Monday, 11 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Mashable Weekend Recap: 28 Stories You May Have Missed”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Mashable Weekend Recap: 28 Stories You May Have Missed”

Mashable Weekend Recap: 28 Stories You May Have Missed

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 04:11 AM PDT

It was another busy weekend here at Mashable, with social media, technology, media and mobile, design and development, things comic and noble.

Now that we’ve got the semi-poetry out of the way (it must be this humidity getting to us), let’s just say we’ve been packing more stories into our weekend coverage lately, and not only do the posts inform you about the latest news and views, this weekend many went in-depth about topics you care about such as Google+, Mac OS X Lion and the space shuttle’s final mission.

Those stories aren’t gone forever, though, because we’ve compiled them all for you right here:

News Essentials

What's In a Name: Google+ Is Your Plus One

Sid Meier Interview: Bringing Civ World to Facebook

Home Run Derby Batters To Interact Live With Fans Via Twitter

Keenan Cahill Dominates YouTube Again With the Cast of Glee [VIRAL VIDEO]

Facebook Scam Pretends to Connect You With Video Calling [WARNING]

5 Things the Skype Deal Teaches Us About Facebook

Up to 25% of Accidents Are Associated With Gadgets

Google to Stabilize Video for Google Talk on Android

TSA Agent Stuffs iPad Down Pants, Steals $50K in Electronics

Helpful Resources

Preparing Your Mac for Mac OS X Lion

HOW TO: Spruce Up a Boring Resume [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 Services For Building Websites on a Budget

5 Things to Know About WordPress 3.2

3 Fresh iPhotography Apps: LEGO Photo, KaleidaCam & WordFoto [PICS]

HOW TO: Upload iPhone Photos to Google+

40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

3 Cool Web Apps for Your Online Convenience

How Are People Really Using LinkedIn? [INFOGRAPHIC]

HOW TO: Promote Your Band With

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

Weekend Leisure

10 Must-Follow Fictional Twitter Accounts [PICS]

REVIEW: iPhone App Now Works With Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Our 10 Favorite Mashable Comics

Google Offers New YouTube Interface For You To Try [PICS]

Facebook's Zuckerberg Is Asked About Google+ [COMIC]

Navigate Pitchfork Music Festival With an iPhone App

App Helps Make Plans You Never Thought About

A Science Comedian's Life-Long Love Affair With Space [VIDEO]

More About: Weekend recap

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HTC to Bring Unlocked Bootloaders to Sensation and EVO 3D in August

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 02:46 AM PDT

HTC promised on its Facebook page to bring unlocked bootloaders to HTC Sensation (globally and on T-Mobile USA) and HTC EVO 3D on Sprint by the end of summer.

The change means that customers will be able to apply various software modifications and hacks on their phones freely – something a vocal part of the Android community has been demanding for a while.

In practice, it means that the phones will first receive a maintenance update in August, but the unlocking capabilities should be fully enabled in September.

HTC claims that unlocking their entire device portfolio is a “complex challenge”, but still promises to bring unlocking capability other devices over time, “as part of maintenance releases and new shipments”.

More About: bootloader, htc, HTC EVO 3D, HTC Sensation, Mobile 2.0, smartphone, unlocking

For more Mobile coverage:

3 Fresh iPhotography Apps: LEGO Photo, KaleidaCam & WordFoto [PICS]

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 09:55 PM PDT

Do you love finding cool new iPhone photography apps? So do we. In fact, here are three that we’ve tried, tested and think you just might love.

Our trio will let you create cool typography images from your photos, a LEGO mosaic portrait and have tons of fun by turning your iPhone into a kaleidoscope. They definitely land on the fun side of iPhotography.

Take a look through the photo galleries below, complete with screengrabs and sample images, and let us know which apps you’ll be giving a go.

1. WordFoto

1. WordFoto

WordFoto offers a quick, easy way to create typography images. Anyone with an eye for design will be able to tell the results aren't as good as painstakingly created "proper" versions, but darn -- they're not half bad at all.

Cost: $1.99, iTunes link

2. Selecting an Image

You can snap an image from within the app or choose one from your Camera Roll. There's a simple but useful crop function to quickly cut down your pic.

3. Selecting Word Sets

The app offers some pre-loaded word sets, as well as the ability to add your own.

4. Adding Words

Adding word sets is simple, you just enter words one at a time. There is a 12-character limit. The app makers suggest smaller words look more effective.

5. Choosing Styles

Once you've chosen your image and selected your word set, you can play around with the preset styles. There are some pretty good options and switching between them doesn't take too long either.

6. Custom Options

If you use one of the preset styles you get the choice to customize it. The settings are quite simple to understand but here's a pro tip: Make a note of the settings before you start playing around as there's no reset option.

7. Custom Styles

If you really want to go in depth, you can create your own custom style. It's quite advanced but you can select your own fonts and colors (as well as set saturation, contrast, brightness and more).

8. Sample Image

The "Classic Gray" style seemed to suit Charles Kingsley's statue.

9. Sample Image

The "Comic" style gives this picture some fun fonts and colors.

10. Sample Image

The "Howling" preset style seemed appropriate for this wolfish shot.

11. Sample Image

We used the "Romance" style for this floral image.

2. LEGO Photo

1. LEGO Photo

The official LEGO Photo app is a simple offering with just one trick up its sleeve -- to turn your images into mosaics that look as if they're made up of the raised dots from everyone's favorite building bricks.

Cost: Free, iTunes link

2. The App

The app is simple to use, kid-simple in fact as that is its target audience. You can either choose to snap a pic with the camera, or grab one from the phone's Camera Roll.

3. Getting Started

Once you've captured your photo, the app gives you the option to retake or use it.

4. Sample Image

If you use it, you'll be presented with your LEGO-ized pic after a neat transition.

5. Cool Transitions

When you've got your LEGO pic on the phone's screen, tapping the display causes the photo to change its color palette in a really cool way: The photo's brick mosaic ripples across the screen as the colors change.

6. Sample Image

This app is purely for kids, portraits and experimentation. Larger objects and scenes don't fare so well in the lego treatment. This sample image is of a boat, but, due to the relatively large pixellation effect of the bricks, it doesn't work so well.

7. Sample Image

The app works great with for portraits. LEGO's advice is to "use photos that are shot at close range against a light solid colored background," which we did for the first slide in this gallery. However, play around like we did above and you can still get some interesting results.

8. Sample Image

Instantly recognizable objects also work well in the app. We went all pop art with this Pepsi can.

3. KaleidaCam

1. KaleidaCam

The clever KaleidaCam app turns your iPhone into a kaleidoscope and lets you capture and share the mad images it generates.

Cost: $1.99, iTunes link

2. Taking a Photo

The app uses a live preview of the effects. Once you've snapped an image it takes a little while to save down, but once it has you'll find it in both the app's image gallery and the phone's Camera Roll, ready to be shared.

3. Setting the Number of Sides

You can set the number of kaleidoscopic sides to vary your effects. Once you're back in live view, minuscule camera movements make for very different kaleidoscopic effects. You'll find this app is a bit addictive once you start playing around.

4. Sample Image

An ordinary household object gets transformed using the four sides setting.

5. Sample Image

KaleidaCam makes a bedroom unrecognizable.

6. Sample Image

Patterns also yield interesting results.

7. Sample Image

A street scene becomes trippy with the six sides setting.

8. Sample Image

Believe it or not, this is a landscape.

9. Sample Image

We were amazed by some of the results, just be wary of trying any self-portraits ...

10. Sample Image

... you might not like how they turn out!

More About: apple, apps, gallery, iphone apps, iphoneography, iphotography, Lego, photography, photography apps, Photos

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REVIEW: iPhone App Now Works With Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 09:29 PM PDT

You’ve probably heard of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the speech recognition software for PC and Mac that lets you do the talking, and it types everything you say. Now the new version 11.5 has been released, and it lets you use an iPhone as your microphone. I installed the PC version of the software and downloaded the Nuance remote mic iPhone app to see how well it works.

Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 11 for PC (and the Mac version, called Dragon Dictate, with similar features and the same speech recognition engine) was released last September, and its claim to fame was a significant increase in its speech-to-text accuracy. The speech recognition engine in this version 11.5 is the same as in version 11. It requires little training, and can not only transcribe everything you say, but it lets you navigate your computer and bark out commands such as “search Google for rubber baby buggy bumpers,” and it immediately opens up your default browser, enters your terms in Google and searches away.

Until now, you needed to connect a microphone, preferably a wired USB headset mic, to make Dragon achieve its peak accuracy. The main innovation in this new version, which is available for PC now and will be soon for Mac, is the way it lets you use your iPhone’s stock earbuds/mic as a microphone, resulting in sound quality that’s at least as good as that of a USB mic. This is a good thing, because Bluetooth mics just don’t work well enough for speech recognition. But the iPhone app doesn’t use Bluetooth — it communicates with your computer over Wi-Fi, resulting in better mic sound quality — which ultimately means better accuracy.

Setting up the iPhone 4 to use its mic is simple. After a quick download of the free Nuance iPhone app [iTunes link] from the App Store, I launched the Dragon NaturallySpeaking PC application, and using the connectivity software Bonjour (which is included in iTunes), it automatically paired up with the NaturallySpeaking software on my PC. If you don’t wish to install Bonjour, you can enter your computer’s IP address, and I tried configuring it that way which worked equally well:

Once the software and iPhone were paired, I tapped the icon on the iPhone app and it activated the microphone. After a 5-minute guided training session that amounted to just testing of the microphone, the software was ready to go. I placed the iPhone in my pocket and I could stroll around the room, talking normally as each of my words and commands were immediately typed on the screen. It worked beautifully, with accuracy that was even better than the best wired USB microphone I’ve been using over the past few years with NaturallySpeaking.

A note about NaturallySpeaking software: It’s not for everyone. It works best for people who speak distinctly, and even though it does transcribe quite well even if you utter separate phrases with frequent pauses, it hits its highest accuracy level if you speak in complete sentences. Increasing accuracy further is the ability to train the software by introducing it to documents and emails you’ve written, and it learns your vocabulary.

While you’re training NaturallySpeaking to learn the words and phrases you use most often, the software is training you at the same time. You learn to speak in complete sentences, and even to think in paragraphs. It can even have a profound effect on your writing style, making it more conversational. I use it for everything I write. In fact, I wrote most of an 70,000 word book with Dragon, where I hardly typed a single character. I noticed after I’d used it for a few years that its accuracy is pushing 99%. It’s just uncanny.

Beyond that iPhone Microphone trick, version 11.5 is packed with small upgrades throughout the interface, including new commands that work with Facebook and Twitter. For example, you can say “tweet,” after which it opens a box on your desktop like this:

Then, whatever you say after that is typed into the box. Say “OK”, and NaturallySpeaking sends what you just uttered to your Twitter account. It works similarly for Facebook. It’s a kick, and it’s a huge productivity enhancer on all fronts.

To use this iPhone remote mic app, you must purchase the premium version (or above, and as I mentioned, the Mac version is not available yet) of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, $179.99 for the software download, or $199.99 for the boxed version. It’s worth it — I think this technology is excellent, bordering on miraculous. If you have an iPhone and can’t type as quickly as you can talk, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 might be the best $179.99 you’ve ever spent.

More About: 11.5, dictation, Dragon, iphone app, Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5, software, speech recognition

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Our 10 Favorite Mashable Comics

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 08:42 PM PDT

Preparing Your Mac for Mac OS X Lion

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 07:08 PM PDT

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is right around the corner. Is your Mac ready?

About a week and a half ago, Apple released the Golden Master version of Lion to Apple Developers. The final version is expected to hit the Mac App Store soon — perhaps in the next few days.

Mac OS X Lion will bring lots of new features to the Mac operating system, including enhanced multi-touch gesture support, the ability to swipe between fullscreen apps and a new auto-save system.

Upgrading an operating system can be a time-consuming process — no matter how easy the manufacturer tries to make it. To limit the potential headaches, we’ve put together this guide that should help you get your Mac ready for Lion.

Step 1: Check for System and Application Updates

Before upgrading to Lion, it’s important to check for any major software updates to both your operating system and to the programs and devices you use frequently.

A few weeks ago, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.8. This release was intended to help prepare users for Mac OS X Lion; it’s a required update before you can download Lion from the Mac App Store.

To update your system, click on the Apple menu and select “Software Update.” Go ahead and install any of the updates for your system and official Apple applications.

Next, check for available updates in your frequently used programs. A nice feature of the Mac App Store is that it makes it easy to find updates for programs you’ve purchased or installed. Just click on the “Updates” button in Mac App Store’s toolbar.

For other apps, lots of developers utilize various update frameworks within their applications and can alert users, when launched, that an update is available.

One of my longtime favorite Mac utilities is AppFresh. AppFresh is a free tool that scours your system for apps, compares them to the latest versions online and lets you install updates all in one convenient place.

Certain apps and utilities will need to be updated to work with Lion, so it’s important to make sure you are running the latest versions.

If you are using an older printer or scanner, you might want to determine if the manufacturer has updated drivers or has a plan for Lion compatibility.

2. Clear Up Some Disk Space

Lion is about a 4GB download, and to be on the safe side, it’s probably a good idea to have at least 10 – 12 GB of free disk space before installing the update.

Using a program like DaisyDisk or DiskWave is an efficient way to figure out what files and folders are taking up the most space. You can either back up some of those files to other drives or to places such as Dropbox, or delete unused apps or downloads.

3. Check App Compatibility

With Lion, Apple is making some changes to the way programs work and interact. As a result, not all programs that run in Snow Leopard are going to work flawlessly in Lion.

Fortunately, most app developers are already preparing and releasing updates and many more will have updates ready as soon as Lion ships. To get an idea of what apps will work, what apps won’t and what apps might “mostly work,” check out the community wiki, RoardingApps.

RoaringApps is a database/compatibility wiki for apps and Mac OS X Lion. Users of the Lion Developer Previews and the Golden Master can comment on how well (or how poorly) apps work with Lion.

I’ve found this resource to be quite helpful, especially for workarounds and potential fixes for apps that might not be fully Lion compatible.

Step 4. Say Goodbye to PowerPC Apps

A larger issue for longtime Mac users is that with Lion, Apple is officially dropping support for Rosetta. Rosetta was a technology that Apple developed to help users run older PowerPC apps on Intel Macs. Over the last five years, most major Mac apps have been updated or rewritten to work natively as Intel Mac apps or as universal binaries.

A handful of older applications (older versions of Adobe Creative Suite and Quicken 2007 are two frequently cited examples) will not work with Mac OS X Lion. Users will need to find replacement apps, upgrade to newer versions or keep a second-hard drive around to boot into Snow Leopard when needed.

To find out if any of the apps you frequently use require Rosetta (and thus won’t work with Lion), you can follow the instructions Christopher Breen wrote for Macworld. The key is to look for any PowerPC apps. If you find them, prepare for them not to work in Lion and consider looking for replacements.

Step 5. Backup, Backup, Backup

The last step in preparing your Mac for Lion is to do a serious backup of your system disk. While operating system upgrades are less error-prone than in the past, there’s nothing worse than doing an update and then having a problem with accessing files or folders or installing software.

If you don’t already have a hard drive dedicated to backup, pick one up before you upgrade to Lion. Drive space is inexpensive these days. I was able to pick up a 1TB FireWire 800/USB 2.0 2.5″ hard drive for about $150 two weeks ago. My MacBook Pro only has a 250GB hard drive, so I can partition that drive and use it as both a Time Machine backup and with Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable backup, plus still have plenty of room for additional storage space.

Time Machine

Fortunately, creating a backup of your system (something you should be doing regularly anyway) is easy in Mac OS X. When Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was released in 2007, one of the flagship features was the debut of Time Machine. Time Machine makes it easy to make continuous backups of your files, folders and applications.

To get started with Time Machine, just open up the app in your Applications folder or from its panel in System Preferences. If you have never used Time Machine before, just plug in a hard drive, and tell Time Machine that you want to use that drive (or a partition on that drive) for your backups.

Bootable Backup Disks

A Time Machine backup can be useful for restoring old files or applications after you upgrade to Lion, especially if you choose to do a clean install (yes, you can do a clean install of Lion, it just takes a tad more work. We’ll have a full guide ready as soon as Lion is available in the Mac App Store.), but we recommend creating a bootable clone of your current hard drive too.

Using a program such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, you can quickly make a bootable backup of your hard drive.

In a worst-case scenario, you can boot from your external backup drive and use that as your main hard drive (if needed). Mac OS X Lion will no longer support older PowerPC Mac apps using Rosetta. As a result, users who still need to access an old program or old file formats should make sure they have a bootable copy of Snow Leopard around, just in case.

SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner are both great apps. Carbon Copy Cloner is free (though if you find it valuable, please consider donating — it’s a truly fantastic app), while SuperDuper is $27.95 to unlock its more advanced features.

To use Carbon Copy Cloner to create an exact replica of your current hard drive, launch the app and then select your “Source Disk,” which is your startup volume.

Select your external hard drive (or specific partition) as your “Target Disk.” By default, this will make an exact backup of all of your files, folders and applications and make the hard drive bootable. Click the Clone button and you’re done. You might want to take a break and do some reading or spend time with the family — the backup process can take a while.

Your Tips

What do you do to prepare your Mac for a new OS upgrade? Let us know in the comments. Also look out for our official Mac OS X Lion guide that will walk you through the installation process (clean install included) and help you understand the new features.

More About: apple, how tos, lion, mac, mac os x lion, mac software, trending

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Home Run Derby Batters To Interact Live With Fans Via Twitter

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 06:21 PM PDT

In what’s being called by baseball promoters “one of the most immersive social media events in Major League Baseball history,” Monday night’s Home Run Derby will feature many of the competition’s batters interacting with fans during the competition on Twitter for the first time ever.

This should be highly entertaining for baseball fans who tweet, to witness all the trash talk (trash tweets?) between the jovial all-stars who will be swinging for the fences. Get your questions and comments ready for your favorite player. Which Twitter accounts should you follow during this batting extravaganza? Here’s the full roster from

American League captain David Ortiz (@davidortiz), Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19) and Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) will be tweeting on their accounts during the course of the event as participants, and so will other All-Stars including Heath Bell (@HeathBell21), Gio Gonzalez (@GioGonzalez47), Hunter Pence (@HunterPence9), Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP), Gaby Sanchez (@GabySanchez215), Justin Upton (@RealJustinUpton), Major League Baseball’s first Tweeter C.J. Wilson (@str8edgeracer), Howie Kendrick (@HKendrick47) and Joel Hanrahan (@hanrahan4457).

Want to see these guys smacking it out of the park on TV? It’ll be live on Monday night (7/11/11) from Chase Field in Phoenix on ESPN and ESPN3 starting at 8 P.M. ET, or watch the live stream on Not into TV? Follow the players’ tweets all in one place on this Twitter list.

More About: baseball players, David Ortiz, ESPN, home run Derby, José Bautista, Major League Baseball, Prince Fielder, twitter

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Keenan Cahill Dominates YouTube Again With the Cast of Glee [VIRAL VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 04:11 PM PDT

You’ve got to envy Keenan Cahill, the lip-”synching” YouTube sensation who’s performed with huge names such as 50 Cent and Katy Perry — and here with Glee stars Harry Shum Jr., Dianna Agron, Darren Criss and Jenna Ushkowitz — in dozens of tremendously popular YouTube video hits.

It doesn’t seem to matter that Keenan, who seems to be coping well with Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, hardly has any idea what the lyrics are to this catchy tune, Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).”

Nevertheless, this video has blasted its way clearly into viral territory with well over a million views so far. Hey, that’s nothing compared to the total number of views Keenan Cahill’s YouTube channel has garnered as of Sunday: 272,525,359. Phenomenal.

More About: GLEE, Keenan Cahill, lip-synch, video, viral video, youtube

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5 Things to Know About WordPress 3.2

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 03:37 PM PDT

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wordpress image

Self-hosted users got a nice surprise on Independence Day with the release of WordPress 3.2, “Gershwin.”

WordPress 3.2 is the fifteenth major WordPress release in the project’s eight-year history. The focus in this release was to make things faster, lighter and more streamlined.

We’ve spent some time with WordPress 3.2, both in its various betas and in the final version, and put together this guide to what’s new, improved and enhanced.

1. New Minimum Requirements

One of the larger technical changes in WordPress 3.2: This release officially drops support for older versions of PHP and MySQL. The new requirements mean that PHP 4 and MySQL 4 will no longer be supported.

This is a good thing. PHP 5 and MySQL 5 have both been available since 2005, and WordPress is actually one of the last major pieces of web software to drop support for the old versions. Even though WordPress 3.2 doesn’t actually do anything that requires PHP 5, this is the first step in that direction. Moving to PHP 5 and MySQL 5 means that future versions of WordPress can be lighter, take advantage of more new features and be better optimized for performance.

The new basic requirements are PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0. The popularity of WordPress and the fact that the team made the announcement of the switch a year in advance means that most major hosts who weren’t already running newer versions of MySQL and PHP have had a chance to upgrade.

You can find out if your web server meets the minimum requirements by installing the Health Check plugin from the WordPress directory. It simply tells you what versions of PHP and MySQL you are running and lets you know if that is appropriate for WordPress 3.2.

2. Goodbye, IE 6

In a similar vein, is following in the footsteps of and dropping support for IE 6. Supporting IE 6 has long been a struggle for the UI team — many of the new features and additions just don’t play well with the aging browser.

You can load the WordPress dashboard in IE 6 but it won’t look good or be very usable. For corporate users who are still forced to use IE 6 at work, use this as yet another opportunity to convince the bean counters to move away from IE 6 and onto modern browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari or IE 9.

3. New Default Theme

One of my favorite features in WordPress 3.2 is the new default theme, Twenty Eleven.

When WordPress 3.0 was released last year, it came packaged with a brand-new default theme, Twenty Ten. At the time, the WordPress Theme Team said the goal was to introduce a new default theme every year.

Twenty Eleven is the spiritual successor to the Duster theme for and users. Duster was developed by the gang at Automattic (the people behind and it was a visually and technically impressive theme.

Twenty Eleven has taken the work on Duster and improved it, making it more stable and robust. Visually, the theme is clean and modern and it supports responsive layouts, which means that the same website will look great on a phone, an iPad or desktop monitors of varying sizes.

4. Distraction Free Writing Mode

The big “shiny” feature in WordPress 3.2 is the addition of a new distraction free writing mode. When users enter the fullscreen mode of the WordPress post editor, they are now treated to a new writing mode that aims at cutting down on distractions and making it easier for users to “just write.”

It’s a nice feature, particularly for users who like to spend a lot of time on their prose and don’t want to be distracted by sidebars, menus and options. Plus, the feature is smart enough to still allow users to access various parts of the publishing interface.

5. Redesigned Dashboard

Visually, the backend WordPress interface has received an overhaul. This is the first major user interface change since WordPress 2.7 was released in 2008. The new interface is cleaner, more streamlined and the interface has been lightened up.

The changes are subtle, but the overall effect, at least for me, is something that looks more professional and more polished. WPCandy has put together a full before and after gallery highlighting the interface changes.

You can also check out our gallery from earlier this year that walks through the evolution of WordPress from 2003 through 2011.

WordPress 0.7.1

The first release of WordPress was unleashed onto the interwebs on May 27, 2003.

Check out the sparse backend/post page.

WordPress 1.0.1

WordPress hit 1.0 in January of 2004. The update included an improved installation process, a new default theme and a more robust backend.

WordPress 1.2

Released in May 2004, WordPress 1.2 introduced plugins, extending WordPress even further.

WordPress 1.5

In February 2005, WordPress 1.5 was released. It included new features like the ability to create pages, as well as posts and a new default theme, Kubrick. Kubrick would stay on as the default theme until 2010.

WordPress 2.0

On December 31, 2005, WordPress 2.0 was introduced to the world.

WordPress 2.0 featured a redesigned (and blue) admin, WYSIWYG editing and inline uploads.

WordPress 2.1

More than a year would pass before WordPress 2.1 would make its way to users in January 2007.

WordPress 2.1 included autosave for posts and drafts, a tabbed post editor and the ability to set any page as the homepage of a website.

WordPress 2.2

In May 2007, WordPress 2.2 was released. It introduced widgets to the WordPress world and kicked off a new, more frequent development cycle.

WordPress 2.3

WordPress 2.3 was released in September 2007. The big new feature in 2.3 was support for tags as well as categories. That may not seem that important in 2011, but at the time, it was a huge feature.

WordPress 2.5 Dashboard

In March 2008, WordPress 2.5 was released. A major user interface update, WordPress 2.5 brought about some major changes to the dashboard and post screen.

WordPress 2.5 Post Screen

Although certainly better looking than previous versions of WordPress, WordPress 2.5 was criticized for some as being "too different."

The interface remained largely unchanged in WordPress 2.6, released in July 2008, but the backend would soon change again.

WordPress 2.7

In December 2008, WordPress 2.7 became available. For the second time in less than a year, the user interface was completely revamped. This time, it was a hit.

WordPress 2.7 Post Screen

The overall interface remained largely the same from WordPress 2.7 through WordPress 2.9.

In the intervening 18 months, however, WordPress gained lots of new features and started to really round itself out as more than just a blogging engine.

WordPress 3.0 Dashboard

Released in June 2010, WordPress 3.0 was a major release for the platform.

Many of the new features, like custom post types and taxonomies have helped WordPress establish itself as a real, grown-up CMS.

WordPress 3.0 Post Screen

The post screen for WordPress 3.0 and 3.1 is customizable and modular.

WordPress 3.2 Beta Dashboard

The next major WordPress release, WordPress 3.2, is expected sometime in June 2011. This release features a revamped dashboard and post interface. It also marks the official end for support for Internet Explorer 6.

WordPress 3.2 Post Screen

WordPress 3.2 carries over many of the elements from WordPress 3.0/3.1, but with a more refined look and feel.

WordPress 3.2 Distraction Free Writing Page

One of the big new features in WordPress 3.2 is the introduction of the Distraction Free Writing mode. This mode allows the user to just concentrate on writing, without worrying about sidebars, modules or custom fields.

In some respects, the new writing mode harkens back to the earliest days of WordPress.

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More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:

- How the WordPress SEO Plugin Can Help Your Blog [INTERVIEW]
- Closed or Open Source: Which CMS is Right for Your Business?
- HOW TO: Get Devs to Use Your Company’s API
- HOW TO: Get Started with the Less Framework
- 4 Free Ways to Learn to Code Online

More About: web development series, WordPress, wordpress 3.2

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HOW TO: Upload iPhone Photos to Google+

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 02:01 PM PDT

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Who says Android phone users get to have all the fun uploading photos to Google+? You can do that with an iPhone, too, using any app that can send pics to Google‘s image organizer, Picasa.

For this how-to sent to us by Paul Molluzzo of Alpha Dad, let’s use an ad-supported app called Piconhand, available free on the App Store.

Once you have the app downloaded and installed, follow Paul’s quick tutorial (with some of my own tips inserted):

Sign in with your Google credentials. You'll see a list of your existing albums.

Be sure you have location services turned on.

Find Location Services by tapping the Settings icon, then Location Services, and then scroll down to find Piconhand.

Create a new "Mobile" album.

Or name it whatever you wish, perhaps a Circle name you'd like to give access to. This gives you control of who gets to see these pics in Google+.

Select "Upload," pick a Picasa album, but nothing happens until you tap "Start"

Choose a pic from your library or take a new one. The app lets you edit pics if you choose that in Preferences.

You'll see a progress bar when the pics are uploading.

After they're uploaded, go to Google+ and adjust the visibility of the album where you uploaded those photos, assigning that folder to the various circles you'd like to allow to see those pics.

This is a quick and easy way to send photos to Google+, and will suffice until Apple finally approves a Google+ app for iOS. But we won’t be holding our breath waiting for that.

Readers, have you discovered other iPhone Picasa uploaders or methods that you’d recommend?

More About: Google, Google Plus, how to, iphone, picasa, upload photos

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10 Must-Follow Fictional Twitter Accounts [PICS]

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 12:38 PM PDT

If you enjoyed our list of must-follow fake Twitter celebs, then we wager you’ll love this offering of the best fictional accounts.

Whether you want to be amused by your favorite caped crusader, keep up with some cartoon characters or see tweets from film baddies, you’ll find it all in this fun list.

SEE ALSO: Twitter’s 37 Shortest Usernames

Take a look through the gallery and, because there are so many more great accounts that we didn’t have room include, share in the comments your favorites that didn’t make the list.

1. The Batman

Even more deliciously dark than the most recent Batman movie, this version of the caped crusader is an anti-hero indeed. Offering a stream of witty one-liners about just how tough he is, somehow the mix of real-life commentary mixed with Gotham City references works.

2. Mrs Stephen Fry

Did you know British comedy star and Twitter legend Stephen Fry has a wife and kids? Her name is Edna (we're not sure what the kids's names are -- all five, six or possibly seven of them). As the winner of a Shorty Award and author of Mrs Fry's Diary, she may be made up, but she's well worth a follow.

3. Bender

If you're a fan of Bender from Futuruma, then you'll enjoy this stream's acerbic tweets. This fan-run account manages to capture all of Bender's alcoholic, kleptomaniacal hatin', in a fun way, of course.

4. Death Star PR

If a space station ever needed a public-relations makeover, it's the planet-destroying Death Star. This Twitter account tries to mend the Death Star's reputation while also recruiting folks to the dark side. We only recommend following if you're strong enough to resist its sway.

5. Cobra Commander

It may be odd that a terrorist leader racked up more than 100,000 followers, but he's actually quite a funny guy. Two favorites include: "The one thing I loathe about women besides their incessant need to speak their opinions are these cursed gladiator sandals," and "Installing booby traps outside my office has cut down on useless meetings by 75%"

6. Darth Vader

Calling people "asshat," threatening tweeple and hashtagging commands with "obey" are just what we'd expect from the Sith Lord. Follow for cutting commentary from the dark side.

7. Homer J. Simpson

Everyone's favorite yellow donut-lover tweets via this official account. Despite its above-board status, it's actually very funny with an average of several tweets per week.

8. Lord Voldemort

Harry Potter's nemesis offers humorous commentary on current affairs and witty retorts, with various Potter references thrown in for good measure. With over a million followers it looks as if the Death Eaters are getting more and more numerous ...

9. False Peter Griffin

This unofficial account hasn't been going for a long time but it has already notched nearly 70,000 followers from just 17 amusing tweets. If you're a Family Guy fan, there's always Stewie to follow too.

10. Yoda

Finally, is your Twitter life lacking wisdom from a small green sage? Then follow Yoda you must ...

More About: batman, cobra commander, Darth Vader, gallery, homer simpson, parody, spoof, trending, twitter, Twitter Lists, voldemort, Yoda

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Google Offers New YouTube Interface For You To Try [PICS]

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 11:19 AM PDT

After rolling out Google+ and sneak previewing a revamped Gmail interface, now Google has redesigned YouTube with new features that are more than skin deep.

Announced Thursday on the YouTube Blog, the new Youtube interface is an experiment that Google is calling “Cosmic Panda,” and unlike Google+, this one’s open to everyone.

Gone is that white background underneath the video player, replaced by a less-distracting dark gray backdrop. At the bottom of that frame are four new icons that let you conveniently change the video frame size. There are new page designs and improved editing tools to customize channels. Best of all, when you’re using Google Chrome, you can keep one video playing while you’re looking for others, switching between channels or playlists.

Another improvement is the ability to choose whether you see comments or not, with buttons allowing you to dismiss comments and fill the page below the video player with suggested videos that are each in larger frames. In addition, Cosmic Panda makes it easier to edit a channel template, giving users a choice of layouts for creators, bloggers, networks and a general-use template Google calls “everything.”

Unfortunately, Google’s YouTube player has retained the old transport controls from the previous YouTube interface, and there’s no icon to click to incrementally skip forward or backward. You can still do that with the slider control underneath the video, but as you can see in our gallery of screenshots below, on this new version, the zone where you can click to skip forward or backward is even smaller than that area on the old version.

Even with those quibbles, I think the new YouTube interface is a significant improvement over the current one. What do you think? Go ahead, try it yourself at Google’s Cosmic Panda page. And don’t worry — if you don’t like it, you can easily change back to the old YouTube interface.

Suggested Videos Interface

Notice the bigger thumbnails.

YouTube interface

Browsing a channel

Comments visible, but with a click...

Suggested videos only, no comments

Click "suggested videos" and the comments disappear, which might be a relief given the savage nature of many YouTube comments.

Old slider

New slider, slightly thinner

More About: cosmic panda, design, development, Google, new interface, youtube

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Sid Meier Interview: Bringing Civ World to Facebook

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 10:18 AM PDT

The legendary Civilization game franchise of has officially gone social with last Wednesday’s launch of the open beta for Civ World. The Facebook offering aims to bring complex strategy to a space currently dominated by more casual games such as FarmVille.

Will longtime Civ fans be satisfied by a social version of the game? Will Facebook’s casual gaming scene embrace a title with such a steep learning curve?

We had the opportunity to speak with preeminent game developer Sid Meier, the man behind one of the most revered strategy franchises, to find out a bit more about his company’s plans for Civ World.

Q&A With Civilization Game Developer Sid Meier

The Civilization franchise is loved by gamers who like to go deep, and Facebook games are not always known for this. How will Civ World hook the existing fanbase?

Our goal is to bring the core Civilization experience to Facebook, so that Civ fans will feel right at home with the game. We feel that the Civilization experience can be delivered in fun and meaningful ways on many different platforms. Civilization on the PC and consoles is different than the one we're bringing to social networking, but players will recognize many of the elements that have been in Civilization games before. We want to deliver the same addictive gameplay that Civ players love, in a way that will engage folks who enjoy playing games on the social network platform, and we look forward to adding to the experience as the game continues to evolve on Facebook.

Is there a trade-off between game depth and social features? And if so, will it be enough to appease hardcore Civ fans?

No, there isn't a trade-off between these two features. Civ World is a very deep and robust gameplay experience with social strategy at its core. With the direct collaborative and competitive gameplay, achievements, and a systemic marketplace for trade, the game offers a new level of depth to Facebook games. Civ World is a game where players join with their friends to build the world's most powerful empire. Our in-game chat feature makes it easy for players to work with other members of their civilization to quickly build their empire or decide which civilizations to invade. Civ World consists of some basic concepts that are easy to learn, and the complexity arises from working in collaboration with others towards a common goal. You'll need to think strategically if you want to win a game! Plus your opponents are also all people — which makes them tough opponents who can surprise you with new tactics all the time!

It seems Facebook friends can play cooperatively (as members of the same civilization) and competitively (as members of competing civs). Can you elaborate on how these dynamics will work?

Players in the same civ can work together to strategize on the different aspects of the game like culture, science, production, and battles. For example, Wonders can only be built by a civ [containing multiple players] since one person is only allowed to contribute a single Great Person. There is even competition within a civ to become the king or queen. Between the different civs, you are competing to become the strongest civ in the game. Civs compete against each other in battles, in researching a certain technology first, in building the most wonders, and acquiring other resources that add to the strength of their Civ. Citizens in a civ can also share resources with each other which can give a huge boost to their civ.

How critical is collaboration in Civ World? Are players who go it alone doomed to fail?

Collaboration is really the key to winning in Civ World. Only civilizations can win eras and start a battle. When in a civ, you can reap the benefits of having a larger pool of items to share. However, you can still have fun building your city, acquiring resources and some achievements, and visiting other player's cities all on your own. You just won't win a game that way.

What are "fame points?" How do they relate to victory?

Fame points represent the score in Civ World. A wide variety of actions and accomplishments can produce fame points such as winning a medal, being a member of a civ at the time that the civ wins an Era victory, winning certain auctions in the market, and winning contests. Each player has a fame score for every individual game, as well as a total or “lifetime” fame score aggregating all the fame points they have earned from all the games they have played.

Are all Civ World games happening in the same "universe" like an MMO, or are individual games isolated?

Like an MMO, the game is persistent and continues even if you are not playing; however, the game does have a beginning and an end. There also is a limit to how many people can be in a certain game; however, there are multiple games going on at the same time.

What if none of my Facebook friends play Civ World? Will the game match me up with strangers of similar skill levels?

If you do have friends in a game, Civ World will match you up to that game, but if you don't have any friends playing, it will put you in a game at random. Through our in-game chat it's easy to meet players, and the most experienced players will help guide new players with helpful hints.

How persistent are the games? What happens if I don't log into Civ World for a week during a match?

The game is persistent and continues even when you are not playing. We've worked hard to balance the time you spend playing the game with what you can do in the game, because we want everyone to be able to contribute and have a chance for victory each time they jump in to play. Even if your time is limited, you can still contribute to the success of your nation by working with your friends to coordinate a victory.

Civ World is there when you want to play. So, you can rule the world on your own time. If you don't log on for a week or so, the game will continue on. However, there is an end to the game, and the length of each game varies depending on how it's being played, so you'll want to check back as often as possible so you don't miss out on the fun. New games are also starting up all the time, so you can also jump into a fresh game and not worry about being behind.

What's the business model for Civ World?

Civ World is free to play, but players can choose to use Civ Bucks, which is our premium game currency. Civ Bucks can be used to get gems to enhance your throne room and city, for extra harvests, more moves in the various mini-games or additional gold to purchase buildings or market items. However, to keep the game balanced, there will be a cap on how many Civ Bucks can be used each day on items or actions that impact gameplay. We want the game to be balanced and interactive in a way that accommodates different play styles and strategies.

Any plans for a mobile app that will let players check in on their Civs from a smartphone?

There are lots of great ideas out there and we're looking forward to exploring all of them. We'll keep you posted.

More About: Civ World, civilization, facebook, gaming, interview, Sid Meier, social games, social media, video games

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5 Services For Building Websites on a Budget

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 09:11 AM 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.

There’s little doubt that a custom-designed and developed website is ideal for business. A trained professional can help you optimize your site for good search engine rankings, custom-tailor the look and feel to appeal to your target audience, reinforce your company’s image and ensure that your content is easily accessible and the user experience enjoyable. However, large web-development budgets often just aren’t possible, particularly for small businesses or entrepreneurs who are just getting started. In these cases, a number of web services exist to allow you to grow your company’s presence online, often in just minutes. We’ll take a look at five of them below.

1. Squarespace

One of the most popular of these services is Squarespace. With subscription prices ranging from $12 to $36 per month, you can create an entire website for not much more than you would pay for basic shared hosting. All Squarespace accounts include hosting, the Squarespace content management system, the visual designer tools and access to widgets and add-ons to incorporate into your site. You can also use your own domain name with all levels of Squarespace accounts. Larger plans give you room for more pages, more bandwidth, more management staff and access to advanced features like FAQs, SSL, form builders and member registration.

One thing we really like about Squarespace is its visual designer. You can choose from available themes or create and customize your own, either via user-friendly point and click, or by directly editing the theme CSS files.

2. Weebly

For those of you on a really small budget (or who just like the idea of getting something for free), Weebly is an entirely free service that will have you up and running on the web in no time. For the price (or lack thereof), Weebly’s feature set is quite impressive. You’ll be able to use your own domain name and choose from more than 100 professional themes, which can then be further customized via the theme editor. Weebly also has gallery/slide show functionality, audio and video players, a custom form builder and built-in blogging platform.

The company has been around for five years and gets revenue from several paid subscription plans and is backed by one of the largest VC firms around, so it’s safe to say Weebly will be a player for a while.

3. Jigsy

Jigsy is another easy-to-use website builder offering hosted plans for businesses and individuals alike. Jigsy’s plans range from free (ad-supported, with limited functionality) to $30 per month, and all paid plans will actually let you host multiple websites from the same account. Jigsy also has a powerful blogging platform and utilizes a widget-based system for expanding and adding functionality to the sites. Widgets are available for features like Google maps integration, RSS feeds, PayPal and eBay selling and more. Jigsy also offers tools for easily creating photo galleries and slide shows.

Further, Jigsy allows you to customize the layout and look of your site via the website builder, and unlike some other services listed here, it also handles email hosting.

4. SnapPages

If you feel a bit intimidated by the thought of having to manage and customize your own CSS files or widget code, SnapPages is a drag-and-drop website builder and hosted service provider that aims to make website creation as simple as a few clicks. Many themes are available and, like similar services, each is customizable. Features for all plans include a blogging platform, photo galleries, calendars and basic access control via a “friends” list. Plans range from free to $30 per month, much like Jigsy.

With the paid plans ($8 or $30), you’ll be able to host your own domain name, add your own custom HTML and JavaScript code, gain access to powerful analytics and control various SEO options. SnapPages’ top-tier plan is intended for developers and will allow you to do all of this, as well as manage multiple accounts, track projects and create invoices, so you can use SnapPages to build sites for your network or clients.

5. Yola

Last, but not least, Yola is another web site creation service offering free and paid plans (from $99 to $499 per year). With more than 100 themes to choose from and customization options via Yola’s site builder, you’ll be able to easily create a website that’s just right for your business. Other features include analytics and traffic statistics, premium styles and multi-site hosting.

If you spring for Yola Premier (the $499 per year plan), Yola will also throw in one-on-one consultation with professional designers, and both paid plans include advertising credits on popular ad platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords.

What other website-building platforms have you tried? Let us know in the comments.

More About: email, jigsy, SnapPages, squarespace, trending, web design, web hosting, Weebly, Yola

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HOW TO: Spruce Up a Boring Resume [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Jul 2011 08:05 AM PDT

Writing a resume is such a nebulous activity these days. You have to figure out which type of online resume format is best for you, whether to include a cover letter, how to incorporate social media into your resume, if a video resume is a good idea and what you should include on your LinkedIn profile. Above all that, to get the job, you need to beat out all the other creative digital peeps who are producing dynamic digital resumes. Phew — that’s a lot of work!

We’re always finding new resources to help you on your journey to perfecting your digital resume, and we happened across this nifty infographic by the team at Colorado Technical University, which includes tips on creating a digital resume, as well as tips for sprucing up your traditional resume, for potential employers who still like the smell of top-linen paper. Enjoy.

[via: Colorado Technical University]

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we put out a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we post a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

More Job Search Resources From Mashable:

- 5 Clever Ways to Get a Job Using Social Media
- HOW TO: Land a Job at LinkedIn
- HOW TO: Set Up an Online Resume
- 9 Dynamic Digital Resumes That Stand Out From the Crowd
- Are Cover Letters Still Relevant For Social Media and Tech Jobs?

More About: careers, job search, job search series, jobs, resumes, trending, video resume

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40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 03:46 PM PDT

Whew! This week was awash with news. So, we transformed that news into advice, tips and how-to’s that you can reference for years to come.

Take Facebook’s video chat launch — we’ll guide you in setting it up. Or the space shuttle launch — we provide the Twitter accounts for dozens of astronauts and space experts. And Google+ has been on the minds of millions — we present its pros and cons. Mashable not only releases breaking news, we help you learn how to apply it to your business, your interests and your personal life.

If spare time for reading didn’t exactly factor into your busy week, here’s a roundup of resources that appeared on Mashable.

Editors’ Picks

Social Media

3 Cool Web Apps for Your Online Convenience

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 03:22 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.

Each weekend, Mashable handpicks a few startups we think are building interesting, unique or niche products.

Startups pop up every day, adding an extra layer of convenience to our online experiences. This weekend’s bunch is no different, each making common online functions more useful.

The online job seeker should see if his résumé passes the test with RezScore’s résumé grading application. The amateur photographer can graduate to professional status on the web and make a few sales with the help of Artflakes. And, the spontaneous daily deal buyer might want to offload some bad buys with the help of CouponTrade.

RezScore: Résumé Report Cards

Quick Pitch: RezScore is a free web app that reads, analyzes and grades résumés.

Genius Idea: Résumé report card.

Mashable’s Take: Our social media achievements may speak to our professional feats, but most hiring managers will still want to see an old-fashioned résumé during the job application promises. Thankfully, startup RezScore promises to grade your résumé before you hand over a flunking CV.

The site uses proprietary algorithms — based on the practices and preferences of résumé writers, hiring managers, HR directors and job search experts — to read through your résumé in seconds. It then returns a letter grade anywhere between an A+ and F-.

RezScore also offers tips for improving your resume, and you can connect with the site’s expert “evisors” for additional assistance.

Artflakes: Art That’s Accessible

Quick Pitch: Artflakes is a community marketplace for art prints, posters and cards.

Genius Idea: Accessible art from amateur photographers.

Mashable’s Take: Hobby photographers and artists have a friend in Artflakes, a printing service they can use to sell their photos and share their work with fans, without the hassle of managing payments and order fulfillment.

The site translates photographers’ shots into adorable pieces of art, ranks artists and photos by popularity and organizes works into collections for easy discovery. You can also upload your own photos to order prints in a variety of styles.

Artflakes sells art prints, poster prints, canvas prints, gallery prints and greeting cards for each of the images available, but we also get a kick out of the startup’s Instagram and Picplz sticker books.

The Berlin-based startup launched in November 2010 and now has more than 300,000 works by 20,000 photographers and artists. It’s backed by the IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft Fund.

CouponTrade: Couriers on Demand

Quick Pitch: CouponTrade is an online marketplace for buying and selling daily deals and gift cards.

Genius Idea: Dump those daily deals you don’t want.

Mashable’s Take: In the buy-now-or-forever-pay-full-price world of the daily deal, buyer’s remorse is bound to be a common occurrence. CouponTrade to the rescue. Here you can sell your unused daily deals and gift cards, or shop around for discarded gems from other users.

In the near future, the seed-funded CouponTrade will also barter in digital coupons and coupon codes. Plus, the startup is promising to add a deal organizer with a map-based view.

CouponTrade’s premise is far from new, but the secondary market for daily deals is here to stay.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pixdeluxe

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: Artflakes, bizspark, CouponTrade, daily deals, RezScore, social media, spark-of-genius, Startup Weekend Roundup

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Is Asked About Google+ [COMIC]

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 02:47 PM PDT

What would Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg say if you asked him a question about his new arch competitor, Google+?

Well, you can ask Mashable‘s own ace editor-at-large Ben Parr, who asked the Facebook CEO two questions about Google+ at a press conference this week.

Or you could see another approach taken by a reporter in this comic from The Joy of Tech, poking fun at Zuckerburg’s presence on the Google+ service. Do we detect a subtle hat tip toward our own inquisitive newshound?

Comic courtesy Geek Culture, used with permission

More About: comics, facebook, Google, Google Plus, trending, Zuckerberg

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Navigate Pitchfork Music Festival With an iPhone App

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 01:45 PM PDT

Lovely, image-based scheduling app Diacarta has partnered with Pitchfork Media to create the first-ever iPhone app for the annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

“The festival grounds aren’t overly complicated and are simple to navigate,” says Pitchfork President Christopher J. Kaskie, explaining why the fest didn’t previously have its own app. “The [Chicago] Reader was a fine way to have our schedule laid out, but it was on newspaper, back pockets get hot, and it was a little big. This will make things much easier in 2011.”

Now music festivals are offering scheduling apps to make planning what gigs to see more palatable. SXSW had Festival Explorer Austin Edition, and Lollapalooza held a hackathon to crowdsource its ideal app.

Pitchfork turned to Diacarta, whose aesthetic seems in line with the music fest’s indie feel. Diacarta’s graphics recall those whimsy-soaked gig poster booths at Pitchfork.

The app is extremely easy to use: Click on schedule and scroll through the acts playing on each of the three days of the fest. Click on a band for more info and tap the “Plus” sign to add a show to your calendar. Your calendar comes in the form of three clocks — one for each day — with the bands situated around the face at the time they perform. You can also share your schedule or an individual band via Facebook or Twitter, and check out a map of Union Park, where the fest takes place.

Although the Pitchfork 2011 app [iTunes link] is lovely, it lacks some features that would have made it a more complete package — like the option to listen to tracks by bands at the festival. Push notification reminders would have been a handy addition as well.

Still, as Kaskie says, this is a relatively small music festival. There are three stages, and if you stand in the middle of the arena, you can basically turn around to see who’s playing. So perhaps a fancy app isn’t really in order.

What do you think of the new Pitchfork 2011 app? Have you used apps to help navigate music festivals?

More About: iphone, Mobile 2.0, music, pitchfork, pitchfork-festival-2011

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Facebook Scam Pretends to Connect You With Video Calling [WARNING]

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 12:55 PM PDT

Facebook and Skype teamed up to bring you video calling, but at the same time, scammers are teaming up to trick you into spamming all your Facebook friends, using the lure of the new video calling feature. Here’s how to sidestep that scam.

There’s a legitimate way to sign up for Facebook Video Calling, where you’re asked to download a program from the official Facebook Video Calling page, and then the chat window asks you to configure a few Flash settings.

That looks like the graphic below. While the service is working for some lucky users, as you can see, when I tried it a few minutes ago, it wasn’t working yet for me, notifying me that “video calling will be available soon, please check back later.”

However, the scam comes to you in the form of a wall post, enticing you to “Enable video calls.” Don’t click that link, advises Naked Security, which supplied the graphic below:

If you do click on that bogus message, it asks for access to your basic information, wants to post to your wall, to access your posts in your newsfeed and access your data at any time.

What does it do then? It doesn’t let you video chat at all, but simply tries to get you to fill out surveys so its evil creators can collect referral fees. Worse, it exposes your friends to the same trick.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s Announcements | Facebook Video Chat | Facebook Skype Chat Video | Facebook Group Chat

Don’t click those fake links. If you want the actual Facebook Video Calling, it’s available now for some users but not others, and you haven’t already been granted access, you will be soon.

Image courtesy Naked Security

More About: Facebook Video Calling, scams, spam, video chat, warning

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5 Things the Skype Deal Teaches Us About Facebook

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 12:51 PM PDT

At one point during Facebook’s “something awesome” event on Wednesday, more than 60,000 people were simultaneously tuned online to an unassuming meeting room at the company’s headquarters to watch Mark Zuckerberg and cohorts unveil a slew of new features for the social-networking site.

While that might not be quite on the level of a Steve Jobs keynote, it’s impressive given the relative regularity of Facebook product launches and the lack of suspense surrounding the day’s announcements (we’ve known Skype video chat was coming for nearly a week).

The ever-growing ubiquity of Facebook was certainly a focal point of Zuckerberg’s remarks. He confirmed the company now has more than 750 million active users and shared a personal anecdote about an elderly neighbor conversing with him on Wednesday morning about the event and his desire for video chat.

Certainly, a sense that Facebook has “won” the social network battle seemed to permeate, with Zuckerberg saying that the era of connecting people — forming the underlying social graph that makes Facebook work — “is more or less done at this point.”

It’s with that backdrop that we learned — or at least confirmed — several things about Facebook and where it currently sees itself in the technology world.

More About: facebook, Skype

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What’s In a Name: Google+ Is Your Plus One

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 11:33 AM PDT

Google+, the long-awaited and highly ambitious Circle-driven social network from Google, has a clumsy name. It’s a search-unfriendly and seemingly unfitting moniker for the world's next great social network. So, why this bizarre name choice?

At launch, Google+ project co-leader Bradley Horowitz told AllThingsD that the name denotes how the product will make every other Google product social. “It's almost the smallest modifier on Google itself that you can imagine,” he said.

That small modifier carries one huge meaning. It’s not just Google any longer, it’s Google plus you, where Google becomes your plus one for the web.

A Plus One for Every Web Occasion

The plus one metaphor is an important one. Google+ follows you around the web and on mobile via an omnipresent and inescapable bar that includes a share box and notifications drop-down.

Now, Google+ is your plus one on most Google products: Search, Images, Videos, Maps, News, Gmail, Documents, Calendar, Finance and so forth. As Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook put it, “users won't have the option of not using Google Plus.”

And, if you think about it, the plus one analogy fits. A plus one in the offline world is a companion or a crutch for a social setting that would otherwise be awkward to attend alone. You probably wouldn’t go to a wedding, movie, dinner party, work function or couple-centric social gathering without a plus one.

As the digital world bleeds into the physical world and personal relationships migrate to the web, the never-go-without-a-plus-one philosophy is carrying over here as well.

Right now, we see it manifested in Facebook’s social graph and the relationships we bring with us when we login with Facebook on a website or app.

But many of us have grown weary of Facebook as our de facto plus one. Facebook, as a plus one, is a little too needy (with our information), a little too demanding (of our time), and it has lost the ability to really please us (with its never-ending stream) in the routine of each day.

For some of us, Facebook doesn’t make us feel special anymore. And so we get (and ignore) the barrage of messages, updates and friend requests, and we tend to “phone it in” more often than not.

Our Facebook fatigue has given Google an opening. Now, there’s genuine widespread interest in this new suitor, as evidenced by the demand for Google+ invites.

The excitement of our new relationship will soon fade, however, and in its place, familiarity or contempt will seep in. But Google+ can keep the spark alive — not with more features, but with feeling.

A Web of Feeling

The press loves story lines involving angst or animus. Google, frustrated in its social ineptitude and lack of foresight, is now on the offensive, and aims to take down Facebook, Twitter or anyone else that stands in its way. You’ve also likely read that Google+ does work for regular folks, such as your mom and dad, or that maybe it doesn’t.

You’ve seen these headlines, and while they all poke around the truth, they miss the plot — Google is trying to understand and capture human relationships as they act on and influence the behaviors of those of us who are willing to put real faces to our online names.

If Google at its core is algorithmic search and information sorting, then the plus symbol denotes a new humanness reigning it all in. Pushing that thought forward, one could deduce that with Google+ you’ll get more of what you already expect from the search giant, albeit with extra layers of humanness and personal relationships baked inside.

“The internet is nothing but software fabric that connects the interactions of human beings,” Google’s senior vice president and Google+ project manager Vic Gundotra told Wired. “Every piece of software is going to be transformed by this primacy of people and this shift.”

This social network war you hear about, then, is not a war over the greatest feature set or the most impressive technology. It’s a war fought on the battleground of your heart. Feelings, not features, will win this war.

Google+, in its current state, evokes strong feelings in a few ways. Notifications draw you back. The Google+ bar nudges you to share what you’re consuming on the web with others, and new followers, comments and +1s double as serotonin injections leading to rapturous feel-good moments.

Not all these sensations will be experienced by early users, but when you have Jenna Wortham for the New York Times’ Gadgetwise blog writing effusively about Google+ Hangouts — “Last night a chartroom changed my life,” she said — you can see that Google’s feel-good mission is working.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement. Creating and managing Circles can be engaging, but when you reach a certain number of followers, the pleasure turns to pain. The reward could be great, however, if we could take a single Circle, as a filtered subset of our larger social graphs, with us to other online destinations.

Validation & the Promise of Plus One

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is right: Google+ is a validation of Facebook’s vision. But, the same could have been said about Facebook in its early days — it was a validation of MySpace’s mission. After all, Facebook took the social network model pioneered by others, tweaked it a smidgen and found a huge audience.

History continues to tell us that in the land of technology, first is not always best and biggest is but a temporary adjective.

Still, the promise of Google+ and its role as our sidekick for the web is only partially realized. The product travels with us, but does little to enhance the other Google products we use. As it stands, Google+ is merely another destination social network.

If Google wishes for the plus to leap off the web page and into our hearts, the euphoric feelings associated with Circles and Hangouts will need to be amplified. And Sparks, the topic content hubs within Google+, will need to embrace the new, social Google and mask the bland algorithmic Google-of-old.

What we need is a plus one that accompanies and comforts us, a plus one that ultimately enhances our every online experience — not just on Google products, but on the web at large. From the looks of its auspicious launch, Google+ is on its way to doing just that.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Swirlyarts, TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ and milos milosevic

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How Are People Really Using LinkedIn? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 10:27 AM PDT

Professional networking service LinkedIn blasted through the 100-million-user mark in March, making it even more powerful for finding a job, keeping up with colleagues and promoting your resume.

LinkedIn is growing so quickly, it’s adding a new member each second. As the size of its network grows, LinkedIn is steadily getting more useful. But how are people really using the fast-growing service? Researchers at Lab 42 asked 500 LinkedIn users that question and many more, and came up with a variety of answers in this infographic.

Among the fun facts they uncovered: We found it interesting the way top level executives use the service in vastly different ways from entry-level workers. Let us know in the comments how you like to use LinkedIn, or if you don’t use the service, why not?

Graphic courtesy Lab 42

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HOW TO: Promote Your Band With

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 09:08 AM PDT

Marketing your music can be a royal pain when it entails answering misspelled emails from your one true fan and tweeting about your upcoming tour. Well, imagine if you could raise awareness about your band just by playing music. Musicians of the world, allow me to introduce you to is a startup that’s already managed to accrue more buzz than that band you hate — you know, the one that stole your sound and is now going on tour while you’re stuck at home, reading things (like this) on the Internet. is basically akin to AOL chatrooms of old — with music. Right now, it’s invite-only (and U.S.-only), but if you have a friend on Facebook who’s already using it (you likely do), you’ll be able to get access. Around 300,000 people already have.

Once you have an account locked and loaded, you can start checking out DJ rooms (and creating them, but we’ll get to that later), where users take turns manning the decks and spinning songs via MediaNet or by uploading MP3s. Other users rate music as “awesome” or “lame,” which garners a DJ points and, consequently, access to cooler avatars.

Sound fun? It is. — and about as addictive as chocolate-covered, deep-fried crack cocaine. And while it’s totally OK to mess around with the service as a casual user, we think there’s a huge opportunity here for bands to promote their own music while having that aforementioned fun.

Here’s how.

Interact — Really Interact — With Your Fans

Yes, Facebook and Twitter make it extremely easy to talk to your fans, but there’s also a lag-time when it comes to answers. It’s not a true dialogue — you know, the kind you’re privy to when that one true fan corners you at the merch table. lets you have a real-time dialogue with fans, without having to deal with them IRL. Also, Turntable has yet to add any kind of messaging system, so users can only contact you when you’re in the same room — unless you provide said info in your profile. You log in via Facebook, but no one has access to your account.

The band Manchester Orchestra recently held court in their own Turntable room, and reaped the benefits of fan interaction. “We were able to have a steady dialogue with our fans without having to set up an elaborate Q&A format,” says lead singer Andy Hull. “Our entire band set up shop in my living room and ended up DJing for four hours. Hopefully it made our fans feel cool they could interact with us so easily.”

Although you’re aiming to connect with your own fans, we don’t suggest only streaming your own jams. Play songs that you like, and let fans jump on the decks as a way to open up an even more lively dialogue with your fanbase.

“We love playing records for other people, so this felt like the perfect opportunity to make our fans listen to ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ by the Notorious B.I.G.,” says Hull.

Get Feedback

That being said, is also a great place to get feedback on your new, or previously unreleased music. Diplo quite famously dropped into a room and started spinning some new Major Lazer tracks recently, and the audience’s reaction was quite mixed, to say the least. Some people were enjoying the show, according to a story by blogger Paul Miller, but a ton of users were booing him as well.

Still, it looks like Diplo is strong enough to take a hit now and then. Instead of fleeing from the forum, Diplo’s record label, Mad Decent, launched its own room, and started playing unreleased music from its artists for the digital masses.

“[On it] feels like we are in a proper club — except I can read what kids think,” Diplo told us. “In a club, it’s only noise. Funny that it gives kids a way to tell me how they feel about tracks.”

Have a Listening Party

Premiering a new album on a blog or website (or Facebook) is a great way to get the word out, but giving fans a peek at your new disc via is both engaging and viral.

Simply choose a time for your listening party, load up the decks with band members (and your friends and management, if your band is small) and queue up your new disc. (You’ll have to alternate your jams with music from other bands, though, because due to DMCA rules, Turntable cannot play more than three songs from one album or four songs from one artist in a three hour period.)

Fans can offer you instant feedback, and — this is the cool part — help their favorite songs go viral. You see, along with allowing users to buy tracks that they dig, also lets DJs add tracks to their own personal playlist.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” you might be thinking, “Doesn’t that mean that people will be stealing my jams?” While it might seem safer to premiere your album via a streamable embed (that doesn’t allow downloads), letting people add songs to their playlists is basically the same thing — with added sharing capabilities.

When someone adds a track to their playlist, they are not downloading it to their desktops. (Sure, someone will probably figure out how to rip your music from TT, but that’s nothing new, and they can do the same from a stream.) They can only listen to that song within Turntable, and can only listen to the full song when other DJs are in the room. So when they’re playing your song, they’re playing it for an audience — an audience who might not have previously been aware of your music, and would therefore not attend a listening party.

DJs from the original listening party henceforth become a kind of digital street team, turning other users onto your new album, and, quite possibly, convincing them to buy it (or steal it and see you in concert).

Drive More Traffic to Social Channels

Since you connect to via your Facebook account, whatever name you go by on Facebook will be your DJ name. Unless you’re a singer-songwriter, we suggest changing your name to that of your band, as well as including all your social networks in your profile.

To change your name, just go to “settings” while in a DJ room, and you’ll be able to change your display name, add your Twitter handle, Facebook and website. That way, people who might not be familiar with your music will be able to find — and “Like” and follow — you.

Alex Brown — a.k.a. Paper Diamond — has been spending a lot of time in Turntable of late, with fruitful results. “I could see a direct click over from people onto my Facebook and Twitter any time I would play a track,” he says. “Such a great response got me more and more interested in the site.”

Tips & Tricks

  • If you’re an unknown band, start building up your cache before you launch your own DJ room, amassing fans and points. When someone “fans” you, they are notified every time you start DJing. Make sure to get the most out of those notifications.
  • Connect with influencers. There’s a handy dashboard that will tell you who are currently the top users on Check out their rooms, see which ones fit your vibe, and wait patiently for a chance to DJ. Either that, or connect with them over one of their available social networks and explain your deal.

    Paper Diamond found his niche in a room hosted by DJ Wooooo, one of the most popular users. “Lots of my fans were already in the room,” he says. “It made it fun for me to be able to get up and DJ and play new songs or even unfinished songs for up to 200 people at any given time per day.”

  • When you enter a new room, get an idea of the vibe by pulling down the “Room Info” tab. It will give you a history of what tracks have been played, and how users have rated them.
  • When you upload your tracks, convert everything to MP3s. M4As — the format most songs from iTunes come in — will not upload to Neither will WAVs. To convert those to MP3s, go to iTunes/Preferences/General/Import Settings/ and switch to “import using MP3 encoder.” Highlight the track you want, and go to Advanced/Create MP3 version.
  • Try the Chrome Extension to keep better tabs on a room. The extension adds desktop notifications (when DJs leave or new people enter the room), suggested tracks, scrobbling, etc. (Thanks to Russ Marshalek from Flavorpill for this tip.)

Images courtesy of Flickr, pinguino, Arjen Toet, Ferrari + caballos + fuerza = cerebro Humano 

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Up to 25% of Accidents Are Associated With Gadgets

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 08:40 AM PDT

A new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the impact that cellphones and other gadgets can have on car crashes. According to the study, as many as 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by a cellphone or gadget.

Produced using a grant from State Farm, the GHSA report, titled Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do [PDF] looks at the main external driver distractions. Not surprisingly, talking on cellphones, fiddling with gadgets and texting while driving are some of the most common driver distractions.

After reading the 50-page document, it’s clear that this study contains as many certainties as uncertainties. As GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha says in a statement, “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

Still, one certainty is that cellphone usage increases the risk of crashing and texting is likely more dangerous than using a cellphone.

What is the Solution?

Understanding that drivers who text or talk on the phone are more likely to get into car crashes than those who don’t, what can be done to decrease these distractions?

Unfortunately, the GHSA study is inconclusive on the effects of both texting bans and public service announcement campaigns for distracted driving.

From the report:

  • Laws banning hand-held cellphone use reduced use by about half when they were first implemented. Hand-held cellphone use increased subsequently but the laws appear to have had some long-term effect.
  • A high-visibility cellphone and texting law enforcement campaign reduced cellphone use immediately after the campaign. Longer term effects are not yet known.
  • There is no evidence that cellphone or texting bans have reduced crashes.

Still, the GHSA encourages states to pass more bans of driving while texting and while talking on cellphones — hands-free or not.

How often do you find yourself engaged with an iPod, cellphone or an in-dash GPS while driving? Let us know.

[via Reuters]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jhorrocks

More About: car accidents, data, driving, GHSA, safety, stats, texting, texting while driving, trending

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Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 07:34 AM PDT

Twitter Chart Image

This week’s top Twitter trends remained fairly stable, with few viral surprises.

Soccer remains at the top of the heap as the Copa América competition kicks off in Argentina. The not-guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial had the Twitterverse abuzz, landing the topic at number two. And Justin Bieber remains on our chart at number three, though the discussion these days tends to be less about the Biebs himself, and more about what it means to be his fan.

You can check Twitter trends from the past in our Top Twitter Topics section.

Top Twitter Trends This Week: 6/31 – 7/5

There is no off-season for football players as this week the 2011 Copa América began in Argentina. It is the main international football tournament for national teams in South America and runs until July 24. The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup also continued and the quarterfinals will feature Australia, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States meeting in competition.
Casey Anthony Trial
Many users on Twitter were absorbed by the closing arguments in the murder case against Casey Anthony and later voiced their opinion online when she was pronounced not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
Justin Bieber
Beliebers are seemingly running out of real topics about Justin Bieber’s music as they trended “Justin Loves Curves” and #BeliebersAreWinning this week.
Phineas & Ferb
Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension is a movie coming out on August 5. It’s been trending for several weeks now.
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Avid fans of the Harry Potter series were excited by the world premiere of this film on July 7 at Trafalgar Square in London. It will be released to the public on Friday, July 15.
Lady Gaga
The perpetually busy Lady Gaga has a new worldwide tour coming and her “Little Monsters” were talking about possible dates and locations.
International Kissing Day
Users observed International Kissing Day (or World Kiss Day) on July 6 both off-line and on Twitter.
U.S. July 4th Holiday
U.S. tweeters celebrated the U.S. Independence Day on July 4 with fireworks, BBQ and hotdog eating contests.
This TV show made a surprising off-season appearance on Twitter with the announcement of cast changes (the departing Chord Overstreet) and because Chris Colfer and Darren Criss and Naya Rivera and Heather Morris kissed on stage during Glee Live Tour’s final show.
This two-week long tennis tournament climaxed as Petra Kvitova defeated Maria Sharapova for the Women’s Singles title and Novak Djokovic won over Rafael Nadal to be awarded the Men’s Singles title.

Data aggregate courtesy of What the Trend.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

More About: casey anthony, justin bieber, List, Lists, soccer, social media, Top Twitter Topics, twitter, Twitter Lists

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Google to Stabilize Video for Google Talk on Android

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 09:21 PM PDT

A common problem with video chatting using tablets is shaky video. Now Google has selected SRI International to embed its video stabilization software inside the Google Talk app in Android 3.0 devices, promising to smooth out those jittery video transmissions from front-facing cameras on Android smartphones and tablets.

The Menlo Park-based nonprofit SRI International, formerly associated with Stanford University and responsible for the invention of the computer mouse in 1964, has been working on this stabilization software since the early 1990s. Now, Android tablets are fast enough to allow the software to perform its magic in real time.

The software works by identifying the user’s face, stabilizing that video before it’s compressed for transmission. There’s an added benefit to that steady shot — the video is easier to compress because there’s less movement involved, making the picture look sharper with less video noise.

So far, this video stabilization is only available for Google Talk with Android 3.0 installed. There are stabilization apps for the iPhone and iPad (such as SteadyCam Pro, which we favorably reviewed), but they don’t yet work in real time, a necessity for live chatting.

[via Ubergizmo]

Graphic courtesy SRI International

More About: android 3.0, chat, Google, google talk, software, SRI, trending, Video Stabilization

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App Helps Make Plans You Never Thought About

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 08:13 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: Picksie

Quick Pitch: Picksie is a location-based discovery platform for iPhone and iPad that shows you what’s going on around you now.

Genius Idea: Introducing places and activities before you search for them.

For a simple question, “What do you want to do?” quite often stumps a lot of people.

One reason, says Ajay Mohan, the CEO of Picksie parent company Ishi Systems, is that sites such as Yelp with their catalogs of entertainment establishments and event calendars have a gaping flaw when it comes to browsing.

“Basically you have to know what you want, which limits you,” he says.

Picksie, which launched in New York on June 15, aims to instead introduce you to relevant businesses near you before you search for them. It filters choices by preferences that you indicated at sign up, the time of day at which you are searching, and the weather.

It will not, for instance, suggest that you go to dinner at a restaurant that’s only open for breakfast and lunch. Nor will it, theoretically, send you to the botanical garden when thunderstorms are in the forecast.

To create reliable recommendations, Picksie incorporates databases such as Zagat’s and Fandango’s. It also includes concerts and festivals from online calendars. Users can “train” the app by giving its recommendations the thumbs up or thumbs down, and lets them leave short, Foursquare-tip-style reviews for other users.

Apps such as Zagat and Yelp already help map nearby venues, Fandango tells you what movies are playing near you and the Songkick and Eventful apps will tell you where to find concerts near you. Picksie’s main advantage is that it puts these location-based data points in one place. Eventually its makers hope to use this advantage to develop a hyperlocal-marketing platform.

At this point, however, the recommendations are dominated by restaurants, bars and movie theaters. These categories are already on most people’s go-to activity lists. The app would be a better discovery tool if it pinned down a wider variety of one-time events, like a specific drink deal at a bar or live music at a restaurant.

Improve that, and it could be an extremely handy tool on anyone’s phone.

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.

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A Science Comedian’s Life-Long Love Affair With Space [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 07:10 PM PDT

The final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle program has a lot of people looking back with wistful memories of space exploration. Watch Brian Malow, who refers to himself as a “science comedian,” recount his “lifelong relationship with space” in this poignant video essay, explaining why he thinks we go into space and why we should continue.

Along the way, he tells us about his own profound transformation while on a trip to see the space shuttle‘s launch, asking his girlfriend to become his wife. Touching stuff.

On a personal note, I’ve also had a life-long relationship with space. I remember watching the launch of the first U.S. man into space on TV, when Alan Shepard climbed aboard a Mercury/Redstone spacecraft on May 5, 1961. Even at the tender age of four, I could tell something monumental was happening.

I watched in disbelief as a TV showed live video of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Years later, I watched the space shuttle lift off from NASA’s press area, and stood awestruck as Challenger thundered into the sky right in front of me, on its first night launch in 1983.

To me, this last shuttle mission doesn’t feel like an ending, but a beginning of even more exploration into space. As Malow quotes Carl Sagan, we are “star stuff,” and it’s going to be difficult to keep us from continuing our exploration of the cosmos. Hopefully, the next vehicles will be more useful to scientists than the space shuttle was, and more accessible to all.

Did you grow up with the space program? Did it affect you as profoundly as it did Malow?

[, via Time Video]

More About: Atlantis, Brian Malow, NASA, shuttle, shuttle launch, space exploration, space program, video

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TSA Agent Stuffs iPad Down Pants, Steals $50K in Electronics

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 06:06 PM PDT

Someone should have given this TSA agent a good, old-fashioned pat-down.

30-year-old Nelson Santiago-Serrano, a former Transportation Security Administration worker at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, has been charged with two counts of grand theft. The Broward Sheriff’s Office accuse Santiago of stealing more than $50,000 worth of electronics from passenger luggage over the past six months.

How was he finally caught, you might be wondering? Apparently a Continental Airlines employee caught him in the act of extracting an Apple iPad from a passenger’s luggage and stuffing it down his pants. Somehow the former TSA agent thought that nobody would notice that he had a 9.5-inch tablet stuck in his trousers.

Broward detectives say that Santiago would immediately take a photo of his stolen electronics and put them up for sale online, even before his shift ended. The devices include computers, GPS devices, cameras and, of course, trouser-sized iPads.

This isn’t the first time a TSA agent has been caught stealing from passenger luggage, so we suggest locking your bags and checking your inventory throughout your trip. More importantly, be on the lookout for TSA agents that resemble Spongebob Squarepants if you suddenly can’t find your iPad.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Apple

More About: crime, ipad, trending, tsa

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