<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sat, 28 Nov 2015 18:56:40 -0500 Sat, 28 Nov 2015 18:56:40 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Voice for Mass. Teen]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 11:17:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Max+Plansky+112515.jpg

We all have unique voices - with their pitches and their tones, they belong to us.

But for Max Plansky, a Massachusetts teen who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, the voice he uses is not his own.

"I have 'Perfect Pete' on my device because it was the only American male voice on my device," Max said. "I chose it, but there were not many choices."

It's the voice used by many who are non-verbal - and for Max, it's not him.

"I think my voice sounds like my dad's voice," he said.

But Vocal ID, a new technology, is changing that. Founder Rupal Patel has created a way to make a voice just for Max.

"In the case of someone like Max, he never spoke," said Patel. "So it's sort of what he would have sounded like had he been able to control his tongue and lips and so on."

But Max can make a vowel sound - in this case, "ah."

"There are three 'ahs' that he was able to produce in a row for us, which you can hear," said Geoff Meltzner, the director of research and technology for Vocal ID.

"We're taking that sample and mixing it with a matched donor that we find from our database," said Patel. "The matched donor has to be matched in age, in gender, in acoustic quality, and then we bring those two together."

Patel says Max will have his new voice before Christmas of this year - it's a gift both he and father, never thought they'd have.

"It's very emotional. Thank God he can say 'daddy' and some other words," said Michael Plansky. "But for him then to be able to carry on other conversations, and it be in his voice, we just anticipate that we're going to be able to get away from yes-no questions and actually have conversations."

"I do think I will like the way my new voice sounds more," said Max.

Students in Max's hometown are helping out - Danvers High School held a voice drive to contribute to Vocal ID's database.

Students donated about five hours of their weekend to record sentences which will be broken down into sounds to create someone's new voice.

"I love helping people out," said senior Madison Mucci. "Just the thought of changing someone's life is amazing."

Changing someone's life one sentence at a time is a goal that Patel says will be achieved. Her company is growing, and so is the donor database.

This year, Max will be one of the first with a new voice - a trailblazer for what she hopes will, one day, be the norm.

"We wouldn't give a little girl the prosthetic limb of a grown man, so why would we give her the same prosthetic voice? That's exactly what we're doing," said Patel. "There are little girls around the world that are using voices like the Stephen Hawking voice."

So what does she hope for Max?

"I hope he engages more fully in conversations," she said. "I hope he seeks out more communication partners. I hope he seeks out more opportunities to express who he is.

And that's exactly what Max is hoping for, too.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Bezos' Space Company Successfully Lands a Rocket]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:56:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Blue-Orgin1.jpg

Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos’ space transportation company successfully landed a suborbital rocket on Monday after launching it earlier that day.

The New Shepard rocket poked the border where earth’s atmosphere gives way to space, at an altitude of 62 miles. Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, recalled the rocket back to earth where it safely landed at its West Texas launch site.

The reusable rocket is designed to carry six passengers and Monday’s feat is one giant leap for the company’s goal to commission commercial space trips. Bezos told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that he expects that Blue Origin will be involved in commercial space operations within "a couple of years."

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook's Zuckerberg Announces Two Months Paternity Leave]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:16:36 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Priscilla-Chan-Mark-Zuckerberg.jpg

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced that he will take a two-month paternity leave.

"Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," he wrote on his Facebook page on Friday. "At Facebook we offer our US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year."

Zuckerberg revealed in July that he and wife Priscilla Chan, who are expecting a baby girl, previously had three miscarriages.

"In our ultrasound, she even gave me a thumbs up 'like' with her hand," he wrote, "so I'm already convinced she takes after me."

Photo Credit: Facebook/file
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<![CDATA[Woman Named Isis Had FB Account Deactivated]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 18:10:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/isis_2_768540d655e86cf3ed6c65bdb249dc06.nbcnews-ux-600-480.jpg

Facebook said an error in how fake or offensive accounts are reported led to a woman's social media account being suspended.

Her name is Isis.

"Why would you disable my personal account? MY REAL NAME IS ISIS ANCHALEE," she complained Tuesday in a tweet directed at Facebook. Over the next day, she expressed further frustration over the process of getting the account reinstated — though eventually things returned to normal, after she sent over a scan of her passport to prove her identity.

It's not like Isis Anchalee was an unknown on social media. She is the female engineer who started the #ILookLikeAnEngineer viral hashtag campaign earlier this year to challenge bias and sexism in the tech field.

In a statement sent Wednesday to NBC News, Facebook offered an explanation for the account suspension: "This was an error made as part of a fake account reporting process and we're sorry for the trouble it caused."

Photo Credit: Isis Anchalee / Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Enables 'Safety Check' for Paris Attacks]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2015 16:52:26 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/paris-AP_254892328086.jpg

Worried friends and family turned to social media to see if loved ones were caught up in the barrage of attacks in Paris that forced the area into a state of emergency. Others used social networks to show solidarity with France.

Knowing the frantic concern people were feeling for those in the city, Facebook enabled its safety check feature, its CEO said Friday.

Facebook users in Paris can mark themselves as safe, and the app notifies their friends on the site. The feature also allows friends who have made contact with the person to mark him or her as safe.

"My thoughts are with everyone in Paris tonight. Violence like this has no place in any city or country in the world," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Friday announcing the change.

On Saturday, the social network launched a feature that would apply a French flag filter to a user's profile picture, so Facebook users can show solidarity with victim's of the terrorist attack with a red, white and blue profile pic. "We stand together. ‪#‎JeSuisParis‬," Facebook wrote in the post introducing the feature.

The Safety Check feature is typically used during natural disasters like September's Chilean earthquake

At least 129 people died Friday in shootings and explosions at multiple sites throughout Paris, French officials said. Eighty-nine people were killed inside the Bataclan concert hall alone, where Southern California band Eagles of Death Metal was playing a sold-out show.

Americans were among the 352 wounded, the State Department said. French President Francois Hollande vowed a "merciless" response against the perpetrators, as ISIS claimed responsibility.

Eight attackers targeted at least six locations in the French capital, authorities said. Police said they killed one of the terrorists and the others blew themselves up.

Many in Paris posted to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles to spread the word that they were not among those killed or wounded in the devastating attacks.

San Diego resident Caroline Farwell said she let her loved ones know she was OK through the social medium What'sApp.

As she and her friends walked along the Paris streets Friday evening, they heard about the attacks and ran into the lobby of a nearby hotel.

They waited there until it was safe enough for them to return to their rented apartment, she said.

"We're just sitting here trying to get new information. They don't have a TV in the lobby. The Internet is down. They won't let us use an access code," Farwell said. "So we're kind of just waiting for people that we know to call us or tell us or email us that the police reports are to stay inside."

Despite the terrifying experience, Farwell said everyone around her is doing a good job of staying calm.

Around the world, social media has been flooded with offerings of love, support, thoughts and prayers for everyone touched by the violence.

People in the U.S. looking to contact their friends and loved ones in France are also getting some help from Verizon. The company is offering free calling from the U.S. to France for it's customers through the weekend.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Protect That Boarding Pass]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 08:30:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/protect-borading-pass.jpg Millions of Americans will take a flight somewhere this holiday season, and they'll each have boarding passes, either traditional paper ones or ones sent to mobile devices. Security experts warn sharing images of those passes could put you at risk.]]> <![CDATA[Google Self-Driving Car Pulled Over by Police]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:56:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Google+Car+Pulled+Over.JPG

When a Northern California police officer pulled over a slow moving car Thursday, he wasn't greeted by a driver.

That's because he pulled over one of Google's Autonomous Vehicles.

The Google car was going 24 mph in a 35 mph zone, which caused traffic to back up, according to the Mountain View Police blog

The officer asked the vehicle's operators how they were choosing speeds and informed them of the congestion. 

"Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often," the Google Self-Driving Car Project group said on a Google+ post. 

Google's self-driving cars are allowed to operate on roadways with speed limits at 35 mph, according to police. California law requires that autonomous vehicles to have a driver in the vehicle with the ability to immediately take control at all times. The company put out a statement on Thursday to explain its cars do not operate over 25 mph for safety reasons.

"We want (our cars) to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets," the Google Self-Driving Car Project group said.

Google is proud to say that they have never been ticketed to date after 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving. Had the officer decided to issue a citation, Mountain View Police Department spokesman Sgt. Saul Jaeger says the person in the position to be in control of the car would have been ticketed.

Photo Credit: Zandr Milewski
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<![CDATA[FCC Can't Stop Google, Facebook From Tracking Online Usage]]> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 21:33:28 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-109439725.jpg

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it can't force Internet companies like Google, Facebook and ad providers from tracking users online. The commission had been petitioned by the privacy advocacy group Consumer Watchdog to make the "Do Not Track" setting in many browsers illegal to ignore.

Though the FCC enacted strong Net Neutrality rules earlier this year, which also provide consumer protections, it explained in a written decision that enforcing "Do Not Track" falls outside its jurisdiction.

"The Commission has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers," reads the order. Edge providers are companies like Microsoft and Twitter that provide Internet-related services but not actual Internet connections. "We therefore find that the Consumer Watchdog Petition plainly does not warrant consideration by the Commission."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF]]>
<![CDATA['Netflix and Chill' Graffiti at HQ]]> Wed, 04 Nov 2015 18:49:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/194*120/netflixmainOCT.PNG

Someone is taking the "Netflix and chill" thing to the next level.

A passerby snapped this photo of the graffiti spray-painted outside Netflix's headquarters in Los Gatos and sent it to NBC Bay Area.

For the uninitiated, "Netflix and chill" is slang for hooking up. As Fusion explains: "It began as a plain, descriptive phrase ('Can’t wait to leave work so I can watch Netflix and chill!'), and stayed that way for several years before acquiring a loose sexual connotation ('Wanna come over for Netflix and chill? ;)') and, eventually becoming a known code phrase ('He said he loves me, but I know he just wants to Netflix and chill')." (Here's a video of Seth Myers explaining what it means).

The photo generated a lot of excitement on Twitter, but the sign itself was shortlived.

According to Elite Daily, the "And Chill" part was taken down pretty fast. The photo however lives on.

Photo Credit: Contributed Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Activision to Buy 'Candy Crush' Maker for $5.9B]]> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 05:17:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CandyCrush-AP_163106589683.jpg

Video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. said it will buy the maker of the popular “Candy Crush Saga” game, Reuters reported.

Activision will buy King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion to strengthen its games portfolio. It will pay $18 in cash per King share.

King went public last year and has been struggling to boost bookings. It will continue to be led as an independent operating unit.

Video game makers are shifting to digital business platforms as more consumers are playing games on smartphones and tablets.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Offers 20 Weeks of Paid Maternity Leave]]> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 17:51:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_93380942358.jpg

Amazon is now offering new birth mothers who have spent a year with the company up to 20 weeks of maternity leave. The company outlined the new perk in an internal memo, which it shared with NBC News on Monday.

It's the latest salvo in the technology benefits wars, with top companies heaping perks on their workers to prevent poaching and attract top talent. Women have been a focus of these expanded benefits, with companies including Apple and Facebook offering to subsidize egg freezing for their female employees, even as both companies deal with lackluster diversity statistics. 

Amazon's new program introduced on Monday guarantees new mothers four weeks of medical leave before delivery, followed by 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. All new mothers or parents who have worked at the company for at least a year then also qualify for an additional six weeks of paid parental leave.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Study: What Makes Selfies Better]]> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 06:54:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/teaser.jpg

They're everywhere: modern self portraits shrunk down to fit the size of a mobile screen.

Better known as a selfie.

Stanford University Ph.D student Andrej Karpathy wanted to figure out what makes one selfie better than the rest with a visual recognition computer process, so he ran over 2 million photos tagged as selfies through the system.

The system, Convolutional Neural Network, or ConvNets for short, calculated how many people have seen and liked each photo, and Karpathy normalized the results based on the followers each user had.

After creating this rubric, Karpathy entered in another 50,000 new photos and had ConvNets order them from "best" to "worst" according to his algorithm. One key finding was that the style of the image is more important than the raw attractiveness of the person.

Wondering if your selfies pass the test? Karpathy created a Twitter account that rates your selfie for you.

Here are some of his most interesting findings, according to his blog:


Females: Women are consistently ranked higher than men. There were no men on the top 100 "best" photos produced by ConvNets

Face occupies about 1/3 of the frame: The top photos showed faces positioned in the center and occupying about 1/3 of the frame. In many photos, the head was slightly tilted.

Forehead cut-off: At least for women, cutting off the forehead seemed like a popular strategy. Especially with long hair strands running down the shoulders. 

Oversaturate the face: An over-saturated face makes the photo more uniform.

Filters and borders: Black and white photos did very well and most top images contained a filter that decreases the contrast. Horizontal or vertical white borders also made a frequent appearance on the top photos by ConvNet.


Low lighting: Darker photos which appear more grainy were ranked as the least appeal photos. 

Zoomed in face: Such a close up view was a turn off and resulted in some of the worst photos.

Group selfies: While Ellen Degeneres and friends had one of the greatest selfies of all time at the Oscars in 2014, this practice is not commonly viewed as the best selfie practice. Karpathy suggests to "keep it simple and take up all the space yourself," presumably, with your head partially cut off. 

Photo Credit: Andrej Karpathy blog]]>
<![CDATA[Google's Internet Balloons to Take Flight Over Indonesia]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 22:05:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/loongroup_mtv.jpg

Google's Internet-beaming balloons are ready to take off on the next phase of their mission to deliver online access in regions where most people live offline, according to the company's blog.

The company, now known as Alphabet, announced Wednesday it is partnering with three of Indonesia's mobile network operators — Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata — to begin testing Project Loon balloons over Indonesia in 2016.

About 250 million people live on 17,000 islands in that part of Southeast Asia, although only 42 million have Internet access. Google's 2-year-old "Project Loon" program aims to change that by transmitting high-speed Internet signals from clusters of balloons floating about 60,000 feet above the Earth.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA['We're Doing It!': Zuckerberg Vows to End 'Candy Crush' Invites]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 16:11:08 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_117350797265.jpg

Mark Zuckerberg said he would prioritize ending frequent "Candy Crush'" invitations on Facebook.

At a town hall Q&A session at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi on Wednesday, the CEO addressed the issue. 

"See, so this is where these town hall Q&A's are really useful," Zuckerberg responded. "I actually saw this question, it was the top-voted question on my thread. There are some tools that are kind of outdated that allow people to send invitations to people who've never used a game, who have gotten invitations in the past but don't play games on Facebook. We hadn't prioritized shutting that down, we just had other priorities. But if this is the top thing that people care about, we'll prioritize that and do it.

"So we're doing it!" he concluded, to enthusiastic applause.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[IBM to Buy Weather.com, But Not the Weather Channel]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:42:02 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/IMB-generic-GettyImages-109503852.jpg

IBM said Wednesday it is buying The Weather Company's digital properties, including WSI, Weather.com, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. 

The TV segment — The Weather Channel — is not included in the deal, but The Weather Co. will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract, according to a statement by the company.

NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News, along with The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital are joint owners of The Weather Company.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Sues Apple for $5M Over 'Wi-Fi' Feature]]> Sat, 24 Oct 2015 01:15:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AppleLogoIPhone.jpg

Apple is facing a $5 million lawsuit alleging the iPhone's "Wi-Fi Assist" feature caused cellular data overage fees for numerous users, NBC News reported.

Apple Insider was the first to report the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, on behalf of a Florida couple, William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips.

Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches the phone's connection to cellular if the user is on slow or patchy WiFi, ideally ensuring quick and seamless Internet access. The feature can be toggled on or off in the Cellular section of the phone's Settings menu. But because it's on by default, it may silently have eaten up data allowances on phones when the owner thought they were on a WiFi connection, and therefore free to use high-bandwidth apps like Netflix.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status to include anyone who owned a device running iOS 9, whether it was on the phone when they got it or installed as an update. It's not clear just how many people were affected by the issue or how much money iPhone users actually paid in cellphone data overages, but according to the lawsuit, "the overall amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000."

Photo Credit: File--AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google Engineer Lives in Box Truck]]> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 23:44:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/googlemain.jpg

By now, you might have heard about the Google engineer who is saving 90 percent of his income by living in a truck parked inside the company's headquarters.

If not, here’s a refresher.

Twenty-three-year-old Brandon (he has not disclosed his last name) quickly became the talk of the town when word broke this week that he was living in a 16' box truck to avoid paying rent in the Bay Area.

After photos of Brandon's living situation went viral, people began wondering: Does Google know he lives in the parking lot? Does he have friends? Is he insane? Why are there stuffed animals in his truck?

Brandon unwittingly found himself in the limelight – and the target of criticism. So, like many 21st century tech aficionados, he recently turned to his blog to explain himself. 

As it turns out, Brandon is not living in the truck so much as sleeping in it. The only time he's there, he writes, is when he's sleeping or doing laundry.

"If you're living a large portion of your waking hours inside a small box, you're doing it wrong," he writes rationally. He also confirms that he uses Google office perks -- such as gourmet food, 24 hour gyms with showers and a bathroom, and arcade games -- to supplement his truck's scant amenities.

Still, he received a lot of flack from people asking if he had a social life, and if people were weirded out by the whole truck-living thing.

"People seemed really eager to paint me as some sort of goblin who works 16 hours a day and is afraid of sunlight and women, which I probably should have expected," he writes. But apparently that's not the case. He says he has a great social network (a real, live, offline one!) and that "people are far more accepting" of the truck life than anonymous commenters have been.

As for Google, the company hasn't endorsed the idea of living in a truck parked in the company parking lot, but security hasn't kicked Brandon out either, and it doesn't appear that there are plans to. After all, he may live inside a box, but he still thinks outside of one, and that's a trait Google has cultivated for years.

So, for now, the engineer will continue to live on the premises with his stuffed animals.

"I'll admit, as a grown man living in a truck, stuffed animals are about the only decoration that could possibly make my living situation look any creepier," he writes. "The reality is that they were given to me by a friend, and they're one of the few possessions I've attached sentiment to."

He also says he will be glad when his 15 minutes of fame are over, and that he appreciates the tips people have sent in on how to improve his truck.

Photo Credit: File - Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Watch Worn on Apollo 15 Mission Sells for $1.6M]]> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 16:22:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/David+Scott+Watch.jpg

A personal watch that astronaut David Scott wore while walking on the moon in 1971 has sold for a whopping $1.625 million at auction.

The winning bidder for the rare Bulova Chronograph and its moondust-stained strap was a Florida businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, Boston-based RR Auction said Friday.

Scott's timepiece is notable in that it is the only privately owned watch to be worn by an astronaut on the lunar surface. Of the dozen men that have stepped foot on the moon, all sported the standard Omega Speedmasters officially issued by NASA.

Photo Credit: RR Auction]]>
<![CDATA[Fitbit Owners Not at Risk of Malware, Company Says]]> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 19:02:36 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-477622012.jpg

Fitbit is defending itself against claims by a security researcher that its fitness trackers can be hacked wirelessly in 10 seconds.

Earlier this month, Axelle Apvrille from security firm Fortinet claimed to have found a way to hack into a Fitbit through its Bluetooth connection, which could theoretically be used to infect it with malware and distribute that malware to any devices or computers it synced with.

Fitbit disputed those findings calling the reports "false" and noted that Apvrille has confirmed to Fitbit that this was only "a theoretical scenario and is not possible."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Removes 256 Apps That Collected Private Data]]> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:51:01 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AppleLogoIPhone.jpg

Hundreds of applications found on the Apple App Store have been removed for using a software development kit that collected personal information from users and sent it to China, the company said Tuesday.

Apple confirmed that over 200 applications on its digital store were collecting the emails and serial numbers of its users Iphones, Ipads and Ipod Touches and sending that data to a Chinese advertising firm.

"This is a violation of our security and privacy guidelines," Apple said in a statement.

Apple said that the group of apps were using a third-party advertising development kit from Youmi, a Chinese mobile advertising provider, that uses application programming interfaces to gather private information.

Shortly after researchers from Purdue University and SourceDna made the find, the cybersecurity group alerted Apple of the unauthorized process. The two groups traced clusters of application code back to Youmi, according to SourceDna.

"We found 256 apps (est. 1 million downloads) that have one of the versions of Youmi that violates user privacy," SourceDNA wrote in a statement. "Most of the developers are located in China."

The apps altogether have had an estimated 1 million downloads, according to SourceDNA, which compiled a list of affected apps on its website.

Malpractice is not suspected and Apple said that it is working with developers to update versions of their apps that are safe to use and within Apple's guidelines.

This is the third cybersecurity problem Apple has faced in the last month. Last week, another set of apps were banned for their ability to peek into encrypted communications between Apple products and servers. The app store also suffered a major malware attack that forced the tech giant to remove dozens of infected popular apps.

Photo Credit: File--AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Engineers Build Self-Driving, Powersliding DeLorean]]> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 10:57:10 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/15773-car_MARTY_banner-16x9.jpg

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads," claimed Doc Brown in "Back to the Future."

Engineers at Stanford's Revs Program are paying homage to the hit film franchise just in time for "Back to the Future" Day. They've taken a vintage 1981 DeLorean, just like the one in the film, and tricked it out. It doesn't fly, unfortunately, but it does run on electricity and drive itself. 

Perhaps most impressively they've trained the DeLorean, nicknamed MARTY, to use a drifting technique for negotiating those sharp corners.

It's a fitting technological achievement now that we've reached Oct. 21, 2015 – the date Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel forward in time to in "Back to the Future Part II."

The software the car uses to drive itself is similar to those from Google and Tesla. But the Stanford team is focusing more on training autonomous cars to handle "extreme situations."

So while yes, we still needs roads, MARTY is doing its best to tear them up - with doughnuts.

"The sublime awesomeness of riding in a DeLorean that does perfect, smoke-filled doughnuts by itself is a mind-bending experience that helps you appreciate that we really are living in the future," Stanford engineer Jonathan Goh said in a statement.

MARTY - short for Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control (and perhaps not coincidentally also the name of Fox's character in the film series) - was built in collaboration with Renovo Motors, a Silicon Valley-based start-up that specializes in building advanced electric vehicle technology.

Photo Credit: Courtesey David Bush via Stanford News Service
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<![CDATA[U.S. Companies Slow to React to Hackers: Report]]> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 06:00:54 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_31488411400.jpg

Foreign countries are targeting U.S. companies, but few are taking threats seriously, NBC News reported.

A new report from cybersecurity research firms Ponemon Institute and CounterTack shows 75 percent of the IT practitioners surveyed said they aren’t ready, can’t detect or combat cyber attacks. Only half of those surveyed said they are taking precautions to prevent or deter attacks.

"The world has really changed," Larry Ponemon, the Institute's founder, told NBC News. "Companies are doing a good job — but attackers, and not just nation-states, but all attackers, they're becoming more sophisticated, strategic and just nastier. The gap is growing."

Cybersecurity researchers have traced many attacks to China — despite protestations by the country's president, Xi Jinping, that it does not engage in such behavior. North Korea, Iran, Russia and Syria have also been implicated in intrusions, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Finding Steve Jobs' Grave ]]> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 18:40:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP080115083000_0.jpg

The search for where Steve Jobs is buried is heating up.

Jobs is buried in an unmarked grave located at Palo Alto's Alta Mesa Memorial Park, where, according to San Jose Mercury News, people from around the world have looked for him and left notes in a memorial book since his passing in 2011.

He's not alone in anonymity; actress Shirley Temple is also buried in an unmarked grave at Alta Mesa.

According to the publication, Walter Isaacson wrote in his book "Steve Jobs" that the cemetery buried him near one of two apricot orchards that are on the grounds.

In the absence of a public memorial grave, the Internet has come up with imaginary interpretations of what his tombstone could look like, including an iPod with a fatal error.

"Steve Jobs" the biopic opens in theaters Friday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Google, Yahoo Sign Internet Search Deal]]> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 18:48:36 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Yahoo-Headquarters.jpg

Unable to revive Yahoo's revenue growth on her own, CEO Marissa Mayer is hoping for a little help from her old friends at Google. Mayer, a former top Google executive who came to Yahoo in 2012, announced Tuesday the two companies had reached a three-year deal to work together in Internet search and advertising, NBC News reported. 

The pact was unveiled after Yahoo released a disappointing report on its third-quarter performance, with revenue dropping 8 percent from the same time last year to $1 billion. It marked the ninth time in the past 11 quarters that Yahoo's net revenue has declined or remained unchanged from the previous year.

This is Yahoo's second attempt to lean on Google's expertise in Internet search and advertising. Yahoo Inc. tried to team up with Google Inc. in search during 2008 as part of its defense against a takeover attempt by Microsoft Corp. The Google alliance unraveled after the U.S. Justice Department threatened to block the partnership on the grounds that it would thwart competition.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple to Pay $234M in Patent Case]]> Sat, 17 Oct 2015 00:53:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Apple-Customer.jpg

A U.S. jury on Friday ordered Apple Inc. to pay the University of Wisconsin-Madison's patent licensing arm more than $234 million in damages for incorporating its microchip technology into some of the company's iPhones and iPads without permission, NBC News reported.

The amount was less than the $400 million the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) was claiming in damages after the jury on Tuesday said Apple infringed its patent for improving the performance of computer processors.

Apple said it would appeal the verdict, but declined to comment further.

WARF praised the verdict and said it was important to protect the university's inventions from unauthorized use. "This decision is great news," said WARF Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen in a statement.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Briefly Goes Down for Some Users]]> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 08:27:13 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Twitter-Down-Oct-15.jpg

Twitter briefly went down for some desktop and mobile users on Thursday morning.

"Something is technically wrong," a message said on the website. "Thanks for noticing- we're going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon."

It's not clear what caused the brief outage. 

Photo Credit: Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Your Stolen Data Doesn't Cost as Much as You Think: Report]]> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 01:53:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_430705227590.jpg

The price for your stolen data may seem like a lot, but a new report from Intel Security Group’s McAfee Labs says that information doesn’t usually go for much, NBC News reported.

Researchers monitored websites, chat rooms and other places where stolen data are bought and sold. The prices ranged from 55 cents to $1, the report said.

Even though the data may lack a hefty price tag individually, those selling the information usually make up for shortfalls in volume.

"Selling millions of cards for cents still nets huge returns. The idea is to sell a lot of accounts," Raj Samani, CTO of Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Launches On-Demand Delivery Service]]> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 09:33:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UBER+RUSH+VO+-+00000013.jpg

Uber's newest service focuses on delivering goods instead of people.

UberRUSH, a new on-demand delivery option for businesses, launched Wednesday in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. The basic idea is that when Uber drivers aren't delivering people, they can deliver stuff.

"Uber Rush is an on-demand delivery service small businesses can use to reach their customers,” said Uber Rush GM Susan Alban. “The product doesn't have to fit in a little bag, or a box, it can be dry cleaning, clothes on a hangar, a wedding dress, cake, a pizza, flowers from a florist."

Any business in any of the three cities can sign up to have their goods delivered by an Uber driver, but it is not cheap. In San Francisco, the cost for businesses to use UberRUSH is $6 for delivery within one mile and $3 for each additional mile. The service is slightly cheaper in Chicago and New York.

Uber will use its current fleet of drivers, but it will also turn to bike messengers as well.

In August, Uber launched a limited food delivery service called UberEATS serving two San Francisco neighborhoods.

NBC Bay Area's Scott Budman contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Uber
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<![CDATA[Apple Loses Patent Case to University of Wisconsin]]> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 18:46:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AppleLogoIPhone.jpg

Apple Inc. could be facing up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury on Tuesday found the company used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its iPhones and iPads, NBC News reported.

The jury in Madison, Wisconsin, also said the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) patent, which improves processor efficiency, was valid. The trial will now move on to determine how much Apple owes in damages. 

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an emailed statement, WARF told NBC News it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Photo Credit: File--AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Adds New Sections and Suggested Videos]]> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:54:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/FacebookLogo3.jpg

Video on Facebook may be a relatively new feature, but it's already seeing enough engagement that the social network is expanding it into a mini-YouTube.

"We have been testing a number of new features that give people more flexibility when watching videos, whether you're watching a video in News Feed on-the-go or sitting down to enjoy multiple videos back-to-back," wrote VP of product management Will Cathcart in a blog post.

Videos you watch will be followed by options to continue watching related content — like YouTube.

Videos you watch will be followed by options to continue watching related content — like YouTube. You'll be able to save videos to watch later — like YouTube. There will soon be a dedicated video section with videos from friends, brands and pages you follow — like YouTube.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Suspends Deadspin, SBNation Accounts Over Copyright]]> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:42:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-180483176.jpg

Several sports organizations have accused two popular sports publications of violating copyright protections on their Twitter accounts, NBC News reported.

The social media site provided NBC News and CNBC almost two dozen “takedown notices” filed against Deadspin and SBNation by the NFL, the Big 12, the SEC and UFC. The notices accuse Twitter of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by hosting specific tweets by the two publications.

Twitter declined to comment on Monday, NBC News said.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Pulls 'A Few' Apps Over Security Concerns]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:33:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.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]]>