Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Pottermore Revealed To Be an Interactive Harry Potter Experience [PICS]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Pottermore Revealed To Be an Interactive Harry Potter Experience [PICS]”


Pottermore Revealed To Be an Interactive Harry Potter Experience [PICS]

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 04:10 AM PDT


Pottermore, a mysterious new site by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, is an online hub for everything Harry Potter-related, Rowling revealed on YouTube on Thursday.

Pottermore, which Rowling created in partnership with Sony, will include an interactive reading experience of the Harry Potter books. Fans will also be able to buy audio books and, for the first time, Harry Potter novels as ebooks.

The site goes live in October, but some users will be able to enter early. Additional details about that will be revealed on the site on July 31, but Rowling dropped a clue for those aching to enter the site early: “Follow the Owl.”

Earlier reports that Pottermore is an online gaming site seem to have been incomplete. Gaming elements, such as accomplishments and virtual items, are visible in some of the photos on the site; however, Rowling doesn’t directly mention the gaming element in her announcement.

Check out the video of the announcement, as well as a gallery of images from the site below.


Pottermore





Pottermore





Pottermore





Pottermore




More About: harry potter, J.K. Rowling, pottermore

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Hulu Plus Now Available for Android

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 03:41 AM PDT


Premium Hulu service Hulu Plus is now available for Android, albeit only for a limited number of devices.

The folks at Hulu call it “the first phase of the Android rollout,” and it means that Hulu Plus is available on six devices: Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Droid II, Motorola Droid X, and Motorola Atrix.

Hulu says it plans to add support for more Android smartphones “throughout the year”.

The app itself is a free download in the Android Market, but you need to be a Hulu Plus subscriber to use it.

More About: android, hulu, hulu plus, ONLINE VIDEO, video

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New Music Video Created Entirely With iPad Brushes App [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 09:43 PM PDT

Animator Shawn Harris picked up an iPad with the Brushes app on board and created a lively and colorful music video for the group Blush featuring Snoop Dogg. Who knew this was even possible? It’s the first music video created entirely using the Brushes app for iPad.

As you can see in the “making of” video for the group’s debut single “Undivided,” Shawn drew the individual frames on the iPad Brushes [iTunes link] app, it recorded each of the frames, and when he emailed the resulting file to himself, he had the makings of a stylized and highly creative animation.

Great stuff. The group Blush is impressive, too. Take a look at the finished product:

More About: apps, Blush, brushes, ipad, iPad two, music video, snoop dogg, video

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What’s Happening Around You? Banjo Knows

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:25 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: Banjo

Quick Pitch: Banjo harnesses publicly-available social and local information and gives users the ability to filter that content based on their interests and location.

Genius Idea: Discover what you might be missing in the world around you.


The marriage of the digital and physical realms is perhaps best made by way of location services that allow users to share their whereabouts and link them to venues, photos and objects.

And yet, that all-important physical link is often missed in real world scenarios when it matters most. Case in a point: An out-of-town friend posts a photo to Instagram from a place just a few miles away from you, but you never see the update, and you miss the chance to reconnect with an old friend.

Damien Patton says this very scenario was the impetus for his startup Banjo, a location-based mobile application to rule them all.

Banjo, launched Wednesday for iPhone and Android, isn’t a checkin application — although you can do that, too. Instead, it’s an aggregator of all location-based social updates and it’s designed for both social-mobile-local early adopters and newbies alike.

Banjo is intended to help you avoid missed opportunities, whether the opportunity takes the shape of a nearby friend or information shared by a nearby stranger. “Whatever it is that is going on around you,” Patton says, “it could have an impact on you in an important way.”

The application is simple to use. Fire it up and you’ll instantly see the 16 people nearest you, as sourced from numerous third-party public geo-tagged social media updates, and what they’re saying via a map or list view. Or optionally, navigate around the world to get a snapshot of what’s happening at any given place.

Banjo works whether or not you connect your own Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter or Gowalla accounts. When you connect your social accounts, the application highlights your friends and allows you to filter results for just your friends.

Patton says the mobile applications are ideal for right here, right now moments, but also useful if you wish to plan ahead. So you could, for instance, peek in on what’s happening at Disneyland, by way of status updates streaming in, and get some pre-visit information from strangers in the know.

“Whenever you open Banjo, you have an instant community, and you’re never alone,” says Patton.

Airports, he says, are already hotspots among day-one Banjo users. The assumption is that users are turning to Banjo to discover if friends happen to be just a few gates away.

Ultimately, Patton sees Banjo as a funnel for the noise coming out Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Gowalla, Facebook and so forth. “We’re making that information digestible for people at large,” he says.

Banjo has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in a round led by BlueRun Ventures.


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: Android App, banjo, bizspark, geolocation, iphone app, location, social media, spark-of-genius

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Lytro Camera Interactive Gallery Lets You Try The Magic Yourself [PICS]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 07:59 PM PDT


We showed you the Lytro Camera, which uses an entirely new way to take pictures, almost miraculously letting you forget about focusing and exposure, and concentrating on framing and art.

Now, we bring you an interactive gallery of simulated Lytro photos where you can adjust the focus in a way that’s similar to the final product’s behavior:



Pics and video courtesy Lytro

More About: focus, gallery, interactive, Lytro, pics, prototype, trending

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7 Free QR Code Reader Apps for Android [PICS]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 07:03 PM PDT


QR codes are all the rage these days, and if you’ve got an Android, you hold in your hand the power to unlock the mysteries of the QR code-spackled world.

These distinctive barcodes are generally square and rendered in simple black-and-white blotches. You’ll find them on TV shows, in print publications, in subway advertisements… Heck, we’re willing to say marketers will slap a QR code on anything that doesn’t move or talk. QR code clothing is also available.

QR codes are used to reveal more information about a product, service, event or person. Generally, they direct the scanning device to a special URL, video, coupon, event page, email address, or other digital signpost with more details and content.

To scan the codes, all you need is a mobile device with a camera and an app to interpret the data in the code.

SEE ALSO: Who's Really Scanning All Those QR Codes? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here is a handful of free and serviceable Android apps for scanning and deciphering QR codes. We welcome your suggestions and faves in the comments, as well!


Barcode Generator/Reader




Here's a simple tool for reading QR codes. It will also help you generate your own QR codes and supports all kinds of data, including event, contact, email, location, phone, sms, text, url and wifi.

Android Market link


ScanLife Barcode Reader




You can use this app to scan any barcode and launch the linked websites, videos or contact information. This app works for both QR codes and the UPC codes available on most packaged goods.

Android Market link


QuickMark QR Code Reader




The QuickMark app is a mobile barcode scanner that will let you grab data from just about any mobile barcode format. The app works hand-in-hand with QuickMark's Chrome browser extension, too.

Android Market link


i-nigma Barcode Scanner




i-nigma is one of the top-rated barcode scanners in the Android Market. It works for QR and other barcode types. Also, i-nigma's Shopper feature lets you search for low prices from online retailers, including Google Shoping, eBay and Amazon.com.

Android Market link


QR Droid




This app lets you can scan any QR code from your camera and you can read QR codes shown in Android's mobile browser, saved in your SD card, or stored anywhere on the web. You'll also be able to create your own QR codes either on your Android device or your computer.

Android Market link


Barcode Scanner




This multi-functional app allows you to scan barcodes of all kinds, including QR codes. You can also look up prices and reviews where applicable. You can even make your own QR codes to share your contacts, apps and bookmarks.

Android Market link


mobiScan QR




The lightweight mobiScan QR code reader is separate from the maker's UPC and other barcode scanners. The engineers behind this app say the single-function focus of the QR code application guarantees its superior performance and lightning-fast scanning.

Android Market link


More About: android, android appls, App, Mobile 2.0, qr code android, qr code app, qr code reader, qr code reader android, qr code scanner, qr code scanner android, qr code scanner app, QR Codes

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5 More Handy Web Apps to Save You Time at Work

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:59 PM PDT


This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Web apps are a friend to all who mash the keyboard from nine to five. They live in the cloud, are accessible from any Internet connection and are great for chopping those mundane work tasks off at the knees.

We’ve previously highlighted a batch of web apps that reduce the headaches and keystrokes associated with common tech chores, and after receiving some great feedback from readers, we thought it only right to hunt down a few more worthy bookmarkables.

See below for five more picks, and remember to leave your own time-saving web ditties in the comments.


1. PrintFriendly




While we all strive to live in a paperless world, sometimes you've just got to ruthlessly murder some innocent trees. Does that make you a bad person? Probably.

The next time you need to print something from the web, stop over at PrintFriendly first. It's a ridiculously simple way to distill nearly any web content down to a clean, ad-free document suitable for paper. And the best part? You can also generate beautiful PDFs that retain links and other formatting.

Goodbye, extra pages that are mostly empty space except for one banner ad and a URL at the bottom!

The next time you need to print something from the web, stop over at PrintFriendly first. It's a ridiculously simple way to distill nearly any web content down to a clean, ad-free document suitable for paper. And the best part? You can also generate beautiful PDFs that retain links and other formatting.

Goodbye, extra pages that are mostly empty space except for one banner ad and a URL at the bottom!


2. Vector Magic




Imagine this crazy scenario: The boss needs you to print up event flyers, but all she has is a tiny 100 pixel logo from the corporate website. (I warned you this was going to get crazy.)

Resizing this graphic with standard imaging software will render it pixelated and unprofessional. What you need is a vector asset — a mathematical representation of the logo that a graphic designer would use to scale the image at any size without sacrificing quality.

Vector Magic is a remarkable little app that translates standard web images (JPG, GIF, PNG, etc.) into scalable vector art. We gave it a shot with Mashable's logo, and the results were impressive and crisp. Mileage may vary depending on the complexity of the image, but even small, multicolored icons made great vectors in our testing. Photographs might get dicey, but it's worth a shot.

Vector Magic packs a bit too much power to be totally free, but you get the first two vectors on the house, and a basic account is only $7.95 per month for unlimited use — well worth it, especially if you're making a lot of PowerPoint presentations or websites.


3. Dummy Image




Speaking of images, are you ever building a presentation or website and find yourself in need of a visual placeholder? You you've got a killer stock handshake photo coming, but right now you're just getting your layout down, and the measurements need to be precise.

You could fire up ol' MS Paint, slice out a 600 by 300 pixel box, color it red, save it to your computer, open PowerPoint, import the image, what did I name the image?, I swear I just saved the image, is it in My Pictures?, I can't find the image, seriously where is this thing, restart MS Paint, ad infinitum.

Or, you could snag Dummy Image from your bookmarks bar, type in your dimensions and drag the graphic onto your slide.

I think we're done here.


4. SimplyNoise




Let's face it: Your coworkers are annoying and their incessant chatter makes it hard to focus on anything but cat pictures. Sure, Keith from accounting is a nice guy, but enough about Idol already, you're a grown man for God's sake.

We kindly recommend SimplyNoise, a white noise generator you can fire up with one click, should the office get rowdy during crunch time. In actuality, the app can generate three different kinds of static noise: white, pink and brown. If you're looking for warmer, less grating frequencies (like those found in a waterfall or an ocean), go with brown. The app even remembers your volume preferences.

Headphones sold separately.


5. ShowMeWhatsWrong.com




If you've ever provided tech support over the phone to a coworker (or a friend or family member, for that matter), you've probably already killed yourself, so no need to read any further.

If you are alive, and foresee this being an issue in the future, you've got to check out ShowMeWhatsWrong.com. It's a dead-simple way to share screencasts with a tech-troubled colleague.

There's no account to create, but you'll need to provide your email address so the app can share confirmations with you. Send a link to your coworker where he can record up to five minutes of his on-screen troubles. When he hits "stop," the app uploads and processes the video, and shoots a private URL back to you. View the screencast almost instantly, diagnose the problem (likely that the printer was not, in fact, plugged in), and be heralded as office hero. The videos are lightweight, smooth and expire after a week.

Considering how frustrating it can be to reliably capture on-screen video for other purposes, the ease of this web-based solution is pretty refreshing.


If you aren’t fist pumping at your desk right now over these life-changing websites, there’s probably little hope for you. Did we miss one that you can’t get through the day without? Share and share alike in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kemie

More About: apps, business, List, Lists, productivity, small business, web apps

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Here’s What Gunman Posted to Facebook During Standoff

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:55 PM PDT


Gunman Jason Valdez kept police at bay during a 16-hour standoff in Salt Lake City, Utah. All the while, Valdez was updating his public Facebook profile, keeping friends and family members current on his status, via mobile phone.

Valdez’s Facebook profile, still accessible on Facebook, lives to recount the odd tale. Friends, family members and strangers continue to post messages on his wall.

On Friday, June 17, Ogden police attempted to serve Valdez with a felony drug warrant after a missed court appearance. He then barricaded himself inside a hotel room and proceeded to update his Facebook profile as the situation developed.

Valdez posted six status updates — the first one posted Friday, June 17 at 10:23 p.m. and the last Saturday, June 18 at 6:25 a.m. The updates are included in chronological order below. Valdez also uploaded two photos of a female who police characterized as a hostage, and added a least a dozen new Facebook friends during the ordeal.

The standoff ended when police stormed the room and Valdez shot himself in the chest with a handgun. Valdez is reported to be in critical condition.

Warning — strong language:


Facebook Update: June 17 10:23 p.m.





Facebook Update: June 17, 10:24 p.m.





Facebook Update: June 17 11:09 p.m.





Facebook Update: June 18 2:30 a.m.





Facebook Update: June 18 4:43 a.m.





Facebook Update: June 18 6:25 a.m.





Facebook Photo Upload of Hostage





Second Facebook Photo Upload of Hostage




More About: facebook, Jason Valdez, social media, trending

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Winklevoss Twins Give Up on Facebook Case

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:20 PM PDT


After years of litigation and multiple appeals, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have decided to take their cash and end their judicial crusade against Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.

The twins, who became mainstream figures thanks to the success of The Social Network, accused Zuckerberg of stealing the idea and technology for Facebook when they were classmates at Harvard. The two sides settled in 2008 in a deal worth approximately $200 million today, but in the last year the twins have tried to appeal the settlement based on the claim Facebook and Zuckerberg defrauded them on the true value of Facebook stock.

The twins lost in an appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with the court declaring that, “at some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.” The Winkelvii didn’t agree though, and they appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, after “careful consideration,” the twins have decided to withdraw their appeal, according to Reuters.

We’re not surprised: the U.S. Supreme Court was extremely unlikely to even take their case, much less rule in their favor. We doubt this will be the last time we hear from the twins, though.

More About: Cameron Winklevoss, facebook, mark zuckerberg, Tyler Winklevoss, Winklevoss twins

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10 Years in Afghanistan: A Decade in Flickr Photos [PICS]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:45 PM PDT


As U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the nation regarding the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, we turn our attention to the men and women whose military service has taken them to that country.

Currently, around 100,000 troops occupy Afghanistan. Around half of that number were deployed by President Obama in 2009.

However, as the occupation of Afghanistan becomes increasingly unpopular with citizens across the political spectrum, increasing pressure is on the President and his advisors to bring the troops home.

SEE ALSO: Obama Address on Afghanistan Troops: Here's Where To Watch Online

Here are some images posted to Flickr by the National Guard, the U.S. Army, and servicemen and women themselves. We hope all serving now in Afghanistan are able to make a safe and speedy return to their loved ones at home.


Afghanistan From Above




Army Sgt. 1st. Class Veronica Ashe scans the Afghanistan countryside during a recent mission.

Photo by Capt. Thomas Cieslak courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


Obama Surprises Troops




President Barack Obama waves to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Marine Honors Fallen Family Man




First Sgt. Dennis M. Bradley, non-kinetic fire support chief for 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, touches the identification tags of Lance Cpl. Michael E. Geary, a rifleman with Fox Company, 2/9, Dec. 17, during a memorial service at Camp Hanson in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Geary made the ultimate sacrifice while conducting combat operations in northern Marjah, Dec. 8. Regimental Combat Team 1.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Waterfall in Afghanistan




Coalition Forces walk by a waterfall in Jalrez Valley while traveling to the village of Sequala to conduct Key Leader Engagement.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt Russell Gilchrest courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


Improving Governance in Khost Province




Abdul Jabar Naeemi, Khost Province governor, listens to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Willie Billingslea, from Atlanta, Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team commander, during a meeting to discuss the concerns, current events and the future of the Khost PRT, May 13.

Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Julianne M. Showalter, courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


On Patrol in Afghanistan




Capt. Nathan Springer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Commander, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), looks up the mountain on July 19 while on patrol during Operation Saray Has. During Operation Saray Has, two rocket positions were found that had been previously used to attack Forward Operating Base Naray.

Image courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Helping the Wounded




Greenwich, Ohio native, Army Pfc. Sarah Becker a medic with the 173rd ABCT Special Troops Battalion, treats her patient, Waqas Hayat, a garment worker in Kabul after an automobile accident near Camp Torkham on Aug. 21.

Image courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Bravo Troop Provides Overwatch Security




U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Denery, a Cherokee, Iowa, resident and fire support specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, on a mission with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, uses binoculars to scan his sector of fire during a dismounted patrol in the Khoe-Safi District, Dec. 9. Denery provides overwatch security for fellow service members patrolling Dandarh Village. Bravo Troop visited the village to conduct a patrol and to establish a relationship with the village malik and elders.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Operation Champion Sword




U.S. Army Pfc. Branden Hazuka, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, searches a qallat, or an Afghan home, for explosives and weapons during an air assault mission in Khost province, Afghanistan during Operation Champion Sword, Aug. 2. Afghan national security forces and International Security Assistance Forces teamed up for the joint operation, targeting specific militants in eastern Afghanistan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Operation Saray Has




A Soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), watches cattle run for their lives while a CH-47 helicopter prepares to land on Landing Zone Shetland during Operation Saray Has July 19 near Forward Operating Base Naray, Afghanistan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, familymwr


Fighting in Kunar Province Mountains




U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, left, supervises and provides security for Pfcs. Jonathan Ayers and Adam Hamby while they emplace an M240 machine gun as part of a fighting position in the mountains of Afghanistan's Kunar Province on Oct. 23, 2007. The soldiers are all from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment.

DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley, U.S. Army, courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Soldiers Lay Down Mortar Fire




Spc. Gareth Warner drops a 120mm mortar round into the tube while Spc. Ricky Olivo keeps the gun on target during a fire mission on Combat Outpost Zurok in Paktika province, Afghanistan, July 13. The Soldiers are deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Medic Treats Soldier




A special forces team medic assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan applies medical treatment to another Soldier who received shrapnel wounds from an RPG explosion while battling Taliban fighters in the Sangin District area of Helmand Province April 10. The soldier was able to continue fighting minutes later.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Daniel Love courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Helping Patients in Uruzgan Province




U.S. Army Soldiers help injured Afghan villagers onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an operation to transport patients in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nicholas T. Loyd courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


A Soldier Gets a Hand




An Afghanistan national police officer helps U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jonathon Reabe, of the Provincial Reconstruction Team from Forward Operating Base Kalagush, out of a pool he fell into while crossing a stream during a patrol of Balik in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan June 14, 2007.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Bracken courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Homecoming




Amber Caskey hugs her boyfriend, Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman, during a welcome home ceremony held May 1, 2011, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., for members of the Kentucky National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team II. Comprised of about 60 Army and Air National Guardsmen, KYADT II just returned from a 12-month deployment Afghanistan, where they worked to make Afghani farmers become agriculturally self-sufficient, fostered business opportunities through a women's-empowerment initiative and provided force protection.

U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Dale Greer courtesy of Flickr, thenationalguard

More About: barack obama, flickr, gallery, military, obama, Photos, Political, politics

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Obama Address on Afghanistan Troops: Here’s Where To Watch Online

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 03:10 PM PDT


U.S. President Barack Obama will address the nation Wednesday night, and he is expected to make an announcement regarding the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The president’s remarks will begin at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT.

You can watch the address live online at WhiteHouse.gov’s livestreaming page. CBS will also be broadcasting the address, and the network’s coverage will also be available online.

Anonymous sources told The Washington Post the president plans to announce that he will bring home 10,000 U.S. troops this year, along with an additional 23,000 troops by the end of September 2012.

SEE ALSO: Obama: "We Are a Nation of Google and Facebook"

Currently, around 100,000 U.S. military personnel are in Afghanistan, and almost half of that number were sent by Obama in 2009.

November will marked the tenth year the U.S. military has been engaged in Afghanistan, and the occupation has become increasingly unpopular in the past several years.


Afghanistan From Above




Army Sgt. 1st. Class Veronica Ashe scans the Afghanistan countryside during a recent mission.

Photo by Capt. Thomas Cieslak courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


Obama Surprises Troops




President Barack Obama waves to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Marine Honors Fallen Family Man




First Sgt. Dennis M. Bradley, non-kinetic fire support chief for 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, touches the identification tags of Lance Cpl. Michael E. Geary, a rifleman with Fox Company, 2/9, Dec. 17, during a memorial service at Camp Hanson in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Geary made the ultimate sacrifice while conducting combat operations in northern Marjah, Dec. 8. Regimental Combat Team 1.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Waterfall in Afghanistan




Coalition Forces walk by a waterfall in Jalrez Valley while traveling to the village of Sequala to conduct Key Leader Engagement.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt Russell Gilchrest courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


Improving Governance in Khost Province




Abdul Jabar Naeemi, Khost Province governor, listens to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Willie Billingslea, from Atlanta, Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team commander, during a meeting to discuss the concerns, current events and the future of the Khost PRT, May 13.

Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Julianne M. Showalter, courtesy of Flickr, isafmedia


On Patrol in Afghanistan




Capt. Nathan Springer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Commander, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), looks up the mountain on July 19 while on patrol during Operation Saray Has. During Operation Saray Has, two rocket positions were found that had been previously used to attack Forward Operating Base Naray.

Image courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Helping the Wounded




Greenwich, Ohio native, Army Pfc. Sarah Becker a medic with the 173rd ABCT Special Troops Battalion, treats her patient, Waqas Hayat, a garment worker in Kabul after an automobile accident near Camp Torkham on Aug. 21.

Image courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Bravo Troop Provides Overwatch Security




U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Denery, a Cherokee, Iowa, resident and fire support specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, on a mission with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, uses binoculars to scan his sector of fire during a dismounted patrol in the Khoe-Safi District, Dec. 9. Denery provides overwatch security for fellow service members patrolling Dandarh Village. Bravo Troop visited the village to conduct a patrol and to establish a relationship with the village malik and elders.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Operation Champion Sword




U.S. Army Pfc. Branden Hazuka, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, searches a qallat, or an Afghan home, for explosives and weapons during an air assault mission in Khost province, Afghanistan during Operation Champion Sword, Aug. 2. Afghan national security forces and International Security Assistance Forces teamed up for the joint operation, targeting specific militants in eastern Afghanistan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Operation Saray Has




A Soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), watches cattle run for their lives while a CH-47 helicopter prepares to land on Landing Zone Shetland during Operation Saray Has July 19 near Forward Operating Base Naray, Afghanistan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, familymwr


Fighting in Kunar Province Mountains




U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, left, supervises and provides security for Pfcs. Jonathan Ayers and Adam Hamby while they emplace an M240 machine gun as part of a fighting position in the mountains of Afghanistan's Kunar Province on Oct. 23, 2007. The soldiers are all from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment.

DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley, U.S. Army, courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Soldiers Lay Down Mortar Fire




Spc. Gareth Warner drops a 120mm mortar round into the tube while Spc. Ricky Olivo keeps the gun on target during a fire mission on Combat Outpost Zurok in Paktika province, Afghanistan, July 13. The Soldiers are deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Image courtesy of Flickr, dvids


Medic Treats Soldier




A special forces team medic assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan applies medical treatment to another Soldier who received shrapnel wounds from an RPG explosion while battling Taliban fighters in the Sangin District area of Helmand Province April 10. The soldier was able to continue fighting minutes later.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Daniel Love courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Helping Patients in Uruzgan Province




U.S. Army Soldiers help injured Afghan villagers onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an operation to transport patients in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nicholas T. Loyd courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


A Soldier Gets a Hand




An Afghanistan national police officer helps U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jonathon Reabe, of the Provincial Reconstruction Team from Forward Operating Base Kalagush, out of a pool he fell into while crossing a stream during a patrol of Balik in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan June 14, 2007.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Bracken courtesy of Flickr, soldiersmediacenter


Homecoming




Amber Caskey hugs her boyfriend, Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman, during a welcome home ceremony held May 1, 2011, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., for members of the Kentucky National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team II. Comprised of about 60 Army and Air National Guardsmen, KYADT II just returned from a 12-month deployment Afghanistan, where they worked to make Afghani farmers become agriculturally self-sufficient, fostered business opportunities through a women's-empowerment initiative and provided force protection.

U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Dale Greer courtesy of Flickr, thenationalguard

Top image courtesy of Flickr, The White House

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Saudi Women Drive Again as European Union Offers Support

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 02:54 PM PDT

More Saudi Arabian women drove their cars in the streets of capital Riyadh Wednesday, continuing a campaign — largely rooted in social media — to push the kingdom into overturning a ban on female drivers. At the same time, one of the European Union’s top diplomats sent a long-requested message of support for their campaign.

The drivers were Sara Al-Khalidi, who was accompanied by her mother, and Azza Al-Shamasi, who was accompanied and filmed by blogger Eman Al Nafjan. The group was also filmed by Saudi media group Rotana.

Al Nafjan also filmed another drive on June 17, the original day the Women2Drive movement called for Saudi women with international licenses, or licenses issued by foreign countries, to drive their own cars. According to an email from Change.org Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt, someone later broke the car’s glass and left a note in English that said, “Don’t drive again, Bitch.”

“This could have been a Saudi man or a hired driver worried about losing [his] job,” Joffe-Walt says.

MSNBC has a photo of a similar note attached to a smashed side mirror. The note appears to say “Plz Do Not Drive” on one side and “biatchhh” on the other. Al Nafjan’s family says it was placed as a warning after she was part of the June 22 drive through Riyadh, according to MSNBC. Al Nafjan could not be reached for comment.

The Saudi driving ban on women is not based on any written law, but religious rulings enforced by police have prevented most women — Saudi and foreign — from driving. This has caused Saudi women to rely on live-in drivers or male relatives for transportation, leading to the Women2Drive movement, which began picking up momentum on social media sites around two months ago.

Women did go driving on the designated date of June 17, even though key organizer Manal al-Sherif was arrested and jailed for a few days in May after posting a video of herself driving on YouTube. Some women, like the ones who ventured out Wednesday, are also driving on later dates. According to most reports so far, women stopped by the police have only been briefly detained since they began driving June 17. At least one woman, Twitter user @Maha1410, received a ticket.

Al-Shamasi says she feels the campaign is moving slowly. But Al-Khalidi says she thinks it’s starting to move in a big way, adding that she’s even heard some positive feedback from the more conservative members of Saudi society.

“It seems that a lot of people are appreciating what’s happening,” Al-Khalidi says. “We are not against anyone. We are not trying to provoke anyone.” She does know of some women who have heard negative feedback, while she herself hasn’t received any.

Meanwhile, even Al-Shamasi thinks the campaign might pick up speed. “I think more people are going to drive soon, and we can see that through YouTube,” she says.


International Support


Women2Drive continues receiving attention outside Saudi Arabia. The latest message of support comes from Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ashton released a statement describing the women’s movement as “courageous.”

“The EU supports people who stand up for their right to equal treatment, wherever they are,” the statement reads. “The Saudi women who are taking to the road are exercising their right to demand that equality. They are courageous and have the High Representative’s support.”

The message came after more than 7,000 people signed a Change.org petition asking Ashton for a public declaration of support, and just one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced her support during a news conference.


More Stories About Women2Drive


North Dakotans Take to Twitter as River Floods in Minot [LIVE VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 02:47 PM PDT

Residents of Minot, North Dakota, have been fighting the Souris River for weeks. Today sirens sounded, alerting them of mandatory evacuations in areas where the waters spilled over the levees.

The river had been expected to top the levees Thursday morning, but Mayor Curt Zimbelman warned Wednesday morning that it would likely happen sooner. Sirens began sounding around 1 p.m. local time, according to the BBC.

“Resident in the affected areas need to prepare immediately for the oncoming floodwaters and expect high water to last for many days,” the National Weather Service said early Wednesday.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto,KeithBinns

More About: flood, Minot, natural disaster, North Dakota

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 02:19 PM PDT


If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:


Mashable Job Postings


Business Development Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.


Community Assistant at Mashable in New York, NY.


Community Director at Mashable in New York, NY.


Community Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.


Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.


Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.


Communications Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.


Campaign Specialist at Mashable in New York, NY.


Mashable Job Board Listings


Search Marketing Specialist at Embanet Compass Knowledge Group in Skokie, IL.


Director, Self Service – Digital Solutions Support at A Confidential Company in Dallas, TX.


Marketing Executive at Mind Movies in San Diego, CA.


Developer at Axis Studios in Los Angeles, CA.


Designer/Illustrator at Box.net in Palo Alto, CA.


Community and Social Media Manager at Gameloft in San Francisco, CA.


Final Cut Editor (Freelance) at TMG in Washington, D.C.


Social Media Producer at Everyday Health in New York, NY.


Social Media Marketing Intern at Likeable Media in Boston, MA.


Web Developer at NMD, Inc. in Sidell, LA.


Social Media Sales Consultant at Meltwater Buzz in Boston, MA.


Associate Marketing Strategist at ALLDAYEVERYDAY in New York, NY.


Community Manager at Everyday Health in New York, NY.


Digital Campaign Director at SEIU in New York, NY.


Web Developer/Analyst at Oxfam America in Boston, MA.


WordPress Web Developer at LifeShield, Inc. in Morrisville, PA.


Digital Marketing Analytics at The JAR Group in Brooklyn, NY.


Technical Manager at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, GA.


Senior Editor, News and Social Media at ABB in Zurich, Switzerland.


Community Manager at Strawberryj.am in Stockholm, Sweden.


Online Marketer at Groupon Korea in Seoul, South Korea.


Senior Account Director at M80 in Chicago, IL.


Social Media Community Manager at Porter Novelli in New York, NY.


Partner Relations Manager at USA Web Solutions in New York, NY.


Web Producer at YourTango in New York, NY.


Internet Marketing Specialist at Burkett Restaurant Equipment in Toledo, OH.


Account Manager at The Digital Brand Architects in New York, NY.


Account Executive at The Digital Brand Architects in New York, NY.


Mobile Designer at Everyday Health in New York, NY.


Associate Social Media Strategist at Morpheus Media in New York, NY.


Account Director at The Digital Brand Architects in New York, NY.


Contract Web Developer at GoGrid in San Francisco, CA.


Buzz Builder (Social Media Intern) at Likeable Media in New York, NY.


Registered Dietitian at Everyday Health, Inc. in North Adams, MA.


Mobile Product Manager at Bloomberg in New York, NY.


Product Manager – Consumer at Bloomberg in New York, NY.


Associate Director at Attention USA in New York, NY.


Creative Technologist at roundhouse in Seattle, WA.


Head of Business Development at Contently, Inc. in New York, NY.


Financial Analyst at Quirky in New York, NY.


Online Marketing Analyst SEO at ShopAtHome.com in Englewood, CO.


Digital Strategist at InterMundo Media in Boulder, CO.


Demand Side Platform (DSP) Manager at InterMundo Media in Boulder, CO.


Account Manager, Games at Adknowledge in Kansas City, MO.


Sales Account Executive at InterMundo Media in Boulder, CO.


Director of Client Services at InterMundo Media in Boulder, CO.


Distribution Production Assistant at TED Conferences in New York, NY.


Manager of Creative Media Design & Development at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, IN.


UI Designer/Front-End Developer at University of Michigan-Flint in Flint, MI.


Web Developer, Display Advertising at Adknowledge in Kansas City, MO.


Managing Editor, Digital Strategist at Contently in New York, NY.


Senior Designer at odopod in San Francisco, CA.


Marketing & Metrics Analyst at Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, NC.


Senior Account Supervisor – Digital at Edelman PR in San Francisco, CA.


Social Media Buyer – Digital at Edelman PR in San Francisco, CA.


Social Media Specialist at Zeno Group in Chicago, IL.


Creative Sales Strategist at Polyvore in Mountain View, CA.


Community Marketing Manager at Polyvore in Mountain View, CA.


Senior Product Manager at YouCast Corp in New York, NY.


Manager, Strategic Web Services at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD.


Bookkeeper/Executive Assistant at Dubspot in New York, NY.


Head of Communications, Innovations at Concern Worldwide US in New York, NY.


Big Brand Manager of Marketing Analytics and Reporting at DEI Worldwide in Los Angeles, CA.


Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on Mashable.com (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

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Famous DIY Haynes Manuals Finally Coming Online

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:54 PM PDT


The iconic Haynes Manuals, those encyclopedic tomes containing all the DIY knowledge any shade-tree mechanic needs to repair his or her car, are finally going to be available in digital form.

Called Haynes MOL (Manuals Online), the products will give home mechanics the same trusted information they’ve expected from print manuals for more than 50 years.

The manuals have been a mainstay in the home garage, containing hundreds of pictures and step-by-step instructions. They show readers how to do everything from a simple oil change to replacing a power steering pump.

Haynes Manuals are an empowering way for many car owners to save money and learn a lot about internal combustion engines as they maintain and repair their own vehicles — just as this writer did throughout college with the help of several Haynes Manuals and a string of clunkers.

SEE ALSO: 18 Tools to Track Car & Fuel Maintenance

The company has never before published online car repair manuals, but it has now begun demonstrating an electronic version of the manuals to major auto-repair retailers in the United States.

So why online manuals now? As it turns out, Haynes acquired digital shop Vivid Holding BV three years ago, and the online books represent a collaboration between the Haynes editorial team and Vivid’s tech team.

Haynes will begin its MOL roll-out with the 50 most popular Haynes titles, which will be for sale by subscription in the fall of 2011. The MOLs will also be tablet- and mobile-friendly. As the launch continues, more titles will be added. Print manual sales will also continue.

You’ll be able to purchase the manuals at Haynes.com or from any Haynes retailer’s website.

More About: car repais, diy, haynes, haynes manual, haynes manuals, haynes manuals online, online books

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35 YouTube Musicians Cover Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:35 PM PDT


Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

Apparently, yesterday’s infusion of Radiohead — in the form of the new track “Staircase” — wasn’t enough for their legions of fans. Now a video featuring “Paranoid Android” has hit the web.

The above video is reminiscent of the work of YouTube mash-up maestro Kutiman, built from covers from musicians around the world.

Folks who balked at Weezer’s cover of the jam: Who did it better?

More About: paranoid-android, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Mad Men’s Jon Hamm Signs for Another 3 Years & $250K Per Episode

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:09 PM PDT


Jon Hamm, star of AMC’s hit drama Mad Men, has just renewed his contract.

In the deal, Hamm agreed to another three years of the show, and he’s getting a hefty raise, too. The actor will be paid $250,000 per episode.

Given that the three-year contract includes 39 episodes, Hamm should be netting nearly $10 million by the time his contract is up and the Mad Men saga is over.

It seems like a whopping sum, but without Hamm’s character, Don Draper, Mad Men would quickly lose its luster for many fans.

SEE ALSO: Mad Med Coming to Netflix Instant

The series is slated to run through seven seasons. Creator Matt Weiner has said the seventh season will spell the end of Mad Men. Previously, Hamm’s contract guaranteed his appearance in the series through the sixth season. The renegotiation allowed AMC and Lionsgate to nail down Hamm’s terms through the end of the series.

[via Variety]

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Ryan Dunn Crash Report Released Online: Blood Alcohol Twice Legal Limit

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 01:03 PM PDT


A toxicology report released Wednesday indicates Jackass star Ryan Dunn‘s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of his fatal car crash on June 20.

Dunn’s blood alcohol level was 0.196% and “no drugs of abuse” were detected, the report states. The legal limit is 0.08% in Pennsylvania, where Dunn died.

The report also says Dunn’s vehicle, a Porsche, was traveling between 132 to 140 miles per hour at the time of the crash. That’s far faster than previous estimates of 100 mph.

After initially stating that toxicology results would take four to six weeks to deliver, the West Goshen Township Police Department provided the report Wednesday.

Early reports from Barnaby’s, the West Chester, Pennsylvania, bar that Dunn was at before the accident, indicated that the star had three beers and three shots of liquor.

The incredibly fast turnaround from the police department in the Dunn case may be associated with the growing media attention — online and off — related to the crash and the reaction from celebrities.

Film critic Roger Ebert has been criticized for insensitively remarking on Dunn’s fate on Twitter and Facebook. His Facebook page was briefly removed following complaints about his comment. Since then, Ebert has attempted to clarify his remarks, noting that the timing of his tweet may have been insensitive, but he still stood by them.

Dunn’s friends and family also posted remembrances on Twitter (see gallery below).


Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn





Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn




Photograph courtesy of Philly Metro

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Nazi Photographer Identified Thanks to New York Times Crowdsourscing

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:48 PM PDT


The New York Times just unlocked a mystery about a photo album taken during the Nazi era. The album is about 70 years old. The mystery was solved in about four hours.

The Times‘s photography blog Lens came upon the album’s 214 photos on Tuesday morning, EST. All but one was uncaptioned. The photos provided unfettered access to the Nazi war machine. One shot was only a few feet from Adolf Hitler. Others are from the Bavarian countryside and Munich and appear to be vacation pictures.

On Tuesday evening, the blog and a Spiegel Online site called EinesTages asked readers to help identify the photographer. Within a short time, a woman named Harriet Scharnberg wrote from Hamburg, Germany, claiming the photos were taken by Franz Kreiger, an Austrian photojournalist who had photographed Marlene Dietrich, among others, before the war. (See image.) Kreiger later joined the Nazi party and the SS, but left in 1941 to become a member of the Propagandakompanie, which disseminated propaganda on behalf of the Wehrmacht, the German home defense force.

Scharnberg knew of Kreiger because she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation at Martin Luther University on German prograpanda photos. In particular, Scharnberg had read a 2008 book The Salzberg Press Photographer Franz Krieger (1914-1993): Photojournalism in the Shadow of Nazi Propaganda and War by Peter F. Kramml. Kramml also responded and sent solid evidence that of the photos’ creator: A self-portrait taken by Krieger that’s identical to one in the album.

Though the photographer has been identified, there’s still a question of how the album made its way to the U.S. The blog notes that a New York-based garment executive lent the album to The Times, but the unnamed exec apparently doesn’t know the album’s origin. Kramml speculated that a U.S. soldier took the photos home after 1945.

Image courtesy of Salzburg Municipal Archive

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MOG Launches Moggles: Find Music By Snapping Album Art With Phone

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:26 PM PDT


Music subscription service MOG has gone all Google Goggles with a new update that lets you take pictures of album art in order to find music. Meet Moggles.

To find the tool, navigate to the second home screen of the (iPhone or Android) app — swipe to the right. Aim at an album of your choosing and snap away. Granted, Moggles is still in beta, so it still doesn’t work perfectly — in fact, a warning screen will pop up when you first use it that says that the service “may produce inaccurate or hilarious results.”

In my own test, I had issues locating music from snapshots of the CDs on my desk. However, when I tried snapping a pic of Beck’s Odelay on my computer screen, the album came right up on the app. Quirks aside, though, it’s a fun idea.

The update also includes the ability to favorite artists, albums, tracks and playlists; sign in from multiple devices (watch out Tennessee); and other tweaks.

Image courtesy of Flickr, freeloosedirt

More About: Mobile 2.0, MOG, Moggles, music

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Click This: Why Banner Ads Are Having a Banner Year

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:09 PM PDT


There's a great disconnect in the advertising world right now. On the one hand, everyone agrees that banner ads aren't working. The click-through rate for banners is still one in 1,000. If you're like most people, you've only clicked on a banner by accident and then cursed yourself for doing so.

On the other hand, banner ads are having a banner year. Analyst eMarketer this month had to double its online ad spending projections for 2011 because banners, a.k.a. display ads, are selling so well. By 2015, eMarketer predicts, display will overtake search ads as the top online ad segment. Facebook is girding for a $100 billion IPO and its business is mostly based on banner ads.

Clearly, the world has gone mad.

The other explanation is that most advertisers are able to see past click-through rates. They also understand that banners work like most advertising, which is to say in a fairly complex manner.

For instance, click-through is actually a poor measure of performance. It's impossible to click through a billboard ad, for example, but that doesn't mean it’s not effective. If you drive the same way to work every day for a month and see that same billboard for the new Adam Sandler movie, I'd bet you a Happy Gilmore DVD that you remember the name of the movie, know a bit about the premise and have already decided whether you want to see it or not. Yet, if that same ad appeared online, chances are you'd be among the 999 out of 1,000 who didn't click through to learn more.

The same is true for TV ads. Only a fraction of the commercials you see on TV are so-called “direct response” ads, which include an 800 number or website. The majority don't have any notable call to action.

For instance, there's a well-known Skittles ad that goes like this: An older man is sad because everything he touches turns to Skittles. While this sounds great to a young observer, the man points out that he can't hold his newborn baby boy in his arms or feed and dress himself. Then he goes to answer the phone, which turns into a pile of Skittles.


What is that all about?

Like most advertising these days, the Skittles ad isn't touting product attributes or trying to get you to run to the store to buy something. Instead, it's all attempting to build affinity with the brand. If you saw the Skittles ad and thought it was funny, then you might think more highly of Skittles vs. Good & Plenty. Or you might think Skittles is hip, like you, and Good & Plenty is something your parents like.

As the Sandler and Skittles examples show, advertising often has different goals. In the case of the hypothetical (and probably bad) Sandler movie, it was to raise awareness. For Skittles, it was to create a brand affinity. Sometimes you want to get into a consumer's consideration set (particularly if you're selling big-ticket items, like cars.) Other times, you want to convince consumers that you're better than the competition. I didn't make this stuff up. The purchase funnel is well-known in marketing circles. Now, ask yourself: Can you create awareness with a banner ad? Can a banner ad make you like a brand more? Can it convince you to consider possibly buying a product at some point in the future?

The answer to all the questions is yes, even if you find banners annoying and never click on them. Advertisers know this. That's why they're shoveling piles of cash into display advertising. Sure, search advertising works better, but people are doing a lot more than just searching online.

Advertisers also know that banners don't exist in a vacuum. The TV ad you see builds on the foundation laid by a banner ad plus a billboard and a mention on Facebook. It all works together, and if you're not running banners online, your competition will.

So, the next time you hear someone bashing banner ads, ask them what the click-through rate is for a TV commercial. If that doesn’t work, then feel free to pelt them with a bag of Skittles.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Davichi

More About: advertising, banner ads, display advertising, facebook, MARKETING, Skittles

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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers Joins Square’s Board

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 11:56 AM PDT


Mobile payments startup Square has added some economic muscle to its board of directors with Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary and former president of Harvard.

Summers will join an all-star board that includes venture capitalists Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital, PayPal), Gideon Yu (Khosla, Sequoia, YouTube, Facebook, San Francisco 49ers) and CEO Jack Dorsey.

"Square is at a key point in our trajectory and we know Larry will contribute tremendous wisdom and expertise toward our continued success," Dorsey said in a statement.

Summers was the 71st secretary of the Treasury, from 1999 to 2001, during the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. He then moved on to become the president of Harvard University from 2001 until his resignation in 2006. While at Harvard, Summers heard and dismissed a claim by the Winklevoss twins that Mark Zuckerberg had stolen their idea to found Facebook – a scene later portrayed in the movie The Social Network.

More recently, Summers served as President Obama’s director of the National Economic Council, a position he held from January 2009 to December 2010. He also served as the chief economist of the World Bank.

Square, founded in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has been on a tear. It unveiled a pay-with-your-name system last month and is processing more than $2 million in card payments daily. It’s rumored to be seeking a $2 billion valuation in its next venture funding round.

More About: Larry Summers, Square, startup

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Facebook’s Journey From Founding to IPO [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 11:38 AM PDT


Is Facebook ready for its heavily rumored IPO next spring?

With the massive growth of its staff and userbase, the huge rounds of funding it has taken and its ever-rising valuation, and the company’s increasing significance in the global sphere, the startup has clearly moved into the realm of enterprise.

To quickly sum up the company’s journey from dorm room to Silicon Valley, we have an infographic from real-time social media startup Namesake.

Click image to see full-size version.

[source: Namesake Blog]

More About: facebook, facebook ipo, infographic, ipo

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5 Proven Twitter Marketing Strategies

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 11:27 AM PDT


The Social Media 101 Series is supported by Global Strategic Management Institute. GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more.

Seeking to take Twitter beyond a social phenomenon, its founders have lately set their sights on making it business-friendly as well. For marketers, this means new opportunities are opening up all the time.

Twitter never seems to rule anything out. The company is philosophically opposed to banner ads, but has nevertheless dabbled with them in Japan. Likewise, it recently experimented with text ads in the U.S., but, according to Adam Bain, president of global revenue for Twitter, that doesn't indicate much. "I wouldn't read too much into it," he says.

The experiment has yielded some winning ad formats, Bain says. Chief among them are Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts. All comprise very new forms of advertising that leverage Twitter's strengths. However, many marketers don't seem to know what to make of the formats, or Twitter itself, for that matter. Taking that into account, here are some Twitter marketing guidelines for those who are making a move.

Of course, you can easily create an account to tweet on behalf of your company, but read on for further advice to get the most out of the microblogging platform.


1. Use Promoted Trends or Promoted Tweets to Publicize an Event




Twitter is all about discovering what's going on right now. As Bain notes, many users return to Twitter's homepage a few times per day just to see what's trending. Promoted Trends leverage that phenomenon by giving advertisers a premium position on the page.

Bain says that this can yield much higher engagement rates than standard online advertising, for example, banner ads. Introduced in 1993, banners have notoriously low click-through rates, even though such advertising is still growing rapidly. (Proponents of banners also point out that, while the ads work fine for raising awareness, direct sales are still measured by clicks.)

Nevertheless, Bain says Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets yield engagement rates between 3% and 10% on average, and sometimes much higher than that. For instance, Volkswagen got 52% engagement on an April 18 Promoted Tweet for its 2012 New Beetle launch.

In this case, engagement is defined by click-throughs (which usually accounts for 80% of the total), retweets and "favorited" tweets. The buying process for Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets and all of Twitter's ad products follow a model similar to Google's -- marketers buy them in an auction at a cost-per-engagement rate, and then pay based on engagement.

Obviously, if you're running a Promoted Trend or Promoted Tweet, it helps if you have some kind of news, product launch, or associated event. For instance, For instance, Coca-Cola earned high engagement during the 2010 World Cup — whenever a goal was scored, Coke would unleash a celebratory tweet.


2. Build the Brand With Promoted Accounts




While Coke's case is instructive, Bain says that Promoted Accounts are likely a better vehicle for long-term brand building. "We ask, 'What's the lifetime value of a customer?'" Bain says, "We look at it almost like a joint business account."

With a goal to gather as many followers for a corporate account as possible, Twitter positions Promoted Accounts in front of users who might be interested in the brand. Twitter gauges such interest by noting who said people follow and what they tweet. If you follow a lot of baseball teams, for instance, then a Promoted Account for Major League Baseball might make sense.


3. Use Your Hashtags




While "follow us on Twitter" messages from marketers appear ubiquitous, Bain says that hashtags can be more effective. For instance, after Audi included the hashtag #ProgressIs in its Super Bowl ad, the company "completely dominated" Twitter discussions about progress for the month, Bain says. RadioShack also used #youneedanewphone in April, and Comedy Central ran a #TrumpRoast hashtag at the bottom of the screen during its March telecast.

Like Audi though, you might decide to opt for an open-ended hashtag that encourages people to add their own thoughts. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has driven engagement by running hashtags that invite audience participation, like #myparentsareweird and #thereshouldbealaw.


4. Counterprogram




During March Madness, AT&T aired constant television ads, but rival Verizon bought up all tourney-related Promoted Trends on Twitter. Verizon's tactic secured the online discussion, Bain says.


5. Follow Through




Cultivating an audience for your brand via social media is more complicated than simply blasting out a TV ad. The key difference is follow-through.

Patrick Kerley, senior digital strategist with Levick Strategic Communications, says that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese's recent Twitter promotion illustrates the consequences of a brand that fails to recognize the campaign tools available. In March, the brand ran a program called "Mac & Jinx" that rewarded people who used the phrase "mac & cheese" in their tweets. Kerley won the contest and its prize, but has yet to receive an email or other promotion, despite having submitted his email address. He also notes that, at the time, around 2,700 people followed @KraftMacnCheese. Kerley suggests, "Had the brand said, 'Be the first person to follow us' or 'Follow us and visit this URL,' they would very likely be sitting on a very large online audience that could be reminded every day about the brand, its products and other promotions."


Series Supported by Global Strategic Management Institute


The Social Media 101 Series is supported by Global Strategic Management Institute, a leading source of knowledge for today’s leaders. Learn more by visiting GSMI’s website, liking it on Facebook and following it on Twitter.


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- HOW TO: Start Marketing on Gowalla
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- HOW TO: Use HootSuite as a Marketing Tool

More About: coca cola, hashtag, MARKETING, Promoted Accounts, promoted trends, Promoted Tweets, social media, Social Media 101 Series, twitter, volkswagen

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Arizona & San Carlos, California, Officially Name June 30 Social Media Day

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 11:10 AM PDT


Both the state of Arizona and the city of San Carlos, California, have officially designated June 30 as Social Media Day. Gov. Janice Brewer signed the Arizona proclamation after Phoenix Social Media Day Meetup organizer Desiree Ford petitioned the state, while organizers Kriselle Laran and Dave Peck led the movement in San Carlos.

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, was the first to proclaim June 30 as Social Media Day last year. Vancouver, B.C., followed suit shortly after with an official proclamation.

Social Media Day is a day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming a social dialouge. There are currently 1,342 registered Social Media Day Meetups throughout the world with thousands of participants.

Arizona has a buzzing social media and technology scene with companies like Go Daddy and Limelight Networks based in the Phoenix area. As a National Technology Award winner with a socially-engaged local government, San Carlos is one of the Bay Area’s leaders in innovation. We’re excited both these places have officially recognized June 30 as a celebration of the tools that empower their citizens to communicate, connect and engage.

Here is a photo of Arizona’s signed proclamation:

In San Carlos, Mayor Andy Klein reads the city’s Social Media Day proclamation to Melanie Yunk, Ron Collins and David Bouchard of the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce:


About Social Media Day


Social Media Day is a global celebration of the technological advancements that enable everyone to connect with real-time information, communicate from miles apart and have their voices be heard. We invite you to connect with fellow web enthusiasts by hosting a Social Media Day Meetup in your area. There’s no better way to celebrate the revolution of media becoming a social dialogue than by socializing with your online community offline.


Ways You Can Participate


  • Sign up to attend or organize your own event on the Mashable Meetup Everywhere page.
  • Share what you’re doing for your Mashable Meetup or leave suggestions for others in the comments below.
  • Use the #smday hashtag on Twitter.
  • Find your Mashable Meetup community:

Images courtesy Kriselle Laran and Desiree Ford.

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Audio of Southwest Pilot’s Hate-Filled Cockpit Tirade Hits the Web

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 11:03 AM PDT


An unnamed Houston-based Southwest Airlines pilot has been suspended from duty without pay after a tape of his expletive-ridden cockpit rant was uncovered by a Houston local news station.

The pilot in question accidentally broadcast a hate-filled tirade bashing the appearance of female flight attendants over a Houston airport frequency on March 25, tying up the frequency for several minutes and making it inaccessible to air traffic controllers.

In the recorded conversation with his co-pilot, the Southwest Airlines pilot complained extensively, in a derogatory manner, about the attractiveness of female flight attendants he would meet at bars.

The pilot describes the women as “a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandees” to his co-pilot. “I just wouldn’t want anyone to know if I had banged them. … Now I’m back in Houston, which is easily one of the ugliest bases,” he continues.

Air traffic controllers alerted the FAA on March 25 and sent the tape to Southwest Airlines. Local 2 Investigates, a Houston-based news station, pushed the FAA, under the Freedom of Information Act, to release a copy of the tape to the station. The FAA released the tape and Local 2 has posted an uncut version of the rant online.

The FAA also issued the following statement to Local 2:

“On March 25, 2011, about two-and-a-half minutes of conversation that included offensive language and disparaging characterizations of certain groups and individuals was transmitted on an FAA air traffic control frequency as the result of a stuck microphone in an aircraft cockpit. An air-traffic controller in the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center alerted all of the airplanes on the frequency to check for a stuck microphone and indicated that the conversation being broadcast was inappropriate over the air. The FAA determined that the broadcast likely came from a Southwest Airlines flight and sent an audio recording of the conversation to the airline for further action. The incident occurred during a phase of flight in which personal conversations are permitted in the cockpit. Nevertheless, the FAA expects a higher level of professionalism from flight crews, regardless of the circumstances.”

Southwest later suspended the pilot.

“The Pilot in question has been addressed by Leadership and was suspended without pay,” Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King says. “Prior to being reinstated, he underwent additional diversity education to reinforce the Company’s expectations for all Employees to demonstrate respect for others.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Lorenia

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Are Men Better Networkers Than Women? [STUDY]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 10:45 AM PDT


Men are generally better networkers, except when it comes to industries like tobacco and ranching.

At least, that’s according to findings by LinkedIn‘s analytics team. The researchers also found that men were better networkers in the cosmetics industry.

LinkedIn determined the “networking savviness” of the sexes in various professions by comparing the number of connections that men have to the number women have, and looking at the ratio of male to female members. For example, LinkedIn labeled an industry that was 45% female, with women having 70% of the connections, as “female savvy.” Neutral industries were the ones in which the percentage of women in the industry equaled their percentage of connections.

Since LinkedIn doesn’t require members to register their sex, some guesswork was involved. As Scott Nicholson, senior data scientist at LinkedIn, wrote on the company’s official blog Wednesday, “We can guess a person's gender using their first name and some previously established techniques using a database of baby names.”

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Internet Archive Now Supports HTML5 for a Half Million Videos

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 10:24 AM PDT


The Internet Archive’s entire stash of digital videos — that’s more than 500,000 assets — now supports HTML5 as well as Flash.

The Archive, which is best known for hosting older versions of websites, is using technology from open-source video company Kaltura to get the job done.

The Kaltura video player automatically recognizes whether a user’s device and browser need a Flash or an HTML5 player. Then, the video content gets delivered accordingly.

The Wikimedia Foundation is also using Kaltura’s tools in a related project.

The Internet Archive’s video library contains more than 500,000 educational assets, most of which are under Creative Commons licenses. These assets will now be more accessible, particularly on mobile devices, including iOS devices, as well as on HTML5-supporting browsers.

SEE ALSO: How HTML5 Will Transform the Online Video Landscape

And because Kaltura’s technology supports the HTML5 standard for timed text such as subtitles, hearing-impaired and multilingual users will also benefit from the videos.

“As the leading open source video company, our goal is to enable advanced online video functionalities on any device using free and open standards and technologies,” said Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura’s chairman and CEO, in a release Wednesday morning. “Our mission is even more so inspiring and impactful where free educational content is also coupled with these tools, as is the case with the Internet Archive and the Wikimedia Foundation.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, mdurwin

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Pottermore to Be Online Gaming Site [REPORT]

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 10:06 AM PDT


Last week, Harry Potter fans were in a tizzy over a mysterious site called Pottermore, which many were guessing could be an online game, a new fansite or a digital encyclopedia. Well, it seems that those who wagered on it being a game get a cigar.

Author J.K. Rowling is set to make an announcement regarding the site on the morning of June 23 (U.K. time), and has even set up a YouTube page counting down to the moment of the reveal.

However, it seems, we have a leak on our hands. The London Times (payment required) has got its mitts on a memo which describes Pottermore as an online game that features clues to prizes secreted in the real world. Apparently, the prizes are magic wands hidden in Britain and the U.S. It’s not clear whether Pottermore is the product here or if it’s a marketing campaign for something else. The whole thing is being handled by PR company Adam & Eve.

SEE ALSO: Pottermore: New J.K. Rowling Site Sends Harry Potter Fans into a Frenzy

We’ll keep a close eye on Pottermore.com to see what materializes, but right now it appears 1,282 of you who voted that the site would manifest itself as an online game are correct. Sorry to the 1,418 hoping for another book.

[via The Atlantic]

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Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Released

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 09:43 AM PDT


Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and activist, has been set free on bail after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion,

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

In protest, FAT Lab member Greg Leuch created a browser plugin called Chinablocker for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that blocks all Chinese websites. When you come across such a website, a middle finger (a homage to one of Ai’s works) will pop up, along with information detailing how long Ai — and other artists — have been detained.

In light of Ai’s release, Leuch let fly a minor update to the plugin “to announce his release and disable the blocking,” he says.

Leuch wasn’t the only one to protest Ai’s detention: Online petition platform Change.org also hosted a campaign calling for his release and subsequently suffered distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which sent the site offline for different periods of time.

According to The Washington Post, there’s no word yet on the other lawyers, activists and intellectuals who were also detained. Ai, however, has agreed to repay his back taxes. He is also apparently in poor health.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Daquella manera

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