Sunday, 14 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 7 News Updates - including “40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed”

Mashable: Latest 7 News Updates - including “40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed”

40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 03:16 PM PDT

TGIWeekend! Now that you have a spare moment to catch up on your pleasure reading, prop up your feet to this week’s features roundup.

This week we gave some love to LinkedIn, demonstrating how to optimize the service for your job hunt. We examined the ethics surrounding government social media censorship. And we studied the effects of computer vision syndrome.

Heavy stuff, huh? Not to worry! We’ve also collected photo-inspired iPhone cases and taken washing machines to the digital age — the perfect balance of insightful and quirky resources to top off your week. Happy reading!

Editors’ Picks

Detailed Renderings Revealed: Apple’s Flying Saucer HQ [PICS]

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 02:19 PM PDT

Apple’s architects were just teasing us in June when they gave us a peek at the company’s new circular headquarters planned for Cupertino. Now, a group of idyllic renderings has surfaced, offering a more detailed look at what we call the AppleSaucer, officially called “Apple Campus 2.”

The 2.8 million-square-foot four-story workplace for 12,000 Apple employees will contain a 1,000-seat auditorium, 300,000 square feet of research facilities, a couple of levels of underground parking in the circular structure, as well as an external four-story parking structure. Best of all, it will run mostly off the grid, using its own “energy center” as its power source, using the conventional power grid as a backup.

The building will be enshrouded in huge pieces of curved glass. When originally presenting this to the City of Cupertino, Steve Jobs said, “We’ve used our experience making retail buildings all over the world now, and we know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural use.” Perhaps those enormous new pieces of glass Apple’s installing at its Fifth Avenue store will be a warm-up for this grand finale.

Beyond the renderings in the gallery below, Macrumors points us to PDFs (Intro, site plan/landscaping, floor plans, renderings) you can download from that reveal even more details.

Steve Jobs says the groundbreaking for this magnificent flying-saucer-like edifice is planned for next year, with completion scheduled for 2015. Will this 360-degree circular behemoth be the new 1 Infinite Loop?

Approaching the AppleSaucer

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

the blue areas are offices, the white rectangles are air and light shafts, The pink areas are dining and amenities facilities, and the cream-colored areas are entrance cores.

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

Apple's Flying Saucer HQ

More About: apple, Apple HQ, Applesaucer, Flying Saucer, trending

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Interactive YouTube Video Lets You Control Skateboarder’s Tricks [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 01:04 PM PDT

This interactive YouTube video lets you instantly skip from one segment to the next, deciding exactly what you’ll see and when you’ll see it. Using keyboard keys 4 through 9, you can replay the skateboard tricks, skip others, and create your own rhythmic masterpieces on the fly.

The promotional YouTube video, dreamed up by the Interactive Marketing Team at Coca-Cola Germany for Sprite Zero, minimizes branding because its creators “wanted the focus to be on the content and the interactivity.” They added, “This sort of video is quite different from what we at Coca-Cola usually do, in terms of ‘edginess’ and branding.”

Shot in Berlin in early August, the spot’s production team gave us this exclusive first look for North America before the video goes live next week. We think it’s exceptionally well done, and were amused by the excellent audio track, arty shooting, and the responsiveness of the “skipping” function.

Nice video, but will it sell more sugar water?

More About: coca cola, Interactive Marketing, video, youtube

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5 Free iPhone Apps to Send a Photo Postcard

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 12:01 PM PDT

Writing and sending postcards is a traditional vacation ritual and, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, can cost you no more than a little time and energy.

Don’t be forced to choose among cheesy print postcards at your vacation destination — use your own iPhone photos with one of these fabulous, free apps that creates electronic postcards you can email.

While your dear old grandma may still prefer a card of the paper variety, next time you’re on a trip away from home, why not drop a line to your friends, family and colleagues using one of these apps?

1. SodaSnap

SodaSnap offers a simple app interface that matches the simplicity of the final product. To get started, choose an image. You can either select a photo from your iPhone's camera roll, snap a pic of your surroundings, or use your location.

Using your location brings up the maps app from which you can screengrab. This doesn't make the most compelling picture postcard, but it may be a useful tool for meetings and invitations.

Once you're happy with your image, you can add text and hit the "Share" button. The way the app is designed, it's pretty much what you see is what you get, so you'll have a good idea of what the recipient will see in the inbox. As well as email, there are options to share to Twitter and Facebook.

2. Photocards

The Photocards app allows you to snap a pic or grab one from your camera roll. When you've sized the photo to fit the frame, you can choose a background.

The available backgrounds display classic stock photography — the sky, greenery, sand, landscapes, etc. — but the pleasant surprise is that the images are actually decent quality. The not-so-pleasant surprise is that you have to pay for some of them.

With your background and picture in place, it's just a matter of penning a few lines before emailing your creation.

3. Montager

Montager is a little different because it acts as more of a photography tool. However, we really like that it lets you get creative with your pics.

It offers a number of templates that allow you juxtapose three images into a mini-montage. You simply double-tap the empty space you want to fill, and then create your triptych either on-the-fly with photos taken with the iPhone's camera, or from pics saved to the camera roll.

Although there's no built-in text options, you can email from within the app, so add your message there.

4. Current Postcards

Once you've snapped a photo or grabbed one from your camera roll, the Current Postcards app lets you select a font (a big bonus in our book) before opening the theme gallery.

Themes categories include Birthday, Special Events, Holidays, Everyday or Just For Fun. While we'd struggle to pick a theme from most of the clipart-esque options, the simple postcard in the "Everyday" category (as seen above) is quite classic.

You can send your Current Postcards creations via email or post to Facebook.

5. Postino

Creating a postcard with the Postino app is a four-step process. First upload a photo from your camera roll or capture one anew with your iPhone.

Next write the message, and then you're onto the really fun step — adding your signature.

You can scrawl your John Hancock on your iPhone screen with your finger. We think this would be a really nice touch if you're sending postcards with a child — although, if your finger writing skills are as rubbish as ours, your signature may end up looking like a child's anyway!

Once you've added that personal touch, email your postcard.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Steve Moses

More About: app store, apple, iphone, iphone apps, iphotography, List, photography

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Review: Microsoft Touchmouse Feels Just Right [PICS]

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 10:51 AM PDT

Let’s imagine Microsoft two years ago, gazing longingly at Apple’s just-released Magic Mouse and wondering how Microsoft might jump into the buttonless mouse game. Cut to the present day, and the Redmond giant has released Touchmouse, specifically created for Windows 7. How does it measure up? We have one in our hands and put it through its paces.

After plugging in Touchmouse’s thumbnail-sized wireless dongle and inserting its batteries, it was ready to go, its software installed automatically. Following a beautifully produced introductory practice session, in a few minutes I had learned the intuitive multi-touch gestures that make Touchmouse work.

It’s so easy to use, there’s hardly anything to learn. Swipe down with three fingers, and all your windows are minimized; do the opposite and they’re all laid out so you can choose one. Swipe down with two fingers and the window you’re working on is minimized, and vice versa. You can also scroll left or right, say, on an Excel spreadsheet, by moving your finger in the direction desired.

An elegant addition: When you perform any of these multi-touch swipe moves, they’re accompanied by an attractive mini-animation next to your cursor, showing little blue representations of your fingertips moving, complete with misty blue trails that fade away. It’s a hint of how well-integrated the drivers are with Windows 7.

Those gestures are all useful, but the Touchmouse’s best trick is its scrolling, giving you iPhone-like smooth slides up and down long webpages. You can smoothly scroll in tiny precision increments, and with a quick flick of one finger, zip through multiple pages in an instant. This is as good as scroll control gets.

The hardest thing for me to get used to was clicking on the left or right mouse areas without any actual buttons involved. When you click with this Touchmouse, the entire front of the mouse leans forward. It feels slightly awkward at first, but I noticed that awkward feeling going away after a few minutes.

Easier to get used to are the thumb gestures, where a quick swipe of your thumb toward the right jumps forward on a webpage (or does whatever you’d like to configure it to do), and a similar gesture toward the left with your thumb can let you jump backward to a previous page. This can be configured for lefties, too. If your thumb naturally wanders around your mouse from time to time, you might have slight difficulty with accidental activations of this, but that was not a big issue for me.

Perhaps the most important attribute of the Touchmouse is the way it feels in your hand. Accustomed to Logitech devices that are designed to be a bit taller in the palm, I think this low-slung Microsoft mouse is just the right shape. Microsoft is a longtime expert in mouse ergonomics, and continues its tradition with this product. However, all hands are different, so I’d suggest putting your mitts on one in the real world before you commit to spending your hard-earned $67.

Finally, just look at the mysterious sculptural allure of the Microsoft Touchmouse. Its beauty goes much more than skin deep. Unlike Apple’s Magic Mouse, the magic in Microsoft’s Touchmouse is embodied in how perfectly it fits your hand and how well its gestural software works with Windows 7. Its aesthetics are a matter of taste, but I found its voluptuous shape and the embossed “X” motif of its sensor area quite captivating. Take a look at our gallery below and see if you agree:

No Buttons

The small X markers are slightly raised, showing you where the sensor area is.

Blue Track

It works on a variety of surfaces.

Front View

The dividing line shows you where the border is between left-click and right-click.

Rear View

The Microsoft logo is appropriately unobtrusive.

Ambidextrous Shape

Configurable for left- or right-handed users

Ergonomic Profile

This turns out to be the perfect shape for a mouse in my hand -- your results may vary.

More About: microsoft, review, touchmouse, trending

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New Facebook Feature Shows You Your Old Status Updates From 2010 & 2009

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 09:43 AM PDT

The world’s largest social network is getting nostalgic. Facebook has quietly rolled out a new feature that displays status updates you posted exactly one or two years ago.

The feature appears as a small box in the right-hand column above the advertising, either titled “On This Day in 2010″ or “On This Day in 2009.” We’ve typically found that the “On This Day” box appears while you’re browsing a photo album. This is how I found out, for example, that I had a terrible day on August 13, 2010.

You can also click the “Show More” button to see more status updates from exactly one or two years ago, if you posted multiple status updates on those days. The feature only seems to go back to 2009. That makes sense — Facebook just didn’t have a lot of users in 2008 or 2007.

Based on a search of public Facebook and Twitter status updates, we believe the feature began rolling out in a limited test on August 11. More and more users started noticing in the last twelve hours, though. This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried to help uses discover their past activity on Facebook. It also has a feature for surfacing photos from your past.

We’re not sure if Facebook thinks of these nostalgic features as just fun little additions to the product, or whether they serve a purpose. Perhaps Facebook wants to remind its users that they have invested years of their lives into their product, so perhaps they shouldn’t switch to something new. Or perhaps its just another one of Facebook’s many product engagement tools.

Has Facebook been reminding you of status updates from your past? Let us know what you’ve been seeing in the comments.

More About: facebook, On This Day In, trending

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3 New Ways To Create & Consume Media

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 08:44 AM 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.

Each weekend, Mashable hand-picks startups we think are building interesting, unique or niche products.

This week, we’ve rounded up startups that have put new spins on content creation and consumption.

Clipik uses a database of freelance editors to turn your home videos and old photos into movies, Mind The Book recommends reads in a novel way and lets you create a music video playlist from your Twitter account.

Clipik Video

Quick Pitch: Clipik turns your home video and photos into one downloadable movie.

Genius Idea: Employing freelance video artists to create polished movies at a low price.

Mashable’s Take: There are are three standard paths for creating a keepsake movie to showcase stacks of home videos or chronicle an event like a wedding. The first, is to be a movie editor. The second, is to hire a movie editor. And the third is to feed your media to an automatic editing program like Animoto. These paths are respectfully unlikely, expensive and somewhat limited in design.

By using a database of freelancers, Clipik provides relatively high-quality videos like the one above that can include both video and photos for between $49 and $199. Users just upload their media and describe what they want done with it.

It’s like a Demand Media of home videos — not professional, polished, award-winning stuff, but perfectly passable for the purpose it serves.

Mind The Book

Quick Pitch: A book discovery site structured around questions like “How to be happy?”

Genius Idea: Organizing book recommendations in a new format.

Mashable’s Take: If you read with a purpose, Mind The Book makes a good discovery platform. It frames recommendations around questions such as “How to lose weight?,” “How to be a good father?” and “How to make money on the internet?”

Users can submit book suggestions as answers to each of these questions and vote other answers up or down. This works well if your reading habits follow this line of thought.

If you have a different sort of question in mind when selecting literature, for instance, “What’s a well-written, worthwhile book?,” the platform is less helpful.

Whichever camp you fall into, it’s worth checking out. The site’s database is still suffering from its newness, but it’s hard not to appreciate the idea.

Quick Pitch: turns your music tweets into a live video broadcast by matching songs to their YouTube videos.

Genius Idea: Easy curation and sharing of personal playlists.

Mashable’s Take: Creating a playlist on can be done without ever visiting the site. Just tweet the title of a song along with the hashtag #nowplaying, and matches it with a YouTube video and adds it to your Queue. Sort and order playlists when you have time, and then share or embed them anywhere.

It’s also easy to browse playlists from popular “TweeJs” or from tweeters in specific cities and add songs from them to your own playlist — or to tweet them out with a link.

The site launched in June with the name mTweeV, but changed the name after MTV wasn’t a fan.

It’s no pioneer in creating social playlists, but the tweet-to-add a song feature is a fun spin and a smart way for the service to introduce itself to new users.

More About: bizspark, Clipik, Mind the book,, spark-of-genius, Startup Weekend Roundup

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This Week in Politics & Digital: Iowa Straw Poll Edition

Posted: 13 Aug 2011 07:33 AM PDT

republican image

Republicans are gearing up for a fight at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. It’s often seen as a preliminary barometer on which candidates are really in the running and which should duck out.

Social media is also getting ready. Google launched a digital soapbox and released some search stats, plus a new site has popped up dedicated to tracking the presidential fight on Twitter. This is the Week in Politics & Digital.

Google Creates Digital Soapbox

Google has paired with The Iowa Republican to create a digital soapbox at the Ames Straw Poll this weekend. Google will have a tent set up where candidates, elected officials and everyday Republicans can have their voices heard on key issues. Videos filmed at that tent will then be posted onto The Iowa Republican‘s YouTube channel.

Michele Bachmann Leads in Google’s Search Study

bachmann image

Google did some digging to see which candidates and topics are trending ahead of the Ames Straw Poll. The Google Public Sector and Elections Lab found that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is the most-searched announced candidate in Iowa right now by a huge margin. She kept that lead even when compared against search for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the soon-to-announce Texas Gov. Rick Perry. However, Perry is the current leader in search terms on a national scale. The most-searched issue coming out of Iowa (and in the rest of the country) is jobs, by a large margin.

Stay tuned if these change after the poll or after Perry officially announces his presidential bid.

Keep Track of the 2012 Fight on Twitter

tweets image

Golnik Strategies and P2B Strategies recently launched, a comprehensive web portal aggregating all things Twitter in the run-up to the 2012 election. There are RSS-like feeds of Twitter updates divided by “Press and Pundits,” “Candidates and Staff” and “Grassroots.” There is also a breakdown for each Republican candidate with basic biographical info, links to their social profiles and online listings for their staff members.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Vince_Lamb

More About: 2012 election, politics, social media, week in digital politics

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