Friday, 22 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Behold: The Insides of New MacBook Air”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Behold: The Insides of New MacBook Air”

Behold: The Insides of New MacBook Air

Posted: 22 Jul 2011 02:21 AM PDT

The folks at iFixit have done it again. One day after the official launch of Apple’s refreshed MacBook Air, they tore the poor little laptop to pieces and thoroughly examined it.

The new generation of MacBook Air is almost identical to the previous one, but it has some notable differences. For example, the SSD is not soldered to the motherboard, meaning you can replace it with a more spacious one.

You will not, however, be able to upgrade RAM memory, and the entire thing is not very easy to put back together once you’ve opened it up, so you might want to think twice before doing so.

Check out iFixit’s extremely thorough teardown here.

More About: iFixit, macbook air, teardown

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Google Doodle Honors Mobile Artist Alexander Calder

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 10:28 PM PDT

A new interactive Google doodle has appeared on, honoring artist Alexander Calder, who is known for inventing the mobile.

As you click and drag with your mouse, the various sections of the mobile move around. According to the official Google Blog, it’s the first doodle Google’s made that uses HTML5 Canvas, so its creators recommend that you use “a modern browser.”

We noticed the interactive animation works on Google‘s Chrome 12 browser, but not on Firefox 5.0 or Internet Explorer 9. We’re also seeing reports that the animation causes a crash in Firefox on Linux, so if that’s your browser, you might want to avoid this doodle. Note that others are reporting these browsers are able to display the animation. Best way to find out if yours works is to go to and try it.

SEE ALSO: Google's Musical Doodle Lives On — On Its Own Web Page

According to Google software engineer Jered Wierzbicki,

“It runs a physics simulation on the mobile's geometry, and then does realtime 3D rendering with vector graphics. Only recently have browsers advanced to the point where this is possible.”

It’s a graceful work of art that the Googlers have created here, with pieces of the mobile interacting with each other and with your cursor, just the way a mobile in the physical world would work. Notice the additional, subtle detail — the mobile’s shadow on the “floor” underneath. Brilliant.

Alexander Calder, who died in 1976, would have been 113 today.

Here are some other animated Google doodles you’ll enjoy:

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Charlie Chaplin Google Doodle

The Google Doodle team stars in an homage to the silent film era's greatest star's 122nd birthday, April 15, 2011.

Google Logo Repelled by Cursor

This one's done in HTML5 and was published Sept. 7, 2010. To get the full effect, here's one you can interact with.

John Lennon Google Doodle

This Doodle commemorated John Lennon's 70th birthday in October 2010.

Martha Graham

Debuting May 10, 2011, this Google Doodle marks dance choreographer Martha Graham's birthday.

Robert Bunsen

Commemorated the birthday of the inventor of the Bunsen burner, German chemist Robert Bunsen on March 31, 2011.

Thomas Edison

The great inventor's birthday was honored on February 11, 2011.

Independence Day

Marking Independence Day 2010.

Pac-Man's 30th Anniversary

A real crowd pleaser was this playable Pac-Man game, which appeared on May 21. 2010. Here's a playable version.

Check out the latest Google doodle at

More About: Alexander Calder, animation, Calder, google doodle, interactive doodles, trending

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We&Co Aims To Turn the Checkin Into the Thank You

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 09:27 PM PDT

A new startup is hoping to flip the paradigm in location-based mobile apps by focusing not on the checkin, but on the thank you.

We&Co is a new iPhone app that is designed to connect patrons with the people that work at the businesses they visit. The app [iTunes link] is designed to let users give thanks to their favorite service professionals. So when I check in at my favorite neighborhood steampunk bar, I can make sure I give my favorite bar tender Sara, or the owner Anders, a big thank you for being awesome.

In turn, businesses can then reward frequent customers and users with special perks or discounts. Businesses can also opt to give frequent visitors a special “regulars” designation that entitles them to discounts and offers.

As more businesses and service people in your area get thanked, you can browse through the app to find those with the best reputations and the most thanks. You can also see how people you know have rated various employees or service individuals.

We&Co also has features for businesses, including letting them add employees to the system and designate the most-thanked person as “the boss.” Businesses can also choose what to offer “Regulars” as incentives or perks for being frequent guests.

The app is well designed, and the idea of connecting small businesses with their patrons, using the power of location-based networks has a lot of promise. Still, if you wonder how this differs from a service such as Yelp, you aren’t alone.

The biggest differentiator between We&Co and Yelp, or even Foursquare, is that rather than rating a restaurant or stylist, you’re rating the person behind the counter and only highlighting the times you get excellent customer service. We&Co thank yous can be syndicated back to Facebook or Twitter. While it looks like We&Co is using Foursquare’s location API, the app currently doesn’t let you check in using Foursquare. Having that ability would greatly drive utility for the app and also work well with small businesses that already have Foursquare promotions.

What do you think of service-centric location-based apps? Let us know in the comments.

More About: foursquare, iphone apps, location based social networks, we and co

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Apple to Buy Hulu? [REPORT]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:13 PM PDT

Apple could be considering a purchase of popular online video service Hulu, according to “two people who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.”

The two sources spoke with Bloomberg, calling the negotiations “early talks that may lead to an offer for Hulu.”

The Hulu rumor mill was already heating up over the past few days — we reported about a bidding war for Hulu, which is shopping itself around to potential acquirers after deciding not to go through with a $2 billion IPO.

Sweetening the deal is a promise of five years of programming for Hulu’s highest bidder, including two years of exclusivity for the programming on Hulu, consisting of content from the Walt Disney Company, News Corp. and Comcast's NBC Universal.

While Microsoft is reportedly not interested in a second round of bidding for the online video company, Yahoo is still in play. Business Insider reported on Tuesday that the price for the premium online service could reach $2 billion.

More About: apple, hulu, microsoft, nbc universal, News Corp, trending, Walt Disney Company, Yahoo

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Justin Bieber Posts on Instagram, Quickly Gets Thousands of Followers [PIC]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 07:24 PM PDT

Justin Bieber just posted his first photo on an Instagram account, and according to, he garnered more than 1,700 followers in his first hour of using the service.

How do we know it’s actually Justin Bieber’s account? First, Bieber linked to this picture from his Twitter account.

The fact that this is Justin Bieber’s account was confirmed by Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom, who told TechCrunch that the gigantic hoard of users to suddenly converge upon Instagram were there because Bieber had posted his first Instagram photo.

According to, which measures influence in the photo sharing space, “Bieber’s numbers are already off the chart.” That’s what happens when you’re an Internet celebrity with 11.2 million followers on Twitter. At this rate, he could become one of the 15 top Instagram users overnight.

So “La traffic sucks,” Mr. Bieber? Who knew he had to deal with L.A. traffic? We thought he flew around in a helicopter, or at least had a constant police escort.

Graphic courtesy Instagram/Justin Bieber

More About: celebrity, instagram, justin bieber, twitter

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Small Business Podcasting: 7 Tips to Grow Your Listener Base

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 06:07 PM PDT

Mignon Fogarty is the founder and managing director of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasting network and the author of the New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She's been podcasting for more than five years, and distributes her content through her own website, iTunes, Stitcher SmartRadio and elsewhere.

Sure, Adam Carolla can start a podcast and break the world record for podcast downloads by its second year. But you, sir, are no Adam Carolla. Celebrities aren't clamoring to visit your garage for an interview, and you didn't have your own radio show for 10 years. Should you even bother podcasting?

Yes, you should — because it's an easy, inexpensive way to reach your customers and build a platform, and you can do it. You just have to do it differently from the Adam Carollas, ESPNs and NPRs of the world. Here are seven tips from my own podcast experience:

1. Evergreen Content

The secret sauce for independent podcasters is evergreen content. Like a pine tree, an evergreen piece means the post will still be relevant (or "green") two years from now. This type of content can include tips, resources, how tos, tricks of the trade and even personal stories. As one of my marketing colleagues said, "That educational stuff is like crack for podcast listeners."

A few months ago, I personally did an analysis of the top 200 podcasts on iTunes and found that more than 65% of the shows were produced by people or companies with megawatt name recognition. Of the shows that weren't as preordained for success, more than 80% delivered some kind of evergreen content: language lessons, sex tips, non-time sensitive stories, etc. Evergreen content is the most effective means of gaining traffic for independent podcasts.

2. Plant a Tree, Not Pansies

At the independent podcast network I founded, older shows comprise more than 70% of our new downloads. With evergreen content, you're planting a tree that will produce fruit every year.

3. Water Regularly

Don't bother starting a podcast if you can't commit to a regular production schedule. But again, you are not Adam Carolla — weekly content is good enough, although couple of our shows get away with a bimonthly schedule. Listeners just need to know when to expect new material.

4. Grow Your Platform

Adam Carolla used his existing radio audience to launch a podcast. You, on the other hand, will use your podcast to build a platform. Your platform participants are interested in your work, whether it's books, speaking gigs, webinars or plush toys. At my site, which is backed by Macmillan publishers, podcasters who gain traction are more likely to get book deals.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Prune, Repot or Trash Your Podcast

A podcast takes time to grow, and it should be part of a bigger marketing strategy that includes blogging, tweeting, social media pages and perhaps video. But if your podcast isn't generating traffic, comments, emails or sales, don't be afraid to trash it and plant something new. I produced a science podcast before developing Grammar Girl, and Cali Lewis of Geek Beat hosted a religion podcast before finding her tech groove.

6. Follow the Light

In terms of distribution, you're probably more like Adam Carolla than you think. You should distribute your podcast via your website (the number of people who listen directly from websites is growing, according to Edison Research). Furthermore, invest a smidgen of effort by directing listeners to iTunes; the Zune Marketplace; the BlackBerry and Nokia podcast portals; set-top boxes like Roku and Boxee; your own iPhone, iPad, and Android apps; and other smartphone podcast distributors.

7. The Fruit

Some businesses may consider podcasts a justifiable marketing expense, but don't forget that podcasts can also generate revenue.

You probably won't be able to employ salespeople like the big guys, but you can work with the major podcasting ad brokers (RawVoice, Podtrac and Wizzard) to find advertisers, sell premium content and develop smartphone apps.

If you're avoiding brokered ads, don't yet have your own product to sell, or just want more options, you can also consider affiliate advertising. It's tough, but if you can find the perfect product — one for which you can give an honest, personal recommendation – an affiliate program can be a great option.

The recession hasn't bypassed podcasting, but I've noticed a promising new trend. While we used to be dependent on a couple of large advertisers, today, more and more small companies are providing advertising services. It can be challenging to manage multiple advertisers, but your business may be healthier in the long run.

Good businesses don't need to break world records to consider their podcasting efforts a success. If your business goal is to connect with your customer base while generating some extra revenue, you should consider podcasting.

Images courtesy of Flickr, tartanpodcast, Johan Larsson.

More About: broadcast, business, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0, podcast, podcasting, programming, web

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View From Above: First Space View of Shuttle Reentry [PICS]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 05:05 PM PDT

Soon after the space shuttle Atlantis pulled away from the International Space Station for the last time, the space station crew took this first-of-a-kind shot of the shuttle’s fiery reentry.

As NASA described it:

This unprecedented view of the space shuttle Atlantis, appearing like a bean sprout against clouds and city lights, on its way home, was photographed by the Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background.

There have been plenty of photos of the shuttle’s reentry taken from the perspective of Earth, but this is the first one taken from the space station as the shuttle slowed down from 17,500 mph to zero after it landed for the last time at Cape Canaveral Thursday morning.

It was a successful end of the last mission of the space shuttle program. Here’s a gallery of the mission:


Photo courtesy of NASA.


Photo courtesy of NASA.


Photo courtesy of NASA.


Photo courtesy of NASA.

Solid Rocket Booster Separation

Photo courtesy of NASA.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Mashable Media Badge

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

NPR Tweeted

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Official Launch M&Ms

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Elmo Reports Launch

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Media Getting Signals

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

@SethGreen Tweeted

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Participants

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Participants

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Badge

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Participants

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Participants

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Tweetup Participants

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

@schierholz Handed Out M&Ms

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

@schierholz Tweeted

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

@schierholz's Badge

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Shuttle Atlantis

Shuttle Atlantis moves into the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Atlantis Sunrise

The sun rises over the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Atlantis Sunset

Sunset over Launch Pad 39A before the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module (MPLM) is delivered.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Atlantis Sunrise

Another sun rises over the Shuttle Atlantis.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Crew Celebrates

The STS-135 crew wave American flags in honor of Independence Day. From left: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Crew Heads for Final Launch Preparation

The STS-135 team departs for the Astronaut Crew Quarters in Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Firing Room 4

In Firing Room 4, NASA team members prepare for launch.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Launch Pad

Atlantis was "hard down" at its seaside launch pad by 3:29 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 1.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Atlantis Flag

The Atlantis flag flutters below the American flag.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Launch Pad

A view of the launch pad from across the water.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Media Gathers

News crews prepare their equipment at tents near the launch pad.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Media Tents

Two-tier media tents provide better views of the Atlantis.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Launch Clock

Ryan Matzner, lead strategist at Fueled, a mobile app development firm, stands in front of the countdown-to-launch clock.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Media Tripods

Media stakes out their turf with tripods aimed at the shuttle launch.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.


Media and spectators alike participate in the lunch Tweetup.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

En Route

The van will lead the procession of astronauts to the shuttle.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

En Route

The astronauts en route to the launch pad.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

En Route

Precious cargo on the way to the launch pad.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Vehicle Assembly Building

An impressive spectacle in itself, the Vehicle Assembly Building has been used to assemble NASA vehicles since 1968. It is the largest single-story building in the world.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

Vehicle Assembly Building

A view of the vehicle assembly building.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Matzner.

More About: landing, last mission, NASA, reentry photo, space, space shuttle endeavor, trending

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Look, A Monkey Playing With An iPhone [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 04:27 PM PDT

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

Everyone loves a good animal-playing-with-technology video, which is why we’ve chosen this vid of a monkey monkeying around with an iPhone as our YouTube Video of the Day.

Also because this heat wave is making it so hot and disgusting in New York that this is about as much mental stimulation as we can handle right now.

h/t Connie Preti

More About: heat wave, iphone, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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OS X Lion Downloads Top 1 Million in 24 Hours

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 03:50 PM PDT

Mac OS X Lion has been downloaded more than one million times in its first day of release. Lion is the first Mac OS X release to be available exclusively through the Mac App Store.

According to Apple, OS X Lion is selling faster than any other OS release in Apple’s history. Available for just $29.99, Lion adds new features like multi-touch gesture support, auto-save and auto-resume features and updated performance and usability features under the hood.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Do a Clean Install of OS X Lion

It’s been a successful week for Apple. Not only did the company report record earnings, it also released updated versions of the MacBook Air, Mac mini and Apple Cinema Display.

For those that haven’t taken the upgrade plunge, be sure to check out our guides for preparing your Mac for Lion and doing a clean install.

More About: apple, lion, mac os x lion, mac software, OS X Lion, trending

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Google & Facebook Set Company Records for Lobbyist Spending

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 02:58 PM PDT

Google and Facebook both spent more money on lobbyists this quarter than they ever have before, according to disclosure documents filed Wednesday.

It’s been one quarter since Facebook offered an explanation of its privacy efforts to the FTC and one month since Google confirmed it was the target of an FTC antitrust investigation. Now it seems both tech giants have decided to pay more attention — and more cash — to Washington.

Google increased its lobbyist spending from $1.48 million in the first quarter to $2.06 million in the second. For the first time, the company is spending more on lobbyists than Microsoft. Meanwhile, Facebook increased its spending from $230,000 in the first quarter to $320,000 in the second. Before this year, the highest amount the social network had reported spending on lobbyists in one quarter was $130,000.

It’s not unusual for large companies to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists each quarter. In the most recent quarter, Sony, Tyson and Walmart paid out $490,000, $600,170 and $1,490,000 respectively. General Electric spent a whopping $6.8 million. But both Google and Facebook are on rather unusually steep spending curves.

So what problems are the tech giants trying to resolve?

Google lists regulation of online advertising, privacy issues, immigration (involving Ph.D’s), openness and competition in online services, and cloud computing among its target issues.

Facebook’s somewhat shorter list includes international regulation of software companies and restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and federal privacy legislation.

More About: facebook, Google, lobbyists

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Skype CEO Teases In-Call Ads

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 02:30 PM PDT

You may soon be seeing and sharing advertisements during your Skype calls, if the company’s new CEO has his way.

Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Tony Bates discussed ways he might monetize the popular Internet phone service, once its $8.5 billion acquisition by Microsoft is completed.

“Obviously, there’s a very rich long-term advertising play,” Bates said. “The one I want to tease right now is in-call advertising. The average length of a video call is going up — it’s about 27 minutes now — and you’re doing a lot of things in that time. If we’re talking, you’re not just looking at me, so we have a lot of opportunities there.”

Asked if that might involve ordering a pizza, for example, Bates responded: “Why not? Why not, because we have this intimate relationship, at the end of the call, I share an ad with you? Watch this space. We think this is going to be a very exciting area.”

Bates, a former executive at Cisco, was tapped as Skype CEO back in October. After the Microsoft acquisition, he says, he is committed to staying in charge of Skype, which will be run as a separate division — an unprecedented level of independence for a company snapped up by the software giant.

In March, the company began rolling out advertising from major sponsors on its homepage. Bates didn’t say whether in-call ads would appear as pop-ups, audio ads or some other form, but it seems Skype is considering all its options.

More About: advertising, microsoft, Skype, Tony Bates

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Microsoft Posts Record Revenues Despite Soft Windows Sales

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 02:13 PM PDT

Microsoft posted record fourth-quarter and full-year revenues despite sluggish sales of Windows and PCs, which were impacted by Apple's iPad and iPad 2.

Microsoft reported Q4 revenues of $17.4 billion, an 8% jump over the same quarter in 2010. Revenues for its fiscal year, which ended June 30, were also a record $69.9 billion, up 12% from fiscal 2010.

The company’s net income for the quarter was $5.87 billion. For the year, it was $23.2 billion. Those were increases of 30% and 23%, respectively.

Bright spots for fiscal 2011 included the Microsoft Business Division, which grew its revenues 16% for the year, and Server & Tools, which expanded 11%. Online Services revenues also jumped 15%, driven by the growth of Bing, the company's search engine. Entertainment & Devices grew its revenues 45% for the year thanks to the successful Kinect introduction and continued strong sales for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

On the other hand, Windows and Windows Live revenues fell 2% for the year even though Windows 7 sold more than 400 million licenses. Microsoft estimates that sales of PCs to consumers fell 1% for the fiscal year, though sales of PCs to businesses rose 11%.

The company's earnings compare unfavorably with Apple's Q3 earnings, which were also announced this week. Apple's quarterly revenues hit a record $28.57 billion and earnings were another record at $7.31 billion. Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the quarter, an increase of 183% compared to the same period in 2010. Mac sales also jumped 14%.

Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft aren't the only ones recording record quarters — Intel and Google also broke records this month.

More About: apple, Google, intel, ipad, iPad 2, kinect, microsoft, Windows, xbox

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Comic-Con 2011 Has Arrived [PICS]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 01:45 PM PDT

Comic-Con International has once again descended upon on San Diego. As usual, comic lovers, would-be super heros, movie buffs, costume wearers, celebrities and, of course, Twihards have taken over the city’s Convention Center and Gaslamp District.

Digital, social media and social gaming are recurring themes at this year’s show. Entertainment Weekly, in partnership with NowLive, is streaming coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2011.

Showtime has a huge presence. The network is aggressively promoting all of its shows — especially with cast signings, sessions and bus decals — and will be hosting a party Thursday evening to preview the Dexter Slice of LIfe social game for Facebook. We hear the game will allow players to stalk their victims and satisfy the “dark passenger.”

Even group texting app GroupMe is riding the Dexter-Comic-Con wave. The Dexter mobile application was updated Thursday with the GroupMe API to allow fans to chat with their friends from inside the application.

Digital comics and entertainment platform has traveled to the southwest to reach a captive comic book audience. In anticipation of the show, the startup souped-up its comic reader to include interactive and rich media extras.

Speaking of comic books, the hot iOS and Android game Cut the Rope is getting the comic book treatment thanks to a licensing agreement with Ape Entertainment. Comic-Con attendees can check out a preview of the graphic novel series and look out for Om Nom on the show floor.

There’s also a QR code scavenger hunt for Voltron fans. “The Hunt to Form Voltron” tasks attendees to find the five Voltron lion standees and their corresponding QR codes for a chance to win prizes from THQ, Mattel, WEP, Viz Media and Classic Media.

Plus, take a stroll through the Comic-Con Expo Hall and you’ll see a bevy of Facebook and Twitter decals tacked on to booths as brands big and small attempt to promote their social media accounts.

And we’re just scratching surface. Seeing or hearing about anything digital or social media-related at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments.

Check out our photos from the Expo Hall floor and the surrounding San Diego downtown area.

Comic-Con 2011

Comic-Con 2011

Comic-Con 2011

Comic-Con 2011

View From the Pedestrian Bridge

A pedestrian bridge, adjacent to Petco Park, opened earlier in the year. Comic-Con attendees now have a better way to cross between the Convention Center and the downtown area.

The Pedestrian Bridge

Twilight Lines

Twilight fans wait in line for a sneak peek at the upcoming movie.

Comic-Con 2011

Twilight fans wait in line for a sneak peek at the upcoming movie.

Comic-Con 2011

Comic-Con Lines

Lines, lines, lines and more lines. Comic-Con attendees won't be able to escape them.

Comic-Con Swag Bag

Come to Comic-Con and you'll get one of these ginormous bags to tote around all of your swag.

Comic-Con Programs

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Todd McFarlane Signs Autographs

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

The LEGO Booth

LEGO provided a bevy of LEGOs for children and adults to play with.

The LEGO Booth

The LEGO Booth

LEGO provided a bevy of LEGOs for children and adults to play with.

The LEGO Booth

The LEGO Booth

The LEGO Booth

New Super Hero LEGOs

New Super Hero LEGOs

New Super Hero LEGOs

New Super Hero LEGOs

New Super Hero LEGOs

New Super Hero LEGOs

The LEGO Booth

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall



Mattel Booth

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

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Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

The Nick Shop

The Nick Shop

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Look, It's Hulk Hogan!

Hulk Hogan signs autographs at Comic-Con.

Look, It's Hulk Hogan!

Hulk Hogan signs autographs and poses for pictures at Comic-Con.

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Inside the Comic-Con Expo Hall

Cut the Rope at Ape Entertainment Booth

Comic-Con 2011

Comic-Con 2011

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Pop-Up Food Truck Court

Pop-Up Food Truck Court


Hugh Jackman promotes Real Steel at Comic Con by posing with fans.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Hugh Jackman at Comic Con

Hugh Jackman promotes Real Steel at Comic Con by passing out film posters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

More About: comic-con, comic-con 2011, cut the rope, dexter,, san diego comic con, sdcc, social media

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Gorillaz Frontman Recording in Congo for a Cause

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 01:29 PM PDT

albarn image

Gorillaz fans get ready, Damon Albarn — the man behind the animated band and Brit rockers Blur — is teaming up with Oxfam and some musician friends to record an album for charity in the Congo.

The project, called DRC Music, is led by Albarn, with producers including Dan the Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine, T-E-E-D and local Congolese musicians. The team aims to create an album in just seven days, the proceeds of which will go towards supporting Oxfam‘s work in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

The DRC is home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises due to deep poverty and poor living conditions, according to Oxfam. The World Bank claims the nation is still fragile after a series of internal conflicts during the nineties with 2.3 million displaced persons. The DRC is one of the poorest performers in The World Bank’s business index.

DRC Music has taken a social spin on the project, starting up a Facebook page, Twitter account, and tumblr where it posts clips, updates and photos from the studio.

While Albarn is best known for his quirky, devil-may care music, he is a long-time supporter of philanthropic causes. Albarn visited Mali with Oxfam in 2001 to produce a similar project and later traveled to Nigeria to record.

It’s great that Albarn and the team aren’t just air-lifting in to record but are seeking out Congolese musicians to participate. DRC Music is raising money for a cause while shining a light on Congolese culture and musical traditions.

What do you think? Does this sound like an album you’ll buy? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Rigmarole

More About: blur, congo, congolese, damon albarn, drc, drc music, gorillaz, oxfam

For more Social Good coverage: Scores Licensing Agreement With BMI

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 01:12 PM PDT

Right after securing a licensing agreement with ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), startup has inked another deal — this time with Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI).

BMI — which, like ASCAP, licenses and collects royalties for a massive back catalog of tunes — announced the agreement via its website. The company said that now has use of its more than 6.5 million works in the U.S.

These deals, along with last week’s stateside Spotify launch, signal that the traditional music world is becoming increasingly comfortable with digital experiments. (it’s beta, but can be accessed if one has a Facebook friend using the site) has been taking the web by storm of late, amassing around 300,000 users and tons of buzz. It’s a series of musical chatrooms in which five DJs can spin tracks on demand via Medianet or by uploading their own music. Some users have wondered if the site is wholly legal, and has been doing everything it can to stay within the law — itshut down international usage recently in an effort to stay Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)-compliant (the DMCA is U.S.-only).

Now, with the site gaining legitimacy day by day, we’re curious to see what happens when it finally comes out of beta and opens to the country at large.

More About: ASCAP, BMI, music licensing, startup,

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Double Rainbow Guy Is Running for President via Facebook; You Can Too

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 12:41 PM PDT

Paul Vasquez is better known to the Internet as the “Double Rainbow Guy.” He lives in a mobile home just outside of Yosemite National Park, tinkers in organic farming and alternative energy, and is famous for his exuberant appreciation of nature’s post-rain light display.

Derek Broes lives in Los Angeles. He is the former senior vice president of the digital division at Paramount Pictures and spent four years running global wireless strategy for Microsoft.

Possibly the only thing that Vasquez and Broes have in common: they are both running for president in 2012. And unless you happen to be Facebook friends with either man, you probably haven’t noticed.

Votocracy: “Your Personal Campaign Machine”

While mainstream candidates like Mitt Romney and President Obama are set to campaign and debate in person, candidates like Vasquez and Broes are stating their positions and taking questions on a Facebook app called Votocracy.

“The packaging that we're accustomed to in politics — it's really difficult for that to survive in social media,” says Votocracy founder and CEO Bryan Lee. Networks like Facebook, he says, are “more connected, more human, more raw” than traditional campaigning.

Lee, who has held executive positions at both Sony and Microsoft, launched the platform on June 1. Since then, about 370 people have announced their intentions to run for president using it. The sign-up cost is $99, but don’t worry if that’s too rich for your blood. Candidates can start by putting as little as $1 toward this fee and collect the rest from their supporters. Compare that to the $8,100 you would have to spend just to get on the ballot in all 50 states, according to the nonpartisan newsletter Ballot Access News.

Candidates collect supporters by getting people to “Like” their votocracy pages. Vasquez’s page has about 50 such supporters. Broes’s page has about 40. Right now, most candidates on the site have fewer than five supporters.

By 2012, there will be one official Votocracy candidate. The plan is to host online primaries for every state — and Washington, D.C. — to determine a winner from each. Then the 51 final contestants compete in a televised race that looks something like American Idol, although Votocracy doesn’t have an official TV deal just yet.

To Be President or To Be Heard?

Paul Vasquez, the “double rainbow guy,” is running for president on the Votocracy platform. His campaign video, above, has almost 10,000 views.

Presidential prospects for anyone running on Votocracy seem slim. But that’s not necessarily how the candidates see it.

“A new candidate will arise out of this,” Broes says. “There will be new people that are recognized in the political arena because they didn't have to wiggle their way into the club to gain equal exposure and a serious evaluation of their ideas and points of view.”

For Vasquez, who is running with the campaign slogan “Emergency! Alternative Energy!”, the point of the race is less about being president and more about being heard.

“If people could pay attention to what I'm doing,” he says in the same tone that made his rainbow video an instant YouTube sensation, “then maybe they'll have a revelation that these are the things that are important and we need to be focusing on them.”

Social Media & the American Dream

Votocracy plans to help people connect on issues, by matching people based on similar political beliefs (“You might find out that Joe in Indiana or Tom in Kentucky answers questions like you do,” says Lee). But it also promises an American dream: “With Votocracy, anyone with the passion to run for president – including you – can get involved, get heard, and attract supporters from all across the country… without political experience or big financial backers,” reads the app’s homepage.

We have long been teaching our kids that anyone can be president of the United States. In a world that increasingly creates its own media, is this more likely? And if so, should we select our presidential candidates the same way that we select our pop idols?

"Our elected officials really reflect the media of the day,” Lee says. “FDR was classically called the radio president, and then we had Kennedy and Reagan and Clinton who are television presidents. And when social media becomes the media of the day, it's going to be fun to see what kind of politician emerges from that."

More About: 2012 campaign, double rainbow guy, double-rainbow, facebook, politics, votocracy

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How the Digital World Is Changing the Way Agencies Do Business

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 12:00 PM PDT

The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. The smartphone is quickly overtaking the cellphone and tablet use is growing. Those statistics were found from the 14,000 that participated in the IDG Global survey . To view the worldwide survey with slides, click here.

Social media has fundamentally changed the way agencies work. In a recent interview with Mashable, Razorfish's Grant Owens predicted that agencies will become much smaller — hiring more generalists and less specialists.

As the technology and client expectations continue to advance, agencies — PR, marketing, media and advertising — will continue to evolve. Will companies become leaner or will they need to staff up? What does that mean for campaign costs and hiring trends? We asked three people from different types of agencies to offer their viewpoints:

Though we’re already working harder, longer and faster, some experts predict agencies will become leaner because companies will hire people who can execute multiple aspects of a campaign. Do you agree with this assessment? Why or why not?

Rachel Kay: A decade ago agencies were much more focused in their service offerings, so wearing multiple hats within an organization was a lot less common. As PR people, we created the communication, the creative agency did the artwork and the media buying agency handled the ad buy. Today, agencies are finding it's more lucrative to own as much of a campaign as possible, and having talent who can take ideas through fruition is definitely more coveted. In addition, there's a lot more grey area in terms of where things like social media content development reside. It's really up for grabs if your agency has the talent to execute. So, I'd argue that brands are becoming leaner in terms of resources, while agencies are actually expanding the breadth of their service offerings.

Todd Defren: I see little evidence of this concept. While it's true that we're working longer/harder/faster, the number of people required to execute across varied campaigns has only grown. Quite honestly, the more success a company has in social media, the more ambitious they become and the higher the expectation from consumers. Thus, we see demands for more community managers, more writers, more producers, etc.

David Griner: Personally, I think this is a golden age for mid-sized agencies, which were said to be dying just a few short years ago. Agencies like ours have never had the luxury of abundant staffing, so we’ve had to focus on assembling a team big enough to manage all our client work, but cross-talented enough to leave plenty of room for growth. But larger shops could definitely shed some weight as “specialized” fields like social media marketing become standard marketing practices.

If agencies do become more streamlined, what does this mean for campaign costs? Will brands be able to capitalize on an economy of scale because teams will consist of a few people who can “do it all” instead of having a larger group of people with specialized skill-sets?

“Today, agencies are finding it's more lucrative to own as much of a campaign as possible.”

Rachel Kay: In this new landscape, brands and companies are able to enjoy reduced campaign costs because agencies are able to offer more in terms of skill. For example, we are a PR agency, but we've run significant Facebook advertising campaigns for our clients that we can fold into an affordable retainer that complements our existing communication efforts. That way, our clients aren't at the mercy of hiring a separate agency to handle something that is very communication-based in nature. In addition, companies are choosing more online-driven campaigns, which tend to be less costly than something like an extensive street team effort.

Todd Defren: Again, I see little evidence of this trend. Those smaller teams you suggest are being created will not be scalable to help more than one or two clients. Thus the perceived economies of scale are lost, as agencies of this type are forced to charge more, along the supply and demand curve.

David Griner: I personally doubt that clients will see a noticeable amount of savings if agencies streamline. A 100-hour project will still take 100 hours, whether it’s being done by five people or 25 people. Where you’ll see noticeable improvement is in the level of interaction you’re able to have with agency staffers assigned to your project. Having fewer people assigned to your project means better day-to-day workflow and institutional memory, but the downside is obviously the loss of potential expertise.

What kinds of people are today's agencies hiring: generalists or specialists? What other trends are you seeing?

Rachel Kay: I think larger agencies have the ability to hire more specialists as opposed to smaller agencies, which need people who can operate across multiple tactics. I really prefer employees who can think about communication strategically, but have the knowledge to execute multiple elements of a program, ensuring every part of the campaign is cohesive and integrated. However, it's definitely clear that many agencies are choosing to separate traditional and digital departments. I can see this shift continuing for the next several years, but as more and more marketing moves online, those gaps will have to close once again, as everyone will need to be dialed into the digital and mobile spaces.

Todd Defren: More generalists are being hired in great numbers, but there will always be niche opportunities for specialists. One issue for specialists: Technology is getting easier and easier, and expectations of quality are getting lower. Thus a project that might have required a professional videographer may now be covered off by a generalist with an iPhone or FlipCam and some cheap editing software. "Depth" is expensive, and to your earlier point, clients tend to look for economies versus sophistication.

David Griner: Generalists — or at least the truly multi-talented — will always be in high demand as strategists, content creators and agency leaders. They're insatiably curious, eager to experiment and 'media neutral' enough to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

How is your agency changing? Let us know in the comments below.

Series Supported by IDG

The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. IDG Global Survey Finds Smartphones and Tablet Use Rising Rapidly. Consumers are ditching their traditional cellphones for smartphones. An IDG Global Solutions (IGS) survey found that smartphones are used by more than two-thirds of the almost 14,000 participants worldwide. Tablet ownership — overwhelmingly the iPad — has reached 20%. Click here to find out the mobile momentum.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, francisblack

More About: ad agency, Agency, Luckie and Company, Modern Media Agency Series, Razorfish, RKPR, shift communications, social media agency

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Rebecca Black’s Second YouTube Single Gets 10 Million Views in 3 Days [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 11:59 AM PDT

“Weren’t you the one who said I was nothing? Well, I’m about to prove you wrong.” So go the opening lyrics to Rebecca Black‘s new single “My Moment” and it seems she’s right.

The Internet phenom’s long-awaited sequel to “Friday” has crossed 10 million views since its release on July 18. It would seem that the Orange County, California, schoolgirl is no one-hit wonder, at least on YouTube. It’s sweet revenge for Black, whose first hit was labeled “The Worst Pop Song of All Time” by The Independent. Not only has she proved more lasting stardom, but she’s done so with a song that takes on her critics. “Haters, said I’ll see you later,” she sings at one point, waving to the camera.Yes, and they’ll see her too, again and again on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Black seems to have a love-hate relationship with the song that made her famous. It’s not on her YouTube Channel and the original version, which racked up more than 167 million views, has been taken down, though at least one other version is currently available.

More About: Friday, My Moment, Rebecca Black, youtube

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Lance Armstrong, Doug Ulman & Abigail Disney Join Social Good Summit Lineup

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 11:39 AM PDT

Social Good Summit 2011

We’re excited to reveal more speakers for the Social Good Summit in September: Lance Armstrong, Doug Ulman, Abigail Disney, Brian Gott, Asi Burak and Tamara Gould are now part of the dynamic lineup of speakers.

The Social Good Summit — presented by Mashable, 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation — explores how new media and technology provide innovative solutions for the world’s greatest challenges. This unique, four-day event is during UN Week from September 19 -22 at 92Y in New York City.

The brightest minds, passionate activists and influential thought leaders will unite around the issues that impact lives globally. This year, innovation, the economy, emerging technologies, new forms of journalism and gamification are among the topics to be covered on stage.

New Confirmed Speakers

Lance ArmstrongDoug UlmanAbigail DisneyBrian GottAsi BurakTamara Gould

  • Lance Armstrong is an international activist, the founder of LIVESTRONG and the leader of a global movement. Lance is passionate about community, using social media to connect with people and collaborating to fight cancer.
  • Doug Ulman is president and CEO of LIVESTRONG, which is committed to improving the lives of people who have cancer. This September during UN Week, you can help make cancer and NCDs (non-communicable diseases) a top global health priority by signing on here:
  • Abigail Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist and executive producer of the PBS mini-series, Women, War & Peace, a global media initiative on the role of women in peace and conflict.
  • Brian Gott, publisher of Variety, sits on the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council, which tackles global issues through innovation and entrepreneurship. He is also the founder of Variety's Power of Youth effort.
  • Asi Burak is the Co-President of Games for Change and the Executive Producer of the Half the Sky game. Asi will speak about the role of games in digital activism and social change.
  • Tamara Gould is vice president of ITVS International for the Independent Television Service. She is a driving force behind the ITVS campaign Women and Girls Lead as well as the series Women, War & Peace, Half the Sky and others.

Event Details

Date: Monday, September 19, 2011, through Thursday, September 22, 2011
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Location: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
Tickets: $30 per day or $100 for 4-day pass.

Register for Social Good Summit 2011 - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19 - 22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Livestream: Unable to join us in person? RSVP for the Livestream to join us online.

Register for RSVP for Social Good Summit 2011 LIVESTREAM - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19-22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Complete List of Speakers

Further details and speakers will be announced soon on Mashable.

More About: mashable events, new york, social good, social good summit, social media, tech

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Anonymous & LulzSec Lash Out at FBI: “We’re Not Going Anywhere”

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 11:19 AM PDT

Anonymous and LulzSec, the two hacker groups responsible for some of the most high-profile cyber attacks of the past year, have issued a defiant statement in the wake of a recent FBI crackdown on the groups.

The statement is a direct response to FBI Deputy Assistant Director Steve Chabinsky, who made a statement after the FBI arrested 16 suspected members of Anonymous on Wednesday:

“We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable, [even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it’s entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts,” Chabinsky said.

Anonymous and LulzSec, responsible for hacking gaming websites, breaching the U.S. Senate’s security and taking down the Sony PlayStation Network, didn’t take kindly to Chabinsky’s words. The groups lashed out in a statement, saying that they find governments lying to citizens and corporations taking advantage of citizens unacceptable.

“These governments and corporations are our enemy,” the joint statement proclaimed. “And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies.”

The two groups continued, saying that the threat of arrest is meaningless because an idea cannot be arrested. “It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing — absolutely nothing — you can possibly to do make us stop.”

We’ve included the hacker groups’ statement below. Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

LulzSec and Anonymous Statement

Hello thar FBI and international law authorities,

We recently stumbled across the following article with amazement and a certain amount of amusement:

The statements made by deputy assistant FBI director Steve Chabinsky in this
article clearly seem to be directed at Anonymous and Lulz Security, and we are happy to provide you with a response.

You state:

"We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable,
[even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it's entirely
unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts."

Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and
your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell
you what WE find unacceptable:

* Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep
them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.

* Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking
advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for
federal contracts we all know they can't fulfil.

* Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits
higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around
the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough
so the status quo will never change.

These governments and corporations are our enemy. And we will continue to
fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly
includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies.

We are not scared any more. Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to
us as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your
citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our
mission to help these people and there is nothing - absolutely nothing - you
can possibly to do make us stop.

"The Internet has become so important to so many people that we have to
ensure that the World Wide Web does not become the Wild Wild West."

Let me ask you, good sir, when was the Internet not the Wild Wild West? Do
you really believe you were in control of it at any point? You were not.

That does not mean that everyone behaves like an outlaw. You see, most
people do not behave like bandits if they have no reason to. We become bandits on the Internet because you have forced our hand. The Anonymous bitchslap rings through your ears like hacktivism movements of the 90s. We're back - and we're not going anywhere. Expect us.

More About: anonymous, FBI, hackers, lulzsec, security

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Watch Comic-Con 2011 Coverage [LIVE]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 10:36 AM PDT

If you can’t be in San Diego to experience Comic-Con 2011 in person, you can at least experience some of the fun by tuning into the various live streams around the web.

This year, Entertainment Weekly has partnered with NowLive to stream coverage from all three days of Comic-Con 2011. EW will also be providing videos of the panels it’s hosting, as well as photos and other breaking news.

For SiriusXM subscribers, you can tune into Comic-Con Radio and hear breaking news, interviews and panels from today through Monday.

Mashable‘s Jennifer Van Grove will be reporting from the convention, too, so check back for updates, including an interview with Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall.

More About: comic-con, comic-con 2011, entertainment weekly, onlive

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Universal Music Group Partners With Social Crowdsourcing Platform

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 10:20 AM PDT

Universal Music Group partnered with social crowdsourcing platform Talenthouse Wednesday to create collaborative campaigns that it hopes will benefit both UMG artists and up-and-comers. is an online community for artists founded in 2009 that creates competitions hosted by celebs and brands in order to jumpstart the careers of lesser-known artists in a variety of disciplines. (Lady Gaga and the Paul Taylor Dance Company are alums of the service, among many others.)

A few months ago, musician deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, used the platform to crowdsource a design for a new mouse head to wear on stage — Zimmerman is famous for making like a rodent during shows.

Now, the service will become even more ingrained in the music world, as it will work with UMG artists and labels to launch their own “Creative Invites” (or crowdsourcing contests). Talenthouse says that this partnership will not only garner more fans and attention for UMG artists (the voting process is Facebook-based), but will also allow unknowns to collaborate with big names.

Online collaboration with known artists is becoming more and more common, with platforms like Indaba Music offering remix competitions and opps to work with musicians such as Rivers Cuomo, and services like Blazetrak giving artists access to the likes of Rubin Studdard.

image courtesy of Flickr, philman

More About: music, talenthouse, umg, Univeral-Music-Group

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5 Innovative Food Truck Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 10:00 AM PDT

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

Fueled by demand for inexpensive, quick and delicious meals, gourmet food trucks have swept cities across the world, offering up specialties, such as grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, pickles, cupcakes and meatballs.

The past few years have seen an onslaught of social media-savvy food trucks, empowering on-the-go customers to follow their favorite truck’s whereabouts on Twitter or learn about nearby deals on Foursquare, among other advancements.

Food trucks are becoming increasingly smart with their social media marketing, running campaigns to support particular efforts, deals or events. Here are five examples of innovative social media campaigns created by food trucks of all types.

1. DoubleTree CAREavan: Celebrating a Milestone

DoubleTree by Hilton gives out approximately 60,000 chocolate chip cookies each day when guests check in, amounting to more than 21 million cookies annually. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of its signature chocolate chip cookie, DoubleTree by Hilton suited up a food truck for, in their own words, a “10-week, 10,000-mile, 50-city journey to deliver hundreds of thousands of smiles to weary workers, tired travelers and local charities across the country through the pleasant surprise of a sweet chocolate chip cookie treat.”

The campaign is driven by social media, including the following components:

  • Facebook: The DoubleTree Facebook page features an app with a real-time map of where the cookie CAREavan is, relevant tweets, a sweepstakes entry form for free stays at the hotel, YouTube videos and related promotions. The page has experienced an 89% increase in Facebook Likes since DoubleTree launched the campaign on May 26.
  • Foursquare: The CAREavan’s location is updated on Foursquare, where the truck is running a special to promote its free cookies, as well as its Topguest partnership.
  • Topguest: Topguest members receive 50 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points and 25 Virgin Elevate points with each Foursquare checkin.
  • Twitter: DoubleTree is running a contest on Twitter to give followers the chance to win a “sweet break,” in which the truck team chooses tweeters using the hashtag #SweetBreak and hand-delivers 250 chocolate chip cookies to each of the winners’ offices. Twitter followers can also stay informed about the CAREavan’s whereabouts and activities.
  • YouTube: DoubleTree is capturing “Cookie Confessionals” of fans talking about why they love chocolate chip cookies and posting them to its YouTube channel.

While DoubleTree isn’t a food-centric brand at its core, it is known for its warm chocolate chip cookies, and this campaign definitely plays on that nostalgia, bringing a bit of sweetness to each city it visits.

2. Mexicue: Crowdsourcing Recipes on Facebook

BBQ truck Mexicue is on a mission to crowdsource seasonal offerings on its menu. This summer it is running a Summer Market Special Contest, in which one lucky winner will be picked to have his or her seasonal recipe featured on the menu for one month.

Using a Facebook app, Mexicue announces an ingredient each season and accepts recipe submissions that include that ingredient. Then the Facebook community can vote for the recipe that will be featured aboard the Mexicue truck that season.

“Each season we work with a different farm and seasonal ingredient and run the contest around that,” says owner Thomas Kelly. “So sweet corn is for summer, and we’ll have another contest up for the fall.” The creator of the winning seasonal recipe wins a $50 gift certificate to Mexicue and a Manhattan Messenger bag by Lexdray. The second and third place prizes are $25 and $10 Mexicue gift cards, respectively.

This contest is a fun way to engage a community and empower aspiring taco artisans to craft recipes for the chance to be featured on the menu.

3. Ninja Snowballs: Building Excitement During a Dead Time

There are only so many months in a summer when pedestrians want to stop for a snow cone. Baton Rouge snow cone truck Ninja Snowballs decided to combat slumping sales in September and October by running a flavor contest.

Bite and Booze blogger Jay Ducote partnered with Ninja Snowballs to run the contest, which asked foodies to invent a new flavor combination for the truck. Entries were accepted via Twitter and Facebook.

So, how did the campaign do? The truck was able to vend a few more weeks than it usually would have as a result of the buzz around the new flavors available for customers to try during the contest, says Ducote. Furthermore, the contest details page racked up 1,500 visits, and the top 16 submitted flavors drove a lot of buzz during the six rounds of judging, in which votes were counted by how many people ordered each snow cone.

The winning flavor, called “Lemon Fluff,” was submitted by marketing consultant Julie Perrault and featured a blend of fresh-squeezed lemonade and sweetened condensed milk.

4. Chi’Lantro BBQ: Offering a Deal

Chil’Lantro BBQ, a Korean and Mexican fusion BBQ food truck based in Austin, uses social media to keep its fans abreast of the truck’s latest news, locations, giveaways and specials of the day. Owner and founder Jae Kim actively uses Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare to do just that.

Kim says his truck’s most successful social media marketing campaign took place during this year’s SXSW conference. Teaming up with mobile payment system Intuit GoPayment, the truck offered 25-cent tacos to customers who followed the truck on Twitter and paid with a credit card.

The campaign generated “tons of buzz” and was a “huge success and win-win for everybody,” says Kim.

5. Wafels & Dinges: Promoting a Relevant Holiday

In celebration of Belgian National Holiday (July 21), New York City-based Wafels & Dinges is introducing its Belgian Madness ice cream, which features its now-leaked secret ingredient, Hoegaarden white beer. From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET, the Wafels & Dinges truck will be handing out free cones of the new flavor. To make the event even more fun, the Astor Place cart is crowning the “back-up King of Belgium” at 10 p.m. ET. The details for entering are explained on the company’s blog:

“Come dressed up as royalty (or at least in uniform worthy of a King) and give a 1-2 min speech about the role of Dinges in the expansion of the Belgian empire! If you convince our Belgian jury, you might win a free catering event for 50 people anywhere in NYC! The second prize is a gift certificate for 5 WMDs! And under the Belgian motto of ‘participating is more important than winning,’ all the contestants will receive a free jar of Spekuloos!”

The waffle truck is promoting its campaign on Twitter — where it has a following of over 15,500 — and Facebook, where it has 7,500 fans. Since this promotion ran on the day of this article’s publication, success metrics could not be determined.

Your Favorite Food Truck Campaigns

Which social media campaigns are food trucks in your neighborhood running? Let us know in the comments below.

Series Supported by Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck

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

Images courtesy of Mexicue; Flickr, speedye, somethingstartedcrazy

More About: Food, Food truck, Social-Savvy Food Truck Series

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Facebook Adds Videos, Photos & Link Previews to Comments

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 09:42 AM PDT

Facebook has made commenting a richer experience by adding video, photo and website info. It’s a small change, but a rather cosmetic one.

This would have been particularly useful for me the other day. A friend had posted something on Facebook about Weezer, and I felt the urge to tell that friend that the band was hosting a cruise in January. So I commented with a link to a story about the event. The result? An ugly, sprawling URL marring her wall.

This week though, Facebook made a small tweak to cure this. Now, when you comment on a post with a URL, Facebook will pull in a video player, a thumbnail or an overview of the website that you’re linking to. You can also choose to nix the preview.

The change isn’t life-altering, but it certainly makes your wall much lovelier.

More About: comments, facebook, trending

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Lollapalooza Festival App Adds Group Texting for Easier Planning

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 09:30 AM PDT

Music festivals can be stressful experiences — especially when you attend with friends. Someone’s always hungry, complaining about hating various bands or passing out from heat exhaustion. To mitigate this strenuous experience, Lollapalooza has baked group texting into its official festival app, courtesy of GroupMe.

Lolla takes place from August 5 to 7 in Chicago’s Grant Park, but festival goers can download the app now for either iPhone [iTunes link] or Android. (This app is different from the ones created during Lolla’s hackathon.)

As festival apps go, this one is pretty slick. As expected, you can browse the lineup and add acts to your schedule (sadly, it does not crawl your music library for suggestions, one of our favorite fest app features) and read up on bands. After a cursory glance at the descriptions, it seems Lolla could have invested in a copyeditor — I saw a few typos, and, in the description of this year’s indie-band-that-everyone-even-your-conservative-cousin-loves, Foster the People, it states that their album, Torches, is coming out in May (pretty sure that already happened).

Hiccups aside, the app boasts some useful features: Slacker Radio provides two streaming radio stations (2011 artists, and 20 years of Lolla), and there’s also an interactive festival app and group texting (as we said, for GroupMe). Users can share their location on the map via a group text (as well as Facebook, Email, Twitter and regular SMS), as well as what acts they’re planning on seeing, etc. They can also just chat in-app.

GroupMe launched last fall as a group messaging solution — a kind of SMS chatroom. During the past year, it has amped up its integration with brands, and recently unveiled the GroupMe Client Library, which allows mobile developers to incorporate GroupMe functionality into their apps. In addition to Lolla, GroupMe also announced Wednesday that it will be included in the app for TV’s Dexter [iTunes link].

The app seems to be becoming a mainstay on the festival circuit — it was integrated into Bonnaroo's app, and has, in the past, offered branded groups for Coachella, Austin City Limits, and others.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, George E. Norkus

More About: groupme, Lollapalooza, Mobile 2.0, music, Slacker-Radio, startup

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Mint Unveils Bill Reminders & Tracking [INVITES]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:58 AM PDT, the popular personal finance management tool, has unveiled a new feature that reminds users when their bills are due and manages their bills in one place.

“In the past, Mint has been great as a historical record of transactions,” Mint Product Manager Mee-Sun Yuk told Mashable. “But we’re now starting to invest in features so you can use Mint more for the future.”

The new Mint bill reminder feature taps into your financial accounts to figure out when each of your bills are due in the next four weeks. This data is displayed in a dashboard on the top of the “Overview” page. A green bar indicates when a bill is due on a specific day, and hovering over that day will display which bills you need to pay.

You can customize whether you want reminders for certain bills, and you can set those reminders to arrive via email, SMS or the mobile apps. So, for example, if you don’t want a reminder for your PG&E bill because it pays automatically, you can shut off that specific reminder.

According to Yuk, bill reminders was the most-requested feature by its users. The second most-requested feature was an iPad app, which the Intuit-owned company is working on.

The new feature launches in beta today and will roll out to all users next month. However, Mashable readers are invited to try the beta by following this link.

More About: Bill Tracking, intuit, mint, personal finance

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Google Buys Social Media Firm Fridge To Bolster Google+

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:49 AM PDT

Looking to beef up its social media technology after the Google+ launch, Google has acquired social networking site Fridge.

Fridge, which offered "simple personal networks that anyone can instantly create to share photos, messages and events with specific friends and groups," according to its website, has joined Google, the company announced Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fridge launched last August with backing from Mitch Kapor, Naval Rakivant, Jim Young and other tech luminaries. The idea behind Fridge fits in well with Google+'s circles concept: Using the service, users could make sure to share photos with an online group of their choosing, which could be created ad hoc, sort of like a group texting. Ultimately, groups would be built around interests, rather than one-to-one connections, in theory leading to a deeper interaction.

Google has also hired the team behind real-time celebrity geo-stalking service JustSpotted and real-time search engine Scoopler to work on Google+ as well, according to TechCrunch.

Image courtesy of Flickr, gilderic

More About: Fridge, Google, Google Plus, JustSpotted, Scoopler

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Google+ Profile Hacks: Users Get Creative with Photos [PICS]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:40 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.

It’s not just Facebook users having all the fun with photographic profile hacks, we are delighted to report that Google+ users are getting in on the action too.

Because the shiny new social networking service displays some of your photos at the top of your profile, you can tweak your scrapbook photo album for a more creative photographic display.

From landscapes to portraits via pop art, take a look through the photo gallery below for the brilliant examples we’ve come across so far. Link us in the comments to any of your Google+ profile hacks — we might just add them to the list!

1. Brian Rose

We'd expect the Google+ photos community manager to know his way round the new service, but we still can't help be impressed with his clever and creative concept.

2. Felipe Apostol

Felipe Apostol's monotone collage is very effective.

3. Francois Bacconnet

Francois Bacconnet has a message for us -- written in appropriately Google-flavored colors.

4. Brenda Anderson

Brenda Anderson's lovely landscape offers a window on the world.

5. Michel Plungjan

There's more typographical-themed fun to be had from Michel Plungjan.

6. Dariusz Majgier

Dariusz Majgier's eyes make for a striking profile page.

7. Greg Schmigel

A street scene adds some urban chic to Greg Schmigel's profile page.

8. Leo G

Leo G's Irish landscape works well.

9. Mohd Sufian Othman

An jaunty angle and the two faces sharing the same box add interest to Mohd Sufian Othman's creation.

10. Roger Thornton Brown

Roger Thornton Brown has gone all Andy Warhol over on his profile page.

11. Joe Murphy

Photographer Joe Murphy's Iowa landscape offers a calm view with lovely light captured beautifully.

12. John Yates

John Yates levitates above his G+ profile.

13. Pepper Ferguson

Meanwhile, Pepper Ferguson wants to know how you are!

14. Matt Davis

A doodle makes Matt Davis' profile unique.

15. Dan Moyle

Dan Moyle also sticks with the typography theme with his creation.

16. Lynda Giddens

Lynda Gidden's close-up on her eyes offers an arresting overall first impression.

17. Matthew Stone

Matthew Stone has done some clever photo editing to neutralize the gaps between the photos.

18. Paul Spoerry

Neil Patrick Harris' famous quote brings the awesome to Paul Spoerry's profile.

19. Nicci Moon

Tech lover Nicci Moon adds media controls to her profile page.

20. Sara Mays

Sara Mays gets pretty with a floral selection.

More About: gallery, Google, Google Plus, hacks, List, Lists, Photos, tips and tricks, trending

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Is Phone Hacking Ever Justified? [OPEN THREAD]

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:26 AM PDT

Following the News of the World shutdown, the media has been buzzing with reports of the tabloid's phone hacking exploits. Targets of the hacks included celebrities, members of the Royal Family, family members of dead soldiers, terror victims and Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old who was murdered in 2002.

While hacking into the phones of high-profile figures may be easily classified as an unjustifiable invasion of privacy, the ethics of covert reporting can raise questions.

A journalist's job is to seek the truth and make it known. According the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, journalists must, "Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story." Like all questions in ethics, this exception leaves much room for debate.

A journalist’s primary obligation is to pursue the truth in significant, important and meaningful stories. Is it acceptable for laws to be bent when serving the “common good” — such as exposing business or government corruption? So we ask:

Is lying to get to the truth ever justified?

Let us know what you think and join the conversation below.

More About: journalism, Murdoch, News of the world, notw, open thread, phone hacking, rupert murdoch

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How the Smart Grid Will Change Your Life

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 08:02 AM PDT

The Buzzword Breakdown Series is supported by The Network, Cisco’s technology news site. The Network features technology news, trends and information on video, collaboration, core networks, mobility, security, data, Cisco culture and social media.

The “smart grid” is a rapidly growing set of technologies, processes, devices and applications that affect and enhance the traditional electric grid. These advances are partially driven by exponentially growing demands worldwide for energy as expressed in a commonly repeated statistic that "global electricity demand is expected to increase 75% by 2030." What's happening with the smart grid also reflects developments made in communications, from Internet to cellular to wireless, as well as higher expectations from consumers regarding energy availability, rising energy costs and access to their energy information. A smarter grid will also help integrate renewable energy including wind and solar into the energy mix.

Defining the Smart Grid

To understand the smart grid, you first need to get familiar with the 125-year-old electric grid. Most people don't think about where the electricity they're using comes from or how it gets to their homes and offices. The electric grid consists of several main touchpoints in an overall system that gets electricity from creation to the end user:

The main touchpoints for electricity include:

  • Generation — the creation of electrons that make up electricity.
  • Transmission — moving high-voltage power from generators at power plants through transmission lines, reducing it down to 12,000 volts.
  • Distribution — where residential transformers convert power to the 110 volts running in U.S. homes.
  • Retail — the metering, monitoring and measuring of power usage that results in a bill to the consumer from a utility company.
  • Customer/Consumption — the end user experience with the power.

Smart grid technologies and innovations occur at — and can affect — any and all steps of the electricity ecosystem. Some are more focused on the utility side while others address the customer.

Smart Grid Developments

Luke Clemente, general manager of metering and sensing for GE's digital energy business, recounts that in the "old days" up until the last 10 to 15 years, utility workers — meter readers — were deployed into neighborhoods to read and write down data retrieved from energy meters in people's back yards. The first major change to this process came in the form of Automatic Meter Reading (AMR), through which meters communicate via a one-way signal to a truck that is driven through neighborhoods to collect data.

Now we're seeing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) going beyond just reading meters and sending data to utilities — it also sends information back to the home and to the consumer.

Smart meters aren’t effective without some kind of communications method to transmit data such as cellular, Wi-Fi or other wireless protocols. One company offering an alternative wireless communication system is On-Ramp Wireless, a three-and-a-half year old company that has a system operating on the unlicensed spectrum of wireless communications. Unlike cellular systems such as GSM and GDMA, the On-Ramp system isn’t optimized for tens of users but instead for tens of thousands of “users” that are in actuality devices, such as meters and sensors.

“We focus on connecting a limited number of infrastructure base stations to thousands of devices with directionality focused on uplink — with the data passing from the device up towards the base station or ‘Access Point,’” says Jonas Olsen, VP of strategic marketing for On-Ramp Wireless. Their system is designed for extremely long-range and broad coverage so utility companies can deploy these communication networks more cheaply and reach more devices more effectively. Other companies in this space include Silver Spring Networks, Itron and Trilliant, all of which offer both hardware and software solutions that utilize a different communications spectrum than On-Ramp.

Other interesting developments on the consumer side of the smart grid are web portals and dashboards that present aggregated power usage data in ways a layperson can understand. Olsen points to an interesting smart grid test program using a device by Tendril, a smart grid technology company that offers devices, software and services to utilities. Olsen received a device that connected to the Internet and a display that spoke to a radio in his home's smart meter via a short-range wireless system. Now he gets real-time data about his power consumption and can see the hourly cost of using everything from his air conditioner to his hot tub.

"This is information we never had before," says Olsen. "And it can help as you try to regulate your own consumption." Eventually, with systems like this along with "time-of-day pricing," you will know exactly how much money you're spending down to the minute, and you’ll be able to modify your behavior to use your appliances at different times. Or better yet, you'll benefit from an automated system that regulates usage for you based on your usage habits and peak usage times to run certain appliances at "cheaper" times of the day. In addition to Tendril, there are companies like Opower, Welectricity and Rockethome in Germany looking to engage consumers and nudge changes in energy consumption behavior.

Global Smart Grid Adoption is Going Strong

Smart grid adoption is happening across the globe. As examples of extensive smart meter deployment, Scott Smith, VP of global technical services at eMeter, cites:

  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada — Ontario was the first province in Canada to introduce what is referred to as "time-of-use pricing." The system is said to have 100% smart meter deployment.
  • Texas, U.S. — The electricity market in the state of Texas has been deregulated, and the state has close to a 100% saturation of smart meters along with an automated system to give customers their energy usage data through smart grid technology and web portals.
  • Scandinavia — At 100% penetration, citizens of Sweden and Finland are seeing the benefits of the smart grid, including in-home smart technologies.

While the United States may be spending the most money on smart grid tech innovation and deployment, other countries making significant headway with implementation include Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe, including Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and France. In Asia, while Japan and South Korea are already heavily invested in the smart grid, China is poised to become a major investor. Asia and Latin America are seen as emerging smart grid markets as they roll out smart meter programs in India and Brazil.

Within the U.S., California utilities are among those at the forefront of the smart grid, says Clemente. He adds that Florida Power and Light's Energy Smart Miami Project was "very impressive." Austin Energy deployed its Smart Grid Program in the Texas capital three years ago.

Where the Smart Grid Could/Should Go

Depending on whom you speak with about the smart grid, and what his role is in the smart grid ecosystem, you'll get an entirely different answer when you ask where the smart grid is headed — or needs to head — for the greatest success. Keep in mind that there are not only different points along the energy ecosystem that the smart grid touches — there are also many different stakeholders with varied needs and expectations. There are the utility companies managing the power, the companies producing the hardware, software and systems being used on the smart grid and the consumers who are using the power.

Scott Hublou, SVP of products and co-founder of the cloud-based residential energy management platform EcoFactor, outlines what he thinks the smart grid needs in the future:

  • 1. Data connection between demand (when you turn a light on) and generation (energy being created in a power plant). If you can get more granular data about usage, you can better forecast energy needs and usage, which then can be applied to create more efficient energy generation.
  • 2. Electricity storage. When there’s low energy demand, excess energy should be able to be stored and then accessed or discharged during peak usage periods. For an example of storage on a small scale, consider an electric vehicle — when turned off and plugged in, it’s storing energy to be used during the day when the car is running. EcoFactor's technology does something similar for air conditioning by communicating with a home's thermostat to pre-cool the home in advance of the hottest part of the day to keep the home cool during a higher demand periods so the air conditioner doesn't have to run during peak hours.
  • 3. Automated energy efficiency for consumers. Homeowners do not usually have the time or inclination to proactively make their homes, offices, cars and other environments more energy-efficient. Hublou says in order to reduce energy usage and shift grid load, we need more services that automatically make smarter energy choices.
  • 4. The private market needs to step up to the plate. Hublou says that instead of relying on government-sponsored programs, the private sector needs to develop products and/or services that can be easily packaged and delivered to consumers. For example, a telecom company could add an energy efficiency program to its offerings, adding a commercial layer to the smart grid so it becomes more accessible to consumers.

Regardless of where the innovations are coming from, smart grid infrastructure serves utilities and consumers by leveraging information technology to bring advanced communications to a previously "dumb" network. By putting a greater emphasis on information retrieval, aggregation, reporting and analysis that goes "both ways" between companies and consumers, the potential to save on energy and modify energy consumption behavior can benefit everyone — with an emphasis on potential.

Series Supported by Cisco’s The Network

The Buzzword Breakdown Series is supported by The Network, Cisco’s technology news site. The Network features technology news, trends and information on video, collaboration, core networks, mobility, security, data, Cisco culture and social media. To subscribe to The Network, click here. You can also submit your story ideas here.

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Image courtesy of iStockphoto, imagedepotpro

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