<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:19:54 -0400 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:19:54 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple to Unveil New Products ]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:58:46 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/2014-08-28-apple-invitation-thumbnail.jpg

Apple has made it official: The next gadget event will be September 9th.

The Cupertino company sent out official invitations to the press Thursday morning, with a date (September 9th), time, and place (10am, Cupertino). The invitation also came with a brief message: 'Wish We Could Say More."

The tech press is already saying plenty about the event, speculating that we'll see a new iPhone, a new iPad (both reportedly larger), and maybe even the long-guessed about iWatch. Apple is not saying anything beyond its emailed invitation.

Investors like the drama, though; shares of Apple stock (AAPL), on a tear lately, hit a new all-time high this morning, as the invitations arrived in boxes.

A quick note about the venue: Cupertino's Flint Center is historic in Apple lore. It's the place where Steve Jobs first showed off the Mac computer back in 1984.

Scott will be at the event, with updates on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Apple]]>
<![CDATA[HP Recalls Computer Power Cords for Burn Hazard]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:31:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/20140826+PowerCord.jpg

Hewlett-Packard is recalling almost 5.6 million power cords in the U.S. for notebook computers because they can overheat and catch fire.

Two people have reported they suffered burns and 13 people have experienced minor property damage as a result of the overheating cords, HP said. HP has had 29 reports of the cords heating up or catching fire.

The power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and docking stations. The power cords are black and have an “LS-15” molded mark on the AC adapter end.

Customers should immediately stop using and unplug the recalled power cords and contact Hewlett-Packard to order a free replacement. Consumers can continue to use the computer on battery power.

The recall also covers almost 500,000 cords in Canada.

For more information on the recall, click here.

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<![CDATA[PPA Aims for Pay-by-Cell System Next Summer]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:43:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/PPA+credit+card+parking+meter.JPG

The Philadelphia Parking Authority reissued Monday its call for vendors to submit their versions of a pay-by-cell parking system – extending the deadline for submissions to Sept. 15 and reiterating its goal to roll out the payment method by the end of next summer.

The PPA initially revealed its intention to jump into the 21st century in early July when it posted a request for information (RFI) on a "an effective and efficient Pay by Cell Parking Payment System," according to the authority's website.

The information gathered through the RFI -- a call-out for materials that allow the PPA to identify the various mobile payment systems currently available --  will be used to develop a request for proposal, which is a more formal document used to select a vendor.

The RFI announced Monday clarified what information potential vendors need to present and changed the deadline from July 31 to Sept. 15, according to PPA spokesman Martin O'Rourke.

Despite pushing back the cutoff date, the Authority still aims to have a pay-by-cell system in operation by the end of summer 2015, O'Rourke said.

Features the Authority is interested in -- and drivers likely would welcome as well -- include a secure framework that is compatible with iOS and Android devices, reminders notifying motorists of dwindling time left on their meters and a user-friendly interface.

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<![CDATA[Apple Rolls out iPhone Battery Replacement Program]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:40:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/tlmd_iphone_5_nuevo_12.jpg

If you have an iPhone 5 with a short battery life, you may be eligible for a new, free battery, thanks to Apple’s new iPhone battery replacement program.

Apple released a statement that it has determined a certain number of iPhone 5s purchased between September 2012 and January 2013 “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.”

Go here if you think your phone meets these requirements and find out how to get a new battery.

Apple also said that if you already replaced your iPhone 5 battery, you could be eligible for a refund.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pennsylvania Releases Education App]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:36:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/215*120/Pennsylvania+Learns.JPG Gov. Tom Corbett released a free educational resource available on iTunes called Pennsylvania Learns.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:58:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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[Back to School Tech: Hot Electronic Gear for Students]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:27:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/thumb-tech.jpg

From smart watches to tablet convertibles and a Kindle to download your textbooks, here's what you should know about back to school gear now on the market.

For students going off to college, a laptop computer is a necessity, according to Jordan Crook, a reporter at TechCrunch.

"The best possible computer for a student would be a MacBook Air," Crook said. "It's just the most portable, light-weight thing you can carry around and it's powerful."

However, the latest gear hitting stores this season is an alternative to the everyday laptop — a tablet convertible.

"They call them convertible because they can either be a laptop or a tablet," said Sy Paulson, the general manager of a Manhattan Best Buy.

Tablet convertibles flip to let you "type as comfortably as you would on a traditional laptop."

Paulson recommends the Microsoft Surface, "because it is one of the most powerful and lightweight, and the battery lasts for a very long time."

When it comes to reading for either long-term or nightly assignments, Crook says you can't go wrong with a Kindle Paperwhite.

"It's a great thing for a student to get if you're going be doing a lot of reading. A lot of textbooks can download onto that,"she said. "It'll keep [them] all in one place."

The Kindle Paperwhite is the newest of the Kindle devices and is designed just for reading. The Kindle Fire also allows for using apps and watching TV shows.

For the tech-savvy student who might want to receive social media notifications without pulling out a smartphone in class, Crook recommends the Pebble Steel Smart Watch. The originator of the smart watch trend, Pebble's newest model, the Pebble Steel, beats out competitors with its iOs and Android compatibility, according to Crook.

Another tech-accessory-turned-fashion-statement is a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.

"If you want a home run back to school purchase idea for any student, you're going to go a long way if you pick up a pair of Beats or Bose noise canceling headphones," Paulson said.

But if a student wants their music to fill the room, Paulson recommends portable audio speakers that are battery powered and play through any device with a bluetooth interface.

Good speakers for a student on a study break could include GV Pulse speakers. "As you play it, it lights up, and if you turn the lights off in your dorm room you can make it look like a night club," Paulson explained.

Bluetooth has also allowed printers to go wireless. "You can stick the printer under the bed or in the closet on top of the mini fridge and print from your tablet or your phone or your computer," he said.


 

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<![CDATA[NASA Spacecraft Completes Splashdown Practice]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:08:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/208*120/nasa+orion+test+14820541795_596f828768_k.jpg

A test version of a spacecraft developed to take humans farther into space than ever before is at the Port of Los Angeles after water recovery exercises off the coast of Southern California.

NASA's Orion is designed to transport astronauts into space -- possibly an asteroid or Mars -- and return its crew safely to Earth. That return trip involves a 20,000-mph blast through the atmosphere before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and a rendezvous with a recovery ship.

NASA just completed recovery tests with the U.S. Navy off the coast of San Diego. NASA officials plan to discuss the tests, other details about the spacecraft and deep-space exploration plans Wednesday at the Port of Los Angeles, where the capsule is in the belly of the USS Anchorage.

The spacecraft is in the Port of LA during Navy Days, an event that includes ship tours in San Pedro.

Orion's first flight test is scheduled for later this year. The spacecraft will blast off on top of a powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, allowing scientists to study the spacecraft's re-entry systems, such as parachutes and its heat shield.

The capsule is designed to detach from the central core booster -- part of NASA's new heavy rocket system -- in low-Earth orbit. The upper-stage booster then thrusts the capsule into orbit before lifting the capsule to 3,600 miles -- about 10 times beyond the point any manned spaceship has reached since 1972.



Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Keen]]>
<![CDATA[Protecting Your Smartphone]]> Sun, 03 Aug 2014 10:43:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/iphone-generic.jpg NBC10 speaks to Philly attorney and cyber security expert Leeza Garber on how to protect your smartphone.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RM]]>
<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Double Amputee Still "Got It" After Viral Success]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:51:38 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/new-KAYDEN_KINKLE1_t580.jpg

When 2-year-old Kayden Kinckle took his first steps on prosthetic legs, he didn’t want help.

“I got it, I got it, I got it,” Kayden said with each step. A YouTube video documenting the milestone for the Englewood, New Jersey, kid's family and friends has since been viewed more than 800,000 times. 

His parents say he has always been this confident despite doctors' doubts. 

"If he wants something, he will get it and that could be good sometimes and bad sometimes," Kayden's father, Kevin Kinckle, told NBC. "He's always been a warrior." 

Kayden was diagnosed in utereo with omphalocelea, a birth defect in the abdominal wall that causes an infant’s intestines, liver and some other organs to grow outside the body. Kayden also had a band wrapped around his legs in the womb — causing deformities that required him to have his left leg and right foot amputated in January. One out of 7,000 children are born with opmhalocelea, and nearly half of all babies born with opmhalocelea also have other birth defects, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The numbers of children living without limbs are unclear because of doctor's confidentiality agreements, according to the Amputee Coalition. Nearly 2 million people across the United States have limb loss.

Kayden's mother Nikki Kinckle said doctors had advised her to consider whether to carry her baby to term. She said the suggestion didn't make her angry, because it was a "fact" that her baby would face serious challenges. 

"The nurse asked me if my house was wheelchair-accessible, and that was hard," Nikki said.

The proud parents have received a volley of messages online from people who have been inspired by Kayden's can-do attitude and charisma. NFL athlete Michael Vick shared Kayden’s video with the caption, “Luke 1:37- For with God nothing shall be impossible… 'I got it, I got it' lol.” Vick's post contributed to the video going viral around the Fourth of July. Messages of support have included those from other amputees, cancer patients and people who are paralyzed, his mother said. 

Kayden still uses his walker but insists on independence, his father said. The fiery 2-year-old is antsy to stay off the couch. He crawls "very well" without his prosthetics and loves playing basketball with his parents. Kayden even tries to teach his 9-month-old sister, Cherish, how to crawl. After the surgery in January, Kayden still didn't slow down.

"The day after the surgery, he was shooting baskets with me and his mother," Kevin Kinckle said.

The family continues to raise money on GoFundMe.com, which had $73,839 donations as of July 29. The family's first goal was $50,000 to cover past medical expenses such as the surgery and his first pair of prosthetics. After Kayden's viral video success, the couple pushed the goal to $500,000.

"We were made aware that prosthetics are an ongoing thing for life, physical therapy is once a week. He may need more walkers or crutches as he gets olders and his weight changes," Kevin Kinckle said. "We need to adjust as he grows and as technology grows we want the top-of-the-line stuff for him."

The couple talks about Kayden's future all the time. They feel Kayden has proven that he can do anything.

"He is a face of adversity," Kevin Kinckle said. "Whatever he wants to do, we are confident he can do it, whether it's a lawyer or doctor or athlete." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia



Photo Credit: Nikki and Kevin Kinckle]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Driver Arrested After Assault]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:31:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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[Preparing for Surgery With 3-D Printing]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:20:35 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/bone-3d-printing.jpg

What if your Orthopedic Surgeon could make a copy of your damaged bone and practice your surgery before heading to the operating room? It sounds like science fiction, but it's actually a new trend in medicine. Doctors are now using 3-D printing to create plastic models of their patient's damaged bones and body parts.

Dr. Russell Petrie, an Orthopedic Surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, is using the technique to better prepare for his complex surgical cases.

"Rather than just looking at something on a CT scan, 3-D printing gives us the ability to hold something in our hand and physically practice on an anatomy that is specific to the person," said Petrie.

Petrie doesn't simply study the plastic replica, he practices the surgery on the model prior to operating on the patient. This allows him to create a plan of attack that may improve safety and the results for patients. He says the technique has helped him with difficult shoulder surgeries.

"You mess this up as a surgeon and their shoulder is messed up for life," Petrie said. "For me, (that is) the whole driving factor behind taking the time to go through all of this."

The process begins with a CT scan. It provides the doctor with a three-dimensional image of the damaged bone. That image is then sent to a 3-D printing company where they covert the data into a plastic replica using a high-tech 3-D printing system. In less than a day, the model is delivered to the doctor. He can then study the actual anatomy of his patient and better plan his surgical approach.

"I think it's going to be common place to some extent. It by no means needs to be in every single case but for the complex cases, it's extremely helpful," said Petrie.

No everyone agrees. Some medical experts say printing plastic models does little to improve outcomes or safety. But insurance companies are starting to pay attention and they could eventually cover the cost of having the models produced. If that happens, 3-D printing would become commonplace for many medical specialties.

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<![CDATA[Wearable Cameras Capture Your LIfe]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:38:09 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Life+Logging+Camea.JPG

It’s like watching a re-run of your life.

Today a growing number of people are wearing small digital cameras and capturing every moment of their day. They call it “Life Logging,” using a camera that automatically takes thousands of individual pictures.

The cameras are small and generally hang on a pocket or purse where most people would not even notice. At the end of the day they provide a time-lapse movie with shots of nearly everyone that crosses your path that day.

“As we get more connected, this is just going to seem more normal,” said Scott Peterson with San Diego-based Gap Intelligence.

The photography analyst sees this as a growing trend.

“The public space is the public space,” said Peterson, “and we’re kind of free to do what we’re doing.”

But privacy expert Kim Gough with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is worried about a future where everything is captured on a digital screen.

“It’s a little frightening,” said Gough who worries about how the time lapse pictures will be shared.
“To me this is an invasion that is behind a level that I don’t think we can all quite comprehend,” said Gough.

Unlike a hand-held digital camera or even a GoPro camera, the Life Logging cameras are often ignored by the general public, most people not noticing the one- to two-inch device.

For a week I wore the Blynk camera made by LyfeShot. The black camera is 2 ½ inches long and 1 ½ inches wide with a small flat lens. The camera can be set to take a still image every second.

Since you wear it on your clothes, the camera takes pictures of everyone else and not yourself.

When you are finished, you then download the thousands of pictures onto your computer at the end of the day and watch them as a jittery time lapse video.

Not once did someone ask me what I was wearing on my coat or shirt pocket. I wore it in grocery stores, malls, amusement parks, restaurants and even to the bathroom without a complaint.

However, when I told people about the camera, and that I was taking their picture, they were generally amused but some were not happy.

“I think it can be kind of creepy,” said Ruby Sinuhe.

David Henry agreed, saying “It invades people’s privacy.”

Steve Fifield was resigned to the idea: “I think it’s a little weird, but it’s a free country, right?”

Privacy expert Kim Gough said if those still images were used with some sort of face recognition software, it could open all sorts of potential problems.

“Fun is OK until it’s at the expense of somebody else,” said Gough.

“I think it will become more natural over time, and lot of these privacy concerns we see initially are going to be addressed,” said Scott Peterson.

In many states there are more laws against recording someone’s voice without their permission than taking their picture. However, if the camera is taken into a space that people believe is private, that could be a legal challenge. The law could also be broken if pictures are taken of copy written images from movies or plays.

Bottom line, the Life Logging cameras are not going away. In fact over time they will probably get smaller and smaller with better quality images. The question is how will the images they take be protected, or will it become accepted as a price for going out in public.



Photo Credit: Consumer Bob]]>
<![CDATA[Locals Using App to Monitor Gaza Danger]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 13:30:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Red+Alert+Gaza+Rocket+App.jpg Philadelphians whose family members are living in and around the Gaza Strip are relying on a smartphone app to let them know every time their loved ones may be in danger.]]> <![CDATA[Phone Chargers and Adapters Recalled]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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 15:26:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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 11:42:28 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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[30 Md. Cab Companies Suing Uber]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:40:46 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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[Facebook's Controversial Emotions Study Was Legal]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 11:42:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/social_media_debate_president.jpg

A firestorm erupted across the web over the weekend when news hit that Facebook had secretly conducted a psychological study where it intentionally altered users' News Feeds in order to assess the impact on their emotions.

TIME Magazine's story was headlined with, "Facebook Totally Screwed With a Bunch of People in the Name of Science," while the Huffington Post ran with, "You May Have Been A Lab Rat In A Huge Facebook Experiment."

Looking past the heated debate on Twitter, angry Facebook posts, and strongly worded op-eds and news articles, though, is an important question: Was the Facebook emotions study legal?

Yes.

Upon signing up for Facebook account, you basically waive your rights on how the Menlo Park company can use the data you provide it with.

Buried in Facebook's Terms of Service, under the subsection titled "Information We Receive and How We Use It", are these pertinent details about how your data can be used: "For internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement."

NBC Bay Area spoke with Tal Yarkoni, Ph.D., who's an expert in psychological research at the University of Texas, and he explained that Facebook's study of consumer behavior isn't unusual -- it's something that nearly every major company regularly does.

What's unusual, according to Yarkoni, is that Facebook actually published its research in an academic journal -- the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- and by doing so, it opened itself up to a new set of standards.

In this case, standards related to "informed consent" as defined by the American Psychological Association, which calls for subjects of research to be warned of potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects before voluntarily opting into the study.

However, Yarkoni said that because Facebook collected the data before it was used in the study, and presumably before they thought about printing their research for public consumption, the informed consent standard doesn't really apply.

Or as Yarkoni explained, "There’s no requirement that I get informed consent because the data has already been collected for other purposes. So it would make no sense for Facebook to go back to its users and say, ‘oh by the way, we already have this data, it’s anonymized [and we're going to use it in a study.]'"

In short, the Facebook study was legal, and according to Yarkoni, it was also ethical in how it was carried out.

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<![CDATA[Is Oakland the New Silicon Valley?]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:35:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.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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