Mashable: Latest 27 News Updates - including “How Top Redditors Compete for Karma [INFOGRAPHIC]”

Mashable: Latest 27 News Updates - including “How Top Redditors Compete for Karma [INFOGRAPHIC]”

How Top Redditors Compete for Karma [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 11:35 PM PDT

Reddit has long been on our radar as one of the more interesting and engaging content bookmarking and aggregating services on the web.

In this chart, we take a look at how the top Redditors — that is, Reddit users who submit content to the site and comment on content and threads — stack up.

In case you haven’t used the site, on Reddit, users have upvotes and downvotes to express their approval or disapproval of content and comments. When a user’s content and comments accrue upvotes, his or her profile accrues karma.

Here are the top 20 Redditors as ranked by karma, including those whose karma comes primarily from submitting new links and those whose karma comes from making interesting or insightful comments on the site. They, like their power-Digging predecessors, far outrank the average user in terms of karma and, in all likelihood, their power to direct a certain amount of traffic around the Internet.

And for Reddit users, here’s the existing Reddit thread for your upvoting and commenting pleasure.

This infographic comes to us via The Daily Dot and Public School.

Click image to see full-size version.

[sources: The Daily Dot and]

More About: infographic, reddit, redditors

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NASA Photos + Nine Inch Nails = Spacey Mashup Music Video

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 10:27 PM PDT

From Digital Kitchen Seattle creative Chris Abbas comes this sweet mashup video featuring music from Nine Inch Nails and pictures from NASA’s Cassini mission.

The Cassini Solstice/Equinox Mission is a joint NASA/ESA/ASI robotic spacecraft mission studying Saturn and its natural satellites. The Cassini space probe was launched in the fall of 1997 and will continue to explore Saturn and its environs until 2017.

The stills and footage used in this video were gathered by the Cassini Imaging Science System. The music track is 2 Ghosts I from the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I – IV.

More About: Cassini, music, NASA, NIN, Nine Inch Nails, space

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New Batman Clips Tease ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 09:27 PM PDT

Once again taking to viral social media marketing, the minds behind the Batman film franchise have released a string of clips to promote the upcoming flick, The Dark Knight Rises.

Previously, fans were asked to crack a Twitter code to get a sneak peak at the film.

Now, the new YouTube videos show a Gotham descended into chaos while pointing fans toward a new Facebook page for the movie.

On YouTube, the four clips have seen between 18,000 and 179,000 views each as of this writing.

The Dark Knight Rises is scheduled to hit theaters in the U.S. and Canada on July 20, 2012. While it’s surprising to see such a tightly grouped volley of marketing almost a year ahead of the release, we applaud the marketers in question for their creative use of available web tools.

Are these teaser clips getting you excited for the new Batman movie?





More About: batman, comics, dark knight rises, MARKETING

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Extreme Networking: App Tells You Who’s In the Room, How You’re Connected

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 08:00 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: Sonar

Quick Pitch: Sonar tells you who is in the room and how you’re connected.

Genius Idea: Leveraging social networks for real-world connections.

Some of us are naturally gifted networkers. We walk into a room of 50 strangers and giddily begin introducing ourselves to 50 new friends.

For those of us who are less outgoing, however, it helps to start with some sort of connection. However many degrees we are separated by, Sonar wants to map them out.

The iPhone app [iTunes link], which launched in May, shows you who is in the room by using data from social networks. After connecting accounts, you can see who else is checked in on Foursquare or Facebook Places, as well as which one of them shares your Twitter or Facebook friends. You can send a message to any of them with a click in order to make a connection in real life.

“Talking to someone on the street is harder than talking to someone in a bar,” says founder and CEO Brett Martin. “Talking to someone in a bar is harder than talking to someone at a house party. What we’re trying to do with Sonar is show people when the person on the street is the same person at the house party.”

Sonar works because “people have spent the last 25 years uploading their identities to the internet,” Martin says. It uses the profiles people have created elsewhere instead of being dependent on a critical mass of users. The app works whether or not other people in the room are using it. However, those people do need to check in with either Foursquare or Facebook Places. And that limits Sonar’s scope. One recent study found that only up to 17% of the mobile population uses checkin services.

Martin hopes to reduce this problem by adding implicit checkins — such as when people respond to an Eventbrite invite. He also hopes to broaden the checkin pool to include geotagged tweets, Instagram photos and foodspotting images.

As for monetization, Martin says that the startup’s current plan is to borrow a model often used on dating sites: promoted visibility. If a company is hosting a conference and wants its executives to be on the top of everyone’s “most relevant” lists, they could pay Sonar to make it happen. It’s a similar concept to Twitter’s promoted tweets, but Martin says that a sponsor would only be able to promote people — never its brand itself.

Personally, I’ve always wanted a Shazam for people, and this is the closest thing I’ve found. While the app doesn’t work that well in checkin-shunning crowds, at the right conference or even the right party, it’s like waterwings for networking.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, gehringj

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, mobile app, networking, Sonar, startup

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Syria Shuts Down the Internet As Revolt Gains Steam

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 05:53 PM PDT

Internet traffic has come to a halt in Syria after the government blocked Internet services in an attempt to quell a growing revolt in the Middle Eastern nation.

“Starting at 3:35 UTC today, approximately two thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet,” Internet intelligence firm Renesys reported on its blog today.

“Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table.”

Most mobile phone and Internet networks are affected by the blackout. According to The Wall Street Journal, government-run websites such as the Oil Ministry’s website are still operational.

Syria has been banning social media services in the last few months, but this is the full time there has been a widespread Internet outage.

The move comes as protests have intensified in the troubled nation. 34 people were killed Friday after security forces opened fire. The uprising, which began in late January, has been focused on ousting Bashar Al-Assad from his role as President of Syria. Al-Assad ascended to the presidency in 2000 after his father’s 29-year rule.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shut down Internet services during the Egyptian revolution so protesters couldn’t easily organize. It didn’t quell the revolt though, and on February 11, Mubarak resigned.

More About: Bashar Al-Assad, Egypt, internet, Internet outage, Syria, Uprising

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Google Acquires Social Data Startup PostRank

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 04:26 PM PDT

Friday, social engagement data startup PostRank announced it had been acquired by Google.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PostRank launched in 2007 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The PostRank staff will be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the other Googlers at Google’s main Mountain View campus.

Last year, PostRank Analytics added Activity Streams, which the company called “a FriendFeed for content.”

The analytics service itself launched the year before as a way to track data on a large number of social media platforms, including Twitter, Digg, Delicious and more.

PostRank CTO and founder Ilya Grigorik wrote today on the startup’s blog, “We are extremely excited to join Google. We believe there is simply no better company on the web today that both understands the value of the engagement data we have been focusing on, and has the platform and reach to bring its benefits to the untold millions of daily, active Internet users.”

Grigorik said more details on PostRank’s progress within Google will be coming up in a few months.

More About: acquisition, Google, postrank

For more Business & Marketing coverage: Adds Content From Amazon, Foursquare, Meetup & More

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:24 PM PDT

Amazon, AOL Video, Gowalla, Foursquare, Meetup and Plancast are the newest social tools to be integrated with, allowing users to access more multimedia content without leaving the site.

When Twitter unveiled #NewTwitter last year, one of its big selling points was its direct integration with third-party tools such as DailyBooth, iTunes, Ustream, YouTube and TwitPic. It gave users the ability to see images or watch videos directly in their Twitter stream as long as a link from a supported service appeared in the tweet.

In December, Twitter added five more services to the roster of supported platforms:, Instagram, Slideshare, Rdio and Dipdive.

Now supports six more third-party services within the stream. Whenever your friends tweet out a link from Foursquare, Gowalla, Amazon, Meetup, Plancast or AOL Video, multimedia from that service will appear. Twitter seems to be in the process of rolling out the new integrations now. You can check out an example of it here.

Since the launch of #NewTwitter, several startups have created tools for embedding third-party content into the Twitter stream. Y Combinator-backed Embedly launched Parrotfish earlier this year, a browser plugin that pulls in Internet media and embeds it onto

What do you think of the new services Twitter has added to the stream? Does it make you more likely to use Let us know in the comments below.

More About: amazon, aol, foursquare, gowalla, meetup, plancast, twitter

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Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Unexpected Rapper Edition

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 03:11 PM PDT

This week, we asked YouTube NextUp participant Josh Sundquist to curate our YouTube Roundup, the theme of which is: Unexpected Rappers.

Sundquist is a 26-year-old motivational speaker. At age 9, he was diagnosed with cancer, and doctors told him that he had a 50% chance to live. He lost his leg, but beat the cancer and started ski racing. In March 2006, he joined the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team. In addition to being a YouTube celeb, he’s also the author of national bestseller Just Don’t Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain.

Check out our Q&A with Sundquist below, and then scroll on down to our rap-filled roundup.

How and why did you get started on YouTube?
About three years ago I started posting video samples of my motivational speeches on YouTube. Then last year I made a video called “The Amputee Rap” [see above] that went viral, and ever since then I’ve been pretty much addicted to creating video blogs and music videos.

What effect has YouTube had on your life?
I’ve always enjoyed being on camera and connecting with people through videos, and for a long time I had this dream of someday hosting a television show. But thanks to YouTube, I’ve realized that I don’t need television to live my dream of being a broadcaster. YouTube gives me total creative control and an instantly available worldwide audience to watch my videos. That’s pretty cool.

What does this theme mean, personally, to you?
I love YouTube videos that take the attitude and swagger of mainstream hip-hop videos and combine it with a topic that’s totally unexpected, like a disability or an illness. I think that juxtaposition is not only a comic gold mine, it’s also a way to make a fresh statement about your topic.

"Life in Quarantine," The Fully Sick Rapper

This is Josh's pick.

Rapping Flight Attendant

Amy-Mae Elliott: This video went viral -- what great PR for the airline.

"Arlington: The Rap"

Brian Dresher: Mashable DC Bureau representing! This local musician created "Arlington - The Rap" in the style of "Lazy Sunday" poking fun at the suburban lifestyle (yes, where I live!). If nothing else, I believe you'll greatly enjoy his Starbucks montage beginning at the 3:35 mark.

Jeff Goldblum, Jimmy Fallon, Biz Markie

Todd Wasserman: Jeff Goldlum & Biz Markie: Together again for the first time!

7 Year Old Raps Ke$ha

Brian Hernandez: It's 8-year-old Matty B, yo! The boy rapper, who has nearly 65,000 Twitter followers, was 7 when he remixed Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" (above). He has also covered or parodied songs from rap heavyweights Diddy and Eminem as well as pop divas Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

Vanilla Ice Ninja Rap

Radhika Marya: One word: Why?

"I Don't Wanna be a Crappy Housewife," Tonje Langeteig

Brenna Ehrlich: It's insane how much I relate to this song.

More About: favorite-youtube-videos, Josh Sundquist, video, viral video, youtube, YouTube NextUp

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9 Things Weinergate Tells Us About Twitter

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 02:36 PM PDT

By now, unless you live under a boulder large enough to block data signals, you know that New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is embroiled in a scandal involving an extremely personal picture sent from his Twitter account to a Seattle college student. Weiner says his account was hacked, but can’t say “with certitude” if the picture is a fake.

This much we know. But what else does the story that has Washington all a-twitter reveal about everyone’s favorite microblogging service?

1. Twitter is very effective at spreading the news, but it can’t control it.

For Twitter itself, the Weiner story couldn’t have broken at a less appropriate time. The company’s CEO, Dick Costolo, and a large portion of its PR team were hunkered down at the All Things Digital conference in beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes, California, preparing to launch — of all things — its new photo-sharing service. Costolo deftly batted away questions about Weiner with a “no comment.” But for a company that is anxious to prove its maturity, talking about ways to share pictures on Twitter at a time when the most famous example of that is a lewd underwear snap could only have been frustrating.

2. Maybe this is a good time to launch Twitter photo-sharing after all.

Reports emerged Thursday that the mysterious sender of that photo may well have exploited a security flaw in yFrog, a third-party photo-sharing service. The loophole would have allowed anyone to send a picture from Weiner’s account using tools no more advanced than e-mail. YFrog has since disabled the e-mail feature. Still, that’s a strong argument for sharing photos directly and securely from your Twitter account — which is exactly what Twitter is launching.

More About: Anthony Weiner, social media, social networking, twitter, weinergate

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Why Fashion Photographers Are Flocking to Instagram

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 02:07 PM PDT

UPDATE: The photos in this article were processed using a variety of apps, including Camera+, Hipstamatic and Filter Mania. All were shared to Instagram after processing.

It’s little wonder that Instagram, a leading iPhone application for stylizing and sharing photos on the web, is proving so popular among street style photographers, some of whom have amassed followings in the thousands.

What is unusual is that before Instagram, many of these well-followed photographers had done little to no street style photography in their portfolios.

“I started using Instagram about two weeks after it launched in the App Store and just fiddled around with pictures of my family and friends,” says Anthony Danielle, who publishes images (right) of stylish New Yorkers to some 18,000 followers under the pseudonym takinyerphoto. “I’d see other people doing street work and thought, ‘I could do that,’ and I just started taking pictures of people on the street.”

The app, coupled with the iPhone’s portability and capable camera, has encouraged Danielle to take up a hobby he had never before considered. Even the darkest and least remarkable photos are transformed into art with Instagram’s and Camera+’s filters, he says.

Similarly, Thomas Kakareko (thomas_k) of Berlin “had nothing to do with photography” before he downloaded the app earlier this year, he says. He began exchanging photos with friends before realizing that street photography was his calling. He now publishes a stream of high-contrast, black-and-white images (left) that could be mistaken for vintage film noir stills, which he posts exclusively to his 13,000+ followers on Instagram.

Although both Danielle and Kakareko are fans of Instagram’s filters, both cite Instagram’s community as the key to their success — and their addiction.

Instagram’s community is “unlike any other I’ve ever encountered … [because] mostly everyone is willing to help and share constructive opinions about your pictures,” says Danielle, who credits much of his development to the community, strangers he now calls friends.

Arianna Power of London, a.k.a streetstylish, is confident her brain gets a dopamine hit every time someone comments on one of her photos (right). “It’s completely addictive,” she says, admitting that her Instagram photography shifted its focus toward candid street photographs of stylish individuals because she received more positive reactions.

“Instagram is appealing because it’s fun to have a social network based around images,” she says, noting that other photographers on the service inspire her as much as comments from her followers.

(Although no one at Mashable self-identifies as a street style photographer, we can certainly sympathize with their addictions. We’re constantly browsing and commenting on others’ photos, and some of our snaps even sneak their way into posts on occasion.)

If you’re an Instagram user and want to add a little more street style to your newsfeed, check out a gallery of some of our favorite photographers below. And please, if we missed someone you admire, let us know in the comments section below.

Photo by Thomas Kakareko, Berlin

Photo by Thomas Kakareko, Berlin

Photo by Thomas Kakareko, Berlin

Photo by Thomas Kakareko, Berlin

Photo by Thomas Kakareko, Berlin

Photo by Mal Sherlock, New York City

Photo by Mal Sherlock, New York City

Photo by Mal Sherlock, New York City

Photo by Mal Sherlock, New York City

Photo by Mal Sherlock, New York City

Photo by Anthony Danielle, New York City

Photo by Anthony Danielle, New York City

Photo by Anthony Danielle, New York City

Photo by Anthony Danielle, New York City

Photo by Anthony Danielle, New York City

Photo by Arianna Power, London

Photo by Arianna Power, London

Photo by Arianna Power, London

Photo by Arianna Power, London

Photo by Arianna Power, London

Photo by Eros Sana, Paris

Photo by Eros Sana, Paris

Photo by Eros Sana, Paris

Photo by Eros Sana, Paris

Photo by Eros Sana, Paris

More About: fashion, instagram, List, Lists, Mobile 2.0, Photos, pics, street style

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Snoop Dogg Fragrance Gets Cheaper As It Gets More Facebook Likes

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 01:30 PM PDT

In a program that combines Like-gating and Groupon-like incentivizing, a product endorsed by Snoop Dogg will get cheaper as it garners Likes.

Snoop, who has close to 10 million Facebook fans, began linking to a "Shop Snoop Now" site on Thursday. The F-commerce site features a line of FragranceRebel products from Parfums de Coeur. One product a day gets featured for the program.

On Friday, that product was BOD Man Really Ripped Abs 8 oz. Fragrance Body Spray, which started out at $7.99, but went down to $7.20 (10% off) when it got 100 "Likes." At press time, the product hadn't yet gotten more than 200 "Likes," which would have brought the cost down another 10%. The maximum discount is 30% off, at 300 "Likes."

A rep for dotbox, the company behind the Facebook promotion, says she believes the "Likes" discount is an industry first.

More About: F-Commerce, facebook, snoop dogg

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Did Tennessee Just Make It Illegal To Share Your Netflix Account?

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 01:05 PM PDT

A law has just passed in Tennessee that will make it theoretically illegal — starting July 1 — to share login information for services like Rdio and Netflix.

According to the Associated Press, the law is meant to stop hackers who sell passwords in bulk, and was supported by record industry officials trying to curtail illegal music sharing.

This fleshes out an already standing law that stops people from stealing cable and also prevents dining and dashing. Tennessee will be the first state in the U.S. to have a law that includes the digital entertainment angle.

In practice, the law isn’t really focused on folks who share passwords with family members, but it could be used against those casual offenders as well. Such a scenario is unlikely — unless you’re sharing your password with your entire extended family. If services like Hulu, Netflix or Rhapsody feel that users are exploiting their services, however, they can turn to the law and press charges.

Stealing $500 or less of music/film consumption will be classified as a misdemeanor that could earn Tennessee citizens a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Steal any more, and offenders could end up with a felony on their records.

What do you think of this law? Will it curtail piracy?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Valerie Everett

More About: Film, law, legal, music, netflix, tennessee

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Why You Can’t Say “Twitter” Or “Facebook” On French TV

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 12:47 PM PDT

Television and radio personalities in France can no longer say “Twitter” or “Facebook” on the air unless it’s in a news story about those specific companies, according to a decree from the French broadcasting authority CSA.

In other words, French broadcasters who want to encourage viewer interaction via Facebook or Twitter accounts can no longer do so. The “follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook” refrains — common parlance in American broadcasting — are no longer allowed on French channels. The networks can still say “find us on social networks,” but services cannot be mentioned by name.

The regulatory decree was issued on May 27. The rationale behind the decision? Apparently mentioning social networks like Twitter or Facebook by name goes against a 1992 decree prohibiting surreptitious advertising. Encouraging users to engage with the content creators or give their own feedback is “clandestine advertising” for the social networks themselves.

Christine Kelly, a spokesperson for the CSA, tried to explain the decision by saying it “would be a distortion of competition” to “give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition.”

Matthew Fraser, a Canadian-born journalist who lives and works in Paris, sees this ruling as an example of the “deeply rooted animosity in the French psyche toward Anglo-Saxon cultural domination.” Fraser writes that “sometimes this cultural resentment finds expression in French regulations and laws.”

An unspoken resentment toward American-based social networks certainly makes more sense than the arbitrary enforcement of an obscure broadcasting decree that was issued a decade before either social network even existed.

What do you think of the CSA’s decision to ban the mentions of Twitter and Facebook in a non-news context? Let us know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of leslieduss

More About: broadcasting regulations, csa, facebook, france, radio, television, tv, twitter

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Top 20 Most-Shared Video Ads This Month

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 12:30 PM PDT

It’s not so hard to make your ad go viral. All you need is access to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. It also helps if you’re Google.

At least that’s the conclusion we’ve drawn from the Mashable Global Ads Chart Top 20, a new monthly rundown we’ve created with Unruly Media. However, if you can’t get Gaga or the Biebs, then you have to get creative. Many of these surprising winners show that a well executed idea can spread a message just fine.

Enjoy the first in a new monthly feature from Mashable, this one looking back on May.

Note: The list below does not include music videos, user-generated content or movie trailers. Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart tracks 18 million shares a day through third-party APIs.

1. "Dear 16-Year-Old Me" (The David Cornfield Memorial Fund): 267,578 shares

There are no cats or celebrities in this video and the subject matter — cancer — is grim. So it's pretty amazing how well this video has done. It's easy to see why, though: The testimonials from real people are funny, frank and impart some very good advice.

2. "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Gameplay Reveal Trailer HD" (Activision): 222,446 shares

There's a lot of pent-up demand for the sequel to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which doesn't come out until November 8.

3. "The Force" (Volkswagen): 99,308 shares

Lil' Vader continues to wow online fans four months after the Super Bowl ad first hit YouTube.

4. "Battle At F-Stop Ridge" (The Camera Store): 73,115 shares

It's hard to believe no one thought of this before: Hardcore photographers "shoot" in a war scenario in this ad for The Camera Store.

5. "The T-Mobile Royal Wedding" (T-Mobile): 67,023 shares

The Royal Wedding may feel like it was ages ago, but this video, a parody of the 2009 hit "Jill and Kevin's Wedding Intro Dance," has accrued a princely number of shares.

6. "The Official 'Someday' Fragrance Perfume by Justin Bieber Commercial" (Someday): 56,690 shares

What would a viral chart be without the Biebs? In addition to buying lots of online media to promote the scent, Bieber also picked a good time to start appearing in public with new girlfriend Selena Gomez.

7. "Evian Roller Babies International Version" (Evian): 50,387 shares

Those babies from 2009 sure have staying power. A new campaign from Evian, meanwhile, failed to make much of an impact.

8. "Google Chrome: Lady Gaga" (Google): 48,477 shares

If you've never understood Lady Gaga's appeal (guilty!), this video promoting Google's Chrome web browser may give you an appreciation for how she manages her fan relationships via social media.

9. "I Want ... " (Animal Humane Society): 42,382 shares

You've heard of LOLCats? Well, these are SOLCats. I kid. This cute ad shows what shelter kitties would say, if they could.

10. "Ken Block's Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l'Autodrome, France" (DC Shoes): 41,823 shares

This perennial viral video features driver Ken Block doing outrageous things with his car. Block also happens to be chief brand officer for DC Shoes.

11. "Google Chrome: It Gets Better" (Google): 37,996 shares

In another hit video for Google Chrome, Dan Savage gives advice and inspiration for gay youths.

12. "Danny MacAskill - Way Back Home" (Redbull): 37,996 shares

In another long-term hit, Danny MacAskill does some crazy stunts on his bike on a trip from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

13. "Google Chrome: Dear Sophie" (Google): 37,645 shares

This touching ad from Google shows a dad recording the swift growth of his young daughter via social media tools.

14."Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — America Teaser" (Activision): 34,720 shares

The American version of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 trailer also did very well.

15. "Battlefield 3 - Full Length 'Fault Line' Gameplay Trailer" (EA): 29,678 shares

This features 12 minutes of gameplay from EA's upcoming video game, which doesn't hit shelves until late December.

16. "Dirt Devil's Exorcist Parody" (TTI Floor Care North America): 28,997 shares

The Exorcist came out in 1973, but apparently enough people remember it to get this ad's joke.

17. "Little Thor" (THor): 28,980 shares

This clever riff on VW's "The Force" promotes the not-so-clever movie Thor.

18. "iPad Games for Cats from Friskies" (Friskies): 26,558 shares

In the 1988 movie Scrooged, Bill Murray, playing a TV exec, gets a pitch on programming for cats. We're not there yet, but we're getting close. And yes, these are real games.

19. "Ken Block Gymhana Two: The Infomercial" (DC Shoes): 25,433 shares

Here are some more insane stunts from Ken Block in this hit viral from 2009.

20. "GagaVille: Lady Gaga Goes to FarmVille" (Zynga): 24,171 shares

Lady Gaga charms skeptical farmers in this video from Zynga.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, enot-poloskun

More About: activision, DC Shoes, Friskies, Google, Lady Gaga, Marvel, monthly viral ads, red bull, viral videos, volkswagen, youtube

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Rumor Roundup: All About Apple’s iCloud Streaming Service

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 12:01 PM PDT

The launch of Apple’s much anticipated streaming music service is rapidly approaching. There have been a lot of rumors flying around about iCloud — as it could be named — so we thought it would be prudent to gather them all together.

The cloud-based music race has been accelerating in the last few months, with Amazon releasing its Cloud Player and Google coming out with Google Music. Neither service launched with the support of the major music labels — although Google reportedly tried to woo them — so both products came out of the oven a bit half-baked. They’re basically lockers that require users to upload their music collections in order to access them across devices.

Consequently, many have been looking toward Apple to come out with a slicker, more robust offering that would allow users to listen to music anywhere and everywhere with ease.

We have yet to get any straight news from Apple on such a product, but we have rumors aplenty. Check up our roundup below and give us your thoughts on what you think will be revealed come June 6.

Who Is On Board?

Apple has reportedly signed deals with all four major labels: Universal Music Group, Sony/ATV, Warner Music Group, EMI and their publishing units, according to the New York Post.

What Do They Get?

Apple will be paying the labels between $100 million and $150 million in advance, the Post says. Each label will receive between $25 million to $50 million each.

In terms of revenue, sources like CNET are saying that publishers will garner 12% of the revenue, major labels will get 58% and Apple will keep 30%. Universal and Sony Music Entertainment were supposedly asking for 60% of the revenue, but came to a compromise so that publishers could be paid.

Apple has not yet signed any deals with indie publishers and labels, but apparently those publishers will receive 12% of revenues, while labels will get 53%, according to Billboard (indie labels are pushing for more).

What Will It Be Called?

We know that a product called iCloud will be launching at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6. We’re not certain whether it’s a music service, but everyone suspects it is.

What Will It Look Like?

In essence, iCloud will probably be a digital music storage locker, but in a different sense than Google and Amazon’s offerings: Users will not have to upload their entire libraries in order to access them across devices.

At launch, only music purchased via iTunes will be eligible for storage in the locker. A user's iTunes library will be scanned for song files that are recognized by the music labels. Then, rather than uploading those files to a server, users will gain instant access to those tracks or albums from other compatible devices. (In the future, other music could also be stored in the locker.)

We have heard nothing about whether playlists will be synced over across devices, or if the service will include offline caching (although we suspect as much).

CNET is also reporting that iCloud could feature movies and TV shows, but that Apple has faced obstacles in obtaining licensing agreements for that content.

How Much Will It Cost?

The Post is reporting that the service will be free (at first) to people who have bought music via iTunes, but could charge $25 in the future. Apple would also sell advertising to monetize.

When Will It Drop?

We know that a product called iCloud will definitely be launching at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6. Apple has not confirmed that it is a music service. It merely calls it a “cloud services offering.”

CNET says a music service will be announced on June 6, but streaming will not be available yet.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, karindalziel

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3 Tips for Better Mobile SEO

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 11:36 AM PDT

Jason Taylor is the vice president of platform strategy at Usablenet. Usablenet's platform powers the mobile sites of 20% of the Fortune 1000, including Estée Lauder, Hilton, Delta, Victoria's Secret, FedEx, ASOS and others. Follow @Usablenet on Twitter.

Google's Eric Schmidt recently noted that mobile search is growing much faster than desktop search. As mobile increasingly becomes a primary gateway to the Internet, it is crucial for companies to incorporate forward-thinking SEO practices into their mobile strategies to ensure their mobile sites are easily detected by search engines and found by consumers.

More than 60% of consumers search for brands from mobile devices before purchasing, and another 49% of mobile searchers made a mobile purchase in the past six months. Businesses must view mobile as a significant piece of their overall marketing campaigns that can drive substantial traffic and increase revenue.

Here are some high level SEO strategies that brands can implement into their overall mobile efforts to ensure they are getting maximum visibility.

1. Develop a Device Agnostic Approach

Search engines incorporate various criteria in mobile browsers to determine page rank. These factors include overall site performance, usability, download speed and screen rendering. A fully optimized mobile site that extends all functionality and key content from a website will rank higher in search results than a website that has simply been reformatted for a smaller screen.

For example, simply transcoding a webpage through the use of a cookie-cutter template will strip it of key content, leading to incomplete pages and decreased overall usability. Difficult navigation and broken pages will result in a lower page rank and a negative user experience that discourages repeat visits.

The type of devices that consumers use to search the mobile web also factors into site ranking. Different mobile web browsers render pages in different ways, which is why it is essential for brands to develop a device agnostic mobile strategy that supports the wide variety of available mobile operating systems.

For example, Staples' mobile site was developed to support all web-enabled devices. To decrease bounce rate (when a user views only one page on a site, but then leaves), brands' mobile sites must automatically recognize the consumer's device as it loads, and render the page accordingly to ensure a view that is best optimized for the user's particular screen.

2. Leverage Traditional SEO Practices on a New Platform

Brands will ensure that their site stands out in a crowded market by translating traditional web SEO practices to mobile. Common SEO tactics that should be incorporated into all mobile sites include:

  • Appropriate Keywords in Headlines and Text: Consumers use mobile for more focused and task-oriented searches (i.e. for a specific location or product). This is different from how most people search from a desktop computer. By understanding consumer behavior, brands can anticipate queries and incorporate key search terms into page text, increasing detection from search engines.
  • Relevant Page Titles and Accurate Page Descriptions: Page titles are one of the first factors mobile browsers use to determine where a page will show in results. Similar to traditional SEO, it is important that these titles reflect the terms that people use to search, increasing the likelihood that the site will appear relevant and receive better page rankings.
  • Outbound Links: Despite less real estate associated with mobile screens, incorporating outbound links to relevant sources provides a more complete user experience and associates the mobile site with other trusted brands.
  • Standard Coding: The wide variety of operating systems supported by mobile makes it extremely important for brands to follow valid HTML coding. Browsers parse through HTML code to determine search relevance. Any errors or invalid coding will result in broken pages and a lower ranking. Sites built in accordance to standards will ensure a consistent experience across all devices.

3. Incorporate Linking and Digital Newsletters

More than 20% of email marketing is read from mobile phones, which is why it is crucial for companies to test and support all incoming links from digital newsletters and other promotional materials. But how can brands make sure that their linking practices translate to mobile? In practical terms, these links provide one fully integrated experience while also allowing brands to cast a wider net by creating a connected presence across the mobile web.

Further, effective traffic driving tools such as email newsletters and social media allow consumers to share links faster than ever before. Links that are not tested or properly maintained will lead to a loss of traffic from redirects to the mobile site. Additionally, these links are important for a mobile site because they can be used by all Internet-enabled phones, including those with limited or no JavaScript support.

For example, Staples incorporates multiple links in its digital newsletters that lead consumers to different product pages or special offers on its mobile site. Consumers who click on "Hot Deals" are directed to the Staples homepage, which is different from users who click links for product promotions which lead directly to the specific product pages.

The Future of Mobile Search

The rapid consumer adoption rate of smartphones, coupled with increasing advancements in mobile technology, means that mobile SEO is a powerful tool to move the needle on mobile traffic. Next-generation coding languages like HTML5 can be incorporated into mobile SEO practices to enhance a mobile site's usability and performance, resulting in higher page rankings in search engines.

Advancements in location-based search results and integrated real-time social search results will further impact how consumers use mobile search and how browsers position results. In order to increase traffic to mobile pages and drive revenue, it is essential for brands to think strategically about how to leverage common mobile SEO practices in order to increase brand loyalty and maximize traffic.

Disclosure: Staples is a client of the author’s company.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Palto

More About: business, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0, mobile search, mobile seo, Search, SEO

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“ZOMG” & “Twittersphere” Enter the Oxford Dictionary

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 10:59 AM PDT

As of this week, you’ll be able to justify the word “ZOMG” using the Oxford Dictionaries Online. Should you feel the need to alert the “Twittersphere,” you can spellcheck that, too.

The two words are on a long list of new additions to the dictionary, many of which have origins in technology and social media.

“The world of computers and social networking continues to be a major influence on the English language,” explains the online dictionary’s blog. (The Oxford Dictionary Online is affiliated with the OED, but they are not one and the same. The difference is explained here.)

Other newly official words include “social graph,” “permalink,” “paperless,” “lifehack” and “lappy.”

Dictionaries have been acknowledging emerging Internet vocabulary since 2004 or before. That year, “blog” made the top of Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year list. “Facebook” was Collins’s top word three years later, and in 2009, “unfriend” was the Oxford Dictionary’s top pick.

Perhaps “unfollow,” which Oxford also included in its recent online updates, will follow in its Facebook counterpart’s footsteps. ZOMG, that would be so cool.

Image courtesy of Flickr, simplebitsdan

More About: Dictionary, trending, twittersphere, ZOMG

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Why Web Personalization May Be Damaging Our World View

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 10:30 AM PDT

Think about all the websites you visit each day. Think about all the blog posts and articles you read, all the videos you watch and the pictures you view. Now think about how you find all that stuff. Some of it is probably recommended by friends, some of it you find directly by visiting sites you know you like. But a growing portion is being curated by robots — computer algorithms that are filtering content and deciding what we get to see.

Almost all popular websites, from search engines to social networks to media outlets, are now utilizing filters in some way to personalize content for visitors.

On the surface, there are clear benefits to filtering for both businesses and consumers. Personalization equates to greater relevance, and for web publishers, relevant content and ads means more clicks and ultimately more money. For users, relevance means less time spent finding content they’ll enjoy.

Who really has time to sift through the 161 million results Google sends back for a search about “Miley Cyrus,” anyway? If the search engine knows you’re probably looking for her latest music video or her tour schedule, what’s the harm in showing you those results on the first page?

According to former executive director and current board president Eli Pariser, however, there are dangerous, unintended consequences to filtering. In this new book, The Filter Bubble, Pariser argues that all this filtering is starting to isolate us. When websites show us only what we like, we get cut off from the diverse points of view that can enrich our understanding of the world. That might be relatively harmless when you’re searching for Ms. Cyrus’ latest single, but what about when you’re trying to find information about pending legislation in Congress or news about revolution in another country?

We had a chance speak with Pariser about how filters are changing the Internet as we know it.

Q&A with Eli Pariser, Author of The Filter Bubble

Eli PariserThe promise of the Internet is that it can connect people from different backgrounds, with different beliefs and across disparate locations. How is the trend toward personalization impeding the fulfillment of that promise?

We're more connected than ever to stuff "people like us" like — not just ads and products, but increasingly content as well. Yahoo News, for example, personalizes which articles it shows to which visitors.

There's a simple psychological logic to this: We like to be surrounded by the familiar, and by information that confirms what we already believe. It drives up pageviews and gets visitors coming back. But it's a problem because it means you're less likely than ever to be confronted with information that challenges your views, or gets you out of your comfort zone. Your own point of view follows you wherever you go.

In an increasingly complex and vast media landscape, filters can provide relevance and combat information overload. Can some level of personalization be useful? What are we missing that we need to see?

Some amount of algorithmic personalization is necessary — there's just too much stuff to sort through for humans to do it all. And tools like the Netflix movie recommendation engine can help people find content they wouldn't otherwise be aware of.

“Like” isn't a neutral word — it's easy to Like "I just finished a marathon," and hard to Like "cell phones may cause cancer."

But if these systems aren't designed carefully, you can miss a lot. Take the Facebook "Like" button — the main way that information gets spread on Facebook. "Like" isn't a neutral word — it's easy to Like "I just finished a marathon," and hard to Like "cell phones may cause cancer." So some kinds of information get through, and others don't, and when that's happening in the Facebook News Feed, where an increasing number of folks get their news, it's a real problem.

Isn’t seeking out a diversity of information a personal responsibility? And haven’t citizens always lived in bubbles of their own making by watching a single news network or subscribing to a single newspaper?

There are a few important ways that the new filtering regime differs from the old one. First, it's invisible — most people aren't aware that their Google search results, Yahoo News links, or Facebook feed is being tailored in this way.

When you turn on Fox News, you know what the editing rule is — what kind of information is likely to get through and what kind is likely to be left out. But you don't know who Google thinks you are or on what basis it's editing your results, and therefore you don't know what you're missing.

Yes, we should all seek out diverse information flows. But great media makes that easy, even fun — combining information vegetables and information dessert and making sure you get enough of both. A lot of the personalization that exists today just serves up information junk food. It may be delicious, but it doesn't feed the soul.

What is your biggest fear of runaway personalization? What are the consequences?

Being a politically-minded person, my biggest fear is probably that important but un-sexy problems — from homelessness to the war in Afghanistan — fall out of view entirely.

My biggest fear is probably that important but un-sexy problems — from homelessness to the war in Afghanistan — fall out of view entirely.

Clay Shirky points out that while most newspaper readers read the internal sections (Sports, Home and Garden, whatever), at least they had to flip by the front page which let them know if something important was going on that they should know about. Now it's possible to live in a bubble where that stuff doesn't ever show up — you'd never know it's happening.

And the challenge there is: We can lose sight of our common problems, but they don't lose sight of us.

While most personalization on the web is algorithmically driven, aren’t we implicitly informing the algorithms based on the choices we’ve previously made interacting with content? Couldn’t you then, in theory, manipulate the filter so you see what you want to see or are there too many factors beyond our control?

Yeah, a lot of people want to "trick" the algorithm — there's some allure to psyching out Google. But there are probably too many factors at work to do it effectively.

Consider: Even if you're completely logged out of Google, on a new computer, the company can track 57 signals about you — from what kind of laptop you're using to what your IP address is to what the font size in your browser is. Already, that gives a lot of important clues about age, income and demographics.

It's ironic — the promise of personalization is that it gives us our own personal view of the world. But the challenge is that a lot of the time, it's actually pushing us toward a stereotyped, simplified version of ourselves: "This person is male, so we'll show him more gadget and car news."

Many of the major social, discovery and media sites on the Internet now implement some type of personalization. Do you feel these sites have a responsibility to educate consumers about how their information is being filtered? Do you think users should be able to opt out of personalization?

Yes, on both counts.

Marshall McLuhan, the media theorist, famously described media as an extension of the nervous system — television is literally eyesight from afar. The systems by which media bring information to us shape how we understand the world. And so understanding those systems and having some control over them is critical.

The companies that are doing this filtering have a huge responsibility — the same responsibility, in many ways, as the old-school media institutions they're replacing. And they need to wield it well — to educate their users about how the filtering works, to give them some control, and to build algorithms that have this sense of civic purpose embedded in them.

You’ve said the solution to the dangers of too much personalization is to build ethics into the algorithm. How does one teach a robot gatekeeper to act with a sense of civic responsibility?

A lot of the danger here comes from relying too heavily on a few specific indicators of what people want — clicks, Likes, video views, whatever.

"Want" is complicated word, because we all have lots of conflicting desires — we want to eat cake and be thin, we want to be educated about the world and watch Jersey Shore. Looking at a variety of signals that encompass that range would be a start — for example, adding an "Important" button alongside the Facebook "Like" button. Otherwise, you can end up with your own personal Jersey Shore marathon.

How is the “filter bubble” related to privacy?

It's sort of the inverse of privacy. Privacy is about controlling what the world is allowed to know about you. This is about controlling what you're able to see of the world — what your filters let through and what they don't.

The common thread is that they both have a lot to do with personal data. Personalization couldn't exist without the massive dossiers of personal data being collected by big companies online these days. And it's a problem because consumers don't have much control over that. The current laws around personal data just don't contemplate a world in which a click on one website changes what you see on an entirely different one. (Or indeed, websites at all.)

Another emerging trend in online media is the rise of human-based content curation using social media tools. Could human curation work in tandem with algorithmic filtering to help us avoid getting trapped in “filter bubbles?”

Yes, I think that's part of the solution. There are lots of things that humans are great at that algorithms are still very bad at: anticipating what's going to be a story, pairing different stories together, giving a representative sense of what's happening in the world.

That's the happy ending that's possible here if these tools become more transparent and controllable: humans and robot algorithms, living in peaceful harmony, giving us both entertainment and the information we really need.

Images courtesy of Jen Campbell and iStockphoto, dibrova

More About: eli pariser, filters, interview, personalization

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National Donut Day Sparks Twitter Trivia Contest

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 09:50 AM PDT

What national treat is celebrated on June 3? Hint: Dunkin’ Donuts is running a trivia contest on Twitter to tie in with the event.

The contest, announced Friday morning, aims to prolong the considerable buzz the donut chain has already gotten thanks to National Donut Day. This morning, Dunkin’, along with rival Krispy Kreme, was a "Hot Search" on Google Trends, and a top Trend on Twitter largely because of deals from both.

On Thursday, Dunkin’ tweeted its offer of a free donut with beverage purchase to its 83,000 followers and put the offer on its Facebook Page, which has 3.5 million fans. Krispy Kreme tweeted its offer — a free donut with no purchase required — to its 8,000 followers on Twitter and touted the deal on its Facebook Page, which has 3.4 million fans.

To keep the discussion going, Dunkin' launched its trivia contest at around 10 a.m. ET. The winners get $50 Dunkin Donuts gift cards. Sample question: "Which country sells these Smiley Donuts? Russia, Peru or Puerto Rico?"

Dunkin's promotion is a bit low key compared to last year's, which was tied in with a celebration of the chain's 60th anniversary. That promotion not only included a free donut with beverage offer, but the unveiling of a contest called "Create Dunkin's Next Donut." The winner: Rachel Davis, whose Monkey-see, Monkey-donut creation, replete with a Bananas Foster filling, chocolate frosting and Reese's Peanut Butter shavings, went on sale last fall.

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Kaiser Chiefs Turns Fans Into Producers for Record Release

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 09:02 AM PDT

And the fight for most creative record release continues: British indie band Kaiser Chiefs is out with a new disc, The Future Is Medieval, and the group is letting fans create their own version of the album.

When you visit the band’s website, you’re asked to choose 10 of 20 tracks to go on your own personalized album. You can then design an album cover using a variety of pre-selected images. Once you’ve purchased the disc, you’ll be given your own page from which to sell the album and earn one pound per sale via PayPal.

The whole project was conceptualized by the band, Universal Music UK and Wieden + Kennedy London, after W+K’s Oli Beale and lead singer Ricky Wilson met up in a fish-and-chip shop for a chat.

To be sure, this is a creative way to get fans engaged in your music (and to market and sell your tunes, as well), but at this juncture, we have to ask: Is this level of fan control taking matters too far? Why write and record 20 songs when fans can only choose 10? What about the consistency of an album that comes from a band choosing how songs flow into each other? The album doesn’t appear to be for sale in any official format via iTunes or Amazon, either, but you can buy “Ricky’s version.”

This isn’t the first time a band has crowdsourced a disc, per se. Devo did the same thing with its album Something for Everybody; the disc's 12 tracks were chosen through a "Song Study" in which fans chose which songs would be included. Still, Devo is famous for being bafflingly tongue-in-cheek.

What do you think of this promotion? Interesting way to involve fans, or a step too far into the marketing realm?

More About: kaiser-chiefs, MARKETING, music, The Future Is Medieval

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Pose 2.0 Transforms iPhone Into Fashion Discovery Engine

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 08:40 AM PDT

Pose released version 2.0 of its iPhone and web apps this week, transmuting what was something of a bare-bones image-tagging app into a more social, mobile discovery engine for fashion.

As before, the app [iTunes link] invites users to upload images of apparel and accessories while they shop, tag them with their prices and the location of the store in which they were found, and then share them with their networks on Pose, Facebook and Twitter.

Users can now also opt to follow their friends, other individuals and a small but growing roster of brands and retailers such as Levi’s and Aerie by American Eagle, in either a linear newsfeed or grid format. They can also craft their own profiles and browse featured items selected by Pose’s internal team and well-known style bloggers, including Leandra Medine of Man Repeller.

Unfortunately, the social features are still very limited. Users can only “heart” items and cannot leave comments, which prevents users from 1). expressing their opinions and reactions 2). forming social connections via the app and 3). asking questions about the items they’re seeing (“Is it in season? Was that the last one in the store?”). At the very least, we’d like to see a range of emoticons like those offered by Path.

We’re also hoping Pose offers better ecommerce integration in the future, as we’d like the ability to shop within the app. (From a business perspective, we’re sure they’d like this, too.) Soon, CEO Dustin Rosen tells us, brands will be able to extend deals and promotions to users in the app.

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Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 08:29 AM PDT

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HOW TO: Make a Mini Movie Theater With Your iPhone

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 08:00 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: MiLi Power Projector 2 pico projector

Price: $399.95, around £200 in the UK

What It’s Good For: Portability, easy set up and decent picture quality.

Who It's Good For: Anyone who wants to share his iPhone’s video content with a group or see it larger.

Limitations: It’s not a cheap gadget.

Bottom Line: The MiLi Power Projector 2 offers iPhone owners a fun way to watch and share video.

A Look at the MiLi Power Projector 2

The second-gen MiLi Power Projector boasts a few improvements on the first. It has shed a good few inches of bulk, boasts better 2.5-hour battery life and now has a fanless design for near-silent operation. Offering a fun way to view video content larger and with a group of others, we were interested to test it out.

Setting up the projector is easy. Once you’ve charged it via mini USB, just open it, pop out the stand, stick your iPhone on the built-in Apple dock, and it recognizes the input right away. You can tweak brightness and contrast in the menu using the remote control, while the volume control and the focus wheel are on the projector itself.

MiLi claims a projection area of up to 70- inches, but you do have to consider that the further away the projector is from the wall, the less bright the image will be. We found a sweet spot of size and brightness to be around 40 inches, which is obviously much larger than the iPhone’s display and a decent size to watch a movie.

In a dark room, the image quality was good. The projector only boasts a VGA resolution, so you’re not going to see the nuances and details you might be used to on your big screen TV, but it’s not a replacement for that — it’s a fun and very portable way to share video from your iPhone or iPod touch.

We feel the pico projector’s novelty value doesn’t necessarily outweigh the high cost, but we were impressed with the gadget and can recommend it to anyone who can afford to splash out.

3. MiLi Power Projector 2 vs iPhone

The MiLi Power Projector 2 is smaller and quieter than the previous model.

2. MiLi Power Projector 2 Open

It flips open and the iPhone or iPod sits on the Apple dock.

4. MiLi Power Projector 2 With iPhone

The stands pops out to support the projector.

5. MiLi Power Projector 2 In Use

You can project images from a few inches wide up to 70 inches.

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: accessories, Gadget of the Day Series, gadgets, iphone, iphone accessories, MiLi, pico projectors, projectors, review, video

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Yfrog Says It Wasn’t Compromised in Wake of Weiner Photo

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 07:38 AM PDT

Reports surfaced this week alleging that Yfrog’s email-to-upload feature had a security hole that could have been responsible for Rep. Anthony Weiner’s alleged “hack” in which a lewd photo was sent from his Twitter account to a Seattle College student. Yfrog has since released a statement about that feature, which it recently suspended.

The congressman has denied that he posted the photo; it features a clothed crotch shot of an unidentified man. He blames hackers but has not outright denied that it was his picture.

The Daily Dot recently pointed out that Yfrog users had the option to email a custom address to post pictures to Yfrog and Twitter. You could email that address using any email account (without a verification process), which means that if someone had access to that address — or the wherewithal to figure it out — that person could post a photo to another user’s Twitter stream.

SEE ALSO: Stephen Colbert Uses Twitter To Poke Fun at Weiner Scandal [PICS]

Yfrog recently suspended this feature. A Yfrog blog post from Thursday reminds users of proper email PIN privacy practices and also states: “At Yfrog, we constantly evaluate our internal security mechanisms across all the facets of our service. Even though our email upload feature has not been compromised or broken into, we are taking this opportunity to evaluate the feature and secure it even further.”

It seems Yfrog is saying that it was not responsible for the “hack” of Weiner’s account. The congressman has stated that his office is conducting an investigation using an outside firm to discover the origin on the pic.

More About: Anthony Weiner, hack, politics, twitter, yfrog

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MI6 Hacks Al-Qaeda Website, Attacks With Cupcake Recipes

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 07:15 AM PDT

British intelligence agency MI6 hacked an Al-Qaeda online magazine, replacing bomb-making instructions with a recipe for cupcakes, The Telegraph reports.

The joint action by MI6 and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters had agents insert into the magazine an encrypted version of "The Best Cupcakes in America," published by the Ellen DeGeneres talk show.

Originally, the magazine had instructions on how to make lethal pipe bombs, as well as articles by Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

According to The Telegraph, a similar Pentagon operation was blocked by the CIA, who claimed the magazine is more valuable as a source of intelligence. The attack was launched from Britain instead.

Al-Qaeda reissued the magazine (bomb-making instructions included) two weeks later and issued four more editions. According to one of The Telegraph‘s sources, British intelligence “was continuing to target online outlets publishing the magazine because it is viewed as such a powerful propaganda tool.”

As amusing as the story may sound, one has to question whether changing the magazine’s content in such an obvious way was the best course of action. It gave Al-Qaeda a clear warning its website had been hacked, probably making the organization a lot more cautious.

Image courtesy of Flickr, lamantin

More About: Agency, agents, al qaeda, British intelligence, cupcakes, intelligence, Mi6, terrorism, trending

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Zynga Courts Goldman Sachs for IPO [REPORT]

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 07:00 AM PDT

Zynga is trying to get Goldman Sachs to lead its IPO and provide a credit line of more than $1 billion for acquisitions, according to a report.

Goldman Sachs will likely make its decision Friday, according to Bloomberg. Reportedly the game maker will file for an IPO by the end of the month.

Zynga's looming IPO comes after LinkedIn went public in May, more than doubling its per-share asking price on opening day and surging to a valuation of $8.9 billion. Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan led that IPO. Groupon also filed for an IPO on Thursday underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG. Goldman Sachs is also a key investor in Facebook, which has not yet set a date for its IPO.

More About: facebook, goldman sachs, groupon, ipo, Morgan Stanley, Zynga

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HOW TO: Write a Standout Job Description

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 06:14 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

There’s a lot of competition for top talent in the tech space. Writing a standout job description is an essential step toward attracting the right individuals to join your company.

As the demand for highly specialized digital talent increases in coming years, it will be even more important for companies to convey their wants, needs and culture via their websites and other digital touchpoints — job descriptions are no exception.

Here are our top tips for writing job descriptions that effectively communicate your company’s available positions and the requirements for applicants. We also searched the web for some examples of well-written job listings, which you’ll find below.

Essential Details

General guidelines on what to include in job descriptions have evolved over the years, making it simpler for employers to write them and for potential applicants to read them. Here are nine essential details to include in your company’s job descriptions:

  • Job Title & Summary: Develop a job title for the position you’re looking to fill — the title and level (assistant, senior, lead, etc.) should accurately reflect the work that the employee will perform. Be sure to choose a job title that reflects your industry’s standards and organization’s culture. Once you’ve defined the position, write a brief description of the purpose of the position and an overview of the position’s main responsibilities. This summary should be short and to the point — one to three sentences should suffice.
  • Key Responsibilities: List all of the essential functions of the position at hand. Generally, this includes between five and 10 responsibilities. Begin each responsibility with a present-tense, action verb — “research social media trends” or “mock up new UI graphics” are good examples. Be transparent about how frequently a task will be performed or what percentage of the employee’s time will be spent with each task. This helps applicants form an idea of what a typical day may look like.
  • Department & Supervisor: Include details on who the person would report to and where that person falls within the company’s structure.
  • Skills & Qualifications: List all qualifications that are mandatory, along with those that are preferred. Such qualifications should include skills, years of experience, certifications, licenses, education level and necessary technical proficiencies.
  • Company Overview: While it is ideal that a candidate would already know essential details about the hiring company, it is helpful for potential applicants to have a description of the company (as written by the company) at hand. Include information about the company’s mission, goals, industry and headquarters location. Other useful details could include the number of states and countries where the company is present, number of employees, annual sales and so on.
  • Location: Include details on where the position is located. If travel is necessary, note what percentage of time the employee will spend traveling and where he or she will be traveling.
  • Type of Employment: Be very clear about whether the position is full-time or part-time. If the position is an internship, note whether it will be paid or unpaid — be sure that the internship follows the six federal legal criteria if it is unpaid.
  • Salary Range & Benefits: If your company is open to publicizing the position’s salary range and benefits (such as 401(k), vacation days, or medical and dental insurance), include those details within the job description.
  • Recruiter Contact Information: While it may seem obvious, there are plenty of job listings on the web without contact information. Include contact information so that potential applicants can apply and ask questions.

Formatting Tips

Not all job descriptions are created equal. The perfect job description is neither too descriptive nor too vague, uses clear language and represents the ethos of the company. Here are a few formatting tips for improving your company’s job descriptions:

  • Bullet Point When Possible: Make your job description easier to skim by using bullet points within the responsibilities and qualifications sections and anywhere else that makes sense.
  • Be Specific: While brevity is a much-appreciated art, it’s also important to be as specific and transparent as possible in your job description. Vague descriptions make it difficult for potential applicants to imagine themselves in a role and to decide whether they are qualified for or would enjoy the job.
  • Use Direct Language: It’s important to give potential applicants a clear idea of the responsibilities and qualifications necessary for the job. Steer away from fuzzy descriptors, such as “sometimes” or “often” when describing duties. Opt for organizing job responsibilities by hours or percentage of time spent on each.
  • Embody the Company’s Personality: When putting the job description together, choose a writing style and words that match your company’s ethos. If your business is a startup with a very distinct company culture, be sure to communicate that sentiment with the way you format your description, the words you use and the general feelings your description evokes. If that means straying from the norms, so be it. In the end, the goal is to attract people who are right for the position and the company.

Learn From the Best

The recruitment teams at Meetup, The New York Times Company, Facebook, Google and Twitter communicate effectively via their job listings. Check out examples from each company below.

Meetup: Embody Your Company Culture

The team at Meetup focuses on its people, which is quite evident on the company's blog and recruitment page.

The business's hiring page includes a personality-filled company description, including its goals, product function, values and what its looking for in job candidates.

The New York Times Company: Be Available

There's almost nothing more annoying than sending a job application into the great unknown. Many job listings and recruitment sites fail to include details on how applicants can get in touch with recruiters to follow up on their applications or ask questions.

The New York Times Company recruiting team does a great job at being available and reaching out to job applicants. For example, the @NYTimesRecruit Twitter account, run by the company's talent acquisition team, actively responds to questions and tweets job search and career-related articles that followers may find of interest.

Facebook: Publicize Benefits & Perks

While some recruiters may see it as a disadvantage to publicize benefits and perks (and salary details), applicants tend to appreciate the transparency.

Facebook's careers page thoroughly explains the company's benefits package and its other dandy perks, such as laundry service, discounts, transportation reimbursements and speaking opportunities.

Google: Explain Your Various Locations

It's obvious to include the location of the position on the job description, but it takes a bit more initiative to go into depth and explain the intricacies of each office.

Google's recruitment page features an "office locations" tab where interested candidates can explore the company's offices by location using Google Maps or a list of locations. Each office page features contact details for the office and a list of open positions at that office, along with photos and a description of what it's like to work in that location.

Twitter: Bullet Point & Be Specific

As expected, Twitter, the king of short communication, understands the power of getting to the point in recruitment descriptions.

The company's job listings are specific and to the point, without lacking information. All job descriptions include sections for "about this job," "responsibilities" and "qualifications," and others even include a "pluses" section, which outlines preferred (but not necessary) qualifications, such as being an active Twitter user and responsibly enjoying beer.

Your Ideas

Have you seen any unique job descriptions across the web lately? If so, let us know about them in the comments below and be sure to explain why you find them so interesting.

Images courtesy of Flickr, rutty & Adikos

More About: job recruiting, jobs, Recruiting, recruitment, trending

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Google Search Becomes More Image-Friendly

Posted: 03 Jun 2011 05:53 AM PDT

Google has added a couple of features to its main search engine that make it easier to search for images and browse through image-related results.

Now, the images that show up in main search results will increase in size when you move your mouse over them, making it easier to choose the ones you want.

Furthermore, if you indicate that you’re searching for images in the main search – for example, if you add words such as “images” or “photos” to your search query – Google will recognize it and offer you a grid of images on top of the standard search results.

These new features are available on in English, but Google promises global availability in the next month.

[via Google]

More About: Google, Google images, image search, images, Search

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