<![CDATA[NBC Boston - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcboston.com/news/tech http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC Boston http://www.nbcboston.comen-usSun, 28 May 2017 23:46:10 -0400Sun, 28 May 2017 23:46:10 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How Best Buy Escaped the Retail Apocalypse]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:52:10 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Best+Buy+General+copy.jpg

Shares of Best Buy surged more than 20 percent Thursday after the company posted unexpected sales growth in same store locations.

Best Buy is a retail anomaly because it's an enjoyable place to shop, CNBC reported.

Best Buy has worked with partners like Google and Samsung to establish small sections of the store where each can show off new products. Visit a Samsung area, for example, and you'll find the latest smartphones and tablets, virtual reality headsets and accessories.



Photo Credit: Alexandra Clark/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[New 'Soundwave' Tattoos Can Talk, Play Music]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 09:14:54 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+SOUNDWAVE+TATTOOS+THUMB.jpg

What if tattoos could talk? That's what Nate Siggard, CEO and founder of Skin Motion, is trying to do with his soundwave tattoo app. It works like this: users can upload sounds and voices to the app, creating a waveform of the audio. They can print out these waveforms and have them turned into tattoos. They can point their mobile phone or tablet device at the tattoo and use the app to play back the sound.

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<![CDATA[Program Trains 21st Century Scouts For Online Survival]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 22:15:17 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/189*120/160661169.jpg

Traditionally, Boy Scouts were trained in fire and knife skills, preparing them to be ready for outdoor adventures. Along the way, they also learned how to be good stewards of the wilderness, to safely traverse rugged terrain, and to recognize dangers along the way.

In the 21st century, the Boy Scouts of America continues to instill those skills and mindset but for a different wilderness. The Cyber Chip program replaces fire and knife training with smartphone, internet chat and video game behavior training.

The principles are the same. The program wants to teach Scouts how to be safe on the internet, recognize the dangers from random chats, and how to behave responsibly.

Aaron Chusid, communications director for the National Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, said the Cyber Chip program is just a natural evolution in the scouting program to change with the times and stay as current as possible.

“The core of the scouting program is about leadership and development,” Chusid said. “We want to help young people be prepared for the world they are living in. If you go back and look at the first edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook, among the how-to guides in there, there is a guide on how to stop a runaway horse and carriage. That used to be a vital skill. Not so much today.”

The Cyber Chip program is taught in stages based on the age and school grade of the scout. Topics of cyberbullying, cellphone use, texting, blogging, gaming and identity theft are presented at a graduated pace for the needs of the different age groups.

Cyber Chip Requirements

The tools were developed with NetSmartz, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a training expert for many law enforcement agencies.

Chusid said the program for first-grade scouts is vastly different from the program for high school seniors, because their needs are different. The example he gave highlighted responses to chat requests from unknown individuals. The younger child is taught to reject those requests and talk to their parents.

The older scout is taught how to evaluate the request safely and respond appropriately, because older teens and college-aged scouts use the internet to meet new people.

“The principles we teach the scouts apply to every part of your life,” Chusid said. “Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent. That’s whether you are sitting in church or talking to someone on the internet.”

The chip is a patch the scouts earn, but it is one they must renew every year to gain additional knowledge in an ever-changing web environment. Scout troops can also tailor the program to fit their needs.

The program extends beyond the scout troop and leadership by drawing in parents to help them understand the goals and create open dialogue about internet safety and use between the adults and the child.

Pete Murray, a father of a scout in Troop 965 in Havre de Grace, Maryland, said he and his son, Simon, 13, have a contract that spells out, specifically, the expectations between scouts and parents about good behavior online. He said the Cyber Chip program teaches the scouts the skills, but it is up to the family to decide how best to use them.

“It is up to the parents and the scouts to come up with what they agree on,” Pete Murray said. “It helps me articulate what I do to try and be a responsible adult online and teach it in a way that he’s going to understand it. It proves to be very, very helpful in having that conversation.”

For example, the contract for the Murrays states that Simon won’t download in-app purchases without his parents’ permission, avoiding the surprise of a huge credit card bill. If there is something Simon wants, he knows he can go to his parents and ask them for permission, because they have already talked about the situation.

Murray works in a technology field, so the contract worked out with his son was very detailed. Other parents, who are not as tech-savvy, read the contract and realized how much they didn’t know about the internet and its dangers. He helped them understand how the web and technology are being learned and used by the kids of today.

Simon, a Second Class scout, said the contract helps his family stay on the same page about safe and smart online usage. The Cyber Chip program lets the scouts in Troop 965 use electronic devices that could connect with the internet when out at scouting events. The training, tools and skills opened new ways for the scouts to complete their duties and tasks.

“We get the freedom to use our phones to look up recipes for something when we have to cook something on an outing or take notes during the meetings using out phones, because beforehand, we weren’t allowed to take them in,” Simon said. “(We) take pictures on the outings (using our smartphones). We have to put together a photo collage at the end, and I feel like using our technology allows us to benefit for scouts.”

For Simon, his Cyber Chip program includes video game behavior and how to protect himself when chatting online. Establishing the contract allowed him to play online video games with other people because of the framework spelled out in the agreement with his parents.

He said the program makes him a better person overall. By using the parameters and understanding the consequences of going outside those parameter, he said he has more freedom to interact on the internet during chats with his friends and while playing games online.

“It helps me not be a jerk on the internet, which a lot of people are, and it allows me to have better interactions with people,” Simon said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[6 Injured After Fire Breaks Out at Google Conference: Officials]]> Thu, 18 May 2017 23:30:10 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/shoreline-0518.jpg

A fire during the Google I/O Conference in Mountain View on Thursday sent three people to the hospital, one with critical injuries, according to fire officials.

Firefighters responded to Shoreline Amphitheatre on reports of a fire inside one of the venue's food service buildings that was contained to the one building, fire officials said.

A total of six people were injured in the blaze, fire officials said. Three were transported to a hospital, one with life-threatening injuries. The other three were treated at the scene.

The developer conference was interrupted only briefly and continued Thursday evening. No evacuations were ordered, and no other injuries were reported, fire officials said.

Fire officials said the flames were caused by a grease fire in the kitchen of one of the food service buildings.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Workers Suffer Fainting Spells, Dizziness: Report]]> Thu, 18 May 2017 21:48:15 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479833756-Musk.jpg

Workers at Tesla's car factory in California have been fainting, experiencing dizziness and even having seizures, often requiring medical attention.

The symptoms have led to more than 100 calls for ambulances since 2014, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story Thursday.

Company CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that workers are "having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs," but he also said he cared deeply about their health and well-being.

In a blog post published Sunday, the company said: “Tesla's safety record is much better than industry average, but it is not enough.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook fined $122 million by EU Over Whatsapp Information]]> Thu, 18 May 2017 12:09:34 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/markzuckerbergneutralface_1200x675.jpg

Facebook has been fined 110 million euros ($122 million) by European regulators for providing "misleading information" about its acquisition of instant messaging service WhatsApp.

The social media giant bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion. The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, said that Facebook told it that there was no possibility to establish "reliable automated matching between Facebook users' accounts and WhatsApp users' accounts" that year.

The Commission's issue centers around the U.S. social networking giant linking Facebook accounts to WhatsApp user identities.

But last year, Facebook released an update to its terms of service that raised the possibility of linking accounts from both platforms.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Security Apps For Your Phone]]> Wed, 17 May 2017 10:50:12 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/PCMike0516_MP4-149503218056400001.jpg Tech guru PC Mike Wendland looks at apps designed to protect smartphones and tablets from malware, spyware and viruses.]]> <![CDATA[Instagram Introduces 'Face Filters' Similar to Snapchat ]]> Tue, 16 May 2017 11:03:40 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/snapchatgeneric_1200x675.jpg

Instagram on Tuesday announced a feature called "face filters," the latest effort to steal the thunder from upstart Snap, which is the parent company of Snapchat. 

Instagram's face filters allows users to add graphics to a selfie, then it can be added to a video or photo and sent through direct messaging or added to a public story — much like Snapchat's Lenses.

In addition to face filters, Instagram featured editing tools for video and photo.





Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lyft, Waymo Agree to Work on Self-Driving Car Technology]]> Mon, 15 May 2017 06:49:31 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/LyftWaymoSplit.jpg

In the race to the self-driving future, Lyft has agreed to work with Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google's parent company, to bring autonomous vehicles to the masses, both companies told NBC News on Sunday night.

The announcement comes as Waymo has accused Lyft's biggest competitor, Uber, of stealing trade secrets from the company to advance its own self-driving operation.

In a statement to NBC News, a Lyft representative said the plan is to partner with Waymo to "safely and responsibly launch self-driving vehicle pilots."

"Waymo holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation," the company said.



Photo Credit: GettyImages/AP, Files]]>
<![CDATA[Elon Musk Moves Forward With 'Boring' Traffic Remedy]]> Mon, 15 May 2017 19:38:36 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/202*120/elon-musk-tunnel.PNG

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk can claim a perhaps unparalleled string of visionary company creations -- PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Company.

The Boring Company?

"We're trying to dig a hole under LA," Musk explained during a recent TED Talk interview.

WARNING: The video below contains flashing lights, which has potential to induce motion sickness and/or seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised. 


After months of social media musing on tunneling to escape traffic congestion in metropolitan Los Angeles, Musk is moving ahead with test boring in a Hawthorne parking lot across Crenshaw Boulevard from SpaceX.

It appears to be a step toward what Musk foresees as a "3D network of tunnels to alleviate congestion."  What Musk calls "electric sleds" would carry cars piggyback through the tunnels at speeds up to 125 mph.

Going from Westwood to LAX would take six minutes or less, Musk predicted.

Cars could access and depart the tunnels through roadside auto elevators, each of which Musk said would require the room of only two parking spaces. The scenario is depicted in an animation video posted on The Boring Company's website.

Musk contends that unlike surface roadways, underground you need never run out of room to add lanes, because you can simply go down another level.

But transportation engineers have doubts about the feasibility of Musk's tunnel vision, and apart from benefiting the tunnel users, how much it would reduce traffic and improve transit overall.

"How such a narrow system could contribute to that is not clear to me," said Jim Moore, director of the USC Viterbi Transportation Engineering Program.  Be that as it may, Moore said he considers Musk a "bona fide genius," and applauded his investing in researching such a novel approach.

Musk believes autonomous driving technology will enable car travel to be more efficient, and that cars -- not public transit -- will continue to carry a large percentage of ground travelers.

A major obstacle to underground travel is the cost of boring tunnels. The cost of new underground transit lines runs into the billions of dollars.

Musk said the Boring Company is focusing on ways to improve technology and efficiency enough to reduce cost by at least tenfold.

An inquiry to The Boring Company for detail on what is being done at the Crenshaw site elicited a response from sister company SpaceX--but no comments on the record.  It appears the current work east of Crenshaw is a separate project from the proposed--but yet to be started--pedestrian tunnel which the city of Hawthorned has approved to be bored beneath Crenshaw Blvd.

Musk acknowledged improvement in boring technology may have crossover benefit for another vision of his for using tunnels to speed travel: Hyperloops, in which passengers would be transported in pods at near supersonic speeds through tubes with reduced air pressure. Musk sees this as a step beyond high speed rail, such as exists in Japan and the state of California currently is constructing.

The test Hyperloop that SpaceX built in Hawthorne alongside Jack Northrop Boulevard is above ground. But future Hyperloops for congested urban areas, such as the Washington-New York corridor, would best be placed underground, Musk said during the April TED talk recorded in Vancouver, Canada.

Musk spoke with enthusiasm for the Boring Project, but during the TED talk put it in context -- at this point, it is receiving only 2 to 3 percent of his time.



Photo Credit: Elon Musk]]>
<![CDATA[4th Grader With Cancer Uses Robot to Attend Class]]> Fri, 12 May 2017 20:43:57 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Philbot.JPG

Phillip Lippolis, a student at Boyden Elementary School in Walpole, Massachusetts, is battling leukemia. But while he's home, he's able to attend school with his friends via "Philbot,"a robot able to roam the halls.



Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Snap CEO, Co-Founder Could Lose More Than $1B Each]]> Thu, 11 May 2017 13:40:50 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-647154742.jpg

Snapchat's poorly-received first earnings report and subsequent drop in stock led CEO Evan Spiegel to lose more than the $750 million he received in a stock bonus for completing his company's initial public offering (IPO) in March, CNBC reported.

The social media app's shares fell $5.35, or 23 percent, Wednesday to $17.66 after the company released its first quarterly financial results as a public company. The drop in price means Snap is just above its IPO price of $17.

If the same price drop happens Thursday, Spiegel will have lost more than $1.3 billion in a period of less than 24 hours. Spiegel's co-founder, Bobby Murphy, will have lost $1.1 billion.

Still, even if shares drop to $17, both men's holdings in the company will remain worth more than $3.5 billion each.



Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Snap Plunges on First Earnings Report as Public Company]]> Wed, 10 May 2017 17:41:51 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/snapchatonwallst_1200x675.jpg

Snap, parent company of social media site Snapchat, reported quarterly financial results for the first time on Wednesday, posting revenue that missed estimates and slower-than-expected user growth.

Shares plummeted more than 19 percent in after-hours trading.

Since its initial public offering in early March, Snap has faced an uphill battle to convince Wall Street it can make money with advertising, even with Facebook and Google dominating the market.

While its $3.9 billion initial stock sale in early March was the largest U.S. IPO in more than two years, the company has consistently reported huge losses.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 5 Highest-Paying Tech Summer Internships: Survey]]> Wed, 10 May 2017 10:49:15 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/472655314-internship-generic.jpg

The top internships in the tech industry these days aren't the monotonous office drone work, CNBC reports. They offer challenging projects that pay thousands of dollars a month.

The highest paying summer internship in tech this year is at Facebook, which pays $8,000 monthly, according to jobs website Glassdoor, which compiled data based in part on anonymously submitted feedback.

"Facebook moves fast. Really, really fast. The pace definitely took some getting used to, but I think it's coupled with (an) implicit trust," a software engineer intern wrote. "There is so much to learn."

Rounding out the top five highest-paying internships are Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon and Apple — which offers perks like food and housing, one intern noted.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Big Tech Hiring, But Not Ivy League]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 09:59:44 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-73909596.jpg

Considering shelling out big bucks on an Ivy League education? You may want to reconsider that – at least if you're eyeing a job in Silicon Valley.

The list of top 10 universities big-name Bay Area companies hire from doesn't feature any of the Ivy League universities in the country, according to artifical intelligence company HiringSolved. The analysis was based on 10,000 profiles of tech workers who were hired or promoted into new roles in 2016 as well as January and February 2017, according to the San Francisco Business Times

Leading the list were two local schools: University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

The others, however, included well-known engineering schools, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, and large public universities, including San Jose State University, UC San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, University of Texas at Austin. 

Of the Ivy League schools, Cornell University made it to rank 15.

“Our research suggests that in addition to specific skills and educational backgrounds, Silicon Valley is looking for a strong fundamental understanding of the basics of technology in their new hires” HiringSolved CEO Shon Burton said in a statement. “Often what separates say, a good engineer from a great one, is a knack for understanding the baseline ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ of how things work – the physics of the technology.”

Applicants looking to stand out must demonstrate familiarity with a number of softwares, including Python, C++, Java, Linux and Matlab, the analysis shows. 

Here are the top 10 schools favored in the past year by recruiters at top Silicon Valley companies:


  1. University of California, Berkeley
  2. Stanford University
  3. Carnegie Mellon University
  4. University of Southern California
  5. The University of Texas at Austin
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology
  7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  8. San Jose State University
  9. University of California, San Diego
  10. Arizona State University




Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cheating on the Rise as Competitive Gaming Goes Mainstream]]> Fri, 05 May 2017 14:12:45 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_esports0504_1500x845.jpg

Cheating, or hacking, is an issue as competitive video gaming breaks into mainstream entertainment. Prizes ranging from sponsorships to social media fame to cash rewards are prompting some to seek an edge over the competition.

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<![CDATA[Apple Pledges $1 Billion Boost to US Manufacturing ]]> Wed, 03 May 2017 19:28:46 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/188*120/apple-GettyImages-516837044.jpg

Apple plans to start a $1 billion fund to create more advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States, company CEO Tim Cook told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Wednesday.

As CNBC reports, the fund fits into Apple’s efforts to promote and create jobs within its own sector and within its own company. The fund's creation also comes amid President Donald Trump’s ongoing promises to bring lost manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

Cook said he hopes the investment will spur even more job creation.

"By doing that, we can be the ripple in the pond. Because if we can create many manufacturing jobs around, those manufacturing jobs create more jobs around them because you have a service industry that builds up around them," he said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Cybercriminals Hacked 1.1 Billion Accounts Last Year: Study]]> Mon, 01 May 2017 12:59:31 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Hacker506944962.jpg

Digital bandits breached 1.1 billion identities in 2016, nearly doubling their haul from the year before, according to a new study on cybercrime.

NBC News reports that the year brought more ransomware attacks and higher extortion demands, plus some of the biggest distributed denial of service attacks ever seen, causing "unprecedented levels of disruption" to internet traffic, according to the 2017 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec.

"The bad guys made a lot of money last year," said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response. "They keep getting better and more efficient at what they do; they managed to fool us in new and different ways."

Cybercriminals are moving away from making money by stealing a little bit from a lot of people at a time, and toward attacking banks themselves, the reported noted. 



Photo Credit: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams ]]> Sat, 29 Apr 2017 10:41:47 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_scams0427_1500x845.jpg

A new study finds that it is not the elderly who are most susceptible to scam phone calls, but millennials, who are six times more likely to give away credit card information than any other age group. 

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<![CDATA[Starbucks’ App Has Been Overwhelming Some Baristas]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:43:58 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/511143580-Starbucks-generic.jpg

Starbucks' mobile order and pay system has been bringing some of its busiest locations to a standstill, NBC News reported.

The system lets people order ahead and swoop into a store to pick up their coffee, food or unicorn frappucino. It was so popular in the first quarter of 2017 that store traffic ground to a halt as baristas contended with a wave of orders, prompting some walk-in customers to leave.

In 1,200 Starbucks locations, at least 20 percent of transactions in peak hours came from customers using mobile order and pay, the company said.

So the company has been experimenting with new ways to "more efficiently handle increased demand" from both mobile and walk-in customers during peak hours.



Photo Credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Announces Fashion-Tracking Camera Echo Look]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:18:55 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/wcholook_1200x675.jpg

Amazon launched the Echo Look Wednesday, a new device that observes how users dress and offers fashion advice based on algorithms and technology, CNBC reported.

The Echo Look is similar to Alexa, the voice-operated device that plays music, provides weather forecasts, traffic and news updates and more.

The Look takes "full-length photos and short videos" with a computer-generated background blur and stores them in a companion app. Its "Style Check" service "combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists," Amazon says.

The Echo Look will feature all of the other functions of the Echo Dot and standard Echo.



Photo Credit: Amazon]]>
<![CDATA['Shark Tank' Judge and Tech Investor Calls It Quits]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 11:41:24 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/techinvestorfeuerherd.jpg

Chris Sacca, a judge on the television show “Shark Tank” and early investor in tech companies like Twitter and Uber, announced Wednesday that he will be retiring from venture capital and the television show, CNBC reported. 

Sacca wrote Wednesday that he is "hanging up my spurs" after he rediscovered a notebook with entries he had written back in his 20s. In it, the younger Sacca had said he planned to retire at age 40. "In a matter of days, I'm going to be 42 years old," Sacca said. "Two years late." 

"I succeeded at venture capital because, for years, I rarely thought about or spent time on anything else. Anything less than that unmitigated full commitment leaves me feeling frustrated and ineffective," Sacca said. "As you've heard me say on the show, if I'm not all in, I'm out." 

Sacca said he's leaving ABC's "Shark Tank" this season, since he can't do the show while also keeping to his promise to stop investing in new companies, CNBC reported.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for SXSW]]>