<![CDATA[NBC Boston - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcboston.com/news/tech http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC Boston https://www.nbcboston.comen-usSun, 19 Nov 2017 16:35:53 -0500Sun, 19 Nov 2017 16:35:53 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[White Nationalist Spencer, Others Lose Twitter Verification]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:56:37 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Richard-Spencer-supremacista-blanco.jpg

Richard Spencer and other prominent white nationalists have lost their official blue check marks on Twitter after the social media platform announced changes to its verification practices.

Twitter said Wednesday that its official verification of public figures' accounts had "long been perceived as an endorsement." The platform added that it is working on a new verification process and removing blue badges from "accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines."

After the series of tweets, Spencer said on his account, which has more than 79,000 followers, that he is "verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly white?"

Far-right activist Laura Loomer also lost her verification, saying it is "a form of censorship." Jason Kessler, organizer of the far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, lost his badge as well.



Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Olie, Updated Google Job Search]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:04:43 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Olie_Update_Google_Job_Search.jpg

If you use Alexa or Google Assistant, why not combine them? Olie, from InstruMMents, is a smart lamp with integrated support for both Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing your to turn lights on and off. And attention job seekers, Google has done an update. Jobs will now show salaries and location-based results.

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<![CDATA[Spotify Expands, Bill Encourages Pentagon to Use Amazon]]> Tue, 14 Nov 2017 08:26:34 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Tech_Check_WBTS_NBC_Boston_2017_11_14_06_39_58.jpg

Spotify thinks it can get its 60 million paid listeners to now buy things... in addition to music. There's a bill in Congress that if passed, would allow the Pentagon to start buying items off Amazon. And Boston Dynamics is out with another robot.

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<![CDATA[Sean Parker: Facebook Exploits Human 'Vulnerability']]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 18:47:41 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/sn-prkr.jpg

Napster founder and former president of Facebook Sean Parker on Wednesday shared that he believes the social media giant was designed with potentially addictive features that he believes exploit "a vulnerability in human psychology."

While speaking with Axios, Parker said that the "thought process" held during the creation of Facebook was as follows: "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?"

"And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever," Parker told Axios. "And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you, you know, more likes and comments."

Parker called that process a "social-validation feedlack loop."

"It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology," he told Axios.

Parker said he and other founders of the now-ubiquitous social media platform knew what they doing and "did it anyway."

NBC Bay Area has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Flashing back to when Facebook was just getting going, Parker also said that even if people were against signing up at the beginning because they valued genuine and in-person human interaction, they would eventually cave.

The shift to digital human interaction has most likely changed the way people operate, Parker believes.

"It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways," Parker told Axios. "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Stops Verification Requests After Kessler Backlash]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:05:44 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/KesslerCharlotte.jpg

Twitter said Thursday that it will "pause" its verified account system in the wake of criticism over an organizer of the Charlottesville rally having received a coveted blue check mark on his profile. 

Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who has taken credit for organizing the "United the Right" rally that led to the death of a counterprotester, promoted his new Twitter verification on Tuesday. His profile features a confederate flag and notes that he has written for far-right websites. 

Kessler was charged with a felony perjury charge just last month for allegedly lying to a judge that he was not the aggressor when a man was assaulted earlier this year. 

Back in August, Kessler used Twitter to insult Heather Heyer, the women who was killed while protesting at the Charlottesville rally. He had called her “fat” and a “disgusting communist,” and said that her death was “payback time.” He later claimed he was hacked, then blamed prescription drugs and alcohol as the reason behind the tweet. He briefly deleted his account.

The move to verify Kessler’s account comes after Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, had recently said the service was planning to toughen rules on hate speech then take on its verification policy.

“Not as high a priority as enforcement, but it’s up there,” he said last month, Bloomberg reported.

Twitter explains on its website that verification is for accounts in the "public interest" and "a verified badge does not imply an endorsement."

But the verified account of a white supremacist caused an outburst from Twitter users against Kessler.

Some users claimed Dorsey was a “Nazi” supporter for allowing Kessler’s account to be verified.

"Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance," Twitter's support account said in response. "We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon."

Dorsey retweeted the message and assured he was working to fix the problem. 

"We should’ve communicated faster on this," he said, acknowledging that the "system is broken."

Twitter also faced criticism over its policies last month when actress Rose McGowan was briefly unable to post on the service after a tweet about sexual harassment included a private phone number.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Augmented Reality for People With Autism]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 12:24:11 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Augmented_Reality_for_People_With_Autism.jpg

Sean Novick is thriving at Plymouth South Middle School. He wants to attend MIT one day because he loves math, but there are moments when he struggles.

"You're someone that doesn't fit in well," says Novick.

Novick is living with autism, a neurological disorder affecting more than 3 million families across the nation. While the range of conditions vary on the spectrum, making eye contact and reading facial expressions can be difficult. However, this all started to improve for the 13-year-old after he enrolled in a pilot program at Brain Power.

Novick is using a high powered computer in the smart glasses to play video games. Two players sit face to face and the environment intuitively changes. Whenever Sean makes more eye contact he's rewarded with points.

"I like talking to people when I feel relaxed," says Novick, crediting the game for helping him feel this way.

Founder and CEO Ned Sahin says it's personalized gaming to see the world in another way.

"We’re not trying force people to act a certain way. Our games are designed to master the daily human social interaction," he said.

Brain Power is part of a rapidly growing space called augmented reality, overlaying computer images in the real world.

Two years ago, this Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start up was only going through clinical trials. Now Sahin says they're ready to offer this innovative therapy to the public.

However, experts in the autism community caution, don’t expect this to solve everything.

"For example taking a shower, or learning skills that would assist you with dressing, I’m not sure glass has an application for things like that," says Dr. Katina Lawdis.

Lawdis says it’s just one of the many ways people like Sean could be supported. So one day he can live out his dreams, and do more than just try to fit in.

Brain Power’s entry level package costs roughly $900, not including the cost of the smart glasses. But the company says it will work with anyone who can’t afford it. Click here to learn more.

Researchers at Brain Power are also in the process of creating a new game that would help people experience what it's like being in the shoes of someone with autism.

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<![CDATA[Facebook Wants Nude Selfies to Combat 'Revenge Porn']]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 09:11:35 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-512015586.jpg

Facebook is asking some users to send nude photos of themselves in an effort to combat social media "revenge porn."

People in Australia who are concerned that a former partner may distribute intimate photos of them on Facebook can use Messenger to send the photos to be "hashed," according to the office of Australia's e-safety commissioner.

Users would fill out a form before sending the message to themselves using the Messenger app. Facebook said the process involves storing image-matching data, and the photos themselves would not be saved, though they would be reviewed by a trained Facebook team.

Australian e-safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said it is one of four countries — the others being the U.S., U.K. and Canada — participating in the test program, but Facebook told "Today" that it is still in talks with the other three nations about expanding there.

"This pilot has the potential to disable the control and power perpetrators hold over victims, particularly in cases of ex-partner retribution and sextortion, and the subsequent harm that could come to them," Inman Grant said in a statement.

One in 25 Americans who use the internet have had sensitive images posted without their permission or have had someone threaten to do so, according to a study from the Data & Society Research Institute last year. The U.S. Marines were hit by a non-consensual image-sharing scandal this year, prompting Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller to ask the men in his Corps this March, "How much more do the females of our Corps have to do to be accepted?"

In the digital world today, deleting something never really deletes it, Adam Levin, founder of cybersecurity firm CyberScout, told "Today."

"The reality is that we're living in a world where breaches have become the third certainty in life, where hackers are sophisticated, they're determined, they're persistent, they're very creative and there is no right to be forgotten," Levin said.

Outside of the Facebook Messenger pilot project, anyone who thinks they have been a victim of revenge porn can report the photos through Facebook's dedicated reporting process, revamped in April.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Aluminum Foil for WiFi; Vegas Tests Self-Driving Shuttle]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 07:03:38 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Tech_Check_WBTS_NBC_Boston_2017_11_09_06_09_59.jpg

Aluminum foil was used back in the day to help the reception on TV antennas. But now, researchers say it can help your WiFi. And officials in Las Vegas are experimenting with a driver-less shuttle.

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<![CDATA[Humans Must Leave Earth Within 600 Years, Hawking Says]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 11:41:48 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/172*120/stephenhawkings_1200x675.jpg

Professor Stephen Hawking, the former professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of best-selling "A Brief History of Time," said Sunday during a summit in China that the human species had 600 years to survive on planet Earth, NBC News reported. 

Hawking has publicly expressed additional fears about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), the need for a new Space Age and the serious realities of global warming in the past.  

Hawking said the hypothetical day when humans will supposedly have to leave Earth has been likened to a “Doomsday,” NBC News reported. 

Hawking has also helped to launch the Breakthrough Initiatives, a series of projects seeking to probe “the big questions of life in the Universe,” including finding and communicating with extraterrestrial life. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan]]>
<![CDATA['Well Designed' Email Scam Targets Netflix Users]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:02:05 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/netflix_1200x675.jpg

An Australian cyber security firm is warning Netflix subscribers about a scam email aiming to steal users personal information by tricking them into thinking that accounts are in danger of being suspended, "Today" reported.

MailGuard posted an image of the email in a blog post Friday, calling it "relatively well-designed" because of its ability to generate "individualized messages with specific recipient data." 

Users of the streaming service reported receiving suspicious emails that tell recipients their Netflix billing information needs updating and that they must "restart their membership."

The email contains a link that takes subscribers to a fake Netflix website where they are asked to log in and enter information including credit card numbers.

"Of course, this website is completely bogus and is just a mechanism for the scammers to steal the victim’s identity and credit card information,” MailGuard said.

It was not immediately clear how many of Netflix's more than 109 million worldwide subscribers have received the email.



Photo Credit: AP/File
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<![CDATA[Sportswear Giant Adidas Debuts App; Snapchat Outage]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 07:14:58 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Sportswear_giant_Adidas_Debuts_App_Snapchat_Outage.jpg

Sportswear giant Adidas has just launched a new app that's more than just for shopping. And Snapchat sent 173 million users into a tizzy on Monday after a worldwide outage for at least four hours.

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<![CDATA[A?: Apple Users Can Update Phone to Fix Glitch]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 17:10:20 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Apple-Glitch.jpg

Are you getting a strange symbol when you try to type the letter "I" on your iPhone?

If you updated your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to iOS 11.1, you may find that the letter "I" is autocorrecting the letter "A" with some kind of symbol next to it, either a "?" or barcodes, Apple said.

Apple provided a workaround when the bug first became an issue over the last week, but it looks like now users can update their devices to iOS 11.1.1 to fix the issue.

Here's how you can update your device:


  1. Plug your device into power and connect to the Internet with Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap Settings > General > Software Update.
  3. Tap Download and Install. If a message asks to temporarily remove apps because iOS needs more space for the update, tap Continue or Cancel. Later, iOS will reinstall apps that it removed. If you tap Cancel, learn what to do next.
  4. To update now, tap Install. Or you can tap Later and choose Install Tonight or Remind Me Later. If you tap Install Tonight, just plug your iOS device into power before you go to sleep. Your device will update automatically overnight.
  5. If asked, enter your passcode. If you don't know your passcode, learn what to do.
For more on how to update your devices, go to Apple's Support page





Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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<![CDATA[New Razer Phone Offers Gaming With Powerful Display: Review]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 20:17:13 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/razor+phone.jpg

A new smartphone wants to raise the level of mobile gaming with a bolder display and more power. The Razer Phone, an Android smartphone, boasts a 120Hz display and a large battery to keep users energized for hours of use and gaming.

The new device has a UltraMotion display with a refresh rate that is double most other smartphones. The 5.72-inch LCD screen is designed for no lag or stuttering while producing clear and colorful images.

The phone has an aluminum body and is powered by Android Nougat with 8GB of RAM. While it contains a 4,000 mAh battery, it also remains cool to the touch, thanks to internal thermal diffusers.

But the Razer Phone is designed to be a video and gaming device. Dual rear 12 megapixel cameras provide amazing images at nearly any distance. Dolby Atmos brings cinematic audio through two front speakers with dedicated amplifiers.

But what about the games?

Razer is partnering with Square Enix, Tencent and others to provide exciting and competitive gaming to smartphones. “Arena of Valor,” a multiplayer online battle arena, will let players battle each other in team fights.

"The future of gaming is rapidly expanding to mobile devices, and both Razer and Tencent are at the forefront of fast-tracking development," said Vincent Gao, global marketing director at Tencent Games. "Arena of Valor brings gamers a fast-paced, competitive experience, and the Razer phone was built to handle the visuals, sound and quick-reflex mechanics of the game."

Other popular titles include “Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition,” “Tekken,” “World of Tanks Blitz,” and “Titanfall: Assault.” The games are being optimized for the Razer Phone to run from 60 frames per second up to 120 frames per second, keeping the action clean and responsive.

The phone will be priced at $699.99 in the United States, and preorders begin on Nov. 1. The phone will go on sale at Razerzone.com, select Microsoft Stores, and Amazon.com on Nov. 17.



Photo Credit: Razer]]>
<![CDATA[Russian-Bought Facebook Ads Released]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 16:41:02 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+RUSSIAN+ADS+THUMB.jpg

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee released some of the Facebook ads purchased by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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<![CDATA[Tech Check: Amazon and How to Delete Embarrassing Texts]]> Tue, 31 Oct 2017 07:01:06 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Amazon_How_to_Delete_Embarrassing_Texts.jpg

Boston isn't the only city bidding for Amazon's second headquarters... And NBC Boston's Brian Shactman explains an app that lets you delete a text message you might have regretted sending.

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<![CDATA[Tech Check: Current Debit and Uber Credit Cards]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 06:01:05 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Tech_Check_Current_Debit_and_Uber_Credit_Cards.jpg

Start-up 'Current' has announced it has raised $5 million in funding for a debit card aimed at kids that parents can control with an app. And Uber is teaming up with British bank Barclays to offer its first branded credit card. NBC Boston's Brian Shactman takes a look at both cards.

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<![CDATA[Twitter to Start Labeling Political Ads]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 15:17:03 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/twitter-logo1.jpg

As political pressure mounts on social media companies to say where ads are coming from, Twitter will reveal more information about political advertising on its platform.

Twitter said in a blog post on Tuesday it would clearly label political electioneering ads, which the Federal Election Commission (FEC) defines as any ad used to promote a specific candidate for elected office or affiliated party posted within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election. Electioneering ads can also include any ad clearly promoting a political candidate at any time.

As CNBC reported, the ads will have some sort of visual marker, likely a purple dot next to the user handle, and a purple box with the text "Promoted by" and the name of the sponsor.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Immersive Experience Lets Users Explore Mars Using VR]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:34:07 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/10-20-2017-rover-360-mars20171019.jpg

Now everyone can get a taste of what scientists see on the red planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience that be accessed with a computer, mobile device or virtual reality/augmented reality headset.

Access Mars: Experience access Mars by clicking here and learn about Curiosity’s mission here.

Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore the desert terrain while poking around nooks and crannies. The program features four notable regions: Curiosity's landing site, Murray Buttes, Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. The rover’s current location on Mt. Sharp will be continually updated as new imagery comes in.

The software is adapted from a similar program used by NASA scientists to study Martian geology.

"We've been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day," said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL's Ops Lab, which led the collaboration. "With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along."

The experience was crafted by pairing Curiosity's imagery and scientific data with WebVR, an open-source virtual reality software that be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

Visitors can learn more details about Curiosity’s experiments such as photos of digging sites, soil mineral compositions and even a selfie the rover took so scientists could monitor wear and tear.

"Immersive technology has incredible potential as a tool for scientists and engineers," Luo said. "It also lets us inspire and engage the public in new ways."



Photo Credit: NASA/JPL
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<![CDATA[How to Prevent Being Spied on in Vacation Rental Homes]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:24:30 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Cameras_Found_in_Airbnb_Condo_1200x675_1068525123576.jpg

For people on vacation, being watched on hidden cameras in your room should be the furthest thing on their mind, but police are warning people to be on the lookout after an alarming case last month involving a vacation rental, according to "Today." 

An Indiana couple found a hidden camera and microphone in a smoke detector pointed toward their bed at their Airnbnb rental in Longboat Key, Florida. The homeowner was arrested and charged with video voyeurism, police said.

It is surprisingly easy to hide cameras and microphones in everyday household items, according to Scott Black, owner of Bethlehem Spy Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"You can be 2 thousand miles away and as long as there's an internet connection,'' Black said, "we can monitor this from anywhere in the world."




Photo Credit: WFLA
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<![CDATA[Tech Check: New Crash Test for Passenger Safety]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:04:39 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/231*120/BOST_0000000509813399.JPG

It turns out not all passenger-side airbag systems are created equal, especially when it comes to protecting the passenger versus the driver. After suspecting as much, the Insurance Institute for highway safety has added to its routine, a new, small overlap front crash test.

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