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Friday
Jan122018

National parks free to all on Martin Luther King Day 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- On just four days in 2018, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. And one of those days is coming up.

Jan. 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

April 21: First day of National Park Week

Sept. 22: National Public Lands Day

Nov. 11: Veterans Day

The fee-free days "provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the national parks that normally charge an entrance fee," according to the National Parks Service.

Of the 400 national parks in the United States, 118 charge a fee.

The others are free all the time. The waiver on fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

The four free days in 2018 marks a decrease in the number of such days from years past. There were 10 free days in 2017 and 16 in 2016.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

What happens when an iPhone X is dropped?

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- The iPhone X is Apple’s most advanced smartphone and also the most expensive at $999 a pop.

Many tech bloggers have written articles and posted videos online saying they’re worried about damaging the phone, because it has a glass on the front and back.

Apple advertises on its website that all three of its new phones -- the 8, 8 Plus and X -- are built with “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back.”

"Good Morning America" set up our own drop challenge with the iPhone X to see how it held up after being dropped from three different heights.

The three heights consisted of a pocket-height drop –- about 3 feet -- a selfie drop –- roughly 5 feet -- and a 3-story drop from the roof of the event venue The Terrace in Paramus, New Jersey.

We dropped all three of the iPhone Xs face down.

First, the pocket drop from about 3 feet. It’s a pretty realistic scenario as you pull your phone out of your pocket and, whoops, it falls.

The results: A couple of little dings but, on the whole, the phone looks fine.

Second, the selfie drop from about 5 feet.

The results: No cracks, not shattered, only minor scratches.

Third, an extreme drop from a rooftop that is 3 stories up.

The results: The back looks perfect, but when we flip it over, the screen is completely smashed.

“I expected the 3-foot drop to get about what we got," said Nick Guy of the product review site Wirecutter. "I thought from the 5-foot drop that we would see more damage than we did, but the 5-foot drop turned out just fine."

He continued, "Of course, the 3-story drop, I think that’s what I expected.”

To check if any interior components had been damaged, we had Jessa Jones owner of independent repair shop iPad Rehab pull the phones apart. She put them through a function test, including checking the cameras and microphones.

The phones we dropped from the 3 and 5 feet distances seemed fine. The cameras were well secured and everything was working normally, according to Jones.

The phone dropped from the roof had a trashed screen and made some odd noises. While the interior parts looked OK, when we put an undamaged screen on it, the camera no longer functioned.

"It seems to have survived a fairly monumental drop with fairly minor damage,” Jones said.

Even after the three drops, there is still one more challenge, according to Jones.

"I’m going to reserve judgment until it withstands the test of time," she said.

Some experts recommend buying Apple’s insurance coverage AppleCare to cover any damages. It costs $199 for the iPhone X.

If you break the glass and have AppleCare, the repair costs $29 for the front and $99 for the back.

Without AppleCare, the price at Apple is $279 to replace the front glass and $549 if you break the back glass.

Wirecutter also has its top picks for iPhone X cases.

The site recommends the Anker Karapax Touch case at $8.99. A good leather option, according to Wirecutter, is Apple’s leather case at $49.

For what it considers a more protective option, Wirecutter picks the Speck Presidio Grip at $39.95. Wirecutter gets a percentage of money from retailers for products sold through links in its articles.


Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Facebook changing News Feed to increase 'meaningful interactions'

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) --  Facebook is changing its site so that users can have “more meaningful social interactions,” according to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a Facebook post on Thursday evening, Zuckerberg wrote that there will be several changes made to the site over the next few months. The first changes will be in Facebook’s News Feed, where users will see more content from friends and family instead of businesses and brands.

“Since there's more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do -- help us connect with each other,” wrote Zuckerberg.

According to Zuckerberg, these changes are in response to user’s complaints that their News Feed has become overcrowded with public content.

Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri went into more detail about the exact updates in a statement, explaining that Facebook will predict which posts users might want to interact with their friends about, and show these posts higher in News Feed.

“[Prioritized posts] are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to- whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.” said Mosseri.

The same concept applies for posts from individual pages. Page posts that generate conversation will be placed higher in News Feed, according to Mosseri.

“For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook,” said Mosseri. “Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

Facebook will also show fewer videos from publishers and businesses, which may have an impact on pages with posts that people don’t generally react to or comment on, according to Mosseri.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has conducted research showing that connecting with people through social media can be good for the user’s well-being.

“We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health,” Zuckerberg wrote. “On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos -- even if they're entertaining or informative -- may not be as good.

“Facebook has always been about personal connections,” Zuckerberg added. “By focusing on bringing people closer together -- whether it's with family and friends, or around important moments in the world -- we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Ford tells owners of 2006 Rangers to stop driving them due to potentially deadly airbag issue

SensSnoW/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ford is urging its customers not to drive 3,000 of its 2006 model year Ranger vehicles in North America, saying the vehicles have airbag inflators that pose a higher risk of rupturing in the event of a collision.

In a statement, the company says it takes the issue "very seriously" and is telling drivers of the vehicles to "stop driving their vehicles so dealers can make repairs immediately." The parts necessary for permanent repair are available immediately, Ford says, and dealers will be able to provide loaner vehicles where necessary.

The action was prompted by two deaths caused by faulty airbag inflators from Takata, both of which were built on the same day.

Ford has isolated the problem to 2006 Ford Rangers built at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant between August 10, 2005 and December 15, 2005.

Ford has a listed of VIN numbers of the affected vehicles on their website.

Takata airbags have been linked to more than a dozen deaths in the U.S.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Wall Street posts big gains, bouncing back from Wednesday's losses

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a down day on Wednesday, Wall Street rebounded in a big way Thursday, nearing record closes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed nearly one percent, adding 205.6 to a close of 25,574.73.

The Nasdaq gained 58.21 on the day, finishing trading at 7,211.78, while the S&P 500 ended the session at 2,767.56, 19.33 higher than it began the day.

The Internal Revenue Service is working on what you'll pay in taxes next year. The bureau's new federal withholding calculator was posted on its website today. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the changes will result in bigger paychecks for many Americans by February.

WalMart announced that it is giving some of its employees raises. The company says the new tax reform law will allow it to raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour. The company also said, however, that it would close dozens of Sam's Club locations in the coming months.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

No long walks and cleanup required for Sony's new robot dog 

(ABC News) Sony unveiled Monday the new "aibo" autonomous entertainment robot dog. (LAS VEGAS) -- Man’s best friend has just become more bionic.

Sony unveiled Monday the new “aibo” autonomous entertainment robot that “brings fun and joy to the entire family,” Sony President and COO Mike Fasulo told ABC News.

“We were thinking companions, we were thinking how do you take on artificial intelligence and bring emotion to people’s lives,” Fasulo said. “Look at them, they’re adorable!”

The robotic dog can form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing love and affection. No cleanup required.

Besides its adorable appearance, the robotic dog possesses a natural curiosity, vibrant movements and a responsiveness to its owner. It will even develop its own unique personality through everyday interactions as it grows closer and closer to its owners. And just like a real life dog, it may or may not respond to an owner’s request.

This robotic dog will also be able to actively seek out its owners, detect words of praise, smile and let its owner pet and scratch it, allowing the dog to learn and remember what actions make its owners happy.

The robotic companion comes with the “My aibo App,” which is designed to help owners enjoy life with their “aibo” by providing support and convenience, access to photos taken by the dog as well as a feature to play with a virtual “aibo” inside the app. The app also features a store where users can add additional tricks to their “aibo.”

Sony said the dog will require an “aibo” basic plan subscription necessary to utilize the dog. The plan will allow users to access information stored on the cloud, and will also allow users to be able to back up the dog’s data periodically.

This mechanical take on man’s best friend will cost roughly $1,700 and is now available for pre-order.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts hires a bug-sniffing puppy to protect its collections

Boston Museum of Fine Arts (BOSTON) --  You've heard of drug-sniffing dogs. But bug-sniffing dogs? Yes, they are part of the canine workforce too.

On Wednesday, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts introduced its newest employee: Riley, a Weimaraner puppy, who is being trained to sniff out bugs and other critters that could potentially damage valuable artwork at the museum, reported ABC affiliate WCVB.

The museum's deputy director, Katie Getchell, told The Boston Globe that insects are an ongoing concern for museums. Riley will add another layer and help sniff out pests that humans can't see.

"Weimaraners are incredibly smart and have a powerful sense of smell," said Nicki Luongo, director of the museum's protective services department, at a press conference Wednesday. Riley won't live at the museum, either. He will live with Luongo instead.

Although Riley seemed to relish the attention he received at his first work event, the museum said visitors won't see the pup roaming the halls along with the Monets and Rembrandts. He will be used behind the scenes.

And it seems like Riley was born to do this work.

The American Kennel Club said Weimaraners have "good scenting ability, courage and intelligence" and are "excellent game hunters."

Even if the hunt is for bugs.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Teen's social media post saves family's bakery on the brink of closing after Hurricane Harvey

ABCNews.com(HOUSTON) -- Sometime after Hurricane Harvey hit in August, the owner of La Casa Bakery and Café in Houston found himself in dire straits.

The shop had survived the floods but business had tanked. Trinidad Garza, the baker and owner, told his wife that he was preparing to sell it.

His daughter Jackie Garza, 18, distraught that her father, a longtime baker, planned to get rid of the family business, came up with an idea.

On Dec. 6, Jackie Garza posted a video online of Trinidad Garza in the bakery and shared it on Twitter, telling people about her father's situation.

"He's been thinking of closing, but I can't let that happen," she said.

She implored those on Twitter to spread the word about La Casa Bakery and Café. Just one retweet, she said, “could bring in a potential customer.”

The result of that social media post was overwhelming.

"By the time, I was at work, I was like '1,000 [retweets]?" Jackie Garza told ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV. "I didn't think it was going to grow."

But grow it did. There were thousands of retweets and soon people were lined up outside the bakery, even posting their trips to Twitter.

"I heard that the store owner was thinking about closing it down," Chantile Hermosilla, a first-time customer, said. "I was like, 'Oh, I kinda don't want that to happen.'"

Trinidad Garza, in his 70s, said he was incredibly grateful -– and a little surprised.

"I didn’t even know to use it," he said about Twitter.

For now, he doesn't have to worry about learning –- his daughter Jackie Garza has created several social media accounts for the bakery.

The Garzas are busy keeping up with the demand at their bakery and happy to be back at work.

ABC News' affiliate KTRK-TV contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan102018

Coca-Cola to unveil four new flavors of Diet Coke in colorful cans

Coca-Cola Company(NEW YORK) -- In an effort to better reach young customers, Coca-Cola is preparing to roll out four new flavors of its zero-calorie offering, as well as colorful new packaging.

In a press release put out on Wednesday, Coca-Cola said that the original Diet Coke will not be reformulated, but that new additions to the Diet Coke brand would make their debut this month.

Coca-Cola North America's group director for Diet Coke Rafael Acevedo said the changes are being made in an effort to "stay true to the essence fo Diet Coke while recasting the brand for a new generation."

The company says it tested more than 30 flavor combinations, ultimately settling on Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, and Twisted Mango.

“Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar are two delicious, no-calorie sparkling choices – it’s just a matter of personal preference, Acevedo said. "For people looking for an option that tastes like a Coca-Cola, Coke Zero Sugar is a great choice. Diet Coke and its expanded flavor portfolio provide a crisper taste and bolder flavors.”

The new cans will be largely silver, with bold vertical colored stripes to represent the flavors within. Coca-Cola hopes the sleek cans will be a hit with a younger crowd, pitching them on Twitter as being Instagram-friendly.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan102018

Power outage at CES lasts more than one hour

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- The Consumer Electronics Show, one of the largest tech trade shows in the world, came to a halt after a power outage at the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday.

The lights went dark just before 11:30 a.m. PT in the convention's Central Hall. The CES official Twitter account said Nevada Power was addressing the outage, and access to the show was being restricted until power could be restored.

Photos and videos posted to social media during the outage showed hundreds of people milling around the darkened and quiet convention halls. An announcement over the loudspeakers told convention-goers the cause of the outage was being investigated. Many of the high-tech displays showing off the latest electronics were not visible inside the hall.

CES, held every January in Las Vegas, is a major platform for technology companies to debut new products and prototypes. This year’s show continues through Friday.

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