Friday, 5 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Researchers Discover How To Use Square for Credit Card Fraud”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Researchers Discover How To Use Square for Credit Card Fraud”

Researchers Discover How To Use Square for Credit Card Fraud

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 03:43 AM PDT

Researchers attending the Black Hat security conference on Thursday demonstrated two ways in which Square — a mobile gadget that enables Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users to accept credit card payments — can be hacked to accept stolen credit card data, with very little technical hardware required and “no technical skills at all.”

Adam Laurie and Zac Franken, directors of Aperture Labs, discovered that due to a lack of encryption in the current Square app and free dongle for swiping cards, the mobile payment system can be used to steal credit card information, without even having the physical credit card.

Square works by converting credit card data into an audio file that is then transmitted to the credit card issuer for authorization.

In order to bypass the need to swipe a card, Laurie wrote a simple program — in fewer than 100 lines of code — that enables him and Franken to feed magnetic strip data from stolen cards into a microphone and convert that data into an audio file. Once that file is played into the Square device via a $10 stereo cable, the data is sent directly to the Square app for processing.

The hack proves that the Square app cannot distinguish between a true swipe on the dongle and an audio file fed to the app without swiping. In theory, the team could buy stolen credit card data in underground online markets and start up a practically skill-free criminal shop.

The duo was also able to pull money from a Visa gift card that is not officially allowed to be “cashed out.” They were also able to successfully skim a card using the dongle.

Square is due for an update and Franken noted that he heard the company is planning to release new dongles that encrypt credit card data. We’ve reached out to Square for comment and are awaiting response.

[via: CNET]

More About: credit cards, data, data security, Mobile 2.0, mobile payments, security, Square

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Facebook’s Photo Archive Can Identify People in Real Life [STUDY]

Posted: 05 Aug 2011 02:34 AM PDT

Facebook has had its share of problems over face recognition — a feature that connects a photo of a person’s face with their Facebook profile, making it easier to tag people in photos — but researchers from Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University recently proved that Facebook’s vast photo archive can be used to identify people on the street, too.

The authors of the study titled “Faces of Facebook: Privacy in the Age of Augmented Reality” — Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross and Fred Stutzman — demonstrated it at the Black Hat technical security conference, which was July 30 to August 4 in Las Vegas. They used publicly available data — photos from Facebook profiles of students — and then used face recognition technology to recognize these students as they look into a web camera.

The results? Using a database of 25,000 photos taken from Facebook profiles, the authors’ face recognition software correctly identified 31 percent of the students after fewer than three (on average) quick comparisons. In another test, the authors took photos from 277,978 Facebook profiles and compared them to nearly 6,000 profiles from an unnamed dating Web site, managing to identify approximately 10 percent of the site’s members.

The study raises important questions about our privacy. Online, you can make steps to hide your real identity such as changing your name, but as the authors of the study note, “It is much harder … to change someone’s face.” Based on the results of the study, it’s not hard to imagine someone creating a simple software/hardware combination which could identify people simply as they walk through a street or peer into a store’s window.

“Our focus, however, was on examining whether the convergence of publicly available Web 2.0 data, cheap cloud computing, data mining, and off-the-shelf face recognition is bringing us closer to a world where anyone may run face recognition on anyone else, online and offline — and then infer additional, sensitive data about the target subject, starting merely from one anonymous piece of information about her: the face,” the study concludes.

Check out the FAQ related to the study here.

[via CNET]

More About: face recognition, facebook, photo, Photos, privacy

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Bedphones Are Ultra-Thin & Light So You Can Sleep [PICS]

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 10:56 PM PDT

Place these impossibly thin and small Bedphones over your ears and soon you’ll be drifting off to sleepytime land.

The idea was to create unobtrusive headphones that would be conducive to sleep, and at a quarter-inch thick, you’ll probably forget you’re wearing them. Their “memory wire” gently clamps the phones to your ears, and the attached cable connects to any music player or mobile device with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

Crank up your favorite lullaby (or maybe even some white noise), and if you’re one who needs music to sleep, these $29.95 Bedphones just might do the trick without bothering the neighbors.

Two clever touches: Notice the satin eye mask tucked into the carrying case pictured in the gallery below. And there’s a free Bedphones Music Controller app for Android that automatically turns off the music when you fall asleep.

Bedphones Gallery

Memory wire holds them in place.

Size Comparison

They're tiny, scarcely larger than a penny.



Case, Mask Included

You'll look like a movie star wearing this satin sleep mask.

Carrying Case

More About: android, Bedphones, earphones, Headphones, iphone accessories, sleep

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5 Free Tools for Recording Google+ Hangouts

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:40 PM PDT

Google+ Hangouts are proving one of the most popular features of the new social networking service, but there’s no built-in option to record them.

Until Google adds such functionality, we’ve found five workarounds to help you record your next Hangout — free. While we’d strongly suggest any G+ pros invest in specialist software, our solutions will suffice for capturing consumer Hangouts and offer easy sharing options, too.

Take a look through the gallery for our five tested suggestions — which vary from quick and simple browser-based options to more advanced software downloads — and let us know in the comments any alternate ways you’ve recorded your Hangouts.

1. ScreenCastle

A very easy to use option, ScreenCastle gives you the ability to record your entire screen, or to change the size of the recording box by pixel dimensions. An unlimited service, ScreenCastle will tape from the moment you hit record until you're ready to stop. You then have to upload your recording to the site.

There are various sharing options open to you — a direct link to watch the video, an embed code to put it on your site, and a direct link to the FLV file. ScreenCastle also auto-generates a preview image of your footage — very handy indeed.

2. Pixetell

Once downloaded, Pixetell sits at the middle top of your screen as a small black icon. When you're ready to record, just hover over the icon and select "record screen." It will automatically select the most forward window you have open, but you can adjust this either by clicking on another window, or changing the size of the record box.

While in record screen mode, Pixetell adds a round menu bar to your display, which lets you pause, stop, etc. Once recording, it shrinks down to a tiny, unobstrusive timer. When you stop the recording, the Pixetell player window opens.

You can then review your clip as well as explore the share and export options. Pixetell offers direct uploading to YouTube. As far as exporting goes, you can grab your files in FLV, AVI, MOV, OGV and WMV formats. Although it's such a fantastic tool, screen recording is just one string in the Pixetell bow — we'd recommend checking it out.

3. Screenr

Screenr is slick, smooth and social. There's one catch — it only lets you record for up to five minutes. Recording is browser-based and instantaneous, and you can resize the recording window to suit.

Once your five minutes is up, you can add a description to your clip, then sign into Screenr via one of your social media accounts for built-in sharing to Facebook and Twitter, the option to publish to YouTube, to generate an embed code, or to share the Screenr URL directly. As far as downloads go, you can save the MP4 file down to your computer.

Nifty tools include the ability to subscribe to a Screenr user's RSS feed or add a Screenr bookmarklet to your toolbar for quick-start recordings. Pro accounts range from $19 to $289, but even the most expensive option still limits recordings to 15 minutes.

4. BB FlashBack Express

FlashBack Express from Blueberry Software is a free download for Windows users. Although the program looks a little dated, it certainly gets the job done.

It's made up of two parts — the recorder and the player. The recorder opens in a familiar-looking window and gives you the option to record your full screen, an area within a draggable box, or just a browser window (which is particularly handy for Hangouts). Once you've recorded your clip, you can then view it in the player. You might find the basic edit options handy, like the ability to upload directly to YouTube or to export your video as Flash (both SWF or FLV) or AVI.

The best bit about FlashBack Express is that there's no recording time limit other than that allotted by your free disk space. Standard and Pro editions are also available for £55 (approx $90) and £124 (approx $200).

5. Screencast-O-Matic

A browser-based option, Screencast-O-Matic is simple to use and comes tried, tested and recommended. Once you've hit the "start recording" button, you can resize the window to fit your Hangout — just press the red record button and then hit "done" when you're finished.

Then you can download the clip, or upload it to the S-O-M site or YouTube. Download video options include MP4, FLV (Flash) or AVI. The free version limits recordings to 15 minutes. Recordings have a Screencast-O-Matic logo on the bottom right of the video. If you want to lose the logo you can upgrade to Pro for just $12 a year, which also gives you advanced editing options. It also means your recording time is limited only by local disk.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Lefthome

More About: gallery, Google, Google Plus, google plus hangouts, Google Plus Lists, List, Lists, screencasting, software, trending, video, web apps

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Transparency vs. Anonymity: Where Do You Stand? [INFOGRAPHIC & POLL]

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:44 PM PDT

Many of us don’t think twice about laying out details of our personal lives in public for all to see. Many might even be using our real names, just as Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg likes it. On the other hand, consider free-for-all meme site 4chan, where users cavort about in complete anonymity. That site’s founder, Christopher “Moot” Poole, thinks anonymity fosters creativity, honesty, and authentic content sharing.

Does anonymity necessarily create an environment where trolls and cruelty run rampant? Does transparency create a homogenized environment where nothing is real, people end up indulging in constant self-promotion, and users aren’t free to express themselves for fear of repercussions? Take a look at this infographic, and then let us know in the poll and comments section where you stand.

Infographic courtesy Daily Infographic/Lindsey Savino, used with permission.

More About: 4chan, anonymity, facebook, infographic, poll, Poole, transparency, trolls, Zuckerberg

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Volunteer Matching Service Helps You Donate Your Professional Skills

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:14 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Catchafire

Quick Pitch: Catchafire matches volunteers and social good organizations for pro bono work.

Genius Idea: Carving out a niche for pro bono work instead of compiling a general volunteer database.

Catchafire founder Rachael Chong is not especially well-suited for building houses. As a physically not-large person, her hoisting power is relatively limited, and she doesn’t consider herself to have any particular carpentry skills. So why, when she had valuable skills in finance and business that she was willing to share, was she tacking on shingles for Habitat for Humanity — a cause she believed in but nonetheless frustrated her?

“People weren’t looking [for volunteers with those skills],” she says. “It made me feel like I couldn’t be in corporate America and give back at the same time, which isn’t true.”

It’s not that social good organizations didn’t need skills like hers — it’s that they weren’t necessarily sure where to look for them. A 2009 survey(.pdf) of 300 nonprofit executives by Deloitte found that 97% of them didn’t know whom within a company to approach about pro bono work. Ninety-five percent of them said they didn’t know which companies to approach.

Chong started to see a solution to this problem as she assigned friends small pro bono projects for a nonprofit she joined after leaving the corporate world. With what she learned from that experience, she launched Catchafire in September.

The website matches professionals who have skills they’d like to volunteer with organizations that need work done. While established volunteer sites like idealist and volunteermatch already had vast databases (VolunteerMatch boasts listings from 79,000 nonprofit organizations), Chong wanted to take a more personal approach that the company has dubbed “eHarmony for volunteering.”

Volunteers fill out profiles that detail their interests and skills, and Catchafire sends them projects that might be a good match.

Catchafire projects span a smaller niche than database-style volunteering websites. They are usually about 30-to-80 hour projects that involve professional skills, can be completed by one person in three months, and have a clear deliverable. Chong, for instance, is currently working on a fundraising plan for an organization called Youth Challenge America.

About 1,700 social good organizations and 10,000 volunteers have registered for the service. Just as Idealist charges U.S.-based organizations per volunteer posting, Catchafire makes money by charging organizations a subscription fee that varies depending on their size.

“It is not uncommon to have your time wasted when volunteering,” Chong says of the decision to make Catchafire a company instead of a nonprofit. “[Paying a subscription fee] shows organizations are willing to put skin in the game to make this worthwhile.”

Image courtesy of istockphoto, BirdofPrey

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, Catchafire, idealist, volunteering, volunteermatch

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Foursquare Updates Website With Inline Photos

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:44 PM PDT got a photo-infused facelift Thursday. The location-based service, which lets users post photos along with their checkins, is now displaying these images inline with checkins on the site.

“Take a look: Your friends’ checkins on the web ( now show photos inline (no needless clicking). Enjoy the sights!,” the Foursquare team announced via Twitter.

“We’re getting so many photos, we just hacked up a quick way to make them look more interesting,” Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley tells Mashable.

The small but colorful update adds a little extra pizazz to Foursquare’s web experience and could entice users to engage more with the checkin-related photos shared by their friends.

When asked whether today’s photo makeover foreshadows similar updates to the startup’s slew of mobile apps, Crowley quipped, “I’ll add it to the list.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, clasesdeperiodismo

More About: foursquare, Photos, social media

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HOW TO: Target Ads Without Stalking Customers on the Web

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 05:24 PM PDT

target image

Richard Frankel is the co-founder and president of Rocket Fuel, a leading real-time ad targeting platform. You can follow him @rocketfuelinc.

By now, almost everyone has been targeted by online advertising. One minute you're browsing for a pair of pants and then for days on end, everywhere you go on the web, you're stalked by the same banner ad offering a discount on pants. Even if you've already purchased the pants, the ad continues to stalk you.

For marketers, ad “retargeting” — receiving ads based on previous actions or purchases — can be an effective method to reconnect with interested shoppers even after they leave a website, thus increasing brand recall and boosting conversions. Retargeting, when done right, is useful to consumers, offering them discounts or promoting items they're likely to be interested in. But done poorly, retargeting can have a negative effect on your brand. Many people find it creepy to be “stalked” and will grow increasingly irritated by your ads.

Unfortunately, most customer retargeting today is done by blunt force. Targeting companies simply serve ads to consumers who might be interested based on demographics, click behavior and browsing history. They hit these same consumers with the same ads for days on end as they travel around the web.

But there is another way. It involves using data modeling and predictive analytics to do real-time precision targeting. With the newest ad targeting methods, you can reach highly-specific audiences such as “middle-income people in northeast Michigan in the immediate market for designer gravestones,” or “owners of English Bulldogs whose pets have arthritis and are looking for warm dog booties.”

In the case of the pants shopper, you could serve different ads to the shopper at each moment based on real-time data analysis. Using predictive analytics, you could find out what items they might be interested in next as a complement to that purchase, what colors and styles they like, or whether they prefer your brand. Instead of being followed by one ad for pants, the shopper might see an ad for belts that match his or her style and budget, or a 15% discount in return for filling out a review of the item he or she just purchased.

If you've decided you'd like to take your targeting practices from blunt force to fine-tuned finesse, here are several steps to get you started.

Segment Your Retargeting Audience

Good retargeting starts with finding receptive, in-market consumers interested in your offers and messages. Start by analyzing all the audience profile data you've developed over the years and group your audiences into segments. Conduct real-time tests on these audiences to identify which exact micro-segments are most interested in your products.

If this sounds just like targeting, it's because the same elements apply. Don't stop testing. Audiences change over time as consumers learn more about your products, make purchases, read reviews, and are influenced by other products and information in the outside world.

Optimize Campaigns in Real Time

It's not enough to optimize your campaigns once a month, or even once a week. If a consumer sees your same ad several times in one week, the feeling of "stalking" can set in quickly. Instead, you should be optimizing your ads in real time.

To target and retarget ads, you'll need to work with a targeting company that provides real-time optimization; most campaigns only do so once a month. Make sure to ask if they can deliver.

Continue to Refine Audiences

Make sure your targeting provider offers real-time predictive analytics so you can refine your audience segments on the fly and target and retarget them with specific campaigns and messages.

Make sure to measure the effectiveness of your audience segments against the metrics that matter to you. Perhaps the most important metric for your brand is increasing the shopping basket size or increasing shopping frequency among new customers.

Manage Ad Frequency

Use campaign analytics and real-time surveys to find out what consumers think of your brand at a given moment. This will help you gauge how your ads are resonating. The goal is to determine the frequency at which your ads are shown enough to boost brand recall and increase sales without annoying consumers.

Remember, the “right” ad frequency is an individual measurement based on your customers and the needs of your company. Real-time brand surveys will help you see both the positive and negative impact of your campaigns.

Go Multi-Channel

The best way to not "stalk" consumers is to reach them on different channels at different points in the browsing and purchase process. Integrate media buys across display, video, mobile, and social to reach customers wherever they are in the moment and make sure your retargeting company can serve ads onto all of these platforms.

Use deep data analytics to determine which ads work on your audience on specific channels or at specific times.

Smarten Up

Consumers can feel stalked even on a single website. If you buy inventory on a website hoping to avoid chasing someone around the web, your ad may still appear on that site every single time the person visits. The answer is to buy across a wide range of media via display, video, social, and mobile, then optimize.

Do your brand a favor and use sophisticated real-time predictive analytics to connect with consumers when they want, where they want, and how they want. One day we'll look back at blunt-force targeted ads the same way we see other digital nuisances. Get a head start on the competition by making your retargeted ads smart, fresh and useful to consumers.

Image courtesy of Flickr, diegohp93

More About: ads, business, how to, MARKETING, targeting ads

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First Look: New iPhone App Brings Motion to Photo Sharing

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 04:48 PM PDT

GLMPS, a new photo sharing app for iPhone, differentiates itself from Instagram by trading filters for motion.

The app is called GLMPS [iTunes link] and like other photo sharing apps, it lets users capture an image and then share that image with their friends on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Foursquare.

What makes GLMPS different is that instead of just capturing an image, it also captures five seconds of video that precedes the shot. So instead of just sharing a static image, you can share a snippet of an actual moment.

Seeing is believing, so check out this GLMPS I made of myself enjoying my favorite beverage.

The members of the GLMPS team met each other over YouTube — a cool founder story that highlights the connective power of video and sharing life experiences as a basis for creating and building GLMPS.

Right now users can view GLMPSes in the iPhone app or via a direct web link. In the future, the GLMPS team told us they plan to allow users to create collections of GLMPS moments and then upload those collections to YouTube. Support for more publishing sources is also planned.

Although we like the idea behind the app — and firmly believe that video, like still photography, is a powerful and connective force, we do have a few questions about the app itself.

The first issue is one of scale. In its current state, the app doesn’t feel completely finished. It could be launch-day server woes (which we totally understand). but we had problems uploading GLMPS and several of us at Mashable had the app crash on us on occasion. The app also lacks some of the simplicity that makes Instagram such a success.

The secondary issue is one of quality. Because the GLMPS team understands that lots of users will be uploading from a cellular data connection, video quality is heavily compressed and lower resolution. It still looks quite good, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Our bigger problem is that the “image” part of the photo itself is taken just using the video camera. In other words, you’re getting a still photo at 640×480 resolution or lower. It’s nice that that image is saved to the iPhone camera roll, but we wish it had better quality.

We like the idea of the app, but it’s too soon to tell if sharing mini moving images will be as compelling as sharing photos using other photo sharing services. We think the real potential for GLMPS will come with the ability to string together multiple images and montages to create one bigger movie.

More About: First Look, glmps, instagram, iphone app, photo sharing, review

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Gmail Unveils Preview Pane: Browse Emails While You Reply to Them

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 03:41 PM PDT

Gmail is taking a few cues from its tablet apps with Preview Pane, Google’s newest Gmail Labs feature.

Preview Pane, which is now available in Gmail Labs, allows users to simultaneously preview parts of an email while reading or replying to others. Users of Gmail for iPad or Android will instantly recognize the interface — its design is directly inspired by the email service’s mobile web apps.

Activating Preview Pane opens up a three-window panel for Gmail, with the Preview Pane in between the navigation and email panes. Activating the horizontal split places the preview pane at the top and emails below the preview pane. Users can change pane settings with a button that appears on the top right corner of Gmail. Google‘s Official Gmail Blog suggests that users with higher-resolution screens will get the most out of the feature.

The concept of a Preview Pane sounds intriguing, but my initial tests lead me to conclude it’s a clunky and incomplete product. It breaks up my Gmail Labels in a way that keeps them from lining up with Gmail’s navigation pane, leading to a ugly and cluttered look. The standard two-pane system is cleaner, although you probably can get through more emails with Preview Pane activated.

Will you be switching to Preview Pane? Test it out and let us know what you think of it in the comments.

More About: email, gmail, Google, Preview Pane, trending

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Google News Introduces Editors’ Picks Sidebar

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:46 PM PDT

Google, sometimes described as the enemy of publishers, is giving media companies a little more control over its content. The company launched a tool Thursday that allows publishers to highlight content on the home page of Google News’s U.S. edition.

The “Editors’ Picks” feature appears a third of the way down the Google News page, and shows highlights from publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. Readers can click the arrows to tab through different publications, and use the slider at the bottom to let Google know what sources they’d like to see more or less from.

This is one of several tools Google has rolled out for publishers lately. Most recently, Google invited book publishers to give authors greater visibility in search results by displaying their photos next to articles displayed on search result pages.

Companies interested in gaining access to Editors’ Picks should visit the Help Center to get started.

More About: Google, google news, media, newspapers

For more Media coverage: Will Hand Over Its Twitter Account to Contest Winner

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:33 PM PDT

twakeover image is surrendering its Twitter account, @water, for an entire week to the user who racks up the most votes on its site.

To enter, you must be following @Water on Twitter. Then sign up to participate with a short message on why you’re right for the job. The public can vote until August 31 on who should get the keys to‘s Twitter car. The winner will control the Twitter account from September 5 to 11.

Considering @Water has more than 425,000 fans, the contest — called a “Twakeover” — is a pretty big deal.

“One of our core pieces of DNA is empowering people to make a change,” says Mike McCamon,’s Chief Community Officer. “The people in the developing world, we don’t just give them a well, they’re involved in it, it’s community driven.” Closer to home, encourages its audience to donate more than its money — the organization wants your voice and your social status, too. It was only fitting, says McCamon, to honor those efforts by donating’s own voice for a week.

Still, it’s a bit of a gamble. The contest could be spammed by someone looking to get more followers. The winner could go off on personal tangents. So McCamon and his team have drafted rules to prevent any cheating or reputation-busting tweets. “I want to protect ourselves from a Weiner moment,” McCamon says. The winner will send McCamon their tweets and he will either publish them unedited or withhold them altogether. You won’t see strings of profanity or offensive content.

But McCamon is confident that he won’t really have to do any policing. He trusts the community will choose someone passionate about water issues — someone who might do a better job talking about the issues than the company. “Every organization is looking to grow,” McCamon says. “In the [contest's] top 10 there might even be people that would come work for It allows the audience to self-select its ambassadors.”

So far the contest seems to be populated by people wanting to make a difference. Still,’s unfailing trust in its audience (and the Internet, for that matter) is a show of digital bravery. Even if the contest goes awry, the organization’s twakeover is an example of turning all those buzzy terms — brand loyalty, openness, empowerment, interaction, dialogue — and putting them into honest, unpredictable action.

More About: contest, non-profit, social media, twakeover, twitter, water,

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Groupon Buys Obtiva To Boost Engineering Team

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:01 PM PDT

Groupon, the ready-to-IPO daily deals juggernaut, has announced its acquisition of Obtiva, a Chicago-based Ruby on Rails software development firm.

The talent-motivated deal will bring many of Obtiva’s team members on board as in-house Groupon engineers.

“We've been working side-by-side with our Obtiva colleagues since way back in 2009, when Groupon had a handful of engineers,” Groupon’s director of communications Julie Mossler writes of the company’s most recent buy. “We decided to stop living in sin and tie the knot.”

Obtiva, a six-year-old company, announced the nuptials via Twitter and its website. “While we aren’t accepting new business at the moment, we will continue to service existing clients,” the company says.

“Obtiva has given invaluable support over the past few years and owned key pieces of Groupon development work,” Mossler adds in statement to Mashable. “We're excited to boost our Chicago-based engineering talent with a team that has already proven themselves.”

Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Groupon

More About: acquisition, groupon, obtiva, Ruby on Rails

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Google & Microsoft Trade Jabs Over Patent Claims

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 01:39 PM PDT

Google and Microsoft exchanged some words via social media on Thursday as the PR war over patents continued.

Google, which launched the first missive Wednesday via its blog, updated that post Thursday to respond to a claim by Microsoft.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, tweeted Wednesday evening: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.” Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft’s lead corporate communications, also posted a letter from Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, refusing an offer from Microsoft to bid on the Novell patents. Then Walker tweeted: "Free advice for David Drummond – next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)."

That led David Drummond, who wrote Google’s initial post, to reply: “It’s not surprising that Microsoft would want to divert attention by pushing a false ‘gotcha!’ while failing to address the substance of the issues we raised.” Drummond went on to say that Microsoft’s objective was to eliminate any protection the Novell patents could offer against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. “Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android — and having us pay for the privilege — must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.”

Drummond also points out that the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped in, forcing Microsoft to sell the patents. The DOJ is also “demanding that the winning group (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC) give a license to the open-source community. “This only reaffirms our point,” Drummond writers. “Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales.”

So far, there doesn’t appear to be any comment from Apple or Oracle, which were also mentioned in Google’s post on Wednesday.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hronos7

More About: apple, Google, microsoft, oracle, patents

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LinkedIn Revenue Jumps 120% to $121 Million, Beats Wall Street Estimates

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 01:29 PM PDT

LinkedIn generated $121 million in revenue and $4.5 million in income in Q2, beating Wall Street expectations in its first quarter as a public company.

The business social network earned more than double the $54.9 million in revenue it generated in Q2 2010. As a result, the company earned $4.5 million in net income after taxes, according to today’s financial earnings report. That’s about the same as the $4.29 million it earned in Q2 2010. LinkedIn reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.04, beating Wall Street estimates that the company would earn $0.01 per share.

The company also released a slew of stats about the health of its social network, claiming record levels of members, unique visitors and pageviews. LinkedIn now has 115.8 million members, up 61% from Q2 2010. Unique visitors are up 83% to 81.8 million per month, while pageviews jumped 80% to 7.1 billion.

LinkedIn shares rose 5.8% in after-hours trading on the positive news to $101. It’s important to note, however, that LinkedIn shares dropped by a whopping 9.59% during today’s stock market freefall.

This is the first earning report for the newly public company. LinkedIn kicked off the tech IPO boom in May and in spectacular fashion. The stock nearly doubled in value in its first day on the market.

More About: earnings, ipo, linkedin

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Happy Shark Week: 6 Online Diversions to Sink Your Teeth Into

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 01:23 PM PDT

If you’ve been glued to The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, but are experiencing withdrawal symptoms while away from your TV, then we have a treat for you.

In honor of the annual shark fest, we’ve found six forms of digital entertainment featuring the deadly fish: two live-streaming webcams, two entertaining online games and two sharktacular iPhone apps.

Take a look at our fun and free discoveries in the gallery below, and recommend other shark-themed bits and bobs in the comments below.

1. Talking Great White: My Pet Shark

This app doesn't look like much on paper. A realistic shark treads water on your screen. You can stroke it (eliciting a kind of shark purr) and see it move about a bit. However, the Great White does have one fantastic trick: It will repeat back anything you say in a "deep shark voice." Cue hilarity.

2. Georgia Aquarium Ocean Voyager

The Georgia Aquarium's "Ocean Voyager" exhibit is vast, containing 6.3 million gallons of water. You can view the live webcam to try and spot one of the four whale sharks. In addition to other fish, keep a lookout for four manta rays.

3. Sydney Shark

This chaotic, colorful game allows you to control a shark in sunglasses during its homicidal Sydney Harbour rampage. Lots of cartoon violence and explosions keep the play lively, but use headphones if you plan to play in the office. It's pretty noisy.

4. Hungry Shark - Part 1+

Hungry Shark is just what a free iPhone game should be — fun, easy to play and good-looking. Using tilt controls your shark consumes as much food as it can. This "aquatic eat 'em-up" will keep you entertained for hours.

5. Monterey Bay Open Sea Cam

The Monterey Bay Aquarium "Open Sea" exhibit displays mesmerising marine life. Additionally, funny-looking hammerhead sharks, giant bluefin tuna, pelagic rays and giant green sea turtles could swim past the camera at any moment.

6. Mad Shark

Slightly less bonkers than the other shark-themed online game we've mentioned, this side-scroller lets you control a mad shark trying to out-swim the evil scientists who have been experimenting on him. It's not as easy as it sounds, however — you have to balance speed with stamina. How the top-scorer got past the 50,000 meters mark, we'll never know. Give it a go and see how far you manage.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, THEPALMER

More About: gallery, games, gaming, iphone apps, iPhone games, Lists, live streaming, live streams, online games, Shark Week, video, webcams

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Lollapalooza in Photos: Check Out This Instagram Aggregator

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 01:10 PM PDT

Lollapalooza kicks off Friday in Chicago. If you’re unable to attend, take heart: You can still look at snaps, all cast in various flattering filters evoking the 1970s.

Behold Lollagram, a fun little hack created by PR firm Golin Harris that aggregates pictures from the festival tagged with words pertaining to Lollapalooza.

If you’re attending the festival, hit up the site — after downloading apps both official and birthed from HackLolla — and augment your patchy memories.

Check out more Instagram remixes below:


Carousel is a gorgeous Instagram Mac app for your desktop.

Carousel, which sells for $4.99 on the Mac App Store, includes the standard photo viewing and commenting features, but it also packs a number of nuances -- double-click photos to enlarge and save them to iPhoto for instance -- that make it a near picture-perfect interpretation of Instagram in desktop form.

We love the four theme options, keyboard shortcuts and the growl notification options, but it's the simple and subtle design touches that make it a standout application.


Instagallery [iTunes link] is a $1.99 application for browsing Instagram photos on your iPad or iPhone.

Swipe through popular photos or login to scroll through, "like" and comment on your friends' Instagram photos. Hit the "play" button and the app will start a slideshow and scroll through photos for you.

Instagallery also includes user profiles, different background options, and supports tag and user search. You can even double-tap or pinch to zoom photos to enlarge them.


Screenstagram is an Instagram-powered screen saver for Mac. Download the app and you'll be able to view your friends' photos as your always-updating desktop screen saver.

"We wanted to do something that took advantage of the eye candy, something beyond a web-based photo browser – something to really showcase our friends' grainy, bar room photography," app creator Doug Pfeffer says. "A way we could sit with the photos and soak them in longer than usually allowed by the ephemeral, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am approach taken by the feed in the Instagram iPhone app."

After download, simply select Screenstagram as your screen saver in the Desktop & Screen Saver settings panel. Input your user name and password, and optionally select to show user names or include popular images. Then, sit back and watch as Instagram photos are swapped in and out as tiles on your screen.

No Instagram account? No worries. You can still use Screenstagram to view popular photos.


Like Screenstagram, GramFrame is an Instagram screen saver, but this one is for your iPad.

The $1.99 iPad application [iTunes link] is as simple as they come. You can log in to Instagram and choose to watch popular photos, friends' photos or your own photos cascade on to your iPad.


Instagram early adopters have been posting photos for more than seven months and have likely developed a massive photo archive. MorningPics offers a simple way to relive those memories.

MorningPics delivers one randomly selected previously taken Instagram photo via email each morning. The email includes comments and "likes." Depending on what you post to Instagram, your daily morning trip down Instagram memory lane could be quite emotional or inspiring.

Sign up here for early access to the private beta.


Extragram is a third-party web app for Instagram you can use to view, search, "like" and comment on Instagram photos.

The elegant interface displays photos in three different styles: Grid, Filmstrip (pictured) or Map view. We like it for its subtleties and finesse. We also enjoy the "Discover" tab for finding trending tags and profiles on Instagram. Plus, the app developers frequently release new features so it continues to get better with time.


Gramfeed, like Extragram, is a web client for Instagram.

Gramfeed is a little less flashy than Extragram, but the interface does offer two different photo views and an enjoyable way to view your Instagram timeline, add comments and "likes" to friends' photos, search and browse popular photos.


Inkstagram is also a web app for browsing Instagram photos. You can view photos in small, medium or full sizes while browsing your feed, popular photos or your own photos.

We especially appreciate the "My Likes" view which showcases all of the photos that you've liked on Instagram.


Instaprint is a printer for Instagram photos.

Each Instaprint box, intended to be an Instagram photo booth for parties, is set with a location or tag so that any Instagram photo appropriately tagged will be automatically printed in an ink-less Polaroid-like fashion.

The Instagram prints even include comments. For the Instagram geek, it really doesn't get much cooler than this.

Keepsy Instant Album

Scrapbooking startup Keepsy's Instant Album is a print photo book for your Instagram photos.

The online app connects to your Instagram account, pre-selects your best filtered photos and auto-generates an instant album of roughly 35 photos that you can purchase and place on your coffee table. If you'd rather customize and design your album, have at it; Instant Album lets you edit page layouts, drag-and-drop photos onto the same page, tweak backgrounds, customize text and so forth.

The 11-by-8.5 inch hardback albums start at $29.95.


Musician Moby used Instagram to add photo flare to his Destroyed album release. The artist launched a microsite tying together Soundcloud and Instagram to create an album/photo book experience with interactive appeal.

Users can listen to the new album while clicking on map points to view Instagram photos taken from Moby's tour.

We think it's a marvelous and highly creative use of Instagram's API and hope it will inspire more artists to explore photo-sharing and music mashups.


Momento, the $2.99 personal social media diary application for iPhone users, was one of the first applications to add Instagram integration.

The app is a winner in our book because it lets you automatically import your Instagram photos for inclusion in your daily diary entries. Now your Instagram moments don't have to be so fleeting.


When social magazine Flipboard added Instagram integration in March, application users were presented with an elegant way to leanback, flip through and enjoy their friends' filtered and tilt-shifted photos.

The rich integration displays brighter, bolder photos, and lets you comment and "like" friends' photos from within Flipboard.

Instagram inside Flipboard is a fresh take on leisurely weekday or weekend reading.

More About: instagram, Lollagram, Lollapalooza, music

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Facebook vs. Shagbook: Social Network in Trademark Dispute with Adult Dating Site

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 12:32 PM PDT

In an eyebrow-raising trademark battle, Facebook filed suit against adult dating site Shagbook in May. Facebook’s contention: that the world’s largest social network would be “damaged by the issuance of a registration for the mark Shagbook.”

Shagbook has now filed its own opposition, along with counterclaims, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

As represented by SNRG Ventures, Shagbook, in the filing, “denies the allegation that Facebook is highly distinctive as it is a generic term.” It also challenges the validity of Facebook’s trademark, arguing that it should never have been granted.

Shagbook, in Facebook’s reasoning, is in violation of Facebook’s trademark because the site’s name is highly similar in “appearance, sound meaning, and commercial impression.” Its filing says the name was adopted with “the intent to call to mind and create a likelihood of confusion … and/or trade off the fame of Facebook.”

Not so, says Shagbook. When its American owner was living in the UK, he “referred to his little black book as his little ‘Shagbook’,” a representative for SNRG Ventures told Mashable. “He was amused with the word ‘shag,’ and picked up the name, all perfectly innocently,”

Just how far will Shagbook go to fight Facebook’s trademark suit? “SNRG and Facebook’s attorneys have spoken but there have been no formal negotiations as of yet,” the representative tells us. “SNRG plans to vigorously defend the Shagbook mark.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first instance of Facebook attempting to protect its mark. The social network has made several prior trademark claims against web companies using “face” or “book” in their names.

The full text of Facebook’s original filing against Shagbook, and Shagbook’s counter are included below.

Facebook vs. Shagbook

Shagbook Notice of Opposition

Image courtesy of Flickr, Joe Gratz

More About: facebook, legal, shagbook, trademark, trademark infringement, trending

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Stock Market Tanks: Winners & Losers in Tech

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 12:22 PM PDT

U.S. stock markets are tanking, and tech stocks are plunging too. Which tech companies are weathering the storm and which ones are getting hammered hard?

A weakening economy, increasing federal debt, concerns about the European debt crisis and a weak job outlook are all taking their toll on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500. As of 3:10 p.m. ET, the Dow was down 2.7%, the Nasdaq dropped 3.3% and the S&P 500 plummeted 3.0%.

This isn’t a one-day event, either. The Dow has dipped by 8.5% since July 21, and there are no signs that a market recovery is coming anytime soon.

How are tech stocks handing the market’s decline? We’ve put together a list of top tech stocks from AAPL to YHOO in order to figure out who the winners and the losers of today’s selling frenzy. Any company outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average is considered a “winner” in this scenario, as only one tech stock from our group — Pandora — is actually up overall.

Here is our list:

Tech Stocks: WINNERS

- Pandora (P): Up 1.5%

- Apple (AAPL): Down 2.0%

- Microsoft (MSFT): Down 2.2%

- Google (GOOG): Down 2.4%

Tech Stocks: LOSERS

- LinkedIn (LNKD): Down 6.9%

- Yahoo (YHOO): Down 6.1%

- eBay (EBAY): Down 5.5%

- Dell (DELL): Down 4.0%

- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): Down 3.9%

- Oracle (ORCL): Down 3.0%

- (AMZN): Down 3.0%

- Intel (INTC): Down 2.9%

More About: amazon, dell, Dow Jones, ebay, Google, HP, intel, linkedin, nasdaq, oracle, pandora, stock market, Tech stocks, Yahoo

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Virgin America To Run Twitter Scavenger Hunt at SF Giants Game

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 11:58 AM PDT

Virgin America will celebrate its fourth anniversary with a unique Twitter promotion that challenges attendees at the Giants-Phillies game to locate flight attendants hiding in the ballpark.

The event, held on August 8, a.k.a. “Virgin America Day” in San Francisco, will be a scavenger hunt of sorts. During the game at AT&T Park, attendees can follow Virgin America on Twitter and track the #FlyTheBeard hashtag via their mobile devices. The feed will offer photo clues every so often. The first to locate the flight attendants, who will be sporting beards in honor of star pitcher Brian Wilson, will get Giants/Virgin swag and the chance to win a free flight.

The Twitter promotion is one of several the carrier will be running that day, including a hometown fare sale with San Francisco fares starting at $49. The person throwing out the first pitch in the game is also the winner of a Facebook promotion the airline held in July.

Virgin America has been one of the most enthusiastic adopters of social media in the airline industry. In April, the brand started offering points, redeemable for prizes, to customers who checked in at Terminal 2 in the San Francisco Airport on Facebook Places or Foursquare. Last year, the airline partnered with Klout to provide free flights to Twitter influencers and offered free wi-fi from Google during the 2009 and 2010 holiday seasons.

More About: Google, klout, san francisco giants, twitter, virgin america

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Hand-Shaped iPhone Case is the Latest in Serial Killer Chic

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 11:35 AM PDT

Back in 1963, the Beatles crooned about wanting to “hold your hand.” In 2011, a Japanese cellphone accessory store has created the perfect remedy for that desire: the Dokkiri Hand Case for iPhone 4.

Sadly, the case only comes in two models. The first is a replica of a lady's hand — specifically, one belonging to the wife of the company’s COO. The second, even more creepy model, is a child's hand.

The case will only cost you $64 — and the trust of random passersby.

For more quirky cases, check out the gallery below:

1. Etch a Sketch iPhone Case

This case is made at the original Etch-a-Sketch factory. It's an interesting study into how companies evolve their products to suit the market, and also a fun case for your phone.

Cost: $24.99

2. iPlunger Phone Stand

Sucker this little fella on to the back of your iPhone and it'll keep it upright -- no plumbing required.

Cost: $10

3. Arkhippo Case

Described as "huge" and "easy to handle," the Arkhippo case adds some colorful heft to your iPhone with some well-padded protection, and a handy way to stand it up.

Cost: $24

4. Tape Cassette Decals

If you yearn for the days of the Walkman, this sticky tape cassette decal for your iPhone offers some handheld nostalgia.

Cost: $6.99

5. Appstand

Complete with six different colored inserts, this clever stand frames your iPhone on your desk or bedside table. It's perfect for slideshows, alarm clock apps, watching media and more. Appstanding!

Cost: $24.99

6. Spiderpodium

The Spiderpodium is one way to keep arachnophobes away from your precious iProduct. The grippy octopod has -- you guessed it -- eight flexible legs as well as a hole in its body for feeding cables through.

Cost: $24

7. On Angel's Wings iPhone Holder

Your iPhone can earn its wings with this whimsical stand that works in both portrait and landscape mode thanks to its removable sucker cup.

Cost: $12

8. GameBoy Skin

More retro-themed fun here with an unofficial GameBoy case for your fave handheld device.

Cost: $9.99

9. Little Black Book for iPhone

Considering that the cellphone is the "little black book" of today, this case is certainly appropriate. With a sturdy wooden frame, this unusual case is crafted using traditional bookbinding techniques. It allows access to all ports and even boasts a suitably placed hole for the camera.

Cost: $64

10. The Mobile Phone Massif

Do you hark back to the glory days of the 80s "brick" phones with fond memories? No, neither do we really, but we do find this case somewhat amusing.

Cost: $20

11. RetroFit TV iPhone Holder

This cardboard holder will turn your iPhone, or iPod touch, into a teeny vintage goggle box, perfect for watching old movies.

Cost: $7.95

12. Hold My Electronics

Can we give you a hand? In fact, here's two to cradle your beloved device when yours are busy.

Cost: $20

13. Camera SigniCASE

Is your iPhone as much a compact camera as it is a portable telephone? Then show your love of iPhotography with this hand-crafted wooden case that's designed to look like a retro snapper.

Cost: $34.99

More About: Dokkiri Hand Case, iphone

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Snapshot of Success: Instagram’s Kevin Systrom Shares His Startup Secrets

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 11:00 AM PDT

The Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series is supported by Diet Coke®. Now, the drink that helps you stay extraordinary brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

Much ado has been made about Instagram over the course of its short 9-month lifespan.

Now with 7 million registered users, professional and amateur iPhoneographers attached to the mobile photo platform, and celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest and Selena Gomez signing on, the startup is on its way to becoming a social network of significance — transforming photography into a form of communication.

On Instagram, a photo is more than a record of something past, co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom believes. A photo shared through Instagram carries with it a message of what someone’s doing, watching, thinking, feeling or viewing; the time stamp is right here, right now.

“In the past, people have looked at photos as a record of memory. The focus has been on the past tense,” says Systrom. “With Instagram, the focus is on the present tense.”

Contrary to what appears to be an overnight success story, Systrom has had a few false-starts, and even several near misses at Internet greatness. Systrom, a one-time Googler, was an intern at Odeo before it went on to be on Twitter. He was also recruited by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to work on photo-related projects during his college years at Stanford.

But timing is everything, and eventually — through a combination of luck, an ongoing passion for social projects, and hard work — Systrom, with the help of his co-founder Mike Krieger, happened upon Instagram.

Here we take a deeper look at Kevin Systrom, the entrepreneur. Keep reading to learn what inspires Systrom, how he handles challenges, and what he has to say to entrepreneurs looking to follow in his footsteps.

The Basics

"Early Xmas present... To myself," Systrom posts to Instagram

Name: Kevin Systrom

Company: Instagram

Year Founded: 2010

Fun Fact: Systrom collects bottles of Bourbon. “If I ever star on the show Hoarders, it will be because I’ve been collecting Bourbon bottles for years. Some bottles are emptier than others, but I’m starting to run out of room for all of them,” he says.

Quick Facts

On regret: Systrom firmly believes that all of his mistakes have led him to where he is now. Still, if there’s one thing he could do over, it would be sticking with his first choice in major at Stanford.

Systrom was first a Computer Science major who then flip-flopped at least five times before being forced to choose, and stick with, a major in his junior year. He eventually went with Investment Science. “It took me a while to remember that I was passionate about Computer Science,” he says. “It would have been easier to have had that background and stick with the thing that I was really passionate about.”

On Scotch: A self-professed Bourbon aficionado (see above), Systrom’s never been as fond of Scotch, but that’s the app name he and Krieger kicked around when first working on a prototype photo-sharing mobile application.

The Scotch application, a precursor to Instagram, allowed you to take a photo and share it with friends, but it didn’t have filters. “It was slow and buggy, and we cut ourselves off from it too quickly,” he says. “But, we did let it simmer and we kept coming back to it.”

On when to pivot: “It’s a hard decision to make,” he says. “If it’s the right thing, it will happen. You have to be flexible enough to give yourself the opportunity to fall into these other opportunities.”

He says it took him and Krieger four months to convince themselves to switch from the initial Burbn location-centric idea to Instagram.

Entrepreneur Q&A

What inspires you?

People who spend their days creating — whether that be in technology or otherwise. I’m always in awe of people who are artists in their fields — people who understand that simply by taking ideas and translating them into reality, they’ve created value in the world.

What is your vision of success?

I think we’re already there in many ways. So many people work hard every day to come in, enjoy and be passionate about the work they do. It was a humble vision back when we started — simply to work with a talented group of people who share the same passion for mobile photography that Mike and I do. Now, it’s clear we’ve been presented with an opportunity to do something very big and improve the way the world communicates and shares in the real world. We work tirelessly to create the tools to achieve this goal.

What about your startup idea was game-changing?

I think we discovered a way to turn ordinary, everyday scenes into magical moments captured in digital form. By doing so, we were able to translate photography from being a form of self expression into a form of communication. I believe the latter innovation is the real game-changer for us.

What was the pivotal point in your early startup days?

The most pivotal moment for us was when we decided to stop working on Burbn (the mobile HTML5 checkin app) and start work on what would become Instagram. It was a tough decision, but honestly I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.

What was the biggest challenge you faced with your startup?

There are too many to name — starting a startup was a challenge all by itself. Leaving a great job with great people to start a company was the biggest challenge. I like to say that the one thing that all people who succeed in changing the world have in common is that they at least tried.

What are the biggest influences on your business model?

I’ve always been interested social startups. From the early days of learning from Jack [Dorsey] and Ev [Williams] at Odeo, I always knew I wanted to create a business around social sharing and communication, but it wasn’t until we started working on Instagram that I realized how much of an impact all those people had.

How does Instagram utilize social media?

We’ve got a large presence on Twitter and Facebook and we find each to be excellent tools to communicate with our fans. We’ve got such an amazing community of folks on Instagram, and I feel lucky to be able to have such an open communication channel with everyone through those platforms.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100% from day one, but there’s always small progress that can be made to start the movement. Instagram only launched nine months ago, but it’s taken over three years to get from the idea of starting something to today. It’s a long road, but well worth it.

Series Supported by Diet Coke®

The Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series is supported by Diet Coke®. Now, the drink that helps you stay extraordinary brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

Photos courtesy of Instagram, Kevin Systrom

More About: entrepreneurs, Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series, instagram, iphone, Kevin Systrom, photography

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Rdio for iPad Has Arrived [PICS]

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 10:59 AM PDT

itunes image

We heard that it was on its way to an iOS device near you, and now Rdio for iPad has finally arrived.

Social music subscription service Rdio is already available on a bevy of devices and mobile platforms, and now the tablet version [iTunes link] has landed in the iTunes store with all the same features as the iPhone iteration.

Rdio for iPad allows you to follow friends and influencers and check out their collections, search through its 10 million songs, sync music for offline listening, build playlists and more. However, when the app is blown up to iPad proportions, it becomes a delight to use. Scrolling through album art and playlists is more of a leanback exploration of music compared to the iPhone version.

As with the iPhone app, the iPad version is free to download, but you can’t access any music without paying the subscription fee. Usually, Rdio Unlimited (which is required to listen to music on mobile and consumer electronics devices) costs $9.99 per month. However, due to the 30% surcharge that Apple charges developers for new subscribers, Rdio will cost $14.99 if you purchase it in-app.

In order to avoid the extra charge, Rdio suggests signing up for the seven-day free trial at and then subscribing to Unlimited via the website when the trial expires.

For a look at the goods, check out our hands-on gallery below.

Follow Friends

See what your friends are listening to, as well as the rest of Rdio.

Offline Syncing

Sync music to your iPad to listen to even when you're offline -- like on the subway.

User Profiles

Get all the info about friends and influencers by clicking on their names.


Rdio serves up recs based on your listening history. Click on an album to listen and/or add to your collection.


Scroll through all your music.

Album Art

Pull up album art while listening for the eye candy factor.

Artist Radio

Listen to artist radio to find new tunes.


Click back to songs you listened to a few days ago.


Create playlists and collaborate with your friends.

Subscribe To Playlists

Like a friend's playlist? Add it to your collection.

New Releases

Scroll through new music to add it to your collection.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles

More About: ipad, music, music-subscription-service, rdio

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Warner Bros. Wants to Change the Way You Consume Digital Media

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 10:13 AM PDT

Warner Bros. released the public beta of Flixster Collections, a new service that aims to help fans manage and share their movie and TV collections from one dashboard.

With the app, users can import movies and TV shows from their iTunes library, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon accounts. Users can also import data from their regular Flixster accounts (Flixster Collections is a separate product). Once movie titles are imported, users can create lists and share their collections with friends.

Users can also add titles to the app manually, by searching for a film or TV show and then checking a box to indicate if they own a copy of the film (and in what format) or if they have seen the film. Titles can also be added directly to a Netflix queue and there are direct links for purchase or rental in iTunes and Amazon.

First Signs of a Burgeoning Digital Strategy

In May, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group acquired Flixster, a popular movie discovery mobile app. In addition to Flixster, Warner Bros. also acquired movie aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

At the time of the acquisition, Warner Bros. said that the two sites would remain “fully independent” but that aspects of the products and brands would be utilized as part of a broader digital content strategy.

That synergy is on full display with the new Flixster Collections beta. Flixster Collections, which looks like a slightly rebranded version of the Digital Everywhere app that Warner Bros. showed off in April.

Right now, the app is available for Mac and PC via an Adobe Air download, though AllThingsD says that mobile apps are in the works.

The idea behind Flixster Collections, as with Digital Everywhere, is to make content accessible across platforms. Warner Bros. and the other major studios are working on a cloud-based delivery system called UltraViolet. It lets consumers have access to content they have purchased — whether on a physical disc or as a digital download — on a multitude of devices and platforms.

We can see how Flixster Collections could integrate well with UltraViolet.

First Take Promising But Buggy

We spent some time using (or trying to use) the Flixster Collections app today. Because it’s based on Adobe Air, it doesn’t run as well on my Mac OS X Lion machine as we would like. The app frequently froze or locked up, especially when trying to import a large number of titles from a Netflix or Hulu queue.

Still, the idea behind the application is brilliant. Not only is it a great way to get a visual look at all the films and TV shows you either own or have watched, but it’s also a great way to get more information about specific titles and to get information about movies in theaters.

The design of the app uses a sliding panel system, something that should work extremely well on an iPad or Android tablet. It’s a nice way to quickly figure out what movies are available and where. We would like better Netflix integration for Watch Instantly titles — right now it seems tied to the DVD rental aspect — and we’d love to be able to launch a “watch now” button for Amazon, Hulu or Netflix, but we still like where the app is going.

We really like that the app can also catalog purchased digital content on your computer. It can even be set to watch certain folders for downloads or purchases.

The social integration of Flixster Collections is more limited right now — though you can choose to share titles and lists with friends. The app can be linked with Facebook and we imagine that it will gain greater social compatibility in the future.

For now, however, it’s still a smart start at visualizing, organizing and aggregating physical and digital movie and TV collections.

As part of a broader Digital Everywhere strategy, we think this could work. Just one request: Please develop a native Mac app.

Import Screen

Main Screen

Main Screen

Rental/Purchase Options

List Creation

Title Details

Related Information

Review Screen

Movie and TV News

Downloads, Coming Soon and In Theaters

Home Screen


Explore Catalog

Add a Title

Find Digital Title

Let us know your thoughts of Flixster Collections and the ability to aggregate and link content from multiple sources in the comments.

More About: amazon, digital entertainment, Film, flixster, flixster collections, hulu, itunes, Movies, netflix, tv shows, ultraviolet

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“Saved By The Bell” Meets “Final Destination” in Unsettling Music Video

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:20 AM PDT

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

How do you get through to today’s shuffling “Lost Generation”? If actor Miles Fisher’s new music video is any indication, you mix nostalgia with comical violence set to a snappy tune and call it a day.

Although the vid doesn’t explicitly say that it’s cribbing ’90s sitcom Saved By The Bell‘s style, we would recognize Zack Morris’s — played by Fisher — blond bouffant any day.

Fisher, one of the stars of upcoming flick Final Destination 5, may be an actor by trade, but he also dabbles in music, creating what he calls “visual pop singles” in lieu of an album. Fisher scored ample viral acclaim for his American Psycho music video, a shot-by-shot remake of scenes from the iconic movie/book set to “This Must Be The Place” by the Talking Heads.

The video above, for Fisher’s own song “New Romance,” was created in part to promote the next installment of the Final Destination franchise, featuring the film’s cast and funded by the studio.

It also serves to promote Fisher as both an actor and a musician. “The actor’s business model is to prove that you’re worth watching — over and over again,” he says.

What do you think of the actor’s latest endeavor?

NB: NSFW, if you’re bothered by campy violence.

More About: Film, Final Destination 5, Miles Fisher, music, saved-by-the-bell, television, viral video, viral-video-of-day

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Search for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Foursquare Apps With Quixey

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Quixey, the nascent search engine for web and mobile applications backed by Eric Schmidt, is expanding its scope to include third-party Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare apps.

Now you can query Quixey with functional search terms describing what you want to do — “play word games,” “share my travels” or “list books I’ve read,” for instance. Quixey will then discover and unearth applications from across four of the top social application platforms.

“The functionality of social is limited to photos and status without easy access to apps,” says marketing director Julia Lipton. “App search opens a new world of functionality.”

Quixey snatches up information from forums, blogs, social media sites and additional sources to return and rank high-quality results for user queries.

Facebook has the largest repository of applications — more than 1 million by Quixey’s count. The startup believes that Facebook members aren’t using many of these applications simply because they aren’t aware they exist.

Quixey hopes to deliver a superior application discovery experience than offered by Facebook; the same holds true for Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare.

Quixey Facebook App Search

Quixey Facebook App Search

Quixey Facebook App Search

Quixey Facebook App Search

Quixey Facebook App Search

More About: facebook, linkedin, Quixey, Search, social media, twitter

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The Rise of the Social Food Truck [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:00 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.

If the average person was told five years ago that she could nab a delicious and buttery lobster roll from a truck without getting food poisoning, she may have scoffed. Nowadays, chefs across the world are delivering some of the most scrumptious, affordable and delightfully fun food straight to the sidewalks — and social streams.

Although food trucks existed well before the early 2000s, many sources pinpoint 2008 as the unofficial onset of the food truck phenomenon. Since then, food truck entrepreneurs and chefs alike have used social media to familiarize the world with previously obscure flavors like grits or peppadew.

We’ve put together another tasty little treat for you: a visualization of the social food truck journey. Hitch a ride as we examine the roots of the industry and follow its acceleration all the way to the present, where it won’t be running out of gas anytime soon. Too many puns? All right, we’re done, so read on.

Infographic design by Lindsey McCormack

More About: business, Food truck, history, infographic, menu, Social-Savvy Food Truck Series, statistics

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PlayStation Vita Not Coming to the U.S. Until 2012

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:51 AM PDT

Were you hoping for a PlayStation Vita for Christmas? Well, maybe next year.

Sony’s portable player won’t go on sale in the U.S. and Europe until 2012, after the crucial holiday season, according to a report from Bloomberg. Japanese consumers will be able to buy a Vita in December, however.

Sony had originally planned to roll out the Vita in the U.S. and Europe this year. Sony reps could not be reached for comment on the report. No reason has been given for the apparent delay.

The Vita, which sports a 5-inch display and touch pads, will retail for $249 in the U.S. Nintendo’s 3DS portable gaming console had sold for the same price, but the company announced last week that it planned to cut that price by $80 after it posted disappointing sales in the U.S.

The delay is the latest setback for Sony, which posted a 59% drop in its operating profit during its second quarter in part because of the PlayStation cyberattack and the Japanese tsunami. Sony’s consumer products and services unit, which includes its PlayStation businesses, also posted a 94% drop in operating income.

For a look at the Sony Vita, see the pictures below.

PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita

AT&T Is PlayStation Vita's 3G Partner

PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita

LittleBIG Planet

Street Fighter X Tekken

PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita Station

More About: MARKETING, Nintendo, sony playstation, Vita

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PeopleBrowsr Launches Deep Social Analytics Platform

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:01 AM PDT

PeopleBrowsr has launched Playground, a deep social analytics platform designed to be an all-in-one social media solution for the enterprise.

PeopleBrowsr Playground takes the company’s current platform offerings (as well as some new ones) and reorganizes them into four key sections: Analytics, Grid, Search and Engagement. Each of these sections is supported by the company’s datamine, which has 1,000 days’ worth of Twitter data related to demographics, hashtags, keywords and geolocation.

Here’s a description of Playground’s four components:

Analytics: The PeopleBrowsr Analytics platform is the core feature of Playground. It allows users to sift through 1,000 days of social data in order to analyze trends, track data, identify top influencers and measure sentiment. It not only analyzes Twitter data, but also tracks, Facebook, Flickr, blog and Twitpic data. This data can be manipulated to create an almost endless supply of graphs.

Search: PeopleBrowsr has built a real-time social search engine, thanks to its 1,000 days of Twitter data. The engine provides detailed search and filtering options, along with a viral analytics platform for identifying trends and key influencers.

Engagement: PeopleBrowsr’s social media client is now part of the company’s Engagement platform. It integrates with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare and gives users the ability to engage their audiences across these platforms. Analytics are built right into the platform for easier engagement tracking.

Grid: While PeopleBrowsr provides an interface for interacting with social data, some companies simply want the raw data so they can make calculations with their own software. Grid lets users create Excel-style reports for keyword, @mention, retweet and follower data, as well as geographic and topical data.

Managing all these various analytics platforms is a chore to say the least, so PeopleBrowsr has also unveiled two tools for organizing and customizing Playground. The first, Spaces, is designed for agencies and businesses tracking analytics for multiple brands. The second, Dropbox, lets users create personalized workspaces by dragging-and-dropping streams, charts and other components.

Playground, like PeopleBrowsr’s other offerings, is designed with the power user in mind. It’s bulky and complicated, but that also means it’s feature rich and allows for a deeper data dive than most analytics tools can provide. For example, most people don’t need to search local trending retweets or target searches at specific communities, but businesses involved in research or trying to understand user sentiment definitely do.

We’ve included a set of screenshots from PeopleBrowsr Playground so you can see the product for yourself. Let us know what you think of Playground in the comments.

Playground Overview Dashboard

Sentiment Analytics

Global Mentions Tracking

Analytics Dashboard

Playground Overview Dashboard

Playground Grid

Chart Building

Exporting Data

Playground Dropbox

Social Stream Engagement Platform

Playground Spaces

Social Post Analytics

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, EugeniusD80M

More About: peoplebrowsr, Peoplebrowsr playground, playground, social analytics, social media

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Lady Gaga & Kanye West Invest in [REPORT]

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:42 AM PDT

Apparently GagaVille wasn’t enough avatar action for Mother Monster. We’re hearing reports that Lady Gaga and Kanye West have invested in music startup

The two musical monsters (Mother and “motherf**king”) are contributing to a $7.5 million financing round, headed up by Union Square Ventures, to the still-in-beta service, according to Business Insider. recently scored licensing agreements with ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).

We’re reached out to the musicians’ camps for comment.

For the the under-rock-dwellers: is basically akin to AOL chatrooms of old — with music. Right now, it’s invite-only (and U.S.-only), but if you have a friend on Facebook who’s already using it (you likely do), you’ll be able to get access. Around 300,000 people already have.

Once you have an account locked and loaded, you can start checking out and creating DJ rooms, where users take turns manning the decks and spinning songs via MediaNet or by uploading MP3s. Other users rate music as “awesome” or “lame,” which garners a DJ points and, consequently, access to cooler avatars. Perhaps Gaga and Kanye will soon be among them, since Deadmau5′s avatar is down for the count.

More About: funding, kanye west, Lady Gaga, music, startup,

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