Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Camera and Two Other Stories You Need to Know”

Friday, 25 May 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Camera and Two Other Stories You Need to Know”

Facebook Camera and Two Other Stories You Need to Know

Posted: 25 May 2012 04:12 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.

Facebook Launches Camera App

Facebook has released Facebook Camera for iOS, a camera application with a close resemblance to Instagram, which Facebook recently acquired for $1 billion.

The app’s claim to fame are photo filters, which should — in theory, at least — make your photos look more attractive, but we’re not too sure Facebook Camera can compete with Instagram, whose filters are arguably much better. In any case, it’s a win-win situation for Facebook which owns both apps, and it can choose whether to push them both at the same time, merge one into the other or completely abandon one and put all its photo-nicefying eggs in one basket.

SpaceX Dragon Docking Attempt

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is attempting to dock with the International Space Station today. If successful, SpaceX would become the first private company to achieve such a feat. Watch the live video stream of the docking here.

Google Announces In-App Subscription in Google Play

Google is adding an in-app subscription option for Android apps offered through the Google Play store. Starting today, developers can use in-app billing to sell monthly or annual subscriptions from inside of their apps. The subscriptions are auto-renewing, and developers just need to set the price and billing interval, with Google Play managing the purchase transactions for them.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: android, Facebook Camera, features, first to know series, Google, mashable, SpaceX Dragon

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Watch the SpaceX Dragon’s Historic Docking Attempt Live [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 02:38 AM PDT

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will today attempt to dock with the International Space Station.

If everything goes as planned, SpaceX would become the first private company to ever complete such a feat.

The docking manuevers have already started — the Dragon is currently some 350 meters from the ISS — and the ISS’ robotic arm is expected to grab hold of Dragon at 9 a.m. EDT. Full berthing is expected two hours later.

Following a successful docking, the astronauts aboard the ISS will open the Dragon’s hatch the next day and unload the supplies the spacecraft is carrying.

The mission has initially suffered a series of setbacks, with several launch delays happening virtually at the last second. After the launch, however, everything else seems to be on track. You can follow SpaceX’s docking attempt in the live video above and on Twitter.

More About: ISS, NASA, SpaceX, SpaceX Dragon, trending

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New Facebook Integration Shows What Your Friends Are Learning

Posted: 25 May 2012 02:30 AM PDT

The Pinterest-like website for learning that the founders of Grockit launched Thursday now has a Facebook integration that shows your friends what you’re learning.

Learnist, the newly launched product, allows anyone to compile content pieces onto a board (they call it a “learning”) that may look familiar.

Unlike Pinterest, however, creators suggest a path in which to consume each content component. Users can check off each component as they go or "re-add" it to one of their own learnings.

The idea is to avoid the misinformation, hacked-together how-to articles and other useless content one must weed through in a typical Google search and instead provide a clear learning path that will eventually include some form of assessment.

Topics range from the frivolous — like how to find the best pizza in Brooklyn — to common core standards taught in classrooms.

Regardless of which of them you look at, you can now assure your Facebook friends you’re getting smarter.

More About: education, Grockit, learnist

Ketchup Slides Out of Bottles With LiquiGlide [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 12:02 AM PDT

Smacking the ketchup bottle to get that last dollop out is a (small) but wide spread problem most people would rather avoid. Scientists at MIT did just that and created a secret substance they dubbed LiquiGlide. Bottles are coated in the FDA-approved substance, and the ketchup just slides right out when you tilt the bottle.

The team would like to put the “super slippery” substance on numerous other bottles. The bottles for sauces alone is a $17 billion market, one of the scientists said to Fast Company.

Another substance with a similar sounding name — Liquipel — debuted at CES earlier this year. It is used for waterproofing cellphones, but like LiquiGlide, it has numerous other intended uses.

Would you like to see bottle companies adopt the LiquiGlide technology? What else do you think this could be used for? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, fotobazilio

More About: Inventions, mit

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The Game Mechanics of Customer Loyalty

Posted: 24 May 2012 09:14 PM PDT

Gabe Zichermann is a public speaker, designer, and author of the books Game-Based Marketing and Gamification by Design. Follow him @gzicherm

Most of the interest in gamification and user engagement for startups centers on customer acquisition. This is partly because of the short time around startup planning, but also the strong need to show and grow traction as quickly as possible. With startups like Foursquare, Codecademy and StackOverflow using gamification to build unprecedented early customer engagement, it’s no wonder so many founders want to talk about virality.

SEE ALSO: How to Maximize Your Facebook Engagement

But while some startups exit within 12 to 18 months without having to prove revenue models or market opportunity, many other breakthrough entrepreneurs are still running their companies after three or four years in increasingly crowded markets. These organizations must get serious about marketing, especially when subscription drives their revenue. And nothing is more important to serious marketers than loyalty — or its new-school proxy, engagement.

By definition, loyalty is expressed when a consumer chooses your product/service when other options are mostly equal. It’s a form of incremental affection whose balance can be easily disturbed. A new way of thinking about loyalty is in the framework of gamification. After all, if loyalty is about driving incremental user action in a crowded environment, gamification is able to do that and deliver viral user growth, improved satisfaction, and revenue. Here are five ways to develop loyalty, based on some of the principles of gamification.

Define the Grind

Choose a clear and easy-to-understand action as the core of your product and loyalty effort. Think checking in or tweeting. Repeating this activity regularly is called a “grind”, though it need not feel negative at all. Sometimes your experience may have multiple grinds, like posting a photo and commenting (Think Instagram or Pixable) but it’s important to think of the smallest unit of energy for users and make that as commonplace as possible. Once users are doing the grind regularly, you can begin to build other, more complex behaviors on top.

Lay Down an XP System

Next, you’ll need a point system to understand the behavior of your users. Start with what’s called XP or experience points. This is an incremental point system that tracks the behavior and knowledge of your users over time. Start by assigning each grind activity one point in your XP system.

Create Five Social Actions

Think of the top five social actions you want your users to take, and use verbs to describe them. Don’t use “buy” or “subscribe” because those are outgrowths of good engagement rather than ends in and of themselves. Concepts such as “like,” “comment,” “argue,” or “challenge” are good examples. It’s critical to think of them as social actions because they will also help you attract new users. Now, assign XP point values to each of those social actions. Consider what the relative values should be. Is creating a profile worth 10 times the commenting, or just five times. Remember this initial table of values is just a starting point and will change as you test your system.

Develop a Social Loop With Appointment Mechanics

Consider the actions you just described. How do they fit into a social loop that includes a place for emotion, expression, positive feedback and return? If they don’t contribute to this social loop, you can use this moment to try and expand or revise your design. Now, include an appointment mechanic that has users make a commitment to check in or come back on a regular basis, preferably every day (consider the power of Gilt Groupe’s noon release schedule). Because of the signal-to-noise ratio in the market, appointment mechanics can be extraordinarily powerful, and you should build notifications into your product as soon as it’s practical.

Have a Reward System Based on SAPS

Beyond the intrinsic rewards of your experience, users will expect to receive a tangible benefit for their good behavior. Now’s a good time to start thinking about what that looks like, but turn the model on its head. Use SAPS: Status, Access, Power and Stuff to drive your design. This list is in order of stickiness and cost-effectiveness as tools for behavior change.

Tangible rewards like merchandise, discounts, and cash equivalents are a default concept in loyalty program design but are increasingly becoming less relevant in the gamified world. Offer your users emotionally meaningful rewards. Think of experiences like Nike Plus and StackOverflow as good examples of stuff-free reward models.

Obviously, many concepts that are critical to good gamified engagement aren’t included in this discussion, including the importance of a redeemable point system (potentially used to redeem for rewards in SAPS models), monetizing loyalty itself (by selling virtual items or points to third parties) and demonstrable status items – e.g. physical loyalty cards. But as with all elements of good startup design, the first step is to get the core design and iterate in an agile fashion. With Gamification, startups can give major loyalty programs a run for their money, focusing on great design, user engagement and scalable, non-cash rewards.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hocus-focus

More About: contributor, features, gamification, loyalty program, Startups

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Tech Has Transformed How We Find Missing Children

Posted: 24 May 2012 08:16 PM PDT

A former Manhattan store owner confessed Thursday morning to strangling 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 — the boy whose disappearance sparked the now-famous face on the milk carton.

If you can’t remember the last time you saw someone’s face on a milk carton, or never even heard of the concept, there’s a reason: Technology and social media have drastically changed how we search for abducted persons.

Police are still investigating the Patz case and have yet to confirm whether the Manhattan man’s alleged confession will lead to anything new. But its resurgence has brought attention to the methods now being used to find those who go missing, as well as the future of these alert systems.

Amber Alerts, named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, kidnapped and murdered in 1996, are the most well-known source of alerts about missing children. They are most frequently broadcasted on traffic signs, as well as radio and TV.

In January 2011, Amber Alerts came to Facebook when the social network teamed up with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Facebook set up 53 different Amber Alert pages, one for each of the 50 states, as well as pages for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Meanwhile, mobile apps to help track down missing persons are multiplying. Family Tracker, for example, allows parents to keep track of the whereabouts of their children and helped a mother from Atlanta, Georgia, find her lost son earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: Can Social Media Help Solve Crimes?

Yet even with the availability of apps and Amber Alerts on social media, they are still passive alert systems, according to Morgan Wright, Chief Crime Fighter of Crowd Sourced Investigations, a soon to be launched website helping to connect law enforcement with social networks.

“The most important thing it [an alert] has to do is create awareness. If I don’t see the information, I can’t act on it,” Wright told Mashable in a recent interview.

But unless someone is already actively using an app like Family Tracker, for example, or happens to follow Amber Alerts on Facebook or Twitter, he has no way of finding this information from technology or social media alone.

And even with Amber Alerts, says Wright, there’s only one agency in each state that has the authority to release what will eventually become an Amber Alert. That means that an Amber Alert itself is something that is very specific.

Missing person alert systems, Wright says, must evolve to become “more rapid, and accelerate public safety by being accessible on demand.”

In other words, instead of a person clicking on an app or on a Facebook status to look up missing person information, something like push notifications to cellphones might be more effective — because an emergency can happen at any time, not just because someone might be thinking about it during a given moment.

But Wright is the first to admit the obvious — push notifications “relies upon those folks registering to receive those alerts.”

The next step, then, would be for these alerts to become mandated by law. The question is, will the law or policy allow that?

Federal officials announced earlier this month that emergency alerts by text message — including Amber Alerts — would come to some cellphone users in New York and Washington in the event of a national or regional emergency.

There is no word yet on whether other states will adopt the alert system. This still doesn’t offer much help to local officers, unless they have a case that’s garnered national attention.

That’s where Wright sees Crowd Sourced Investigations filling in. “What we offer law enforcement is what they can’t have at the federal level — networks of networks,” he told Mashable.

Crowd Sourced Investigations will require people to log in with their Facebook information. Then, if an emergency does occur, Crowd Sourced Investigations will be able to tap into a person’s identifying factors, such as schools attended or interests — which will inevitably help the organization tap into a person’s networks.

Wright admits privacy concerns, especially with a Facebook login, might be an obstacle. “We have to be very judicious about getting your private information,” he said.

The priority, however, is to identify influencers and start a domino effect.

For abducted children and other emergencies, “the thing that helps you the most is the ability to generate immediate awareness throughout the community of interest,” Wright said.

With social media and technology expanding that notion of community, the ability to take alert information and bring it into a digital network is key.

The Crowd Sourced Investigations website is expected to launch within the next two months.

Would you participate in Crowd Sourced Investigations? Do you have other ideas to help spread awareness for missing persons? Let us know in the comments.

More About: amber alert, emergency response, lifestyle, Social Media, technology, trending

Pinterest Users: Find Out When Your Items Are on Sale

Posted: 24 May 2012 07:24 PM PDT

Want to know when items you pin on Pinterest go on sale?

Now you can — up to a point — thanks to a new feature launched this week at a site called Lyst.

Lyst, a London-based startup, is a little like Pinterest. The site invites you to follow designers, stores, bloggers and your friends, from which it creates a feed of clothing and accessories you can add to your own “lyst.”

If an item on your lyst is discounted, you’ll be notified by email.

Now, if you connect your Pinterest account, you’ll receive an email notification when an item you’ve pinned on Pinterest goes on sale, too, so long as that item is also indexed on Lyst.

Lyst’s index is limited largely to fashion brands and retailers — so if you mostly pin books or furniture, this tool isn’t going to be terribly useful to you.

To see which of your pins are recognized by Lyst, check out your “Collections” under “My Lyst.”

A bonus: If an item you’ve pinned from one retailer (say, Neiman Marcus) goes on sale somewhere else (at Nordstrom, or Endless), you’ll still get notified.

Lyst also offers a Runway Tracking tool that lets you know when your favorite runway looks arrive in stores. The tool was launched during New York Fashion Week last September.

The London-based startup is currently exploring additional methods for tracking the fashion goods you may be interested in purchasing.

More About: fashion, lyst, pinterest, shopping

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Boomshakalaka! Blake Griffin Mashed With NBA Jam Is YouTube Gold

Posted: 24 May 2012 07:07 PM PDT

Coaching tip: Combine the best basketball video game ever with footage of today’s most electrifying dunker to create Internet gold.

That’s what the online sports media network SB Nation did in the video above, laying NBA Jam visuals and sound effects over a few of high flyer Blake Griffin’s best dunks of the season.

Watch through the end of the short clip for a special surprise. The video was uploaded to YouTube earlier Thursday, so has not yet gone viral, but the guess here is it’s already heating up.

Griffin’s dunks actually have a bit of social media history to them. In February, he threw down a truly epic jam over the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins later called out NBA MVP LeBron James in the media for tweeting his amazement at the dunk in a pretty funny moment of sports and social media intersecting.

What’s your best NBA Jam memory? Let us know in the comments.

More About: sports, viral videos, YouTube

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In-App Ads: Balancing the Needs of Advertisers and Publishers

Posted: 24 May 2012 06:38 PM PDT

Watch previous episodes of Behind the Launch here!

In Mashable‘s new video series, Behind the Launch, we’re taking cameras behind the scenes at Vungle, an in-app video advertising startup. New episodes air every Monday and Wednesday, but we’re running bonus footage throughout the series to provide a deeper look into the startup experience.

This week, Vungle hired David Oh as director of business development. Now, David and Colin Behr — who joined Vungle as “the closer” a few weeks ago — are fleshing out the business model and forecasting revenues for Vungle.

“I’m very bullish on all of this,” says Behr.

Check out the extended footage above, and join the conversation on Twitter, #BehindTheLaunch.

About Vungle

Vungle is a San Francisco-based company that purveys mobile video ads to promote apps. Just last week, Vungle announced it had raised $2 million from big Silicon Valley and Alley names: Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, Charles Hudson’s SoftTechVC's, Maynard Webb, Scott McNealy and Tim Draper. Vungle also has offices in the UK and Pakistan.

Zain Jaffer, CEO and Co-Founder — A successful and zany entrepreneur since age 15, Zain launched his first Internet company and built-up an impressive list of clients, including Google, Mozilla Firefox, MTV and Hilary Duff, before his 18th birthday. British.

Jack Smith, Co-Founder — Self-described lunatic marketer and hacker. Started his career as a freelance web designer at age 13, founded a video startup, MediaRoots, in college. Met Zain at King’s College London University in 2009. British.

Bryant Chou, CTO — Full stack engineer and software architect with more than five years of experience developing mobile apps. He’s an enthusiastic traveler who’ll share his travel tales with you over a cold beer. American.

Marta Bulaich, Chief Yoga Officer — Marta’s first job was with the masterminds behind the TV infomercial legends Chia Pet and Clapper. After a career of working with various startups and venture capital firm, she came to Vungle to do public relations and center their chi in full lotus. American.

Ben Lindsey, Senior Software Engineer — A veteran of four Silicon Valley startups with experience in Internet advertising, large scale databases and agile programming. When not slinging code, you cam find him cooking organic food, listening to electronica, backpacking around the world or running marathons.

Colin Behr, Director of Business Development — Previously founded an Internet company, CyberPlanet Ltd, with Zain in 2004, and then moved to San Francisco to start another venture. Colin eventually went to University but dropped out after speaking with Zain about his new venture, Vungle.

Ray Myers, Software Engineer — 25-year-old Linux geek who loves robotics and has been programming since he was 7. Ray is a Shotokan karate third-degree Black Belt, but you can usually find him at his computer, trying to make robots bend to his will. American.

David Oh, Director of Business Development — David has over 11 years of Jedi experience working in the video game industry. By the power of the Force, David trained and honed his skills in marketing, game production and business development. His large head contains an enormous brain that allows him to craft complex business models and strategic partnerships. He has traveled all over the galaxy crafting business deals with leading brands such as Ubisoft, Google, HP and Humana. David enjoys mountain biking and hiking in Tatooine, with his sidekick Sarah, Empress of Chihuahuas.

Sarah Vungle, Resident Pooch — Sarah spends her days guarding the Vungle fortress and keeping peace amongst the engineering and business tribes. She enjoys battling the evil empire and licking the soles of her paws.

Series presented by Internet Explorer


Behind the Launch is presented by Internet Explorer. Learn how IE is building a more beautiful web through hardware accelerated graphics and modern web standards like HTML5. Get IE9 today or download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features the new IE10 to see where we're headed.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, JTSorrell

More About: Behind the Launch Series, features, in-app advertising, mashable, mashable video, Vungle

Mayor Arrested for Hacking Website that Tried to Recall Him

Posted: 24 May 2012 06:11 PM PDT

A New Jersey mayor and his son were arrested Thursday by the FBI for allegedly infiltrating and sabotaging a website tied to an effort to recall him.

The story gives a new and troubling definition to the term “political hack.”

The FBI has accused Felix Roque, mayor of West New York, N.J., and his 22-year-old son of illegally canceling the domain name registration of, a site that wanted Roque taken out of office in a recall election earlier this year, according to Politico.

Currently, the site is loading as an an error-laden landing page.

Roque’s 22-year-old son Joseph was the mastermind behind the hack. According to a criminal complaint made public this afternoon, he learned how to penetrate email accounts and Recallroque’s host,, by searching for instructions on the web.

Roque, however, didn’t stop there. After taking down the site, he called the owner of the site, who was identified only as a government official in Hudson County, N.J., to intimidate him. Roque told the owner that the site was removed by “high government officials” and that “everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque.”

He also said he had a friend at the CIA, which is how he “got information,” and that Roque’s own activities weren’t “very kosher.”

The mayor and his son are being charged with gaining unauthorized access to computers in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers; causing damage to protected computers; and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The arrests were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman.

"In this case, the elected leader of West New York and his son allegedly hacked into computers to intimidate constituents who were simply using the Internet to exercise their Constitutional rights to criticize the government," said Fishman.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RapidEye

More About: cybersecurity, Politics, US

Mashable’s Exclusive Q&A With Stan Lee: Here’s a Teaser [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 May 2012 05:47 PM PDT

Mashable has interviewed plenty of luminaries in its time, but few can compete with comic book legend Stan Lee — the creative force behind iconic Marvel characters including Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and many more.

We sat down with Stan via Skype video chat for an exclusive Q&A Friday, and we’ll bring you the full text shortly. In the meantime, enjoy this teaser video, above.

What’s the occasion? In September, Lee will launch his own comic convention — Stan Lee’s Comikaze, Presented by POW! Entertainment.

The convention will use the location-based social engagement app Buzzmob to provide exclusive content to fans at the show as well as connect those unable to attend.

Lee and Comikaze CEO Regina Carpinelli talked social media (he’s active on Twitter at @therealstanlee and just launched a YouTube channel), how technology has changed the comic book industry and what visitors can expect at the convention.

Lee also answered questions submitted by Mashable readers. Check back later for the full scoop. As Lee would say: excelsior!

More About: comics, Marvel, Social Media, Stan Lee

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Facebook Camera App: This Is Why Instagram Was Worth $1 Billion

Posted: 24 May 2012 05:34 PM PDT

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

Instagram’s jaw-dropping $1 billion price tag became a lot more understandable on Thursday with the release of Facebook Camera for iOS.

The app — which was in development before the social network made its offer to buy Instagram about six weeks ago — gives us a glimpse at how Facebook was planning to compete against the young mobile-first startup.

It also showcases just how important Instagram is to Facebook’s future.

Instagram’s Success Was Not a Fluke

When Facebook purchased Instagram back in April, I believed the service was worth every penny (even while pleading with Facebook not to ruin the Instagram experience).

After the release of Facebook Camera, I’m even more convinced that Instagram could be Facebook’s YouTube — in other words, an acquisition that becomes monumentally important to it future, and helps it solve a problem it couldn’t solve on its own (like Google Video before Google bought YouTube.)

Facebook Camera isn’t a bad application — it just isn’t good enough to compete with Instagram. After installing Facebook Camera [iTunes link] and using it for a few minutes, I couldn’t help but think “Facebook was going to fight Instagram with this?”

Elements of the user interface are reminiscent of Path, the last iteration of Gowalla (before it’s founders left for Facebook and the app was shutdown) and even the latest Google+ iPhone update. It’s not unattractive.

Having said that, the app is an Instagram clone — and a second-rate one at that.

The user controls for taking photos and applying filters could use some serious love. Facebook’s filters are awful. Instagram can be criticized for over-reliance on the toy camera aesthetic, but at least its filters actually make your photograph look demonstrably different.

The filters in Facebook Camera are really more like white-balance settings, and poor ones at that.

It’s unlikely that Facebook Camera could have taken much momentum away from Instagram. It’s true that the Camera app is infinitely better than the photo functionality built into Facebook for iOS — but that’s not saying much.

Facebook Needs Strong Mobile Leadership

In it S-1 filings and during its IPO roadshow, Facebook continued to reiterate the role that mobile plays in the company’s future roadmap. As soon as the dust from the IPO settles, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to focus on fixing its mobiles apps.

Facebook is not a small company. It employs thousands of talented engineers and product managers. From the outside, it looks like the company could benefit from some strong oversight on its various mobile initiatives.

If Facebook is going to achieve mobile dominance, it needs to have a Steve Jobs-like clear vision. That means recognizing whether or not it makes sense to release an also-ran photo app when you just spent $1 billion buying the competition.

Some argue that the hard work that went into Facebook Camera necessitates its release. I disagree. If Facebook is concerned about losing ground in the mobile photo space, releasing a knock-off standalone app isn’t going to do it any favors.

If anything, the company would have been better off simply integrating the truly excellent photo-only browse mode into the main Facebook app — in other words, improving the main show first.

Facebook’s Mobile Photo Potential is Vast

Despite my kvetching, and the seemingly unfocused mobile strategy taking place at Facebook HQ, I still believe that mobile photos can be a big opportunity for the service.

The one feature of Facebook Camera I like is the ability to browse through a photo-only feed from my friends. For me, the best part of Instagram has been using the app to catch up on what my friends are doing, and to see their lives in a more interesting context. Facebook Camera brings that same functionality, but it focuses on the Facebook network.

Even better, because the app pulls in photos posted using the Facebook Social Graph API, it’s not just Facebook photos that appear in the stream — it’s photos posted to Facebook from other apps. That means I see photos from Foodspotting, Camera+ — and more often than not, Instagram — within the Facebook Camera app.

This type of broad integration was something that Instagram was in the process of adding. In March, it opened up its publish-to API to other app developers. But Facebook already has APIs locked and loaded.

Now, just imagine what would happen if Instagram users had the option to view the entire photo feed of their Facebook friends (or just those that they follow on Instagram) inside the best photo sharing app for mobile.

Rather than trying to create a clone of an existing product, Facebook should focus on how to bring its core strengths — namely the size of its network and app developer base — to its existing products.

What do you make of the Camera app? Was it worth finishing it, or should its features have been folded into the main Facebook app? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, instagram, Opinion, trending

21 Brilliant Reflection Photos From the Mashable Community

Posted: 24 May 2012 05:17 PM PDT

Reflections are all around us. Outside Mashable HQ here in New York City, we are in the midst of a rainstorm. When you gaze into the puddles near 23rd Street from just the right angle, you can see reflections of the Flatiron Building or the Met Life Tower.

For the Mashable Photo Challenge this week, we asked you to send us photos of the reflections around you. Using reflections in photography is a simple, yet effective tool. As Mashable reader Jonny Luis told us, “I like reflections because they are able to give any subject, as big as the Golden Gate Bridge or as small as a flower, a human-like quality by allowing the viewer to admire the object’s beauty and power, regardless of its size.”

SEE ALSO: 10 Super Hi-Res Photos That Will Blow Your Mind

Over the course of the past week, we were excited to receive your photos of both physical and metaphorical reflections. Our community found reflections in nature, architecture and the people around them.

Check out these reflection photos from the Mashable community, and get ready for next week’s photo challenge: action shots.

Jonny Luis

"I like reflections because they are able to give any subject, as big as the Golden Gate Bridge or as small as a flower, a human like quality by allowing the viewer to admire the object's beauty and power regardless of its size."

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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Campaign Takes On Big Tobacco — By Supporting It [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 May 2012 04:47 PM PDT

A political campaign in California aims to increase the price of cigarettes by one dollar and use the proceeds to fund cancer research. They’ve released this hilarious video on Tuesday to get the word out, and it’s already approaching 100,000 views.

In the satirical video, a group of Californians explain why they’re in favor of Big Tobacco.

“I support Big Tobacco because I love their ads,” says one woman in the video. “And so do my kids.”

Chris Lehman, campaign manager for the effort, considers the YouTube video an effective way to fight the financial behemoth that is the tobacco lobby.

"Let's be clear: we can't match Big Tobacco, which has contributed more than $40 million to the
opposition," said Lehman.

"But what we can do is rely on thousands of smart Californians who see through Big Tobacco's smokescreen and will help spread our messages online."

SEE ALSO: Tech Luminaries Sing SF Mayor Ed Lee's Praises [VIDEO]

Fun fact: The ad was created by Portal A, the team behind the much-loved “Ed Lee is 2 Legit 2 Quit” video, a Mashable favorite.

Do you think this video will help or hurt the campaign? Sound off in the comments below.

More About: Politics, US, Video, viral, YouTube

Dish Sues Fox to Protect Its Ad-Zapping DVR

Posted: 24 May 2012 04:33 PM PDT

Dish Network fired back at Fox Broadcasting on Thursday — by filling a suit of its own to protect its Hopper product that lets users fast-forward through ads.

In the initial suit filed by Fox, the network claims Dish’s Hopper — which lets users stream shows commercial-free — infringes on its contract with the satellite company.

Dish Network filed a suit asking a federal judge to rule that the ad-hopping product does not violate any copyright laws. Included in Dish’s suit is CBS, ABC, and Comcast Corp., the Los Angeles Times reported.

Dish sent a statement to Mashable explaining that the company’s subscribers fees include “significant retransmission fees” that Dish ends up paying to the networks.

“Although the broadcasters have made much of their content available for free using sites such as Hulu, they have continued to demand substantial increases in their retransmission fees,” the statement notes.

"Consumers should be able to fairly choose for themselves what they do and do not want to watch," David Shull, DISH senior vice president of programming, noted in the statement.

"Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control."

Fox responded back to Mashable saying, “We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, DISH Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.”

Deadline reports that the product also lets users record a show and skip over the advertisements two hours after the recording. Clearly, this would be a problem for broadcasting companies that make a huge profit from ad slots.

When television executive met with advertisers in New York this month, Paul Lee, the president of ABC Entertainment Group, reportedly said the company is “not supportive of anything that doesn't support our advertisers."

Numerous TV executives echoed that statement, essentially saying ads pay for their programming.

What do you think about this lawsuit? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, courtneyK

More About: Advertising, dish network, Fox Broadcasting

Mark Zuckerberg’s Wedding: What Green Day’s Singer Performed

Posted: 24 May 2012 04:03 PM PDT

Green Day

If you got married the day after your company went public and was valued at over $100 billion, wouldn’t you want the frontman of your favorite band to entertain guests at your wedding?

Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of pop punk band Green Day, reportedly performed at Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise wedding on Saturday to his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan. The private wedding was held in the backyard of their home in Palo Alto, Calif. in front of about 100 guests.

Guests arrived to their home under the impression that they were celebrating Chan's medical school graduation. Zuckerberg first announced the news by adding the event to his Facebook Timeline.

A clip posted on TMZ indicates that Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong played the song “Last Night on Earth” for the couple, who shared a dance in front of clapping guests.

Zuckerberg has long been a big fan of Green Day. Not only does he Like the band on Facebook, he has referenced his love for the group in presentations.

And Zuckerberg has developed a close friendship with Armstrong over the years, according to a People report.

SEE ALSO: Who is Zuckerberg's Bride, Priscilla Chan?

“Mark wanted me to play this song,” Armstrong said. “This song is one I wrote for my wife of 18 years.” He also called it a “wedding present to a friend.”

Zuckerberg and Chan — who met while attending Harvard — have been together for nine years.

If you were a billionaire, who would you want to play at your wedding? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, facebook ipo, mark zuckerberg, Social Media, social networking

Obama Answers Twitter Questions Himself

Posted: 24 May 2012 03:39 PM PDT

President Barack Obama is no stranger to Twitter; he held his first Town Hall on the microblogging network, at the White House, complete with Master of Ceremonies Jack Dorsey, just under a year ago.

But that was easy — Obama got as much time and space as he wanted to answer the questions posed on Twitter. How about the president replying in tweet form, in real time?

Thursday, with his reelection campaign getting into gear, Obama decided to respond to a few questions via Twitter while in Iowa — and this time, it was his fingers on the keys.

The Q&A session just ended, so check out what the President had to say in our Storify below. How do you think Obama did with a 140-character limit? Did he get his points across effectively, or use way too many abbreviations? Let us know in the comments.

More About: barack obama, Politics, Storify, trending, Twitter

5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Appliances Smarter

Posted: 24 May 2012 03:04 PM PDT

Electric Imp

What it is: A card that can add connected control to any appliance.

How you can use it: Until hardware manufacturers add Imp-compatible slots to their machines, you can't. When they do, you'll be able to control those appliances from the web or a mobile app.

Price: $25 plus a monthly subscription fee.

Status: Electric Imp announced it had raised $7.9 Million of venture capital in May. According to the company's website, developer preview Imps and developer kits will be available beginning in late June.

Click here to view this gallery.

Connecting your home to the Internet doesn’t necessarily involve purchasing new, expensive appliances and gadgets.

A growing handful of startups are creating affordable connected sensors that have unusual, useful applications. They can, for instance, alert you when the wash is done, launch the sprinkler system when its hot out or tweet you when a package arrives at your door.

SEE ALSO: Refrigerator Magnet Lets You Order a Pizza in One Tap [VIDEO]

Check out the five options for adding connectivity to your home highlighted in the gallery above, and let us know in the comments how you would put them to use.

More About: Electric Imp, Knut, ninja blocks, smart home, twine, Wovyn

SpaceX Tweets Historic Flight to International Space Station [PICS]

Posted: 24 May 2012 02:28 PM PDT

1. Watching the Launch

"So, what were the ISS astronauts doing during @SpaceX's historic #Dragon launch this week? The same thing we were!" - @NASA

Click here to view this gallery.

It’s been two days since private spaceflight company SpaceX launched its Dragon capsule on its mission to dock with the International Space Station — and though the mission isn’t complete, the company has already tweeted plenty of dramatic photos of its flight.

SpaceX and NASA have tweeted a series of photos taken by the unmanned Dragon, which could become on Friday the first ever privately built spacecraft to dock at the habitable artificial satellite.

The mission is part of an effort to test Dragon's reliability to transfer supplies to the station. By 2015, SpaceX aims to have a certified commercial spacecraft to send passengers to Earth's low orbit.

SEE ALSO: 7 Things You Need to Know About SpaceX Launch

Over the past few days, the Dragon has successfully completed a series of tests to determine if it’s ready to berth at the station. As of now, it’s on track to attach to the facility on Friday morning — a process that SpaceX says will take “extreme precision.”

SpaceX tweeted on Thursday that the most difficult part of mission is on the horizon.

Astronauts already on board the International Space Station will activate the space station's robotic arm that will reach out and attach the capsule. The following day, they will open Dragon's hatch and unload the supplies that the Dragon is carrying.

Are you following along with SpaceX’s tweets? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of SpaceX

More About: Dragon, elon musk, space, SpaceX, trending

Did Yahoo Rush Axis Out the Door Before It Was Ready?

Posted: 24 May 2012 01:59 PM PDT

Security Hole Axis 600

Yahoo’s new Axis browser has a problem. It was released last night as both an app for iOS and as an add-on for desktop browsers, but Yahoo may not have dotted all the “i’s” before launch in the latter case.

The Google Chrome extension for Axis appears to have launched with a security hole, identified by self-described “entrepreneur, hacker and blogger” Nik Cubrilovic. After downloading the extension with the intention of checking out the source code, he found that the private certificate the extension uses to authenticate itself with Google — essentially the code that performs the “handshake” that lets your computer know the download is safe — could be easily accessed by anyone.

That means if a hacker wanted to create a piece of malware that infects Chrome, they could use the certificate to make the malware seem authentic. Once it saw the certificate, Chrome would think the forged extension has been approved by Yahoo.

Cubrilovic says he tested the vulnerability by cloning the Axis extension, then emptying the content (i.e. Axis itself), replacing it with a Javascript alert. Sure enough, the extension installed perfectly as if it were a real Yahoo extension.

SEE ALSO: Yahoo Axis Shines on iPad, an Afterthought on Desktop [REVIEW]

If a hacker were to use the certificate, they could theoretically create a piece of malware that could capture all the sites a user visited, including passwords and cookies, Cubrilovic writes. A commenter on Cubrilovic’s site claims to be Ethan Batraski, Yahoo’s director of product management. He said the company would release an updated extension that would resolve the issue.

Responding to a query from Mashable, a Yahoo spokesperson said, “We recently learned of a vulnerability with Yahoo Axis on Chrome. We worked quickly to resolve the issue and have issued a new Chrome plug-in. Users who downloaded Yahoo Axis on Chrome between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. Pacific Time on May 23, 2012, are encouraged to uninstall the previous version and reinstall the new version."

A blog post from Sophos, a digital-security company, confirms Yahoo did replace the Chrome extension. However, the post says it’s unclear whether Chrome will actually know that the earlier certificate has been revoked if a user tried to install a cloned extension using it. The site recommends waiting a few days before trying out Axis for Chrome.

What do you think about how Yahoo handled the Axis launch and the security hole? Have your say in the comments.

BONUS: A Tour of Yahoo Axis

Yahoo Axis, Splash Screen

The screen that greets you when you launch Axis on iPad.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Axis, Chrome Extensions, cybersecurity, google chrome, Yahoo

‘Privacy Is Awesome’ Campaign Aims to Kill CISPA

Posted: 24 May 2012 01:50 PM PDT

Fight for the Future, a nonprofit with the self-described goal of protecting the Internet, has launched an informational campaign designed to kill off the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) once and for all.

The campaign, called “Privacy is Awesome,” says that CISPA’s been tucked into the Senate’s Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity bill, which enjoys bipartisan support in that chamber and the backing of the White House.

The only hope to kill CISPA, according to the campaign’s organizers, is for concerned Internet users to reach out to their senators during the upcoming Memorial Day recess before a vote is cast. Accordingly, their website makes it easy for users to find their senators’ contact information.

Privacy is Awesome also posted a simple, five-step process that it wants people to follow to kill the bill:

1. Call their lawmakers to tell them how they feel about CISPA
2. Email Congress about the bill
3. Go back to step one and keep calling until a face-to-face meeting is arranged
4. Donate financially to the cause
5. Share the campaign’s mission with friends and family

“This is a bill that would basically end privacy online by annihilating existing privacy laws by giving corporations immunity for sharing information with the government,” said Donny Shaw, an organizer at Fight for the Future. “We launched the site to get people to call their senators and set up meetings over Memorial Day recess so they can meet with their senators or staff and address their concerns with the bill.”

According to Shaw, lawmakers have generally been receptive to calls about Internet issues because the blowback against the Stop Online Piracy Act taught them the political power of the online community — especially during voting season.

“I think there’s a little bit of fear out there among Congress about bills that have to do with affecting fundamental rights on the Internet following the whole SOPA thing,” said Shaw. “Once they hear our concerns that they’re going to strip away years of privacy protections that are a fundamental right granted by the constitution, they’ll be willing to listen because they’ll get a sense that Internet issues will be a liability in the elections coming up.”

So far, Privacy Is Awesome has received more than 3,000 upvotes and sparked a great deal of conversation on Reddit, where much of the anti-SOPA opposition was first organized. Shaw believes the Reddit community will be fundamental in any success his campaign finds.

“I think the Reddit community is great, they’re super-smart and it’s great to see a social network site that’s taking these issues so seriously and are so eager to get involved and take action on the important issues,” said Shaw.

CISPA was passed in the House of Representatives last month. It needs Senate approval before moving on to the White House for President Obama’s signature (or veto, which his top advisors threatened he would do).

Will you contact your local lawmaker to talk about CISPA? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adventtr

More About: cybersecurity, Politics, privacy, US

Booming iPad Sales Dominate Mobile PC Market

Posted: 24 May 2012 01:38 PM PDT

Apple is dominating the mobile PC space with 22.5% of the market share. The company sold more than 17.2 million mobile PCs in the first quarter of 2012 alone, according to a NPD DisplaySearch report. The quarterly report analyzes the global tablet, notebook and mini-notebook market.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company sits atop the mobile PC leaderboard, followed by HP, Acer Group, Lenovo and Dell. Dell sold 5.6 million units in Q1.

This season, the iPad is Apple’s MVP — making up 80% of Apple’s total mobile PC sales. More than 13.6 million units were sold, contributing to a 162% year-over-year growth. In one quarter, Apple sold about 62.8% of all tablets sold worldwide. March’s successful debut of the new iPad surely contributed to the gain.

Samsung followed Apple with 7.5% of all tablet shipments.

SEE ALSO: Tablet vs. Notebook: More Consumers Still Plan to Purchase a Laptop [STUDY]

The report also created rankings for the notebook and mini notebook and tablets separately. Leading the way in the strictly notebook sector were HP, Acer Group and Lenovo. The report notes Acer group moved up to number two in notebook and mini-notebook sales (excluding tablets) with stellar numbers in China.

"The China region had sequential quarter shipment growth, achieving 13% for mobile PCs overall, 12% for notebook and mini-note PCs, and 16% for tablet PCs," said Richard Shim, NPD DisplaySearch Senior Analyst. "This is noteworthy given the sequential declines in all other regions as well as the declines in other product categories including TVs and monitors."

What will it take for tablet PCs to gain on Apple? Sound off in the comments.

More About: ipad, Mobile, tablets

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5 iPhone Cases That Can Open Your Beer

Posted: 24 May 2012 01:26 PM PDT

1. iBottleopener

This budget, utilitarian option is a simple hard shell case with a rubberized finish. The back is completely sealed, so you don't have to fear beer froth disasters. Students (of legal drinking age), take note -- as well as the plain black version, there's a range of popular college designs available, too. Cost: $19.95

Click here to view this gallery.

Have you ever needed a bottle opener, searched high and low, and after spying your iPhone, been seriously tempted? Well, don’t even go there. Instead, why not use an iPhone case that doubles as a bottle-opening gizmo?

Rather than an iPhone case that just looks good, opt for one with some seriously useful functionality. We guarantee* grabbing one of these five options will make you really popular at parties.

SEE ALSO: 15 Fun Products to Geek Up Your BBQ [PICS]

Take a look through our gallery of great cases above. Let us know in the comments below which one you’ll use to open your next brewski.

*Not really.

More About: apple, cases, features, Gadgets, iphone, iphone accessories, iphone cases, Tech

Andy Samberg Channels Zuckerberg at Harvard Commencement [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 May 2012 01:15 PM PDT

Harvard is Mark Zuckerberg’s alma mater, so when the Ivy League university brings actor Andy Samberg to the podium, the audience is in for a treat.

Samberg is notorious for impersonating Zuckerberg, even to his face at Facebook’s f8 conference last year, so it’s no surprise he poked fun at him in front of his fellow alumni.

The SNL cast member is also known for playing Nicolas Cage, who made an appearance in the speech, along with a shout out to the Boston crowd as Mark Wahlberg.

SEE ALSO: 10 Inspiring Celebrity Commencement Speeches on YouTube

Other notable moments in the video include Samberg kissing Harvard class marshal Matthew Da Silva and a random “This Is How We Do it” breakdown in the middle — and a slight reference to his popular SNL skit with Justin Timberlake. (You know the one.)

What is your favorite moment in Samberg’s speech? Sound off in the comments below.

More About: andy samberg, Graduation, Harvard, viral, viral videos

Watch Life Unfold In This Poignant Photo Animation [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:55 PM PDT

Note: This video is slightly NSFW-ish.

Through 873 stock images, this video takes the “life flashed before my eyes” expression seriously.

The creative video is an ad for Getty, made by the agency BBDO, which starts life at when two people fall in love, and ends with a boat party.

Somewhere in between, the average human life apparently includes laying a golden egg, winning at bingo and getting struck by lightning.

More About: Advertising, Getty, photography, stock images, viral, viral videos, YouTube

New Bill Welcomes High-Tech Entrepreneurs to the U.S.

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:44 PM PDT

After the JOBS Act legalized crowdfunding-based investments in new businesses, the startup community set its sights on a new legislative goal: granting visas to foreigners who are pursuing a high-tech degree or building a business in the United States.

The Startup Act 2.0, introduced to the Senate this week, would create two new types of visas: a “STEM visa” for foreign-born students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math in the U.S. and an “Entrepreneur’s visa” for foreigners starting businesses in the country.

Both visas would give foreigners a new path to American citizenship so long as they continue working in STEM or expanding their business for three to five years.

Additionally, the bill would eliminate the per-country quotas currently in place on employment visas, create new tax credits for startups and eliminate capital gains tax on the sale of startup stock that’s held for at least five years.

Republican Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) worked together with Democrats Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) on the bipartisan legislation, which they believe will spark job creation and economic growth in the United States.

"To get America's economic engine roaring once again, entrepreneurs -– both American and foreign-born -– must be free to pursue their ideas, form companies in the United States, and hire employees,” said Sen. Moran in a joint statement. “Startup Act 2.0 will create jobs for Americans by creating a circumstance in which entrepreneurs can succeed.”

A recent study found that immigrant-founded high-tech businesses made $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2006 alone. However, many of the foreign-born students who earn advanced, high-tech degrees at American universities end up leaving to work for or start businesses that compete with U.S. firms — a situation the bill’s authors believe they may be able to reverse.

“Startup 2.0 offers smart, common-sense steps to support and encourage America's innovators and entrepreneurs," said Sen. Warner. "Working together, we have put together bipartisan proposals that will help us compete and win the global contest for talent.”

SEE ALSO: Lawmakers Want High-Tech Foreigners to Stay in the U.S.

The bill has a steep hill to climb on its way to becoming law. Any legislation that includes immigration reform often finds opposition in Congress, and that problem is exacerbated in an election year.

Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, member of President Obama’s jobs council and supporter of the Startup Act 2.0, told Mashable that the key to getting it passed will be keeping the discussion of high-tech immigration removed from that of illegal immigration.

“It’s important to separate the debate over illegal immigration and legal immigration,” said Case. “A lot of the emotion is around illegal immigration, but there’s fairly broad support for changes in high-tech immigration.”

Another high-tech immigration reform plan currently being debated in the Senate would create a new non-immigrant visa for STEM students. Currently, some foreign STEM students are able to work in the U.S. for 29 months on a student visa after graduation before being required to switch to an employer-sponsored visa.

For more detail on the Startup Act 2.0, check out this interactive infographic hosted on Sen. Moran’s website.

Would you give visas to STEM students and entrepreneurs? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, KLH49

More About: immigration, Politics, Small Business, Startups, US, World

‘American Idol’ Sets Four Social TV Records [STATS]

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:33 PM PDT

Despite a 27% dip in viewers for Wednesday’s American Idol finale compared to last year’s, the reality TV singing competition managed to break or set new social TV records.

Viewers generated 1.2 million comments across social media websites during the two-hour finale, making it the most talked about season finale ever, according to data from Bluefin Labs.

The season 11 Idol finale’s numbers catapulted over finales for Pretty Little Liars (804,000 for season two), The X Factor (391,000 for season one), The Voice (370,000 for season two) and The Bad Girls Club (289,000 for season eight).

Idol also incited the most comments for a full TV show season with 5.9 million. The Voice netted 2.7 million.

“Reality singing competitions are definitely a key driver in social TV,” Bluefin spokeswoman April Conyers told Mashable. “This format is a sweet spot for social engagement.”

SEE ALSO: Summer TV Guide — 20 Social Shows to See | ‘Top Model’ Adds Online Voting

Idol crowned Phillip Phillips as champion and set the stage ablaze with performances from the finalists as well as Aerosmith, Rihanna, John Fogerty, Neil Diamond, Reba McEntire, Jennifer Lopez, Jordin Sparks, Fantasia and Jennifer Holliday. Check out Bluefin's data below to see the moments that got viewers chatting online.

More About: american idol, celebrities, Entertainment, Facebook, Music, social tv, the-voice, TV, Twitter

Your House: The Next Great Digital Network

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:21 PM PDT

If you want your washing machine to email when your clothes are clean and your basement to tweet when it's flooding, you can pick from a growing handful of startup products to get the job done.

Connected boxes Twine and Ninja Blocks, card-like Electric Imp, and stand-alone sensor hub Knut all use sensors to communicate information about objects or the environment around them to the Internet — a concept known as “The Internet of Things.”

The Internet of Things has been around for a while. It includes gadgets like connected scales and the Nike+ shoe, as well as identifying technologies as simple as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Over the last few years, however, the hardware involved in putting objects online has become more accessible — and The Internet of Things has made a beeline toward the mainstream.

SEE ALSO: Refrigerator Magnet Lets You Order a Pizza in One Tap [VIDEO]

Startups are creating hardware that makes it easy for anyone to connect an object.

Users of startup gadgets like Twine and Knut, for instance, can typically program software to activate actions based on information they gather: “When sensor gets wet, then send text message that says ‘The basement is flooding!’” or “When sensor is dry, tweet ‘your plant needs to be watered!’” In the case of the Electric Imp, appliance manufacturers can install a card-reader that, when the user inserts a card, gives their products smart capability. Users could, for instance, turn on their sprinklers when the weather gets hot.

Twine is one of several startup gadgets that uses sensors to collect data from the real world that can trigger an online action.

But the concept has greater potential than simply watering your plants.

“Think about a commercial user that has 200 greenhouses,” says Scott Lemon, the creator of a software that helps connect objects to online services. “It's a much, much different world when you look at it from a non-toy approach.”

Pay-as-you-drive car insurance, smart metering and shipping systems that track temperature and other potentially damaging conditions are just a few of many ways the Internet of Things has already started to change the technology landscape. But Lemon’s company, Wovyn, wants to make it easier for developers who aren’t backed by governments or big companies to integrate with the real world.

It allows programmers to easily include information from connected objects in their apps and, unlike most systems, connects any hardware with any cloud application. Like Twine, Ninja Blocks and Knut, he’s raising money for the product on Kickstarter.

If successful, the system will broaden the affordable use cases for putting objects online — adding to the enormous growth in connected objects that analysts have predicted.

In 2010, there were about 12.5 billion objects connected to the internet. The same year, a former director of Internet technology at IBM, Michael Nelson, predicted that within 5-10 years, 100 billion objects would be connected to the Internet. A more conservative 2011 estimate by Cisco puts the number of connected devices at 50 billion by 2020.

"Trying to determine the market size of the Internet of Things is like trying to calculate the market for plastics, circa 1940,” Nelson explained in a report by consulting firm the Hammersmith Group. “At that time, it was difficult to imagine that plastics could be in everything.

“If you look at information processing in the same way, you begin to see the vast range of objects into which logic, processors or actuators could be embedded."

With sensors and integrations priced for consumers, startups have started to make that range more visible.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Kalawin

More About: Business, connected devices, features, Gadgets, internet of things, lifestyle, Startups

How Anonymous Reddit Donors Charmed Mainstream Media

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:09 PM PDT

Within two days, 2,592 people signed up to give care packages in the Reddit gift exchange for U.S. troops — in fact, at the moment, there are more people ready to give gifts than there are signed up to receive them.

Despite its vaguely anonymous nature, wherein users only attach a user name and stark profile, Reddit has proven how powerful good can be when it comes in numbers.

The gift exchange for troops is similar to previous “secret-santa” style events on Reddit, commonly known as “redditgifts.” Co-founder Alexis Ohanian was inspired by members of the armed forces who expressed what an impact the site had while they were overseas.

Reddit’s social good movement has recently become more broadly acknowledged, although the gift exchange program has been around for years.

In 2007, Ohanian announced on the Reddit blog that he and a few others were going to auction off autographed items in a raffle. The idea was to collect donations, let the Reddit community vote on its favorite non-profit, and then give the money raised to the organization.

The auction raised about $3,000, a huge success to Ohanian at the time.

“Now, Reddit raises that much money on a whim, within minutes,” says Ohanian, noting that it usually no longer requires him to come up with the idea. According to the co-founder, fundraisers are often spawned on their own by the community. In fact, the community broke a record in December with more than 3,700 gift exhanges across 110 countries.

After the initial fundraiser, Ohanian began to notice smaller, but similar movements of kindness within the community.

SEE ALSO: Reddit Users Surprise Terminally Ill Man With Random Acts of Kindness

In 2010, Redditors convinced Colbert to hold the “Restore Truthiness” rally by collecting donations for, of which Colbert is a board member.

Within eight hours, the community raised more than $100,000, surpassing Hillary Clinton’s previous record of $29,945. Today, has received more than $600,000 from Redditors.

Colbert’s response to Reddit on television and through mainstream media was one of the first. According to Ohanian, Colbert’s approach was smart because he understood the Reddit community.

“He totally gets the value of this community in a way that I think very few celebrities do,” says Ohanian.

On top of Reddit’s philanthropic community, there is a powerful group of activists as well. Topics surrounding the Internet have become more frequent in the news, and with recent events like the SOPA, PIPA and CISPA debates, Reddit has become a notable voice in the discussion — leading to more nods towards Reddit in mainstream media.

Ohanian believes that collaborating discussion online and offline is crucial to educating a more widespread audience and overcoming past perceptions of the Internet-savvy.

“It is the only way that these stories are going to spread even further,” says Ohanian. “When we have discussions about the Internet, we need to know that this is not relative to just people living in their parents’ basements.”

Today, Reddit receives more than 2 billion pageviews and 35 million unique visitors per month.

What other sorts of anonymous Internet philanthropy would you like to see covered in the media? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of

More About: features, Media, philanthropy, reddit, Social Good, Social Media, viral

Star Wars Turns 35: Celebrate Live With Mashable!

Posted: 24 May 2012 12:06 PM PDT

On May 25, 1977, the world met a little movie called Star Wars. Dubbed Episode IV: A New Hope, the film launched us into the heart of what would become a sprawling universe — the epic brainchild of writer/director George Lucas. The groundbreaking special effects were matched only by the tug of the story and its endearing characters. Lucas’s galaxy set the bar for all subsequent sci-fi films, and the rest, of course, is cinematic history.

That was 35 years ago. The Star Wars franchise has expanded and evolved since then — for better or worse, depending on who you talk to. But there’s no denying its tremendous cultural impact. As fully accredited sci-fi nerds, we at Mashable could not let this milestone pass without celebration. Friday, we’ll hold a live event right here on in honor of the 35th anniversary.

We want you to join in the fun!

Mos Eisley


  • Friday, May 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET


  • Right here on Join us for a live blog event that will feature some surprises and special guests.
  • You can also follow along and participate on Twitter using a special hashtag, to be announced. Your funniest, nerdiest tweets could be featured on Mashable. All the details will be revealed Friday afternoon!
  • RSVP to our Facebook event, and let us know that you’ll be attending.


  • Because Star Wars rules, that’s why.

So, mark your calendar, dust off your limited edition storm trooper helmet (shut up, we know you have one), and join us Friday in a galaxy far, far away.

Images courtesy of LucasFilm, via Wikimedia Commons and Star Wars Wiki.

More About: Entertainment, features, live blog, Sci-Fi, Star Wars

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