Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Get London Public Transit Info on Google Maps”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Get London Public Transit Info on Google Maps”

Get London Public Transit Info on Google Maps

Posted: 28 Jul 2011 04:55 AM PDT

Google has added public transit information for London on Google Maps, enabling travelers to plan routes in one of Europe’s largest metropolitan areas.

The service shows all possible public transportation connections from one location to another using street addresses or points of interests such as restaurants. Click on “Get directions” and you’ll get suggestions for your trip.

The service is also available on Google Maps for mobile, where it has an extra feature. It uses your current location to determine the best way to arrive at your destination.

On Android devices, you can use the recently launched Transit Navigation option in Google Maps to get alerts when you arrive at your destination or when you need to transfer to another bus or train line.

More About: android, Google, Google Maps, london, public transit

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Next iPhone to Have a Larger Screen, Thinner Profile [RUMOR]

Posted: 28 Jul 2011 02:38 AM PDT

The next generation iPhone might be thinner than iPhone 4, according to leaked case designs unearthed by 9to5Mac. Furthermore, case mold schematics leaked yesterday point to an iPhone with a larger screen as well as a bigger home button.

These rumors fall in line with many earlier rumors which claim the next iPhone will be thinner, but they also contradict other reports which claim that iPhone 5 (if that’s its name) will be quite similar to the iPhone 4.

The “thin iPhone” rumors point to a curved back design for the device, which seems somewhat unlikely, given that Apple has switched from such a design to a rectangular, flat back in iPhone 4.

What do you think? Are you ready to believe the mounting evidence in favor of a thinner iPhone, or do you think the next iPhone won’t be a radical departure from iPhone 4? Share your opinions in the comments!

[via 9to5Mac]

More About: apple, design, iphone, iPhone 5, rumor, smartphone

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 10:22 PM PDT

If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Postings

Business Development Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Director at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Communications Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.

Campaign Specialist at Mashable in New York, NY.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Web Manager at STA Travel in Lewisville, TX.

Marketing Manager, Digital and Sponsorships at The Disney ABC Television Group in New York, NY.

Director Interactive Development at RDA in New York, NY.

Quality Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Senior Front End Developer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Program Manager at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Senior Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Senior Web Developer at The University of Texas Medical School in Houston, TX.

Front-End Developer at Targeted Victory in Alexandria, Virginia.

Drupal Developer at Targeted Victory in Alexandria, VA.

.NET Engineer/ Business Intelligence Developer-API at Everyday Health in New York, NY.

Project Manager at 20×200 | Jen Bekman Projects in New York, NY.

Digital Director at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, VA.

ART DIRECTOR at gNET in Los Angeles, CA.

Analyst, Media Web Developer at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Owings Mills, MD.

Electronic Communications Supervisor at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Owings Mills, MD.

Digital Marketing Manager at Elsevier in Waltham, MA.

Freelance Mobile App Developer at Greenpeace in Washington, D.C.

Business Development Associate at New York Post in New York, NY.

Product Manager, DLP & Search Applications at Everyday Health in New York, NY.

Digital Communications Manager (D00850) at Brown University in Providence, RI.

Project Manager at Giiv, Inc in Los Angeles, CA.

Sr. Information Architect at Local Wisdom. Inc. in Princeton Junction, NJ.

Email Marketing Manager at Warner Music Group in Burbank, CA.

Social Media Manager at MTVNetworks in New York, NY.

Human Resources at IMM (Intermundo Media) in Boulder, CO.

Client Strategist at Mekanism New York in New York, NY.

Web Developer, E4C at American Society of Mechanical Engineers in New York, NY.

.Net Programmer/Analyst (Web) at American Society of Mechanical Engineers in New York, NY.

Front-End Web Developer at Straight North in Oak Brook, IL.

Digital Strategist-Digital Marketing at The Clorox Company in Oakland, CA.

Designer/Front-End Developer at Raybec Communications in Ontario, Canada.

Software Developer at MTV WORLD in New York, NY.

Merchandising Manager at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Director of Business Development at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Account Director at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Test Engineer at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Software Engineer (.NET) at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Front End Engineer at Group Commerce in New York, NY.

Communications Officer – Media at Concenr Worldwide (US) Inc. in New York, NY.

Product Operations Manager at Network Solutions in Herndon, VA.

Senior Web Developer (WordPress / LAMP) at in San Francisco, CA.

eCommerce-Merchandising Manager at Network Solutions in Herndon, VA.

Interactive Coordinator at EQAL in Los Angeles, CA.

Sales & Marketing Internship at Quirky Inc in New York, NY.

E-Mail Marketing Manager at Thompson Habib Denison in Lexington, MA.

Director Communications at American Express in New York, New York.

East Coast Account Executive at eHarmony in New York, NY.

Digital Outreach Manager at Environmental Media Association in Los Angeles, CA.

Game Designer / Developer at sweetgreen in Washington, D.C.

Web Designer at Access Intelligence in New York, NY.

Account Manager at Sharethrough in San Francisco, CA.

Social Media Product Manager at Acxiom Corporation in San Mateo, CA.

Social Media Internship at Lunchbox Advertising in Culver City, CA.

Social Media Director at The 88 in New York, NY.

Social Media Marketing Director at Unigo in New York, NY.

Social Programming Web Editor at Hearst Corporation-Digital Media in New York, NY.

Director of Social Programming at Hearst Corporation-Digital Media in New York, NY.

User Experience Designer at YouNoodle, Inc. in San Francisco, CA.

Director of Product Management, Media Verticals, YouTube at Google Inc. in Mountain View, CA.

Access Associate, Business Operations and Strategy at Google Inc. in Mountain View, CA.

Social Media Manager / Strategist at MKG in New York, NY.

Software Engineer- Generalist/Intern at Rapleaf in San Francisco, CA.

Back End Engineer at Perfect Sense Digital in Reston, VA.

Front End Engineer at Perfect Sense Digital in Reston, VA.

Social Media/Marketing/Creative at The Animal Place/New Legacy in New York, NY.

Associate Marketing Manager, Audience Development at Time Inc. in New York, NY.

Marketing Director – StyleFind at Time Inc. in New York, NY.

Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

More About: COMMUNICATIONS, design, jobs, jobs listings, Lists, media, social media

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New Study: Cellphones Don’t Cause Cancer

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 09:03 PM PDT

In the battle of the cellphone cancer studies, now we can chalk one up for the scientists who say there is no relationship between cellphones and cancer in children.

A 1,000-participant study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute researched the effects of cellphones on children and adolescents, comparing cellphone usage of a group diagnosed with brain tumors against a control group of cellphone-using individuals who were in good health.

The result? “The absence of an exposure-response relationship either in terms of the amount of mobile phone use or by localization of the brain tumor argues against a causal association,” concludes the study abstract.

This is the latest in a long line of extensive research aimed at finding the truth about whether cellphones cause cancer or not. The three most recent studies:

  • The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced the results of its cellphones/cancer study in May of this year, calling cellphones “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
  • A study published in February found that cellphone use caused increased activity in certain parts of the brain, but couldn’t determine if those effects were causing any harm, or even if they were beneficial.
  • Last year, a less-credible study that was partially funded by the wireless industry found no evidence of increased risk of brain tumors associated with mobile phones. But the scientists behind that study acknowledged that the results weren’t definitive.

What’s a cellphone user to do? If you’re still worried about an unknown/unseen mechanism at work here, just join the teens of the world and text a lot more than you talk on your cellphone.

[Via Electronista]

Graphic courtesy iStockphoto/gerenme

More About: cancer, carcinogens, cellphones, National Cancer Institute, studies, study, trending

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Freelance Web Development: 9 Tips for Better Project Management

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 07:37 PM PDT

The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

Taking on a large project can be both exciting and intimidating, particularly if you’re a solo developer. Big builds can be a lot of fun and serve as great learning experiences. At the same time, you have to keep the project moving forward, or risk missed deadlines and burnout.

Below are some tips to help you stay organized and productive, whether you’re working individually or as a team.

1. Make Your Contract Rock-Solid

When dealing with clients, issues like scope creep, late payments and deadlines are always a concern. And what may seem obvious to you may not be clear to your client. To avoid hurt feelings, delays and financial troubles, your first priority should be establishing a thorough, firm, but fair written contract.

A good contract protects both you and your client. In addition to general terms and conditions, your contract should contain specifics about the project: payment schedules, due dates, deadlines (and consequences for missing those deadlines), cancellation policies, guidelines regarding intellectual property and project scope. You can find many sample contracts on the web, but there’s no substitute for consulting with an attorney. When dealing with the safety of your business and your livelihood, the expense is justifiable, and should be calculated in your business overhead.

2. Have a Well-defined Road Map

One of the required supplements to your contract should always be a project road map. It should outline all of the project features as thoroughly as possible, and establish the general plan for project progression, from research all the way through deployment.

To start, write out all of the features in outline format. It helps to break them down into groups, such as “Account Administration Features” and “Inventory Control Features,” for example. Keep refining the outline until you’ve defined exactly what is expected and what needs to be developed.

Next, break the project down into different phases, such as research, design, development, testing and deployment. For each phase, state its goals clearly, and define where the project should be when the phase is completed. Have your client sign off on the phases, and include this document with your contract. You may want to make a second copy of this road map to include more technical details, such as technologies to employ and methods to implement each feature — but don’t change the scope unless your client signs off on the changes.

3. Establish a Style Guide

Whether you’re working alone or with a team, taking the time to establish a style guide for your project will help you maintain consistency throughout. Furthermore, when the project needs updating six months from now, you’ll be glad you made the effort.

There are two types of style guides you should consider: a visual guide and a coding guide. Keep in mind that either or both may apply to the project. The visual style guide should contain information regarding fonts, colors, branding and any other notes on visual appearance. You should also include a few examples of common elements, such as headers, forms, body content, sidebars and menus. While you may never need to go into such detail, the Skype Brand Book is a great example. The guide provides a great presentation to your client, a tool to help them understand how the project will ultimately look and feel. Review the established style with the client (mood boards are great for this purpose), and have them sign off on the look. Refer back to the visual style guide often during your own work to make sure you’re adhering to the set guidelines.

A programming style guide needn’t be project-specific (unless you’re working with a new team that has already established a style different from your own). It may be as simple as following an existing style guide, such as the Zend style guide. You don’t need to start from scratch here, but you need to be consistent. Having a clear set of guidelines will help any developers who may come on board later.

4. Take Time to Research, Plan and Test

When developing a new project, particularly one that’s interesting and exciting, people have the temptation to dive right in and get to work. An initial lack of proper research and planning can have detrimental effects, especially for larger projects. Take the proper initial steps and spend time researching, diagramming, reading through source code and organizing your thoughts. It will end up saving you time and money down the road.

The same applies to testing your code. It will spare you the tedious and often embarrassing problems of code rewrites, because the only thing worse than having your code fail during a demo is having it fail in production. Testing code and debugging shouldn’t be afterthoughts, so work both into your project estimate and timeline. There are a lot of automated testing suites out there today — everything from PHP and JavaScript to Ruby and Python, and countless other languages. It’s a good idea to learn at least one for each language you plan to use. Don’t forget to have real users navigate your software too. You and your client should both spend time actually using the site you’ve developed before going live.

5. Document As You Go

If you’re like most developers, you cringe at the thought of writing documentation. Taking the time to document something, especially when it seems clear at the time of creation, feels like a waste of valuable time. However, years from now those thousands of lines of source code may not make nearly as much sense.

Furthermore, programming styles and skill evolve over time, which can make old code hard to dive back into. So take time to document your code as you go. Make it as intuitive as possible by using descriptive names and logical progression. As a good rule of thumb, you should never need to document what something does, but make notes in your code that explain a feature’s purpose and function. Also note any dependencies that it either relies on or creates. Stopping at the end of each new feature and taking the time to draft some end-user documentation is a good idea as well. This will make it much easier to train your client on the software, and will also serve as a good way to catch any usability issues or features that were accidentally omitted.

6. Use Version Control

This should almost go without saying, but many solo developers don’t use version control for their projects. For a large project, this simply isn’t an option. A good VCS (whether you choose SVN, Git, Mercurial or some other system) virtually eliminates the possibility of accidentally deleting or overwriting code.

In addition to providing an invaluable safety net, commit logs also help you track your progress. And the ability to branch, fork, and merge your code gives you the flexibility to experiment with different methods of feature implementation. You can also refine and fine-tune your software’s performance without the risk of breaking existing code. Finally, it simplifies remote backup and deployment to testing and production environments. These days, version control should be considered an essential part of your development, particularly if you collaborate with other individuals.

7. Take Thorough Meeting Notes

Whether you prefer to use a laptop or a spiral-bound notebook, take notes when you meet with your client and other collaborators. Otherwise, you may not retain that minor detail discussed during the meeting as effectively. Good note-taking demonstrates to your clients that you’re attentive, interested and dedicated to providing them with good service. It ensures you don’t forget the little details, and it also saves you the embarrassment of having to go back to the client for clarification. It sounds simple, but one minor modification that went forgotten or overlooked could mean major changes in code or functionality. Save yourself the headache, stress and humiliation and learn to write everything down.

8. Organize Your Assets

As with thorough note-taking, keeping assets organized is another important step toward streamlining your project work flow. You may even consider a separate version control repository for project assets that don’t belong in the finished code base. Your client will likely send you a lot of files, content, artwork and emails containing feedback and requests for modifications and new features. Often, they’ll send more than one version of those files or requests.

Think about putting these assets into version control or some well-defined project management software. It can go a long way toward helping you keep information organized. Sending the wrong file or hunting through hundreds of emails not only slows you down and introduces the likelihood of errors, it makes you look unprofessional.

9. Put Due Dates in Writing

Due dates may often be established when outlining the project and its contract, but if this isn’t something you’re already doing, or if your current system isn’t working as well as you would like, it’s definitely worth the attention. Large projects tend to have a lot of dependencies, and missing one deadline can often put an entire project behind schedule. Mark due dates on your calendar and discipline yourself to stick to them.

Due dates aren’t just for you, either. It’s not at all unreasonable to give your client due dates for various deliverables, such as content and branding, and to set fixed periods of time for reviewing and approving assets. Clearly define due dates for all parties, and furthermore, address the consequences of unmet deadlines. As with negotiating a contract and drafting the project outline, always try to be fair, but don’t be afraid to be firm. Your client will respect you for it, and your reputation and career depend on it.

Images courtesy of Flickr, ZedZAP .. gone camping, justonlysteve

More About: code, contract, design, dev, developement, MARKETING, programming, project, style, web development series

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HOW TO: Utilize Social Data More Effectively

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 06:29 PM PDT

Nate Elliott is Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, where he helps interactive marketers around the world develop the strategies and tactics that make them successful, and then helps them measure the results. You can follow him on Twitter at @nate_elliott.

Last year, American consumers posted more than a billion opinions about products and services online, according to data collected by my company. With peer influence playing such a prominent role in consumers' purchase decisions, it's no surprise many interactive marketers are tapping into that influence via viral marketing programs and influencer outreach.

However, the vast majority of marketers ignore the staggering volume of social data all this influence creates. And those who do study social data typically use it for the wrong reason: to measure the brand impact of their marketing campaigns.

Social Data Is Often Based On Small Sample Sizes

With so many opinions posted online, you might assume it would be easy to find a reliable sample of data to analyze for brand impact. But even popular consumer brands often find it difficult to collect usable social data.

For instance, I recently reviewed a listening report for a global sporting goods brand — one that sponsors leading teams and athletes around the world and has strong brand awareness. I was surprised to see that the brand was mentioned in social media only a few hundred times each week in the U.S., and less than 100 times each week in other key markets around the world.

To make matters worse, the low quality of many social sentiment analysis tools reduces sample sizes further. When listening tools can't decide whether comments are positive or negative, they're usually labeled as having "no sentiment." Three-quarters of the mentions for this brand were tagged as such, leaving less than two-dozen weekly usable posts in some markets.

If you asked your market insights team or your survey provider to analyze 25 consumer survey responses, they'd tell you it's impossible to find statistical significance in such a small sample. The same standards must be applied to social data as well.

Social Creators Aren't Necessarily Representative of Your Audience

Although most online users today engage with social media, that doesn't mean the consumers who post social content offer a representative sample. In fact, 20-year-olds are twice as likely as 40-year-olds to be what my company calls "conversationalists" — people who post status updates on Facebook or Twitter. And they're three times as likely to be what we call "creators" — people who post blogs or videos online.

If you're marketing a product targeted primarily to younger consumers, you might find that the people posting in social media look something like your audience. But for many marketers, that's simply not the case.

Social Data Usually Measures Extremes

Ever notice that most online reviews are either very positive or very negative? It's not your imagination. Our data shows that most social influence posts are extreme in nature – and it happens for two reasons.

First, consumers are simply more motivated to post opinions online if those opinions are strong. If I don't have a strong opinion, I probably won't take the time. That's why nearly three-quarters of customer ratings on Amazon's ten best-selling books are either 1′s or 5′s, and why very few reviews fall in between those extremes.

Second, so many posts about products and services are driven by individual experiences that they're bound to be polarized in nature. If I waited in line at the bank for 20 minutes, I may fill the time telling Twitter that I hate my bank. Conversely if I get a free upgrade on my flight, I might post about how much I love my airline. Perhaps these are useful customer service data points (and they definitely influence other consumers), but they're not a reliable gauge of overall sentiment towards your brand or campaign.

Valuable Ways for Marketers To Use Social Data

So if you shouldn't use social data to measure brand impact, what is it good for?

Lots of things. Whether you or your company works directly with social media or not, you should be using social data right now to:

  • Develop your messaging. If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what it cares about. For instance, companies are using private listening communities to craft their marketing messages. And increasingly, companies are using data from public social media as an additional marketing guide.
  • Source your creative. We know that consumers trust what they hear from other consumers more than any other source of information. So why not use listening platforms to identify positive social content that can be included in campaign creative? I’ve even seen UK bank First Direct use social sentiment data in an outdoor advertising campaign.
  • Improve your media plan. You probably already have a few staples in your online media plan — the sites and networks that consistently perform for you. But social data can help you find new sites to add to your buy. For instance, when Microsoft found that people were talking about its computers in forums dedicated to fishing and cars, it quickly added those sites to its plan.
  • Identify your key influencers. According to our studies, consumers in the U.S. create more than 500 billion peer-to-peer impressions about brands and products per year. Social data can help you identify (and then reach out to) the most vocal and influential of those consumers, either individually or by finding the forums in which your brand will have the most influence.
  • React to your consumers. You can’t fuel a positive conversation about your products (or get involved in a negative one) unless you find those conversations first. Listening platforms can help you quickly find both the good and the bad so you’re in a position to react.

The key here is to successfully build social data into marketing programs – and not to use it, like most companies, as a tool to measure those programs.

Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author’s company.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Yakobchuk

More About: branding, business, data, MARKETING, online marketing, reviews, social data, social media, trending

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Facebook Campaign Helps Honor Ex-Beatle With Two Liverpool Streets

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 05:18 PM PDT

In 1962, drummer Pete Best (right) was on the receiving end of one of history’s cruelest firings. His bandmates had just won a recording contract, but decided he wasn’t quite talented enough to stay in the band. They intended to replace him with a friend from a rival group: Richard Starkey (left), also known as Ringo Starr.

Best, beloved by the Beatles’ earliest fans, had to watch from the sidelines as his former bandmates and Starr became the biggest group on the planet. Now, thanks to a Facebook campaign, he is getting a little compensation from the city where it all started.

A group on the social network calling itself “Name a Street After Pete” aimed to persuade Liverpool City Council to honor Best; it gained more than 10,000 supporters. The council was persuaded, and announced Wednesday that Best would get not one but two street names in a new housing development — one for himself, and one for the Casbah, a club started by his late mother Mona, where the Beatles played some of their earliest gigs.

“We only name a street after a living person if it is an exceptional case,” councilor Malcolm Kennedy told the website Click Liverpool. “Pete Best is certainly one of those exceptional individuals — he has made a significant contribution to the musical heritage of our city, and he is a worthy recipient.”

The BBC spoke to a proud and humbled Best; you can see that interview here. A decade ago, Best received a quiet payout of up to £4 million for his part in the Beatles Anthology project, which features several tracks with his drumming. Getting a street named after you is a pretty big deal in a historic city like Liverpool, however, and we think the 69-year-old Best much prefers the recognition to the cash. Money, as his former bandmates once observed, can’t buy you love.

More About: facebook, Facebook groups

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Toys R Us to Carry Amazon Kindle in Stores

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 03:50 PM PDT

Amazon’s Kindle eReader will be available at Toys R Us stores beginning July 31, 2011.The world’s largest toy chain will carry the Wi-Fi, 3G and Wi-Fi and Special Offers Wi-Fi editions, as well as an assortment of accessories, in its U.S. retail stores.

The Kindle is already available in retail stores such as Target, Best Buy, RadioShack and the AT&T store. And it’s not the only ereader getting retail play. According to Reuters, OfficeMax said it will start selling the Nook from Barnes & Noble at its stores at the end of the month.

The Kindle continues to be a top performer for Amazon, both as a device and as a content ecosystem. And the Toys R Us retail strategy is a savvy extension of that, for a couple of reasons.

First, the Kindle is the type of device that can appeal to an adult who might otherwise not plan to buy gadgets at a toy store. Second, the Kindle can get some additional attention as an educational tool for students young or old. Indeed, it looks like both Barnes & Noble and Amazon intend to go after the back-to-school market this year.

Are you more likely to buy an ereader online or in a store where you can give it a good look over? Let us know.

More About: ereader, ereaders, Kindle, nook, Toys R Us

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Airbnb Responds After Vandals Ransack User’s Home

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 03:24 PM PDT

Marketplace for spaces Airbnb is on the defensive after one user’s gut-wrenching story about coming home to find her place robbed, ransacked and destroyed caught the media’s attention.

The story, posted late last month by “EJ,” explains in vivid detail how criminals used Airbnb to rent out her place for a week, only to return with the place ripped inside-out. All of her valuable possessions were stolen.

Here’s an excerpt from EJ’s blog post:

“They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life. They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied – using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests' use. They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor. They found my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond and used the discount, along with my Mastercard, to shop online. Despite the heat wave, they used my fireplace and multiple Duraflame logs to reduce mounds of stuff (my stuff??) to ash – including, I believe, the missing set of guest sheets I left carefully folded for their comfort. Yet they were stupid and careless enough to leave the flue closed; dirty gray ash now covered every surface inside.”

In the last 24 hours, the story has gained traction, thanks to posts on Hacker News, Business Insider, TechCrunch and other sites.

Since the incident, a suspect has been apprehended, according to an Airbnb spokesperson. Here is the company’s full statement on the incident:

“We were shocked to hear about this unsettling event. We continue to work closely with the authorities to bring justice to the victim. We want to reassure our community that, through our security infrastructure, we were able to assist the police in their investigation, and we understand from authorities that a suspect is now in custody.

We’ve created a marketplace built on trust, transparency and authenticity within our community, and we hold the safety of our community members as our highest priority. The vast majority of our community members genuinely respect and protect each other, but we urge users to be careful and discerning with each other and to hold others accountable through reviews, flagging and our customer service channel. Our hearts go out to our host and we will continue to work with her and with the authorities to make this right.”

Earlier this week, the company was in a much happier position. It had just announced that it had raised $112 million in funding, valuing the startup north of $1 billion. Now the most salient criticism of the Airbnb model — that you are essentially inviting a stranger into your home — has been thrust into the spotlight. Airbnb faces an unenviable task: reassuring its customers while simultaneously making sure this kind of incident never happens again.

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, phatcontroller

More About: AirBNB, crime, vandalism

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Google+ Traffic Falls As Users Spend Less Time on Site

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 03:05 PM PDT

After a running start, Google+‘s growth may be slowing down a bit. A report from Experian Hitwise found both traffic and users’ average time on the social network fell last week in the U.S.

Total visits to Google+ declined about 3% to 1.79 million in the U.S. for the week ending July 23 compared to the previous seven days, according to the research company. The site received 1.86 million visits the prior week. Average time on the site was down 10%, from 5 minutes, 50 seconds to 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

Matt Tatham, a rep for Experian Hitwise, was careful not to overplay the findings. “This is not a huge drop,” he says. The company extrapolates its figures from data from ISPs and from an opt-in panel of about 2.5 million users.

The report comes after Google+’s traffic enjoyed a steady climb since its June 28 debut. Last week, comScore reported that the network hit 20 million unique visitors. Some were so enamored with Google+ that they closed out their Facebook accounts and moved all their activity to the new network.

What do you think? Has the novelty of Google+ worn off or is this just a blip on the road to world domination? Let us know in the comments.

More About: facebook, Google Plus, hitwise, trending

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Gmail Wants You to Stage an Email Intervention [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 02:46 PM PDT

Have friends that still use ancient email addresses? Google has launched a clever new campaign to help you get them to switch to Gmail.

The search giant’s new campaign centers around the classic friend intervention, since clearly only peer pressure will get those behind-the-times email users to switch. To that end, Google has created, a simple site where Gmail users can send intervention letters to convince their friends to switch.

The site is straightforward. First, you sign in to your Gmail account. The system detects which of your friends aren’t using Gmail and lets you select which ones you want to stage an intervention for. Finally, you can customize your intervention letter and either include Google’s intervention video or create your own.

Google’s YouTube video for the campaign deserves a special mention. It “stars” Dr. Richard Muscat, an “intervention expert” who explains how you can help your friends from hurting themselves with outdated and embarrassing email addresses.

While Gmail has grown in popularity since its launch in 2004, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Hotmail still have more visitors and users. Google knows that it will have to pick off long-time users of these email services to fuel Gmail’s growth. This campaign shows that the search giant intends to get more aggressive about stealing users from its competitors.

Do you have any friends with outdated email addresses? Will you use Gmail’s intervention tool to get them to switch? Let us know in the comments.

More About: email, Email Intervention, gmail, Google

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Call the White House Boring on Twitter, Get Rickrolled

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 02:27 PM PDT

While sending a flurry of tweets Wednesday to address fiscal policy, the White House Twitter account took the time to respond to one bored user with a very special, Rickroll-flavored tweet.

This week, the White House kicked off a new Twitter program called “Office Hours,” designed to help U.S. citizens better understand everything that’s been going on with the debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations. National Economic Council members Brian Deese and Jason Furman will be answering questions via the White House Twitter all week, responding to Twitter users who care to engage.

Wednesday, Deese, Obama’s economic adviser, took to Twitter, where he apparently was boring the pants off of Twitter user David Wiggs, who tweeted: “This WH correspondence briefing isn’t nearly as entertaining as yesterday’s.”

Deese retweeted the sentiment, then responded: “@wiggsd Sorry to hear that. Fiscal policy is important, but can be dry sometimes. Here’s something more fun:

Social initiatives like this (the Twitter chat, not the Rickroll) are becoming more and more common with the White House. In fact, President Barack Obama recently held a Twitter Town Hall during which he answered questions about the economy and jobs.

Will you participate in upcoming economic chats?

More About: rickroll, twitter, White House

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“Man Without a Facebook” Shows Merits of Being “Untaggable” [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 01:44 PM PDT

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

Everyone knows that if you’re not friends on Facebook, you ain’t friends in real life. Well, everyone aside from the emotionally stunted, that is — which is the message behind parody trailer, The Man Without a Facebook.

The mini film, an obvious play on The Man Without a Face that was created by writers and directors Dan De Lorenzo and Ben Stumpf, promotes the merits of being “untaggable,” which seem to include writing with pens, coming up with words sans Google and understanding why men and women like each other.

Sounds about right.

More About: facebook, Film, humor, pop culture, social media, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Hulu vs. Netflix: What Device Are You Watching On? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 01:16 PM PDT

Netflix and Hulu might be the two biggest players in the subscription streaming game, but that doesn’t mean their users consume content the same way.

A new survey from Nielsen looks into how Netflix and Hulu users watch, what devices are most popular to watch each service on, and what type of content is most watched. While we watch Hulu Plus and Netflix in similar ways on mobile devices, the main way users consume content from the two services is very different.

According to the survey, 89% of Hulu users watch directly on their computer. That compares to just 42% of Netflix users. Netflix has a big edge over Hulu Plus when it comes to supported hardware. It’s hard to find a video-based gadget that doesn’t support Netflix, whereas Hulu Plus support is still limited to a few companies and devices.

About 50% of Netflix users use the service with a video game console. Interestingly, the standard-definition Nintento Wii is as popular as the PS3 and Xbox 360 combined. Both of the latter two consoles can display Netflix in HD.

Other interesting stats:

  • Hulu users watch much more TV content, whereas Netflix users are more balanced between TV shows and movies.
  • Despite not supporting Hulu, apparently 1% of respondents claim to watch Hulu on an Apple TV.
  • Nearly 5% of Netflix users say they use a Roku box.

Hulu and Netflix users, let us know how this survey matches your own experience.

More About: hulu, Movies, netflix, ONLINE VIDEO, streaming movies

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iPad To Dominate Tablet Market Until 2015 [STUDY]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 12:45 PM PDT

The iPad will continue to dominate the growing tablet market until Android tablets take over in 2015, according to forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media.

The study estimates that Apple currently owns about 75% of the tablet market, which is expected to expand from less than 20 million units in 2010 to more than 230 million in 2015. By that time, Apple’s share of the market will drop to just 38%, due largely to the proliferation of cheaper and more advanced Android tablets. Still, it will take another year — until 2016 — for Android tablets to outsell Apple ones.

RIM’s prospects for market expansion are less optimistic, the study finds. Once the PlayBook begins supporting Android apps and 4G connectivity — HSPA+ and LTE versions are expected before the end of 2011 — sales are expected to improve.

Other analysts are more bullish on Apple’s market dominance. A study released by Gartner in April predicted the iPad will maintain a 47% share of the tablet by 2015, with Android hovering just above 38%.

Who will win the tablet wars, and how long will it take? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: android, apple, Google, iOS, ipad, study, tablets

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Why the Future of Transportation Is All About Real-Time Data

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 12:00 PM PDT

The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

In order to tackle urban transportation challenges in cities around the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Research Foundation of Singapore launched a five-year cooperative project in 2009 — Future Urban Mobility (FM) — to look at new models and technology tools aimed at sustainability. The FM team is one of four interdisciplinary research groups that are part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre, or SMART Centre. FM is developing SimMobility, a simulation platform where researchers explore transportation, environmental impacts, energy and land use and the activities of individual travelers in the mix.

Some of the projects of FM include autonomous driving — as in, cars that drive themselves — and simultaneous research is being done in the areas of vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication looks at applications for both safety and information retrieval.

Applications are being developed so your car will get information about the location and intentions of vehicles in your vicinity, contributing to the process of autonomous driving. Vehicle-to-infrastructure projects are less safety-related and more focused on traffic operations, including the possibility of your car receiving information from traffic signals regarding data like when an upcoming stoplight will turn green. With this data, you can adjust your speed and slow down without having to stop at the signal, thus reducing stop-and-go traffic movement.

Mobility On Demand

Another area of the FM project is mobility on demand. A bike-sharing services is an example of mobility on demand: You get the mobility you need, when you need it, at the place you need it, and you can take it to your destination and drop it off without having to return it to the pickup location. At this time, car-sharing services like Zipcar are not considered mobility on demand because you have to return the car at the same location you obtained it. One solution investigated in 2007 to address the issue of space for car-sharing stations was CityCar, led by the late MIT professor William J. Mitchell. The mobility on demand project is exploring additional solutions.

"Today’s phones have more computing power — in number of transistors — than supercomputers of 50 years ago. Yet, we don’t use it much beyond individual computing," explains Li-Shiuan Peh, associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT. "Phones have to access all web services through the Internet as they are computed on servers. My group is exploring ways to better harness the immense computer power of phones, networking a collection of phones together to run and drive novel services."

A recent application Peh's team developed and prototyped consists of phones mounted on car windshields with no Internet and no servers — just phones talking to each other. SignalGuru is an iPhone app service that lets users know when traffic lights will turn red or green so they can avoid stop-and-go driving and save on gasoline. They deployed the service at MIT and in Singapore and saw a one- to two-second accuracy in predictions and a 30% savings in gas.

LIVE Singapore

The LIVE Singapore! project is "a convergence of art, digital media and information technology" that gives citizens access to visualizations of data from multiple digital streams from the city. The public exhibition of this project opened at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and consisted of five large-scale projections of multi-dimensional maps of the city showing the movements of people, vehicles including planes and automobiles, electricity consumption and other elements.

“Employing real-time data recorded and captured by a vast system of communication devices, microcontrollers and sensors commonly found in our urban environment and mapping this information onto multi-dimensional maps of Singapore, we have been able to merge cartography, statistical analysis and data platform technology," says Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT SENSEable City Lab. "This suggests new ways to view, understand and ultimately navigate our city like never before.”


The DynaMIT project is a computer system that predicts the future of traffic and transportation conditions and provides the information in real-time to travelers and traffic managers. DynaMIT, led by Moshe Ben-Akiva, professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, stands for "Dynamic Network Assignment for Managing Information to Traveler." Ben-Akiva and his research group at the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) recently received the The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ITS Outstanding Applications Award in 2011.

So what does it do? DynaMIT provides short-term predictions of congestion in a specific traffic network and then attempts to anticipate congestion before it occurs. DynaMIT uses a mash-up of real-time and historical traffic data for a given area and operates on a continuous basis to not only analyze real-time information, such as from traffic sensors, but add a behavioral model to show the potential impacts of human reaction to the data received (i.e. gaper’s block). The output offers a prediction for a "short horizon" and essentially simulates a network of transportation for an hour into the future every five minutes, completing each simulation in about a minute. The simulations are run faster than real-time using both parallel and distributed computing. The system utilizes "network decomposition" — a traffic network is divided into sub-networks that are then simulated on multiple processors. This kind of work couldn't be done without modern computer methods.

"DynaMIT allows us to look into the future and see what the travel times, speeds and bottlenecks will be in the next hour," explains Ben-Akiva. "If we develop and broadcast information about future traffic conditions, it will affect the behavior and as a result, will affect what will happen in the future and invalidate the prediction unless we take that in account."

Right now, Ben-Akiva's team is working on DynaMIT 2.0 to re-engineer the system for new data that might become available to incorporate into their system, including navigation systems and travelers equipped with smartphones.

DynaMIT has been tested in a variety of locations including Los Angeles (but not in relation to the recent "Carmageddon") and Irvine, California, Beijing and Singapore. How well does DynaMIT predict?

Says Ben-Akiva, "We're testing it right now in Lisbon, Portugal, and it predicts very well. It has a unique advantage over other prediction methods in that it can be used to predict how a network will behave under situations where there is an event affecting demand or supply of transportation, whether it’s a planned event or unplanned event."

Ben-Akiva explains that a “planned event” might be roadwork, in which case capacity is taken away because a lane is closed or road blocked. An “unplanned event” might be an accident or flooding or another occurrence that causes a reduction in capacity. There could also be events that increase demand, such as a sporting event. In all of these situations, historical data is hindered because there is an unusual or unexpected change in either demand or supply, and that is exactly where DynaMIT excels.

"We did a test of unusual situations or unplanned events in Portugal and demonstrated that the system of DynaMIT has a significant advantage over data-mining, artificial intelligence or statistical methods that essentially combine historical with real time data to extrapolate it into the future," says Ben-Akiva.

Where do we go from here? In the future, car manufacturers will be installing more and more electronics in our vehicles. Soon, there will be equipment that allows vehicles to communicate with some sort of traffic information hub to provide information in real-time about the locations and the speed of travel and much more, as well as receive information that can be applied by the vehicle and the traveler. And when will we have cars that "drive themselves?" Soon, say the experts — soon.

Series Supported by BMW i

The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

Image courtesy of LIVE Singapore!, MIT

More About: car, Global Innovation Series, mit, simmobility, traffic, transportation

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Groupon IPO May Be Delayed After SEC Questioning [REPORT]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 11:09 AM PDT

Groupon‘s long-awaited IPO won’t come until mid to late September thanks to some back-and-forth with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the company’s accounting, according to a report.

The SEC is discussing “self-selected financial metrics” the company included in its pre-IPO paperwork, according to a report that aired Wednesday on CNBC. (The video is available below.)

A Groupon rep declined to comment, citing a quiet period for the company.

According to the report, the SEC is discussing Groupon’s S-1 and suggesting changes to improve it. In mid-July, Groupon filed an amended S-1 that reflected those changes, but a discussion is continuing over Groupon’s “gross profit and consolidated segment operating income.” Groupon defines that as what it retains after paying a merchant its share of the profits from a sale. However, the figure doesn’t include marketing expenses.

The SEC “has concerns about how these metrics are used and presented and is hashing out with Groupon how best to present them in its prospectus,” the report states.

Groupon filed for an IPO June 2. The review process usually takes two to three months, but given the SEC’s questions, the IPO isn’t likely to hit until mid-September at the earliest.

More About: groupon, ipo, SEC

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Scotland Yard Arrests Suspected LulzSec Spokesman

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 10:49 AM PDT

Scotland Yard says it has arrested a teenager accused of being the voice of LulzSec, the loose group of hackers behind some recent, notable site takedowns.

A 19-year-old who used the online name Topiary was arrested in Scotland, Scotland Yard said Wednesday. He faces charges for cybercrime, hacking and network intrusions, according to reports.

This latest arrest is the third made in the UK related to LulzSec. Another 19-year-old LulzSec suspect was arrested a month ago in Essex, England. According to the Guardian, he is due to appear in court August 30. A 16-year-old was also arrested and has been released on bail.

Hackers who identify themselves with the group have in recent months targeted the CIA’s website, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, the U.S. Senate’s site, Sony’s PlayStation Network and online games. And less than a week ago LulzSec and Anonymous released a joint statement in response to a law enforcement crackdown on hacking.

"These governments and corporations are our enemy," the statement said. "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."

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, airportrait

More About: anonymous, lulzsec, scotland yard

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Rdio To Let Your Entire Family Share One Music Subscription Account

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 10:33 AM PDT

Responding to “fervent” customer demand, Rdio will soon be rolling out a new subscription plan called "Unlimited Family,” which will allow your entire family to share one account at a discounted rate.

Rdio doesn’t have that many details about the plan yet, but will be revealing more about it during the next few weeks.

Although it is wholly possible to share a streaming account — just give your password to another person — you can’t currently play music from two locations at the same time using Rdio. (It’s also illegal to share passwords for streaming services — if you live in Tennessee.)

As far as we know, Rdio is the only on-demand service to offer a family plan. Still, it’s possible to listen to Spotify — for one — from multiple devices at once (provided you have premium and use offline syncing), so we’re curious to see what other trappings Rdio offers users.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Pink Sherbet Photography

More About: music, rdio, spotify

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9 Excellent Celebrity-Powered Social Good Campaigns [VIDEOS]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 10:02 AM PDT

The Stars of Social Good Series is supported by CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign, helping to change the world one mile at a time through contributions to local charities.

celebrity imageWant to see John Mayer make fun of Justin Bieber? Want to see Ed Helms run around Africa in a silly safari outfit? Now do you want to see them do it for charity?

Celebrities and non-profits have been pairing up for a long time to help give good causes some exposure and a much needed PR boost. Below we’ve combed through some of the best videos to bring you nine amazing celebrity-powered social good campaigns. We’ve picked a wide range of stars (from first lady Michelle Obama to Ke$ha) and a wide range of causes (from malaria prevention to anti-bullying).

There is, however, no way of including every amazing campaign out there. We had to leave some standouts behind, like Matt Damon’s work with, Leonardo DiCaprio’s commitment to environmental issues and dozens more. You can check out for a quick cheat sheet on what your favorite celebrity is really up to, or just take a look below for some spectacular examples.

We know we missed a bunch, so share your favorite celeb-backed campaigns in the comments below. Join the conversation.

1. Comedy Fights Malaria — A Bazillion Stars

In order to put an end to malaria in developing countries, Malaria No More tapped a ton of stars including John Mayer, the cast of The Office, Orlando Bloom and Aziz Ansari. As the campaign suggests, humor played a big role. Other videos asked to lower infant mortality rates and get kids to "Bieber" age, or followed Ed Helms as he "hunted" malaria-causing mosquitos in full Safari garb.

2. The Lazarus Effect — Bono and Friends

Bono teamed up with a bunch of his celebrity friends to illustrate what $0.40 can buy. The video supported the Lazarus Effect (a (RED) campaign) that aimed to help HIV-stricken people with just two life-saving pills. Bono has long been working on causes in Africa through and lent his star power to (RED)'s efforts.

3. Let's Move — Michelle Obama and Beyonce

First lady Michelle Obama has made nutritional eating and childhood obesity her main causes. She started Let's Move as a way to inspire kids to eat better and exercise. Beyonce joined the effort by retooling some song lyrics to customize a workout song, complete with choreography. Beyonce delighted students at PS 161 in Harlem, New York, with a surprise visit and impromptu dance workout.

Let's Move extends to all facets of childhood health with videos that sing the benefits of basketball, hockey and tennis. And one video even enlisted the help of Elmo and White House chef Sam Kass.

4. It Gets Better — Dan Savage, Pop Stars & Everyday Folks

Following a rash of gay teen suicides, Dan Savage started the "It Gets Better" campaign to tell LGBT youths that though they might be bullied now, their lives will improve. He opened up a YouTube channel where anyone could submit a video of support, including just about every celebrity in existence.

There are videos from President Barack Obama, Glee's bully Max Adler, the San Francisco Giants, Ke$ha and more.

5. LIVESTRONG — Lance Armstrong

Although Lance Armstrong has come under fire as of late, his work with LIVESTRONG and the Lance Armstrong Foundation has been a tremendous success story. Diagnosed with testicular cancer, Armstrong battled back physically, not only rejoining competitive cycling but using that platform to spread awareness and raise funds for cancer research. Nike, one of Armstrong's early sponsors, even lent its support.

6. — Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert may be best known for his comedic right-wing punditry, but he does a lot of amazing work supporting, an online platform where people can help fund local classrooms around the country. Colbert has not only lent his name, but also given the non-profit air time on his show, asking his followers and fans to help contribute. This video is from a 2009 panel Colbert moderated for the organization. Turns out his Spanish is pretty good and that he was stuffed into a fair number of lockers when he was a kid.

7. Crowdrise — Edward Norton

Edward Norton co-founded Crowdrise when he originally ran in the New York City Marathon and raised money for a conservancy in Africa. He helped create a platform where anyone can raise money for a cause. This year, he re-partnered with the marathon to turn the historic event into an historic fundraising opportunity. Rather than fade into the background, Norton has been an active advocate and knowledgeable spokesman for the organization and online philanthropy in general.

8. Pencils of Promise — Justin Bieber

Boy-wonder Justin Bieber has made philanthropy a part of his celebrity persona. In this clip he's supporting Schools 4 All, a program run by education non-profit Pencils of Promise that aims to build a series of schools for needy communities around the world. Bieber promises to visit the school that raises the most money. Considering the kid's capable of shutting down whole shopping malls with his presence, that's a big deal. Bieber has also shown his soft side in music videos like his participation in the "We Are The World" remake for Haiti and his own video, "Pray".

9. — Usher & Friends has a long history of asking celebrities to help motivate young people to make a difference. In the above video, Usher asked youths unable to vote in the 2008 Presidential election to make their voices heard. Other stars like Rachel Bilson, Rihanna and the Jonas Brothers have used the platform to help promote their own causes. By calling on so many different celebs, DoSomething is able to compile an impressive roster of talent while giving some serious spotlight to varied causes and projects.

Series Supported by CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign

The Stars of Social Good Series is supported by CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign. It all starts with one person helping another. Then that person helps two more. Pretty soon you have a neighborhood, a community, an entire city – one act of kindness inspiring another. That's why CITGO donates thousands of gallons of gas to worthy charities. It's our way of keeping the momentum going, one mile at a time.

More Social Good Resources From Mashable:

- Do Celebrities Really Help Online Causes?
- Is Purchasing Power the Best Way To Help Good Causes? [OPEN THREAD]
- 12 Top YouTube Videos for Social Good
- 7 Easy Ways to Do Good Online Beyond Donations
- How Non-Profit Organizations Are Bolstering Citizen Media Around the World

More About: celebrity, charity, comedy, non-profit, social good, social media, Stars of Social Good Series, video

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Mashable’s Birthday: 6 Years Covering Digital News and Innovation [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 09:40 AM PDT

Mashable has been witness to a lot in our six years of existence. From the the rise of social networks (like Facebook) to the fall of world leaders (like Hosni Mubarak). We’ve seen the spread of social media to all corners of the globe and reported on its profound impact and influence on nearly every aspect of our daily lives. During that time, Mashable has grown up as well, from a small, one-author blog about web tools and emerging social networks to the web’s largest independent news website dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology.

The infographic below documents just some of the major events we’ve reported on over the past six years. It serves as a timeline of both the advance of social and digital technology into the mainstream, and of Mashable’s evolution, as we continue to expand our coverage scope to keep pace with the spread of digital culture.

What digital, social media or technology news events had the most impact on you? Let us know in the comments.

Infographic design by David Foster

More About: infographics, mashable, trending

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The Looming Content Battle Between TV Everywhere & Online Streaming

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 09:13 AM PDT

The TV Everywhere movement got another win Wednesday, as Fox announced that it will limit next-day streaming access to some of its programs to cable, satellite and Hulu Plus customers. This news, which comes a week after CNN and HLN’s TV Everywhere push, is just the latest example of the complicated relationship between television networks and the burgeoning streaming services game.

TV Everywhere, which Netflix’s Reed Hastings has referred to as his company’s “biggest competitor,” is gaining favor with content producers, like broadcast and cable networks. Unlike the streaming deals that networks have to work out with Hulu, Netflix or Amazon, TV Everywhere streaming deals can be negotiated as part of a regular carrier relationship with cable and satellite operators.

As demand for online content continues to grow, networks are looking to get more money for their content. Netflix, which already has a dearth of first-run content, has seen its licensing fees explode in the last few quarters. Still, the cable networks want more. That’s where TV Everywhere comes in.

The carriage rates, or amount per subscriber that networks get from traditional cable and satellite providers, far exceeds pure online deals. That’s just one reason that premium cable networks like HBO have decided to skip Hulu or Netflix, and instead offer its own robust TV Everywhere offering, HBO Go.

Consumers often ask why they can’t just subscribe to HBO online. The answer is that the price that the market would bear for an online stand alone subscription, is in all likelihood less than what HBO is getting from cable and satellite companies in carriage and subscriber fees. As HBO told us at Mashable Connect, the goal with HBO Go wasn’t necessarily to add more HBO subscribers, but to keep existing HBO subscribers from canceling their subscriptions in the months when the network isn’t airing new episodes of its original series.

That makes HBO Go and TV Everywhere good for cable providers, but that's bad news for services like Hulu and Netflix.

The one thing that could change the situation — at least as far as free online streaming of content is concerned, would be if broadcast networks could get better ad deals for streaming content. Of the current Hulu owners, Fox has been most vocal about wanting to increase the ad footprint in Hulu.

What remains to be seen is what the other network partners will do.

More About: connected tv, Fox, hulu, hulu plus, netflix, tv everywhere

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Mashable’s 6th Birthday: What Our Staff Looked Like At Age 6 [PHOTOS]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 08:54 AM PDT

Mashable is turning six today, and we feel that gives us a real reason to celebrate.

We would be nothing today without the support and passion of our community. As a thank you present, the Mashable staff decided to embarrass ourselves publicly and post pictures of ourselves when we were 6.

What were you doing when you were 6? Let us know in the comments below.

Adam Ostrow - Editor in Chief

Adam isn't exactly six here. But he tried.

Sharon Feder - Publisher

"This was the least weird picture my mother sent over. Not kidding." - Sharon

Chris Taylor - San Francisco Bureau Chief

Mashable keeps our headquarters Kryptonite free.

Charlie White - Senior Editor

Choo Choo?

Christina Warren - Mobile and Development & Design Reporter

Apparently, the wig itched.

Brenna Ehrlich - Associate Editor of Media & Entertainment

Brenna now runs the blog Stuff Hipsters Hate.

Lauren Indvik - Marketing & Media Associate Editor

"The secret about my real hair color is out! Well, sort of." - Lauren

Josh Catone - Features Editor

"It was 1989. Don't laugh." - Josh

Jennifer Van Grove - Startups Reporter

Sarah Kessler - Startups Reporter

"I can't believe I'm allowing Mashable to publish this." - Sarah

Amy-Mae Elliott - Features Writer

Emily Banks - Assistant News Editor

Emily was feeling a bit peckish.

Stephanie Buck - Editorial Intern

We hope she got a hole-in-one!

Matt Silverman - Associate Features Editor

Best Christmas ever?

Brian Anthony Hernandez - Copy Editor

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... in Japan!

Todd Wasserman - Business and Marketing Editor

Zoe Fox - Social Good Intern

Pete Cashmore - Founder and CEO

That dog looks like he is about to walk Pete.

Stacy Green - Communications Director

The dogs are as big as she is!

Louis Dorman - Art Director

Bowl cut. Enough said.

Robyn Peterson - Senior Vice President of Product

Meghan Peters - Community Manager

Say cheese!

Stephanie Haberman - Community Assistant

The hair has only gotten larger over time.

Connie Preti - Community Intern

Pigtails should be mandatory. Aw.

Adam Hirsch - COO

Not much has changed.

Ken Detlet - SVP Sales & Marketing

Already in a suit!

Brian Dresher - Director of Business Development

"This photo just screams, 'Future Director of Business Development!' " - Brian

Lauren Rubin - Global Director of Advertising

"Bonus: VELOUR." - Lauren

Jay Bischof - Regional Sales Director

He may be young, but he's already jamming.

Tanya Salah - West Coast Sales Director

Tamar Weinberg - Sales Service Manager / Product Manager

"My dad decided, of all photos to scan from home, to give me this picture since I was wearing his clothes." - Tamar

Brie Manakul - Ad Ops Manager

Stefanie Rennert - HR Manager

Karen Hartline - Events Director

Lisa Deutsch - Event Sponsorship Manager

Jennifer Diamond - Events Liaison

Are you scared?

Kate Hayden - Events Assistant

Already excited for Mashable Connect.

Ada Ospina - Office Manager

Sana Ahmed - Executive Assistant

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Universal Music Group Launching Spotify Playlist Site in U.S.

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 08:37 AM PDT

itunes image

After years of derision between Spotify and U.S. record labels, UMG is out Wednesday with a playlist service called Digster that taps into Spotify’s free tier.

Billboard reports that the service is set to go live today. It’s a U.S. version of a pre-existing product in Sweden and Norway developed by Universal Music Sweden. Digster basically adds some authority to the music subscription service’s offerings, tapping music editors (UMG employees and artists) to create curated playlists from songs both on-label and off.

Playlists can be listened to via Digster or Spotify (all tiers) and users can subscribe to them just as they can subscribe to friends’ playlists. Playlist types include: “Live” playlists (regularly updated), “Digster By” (created by artists, not updated often) and “Standard” (standalone lists that are never updated). Digster also offers users recommended playlists to suit their musical tastes.

What do you think of Digster and UMG’s ardent adoption of Spotify?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles

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SoBe Jumps Into Ring With Mike Tyson’s iPhone Game

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 08:24 AM PDT

In keeping with its "Try Everything" positioning, beverage brand SoBe is trying something different with Mike Tyson.

The PepsiCo brand will run a game-within-a-game in Mike Tyson: The Main Event, a popular iPhone game RockLive introduced in March. SoBe's "Try Everything Challenge" beckons users to compete in a fruit-smashing game. The top scorer will win a trip to Las Vegas in October to train with Tyson.

The integration is the latest for SoBe, which has recruited celebs like Hilary Duff and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton for offbeat marketing efforts, and has hosted live events featuring melon bowling and milking fake orange cows.

The campaign, by New York ad agency Anomaly, launched in May. John Sicher, editor and publisher of industry trade Beverage Digest, says it's too early to tell if the campaign is having an impact on sales. "Twenty years ago, you would run a TV campaign and see a change instantly," he says. "Now there are too many leverage points." Sicher says those leverage points include pricing, distribution and social media, in addition to sales and marketing.

More About: advertising, gaming, iphone, MARKETING, Mike Tyson: The Main Event, SoBe

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The State of the Tablet and Ereader Market

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 08:01 AM PDT

The Consumer Trends Series is supported by CBS Interactive, which helps you find the perfect audience with a network of #1 sites like CNET,, CBS Sports and GameSpot. For more, visit

For relatively recent innovations, commercial tablets and ereaders have taken the market by storm.

In the tablet category, the iPad certainly set the pace for what’s shaping up to be a hot sector. However, several of this tablet’s competitors are giving Apple a run for its money in terms of features, network options and accessibility.

Here’s the skinny on how big that market actually is, who’s buying what, how apps and 4G connectivity figure into their success and much more, courtesy of research firm Mintel, which released a study on the tablet industry.

The Size and Nature of the Tablet/Ereader Market

Since the Kindle‘s launch in late 2007 and the iPad’s release in the spring of 2010, both tablets and ereaders have become part of mainstream mass markets relatively quickly.

In 2010, an estimated 10.3 million tablets and 6.7 million ereaders were sold. As far as ereaders are concerned, the Kindle remains the most popular unit, followed by Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Still, both technologies are very much in the “early adopter” phase, with between 7% and 11% of respondents in two recent surveys saying they owned either type of device. Not surprisingly, the purchasers of these gadgets tend to be young, male and affluent. Respondents whose households net $150,000 annually or more were more than twice as likely to report owning a tablet or ereader.

Another demographic more likely to have these gadgets is families with children. For those who have ever tried to educate or entertain the young, this statistic will hardly comes as a surprise. For respondents with two or more children living at home, 22% said they owned an ereader and 12% said they owned a tablet.

While current sales figures show staggering growth, the market could implode just as quickly as it’s exploded. The gadget marketplace is already crowded, and any kind of economic downturn could send consumers scurrying back to more multipurpose devices. And for single-use, high-price devices such as the higher-end ereaders, growth is certain to slow in the coming years as tablets and the larger smartphones gain popularity as reading devices, as well.

If nothing else, the lightning-fast growth of the tablet market, which only took off a year ago and has already surpassed the four-year-old ereader market, should be some indicator of the ereader’s long-term chances. Still, with some units available for less than $100, lower-end ereaders may remain an attractive option for those outside the young-rich-male demographic.

Where’s the Competition?

With a wide range of functions and features, tablets compete with an equally wide range of devices, including mobile phones, laptops, ereaders themselves, and all manner of portable entertainment devices. As a result, manufacturers are able to frame tablets as all-in-one gadgets that match a high price with high value.

On the other hand, tablets are only multifunctional to a certain extent — they won’t be replacing traditional PCs anytime soon. As rich as the various app ecosystems may become, tablets are still best suited to (and marketed for) tasks involving content consumption rather than creation.

Ereaders, on the other hand, face a very different and much more dangerous set of competitors: old-fashioned, cheap print materials. In addition to throwing down with tablets that have ereading apps and features, ereaders must continue to compete with traditional magazines and books.

To this day, low-tech print publications make up nearly 93% of the market, with ebooks claiming just 7%.

In addition to facing competition from these traditional print publications and tablets with ereading capabilities, ereaders must also contend with PCs and smartphones, which are also popular among respondents for ebook-reading capabilities.

Top Companies in the Market

While the top players in the field don’t often relate sales figures to the public for an apples-to-apple comparison, Apple and Amazon are clearly leading the pack in their respective sectors.

Apple’s lead in the tablet area is at least partly due to the fact that competitors’ offerings are still relatively nascent. To date, Apple has sold 15 million iPad and iPad 2 units.

However, many competing products are appearing in the space. Samsung, Motorola, and perhaps now Sony all have entrants in the field, and time will tell whether the Android-based devices will offer Apple as much competition on the tablet front as on the mobile phone front.

As far as ereaders go, with Borders out of business and the fate of its Kobo ereader uncertain, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook continue to battle for consumers’ attention.

In fact, Google may end up being one of the most influential names in both categories via its Android operating system and app market and its Google Books reading and purchasing platform.

What We Use These Gadgets For

As previously noted, consumers use tablets and ereaders. That is, people buy these gadgets in order to consume content.

While we might be using our PCs to get work done or create art and we’re happy to be productive on our phones, tablets and ereaders have largely remained devices of leisure which we use for reading, playing, listening to music and watching movies. Email seems to be the greatest exception to that rule.

Most consumers express more interest in reading ebooks on ereaders over reading them on tablets, in spite of the availability of tablet ereader apps. Also, free content (movies, music, reading material, apps, etc.) remains popular across both platforms.

Series Supported by CBS Interactive

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Top image courtesy of iStockphoto, sjenner13

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OK Go & Google Team Up for Interactive HTML5 Music Video

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 07:57 AM PDT

OK Go — those viral virtuosos — are out with a new music video Wednesday in collaboration with Google that showcases burgeoning web technology, HTML5.

The multi-browser experience — which premieres today on The New York Times website — is a collaboration between the band, dance troupe Pilobolus and Google. It was directed by lead singer Damian Kulash’s sister, Trish Sie.

Users can visit a dedicated site (use Google Chrome), enter in a message of their choice, and watch the band and troupe dance out that message via a series of browsers. You can watch the non-interactive version above.

This is not the first HTML5-flavored vid that Google has come out with. In May, music video director Chris Milk and, along with Aaron Koblin from Google Creative Labs, unveiled "3 Dreams in Black,” a woozy, HTML5/WebGL-spun video for "Black," from Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi’s album Rome. And, last summer, Milk and Co., busted out with "The Wilderness Downtown," an HTML5 experience created for the Arcade Fire's album, as well as the accompanying Wilderness Machine (a machine that spits out user-generated postcards during the band's stage show).

OK Go’s offering is not as visually stunning as “3 Dreams in Black” or “The Wilderness Downtown,” but it’s certainly a worthy addition to the band’s canon of innovative videos, which includes everything from old-school dance routines to a GPS-parade through downtown L.A.

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Create the Newest Mashable Follow Badge [CONTEST]

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 07:46 AM PDT

The Mashable Follow badges you’ve been collecting are witty, funny and nerdy — and now you can get in on the fun of creating them.

We want you to come up with a name and description for the next badge that we'll launch.

You can get some inspiration by checking out the badges we've already launched on Mashable CEO and founder Pete Cashmore’s Follow profile.

How To Enter the Contest:

  • Get creative! Post the name and description of the badge in the comments below. No art is required, only badge title and description.
  • Submit your idea by Monday, August 1, at 12 p.m. ET. So get your brains working!

We look forward to seeing your ideas!

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CBS & Showtime Shows Coming to Netflix in Canada & Latin America

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 07:28 AM PDT

CBS and Netflix have signed a two-year contract that will make certain CBS and Showtime shows, including past episodes of Californication and Dexter, available to Netflix subscribers in Canada and Latin American over its Watch Instantly streaming service.

This agreement is separate from the one the two companies signed in February, which brought a host of current and catalog content to Netflix customers in the U.S.

In addition to back seasons of Californication, Dexter and The United States of Tara, Netflix subscribers in Canada will have access to both current and previous seasons of CW’s 90210, as well as a range of CBS library programming including Numb3rs, Sleeper Cell and Twin Peaks.

Latin American subscribers will have access to previous season of 90210, Medium, Nurse Jackie, Californication, Dexter, Star Trek, Charmed and Twin Peaks via its streaming services.

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Fox Will Limit Next-Day Streaming of Content on Hulu

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 07:09 AM PDT

In further proof of the major TV networks' unease with Hulu, Fox will limit the next-day streaming of its shows to paying customers of approved satellite and cable operators, according to a report. All others will have to wait eight days to see the shows.

Fox, according to The New York Times, may be followed by ABC, which is considering setting a similar limit.

The decision, which affects Fox shows like The Simpsons and Bones, was prompted by "a desire to protect lucrative deals with cable and satellite distributors," the report says. "Increasingly, distributors are paying monthly fees for Fox programs through retransmission agreements and they dislike the facts that many of the programs are free online.” Hulu Plus customers will still be able to stream the Fox shows a day after they air.

This isn't the first time that Fox and other backers of Hulu have expressed displeasure with the service. In January, reports surfaced that NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney were considering pulling their content from Hulu. Created by NBCUniversal, Fox and Disney-ABC in 2007, Hulu was originally created to offset the influence of YouTube and pirated versions of TV shows on the Internet. But since 2008, sales execs at Fox and NBC have complained the site is draining viewers from those networks’ respective websites. The companies are now reportedly in the process of trying to sell Hulu.

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