Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Tiffany & Co. Releases User-Generated Map of World’s Romantic Moments”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Tiffany & Co. Releases User-Generated Map of World’s Romantic Moments”

Tiffany & Co. Releases User-Generated Map of World’s Romantic Moments

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 04:46 AM PDT

Tiffany has launched a multimedia-rich microsite and iPhone app designed to be the “go-to resource” for romantics everywhere.

After a short film entitled Will You Marry Me? by director Edward Burns, which features proposal stories from various couples, the site and app invite users to browse four sections: “Love Stories,” a collection of audio slideshows; “Tiffany’s New York,” a guide to the city’s gardens, museums and upscale restaurants; “The Art of Romance,” a playlist of romantic songs and films, as well as advice for couples; and our personal favorite, “Love Is Everywhere,” which invites users to tag the globe with their most romantic memories.

The last of these is a simple, elegant and interactive feature that enables all visitors to participate in a personal, emotionally resounding way — the best kind of interactive marketing, in our opinion.

Why Microsites & One-Off Apps Don’t Work

Although the multimedia content is top-notch, we were mostly disappointed with the site and app overall.

First of all, the content shouldn’t be housed on an independent microsite or on a closed-off app — not when the same content could live on Tumblr or Facebook and enjoy a much broader, longer-living reach as a result.

Even the best and most social of one-off sites, such as Burberry’s receive a rush of traffic at the beginning, which falls off without constant promotion. What’s fantastic about Facebook and Tumblr is that users can easily subscribe to updates and share new content with their networks by “Liking,” commenting or reblogging a post, thereby reaching more consumers over a longer span of time.

At the very least, the multimedia sections should be powered by Tumblr, so that Tumblr users could subscribe to and reblog individual pieces of content.

For now, Tiffany will use its accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to drive traffic to the page as new content appears. The site will be integrated with later this month, Carson, said in an interview with Mashable.


More About: fashion, iphone app, jewelry, MARKETING, tiffany

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Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands for the Last Time [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 01:06 AM PDT

Space Shuttle Endeavour has touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Center at 2:34 a.m. ET, ending its last mission.

Endeavour’s STS-134 mission was originally supposed to be the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, but the STS-135 mission was approved in October 2010, and now Atlantis will be the final Space Shuttle to fly into space.

According to NASA, Endeavour has spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles on its 25 flights.

Endeavour’s last mission was also notable as it coincided with the biggest social media push from NASA so far. The agency launched a new Slideshare Network, dubbed "The NASA Universe," adding to its rich social media offering, which includes over 100 Twitter feeds as well as multiple accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.

Check out the video of the landing below.

[via NASA]

More About: endeavour, landing, NASA, space shuttle

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King Camera Is a Dark Room For Your iPhone Photos

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:05 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: King Camera

Quick Pitch: King Camera is an iPhone app for enhancing photos with instant looks or custom photo effects.

Genius Idea: Giving iPhone photographers their own personal dark room.

Instagram has championed the instantness of the mobile photo-sharing movement with a selection of filters users can apply for fast iPhone photo styling. Camera+ traffics in a seemingly never-ending selection of photo effects. Now King Camera, an iPhone application released by Saycheezzz late last week, offers iPhone photographers the best of both worlds.

The $2.99 application [iTunes link], which will go on sale Wednesday for a launch sale price of $0.99, is meant to be a personal dark room for mobile photographers. It includes an array of features housed within its four primary modules: Camera, Photodesk, Quickmatik and Promatik.

The application user snaps or selects library photos with the Camera module. For each shot, the Camera module automatically adjusts the focus and tries to properly expose the photo, though users can manually adjust the focus and exposure settings.

In fact, King Camera users who wish to expand beyond the simple default point-and-shoot settings can choose from four different trigger modifiers, take time-lapse shots and enable the big button to tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo.

The Photodesk is where all Camera captures and altered shots are saved in photo stacks. Here users can tap to edit a photo in Quickmatik to apply one of 45 different prefabricated looks (like filters in other apps) or choose Promatik to make and apply their own effects.

“The app is for anyone who loves taking photos,” says Saycheezzz co-founder Yanik Chauvin. “Beginners will enjoy the simplicity of the Quickmatik, and more advanced users with love making their own Looks in the Photoshop-like Promatik.”

On a test run, I found the 45 available Quickmatik instant looks to be a tad disappointing in comparison to Instagram filters. Still, having the ability to scale each effect up or down with a slider is certainly a nice touch, and the selection of borders and cropping options are plentiful.

More impressive is the limitless creativity that the Promatik module allows. This iPhone photo editing dark room is a feature-rich module that is best suited for more advanced photo editors but still accessible to novices. Users can crop, rotate and adjust white balance and coloring in photos, as well add textures, vignettes and borders. They can also save a collection of applied effects as their own look.

King Camera has the obligatory photo-sharing options built in as well — one-tap sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Dropbox and email is available for all photos saved to the Photodesk.

We’ve still barely scratched the surface in terms of King Camera’s features; the application will not disappoint those with a penchant for both creativity and control in the photo editing process.

King Camera is the first photography application by Saycheezzz, a self-funded startup started by professional photographers Chauvin and Martin Perreault.

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, iphone app, King Camera, Saycheezzz, spark-of-genius

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Zynga’s Newest Social Game Lets You Fight Your Friends

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:49 PM PDT

Zynga, the creators of FarmVille and CityVille, is about to unleash its newest social game upon the world: Empires & Allies, the company’s first combat strategy game.

The social gaming giant describes Empires & Allies as “CityVille meets Risk.” Unlike FarmVille, where your goal is to build up your property through trade and commerce, Empires & Allies is about building an army and protecting your empire. Users can build army units, form alliances, secure energy and even invade other islands. In some ways, it’s similar to OGame and the other battle-oriented browser games of the early 2000s.

Unlike other Zynga games, Empires & Allies is driven by its story. The game has more than 30 characters that guide players through the storyline. The game isn’t focused on hardcore gamers though, and has many of the casual gaming elements that have made Zynga’s games so successful. "We're focused on bringing our players a new form of entertainment and a strategy game is definitely a new playground for us,” Empires & Allies executive producer Amer Ajami said.

While this isn’t Zynga’s first combat game (that honor goes to Mafia Wars), it’s a more involved game that requires strategic battle planning and resource management. Zynga’s betting that the combination of in-depth strategy and social gaming will turn Empires & Allies into a lucrative time sink.

The game will become available on Wednesday in 12 languages.

More About: ames, cityVilleg, Empires & Allies, farmville, gaming, Zynga

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Fox News Launches Its iPad App [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 31 May 2011 09:18 PM PDT

Fox News has released its official iPad application, a visually-focused news experience with a big-name sponsor.

The app, which is now available [iTunes Link] in the App Store , was built from the ground-up. According to Jeremy Steinberg, Fox News VP of digital media ad sales and business development, the focus was on creating a visual experience that built upon the success of its iPhone app. “It’s very easy to navigate, very visual and very easy to read,” Steinberg told Mashable.

Fox News has had a lot of success with iOS already. The Fox News iPhone app was the most downloaded free news app of 2010, beating CNN and The New York Times. Fox News’s mobile website now has 12 million monthly unique visitors, up from 4 million a year ago, according to Nielsen.

Steinberg says that Fox News has waited until now to release its app because it was looking for the critical mass that would support the app financially. “We waited for the right moment,” he said. “We want all of our products to be viable financially.”

The Fox News iPad app is divided into two key sections: a “Happening Now” section and a story timeline. The top half of the app (whether it’s in landscape or portrait mode) displays images and videos from the the top stories of the day. It’s a simple way for users to swipe through and access breaking stories through a visual interface. The bottom half of the app is essentially a timeline view where users can access top stories, information on Fox News shows and check out their favorite articles and videos.

The application also includes access to Fox News Radio and the iconic Fox News ticker at the bottom of the app. Fox News has also made sure that the app includes sharing options via Twitter, Facebook and email.

Users will also notice something else about the app: the prominent placement of ExxonMobil advertising throughout the app. Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News’s iPad app. “We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor,” Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said that Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.

Steinberg says that the app currently doesn’t offer live video (something the CNN and ABC News apps offer for certain live events), but says that the Fox News iPad App could have it in the future, depending on cable deals. Users can also expect other advertisers to eventually populate the app as the cable news network looks for ways to monetize on Apple’s tablet. Steinberg says that Fox News will find ways to make the ads “a complement to the content.”

The Fox News iPad App (Landscape Mode)

Fox News iPad App Video Page

Fox News iPad App (Portrait Mode)

Fox News iPad App Article Page

Fox News iPad App Slideshow Page

More About: cnn, fox news, iOS, ipad, media

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Google’s Schmidt Takes Subtle Shots At Microsoft, Apple, Facebook

Posted: 31 May 2011 08:27 PM PDT

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt described his company as part of a “gang of four” kings of consumer technology, along with Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Explicitly not on that list: Microsoft.

Speaking at the opening interview of the All Things D conference in southern California, Schmidt seemed determined to sideline the world’s largest software company as an enterprise play. He said Microsoft was “not driving the consumer revolution in the minds of consumers,” and claimed that the majority of its profits came from corporate sales. The Xbox gaming system didn’t count as it was “not a platform at the computational level,” Schmidt said.

And Schmidt sounded a warning that Microsoft shouldn’t feel safe from Google in the enterprise space either. The former CEO said we were seeing “the death of IT as we know it,” as more and more companies move their data off local servers and online. Google and Microsoft are competing aggressively in the cloud-based services market.

Schmidt had a mixture of praise and criticism for Apple, a partner in some things (search, maps) and a competitor in others (the increasingly brutal Android vs. iOS war in the mobile space). Schmidt called Apple a company that makes “beautiful products” — but also one that clamps down too harshly on iOS developers. Android developers have much more freedom to launch apps, he said.

“The Apple model is the reverse of the Google model,” Schmidt told interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. “The Google model is, let the market decide.”

When it came to Facebook, Schmidt made his admiration clear. “For years, we missed something: identity,” he said. “The industry missed it and Google missed it … Facebook is the first general way of disambiguating identity, and that allows you to build a platform.” He also admitted that Google “screwed up” in some of its early social media efforts, specifically the much-maligned and short-lived Google Buzz platform.

At the same time, Schmidt said the industry could “benefit from having an alternative platform” in social media. Google plans to officially launch one such small alternative, the +1 system, on Wednesday. Yet Schmidt seemed to downplay the importance of +1, saying that Google’s search product was “good enough” to fight back waves of SEO optimizers without needing the social layer.

Schmidt was intent on quashing rumors that he was looking for an exit from Google after stepping down from the CEO role earlier this year to make way for co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin were still very important to the company, he insisted. “We have an agreement that if there’s anything important, the three of us will talk about it,” he said, later adding: “I look forward to working at Google until after death.”

More About: apple, eric schmidt, facebook, Google, microsoft

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Google Launches Its Groupon Competitor Wednesday

Posted: 31 May 2011 07:47 PM PDT

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has announced that the search giant will launch its Groupon competitor on Wednesday, starting with Portland.

The news that Google is getting into the daily deals space is not a surprise. Google attempted and failed to acquire Groupon for $6 billion last year. A few months later, Mashable exclusively learned that Google was developing a Groupon competitor called Google Offers.

At the D9 Conference in Palos Verdes, California, Schmidt and Stephanie Tilenius, Google’s VP of commerce, demonstrated the company’s new product. It’s just like Groupon in that it provides users a daily deal from “thousands of merchant partners.” Google showed off a deal for $10 worth of Floyd’s coffee for $3 on stage.

The big selling point for Google Offers is that it will integrate seamlessly with Google Wallet, the company’s NFC-based payment system launching this summer. Instead of printing out a coupon or barcode, completed offers are saved to a user’s Google Wallet, where they are automatically saved and redeemable. Eventually they will be utilized automatically through NFC.

Google Offers will be available tomorrow in Portland and eventually roll out to New York, San Francisco and other cities during the summer.

More About: Google, groupon

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How to Decide Whether Your Business Needs an App [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 31 May 2011 07:01 PM PDT

Does your company need a mobile app of its own?

This question is something we think about a lot at Mashable, and the answer depends a lot on the kind of company and product or products in play. It also shifts based on the demographic you’re targeting and the current state of the mobile landscape.

One thing to consider is the cost. Developing a native app can be expensive, and it may or may not be worth it for your company. And depending on how you handle user data and users’ expectations, you might be facing some legal troubles in the future.

If you do decide (or if you’ve already decided) that building a native app is the way to go, check out our tips on how to build a mobile app, written with small and medium-sized businesses in mind.

Alternatively, you can check out our resources on native versus mobile web apps and how to make your mobile web app look and feel like a native app.

This infographic comes to us from BuySellAds, an online ad sales platform.

Click image to see larger version.

[source: BuySellAds]

top image courtesy of Flickr, blakespot

More About: business, infographic, mobile app, smb

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Top 10 Twitter Trends This Month [CHART]

Posted: 31 May 2011 06:03 PM PDT

Twitter Chart Image

May started with a bang — the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1 — but then shaped up more or less like any other standard month, at least judging by what people were talking about on Twitter.

Though soccer is soccer, it’s perhaps a little sad that Justin Bieber beat out bin Laden in the end. Or maybe that’s a good thing — it’s hard to tell. Even the end of the world couldn’t overtake the soccer/Bieber combo. Maybe if the Rapture had actually happened on May 21, it would have taken the month (and much of mankind with it).

But we digress. May was a solid month. Anytime your mom is a trending topic, things can’t be so bad in the world. Let’s hope that June is similarly pacific and well-Biebered.

You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section.

Top Twitter Trends This Month: May

In post-season competition in May, the top football trend was #SurvivalSunday, which is related to the final day in the English Premier League. Fans of Club América, a popular soccer team in Mexico, were shocked when they were eliminated from the playoffs. Another big topic was the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona (won by the latter team).
Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber fans caused 52 separate trends regarding the singer to hit Twitter’s Top 10 during the month of May. And that doesn’t include trends about his relationship with Selena Gomez (pro and con).
Osama bin Laden
Al Qaeda commander Osama Bin Laden was killed by a small team of Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2. The raid and its consequences were avidly discussed for days.
May 21st/The Rapture
Some Christian believers insisted the world would end on Saturday, May 21. It didn’t. But users took the opportunity to confess things they had done and shared playlists that they had or would like to have before the “rapture.”
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga fans caused a number of unusual trends to hit Twitter’s Top 10 including RTing “Lord Voldemort + Lady Gaga = Lord Gaga.” They also caused a number of songs on her album Born This Way to trend.
Mother’s Day
Sunday May 8 marked Mothers Day in many countries around the world. People are tweeting their love and affections towards their mothers.
NBA Playoffs
NBA playoffs continued throughout the month of May which culminate in the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks which begin May 31.
Jonas Brothers
Jonas Brothers fans celebrated “Jonas Brothers Day” on May 7 (because of 7:05, a popular song by the group). They used the day to celebrate everything the band has done for us, through their actions, their love, through their music.
Super Junior
Super Junior fans sent a lot of trends involving band members and certain singles into Twitter’s Top 10 Trends including Lee Hyuk Jae, also known as Eunhyuk, and “Bonamana”, Super Junior’s fourth studio album which was released a year ago this month.
The Vampire Diaries
Fans of the TV show The Vampire Diaries were on the edge of their seats when it looked like the character played by @IanSomerhalder, the vampire Damon Salvatore, looked like he was going to die in the season 2 finale.

Data aggregate courtesy of What the Trend.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

Interested in more Twitter resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: Lists, Top Twitter Topics, twitter, Twitter Lists, twitter trends

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Apple iWork Makes Debut on iPhone & iPod Touch

Posted: 31 May 2011 05:18 PM PDT

More than a year after its debut on the iPad, iWork, Apple’s suite of productivity apps, is now available on iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple’s iWork apps — Keynote, Pages and Numbers specifically — have been available on the iPad since the device’s debut last year. The apps, which retail for $9.99 each, provide users the ability to create presentations, documents and spreadsheets using Apple’s multi-touch interface. The apps were only for the iPad, though — iPhone and iPod touch users were out of luck. It made sense at the time: advanced word processing didn’t seem like an ideal task for the phone.

Today though, Apple announced that it has updated the iWork apps to work on the smaller screens of the iPod touch and iPhone. Pages, Keynote and Numbers each retail for $9.99 on the iPhone, although they’re free to download if you’ve already purchased the iPad versions. The apps have almost the same functionality as they have on the iPad. Users are able to write work proposals and create spreadsheets with their iPhones, though their thumbs may appreciate the larger screen of the iPad more. A few rulers and toolbars aren’t present on the iPhone and iPod touch versions, but that’s not a surprise given the smaller screen.

One other catch: Pages, Keynote and Numbers only work on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the third-generation iPod touch and the fourth-generation iPod touch. We’re a little surprised that Apple didn’t decide to release these apps during Steve Jobs’s keynote at WWDC next week, but it has plenty of other goodies up its sleeve.

More About: iOS, ipad, iPad 2, iphone, iphone 4, iPod Touch, iwork, keynote, numbers, Pages

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Google Graduates 3 Gmail Labs Features

Posted: 31 May 2011 04:31 PM PDT

Google has announced that three Gmail Labs add-ons have graduated and become standard Gmail features. Starting today, users now have access to Superstars, Nested Labels and Advanced IMAP Controls as part of the regular Gmail experience. The Google Search Box lab feature, which was added in April 2009, was retired.

The Official Gmail Blog gives an overview of these labs turned features and describes how users can access them in their settings.

Superstars, the ability to use different types of stars in addition to the basic Gmail star icon, was one of the most popular Gmail Labs experiments. Users can now access and customize their stars in the Settings panel.

Nested labels allow users to organize groups of labels, something that can be particularly handy for users who have intricate rules and tagging systems. Users can create new sub-labels from a new dropdown menu or move existing labels below others in the “edit” options. Nested labels can also now be designated in closed or expanded states.

The final labs graduate is Advanced IMAP Controls. This has long been one of my most-used Gmail features for my various Google Apps accounts and it’s great to see it get upgraded to full feature status. These controls, which are accessible in the IMAP section of the Gmail settings, let users specify what labels are set to sync, folder size limits and other behavior that is especially useful for those of us who frequently access Gmail in a desktop or mobile client, rather than from the website.

Are there any Gmail Labs you would like to see become full features? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, F-Oxymoron

More About: gmail, gmail labs, Google, imap

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More iCloud Details Emerge

Posted: 31 May 2011 03:34 PM PDT

On Tuesday, Apple made the unusual decision to pre-announce its software lineup for next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which includes its long-rumored cloud-based services offering, iCloud.

The Wall Street Journal has reported additional information on the cloud service, including the status of Apple’s agreements with major music labels. iCloud, which Steve Jobs is expected to announce in conjunction with iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion, is described in part as a digital musical locker, similar to Amazon’s Cloud Player and the new Google Music. The difference, according to the Journal, is that Apple has struck deals with the record labels that will make it easier for users to access their libraries.

Both Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player require users to upload their existing music libraries to the services before content can be streamed or accessed from a secondary machine. Amazon does automatically store new Amazon MP3 purchases in a users Cloud Player library, but any Amazon purchases made before the Cloud Player account was activated need to be uploaded manually.

What Apple will be doing — according to the Wall Street Journal — is what is known as “scan and match.” In essence, a user’s computer or 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 access to those tracks or albums from other compatible devices.

Whether or not iCloud’s scan and match feature will extend beyond files purchased from the iTunes Music Store isn’t clear, but we have a hunch that users will have the ability to instantly access all of their past iTunes music purchases using the service.

Apple certainly has the ability to give users access to the entirity of their iTunes Music accounts. About two years ago, I accidentally deleted my entire iTunes music library. After contacting Apple, I was granted the opportunity to download every song or music video I had ever purchased from the iTunes Music Store in one gigantic download. The resulting download was more than 25GB in size and more than 2600 files. Still, every song, free single of the week and special edition iTunes bonus track that I had ever purchased was given back to me.

Frankly, if Apple could offer that kind of access from a web browser, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, we think the company could be onto something.

Music lockers are a good idea but are often marred by the reality that uploading every album you have to the cloud is a long, unpleasant process. If Apple wanted to sweeten the pot even more, it could make iTunes playlists syncable with the cloud and even sharable, Spotify style, with friends.

The Wall Street Journal says that Apple has signed agreements with three of the four major record labels. It is expected to finalize its agreement with Universal Music Group later this week.

If Apple is able to rollout a truly cloud-based iTunes experience to users, it would give the company a huge advantage in the emerging space. iTunes is the number one music retailer in the world; having instant access to past purchases would only solidify that lead.

What do you think about iCloud? Let us know.

More About: Amazon Cloud Player, apple, cloud computing, google music, icloud, iOS, itunes, itunes music store, wwdc

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Laptop Thief Gets Exposed by Hidden Security Camera App

Posted: 31 May 2011 03:07 PM PDT

Joshua Kaufman didn’t just sit back and watch when his laptop was stolen — he continued to watch it being stolen, days later. Yup, thanks to Hidden, an app that collects webcam pics and screenshots when a computer is stolen, Kaufman knows just what his MacBook thief looks like.

The MacBook in question was lifted from interaction designer Kaufman‘s Oakland, CA, apartment March 21, along with a few pieces of jewelry. Luckily, Kaufman had installed the Hidden app on his computer back in December, which allowed him to capture pictures of the thief — as well as his Google ID — and create a Tumblr dedicated to the missing computer, This Guy Has My MacBook, which went live last Friday.

According to Kaufman, despite the fact that he has told police where the MacBook is — thanks to Hidden — no progress had been made on its recovery. When asked if he thinks he’ll get his computer back, Kaufman replied: “I believe in the power of good.”

You hear that, dude who supposedly has Kaufman’s MacBook? He believes in you. So why don’t you go ahead and return that sucker to its rightful owner?

More About: macbook, security, tumblr

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Ice Cream Lovers Earn Rewards in Nestle’s Mobile Campaign

Posted: 31 May 2011 02:44 PM PDT

Nestle has selected CheckPoints to power the mobile piece of its summer-long marketing campaign for the Dreyer’s and Edy’s Grand Ice Cream brands.

CheckPoints’ iPhone and Android applications will be used to drive consumers to engage with featured products and new flavors at every U.S. retail establishment where Dreyer’s or Edy’s products are sold.

The national effort is made of more than 60 local micro campaigns, all of which are represented in the CheckPoints application, co-founder and President Todd Dipaola says.

Consumers will be encouraged to visit grocery stores and retail locations where Dreyer’s or Edy’s Ice Cream products are sold, fire up the application and venture to the ice cream aisle to scan featured products — Dreyer’s SlowChurned Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae, for instance — and learn more about them.

At certain locations, shoppers will be awarded a $4-off coupon at checkout to be redeemed at a future date, should they spend $12 on Dreyer’s products. The CheckPoints application will feature the offer where available, along with additional retailer specials.

The initiative, said to be the first mobile marketing engagement effort for Nestle’s Dreyer’s products, ties into the brand’s larger print, digital and television advertising campaign for the summer.

CheckPoints last reported 500,000 users in January. The startup is growing fast, says Dipaola, and will announce new application user numbers in a few weeks time. Past and present partners include Kimberly-Clark, Levi’s, Bellkin, Seventh Generation, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Energizer, Lionsgate, Kmart and Tyson Foods.

More About: checkpoints, Dreyer's, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0, mobile shopping, nestle, startup

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9 Viral Videos That Are Actually Advertising

Posted: 31 May 2011 02:20 PM PDT

As a marketer, there’s nothing less cool than being seen trying to promote a viral campaign and failing. On the other hand, there’s nothing cooler than a viral campaign taking off through no effort of your own.

It’s a bit like having a flat stomach: There’s much more cachet if you have good genes as opposed to constantly hitting the gym. Marketers can curse the gods for this profoundly unfair happenstance or they can get creative and release fake viral videos that are actually ads. That’s the approach the following have taken, and in each case, they’ve been caught. (A shout out to Mark Book of Digitas for bringing some of these to our attention.)

So, a few questions: Is it actually better to try to orchestrate a viral campaign in which you distance yourself from the campaign? Are there well-known viral videos out there that are actually ads and we just don’t know about them? Why are so many Australians involved in these things? Discuss — in the comments below.

Evan Longoria's Crazy Bare Hand Catch (Gillette)

Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria gallantly saves a female reporter from being impaled by a baseball with a hard-to-believe barehanded catch.

Why this is suspect:

1. The reporter has no logo on her microphone.

2. fMrSprts12, the YouTube entity that uploaded the video, has previously only uploaded videos related to Gillette.

How to Hack Video Screens in Times Square (Limitless)

A guy with an iPhone hacks into electric signs at Times Square.

How we know it's fake:

1. The people behind the video, a viral marketing company called Thinkmodo, admitted it to The New York Times.

2. A second video shows the inspiration behind the stunt: A fictional drug called NZT that's featured in the movie.

Walk on Water (Hi-Tec)

Aussies develop a new sport called Liquid Mountaineering that involves walking on water.

How we know it's fake:

1. Duh.

2. The shoes figure very prominently in the video.

3. The video was uploaded by Hi-Tec.

Kevin Durant is Moving In Right Now (Nike)

Mathias Murphy, a 16-year-old fan who lives near Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant films his idol moving in and taking out the trash.

Why it's fake:

1. Nike's agency, Wieden + Kennedy, admitted as much.

Bike Hero (Guitar Hero)

A young bicyclist plays a version of Guitar Hero using his bike and the asphalt below.

How we know it's a fake:

Activision and ad agency CDroga5 fessed up.

Are You My Man in the Jacket? (Witchery)

An attractive Aussie woman met this guy a few days ago and, well -- this is a bit embarrassing -- she can't stop thinking about him. Luckily, he left his Witchery jacket behind.

How we know it's fake:

The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the hoax.

Rear View Girls (Levi's)

Two enterprising women in Los Angeles plant an "ass cam" on their posteriors and record the reactions.

How we know it's fake: Agency Colenso BBDO admitted it was, uh, behind the effort.

Butterfly Attack (Qualcomm)

In an elaborate April Fool's joke, Qualcomm releases a fake video showing people attacked by butterflies.

How we know it's fake:

Qualcomm told Mashable about the stunt, which was designed to promote its mirasol technology.

Danish One-Night Stand (VisitDenmark)

Similar in theme to Witchery's viral ad, a Danish woman releases a video aimed at the father of her young son, who was conceived in a one-night stand.

How we know it's fake:

A Danish newspaper revealed the hoax.

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Lewd Photo From New York Congressman’s Twitter Account Has Web in a Tizzy

Posted: 31 May 2011 01:59 PM PDT

On Friday evening, a lewd photo was sent via the Twitter feed of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner to a young college student in Seattle. Now, that photo has become a topic of much Internet debate, with Weiner claiming that his Twitter and Facebook accounts were hacked as he hires a lawyer to protect his innocence, which many blogs and Internet denizens are questioning.

Both Weiner and college student Gennette Cordova deny that the picture in question was sent by the congressman himself. Weiner told NY1 TV, “Look, this is a prank, not a terribly creative one and it’s a distraction.” Cordova, for her part, sent a lengthy statement to the New York Daily News, stating, in part: “There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.”

Cordova also explicates how the whole ordeal has affected her privacy: “All of this is so outlandish that I don’t know whether to be pissed off or amused, quite frankly. This is the reality of sharing information online in the 21st century. Things that I never imagined people would care about are now being plastered all over blog sites.”

Cordova shut down her Twitter and Facebook accounts, and attempted to get other personal info taken off the web. Recently, however, it appears as through she has created a new Twitter account, which features the subhead: “I can’t believe I’m back on Twitter.” We’ve reached out to the person running the account for comment.

The Pic Heard Round The Blogosphere — which is actually a rather tame snap of gray underwear hiding, er, anatomy — has set off a storm of speculation in the blogosphere, particularly on the site Big Government, headed up by publisher Andrew Breitbart. Big Government was apparently first to break the story, which it has dubbed “Weinergate.”

Breitbart even appeared on CNN, where he said that Twitter user Dan Wolfe had first retweeted the pic, alerting him to the story. (Wolfe is currently tweeting about the incident, denying any involvement in the alleged hack. He also tweeted at Cordova: “I’m sorry for what you’ve been through too. I appreciate you saying that. I do hope things get better for you.”) We’ve reached out to Wolfe for comment as well.

Breitbart also stated that Wolfe has made some serious allegations about Weiner (who is married) having relationships with younger women, and called for an investigation of the alleged hack. In the meantime, Big Government is posting stories that throw the congressman’s story into question.

What do you think of this whole ordeal?

Image courtesy of Flickr, David Boyle

More About: Andrew Breitbart, Anthony Weiner, big-government, Dan-wolfe, facebook, Gennette Cordova, twitter, weinergate

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World Health Organization: Cellphone Radiation May Cause Cancer

Posted: 31 May 2011 01:40 PM PDT

After reviewing hundreds of scientific articles, an international panel of experts has declared cellphones a potential cancer risk.

The 31 scientists put cellphones on the list of substances that The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Cellphones join the likes of DDT and gasoline engine exhaust on the list.

The organization has two higher classifications for risky substances — “carcinogen” and “probably carcinogenic.” and John Walls, the vice president of public affairs for the wireless association CTIA, points out that the IARC has given the same “possibly carcinogenic to humans” classification to pickled vegetables and coffee.

“This IARC classification does not mean cellphones cause cancer,” he said. “Under IARC rules, limited evidence from statistical studies can be found even though bias and other data flaws may be the basis for the results.”

Walls is obviously biased, but he’s right that studies about how cellphones relate to brain cancer have shown mixed results. Last year, a large study found no evidence of increased risk of brain tumors associated with mobile phones. That study, which was partially industry funded and heavily criticized, acknowledged that the results weren’t definitive. Another study, published in February, found that cellphones affect parts of the brain but couldn’t determine whether the effects were beneficial or detrimental.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, told NPR last month that despite years of research, there has never been a conclusive study linking cellphone use and brain cancer — nor one that ruled it out.

The IARC isn’t claiming otherwise with its new classification.

“It is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐term, heavy use of mobile phones,” IARC Director Christopher Wild said in a statement. “Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands‐free devices or texting.”

More About: cellphones, health, Mobile 2.0, study

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Twitter Launches Follow Button for Websites

Posted: 31 May 2011 01:24 PM PDT

Twitter has launched a Follow button, enabling users to subscribe to the Twitter feeds of companies and individuals directly from their websites with a single click.

Previously, website publishers had to redirect users to their respective accounts on before users could opt to follow them. The new feature will likely encourage publishers to increase the number of “follow us” prompts on their sites, because they won’t have to risk redirecting their audiences off-site.

Users will still be able to preview profiles before opting to follow them by clicking the username next to the Follow button.

Those who are interested in adding the button to their own sites can set one up here.

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Android Users Now the Biggest Data Hogs [STATS]

Posted: 31 May 2011 01:18 PM PDT

The Nielsen Company has released the details from its latest mobile survey, which reveals that Android not only leads in U.S. marketshare, it also dominates when it comes to data usage.

The survey, which was carried out in April 2011, indicates that Android now makes up 36% of the smartphone market. That’s a whopping 10% lead over Apple and a 13% lead over RIM. Android has been leading the U.S. mobile marketshare for several months now, its lead widening since Nielsen first reported Android’s dominance in March 2011.

It’s notable that Android has not only sustained, but increased its lead in the smartphone market. However, the more interesting part of Nielsen’s report concerns how users are actually using their smartphones.

Nielsen broke down data usage into various categories, including app downloads, video/mobile TV, streaming music/radio, full track music downloads and online games.

The results are that iPhone users consistently partake in data-centric activities on their devices — with 79% downloading apps and 46% streaming music — but on the whole, Android users consume more mobile data each month.

Nielsen doesn’t distinguish whether users are using Wi-Fi or their cellular providers’ 3G or 4G networks for data usage, so we’re going to assume that this is just for cellular data based on the relatively low megabyte figure.

In this case, Android leads the pack amongst the various smartphone platforms, with users averaging 582 megabytes of data usage a month. iPhone users use 492 megabytes per month, on average.

We don’t have enough information to read into why Android users consume more data, yet fewer partake in data-centric activities. It could be as simple as “more iPhone users connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot,” or it could be a difference in how the two platforms optimize data transfers.

Still, seeing Android come out on top is yet another sign that iOS is no longer the king of the mountain, in marketshare or data usage.

Image courtesy of Flickr,

More About: android, data usage, iphone, mobile usage, Nielsen, stats, study, surveys

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4 Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Posted: 31 May 2011 12:33 PM PDT

Jim Aberman is founder and CEO of Jim Aberman Marketing Company and the father of Rich Aberman, entrepreneur and founder of WePay.

You can read about young entrepreneurs starting new companies or raising millions of dollars in venture capital on a daily basis. For parents who dream about their kids becoming entrepreneurs, these articles reinforce the stereotype of ambitious dropouts and instant dot-com millionaires. While the promise of fame and fortune is alluring, the question remains, "Can a parent raise a child to be an entrepreneur, and why would they even want to?”

I think the answer is no. By definition, the path to becoming a "professional" is more structured than the path to becoming an "entrepreneur." If you want to become a doctor, for example, you get into a good college, do well in school, ace your MCAT and write a great application. If you want to become an investment banker, you work hard in college, attain a great internship and ace your interview. Since there are no structured paths to becoming an entrepreneur, it's hard to set your child on the right path. I believe, however, that there are qualities and characteristics that you can instill in your child over the course of his or her youth that will help prepare him or her for the risky, emotionally draining, economically irrational and statistically doomed decision to become an Internet entrepreneur.

My son, Rich Aberman, was recently listed as one of Businessweek's Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. When he told me three years ago that he was going to drop out of law school to found an online payments business — WePay — I thought he was joking. And, at first, I was very against the decision. However, I believe that I prepared Rich for the challenges he has faced by nurturing and guiding him so he could reach his full potential. I think some children are born with the natural desire to venture off the beaten path and to build things from scratch, but it is up to the parents to nurture and reinforce those tendencies, while simultaneously providing the parental guidance that all children need.

The following are a few guidelines that worked for me.

1. Let Her Discover Her Passions

Parents often have their child's day scheduled down to the minute with classes, sports and other activities. It’s important to give kids the opportunity and responsibility to choose what they want to do and explore their passions. When Rich was growing up, he was on the debate team and the math team. When he told me he was quitting the debate team to focus on math, I was upset. I thought he was doing a great job managing both, and I wanted him to stay well-rounded. In retrospect, I realize that passionate focus was a key element in the success of his entrepreneurial endeavors.

2. Challenge Him

As parents, we have the responsibility to challenge our kids to reach their full potential. When Rich first entered high school, I set up meetings with the principal and the head guidance counselor to introduce him to the valedictorians and leading students in each class to help mentor him. It was probably pretty awkward for him, and I'm sure I came off looking like that crazy over-involved parent. But I wanted to make it clear to him that he had a responsibility to be an over-achiever, since we both knew he was capable of it.

3. Lead by Example

I started and ran my own business and thought it was very important that Rich see what it was like firsthand. I took him on business trips with me and introduced him to other successful entrepreneurs who shared their own experiences with him. But I never shielded him from the challenges and anxiety that come along with starting from scratch and building something new. In fact, it's one of the reasons I originally wanted him to become a "professional" rather than an entrepreneur.

4. Don’t Rule by Fear

I was never punitive. Sure, point out what is wrong but encourage positive achievements. Entrepreneurs need to believe they can do anything, and obviously, they cannot be risk averse — that's what lawyers and accountants are for.

Great entrepeneurs are not born out of a desire to make money or to be famous. They simply can't imagine doing anything else. Building something new is the only thing that can make them happy. As parents, it's up to us to be realistic about the challenges of entrepreneurship, allow our children to follow their passions and adequately prepare them for living up to their full potential.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, monkeybusinessimages

More About: entrepreneurs, jobs, List, Lists, parenting, startups

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The Facebook Effect on Relationships [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:41 AM PDT

Facebook and romantic relationships make for a potent — and potentially volatile — combination.

While the network does offer opportunities for meaningful social interactions and self-esteem boosts, it also opens a Pandora’s box of options for spying, stalking and other insecurity- and jealousy-driven actions between lovers.

And all those public relationship tidbits of data, from new relationship announcements to breakups to digital PDA, can have an impact on how others, including your partner, see you.

Here’s an interesting infographic on the subject from Online Dating University and AllFacebook.

How do you handle Facebook when it comes to interpersonal relationships, especially those of a romantic variety?

Click image to see larger version.

[via AllFacebook]

Image based on a Flickr photo from rpb1001

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Unlocking the Value of the Checkin: What’s Next for Location Apps

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:40 AM PDT

Andy Meek is a senior reporter for The Memphis Daily News, where he covers business news in a city that FedEx, AutoZone and more have ensured is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyMeekTN.

Are we maxed out on checking in?

While Twitter lets us tell the world what we're doing, and Foursquare lets us tell the world where we're doing it, a new generation of apps and checkin services now lets us tell the world what brand we prefer to do it with. We can grab online deals based on our location and send out what amounts to a Tweet-sized roll call of our recreational choices.

What's next in the evolution of geolocation? Foursquare's most attractive qualities — the social game of checking in and the availability of local deals — arguably provide a foundation. But will we need more value if checkins are ever to hit the mainstream?

Closing the Gap

Back in March, Aaron Prather and some of his colleagues were trying to rack up something a lot of other music lovers with smartphones and Foursquare accounts were collecting: some of the new badges added this year for SXSW attendees.

But Foursquare probably didn't intend for Prather and his colleagues to collect the badges the way they did — or, more specifically, where they did.

They did it from Memphis, about 650 miles away from where people were supposed to be earning the badges in Austin. It was thanks to a loophole in how Foursquare users are able to tell their friends where they are.

New Value

Prather is the CEO of a new Memphis-based startup called stiQRd, developers of an app with the same name. The premise of stiQRd is simple: a location network that prevents unverifiable checkins.

StiQRd users scan a QR code that's geo-locked to a specific location. Businesses can use that setup to digitize loyalty reward punch cards, offering them to customers who are confirmed regulars. The customers, in turn, can trash the loyalty cards stacking up in their wallet.

"Verifiable is the key," says Prather. "Nothing in Foursquare prevents me from driving by and checking in somewhere as I keep on driving by."

Prather and his colleagues are also convinced that Foursquare's rewards and offers are spotty enough that users would likely get more value out of a digitized loyalty card. And participating stiQRd businesses will also get, depending on which option they choose from a tiered pricing system, a batch of customer analytics.

It's a unique value proposition that adds something tangible and arguably worthwhile to checkins and mayorships.

New Choices

StiQRd is one of several similarly focused apps that, if you haven't heard of them by now, you probably will very soon.

Whatser is another geolocation service in the vein of Foursquare, with a little bit of Groupon sprinkled into the mix. Whatser offers benefits for users and businesses, with the former sharing favorite locations and discovering new ones and the latter “claiming” a location and then communicating deals to users who are fans of that location.

The business-oriented features of stiQRd and Whatser stand to offer a richer payoff for businesses than their checkin competitors. With Whatser, the focus is not on checking in, per se. This dispels the corner-cutting that can be part of the Foursquare experience.

Hipster is a locally focused service that feels like a cross between Quora and Yelp, and which recently raised $1 million. Other contenders like Gowalla and Minglebird have also stepped into the ring dominated by Foursquare. And even these services are keeping one eye focused on big fish like Facebook and Twitter, which have been edging into the geolocation sphere.

What's Next?

Prather says his app's goal is about something deeper than Foursquare and digital loyalty cards. "It's also a community. We're trying to make almost a mini social network."

The creators of these apps are betting that while Foursquare has us hooked on checking in, users will want to go above and beyond in terms of accountability, rewards, social and other real-world benefits.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ZekaG

More About: business, checkin, foursquare, geolocation, location, Mobile 2.0, mobile apps, social media

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Twitter Acquires Google AdWords Tool AdGrok

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:29 AM PDT

Twitter has acquired web advertising company AdGrok, the Y-Combinator-backed startup announced on its blog Tuesday.

“When Twitter approached us and asked if we'd be interested in working on their monetization platform, we realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we just couldn't pass up,” the blog post says.

AdGrok, which came out of beta just two months ago, makes a tool that simplifies the process of setting up Google AdWords campaigns. It’s “Grokbar” lets customers look at any page on their websites and see data about the Google AdWords campaigns that point to it — including the cost of each campaign and how well it is working.

Starting today, the AdGrok team will start working full-time on Twitter’s “revenue engineering team.” Most likely they’ll be working on the microblogging platform’s self-service advertising program, which is currently in its beta phase and has many similarities to Google AdWords. The program allows small advertisers to buy their own promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends.

AdGrok will shut down its services on June 30, after which its product will not be available.

More About: acquisition, AdGrok, twitter

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Hulu Users Could Be Seeing More Ads Soon

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:22 AM PDT

As Hulu irons out its next contract with major content providers, more ads could find their way onto the streaming service.

According to a report in Advertising Age, News Corp., one of the major investors in Hulu and the owner of the Fox television network, is looking at ways to sell more digital advertising across all platforms. Those platforms would include not just, but also Hulu.

Right now, Hulu sells most of its own advertising inventory. Networks, like Fox, are responsible for a smaller percentage of ads and often package these online deals as an incentive in exchange for a larger traditional TV buy. Traditional media buys continue to decline and thus far, online ads — especially for video — don’t even come close to matching their offline counterparts.

As traditional television ownership declines, it is essential for networks to address online video advertising in a big way. Ad Age cites the success that the CW network has had in online advertising. Despite upping its ad count at for the 2010-2011 TV season — unique viewers were up 55% season to date — users watched more online content, and 94% of ads in full episodes were watched to completion.

One of the early value plays of Hulu, especially when it first debuted, was that it contained fewer advertisements than traditional TV. Networks, content providers and Hulu itself have been reticent to increase advertising on the site, in fear of a user revolt.

A Market Inevitability

Still, we think that ultimately, more advertising will shift to Hulu and other online content providers. Frankly, it should. When Hulu first debuted, it was seen by early adopters as an alternative to torrenting TV shows or waiting for a DVD release. Four years later, Hulu’s value proposition and its role with consumers has changed.

It’s not just about being able to watch TV online — something that was still a novelty and anomaly in 2007 — it’s about getting to watch past shows and series on-demand, any time. When it comes to current programming, Hulu’s biggest competitors are the various online, tablet and smartphone services offered by cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner. These services provide a good alternative to Hulu Plus, but for users who don’t subscribe to cable, Hulu is often the best place to watch online TV.

Moreover, advertisers have many more opportunities to serve better, more targeted advertising to users who are watching content online than they ever could via traditional networks. In that regard, the right sort of advertising strategy could mean that users aren’t watching as many ads as they see on traditional TV, while at the same time, those ads are better.

Are you willing to watch more ads in exchange for getting more television content online? Let us know in the comments.

More About: ad buys, advertising, hulu, News Corp, online ads, television, tv, video ads

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38% of College Students Can’t Go 10 Minutes Without Tech [STATS]

Posted: 31 May 2011 11:09 AM PDT

Many college students are dependent on digital technology in the classroom, according to a study released on Tuesday by etextbook seller CourseSmart and Wakefield Research.

The study surveyed 500 American college students. Seventy-three percent of them said they would not be able to study without some form of technology, and 38% said that they could not even go more than 10 minutes without checking their laptop, smartphone, tablet or ereader.

Many of the students said they used technology for learning tasks traditionally completed with paper. In addition to the unsurprisingly large majority of students who used it to research and write papers (81% and 82% respectively), 70% of the students said they use keyboards rather than paper to take notes and 65% said they use digital devices to create presentations. Technology was also a preferred method for getting in touch with teachers — 91% of the students cited email as a method for seeking extra help from their instructors.

Using an ereader for assigned reading hasn’t caught on quite as well. A 2010 study by OnCampus Research found that 74% of college students surveyed still preferred to use a printed textbook. But the CourseSmart survey suggests that further etextbook adoption might be on the way.

Nearly half of the 98% of students in the survey who owned a digital device said they regularly read etextbooks. Sixty-three percent had read an etextbook on their device at least once, and the majority of the survey group agreed that etextbooks are easier to carry, simpler to search, cheaper and better than traditional textbooks for reading on-the-go.

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Browser Plugin Blocks Chinese Sites To Protest Artist Ai Weiwei’s Detainment

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:51 AM PDT

FAT Lab member Greg Leuch’s browser plugins have been mainly whimsical (abolishing mentions of folks like Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen), but now, the developer has gone political with the release of China Blocker. It serves as a protest against the detainment of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai was arrested April 3 for evading “huge amounts” of taxes, according to Chinese state media. However, many, like Leuch, are not satisfied by this explanation — Ai frequently spoke out against the Chinese government, which some think a likelier reason for his detainment.

FAT Lab has a history of creating projects that endorse open source technology and Internet freedom,” Leuch says. “We are attempting to raise awareness of Ai’s and others’ issues in China, and this is just a small part toward some of our larger goals of protecting Internet freedom and artistic expression.”

This awareness comes in the form of a browser plugin for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that blocks all Chinese websites. When you come across such a website, a middle finger (a homage to one of Ai’s works) will pop up, as well as info detailing how long Ai — and other artists — have been detained.

When Ai is released, users will be alerted, and the block will be lifted.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Daquella manera

More About: ai weiwei, china-blocker, FAT-Labs

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Kevin Rose Helps Launch San Francisco-Themed Vodka

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:34 AM PDT

Digg founder Kevin Rose has segued into a new role: party promoter.

Rose has been handpicked as one of several "inspirational San Franciscans" involved in promoting Absolut SF, the vodka brand's latest limited-edition, city-inspired flavor.

An Absolut rep says Rose was asked to "sit with us and give us ideas" for the extension's launch party on June 16. "He's kind of helping bring to life the social media," the rep says, referring to Rose as a "friend and collaborator." Rose will not be appearing in any ads related to the launch, the rep says.

Rose has kept a relatively low profile since resigning from Digg in March. His latest venture is Milk, a mobile app development company in San Francisco. Absolut, meanwhile, has introduced a few city-inspired extensions of late, with flavors evoking New Orleans, Los Angeles, Boston and Brooklyn. With the SF launch, Absolut has the opportunity to cozy up with social media luminaries, something the San Francisco-based Gap took advantage of with an ad campaign last year featuring Foursquare founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Joi

More About: Absolut, advertising, digg, kevin rose

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Improv Everywhere Mutes Noisy New Yorkers [VIDEO]

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:18 AM PDT

In what can only be described as every New Yorker’s fevered fantasy, those masters of orchestrated disruption, Improv Everywhere, recently executed a stunt in which an entire mass of city-dwellers briefly went mute.

From dogs, to break dancers, to buskers to preachers, Improv Everywhere took to the street to make as much noise as possible. And, when signalled, the assembled volunteers suddenly made like mimes, thoroughly confusing passersby.

The whole deal was a part of stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project from New York’s Guggenheim Museum in which participants take their art out into the city.

More About: guggenheim, humor, improv everywhere, new york, pop culture, viral video

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Flexible Tripod Takes iPhone Photography to the Next Level

Posted: 31 May 2011 10:04 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: Joby GorillaMobile for iPhone 4

Price: MSRP of $39.95 (£34.95) but currently $28.25 on Amazon.

What It’s Good For: Portability, flexibility and durability.

Who It's Good For: Anyone who wants to take their iPhone photography to the next level.

Limitations: It’s not cheap.

Bottom Line: The Joby GorillaMobile is a fantastic, flexible tripod for the iPhone 4, which is enhanced by a fun, free app.

A Look at the Joby GorillaMobile for iPhone 4

Considering that camera shake has to be one of the biggest problems in mobile photography, Joby’s range of small, lightweight, flexible tripods is a great option for anyone who wants to take their snaps to the next level.

iPhone owners can buy the GorillaMobile tripod designed especially for the iPhone 4. As well as the tripod, the kit contains a bumper frame and a bonus camera adapter clip so that you can use the tripod with other compact cameras too, which is a nice touch.

The bumper case snaps open and shut, so it’s easy to fit it on your iPhone, and then the tripod snaps onto the case with a reassuring click. This design means you can position your iPhone in both landscape and portrait orientations. The GorillaMobile’s legs are flexible, bendable and wrappable, so you can use the tripod on all terrains, from branches to fences. On level surfaces, we found the tripod easy to position and stable thanks to its rubber feet. Its ability to attach to a variety of objects is great thanks to the multi-jointed legs. The GorillaMobile could be just as useful as an iPhone stand indoors as in the great outdoors.

Joby offers a free companion app, Frame X Frame (an evolution of its previous Gorillacam app), which is where the fun really starts. In addition to useful utilities such as a spirit level and a self-timer, the app offers an incredibly simple way to capture both time-lapse sequences and stop motion montages. You simply select how many shots you want the camera to take and at what interval, and the app will create a sequence for you.

Small enough to be portable and durable in construction, the GorillaMobile for iPhone 4 is a worthwhile purchase for anyone looking for a tripod solution for their Apple mobile. Meanwhile, we’d recommend taking a look at the free Frame X Frame app — we bet it won’t be long before you’re in the attic looking for your old LEGO figurines.

1. Joby GorillaMobile for iPhone 4 Kit

The kit contains the tripod, bumper case and camera adapter.

2. Joby GorillaMobile Bumper

The bumper boasts an always-on design and is easy to fit.

3. The GorillaMobile as a Stand

The GorillaMobile could also be used as an iPhone stand.

4. GorillaMobile Grip

The legs are flexible and can be used on any surface -- or wrapped around suitably sized objects.

5. Frame X Frame App

Joby's free companion offers some useful features.

6. Frame X Frame App Stop Motion Options

The app lets you create time-lapse and stop-motion videos easily.

7. The Frame X Frame App's Sharing Options

As well as technical features, the app offers a good variety of sharing options.

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, iphone, iphone accessories, iphonography, iphotography, Joby, photography, photography accessories, tripods

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Saudi Woman Behind Social Media Driving Campaign Released From Detention

Posted: 31 May 2011 09:55 AM PDT

Manal al-Sherif

The Saudi Arabian woman who was arrested after posting an online video of herself driving has been freed from a women’s prison after nine days, pledging that she will no longer participate in a campaign to lift a ban on female drivers.

Manal al-Sherif was one of the key figures behind the Women2Drive initiative, which calls for Saudi Arabian women — particularly those with international licenses — to drive their own cars on June 17, instead of relying on chauffeurs or male relatives for transportation. Though there is no written law banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia, religious edicts enforced by the police prevent women from getting behind the wheel.

As part of the campaign, which had its roots on Facebook and Twitter before pages were removed and blocked, al-Sherif had a friend film her as she drove around the city of Khobar. The video was later posted online, and soon after that, al-Sherif was arrested and detained after being accused of “violating public order.”

Now, The Guardian reports that al-Sherif wrote a pledge saying that she’ll no longer drive, nor take part in the Women2Drive campaign. Her lawyer says al-Sherif’s pledge was her own decision — not one imposed by authorities.

The Associated Press says that Saudi activist Waleed Aboul Khair attributes al-Sherif’s release to “pressure from inside and outside” Saudi Arabia. Al-Sherif, the 32-year-old divorced mother of a 5-year-old boy, was originally expected to remain in custody until at least early June before being released Monday. Though al-Sherif is no longer speaking publicly about the matter, Aboul Khair says he still intends to petition Saudi authorities, asking them to lift the driving ban.

The fate of the June 17 rally appears to be uncertain at this point. But a copy of al-Sherif’s original Facebook page — Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself — still exists. Wall posts from supporters show that they’re happy about al-Sherif’s release, and many are still calling for action on June 17.

Homepage image courtesy of Flickr, smemon87

More About: facebook, manal al-sherif, saudi driving ban, social media, twitter

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