<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSat, 10 Dec 2016 22:47:55 -0600Sat, 10 Dec 2016 22:47:55 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Killer Update: Samsung to Make All Galaxy Note 7s Unusable]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:22:21 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/605913468-Samsung-Galaxy-Note-7.jpg

The next software update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will make it completely useless, the company said Friday, effectively killing off the ill-fated phone. 

The update, scheduled for Dec. 19, 2016, will stop the recalled device from charging or working as a mobile device. About 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7s were recalled in the United States, after 96 batteries overheated and 13 burns were reported, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

But Verizon said it would not push the update to phones on its network, saying it didn't want to make it harder for people to communicate without a device to switch to. 

"We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation," Jeffrey Nelson, vice president for Global Corporate Communications said in a statement Friday.

Samsung said that 93 percent of Galaxy Note 7s have been returned. 

Samsung has instructions for how to replace or refund phones on its website, which was last updated Friday. It continues to advise that anyone who still has one of the phones immediately power it down and return it for an exchange or refund.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook to Invest $20M in Affordable Housing Projects]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:15:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/187265573-facebook-generic.jpg

Facebook announced Friday a new partnership aimed at solving some of Silicon Valley's most difficult issues, including affordable housing.

The Menlo Park-based company is contributing an initial $20 million to the partnership, which includes community groups and government agencies in the region. Facebook said it hopes to attract more contributions and partners to the cause.

In addition to affordable housing, Facebook is devoting $625,000 to job training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Facebook also will dedicate $500,000 to an assistance fund to "provide legal support to tenants threatened with displacement from evictions, unsafe living conditions and other forms of landlord abuse."

"Since shortly after Facebook was created, we’ve been part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The region — this community — is our home," the company said in a press release. "We want the region to remain strong and vibrant and continue a long tradition of helping to build technologies that transform the future and improve the lives of people around the world, and also in our extended neighborhood. We all need to work together to create new opportunities for housing, transportation and employment across the region. We’re committed to join with the community to help."

Photo Credit: File – Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Deep Learning: Teaching Computers to Predict the Future]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:16:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/atlas-computer.jpg

Researchers have configured computers to predict the immediate future by examining a photograph, NBC News reported.

A program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has analyzed 2 million videos to see how scenes typically progress, and can generate a 1.5-second video clip predicting a scenario based on a photograph.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory hopes to generate longer videos with more complexity in the future.

To create the program, the team relied on a scientific technique called deep learning, which uses mathematical structures to pull patterns from massive data sets. It could lead to computers making diagnoses from medical images, customer predictions or even operating vehicles.

Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor/Getty ]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:30:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: New Drone Video Shows Apple 'Spaceship' Almost Done]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:41:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/applespaceship.jpg

A new drone video released over the Thanksgiving weekend shows that Apple's new "Spaceship" building in Cupertino is nearly completed.

David Sexton, who runs Sexton Videography, made a trip from his hometown Chicago to California's Silicon Valley over the holidays. He sent his DJI Phantom 3 Advanced drone into the air over Apple's new campus.

"I'm an Apple fan boy," Sexton told NBC Bay Area by phone on Monday. "I was on vacation and no one was around, so I decided to do a flyover."

Sexton did the same thing last December, and noted how remarkable the construction changes were in a year's time. "It was just a shell," he said. "It's really blossomed."

His video, taken on Thanksgiving and posted on Nov. 25, shows aerials of Apple's 176-acre Campus 2, aka the Spaceship, being built between Homestead Road and Interstate Highway 280. The solar-paneled, space-age, circular building is slated to open in a few months, in early 2017.

The drone video also shows an underground auditorium, a huge research and development building, a tunnel with underground parking and a fitness center for employees.

A representative from Apple's Campus 2 media list did not respond for comment.

For more information on the project, click here.

Photo Credit: David Sexton/ Sexton Videography]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Toys Go High Tech]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:25:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_hatchimal_1500x845.jpg From artificial intelligence in Hot Wheels to Barbie's dream smart home controlled through an iPad, this year's gifts for the holidays adapt new technology to add a new spin on traditional toys for children.

Photo Credit: NBC News ]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide for Gamers on Your Holiday List]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:40:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/223*120/Game-Splitter.jpg

This holiday season, the ghosts of video games past, present and future will be visiting the gift lists of players everywhere, and we've rounded up some hot items to make everyone happy. All prices listed below are the manufacturer's suggested retail price, but there are plenty of Black Friday sales to help your wallet.

Venture back to the 1980s with the NES Classic Console ($59.99) from Nintendo. This small replica of the original Nintendo Entertainment System console can fit in the palm of your hand but contains 30 classic games from the past.

The controllers are the original size, yet significantly smaller than today’s gaming controllers. Pick up an extra controller and watch the entire family try to set high scores on games like "Donkey Kong," "Super Mario Bros." and many others.

The console is a popular item this season, so call ahead for availability in stores or order early online. 

Looking for something a bit more current with a lot more power? The PlayStation 4 Slim ($299.99) version packs today’s technology into a smaller, trimmer console. Bundle it up with a hit like “Uncharted 4” and enjoy a quieter, cooler gaming experience with a better High Dynamic Range look.

Perhaps something stronger is on your gaming list. The Xbox One S ($299.99) features built-in 4K Ultra Blu-ray for movies and streaming video in 4K. Just be sure your television or monitor can handle the upgraded visual experience.

The PlayStation VR, named one of this year’s best inventions by Time magazine, is a glimpse into the future. The headset attaches to the PlayStation 4 console for an intense and immersive visual gaming adventure like no other. But what about that sound?

The Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR headphones ($79.95) have clearance for the VR headset and cables, while providing amazing high and booming lows from the VR games. With over the ear cushions, the headset is comfortable and provides amplification to make any VR scene more vibrant.

When you decide to take a break from all the gaming, PowerA’s charge and display station for PSVR ($49.99) can charge up one DualShock4 controller and two PlayStation Move controllers while also elegantly displaying the PSVR headset, keeping it off the floor and away from tripping or stepping hazards.

If you're looking for better sound in Xbox or Windows 10 gaming, the Astro A50 ($300) is a wireless headset that delivers up to 15 hours of battery life while letting players hear enemies from every angle with Dolby 7.1 surround sound. An optional mod kit includes synthetic leather headband and ear cushions for improved comfort while cutting down on extraneous (re: non-gaming, real world) noise.

But what if your gift receiver has all the hardware they need? Not to fear, because some of the top games of the year are out, just in time for the holidays.

For those looking for something nostalgic, “Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration” ($59.99) not only includes the latest release, but also offers a glimpse at Lara Croft’s 20 years as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Outfits, weapons, skins and more span her travels as an amazing adventurer. Plus, the game also features new modes, including a VR mode and story in stately, but crumbling, Croft Manor.

More interested in shooting games rather than discovering lost artifacts? “Titanfall 2” ($59.99) offers a brand-new single player campaign along with new abilities and Titans for a fast-paced, explosive multiplayer challenge that will have any player calling for their favorite mech.

Rather sneak around than blow stuff up? “Dishonored 2” ($59.99) returns players to the court at Dunwall, where they discover a plot to overthrow the Empress. As Emily, or her father, Corvo, sneak your way past enemies and traps to regain the throne with as little bloodshed as possible. Of course, you can always just shoot your way back to power, but where is the fun in that?

If gaming on the go is more your gift recipient’s style, “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon” ($39.99 each) for the portable Nintendo 3DS console is the perfect way to go. Trainers head to the Aloha Islands to discover and catch new Pokémon, including new Legendary creatures. Dozens of new Pokémon friends and challenges await on each of the Aloha Islands.

PC gamers will be challenged over and over again with “Civilization VI” ($59.99). Build a lasting civilization that can stand the test of time in a new turn-based strategy game re-built from the ground up. Visually, the expansion of how cities are represented will amaze and perplex your games, while new leaders and gameplay changes will test how they want to use their “one more turn.”

If tabletop gaming is more the speed of your gift recipient, consider something from the “Dungeons and Dragons” line. A new release, “Volo’s Guide to Monsters,” ($49.99) is more than just another book of creatures. It takes a deep dive into monster lore and is a launching point of imagination for any D&D game. There are also some new adventures available, so your Dungeon Master can use their new knowledge.

For the Twitch or YouTube streamer in your life, Blue’s Raspberry microphone ($199.99) provides 24-bit studio-quality sound in a form that is smaller than most smartphones. It is perfect for in home studio use or when they decide to take their show on the road. A simple USB plug connects the Raspberry to any PC, Mac, Windows tablet, iPhone or iPad for an instant podcast or recording session.

Whatever they want, hardware or software, there are plenty of choices and deals out there to satisfy the player on your gift list. A few things to keep in mind: Know what console or computer they play their games on and what kinds of experiences they enjoy. There is nothing worse than unwrapping a new game and discovering it is for the wrong platform.

Or you could just buy them a new console with the game so you will never have to run into that issue.

<![CDATA[Top Holiday Gifts for Gamers]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:03:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Gifts21.jpg From hardware to software to desktop gaming, this gallery offers a bit of everything for the game players on your holiday gift list this year.

Photo Credit: Blue, Arkane Studios/Bethesda Studios]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Users Get $15 Check From Class Action Settlement]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 20:02:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/facebook-logo2.jpg

Some of Facebook's 1.8 billion users have recently received a $15 check from the social media giant in the mail, leaving many recipients scratching their heads. "Is this check real?"

The answer is: Yes.

The money comes from a class action lawsuit settlement over Facebook’s use of members' names and faces in “Sponsored Story” ads without their permission and without paying them.

Fraley vs. Facebook was filed in April 2011. In their lawsuit, the five plaintiffs claimed Facebook improperly used photos and names of users in Sponsored Story ads, which are created by members “liking” companies’ pages or content. The plaintiffs also argued that Facebook violated a California law that forbids companies from using people’s likenesses or names in advertisements without their consent. Finally, the suit asserted that Facebook should have received parental consent to use the names and likeness of any user under the age of 18.

After more than two years of deliberation, a U.S. federal judge in California approved a $20 million settlement in August 2013. Facebook also promised to give users more “control” over how their photos are used in ads.

Facebook users were who filed to join the class action by the May 2, 2013 deadline were eligible to receive a payment.

Third parties kept the case tied up in appeals court for years, but after those were finally resolved this year, the settlement awards were freed up to be distributed to Class Members, according to the class action's website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Google's Digital Death Sentence]]> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 05:44:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16132525649141-google-generic.jpg

Some of Google's unwitting users are learning a harsh lesson: If you violate the company's policies, it can abruptly cut you off from your Gmail account, online photos and other vital digital services.

Several people who recently bought Google's new Pixel phone on behalf of a New Hampshire dealer are now suffering that punishment after the company detected their online purchases and judged they violated its terms of service. Those rules, outlined in a document that few people read closely, forbid the purchase of the Pixel for "commercial" resale.

"There isn't an hour that doesn't go by that I don't think about the enormity of what Google has done to me," said one of the affected resellers, Shmuel Super of Brooklyn, New York. "This is like a digital death sentence."


Super and his fellow resellers got into trouble for buying up to five Pixel phones from Google's online store and having them delivered to New Hampshire for resale. They received $5 for each phone. As of Sunday, some started finding themselves locked out of their Google accounts.

In a Thursday statement, Google described the resale arrangement as a "scheme" devised by a dealer looking to sell the Pixels at marked-up prices in violation of its policies.

Google declined to say how many people were affected by the account lockdown. DansDeals , a consumer-focused website that first reported Google's crackdown, concluded that more than 200 people had been blocked from their Google accounts after talking to the New Hampshire dealer behind the Pixel buying spree. The Associated Press was unsuccessful in its efforts to identify and interview the dealer.

The crackdown may come as a surprise to the hundreds of millions of people who now routinely rely on Google, Facebook, Apple and other tech companies as the caretakers of their digital lives. Few of the people involved in this situation appear to have backed up their data outside of Google.

Google said it plans to restore the accounts of customers who it believes were unaware of the rules, although the company didn't specify how long that might take.


Once they figured out why they were being locked out, the exiled consumers realized how dependent they had become on Google as the custodian of their digital communications, records and other mementoes.

Some said they couldn't retrieve confirmation numbers for upcoming flights or notices about an upcoming credit-card payment. Others couldn't fetch work documents or medical records. Some started getting phone calls from friends, family and colleagues wondering why they weren't responding to emails.

Like other two other people interviewed by the AP, Super said he had no idea that he was violating Google's policies when he bought the Pixels for the New Hampshire dealer. He can't believe Google would do something as extreme as locking him out of his account without warning, rather than just banning him from buying its phones in the future.

"Google's slogan is 'Don't be evil,' but to me, there is nothing more evil that what Google has done here," Super said.


Some of the Pixels purchased for resale were delivered before Google recognized the violations and meted out a punishment spelled out in a separate terms-of-service document . "We may suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct," Google warns in one section.

Google doesn't give any advance notice before it shuts down an account, and doesn't make distinctions between minor and major violations. Affected users can appeal for reinstatement, though it's unclear how long that might take or what criteria Google uses in such cases.

Apple also forbids online purchases of iPhones for resale, although its terms of service say only that the company reserves the right to cancel any order suspected of breaking the rule.

Daniel Levy, who has been locked out from his Google account since Monday, said he has learned a hard lesson, though not necessarily the one the company intended.

"They confiscated my property and shouldn't be trusted," said Levy, who lives in Lakewood, New Jersey. "I will never use their services again."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Russia Continues Hacking, Gathering Intelligence on US]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 18:40:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478186613cyber.jpg

Russia has always placed a top priority on gathering as much intelligence as it can about American government officials, and the team now gathering around the new president-elect is no exception. In the overnight hours after Tuesday’s election, hackers linked to Russian intelligence launched a sweeping cyber-espionage campaign to find out what a Donald Trump victory could mean for Vladimir Putin’s government.

Sean Kanuck, the U.S. National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues from 2011 to 2016, told NBC News that Russia would likely be after any information on Trump and his advisors that would help Russia gain strategic advantage over the U.S. 

The Nov. 9 attack targeted “people who are or will be associated with the incoming administration,” said Steven Adair of the cyber security firm Volexity.

The attack came from the hacking crew known as Cozy Bear, which is linked to previous attacks on the Democratic National Committee, the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Takes New Steps to Address Cyberbullying]]> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 10:28:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Twitter-generic1.jpg

Twitter says it's giving users more tools to combat abuse that's becoming more common on the social media platform.

Users are getting more options for muting tweets they don't want to see, the company said in a blog post Tuesday. Reporting hateful conduct is becoming direct as well, and Twitter's support teams have been retrained on contextualizing hateful conduct so the company can take action faster and more transparently.

"We don't expect these announcements to suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that. Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn," the blog post said.

The expanded muting function being rolled out in the coming days allows users to mute phrases, keywords and conversations. Twitter said in the blog post that it's been a commonly requested feature.

Cyberbullying, harassment and abuse are on the rise on Twitter, the company said, and many on the platform have sought more action from Twitter to put an end to it.

Among the many people who have decried cyberbullying is Melania Trump, wife of President-elect Donald Trump. She's said she will make reigning in cyberbullying her priority as first lady.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Top Google Doodles]]> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 06:33:44 -0600 2016 US Election Day doodle leads to a tool that helps users find their polling place, after playing a cute animation.]]> 2016 US Election Day doodle leads to a tool that helps users find their polling place, after playing a cute animation.]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/election-doodle.png Since 1998, Google has created more than 2,000 colorful and imaginative doodles to commemorate important holidays and people. Take a look back at some of the most iconic designs from around the world.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Sues Oil Exec]]> Fri, 04 Nov 2016 05:19:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490597798.jpg

Tesla Motors has filed a suit against an oil industry executive, claiming the man impersonated the company's CEO Elon Musk in an email message, according to a report by Forbes.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Todd Katz, CEO for Quest Integrity Group, a Seattle-based company that provides services for oil and gas companies, Forbes reported.

Palo Alto-based Tesla claims Katz was trying to gain non-public financial information from the electric-car maker after its most recent earnings report, Forbes said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, Forbes said.

According to the suit, on Aug. 3, Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler received an email from elontesla@yahoo.com seeking confidential financial projections and car pre-order numbers beyond what was provided earlier that day during the company's earnings call with analysts, Forbes said. Wheeler did not provide the information.

The complaint says the email address is similar to one Musk has used in the past.

According to Forbes, the suit says the company's review determined that Katz was the author. Along with Katz, the complaint says as many as 10 others were involved. They were not identified.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Beats Third-Quarter Earnings Expectations]]> Wed, 02 Nov 2016 14:39:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_49057729444.jpg

Facebook reported quarterly earnings and revenue Wednesday that beat analyst expectations, as it added more users than Wall Street expected, CNBC reported.

The social media giant posted adjusted earnings of $1.09 per share on revenue of $7.01 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 97 cents per share, adjusted, on $6.92 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"We had another good quarter," Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a release. "We're making progress putting video first across our apps and executing our 10 year technology roadmap."

Monthly active users rose to 1.79 billion, above the more than 1.75 billion expected. For the first time, more than 1 billion users were active on their phones every month.

But even so, shares of the stock fell more than 1 percent after hours.

Photo Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Patents Foldable Phone]]> Wed, 02 Nov 2016 06:11:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Apple+Patent.JPG

A newly issued patent provides a clue about the direction of Apple’s future iPhone: It might fold.

But not in a bad way.

The phone could have an interior flexible enough to fold, giving the user twice the screen, without doubling the size, according to the patent.

Now, admittedly, this is all speculative.

There is an entire website devoted to Apple's patents — it’s called Patently Apple and it's fun to sift through — most of which have not seen the light of day.

But foldable technology is coming. We’ve seen almost foldable phones, a foldable TV on Kickstarter, and of course VR goggles, which at least look foldable.

“You have no limitation anymore,” analyst Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies said about foldable mobile devices. “You’re immersed in the experience.”

An experience set to change very soon.

Scott is flexible on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office]]>
<![CDATA[Millions to Watch Gaming Tournament]]> Sat, 29 Oct 2016 02:20:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/knbc-league-of-legends.jpg

Stroll around Staples Center right now, and you might wonder what huge athletic event is being planned.

There are hardcore fans buzzing, Chick Hearn Court is completely blocked to traffic and giant barriers and signs advertise an upcoming world championship.

Despite the sense of anticipation, many may be totally unfamiliar with the event: It's the 2016 League of Legends World Championship, where the best international gaming teams play each other online. And the multi-player online battle arena is not something fans can see broadcast on traditional TV.

"They're competitive and larger than, say, the NBA finals," said Dmitri Williams, who specializes in video gaming at USC's Annenberg School. "These are really, really big events."

Crowds aren't flocking to Staples to play the video game — they're coming to watch other people play. The event pulls in more spectators every year than the Stanley Cup Finals and World Series combined.

"This is the world's most popular game — 100 million monthly active players," Williams said.

Santa Monica-based Riot Games generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year from this one title, said Williams.

League of Legends allows players to battle each other in real-time from all over the world.

<![CDATA[ Live Blog: Apple Holds Fall Event]]> Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:31:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/AP_16301642565207.jpg

Apple on Thursday held its fall event, updating its Mac lineup, including adding a touch-sensitive panel to the MacBook Pro.

The announcement comes just days after Apple announced its quarterly sales fell, a rare slump for one of the most successful companies in the world. 

NBC Bay Area reporter Scott Budman live-blogged the event from the tech giant's Cupertino headquarters:

11:25 AM

MacBook Pro starts at $1499. Goes up to $2399.

11:11 AM

And, sure enough, like any new platform, companies are making their stuff compatible to TouchBar.

Skype, Adobe, Microsoft will adjust.

Enough to replace what you're already using?

11:11 AM

Now, a DJ showing off how TouchBar can be used to make and edit music.

Cool for parties.

The PhotoShop demo was cool, too.

Apple stock steady at $115.

11:10 AM

MacBook Pro demo: Lots here for editors and creative community.

Screen really pops.

10:55 AM

Now talking up speed (Intel chip inside) of new MacBook Pros.

Screens also sharp.

Are people going to be excited enough about the TouchBar to go out and buy these things?

...awaiting price/availability data.

10:46 AM


Not too impressed.

Apple shares now exactly 115 each.

Up a penny since we started.

10:43 AM

Apple also puts TouchID on MacBook Pros.

This makes sense .. lots of people find it easy and secure to shop/log in from phones.

Now, coming to laptops.

10:38 AM

New MacBoom Pro ..

13 and 15 inch screens.

New keyboard, thinner than previous laptops.

Lots of focus on getting rid of the "Function" key.

Replaced by retina display pad at top of keyboard.

Apple calls it Touch Bar.

10:30 AM

Tim Cook now moving on to the Mac.

These haven't been revamped in a while.

Also, lots of new competition from the likes of Microsoft, HP, and other Windows machines.

10:25 AM

Now, Siri will let you talk to your TV in all sorts of ways.

News, football .. its the new way to channel surf - talking to your TV

10:20 AM

Apple just announced a new app .. called "TV."

A way to cruise through your Apple TV.

Interestingly, they just brought up someone from Twitter to talk about streaming Thursday Night Football on Twitter and Apple TV.

10:10 AM

Tim Cook now on stage.

Introduces a new accessibility website, as part of the Apple page.

Also updating iPhone 7 .. new Apple Pay features.

Still waiting for new products.

Apple stock price (AAPL) 114.99 (-60 cents)

9:57 AM

...By the way, lots of talk about the death of Vine.

Not huge among journalists (not huge enough among anybody, apparently), but Twitter is huge, so a small chill falls over the creative part of the crowd. They're bummed they can't send out Vines about the Apple event.

9:49 AM

Good morning.

Inside the latest #AppleEvent.

Rumors are that today we'll see new laptops and desktops.

Will there be "One more thing...?"

Important for Apple to show that it can move forward; recent earnings showed a whole lot of dependence on the iPhone. Just yesterday, Microsoft came out with an upgraded lineup of laptops - getting good reviews.

See it here and on Twitter (@scottbudman) for live updates

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
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<![CDATA[The 'Uber for Kids' Niche]]> Thu, 27 Oct 2016 09:15:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/1026-2016-zum.jpg

New ride-hailing companies are going where the traditional ones can’t, targeting kids and their parents who need help juggling work and parenting responsibilities. 

Eleven-year old Coco, of Los Gatos, California, uses Zum app four days a week to get to home from school, get a snack and get to gymnastics when her parents are tied up at work.

“It makes me feel independent and lets me be without my mom being on my tail all the time. It’s nice to get a break from that sometimes,” Coco, said.

Zum is one of a handful of start-ups making inroads in the ride-hailing industry. Uber and Lyft drivers are not supposed to take unaccompanied minors, per company policies.

Enter companies such as San Francisco-based Kango and Los Angeles-Based HopSkipDrive, which also provide drivers with childcare backgrounds to busy Bay Area parents.

“Three o’clock to five was a stressful time for parents. A huge productivity loss for the company too,” said Ritu Narayan, who founded Zum in Belmont after a stint at Ebay. “Both of my kids were transitioning to school and suddenly I had this challenge of being in two or three places at the same time.”

Her company had 10 drivers when it launched last year. Now, more than 300 “Zumers” serve 3,000 families in the Bay Area and Orange County.

“All [the drivers] come from childcare experience. They go from phone interviews to in-person interviews. They are fingerprinted, background checked. They are Trustline certified, which is the gold standard for working in California,” Narayan said.

The majority of drivers are women: stay-at-home moms, nannies, teachers and graduate students looking to supplement their incomes.

Plus, there are army veterans such as San Jose’s Rosanna Nguyen, who home schools her four kids.

“Being a stay-at-home mom, you often feel hidden inside your house. You kind of feel left out,” Nguyen said.

After only two months on the job, she says she feels empowered, bringing in anywhere from $24 to $32 per hour.

“It feels really good too, as a financial contributor to my family. My husband was like, ‘Your confidence level has gone way up,’” Nguyen said.

The price for parents? Rides start at $8 for carpools and $16 for solo rides, with add on costs for babysitting.

Coco’s dad says the extra cost is worth the peace of mind. He receives notifications during every step of his daughter’s journey.

“Life before Zum was really hectic, chaotic and unfortunately sometimes not the best for Coco. It was, ‘Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad! Where are you? Where are you?” Bobby Napiltonia said.

For him at least, there is no guilt for not being able to leave work to drive his daughter to after school activities. He still takes Coco to school every morning and picks her up on Fridays.

Plus, Coco prefers it this way. Going it alone makes her feel all grown up.

“I like being independent because I’m an independent person,” she said.

Other specialized ride-hailing companies are popping up too. Coming soon: Lift Hero for seniors and SafeHer for women. The latter launched this fall in Boston and is coming to California sometime next year.

Narayan is planning on expanding to at least a dozen more regions throughout the U.S. next year.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Google Fiber Halts Expansion]]> Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:49:27 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/google21.jpg

Google's parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks.

The Mountain View-based company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious - and expensive - Google Fiber program, is stepping down as CEO of Access, the division of Google corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., that operates the 5-year-old program.

In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it's already operating, including Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

But it will put further plans on hold in at least eight more metropolitan areas where it's been holding exploratory talks with local officials. Those include Dallas; Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; and San Jose. San Diego was also once considered a candidate for Google Fiber.

Barratt didn't say how many jobs will be cut. His statement described the Access business as "solid," but said it would make "changes to focus our business and product strategy" and incorporate new technology.

A recent report by tech news site The Information said the business was under pressure by Alphabet CEO Larry Page to cut costs after failing to meet financial goals, including a target of signing up 5 million subscribers.

Barratt said he'll continue to serve as an adviser to Page.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Twitter Plans Layoffs]]> Tue, 25 Oct 2016 05:03:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/10-30-2013-twitter-generic.jpg

Twitter is planning another round of layoffs within the next week, according to a report from Bloomberg Technology, which cited sources familiar with the matter.

The San Francisco-based social media company may lay off about 300 workers, about 8 percent of its workforce, the same percentage it cut last year when co-founder Jack Dorsey took over as CEO, the Bloomberg report said.

An announcement about the job cuts may come before Twitter releases its third-quarter earnings report on Thursday, one of the sources told Bloomberg. The company declined to comment.

Twitter has been looking into a sale in recent weeks, but several top tech companies that had expressed interest in bidding -- including Salesforce, Disney and Google -- have backed off.

Twitter's losses and plummeting share price have made it more difficult for the company to pay its engineers in stock and add new talent, analysts have said.

Twitter shares closed at $18.03 on Monday.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBA to Offer Virtual Reality Broadcast]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:50:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/nextvr.jpg

The NBA wants to bring fans closer to the action. The league announced Thursday that one game each week would broadcasted in virtual reality.

This makes the NBA the first professional sports league to offer this option, working with NextVR to produce games in the regular season. In order to watch games in this format, fans will need a subscription to NBA League Pass and a Samsung VR headset.

The broadcasts will offer multiple camera angles, instant replays, graphics and commentators exclusive to VR.

This also points to the international following that the NBA has, NBA vice president of global media distribution Jeff Marsillo said to USA Today.

“We broadcast our games in over 210 countries now, and these are passionate fans,” he said. “But for most of them, they’re not able to attend a game in person, let alone sit courtside.”

The multiyear commitment deal with NextVR will change that.

A free trial of this experience is offered on Oct. 29 for the Sacramento Kings vs San Antonio Spurs game.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Cynopsis Media]]>
<![CDATA[Pediatrics Group Lifts 'No Screens Under 2' Rule]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:32:41 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-135280995.jpg

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new screen media guidelines for parents with infants and young children, amending its previous recommendation that outright banned screens for children under the age of two.

In its policy statement released Friday, the AAP says it’s OK for children under the age of 18 months to Skype or Face Time with grandma and grandpa, and for older children and teens to do some of their socializing, learning and playing online – as long as they put down their devices long enough to sleep, exercise, eat, and engage in rich offline lives. 

The nation's leading group of pediatricians recommends children under 18 months, with the exception of video chatting, should avoid screens. Children between 18 months and 24 months should only be introduced to digital media that is high-quality and parents should watch it with their children in order to help them process what they’re seeing.

For children ages 2-5, digital media use should be limited to one hour a day. The guidelines again recommend high-quality, education media suited for children, such as Sesame Street and PBS.

Overall, parents should avoid using media to calm a child or replace physical activity. Parents are also recommended by the AAP to have media-free time with their children and media-free zones in the house. Parents should also have conversations with children about online safety and respecting people both on and offline.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Major Outages, 3rd Cyberattack 'Has Been Resolved']]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:53:42 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/map-outage.jpg

A third wave of denial-of-service attacks on a key piece of internet plumbing was resolved by late Friday, said the company that was targeted.

Internet infrastructure company Dyn Inc. told CNBC earlier in the day that the third wave was underway, causing more disruptions after dozens of the world's most popular websites were taken largely offline Friday morning. 

The White House said it was aware of the situation and that the Department of Homeland Security was looking into it; a senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the FBI has been investigating as well. U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News Friday afternoon that they did not know who was responsible for the attacks, though one source said involvement by North Korea had been ruled out.

Dyn, which runs domain name servers, said on its website that it was subject to a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. Domain name servers translate website names to the numeric Internet Protocol addresses behind them. Dyn, headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire, is one of the larger companies in that business. 

Major internet services including Spotify, Twitter, Paypal, Reddit, the PlayStation Network, Netflix, SoundCloud and a number of media websites were difficult or impossible to reach early Friday.

DownDetector.com, a popular website for checking internet outages, showed a sharp and simultaneous spike in users reporting sites being inaccessible just after 7 a.m. ET and again around noon. 

Service providers including Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable and AT&T were also affected. 

Dyn told CNBC that it was being hit by "tens of millions of IP addresses" Friday afternoon, around 4:15 p.m. ET. They said one of the sources of the attack is devices like DVRs, printers, and other appliances that are connected to the internet, collectively known as the "Internet of Things."

Dyn said normal service was restored just over two hours later. But on its website it reported a new attack as of 11:52 a.m. ET that was still underway a half hour later.

"(We) have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue," the company said on its status update page. 

Later Friday, Dyn released a statement saying the third attack "has been resolved."

The extent of the effect was not clear as the attacks unfolded — Twitter experienced partial outages throughout the day. 

"The earlier issues have resurfaced & some people may still be having trouble accessing Twitter," the company wrote on its support account at 12:55 p.m. ET. "We’re working on it!"

After four and a half hours of problems, Twitter reported that Dyn had mitigated the attacks and that Twitter was once again available to all its users. 

Dyn said it was "still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure," though a monitoring issue was resolved, it tweeted shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

On social media, people reported renewed difficulty accessing Spotify in Europe, as well as problems with photos and video on Twitter. DownDetector showed fresh spikes in outage reports for sites including PayPal, Netflix and Pinterest. 

The attacks immediately renewed fears about the security of the Internet's core infrastructure, particularly with the presidential election - already the subject of hacking concerns - less than three weeks away.

(Comcast is the owner of NBC parent NBCUniversal.)

Photo Credit: DownDetector.com
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