Saturday, 27 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “This Week in Politics & Digital: Super Committees & Fake Followers”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “This Week in Politics & Digital: Super Committees & Fake Followers”


This Week in Politics & Digital: Super Committees & Fake Followers

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 09:14 PM PDT

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The dust has finally settled around the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, the latest barometer on which Republican will go head-to-head with President Barack Obama. In the brief lull, the country is still coming to terms with its financial woes and the repercussions of the debt downgrade.

This week we take a look at the debt super-committee’s digital plans and find out if Newt Gingrich has any human fans. We’ve even got some mobile apps to let you mess around with President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush. This is the Week in Politics & Digital.


Debt Super Committee to Launch Crowdsourcing Website

white house image

Earlier this month, the U.S. government voted to raise the debt ceiling, thereby preventing the country from defaulting on its increasing debt. That decision, however, only forestalled the more serious act of massively reducing the budget.

Sensing that mass bickering between the aisles wasn’t going to work, the White House created a bipartisan “Super Committee” to hammer out the difficult details. Although the group is yet to meet, co-chairs Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R.-Texas, said they are busy both assembling the team and planning a website to gather public input on how best to cut the budget, reported the LA Times.

The Super Committee only has until November 23 to recommend a plan to cut $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The plan will then go to Congress for a vote by December 23.

Gingrich’s Followers are Not All Robots

Despite skepticism thrown on former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for supposedly boosting his Twitter followers with fake accounts, an exclusive study for Mashable has vindicated Gingrich.

Gingrich claimed the large amount of inactive followers was due to his brief stint on Twitter’s “Suggested User List.” We asked Topsy, a social media search company, to go through the followers of every politician on the List to determine if Gingrich’s claim was verifiable. Well, the results show all the politicians on the List have similar numbers of inactive or fake-looking accounts.

"The followers of SUL politicians are not very active on Twitter," says Rishab Ghosh, co-founder of Topsy. "Between 74% and 90% of their followers haven't tweeted in the past month, and 30% to 41% have never tweeted at all."

Gingrich’s users may still be inactive but there’s now little evidence that he bought or artificially boosted his numbers.

Talk Like a President

You can finally make President Obama or President Bush say whatever you want, thanks to two free apps from iSpeech. The text-to-speech company also has a speech-to-speech version that costs $2.99.

Whether you wish Obama was tougher on his critics or just wish the President could record your voicemail, you now can literally put your words into his, or Bush’s, mouth.

Image courtesy of Flickr, jeannerene, Francisco Diez, Gage Skidmore

More About: economy, Politics, Social Media, week in digital politics

For more Social Media coverage:


New Social Media Analytics Tool Compares Engagement Across Competitor Profiles

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 08:58 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.

stethoscope imageName: SimplyMeasured

Quick Pitch: SimplyMeasured’s competitive analysis tool compares engagement across competitors’ social media profiles.

Genius Idea: Giving context to social media engagement numbers.


Most social media analytics tools will measure how a profile’s fan base has changed and what percentage of those people are actively interacting with it. Most also give some indication as to what “share of voice” a brand has among its competitors in the conversation that’s pinging around social networks.

But to invoke the Double Rainbow guy, “What does it mean?”

A new tool from startup social media analytics company SimplyMeasured attempts to add some context to the numbers by showing customers how their pages stack up to those of their competitors.

“I think a lot of agencies and brands are sending these metrics up the chain: ‘Engagement is really important and we’ve got all this engagement, we have a million fans and 10% of those engaged with us,’” CEO Adam Schoenfeld says. “And the CEO or executive is saying, what does that mean? how big is that?”

With the new tool, it’s easy to make a comparison such as “that’s twice the amount of engagement our closest competitor has.” It’s also easy to learn from competitors’ pages by looking at what type of posts have returned the most responses for them. A post-by-post breakdown comes packaged with handy charts in an excel sheet.

SimplyMeasured is giving away a Facebook-only version its product, which it calls, a “Compete for social media.” Users need only enter the URLs that they’d like to compare in order to receive a report. A more complex version of the tool that includes Twitter comparative analysis, and will soon include YouTube comparative analysis, is packaged with SimplyMeasured’s general social media analysis tool. Plans for that tool start at $500 per month.

We featured some screenshots of the freebie tool in the gallery below. Take a look and let us know in the comments whether you would find it useful for putting social media stats into perspective.





























Image courtesy of iStockphoto, morganl


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, simplymeasured, Social Media, social media analytics

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Touchanote Brings Evernote to Life With NFC Tags [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 07:13 PM PDT

Mix an edgy consumer NFC idea with $55,000 in prize winnings and the support of Evernote’s fast-growing & well-financed platform, and you might have a soapbox stand tall enough to capture the world’s attention.

This is the position that startup Touchanote finds itself in after winning Evernote’s developer competition.

Founder Hamid Zaidi wowed attendees and judges at the Evernote Trunk Conference with an Android application that stores links to Evernote content on physical NFC tags (see above). Create a link to an Evernote note and slap an NFC tag on any object you’d like. Then, simply touch your device to the tag to open your note.

Touchanote, says Zaidi, who spoke with Mashable in an exclusive post-win interview, proffers a right-here, right-now consumer use case for NFC technology.

Much ado is being made about NFC-enabled payments, but the infrastructure and business adoption required to support payments is likely still two years out, he says. “Meanwhile, millions of lonely NFC phone users out there are excited to use the technology now,” says Zaidi. “We want to be the face for the consumer-driven NFC market.”

Touchanote is like a backup disk for your brain: Evernote serves as the memory bank and NFC markers make for physical placeholders that route you back to important information. Instructions or passwords stored on tags stuck on associated objects make for practical use cases. Tags on photo frames, however, could call up more memories in digital photo form.

The application connects the digital and physical realms in a way that brings Evernote CEO Phil Libin’s vision of a “trusted second brain for all your lifetime memories” to fruition.

Touchanote has received an encouraging post-victory reception. The application launched on the Android store last Thursday and users have already ordered 500 tags — tags are sold in 1, 10 and 25 batches for $3, $10 and $20 respectively.

The startups biggest challenge, says Zaidi, will be to meet demand with enough tags, which are supplied by a third-party manufacturer. He doesn’t seem to the think that the lack of NFC-enabled devices for sale will work against the company.

“This is a tangible market that people have disregarded,” he says, citing a forecast that more than 40 million NFC phones will ship this year. “I think that is a huge and blank canvas.”

More About: evernote, nfc, Touchanote

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Twitter Boasts That It’s Faster Than Earthquakes [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 06:16 PM PDT

Twitter has released a short promotional video that touts that it’s faster than an earthquake.

The 47-second short notes draws attention to the fact that Twitter messages hit New York City before Virginia’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake had a chance to reach the Big Apple. The man in the video, warned of the quake via Twitter, picks up his mug before the quake strikes. He easily ignores the Twitter pillows and napkins being thrown at him.

The quake, which caused minimal damage, has been the subject of countless social media jokes. We expect that some will find the video insensitive, while others will laugh at the video’s whimsical nature.

At the very least, we agree with the video: Twitter is faster than earthquakes. Check out the video above and let us know what you think of the social media service’s video in the comments.

More About: twitter, youtube

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Why QR Codes Are Here to Stay [OPINION]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 05:49 PM PDT


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

Hamilton Chan is CEO and founder of Paperlinks. With the free Paperlinks iPhone app, featured previously by Apple as the #1 New & Noteworthy app, consumers can scan and view QR code content with a native app experience. Paperlinks also provides a powerful platform for generating QR codes, hosting content and tracking their performance.

If you raise the subject of QR codes among tech early adopters, you are likely to elicit a passionate response. Some people think QR codes, those scanable black and white squares on everything from billboards to product packaging, are on an unstoppable growth trajectory, while skeptics are quick to dismiss them as a fad.

This reaction is common whenever new technology formats or standards are being decided upon. Pundits want to exhibit their knack for predicting the future and stakeholders (of which I am undeniably one) want to make sure their format wins out. The general public, meanwhile, tends to lay in wait for a particular format to show dominance.

QR codes, in particular, make great fodder for debate because the codes are inherently big and ugly. So far, they have not experienced the same popularity in North America as they have enjoyed abroad, in part because many consumers are still getting used to seeing these codes and figuring out what to do with them.

In my opinion, there is little question that these real-world hyperlinks are increasingly going to be part of our reality and everyday life. Although QR codes won't be the only technological option for hyperlinking in the real world, I believe they'll soon be recognized as one of the best-suited options to connect items in the physical world to the Internet.


Why Real World Hyperlinking Is on the Rise


If there is one thing that can be counted on in our technological future, it's that information will continue to become more widespread, available and relevant. The Internet will expand from a network of computers to a network of everything, with interactivity pre-programmed into nearly every object we use.

There’s no doubt that QR code traction in the U.S. is on the rise. Evidence has been shown in a number of recent market reports, including a study by Mobio Technologies Inc., which reported a 9,840% increase in QR code use for the second quarter of 2011 (compared to the same time last year).

Even a recent annual report from Gartner, a market research firm, puts QR codes on the "slope of enlightenment" when it comes to mainstream adoption of the technology. Further adding to the evidence, comScore reported that in June of this year, more than 14 million Americans scanned a QR code, representing more than 6% of the U.S. mobile population.

It may take some time before we switch to scanning objects for information, but this direct relationship between an object's online persona and the consumer will ultimately make life easier. Run out of razor blades for your shaver? Scan a real world hyperlink on your can of shaving cream and order more blades.


What Skeptics are Saying


Despite the mounting evidence that QR codes are here to stay, many skeptics still believe this technology is no more than a shiny new marketing tool with no future. These are the three arguments I’ve seen repeatedly:

  • QR Codes are just a transient technology: It's true that there are many alternatives to QR codes and, as our world increasingly becomes interconnected, there will be a variety of technology options for businesses to choose from. This assumes that one technology will take over the market. It’s more likely that a suite of options will be available to businesses and marketers seeking to leverage the mobile web. Different applications will demand different technologies, and no single hyperlinking technology will be suitable for every marketing application. The main advantages of the QR code are cost, simplicity and ease of implementation. QR codes provide no incremental cost to an agency already printing or selling ads. QR codes, however, deliver greater engagement, quantifiability and potential mobile commerce opportunities. Alternate technology options (such as Near Field Communication chips) are still a ways off from being as widespread and accessible as QR codes.
  • More work with little to no payback: Yes, in order to read a QR code, consumers first need to be able to identify what a QR code is and how it works. They then need to download a QR reader app, if they do not already have one, in order to read the code. Once the code is scanned, however, the potential payback for consumers is vast and limited only by one's imagination. Whether it's access to exclusive content, deals, promotions or discounts, companies have a number of options to reward their consumers for scanning.
  • It doesn't solve consumer problems: There are two types of technological innovations: Those that solve consumer pain points in an existing market and those that provide an entirely new approach toward everyday life. QR codes are a new approach that ultimately simplifies the way mobile users can get information. While it’s just as simple to look up information on the mobile web, savvy businesses are realizing that one of the main benefits of a QR code campaign is to provide their mobile customers with instantaneous access to something that is unique and can't be accessed in another way.

Conclusion


Whether you are a fan or critic of QR codes, one thing is certain: Real world hyperlinks are here to stay. QR codes are just one of the many linking possibilities, but they are popping up everywhere – across all verticals and businesses of all sizes. The popularity of QR codes will continue to gain momentum. Moving forward, the catalyst for their success will ultimately lie in the creative ways they are implemented.

Marketers have the ability to reach their mobile customer base in a way that wasn't possible before. They need to reward consumers for helping blaze this new trail. The results will be captivating.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, youngvet

More About: business, Mobile 2.0, Opinion, qr, qr code, Tech

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Interact with Lil Wayne’s New Video with Your iPhone [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 04:58 PM PDT


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

Music app Shazam has teamed up with Vevo to create a special Shazam for TV-enhanced version of Lil Wayne’s new video, How to Love.

Shazam recently raised $32 million to expand its efforts in creating interactive ads for television content. Weezy’s new video, How to Love, is the first music video that will incorporate Shazam for TV.

Users can use the Shazam app while watching the video on YouTube or Vevo to get access to Weezy’s discography, buy a digital copy of the single and enter a contest to see Lil Wayne in concert. Plus, users can also watch the video on their iPhone or Android devices after they open the tag.

Music videos are an interesting place for Shazam for TV to set its sights. It’s also unique, in this case, that the Shazam experience can be activated through Vevo, where presumably users are watching content online.

We’re fans of the technique and we also dig the video. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: lil wayne, shazam, viral-video-of-day

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5 Tips for Sparking a Grassroots Movement Online

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 04:24 PM PDT

grassroots image

Anne Driscoll is the vice president of business operations at Ning, where she is responsible for marketing, communications, creative services and human resources. Prior to joining Ning, Anne led communications and brand initiatives at Google.

“Social action” comes easy to those who understand the value of service, helping others and devoting themselves to making the world a better place despite challenges. The trick is turning that personal motivation into a widespread and impactful movement. Grassroots communities are a way to get actionable success even with limited budgets and resources.

On such organization, Amplifying Education, is an initiative focused on creating a safe space for students to collaborate and share, inspire others to act, build connections around a cause and start conversations to drive momentum. In just three months, the organization called on a grassroots community to collect 6,238 books for New Orleans schools and help raise more than $250,000 for education programs including Teach For America and City Year Denver.

It’s further proof that you don't have to be a millionaire to have an impact. It's easier than ever to take an idea and ignite a movement. Thousands and thousands of people are leveraging the power of community through social websites to create grassroots support. Here are five tips for sparking your own grassroots movement online.


1. Don't Raise an Issue, Tell a story


Many of us might start an issue-based campaign by talking about the goal. However, people are drawn in by the story. Build an emotional connection with your audience by sharing a true story of a real person's life and struggle.

Simply combining facts and emotions into a powerful narrative conveys far more than a 40-page proposal. Through storytelling, you make a human connection between your audience and the cause.


2. Reward Your Supporters


A story may secure a one-time donation, sell cookies or land a Facebook "Like," but you need to recruit a passionate group of volunteers to make a cause sustainable and scalable. We're all constantly bombarded with requests to help, so a solid reason to participate is essential to get an initial connection to your cause.

Creating a sustainable program builds momentum and promotes growth. A campaign can ensure that volunteers become a bigger part of the story and its success with each action by rewarding people for their participation.

Getting to know your audience helps you build a compelling activity they'll want to join and support. A grassroots movement is about building something self-sustaining. Enable and reward your biggest evangelists to increase their participation. They will in turn help you create momentum and spread your message.


3. Amplify your Message


Create an army of evangelists who will tell your story, spread the message and influence their social graphs. The social web helps you get in front of a massive audience but a dedicated community lets you spread the message with even greater reach and influence.

Build awareness for your cause or campaign across the social web using any social network you can, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Make it easy for your advocates to promote your cause with predefined hashtags and shareable content.

Build a campaign hub where you can broadcast online actions which your supporters can then share on their social graphs. Building this hub is like creating a "virtual campaign office" where you can communicate to all your volunteers at once, helping them drive your messages and build momentum for the cause.


4. Remove Barriers to Participation


Letting people participate on their own terms helps build a base of support. Participation comes in many forms, and every dollar, "Like" or signature will push your cause forward. Understanding how different people are motivated will broaden the appeal of your cause.

The first action is often the hardest. Emphasize the importance of low-commitment activities such as "Liking," +1′ing, or sharing. These, coupled with rewards, can transform passive supporters into more engaged members of the community.

Creating a central and clear call to action is key to getting folks involved in the next level of support. In addition to participation, make fundraising goals and tools a prominent part of your outreach so people can easily — and safely — contribute to your movement.


5. Empower Your Volunteers


Developing brand evangelists is the best way to scale. A volunteer application form on your site, for example, makes it easy for potential supporters to raise their hands. Giving them a space to share experiences, meet new friends and build relationships will build long-term support and commitment.

Set clear expectations on what it means to get involved and what they will receive in return. Keep volunteers in the loop and share how they have played a part in your success. Strengthen your bond with volunteers by sharing photos and videos of the impact they’ve had. Don't ever forget to say "thank you" and don't be afraid to shout your appreciation out loud.


Conclusion


Today, the social web offers solutions to make organizing, fundraising and outreach easy for anyone. Building a successful grassroots movement is also about your idea, passion and ability to inspire others to join you in taking action.

What has your community done to inspire positive change? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclosure: The author is a member of the Amplifying Education group, which is hosted on Ning, the author’s company.

Image courtesy of Flickr, neurmadic aesthetic


More About: activism, grassroots, how to, philanthropy, Social Good

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Apple Cancels iTunes TV Rentals

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 03:51 PM PDT


Apple has axed its TV rental program within iTunes.

The company introduced the ability to rent certain episodes of television programs for $0.99 each last September, in conjunction with the rejiggered Apple TV.

AllThingsD quotes an Apple spokesman as saying, “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows.”

Earlier this month, Apple added TV shows to its iCloud for iTunes offering. This gives users the ability to re-download purchased TV content on their iOS devices, Mac and PC computers and to stream via the Apple TV. This ends up negating the need for rentals in the first place.

News Corp. and Disney were the only two players to jump on the iTunes TV rental bandwagon, and we’re not surprised that the concept failed to gain traction. After all, the difference between $0.99 and $1.99 is already minimal, especially when the $1.99 product allows a users to rewatch that content on other devices anytime they want.

Amazon.com still offers TV rentals through its Instant Video program. Some programs, like the classic HBO series Oz are priced only 60 cents an episode less than buying the episodes on iTunes.

Did you ever rent a TV show from iTunes? What do you think of Apple giving up the ghost and focusing on purchases? Let us know.

More About: apple, icloud, itunes, television, tv shows

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Baseball Everywhere: How MLB Is Innovating With Digital Media

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 03:23 PM PDT


On August 26, 1939, Major League Baseball did something historic: It broadcast on televisions for the first time. It’s not known how many people tuned into see that telecast, a doubleheader between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, though it couldn’t have been many since only a few hundred people reportedly owned television sets in the New York area at the time. That Major League Baseball would jump on such a novel technology is not surprising, however. It had begun broadcasting games on the radio 18 years earlier, when commercial radio was still in its infancy.

And the league’s first livestream Internet broadcast of a game occurred on August 26, 2002. Though the Internet certainly had more penetration in 2002 than television did 63 years earlier, at the time the vast majority of Internet users were still on dial-up, and even those on broadband technology, like Cable or DSL, were connecting at just fractions of the bandwidth available to users today.

Over the past 10 seasons, MLB has continued to innovate in the digital space, and is a market leader when it comes to online media. From the successful launch of an impressive suite of mobile apps to the continued improvement of its market-leading MLB.tv service to the continued expansion of the MLB.com property, the league has shown a strong commitment to using digital technology to give fans increased access.


The Catalyst


Major League Baseball’s renewed commitment to digital media can really be traced to January 19, 2000, when the 30 Major League Baseball club owners voted unanimously to centralize the league’s digital operations under one company. That lead to the formation of MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) six months later. The company, which is jointly owned by the team owners, manages MLB.com, the team sites for each of the 30 clubs and all of their mobile and multimedia applications.

One of the unique decisions the new company made early on was to run their flagship properties — the team sites and MLB.com, which launched under MLBAM on Opening Day, 2001 (fun fact: MLB had to secure the MLB.com domain name from their own lawyers) — as editorial destinations, rather than marketing or promotional vehicles. Each team site has a beat writer who covers his team much like any other member of the press corps.

“We have the most journalists and editors covering baseball of any media outlet in the world and all have brought with them a wealth of experience and expertise as news reporters,” explained Matthew Gould, vice president of corporate communications at MLBAM. “Our beat reporters work under the same guidelines as every local beat reporter, establishing professional relationships and credibility with sources and readers, with the ultimate goal of providing comprehensive, accurate coverage of their respective clubs.”

Gould credits MLB commissioner Bud Selig with the editorial vision behind MLB.com. According to Gould, Selig and the league realized early on that digital media could add tremendous value for the teams, but that it only worked if content was original and compelling to fans. “Commissioner Selig, from the outset, insisted the websites not merely serve as a marketing tool for the industry, and the key to that was establishing editorial independence that allowed us to write what we wanted, when we wanted,” says Gould.

That strategy seems to have paid off — MLB.com now averages 10 million visitors per day and 120 million pageviews per day.


Giving Fans What They Want


Starting in 2002, MLB began broadcasting livestreams of games over the Internet. The technology was rudimentary at first — 280k streams without much in the way of extras — but has grown up considerably over the past decade. MLB currently serves up 9 million video streams each day, including 1 million live streams. Additionally, they have 2 million paid subscribers to MLB.tv and their At Bat mobile apps (which also stream video).

For many professional sports leagues, complicated television rights or fears that Internet streaming would eat into lucrative TV broadcasts have hampered the availability of Internet streaming. For Major League Baseball, which was able to overcome the complexity of a broadcast rights landscape scattered over 30 local markets, the fears of audience fragmentation have been overblown.

“We've learned that wherever you are, you watch on the biggest screen you can,” MLBAM CEO Robert Bowman told The New York Times in 2008. In other words, MLB.tv won’t cut into TV revenue, according to Bowman, because most viewers will opt for TV over their computer or iPhone if the broadcast is available to them.

Gould echoes his boss’s sentiments. “The history of media shows us that no medium ever has died as new technology emerges, going back to terrestrial radio. Every one builds from the other, and they all provide complementary opportunities,” he says. “Our most important objective is to expand the experiences through interactive media so a fan that has a few minutes to watch a live game on-the-go, at work or wherever easily can do so. We have to get it there, get it right and have it ready for them to consume.”

And that’s one of the major keys to MLBAM’s success over the past decade. By embracing new technologies as they’ve appeared (the iPhone in 2008, Android, BlackBerry and the iPad in 2010 and Windows Phone 7 and WebOS this year), MLB has showed a commitment to delivering content to fans where the fans want to consume it.

“Digital technology is huge for leagues. It allows fans to consume events when they want, how they want and with whom they want,” says Gail Sideman, owner of sports publicity and consulting firm Publiside. Sideman notes that Major League Baseball has done a good job of embracing that concept and offering fans the media they want, where they want it.

“Ultimately fans don't care how they get baseball, they just want to follow it wherever, whenever and however they can,” says Gould.


Always Innovating


At its core, MLBAM is a technology company, one that, according to Gould, must stay agile to fulfill its mission of delivering baseball to fans. “We must be flexible and ready to capitalize and build on emerging tech developments, ensuring our fans are at the forefront of these interactive media experiences,” says Gould.

It’s that commitment to innovation and willingness to embrace new technologies before they’ve been proven in the marketplace that has kept Major League Baseball a market leader when it comes to digital. In 2005, for example, MLB launched MLBlogs.com, a community blogging site that now hosts over 12,000 blogs. In 2009 they added Twitter streams in MLB.tv. In 2010 the league jumped on the location bandwagon by adding venue checkins to the At Bat mobile apps and in 2011 they livestreamed spring training games via Facebook. Sometimes the experiments don’t work out — the WebOS app that MLBAM launched on August 8 this year isn’t looking like a great use of resources a few weeks later — but more often, MLB’s constant innovation has paid off.

When MLBAM launched their first iPhone app on July 10, 2008 it was hardly a guarantee that paid iPhone apps would be successful (observers will note that July 10 was also the launch of the iOS App Store itself). That gamble was clearly a smart one. At Bat 2011, the current iteration of the app, has been accessed 265 million times this year and has already surpassed 3 million downloads for the seasons (900,000 ahead of last year’s pace).

What’s next for MLBAM? Hard to say, but Gould indicated that the whatever the future holds, the MLB plans to be ready for it. “We continue to envision a trend towards personal, powerful and portable experiences,” says Gould. We just saw the shift where mobile has become the majority of our web traffic, which happened for the first time this July, and mobile's share only will become more pronounced moving forward.”

Of course, he noted, things change so fast in the world of digital technology, you never really know what’s coming next.

More About: digital media, live streaming, Major League Baseball, MLB, video

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Facebook Kills Off Deals, Its Groupon Competitor

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 03:21 PM PDT


Facebook has decided to shut down Facebook Deals, its four-month-old Groupon competitor.

“After testing Deals for four months, we’ve decided to end our Deals product in the coming weeks,” Facebook told Reuters in a statement.

The product, which launched in late April, was an attempt to bring the popular daily deals phenomenon to Facebook’s 750+ million users. It launched in San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Atlanta and San Diego, but quickly rolled out to other cities.

The market for daily deals has become more competitive in recent months, however, and many are questioning the entire business model in light of Groupon’s questionable financials.

“We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses,” Facebook said in its statement. “We’ve learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses.” We have reached out to Facebook for more information.

More About: daily deals, facebook, Facebook Deals, groupon

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New Apple CEO Tim Cook Gets $383 Million Stock Bonus — In 10 Years

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 03:10 PM PDT


Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, is getting a hefty payday in return for taking the helm of the world’s most valuable company.

In an SEC filing, Apple revealed that it awarded Cook with 1 million shares of Apple stock. At today’s closing price of $383.58, his new stock is worth $383 million.

There’s a catch, though. For Cook to collect on his full bonus, he must stay with the company for the next ten years. Half of his shares will vest on August 24, 2016, while the other half will vest on August 24, 2021. Essentially, Apple has locked up Tim Cook for the next decade, in the hopes of assuring that there will not be any risky changes of leadership.

Tim Cook will likely never achieve the wealth Steve Jobs has accumulated over the years (he’s worth approximately $8.3 billion thanks to his large ownership stake in Disney). But Cook can expect a multi-million or even billion-dollar payday a decade from now. That’s what one gets for leading the world’s most valuable company, at a time when it has the farthest to fall.

More About: apple, tim cook

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Facebook Makes Photos Bigger & Faster

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 02:54 PM PDT


Facebook has rolled out a new version of its popular Photos app, complete with speed improvements and larger images.

“Now, the photos you share on Facebook are bigger (720 pixels to 960 pixels) and load twice as fast, giving you quicker access to more detailed images,” Facebook’s Justin Shaffer said in a blog post. “Photos you’ve already uploaded to your profile will also be displayed at this higher resolution.”

In addition to the increased photo size, Facebook is rolling out a revamped photo viewer. The new viewer takes up more screen real estate (since photos are now larger) and reduces clutter so users can focus on the photo and nothing else.

“The light box is now set against a simple white background that puts more of the focus on the photo, and less on the surrounding frame,” Shaffer noted.

Facebook rolled out its revamped Photos interface in February with the lightbox UI and support for hi-res photos.

Check out the new Photos interface and let us know if you like the improvements in the comments.

More About: facebook, facebook photos

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Google+ Lets You Ignore People [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 02:41 PM PDT


Is someone annoying you on Google+, but you don’t want to resort to blocking him or her completely from your profile? Now there is an option to ignore what that person is posting to Google+.

“Ignoring someone is basically saying you're just not interested,” Google’s Olga Wichrowska said in a Google+ post. “Maybe you don't know them, or maybe you don't want to see what they're sharing.”

Ignoring a user will do three things. First, it will remove his posts from your “Incoming” stream. Second, you will no longer get notifications about his activity. And finally, ignoring someone will remove him from your Circles page. The user isn’t notified that he has been ignored.

Ignoring is different than blocking, though. A person can still see your stream and comment on it if you’re ignoring him. Blocking him will eliminate his posts from your stream, remove him from your circles and block him from seeing anything you post.

The addition of Ignore seems to be part of Google’s initiative to give users more control over their profiles and data. Facebook has been making moves to enhance user control as well. It recently overhauled its privacy features in an attempt to give users more control.

More About: Google, Google Plus

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Hurricane Irene: How Mobile Carriers Are Preparing Themselves — and You

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 02:22 PM PDT

mobile phones

As the East Coast prepares for a battering from Hurricane Irene, mobile carriers are staying on their toes to keep their networks operating.

As of Friday afternoon, there have been no reports of systems affected by the storm on the East Coast. However, Wednesday’s earthquake in Virginia showed how networks can go down due to an influx of calls, even when systems are not damaged.

The carriers all offer tips to minimize your disconnection during the storm: Be sure to fully charge your phone before the storm hits. Store your phone and other electronics in a dry place. Text messages are more likely to go through than voice calls. Call through an internet supported service like Skype when possible. Email and social networks may be an easier way to stay connected.

While you’re following that advice, here’s how the four main providers are gearing up for the storm themselves:

AT&T:

  • AT&T FamilyMap and AT&T Navigator can be used to provide evacuation routes and track family members’ mobile devices in case of separation.
  • Capacity is added to wireless networks to accommodate increased volume.
  • Backup generators are stored in safe locations for immediate use following the storm.

Sprint:

  • Portable generators are prepared near network towers and switches.
  • Resources are waiting outside of Washington, D.C. to aid first responders and public safety officials.
  • 25,000 fully charged Sprint and Nextel Direct Connect phones are available for rent during disaster events.

T-Mobile:

  • Portable, fueled backup generators are ready to be deployed.
  • Engineers are on-call with repair equipment along the seaboard.
  • Cells-On-Wheels are prepared to provide wireless connections in the worst hit areas.

Verizon:

  • Central network offices have backup generators to ensure land lines operate when power goes out.
  • Trucks and emergency equipment is being removed from low lying areas.
  • Emergency relief kits are prepared to ease power restoration.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, HelleM

More About: cell carriers, Hurricane Irene, Mobile 2.0, verizon

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Hurricane Irene: 7 Devices To Help You Ride Out the Storm

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 01:53 PM PDT


Planning to ride out Hurricane Irene this weekend? At the very least you should prepare to be inconvenienced, but you don’t have to go back to the Stone Age.

Technology is here to help — charging your batteries, illuminating the darkness and keeping you abreast of the latest weather reports.

Even though we’re hearing East Coast stores are swamped with people buying batteries and emergency gear, you might get lucky and find one of these handy items to make your life easier as you wait out the storm, stay informed during its onslaught, and deal with its aftermath. Stay safe, and good luck!


Eton NSP500B Soulra XL Sound System for iPod and iPhone




This great-sounding solar boombox (we have one here for testing) charges with a large solar panel, and can juice up your iPhone or iPod Touch at the same time. It's $250.


RCA 7" Portable TV




Find this tiny 7-inch TV from RCA ($60) at Wal-Mart. It'll help you keep tabs on the approaching storm, letting you see the local TV station's weather maps and updates. Just be sure you have good DTV reception in your area -- you can check that at AntennaWeb.


Duracell Powerpack 600




This $150 Duracell Powerpack 600 battery pack might have just enough power to keep your refrigerator running, and at the same time it has an AM/FM radio with weather bands to keep you entertained and informed. After all the drama of the storm has passed, it'll be great to have around if you want to jumpstart your car.


Icon Rogue 1 Flashlight




Don't be fooled by this tiny flashlight's diminutive size -- the $38 Icon Rogue 1 flashlight's powerful LED cranks out 50 Lumens for three hours, or 6 Lumens for 70 hours on a single AA battery. Just 4.5 inches long, its tailcap switch lets you quickly turn it on and choose its brightness level. We have one of these, and can vouch for its sturdy construction and futuristic good looks.


Eton Axis Hand-Powered Home Safety Device with USB Cell Phone Charger




When the batteries run out, you'll be glad you have this $70 Eton Axis home safety device with USB cellphone charger. Turn its crank for one minute, and it generates enough power for a 30-second phone call. It'll charge up most smartphones and USB devices, and even has a flashlight and a multiband radio that brings you AM, FM and weather bands.


All Power America APG3014 Generator




Generators are going to be extremely hard to find, but they're worth looking for: This $200 All Power America APG3014 portable generator is a favorite of the users at Consumer Search. It cranks out 1400 Watts, and can surge to 2000 Watts -- enough to keep that refrigerator (a typical refrigerator-freezer requires around 540 Watts) running until power is restored. It runs for 9.5 hours on a tank of gas.


Coleman CPX High-Powered LED Mini Lantern




Let there be light with this mini lantern, giving you plenty of illumination as you sit in a circle and tell each other ghost stories as the hurricane passes through. This $30 LED mini lantern uses Coleman's CPX battery system, running on rechargeable power cartridges as well as AAA batteries.

More About: Emergency Gadgets, Hurricane Irene, Tech

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MTV VMAs Get Enhanced “Second Screen Experience”

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 01:33 PM PDT


MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) air Sunday, Aug. 28, and this year the network is kicking things up a notch with an expanded slate of mobile and apps to add a so-called second-screen experience, on other devices while watching the show.

For the past several years, MTV has aimed at offering home viewers a more enhanced and interactive experience through its VMA All Access program. In 2009, when Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift, the moment was able to go viral more quickly, thanks to MTV’s live highlight videos of the show on the web.

Now MTV is expanding its VMA All Access Live experience to include the desktop, iOS and Android.

Viewers can tune into MTV’s VMA website and access various camera angles of live feeds set up around the event. These angles will include the red carpet, backstage, the paparazzi pit and the green room.


Twitter Tracker Reloaded


MTV is also bringing back its popular Twitter Tracker visualization tool that shows what subjects and topics are most-tweeted during the award show.

MTV has been using the Twitter Tracker at the VMAs since 2009, and the network told Mashable they’re always surprised by what events and moments take off on the social network. Going into the 2010 awards, the brass at MTV expected Kanye West appearing alongside Taylor Swift to generate the most buzz and discussion. Then Lady Gaga showed up in a meat dress and that became the most-buzzed moment of the night.

This year, the Twitter Tracker will include a virtual map of the auditorium so that fans can see when a celebrity or artist is tweeting.


Integrating the Live Experience Across Channels & Devices


Although the VMA All Access Live program is designed to augment the award experience, not replace it, MTV will be adding clips of performances and unexpected moments to the web in nearly real time.

Viewers can then share those videos across Facebook and Twitter and embed clips in their own blog.

This year, MTV is bringing the website experience to the MTV News App for iOS [iTunes link] and MTV News for Android [Android Market link] as well as through the new MTV WatchWith app for iOS [iTunes link].

The apps will also keep users abreast of the winners as they are announced, and fans can send messages to winners or share their thoughts online.


Consistent Experience Across Devices


The big initiative with the All Access Live program this year is to provide viewers with a consistent experience, no matter what device is being used. The iOS and Android enhanced features, access to different camera feeds, the Twitter Tracker and clips from the awards are all part of bringing these screens and experiences together.

Users can tune into the VMAs live on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. ET. Will you tune in and use any of the second screen offerings?


VMAs Main Screen on WatchWith for iPad





VMAs Main Screen on WatchWith for iPhone





VMAs in the MTV News App for iPad





VMA Clips for iPhone





iPhone Live Streams





All Access Live iPad




More About: award shows, mtv, second screen, vmas

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Listen & Spin in Mashable’s Turntable.FM Room With Miles Jones & Mike Notar

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 01:11 PM PDT

turntable fm image

The weather outside is frightening — but everything’s peachy in the Summer Fridays Turntable.FM room, brought to you by Mashable and Musebox.

If you’re unfamiliar with Turntable.fm, get ready for a litany of bouncing avatars to start haunting your dreams. The startup, which is still in beta, comes from the Stickybits team and is basically like (musical) AOL chatrooms of old — user-created, browser-based chat and listening rooms where "DJs" (a.k.a. you and others) can play songs, vote on how "lame" or "awesome" those songs are, score points for picking good tunes, and chat with others in a sidebar. You can choose songs from a MediaNet-powered library or upload your own. Unfortunately, the site is no longer open to anyone outside the U.S. because of Turntable’s efforts to stay DMCA compliant.

We’ve had a number of Friday jam sessions, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET today we’re escaping the East Coast hurricane with the help of hip-hop artists Miles Jones and Mike Notar. So come hang with us here.

More About: turntable.fm

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In a NYC Evacuation Zone? Type Your Address To Find Out

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 12:46 PM PDT

In preparation for Hurricane Irene, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas (Zone A) in the five boroughs of New York City Friday afternoon. The official evacuation deadline has been set for 5 p.m. ET Saturday, but residents are being asked to move before New York City transit shuts down at noon Saturday.

Want to know if you’re in an evacuation zone? Type your address in the “Zoom to” box at the top, courtesy of WYNC.

More About: Hurricane Irene

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What’s That Lyric Mean? Ask Rap Genius

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 12:35 PM PDT


“Sitting on the world, I got life in my hand. So these days I try to think twice when I can.” So begins the first verse of President Carter, a rap track from Lil Wayne’s leaked Tha Carter IV album.

If you’re anything like you me, you may have missed the rapper’s allusion to the gospel song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, or skipped over the reference to his prison time. Never fear. Forty thousand rap fans have got you covered.

Rap Genius, a startup from co-founders Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam (who also created the Rap Map), is akin to a hipper, rap song-focused Wikipedia. Members build up “RapIQ” as they add meanings to lines, editors review additions for accuracy and anyone can feel like a rap lyric-deciphering prodigy.

The site made a quiet debut back in 2009. Rap Genius was never intended to be the intelligent and elegant answer to the vapid and hideous sites most people happen upon when scouring the web for the lyrics to their favorite tracks. Instead, the site — then called Rap Exegesis — was just intended as a way for the guys to share rap lyric meanings with friends.

Friends told friends, visitors started leaving comments and the founders started opening the site to allow for community contribution. The name was wisely changed and the site began to take on a life of its own.

Two years later, Rap Genius is a lyrics community where more than 40,000 users compete for street cred and onsite glory by most-accurately unpacking the lyrics in more than 250,000 songs. The site has snowballed in popularity, amassing more than 3 million unique visitors in June. Now, the founders are looking to turn Rap Genius into a business — without resorting to ads.

“How do we turn this thing into a cultural phenomena — as the go-to place when you’re looking up a song?,” says Zechory. “We want to be the center for songs.”

Rappers have been known to participate via artist pages, others choose to use aliases instead. The founders see Rap Genius’ future potential as a platform for artists, where they can sell concert tickets, interact with fans and give freebies to those who have become the biggest disciples of their lyrics.

“People are obsessed with music and with lyrics,” Lehman says of the site’s potential. “Lyrics are how people like to interact with music.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles

More About: lyrics, rap genius

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Education Tech: Skype’s Vision for a More Connected Classroom

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 11:44 AM PDT

tony bate image

Since becoming the CEO of Skype last October, Tony Bates has overseen the launch of a Wi-Fi hotspot service, a partnership with Facebook that produced the social network’s first video chat feature, and a pending acquisition by Microsoft.

Though it didn’t make as many headlines, Skype also launched its formal education initiative under Bate’s leadership. Skype in the Classroom, a dedicated teacher network, came out of beta in March with about 4,000 teachers already signed up. It now has more than 15,000 teachers sharing more than 779 projects on the site.

Mashable recently asked Bates about Skype’s new education initiatives and the developing education technology space. Bates will also be speaking at Mashable’s Social Good Summit in September.


Q&A With Tony Bates, CEO of Skype


What does video chat have to do with education?

The education process is moving beyond the traditional classroom/lecture setting. More and more teachers are seeking tools and techniques to engage their classes and enrich their lessons. Video calling is one of these tools, as it removes barriers to communication and lets students move beyond the boundaries of their classrooms. With Skype video calling, teachers can provide their students with first-hand knowledge from experts around the world and with other classes who are studying the same subject halfway across the world.

Personally, have you ever learned something via Skype that you wouldn’t have been able to learn without it?

Absolutely. One of my first days at Skype, my anxiety about not having a desk phone was quickly erased after I had a Skype (video) call with an important partner. [It] would have taken months to arrange a face-to-face physical meeting. The immediacy of video contact allowed the two of us to understand each other better and that really cemented for me the power of Skype. Every day at Skype, I am able to connect with employees from around the world and engage with them on a level that just is not possible through a conference call or email. When I speak to an engineer in Stockholm, he is able to talk me through a new product he is working on. The amount of education, in the most basic sense of the word, I receive on a daily basis through Skype amazes me. The technology is one of the reasons I wanted to join Skype and am eager to get Skype into every classroom around the globe.

Do you think that there’s still a resistance from schools when it comes to incorporating technologies?

There is always a certain amount of resistance when people try to introduce new technologies and methods of communication in any setting. The biggest cause of this resistance is usually a lack of awareness about ease of use and concerns about costs.

More broadly speaking, what are some applications of technology in education that you’re excited about?

There are a number of different technologies and applications that are being used right now that I am very excited about. One Laptop Per Child is a visionary program that is leveraging technology to make an impact on a global scale. Additionally, Blackboard is a company that is using enterprise technology to find ways to benefit students and teachers. Khan Academy is a truly exciting new method of … reaching students in new and exciting ways. Coming from Cisco and understanding the benefit of enterprise-level technology, I am always encouraged to see the ways enterprise technologies can be leveraged for the classroom.

What changes would you like to see in the way that schools implement technology?

I think an open dialog between educators, administrators and school districts would go a long way in removing the obstacles that are traditionally faced in introducing a new technology into a school or classroom. Many of the technological solutions that are available to teachers right now can be easily and affordably implemented in almost any setting. By working with school districts to educate their decision makers on the technologies that are available to educators — and exactly how they will benefit — would go a long way in increasing the rate of adoption in schools.


Social Good Summit Event Details


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

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

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

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


Sponsored by Ericsson


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

More About: education, interview, Skype, Tony Bates

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Mashable Awards 2011: Become a Sponsor

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 11:05 AM PDT


The Mashable Awards returns in September for its fifth year to celebrate the best of digital.

Mashable's editorial team has been tracking the technologies, products and people who are reshaping social media, tech, business and entertainment. On Sept. 22, Mashable will announce the categories for this year's Mashable Awards program. The Mashable community will cast votes to decide the best of the best, and the winners will be celebrated at the MashBash at CES in January.

This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable’s audience of more than 14 million influential monthly unique visitors and our engaged community across social networks. A limited number of sponsor opportunities are availble for the Mashable Awards program and MashBash at CES.

Mashable Awards 2010 generated more than 1.3 million votes.

For online inquiries email advertising@mashable.com and for MashBash event opportunities email sponsorship@mashable.com.


A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Awards


Check out this photo gallery and Mashable‘s Flickr page for scenes from Mashable Awards 2010.


Baratunde Thurston




Working the crowd at the 2010 Mashable Awards. Photo by Ken Yeung.


Pete Cashmore




Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore addresses the audience. Photo by Ken Yeung.


Antoine Dodson




Antoine Dodson accepts his award for Best Internet Meme sponsored by Dynadot. Photo by Ken Yeung.


Ford Focus




Attendees had a chance to win a free trip to Ford's Focus Global Test Drive event in Spain. Photo by Jehangir Irani.


3-D TV




Eclectic Method check out the new line of 3D TVs by sponsor LG. Photo by Jehangir Irani.


3D TV




Attendees check out the new line of 3D TVs by sponsor LG. Photo by Nick McGlynn.


Rok Nightclub




The scene of the pre-party sponsored by Influxis, and after party sponsored by BlackBerry. Photo by Ken Yeung.


Rok Nightclub




The scene of the pre-party sponsored by Influxis and after party sponsored by BlackBerry. Photo by Jehangir Irani.


Double Rainbow!




Paul "Bear" Vasquez, of Double Rainbow fame, poses with VIP guests from ReachLocal. Photo by Jehangir Irani.

More About: advertising, Events, mashable, Social Media, Tech

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Hurricane Irene: NASA Posts Dramatic Full-Earth View [PICS]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 11:04 AM PDT



[Click image for huge enlargement]

For anyone wondering if Hurricane Irene is for real, NASA removes all doubt by posting this full-disk image of Earth on Flickr, taken by the NOAA GOES-13 satellite at 10:45 a.m. EDT Friday. As you can see, the Category 2 hurricane is relentlessly bearing down on the East Coast.

According to NASA, satellite data shows Hurricane Irene’s current diameter at 510 miles, “roughly 1/3 the length of the US Atlantic coastline.” The GOES-13 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) is parked in a geostationary orbit, positioned over the equator at an altitude of 22,236 miles.

Let's get close to the storm (click for enlargement).

The good news? The U.S. National Hurricane Center has downgraded the storm from Category 3 to Category 2 with its winds slowing from 115 mph Thursday night to 105 mph on Friday morning when this picture was taken. The hurricane is moving toward the north at 14 mph. Let’s hope that weakening trend continues.

Check out this time-lapse from NASA:

Graphic courtesy Flickr/NASA

More About: Hurricane Irene, NASA, trending, Weather Satellite

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New “Counter-Strike” Trailers Unveiled [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 10:43 AM PDT

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, one of the most popular first-person shooter games of the decade, has released a new pair of trailers for the launch of the upcoming remake.

Players of the classic team-based video game have been eagerly anticipating a first look at the new version, scheduled for a Q1 2012 release. Fortunately for them, Valve Software happily obliged with two trailers revealing its updated look and gameplay.

So what’s new for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)? It will now be available for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 for the first time. The PC- and Xbox- based ancestor originated 11 years ago as a modification to the game Half-Life. The game has sold more than 25 million units.

CS:GO will launch with at least seven maps, including updated versions of all the originals — Dust, Dust2, Aztec, Nuke, Inferno, Italy and Office — along with an unspecified number of new ones. Gamers can anticipate new weapons, such as a decoy grenade and a Molotov cocktail. New to this version, there will be cross-platform play. As you can see in the embedded trailers, the new graphics lend a more intricately detailed, realistic look to the mayhem.

Gamers, will these CS improvements be enough to keep hard-core players coming back, given the tough competition in today’s crowded FPS marketplace?

More About: Gaming, valve software

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Only 50% of U.S. Adults Use Social Media

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 10:13 AM PDT


Social media is not ubiquitous. In fact, says a Pew Internet survey released on Friday, just half of U.S. adults are logged on to sites like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.

In Pew’s phone survey of 2,277 adults, 65% of Internet users said they use social media. For the first time, 50% of respondents — regardless of whether they use the Internet — said that they did the same.

But they’re less than ecstatic about it. In a word cloud that the study made to show responses to the question “What is one word that describes your experience using social networking sites?” The most common answer was a standard “good.”

It’s easy for the quick growth of social media use to give the impression that everybody uses it enthusiastically. In a similar study that Pew conducted in 2008, just 29% of all Internet users said that they used social media — its adoption has more than doubled in three years.

But email is still the most popular online activity among Internet users, with 61% of survey respondents using it every day. Search engines are the second-most popular activity, with 59% of respondents using them daily. Less than half, just 43%, of Internet users said that they used social media daily.

Growth of social media is largely fueled by seniors, who still aren’t nearly as likely as younger age groups to use it every day. In the past two years, social networking use among Internet users age 65 and older has increased 150% while social media use among Internet users under age 30 has remained about stable (according to Pew, 83% of them use social networks).

"The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist and co-author of the report, in a blog post about the research.

The 30- to 49-year-old crowd has been quickly closing the social media usage gap between themselves and the under 30 demographic. In 2008, 42% fewer respondents in the older demographic used social media than the younger demographic. Now the gap between the two age groups is 13%. So too, has the gap between the percentage of the two age groups who use social media daily decreased, from 29% in 2008 to 15% in 2011.

If baby boomers and seniors follow a similar pattern in closing the gap, we might be able to call social media dominant. For now, overall adoption of social media, like sentiment toward it, is still “good.”

Image courtesy of MarcoFolio

More About: Pew, Social Media

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NYPD Uses Twitter Tip To Shut Down Gang Meeting

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 09:22 AM PDT

NYPD

The New York City Police Department arrested more than 50 suspected gang members Wednesday after they used Twitter and other social networks to arrange a “Crips Holiday.”

The New York Daily News reports that police learned the alleged Crips members were using Twitter to call for a gathering at Amersfort Park in East Flatbush, Brooklyn Wednesday. Members of the NYPD’s Gang Unit teamed up with officers from the 63rd Precinct, the borough task force and the Emergency Service Unit, arriving at the park at about 7:30 p.m, police told the Daily News.

Police officers told the crowd — largely dressed in blue shades affiliated with the gang — to leave the park, but the group refused. That’s when the police arrested 56 of them. While police said they didn’t know what the alleged gang members’ intentions were, a 9-mm. Taurus pistol was discovered in the park.

“The potential for danger was there,” a law enforcement source told the Daily News.

The NYPD has been getting more involved in monitoring social media for criminal activity. Earlier this month, the department announced the creation of a new juvenile justice unit, which mines social media to find information about “troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem.”

And other law enforcement officials around the U.S. are also starting to use social media to track criminal activity. Police used a combination of Facebook profiles and school yearbooks to identify perpetrators in a flash mob incident that took place in Germantown, Maryland, on Aug. 13. The Boston Police Department has integrated Twitter into its daily routine, and a conference titled “Social Media, The Internet and Law Enforcement” (SMILE) is supposed to be held in Dallas this September.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Vincent Desjardin

More About: nypd, Social Media, social networking, twitter

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Diploma or Dropout: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 08:44 AM PDT


What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common?

Well, lots of things. The three are some of history’s greatest innovators and they’re super-rich, super-successful entrepreneurs. But perhaps most intriguing is the absence of a university degree on their impressive resumes.

All three enrolled in college (Jobs at Reed, Zuckerberg and Gates at Harvard) but ultimately chose business over books. Add Michael Dell, Paul Allen and the Twitter cofounders to the list, and it almost looks like entrepreneurial success is the norm for college dropouts.

These unconventional career paths have led many, such as Flickr founder Caterina Fake, to speculate that dropping out belies an entrepreneurial streak. Plus, it makes sense that being young and debt-free can lead to creative risk-taking.

Of course, mega successful dropouts are one in a million. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 57% of first-time students complete a degree within six years. It goes without saying, not all of these former students make it big. However, given this uncanny trend, we took a look at the reasons creative types ditch the classroom for entrepreneurship. We spoke with three young entrepreneurs who have left school in the past six months to learn what it takes to innovate without a degree.


The Thiel Fellowship


In May, Facebook investor and PayPal founder Peter Thiel launched the “20 under 20 Fellowship.” It awards $100,000 to students to pursue entrepreneurship. The motley crew of 24 fellows (20 total teams) will substitute traditional academics for two years of tutelage under Thiel’s oversight. While the benefactor has two degrees from Stanford, he’s infamously outspoken on the overhyped status of higher education. Thiel believes his fellowship will help solve the bubble of underemployed American degree holders and nourish the creative spirit in the America’s business environment.

All of the fellows are positioned to innovate in trendy topics. Three delved into biotech, two in career development, two in economics, three in education, four in energy, three in information technology, one in mobility, one in robotics and one in space.


Business Is Calling


Andrew Sutherland says leaving M.I.T. after three years of studying computer science was one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make. He has been working on his company, Quizlet, since his sophomore year of high school when he developed the program to study for a French test. Quizlet is an online study tool allowing students to create and share flash cards.

This summer, Sutherland realized he had to either choose his business or his schooling. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to do both well,” he says. “I saw how big Quizlet was getting, how many people were using it and how big an impact it could have for millions of students.”

Wesley Zhao similarly withdrew from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania two weeks ago when he decided to devote his energies to AvantCard, a site reinventing gift card giving. AvantCard’s co-creators, Ajay Mehta, Jesse Beyroutey and Dan Shipper, are not leaving school to pursue the startup.

“I think you just get different things from being in class and going into business,” says Zhao. “I definitely think you learn things in class but you learn more practical skills by doing it yourself.”

For 19-year-old Zhao, the decision isn’t risky because he knows he can always return to school. He plans to go back someday to pursue a degree, however, he no longer intends to major in entrepreneurship.

Sutherland also hopes to return to college, noting that he had a great time meeting friends and studying computer science. He believes M.I.T. does a great job of fostering entrepreneurship, easily allowing students to take leaves of absence and subsequently return to campus.


The Classroom Is Lacking


Dale Stephens left Hendrix College in March to pursue his blog-turned-social movement UnCollege. Halfway through his freshman year, Stephens started writing about his frustrations with higher education.

“I found smart people writing term papers, not changing the world,” he says. “I was working on theoretical homework rather than seeing the direct application of my work in the real world.”

Stephens was awarded a Thiel Fellowship to pursue his work as an educational futurist. He initially applied with a proposal for a budget transatlantic airline. Although his proposal was rejected, the committee approached him after he left college to work on UnCollege. Stephens, now based in Silicon Valley for Thiel’s mentorship, is using his seed money to publish his first book, “Hacking Your Education,” which he describes as a practical guide for gaining the skills schools aren’t teaching. The release is scheduled for early 2013.

While his book is in the works, Stephens says universities around the country have reached out to him as a consultant. “Tech is changing faster than they can. It’s really inspiring to see individuals working within the system, genuinely interested in building a better university of the future,” Stephens says.


To Each His Own


A college education, like most things in life, depends on the individual. Just because Zuckerberg, Jobs and Gates created empires without degrees does not make a college education worthless. Even Stephens, founder of UnCollege, admits traditional schooling is the right fit for some.

“I’m not advocating that everyone drop out of school,” he says. “That would be as ludicrous [as saying] that everyone should go to college."

Did your university degree help you get to where you are today professionally? If you could go back, would you forgo the diploma? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, bo1982

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The Generation Gap [COMIC]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 07:45 AM PDT

Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 07:19 AM PDT


Thanks to this week's advertisers and partners for enabling us to bring you the latest social media news and resources. Mashable’s sponsors are as social media savvy as our readers!

Advertise with us and get noticed.

Mashable is seeking site sponsors for our large, diverse audience — social media users, venture capitalists, early adopters, developers, bloggers and many more. You’ll receive hundreds of thousands of views per day in addition to weekly recognition as part of our “thank you” to our premium sponsors. Are you interested? Contact us for more information and to receive our media kit and rate card.

This week, our valued sponsors are: Spredfast, MessageMaker Social, Cisco, CBS Interactive, Lenovo, Campaigner®, CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign, The Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck, The Awareness Social Marketing Hub, AceProject, 7MainStreet, LoopFuse, BMW i, Discover Digital Group, Global Strategic Management Institute, Ford,, Sprout Social, Site24x7, IDG, CUNY School of Professional Studies, Oneupweb, SoftLayer, SRDS, Buddy Media, Clickatell, Microsoft BizSpark, MaxCDN and Eventbrite.


Spredfast provides an enterprise-class social media management platform helping organizations unlock their social business potential. The Spredfast platform provides a unified system for managing, monitoring and measuring social media programs for better business results. Discover best practices & proven tactics for using social for business with the Social Media Pocket Guide.

Spredfast supports Mashable’s Social Brand Series. Follow Spredfast Social on Twitter.


MessageMaker Social is the social media management system (SMMS) that lets you publish and manage targeted content across a large number of social interaction points while generating actionable intelligence. This smart, simple SaaS solution elevates your company's social presence among thousands of social Pages and accounts, helping you meet compliance regulations, maintain brand consistency, maximize engagement and generate actionable intelligence — without adding additional human resource costs.

MessageMaker Social supports Mashable’s Social CEO Series. Follow MessageMaker Social on Twitter.


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.

Cisco supports Mashable’s Buzzword Breakdown Series. Follow Cisco on Twitter and Facebook.


CBS Interactive, which helps brands find the perfect audience with a network of #1 sites like CBS.com, CBS Sports and GameSpot. To see how our exclusive content, video and mobile can help you engage with your ideal target, visit CBSInteractive.com/ideal.

CBSInteractive supports Mashable’s Consumer Trends Series. Follow CBSInteractive on Twitter and Facebook.


Lenovo does not just manufacture technology. They make Do machines — super-powered creation engines designed to help the people who do, do more, do better, do in brand new ways.

Lenovo supports Mashable’s Tech Innovators Series. Follow Lenovo on Twitter and Facebook.


Campaigner® email marketing enables small, medium and large businesses to strengthen customer relationships and drive sales by connecting to their customers quickly, simply and affordably. Visit www.campaigner.com to learn more.

Campaigner® supports Mashable’s Social Marketing Series. Follow Campaigner® on Twitter and Facebook.


CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign, helping to change the world one mile at a time through contributions to local charities.

CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign support Mashable’s Stars of Social Good Series. Follow the Fueling Good Campaign on Twitter and Facebook.


In New York City or San Francisco and want a free scoop? Try the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck.

The Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck supports Mashable’s Social-Savvy Food Truck Series. Follow the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Truck on Twitter at @BenJerrysTruck and @BenJerrysWest.


The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is the leading social media marketing software for marketers to publish, manage, measure and engage across the social web. The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is leveraged by companies of all sizes including Sony, MLB, American Cancer Society, and Starwood Hotels. Request a demo here.

Awareness supports Mashable’s Social Media For Business Leaders Series. Follow Awareness on Twitter and Facebook.


AceProject is a collaboration-oriented project management web application that empowers you to manage projects, tasks and time sheets. Create your free AceProject account here.

AceProject supports Mashable’s Digital Collaboration Series. Follow AceProject on Twitter.


7MainStreet is the first company to combine social networking, e-commerce, and comprehensive business reviews and listings. 7MainStreet helps organizations of all sizes.

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LoopFuse provides forever-free marketing automation software that closes the loop between sales and marketing with smarter lead capture, scoring, and nurturing — plus Salesforce.com integration. LoopFuse helps marketers build better pipelines, run more efficient marketing operations, and enable more effective sales teams leading to increased revenue and reduced costs. Learn more about lead nurturing with LoopFuse.

LoopFuse supports Mashable’s Social Ad Series. Follow Loopfuse on Twitter and Facebook.


BMW i is a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit bmw-i.com.

BMW i supports Mashable’s Global Innovation Series. Follow BMW i on Twitter and Facebook.


Discover Digital Group is a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

DDG supports Mashable’s Social CMO Series. Follow DDG on Twitter and Facebook.


Global Strategic Management Institute is a leading source of knowledge for today's leaders. Its Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more at socialmediastrategiessummit.com.

GSMI supports Mashable’s Social Media 101 Series. Follow GSMI on Twitter and Facebook.


Ford supports Mashable Explore. The Content Exploration Series is presented by Mashable Explore, a new way to discover resources and information on your favorite Mashable topics. Mashable Explore is brought to you by the all-new, 100% reinvented 2011 Ford Explorer. Drive One.

Check out Mashable Explore here and follow Ford on Twitter and Facebook.


Site24x7, an online website monitoring service which allows users to monitor their website, web application and online web transactions. Users can get instant alerts when their website goes down. Site24x7 allows monitoring from across 25+ global locations. Site24x7 pricing starts from $1/Month/URL. Sign up for a 15-day Free Trial!

Follow Site24x7 on Twitter and Facebook.


With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

IDG supports Mashable’s Modern Media Agency Series.


Oneupweb is an agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Keep up with Oneupweb through its blog and monthly newsletter.

Oneupweb supports Mashable’s Behind the Social Media Campaign Series. Follow Oneupweb on Twitter and Facebook.


SoftLayer provides global, on-demand data center and hosting services from facilities across the U.S. it leverages best-in-class connectivity and technology to innovate industry leading, fully automated solutions that empower enterprises with complete access, control, security, and scalability.

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SRDS connects agencies, brands and media through its online database of media planning data. SRDS is committed to making it easier to buy online ad space and build integrated marketing campaigns. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of the SRDS consumer and business database here.

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Buddy Media is Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to manage multiple brands on Facebook with this webinar.

Buddy Media supports Mashable’s Facebook Marketing Series, which is about how brands can advertise on Facebook. Follow Buddy Media on Twitter and Facebook.


Clickatell was the first provider of Online SMS Gateway connectivity, and after 10 years, is still the leading provider. Clickatell can deliver your SMS text messages to over 818 mobile networks in more than 222 countries and territories.

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BizSpark is a program which offers new software businesses and entrepreneurs access to Microsoft design, development and production tools with no upfront costs for up to three years. Learn more or connect with a Microsoft BizSpark advisor here.

BizSpark supports Mashable’s weekly Spark of Genius Series, which showcases promising startups. Follow Microsoft BizSpark on Twitter and Facebook.


Mashable uses MaxCDN – Content Delivery Network to deliver its static content such as pictures, helping Mashable load much faster. Try it on your site now, and get a 25% discount with this coupon code: mashable.

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Eventbrite is an online events marketplace where tens of thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations of all sizes manage, promote and sell tickets to their events. Make your event a success on Eventbrite.

Eventbrite sponsors Mashable’s weekly social media and marketing event guide. Follow Eventbrite on Twitter and Facebook.


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Intridea is an application development consultancy specializing in Ruby on Rails and mobile development, and has worked with many Fortune 500 companies and funded startups. Visit intridea.com or call 1-888-968-IDEA (4332).

Intridea has created the official Mashable apps for platforms including Android, iPad, and the Mac App Store. Follow Intridea on Twitter and Facebook.


Webtrends founded the web analytics industry in 1993. Today, its leadership extends much further to social media measurement, paid-search optimization and connecting the online and offline data silos scattered throughout organizations. Webtrends helps you analyze the data generated by your web site, blogs, online campaigns and enterprise systems to understand your customers and, ultimately, business opportunities.

Follow Webtrends on Twitter and Facebook.


Since 2007 W3 EDGE has assisted with creative, web development, and search and social media marketing for Mashable.com and its other web properties and projects. Day-to-day maintenance and support is handled by Frederick Townes and his W3 EDGE team.

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Rackspace Hosting is the world’s leader in the hosting and cloud computing industry. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support® to its customers across a portfolio of IT services. For more information, visit rackspace.com.

Mashable.com is hosted on Rackspace, and Rackspace sponsors Mashable’s Web Development Series. Check it out here, and follow Rackspace on Twitter.


iStockphoto offers easy, affordable inspiration with millions of safe, royalty-free photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash® files. Browse the best stock library of royalty free content at prices anyone can afford. Mashable readers save 10%.

Mashable sources many of its photos from iStockphoto. Follow iStockphoto on Twitter and Facebook.


Dyn Inc. is a world leader in managed DNS, powering the best brands on the web including Gowalla, Mashable, Twitter, Wikia and more. For more information about Dyn Inc., visit www.dyn.com, e-mail hello@dyn.com or call +1-603-668-4998.

Mashable provides exclusive content on Dyn.com. Check it out here, and follow Dyn on Twitter and Facebook.


ConcentricSky offers web and mobile development with a focus on emerging technologies. With partners ranging from National Geographic and Encyclopedia Britannica to NASA and The World Bank, Concentric Sky is known for delivering innovative, world-class software solutions.

Concentric Sky is the only App Developer officially endorsed by Mashable. Learn more here, and follow ConcentricSky on Twitter.


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WikiLeaks Reveals Pollution Issues in China

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 07:09 AM PDT


The latest batch of diplomatic cables unearthed by WikiLeaks reveals China’s failure to measure certain pollution levels and the government’s silence about the issue.

Several newly revealed cables, dating from 2006, show that certain types of air pollution aren’t measured at all in China and that the Chinese government has ignored alarming findings from academics and scientists.

“Air pollution in China has grown so bad that Chinese officials are acknowledging the challenge it presents, and various foreign scholars are offering alarming statistics about the financial and health costs it brings. … However, fine particle (PM2.5) pollution — which is deemed to be of highest concern for public health — is not measured,” a cable dated Aug. 16, 2006, claims.

Another cable reveals that the levels of ozone (O3) in the Chinese province of Guangdong were at one point extremely high. And another cable comments on the findings of scientists in that same province who were feeling pressured not to come forward with the issue.

“Despite potential retaliation, scholars and scientists appear willing to continue to speak their minds and put some public pressure on the authorities. While progress towards pollutant emission reduction is possible, rapid change is not likely,” the same cable concludes.

China has been praised in recent years for its efforts to reduce air pollution. The International Olympic Committee said the country had done “everything humanly possible” to clear Beijing’s air ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games. And the Chinese government has recently promised to include ozone measurements in its pollution index.

However, some recent reports on China’s pollution measurement standards show that the country still has work to do before it solves its pollution problem.

[via The Guardian]

More About: china, pollution, wikileaks

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Pandora Now Represents 3.6% of All Radio Listening in U.S.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 07:00 AM PDT


In its first earnings announcement as a publicly traded company, Pandora revealed that its Internet radio service now accounts for approximately 3.6% of all radio listening in the U.S.

That's based on the roughly 1.8 billion hours its 100+ million users spent listening to the service during the second quarter, which was up 125% from the same period in the previous year. The 3.6% share was double what the company reported during Q2 2010, and up from 2.3% at the start of this year.

Pandora's usage growth helped fuel strong financial results for the company, which reported second quarter revenue of $67 million, up 117% year-over-year. Of that revenue, $58.3 million came from advertising. Half of that advertising was generated via ads on mobile devices.

Speaking of the latter achievement, CEO Joe Kennedy offered in a statement, "Pandora’s mobile advertising revenue for the first time comprised approximately half of total advertising revenue as we lead the way in the nascent but fast growing mobile advertising market. Pandora continues to grow our market share of U.S. radio as we fundamentally transform one of the last forms of traditional media.”

Investors seem to be reacting favorably to Pandora's announcement, which included a revenue forecast of $270 million to $275 million for all of 2011. Shares of the company were up nearly 7% in early trading on the NYSE on Friday morning.

More About: music, pandora, trending

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