Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “iPhone App Tells You if Sony’s PSN Is Up Or Down”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “iPhone App Tells You if Sony’s PSN Is Up Or Down”

iPhone App Tells You if Sony’s PSN Is Up Or Down

Posted: 26 May 2011 04:29 AM PDT

When one of your most important online services is down for nearly a month – which is exactly what happened to Sony’s PlayStation Network after a series of hacker attacks – you should do everything you can to inform the users about its availability, cause if you don’t, someone else will do it for you.

Case in point: this iPhone app, called PSN Status, has only one simple feature: it checks if the PSN network is offline or online.

Since Sony started restoring PSN a couple of days ago, the app is not as useful as it would have been a month ago. However, with a constant stream of reports about new hacker attacks on Sony’s servers and services, it’s not that hard to imagine the PlayStation Network going dark again.

The app is available for free in Apple’s App Store.

[via Touch Arcade]

More About: App, iOS, iphone, playstation network, PSN, PSN Status, sony

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Kabam Raises a Whopping $85 Million to Become the Zynga of Hardcore Games

Posted: 26 May 2011 02:33 AM PDT

Just months after it raised $30 million, social game developer Kabam has secured an eye-popping $85 million to become the Zynga of hardcore social games.

The massive funding round was co-led by Google Ventures and Pinnacle Ventures. Performance Equity and SK Telecom Ventures joined the round, as did previous investors Canaan Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Intel Capital.

Like Zynga, Kabam makes a suite of social games for Facebook and the web. However, instead of catering to the casual gaming crowd, Kabam focuses on the “hardcore” gamers — the male teens that play Halo, Call of Duty and Bioshock. Kabam CEO Kevin Chou told Mashable that 82% of its audience actively play PC or console games and that 70% of its demographic is male.

Some of Kabam’s top games include Glory of Rome, Dragons of Atlantis and Kingdoms of Camelot. Dragons of Atlantis, the company’s most popular game, has around 4 million monthly active users.

Chou says the money is primarily for accelerating its growth in Asia, increasing the amount of games it brings to market and launching games in other hardcore gaming verticals, such as strategy gaming. Asia seems to be the company’s primary target, though. It’s not surprising, given the region’s wider acceptance of hardcore gaming and its greater propensity for virtual goods.

Infrastructure costs also played a role in the decision to raise such a large round. Chou says that the investment by Google Ventures benefits Kabam because Google has deep knowledge in scaling, data centers, marketing (Adwords) and mobile (Android). It’s important to note that Google itself has a major investment in Zynga. Chou doesn’t believe that Zynga and Kabam are rivals because they target different demographics with their games.

The company has also been on a massive hiring spree. In January 2010, the company had 25 employees, but today has more than 400.

Kabam’s making a big bet that traditional gamers are slowly going to give up their PCs and consoles in favor of web-based games. While a single console game can cost $50 to $60, Kabam’s games are free. They also have the additional benefit of being social outlets for gamers, a phenomenon known all too well by players of World of Warcraft or other massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs).

More About: Google Ventures, Kabam, social games, Zynga

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LG Revolution and Three Other Smartphones Land at Verizon

Posted: 26 May 2011 02:01 AM PDT

Verizon is expanding its smartphone roster in a big way today, with the introduction of four new devices: LG Revolution, Xperia Play, HTC Trophy and Motorola Droid X2.

The LG Revolution‘s claim to fame is LTE-capability, which makes it the faster device in this bunch as far as data transfer speeds go. Other than that, it’s a mid-to-high range Android smartphone with a 4.3-inch, 800×480 pixel screen, single-core 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU, a 5-megapixel back camera and a 1.3-megapixel front one for video calls and 16 GB of storage memory.

The Droid X2 is a more powerful beast with a dual-core 1 GHz CPU, and 8-megapixel back camera, and a 4.3 inch, 960 x 540 display. The lack of LTE makes it $50 cheaper than the LG revolution, though: it costs $199 with a two-year contract with Verizon.

The HTC Trophy is a fairly standard Windows Phone 7 device, with a 3.8-inch, 480×800 pixel display, a 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU, a 5-megapixel back camera, 16 GB of storage memory, all of which makes it the cheapest device in this bunch – it goes for $149 with a two-year contract.

Finally, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, as the only phone to bear the PlayStation mark, has the distinction of being made for gaming, while otherwise it’s another Android with a 4-inch, 480×854 display, 1 GHz CPU (with an additional Adreno 205 GPU to power all that graphics-intensive games), and an 8 GB pre-installed memory card. It will set you back $199 with a two-year contract.

Which one of these devices do you fancy the most? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

[via Verizon, Engadget]

More About: Droid X2, HTC Trophy, LG Revolution, smartphones, verizon, Xperia Play

For more Mobile coverage:

Hello Bar Sees 200M Installs to Help Japan, Announces Pro Version [INVITES]

Posted: 26 May 2011 12:30 AM PDT

The makers of the Hello Bar, a dead-simple web design feature anyone can use on a site, have told Mashable that the company has served more than 200 million Hello Bars to help Japan.

The company conservatively estimates the tool helped raise $2 million for the Red Cross and other organizations working to help the Japanese people recover from a string of natural and nuclear disasters.

“We had some heavy hitters like the Seattle Seahawks using it,” writes Chuck Longanecker of digitaltelepathy, the web shop that created the Hello Bar as well as SlideDeck, the popular JavaScript image slider.

Longanecker said of consumers’ use of the Hello Bar during the Japan crises, “It’s inspired us to continue to support causes with out platform.”

Other big news includes the official launch of the tool’s Pro version. All users will get a free 2-week trial of Hello Bar Pro, after which the upgrade will cost $25 per month.

In addition to the tool’s usual features (a slim bar that sits atop your site for as long as you tell it to, delivering customized text, links and design), Hello Bar Pro will also give users:

  • A/B testing tools to see which text, links and colors are most effective
  • Advanced statistics, including A/B results
  • Dynamic Hello Bars that pull text and links from RSS feeds
  • Up to 10 Hello Bars, all free of Hello Bar branding
  • An always-on-top feature that keeps the Hello Bar in view during scrolling

If you don’t currently have Hello Bar access and would like to try it out, just go to the Hello Bar website and use the invite key mashable. That key will be good for the first 500 people.

More About: hello bar, japan

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Startup Brings Group Buying to Digital Games, Books & Services

Posted: 25 May 2011 10:27 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.


Quick Pitch: runs group deals for digital goods.

Genius Idea: Targeting businesses with low marginal costs.

The amount of money consumers spend on products that only exist in a digital sense is increasing — the number of ebooks sold on Amazon recently surpassed the number of physical books, and some estimates predict that branded virtual goods alone will reach an annual revenue of $318 million by 2015.

Mainstream sites like Groupon have not excluded such products from their offerings. But since just about every niche product category has sprouted its own group buying site, it seems fitting that digital apps, games, services and content get a site of their own. is the first digital-products-focused group buying site we’ve noticed step up to the plate. The site, which launches today, plans to offer one deal every 2-3 days using what it calls a tipping point system. The first deal — $20 of credit for a casual game tournament site called — costs $15 if at least 15 people buy the deal, $10 if at least 50 buy it and $10 if at least 100 people buy it.

These tipping points incentivize consumers to share and promote the deals they buy. Similar mechanisms have worked well for Livingsocial, which gives users a free deal if three of their friends buy a deal, and Groupon, which gives users $10 in credit for referring a new user.

Digital products are a good target for group buying because they typically have low marginal costs. “The company spends the same amount whether one person or 1,000 people download the game,” explains CEO Justin Groden.

Not so with a business like a restaurant, which has to buy supplies for 100 discounted meals if it sells 100 deals for them. In this way, a group deal might be less risky for a company that produces a digital product. These companies, however, won’t be jumping to offer deals until proves it can provide interested customers.

Groden mentioned features ranging from badges to referral rewards that might help grow a user base, but at day one of operation, it’s too soon whether to tell if the process of acquiring users will be the hurdle that crashes or lifts the startup.

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: group buying, groupon, living social, virtual goods

For more Startups coverage:

The Eating Habits of Conservatives Versus Liberals [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 25 May 2011 09:41 PM PDT

Did you know a political conservative is more likely to prefer McDonald’s French fries than his liberal counterpart? He’s also more likely to qualify Chinese takeout as “exotic ethnic food.”

On the other hand, self-identified left-leaners are more likely to drink wine with meals at home (conservatives go for juice or milk), and they’re also more likely than conservatives to enjoy beer drinking.

But there’s one thing politicos of all stripes can agree on: We like our tacos with a soft tortilla, thank you very much.

These insights come from collective intelligence decision-making system, a site that’s gathering data from millions of web users about preferences and building a “taste graph” for the entire Internet. In this analysis, Hunch breaks down eating habits and preferences by political attitudes. The infographic itself was created by the talented souls at Column Five Media.

Click to see larger version.

Top image courtesy of Flickr, jeremybrooks

More About: conservative, eating, Food, hunch, liberal, politics

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Android App Indexes Your Life & Augments Your Memory [INVITES]

Posted: 25 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: Friday

Quick Pitch: Friday is an automated journal for Android meant to augment human memory. Users can ask the app questions about events in their lives and Friday will provide accurate results.

Genius Idea: A personal search engine for your Android device.

We use our mobile phones to do a lot more than make phone calls. We snap and share photos, manage our calendars, update our friends on our status, listen to music, send email, text message friends and family, and use our phones to navigate the world.

In many ways, the actions we take on our mobile phones are representative of our lives, tracking who we know, what we do and where we go. Friday, a private alpha application by India-based startup Dexetra, looks to help you collect these mobile moments and build a journal that you can reference and recall.

“We are helping people remember their lives,” Dexetra co-founder Binil Antony explains. “We thought that since the role being played by the smartphone is so significant, why not use it to assist people?”

Friday indexes and aggregates most of the available data streams on your phone. This includes your calls, text messages, emails, music, battery life, calendar events, photos and location. It uses this information to create a semantic map of your life.

You can use Friday to revisit a past day in your life or you can ask the application questions about where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Think of the latter as a memory aide. For instance, say you want to locate specific photos you took while traversing Central Park and listening to Lady Gaga. Input “photos taken from Central Park while listening to Lady Gaga,” and Friday will fetch them for you.

Essentially, Friday indexes your actions to build your own personal search engine.

Friday also creates an analytics engine around your life, tracking activities, places and events. Who do you call the most? Where do you spend most of your time? Friday will tell you. Sure, it’s less practical than the self-discovery side of the application, but it’s your personal data in aggregate.

Antony says the startup’s next priority is to release cloud synchronization to allow users to search and browse their mobile footprint from anywhere. Also in the works is a feature he calls “Intelligent Suggestions.” Friday would recognize patterns in your behaviors and make suggestions accordingly. If, for instance, you’re always at the same place at the same time every Monday, Friday would send you an alert if you’re not there at your usual time.

Dexetra first released Friday in late February and has more than 5,000 users. The startup has raised a small seed round of funding.

500 Mashable readers can get access to the application by signing up for an alpha invite on Friday’s site and inputting the code “Mashable500″ in the “Why would you want to try out Friday?” field.

Friday Dashboard

Friday Landing Page

Login Screen

Map View


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: Android App, bizspark, Dexetra, Friday app, spark-of-genius, startup

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“American Idol” Twitter Curse Is Right Again [SPOILER]

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:51 PM PDT

Sweet-faced Southern belle Lauren Alaina gracefully bowed out as 17-year-old baritone and Southern gentleman Scotty McCreery walked away with the honors for this season’s American Idol singing competition. Strangely enough, Twitter predicted the winner in an unexpected way.

It’s called the “Twitter curse,” where the number of tweets about a contestant has an odd way of predicting that contestant’s likelihood of being voted off the show. Sure enough, as you can see in the graphic below, Lauren Alaina received significantly more tweets than Scotty McCreery leading up to tonight’s finale.

In fact, using data generated by social TV iPhone app Yap.TV Pulse for Idol, in each of the last four weeks of the competition, whichever singer received the highest number of tweets was sent home. Surprisingly, there was only one week this season where the Twitter front runner was not voted off the show.

Could it be that Twitter users tweet more about contestants they don’t like? Not necessarily. For instance, in the case of Pia Toscano, a popular contestant voted off the show in early April, tweets about her were mostly positive, according to Yap.TV reps.

But take another look at the graphic from Yap.TV, and you’ll see that while Alaina received more tweets, at the same time she garnered more negative and neutral tweets than Scotty McCreery.

Things were different at Facebook, where popularity among its users more accurately predicted tonight’s winner. McCreery’s Facebook page has garnered more “Likes” than Alaina’s, and the Los Angeles Times reports that according to Mediabase, his song “I Love You This Big” has gotten more radio airplay.

Graphic courtesy Los Angeles Times and Yap.TV

More About: american idol, American Idol winner, facebook, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, trending, Twitter curse, winner

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Microsoft’s Web-Based Marketplace to Send Apps to Windows Phones

Posted: 25 May 2011 06:48 PM PDT

When Microsoft rolls out its Mango operating system for Windows Phone 7 this fall, the company will debut a new web-based version of its Windows Phone Marketplace at the same time, according to Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Blog.

The web-based Marketplace will let users select and buy any of the platform’s 17,000 apps on a web browser and then send them directly to their Windows phones over the air.

When clarifying the service to Engadget, Microsoft said it expects most customers to download apps to a Windows phone over the air, but that if the Marketplace service is not activated on a cellphone, it will use SMS to turn on the over-the-air app service before software is downloaded and installed.

Microsoft added that users will also have the capability of sending themselves an email with a link to the app, but the company expects most users will instead let the apps install in the background.

The Mango operating system aims to make cellphones “smarter and easier,” focusing on efficient multitasking, enhanced cloud integration and better platform tools for developers.

More About: apps, mango, marketplace, microsoft, web-based marketplace, windows phone

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Digital Publishing & the Imperative to Preserve the Integrity of Print

Posted: 25 May 2011 05:31 PM PDT

Josh Koppel at Mashable Connect 2011

In 2010, Google estimated the number of unique books published in the whole of recorded history at just under 130 million. Josh Koppel, the founder of New York’s ScrollMotion, would love for every one of those volumes to be republished on the new digital platforms made possible by the iPad and other tablets. And that’s just books — for Koppel there are also magazines, newspapers, websites, journals and even financial reports and baseball cards that could use the tablet treatment.

Koppel’s desire to see the world’s information repackaged on mobile platforms isn’t one borne from greed, but rather for a deep respect for the printed word and a passion for preserving it. The iPad was a game changer in publishing, Koppel once told Mashable, because it was the first electronic reading device that legitimately felt additive, rather than reductive. Koppel’s work shows deference to the established art and culture of print, even while transitioning books and magazines to new digital formats that can enhance the way readers engage with content.

We had the to chance to sit down with Koppel following his presentation at Mashable Connect 2011, to discuss the transition of print media to digital and the future of publishing.

Q&A with Josh Koppel, Founder & Chief Creative Officer of ScrollMotion

Smartphones and tablets have challenged our notions of what printed “content” is and how it behaves. Yet, part of your goal at ScrollMotion is to preserve the culture of print even while pushing new digital boundaries. What’s the secret to finding a balance between adding value by taking advantage of available new tools and adversely affecting the integrity of the content?

"Everything we do must serve the book first.”

We believe that the book is an art form and the essential medium to tell the story of human history. Everything we do must serve the book first. Just like special effects can’t make a movie, the most important thing we can do is create a reading experience that is at its core, reading. All of the “stuff” — interactions, social media, RSS feeds, etc. — are all there to enhance the reading experience. If the book is overshadowed by the bells and whistles, it defeats the purpose.

One of the most important aspects of the ScrollMotion platform is that it’s not confined to just a single device. The ease in which you are able to repurpose content across multiple channels is due in large part to your decision to use HTML5. What are the advantages to that approach? How does it help you scale?

We see HTML as the only archival format. I can’t tell you what the next great feature of the iPad will be, but I'm pretty sure it will have a web browser. HTML5 allows publishers to put their content into open formats that are less likely to get marginalized. Who would have thought five years ago that proprietary formats like Flash would get pushed out of the workflow? But it has. And since our apps can support thousands of documents across a wide variety of content types, we make it very easy for brands that work with different types of media to produce a single solution across all of media.

During your presentation at Mashable Connect 2011, you mentioned the upcoming release of web-based publisher tools that would allow anyone to develop media-rich, interactive, multi-platform experiences. That strikes me as a potentially game changing development. How do you think such a drastically lowered barrier to entry might shake up the media and publishing industries?

ScrollMotion was founded on the idea that all of the print content in the world is going to be sold one more time. In a lot of cases, the publishers we work with ask for input on how to design a print-oriented interactive experience. But while we offer the tools to transform print to digital, we really feel that publishers need to own the creative process. They need to have a “Chinese menu” of interactions, features and tools, and be able to customize them in the way that they want, to best suit the needs of their customers. Otherwise it's just moving content from one venue to another, and what we want to do is create a truly interactive and engaged reading experience.

ScrollMotion has been able to consistently innovate in a rapidly transforming media industry. What inspires you? What drives you to keep looking for the next big thing?

The fact that the technology keeps changing and media models are shifting means that we're constantly being challenged to find new ways to bring content to life. The more new tablets introduced into the market, the more consumers buy, and the more opportunities we have to expand what we do. And, as more businesses and enterprise customers adopt tablets, which they are starting to do, the broader the playing field gets. There's an incalculable amount of printed material out there that has still yet to be transformed into digital, and that what's exciting to us.

What are the biggest challenges facing the publishing industry as it transitions to digital? How will ScrollMotion help meet those challenges?

"We see HTML as the only archival format. I can't tell you what the next great feature of the iPad will be, but I'm pretty sure it will have a web browser.”

Publishers are still figuring out how to transition their print businesses in a way that is both economical and efficient. Beyond just the technological revolution led by the iPad, it has also created a new sense of urgency among publishers to transform their printed pages into pixels.

I think that the more publishers recognize that digital publishing and digital books are here to stay, the more likely they'll want to engage audiences in new and unique ways. But, they need to realize that digital publishing and digital books can't just be about migrating printed content to tablets and smartphones. People aren't going to pay for that. What publishers will have to do is enhance the user experience, which is where we come in.

You’ve been ahead of the curve in your industry for the past decade. As publishers start to explore producing content specifically for digital mediums, what will the media landscape look like? What’s coming next?

ScrollMotion is a company that was founded on the belief that all of the content in the world will be sold one more time on mobile devices. Our job is to help publishers make this transformation. I think you'll start to see, very soon, more original content that's evolving from printed content on digital devices – whether it's self published or through an established player in the media industry.

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

More About: interview, ipad, Mobile 2.0, publishing, scrollmotion, tablets, trending

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Tech Blog GigaOM Shifts Focus to Premium Content

Posted: 25 May 2011 04:33 PM PDT

GigaOM has raised $6 million in venture capital funding primarily to build out its premium subscription service, the digital media company announced Wednesday.

Although most think of GigaOM as a consumer-facing technology blog, the company is increasingly shifting its focus to its B2B premium content product, GigaOM Pro, which offers in-depth research and analysis in five areas: mobile, clean tech, cloud computing, collaboration and “digital lifestyles” for $199 annually.

About 80% of the funding will go toward improving the Pro product, including the expansion of its 100-strong network of analysts, says GigaOM CEO Paul Walborsky.

The company, which expects to turn a profit for the first time this year, is also exploring new verticals and international markets for the product, although Walborsky declined to outline anything specific. PaidContent noted that contributor Bobbie Johnson is headed to Europe to “build out” the publication’s presence there.

The round, the second the media company has raised in the past year and the sixth in its five-year history, was led by venture capital firm Reed Elsevier Ventures with participation from existing investors Alloy Ventures and True Ventures. (Om Malik, founder and Chairman of GigaOM, is a partner at True Ventures.)

GigaOm has accepted $15 million in financing to date.

More About: gigaom, media

For more Media coverage:

10 Creative Office Storage Solutions [PICS]

Posted: 25 May 2011 03:23 PM PDT

In most offices, whether at home or at a company, space is at a premium. To make the most of the square footage, you need to employ some clever storage solutions — and we’re not just talking beige filing cabinets.

We’ve found 10 creative and fun accessories for your office that, as well as keeping clutter to a minimum, might even put a smile on your face.

Have a look through the photo gallery of gorgeous storage solutions for your desk and its environs and let us know in the comments which ones you’d like to see everyday.

1. Bluelounge Nest

Bluelounge's colorful "Nest" is a neat desktop tidy for iPad owners. It will hold your iPad either horizontally or vertically with a hidden cradle that slides out. Meanwhile, the tray is a great place to keep keys, USB drives, change, etc.

Cost: $14.95

2. Mummy Mike Rubber Band Holder

We can't think of a more fun way to store rubber bands than wrapped around "Mummy Mike."

Cost: $12.99

3. HangUP Arcade Coat Hooks

Made from genuine vintage arcade machine parts, these funky coat hooks are available with black, red, blue, green, pink and yellow balltops for a retro-chic coat rack.

Cost: £39.99 (approx $65)

4. Uncapped

Described as an everyday pen cap "blown up to ridiculous proportions," this 8-inch ceramic holder is the light-hearted way to store your writing implements.

Cost: $15

5. LEGO Multibasket

Whether you use it as an office garbage can or as a storage basket, this official LEGO storage container (available in blue, black, red and white) is sure to bring the fun.

Cost: $35

6. Art Lebedev Vector

Art Lebedev's "Vector" desk tidy can be positioned either heading up or going down, presumably dependent on how optimistic you're feeling.

Cost: $12

7. Giant Paper Clip Wall Hook

This is not, as you might fear, an homage to Microsoft's Clippy. Instead, it is a witty way to hang your coat or bag in the office.

Cost: $12.95

8. TwelveSouth BackPack

TwelveSouth's "BackPack" fits all current iMacs and Apple Cinema Displays and offers a cool out-of-the-way method to shelve small items.

Cost: $29.99

9. Wood Whale

We adore Eric Pfeiffer's "Wood Whale," as a handsome homage to the marine mammal that sometimes pops up when Twitter goes down. It's a delightful way to store pens and pencils, while it will also hold a slimline phone in its mouth.

Cost: From $60

10. Pantone Boxes

Available in 14-0848, 377 C, 10 C, 672 C, 268 C and 186 C, these Pantone tins are a gorgeous way to color-code your office supplies.

Cost: $20 each

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

More About: accessories, design, gadgets, gallery, List, office, storage, tech, technology, trending

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Green Lantern Game Tests Teens Via Motion Capture [PICS]

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:53 PM PDT

A promotion for the upcoming movie Green Lantern uses a Kinect-like augmented reality motion-capture video game to promote an unlikely partner: the “got milk?” campaign.

The app, which went live on Tuesday at, asks teens to use the game to see if they have what it takes to be the Green Lantern. Using a standard webcam, the app asks prospective Green Lanterns to perform three feats: build a tower with blocks (strength), take an oddly shaped object and rotate it into a keyhole (focus) and rotate a shield to protect a ring from yellow balls of light (agility).

"We're trying to reach a teen audience to connect it to milk," says Jeremy Bernstein, senior vice president and group creative director at Deutsch, the ad agency behind the effort. "We wanted to do it in a way that's experiential and felt fresh."

What do you think? Is this an effective way to pitch milk to teens? Let us know in the comments.

The Game Interface

The "Focus" Challenge



More About: advertising, Augmented Reality, gaming, green lantern, kinect, MARKETING

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10 Ways For Entrepreneurs To Build Brands Online

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:21 PM PDT

brand image

Benjamin Lang is the founder of EpicLaunch and co-founder of MySchoolHelp. You can follow him on Twitter @entrepreneurpro and find out more at

Everybody needs to get their name out there on the social web. For entrepreneurs, however, it's an even more critical aspect of the job. A social presence gives you the credibility to attract clients, partners and investors by making yourself available and demonstrating your personality and experience.

Building your online brand in a meaningful way is no easy task, and there are many tools available to get you on the right path. Below, we’ve picked 10 tested methods and highlighted some of the best web tools to help your brand gain momentum in a crowded online marketplace.

1. Media Requests

Being quoted in news articles is an excellent way to demonstrate your authority. It's a free way to promote yourself and demonstrate thought leadership. There are a few excellent tools out there that connect reporters with people looking to get quoted.

  • HARO is an email digest that connects reporters and sources.
  • NewsBasis allows you to pitch stories to journalists.
  • FlackList is a Rolodex to help the media meet and maintain relationships with experts.
  • Media Kitty is a network that connects journalists with sources.

2. Custom Short URL

Having your own custom URL shortener is a great way to get your name out there. If you often share links on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, it's very useful. Eric Ries is a prime example. When he distributes a link, he uses his own shortened URL:

Here's an informative tutorial on how to set up your own shortened URL.

3. Q&A

Sharing your knowledge on Q&A sites is a superb way to build credibility around your name. There are quite a few sites to choose from, so start with the one that has the most buzz around it at the moment: Quora. Robert Scoble has demonstrated the value the site can provide. Having answered more than 500 questions, he's built a following of more than 22,000 people.

4. Profiles

Be present and active on social networks. It's crucial to set up your profiles and use the sites to your professional advantage.

Below are some of the top site to establish your presence:

  • Personal landing page
  • Facebook Page: A valuable way to stay connected with your fans
  • LinkedIn: A business network with full resumes
  • Google Profiles: An important tool for ranking high in search results
  • Twitter: A means to engage and spread your influence through conversation
  • Disqus: Share your knowledge through comments

5. Meetups

Participating in meetups is another excellent way to network and build clout. There a few good tools for finding interesting events in your area. Here are two to get started with:

  • Meetup: Join groups of people that interest you then meet in person.
  • Plancast: You can see which events your friends are attending.

6. Social Email Signatures

Turn your email signature into a social and informative experience. When exchanging emails, everyone in your network will easily be able to find out more about you.

Wisestamp is a popular signature plugin that allows you to create sleek signatures with social icons, RSS feeds and more.

7. Guest Posting

Search for blogs in your area of expertise and pitch them specific ideas for posts. Each blog has its own style and focus, so make sure to tailor your pitches to each outlet. Be ready to share writing samples if asked, and be open to working with editors to revise your post as necessary. Alltop and Technorati are good places to start looking for tops blogs within your area of expertise.

8. Virtual Business Cards

Create a virtual business card so that it's easy for people to find you and share your information with others. There are many ways to go about this:

  • MiniCard: Buy a domain name and set up a business card-like site.
  • QR Code: Have people scan your unique QR code instead of handing out text-filled cards.
  • Twtbizcard: This site lets you transform your Twitter profile into a business card.
  • Bump: This is an app that allows you to bump phones together to connect with people.

9. Newsletter

Sending out a monthly newsletter will allow you to build up a vast network. If you share valuable content with subscribers, they will then share it with their friends — bringing you a new subscribers and fans. If you do a good job, your list will continue to grow.

Some of the more popular newsletter services include:

  • Mailchimp: A newsletter platform that is free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Tiny Letter: A simple platform for creating and distributing a newsletter
  • Aweber: Users rave about this paid service, which comes with many options for building out your newsletter

As an example, Kevin Rose, co-founder of Digg, shares interviews, products and knowledge through his Tiny Letter newsletter, Foundation. At $3.99 per month, it’s a bargain for readers who value his content.

10. Eat with Influencers

The opportunity to grab a meal with other potentially influential people is within your grasp. These days, it's easy to set up networking meals through online tools like Let's Lunch or GrubWithUs.

Let's Lunch is a one-on-one lunch meeting generator that matches people based on reputation, influence, requests and practicality. Right now, it's only available to people in NYC, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. GrubWithUs allows you to connect with others at group meals that you either find or set up yourself.

What tools have you used to build your online brand? Let us know in the comments below.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr, loop_oh

More About: brand, branding, busines, entrepreneurs, List, Lists, MARKETING, social media, social networking, startups, trending

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Morgan Stanley Brokers Will Use Twitter & LinkedIn To Market Themselves

Posted: 25 May 2011 02:00 PM PDT

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's financial advisers have gotten the go ahead to market themselves on Twitter and LinkedIn, marking the first time a major wealth manager was able to employ social media for that use.

Sometime before late June, 600 advisers from the firm will start using the social media channels. And within six months, the rest of Morgan Stanley's 17,800 brokers will join them. The advisers will use the social channels to communicate with existing clients and look for sales leads.

Until now, such professionals hadn't used either platform because of stringent SEC and FINRA regulations. Among those rules: Such advisers have to archive all their electronic interactions and they can't use LinkedIn's "recommend" feature because of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

To make sure it complies with these rules, the firm is using software provided by Socialware. Chad Bockius, CEO of Socialware, says he has more than 100 financial services clients who are looking to market themselves via Twitter and LinkedIn as well.

Up until now such marketing had been done via email, but Bockius says the firms are meeting their clients' changing needs: "As consumers evolve, there are multiple ways that people want to communicate."

Image courtesy of Flickr, j1myi

More About: linkedin, MorganStanley, twitter

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Geico Wants You to Get Your BroStache On [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2011 01:32 PM PDT

Geico has approached social media cautiously but is now fully embracing it with a campaign that includes a commercial promoting a silly iPhone and Facebook app.

Geico plans to roll out a new TV spot this weekend as part of its "Rhetorical Questions" campaign that will promote the app. In the ad, "Question Guy" Michael McGlone asks, "Do people use smartphones to do dumb things?" which segues into a scene of three office nerds breaking out their iPhone apps. One of the apps, the BroStache [iTunes link], is a real one that Geico is offering on iPhone and Facebook.

As the name suggests, BroStache lets you see what you'd look like with a mustache either by holding a phone in front of your face or defacing your picture on Facebook. A free iPhone app is currently available, with a Facebook version on the way. The Martin Agency handled the effort.

Though this is the first time Geico has released an app of this type, the company tried its hand at social media marketing earlier this year. Inspired by the Old Spice campaign, McGlone answered fans' questions with short YouTube videos in March.

More About: apps, facebook, Geico, iphone, old spice, youtube

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iRig Mic Brings Big Sound to iPhone and iPad

Posted: 25 May 2011 12:54 PM 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: iRig Mic

Price: $59.99 MSRP

What It’s Good For: Recording interviews, musical performances and vocal recordings on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Who It’s Good For: Professional or semi-professional musicians or vocalists. It’s also good for reporters, students and anyone else who needs a way to capture interviews, lectures or other live events.

Limitations: The microphone itself is fairly large and even with its included carrying pouch, isn’t as portable as it could be — this makes it less than ideal for students or reporters who want to record interviews for transcription. Although users can download free versions of recording apps from IK Multimedia, these apps offer limited functionality and the paid versions can be expensive.

Bottom Line: The recording quality of the microphone is quite good and the sensitivity settings work as promised. For the musician or reporter on the go, this is a great add-on to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

A Look at the iRig Mic

IK Multimedia bills its iRig Mic as “the first handheld, quality condenser microphone for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.” We’re not sure if it’s the first — we’ve seen other microphones for the iPhone in the past, but it is certainly one of the better units available.

The iRig Mic plugs into an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using the headphone jack. The connector includes a headphone pass-through plug, which is essential so that users can monitor the recording input from the device.

The microphone will work with virtually any third-party recording program for iOS as well as Apple’s Voice Memos application. IK Multimedia has its own collection of recording apps, including iRig Recorder [iTunes link], VocaLive [iTunes link] and the AmpliTube series [iTunes link]. These are solid applications in their own right and are designed to work well with the iRig Mic.

Our only real complaint is that users must buy these applications in addition to the iRig Mic itself. Free versions do exist, but are feature-limited. iRig Recorder, a basic, but robust, recording app that includes the ability to apply audio effects, upload directly to various file servers, social networks and SoundCloud, is $4.99. VocaLive and Amplitube are $19.99 each. We understand that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for IK Multimedia to bundle full versions of apps with its microphone, but the cost of these apps needs to be taken into consideration of the total package.

As for the microphone itself, it’s not small. It’s a full-size condenser microphone, which is good or bad, depending on your purpose. For a student who just wants to record a lecture or for a reporter who wants to do interviews for transcription purposes, something like Blue’s Mikey might be a better choice.

What we do like about the iRig Mic — and what makes it worth its size and additional application cost — is that the sensitivity settings are surprisingly robust. We’ve included three sound samples (uploaded directly from the iRig Recorder application to SoundCloud uncompressed) recorded at the Mashable HQ in New York City.

The low intensity setting captures everything in our office — perfect for a lecture or speech. The medium intensity setting is ideal for podcasting, interviews and other vocal work and is probably most ideal for most circumstances. When selecting the high intensity sound source, the background noise is almost nil and the microphone picks up loud and exceptionally close instruments quite well.

At the end of the day, this is still a lower-end condenser microphone, so users expecting the performance from a dynamic or more professional condenser setup are going to be disappointed. However, for those who want a way to record interviews, lectures or vocal tracks on an iOS device for instant mixing, editing and uploading, the iRig Mic is a great choice.

iRig Microphone Tests by Christina Warren

iRig Mic in Use

The iRig Mic with a recording in process.

iRic and iRig Recorder

The iRig Mic and iRig Recorder software.

iRig Profile

The iRig Mic resembles a standard karaoke microphone. It comes with its own carrying pouch, a microphone clamp for attachment to a stand and has a headphone passthrough port, perfect for users who want to monitor what they are recording.

iRig Recorder and VocaLive

Users can download free versions of recording apps from IK Multimedia, including iRig Recorder and VocaLive.

The paid versions of these apps provide enhanced functionality, but come at a price. iRig Recorder is $4.99 and VocaLive is $19.99.

Both apps are solid workhorse applications and allow users to export audio directly from the app to other sources, including hosting services like SoundCloud.

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 Gadget Reviews from Mashable:

- GoFlex Satellite, the Wi-Fi Hard Drive for iPad Movies and More
- Will the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Click With New Users?
- With Latest Firmware, Boxee Box Is Finally Ready for Prime Time
- WiebeTech RTX220-QR: A Hard Drive Enclosure for Video & Photo Pros
- Polaroid 300 Brings Back the Fun of Instant Film

More About: Gadget of the Day Series, gadgets, ipad, iphone, iRig Mic, iRig Recorder, microphone, reviews

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How Amazon Helped Adam Carolla Stay in Podcasting

Posted: 25 May 2011 12:19 PM PDT

In 2009, when KLSX in Los Angeles canceled his morning radio show, Adam Carolla walked away from traditional media and became an unlikely Internet pioneer.

Though many people associate Carolla with The Man Show or Loveline, these days he is a giant in the world of podcasting. His show has been downloaded more than 60 million times, easily beating the previous record of 4.5 million by Ricky Gervais in 2006. What’s more, he’s making money — at least enough to turn down a deal to go back to terrestrial radio.

One particularly lucrative arrangement is a revenue-sharing deal with Amazon. Fans who click through Carolla’s site to Amazon know that he gets a cut of the transaction.

Carolla's podcast zoomed to number one on iTunes because of name recognition, but it stayed there for several reasons. One is that, unlike many other podcasters, Carolla's show is daily rather than weekly. A second reason: He gets big-name guests like Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks and Seth MacFarlane. But a lot of credit has to go to Carolla himself, who has the unique ability to riff humorously on any topic.

Mashable recently spoke to Carolla about his podcasting success. Here are some excerpts of the conversation.

On your show, you recently talked about turning down a lucrative deal on terrestrial radio to stay with the podcast. Do you ever regret that decision? And what was your thinking?

No. And my thinking was I had a whole bunch of other irons in the fire so to speak and stuff cooking, and this podcast thing was just starting to really take off. And I just realized it's a business and I need to immerse myself in it and just go at it instead of treating it like a hobby, treat it like a job and I just dug in.

And it's been paying off ever since. I mean, I didn't do it because I had a ton of blind faith. I did it because it was starting to throw off money.

You mentioned the Amazon relationship. How did that come about? Did they approach you?

I wish I knew. I think we approached them. I think our sales people approached them. I mean, we're not inventing much here. Every idea I've had in this endeavor somebody who knows something about it says, "Oh, you're talking about a rev share," or something like that. It would be like you going, "I have this vision of a stick with cotton on the end of it that people can use to clean their ears," and then someone would go "Oh, you mean a Q-tip." This all exists, it's just we're having to actually make it work.

What's your schedule for recording? Do you meet every day at the same time or is it more fluid than that?

We meet at the same time every day, and that's the way we do it, though we have flexibility, which is really nice — which is to say that if Jesse Ventura is around and he can only do it at 11 o'clock on a Thursday, then we come in to the studio warehouse and do it then.

And we'll do my weekend Ace on the House home improvement show for the weekends when my schedule opens up, like noon on a Wednesday or 4 o'clock on a Friday. It will have to be ready for a Saturday, in other words.

So you have that flexibility, which is nice. And we have the ultimate flexibility, which is we don't record on a Friday usually, but Albert Brooks says we can come to his office on a Friday in Beverly Hills and sit down with him, so we packed up our stuff, which fits into a backpack pretty much, and went into his office on a Friday and got an hour-and-a-half in with him.

You kind of pioneered a new way of doing audiobooks, which was to diverge from the text and you had an idea for a second, stand-alone audiobook that your publisher wasn't as interested in. Can you talk about that?

I'm just starting to see the potential of this stuff. We sold so many of the last audiobook and it was so different from what was on the page in my actual book-book. I thought there was so much material left over from the first book that I thought: “Let's do a second audiobook.” It seemed like a natural since everyone enjoyed the first audiobook so much and it was number one on iTunes for so long and up on the top 20 on iTunes for months and months.

So I thought let's do a second one with all the missing chapters and the bonus chapters in the paperback, and I'll record it and engineer it at my facility. And as far as my publisher, Random House, we'll just split the proceeds and make it a pure electronic download. It was one of these things where they said, "We don't want to set a precedent." And I was like, "You don't want to set a precedent of doing nothing and getting money? I'd like to set a precedent of doing nothing and getting money, but alright."

Do you think podcasts will supplant terrestrial radio?

It depends on who on terrestrial radio is going to be doing podcasts. Eventually, everyone is going to go to their computer for everything. The question is: Are they going to go to their computer to download terrestrial shows or are they going to go there and download podcasts? The notion of "I'm going to sit in my car and wait for a commercial to end" will be right up there with television. The days of us running to the TV set because I Love Lucy started after a commercial break are gone.

I don't know that podcasting is going to supplant terrestrial radio. I do know that the days of sitting by a radio and waiting for your favorite song to come on, or sitting by the TV and waiting for your show to start, those days are gone. It's gonna be: "Here's what I want and here's when I want it on my terms." And maybe terrestrial radio will figure out a way to do that. But that much I know. And we will not tolerate that for talk any more than we do for music.

More About: Adam Carolla, amazon, media, podcasting, random house, trending

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Windows App for DIYers Helps You Design & Build Cool Stuff

Posted: 25 May 2011 11:52 AM PDT

123D is a free Windows app from Autodesk that helps do-it-yourselfers design and make their own custom goods, including electronics, lighting, car parts, furniture and much more.

Although the app (which is on the Ponoko Personal Factory platform) is based on the same Autodesk technology used by engineers around the world, 123D lets you start with simple shapes and then edit them into more complex 3D forms.

The apps also gives users access to free 3D models, supporting parts, props, backgrounds and photos, which are helpful for quickly and easily getting projects started and putting on the finishing touches.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the app, however, is that it also provides fabrication options for makers. Autodesk partners can help users find tools to make projects at home, or fabrication can be done by the partners themselves.

123D is the first app created for Ponoko’s App Gateway. The company is trying to get more devs to create what it calls “making apps” — apps that will help crafters, hackers, tinkerers and other DIYers create cool stuff of their own design.

Top image courtesy of iStockphoto, izusek

More About: 123d, Autodesk, diy, personal factory, Ponoko

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What Happened at the eG8? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 25 May 2011 11:30 AM PDT

The eG8 brought together some of the world’s most influential technology leaders this week for an open discussion about the future of technology.

Hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the eG8 attempted to establish a dialogue between the government and technology luminaries. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, HTC’s Peter Chou, DST’s Yuri Milner and Google’s Eric Schmidt were just some of the high-powered speakers that graced the stage at the event.

What was the big buzz from the summit?

Social media monitoring firm Synthesio analyzed the Twitter buzz behind the event to find out who was talking about the eG8 and what quotes captured the most attention.

Many of the 25,000 tweets about the forum focused on comments from Sarkozy, who called for tighter regulation of the Internet. The web’s response was critical of his comments, and Schmidt warned that governments should “stay away from regulating brand new industries.”

Here’s a summary of what made headlines at the eG8:

eG8 Infographic

Click on the infographic for a full-sized version of the image.

eG8, Day One

More About: e-g8, facebook, infographic, mark zuckerberg, nicolas sarkozy, sarkozy

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Facebook & Spotify To Launch Streaming Music Service [REPORT]

Posted: 25 May 2011 11:10 AM PDT

We could soon be listening to Spotify within Facebook, according to reports from sources close to the deal.

Forbes is reporting that the integrated service is going through testing, but when it drops (in as little as two weeks), Facebook users will see Spotify’s icon appear on the left-hand side of their newsfeed. Once you click on the image, the service will be installed on your desktop, allowing you to listen to Spotify’s catalog via Facebook. Users will also be able to listen to music with friends via Facebook.

One downside, though, should this service come to pass: It will only be available in countries with access to Spotify — tough luck, U.S.

Forbes also reports that a Spotify spokesperson claimed not to know about the new music deal with Facebook. “We have a Facebook integration. We're continuously working with them to make that as good as it can be. But that's the extent of our relationship,” the spokesperson said.

Spotify tells us that it continues to work with Facebook on its integration, but didn’t confirm the rumor of a partnership.

“We have a good relationship with Facebook in that we have done an integration on Facebook Platform that has been valuable in terms of driving engagement with the Spotify service,” a Spotify spokesperson tells Mashable, referring to the music streaming service’s use of Facebook Connect. “We’re continuously working together to make the social experience on Spotify the best it can be and welcome relationships with any company looking to innovate by building more social value into the user experience.”

Facebook also tells Mashable there’s nothing new to announce.

“Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations. Specific to Spotify, we consistently point to their product as one of the best examples of using Facebook to provide people with a rich social experience,” a spokesperson tells us.

At the eG8 forum in Paris on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also implied that there’s no such deal.

So we have to take this news with a grain of salt. Remember that rumor that Google was partnering with Spotify? That ended up being false.

What do you think is in store for Spotify? Weigh in in the comment below.

More About: facebook, spotify

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Valedictorian Trades Stale Speech for Song [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2011 10:51 AM PDT

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

As schools around the land draw to a close for summer, videos of commencement ceremonies are starting to hit the web. The above video features Alaine Caudle, the valedictorian of Doniphan West High School in Highland, Kansas, rapping with classmates.

This valedictorian is graduating from the viral class with honors.

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

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What’s Next for Oprah Winfrey

Posted: 25 May 2011 10:14 AM PDT

The final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show airs across the U.S. on Wednesday after a 25-year run.

Departing from the star-studded lineup that marked the last week of shows, the finale, which will air between 4 and 5 p.m. in most markets, features only Oprah.

According to audience members who attended the taping, Winfrey used her final hour to stage a quiet, teary goodbye and thank you to her fans, sans giveaways.

She closed the episode by kissing and hugging her partner of 25 years, Stedman Graham, and saying goodbye to her staff as she walked the halls of Harpo Studios cheering, “We did it! We did it!” reports Amy Korin, an audience member from Chicago.

“It was just her the whole time, a recap of what she believed in, what we’ve given her as viewers and what she hopes she has given us,” says Nancy Evankoe of Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

And although this is the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show, it is not the end of Oprah, she was quick to remind the audience. “She said, ‘This isn’t goodbye. This is until we meet again,’ ” says Korin.

OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network

Now that the show has come to a close, Winfrey will turn her focus full-time to her other major media properties, namely the network — OWN — she launched earlier this year.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly earlier this month, Winfrey admitted that the network is “not where I want it to be.”

After disappointing ratings following its launch, the network overhauled its schedule and fired chief executive Christina Norman four months in.

“I wouldn’t even say 10 percent of my time is on OWN right now,” she said at the time, admitting that launching the network before her show finished was possibly a mistake. “But it will be. [After the show ends] I can start to give my attention to OWN that it deserves. It’s going to improve exponentially with the amount of time and service I can give to it.”

The pressure is certainly on, especially after Brad Singer, the chief financial officer for partner network Discovery, assured investors that the network would be profitable in its first year "because of ad acceptance and good performance."

Meanwhile, Winfrey will continue to publish her magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, with Hearst, the iPad version of which is one of our favorites for the device to date.

Image courtesy of Flickr, greginhollywood

More About: media, oprah, own

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5 Ambitious Social Good Startups Created In a Single Weekend

Posted: 25 May 2011 09:53 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 or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Can a startup go from concept to launch in 54 hours?

Startup Weekend is an organization that answers this question with a resounding affirmative, and it does so many times each year in cities around the world.

At a typical Startup Weekend, ambitious entrepreneurs, developers, designers and marketers meet up for around-the-clock hacking, beginning on Friday afternoon and ending on Sunday.

As the hacking draws to a close, each nascent startup prepares a presentation and pitches their idea and product to an audience of press and investors.

Not only does this organization foster radical creativity and lightning-speed entrepreneurship and team-building; it is also responsible for getting some very interesting, community-focused ideas off the ground in just 54 hours.

And Startup Weekend is a truly global initiative, with upcoming events in Mongolia, Hamburg, Toronto, San Francisco, Madrid, Boston, Denver and more.

Some big-name, successful apps, such as Foodspotting, have come from Startup Weekend events in the past. But some of the more under-the-radar apps and teams are working on solutions to real problems in their communities. Here’s a quick look at a few change-minded companies or products that have come from Startup Weekend so far.

1. ThinkSmartGrid

Founded: Chicago, 2010

The Idea: Billions of investment dollars have found their way to the smart grid, yet its promise is still unfulfilled, even after 20 years of vendor demand and consumer education. ThinkSmartGrid was founded to work with stakeholders in the green tech and clean tech industries to identify, qualify and deliver messages about an intelligent electricity network.

This startup provides strategic consulting regulatory representation for alliances and suppliers looking to succeed in smart grid initiatives. It works with technology suppliers and utilities to develop and influence Smart Grid standards.

The startup has already closed a six-figure funding deal and expects to close at least two more this year.

2. Sparkrelief

Founded: Denver, 2010

The Idea: Sparkrelief builds web apps that crowdsource disaster relief.

These apps draw upon a collection of real-time data sources to present timely and important information. Sparkrelief also centralizes and organizes relief information on housing and other resources for disaster victims to quickly find help.

Finally, the startup allows the more fortunate among us to help those in need through donations of money, shelter, food, clothing and other resources.

3. Pocket Tales

Founded: Indianapolis, 2008

The Idea: Pocket Tales is an educational gaming platform that combines highly engaging content with interactive gameplay to create immersive learning experiences for kids.

Motivating kids to read is a huge tenet of early education. The founder of this startup writes on the company’s website, “We’ve always liked books, but reading them just wasn’t enough. We wanted there to be more things happening. We wanted to discuss books, share them and get at the ideas they contained — so we created Pocket Tales.”

This startup’s product turns book reading into a game for children and their friends. It’s a unique way for kids to engage with the books they read in a deeper way, to discover their next favorite book, and to make and get recommendations for new books.

4. Sit For Something

Founded: Minneapolis, 2010

The Idea: This startup takes a unique and palatable approach to fundraising. Sit for Something uses movie theaters to raise money for good causes. The company’s current focus is education.

Sit For Something’s founders say their idea reduces the effort and initial funding it takes to pull off a fundraiser. Event organizers don’t have to contact theaters or wrangle for movie licenses. The idea also enables the fundraiser to target just about any demographic.

5. Hand Things Down

Founded: Seattle, 2010

The Idea: Hand Things Down is a social application that enables busy parents to post, trade and give away their kids’ old and outgrown clothing, furniture, toys and more. The concept is as green as it is community-focused. It’s also a great money saver.

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 or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

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

Top image courtesy of iStockphoto, sodafish

More About: Global Innovation Series, Hand Things Down, Sit For Something, social good, Sparkrelief, startup weekend, startups, Think Smart Grid

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Tumblr Launches New “Spotlight” Directory

Posted: 25 May 2011 09:29 AM PDT

Tumblr is out with a new way to curate its burgeoning content: a directory featuring highlighted blogs that it’s calling “Spotlight.”

The Spotlight directory comes just a few months after the introduction of Tumblr’s new “Explore” page, which replaced the old Directory with a page that organizes content by tags (you can still reach the old-school Directory at

Tumblr has been reaching out to blogs for inclusion in Spotlight over the last few weeks, and plans to add more — as well as new categories and languages — in the coming months. The site also made it easier to find the “People You Know” tool by placing it right up there next to the Spotlight tab.

More About: blogging, directory, spotlight, tumblr

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Get a Job in Social Media, Web Development or Design

Posted: 25 May 2011 09:01 AM PDT

If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Postings

Business Development Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.

Executive Assistant at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Assistant at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Director at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Regional Sales Director at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Campaign Specialist at Mashable in New York, NY.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Operations Coordinator at Odopod in San Francisco, CA.

Technical Product Manager at Dailymotion in New York, NY.

Online Engagement Manager at Friends of Quinn in Washington, D.C.

Web Editor at Teach For America in New York, NY.

Senior Digital Strategist at J.P. Morgan Investment Management Americas in New York, NY.

Interactive Producer at Gotham Inc. in New York, NY.

Web Developer at Time Inc. in New York, NY.

Lead UI/Interaction Designer at Solvate in New York, NY.

Manager, Social Media Marketing at Mead Johnson Nutrition in Glenview, IL.

Lead Digital Designer at McNett Corporation in Bellingham, Washington.

Talent Coordination Associate at Howcast in New York, NY.

Social Media Account Manager at Razorfish in Seattle, WA.

Staff Writer at Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Social Media Senior Program Leader at Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX.

Digital Marketing Analyst at Whole Foods Market in Austin, TX.

Editor, PRI Web Properties at Public Radio International in Minneapolis, MN.

Graphic and Interactive Designer at Famous Dave’s of America in Hopkins, MN.

Project Manager at Everyday Health in New York, NY.

Community Creator/Manager at AFS Intercultural Programs in New York, NY.

Director of Marketing and Online Promotion at Shindig in New York, NY.

Sr PHP Developer – at Demand Media in Santa Monica, CA.

Online Marketing Coordinator at Offline, Inc in Los Angeles, CA.

Product Manager, Strategy and Analytics (YouTube) at Google, Inc. in San Bruno, CA.

Social Media and Community at The Institutes in Malvern, PA.

Vice President of Product Manager at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Web Development Intern at New Possibilities Group, LLC in Rutherford, NJ.

Digital Account Supervisor – Adobe at Edelman PR in San Mateo, CA.

Digital Account Supervisor at Edelman PR in San Mateo, CA.

Web Designer/Developer at Iconify Creative in Somerset, NJ.

Director of Technology: Build Manager + Network Admin at More Cabbage in Cedar Hill, TX.

Junior Media Planner/Buyer at Porter Novelli in Washington, D.C.

Ad Copywriter at Vertical Search Works in New York, NY.

Account Manager, Display Advertising at Adknowledge in Fort Myers, FL.

Social Media Manager at Radware in Mahwah, NJ.

PPC Marketing Strategist at Blast Advanced Media in Roseville, CA.

Beta Researcher at Big Fish Games in Seattle, WA.

Mobile QA Manager at Big Fish Games in Seattle, WA.

Head of CRM at Playfish/Electronic Arts in Redwood City, CA.

Manager, Digital Strategy at BBDO in New York, NY.

SEO Manager at Become Inc. in Sunnyvale, CA.

Web Developer at KaTom Restaurant Supply, Inc. in Morristown, TN.

Director, Digital Strategy at Pozen, Inc. in Chapel Hill, NC.

Producer at Logo/MTV Networks in New York, NY.

Marketing & Communications Senior Research Analyst at StrategyOne in Atlanta, GA.

Social Media Strategist at William J. Clinton Foundation in New York, NY.

PR Associate at The Barbarian Group in San Francisco, CA.

Online Communications Associate at John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, FL.

Manager, Blog Relations at Rue La La in Boston, MA.

Director, Digital Public Relations at in Carpinteria, CA.

Manager, Web Marketing and CRM at in Carpinteria, CA.

Manager, Search & Affiliate Marketing at in Carpinteria, CA.

Manager, Email Marketing at in Carpinteria, CA.

Senior Director, Community and Social Content at in Carpinteria, CA.

Designer, Mobile & Web at in Dallas, TX.

West Coast Sales Director at LiveWorld in San Jose, CA.

Manager, Analytics and Search at CFO Publishing in New York, NY.

Experienced Copywriter at Infuse Creative in Santa Monica, CA.

Lead Software Engineer at Fry, Inc. in New York, NY.

Freelancers and Independent Consultants at Solvate in Austin, TX.

Web Developer/Senior Programmer at AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.

Community/Social Media Manager at Momentum Worldwide in New York, NY.

PHP Developer at Woofound in Middle River, MD.

Director of Online Technology at Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C.

Senior Database Administrator at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

PHP Developer at YouCast Corporation in New York, NY.

Web Marketing Manager at South Carolina Federal Credit Union in North Charleston, SC.

Web Developer, Display Advertising at Adknowledge in Kansas City, MO.

Jr. Graphic Artist at Motivators, Inc. in Westbury, NY.

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Twitter Acquires TweetDeck

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:39 AM PDT

After months of rumors, Twitter has finally announced that it has acquired TweetDeck, one of the most widely used third-party Twitter applications.

“This acquisition is an important step forward for us,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a blog post. “TweetDeck provides brands, publishers, marketers and others with a powerful platform to track all the real-time conversations they care about.”

Costolo and TweetDeck CEO Iain Dodsworth made it clear that TweetDeck development will continue and that it will remain largely independent. “Change may well be inevitable, but we remain the same team, staying in London, with the same focus and products, and now with the support and resources to allow us to grow and take on even bigger challenges,” Dodsworth said in a blog post.

Twitter did not disclose the price of the acquisition, but several reports peg the price to be around $40 million.

The social media company has been in a bidding war for TweetDeck for the past few months. Its main competition for TweetDeck was UberMedia, the company that owns Twidroyd, Echofon and UberSocial. Sources close to the talks told Mashable last month that one of Twitter’s goals was to make sure that UberMedia (or any other company) didn’t control too much of the Twitter ecosystem.

Twitter also tried to reassure third-party developers that there is still a lot of opportunity for growth within its ecosystem. “TweetDeck is a great example of a third-party developer that designed tools for the incredibly important audience of Twitter power-users and, in turn, created value for the network as a whole,” Costolo noted in the company’s announcement.

More About: tweetdeck, twitter

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AT&T To Bring LTE to 5 Cities

Posted: 25 May 2011 08:04 AM PDT

AT&T has promised to bring LTE connectivity to five U.S. cities this summer: Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Antonio.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a mobile network technology standard that enables very fast data transfer, which should reach the requirements to be called a 4th generation mobile networking standard (4G) in later stages of development.

AT&T also announced it plans to launch 20 4G devices (AT&T counts both HSPA+ devices, such as the HTC Inspire, and LTE devices as 4G devices), some of which will be LTE-capable, by the end of 2011.

Furthermore, AT&T said it plans to add another 10 or more markets in the second half of 2011, and cover 70 million Americans with LTE by the end of the year.

More About: 4G, att, data transfer, HSPA+, htc, HTC Inspire, LTE, Mobile 2.0, smartphone

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YouTube: Two Days’ Worth of Video Uploaded Every Minute

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:59 AM PDT

More than 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

The video-sharing site reports a 37% increase in video uploaded per minute in the past six months and a 100% increase from last year. This is likely due in no small part to increased upload times and the recent expansion of YouTube’s live streaming platform.

YouTube also passed 3 billion views in one day — a 50% increase compared to last year — over this past weekend.

YouTube announced these stats in a blog post Wednesday celebrating its sixth birthday (apparently a belated birthday, as most people consider it to have been born in February). We’re interested to see what these stats look like on YouTube’s seventh birthday, with the addition of the site’s expanded movie rental service and more sophisticated partner programs.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Photographer1773

More About: video, youtube

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Where Were You One Year Ago Today — On Facebook?

Posted: 25 May 2011 07:33 AM PDT

If you’re one to page through scrapbooks, taking in candy-colored memories of yore, we’ve got an app for you. This one will tell you what exactly you did one year ago today on Facebook.

Past Posts is a new app from Jonathan Wegener, Matt Raoul and Benny Wong (of FlickSquare fame) that allows users to get an email every morning telling them what happened one year ago on Facebook. This includes information about wall posts, photos, and soon, checkins. The guys also previously created a similar app for Foursquare checkins, 4 Square and 7 Years Ago.

“As we use modern web services, we’re constantly producing personal content,” Wegener says. “4squareAnd7Yearsago and PastPosts both help resurface that content in the form of an email each morning. This email is like a yardstick — and you can see how your day last year was before you live this year’s day.”

I just signed up for the service, so I have yet to see what pearls I dropped on the social network last year. However, check out what an email would look like below.

More About: facebook, foursquare, pastposts, social media

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