Tech 2.0 for Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 3/11 2:07 pm


California's Department of Motor Vehicles is wading into the complex question of how to regulate the use of cars that rely on computers — not people — to drive them. Once the stuff of science fiction, "Driverless cars" could be commercially available by decade's end. On Tuesday, the DMV is hearing ideas on how to integrate the cars onto public roads. Questions range from data privacy and security — to whether a person will have to be in the driver's seat at all. The DMV already has drafted rules governing how companies can test the technology. Google had been testing on highways and in neighborhoods well before the Legislature decided to regulate.

Utah lawmakers have advanced a measure to curb texting while driving. The state Senate on Monday voted 17-8 to approve the bill making it a violation to tap on a phone while on the road. St. George Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart sponsors the bill. Under the measure, adults could still talk on the phone while driving or consult a device for directions, as long as they're not punching in information. The state also has a current ban on texting and driving for minors. Some lawmakers praised the proposed measure, saying it's their job to make sure roads are safe. But others said the law isn't needed because Utah already has laws against distracted driving. The bill now goes to the House.

More and more taxpayers are entering the digital age in filing their returns. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that more than 80 percent of tax returns are now filed electronically using home computers and tax preparation software. H&R Block senior tax adviser Richard Gartland says his company's software includes online chat or telephone support, so you can still get help if you need it. The software eliminates or minimizes mistakes and simplifies e-filing. Gartland says the IRS also has an e-file service that's free "for certain levels of income and simpler returns." E-filing is the fastest, safest and most accurate way to go. It gets refunds a lot quicker, too -- especially with direct deposit sending the money straight into your bank account.

Back in 1986, a newborn wrapped in a red sweater was found abandoned in the bathroom of a fast-food restaurant in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Now, the baby is an adult -- and is going online to help track down her biological mother. Katheryn Deprill began her quest March 2 by posting a photo on her Facebook page in which she held up a sign that said, "Looking for my birth mother. The woman mentioned the circumstances of her being abandoned at the Burger King restaurant bathroom hours after her birth -- and asked people to share her post. A week later, it had been shared nearly 27,000 times by Facebook users worldwide -- and it's also getting media attention. But so far, the search for Deprill's mom has yet to yield fruit.
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