Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Nokia’s Q1 Results, Facebook IPO Date”

Thursday, 19 April 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Nokia’s Q1 Results, Facebook IPO Date”


Today’s Top Stories: Nokia’s Q1 Results, Facebook IPO Date

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 05:04 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.

Nokia Reports $1.8 Billion Loss in Q1 2012

Nokia reported an operating loss of $1.8 billion in Q1 2012, mainly due to the costs of restructuring Nokia Siemens Networks. The company’s sales for the quarter were $9.7 billion, down from $13.6 billion in Q1 2011.

Facebook IPO May Be Happening on May 17

Facebook is hoping for a May 17 initial public offering, TechCrunch reports citing several sources familiar with the matter. The company will probably be valued at around $100 billion.

Apple Giving Snow Leopard to MobileMe Customers for Free

Apple is giving away Snow Leopard to potential iCloud customers for free, Macgasm reports. Apple has apparently emailed MobileMe customers with instructions on how to receive a free Snow Leopard DVD, in order to upgrade to iCloud. It is currently unclear whether this offer is valid only for customers in the U.S.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: apple, Facebook, features, first to know series, mashable, Nokia

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LinkedIn’s Biggest Competitor Is a Facebook App That Just Hit 25 Million Users

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 04:00 AM PDT


Two years and 25 million registered users after launching its professional network for Facebook, BranchOut is LinkedIn’s biggest competitor.

“At this point, it's Coke and Pepsi,” BranchOut CEO Rick Marini says of the company’s relationship with LinkedIn.

BranchOut allows users to see which of their Facebook friends (or friends of friends) work at specific companies. Unlike LinkedIn, it doesn’t require users to build a professional network one person at a time. Rather, they simply connect to their pre-existing Facebook graphs. The interface works a lot like LinkedIn from there: users can fill in their work histories, send messages to their connections, collect endorsements and request introductions to friends of friends.

The 45-employee startup’s business model also looks similar to that of its giant — and recently public — competitor. BranchOut hosts about 3 million job listings and has a product for recruiters called RecruiterConnect that works like LinkedIn Recruiter. The development of this latter product, which helps employers source talent, is what LinkedIn cited as a violation of its terms of service when it blocked BranchOut from accessing its API in July.

BranchOut has 13 million monthly unique visitors, which according to AppData.com makes it the 31st most popular app on Facebook — ahead of Instagram, Skype, Twitter and Pinterest.

Marini says much of the growth can be attributed to international adoption and new mobile users. About half of new members are from outside of the U.S., due partly to integrations with European career sites StepStone and totaljobs.com. These partnerships, along with a similar relationship with CareerBuilder in the U.S., allow job searchers to see connections who may help them get a particular job from within that job’s listing.

SEE ALSO: Glassdoor Can Mine Your Facebook Friends to Help You Land a Job [VIDEO]

BranchOut launched its first mobile app in November. By January, mobile accounted for 25% of the service’s traffic. Today, it accounts for 45% of all visits.

Although reaching 25 million registered users looks less impressive when compared to LinkedIn’s 150 million, there are 850 million Facebook users for whom joining BranchOut is just a matter of accepting the app’s permissions. On Thursday, BranchOut announced a $25 million round of funding, bringing its total venture capital backing to $49 million.

While building on Facebook is BranchOut’s greatest differentiator, it also makes the startup vulnerable to its host’s whims. When Facebook changes its features, the team of 45 needs to change BranchOut just as quickly. And if Facebook decides to launch a career feature, BranchOut will likely be toast. Marini doesn’t think that’s likely, though.

“Facebook is a platform company,” he says. “Facebook wants to see companies disrupt multi-billion-dollar markets — like BranchOut disrupting LinkedIn in the professional networking space. They want to see that happen on their network.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

More About: branchout, Facebook, jobs, linkedin


Spotify Launches Preview of Revamped Android App

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 03:01 AM PDT


Spotify is on fire with announcements these days. Fresh off of the news that the music-streaming service is partnering with companies such Coca-Cola and will build branded apps for them within the platform, the company is rolling out a preview of its new and improved Android app.

Spotify for Android is getting a new design with easier navigation and a feature that allows you to check out friends’ profile pages. Although it won’t be live in the Google Play store yet, it is available for download as a preview app starting now.

Among other new features of the app that runs with full support for Android 4.0 are more artist imagery in high resolution, faster navigation and a related artist view tool.

“That's not the end of it,” Spotify said in a press release. “We're working hard on adding further features, including folders and Last FM scrobbling, before the app goes live in Google Play.”

SEE ALSO: Spotify Details Strategic Partnership with Coca-Cola

To gain access to the Android preview, set your phone to allow installation from “Unknown Sources” by going to the Settings, Applications and then Unknown sources menu. When finished, click the button below to get the update.

Many many are expecting a Spotify iPad app soon, and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said during a press conference on Wednesday that it’s “in the works.”

In addition to recently announcing partnerships with various brands, last week Spotify launched a tool for music fans and web editors to embed playlists, songs or albums to a website or blog for free. The Spotify Play Button was designed to give users a way to legally share music online.

Spotify also recently announced plans to keep the service free in the U.S. indefinitely. The company initially granted U.S. consumers access to the platform with no restrictions for six months. For those who didn't sign up for a premium package — ranging from $4.99 to $9.99 a month — the site would be limited to 10 free hours of streaming music each month. It's unknown how long the streaming service will remain free in the U.S.

More About: android, apps, ipad, smartphones, Social Media, spotify


Facebook Hopes to Go Public on May 17 [REPORT]

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 02:13 AM PDT


Facebook is looking at the May 17 date for its initial public offering, TechCrunch reports citing several source familiar with the matter.

These sources also claim that Facebook will be valued at around $100 billion or $40 a share – close to the current valuation of the company based on secondary market trading.

The date, however, is not set in stone. Federal regulators might want more time to look at paperwork from Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, which could push the IPO date back.

A change of climate in the market — perhaps due to mounting problems in the Euro-zone — could also be a factor.

In the meantime, check out everything we know about the Facebook IPO so far in this handy guide.

More About: Facebook, facebook ipo, ipo

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JockTalk Startup Looks to Boost Pro Athletes’ Social Media Leverage

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 09:00 PM PDT


Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been a boon to pro athletes’ marketing and fan engagement abilities. But even those mega-platforms have limits to their rewards, say the creators of the new social network JockTalk.

JockTalk‘s goal is to enhance the branding leverage social networks have given athletes, and allow them to directly create income for themselves or charities through digital social interaction with fans. The site was co-founded by former Major League Baseball All-Star Shawn Green and entrepreneur Brendon Kensel.

“We saw there was a gap in the fact that athletes were jumping on social media in droves, but there wasn’t a bridge where revenue was being generated on social media sites for the athletes and their charities,” Green told Mashable.

JockTalk is launching in private beta this week. It’s already convinced an impressive roster of some 60 athletes from major American sports leagues to join. The list includes Kevin Love and Deron Williams from the NBA, the NFL’s Wes Welker, pro baseball player Heath Bell, and the NHL’s Logan Couture. On the back end, veteran CTO Monte Bell is designing the site’s architecture.

So how will Love, Welker and company use JockTalk to make money? Athletes will have profiles on the network, as will regular fans. The site will be monetized through ad hosting, member-generated content syndication and a sports-related e-commerce platform.

Athletes will get a cut of that revenue according to how active they are, will be able to decide how much goes to charities they support or how much they want to pocket themselves. They’ll also be able to host fundraisers and promotions on-site, as well as videos and other exclusive content.

Athletes’ JockTalk accounts will be linked to their mainstream social accounts. They’ll be able to send out the beginnings of 300-character posts (JockTalk’s maximum) via Twitter, for example, to take advantage of their large followings there and attract visitors back to the site for the full message.

“Players and fans will actually be using their Twitter names, so part of our objective is to create an integrated experience,” Kensel says. “We’re not asking athletes to change their behavior.”

That will be key to JockTalk becoming a success, as there’s no way a site a can simply replace the stage Twitter and Facebook have given pro athletes. But if players are able to use those established networks to actually draw significant numbers of their fans to JockTalk, even just for brief visits, Kensel and Green could really have something.

JockTalk is entirely self-funded for the time being, although in an interview with Mashable its co-founders sounded open to taking on investors. An iOS mobile app is expected in June, with an Android version to follow. The site will remain invitation-only for fans for the time being, but don’t expect much real barrier for entry.

“Playing pro ball for 16 years, I have a lot of relationships with players and former players,” Green says. “Players are very excited and the feedback I’m getting is that there’s a need for this sort of thing and the biggest factor for them is what it could mean for their charitable work.”

Do you think JockTalk can gain traction in the world of sports and social media? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Social Media, sports, Startups

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Will Cell Phones Be Able to See Through Walls? New Research Says Yes [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 08:23 PM PDT


It looks like Superman’s X-Ray vision might not just be for Superman anymore.

Thanks to new research coming out of the University of Texas at Dallas, we may be able to channel one of Clark Kent’s famed superpowers by using our cell phones to see through walls.

A team at the University of Texas at Dallas, led by Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Kenneth O, has tapped into two significant scientific advances that could open up this new technology. The first is an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum, and the second is a new kind of consumer-grade microchip.

The electromagnetic spectrum characterizes wavelengths of energy and measures all ranges of light. Dr. O’s research is using the terahertz band, which has previously been inaccessible for most consumer devices. The band lies between microwave and infrared rays and can allow devices to “penetrate” through objects in a way similar to X-rays.

When signals on the terahertz band travel from your phone, they’ll bounce back — and that’s when the microchip comes in. The chips are manufactured using CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology, which is the basis of most of the electronic devices around you. A censor in the chip will pick up terahertz signals and then images can be created.

If terahertz-band signals can create images with fewer lenses — which would be the case with this technology — that means less money for lenses and a smaller camera. By using a CMOS sensor, the cost becomes even cheaper.

“CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,” said Dr. O. “The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.”

The technology goes beyond seeing through walls or other kinds of objects. In medicine, for example, there’s potential for it to be used in place of X-Rays. Businesses could also use it to detect counterfeit money.

And just in case you’re worried about spies using their phones to see what you’re up to far away, don’t fret — the researchers are fully aware of privacy concerns. That’s why Dr. O and his team are only focused on using their technology within a distance range of four inches.

What do you think of this new technology? Would you want to use your cell phone to see through walls? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, zfmg!

More About: cell phones, Mobile, privacy

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Zeel Connects You With Mind, Body and Beauty Practioners In Your Area

Posted: 18 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: Zeel

Quick Pitch: Find qualified wellness practitioners in your area and book appointments online with this free web service.

Genius Idea: Vetted practitioners for massage, skin care, weight loss and more on one site that lets you book appointments online.


Finding wellness practitioners in your area seems like an easy enough task. Go online, search for “massage” or “dietician” or whatever other service you’re looking for — then sift through a bazillion results. Peer review sites can help narrow down the search, but are often lacking information like pricing, qualifications and the ability to book appointments online.

Meet Zeel, a new website that launched in January of this year. The site connects users to some 2,000 practitioners listed on the site. You can find massage therapists, dieticians, acupuncturists and skin care specialists in your area by searching with your zip code.

Zeel was founded by husband and wife team Samer Hamadeh and Alison Harmelin. Both had searched for specialists for various reasons and found no helpful online service gathering all wellness provider information in one place. So, they created Zeel.

“There's a lot of noise in the area of health and wellness, particularly complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and the marketplace is fragmented,” Hamadeh said in an email message.

“Our focus isn't life-or-death acute issues like heart surgery; most of our customers are looking for specific results -– pain reduction, improvement in a joint or muscle injured through sports, anti-aging skin care, or a stress relieving massage after a particularly rough week of work,” he said. “In short, we help you book the care you need to maintain a healthy, pain-free life with highly qualified providers ranging from acupuncturists to massage therapists to dermatologists.”

Treatments that users can find on Zeel are not typically covered by insurance, although insurance companies are increasingly starting to provide complementary and alternative medicine benefits, he added. Using the site is free for consumers. Providers pay about 12-13% for every appointment booked through Zeel.

Currently, Zeel is only available in the United States. The wellness practitioners listed on the site are mostly in the New York metro area, but also in Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Phoenix, Atlanta and other areas.

Sites like ZocDoc, Vitals and EverydayHealth are similar to Zeel’s model, except for one major difference — most of these sites point users to regular doctors, not CAM providers.

Hamadeh is a co-founder and former CEO of Vault.com, and Harmelin is an Emmy-nominated television news correspondent. Zeel is based in New York City and currently has 10 employees. It is in the first class of startups in former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin’s StartUp Health Academy.

What do you think about Zeel? Would you use it? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, pixdeluxe


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, health, wellness, Zeel

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3 Hackathons Trying to Change the World

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 07:41 PM PDT


Scott Henderson is managing director of CauseShift, writes about social impact for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and is founder of NewEmpireBuilders.com, a media collaborative covering the startups, non-profits, and companies making the world better.

When you think of hackathons, you might think of coding, right? That's certainly where the concept came from, but it's taking on new meaning, as more non-profits and civic leaders embrace it as a format for social innovation.

In recent years, hackathons have helped city governments across the country build new web and mobile applications. These apps provide services like a way to report potholes. Now, hackathons are being used by an even wider range of sectors that involve social good. Below are three that are leading the way.


1. Code for America


Early success helped to fuel the launch of Code for America, a non-profit founded in 2009, which offers fellowships to tech workers interested in helping city government leaders. For example, when heavy snowstorms hit Boston last year, Code for America helped create mobile apps for parents to track their children's school buses. Community groups were also able to adopt fire hydrants to help keep them clear of snow. Not only did these apps help Bostonians, but they were also repurposed for other cities.

Thanks to a $1.5 million Google grant, Code for America has recently expanded its fellowship program to include 26 fellows in eight cities. It’s also launched the new Brigade program to involve more people on ad hoc projects, and begun work on an accelerator program.


2. MITX Up


MITX, a non-profit trade association at the intersection of marketing and technology, launched MITX Up, the first hackathon of its kind. The association has accelerators and incubators based in Boston and Cambridge, where MITX Up assembles teams of marketing and technology experts to give startup founders their undivided attention and help for two hours.

During these sessions, MITX Up participants help identify a startup's key audience and develop strategies and tactics to reach them. The most recent gathering took a twist and featured the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Boston — both interested in enticing startups and students to flock to the region.


3. Creative Currency


Creative Currency is launching in San Francisco starting with a hackathon-style brainstorming event later this month. Teams of tech talent, community workers, and social service experts will work to solve problems for a neighborhood with one of the Bay Area's highest poverty rates. Be sure to follow along with what unfolds over the coming months as wider circles of citizens take a direct role in solving community problems.

What kind of hackathons are happening in your community? Do you think they can be used to help your favorite cause?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: code for america, contributor, features, hackathon, Social Good


360,000 iPhone Photos Will Create One ‘Revolutionary Mosaic’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 07:19 PM PDT



You can be a part of history as 360,000 iPhone users are asked to take images to create a single digital mosaic to represent today’s mobile generation. The Kickstarter-backed Revolution Mosaic App, which is facilitating the project, will drop in May.

Smartphones and apps like Instagram have changed the way the world takes and shares images. Canadian app developer Ian Tuason — founder of iOS gaming app Coupon Quest — is hoping to encapsulate the iPhone photo-snapping generation in one image.

The project’s creator promises to produce a piece of art that will “last forever in the App Store, the Internet and on posters worldwide.”

“We all have this powerful tool in our pockets and it only takes a gentle tap to take a photo, to capture a moment, and to share our perspective to the world,” Tuason wrote on the Revolution Mosaic Kickstarter page. “So let’s turn that tap into a tidal wave.”

He launched a Kickstarter fund in March with the goal of raising $2,012 to cover costs of development. So far, 48 backers have pledged a total $2,074 and Tuason surpassed his goal on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Snapstagram Wants to Print Your Instagram Photos [VIDEO]

A comprehensive image will take form within the app as soon as users start to upload photos. Users can view their own contributed photos by zooming into the mosaic.

But participants should also make sure to take a worthwhile photo, because one of the 360,000 images will take center stage in the mosaic picture. The selected image will be one that best depicts the mobile generation.

Photos will be placed randomly within the mosaic. Top contributors of $500+ have secured exclusive corner positions of the poster with their donations. Generous contributors to the campaign will also receive a free poster of the mosaic.

What would you take an image of for this art project? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Ian Tuason.

More About: apps, kickstarter, Mosaic


Mashable Photo Challenge Results: Work in Progress

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 07:03 PM PDT

Life is built from individual steps forward. This past week we asked you to capture a photo illustrating a work in progress.

The Mashable community expressed their “works in progress” in many different ways — from literal construction sites to the first blooms of a fresh flower.

Take a look at the entries from this past week’s Mashable Photo Challenge, and be sure to enter our latest challenge: green. Details to come tomorrow.


taz





Pineapple in progress.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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Prepare to Sing Along with Zelda: The Musical [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 06:49 PM PDT

Sure, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was amazing, and easily one of the greatest games ever, but what did it really lack?

Broadway!

Composer Michael Moffit and animator Chris McGregor bring the 16-bit land of Hyrule to life through song, with a tune that’s fit for its own musical. All of the melodies are based on Koji Kondo’s original, memorable score from Ocarina of Time.

A highlight of the video is the Deku Tree, voiced by singer Tay Zonday. Zonday made his web breakout a few years ago, with his unmistakable voice singing the viral hit song, “Chocolate Rain.”

More About: Legend of Zelda, Video, viral


Bubble Witch Saga Is A Hot Game, But Does It Have Longevity?

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 06:32 PM PDT


Need your daily dose of Bubble Witch Saga on Facebook? So do about 6.5 million other daily active users on the social network.

King.com, the game developer who created the odd title, was able to boast Tuesday that it was the second most popular social game developer on Facebook. But, as of early Wednesday evening, King.com had fallen to eighth place — demonstrating the fickleness of social games.

Bubble Witch Saga, a casual game in which users make their way through levels by popping bubbles that comes out of a witches’ cauldron, proved to have other impressive stats as well. It out-ranks FarmVille in daily active users, according to AppData, an independent metrics and trends site for Facebook apps. When it comes to monthly active users, however, FarmVille — developed by gaming powerhouse Zynga — still takes the cake with nearly 26 million active users.

Bubble Witch Saga is riding high, but considering past games that excelled in the space very quickly, it may not be able to hold the top spot for long. Bubble Witch Saga is only about seven months old, while FarmVille will celebrate its third anniversary this June.

“A hot start certainly gives you an advantage out-of-the-gate, but social games are constantly evolving and the competition is high,” said Scott Steinberg, CEO at TechSavvy Global and a gaming expert. “Just because you have the bestseller one day doesn’t mean you’re not tomorrow’s one-hit wonder.”

With hundreds of games being released everyday, it can be difficult to inspire loyalty, he added.

“The odds are tremendously stacked against newcomers,” but it’s still possible to have a hit, he said.

Steinberg listed a number key traits a winning game should have. It should be fun and engaging but also consumable, meaning the game lets users accomplish goals and feel like they’re making progress. It needs to be intuitive, approachable and be filled with subliminal positive reinforcement. Steinberg said if a player’s character in the game is constantly getting injured or killed, players won’t want to keep coming back. A good game should also have elements of personalization, such as creating your own avatar or freedom to accomplish tasks in the order the player chooses. But even a winning formula is not a guarantee of success.

“If there were a formula, everyone would do it,” he said. Another problem facing new game developers is discovery. “To have a successful game, you’ve got to be able to aggregate a community,” he said.

To complicate this model a bit more, monetizing games also adds another element of complexity for developers.

Having a hit game, he said, “it’s like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.”

Stories of Facebook games that started off strong and fizzled out are not uncommon.

When EA’s The Sims Social was introduced to the market last fall, some thought that the game’s early rocket to success was a sign it could overtake Zynga’s games. By early October, the New York Times reported that more than 66 million people had played the Sims game on Facebook, while other outlets speculated as to how many millions of players the game swiped from Zynga. For a brief time after the game’s release, it was the second most popular game on Facebook — beating FarmVille and falling just one spot behind Zynga’s CityVille.

But by December, as the novelty of the game wore-off, The Sims Social fell behind FarmVille and landed in the number five spot. As of Tuesday, the game wasn’t even listed in the top 100 most popular apps on Facebook on AppData.

So could Bubble Witch Saga suffer the same fate for King.com?

Growth at the company as a whole has been very strong over the past year. In January 2011, King had 750K daily active users; today, it has 6.5 million daily active users.

King.com CEO and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi said the company is continuously evolving Bubble Witch Saga. “We started with 70 levels and now have more than 200,” he offered as one example.

“We aim to provide an experience that goes beyond the initial launch to create ongoing relationships with gamers versus a one-time purchase,” he said. “The aim is also to retain players not with one game, but with a portfolio of the best games in each casual genre.”

Only time will tell if Bubble Witch Saga has what it takes to keep King’s audience coming back for more.

What social games do you play and what makes you to come back again and again? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Bubble Witch Saga, farmville, King.com, Zynga

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New Site Challenges Instagram Users to Take Their Best Shot

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 06:21 PM PDT


Instagram has had a hot couple of weeks: a new Android app and Facebook’s acquisition. Some have expressed concern about the changes, while others are just looking forward to some quality photography.

InstaDerby is a new site that challenges Instagram users with a weekly theme — for example, robots or spring.

“I had just become addicted to Instagram and felt there was something missing — a more social, exploratory and competitive element — that I wanted to explore,” says Jackie Prince, InstaDerby’s founder and president.

Users submit their photos using the appropriate hashtag, then accumulate as many votes as possible by sharing their photos with family and friends.

SEE ALSO: 11 Early Pics From Android Instagram Users

The “Top 100 Stallions,” as the photographers are called, are featured on the site’s leaderboard. The top three are awarded bronze, silver and gold medals, based on the number of votes their photos receive.

Each week, the leader of the competition wins an Instagram-themed prize, such as credit to sites like StickyGram or CanvasPop.

“InstaDerby is unique because it opens Instagram up in a way that no other site or app has done, by showing how people from all over the world interpret the same theme,” says Prince. “It’s also a great way to make new connections on the platform, by discovering new photographers to follow and earning new followers.”

We’ve rounded up some of the past challenges and their winners. Think you have what it takes to be a Top Stallion? Let us know in the comments.


1. Robots




Photo by therobotarmy

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of bridif

More About: apps, features, instagram, photography


Reporter Who Tracked Kony in Africa Answers Questions on Reddit

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 06:08 PM PDT

Newsweek reporter Scott Johnson just returned from a trip to Africa, where he traveled with the Ugandan army and went hunting for Joseph Kony.

Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerrilla group, is the focus of the Kony 2012 videos created by Invisible Children. The video is the most viral video of all time.

In a Reddit IAmA, Johnson shared his thoughts on the videos and Kony himself. Check out some snippets of the conversation below.


Reddit IAmA with Kony-tracking reporter Scott Johnson


BashfulArtichoke: Thoughts on Invisible Children campaign?

I think the campaign raised awareness among huge numbers of people about a man who has brought immense misery to countless thousands, so that’s good. At the same time, the first video focused on Uganda and didn’t explain the deep complexities of that country enough, or the role of the Ugandan military and government in creating and fomenting the crisis in the north of the country. So that was a problem.

futurerustfuturedust: The general populace have a very shallow pool of knowledge regarding affairs, both economically and politically, of Africa. Do you think the Kony 2012 will help shed more light, or even ‘publicity’ on Africa, and its problems as a whole?

Well, it would be great if it did. I’ve heard lots of stories from older people who say their kids come to them at the breakfast table after having seen the video and say, you know, we have to do something about this. They want to learn about Africa, they want to be engaged. It’s a start, I think.

TheLemonHammer: Hi! Do you think that the hunt for Kony is a good thing, and do you think that the Invisible Children charity is doing a good job of spreading the word and supporting the cause?

I think the world would be a better place without Kony, yes. But I guess you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d disagree with that. But it’s complicated. Yes, the hunt seems to be the only viable option to deal with him now. I don’t believe he will negotiate, he has no incentive to do so, he’s an indicted war criminal. He has also lost the patronage of the people who once supported him, like Sudan’s Bashir, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. But the tricky thing is that when you introduce more people with guns into an area of the world where there are already too many, it can often make things much, much worse. And we’ll have to wait and see if the people in charge handle it well enough to avoid the pitfalls of the military solution.

noonzers: Kony’s actions are clearly atrocious, and he deserves to be brought to justice. With that being said, I’ve been reading that he’s not even close to the worst of his kind. So I guess my question is: why is so much attention/publicity given to Kony and not the others?

Well, I think the movie did a lot to bolster attention around him. That’s one. Also, he’s kind of a throwback, don’t you think — to an earlier era when Africa was literally overrun with guys like this? So I think the pure barbarism he represents is kind of an affront to people. But yes, there are people who do terrible things elsewhere. But maybe they haven’t been doing it for as long as Kony.

SageFrancisSFR: We’ve been told that Kony left Uganda years ago. Where were you hunting for him?

We were in Central African Republic, which is where the UPDF believes him to be these days.

jjchia07: How safe is it for you on the ground over there? Do Kony’s people monitor the western media’s analysis of them?

It’s interesting. While we were there a Kony ‘spokesperson’ issued a 19-page response to Invisible Children’s movie, and the AU and US participation. It was mostly rambling, non-sensical. But you got the sense they’re keeping an eye on things. Oddly, the LRA has a lot of supporters who are part of the diaspora in Europe. One hears from them now and again.

Wolfhunters: Was there anything that really made you upset or distressed which you saw when you got over there?

I’ve reported on Kony for a few years now, and what always disturbs me is speaking to the victims. It’s incredibly sad and most of them are very traumatized. Some of them, it should be said, have been brutalized not just by the LRA but by the armies of DRC, Sudan, and Uganda as well, so they’ve been doubly or triply victimized. They have awful stories of having to kill people by force, or be killed, of witnessing rapes, mutilations, beatings, torture. etc. And hearing small children say these things is always very disturbing.

Wolfhunters: Do you often find them to be distant or mentally scarred? Or do most of the victims recover and learn to live with their experiences?

I think many of them are scarred for life. But, yes, they do get on with things, they return to work, to families, to life. Some succeed better than others, obviously. Some don’t make it. But there is a real life-affirming ethos in much of that part of the world, I find, and people survive, and even thrive in the midst of incredibly difficult experiences.

More About: kony 2012


CISPA Author: It’s Not Perfect, But We’re Making ‘Tremendous Progress’

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 05:55 PM PDT


The author of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, admits the bill isn’t perfect. But he believes he’s making “tremendous progress” towards passing a law that protects the U.S. from cyberattacks without trampling on Americans’ right to privacy.

“We feel confident about where we're at,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), CISPA’s primary sponsor, told Mashable. “We’ve got a coalition of companies in the high-tech industry supporting the bill…because we've listened to people's concerns and incorporated them. It’s truly a collaborative effort.”

CISPA’s intention is to foster cyber threat communication between businesses and the government. Rogers’ main concern: state-sponsored cyberattacks that steal top-secret information from American firms in order to give foreign companies an unfair advantage in the global marketplace.

Critics of the bill consider its language too vague, resulting in legislation that could end the notion of online privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and other groups are working together on a “week of action” to inform people about what they consider the dangers of CISPA.

Additionally, many Internet users are standing guard for the “next SOPA” — and some believe CISPA is exactly that. The sudden controversy over CISPA didn’t entirely surprise Rogers, but he didn’t expect it to be public enemy number one for many Internet users, either.

“It's not the scary piece of legislation that folks out there are making it out to be,” says Rogers. “The good news is…I think we're crossing that treshhold of getting people to understand what we're trying to accomplish. We're doing this in a transparent way, and we feel better by the day.”

Rogers and the House Intelligence Committee have been engaging with the technology industry, privacy groups and others to find ways to improve the bill. The committee has been posting updated “discussion drafts” as the process unfolds.

Recently, they made a half-convert of Engine Advocacy, an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Engine isn’t fully behind the bill as written, but they’re satisfied enough with the changes that have been made in committee to withdraw their opposition.

28 other companies and trade groups have publicly announced their support of CISPA, including heavy-hitters such as Facebook and Microsoft. Google isn’t publicly supporting the bill, but the company has been working on CISPA behind-the-scenes with Rogers, the technology industry and privacy groups, according to a recent report from The Hill.

Rogers says the companies in favor of the bill want a common pool of knowledge where they can learn about and prepare for cyberattacks — to which they’ve all fallen victim. He also believes their support is evidence the bill is less dangerous than many observers are making it out to be.

Some groups, including the EFF and the CDT, still aren’t convinced. Of particular concern to them is CISPA’s national security clause, which they believe will allow the government to snoop on Internet users’ emails, text messages and social media profiles.

Rogers says that simply isn’t true. In his opinion, CISPA is carefully worded and intended only to share information about cyberattacks designed to harm vital infrastructure, or those backed by foreign governments trying to steal the intellectual property of American businesses.

“‘National security’ has a meaning,” says Rogers. “It’s any threat to the security of the U.S. that can either be by physical harm or in some ways economic harm, so you can have really both ways. So in other words, if you want to go and shut down and attack an electrical grid, that clearly has national security implications. I think it would be morally reprehensible for us not to prevent that loss of life.”

Is CISPA the Internet’s next “public enemy number one,” or is it a much-needed defense against cyberattacks? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: CISPA, cybersecurity, Politics, SOPA, tech policy, US


Netflix to Release All 10 Upcoming ‘Arrested Development’ Shows at Once

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 05:37 PM PDT

arrested development images

Netflix is planning to simultaneously release the entire fourth season of Arrested Development “sometime next year,” the company announced at an event in Las Vegas Tuesday evening.

The streaming video subscription service is developing 10 episodes of the series, which was cancelled for poor performance in 2006, in partnership with Fox and Imagine Television.

Each episode will center around one character, the show's creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, said from the stage. He added that the new shows will be similar to the previous ones, but declined to go into further specifics about the format or storyline.

Hurwitz also expressed hope that he and his team could go on to produce fourth and fifth seasons of the show for Netflix, should the first 10 episodes prove successful.

Netflix revealed in November that it had signed a deal to revive the beloved sitcom, which it would bring exclusively to its U.S. subscribers in the first half of 2013. The company now appears to be less certain about the timing of the release, but did say on Tuesday that episode production would begin this summer.

This isn’t the first time that Netflix has released an entire season of an original show at once. The company’s first original series, Lilyhammer, premiered its initial eight episodes all on Feb. 6, and is planning to bring the show back for a second season.

More About: arrested development, netflix

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Jet Engine Technology Restores Woman’s Voice After 35 Years [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 05:09 PM PDT



After seven surgeries, 52-year-old Jan Christian can speak again thanks to procedures inspired by jet engine technology.

When Christian was 17 years old, she crushed her windpipe and voicebox after hitting her throat on the dashboard in a car accident. Before the surgery, Christian could barely speak above a whisper. Everyday conversations and talking on the phone were tough.

After 35 years of seeing doctors and no successful cure, meeting experienced ear, nose and throat Dr. Siddarth M. Khosla was a “miracle,” according to reports.

Dr. Khosla had a unique approach. He looked at the way air flowed through jet engines to produce sound. Air enters the front of an engine’s fan, passing through a nozzle and is pushed back through the engine’s backend. Khosla used this model to rebuild Christian’s larynx.

SEE ALSO: These Contact Lenses Give You Superhuman Vision

The series of surgeries performed at University Hospital in Cincinnati rebuilt her vocal cords, vertebrae and larynx, according to USA Today.

“There’s always been a desire to share my story and I’ve gone to writing seminars and stuff, trying to maybe write a book, but never persued it,” Christian told Cincinnati.com. “I have something worthwhile to say, where before it was just quiet, there’s nothing there, I can’t add anything to the conversation cause nobody can hear me.”

Check out the amazing results in the video. Share your reactions in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, nidalm

More About: planes, Tech, Video


Dashboard Ads Coming to Tumblr, CEO Says

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 04:53 PM PDT


Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp announced that advertisers will be able to buy ad units on the ‘Featured’ section of Tumblr’s dashboard, which gets approximately 120,000 impressions a day.

Karp made the announcement at the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York, and said advertisers will be able to pay for space beginning May 2.

The move represents a significant turnaround for Karp, who in 2010 told the Los Angeles Times, “We’re pretty opposed to advertising. It really turns our stomachs.”

But two years later, things have certainly changed. If recents developments are any indication, the five-year-old platform is growing at an astounding rate. As of Wednesday, the site boasts more than 52 million Tumblr blogs, which have in turn churned out over 21 billion total posts, more 53 million of which were created April 18 alone. The site’s statistics are available on its About page, which is updated daily.

In February, Tumblr took its business development a step further with the launch of “highlighted posts.” The feature lets Tumblr users pay $1 to get more visibility for their work.

SEE ALSO: The Quick and Dirty Guide to Tumblr for Small Business

In a recent interview with Advertising Age, Karp said that using something like Google AdSense to generate revenue was “far down the list” of priorities. But he also acknowledged the growth of Tumblr, and the potential that growth has for marketers.

“We have about 4.5 billion impressions a week. There’s value in that to advertisers…,” he said.

As for Karp’s 2010 reaction toward advertising, he acknowledges now that he didn’t know what he was talking about at the time:

What do you think of Tumblr’s announcement? Selling out, or necessary step? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: advertsing, tumblr


YouTube Sensation Does the Robot in $10 Million Roomba Campaign [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 04:36 PM PDT


Dubstep master and YouTube sensation Marquese Scott is back with another jaw-dropping routine. His 2011 YouTube dance video gained more than 43 million views. This time, he is promoting the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.

iRobot Corporation — behind the Roomba and Scooba automated cleaners — is making moves with a robust $10 million ad campaign, appealing to fans on T.V. and online. Scott appears in the T.V. and online spots doing “the robot,” alongside the Roomba.

The T.V. spot will run on national cable channels as well as on the websites of online publishers including Conde Nast, Epicurious and The New Yorker.

iRobot promotes the futuristic Roomba vacuum in the ad campaign, though their long list of products includes automated machines that wash floors, pools and gutters. The campaign celebrates “the unique bond that is created between people and robots,” according to the Boston-based ad company Mullen.

iRobot is also tying in a global YouTube competition with the national ad campaign. Dubbing it an “Robolution,” iRobot has created a branded YouTube channel to promote a robot dance contest.

Contestants are asked to submit videos of themselves dancing to the iRobot theme song, available for download on the branded YouTube page. It’s suggested that dancers mimic the Roomba’s slow back-and-forth movement — like Scott does in his videos.

SEE ALSO: Beyond the Roomba: How iRobot's Technology Is Making War Zones Safer for Soldiers

The YouTube page so far is a branding win. People can submit entries for the dance competition while reading up on the latest iRobot products, all in one place. Plus, there’s room for fans to leave personal comments about the futuristic products.

Watch Scott’s unique moves in this YouTube video created specially for the competition:

Can you do the robot better than a Roomba? If so, post a link to your “Robulution” video in the comments.

More About: irobot, roomba, Scooba, Video


Automakers: Your High-Tech Dashboards Are Frustrating (and Possibly Dangerous)

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 04:17 PM PDT

dashboard-ui-600

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Seth Porges is a New York-based writer and editor, and the creator of Cloth for iOS. You can follow him on Twitter at @sethporges.

The auto industry's philosophy towards fighting distracted driving, summed up: "If it's on the dash, it must be safe."

Car designers seem to think that just about any user interface — no matter how archaic, frustrating, baffling, byzantine or confusing it is — can be touted as a distraction-fighting feature, as long as it's shoved onto the dashboard.

Of course, this folly is obvious to anybody who has slid into the front seat of a new car in recent years. In-car navigation systems? Inexplicably more difficult to use than a five-year-old Garmin or TomTom stand-alone device. Satellite radio? Awesome, if you can figure out how to surf through the stations (this is seriously a problem on a shockingly high number of new cars, which seem to do all they can to hide the ability to scroll between stations that aren't set as "favorites").

Let's just be blunt: The auto industry has a lot to learn about creating a decent user interface. At best, dash-based UIs are unintuitive and frustrating. At worst, they are flat-out dangerous. To make things worse, there is also almost no consistency between manufacturers or, often, different models from the same manufacturer. Don't even think of sidling into the front seat of your friend's car and easily inputting directions or changing the Sirius station — these babies have serious learning curves.

The most hands-in-the-air frustrating part of this all: Car infotainment systems seem increasingly intent on forcing any external gadgets to operate through their built-in control systems. A good thing: more and more cars now come with a jack for plugging in an iPhone or iPod. A bad thing: Once you plug in your iDevice, you usually lose the ability to control it, except through the car's archaic interface.

When plugged in, your iPod's clickwheel or touchscreen are dead to you. Instead, a task as simple as changing the track requires digging through a file hierarchy that could easily be confused as a relic of the DOS days. (I'm not even kidding: When you plug an iPhone into many new cars, they require you to navigate through the sort of layered file folder system that we thought we had done away with a decade ago).

SEE ALSO: Is This the Ultimate iPhone Car Stereo? [VIDEO]

The obvious reason for hijacking the controls: Car manufacturers don't want you staring down at your gadget when your eyes should be on the road. I agree. You shouldn't stare down at a gadget. But you also shouldn't have to flip through an awful dash-based UI.

Apple devices have the best user interfaces in the world (which raises another question: why can't the auto industry just rip off Apple like everybody else?). And for the millions of users who live with these things in their pockets, flipping through the controls is basically built into their muscle memory. They can do it blind. So I gotta ask: What's worse, a quick glance down at an iPhone, or an extended stare at a frustrating dash-based infotainment system? (Yes, some cars have 3.5mm jacks for piping the audio directly into the speakers, and a few even create a vague simulacrum of the Apple interface when you jack in your iPhone, but that really doesn't make any of this acceptable.)

Where should cars display navigation and car audio information? The one place your eyes should be while driving: the windshield. I've recently test-driven a number of new cars, such as the Audi A7 and the Lexus GS 350 F Sport, that subtlety display info such as your next turn or current radio station within your line of sight by reflecting it — see-through, augmented reality-style — over the bottom of the windshield.

Yes, these heads-up display systems still need some refinement in the UI department, but this feature works beautifully, and it really does do an amazing job of keeping your eyes on the road. So my plea to car manufacturers: Instead of creating ever more distracting and cluttered dashboard UIs, just focus on giving us just the basics on our windshield. You could even find that it saves some lives.

Image courtesy of Ford

More About: car tech, gps, navigation, UI Design


Robotic Prison Guards Tested In South Korea [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 04:03 PM PDT

Inmates: Harassing this guard will only get you in trouble. Three robotic prison guards are being tested at a prison in the South Korean city of Pohang.

The robots will monitor inmates’ activities, reporting any inconsistencies or odd behaviors back to a manned control center. Because the robots learn the common behaviors of inmates, they can help prevent suicides, fights and arson.

The prison began testing the robots this month, according to Reuters.

Standing at five feet tall, these robots are equipped with 3D cameras, microphones and a speaker. The bots have what looks like a head, but do not have a humanoid form.

The “correction service robots,” as they are called, will act as assistants at the prisons. Two-way communication capabilities allow them to exchange information with prison guards. The robots can also be controlled from an iPad.

The robots navigate by detecting sensors placed on the ceiling of the prison. The bots are somewhat autonomous, too — if their battery power dips below 20%, they go to the nearest charging station. Developed by Asian Forum for Corrections, these four-wheeled bots will be tested for one month and cost nearly $300,000 each.

Do you think using robot prison guards is a good idea? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, wsmahar

More About: prison, prison guards, Robotic


10 Apps to Keep Your Business Organized

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:41 PM PDT


Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment.

No matter what industry you’re in, so much of any business depends on networking. But keeping track of business contacts, back-to-back meetings, and pending deals can be a real headache. Thankfully, there’s an app for that. A few, actually.

I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs for the mobile apps that keep them on track in their work and on the go. Here are their favorite suggestions.


1. LinkedIn CardMunch


CardMunch is a real problem solver for me. I used to have stacks of business cards that always needed to be processed. Now I scan them and often auto-connect with the person on LinkedIn, giving me something to anchor the face-to-face meeting and go back to if needed.

- Derek Shanahan, Foodtree


2. Asana


Asana, our project management tool, links to mobile devices and is a great asset. The software allows us to update projects, request followups, and tracks all user activity so nothing is lost in the vortex of e-mail. Use the calendar function to see upcoming meetings at a glance, including notes, attendees, and dial-in information.

- Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems


3. Launch Center


Launch Center is a way to organize the most important things you need to get done on a day-to-day basis, but can also be used for reminders. Things should be simple, and this app makes everything on your iPhone one tap away from being checked off your list.

- Ashley Bodi, Business Beware


4. Bizzabo


Bizzabo is an excellent app to keep track of connections you’ve made at conferences and meetings. It’s also an exceptionally powerful way to network with others while your at events and even after you leave.

- Ben Lang, EpicLaunch


5. Remember the Milk


Remember The Milk is the to-do list I use for everything I do. I have customized and improved my RTM experience a bit through their API, but at the very least, it can serve as an easy-to-use task list that you can leverage anywhere you go.

- Logan Lenz, Endagon


6. ToutApp


ToutApp is the networking tool that I use the most while I am on the go. One of the hardest things to do is to follow up with people that you meet from networking events. This app makes it easy to send templated followup messages with just a simple text. It will also enter that person’s contact info into your favorite CRM system.

- Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers


7. Hashable


If you want to introduce people on the go, I highly recommend Hashable. It’s especially perfect for the informal introductions that are so common in the tech scene, where you can just introduce two people on Twitter and leave the rest to them.

- Matt Wilson, Under30CEO.com


8. Google Calendar


Having your calendar handy is a huge boon when you bump into that investor or new hire of your dreams. Google Calendar lets you lock in a time for a longer meeting at the moment that you meet someone. It’s a simple way to make sure that you connect with this person again.

- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches


9. Mobile Assistant


Through Mobile Assistant, I’ve gotten my thoughts transcribed on the go. I just call in to a mobile number, record my thoughts, and then they’re sent to me the next day. Whether I’m recording meeting notes or creating a draft of a new proposal, I’ve never documented things this quickly.

- Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring


10. Evernote


It doesn’t matter if I’m on my phone, computer, Kindle Fire, or iPod Touch — everything goes into Evernote. It’s priceless to have all that information in one place and be able to sort through it during a more convenient time.

Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

More About: Business, contributor, Entreprenuership, features, mobile apps


Color Forecast App Scours Streets For Trends, Shows You What to Wear

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:15 PM PDT

Color Forecast App

Ever stared at your closet in the morning, fraught with indecision over what to wear? A new web app can make sure that never happens again.

European clothing brand Pimkie created the Color Forecast app to help women get dressed in the morning. High-tech cameras installed in Paris, Milan and Antwerp scan the streets, calculating trending colors around the clock.

Camera images feed into an application that computes the most popular colors seen on the street at the moment. The fashion-forward crowd can consult the website and soon-to-be iPhone app as a what-to-wear guide.

The Color Forecast web app updates every few seconds, showing a live stream of fashionable streets in the three European fashion capitals. Comprehensive graphs display current trending colors, the hourly trends of past days, the week’s popular colors (organized by day into three segments) and last month’s trending colors on an infographic.

SEE ALSO: Kaleidoscope, An App for Curated Street-Style Fashion, Arrives on iPhone

How does the app work? Cameras only consider moving objects, ignoring still cars and green trees in the frame. As people walk by the camera, it picks up colors and the application starts processing images.

“It collects the clustering of moving colors, you have to sort these buckets by order of importance — their quantity, brightness and saturation,” Pedro Cruz, the application’s visualization designer, tells Mashable.

The app’s simple interface hides the complex technology driving it. The one-camera setup in each city is very simple, Cruz says. The project’s complexity lies in building and maintaining an application that doesn’t crash as information is constantly being filtered and analyzed.

Happiness Brussels is the ad agency behind the concept. The agency’s CEO, Karen Corrigan, says the ongoing project will inspire fashion-driven women to “follow or to deny the real-time, instant fashion trends.”

The agency wanted to encompass the idea of instantaneous trends proliferated through social networks with the application.

“In this way, the technology remains a means to make a concept happen and deliver the content,” Corrigan says.

Color Forecast Suggestions

The color predictor pairs up clothing from Pimkie’s merchant site with each color. Pimkie will “fine tune” the colors of their collections, according to Corrigan.

This technology has completely changed the way Pimkie markets its clothes and accessories.

“The Pimkie Color Forecast tool is a way to not only claim that Pimkie is there to help its clients, but to actually really do so,” Corrigan tells Mashable. “The tool allows Pimkie to present its collection that matches the colors of the moment.”

The iPhone Color Forecast App will be available at the end of April.

Do you use social media or fashion apps to follow trends? Is this an app you will download? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, mrsraggle

More About: Business, fashion, iphone, Mobile, Social Media, social networking, software


The Social Web Remembers Dick Clark

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 02:49 PM PDT


Buddy Holly's Interview with Dick Clark


Dick Clark interviews Buddy and the Crickets.

Click here to view this gallery.

Consummate television host and broadcast pioneer Dick Clark has died at the age of 82.

Clark’s storied career included era-defining television, such as American Bandstand, Pyramid and of course Dick Clarks’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Obituaries for the 82-year old Clark are finding their way online.

Meanwhile, Clark fans from across the worlds of tech, media and entertainment are sharing their memories of Clark and his programming on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto/EdStock

More About: celebrities, dick clark, web celebrities

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Facebook Partners With ‘Apps for Good’ to Teach Unemployed Youth to Code [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 02:27 PM PDT


Apps for Good, a London-based tech course, announced it’s teaming up with Facebook to offer unemployed youth a free training course on how to design, code and build social apps. Students will learn to build apps for Facebook that focus on creating positive social change, as well as how to market their apps as entrepreneurs.

Anyone aged 16 to 24 and living in London is eligible to participate.

Apps for Good students will learn HTML5, PHP and SQL. Representatives from Dell, Thomson Reuters and Techlightenment are among the advisers. At the end of the four-day-a-week, 10-week program, course graduates will present their projects at Facebook’s London Headquarters.

Do you think coding and app development are important skills to teach young people? Let us know what you think of the program in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

More About: apps, Facebook, mashable video, Social Good


HTC One S Is Lightweight, Takes Dazzling Photos [REVIEW]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 02:04 PM PDT


In an alternate universe, the HTC One S would the manufacturer’s top-of-the-line smartphone. The phone is HTC’s thinnest handset ever, measuring just 0.31 inches, and is HTC’s first handset to ship in the United States running the newest version of Android — Ice Cream Sandwich — as well as the newest version HTC’s Android skin, HTC Sense 4.0.

The phone was announced alongside the quad-core HTC One X, which will take the top spot in HTC’s lineup and launch on AT&T later this month.

So how does the phone’s slim design and brand new software stack up?


Design


The first thing you’re going to notice about the HTC One S is that it’s a super-light phone. While the phone has a decent-size footprint, it weighs in at a mere 4.2 ounces and is one of the thinnest phones you can get. The One S is easy to hold and is so thin that you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket.

The HTC One S on top of the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx

The phone’s svelte form factor and unibody design (the casing is cut from a single piece of aluminum) mean that handset doesn’t have a removable battery or a microSD card slot for extra storage. All that thinness, however, doesn’t mean that you're getting a phone that’s going to break easily.

T-Mobile’s version of the HTC One S is colored gray, but it’s a gradient design that gets lighter along the casing. That gives the phone a distinctive look, and since it’s machined into the aluminum, it makes the handset seem like it can withstand being tossed around a bit. While some other Android phones have plastic backs that may break the first time they meet concrete, the One S seems like it could handle a fall or two with no problems.

The One S’s 4.3-inch qHD AMOLED (960 x 540) touchscreen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass gives the screen a much better chance of survival if it does in fact hit the sidewalk at some point in its life.

While the screen is durable, it is also a Pentile display. If you don’t know what that means, then chances are good that’s not a factor that is going to bother you. If you do, then it’s certainly something that’s going to stand out. Pentile displays are less expensive than their high-end counterparts — in this case you might see a Plus at the end of a non-Pentile screen — and display graphics a little differently.

The Pentile screen on the One S tries to give the performance of a higher-res screen with some creative pixel tricks, but it with a trade-off. When you look at a Pentile screen next to an regular LCD, the former will often look grainy, the colors may seem a little off, and icons will have a colored pixel border around them.

Pentile screen are certainly not as issue for many, but once you notice the issues they’re tough to ignore.


Storage


The phone offers 16GB of capacity (12GB of which is available for storage). Since the phone doesn’t have microSD expansion that’s the amount of storage you’re stuck with on the handset forever. That said, the One S comes with 25GB of free Dropbox cloud storage for two years. While you’ll need to be connected to the web to access that storage, it can come in handy when you find you need some additional space.


Beats Audio


The One S comes emblazoned with the Beats Audio logo on its rear and has the audio enhancement integrated across music, video, and games on the phone. Comparable to just attaching a subwoofer to your phone, Beats Audio boosts the bass and volume on your tunes — or whatever you’re listening to — in theory making it sound better.

While audio on the One S sounds great, the specific Beats Audio feature is more a gimick than anything else, and certainly isn’t worth writing home about.


Camera


The 8-megapixel built-in camera on the One S is one of the best we’ve seen in a smartphone, including the HTC Titan II that boasts a whopping 16-megapixel resolution. The phone has its own dedicated piece of hardware HTC is calling ImageChip and works alongside HTC’s new ImageSense software.

What all that means is that you can take some pretty amazing photos with the handset that rival those you might be able to capture with a point-and-shoot camera. The camera has an F/2.0 28mm wide-angle lens giving it an advantage when capturing photos in low-light situations, and when you do snap those low-light pictures the One S has a "Smart Flash" with seven different levels of light so you get just the right amount of brightness to capture the perfect shot.

The phone takes pictures instantly, allowing for capturing a moment on the fly, and has a burst mode where you can capture multiple shots at once and select your favorite from the group (or save the series). Photos can also be captured while shooting 1080p high-definition video.

The camera also has a number of built-in effects such as Vignette, Vintage and Negative for taking artsy Instagramesque shots.


Software


The HTC One S runs Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android. If you haven’t tried out Ice Cream Sandwich yet then it’s everything you’ve always wished Android would be. The phone’s 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor keeps you zipping along, and HTC’s updated version of Sense, HTC Sense 4.0, helps Android newbies navigate their phone.

If you currently have a phone running an older version of Sense (or an older version of Android) then the One S will be a breath of fresh air on both accounts.


Worth the cash?


If you’re a T-Mobile customer, then the HTC One S is hands-down one of the best smartphone options out there. The handset is lightweight without being flimsy, has a super-speedy interface, and one of the best camera’s we’ve seen on a smartphone.

The HTC One S lands on T-Mobile on April 25 for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in-rebate card with qualifying two-year agreement.

More About: android, htc, HTC One S, ice cream sandwich, T-Mobile

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Can Instagram’s Mobile-Only Strategy Work for Other Apps?

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 01:45 PM PDT


Among Facebook‘s motives for buying Instagram, the photo-sharing app’s success on mobile was clearly a big draw.

In the short year-and-a-half since its launch, Instagram has grown to 30 million users — and did it all without a website.

The app only lives on mobile and, until launching an Android version earlier this month, could only be downloaded on iOS devices. Photos can be uploaded to a user’s Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social presences. However, there’s no database of Instagram photos or even user profiles that can be found on the web. While independent developers have created websites to accompany the app, there is no Instagram interface for users to access online. It’s a world that exists only in the palm of your hand; It’s mobile-only.

For those trying to make sense of that $1 billion price tag, this raises a number of questions. Do you need a website or can a mobile app succeed on its own? Is this a viable strategy for other apps or is Instagram truly an anomaly?

We asked a few mobile experts to share their opinions on Instagram and whether mobile-only is really the next frontier for social networks.


Mobile Is Everywhere


Mobile-only is totally a viable strategy. I think a lot of smart, educated people underestimate the potential of mobile because they spend all day in front of desktop and laptop computers.

White collar analysts often overlook the fact that the mobile phone is the primary computing device for many, if not most, people. If you spend all day on your feet waiting tables, working construction, or tending patients, why wouldn’t you buy your plane tickets, iTunes songs, and new shoes on your mobile phone? To understand the potential of mobile, all you need to do is, next Friday night, take a second to look up from your mobile to notice that no one else is.

Brett Martin, Founder and CEO, Sonar


The Web Has Velocity


I think it’s misleading to say that Instagram saw incredible success without a website. A large driver of growth for Instagram was the ability for users to syndicate their photos to Twitter and Facebook, which then led people to the companion Instagram photo page on the web. While that web companion may have not been robust, it was critical as it was the asset Instagram users were building by using the mobile app.

Mobile apps are terrific for publishing, but I believe they require a web companion to create a fully circular and viral loop. It’s very difficult to grow virally without giving your users something they want to share via Facebook and Twitter.

Bart Stein, Co-founder, Stamped


Focus on a Compelling Experience


I think a “read-only” website is sufficient in many cases. A basic viewable website allows a mobile app to reach the open web and provide registered users and non-users alike a consistent viewing experience when you share your photos using links on the web or social platforms like Twitter or Facebook. To share photos or interact with these photos, you can install the native mobile app for the full capabilities and rich experience as a registered user.

There isn’t a single right answer. It all depends on how much interaction across the web your mobile app requires to make it a compelling experience for people who often use multiple social networks.

Steve Jang, Co-founder, Chief Product Designer and CEO, SoundTracking


Mobile Gives Us Superpowers


Instagram made a smart bet that we currently have more spare attention — more emotional and cognitive bandwidth — while using our mobile phones than we do when viewing a website on a desktop browser.

My iPhone gives me superpowers. My computer needs things from me. A kind of emotional transference then happens when looking at content on my mobile phone, it’s a treat to stay a little longer. I feel like I’m being let in on a secret. If you’re trying to discern a launch or product strategy, the baked-in intimacy and ubiquity of mobile shouldn’t be ignored.

Jennifer Brook, Interaction Design Lead, Method


Content Can Dictate the Platform


I think any app that is built around taking photos and videos or location can forgo a website. Mobile apps excel at these things.

I tend to think of a website (or a mobile app for that matter) as a means to an end — offering a feature or experience to the user. If a website is not critical to the experience you’re building, you may be able to skip it, which can save a lot of time and energy, allowing development to focus on the core product.

Andy Mroczkowski, Co-founder, MindSnacks


Consider Your Community


I don’t think success with a mobile-only strategy is limited to Instagram. One of my favorite examples is an app called Grindr. I don’t know what Grindr would be like with a website. There would be so many things that could go wrong.

The difference with Instagram is, yes, it’s app-only but you can share things online. All the cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook means nothing if people can’t see the content on the web. It’s one thing to have mobile be your focus, it’s another to eschew the web entirely in favor of the app because you’re cutting your content off from a significant number of people.

Benjamin Jackson, iOS Consultant


I, along with Brett Martin, Co-founder and CEO of Sonar, Steve Jang, Co-founder, Chief Product Designer and CEO of Schematic Labs and Bart Stein, Co-founder of Stamped, will be exploring mobile-only social networking at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. We’ll discuss why they chose to create apps, best practices for maintaining them and, of course, what other startups might take away from the Facebook-Instagram deal. See below for all the details.


Event Information


Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.

You can see our full agenda of topics and speakers here.


A Look Back at Last Year's Mashable Connect



1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla




Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

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Supporting Sponsors


Image courtesy of iStockphoto, theasis

More About: features, instagram, mashable connect, MindSnacks, Sonar, soundtracking, stamped


Cats in Space: The Feline Frontier [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 01:15 PM PDT

Question: How do you make a video guaranteed to be a viral hit?

Start with cats, obviously.

But what then? Dastoli Digital hit the mark by marrying kitties with a masterful riff on ’60s space operas, like the original Star Trek. The high production values don’t hurt either.

SEE ALSO: 25 Outstanding Kitty-Themed Tumblrs

The result? Cats in Space, likely the greatest YouTube video in the known universe.

More About: cats, videos, viral, YouTube

For more Video coverage:


Power Your Party Soundtrack With the Sun

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 12:57 PM PDT


The Summer Gadget Series is presented by the Galaxy Nexus from Sprint. Android 4.0, Google Wallet and Google Play make it pure Google. Truly Unlimited data from Sprint makes it unstoppable. Check it out.

eton-rukus-solar-nyc-600

Product: Eton Rukus Solar

Price: $150

What It’s Good For: Sharing music with others anywhere by pairing wirelessly with your phone. If the sun’s up, the party can keep going for hours.

Who It’s Good For: Anyone who wants an easy way to add music to an outdoor gathering.

Limitations: There’s no radio on board, so the Rukus is useless without a Bluetooth-enabled player.

Bottom Line: For the size, sound and price, nothing beats this sleek little number and creates an instant party wherever you are — especially without needing an outlet or batteries.


A Closer Look at the Eton Rukus Solar


Have you ever tried to use your iPhone‘s speaker in a party situation? It’s ridiculously inadequate, which is why scores of speaker docks exist. However, those are often tethered to a wall via a power socket, and even if they’re portable, there’s the battery issue: They either run out of power quickly or (if they can store a decent charge) make the speaker prohibitively heavy.

Eton, a company that’s known more for emergency radio gear, has an iPhone speaker that aims solve both the power and portability issues: The Eton Rukus Solar (about $150 at Amazon) extremely light, easy to use and — best of all — solar-powered.

It’s not proper to call the Rukus Solar a dock, since you connect your music player via Bluetooth. Of course, that kind of assumes your music player is also your phone, but for most people that’s probably true (iPod Touches are welcome as well). If you’re rocking with an iPod Nano, Shuffle or Classic, there’s an auxiliary jack for you to plug in (no cable included). You also get a three-month subscription to MOG’s paid service when you buy.


Solar Party


Almost the entire topside of the Rukus is taken up by its solar panel, which measures 8.5 x 4.75 inches and charges the battery fully in about six hours (there’s also an AC adapter for charging inside). However, the panel only charges the battery in bright sunlight — when it’s getting enough light to juice up, an icon appears on the small E Ink display. The panel is actually pretty easily scratched up, but that doesn’t appear to affect its performance.

At about four pounds, the speaker is extremely portable — even my two-year-old son had no problems toting it around. I also appreciated that the carrying handle is built into the design, so there’s no chance of wearing it out. Pairing your phone is easy (as Bluetooth pairing goes), and there’s a little sleeve in back of the Rukus where you can stow it to ensure the music won’t stop.

SEE ALSO: HANDS ON: Portable Speaker Creates Big Sound on Any Flat Surface [PICS & VIDEO]
I took the Rukus Solar out to one of New York City’s many parks on a sunny afternoon to see how it held up in the urban outdoors. Its unusual shape turned a few heads, and when I turned up the volume, many more were curious.

The Rukus never gets too loud, which can be a relief, although it also means it’s not the best choice for your epic bush party. But it’s perfect for small gatherings (think picnics, visits to the beach or weekend camping trips), and if you keep it in the sun, the music will go on and on.

Actually, check that. While the Rukus was lying in the sun on a rock and with my Pandora U2 station cranked to the max, it appeared it was using more energy than was being absorbed. That said, you’ll still get hours of playback, even if you really want to rock out.


Going the Distance


The Rukus has a few extra features for convenience, too. There’s a USB port in back for charging up your phone, and a button on the panel lets you cut off the charge anytime. A bass boost button will pump up the low end, and it does a good job of adding some extra oomph without noticeable distortion (at least in an outdoor environment).

I was impressed by the range of the Bluetooth connection. Paired with my iPhone 4S, the speaker kept playing even when I walked away about 70 feet. Stepping back into range, the iPhone re-acquired the connection quickly.

If there’s one strike against the Rukus, it’s that there’s no AM/FM radio on board. It’s not like those components add much complexity, and why not have the option? As it is, if your iPhone ever quits, the party’s over.

Still, the Rukus Solar is easily the most practical outdoor iPhone speaker out there. Some may play louder, last longer or be lighter, but as a package that combines the best in portability and good sound, nothing beats something this sleek and creates an instant party wherever you are.


Eton Rukus Solar




The Eton Rukus Solar pairs with a phone or media player via Bluetooth, charging up from its solar panel on the back.

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Series presented by the Sprint Galaxy Nexus


 

The Summer Gadget Series is presented by the Galaxy Nexus from Sprint. Android 4.0, Google Wallet and Google Play make it pure Google. Truly Unlimited data from Sprint makes it unstoppable. Check it out.

More About: audio, bluetooth, Eton, iPhone speaker, review, Rukus Solar, solar power, Summer Gadget Series


Facebook’s Analytics Tool for Ads Will Soon Measure Actions Other Than ‘Likes’

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 12:36 PM PDT

Action Measurement for Marketers

In a few weeks, Facebook will introduce a feature within its ads management platform that will allow marketers to see exactly how their Pages’ fans are responding to their ads.

The new feature — “Action Measurement” — will appear as a column and pie chart in Facebook’s Ads Manager and will help marketers tailor ads for relevant consumers.

“This isn’t just an analytics feature; it’s an optimization feature,” David Baser, product manager for Facebook’s Page Insights, told Mashable ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

Traditionally, marketers use Facebook’s Ads Manager to create ads, target them to specific demographics and measure the performance of a campaign. With the new feature, marketers will be able to dive deeper into user-engagement data and go beyond the typical stats regarding inline actions.

The actions that Facebook will measure and that marketers will be able to optimize are:

  • People talking about this (includes Page likes, Page post likes, Page post shares, comments, @ mentions, check-ins, photo tags, offers shared, offers claimed)
  • App installs
  • App used
  • Credit spend events (number of times someone uses credits in the app)
  • Credit spend amount (value of credits that were spent in the app)
  • Number of RSVPs

This mock-up from Facebook shows stats for an ad promoting a Page post. The Actions column lists 257, the number of different behaviors fans performed on the post — not the ad for which promoted the post. On the bottom right, a pie chart shows the top actions and a link is available for marketers to see a full report of all actions.


Take a museum’s brand page, for example. A museum can run a campaign touting its Facebook app tab where people can buy museum tickets. In the past, Baser says, that museum could see how many clicks the ad got, but with the Actions data, the museum will see how many people used the app as well.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Ad Engagement Down 8% in U.S.

Stats about actions will be available for marketers to review in 1-day, 7-day or 28-day increments.

Google on Wednesday also introduced a plan, dubbed Brand Activate, to measure online advertising that it hopes will become the industry standard.

Will this Actions feature be useful for your or your brand? Sound off below.


BONUS: 20 Facebook Page Cover Photos to Inspire Your Brand



1. Red Bull




Not only has Red Bull taken advantage of Timeline, it has also created a scavenger hunt with prizes to get fans interacting with the company's history.

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More About: Advertising, Business, digital marketers, Facebook, facebook ads, marketers, Social Media


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