<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:28:22 -0400 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 21:28:22 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple Pulls 'A Few' Apps Over Security Concerns]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453248114.jpg

Apple said on Thursday that it had removed "a few" applications from its App Store, expressing its concern that the security of some users' personal data could be compromised in certain circumstances.

The company said the apps threatened users' security by installing certificates that can expose data to monitoring by third parties. The company did not specify the precise number of apps at issue.

Among the apps removed was Been Choice, which has attracted attention for its ability to block advertising in apps. 

"We are working closely with these developers to quickly get their apps back on the App Store, while ensuring customer privacy and security is not at risk," an Apple Spokeswoman said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Netflix Raising Price of Standard Streaming Plan to $9.99 a Month]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:44:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Netflix-GettyImages-469717280.jpg

Netflix announced it will be increasing its standard monthly price by $1 to $9.99 a month.

The price hike will only immediately affect new customers while existing customers will continue paying $8.99 a month until October 2016.

"The dollar increase for new members is to help us bring more great content, original and licensed, to the service," Netflix said in a tweet. 

The standard streaming plan allows one account to have two users stream movies and TV shows at the same time and in high definition (HD). 

New accounts in the United States, Canada and Latin America will be affected immediately. 

Customers who use the basic plan, which does not provide for high-definition video playback and can only be used on one screen at a time, will continue to pay $7.99 a month. The price of the premium plan will also remain at $11.99 per month.

Netflix Inc. is charging new subscribers more in anticipation of its programming costs rising from $3 billion this year to $5 billion next year, according to The Associated Press. 

Photo Credit: GettyImages
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<![CDATA[New Crime Fighting Database in Bucks County]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:36:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Bucks-DNA-Database.jpg There is a new crime fighting tool in Bucks County. Police say it’s not only catching criminals, but clearing the innocent. NBC10’s Deanna Durante has more on the first county in the country to join forces with a county wide DNA database.]]> <![CDATA[LinkedIn to Pay Users Up to $1,500 to Settle Suit]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:17:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/linkedin+new.jpg

The networking site LinkedIn announced Friday it will pay some of its users up to $1,500 each to settle a $13 million lawsuit regarding one of the website's services.

The lawsuit targeted LinkedIn's "Add Connections" service that allows members to import contacts from their email accounts and send invitations to those contacts to use LinkedIn, according an email sent from LinkedIn.

If an invitation was not accepted within a certain amount of time, then one or two more emails were sent to the contact to remind them their invitation is pending, according to the email, which contained court-authorized settlement information from the class action suit. The suit claims LinkedIn members did not consent to the reminder emails when they agreed to send the invitations.

LinkedIn has since revised its disclosures to clarify that up to two reminder emails will be sent following the initial invitation. To settle the lawsuit, however, the company agreed to pay $13 million into a fund that can be used, in part, to make payments to LinkedIn members who file approved claims.

Depending on how many people file claims, members can receive up to $1,500 from the fund.

Members who used the "Add Connections" service between Sept. 17, 2011, and Oct. 31, 2014, are eligible to file a claim. An ID to file the claim was sent in an email informing customers about the lawsuit.

Click here to file a claim before Dec. 14, 2015. The final approval hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.

<![CDATA[Cassette Tapes Making a Comeback ]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 06:58:48 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-10-05+at+6.32.41+AM.png

Many music lovers are hitting the rewind button, turning back to analog cassette tapes, NBC News reported.

Demand for cassette tapes has surged, according to National Audio Co. The company produced 10 million tapes in 2014, according to a Bloomberg report.

"We attribute our success, as I say often, to stubbornness and stupidity," said Steve Stepp, the company's president.

Cassettes were overshadowed by compact discs during the 1990s, and sales dipped to 4 percent of all music sales with the onset of digital music files.

<![CDATA[Facebook Hit by Scams, Hoax and Network Outages]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:43:16 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/177*120/facebookpornography.jpg

It's been a rough start to the week for Facebook with two scams, a hoax and network outages hitting the social network. 

At least one of the scams is tied to Facebook's upcoming "empathy button." Two weeks ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the development of what some have called a "dislike" button. 

"People aren't looking for an ability to down vote other people's posts," he said during a question-and-answer meeting on Sept. 15 at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. "What they really want is to be able to express empathy."

But news of the button has spurred an opportunity for scammers to prey on Facebook users for their personal data.

According to Snopes.com a website that has built a reputation for debunking or validating stories of unknown or uncertain origin, a scam was circulated by those inviting users to have "early" access to the button.

In order for them to be "eligible," users had to share the post and click onto a survey. But that link leads to the installation of malware on the user's computer.

Another scam that has surfaced claims that users' privacy is vulnerable. According to PC Magazine, the scam states that Facebook has announced a £5.99 subscription for users to keep the status of their posts on "private." But the scam promises the service would be free if you spread the word.

A familiar hoax has also resurfaced. This one claims to have been reported by "Channel 13 news." The hoax claims the social media giant is making changes to its privacy policies. In response, Facebook users are told to post an elaborate statement on their wall stating that they do not grant Facebook the rights to their posts, pictures and media.

It is at least the third time this particular hoax has gone viral. A similar post moved through Facebook last January, in 2012 and back in 2009, according to Snopes.com. 

"While there may be water on Mars, don't believe everything you read on the internet today," Facebook said in an official response. "Facebook is free and it always will be. And the thing about copying and pasting a legal notice is just a hoax. Stay safe out there Earthlings!"

Meanwhile, the social network has gone down twice this week, on Sept. 24 and 28.

Out of frustration, Internet users migrated to Twitter and prompted the hashtag #facebookdown. Many users posted a screengrab photo of the Facebook website that said, "Sorry, something went wrong."

The service was not operational for about 45 minutes NBCnews.com reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mealworms Could Be Solution to Plastic Waste Disposal: Study]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 23:50:31 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_317924057758.jpg

Researchers believe they may have found a solution to the rising problem of plastic waste, NBC News reported.

A team of engineers from Stanford University have been raising a hundred mealworms from birth on a diet made up of styrofoam. Their research shows that each worm is able to eat about a few dozen milligrams every day, with a type of bacteria in their gut helps that helps them digest the material. The worms are able to convert half the foam to carbon dioxide and leave half behind as non-toxic waste.

It’s an exciting discovery for scientists as global plastic pollution continues to be a problem. The report notes that Americans throw away 2.5 billion plastic foam cups every year, and only 10 percent of all plastics ever get recycled.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Google Expected to Unveil New Phones, Latest Android OS]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 01:06:24 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_768252633260.jpg

Google is expected to unveil two new Nexus smartphones, its new mobile operating system and the next generation of its Chromecast streaming device at an event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Analysts are expecting the company’s new flagship Nexus phones from LG an Huawei. The Nexus 6P, starting at $499.99, is Huawei's first Nexus device.

The Nexus line gives Google a chance to show off the features of its new Android software. Most device makers and carriers customize Android, but Nexus phones run an unchanged version.

It’s an important time for the company, as it will be the first time Sundar Pichai will make a presentation as CEO. Investors will be looking for any signs of change in Google’s business.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Why Your Credit Card Is Going 'Chip-and-PIN']]> Sat, 26 Sep 2015 14:06:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-474239686.jpg

Many Americans have received a new credit or debit card in the mail in with a computer chip on the front. If you're not sure what the chip is all about, you're not alone.

The new chip-embedded cards is part of a nationwide shift to beef up credit-card security, NBC News reported. The new "smart" chip cards use EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa) technology.

The chip generates a unique code every time the card is used, unlike the traditional magnetic-strip cards which retain the same code. If a hacker got a hold of that strip information, they could make a physical copy of the card. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Robot Buys New iPhone]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 14:43:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/IPHONE+robot.jpg

Note to marketers: Show up with a robot on Apple iPhone release day and you’re likely to get media coverage.

That’s what happened on Friday in front of the Apple store in Palo Alto, California, when the new iPhone6 and 6s Plus was set to be released.

Brianna Lempesis  of San Diego was in line waiting to buy one of the new gadgets. Well, sort of.

Her face beamed on a computer screen attached to a BeamPro Sustainable Technologies robot was present - and grabbing the air waves. She was physically in San Diego, and planned to purchase a new phone remotely through a complicated plan that involved paying by credit card in a deal that she already arranged with the store manager. Someone was going to drop the phone in a side pouch of her robotic "body." Then she planned to lock herself (or her robot) in the store and fly up to the Bay Area on Monday to get her hands - her real ones - on her new purchase in the flesh. She was apparently "standing" in line at other stores, like in Toronto, too, thanks to technology.

Lempesis wasn't the only robot-customer to think of the gimmicky idea, either. Lucy Kelly sent her Atomic 212 Robot - which looks like an iPad riding a Segue - showed up in Sydney, Australia to buy a smartphone, Metro and Mashable reported. Kelly is a media executive for Atomic 212, the Telegraph in England reported.

In the case of Lempesis, the company that she worked for has grabbed headlines before, too. In July, President Barack Obama greeted Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project via BeamPro during the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary reception in the Blue Room of the White House via a BeamPro robot.

Robots, and new iPhones, are good for all sorts of things, Lempesis noted.

“I love the magic of technology,” she said.

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<![CDATA[Apple's iPhone 6S & 6S Plus Hits Stores on Friday]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 11:07:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/AP_917275329034.jpg

The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are hitting stores on Friday and people, as well as a robot, around the world are already lining up.

Lucy the robot was among the first to wait in the rain in Sydney, Australia.

"I obviously have my work and other things to attend to and can't spend two days lining up so my boss at work suggested I take one of the robots down and use it to stand in my place," said operator, Lucy Kelly, via an iPad mounted on top of the wheeled robot.

Analysts are expecting 12 to 13 million people will buy the latest versions of the iPhone this weekend. Apple said pre-orders are expected to beat last year’s first weekend - the company sold 10 million iPhone 6’s when it first launched in 2014.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chinese Military Behind Hacking Collective 'Naikon': Report]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 19:31:20 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-486447342+%281%29.jpg

A Chinese military unit is accused of being behind the "Naikon" hacking group, which carried out a cyberspying campaign against countries tussling with the nation for control of the South China Sea as well as international groups including the United Nations, according to a report released Thursday by two cybersecurity firms.

ThreatConnect and Defense Group Inc. said the Chinese hackers sent email attachments with malicious software embedded to the targets of the cyber-espionage program, which they dubbed "Project Camerashy," NBC News reported.

"[It] documents Chinese efforts to gain the upper hand in a geopolitical stand-off by capturing information on regional rivals' negotiating postures, economies and military capabilities," the firms said in a statement. The campaign ran for almost five years, according to the groups' report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Crashes After 360-Video Feature Announcement]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:11:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/2015-09-24_1230.jpg

Facebook appeared to be down briefly midday Thursday for some users; a day after the company announced it was rolling out a 360-degree video feature.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced it was rolling out a new video format on the site's News Feed that would allow users to choose the angle from which they want to watch posted videos. 

The crash also came during Pope Francis' historical visit to the United States. Earlier in the day, the pope was giving a speech to Congress urging lawmakers to embrace migrants and act on climate change.

While it's not clear if the crash had anything to do with the trip, prior to the pontiff's arrival, social media platforms and wireless carriers anticipated activity to rival that of the Super Bowl and are using the big game as a guide for added capacity near pope's stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. 

People turned to Twitter to aired their frustrations about the social networking website, which appeared to be crashing sporadically in the afternoon. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Fake Apple iPhone 6S Already On Sale in China]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 11:50:32 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Fake+iPhone+6S.png

More than 30 stores carrying Apple's iconic white logos in China’s southern boomtown of Shenzhen, peddle pre-orders for the new iPhone 6S.

But the world's second-largest smartphone vendor only has one official store in Shenzhen and five authorized dealers in the area. Most of the stores in the roughly 1 km shopping corridor are unauthorized "fakes" -- although they are also selling genuine Apple products -- and their numbers have mushroomed ahead of Friday’s release of iPhone’s latest iteration.

The rapid increase in copycat Apple stores underscores the popularity of the brand in China, and suggests the U.S. tech giant is on course to shrug off weakening consumer spending in its second biggest market, NBC news reported.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Announces 360-Degree Video Format]]> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:12:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Facebook+360+Video.jpg

Facebook announced Wednesday it is introducing a new video format in the News Feed, allowing users to choose the angle from which they want to watch them.

The new 360 degree feature is currently being rolled out for Facebook on the Web and on Android. iOS users will get it "in the coming months."

"You'll be able to hold up your phone and the 360 video will follow you as you turn, looking around, to experience things from all over the world like never before," Maher Saba, Facebook's engineering director for video said.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook's Instagram Hits 400M Users, Beats Twitter]]> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 12:21:44 -0400 > on April 9, 2012 in New York City.]]> > on April 9, 2012 in New York City.]]> http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-142610766.jpg

Facebook's Instagram has reached 400 million monthly active users, surpassing its rival Twitter by over 80 million monthly active users, NBC News reported.

It took nine months for the photo-and-video sharing app to rack up its latest 100 million users in which celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham and former athlete Caitlyn Jenner joined the service, Instagram said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Among the last 100 million to join, more than half live in Europe and Asia with Brazil, Japan and Indonesia adding the most Instagrammers. The app said 75 percent of its users live outside of the U.S.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Microsoft Rolls Out New Office 2016]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 15:14:33 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-489442316.jpg

Microsoft launches the first new version of Office in three years to focus on improving collaboration while saving users time.

Office 2016 adds features like "co-authoring" in Microsoft Word, which lets multiple users type in a document and see what others are doing in real time. There will also be new chart styles for Excel and "Smart Lookup" function that lets users drop information from the web into a document. 

The new update features are meant to execute real-time collaboration, cloud-based storage, team chat and other team-focused features from competitors like Google Drive, Slack and more.

Photo Credit: Hindustan Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Offers Prime Membership for $67 for 1 Day]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:33:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_93380942358.jpg

Amazon is cutting the price of its $99 annual Prime membership program to $67 on Friday for new members to celebrate its original series "Transparent" winning 5 Emmys at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

The deal will start on Friday at 12:00 a.m. ET. and end at 11:59 p.m. PT., or 2:59 a.m. ET.

"Transparent" debuted in 2014 and stars Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender parent. It won five Emmys on Sunday including two for outstanding lead actor and outstanding director for a comedy series.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Credit Cards Now Come With a Chip]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 07:54:25 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_357621665550.jpg

The new chip cards consumers have received are part of a nationwide shift to offer increased security against fraud and shift liability from card issuers to merchants, who must upgrade to the new technology by Oct. 1, NBC News reported.

Card issuers are trying to make it more difficult to counterfeit cards. As of Oct. 1, card companies and retailers will make the shift to “smart cards."

About 120 million Americans have already received the card. But that number is expected to increase to 600 million by the end of the year, according to website CreditCards.com.

The estimated cost of credit and debit card fraud was $16 billion last year, according to Javelin Research.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[iCar Rumors Swirl; Apple Stays Mute]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 22:04:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP111004191461.jpg

A meeting with government regulators – along with some peculiar hiring decisions – has fueled rumors that Apple might be in the process of building a driverless car, but the company isn’t commenting.

The company is reportedly in the process of building a so-called iCar, following in the experimental footsteps of fellow tech and auto giants Google, Tesla and Uber, according to analysts.

“There’s a lot of speculation that has come from the comments that have been made and the people Apple has hired,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies. “It suggests that Apple is doing something with the automobile.”

The company recently hired renowned mechanics, including former Volkswagen AG engineer Megan McClain, who is an expert in automated driving, and Jamie Carlson, who was previously employed at Tesla as a senior engineer. 

That’s not all: Apple executives reportedly have met with officials from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss regulations on autonomous vehicles.

But, despite all the indications, Apple representatives refused to comment Friday on the possibility of an iCar during NBC Bay Area’s exclusive visit to the new Apple store on the campus of the company’s Cupertino headquarters.

The company’s continued silence has done nothing to dissipate the rumors. The prospect of an iCar – and the career opportunities that come with it – gets people talking.

"If a lot of people buy these things, we could have a lot of jobs,” said Santa Clara University professor Robert Eberhart. "It really depends on how much of a market it becomes.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Montco Shows Off Its Pope Drone]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 21:03:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/207*120/Montgomery+County+Pope+Drone.JPG

A drone will be making sure everyone -- especially first responders -- is safe when Pope Francis is in the Philadelphia region next weekend.

Montgomery County Sheriff Russell Bono unveiled the unmanned aircraft Friday.

“We want to take every precaution that our bomb unit is as safe as possible when conducting their investigations of suspicious and dangerous materials,” said Bono. “The drone is a great tool, which allows the unit to gather preliminary information on a robot inaccessible site or object, before taking the risk to send in a bomb technician.”

The Draganflyer Guardian quad copter weighs only three pounds and can quickly be dispatched if needed during the Pope’s visit to Philly and Montco.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman donated $10,000 for the purchase of the drone, said the sheriff’s department.

“Protecting the public is my top priority, and that includes making sure that our law enforcement officers and all first responders have the best tools available to ensure their personal safety as they undertake very dangerous jobs,” said Ferman. “The benefits to using drone technology in this limited way is that it maximizes the safety of our bomb techs, and enhances their capabilities without any infringement on citizens’ personal privacy.”

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Customers Report New Apple iOS 9 Update is Crashing Devices]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 19:13:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-466437044.jpg

Apple customers are reporting their devices crashed after they uploaded the new iOS 9 operating system, CNBC reported.

Customers are experiencing two distinct issues.One reported problem is that the upgrade would fail after several minutes and people would need to start the process over again. An error message that read "Software Updated Failed" would appear on screens.

Other users, many with older devices, reported their phones seized up on a "swipe to upgrade" page. While the latest upgrade was deemed "friendly" for older devices, it doesn't appear to be the case, according to CNBC. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook 'Safety Check' Used for Chile Quake]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:51:22 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/FB-Chile-Quake-Safety-Checklist-4.jpg

In the aftermath of the 8.3-magnitude earthquake that shook Chile Wednesday night, many Facebook users utilized “Safety Check,” a feature on the social media website used to give updates to friends during a disaster.

Facebook users with friends in the quake-prone nation –including residents of the Chilean capital, Santiago – were prompted to access Safety Check when they logged on. The feature displayed a list of Facebook friends near the disaster, divided into three categories: all friends in area, friends marked safe and friends not marked yet.

As each friend in the impacted area marked themselves “safe,” users connected to them were sent notifications. Friends could also mark others “safe,” in case that person was unable to access the social media website following the earthquake.

The social media website describes the safety feature as a way to “connect with friends and loved ones during a disaster” and adds, “If you're near a natural disaster, you can tell friends if you're safe and check to see if they're safe, too.”

According to this post from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Safety Check first launched in October 2014. Facebook previously used the Safety Check feature in late April 2015 to connect survivors of the deadly Nepal earthquake with their loved ones.

“Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they're safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg said the feature was inspired by the devastating, 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the epicenter of Wednesday’s earthquake was approximately 29 miles west of Illapel, a town of about 35,000 residents approximately 175 miles north of Santiago.

The massive quake forced more than 1 million residents to evacuate. Homes and businesses were damaged and rumbles were felt across the country and in other parts of South America.

At last count Friday morning, 12 people had been killed by the natural disaster. Chilean leaders said the death toll could rise as emergency crews are able to access the areas hardest hit by the earthquake.

In its wake, several coastal towns were flooded from small tsunami waves set off by the quake. Authorities issued a tsunami warning for the Andean nation's entire Pacific coast as residents sought safety on higher ground and inland regions. Those tsunami warnings were lifted Thursday.
Tsunami advisories were also in effect for Hawaii and parts of California following the quake.

The earthquake lasted for three minutes and caused buildings to sway in Santiago. Dozens of aftershocks then continued to jolt the country.

The natural disaster was the strongest tremor since the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in 2010 that killed hundreds and caused heavy damage to the nation.

Santiago resident Carolina Barros Urzua had just gotten home from the Santiago Metro railway when the earthquake struck.

She said the three-minute duration of the earthquake was by far the worst part, and the abrupt shaking felt like it lasted an eternity.

“The sensation was horrible because the movement would not stop,” Barros Urzua told NBC 7 San Diego. “It was horrible. Thank goodness it’s over.”

Barros Urzua said many Santiago residents felt the quake was less intense than the deadly 2010 tremor.

This time around, electricity in the capital did not cut out, she said, though patchy service to landlines, cell phones and the Internet made communicating with loved ones difficult.

Barros Urzua was among the many Facebook users who marked herself “safe” on Safety Check.

Santiago resident Francisca Saavedra told NBC 7 the aftershocks were as frightening as the earthquake because they were very strong and consistent.

“The earthquake wasn’t very loud, but there was so much shaking,” Saavedra explained.

She said the tsunami warnings added to the concern and anxiety felt by many across the city.

Meanwhile, Santiago resident and mother of two Danisa Lonza Robledo also told NBC 7 the quake wasn’t as strong as the 2010 tremor, but very scary nonetheless.

“During the 2010 earthquake it really felt as if everything was going to fall,” Lonza Robledo explained. “This one was strong – but not as strong. Perhaps Chileans are just accustomed to big earthquakes by now.”

Lonza Robledo said she and her family were on the third-story of a residential building when the tremor hit.

"When we realized that it was getting stronger and not stopping, we went downstairs and went outside to the streets. We heard the windows on our building rattling, alarms sounding off and trees swaying violently back and forth. Everything was moving," she described.

Lonza Robledo said she tried to open a gate near her building, but couldn't immediately open it due to the constant motion moving the ground and objects all around her.

After a few minutes, she said the shaking began to subside. Then, she heard the sirens of ambulances rushing throughout her neighborhood.

Soon thereafter, the aftershocks rolled in.

Accustomed to the aftershocks, Lonza Robledo said she and her husband and children slept through most of them Wednesday night.

She said what kept her up and worried was her brother, who was near a community under a tsunami warning. Fortunately, he eventually got in touch with her to report that he was fine.

The earthquake came just two days before Sept. 18 – Chile’s Independence Day – a very significant and widely-celebrated holiday in the country.

Schools and businesses are closed throughout the nation for Sept. 18 each year, and Barros Urzua said many Chileans had traveled to coastal cities to celebrate the long holiday weekend.

“Many of these people planned to set up booths along the coast this weekend during the festivities,” she explained. “All of them were impacted.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred as the result of “thrust faulting on the interface between the Nazca and South America plates in Central Chile.”

The Nazca tectonic plate, which plunges beneath the South American plate and pushes the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes, makes Chile one of the world’s most quake-prone regions.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded on earth happened in Chile: the infamous 9.5-magnitude quake in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

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<![CDATA[10 Qs With Rowan's Virtual 3-D Pope Map Programmer]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:05:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Rowan+Pope+Virtual+Reality+Pope+Map+George+Lecakes.jpg

In a modern office building in South Jersey, a group of college students and staff are working in three-dimensional mapping that is doing everything from studying drone traffic to giving a new perspective on the human body to helping prepare for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia at the end of the month.

Rowan University’s Virtual Reality Center’s $5-million lab features a large wraparound screen that displays information in a 3-D setting that opened just this past summer.

Rowan – which already worked with NASA, NAVSEA, Cooper Ferry Partnerships, Elekta, the Department of Commerce, United Technologies Research Center and others – teamed up with NBC10 to develop an approximate view of what it will look like to be on the Ben Franklin Parkway during the pontiff’s Sept. 27 Mass.

George Lecakes, director of the Rowan Virtual Reality Center, was at the controls (an Xbox controller) as Rowan showed off “Pope Vision” on a curved, room-sized screen (the largest of its kind at any American university) at the Glassboro, New Jersey lab. The 32-year-old revealed how he got to this point in his career, what it takes to virtually map a scenario and how a common Xbox controller is helping his team do it.

How did you create a virtual look at the Pope’s visit?

"What we did was visualize Philadelphia, that was a start, to create all the difference visual assets you see on (the map). The next phase was to actually create different scenarios, different concept pieces, what if questions: What if you were the Pope? What would that look like? So we created a portion of the stage, the Jumbotrons. We then started doing actual math, the square-footage of the area: How many people can you fit in (the ticketed area) comfortably? Or, not so comfortably? So we looked at scenarios where instead of 150,000 people in that space, you could actually cram a million, although that’s just a hair short of riot conditions at that point, but it can be done. We also started amassing information, all the security information that we could find publicly available, placing all the different routes. Making, basically, a visualization that will allow anyone to understand what the Pope’s impact is going to be to the region and how, as maybe a guest of seeing this event, how you can manage in this location."

What Does It take to Make the Pope program happen?

"This program is a canvass but you have to know how to paint on it. And that’s where a vast variety of different skills come in. The people, textures as they’re called, maybe from Photoshop or … 3-D models, assets made in 3-D modeling programs, the program itself you have to know how to code in several different languages.

"So you have to combine multiple fields together to be able to create any of this content. So if you’re a diverse person and you like both the art and the programming and mixing it all together, this would actually be a great field for you."

What is your role at the VR Center?

"My role as director, basically, is to assist and manage projects – this being one of them – for students of the university…. We train students through the entire pipeline, as it’s called. Pre-graphics, we can create a design, a concept or an idea we translate that to visuals... We can then reprint them for actual design use for individuals. We are a full pipeline for content.

"We are also a service center so we proved these services to anyone who is interested. We have numerous sponsors from government, private, public and so forth – we also have students here who use our service themselves – we also rent out our space for use."

What other projects has the Rowan VR Center worked on?

"We’ve worked with NASA to visualize rocket test engines. We’re working currently with the FAA to visualize unmanned aerial vehicles – drones basically... We’ve worked with Elekta to visualize the human body. We have a program you can run that can take any of your X-ray data, CT and/or MRI and completely recreate you in 3-D – not just portions of you – literally the entire insides of you. We peel it back and see what everything looks like. You use that as a diagnostic tool.

"We do STEM (Science, technology Engineering and Mathematics). We create Monarch butterfly life cycles where kindergartners come in here and see the entire life cycles. We’ve done simulations of flooding for Camden and Vineland where we can actually change from a one-year storm… to a 100-year storm and see the impacts to our region.

"We like to take visualization simulation and apply it to any area that finds use for it. So if you have a problem we would use this to solve it."

Is it awesome playing a video game on this huge screen?

Yes, you can hook them up to the systems. Yes, we’ve had a lot of fun as well. Although, sometimes it’s a double-edged sword because you end up learning how all these things work… you gain an appreciation but also it loses some of the magic.

How did you wind up using an Xbox controller to operate the VR system?

So there’s a number of different controllers we actually use (Xbox, PlayStation, Wii controllers, Nintendo, Logitech). Why do we use this? Why is this here? Because it’s $50, if I break it I can walk down to the local store and buy a new one… But the idea is to make this easy, actually. The real intent behind this is I can hand this to anyone who walks in here and have a pretty good certainty that they would be able to take this controller and start flying around and do what they do naturally when they play games. Granted, they won’t know all the button configurations, but I’ve handed this to second-graders, third-graders and they’ve taken it over… it’s easy, its simple and everybody is familiar with it.

How did you get to your role of director of the Rowan VR Center?

"My path is not one anyone should follow because it’s a lot of happenstance and chance. I happened to make video games with my friends before I came here. I came to Rowan because it’s a smaller college… I was just going to do all the CG, the animation, the Hollywood, movie industry type of thing. There was a virtual reality lab with a single, small screen and I knew a little bit more than everyone else. And basically, you know a little bit more for a lot of years and slowly you just build up your entire skill set."

Do you still take classes as well?

"I just started a PhD program actually. I had labs for about four years while I could finish my masters, now I’m a PhD student. I’ve been here way to long," he said with a smile. "I’ve been here for 14 years."

What would you suggest to someone who wants to code VR?

Go online, to tell you the truth, I have no official training in this area. Everything I’ve learned has been self-motivated through a series of websites that just tons of videos, tutorials and content. But now that I’m here, we also have free internships for anyone here – so any student, any major, can come into the lab and actually work... I teach courses on this now as well. If you want to try it out and can’t get the self-motivation you need, you can (try it out).

So do you stress the open door policy?

We’re not under any one department here at Rowan, we take in everyone – we have marketing interns, we have engineering, computer science interns – it doesn’t matter. If you’re interested in this and want to at least get a feel for this, you can be a volunteer intern.

Before the Pope arrives, George and the VR Center will be loading their virtual papal Mass map online for access for NBC10 users. And, click here for more information on how you can partner (including internships) with the Rowan VR Center in the future.

Photo Credit: NBC10 - Dan Stamm
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<![CDATA[Take a Virtual Tour Around the Philadelphia Museum of Art]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:47:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Pope+Francis+Mass+Ben+Franklin+Parkway+Philadelphia+Art+Museum.JPG Rowan University's Virtual Reality Center teamed up with NBC10 to create a virtual look at the Philadelphia Museum of Art ahead of the Pope's visit.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[A Virtual Look at Philly's Papal Visit]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:25:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000011982930_1200x675_526738499754.jpg Rowan University’s virtual reality center is giving residents an idea of what the city will look like during the papal visit. NBC10’s Cydney Long has the retails.]]> <![CDATA[Facebook Working on a 'Dislike' Button]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:10:24 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/175*120/facebookaugust.jpg

Looks like the Facebook "Dislike" button might finally happen. The company's CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said as much during a Q&A Tuesday.

"I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it," Zuckerberg said, according to Business Insider.

He said the tool wouldn't be for expressing disdain for posts, but it would be used for showing empathy for posts that seem inappropriate to "Like," such as news of natural disasters or loved ones dying.

"Not every moment is a good moment," he said, according to Today.com. He did not give a release date for the new button.

Zuckerberg said that the social network didn't immediately design the button because it didn't want to turn into something like Reddit, with a system of upvoting and downvoting. 

"That isn’t what we’re here to build in the world," Zuckerberg said. He added that the company realized Facebook users didn't necessarily want to downvote each other, they just wanted to have another option to "Liking," according to Business Insider.

Last December, during another Q&A interview at Facebook headquarters, Zuckerberg said that while the social network was mulling over a "dislike" button for users, he thought then that it might not happen.

"Some people have asked for a Dislike button because they want to be able to say 'That thing isn’t good.' And that’s not something that we think is good for the world. So we’re not going to build that," he said in answer to a question why the "dislike" button hasn't emerged.

"I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism about whether posts are good or bad," he continued. "I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community to help people share the important moments in their lives."

At Tuesday's meeting, Zuckerberg also talked about his favorite emoji or sticker on Facebook: the cactus.

Photo Credit: File - Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Back Up on Computers After 54-Min. Outage]]> Mon, 14 Sep 2015 16:41:23 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Twitter-generic1.jpg

Many users couldn't access Twitter on their computers for nearly an hour on Monday, the company said.

The social media site’s desktop version wasn’t working on some computers between 11:22 a.m. and 12:16 p.m. PT (2:22 to 3:16 p.m. ET), though the service continued to work on the Twitter app, according to Twitter.

A Twitter error page that loaded at noon PT on Twitter.com read "Something is technically wrong. Thanks for noticing—we're going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon."

Twitter for mobile and other applications that use the service were unaffected, Twitter said on its outage page.

In a strange twist enabled by the partial outage, some users took to Twitter to comment on Twitter going down.

Photo Credit: File - Getty Images
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