Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Earthquake in Indonesia, Spotify Play Button”

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Earthquake in Indonesia, Spotify Play Button”


Today’s Top Stories: Earthquake in Indonesia, Spotify Play Button

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 05:01 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Indonesia Hit by 8.7 Magnitude Earthquake

An earthquake of magnitude 8.7 has been detected off the west coast of northern Sumatra, prompting a tsunami watch warning for Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, among other countries. The epicenter of the quake was some 267 miles from Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, at a depth of 20.5 miles.

Spotify Play Button Makes it Easy to Embed Playlists and Songs

Spotify has launched the Play Button, an embeddable widget that makes it easy to legally share music online. Users can share a song, playlist or album anywhere, and non-users can quickly sign up for a Spotify account directly from the button. Check out Mashable’s own Spotify playlist here.

Nokia Confirms Lumia 900 Software Bug

Nokia has confirmed a software bug in its Lumia 900 smartphone, which causes internet connection problems for some users. The company has created a fix, and is now offering a $100 credit to all current customers, as well as all customers who purchase the device before midnight PT April 21.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: Earthquake, features, first to know series, Indonesia, Lumia, mashable, Nokia, Play button, spotify


Listen to Mashable Playlists With the Spotify Play Button

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 03:50 AM PDT


The way we listen to music has changed dramatically in the digital era. Most recently, streaming services have made it easy for listeners to legally get access to music, and that just became much easier. Now, when we want to be able to share music with you, you can listen without ever clicking away from Mashable thanks to Spotify.

We are thrilled to be one of the launch partners for the Spotify Play Button. We love music, and we know that our readers love it too. We’re happy to be able to take this opportunity and find a new way to bring music to our community.

We’ve been slowly experimenting with Spotify for a short while, where you can find us as “mashablehq” [Spotify link]. We first jumped into Spotify to supplement our 2012 Grammy coverage, when we made a playlist of every nominated song.

Now we’ll be able to embed playlists directly into the post, and you’ll be able to listen on site. We look forward to to coming up with new ways that we can incorporate music into our coverage of digital culture, and we hope you’ll let us know what you’d like to see.

Plus, we love sharing the music that’s making us move, and as you might guess the Mashable staff has very diverse musical taste. We’ll be able to bring you our favorite tunes — what we’re listening to in the office, on our commutes, and at our events — quickly and easily. And with the Spotify Play Button’s Tumblr integration, we’ll be able to bring you music much more frequently at our behind-the-scenes blog, Mashable HQ. We’d like to get a sense of what you’re listening to as well, so be on the look out for ways to tell us your favorite music.

Below, check out a playlist of our favorite tracks right now, and let us know how you like our picks in the comments.

More About: mashable, spotify, tumblr

For more Entertainment coverage:


Spotify Play Button Brings Millions of Tunes To Your Website

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 02:59 AM PDT


Spotify is making it super simple for music lovers and web editors to simply embed playlists, songs or albums to a website or blog for free.

It’s called the Spotify Play Button and it was designed to give users a way to legally share music online. Spotify has been hard at work on perfecting the button — or widget, as it were — making it easy to use and embed across the web.

Users can listen to music from the buttons within websites, without being redirected to a different URL away from content. The Spotify Play Button does require a free Spotify account, but non-Spotify users can sign-up quickly and easily from the button itself — again, without having to leave the website they are on.


Making Sharing Simpler


To us, the best part of the Spotify Play Button is that it makes sharing legal music simple and frictionless.

So often I’ll want to share a song, playlist or album with a broader audience but finding a way to host that track that doesn’t involve Dropbox links becomes complex. Plus, there’s the whole question of legalities, which often makes sharing music with more than just a few friends via email problematic.

The Spotify Play Button was designed to change all of that. By combining Spotify’s huge library with a mobile and desktop friendly embeddable widget, sharing music is now much easier.

While it’s true that other music subscription services have offered support for embeddable widgets and players in the past, Spotify’s userbase of more than 10 million users — and its footprint of 13 different countries — makes it worth looking at.

Moreover, the Spotify Play Button works just as well for free users as it does for Spotify Premium subscribers.


How it Works


When users click the play button, Spotify will open on your computer (or instantly start playing if Spotify is already running) and then start playing the song. You can pause or skip tracks directly within the player interface or control music through the Spotify desktop app.

It’s similar to the way Facebook integration currently works with Spotify — wherein users can start playing a track directly from Facebook without being directed to a different site.

This is also similar to the way that Rdio’s embedded playlists work (although Rdio has a pure web interface as well as a desktop player).

The widget is JavaScript based and works on desktops and mobile devices. Check out “Mercy” from Kanye West’s forthcoming mixed tape to see what a single track embed looks like:


Partners and Platforms


While the button will be available to all users, the Spotify Play Button is launching alongside a number of content and platform partners. Mashable is a launch partner, along with others such as The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, People, NME, Spin and Pitchfork.

Additionally, Tumblr is integrating the Spotify Play Button directly into the platform.

Users can share songs, albums or tracks with directly on Tumblr from the “Audio” post interface. In addition to pasting a Spotify URI directly into Tumblr, users can also search for tracks, albums or playlists from Tumblr’s backend. Users can then select the track, album or playlist they want and embed it directly onto their blog.

Tumblr has updated its theming engine to recognize Spotify as a new content type and tracks also play within the Tumblr dashboard. It’s a super simple way to share music in a free, legal way.


Spotify As a Platform


When Spotify Apps launched in November, the company made it clear that it wanted to create a platform for music — much as Facebook has created a platform for social.

In many ways, the Spotify Play Button is akin to Facebook’s “Like” button. It’s a way of integrating service across the greater web, while also offering users additional value.

This all brings Spotify one step closer to becoming the online hub for music.

We’re really excited about the Spotify Play Button and want to hear your thoughts on the new tool in the comments. While you’re here, give the latest Counting Crows album a listen — it’s excellent.

More About: music subscription services, spotify, spotify play button, trending


Tsunami Warning Issued After Major Earthquake Hits Indonesia: Follow on Social Media

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 02:22 AM PDT

earthquake indonesia

An earthquake of magnitude 8.7 has been detected off the west coast of northern Sumatra, the U.S. Geological Survey says.

The epicenter of the quake was some 430 kilometers (267 miles) from Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, at a depth of 33 kilometers (20.5 miles).

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, a tsunami watch was issued for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, Uae, Yemen, Comores, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, South Africa and Singapore.

In 2004, Indonesia and many neighboring countries, including Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, have been devastated by a tsunami following a 9.1 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

The news has spread fast on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook — check out below for some of the latest comments. If you’ve been affected by the earthquake, let us know in the comments.


Earthquake in Indonesia




An earthquake of magnitude 8.7 has been detected off the west coast of northern Sumatra.

Click here to view this gallery.

We’ll update the story as we learn more.

More About: Earthquake, Indonesia, trending


Why Mobile Ads in Emerging Markets are the Future [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 01:44 AM PDT

There are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers around the world, meaning 77% of the world’s population uses a phone. The majority of those users — 3.8 billion or 73% of the group — live in emerging economies.

Yet mobile advertising dollars spent around the world do not begin to compete with traditional platforms or Internet ads.

As the Internet spreads throughout the developing world, it’s arriving on phones before traditional computers. Some 70% of Internet users in Egypt, 59% in India, 57% in South Africa, 50% in Ghana and 44% in Indonesia get online via mobile phones alone.

This Jana infographic poses a question for advertisers — how will relevant content be delivered via mobile device?

One idea: in Brazil, 74% of mobile users said they would like to receive advertisements in their devices in exchange for voice minutes.

Do you have an answer to Jana’s question? Take a look at the infographic below and share your suggestions for the future of global advertising in the comments.


Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, hadynyah

More About: developing world, infographics, Mobile, mobile phones


5 Ways to Market Your Brand With Location-Based Networks

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 08:51 PM PDT



Brian Honigman
is the digital marketing manager at Marc Ecko Enterprises. He is a part of Ecko’s marketing and ecommerce team, ensuring a polished brand experience across all channels. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Honigman.

Between the rise in location-based social networks, like Foursquare, and the mobile market's meteoric growth, a new marketing avenue has opened up. Location-based marketing is a nascent frontier, and marketers are clamoring to take advantage of it.

Already, about 30% of smartphone owners access social networks via their mobile browser, and that figure will continue to grow, according to an infographic by Microsoft Tag. So, if your marketing plans include location-based networks, below are five ways to get started.


1. Push Notification Integration


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One of the big reasons people don’t use location-based apps like Foursquare or SCVNGR is simply because they forget. Integrating push notifications into a location-based app is a great and simple fix.

Marketers often use these notifications to highlight activity, specials, announcements, and to further promote the app as well as the business. Allowing users to alter these notifications is an important way to give your audience some power. That ensures your messaging makes it to their phone without being a burden.


2. Loyalty Programs


Giving rewards to loyal customers for continuing to check in via a location-based networks is a great option. Arby's marketing team did this on Foursquare by offering special reserved seating to their Foursquare mayors at 30 restaurants and 50% off on purchases. Ideas like these drive competition and increase use, which leads to greater exposure for the business being marketed on these networks.


3. Geofencing


Geofencing has been around for some time, but it's increasingly becoming incorporated in more location-based networks. For those who aren't familiar, geofencing is a virtual boundary set around a location, like a store. One way marketers are using geofencing on location-based networks is by sending messages to users who've opted in to a particular service.

Lets use Starbucks as an example. If a person crosses a Starbucks geofence, they will receive a message from their location-based app highlighting an offer, coupon, or just a reminder to stop by. This is similar to the idea of a push notification, except it's only triggered by a person who comes into a geofence around a specific location. This messaging is more relevant to a user and more effective for a company.


4. Mixed Media



Apps like GetGlue and Foursquare both give you the ability to check in and incorporate other media. For instance, GetGlue allows a user to check in and share a favorite book, song or TV show. Optimize your content and forge partnerships with companies like GetGlue as a way to extend your reach among users that are more likely to view your content if recommended by their friends.


5. Better Content


As the king of the location-based space, Foursquare helps set the tone for innovation in this industry. Recently at South by Southwest, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley spoke about the future of location-based apps and how the company's focus is shifting from checking in to other features that their audience uses more and that will help the company become more mainstream.

For instance, Foursquare's “explore” feature is fairly new and allows a user to discover food, nightlife, shops, and more based on broad categories. It aggregates suggestions based on your checkin history as well as information available on the network about a location. This is why any content you add to Foursquare and similar sites should be optimized.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hocus-focus

More About: contributor, features, location, Marketing, social networks


Instagram: From Zero to $1 Billion in 17 Months [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 08:22 PM PDT


When Instagram launched its first app in October 2010, it did not strike most people as the kind of startup that would be acquired for $1 billion.

“We were all like, ‘what’s the big deal? It’s just photos and filters,” Brian Blau, a Research Director with the Consumer Technology and Markets Group at Gartner, tells Mashable. But in retrospect, he adds, “There’s something to be said around that simplicity.”

The app had almost 200,000 users within the first week. By February, it had 1.75 million users, and three months later that number had jumped to 4 million.

By the time Facebook acquired Instagram on Monday, the startup’s iPhone app had been downloaded 30 million times. In the same week, its six-day-old Android app hit the 5 million mark.

Meanwhile, Instagram’s valuation has shot up with similarly impressive speed. Facebook acquired Instagram just as the startup was closing a round of funding at a $500 million valuation. Instagram’s $1 billion price tag means it literally doubled its valuation within a week.

Designers at Visually have compiled an infographic that documents the startup’s journey from photo app to $1 billion startup using, appropriately, Instagram photos.

More About: Facebook, infographic, instagram

For more Business coverage:


Get Paid for Sharing Ads on Your Social Networks

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 08:01 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: Wingsplay

Quick Pitch: Earn money to share ads with your social network

Genius Idea: Wingsplay gives average people incentive to share ads with their social networks to drive product or service engagement and increase buzz.


"Twitter"Advertisers are sneaking into your Twitter and Facebook feeds — with help from your social media connections.

Wingsplay, a startup that launched last month, pays its users to share video ads on their social networks. The distribution model is key; it relies heavily on connected social networks. The founder, Olivier Lasry, says the best way for online advertisements to resonate with people is if a link has been recommended by a friend or social media connection.

Even though you may not Like or follow advertisers, ads could trickle into your feeds via a friend who is trying to make a quick buck or just likes to watch funny ads. Users can earn money by sharing up to four video ads per week. Users are paid by cost per view. The service is not meant to be used to spam social media, but more to drive conversations.

“The Web made it almost impossible to reach people with boring ads,” Lasry said. “People don't care about advertisers who interrupt them. But the opportunity is huge for remarkable video ads, which people actually want to watch and share."

For example, Major League Soccer is promoting the April 14 Philadelphia v. Columbus soccer match on Wingsplay. After sharing the video, Wingsplay users are paid 21 cents each time someone from their social network clicks on the user’s link and watches the MLS video featuring David Beckham.

But the financial incentive isn’t enough for a person to share an ad. Lasry says users actually like the ads they choose to share.

“26% of our influencers shared the first videos we distributed on Wingsplay, which shows that influencers only share videos they like, and that the monetary incentive is only part of the experience,” Lasry said.

Oxygen and NBC were the first big names to promote ads through Wingsplay in an effort to target a larger social media audience. The week before the new shows aired on NBC and Oxygen, both networks promote their new series through Wingsplay. Users shared a video trailer ad for the new ABC show “Awake,” which premiered March 1 and Oxygen’s March 26 premiere of “Brooklyn 11223.”

Lasry said the site, which is still in beta, has started with trailers as a test. Moving forward, he wants the ads to be funny, gripping, cause-related or clever.

“[Trailers] might not be the best fit for our distribution model, but there are many of them and they give us a sense of the minimum performance that can be expected from our network,” he said. “Given the results of our first campaigns, we expect funny ads to deliver an Earned:Paid ratio around 6, which is unheard of in the industry.”

Lasry, who is originally from France, was inspired to start Wingsplay after seeing his friends share ads on their social networks. He figure if people are already sharing ads on Facebook, why not introduce advertisements through the consumer first? From there, real people can start coversations about the ads they’re interested in.

Unlike celebrity brand ambassadors, the average social media user talks with friends on a personal level about the content he or she is sharing. People or more likely to enjoy the same things their friends like, Lasry said. So far, Wingsplay users are posting to Facebook most — 84% of all Wingsplay shares have been distributed on Facebook.

What do you think of advertising encroaching on your social networks? Does advertising make social media better or worse? Will you sign up for Wingsplay? Tell us in the comments.

Photos courtesy of Wingsplay, iStock, kizilkayaphotos


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: Advertising, bizspark, online advertising, social sharing, spark of genius series


Blog Comments Could Help Catch a Killer

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 07:31 PM PDT


A woman named Betty Wheeler was killed in a hit-and-run incident while she was out walking in Waynesboro, Virginia last week.

On Tuesday, the car-culture blog Jalopnik posted the picture above, which shows the only piece of evidence found at the scene. The car part, an air dam, is allegedly from the vehicle that struck and killed Wheeler.

Jalopnik asked for their community to try to identify the model and make of the car that it came from, then post their findings in the comments section.

Before long, the blog had identified the make, model and year of the car: a 2003 Ford F150 with XL Trim.

Unfortunately for the investigation, the F150 is one of the most common cars in the United States.

In an update to the story, the blog posted:

UPDATE: We are in contact with the Waynesboro Police Department and they are aware of the post. Specifically, we’ve let them know about the similarity to an F-150 grille. Keep up the good work everyone!

Here are some of the comments that may help catch the suspect:



More About: blog, commenters, crime

For more Social Media coverage:


Lost Your Phone? The Government Wants to Find it For You

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 06:57 PM PDT

iOS-iPhone-600

If you’re one of the many cellphone owners who’ve ever left their mobile device behind at a crowded restaurant, packed bar or city-crossing taxi, you know the heart-sinking shock felt when you reach for your phone only to find it missing — all because some quick-fingered swindler grabbed it while you were distracted.

You’re also not alone. In Washington, D.C., New York and other major cities, 40% of robberies involve cellphones. In the capital region, the number of cellphone robberies is up 57%.

How can we reduce the number of mobile devices thefts out there? The Federal Communications Commission thinks it has the answer. The FCC announced its PROJECTS Initiative on Tuesday, a three-point plan to fight cell phone theft.

First, the FCC will be setting up a massive universal database which will allow carriers to automatically disable any mobile devices — including both cellphones and wireless-enabled tablets — reported stolen. The Commission says that such a database will dramatically reduce stolen devices’ value to would-be buyers.

The FCC has called upon all countries of the world to join the database program, which would help prevent stolen phones from being smuggled overseas and used elsewhere in the world.

Second, the Commission wants cell phone manufacturers to program devices to automatically prompt users to create passwords and take other steps to protect their data. That, argues the Commission, would make users somewhat more security-conscious.

Finally, a widespread public education plan will teach owners of mobile devices about the availability of mobile apps that allow users to remotely lock and delete the contents of stolen phones and tablets. The FCC has already begun the campaign with a list of helpful tips posted online.

SEE ALSO: Lose Your Phone? It's Probably in a Coffee Shop in Philadelphia [STUDY]

Mobile phone designers Apple, Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM are all on-board for the FCC’s plan. On the provider side, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Nex-Tech Wireless have agreed to help with the anti-theft initiative. All of these companies are expected to report to the FCC four times each year on their PROJECTS progress.

The FCC will also be holding regular meetings every quarter with police chiefs from across the country to determine the best ways to reduce mobile device theft.

Have you had your phone stolen? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mbbirdy

More About: cellphones, fcc, Mobile, US

For more Mobile coverage:


WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Becomes a Movie Character

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 06:19 PM PDT


Emmy Award winner Anthony LaPaglia will play a detective tracking a young Julian Assange in an upcoming film that focuses on the WikiLeaks founder’s early forays into Internet hacking.

Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths will play Assange’s activist mother. Assange himself will be played by film newcomer Alex Williams.

The made-for-TV movie is called Underground. It’s being produced by the Australian TV station Network Ten and set for global distribution through NBCUniversal.

Underground follows the story of an Assange-led group of surreptitious young hackers who broke into a number of major military and business organizations in the late 1980s and early 1980s. Assange was a teenager when the Melbourne-based group began operations.

“Everyone has an opinion about Julian Assange,” Rick Maier, Underground‘s executive producer, said in a news release. “This film will deliver a compelling insight into who Julian is, and how he became one of the most talked-about figures of our time. We are delighted Rachel and Anthony are on board for this exciting television event for Ten.”

Assange rose to international prominence during the past few years as Wikileaks released more sensitive government documents and communications leaked to the organization.

Founded in 2006, Wikileaks aims to force a more open government globally by helping whistleblowers share classified information with the public. In 2010, the site began publishing a series of U.S. diplomatic cables with a handful of print partners.

Assange is currently facing sexual assault charges in Sweden, and is out on bail in England as he fights extradition. He has said the charges are false and part of a conspiracy against him.

Underground begins a four-week shoot in the Melbourne area next week and is slated for broadcast during the second half of the year.

Are you excited to see Assange’s story made into a movie? Let us know in the comments.

Images courtesy of Flickr, acidpolly

More About: Entertainment, Film, julian assange, TV, wikileaks

For more Entertainment coverage:


Time Out New York Makes a Major Bet on ECommerce

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 06:01 PM PDT


Online retailers have become a growing threat to lifestyle magazines over the past few years, hiring away influential editors and building their own magazine-like interactive spreads.

Now magazines are fighting back — by establishing online shops of their own.

Time Out New York, a weekly print and digital magazine covering film, theater, fashion, food and other local happenings in the New York City area, has announced that it won’t just be advertising tickets to shows and other events; it will also begin selling them. The publication introduced a redesigned website and city guide apps for iPad and iPhone devices Tuesday, through which readers will be able to purchase tickets.

This isn’t a simple affiliate scheme; Time Out New York will be managing its own inventory, a spokesperson tells Mashable.

The publication has pursued affiliate schemes as well. Visitors will be able to book restaurant reservations on the site through a relationship with OpenTable. The magazine will also begin selling discounts on events and services through partnerships with daily deal providers.

The drive to ecommerce is being driven by investors, the publication indicated in a statement. Oakley Capital Investments, a private equity fund, took a majority stake in the Time Out Group last year. The company has since made more than 60 digital hires, and partnered with digital and mobile startups including Foursquare.

We expect the move into online retail will become a trend among lifestyle magazines seeking to compensate for declining print ad revenues. Many magazines have already incorporated scannable 2D barcodes into their print editions in an attempt to drive sales at advertisers’ mobile websites.

Others have partnered with retailers in affiliate and promotional schemes. Vogue, for instance, sold merchandise directly from its website through a partnership with fashion retail startup Moda Operandi during New York Fashion Week last September.

Image courtesy of Flickr, khawkins04

More About: magazines, Media, Time Out New York

For more Business coverage:


CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader To Your iPad

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 05:36 PM PDT


In January CloudOn launched its iPad app allowing you to access and work with Microsoft Office documents directly on your iPad, saving those documents to DropBox. Tuesday, the company took its app a step further, adding support for Adobe Reader as well as the ability to also store and access files on Box.

CloudOn gives you access to all of Microsoft Office’s features, including the ability to track changes in Word documents, pivot tables in Excel, or view PowerPoint presentations in full presentation mode. You can also use the app to display, edit or create charts, insert formulas, change formatting, spell check, or insert comments into any Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document. With the update, documents you work with in CloudOn can also now be emailed to others as attachments without ever leaving the app.

Documents you work on are saved and synced from DropBox or now, Box. If you currently have a Box or Dropbox account you can log in directly from the all, and open, edit, share, or auto save documents. CloudOn doesn’t store any of your content on its servers, making the service in many ways more secure than some competing services.

Tuesday’s update adds support for Adobe Reader, something that wasn’t available in the initial release of the app. The app can read everything from simple forms to complex 3-D documents, and users have access to a universal viewer for any file, ranging from raw Photoshop images to everyday image files, including: PNG, JPEG and GIF.

"We’re seeing a departure from the Windows world that corporate America and users have lived in for the past 20 years," Milind Gadekar, CEO and founder of CloudOn told Mashable. He says that one of the main challenges in creating the app was taking programs that were developed for a mouse-based interface and making them really useful in a gesture-based environment.

"If I’m on an iPad I shouldn’t have to connect to a Windows machine. I should be able to get an iPad experience," says Gadekar. CloudOn offers gesture-based controls that make Microsoft Office and Adobe reader feel like they’re native applications on your iPad.

After its initial launch in January the app quickly rose to the number 1 free iPad app in the App Store, and has garnered close to a million downloads over the past three months. "Even after a million users we’re still responding diligently to emails and feedback," says Gadekar. "The initial positive response validates the progress we've made so far. And this launch makes it even easier for our users to get to their information, use familiar applications and share their work."

CloudOn currently only supports the iPad, however, the company has plans to support other tablets and phones in the future. The company has also had several companies reach out to it to be included in future updates of the app, something the company intends on doing. Today the app is free, however, as support for more software gets added over time, it will likely evolve into a free version and then a premium paid version with more functionality.

Have any of you tried out CloudOn? What do you think about the app? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

More About: adobe reader, Box, CloudOn, DtopBox, ipad, microsoft, microsoft office


Can This Online Anti-Poverty Campaign Grab the G8′s Attention?

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 05:01 PM PDT

g8 600

Advocacy non-profit ONE is hoping to tackle extreme poverty by planting digital and physical seeds that represent a commitment to fight global poverty.

ONE launched a new campaign called Thrive on Tuesday, beginning with an online petition urging G8 members to take action against the worldwide cycle of poverty.

“We’re good at driving awareness at key moments but we wanted to do something more ambitious, that will run until 2015, to do something bigger to irradicate poverty,” Roxane Philson, ONE's global creative director, told Mashable.

“This is a multi-pronged approach to the problem; it’s a wholistic campaign. Our members want more from us than a one click action, so this is a marriage of online and offline action that will really have impact and resonance.”

All ONE members are receiving a call to action from Colin Farrell, urging them to sign the G8 petition. Following the signature, there are several learning opportunities on the campaign’s website. Since its launch, the Thrive petition has already received more than 55,000 signatures.

The idea behind the campaign: planting seeds in the shape of the heads of the G8 leaders, reflecting the need for agricultural reform.

The campaign coincides with a just-released report showing that a commitment from world leaders could lift 50 million people out of poverty and save 15 million children from starvation.

Thrive’s offline components included public seed sowing in Paris, Berlin, London and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. ONE is also encouraging its members to plant seeds in their window boxes or gardens as a reminder of the commitment they are making toward irradicating global poverty.

ONE has also created postcards made of carrot-seed paper to be sent to the White House and continue building on the seed-sowing metaphor.

Do you think this campaign could attract the attention of the G8? Let us know in the comments.

More About: G8, Hunger, non-profit, online petitions, Social Good

For more Social Good coverage:


On Twitter, Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition Has a 12% Approval Rating

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 04:35 PM PDT


There may have been champagne and celebration at Instagram and Facebook early Monday when their $1 billion acquisition deal was announced. But there was little joy in Twitterville.

Twitter sentiment analysis firm Crimson Hexagon looked at 200,000 tweets that mentioned the deal — and found that just 12% of them registered any sort of approval. Some 18% of users were simply in shock. And a whopping 35% were furious, mostly at Facebook.

We saw some clues Monday that Instagram users were heading for the exits after the announcement, using services that help you download your Instagram photos before deleting your account. According to this analysis, roughly 40,000 Twitter users declared that they had deleted their account or removed the app from their phone.

Why all the negativity, man? Well, Twitter is a good place for capturing instant emotional reactions, and a beloved app like Instagram certainly inspires a lot of those. (Mashable entertainment editor Christina Warren yesterday described her “InstaEmo” moment; she was by no means alone.)

But there’s something else going on here. If anyone is likely to lose big from Facebook’s purchase of Instagram, it is Twitter users.

As regular Instagrammers know, one of the first choices you have to make in sharing your photo — after you’ve applied tilt shift and filters — is which social network you’re going to share it with.

The two big sharing choices? Twitter and Facebook. No prizes for guessing which of those options may disappear, should Facebook get its way.

Of course, Facebook has gone out of its way to assure users that sort of thing won’t happen. “We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his blog post announcing the acquisition.

And there’s always the chance that Facebook’s resources could make Instagram better than before.

Does the Instagram purchase herald a new cold war between Twitter and Facebook? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: crimson hexagon, Facebook, instagram, Twitter


16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 04:15 PM PDT

Teachers are known for their organizational skills, so chances are they’ll love Pinterest‘s intuitive and logical design.

The social network’s user experience has helped it earn a top spot among today’s most popular social networks. Therefore, we predict that teachers will give it a gold star, too.

Our friends at OnlineUniversities.com have put together the following infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.

SEE ALSO: 9 Ways to Engage Your Employees on Pinterest

Remember, however, that Pinterest’s terms of service dictate that users under the age of 13 are prohibited. So, if you’re still teaching your students the ABCs, you probably shouldn’t be encouraging them to use the social network.


Image courtesy of Flickr, cybrarian77

More About: education, infographics, pinterest, Social Media

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YouTube Lets Partners Make Money from Paid Livestream

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 03:55 PM PDT


Next time you have guests at your home for a live TV event, you might be streaming it from YouTube. Just don’t expect it to be free.

YouTube announced it would add the option for partners to monetize on YouTube Live, its year-old streaming service, with advertisements or other paid options.

In a blog post, YouTube Partner Product Manager Varun Talwar joked they considered renting a bouncy castle or hiring a magician to celebrate YouTube Live’s first birthday.

“Neither of these seemed just right to celebrate the millions of you who've seen live videos,” Talwar wrote, “so we went with our favorite gifts: new features from our tireless engineers.”

YouTube Live lets viewers watch live events, while companies and brands grow their following — and now, make a profit. This means live content will be accessible through a paid livestream option.

“A live event can be claimed in the new video manager like any other video and monetized with in-stream ads or paid options where you can set price by country,” Talwar writes.

You can also preview live events before they actually go live, and view real-time analytics that show at-the-moment viewers according to geography and format.

New Wirecast software lets YouTube partners produce and stream professional-quality live events directly from a desktop. Add files, images and other overlays to enhance the program. For those who are livestreaming enabled, simply download Wirecase for YouTube.

What do you think about this new feature? How much would you pay to watch a big, live television event on YouTube? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Advertising, live, streaming, YouTube


How Instagram’s $1 Billion Sale Helps Other Photo-Sharing Startups

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 03:17 PM PDT

Instagram

When Facebook decided to acquire Instagram for a whopping $1 billion on Monday, the two companies weren’t the only ones with reason to pop open a bottle of champagne.

The acquisition has lent legitimacy to a whole genre of startups — photo-sharing apps — previously accused of being a fad.

“Every time we went and talked to investors, they always complained about how low the exits have been for photo startups,” explains Andres Blank, co-founder of Pixable, that aggregates important photos from across a user’s social networks.

Before Instagram, the most recent photo startup to make a notable exit was Photobucket, which was acquired by MySpace’s parent company for $250 million in 2007.

Now Blank and other photo startup founders can point to Instagram’s $1 billion exit as proof that there’s money in photo apps.

As Blank puts it: “Video startups have YouTube. Now photo startups have Instagram.”

Brian Blau, a Research Director for the Consumer Technology and Markets Group at Gartner, agreed that the acquisition puts most photo startups in a better position than they were last week.

“It’s going to open up the eyes of these bigger companies that want to do something similar to Facebook,” he says. “It just makes it seem a little more legitimate than it did before … I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more similar acquisitions in the future.”

"Video startups have Youtube, now photo startups have Instagram.”

Large technology companies have demonstrated similar shopping preferences in the past. Google, Facebook and Skype, for instance, all bought group messaging apps last year. Could photo-sharing apps be this year’s flavor?

“It encouraged us when we saw it,” says Twitpic founder Noah Everett. “It validates what we've been wanting to do lately.”

Twitpic, a website and API that makes it easy to post photos to Twitter, will unveil a standalone app in the next few weeks. While Everett says there are currently no plans for filters, the new app, like Instagram, will combine social features and photos.

Where Instagram encouraged sharing across a range of networks, Twitpic’s new app will integrate closely with Twitter. Comments and photo tag notifications, for instance, will be delivered both through the app and as @ reply Twitter messages.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more similar acquisitions in the future.”

Everett doesn’t say Twitpic is aiming for a Twitter acquisition (“I think Facebook has more resources than Twitter,” he notes), but it’s developing what sounds like a good candidate nonetheless.

Lucas Buick, the co-founder of another photo filter app called Hipstamatic, is less optimistic than Blank, Everett and Blau about the influence Facebook’s purchase has on the startup photo space in general.

“It’s always been legitimate, which is why Facebook made this move,” he says.

Maybe so, but it’s hard to imagine the string of articles from 2011 that have titles such as “Are photo-sharing Apps Like Instagram and Path Just a Fad?” running this year.

It’s always been legitimate, which is why Facebook made this move.

Instagram’s acquisition is far from a universal stamp of approval for all photo startups — the app never did, for instance, figure out how to make money from its service– but Facebook’s purchase of the service does suggest that something as simple as social photos with filters can be valuable (whether or not that value is the result of a bubble is up for debate).

“Before there were two examples to be made,” Blank says. “The first was that photo startups don't have big exits. The second is ‘where is the business model?’ At least Instagram can be the example for the first.”

More About: Facebook, hipstamatic, instagram, Pixable, trending, twitpic

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10 Hip MacBook Decals [PICS]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 02:42 PM PDT


1. Typewriter




We like the retro reference with this old school decal.

Cost: $7.99

Click here to view this gallery.

You know what your MacBook needs? A fun decal on its lid to make it stand out from the crowd. As well as adding some personalization, you can show a bit of wit with an amusing design.

We have found 10 super stickers that would look fabulous atop your Apple laptop. From retro tech references to mustaches, we think our roundup has something for everyone.

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Apple iPad Decals [PICS]

Take a look through the gallery above for our selection. Let us know in the comments below which ones you like — and why.

More About: accessories, apple, features, macbook

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Rufus Wainwright Wants You to Instagram His Video

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 02:02 PM PDT

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright wants fans to use Instagram to create a lyric mosaic for his new single, Out of the Game.

Users and fans are tasked with taking Instagram photos that represent a word in the lyrics of the song, “Out of the Game.” Users add the hashtag #OutOfTheGame to the caption and a second hashtag with the word the image represents. Photos will automatically become part of the mosaic, which is visible at instagram.rufaswainwright.com.

Rufus will select the best photos to be part of a special lyric music video for “Out of the Game.” Additionally, a limited-edition print book of the best photos is also available for pre-order now.

Wainwright is the latest artist to embrace the Instagram community. In February, Jason Mraz held an Instagram contest around his song “I Won’t Give Up.” The winning entries were printed on canvas and showcased at a private exhibit in New York City.


The creative agency The Uprising Creative was behind both campaigns, recognizing that the photo service is a powerful way for artists to engage with their fans.

Jeff Nicholas, partner at The Uprising Creative, spoke to us about why Instagram was chosen for this project.

“The repetitious nature of the lyrics in the song made it ripe for this kind of mosaic,” Nicholas told us. Moreover, Instagram is a platform and service that appeals to Wainwright’s strong fanbase. “Instagram doesn’t make sense for all artists but with Rufus, it’s the perfect fit.”

The viral nature of Instagram also makes it attractive for these kinds of promotions. “Users see the hashtag and want to learn more about the contest or album,” Nicholas explains.

For Wainwright, the timing of this contest couldn’t be more perfect. Instagram was already a popular social destination — especially with its Android launch last week. With Monday’s news that Facebook has acquired the company, the service and app are garnering even more attention.

Out of the Game will be available in the US on May 1, 2012. Users can pre-order the album on Amazon.com and iTunes now.

More About: instagram, out of the game, rufus wainwright, trending

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Subway Hero Is All That and a Bag of Chips [VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 01:44 PM PDT

Violence is no laughing matter, especially because it seems to happen often in New York City subways. YouTube user EITANNOYZE uploaded this video, seemingly shot on a smartphone, which shows a man and a woman kicking and hitting each other on the 6 train.

The odd part, however, is what seems to break them apart: Another man calmly walks amidst the blows and stands between the two combatants while munching from a bag of chips. Just another day fighting crime with salty, potatoey goodness.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, FuatKose

More About: Food, Video, viral, YouTube

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China: The World’s Largest Online Population [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 01:22 PM PDT

China has come online extremely quickly in recent years. Today, one in five Internet users are Chinese — that’s half a billion people. And while growth has evened out since 2007, it shows no sign of stopping.

Chinese Internet users spend about the same amount of time online as their U.S. counterparts, but their habits differ. Instant messaging apps are still big, and edge out even search engines in terms of active users. Chinese users also flock to web “portals,” as U.S. users did in the earlier days of the World Wide Web. Online shopping has also taken hold, and some analysts predict China may become the largest ecommerce market by 2015.

Our friends at Statista have compiled a swath of compelling data on the largest new online population. Check out the graphic below, and if you own a website, app or social network, perhaps it’s time to launch a Chinese version.

China Internet Use

Infographic courtesy of Statista.com. Thumbnail courtesy of iStockphoto, 221A

More About: asia, china, infographics, web

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Meme Alert: Chandler Bing From ‘Friends’ Dances on Everything

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 01:03 PM PDT

Rick Santorum may be dropping out of the presidential campaign, but there’s one thing he’ll leave behind in perpetuity — and it’s not sweater vests. Santorum still has the character Chandler from the iconic sitcom Friends dancing on him.

Thanks to Chandler Dances On Things, a Tumblr blog that has gone viral in recent days, quite a few people do.

Check out a few that are making the Mashable staff giggle:


Rick Santorum





Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Meme, tumblr


Ozzie Guillen Suspended for Fidel Castro Comments; Twitter Talks Back

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 12:49 PM PDT


1. @EdgeofSports




The Nation editor Dave Zirin said others in pro sports have much more to apologize for than Ozzie Guillen did.

Click here to view this gallery.

Manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday following comments he made praising Fidel Castro.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, Guillen said he “loves” Castro — and respects how long the Cuban revolutionary and former dictator was able to stay in power.

“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen told the magazine. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there.”

Guillen’s comments were especially incendiary because he coaches the professional baseball team in Miami — home to a large Cuban-American population, including many who fled the country when Castro took power.

The Marlins this season opened a new ballpark in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

It’s not the first time Guillen has found himself in hot water for off-the-cuff comments. Over the past several years, he’s courted controversy by using a homophobic slur against a sportswriter, praising Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and declining to join his former team’s traditional post-championships White House visit, among other flare-ups.

SEE ALSO: 15 Hilarious Sports Parody Twitter Accounts | #LexingtonPoliceScanner: Twitter Listens, Reacts to Kentucky Basketball Riots

At a Tuesday morning news conference immediately following the suspension announcement, Guillen was apologetic and called his Castro comments “the biggest mistake of my life.”

Twitter users immediately reacted to the suspension and Guillen’s apology, with many saying he should not have been suspended and others arguing the punishment wasn’t severe enough. Fans, celebrities and former players all sounded off in 140 characters or less, and reactions ranged from humor to outrage.

Scroll through the gallery above to see some of the Twittersphere’s best and most insightful responses to Guillen’s suspension.

Do you think Guillen’s punishment was fair? What are the best tweets you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy iStockphoto, DNY59

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Facebook Contest Finds 10 Best Shots of New York City [PICS]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 12:38 PM PDT


Robert Caputo




Click here to view this gallery.

The City of New York asked city dwellers to submit their best snapshots of the Big Apple in its first Facebook photo contest, #lovenyc.

Now the city has released its top 10 photo choices — and wants you to vote for your favorite photo by April 15.

Mashable got an early look at the 10 images in the above gallery, which were chosen by a panel of judges.

“We already knew New Yorkers were incredibly creative and expressive, but we could never have imagined how beautiful the body of submissions was,” says Rachel Sterne, City of New York chief digital officer and #lovenyc contest judge. “The photos show what New Yorkers love about the city, from an inside perspective.”

Sterne estimates half of the photos submitted were shot by professional or conventional cameras and half were shot by smartphones (some of which were edited with apps). The contest encouraged photographers to filter their photos with tools such as Instagram and Hipstamatic.

The photo contest is the first crowdsourced social media initiative from the recently launched NYC Gov channels, which aggregate content from the city’s roughly 250 social media accounts. Sterne hopes the contest will provide a template for what will be monthly digital initiatives designed to increase community engagement.

Other cities have expressed interest in replicating the #lovenyc photo contest, Sterne says, though they are yet to be announced.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why City Governments Should Embrace Hackathons

In addition to Sterne, the judges included Spencer Tucker, director of the mayor’s City Hall photography unit; Willy Wong, chief creative officer at NYC & Company; Jen Bekman, founder and CEO of 20×200; and Mal Sherlock, Instagram photographer @fashion.

There’s a fun prize at stake for the winner — a day as NYC’s official Instagrammer — which will include covering an event with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The winning photo will also be displayed on a Times Square billboard and be featured on the NYC Gov Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Which photo is your favorite? What do you think of NYC’s use of a social photo context to encourage urban exploration? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Facebook, NYC, photography

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Yes, Secretary Clinton Submitted Her Own ‘Text From Hillary’

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 12:27 PM PDT

Texts From Hillary, a hot new Tumblr featuring a sunglasses-clad, all business Hillary Clinton checking her cellphone on a military plane, got a guest submission from an unexpected source on Monday: Secretary of State Clinton herself.


“sup adam. nice selfie Stace :-)” reads Madam Secretary’s post. “ROFL @ ur Tumblr! g2g — scrunchie time. ttyl?”

Stacy Lambe, one of the site’s co-creators, confirmed that the post was indeed from the Secretary herself.

“Her staff reached out to us with the submission yesterday,” says Lambe. “And we just met with her this afternoon. She was very delightful and thought kindly of us. I can tell you, her staff just thought the whole thing was great.”

Need more proof that’s actually from Clinton? Here you go. And there’s this, too — the post signed by the Secretary, thanking the team for the “LOLZ.”

What was Clinton’s favorite TextFromHillary so far?

“She mentioned being a fan of the Ryan Gosling post,” says Lambe. (And who can blame her? He saves strangers from oncoming traffic, after all.)

Texts From Hillary is built around photos of Clinton checking messages on her cellphone aboard a military C-17 aircraft. The blog features Clinton responding to texts from politicians and celebrities in various awesome and hilarious ways.

The site was the brainchild of Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe. It has been spreading across the web like wildfire. No wonder Clinton’s team would want to get involved — doing so creates a boatload of positive press as rumors of a possible Hillary 2016 presidential bid continue to float around the political sphere.

The original photos were taken by Reuters‘ Kevin Lamarque and Time’s Diana Walker.

What’s your favorite Text From Hillary? Let us know in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, SEIU International

More About: Hillary Clinton, Meme, Politics, Social Media, trending, tumblr, US, viral


StarCraft II and the Rise of American Pro Gaming

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 12:15 PM PDT


Marc Georges is a freelance journalist. He writes about how technology is shaping our culture and society. In his free time, Marc produces comedy videos on news and politics with his pals at The Full Ginsburg. Follow him @marcgeorges.

There's no mistaking it: Columbus, Ohio is a sports town. Drive through the city streets and you'll see Ohio State University bumper stickers everywhere. On the Sunday after the Buckeyes beat Syracuse and secured a spot in this year's Final Four, locals met at coffee shops and bars, debating the team's chances at a national championship. But at the nearby Greater Columbus Convention Center, a different group of sports fans gathered.

In the bowels of this concrete building, thousands of cheering fans greeted top competitors from around the world like they were rock stars. It was a sight reminiscent of a boxing match. Except the sport the crowd was here to see was StarCraft II, an online, real-time strategy game set in the 26th century, where three alien races duke it out in a war for intergalactic supremacy.

SEE ALSO: Move Over, Super Bowl. Spectator Gaming Reaches Millions Online

This tournament, known as the Major League Gaming (MLG) Winter Championship, included pros and amateurs competing for $76,000 in prizes. A seeded bracket grouped pros from South Korea, Europe and North America against each other, while an open bracket let anyone with a dream and quick reflexes try for the big cash prize. Winners from both brackets would then be pitted against each other, with one eventual champion.

The game is a phenomenon that’s been around for nearly ten years, but it has only recently started to gain real traction in the sports-obsessed U.S. And everyone from the people behind MLG to professional gamers from South Korea want to be part of this coming-out party.


In The Beginning



MLG Winter Championship




MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni welcomes the crowd to kick things off. Photo courtesy of Major League Gaming.

Click here to view this gallery.

StarCraft is one of the most popular titles in the world of professional gaming (or “e-sports”), particularly in South Korea. Blizzard Entertainment launched the game in 1998, and that quickly spawned two sequels: StarCraft: Brood War and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Today, there are more than 3.5 million StarCraft II players worldwide.

Gamers often describe the StarCraft series as the national pastime of South Korea. There, obsession is so acute that cable channels are dedicated to the e-sport and regularly air live matches from the Global StarCraft League (GSL), the world's most competitive professional StarCraft association.

Korean pros, between the ages of 16 and 31, are national celebrities. The best players can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Take 19-year old Jeong Jong Hyeon, better known by his handle “Mvp.” In 2011, he earned just under $250,000. That's not including corporate endorsements and sponsorship deals, according to SC2earnings, an industry website that tracks gamers' compensation.

But within the past year, European and U.S. players have started to catch up, defeating Korean players once thought unstoppable, and propelling this e-sport onto the international scene.


Coming to America


Major League Gaming, a North American-based professional electronics sports organization, is among Starcraft’s many benefactors. It recently came off a successful 2011 season with record levels of StarCraft online viewership and attendance. The company says fans from 175 countries consumed more than 3.6 million hours of live streaming content last year and another 97,000 attended their 2011 Championship events.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Sundance DiGiovanni agrees the game's popularity has been integral to MLG's growth. "StarCraft II is a game that had a global audience built into it with a storied history," he says. "You just had these players who had been around, who were engaged with the game, and were personalities on a global scale, so it just set us up to succeed."

Last year, the company announced an exchange program with GSL, where top South Korean players were flown to the U.S. to compete at live events in exchange for placing top-performing non-Korean players in the GSL. Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, a broadcaster, who has called MLG tournaments, says it wasn't just the fans pushing for more inclusion of South Korean players. The players themselves quickly realized they were idols who commanded respect. Naturally, that was appealing.

The exchange program also attracted a far more competitive group of players to MLG events because players wanted to defeat the best, and the best are still the South Koreans. "There's a huge amount on the line. The money, that’s a total side thing. It's all about the prestige and the pride," says 22-year-old U.K. native Benjamin Baker, who competes under the handle “DeMuslim.”


From Game to Job


StarCraft II has not only helped grow organizations like MLG, it's also had a mind-boggling impact on pro players’ lives. As StarCraft II became more popular, teams in Europe and the U.S. started to emulate the South Korean model of professional teams, which provide salaries, team housing, coaching, PR, and management support to their players. That's why Baker relocated to the U.S., after a team that goes by the name of Evil Geniuses started courting him. "My whole life’s changed for the better…I'm living in America right now, living in a mansion with all my friends," he says. "It’s the craziest. Even if I tell it to myself I can’t believe it."

It would be easy to then assume that these players have it made: getting paid to play a video game, living in a house with their friends, and traveling the globe signing autographs for adoring fans. But Baker, who puts in a minimum of eight hours a day on the game, is quick to dispel that notion. "I wake up at StarCraft, I go to bed at StarCraft, I have lunch at StarCraft," he says. "It’s tough. And it is like a real job."

The reality is, only about 30 players in the world, two-thirds of them South Korean, win enough money to support themselves, according to SC2Earnings. "Some of these guys are only operating off of sponsorships and t-shirt sales, and believe me, it's tough,” DiGiovanni says. "I’d love to say that down the line there will be a set number of teams and they’ll be profit sharing, but we're a ways from that for a number of reasons."

Among the reasons is that there is no governing body that represents all the teams and players like there is in other sports, such as basketball. Right now, the e-sports scene in StarCraft resembles something closer to a loose federation of players, who sign on with teams, but whose teams don’t organize together. DiGiovanni says salaries that range from $50,000 to $75,000 for 100 players is a good goal, but eventually sponsorships and endorsement deals should be the driving factor.


An Online Proliferation


The fans in Columbus are only a small subset of those following the action at the Winter Championship. Web streaming is the main way most StarCraft fans enjoy the sport. MLG says its last major event, MLG Providence, topped out at 241,000 concurrent viewers last fall. Sometimes fans will stream a game at home but increasingly they're gathering at “barcrafts,” which are get togethers at bars to watch live-streamed StarCraft games. Hannah Bachelder, tournament director for One Nation of Gamers — a group of e-sports fans turned entrepreneurs — says her organization has seen great demand for the events and regularly sponsors barcrafts in 15 cities across the country from New York City to San Francisco.

Streamed matches are called by broadcasters, also known as casters, who are usually former players with millions of pageviews on YouTube and legions of dedicated fans. This is why, during the Winter Championship, MLG assembled a hot list of casters: Daniel ‘Artosis’ Stemkoski, Nicholas ‘Tasteless’ Plott, his brother Sean ‘Day[9]‘ Plott, and Marcus ‘djWHeat’ Graham. Like the top players in the game, these casters launched careers off StarCraft II, signing contracts with leagues in North America and South Korea to call tournament matches. For older fans, like Graham, who's been in this scene for 12 years, streaming games is the beginning of what he hopes is widespread acceptance of StarCraft. "It's nice to see it finally grow to a level I wanted [it] to grow to, and I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to play a big part in that," he says. "Now I want to make sure I do whatever I can to keep that momentum going, and to keep it growing, bring in more [of the] mainstream audience, and more mainstream sponsors.”


Small, but Mighty


Still, StarCraft in the U.S. pales in comparison to South Korea, where teams are sponsored and bankrolled by heavy hitters, like Samsung and the South Korean Air Force. But U.S.-based e-sports companies are hoping to see significant growth because of the growing popularity of StarCraft II and the expected release of a new edition, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, later this year.

Not that this has stopped MLG from cashing in. It currently charges fans $30 a year for a streaming subscription to view their events and between $25 and $35 for tickets to attend events like the Winter Championship. The company's revenues come from a combination of direct-to-consumer sales, licensing, merchandising, sponsorships, and advertising.

This has made corporate sponsors start to notice that e-sports give them access to the younger demographic they crave. In the last year, MLG has announced a bevy of new partners. iBUYPOWER is now the official desktop computer. There is also an official razor (Bic), soft drink (Dr. Pepper), and energy drink (NOS). In March of last year, the company announced a sponsorship with Sony Ericsson to make the XPeria Play handset the official mobile phone of MLG. DiGiovanni says partners are interested in working with MLG because the company is successful in getting these products into the hands of e-sports fans. "We can move bottles of soda, smartphones, shavers, you name it," he says.


In the End


It was 8:00 PM on Sunday evening in Columbus, and only two players remained: 18-year-old Lee ‘MarineKingPrime’ Jung Hoon and 20-year-old Park ‘DongRaeGu’ Soo Ho. The players were two of the best up-and-coming South Koreans in the sport. The final was a rematch of MLG's previous tournament, the Winter Arena Challenge qualifier, where MarineKingPrime defeated DongRaeGu to take home a $10,000 prize and the number-one seed going into the Winter Championship tournament.

The fans rose to their feet and cheered as the announcer called each player onto the stage. After the players exchanged pleasantries, they retreated to their respective corners, where each entered a clear booth, plastered with Blizzard and MLG tags.

Within these pods, the players were shielded from the distractions of the outside world. They wore large, black headphones so that they could focus on the game and not the crowd noise or the broadcasters. The transparent enclosures allowed the audience, and cameramen, to watch as the players strategized and reacted to the game.

The series was a best-of-nine-games matchup, and each player took two of the first four games. In game five, MarineKing started to pick up some momentum, easily taking the match in about 15 minutes. Game six was more competitive, and at one point, it seemed like DongRaeGue would be able to pull off the win, but MarineKing's forces were too much and he was overwhelmed. Game seven was a blow-by-blow fight, with each player attacking aggressively. In the climactic battle, MarineKingPrime’s armies steamrolled his opponent at the 14-minute mark. Thirty seconds later, MarineKingPrime was officially the winner. He took off his headphones in disbelief and emerged from the booth smiling, a South Korean e-sports champion basking in the adulation of a crowd of Ohio gaming fanatics. It was March madness indeed.

Images courtesy of Kevin Chang, Blizzard Entertainment

More About: contributor, Entertainment, features, online gaming, trending

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Robot Helicopters to Hunt Pirates With Lasers [VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 12:02 PM PDT


Pirates seeking plunder on the high seas might soon be caught by the U.S. Navy’s autonomous “robocopters,” equipped with 3D imaging laser technology.

The Office of Naval Research announced on April 5 that it would begin testing the pirate-seeking drones late this summer. The drones and a software program would be the first line of defense against pirates.

These helicopters will use high-definition cameras and sensors, including laser-radar technology (LADAR), to collect 3D images. The technology is called Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker (MMSS) and will be attached to a robot called Fire Scout. Fire Scout and its advanced recognition software will sift through boat images captured by the camera and see if they match targeted pirate boats.

Currently, 2D technology used to capture images of ships from the air can leave the aerial crew at a disadvantage. With 3D technology and laser imaging, details on ships can be easier to spot.

“The 3-D data gives you a leg up on target identification,” Dean Cook, principal investigator for the MMSS program at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), said in a statement.

“Infrared and visible cameras produce 2-D pictures, and objects in them can be difficult to automatically identify. With LADAR data, each pixel corresponds to a 3-D point in space, so the automatic target recognition algorithm can calculate the dimensions of an object and compare them to those in a database.”

The pirate-scanning algorithms have been tested onshore against ships. Later this summer, the technology will be tested on manned aircraft off the coast of California and on seven small boats. “The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage,” notes the website.

The military is working on a number of drones to combat crime, terrorism and illegal activity.

What other uses do you see for drones? Tell us in the comments.

More About: drone, navy, united states

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Rick Santorum Drops Out of Presidential Race, But His Memes Live On

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 11:49 AM PDT


Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, has dropped out of the 2012 presidential race, but his campaign’s impact on the social web lives on.

Follow along as Mashable highlights the videos, memes and viral content brought on by Rick Santorum for president.


The “Google Problem”


Who could ever forget Rick Santorum’s infamous “Google problem“?

Gay rights activist Dan Savage put up a satirical site, SpreadingSantorum.com, in 2003 in response to Santorum’s stance against gay marriage. Savage’s goal? Redefine the word “Santorum” to an explicit term describing the after-effects of a certain type of sexual activity.

The site quickly went viral, getting so many links and shares that it shot to the top of Google searches for “Santorum” — and it stuck. Santorum petitioned Google to change the results, but the company refused because the results were a product of organic Search Engine Optimization, not illicit tampering.

“We do not remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines,” said a Google spokesperson at the time.

Last month, Santorum announced he’d finally beaten his “Google problem.” Thanks to his presidential campaign, he said, his own site now sat above “SpreadingSantorum” in a search for “Santorum.” However, a Wikipedia article about the incident still ranked in the top spot.


The Sweater Vest


At a campaign event, Santorum appeared clad in his now-iconic sweater vest. Before long, the vest spawned a parody Twitter account — @FearRicksVest. Santorum even gave a nod to “the Twitterverse” for giving wings to the sweater vest meme as he announced his concession Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m @RickSantorum’s sweater vest,” reads the parody account. “I’ve heard Rick say ‘sleeves just slow me down!’ Fear me…and….hear me! I’m ready to relocate to the White House.”

YouTube account “WePickRick” also uploaded a like-minded video entitled “Sleeves Slow Me Down:”

Santorum’s campaign cashed in on the social attention brought to his sweater vest by giving a Santorum-branded vest to anyone who donated more than $100. By the latter half of last month, the campaign sold 3,000 vests — netting at least $300,000 in donations.


Game On


Finally, there was “Game On,” a Santorum-inspired music video made by two girls from Tulsa, Okla. The video was tweeted out by Santorum’s campaign and it quickly gained more than 1 million views.

The two girls in the video, Camille and Haley Harris, became mini-stars in the campaign and attended Santorum events across the country. As Santorum dropped out of the race Tuesday, he gave the Harris girls credit for writing a “catchy tune” and putting it on YouTube, saying he was impressed that it reached a million views.

What were your favorite Santorum social media moments or memes? Post them in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, memes, Politics, Rick Santorum, Social Media, trending, US


Iran: We’re Not Cutting Off Internet Access — Yet

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 11:42 AM PDT


Reports that Iran was planning to shut off Internet access and replace it with a national intranet this summer were lies perpetrated by “the propaganda wing of the West,” according to Iran’s Ministry of Communication and Internet Technology.

But the Ministry did confirm reports that the country will be opening an Iran-only internal network — in March 2013.

On Monday, the International Business Times wrote that Iran would be flipping the switch on the Internet as early as this August.

That story was based on an statement believed to have come from Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology.

Tuesday morning, that ministry released a statement calling those claims “baseless” and that the Minister’s statement had been a “hoax,” according to the AFP.

“The report is in no way confirmed by the ministry,” read the statement.

SEE ALSO: Iran Further Restricts Facebook and Twitter, Prepares Its Own Internet

The original report said that Iran would sever ties to the global Internet and block access to popular websites and services such as Google and Hotmail.

In place of the Internet, Iran would set up an interior network for communications inside the country — similar to how a business might use an Intranet for internal messages.

The ministry’s statement didn’t confirm if Iran would cut off access to the global Internet when the internal network launches next year.

The Iranian government has a historically tepid relationship with the Internet. The government has been known to clamp down on Internet use during politically sensitive times, such as 2009′s “Green Revolution” when thousands of Iranians flooded the streets in protest at fixed elections.

Additionally, all Iranian web traffic must pass through a National Gateway that filters banned content from the west — although thousands of Iranians bypass the Gateway through out-of-country proxies.

SEE ALSO: Iran's Electronic Curtain: How the U.S. Is Tearing It Down

Do you think the Iranian government should shut off access to the global Internet? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, CGinspiration

More About: internet, iran, Social Media, World


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