<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.comen-usFri, 29 Apr 2016 06:35:06 -0400Fri, 29 Apr 2016 06:35:06 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bad Apple: Apple Reports 1st Revenue Drop Since '03]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 18:37:25 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/iPhone-GettyImages-519233078.jpg

Apple says quarterly revenue fell for the first time in more than a decade, as iPhone sales fell compared with a year ago. That's putting more pressure on the world's most valuable public company to come up with its next big product.

Apple sold more than 51.2 million iPhones in the first three months of 2016 — while racking up $10.5 billion in quarterly profit. That was more than many analysts expected, but still fewer than the 61 million iPhones sold a year earlier.

The company is battling perceptions that its latest iPhones aren't dramatically different from previous models, as overall smartphone sales are slowing around the world. Apple also sells iPads, Mac computers and other gadgets, but nearly two-thirds of its $50.6 billion in quarterly revenue came from iPhones.

Revenue was down 13 percent from the January-March quarter of 2015. And the company surprised analysts by forecasting another revenue drop of 13 percent or more in the current quarter. The forecast drove Apple's stock price down more than 5 percent in extended trading Tuesday, after closing at $104.35.

Despite the decline, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said in an interview, "we continue to believe the iPhone business is very strong." But he added that Apple is expanding its other businesses. The January-March quarter includes $6 billion in revenue from online services, apps and other software, which was up 20 percent from a year earlier, but just 10 percent of overall revenue. 

Many were hoping the Apple Watch would be the company's next big hit when it went on sale one year ago. Apple hasn't revealed sales figures for the watch, but most analysts estimate the company has sold 12 million or more, producing well over $5 billion in revenue. That's more than twice the number of iPhones sold in the first year after the company introduced its signature smartphone in 2007.

But even as some owners say they're delighted with the Apple Watch, others have voiced disappointment that it doesn't do more. And critics say it hasn't ignited consumer passions, in the way the iPhone became a "must-have" product.

 "They need to come out with that next great product," Angelo Zino, a financial analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence, said in an interview before Apple released its earnings report Thursday. While he's optimistic about the company's future, Zino added, "Apple absolutely needs to start diversifying their revenue base."



Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Snowden Advanced Encryption '7 Years': Spy Chief]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 07:42:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/SNOWDEN_AP_334678657241.jpg

Edward Snowden's revelations about the U.S. government's spying activities spurred advanced encryption technologies by "about seven years," National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Monday during a talk hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Commercially available software has become so sophisticated so rapidly, Clapper added, that it is a "major inhibitor" to the government's ability to collect intelligence on terrorists.

"From our standpoint," Clapper said, "it's not a good thing."

But in interviews with NBC News, digital rights and security experts were puzzled over how intelligence officials arrived at the seven-year figure.

"He's speculating on what would have happened if what happened didn't happen," said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy director of Access Now. "I'm not sure what metric he's using."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Toxic Old TVs Are Ticking Time Bomb for Environment]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:09:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TV_GettyImages-489056935.jpg

The global slump in commodities, marked by low prices of raw materials like lead and copper, is leading to old electronics being dumped and e-recycling companies improperly disposing of them, NBC News reported.

A Kentucky company was caught last year burying old TVs and other electronics devices in a 10-foot-deep hole in a field. These products contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, beryllium and cadmium

"We want to promote recycling the best we can," James Young, executive director of the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority in West Virginia, told NBC News. "But when it becomes such a burden, we can't expect municipalities to foot the bill."

Meanwhile, companies that used to recycle televisions for free, including Best Buy, are now charging customers to haul them away.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Solar Plane to Land in Bay Area]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 17:55:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-522899362.jpg

The pilot of a solar-powered airplane on an around-the-world journey said Saturday that stopping in California's Silicon Valley will help link the daring project to the pioneering spirit of the area.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard, who left Hawaii three days ago, said he hopes to fly over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge before landing in Mountain View on Saturday night.

"Can you imagine crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a solar-powered plane just like ships did in past centuries? But the plane doesn't make noise and doesn't pollute,'' Piccard said a live video feed on the website documenting the journey.

It's a priority to link the project we have with the pioneering spirit in Silicon Valley,'' he added.

The project's website says the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is 2 days and 4 hours into a three-day flight over the Pacific.

The aircraft started its around-the-world journey in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan. It's on the ninth leg of its circumnavigation. 

On Friday, Piccard exchanged pleasantries with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who hailed Piccard's pioneering spirit as "inspirational,'' telling him he was making history.

Piccard responded that Ban, too, was making history by having just presided over the signing of a climate agreement supported by representatives of 175 nations.

"What you are doing today in New York, signing the Paris agreement, is more than protecting the environment, it is the launch of the clean technology revolution,'' Piccard said.

The trans-Pacific leg of his journey is the riskiest part of the solar plane's global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.

After uncertainty about winds, the plane took off from Hawaii on Thursday morning. The crew that helped it take off was clearing out of its Hawaiian hangar and headed for the mainland for the weekend arrival.

At one point passengers on a Hawaiian Air jet caught a glimpse of the Solar Impulse 2 before the airliner sped past the slow-moving aircraft.

The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Hawaii in July and was forced to stay in the islands after the plane's battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan 

Piccard's co-pilot Andre Borschberg flew the leg from Japan to Hawaii 

The team was delayed in Asia, as well. When first attempting to fly from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii, the crew had to divert to Japan because of unfavorable weather and a damaged wing.

A month later, when weather conditions were right, the plane departed from Nagoya in central Japan for Hawaii.

The plane's ideal flight speed is about 45 kph, or 28 mph, though that can double during the day when the sun's rays are strongest. The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs more than 5,000 pounds, or about as much as a midsize truck.

 The wings of Solar Impulse 2, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Paid More Than $1M for iPhone-Cracking Software]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:24:18 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/JamesComey-AP_1604052000313874.jpg

The FBI paid more than a million dollars for software to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, NBC News reported. 

"A lot, more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure,” FBI Director James Comey said during a security conference in London. 

The FBI director is paid about $180,000 a year. So multiplying that by 7.3 years yields a figure of about $1.3 million. FBI officials were not immediately available to confirm the figure.

Apple and the FBI were supposed to head to court in March, until the government said it found a way to get data off Syed Farook’s iPhone without the company’s help. Comey recently said the FBI “purchased” the technique from an unidentified third party.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Penn Grad Building 'Google of Marijuana' ]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:44:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Chris+Beals+WeedMaps+10Q.jpg

It’s 4/20...the unofficial holiday celebrating the biggest illegal (yet legal) drug known to man: marijuana.

This year’s high holiday is even more timely since Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize the plant for medical use just this week. The Keystone State now joins New Jersey and Delaware who have been in the process of getting their own medical exchanges up and running.

There are an estimated 1.4 million medical marijuana users in the United States, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. And lots of them need help navigating the patchwork of cannabis types and offerings near them.

That's where WeedMaps comes in. The online service is billed as the oldest and largest technology company focused on marijuana. It’s like Yelp for weed -- offering menus for weed dispensaries, video tours and user reviews of products.

Launched in 2008, the site now boasts 4.5 million unique visitors a month and 1 million registered users on its platform. It’s also expanded into sales register systems and software for doctors offices.

Helping drive the company’s expansion as its president and general counsel is Lansdale, Pennsylvania native Chris Beals. The 36-year-old North Penn and University of Pennsylvania grad joined the company eight months ago and already has his sights set on turning it into the 'Google of marijuana.'

We talked to Beals about how technology is being used to help people better find the marijuana they need, why bud names like Sour Diesel and Yoda OG are old-hat, how they’re educating lawmakers on the issue and how lab testing and data is key to the industry’s future.

Our conversation was lightly edited for length and clarity.

NBC10: What’s a marijuana technology company?

CB: The thing most people know about us is the website WeedMaps that’s essentially a site where you can find doctors, dispensaries, delivery services, deals in states where marijuana been legalized.

Later this month, we’re launching brand pages which will enable people to start shopping by specific products which is a newer concept in the marijuana space. As mature people start to gravitate [to marijuana], they don’t want XYZ product, they want the product made by this brand which they know and love.

In addition to that we own Marijuana.com which is a news and information portal. We also have the largest point-of-sale system in Spain and one of the largest point-of-sale systems in the United States. We have a doctor management software suite and we’re working on a whole portfolio of additional software products so it’s not just the web advertising/marketing side.

We’re expanding internationally as well and we’re trying to be the Google or Oracle of marijuana.

NBC10: Why would a person use a site like WeedMaps?

CB: A good analogy is wine. Right now if you go into a liquor store, you expect to see a fairly wide selection of reds, whites, rosés, champagnes and other stuff.

With the way the marijuana market works, especially in states where there’s not a completely open market, you can walk into a store and they don’t have what you’re looking for.

It would be as if you walked into the liquor store and they had no red wine. And on top of that, if there’s only 150 stores in your state, you might have just driven 30 or 40 minutes to get there.

We’re doing integration with point-of-sale systems and allowing the dispensaries to update their menus. In addition, we do integrations with labs so you can see the actual lab testing data for that product, pictures of those products, a video tour of the dispensary so you know what the atmosphere is like, how knowledgeable the budtenders are to tell you about the products they have for sale.

So when you go there you know they have the products you are looking for and that work for you, and separately, that it’s lab tested.

NBC10: Why is lab testing important? Is it just for safety?

CB: We know that dispensaries will change the names on products that come in to something that they know is selling really well. Or if something doesn’t look just the way it should for that strain [of marijuana], they’ll change it to another name so that it matches better. Or they’ll just completely come up with a new name as part of their branding efforts.

There was an origin to the strain names at one time, but we’re getting to a point now where growers will accidentally cross two different strains and wind up with something completely different and why try and go through the brain damage of trying to put a descriptive name on it.

That’s why I think this lab-tested data is important, even getting to the genetics, to help people understand what they’re consuming.

NBC10: Pennsylvania is now the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, but each state’s law is different. Are there things you feel need to change in these states?

CB: I think it’s important to expand the list of medical conditions to more accurately reflect what people use marijuana for. Pennsylvania did a decent job on its list of conditions, but it could go slightly broader.

Separately, people would find it unacceptable if there were 150 CVS’s in a state, I think increasing access to more points of sale, potentially having delivery services for people in hospice care and people who have mobility issues. These are all things that we think are incredibly important before you move to the recreational side.

NBC10: What about recreational use? Will it ever happen nationally? Or will it be a state-by-state issue?

CB: It’s going to be piecemeal. We may see federal legalization of medical marijuana use, but I think the federal government is going to adopt a wait and see stance on this.

We generally do support the move to recreational use, but we’re pretty big advocates of a lot of safety measures. We’re incredibly passionate of advocating for better lab testing, more lab testing, broader lab testing panels to include terpenes (the oils in the cannabis plant that produce particular smells, color and tastes) which impacts what effects you feel when consuming marijuana.

A number of the senior execs at the company have children and we’re big advocates on the recreational side of having a consumption age of 21. Ensuring that advertising isn’t geared toward minors. Things like that.

On the flip side, we don’t want onerous regulations like setting high prices for the drug or only allowing a small number of dispensaries. This can sort of encourage the black market to flourish.

I think it’s in the state’s best interest, it’s in law enforcement’s best interest and ultimately, it’s in WeedMaps and the industry’s best interest for the black market to be extinguished. And I think so far, legislation in some states has been a main reason we haven’t quite gotten there.

NBC10: Do you think your websites are helping change public opinion about marijuana?

CB: I’ve been with the company for under a year and even in that short period of time I’ve seen a large shift in how people view the issue.

On the content side, I think content where people are just consuming marijuana is passé. People want to read stories or hear stories related to the industry or people in it. They don’t necessarily want to see people consuming marijuana because that’s just something that has kind of become normal at this point. It’s not the sort of taboo, curious thing that it once was.

On the political front, we’re very active in trying to reach out to state and local governments to educate them about what we’re seeing that works and doesn’t work. We’re coming at it with somewhat of a neutral viewpoint because we’re never going to own dispensaries and we’re never going to run growing operations. We’re a technology and advertising company to our core.

Even in engaging with those state and local legislators, I’ve seen a shift in the questions that they’re asking. The conversation doesn't start with them being reserved and closed off. They’ll start the conversation with 'I know that intelligent marijuana legislation is the right way forward and I just need help understanding marijuana and understanding that right now is the time I’m going to take a stand on it.'

NBC10: Have you talked to our local lawmakers?

CB: We haven't had a ton of conversations in Pennsylvania. We’re starting to reach out right now.

In Pennsylvania, I think the biggest thing there is to make sure the legislation ensures safety, but on the flip side that it doesn’t produce costs that are so high that it’s not possible to run a profitable business in the state.

In New Jersey, a lot of folks are really interested in how marijuana legalization impacts things like reducing law enforcement costs or alleviating what’s traditionally been the really disparate impacts that marijuana prohibition has had on the incarceration of minorities. Even though the consumption rates are pretty much the same among African-Americans and Caucasian communities, you tend to see the African-American community get arrested at four times the rate.

They’re also trying to get medical up and running when you’ve potentially got Massachusetts going recreational this November.

NBC10: With a new state like Pennsylvania opening up to medical marijuana, what do you usually hear from new users?

CB: In new states, you’ll see people asking about 'What’s concentrate? What’s oil? How do I consume it?'

There’s so many new people who come in and say I’m eating edibles for the first time, there’s a milligram amount on the side of the package, what does that mean for me?

We’re launching a new platform about educating consumers about the products. So explaining what terpenes and cannabinoids are. Why I have to know what they are so that I understand how the marijuana is going to affect me. Will it make me feel full of energy? Will it make me sleepy? Will it relieve my pain?

NBC10: How did your friends and family react when you told them you joined WeedMaps?

CB: My mom specifically was not a big fan of it when I first told her.

I think overall, even now, my family has warmed up to it. I get a ton of questions now from my family asking 'Do you think marijuana would treat this?' or 'Do you think it would work for this?'

I was just at a marijuana conference up at Harvard Medical School and after that I got calls from my mom asking 'What were the studies? What did you hear?' So I don’t think she’s a fan of total recreational consumption, but I think she’s pretty open and I think she’s sort of a proud mom telling a lot of her friends 'Oh my son works for this large marijuana tech company.'

I have a few friends who actually work in law enforcement and I think even they have been sort of pleasantly receptive to this position.

Separately, a lot of my friends now always have questions about the latest things we're doing or what’s the latest state to legalized. For the most part, I think people surprisingly been receptive to it and I think that reflects a lot.

I knew people got the marijuana issue when my mom and grandmother were both asking me questions and were excited about the latest developments at work.

NBC10: How do you see your business growing over the next few years?

CB: Even if legalization stays where it’s at right now, I think there’s still a lot of room to grow.

The big areas of growth are going to be adding on new software products and servicing new states as they come online. Then I also think it’s going to be the development of a much broader data platform and data tools and sort of data analytics.

That’s one niche that we can fill because working on point-of-sale, having the core site and interfacing with consumers online and seeing what their browsing habits are eventually we want to glue that together and sort of provide data that’s useful to businesses.

But separately sort of help guide consumers as they do discovery through brands and learn about new products and that sort of thing.


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<![CDATA[Intel to Cut 12K Jobs, Reducing Workforce by 11 Percent]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 17:09:34 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/184*120/91022387.jpg

Shares of Intel fell nearly 3 percent after the bell Tuesday as it announced it would cut 12,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce, by 2017, due to restructuring, CNBC reports. 

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, also said Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith would leave that role to lead sales.

The change comes as Intel customers are looking beyond PCs for the "next big experience," from cloud computing to personal assistant robots, CEO Brian Krzanich told CNBC at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Fitbit Shows Woman Lied About Sexual Assault]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 14:23:28 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-477622012.jpg

A Pennsylvania woman is now on probation after her fitness tracker's information proved she was awake and walking around at a time she claimed to have been sexually assaulted.

The woman made a false police report saying she was pulled out of bed and sexually assaulted, but her Fitbit showed otherwise, according to NBC's "Today" show.

That evidence "sealed the deal" for prosecutors, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman told "Today."

Law enforcement can use a warrant to obtain information from fitness trackers, many of which include GPS devices.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Theranos CEO 'Devastated' About Blood Test Issues]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 14:55:01 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_241410476392.jpg

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, said she was "devastated" after an inspection found "critical violations" at her California lab, raising questions about an accuracy of the tests. 

The Silicon Valley company, valued at $9 billion, partners with Walgreens to provide quick, in-store blood tests at a fraction of regular prices. In November, a federal inspection by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found the company failed to hire and train qualified staff to work the testing machines, and let unlicensed workers review test results. 

"I feel devastated that we did not catch and fix these issues faster," Holmes said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show Monday.

Holmes said the lab stopped testing and that she is rebuilding the "entire laboratory from scratch," but a letter from regulators in March called her fixes insufficient and threatened to shut down the lab and ban Holmes from the business of blood testing for at least two years.

Holmes said she has hired a new lab director and an expert medical board to prevent any future violations. She is awaiting response from CMS.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Canadian PM Explains Quantum Computing in Viral Video]]> Sun, 17 Apr 2016 07:45:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-519414776.jpg

The internet was abuzz with praise for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday after clips showing him schooling a reporter on quantum computing went viral.

During a press briefing at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, a reporter opened his question by joking "I was was going to ask you about quantum computing" but then went on to ask the Prime Minister about Canada's fight against ISIS.

To everyone's surprise, Trudeau decided to answer both, starting with his detailed definition of quantum computing.

"Very simply, normal computers work by ...," he began before he was interrupted by the crowd's laughter and applause.

"No, no, don't interrupt me, when you walk out of here you will know more — well no, some of you will know far less — about quantum computing."



Photo Credit: ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NJ Father & Son Create Smartphone Protector]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 19:58:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000014824967_1200x675_667182659799.jpg A beach day can take a toll on your cell phone – too much heat, water, and sand. NBC10’s Ted Greenberg shows us an invention created by a father and son entrepreneurial team from Marlton, NJ that will keep your phone safe in any weather.]]> <![CDATA[Uber Gave Gov. Agencies Data on Over 12M Users]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:32:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Uber-Generic.jpg

Uber released its first transparency report detailing the information requested by not only United States law enforcement agencies, but also by regulators, Reuters reports.

The ride-sharing company said in the report, released Tuesday, that between July and December 2015 it provided information on more than 12 million riders and drivers to various U.S. regulators and on 469 users to state and federal law agencies.

The privately held company, valued at more than $60 billion, said the agencies requested information on trips, trip requests, pickup and drop-off areas, fares, vehicles, and drivers.

Uber said it got 415 requests from law enforcement agencies, a majority of which came from state governments, and that it was able to provide data in nearly 85 percent of the cases.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Spokeswoman Takes Swing at Zuckerberg]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:54:31 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Zuckerberg-AP_626349594659.jpg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is drawing criticism from one of Donald Trump’s spokeswomen after he made a subtle reference to her candidate’s positions, NBC News reports.

"Self-righteousness isn't very proactive: We can talk about taxes, we can talk about jobs and even immigration, but that doesn't really put food on the table and save lives," Katrina Pierson said.

Zuckerberg spoke Tuesday from Facebook’s F8 developer conference against those who want to build physical and digital walls. Trump has regularly spoken about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Ted Cruz says building “a wall that works” is part of his immigration plan.

“I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others. For blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade, and in some cases around the world even cutting access to the Internet."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Family Designs Facebook Game for 'Better World']]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:51:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/Facebook+Game+A+Better+World.JPG The Hansell family sits down with NBC10's Vai Sikahema to talk about their Facebook game "A Better World."

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[NY to Combat Distracted Drivers With 'Textalyzer' ]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:35:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-93199880.jpg

Police in New York may soon be equipped with a "Textalyzer," a device that will determine if a driver involved in a crash was texting while driving, CNBC reported.

New York Senator Terrence Murphy and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz have partnered with Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, an awareness organization, to propose legislation that would allow authorities to examine cell phones at the scene of an accident.

The Textalyzer purportedly does not provide police with any content on the phone — conversations, contacts, photos, etc.

The roadside technology is being developed by Cellebrite, the Israeli firm that many believe assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cracking the San Bernardino iPhone at the center of a heated decryption battle with Apple.



Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor/Getty ]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Announces Facebook Chatbot Venture]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 15:51:09 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/211*120/Facebook-generic-1.jpg

Facebook announced Tuesday it will let developers build chatbots – interactive, responsive messaging programs – to communicate directly with people, CNBC reports.

The announcement came at its annual F8 global developer conference, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for the future of the company.

If successful, Facebook could effectively leapfrog the app economy, and create its own thriving digital ecosystem where users can communicate with automated representatives for brands and businesses within Facebook's platforms.

But another high-profile chatbot release was recently ridiculed and quickly pulled from the web. Microsoft released a chatbot on Twitter last month named Tay, but promptly shut her down after she tweeted a flood of racist messages after being prompted by other users.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[NASA's Kepler Probe Powers Down]]> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 04:42:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/KeplerProbe-AP_370480255804.jpg

A NASA space probe fell into a hibernation-like mode last week leaving scientists wondering why, NBC News reports. 

Mission operations engineers discovered that the Kepler spacecraft went into emergency mode on Thursday, according the missions manager Charlie Sobeck. 

Figuring out what happened will be difficult because Kepler is about 75 million miles from Earth.

Kepler found the most Earth-like planet ever spotted — 1,400 light years from Earth. The probe has discovered more than 1,000 confirmed exoplanets and finished its original mission in 2012. Because of its success, it has been kept on duty studying astronomical objects.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Netflix Hikes Prices for Standard HD Service in May]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 17:48:34 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Netflix-GettyImages-464215297.jpg

Netflix will raise the price for members streaming its standard HD service by $2 in May, NBC News reported.

Netflix previously announced that a "substantial number" of U.S. subs will see the price hike. They will have the option to continue at $7.99 for a single-stream, standard definition plan, or keep the HD service for $9.99 a month.

"Given these members have been with us at least two years, we expect only slightly elevated churn," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote in a letter to shareholders in January.

About 17 million Netflix subscribers will be affected by the HD plan price hike, according to an analyst.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Adobe Issues Emergency Flash Player Security Update]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 12:08:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/526453541.jpg

Adobe issued an emergency security update for Flash Player on Thursday after researchers discovered a security flaw that hackers have been exploiting to infect computers with ransomware, Reuters reported.

The software maker urged the more than 1 billion users of Flash on Windows, Mac, Chrome and Linux computers to update the product as quickly as possible. Security researchers said the bug was being leveraged to deliver ransomware in "drive-by" attacks that infect PCs with ransomware when tainted websites are visited.

Ransomware encrypts data, locking up computers, then demands payments that often range from $200 to $600 to unlock each infected PC. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Chief: iPhone Hack Works on 'Narrow Slice of Phones']]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 11:26:09 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/COMEY_GettyImages-509219390.jpg

The tool used to break into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone will only work on a "narrow slice of phones," and almost certainly does not work on the iPhone 5s or 6, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday, according to NBC News.

Speaking at Kenyon College in Ohio, Comey said the government "purchased" a tool, developed by an unidentified third-party, that allowed them to crack the iPhone 5c running iOS 9 used by Syed Farook.

Comey said the government has not decided whether it will tell Apple what the flaw is, leaving the company with a very public hole in its security.

"That's an interesting conversation, because we tell Apple, they're going to fix it, and then we're back where we started from," Comey said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DNC Partners With AT&T, Philly Benefits]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:40:39 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/71515165.jpg

Ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer, a telecom giant is making sure that people cans stay connected.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will join AT&T representatives to announce "communications network improvements" for the convention.

The improvements are part of AT&T being named as the convention's official "communications and technology provider."

City leaders say the upgrades being made for the convention will benefit the region for years to come.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Humans Aroused When Touching Robots: Study]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 07:12:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-562878269.jpg

Researchers at Stanford University studying the physiological impact of human-on-bot contact found that "touching areas perceived as private made the skin more moist," NBC News reported. 

The team of scientists programmed a two-foot-tall robot — part Michelin Man, part Wall-E — to command four female and six male subjects to touch various parts of its body. Study participants wore finger sensors to measure arousal and reaction time.

When asked to touch a neutral, easily accessible part of the body such as the hand, there was no marked response.

However, when instructed to touch the robot's buttocks, participants not only took longer to respond but showed a "measurable increase" in skin conductance, or high emotional arousal. The researchers found that "physiological arousal was inversely related to accessibility" — meaning that touching bottoms came up tops.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra]]>
<![CDATA[Cybercriminals Work Harder, Longer Hours: Study]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:45:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Laptop-GettyImages-585043481.jpg

There are new trends in the world of computer hacking, from longer working hours to an increase in self-promotion, according to a new study, NBC News reported.

The third annual Dell SecureWorks Underground Hacker Markets Report compiles months of data from teams that tracked hackers on various forums across the world. Russian cybercriminals are working 24/7, and many others are advertising themselves as "hardworking" professionals.

Hackers remain focused on identity theft, selling Social Security card scans, driver’s licenses and matching utility bills. Hacking into a corporate gmail account is $500 per mailbox, and only $129 for a private account such as gmail, Hotmail or even Facebook. The market for credit card hacking is still “bustling.” 

The report also offers tips to ward against criminal activity, educating employees on spotting security threats such as phishing emails.  



Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Infrastructure Vulnerable to Hackers With Google, Passwords]]> Sun, 03 Apr 2016 20:17:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Hacker506944962.jpg

Authorities say the country’s dams, stadiums, traffic controls and power grids can be accessed by anyone with simple passwords or no passwords at all, NBC News reported.

New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the 2013 hack of the by an Iranian computer hack was a "frightening new frontier" of cybercrime that's "scary to think about."

Hamid Firoozi, the Iranian hacker charged earlier this month with breaking into the control system of the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, New York, reportedly used a simple, legal search engine that surfs for and identifies unguarded control systems online. New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the 2013 hack was “scary to think about.”

Authorities believe the threat of more attacks is growing exponentially, and have been warning America's private sector to adapt, but businesses have been slow to respond.

About 6.4 billion devices and control systems will be connected to the Internet in 2016, a 30 percent spike over 2015, according to a new report. By 2020, nearly 21 billion will be online.  



Photo Credit: Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[40 Years of Apple: A Look Back at Apple Product Evolution]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 12:19:30 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Apple40.jpg Forty years ago, Apple released a personal computer, the Apple 1, designed and built by Steve Wozniak. Since that day in 1976, Apple products have fundamentally changed the way we communicate and live our daily lives. Here's a look back at the evolution of Apple products across four decades, including the Apple 1, the iPod music player, iPad tablet, Apple Watch, and of course, the now-ubiquitous iPhone.

Photo Credit: Rama, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Turns 40]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 07:07:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TLMD-apple-logo-GettyImages-489883062.jpg

Happy Birthday, Apple!

The company that defined Silicon Valley and pushed into a national spotlight is approaching its 40th birthday on Friday.

To commemorate the milestone, a group of employees got together to reminisce about the ups and downs of the past, and look ahead to the future.

Some who showed up to the shindig were there in Apple’s infancy and in the years following its 1976 founding.

“There was this feeling, even back then, that we were doing something that would change the world, and change how people related to their computers," said Bud Tripple, who joined the company in 1980 to work with the original Mac team. "We had big ideas: 

Greg Joswiak, who joined Apple in 1986, remembered when Mac hit hard times in the mid 1990s.

“There was a short time that we lost sight,” he said. “We were really trying to make macs like PCs." He credits the return of Steve Jobs in 1997 with reinvigorating the spirit of innovation that has fueled the company.

The longtimers also have seen many changes to the company headquarters – especially its neighbors.

As the years passed, the Apple veterans had to get used to sharing its Silicon Valley with new generations of tech giants, from those that lived (and died) during the dot com boom, to today’s growing technology infrastructure in the South Bay.

“It is definitely a big company…but the feeling is so much like a startup,” said Divya Nag, who joined on in 2014. 

And now, with customers hungry for new products, Apple is preparing to move into something only they would have designed.

“Apple approaches everything like a product,” said Joswiak with a smile “This new campus is a product.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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