<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 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 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:08:23 -0500 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:08:23 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Online Tool Provides Car Recall Information]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:13:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/WomanComputerPic_1200x675_300608067571.jpg The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a new online tool — safercar.gov — in which car buyers and owners can use a vehicle identification number to identify open or unrepaired safety recalls.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:08:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/216*120/Steve+Ballmer+Clips+1.JPG

Steve Ballmer on Tuesday left Microsoft's Board of Directors, citing new commitments as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a day after publicly stepping into his role with the team.

"The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," Ballmer wrote in his resignation letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time."

Ballmer, who handed off the reins as CEO to Nadella in February, expressed confidence in the company’s future and said he is proud that "Microsoft has been my life's work."

"I bleed Microsoft -- have for 34 years and I always will," he wrote.

Ballmer bought the Clippers from Shelly Sterling, wife of former owner Donald Sterling, for $2 billion in May.

The deal was approved by the NBA and finalized Aug. 12 after a tumultuous court battle between the Sterlings.

Shelly Sterling said last week she is "thrilled that the Clippers now have such a wonderful new owner."

Ballmer introduced himself to thousands of Clippers fans on Monday during an energetic rally at the Staples Center that also featured several players and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ballmer promised to keep the team in LA and to usher in an era of many victories.

"This is an amazing new day in Clippers history," Coach Doc Rivers said at the rally. "I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization."

In a response to Ballmer's resignation letter Tuesday, Nadella thanked Ballmer for his time at the company and wished him success.

"I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft," Nadella wrote.

Ballmer remains a shareholder at Microsoft.

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<![CDATA[Community Health Systems Targeted by Hackers]]> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:37:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/87507117.jpg

Hackers have hit one of the biggest hospital groups in the United States and North Texans may be at risk.

Community Health Systems operates hospitals in Mesquite, Weatherford, Granbury, Corsicana and Hillsboro.

Hackers stole the information of 4.5 million patients who've either received treatment or were referred to a network hospital in the last five years.

Stolen data includes patient names, birth dates and social security numbers. Medical information and credit card numbers were not stolen, but affected patients are at risk for identity theft.

The hospital company said it was attacked during April and June of this year. Community Health Systems plans to offer identity theft protection to victims of the breach.

According to CNBC, Community Healthy Systems operates 206 hospitals in 29 states.

Tina Pollock, chief executive officer of Dallas Regional Medical Center, an affiliate of Community  Health Systems, said in a prepared statement Tuesday that, "no personal data belonging to patients who were seen at physician practices and clinics affiliated with Dallas Regional Medical Center over the past five years was transferred out of our organization in a criminal cyber-attack by a foreign-based intruder."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Amazon's 1st Smart Phone]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:22:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon+smart+phone.jpg

Amazon has just released its first smart phone, the Fire.

Consumer Reports has started checking out the phone in its labs. Its cell phone team is excited about some of the phone’s features, like dynamic perspective. It gives the phone a 3D look. They’re also intrigued by Firefly, which helps you identify objects in front of you by scanning them. It can even identify music and movies by listening to them.

So how well do the features work? Firefly sometimes had trouble identifying movies, songs and objects in front of it. And the hands-free gesture feature is a bit clunky. It didn’t always work.

Another feature of the Fire is called Mayday, which is free video tech support with live people. They can access your phone and fix problems or change settings while you watch.

So, is all this new technology worth switching over? Consumer Reports take so far: this is a really fun phone with a lot of unique features. But some people won’t like the fact that it can’t run popular Google apps like YouTube or Gmail.

You can get more information on Consumer Reports’ first impressions of the Fire here.

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



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Amazon's 1st Smart Phone]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:20:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon+smart+phone.jpg Amazon has just released its first smart phone, the Fire. Consumer Reports has started checking out the phone in its labs.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Back-to-School Laptops]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 05:53:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Laptops+081114.jpg

Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest spending spree of the year, according to the National Retail Federation. And these days, students need a lot more than pencils and paper. If a new computer is on your must-have list, Consumer Reports has suggestions for kids of all ages.

A good choice for first through fifth graders is a low-cost Chromebook. They are lightweight laptops that run Google’s Chrome operating system. For younger kids, parents can set up supervised user accounts that restrict content on the web. One Chromebook to look for is the Acer C720-2848. It costs just $200 and it lasts more than 10 hours on a charge.

Serious homework demands a serious computer. For high school and middle school students, Consumer Reports says the $600 Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch is a good choice. It’s a lot of laptop for the money. It’s got a powerful processor, a decent-sized hard drive, and it was a very good performer in our lab tests. Another plus is at about four pounds, it won’t weigh down a backpack.

College-bound students have loads of gear! But for taking notes, is a laptop or a tablet a better choice? Consumer Reports says Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 offers the best of both. It costs $1,000, plus $130 more for the keyboard accessory. It’s technically a tablet, but it’s got a full Windows operating system. It allows you to switch back and forth between a touchscreen-friendly mode, and one that’s more like a conventional mouse and keyboard. And for creative thinkers, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a pen that lets you write directly on the screen.

For college students majoring in the visual arts, Consumer Reports has another recommendation, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. At $1,300 it’s pricey, but it has a stunning display and a long-lasting battery and Apple is now offering a discount for students. You may be able to get a discount on other computers for students.

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[HD TVs: Consumer Reports]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:20:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hd+tv.jpg Just when you thought you had the sharpest picture possible on your high-definition television manufacturers are promoting ultra high-definition, also called ultra HD, UHD or 4K. Consumer Reports has tested several 50 to 60-inch UHD sets from big names like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic and the television expert says ultra high-definition TVs has a lot to offer.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[HD TVs]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:23:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hd+tv.jpg

Just when you thought you had the sharpest picture possible on your high-definition television manufacturers are promoting ultra high-definition, also called ultra HD, UHD or 4K.

Consumer Reports has tested several 50 to 60-inch UHD sets from big names like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic and the television expert says ultra high-definition TVs has a lot to offer. They deliver four times the number of pixels as regular high-definition sets, so they’re capable of razor sharp detail, especially if you stand up close.

But here’s the rub, from farther away, say, the distance you might be sitting in your living room, the difference between ultra high-def and high-def can be difficult to detect.

Another issue: what to watch. Right now there is not a lot of 4K content to watch, so that means you will be watching a lot of regular HD content on your ultra HD TV.

How does that look? Actually, quite good testers say, because the ultra high-def sets can “upconvert” regular HD programs to the higher resolution, making details look smoother. How well a TV performs the upconversion process is one of the things that differentiates sets.

So, should you buy an ultra high-definition TV? Consumer Reports says that if your TV breaks, you might want to consider an ultra HD TV. But for most people, a regular high performing, 1080p high-definition TV is still a great option. Those ultra high-definition sets Consumer Reports tested cost between $2,000 and $8,000. A great 60-inch 1080p high-definition TV costs far less. These three are Consumer Reports Best Buys:

  • Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U for about $1,300
  • Samsung UN60H6350 for about $1,400
  • LG 60PB6600 is a plasma TV for about $850

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



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Driver Arrested After Assault]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:12:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/police-lights-night-shutterstock_54084688.jpg

Police arrested an Uber driver a woman accused of sexually assaulting her earlier this month.

Police charged 31-year-old Reshad Chakari of Alexandria, Virginia, with second-degree sexual abuse.

On July 20, police went to the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW where a 25-year-old woman reported that an Uber driver sexually assaulted her. She had several drinks at a nightclub while celebrating her birthday and passed out in the car, News4's Darcy Spencer reported. According to the police report, the woman said Chakari touched her while she was sleeping in the car.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh said she wants to make sure these drivers are not preying on women. While Uber is required to perform background checks on drivers, that may not be enough, Cheh said. She said installing panic buttons in cars could help.

"Rider safety is Uber's #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care," said Taylor Bennett, spokesperson for Uber Technologies. "It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation.”

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for more on this developing story.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA['Kill Switch' to Prevent Phone Theft ]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 08:31:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/smart_phone.jpg

The next smartphones could be fully equipped, even with theft protection.

Google and Microsoft agreed to add a "kill switch" to the next versions of their phones. It will allow the owner to completely disable the device in case it is stolen or lost.

The feature already exists on the iPhone, and Apple found thefts dropped with the feature installed.

Google is expected to show off the next version of the Android smartphone next week.
 

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<![CDATA[Facebook Takes 40 Minutes a Day ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:57:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/177*120/113888441-the-facebook-website-is-displayed-on-a-gettyimages.jpg

How much time is spent checking Facebook? According to the social media giant, the average American now spends 40 minutes a day checking their Facebook feed.

While that pales in comparison to four hours of television, it is more than what is spent caring for pets, reading or responding to personal emails.

Facebook says it has 128 million daily average users in the U.S.

That's about 40 percent of the country's population.

 
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Amazon's First Smart Phone]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:32:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Amazon+Fire+072314.jpg

Amazon is getting ready to release its first smart phone, the Fire. Consumer Reports has started checking out the phone in its labs. Its cell phone team is excited about some of the phone's features, like dynamic perspective. It gives the phone a 3D look. They're also intrigued by Firefly, which helps you identify objects in front of you by scanning them. It can even identify music and movies by listening to them.

So how well do the features work? Firefly sometimes had trouble identifying movies, songs and objects in front of it. And the hands-free gesture feature is a bit clunky. It didn't always work.

Another feature of the Fire is called Mayday, which is free video tech support with live people. They can access your phone and fix problems or change settings while you watch.

So, is all this new technology worth switching over? Consumer Reports take so far: this is a really fun phone with a lot of unique features. But some people won't like the fact that it can't run popular Google apps like YouTube or Gmail.

As soon as the phone is available at retail, Consumer Reports will begin its in-depth testing for sound and camera quality and battery life.


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[Back-to-School Spending Expected to Increase ]]> Sat, 19 Jul 2014 10:44:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-school-supplies-01.jpg

Thousands of North Texas children might already be thinking about the upcoming school year, and parents could be in for a rude awakening this back-to-school season.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $8.4 billion this year.

Each family, on average, will spend more than $200 on electronics alone. In total, they'll spend nearly $670.

The number gets much higher for college students.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Considers E-Book Rental Service]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:43:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/172*120/black-kindle-sharing-thumb-550xauto-49856.jpg

Book rentals might soon be available through Amazon.

The company is testing an e-book rental service called "Kindle Unlimited".

It runs similar to the Netflix model for online movies and shows.

The service gives subscribers access to more than 600,000 titles on any device, and it would cost $10 per month.

Publishers are worried book subscriptions will push many of their customers to a library-style model, hurting their sales.

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<![CDATA[Phone Chargers and Adapters Recalled]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:41:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/recall33.jpg

Two recalls have been issued for chargers that can overheat phones, causing a burn hazard, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The first recall warns about Gemini adapters and chargers that were given away at trade shows between October and April.

The company has received one report of a consumer who was burned on their hand, according to the CPSC. All chargers of this brand should be thrown out. About 31,000 chargers are affected.

The second recalls warns about Lifeguard Press charging kits. Seven models of charging kits with universal serial bus (USB) connectors that are used to recharge Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod devices are affected by the recall, according to CPSC.

They were sold under the brands Ban.do, Jonathan Adler, and Lilly Pulitzer between February and June.

Lifeguard Press has received six reports of the wall chargers emitting smoke and sparking and six reports of prongs detaching from the plug, according to CPSC. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers may contact the company for a refund. About 25,400 are included in the recall.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Kardashian Game Propels App Company]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:26:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/KK11.jpg

Kim Kardashian is money.

Glu Mobile knows.

The app-maker is the publisher of "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood," a free-to-play game downloadable from Apple's App Store. And Glu Mobile is also enjoying a wave of success after its stock shares jumped 42 percent in recent months thanks to the Kim game, Bloomberg News reported.

San Francisco-based Glu Mobile officials say they're not surprised that Kim's celebrity power could compel hordes of downloads and plenty of in-game purchases, the trick that makes free-to-download games lucrative.

In the game, users try to negotiate their own celebrity landscapes, using advice from Kardashian herself to rise from the "so-called E-list" to the "A-list," the website reported.

Revenue from the game could hit $200 million, an analyst told the website.



Photo Credit: GC Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber: What to Know About Car Service App]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:42:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Summoning a driver at a push of a smartphone button is a lot easier than trying to hail a cab during rush hour, which may explain why Uber, a car service app that connects passengers and car services within minutes, has become so popular.

The San Francisco-based startup, which launched in 2010, is the biggest of the car-hailing apps (others include Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz), operating in 120 cities and 37 countries. Uber relies on a surge-pricing model, which means the fares increase during high-demand periods. The company has come under fire from traditional taxi drivers who say the service is not fair and might even be illegal. This battle between upstart and establishment is likely to continue, and may benefit riders from a cost perspective.

Meantime, here’s what you need to know about Uber:

  • How Does Uber Work?

A customer requests a car using a smartphone app and Uber sends its closest driver to their location, using the phone’s GPS. The fare is charged directly to your credit card. Uber provides five types of services: UberX, the cheapest option which allows for the hiring of livery car drivers with a smartphone; Uber Taxi, which lets you e-hail a yellow cab; Uber Black, a private hire car; Uber SUV, the car seats up to six people and Uber Lux, which features the priciest cars.

  • Who Drives Uber Cars?

UberX drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and they use their own cars. They also use their personal auto insurance policy while driving for Uber and they are not required to get commercial liability insurance. According to the company website, all ride-sharing and livery drivers are thoroughly screened and the company conducts ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time with Uber.

The review process may be flawed.  A three-month investigation by NBC4's I-Team found that convicted felons passed Uber background checks across the country. And in an undercover investigation, NBC Chicago hired several UberX drivers and ran their own background checks on them and found numerous tickets for speeding, illegal stops and running lights.

  • Is Uber Safe?

States are warning riders who hail an Uber or another ride-sharing cab that they may not be covered by insurance if the driver gets in an accident. But Uber and other ride-sharing companies say that is not the case.

"There's no insurance gap at all on any trip on the Uber system," Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian told NBC News. She said the company's $1 million policy provides sufficient coverage in case a driver's personal insurance fails to do that.

There are other safery concerns as well. A 32-year-old Uber driver in Los Angeles was arrested in June on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and taking her to a motel room, police said.

And a California couples told NBC4 an Uber driver stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo.

  • How Much Is Uber Worth?

Uber was valued in June at $18.2 billion, less than a year after being valued at $3.5 billion. The valuation was the highest-ever for a venture-backed start-up and experts say Uber is positioned to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

  • Uber Capping Fares in Emergencies

Uber announced Monday that it will cap fares during emergencies and disasters in all U.S. cities. The company said prices may still rise higher than usual during an emergency, but the increase will be limited. The price will always stay below that of the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding 2 months, according to Uber's website.

The company was accused of price gouging when it applied surge pricing after Hurricane Sandy, in some cases doubling the normal fares.

  • Uber Slashing Fares in Some Cities

Uber also said Monday that it was temporarily cutting UberX rates by 20 percent in New York City, making its service cheaper than taking a yellow taxi.

An UberX ride from New York’s City’s Grand Central Terminal to the Financial District will now cost about $22, down from about $28. The same ride in a city cab will cost about $24, according to Uber’s blog.

Uber has also reduced fares in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

  • Uber Banned in Some Cities

While taxi operators often shell out more than $1 million for a medallion to operate in some cities, Uber drivers don’t. At least six cities (Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Miami) as well as the state of Virginia have banned ride-sharing companies. Another seven cities and three states (California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) are trying to regulate them.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[iPhone Travels the World]]> Sat, 05 Jul 2014 08:54:33 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/160015060.jpg

What happened to one man's phone might just prove that cell phones are built to last these days.

Oklahoma farmer, Kevin Whitney never thought he would see his iPhone again when he dropped it into a bin filled with 280,000 pounds of grain.

In nine months, the phone traveled to another grain facility in Oklahoma. Then, it sailed along the Arkansas River, down the Mississippi and to Louisiana.

The phone ended up in Japan. That's when Whitney received a phone call.

Looking for Whitney, the man asked, "Did you lose a cell phone?"

"Yeah I lost a cell phone last fall," responded Whitney.

A worker at a grain mill in Japan found it and mailed it back to Whitney.

Whitney wants to find a way to thank him.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[30 Md. Cab Companies Suing Uber]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:40:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Uber-Council-102313.jpg

More than 30 Maryland cab companies are suing Uber, saying the company is hampering their ability to do business.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, reported the Baltimore Sun. The lawsuit claims Uber's surge-pricing model is similar to price fixing, and the car service is creating an unfair marketplace.

Taxi companies have begun to fight Uber, a popular ride-sharing company that uses an app to summon rides. In D.C., taxis affiliated with the D.C. Taxi Operators Association closed down Pennsylvania Avenue last month in a protest against Uber that gridlocked traffic.

Virginia has barred Uber from operating in the state, and in San Francisco, the head of one of the oldest cab companies in the city has said that traditional taxis may not survive 18 months in the face of competition from Uber.

Maryland has become a new battlefront for the dispute, with cab companies lobbying against proposals to regulate Uber differently than cab companies.

The cab companies claim that services like Uber aren't regulated the same way that taxis are. Uber has countered that the ride-sharing model isn't a taxi service, and pointed to the consumer demand for the product.

Two of the companies that sued in Maryland -- Barwood Tax and Sun Cab -- are based in Montgomery County.

An Uber spokesperson says it's too early to comment on this lawsuit, but the company will defend itself if it has to.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Google+ to Host Free Summer Camp for Kids ]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:28:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/education+stock+school+kid+student+happy+tablet+classroom.jpg

School may be out but Google and Maker Media are encouraging kids to engage in summer learning through a free, online summer camp.

Research spanning 100 years reveals that kids experience learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer.
 
Beginning July 7, Google and Maker Media (of Maker Faire) are launching the 3rd edition of Maker Camp for kids 13 years and older, hosted on Google+.

Instead of simply reading a textbook or working through math problems, kids can learn through virtual interactives.

Throughout the six weeks, kids can pick and choose themed projects, and build things like soda bottle rockets. The camp will also include webcasted field trips with the likes of Lego, Google’s self-driving car and Blue Man Group.

To join, teens simply need to create a Google+ profile and follow MAKE on G+

For kids who cannot access the Internet or want to get engaged with other kids in their community, 500 libraries, schools and museums across the country are hosting camps.

A few of the hosting camps will be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Locations include the Boys and Girls Club of Hood County, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and Red Oak Makerspace.

For a full list of hosting camps visit www.makercamp.com.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Vetta]]>
<![CDATA[Is Oakland the New Silicon Valley?]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:35:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/219*120/jacklondonsquare.jpg

Tech companies are now branching out into the East Bay, favoring Oakland after being priced out of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Erik Collier serves as one of the general managers of Ask.com, a search engine company that moved into Oakland's City Center from Emeryville in 2004.

"We knew it was cool before it was cool," Collier said. "We were looking for more space. Oakland seemed to be a great spot, a central location to transportation."

Other startups and tech companies moving into Oakland point to the cheaper costs of doing business, especially compared to San Francisco or on the Peninsula.

The average price for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,500. Oakland's average rent is about $2,000 a month for an apartment.

"All the young techies want to be in the East Bay," Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said. "It is so hot. They don't want the sterile environment of those isolated campuses of the old tech."

McElhaney considers old-tech powerhouse companies to be the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, all of which helped make Silicon Valley famous, simultaneously driving up rents south of the City in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, neither of which have much in the way of rent control.

She is touting Oakland as the next big thing for the tech industry.

"At this point, Silicon Valley is old money," McElhaney said.

The Sears and Roebuck building in Oakland will soon become part of  the city's renaissance. The building has been sold and the new owner plans to turn the building into retail and office space for more start-up companies.

Oakland restaurateur Irfan Joffrey, owner of Camber, said the upswing seems to be gaining momentum.

"A lot of new businesses are moving in," he said, "just because other businesses are coming into town so they can benefit from the economy."

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<![CDATA[No-Contract Cell Service]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:26:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cell+phone7.jpg

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile now all offer cell-phone service without a two-year service contract. It may sound like a good deal.

With no-contract deals you usually get lower monthly charges, but the plans can charge hefty prices for the phones themselves. Consumer Reports compared 78 cell-phone plans from 12 different carriers. It analyzed plans for three types of people: an average, single-user; a low-use couple; and a high-use family of four.

In all cases, Verizon proved more expensive without a contract than with one. For the family of four, the contract-free “Edge” plan costs more than $7,200 for two years of service and four new iPhones. With a two-year contract, that same family would pay $6,540.

With AT&T, the family of four would actually save by choosing the no-contract service arrangement. With a contract it’s $6784, without a contract its $6184.

T-Mobile’s no-contract deal is even better for the family of four, at $5,600. And they’ll save even more if they bring their own phones: The price goes down to $3,364. Your phone has to be compatible with the new network, and you’ll need to switch out the phone’s SIM card for a new one, but that can cost little or nothing.

As for the low-use couple and individual user, Consumer Reports says Consumer Cellular’s no-contract service with installment payments for the phones is the best deal.

Consumer Reports says for individuals, other deals worth checking are Net10’s and Straight Talk’s no-contract plans. However, be aware that if you don’t bring your own phone, you’ll have to pay full price for the phone up front.

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



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[No Contract Cell Phone Service: Consumer Reports]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:26:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cell+phone7.jpg Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile now all offer cell-phone service without a two-year service contract. It may sound like a good deal. With no-contract deals you usually get lower monthly charges, but the plans can charge hefty prices for the phones themselves. Consumer Reports compared 78 cell-phone plans from 12 different carriers. It analyzed plans for three types of people: an average, single-user; a low-use couple; and a high-use family of four

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Protecting Electronics on Vacation]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:26:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/electronics+vacay.jpg

Vacation coming up? Chances are you’ll be packing a lot of electronics like smart phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, GPS devices, cameras, iPod and speakers.

They practically need their own suitcase! But if you are thinking of checking them as baggage think again.

Nearly 10 percent of people in a Consumer Reports’ survey reported damage to a laptop, tablet, or digital camera that was in a checked bag.

Consumer Reports recommends carrying on your electronics instead and if possible use a padded bag. If you must check your devices, wrap them in soft clothing.

Also about 10 percent of survey respondents said their device got wet on vacation and 19 percent said sand or dirt was a problem. It’s so easy to let a device slip from your grip.

If you’re looking for a simple and cheap way to protect your electronics from sea and sand, use a zippered food storage bag. They’re just as effective as pricey waterproof cases. And you can even use your touch screen through them.

Another common complaint from about half of those in the Consumer Reports survey are batteries dying. Conserve power by lowering the screen brightness on your phone or tablet and reduce text and email updates to once every half hour. And if there are no bars, just turn everything off or set to airplane mode. No sense in burning through battery life trying to connect to non-existent service.

The ultimate protection is to leave some electronics at home. In fact, nearly a third in the Consumer Reports survey said they’d prefer their kids didn’t bring along any gadgets on vacation. Keeping kids off electronics is not so easy though. The survey found that half of those parents who preferred a no-electronics policy on vacation caved to placate cranky or bored children.

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[SF Parking App Makers Threatened With Fines, Lawsuit]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:32:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/06-23-2014-parking-app.jpg

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think they can solve San Francisco’s parking woes – and make some cash at the same time – are busy launching new apps that match drivers in need with much-coveted parking spots in the city.

But these tech companies could fold just as quickly as they started – or face possible fines or lawsuits – if they choose to go through with their business plans. 

On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking, claiming the app is illegal because it attempts to lease public, on-street parking spots.

Herrera also sent a similar letter to Apple, asking the Cupertino-based giant to remove the app from its store. Herrera also vowed to send out two more letters to ParkModo and Sweetch, companies with similar business models that charge consumers money to find empty spaces in parking-starved San Francisco.

Herrera’s letter said the companies will face a $2,500 fine, and a lawsuit, if they don’t stop operations by July 11. And his letter brought up issues of safety, logistics and equity regarding the controversial apps in a city where parking is in short supply.

In an email, MoneyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said he wasn't allowed to say too much because he hadn't yet time to consult with his lawyers. But in general, he said, he believes his company is "providing value to people," where users can "make $10 every time you leave a parking spot" by holding that spot until the next person comes. He said he feels his service should "regulated and not banned."

But, in an interview on Monday, Sweetch founders insisted that they’re not selling public spaces, they’re selling information. And the founders – French students who developed the app while taking an entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley – vigorously defended their business model.

In fact, Sweetch Co-Founder Hamza Ouazzani said his company attorneys told his San Francisco-based team that the app is “perfectly legal.” He explained that Sweetch’s goal mirrors Uber and Lyft, which also attempt to match people through the “sharing economy." Those two companies have been visible players in the ongoing conflict between tech ventures and public entities.

The Sweetch app, which charges users $5 to park, and pays users $4 to sell their spot to someone new, aims to make parking smarter, Ouazzani said, by providing a lower cost option for people who want to decrease the time they spend hunting for a place to park.

Ouazzani said while he’s not worried about Herrera’s threats, his team is now in consultation with attorneys to decide what the next move is for Sweetch.

The next move, at least on the city attorney’s behalf, will be to start fining, or suing, the companies who don’t heed his warnings. Herrera’s office noted, however, that Sweetch’s app, with its set-price model, does not appear to be as egregious as the other two apps, which encourage online bidding wars over parking spots.

City attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office isn't buying the app makers' logic. He said companies that claim to be selling “parking information," as opposed to the spot itself, are giving consumers a line that is “patently false.”

Companies like these are “holding on-street parking hostage,” Dorsey said in a phone interview. He added that San Francisco police code clearly bans the buying and selling of public spots to drivers. “It’s like selling off Muni seats,” he said.

Plus, Dorsey is skeptical that the information the companies are selling is even useful.

 “In the Mission District,” he said, “That information isn’t going to be good for very long.”

Herrera’s office is also arguing that drivers using these apps will make the roads more unsafe.

“Presumably, you’re still on your iPhone while you’re driving,” Dorsey said.

And, on a social justice level, Dorsey said the city attorney is concerned that the apps might "fly in the face of San Francisco values," making parking even more difficult for those without parking app access.

“It’s not fair that people with the ability to pay have a better chance to find parking in San Francisco than you or I might,” he said. “It’s already a city with affordability problems.”



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sweetch]]>
<![CDATA[Daughter's Letter Gets Dad Week Off of Work at Google]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:15:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_07_google_car.jpg

A little girl's summer wish came true, thanks to a letter she wrote to Google.

Katie wanted her dad, who works at Google, to spend more time with her, so she wrote the Mountain View company a letter asking for him to have Wednesday off. 

"Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off," she wrote in the letter, which is going viral on Twitter.

"P.S. It is daddy's birthday. P.P.S. It is summer, you know," she added.

The letter worked, according to "The Today Show," as Google responded with a letter thanking Katie for the note and giving her dad the first week of July off as vacation time.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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<![CDATA[Google Doodle Takes on Office Workers Sneaking Peeks at World Cup ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:36:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/worldcupgoogledoodle.jpg

Google outted office workers around the world with a doodle that features the iconic "Google" letters sitting around a conference table watching a World Cup game.

The animated letters are seen switching from the game to a graph presentation when a stern looking letter "B" walks by with a clipboard in hand. Once the B-is-for-Boss is gone, the PowerPoint presentation switches back to what appears to be an exciting match as the Google letters cheer and fist pump.

Users who click on the Doodle were taken to coverage of Monday's Netherlands vs. Chile match.

Researchers have yet to calculate the estimated loss of work productivity during the 2014 World Cup, but the U.S. economy in 2010 took a $121.7 million hit due to the 21 million soccer-loving Americans who watched for 10 work minutes a day during the South Africa games, according to NBC News.

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<![CDATA[Facebook Down for the Second Time This Week]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:03:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP120112075763.jpg

Facebook appeared to be experiencing an outage on Friday afternoon. Users attempting to log on would see either a blank screen or an error message.

This is the second time this week the popular social networking site went off the grid. Facebook suffered its longest and biggest outage in the middle of the night on Thursday as millions of users around the world found themselves unable to access their accounts for about half an hour starting at 4 a.m. ET.

The latest service disruption started at about 1:13 p.m. ET, according to downrightnow.com, a website that monitors web services. Facebook was back up by 6:00 PM ET.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Getting Passwords Under Control]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:17:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/password1.jpg

Cyber thieves are always looking for a new scam to steal your personal data. One of the best ways to protect yourself online is using strong passwords. But who can remember all of those passwords?

One solution is using a password manager. Consumer Reports tested one called LastPass that keeps all of your passwords in one place and says it’s a good option. LastPass saves your login ID and password for websites you’ve told it to. And the next time you go to that website, it fills it in for you.

LastPass stores your personal information in its secure online vault, and any communications between that vault and your computer are encrypted so that it makes it effectively unreadable, even to a hacker.

You can download the service free for use on your computer, or if you want the $12 per year premium service, you’ll get access to LastPass on all of your mobile devices.

But some people are too afraid to put their passwords in the hands of someone else.
So another option is to create easy-to-remember, hard-to-crack passwords yourself.

A more secure password has at least nine characters and has a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You can use a core password that’s easy to remember, then put characters ahead of it and after it to vary it for different websites. So, for example, your core could be B@seball9, then for Amazon your password could be B@seball9AZ and for Facebook your password could be B@seball9FB.


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[Target Fixes Glitch That Caused Delays at Checkout]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:29:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/target9.JPG

Target says it has fixed a glitch that caused delays at checkout stands at some of its U.S. stores Sunday.

The company said it identified the source, and that it was not a security-related issue.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone inconvenienced by this issue,” said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

One customer told NBC4 on Twitter that a Target store in Tustin was unable to process debit cards. The store handed out coupons for $10 off to customers, she said.

Last December, Target announced it was the victim of a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas]]> Sat, 14 Jun 2014 09:31:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/fathersdaytools.jpg

A recent "Fat Wallet" survey reveals what gift tops this year's Father's Day wish list.

Coming in at number one: power tools, especially the battery-operated, cordless type.

That is closely followed by tech gadgets, but the experts say consumers don't have to spend too much.

"Obviously you're not going to buy him the actual phone or the tablet, but a mobile charger, a bluetooth speaker, a great case," said Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor of RetailMeNot.com.

The survey also found sons will likely spend more money on Dad than daughters will.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>