Friday, 8 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Vibes, Atlantis’s Final Takeoff & More: Today’s Top Stories”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Vibes, Atlantis’s Final Takeoff & More: Today’s Top Stories”

Facebook Vibes, Atlantis’s Final Takeoff & More: Today’s Top Stories

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 05:29 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on four particular stories of interest today.

Evidence of a Facebook Music Service Surfaces

References to a product called "Vibes" have been found in Facebook's code, which could be related to the company's rumored music service.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Prepares for Final Takeoff

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to take off on its final STS-135 mission at 11:26 a.m. ET Friday from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

News of the World Shuts Down Amid Scandal

News of the World, the bestselling Sunday paper in the UK, is shutting down this week following a wave of phone-hacking and bribery scandals. Staffers have taken to Twitter to respond to critics since the announcement.

Apple Cuts the Price of iAds, Again

Reports suggest that Apple has once again cut the price of its mobile advertising platform iAd, dropping the price for entry into the program from an original $1 million to $300,000.

Further News

  • Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who recently stepped away from his full-time position at Twitter, has accepted a new role as strategic adviser at one of its early investors, Spark Capital.
  • Two long-running ABC soap operas, One Life to Live and All My Children, will continue to live online after their on-air finales.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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iPhone SLR Mount Brings Out the Best in Your iPhone’s Camera

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 02:09 AM PDT

Do you have a bunch of SLR-compatible lenses lying around, with no way to attach them to your iPhone? Grieve no more: Photojojo’s iPhone SLR Mount lets you (almost) turn your iPhone into a full-fledged DSLR.

The device’s function is simple: it’s a special iPhone case (together with an UV filter and SLR adapter) to which you can attach a variety of photo lenses – telephoto, wide angle, macro or fixed-fifty – which should greatly increase the quality of photos taken with your phone.

It comes with certain caveats: for example, your images will be upside down, due to the fact that SLR cameras have a mirror inside them which flips the image right-side up – something that iPhone obviously doesn’t have.

We’re also sure that the entire thing will look like a gross overkill to many, but we can imagine a couple of uses for it: if nothing else, it’ll surely make you a star at the next photo convention.

The iPhone 4 version of the mount costs $249, while the iPhone 3 variant will set you back $190.

For more iPhone photography-related accessories, check out this list.

[Photojojo via Engadget]

More About: iphone, iphone 4, iPhone 4 SLR Mount, iPhone SLR Mount, lens, photography, SLR mount, smartphone

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The Future of Mobile Payments [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 10:26 PM PDT

We know that mobile payments are redefining commerce, but will our phones soon replace our wallets?

PayPal seems to think so. The payments giant boldly predicts that the wallet will be dead by 2015. It’s putting its money where its mouth is: it recently acquired mobile payments provider Zong for $240 million.

PayPal isn’t the only one getting into the game though. Google recently launched Google Wallet, the search giant’s mobile payment system, and Visa recently made a strategic investment in Square, the mobile payments platform now worth more than $1.4 billion.

Professional community service G+ decided to look deeper into mobile payment trends and created an infographic that tracks what experts and analysts believe will happen to mobile commerce in the next four years, including what will happen with near field communication (NFC). G+ also compared some of the current players in the mobile payment space.

Check out the infographic, and let us know what you think is next for mobile payments in the comments.

More About: Google, google wallet, Isis, nfc, Visa

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Create a Hub For Your Band’s Online Presence With Onesheet

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 09:19 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: Onesheet

Quick Pitch: Aggregate all your band’s info in one place, without the hassle of building a website.

Genius Idea: or for bands.

Nowadays, bands are expected to be on an increasingly large number of networks — from Twitter to Facebook to Soundcloud to YouTube, you name it. Which means that a musician’s web presence is often scattered all over the place, floating about the web like so many half notes.

The obvious solution is to build a website that centralizes all that info, making it easy for fans to keep up with all your online going-ons. However, if you’re not particularly tech-savvy or you don’t have the funds to hire someone particularly tech-savvy, that whole website thing might be an issue.

Onesheet aims to solve that quandary by providing musicians with a way to tie together all of their online outlets in one place: from music to videos to concert dates to online stores to social sites, etc.

The service was founded by Brenden Mulligan, who has been involved in the music industry for five years, doing everything from working at a major label to living on a bus as a band’s road manager. Mulligan is also the founder of ArtistData, which allowed bands to distribute info across all of their web presences at once (that service was acquired by Sonicbids).

“I think a band having their own branded web presence outside of social networks is incredibly important,” Mulligan says. “Bands are told they need their own website, but setting one up and keeping it maintained is sometimes too much effort. So they either need people to help them, or their website becomes stagnant quickly.”

Since Onesheet is plugged into your social networks, it updates constantly as you tweet, Facebook and upload music.

If you’re familiar with or, you’ll be able to figure out Onesheet rather rapidly. The service is still in beta, but bands can sign up to reserve their Onesheet in the coming days. Once you have one locked down, simply log in via Facebook and Twitter, and all of your artist data will be transferred to the page (you can tweak at will).

Next, you will be asked to connect third-party services, including ArtistData, Bandcamp, BandsInTown, Bandzoogle, Facebook, FanBridge, NextBigSound, Posterous, ReverbNation, Songkick, Sonicbids, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, WordPress and YouTube. CD Baby, Instagram, iTunes, Moontoast, Nimbit, Rdio and Topspin are coming soon. Choose a background image and adjust the appearance, and you’ll end up with a clean, slick page featuring all of your info, all in one place.

Right now, Mulligan is funding the service via bootstrapping, but he plans to introduce premium features in future iterations in order to monetize.

What do you think of Onesheet? If you’re in a band, would you create one to promote your music?

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: music, onesheet, spark-of-genius, startup

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Which TV Shows Were the Most Social in June? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 07:30 PM PDT

Realtime social media tracker Trendrr has released an infographic detailing the biggest winners in the social TV space in June 2011.

Culling data from the social TV index, the graphic breaks down the top broadcast, cable networks and TV shows, based on social interaction.

From a programming standpoint, the two big winners in June 2011 were NBC’s The Voice and the BET Awards.

The BET Awards drew 1.4 million social impressions, which helped it rank first in cable programming and helped BET rank as the most social cable network. Likewise, NBC’s big hit, The Voice, was not only the most social show on broadcast TV, it helped NBC maintain a sizable lead over other broadcast networks in terms of social engagement. This is an example of programming with a decidedly social bent performing well on social networks.

The data that is more surprising, at least to us, is the social success, or at least, social activity, surrounding rerun content for less social programming like Fox’s Animation Domination block. This block of Sunday programming, which includes shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons, took three of the top 10 slots every week for the month of June. Part of that can probably be attributed to the summer rerun season, but its interesting to see the social engagement with animated programming.

Trendrr compiles data from public profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Miso and GetGlue. It then ranks that data using buzz, checkins, posts and tweets for terms associated with TV shows. This data excludes sporting events and movies.

More About: bet awards, BET Awards 2011, infographic, real-time analysis, social tv, stats, the-voice, Trendrr

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PrivacyVille: Zynga Turns Its Privacy Policy into a Game

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 06:15 PM PDT

Zynga, the creators of hit games like FarmVille and CityVille, has used its social gaming talents to create a gamified version of its privacy policies.

PrivacyVille is the gaming giant’s take on the boring privacy policy. It’s essentially a step-by-step tutorial through the most important aspects of the company’s privacy policy, using its trademark town and character designs. “PrivacyVille is modeled after our most popular game, CityVille, and provides a brief tutorial covering important sections of our Privacy Policy, as well as helpful resources about controlling your information online,” the company said on its blog.

PrivacyVille goes through items such as how Zynga handles email, the company’s mobile policies and the security measures it takes to protect user payments. Reading each section increases a user’s progress through PrivacyVille until he or she completes the tutorial. Once completed, the user is asked five (very easy) questions to confirm that he or she went through the tutorial.

One of the most interesting aspects of PrivacyVille is that it connects to RewardVille, the company’s virtual currency program. Users that complete the PrivacyVille tutorial get Zynga Points (zPoints) which can be turned into virtual currency or rewards.

It’s just the latest move for a company on a hot streak. Last week, Zynga filed for a $1 billion IPO that could value the company north of $20 billion. While the company’s user base has stopped growing, its revenue is booming.

More About: cityville, PrivacyVille, RewardVille, social games, social gaming, Zynga

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7 Easy Ways to Do Good Online Beyond Donations

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 05:30 PM PDT

tree hug image

Kelley Fernbacher is the director of non-profit outreach at BroadCause, a social good platform that unites people, brands and non-profit organizations to activate passionate communities around the causes that are most important to them. Follow BroadCause on Twitter and Facebook, or support BroadCause non-profits through the BroadCause website.

Let’s say you want to give back, but your pockets aren’t overflowing with cash. What can you do?

There are many meaningful ways to give back beyond writing checks. Whether you’re passionate about a global issue or a local community cause, the web makes it easier than ever to show your support.

Here are seven ways you can easily devote some of your hours of web surfing to social good.

1. Give Your Talent

You have a valuable skill set, so share it! Smaller non-profit organizations often have limited resources. Access to graphic designers, writers, event planners and many other professionals can be hard to budget. Online volunteering services such as Smart Volunteer and Volunteer Match pair talented professionals with non-profits seeking a wide range of skills and services.

2. Give Your Time

You don't need to leave your computer to sign up for an online mentoring program. You can devote 30 minutes per week on Infinite Family to mentor a South African teen.

If you're a math wiz, tutor children on Reasoning Mind. You can also try ICouldBe, where just 20 minutes of tutoring a week helps low-income students stay in school and make better career choices.

3. Go Shopping

If you're an online shopping addict, you can donate a portion of each of your sprees to charity. Partner merchants of Buy4 and We-Care agree to donate a portion of each purchase to a charity of the shopper's choosing. The sites have over 1,600 partners so you're sure to find what you want. We-Care also lets you add your own cause, meaning your next online shopping trip can support your local schools or favorite charity.

4. Give Gifts

If you're in the giving spirit but don't want to "just" write a check, you can pick out an affordable gift for a community in need. Plan USA allows shoppers to purchase "Gifts for Hope" starting at $10. Lower-priced gifts range from baby blankets and mango trees to "three baby chicks" or an emergency water supply.

Oxfam America Unwrapped has a similar model, allowing shoppers to choose a gift based on a specific occasion or recipient. You can also try Donors Choose which lets you purchase much-needed school supplies for classrooms across the country.

5. Get a Deal

Your savvy, sale-finding skills can help others! Group deal site Common Kindness saves you money on groceries while contributing to a charity of your choice. Philanthroper creates daily "deals" for small non-profits. It sends an email every day sharing a small organization's story. Subscribers who relate to the tale can then submit one dollar of support.

6. Just Search and Click

Even the most basic web interactions can be turned into vehicles for good. Charitable search engine Good Search automatically donates to the charity of your choice each time you run an online search. You can click-to-donate with Care2, which generates donations whenever you click a link. Sign up for a daily email that reminds you to go back and click every day.

7. Play a Game

Finally, you can give your mind a rest and play a game. Double Impact turns gaming into charitable giving. Players perform small, sustainability-focused tasks to earn points that translate into dollars donated to a range of different charities. On the other hand, Games for Change's games educate players about world issues and inspire more awareness and involvement. If you like Internet quiz games, try Free Rice, which donates ten grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for each correct answer generated.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Clover_1

More About: charity, online games, social good, volunteer

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Evidence of a Facebook Music Service Surfaces

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 04:13 PM PDT

References to a product called “Vibes” have been found in Facebook’s code, and it could be related to the company’s rumored music service.

The social network launched its Skype-powered video chat service on Wednesday. Part of the process of getting started with the one-on-one video communication product is downloading and installing a program on the desktop.

Eagle-eyed software engineer and researcher Jeff Rose was curious about what he was installing and how it interacts with Skype, so decided to look into the code of the desktop app. In it, he found that the installer supports not one, but two applications. One is called “Peep,” which is related to the video chat client, and one is called “Vibes,” which is apparently related to a music downloading app.

Here’s the code in question:

if (paramString.equals("com.facebook.peep"))
return this.window.getMember("VideoChatPlugin");
if (paramString.equals("com.facebook.vibes")) {
return this.window.getMember("MusicDownloadDialog");

It seems clear that Facebook has something related to music downloading up its sleeve. Could it be an app for downloading your music and uploading it to the cloud? Could it be powered by Spotify? Or could it just be code that refers to a defunct or discarded product?

Don’t bet on Facebook’s music app being called “Facebook Vibes,” though. There’s a reason why Facebook’s video chat product isn’t called “Facebook Peep.” Still, we know Facebook has a music product coming soon, and now we believe it will do more than simply play your favorite tunes.

What do you think Facebook has up its sleeve?

More About: facebook, facebook chat, Facebook Music, Facebook Vibes, Facebook Video Chat, Skype, spotify

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4 Fresh Ways to Share Video on Twitter

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 02:57 PM PDT

Ways to share video on Twitter

If tweets showcase 140 characters and pictures are worth a thousand words, where do videos fit into the grand scheme of visual pleasures?

This year — on Twitter at least — videos have taken a backseat due in part to the increasing popularity of photo-sharing services like Instagram and Picplz. Although video-sharing sites and apps are playing second fiddle at the moment, a handful of Twitter users swear by their video-centric tweets.

“I share videos on Twitter because let’s face it, sometimes you can’t come across in just words,” says comedian Bradley Laborman, a frequent YouTuber and creator of BradmanTV. “Me tweeting, ‘This HOT DOG is UH-MAZING,’ is not as effective as me posting a quick video where I serenade the hot dog and scream to the sky how amazing it actually is.”

From a business perspective, company-made videos and user-generated videos have proven to be powerful marketing tools. For example, referral traffic from YouTube to the Shorty Awards website this year was higher than Google’s referral traffic to the site because many nominees created video campaigns.

“The scalability of making a great looking video clip is nuts in 2011 and will continue to get easier and easier,” says Natan Edelsburg, supervising producer for the Shorty Awards and vice president of Sawhorse Media. “A year or two from now it will be irresponsible for everyone to write a press release or make a big announcement without complementing it with some kind of short video clip.”

Whether for business or personal use, indulge in these four video-sharing services that launched or added new features in this past year. In the comments, let us know which apps you use to share your own videos on Twitter or other social sites.

1. Socialcam

Socialcam's tagline is: "Shoot, tag and share it with your friends ... instantly." The app, which is tied to, lets you sign up with your Facebook account and then share videos on multiple outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and even Google+.

In fewer than five minutes, I signed up on my Droid X, recorded a 34-second video, uploaded it and shared it. Had I recorded friends in my video, I could have tagged them even if they weren't Socialcam users. "We hope tagging will insert a level of shareability that will wow everybody," said Matthew DiPietro, vice president of marketing and Communications at

"We built it very specifically for friends and family," DiPietro added. "However, that's the exact same thing that Mark Zuckerberg was thinking about when he launched Facebook, and Facebook is a much more widely used platform now."

2. Viddy

Laborman uses Viddy, an app that allows you to capture, "beautify" and share 15-second videos.

"It's basically the Instagram for video users," Laborman says. "You shoot a video, you add a filter and you decide whether or not you want background music on the video."

The process is simple: Click the "Share" button in the middle of the navigation panel to upload a video from your gallery or shoot a new one. Trim the clip to your liking and apply effects using "production packages."

Viddy's iPhone app, which launched in April and has been downloaded 500,000 times as of May, is compatible with iPod touch and iPad but requires iOS 4.1 or later. Viddy's website says Android, Windows and BlackBerry versions of the app are in the works.

3. Screenr

Web-based screen recorder Screenr launched in 2009, but the service recently added new features that address users' concerns about sharing video comments via tweets.

"Previously, comments on Screenr were tied to your Twitter account and forced you to tweet your comments," Screenr said in a blog. "Users told us they often wanted to make comments without tweeting them. Now, Screenr has bulit-in commenting so your comments stay just on Screenr. And don't worry, there's also a separate Tweet button if you still want to tweet your comments."

To create a video, Mac or PC users can adjust the video frame to a size of their liking and then click record to walk viewers through an online activity. Screenr automatically provides a shortened link to the video to quicken the sharing process.


If you like sharing trendy videos on Twitter, is the site and app for you. aggregates the most-shared videos on Twitter and Facebook, separates them into categories (i.e. music, sports, education) and creates top 25 lists sorted by today, yesterday, the week or month. The site's sharing tool — powered by ShareThis — lets you share any of the videos on Twitter and other social sites. You also can +1 or "Like" a video.

Using the website (above), I shared a video that was already in the top 25 Thursday morning in the music category. The app is available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and requires iOS 3.1 or later.

More About: screenr, socialcam, twitter, viddy, video, web video,

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Canceled ABC Soaps Get Another Life To Live Online

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 02:32 PM PDT

In a dramatic twist befitting the genre, two long-running ABC soap operas — One Life to Live and All My Children — have been saved from oblivion by the Internet.

ABC and Prospect Park issued a joint press release on Thursday that the shows will be distributed beyond their planned finale dates "via online formats and additional emerging platforms including Internet enabled television sets." The soaps will continue to run at the same lengths and "with the same quality," according to the release.

ABC announced it was axing the soaps in April after steady ratings declines, while viewers fled to talk shows and the Internet. All My Children was set to go off the air in September and One Life to Live's finale was set to run in January.

The deal comes after former Fox News host Glenn Beck announced last month that his canceled show will continue online — for a fee — starting in September.

More About: abc, fox news, Glenn Beck, Prospect Park, soap operas

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Girl Covers “You’re Gonna Miss Me” With Killer Voice & Plastic Cup [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 02:12 PM PDT

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

You know how you used to bang on pots and pans as a child, pretending that you were the littlest Ringo Starr? Yeah, this YouTube cover of "You’re Gonna Miss Me" by Lulu and the Lampshades is nothing like that.

Check out YouTube user Anna Burden, a 17-year-old from Indiana with a killer voice and mad cup-tapping skills, perform her rendition of the original song, which was also played on the cups.

Good fodder for any parent whose children are currently whining about wanting a drum kit.

[via Buzzfeed]

More About: Lulu and the Lampshades, music, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Free Beats Paid in Generating Revenue on Apple’s App Store [STATS]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 01:40 PM PDT

Here’s something that might seem counter-intuitive. Free iPhone and iPod touch games generate more revenue than their paid counterparts on Apple’s 15 billion download-strong App Store.

The new finding comes from mobile analytics company Flurry. It analyzed the revenue generated by the top 100 grossing games on the App Store in January and June.

As it turns out, freemium, or free-to-play games generated 65% of all revenue from the top 100 grossing games in June. The majority stake represents a near complete flip-flop from January according to Flurry’s data, when 61% of revenue from the top 100 was coming in from premium, for-charge games.

It would seem that mobile application developers would be best served by adopting the freemium model, which hooks users with a free download and includes ads or in-app upgrades to generate revenue. Still, the data does not support a definitive conclusion on whether the revenue reversal represents a shift in consumer purchase preferences or a marked change in how developers are monetizing their applications.

Flurry tracks more than 90,000 apps on the App Store; it claims to be able to measure revenue generated per ranked position in the App Store top grossing category.

More About: apps, flurry, flurry analytics, games, iphone apps, Mobile 2.0

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News of the World Staffers Face Off With Public on Twitter

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 01:21 PM PDT

Staffers didn’t have much time to absorb the news about the closing of The News of the World before they were besieged by tweets from an angry public that seemed gleeful at the news that the journalists were losing their jobs.

In particular, Rufus Hound, a comedian with more than 282,000 followers, got into a row with NOTW TV writer Ian Hyland and Emma Cox, another TV writer. Right after the shutdown was announced, Hyland took Hound to account for his "sanctimonious tweeting" over the issue. Hound responded by tweeting sardonically, "Bye then *waves*."

The conversation culminated with Hyland calling Hound a "right tit."

Cox, meanwhile, took the higher road and suggested they "agree to disagree."

That discourse was civilized compared to other comments, in particular @GetInMyShade, who tweeted, that NOTW showbiz editor Dan Wootton should "rot in the pit of hell."

Wootton, for his part, tweeted that he was "absolutely devastated" by the news. That sentiment was echoed by Tina Campanella, a news reporter, who tweeted, that she, too was "absolutely devastated."

More About: News of the world, twitter

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Obama vs. Zuckerberg: Who Won the Battle of the Buzz?

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 01:17 PM PDT

Internet users had a prime chunk of live programming to tune into online Wednesday afternoon.

At 1 p.m. ET, Facebook aired a live stream of a product announcement from Mark Zuckerberg. At 2 p.m. ET, U.S. President Barack Obama took questions from the Twittersphere during Twitter’s first ever live-streamed town hall.

So when one of the world’s most powerful companies and one of the world’s most powerful countries hold back-to-back Internet events, who gets more attention?

By several web measurements, Zuckerberg out-buzzed Obama yesterday afternoon.

According to an analysis by Jive Social Media Engagement, Twitter users tweeted the word “Facebook” about 3 million times during Zuckerberg’s announcement, but tweeted the word “Obama” or “askobama” about 650,000 times during the Twitter town hall event. When the terms in the analysis were tweeked to be more specific and include more phrases (i.e. town hall or townhall), Facebook’s event still garnered about three times the tweets as Obama’s Twitter event.

Data from real time search engine Topsy reveals a similar trend (see graph below). Its analysis includes tweets with a link and retweets with a link.

Social curation company, Mass Relevance, a partner of Twitter’s, counted 169,395 tweets that used the hashtag #AskObama between the time that Twitter announced the town hall on June 30 and Wednesday evening. At its highest traffic point, about 55,000 were viewing Facebook’s one-hour-long live stream. Twitter didn’t make this stat visible for the town hall.

Google searches yesterday afternoon, as documented by Google Trends, also seem to have been dominated by “Facebook news” and “Facebook announcement.” Meanwhile, Obama’s Town Hall didn’t breach the top 10 trends during the event.

None of these indicators are perfect statistics. But the fact that they all favor the Facebook announcement as the more popular discussion topic is worth noting.

To be fair, Facebook has more than twice the number of users ( about 750 million) scattered over the world than the United States has citizens (about 300 million). But the majority of Twitter users reside in the U.S., and Obama’s outlook arguably carries more weight for most of the world’s population.

We’re not sure what to make of the web’s apparently greater interest in Mark Zuckerberg. On some levels it makes sense that online conversations would be more likely to center around Facebook’s next product than a presidential appearance: Facebook exists entirely on the Internet while the president of the United States has most of his influence elsewhere.

What do you think?

More About: facebook, Facebook announcement, Facebook Video Chat, mark zuckerberg, obama, Obama Town Hall, twitter

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Apple Cuts the Price of iAds — Again [REPORT]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 12:18 PM PDT

Apple has once again cut the price of its mobile advertising platform iAd, according to a report.

Introduced with much hoopla in April 2010, iAds were only open to advertisers spending $1 million or more, including JCPenney, Citigroup and Nissan. In February, though, reports surfaced that the bar had fallen to $500,000. Now Bloomberg‘s reporting that the campaigns can be had for as little as $300,000 — a 70% drop from the initial price.

Reps from Apple could not be reached for comment.

The price-cutting is a setback for iAds, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs dubbed “mobile ads with emotion.”

Noah Elkin, an analyst at eMarketer, says Apple may be trying to make the ads less exclusive. “Apple is never about mass appeal, but this is really about making the upfront cost more manageable for a greater variety of advertisers,” he says. “[It] rekindles marketer interest in something that got a lot of fanfare last year, but hasn’t been talked about that much lately.”

To address the lack of demand for the platform, Apple has been "quietly staffing up" a sales force in New York for iAds, according to Advertising Age. Last month Apple hired Carrie Frolich, former head of digital for media-buying firm MEC, as head of agency relations. Frolich reports to iAd chief Andy Miller, who reports to Steve Jobs.

More About: android, apple, Google, iads

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10 Top Tech Entrepreneurs Share Their Favorite Food Trucks

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 12:02 PM PDT

The Social-Savvy Food Truck Series is supported by the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck. For more information on the scoop truck and where it stops, click here.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have much time to eat. Therefore, your life is made a lot easier and more efficient if your lunch is on wheels and can come to you. Enter the food truck, which has become a go-to lunch staple for busy entrepreneurs.

Read on to see what meals on wheels are fueling innovation at successful startups from San Francisco to Boston.

1. Naveen Selvadurai, Foursquare -- New York

"Calexico: Delicious, delicious Mexican food in SoHo for when I'm working at home (rare) or have meetings down there. It's been a staple in the neighborhood for a while."

2. Mike Krieger & Kevin Systrom, Instagram -- San Francisco

"3-Sum Eats -- the BEST deviled eggs in the world, and an out-of-this-world BLT with truffled mayo. I'm only allowed to go once a week (doctor's orders)." - Kevin

"Chairman Bao has amazing timing -- either they're nearby for lunch (Pork Belly Baked Bun is one of the most delicious things I've ever had) or at the Bloodhound bar, so you can wash your Bao buns with Recoils or bourbon. They're really Twitter-savvy, so you can always figure out where they are. Also, they have a special place in my heart because we went there for lunch right after we launched and told them we were from Instagram, and the lady at the window said, "Oh, the photo app?" When the food trucks know about you is when you've made it in SF..." - Mike

3. Soraya Darabi, Foodspotting -- New York

"Kelvin Slush is located in the Flatiron district, all too conveniently close to the Foodspotting NYC HQ. The ginger and mint slush is so cooling in the summer time –- particularly the peach variation, which has a lot of zest. It's an ideal mid-afternoon pick me up."

4. Tony Haile, ChartBeat -- New York

"Wafels and Dinges are the best. I was introduced by @ninakix one late summer night and dream about their waffles. You gotta keep it pure -- the liege wafel with some butter and sugar is all it takes."

5. Dan Leahy, Savored -- New York

"Tough question, but I'd have to say Mexicue takes the cake. Big fan of Mexican food and love barbecue, so it's hard to beat a combination of the two. Plus they're outside our office in Flatiron a lot and there's a cool vibe with the truck and the people who work there. I typically mix and match, but my go-to's are the short rib and the BBQ chick tacos, as well as the pulled pork sliders."

6. Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox -- New York

"Going to have to give a shout-out to the Rickshaw Truck! My favorite food in the world are dumplings -- who doesn't love an efficient and flavor-packed pocket of food and sauce! I mean, it is a wrapper of happiness. Our first "office" for Birchbox was in DUMBO, with the generous and wonderful team. There was limited access to multiple lunch options, and on one desperate day, we tweeted at the Rickshaw truck, and they came to DUMBO! They recognized a dumpling emergency -- our hero!"

7. Seth Priebatsch, SCVNGR -- Boston

"Clover [Food Lab] is awesome. They basically create unbelievable fresh food, served up quickly and, bonus points, they use Square. So I can pay with a card and feel kinda like an 'in-the-know' hipster here in Boston ... even if only for a moment."

em>Image courtesy of Donald Rockhead

8. Josh Williams, Gowalla -- Austin

"LuLu B's in Austin. The Lemongrass Pork is pretty much to die for."

9. Adrian Salamunovic, DNA11 -- Ottawa and Los Angeles

"The best food truck ever without question is: Koji BBQ out of LA. It's an amazing fusion of Korean and Mexican, and half the fun is using Twitter to find out where they will be so it ties in some social media fun. Kogi is not exactly a secret -- it's super popular -- but it's amazing."

10. Andrew Cohen, Bitly -- New York

"My pick is the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck ... try the earl grey ice cream!"

Series Supported by Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck

The Social-Savvy Food Truck Series is supported by the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck. In New York City or San Francisco and want a free scoop? Follow @BenJerrysTruck and @BenJerrysWest for details!

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Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Now Advising on Startup Investments

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 12:01 PM PDT

Biz Stone may have stepped away from his full-time role with Twitter, the $7 billion company he co-founded, but he’s certainly not walking away from the startup spotlight.

The former face of Twitter is taking a new role as strategic adviser at Spark Capital, an early investor in Twitter, firm partner Bijan Sabet revealed Thursday. Essentially, Stone will be their eyes and ears in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

“In this role, Biz will help us think through and evaluate new investment opportunities,” Sabet writes. “Additionally he will provide us with valuable insight about our current portfolio companies as well.”

Spark Capital invests in startups at the cross-section of media, entertainment and technology. Its portfolio companies include Foursquare, Boxee, Kik, Stack Exchange, Tumblr and, of course, Twitter.

Stone is also a strategic adviser for social impact at AOL and recently announced that he’ll pursuing new startup endeavors with former Twitter executives Evan Williams and Jason Goldman under the umbrella of Obvious Corporation.

We presume that given’s Stone’s new role, Spark Capital will have a keep-it-in-the-family type of relationship with Obvious, and will likely get early looks at pre-release projects.

Stone and his wife also operate The Biz & Livia Stone Foundation, providing scholarships and grants to children and nonprofits in support of education and conservation efforts in California.

More About: biz stone, investing, spark capital, startups, twitter

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OPEN THREAD: Do Twitter Town Halls Serve the Common Good?

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 10:51 AM PDT

Some may say U.S. President Barack Obama’s first Twitter town hall Wednesday marked the beginning of an era.

Twitter users, lacking press passes or Washington insider status, had their first opportunity to ask the president their most challenging questions. That is, if they could get one of their 140-character submissions chosen from the more than 70,000 tweets submitted to the town hall.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey moderated the conversation with Obama. Users could submit questions to, a site hosted by Twitter, or by using the hashtag #AskObama.

On July 20, Republican presidential candidates will debate via Twitter as well. Unlike Obama’s Twitter hosted town hall, the debates will be hosted by, an unaffiliated site created for the upcoming debates.

These new political platforms raise some important questions about the role of social media and national politics. Has Twitter become an irremovable part of the upcoming elections and should it temper its implicit support for one party over another? Of all the many questions, the one we’d like to pose to you is this:

Question: Twitter may be good for social networking, but is it bad for politics?

Let us know what you think and join the conversation in the comments below. What side are you on?

More About: barack obama, jack dorsey, open thread, politics, social good, twitter, twitter town hall

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Bluefin Signals Measures the Social Media Response to Television

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 10:38 AM PDT

Bluefin Labs has introduced a new system of metrics for quantifying and contextualizing social media response and conversations around television content.

Bluefin Labs was started as a spin-off of the MIT Media Lab and founded in 2008 with the goal of applying machine learning and cognitive science to the broader goal of understanding how audiences respond to TV shows and ads.

The data and pattern correlation Bluefin uses for its analysis was born out of work done by the company’s CEO Deb Roy, who captured more than three years of his family’s home life in 90,000 hours of video and 140,000 hours of audio.

A New Kind of Viewer Metric

Bluefin isn’t trying to redefine how TV viewership size and viewership share are calculated (at least, not yet). Instead it has created a new set of metrics to complement those established conventions, which are:

Response Level — The number of comments for any given episode of a TV show, using a 10-point exponential scale.

Response Share — A percentage of a program’s share of social response within a specific time of day.

This is significant because while existing metrics can gauge how many users are watching a TV show and when, the audience response to those programs has remained in a black box.

To make sense of the new response metrics, Bluefin has launched its first product, Bluefin Signals.

A Web-Based Social TV Dashboard

Bluefin Signals is a web-based analytics dashboard that analyzes the social media response to more than 3,000 TV shows and 105,000 individual airings of those shows. Right now, Bluefin’s technology analyzes 3 billion public-facing social media comments per month. It then pairs those comments with more than 2 million minutes of linear TV time.

Bluefin analyzes 47 different U.S. TV broadcast and cable networks. That’s impressive, to be sure, but it doesn’t cover the entire U.S. TV market. Bluefin says it plans to have full coverage of the national U.S. TV market for shows and commercials by early 2012.

In addition to showing the Response Level and Response Share for each program, Bluefin Signals can also find overlapping data across audiences, using Audience Connections. It’s designed as a way to visualize TV shows that share similar audiences and engagement points. That can be ideal for marketers or programmers who are looking for insight on what to target or how to better serve an audience.

Understanding the Way Users Engage

Having audience response and social response data in correlation with when programs air, or about certain episodes of content is certainly fascinating — in fact, we’d agree with Bluefin Labs that the ability to aggregate this type of information is something that the industry has needed for quite some time.

Still, response monitoring is only part of the equation. Tools like Bluefin Signals and other analytics measures also need to take into account how users engage with social TV.

Content producers and networks are scrambling to make viewing experiences more social. We’ve seen this with the wave of second-screen experience apps for devices like the iPad and with socially infused conversation points in web services like HBO Connect and Hulu’s new Facebook commenting tool.

At Mashable Connect, Christy Tanner, general manager and executive vice president of TV Guide Digital, talked about the most social shows on TV and how viewers engage with them.

As Tanner pointed out, viewers comment on programs in real time more frequently using Twitter than Facebook. That isn’t to say that users don’t socially engage with programming after it airs or that that engagement is any less valuable.

Separating the real-time interactions from the post-airing interactions will be an important nuance for marketers and programmers to understand.

What really excites us about the Bluefin technology is how it will work with the next generation of social programming. Already we’re seeing producers take more risks and invest more in social, making it an integral component to a show rather than just a bolted-on addition. Social response metrics are the perfect — and essential — complements for innately social programming like NBC’s The Voice.

With any luck, Bluefin’s technology will help pave the way for the next generation of ratings.

More About: analytics, Bluefin Labs, real-time clickstream tracking, social tv, social tv analytics, television

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YouTube Tests New Design For Playlists, Videos & Channels

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 10:19 AM PDT

YouTube is currently testing out a sleeker, darker design via its ideas incubator, TestTube.

The experiment, called Cosmic Panda, was announced Thursday on YouTube’s blog. The experiment is by no means a done deal when it comes to a possible redesign, though.

“We are always testing new things on YouTube with the goal of improving the site’s overall experience,” a rep tells us. “We encourage all users to opt in to this experiment and tell us what they think about it.”

When you enter Cosmic Panda, YouTube will suggest you check out a video (“Nyan Cat,” of course), a channel (The Young Turks, The Cheezburger Network or HBO), or a playlist (of Rick Rolls). In essence, the changes aren’t that drastic.

When watching a video, for example, the vid in question will be featured on a black background (instead of white). Suggested videos and comments are now located underneath the video (toggle between them), and related videos are located on the right. YouTube did add the option to easily switch the size of the video in-browser (above related videos), which is a nice supplement.

When it comes to channels, the new header is a lot more polished looking. Usually, when you click over to a channel, the featured video starts autoplaying immediately (annoying). With the new version, the header is also a video, but at first glance it appears to just be a graphic. If you click on the graphic, it will bring you to the featured video — no autoplaying involved. YouTube also rejiggered the setup so all content is found under the tabs “Featured,” “Video” and “Community.” Overall, the whole layout is much cleaner and more professional looking.

Playlists don’t look all that different, except that the new version lets you change the size of the videos easily, and lacks the “Shuffle” feature (the old version lets you shuffle).

YouTube pushed its most recent major redesign in January 2010, streamlining video pages and nixing the starred rating system. What do you think of this proposed redesign? Should YouTube take the plunge?

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10 Top Google+ Users Weigh In on the Web’s Newest Social Network

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 10:07 AM PDT

google image

A list ranking the top users on Google’s invite-only social sharing platform Google+ turned up some interesting results. Mark Zuckerberg topped the list, but his profile is almost entirely inactive — that is, if the profile is actually his to begin with.

We’ve scoured the profiles, Twitter accounts and blogs of the top Google+ users that aren’t Google employees or Mr. Zuckerberg. You might be surprised to read their thoughts and reviews of the recent social networking phenomenon.

Do you agree with what they have to say, standing atop their invitation-only soapboxes? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Scoble

Tech blogger Robert Scoble ranks #5 on the most-followed Google+ list. This week he posted a link to Cinch in which he interviews his wife Maryam about her hesitations to join Google+.

She says: "I have only so many minutes during the day, and the minutes that I choose to waste I like to waste on Facebook. Why do I have to go somewhere else, be lonely by myself and waste time when I can be on Facebook like everybody else? ... If within a year, I see that a lot of family and friends are there, and they're doing things I cannot do on Facebook...then I'll probably get on Google+, but that's far away from now."

Robert Scoble himself posted some thoughts to his Google+ profile:

"Google+ sometimes removes me from following someone that I know I already followed. This has happened dozens of times now, so I think it's a bug but I haven't figured out a pattern to it."

"Even with all of its noise, Google+'s feed is 600x more interesting than my Google Buzz feed. Why? No Tweets. All organically added stuff."

"I'm getting more engagement here than anywhere else."

"The speed of notifications and new items here doesn't match Twitter, yet, but blows away Facebook's speed."

"The Google+ mobile experience on web is quite nice. I am using Google+ exclusively this weekend on Safari on iPhone. Yes, it is missing lots, like I dont see a way to upload photos. But the UI and your posts are great looking ... This week I will be using G+ on Android, which is a lot better."

Kevin Rose

As the co-founder of Digg and Milk, Kevin Rose isn't the most active Google+ user yet, but he certainly has an opinion about the service. Here are some of his thoughts we found on Twitter:

"just started using Google+, i get it.. just not sure if I need it.."

"liking Google plus, hoping the Sparks get better / more news integration, those could be powerful"

Pulled from a longer post by Rose: "Where does Google+ fit in my life?...Feedback Loop: +1's next to everything give me a way to acknowledge others for their contributions...Realtime data: Seeing comments appear Quora style (as they are happening) is fun...What happened to 140 characters? This post will reach a wider audience than posting it on might replace my blog w/G+ if it bring more traffic and sharing."

MG Siegler

The TechCrunch writer shares his reactions to Google+ on both the site itself and his Twitter:

"If only Google+ had search..."

"The Google+ photo uploader is pretty great. Fast."

"Yep, the G+ realtime comment sections are pretty great."

"All I know for sure is that Google+ needs to figure out a way not to have comments boost an old story back to the top of the stream. Makes everything feel very stale, even though it makes some sense to do this. FriendFeed battled with this issue as well, but there was more data constantly flowing in due to Twitter imports, etc."

"Whether or not Google+ succeeds remains to be seen, obviously. But they're adding a sh*t ton amount of users like I've never seen before."

"Whereas previously 90% of the talk on Google+ was about Google+, now it looks like only 75% or so is. That's good, but it needs to keep dropping fast."

Gina Trapani

Coder and blogger Gina Trapani is the most-followed woman on Google+. She shares her thoughts via the site and her blog.

"I'm fine with comments from strangers on public posts (though I'm a blogger first, so very used to that). However, the fact that strangers can start Huddles render that feature useless for me. Otherwise, an interesting take on Google's social effort from a Facebooker."

"Is it possible to enjoy the Circles interface TOO much?"

"I've been been watching Google flail around social web apps for a few years now, so what I appreciate most about Google+ is that it's a well-thought out product informed by past experience. The more I use Google+, the more I see just how many lessons Google learned from Wave and Buzz..."

Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson, creator of MySpace, uses his Google+ profile to pose questions about the product. He's generated thought-provoking discussions about the features of the site and released his own views as well:

"Analyst video about Google+ — suggests Google won't disrupt FB or Twitter, that the cost to build/retain engineers has been a big hit to Google's bottom line, and monetization is unclear. Suggests Facebook gets social search ... He seems to be missing that Google+ has already integrated +1 and Twitter into search ..."

"I've also noticed that my own 'circle' count is quite different than what I see on my circles page (like it's showing I'm 3,000 and I actually have 6,000). Guess there's some lag between counts/dbs."

"If you're following a huge user (like MG [Siegler]) and he chooses to upload 500 photos (go MG!) then you're stream is going to be inundated till the end of time with people commenting on his photos. You can "mute" the sharing of his album, but each photo is its own item, and thus you'd have to mute each photo as it comes up with its first comment, right? Am I missing something here? I know the potential for feed noise is crazy on Google+ right now, but this example seems nuts. It really seems like Google+ will have to provide a "sort by post date," at the very least."

"Google+ does seem like it could take a bite out of Twitter - it seems to let you do what Twitter does (but maybe better), and it definitely lets you commmunicate with your followers in a more normal fashion (not stuck with 140 character DMs)."

Jeff Jarvis

CUNY professor and blogger Jeff Jarvis sounded off on Google+ pros and cons on his blog:

"To paraphrase Mark Zuckerberg, it is too soon to know what Google+ is. But I've been trying to imagine how it will and won't be useful to news. You should add rock salt to anything I say, as I thought Google Wave would be an important journalistic tool."

"Note this good news: Google+ made 'ranking changes ... that demote such comments if the commenter is not in your circles.' That's a good start. I still want the option of a feed of only latest posts, regardless of comment timing."

"RWW looks at how Google+ could be useful in teaching. +Rebecca MacKinnon sees potential. So do I."

"I REALLY want to be able to embed links in posts here. That alone makes this far inferior to blogs and even Twitter for writing pieces with responsible linking."

"This whole notion that one can/should be able to "disable reshare" is setting a treacherous precedent for the rest of the web. Will news organizations tell me I can't share their story? We never had the expectation until G+ gave it to us. Don't go too far with it, friends."

Loic Le Meur

Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb conference, Loic Le Meur reviews Google+ on his Twitter account:

"I wish google did circles for just gmail contacts too, I would totally use them, wouldn't you?"

"Testing the google plus app on samsung tab honeycomb, not optimized but it works"

"What's my incoming stream? Anyone who added me in a circle? I don't get it"

"So, if I do a circle "assholes" and add people in them, they won't even be able to know I tagged them that way? That's disappointing :-)"

"Google+ is entirely streaming, no delay, all push, no reloading a page or clicking anywhere, that's way cool."

"Google+ might hit Twitter more than Facebook, it's so clean..."

"okay, I'm more and more impressed by Google+, I think it's a real competitor to Facebook in the making."

"One thing that frustrates me with G+ is that I don't have a stream of every feedback I get: plusses and comments, see all interactions only. Do you not?"

Felicia Day

Actress and gamer Felicia Day uses some humor to review Google+ on the site and her Twitter account:

"Lots of appealing features in Google+. Can't wait to see what Twitter updates next to counter."

"WHOAH when can you collapse comments? The train gets crazy-sauce long in the feed!"

"This service is confusing! I'm part of people's circles but I didn't agree to be in them, I don't know who I'm sharing with and how ... eeep! Trying to figure out how to use it more like Twitter than involuntary Facebook groups. #1: Email notifications OFF!"

Markus Persson

Markus Persson is the founder and game developer at Mojang, creators of the indie gaming megahit Minecraft.

"Dear Google+, I want to be able to have public circles that people can join. That way, I can post to the "wants to know about Minecraft" circle when I want to talk about Minecraft without having to invite every single fan out there manually."

"Holy moly, I have like 2200 followers! (but my profile page seems to be stuck at 191)."

"Dear Google+, I want to be able to have public circles that people can join. That way, I can post to the 'wants to know about Minecraft' circle when I want to talk about Minecraft without having to invite every single fan out there manually...Or let me tag posts."

Leo Laporte technology broadcaster and author Leo Laporte reserves precious space on his phone's home screen for a Google+ widget. Here are some reviews Leo Laporte posted on his Google+ profile:

"It's really hard to remember that G+ is still in closed beta. I was going to talk about it on KFI this morning, but I don't think it's a good idea to sing the praises of something most people can't access."

Laporte quotes a Wired article by Steven Levy: "Emerald Sea is not a Facebook killer, Gundotra told me. In fact, he added, somewhat puckishly, 'people are barely tolerant of the Facebook they have,' citing a consumer satisfaction study that rated it barely higher than the IRS. Instead, he says, the transformation will offer people a better Google." Laporte responds, "I'd say they're well on their way to succeeding."

"Google+ earned a spot on my phone's home page. Two actually. Replacing Facebook and Beluga."

Image courtesy of Flickr, halilgokdal

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EXCLUSIVE: Apple Store Sets Secret Service on Spy Camera Artist

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 09:45 AM PDT

Artist Kyle McDonald installed a program on computers in two New York Apple Store locations that automatically takes a photo every minute. Now his personal computers have been confiscated by the U.S. Secret Service.

McDonald’s project was to capture people’s expressions as they stare at computers, a subject he had first explored in a recording he made of his own computer time over two days using the same program.

“I thought maybe we could see ourselves doing this we would think more about our computers and how we're using them,” he says.

On three days in June, McDonald’s program documented people staring at computers in Apple stores. Since the stores wiped their computers every night, he had to go back in and reinstall the program each day he took photos. He uploaded a collection of the photos to a Tumblr blog, and last Sunday he set up “an exhibition” at the Apple stores. During the unauthorized event at the Apple stores on West 14th Street and in Soho, when people looked at an Apple store machine, they saw a picture of themselves. Then they saw photos of other people staring at computers. Amazingly, nobody made a fuss.

“We have this expression on our face [when we use computers] that basically says that we're not interacting with anybody, we're interacting with the machine,” the 25-year-old Brooklyn resident says. “Even if there are a lot of people in the room at the Apple store, you're not interacting with them. If something weird happens, you don't say, ‘Hey, did you see that?’”

Over the course of the project, McDonald set up roughly 100 Apple store computers to call his servers every minute. That’s a lot of network traffic, and he learned that Apple monitors traffic in its stores when he received a photo from a Cupertino computer of what appeared to be an Apple technician. The technician had apparently traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers — and installed it himself.

McDonald figured that Apple had decided the program wasn’t a big deal. That was until four Secret Service men in suits woke him up on Thursday morning with a search warrant for computer fraud. They confiscated two computers, an iPod and two flash drives, and told McDonald that Apple would contact him separately.

McDonald, who has a master’s degree in electronic arts, admits the project might make some people uncomfortable. Before he began, he got permission from Apple’s security guards to take photos in the store, then asked customers if he could take their photos (with a camera). Had they all said no, he says, he wouldn’t have proceeded. He also refrained from putting the code for the photo-taking program online, as he does with most of his projects, because he recognized that the technology behind his art project could be used for less benign purposes. If someone sees themselves in his collection and wants to be removed, he will remove them.

The larger question is whether he violated any laws. McDonald doesn’t believe he has.

“My main thought is that I’d rather spend my time and money making new work rather than dealing with a computer fraud investigation,” he says.

He’ll also need to purchase a new computer, which he wasn’t planning on. “Hopefully they let me into the Apple Store,” he says.

Mashable has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article with any new information.

More About: Apple Store, art, people staring at computers, Secret Service, trending

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News Corp Shuts Down News of the World Amid Scandal

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 09:06 AM PDT

British tabloid News of the World is publishing its final edition Sunday, James Murdoch, son of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, has announced.

With a circulation of 3.7 million, the 168-year-old publication is the bestselling Sunday paper in the UK, according to figures from market and media research firm TGI.

The close comes in the wake of series of phone-hacking scandals involving high-profile celebrities, including members of the Royal Family. The latest involved the phone of a missing 13-year-old British girl, later found dead.

Since the latest scandal was uncovered earlier this week, advertisers were quick to disassociate themselves from the plagued tabloid through a series of public announcements on Twitter and elsewhere, claiming that they would no longer be advertising with the publication.

Matters grew even worse Thursday morning after The Guardian published a story indicating that News of the World paid out £100,000 in bribes to police officers in the Greater London area.

In a statement on News of the World‘s website, Rupert Murdoch wrote that “recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable. I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.”

“We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again,” he added.

It is not yet clear if News Corp intends to move News of the World staffers to one of its other major UK newspapers, a portfolio that includes The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Shares of News Corp, which fell 3.6% yesterday, have jumped 1.5% in the hour following the announcement.

[via The Guardian]

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Pixable Adds a Timeline of Facebook Photos You Liked & Commented On

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Remember all of those photos that caught your eye in your Facebook news feed? Probably not. But startup Pixable wants to help change that. On Thursday, it added a “my likes & comments” category to its photo-sharing apps.

The iPhone, iPad and browser apps connect with Facebook and sort you and your friends’ photos into categories like “most popular” or “family updates.” It also makes piles of the most popular Flickr and Instagram photos.

With the new category, users also get a log of what was most interesting to them in real time on Facebook. Since I’m personally a fairly conservative liker on Facebook, the collection of photos in the pile turned out to be something of a highlight reel.

Pixable is one of the only photo startups that is focusing on aggregating and browsing online photos rather creating a photo service of its own — a smart strategy in a crowded startup space that big players like Twitter have recently entered.

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Watch the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Premiere Live [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 08:58 AM PDT

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premieres on Thursday in London, and fans of the franchise can check out the red carpet action live on YouTube and via Ustream and Livestream.

You can check out the Ustream above (or Livestream), or head over to YouTube, which has multiple angles of the event. YouTube has also packed the Harry Potter channel channel with all seven films (which one can rent), behind-the-scenes footage, parodies and interviews.

Livestreamed premieres are becoming an increasingly common practice on the web. YouTube streamed the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse last June, and showcased the NYC premiere for the last Potter flick, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, last November.

More About: Film, harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2, live video, livestream, video, youtube

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Why Facebook Relies on Third-Party Agencies to Scale Its Ad Platform

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 08:45 AM PDT


The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. Mobile devices and video are two of the hottest digital topics. There's been hype for a few years but now mobile and video are hitting their stride with social networking aiding mobile growth. Click here to learn why.

Facebook has a problem that sounds good in theory, but not so much in practice: Too many customers.

There's no question that the top advertisers want to be on Facebook and inventory isn't a problem, either. But at the moment, Facebook lacks the infrastructure to stay on top of demand. That's created a huge opportunity for about two dozen agencies that act as middlemen for Facebook's ad business.

The firms, listed here, are presented as an alternative or a supplement to the automated Facebook Ads Manager tool. Since the tool was developed with small advertisers in mind, marketers with multi-million dollar budgets usually go straight to the middlemen. Why? In part it's because Facebook offers so many variables — there are thousands of ways to slice and dice ads by size and composition, but also by demographic and psychographic.

"The reason people come to Clickable is that we're giving advertisers and agencies the ability to maximize their buys across a great scale," says Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Clickable. "Our experience with Facebook is that one thing they've expressed is they don't have all the answers." A Facebook rep agrees and compares the API partners to the SEO industry that grew up around search. “It’s proof of a shift in how marketers think of social in marketing,” the rep says. “The ecoystem is good for everyone.”

Clickable's specialty is small- to medium-size businesses. Clients include Heatwave Interactive, a gaming company, and Hachette Book Group. When such companies buy a Facebook campaign, Clickable takes advantage of Facebook's scale to experiment with different types of ads and targeting to see which work best.

There are other factors. For instance, “ad blindness” can develop after a user has been exposed to a single ad multiple times. Marin Software offers a means to automate ads to avoid ad blindness, says Matt Lawson, the company’s vice president of marketing and alliances.

Another service the firms provide is tracking analytics. Facebook provides some tracking, but advertisers will likely want more. For instance, Facebook used to offer a tool that logs pageviews, purchases and other activities that happened after a consumer was exposed to a Facebook ad, but the company ended that program last September. So, if a marketer wants to get a good idea of a Facebook ad's ultimate efficacy, they have to go elsewhere.

Facebook first opened its Ads API to outside firms in 2009, when the company got serious about leveraging its huge user base with advertising. The strategy isn't unusual. Google and Yahoo also support a range of ad agencies that simplify buying across their networks. In fact, Google’s recent $400 million purchase of Admeld was designed to simplify a process Google described as “mind-numbingly complicated and inefficient” on its official blog.

What’s different in Facebook’s case is the company launched its ad program in earnest at the moment it became the hottest property on the web. It’s no wonder then that the now 22 companies with access to Facebook’s API hold a coveted position and must adhere strictly to Facebook’s standards. Those that don’t get taken off the list, at least for a short time. Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media, one of the first API partners, says some of the firms eliminated from the list were search ad firms that didn’t adapt to Facebook’s model. “They were looking at click-throughs and ROI,” says Williams. “But on Facebook, it’s all about engagement.”

While that ensures a high level of quality, large marketers are no doubt frustrated by the fact that part of their ad spend goes to two middlemen — the Facebook API companies often deal with ad agencies rather than with the clients directly. Like Google, Facebook might also see the value in solving the ad-buying process for clients. The Facebook rep, however, says that such seeming inefficiencies level out because the API firms are so good at maximizing the ad buys. While she wouldn’t rule out Facebook taking more control of the process at some point in the future, at the moment at least, the arrangement seems to be working. Says the rep: “We’re focusing on the core functionality.”

Series Supported by IDG

The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. Mobile and video advertising spend is small compared to search and display. The promise of mobile and video has not been realized for the past few years. But, IDC analyst Karsten Weide says the slow growth in mobile and video ads is beginning to change. Click here to learn more.

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The 20 Most-Shared Video Ads This Month

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 08:22 AM PDT

In journalism, there’s a saying that “three is a trend,” but I’m impatient, so I’m going to say two examples is enough. This month, that trend is social media IRL. First, T-Mobile adapts Angry Birds to real-world 3D and hilarity ensues. Then, a British guy shows us all how stupid we’d look if we went around trying to friend, follow, like and poke people.

Other than that, there are no common themes or lessons to be learned from June’s Mashable Global Ads Chart — just the usual agglomeration of racing car porn, videogame teases and the occasional oddball video that somehow made its way to viral glory.

To enjoy the list in its motley glory, click on the gallery below.

Note: The list below does not include music videos, user-generated content or movie trailers. Unruly Media's Viral Video Chart tracks 18 million shares a day through third-party APIs.

"Angry Birds Live" (T-Mobile)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play Angry Birds IRL? Well, apparently you're not alone. This video, from T-Mobile, shows what happens when people use a simple smartphone to play a life-size version Angry Birds game, replete with real shooting birds and exploding pigs.

"Superbowl Commercial With Baby" (E-Trade)

E-Trade's 2008's Super Bowl ad resurfaces with a vengeance. There's something timeless about a spit-take.

"Dear 16-year-old Me" (David Cornfield Melanoma Fund)

Dear David Cornfield Melanoma Fund: You're ruining my summer with this effective and heart-rending public service announcement about melanoma.

"Unleash Your Fingers" (Samsung)

For the launch of the Galaxy SII in France, Samsung enlisted Jay Funk, whom you may know as the the "Internet Finger Tutting phenomenon," or, if you're like me, don't know at all. JayFunk can make cubes and butterflies and other stuff come out of hands with a little CGI help.

"1M - Walls - MPowered Performance Part 1" BMW

Racing car videos are the macho equivalent of LOLCats. Here, a BMW 1 Series M Coupe makes its way through cartoon-style car-shaped holes in concrete walls. Professional driver. Do not attempt.

Guitar Baby! (Activision)

Can your tot wield an axe like this kid? Maybe if he's got some CGI people on the payroll.

"Assassin's Creed Revelations E3 2011 Trailer [HD]" (UbiSoft)

Remember when I said race car videos are the macho equivalent of LOLCats? Same goes for previews of videogames.

"Can I Be Your Friend?" (Two Boys Opera)

A harmless looking guy asks people to be his friend, posts "like" notes on objects and literally follows people to show how social media behavior looks IRL. Appropriately enough, it's to promote an opera from Nico Muhly that "lifts the lid on (or "off" maybe?) living our lives online."

"Star Tours: Darth Vader goes to Disneyland" (Disney)

Darth Vader goes to Disneyland and has a great time. 'Nuff said.

"Volkswagen Dark Side" (Greenpeace)

Volkswagen's "The Force" ad gets parodied once again, this time to take VW to task for opposing cuts in CO2 emissions. The video was officially taken down from YouTube because of copyright concerns by LucasFilm, but is still in wide circulation.

"Google Chrome: Justin Bieber" (Google)

After getting up close and personal with Lady Gaga, Google profiles another young singer. Maybe you've heard of him?

"The Google+ project: A Quick Look" (Google)

Are you confused about what all this Google+ stuff is about? This should help.

"Nintendo Wii U Trailer (E3 2011)" (Nintendo)

Are you confused about what all this Wii U stuff is about? This should help.

"Don't Talk - Angry Voicemail (Uncensored)" (Alamo Draft House)

Most brands spotlight their biggest advocates, but Austin's legendary Draft House theater got a lot of mileage by "giving its brand over" to a detractor. Let's see Apple or Coke try this.

"Halo 4 E3 2011 Debut Trailer [HD]" (Microsoft()

Halo 4, slated to hit shelves during the holiday season of next year, gets the cinematic treatment from Microsoft.

"Ken Block's Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l'Autodrome, France" (DC Shoes)

More racing porn on behalf of DC Shoes. Pretty impressive, but can Block drive the car through car-size holes in cement walls?

"The Force" (Volkswagen)

Volkswagen's oft-parodied Lil' Vader Super Bowl spot still has legs. It appears to be a good idea to put a young child in your Super Bowl ad.

"Seagull stole GoPro" (GoPro)

You thought this was a real viral video? Sucker. Nice try, GoPro. And that video featuring the putative owner was a nice touch.

"Danny MacAskill - 'Way Back Home'" (Red Bull)

In another long-term hit, Danny MacAskill does some crazy stunts on his bike on a trip from Edinburgh back to his hometown, Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

"Evian Roller Babies International Version" (Evian)

Those lovable Roller Babies are back, or never left I suppose.

More About: advertising, Evian Babies, Halo 4, Super Bowl ads, viral videos, volkswagen, youtube

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British Scientists Make Chocolate Goodies With 3D Printer [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 07:59 AM PDT

Finally, someone has found a constructive use for 3D printers.

British taxpayers will no doubt be tickled to know that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the UK government's leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, has produced this video about chocolate printing.

As the scientists explain, consumers who download a piece of software will easily be able to sketch the kind of chocolate they'd like to make. Then they can send the 3D CAD file to a machine in a local shop and pick up their chocolate 10 minutes later.

Of course, as we all know, printing doesn't always go as smoothly as advertised. And a jam in this case could be especially messy.

More About: 3D printers, 3d printing, chocolate

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The Gregory Brothers’ First-Ever App Turns Speech to Song

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 07:46 AM PDT

It’s not enough that The Gregory Brothers (of Autotune the News fame) are viral video sensations, Billboard Hot 100 artists, and soon-to-be television stars. Now, they have an app as well.

Songify [iTunes link] — which was created by music application makers, Khush — is an extremely simple iOS application that turns speech into song.

Open the app and you’ll be greeted with a Shazam-like disc, which you can tap to record. Just speak into the phone — anything you like — tap the disc to stop recording, and the app creates an auto-tuned song with your words. You can create songs in a variety of styles — The Gregory Brothers supplied beats from hits like “Bed Intruder,” “Winning” and “Double Rainbow,” and Khush supplemented those tunes with a variety of musical style packs. Users can share finished songs on Twitter, Facebook and via email, and check out other users’ jams via a leaderboard in-app.

“This is the next level for democratizing this for our fans,” says Michael Gregory. “Because they’re always asking us, ‘How can I do this, too? Like when I see a Double Rainbow, I want to scream out in joy, but that won’t make it into a song. How do I do that?’ So now we’re able to interact with them and give them the opportunity to do that.”

T-Pain (oh, progenitor of the ever-popular I Am T-Pain app) recently announced that he was done with auto-tune. Looks like The Gregory Brothers can officially snatch up that fallen mantle now that they have an app of their very own.

Image courtesy of The Gregory Brothers

More About: gregory-brothers, iphone, mobile app, music, songify, viral video

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eBay Acquires Mobile Payments Provider Zong for $240M

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 07:35 AM PDT

Eyeing a shift in consumer habits, eBay has announced it is buying Zong, a provider of payments through mobile carriers, for $240 milllion.

The cash acquisition will let consumers pay for purchases from their phones or computer by using their mobile phone numbers for verification. (The payment shows up on their phone bill.) The idea, according to a statement from eBay, is to provide consumers with another payment option in addition to PayPal. Such options are thought to increase sales conversions since consumers won't have to leave the site to pay for their goods. (In a video, the use is demonstrated by a cartoon figure using his phone to buy credits on a Zynga-like game.)

"Commerce is changing. With mobile phones, we walk around with a mall in our pockets. PayPal helps to make money work better for customers in this new commerce reality –- no matter how they want to pay or what device they're using," said Scott Thompson, president of PayPal. "We believe that Zong will strengthen this value by helping us reach the more than 5 billion people who have mobile phones, giving them more choice and security when they pay."

Founded in 2008 by David Marcus, Zong reaches 3.2 billion users through more than 250 carrier connections. PayPal has 100 million active accounts and expects to transact $3 billion in mobile payments this year.

For a look at the Zong story, see the video below:

More About: ebay, microsoft, Skype, Zong

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