Technology Now The business and culture of our digital lives
Medical marijuana ordering app Nugg launched with unusual funding source

Starting at 4:20 p.m. Monday, patients in Los Angeles and Orange counties will be able to order medical marijuana and schedule deliveries or pickups through a new app called Nugg.

The Web-based app was developed by a trio of USC students who raised $100,000 not from friends and family, the usual way to get a business started, but by referring riders to the ride-hailing service Lyft. Lyft pays a commission of $10 to $20 each for rider referrals; Alex Milligan and two friends created a network of referral hunters, mostly on college campuses, and split the proceeds earned through signing up 30,000 riders.

Last year, Milligan, Collin Mann and Kam Babazade began putting their newfound wealth toward developing Nugg, an online ordering system for medical marijuana. Mann and Babazade graduated, and Milligan is in his last semester. Their company is launching April 20 — a worldwide day of celebration for marijuana enthusiasts — by offering a free pizza with deliveries.

Nugg, which doesn’t employ...

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New bill could legalize paid carpooling

Carpooling is one of the most popular services transport network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar offer, but it faces a problem. Under California law, paid carpooling is prohibited.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is hoping to change that.

Introducing AB 1360 on Monday, Ting said the bill would change a Californian law written in 1961 that doesn’t allow passengers in a commercial ride to each be charged separately for sharing the ride.

“We have long encouraged public transit and carpooling to reduce traffic and air pollution,” Ting said. “We cannot extend this mindset to ride-sharing without changing a 50-year-old law predating the Internet.”

Transport network companies such as Uber, Lyft and SideCar launched their carpooling services in California last summer. Shortly afterward, they were notified by the Public Utilities Commission that existing law did not allow their carpooling business model. While the PUC did not outright prohibit TNCs from continuing their carpooling services,...

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Google shaking up search results on smartphones

Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones in a shift that's expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information.

The revised formula, scheduled to be released Tuesday, will favor websites that Google defines as "mobile-friendly." Websites that don't fit the description will be demoted in Google's search results on smartphones while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money.

Although Google's new formula won't affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants. That's why Google's new rating system is being billed by some search experts as "Mobile-geddon."

"Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic...

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ZSpace virtual reality system makes science class look like 'Iron Man' lab

Heart dissections in science classes have always been a messy affair. For years teachers have cut open cow’s or sheep’s hearts to show students how they look inside, and, while students get to feel and see the heart, they can’t watch as it beats, because the animals are dead. They can’t see the individual heart strings or the finer details of the chambers, valves and veins because they’re all layered on top of one another. That’s about to change.

At dozens of schools across America, including 11 K-12 districts in California, schools are adopting zSpace, a virtual reality system that lets schools “bring to life” abstract and often difficult-to-explain classroom material.

Created by the Sunnyvale, Calif., technology company of the same name, zSpace stations consist of large screens connected to PCs that teachers and students can use with special 3-D glasses and a stylus pen. When kids put on the glasses, images appear in 3-D, not too different from what one would expect in Tony Stark’s Iron...

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Mark Zuckerberg seeks to ease net neutrality concerns over Internet.org

Mark Zuckerberg is defending Internet.org, the project to bring free Internet access to impoverished parts of the world. The Facebook-led initiative had been criticized for being anti-net neutrality.

Internet.org grants access to only a limited number of Internet destinations, including Facebook. In India, that has led a number of start-ups to pull their support.

In a blog post Friday, Zuckerberg said he strongly disagreed with characterizations that Internet.org violated the spirit of net neutrality. Universal connectivity and net neutrality, he said, "can and must coexist."

"To give more people access to the internet, it is useful to offer some service for free," he wrote. "If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all."

He noted that Internet.org "doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes -- and it never will."

"We’re open for all mobile operators and we’re not stopping anyone from joining. We want as...

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Instagram updates user guidelines with more details, stricter tone

Instagram is taking a more hard-line approach with what it will and will not allow on the photo-sharing app.

The company has updated its community guidelines, releasing a longer set of rules with more details and a stronger tone. 

Here's the short of it:

"We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community. Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law. Respect everyone on Instagram, don’t spam people or post nudity."

Instagram has faced numerous complaints about its decency guidelines in the past, particularly for its longstanding decision to not allow photos of topless women. That sparked a campaign popularized by celebrities including Chelsea Handler and Miley Cyrus to "free the nipple."

Instagram went into detail on the issue of nudity in its new guidelines, saying:

"We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety...

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