Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Unfazed by Facebook, Google Rolls Out Social Search Globally”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Unfazed by Facebook, Google Rolls Out Social Search Globally”


Unfazed by Facebook, Google Rolls Out Social Search Globally

Posted: 19 May 2011 02:53 AM PDT


Google will roll out its somewhat controversial Social Search feature to 19 more languages next week, the company has announced on its official blog.

Launched back in October 2009, Social Search is a feature that combines regular search results with publicly available data created by your friends’ social media activities.

Your “friends” are quite loosely defined and include people in your Google Talk friends list, your Google Contacts, people you’re following on Buzz and Google Reader, and other networks you’ve linked from your Google profile or Google Account. Google can also find your friends on public networks such as Twitter and Facebook and gather the data from their public connections as well.

The feature was recently the subject of controversy, as Facebook hired a PR company to push negative stories about Social Search in the press. Facebook claims that Google’s practices raise “serious privacy concerns”, and it’s unhappy with the fact that Google can use Facebook data for its service without Facebook’s permission.

For the most part, Google has stayed silent about the issue, although it’s noticeable that in its latest blog post about Social Search Twitter is mentioned three times while Facebook is nowhere to be seen.

Social Search should be available in 19 languages next week, with more languages on the way. Check out a video overview of the feature below.

[via Google]

More About: global, Google, international, Search, social search

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Apple Inks Deal With EMI, Cloud Music Service Is Around the Corner [REPORT]

Posted: 19 May 2011 01:48 AM PDT


Apple has signed a licensing deal for a cloud music service with EMI, and is very close to signing similar deals with Sony and Universal, CNET reports citing sources familiar with the matter.

After the recent launch of Google Music, rumors of Apple’s cloud-based music streaming service (possibly called iCloud) got louder than ever.

According to previous reports, Apple already has a similar deal in place with Warner, meaning that it’s very near to inking deal with the “big four” record companies, which in turn might mean the company will be ready to announce its cloud music service at its WWDC conference in June.

While both Google and Amazon have a cloud-based music service in place, both services require users to upload their music to be able to access it from the cloud. If this latest report is true, with all the licensing deals it has with record companies, Apple would be able to offer certain features that its competitors cannot – for example, it could merely scan users’ iTunes library and offer the same songs to them almost instantly from the cloud.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, billoxford

[CNET]

More About: apple, cloud, Cloud Music, EMI, music streaming, sony, streaming, universal

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Elaborate Marriage Proposal Delights Bride-To-Be [VIRAL VIDEO]

Posted: 18 May 2011 11:30 PM PDT


Matt wanted to make a big splash when he asked his girlfriend Ginny to marry him. So he hired Atlanta wedding photographer/videographer Michael Escobar, and the two men created a dramatic and clever movie trailer that would lead up to a surprising (and very public) proposal.

After somehow getting the permission of the local movie theater to run the trailer, he created a ruse where his brother took Ginny to the movies while he “worked,” and the trap was set. Here’s Matt’s narrative:

“My girlfriend Ginny gets taken to the movie theater to see “Fast Five.” After a preview for the Hangover 2, a trailer for a movie comes on. A trailer I made of her father and I where I ask her father for her hand in marriage. After he gives me permission, I race off to the theater she is at to ask her to marry me.
What she doesn’t know is our familiy and friends are in the theater with her watching the whole thing, along with about 100 strangers.”

Nice work, Matt. That “live reaction” cam was a nice touch. We wish you all the best.

[via YouTube]

More About: marriage proposals, movie trailers, viral video, youtube

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Anonymous or Transparent: Which Side Are You On? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 18 May 2011 10:35 PM PDT


There are two kinds of people on the Internet: The ones who tell you their real names, and the ones who don’t.

That’s an oversimplification of the whole and varied reality of the web, but how we represent ourselves online generally boils down to a core belief in either transparency or anonymity. You either present your real self online and take credit for your actions, or you let your actions speak for themselves while maintaining your privacy.

And who’s to say which modus operandi is truly superior? Two champions of the web, 4chan founder Chris Pool and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, each fall neatly on either side of the debate.

As passionate as Zuckerberg is about people using the Internet to forge and maintain real connections with one another, Poole is equally adamant that many people need anonymity for creativity, activism and simple safety.

So here’s a handy infographic, courtesy of the fine folks at real-time conversation company Namesake, that delineates the advantages, pitfalls and rallying cries behind the anonymity and transparency philosophies.

Which side are you on?

Click image to see larger version.

[source: Namesake.com]

More About: anonymity, anonymous, infographic, transparency, transparent

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The Atlantic Opens Up Editing Room to Public in 1-Day Experiment

Posted: 18 May 2011 09:42 PM PDT


The online publishing arm of The Atlantic opened its editing room to the public in a single-day experiment Wednesday.

Readers were invited to pitch stories and give feedback on existing articles, as well as observe the pitching and editing process — something that usually takes place in chatroom client Campfire — between full-time staff. Instead of Campfire, The Atlantic Wire moved operations to an open comments thread.

“As with many web news operations, The Atlantic Wire is mostly edited via terse messages in a group chat room. Editors and writers spend the day logged onto Campfire pitching story ideas, exchanging links and keeping everyone up to date on the news of the day. So we had a thought: Why not move that out into the open and let anyone who wants to take part?” says editor Gabriel Snyder, who adds that the experiment was designed to increase transparency about the editorial process.

“I was afraid all of my writers were going to get stage fright and hold back, but some of the conversations were [still] funny,” he notes.

The team also picked up several story suggestions submitted by readers, including a series of photographs from a Reuters photographer whose Jakarta-bound plane was forced to make an emergency landing when one of its engines seemingly caught on fire, and another on the ongoing protests in Spain.

It’s an applaudable initiative that is not only flattering to readers — many of whom, we suspect, know and value the publication’s brand as thoroughly as its staff — but also enriches the scope and quality of The Atlantic Wire’s journalism. We hope it’s a model that will expand beyond the one-day experiment.

More About: citizen journalism, media, social media, the atlantic

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Starbucks & Lady Gaga Team Up On Scavenger Hunt

Posted: 18 May 2011 09:00 PM PDT


Starbucks starts a two-week scavenger hunt in partnership with Lady Gaga on Thursday.

When customers scan QR codes on in-store banners, magnetic chalkboards and posters, they’ll see the first of many clues in the coffee retailer’s seven-round scavenger hunt.

SRCH by Starbucks featuring Lady Gaga,” as the initiative is called, will start with the in-store QR code scan and take customers through a series of cerebral and digital clues.

Players will be tasked to visit certain blogs and Starbucks digital properties, decode cryptic messages and put their math, logic, reading and pop culture thinking caps on.

The clues, arranged into rounds, have been calibrated to encourage group play. Round one starts Thursday — the first players to solve all the clues will be rewarded with Starbucks- and Lady Gaga-related prizes.

Matthew Guiste, director of global social media for Starbucks, anticipates that it will take players from one to several hours to complete each round. “We hope to encourage group play and sharing,” he says. “We wanted to make it so that there’s things to talk about and share.”

The game, says Guiste, was inspired by three things: Alternate reality games such as I Love Bees, digital scavenger hunts in the vein of Jay-Z’s Decoded book release game and puzzle play.

Rounds two through seven will take place on May 23, 25, 27 and 30, and June 1 and 3.

The May 23 round coincides with the release of Lady Gaga’s third studio album, Born This Way. Starbucks will commemorate the day both in its stores and online. Lady Gaga’s music, for the first time in Starbuck’s history, will be played in Starbucks stores on May 23. Her album will be also be sold in stores.

Gaga will take over Starbucks Digital Network for the day. The digital takeover will invite customers to stream a special edition of the new album for the entirety of the day, receive a free “Edge of Glory” download and watch an exclusive video by Lady Gaga herself.

For Starbucks, the scavenger hunt is meant to help the company build deeper relationships with its most engaged customers. It also sees the initiative as a way to connect the store — what Starbucks refers to as the “third place” — to Starbucks Digital Network, its content network and “fourth place.”

SRCH is also meant to pump up the volume on the brand’s Frappuccino focus for the summer. In planning, the brand, says Alex Wheeler, director of digital strategy for Starbucks, wanted to experiment with something alternative. “We thought, ‘How can we do something that is a little bit different and break through?’,” she says.

The Starbucks-Gaga connection is much less obvious, but Wheeler believes the digitally savvy brand and the edgy superstar have a lot in common. “It’s a natural fit,” she says.

Perhaps by fit she really means hit. Both Gaga and Starbucks will benefit — Gaga in album sales and exposure, and Starbucks in netting the allegiance of Gaga’s almighty Little Monsters.

Let the games begin.

More About: Lady Gaga, MARKETING, QR Codes, SRCH, starbucks, starbucks digital network

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Whereberry Helps You Make Real-World Plans With Friends

Posted: 18 May 2011 08:32 PM PDT


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: WhereBerry

Quick Pitch: Whereberry helps you make non-virtual plans with friends.

Genius Idea: Focusing on future plans instead of current checkins


If you have a list of activities you want to do, chances are most of them would be more fun with a friend. Whereberry, which launched Tuesday, makes that list social so that it’s easier to coordinate plans.

After connecting your profile to Whereberry, your Facebook friends who have also signed up are automatically added as your friends. As with Twitter, you can also choose to “follow” anyone on the platform. You will get email notifications when these people post events, and those events will also show up in your Whereberry newsfeed.

Within the newsfeed, it’s easy to add to your own list activities that your friend posted and to work out logistics in a group. There’s also an option to post the activity to your Facebook feed and avoid the “Does anyone want to go to a movie this weekend?” comment thread.

Whereberry focuses not on what you’ve done, as most checkin services originally did, but rather on what you plan to do. These types of preemptive check-in services are popping up everywhere — recommendation engine Ditto, plan maker ImUp4, and location-based Q&A app Localmind are just a few examples. Even Foursquare has cast its gaze toward the future.

When people note what they are going to do rather than what they’ve done, brands connected with that activity have an opportunity to reach consumers at a decision point. Not so if the consumer is already standing in the restaurant. Whereberry eventually plans to sell brands the opportunity to offer deals to relevant consumers.

That monetization plan makes sense, but Whereberry will need to acquire users first — something that may be tricky as many wonder whether anyone needs another social service.

If you don’t already have friends on Whereberry, it’s hard to make a case for joining. While there’s a list of activities that populates the newsfeeds of the friend-less, activity guides can be found on the Internet without connecting a Facebook profile. The post-to-Facebook feature is one way you might convince friends to join you on the platform, but truthfully, it’s easier to just post a status message.

But the startup didn’t earn a spot in Y Combinator this winter for nothing. A social network for making plans like Whereberry would be useful if a good chunk of your friends used it. The million dollar question is how to incentivize that environment.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, startups, Whereberry, y combinator

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Video: SpaceShipTwo’s First “Feather Glide”

Posted: 18 May 2011 07:33 PM PDT


Virgin Galactic has released video of SpaceShipTwo gliding to Earth using a special method of slowing down the plane from any reentry angle.

The test flight took place on May 4, according to Virgin Galactic, but the video was just released on Wednesday, May 18.

Even though this was the seventh glide flight of the spaceship, this was the first time the tail of the plane was raised in its feather position that will slow it down as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere.

The larger WhiteKnightTwo mother ship lifted SpaceShipTwo to 51,500 feet, releasing the tiny spaceship in which two pilots might someday fly six paying passengers to the edge of space for $200,000 apiece.

When it’s time to actually fly the suborbital flight, SpaceShipTwo will be released from its mother ship and then fire its engine for 70 seconds, accelerating the plane to 2,600 mph and reaching a height of 68 miles before it begins its feathered descent.

The feathering maneuver rotates the wing tips upward, slowing down the craft and allowing it to reenter the atmosphere from any angle without requiring the absolutely precise reentry angles of the Space Shuttle, which returns to Earth at orbital speeds of 16,000 mph.

Image Courtesy Virgin Galactic

More About: commercialized, space, SpaceShipTwo, video, Virgin Galactic, WhiteKnightTwo

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Killer Robots Coming Soon To a TV Near You [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 May 2011 06:04 PM PDT


If you’re anything like us, you’ve been waiting all your life to watch robots fight to the death in a cage match.

And if that doesn’t sound appealing, you can stop reading now and go do something mature and productive.

On Memorial Day, the Science Channel is airing a special program called (what else?) Killer Robots, wherein Grant Imahara of MythBusters fame will pit robots against each other in a firey, gear-grinding fight to the death in a bulletproof arena.

This special TV event will guide viewers through the annual International Robogames Competition (a.k.a. the Olympics of robotics) in Silicon Valley, where shade-tree engineers and hardware hackers bring their DIY robo-monsters to show off and battle during a three-day tournament of sorts.

The crème de la crème of the event compete in the Heavyweight bracket. In this division, 220-pound deathbots battle until the last one standing is named “King of the Killer Robots.” This bracket is the focus of the Killer Robots special; you can expect flame-throwing, blade-spinning and more metal-swapping crashes than a NASCAR rally.

We’re including a small taste of the action below. Will you be tuning in?

image courtesy of Flickr, frogDNA

More About: grant imahara, killer robots, mythbusters, robots, science channel

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WordPress Revamps Its iOS App With Quick Photos & Analytics

Posted: 18 May 2011 05:03 PM PDT


Automattic has released a major improvement to its WordPress iOS app, fixing a variety of bugs while adding analytics and photo-sharing features.

Version 2.8 of the app fixes 31 different bugs, including errors that caused 75% of all app crashes. Issues with external keyboards and adding categories on the iPad have been resolved.

The app also comes with two new features: a Quick Photo button and a Stats section. The Quick Photo feature lets you snap a photo, quickly write a blog post around it, and publish. It’s similar to PicPosterous, Posterous’s rapid blogging iPhone app. WordPress says the feature is only available for iPhone, at least for now.

The other major addition is Stats. This feature provides a quick way to see daily, weekly and monthly pageviews, along with information such as top referrers and post views. The feature is available for all WordPress.com blogs. but self-hosted blogs need to have either Jetpack or the Stats plugin to activate it.

In addition to the new features, Automattic announced it has finally localized the app and added support for 10 languages, including Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

Combined, these changes make the WordPress app [iTunes link] a significantly more useful tool for keeping your blog up-to-date. We’ve been frustrated many times by the app’s instability, so it’s good to see that most of the bugs that cause it to crash have been addressed. Writing blog posts from an iPhone or iPad is still nowhere as easy as writing one on a laptop, though.

More About: iOS, iOS app, ipad app, iphone app, WordPress

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Amazon Will Now Pay You For Your Old Electronics

Posted: 18 May 2011 03:43 PM PDT


Amazon has expanded its trade-in program to allow customers to send in their used electronics for gift cards that can be used on the ecommerce site.

The retail giant will eat the shipping costs in the deal, letting users price out the value of their products — including cell phones, tablets and digital cameras — on the Amazon trade-in site, assign a condition ("like new, " "good," or "acceptable,") and print off a shipping label.

Assuming Amazon agrees with the customer's assessment of the product's condition, the company says it will credit their account "generally in less than 48 hours" after receiving it.

The move puts Amazon in competition with Gazelle, which has paid out more than $25 million in cash to customers for used electronics since launching in 2008. At first glance, it would appear that Amazon is offering slightly more ($178 to $158 for a good condition iPhone 3GS 16GB, $271 to $260 for a Motorola Xoom tablet), though Gazelle is offering cash to Amazon's gift cards.

Prior to today, Amazon's trade-in program already included video games, DVDs and textbooks.

Image courtesy of Flickr, blmurch

More About: amazon, electronics, gadgets, gazelle

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Is Apple About To Reinvent Its Retail Stores? [RUMOR]

Posted: 18 May 2011 03:33 PM PDT


Apple is reportedly preparing a major makeover of its iconic retail stores to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its retail operation.

On Tuesday, rumors quickly spread that the company is preparing a mystery launch this weekend. At the time, Boy Genius Report speculated that Apple could be launching an NFC-based point-of-sale system. At the very least, lots of secret meetings have supposedly taken place for the mystery launch.

Now it looks like the mystery launch could be a total reinvention of the Apple retail environment. According to multiple publications, the technology titan intends to roll out a new type of store known internally as “Apple Store 2.0.”

According to 9to5Mac‘s source, Apple will be revamping its personal setup service by launching a new area of the store called “Startup Sessions,” dedicated to getting people up-and-running with their new devices. Apple is also apparently getting rid of its paper signs and replacing them with interactive iPad displays and even installing “huge” monitors and sound systems in some retail locations.

There’s more, though. AppleInsider reports that the company will train its employees on how to use iPads for its retail operation. It’s not exactly known what Apple store employees will use the iPads for, but likely it would be for product demos and authorizing purchases, the latter of which is currently done on the iPhone.

In any case, it looks like an Apple Store reinvention is afoot. Don’t be surprised if your local store looks a lot more high tech when you walk in on Sunday.

More About: apple, Apple Store, iOS, ipad, iphone

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Put Your Neighbors To Work With Zaarly, A Local Market for Odd Jobs

Posted: 18 May 2011 03:24 PM PDT


Let’s say you need to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture. You dislike doing it so much that you would be willing to pay somebody $50 to put it together for you. Perhaps one of your neighbors is an unemployed carpenter who would take the offer. But how are you going to find him?

This is the basic problem Zaarly tries to solve.

“Every person is in a bazaar,” explains Zaarly co-founder Bo Fishback. “And they don’t know what’s for sale and what’s not.”

Indeed, the name “Zaarly” is a play on the word “bazaar.” The startup, which launched Wednesday, is an innovative market for odd jobs. Anyone who signs up for the service can post a job — bring me a soda, lend me your lawn mower, teach my child algebra — and the price they are willing to pay for its completion. Users in the area who are looking for cash can browse offers and apply to complete projects that appeal to them. It is, Fishback says, “a proximity-based, real-time, buyer-powered market.”

If an experiment at SXSW is any indication, it’s also something that people want. The team launched an experimental version of the product at the conference, hanging a banner from a rented trailer to announce its arrival and paying about 20 people to distribute brochures to spread the word. The platform processed $10,000 in transactions within a 48-hour period.

“We have a shot to foster a behavior people have always wanted to do,” says Fishback. He raised a seed round of $1 million to launch the service.

Ironically, the mobile and browser apps aim to facilitate in-person transactions without revealing the identities of the participants. There are no profile photos and no usernames; the two parties involved in a transaction can message, text, pay and even call each other through the Zaarly platform. Like paying with cash at a physical store, there’s a certain anonymity. Nobody can link you to your willingness to pay $100 for banana ice cream (now!), unless you opt to broadcast your request to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Fishback admits that the whole idea might freak some people out at first glance, and that there’s a level of trust involved. Most people on the platform, he says, do end up introducing themselves. Zaarly also acts as a credential, filtering and blocking unreasonable requests and tracking users’ task completion history. Eventually, it will add track records and trust mechanisms to the site.

“Trust isn’t associated with a name and face, it’s associated with actions,” Fishback says.

More About: startup, Zaarly

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5 Unique Ways to Transform Your iPhone Into an Alarm Clock [PICS]

Posted: 18 May 2011 03:09 PM PDT

Most iPhone owners use their phones as an alarm clock, but rather than just plonk the handset on your bedside table, why not make the most of your phone and turn it into an alarm clock proper with the help of a clever accessory?

We’ve found five fabulous devices that will turn your iPhone into a super-cool time teller, ranging from a seriously analogue option made of wood to high-tech speaker docks that come with free apps.

Take a look through the gallery below for our suggested solutions and let us know which one you’d like to see gracing your bedside table in the comments below.


1. Luckybits BirdBox Alarm Clock





This avian-themed offering will add a touch of whimsy to your bedside table. Once you've chosen your BirdBox from the four colors available, and downloaded the free app, you've got a sweet (or should that be tweet?) way to wake up in the morning.

The iPhone fits in the box and displays an analogue clock through the hole. You can tap the screen to see the birds inside and wake to the sound of the birds cuckooing -- much more pleasant than blaring alarms.

Cost: $11.95


2. iLuv App Station




The App Station speaker dock is a handy bit of kit. It can run off the mains or batteries, stands horizontally or vertically, and can play content while docked. On the clock side of things, the iLuv companion app will transform the setup from mini media center to a capable clock complete with weather info and Internet radio.

Cost: $89.99


3. Alarm Dock




Jonas Damon's gorgeously retro wooden block dock will appeal to fans of vintage style. Obviously inspired by the faux wood alarm clocks that graced our parents' bedside tables, Damon says "this dock returns meaningful form to the sliver of a device that will wake you up." A flip clock app completes the look.

Cost: $39.50


4. Exspect Time Speaker Dock




Like the iLuv option, but for UK and European iPhone owners, Exspect's clock dock works with the companion app to make the iDevice a part of the clock face. It charges your iPhone as you sleep, and you can choose to wake to audio from your iPhone, the FM radio or a buzzer.

Cost: £30.99 (approx $50)


5. Day Maker




"Nothing says morning like a piece of toast popping in a toaster," says Day Maker designer Michael Kritzer. "With that in mind, Day Maker, a bedside phone charger/alarm hub, lets you know it's time to rise and shine with a little added 'pop' from your phone alarm."

With the ability to hit snooze by pressing the phone back down, the Day Maker is a witty and unique take on the iPhone alarm clock dock. A Kickstarter listing is pending, so stay tuned for more.

Cost: TBC


For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

More About: accessories, alarm clocks, apple, iphone, iphone accessories, iPhone Alarm Clocks, ipod accessories

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LinkedIn Prices IPO at $45 Per Share

Posted: 18 May 2011 02:41 PM PDT


LinkedIn has priced its shares at $45 each ahead of Thursday's initial public offering, the high end of an already significantly increased range for the company's stock.

As reported earlier in the week, that values LinkedIn at more than $4 billion and means the company will be adding more than $350 million to its coffers following the offering. It will also make LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman a near-billionaire, with his stake valued at $855 million at the $45 per share price.

While the pricing represents an aggressive valuation by most standards, the majority of Mashable readers — 59% at press time — seem to think LinkedIn is still a "buy” (be sure to vote in our poll).

LinkedIn's shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "LNKD."

More About: ipo, linkedin

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Sony PlayStation Network Fixes Password Security Breach

Posted: 18 May 2011 02:38 PM PDT


Sony’s PlayStation Network was caught in another security scandal Wednesday, though it didn’t take the company long to fix the breach.

Reports have been popping up about an exploit of PSN’s login pages. Hackers were able to change PSN passwords using PSN email addresses and birth dates. That same information was stolen during the attack last month that forced Sony to take down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity for more than 25 days.

Sony responded in a matter of hours to today’s exploit, unlike the hacker attack last month. Today Sony took down the PSN and Qriocity reset pages and announced that it had fixed the flaw.

Sony has been under extreme scrutiny after hackers destroyed its outdated cyber defenses. That has made it a major target for hackers who are looking for further flaws.

Sony’s quick response should be commended. But if hackers are really motivated to break into something, they’re eventually going to find a way to get in. We’re fairly certain that hackers will be looking for ways to bypass Sony’s defenses just to show they can.

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Cats Rap About Doing Cat Stuff [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 May 2011 02:21 PM PDT


Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

It’s been a while since we had a good, old-fashioned cat video up on Mashable. Well, languish no longer, feline fans, as a vid of cats singing a monotonous song about doing stuff has started circulating around the web.

Warning: This song will get stuck in your head, slowly driving you to utter madness. Thank me later.

More About: cats, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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13 Alternative Ways to Consume Your News

Posted: 18 May 2011 02:03 PM PDT


How we consume the news has changed dramatically over the years.

With the rise of social and information networks like Twitter and Facebook, we now have access to our own crowdsourced news wires. Add to that an army of applications reinterpreting the magazine and newspaper for mobile and tablet forms, and what we have is a news media renaissance that puts the reader’s interests above all else.

Should you prefer to discover news through social connections, you can turn to Flipboard, Smartr or XYDO. If you want to consume news from just the publishers you trust, then you’ll likely develop an affinity for Pulse or FLUD. But if you’d rather your application tell you what to read, Zite may be right for you.

And, we’re just getting started. What follows is a collection of 13 different apps and services that provide you with alternative ways to consume news.


1. Flipboard




The original social media magazine for iPad, Flipboard initially wowed tablet users with a touch-based interface for browsing status updates as news stories.

Flipboard has since gone on to raise an additional $50 million in funding at a $200 million valuation, sign content partnerships with major media organizations, and be named Apple's iPad application of the year for 2010.

Flipboard continues to push the envelop with even more content partners, Instagram integration, faster loading content and an ever-improving user interface.


2. Zite




iPad magazine Zite is a free application that tailors stories to your needs and gets smarter with continual usage.

Like Flipboard, Zite can pull stories from your Twitter or Google Reader accounts. It also lets you select topics of interest to add to your magazine. The app's claim to fame, however, is its ability to learn from your reading habits and serve up stories that are meaningful to you.

For some, Zite will be a welcome, more intelligent application for discovering news. For others, the application's simple interface -- especially when compared against Flipboard -- will deter users from ever having the meaningful experience its makers intended.


3. News.me




News.me is the social news reading application for iPad developed by Betaworks and The New York Times Company. It's similar in purpose and style to Flipboard and Zite, but has the support of more than 20 major media organizations.

News.me's uniqueness is drawn from its ability to help you discover what the people you follow on Twitter are seeing in their streams, so long as they're also using News.me. The application is touch-based and allows you to "stretch" a story to peek at its contents.

The iPad application comes with a considerable price tag -- $0.99 per week or $34.99 per year, after an initial free week. By comparison, Flipboard and Zite are entirely free.


4. Smartr




Smartr is an iPhone, iPad, Android and web app for news junkies. It strips out spam from social streams to make a personalized newspaper out of your friends' Twitter and Facebook updates.

Smartr, which comes from startup Factyle, is essentially a news-only Facebook and Twitter client. It uses natural language processing to pluck out relevant status updates. It then optimizes the text, images and video in the updates for consumption on iPhone, iPad, Android or the web.


5. LinkedIn Today




LinkedIn Today is the professional social network's take on a social newspaper for business readers. The 2-month-old web and mobile product aggregates and delivers news personalized to you.

LinkedIn Today features stories that people are sharing on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can add to the personalization of the paper by selecting to follow industries and news sources.


6. Pulse




Pulse is an iPhone, iPad and Android social news application from Alphonso Labs. What first started as a college project at Stanford is now a sophisticated application for consuming content from publishers, RSS feeds and social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.

Pulse recently prettied up its mobile apps by including another six popular social media sites. The app now grabs Reddit, Digg, Vimeo, YouTube, Picplz and Flickr content via APIs, so you can watch videos, pan through photos and discover trending news items.


7. FLUD




FLUD is a free personalized news reader for iPhone and iPad that directly competes with Pulse.

The startup defines itself as a social news ecosystem. It's yet to fully grow into that definition, but it does offer an elegant experience for consuming news from your preferred RSS sources, as organized into categories.

FLUD is working to firm up content partnerships with publishers and will use its new funding to finance development of Android and desktop applications.


8. Utopic




Utopic surfaces the trending links, videos, music, photos, events and movies as shared by your social connections on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

The type of content you see in Utopic is elastic in nature. The app factors in your activity, the content your friends and friends of friends are sharing, and global trends across all users.

Since we last checked in with Utopic just two months ago, the startup has made a slew of improvements. You can now choose from 10 categories including sports, politics, travel and technology. Categories enable you to filter social news items and help you discover more Utopic-suggested content.

Utopic's user interface is also much-enhanced and now functions nicely on tablets and mobile devices, albeit in the browser and not in a native app experience.


9. Instapaper




Instapaper, a service for saving articles to read later, offers Kindle, iPad, iPhone and web users a way to consume news on their own time.

The 3-year-old tool has matured beyond its humble bookmarklet beginnings to become integrated into many of the web's most popular apps and services. Now, wherever you consume your online news, you're likely to find a "Read Later" button for saving stories to Instapaper, making it an indispensable news reader thanks to its more than one million members.


10. Read It Later (Digest)




Much like Instapaper, Read It Later is a tool for saving articles and web pages to read later on the web or via mobile application.

Digest (pictured), a $4.99 iPad in-app upgrade, restructures and sorts your reading list by topic in a view that resembles the magazine style pioneered by Flipboard.


11. PostPost




PostPost is a Facebook newspaper that presents items from your Facebook newsfeed in a more manageable fashion.

PostPost's web app pulls in news, links, videos and photos from Facebook. You can view all types of content together or navigate to a specific section -- think pictures or videos -- of your personalized paper.

The service's Facebook integration allows for Facebook "Liking," sharing and commenting as well.


12. XYDO




XYDO is a social network for news that's intended to be like Digg or Reddit, but for a younger generation.

XYDO's web app organizes and personalizes online news by tapping into your social graph and interests. It also collects news from tens of thousands of online sources and matches articles to what other users are sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

The end result is a list of news ranked by popularity, as determined by social shares and on-site up votes. You can choose to filter stories by community (topic) and connections.


13. StumbleUpon




StumbleUpon is an oldie but a goodie. It allows for the serendipitous discovery of news, photos, videos and websites via web, mobile or tablet.

Launched in 2001, StumbleUpon was acquired by eBay in 2007 and then purchased back by its original investors in 2009. Now a startup once again, StumbleUpon is showing that it can iterate quickly and compete with newer innovations and trendier startups in the social information discovery space. Plus, its mobile apps, released last year, are helping it to grow substantially -- it's now serving up 1 billion stumbles and counting per month.


For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, urbancow

More About: Flipboard, FLUD, Instapaper, linkedin today, media, News, news.me, postpost, pulse, Read It Later, Smartr, stumbleupon, utopic, xydo, zite

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Gilt Groupe Launches Online Culinary Magazine With No Ads

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:41 PM PDT


Gilt Groupe launched an online culinary magazine to public beta Wednesday — a brand new venture for the invite-only sales company. Gilt has recently added new sales categories, including travel and home decor, but online content represents a radical departure.

Gilt Taste mimics both the content and aesthetics of a leading food magazine — which is hardly a coincidence, given that former Gourmet editor in chief Ruth Reichl is serving as editorial advisor to the operation. It includes exhaustively tested recipes, beautiful photography and articles about the sourcing, politics and creation of food.

But the resemblance to a magazine ends there. For one thing, there are no ads. The content on the site is built around a catalog of products, from rare kinds of meat and seafood to specialized produce and equipment, which Gilt plans to sell to an affluent readership.

Those readers will have access to an ongoing selection of foods, as well as flash sales of limited-quantity products. Items will be shipped directly from the source — farm, purveyor or store — to customers.


A New Model for E-Commerce


Like men’s retail site Mr Porter, Gilt Taste is a promising example of a larger shift in the ecommerce industry, in which shopping sites blend content and commerce, becoming more like magazines in the process.

“This is our first true merger of content and commerce,” Gilt Groupe Chairman and CEO Susan Lyne explains. “It’s something we’ve been talking about a lot, and we’re convinced that the two big rivers of the Internet — content and commerce – are moving together.”

Reichl emphasizes that if Gilt Taste “was just a catalog of products — no matter how wonderful — I wouldn’t want to be involved. What makes Gilt Taste unique is that it’s a new kind of magazine, one that has no ads and is supported solely by sales. We don’t just want to sell you great products — we want to tell you the stories of the people who create them and inspire you with delicious new ways to use them,” she adds.

Parent company Gilt Groupe raised $138 million in a round of funding announced earlier this month.

More About: Food, gilt, gilt groupe, gilt taste, media

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LinkedIn Founder Could Net $855 Million in Thursday’s IPO

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:39 PM PDT


LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman could net roughly $855 million, and CEO Jeffrey Weiner could be worth as much as $103.5 million, when the company goes public Thursday, according to documents filed with the SEC.

Hoffman owns a total of 19,066,032 shares in the company. With the share price estimated to be as high as $45, he will easily net more than half a billion dollars. Weiner, a former Yahoo executive who joined LinkedIn in 2009, holds 2,322,726 shares, or 2.5% of the shares, compared to Hoffman's 21.2%.

Others benefiting the most from tomorrow’s IPO include "entities affiliated with Sequoia Capital,” who will net $588 million at a $35 share price and their counterparts at Greylock Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, who will get about $490 million and $158 million, respectively.

The documents also show that Weiner was paid $541,436 in salary and bonuses in 2010. That figure, which includes a $290,194 bonus, will likely increase in 2011; his base salary is already set to jump to $450,000.

Half of Weiner's bonus is based on the company's revenues, unique visitors, members, page views and earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization (ebitda). The other half is based on the board of directors’ judgement of his ability to lead. However, it’s worth noting that Weiner is also a member of LinkedIn's board, and there are only seven people on it.

More About: ipo, linkedin, Reid Hoffman

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San Francisco Police To Carry Video Cameras

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:28 PM PDT


Police in San Francisco will start using video cameras to record arrests — a step officials hope will help quell police misconduct.

At the direction of police chief Greg Suhr, the city police department will test several cameras during arrests that require search warrants or consent, including drug busts. The cameras will likely be a small, hands-free part of the officers’ uniforms.

The San Francisco Examiner first broke the news, saying that local criminal defense attorneys have increasingly been using such footage to show police abuse of power.

Of course, the department will be keeping a close eye on costs. Whatever devices police end up using will have to be inexpensive to purchase, use and maintain.

Still, any measure that could provide accurate and indisputable proof of police activities and behavior can help minimize corruption. San Francisco has recently seen several cases where officers were videotaped allegedly stealing items from suspects. With the promise of constant surveillance, officers will be forced to play by the book.

And of course, if this tech works well (and cost efficiently) in San Francisco, we expect to see it implemented in other cities in the future. Already, police departments in Austin, Texas; Whitsunday, Australia; and San Jose, California have tested similar devices.

What do you think of the cops-with-cams trend? Is this something you think would help or hurt your own community?

More About: cameras, civic, cops, police

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Want 206 Girlfriends on Facebook? Axe Has You Covered [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:11 PM PDT


If you live in Tunisia, you might have noticed that some of your bros have been racking up the ladies on Facebook lately — and appear to be “in a relationship” with hundreds of girls.

That’s not a testament to their pickup skills, but rather a new Axe campaign from Ogilvy Tunisia. In March Axe created an app that let users list themselves as being in a relationship with or engaged to multiple ladies.

When other users clicked on that status, they were taken to the Axe app, where they too could rack up their conquests. According to the video below, the idea plays on “a typically male Tunisian characteristic: bragging about how many girls one can line up.” (We were not aware that this trait was only limited to Tunisia.) The app quickly spread to thousands of people.

The line of body washes and fragrances is no stranger to controversial advertising campaigns — in February, the company launched “Swipe an Angel,” an iAd for Axe in the UK. The ad, created by BBH London, let users manipulate female angels from the ads by making them spin around and shed their feathers when the iPhone is shaken.

What do you think of Axe’s multi-girlfriend campaign? Funny or fail?

[via Social Times]

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Don Hankins

More About: Axe, facebook, MARKETING, trending

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LinkedIn IPO: Is It a Good Buy? [POLL]

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:03 PM PDT


Business social networking site LinkedIn is set to go public on Thursday, marking one of the highest profile Internet IPOs since Google's in 2004 and spurring talk of whether we've entered another tech bubble as valuations for startups continue to climb.

Earlier this week, LinkedIn raised the price of its offering by 30%, in turn valuing the company at north of $4 billion. As WSJ noted, the increase was the biggest pre-IPO bump since 2000, when the last tech bubble popped. (As a side note, 63.67% of our readers thought Microsoft paid too much when it bought Skype for $8.5 billion last week).

That said, LinkedIn does have significant revenue ($243 million last year), is still growing quite fast and is increasingly profitable, something that can't be said for many of the dotcoms of yesteryear. Here's how its likely price to revenue ratio stacks up to some other publicly traded Internet companies (data via Yahoo! Finance):

  • RenRen: 65.2
  • Baidu: 33.1
  • LinkedIn: 16.4
  • Salesforce.com: 10.4
  • Google: 5.5
  • Demand Media: 4.4

Taking all of that into account, would you be a buyer of LinkedIn at its likely IPO valuation of $4 billion? Vote in our poll:


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Zynga Makes 14 Acquisitions in 12 Months

Posted: 18 May 2011 12:40 PM PDT


Zynga has acquired social game studio DNA Games, making this the 14th acquisition in the past year.

DNA Games is the studio behind Facebook games Casino City, Slot City and Barworld. Casino City, DNA’s most popular game, has 1.5 million monthly active users. The San Francisco-based game studio will remain an independent entity within Zynga, as happened after the Newtoy acquisition.

Some of Zynga’s other acquisitions from the past year were “acqui-hires,” acquisitions of only a company’s team and not its assets. The social gaming giant has gobbled up:

Obama Campaign Starts Selling “Made in the USA” Merchandise

Posted: 18 May 2011 12:20 PM PDT


The Obama 2012 campaign has started selling "Made in the USA" T-shirts and coffee mugs on its website, featuring the slogan that is typically printed on goods produced in the United States and a picture of the president.

The merchandise is an obvious reference to the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's birth certificate, which the White House posted online in April. Both the shirt and the mug, which can be had for minimum donations to the campaign of $30 and $15, respectively, also have the document in question pictured.

Although the birth certificate may seem like last month's story, an Obama official told ABC News that the merchandise is being released now, in part, to combat a new book by Jerome Corsi titled "Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President."

On a related note, this past weekend's Saturday Night Live also showcased some apparel we think is slightly less likely to make its way to the Obama 2012 store: "killed Bin Laden" T-shirts.

More About: barack obama, memes, politics, t-shirts, trending

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What Does the Social Good Ecosystem Look Like? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 18 May 2011 12:05 PM PDT

Blackbaud, a fundraising software company, has put together an infographic that tries to answer the question: “What good is social good?”

Much is made of social good as a revolutionary tool for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropy. But the transient, high-speed nature of social networks can make social good campaigns difficult to measure.

Blackbaud’s infographic, posted on its Netwits Think Tank blog, offers a great overview of the social good ecosystem, including stats on U.S. online fundraising, average donation, fundraising method, motivation and type of cause supported.

It’s an interesting overview for social good tech heads and casual users alike who are interested in learning how the digital space is making a difference both online and offline.

What do you think of the findings? Let us know in the comments.

social giving infographic

More About: blackbaud, charity, ecosystem, infographic, non-profit, online giving, social good, social media

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Why Governments Will Benefit From Embracing Technology

Posted: 18 May 2011 11:43 AM PDT


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Governments have been harnessing consumer-facing technology to reach out to their citizens in some very interesting ways.

In the spaces between location-aware technology, web services, mobile apps and social media tools, there is a ton of opportunity for governments — from small cities to entire nations — to do their jobs with more efficiency and transparency.

In this post, we’ve tapped two experts in this precise field. Kurt Daradics is a co-founder of CitySourced, a startup that gives governments tools to collect information and alerts from citizens via a mobile app. We also chatted with Abhi Nemani, Director of Strategy and Communications at Code for America, a nonprofit that custom-builds open-source web and mobile applications for a select group of governments each year. Here’s what they had to say about technology and government.


The Tech Trend


First of all, Daradics points out just how new the field is. “It’s the wild west of civic engagement, and the playing field is being leveled with a perfect storm of pervasive broadband, mature GIS (Geographic Information Systems), web services, and social media, plus all the open APIs and data sets that are now available. On top of that you add mobility, which is not only a new channel, but a new group of users. Nielsen data indicates that low income and minorities are twice as likely to engage via mobile phone vs. desktop ISP.”

When he puts it that way, it’s easy to see how the perfect combinations between tech and government are just now being created.

Nemani says a lot of the trend is due to a proactive attitude from governments, too. “In the past, it was more citizens themselves pushing for the use of technology, but now governments are catching on and stepping up, so there’s a developing ecosystem of governments and citizens working together.”

Data-driven policy is a trend Daradics sees playing a big role in government’s near future. Daradics cites tools such as Esri Community Analyst, a demographic data and planning mapping software, as giving officials usable information for making important decisions.

And Nemani says open data, wherein any developer can access huge amounts of civic information, is a huge trend right now, as well. “Want to see it at work? Just pull up any of the apps you’re probably using to track the bus or subway.”


Faster, Better, Cheaper


In the wake of a global recession, just about everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs. Nemani says technology is a necessary way to accomplish this for governments.

“Opening up avenues to participation is crucial for governments to adapt both new technology and the budget crisis. Leveraging technology is not just a nice or ‘cool’ thing to do — it’s critical if governments are going to cut costs while still providing core services.”

He cites the impressive and money-saving IT Dashboard as a great example of open-sourced, government-focused tech that has the power to save governments (and even larger corporations) millions or even billions of dollars.

But not all of the tools governments can use are custom-built solutions. “Just look what’s happening in the Middle East right now as a result of Twitter and Facebook,” Daradics notes. “And these services are completely free.

“The easiest and least expensive ways for governments to help is to communicate with their residents in the same ways that we all now communicate with our friends and family.”


Why Tech, Why Now?


“We’re trying to make government more like the Internet,” says Nemani. “More participatory, user-driven and efficient. But it’s more than just about the apps we build. We’re building a geek army.”

Nemani continues that empowered and involved citizens can and will make a difference. And governments can take full advantage of those same citizens to change the way they work “from the inside out.” He says hacking away on apps for the public good is “a new kind of public service.”

“This work has to be done,” Daradics concludes. “Folks are so apathetic and don’t participate [because] they don’t get the positive feedback that their contribution is meaningful or makes a difference. … By leveraging the latest technologies, we’re taking the friction out of civic engagement. Our mission is complete when we’ve sufficiently moved the needle on folks taking leadership roles in their communities.

“It’s time to wake up the neighborhood.”


Series Supported by BMW i


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

images courtesy of iStockphoto, ryccio

More About: citizens, citysourced, civic, code for america, community, Global Innovation Series, government

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Gauge Your Twitter Influence & Everyone Else’s

Posted: 18 May 2011 11:23 AM PDT


Want to see how influential you are on Twitter? A new app called Sneak Peek not only does that; it also tells you how influential everyone else is.

Visibli, a web analytics firm, aims to be a "Compete for social sharing" with the app, which went live on May 17. Sneak Peek makes a couple of metrics publicly available: clicks on links and clicks on reshared links. The former are original links, while the latter are retweets, though Visibli CEO Saif Ajani says he avoided that term since many users don't use the "RT" designation when they retweet.

For instance, a look at Ashton Kutcher's Twitter stream over the past two weeks shows a big bump on May 11, when he retweeted Amazon's announcement that the movie No Strings Attached (which he stars in) was available on Blu-ray and DVD. That retweet yielded 2,402 clicks.

A person’s Twitter stats can be found by typing in his or her handle. Ajani hopes to get ad agencies and marketers to sign up for the paid version of Visibli, which provides data from a much longer period. Right now, a look at the past 14 days is free without registration. Users must register to see stats from the past 30 days — or what’s happening in real time.

The app uses information compiled from Twitter's API as well as APIs from Twitter apps like Bit.ly and TweetDeck, among others. Visibli is not the only firm to measure Twitter influence, of course. Klout, for one, does the same thing.

But Ajani's plan is to offer the same visibility that Compete offers for website traffic (even though many dispute Compete's numbers) for sharing in all of social media, including Facebook. "We've got some kickass analytics that track in real-time everything you share," he says.

Image courtesy of Flickr, David Shankbone

More About: bit.ly, compete, facebook, klout, MARKETING, tweetdeck, twitter, Visibli

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Can Twitter Apps Access Your DMs? New Permissions Screen Sheds Light

Posted: 18 May 2011 11:07 AM PDT


When you authorize a third-party application access to your Twitter account, do you know exactly which pieces of your account — direct messages, for instance — the application gains access to? Twitter has introduced new permissions features to provide more clarity and help you make informed decisions before you click the “Authorize app” button.

Beginning Wednesday, you will see a new permissions screen with a comprehensive list of actions that the third-party application will be able to do once a connection is authorized.

The permissions screen will inform you whether the application is requesting to read your tweets, see who you follow, update your profile, post to Twitter on your behalf, access your direct messages or all of the above. You won’t have granular control over allowing an application to perform one activity and not another, but the list is intended to encourage you to think before you authorize access.

Twitter is also requiring applications that access your direct messages — arguably the most sensitive information of all — to be a bit more responsible. These applications will need to explicitly ask for your permission again. Plus, Twitter is revoking direct message access from applications that do not need access to that information.

“By the end of the month, applications that do not need access to your direct messages will no longer have it, and you can continue to use these apps as usual,” Twitter corporate communications staffer Jodi Olson writes on Twitter’s blog.

Olson indicates that the permissions updates were implemented in response to requests from users and developers.

Will the additional information make you think twice before you grant access to third-party Twitter apps?

More About: app permissions, trending, twitter, twitter apps

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WiebeTech RTX220-QR: A Hard Drive Enclosure for Video & Photo Pros

Posted: 18 May 2011 10:51 AM PDT


The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging … now that's positivenergy™.

Product: WiebeTech RTX220-QR – Quad interface External RAID

Price: $499.99 for the base system (no drives), though you can find it for as low as $400 online. MSRP as configured (with a 2TB RAID 1 setup) is $723.00.

What It’s Good For: Power users (like myself, who get skittish about data backup) will appreciate that this unit uses a pure RAID implementation. That’s useful not only for reading other RAID drives I have lying around, but means that if I need to mount a RAID 1 drive from the RTX220 in another RAID enclosure, I can, no problem.

Who It’s Good For: Photographers and videographers who need a RAID solution and a fast, effective backup procedure. It’s also good for small businesses that need to keep their data mirrored or quickly accessible.

Limitations: The two-bay configuration might be limiting for users who manage multiple machines — the quad-bay RTX400-QR is the better choice here. Even without drives (the RTX220 takes any standard SATA 1 or SATA 2 3.5″ hard drive), the unit is expensive when compared to some other RAID solutions.

Bottom Line: The RTX220-QR is a well-built solution for professionals looking at a robust RAID solution, without having to deal with proprietary drive systems or expensive enclosures. It’s expensive, but if your business relies on data security and having fast access to lots of content, it might be worth it.


A Look at the WiebeTech RTX220-QR


WiebeTech’s RTX220-QR is a two-bay RAID system that supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. It connects to a Mac or PC using USB, FireWire 400/800 and eSATA. We tested the Mac OS X configuration with both an iMac and a MacBook Pro, both using FireWire 800. It’s designed as a fast, proprietary-free solution for users who cycle through lots and lots of drives and want a fast way to create backup disks.

It can also be used as a Time Machine backup for Mac OS X, with the advantage of creating a second backup (for offsite storage) for important data. It also makes replicating backups onto another disk if one of the disks was showing signs of failure super fast.

I was surprised at how fast the RAID performed, even in the RAID 1 (mirror) configuration. The speeds I was getting over FireWire 800 were much faster than what I typically get with other enclosures and with my networked RAID setup on my FreeNAS box. While not a necessity, having a gigabit Ethernet port on the device would be useful, especially in a multi-machine environment. We hope future versions support Thunderbolt, thus providing Mac users with a way past the FireWire 800 bottleneck. Also, be warned: While idle, the unit is quiet, but when the fans kick in, it’s loud.

Videographers who want to create a RAID 0 scratch-disk for Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere will feel at home with the unit. It configures itself quickly and in my tests, was noticeably faster both with transfers and with rebuilding than using an older Drobo unit.

The front LED on the unit displays alerts, drive temperature and access speeds, plus any alarms or drive warnings. The trayless drive bays are fantastic — just open the door, pull out the drive, slide a new drive in and close the door. No screws, no mounts, no special drive bays. This is really handy for users who cycle through lots of drives and don’t want to have to worry about constantly attaching sleds or proprietary trays.


Front View




WiebeTech RTX220-QR is built like a tank. It weighs 11.5 pounds with two drives, but it has a nice handle at the top that makes the system surprisingly portable.


Rear View




The unit comes with four different interface options:

  • eSATA 3.0GHz
  • FireWire 800
  • FireWire 400, via an included adaptor cable
  • USB 2.0

The unit also has a built-in fan for ventilation and a standard three-prong AC power adaptor.


Trayless Bay System




Inserting drives into the RTX220-QR is a cinch. Simply push the drive door open and remove the drive. Insert a new drive in its place by pushing it in and closing the door.

No proprietary drive caddies or sleds are needed and this makes it very easy to load up archived drives either to access content or to create new backups on the fly.


Powered On




The LCD display shows drive status, drive temperatures and any alerts or alarms. The output can be configured using the included software, so that fans come on at a certain temperature or alarms go off when certain drive behavior is encountered.


Series Supported by Energizer®


The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging. Energizer® has always been designed with performance and responsibility in mind … now that's positivenergy™.

More About: backup solutions, Gadget of the Day Series, raid, RAID 1, reviews, WiebeTech RTX220-QR

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