Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 25 News Updates - including “MeeGo to Be Replaced With Tizen, a New Linux-Based Mobile OS”

Mashable: Latest 25 News Updates - including “MeeGo to Be Replaced With Tizen, a New Linux-Based Mobile OS”

MeeGo to Be Replaced With Tizen, a New Linux-Based Mobile OS

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 03:38 AM PDT

Nokia’s MeeGo-based N9, which goes on sale in some parts of the world these days, might very well be the only MeeGo smartphone to hit the market, as that mobile OS is giving way to an entirely new platform called Tizen.

Tizen is an open source effort led by Samsung and Intel, hosted by the Linux Foundation, that will support multiple device categories: smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks, and in-vehicle infotainment devices. It will be based on HTML5 and other upcoming web standards, which is one of the main reasons why MeeGo had to be replaced.

“This new project is first and foremost open source, and based on Linux. So it begs the question: why not just evolve MeeGo? We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications (…) Shifting to HTML5 doesn’t just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been”, explains director of Intel Open Source Technology Center Imad Sousou.

Sousou promises to help users and developers transition from MeeGo to Tizen as easily as possible, but the somewhat unexpected switch will surely leave a sore taste in developers’ mouths.

MeeGo‘s history was uncertain and rocky from the get go. It was created by merging Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin operating systems, but soon after its inception Nokia all but gave up on the new OS, fully embracing Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Nokia N9, which recently began shipping in several European countries (but not Germany, UK and the US) is thus destined to become a proof-of-concept, a one-time affair which perhaps shows promise, but will never be followed up by new, more advanced MeeGo models. It’s no secret that Nokia’s smartphone strategy in the last couple of years was bad, but simultaneously pushing two smartphone platforms – Symbian and MeeGo – and then giving up on both shows just how wrong Nokia’s calculations were.

As for Tizen, the first release of the OS and its SDK is expected in the first 2012, and we can expect additional details about the platform, such as code and developer documentation, in the coming weeks.

More About: Meego, Mobile, mobile OS, mobile platform, open source, smartphone, TIzen

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Apple to Discontinue iPod Shuffle and iPod Classic [RUMOR]

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 01:35 AM PDT

At its next major media event, on October 4, Apple will likely announce the next iPhone, but it may also discontinue some of its popular products — the iPod classic and iPod shuffle.

Citing a source who is not an analyst, but someone familiar with the situation, The Unofficial Apple Weblog claims that the two legendary products are getting cut from Apple’s product portfolio sometime this year.

If it happens, it would hardly be a surprise: the iPod classic is a remnant from pre-iPhone times, and the iPod touch is vastly better in almost every way, except for storage space, which is becoming less of a factor with flash-based storage gradually getting cheaper.

iPod shuffle is a slightly different beast. It has been completely redesigned several times in its history, and right now one can argue that it is just an iPod nano sans a screen. However, the absence of the screen does allow for an extremely small form factor, ideal for athletes or anyone who wants their MP3 player to be nearly invisible. We’d hate to see the iPod shuffle go.

What do you think? Would you miss the iPod classic or the shuffle if Apple decided to cut them? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

[via TUAW]

More About: apple, ipod, iPod classic, ipod nano, ipod shuffle, iPod Touch

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Piictu Is an iPhone App For Picture Conversations

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 09:20 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Piictu

Quick Pitch: Piictu is a visual network where you interact with friends and people around the world though picture conversations.

Genius Idea: Photo-gaming.

Testing the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is New York-based and TechStars-backed startup Piictu, makers of an iPhone app where photos are the messages in ongoing visual conversations.

Piictu bills itself as part photo game, part social camera and part meme-space. It’s designed to get the mobile photo-sharer engaged in picture conversations.

“We believe that the ease of taking and sharing a picture today changes the way people use photographs,” Piictu co-founder Noah Slimak says. “In the past, photos were more objects of memory, trying to preserve a moment for posterity. Today, photos are used more as objects of interaction, serving their purpose as part of a checkin, status update or step in a scavenger hunt. Piictu uses pictures purely as a method of interaction, transmitting a message as part of a story, game or conversation.”

The iPhone app encourages you to upload a photo to start a picture stream, which is a series of photos linked together by theme, social relationship or location. You can, of course, choose to participate in the themed threads created by other app users.

Fire up Piictu and you’ll be greeted with a feed of popular and recent picture streams. The app nudges you — via pictures, of course — to add your shots to user-created streams such as “What are you listening to now?,” “Shadows” or “Show your window!”

“We wanted to make an app that prompted users to take a picture. Not just consume content, or feel intimidated by creative hierarchies, but actually jump right into adding an image,” Slimak explains.

You can also use the app to follow just the picture streams of Piictu friends, as well as share your stream contributions to Facebook and Twitter.

Piictu has a lot in common with Photovine, the short-lived community photo app from Google’s Slide team. Piictu’s initial release in July actually predates that of Photovine, and it should appeal to the subset of mobile photo-sharers looking for an amusing and communal app experience.

Piictu has been live in the App Store for 10 weeks and has seen more than 110,000 downloads. More importantly, Slimak says, is that 56% of users have uploaded one or more photos.

“We are building Piictu to be the go to platform for mobile picture interactions, allowing people to communicate and connect with each other in a more direct and transparent way,” Slimak says of the startup’s more long-term vision. Piictu also sees a viable business opportunity in attracting brands looking to engage with customers through photo conversations.

Piictu has raised seed funding from Betaworks, RRE, Softbank and a group of angels. The startup is looking to raise a larger round in the months ahead.

Piictu Popular

Piictu Profile

Post to Picture Stream

Photo in a Picture Stream

Picture Stream: Grid View

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, Piictu, spark of genius series

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Mark Zuckerberg Killed a Bison

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 08:38 PM PDT

Keeping with his commitment to only eat what he kills, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shot and killed a bison for food.

Questions about Zuckerberg killing a bison began to surface during his f8 keynote last week. During his presentation, one box on his Timeline profile displayed that he was cooking bison burgers. This naturally raised a question with many audience members: did Zuckerberg kill a bison?

The answer is apparently yes, he did kill a bison. According to Fortune, Zuckerberg recently obtained a hunting license and killed the bison now featured on his Facebook Timeline.

“Yeah, he killed a bison,” one of our sources told us, confirming Fortune‘s report.

Let’s be clear, though: Zuckerberg isn’t killing bison and other animals for sport. He’s doing it in order to be healthier and be responsible about the food he eats. We in the media may make jokes about Zuckerberg killing bison, but the truth is that his new dietary commitment is built on good intentions.

Besides, how many of us can say we’ve killed a bison? I certainly can’t.

More About: Bison, Facebook, mark zuckerberg

Apple iPhone 5 Launch: Here’s What to Expect

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 07:40 PM PDT


The iPhone 5 is coming. This is no rumor, no guesswork, no fuzzy photo taken by someone allegedly holding an iPhone 5 prototype. Apple has set the date and the place for a real product launch.

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself a bit. The invite does not explicitly mention an iPhone 5. It just promises we'll talk about the iPhone. Yes, a nice little chat with me, Apple CEO Tim Cook and a few hundred of our closest friends at Apple's Cupertino campus. There'll be coffee and Danish. It'll be cozy.

What else can we expect on Oct. 4? Here’s the shortlist:

A Major Redesign

Shortly after Apple unveiled iOS 5, the cloud-friendly operating system that will soon reside inside current and future iPhones, there was speculation that the iPhone 5 would look almost exactly like the iPhone 4. The innards would be different, but most people could simply swath iPhone 5's in the same cases as their previously adored iPhone 4s.

But soon enough, some eagle-eyed folks spotted new iPhone cases that would in no way house current iPhones or the doppelganger iPhone 5. Answer? The iPhone 5 will be radical design departure. Some believe it will be thinner, or perhaps tapered. Others insist it will be wider.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 5: Expect Stronger Demand Than Ever [REPORT]

Personally, I love the current design. I know, antenna attenuation nearly ruined the initial iPhone 4 launch, but my Verizon model moved the antenna bar breaks around and I rarely, if ever, lose signal. Plus, I don't want a wider phone (read "bigger") phone.

A Faster Phone

Duh! Even if we didn't know about the A5 chip, Apple's custom dual-core CPU, why would Apple do a major product launch without raising the performance bar? We rely on our smartphones to do more every day; they simply have to get more powerful — as any good computer should, under Moore’s Law. Apple will also likely increase the amount and quality of RAM—which always has a big impact on performance. These changes will be necessary if Apple does some of the other things we've been speculating about.

Better Screen and Cameras

Apple's Android competitors outshine the iPhone in the camera resolution and screen size department. On the latter, Apple's retina display is smaller than many slab Android phones but often approaches or beats them in resolution. If Apple goes with a larger screen, 8-megapixel camera and full 1080p video recording, it'll need more horsepower to support all of them. The bigger screen, in particular, will also demand more battery power. Apple's been very careful about battery life (it's why it fought so long and hard against multi-tasking) and it may have to increase battery size and capacity to support a larger retina screen.

Voice Recognition

I've used Google's voice-enabled search app on the iPhone and it is quite good. Some pundits believe the iPhone 5 will come with native voice recognition, which means other iPhone apps can tap into this capability for a variety of nifty interactions. Apple did acquire voice-based personal assistant service Siri last year and hasn't done much with it yet, at least not publicly. Talking into your phone is natural, so what's not to like about native voice recognition?

4G or Not 4G?

I guess I'm alone in this, but I don't give a rat's behind about 4G on my phone. My Verizon iPhone does just fine with its 3G data connection. However, I don't think Apple can ignore the consumer clarion call forever. These people want 4G (look at all the 4G Android phones they're snapping up). I can't say their battery life is worth much, but at least they have a good time surfing YouTube videos while the charge lasts. Apple could do LTE 4G, the premier option, but only if it's convinced there's enough quality 4G out there. I'd say there is and the phone will ably dumb down to 3G anyway.

If Apple does go 4G, however, it's a good bet the iPhone 5 will be larger than the eminently pocketable iPhone 4. 4G needs an ample battery for a full day's use. Big batteries make for bigger phones.

No Shopping

Back when Google introduced Google Wallet, a technology for turning one NFC-enabled phone (the Nexus S 4G) into a wallet/credit card, there was a speculation that companies that weren’t included in the deal — such as Visa — might hook up with Apple. All Apple had to do was put an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip inside the iPhone 5 and the rest would be easy. Now, however, Google has managed to sign up Visa for Google Wallet as well. I'm not certain Apple will see any value in the added cost of an NFC chip when there are no clear partners, and even less certainty that consumers are ready to start paying with their phones.

More Carriers

Apple now has both CDMA and GSM phones. Ubiquity is how to play the competition game. I expect Apple to welcome at least one new carrier partner to the table. My money is on Sprint (which, like Verizon, uses CDMA). T-Mobile is out. AT&T is trying to buy them and it’s clear Apple wants any part of that mess.

iPhone 4S

Sprint may not get the iPhone 5, however. Since I do expect that to be a 4G phone, my guess is that Apple goes with Verizon and AT&T as the first two carriers. Sprint will get a different phone, the lower-powered, still 3G, iPhone 4S.

These are merely my predictions. The only thing I can guarantee is that Apple will have an event next week on Oct. 4th at 10 a.m. There will be coffee. There will be Danish. There will be an iPhone 5.

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

More About: apple, iphone

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Xobni Brings “Smartr” Social Intelligence Apps to Gmail & Android

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 06:56 PM PDT

Social intelligence startup Xobni first found favor with Outlook and BlackBerry users. Tuesday, the company is extending its contact management and productivity capabilities to those with Gmail accounts and Android devices.

The Gmail and Android applications, branded under a new product suite called Smartr, are designed to give users a complete picture of the people they email or communicate with via mobile.

Smartr Inbox for Gmail, the official release of Xobni’s private beta Gmail application, is a social intelligence sidebar for your Gmail or Google Apps account that works as you read and consume email. It’s available on Safari, Firefox and Chrome.

In the inbox view, the sidebar displays a grid of photos to highlight the people you communicate with the most. You can hover over photos for a quick glimpse at the person or click a photo to view a full profile. You can also filter the view for a Facebook or Twitter-centric view of your contacts.

In the message view, the sidebar zeroes in on your communication history with a single contact, grabs the person’s recent social updates from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and digs up contact information from previous email messages.

Smartr Contacts for Android also launches in public beta Tuesday. The product is meant to re-envision the mobile phone address book and take it from a context-less contact list to something infinitely more intuitive.

The app analyzes data in your phone and on online networks. It promises to keep contact information up-to-date, allow for better search, rank contacts by importance and show you a contact’s profile with latest photos, company info, message history and social updates.

A similar application for iPhone is slated for release later this year.

Xobni competes with Rapportive and Gmail’s people widget. These latest releases, however, better position the company as a productivity platform that extends beyond a single service or device.

More About: android, gmail, xobni

No, You Aren’t Going to Quit Facebook

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 06:23 PM PDT

Dear Facebook Users,

With all of the new changes to Facebook, especially the new Facebook Timeline, some of you have indicated that you’ve had enough and are planning to quit the service and delete your accounts.

Sure, Facebook has faced user revolts in the past — practically every major overhaul to the platform has been met with user backlash — but this time apparently, it’s just too much.

Facebook’s most recent changes, the Timeline and the launch of the new Open Graph API, are the most radical yet. It’s not just about changing the way the News Feed works or the addition of the real-time Ticker. These updates are going to make the content that you share with others more accessible than ever before.

We hear you. The new Timeline is beautiful for sure, but it’s also kind of creepy. People that I have friended over the years now have an easy way to access my earliest college-era posts, photos and interactions. That goes for you, too. Once the new Timeline is rolled out to the masses, your friends will be able to peruse your digital life, look at the people you dated, see the friends you’ve made and check out the jobs you’ve held. They’ll also have access to your questionable taste in music (Nickelback, really?), movies and TV shows. They’ll also know how much you like to read TMZ during work hours.

Like we said, it’s kind of creepy.

In fact, it’s so creepy that some of you say that you’ll quit Facebook if the Timeline other new features can’t be turned off. After all, not only are Facebook’s most recent changes massive, they are taking place at a time when real competition exists. Who needs Facebook when Google+ is around? Hey, Google+ even has CityVille!

Quitting Facebook in 2011 is like quitting MySpace in 2008. It’s the cool thing to do. The difference, however, is that you aren’t going to quit Facebook.

Quitting Facebook: All Talk, No Action


In a post that got a lot of retweets, Ayysian compares Facebook to President Obama.


This user is just fine with Facebook's changes.


Apparently, you don't have to be under 30 to care about Facebook's latest update.


Another user echoes a sentiment some others have noted about the nature of Facebook changes.


Some users just aren't feeling it this time around.


Another user puts it all in perspective.


Good point, I mean Facebook is, after all, free, despite the rumors.


Another user has upgrade fatigue.


I guess that explains why Facebook is spending so much time in its room of late.

Kevin Rose on Google+

Digg's creator went on Google's social network to express his excitement over Facebook's new profile design,which he tried out here.

Sure, it’s easy to say you’ll quit Facebook. Even without the most recent changes, its sheer size and near-ubiquity is enough to make the more paranoid among us want to opt-out. After all, the world existed for billions of years before Facebook; certainly life would continue to be just fine without it.

This is true. Still, quitting Facebook is much more difficult than it sounds. After all, what happens when someone sends you a link to a photo, video or conversation, but requires a Facebook login to see? Facebook is unique in its broad social reach. Unlike earlier social networks like LiveJournal, Friendster or MySpace, Facebook isn’t just for younger users. Despite getting its start on college campuses, Facebook is now just as popular among adolescents as it is with Baby Boomers.

That broad social reach means cutting the service out of your life is easier said than done. Sure, it’s fun to say “I’ll delete my account and never log in again,” but as soon my cousin posts photos of her new baby and makes those photos only visible on Facebook … well, that kind of kills my resolve.

It’s more than just our social ties that keep us connected to Facebook. Many apps and services are reliant on the network, too. When Spotify integrated itself with Facebook last week, the popular streaming music service also added a new requirement for new sign-ups: Facebook membership. We can argue whether that approach is right or wrong, but Facebook as a login identity is something that is only going to increase with time, not decrease.

Don’t Worry, You’ll Adjust

Part of the reason that Facebook changes create such a large, loud reaction from users is because fundamentally, we don’t like change. Still, with enough time, changes that users hate become features users can’t live without.

Look at the News Feed. When it was first released, Facebook users were vocally opposed to the move. Now many of those same users are upset with the most recent News Feed changes because of the impact it has on their daily routine. Likewise, the ability to play games on Facebook was derided by many, but hundreds of millions of users now play Zynga’s games every single day.

Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore put it best in his recent CNN column when he wrote,

“So yes, you will hate the new Facebook profile when it launches in the coming weeks. Then, like me, you’ll realize that Facebook has unleashed something so remarkable that you didn’t even recognize it at first: A meaningful social network. And like any other groundbreaking technology — the PC, the smartphone, the iPad — you’ll wonder why life wasn’t always this way, and how you got by without it.”

It’s important to point out that the really creepy aspects of Timeline and the other new Open Graph app features can be tuned to better represent user needs. Uncomfortable with the amount of information that is visible to your friends? Remove entries. Plus, the new Facebook Subscribe button means that you can unfriend acquaintances while still allowing those individuals to follow your public updates. In the context of the new Timeline and auto-sharing features, the move from “friend” to “subscribe” for certain types of interactions makes a lot of sense.

Yes, Facebook is changing and not all of those changes are going to be improvements. But as long as the online social graph is centered around a Facebook-led ecosystem, threats to quit the service are just that — threats.

SEE ALSO: No, Facebook Will Not Make You Pay to Get the New Profiles

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilbusca

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

The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they'd like it to be.


In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.


Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here's how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here's what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline's customization features.


More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.

More About: Facebook, facebook profile, facebook timeline, features, op-ed, Opinion

Should You Really Quit Your Day Job in a Down Economy?

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 05:34 PM PDT

Nellie Akalp is CEO of Since forming more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S, she has built a strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business the right way. To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly, visit here or “Like” on Facebook.

The U.S. economy has been on shaky ground for several years. Whether it's news from Greece or Capitol Hill, it doesn't take much to send serious shock waves throughout Wall Street, and ultimately down to Main Street. People are nervous, and for the American worker, that means staying with a stable job until the economy turns around.

According to the Bureau of National Affairs, only 0.5% of the American workforce voluntarily left their jobs in 2009. In 2010 and Q1 2011 it rose to 0.7% (for context, the reported voluntary turnover rate was 1.1% each year from 2005 to 2007). When approximately 14 million Americans are looking for work, many consider themselves lucky to be bringing home a paycheck at all. In a world full of uncertainty and delicate economies, it's easy to see why people want to play it safe.

But just how many brilliant entrepreneurs are waiting on the sidelines for the market to come around? After all, how logical is it to jump ship when the economic picture remains precarious? According to a recent study by business consultancy MBO Partners, approximately 14% of employees hope to go independent in the next two years by starting their own business or freelancing.

Many employers have been coping with the economic downturn by cutting salaries and bonuses and reducing the number of new hires. This leads to anxious, demoralized and overworked employees on the lookout for something better. Some employees will remedy this by starting their own business.

Do you have dreams to start your own business, but aren't quite sure if this is the right time? If so, here are a few things to think about.

Funding in This Economy

If you're involved in the tech/social scene, there's good news that some venture capital opportunities are returning. However, traditional bank funding for Main Street businesses is still tight. As part of the American Jobs Act, President Obama plans to ask the SEC for ways to reduce the "regulatory burdens on small business capital formation," perhaps via crowdfunding and mini-offerings.

What this means is that many aspiring business owners will need to start small and self-finance. After all, it's more than possible to start a successful business with just a small investment. Keep in mind, however, that only you and your family can truly assess how much risk is appropriate, and for how long you can forgo a salary.

Market Opportunities in This Economy

As a result of this recession/recovery, businesses everywhere are looking for ways to cut costs and be more efficient. While the idea of leaner operations doesn't translate positively for the majority of the American workforce, it can be advantageous for some enterprising small businesses. For instance, if your business idea can help companies reduce costs or increase productivity, look forward to a receptive audience. This is particularly true for freelancers and contract professionals and developers of collaboration tools and other "streamlining" technology.

The Advantage of Starting When the Economy Is Down

It may seem counter-intuitive, but many experts think an economic downtime is the perfect time to start a business. If you wait for the economy to be in full swing, you'll be too late.

Right now real estate prices and low interest rates are attractive. You have an opportunity to get the wheels in motion now, so that your product or service/business are ready to take advantage of a return in consumer confidence.

Be Honest About Your Motivation

Sit down and ask yourself, “Do I really want this business, or am I just trying to escape something else?” If you're truly passionate about your business idea, get a move on. But workplace disillusion is not a good enough reason to become an entrepreneur. Starting a business takes tremendous sacrifice and hard work; you've got to love what you're doing to keep at it.

Starting a business in a down economy can be a scary endeavor, but isn't the idea of abandoning your dreams even more terrifying? No one can advise you whether starting a business is right for you, or whether the timing is right, but sometimes a challenge can be an opportunity in disguise.

Image courtesy of Flickr, timsnell

More About: Business, economy, entrepreneurs, features, jobs

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Ashton Kutcher Promotes His Tech Investments on “Two and a Half Men”

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 04:02 PM PDT

Ashton Kutcher is leveraging his new gig on Two and a Half Men to provide exposure for some of his most prominent startup investments — via the back of his laptop.

Kutcher, who replaced Charlie Sheen after Sheen’s public meltdown, plays a heartbroken Internet billionaire named Walden Schmidt. So far, viewers have been receptive to the switch: Kutcher’s debut episode last week drew an astounding 28.7 million viewers, while this week’s show still attracted more than 20 million viewers.

Now Kutcher is using his TV exposure to give some tech startups the spotlight. During Monday’s episode of Two and a Half Men, several scenes depicted Kutcher with his laptop, which is plastered with stickers from startups such as Foursquare, GroupMe (recently acquired by Skype), Hipmunk, Chegg and Flipboard.

Those companies also happen to be some of Kutcher’s highest-profile angel investments. Kutcher, a prolific angel investor in recent years, is also an investor in Milk, TinyChat,, Path, Airbnb, Optimizely and Blekko, among others.

This is the kind of mainstream exposure that Kutcher’s investments were likely banking on when they took his money. Indeed, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley posted a screengrab of Kutcher on his laptop to Instagram.

Update: According to Kutcher, CBS didn’t like him promoting companies that didn’t pay for promotion. They let it go for the first episode — but will obscure the stickers on the laptop in any future appearances.

More About: ashton kutcher, foursquare, two and a half men

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Don Draper Invents Facebook Timeline [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 03:03 PM PDT

In this Facebook Timeline and Mad Men video mashup, Donald Draper pitches the idea of a nostalgia-infused social network that “lets us travel the way a child travels — round and round, and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.”

The video pulls from Mad Men‘s “The Wheel” episode — in which Draper conceives an ad campaign for the Kodak Carousel — and applies its dialogue to the Facebook Timeline. It was created by Eric Leist, a technology strategist with Allen & Gerritsen.

“The most compelling elements of Facebook’s Timeline are the ones that made Kodak’s Carousel popular,” Leist explains in the video description. “Reminiscing is a social activity. It always has been and now Facebook is bringing that activity online.”

Or as Draper more aptly puts it: “Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent.”

More About: facebook timeline, mad men

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Disney’s iPad-Friendly Toys Give Playtime A Digital Boost [VIDEO]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 02:19 PM PDT

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

Disney announced a new toy line Tuesday that turns the iPad into an interactive play mat. The new toys, called Disney Appmates, interact directly with a free app for the iPad that brings them to life.

The first toys in the Appmates series are from Pixar’s Cars. Twin packs of toy autos — each representing a character from the popular film series — will be available in stores for about $20.

In addition to the excellent video demo (above), we’ve had a chance to play with the product. Sunny Lauridsen, director of digital toys at Disney Consumer Products gave us a hands-on demo of the toys and app in action. After playing with the Appmates themselves, we were bowled over by the ingenuity — and by how fun they were.

How it Works

Each plastic car has specially designed capacitive sensors on the bottom. Once placed on the iPad, these sensors provide the app with information about what character the car represents (each pattern of sensors slightly different) and where it is on the screen.

The app then adjusts itself to match the position of the car and to speak and interact with the character. The voices from Cars and Cars 2 are a nice touch. Kids can freely explore the area around Radiator Springs and Route 66 during the day and at night.

In addition to a free play mode, kids can also compete in races and complete missions. This earns them coins that outfit their cars with power-ups, special tires and different kinds of fuel. The coins are virtual only — no in-app purchase or real currency exchange takes place — and Disney tells us it is still exploring how it might offer add-on levels or additional items.

I was shocked by just how well the toys work with the iPad. Fundamentally, however, the coolest part of the toys is that they assimilate so well with how kids actually play. Rather than trying to re-create a new paradigm, Disney has just given the experience a digital boost.

The big question is: Won’t the toys break the screen? In my experience, it would be difficult (though not impossible) for the toys to inflict any substantial damage to the iPad’s glass. The sensors are designed not to scratch the surface and the toys are lightweight enough that excessive pounding shouldn’t inflict much damage. Still, this is probably a good opportunity to explain to your kids how to best take care of electronics.

Why the iPad?

“We could have designed our own tablet — and in fact that’s something we actually considered doing,” Lauridsen says. “After the iPad was released, we looked at its success in the market — especially with families — and decided not to reinvent the wheel and instead focus on creating toys for the existing platform.” As a strategy, this makes sense. Since its release in April 2010, the iPad has proven to be as popular with kids as it is with adults.

Disney already has a successful presence on the iPhone and iPad, and the Appmates series of toys will just continue to build on that. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Steve Jobs, Apple’s chairman, is a member of the Disney board of directors and its single largest shareholder.

The initial release of the Cars Appmates app will only work with the iPad 2, because of the processor and memory requirements for the app. Future releases, however, will work with the iPad 1 as well.

Apple retail stores and will be selling their own exclusive two-pack of Appmates in stores this October. Disney tells us that in the future, other Disney franchises will also get the Appmates treatment.

Frankly, toys like this make me wish I was a kid again.

More About: appmates, disney, ipad, ipad toys, toys, viral-video-of-day

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6 Ways Brands Can Earn More Exposure on Tumblr

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 02:10 PM PDT

Shane Snow is co-founder of, an "agile publishing" platform for brands and freelance journalists.

With 29 million blogs (more than WordPress at last count), and at least as many millions of posts every day, Tumblr is a force of nature in the Internet ecosystem that cannot be ignored. That massive audience means opportunities for businesses to find fans and build brands.

Here are six tips for kickstarting a Tumblr strategy that will grow your presence on the platform.

1. Use Tumblr Curation as a Compliment to Original Content

The short-form, fast-paced nature of Tumblr lends itself well to content curation. The platform is optimized for creating collections of bite-sized media.

With the click of a button (the "reblog" button to be precise), you can instantly post someone else's Tumblr content on your own. Businesses can leverage this to create their own curated resource for all of the interesting things they observe in their niche.

Of course, curation works best when accompanied by original content, or when a slant or opinion is appended to the curated work. This is why many businesses choose to use Tumblr as a supplement to a longer form WordPress or Typepad blog on their own domain as part of a stock and flow content strategy.

2. Like and Comment on Good Content From Tumblr Blogs in Your Space

"Liking" and commenting on relevant Tumblr content may seem like a subtle gesture in comparison to reblogging, but there are a few ways it gets you exposure to new audiences.

Every time you "like" something another Tumblr user has posted, your name and link get put in tiny letters at the bottom of that post. This can lead targeted users to your Tumblr page. If you reblog a post and add your own comment to it in your reblog, your update on the original post's feed gets more real estate. It's a great way to get incremental exposure.

When you add relevant comments on posts, you foster relationships and goodwill, which often translates into followers.

Keep in mind that what goes around comes around. Being helpful, thoughtful, and friendly goes a long way. Being self-serving will only get you unfollowed.

3. Self-Link Original Things You Post

Whenever you author an original post on Tumblr, include a link back to yourself as the source. This little "watermark" will get reposted and shared every time another user decides to reblog your post.

This not only turns into valuable links back to your tumblelog, but it also gets your brand name spread further out into the Tumblr ecosystem. Branding plus backlinks is a powerful combination!

4. Tag Your Posts Exhaustively

Every post you tag goes into the general Tumblr archive for the tags you specify. If you post a photo of a hurricane and tag it with related words like "storm" "tropical storm" and "hurricane," your photo will appear in all three of those tag streams. It's yet another great way for your brand to be found.

While your goal should be to tag your posts as extensively as possible, remember to keep the tags relevant. Anything that can trigger an alert in readers head to indicate that you may be "gaming" (or worse, "spamming") the system can mean unfollows. Good behavior and etiquette wins out in social media in the long run every time.

5. Repurpose Highlights From Your Other Blogs

Tumblr is a fantastic way to squeeze more life out of original content. For example, if you run a longer-form blog on your own domain, take the best excerpt or quotation from each new post and repost it on your Tumblr.

Many brands will cross-post photos from Instagram, or take the most popular updates from their Twitter or Facebook accounts and repost them on Tumblr. Different audiences tend to hang out on different social platforms, and the real-time nature of Twitter and Facebook make the likelihood of your audience seeing your dual update unlikely. And if your updates are interesting, your readers won't bat an eye if they see it twice.

6. Create a Meme-Based Tumblelog

Tumblr has become the classic platform for launching incredibly focused theme blogs. This lends itself well to humor, but it's often just creative in nature. From tumblelogs dedicated to things that are polka dotted to ProPublica's "Officials Say The Darndest Things," Tumblr makes meme-creation easy. It's a common strategy for businesses and news organizations to create a Tumblr as an entertaining outlet on the side of more serious content.

As with any social media platform, success in building a following boils down to being interesting, being consistent, and being social. Curation, commenting, quoting, tagging, watermarking, and riffing are mainstays of social content, and when leveraged well, they can build you a big presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and everything in between.

More About: brands, Business, Small Business, Social Media, tumblr

Pixar’s Next Movie Gets A Mysterious Photo Blog

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 01:05 PM PDT

pixar image

Pixar is known for its long development cycles; the Emeryville, California-based company can take years to churn out a new animated movie. Now fans will be able to get an oblique sneak peek inside the studio’s next film — thanks to a new blog started by Lee Unkrich, a director and member of Pixar’s creative team.

The blog, simply called “Lee Unkrich,” will feature one image a day for the development cycle of the new, untitled film. That could mean a lot of updates. Unkrich already guessed, via his Twitter account, that he may be chronicling for up to four years.

Right now, the blog only has two entries. The first is captioned “the starting line.” Fans will already be wondering if that’s a veiled reference to a new Cars or Toy Story sequel. The opening image — a close-up of a Mac keyboard — doesn’t give away many clues. The second entry is titled “my standard lunch” and shows a bowl of broccoli and a sandwich. In other words, the blog looks like it will touch on things both central to the film and charmingly off-topic.

The blog is a nice way to share exclusive content with Pixar fans, but we’ll see if Unkrich can actually keep up a photo-a-day for the entire development process.

Will a tantalizing photo blog help Pixar engage with fans or is it a little too self-serving? Let us know what you think in the comments.

pixar tweet image

More About: Entertainment, Movies, pixar

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Apple Surprise: What “One More Thing” Will Tim Cook Announce at the iPhone 5 Launch? [POLL]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 12:41 PM PDT

So Apple has made it official: On Oct. 4, it is inviting the top tech media to Cupertino for a talk about the iPhone. And if it isn’t a talk about the iPhone 5, led by new CEO Tim Cook, we’ll be very surprised: Apple’s crack team of PR commandos are extremely good at steering expectations away from things that just aren’t going to happen.

So what’s left to wonder about? The exact specifications, of course, and the question of when you’ll be able to get your hands on one. But what about the “one more thing?” This staple of Steve Jobs’s keynotes and product launches is practically an Apple trademark. It’s also a classic showstopper move: get your audience excited about the main thing you’re unveiling, then overwhelm and delight them with a whole other product out of left field.

The rumor mill being what it is, however, it’s unlikely that any “one more thing” isn’t something we’ve heard whispers of already. There’s a strong chance the event will close with the Facebook iPad app we told you about Monday — what better showstopper than Cook and Zuckerberg together on stage? Well, perhaps Apple is preparing the higher-resolution iPad we’ve been hearing about for the closing slot. Or maybe there’s an even bigger surprise waiting in the wings, such as a giant flatscreen Apple TV.

What announcement will get the fabled “one more thing” slot? Take our poll, and let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: apple, Apple TV, Facebook, ipad, iphone, iPhone 5, tim cook

Google+ Traffic Jumps 13-Fold After Opening to the Public [STUDY]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 12:31 PM PDT

google plus

Opening up Google+ to the masses brought in a huge influx of new visits last week, finds Hitwise.

The researcher estimates the site received about 15 million U.S. visits for the week ending Sept. 24 vs. 1.1 million the previous week. The network’s 13-fold gain in visits came five days after it opened the site to the public. Research from Google+ watcher Paul Allen showed a 30% jump in users in two days and a base of 43 million users.

Google’s decision to open up Google+ came the same week that rival Facebook announced several bold changes to its site. The boost in visitors puts Google+ at number eight among most-visited social networking sites, right behind MySpace and up from number 54 the previous week.

Hitwise’s latest report is much more upbeat than one it issues in late August. At that point, the site’s growth and time on site appeared to have peaked in mid-July. Hitwise does not measure mobile traffic to the site.

More About: Google, traffic

Firefox 7 Is Here: Will It Stop Hogging Memory & Let You Browse Faster? [REVIEW]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 11:58 AM PDT

Mozilla’s rapid release schedule for Firefox continues with the arrival of Firefox 7 for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Firefox 7 comes less than six weeks after the release of Firefox 6. Mozilla moved to a more rapid release cycle with a more streamlined, frequent and incremental upgrade cycle a la Google’s Chrome browser, after Firefox 4 launched back in March.

As a result, most of the changes have taken place under the hood. Mozilla boasts that Firefox 7 uses less memory and performs faster.

Firefox 7 also improved its support for cutting-edge web technologies, including hardware-accelerated Canvas for HTML5 animations. That means that web apps and browser-based games should get better performance.

Memory Improvements: Your Mileage May Vary

The Firefox 7 team says that the latest version of the browser uses less memory, a reduction of anywhere between 20% and 50%. In a blog post at Mozilla Hacks, Firefox developer Nicholas Nethercote details the memory improvements. He says the benefits will be most noticeable for users that:

  • Keep Firefox open for a long time
  • Have many tabs open at once
  • Use Firefox for Windows
  • View pages with lots of text
  • Use Firefox while also using other memory-intensive programs

In our tests, using a mid-2010 MacBook Pro with 8 GB of RAM running OS X Lion, we were unable to ascertain just how much better Firefox 7 used memory as compared to Firefox 6. However, we did pit it against the most stable release of Google Chrome.

I opened up the same browser pages in Firefox 7 and in Chrome. They included Mashable,, Google+, Facebook, Mashable‘s backend website and On Hulu, I played a video in high definition.

To take Flash out of the equation, I then removed the Hulu tab from both browsers. These are the results.

As you can see, the main Firefox app uses the same amount of memory in both tests. The “plugin-container” process is actually what Firefox uses to sandbox some plugins, like Flash, so that even if that process crashes, the rest of the app stays in place.

Mozilla’s tests indicate that peak memory usage for Firefox 7 is lower than its predecessors and that sustained usage is more consistent. We haven’t had enough time to test whether memory usage continues to increase the more time a tab or window is left open, but we’ll assume this is true.

For Mac users, Firefox 7 is still no match for Google Chrome, at least when it comes to memory usage. To be fair, Apple’s own browser, Safari, has memory performance issues with OS X Lion, and Firefox 7 could perform better in Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier. Firefox has historically had better Windows performance, especially when it comes to memory usage, and we expect those are the users that will really see the benefits.

Is the Rapid Update Cycle Working?

I’m conflicted about Mozilla’s rapid-release approach to Firefox. As nice as it is not to have to go months or years between major updates — especially when it comes to support for newer HTML5 and JavaScript technologies — I have to wonder if this process isn’t too rapid.

Because Firefox has historically been such a version-number driven product, users are conditioned to expect major feature improvements every time a release is introduced. On the flip-side, Google doesn’t make a big deal about the version numbers of its Chrome browser. Users just know it as Chrome.

Part of the reason that a rapid update cycle works for Google Chrome is that the updates take place completely in the background. Because of how Chrome plugins are designed, most will continue to work with new versions. Firefox has a much larger and more complex add-on environment and as a result, there will always be add-ons that are incompatible with the latest release.

While I firmly believe that the move to more rapid, consistent improvements is good for the browser ecosystem as a whole, I’m not convinced that the Firefox team has figured out the best way to alert users about updates or that that the messaging behind how these updates work is on target.

What do you think of Firefox 7? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Browsers, chrome, Firefox, firefox 7, web browsers

How Mint Found Startup Success By Solving Real Problems

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 11:36 AM PDT

The Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series is supported by Diet Coke®. Now, the drink that helps you stay extraordinary brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

Staying on top of your finances can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Aaron Patzer knows that. That’s why he developed, a free personal finance and money management platform that offers a bird’s eye view of your financial situation and offers advice on how to improve it. In fact, Mint makes money by helping you save money — based on your spending and saving habits, Mint can recommend thousands of products. If you switch those products, Mint earns a kick-back, so it’s a win-win for Mint and for the user. Given the business model, it’s not hard to see why software giant Intuit bought Mint for $170 million back in 2009. Now the Mint community is 7 million-strong, with an average age of 31 and an average annual income of $85,000.

Mashable spoke with Patzer, now Intuit’s VP of product innovation, about launching Mint, earning consumer’s trust and why Mint will be around for a good long while.

Name: Aaron Patzer, 30

Company: Mint

Year Founded: 2006

Employees: 100 (in Intuit’s personal finance division, where Mint is housed)

Q&A with Aaron Patzer

You majored in electrical engineering at Duke — what initially drew you to tech?

It begins before I was an engineering major — I got a computer at a young age. I was about 6 years old, and it a was Tandy 2000, 12 MHz with a 10MB hard drive, 1MB of RAM, EGA graphics — very primitive by today's standard, but it was very cool. I got to know the file system and wrote some batch files, and that was really my draw to computers and tech. When I was 8 or 9, I started using bulletin board systems, which was the precursor to the Internet, where you’d dial in to … a shared system and shared computers. I’ve had an email address since the late ’80s, when I was 8 or 9 years old, and then I got on the Internet in ’93 when it was first starting out. I started a web development company in ’96 when I was about 15, so I’ve been involved in tech for a long time.

Aaron Patzer as a kid, flaunting his love for engineering

What inspired the idea for Mint?

Mostly, the product was born out of my frustration with existing personal finance tools. Like I said, I had a web development company. I used Quicken and Microsoft Money to manage my personal income and my business income, and I was pretty diligent about it. I did it every Sunday through college, and then I got really busy working at a another startup in Silicon Valley before Mint. Finally, I got back into it and Microsoft Money had downloaded about 500 transactions, but only 20% had been categorized. I felt like I could categorize these transactions much more accurately by using the Yellow Pages, so I got a database of 20 million merchants and got the categorization accuracy to about 90%. I thought, OK, great, but as a 25-year-old, how do I compete with Microsoft and Intuit? I figured if I put it on the web and made it free, then I’d have a cost advantage. And if the users say how much they're spending, we could figure out if you have three loans that you should be consolidating or if you could get better interest rates and help you make better financial decisions. It’s free because we make money if we can help users save money.

Personal finance is a, well, personal issue. How did you earn consumer confidence and get people willing to share their intimate financial information?

"They said no one would ever trust a startup to do their finances online.”

When I went out to raise funds and was talking to angel investors and VCs, I probably got 50 nos before I got my first yes. They said no one would ever trust a startup to do their finances online.

Trust is, at its core, kind of an emotional thing. If you’re walking down a dark alley and you see a person ahead of you, you have a reaction based on appearance, demeanor. Websites have the same thing — a personality, an appearance. So the biggest thing for us was getting that right. [as a domain] is short, which is implicitly expensive and more trustworthy. And the design was pixel-perfect. It looked good, it looked like a system you could trust, and we had all the 128-bit, bank-level encryption. Only 2% of people read about that [security] stuff; the vast majority of people make a decision based on the quality of the site.

Mint was acquired by Intuit in 2009. Was acquisition on your mind from the get-go?

I don't know that an acquisition had been on my mind when I started the company. The reason I started the company — and the reason people should start a company — is because there was a problem that needed a solution. I wanted to use it myself moreso than being acquired. I had no idea whether it would be a good company, whether we'd be acquired, how it would work. But the acquisition made a lot of sense. Intuit’s a big player in software, with 40 million users across TurboTax and Quicken, so it made a lot of sense to get that customer base and the resources. We went from 1.7 million users [at the time of acquisition] to 7 million users, and that was only two years ago.

In the early days, how did you spread the word about your product?

Marketing for Mint was all press and word of mouth. Advertising, banner ads or Google ads tend to be far too expensive, and we just didn't have the money as a startup. Over a three year period, I did about 550 interviews with press from TV, radio and magazines and made myself as accessible as possible to the bloggers and the media. In the beginning, I would take an interview with anyone — there were a few high school newspaper interviews! All that press got us really great exposure. Press is free, and it's the most effective type of advertising … it sticks a lot more.

What was the turning point in your career?

The turning point in my professional [life] was dropping out of my Ph.D. program at Princteon. I always knew I wanted to be a technologist, so I went to Duke and got a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. Really, I thought my goal in life was to be an inventor, a problem solver, so I thought I needed a Ph.D. to be good at inventions, but it turns out that you don’t. Quitting my Ph.D. after a year and half turned out to be a great decision.

Mint launched five years ago — how have you adapted the company to the new technologies that have emerged and evolved since Mint’s launch?

A lot has changed since ’07, it’s pretty unbelievable. The biggest change is mobile usage — more than half of our usage comes from either iPhone or Android, as opposed to web, even though there's less functionality in some sense on a mobile platform. It’s just really convenient for checking funds and seeing your budget. In the early days, I recognized the importance of mobile, and we had an SMS feature, so you'd be able to check your balances and get text alerts. But then iPhone and Android came out and things just exploded in terms of our mobile usage.

Banks have gotten pretty savvy, too — the Chase app lets you deposit checks through an iPhone app. Are you worried about financial institutions getting smarter and taking over your business?

Mint has the advantage of working across 18,000 banks, credit unions and brokerage and investment firms, so you can see all of your balances and a complete picture … which you can’t do with the Chase app. I think we can also always be the leader in [user experience] and tech because banks are not necessarily the place where innovation occurs.

You’ve obviously had a successful run with Mint. What make you a great entrepreneur?

I would say that it’s determination more than anything else. It's a willpower and a work ethic. In the first three years of Mint, from when it was founded to when it was sold, I can honestly say that in a sustainable way, I couldn't have worked any harder on it. I put every bit of myself, every bit of my thinking — when I was in the shower, when I was on a walk, when I was eating meals, when I was talking to people — everything I was, it just consumed me in a very good way. I dedicated my existence so completely to it, and I think that has something to do with its success.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?

Solve a real problem. You don't start a company because you want to be an entrepreneur or the fame and glory that comes along with it. You become an entrepreneur and you create a company to solve a real problem. And by real problem, I mean a problem that is going to exist down the line. Personal finance and banking and credit cards and loans and which investments do I make — these are going to be complex even 20 years from now, 30 years from now, so you need a Mint to help you out. A lot of people start companies that are really just features, like a URL shortener, and some of those companies raise millions of dollars. And is this a problem that's going to exist ten years from now?

And then there’s my favorite quote for entrepreneurs in doubt. The truth is, sometimes you can look at successful people and see their confidence, but it's kind of bullshit. There are moments in the beginning where you oscillate from thinking you have the greatest idea ever one day to who the hell am I to think I can do this? Someone else would have done it if it were a good idea. There’s a Shakespeare quote over my desk (see above):

“Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win. By fearing to attempt.”

So, never fear to attempt, and keep pushing through it. It’s natural to feel self doubt.

Series Supported by Diet Coke®

The Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series is supported by Diet Coke®. Now, the drink that helps you stay extraordinary brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

More About: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series, features, mashable, mint

Facebook Gives $10 Million in Free Advertising to Small Businesses

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 11:23 AM PDT

Facebook is cozying up to small businesses in a big way with a new program that gives away $10 million in free advertising.

The program, Facebook Marketing Solutions, which includes a partnership with the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will roll out over the next few months. In early 2012, Facebook will give each qualified business at least $50 of free advertising on Facebook.

The social network also promises free resources and information on how to market your business on Facebook. The company is sending its reps out to meet with small business owners in person. Since Facebook has a self-service ad platform that’s actually geared more to small advertisers than large ones, the program seems to be about building awareness, especially since 64% of small businesses think social media is unnecessary. The company took a similar approach to wooing the advertising industry in April with Facebook Studio, which also offers free resources, though there’s no free advertising component.

Image courtesy of Flickr, EvinDC

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Small Business

How Facebook Timeline Might Radically Change the Look of Brand Pages [PICS]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 11:01 AM PDT

Facebook’s blockbuster announcements last week have already gotten marketers to rethink how they will use the platform, but what about their brand pages?

Facebook hasn’t said anything specific about how the likes of Coca-Cola or McDonald’s might take advantage of the new design, though it looks like those, too, will change radically. “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook,” a Facebook rep tells Mashable, “so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future.”

SEE ALSO: What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Marketers

How will brands update their look on Facebook? No one’s gone public yet, but we asked some advertising and design pros to take a whack at it. Thanks to Skinny, Big Spaceship; Ryan Kennedy, senior art director for Mammoth Advertising; and McCann Digital in Israel for their hard work in creating these mockups.

Editor’s Note: The gallery below shows what some of these pages could look like. None of these brands have actually signed off on these designs.


From New York agency Skinny.


From Skinny.

Kanye West

From Skinny.

The New York Yankees

From Skinny.


From Skinny.


From Ryan Kennedy.


From Ryan Kennedy.


From Skinny.

The Muppets

From Ryan Kennedy.

Big Spaceship

The New York-based digital agency reimagines its own Facebook presence.


Skinny reimagines its own Facebook Page.

McCann Digital

The Israeli digital ad agency experiments with its own Facebook look.

More About: brands, Facebook, facebook pages, features, Marketing, Social Media

How Phones Are Changing Healthcare In Africa

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 10:22 AM PDT

africa image

A slew of mobile initiatives are revolutionizing the way that healthcare is delivered in Africa and other developing communities. While much has been made of the “mobile revolution” in North America, phones are even more important in developing communities where they are sometimes the only way for people to share and receive information.

Health and healthcare have always been a huge concern in Africa, especially when doctors and hospitals can get isolated in remote areas where care is often most needed.

Mobile has been the answer in many cases. In 2010, mobile phones represented more than 90% of all telephone lines in Africa with market penetration expected to pass 50% of the population. Some of the continent’s most advanced markets have already hit nearly 100% penetration, according to Developing Telecoms. Mobile’s big and only getting bigger. Here we take a quick look at four mobile campaigns changing the way that doctors operate in Africa.

Praekelt Foundation

praekelt image

The Praekelt Foundation has a variety of products designed to promote mobile penetration and universal health in Africa. TxtAlert, for example, is a mobile tool that sends unique, automated SMS reminders to patients on chronic medication. This reminds them to take their medication or perform other necessary tasks. A special tool, called “Please Call Me” allows patients to call their doctors even if they don’t have any airtime available by pinging their doctor who then calls back.

Young Africa Live is a digital forum where African youths can share stories and get information about HIV and AIDS. It also has helpful numbers and contact details for HIV- and AIDS-related organizations. The goal is to destigmatize the diseases while also providing clear facts and support groups for African youths. The portal also features live chats with doctors and relationship experts.

Health eVillages

The Robert F. Kennedy Center and Physicians Interactive launched Health eVillages (pronounced “healthy villages”) to arm doctors in underserved regions with inexpensive phones and high-powered diagnosis tools. The program will deliver those doctors and healthcare workers with new and refurbished mobile devices preloaded with clinical decision support reference tools like drug guides, medical alerts, journal summaries and references pulled from Skyscape, a medical reference app company.

Health eVillages has already run pilot programs in Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and the Greater Gulf Coast. It will be rolling out in earnest in fall 2011. It estimates that there are more than 1 billion people worldwide living in underserved areas and nearly one-third of countries are low on skilled healthcare workers. The phones will not only reach new areas but hopefully improve the quality of care offered.

mHealth Alliance

mhealth image

The mHealth Alliance is like the A-Team of mobile health initiatives. It draws together some of the largest companies and organizations to further health in developing countries. Its founding members include The UN Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation and U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the GSM Association and HP, among others.

Some of the alliance’s projects include SMS-based drug-counterfeit checker developed by HP, communications systems that connect patients to their doctors, send SMS alerts on the spread of local diseases, a SIMpill, a senso-equipped pill bottle that informs doctors if patients are actually taking their meds, and creating local databases via mobile to improve on-the-ground care. The alliance staunchly believes in open communication and is working to develop interoperable technology that any organization can use.

Medic Mobile

medic image

Medic Mobile is all about patient-to-doctor care. The SMS-based platform allows patients to get home-based care even if they can’t be physically visited by a caregiver. The organization launched a pilot program in Malawi which, in six months, saved the clinical staff an estimated 1,200 hours follow-up time and more than $3,000 in fuel and transportation costs. In addition, more than 100 patients received treatment for TB after their symptoms were noticed by the community and reported by text message.

More About: africa, health, healthcare, Mobile, Social Good

For more Mobile coverage:

Microsoft Unleashes Windows Phone Mango

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 10:01 AM PDT

Microsoft has begun rolling out Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango,” the newest version of its smartphone software.

Mango, first introduced in May, comes with a slew of new features designed to improve the user experience. “Our top goal was product satisfaction,” Microsoft’s Aaron Woodman told Mashable.

The updated OS includes several upgrades to its suite of communication tools. Microsoft has improved the communication hub of Windows Phone. It supported Facebook and Windows Live integration before, but Mango adds support for LinkedIn and Twitter as well. You can check out your friends’ social updates while browsing through your contacts. Microsoft has developed advanced algorithms for matching Twitter and LinkedIn handles to contacts in your phone.

Microsoft is also introducing upgraded Groups features, including the ability to send instant messages to small groups, and threaded conversations for Facebook and Windows Live messaging, in addition to SMS.

Apps are getting the bulk of Microsoft’s love, though. The upgraded OS is designed to make Windows Phone’s 30,000+ apps more discoverable, useful and accessible. To that end, Microsoft has introduced a web version of Windows Marketplace so that users can browse apps from the desktop. Its improved Live Tiles will deliver richer information from apps. Not only that, but users can create multiple Live Tiles from the same app. For example, if you love Glee, you can now pin that show from Netflix to your home screen.

Windows Phone is also getting a long-needed feature: app multitasking. Now switching apps doesn’t automatically close the app you were previously using, and it’s easier to switch between them. The new OS introduces Visual Voicemail and Internet sharing (“tethering”) to Windows Phone devices. Carriers will control the introduction and pricing for these two features.

Mango introduces more than 500 changes in total. Windows Phone users will receive the update over the air.

Microsoft hasn’t been selling as many Windows Phones as it’d like, but with Nokia’s Windows Phones slated to hit the market by the end of the year, it could soon see a boost.

What do you think of Windows Phone? Can Microsoft compete with Apple and Google? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: microsoft, windows phone, windows phone 7, Windows Phone Mango

Vevo Brings Classic Nirvana Concert to the Web

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 09:46 AM PDT

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s landmark album, Nevermind, Vevo will air a performance starting this afternoon. The concert first aired on Sept. 23 on VH1, VH1 Classic, and Palladia.

The concert was filmed in 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. Vevo has been offering two songs, “Breed” and “Territorial Pissings,” in advance of this exclusive stream. The entire show will play commercial free on a continuous loop, with an encore performance on Oct. 31, the anniversary of the concert. Check out the clip of “Breed” above.

Nevermind came out on Sept. 24, 1991 on Geffen Records, and has been credited with being the sonic touchstone of the 1990s. Universal Music will release several deluxe editions of the album beginning Tuesday, including Live at the Paramount on Blu-ray, DVD, and as part of a larger box-set featuring the digitally remastered album as well additional b-sides and rarities. The performance is thought to be Nirvana’s only concert shot on 16mm film.

There’s also a special 20th anniversary website where fans are encouraged to share their photos, videos and memories of the band. The site also features a slick interactive timeline of the album’s history. However, you can only visit the website by logging in with Facebook Connect.

Many media outlets have been covering the anniversary of the landmark album, including Spin Magazine, with a tribute album featuring covers by contemporary artists.

Was Nevermind a big album for you? Tell us your Nirvana memories in the comments.

More About: Music, nirvana, vevo, Video

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Saudi Woman Faces 10 Lashes for Defying Driving Ban [REPORT]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 09:30 AM PDT

A Saudi woman has been sentenced to 10 lashes for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers, according to recent reports. The sentencing is the first of its kind since the social media-based Women2Drive movement launched in the country a few months ago.

The Associated Press says Shaima Ghassaniya was found guilty Tuesday of driving without the Saudi government’s permission. A report from the BBC, which identifies the woman as “Shema,” says the woman had been driving in the city of Jeddah in July.

News of the sentencing comes two days after Saudi King Abdullah announced that the kingdom’s women would have the right to vote and run in local elections — for the first time — in 2015. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to prevent women — Saudi and foreign alike — from driving. Though there is no written law keeping women from driving, religious rulings enforced by the police have the same effect as a ban. Women tend to rely on live-in drivers or male relatives for transportation.

As a result, the Women2Drive movement was born, with its mission promoted via sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Women were asked to drive their own cars on June 17 — and some have continued doing so since that date.

Sara al-Haidar, a Saudi woman who doesn’t know how to drive, has been involved with the driving campaign by shooting videos of her mother driving and uploading them. She has also participated in a campaign asking automobile company Subaru to leave Saudi Arabia until women have the right to drive. She says she is outraged and humiliated if news of this latest sentencing is true.

“I’m hoping that there’s an underlying issue that we don’t know about concerning this specific individual. In Islam, adulterers — male and female — are lashed,” she says. “A man can go out and drive his car. A woman can go and drive and be lashed. Where’s the equality there? It makes you think it has nothing to do with religion.”

But she also feels that it’s important for the campaign to continue.

“I was just talking to my mom about this — I was saying, if it’s 10 lashes, I say bring it on. I’ll take that to stand for my rights,” she says. “That being said, I’d have to say please don’t lash me. But if that’s what it takes to get things done, that’s what we’re going to have to deal with.”

While the lashings are the first sentencing of their kind for defying the driving ban, other women have been dealing with additional consequences as well. Najla Hariri, who has defied the ban more than once, is now trial. Just last month, Hariri was briefly arrested and released without having to sign a pledge promising not to drive again — something most other women had to do when detained for going behind the wheel.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that Madihah Al-Agroosh, part of a group of women who drove in 1991, was arrested for driving Tuesday in Riyadh. (The Women2Drive account on Twitter, @W2Drive, has been providing updates, saying that Al-Agroosh has been waiting on the street for a taxi.)

Meanwhile, the campaign for women to drive continues in other forms online. #Women2Drive remains an active hashtag on Twitter, and a newer one — #Right2Dignity — has also made an appearance. Activist group Saudi Women for Driving has also launched a new petition asking King Abdullah to “immediately resolve the issue of women driving” now that women have been granted the right to vote. At the time of writing, the petition has more than 8,000 signatures.

“Voting rights are incredibly important, but driving rights are really the next step,” says Emilia Gutierrez, human rights organizing manager at

Image courtesy of Flickr, smemon87

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Can Delicious’s Redesign Make the Company Cool Again?

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 09:11 AM PDT

Delicious is betting on a redesign and an important new feature to reposition and revitalize the used-to-be-cool social bookmarking service.

Delicious calls its new feature, Stacks, a playlist for the web, but they’re actually groups of shareable links. What makes Stacks different than bookmark folders is that you can publish them to other Delicious users, rather than sharing them for only yourself. You can group together related links around topics like “dog resources” or “cool places to visit in San Francisco.” You can then add titles, select featured images, write descriptions and comment on each link.

The site’s new front page is designed for easier browsing, featuring a collection of large thumbnails, giving the previously text-link heavy page a more appealing look. The redesign moves Delicious into the territory of services such as Squidoo, which allows you to easily create a hub of information on a specific topic.

YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen bought Delicious in April. Delicious was previously purchased by Yahoo in 2005.

Check out a short overview of how stacks work in the video below.

Other updates include simplified site navigation, multiple-word tagging, support for profile pictures and a subtle lingo change — bookmarks are now called links.

The founders note the site’s overhaul has brought it back to beta status.

How do you like the new stacks feature? Can these changes restore Delicious to its former glory? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

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56% of Teens Say They Have Been Bullied Online [SURVEY]

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 08:59 AM PDT

teen dating

There’s a reason cyberbullying prevention supporters range from Justin Bieber to Barack Obama: It’s a problem that directly affects more than half of American youth.

An Associated Press – MTV poll released Tuesday asked 1,355 youth between the ages of 14 and 24 about the role online abuse plays in their lives. Fifty-six percent responded they have been the target of some type of online harassment.

Bullying isn’t the only detrimental digital behavior prevalent among today’s youth. Fifteen percent of the young people surveyed say they have sent nude photos or videos of themselves, while 21% say they have received nude photos or videos from others. About half of those involved say they felt pressured to do so. Some form of digital dating abuse — including checking in multiple times a day, reading messages without permission, pressuring others to respond to messages or spreading rumors — was also reported by 41% of respondents who were in relationships.

Online abuse, sexting and digital dating abuse were all slightly more prevalent in 2011 than they were in a similar survey conducted in 2009.

But the good news is teens appear to be gaining awareness about potential consequences of sharing information online. Sexts to people who respondents only know online dropped 19%, respondents who thought the information they post online could get them in trouble with a boss jumped 14% and respondents who said information they post online could come back to hurt them increased 5%.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Kalashnikov_O

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Doritos’s Super Bowl Ad Contest Pits You Against The Lonely Island

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 07:41 AM PDT

Doritos has added a little something extra to its crowdsourced Super Bowl ad contest this year: The chance to work with the ubiquitous Andy Samberg‘s comedy team.

Doritos will offer its fans the opportunity to create a Super Bowl ad for the sixth year in a row. This year, consumer submitted ads will air alongside one created by comedy trio The Lonely Island, which is made up of Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (pictured). Whichever ad hits number one in USA Today‘s AdMeter gets a $1 million prize from Doritos. If The Lonely Island’s spot wins, the prize money will be given to charity. Either way, the winner will get to work on a “Doritos project” in 2012 with the comedy troop.

You can submit your 30-second video to between Oct. 3 and Nov. 21. Five finalists will be announced in January and one winner will be chosen from those five to air during the game.

The effort is smaller scale than last year, when PepsiMax, another brand from Doritos parent company PepsiCo also took part. Three consumer-generated ads aired during the game last year. Chris Kuechenmeister, a rep for Doritos, says this year’s contest only includes one spot because fans see the contest as a stepping stone to a possible career in entertainment. “We took that to heart,” says Kuechenmeister, “so we put the resources into creating this partnership with The Lonely Island.”

This isn’t the first time The Lonely Island and Samberg (last seen impersonating Mark Zuckerberg at f8) have tried their hand at advertising. The group created a video for Rokk Vodka in 2010, parodying Calvin Klein ads.

More About: Advertising, andy samberg, doritos, Lonely Island, Super Bowl

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