Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google’s Patent Play, Obama’s Foursquare Launch & More: This Morning’s Top Headlines”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google’s Patent Play, Obama’s Foursquare Launch & More: This Morning’s Top Headlines”

Google’s Patent Play, Obama’s Foursquare Launch & More: This Morning’s Top Headlines

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 05:21 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on five particular stories of interest today.

Google’s Motorola Mobility Acquisition Is All About Patents

Mashable‘s Christina Warren argues that Google's decision to purchase Motorola has as much to do with increasing its patent portfolio as it is about getting into the hardware market.

Foursquare Launches Tip Lists

Foursquare has rolled out Tip Lists, which enables users and brands to bundle their best tips together in lists, such as, say, the five best delis in San Francisco.

The White House Joins Foursquare

The White House has launched an account on mobile checkin service Foursquare, which will provide followers with location-specific information about places President Obama has visited, what he did there, historical information and more.

App Developers Fined for Child Privacy Violations

In an effort to protect the mobile privacy of children, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a $50,000 fine to W3 Innovations, developers of a range of iPhone and iPod touch games for children.

Englishman Arrested for Planning Water Gun Fight on Facebook & BBM

Following nearly a week’s worth of riots in London, a 20-year-old man from Colchester, England, has been arrested for allegedly organizing a giant water gun fight via BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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Mobile Devs Fined $50,000 for Violating Children’s Privacy

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 04:38 AM PDT

In an attempt to maintain the mobile privacy of children, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a $50,000 fine to W3 Innovations — the parent company of BrokenThumbsApps, creators of iPhone and iPod touch children’s games, including Zombie Duck Hunt, Truth or Dare, and Emily’s Dress Up.

W3 Innovations was hit with an FTC lawsuit on Friday, which stated allegations against the company:

“In additional to the collection and maintenance of over 30,000 emails, containg email addresses, Defendants have collected, maintained, and/or disclosed personal information from over 300 Emily’s Girl World app users and approximately 290 Emily’s Dress Up app users who have registered to submit comments.”

The company quickly settled without a battle on Monday, accepting the $50,000 fine, agreeing to delete all collected personal data and promising to not make any further violations.

The FTC claimed that W3 Innovations’ apps were a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC’s COPPA Rule, which requires that a parent or guardian must give consent before a website operator can collect personal information from a child under 13 years of age. The FTC says that the company’s mobile apps fell under this rule, because the mobile apps send and receive data via the Internet.

The FTC has collected fines from a number of companies in violation of the COPPA rule, including Xanga ($1 million), Sony ($1 million) and Etch-A-Sketch ($35,000), among others.

The FTC launched a site called “Living Life Online” to educate children about online safety. While it offers an admittedly horrible user experience, the idea is a step in the right direction.

Enacted in 1998, COPPA has made a big impact on the development of online websites and games targeted at children. As the act makes it illegal for children under 13 years old to take part in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, developers targeting children must focus on being COPPA-compliant.

As a result, a number of safe social networks for children have surfaced since the act was made effective in 2000. And just this year, a new social network called Everloop was launched in 56,000 schools, in hopes of becoming the Facebook alternative for children between the ages of 8 and 13.

Image courtesy of Flickr, tinkerbrad

[via Ars Technica]

More About: Children, FTC, Mobile 2.0, parenting, privacy

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Microsoft Launches Behind-the-Scenes “Building Windows 8″ Blog

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 02:58 AM PDT

Microsoft launched a new blog and Twitter account to chronicle and crowdsource the development of its next operating system, Windows 8.

Windows President Steven Sinofsky wrote the first post on the “Building Windows 8” blog (also know as “B8″), explaining the team’s intent with the blog:

“Blogging allows us to have a two-way dialog with you about design choices, real-world data and usage, and new opportunities that are part of Windows 8. Together, we will start the unique adventure of bringing a major product to market. We're genuinely excited to talk about the development of Windows 8 and to engage thoughtfully with the community of passionate end-users, developers, and information professionals.”

Sinofsky and Windows Senior Vice President Jon DeVaan hosted Microsoft’s “Engineering Windows 7” blog (also known as “E7″) during the development of Windows 7.

“We started the Engineering Windows 7 blog in 2008 in recognition of the need to re-engage the community and rebuild trust relative to the engineering and design of Windows. While engineering Windows 7, we learned some great lessons and renewed our sense of responsibility to the community,” wrote Sinofsky.

Learning from their experiences with hosting the “E7″ blog, the development team plans to make the blog available to a larger pool of readers, offering “B8″ posts in “several other languages” within 48 hours of the English language posts. And instead of two admins, the blog will include posts from many members of the development team.

The @BuildWindows8 Twitter account will be updated with notifications about new blog posts.

Microsoft gave its first sneak peek of Microsoft 8 back in June at the D9 conference while simultaneously releasing the below video:

"What we tried to do with Windows 8 was reimagine what we want to do with a PC," Sinofsky said in his D9 demo of Windows 8. "We colored outside the lines."

The Windows 8 product seems to be focused on drastically improving the user interface — an blog focused on dialogue may be just the formula for gaining actionable feedback from end-users.

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Google’s Motorola Acquisition: Was It A Smart Move? [POLL]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 10:44 PM PDT

The tech world is still reeling from Google’s blockbuster acquisition of Motorola Mobility for a not-so-insignificant price tag of $12.5 billion. The deal will hand the world’s largest search engine control over one of the world’s largest mobile device manufacturers, not to mention control over tens of thousands of patents.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the acquisition. Will Google get into the business of manufacturing, or will it spin that business off and keep the patents? How will it affect its relationship with its Android partners? How will Microsoft and Apple react? Will regulators even approve the multi-billion dollar deal?

It’s going to be months until we know whether Google’s biggest acquisition ever was a smart move or a billion dollar disaster, but we still want to hear your reaction. Our poll question of the day: Was Google’s acquisition of Motorola a smart move?

Cast your vote below, and let us know why you think that way in the comments.

More About: acquisition, Google, Motorola, motorola mobility, poll

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3 Mobile Apps Poised to Change the Consumer/Brand Relationship

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:26 PM PDT

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a social branding consultancy helping companies use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World.

For some time, social media commentators have asserted that the ability of brands and consumers to communicate across social platforms in real time holds the promise of humanizing brands and personalizing customer service.

Up until now, these assertions have constituted an equal blend of reality, possibility and, frankly, wishful thinking. But as brands and customers become more comfortable participating in social media, we are beginning to encounter new social technologies that bolster brand/customer acquaintance.

Specifically, I am referring to a growing variety of mobile apps that are making brand-consumer interaction as much emotional as it is transactional. Let me give you three examples.

1. Kiip

New advertising platform Kiip's goal is to shift the relationship between brands and the growing legions of social gamers.

CEO Brian Wong founded the company on the belief that display and banner ads were ineffective on gamers because they operated on the basis of the interruption model. Kiip seeks to reinvent this relationship by allowing social gamers to do what they enjoy most — keep playing their games — while tethering advertising to the emotional dynamics of the gaming experience.

The moment a gamer reaches a milestone, such as accessing a higher level, the brand steps in to deliver a reward that feels less like an ad and more like a gift. Instead of the ad feeling like an imposition, the experience captures the customer's attention by literally heightening the gaming experience. In this way, Kiip portends to bolster a growing movement that reframes advertising to optimize the consumer experience rather than interrupt it solely to service the brand.

2. We&Co

Another platform to impact the brand-consumer relationship is We&Co. Launched in July, this company builds upon the Foursquare API by enabling customers to check in and report a positive customer experience.

The ability to register and track a positive customer experience not only establishes a new technology-based emotional dynamic between customers and brands, but it also enables employees to measure their value to employers. In due time, with the arrival of more sophisticated applications, customers will be able to communicate their experiences with a brand or in a store — instantly. Consequently, it will allow companies to track their customer service and their employees in real time.

3. One

Finally, an app called One fosters real-time people-to-people relationships, and their ability to connect around a brand, product or service. The app makes its debut at UC Berkeley this month. Essentially, One allows users to create a profile and be notified in real time when people around them share the same interests.

According to co-founders Cory Levy, 19, and Michael Callahan, 28, the application is based on a simple life truth: Many of our most important relationships are sparked when we meet people with mutual interests. "We want to prevent people from walking past each other and missing a chance to know each other," Levy says.

These common interests often center on a brand, whether a popular song, a tennis racket or a pair of trainers. As such, One give customers who share strong emotional connections to a brand the chance to connect with other like-minded individuals. In doing so, One offers brands a powerful way to strengthen their customer community and a tool to reward customers for sharing their feedback.

In my view, such technologies serve to humanize brands once again, to force them to level up the quality of customer service, and to be more mindful of the emotional factor involved in interpersonal exchange. When applied correctly, such technologies can contribute to more satisfying customer experiences, and ultimately greater business profits. Perhaps most importantly, these types of technologies can rebuild brand trust by encouraging more positive customer-company interactions.

More About: apps, business, customer service, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0

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Kuapay Lets Mobile Users Pay With QR Codes

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 08:17 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: Kuapay

Quick Pitch: Kuapay is a mobile payment application that lets users make purchases with their smartphone.

Genius Idea: QR code mobile payments.

There’s little question that the way we pay is changing: Starbucks Card Mobile is a bonafide hit, PayPal predicts that the end of the wallet is nigh, mobile money transactions are expected to to reach $670 billion by 2015, and it’s believed that more than 80% of point-of-sale systems will accept mobile payments by 2016.

Does an unknown upstart stand a chance with Google, credit card companies, PayPal and Square all vying for market share? Santa Monica-based mobile payments startup Kuapay is now ramping up operations; it believes it can win over merchants and consumers now — as opposed to waiting for NFC-enabled devices to catch on — with what it sees as the simplest mobile pay system yet.

“The mobile payments world is going to move faster if we create products that are easier for users,” says Kuapay founder Joaquin Ayuso, who previously sold Spanish social networking site Tuenti to Telefónica. “The virtualization of the wallet is a path the market wants to take. We are in a place to expose that market to users faster.”

Kuapay has iPhone, BlackBerry and Android applications for consumers. Users can add their credit card information and then present participating merchants with a QR code to scan and pay at the register. It functions fairly similar to Starbucks’ 2D barcode-scanning system.

The mobile application is meant to be a “real,” and secure, virtual wallet that lowers the barrier for consumer and merchant participation, Ayuso says.

In addition to managing payments, the app saves the user’s transaction history, encrypts card data, requires the user set a PIN number for access, keeps track of loyalty program points and rewards, and supports discounts and offers.

The solution is also meant to be accessible to merchants, Ayuso insists, because it doesn’t require them to purchase additional hardware. Merchants need only upgrade their existing point-of-sale software to begin accepting Kuapay payments. The startup, Ayuso says, has relationships with all the major POS providers to make the upgrade process fairly automatic.

Kuapay, which has raised $900,000 in seed funding, is currently beta testing its mobile payment system at select locations in Santa Monica, and abroad in Chile and Spain. It plans to launch publicly in the fourth quarter of this year.

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.

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The 10 Most Expensive Google Acquisitions

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 06:47 PM PDT

Global search corporation Google, Inc. added to its already hefty empire when it announced its planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility the morning of August 15. The purchase marked Google’s most expensive acquisition to-date at a staggering $12.5 billion.

Google has acquired more than 100 companies over the past ten years. Curious about its most expensive acquisitions thus far? Flip through the gallery below to discover how Google has integrated its top ten priciest purchases:

1. dMarc Broadcasting

In January 2006, Google acquired advertising company dMarc Broadcasting for $102 million. Google integrated dMarc into its AdSense app.

2. On2 Technologies

After negotiations between the two companies, Google acquired video compression company On2 in February 2010 for $133 million in Google stock. On2 designed video codec technology which Google used to optimize its WebM video format.

3. Slide.com

Google bought web 2.0 company Slide.com in August 2010 for $182 million. Originally founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin Slide.com was known as the largest third-party developer of Facebook applications until Google purchased it to "make Google services socially aware."

4. Admeld

Google purchased Admeld. in June 2011 for $400 million. The company specialized in optimizing online ad yield by simplifying ad display. Google integrated Admeld with its additional DoubleClick and Invite Media acquisitions.

5. Postini

In July 2007 Google acquired web security and archiving company Postini for $625 million. It provides the cloud computing services and spam filters that Google soon integrated into Gmail.

6. ITA Software

Google purchaed travel industry software company ITA Software for $700 million in July 2010. Google uses ITA's software to optimize its travel and flight search.

7. AdMob

In November 2009 Google acquired mobile ad company AdMob for $750 million. The company helped Google improve its mobile advertising solutions.

8. YouTube

Long ago in October 2006 Google bought YouTube for a shocking $1.65 billion. Although the company wasn't absorbed by Google Video, YouTube continues to function as a Google subsidiary.

9. DoubleClick

Google purchased DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in April 2007. The Google subsidiary provides ad service and support to AdSense.

10. Motorola Mobility

Google's most recent and expensive acquisition to date occurred August 15, 2011 with its purchase of Motorola Mobility. Motorola is one of 39 manufacturers of Android handsets. By purchasing the mobile hardware manufacturer, Google hopes "to supercharge the Android ecosystem."

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Official Steve Jobs Biography Hits Bookshelves in November

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 05:57 PM PDT

The release of the first official biography of Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs has been pushed up by nearly five months.

Steve Jobs: A Biography is now slated to hit bookshelves on November 21. Book publisher Simon & Schuster intended to release the book in March 2012, but has decided to move that date back. According to Simon & Schuster, the book is being released early because “the book is now ready.”

The biography, originally titled iSteve: The Book of Jobs, is being penned by Walter Isaacson, the former CEO of CNN and the former managing editor of Time. It contains information from more than forty interview conducted with Steve Jobs. The biography also includes hundreds of interview with “family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues,” according to the publisher.

The book is sure to be a bestseller. Jobs is an iconic figure in technology and society for co-founding Apple, being kicked out of the company he created, selling Pixar to Disney, and returning to Apple to turn it into the world’s most valuable company. Perhaps that’s why many people believe he isone of the world’s greatest CEOs.

More About: apple, steve jobs, Steve Jobs: A Biography, Walter Isaacson

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President Obama Joins Foursquare

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 05:02 PM PDT

Foursquare has just gained its highest-profile user yet: President Barack Obama.

“The White House is now on Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, which is the latest way for you to engage with the administration,” The White House said on its blog. “There are over 10 million people already ‘checking in’ around the world, and now you'll be able to discover ‘tips’ from the White House featuring the places President Obama has visited, what he did there, plus historical information and more.”

The White House says that it will be posting tips about the president’s visits around the country as he embarks on an economic bus tour across the Midwest. The White House will also be creating checkin locations for different presidential events. The White House posted its first tip on its page on Monday, revealing that the president delivered a speech in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, where he discussed ways to grow and strengthen the economy.

Obama joining Foursquare comes just hours after the geosocial network unveiled Tip Lists, a feature that lets users and brands bundle and curate their best tips into easy-to-follow lists. It seems that the White House will be using Tip Lists as a way to track the president’s visits across the country as he begins his campaign for reelection.

The addition of the president to Foursquare’s 10 million-plus users could be a watershed moment for the mobile service, especially as the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear. Expect a lot more people to join Foursquare very soon.

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A Third of Young Adults Have Had Pretend Phone Conversations [REPORT]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 04:36 PM PDT

The latest survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project underscores how reliant users are becoming on their mobile devices. According to the report, 42% of adults aged 18-29 — a growing number — said that they have had trouble completing a task because they didn’t have their phone nearby. A majority of adults aged 18-49 use their phones as entertainment devices to stave off boredom.

And most surprisingly of all, 30% of adults 18-29 have pretended to be on the phone in order to avoid human interaction, the report says.

But that doesn’t mean we want to stay connected all the time. Nearly 1/3 of adults surveyed also reported that they sometimes turn their phones off for a period of time, just to get a break. This figure was equally true for smartphone and feature phone users.

The survey underscores the differences between smartphone users and regular feature phone users — differences in how they interact with their devices, as well as how different demographics use their phones.

The most common activities for both kinds of user include sending text messages and taking photos. For smartphone users, accessing the Internet is also one of the most frequent reasons to pick up their device. Other common tasks include sending and receiving email, playing games and downloading apps. Naturally, using a phone to look up urgent information is a consistently popular activity across age groups.

Video chat, which is slowly finding its way to more handsets, is one of the few areas with relatively low adoption across the board.

The data represents trends we’ve been seeing for quite some time. Users have an expectation of access to real-time information and have come to rely on their mobile devices to deliver that information. The high number of young people who use their phones as entertainment devices also underscores just how disruptive the smartphone has been in the portable gaming and portable entertainment space.

Still, we found it interesting that a third of users sometimes just shut their phones off to escape the world. Personally, I almost never turn my cell phone off. Sure, I’ll put it on silent and screen calls, but I’m far too afraid to actually shutting the device off except in rare circumstances.

How often to you shut your phone off to avoid the madness? Let us know.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: Pew Internet & American Life Project, smartphones, stats

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A Brief History of Online Activism

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 04:00 PM PDT

Whether it’s raising awareness or calling citizens to action, technology has played a significant role in connecting people with a common goal of change. Messaging through email listservs, Facebook rally invites and change.org petitions are now the norm for many activists.

It all started in the 1990s and has continued to grow, most recently as a driving force in the London riots. With the Web 2.0 movement and social networking boom of recent years, just about everyone has a voice via the Internet — and many are using theirs to mobilize.

Here is a timeline of some key moments in online activism, most of which resulted in a physical protest or directly affected change. Do you remember where you were at these moments in history? Share your story in the comments below.

Lotus Marketplace — April, 1990

In 1990, a product called Lotus Marketplace: Households aimed to revolutionize the marketing list industry. Instead, it raised new concerns about consumer privacy and led the public to take action.

Software company Lotus and credit bureau Equifax combined to create the product, which contained names, addresses and purchasing behavior of 120 million Americans in CD-ROM form.

Concerned consumers organized through email and message boards with the primary goal of determining how to contact Lotus and opt out of the list. Eventually, some 30,000 people did so, making the controversy what many consider the first online protest. In the face of unforeseen criticism, Lotus and Equifax decided by early 1991 not to release the database.

Image courtesy Flickr, Meuh !.

Zapatistas — 1994 to present

The Zapatista movement was started by the EZLN party in Mexico, a revolutionary leftist group that planned to use non-violent tactics to help the indigenous people of the Chiapas state receive some benefit from the harvest of natural resources in the region. Much of their organizational efforts utilized email and usenet groups as well some of the earliest kinds of DDoS attacks to bring down government websites and garner attention for their causes.

In addition to representing Chiapas, the Zapatista movement hopes to help any groups they consider marginalized by governments around the world, including women and LGBT groups. The movement is still active, and continues to use online tactics.

Image courtesy Flickr, 20 Letters.

MoveOn.Org — Sept. 15, 1998

Fed up with Congress deliberating on how to deal with Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd took to the web to send a message to Washington: "Censure President Clinton and Move on to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation."

The simple online petition, dubbed MoveOn.org, was originally sent out to about 100 family members and friends -- and within a week had garnered 100,000 signatures. Eventually the petition would receive half a million. MoveOn.org is now a 5 million-member site that allows participants to propose ideas for political change.

Image courtesy Flickr, Alan Light.

World Trade Organization Protests in Seattle — November 30, 1999

Months before the 1999 WTO Ministerial Conference was scheduled to take place, NGOs, interest groups and individual protesters against globalization organized via the Internet. They planned out strategic routes that blocked city streets and set up a dense and diversified communications network. While on the ground, the 50,000+ protesters relied on mobile phones, allowing quick shifts in strategy and taking police by surprise. These opposition organizers also created the Independent Media Center, now a worldwide alternative news source, as a grassroots reporting tool for their demonstrations.

Image courtesy Flickr, djbones.

California Immigration Protests — March 27, 2006

In late March 2006, Los Angeles area high school students used text messaging to organize a classroom walk out in opposition to proposed changes to U.S. immigration law. These students then reached out to other teens in California's Central Valley on MySpace, inspiring another 1,000 students in Fresno to join the walk out.

Reports estimate about 40,000 students participated across Southern and Central California. Though the demonstrations were mostly peaceful, there were some clashes and several arrests.

Image courtesy Flickr, Peter Ito.

Colombian Las Farc Protests — February, 2008

In February of 2008, more than 12 million people across the world marched against Las Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a guerrilla faction that has been terrorizing the Colombian people for decades. In December 2007, after the release of some hostages, Oscar Morales, a 33-year-old engineer appalled by the situation in his country created a group on Facebook called "Un Millón de Voces Contra Las FARC."

Soon the group had thousands of members and Morales organized a march to protest against FARC and demand the liberation of hostages kept captive by them. Later in 2008, Morales founded the One Million Voices Foundation, which fights for general human rights in Colombia and works closely for the release of FARC hostages.

Iran Election Protests — June, 2009

On June 13, 2009, Iranian students gathered in force to protest the highly disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Because protesters were communicating via social networks, the Iranian government shut down Internet access.

Access slowly returned, but many social media and news sites were blocked. Protesters used social media to trade lists of proxy servers to get around the restrictions, but authorities monitoring the situation gradually blocked these proxies. One of the turning points of the protests occured online, as the killing of a young Iranian woman, Neda Soltani, was recorded on video. Highly graphic amateur videos of her death spread across the Internet and bolstered the rallying cries of supporters in Iran and worldwide.

Image courtesy Flickr, harrystaab.

WikiLeaks — April 5, 2010 to present

WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization that publishes classified media to its site by anonymous news sources and whistleblowers. Though it launched in 2006, the site became a household name in 2010 when it published footage from the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike. The video showed Iraqi journalists, among others, killed by snipers in a U.S. helicopter. In July 2010, the site published a collection of documents about the war in Afghanistan. Later that year, WikiLeaks released 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in conjunction with major media organizations such as The New York Times, sparking the height of the site's controversy.

It has since released a number of U.S. embassy cables and documents related to Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Pictured above is the site's founder Julian Assange.

New Jersey Education Protests — April 27, 2010

Thousands of New Jersey high school students participated in a walkout in protest of education cuts. The protest was sparked by a call to action on Facebook.

The event was organized by 18-year-old Michelle Ryan Lauto — a Pace University student who once attended high school in New Jersey. Lauto took action after Governor Chris Christie announced that he would cut $820 million in educational funding. Nearly 16,000 students RSVP'd "Yes" via Facebook. According to students who took part in the protest, it was largely organized via social networking efforts — texts, MySpace and, of course, the original Facebook Event.

Greek Protests — May, 2010 to present

The protests in Greece began on May 5, 2010, when people organized in response to the country's debt crisis. It was one of the country's largest protests since 1973, halting flights and ferries, paralyzing schools and hospitals. Three people were killed. Inspired by the protests, the Indignant Citizens Movement was created in Spain as well. The movement called for demonstrations across the country through Facebook. Some of the slogans for the protest were geeky: "Error 404, Democracy was not found."

The protests have continued since then, the most recent taking place on August 7, 2011.

Image courtesy Flickr, monika.monika.

Arab Spring — December 18, 2010 to present

The Arab Spring refers to a series of revolutions and uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa, starting in Tunisia on December 18, 2010.

Since the Tunisian revolution, there has been an Egyptian revolution, civil war in Libya, uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Oman, Morocco and Jordan, and demonstrations in several other countries. Much of the information about each event was disseminated via blogs, Twitter, and Facebook Groups, whether it was for the benefit of those organizing inside the country, or those in the rest of the world trying to get news on what was happening inside of the country.

Twitter hashtags such as #Jan25, the date of the Egyptian revolution, are still active on Twitter.

Image courtesy Flickr, magharebia.

Spain 15-M Protests — May, 2011

The 15-M movement (related to May 15, the date the first protest occurred) was a series of peaceful demonstrations that took place throughout Spain in May 2011. The protesters opposed the unemployment level, welfare cuts and Spanish politicians, among other issues.

The demonstrations took place in 166 cities across the country, some of which lasted longer than a month.

Facebook pages were created for each city to rally citizens. On Twitter, #spanishrevolution was used to follow the protests.

Image courtesy Flickr, vreimunde.

Saudi Women Driving — June, 2011

Women of Saudi Arabia organized to drive on June 17, 2011, one month after Manal al-Sherif — a key figure in a social media campaign against a ban on female drivers — was arrested for posting a YouTube video of herself driving around the city of Khobar.

Activists pushed the movement via Facebook, Twitter and other online outlets before some of those accounts were shut down. Online support for the campaign has lived on through Facebook and Twitter in several forms, including the Honk for Saudi Women viral campaign, which featured videos of women and men from around the world honking their horns in support of Saudi women who drove on June 17.

The above photo is of a t-shirt, which says in Arabic, "Yes to women driving."

London Riots — August 4, 2011

On August 4, police fatally shot Mark Duggan, a resident of the Tottenham area of north London. A peaceful protest of about 300 people gathered around the police station in Tottenham. Unconfirmed reports state that violence erupted in reaction to a confrontation between a teenage protestor and a policeman. This inspired violent riots throughout London, coordinated mainly via Blackberry Messenger.

The riots continue, but people are now flocking to Twitter to coordinate clean up efforts. Twitter's traffic has sharply spiked: One out of every 170 Internet visits in the UK on August 8 was to Twitter.com.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Alan Stanton.

Mashable community team members Stephanie Haberman, Todd Olmstead, Connie Preti and Chelsea Stark contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy Flickr, Anonymous9000.

More About: Hacktivists, online activism, protest, timeline

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Google & AP to Fund Digital Journalists of The Future

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 03:17 PM PDT

Google and the Associated Press have launched a national scholarship program designed to support the development of digital and new media skills in aspiring journalists.

The AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship program will extend six $20,000 scholarships to undergraduate (sophomores and above) and graduate students pursuing degrees related to the intersection of journalism, computer science and new media in the 2012 to 2013 academic year.

The scholarship’s administrators are looking for students working on “innovative projects that further the ideals of digital journalism” from a variety of geographic, gender and ethnic backgrounds.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 to 2013 academic year. Recipients will be announced this spring.

The scholarships represent just a slice of the the $5 million Google promised to donate to fostering the development in digital journalism in October 2010. In February, Google awarded $2.7 million to the International Press Institute’s News Innovation Contest.

Image courtesy of Flickr, US Mission Geneva

[via Mediabistro]

More About: ap, Google, journalism, media

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Self Magazine Launches Diet Plan that Sends You Five Texts A Day

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 02:53 PM PDT

Women’s health and fitness magazine Self launched its public beta of a mobile, text-based diet program Monday.

The Self Diet Tapper sends subscribers five texts per day to instruct them what and when to eat and drink, as well as exercise.

The diet, devised by a team of registered dietitians and fitness experts, isn’t particularly strict or formal. It’s more of a reminder system for healthy living, chiming in at key points of the day to tell participants to eat a high-protein breakfast so they don’t reach for a doughnut at their 11 a.m. meeting, or to stay hydrated in the afternoons, says Self editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger.

“What's most appealing is that users will be in control so they can choose whether to act on the gentle tap,” she says. “They don't have to think about any formal diet plan or second-guess themselves.”

Subscribers can also log into self.com/diettapper to access a library of meal and workout suggestions to accompany the reminders. Self has devised and distributed numerous diet plans to its readers in the past, both in print and on the web.

The Conde Nast title was inspired to design a SMS-based program after research suggested that text message reminders can help in achieving health goals.

A study in the Archives of Dermatology showed that people who received a text message to wear sunscreen were 26% more likely to apply SPF. Another, published in British medical journal The Lancet, found that people who received motivational texts to help them quit smoking were twice as likely to have maintained that resolution six months later.

Self decided to offer the program via SMS instead of an app, to make it available to as many readers as possible — not just smartphone users. The service costs $2.99 per month and can be cancelled at any time.

We like the concept of the program, though for a monthly fee we’d expect it to be customizable. At the very least, the service should allow users to keep track of how well they’re doing. Should Self develop a robust web and/or smartphone app — something more like Lose It! [iTunes link], for instance, but with SMS reminders, we’d be on it in a heartbeat.

More About: conde nast, media, self, SMS

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Vevo Offers Free Remix MP3s Next to Featured Videos

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 02:33 PM PDT

Music video service Vevo is getting a shot of indie cred Monday. It just launched a partnership with RCRD LBL, a curated site featuring reviews of — and MP3s from — up-and-coming bands. Now, next to some featured videos on Vevo, you’ll find free downloadable remix MP3s of the same tunes. RCRD LBL, in turn, will feature Vevo music videos alongside downloads on its site.

The whole deal kicks off with a video from most-loved-band-of-the-summer, Cults, for their single, “Go Outside.” You’ll get a catchy free remix of that jam by Menahan Street Band — though you do have to sign up for a RCRD LBL account.

Vevo has tried other ways to pump artists in the past. In January it launched Lift, a platform for emerging artists in January.

The RCRD LBL partnership adds another dimension to the site, by highlighting bands on the indie side of the tracks (such as Cults) as well as artists who like to get creative by remixing.

This is also the first time Vevo has offered music in the form of downloadable MP3s, allowing users to build out their musical libraries.

More About: Cults, music, rcrd-lbl, vevo, video

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Adobe Muse Now in Free Public Beta, Makes Website Creation Easy

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 01:53 PM PDT

Adobe released the public beta of its new website creation software, code-named Muse, on Monday.

Unlike Dreamweaver, Adobe’s flagship web development tool, Muse is for graphic designers who want to create elegant websites without having to code.

We’ve been playing with Muse for the past two weeks as part of the private beta, and we are impressed with the tool’s functionality and featureset. What differentiates Muse from some other code-free website creation tools is this: the user interface and the design paradigms mimic those from other Adobe Creative Suite applications, namely InDesign.

This was by design. Adobe says that the majority of users who identify themselves as graphic designers — i.e., not web developers or interaction designers — still primarily work with print. Muse is for these users.

A common scenario is that a graphic designer will create a website in Illustrator, Fireworks or Photoshop and then pass the flattened file off to web designers who will then do their best to code the comp.

With Muse, Adobe hopes to eliminate that coding step for users whose sites don’t need lots of dynamic content — and who want to lay out and generate the code for their site with one tool.

Check out this video to see Muse in action:

Small Footprint, Lots of Features

Perhaps the most surprising feature about Muse is that it is an Adobe Air application, rather than a full-blown native app. That means it works on Mac and PC.

I’m not particularly fond of Adobe Air on the Mac; it tends to have sub-optimal performance. But in Muse’s hands it is fast, efficient, and auto-saves frequently.

This is a public beta, so crashes will happen. When they do, you can just start the app again and resume without losing too much work.

Muse was built to take advantage of certain HTML5 and CSS3 properties and to generate semantically-correct code. We’ve heard all of that before, but in our tests, the code that Muse outputs is clean and readable.

You can add your own HTML snippets or dynamic content information to a Muse page, and the app also comes with a set of pre-defined widgets. These widgets are written in jQuery and can be modified like any other element. CSS3 transitions are also possible to create in Muse; the process is seamless.

You can preview a page locally using the built-in WebKit browser or by opening up a file in the default app on your Mac or PC. This is great for seeing exactly how something looks in a browser before publishing.

Why Not Use WordPress?

The main question that comes up with these types of tools is this: why not just use WordPress, or some similar content management system?

Adobe’s answer is another question: how many types of designers actually need a database system?

For brochure sites, landing pages and sites that don’t have frequently changing content, a database web system usually isn’t necessary. If you can embed JavaScript, RSS feeds and other information into a site itself, a designer might not even need to bother with the whole CMS process.

That said, Muse could easily be used to prototype content that would then be implemented into a system like WordPress. For instance, a page and section layout designed in Muse could become a new WordPress theme.

In fact, users of the private beta are already exploring these kinds of options, and Adobe is open to expanding on them.

Publishing, Pricing & Availability

Muse is available in public beta now, and Adobe has said the program will be free until its official release in early 2012. That gives designers a chance to offer their feedback.

Once Muse launches under its final name in early 2012, it will be available by subscription. This is the first Adobe product to have a subscription-only pricing scheme and it will be $15 per month with a one-year commitment or $20 per month on a month-to-month basis.

Users who want to publish their sites can choose to use Adobe Business Catalyst for their hosting needs and publish directly from Muse.

If you have hosting setup elsewhere, you can export the contents of your site as HTML and upload the corresponding files, images, HTML and CSS files to your web server.

A Muse Site

Adobe’s website for Muse was created using the app, which is an impressive example of dog-fooding. Just to get a sense of what the app could do, I put together this layout for one of my domains, christina.is, in about 20 minutes. Most of the time was spent aligning the social media icons and aligning that text within the confines of a JavaScript accordion.

This isn’t the most beautiful site in the world — however, for less than 20 minutes of work, it’s not a bad start.

What do you think of Adobe’s new website creation tool? Graphic designers, are you interested in an InDesign-approach to layout and semantically generated code? Let us know in the comments.

More About: adobe, Adobe Air, muse, Web Development, website creation

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Englishman Arrested for Planning Water Gun Fight on Facebook & BBM

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 01:13 PM PDT

Following the havoc wreaked by the London riots, a 20-year-old man from Colchester, England, was arrested for allegedly organizing a giant water gun fight via the BlackBerry Messenger service and Facebook.

Water gun fights are nothing new in England; according to the Guardian, summertime H2O shootouts — organized online — were a popular pastime in 2008. But the man in question chose a poor time and tool to plan his aqua attack. The UK is on high alert after the riots that broke out following the police shooting of Mark Duggan, a resident of the Tottenham area of north London. BBM was the communication method of choice during the riots.

A police spokesman declined to comment on whether not police were monitoring BMM service, telling the Guardian: “Essex police use appropriate measures for whatever the crime and wherever our investigations lead us.”

The UK Government has been investigating what role tech and social media played in organizing the riots. On Friday, the UK government announced it would be holding talks with Facebook and RIM. Previously, Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that the government is examining whether it is possible to prevent suspected criminals from sending messages via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The notion obviously ruffled the feathers of free speech advocates, who look upon the proposed move as a form of serious censorship. This most recent arrest is also sure to raise ire among those watching Britain for signs of overreaction.

Image Courtesy of Flickr, Britanglishman

More About: blackberry, BMM, facebook, london riots, social media, water-gun

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O.A.R. Takes Us Behind the Scenes of “Heaven” [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 12:25 PM PDT

Each Monday, Mashable highlights an exclusive new video or song. Check out all our Music Monday picks.

When it came time for the band O.A.R to release its seventh studio album, King, it took to the web to pump the disc drop. The group created a series of behind-the-scenes videos, one of which it shared exclusively with Mashable for Music Monday.

The video above covers the making of the upcoming music video for “Heaven,” a song that, despite its title, has nothing to do with religion. “The song comes from the belief that you are perfect the way you are and if anyone thinks differently, you probably don’t need them in your life,” says O.A.R. guitarist Richard On.

To promote the album, which dropped at the beginning of August, the group employed everything from Topspin (to offer downloads for email addresses), to live chats on UStream, to a social network-driven scavenger hunt to help fans uncover the location of the album release show. The band also premiered its album as a stream on music subscription service Rdio.

“The days of releasing a record and watching it blow up on its own are over,” says On, whose band has been on the scene since the ’90s. “You need to make yourself available and creatively engage your core fans.”

According to O.A.R.’s reps, the campaign has paid off. It’s netted the band more than 23,000 new Facebook fans and 7,000 more Twitter followers, as well as a ton of attention on Rdio.

You can download the single, “Heaven,” below.

“Heaven,” O.A.R. by Mashable

More About: music, music monday, OAR, video

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Crowdbooster Nudges You When New Twitter Followers Have Klout [INVITES]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 11:46 AM PDT

Crowdbooster, a private beta startup that measures the resonance of tweets and Facebook status updates, has just introduced Klout influencer notifications — an insightful aide for gauging whether a new Twitter follower is follow-worthy.

The startup is now notifying its users, via the Crowdbooster dashboard, when someone with a high Klout score follows them on Twitter. Users can choose to follow the influential Twitter user back and tweet them a greeting, right from the dashboard.

The integration, a welcome addition for marketers and Twitter power users, works to surface influential followers with the help of Klout’s beefed-up scoring system. Klout now also measures a user’s social presence on Instagram, YouTube and Foursquare.

Crowdbooster is currently in private beta, but CEO Ricky Yean is giving 500 invites to Mashable readers. Use this invite link to get early access to the product.

Image courtesy of Flickr, ilse

More About: crowdbooster, klout, social media, twitter

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Foursquare Launches Tip Lists

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 11:35 AM PDT

Foursquare is introducing a new feature called Tip Lists that will allow users and brands to bundle their best tips together in lists.

Tip lists can be individual collections or shared entities. Users can choose to share lists — with friends both on and off Foursquare — and collaborate on building the be-all-end-all list of the 20 best sandwich shops in San Diego, for instance.

“Early Foursquare prototypes were all about curating lists of experiences, but we never got around to launching those features,” CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley tells Mashable. “Tip lists is executing on what we’ve always wanted to let users do: Create lists about the things you know best, share them with friends, team up with friends to curate lists, and follow lists created by friends and partners.”

Tip lists, as Crowley suggests, are an especially interesting addition for brands and businesses already using the location-based platform — brands, cities and media companies were initially drawn to the service and its tips feature as a way to curate interesting location and topic-specific content for their fans.

The startup seems especially attuned to the brand appeal of tip lists and is rolling out the new feature with a number of launch partners that will feature lists as a part of their pages.

Launch partners include a smattering of notable media and entertainment brands, schools and celebrity personalities. Lucky Magazine, Spin Magazine, Time Out New York, Travel Channel, MTV, Bravo TV, Wolfgang Puck, Alicia Keys, ASU, Texas Tech and Texas A&M join a host of other prominent Foursquare partners who will be showcasing their tip lists to Foursquare users.

More About: foursquare, Mobile 2.0

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Chairlift’s Aaron Pfenning Releases Acoustic Video for New Solo Project: “Rewards”

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 11:08 AM PDT

Each Monday, Mashable highlights an exclusive new video or song. Check out all our Music Monday picks.

“I like the fact that it’s almost impossible to find me if you only Google the word ‘Rewards,’” says Aaron Pfenning of his new solo project. “I kind of like being hidden in the Internet.”

A couple of years back, Pfenning was far from hidden on the Internet — especially if you were in the market for an iPod. Pfenning was previously in the band Chairlift, whose upbeat yet-mildly disturbing jam “Bruises” scored a Nano commercial.

Pfenning split from the band in 2010. “It’s a complicated situation,” he says. “It’s nothing negative. Only positive things have steered me to what I’m doing now.”

What he’s doing now is lending his rich, whispery voice to a solo project that he’s been dabbling with since 2003, Rewards, collaborating with the likes of Solange Knowles and Devonté Hynes of Blood Orange on a new album. The release date has yet to be nailed down, but he’s been consistently performing and releasing new tracks of late. Check out an acoustic video for the single “I Used To,” which was directed by Alan Ortiz, above.

Why the holdup on the disc drop? Well, according to Pfenning, he keeps getting distracted and going on boat rides.

“I’m actively looking into getting a boat,” he says. “I’ve been reading The Zombie Survival Guide… So I’ve been thinking about how one can escape from New York in an apocalyptic situation — driving out never works, so, a boat.”

Here’s hoping the album comes out before the zombies attack. It would be a shame if we all perished before Pfenning managed to up his SEO.

More About: Aaron Pfenning, chairlift, music, music monday, rewards, video

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Cheer Detergent Music Video Lets You Click To Win Prizes

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 10:49 AM PDT

Cheer detergent is rolling out what it claims is an industry first: A clickable YouTube video that takes you to a non-YouTube site.

The music video, for the song “Climbing Walls” from Strange Talk, has colorful objects, which viewers can click to be entered to win them. Those prizes include socks, dresses and a Fender Stratocaster, among other items. Jason Wiedemann, brand manager for the Procter & Gamble detergent brand, says although other YouTube videos have included such Annotations before, those linked to another YouTube site. The Cheer video leads to a Facebook app for Cheer where you can register for the item you “dug.” A YouTube rep says she believes Cheer is “one of the first” to use Annotations this way, though she said she couldn’t be sure others hadn’t.

The unique approach underscores the brand’s attempt to woo a young, digitally savvy audience. The brand’s marketing budget is now 100% digital, Wiedemann says, and the brand is being positioned to appeal to consumers who want to express their individuality. (Tagline: “We dig color.”)

Like other P&G brands, Cheer is no doubt attempting to incorporate elements of the company’s successful Old Spice turnaround, which was executed with a combination of humor and digital innovation.

More About: Cheer, MARKETING, old spice, Procter & Gamble, youtube

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5 Years of YouTube Politics [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 10:38 AM PDT

YouTube, which has quickly become the media site of record, has put together an infographic celebrating five years of political highs and lows.

If someone important does anything wonderful, stupid or wonderfully stupid on camera — it is likely the site has the video. This is typically true of the political arena, as politicians often make gaffes while they’re on the road, whether it’s during bill debates or a casual conversation.

YouTube and other video hosting sites provide a place where the public can find and watch hours of clips featuring elected officials. More than 500 U.S. candidates for office have official channels.

Of course, it’s not all fail videos and mistakes, YouTube has also played an increasingly large role in elections and the day-to-day operations of the White House. So now the site has gone back and traced its complicated but important relationship with American politics starting with then-Sen. George Allen’s (R.-Va.) racial slur — “macaca” — as the video that put YouTube on the political map.

Take a look at how YouTube and politics have grown, from President Barack Obama’s weekly addresses, CNN’s debates in 2007 to the 2012 presidential announcement videos. Is YouTube and government a match made in heaven? Does video, especially on a free and open site like YouTube, help the political process? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

youtube politics infographic

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4 Traits of Better Business Software

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 10:21 AM PDT

David Williams is VP of technology at Coupa, which provides cloud spend management solutions for customers like Salesforce.com, Rent-A-Center, Amazon and SUBWAY. You can follow David on Twitter @metakube and on the company blog, Coupa Cabana.

Your company just on-boarded another software product that promises to make work better, faster and easier. If you're familiar with traditional enterprise software, you probably found yourself rolling your eyes already. But some newer players are giving the dinosaurs a run for their money by focusing on simplification and usability. Not all business software is created equal, and there are some principles to keep in mind to identify truly better business software.

So, how do you spot better business software?

It's Usable

I can't stress this enough. The usability of a product is key to its adoption and implementation. When examining a new software product, ask yourself and others: Do you understand what it's doing without taking a seminar? When it surprises you, are the surprises good or bad? (Frustration doesn't tend to help adoption.) Is the learning curve comparable to my iPhone or Kindle? How much (if any) training will be required?

One way to gauge if a technology is usable for everyone — from IT, to marketing, to sales — is to form a technology focus group. “Focus group” can be a dirty term, and you don't have to call it that, but make sure the groups of people that will use the software day-to-day get a say in it, or there's a good chance you'll end up with shelfware. Gathering folks at different levels and in different departments to test-drive the product will help determine if it's truly easy to use and may help create buy-in early on.

It Has Structure

Business software benefits from certain constraints, and it's important to understand how the structure of the software you're evaluating maps to your own company structure and processes. In today’s marketplace, we've come to expect the ability to customize any product to our personal preferences. The same thinking often holds sway when selecting business software, and it's not always healthy.

Structure should encourage best practices, discourage bad ones and map as cleanly as possible to your own company structure and processes. One of the most challenging aspects of building enterprise software is maintaining structure cleanly from release to release, and this plays a large role in determining which features to build. My company believes strongly in the 80/20 rule — 20% of the features will be used 80% of the time, and those features in the 20% group are likely to remain consistent throughout our customer base. Customization at the code level may or may not be on the table, but I strongly discourage it. In addition to the often significant upfront cost, there are innumerable tangible and intangible costs down the road, and there's a decent chance you'll compromise the structure.

It's Flexible and Fast

As much as business software should have structure, it also needs flexibility within that structure.  Completely inflexible design will make it very difficult to add new departments, create new functions specific to your industry or business, or remove things that generate more problems than they fix. It will also lead you to resort to customization, increasing costs and time-to-value.

In addition to flexibility, the software should also be fast and agile, allowing for modifications and enhancements to be made and deployed in days, not months. For some companies, this might seem like a pipe dream, given traditional mega vendors' notoriously long wait times and fees. The reality, though, is that we're moving toward a model with more consumer-friendly, cloud-based software products that are designed to be this flexible. If your software vendor's response to critical requests is consistently, "Hey, sure, we'll get that to you in six to eight months," then you're just not going to see the results you need. On the other hand, if your critical request is, "This button is supposed to be yellow," you're doing it wrong.

It's Scalable

Particularly with cloud and SaaS (software as a service) products, the need to scale can be huge. This isn't quite the same as scaling, say, Twitter — your enterprise app isn't going to debut at SXSW and get swamped by unexpected traffic spikes. It's more about scaling to the functional demands of the business.

How easily can you scale up an implementation from an initial trial department to a global deployment? What if your company merges with a major enterprise or acquires a whole new division?  Or, on the flip side, what if you spin off a subsidiary? Your business software will need to adjust to more or fewer users, use cases and associated traffic.

Many businesses merge or acquire to rapidly grow. Your technology needs to be able to support that business growth and help accelerate it, ideally without turning it into a year-long consulting project.

These four traits are the hallmarks of better business software, but they can be tough to discern in an avalanche of demos.  If these resonate with you, how do they apply (or not apply) to the technology you're running across your company today? What processes or software could use a rethink?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shironosov

More About: business, List, Web Development

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Why the Google-Motorola Deal Is About More Than Mobile Phones

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:47 AM PDT

With its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google has shown that it is ready to take its investment in mobile to the next level. It’s important to remember, however, that Motorola Mobility does more than just make smartphones.

Ostensibly, Google’s decision to purchase Motorola has as much to do with increasing its patent portfolio as it is about getting into the hardware market, with Google already committing to running Motorola as a separate business. Still, we find it hard to believe that Google will just ignore the opportunity to potentially better couple its Android operating system with Motorola-produced tablets or smartphones.

Google-Motorola Could Give Google TV a Fighting Chance

Motorola is one of the biggest players in the set-top box space, and cable companies lease its cable boxes, DVR and IPTV components to customers. While we think it’s unlikely that Google will make any major changes to this existing business, owning Motorola means that Google TV has a potential distribution strategy.

To date, Google TV has been a colossal failure for not only Google, but for the companies that have partnered with Google to bring out Google TV hardware.

Google TV has failed, in part, because the product isn’t very good and because it doesn’t offer significant value to the customer. However, even if the Google TV product was great, it would still have a hard time achieving widespread adoption in the consumer marketplace, simply because as Steve Jobs has noted, selling consumers another box is hard.

However, what prevents Motorola from offering a Google TV-enabled set-top box option to its cable customers? Making a product available doesn’t guarantee that anyone will buy it, but the better integration of Android and the Google backing could lead to more robust, higher quality Android-powered connected TV options for cable providers that are increasingly looking to edge out subscription streaming services in order to retain customers.

A Manufacturing Spin Out?

We agree with Saul Hansell in believing that within the decade — if not much sooner — Google will likely spin-out Motorola’s manufacturing business. As Hansell says, “It’s just not what [Google does], and it’s not what they need in the long run.”

The impact that the manufacturing business could have on Google’s financial reporting could be a distraction.

Nokia and RIM Ripe for the Picking

Of course, other players in the device space may feel the most immediate impact from the Google-Motorola deal.

Shares in Nokia and RIM jumped in the wake of the Google-Motorola announcement, as the market saw beleaguered mobile giants as ripe acquisition targets for companies like Microsoft. Nokia has already tied its future fortunes to Microsoft’s Windows Phone ship, why not just complete the deal and be done with it?

Assuming the Google-Motorola deal sails through without any regulatory hurdles, it could open to door for an acquisition of either Nokia or RIM.

More About: connected devices, Google, google tv, google-motorola, Motorola, trending

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IAB Opposes “.Whatever” Domain Name Plan

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 09:24 AM PDT

The Interactive Advertising Bureau on Monday came out against a proposed plan for so-called “.Whatever” domains, charging that it would cause “incalculable financial damage” to brand owners.

The plan, unveiled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] in June, would allow for the expansion of generic top-level domains beyond the current two dozen or so current TLDs, including .com, .net and .tv. Such a plan would go into effect within a few months.

The IAB, however, believes that such a scheme “which could include domain endings that focus on specific trademarked brand names such as .coke, .jetblue, .cnn, .facebook or .verizon, would come at an extremely high cost to publishers and advertisers, and would also offer "cyber squatters" an opportunity to harm a brand's integrity and/or profit greatly from their bad-faith domain registrations.” Reps from ICANN could not be reached for comment.

In a press release, Randall Rothenberg, the IAB’s CEO and president, laid into ICANN for not researching the economic impact of the plan. "This could be disastrous for the media brand owners we represent and the brand owners with which they work,” said Rothenberg. “We hope that ICANN will reconsider both this ill-considered decision and the process by which it was reached.”

The IAB’s opposition comes a week after the Association of National Advertisers also came out publicly against the plan.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ahlobystov

More About: domains, IAB, ICANN, MARKETING, top level domains

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iPhones With 4G Being Tested [REPORT]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 08:45 AM PDT

At least one U.S. carrier is testing LTE for the iPhone, according to a report.

Boy Genius Report cites an internal iOS test from an unnamed carrier that includes a property list for LTE. As noted, the inclusion of the code doesn’t mean that the iPhone 5 — or every iPhone 5 — will support LTE; it just means that it’s been tested.

LTE (Long Term Evolution, a.k.a. 4G) is a big upgrade from 3G service. With LTE, users can enjoy download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and uploads of 2-5 Mbps, which are on par with conventional broadband. That compares with a max of 1.4 Mbps for downloads and 0.8 Mbps for uploads on 3G, the service now available for the iPhone. The iPhone 5 could be unveiled as early as September 8, according to reports.

AT&T and Verizon — the two U.S. partners for Apple’s iPhone — are deploying LTE throughout their networks, though neither has full coverage across the U.S.

More About: 4G, att, iPhone 5, LTE, verizon

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Could Google’s Motorola Acquisition Ease Its Patent Woes?

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 08:29 AM PDT

The phrase “protect the Android ecosystem” was one Google and Motorola executives bounced around frequently while discussing Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility on a call with journalists and investors Monday morning.

Google’s Android operating system is a relatively new player in the mobile space. It’s put Google behind in the patent game and left the company open to what Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond recently referred to as “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.”

In contrast, Motorola was founded 80 years ago and was the first company to put a mobile phone on the market. It holds 17,000 issued patents worldwide and has another 7,500 patents in progress. But that hasn’t left the company immune to patent lawsuits — it’s been engaged in a legal battle with Microsoft since October — but it does have a better patent defense than Google on its own.

“While we’re not prepared to talk specific strategy, we think that Motorola having that kind of a patent portfolio … to protect the Android ecosystem is a good thing,” Drummond said on the call.

Google has good reason to be mounting a defense of Android. Other technology companies have already attempted to charge patent-based royalty fees to manufacturers that use the platform like Barnes and Noble, HTC and Samsung. These fees could pile up to a point where installing Android, a free operating system, is more expensive than making another choice.

Most recently in Google’s patent wars, Microsoft, Apple and other tech giants beat out Google and its $900 million bid for patents from the bankrupt Nortel that could threaten the Android operating system. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the deal was intended to hamper Android. In another case involving Novell patents, the department required Microsoft to sell its patents, and it required the purchasers of the other patents to give a license to the open-source community.

Shortly after the Nortel kerfuffle, Microsoft asked Samsung to pay a $15 royalty fee for every phone that it makes that uses the Android platform.

Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said the portfolio has “tremendous strength” in wireless standards. Google seems to have brought a ringer into the patent arena, but whether that will change the game in a way worth its $12.5 billion price tag is still to be played out.

More About: android, Google, Motorola

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This Is Exactly What the Music Business Is Like [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 08:17 AM PDT

As any musician can tell you, it’s hard to catch a break in the biz. Montreal Band the Barr Brothers faced considerable grief when trying to get their debut disc released, a process they very accurately depict in the above video.

And by accurately, we mean not so much. The vid imagines the journey from unsigned to signed as a gunslinging adventure in the Old West that ends with the band‘s untimely demise. In real life, however, they were signed to Secret City, and their disc drops on September 27.

Check out a free track from the band, “Beggar in the Morning,” here.

More About: barr-brothers, music, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Introducing the New Mashable Follow Badge: The Honey Badger

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 08:03 AM PDT

We asked you to submit ideas for our next Mashable Follow badge for a chance to have it designed and launched as part of our social and content curation tool.

A big congratulations to Mashable Follow user Drew DePriest for submitting his idea for the “Honey Badger” badge. We’ve chosen it as the newest reward for Mashable Follow users.

How do you earn the Honey Badger badge? By earning all 25 badges that Mashable Follow originally launched with! Here’s a look at the latest badge, designed by Mashable Art Director Louis Dorman, and its description:

You're pretty bad ass. You're just running all over the place.
You've unlocked 25 Mashable Follow badges, and Honey Badger don't care!

Thanks to all who participated in our contest. We received more than 30 submissions, all of which were super original and very much Mashable‘s style. It goes to show just how awesome our community is.

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Vinyl Record Sales Jump 55% in the UK

Posted: 15 Aug 2011 07:51 AM PDT

Vinyl record sales have increased 55% this year in the UK, demonstrating that the legacy technology still has a niche in the market.

Such sales totaled 168,296 units, according to Retail Gazette. Radiohead’s vinyl release of King of Limbs led the sales with 20,771 units. The report jibes with a recent study by Nielsen SoundScan, which noted a 37% increase in vinyl sales through May 8. Last year, vinyl sales were up 14.2%, though they only comprise 1.2% of physical sales, according to Nielsen.

The rise of vinyl is driven by a bit of nostalgia, deejays’ preference for it and a belief that the format has better sound quality than digital.

Overall, music sales rose 8.5% for the first half of the year, Nielsen SoundScan reports. While digital sales are growing faster than sales of CDs, the latter still accounts for two-thirds of recorded music sales, according to Nielsen.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Tiney Ho

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