Friday, 19 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “British Airways Tests iPads To Improve In-Flight Customer Service”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “British Airways Tests iPads To Improve In-Flight Customer Service”

British Airways Tests iPads To Improve In-Flight Customer Service

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 05:07 AM PDT

British Airways has announced it is testing iPads with in-flight crew members to enhance customer service.

The iPads equip cabin crew members with a bevy of information on travelers, including their location on the plane, Executive Club status, previous travel arrangements, travel companions, special meal requests and other preferences.

The devices are also loaded with a library of British Airways documents, including safety manuals and schedules for crew members.

Traditionally (and currently, for the most part), in-flight customer service is managed using a “long scroll of paper, listing up to 337 customers,” the company’s announcement says.

The iPads will mitigate the need for paper seating charts and will give flight attendants more information about individual travelers. And because British Airways flights are equipped with wireless 3G networks, the information stored on the devices can be updated mid-flight.

One hundred crew members have tested the iPads and have given positive reviews. The company aims to distribute iPads to all senior crew members across the airline in the coming months.

Airlines are becoming increasingly tech savvy on the consumer end — offering free in-flight Facebook access, LivingSocial deals, Foursquare tie-ins and social media customer service to travelers — but British Airways’ move to focus on enhancing its flight crew’s access to tech gadgets is a less common step in the right direction.

Image courtesy of British Airways

More About: Airlines, apple, British Airways, flight attendant, flights, ipad

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Sony Introduces Digital Binoculars That Record Photos & HD Videos

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 04:03 AM PDT

Sony entered the binocular market on Friday, introducing its DEV-3 and DEV-5 digital binoculars, both capable of capturing 7.1-megapixel still images and 1080 HD videos in either 2D or 3D.

The binoculars are the “world’s first digital binoculars with HD video recording, zoom, autofocus and SteadyShot image stabilization,” according to the company’s announcement.

SteadyShot image stabilization is the the optical stabilization system that’s found in Sony Handycam camcorders and Cyber-shot cameras — it helps keep images clear and stable, even when viewing at high magnifications.

The binoculars come with a rechargeable battery pack that allows up to approximately three hours of 2D recording on a single charge. Also included with both models is a battery charger/adaptor, A/V connecting cable and USB cable for PC connection.

There are only slight differences between the two binocular models. While both the DEV-3 and DEV-5 feature 10x optical zooms, the DEV-5 can digitally zoom up to 20x. The biggest difference is the DEV-5′s built-in GPS receiver, which enables it to automatically geo-tag videos and photos. Lastly, the DEV-5 comes with a number of fancy accessories not included with the DEV-3, including a carrying case, neck strap, finder cap, a lens cover and large eye cups.

You really have to be an enthusiastic birdwatcher or sports fanatic to shell out for these puppies, though. The DEV-3 comes in at $1,400, and the DEV-5 will be priced at a whopping $2,000. We’re not convinced that a $600 price jump is justified for the addition of DEV-5′s GPS feature, advanced zooming and a few accessories.

Both binoculars will be available in November 2011 at Sony retail stores, the online Sony store and at authorized retailers.

More About: binoculars, gadgets, sony

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Apple Cracks Down on Knockoffs in New York

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 01:18 AM PDT

In an ongoing battle against trademark infringement, Apple has filed a lawsuit against two sellers of knockoff Apple accessories based in the New York City neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, according to documents unsealed Thursday in Brooklyn federal court.

The defendants — Apple Story and Fun Zone, both owned by New York resident Janie Po Chiang — are accused of selling unauthorized iPod, iPhone and iPad accessories branded with the company’s iconic logo and signature markings and phrases found on genuine Apple products, including “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”

Apple is also asking that Apple Story be ordered to change its name to minimize confusion of brands among consumers.

Apple reported having sent representatives to the two counterfeit hawkers in question, where they bought an assortment of unauthorized accessories, including stereo headsets designed for use with the iPhone that came in packaging that was “nearly an exact duplicate” to the original packaging.

The case was filed on July 25, but was not made public until Thursday, due to a U.S. trademark counterfeiting law that enables a company to initially file a trademark infringement complaint under seal, so as not to tip off accused perpetrators before goods have been seized.

At Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto has ordered both stores to stop selling counterfeit goods. He has not yet issued an order on whether Apple Story must change its name.

Above all of its other requests, the most important for Apple’s mission to stamp out knockoffs may be its request to receive a complete lists of individuals and businesses who have purchased or sold counterfeit goods. The company has been granted access to the defendants’ business email accounts, where evidence of such business deals may be found.

This case comes at a pivotal time for Apple, having recently passed Exxon to become the most valuable company in the world and having also passed Lenovo in greater China sales.

As if counterfeit goods weren’t enough to handle, Apple has also been battling for the shutdown of fake Apple stores in China, one of its most promising markets.

[via: Reuters]

More About: apple, fake, lawsuit

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You Can Now Watch “The Big Lebowski” with Your Facebook Friends

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 12:22 AM PDT

The cult classic The Big Lebowski is now available to rent on Facebook.

Coinciding with the film’s Blu-ray release, fans of the Coen brothers comedy can rent the film directly from The Big Lebowski Facebook fan page.

Facebook continues to gain ground as a movie rental platform. Last month, Paramount Pictures brought the Jackass film series to Facebook and Warner Bros. continues to make more titles available on the social network.

For this release, Universal Pictures is doing something more unique with its rental offering by giving fans a way to interact and share their favorite parts of the film online.

Working with F-commerce developer Milynoi, NBCUniversal is giving the Facebook rental experience a more social twist.

Users that rent the film can “like” and make comments on memorable scenes and quotes throughout the film. They can also see what other Facebook fans and friends have said while watching the movie. Plus, users can reward up to five friends with a $1 discount on the Facebook rental. A 48-hour rental is 30 Facebook Credits ($3), which is the same amount other studios are charging for similar titles.

Even though the film is available on DVD, Blu-ray and through digital download services such as Amazon, Cinema Now and Vudu, we think a Facebook offering makes sense for this type of film.

The Big Lebowski was not a blockbuster in theaters, but has found immense success on home video and DVD over the last 13 years. Much of its popularity has been fueled by strong word-of-mouth buzz and group rentals. I first saw the film my junior year of high school with a group of friends. It was a veritable staple in college.

Thus, it makes sense to us to allow current or new fans of the film to make the group viewing experience more visceral on the social web. With college and universities starting up, this would be a great way for friends spread out across the country to share a funny, infinitely quotable movie together.

Do you think more films should take a social approach to Facebook rentals? Let us know in the comments.

More About: facebook, facebook rentals, Film, Movies, the big lebowski

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Bing Launches Cool App For Sharing Locations & Planning Group Events [PICS]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:26 PM PDT

Bing has launched “We’re In,” a new app for Windows Phone that lets a group of friends coordinate their plans by sharing their locations.

The app isn’t like Foursquare, which is designed to broadcast your location to the rest of the world. Instead, the app is all about making it easier to plan an event with a group of friends.

Say you’re trying to get a group of friends to meet at the mall or at a roller coaster at 3:30. Trying to coordinate all of your friends to meet at an exact location can be painfully time-consuming and lead to confused participants.

“We’re In” simplifies the process of organizing these types of get-togethers. One user creates an event, adds friends to it via his contact list or phone number, titles the plan and chooses how long he wants people to share his location information.

These friends then receive a text that will either let them use the app or open a web interface. The interface maps out the location of all people participating in the event, making it easy to figure out who’s already arrived, who’s lost and who’s behind schedule. Members of the temporary event can also send status updates to keep the rest of the group informed.

Bing's We're In App

Bing's new mobile app lets a group of friend share their location for a set period of time.

We're In's Map Interface

Once users join the event, they can see their location in relation to the rest of the group.

Sharing Status Updates

Users can update their status on We're In. It appears at the top of the app.

Listing People

This is the interface for seeing the list of people on the event.

Leaving an Event

Users can opt-out of sharing their location at any time.

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17 Web Resources for Improving Your Design Skills

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 09:42 PM PDT

Mollie Vandor is the Associate Product Manager at Prior to that, she helped launch, where she served as the Product Manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”

While summer vacation winds to a close and students prepare to go back to school, the days of brand new backpacks and crisp notebooks are long gone for many adults. Although classrooms, teachers and tuition might be off the table, it doesn't mean education needs to be.

In fact, the Internet itself provides a wealth of educational opportunities. Furthermore, long summer days and relatively relaxed offices might provide the perfect setting for web education. Just think, while other people are rounding out their summer tans, you could be ringing in autumn with a whole new skill set — in this case, web design expertise. Tans fade. Beefier resumes keep shining.

Here’s a look at some of the best web resources for web design education.


Design 101 is all about the basics: master the lingo, learn the software and familiarize yourself with the driving principles that govern good design. To that end, your first stop should be a survey course of sorts. Try the Psdtuts+ self-study curriculum, where you can soak up the basics of shape, spacing, rhythm, typography, color, texture and more. To reinforce those basic skills, check out the Albany Library Design Tutorial, a sort of interactive "design for dummies." While the tutorial is a bit old school, technologically speaking, design-wise, it effectively covers the basics.

You may also want to learn a little bit about the grid system while you're at it. The system is exactly what it sounds like: a grid or set of guides on which the elements of a web page are built. Working with the grid can help in mastering the art of clean, cohesive web design. And speaking of cohesiveness, you may also want to review Web Pages That Suck for examples of how not to utilize your newly minted design skills.

Once you've tackled design theory, get practical with Adobe Design Center. It has all the tools you need to turn that theory into design reality. If you're more of a visual learner, investigate this collection of helpful YouTube Photoshop tutorials.

Upper Division

You've mastered the basics, which means you're ready for some fresh challenges and inspiration. For example, participate in The Daily Design Challenge by pledging to take on one design-related task per day for a full year. Whether you design a new font, doodle a small graphic or create a new logo for a beloved brand, set aside a few minutes every day to keep your skills sharp and your creative juices flowing.

If you're really looking for a challenge, Layer Tennis is the web's most creative competition. Sponsored by Adobe Creative Suite, Layer Tennis pits two competitors against each other in a weekly match-up. Every fifteen minutes, participants swap a single design file "back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work." A writer provides play-by-play commentary while an active community of design aficionados looks on, providing a great forum to witness inspirational creative design in action.

Next, use that creative inspiration to fuel some serious studying. MIT offers free online coursework in comparative media, in which you learn about the design principles of different mediums. Similarly, iTunes offers podcast lectures about aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Vimeo's Smarthistory videos discuss everything from Representations of David and the Florentine Renaissance to Duchamp and the Ready-Made, because there's nothing like a little art history to help you create design history of your own.

Ongoing Education

Once you've gained a comprehensive understanding of the basics, a background of art history and a fresh set of advanced skills, ongoing education can provide you with the tools necessary to showcase your talent, not to mention the additional innovation to advance your craft.

According to Smashing Magazine, "The résumé is the first portfolio piece that potential employers see, and if they're not impressed, chances are they won't look at the rest of your portfolio." Smashing offers a great tutorial to ensure that your résumé showcases your design skills. While you're at it, make sure your portfolio illustrates the best of your aesthetic abilities.

Nothing inspires your future work quite like taking in current innovative design. To that end, check out the creative collection at Designspiration. Tumblr is also a great resource for finding fantastic designers, and Quora's active community of graphic designers engages in dynamic conversation about the industry. Finally, Twitter has a plethora of design people worth following.

Whether you're looking to get a grip on design basics, or you want to sharpen your advanced skills, web resources can help you construct the perfect creative (and flexible) curriculum. And with the right smartphone or tablet, you can even study while soaking up the last of the summer sun. Now that's what we’d call an advanced placement course!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, enviromantic

More About: design, education, web

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Visual Proof: iPad Copycats Are Everywhere [PIC]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 08:42 PM PDT

When Apple launched the iPad in April 2010, it changed the way most other manufacturers approached the idea of a tablet.

As Apple continues threatening Samsung with the mother of all lawsuits for allegedly copying the iPad with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the fact remains: Most tablets look almost exactly like the iPad, especially from the front. But even though they look the same, the pretenders are dropping like flies, the latest casualty being HP’s attempt, the slow-selling TouchPad that was deep-sixed on Thursday.

No matter how much they try to imitate the iPad, other tablets have turned out to be flops so far. Bringing that point home is this telling graphic by a Macrumors commenter calling himself SockRolid, who rustled up pictures of a handful of clunky looking tablets before iPad and then more images of the cavalcade of copycats after.

Doesn’t something look fishy here?

[via All Things D, graphic courtesy Macrumors/SockRolid, used with permission]

More About: apple, Copycats, ipad, trending

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Aisle50 Takes Group Buying to the Grocery Store

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 08:06 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: Aisle50

Quick Pitch: Aisle50 brings group buying to the grocery store.

Genius Idea: Integrating with store loyalty cards.

Almost any niche you can think of has a daily deals site dedicated to it. Digital goods, music, socially conscious products and meals are just a few of the many examples.

But former Forbes journalist Christopher Steiner was surprised to find an open opportunity in grocery stores, which house products backed by some of the biggest marketing budgets.

He and his co-founders Riley Scott and George Korsnick decided to take that opportunity by creating Aisle50, a daily deals site for grocery store products that launched this week on the East Coast in 120 Lowe’s Food Stores. Customers buy daily deals on the Aisle50 site and use them by swiping Lowes loyalty cards they already have. In essence, it’s an electronic take on the coupons that many customers have already gotten into the habit of searching for.

Will customers go through the trouble of buying a deal on Aisle50 for the sake of saving, as in the case of its first deal, $3 on a giant tub of yogurt? Steiner thinks so.

“Groupon and other daily deals sites have offered deals that were for values of about $6 or $8 and sold thousands of them,” he argues. “There’s been plenty of low-value deals that sell very, very well. It doesn’t seem to be a barrier for consumers.”

Of course, Groupon has also noticed this. After Aisle50 got started on filling possibly the only potentially lucrative somewhat open space in the daily deal market, Groupon launched a deal with a New England grocery chain that integrated with its loyalty card. The company has also ran grocery-genre deals, such as a discount on home delivery it offered for an upscale market in Chicago earlier this year.

The major difference between Aisle50 and Groupon’s pilot loyalty card deal in New England is that Aisle50 works with the companies that make the products. It’s more a deal for yogurt than it is a deal for the local supermarket chain. That, and the fact that Groupon recently filed for a $750 million IPO while Aisle50 recently graduated from startup accelerator Y Combinator.

Steiner doesn’t see the potential competition as a deal breaker.

“I dont know that it’s exclusive,” he says. “If I’m a grocery store and I have built the IT for these loyalty card programs and I have the capability to do these kind of deals, it’s to my advantage to run as many popular programs on this card as possible. Because if your competitors don’t have these deals and you do, you are going to capture incremental customers who might be tech savvy.”

Image courtesy of Flickr/Artbandito

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: Aisle50, group buying, y combinator

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Google+ Hangouts Can Now Be Initiated From YouTube

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 07:19 PM PDT

Google has quietly rolled out yet another feature of its Google+ social network: Click on the Share button under any YouTube video to reveal an icon that suggests watching the video with friends in a Google+ hangout.

Google didn’t formally announce this new feature, instead revealing it via product manager Brian Glick on — where else — Google+, where he casually mentioned it like so:

You can now start a Google+ Hangout with a YouTube video, directly from YouTube. Watch with your friends. :)

Just click on “Share” underneath any video, and then click on “Start a Google+ Hangout” in the bottom right-hand corner.

A few weeks ago, YouTube Live product manager Brandon Badge quietly mentioned the upcoming ability to enable hangouts from YouTube with live streaming video, and this must be the first stage of that initiative.

As we mentioned then, it’s been possible to watch videos with friends since the beginning of Google+, through a more complicated manual process that must be initiated in Google+. But this new button allowing you to initiate hangouts from YouTube with a couple of clicks makes it considerably easier.

[via TNW/Google+]

More About: Google, Google Plus, hangouts, trending, youtube

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Takin’ VC Money: Rap Song Is An Anthem For Startups

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 06:07 PM PDT

Takin’ VC Money (Money Cash IPO’s) by Smixx

“To all the startups out there, staying caffeinated, pulling all-nighters, trying to launch something amazing, this song is dedicated to you.” So begins “Takin’ VC Money (Money Cash IPO’s),” a clever new rap song released by music-sharing startup Cardinal.

The rather hilarious track — posted to Soundcloud Thursday by Cardinal co-founder and techie rapper Cory Smith — has the stylings of a typical rap hit, but chronicles some of the highlights of the startup life: raising capital, attracting celebrity attention, 5-Hour Energy binges, getting launch coverage and concerns about pivoting.

The rap song also name drops celebrity investor Ashton Kutcher and venture capitalist Fred Wilson — both took notice and shared the rap with their social audiences. Already, the track is proving an early hit with startup types, amassing more than 7,500 listens in a few hours’ time.

Cardinal, now in beta, is a music-sharing application that connects to Twitter and replaces the music URLs you share from Soundhound, Shazam, Pandora, Spotify and others with a Cardinal link. The Cardinal link then serves up a comprehensive track landing page to visitors.

The rap was released in tandem with the beta launch of Cardinal’s product, and Smith performed it live at the Grow conference in Vancouver.

Have a listen to the track, check out the lyrics below and let us know what you think.

Takin’ VC Money: The Lyrics

this song is dedicated
to all the startups out there
staying caffeinated
pulling all nighters
and trying to launch something amazing

Maybe we can meet up with Ashton Kutcher
see if we agree on some plans for the future
have a drink with Fred Wilson
see if we can sign a deal
or you think Seqouia’s gonna find another 40 mil
It’d be great to secure some investment ends
straight from seeds to 10x dividends
Never complacent, you say exit? we say yes
now we’re in the basement
working with Node.js
While half these other rappers
chase broads
and sip on hennesey
we’re tailing our logs
and drinking 5 hour energy!
3 AM whiteboards and lightbulb moments
this is our time
right now so we should own it
I long for delivering
and its prod we get it in
and we have no problem with the thought of pivoting
we know what our vision is
and we don’t want to waste it
we remain driven so we
continue to chase it

heyo we’re taking VC Money
all we’re tryin’ to do is get some new seed funding yeah
Money Cash & IPO’s
thats how this action goes
heyo we’re taking VC Money
all we’re tryin’ to do is get some new seed funding yeah
Money Cash & IPO’s
thats how this action goes

might as well send a little note over to techcrunch
maybe get an article
thats posted by the next lunch
time to get the word out
we’re ready for beta
limited at first so our servers
don’t crater
yeah we’ve got swag
but its the bad stuff from conferences
you better skip the bag
I’ll just carry my accomplishments
hooked up with Dealmaker
and now we’re live at GROW Conf
prepping for a great night
and hanging at the GROW launch
and tonight you know we’ll brush shoulders // we will brush shoulders
with some angels
not charlies kind
but the ones with the bank rolls
that believe in our team
and also see our market fit
excited by our dream
and they need to be a part of it
if you haven’t heard of us yet
we can flip you our deck
we’ll trade a cheque for convertible debt
I said…if you haven’t heard of us yet
we’ll trade a cheque for convertible debt

heyo we’re taking VC Money
all we’re tryin’ to do is get some new seed funding yeah
Money Cash & IPO’s
thats how this action goes
heyo we’re taking VC Money
all we’re tryin’ to do is get some new seed funding yeah
Money Cash & IPO’s
thats how this action goes

Image courtesy of iStockphoto,cinek20

More About: Cardinal, music, startup

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Nivea Pulls “Re-civilized” Ad Following Social Media Backlash

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 04:53 PM PDT

A Nivea print ad encouraging African-American men to “re-civilize” themselves, now appearing in September’s issue of Esquire magazine, created a firestorm of tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts accusing the brand of racism.

Nivea took to its Facebook Page Thursday afternoon to issue an apology and thank fans for their concern. Parent company Beiersdorf AG withdrew the ad from future publication.

“Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent ‘Re-civilized’ NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive,” Nivea said on Facebook. “It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company.”

The ad in question portrays an African-American man tossing out a mask of himself with a beard and afro-style hairdo. It reads, “Look like you give a damn,” and has the phrase “re-civilize yourself” bolded in all capital letters.

Bloggers, Twitter users and Facebook members took issue with the racial implications of the print ad.

“The message couldn’t be clearer: Natural hair on a black man isn’t a style preference or a nod to afrocentrism — it’s straight-up uncivilized,” GOOD Associate Editor Nona Willis Aronowitz wrote.

“Wonder what, if anything, @Rihanna will say about this as the face of #nivea,” fashion writer Septembre Anderson tweeted. Rihanna was chosen as the official spokeswoman for Nivea earlier this year. The caption on Anderson’s Twitpic photo reads, “Adding Nivea to the list of companies that will not be getting my money. Post-racial my ass.”

A separate ad featuring “a clean-shaven white guy getting ready to toss away his scraggly unshaven head and the words, ‘Sin City isn’t an excuse to look like hell,’” seemed to be overlooked in the midst of the social media uprising, according to AdAge.

Nivea parent company Beiersdorf AG shared the following longer statement with CNN:

“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific local advertisement. After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.

“Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of NIVEA: The brand represents diversity, tolerance, and equal opportunity. We value difference. Direct or indirect discrimination must be ruled out in all decisions by, and in all areas of our activities. This applies regardless of gender, age, race, skin color, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, or disability. Nor should cultural, ethnic, or national origin, and political or philosophical conviction be of any significance.”

Images courtesy of AdAge & GOOD

More About: advertising, Nivea, social media, trending

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TouchPad is the iPad’s First Victim, But Likely Not The Last

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 04:03 PM PDT

Spare a thought for the unlucky customers who purchased a TouchPad. After Thursday’s announcement that HP would be discontinuing support for this and other webOS devices, these users are saddled with a tablet that will never live up to its initial promise.

How many users are we talking about? HP hasn’t broken out sales figures but admitted it “wasn’t close to hitting its targets” — which were, analysts say, 3 to 5 million tablets by year’s end. We know Best Buy sold 25,000 (less than 10% of its inventory), and HP was forced to slash the price by $100.

Even supposing the company has sold 100,000 TouchPads worldwide so far — a generous estimate — that would be an incredibly small number for a device that was launched with a massive advertising campaign from a major manufacturer six weeks ago.

Compare that to the TouchPad’s obvious competitor: 1 million iPads were sold in the first 28 days, and 2 million in the first two months. Now there are about 9 million iPads sold every quarter.

It isn’t just that the TouchPad is a flawed tablet, although clearly it is, or that launching a new tablet is an incredibly costly activity (HP’s webOS division spent $336 million last quarter, most of that on the TouchPad launch).

It’s that the iPad is sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

A survey released Wednesday by equity firm Robert W. Baird, reported by CNET, asked more than 1,100 potential tablet purchasers what devices they were interested in. An overwhelming 94.5% said the iPad. Ironically, the TouchPad was in second place at 10.3%.

So by one measure, at least, the iPad just killed off its biggest competitor. Who’s next? It could be RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, which suffered its own sales setback earlier this month when Sprint announced it would not be selling its planned 4G version of the device. Perhaps Samsung’s ongoing legal battle with Apple, which recently barred the Galaxy Tab from being sold in Europe and delayed its launch in Australia, will lead the Korean manufacturer to focus on more profitable electronics.

More likely, one of the legions of copycat Android tablet makers will throw in the towel first. It would take a brave soul to compete with Apple in the face of such continued consumer rejection of any tablet that isn’t the iPad. It’s starting to look like the tablet wars will be a far shorter affair than expected.

More About: apple, HP, ipad, Touchpad, trending

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Reader’s Digest Now Available for iPad

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 02:34 PM PDT

Reader’s Digest is the latest magazine to arrive in Apple’s App Store.

Beginning with the September issue, existing U.S. print subscribers can get six months of free access to the magazine’s iPad edition [iTunes link] by entering their credentials.

After that, they’ll need to sign up for digital subscription, available for $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year. (Non-print subscribers can also get the digital edition at that price.) Single issues are available for $1.99 apiece.

Reader’s Digest published an experimental version of its February issue for the iPad earlier this year, which was pretty decent as far as iPad versions go — nicely formatted with a few bonus games and polls, etc. This, however, marks the beginning of a regular publishing cycle on the device.

Reader’s Digest North America President Dan Lagani says he hopes to bring more Reader’s Digest brands to the iPad via subscription — both in the U.S. and internationally — in the near future. (Reader’s Digest also publishes magazines such as Every Day With Rachael Ray.) Reader’s Digest is already available on the Kindle, Nook and BlackBerry Playbook, a spokesperson confirmed.

More About: ipad, magazines, media, reader's digest

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Tom Waits & the Cookie Monster Are Musical Twins [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 01:26 PM PDT

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

Tom Waits is said to be releasing his first new material in seven years next week (with any luck, he’ll unveil Wristcutters II). If you find you can’t wait until then, however, one YouTube user has created this epic lip dub of “God’s Away on Business” featuring the Cookie Monster.

Whether or not you think Tom Waits would be this stoked about baked goods, you have to admit, the vocal resemblance is eerie.

More About: cookie monster, music, tom-waits, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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iPad App Replaces Paper Patient Checkin Forms

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 01:24 PM PDT

Electronic health record (EHR) platform Drchrono just released OnPatient, an iPad application that health care providers can now use in lieu of paper forms and clunky clipboards.

The application allows health care providers to customize patient checkin. Patients can then input their personal, demographic and insurance info, snap a profile photo, review medications and allergies, and automatically keep their records updated.

OnPatient [iTunes link] integrates with Drchrono’s existing suite of iPad EHR services specifically intended to help doctors and health care providers modernize their record keeping processes.

“The OnPatient checkin app digitizes the waiting room and eliminates significant barriers to mass adoption of patient checkin technology by leveraging sophisticated iPad technology," says Michael Nusimow, co-founder and CEO of Drchrono. "We designed the OnPatient app to be intuitive for both physicians and patient users to create a better patient checkin experience.”

The new application is ambitious in scope — it would require health providers to start handing out pricey iPads instead of cheaper, more disposable clipboards. However, the promise of a paper-free, up-to-do patient tracking system might be enough to entice wealthier medical practices to make the switch.

Drchrono is announcing Thursday that it raised an additional $650,000 in seed funding from DST Global’s Yuri Milner and General Catalyst. The startup previously raised $675,000 from General Catalyst, Charles River Ventures, 500 Startups and Angel investors.

More About: drchrono, OnPatient, startup

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RIP TouchPad: HP To Shut Down WebOS Operations

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 01:07 PM PDT

After confirming that it is looking into spinning off its PC business, Hewlett-Packard made a more shocking announcement Thursday: it is going to “discontinue operations for webOS devices.” And that’s the end of the line for its just-launched tablet, the HP TouchPad.

HP, the world’s largest computer maker, has had limited success with mobile devices. In April 2010, HP purchased Palm for $1.2 billion, largely because of the potential of the webOS platform.

So HP’s about-face on webOS comes as a surprise, especially coming six weeks after the TouchPad went on sale.

In the press release detailing its preliminary Q3 2011 financial results, the company had this to say:

HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

The webOS-based TouchPad was seen by many (including Mashable) as a real competitor to Apple’s iPad. Our initial review of the device was lukewarm, but the device (and webOS itself) seemed full of potential.

Earlier this week, AllThingsD reported that Best Buy had sold at best just 10% of its TouchPad inventory, leaving more than 225,000 units in warehouses.

In recent weeks, HP has tried to entice customers to the device by dropping the price by $100 — to $400 and $500 for the 16GB and 32GB versions, respectively. Evidently, that wasn’t enough.

Unknown as of this moment: what HP’s timetable is for shutting down webOS operations, or what that means for the current Palm/webOS team. We’ll be listening in to HP’s earnings call this afternoon for more details.

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HOW TO: Manage Social Media Accounts for Multiple Clients

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 12:48 PM PDT

Brian Honigman is a social media account manager at LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics certified partner that also specializes in social media, search engine optimization and PPC. You can follow him on Twitter @LunaMetrics or @Brian_Honigman, and read his blog at

Most brands have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and many other social platforms, not to mention multiple profiles within each service for different store locations, branches, audiences or product lines. As an agency that manages social clients, understanding how to keep these social accounts streamlined and organized is important for the continued success of your projects.

Here are a few tips for keeping the social workflow under control.

Delegate from the Beginning

Your first concern when trying to keep your different accounts organized should be leadership. Without a dedicated project manager delegating to other employees, many details can get "lost in the sauce."

Immediately after the sales team closes a deal, one project manager should be the main decision maker and point-of-contact. High-level social strategy decisions should be the responsibility of that person, while they delegate implementation and welcome strategic suggestions from the team.

Hypothetically, your agency has American Express as its social client. It would be vital to keep the content and engagement consistent throughout each of the client's profiles and social accounts. Leaders on the project may choose to delegate a geographic territory, such the profiles associated with American Express' Asian market, to a specific team. Delegated work flow based on the market or platform helps to lower the chances of cross-pollination and inconsistency across the client's accounts. The disbursement of responsibilities among different employees will help identify problems quickly and avoid confusion.

Organization is Vital

Keep the client's administrative details, usernames, passwords, assets, graphics, essential links, etc. in a unique location for all project contributors to quickly and easily access. Dropbox, Google Docs and Basecamp are helpful tools for this type of online collaboration, helping to keep your entire team on the same page.

Organize a concise editorial content schedule for each client's social accounts. Remember to account for overall strategy and unexpected announcements as well. Plan no more than a month's worth of content ahead of time. In fact, two weeks worth of advanced planning is ideal. Designate when and on what platform content will be tweeted, shared, posted and viewed – timing is crucial to prevent mistakes. However, planning too far ahead of time can hinder post relevance and newsworthiness. It's a delicate balance, but necessary when managing multiple clients across their numerous accounts.

Management Tools

Dedicated leadership and organization can only go so far when helping manage a client, especially one with a robust social media following. Social management requires additional tools to keep track of brand mentions, ensure continued engagement, and connect branded accounts with brand advocates. Here are three useful tools to consider:

Monitoring Brand Mentions

The size of your agency and its resources will help determine which of the many social media monitoring tools fits bests. Enterprise level agencies might try Sysomos, a tool that determines brand discussion and engagement by keyword. Associate particular clients to keywords, and then monitor the resulting groups. This way you can focus on tracking the activity and buzz around certain key phrases.

Google Alerts is another tool well-suited for all sized firms – especially because it's free. Google Alerts logs new content based on infinite keyword variations. The service sends alerts to your account whenever your specific key phrases are mentioned on the web. Alerts gather insights from bloggers, forums, public social profiles and other websites. They can be especially helpful when that content relates to your clients. Register separate email accounts for each client's alerts. For instance, set for one client and for another – the designation will help keep your alert system organized.

Keeping Track of Engagement

Being responsible for dozens of social media accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers can appear overwhelming, especially when you attempt to engage with every wall post, comment and retweet. A social media management tool like HootSuite can help ensure that your team doesn't miss a single chance for fan engagement. For example, if a Facebook wall post or a tweet needs a response, managers can assign a particular team member to answer that content. Once the team member engages with that post, a "replied" notification appears in the HootSuite interface.

Connecting Brand Advocates with your Brand

Twitter's Advanced Search is a wonderful way to search the Twitter universe for brand mentions, even if a user hasn't specifically @mentioned your client. Let's use the Bacardi brand as an example. Most of the first-page results for "Bacardi" aren't linked to their account, but the brand is still mentioned in many other tweets. Reach out to these newly discovered brand advocates, and follow interested customers for future conversations. Go out of your way to find and organize brand mouthpieces across your various accounts, and engage them to foster activity around your clients' accounts.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, scanrail.

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Google+ Updates: Now Appearing in Your Email Signature

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable’s Pete Cashmore for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as social media and technology updates.

Email signature startup WiseStamp has enhanced its Chrome and Firefox extensions Thursday with an email application for Google Plus.

The G+ email application will let you include your latest Google+ status update in your email signature. Your email recipients can then view your update and add you to their Circles directly from the message.

The Google+ update was included in the version 2.7.1 release of WiseStamp. Chrome users can instantly install the new email application. Firefox users will need to do a manual upgrade, pending approval of the release.

WiseStamp offers email senders a wide selection of social applications to spice up their personal and professional signatures. The startup’s interactive and social signature tool has appeared in more than 207,000,000 sent emails.

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How Connected Devices and Streaming Video Are Changing the Way We Consume Content

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 11:54 AM PDT

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

These days, it’s increasingly difficult to find a new consumer electronic device that can’t access the Internet. From TVs to tablets, refrigerators to ovens (even washing machines!), connected devices aren’t just a buzzword, they are becoming the standard.

When we define connected devices, we’re really talking about devices that have built-in connections to the Internet and use those connections to offer content, information or experiences to users. While practically any gadget or device can be connected (again, see the tweeting refrigerator), the term is most often used to describe consumer electronics that augment or replace the more traditional methods of delivering video content.

When paired with new types of content delivery systems, connected devices, particularly in the connected TV space, are disrupting and changing the ways that we access, interact with and consume content.

Types of Connected Devices

Because the connected device space is often heavily linked to the connected TV space (that is, television sets that can access the Internet or serve content streamed over the Internet rather than through a traditional set-top box or old-school antenna).

The most common types of connected devices are:

Blu-ray Players: Even as disc-based media falls out of favor with consumers, the market for Blu-ray players continues to grow. Why? Because oftentimes, a Blu-ray player is the least expensive way to get Internet content delivered to the living room.

By design, modern Blu-ray players require access to the Internet to play certain types of discs and access BD-Live content. With the exception of a few ultra high-end or ultra low-end players, practically every Blu-ray player on the market comes with built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to the Internet (low-end and high-end devices have ethernet).

Additionally, it’s almost impossible to find a Blu-ray player in the United States that doesn’t support Netflix streaming, and most players support a variety of subscription streaming services.

HDTVs: It’s not just Blu-ray players that have gone connected — modern HDTVs are increasingly shipping with built-in Internet or Wi-Fi connectivity too. Like Blu-ray players, lots of HDTV sets support services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Additionally, most major TV manufacturers, including Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, LG, Sharp and Vizio offer some additional ability to access web content and social networks, usually using a customized interface unique to the manufacturer. Some TVs even offer full web browsers and include remote controls optimized for text entry.

Game Consoles: More than just playing games, video game consoles also double as connected devices. Netflix is available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 and PS3 users can also access Hulu Plus content. Moreover, an increasing number of content streaming services are making their way to the game console.

Just this week, we reported that DirecTV has signed a deal to let PS3 owners subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, no DirecTV subscription required. More sports leagues and content distributors are looking at ways to offer over-the-top access (meaning access directly over the Internet, not through a cable box) directly to game consoles.

Tablets: Thanks to the iPad (and almost singularly the iPad), the connected device movement has gone personal. Sure, some types of online content are accessible from a smartphone or personal media player like the iPod touch, but the iPad has really opened up the floodgates for connected content opportunities.

Not only do most subscription streaming services work with tablets like the iPad, content creators and cable companies alike are lining up to support the device. Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable all have apps that allow users to access on-demand (and in some cases, live) content from the iPad. In Cablevision’s case, the iPad actually acts as a fully-fledged cable box.

Meanwhile, content creators like CNN, ESPN and HBO are also working with cable companies to offer subscribers live streaming or full content access via the iPad.

Set-top Boxes: Set-top boxes like the Apple TV, Roku and the Boxee Box all offer users a way to access online content — subscription or a la carte — from the living room.

Using Apple’s AirPlay technology, the Apple TV can also act as an iPad or iPhone receiver, for playing back video from within iOS apps or websites. Boxee recently released an iPad app that offers the same sort of functionality with the Boxee Box.

Cable Box: Don’t count out the venerable cable box completely. Although most U.S. cable providers haven’t shifted to an IPTV approach, in Europe and Asia, the cable box is often the ultimate connected device.

At CES 2011, we saw a demo of a cable system already available in France (for the equivalent of about $35 a month, including Internet access) that not only offered programming, but access to the web, social media integration and online games. Cable companies are feeling the squeeze from subscription streaming services and are looking to up the value of their services. Don’t count out the potential of TV Everywhere and related initiatives.

Services and Implementations

Not all connected devices and options are the same. Let’s look at some of the most common ways connected devices can provide content to users.

Media Streaming Services: The success of Netflix has turned not only the rental industry on its head, but it has changed the way we consume content. Media streaming services, either subscription or a la carte, are impacting the industry in a big way. Netflix is the big leader here, but Amazon is making rapid investments in its own Instant Video offerings.

TV Everywhere: The idea behind TV Everywhere is that if you subscribe to cable or satellite TV, you will be able to access that content from anywhere — your phone, your iPad, your laptop. It’s an awesome idea, especially if taken to its natural conclusion.

TV Everywhere is the biggest competitor to the streaming service market, because the goal would be for cable companies or ISPs to bundle together channels and services in one offering, rather than consumers opting for a service like Hulu Plus or Netflix.

Second Screen Apps: Second screen apps are already shaping up to be one of the biggest trends going into the fall TV season. These apps are not designed to deliver traditional content — like a TV show or a movie — but instead are designed to bring a layer of social connectivity to the viewing experience.

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy iPad app and USA’s second screen app for Psych are two examples of weekly shows that have looked to utilize this sort of experience. Award shows like the Oscars are also embracing the ability to connect with user in a social way.

A More Connected Future

With consumers really responding to connected devices — particularly when it comes to accessing content — the trends moving forward will be focused on more connectivity, not less.

The big challenges facing the industry — as well as consumers — is differentiating between the various platforms and systems.

Let us know your thoughts on connected devices and the connected TV revolution in the comments.

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

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Do Authorities Have the Right To Disconnect Wireless Service? [OPEN THREAD]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 11:42 AM PDT


San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cut off cell service at four stations last Thursday, hoping to quell potential protesters. Protest organizers had announced they would coordinate efforts via mobile devices, much like rioters in London last week communicated through BlackBerry Messenger.

The BART police defended their action as a necessary measure to protect the safety of commuters on the train platform.

In June, however, the United Nations declared access to the Internet a human right and that disconnecting service is a violation of international law. This distinction gets far muddier when that access could be used for planned criminal or dangerous behavior, as BART claimed the protests could become.

Grassroots protest and demonstrations are on the rise from Athens to London, Tel Aviv to San Francisco and China to Madrid. In all cases, mobile technology is playing a key role in organizing and spreading the message. So here’s what we want you to discuss:

Do cities have the right to disrupt wireless service to prevent illegal or violent activity?

Let us know in the comments if you think it’s a violation of human rights or a necessary safety precaution.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ManuelVelasco

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Evernote Acquires Image Editor Skitch, Makes It Free, Adds Android Version

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 11:15 AM PDT

Evernote has snapped up the best-selling collaborative image editor Skitch in the first of what CEO Phil Libin says is a series of acquisitions over the next few months.

The app, which allows you to share and annotate photos, will now be available for free in the Mac app store and in a new Android version. Libin says iPad and iPhone versions are in the works. He calls Skitch “the most natural way you work on something back and forth with a teammate.” The app is commonly used to take screenshots, share them, and add circles, arrows and captions.

The two apps will be more tightly integrated in the future, Libin says. In the Android version — now available in the Marketplace — tapping the Evernote icon in Skitch will immediately share the current photo between the apps. “Not only will we be able to significantly broaden the reach of their product, but we will also greatly improve our own capabilities,” Libin said. “The roots of our company are in handwriting recognition, and all that stuff is going into Skitch.”

Skitch will remain free as-is, but Libin says he plans to add new functionality for Evernote’s premium subscribers. And that’s the same business model he plans to adopt for the other couple of Evernote acquisitions, which will be announced before the end of the year. Those as-yet-unnamed products will be available for free.

The announcement came at Evernote’s first annual Trunk Conference in San Francisco, where the company also announced a number of updates to its main product. The iPad version has had a complete overhaul, and the Mac version has a new look for OS X Lion. Numerous frequently requested features have been added, such as rich-text editing and a passcode within the app.

This isn’t the first time Evernote and Skitch have been linked. In 2008, the then-nascent Evernote made a video about how much they loved the Mac app:

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Foursquare: Now You Can Check Into Events

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 11:10 AM PDT

Foursquare is launching a feature that allows users to check into events — thus making a standard Foursquare behavior official.

“It's one of the most common checkins on Foursquare: you head off to a movie theater, check in, and type in 'Harry Potter' to tell people what you're seeing. Or check in to a stadium and shout 'Patriots game' or 'Lady Gaga concert,’” the company wrote in a blog post. “In moments like this, a place is often more than just a place; so today, we're starting to pull major events into our database.”

Unlike Facebook, which launched its event-check-in feature in April, Foursquare is not a platform where people frequently input their own gatherings. So the company turned to its partners to provide the information about when and where events are happening.

Preliminary events will include those in databases provided by ESPN,, and music site Songkick. Combined, these events will take place in more than 50,000 venues in the next few months.

The feature is already live on the iPhone, and Foursquare says it will debut on other platforms soon.

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IBM Plans To Create Chips That Work Like the Human Brain

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:59 AM PDT

IBM announced Thursday that it has received $21 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a series of experimental computer chips designed to replicate the human brain’s perceptive, active and cognitive abilities.

According to IBM, the “neurosynaptic” chips “recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry” — meaning that they can be used to build complex, multi-sensory learning systems (“cognitive computers”) that behave more like human brains than calculators.

These computers will be able to learn through experiences, detect patterns and develop hypotheses, as well as remember and learn from the outcomes.

IBM and its partners even think the computers will be able to rival the brain’s compact size and relatively low power usage. The team’s long-term goal is to build a system with 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses that is less than two liters in volume and consumes merely one kilowatt of power. To do so, they’ll need to abandon traditional Von Neumann architecture in favor of more efficient architecture that does away with set programming and integrates memory and processors.

The chips will be particularly advantageous in processing and reacting to information from multiple sensory modes in real time. IBM describes two potential use cases, one in which a system monitoring the world’s water supply could record and report metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide, and issue tsunami warnings based on its decision making; and another in which a grocer stocking shelves could use an instrumented glove that monitors sights, smells, texture and temperature to flag bad or contaminated produce.

"This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century," observes Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research. "Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture. These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems.”

To learn more, watch IBM researchers John Arthur and Paul Merolla describe the inspiration for the project (called “SyNAPSE”) below, and/or check out

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HP May Spin Off Consumer PC Business & Make $10B Software Acquisition

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:49 AM PDT

Hewlett-Packard is planning to spin off its PC business and buy Autonomy, the second largest pure-play software company in Europe, for $10 billion, according to a report.

HP is planning to make the announcement as early as Thursday, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the company’s plans. HP released a statement confirming that it’s in discussions with Autonomy regarding a possible offer and that it has “authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives” for its Personal Systems Group, including spinning it off.

Although HP is credited with introducing the first mass-produced PC in 1968, the Hewlett-Packard 9100A “desktop calculator,” the company didn’t enter the consumer PC market until the mid-1990s. HP solidified its position in the PC market in 2002 with the $25 billion purchase of then-rival Compaq. But in the past couple of years, consumer PC sales have slowed down and have been a drag on growth. And evidence is mounting that sales of HP’s would-be iPad competitor, the TouchPad, are disappointing.

The move would represent a major shift in strategy for HP. Autonomy, a British enterprise software firm known for “meaning-based computing,” dabbles in artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

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Can Google+ Challenge Facebook for Social Gaming Dominance? [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:39 AM PDT

Technology expert Scott Steinberg is the CEO of high-tech consulting firm TechSavvy Global, and a frequent keynote speaker and media analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN who's covered the field for 400+ outlets from NPR to Rolling Stone. A celebrated author and entrepreneur, he also hosts video series Gear Up and Game Theory, hailed as "the smartest take on the video game industry."

Google has ignited a firestorm of interest in the social gaming space following its announcement that social network Google+ will play host to a variety of new video game experiences. But the question remains: Can the online search giant's latest foray into social networking, despite being the fastest-growing service of its kind, give Facebook and its massive online arcade a run for the money? Based on initial selections such as Angry Birds and Bejeweled Blitz, we wouldn't bet our PayPal account on it, but then again, looks can be deceiving.

In the latest episode of new technology video series Tech Industry Insider, we examine the space pioneered by companies like Zynga, Playdom and Crowdstar to see if there's room for more than one Internet titan to play. Google's determined to break Facebook's stranglehold on the social games market by undercutting its rival on fees to game developers, but what's in it form them? And will the gamble pay off? As we reveal in the video above, the answers may surprise you. Tune in to find out what the future of social games has in store.

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YouTube Relaunches Music Page With Deeper Curation

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:06 AM PDT

It’s common knowledge that a good portion of the population listens to music on YouTube. It’s free, easy to search and has pretty much everything. Well, now YouTube is aiming to make the experience easier for users on the hunt for new jams by relaunching its Music Page.

YouTubers are now privy to a cadre of features, including: 1). Recommended videos and artists based on your viewing history (instead of top videos in the genre), 2). Local concert listings paired with artist vids (listings were previously offered, but now feature video previews) 3). YouTube’s new music chart, the YouTube Top 100, and, perhaps most intriguing, another level of curation in the form of tastemaker partnerships. YouTube has linked up with Spin, Vice, XLR8R and some of its top music vloggers (Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop for one) to create playlists and offer up picks.

To celebrate the new page, YouTube is featuring an electric guitar in its logo — a tribute to the “Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Guide to Rock,” the first curated playlist on the page. (The Chili Peppers dropped their first video from their latest album I’m With You Wednesday.) Other artists will soon unleash their own guides, including “David Guetta's Guide to Electronica” on Friday, “Lady Gaga's Guide to Pop” on Saturday and “Eminem & Royce Da 5'9"'s Guide to Hiphop” on Monday.

Last summer, YouTube Music underwent a similar transformation, which promised many of these new features. However, this time around the redesign seems much more complete and polished. What do you think of the new digs?

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Google Maps Can Now Show You Weather Conditions

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 09:50 AM PDT

Google has updated Google Maps with a weather layer that provides users with current weather conditions and five day forecasts for locales all around the world.

Maps users who enable the new weather layer — accessible from the upper right corner of Google Maps — will see weather temperatures and conditions, as denoted by cloud and rain icons, when zoomed out. Users can zoom in or click on a weather icon to get a more detailed report for a specific area.

Google Maps’ weather reports are sourced from, and the U.S. Naval Research Lab is powering the feature that shows cloud coverage on the map.

Google sees the addition of weather to its Maps product as a handy tool that should help users better plan trips or check in on the weather conditions where their friends and family are located. The timing of the release comes one week after a partnership between The Weather Channel and Twitter.

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iOS App Lets You Learn the Drums by Banging Everyday Objects

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 09:35 AM PDT

As any aspiring drummer can tell you, it’s really hard to learn how to play if you don’t have a drumkit. Hitting pillows and books just doesn’t elicit the same satisfaction as whaling on toms and cymbals. Luckily, there’s an app for that.

TableDrum [iTunes link] is an iOS app that lets users play the drums, via their device. Other drumming apps may require you to tap the screen in order to paradiddle and whatnot, in no way replicating the actual experience of drumming. But TableDrum lets you play drums on everyday objects around the room. Simply download the app and sync up the digital kit to everyday sounds (press down on drums in the kit and repeat the sound until the app gets it). And, voila, you have a much better learning aid than a bunch of cushions and dictionaries.

Granted, this experience has a few bugs yet, and won’t really come close to having a real drumkit. (And if you don’t have an iPad, a lot of electronic kits cost about the same as a tablet.) But it’s definitely a fun way to hone your drumming skills while you’re saving your pennies.

[via Gizmodo]

Image courtesy of Flickr, kaktuslampan

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3 Tips for Teachers Using Social Media in the Classroom

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 09:05 AM PDT

students image

Dan Klamm is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Syracuse University Career Services, where he leads social media engagement. Connect with him on Twitter @DanKlamm and @CareerSU.

Social media opens up all new avenues of communication for college students, their classmates and their professors. A typical class may only take a few hours a week, but now with social media, the classroom can be a lively, 24/7 experience. Professors are more accessible, often clarifying assignments via Twitter or sharing content on their blogs.

Students benefit from these extra communication channels. They can process information and contribute to class discussions at their own pace. They can more easily ask questions of their peers and professors.

This new layer of conversation also raises questions about appropriate boundaries, such as whether students and teachers can connect online as “friends.” The state of Missouri recently took a stand, declaring Facebook friendships between students and teachers illegal.

But that shouldn’t discourage the opportunities presented by social media in the classroom. Here are some guidelines for educators using social media effectively while maintaining professional boundaries.

1. Survey Your Students About Social Media

Ask your students how they use various social platforms and which ones (if any) they would be interested in integrating into class. Some students may be ardently opposed to using Facebook for educational purposes, for example, while others might think it’s great. Suggest possibilities, such as adding a Twitter backchannel to classroom discussions or holding extra office hours on Google+ two evenings per week. See which ideas stick and think about which ideas align with your course objectives.

Social media is a way to enhance student learning and grow discussions. For this reason, it’s important that students feel comfortable with whatever social media you decide to integrate into the course. If they don’t buy-in, the experience will not be as rewarding for them or for you.

2. Utilize Groups and Communities

Take advantage of the many options that exist for group discussion. With Facebook, you can establish a class page (or even a private class group) where students can interact with each other, post content and ask questions. With Twitter, you can create a "class hashtag" which all students can use to tag their tweets about course-related content.

Also consider Ning groups, and other niche community platforms. The goal is to get students communicating with other students and with the professor without having to follow or friend anyone. This allows students to reap the benefits of engaging with the class community but does not force them to share their private profiles and digital lives with every class they join.

Keep your communication with students in the official group or page designated to the class. The last thing a student wants is a professor intruding on his or her personal Facebook wall to announce that an assignment is late. Likewise, if you follow students on Twitter, use your judgment in commenting on their personal tweets. Keeping class interactions in transparent groups will also quash any appearance of impropriety or inappropriate student/professor relationships.

3. Establish Clearly Communicated Boundaries

Once you decide how you’ll be using social media, let your students know the boundaries of how they should engage with you. For example, some teachers will welcome retweets or friend requests, while others might prefer privacy. This will reduce the chances for hurt feelings or misunderstandings down the line. You can even use this as an opportunity to educate students on the importance of being aware of one’s privacy settings and their implications for one’s career.

This also involves setting boundaries for yourself on what is appropriate to express on your social networking profiles. If you encourage students to follow your tweets, for instance, you should more carefully consider what kind of messages you post. Be prepared for students to form perceptions of you based on what you say (or don't say) via social media.

By some estimates, more than 80% of college professors use social media in some way. As more and more educators venture into the world of online technology, new and innovative possibilities will emerge. By being mindful of your students' comfort levels, encouraging group discussion on official class pages and being clear about your boundaries, you will create lively and extremely useful communication channels for your students.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Bard College at Simon’s Rock

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Stephen Colbert’s Head Launched Into Space by 3D Printer Maker [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 08:53 AM PDT

Parlaying a spot on The Colbert Report into YouTube viral fame, MakerBot Industries, a 3D printer maker, has sent a model of Stephen Colbert’s head into space.

In a Mythbusters-like segment, MakerBot marketing manager Keith Ozar and resident artist Jonathan Monaghan rig a flipcam and a GPS-enabled phone to a weather balloon, which propels a likeness of Colbert’s head into the stratosphere.

The video — posted Tuesday morning and viewed more than 25,000 views so far — came after CEO Bre Pettis appeared on The Colbert Report, where he showed off a bust of Colbert’s head in June.

MakerBot has experimented with YouTube in the past: On April Fools’, the company released a video claiming its 3D printers could make vinyl records (they can’t). Pettis’s YouTube Channel, meanwhile, has racked up more than 400,000 views.

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