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5 hacks to keep your smartphone charged during a power outage

A smartphone can be a lifeline in a storm, but it's useless without power. Fortunately, there's never been more ways to keep a smartphone juiced up

Here are some easy ways to keep your phone in the green if you lose power: 

>> PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew

1. Charge up every laptop in your home. If you lose power, turn a laptop on (but don't unlock the screen) and use your iPhone or Android cable to charge your phone via the USB ports. Most newer laptops can charge a smartphone multiple times. 

>> 'Creepy' skull satellite image of Hurricane Matthew has people freaking out

2. Keep your phone on "Low Power Mode." This setting will use far less juice. On an iPhone, go to "Settings," scroll down to "Battery" and turn on "Low Power Mode." On an Android, swipe down from the top menu and find the "Power Saving" icon. 

3. Use your car to charge your phone. Most newer cars have a USB port – or two. Even if your car is out of fuel, you can turn it on and charge it using the car battery. It's a last resort, but if you have a newer car battery, it will charge a phone multiple times easily.

>> Central Florida cruises rerouted because of Hurricane Matthew

4. Buy an external charger if you don't have one; most drug stores have them. Portable smartphone battery chargers are getting better and less expensive. Most drug store chains have them near the counter, but you will pay more for the convenience. But if you need one right now, that is a good place to look. 

Companies such as Anker and Aukey sell high-quality, high capacity chargers on Amazon. Consider buying one before the next storm. Some of the new one have capacities approaching 30,000 mAh, which is enough to charge an phone over five times. 

>> Read more trending stories

5. Still have power but want to charge a phone quickly without using a wall socket? Plug it into the USB port on your TV. Most newer TVs have one. 

Companies don't have to tell you when they're hacked, but that might change

Lawmakers are considering several pieces of legislation that would require notifying customers when their personal information is compromised in a data breach.

>> Read more trending stories

The push for setting a national standard for notification comes weeks after Yahoo announced more than 500 million accounts were hacked in 2014. The company did not notify customers for two years.

Some privacy and consumer advocates argue legislation isn't the answer.

>> Related: Yahoo confirms hack of 500 million users

Jim Harper, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says there are cases when it may not be best for companies to notify people about each and every time they are hacked.

"You want to notify people when they can do something to protect themselves," Harper said.  "When data is breached, notifying may just concern (consumers) because they can't do anything about it."

Harper says the focus should be on holding companies accountable to keep their users' information secure.

>> Related: Yahoo hack: What do you do if your account was hacked?

"It's not a matter of federal regulation but common law litigation," he said. "Nothing the government can do now can fix this these problems. They're too complex for a single standard especially from the federal government."

Ed Mierzwinski, of the consumer advocacy group tje U.S. Public Interest Research Group, says consumers need to take their digital security into their own hands. He says that includes using passwords which include letters, numbers and symbols.

>> Related: Brad Pitt death hoax could open accounts to hackers

"Consumer groups recommend a security freeze, which is sometimes called a credit freeze, that locks the door on your credit report so no one can get in," Mierzwinski said.

He said the legislation could end up doing more to protect the companies that allowed the information to be stolen instead of the people that are victimized. He thinks state laws already protect the consumer and any federal action by Congress would weaken those protections.

>> Related: Foreign hackers target US election systems

"The strongest state laws say if 'you lose your information, tell your customers,'" Mierzwinski said. "The company that lost your info wants the right to decide when it's been lost and we disagree with that."

Congress could take up notification legislation during the lame duck session after the election.

Toyota made a tiny robot to keep you company on your commute

This is Kirobo Mini, and he's your new best friend.

While other car companies have been busy making self-driving vehicles, Toyota was busy making this little guy. The car giant wants Kirobo Mini to keep you company while you drive. 

>> Read more trending stories

Kirobo Mini is part of the Toyota Heart Project, which aims to get humans and artificial intelligence working together in everyday life.

The bot is only 10 centimeters high and small enough to fit in a cup holder. The mini companion can talk, make gestures and respond to emotions — which is great for those days when you just need to have an emotional breakdown behind the wheel.

Kirobo Mini is actually the second companion to come from Toyota. A larger version of Kirobo went on a space mission in 2013 to see if robots and humans can coexist for extended periods of time.

But for those of us back on Earth who really, really want a cool robot buddy — Kirobo Mini will hit the market next year for about $400.

Why are electronics like Galaxy Notes exploding?

Samsung said it has collected more than 60 percent of all the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in the U.S. and South Korea.

A worldwide recall of the phones was issued earlier this month because the batteries can start fires while charging.

>> Read more trending stories  

The company plans to release a new version of the phone at the end of this week.

But phones aren't the only gadgets that have been malfunctioning. A Delta flight was diverted last weekend when a tablet burst into flames.

And last Christmas' must-have, the hoverboard, was banned by airlines after many of them caught fire. There have also been numerous stories of e-cigarettes exploding and burning smokers.

All of the items are powered by lithium batteries.

Wentworth Institute of Technology assistant engineering professor Aaron Carpenter showed WFXT what happens inside a phone before it bursts into flames.

To do that, he forced the short circuit of an AA battery. Just like the batteries found in a smartphone, the battery has a positive side and a negative side.

When they're able to connect, a fire ensues.

The battery inside many electronic devices is much stronger than a lithium ion battery, with a thin piece of plastic that helps protect the battery from fire.

When the piece of plastic breaks down, the chemicals on either side react, sparking flames.

Carpenter told WFXT that there are two reasons why it happens. In the case of the Samsung recall, it's a manufacturing error.

In the case of hoverboards, it's likely that the toy has been banged around, cracking the battery's separator.

Carpenter said scientists are always working to make batteries more powerful.

"Everyone wants to be able to have their phone last longer and charge faster," he said.

Ramping up that ability means that scientists are constantly tinkering with strong chemicals, powering dozens of items that we use every day.

"As things are getting more compressed and concentrated, we're more likely to have these kinds of issues," Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the chance of catastrophic failure is very small -- less than one in 1 million.

Yahoo confirms hack of 500 million users

Yahoo has confirmed reports that millions of its users have had information compromised when "certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor."

>> Read more trending stories

The company said that the ongoing investigation, which involves law enforcement, has uncovered that information associated with at least 500 million accounts has been stolen.

"The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers," the company said in a statement Thursday.

"The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected."

Customers are encouraged to review their accounts for suspicious activity and change their password, security questions and answers for other accounts that may be similar to Yahoo accounts, especially if they have not done so since 2014. Yahoo also asks customers to consider using a Yahoo Account Key, which it says eliminates the need to use a password.

The company is notifying users. More information is at the company's Security Issue FAQs page.

Navigation app Waze now helps users find parking spots

Waze, an app that compiles user information and tips to give the best GPS route, is now helping users find the best parking spot.

>> Read more trending stories

The Verge reported that in order for Waze to do so, the Google-owned app has partnered with transportation data firm INRIX.

The feature, called "where to park," suggests parking closest to the destination, according to a news release from INRIX.

If users do not select parking before travelling to their destination, the app will give them the option to select navigation to parking as they get closer to their location of choice.

Waze's "where to park" feature is available on iOS and Android.

Robots could take 6 percent of US jobs by 2021

Robots are taking over the work world, but that doesn't mean machines will take everyone's jobs -- for now.

A study by Forrester Research found 6 percent of all U.S. jobs will be replaced by robots by 2021, starting with those in customer service.

>> Read more trending stories  

Forrester found that eventually, robots will take over most craftsmen and factory jobs. They'll also come for taxi and truck drivers. Uber is already at the forefront of that innovation.

While these robots can be good for companies looking to cut costs and increase efficiency, where does that leave employees who get the boot?

The argument for a more automated workforce is that it will create new jobs in robot creation and robot management.

But that argument can really only apply to those capable of becoming engineers. Not everyone can create artificial intelligence software.

And there's not a lot anyone can do to stop artificial intelligence from seeping into the work world.

McDonald's has been using self-service ordering kiosks in various locations since last year. Other food chains followed suit.

Presently, most robots are basic in function. They can take commands, like Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri. But over the next several years, those robots will learn how to do even more.

That includes the ability to predict human behavior and figure out complex scenarios.

For now, it appears jobs that require physical interaction, like management, are in the clear, along with jobs that can be unpredictable, like construction work, but for how long is unclear.

Florida man sues after Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explodes in pocket

A 28-year-old man whose Galaxy Note7 exploded in his pocket while at work in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, this month has filed a lawsuit against Samsung, according to his lawyer.

>> Read more trending stories

Keith Pierro, a partner with Gold and Gold Law based in Boca Raton and Miami, said his client, Jonathan Strobel, suffered severe and "deep second-degree burns" on his right thigh and thumb when the phone exploded. He said hours after the incident, Strobel received an email from Samsung telling him to turn in his phone because of issues with the device overheating.

The lawsuit — which Pierro thinks is one of the first in the country — requests $15,000 in compensatory damages and was filed Friday morning.

"Samsung is a big corporation and they control the information that's put out. They obviously knew what was wrong (with the phone)," he said. "Unfortunately for Mr. Strobel, it was too late for the mandatory recall."

>> Related: CPSC says you should stop using the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung issued a voluntary exchange of the smartphone on Sept. 2 following reports of some batteries overheating and catching fire. Soon after, the company issued an unprecedented recall saying all owners of the phone must shut down the device because they "can overheat and pose a safety risk." In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning asking airplane passengers to not use or charge their Galaxy Note7 devices on planes.

On the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website, officials cite 92 reported cases of the Samsung phone overheating. Of those incidents, there were 26 reported burns and 55 cases of property damage including "fires in cars and a garage."

On Sept. 9, Strobel was working at Costco at 3250 Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens when the phone he placed in his right pocket exploded, according to the complaint. Pierro said when Strobel realized what was happening, he attempted to remove the phone from his pocket and burned his thumb in the process. Soon after, he was able to take his pants off and be treated. Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue previously told The Palm Beach Post the phone appeared to have melted inside his pants.

>> Related: Samsung Note 7 recalled over exploding batteries

Strobel was one of dozens of Galaxy Note7 device owners who have had their phones catch fire in recent days, and he's not the only one in Florida.

On Sept. 8, a man's Jeep caught fire in St. Petersburg as he charged the phone in the vehicle. He told investigators he went inside to drop some things off and when he walked outside, his car was in flames. Less than a week later, Port St. Lucie Police responded to a car fire where the driver told investigators he had been charging his Galaxy Note7 before the fire began on Sept. 13

Pierro said when Strobel first told him about the incident, he thought the injuries wouldn't be terrible.

"This can't be as bad as it sounds … Then I saw the injury," he said. "He's in the healing process, but it's going to be a long road."

Messages left with Strobel were not returned Saturday. On his Facebook page, Strobel's profile picture is an Apple logo with the text: "The new iPhone7: It doesn't explode."

You can now block 'inappropriate' comments on Instagram

A new update to image-focused social media network Instagram allows users to block "inappropriate comments" with a feature that is being referred to as a "keyword moderation tool."

>> Read more trending stories  

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom announced the addition in a blog post Monday, saying that he and co-founder Mike Krieger "want to work diligently to maintain what has kept Instagram positive and safe, especially in the comments on your photos and videos."

"The beauty of the Instagram community is the diversity of its members," Systrom wrote. "All different types of people from diverse backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and more call Instagram home, but sometimes the comments on their posts can be unkind."

The new tool allows users to block certain content by filtering comments that appear on photos by entering keywords they find offensive or inappropriate.

Comments with those words will be hidden from users' posts. Those comments won't be deleted from the platform, and others who don't record the same words as inappropriate will still see them.

Users can enter specific words by clicking the gear at the top right hand corner of their profile page, clicking "Comments" and then turning on the "Hide Inappropriate Comments" gear. Users who turn the gear on but don't enter specific words will not see "default words" provided by Instagram.

Users can also already swipe to report and delete comments and can block accounts.

Systrom said that he is committed to "(working) towards keeping Instagram a safe place for self-expression" and to "keep building features that safeguard the community and maintain what makes Instagram a positive and creative place for everyone."

Apple customers complain about iPhone 'touch disease'

Many Apple customers are reporting problems with their iPhones, saying the new 6 and 6 Plus models have what's being called "touch disease."

It happens when the screen freezes up and you can't reboot the phone, rendering the device useless.

Eric Lindstrom practically runs his entire business on his iPhone 6 Plus. He's a social media manager for several clients.

>> Read more trending stories  

"Approximately 10 months ago my touchscreen started acting very strange, totally unresponsive," he said. "And I'm getting the flicker now too, which is another evidence of the problem. The phone just starts to flash a white bar."

WSOC Action 9 found similar complaints all over social media.

Some customers are even suing Apple over it, accusing the company of fraud. They said the phones have a defect and that Apple knew about it.

Apparently, Apple designed earlier iPhones differently, but the company changed the design for the 6 and 6 Plus, a change that may have made those models more prone to touch disease.

CLICK HERE to read the lawsuit

Lindstrom said Apple told him to delete everything on his phone and add it all back on, one at a time. Not only was that a hassle, he said it didn't work.

He told WSOC Action 9 that Apple then tried to sell him a new touchscreen for $200. He declined.

"You know, first world problems I guess. I feel sort of bad about what I'm complaining about," Lindstrom said. But he also feels bad his phone doesn't work.

WSOC Action 9 reached out to Apple three times in the past 10 days, but the company has not responded.

Published reports claim that the company will give you a refurbished replacement if your iPhone is still under warranty. Hopefully, that one doesn't have "touch disease" too. If it's not under warranty, WSOC Action 9 is told the repair runs between $85 and $249.

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