<![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 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:02:46 -0600 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:02:46 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Top Google Doodles]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:58:58 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AndoMomofuku.png Since 1998, Google has created more than 1000 colorful and imaginative doodles to commemorate important holidays and people. Take a look back at some of the most iconic designs from around the world.]]> <![CDATA[Watch this "Machine Gun" Laser Mosquitos in Slow-Mo]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:30:44 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_mosquitozapper0304001_1500x845.jpg New high-tech bug zapper identifies certain types of mosquitoes, then shoots them out of the air with low-power lasers.]]> <![CDATA[Tinder Charging Age-Based Fee for New Update]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:58:23 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/140411-tinder-dating-app-mn-1310_6f284758e68894d5f153e1d324a00965.nbcnews-fp-1360-600.jpg

If you are over 30, finding love on Tinder is going to be more expensive.

The dating app has released a new premium version that includes new features to help people connect, but the cost of the update depends on the user’s age.

Users in America over 30 will pay $19.99 per month, while users under 30 will pay $9.99.

Tinder said in a statement that the fees are not out of the ordinary for subscription services.

"Lots of products offer differentiated price tiers by age, like Spotify does for students, for example," said spokesperson Rosette Pambakian. "Tinder is no different; during our testing we’ve learned, not surprisingly, that younger users are just as excited about TinderPlus, but are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger."

The premium version also comes with two new features: “Rewind” allows people to undo "left swipes," or rejections of other users, while “Passport” also allows the ability to change geographic locations, meaning you can try to connect with people in different countries.

The update also now limits the number of “likes,” or right swipes a person can make within a certain time frame. 

Tinder wouldn't say how many people use the app, but an unnamed person told the New York Times late last year that it has managed to draw 50 million monthly users.

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<![CDATA[Yahoo! Turns 20 With a Yodel]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:29:52 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/163*120/AP97030303425_YahooFilo.jpg

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Monday, and the employees — and the Nasdaq bell in New York — are yodeling for joy.

"We're thrilled," CFO Ken Goldman said before the Nasdaq yodeled, not rang, before the opening bell, a first on the New York stock exchange floor, according to Yahoo.

He said the Silicon Valley company has come a long way since being house in a construction trailer on the campus of Stanford University, saying it's now a "global tech company" with more than 1 billion customers.

It was in 1994 that Jerry Yang and David Filo, two Stanford University electrical engineers debuted "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web," according to — where else? — but Yahoo News.

In its first iteration, the site was a directory other pages on the web, organized in a hierarchy.

The pair renamed it Yahoo, an acronym for, "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," and on March 2, 1995, it was incorporated. The search engine is no long the leader in search engine capability or email. But it does have a growing news site, and it’s now headed by CEO Marissa Mayer.

To mark the #YodelOn festivites, a customized Yahoo Y20 animation took over the Nasdaq billboard in New York Times Square, and in San Francisco, City Hall will light up in the company's favorite color: purple.

At lunchtime, Yahoo employees will link up online to try to break the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous yodel.

Click here to see what 20 Internet words didn't exist before Yahoo launched.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Google Expansion Worries Hometown]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:58:37 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/google22.jpg

New expansion plans for Google headquarters, known as the Googleplex, has the city of Mountain View in a tough position as city leaders try to accommodate their biggest corporate taxpayer as well as non-Google residents who feel the tech giant is swallowing their town.

“I think most of us in Mountain View are concerned about where are we going to house the employees that work there, the new employees. How will they get to work given the traffic bottlenecks that already exist?” asked Mountain View councilman Lenny Siegel.

Reportedly, the new plans highlight a campus focused on walking or biking to work, which means one thing to Siegel: Mountain View must build new housing.

“We’re expecting as we put housing in north Bayshore and near north Bayshore that we’ll reduce the amount of miles traveled by commuters,” he said.

A mobile home park in the shadow of Google headquarters is also in the cross hairs.

“There is a mobile home park in north Bayshore, about 360 units and a growing number of Google employees are moving in there,” he said. “Now it’s unfortunately displacing some of the residents, they’ve been bought out basically.”

Gregory Legg, who lives in Mountain View said many of his neighbors are Google employees and they’re doing wonders for property values

“It’s actually bringing it up, the property values, which is good. It’s real good,” Legg said. “I mean, before, it was pretty low. And now it’s brought it up quite a bit.”

But with the higher prices, Rosemary Dozie Antoine said she will probably have to move.

“We would like to get out of here because everything’s too expensive for what I do,” she said. “And for what my husband does. So we need to kinda’ need to get out of here.”

The higher real estate is benefiting some, but pushing out others.

“It’s the housing and transportation issues that make me question the value of all this high-tech growth,” she said.

Siegel said opening up Moffett Field for a type of park-and-ride plan that would help alleviate street congestion could be in the works. But his main focus is discussing new housing developments around Google, something the council said no to last year.
 


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<![CDATA["Spring Forward": Apple Watch Expected at March Event]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:52:31 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/APPLE10.jpg

Could it be time for the Apple Watch's big debut?

In its typical mysterious style, Apple announced on Thursday it will hold a “special event” on March 9, in San Francisco. While the Cupertino company didn't mention the watch - it never publicly identifies the subjects of its much-ballyhooed unveilings - it did use a time pun in its sparsely written invitation, colored in pastels.

"Spring Forward," reads the text for the invitation-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, which kicks off at 10 a.m.

Bolstering the watch theory, the company bought 12 pages of ads in Vogue magazine to tout its new Apple Watch, which is set to be released in April. The ad features three versions of the new smartwatch: the leather standard model, the rubber Sport , and the high-end Edition, all in glossy print ads.

And keen industry observers, including TechRadar, MacRumors and the Wall Street Journal predict that soon most everyone who wants one will be walking around with a new Apple wearable on their wrist.



Photo Credit: Apple invitation]]>
<![CDATA[Uber and Starwood Hotels Partner]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:54:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/uber-safety.jpg

San Francisco-based ridesharing company Uber is partnering with a hotel rewards program for the first time.

On Tuesday, Uber announced a partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Connecticut.

Now people in Starwood Hotel’s Preferred Guest program can earn hotel “points” at the chain every time they ride with Uber. The Starwood chain is made up of more than 1,100 hotels and nine brands including St. Regis, W, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element.

According to Uber’s blog, 72 percent of the over 290 cities where Uber is available, you can also find a Starwood hotel.

This partnership includes larger promotional events around the world, including a day of special freebies and deals for San Francisco customers on Feb. 28.

While Uber is a popular ridesharing company, it has also been surrounded in controversy both in the Bay Area and around the world.  Uber has come under fire recently for its safety record, executive missteps, and for being embroiled in several lawsuits with local governments.

Riders will have to rack up quite a few Uber trips to earn their free stay. Starwood Hotel guests earn one “Starpoint” for each dollar they spend with Uber. Guests need a minimum of 2,000 of those “Starpoints“ to stay at the least expensive Starwood rooms.
 

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<![CDATA[2015 Top Pick Cars]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:17:42 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Top+Cars+022514.jpg Consumer Reports Top Pick cars for 2015 are the best of the best of the 270 cars recently tested in 10 of the most popular categories.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Google Teams Up with Wireless Carriers]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:09:54 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/186*120/google12.jpg

Aiming to undercut Apple's latest hit service, Google is teaming up with three major U.S. wireless carriers to prod more people into using its mobile wallet.

The counterattack announced Monday is just the latest example of how the competition between Google Inc. and Apple Inc. is extending beyond the technology industry's traditional boundaries. Besides payments, Silicon Valley's two richest companies are expanding into fields such as home appliances and cars to increase their power and profits.

Google's latest volley calls for its payment service to be built into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA later this year. Smartphone owners currently have to download the service, called Google Wallet, and install the app on their phone if they want to use it to buy something instead of pulling out cash or a credit card.
 
Apple's rival service, Apple Pay, already comes embedded in the latest versions of the company's mobile software.
 
Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google Inc. is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Although Google and the wireless carriers got a head start with their digital wallets, the concept hadn't gained much traction until Apple Pay debuted last fall.
 
The service has become more popular than Apple expected, according to a recent presentation by CEO Tim Cook.

Just three months after Apple Pay's November debut, Cook said the service accounted for two out of every three dollars spent across the three major U.S. card networks, when no card was used. About 2,000 banks and credit unions have agreed to offer Apple Pay to its customers. Apple hasn't said how many merchants are set up to handle its mobile payment services.
 
Apple builds on that early momentum, the Cupertino, California, company could become the leader in what is expected to be a booming market. Nearly 16 million U.S. consumers spent about $3.5 billion on tap-and-pay services last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. By 2018, eMarketer predicts those figures will rise to 57 million U.S. consumers spending about $118 billion.

Companies that provide mobile wallets make money by collecting processing fees from merchants and banks.

Samsung Electronics, another major smartphone maker, may be ready to join the fray after buying a mobile payment startup called LoopPay. That deal, announced last week, fueled speculation that Samsung will include a digital wallet on its next phone.

Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online. Media reports say Google is considering selling its own wireless plans to consumers.

The pre-installation of the Wallet app is similar to what Google already does with its search engine, Gmail and YouTube on millions of other phones running on Android -- an operating system that Google has been giving away for years to ensure people keep using its products on mobile devices. Google profits from the traffic by showing ads.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dating App for Pot Smokers]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 07:49:48 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/High+There+App.jpg

Stoners looking for that special someone, rejoice: There is a new way to light up connections with others who share a love of weed.

High There! is a dating app, similar to Tinder, designed especially for marijuana smokers.

The Denver-based app is available for Android phones in states where use of marijuana is legal, according to its download page in the Google Play store.

High There! doesn't yet have an iPhone app, though several media reports say one is in the works.

Similar to Tinder, High There! lets users create profiles and swipe through potential matches. But the app also lets weed-smokers let others know what they like to do when high. A preview on Google Play shows the options to set your "energy level" to "low" if you like to veg out, or to "high" if you want to go for a run after you partake.

The app also matches people based on their preferences for consuming THC -- vaping vs. smoking, for example.

"High There! solves the problem many cannabis consumers face in connecting with similar people," according to the app's download page. "Whether looking to connect with new friends, current friends, fellow patients, or simply to find that special someone who understands and supports your choice to consume, High There! helps by giving you a safe place to express yourself."

CEO Todd Mitchem told Mashable the app is designed for more than just dating.

"A lot of people say we're the Tinder of weed, but that's only one facet of the whole thing. It's so much bigger," he said.

Mitchem said the app can help users find recommendations for local medical marijuana dispensaries, or just make friends. (Presumably, friends with some weed.)



Photo Credit: High There! Screen Grab from Google Play]]>
<![CDATA[New Device Helps Paralyzed Patients Walk]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 22:50:30 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/%5BDFW%5D+Exo+Skeleton+Gym.jpg

A new device is changing the lives of people who are paralyzed. It is called the Rewalk and it was unveiled in Dallas this weekend. Rewalk can give people who were not even able to stand, the ability to walk again.

“The first time I stood up I felt powerful,” said Marcela Turnage, who has a spinal cord injury.

Turnage had not walked in 12 years after a nasty car accident left her paralyzed.

“It’s just amazing to walk again and do things in a different position,” said Turnage.

She is now able to walk again with the help of the robotic exoskeleton. Rewalk is the first and only FDA approved device of its kind and there's only four in Texas.

“We are super lucky to have Marcela here today,” said Kendell Hall to room of men and women bound to wheelchairs. “She is a very inspiring young lady.”

Hall is director at React, a spinal cord injury recovery gym. React now has one of the four Rewalks at their facility in Dallas.

“With this injury you’re in your chair all the time,” said Hall, who is also disabled at the legs. “To be able to be up and to be able to be walking around is just…you really can’t put any words with it.

The words are hard to find, but the experience of walking again is liberating.

“It has changed my life,” said Turnage. “It has given me a different perspective about life.”

The Rewalk allows a person to set their own pace as they get accustomed to walking again. The robotic exoskeleton costs about $70,000.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Hydrogen-Powered Cars]]> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:23:32 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+HYDROGEN+CARS.jpg

Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles have long been just a clean-fuel dream, but now several automakers are introducing them.

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell looks just like a typical small SUV, but it’s powered by hydrogen. The vehicles use a fuel cell instead of a battery. The fuel cell is replenished with hydrogen combined with oxygen, and the result is electricity to power the car. Water is the only emission.

Consumer Reports evaluated the Hyundai Tucson and found that it drives much like a normal Tucson but without an engine. It’s actually much quieter. Hyundai claims that it will go 265 miles before you have to refuel it. That’s pretty amazing for an electric vehicle. And unlike a battery-powered car, it doesn’t take hours to charge. It should take 5 minutes or less at a hydrogen refueling station.

Currently, there are only about a dozen hydrogen-fueling stations in the U.S., and they are mainly on the West Coast. But California and Toyota plan to build about 40 additional fueling stations by 2016.

At this point, Hyundai is making its fuel-cell vehicle available just in California and only with a lease of $500 per month.

Consumer Reports’ auto engineers believe that fuel-cell technology is promising and is advancing at a pretty rapid rate. Plus there are incentives available, such as free hydrogen fuel and tax breaks.

Other fuel-cell cars are coming soon, including the Toyota Mirai, which is expected in the next few months and will be priced at around $57,000 before tax credits and rebates. The Honda FCV is slated to come out in March of 2016.

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[Google Now Calculates Your Mortgage]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:22:56 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*121/GoogleMortgageCalculator.JPG

Google now has a mortgage calculator for users who don't want to bother looking up a mortgage site.

Apparently it was created to capture those searching for a mortgage calculator because it shows up in the search results, much as its regular calculator does, according to Search Engine Land. From Google Plus:

Preparing for homeownership just got a bit easier. Starting today you can ask Google things like “How much can I borrow at $200 a month?” or “At 5% APR how much can I borrow over 10 years?” You can even adjust the mortgage amount, interest rate, mortgage period and more to see which financial options fit your needs.

Google's plan is to keep eyeballs on the site, and providing free online tools has been their successful way of doing just that. Its other tools, such as Google's currency converter and Google Translate are also ways to keep people using the search engine and coming back for more.



Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Google Takes on Uber]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:29:36 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/uber-illustration-451549230.jpg

Uber, Lyft -- and now Google.

With no drivers, to boot.

The Mountain View search engine and advertising giant is reportedly working on an Uber competitor, with Google employees already using an app-hailed ride service, according to Bloomberg Business.

Google is working on multiple ventures, including a driverless, self-driven car. Google is also an Uber investor, after the company sank $258 million in Uber in 2013.

Bloomberg believes that Google's ride-hailing service will be launched "most likely in conjunction" with the "driverless car project."

The project is so real that Uber is close to asking David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer who has sat on Uber's board since 2013, to resign his position, Bloomberg reported.

Multiple companies are working on driverless cars, but Google's emergence as an Uber competitor rather than a partner might spell trouble for the San Francisco-based Uber.



Photo Credit: Illustration/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Ringed Planet Discovered]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:20:40 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_planetdiscovery0203001_1500x845.jpg

Since the days of Galileo, astronomers have explored the heavens making many discoveries along the way.

At the University of Rochester, a discovery was just made that has caused astronomers around the world to take notice.

It's called Exoplanet J1407-B, and while the name of this planet may sound odd, its discovery is groundbreaking.

UR Physics and Astronomy professor Eric Mamajek led an international team of scientists that found a ring system around a planet outside our solar system that rivals that of the famous ringed planet Saturn.

It's the first time astronomers have found something like this outside of our solar system.

"This is probably the first indirect evidence we have of moons forming around planets outside of our solar system. And that has never been seen before," Dr. Mamajek explains.
 

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<![CDATA[Super Bowl 2015: Top Moments on Twitter, Facebook]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:00:11 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brady-belichick-sb49-win-462644256.jpg

Sunday’s Super Bowl battle between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks was the most-talked about NFL championship ever on Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants said Monday.

There were more than 28.4 million global tweets about the game and halftime show, surpassing last year’s 24.9 million tweets during the Super Bowl, Twitter said.

For Facebook, 65 million people wrote some 265 million Super Bowl-related posts, comments and likes.

Some of the game's highlights generated more buzz than Katy Perry's halftime performance and dozens of commercials.

The most popular moment on Facebook was the Patriots' win (1.36 million people-per-minute). This had the second highest volume on Twitter with 379,000 tweets per minute. Katy Perry’s “Firework” finale at halftime was the second most talked-about moment on Facebook (1.02 million people-per-minute); Perry's halftime show was third on Twitter with 284,000 tweets per minute.

When Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson one yard from the goal line with 20 seconds left in the game, Twitter exploded with 395,000 tweets per minute to become the top moment of the night. Butler’s move was the third most popular moment on Facebook, which sparked some 676,000 conversations per-minute.

Women between ages 25 to 34 were the most represented demographic in the conversation about the game on Facebook. The social media platform added that Tom Brady was the most-discussed New England Patriots player, and Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks.


 



Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 10:49:22 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

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<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:04:25 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Newsweek Criticized for Silicon Valley Cover]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:19:30 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Newsweek+sexism+in+tech+cover.jpg

Newsweek's latest exposé has social media in a frenzy over the choice of cover art.

To illustrate the "What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women" article, the American news magazine created a cover illustration showing a computer cursor lifting up the skirt of a woman in a red dress.

Billed by Newsweek as a report of the "sordid, shocking and systemic" sexism in the Northern California technology hub home to Apple, Google and Yahoo, the attention-grabbing art has pundits and social media users questioning its appropriateness.

"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of the analysis group Women In Media and News.

Newsweek editor Jim Impoco has not directly responded to the outcry but instead tweeted a line of approval taken from an Adweek review of the article, and also retweeted one commenter's reworking of the cover art to show the woman kicking the cursor away and her expletive-filled thought over the incident.


 



Photo Credit: Newsweek
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<![CDATA[Instagram Down for a 2nd Time This Week]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:15:21 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158539421.jpg

The photo-centric social media site Instagram was down Wednesday night, just two days after it suffered a similar outage.

The website Is It Down Right Now showed the site as being down shortly after 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. By 10:40 p.m. ET it said the site was back up and reachable.

The site went down on Tuesday around the same time that Facebook, which owns Instagram, suffered a widespread outage lasting roughly 40 minutes.

Instagram has about 300 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.25 billion.

Users took to social media on Wednesday night to report the problem and the pain of not being able to post their photos.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Sharing Streaming Media Passwords]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:21:07 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/streaming+passwords.jpg

It seems so easy! Type in your password and have access to countless video streams on a service you pay for—such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go, or WatchESPN. And it seems just as easy to give your log-in to someone else.

Surprisingly, a newly released Consumer Reports survey shows that 46 percent of those asked share their passwords with friends or relatives who don’t live with them.

Is sharing your password illegal? Consumer Reports’ review of the terms of agreements finds that some seem ambiguous.

But Consumer Reports says that the companies don’t seem to be cracking down. However, business models are evolving—and next year things could be different.

As companies such as HBO and Dish Network begin to offer more online-only content, Consumer Reports says that they may get more protective of the revenue they get from streaming and a bit more interested in exactly who’s watching. But for the time being, they appear to be more interested in creating streaming media addicts.

Though it technically may be OK to hand out your password, you could get blocked unexpectedly. Netflix, like several others, limits simultaneous viewing. Each subscription plan is different.

  • Netflix is one to four screens at the same time, depending on your plan.
  • Amazon Prime allows two at a time.
  • HBO Go allows three at a time.
  • Hulu Plus allows only one.
  • WatchESPN, unlike the others, does not state any limits.

So if you don’t want to interrupt your own viewing pleasure, those limits should make you think twice before you give out your password.

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[Cell Phone Chargers]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:11:36 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cell+phone+charger.jpg

Nothing says misery like being out and about, away from a power source, and your phone goes dead. Lots of companies are tapping into that fear, producing products for portable power.

When you shop, look for milliamps per hour, or mAh. The average smart phone battery holds about 2200 to 3000 mAh. So it’s good to get a charger with at least that much.

The Anker Astro Mini, a sleek device for $20, has 3,200 mAh that’s more than enough to fully charge your phone. It works with both Apple and Android devices and fits into any bag or pocket.

For true techies who need to power up several gadgets on the go, there’s the TYLT Energi+ Backpack for $200. The battery holds over 10,000 mAh and has three ports — two for phones, one for charging a tablet. The cables run to plush-lined compartments that keep everything protected, including your laptop.

Another option is buying a charging case from companies such as Mophie and PhoneSuit. Consumer Reports tests show they can nearly double a phone’s battery life.

To keep your phone battery from running out of power, Consumer Reports recommends turning down your screen’s brightness, putting your phone in airplane mode if you are out of range of a strong signal and closing apps when you’re done using them.

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[Apple Promotes MLK Day Volunteerism]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 09:06:15 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/8-22-2013-MLK-on-MEET-THE-PRESS.jpg

Apple is defending its policy on Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed nationally on Monday Jan. 19, after a Silicon Valley media blog called out the company for not making it a paid holiday.

The suggestion is that Apple is making a misstep, especially as tech companies are striving for greater diversity.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Apple, which confirms, while Monday is not a paid holiday, the company has encouraged employees to volunteer as a way to honor Dr. King. In turn, Apple, through its matching gifts program, is contributing $50 for every employee hour worked.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means government workers will have the day off.

In its article, Valleywag notes Bay Area-based companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo all give employees the holiday off.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Annoying Car Controls & New Solutions]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:34:16 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+controls.jpg

The idea behind car infotainment systems is simple: Give drivers an easy-to-use way to access their phone, music and navigation all while still keeping their eyes on the road. But many drivers find the systems are too complicated or that they don’t always work.

The least reliable system, according to Consumer Reports’ survey, is Infiniti’s InTouch. More than one out of five Infiniti Q50 owners report a problem with the car’s InTouch entertainment system.

Infiniti issued the followed statement regarding the Consumer Reports study:

 

Infiniti closely monitors consumer feedback and third party evaluations, and, as a result, we take Consumer Reports’ reaction to our InTouch system very seriously, and have already taken several steps to improve customer satisfaction.

 

For example, we have recently made available to all 2014 Infiniti Q50 owners a software update which improves the overall performance of its Infiniti InTouch telematics and infotainment system, while also adding functionality such as in-car integration of Facebook, Google, calendar and e-mail. In the meantime, we will continue to work on improvements, as the ultimate satisfaction of our owners, has been and will continue to be, a hallmark of the Infiniti brand.

Kyle W. Bazemore, Senior Manager, Infiniti USA Communications

And some systems like the Cadillac’s CUE are just plain frustrating. There are no knobs so many functions are done using flush buttons that are temperamental.

Ford's MyFord Touch has been both unreliable and frustrating. So the company is introducing a completely redesigned system called Sync3 in 2016 models.

Carmakers are also working with phone manufacturers to make controls simpler. Apple’s CarPlay intergrates your iPhone into your car. For Apple users, that means the screen is familiar and you can use Siri’s voice commands. But for now, if you want Apple’s CarPlay, you’re going to have to get it on the aftermarket. And that can cost as much as $1,200. It will become available on many brand new cars.

Google’s Android Auto is set for release soon. Like CarPlay, it works with your phone, meaning Android users should pick it up quickly.

Consumer Reports says that the most intuitive infotainment systems come from Kia and Chrysler. They have easy-to-use touchscreens plus retain some familiar knobs and buttons.

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[Sony Set to Release New High Quality Sound Walkman]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:10:43 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ZX2_close_up.jpg

Is the Walkman back?

Sony has unveiled a new Walkman that it says will deliver a "pure sound quality for a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience." But that experience will cost you.

The new ZX2 Walkman, revealed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will provide an "unparalleled listening experience" at a price of $1,119.99.

How will the device deliver such a high quality sound? The new walkman has an S-Master HX processor that enables it to carry songs in “high resolution,” meaning each song will be around 150MB, according to Time.

Most CD’s and MP3 players carry compressed versions of songs that are a fraction of that size.

The larger size will allow songs to have more detail, and consequently the device will provide “a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience,” Sony said in a statement.

The Android-powered device also features a 4-inch touchscreen and a battery life of up to 60 hours.

It will also be able to reach apps through Google Play, though it isn’t meant to be a competitor of smartphones, according to Business Time.

The first Walkman, a portable cassette player, went on sale on July 1, 1979, and went on to become a defining product for Sony in the pre-Apple iPod and smartphone era. Other Walkman-branded players were later created for CDs, the Mini-Disc and MP3s.

More recently, an '80s-era Walkman was prominently featured in the blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Sony's new Walkman ZX2 is set to hit the markets this spring, Time reported. 



Photo Credit: Sony]]>
<![CDATA[All About That Bass: Music at CES]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 01:43:09 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/IMG_2038_speaker.JPG

"Hey, Mrs. Carter."

Whoever it is that calls out to Beyonce in the song has never sounded better.

And neither has a ton of bass.

I'm listening to the newest speaker from the French company Devialet, and it's a revelation. In a CES that will no doubt be dominated by drones, and droning on, it's a pleasure to have just a little time alone with some terrific sounding music.

"Billie Jean," for example, is a song I've heard 435,000 times. It's a classic. But today I heard parts of it I never knew existed. Something about a high-end speaker from a company that builds them, and sells them for more than $20,000 a piece.

Devialet chose CES to bring its system to the masses. Well, the well-heeled masses. The "Phantom" is still going to about $2,000. Much less than the high-end model, but it's really made for audiophiles who want a stylish speaker to go with their pumping Bass. (Although, to be fair, it's not just the stuff I listen to that sounds great. Segueing into "The Girl From Ipanema" proves that quiet, smooth music can be improved with a quality system, too).

Devialet boasts dozens of patents to bring you the music. The speaker actually moves as the sound changes, thanks to air being pushed inside. It's cool to watch. But away from the technology, they say music is really about what you feel. Quentin Bernard, Devialet Product Manager, says "by bringing the product to a larger market, people will be able to rediscover the emotion of music. This is our goal."

It's a good goal, and the speaker sounds great. It's wifi-enabled, so you can stream your iTunes playlist, or your Spotify. Buy a few of them, and you can wirelessly listen to movies in your home theatre.

And if you can afford it, my advice is: Crank it up. Even fancy speakers are made to blast your "Yonce.

Scott Budman will be cruising CES. Get his updates by following him on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Scott Budman / NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Mood-Improving Lightbulbs]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 17:33:13 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+lightbulbs.jpg

LED lightbulbs are game changers. They promise to last anywhere from 23 to 46 years. And thanks to electronic circuitry and semiconductor chips, they have the potential to do more than just turn on and off.

Consumer Reports checks out several.

The Definitely Digital Good Night LED claims to improve your natural sleep because it emits less blue light than other LEDs. Although any light can suppress melatonin, the hormone that facilitates sleep, the human eye is particularly sensitive to blue light.

Using a machine, Consumer Reports measured the amount of blue light in the Good Night bulb and found it does have lower levels of blue light than other LEDs. But is that worth its $70 price tag?

Consumer Reports advice: Try a CFL. It costs a lot less than an LED and it gives off much less blue light. Consumer Reports recommends Walmart’s Great Value Soft White 60-Watt Replacement CFL at just over $1 per bulb.

If you have trouble sleeping, Consumer Reports health experts suggest turning off all sources of blue light such as smart phones, computer and tablet screens and TVs several hours before you turn in.

Consumer Reports also tested the $70 Definitely Digital Awake and Alert. It claims more blue light for improved alertness. Consumer Reports’ tests find it does deliver higher blue-light levels, but the light color is not all that flattering to your skin.

And Consumer Reports tested the LIFx LED bulb, which connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled using your smart phone. It changes color and even has a strobe-light setting. Of course if you just want to light a room, the $99 price tag is a lot to pay.

Consumer Reports says the Cree A19 Soft White Dimmable LED will light a room just fine for $8.50 per bulb.

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[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:03:12 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 10:21:17 -0600 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

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

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

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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