Saturday, 16 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Android App Displays Brain Waves Via Wireless Headband [VIDEO]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Android App Displays Brain Waves Via Wireless Headband [VIDEO]”

Android App Displays Brain Waves Via Wireless Headband [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 10:35 PM PDT

Here’s an experimental app that can measure your brain waves. This wireless device embraces the head, clips onto an earlobe, and measures neural activity and pulse. The results are sent to an gaming app installed on an Android smartphone, which displays graphs and info about the state of the brain during a 30-second test.

This reminds us of the XWave device we reviewed last winter. That $100 headband wasn’t wireless, but plugged into an iPhone’s earphone jack. As it communicated with an iPhone app, the more cerebral members of our group were able to document their state of nirvana for all to see.

While that device was pretty much a parlor game, this conceptual device, designed by KDDI R&D Laboratories, looks to be more sophisticated. According to Japan Trends, the device was introduced this week at the International Modern Hospital Show in Tokyo, and is more of a biofeedback system, appearing to take portable brainwave measurement to the next level.

The signal from its headband is received on an Android smartphone, where the test subject plays one of three different games for 30 seconds. Then, the app displays a chart that graphs concentration and meditation, otherwise known as “focused state” and “relaxed state.” The app also works without a game, where the test subject thinks about various emotional topics for 30 seconds, and then measures the result.

The device is not available for sale yet. So far, it’s in the concept and research stage. Could this be the precursor to portable lie detectors? Perhaps it could be used for market research, measuring people’s reactions to various advertisements or products. Maybe it could be used to gauge the interest level of a tech article on the web.

Still, we’re skeptical. Let us know in the comments if you think this is a useful brain research tool, or just another parlor game.

Graphic courtesy KDDI R&D Laboratories

More About: android, apps, brain waves, research, smartphone

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This Week in Politics & Digital: Cyber Security in The Spotlight

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 10:06 PM PDT

security image

The U.S. Department of Defense relies on an enormous system of networks, with 7 million computing devices and 15,000 networks in dozens of countries. These networks support the U.S.’s military, intelligence and business operations.

The security of those systems was a major issue this week, and we delve into it in today’s roundup of political news with a digital twist.

Department of Defense Creates Policy on Cyber Crime

lynn image

Cybercrime is on the rise. In recent months, hacking groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec have hacked or stolen information from high-level companies including Sony, PBS, the CIA, Bank of America and Viacom, to name a few. The U.S. government has been under pressure to come up with an effective way of dealing with cyberattacks, especially when the target is national security.

This week William Lynn, deputy secretary of defense, announced a comprehensive program called Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security. The program will share classified information with defense contractors and commercial Internet service providers.

“Our assessment is that cyberattacks will be a significant component of any future conflict, whether it involves major nations, rogue states or terrorist groups,” Lynn said during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., according to a CNET report.

The Pentagon also recently announced that cyberattacks may qualify as acts of war.

Pentagon Hit With Cyberattack

The Department of Defense was the victim of a cyberattack in March when 24,000 files were stolen, a Pentagon official said this week. The nature of those files and the perpetrator of the hack were not shared publicly.

A report from the Department of Defense said that other nations, intelligence organizations and non-state actors are working to exploit and disrupt the Department of Defense's unclassified and classified networks.

Image courtesy of Flickr, cabbit, Security and Defence Agenda

More About: cyber crime, cyber security, cyberattack, Department of Defense, department of homeland security, hack, hacker, hacking, Pentagon, politics, social media, week in digital politics

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The Rise of Mobile In-App Ads [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:08 PM PDT

If mobile apps are all the rage, then mobile in-app ads are causing rage.

In one recent example, the popular franchise Angry Birds saw in-app ads added to its HD version, and fans and players were in an uproar over the change.

But like them or not, mobile marketers are turning more attention toward in-app advertising. Right now, in-app ads account for around 5% of mobile ad spending, and that number is only expected to rise over the next few years.

One of the reasons in-app ads are taking off is their effectiveness. In spite of the fact that the majority of 18-34-year-olds actively dislike mobile in-app ads, the majority will also be able to recall those ads at a higher rate than the ads they see while browsing the mobile web.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Better Advertising in Mobile Apps

And for app makers, the ads are a good bet, too. After all, Angry Birds publisher Rovio says that by the end of 2011, it’ll be making $1 million each month from in-app ads on the Android platform alone.

While we’re hoping to see better in-app ads as the ecosystem becomes more sophisticated, it’s interesting to monitor in-app ads in today’s relatively nascent state.

Click to see larger image.

Top image courtesy of iStockphoto, DougSchneiderPhoto

More About: advertising, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0

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Discovered a New Band? Find Out Which Songs To Check Out First With GoRankem

Posted: 15 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: GoRankem

Quick Pitch: GoRankem is a crowdsourced ratings site that helps users discover new music, complete with suggestions for which songs to listen to first.

Genius Idea: A cheat sheet for music discovery.

When checking out a new band, the first album that you listen to can have a huge effect on your opinions from there on out. You might stumble upon a musician’s best song first, allowing you to forgive any artistic oversights said musician may later fall prey to. Or, you know, you might be the victim of that Western movie-themed solo album that the bassist decided to bust out in the off-season.

GoRankem aims to help music lovers wade through the morass of tunes out there, so as to get right to the good stuff (according to fans, at least) at the get-go.

“The inspiration dates back to my high school days when I was trying to embrace a band like Widespread Panic — loved what I was hearing, but their monster catalog was just too damn overwhelming,” says founder Adam Wexler. “All I wanted was a cheat sheet so I could figure out which songs to check out in the ideal order.”

To cure this ill, Wexler launched GoRankem at Digital Music Forum East in New York City. Wexler has basically bootstrapped the project, raising a chunk of cash via Kickstarter. He has yet to try to monetize the site.

Still, we can see Wexler capitalizing on some kind of affiliate program, garnering money for albums and songs sold through the site, because GoRankem is actually pretty useful. Create an account, and start clicking around. Search for a specific artist (via its 500,000-artist catalogue courtesy of MusicBrainz) and you’ll be presented with a list of their songs (which you can order by song, album or year) that you can drag and drop in order of quality. You can rank between five and 20 songs per artist.

After rating, you give yourself a “fanstanding” — or a ranking of how big a fan you are — between one and 10. The average fanstanding of raters of a band is supposed to indicate the accuracy of the rating (although we don’t know why a “one” would bother ordering songs). You can then share your rankings via Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, there’s all kinds of game-playing aspects involved: People can “rec” your profile if they think you have good taste, and you get badges for sharing, etc. However, all those aspects seem kind of arbitrary. The simple, cool root here is that one can get crowdsourced recommendations based on specific songs. Yes, you may not agree with the verdict, but if you’re, say, a new Pulp fan and you’re looking at a giant discography, it’s good to get some guidance on where to start.

How do you find new music? Would you take the word of the crowdsourced masses?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Julia Folsom

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: gorankem, music, startup

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HOW TO: Add Mashable Staff to Your Circles on Google+

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:26 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.

Ever since its launch on June 28, the tech community has been rushing to join Google+ — and Mashable staffers are no exception.

We’re learning how to use the newest social network right along with you, and we would love to interact with you there. We’ll be posting Mashable stories, tidbits about what we’re working on and asking for feedback about the platform.

Here’s a list of individual Mashable employees using Google+ that you can add to your circles. You can also follow Mashable News. We look forward to engaging with you there!

+Ada Ospina – NYC Office Manager

+Adam Hirsch – COO

+Adam Ostrow – Editor in Chief

+Amy-Mae Elliott – Features Writer

+Andrew Reedman – U.S. Director of Sales

+Ben Parr – Editor at Large

+Brenna Ehrlich – Associate Editor of Media & Entertainment

+Brian Anthony Hernandez – Copy Editor

+Brian Dresher Director of Business Development

+Brie Manakul – Ad Ops Manager

+Charlie White – Senior Editor

+Chelsea Stark – Community Intern

+Christina Warren – Mobile and Development & Design Reporter

+Connie Preti – Community Intern

+Emily Banks – Assistant News Editor

+Erica Swallow – Partner Content Associate Editor

+Frederick Townes – CTO

+Jennifer Van Grove – Startups Reporter

+Josh Catone – Features Editor

+Karen Hartline – Events Director

+Kate Hayden – Events Assistant

+Lauren Drell – Partner Content Assistant Editor

+Lauren Indvik – Marketing & Media Associate Editor

+Louis Dorman – Art Director

+Matt Silverman – Associate Features Editor

+Meghan Peters – Community Manager

+Pete Cashmore – Founder and CEO

+Robyn Peterson – Senior VP of Product

+Sana Ahmed – Executive Assistant

+Sarah Kessler – Startups Reporter

+Sharon Feder – Publisher

+Stacy Green – Communications Director

+Stefanie Rennert – HR Manager

+Stephanie Buck - Editorial Intern

+Stephanie Haberman – Community Assistant

+Tamar Weinberg – Community and Global Advertising

+Tanya Salah – West Coast Sales Director

+Todd Olmstead – Community Intern

+Todd Wasserman – Business and Marketing Editor

+Zachary Sniderman – Social Good Assistant Editor

+Zoe Fox – Social Good Intern

More About: Google, Google Circles, staff

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Jerry Seinfeld Joins Twitter

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 05:25 PM PDT

Jerry Seinfeld is now a member of the Twitterati, sending his first two tweets out this Friday.

The famous comedian and actor has chosen @SeinTime as his new Twitter handle. His first tweet reads, “Greetings Tweetarians! I have just landed on your Planet. This could be my last Tweet.” He followed that up with, “Second Tweet! Am I done yet?”

While the account has not officially been verified by Twitter yet, The New York Times
confirmed with one of Seinfeld’s representatives that @SeinTime is the real deal.

"It's really Jerry. The day we've all been waiting for," the rep told NYT.

Seinfeld apparently changed his mind about Twitter in recent weeks. In May, he stated that tweeting didn’t interest him. Perhaps his wife, @JessSeinfeld, helped change his mind.

Since joining, Seinfeld has amassed more than 25,000 followers, and that number is quickly growing. He joins a list of other famous comedians to embrace the service, including Conan O’Brien, who has turned himself into the master of the 140-character punchline.

More About: jerry seinfeld, Seinfeld, twitter

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Can Web Video Views Predict Box Office Magic for Harry Potter?

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 04:16 PM PDT

Matt Fiorentino is the director of marketing for Visible Measures. Previously, Matt was a freelance journalist for the Associated Press, The Dayton Daily News, and The American Magazine. He lives with his wife in Newton, Massachusetts.

With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hitting theaters this Friday, this weekend marks the end of a magical era.

Part 2 is the last in the storied series, which has brought in more than $6.4 billion worldwide to date, according to Variety, making it the highest-grossing franchise in history. Suffice to say, box office expectations are high. Now, as we look to the weekend, the question is: Will Harry work his magic once again? We turn to online video for the answer.

SEE ALSO: Harry Potter and the Social Media Surge

In online video, audiences can choose to watch whatever they want, whenever and however they like. In anticipation of a film, audiences will choose to watch multiple trailers, behind-the-scenes clips, interviews with the actors, and more. This provides us with a good indication of how the film will perform at the box office.

Those types of online videos based on past Potter movies have fared very well. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince generated more than 70 million views when it was released in 2009 while The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 generated more than 85 million last year. By comparison, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has conjured up fewer than 50 million total views.

Does this mean that Part 2 is doomed at the box office? Let’s take a closer look. The Deathly Hallows is unique in the Potter series because it’s the only book that was divided into two films. Trailers for Part 1 generated significant interest when they first surfaced. Part 2 is, obviously, a continuation of Part 1, which may have affected viewership as trailers began rolling out. This unique dynamic between the films gave Part 1 a head start on Part 2, and, because of this, likely captured the majority of views for the pair of films. At two months prior to its release, Part 1 had already generated more than 50 million views. Part 2 had 14 million views at the same point in its release cycle.

Things seem to have changed in the final month before release, though, when promotions really kick in and audiences begin searching for what’s hitting theaters in earnest. Here, Part 2 is looking to be equal to the sequel. The Half-Blood Prince scored 10.9 million views in its final month of promotion before going on to make $77 million its opening weekend. The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 grabbed 22.2 million views before taking home $125 million. Part 2 has seen 20.3 million views in its last month leading up to release.

What does this mean for Part 2‘s opening weekend box office? Part 2 has already made more than $32 million in domestic advanced ticket sales, the most for any film in history, according to Variety. A midnight showing early Friday took in $43.5 million at the midnight box office in North America — the biggest midnight opening of all time. Variety also reports that Part 2 will play at 4,375 locations, making it the franchise’s widest launch. The film will release in IMAX theaters and be available in 3D, both tickets coming at a premium.

The combination of high views, pricey tickets for 3D and IMAX showings and a massive number of locations bode well for Harry’s final bow at the box office. Chances are, it will top its predecessor and surpass $125 million this weekend, a solid closing act for a franchise that has adapted well to the social media age.

More About: harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2, Movies, video, visible measures, web video, youtube

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LinkedIn Revamps Profiles for Students

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 03:18 PM PDT

Entering the working world with a degree and a smile can be a daunting task for many a student, which is why LinkedIn has added new profile sections specifically targeted toward students.

Now, future interns can add a variety of accomplishments to their profile, letting prospective employers know that they have more experience and expertise than “worked as a historical re-enactor.”

New profile sections include: projects, honors and awards, organizations, test scores and courses. Students can add these sections by going to their profiles in edit mode and clicking the “add sections” bar.

Just remember to update your profile a couple of years down the line, kids. No one needs to know you aced that Human Sexuality final when you’re out in what John Mayer calls “the real world.”

More About: linkedin, students

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Netflix Heading to Europe in 2012 [REPORT]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 03:02 PM PDT

Even as Netflix faces a sustained backlash from customers over recent changes to its subscription pricing plan, the company is preparing to launch its service in Europe.

According to Variety, Netflix is planning on expanding to Spain and the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2012. This is in addition to the company’s plans to expand into Latin America and the Caribbean.

Variety speculates that the cost international expansion could be one reason for Netflix’s decision to separate its DVD rental and streaming services into different subscriptions. We’re not so sure. It’s true that more customers in more countries will increase Netflix’s content licensing and acquisition costs, as separate deals will need to be worked out in each market. But it also means a larger customer base, for which it would make sense to keep prices low.

Instead, we see international expansion, a move that would be focused solely on streaming content rather not disc rentals, as another sign that Netflix is ready to get out of the disc-by-mail business. As the cost of obtaining and licensing streaming content continues to rise, Netflix needs to look at what costs it can cut. The fixed costs for mailers, warehouses, distribution centers and physical disc purchases are ripe for trimming.

In Europe, Netflix will face significant competition — from Amazon-owned Lovefilm in the UK, and services like the Playstation3-based Mubi across the continent. Still, it’s a market with huge opportunities, not just for Netflix, but for content creators and studios.

More About: DVD rental, europe, netflix, Spain, streaming, uk, video

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Carmageddon Approaches: Here’s What It Will Look Like [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 02:24 PM PDT

Carmageddon: It’s a wonderful neologism that Los Angeles residents have coined to describe this weekend’s planned closure of the 405 Freeway, a road that carries more than 280,000 cars per day across L.A. The city plans to close a 10-mile section of Interstate 405, starting at 7 p.m. Friday and reopening at 6 a.m. Monday.

Although Carmageddon promises to be a kind of hell on earth for motorists who are trying to get somewhere in LA, this video from director Ross Ching paints a more serene picture of what the highways of Los Angeles will look like without cars.

Obviously, Ching didn’t block the highway or travel forward in time. Instead he employed all kind of CGI wizardry to nix the cars (you can read about the process on his website).

The result reminds us of Idiot With A Tripod, an homage to Dziga Vertov's 1929 Man With a Movie Camera that filmmaker Jamie Stuart made during one of New York’s many blizzards this past winter. In this case, the homage is to apocalyptic movies like 28 Days Later.

[via Gizmodo]

More About: Carmageddon, Los Angeles, video

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These Kittens Are Probably Better DJs Than You [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 01:57 PM PDT

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

It’s Friday, and thank the various gods that a kitten video has cut through the gloom of the work week to bring us both music and joy. Who needs Spotify when you have cats who can DJ?

These kitten DJs (who are apparently shilling for cat food) will refuse all of your requests. They will laugh in the face of lazy laptop jockeys. They will steal your black, black heart.

More About: cats, music, spotify, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Apple iOS 4.3.4 Update Available, Prevents Hacking & Jailbreaking

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 01:29 PM PDT

Apple has released a software update for its iOS devices, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad and generation 3 and 4 of iPod Touch. Available now, it’ll bring your device to version 4.3.4.

The free update fixes a vulnerability in the way PDF files handle fonts, where a malicious PDF file could sneak malware into your iOS device, giving hackers access to your hardware. However, that same vulnerability allows easy jailbreaking of iOS 4.3.3 with the web-based JailBreakMe 3.0, which frees users from the tight restrictions Apple places on its iOS software. Apple certainly wanted to stop that as quickly as possible.

I downloaded the update, and because of Apple’s cumbersome process requiring users to download the entire operating system file rather than an incremental update (which will be fixed in iOS 5), the upgrade took a seemingly interminable 25 minutes from start to finish on my two-year-old Windows laptop:

It won’t take you quite that long if you regularly backup your iPhone. After the download, there were no noticeable changes in the operating system, but it’s nice to know the iPhone is no longer subject to the whims of some hacker’s nasty PDF file. Update your device now by plugging it into iTunes.

More About: iOS 4.3.4, iphone, jailbreaking, JailBreakMe 3.0, pdf, trending, Update, upgrade, vulnerability

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Spin With Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld in Mashable’s Room

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 12:30 PM PDT

Hey, you, stop drooling on your desk. We know that it’s Friday, and you’re zombified, but Mashable‘s got the remedy in the form of tunes. Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld is spinning in our room and we’re fixing to chair dance.

Last week, Mashable teamed up with the MuseBox to host musician Gavin Friday in our joint Summer Fridays room. Friday spun some awesome tunes, and we even had English author (and Turntable addict) Neil Gaiman drop in. The place was busting at its digital seams.

Today, Coates will be hitting the decks between promoting his new album The Last Werewolf (appropriately, it’s supposed to be a full moon tonight). The disc is the soundtrack to a book by the same name, written by Glen Duncan.

All the action starts here at 4 p.m. ET, so start queuing up those tracks!

More About: musebox, music, Stephen Coates, The Real Tuesday Weld,

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Yelp Hits 20 Million Reviews [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 11:51 AM PDT

User review and search service Yelp is keeping up its brisk growth, and to celebrate that its 20 million reviews, the company created this infographic showing a heat map of all user submissions across the United States.

Even though Groupon, LivingSocial and Google are making great strides in the local space, they’re not really in the reviews business — which still allows Yelp to enjoy explosive growth.

The company said it had reached 15 million reviews at the end of 2010. This year, as of July 11, it’s sporting a total of 20 million reviews with 53 million unique visitors per month. That puts the company on track to beat its estimated number of 24 million reviews in 2011.

As its review inventory grows to gargantuan proportions, it only makes the site even more powerful.

And look at that — Shake Shack, one of our favorite haunts that’s right around the corner from our New York headquarters, was the most-reviewed burger joint with 2201 reviews.

(Click graphic for enlargement)

More About: infographic, user review, yelp, Yelpers

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Rupert Murdoch Apologizes for Phone Hacking, Rebekah Brooks Quits

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 11:27 AM PDT

Murdock Apologizes

The newspaper is dead, but the outrage and backpedaling continues. With no end in sight to the News of the World phone hacking scandal, News International chairman Rupert Murdoch Friday visited the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered girl whose voicemail his reporters illegally accessed, to apologize in person.

Murdoch also prepared a full-page apology to run in UK newspapers this Saturday and accepted the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, the embattled former editor of the News of the World and CEO of News International.

“We are sorry,” reads the ad, which is signed by Murdoch alone. “The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.” A twitpic of the ad, taken by a producer at Murdoch’s British satellite channel Sky News, was quickly splashed across the Internet. Until this week, Murdoch was bidding for full ownership of the satellite system that Sky News is broadcast on, BSkyB.

Leaving aside the ad’s unfortunate use of the royal “we,” it seems doubtful whether any of these apologies — and even Brooks’s scalp — can stem the tide of the phone hacking scandal. Murdoch and his son, James, still have to testify before Parliament Tuesday. Opposition leaders smell blood in the water. Prime Minister David Cameron, still smarting from the arrest of his former communications chief Andy Coulson, another ex-NOTW editor, is looking to do all he can to distance himself from Murdoch.

And the London Metropolitan Police investigation into the phone hacking has claimed its ninth arrest — a former NOTW executive editor who until recently was employed by police as a PR consultant. With such a tangled web of police and newspaper corruption, the arrests and the investigation aren’t likely to slow any time soon.

Even Murdoch’s ad seems to recognize he’s mired in this scandal for some time to come. “I realize that simply apologizing is not enough,” it reads. “In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.”

More About: Murdoch, News of the world, newspapers, rupert murdoch, scandal

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Sets Midnight Box Office Record

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 11:13 AM PDT

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 took in $43.5 million at the midnight box office in North America — the biggest midnight opening of all time. Potter earned almost 50% more than previous midnight champion, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which earned $30 million from midnight shows when it was released in June 2010.

The Harry Potter franchise is estimated to be the most profitable film franchise ever. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the eighth and final film has already grossed more than $100 million at the worldwide box office. If momentum keeps rising, this may be the biggest worldwide opening of all time.

The film’s big North America opening early Friday morning can be attributed in part to the 3,800 theaters that had midnight screenings. During the day Friday, the total number of theaters will jump to 4,300, with 3,000 of those houses showing the film in 3D. Warner Bros. tells The Hollywood Reporter that all of its 3D midnight showings are sold out, indicating that 3D could be a big ticket driver for Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Warner Bros. really embraced digital media and social networks when promoting the film. It appears to have paid off. At the time of this writing, seven of the 10 trending topics on Twitter in New York City were related to Harry Potter. Earlier Friday that figure was as high as nine out of 10 trending topics.

Have you seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2? What do you think of the film and its social media impact? Let us know in the comments.

More About: box office, Film, harry potter, harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2, Movies

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Tim Pawlenty: Social Media “Breaks the Stronghold” of Mainstream Media

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 10:55 AM PDT

Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota and aspiring GOP presidential candidate, says he’s embracing social media as a way to “break the stronghold” of the mainstream media.

“The old way was the semi-monopolistic providers of content would pipe the news into you and cover the angle or spin that they thought was appropriate,” he tells Mashable. “Then you’d be out of the loop until the next day or until 10 p.m. Now the consumer’s more in charge.”

Pawlenty recently surpassed 1 million views on his YouTube Channel. His Facebook Page has 103,000 fans and he has more than 44,000 followers on Twitter.

Those stats pale next to President Barack Obama’s, who Pawlenty acknowledges is “very influential in this space.” Yet Pawlenty says that the 2012 U.S. presidential election will be different than it was in 2008. “If you want to fight the next war, look at what he did.” Pawlenty says he isn’t sure what the next big digital component will be, though location-based services may be a factor. (Pawlenty says he’s still assessing Google+.)

His next push in social media is TweetMyJobs’ American Jobs Conference on Twitter July 19. Pawlenty will deliver the “tweetnote” for the event, which seeks to help unemployed people find jobs using social media tools. “This forum is dedicated to being very innovative and forward-thinking,” Pawlenty says.

More About: 2012 election, gop, politics, Tim Pawlenty

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5 Online Tools For Activists, By Activists

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 10:33 AM PDT

Susannah Vila directs content and outreach at, an organization dedicated to identifying, connecting and supporting activists using technology to organize for social change. Connect with her on Twitter @susannahvila.

Why are social networks powerful tools for causes and campaigns? Many times, people begin to engage in activism only after they've been attracted by the fun stuff in a campaign — connecting with old friends and sharing photos, for example. When they witness others participating, they'll be more likely to join the cause. With socializing as the primary draw, it's become easier for organizers to attract more and more unlikely activists through social media.

But once a campaign reaches its critical mass, activists might think about moving to other platforms made with their needs — especially digital security — in mind. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter will remain standard fare for online activism. But the time is right for niche-oriented startups to create tools that can supplement these platforms. Here are a few worth investigating.

1. CrowdVoice

Similar to the social media aggregating service Storify, but with an activist bent, CrowdVoice spotlights all content on the web related to campaigns and protests. What's different about it? Founder Esra'a al Shafei says "CrowdVoice is open and anyone is a contributor. For that reason, it ends up having much more diverse information from many more sources."

If one online activist comes across a spare or one-sided post, he can easily supplement information. Furthermore, campaign participants can add anecdotes and first-hand experiences so that others can check in from afar.

CrowdVoice makes it easier for far-flung audiences to stay abreast of protests and demonstrations, but it also helps organizers coordinate and stay abreast of other activist movements.

2. Sukey

During London's UK Uncut protests this year, police used a tactic called "kettling," or detaining demonstrators inside heavy police barricades for hours on end.

In response, UK Uncut activists created a mobile app to help one another avoid getting caught behind the barricades. The tool, Sukey -- whose motto is "keeping demonstrators safe, mobile and informed" — helps people steer clear of injuries, trouble spots and violence.

Sukey's combination of Google Maps and Swiftriver (the real-time data verifying service from the makers of Ushahidi) also provides a way for armchair protesters to follow the action from afar. Users can use Sukey on a browser-based tool called "Roar," or through SMS service "Growl."

3. Off-the-Record Messaging

"Off-the-Record" (OTR) software can be added to free open-source instant messaging platforms like Pidgin or Adium. On these platforms, you're able to organize and manage different instant messaging accounts on one interface. When you then install OTR, your chats are encrypted and authenticated, so you can rest assured you're talking to a friend.

4. Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a free software made by the Riseup tech collective that provides secure tools for social organizing and group collaboration. It includes wikis, task files, file repositories and decision-making tools.

On its website, Crabgrass describes the software's ability to create networks or coalitions with other independent groups, to generate customized pages similar to the Facebook events tool, and to manage and schedule meetings, assets, task lists and working documents. The United Nations Development Programme and members from the Camp for Climate Action are Crabgrass users.

5. Pidder

Pidder is a private social network that allows you to remain anonymous, share only encrypted information and keep close track of your online identity -- whether that identity is a pseudonym or not.

While it's not realistic to expect anyone to use it as his primary social network, Pidder is a helpful tool to manage your information online. The Firefox add-on organizes and encrypts your sensitive data, which you can then choose to share with other online services. It also logs information you've shared with external parties back into to your encrypted Pidder account.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, onurdongel.

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Learn About the People You’re Emailing, as You Email Them

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 10:00 AM PDT

Inbox social intelligence startup Rapportive is making its Gmail add-on all the more useful Friday.

The service’s omnipotent message sidebar, which includes a bevy of social data on your email contacts, now appears as you compose your email messages.

With the enhanced version of Rapportive, simply compose a message and enter an email address in the “to” field, just as you normally would, and Rapportive will look up the contact and display a host of information on the individual in the right-hand side bar.

And, should you include multiple folks in a single email, Rapportive will look up each individual as you type their names.

Rapportive’s compose view is designed to help you, the email sender, construct better messages. The tool is also intended to help jog your memory and remind you who you’re emailing, how you’ve communicated with contacts before and what they’re chatting about on social networks.

“By using Rapportive before you email, you can be more astute, personal, and effective,” Rapportive CEO Rahul Vohra says. “You can find ways to break the ice, topics to bond over and reasons to get in touch with people. You can even make small gestures such as liking Facebook posts and following on Twitter.”

The feature will be rolled out to Rapportive users gradually, but you can grab the update now at

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5 Best Practices for Applying Game Mechanics to Your Website

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:24 AM PDT

Craig Ferrara is a senior gaming & UI expert at Gigya, where he designs the integrations of Gigya’s technology into clients’ websites. Gigya makes sites social by integrating a suite of plugins like Social Login, Comments, Activity Feeds, Social Analytics and now Game Mechanics into websites.

Conversations about game mechanics — the rules that govern how enjoyable a game is — are changing. Formerly a topic mostly discussed by game designers and gamer geeks like myself, gamification is now part of the business discussion as marketers look to apply it to websites.

One concept that has remained constant, regardless of who is having the conversation, is to identify ways to keep players engaged and games fun. This applies to your site as you encourage social user participation via gamification tactics. Let's break websites down by their common social tools, and target ways to effectively gamify them.

1. User Generated Content

Increase content generated by users on your site. By incentivizing content creation, the user becomes more engaged, thereby making your site richer and more dynamic, as well as improving its SEO. Content is mostly submitted through simple vehicles like comments, ratings or reviews. These are basic ways to get feedback from users based on the content you produce and present.

For example, reward top commenters, but also look for alternative ways to reward commenting on pages. Perhaps allow "weighted commentary" — that is, permit users to sort comments based on each commenter's respective "rank," with the most highly ranked users' comments appearing at the top of the feed. While this kind of reward falls outside the scope of badges and points, it gives the most active users something just as desirable: clout.

2. Sharing

Aside from being both repetitive and easy, sharing can prove incredibly useful in syndicating your content. With gamification elements, users feel even more compelled to syndicate your content. While sharing naturally lends itself to gamification, content publishers should be aware of one potential pitfall: rewarding the user simply for sharing is in violation of many of the major social networks' terms of services. Social networks prohibit immediate incentives for clicking the share button in order to prevent users from spamming their feeds with random content to earn points.

One way to work within this system is to have users work toward a larger overall goal or ranking as a result of sharing. Instead of prodding your visitors to "click to share and earn ten points," sharing can be a means to bring users toward an achievement. Doing so gives visitors the idea that sharing has value, but does not drive toward mindless clicking. Instead, they'll share what actually matters to them instead of just spamming their networks.

3. Feedback

The Facebook "Like,” Google's new "+1" and other reaction buttons serve as both content contribution and sharing tools. They allow users to express an opinion with just one click. Furthermore, you can incorporate gamification by rewarding users for "liking" content on your site — prioritize the opinions and feed activity of highly ranked users. For example, when a website's activity feed displays popular articles and top user reactions, a visitor will likely feel more compelled to click. Think in terms of Roger Ebert giving "a thumbs up" to a movie versus relying on someone less influential.

The benefits of showing ranked reactions in the activity feed are two-fold here — not only will the user expose content to others on the site, but they will also showcase their rank, thus encouraging others to achieve the same status.

4. Social Login

Social login brings an invaluable layer into the game: a user's social graph. A basic principal in game mechanics states that users are more inclined to participate if they have some real world benefit behind the rewards. This can be as simple as increased reputation within a community. Once a user logs in via social APIs such as Facebook Connect or Twitter, she can then compare herself with gaming friends as well as social network friends, all in one space.

Now your visitor knows some people in the site community — but they're still new to the game. How can we encourage participation? Maybe award them small amounts of points just for clicking around, or more points for remaining on a page and consuming content. Therefore, a user who may have no initial interest in earning badges will still be able to advance in the rankings given their increase in participation points. As soon as they recognize the value in earning points (perhaps their comment appears higher in the activity feed), they’ll get hooked and consciously participate. Keeping users involved in the game without any effort on their behalf is a great strategy for converting them into active gamers.

5. Keeping Score

Any good game mechanics implementation goes out of its way to educate users on achieving and advancing within a system. For instance, offer instructions alongside every badge, and show an indicator of their progress within that achievement. At the same time, you don't want to bombard site visitors with constant, blazing reminders. Instead, consider using simple JavaScript notifications that don't monopolize valuable site real estate.

Of course what good are all these badges and points if you can't show them off? By integrating game mechanics into activity feeds and leaderboards, you allow your users to do just that — all while putting a human face to the game. Activity feeds not only allow users to find their friends within their social graph, but also to view their friends' badges. In turn, those participating in the game learn how to unlock badges for themselves. Any good game mechanics implementation should go out of its way to inform the user about how to level-up.

Follow these pointers to connect your site's social elements with game mechanics that allow you to reach both your passive and enthusiastic "gamers." Keep in mind that tying rewards to your existing social elements is just as important as the rewards themselves. Just as with social games like FarmVille or World of Warcraft, participants should feel as if they're part of a community through which they can proudly syndicate their achievements.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, yurok

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Are You a Facebook Defector for Google+? [POLL]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:56 AM 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.

Facebook vs. GoogleGoogle+ has only been out for about two weeks, but a few users are so taken with the service that they’re exiting Facebook entirely.

For instance, Chris Brogan, president of the consultancy Human Business Works, put an “I have moved” message on his Facebook Page, where he has more than 3,000 friends.

“I never liked Facebook,” Brogan wrote on his G+ profile page Friday. “I never used it to stay in touch with friends. I never had a great experience with the platform. I never had it work well (if at all) for my business. So, I didn’t bother. I used it grudgingly.”

Another user, Jeff Patch, wrote on Facebook, “My Facebook feed has become unmanageable. I’m de-friending anyone who is not a close friend, family member or colleague. Find me on Google+.”

Jack Lesley, another Facebook defector also wrote, “Leaving Facebook. Have about half of my friends moved, will be deleting my FB account on 31 July!”

Google+ already has about 10 million users. But users may be reacting to the novelty of a new social network. Facebook, with more than 750 million users, has seen would-be social networks, like Google Buzz, invade its turf before.

And to be sure, there are some who think Facebook defectors are daft.

“Wondering if that’s a career-limiting move considering clients who will still want council on Facebook on the years to come,” David Armano, executive vice president of global innovation and integration at PR agency Edelman, wrote regarding Brogan. “Of course, it’s perfectly viable to build a niche outside Facebook since so many others are focused there.”

What do you think? Are you planning to reboot your social network on G+? Do you think these defectors are crazy? Let us know in the comments and cast your vote in our poll.

More About: facebook, Google, google buzz, Google Plus, trending

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Coca-Cola Offers Free Spotify Subscriptions

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:34 AM PDT

Coca-Cola is offering a sweet deal for its Twitter followers: free Spotify subscriptions.

The company announced the program Friday morning via @DocPemberton, one of its Twitter accounts. The brand also directed fans on its Facebook Page to the feed, which is named after Coca-Cola’s inventor. The Twitter feed directs followers to this Spotify invite page. Coke announced on Thursday that it was a partner in Spotify’s U.S. launch.

The cola giant’s giveaway comes after Klout offered the same deal to its users on Thursday. Chevrolet also offered free Spotify accounts through its Facebook page on Thursday.

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The Parlotones To Perform Live Rock Opera on Facebook This Weekend [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:27 AM PDT

Would you rather spend your Saturday trolling Facebook for evidence of your high school bully’s misery, or take in a live rock opera about an alien princess’s post-apocalyptic hunt for true love? If you’re more of a rock opera guy/girl, South African band The Parlotones has you covered.

The Parlotones will be performing the original rock opera, Dragonflies & Astronauts, live from Johannesburg, South Africa, at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. The rock opera is the first in a series from Ridgeline Entertainment called Planet Keepers, which will include 12 episodes featuring artists endorsing various charitable organizations. The Parlotones’ most recent charitable endeavor, says singer Kahn Morbee, is helping prevent rhino poaching by supporting Rhino Force.

The show — featuring 16 of the band’s songs — has been staged for live audiences all week, but tomorrow it will be broadcast live across various TV stations (NuMetro Cinemas, DIRECTV) in 3D, as well as in 2D on Facebook, courtesy of Facebook commerce company Milyoni. The show will cost 10 Facebook credits (about $1) to view, and all proceeds go to Rhino Force. Viewers will be able to comment on, chat about, and share the concert via the Facebook Page.

Milyoni hosted a similar concert in June featuring Widespread Panic. That drew 2,000 viewers and, according to the company, netted the band 20,000 more Facebook fans.

Morbee thinks that the live streamed concert will be a great way to reach more fans and to give people in other parts of the world access to the event. However, he says he doesn’t think that a digital show is a substitute for the real thing. “You can’t replace the atmosphere of a live concert,” he says.

It’s becoming de rigueur to stream concerts and festivals live on social channels and online. A lot of such programming is free (check out the Pitchfork Music Festival on its site this weekend), but more and more companies like StageIt and platforms like Milyoni are capitalizing on these events by charging a fee.

What do you think? Would you pay to see a live show online?

More About: Dragonflies & Astronauts, facebook, live video, music, parlotones

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HOW TO: Establish Business Credit

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:12 AM PDT

Nellie Akalp is CEO of Since forming more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S, she has built a strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business the right way. LIKE the Facebook page for exclusive discounts and giveaways! To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly and affordably, please visit here.

For the small business owner, trying to navigate the credit and lending world can feel like a vicious Catch-22. Most commercial banks and traditional lenders are reluctant to loosen their purse strings until you've proven yourself with a strong credit history. But it's difficult to develop that good record when no one will lend to you in the first place.

Many small business owners rely on the strength of their personal credit to fund their businesses. But when you use personal credit, your mortgage, auto loan and personal credit cards all affect your ability to qualify for a business loan. Using business credit separates your personal activities from that of the business. Your business credit is dependent on your company's payment history, assets, cash flow and other financials. It doesn't include your personal debts or other personal financial obligations.

A strong credit history is the foundation for success, as it can lower your interest rates and give you access to more capital when needed. To start building your business credit, here are the initial steps you should take.

1. Set Up a Business Entity

There's no such thing as a business loan or business credit for a sole proprietor — that's a personal loan. In order to receive a business loan or investment, you must separate the business from its personal owners by setting up a legal business entity — a corporation or LLC, for example. Your CPA can advise you on the best legal structure for your particular situation, as your choice in entity can have some pretty significant tax implications.

2. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN)

Every business must have a tax ID number, just like each individual has a social security number. The Tax ID number (or EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to business entities operating in the U.S. You'll use this number to open your business bank account and build your business credit profile. Apply for your business' EIN online through the IRS site — and don't worry, the process is fast and simple.

3. Establish a Business Bank Account

Your business needs at least one bank reference. Ideally, if you need to apply for a loan, your bank account will be at least two years old (of course, there's not much you can do to change this situation other than apply for a business bank account as early as possible). More important than your account's lifespan, your business bank account should show a cash flow capable of taking on a business debt. Of course, the optimum average daily balance of your account will depend on your type of business and the amount of financing you'll be seeking.

4. Get Listed with the Business Credit Bureaus

Dun & Bradstreet is one of the main business credit bureaus and runs its own business credit score. D&B gives businesses a separate credit file number (known as a D&B or DUNS number) that rates your credit profile. Go to their site to find out if your business is already listed and has a score. You can also begin the process by applying for a free DUNS number once you've established your business entity and have your EIN. The number is how lenders will determine your business' credit worthiness (most business credit card and lending companies will ask for your D&B number during the application process).

5. Establish Business Credit History

Check if your trade vendors are reporting your payment history to one of the major reporting companies, like D&B. Just like with your personal credit score, the more vendors that report a good payment history, the better your business credit will be. It's common that small trade vendors won't report your payment history to D&B. In this case, you should compile a trade reference sheet with at least three references (include their name, contact information and credit limits) to augment your official business credit report. In addition, you should open a business credit card (in the name of the business) and use it wisely — meaning keep your balance low and always pay on time.

6. Maintain a Good Personal Credit Rating

When you're a relatively new or small company, creditors are going to be looking at the personal credit of the person who owns the business (or any shareholders with more than 20% ownership of the company). In today's lending environment, you should expect to be asked to sign a personal guarantee on any kind of loan or credit of the business. This isn't always mandatory, but it has recently become common practice in the lending industry. As a result, anyone with a 20% or higher share in the company should keep a close eye on his own credit rating.

The most important thing to remember is that you can't build business credit overnight. Business owners should think about their business credit from day one. Even if you're self-funded now, you never know what challenges or growth opportunities will develop down the road. Having access to credit can only help you adapt to changing conditions and position yourself for success.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, idrutu

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Sony Ericsson Blames $70.7 Million Net Loss on Japan Earthquake

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:34 AM PDT

Sony Ericsson posted poor financial results for Q2 2011, with a €50 million ($70.7 million) net loss, compared to a net profit of €12 million ($16.9 million) for the same period last year.

The reason for the disastrous quarter, Sony Ericsson claims, was the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March and hurt the company’s supply chain.

Sony Ericsson sold 7.6 million mobile phones this quarter, a 31 percent drop compared to Q2 2010.

“Had it not been for the earthquake and the supply chain constraints we would have shipped 1.5 million more units and we would have been profitable during the second quarter,” Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg told Dow Jones Newswires.

It’s not all bad news, though: Sales of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia smartphone series were up 150 percent from 2010. Overall, smartphones accounted for 70% of sales while the demand — and subsequently, Sony Ericsson’s sales — for feature phones dwindled.

[via AFP]

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Foursquare Gives Its iPhone App a Newsfeed

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:16 AM PDT

In a continued effort to deepen engagement, Foursquare has added a new system for notifications to its iPhone app.

The new “notification tray,” which Foursquare added to its Android app earlier this month, tracks more than just checkins. Comments on your checkins, new comments on items you’ve commented on, completion of your tips by your friends and mayor status updates are all included. It also quite handily lets you know when your Facebook friends join Foursquare.

In the iPhone app, new notifications are displayed in a bubble to the right of the Foursquare logo — which is not the only thing that the Foursquare team is hoping the feature will have in common with Facebook’s newsfeed.

“Even if you’re not checking in,” says Foursquare, “the new notification tray is a great reason to open the app or visit”

In addition to the notification tray, the new version of the app also has a revamped venue page with easier access to tips, photos and your to-do list.

What do you think of the new features? Will the notification tray get you to use the app more often?

More About: App, foursquare, notification tray, social media

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Vitaminwater Bus Station Ads Can Charge Your Phone

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:04 AM PDT

At last: advertising you’ll be glad to see.

Vitaminwater is highlighting its “energy-boosting” properties with bus shelters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston with a 5-volt battery-powered USB port. Using the port, consumers can charge their phones, iPods and gaming devices.

The effort is the first from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which won the account in May and is part of Vitaminwater’s “You’re Up” positioning.

Offering a charge to consumers isn’t new. Samsung has been running charging stations in airports for years. But bus stations are new territory — although they’ve been used in experiments before, most notably by the Got Milk? people, who rigged bus stations in 2009 in San Francisco to smell like cookies.

[via Creativity Online]

More About: advertising, crispin porter + Bogusky, MARKETING, trending, vitamin water

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Lorem Ipsum Generators: 10 Ways To Make Your Dummy Text More Fun

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:47 AM PDT

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit … “

If that’s all Greek to you, then don’t worry, it’s supposed to be. Taken from Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, then altered to make zero sense, “Lorem Ipsum” is the most commonly used dummy text in the design field.

However, if you’re fed up seeing the faux Latin nonsense, we’ve found more than 30 placeholder text generators that offer something a little different — from cult movie references to classic novels to bacon. Mmmmm, bacon.

Take a look through the gallery below to discover some fun options next time you’re greeking. Let us know in the comments about any we’ve missed that you like to use.

1. Fillerati

This good-looking literary service offers passages of text from great authors like Lewis Carroll, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

2. Cameron Creative

Although different, Cameron Creative's online tools offer a few useful options. Cut and paste a block of binary code that appears like a realistic "terms and conditions" text, should you need to fill up such a section on a website.

3. Bacon Ipsum

Pig out with graphs composed of "all meat" or "meat and filler" text.

4. Malevole Text Generator

A bizarre and random mix of TV show theme lyrics make up the filler text generated by this Malevole option.

5. Greeking Machine

The Greeking Machine offers a range of dummy text. In addition to classical Latin, languages include hillbilly, marketing, The Matrix, Metropolitan, pseudo German and our fave -- techno babble.

6. Gangsta Lorem Ipsum

A block of "gangsta" text for when your design needs some extra shizzle, innit.

7. The Postmodernism Generator

If you need an essay-type format, then the Postmodernism generator has you covered with several essays of plausible-looking post-modernist nonsense.

8. Vegan Ipsum

If Bacon Ipsum is just too meaty for you, the same team offers a vegan version. Generate one to five graphs of veggie text. And, if you're really gung-ho for going green, there's also Veggie Ipsum to check out too.

9. Blind Text Generator

Alongside more traditional placeholder texts, the Blind Text Generator will spice things up for you with "Kafka," "Werther," "Pangram" and more.

10. Fillerama

Perfect for impressing your contemporary clients, Fillerama will cover your blank space with phrases from Futurama, The Simpsons, Star Wars, Dexter, Doctor Who and Monty Python.

BONUS: Adhesion Text

We've bonus-ified this offering as it's a little unusual, but could be just the ticket for certain projects. Adhesion Text creates words based on the letters you enter.

More About: design, dummy text, gallery, List, Lists, lorem ipsum, text generators

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Is Microsoft Creating a New Social Search Engine?

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:31 AM PDT

Screenshots of what appears to be a social search product on a Microsoft-owned domain have been making their way around the web, igniting rumors that the company is planning to make a move on Google‘s home turf in the social search game.

The page was first discovered Thursday by Fusible on, a domain that the blog reported Microsoft owned.

Microsoft search engine Bing already integrates with Facebook to show you what your friends have liked and improve people search. But this seems a project quite divided from Microsoft’s staple search.

At the time Fusible discovered the page, it welcomed visitors to “Tulalip,” where “you can find what you need and share what you know easier than ever.”

The page featured a a non-functioning search bar and buttons for connecting to Facebook and Twitter. The latter button led to an authorization page that explained the app would read tweets from your timeline, see whom you’re following and vice versa and post tweets.

Later, it was replaced to read, “Thanks for stopping by. is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.”

[via Search Engine Land]

More About: facebook, Google, microsoft, social search, Tulalip

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Top 3 Stories This Morning: Foursquare, Facebook & Google+

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:20 AM PDT

Social Media News

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

Foursquare Updates iPhone App With New Notification System

Foursquare just released version 3.3 for iPhone. The update comes with a revamped venue details screen and the notification tray, which Foursquare rolled out July 5 only for the Android app and website.

The notification system is a feed of what your friends are doing, including comments, to-dos and mayorship changes.

Rihanna Is Now the Most Popular Woman on Facebook

Rihanna has surpassed Lady Gaga as the female with the most Facebook fans. Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s marketing director, announced the news early Friday morning via a tweet: “Sorry, Gaga! As of today, Rihanna has passed Lady Gaga as the #1 most popular woman on Facebook #ClearlyLifeChangingNews.”

Google+ Users Are Nearly All Male

Google+, which launched June 28 as an invite-only social network, has so far attracted a user base primarily made of males. One stats tracker reports that 86.6% of Google+ users are male, while another says 73.7% are male.

Further News

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