Monday, 12 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 12 News Updates - including “Amazon Working on a Netflix for Books [REPORT]”

Mashable: Latest 12 News Updates - including “Amazon Working on a Netflix for Books [REPORT]”


Amazon Working on a Netflix for Books [REPORT]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 03:11 AM PDT


Amazon is planning to launch a service that would offer customers access to a library of books for a fixed monthly fee, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Amazon is reportedly in talks with publishers about the service, but it’s unclear how far the project has progressed, as some publishers aren’t too happy with the idea.

The details about the project are scarce, but it appears that the library would primarily contain older works with restrictions on how many books a user can access each month. The service would also be available to subscribers of Amazon Prime, a membership program that gives users free shipping and access to movies and TV shows for $79 per year.

Amazon has been on a roll this year, having launched Amazon Prime in February and a subsidized version of Kindle in May. The retail giant reported a 51% jump in revenues for Q2 2011 and the fastest growth in a decade.

The company is also rumored to launch a 7-inch tablet, which might become a very serious competitor to Apple’s iPad, according to some analysts.

[via WSJ]

More About: amazon, books, library, netflix

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Mashable Weekend Recap: 23 Stories You May Have Missed

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 02:01 AM PDT


It was a weekend of somber reflection as we remembered the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. We found a useful app for the occasion and remembered how the web covered that tragic day.

As we covered the news of our national day of remembrance, we found plenty of other happier news at the same time, with a variety of stories from the world of social media, digital tech and gadgets galore.

The best news is, you won’t miss a thing, because we’ve gathered it all together for you all in one place, right here:

News & Opinion Essentials

Carol Bartz Resigns From Yahoo Board of Directors

What the Front Pages of the Web Looked Like on 9/11/2001

Oscar de la Renta to Crowdsource Runway Coverage Live on Tumblr

This Week in Politics & Digital: The Constitution Goes Facebook

How Are You Commemorating 9/11 in Your Online Communities? [OPEN THREAD]

Hacked NBC News Twitter Account Issues False Reports of Ground Zero Plane Crash

How the Media Is Using Digital Tech to Tell the Story of 9/11

Sims Social Zooms Past FarmVille to Become Number 2 Game on Facebook

Sprint Cancels Store Leave, Confirms iPhone 5 Launch Window [REPORT]

Facebook Fail: Posting via Other Apps Can Cut Likes & Comments by 88% [STUDY]

Helpful Resources

4 Successful and Creative Facebook Contests

3 New Takes On Digital Books, ID Cards and Shopping

35 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

3 Ways to Commemorate 9/11 By Giving Back Online

Weekend Leisure

Twitter Parodies: 9 Top Literary Fakes

Razer Mamba Review: Is This the Best Mouse Ever? [PICS]

YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"

Go Mono: 3 iPhone Apps For Black & White iPhotography [PICS]

Peugeot's Future Car is Called "World's First Diesel Hybrid" [PICS]

10 Excellent Pairs of Earphones With a Designer Touch

What's the Deal With Daily Deals? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Create & Send Real Postcards From Your iPhone — No Address Required [PICS]

Share Your Memories of The Internet in 1996 [OPEN THREAD]

More About: Weekend recap

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Twitter Parodies: 9 Top Literary Fakes

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 07:05 PM PDT

It might be considered surprising that a platform that limits its users to 140 characters has so many literary-themed accounts. Our favorite of these are the parody accounts, spoofing famous authors from beyond the grave.

For the purposes of entertainment and inspiration, we’ve pulled together our best-of selection. Although there are many accounts that just push out the written word of authors, we’ve focussed on those that comment and engage using a particular author’s voice.

SEE ALSO: Top Fictional Accounts | Top Fake Celebs | Top Social Media & Tech Spoofs

Take a look through the slideshow below for our favorites and suggest in the comments any we’ve missed. We’ll add the best suggestion in as the tenth slide.


1. Jonathan Swift





You might expect some tales of merry adventure from Gulliver's Travels author Jonathan Swift, but this Swift is more concerned with where his next gin is coming from, the antics of his whippet and the unseemly behavior of his constant companion Stella. Written in olde English, following this account will bring such vocab delights as "periwigtastrophe" to your stream.


2. Charles Dickens




This account manages to get the balance between a character voice and modern commentary spot on: "If I wrote Great Expectations in the year 2011, young Pip would desire to be famous, rather than a gentleman. Fame is the new class." Polite interactions with other period characters and elegantly phrased comments on London life in general should keep you amused.


3. Walt Whitman




With a huge beard, even larger appetite and out-spoken opinions, Whitman is a larger-than-life character. Not one to follow if you're easily offended, but if you're not, you'll enjoy this sometimes surreal stream as much as we do.


4. Laura Ingalls Wilder




Wendy McClure's Wilder is a true Twitter treasure. Offering amusing commentary about domestic life on the prairie, we'd like to think the Little House series author would have enjoyed these witty "Twittergraphs" sent over the wires in her honor.


5. Edgar Allan Poe




With more than 24,000 followers, it seems many of you are already tuned into Poe's brand of marvellous macabre humor. Poe's darkly funny standalone tweets are something to look forward to, but his #askpoe sessions are even funnier still.


6. Alexander Pope




This account continues Pope's line of satirical verse with 140-character comic rhymes on contemporary topics that will make you groan. Don't believe us? Try "Hath Peter FALK at least felt HADES' Sting? / 'Tis no use asking DEATH for 'one more thing'."


7. James Boswell




With ready opinion on modern British "politicks" and media and -- when he's left babysitting two small children, news from the home front that usually involves "VILE EXCRESENCES" from various orifices -- Boswell is a mixed bag of fun to follow.


8. Samuel Johnson




You can also find the subject of James Boswell's famous biography on Twitter. Samuel Johnson offers hilarious commentary on current events in an 18th century tongue. Johnson appears bemused by modern life ("The prominent Persons 'pon the Video Music Awards do sport opaque Eye-Glasses & wave their Hands as if afflicted by PALSY") making for witty tweets.


9. William Shakespeare




The Bard is big on Twitter. In addition to accounts offering his works in 140-character bursts, there are several spoof accounts. While you should also check out Mr_Shakespeare and Wwm_Shakespeare, we felt this particular parody account worthy of featuring -- if not just for the fantastic tweet shown above.


10. ?????




Have a favorite we haven't mentioned? Make your suggestion in the comments below for the tenth account to feature on this list. Remember we're focussing on active accounts that engage in the author's voice, rather than just publish previous works.

Image courtesy of takomabibelot

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, joecicak

More About: gallery, Lists, parody, spoofs, trending, twitter, Twitter Lists

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Carol Bartz Resigns From Yahoo Board of Directors

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 05:30 PM PDT


After saying she wouldn’t step down from Yahoo’s board of directors, Carol Bartz has resigned from the board.

Bartz’s role as CEO ended abruptly Tuesday when she was ousted from the position she’d held for less than three years. In an interview with Fortune later in the week, she made it clear she intended to stay on the company’s board. In the interview, she called its members “doofuses” and said they “f***ed me over.”

SEE ALSO: AOL Eyes Merger With Yahoo [REPORT]

It appears she is no longer among them, though. According to multiple reports, Bartz’s last day on the board was Friday.

[via Bloomberg]

More About: carol bartz, Yahoo

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Addicted to Angry Birds? Here’s Help [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 03:07 PM PDT

As we continue to work through our Angry Birds addiction, this playful infographic offers some consolation. We’re not alone in our attraction to flinging the flying fowl, but would like some answers, and this infographic is happy to oblige with lots of solid research.

Why can’t we stop playing this game that started on iPhone and now keeps spreading like wildfire on multiple platforms? Why is it so darn fun? The expert market researchers at AYTM (who aren’t affiliated with Angry Birds creator Rovio in any way) consulted psychologists and dug into boatloads of statistics to find the answers:


Angry Birds infographic courtesy AYTM

More About: angry birds, Gaming, infographics, trending

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Oscar de la Renta to Crowdsource Runway Coverage Live on Tumblr

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 02:05 PM PDT


Thanks largely to improvements in mobile technology as well as the influx of photo-hungry fashion bloggers, more fashion show attendees than ever are snapping and uploading runway shots in real time to the web.

This Tuesday, American fashion designer Oscar de la Renta will leverage this trend to create a new kind of online presentation of his Spring 2012 collection at odlrlive.tumblr.com.

The page will display all photos uploaded to Tumblr with the tag #odlrlive in real-time, generating live show coverage from editors, bloggers, models and viewers at home. At 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday (9/13), a livestream of the show will play in the middle of the page as photos continue to populate the background.

It’s an inventive initiative that sets Oscar de la Renta’s online show apart from every other livestream this season, bringing together all of the scattered coverage the show is sure to merit across Tumblr, and involving both the brand’s offline and online audience in the creation of what is designed to be a unique, kaleidoscopic record of the event.

There is a risk, of course, that the page will be littered with spam. When previewing the page shortly after it went live on Friday, three of the five pictures were of stuffed or felt animals (since removed). Rest assured that Tumblr’s internal team will be monitoring the page closely.

More About: fashion, nyfw, oscar de la renta, tumblr

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Razer Mamba Review: Is This the Best Mouse Ever? [PICS]

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 01:19 PM PDT


Razer calls its Mamba mouse the “first true wireless gaming mouse.” Released this summer, the 2012 model of the Mamba retails for $130, and that made me wonder: Would a mouse that costs this much be significantly better than any I’ve ever tested? Let’s try it.

One look at the elaborate packaging of the Razer Mamba made me raise a couple of eyebrows. It’s simply the fanciest packaging I’ve ever seen on any product. You have to see it in our gallery below to believe it, but suffice to say it’s like a jewelry display case where the mouse is put up on a pedestal for all to see. Thankfully, after removing one piece of tape it was easy to extricate the Mamba from its luxuriant confines.

This mouse works in both wired and wireless modes, and it includes an attractive charging dock with backlighting encircling its base and illuminating its pairing button. The included mini USB cable plugs into either the dock or underneath the mouse, where it can be securely attached using a clever switch. The mouse can be charged either as it rests on the dock or when it’s attached directly to the USB cable. That’s good, because you can keep playing in wired mode if you’ve depleted the mouse’s battery power.

Once I charged the mouse for 5 hours, which Razer says will last 14 continuous hours (or 72 hours of normal use, says Razer), I picked up the Razer Mamba, and as soon as I began mousing around, it became evident that I was using an extraordinary pointing device. Its solid construction and hard rubber top, as well as its super-slick feet and both laser and infrared sensors demonstrated that Razer had left no stone unturned.

After installing the Mamba 2012 driver (which, gratefully, didn’t involve an old-fashioned CD but a quick download instead), I was graced with a device with almost limitless configurability. You can assign whichever function you’d like to its seven buttons, and create macros within macros. These features are getting to be standard for most gaming mice these days, and are well appreciated.

Beyond that, the Mamba lets you store five profiles on its internal memory, which are (rather slowly) loaded onto the Mac or PC when you launch its configuration app. Not only can you tweak its resolution up to 6400dpi (using buttons on the mouse or this config app), but in the software you can adjust the color of its backlighting, and your preferences are applied to lights on both the mouse wheel and the charging dock. I especially like the color-cycling setting, and the way the dock’s slowly fading and brightening backlighting looks like it’s breathing as it charges the mouse, reminding me of another Razer gaming mouse I liked, the Naga Molten Special Edition.

As feature-packed as the Razer Mamba is, you probably want to know, how does it feel to use it? First of all, it’s a good thing I’m right-handed because this mouse wouldn’t work as well if I were a lefty. Other than its left- and right-click buttons and wheel, the thumb buttons are all on the left side, so southpaws might find that awkward.

The left and right-click buttons feel just right, and only require the lightest of touches. It took a little getting used to at first, but soon I appreciated their sensitivity, with their delicate click sound and soft touch that made it easy to navigate around with sure accuracy. I found the mouse’s asymmetrical shape the perfect fit for my medium-sized hand. Overall, it feels just perfect.

Gamers might be concerned that this is a wireless mouse, and I spent lots of time comparing the difference between the mouse’s responsiveness in wireless versus wired mode. I found the wireless and wired modes identical, with no lag whatsoever in either. Razer’s claim of a 1 millisecond response time (compared with the 8 milliseconds of typical mice) feels credible. Indeed, Razer’s boast of this being “the first true wireless gaming mouse” might find some argument from other brands, but if you want to play games with a wireless mouse, you can feel confident with this weapon in your hand.

If you’re serious about gaming, or you want the most precise pointing device in the world, the Razer Mamba is an excellent choice. Is it worth $130? Well, I would look for it on sale, but if only the highest precision is acceptable to you and you like fancy backlighting and lag-free wireless response, you’ll get your money’s worth. To answer my question I asked at the beginning of this review: It’s simply the best mouse I’ve ever tested.


Fanciest packaging ever




The green Razer logo you see is not on the mouse, but is a decal on the transparent plastic packaging.


Good shape for medium sized hands, might be awkward for lefties





Asymmetrical shape





Unlike other Razer mice, this logo isn't backlit





Forward/back buttons in the center of this pic, two sensitivity buttons on the left





Right side view





Front view





Bottom view, wireless mode




Notice the laser sensor, and the smaller infrared sensor to the left


Bottom view, wired mode





Plugging in the USB cable





Charging dock





Charging dock, back side





Assign buttons here





Performance tweaking





Store 5 profiles





Macro storage





Lighting and power adjustments




More About: Gaming Mouse, Razer Mamba, review, trending

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4 Successful and Creative Facebook Contests

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 12:22 PM PDT


This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Years ago, if a marketer wanted to run a contest, he'd have to run print ads and hope that people would take the time to fill out an entry form and then mail it in. The Internet made things easier, but you still assumed that consumers would somehow find their way to your website.

Facebook adds another layer of ease to the process: Consumers are already there doing something else. If the promotion looks interesting enough, filling out an online form isn't that big a deal. Rodney Mason, the chief marketing officer of promotions agency Moosylvania, says Facebook-only promotions have a lot of advantages. "One would be the ease of use," he says. "You can also connect with people who’ve already opted in for past promotions, and everybody’s on there all the time."

But Facebook didn’t just add ease of use to contests, it totally changed the motivation behind entering them. Nowadays, the prize seems secondary. The main appeal of Facebook contests is to communicate something about yourself.

These four highlighted contest campaigns illustrate this. In each case, users get more out the program than a gift certificate or whatever the nominal prize is: They also get a forum to define themselves to like-minded people. Maybe the best prize you can offer these days is bragging rights.


1. Contiki Vacations’ "Get on the Bus" Promotion


Travel companies have a natural advantage when it comes to promotions because, after all, planning a vacation is often half the fun. Planning a free vacation is even more fun. Contiki, a travel firm that caters to the 18-35 year-old demo, dropped a promotion in mid-February that let winter-weary web surfers imagine their perfect vacation. The winner got one of eight vacations worth around $25,000. The promotion harkened back to Contiki’s roots — in 1961, a young New Zealander named John Anderson arrived in London for a European journey. Lacking money and friends, he came up with a clever plan: He put a deposit on a minibus and found a group of people to travel with him. After the trip was over, Anderson tried to sell the minibus, but no one wanted to buy it, so he advertised the European trip again and Contiki Holidays was born.

Accordingly, the "Get on the Bus" promo challenged fans to get a crew with four friends together, choose a trip and then try to get as many votes as possible in order to win. Yes, that’s right, votes not Likes. Bob Troia, CEO of Affinitive, the agency that created the promo, says just as the program was launching, Facebook changed its policy about the use of Likes, which prompted the use of votes instead. Nevertheless, the effort, which ran from February 23 through March 31, garnered 8,000 Likes for Contiki and generated more than 10 million ad impressions through Facebook shares, Likes, tweets and blog coverage. One reason for the success was a feature that let users and their friends create a bus, which incorporated music, movies, Likes and interests that users had in common via their Facebook profiles. Says Troia: "We wanted to go beyond ‘enter and win’ and create an experience."


2. Maybelline’s “Show Us Your Red Lips”


More proof that consumers are looking for experiences as well as prizes: Maybelline New York ran a promo for its Super Stay24h lipstick in Switzerland that offered the chance to be the face of the product on the Facebook Page in Switzerland. Despite that modest payoff, the promotion got 183 responses in three weeks. Part of the reason was that the contest was pretty easy to enter: All you had to do was take a picture of your lips. A lot more people — 9,000 — voted in the contest than entered it, leading to a dramatic jump in the product’s Facebook fans. Before the contest, the Page had 3,000 fans, but when it was over, there were 13,000. Perhaps you don’t need a huge prize to lure contestants, just the chance to strut one’s stuff before some peers.


3. Coca-Cola’s “The Recycling King”


For whatever reason, Israel seems to be on the cutting edge of location-based Facebook promotions. First there was the Coca-Cola Amusement Park promo in Israel last summer that let kids “like” park attractions by checking in using RFID-enabled bracelets, and now there’s the Recycling King program. Give Coke and agency Publicis E-Dologic an A for effort: The two tracked down every recycling bin in the country (there are 10,000 or so) and registered them on Facebook Places. Users them competed to see who was the “Recycling King,” by checking in to the most bins. The program proved to be popular. Users uploaded more than 26,000 pictures of themselves recycling, and there were more than 250,000 checkins.


4. Blocket.se’s “The Funniest Classified Ad on Blocket”


Let’s face it, Swedes aren’t known for their sense of humor. To Americans at least, the country summons images of black-and-white Ingmar Bergman films and disposable furniture. But apparently, the Swedish populace likes a joke as much as, say, the Finns. Realizing this, Blocket.se, the Craigslist of Sweden, ran a contest for “The funniest classified ad on Blocket.” The contest sought real ads, which users could submit by uploading an image. Blocket’s jury chose 20 finalists, and then Facebook users could vote for their favorite among the list and follow the results.

Thanks to the rib-tickling stunt, the site received 31,000 new fans in 18 days, and 34,000 people installed the Blocket app. The winner? An ad for a Volvo that had been driven into a ditch. The seller wanted the buyer to retrieve it from the ditch. Oh, those Swedes!

More About: coca cola, Contests, facebook, MARKETING, trending

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YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 11:12 AM PDT

Each week, Mashable picks a popular song, finds 10 covers of it and asks you to vote for your favorite.


Every year since 1985, Billboard has named a song of the summer, and this year the coveted title goes to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” an infectious dance hit that has accumulated more than 195 million views on YouTube.

It’s no surprise that fans of the song shuffled their way in front of cameras to record covers of the tune. Vote for your favorite rendition in the poll below.

And if you know any YouTube cover artists who should be on our radar, please let us know in the comments.


Tyler Ward



Kimmi Smiles, Maribelle Anes & Louna Maroun



Karmin



TheSpaceDragons



Chloe T



Janet And The Hunt



Abdul Thaqif



Walk off the Earth & All About Maggie



Tim Whybrow



Pandora's Box



LMFAO


To listen to more covers used in past YouTube Cover Song Face-Offs, click here.



Last Week’s Face-Off Winner


The well-executed cover of Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had” from Josh Rice — a.k.a. J Rice online — snagged 45% of the votes in last week’s face-off. J Rice covered the song because out of all of the tracks on Beyonce’s 4 album “this song really jumped out at me,” he told Mashable. “I think a lot of people look back at past relationships and are grateful they didn’t work out.”

Like many people who are gaining fame covering songs on YouTube, J Rice began uploading videos of himself singing in his bedroom (see video number 12 below for a clip of his first upload from 2007). Now, his videos have been viewed north of 16 million times and he has several albums on iTunes. So what’s next?

“I aspire to stay humble, while growing to be a household name,” says J Rice, who wants to perform duets with fellow YouTube heavyweights Boyce Avenue and Adele. “The best feeling is when someone connects with one of my original songs or says it helped heal them, so it would be a great feeling to do that on a bigger scale,” including doing shows overseas.

Here’s a collection of J Rice’s best covers and his latest original song, “Thank You For The Broken Heart.”


"Best Thing I Never Had" Cover by J Rice



"Skyscraper" Cover by J Rice & Jessica Sanchez



"How to Love" Lil Wayne by J Rice



"Angel" Cover by J Rice & Conor Maynard



"Jar of Hearts" Cover by J Rice



"Hold it Against Me" Cover by J Rice



"Hold My Hand" Cover by J Rice & Kurt Schneider



"Domino" Cover by J Rice



"Born This Way" Cover by J Rice



"Someone Like You" Cover by J Rice



"Thank You For The Broken Heart" Original by J Rice


http://bit.ly/CoversPART2 -- Available on iTunes! Or AMAZON: http://amzn.to/covers2 TY4TBH t-shirts now available worldwide! http://jrice.spreadshirt.com --US & Asia http://jrice.spreadshirt.net --Europe A little Background on this video: I shot this with a friend of mine who had never shot a video before. (His specialty is still photos) We spent 2 different days out in 25F degree weather. I did all the video editing. For the next music video we're planning on stepping it up and getting actors/actresses to act out the story a bit. Thanks for watching and go add my friend who shots this on facebook -- http://www.facebook.com/chipspraguephotography "The covers Vol. 1" on iTunes- http://bit.ly/JRiceTheCoversiTunes "The Covers, Vol. 1" on Amazon http://amzn.to/TheCoversVol1Amazon Download My Original music on iTunes -http://bit.ly/itunes2010 Get the same recording gear I use! - (that metal round thing) http://bit.ly/JRiceStudioGear "Thank You for the Broken Heart" Written by J Rice Produced by Big City Verse 1: everything I know about love I learned from you and everything I know about pain I learned from you you were my only you were my first you showed me lonely and you took me in when I was hurt but the most important thing you ever gave me was the one that hurt the most so... Hook: Thank you for the broken heart and thank you for the permanent scar cuz if it wasn't for you I might forget how it feels to let go how it feels to get a brand-new start Thank you for the broken heart Verse 2: I still remember when you called and said that he didn't mean anything how could you expect me to look at you the same way you were my only but not my last you showed me lonely and you made me put you in the past but the most important thing you ever gave me was the one that hurt the most so... (Hook) Bridge: and every time I find myself alone in pieces (I find myself) I'll just remember when you hurt me and I made it Chorus 2: So thank you for the broken heart And thank you for the permanent scar cuz if it wasn't for you I wouldn't be here with the love of my life all my pain disappeared I've come so far so thank you for the broken heart


"Wonderful Tonight" Cover by J Rice


What popular song should we pick next week for the YouTube Cover Song Face-Off?

More About: LMFAO, music, music videos, viral videos, youtube, YouTube Cover Song Face-Off

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3 New Takes On Digital Books, ID Cards and Shopping

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 10:18 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 chosen three new takes on established online staples: digital books, ID and shopping.

Booktrack, for instance, adds audio to digital books. Miicard provides reliable digital identity verification. And Grabio takes online classifieds local.


Booktrack: A Soundtrack for Books


Quick Pitch: Synchronized ambient sound effects for books.

Genius Idea: Technology that recognizes an individual’s reading speed and paces the soundtrack with corresponding text.

Mashable’s Take: Booktrack’s sound effects for iPad and iPhone books are designed to create a background soundscape that matches the text. Sherlock Holmes, for instance, opens with the sound of a heavy rain. At moments that match the text, there might be sounds of footsteps, an explosion or suspenseful music. A scrolling arrow keeps track of the reading speed at which the app is matching sounds to text and can be easily sped up or slowed down.

Says Booktrack founder Paul Cameron, “It makes a new and engaging way to read and really enhances the experience and enhances your imagination and keeps you in the story longer,” he recently told The New York Times.

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, the company’s lead investor, evidently agrees. HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Sony/ATV Publishing, and others have agreed to at least try the format.

Crazier concepts have succeeded, and other book platforms are experimenting with adding social networks and videos to texts — both of which are arguably even more distracting than sound.

But one thing I like about books is that they’re not movies. There’s an inherent silence on the written page that is part of the experience of reading and a pleasant departure from the constant pinging of screens.

It’s not hard to imagine that concentration on one medium at a time will become outdated. But for me, the written word is still perfectly adequate on its own.


MiiCard: A Digital Identity Card


Quick Pitch: A digital passport that proves 'you are who you say you are' purely online and in real time.

Genius Idea: Using verified online accounts to validate your identity.

Mashable’s Take: MiiCard is an identification “card” for the Internet.

Signing up for MiiCard involves the familiar process of verifying your email address. Before the site will vouch for your identity, however, you need to link to other accounts such as those from your bank, credit card and utility companies. Adding more links gives you a “stronger” identity verification.

After you establish your MiiCard identity, you can use it on its partner sites. When you attempt to purchase a product or service online, the “Level Of Assurance” that you need is pre-determined by the vendor or service provider and its regulator. This could be handy when buying and selling online or on an online dating profiles.

It might be hard, however, for people to hand over data about their financial accounts to a startup. The company tries to counter this hesitancy with a safety explanation: “miiCard uses bank-level security to protect your information — utilising multi-factor authentication and industry-standard encryption to ensure your data is secure.”


Grabio: A Location-Based Marketplace


Quick Pitch: A location-based marketplace that connects buyers and sellers within a predefined radius.

Genius Idea: An alternative to online listing sites like Craigslist that brings classifieds closer to their roots at local papers.

Mashable’s Take: Let’s say you want to buy tickets to a sports game at the last minute. You don’t have time to take an hour-long drive to receive them, and the tickets that people posted last month on sites like Craigslist have already been sold.

Grabio aims to be your solution. Its app lists items and services for sale near you in real-time and allows you to post things you’d like to buy (“Need two tickets to the Cubs game tonight”). Buyers and sellers can connect within the app to set up an exchange.

It’s an obviously good selling method for a number of items: tickets, textbooks on campus, dog walking services. But it’s so useful, Grabio has a slew of established competitors.

Zaarly focuses more on odd jobs and services (“Bring me an ice cream cone and I will pay you $10), Goshi hosts image-based listings and Taap.it also has a similar platform.

Grabio’s success depends largely on its ability to distinguish itself from the many other players in the space.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mbortolino


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, booktrack, Grabio, MiiCard, Startup Weekend Roundup

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This Week in Politics & Digital: The Constitution Goes Facebook

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 09:01 AM PDT

constitution image

This week we give the constitution a Facebook makeover, we see how U.S. politics measure up to major social media events and take a trip to Wisconsin where a social media battle is starting to brew.

Also, this weekend is the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, take a look through Mashable‘s select coverage to find out how the tech world is showing its support and how you can volunteer to honor those that lost their lives.

This is the Week in Politics & Digital.


The Likeable Constitution

constitution image

Many politician talks about a respect for America’s founding constitution, but how much do people “Like” it? The Likeable Constitution is a social media experiment where the entire constitution, broken into the Bill of Rights, All Amendments or Full Constitution, has been taken apart and given individual Facebook “Like” buttons. The amendments with the most likes are moved further up the page, for example, the First Amendment has 709 Likes whereas the Third Amendment is at the bottom with just 84 Likes.

Weiner Breaches Top Social Media Events

Organizers from this Fall’s Social Media Week have released a study of the top social media events that shook the world. While the Arab Spring ranks as #1, former Rep Anthony Weiner, D.-NY and his crotch-related Twitter scandal rank a healthy #5. The list shows scandal often trumps substance in terms of social media traffic.

Wisconsin’s Social Media Battle

wisconsin image

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, R, took some heat this year for his money-saving proposal that would cut government worker pay and curb union powers. The social outcry started almost immediately but it seems the flames are still burning. The Wisconsin State Journal writes of “Walker Backers Watching Walker Stalkers,” a Facebook page monitoring the governor’s critics. In response, the critics launched pages like “Watching Walker Backers Watching Walker Stalkers” and so on. It may seem a little silly, but at least it shows the public is getting engaged in state politics.

Image courtesy of Flickr, kjd

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What the Front Pages of the Web Looked Like on 9/11/2001

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 08:08 AM PDT


Everyone has a 9/11 story, so here’s mine: I was riding the NJ Transit train across the Meadowlands on the way to my job in Manhattan when a woman stood up and broke the morning silence. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center,” she said. Someone had called and told her that over her cellphone. We looked out across the clear skyline and saw smoke billowing from one of the towers.

Mild curiosity. There were a couple of small plane crashes that summer in New Jersey, so I and perhaps most people on the train that morning assumed that this was another one. A plane crashed into the Empire State Building once, too. This was likely one of those types of freak accidents. Certainly, no one expected it was anything more than that.

My train stopped in Hoboken and I must have been on the last PATH train to get into the city. When I got out, on 9th Street, it was clear that something strange was going on. In those days, you could spot the Twin Towers from the Village, so I could see the building was still smoking, as was the second tower. Then I went into a Starbucks and the guy behind the counter told me that not only had someone hit each of the Twin Towers, but “they bombed the Pentagon” too. Not knowing what to do, I walked to my job. En route, I stopped on University Avenue, where I had a clear view of the World Trade Center and watched, with a crowd of others, as one of the towers crumbled to the ground. Oddly, at that very moment, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in months. He didn’t even live in the area.

I got into work and everyone was watching the TV news. I saw the second tower fall on television.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details. I eventually got home to New Jersey by boat that afternoon. I didn’t own a cellphone back then, so my wife had to wait until I got home to see that I made it back OK.

Ten years is a long time. There was no Facebook back then, no Twitter. There wasn’t even a MySpace yet and the primary search portal was Yahoo, not Google. It wasn’t unusual that I didn’t own a cellphone –many people didn’t have one back then. One thing that was similar, though, was that I got most of my news online. I had made that switch in the late ’90s and by the time the 2000 election rolled around, I was reading about the recount mess via sites such as Salon, Slate and The Drudge Report rather than waiting until the next day to read about it in print. On September 11, when I wasn’t watching the TV news, I was reading about it online.

Yet, unfortunately there’s no comprehensive archive of digital media from that day. The Newseum, for instance, has an archive of hundreds of newspaper front pages from Sept. 12, 2001, but doesn’t have any images from websites that actually covered the event as it happened on Sept. 11. Thankfully, there are a few good web archivists, such as The Wayback Machine, that do catalog websites from years gone by. Using that resource and others, we’ve cobbled together a gallery of web pages from that horrible day. Here they are:


CNN, Part 1




Many Americans first learned of the attack from visiting CNN.com, which initially gave the tragedy the full-bleed treatment.


CNN, Part 2




By 4:45 EST, CNN.com was offering a wide array of stories looking at various angles on the event.


The New York Times, Part 1




This is how the paper's homepage appeared at 4:43 pm EST, a few hours after the attacks.


The New York Times, Part 2




This is the Times's home page at 7:45 pm EST. Note the scary headline about New York area blood supply levels.


The Los Angeles Times




There's no time stamp on this Los Angeles Times homepage grab, but we can assume it was from fairly early in the day, given the existence of headlines unrelated to event that were still on the page.


Yahoo




The limitation of Yahoo's old homepage design are clearly evident here. Though there are several news headlines related to the event, the site looks like it would on any other day.


Go.com




The Disney-owned Go.com was a bigger deal back in 2001, when everyone wanted to launch a "portal." Again, the event shows the limitations of the site's design. Here, the attacks occupy the same amount of page real estate as a story about Michael Jordan.


The Drudge Report




The Drudge Report had many updates on September 11, but this is likely one of the first with Drudge's trademark police sirens and red type.


CNet




Covering the attacks was a major challenge for tech publications like CNet, which wanted to cover the events in a way that made sense to its readers. Here, in a grab actually from September 12, CNet offers a link to give donations to the American Red Cross.


The Economist




The Economist took its typical big-picture view of the attacks in its lead article, captured from September 19.


Salon




Ten years after the event, Salon's website stands out for its design, which wouldn't look out of place in 2011.


The Wall Street Journal




The Journal offered several angles on the attack, including a story on Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial services firm, which would lose 658 employees in the attacks.


The Village Voice, Part 1




The Voice's print edition hit on Tuesday afternoons, so the editors created a new front page shortly before it hit the streets on September 11. The Voice's site was similarly reactive to the tragedy, acting as a conduit for New Yorkers' anger that day.


The Village Voice, Part 2




Later in the day, The Voice had several local angles on the tragedy, including a look at the "Wailing Wall" at the V.A. Hospital on First Avenue (there was at least one more, at St. Vincent's Hospital on 7th Ave.) where residents came with flyers looking for their missing loved ones.

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How Are You Commemorating 9/11 in Your Online Communities? [OPEN THREAD]

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 07:05 AM PDT


In the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the media and tech worlds have been inundated with tributes to those who lost their lives that tragic day. As it did 10 years ago, the global community is once again banding together to reflect and remember.

Ten years ago, neither Mashable nor the social space as we know it existed. For many, clogged phone lines brought communication with those who were not with you in person to a screeching halt. And so, people connected with whomever was around them, whether it was for something as mundane as needing a hand to hold or as vital as helping to save a life.


How do you remember?

This weekend, we here at Mashable want to give our community a space to remember, discuss and reach out to someone who may be a stranger but who will understand nonetheless.

  • Where were you when you found out?
  • Considering our changed media landscape, how did you find out about the tragedy and follow the story?
  • How do you think the day would have unfolded if we did have the social media we do today?
  • How are you using the Internet and social space today to discuss and remember?

Feel free to share your thoughts and your story below.

Because this is such a delicate topic for so many, we respectfully ask that you are considerate of others during this discussion.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, CostinT, APitch

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