Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “The History of Email [INFOGRAPHIC]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “The History of Email [INFOGRAPHIC]”

The History of Email [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 11:35 PM PDT

Email, you’ve come a long way, baby.

In its 40-year tenure as a form of communication, email has run its course from the domain of über nerdy computer scientists to one of the most common ways to keep in touch, both personally and professionally.

Although email as a mode of communication was around for ten years before the term “email” was actually coined, we now count on it in our daily lives. In fact, the use of email has become so pervasive that the Oxford English Dictionary recently added a slew of email acronyms to its official canon.

And finally, just this year, the AP Stylebook, a.k.a. the holy book of all (or most) journalists, amended the spelling of e-mail to email, allowing articles such as this one to save bigtime on hyphens.

SEE ALSO: The History of Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

To give you a timeline of email’s progress through the decades, here’s a commemorative 40th anniversary infographic from email delivery company Reachmail.

Click image to see larger version.

More About: computer history, email, infographic

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Could Kickstarter Be Better Than Government Grants for Artists?

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 10:43 PM PDT

Artist Molly Crabapple has just been given $17,000 to lock herself in a paper-covered room for five days and make art until the walls are covered.

But that sum didn’t come from the National Endowment for the Arts or a wealthy patron; Crabapple, like many in her subversive art-making shoes, turned to Kickstarter to find funding for the stunt.

In her Kickstarter proposal, she outlined the basic premise of the project, dubbed “Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell.” Anyone who donated a dollar to the effort would get to watch a live stream of the whole five-day shebang. Anyone who pledged $10 or more would get to name an animal for inclusion in the artwork; donations of $20 or more would get an actual piece of the ink-filled paper sent to them. And backers who fronted $1,000 or more would get an absinthe-infused lunch with the artist.

Crabapple set a $4,500 fundraising goal; so far, the total raised is $17,000 — enough to make a short film about the project, which Crabapple says will debut online shortly after Crabapple’s Week in Hell wraps.

Why Art Needs the Web

This is a project that Crabapple says could never have existed without the Internet.

“I mean, before the Internet, I could have gotten a room and markers,” she told Mashable in an email. “But funding it? Pre-selling an entire body of yet-to-be-created-art in an alternative space? Even the logistics of finding the space and gathering my staff would have been infinitely harder offline”

Historically, the kinds of projects that do best on Kickstarter are actually film and music. Over the past two years, these two categories have accounted for more than $32.7 million in fundraising — more than every other category combined.

Crabapple says the Week in Hell is her third Kickstarter project. She did a Kickstarter proposal last year to help fund SketchyCon, a gathering of organizers for Crabapple’s unique life drawing events, Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School. And she did ker second Kickstarter project just a couple months ago to fund a stop-motion paper puppet film.

“An artist like me (ie a poxy illustrator who dropped out of school) has basically no chance with the grant system, and Kickstarter has been amazing for helping me bring my most ambitious projects to life,” said Crabapple.

Why Grants Don’t Work

While entrepreneurship projects such as the ill-fated Diaspora do exist on Kickstarter, they get relatively little attention on the site when compared to the overwhelming popularity of the arts. For artists who seek funds to further their dreams, the crowdfunding model of Kickstarter is something of a godsend. Gone are the lengthy, difficult grant application processes and the endless pitching to would-be patrons.

As Crabapple told us, “I once sat through the introductory session for applying for a Brooklyn Artists Grant. In between the forms filled out in 8-plicate, having to have a nonprofit organization sponsor you, and the fact that the grant was forbidden from covering the entire cost of the project, I figured it was probably just easier to earn the money.

“A Kickstarter is populist and fast, where a grant is elitist and foot-dragging.”

Crabapple said she was surprised, though, that the project got so much interest and so many pledges.

“Week in Hell is a deeply personal project, and there’s always a risk of those coming off as horrifically wanky. I posted it with some trepidation on Sunday at midnight, and woke up to find it funded. In my fever dreams I never would have imagined such an incredibly warm, generous response.”

Keep an eye out for the Week in Hell event, as well as subsequent photos and film, to take place from September 3 through 8 in a secret location in Manhattan.

Image courtesy of Facebook, TheLegion

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Barack Obama to Start Tweeting From @BarackObama Account

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 09:05 PM PDT

U.S. President Barack Obama will start regularly tweeting from his official Twitter account.

In an update today, it was announced that the President’s reelection staff would be managing his social media presence and accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

A rep also revealed that the Commander In Chief would be penning tweets of his own and that “on Twitter, tweets from the President will be signed ‘-BO.’”

The @BarackObama account has been active since 2007, when Obama was using social media in his campaign for the presidency.

However, as the account began accumulating updates in 2009, we discovered that the President’s staff, not the President himself, was actually posting the tweets.

SEE ALSO: Who Won the Presidential Debate? Facebook Gives Some Clues

In a visit to Shanghai, Obama told a group of Chinese students, “I have never used Twitter. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.” In fact, the President did not himself send a tweet until the beginning of 2010, when he pushed the button in support of the @RedCross account.

With Republican candidates’ early use of social media in the 2012 race, Obama’s staffers are strengthening an already robust social media program for the President’s campaign. In all likelihood, personal tweets from “-B.O.” himself will do a lot to drum up enthusiasm (not to mention retweets) from supporters.

More About: 2012, barack obama, obama, Political, politics, President, twitter

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Is Keeping Track of Contacts & Conversations a Problem? Try Connected

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 08:05 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Connected

Quick Pitch: Get all your contacts and conversations in one place.

Genius Idea: CRM without the manual entry.

Effortless personal contact management has been the promise of countless web services for years — Etacts, Gist and Plaxo come to mind — and yet most of us still manually manage our disparate contact databases and address books, which is almost always a messy process.

Perhaps Connected can get us back on track. “The main goal of the product is to help you build, maintain and leverage your relationships,” says founder and CEO Sachin Rekhi.

The web- and mobile-friendly application hooks into nearly every social network, contact database and calendar repository on the web to automatically build out a comprehensive contact and company database, free of duplicate entries.

In Connected’s perspective, your contact database includes everyone you email via Gmail or Outlook, the people you’ve scheduled meetings with via Google Calendar, and the folks you call and text via Google Voice. It also extends to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Evernote and so forth, connecting the dots between communications — email, Twitter DMs, @mentions, Facebook messages, contacts tagged in Evernote notes et al. — across all these services to build a real-time conversation history for each contact.

Connected’s higher calling is to eliminate the manual contact entry that other services mandate and to help you better mange your professional network without the management.

“Really good sales people spend a lot of time managing and building their professional networks,” says Rekhi. “Connected is a next generation contact management solution that helps the rest of us be much more efficient.”

Even with its most basic features, Connected seems sexy; but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the app can do. Connected will email you each morning, for instance, with a daily agenda that not only includes your appointments but any relevant social and/or news items on your contacts or their companies.

Connected comes with a rather substantial (at least for personal use) monthly financial commitment. You can access the produce free of charge for a 14 day trial period, but afterwards you’ll need to pay $9.99 per month to maintain access.

Still, we find Connected’s mission to remove the management piece from the personal CRM equation to be quite promising. The bootstrapped startup, first launched in February, has already processed five million contacts from its users and is seeing strong paid subscriber conversion rates, Rekhi says. In the future, he says, Connected will develop ways to help users share their contact records with groups.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, wakila

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, Connected, contact management, crm, SocialCRM, spark-of-genius

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5 Tips for Transitioning From College to Startup Life

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 06:00 PM PDT

Elliott Spelman is an intern at WePay which allows you to collect payments online without the hassle. You can contact him at

Four years and three internships later, I'm a graduate of USC. Like a lot of people my age, I've become pretty comfortable with the fact that I don't really know what I want to do in life. Every graduation speaker I've ever listened to, from Steve Ballmer to Mr. Gowen, my elementary school gym teacher, has urged the same advice: Do what you're passionate about.

For people in my position, though, there seems to be a choice between doing a job you love and doing a job that's available to you. We're left with the question: If doing something rewarding is the ultimate goal, what if it takes some time to figure it out?

Just because I’m not on a prescribed career path doesn't mean I'm not interested in anything. On the contrary, actually. My college resume is a veritable potpourri of potential professions. All three of my college internships were tied to personal interests (non-profits, travel, music). I majored in economics and creative writing. I pledged a fraternity and worked for the geography department one summer. And now I'm feeding my interests again, picking a summer internship at a tech startup in Silicon Valley over other full-time job offers.

People ask me all the time, with genuine concern in their faces: "Aren't you worried about what happens at the end of the summer?" The honest answer is no. If I have to sacrifice my interests for the sake of long-term financial security at the age of 21, then in the words of professor Hubert J. Farnsworth: "I don't want to live on this planet anymore." Plus, if for some reason the job isn't right, or if something else pops up, it's only a three-month commitment.

Along the winding path toward a more permanent career, I’ve picked up a few pieces of wisdom for my fellow interns out there.

1. Understand How People See Your Generation

There's a Youtube clip out there of a few anchors on Fox News talking about how Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood has ruined a generation of young people who now feel special. Entitlement, I'm afraid, is the knock on our generation.

How do you objectively measure something like that? I've been fired for it ("Your generation needs to learn that you do not give ultimatums to a superior"), and I've heard it muttered (“F*****g kids these days"), but basically, your job is to prove these people wrong. It doesn't take much. Show that you are genuinely interested and engaged by the people around you. Learn how to be competent. Make your coworkers trust you, and make them look good.

2. Take Advantage of Your Generation's Gifts

We are the first wave of people raised on the Internet. We stay connected. We rely on other people. We understand our constant access to infinite information and we adjust ourselves accordingly. Compared to those for whom the Internet is a struggle, we have the opportunity to be exponentially more productive in a fraction of the time.

My advice is to use the applications that best organize your mind — the ones that help you develop methods and routines that feel comfortable. When it comes to documents, I'm a Google Apps kind of guy. Some people prefer Dropbox or MobileMe.

Everyone our age should be able to find the answer to any basic question within a minute. Google and Wikipedia should be second nature. After all, part of the reason we're seen as entitled is because we have access to a whole array of shortcuts that have never existed before. Use them to your advantage.

3. There's a Reason for Professionalism

I've worked at an internship where everybody in the office ironed their pants every morning, and I've worked with people in flip-flops. Neither one is intrinsically better than the other. You have to understand that each place you work has its own corporate culture and in order to do well you have to adjust yourself to fit it.

If people are going to spend nine hours each day cramped together, they have to find ways to stay sane. Some bosses hand out beers at five, and some require their employees to wear a certain color tie. If you want peoples' respect, you have to give in to it.

That's basically what professionalism is: A code of behavior that greases the wheels and keeps everyone out of each other’s way. You shouldn't feel like the code is a burden. If it starts to feel like you're wearing a mask to work every day, don't be afraid to question if the job is a good fit for you.

4. Enjoy the People You Work With

This is the single most underrated aspect of career decisions. Granted, it's very difficult to know what the person hiring you will turn out to be like, but that’s where internships come in. Internships give you a taste of what kind of people get drawn to what kind of careers.

The fact is, even with the mask of professionalism, your coworkers rub off on you. You can't avoid them. If you hate who you work with, it can be tough to convince yourself that what you are doing is worthwhile, even if you would normally enjoy it.

5. Use Your Education Wisely

Unless you studied accounting or architecture as an undergrad (and even if you did), there is a very small chance that your college education will come in particularly handy for your first job. There are, however, unexpected elements of your education that will be tremendously useful.

At my PR gig, I gave my boss an essay by Georg Simmel that I thought he might find interesting. Working at the tutoring center, I helped format databases of small donors with Excel formulas I'd learned in ECON317. And now, working for a tech company, I find myself blogging, pulling from all kinds of things I learned in creative writing workshops.

I guess my general piece of advice here would be to never assume it's okay to stop learning. There is no direct correlation between your formal education and what you do after, so remember to always stay curious and flexible.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Tricia Wang 王圣捷, Simon King, and iStockphoto, H-Gall

More About: advice, college, education, how to, social media, startup

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Nancy Pelosi & Colleagues Tweet Support for Saudi Women2Drive Campaign

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 04:36 PM PDT

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

A number of female U.S. House of Representatives members have expressed their support for the women who drove their cars on the streets of Saudi Arabia Friday, in an effort to defy the country’s ban on female drivers.

A few shows of encouragement for the Women2Drive campaign, which gained widespread publicity through social media sites, have appeared on Congresswomen’s Twitter accounts. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted, “Beep beep and solidarity to the Saudi women & supporters challenging the driving ban!”

Pelosi was retweeted by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who also posted her own message: “I stand in solidarity with Saudi Arabian women participating in the #Women2Drive Campaign today.”

Rep. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), the first female physician in the U.S. Congress, sent this tweet: “In my doc practice some US men did everything to prevent wives driving. They couldn’t! Drive SA women Drive!”

Pelosi Tweet

A number of Congresswomen signed a public open letter, which declares solidarity with Manal al-Sherif — a key figure in the Saudi driving campaign who was arrested and jailed last month after posting a video of herself driving on YouTube. The letter tells al-Sherif, who was released after pledging not to drive: “Your efforts on behalf of Saudi women, who only wish to protect themselves, are inspiring and we wish to extend our heartfelt admiration and support.”

The letter ends with the politicians saying: “As members of Congress, we proudly stand in solidarity with you and all Saudi women you represent as you pursue your goals and wish to offer our support in helping to bolster your efforts to empower Saudi women. We look forward to following your progress.” The letter is signed by Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

This appears to be the first public show of support from U.S. politicians for the campaign. A petition asks Hillary Clinton to declare her public support, but it seems to have received no response from the State Dept.

Meanwhile, according to an email update from Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt, at least 45 women drove in Saudi Arabia on Friday. Several women, along with men who agree with the campaign, tweeted about the experience. Most women said they were not approached by police. One tweet from Saudi resident Heba Al Butairi, addressed to NPR’s Andy Carvin, reads: “Just 2 brief detentions (Riyadh-Makkah) followed by an immediate release. One ticket was issued though (Riyadh).”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Leader Nancy Pelosi

More Stories About Women2Drive

Bald Gaga Goes Viral [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 04:04 PM PDT

Somewhere between Crazy Britney and Sinead O’Connor, Lady Gaga has taken her place among bald (or bald-seeming) female performing artists.

This video of Gaga’s performance of “Hair” on the Paul O’Grady show features the singer sporting a cue ball-esque dome for the first two and a half minutes. Gaga, who is wearing a turquoise dress made of synthetic hair and sitting at a hair-covered piano, then dons a matching turquoise wig for the remainder of the performance.

The topic is making the rounds on Twitter and is quickly rising through the service’s trending topics.

No one’s sure whether the new look is a skin cap (likely) or an actually shaved head (still plausible, given the singer’s other antics), but the singer did say to the show’s host in a post-performance interview, “I have less hair.”

What do you think of the pop star’s new look?

More About: bald, bald gaga, hair, Lady Gaga, paul o'grady

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Apple Patent Aims to Shut Down iPhone Camera Recording in Venues

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 03:48 PM PDT

Your iPhone is there when you need it: whether you’re lost and looking up directions, trying to find a nearby restaurant, or just want to film your favorite band performing in concert. But enjoy that last experience while you can, because your phone may someday know to shut its camera down when used in venues for events like music and sports.

According to the Daily Mail (via Pitchfork), Apple is developing software for precisely that. The London Times uncovered this patent, filed in California 18 months ago.

The software would recognize when the iPhone's camera was in use. Infra-red sensors installed at the venue would activate the software and disable the camera. Other functions would continue to work normally. The Daily Mail speculates that Apple may be trying to placate broadcasters who have purchased exclusive rights to events. This would also serve as a way to curb posting of copyright material online by users who do not hold the rights.

Could Apple charge users to record such events? If so, Apple will have figured out a way to monetize amateur filming in venues. The report does not indicate anything about still photography, so it is unclear whether the entire camera would be disabled or just the video function.

What do you think? Should Apple be able to decide whether or not you can record an event with your phone?

More About: apple, iphone, patent, video

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iPhone App Turns People You Meet in Person Into Facebook Friends

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 02:45 PM PDT

A new mobile app startup hopes to help you connect with people nearby on Facebook — by cutting down on the friction of the friend request.

The startup, Friendthem, has just released its free iPhone app [iTunes Link] that is designed to let people see the Facebook users around them and then send a friend request immediately, or file the request away for later.

In other words, it’s easy to friend someone at a meeting or a party — or to pretend that you’ll do so later.

We spoke with Friendthem founder Richard Passer about the app and why he believes that the friend request deserves to be “elevated to its proper status as the gateway to all social networking connections.”

Whether you meet someone at a bar, in the park or at a conference, friending that person on Facebook or following them on Twitter or Foursquare is now a common social norm. But the process of actually finding and sending a friend request can be complicated, thanks to the sheer number of people on Facebook. Searching for a common name like “Jason Smith” can yield dozens of results. If a users hasn’t shared their photos with non-friends, or updated their location recently, tracking that person down can be difficult.

So people who want to connect on Facebook can use Friendthem as kind of a hybrid meeting place. You get to control what information about yourself is shared with others. You choose whether your name or photo is displayed. You can decide to show off your hometown, or not.

Other users that have Friendthem installed and are close by can then see you in the app, and choose to initiate a friend request now or later.

This video shows the app in action:

The app doesn’t require any sign-up — simply login using Facebook and then choose what information you want to make visible. For users that don’t want to be listed in certain areas — like at the office or on vacation — Friendthem lets users create geo-fences, or areas where they will be hidden from the app.

Friendthem is different from apps like Hashable or Bump because the focus is on building relationships within Facebook. If you share any mutual friends with someone nearby, Friendthem will let you know.

Still, will users download and install yet another social app? Passer was optimistic on this point. He believes that the utility of Friendthem will outweigh the hassle of another download. We’re not convinced that’s true, but the fact that three users were found within our city block while testing the app — which has had zero publicity so far — could prove him right.

The app is out for iPhone now and an Android version will be released in the next few weeks. A Windows Phone app is also in the works.

In the future, Passer will also look at developing apps that connect users to other Twitter or Foursquare followers. For now, however, his focus is on Facebook.

In an ideal world, Facebook would open up its mobile API in such a way that users could opt to use Friendthem from a standard Facebook app, and then just by having Facebook for iPhone or Android installed, Friendthem users could send requests.

For now, however, it’s an idea with promise. The “Friendthem Later” feature is particularly nice because it tags the location where the person was located with the request — great for those nights when you can’t remember who you met or where.

Sending a friend request in the app takes place using the standard Facebook mobile API. Users still have to send a message and confirm the request, so accidentally sending friend requests shouldn’t be a problem.

If Friendthem can gain a critical mass of users, we could see this being an app we would use every day.

What do you think about using location-aware technology to help aid in friend requests? Let us know in the comments.

More About: facebook, friend request, friendthem, iphone apps

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#Nerdbird: Virgin America’s Newest Plane Is a Twitter Hashtag

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 01:48 PM PDT

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a hashtag?

Why, yes. Social media savvy brand Virgin America is taking its love of Twitter to new heights and has unleased #nerdbird — a first-of-its-kind hashtag-named and branded plane — on the skies.

In appropriate fashion, the brand announced it had dedicated the 39th “bird” in its growing fleet of aircrafts to its social media fans and followers with a Facebook update and a tweet.

Update: As one of our commenters suggests, #nerdbird also pays homage to the techies, or “nerds,” who frequently travel between San Francisco and Boston on Virgin America flights. “It’s what our guests and crew call the SFO-BOS flights,” a company representative tells Mashable.

We’ve got to hand it to Virgin America. Branding a plane with a dedicated hashtag is an ingenious way for it to market its social media prowess — and to encourage its army of social media supporters to pump up their Virgin America-related Twitter and Facebook posts.

And, perhaps, #nerdbird’s flights will also help it fly high atop Twitter’s Trending Topics.

More About: #nerdbird, MARKETING, social media, virgin america

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More Dads Own Nintendo Wiis Than Other Consoles [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 01:29 PM PDT

Would Dad like a video game for Father’s Day? Before you rush out and buy one, check out this infographic — it might increase your odds that you’ll pick the kind of game dads like to play.

Along the way, you’ll see what consoles dads use, and who they think is really the champion of video games in the household.

Redbox sent us this infographic because the company’s launching videogame rentals Friday at its 21,000 Redbox locations in the U.S.

Too bad this survey sample only included 500 Redbox customers and six data points.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Neustock

More About: Dads, Father's Day, gaming, infographics

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How Digital Media Is Changing the Sports Experience

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 01:10 PM PDT

fan image

Warren Packard is the cofounder and CEO of Thuuz, a service that alerts you to the most exciting sports games and matches currently being played or recently completed so that you can experience all the suspense and excitement of the best sports action of the day.

The way we think about watching sports is going through a rapid transformation. Attendance is down across most leagues but TV ratings are up. Fans seem to be more wrapped up in the sagas of individual athletes than they are in following their favorite teams.

With the proliferation of HDTVs, mobile devices, Twitter and fantasy leagues, we're always connected to sports. Today, we don't even bat an eyelash when fans in Seattle cheer for Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman — after all, he's on their fantasy team.

The way we stay connected to athletes though Twitter and fantasy sports has allowed us to gain unprecedented access to their lives, and it's changing our perception of who they are. In our celebrity-obsessed world, technology is our bridge to a new kind of personal relationship with our sports idols.

Skipping the Stadium

As new technology emerges, it is clear that the out-of-stadium experience has finally caught up, and in some ways surpassed watching an event from the bleachers.

Sports broadcasting has become an assembly line of innovation, churning out new features that enhance the viewing experience and bring fans even closer to the minutia of each game. During the NBA playoffs this year, TNT allowed fans to view a video mosaic comprised of individual cameras focused on specific players and teams. In the near future, our tablets, smartphones and laptops will recognize what game we're watching on TV and give us a personalized experience on the second screen. You'll have the entire world of sports in the palm of your hand, and it will be personalized based on what you want and when you want it. Imagine plugging your fantasy team into that on a Sunday afternoon.

Fantasy Teams

Technology has had the greatest impact on how we play fantasy sports. It’s not impossible to imagine a Red Zone-like channel that aggregates stats and clips from your fantasy team. Twitter will also source your data cloud, creating personalized streams that include tweets from the players themselves, as well as the reaction to those players from the media. This is the future of fantasy sports, a $3.8 billion industry where the average fan spends more than $150 per year on products that don't even really exist.

We used to mock the fantasy sports fanatic's childlike dedication to games that had long passed them by, and wondered why they couldn't simply enjoy the action. Today we swipe furiously at smartphones, making last-minute lineup changes because of a key tweet about the state of a star quarterback’s throwing arm.

The Internet has opened up this entirely new and lucrative arena for the sports “quant jock.” This new breed of sports fan often cares less about the outcome of the game and more about the performance of the players on his fantasy team. Just ask Maurice Jones Drew, who created some controversy in 2009 when he took a knee on the goal line and was practically forced to apologize to his fantasy fans.

One of Us

shaq image

Shaquille O’Neal, one of the greatest marketers in modern sports, recently announced his retirement on Twitter. In that 10-second video, Shaq showed that despite his talents, he was a regular guy like us. Marketers have been trying to humanize athletes for years. When you can take athletes off their pedestals, you start to realize that beyond the money and tremendous athletic ability, many of them are not so different from us. For the first time, we have a direct outlet to almost all of them and they have a direct outlet to us.

The athlete in the Twitter age has almost complete control over how the public views him or her and it will likely make or break many endorsement contracts in the near future. Big money is involved, and while many athletes will seize upon this as an opportunity to let their personality shine, others will rise and fall with their own mistakes.

Getting Personal

While it's nothing new to root for your favorite athlete from another town, it's something new to be able to watch them whenever you want, follow them on Twitter and pick them third in your fantasy draft. In the past few years alone, we have witnessed a great migration of athletes who have busted out of the sports page and onto the entertainment and lifestyle scene.

These new technologies have continued to blur the lines between the athlete and the fan, placing average Janes and Joes on the field, in the lockeroom or smack-dab in the everyday lives of their favorite celebrity-athletes. We'll always root for our favorite teams and we'll cry when they lose, but technology is bringing us a new kind of personal relationship with the athletes we adore. It might just change our perception of what it means to be a fan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Lodigs, Bob Bekian, and Sports Geekery.

More About: shaq, social media, sports, tech, twitter

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Hand Vacuum From The Future Fits Like a Glove [PICS]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 12:36 PM PDT

The innards of vacuum cleaners are getting so small, you’ll soon be able to wear one around your wrist, with its business end enclosing your hand like a mitten.

That’s the vision of designer Christian Sallustro of the University of Florence, Italy, whose concept for a wearable vacuum might come in handy for some situations. Don his Magic Glove, and suddenly you’re vacuuming every which way with natural motions, as if this colorfully designed contraption were an extension of your hand.

This is a great-looking design, but it might be uncomfortable if you’re vacuuming floors. However, for countertop spills, we’d like to wear one on each hand, rev both of them up simultaneously, and get that cleanup done with the flick of a wrist.

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Magic Glove Design Concept

Graphics courtesy of Yanko Design/Christian Sallustro

More About: design concept, hand vacuum, Magic glove

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Sequins & Social Media: Lady Gaga to Wear Dress Featuring Faces of Followers

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 12:35 PM PDT

Lady Gaga and MAC Cosmetics have launched a “digital, interactive movement” (a.k.a. a microsite, albeit an innovative one) to drive awareness for a line of lip color products that benefit HIV and AIDS-related charities.

Users are invited to upload photos of themselves at, which will then be transformed into a “sequin” that becomes part of a matrix of sequins featuring other participants. Users are then asked to spread awareness via email, Facebook and Twitter; the more they share, the larger and more prominent their sequin becomes in the matrix.

These sequins will become part of a unique garment that Nicola Formichetti, creative director of French label Mugler and Lady Gaga’s personal stylist, will design for the 25-year-old pop star to wear at Paris Fashion Week in September.

In the month following its launch, 10,000 “little monsters” (as Gaga affectionately dubs her fans) and MAC fans have joined the movement — not bad, but by no means spectacular, given the resources on both MAC’s and Lady Gaga’s ends. (Lady Gaga alone has more than 10 million Twitter followers and another 38 million Facebook fans.)

This may well be because of the way the site is built. Users are required to fill out a sign-up form — a big ask in an era in which users can bypass most sign-up forms and authenticate via Facebook or Twitter — before submitting their photo, and only afterward are they prompted to share it on their networks.

Furthermore, users can’t target particular friends on Facebook — they can only post messages to their walls, lessening the impact of each share. The messaging is also generic and non-descriptive, saying nothing about what Viva Glam is and it’s involvement with HIV and AIDS charities.

The site’s leaderboard is also unclear; it’s difficult to visualize how users are performing relative to each other. Something like Fast Company‘s Influence Project mosaic would help participants contextualize their reach, and encourage a healthy sense of competition.

Execution failures aside, we love the concept and are excited to see the dress Gaga dons this fall. Try the site out yourself and let us know: How do you think the campaign could have been carried out better?

More About: Lady Gaga, mac, MARKETING, social good, social media

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Top 10 Harry Potter Spoofs [VIDEOS]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 12:00 PM PDT

As the final trailer for the new Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released and the mysterious new “Pottermore” project emerges, here at Mashable we’re buzzing with Hogwarts gossip.

Here we look back at all the great Harry Potter spoofs, parodies, mashups and comedy songs created by both fans and critics alike.

Whether you’re after the movie trailers, the amusing music or the clever remixes, you’ll find it all in the video gallery below (but be aware that a few of the videos fall into the NSFW category). Take a look and let us know your favorite Potter parody in the comments.

1. Harry Potter, Bad Roommate, Episode 1

This witty mini web series reimagines Harry Potter as a sitcom character. Chortle alert!

2. Harry Potter vs. Voldemort Rap

Clearly the franchise needed an epic rap battle between Master P and MC Voldemort. It's worth a play for the amusing lyrics and trash-talk.

3. Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/Star Wars Mashup

BBC comedy show Dead Ringers pokes fun at the similarities among these three major fantasy series.

4. Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise

Neil Cicierega's "Potter Puppet Pals" are wildly popular with the kids. This video has racked up more than 100,000,000 views.

5. LITERAL "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Trailer Parody

Our favorite in this lineup, the video dissects one of the Deathly Hallows trailers quite literally. Sheer genius!

6. Harry Potter with ADHD

Not politically correct, but pretty funny.

7. South Park & Harry Potter (NSFW: Language)

As you'd expect from anything South Park, this video's audio is as sweary as it comes, but very funny and well-executed.

8. Harry Potter and the Douchebag Magicians

College Humor manifests its usual comedy magic in this cartoon spoof.

9. Norwegian Recycling - Dark And Difficult Times (Harry Potter Mashup)

If you're a fan of the auto-tune sound, then you'll enjoy this musical interpretation.

10. Bart Simpson & the Half-Blood Prince

The Simpsons has chucked a few Harry Potter references into its episodes over the years. This fan-made mashup effectively combines the two for animated fun.

More About: gallery, harry potter, List, Movies, parodies, spoofs, trailers, video, videos

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America According to Twitter: U.S. City Names Remixed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 11:10 AM PDT

If Twitter users named U.S. cities, what would Americans be calling their hometowns right now? Inbox Q has the answer, after it drilled through mountains of tweets containing geotagged data of Twitter users’ locations.

Some of the names are those that are often used already, such as “Hotlanta” and “Gotham,” while others such as “Milwacky” bring smiles to our faces.

Given such descriptive monikers for cities in the infographic below, which one do you think most accurately describes a U.S. city? What do you call your town?

Click graphic for enlargement:

Image courtesy Inbox Q

More About: Inbox Q, infographic, twitter

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Research in Motion’s Value Drops 20% Overnight

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 10:47 AM PDT

Shares of Research in Motion are taking a pounding on Friday as investors react to the company's woeful earnings report and forecast, which was released after the markets closed on Thursday.

As of 1:30 p.m. ET, shares of RIM were down more than 20% to less than $28 apiece. The decline represents more than $3.5 billion in market value and sees the company trading at a fraction of the $140+ high it reached in 2008.

SEE ALSO: Why Apps, Not Apple, Are Killing BlackBerry

Of course, that was when RIM's BlackBerry was still dominating the smartphone market and iOS and Android were in their infancy. Since then, both platforms have seen their market share grow significantly at RIM's expense. Adding to the challenge, the company revealed on Thursday, are delays in shipping new products that RIM hopes will help it compete.

More About: blackberry, research in motion, rimm

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SEGA Pass Hacked

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 10:25 AM PDT

SEGA Pass, the gaming company’s member database and online network, has been hacked.

SEGA took the SEGA Pass system offline Thursday. Friday morning, it sent an email to Pass members alerting them that an unauthorized and unidentified third party had gained access to the SEGA Pass database.

Members’ email addresses, birth dates and encrypted passwords were obtained in the attack, according to the company.

SEGA is also telling members that it has reset their passwords, that all access to SEGA Pass has been temporarily suspended and that Pass users should consider changing their passwords on other sites.

No party has stepped up to claim responsibility as of yet, though hacker group LulzSec tweeted at SEGA Friday morning: “We want to help you destroy the hackers that attacked you. We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down.”

Meanwhile, LulzSec recently claimed responsibility for hacking Sony’s and Nintendo’s servers, taking down the CIA’s website and hacking the U.S. Senate.

The full contents of the email SEGA sent to Pass members can be seen below, courtesy of

Dear ___,

As you may be aware, the SEGA Pass system has been offline since yesterday, Thursday 16 June.

Over the last 24 hours we have identified that unauthorised entry was gained to our SEGA Pass database.

We immediately took the appropriate action to protect our consumers' data and isolate the location of the breach. We have launched an investigation into the extent of the breach of our public systems.

We have identified that a subset of SEGA Pass members emails addresses, dates of birth and encrypted passwords were obtained. To stress, none of the passwords obtained were stored in plain text.

Please note that no personal payment information was stored by SEGA as we use external payment providers, meaning your payment details were not at risk from this intrusion.

If you use the same login information for other websites and/or services as you do for SEGA Pass, you should change that information immediately.

We have also reset your password and all access to SEGA Pass has been temporarily suspended.

Additionally we recommend you please take extra caution if you should receive suspicious emails that ask for personal or sensitive information.

Therefore please do not attempt to login to SEGA Pass at present, we will communicate when the service becomes available.

We sincerely apologise for this incident and regret any inconvenience caused.

We are contacting all our members with these recommendations.

If you have any further questions please contact SEGA customer support on

Image courtesy of Flickr, Redherring1up

More About: gaming, hackers, lulzsec, sega, SEGA pass

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Vancouver Riots 2011: Kissing Couple Identified

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 10:11 AM PDT

We introduced you to the romantic heroes of the Vancouver Riots of 2011, The Kissing Vancouver Couple, yesterday. Now we can put names to the lip-locked faces.

Soon after the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins, rioting broke out. As the violence became more intense, we found numerous pictures on photo-sharing sites such as Twitpic and Yfrog, as well as professional pictures, like the one above from Getty Images.

Some have been speculating that the photo was staged. But photographer Rich Lam is sticking by his claim that the shot was spontaneous.

Lam writes in this statement to Esquire:

“I noticed in the space behind the line of police that two people were laying in the street with the riot police and a raging fire just beyond them. I knew I had captured a ‘moment’ when I snapped the still forms against the backdrop of such chaos but it wasn’t until later when I returned to the rink to file my photos that my editor pointed out that the two people were not hurt, but kissing.”

Now, the couple has been identified. According to The Star, the man is 29-year-old Scott Jones from Perth, Australia, and the woman is Alexandra Thomas from Vancouver. They started dating after Jones came to Vancouver on holiday and to find work as an actor. The couple had been to the game before the violence broke out.

Jones’s father, Brett, spoke to The Star, telling them: "She had actually been injured. She had been knocked down by a shield. He lay down next to her to comfort her. She was crying and he just kissed her to calm her down." Brett Jones has been all over Facebook, informing friends about his son’s sudden fame.

Scott Jones’s sister, Hannah, first recognized him. "I knew it was him because he doesn’t have a lot of clothes with him and he always puts on the same thing,” his mother Marie said.

Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Danny O'Neill

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Chris Walts

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/@TheSunnyDhillon

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from yfrog/Niamh Scallan

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Chrissy Chrzan

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from @TheSunnyDhillon

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Chrissy Chrzan

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from yfrog/lisasj

Vancouver Riot 2011

"That's a truck. Something just exploded from the inside." Image from twitpic/niamhsays

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from instagram/jennperutka

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from yfrog/Niamh Scallan

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Chris Walts

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Adam Weiler

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/@kerizierler

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Danny O'Neill

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Danny O'Neill

Vancouver Riot 2011

Image from twitpic/Danny O'Neill

More About: facebook, Kissing Vancouver Couple, social media, Vancouver Riots 2011

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Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Dad Edition

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 10:01 AM PDT

Dads: They can either lift us up, inspiring us to reach our highest levels of potential, or demoralize us so much that we remain locked in a constant state of wo/man-child limbo. Either way, we love them, which is why this week’s YouTube roundup theme is: Dads.

Check out our gallery of Dad-related vids with your father figure this F’Day, and let us know in the comments: What’s your favorite fatherly memory?

Kid History, "Episode 1"

Zachary Sniderman: It's good to tell your kids stories. It's strange for your kids to tell you the stories you told them.

Star Wars

Sarah Kessler: The plot thickens.

Family Guy

Meghan Peters: Gah! Sarah, you beat me to it. Luckily, I found an equally uncomfortable scene.

Arrested Development

Brian Dresher: "That's why you always leave a note!"

Paul Simon, "Father and Daughter"

Amy-Mae Elliott: I love this sweet father-daughter love song, especially the line "I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever" -- aww!

The Simpsons

Christina Warren: OK, I can't find an English version of YouTube, but I'm dying, dying, dying to find a clip of what is perhaps the sweetest Simpsons ending of all time, from the episode "And Maggie Makes Three." Homer tells his tale of having to go back to work at the plant after Marge gets pregnant with Maggie and the kids ask why he doesn't have any photos of Maggie and he says that he does, but that they are where he needs them most. Smash cut to Homer's workstation where the sign that says "Don't forget: you're here forever" has photos around it so that it says "Do it for her."

The Cosby Show

Josh Catone: Best TV dad, ever.


Brenna Ehrlich: My dad LOVES Xena. We used to watch this show every weekend. He even had a poster in his office. Until they made him take it down because it was bothering his patients.

National Lampoon's Vacation

Lauren Rubin: Best dad ever: Clark Griswold.

Preacher's Sons

Ada Ospina: 2 Dads are better than none!!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jim, the Photographer

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Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 09:11 AM PDT

Thanks to this week's advertisers and partners for enabling us to bring you the latest social media news and resources. Mashable’s sponsors are as social media savvy as our readers!

Advertise with us and get noticed.

Mashable is seeking site sponsors for our large, diverse audience — social media users, venture capitalists, early adopters, developers, bloggers and many more. You’ll receive hundreds of thousands of views per day in addition to weekly recognition as part of our “thank you” to our premium sponsors. Are you interested? Contact us for more information and to receive our media kit and rate card.

This week, our valued sponsors are: The Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck, Energizer, AceProject, 7MainStreet, LoopFuse, Mygazines, BMW i, Elance, Discover Digital Group, Global Strategic Management Institute, Mynewsdesk, Ford, Spigit, Sprout Social, Site24x7, IDG, Elsevier, Vocus, Hubspot, Level 3 Communications, Qualcomm's Snapdragon, CUNY School of Professional Studies, Sourcebits, Oneupweb, SoftLayer, SRDS, Buddy Media, Gillette, Clickatell, Microsoft BizSpark, MaxCDN and Eventbrite.

In New York City or San Francisco and want a free scoop? Try the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck.

The Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck supports Mashable’s Social-Savvy Food Truck Series. Follow the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck on Twitter at @BenJerrysTruck and @BenJerrysWest.

The Energizer® Inductive Charger brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging … now that's positivenergy™.

Energizer supports Mashable’s Gadget of the Day Series. Follow Energizer on Twitter and Facebook.

AceProject is a collaboration-oriented project management web application that empowers you to manage projects, tasks and time sheets. Create your free AceProject account here.

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7MainStreet is the first company to combine social networking, e-commerce, and comprehensive business reviews and listings. 7MainStreet helps organizations of all sizes.

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LoopFuse provides forever-free marketing automation software that closes the loop between sales and marketing with smarter lead capture, scoring, and nurturing — plus integration. LoopFuse helps marketers build better pipelines, run more efficient marketing operations, and enable more effective sales teams leading to increased revenue and reduced costs. Learn more about lead nurturing with LoopFuse.

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Mygazines is an interactive marketing solution that lets you enhance, distribute and track your content on any web enabled device, including desktop, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones. Looks like an app, works on any browser. Learn more.

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BMW i is a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit

BMW i supports Mashable’s Global Innovation Series. Follow BMW i on Twitter and Facebook.

Elance is where where businesses tap into the human cloud for immediate access to the talent they need, when they need it. Elance offers the flexibility to staff up or down, and is faster and less expensive than traditional staffing and outsourcing. Check out Startup Cloud to learn how to hire and manage in the human cloud.

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Discover Digital Group is a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

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Global Strategic Management Institute is a leading source of knowledge for today's leaders. Its Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more at

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Mynewsdesk's social media newsrooms makes it easier to exchange news and multimedia content with key influencers, reach the top of search engines and automatically update your social media outlets and homepage. Learn more.

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Ford supports Mashable Explore. The Content Exploration Series is presented by Mashable Explore, a new way to discover resources and information on your favorite Mashable topics. Mashable Explore is brought to you by the all-new, 100% reinvented 2011 Ford Explorer. Drive One.

Check out Mashable Explore here and follow Ford on Twitter and Facebook.

Site24x7, an online website monitoring service which allows users to monitor their website, web application and online web transactions. Users can get instant alerts when their website goes down. Site24x7 allows monitoring from across 25+ global locations. Site24x7 pricing starts from $1/Month/URL. Sign up for a 15-day Free Trial!

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With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

IDG supports Mashable’s Modern Media Agency Series.

Elsevier‘s SciVerse Application Marketplace and Developer Network enables developers to build apps based on trusted scientific content. In 2008, the prominent science publisher Elsevier launched SciVerse to provide developers with access to ample research data. SciVerse also sponsors "Apps for Science," a $35,000 developer challenge to accelerate science. Learn more.

SciVerse supports Mashable’s Future Web Series. Follow SciVerse on Twitter and Facebook.

HubSpot offers inbound marketing software that helps small and medium sized businesses get found on the Internet by the right prospects and converts more of them into leads and customers. HubSpot's software platform includes tools that allow professional marketers and small business owners to manage SEO, blogging, social media, landing pages, e-mail, lead intelligence and marketing analytics. Learn more.

Hubspot supports Mashable’s Digital Marketing Series, and follow HubSpot on Twitter and Facebook.

Vocus helps businesses get heard and talked about on social media and beyond. It brings you all the conversations that matter, without information overload, and lets you find influencers fast. Take a quick online demo and see what it can do.

Vocus supports Mashable's Social PR Series, and follow Vocus on Twitter and Facebook.

Level 3 Communications is an international provider of fiber-based communications services. Level 3 is committed to carrying digital media from anywhere to anywhere, in whatever format needed.

Level 3 supports Mashable’s Social Gaming Development Series.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset platform is redefining mobility by offering an optimal combination of mobile processing performance, powerful multimedia, wireless connectivity and power efficiency. Inside your smartphone beats the heart of a dragon.

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Oneupweb is an agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Keep up with Oneupweb through its blog and monthly newsletter.

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SoftLayer provides global, on-demand data center and hosting services from facilities across the U.S. it leverages best-in-class connectivity and technology to innovate industry leading, fully automated solutions that empower enterprises with complete access, control, security, and scalability.

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SRDS connects agencies, brands and media through its online database of media planning data. SRDS is committed to making it easier to buy online ad space and build integrated marketing campaigns. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of the SRDS consumer and business database here.

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Buddy Media is Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to manage multiple brands on Facebook with this webinar.

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Clickatell was the first provider of Online SMS Gateway connectivity, and after 10 years, is still the leading provider. Clickatell can deliver your SMS text messages to over 818 mobile networks in more than 222 countries and territories.

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BizSpark is a program which offers new software businesses and entrepreneurs access to Microsoft design, development and production tools with no upfront costs for up to three years. Learn more or connect with a Microsoft BizSpark advisor here.

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Webtrends founded the web analytics industry in 1993. Today, its leadership extends much further to social media measurement, paid-search optimization and connecting the online and offline data silos scattered throughout organizations. Webtrends helps you analyze the data generated by your web site, blogs, online campaigns and enterprise systems to understand your customers and, ultimately, business opportunities.

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Rackspace Hosting is the world’s leader in the hosting and cloud computing industry. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support® to its customers across a portfolio of IT services. For more information, visit is hosted on Rackspace, and Rackspace sponsors Mashable’s Web Development Series. Check it out here, and follow Rackspace on Twitter.

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ConcentricSky offers web and mobile development with a focus on emerging technologies. With partners ranging from National Geographic and Encyclopedia Britannica to NASA and The World Bank, Concentric Sky is known for delivering innovative, world-class software solutions.

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10 Excellent Free eCards for Father’s Day

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 08:41 AM PDT

As you no doubt already know, June 19 is Father’s Day. This year, why not send your dear old dad an ecard? More interactive than a traditional card, they’re the eco-friendly alternative and — let’s face it — darn handy if you’ve left it to the last minute.

Whatever your relationship with Dad, we’ve got a card for it. With 10 great Father’s Day designs ranging from traditional greetings to more contemporary shoutouts, all of these great ones are free!

Take a look through the gallery to see our picks and let us, and the Mashable readership, know of any other complimentary ecard services you would recommend in the comments below.

1. One in a Million Dad From 123Greetings

Simple but effective, 123Greeting's "One in a Million" design will show your dad how you feel.

2. Bull*&%$ From Cerebral Itch

Cerebral Itch offers some darkly comedic ecards with great punchlines, ideal for any dads with a wicked sense of humor.

3. Playful Father's Day From Hallmark

Perfect for dads that are handy around the house, this DIY-themed missive should put a smile on his face.

4. It's a Dad's Life From American Greetings

Reminiscent of Toyota's great "Swagger Wagon" viral ad, this video should raise a laugh on the 19th.

5. To My Dear Dad by HipsterCards

HipsterCards echo nostalgia with rad retro options.

6. Dad's Day From Hallmark

Is your dad a cool cat? If so, this jazzy card is just the ticket.

7. Today is All About You From American Greetings

This nice animation gives your dad permission to prop up his feet and relax on Father's Day.

8. Someecards

Funnies abound on Someecards with great one-liners like "Dad, you've always been like a father to me." They guarantee the guffaws come Sunday.

9. Dad, Jack of All Trades From Pingg

Is your dad a Jack of all trades? This personalized card should hit the spot.

10. Soppy Dad From eCards

Finally, this animation's old-fashioned humor concludes our gallery with a soppy sigh. Aw!

More About: ecards, Father's Day, gallery, Holidays, List, Lists

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Saudis Use Social Media To Document Campaign for Women’s Right To Drive

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 08:18 AM PDT

@Maialshareef Tweeted Picture

Saudi women — and the men who support them — are tweeting updates as they drive cars through Saudi Arabia on Friday as part of an initiative that defies a ban on female drivers.

A large number of tweets can be viewed under the #Women2Drive hashtag. The majority of reports indicate that women have been able to drive freely without interference from police. As one Twitter user, @Maialshareef, said after posting a picture of herself ready to drive outside her house: “Ready to go, police car saw me and did nothing.”

Mohammad Al-Qahtani, co-founder and president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, tweeted: “My wife, Maha, and I have just come from a 45-minute drive, she was the driver through Riyadh streets.”

One email update from Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt does indicate that at least one woman was stopped by police, but accompanied home without being arrested.

In the meantime, the campaign has received a bit of high profile male support from Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, who tweeted: “I support the movement and #freedom of choice for my sisters in Saudi.”

A couple of YouTube videos featuring women driving through Saudi Arabia have also started to surface, while international support for the campaign continues to surge. On Thursday, Leilani Munter — an American race car driver — uploaded a video of herself honking a horn in support of Saudi women. Munter’s video is part of the Honk for Saudi Women viral video page on YouTube.

The mass campaign is the culmination of a social media push for Saudi women to drive their own cars in an effort to overturn a ban on female drivers in their country. The country, said to be the only one that does not allow women to drive, has no official law on the matter in place. But religious rulings typically enforced by police have had the same effect as a ban, and women must rely on live-in chauffers or male relatives for transportation.

The campaign received much attention last month when Manal al-Sherif, a key figure in the driving movement, was arrested after uploading a YouTube video that featured her driving around the city of Khobar. Al-Sherif was eventually released after promising she would stop driving and would no longer take part in Women2Drive, which called for Saudi women with international licenses or licenses from other countries to go behind the wheel on June 17.

But support for the movement continued both inside and outside Saudi Arabia. Now activists have even set up Manal Driving School, which is described as “a virtual driving school, offering information and driver education to future drivers, particularly women, who for cultural reasons prefer or are required to learn from a female driving instructor.”

The campaign will likely continue past Friday: As Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi female blogger based in Riyadh, told Mashable, she knows of a number of women who will choose a different day to make their case.

Saudi Woman Driving

Saudi Woman Driving

Leilani Munter Honks for Saudi Women's Driving Intiative

American race car driver Leilani Munter shows support for women in Saudi Arabia.

Image from yfrog, Mai AL-Shareef

More About: Saudi Arabia, saudi driving ban, social media, trending, twitter, women2drive, youtube

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Sleeptracker Pro Elite Watch Counts Your Zs With Ease

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 08:01 AM PDT

The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging … now that's positivenergy™.

Product: Sleeptracker Pro Elite Watch

Price: $180

What It’s Good For: Waking you up at the moment that will make you the least groggy; tracking how well you sleep; telling the time.

Who It’s Good For: Anyone who hates their alarm clock with a passion, and was going to buy a new watch anyway.

Limitations: Pricey; simplistic software; only keeps one night’s worth of sleep data at a time.

Bottom Line: A worthy addition to the pantheon of sleep-tracking gadgets.

A Closer Look at the Sleeptracker Pro Elite

Mashable‘s journey into the world of wrist-worn objects that track your vital signs continues. We reviewed the Nike+ GPS Sportswatch, then the Lark iPhone app and vibrating strap, and now a device that contains something of the functionality of both: the Sleeptracker Pro Elite Watch.

Sleeptracker watches have been around for a few years now, and every version bears only incremental improvements. The hyperbolic name of the 2011 model doesn’t exactly match what is new here: a somewhat slimmer, lighter form factor; a Mac version of the software (it was previously PC only) and a silent, vibrating alarm. That hardly says “Pro Elite” to me, though the price certainly does.

So why review it? Because incremental improvements and all, it may just do a better job than the Lark — and a rival iPhone app called Sleep Cycle — when it comes to getting your day started right.

The Lark’s vibrating alarm system is rigid about what time it’s going to wake you up. If you put 7:30 a.m. into the iPhone app, that’s when your wrist is going to be vibrated mercilessly. But both the Sleeptracker watch and the Sleep Cycle app make allowances for, well, your sleep cycle. You get to set a certain window of time before the alarm — Sleeptracker recommends 20 minutes, Sleep Cycle prefers 30 — in which the watch or the app will sense your micro-movements, looking for the signs of lighter sleep. Whenever you’re nearest wakefulness, that’s when you’ll be gently roused, shaken (in the Sleeptracker’s case) as if by a watchful butler.

Sleep Cycle for the iPhone costs a mere dollar, and it’s definitely worth trying out before you embark on any of these more expensive sleep-tracking purchases. It uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to judge your movement. According to the app, you’re supposed to put the plugged-in phone face-down under your sheet next to your pillow — not under the pillow, as the alarm will get muffled. For me, it doesn’t work. There isn’t enough real estate between my pillow and the end of my bed for it to reside comfortably, and having the touchscreen face-down seems to mean it hits its own snooze button the moment it wakes up.

The Sleeptracker doesn’t have that problem, residing on your wrist, looking and feeling like an ordinary digital watch. If the goal is to track your micromovements (as the Lark, Sleep Cycle and Sleeptracker are all trying to do), surely it makes sense to carry the sensing device on the body, and not have it sitting on the mattress like a seismologist (what if I’m over on the other side of the bed?).

Father’s day is coming up fast — so if your dad is a bear in the mornings, this might help him feel more rested when he rises. Of all the sleep devices and systems out there, Sleeptracker seems the one a Dad would most likely take to bed night after night. Perhaps that is one of the best compliments you can pay a device that is trying to cure a universal problem.

The Clip

To make a USB connection between the watch and your computer, Sleeptracker requires you to use an odd kind of cable that clips on to three indentations in the back of the watch.

The Indentations

A close-up view without the clip.

The Watch

The Sleeptracker, shown in the mode that allows you to set the window of time in which you want to be woken.

Sleeptracker Data

The Sleeptracker desktop app is a very simple affair ...

Lark data

... certainly compared to what you get with the Lark device and iPhone app.

Series Supported by Energizer®

The Gadget of the Day Series is supported by the Energizer® Inductive Charger, which brings you the next generation of charging with Qi technology. Qi is the new universal standard for wireless charging. Energizer® has always been designed with performance and responsibility in mind … now that's positivenergy™.

More About: Alarm, Gadget of the Day Series, gadgets, LARK, sleep, Sleep Cycle, sleep cycle alarm clock, watch

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Spotify Scores $100M in Funding, Will Launch This Summer in U.S. [REPORT]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 07:44 AM PDT

For months, we’ve been hearing rumors that Spotify had raised $100 million in funding from DST, Kleiner Perkins and Accel. Now it seems that round has finally closed, giving the music subscription service a $1 billion valuation.

All Things Digital is reporting that with this influx of cash, the service can likely launch in the U.S. this summer. Spotify already reportedly signed licensing deals with UMG, EMI and Sony, and is in talks with Warner Music Group.

“We’re signing the remaining deals as I speak,” Jonathan Forster, general manager of Europe and global vice president of ad sales at Spotify, said at a conference in London this week. Still, Forster told Silicon Valley Watcher that the service won’t launch stateside before July 5.

So why has it been taking so long to bring Spotify to the States? The U.S. record companies were reportedly not overly enthusiastic about Spotify's "freemium" business model, where the company gives away ad-supported music in hopes of signing paying subscribers to its ad-free version. That premium service lets users choose and replay their music.

Still, Spotify cut back on free music in May, requiring users to pay for deeper access, so the company is clearly open to compromise.

It seems rumors have been swirling about Spotify nonstop lately, with folks speculating that it would partner with Google for a cloud-based music service (it didn’t) and that Facebook is interested in teaming up (it’s probably not).

This recent report can’t be confirmed with Spotify because the company never comments on such deals, but it doesn’t seem out of the question. All four major labels recently signed licensing deals with Apple for its iTunes to the Cloud and iTunes Match services, which seems to indicate that the majors are opening up to the ways of the digital age (iTunes in the Cloud is free, and iTunes Match costs around $25 per year). Still, Apple has a lot more clout than Spotify.

It’s been slow going when it comes to bringing Spotify to the U.S., and with plenty of longstanding competitors already in the ring, we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of impact it makes if/when it arrives.

More About: funding, music, spotify

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Consumer Reports Ranks Nook Over Kindle

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 07:25 AM PDT

Consumer Reports has ranked Barnes & Noble’s recently launched Nook ereader over Amazon’s latest-generation Kindle for the first time ever.

The Simple Touch Reader (pictured above) “matches or bests — albeit modestly — its Amazon competitor in almost every aspect of performance,” the magazine says.

The findings come as little surprise. As we noted in a review last month, the new Nook does improve upon the Kindle 3 in several respects — particularly by offering a touchscreen and double the battery life. B

But the victory is likely to be short-lived. Amazon is ripe to launch the next generation of its Kindle device this summer, as it has for the past three consecutive summers.

If you’re in the market for an ereader this summer, we’d still advise you to wait until the next Kindle is announced before making a decision, Consumer Reports rankings aside.

More About: amazon, barnes & noble, ereaders, Kindle, nook

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Rebecca Black’s “Friday” Is Back [UPDATE]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 07:10 AM PDT

Update: It seems as though Rebecca Black does not have an official Vevo channel at this time, according to a rep. This channel was not, in fact, created by Vevo. We’re trying to find out more about the Vevo branding and where the channel came from.

Update 2: The Vevo-branded video is down “because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.” We’ve substituted the video from the one place on the web where “Friday” still seems to be consistently available, SchoolTube.

We all shed bitter tears Thursday when Rebecca Black‘s poppy hit disappeared from YouTube due to copyright claims from the girl herself. But today, my friends, is Friday, because the video is back once more (also, it’s actually Friday).

Looks like Black has moved to a Vevo-branded channel from her humble beginnings on YouTube. We’ve reached out to Vevo for comment. In the meantime, rejoice!

[h/t @dogbomb]

More About: Friday, Rebecca Black, vevo, video, viral video, youtube

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3 Issues Hindering the Spread of Connected TV

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 06:56 AM PDT

tv image

Lee Yi is the founder of Drund, where he spends his time researching and creating ways for web technologies to improve our personal and professional lives.

Connected TV is being touted as a customizable and interactive experience. However, three key issues stand in the way of achieving that promise.

Those obstacles are content provider bundle packages, a lacking interface standard and network infrastructure. These issues will have to be addressed by content creators, cable companies, consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers and network providers before consumers will even get a whiff of interactive content.

Here’s a closer look at what the industry is up against.

1. Flawed Content Pricing System

For decades, consumers have been relegated to paying for cable or satellite services in bundled packages. This model rose from content creators forcing cable companies to take on new or less popular channels in order to have access to more popular stations. This often leads consumers to question why they have channel options that do not interest them in the slightest. It’s an antiquated approach that flies in the face of current consumer behavior. Viewers want to customize and access content on their own terms.

Evolving beyond the bundling model will help content creators and cable companies create a financial outlet that maintains profits while providing consumers with a more relevant product. An opt-in targeted advertising model would allow consumers to either pay a premium to bypass commercials or agree to view targeted ads and receive a lower service rate.

Advertisers would also benefit by receiving assurances that their spots are reaching targeted, relevant audiences. This is simply not possible in the bundling model or with Nielsen boxes. Gleaning this level of user data would finally put the entertainment industry on par with the Facebooks and Googles of the world. Consumers will then benefit from access to custom content.

2. Consumer Electronics Fall Victim to Gimmicks

Right now, connected TV is lagging because there is no standard interface. While consumers were looking for new ways to interact with their TVs, CE manufacturers were investing in 3D technology. Avatar may have looked great in theaters, but consumers do not want to purchase and maintain glasses and sets for their home viewing. Entertainment should not create more work for viewers.

Unfortunately, reaching for 3D put connected TV’s social interface on the backburner and created another barrier for adoption. Poor user interfaces (UI) are standing in the way of high level, social interaction on TV. Simply put, television was not originally created to be connected. Even the most advanced remotes still base interaction on left, right, up, down and enter buttons. Smart TVs utilizing a browser forget that websites were created for a keyboard and mouse, not a TV remote control. Pushing content using a device that was never designed for text or complex UI elements is counterintuitive and clumsy.

Interestingly, Microsoft may have found an answer to the UI problem with Kinect, a hands-free gaming interface. The Xbox add-on could end up having users control their TVs the way Tony Stark interacts with his super-powered lab. By using Kinect’s multiple cameras and voice activation, users do not need a remote.

Apple fans can attest that great user experience and good information architecture are the hallmarks of brand loyalty. Microsoft may have created the ultimate entertainment UI device with Kinect, and paved the way for TV to become as social as the web.

3. Current Broadband Networks Cannot Handle Cord Cutters

Consumer response to bundled services has been simply to cut the cable cord and rely on the Internet to stream video content, and the U.S. broadband network could not support an all digital TV push.

Coming out of Netflix’s Q3 2010 earnings report, a Sandvine research study found that Netflix’s 16.9 million subscribers accounted for 20% of the peak downstream Internet traffic in October 2010. If Netflix alone is accounting for 20% of congestion, an HD stream of the Super Bowl and its 111 million viewers would shut the network down.

Connected TV is best served by having dual delivery methods. In this model, content can be delivered via a traditional coaxial connection while interactive features can stream through an IP connection. The network can handle sending the bulk of video through cable and the IP can handle the cool stuff like sharing theories on your favorite shows or discovering the history behind Game of Thrones.

When these issues are addressed, TVs will become yet another connected screen where a consumer’s data can be accessed and used to improve the user experience. Then TV will join the connected interactive experiences that are already being enjoyed on smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Chloester

More About: cable, connected tv, connected tvs, gadgets, home theater, IP, media, tech, technlogy, television, tv

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The Beastie Boys Wish You a Happy Father’s Day in New Commercial [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 06:47 AM PDT

Forget ties and mugs, all dear old Dad wants for that commercial sham known as Father’s Day is the Beastie Boys’ new record on vinyl — or so goes the message of a new video from the band.

The Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 dropped at the end of April, following a leak that impelled the band to stream the entire thing (the explicit version) on its website.

This isn’t the first video released to promote the album — there was also a star-studded, 30-minute video on Hulu called Fight for Your Right — Revisited, which features Seth Rogen, Jack Black, Danny McBride, Elijah Wood, Will Ferrell and Susan Sarandon, among others. A shorter version exists on YouTube.

This one isn’t so heavy on the stars, but it does feature children munching on records, which is sure to get fans hungry for the June 21 release of The Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 on vinyl.

More About: beastie boys, Commercial, Father's Day, MARKETING, music, The Hot Sauce Committee pt 2, youtube

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Nokia Windows Phones To Hit Europe This Year

Posted: 17 Jun 2011 06:09 AM PDT

Nokia is very aware of its plummeting smartphone market share, but the only thing it can do at this point — after abandoning Symbian and MeeGo and switching to Windows Phone 7 as its main smartphone platform — is try to speed up its roadmap.

Originally, the first Windows Phone 7 devices manufactured by Nokia were slated to hit the market in 2012, but now Nokia has pushed the pace a bit.

Speaking at the 2011 Mobile Telecompaper conference, Vice President of Nokia Europe Victor Saeijs said that the first Nokia WP7 devices will hit the market in 2011 — and he even said he had one in his pocket, but he chose not to share it with the audience as it was an early pre-production prototype.

Nokia plans to launch the first Windows Phone 7 devices in six European countries: The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Interestingly, Finland — the country Nokia is based in — is absent from the list.

[via Windows Phone News, All About Phones]

More About: europe, microsoft, Nokia, Nokia Windows Phone 7, smartphone, windows phone 7, wp7

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