Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HTC To Introduce Phones With Beats Sound Technology”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HTC To Introduce Phones With Beats Sound Technology”

HTC To Introduce Phones With Beats Sound Technology

Posted: 11 Aug 2011 05:03 AM PDT

Smartphone manufacturer HTC is buying a 51% stake in Beats Electronics for $309 million.

Beats and HTC have been collaborating to innovate upon mobile audio — the initial result will be a line of HTC devices integrated with Beats sound technology, available this fall. The smartphone manufacturer has already announced plans to release eight new phones in Q3, but specific information on Q4 is not yet available.

Beats Electronics, a digital audio technology company founded by music producers Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, announced the partnership ahead of HTC’s scheduled “major news announcement,” to take place Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET.

HTC has been on an acquisition streak this year, having most recently acquired graphics chip maker S3 Graphics for $300 million and cloud-computing company Dashwire for up to $18.5 million. In both cases, analysts stated that the buys were made to own the companies’ patent portfolio, a move that hopefully bodes well for HTC, which is trying to better position its products in a booming smartphone market.

HTC posted the below video to its YouTube channel on Wednesday:

[via: WSJ]

More About: audio, Beats, beats by dre, htc, Mobile 2.0

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911 Will Soon Accept Texts, Videos, Photos

Posted: 11 Aug 2011 02:09 AM PDT

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced a five-step plan on Wednesday to update the technology that powers the 911 emergency response system.

The plan will enable the transmission of text messages, voice calls, videos and photos, as well as automatic location information. The FCC hopes that such a plan will enable emergency responders to respond faster while also giving individuals more options for contacting 911, depending on the emergency situation.

Implementation of Next Generation 911 (NG911), the official project name, will be charted by the following five-step plan, according to the FCC’s press release:

  1. Develop location accuracy mechanisms for NG911
  2. Enable consumers to send text, photos, and videos to public safety answering points (NPRM)
  3. Facilitate the completion and implementation of NG911 technical standards
  4. Develop an NG911 governance framework
  5. Develop an NG911 funding model

Genachowski began working on this plan last year — his catalyst for taking action was the fact that trapped students could not text 911 during the Virginia Tech campus shootings in 2007.

Being that texting has replaced talking in the teen demographic, this plan seems like a step in the right directions, as it aligns with the evolving nature of telecommunications.

What are your thoughts on this new plan to roll out text, voice, photo and video for 911 emergency response? Let us know in the comments.

[via: The Hill]

Image courtesy of Flickr, loop_oh

More About: 911, emergency, fcc, government

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iPhone App Simulates Teen Dating Abuse

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 11:37 PM PDT

teen dating

Parents may think they understand what it’s like to be a teenager today, but they’ve never experienced their teen’s technological life first hand. Until now.

The Love is Not Abuse iPhone app is giving parents a taste of digital relationship abuse. While mobile technology has become more widespread, it has also led to new forms of abuse especially for teens in bad relationships.

The app, launched by Liz Claibourne’s Love is Not Abuse campaign, places parents in the positions of their teenage children — texting, emailing and calling from a fictional abusive “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” These fake messages pose situations common in digital abuse, like threatening to remove friends from social networks or to post illicit photos. While the app does not actually access the user’s Facebook account, parents get a taste of the controlling nature of a negative teen relationship.

Digital abuse is a rapidly growing trend. Nearly 24% of American teens have been a victim of technology abuse from a boyfriend or girlfriend and more than 50% know someone who’s been victimized, according to a Liz Claibourne Inc. and Futures Without Violence 2009 Teen Dating Abuse survey

The app trains parents to recognize characteristics of abusive relationships. Psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray, a contributor to the app’s development, says most parents can’t properly identify the warning signs of dating abuse. “The main point of the app is to get parents talking to their teens. While most parents discuss drugs, alcohol and sex with their kids, only slightly more than half discuss dating abuse.”

Dr. Murray says teens, especially girls, misinterpret texts sent in the middle of the night as signs of affectionate attention. Oftentimes, this overbearing communication can be a sign of relationship abuse. “When a child is being abused, the first thing is they don’t know that they’re being abused,” Murray says.

Other warning signs include when a teen constantly checks his or her phone at the dinner table, becomes frantic at the thought of disconnecting for 15 minutes, has unexplained scratches or bruises, stops spending time with friends and family or starts making excuses for a significant other’s bad behavior.

The simulator is geared towards the specific characteristics of abusive males and females. The threatening messages come from a “boyfriend” and the excessive contact is from a “girlfriend.”

Dr. Murray encourages parents to check their children’s phone bills, doubting most parents realize their children may send up to 18,000 texts each month.”I’m a really big advocate that the cell phone belongs to the parent. If you are suspicious or concerned you absolutely can put up your hands and say “Give me your phone.”"

Before launching the app, the Love is Not Abuse campaign created school curricula and provided resources for parents on their website. The app is their first platform specifically targeting technology abuse.

Do you think this simulator can help parents understand how their teens communicate? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Kalashnikov_O

More About: apps, cyber-bullying, iphone, social good

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Yap.TV Brings Real-Time Chat to iOS TV Guide

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 10:31 PM PDT, a social TV guide app for iOS was updated to version 3.0 on Wednesday, adding enhanced navigation, instant live chat and access to better social discovery tools.

What sets yap.TV apart from other mobile TV guide apps? It is designed to connect users with their friends and social circles. Not only can users share what they’re watching with friends and family, they can also chat with friends or with fellow show-fans within the app itself.

The new yap.TV 3.0 app has been redesigned for a better visual experience. The iPad version now can be browsed using a 100% picture-based guide or the traditional channel grid.

The app is now easier to navigate by category, time of day or day of week. The iPad version also includes a special movie-browsing mode. Yap.TV has also updated its programming infrastructure to support providers across the nation.

What I like about yap.TV as a TV guide is that you can easily arrange channel lineups and customize what types of channels you want to see.

Of course, the real distinguishing feature of yap.TV are its social features. Similar to BeeTV, the app lets users see what people are saying about a show on Twitter. Users can also follow stars and celebrities associated with a show within the app and send out tweets and retweets. In addition, viewers can browse through yap.TV polls, as well as create new polls for other yap.TV users to vote on.

For us, though, live chat has the most potential within the app. Each show has its own live chat room. You can chat with the yap.TV users watching that show (assuming others are online and in the app) or you can invite your friends to join a private party chat.

Of course, for live chat to work, the userbase needs to be of a sufficient size. Still, it’s a smart idea. We think a real-time live-chat element within the TV guide itself adds value to the application.

What is your favorite TV guide and listing app for the iPhone or iPad? Let us know in the comments.

More About: ipad apps, iphone apps, social tv, tv, yap.TV

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 10:11 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 Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Graphic Design 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

Front End & Back End Engineers at Flite, Inc in San Francisco, CA.

Blog / Newsletter Editor at Magnet Media, Inc in New York, NY.

Strategy Director at Likeable Media in New York, NY.

Online Communcations Specialist at The German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C.

PHP power player at Hettema&Bergsten in Stockholm, Sweden.

Web Content Strategist at CareerBuilder in Chicago, IL.

Web Production Assistant at National TV Talk Show in Burbank, CA.

Software Engineer at Thomas Publishing Co LLC in New York, NY.

Account Manager at Fizziology in Indianapolis, IN.

Analyst, Emerging Solutions-Audience on Demand- Digital at VivaKi Nerve Center in New York, NY.

Help Desk Specialist at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, D.C.

Account Manager, Activation Audience on Demand (Display) at VivaKi Nerve Center in New York, NY.

Email Marketing Manager at in Englewood, CO.

Director of Digital Marketing at Kazaam Interactive in Newtown, PA.

Senior User Experience Designer at theKMco in New York, NY.

Business Analyst / QA Specialist at ThomasNet in New York, NY.

Vice President – Edelman Digital at Edelman PR in Atlanta, GA.

Senior Graphics Communications Coordinator at Nielsen National Consumer Panel in Syosset, NY.

Social Media Specialist(Freelance) at A+E Networks in New York, NY.

Account Planner at GMMB Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Social Media Manager at zooom production inc. in Los Angeles, CA.

Account Executive (Online Sales) at HYPEBEAST in New York, NY.

Web Developer at LIVESTRONG in Austin, TX.

Developer at in New York, NY.

Social Media Manager at in New York, NY.

Software Engineer (Ruby on Rails) at TST Media in Minneapolis, MN.

Social Media Marketing Manager at Boston Scientific Corporation in Marlborough, MA.

User Experience Developer at Weber Shandwick in Baltimore, MD.

IT Project Management Role for Growing Online Fashion Retailer at TBA in Mesa, AZ.

PR/ADV/Digital Account Managers at SS+K in New York, NY.

IT Director and Strategist at Peace Dividend Trust in New York, NY.

Community Manager at Conde Nast in San Francisco, CA.

Art Director – Digital at Edelman in Chicago, IL.

eBusiness Digital Specialist – Web Analytics at Michelin North America in Greenville, SC.

Digital Marketing Specialist at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, VA.

Lead Quality Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Web Designer at Government Executive in Washington, D.C.

Community Manager/Social Media Evangalist at 26 Dot Two in Walnut Creek, CA.

Systems / Network Engineer at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Senior Account Manager at M80 in New York, NY.

Website Content Director at Generocity Community Alliance Inc in King of Prussia, PA.

Interactive Producer at roundhouse agency in Portland, OR.

Manager Website, at The Madison Square Garden Company in New York, NY.

Flash Developer at Dailey in West Hollywood, CA.

Community Network Director at Sierra Business Council in Truckee, CA.

Brilliant Actionscript & HTML 5 Developer at VYou in New York, NY.

Brilliant PHP Application Engineer at VYou in New York, NY.

Account Manager at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, IL.

Advertising Supervisor at Resolution Media in Chicago, IL.

Project Manager, Digital Marketing at National 4-H Council in Chevy Chase, MD.

Director, Product Development – MTV & VH1 Digital at MTV Networks in New York, NY.

VP, Human Resources – HR, Communications and Diversity at NBC Universal in New York, NY.

Director of Digital Production at The Cimarron Group in Los Angeles, CA.

Sr. User Experience Engineer Job Description at (mt) Media Temple in Culver City, CA.

Creative Director at (mt) Media Temple in Culver City, CA.

Product Designer at (mt) Media Temple in Culver City, CA.

Linux Systems Administrator, YouTube at Google Inc. in San Bruno, CA.

Director, E-Commerce Operations at ResortQuest in FL.

Manager, Business Analytics at Novus Media in Minneapolis, MN.

Project Manager at OMD in New York, NY.

Online Marketing Manager at AOL in Sterling, VA.

Community Manager at Scoutmob in San Francisco, CA.

Senior Platform Manager at AOL in Sterling, VA.

Account Director (General Mills) at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, IL.

Account Director at Room 214, Inc. in Boulder, CO.

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, Lists, media, social media

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Has Big, Electronically Dimmable Windows

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 09:25 PM PDT

Boeing promised its 787 Dreamliner would offer a flying experience unlike any other airliner, and now the details are starting to emerge about the upcoming aircraft that made its public debut last month. Besides its mostly carbon fiber construction and energy efficient engines and aerodynamics, it will have the biggest airplane windows you’ve ever seen.

How big are they? How’s 19 inches tall sound to you? Boeing says that’s 65% larger than industry standard airliner windows. The windows will be placed higher, so we tall folks won’t have to bend our heads down just to look out the window.

The cool new tech doesn’t end there, though: You won’t find any pull-down shades on these windows, because each one is equipped with an electronic dimmer. Touch the control underneath the window, and within seconds an electrified darkening gel placed between the two thin pieces of glass gets darker like a pair of sunglasses, and you can adjust it to be anywhere from clear to almost totally dark. Best of all, even when completely dimmed, you can still see the darkened version of the outside world.

All the windows’ dimmers can be controlled by pilots and flight attendants using networked controls, which can either adjust each window, groups of windows, or all the windows on the plane. This might be useful when the plane is making its final approach, where airline regulations currently require that all window shades must be open during takeoffs and landings.

Boeing designers are still looking for ways to improve the technology. Says Boeing engineer Ali Mawani, “If we can automate the windows by just sensing the aircraft’s altitude, it makes it that much easier on the attendant, one less step.”

When will we see these planes available for passenger service? According to Boeing, All Nippon Airlines plans to be flying its first 787 Dreamliner in September.

[via Gizmodo]

More About: aircraft, Boeing 767, Dreamliner, future tech

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Pago Mobile Apps Let You Order & Pay for Food & Services

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 08:00 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: Pago

Quick Pitch: Browse, order and pay for local goods and services from your smartphone.

Genius Idea: Letting mobile users skip in-store lines.

Just-launched startup Pago presents you with a convenient alternative to waiting in line at your favorite coffee joints and restaurants — skip the line and order via mobile app instead.

Pago launched Tuesday with apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry, and more than 50 venue partners in Mountain View. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is also a venue partner.

“Pago is a lifestyle approach to commerce, inspired by the inefficiencies in daily transactions for both consumers and businesses,” says Leo Rocco, Founder and CEO of Pago. “From buying a morning coffee to picking up dry cleaning, we knew that commerce could be easier and more personalized.”

App users can locate participating coffee shops, salons, flower shops, dry cleaners and restaurants accepting Pago mobile orders, and then place and pay via the apps. They can also leave reviews, share recommendations through Facebook and Twitter, and send gifts to friends.

On the flip side, merchants in the Pago network can tap into their existing point of sale systems, get transaction data and store customer information. Participating businesses can also use Pago to push out deals and discounts, as well as reward customers for loyalty.

Mountain View’s Chamber of Commerce has bought into the startup’s mobile and local approach to commerce and will back Pago with its full support. The city says it’s shooting to have 75% of all of its merchants accepting payments via Pago by the end of the year.

Pago, a San Francisco-based startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding.



Order Options

Confirm Order

Order Confirmation

Over Receipt

Review Venue

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: bizpsark, Mobile 2.0, Pago, spark-of-genius

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StumbleUpon Button Reaches 25 Billion Clicks

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 07:32 PM PDT

Social discovery tool StumbleUpon has reached a new milestone; its famous “Stumble” button has been clicked more than 25 billion times.

“Today we celebrate 25,000,000,000 clicks of the Stumble! button,” StumbleUpon Community Manager Monica Semergiu said in a tweet.

The social media company has been on a roll ever since it was spun out from eBay in 2009. In November 2010 the social site hit 12 million users.

StumbleUpon reached 27.5 million stumbles in a single day last month and broke its mobile usage record during this year’s Super Bowl. In April, the company hit 1 billion stumbles per month.

While StumbleUpon doesn’t receive the same type of media attention that Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or Google+ garner, it has quietly grown into a social media powerhouse with millions of loyal users. The result has been a solid business that will celebrate its 10th birthday in November.

More About: stumbleupon

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Google+ Tips & Tricks: 10 More Ways To Make the Most of Your Account

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 06:43 PM PDT

Here at Mashable, we’ve been hard at work digging into Google’s new social network. All that searching has turned up even more useful shortcuts and tips.

Below we bring you 10 more ways to help you get the most out of your Google+ account.

SEE ALSO: Google+ Tips & Tricks: 10 Hints for New Users

Take a look through the gallery and share in the comments any suggestions you have for improving the G+ experience.

1. Check Your "Added to Circle" Notifications

A good way to ensure you don't miss any important circle additions is to hit up the "People who've added you" view every once in while.

To see this on your profile, click on the circles tab and then select the option. Once you're in this view, you can click on the drop down menu to view "Not yet in circles."

This will bring you the people that have circled you, but that you haven't circled in return. It's an at-a-glance method to catch anyone that might have slipped through your circle net.

2. Filter Your Notifications

The main "notifications" view is useful but it can be a little cluttered to work through with all of those overlapping updates in one list

You can actually filter those notifications by clicking the "More" drop-down option at the top right of your page.

Being able to view mentions, photo tags, posts by you, posts by others and circle additions is a lot more useful than the default view.

3. Select the Correct Thumbnail

When you add a link to a post, Google+ doesn't always automatically select the correct thumbnail to go with the content.

Before you hit share, make sure the thumb is right. If it doesn't, click on the arrows that appear on the top left of the image to scroll through the options.

Alternatively, hitting the "X" removes the thumbnail from your post altogether.

4. Save Time With the Notifications Toolbar Icon

The handy notifications icon on your Google+ toolbar can save you tons of time.

Once you've hit the icon, you can see more notifications by using the left and right arrows to scroll. You can even save time by adding comments from the notification window.

5. Tag People in Photos

It's not immediately obvious how to tag people in your Google+ photos.

To tag people, you have to open your photo in the lightbox viewing mode. To do this, go to your photos tab, select the album, then click on the photo. This should load it up in lightbox view, at which point you'll see the option to "add tag."

An important note: If you tag someone in a G+ pic they will have access to view the entire album in which that photo appears.

6. Enable High-Res Video Chat

High resolution video chat is available in Google+ but you need to take some steps to enable it. Click on the chat's drop-down menu and select settings. Now, check the "Enable high-resolution video" box.

7. Lock Down the Dimensions of Your Profile Pic

Google+ profile photos are 200 pixels by 200 pixels. Rather than chop down a larger pic, or worse still, stretch a smaller one, we suggest resizing the image you want to use as a perfect 200 x 200 pixel square before you upload it. This means your image will appear exactly as you want it to.

8. Display Your +1's

The default setting on Google+ is that your +1'ed pages from around the web will not show up on your profile. However, you can change this to let people see what you've been liking.

Go to your profile tab, click "edit profile," then click on the +1's tab. You will now get the option to "Show this tab on your profile."

9. View Your "Nearby" Stream on a Computer

One of the most popular features of the Plus mobile app is the "Nearby" functionality that lets you view public posts in your vicinity.

Until this makes it to the web version, we have a workaround that lets you view the location-based stream on your computer.

The URL for the mobile version of Google+ is, however, entering this in your browser will just redirect you to an info landing page about Google mobile

Entering, however, will load up the mobile version proper and let you tune into those local posts.

10. Send Invites Without an Email Address

Google+ makes it possible to send invitations to join the service without even needed an email address.

This is ideal for enticing friends and followers over from Facebook and Twitter respectively. The "Send invitations" option on the right of your Google+ screen now generates a link to invite up to 150 people.

BONUS: A Google+ Grammar Lesson

If you're unsure of the correct way to write "+1's" or "+1'd," Google is offering an explanation.

"It's... acceptable to use an apostrophe to add clarity and make sure people read words as intended — for example, when your school teacher tells you to mind your p's and q's (as opposed to your ps and qs)."

Are you convinced?

More About: Google, Google Plus, List, tips and tricks, trending

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Startup Helps You Discover Tasty Dishes With Daily Deals

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 06:05 PM PDT

In the competitive daily deals space, San Francisco-based Munch On Me is adding a twist to the old group-buying model. Its hope: that it can deliver repeat customers to restaurants that daily deals giants like Groupon can’t.

At its core, Munch on Me provides daily deals, much like Groupon or LivingSocial. However, it has two major distinctions. First, the startup only focuses on food. And second, the daily deals are for individual dishes, not entire restaurants.

The result, Munch on Me’s founders argue, is a more dedicated and consistent customer. Co-founder Jason Wang says users of Munch on Me come back more frequently because they are looking for more dishes to try.

“Our users are different users,” Wang told Mashable. “They’re people who want to experience new food.”

On the flip side, restaurants that are tired of the daily deal model may find Munch on Me to be a more enticing option. This is because Munch on Me’s core userbase consists of foodies, rather than bargain hunters. These are the type of people who are more likely to become repeat customers.

The startup, which is backed by the Y Combinator startup accelerator and seed fund, has been testing its platform in San Francisco and Los Angeles. On Tuesday, it expanded its daily deals to San Diego and Seattle, with Palo Alto, New York and Chicago coming soon. The company also redesigned and relaunched its website to look more like a restaurant menu.

Thanks to Groupon, daily deals have become a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon. That phenomenon is fueling Groupon’s upcoming IPO. However, businesses are getting tired of daily deal programs that aren’t giving them new regular customers, leaving Groupon’s future in doubt.

Perhaps Munch on Me’s approach to the space — targeting foodies instead of bargain hunters — can reverse that trend. The company will have to prove it can deliver new customers to restaurants if it hopes to thrive.

More About: munchonme, startup, y combinator

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Twitter Adds an Activity Stream

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 05:21 PM PDT

Twitter is introducing two new activity-centric features Wednesday in a partial redesign of its web application.

The changes, designed to help users more easily discover what’s happening on Twitter in relation to them, are reflected in two new tabs on “@[username]” and “Activity.”

The @username tab replaces the mentions tab and is more of a personal notifications dashboard. The tab will now include tweets directed at users via @replies (as usual), highlight favorited tweets and retweeted tweets, and include new follower notifications.

The Activity tab’s purpose is similar to activity notifications that appear in Facebook’s News Feed. The tab showcases the same actions — retweets, favorites and follows — as the @username tab, but as they pertain to the individuals a user follows.

“It provides a rich new source of discovery by highlighting the latest Favorites, Retweets, and Follows from the people you follow on Twitter – all in one place,” the company says of the Activity tab in its official Twitter Blog. “It's easier than ever to explore Twitter, connect with people, and discover what's happening around the world.”

Both the new tabs are radical in function and design, especially when compared to the far less colorful mentions and retweets tabs.

The new tabs have already appeared for some users and will continue to be gradually rolled out to all Twitter users.

More About: social media, twitter

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Occipital To Create 2nd-Generation Augmented Reality on Mobile Devices

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 04:47 PM PDT

Boulder-based computer vision startup Occipital has raised $7 million in Series A funding, and aims to leverage the investment to develop a next-generation computer vision platform.

Occipital, a TechStars veteran, is most widely known for the hit barcode-scanning app RedLaser, which it sold to eBay last year. Now, the startup’s most notable app is 360 Panorama for 3D panoramic image captures via mobile.

But Occipital has bigger plans. It wants to be the computer vision foundation — just as RedLaser became the backbone of many barcode-scanning apps — powering apps that will help mobile users interact with the physical world around them.

“360 Panorama is just the tip of the iceberg,” says co-founder Jeff Powers. What’s the whole iceberg actually look like?

“The iceberg is what sits underneath 360 Panorama — it’s the beginnings of a sophisticated computer vision platform that aims to fundamentally transform the way we interact with environments,” co-founder Vikas Reddy explains to Mashable. “Think computer vision plus augmented reality and the applications that become possible when your smartphone has a visual understanding of its surroundings.”

This is where third-party developers will come into play. Occipital will be soon be launching a platform that will give enterprising developers a crack at creating new layers on top of the computer vision technology inside 360 Panorama.

“Currently, there are companies that have introduced specific mobile applications that use limited computer-vision techniques,” says Occipital investor and new board member Jason Mendelson. “No one has produced a platform that allows developers to create dynamic content that automatically leverages best-in-class computer vision technology.”

Occipital’s $7 million Series A round was led by Foundry Group. Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld of Foundry Group, Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures and Gary Bradski of Willow Garage will join the startup’s board.

Image courtesy of Flickr, jurvetson

More About: 360 panorama, Augmented Reality, funding, occipital, startup

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CEO Raps About Startups At DreamIt Demo Day: “99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One” [VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 03:59 PM PDT

Fourteen startups graduated from DreamIt Ventures‘ accelerator program in New York City Wednesday. And thanks to the one of their CEOs, there are two easy ways to hear their pitches.

The first is to read the handy bullet-point list below. The second is to listen to Re-Vinyl CEO Michael Morgan’s version of the list, which he rapped to the tune of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” after the last company demoed its product.

It’s not the first time Morgan’s rapping talents came into play during his DreamIt experience — or even at demo day. (The first performance had a backup dancer.) He previously rapped a pitch for his company in a meeting with suit-clad angel investors.

“It was probably the most awkward and painful thing I’ve ever endured,” he says of that experience. “They just stared with cold-stone eyes the whole time.”

Thankfully, the demo day rap went over much better with its audience of investors, fellow startup founders and advisers. It starts out with a comparison between Morgan’s hometown of Los Angeles and New York, and then it describes each of the companies.

“Throughout the whole process, some people went to the gym or did something else to unwind,” says Morgan, who has self-produced four albums of his music. “Mine has been writing poetry and raps.”

DreamIt Ventures’ NYC Demo Day Startups: The Bullet-Point List

  • A Facebook app that “switches Facebook into study mode” by showing students what their friends are working on and allowing them to collaborate on Facebook.
  • Let’s Gift It: Gives online retailers the ability to allow multiple contributions towards high ticket items on their registry, wish list and product pages. The team just announced their first retail client, 1-800-Flowers.
  • Cognection: Uses research in consumer psychology and behavioral economics for product recommendation on ecommerce sites.
  • AppBrick: Allows publishers and authors to create interactive ebooks without programming.
  • Take The Interview: A cloud-based video interviewing platform for employers and candidates.
  • ClothesHorse: Enables consumers to shop for clothing across retailers with a single user profile. It’s described as being “like a Facebook Connect for fashion.”
  • Pandaly: Uses individual preferences expressed in interactive games to recommend the most relevant deals to each consumer.
  • AfterSteps: An end-of-life planning service that helps users create a complete plan, store it and then transfer it to designated family members upon death.
  • LearnBop: Enables tutors to create interactive math and science problems online that respond to a student’s incorrect responses with real-time clues, as a tutor would in a one-on-one scenario.
  • AppAddictive: A social media marketing platform that integrates content, ad campaign, messaging and analytics in one place.
  • Re-Vinyl: A mobile application that creates a rich interactive experience around music.
  • KeepIdeas: Creates vertically focused products that help consumers organize and collaborate on decisions in the cloud. KeepRecipes, for instance, is like a virtual recipe box.
  • Pictour: A marketplace for photo tours. Anyone can create and sell a tour that is displayed on an interactive map.
  • 1DocWay: An online doctor’s office where patients can schedule appointments and see their doctor on video chat platform.

DreamIt Ventures’ NYC Demo Day Startups: The Rap, by Michael Morgan

If you have investment problems, I feel bad for you son

We got 99 problems but a pitch ain’t one

Back in ’98 when the bubble was big

playing games in LA, I was just a little kid

decades change and I’m playing the game in the land of BIG

and the BIG question is: we in a bubble again?

Well I can’t answer that I can only share what I’ve seen

for the last three months I’ve been here living the dream

hustling New York with the best teams in the tech scene

Today’s our day to be winning like Charlie Sheen

I’m bi-coastal now so I better settle the beef

My loyalty’s to progress – but if both sides are green -

then let’s roll in the grass – you all know what I mean.

I’m Hollywood, You are Broadway

I’m Oscar, You’re Tony,

I’m Lakers, You’re Knicks

but we all screen Kobe!

I’m a car, you’re a buildin’

I’m Suster, You’re Wilson

Whichever one is willin

to sign their initials – when

you hear these pitches

man, you just can’t resist them

Just two and a half minutes – don’t need two and a half men – but if Ashton Kutcher’s here you can tweet along, friend.

here are the next best investments,

Tech Crunch, impressed yet? Get out your Twitter, now put this on trend:

1DocWay promises a way healthier day, with an on-line spot where doc can set up shop

LearnBop, dibba dop dop, learn bop, ooh, switch learning up, yeah, let the beat drop, – hands you the best deals with a panda paw

Can’t cog block Cognetion – making products unflawed

App Brick lets you build apps like that third little pig makes you a Facebook know it all – who wants a hooty call?

Then there’s AppAddictive, don’t be social network trippin,

makes sure you get the most for what you’re giving them

just like let’s gift it – Everybody chipping in

Ride that clothes horse – fashion tour de force give you measurements and sizes all through a website and

Aftersteps – makes planning for the afterlife heaven –

KeepIdeas – never again will cookbooks be separate

Take a walk with Pictour – tourist phone centered

Take The Interview and you can stay home in the winter

and I rep Re-Vinyl – so let me close out the summer, please

I’ll say this just in case Jay-Z is listening

you say a mill is nothing – then invest in these companies

cause we will change an industry

that goes for every team, revolutionary motives, but we all come in peace

so raise your fists with me, it’s time for change to happen

New York back on the map, we’re bringing America back,

you can call me the Captain and buy this track on our app.

Play that cowbell, Will Ferrel,


More About: Demo Day, Dreamit ventures, Pitch

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Twitpic Founder Launches Twitter Clone

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 03:39 PM PDT

Revenge is a dish best served cloned. Twitpic founder Noah Everett has unveiled Heello, his feature-for-feature copy of Twitter. The move comes just a day after Twitter completed the rollout of its photo-sharing service — a direct competitor to Twitpic.

Heello looks and acts like Twitter in almost every way. Instead of tweeting, users send “pings” to their followers. Instead of retweeting, users “echo” other posts. And instead of following, friends “listen” to their friends. The only real difference is that updates appear in a user’s stream in real-time, which is quite annoying if you want to click on something in a friend’s tweet.

And if that weren’t enough, Heello boasts Twitter and Facebook integration, so your Heello posts can still go to your other social networks. It also includes a real-time feed of all public activity, which currently contains a number of fake accounts claiming to be CNN, Tumblr and Mark Zuckerberg.

The clone seems more of a publicity stunt than a real business. Twitter blindsided Everett when it launched a feature that was directly competitive to his company, and this may be payback. Nevertheless, Everett told VentureBeat that Heello will soon support video, checkins, SMS integration, mobile apps and a “Channels” feature that works much like Twitter Lists.

Much as we love new social media services at Mashable, we’re not sure what to make of Heello. If Everett was looking for some attention, well, mission accomplished. But his service will have a tough time gaining traction against Twitter, and its 200 million registered users, without any truly innovative features.

Then again, if there’s one skill entrepreneurs have, it’s the ability to charge ahead with blind optimism, even when the numbers are against you.

More About: noah everett, trending, twitpic, twitter

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Hulu Heads to Japan

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 03:08 PM PDT

Hulu is plotting an international expansion, starting with a move into its first foreign market — Japan — later this year.

“In Japan, we also see an unfulfilled market need with respect to premium feature film and TV content and very favorable environmental factors to a service like ours, including extensive broadband penetration, smart phone and other Internet-connected device ubiquity, and strong consumer interest,” Johannes Larcher, senior vice president of international, wrote on Hulu’s blog Wednesday.

“We have been able to use what we have learned from Hulu and Hulu Plus, in addition to the insights gleaned from our market research, to design a high-value product specifically tailored for Japanese customers,” he continued.

The move comes as Hulu’s backers — NBC Universal, Disney and News Corp. — are shopping it around to potential buyers. Those investors have at times grumbled about Hulu cannibalizing their own online revenues, but the site itself seems to be doing fine. Hulu Plus, the company’s premium all-you-can-eat video offering, is approaching 1 million subscribers and the company is on track to hit $500 million in revenues this year, according to CEO Jason Kilar.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, selensergen

More About: disney, hulu, japan, nbc universal, News Corp

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Talib Kweli Visits, Gets First Verified Account & Own Avatar

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 02:44 PM PDT

Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli was one of the first musicians to get into, the still-in-beta service that lets users spin tunes in avatar-filled chatrooms. Now he has his very own avatar — and Turntable’s first verified account. posted a video of Kweli at the startup’s office, as well as pictures of his cap-wearing avatar.

We can see more musicians getting their own avatars; the site is becoming an increasingly popular venue in which to premiere tracks. (Paste magazine has been partnering with musicians to drop albums, and Ra Ra Riot’s Mathieu Santos showcased his solo project on the site, to name a few converts.) Lady Gaga and Kanye West are also rumored to have invested in

A few weeks ago, the coveted Deadmau5 avatar was removed from the site with the message: "Deadmau5 avatar has been reserved for the actual deadmau5. So instead, may we present our awesome monkey couple." Perhaps now Joel Zimmerman — the man inside the Deadmau5 head — will visit HQ to score his very own verified account? We certainly hope so.

More About: music, startup, Talib Kweli,

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Should Governments Monitor Social Media to Prevent Civil Unrest?

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 01:46 PM PDT

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

Billie Edington is a social strategist at SapientNitro, where her passion for sociology and the effects of the changing digital landscape on our everyday lives greatly inform her work in creative marketing. You can follow her on Twitter @billienyc and visit her website,

By now, plenty has been written around the circumstances of the London riots. Like Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, social media has been credited, or in this case blamed, with aiding swift and active civil unrest. Criminal or political — or both — the "social media riots" of London have shown how almost any location is susceptible to the rapid assembly these networks afford a younger generation.

And it's moving increasingly closer to home. As early as today, Philadelphia has had to impose a curfew on teenagers who used social media to organize criminal "flash mobs." With an uncertain economic climate and a bleak job market, there's reason to be concerned.

Rather than waiting to see how this might play out at home, the London riots in particular raise some larger questions about social media policy and government's involvement. Police have attributed the rioters’ organizational speed primarily to BlackBerry's messenger service (BBM) and Twitter.  These kinds of technologies used to be law enforcement's leg up, and now they're competing against its most adept users. The law does require these platforms to work with government agencies when criminal activity is suspected, but to what extent? BlackBerry has already felt the wrath of hackers for agreeing to help police in identifying potential rioters. But when it comes to public safety, who decides how far is too far? And can we, as users, trust our social platforms?

If our government and social networks start addressing these questions together preemptively, rights to freedom of speech, privacy, and assembly might not have to be so swiftly compromised in times of disruption. Consider the Pentagon's recent request for research proposals that would help them better monitor conversation in the Middle East. This recognizes that social listening is an effective way to understand and track political rebellion.

But can our government listen more effectively in the social space at home to stop the "social media riots" from occurring here? The amount to which our government is already listening to our social networks at home is unclear, although you can be sure they are. But just as the London riots reveal, the masses are increasingly demanding transparency. In advertising, we continually tell our clients that social media best practices require transparency, authenticity and engagement. Those who don't engage don't control the conversation. And those who listen engage most effectively.

So do governments need to become better social listeners? If government services and officials opened up more channels of discussion online, would this help relieve some issues of transparency for the masses? Would we feel like we had more access to our political system? In a more perfect world, could we even find ways to curate effective and actionable political protests online so it never escalates to violence?

Democracy is, by definition, the governing voice of the masses, and social networks are the new soapboxes. If our government isn't listening and engaging, is it doing its job?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DeshaCAM

More About: government, london riots, privacy, social media

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Social Good Summit Snags New Speakers From Skype, United Nations Foundation & More

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 01:27 PM PDT

Social Good Summit 2011

We're excited to announce that Tony Bates, Christy Turlington Burns, Heather Armstrong, Kathy Calvin, Brandon Litman and Boaz Paldi will be joining our dynamic lineup of speakers on stage at September’s Social Good Summit. Ted Turner, Lance Armstrong, Elie Wiesel and many other innovative technologists and passionate activists also will speak at the summit.

Bates will discuss the future of education and the role Skype plays in the classroom. Burns and Armstrong will speak about Every Mother Counts, an interactive platform that raises awareness about maternal health. Litman and Paldi will share the story of One Day on Earth, an online community that created the largest archive of cause-based media shot in a single day.

To learn more about the Social Good Summit, please visit our agenda to view topics and speakers for each day of the event. We'll be updating this schedule on a regular basis, so check back for additional information.

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

During the last day of the summit — September 22 — Mashable is hosting a Startups for Good Challenge, a special event that will showcase startups that are building or using technology to make a positive impact on the world. Applications are due by Thursday, August 11, at 1 p.m. ET.

Submit your application for Startups for Good Challenge

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

New Confirmed Speakers

Tony BatesChristy TurlingtonHeather ArmstrongKathy CalvinBrandon LitmanBoaz Paldi

  • Tony Bates, the chief executive officer of Skype, has more than 20 years of experience in the Internet and telecommunications industries.
  • Christy Turlington Burns launched Every Mother Counts, an interactive platform that provides education and support for maternal and child health. She also produced the film No Woman, No Cry, a documentary film profiling the status of maternal health worldwide.
  • Heather Armstrong is the writer and creator of the blog An acclaimed "mommyblogger" with over 1.5 million Twitter followers, Armstrong was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 30 most influential women in media.
  • Kathy Calvin is the chief executive officer of the United Nations Foundation. Previously, she served as president of the AOL Time Warner Foundation, guiding AOL Time Warner's philanthropic activities.
  • Brandon Litman is the co-founder and executive producer for One Day on Earth, a grassroots online community that filmed in every country around the world on the same day.
  • Boaz Paldi joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2005 as the organization's head of video unit. Boaz has also worked as a TV journalist for 17 years covering conflicts, natural disasters and human interest stories around the world.

Event Details

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

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

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

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

Sponsored by Ericsson

For over a century, Ericsson has seen communications as a fundamental human right. Today, it is the leading provider of technology and services to network operators. Its networks connect 2 billion people and almost half of the world’s 5.5 billion mobile subscriptions. Now, Ericsson intends to do for broadband what it did for the telephone; make it mobile, available and affordable for all. Ericsson's vision is to be the prime driver of an all-communicating world, where Information and Communications technologies (ICT) come together to create a Networked Society. A Networked Society will bring many opportunities and challenges. As Ericsson works in the world, it aims to apply innovative solutions together with partners to make a real difference to peoples' lives, to business and to the economy, enabling change towards a more sustainable world. We call this Technology for Good.

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

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Syfy Show Unfolds on Twitter As Well As TV

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 01:13 PM PDT

Syfy is going beyond the usual cable network level of Twitter integration by expanding the plotline of its supernatural show, Haven, directly on the microblogging site.

Starting Friday, Syfy will begin airing seven episodes of the show — which follows an FBI agent named Audrey Parker who lives in the secret-ridden town of Haven, Maine — that tie into Twitter.

Two characters on the show, newspapermen Vince (@VinceHaven) and Dave (@DaveHaven), join Twitter and begin interacting with an unknown Twitter user, @ColdInHaven, who has an extremely wide knowledge of the town.

Viewers can follow the action on Twitter, and will be able to catch mentions of the tweet-based storyline on the show itself. The story will resolve on second season finale September 30.

That said, the show has been written so that viewers don’t need to use Twitter to follow the story.

Syfy and Twitter also be measuring viewer engagement over the seven weeks that the story unfolds. They will then publish those findings in an online case study, complete with best practices for networks hoping to integrate Twitter into a storyline.

“Although there have been simple integrations before, no one has fully and organically integrated Twitter into the fabric of the show in the way Haven is doing,” says Craig Engler, general manager and senior vice president, Syfy Digital, in a statement.

USA’s Covert Affairs had a rather similar integration, launching an alternate plotline on the social networking site.

Would you turn to Twitter in order to keep up with a TV show? Let us know in the comments.

More About: haven, social media, Syfy, television, twitter

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Coming to iPhone, iPad

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 01:06 PM PDT

We here at Mashable are huge Douglas Adams fans. What discerning geek isn’t? So when we learned, via iLounge, that an iOS app based on Adams’s seminal series was in the works, we were as thrilled as a Haggunenon that just shape-shifted into a self-drinking Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Whether that excitement was warranted, however, remains to be seen.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy project was first announced in May by Vancouver-based startup Hothead Games. Back then, we knew as little about it as a tea leaf knows of the East India Company. Some fans speculated that it was a revival of the famously, fiendishly difficult text-based adventure game that Adams wrote in the 1980s. But no, it turns out to be “an authentic experience, allowing fans to feel like they're holding the device that Douglas Adams described over thirty years ago,” according to the official Hothead announcement. In other words, a novelty app that replicates Guide entries.

The official website for the project doesn’t offer much in the way of information, but the screens of the app should be enough to give a hardcore Hitchhiker‘s fan pause. They have an unfortunate cartoonish look about them, suggesting this app is going to be closer to the Disney movie version made after Adams’s death than the classic BBC version he wrote. And the text underneath that Babel Fish is a giveaway for anyone who can repeat by rote the book’s description of the translating fish: “small, yellow, leech-like, and probably one of the oddest creatures in the universe.” (See the original BBC version below.)

Still, we can’t help feeling Adams himself would crack a smile. He was a huge Apple fan (and owner of one of the first Macintosh computers in the UK) and would no doubt have gone ga-ga for the whole iOS platform. When I had the chance to interview him about a year before his untimely death in 2001, his company The Digital Village was developing plans for a Guide-like device of its own. It would feature content from H2G2, Adams’s proto-Wikipedia site of crowdsourced information that was later sold to the BBC. So it’s nice to see that idea come to some sort of fruition, especially on devices that are more Guide-like than anything else on this mostly harmless planet.

More About: hitchhiker's guide, iOS app

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Box Office of the Future: Buy Tickets From Online Images

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 12:39 PM PDT

Would you buy your next concert ticket by clicking on a photo? A partnership between image-tagging startup ThingLink and event-ticketing startup Eventbrite is paving the way for just that. The companies have jointly enabled ticket purchases direct from images.

ThingLink, which already lets members add all kinds of interactive and social media tags to their images, rolled out an Eventbrite-tagging option Wednesday. Organizers can highlight and sell tickets to their own events via the image tags or promote others’ events.

To create the ticket purchase tag, you simply copy an Eventbrite URL into the ThingLink tag box. The tagged image will then display event details and an “attend” button on mouse-over; image viewers can click to purchase tickets.

“In-image purchases remove a barrier between ticket holders and event goers, as well as open up a new realm of creativity for those building flyers and promotional imagery for their events,” says ThingLink Chief Marketing Officer Neil Vineberg.

The feature would seem to appeal to consumers looking for a more instantaneous purchase experience, as well as event organizers looking to better promote events. The major drawback? Lack of awareness. Online denizens may not yet be familiar with the idea of mousing over images for additional info — and could miss the ticket pop-up altogether.

For a demo of the new feature, hover your cursor over “The Rainbow Ballroom” text in the image embedded below. And let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: eventbrite, online tickets, thinglink

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Google+ Gets Its Own Anthem [VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 11:59 AM PDT

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

Really into Google+? Well, now you have a new tune to jam to whilst jamming people into circles.

This little video comes from Break Media and extols the joy of the newly minted network — in a tongue-in-cheek way, to the tune of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.”

What do you think? Are you in love with Google+?

Scroll down for more Google+ fodder.

1. The Google Minus Project

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

2. Dmitri Finds Out About Google Plus

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

3. Google- Anti-Social Network Preview

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

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

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

5. Hitler Learns of Google Plus

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

More About: break-media, Google, humor, social media, social network, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Study Says Drudge Report Drives More Traffic Than Facebook & Twitter Combined

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 11:44 AM PDT

News aggregator Drudge Report, which employs two people in addition to founder Matt Drudge, continues to be one of the largest traffic drivers to content sites, according to a study released Wednesday by Outbrain.

Drudge Report, which gained notoriety for publishing the first report on the Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton presidency, was responsible for 6.85% of traffic within Outbrain‘s publisher network. And that’s a roster that includes The New York Times Media Group, The Atlantic, MSNBC and Mashable.

It’s an impressive number for a site made up of a handful of pages plastered with text links. By comparison, it’s driving more than double the traffic to content sites than Facebook and Twitter combined. And Drudge Report’s influence is growing; its share of total traffic referrals is up 1.5% from the first part of the year.

The study shows that social networks still drive relatively little traffic (7%) compared to content sites (56%) and search (37%). Readers who go from one content site to another are more likely to be engaged with what they’re reading, “presumably because they are already in content-consumption mode,” the study noted.

That’s not true everywhere, of course. CNN attributes 43% of its incoming news traffic to social channels.

Among social networks, Twitter came up on top (1.69% of all traffic referrals), followed by Reddit (1.10%) and then Facebook (1.07%).

When asked why Facebook ranked so low, Outbrain COO David Sasson suggested that Twitter is better designed for content consumption.

“Twitter is fundamentally a broadcast medium, where people are … following [other] people in order to get the content they put out. You want to receive links to content, and you're likely to click on them,” Sasson said.

“Facebook, on the other hand, is [more for] hearing what your friends are doing, sharing a dialogue or personal photos with them — not finding content. That happens, certainly, but as a secondary effect, not a primary one.  So it could be that while Facebook has a much bigger audience, the people there are not as interested in using Facebook to find content as the people who use Twitter expressly for that purpose,” he said.

A source at Facebook suggested that the numbers are simply inaccurate, and Outbrain has agreed to look over its Facebook numbers again.

The study also found that across all content verticals, tech content receives the highest share of social traffic (12% compared to the 7% average), echoing a study conducted by Pew last year. News and sports received the least attention from social channels, comparatively, suggesting how the interests of social media users skew.

More About: Drudge Report, facebook, media, News, twitter

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Starbucks Card Guy Solicits $8,700 in Coffees for Strangers

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 11:23 AM PDT

Jonathan Stark is such a nice guy that he has given $300 to anonymous people to enjoy drinks and food at Starbucks. But there’s one thing that makes Stark angry: the suggestion that his self-styled “feel-good social media experiment,” Jonathan’s Card, is actually a stealth campaign for the coffee giant.

“That’s really upsetting,” he told Mashable. “I understand that there are cynics out there, but it threatens to spoil the good feeling that people have gotten.”

Stark says he realizes that Corporate America is quite adept at passing off advertising as independent social media activity. Yet in this case, he says Starbucks has not been involved — in fact, the effort violates Starbucks’s terms of service since its gift cards aren’t supposed to be transferable.

“Starbucks had no knowledge of Jonathan’s plans, and has no official relationship with him or the company he works for,” a Starbucks rep says. “The project is interesting and we’re flattered that he is using Starbucks as a part of his ‘pay-it-forward’ experiment and look forward to watching it develop.”

Stark launched Jonathan’s Card on July 14. At the time, he says he was unaware that others could add money to the card. The initial idea was to fund the card, then put it online and watch the balance fall, a process that Stark says he found “fun.” Why? Stark says he liked the idea of buying people something, but it’s always uncomfortable when one does that in real life. In contrast, doing it via social media “is impersonal enough that people feel comfortable doing it. It’s weird.”

Five hundred or so people felt the same way. Stark says the card has received a total of $8,700 in donations — including his $300 — so far. The card’s balance has been upped more than 500 times and it’s been withdrawn close to 900 times. That ratio was encouraging to Stark, a mobile app consultant, who sees applications for the idea in the future, like donating fees for medication or other services “for someone in a more desperate situation than the average person in line at Starbucks.”

But if the experiment doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, it may restore your faith in social media marketing. For $300, Stark’s campaign has netted close to 10,000 followers on Twitter so far and about 3,000 Facebook fans. It may also spawn some related apps. (The Jonathan’s Card website includes several APIs.) Jonathan’s Card may not do much for Starbucks, but it has certainly done a lot for Jonathan Stark.

More About: facebook, Jonathan Stark, Jonathan's Card, MARKETING, starbucks, twitter

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5 Tips for Converting Trial Users Into Paying Customers

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 10:59 AM PDT

Guy Nirpaz is the CEO and co-founder of Totango, which analyzes user actions on SaaS applications, providing sales teams invaluable information in qualifying prospects and prioritizing people to contact who are most likely to buy (or renew).

If you work at an SaaS (software as a service) company, it’s likely your revenue is driven by free trials and the rate at which those trials convert to paying customers. Finding ways to increase trial conversion rates is perhaps the best way to make a significant impact on new customer acquisition.

A good trial conversion rate is the ticket to success, but it’s not always clear how best to improve it. Below are five tips every SaaS company should keep in mind to help increase their trial conversion rate and increase user signups.

1. Measure Everything and Measure Correctly

You need to be measuring all the time and looking at the right metrics in order to improve trial conversion. Data and metrics are your friends. However, wrong metrics, or "vanity metrics," may lead you to the wrong course of action.

For example, measuring a single "conversion rate" from trial signups to paying customers will not help you understand where issues exist (are you bringing in incorrect leads? Is the product value too vague to understand? Is the user experience too complex or difficult?).

2. Turn Leads Into Opportunities for Your Sales Team

The SaaS business increasingly relies on inbound marketing for lead generation, which creates the potential for unqualified leads. Unqualified leads are users that signup for a trial but have no intent to buy. Unqualified leads run the risk of overwhelming the (always short staffed) sales team and not allowing them to focus on interacting and closing deals.

Building an intelligent qualification process is crucial. You need to consider source marketing, demographics and anything else obtained from the lead capture process. You can identify true buying intent by looking at the behavior of the user on the SaaS application. This is often a key indicator of how seriously they are evaluating the service. Start off with something that makes sense and constantly measure and improve your qualification criteria. In the end, you should look at the percentage of qualified leads that convert as your best metric.

3. Monitor Contact Rates

You may have many trial accounts and a sales team that is meant to facilitate their buying process, but is your team effective? The answer lies in two key metrics:

  • Contact rate: The percentage of (qualified) leads that your sales team is able to contact.
  • Contact conversion: The percentage of those contacted that end up converting to paying customers.

Contact rate tells you if your team is capable of dealing with the in-flow of new opportunities. A low rate may indicate they are short staffed or using improper tools to help them connect. Contact conversion shows how effective they are in their interactions. A low rate may indicate improper training or incorrect practices.

4. Remove Friction from Your Processes

New users engage with your service to address a business or personal need they have. The experience you build for them should aim to remove any friction that delays his or her ability to fulfill that need.

For an ecommerce website, this can be relatively simple. In a complex SaaS product, however, the challenge is much greater. One indicator is how many of those trials activate, meaning, the ability of users to actually get their accounts up and running with ease. In this context, "activate" is not just about creating a trial account, but whether a user can take steps to reach the underlying value.

5. Understand the End User and Improve

It's best to look at your trial and the way prospects are evaluating your service in a granular way. Do they understand the value? Can they easily get to an activity? Tracking this makes it easier to identify the missing element that could make more people convert. Even though it can be difficult to get feedback from users, this data will help you analyze their behavior and indentify points to improve.

By understanding what parts of your product your users use and value the most, you can make sure you invest your product development resources correctly and tailor your messaging to highlight those areas.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Jirsak

More About: analytics, business, SaaS

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Klout Adds Blogger, Flickr, Instagram, & Tumblr

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 10:22 AM PDT

Klout Adds Blogger, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr

Klout just doubled the number of services it measures to determine your online influence, adding Blogger, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr to its scoring system.

The San Francisco-based startup, which is celebrating its three-year anniversary today, originally only took Twitter activity into consideration. Two years later, Klout added Facebook.

But in June, it began factoring in LinkedIn. And within the past month, it integrated Foursquare and YouTube to its algorithm.

“The networks we launched today were chosen to give the Klout score a more holistic view of influence,” Klout CEO Joe Fernandez told Mashable. “By adding blogging, photos and music to the interactions that we are already measuring we are moving closer to our goal of providing a complete picture of your influence.”

Klout will calculate your influence on these new networks based on the ways you drive actions among your online friends, followers or subscribers.

“On the amount of activity a user or listener generates on their profile will almost certainly be a factor,” Fernandez said. “Tumblr is a great example where reblogs and love are clear signals of influence, and Instagram provides likes and comments.”

Klout also plans to add more services such as Google+: “We are eagerly anticipating them launching their API. As soon as they make the data available we will be ready to add it to the Klout score,” he said.

If you log onto Klout, you’ll notice your dashboard now features grayed-out icons for the five newly-integrated services. Click on the icons to have Klout figure in your activity on those services into your overall Klout score.

“Today is actually the three-year anniversary of Klout and we wanted to show off the power of the platform we have built here,” Fernandez said. “The fact that we have launched eight other services — with five today — in the last three months is a testament to the hard work our team has done building a platform that can easily ingest any signal of influence.”

SEE ALSO: Klout CEO Reveals Details About Foursquare Integration

Aside from adding more services in just a few months, Klout also recently unveiled a +K button that allows you to give other users a +K on topics you think they influence. And brands have started offering perks to people with high Klout scores.

Are you excited or bummed that Klout added Blogger, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr?

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Social Network Wars: How The Five Major Platforms Stack Up [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 10:05 AM PDT

Most people don’t have the social steam to power a presence on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. Sure, there are handy apps like Twitterfeed and Hootsuite that can help spread one post to all of your networks, but that ignores the individual strengths and weaknesses of each platform.

When it comes time to pick and choose where you post, this chart can help you decide what’s appropriate for you.

Infographic design by Emily Caufield.

More About: Google Plus, linkedin, social media, tumblr, twitter

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NYPD Creates Unit To Track Criminals Via Social Media

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 09:22 AM PDT

Advertisers won’t be the only ones watching your Facebook activity with interest. Now, the New York Police Department will be checking it out, too.

The NYPD on Wednesday announced it formed a new unit to track people who discuss their crimes on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The unit will “mine social media, looking for info about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem,” according to the New York Daily News.

Other law enforcement agencies have used Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed of criminal activity. Such programs include digital “wanted” posters, police blotter blogs and the use of online tipsters. The Boston Police Department has used Twitter to monitor chatter around the city since 2009, and the FBI employed Facebook, YouTube and Twitter outreach to apprehend longtime fugitive James “Whitey” Bulgur in June.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Vincent Desjardin

More About: crime, facebook, myspace, nypd, trending, twitter

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Make Your Videos Interactive With Viewbix

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 09:13 AM PDT

Videos are standard viral fare of the web — they’re passed around so much that often people have no idea where they came from. A startup called Viewbix seeks to rectify that issue, with a service that lets anyone make a video interactive.

Viewbix is basically a nicer version of YouTube annotations: Visit the site (which is free), add a video from YouTube or Facebook and start customizing. Add a title, a link to your website, details about the video, photos and a variety of apps (Google Maps, an RSS feed, Twitter feeds, Skype, a QR Code) and share your video. It will now be wrapped in all of your info so that when it’s passed along, users will know who you are and where to find you. Check out my test below.

We can see this service being a huge boon to bands — especially when promoting a show. Imagine releasing a promotional music video complete with show info, location (Google Maps), ticketing info (Skype) and a QR Code featuring some kind of at-show promotion.

Viewbix plans to release its premium product soon. The first 1,000 Mashable readers who sign up and create a player will get six months of premium service for free (when it’s released).

Image courtesy of Flickr, david.torcivia

More About: music, social media, startup, video, Viewbix, youtube

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Can Analytics Help Fix Your Love Life?

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 09:00 AM PDT

TheIcebreak is a newly launched online service that is supposed to help couples improve their relationships the old-fashioned way — separately, whilst staring at computer screens. Simply sign up for the service and enter in your relationship status, then invite your partner to join (however, the site appears to work if you join solo as well).

The site will then ask you to rate how satisfied you are with your partner in a variety of areas (those answers are private) and then serves up activities based on the answers you give, such as answering “Icebreaker Questions” (“What’s the biggest question you are asking yourself these days?”) and “Capturing Moments” to send to your love. Activities like these can garner you “Date Night Coins,” which you can use for deals in later iterations of the site.

TheIcebreak also features a handy analytics dashboard that shows your happiness over time, and how it compares to the relative bliss of other couples.

While we can understand the aim behind this site (and we’re actually down with getting points that equal IRL deals), the whole conceit of the site seems a little strange. Unless you’re in a long-distance relationship, “Icebreaker” questions should likely be asked face-to-face, and the idea of measuring your happiness against that of others goes against everything that a good psychologist would advise.

What do you think of TheIcebreak?

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Don Hankins

More About: online dating, startup, TheIcebreak

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