do about it. 

Late last month, Mansfield resident JR Page was checking the pool filter in his backyard when he heard a noise that sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

“I came around the corner, that's when I saw the drone,” explained Page, who  also reached out to NBC5. “it looked like it was flashing taking pictures of my window.”

Page followed it down the street to a nearby development. We went to that homeowner and asked about the drone and was told it wasn’t his; but he had seen one flying in the area. Page called police.

“They said the technology is new, too new and they weren't able to do anything,” recalled Page.

The Mansfield Police department confirmed they received a call from Page late last month, and the officer did indeed check with the Federal Aviation Administration. According to police, they were told there was no criminality as far as flight safety is concerned.

MPD said it would be considered a crime if the drone took inappropriate pictures and those ended up in possession of someone or on the internet.

“I was just thinking I'm single I don't have any kids, what if I had a kid and there was a little girl changing and drone was taking pictures of someone changing,” Page said. “it's an invasion of privacy.”

A FAA spokesperson referred NBC 5 to the agency's website.

One of the rules on the website state, “Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission.”

When we pressed the FAA further on the rules, specifically if someone was allowed to fly a drone near a homeowner’s first floor window, Elizabeth Cory with the FAA said, “That's a question for local police/city/county ordinances. FAA regs cover safety of flight, and the UAS regulations are still proposed and in the comment period.”

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<![CDATA[Is High-Res Audio Worth It?]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:20:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+High+Res+Audio+041715.jpg

High-definition video has taken over TVs, phones and tablets. But sound quality is worse than it was 10 or 15 years ago. New hi-resolution audio promises to change all that.

Consumer Reports checked out the audio quality of hi-res audio files played on three players — the Sony HiRes Walkman NWZ-A17 for $300, the Ponoplayer NY001 for $400 and the Astell and Kern AK100 II for $900.

Both Consumer Reports trained reviewers and regular staff were able to tell the difference between hi-res music and iTunes downloads played on an iPod Touch. But you need high-quality gear for it to be noticeable.

Hi-res audio tracks, available on several websites, takes up a lot more storage space and typically costs twice as much or more.

Consumer Reports says that given the relatively small difference in quality and higher cost, hi-res audio probably isn’t for the casual listener who’s going to be using average headphones or speakers. It makes the most sense for true audiophiles.

For the rest of us, Consumer Reports says it probably better to just invest in a good pair of headphones. Headphones from Grado are especially good, starting at $80 for the Prestige SR60e model. Even $10 can get you a decent set of earphones that may be a big improvement over the earbuds that came with your phone. Consumer Reports recommends the Panasonic RP-TCM125.


Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Man Tears Tendon Playing "Candy Crush": Medical Journal ]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:24:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/candy-crush.jpg

Spending too much time playing “Candy Crush Saga” really can have consequences, according to a new case report on a San Diego man who injured his thumb after many weeks of playing the puzzle game on his smartphone.

Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions research at Naval Medical Center San Diego, co-authored the case report, “Tendon Rupture Associated with Excessive Smartphone Gaming,” published this week in the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal.

According to the report, a 29-year-old San Diego man played “Candy Crush Saga” on his smartphone all day for six to eight weeks. As a result, he suffered chronic left thumb pain and loss of active motion.

“He played with his left hand while using his right hand for other tasks, stating that ‘playing was kind of a secondary thing, but it was constantly on,’” the report said.

When doctors examined him and performed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of his thumb, they found he had ruptured the tendon. He had to undergo surgery to repair the damage, Doan said.

According to the report, the patient claimed he felt no pain while playing the video game, and only noticed the injury many weeks later.

Doan told NBC 7 research shows video gaming can cause the release of hormones in the body that help reduce pain perception. That means one could sustain an injury from repeated smartphone use, but not necessarily notice the pain right away.

“Are we experiencing physical injury now because we’re not experiencing pain?” he said. “This case illustrates what we believe video gaming can do.”

Doan said video games are a type of “digital painkiller” with both negative and positive effects on health.

He said clinically, video games can be used to help children undergoing painful medical procedures, including pediatric patients during burn treatments.

The visual distraction and “natural painkiller” effect could help a patient feel less pain, Dr. Doan said. In some cases, Dr. Doan said video games could be used in place of medication.

Though video gaming could aid in a patient’s recovery, the doctor noted it’s important not to overuse video games or smartphones.

Citing a study by Andrew K. Przybylski, PhD, titled “Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment,” Doan said one hour or less per day of video gaming could be beneficial for the psychological adjustment of children between 10 and 15 years old.

Three hours or more, however, could have negative effects on children, according to that study.

“The key is moderation here,” Doan told NBC 7.

He said monitoring overuse of video games is important in both adults and children, but because children are still developing, it’s especially crucial to watch their use.

“When a young child spends too much time in Internet faming on Internet activities, there can be significant problems,” said Doan. “The child needs time, boundaries, and intensive face-to-face attention to program the other areas of the brain that have been neglected.”

In the case of this adult patient, Doan said the man was not diagnosed with an addiction to “Candy Crush,” rather he just played the game as a way to pass the time after leaving the military and being between jobs. He  said this was one of the strangest cases he's seen in his research career.

 

 



Photo Credit: Flickr / m01229]]>
<![CDATA[What Tech Experts Are Saying About the Apple Watch ]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:41:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/465696900.jpg

Pre-orders for the highly anticipated Apple Watch start online today, two weeks before the high-tech time piece hits the stores.

But is the wearable gadget worth the price tag, which ranges from $349 for a basic model to more than $10,000.

Early reviews from some of tech's leading voices praised the smartwatch as a product with potential, but some room for improvement post-launch.

Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent and editor-at-large for Mashable, called it a “breakout star” and a “gorgeous, smart, fun, extensible, expensive and an object of true desire.” Yet he said the app store is an area that “needs the most improvement,” because the apps “took forever to install.”

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times echoed a similar tone in a review about the third-party apps, which he said “are useless right now.” He wrote that “the Apple Watch works like a first-generation device, with all the limitations and flaws you’d expect of brand-new technology.”

CNET.com Senior Edior Scott Stein, who wore the watch for a week, said it’s a “clever invention” that can help you in four areas: communication, fitness, information and time. He used it to order lunch, track daily activities, play his favorite tunes and hail a car from Uber. When it came to the last task,  he said using the app on iPhone offers a better view of cars in the area.

Here's a recap of what reviewers found to be the top features — and drawbacks — of the device:

What’s good about it?

  • Many tech experts, including "Today" show contributor Katie Linendoll, agree that the “comprehensive device” is more functional than fashionable. It allows users to check the weather, calendar appointments, make calls, send text messages and play music.
  • The watch's “Fitness Tracker PLUS” feature monitors your heart rate if you’re jogging or taking a walk.
  • If you're not adapted to the selfie stick, you can use the device to take a selfie even though it doesn't have a camera. Simply sync your phone, tap the watch screen and say "cheese."

What’s bad about it?

  • You need to have an iPhone 5 or a newer version in order make calls, send text messages and check emails using your watch.
  • Some reviewers concluded that the biggest red flag about the gadget is its “bad battery life.” They said it has to be charge every day if it's used often.
  • It only allows you to read or discard emails; you can’t reply.
  • It is not waterproof.

If you’re still unsure about getting a watch, you could rent one for as low as $45 a week to test if it’s worth the investment, through a service offered by the San Francisco-based gadget rental start-up called Lumoid
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Apple's Racially Diverse Emojis]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:05:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Apple-Emojis.jpg

Apple has released its latest iOS update with plenty of new features, including the highly-anticipated racially diverse characters. 

The iOS 8.3's enhanced keyboard comes with 300 new emojis and users can finally choose from six different skin tones.

There's also a larger variety of country flags and emojis to represent different types of families, plus the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch have been added to the catalog.

"Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement in February.

The different skin tones can be changed by holding down and tapping the icon.

iOS 8.3 also brought new languages to Siri, including Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Swedish, Turkish and Portuguese. Numerous bug fixes were also included in the update.

The update is available for free in the Settings app or in iTunes.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Drone Wars Shed Light on Flights]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2015 18:46:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Drone_wars_Josh_ault.jpg

The buzz of drones could be heard all day in Addison on Saturday.

The first ever Drone Wars was held at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

The popularity of drones has hit an all-time level, so those at the museum were pretty sure Drone Wars would be a hit.

“We didn’t know what kind of reaction we would have, but this has been overwhelming,” said Cavanaugh Flight Museum executive director Doug Jeanes. “It’s just exciting and fun.”

Close to 50 participants signed up for Drone Wars. Organizers set up two obstacles for them to test their skills. They had three levels beginners, intermediate, and experienced.

Even though drones seem innocent, federal regulators have been adding more and more regulations on what you can do with them.

“If you are going to flying them outside the rules are it has to be line of sight,” said Cavanaugh Flight Museum marketing director Scott Slocum. “You have to see the drone at all times. You cannot go higher than 400 feet, and you can’t go closer than five miles to an airport.”

With several high profile cases of drones ending up in places they should not, organizers of Drone Wars hope the event will teach users the rules.

“We want to educate people about this,” said Slocum. “I believe, this is my opinion, but in my daughter’s lifetime there will be drones flying around doing tasks for us. That’s going to be a common thing.”

Slocum says as the popularity of drones continue to rise he expects even more changes on how they can be used in the future.

“I think there will be more refined regulations,” said Slocum. “It will be in such a way, if you are making money with it and you are a professional and doing something it, you will be regulated. You will be licensed, so that way the safety measures will be in place just like if you are flying an airliner.”

Drone War organizers say they definitely plan to have more events like these in the future.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Your TV Can Spy on You]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2015 09:56:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR-TV-Snoop-040515.jpg

It's likely you don't think you've invited a spy into your home when setting up a new TV. But new Samsung, LG, and Vizio smart TVs can record and share everything that's viewed, whether it's a broadcast or something streaming from the Internet. And some smart TVs can even track what DVD you're watching.

The reason: Your viewing habits are valuable information for marketers who might want to use the information to recommend new shows, offer extra content on shows you're already watching, or serve up customized advertising. The ads are primarily pop-ups like the ones you see on your computer.

You might not realize that you allowed that data collection when you agreed to the lengthy privacy policy during setup; with Samsung, it's 47 screens of text. LG and Vizio also ask you to sign away your privacy in thousands of words in fine print.

When Consumer Reports emailed the manufacturers to ask how they are using the technology, representatives for Samsung and Vizio didn't comment. An LG rep said that the company isn't using any data to send personalized ads and has no plans to do so.
But Consumer Reports says that could change at any time.

You might think, well why don't I just turn those marketing features off? It's not always so easy. To stop tracking, you have to fight your way through menu settings. On an LG set, go to settings, then options, then Live plus, click off, then close. With Vizio, it's a voyage through three menus to turn off the box Smart Interactivity. With Samsung, it's a similar trip to find the box SyncPlus and Marketing to disable it.

Consumer Reports says that disabling the marketing feature may cause you to lose offers of extra scenes or commentary related to the shows you're watching. But maybe that's a small price to pay for knowing that what you're watching remains private.

More: How to Turn Off Snooping Smart TV Features

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available at Consumer Reports' website.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Top Cars at 2015 New York Auto Show]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:52:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+show+new.jpg A collection of photos taken at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Photo Credit: AP]]>