Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Lenovo Reveals Two Honeycomb Tablets, Adds a Windows One for Good Measure”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Lenovo Reveals Two Honeycomb Tablets, Adds a Windows One for Good Measure”

Lenovo Reveals Two Honeycomb Tablets, Adds a Windows One for Good Measure

Posted: 20 Jul 2011 02:50 AM PDT

Lenovo has decided to cover all bases with its tablet offering, announcing an Android tablet aimed for professionals, another Android tablet for the home user and a Windows 7-based one for users that simply must have Windows on their tablet.

The ThinkPad Tablet has a 10.1-inch, 1280×800 IPS display and sports a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and 3G (as an option, probably tied to a carrier), 16/32/64 GB of storage memory plus a number of ports: mini-HDMI, USB 2.0 and micro USB. The device is aimed at business users, and comes with a number of peripherals, including a stylus for precise notes as well as a full-size keyboard dock.

The IdeaPad K1 is similar to the ThinkPad Tablet in terms of specifications – a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GBs of storage memory, and a a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800-resolution screen – but it’s quite different in looks, following the design philosophy of Lenovo’s IdeaPad laptop series.

Both devices are running on the latest version of Android for tablets, Honeycomb 3.1. The IdeaPad K1 will start at $449, and should become available today, while the ThinkPad Tablet starts at $499 and comes in August.

Finally, the Windows 7-based IdeaPad P1 probably won’t make an impact in the tablet market – not because of its hardware, which includes a 1.5GHz Intel processor, a 1280 x 800 capacitive touch screen, up to 2 GB of RAM memory, and up to 64GB of SSD storage – but because Windows 7 is simply not optimized for tablets. The device should hit the market in Q4 2011.

[via This is my next]

More About: android, honeycomb, honeycomb 3.1, lenovo, Tablet, tablets, Windows, Windows 7

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Apple Store Down, OS X Lion and New MacBook Air On the Way?

Posted: 20 Jul 2011 02:17 AM PDT

Apple Store went down moments ago, which probably means that the new version of Apple’s desktop operating system, Mac OS X Lion, and possibly a refreshed MacBook Air, are coming today.

The new MacBook Air, according to rumors, is expected to come with a 128 GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM, a backlit keyboard and Lion as the operating system.

We’ll keep you posted on what’s new as soon as the store comes back up.

More About: apple, Apple Store, mac os x lion, macbook air

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Apple Is $50 Billion Away From Becoming The World’s Most Valuable Company

Posted: 20 Jul 2011 02:00 AM PDT

After a record setting quarter that shattered Wall Street estimates, Apple is in a position to become the most valuable company in the world.

The company announced on Tuesday that it sold 20.34 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads in the second quarter of 2011, up by 142% and 183% respectively. That translated to a quarterly record revenue of $28.57 billion and a record net profit of $7.31 billion.

The result? Apple shares soared by more than 4% in after hours trading to $394. That translates to a market capitalization of $364 billion.

Despite that growth, Apple remains the second most valuable company in the world.

Last year, Apple surpassed Microsoft’s market cap and took the title of the world’s most valuable tech company with a market cap of $223 billion. Only one company exceeded its worth: Exxon Mobil, whose net worth at the time was $281.5 billion. Today, the oil giant is worth an astounding $412 billion.

Can Apple catch up with Exxon and become the world’s most valuable company? If Apple continues to post record-breaking earnings, it’s definitely possible. However, Exxon Mobil’s profits are soaring as well, and energy tends to perform better than consumer electronics in a stagnant or down economy (you don’t need an iPad, but you still need to drive your car).

Our verdict? These two companies are going to continue breaking revenue and profit records, but unless something drastic happens at Exxon or Apple, it may be some time until the technology company beats the oil giant.

More About: apple, business, Exxon, Exxon Mobil

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1990s Nickelodeon Returns to the Airwaves

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 10:29 PM PDT

Look alive Keenan and Kel fans, the TeenNick cable network is bringing back favorites from the 1990s to the airwaves beginning Monday.

TeenNick, one of many networks under the Nickelodeon brand name, will air four-hour blocks of “classic” (by generation Y standards) Nickelodeon original content between the hours of midnight and 4 am.

According to Brian Stelter at the New York Times , the programming block, called “The ’90s Are All That,” was a response to the numerous Facebook groups dedicated to bringing back this classic content.

Nickelodeon History 101

Here’s a refresher for those of you not fully versed in Nickelodeon history:

In 1990, Nickelodeon Studios opened at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The flagship show at the time, Double Dare, was moved to the Orlando location. It also become the home for a slew of original live-action programs like Clarissa Explains it All and All That. In 1991, the first Nicktoons, Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show, debuted on the network.

For the next decade or so, many of these programs made up the primary daytime blocks of programming on Nickelodeon. In 1992, a Saturday evening block, called SNICK (or Saturday Night Nickelodeon), debuted. For the next twelve years, that block of programming would air new episodes of its flagship original programming

For many of us who grew up in the early to mid-1990s, these shows represented an iconic part of pop culture. For years, fans have petitioned the network to re-air some of the more popular shows or release programs on DVD.

The Shows

As Nickelodeon fan site Nickutopia shares, this is the lineup of shows that TeenNick will be airing during “The ’90s Are All That”:

  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete
  • All That
  • The Amanda Show
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  • Catdog
  • Clarissa Explains it All
  • Double Dare
  • Doug
  • Hey Arnold!
  • Kenan & Kel
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple
  • Nickelodeon GUTS
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show
  • Rocket Power
  • Rocko’s Modern Life
  • Rugrats
  • Salute Your Shorts
  • The Secret World Of Alex Mack

In addition to these shows, “The ’90s are All That” will feature special appearances from popular Nickelodeon Stick Stickly. Frankly, I think I’m most excited about the return of Stick Stickly.

A Play on Nostalgia

Generation Y, my generation, is one that is obsessed with nostalgia. Witness our love for all things Betty White (even though most of us discovered The Golden Girls via reruns in the 1990s and not on Saturday nights in the 1980s), our affinity for retro and ironic t-shirts with branding from some time in the past when we probably weren’t even alive, and the fact that shows like Robot Chicken and Family Guy have basically made it their marquee to reference old programs or fads, just so the twenty-somethings in the audience can go, “Dude, I totally remember the MicroMachines guys, he was awesome!”

During the 1990s, Nickelodeon was the perennial kid brand. In a world before the term “tween” was actually used, it was a prime television destination portal aimed squarely at kids in elementary school and junior high.

Thus, it’s no surprise that as soon as we all started using Facebook in college (and if we’re honest, LiveJournal before that), talking about Nickelodeon shows and idealizing those shows as “ahead of their time” became a common activity.

In truth, the shows, for the most part, don’t actually hold up. I know this because this isn’t the first time that Nickelodeon has played on the nostalgia train, this is just its most engaged play. For the last decade, Nickelodeon has actually been recycling some of its ’90s-era content across many of its digital cable properties.

When the Noggin network debuted in 1999, it was dedicated to airing programs that were pulled from PBS and Nick Jr. Late at night, Noggin had a block of programming dedicated to Generation Xers that aired classic episodes of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Ghost Writer and Square One. Subsequently, when the network transitioned to The N (before The N became its own network), many classic Nick shows from the 1990s would air in the afternoons.

Before being rebranded as TeenNick, The N often aired these programs late at night or in weekend blocks. Moreover, classic Nicktoons aired on the Nicktoons cable network during much of the 2000s, and the now shuttered Nickelodeon Games and Sports network (GAS) was basically dedicated to airing nothing but old episodes of Double Dare, Nick Arcade, GUTS and Legend of the Hidden Temple, with some Wild and Crazy Kids thrown in for good measure.

The difference with this campaign is that Nickeldoen is fuly embracing its audience’s desire for nostalgia. Even more interesting, many of the most vocal 1990s Nickelodeon fans were likely not even old enough to even remember the SNICK couch or when Clarissa was actually on TV. Instead, in true Gen-Y fashion, these fans are simply nostalgic about faint memories in front of the tube.

The fact that TeenNick will be taking programming cues from Facebook is interesting. Also interesting is its usage of AllThat and Keenan and Kel (and Good Burger) star Keenan Thompson, now a regular on Saturday Night Live, in some of its advertising promos.

Our only question is this: when is Hey Dude! going to air? I take that back. That show was horrible. Even my everlasting love of it in 1991 doesn’t change the fact that it was horrible. Edited to Add: I’ve been informed that Hey Dude! is now on DVD. Yes, it is horrible. Yes, it is also now being shipped to my house via Amazon. Nostalgia FTW.

More About: clarissa explains it all, doug, keenan & kel, nickelodeon, nostalgia, pete and pete, teennick, television, tv

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Google+ Approaches 18 Million Users [REPORT]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 09:24 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.

Google+ continues to set records as the fastest-growing social network in history, but Google’s social juggernaut is beginning to show signs that it’s losing steam. co-founder Paul Allen (not to be confused with the Microsoft co-founder of the same name) posted his most recent analysis of Google+’s growth on his Google+ account Tuesday. According to his analysis, the search giant’s Facebook competitor will likely reach 18 million users by the end of Tuesday, but its growth rate has dropped by 50% from its peak.

“Last week we saw two days where more than 2 million signed up in a single day,” Allen said in his post. “If that rate had continued, Google+ would have reached 20 million users by last Sunday night. But the last four days have averaged only 948,000 new users, and yesterday the site added only 763,000. Yesterday’s growth of 4.47% was the slowest viral growth since Google opened up invites back on July 6.”


Why is Google+’s growth slowing down? Google Trends indicates that the buzz around Google+ has died down some, which is natural for any major news item. Allen makes the important point that Google+ hasn’t been promoted by any of its other properties and that the social network is still invite-only. Once Google+ is promoted on YouTube or on, its growth may simply skyrocket.

Allen estimated that Google+ hit the 10 million user mark sometime on July 12 or 13. Google CEO Larry Page confirmed that Google+ had more than 10 million users during an investor earnings call on July 14. Its most followed user, Mark Zuckerberg, now has more than 250,000 followers, despite not posting a single public item on his Google+ account.

Graph via Paul Allen’s Google+ page

More About: Google, Google Plus, social networking

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Tribalfish Mixes & Matches the Best of Email, Blogs & Forums

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 08:14 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: Tribalfish

Quick Pitch: Tribalfish is a realtime discussion network that replaces blogs and forums, making it easier to discover topics and capture audiences.

Genius Idea: Twitter without the limitations.

Startup Tribalfish is opening to the public Tuesday to give web users a new place to engage in realtime discussions.

“Discussions?,” you say, “Can’t I have those on Facebook, Twitter and even Google+?” Sure you can, but Tribalfish sees those destination social networks as limiting, and potentially fragmenting, internet discussions. The startup seeks to merge the best of email, blogs and forums in a single social network to solve those problems.

“What we want to do is to bridge the gab between rich content that you would post into a blog and the very broad audience reach that you have with a global network like Twitter, and bring them together in one place,” Tribalfish founder Chris Crabtree says.

In short, Crabtree says, it’s “Twitter without limits.”

The site is structured like an email inbox. In the left-most column, you’ll find your navigation options, with the center and right-hand panes used for viewing and sharing content. You can post updates, start discussions or participate in groups.

The site will let you follow topics in three ways: Interests, Groups and Following. You can use the Interests section as a live search stream for topics of interest, or you can create and join private or public groups to participate in active discussions and follow other users to see what they’re discussing.

What’s the point? Well, early users are starting to use Tribalfish like a blog, Crabtree says. “We think people will end up using this as a medium for blogging, but also just to start serendipitous discussions about whatever topic they want,” he adds.

In that respect, the startup reminds us of Percolate, another new tool that also re-imagines the blog.

The first time Tribalfish user might have a hard time getting started. Finding internet contacts will be a bit laborious for most. Plus, because the “post something” and comments boxes are designed to support long-form content, Tribalfish could turn off light-weight social media posters already accustomed to the tiny boxes on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Still, the young startup has time to sort out these issues. Crabtree insists that the product will evolve to match the needs and wants of its users. He also sees Tribalfish as a viable conversation tool for organizations and educational institutions.

Founded roughly one year-ago, Utah-based Tribalfish is currently bootstrapped and in the process of raising a seed round of financing. Mobile applications for Android and iPhone are said to be in the works.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, BLOGS, forums, social media, social network, spark-of-genius, Tribalfish

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Google Warns Users They May Be Infected By Malware

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 07:36 PM PDT

Google has identified a piece of malware that is redirecting unusual search traffic to its servers, prompting the company to warn affected users.

“Recently, we found some unusual search traffic while performing routine maintenance on one of our data centers,” security engineer Damian Menscher wrote on the company’s blog. “After collaborating with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic, we determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected with a particular strain of malicious software.”

The malware has affected an unspecified number of users, but apparently it was enough for the company to announce that they will be displaying a “prominent notification” at the top of google search results to anybody they believe is infected.

“This particular malware causes infected computers to send traffic to Google through a small number of intermediary servers called ‘proxies.’ We hope that by taking steps to notify users whose traffic is coming through these proxies, we can help them update their antivirus software and remove the infections.”

Google has never used its search engine as a massive malware warning system for users, although it did accidentally mark every website on the web as harmful in 2009.

More About: Google, google search, malware, security

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The Hulu Rumor Mill Heats Up

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 06:44 PM PDT

The rumor mill surrounding Hulu and its potential sale is heating up as more details about the bidding war surface.

The news about Hulu shopping itself around to potential acquirers first broke last month, after an unknown bidder made an offer for the company. Soon after, multiple publications started churning out reports about the future of Hulu.

The premium video site has several issues standing in the way between it and an acquisition. Its biggest issue is that it relies heavily on content from its network partners: NBC Universal, Disney and News Corp. Without that content, Hulu’s value drops substantially, making long-term content deals essential to any sale. NBC Universal, Disney and News Corp. each own a stake in Hulu, making their approval of any deal mandatory.

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all reportedly been interested in taking over Hulu. Google is looking for more premium content, which is also why it now offers movie rentals and acquired Next New Networks. Yahoo, on the other hand, is trying to reinvent itself as a modern online media company, but its revenues are dropping and it needs to make a big splash to reinvent itself.

What about Microsoft? According to Bloomberg, the tech titan has decided not to pursue a second round of bidding for the online video company. While Microsoft has more than enough money to make the acquisition, it recently spent $8.5 billion to acquire Skype in May.

Yahoo is still in play, though. Citing an anonymous source, Business Insider reports that Yahoo is willing to pay up to $2 billion for Hulu, as long as it can get a four or five-year guarantee for Hulu’s current slate of content. Hulu reportedly has promised prospective buyers five years of programming already.

Neither of the reports mentioned anything about Google’s intentions.

Who do you think would do the best job with Hulu? Or should Hulu remain independent? Let us know in the comments below.

More About: business, Google, hulu, microsoft, ONLINE VIDEO, video, Yahoo

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HOW TO: Self Publish Your Book with Amazon’s CreateSpace

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 05:48 PM PDT

book image

Yuli Ziv is the founder & CEO of Style Coalition, a network of top fashion and beauty bloggers in partnership with ELLE. Her first self-published book in the Fashion 2.0 series Blogging Your Way to The Front Row: The Insider’s Guide to Turning Your Fashion Blog into a Profitable Business and Launching a New Career is now available on Follow her on Twitter @yuliz.

It's been six years since Amazon acquired CreateSpace, an on-demand publishing platform, and almost four years since they announced the free online setup for self-publishing. While four years seems like a long time in our fast-paced world, self-publishing still hasn't reached the mass audience. Even the biggest social media gurus still take the traditional route, only choosing to self-publish when they’ve been rejected by mainstream publishing houses.

The truth is, print-on-demand publishing is the fastest, most profitable and easiest way to get your written thoughts out there. Today, self-published books are even distributed to traditional outlets like Barnes & Noble and academic libraries. Most people searching Amazon or shopping the book shelves don't even think to question whether the book was self-published or printed by a publishing company. They wouldn't ever know unless they checked the product details.

Of course, self-publishing means you don't get the marketing resources that come with a traditional publishing deal, but in our world of social media, that can be easily fixed. So if self publishing is so easy, why don't we see more authors using it? Most people are simply not aware of the low barrier to entry. I didn't even realize how easy it was to publish a book, until I decided to write one.

After evaluating the various options, I chose CreateSpace. It met my needs the best, but your mileage may vary, so research your options careful and pick the service that matches best with your goals and the type of book you plan to publish. Here is a step-by-step guide to publishing your own book using CreateSpace:

Step 1: Create

When writing your book, make sure it has all the necessary parts: introduction, acknowledgments, dedication, resources, table of contents and copyright page. If you choose to prepare the files yourself, as opposed to using CreateSpace professional services, you need to make sure to set up the appropriate margins, headers, page numbers and other formatting elements. To make things easier, the site offers ready-to-print templates that you can download for free and use to write your book. When you're ready, you’ll simply export a PDF and have a print-ready file.

Step 2: Setup

Once you've completed the writing process, you can easily set up a new book in your CreateSpace account. The setup process guides you through simple steps of inputting the book title, description, and credits, choosing the book size and paper color, and finally, uploading the files (one for the interior, one for the cover).

While the interior file is relatively easy to create yourself using a template, the cover of your book may be a little more challenging. Again, the site offers a variety of solutions for beginners (such as building a simple cover using their online Cover Creator tool) and advanced authors alike.

Finally, you’ll choose your book's ISBN number. I decided to go with a free CreateSpace assigned ISBN. Unless you are planning on re-publishing or distributing your book with a traditional publisher in the future, or would like to choose your own publisher company name, there isn't really any value to paying $99 for your own ISBN.

Step 3: Review

Now it’s time to submit your book for a review. At this point, the CreateSpace team looks at every file and checks for potential issues before approving for print. If they see something set up incorrectly, they will email you the notes so you have a chance to re-submit your file. For example, I included color text and special characters that wouldn’t print correctly, and the review team caught both and sent me an email. The review process usually takes up to 24 hours, after which you can order a physical proof copy to check over before putting your book for sale.

The community section of the site warns all first-time authors that they might need to view multiple proofs of their book until they're satisfied. It's helpful to have at least two to three other people reading the printed copy of your book — each might discover separate issues that the others hadn’t noticed.

Step 4: Distribute

Once you are ready to hit "approve" on your proof, you can set up the distribution information for your title and select your sales channels. This is where you’ll set up your book's price and calculate royalties based on the book's size, number of pages and type of paper. From the research I've done, CreateSpace provides the highest profits on a standard trade type book, however I suggest playing with their royalty calculator before you decide on the format and size of your book. For example, after increasing the font size of my book I discovered that it added 20 pages, which resulted in almost $0.50 less royalties per book.

CreateSpace does not offer a hardcover option at this point, so if that's a deal breaker, you’ll have to choose another platform (like Lulu) to publish your book. For most independent authors, because hardcover books cost more to print, you may not be able to profit from them, which is something to consider. It’s a decision that not only affects your retail price and royalties, but also the personal cost to buy your own book for press promotions.

After finalizing the price, you can choose one or more distribution channels. There's the CreateSpace eStore, where you can market your book directly with a customizable product page, or Expanded Distribution Channel. The last option requires a pro plan upgrade.The pro plan has a one-time fee of $39 with a $5 renewal fee each year thereafter. It makes your book available to thousands of retail and online outlets, including Barnes & Noble, libraries and more. Although there is no guarantee these stores will actually pick up your book, at least it will be included in a distribution list. While the eStore listing is created immediately, Amazon listings take about five to seven business days. Expanded distribution may take a few weeks.

Once Amazon creates the initial listing, you can update it with additional information or edits via Amazon Author Central (this requires opening an author account). Here you can actually create a nice author page with your full bio and headshot, which may help your sales. In my experience, Amazon was responsive and kind when dealing with my requests. From applying edits to my title within hours to personally answering my first-time author questions via provided phone support, I was supplied with consistent help throughout the entire process.

If you’re planning a digital release, it might actually make sense to delay the release and encourage people to get the paperback first. Releasing a digital version of your book could be a great reason for a secondary marketing push, so plan it wisely. You can use the CreateSpace conversion service for Kindle ($69, takes about 2 weeks) or spend a couple of hours reformatting the book yourself, then converting it into a .prc file using one of the many free downloadable tools. From there, just upload it into Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. If your title is already listed on Amazon, the Kindle version will be automatically matched.

Converting to iPad is a similar process. Convert your files to ePUB and upload your book to iTunes. CreateSpace doesn’t help much so you’ll need to use a competitor like Lulu.

Step 5: Sales & Marketing

Once your title is listed, all that's left to do is to let people know about it! Here again CreateSpace supplies a suite of on-demand marketing solutions from a press release to video trailers. Amazon also offers up-to-date sales reports so you can track how well your book is selling. Of course, traditional social media marketing techniques apply here as well. You should certainly lean on you pre-existing social networks to promote your book.

Considering the ease and effectiveness of the self-publishing process, I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more self-published books in the next few years. At this point self-publishing still remains an uncharted territory for independent content creators, which means it's the perfect time to get on board.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jenn and Tony Bot

More About: book, book publishing, diy, how to, media, publishing, self publishing, social media

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Bill Gates To Reinvent The Toilet

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 04:33 PM PDT

bill gates image

The man who revolutionized the personal computer is putting his efforts — and foundation — to revolutionizing toilets. Microsoft founder Bill Gates said he will dedicate $42 million towards reinventing the toilet.

Water hygiene and safe waste disposal are two of the biggest causes of infant mortality in the developing countries. Gates and his foundation hope to create inexpensive toilets to vastly improve the living conditions of millions of people. It may seem like a silly subject but it’s one that could save lives around the world.

"No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches. New ideas.”

The initiative was launched by Burwell on Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda.

Part of the foundation’s plan is the Reinventing the Toilet Challenge, which funds research at eight universities around the world to develop a toilet that will turn waste into energy, clean water or nutrients. The solution must be a stand-alone unit without piped-in water, a sewer connection or outside electricity. The foundation partnered with USAID to fix water sanitation as part of the UN’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Today, 40% of the world’s population does not have access to flush toilets. One billion people defecate in the open. Each year, 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhea, many of which are preventable with improved sanitation.

The foundation is prioritizing convenience and affordability in the solutions it considers. The toilets must be easy to install and cost no more than $0.05 a day to maintain.

More About: bill and melinda gates foundation, bill gates, developing countries, sanitation, social good, tech, Toilet, UN, water

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Apple Stock Surges to New Record

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 03:14 PM PDT

Shares of Apple surged to an all-time high in after hours trading following the company’s earnings report on Tuesday.

As of 6:00 p.m. ET, shares were trading around $396 each after crossing the $400 mark for the first time earlier in the session, up more than 5% since the start of Tuesday’s trading.

At that price, the company is valued at more than $365 billion, trailing only Exxon Mobil (at $411 billion) for the title of world’s most valuable company.

In its report, Apple said that it sold more than 9 million iPads and 20 million iPhones in its most recent quarter.

More About: apple, investing, stocks, trending

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HOW TO: Launch a Mobile Campaign for Non-Profits

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 02:53 PM PDT

mobile giving

Text message campaigns are fundraising miracles. They allow almost any cellphone user to instantly turn his or her support into a donation.

These paper-free, link-free, check-free campaigns rid the donation process of several steps that may dissuade donors from giving. If you're a small non-profit, a mobile campaign could be your dream come true. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to navigate the mobile-giving world.

We spoke with Jenifer Snyder, Executive Director of The mGive Foundation, an organization which claims to oversee 85% of all mobile giving campaigns, and rounded up some essential tips for non-profits hoping to start their own text-based initiatives.

1. Know The Rules

The mGive Foundation has some pretty rigorous standards in order to approve organizations. Among the eligibility requirements, organizations must have 501(c)(3) non-profit status, file a form 990 demonstrating an annual budget of at least $500,000, have been in operation for at least a year and report all of its expenses to the public.

But what if you don’t have a half a million dollar annual budget, or can’t afford mGive’s $499 monthly fee? There are now solutions for smaller non-profits with shorter histories. MobiPledge is designed specifically for small non-profits, for example.

Another option is to start a text-to-commit program using a text marketing service like Momares. While it doesn't offer the benefits of direct donations attached to constituents’ phone bills, it is a way for smaller non-profits to create fundraising opportunities through mobile.

2. Build Your Foundation

Successful mobile campaigns can do much more than just text subscribers and ask for money. Before you can think about fundraising, you need phone numbers. Use all of your existing platforms to ask your community for their phone numbers. If you already have a strong database, great; but you should always be thinking about new ways to gather this information. Think about asking through direct mailings or via your social media accounts. Add a widget to your blog or website where your community can opt in to mobile alerts.

Once you've collected a large group of phone numbers and organized your lists, you are ready to kick off your campaign.

3. Engage

Further develop a relationship with your subscribers. Don't send an immediate request for money without first explaining your organization and your mission. You can start by appealing to your subscribers emotions and latch on to the things they’re already thinking about (like a special event or holiday).

Tennyson Center for Children, a Denver-based non-profit for at-risk teens, ran one of Snyder's favorite campaigns. After building a list of numbers, they sent a text on Valentine's Day saying "Happy Valentines Day! Our Hearts are with you and you have all of our Hearts." Later that month, they asked for a $10 gift. Tennyson Center for Children increased their annual budget by 8.7% after integrating mobile into their organizations' infrastructure.

4. Think Big

Big events with big audiences are the best opportunity to solicit text message donations. Because text campaigns seek micro-donations, the moment your non-profit has its largest captive audience is best time to launch a campaign.

One of the first successful instances of a text donation campaign was during the 2008 Superbowl, when United Way asked for a $5 donation via text message to help prevent child obesity. Since then, mobile giving has been integrated into other major events, like the New York Center for Autism's Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education in partnership with Comedy Central. For example, when actors Olivia Munn and Will Forte came onstage in the same dress, audience members could vote for best dressed. There was also an ongoing poll as to which type of milkshake — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — should be poured on John Hodgman’s head. Each text response made a $10 donation to the autism center. By the end of the night, the event raised $130,000 just from those texts.

Don’t worry if you lack the scale of the United Way (and the budget to buy a Superbowl commercial) or the celebrity connections of the New York Center for Autism. There are ample opportunities non-profits with fewer resources to capitalize on crowds — high school sports games, county or town fairs, and fundraising galas are ideal times to recruit excited donors.

5. Think Outside The Box

Mobile campaigns can do much more than just solicit donations. Mobile is a great channel to find volunteers for specific events or inform people about a rally. Organizations can also text links to more information about their programs and where their work is being done.

6. Don't Oversaturate

One of the biggest challenges in today's market is the risk of oversaturation. While we might ignore emails in our inbox, text messages generally have a better conversion rate. Snyder claims that 85% of text messages are read within 15 minutes of being received. This means that there is a higher chance your audience will read text messages you send their way.

Snyder warns her clients to strike a balance between engagement and oversaturation. The worst thing that could happen after you've acquired mobile subscribers is to drive them to unsubscribe. This can happen if your messages become overwhelming and unwanted.

Try to limit donation inquiries to once a month, followed by a message of appreciation to those who donated. Beyond that, only send one additional message each month, such as acknowledging a relevant holiday or event at your organization.

7. Know the Limitations

Mobile campaigns are usually simple, but that can be a mixed blessing. The no-fuss nature of mobile communication means it can be more difficult to collect additional information about individual donors. Most mobile campaigns also don’t allow donors to select how much they want to give. While this sets a minimum (usually $5 or $10) for donations, it also limits larger donations, unless users want to text you 100 times.

We’ve weighed the pros and the cons and offered some tips, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on mobile giving campaigns. What are your own success stories? How has mobile made a difference in your organization? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto,Uros78, via Flickr, kurichan*

More About: charity, how to, Mobile 2.0, non-profit, SMS donation, social good, text message donation campaign, text-to-donate

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Yahoo’s Q2 Revenues Fall As Display Ad Business Suffers

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 02:31 PM PDT

Yahoo's earnings and revenues fell in the second quarter as various factors — including a deal with Microsoft and executive shuffles — weighed on results.

Revenues for the quarter were $1.08 billion, a 5% drop from the comparable quarter in 2010. The figure was below analysts' estimate of $1.11 billion. In a statement, Yahoo blamed the shortfall on a search- and revenue-sharing agreement with Microsoft. The company inked a 10-year deal with Microsoft in 2009 in which the latter's Bing will be the search engine for all Yahoo sites. Meanwhile, net earnings for the quarter were up 11%, to $237 million.

Though display advertising is booming this year, Yahoo's share of the business isn't keeping pace with rivals like Facebook and Google. In Yahoo’s statement, CEO Carol Bartz (pictured) blamed the softness on “comprehensive changes we have made in our sales organization to position ourselves for more rapid display growth in the future."

Yahoo's earnings stand in marked contrast to those of Google’s, which posted revenues of $9 billion in its second quarter, a 32% jump over Q2 2010, and a net income of $2.5 billion, compared to $1.84 billion for the same period in 2010. Researcher IDC reported in May that Google, which surpassed Yahoo in search ad revenues years ago, now sells more display ads as well.

More About: advertising, display advertising, Google, Yahoo

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Some Apple Board Members Looked for a Steve Jobs Replacement [REPORT]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 02:06 PM PDT

Members of Apple's board talked to executive recruiters and at least one "head of a high-profile technology company" to succeed CEO Steve Jobs, according to a report.

The conversations, which "weren't explicitly aimed at recruiting a new chief executive and were more of an informal exploration of the company's options," took place when Jobs went on medical leave earlier this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple's board has seven directors, including Jobs. It appears the directors who made the inquiries were not acting on the full board’s behalf, the report says.

It’s not clear whether Jobs was aware of any of this. When The Wall Street Journal emailed Jobs, he replied, "I think it's hogwash."

Jobs took a leave of absence from Apple — his second in two years — on January 17. In a memo to his staff, Jobs said he was taking the leave to "focus on his health." Jobs said he would "continue as CEO and to be involved in major strategic decisions for the company."

Though Jobs didn't disclose the nature of his health problems, The Wall Street Journal revealed in 2009 that the first leave of absence was for a liver transplant. Since announcing the leave of absence, Jobs has appeared in public several times, most notably to deliver the keynote at WWDC 2011 in early June. Mashable‘s live blog of the event noted that Jobs was "looking thinner than ever, but sounding strong.”

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Rdio iPad App On Its Way

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 01:56 PM PDT

itunes image

Music subscription service Rdio will soon be releasing an iPad app, making it one of the few services of its kind to release such an offering (at least officially).

It’s not available yet — Apple has yet to approve it — but Rdio is saying that it will soon add an iPad app to its roster of platforms, including web, Mac and Windows desktop clients, mobile phone applications for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7, in-home devices like Sonos and Roku, and in the car on Pioneer AppRadio. News of the app’s existence leaked Tuesday, but Rdio does not know when the app will officially be available for download.

We will have a hands-on locked and loaded as soon as you can get your paws on Rdio for iPad, but we can tell you now that it will be a similar experience to Rdio as it appears on other platforms, complete with social aspects (the ability to follow friends and influencers), offline caching, user profiles (featuring user collections and activity), charts, playlisting, new releases, recommendations and artist radio stations. Users will have access to 9 million songs on the iPad, provided they are Rdio Unlimited subscribers (for $9.99 per month).

Among the many on-demand contenders, Rdio is one of the few to offer an iPad app (Pandora, which is not on-demand, was an early iPad adopter). Slacker Radio has an app designed for iPhone and iPad, and services like Spotify and MOG’s apps work on the iPad. But Rdio’s product was built especially for tablet use.

Again, this service is not yet available in the iTunes App store.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles

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Apple Sells 9 Million iPads & 20 Million iPhones in Third Quarter

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 01:41 PM PDT

Apple has just posted its third quarter earnings and with it, some huge sales numbers for iPad and iPhone.

The company sold 20.34 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads during the quarter, increases of 142 percent and 183 percent, respectively, versus the same period last year.

Those numbers, along with a 14% year-over-year increase in Mac sales, pushed Apple to record quarterly revenue of $28.57 billion and record quarterly net profit of $7.31 billion. Following the results, Apple now has more than $75 billion in cash.

In a statement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, “We're thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever, with revenue up 82 percent and profits up 125 percent. Right now, we're very focused and excited about bringing iOS 5 and iCloud to our users this fall."

In all, Apple has now sold more than 25 million iPads, with growth seemingly accelerating. In the company’s previous quarter, it sold 4.69 million iPads. The iPad 2 was introduced in March, towards the end of the company’s fiscal second quarter, meaning most of the third quarter’s iPad sales were for the new device.

Shares of Apple were trading up more than 5% to $397 per share in after hours trading — a new all-time high for the company.

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FBI Arrests 16 in Anonymous Hacking Investigation

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 01:26 PM PDT

The FBI is cracking down on the loosely affiliated hacking group Anonymous, whose members have claimed participation in just about every recent notable hacking attack.

Suspected members of the group were arrested Tuesday in Florida, New Jersey and California, was the first to report.

U.S. government officials told CBS News that the raid was a “major” operation and that arrests have been made across the country. later reported that while 14 arrests were identified in the same indictment, two additional arrests were made with regard to separate criminal complaints that were filed in Newark and Tampa.

Hacker arrests have recently eclipsed hacker mischief — like the Sony PSN takedown and the fake Obama assassination news posted on Fox News’ Twitter account — in news headlines.

The FBI issued more than 40 search warrants in January while investigating a string of cyberattacks in defense of WikiLeaks. Last month, Spain arrested three suspects in the Sony case. And days later, Turkey arrested 32 suspected hackers after government websites were attacked in protest to the country’s anticipated Internet filters.

More About: anonymous, arrests, FBI, hackers

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ESPN Releases Social Game for Sports Fans on Facebook

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 12:42 PM PDT

ESPN is mixing its sports prowess with the increasingly popular casual gaming sector by releasing its second social game, ESPN Sports Bar & Grill.

The game, now playing on Facebook, was developed in collaboration with Playdom and tasks players to run a virtual sports bar. It’s also presented by Samsung, which means Samsung products, including the Galaxy Tab, are integrated into gameplay.

In the always-on ESPN Sports Bar & Grill game, Facebook gamers level-up and keep the lights on in their sports bars by serving patrons beer and typical bar fare, completing challenges and earning sports collectibles.

These “sports bar owners” can also upgrade and decorate their bars as they go, pipe in a live feed of ESPN Radio through their bars’ virtual sound system and even show simulated live sports games — with actual scores updated in real time — on their virtual television sets.

Players already familiar with the Facebook-friendly FarmVille-style of casual gaming should feel at home while playing ESPN Sports Bar & Grill — and they can expect the game to require their frequent attention and become more involved with more play.

ESPN Sports Bar & Grill is the sports entertainment brand’s second social game in collaboration with Disney-owned Playdom. The first release, ESPNU College Town, debuted in September of last year. That game has more than 582,000 monthly active users and 60,000 people playing every day, a company spokesperson tells Mashable.

ESPN Sports Bar & Grill

Choose a Team

Wall Decorations


Game Predictor

Games on TV

Samsung Galaxy Tab Integration

Magazine Selection

Magazine Close-Up

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Time Unveils All Access Print, Online & Tablet Pricing Plan

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 12:20 PM PDT

Attempting to bridge the online and offline worlds, Time has announced an "All Access" payment plan that lets consumers get print, online and tablet versions of the title at one price.

The initial All Access plan charges $30 per year for 56 print issues plus full online access for tablet apps. There are also plans that charge per week ($4.99) and per month ($2.99). Yes, the weekly plan is more expensive than the monthly plan. The weekly price is the same as a print issue and includes access to all content, but not to the tablet edition. The monthly deal includes print issues plus the online content as well. Users can cancel the monthly plan at any point.

Before the All Access plans were announced, Time used to upload its full issue online two weeks after it hit the newsstand. Now, the new issue's content will be uploaded to every Thursday, but the content will only be available to All Access subscribers. An iPad version of Time had been available free to print subscribers since May.

Time is the second Time Inc. title to take the "all access" approach. Sports Illustrated began offering a similar plan in February.

More About: ipad, iPad 2, magazines, Sports illustrated, time

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7 Things Facebook Should Do To Increase Security [OPINION]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 12:00 PM PDT

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Eugene Kaspersky is CEO of Kaspersky Lab, the company he co-founded in 1997, which is now the world's largest, privately-held anti-malware company. You can follow him on Twitter @e_kaspersky and his blog at

For the past seven years we have seen how Facebook has dramatically changed the way people communicate while it has formed a new culture of online socializing.

For most people, Facebook has been about keeping in touch with friends and family in a totally new way. But for security researchers, such as myself, it has led to seven years of new challenges for the security industry. The main issue with social networking and security is that social networks are, well, social, and when the human mind gets involved, vulnerabilities can be exploited. I'm talking about human vulnerabilities, those against which it's hard to defend.

Many Facebook users lack knowledge and experience about how to protect themselves in the social networking environment, which has made the situation worse. Facebook appeals to new Internet users who often lack the computer savvy to identify online threats, and the most vulnerable segment of the audience — kids — have little life experience required to make reasonable decisions.

Because of this, I believe Facebook needs to enhance the security and privacy features of its site so the problems don't escalate out of control. With the help of my colleagues, here are seven key recommendations I believe will make Facebook a safer place:

1. Enforce Full HTTPS Browsing

This way, all users can make sure no one is snooping into their conversations, even if they're browsing Facebook through an untrusted Internet connection. Additionally, it will render attack tools such as Firesheep completely useless.

I admire the fact that Facebook has enabled optional HTTPS browsing in its recent security features roll-out. However, I don’t think the option is clearly marked enough for most users to find and utilize it. Therefore, I feel that this feature should be made mandatory for everyone.

2. Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Banks are offering e-tokens to their customers to safely access their online banking accounts; but in a world where social networking sites are becoming more and more important to what we do online, users should also have the same technology available for protecting their Facebook accounts.

This option should be enforced and mandatory, otherwise it may easily be lost in the depth of account settings. Following Facebook’s initiative to send verification codes via SMS, I suggest the company develop a mobile application that will generate a one-time password in addition to the master password. This way, an attacker would have to compromise not one, but two devices to access a Facebook account. This is not an easy task even for an experienced hacker.

3. Make Clear Which Facebook Apps Are Trusted

Malicious Facebook apps are being analyzed and reported by researchers on a daily basis. Facebook needs to perform a thorough security check and approve all incoming applications to make sure no malicious app makes its way onto a user's profile.

At the very least, allow users to add a list of trusted/approved applications to his or her profile. If the person wants to use an application that is not trusted, they should be able to run it in some sort of "profile sandbox," so that any malicious activity would not affect their friends and family.

4. Tighten the "Recommended" Privacy Controls

Currently, Facebook's recommended privacy settings easily allow for an attacker to become the friend of a friend of a target, and consequently to access data needed to reset a password for an email account, or to misuse other personal information. Why does Facebook allow "everyone" to access status, photos, posts, bio, favorite quotes and family and relationships by default?

In the security market we follow a simple rule that works: "Disable everything, then enable the things you really need." If Facebooks wants to take steps to actually make its site safer, the default setting should make personal information visible only to friends. Allow the users to decide later whether they want to change their data exposure.

5. Allow Permanent Deletion of Facebook Accounts

Permanently deleting a Facebook account should … permanently delete the account. Respect the user's will to entirely wipe out his presence on Facebook, without worrying that some materials have been left available on the Internet, and make permanent account deletion a simpler process that doesn’t require a special request to Facebook customer support.

6. Commit to Parental Controls

Allow parents to set up limited-access accounts for their children, as sub-accounts under their own Facebook presences. The limited sub-accounts could automatically be turned into full-access accounts once children reach the age of consent.

My colleagues and I support initiatives to protect users under 18, as expressed in California's SB242, which extends the opportunities for parents to control their children's social media accounts.

7. Better Educate Users

I value Facebook's commitment to educate users about security and privacy in social networks, including the initiative to set up dedicated Pages to these topics (Facebook Safety, Facebook Security and Facebook Privacy). However, no matter what sort of protection surrounds Facebook users, those privacy features will remain useless should users lack the awareness.

For this reason, I recommend extending the practice by introducing more opportunities for user education. A good example would be to launch daily webinars that cover the most important aspects of Facebook security in the clearest and simplest way possible for the general public.

It is also the belief of myself and my colleagues that a closer interaction with security vendors will assist in building a stronger community to bolster critical Facebook initiatives and allow for more informed decisions. An advisory board consisting of the most authoritative experts in the security community, and regular summits to review past and future initiatives could bring additional value to the development of a safer Facebook.

These are seven realistic, doable and actionable steps that can dramatically increase the safety and privacy of Facebook’s users. Of course, no technology can guarantee 100% security as long as the human factor is involved. Still, Facebook can and should do everything it can to protect its users and keep them safe.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, malerapaso

More About: facebook, letter, mark zuckerberg, op-ed, Opinion, privacy, safety, security, social media

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Jonnie Marbles Outs Himself as the Murdoch Pie Thrower on Twitter

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 11:45 AM PDT

The News of the World phone hacking scandal officially became stranger than fiction when a man interrupted the UK Parliament’s questioning of Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch Tuesday afternoon to push a pie (or a pie tin full of foam) into the elder’s face.

Besides reacting with a deluge of “humble pie” and “piegate” jokes, the Twitterverse immediately pointed to one man as the likely perpetrator.

@JonnieMarbles seemingly outed himself when he tweeted “It’s a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat” shortly before the attack — thus borrowing a line from actual fiction.

According to a YouTube video spotted by the The New York Daily News that @JonnieMarbles posted online last year, his real name is Jonathan May-Bowles.

He describes himself in his Twitter profile as an “activist, comedian, father figure and all-round nonsense” and had earlier sent several tweets that indicated he was at the Murdoch questioning.

UK Uncut, an activist group whose logo May-Bowles uses in his Twitter photo, defensively tweeted that “The pie in Murdoch’s face was NOT a UK Uncut action, everyone!”

A video from Sky News shows May-Bowles being chased by reporters as police officers lead him out of the room where Murdoch’s testimony was taking place.

“I hope you appreciate the irony that I cannot comment on an ongoing police investigation,” he says.

More About: Jonnie Marbles, Murdoch, News of the world, pie, rupert murdoch

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Musician St. Vincent Asks Fans To Help Unlock Videos & Track By Tweeting [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 11:36 AM PDT

Singer/songwriter St. Vincent’s new disc Strange Mercy drops in September, but Tuesday she’s asking fans to tweet using the hashtag #strangemercy to unlock a track, as well as a series of videos, on a dedicated website.

So far one video has been unlocked — see above — on the site, with three more to go until the MP3 is up for grabs.

St. Vincent, a.k.a Annie Erin Clark, tweeted about the campaign this afternoon, saying: “Please RT #strangemercy and help reveal all at

The tweet-to-unlock model seems to be catching on. Warner Bros. employed a similar method to reveal a picture from the much-anticipated Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, the other month, asking fans to use a hashtag to unlock the pic. And 3 Doors Down revealed a stream of its new disc in a similar way.

Bands and labels are becoming more innovative when releasing and teasing albums. The band Girls recently launched a widget that slowly revealed the cover of their third album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Manchester Orchestra used an interactive puzzle to unleash an album stream of its third album, Simple Math.

More About: Annie Erin Clark, music, St. Vincent

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Rupert Murdoch’s Pie Incident Prompts Witty Tweets [PICS]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 11:11 AM PDT

It was the splat heard around the world and Twitter offered an instant reaction.

Celebs like Roger Ebert, Simon Pegg and Seth Meyers weighed in on the Rupert Murdoch pie-attack incident, as did the alleged pie thrower himself, Jonnie Marbles. The hashtag #PieGate also quickly took hold.

Below, a sampling of the reactions to the incident, which delayed the UK parliament’s hearings on the News Corp phone hacking scandal for about 10 minutes. Seen any other witty Twitter reactions to Piegate? Let us know in the comments.

Johnnie Marbles

The alleged pie thrower moments before the incident.

Roger Ebert

Ebert, meanwhile, celebrated Murdoch's wife, Wendi.

Seth Meyers

Meyers, the Saturday Night Live news anchor, had a Seinfeldian reaction.

Simoen Pegg

Pegg's reaction was notable for its brevity.

Neil Gaiman

Afterwards, #piegate appeared to take off as a hashtag, leading writer Neil Gaiman to muse:

Keith Olbermann

Joel Klein, the Newsweek pundit, also got called to task for apparently sleeping during the hearings and, engaging in other notable behavior, as Keith Olbermann noted:

More About: Keith Olbermann, News Corp, phone hacking, roger ebert, rupert murdoch, seth meyers, Simon Pegg, twitter

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Former Reddit Employee Indicted, Charged With Data Theft

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 10:57 AM PDT

Former Reddit employee Aaron Swartz was indicted Tuesday on charges that he stole more than 4 million documents from MIT and academic journal and paper archive, JSTOR.

According to The New York Times, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz filed the charges after Swartz allegedly broke into MIT and stole the aforementioned documents.

The charges (which include wire fraud, computer fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer and criminal forfeiture) could garner Swartz, who is also founder and director of Demand Progress (a nonprofit that focuses on public policy and the Internet), up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

We’ve reached out to Demand Progress for comment.

Update: An earlier version of this story referred to Swartz as a Reddit co-founder. He refers to himself as such on his own site as does The New York Times. Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder, says Swartz’s company was acquired six months after Reddit was founded.

Update II: After a period of downtime, Demand Progress is out with a statement dealing with the indictment. The statement seems to deny that Swartz “broke into” MIT’s facilities, stating: “As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many scholarly journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading said articles is actually felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, walknboston

More About: Aaron-Swartz, JSTOR, legal, mit, reddit

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Google+ Gets The Social Network Parody Treatment [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 10:41 AM PDT

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

Just when we thought we’d seen the last of the ever-popular The Social Network parodies, someone went and skewered Google+ through that cinematic lens.

Early adopters, rabid invite seekers, Facebook deserters and the overwhelmingly male population of Google’s social network — this parody takes them all on.

Perhaps the frame of reference for the satire is a little stale (and the production quality isn’t all that swank), but anyone who has been following the rollout of Google+ should be able to squeeze a chuckle or two out of the above. Unless you don’t currently have an invite. In which case, sorry to rub it in.

Have a look at more parodies below (contains a bit of NSFW language):

1. The Google Minus Project

This is genius. No spoilers, but if you watch one parody video on Google+, we urge you to make it this one.

2. Dmitri Finds Out About Google Plus

Dmitri's journey of discovery continues as he's informed of the launch of the new tool and what it means for online privacy. His joy is, of course, evident.

3. Google- Anti-Social Network Preview

Did you think you were all cutting-edge with your Google+ invite? Well, Google Minus is the new Plus.

4. The Google+ Project: A Quick Look-See

In addition to its hilarious voiceover, this includes new footage separate from the original promo video.

5. Hitler Learns of Google Plus

It just had to be done (and it has been several times, but this version is our favorite) if only for the line spoken before the majority of the group leaves the room.

More About: Google, humor, pop culture, trending, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Alfred the iPhone Robot Tells You Where To Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 10:23 AM PDT

Your mobile phone can do just about anything. Now, your iPhone, with a little help from a robot named Alfred, may finally help you answer questions such as “Where should I eat?” and “What should I do?”

Alfred the robot is a Knight Rider-inspired character who lives inside the just-released iPhone application of the same name from startup Clever Sense. Teach him a little bit about your tastes, and he acts as an omniscient being who recommends — with confidence — nearby bars, restaurants, coffee shops and night clubs that you might like.

“Wherever you go, you need other entities who know you, who know your taste and who can actually provide you with highly curated personalized recommendations, just like a friend would do,” says Clever Sense co-founder Babak Pahlavan.

“What if users had these AI elements, elements that could actually learn about the places that you like for different purposes and then have them do the work for you?,” he adds. This is Alfred, says Pahlavan, which he describes as a Pandora for the real world.

Clever Sense, founded in 2008, spent more than two years building an artificial intelligence engine that can trawl the web for place data, as well as understand and describe places the way humans would. The end result is an interest graph for places that powers Alfred’s brain.

“On average,” Pahlavan says, “for every single place in our system, we have 200 to 400 attributes already discovered, based on how people talk about them.”

For the iPhone user who turns to Alfred to discover a new place to eat, Clever Sense’s artificial intelligence engine almost guarantees several solid suggestions.

During a demonstration of the application, after telling Alfred a few places I already enjoy, he was then able to make spot-on recommendations as to where I should I grab my next drink, coffee, lunch or date night dinner.

Alfred knows the context of your situation, including time of the day and location. He can also tell you what’s good and what you’ll want to avoid — information he gleans from reading through all the available Yelp reviews and plucking out the most pertinent details — at each venue.

“It’s like having a trusted personal robot at your disposal,” Pahlavan says.

Eventually, Alfred will work with your Foursquare checkin history for more fine-tuned place recommendations, as well as work across even more verticals — hotels, spas, wine, hair salons and so forth. Then, Alfred will even start suggesting targeted daily deals, predicting deals that you may actually want.

Mountain View-based Clever Sense, a startup that focuses on combining artificial intelligence and machine learning for its “serendipity engine,” has raised $1.6 million in Angel funding.

More About: Alfred, artificial intelligence, Clever Sense, iphone app, machine learning, Seymour, startup

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4 Ways In-App Purchasing Will Change Mobile

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 10:06 AM PDT

The Mobile App Trends Series is supported by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

Over the last few years, in-app purchases have become an increasingly common way for mobile app developers to enhance their mobile products and services.

Most prominently available for iPhone and Android, in-app purchases often seen as an alternative to the rising trend of in-app advertisements.

For many mobile developers and users, in-app purchases — and micro-transactions in general — are going to change mobile. We’ve highlighted some of those changes and offered up some examples already in the marketplace.

1. New Business Models

One of the most exciting aspect of in-app purchase features are the additional income streams or even alternative business models that app developers can derive from the feature.

As an example, iOS developer Smule first released Magic Piano for iPad as a paid app.

A year later, when the company released a version for the iPhone, the app itself was free, along with a few songs. Each Wednesday, additional songs are released, from popular artists like Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz and Britney Spears, that users can purchase using a type of custom currency known as Smoola.

Smoolas are sold in packs starting at $1.99 for 160 Smoolas and tracks range between 25 and 75 Smoolas each.

This type of secondary currency has already proved successful for game makers like Zynga on social web platforms. On the mobile side, one of the highest grossing games for iOS is Capcom’s Smurfs Village, despite the fact that the game itself is free.

2. Easy Access to Additional Content

Perhaps the most frequent use of in-app purchase is in adding additional content to existing applications. We frequently see this in games, where additional level packs can be added to a game and purchased by the consumer after the fact.

The net effect is that the game or app maker doesn’t need to release a brand new app just to add new levels. Plus, users get access to fresh content, prolonging the value of a game or app.

PlayFirst, Inc.’s Dash series of games for iOS takes advantage of the in-app purchase feature to add additional levels and scenarios to its games. Titles like Cooking Dash [iTunes link] sell for $2.99 and additional venues (consisting of 10 levels) sell for $0.99. These venues are added over time and keep users coming back to the game.

3. Offering Add-on Services and Features

Another frequent use of in-app purchase is the add-on services or features model. Similar to the additional content model, users can “unlock” or gain access to additional features in an app by way of in-app purchase.

This can be anything from some additional features or tools — say the ability to backup to Dropbox or better push notifications — and updates can also remove in-app annoyances, like advertising.

An “ad-free” option is frequently used by app developers that want to offer users a full-featured app experience, but still want to give users the ability to choose to opt out of advertisements, for a price.

The Iconfactory’s popular Twitterrific Twitter client for iOS uses both methods. The app itself is free and works with one Twitter account and has limited advertisements. For $4.99, users can purchase the premium version within the app which removes ads and and gives users the ability to use more than one Twitter account.

This is a great way for users to sample an app and then, if they find they need more advanced features, make the decision to enhance it using in-app purchase. Unlike the “lite” model sometimes employed by app makers, adding features and add-on services via in-app purchase doesn’t require the user to download yet another app and re-enter their settings.

4. Selling Physical Goods

Of course, mobile in-app purchase doesn’t have to be limited to digital goods. Physical purchases can be made using a mobile app, too.

Sure, traditional e-commerce sites like Amazon, NewEgg and Target all have in-app purchasing for physical items, but what about smaller developers who might only have a few items available?

The iPhone app Lifelapse is designed to take an image from your phone every 30 seconds, creating a time lapse-like effect of your entire day. The company also sells a companion physical case, called the Lifepouch to better aid Lifelapsers in capturing their images and events.

To facilitate sales of the Lifepouch within the app itself, the developers found a way to integrate their existing Shopify store into the app.

Lifelapse says that 20% of Lifepouch sales come from within the in-app store, which shows how powerful it can be. The company also blogged abut how it went about integrating the shop into their app and even provided the code on Github.

Your Thoughts

App developer and users, let us know how you are using in-app purchases. Do you find value in the model and what are the best practices you have discovered for gaining sales? Let us know in the comments.

Series Supported by Sourcebits

The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading developer of applications and games for all major mobile platforms. Sourcebits has engineered over 200 apps to date, with plenty more to come. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iPhone, Android and more. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out how we can help your app stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

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- 5 Innovative Mobile Marketing Campaigns to Learn From
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More About: in-app purchases, Mobile 2.0, Mobile App Trends Series

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The Interconnected World of Tech Companies [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 09:54 AM PDT

The “tech world” is really more of a “tech family.” Between digital giants’ appetites for acquisitions and the tendency of their ex-employees to start new companies, it’s easy to see how nearly every blip in the ecosystem is closely related.

We’ve mapped just a few of these family ties between “Xooglers,” the “PayPal Mafia”, “Softies” and the many other tech connectors who have yet to be nicknamed.

Our guess is that if you gathered a handful of tech veterans in a room, you could keep the tech connection game going forever. So while this graphic is hardly exhaustive, we’ll keep it going in the comments — feel free to add connections to the list!

Infographic design by Nick Sigler

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, BrianAJackson

More About: amazon, apple, ebay, facebook, Google, infographic, paypal, tech, tech world

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Google+ iPhone App Now Available

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 09:14 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.

Update: Google has already released an update to the Google+ app. For those that are having problems, check the App Store and download the latest version.

The official Google+ iPhone app is now available.

The app is available as a free download [iTunes link] from the App Store.

Here’s a list of the app’s features, along with their descriptions.

  • Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.
  • Stream is where you can get updates from your circles or see what people are saying about things nearby.
  • Huddle is super-fast group messaging for everyone in your circles.

First Impressions: Buggy, But Fun

First impressions of the app are that while useful, it’s buggy. The app doesn’t work on iOS 5 beta 3 — so cutting-edge adopters, you’re out of luck (for now) — and is crashing in iOS 4 at regular occurrences for some users.

Punit Soni, lead product manager for Google+ Mobile responded to some of the complaints on Google+ and he is promising updates.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Home Screen

The icon can also display notification badges, depending on your settings.

Getting Started

The opening app screen.

Main Screen

Google+ for iPhone is using the same layout that it uses on Android. The layout is also similar to what Facebook and other services use.


iPhone users now have access to various Huddles directly from the phone.


The stream defaults to a user's circles. You can switch to "nearby" an "incoming" by swiping forward or backward on the screen itself.


The default stream view is to show all of your circles.


You can also opt to view posts from people near you.

Render Fail

Google+ doesn't like in-stream YouTube videos. Expect this to get fixed soon.

View a Post

This is the single view of a post on Google+.

Post Options

You can mute or report a post from within the app.

User Info: About

User Info: Posts

User Info: Photos

Google+ Checkin

You can checkin directly from the app.

Notification Pop-up

Google+ cares about your privacy!

Creating a Post

Creating a Post with a Screenshot

This is a screenshot of a screenshot with the same screenshot embedded. How meta is that!

Google+ App Info


This gets old FAST. Fortunately, you can turn off notifications.

Notification Settings

More About: Google, Google Plus, iOS apps, iphone apps, trending

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Rupert Murdoch Attacked During Phone Hacking Hearing [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 09:11 AM PDT

The testimony of Rupert and James Murdoch before the UK Parliament about the ongoing phone hacking scandal was temporarily suspended following an attack on the elder Murdoch.

Photos and videos capturing the moment are now circulating, showing what appears to be a pie tin full of foam being pushed towards Murdoch’s face. As you can see in the video, Murdoch’s wife quickly rose to protect her husband, though CNN reports he was “hit squarely in the face” by the foam pie.

As of 12:10 p.m. ET, the hearing had resumed with Murdoch showing no signs of injury. Police have an unidentified perpetrator in custody, though many are now speculating it was UK comedian Jonnie Marbles who tweeted “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat” shortly before the attack. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted “Hearing protestor was Jonathan May Bowles – @jonniemarbles on twitter.”

More to come.

More About: News Corp, News of the world, rupert murdoch

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