How Foo Yeen/Getty Images(DENVER) – As the mystery of what happened to the 239 people on board Malaysia flight 370 deepens, a Colorado satellite imaging company is launching an effort to crowdsource the search, asking the public for help analyzing high-resolution images for any sign of the missing airliner.
Longmont, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe trained cameras from its five orbiting satellites Saturday on the Gulf of Thailand region, where Malaysia flight 370 was last heard from, said Luke Barrington, senior manager of Geospatial Big Data for DigitalGlobe.
The images being gathered will be made available for free to the public on a website called Tomnod. Anyone can click on the link and begin searching the images, tagging anything that looks suspicious. Each pixel on a computer screen represents half a meter on the ocean’s surface, Barrington told ABC News.
“For people who aren’t able to drive a boat through the Pacific Ocean to get to the Malaysian peninsula, or who can’t fly airplanes to look there, this is a way that they can contribute and try to help out,” Barrington said.
DigitalGlobe will use a computer algorithm to determine whether users start tagging certain regions more than others. In-house satellite imaging experts will follow up on leads, Barrington said.
“We’ll say, ‘Here are our top ten suspicious or interesting locations,’” Barrington said. “Is it really an aircraft wing that’s been chopped in half or is this some other debris floating on the ocean? We may not be 100-percent sure, but if this is where I had to go pick a location to go looking for needles in this big haystack, this is where I’d start.”
The company runs a fee-based First Look Event Service that can compare before-and-after images for clients. In the past month, the company activated the service to observe wildfires in Australia, violence in Ukraine and the aftermath of ice storms in Atlanta, Ga.
In November, the company launched a similar crowdsourcing campaign after Typhoon Haiyan devastated Southeast Asia. The company says users placed more than 400,000 tags, identifying 38,000 damaged buildings and 101,000 damaged homes.
iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- What's it like to live paycheck to paycheck and be unable to gain entry to the financial world that most people take for granted, like checking accounts?
Sunday at the South By Southwest (SXSW) music, film and interactive conference in Austin, Texas, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim tackled the subject, previewing his latest documentary, Spent: Looking for Change.
Guggenheim is known for addressing social causes through his works, with notable films like Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth. With Spent he has trained his lens on the unbanked and underbanked population in America.
Consumers classified as unbanked or underbanked are those who do not rely on traditional banking services, and typically forgo a checking or savings account, opting instead for alternative financial services like check cashing and payday lending as their primary methods for accessing personal funds. In 2011, the FDIC and U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 45,000 households and found that 20.1 percent, or 1 in 5 households, were underbanked, while 8.2 percent, or 1 in 12 households, were unbanked. For most of us, it is hard to imagine how one could not have a basic checking account to manage our daily transactions, but the reality is that despite the availability of banks, the arrangement is simply not financially feasible for some consumers.
Last year, the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (published by the Brookings Institution) found that almost half of all U.S. households could not come up with $2,000 in the event of an emergency. According to a 2011 FDIC survey of unbanked and underbanked households, nearly 70 million Americans are financially underserved by traditional financial services.
"Not having a bank account makes it incredibly difficult to manage your day to day finances, it often means you can't establish credit, and therefore you can't buy a home, finance a car, or take out a student loan," Guggenheim stated in a press release. "Multiply that by tens of millions of people and you can start to see how it's possible that entire communities in the U.S. are systemically excluded from economic freedom that most of us take for granted."
Spent will premiere this summer and is sponsored by American Express. The company currently offers two alternative financial products for the financially underserved, in their "Serve" and "Bluebird" prepaid debit cards. To coincide with the film's release, the Amex "Ventures" division has launched an initiative to finance and spur early-stage tech startups in creating solutions for these consumers. Said Guggenheim, "My hope is this film will shed light on this important issue ... at a time when new technologies are opening up new possibilities to help fix this issue."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street investors took their cues from overseas Monday. China's exports fell by a whopping 18 percent in February, reinforcing fears about the outlook for the world's second-largest economy. Japan, the world's third-biggest economy, lowered its economic growth estimate to less than 1 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 34 points to close at 16,419. The Nasdaq finished the session off 2 points at 4,334.45. The S&P 500 closed down a point at 1,877.17.
The Dow is up nearly 150 percent and the S&P near its all-time high since stocks bottomed out in March 2009.
Chaotic Moon Studios(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The 26-year old intern who was tasered by a stun-gun equipped drone during the South By Southwest festival (SXSW) says he felt "pretty good" about being zapped by his employer.
Jackson Sheehan, 26, is an intern for Chaotic Moon, a four-year-old creative technology studio based in Austin, Texas.
The University of Texas, Austin student is studying computer science and happens to be very fit with a "Superman"-like physique, says William "Whurley" Hurley, chief innovation officer at Chaotic Moon.
Sheehan and four others volunteered to be zapped by a Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone or C.U.P.I.D. But Sheehan was selected as the best fit through a series of physical and medical tests, such as electrocardiographs, to make sure he had no abnormalities that would cause further risk.
To spark a discussion about the rapid growth of technology and the possible uses of it, Hurley said the company is spearheading a series of projects to draw attention to the both terrifying and amazing uses, which are outpacing a public response and regulation.
"You could make something comparable for few thousand dollars," Hurley said.
"It would be manual and not autonomous," he said, adding that anyone can potentially buy a phantom drone for $1,100 to $2,000 that doesn't have enough power to lift much. "This isn’t something of a military-industrial complex budget. These are hobbyist-level budgets."
So how did it feel to be tasered by a drone?
Sheehan said, "If you’ve ever had a muscle cramp, like your calf cramped up -- it’s like that except it's your whole body and there's a vibrating sensation. It pulses. I wouldn’t describe it as painful -- you’re immobile."
Afterward, the project team hosted a celebratory lunch, and Sheehan said he didn't have any physical wounds expect for marks from the darts that stuck in him, which he described as "if you've ever given blood."
"I’ve never had that experience. I've had it in a calf or quad but never my whole body at once," Sheehan said, adding that the public's varied response has been "pretty thrilling."
Because military drones are a hot topic and SXSW is a large global event, Hurley said they decided to bring to life the "fantasy of some people and nightmares of others."
"We wanted to have an educated, well-informed discussion about how people feel about this as a society, or whether you're a police officer or private citizen," Hurley said.
Chaotic Moon's legal department wouldn't let the demo run in an automated fashion, so every aspect of it was controlled by a person. The project was "over-engineered," including safety procedures that included a manual control override for the setting of the charge, Hurley said. The preparation time was about three weeks for a demo that lasted about 30 seconds.
"Demonstrations like these can seem unsettling, but they help us prepare for the future instead of react to it," said Chaotic Moon CEO Ben Lamm. "The technology is already here and seeing it in action like this pushes us to have the conversations we need to have about how to deploy drones responsibly."
Lamm said his team chose to build the stun-copter "because it was one of the more difficult executions" due to the taser blast "and it's one of the first conversations we need to have about rules and regulations."
The next project, Hurley said, will be the "polar opposite" of the stun-copter project, but it will still involve a drone.
"I feel it’s not the regulators or entrepreneurs who should dictate for the rest of us. I think the rest of us need to participate in this discussion," he added.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "March Madness" not only refers to the NCAA basketball finals, but also gas prices in the U.S.
That's because March may be the worst time of the year to buy gas, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. The reason is not political instability and the price of oil abroad.
The hike is driven by refineries that typically undergo seasonal maintenance this time of the year, transitioning to a cleaner burning formula for warmer months from the "winter blend." Many refineries cut production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty, according to AAA.
"While the pump jump is more predictable than picking the final four teams in any college bracket, that also plays true to the end of the madness, which should take place in late April or early May as refinery maintenance ebbs," DeHaan said.
DeHaan said he expects average prices to increase at least 10 cents, though in some areas the rise can be one nickel. In California, a pricey state for gas year-round, the average price could surge 20 cents.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.48, according to the Energy Department's U.S. Energy Information Institute, up about 4 cents from a week ago, but down 28 cents from a year ago.
The Energy Information Institute will release its latest national average price Monday.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The market for wearable devices could be technology’s next goldmine -- and Google wants to be a big part of it.
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android and Chrome, says Google will soon release a free software development kit to firms making watches, fitness gadgets and other wearable devices. The kit would enable wearable software to communicate with the Android operating system.
“Google wants to standardize how those sensors send their data to Android -- and that standardization in turn should allow device manufacturers to opt for Android instead of a custom OS,” reports The Verge.
“We want to develop a set of common protocols by which they can work together,” Pichai told the SXSW conference.
Most of the world’s smartphones run with Android. Google is hoping to do the same thing with the emerging market for wearables, but it may face stiff competition from Apple, Samsung and LG Electronics.
patpitchaya/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Saving your receipts is a really important way to get ready for tax time. And the way we are holding onto those stubs is really starting to evolve.
In the past, many chose to stash their receipts in an empty shoe box.
"The reason so many people used the shoe box method was because the shoe box was handy. You kept it, you know, by your door as you walked in and you'd empty your wallet into it but you didn't go any further," says Richard Gartland of H&R Block.
But now, you can go further. "I know I snap photos of receipts on my smartphone and I'm able to use that," Gartland says.
Tax accountant Janice Hayman tells ABC News Radio smartphone apps can help you stay organized throughout the year.
"As soon as you have a receipt in hand you can use your smartphone or mobile device and take a photo of it," she says. This scans the receipt.
Then, using the app you can select a category for it.
"You'll be able to run a report at the end of the month and download it to your desktop if you'd like," Hayman says.
She uses an app called TaxPocket but there are many other ones to choose from.
Robyn Mackenzie/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two British men claim they've come up with a gadget that literally can turn water into wine.
According to their website, Miracle Machine uses an inexpensive packet of "grape concentrate, yeast, and [other] ingredients," that when combined with plain old water, can produce various vintages that "rival some of the best wines on the planet."
The device -- the brainchild of two wine industry veterans Kevin Boyer and Philip James -- will be integrated with a smartphone app that monitors the three-day wine-making process. They say the gizmo will "change the face of wine production forever," as it can turn $3 worth of ingredients into a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot, or Chardonnay that tastes like a $24 off-the-shelf brand.
Ten other types of wine will reportedly follow within weeks after the device is made available to the public.
The partners are looking to Kickstarter to raise $1 million to build 2,000 machines, which will reportedly cost just under $500 if they meet their fundraising goal.
Photo by Getty Images(DETROIT) -- William Clay Ford Sr., the last living grandson of Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions died of pneumonia on Sunday at age 88.
Ford served Ford Motor Company for 57 years, both as an employee and a board member. He was elected chairman of the Design Committee in 1957, and held that position until 1989. Ford had retired from the Board of Directors in 2005 and had served as a Director Emeritus ever since.
In addition to his position at Ford Motor Company and ownership of the Detroit Lions, Ford also was the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Henry Ford Museum from 1951 to 1983, a director of the Detroit Economic Club and a national trustee for the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America.
Ford Motor Company locations throughout the U.S. will lower their American and Ford flags to half-staff for the next 30 days.
Photo by Tim Matsui/Newsmakers(NEW YORK) -- Boeing Co., the world's largest planemaker, will instate a pension freeze for 68,000 non-union employees and executives by 2016, in a plan that aims to cut company costs.
According to Bloomberg News, the planemaker will shift benefit payments to a 401(k)-style plan effective Jan. 1, 2016. Employees will be able to keep accruals already made to their pensions. Employees hired since 2009 -- and members of 28 unions -- are already on the new 401(k)-style plan.
Boeing's expenses in the last year reportedly came in at $3.45 billion, the third most among U.S. corporations, Bloomberg News says.
In a statement, Tony Parasida, senior vice president of Human Resources and Administration for Boeing, said that the goal is to contribute to retirement funds for their employees, "while also assuring our competitiveness by curbing the unsustainable growth of our long-term pension liability."
As part of a transition to the new retirement plans, Boeing will contribute amounts equal to nine percent of employees' eligible income in 2016, eight percent in 2017 and seven percent in 2018. After 2018, the company will contribute three to five percent of employees' eligible income annually depending on age.
Employees will also receive free, personal retirement counseling for two years and access to seminars and online retirement planning tools.
Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Actor Ray Liotta claims in a lawsuit that he's never heard of a skincare company that he alleges is using his face in a "before-and-after" advertising photo.
Liotta alleges Nerium International violates his privacy rights under California law and he accuses the firm of false endorsement and unfair competition under federal law. Liotta seeks compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction against Nerium, according to his lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles federal court this week.
“I’ve never even heard of Nerium, let alone used their products,” Liotta said in a statement after filing the lawsuit. "They can deal with these doctored photos in court.”
Liotta, known for his role in the films Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, accuses Nerium of generating "revenue using a product-based pyramid scheme," his lawsuit states.
He claims Nerium sells its products to "Nerium Partners," sales agents who recruit new partners "in an ever-growing pyramid," the lawsuit states.
Nerium, based in Addison, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, states that it does not pay celebrities to endorse its products, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement provided to ABC News, a spokeswoman for the company said, “Nerium was surprised to learn through the media about a lawsuit filed by Mr. Ray Liotta. We take claims against our company seriously and we are committed to investigating this matter promptly.”
Around Oct. 13, 2013, Liotta claims in his complaint that as part of a marketing campaign, Nerium, "by and through its agents, distributed photographs and related materials that identify, name, and/or describe, and purport to show [Liotta] 'before-and-after' using Nerium AD skin cream."
In the before photo, Liotta's skin is blotchy while in the "after" photos his skin appears to be smoother.
Several exhibits in the court filing are photos of the same "before-and-after" photo shared by individuals on social media site Facebook, Twitter, Google and Pinterest.
The actor said he did not authorize the company or any of its agents to use his "name, likeness, image, identity or persona in connection with marketing Nerium’s products or for any purpose whatsoever," and he was not contacted to obtain permission for the use of his name or image for Nerium, the suit states.
“When someone creates a false endorsement using Ray Liotta’s name or likeness, they can expect legal action,” Liotta's attorney Gary Hecker in a statement.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York woman’s decision to not throw away but instead focus on the numbers tucked inside her fortune cookie earned her a $2 million payday.
Emma Duvoll, 75, of the Bronx, used the numbers printed on the back of her fortune slip as Powerball numbers for a ticket she purchased at a local gas station earlier this year.
Five of those numbers matched the numbers drawn for the Feb. 1 Powerball drawing, earning Duvoll a $2 million payday.
“I was surprised but pleased,” Duvoll told reporters Thursday in New York, as she received a check from The New York Lottery’s Yolanda Vega and Jenny Garcia.
Duvoll, who did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment, got the fortune cookie following a meal at Sammy’s Noodle Shop & Grill in New York’s Greenwich Village, according to The New York Daily News.
Duvoll is a retired deli owner and the mother of two children, grandmother-of-eight and great-grandmother-of-one, The Daily News reported.
She opted to collect her jackpot as a one-time, lump-sum payment, meaning she took home a grand total of $1,246,085, lottery officials said.
Duvoll told reporters at the news conference that she “took some time contemplating” what she would do with the money after discovering she had won the day after the drawing, but that she now has a plan.
“I plan to invest most of it and maybe take a trip to Switzerland to visit family,” Duvoll said.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From energy boomtowns in North Dakota to high-tech manufacturing in Oregon, the fastest job growth in the U.S. is heavily clustered in the West -- from Arizona and Utah to Colorado -- and in the middle states with big oil and gas industries.
But for all these bright spots, Friday’s jobs report also revealed a sharp spike in the number of Americans out of work for six months or longer.
While employers had added 175,000 new jobs in February -- better than experts had predicted -- unemployment inched higher to 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It was fueled by a surge in the number of Americans who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks -- the long-term unemployed.
Those 4 million people now make up 37 percent of the unemployed.
Older people are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed. Nearly half of the people between 45 and 54 years of age are unemployed long term.
Sunil Sunder Raj said he’d been out of his health care job since 2007.
“I’m trying every single day,” said Raj, who lives in New Jersey and holds multiple college degrees. “I am down in that [home] office -- that’s my dungeon, that’s my war room. I’m looking for a job. There is just no time to slack off.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the workers that will be most in demand in coming years are home health aides who will be needed to assist the aging population. Also in demand will be insulation workers, and interpreters and translators.
Raj, a husband and father of two, said he was hopeful despite feeling ignored when applying for work.
“You have to be optimistic these days,” he said. “You feel sorry for yourself. … There is not room for that.”
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was a roller coaster session for the markets Friday. Wall Street stocks surged early on a positive jobs report, but faded by mid-session only to come off the day's lows by the closing bell.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 30 points at 16,452.72. The Nasdaq Composite fell 16 points to 4,336.22. The S&P 500 called it a week at an all-time high, up a point at 1,878.04.
The Labor Department says employers created 175,000 jobs last month. Economists expected the number to be lower because of winter storms that hit the much of the country in February. Unemployment still ticked up nationally to 6.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the government says Americans are borrowing more for cars and student loans these days. Consumer borrowing rose almost $14 billion in January, according to the Federal Reserve. The only exception? Credit card use has declined.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s been quite a week for Bitcoin, the digital pseudo-currency that’s created $7.5 billion worth of value out of some computer code and the beliefs of a lot of hopeful folks.
The week began with news that Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, one of the major Bitcoin exchanges, had filed for bankruptcy after hackers over a period of months stole every last coin they had, valued at over $425 million. Investigations by U.S. and Japanese officials ensued and the first lawsuits have been filed.
Then Autumn Radtke, the American CEO of another smaller Bitcoin exchange was found dead near her home in Singapore. Though the circumstances around her death remain a mystery, her company, First Meta, is said to be still operating.
Then on Thursday the website Newsweek published a 4,500-word story supposedly unmasking the mysterious founder of Bitcoin. It’s an adventurous account, tracking down a 64-year-old man named Dorian Prentice and inviting him to lunch.
But Dorian Prentice, a.k.a. Satoshi Nakamoto, has denied he is the creator of Bitcoin, that he did not write the computer code underpinnings of Bitcoin and in fact had never heard of Bitcoin until a few weeks ago when he was contacted by a Newsweek reporter.
Newsweek is standing by its story.
Bitcoin is still trading merrily along, to as low as $130 in November to peak near $1,200 in December. On Friday it traded at just over $600, according to this exchange.
What makes a Bitcoin worth that much, or worth anything for that matter? That’s hard to say. The inventors of the so-called currency -- whomever they may be -- deemed that only 21 million can be “mined.” This is done by setting computers to solve ever more complex mathematical algorithms. There’s 12 million Bitcoins out there now.
What makes Bitcoins worth anything at all is simply the willingness of people to buy and sell them in the belief that they have value.
Is there a sucker born every day, or are Bitcoin backers geniuses who have found a frictionless way to make payments across borders with no paper involved, simply long strings of computer code? Stay tuned.