<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:30:20 -0500 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:30:20 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Phone Chargers and Adapters Recalled]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:41:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/recall33.jpg

Two recalls have been issued for chargers that can overheat phones, causing a burn hazard, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The first recall warns about Gemini adapters and chargers that were given away at trade shows between October and April.

The company has received one report of a consumer who was burned on their hand, according to the CPSC. All chargers of this brand should be thrown out. About 31,000 chargers are affected.

The second recalls warns about Lifeguard Press charging kits. Seven models of charging kits with universal serial bus (USB) connectors that are used to recharge Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod devices are affected by the recall, according to CPSC.

They were sold under the brands Ban.do, Jonathan Adler, and Lilly Pulitzer between February and June.

Lifeguard Press has received six reports of the wall chargers emitting smoke and sparking and six reports of prongs detaching from the plug, according to CPSC. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers may contact the company for a refund. About 25,400 are included in the recall.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Kardashian Game Propels App Company]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:26:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/KK11.jpg

Kim Kardashian is money.

Glu Mobile knows.

The app-maker is the publisher of "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood," a free-to-play game downloadable from Apple's App Store. And Glu Mobile is also enjoying a wave of success after its stock shares jumped 42 percent in recent months thanks to the Kim game, Bloomberg News reported.

San Francisco-based Glu Mobile officials say they're not surprised that Kim's celebrity power could compel hordes of downloads and plenty of in-game purchases, the trick that makes free-to-download games lucrative.

In the game, users try to negotiate their own celebrity landscapes, using advice from Kardashian herself to rise from the "so-called E-list" to the "A-list," the website reported.

Revenue from the game could hit $200 million, an analyst told the website.



Photo Credit: GC Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber: What to Know About Car Service App]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:42:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Summoning a driver at a push of a smartphone button is a lot easier than trying to hail a cab during rush hour, which may explain why Uber, a car service app that connects passengers and car services within minutes, has become so popular.

The San Francisco-based startup, which launched in 2010, is the biggest of the car-hailing apps (others include Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz), operating in 120 cities and 37 countries. Uber relies on a surge-pricing model, which means the fares increase during high-demand periods. The company has come under fire from traditional taxi drivers who say the service is not fair and might even be illegal. This battle between upstart and establishment is likely to continue, and may benefit riders from a cost perspective.

Meantime, here’s what you need to know about Uber:

  • How Does Uber Work?

A customer requests a car using a smartphone app and Uber sends its closest driver to their location, using the phone’s GPS. The fare is charged directly to your credit card. Uber provides five types of services: UberX, the cheapest option which allows for the hiring of livery car drivers with a smartphone; Uber Taxi, which lets you e-hail a yellow cab; Uber Black, a private hire car; Uber SUV, the car seats up to six people and Uber Lux, which features the priciest cars.

  • Who Drives Uber Cars?

UberX drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and they use their own cars. They also use their personal auto insurance policy while driving for Uber and they are not required to get commercial liability insurance. According to the company website, all ride-sharing and livery drivers are thoroughly screened and the company conducts ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time with Uber.

The review process may be flawed.  A three-month investigation by NBC4's I-Team found that convicted felons passed Uber background checks across the country. And in an undercover investigation, NBC Chicago hired several UberX drivers and ran their own background checks on them and found numerous tickets for speeding, illegal stops and running lights.

  • Is Uber Safe?

States are warning riders who hail an Uber or another ride-sharing cab that they may not be covered by insurance if the driver gets in an accident. But Uber and other ride-sharing companies say that is not the case.

"There's no insurance gap at all on any trip on the Uber system," Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian told NBC News. She said the company's $1 million policy provides sufficient coverage in case a driver's personal insurance fails to do that.

There are other safery concerns as well. A 32-year-old Uber driver in Los Angeles was arrested in June on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and taking her to a motel room, police said.

And a California couples told NBC4 an Uber driver stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo.

  • How Much Is Uber Worth?

Uber was valued in June at $18.2 billion, less than a year after being valued at $3.5 billion. The valuation was the highest-ever for a venture-backed start-up and experts say Uber is positioned to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

  • Uber Capping Fares in Emergencies

Uber announced Monday that it will cap fares during emergencies and disasters in all U.S. cities. The company said prices may still rise higher than usual during an emergency, but the increase will be limited. The price will always stay below that of the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding 2 months, according to Uber's website.

The company was accused of price gouging when it applied surge pricing after Hurricane Sandy, in some cases doubling the normal fares.

  • Uber Slashing Fares in Some Cities

Uber also said Monday that it was temporarily cutting UberX rates by 20 percent in New York City, making its service cheaper than taking a yellow taxi.

An UberX ride from New York’s City’s Grand Central Terminal to the Financial District will now cost about $22, down from about $28. The same ride in a city cab will cost about $24, according to Uber’s blog.

Uber has also reduced fares in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

  • Uber Banned in Some Cities

While taxi operators often shell out more than $1 million for a medallion to operate in some cities, Uber drivers don’t. At least six cities (Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Miami) as well as the state of Virginia have banned ride-sharing companies. Another seven cities and three states (California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) are trying to regulate them.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Becoming An Elementary School Entrepreneur]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 16:32:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/SEE+PROGRAM.png The students at Nettelhorst Elementary School, on the northside of Chicago, are getting valuable class time learning how to create and market their ideas. The Science Entrepreneurial Exchange (SEE) program is Making A Difference in the lives of these bright young students. NBC 5's Art Norman reports.]]> <![CDATA[30 Md. Cab Companies Suing Uber]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:40:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uber-Council-102313.jpg

More than 30 Maryland cab companies are suing Uber, saying the company is hampering their ability to do business.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, reported the Baltimore Sun. The lawsuit claims Uber's surge-pricing model is similar to price fixing, and the car service is creating an unfair marketplace.

Taxi companies have begun to fight Uber, a popular ride-sharing company that uses an app to summon rides. In D.C., taxis affiliated with the D.C. Taxi Operators Association closed down Pennsylvania Avenue last month in a protest against Uber that gridlocked traffic.

Virginia has barred Uber from operating in the state, and in San Francisco, the head of one of the oldest cab companies in the city has said that traditional taxis may not survive 18 months in the face of competition from Uber.

Maryland has become a new battlefront for the dispute, with cab companies lobbying against proposals to regulate Uber differently than cab companies.

The cab companies claim that services like Uber aren't regulated the same way that taxis are. Uber has countered that the ride-sharing model isn't a taxi service, and pointed to the consumer demand for the product.

Two of the companies that sued in Maryland -- Barwood Tax and Sun Cab -- are based in Montgomery County.

An Uber spokesperson says it's too early to comment on this lawsuit, but the company will defend itself if it has to.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Is Oakland the New Silicon Valley?]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:35:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/jacklondonsquare.jpg

Tech companies are now branching out into the East Bay, favoring Oakland after being priced out of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Erik Collier serves as one of the general managers of Ask.com, a search engine company that moved into Oakland's City Center from Emeryville in 2004.

"We knew it was cool before it was cool," Collier said. "We were looking for more space. Oakland seemed to be a great spot, a central location to transportation."

Other startups and tech companies moving into Oakland point to the cheaper costs of doing business, especially compared to San Francisco or on the Peninsula.

The average price for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,500. Oakland's average rent is about $2,000 a month for an apartment.

"All the young techies want to be in the East Bay," Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said. "It is so hot. They don't want the sterile environment of those isolated campuses of the old tech."

McElhaney considers old-tech powerhouse companies to be the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, all of which helped make Silicon Valley famous, simultaneously driving up rents south of the City in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, neither of which have much in the way of rent control.

She is touting Oakland as the next big thing for the tech industry.

"At this point, Silicon Valley is old money," McElhaney said.

The Sears and Roebuck building in Oakland will soon become part of  the city's renaissance. The building has been sold and the new owner plans to turn the building into retail and office space for more start-up companies.

Oakland restaurateur Irfan Joffrey, owner of Camber, said the upswing seems to be gaining momentum.

"A lot of new businesses are moving in," he said, "just because other businesses are coming into town so they can benefit from the economy."

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<![CDATA[SF Parking App Makers Threatened With Fines, Lawsuit]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:32:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/06-23-2014-parking-app.jpg

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think they can solve San Francisco’s parking woes – and make some cash at the same time – are busy launching new apps that match drivers in need with much-coveted parking spots in the city.

But these tech companies could fold just as quickly as they started – or face possible fines or lawsuits – if they choose to go through with their business plans. 

On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking, claiming the app is illegal because it attempts to lease public, on-street parking spots.

Herrera also sent a similar letter to Apple, asking the Cupertino-based giant to remove the app from its store. Herrera also vowed to send out two more letters to ParkModo and Sweetch, companies with similar business models that charge consumers money to find empty spaces in parking-starved San Francisco.

Herrera’s letter said the companies will face a $2,500 fine, and a lawsuit, if they don’t stop operations by July 11. And his letter brought up issues of safety, logistics and equity regarding the controversial apps in a city where parking is in short supply.

In an email, MoneyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said he wasn't allowed to say too much because he hadn't yet time to consult with his lawyers. But in general, he said, he believes his company is "providing value to people," where users can "make $10 every time you leave a parking spot" by holding that spot until the next person comes. He said he feels his service should "regulated and not banned."

But, in an interview on Monday, Sweetch founders insisted that they’re not selling public spaces, they’re selling information. And the founders – French students who developed the app while taking an entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley – vigorously defended their business model.

In fact, Sweetch Co-Founder Hamza Ouazzani said his company attorneys told his San Francisco-based team that the app is “perfectly legal.” He explained that Sweetch’s goal mirrors Uber and Lyft, which also attempt to match people through the “sharing economy." Those two companies have been visible players in the ongoing conflict between tech ventures and public entities.

The Sweetch app, which charges users $5 to park, and pays users $4 to sell their spot to someone new, aims to make parking smarter, Ouazzani said, by providing a lower cost option for people who want to decrease the time they spend hunting for a place to park.

Ouazzani said while he’s not worried about Herrera’s threats, his team is now in consultation with attorneys to decide what the next move is for Sweetch.

The next move, at least on the city attorney’s behalf, will be to start fining, or suing, the companies who don’t heed his warnings. Herrera’s office noted, however, that Sweetch’s app, with its set-price model, does not appear to be as egregious as the other two apps, which encourage online bidding wars over parking spots.

City attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office isn't buying the app makers' logic. He said companies that claim to be selling “parking information," as opposed to the spot itself, are giving consumers a line that is “patently false.”

Companies like these are “holding on-street parking hostage,” Dorsey said in a phone interview. He added that San Francisco police code clearly bans the buying and selling of public spots to drivers. “It’s like selling off Muni seats,” he said.

Plus, Dorsey is skeptical that the information the companies are selling is even useful.

 “In the Mission District,” he said, “That information isn’t going to be good for very long.”

Herrera’s office is also arguing that drivers using these apps will make the roads more unsafe.

“Presumably, you’re still on your iPhone while you’re driving,” Dorsey said.

And, on a social justice level, Dorsey said the city attorney is concerned that the apps might "fly in the face of San Francisco values," making parking even more difficult for those without parking app access.

“It’s not fair that people with the ability to pay have a better chance to find parking in San Francisco than you or I might,” he said. “It’s already a city with affordability problems.”



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sweetch]]>
<![CDATA[Daughter's Letter Gets Dad Week Off of Work at Google]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:15:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_07_google_car.jpg

A little girl's summer wish came true, thanks to a letter she wrote to Google.

Katie wanted her dad, who works at Google, to spend more time with her, so she wrote the Mountain View company a letter asking for him to have Wednesday off. 

"Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off," she wrote in the letter, which is going viral on Twitter.

"P.S. It is daddy's birthday. P.P.S. It is summer, you know," she added.

The letter worked, according to "The Today Show," as Google responded with a letter thanking Katie for the note and giving her dad the first week of July off as vacation time.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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<![CDATA[Google Doodle Takes on Office Workers Sneaking Peeks at World Cup ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:36:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/worldcupgoogledoodle.jpg

Google outted office workers around the world with a doodle that features the iconic "Google" letters sitting around a conference table watching a World Cup game.

The animated letters are seen switching from the game to a graph presentation when a stern looking letter "B" walks by with a clipboard in hand. Once the B-is-for-Boss is gone, the PowerPoint presentation switches back to what appears to be an exciting match as the Google letters cheer and fist pump.

Users who click on the Doodle were taken to coverage of Monday's Netherlands vs. Chile match.

Researchers have yet to calculate the estimated loss of work productivity during the 2014 World Cup, but the U.S. economy in 2010 took a $121.7 million hit due to the 21 million soccer-loving Americans who watched for 10 work minutes a day during the South Africa games, according to NBC News.

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<![CDATA[Facebook Down for the Second Time This Week]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:03:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP120112075763.jpg

Facebook appeared to be experiencing an outage on Friday afternoon. Users attempting to log on would see either a blank screen or an error message.

This is the second time this week the popular social networking site went off the grid. Facebook suffered its longest and biggest outage in the middle of the night on Thursday as millions of users around the world found themselves unable to access their accounts for about half an hour starting at 4 a.m. ET.

The latest service disruption started at about 1:13 p.m. ET, according to downrightnow.com, a website that monitors web services. Facebook was back up by 6:00 PM ET.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target Fixes Glitch That Caused Delays at Checkout]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:29:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/target9.JPG

Target says it has fixed a glitch that caused delays at checkout stands at some of its U.S. stores Sunday.

The company said it identified the source, and that it was not a security-related issue.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone inconvenienced by this issue,” said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

One customer told NBC4 on Twitter that a Target store in Tustin was unable to process debit cards. The store handed out coupons for $10 off to customers, she said.

Last December, Target announced it was the victim of a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla to Open Up Its Electric Car Patents]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 07:49:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tesla_models_car_red.jpg

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is sharing its technological brainpower with the world and will open up all of its patents in an effort to boost electric car production.

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a blog post announcing the decision Thursday.

Musk said he hopes encouraging other electric car manufacturers to use Tesla's technology will help make cars less reliant on gasoline.

"Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis," Musk wrote in his blog post.

"Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day," he added.

Musk said his new business strategy was based on open source philosophy, which encourages the free and open development of technology, and said sharing Tesla's technology "will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard."

The announcement came the heels of Monday's reveal that Tesla also planned to encourage standardized electric car specifications by opening Tesla's Supercharger system to other auto makers, Engadget first reported. The Supercharger lets Tesla drivers charge half the car's battery life in about 20 minutes.



Photo Credit: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TweetDeck Security Issue Gives Hackers Access to Accounts]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:27:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/tweetdeck18.jpg

Users of Twitter's popular web app TweetDeck are encouraged to log out of their account right away.

Users reported on Wednesday morning that the app was creating pop-up alerts all by itself. The issue seemed to be affecting those who use TweetDeck on Google Chrome, but some reports show that other versions were affected as well, according to the tech blog Gigacom.

Mashable reported that the service has a security flaw that could allow hackers to gain access to user accounts. TweetDeck confirmed on Twitter in the afternoon that the issue has been fixed.

In addition to logging out of and logging back into the app, users are encouraged to remove access to TweetDeck from the Twitter app before using the service again.

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<![CDATA[Groupon's "Freebies" Goes Mobile]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:03:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/groupon_logo.jpg

Groupon is upping its couponing game.

The coupon company announced Wednesday that it would add its “Freebies” feature to iOS devices.

Launched in 2013, Groupon’s Freebies include more than 30,000 digital coupons, promotion codes, sales, giveaways and samples from more than 6,000 national brands.

The addition of Freebies to mobile users makes Groupon the most widely distributed mobile coupon destination in the United States, the company said.

“By adding Freebies to our popular mobile app, we’re giving shoppers more ways to save money on the go without having to clip any coupons,” said Sean Smyth, Groupon’s vice president of global partner marketing and business development. “And, with more than 80 million downloads globally, we’re giving brands an enormous platform to drive customers to their mobile app, online store or physical location.”

Freebies is currently available in the United States, but the company said it plans to expand to international markets by the end of 2014. It also plans to include Android devices and location-based alerts later this summer.

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<![CDATA[Local Company Touts "Ultimate TV" Ahead of Father's Day]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:27:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/samsung+tv+110.jpg

Looking for the ultimate Father's Day gift? This could be it-- if you're looking to spend $150,000 on dear old dad.

Local company Abt Electronics and Appliances is touting Samsung's 110-inch Ultra HD TV as the perfect, yet pricey, gift for dad this year.

The 304-pound television is the largest TV on the market and includes built-in WiFi and a full web browser, according to a spokesman for the company.

The television, dubbed the "ultimate TV," went on sale Tuesday at Abt Electronics and Appliances in Glenview. The retailer will be the exclusive seller of the television for the next six months, the company said.

Officials said one television has already been sold to a North Shore resident.



Photo Credit: Abt]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Drones Raise Privacy Concerns]]> Sun, 01 Jun 2014 18:58:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/lapd+drone+web+copy.jpg

The Los Angeles Police Department’s recent acquisition of two drones has the ACLU concerned over potential privacy issues.

While the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the LAPD for being transparent about the department’s acquisition of the Draganflyer X6 drones, the group “questions whether the marginal benefits to SWAT operations justify the serious threat to privacy,” said executive director Hector Villagra.

“They can be used for completely surreptitious surveillance that a helicopter could never perform,” Villagra said in a statement. “Drones equipped with facial recognition software, infrared technology, and speakers capable of monitoring personal conversations would cause real harms to our privacy rights.”

For now, the LAPD has not decided whether or not to use the unmanned vehicles. The drones are being held by a federal law enforcement agency and is pending review by the LAPD and the Board of Police Commissioners, a five-member group that is set in place to serve as the citizen’s voice in police matters.

The drones would be used in narrow cases such as to “prevent imminent bodily harm” or “a hostage situation or barricaded armed suspect,” according to a news release from the LAPD.

The drones were originally purchased by the Seattle Police Department with federal grants and were given to the LAPD free of cost. 



Photo Credit: draganfly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Are They Here Yet? App Tracks Your Guests' Arrival]]> Sat, 24 May 2014 12:24:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/driver_generic.jpg

With so many people scheduled to hit the road on Memorial Day, a smartphone app is putting the days of trying to gauge when your guests will arrive behind us.

Chicago-based Glympse is a location-sharing app that allows you to alert your friends and family of your location when you're on the open road.

It uses your phone's GPS capability to share your location in real time, including the speed you're traveling and your estimated time of arrival.

You can share your location with another Glympse user, or simply send a url to an individual so they can track you through a web or mobile browser.

A company spokesman says one of the best advantages of the service is eliminating the need for direct communication while on the road -- essentially no temptation to text or call while driving.

The app also offers a group function that could serve you well for purposes other than driving. Think about that next pub crawl or a friend running a road race.

AAA projects more than 36 million Americans will travel during the Memorial Day weekend.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 



Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Groupon Among Worst for Password Security]]> Thu, 22 May 2014 12:10:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/password.jpg

As online users continue to face password and security threats, most recently highlighted by this year’s Heartbleed scare, it has become even more important to ensure your passwords aren’t so easy to crack.

According to a new survey from Dashlane, a password management company, many of today’s popular websites, including Chicago's Groupon, aren’t setting the bar very high when it comes to password requirements.

The study used 22 password criteria to judge more than 80 websites and researchers found more than 86 percent had “subpar” policies.

“Many failed to implement even the bare minimum standard security practices, leaving consumer data across the web dangerously susceptible,” Dashlane said in a release.

Among one of the lowest ranked sites was Groupon, which even allowed “password” to be a user’s password.

Some of the other sites to receive a low grade in the study included Match.com, Hulu, Overstock, Amazon, Orbitz, US Airways and Victoria’s Secret.

Match.com, 1800Flowers and Fab even allowed users to create new accounts using only the letter “a” as the password.

Apple had the highest rating in the study and was the only website to receive a perfect score. Hotmail, Microsoft Store, UPS, Target, GoDaddy and Yahoo Mail also ranked high in the results.

The study found that 66 percent of the websites reviewed don’t require alphanumeric passwords, and 51 percent don’t lock accounts after 10 failed login attempts.

In a time when security breaches are on the rise, it's ever more important to rely on a complex password, and apparently not on the requirements from a website.

That means no more "abc123."

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<![CDATA[Top Google Doodles]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 17:02:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Google-Doodle-Winner.jpg Since 1998, Google has created over 1000 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.]]> <![CDATA[Tour Our Solar System in 30 Minutes]]> Fri, 16 May 2014 13:10:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/destination-solar-system-1.jpg The Adler Planetarium's new immersion experience, Destination Solar System, is the result of years of research. NBC Chicago's Alicia Roman offers a preview.]]> <![CDATA[Zuckerberg Sued By Real Estate Developer]]> Tue, 13 May 2014 20:44:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/zuckrberg.JPG

The developer didn't build it -- and help from Mark Zuckerberg never came.

That's what one Palo Alto real estate developer claims.

So the developer, Mircea Voskerician, is suing the Facebook CEO, claiming that Zuckerberg reneged on a promise to send Voskerician business after Voskerician agreed to sell the tech titan a key piece of property, according to reports.

It all began when Zuckerberg set about buying $43 million worth of real estate in a preservation-minded spending spree, the San Jose Mercury News reported

Zuckerberg was troubled by the idea of new homes near his Crescent Park spread in 2012 and 2013, and wanted to buy up the empty lots to keep them empty.

Voskerician agreed to sell to Zuckerberg a Hamilton Avenue property for $1.7 million, agreeing that Zuckerberg would in exchange help steer other real estate business Voskerician's way, according to the lawsuit.

Voskerician says that the $1.7 million bill was a "discount," the newspaper reported, and that Zuckerberg "blew him off'" after the sale was done.

An attorney for the tech mogul says that Zuckerberg had no such deal in place and that the lawsuit is "just meritless."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Motorola Unveils New Moto E for $129]]> Tue, 13 May 2014 11:49:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Moto_E_Black_Front_Dyn_Black.jpg

Motorola is continuing its trend of offering up higher quality smartphones for a lower price, and their latest release could be the best deal yet.

At a mere $129 without a contract, the new Moto E is the cheapest of any of its predecessors-- the Moto X ran for around $350 and the Moto G for $179.

Motorola, the company that first introduced the cellphone, has fallen behind some of its competitors in the smartphone era, but it appears the company may now be appealing to a different market.

The release of the Moto X marked the start of what would be an attractive option for those who wanted a better quality smartphone without the high price of some of Motorola’s top competitors. The phone was quickly followed by the Moto G, a more basic option for an even lower price, which became the best-selling smartphone in Motorola history.

It would appear the company’s latest release, the Moto E, combines the ideals of the two phones before it, offering up some basic features with a few luxuries for a fraction of the price for an average smartphone.

“We believe it’s time the feature phone era came to an end and that quality smartphones are made accessible and affordable for all,” the company said in a statement.

The phone doesn’t come without compromise, however, with 3G connectivity, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, but no front-facing lens, and a 4.3-inch display with 256 pixels per inch that doesn’t quite match the high-res quality featured by some competing smartphones.

Among the phone’s many promising features is a Gorilla Glass screen with a water-resistant splash guard, a long-lasting 1980 mAh battery, and the latest version of the popular mobile platform Android 4.4 KitKat.

It also boats a microSD slot and a built-in FM radio.

The phone appears to be focused on a more global audience, intending to bring the possibility of smartphones to the hands of those who may have not have had the option before.

“The fact is, about 70 percent of mobile phone users in the world are still using feature phones that can’t unlock the full wonder of the mobile Internet,” according to a release from Motorola. “In many cases it’s because they don’t think it’s worth the $337 for a smartphone.”

The global approach sparked during the company’s time with Google, but whether this strategy will continue once Google sells Motorola to Lenovo is unclear.



Photo Credit: Motorola]]>
<![CDATA[Netflix Hikes Price $1 More a Month]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 08:26:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Netflix-logo-new.jpg

Netflix will raise its monthly subscription rate $1 to $8.99, but current subscribers will get a two-year reprieve, according to reports.

Netflix sent its subscribers an email about the price hike which will  affect new subscribers, according to CNET. After 24 months, current subscribers who now pay $7.99 a month will also have to pay the $8.99 price. Netflix said the price hike is necessary to expand its offerings.

New pricing will also take effect in the United Kingdom where monthly rates will also go up £1 per month, as well as €1 more in the rest of Europe. The lower price for current subscribers is likely to prevent its users from jumping ship. From the Netflix letter, "As a thank you for being a member of Netflix already, we guarantee that your plan and price will not change for two years."

The streaming service has previously created its own content, including the critically-acclaimed  Kevin Spacey vehicle, "House of Cards" and women's prison dramedy "Orange is the New Black.."
The company had talked about raising rates last month, mainly to pay for its new content. 

When Netflix last raised rates in 2011, customers revolted and quit the service. Netflix took a more measured approach in 2014 to not alienate its current customer base..



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Top 10 Words People Tweet About Their Moms]]> Fri, 09 May 2014 14:10:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mother%27sdaypic.jpg

How would you describe your mom?

In honor of Mother’s Day, Twitter published a list on its blog of the top 10 words and phrases people have tweeted this year about their mothers.

"Happy" topped the list, which was ranked by the number of times a word or phrase has been used in a tweet since Jan. 1. Here's the full list:

1. Happy
2. The best
3. My life
4. My everything
5. Beautiful
6. Proud
7. Pretty
8. Amazing
9. My world
10. Strong

Twitter also shared an interactive map to show the popularity of tweets about mothers in countries around the world. The geotagged tweets were based on Mother's Day mentions in 10 languages.

Mother’s Day is Sunday in the U.S. Other countries celebrate their own version of the holiday at different times from February through March.

In other Mother's Day social news, the hashtag #MomQuotes began trending on Twitter on Wednesday after “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon asked viewers to send in tweets of “funny, weird or embarrassing” things that their moms have said.

Check out the best ones that he featured on Thursday's show here.


 



Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend Web: NoWait App For Restaurants]]> Fri, 09 May 2014 10:20:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007068149_1200x675_246041667847.jpg Charlie Wojciechowski introduces a new, free smart phone app that allows potential diners to remotely add their name to the wait list for a table at dozens of Chicago-area restaurants, including the ones located in the recently opened Eataly.]]> <![CDATA[Film Studio Targets Illegal Downloaders]]> Fri, 02 May 2014 07:43:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Voltage_illegal_downloads.jpg

The story begins for hundreds of Chicago consumers with a letter from their internet service provider, and the news isn't good. The ISP is letting them know a lawsuit has been filed against them, alleging copyright infringement by a movie studio or other entertainment company.

"You should consult an attorney immediately" begins the expensive journey into the world of file-sharing, or 'torrents,' where computer users illegally download movies and share them. It is a world some moviemakers studios want to extinguish.

In just one example of the tide of litigation, scores of defendants in Chicago and the suburbs, named only by their Internet Protocol addresses, are named in 27 separate lawsuits filed by Voltage Pictures assusing them of illegally downloading the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyer's Club. The fine they could face if found liable of the one download: $150,000, per a 1976 copyright law that was aimed at preventing bootlegging.

"The error rate, or number of people who are innocent and targeted, I think, is unfairly high," attorney Jeffrey Antonelli told NBC 5 Investigates.

Antonelli has defended hundreds of consumers accused of piracy, with plaintiffs who range from mainstream moviemakers to pornography distributors, and defendants whose age and demos run the gamut. He says innocent consumers are swept by the multi-defendant filings, often people who have wireless routers and no clue who could have tapped into their service and downloaded movies.

"The problem with these suits," Antonelli says, "it's just so expensive and time-consuming to be cleared. A lot of people feel the burden is too high and would rather settle, even if they're innocent."

The cost to defend a suit is $25,000 to $50,000. Many settle for about $5,000.

"I call it the legal extortion of people," anonymous blogger "John Doe" said. He spoke to NBC5 on the condition of anonymity. He's been sued by movie studios for copyright infringement, and now blasts the industry and its lawyers on his blog www.dietrolldie.com." "Troll" is the pejorative term used by some critics of lawyers who file the multi-defendant lawsuits against consumers.

"This is all about the money. This has nothing to do with copyright infringement and their actions completely show that," he says.

Just do the math: with hundreds of defendants accused of downloading all manner of movies, studios stand to cash in even if only a percentage agree to settle. Critics say the plaintiffs rarely, if ever, go after the "seeders" -- the person who first posts the material for sharing.

Chicago attorney Antonelli says lawmakers need to update the 1976 law to reflect current-day trends, including the popular torrents involved in this case.

Attorneys for Voltage would not comment on the litigation, except to say it involves a "serious matter."

An industry group which represents six major motion picture companies says its members go after websites that engage in large-scale piracy, but does not sue based on individual IP addresses, like in the Voltage suit.

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