Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “Give Your iPhone a Glowing Logo With This Mod”

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “Give Your iPhone a Glowing Logo With This Mod”

Give Your iPhone a Glowing Logo With This Mod

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 02:29 AM PDT

Are you annoyed by that all those MacBooks strut around with their glowing Apple logos, and their little brother, the iPhone, has to settle with a regular, dull Apple icon on its back?

Grieve no more, as a UK company called iPatch has developed a modification that will make your iPhone’s logo glow majestically, just like in the photo on the right.

According to iPatch, the illuminated logo can be made to glow in different colors by applying filters. It glows when the screen is on; it also starts glowing when you receive a call or a message. It also does not noticeably increase battery use, nor does it increase heating of the back of the case.

Unfortunately, applying this modification yourself might prove a daunting task, as it requires of how the iPhone functions “on the circuitry level.” The folks at iPatch will be glad to do it for you starting mid-October for an estimated price of £50-£100 ($79-$158), plus shipping.

[iPatch via PC World]

More About: apple, Apple logo, glowing, iphone, logo

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Microsoft Prepares Windows 8 for Battle Against the iPad

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 10:39 PM PDT

Microsoft is set to unveil the next generation of Windows tomorrow. The new operating system, currently known as Windows 8, is the tech giant’s attempt to regain ground that it has lost to Apple, which surpassed Microsoft last year as the world’s most valuable company.

It isn’t the MacBook or Mac OS X Lion that has Microsoft executives worried, though. It’s the sheer dominance of the iPad.

The iPad hasn’t skipped a beat since its debut last year. Thanks to Apple’s ingenuity, a shockingly low starting price and a strong marketing campaign, the device has sold more than 25 million units in less than a year and a half. More importantly, it has defined a whole new category of consumer devices. And it dominates that category with an iron fist.

iPad competitors have come and gone, but none have been able to make a dent in the iPad’s rapid growth. HP has given up on the TouchPad, the RIM Playbook has underperformed and countless Android tablets have fallen by the wayside. Nothing has emerged as the alternative to the iPad.

Windows 8: One OS to Rule Them All

This presents a dangerous problem and an opportunity for Microsoft. The tech giant cannot let Apple monopolize the tablet market like Microsoft did with the desktop OS. That would seal its fate as a technology power destined to diminish into a shell of its former self.

There is a need for a legitimate alternative to the iPad, though, and the company that gets it right will emerge in a strong position to take a big piece of the fast-growing tablet market. Success in tablets would boost Microsoft’s profits, ease investor concerns about the shrinking PC market and set it up for future growth.

That’s where Windows 8 comes in. The next generation OS, which will be unveiled at the Microsoft Build conference on Tuesday, is not only designed for PCs, but it is also made to work on tablets as well. We got a taste of its touchscreen capabilities at the D9 conference earlier this year, but we expect Microsoft to unveil the first Windows 8 tablet during Tuesday’s keynote. Our sources tell us that the device will be manufactured by Samsung but has been designed meticulously by Microsoft in an attempt to create the iPad alternative.

Will Microsoft’s gamble work? Can the company create an OS that works seamlessly on both tablets and PCs? And most of all, will it be useful enough, different enough and cheap enough to give the iPad a run for its money?

We’ll be closer to knowing the answers to those questions Tuesday morning. The tablet wars are about to begin in earnest.

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

More About: iOS, ipad, microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

Facebook Testing Feature to Reduce Email Notifications

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 09:41 PM PDT

Facebook has begun testing a new feature that lets active users group their email notifications into summary emails.

“We’re testing a feature for people who are very active on Facebook and receive lots of email notifications from us,” the company said in a post on its wall. “We’ll provide a new summary email and turn off most individual email notifications. If you want to turn them back on, there’s a control in your account settings.”

The feature, available to a small group of users in their account settings, is ideal for users that receive dozens of daily friend requests or are frequent participants in Facebook conversations. A daily summary is something more users will be able to handle.

What do you think of Facebook’s new email notification summary feature? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook

How Digitally Connected Are the U.S. News Top 20 Colleges?

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 09:01 PM PDT

Mashable received exclusive early access to the U.S. News list of top ranking national universities and national liberal arts colleges, which was released on Tuesday. The rankings take several factors into account, including tuition, acceptance rate, retention rate, class size, SAT scores and graduation rate.

We decided to add another factor for review: social media connectedness. Below you’ll find top 10 lists of universities and liberal arts colleges alongside an analysis of their social media presences.

Mashable looked at Twitter feeds encompassing university life, official Facebook pages and YouTube channels, not to mention the follower count for each official university/college account. Take a flip through the galleries to discover how higher education institutions stack up to the growing trends in social media. Also, you can check out U.S. News’ newly launched social tool that allows participants to discover where their Facebook friends went to college.

Feel free to share in the comments below how your college stacks up socially.

Top National Universities

1. (tied) Harvard University

U.S. News university ranking: 1 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Harvard

Twitter followers: 66,737

Other Twitter accounts: @thecrimson,@HarvardMagazine, @Harvard_Library, @THCSports, @HUDSInfo, @ABCDSocialMedia

Main Facebook page: Harvard

Facebook fans: 698,933

YouTube channel: harvard

YouTube videos/subscribers: 390/ 27,786

1. (tied) Princeton University

U.S. News university ranking: 1 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Princeton

Twitter followers: 15,572

Other Twitter accounts: @punews, @pace_princeton, @PUArtMuseum, @princetonian, @PUTIGERS, @PrincetonDining, @princetoncareer, @PrincetonPL

Main Facebook page: PrincetonU

Facebook fans: 52,125

YouTube channel: princetonuniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 164/ 2,979

3. Yale University

U.S. News university ranking: 3

Main Twitter account: @Yale

Twitter followers: 22,774

Other Twitter accounts: @yaledailynews, @YaleAthletics, @yalelibrary, @Yale_Emergency, @Yale_Athletics

Main Facebook page: YaleUniversity

Facebook fans: 36,825

YouTube channel: YaleUniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 650/ 19,986

4. Columbia University

U.S. News university ranking: 4

Main Twitter account: n/a

Other Twitter accounts: @CU_Spectator, @ColumbiaGS, @columbiajourn, @ColumbiaScience, @ColumbiaCCE, @GoColumbiaLions, @ColumbiaCSA

Main Facebook page: ColumbiaNYC

Facebook fans: 12,840

YouTube channel: columbiauniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 619/ 4,121

5. (tied) California Polytechnic Institute

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Caltech

Twitter followers: 2,570

Other Twitter accounts: @caltechevents, @CaltechMITForum, @CaltechAMT, @CaltechGreen

Main Facebook page: California Institute of Technology

Facebook fans: 7,713

YouTube channel: caltech

YouTube videos/subscribers: 38/ 302

5. (tied) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: MITstudents

Twitter followers: 781

Other Twitter accounts: @mitlibraries, @MITNews, @MITscience, @MITMuseum, @MIT_Spectrum, @MIT_TechTV, @MITCampusDining, @MITEECS, @MITgetfit, @MITmedical

Main Facebook page: MITnews

Facebook fans: 55,827

YouTube channel: none. But hosts its own video site called MIT TechTV.

5. (tied) Stanford University

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @Stanford

Twitter followers: 45,590

Other Twitter accounts: @StanfordDaily, @stanford_humsci, @suathletics, @stanfordrec, @stanfordbuzztap, @StanfordDining, @StanfordCareers

Main Facebook page: Stanford

Facebook fans: 226,322

YouTube channel: StanfordUniversity

YouTube videos/subscribers: 1,383/ 89,041

5. (tied) University of Chicago

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @UChicago

Twitter followers: 2,600

Other Twitter accounts: @uchicagonews, @UChicagoMag, @ChicagoMaroons, @UCPD, @uofcpsac

Main Facebook page: UChicago

Facebook fans: 47,555

YouTube channel: TheUofChicago

YouTube videos/subscribers: 70/ 511

5. (tied) University of Pennsylvania

U.S. News university ranking: 5 (tied)

Main Twitter account: UofPenn

Twitter followers: 9,013

Other Twitter accounts: @underthebutton, @dailypenn, @PennCurrent, @pennbookstore, @pennathletics, @PennWebTeam

Main Facebook page: UnivPennsylvania

Facebook fans: 24,057

YouTube channel: UnivPennsylvania

YouTube videos/subscribers: 233/ 1,999

10. Duke University

U.S. News university ranking: 10

Main Twitter account: @DukeNews

Twitter followers: 4,333

Other Twitter accounts: @Duke_SA, @dukestudents, @DukeOSAF, @DukeLibrarian, @dukeondemand, @DukeCampusFarm, @dukechronicle, @DUMBand, @DukeWellness, @Duke_Athletics, @DukePerformances

Main Facebook page: DukeUniv

Facebook fans: 88,191

YouTube channel: Duke

YouTube videos/subscribers: 219/1,386

Top National Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Williams College

U.S. News college ranking: 1

Main Twitter account: @williamscollege

Twitter followers: 2,675

Other Twitter accounts: @EphSports

Main Facebook page: williamscollege

Facebook fans: 6,523

YouTube channel: williamscollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 193/ 267

2. Amherst College

U.S. News college ranking: 2

Main Twitter account: @AmherstCollege

Twitter followers: 2,104

Other Twitter accounts: @wamhamherst, @AmherstBaseball, @theateranddance, @CollegianStaff, @AmherstSports

Main Facebook page: amherstcollege

Facebook fans: 4,800

YouTube channel: AmherstCollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 132/ 242

3. Swarthmore College

U.S. News college ranking: 3

Main Twitter account: @swarthmore

Twitter followers: 1,069

Other Twitter accounts: @swatgazette, @swarthmorestuco, @SwatAthletics

Main Facebook page: Swarthmore-College

Facebook fans: 3,030

YouTube channel: SwarthmoreCollegePA

YouTube videos/subscribers: 153/ 103

4. Pomona College

U.S. News college ranking: 4

Main Twitter account: @pomonacollege

Twitter followers: 1,564

Other Twitter accounts: @PomonaArtMuseum, @PomonaCDO

Main Facebook page: pomonacollege

Facebook fans: 4,136

YouTube channel: PomonaCollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 71/ 55

5. Middlebury College

U.S. News college ranking: 5

Main Twitter account: @Middlebury

Twitter followers: 2,789

Other Twitter accounts: @middblog, @middcampus, @MiddAthletics, @middartmuseum

Main Facebook page: middleburycollege

Facebook fans: 7,859

YouTube channel: middcommunications

YouTube videos/subscribers: 78/ 782

6. (tied) Bowdoin College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @bowdoincollege

Twitter followers: 1,092

Other Twitter accounts: @bowdoinnews, @bowdoinorient, @GoUBears, @BowdoinMuseum, @BowdoinCstore

Main Facebook page: Bowdoin

Facebook fans: 7,558

YouTube channel: Bowdoin1794

YouTube videos/subscribers: 57/ 52

6. (tied) Carleton College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @CarletonCollege

Twitter followers: 1,581

Other Twitter accounts: @CarletonNews, @CarletonKnights, @TheWellnessCntr, @BamcoCarleton, @CC_theCave

Main Facebook page: CarletonCollege

Facebook fans: 5,846

YouTube channel: carletoncollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 19/ 37

6. (tied) Wellesley College

U.S. News college ranking: 6 (tied)

Main Twitter account: @WellesleyNews

Twitter followers: 1,900

Other Twitter accounts: @Wellesleymag, @WellesleyBlue, @MyCWS

Main Facebook page: WellesleyCollege

Facebook fans: 7,528

YouTube channel: WellesleyCollegeTV

YouTube videos/subscribers: 25/ 56

9. Claremont McKenna College

U.S. News college ranking: 9

Main Twitter account: n/a

Other Twitter accounts: @cmcforum, @CMCnews

Main Facebook page: ClaremontMcKennaCollege

Facebook fans: 1,928

YouTube channel: claremontmckenna

YouTube videos/subscribers: 22/ 55

10. Haverford College

U.S. News college ranking: 10

Main Twitter account: @haverfordedu

Twitter followers: 641

Other Twitter accounts: @AskHaverford, @FordsSports, @haverfordhhc, @hcblacksquirrel

Main Facebook page: haverfordcollege

Facebook fans: 578

YouTube channel: haverfordcollege

YouTube videos/subscribers: 44/25

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, atreides64

More About: education, Social Media

CTRL + C Your Way to Instant Search Queries & Social Sharing

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 07:39 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: Click.to

Quick Pitch: Click.to turns copy, pasting and sharing or searching into a single action.

Genius Idea: You’re just one CTRL + C command away from copying content to your favorite app or service.

Select, copy, open application, paste and submit. We repeat these actions on a daily basis any time we want to share links with friends and followers on Facebook or Twitter, query a search engine or ecommerce site, and grab videos or images to send to colleagues via email.

Click.to, an add-on for Windows 7, XP or Vista, packages up all these actions into the CTRL + C command. Once installed, highlight whatever video, text or image content you want to look up, post, share or save, press CTRL + C and select the app icon of your liking.

“Click.to extends the most used short cut in the world: CTRL + C,” explains co-founder Peter Oehler.

Should you want to quickly Google a few words in a text document, Click.to comes to the rescue. Instead of selecting the text, opening a browser and pasting it into Google, you can copy the text and hit the Google button in the Click.to pop-up — voilà, you just CRTL + C’d your way to instant search results. Rinse and repeat.

Click.to works in much the same for sharing content on social networks. Say you want to post a picture to Facebook. “Click.to will start your browser automatically, it will select www.facebook.com, log into your account, choose picture upload and publish it on your wall … with one click,” Oehler explains.

This simple, little convenience could certainly save you a lot of time, especially since Click.to”s quick copy-to third-party service list is quite exhaustive and includes support for Facebook, Google, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Box.net, Wikipedia, Evernote, Amazon, Pastebin, Outlook, Word, Excel and others. You can even click to convert text into a PDF, and create your own shortcuts for the web services and programs of your choosing.

Best of all, perhaps, is that Click.to works system-wide. So what’s the catch? Click.to is PC-only for the time being. A Mac-compatible version is said to be in the works.

Click.to, released in early July, is a product from Axonic Informationssysteme GmbH, a Germany-based startup.

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, spark-of-genius, startup

iPhones Are For Old People, Says HTC Chief

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 05:45 PM PDT

The iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS are the two top-selling phones in America. But don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re cool, says Martin Fichter, acting president of HTC America.

Speaking at the Mobile Future Forward conference in Seattle, Fichter — pictured above with bicycle — related a story about taking his daughter to Reed College in Portland, where he took an informal survey of her dormitory buddies. “None of them has an iPhone,” Fichter said, “because they told me: ‘My dad has an iPhone.’ There's an interesting thing that's going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was. They were carrying HTCs. They were carrying Samsungs. They were even carrying some Chinese manufacturer’s devices.”

Added Fichter: “Macbook Airs are cool. iPhones are not that cool anymore. We here are using iPhones, but our kids don't find them that cool anymore."

HTC has been making some aggressive moves in the market of late. Currently, the manufacturer uses Android and Windows Phone 7 for its operating systems; earlier Monday, its CEO suggested in an interview that he was looking around for other mobile OS options, so that the company isn’t so reliant on software from Google or Microsoft; this despite the pro-Android stance that HTC took in the wake of the Google-Motorola deal. HTC has a smartphone market share of 9% and growing fast. At some Verizon stores, according to one poll, the HTC Thunderbolt has been outselling the iPhone 4.

Now comes Fichter, launching a broadside against one of the iPhone’s strongest defenses: the elusive sense of “cool.” It’s a risky strategy, especially given the anticipation swirling around the impending iPhone 5 launch. Presenting your daughter’s college dorm as representative of a wider trend, especially when the whole world is waiting for Apple’s next phone, seems a sure-fire route to ridicule.

On the other hand, Fichter has a point: iPhone owners tend to be older and more affluent, largely because their device is more expensive than the average Android equivalent. According to a recent infographic from recommendation engine Hunch, Android owners tend to have only a high school diploma and to be aged between 18 and 34 — the cool years, as far as most marketers are concerned.

Can HTC outmaneuver Apple by attempting to marginalize the iPhone? Or will the iPhone 5 launch blow that idea out of the water? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: apple, htc, iphone

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CBS Embraces Social Media For Fall TV Launch

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 04:49 PM PDT

The Fall TV season officially kicks off this week — and CBS.com is celebrating with two weeks of social media events for fans.

Starting Monday night, CBS.com will be running an online introduction to CBS’s fall schedule, called the Fall Premiere Show. After watching a set of 15-minute online previews, fans of CBS series — such as Hawaii Five-0, NCIS and CSI — can join live online chats with the shows producers. Each night this week, fans can log in using Facebook or Twitter, ask the producers questions and discuss the show in real time.

The chats, with the exception of CSI, are scheduled to coincide with the East Coast re-runs of each show’s season finale from last spring. Here’s the schedule and official Twitter hashtag for each show:

  • Sept. 12 – Hawaii Five-0 at 10 p.m. ET (#H50)
  • Sept. 13 – NCIS at 8 p.m. ET (#NCIS)
  • Sept. 14 – CSI at 7 p.m. ET (#CSI)
  • Sept. 15 – The Mentalist at 10 p.m. ET (#TheMentalist)
  • Sept. 16 – CSI:NY at 9 p.m. ET (#CSINY)

Tweet Week Returns

Live chats are just the start. From Sept. 19 through Sept. 26, CBS is bringing back its online Tweet Week promotion. Each night, CBS fans can follow along on Twitter or at CBS’s Tweet Week page to interact with actors and producers during the season premiere of some of CBS’s existing shows.

Fans can follow the hashtag #CBSTweetWeek or follow the Twitter accounts of each show’s actors or producers.

These are the shows that will be live tweeting their premiere’s during Tweet Week:

  • Sept. 19 – Hawaii Five-0
  • Sept. 20 – NCIS: Los Angeles
  • Sept. 21 – Survivor and Criminal Minds
  • Sept. 22 – The Big Bang Theory
  • Sept. 23 – A Gifted Man
  • Sept. 26 – The Good Wife

As Bravo’s Lisa Hsia noted at Mashable Connect, getting talent actively involved with a social media strategy is essential to building greater community engagement. And of course, CBS isn’t the only network that is embracing social media this year. Fox, ABC and NBC are also actively courting their audiences using social channels. We look forward to seeing at the ratings to gauge the impact social media has (or doesn’t have) — and what shows hit it big or just fizzle out.

Does social media enhance the network TV experience? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: cbs, Facebook, social tv, tweet week, Twitter

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Commuter’s Delight: 10 Fun iPhone Games You Can Play With One Hand

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 04:06 PM PDT

If you’re one of the millions of people around the world who rely on public transportation to get around, you’re often looking for new ways to kill time. Even if you’re not a gamer at heart, there are a multitude of games available on your iPhone, ranging from the casual to severely geeky.

One catch: many trains cut passengers off from precious data services, restricting their mobile options. Another caveat is that the best games for commuters need to be playable with just one hand, in case you find yourself clinging to any available handlebar space. (Bonus points if you can play these games while balancing your morning coffee — I’m not that good.)

You’ll notice that this list excludes the ubiquitous Angry Birds because I found I can’t achieve perfect trajectory while holding my phone sideways and swiping with one hand. Neither will you find more advanced games, like Cut the Rope, since some stages require multiple fingers for three-star accuracy. However, this list includes games from many different genres, so you’re bound to find something that helps make your morning commute whiz by.

What are your favorite ways to kill time while commuting? Did we miss any of your favorite games? Let us know in the comments.

The Last Rocket

Recently released, The Last Rocket, created by Shaun Inman, is a puzzle game with a cute, retro feel -- probably because your little rocket ship has eyes and ears. The goal is to navigate 64 levels to help the computer AMI collect all her gears that were scattered by a wayward solar flare.

This game is great for a commute because the levels and controls are simple -- you only have the ability to blast off and change directions, but the number of ways it's iterated as you fly past drones and dodge spikes is impressive.

[Download link]

Jetpack Joyride

I'm sorry for introducing you to Jetpack Joyride, because it's iPhone crack. This simple game relies on the rails principle: the screen constantly moves forward, as does the hero, Barry Steakfries, while a simple tap activates his jetpack. Your job is simply to give the jetpack the proper amount of juice as you pick up coins, grab crazy vehicles and wrack up achievements.

This game is the brainchild of hit-maker Halfbrick Studios, which also created Fruit Ninja, a game that sprung from iPhone to Xbox Kinect due to its popularity.

[Download link]

Tiny Wings

For another simple rails game, try Tiny Wings, made by Andreas Illiger, in which you control a little, pudgy bird whose wings are too small to fly. Thankfully, you can shoot up and down hills with lightning speed.

You only need one thumb-tap to make your bird gain momentum to soar to great heights. As a bonus, the style of this game is delightfully whimsical, and feels like the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

[Download link]

Shape Shift

Shape Shift may look like many other puzzle games you've played, but it has a unique angle. Swap shape blocks with any other matching block on the board to eliminate groups of four or more of the same color. This gets tricky once bombs are added into the game, which you must eliminate before time runs out. It's a time-convenient game you can play for 60 seconds or the whole commute.

Bonus: it's totally free. [Download link]


Now for a puzzle game with a twist: Shibuya. This game, apparently inspired by the neon awnings in one section of Tokyo, has you match bricks of color to eliminate them. Furthermore, you get to assign the color to the blocks before they fall, based on a queue in the top corner of your screen.

It took a couple of tries to learn, but was very fun once I got into it. And if you're able to play with headphones, the soundtrack is wonderful.

[Dowload link]


If you're a fan of trying to take over the world, you need to download Strategery. It involves trying to take over a whole continent populated with monochrome countries, all waiting to be stomped by the Blue army.

The game takes thought and planning, but it only takes one tap to declare war against your neighbors, and you'll find yourself wanting to continue even after you've reached your destination. The game offers a range of difficulty settings as well, so even when you think you've mastered it, you'll have another level to tackle.

[Download link]


If strategy games tickle your fancy, you might want to try geoDefense, a tower defense game in which you'll prepare for an invading army of "creeps" by setting up weaponry along their route. And just when you think you're out of the woods, another, more difficult wave comes at you.

Tower defense games, in general, are great for commutes or long waits because they usually involve simple, drag-and-drop setup, but still have a high level of action. geoDefense was made by Critical Thought Games, which totes it as a "Thinking man's Action Tower Defense" -- and it definitely delivers.

[Download link]


If you want to combine a love of numbers with a love of visual puzzle games, Drop7 will be addictive. The game has been out for a couple of years; it was originally published by area/code, then was purchased by game giant Zynga.

The concept is simple: Drop any of the numbered circles on a grid, and create a row or column containing that number of circles to make it disappear. So, dropping a "5" circle on top of a column of four circles would eliminate that column. There is serious strategy involved though, as you'll soon learn -- making combos of disappearing numbers helps you wrack up the points and keep the board clear. I highly recommend playing in Hardcore mode for the most action, but any of the game's three play modes are just as fun.

[Download link]

Game Dev Story

If I learned anything from Game Dev Story, it's that building video games takes a lot of time and resources, yet all problems can be solved with a helping of Red Bull. Game Dev Story is a simulation of a game development studio, where you have to hire and fire talent, allocate resources, and pick which genres and consoles to develop. It's a complex, extremely addictive game, with a lot of customizable options that will keep you engrossed for a long commute.

It also has many references to real video game history, for those of us geeky enough to recall it. If not, don't worry -- app-makers Kairosoft seem to be cranking out a variety of clever, equally engrossing sim titles for you to wile away the hours.

[Download link]

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

The last game is actually a port from the world of Nintendo DS, but I feel like it is just as successful on the iPhone. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, made by Capcom, has you battling the forces of evil in a courtroom. You control Phoenix, a rookie attorney who, along with having to interrogate witnesses on the stand, has to simultaneously investigate the crimes and win the favor of every underdog in town. The game has five chapters and takes you on a pretty engrossing story, and requires you to actually do a bit mental work along the way.

Did I mention it was also funny? There is the added bonus of getting to make Phoenix yell "Objection!" all the time. This game is five bucks, but will keep you entertained if you stick with it.

[Download link]

More About: games, iphone, Mobile

Samsung’s $100,000 Challenge to Devs: Connect Our TVs to Other Screens

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 02:57 PM PDT

Samsung hopes it can entice developers to create apps that can connect televisions, phones, tablets and laptops. For the second year in a row, Samsung is hosting what it calls the Free the TV Challenge.

The challenge tasks app developers to create applications and solutions using the Samsung TV App SDK. Last year, the focus was on getting third-party app content for the company’s line of Smart TV and Blu-ray players. This year, the company wants developers to focus on creating “converged apps”: Ones that will offer interaction between a Samsung Smart TV and at least one other screen, like a phone or tablet.

Samsung is asking developers to look into three categories:

  • Controller Apps – Ones that let a phone, tablet or PC control an app running on a TV.
  • Companion Apps – Think second screen apps, with a focus on synchronized, supplemented content.
  • Interactive Apps — Apps that let the user use a device as a secondary display. That means you could start using an app on one device and pick up where you left off on another gadget.

The winning developer will get $100,000, plus a 65″ LED TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The winning app will also be featured in the “Recommended” section of the Samsung Apps store for two months. Second and third place winners will receive $75,000 and $50,000 respectively, plus a 55″ TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The contest is open until November 29, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Judging will take place between December 2 and December 16, 2011. The winners will be announced on January 13, 2012, and Samsung’s website has a complete list of rules and eligibility requirements.

MOVL, the startup that won first place in the 2010 Free the TV Challenge, is making its MOVL Connect Platform available to developers free of charge during the contest period.

It makes sense that Samsung is asking developers to innovate and build cross-device applications. Connected devices are more common than not, and we access content in increasingly fluid ways. That said, we do wonder how much utility developers will be able to provide within the context of the Samsung TV SDK. And we hope devs will be able to incorporate technologies such as DLNA, which are supported by devices other than just Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, when building their apps.

The only real problem we see in the burgeoning connected app space is the high level of fragmentation. Almost every TV vendor has its own platform, and those platforms are often incompatible with one another. So developers have to build apps for multiple TV makers, not to mention set-top boxes like the Boxee Box, Roku and Google TV. We would really like to see TV makers align on some sort of base platform for connected applications.

What do you think of companies sponsoring developer contests to enhance their product ecosystems? Let us know in the comments.

More About: connected devices, connected tv, samsung, second screen, second screen apps

Apple Set to Break Record for Mac Sales This Fall [REPORT]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 02:24 PM PDT

The breathless anticipation swirling around the upcoming iPhone 5 release, and the runaway success of the iPad 2, may make it seem like Apple is entirely focused on its iOS devices these days.

But the company’s Mac division is no slouch, either.

According to the latest figures from research firm NPD, Macbooks, Mac Minis and iMacs had a really strong summer, with sales rising 22% in July and August. Based on those figures, Gene Munster — a veteran Apple analyst at Piper Jaffray — released a short note predicting Apple will sell a total of 4.5 million Macs this quarter. (And that’s a conservative estimate, based on the notion sales will slow to 16% growth for the quarter overall.)

To put that in perspective, Apple sold 4.1 million Macs during the 2010 holiday quarter — traditionally the strongest time of year. That marks the company’s previous all-time, one-quarter record.

What’s driving all the sales? In part, they represent a roaring start for Lion, the latest version of OS X, which came out in July and is packed with more cool, new features than the average OS X upgrade. On its first day of release, Lion — which is only available online or pre-installed in new Macs — saw an incredible one million downloads. That made it more popular than any previous Apple desktop operating system.

Timed to the Lion release, Apple also launched updated versions of the MacBook Air, Mac mini and Apple Cinema Display.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Do a Clean Install of OS X Lion

Things should naturally quiet down a bit in the Mac section of Apple stores as Lion gets a little longer in the tooth. On the other hand, nobody knows how much foot traffic the iPhone 5 launch will bring into stores next month — or how many customers might pick up a laptop or a Mini while they’re there.

But it seems a fair bet that the passing of the baton from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook has not slowed the juggernaut that is Apple — just as we predicted.

[via Apple Insider]

More About: apple, iPad 2, iphone, mac, macbook air, Macbook Pro

Astronomers Discover 16 Super-Earths

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 12:46 PM PDT

European astronomers announced Monday they’ve discovered 50 new planets, including 16 so-called Super-Earths, one of which is potentially habitable.

The existence of the exoplanets outside our solar system was reported at the Extreme Solar Systems meeting at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Astronomers made the discovery using the High Accuracy Radical velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) telescope in Chile. Over the past eight years, that instrument has helped discover a total of 150 new planets.

Of special interest are the Super-Earths, which are larger than our planet, but not as big as “ice giant” planets like Neptune. In particular, one of the worlds, HD 85512 b, is estimated to have a mass of about 3.6 times that of the earth. That planet is also close enough to its star that liquid water, which is considered essential for life, may be present.

“The detection of HD 85512 b is far from the limit of HARPS and demonstrates the possibility of discovering other super-earths in the habitable zones around stars similar to the Sun,” says Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the leader of the HARPS team, in a press release.

Officially discovered in August, HD 85512 b is about 35 light-years away in the constellation of Vela. The temperature on the planet has been estimated to be around 25 degrees Celcius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit, though astronomer Lisa Kaltanegger of the Max Planck Institute in Germany told The Associated Press the planet would be humid and reach temperatures of around 49 degrees Celcius or 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Donkeyhotey

More About: planets, space

A Day at the Beach Turns Into a Black-Tie Affair [VIDEO]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 11:29 AM PDT

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

The trend in American society is to show up underdressed for big events. Many of us know someone who could turn up for a wedding or a funeral in T-shirt and jeans, and it’s fairly common to see people show up for church on Sunday in flip-flops.

But Improv Everywhere decided to turn this phenomenon on its head and explore what would happen if a the beach was suddenly overrun by people in tuxes and dressy gowns. What happens next? Hilarity ensues, of course.

This is Improv Everywhere’s second Black Tie Beach — the last one was in August 2010 at Coney Island. Maybe next time they could get Mr. Tux to sponsor the next one. Who knew that tuxes were so versatile?

More About: entertaiment, improv everywhere, viral-video-of-day

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Terminator Vision App Sweeps Hackathon [VIDEO]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 10:56 AM PDT

The Hack of the Week Series highlights a new hackathon programming project each week.

Augmenting vision with details about whomever you’re looking at is no longer just a trick for artificially intelligent machines in a post-apocalyptic 2029.

A team at hackday.tv in New York swept both the people’s choice and first place awards Sunday with an iPhone app that gives you “terminator vision.” The app locates a person’s face through the iPhone’s camera and then reads his or her Facebook profile (you need to be Facebook friends for it to work). It uses the profile to provide you with a name, gender and birthdate on a red-tinted screen. If you want, you can hum some suspenseful music to yourself for the full effect.

Now that we’ve seen it, we’re not sure what took so long for someone to make this app. A face recognition API called Face.com has been making it easy for developers to add this capability since 2009. Isn’t this the next logical step?

“I think it’s the kind of thing that you can throw in the App Store and I will pay $1 for it,” says Reece Pacheco, co-founder of Shelby.tv, while announcing the hackathon winners. “And there are at least a million [people] like me who will do the same thing.”

Rich Cameron and Haris Amin, who both work for DailyBurn during the day, haven’t put the app on the App Store yet for potential trademark issues. “There’s going to be a cease and desist letters as soon as the story runs,” Cameron says.

But of the five hackathons that Amin has participated in this year, he says this was the most fulfilling.

“I just didn’t want to do something useful,” he says. “This was way more fun.”

More About: Gadgets, hack of the week, hackathon, hacking, iphone apps

4 Important Considerations for Creating a Remote Work Policy

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 10:25 AM PDT

The Digital Careers Series is supported by Elance, the world's leading site for online work. Check out Startup Cloud for tips on how to build a remote team.

It’s important for employers to put formal policies in place for remote workers so that employees are equipped with clear guidelines, enabling them to focus on the most important thing — doing their jobs.

Formal policies also give companies some rules and structure. One expert warns against sacrificing flexibility though, which is all-important when dealing with a remote workforce.

“One of the keys to having an effective remote work policy is flexibility. Because you are not going to have identical situations in remote workers’ circumstances, you have to allow for flexibility of time and place,” advises Michael D. Haberman, SPHR, VP & director of HR services at Omega HR Solutions.

“The policy needs to focus on outcomes and results. Building a policy that focuses on micro-managing will doom you to failure.”

While obvious details such as remuneration and duties should already be covered in your employees’ contracts, there are areas specific to remote working that need to be covered in your policy. We’ve highlighted four essential areas below.

1. The New Rules

A remote work policy should be drafted in addition to a standard employee contract. Due to the nature of remote working, there might be areas that contradict what has already been laid out in the contract. These areas need to be addressed.

You also need to clarify parts of the original contract which still stand, despite your employee being based remotely. More “woolly” areas — such as conduct, confidentiality, hours of work and who to report to — all have to be crystal clear so that everyone knows where they stand.

Finally on this point, make sure your employee is happy to share contact details with co-workers and business partners when necessary. Have they set up a separate phone line that they don’t mind being shared out? Are they fine with work mail coming directly to their home address or do you need to put a redirect in place? These are small details, but can make a big difference.

2. Equipment and Insurance

For office-based staff, equipment security isn’t usually an issue, but when your workforce is off premises, it becomes an important issue to address in a policy document.

How much equipment are you going to provide your remote worker? Will it just be the techie stuff — a laptop, phone, etc. — or are you prepared to help toward the cost of setting up a home office by contributing furniture, etc.? How does your employee make a request for additional equipment? Who pays if something breaks?

Does the employee need to get insurance coverage for any of your company equipment on their premises?

You must address all these issues in your policy in order to safeguard your company assets — this also ensures that there’s clarity for all involved if something goes wrong or needs replacing.

3. Expenses

Remote workers are entitled to expense all materials and equipment they use for work purposes, which can actually amount to a pretty sizable list. Are you offering your remote workers a home-working allowance? In addition to contributing toward their phone bill and electricity, you should also be aware that your remote worker will be footing the bills for incidental heating, lighting and even water costs.

You need to clarify just what you are prepared to contribute toward, and just as importantly, what you expect the employee to do in order to claim such expenses, such as provide copies of bills.

If your remote employee travels as part of his role, travel expenses should also be considered. It should also be made clear who pays the costs if the employee does have to travel to your head office, especially if it’s a considerable distance.

4. Security of Information

The level of security you need to set out in your policy will depend on what kind of business you run. Do you need to insist your employee keeps confidential documents under lock and key? Do you need to specify a secure postal address if and when they return documents to the main office? If so, will you foot the bill?

As far as digital security goes, will you be assisting your employee in ensuring they have a secure home network? Will you offer a site visit?

What happens if there is a breach of security? Does your employee know who to report it to, at all times?

No one likes to think of worst case scenarios, but if you do cover these important bases in your policy, when something does go wrong, you’ll have procedures in place.

Series Supported by Elance

The Digital Careers Series is supported by Elance, where businesses hire and manage in the cloud for immediate access to the talent they need, when they need it. Elance offers the flexibility to staff up or down, and it's faster and less expensive than traditional staffing and outsourcing. Check out Startup Cloud to learn more.

Images courtesy of Daehyun Park, Bryce Edwards, Marie Mosley, Sean McMenemy and Horia Varlan

More About: Business, digital careers series, How-To, remote worker, remote workforce

Americans Spend 23% of Internet Time on Social Networks [STUDY]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 10:09 AM PDT

Americans spend almost a quarter of their time online on social networking sites, says a Nielsen report released Monday.

According to the report — which combines data from Nielsen mobile and online meters, buzz data and a survey — Internet users spend more than twice as much time on social networks (including blogs) as they do on online games, the next top web destination by time.

The most popular social network as measured by Nielsen online meters is Facebook, followed by Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Nine of the 10 most popular social networks were dominated by women. Only LinkedIn had a percentage of men visiting the site that exceeds the percentage of men who are active Internet users. Women also watch more video content than men, although men watch longer videos.

Both genders are increasingly accessing social networks using mobile apps. Social networking app usage is up 30% from the same time last year. Social networking apps are the third most downloaded type of smartphone apps behind only games and weather apps. App growth has not affected the perentage of people who access social networks using mobile browsers. Mobile Internet users account for 47% more unique visits to social networks than they did last year.

Mobile is just one of the many ways Nielsen found social media use becoming universal.

“It’s the first time we looked at the data comprehensively,” says Nielsen's SVP of Media & Advertising Insights and Analytics Radha Subramanyam. “[What is most surprising to us] is the rapid adoption, the measurable reach of social media. Four out of five Internet users. One of five minutes spent online. When you have those numbers and see their scale, it’s staggering.”

image courtesy of Flickr, rishibando

More About: Nielsen, Social Media, social networks, study

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13 Branded iPhone Apps That Enhance Their Company’s Products

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 09:44 AM 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.

Branded mobile apps come in a variety of types — they tend to focus on entertainment, utility or product enhancement.

Entertainment and utility apps don’t necessarily highlight a company’s offerings in a lot of cases. But apps developed with product enhancement in mind generally introduce services beyond those already offered by businesses.

Using a mobile phone’s top features — such as its camera, GPS and Bluetooth — brands have created a number of innovative branded mobile apps that enhance their products and services. Here are 13 apps that do just that. Let us know about your favorites in the comments below.


Airbnb is a startup that enables users to seek out non-hotel travel accommodations listed by other users.

The mobile app features an added functionality for travelers on the go. Under the "Search" tab, the "Help! I need a place, tonight!" button helps users find and book nearby apartments that are available at the last minute.

ColorSmart by BEHR Mobile

Building upon its ColorSmart web app, paint producer BEHR introduced its ColorSmart mobile app, which lets users create and browse color palettes before buying paints.

The "photo match" options enables a user to take a picture or pick an existing picture from his or her photo album in order to choose colors for building a color palette. Once the user chooses a color or multiple colors, the app recommends color palettes.

Besides the "photo match" feature, the app also features a paint calculator that helps users determine costs and a store locator that finds nearby Home Depot stores, where app users can purchase their paint selections.

Chase Mobile

Chase bank announced a big update to its mobile app last July with the addition of Quick Deposit, its mobile deposit feature.

Using the app, Chase customers can snap shots of the front and back of a check, confirm details about the amount of the check and then deposit it into an account from anywhere.

The app also features Person-to-Person QuickPay, which allows users to issue payments to other individuals, as long as he or she has the person's email address.

Chipotle Ordering

Chipotle enables die-hard burrito fans to order from their phones with its Chipotle Ordering app. Users simply choose the nearest Chipotle, customize their items, enter payment details and pick up their orders.


The Domino's mobile app lets users order and track their pizzas all from the comfort of their homes. It boasts "more than 1.8 billion pizza combinations all in the palm of your hand," and its patented Domino's Live Pizza Tracker lets customers follow the step-by-step progress of their orders.

eBay Mobile

The eBay Mobile app's integration of a bar code scanner allows users to scan products in a store for price comparisons while shopping or even scan products that they plan to sell. In both cases, the app pulls up all relevant products and lets the user go from there.

Pizza Hut

Like Domino's, Pizza Hut lets hungry locals order via its mobile app. Users can log in or checkout as a "guest." Logged in users benefit from having orders automatically saved to their accounts for easy reordering. Unlike Domino's, though, Pizza Hut does not enable users to track the progress of their orders.

Jones Soda

The Jones Soda mobile app lets fanatics make a custom-labeled Jones Soda. Users personalize the label by adding in a mobile photo. They can also choose from 16 flavors and order 6-packs or 12-packs with their custom label right from the app.

Kodak Pic Flick

Are you one of those people who takes smartphone pictures that never see the light of day? With the Kodak Pic Flick app, that's no longer a problem -- well, as long as you have a Kodak Inkjet printer.

The app lets a user print pictures directly from his or her phone to a wireless Kodak Inkjet printer. It can print sizes anywhere from 2x3 to 8.5x11 inches and is compatible with the Kodak ESP 9200, 7200, 5200 Series and ESP Office 6100 All-in-One Printers.

Juice It Up

Domino's and Pizza Hut have cornered the pizza-by-phone market, but smoothie chain Juice It Up is hoping to make waves in the juice bar industry with its ordering-enabled mobile app.

The app lets smoothie lovers order and pay via their smartphones. Diehards can even save account information for subsequent orders.

Go Barefoot by Merrell

Shoemaker Merrell aims to revolutionize the way people walk, run, hike and play. As a result, it launched a minimalist line called Barefoot. Sure, people can buy the shoes, but do they really understand how they work and how to get the best out of them?

As Merrell explains on its website, "While going Barefoot increases balance, endurance and agility, the benefits of this groundbreaking exercise cannot be realized without the proper education, training and commitment."

As a result, the company launched the Go Barefoot app to train new shoe owners how to best wear the shoes. Featuring the "Merrell Barefoot Challenge," the app takes users through a step-by-step training program and tracks their progress. The app features more than 40 days of workouts, exercises and challenges, leading up to the ultimate challenge -- a 1.5 mile run in the Barefoot shoes.

W Hotels Worldwide

A number of hotels have introduced mobile apps, and most of them feign the ability to order room service in-app - they merely enable users to call room service from the app.

The W Hotel Worldwide app, though, enables hotel guests to order room service, such as meals or new towels, via the app. The navigation is a bit confusing, but the functionality is there.

The app also lets users stream custom music mixes compiled by emerging global DJs as an added bonus, courtesy of W Hotels Global Music Director, Michaelangelo L'Acqua.


The Zipcar app is chock-full of product-enhancing features. First off, a user can find and reserve available Zipcars using a map of his current location. The user can also view upcoming reservations (and extend or cancel them on the go). Once a user's rental time has come, he can use the app to locate the car by honking its horn. The app also lets a user lock and unlock the car's doors after scanning his Zipcard at the start of the reservation.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- 15 Keyboard Shortcuts To Enhance Your PC Productivity
- 5 Services For Building Websites On A Budget
- 10 Accessories To Boost Office Morale
- Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed By Small Businesses
- How To Use Social Media For Recruiting

More About: apps, branded apps, Business, Mobile, mobile apps

Posterous Swaps Blog Platform for Social Network

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Simple sharing service Posterous is shedding its blog origins in favor of becoming a full-featured social network.

The startup has dramatically redesigned its website, overhauled its user dashboard and vamped up its iPhone app with a retooled focus on private sharing. The new Posterous even has a new name: Posterous Spaces.

Posterous Spaces merges the startup’s two products — sites and groups — into one unified experience with a glossy new look and a stronger emphasis on sharing, social networking and content discovery.

“The idea,” says Posterous founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal, “is that you can create as many Posterous Spaces as you want, and they can be public or private … a family space, a photo space, a club space, a work space, whatever it may be.”

As for why the startup’s rolling out these changes: “People really love using Posterous because they can control how they share and who sees what they’re sharing,” Agarwal says. Posterous Spaces, he says, is the result of an 8-month-long re-envisioning process inspired by how members were using its Groups product.

Posterous’s 15 million users will log in Monday to find a restructured dashboard, sticking them right into a Reader tab. The tab serves as a feed of all content posted and shared by individuals the user is following. Posterous users have always been able to follow one another, but the Reader view is designed to ease following shared content.

The dashboard also has Popular, Activity and Spaces tabs for access to top public content, real-time activity across the user’s Spaces and Spaces administration, respectively.

Posterous for iPhone now replicates the entire new Spaces experience on mobile. “The iPhone application is a big effort to encapsulate all of the functionality on Posterous,” says Agarwal.

While site owners and group owners can continue posting and sharing as usual (for the most part), Posterous Spaces is a pretty radical departure from the status quo.

Instead of proffering users a blogging platform or a groups product, Posterous has become its own bona fide social network — a Facebook with an emphasis on private sharing or a Google+ with Spaces instead of Circles, if you will. You may even see a strong resemblance to Tumblr, though Posterous might fight you on that comparison.

“We’re building this for normal users,” says Agarwal. “This is how normal users want to share.”

We’ll let you be the judge of that. Let us know what you think of the new Posterous in the comments.

More About: posterous, social network, startup

Fall TV Goes Social: What’s On Monday Nights?

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 08:41 AM PDT

The Fall TV Goes Social Series breaks down what shows are premiering each night of the fall season and how they’re utilizing social media.

The network Fall TV season officially kicks off this week as 27 new shows hope they have what it takes to resonate with viewers.

To connect with audiences, networks, show producers and cast members are embracing social media, taking to Twitter and Facebook to get the word out and build buzz.

In celebration of the new season, we’ve decided to take a look at each of the new shows and the various social strategies at play. Check out the four new shows airing Monday nights this fall. Let us know in the comments which ones you’ll be watching.

2 Broke Girls

Network: CBS

Start Date: Monday, Sept. 19

Time Slot: 9:30 p.m. ET - 10:00 p.m. ET

Description: "2 Broke Girls is a comedy about two young women waitressing at a greasy spoon diner who strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business -- if only they can raise the cash."

How It's Using Social Media: Beyond just having official Twitter and Facebook accounts for the program itself, most of the cast members associated with 2 Broke Girls are also on Twitter. Lead actresses Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings are both actively tweeting in the lead-up to the show's premiere.

How to Follow: You can follow @2BrokeGirls_CBS on Twitter and like 2BrokeGirls on Facebook. CBS is also using the official Twitter hashtag, #2BrokeGirls for the show.

The Playboy Club

Network: NBC

Start Date: Monday, Sept, 19

Time Slot: 10:00 p.m. ET - 11:00 p.m. ET

Description: "It's the early '60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all your fantasies...and the key is the most sought after status symbol of its time."

How It's Using Social Media: In addition to the official Facebook Page and Twitter account, NBC has staged various promotions using its Fan It affinity game. NBC started promoting The Playboy Club in earnest over the summer and its campaign has paid off. The show already has nearly 94,000 likes on Facebook.

How to Follow: You can follow @NBCPlayboyClub on Twitter and like NBCThePlayboyClub on Facebook.

Terra Nova

Network: Fox

Start Date: Monday, Sept. 26

Time Slot: 8:00 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m. ET

Description: "A family travels from the year 2149 to the prehistoric past in an effort to help recolonize the planet and save mankind."

How It's Using Social Media: Fox has put a lot of effort into crafting its official Terra Nova website, including videos, photos and "behind-the-scenes" psychiatric evaluations that give you a better sense of the show and its characters. At LiveTerraNova.com, you can sign in to a site called "The Lottery" using Facebook to access a more enhanced, viral/second-screen aspect of the show.

How to Follow: You can follow @TerraNovaonFox on Twitter and like TerraNovaonFox on Facebook.

Hart of Dixie

Network: The CW

Start Date: Monday, Sept. 26

Time Slot: 9:00 p.m. ET - 10:00 p.m. ET

Description: "Fast-talking New Yorker and brand new doctor Zoe Hart has it all figured out -- after graduating top of her class from medical school, she'll follow in her father's footsteps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama."

How It's Using Social Media: The CW has dedicated a Facebook Page to the show, as well as a Twitter portal. The network is also using its official Twitter account and YouTube accounts to promote the show.

How to Follow: The CW has a handy social Twitter portal setup for its various shows, including Hart of Dixie. Cast members @ScottPorter and @Jaime_King are actively tweeting.

More About: Entertainment, fall tv, Fall TV Goes Social Series, social tv, TV

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7 Ways to Improve Your Event Planning With Facebook

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 08:25 AM PDT

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media. Now that Facebook will no longer allow your brand to hide comments from your followers, knowing the right strategies for moderating is paramount. Download our guide to Facebook publishing and moderation now.

From professional event producers to volunteer committee members, event planners see Facebook as must-have tool in their belts. How can Facebook give a boost to your next event?

We spoke with a few experts on using the world’s largest social network for event planning. Read on for their pro tips and let us know how you use Facebook for your events in the comments below.

1. Get Inspired

Looking for some creative inspiration? Facebook to the rescue. Adrianne Mellen Ramstack, owner and principle planner at Adrianne Elizabeth LLC, uses Facebook to discover new, innovative ideas.

"I use Facebook a lot for inspiration,” she says, “I 'Like' The Knot, Real Simple, Rose Bredl Flowers, La Jeune Mariee and Big Rock Little Rooster (to name a few) to stay up on inspiration and new trends in wedding and event planning."

2. Stay Connected

During the event planning process, organizers often need to share updates with the planning committee. A "closed" or "secret" Facebook Group can be more collaborative and interactive than countless emails going back and forth. As the event organizer, use this space to share event updates, solicit input or delegate tasks to volunteers. Selling tickets? Ask group members to share what approach they've found most successful. Looking for sponsors? Throw it out to the group to see if someone can facilitate an introduction.

Groups can also help attendees connect with each other in advance. For example, NASA hosts #NASATweetUps to offer a behind-the-scenes experience to @NASA followers. A closed Facebook group connects attendees leading up to the events. According to the group description for the STS-135 tweetup, members "discuss travel plans, organize group housing, and generally GEEK OUT about the amazing opportunity they have been given."

Remco Timmermans, who attended the STS-135 tweetup found the Facebook group to be a helpful resource. He appreciated the direct interaction with participants and the helpful resources housed within the group, such as lists of hotels. The private group provided a forum for attendees to reminisce and relive the excitement by sharing post-event photos and videos.

3. Scope Out Vendors

Vendor selection is critical to the success of any event, so as you're researching caterers, photographers or entertainment, take a peak at their Facebook pages to read feedback from previous customers. If you notice negative feedback from unsatisfied customers, think twice before hiring that company for your event.

4. Increase Attendance

According to recent Eventbrite data, 10% of those purchasing tickets through Eventbrite share the event on Facebook. Including social sharing options at the point of purchase is helpful, however, event planners may find more value by following Eventbrite's step-by-step guide to creating a Facebook event that syncs up with Eventbrite's ticket-selling platform. Friends and contacts can view event details on Facebook and then register by clicking on the event link, which takes them back to the original Eventbrite page.

In addition, developing exclusive offers for Facebook communities can spark new sales. According to Ramstack, the Central Ohio Capital Area Humane Society has generated additional ticket sales for its upcoming fundrasier by offering a Facebook-only discount. Tickets, normally $80, are available to Facebook "likers" for $60.

5. Recognize Sponsors

Kelly O'Donoghue, an event planner in Tampa, FL, suggested offering Facebook recognition as an additional perk for sponsors. A few ideas:

  • Create an album to feature sponsor logos
  • Tag status updates to show appreciation to sponsors and help them expand their Facebook community
  • Invite sponsors to write a "guest note" on the organization's Facebook page
  • Post a video interview about why sponsors support the event
  • Share sponsors' relevant updates/news on the organization’s Facebook page

6. Share Real-Time Updates

During the event, don't forget to continue to offer as-it-happens updates through a brand or organization's Facebook page. Bringing the event to Facebook can help create additional interest in the event (and future ones). Posting photos, sharing video clips and livestreaming are a few opportunities to spark interaction with your Facebook community.

7. Post-Event Follow-Up

After the event, use Facebook to increase online engagement. Provide an event recap with photos and video. Thank people for participating, collect feedback by posting "Questions" or a survey link, and invite them to stay connected by subscribing to the company's blog or e-newsletter.

Now, let's hear from you. What other ways can Facebook help event planners?

Series Supported by Buddy Media

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media. Now that Facebook will no longer allow your brand to hide comments from your followers, knowing the right strategies for moderating is paramount. Download our guide to Facebook publishing and moderation now.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Antonprado

More About: event planning, Events, Facebook, Facebook Marketing Series

Glenn Beck Online Network Set to Make $20 Million This Year [REPORT]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 08:18 AM PDT

Glenn Beck’s second act, as an online entrepreneur, seems to be shaping up as a success.

The former Fox News personality, who left his TV job in June, has signed up 230,000 subscribers, even though his online show hasn’t launched yet, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Prices to access the network, called GBTV, range from $4.95 a month to access Beck’s two-hour show to $9.95 a month for that show plus documentaries and behind-the-scenes programs. Those two options are also available for $49.95 and $99.95 a year, respectively.

All told, GBTV, could take in as much as $20 million in its first year, according to a source in the article. Those 230,000 subscribers could also trump the 156,000 people who were watching the Oprah Winfrey Network in June. Beck was said to receive a $2.5 million annual salary from Fox News.

Reps from GBTV could not be reached for comment.

Beck’s show on GBTV is set to premiere on Monday, a day after the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and a date evoked by Beck’s 9/12 Project. Beck launched the network in June featuring behind-the-scenes programming. That launch came after ratings for Glenn Beck on Fox News fell from 3 million viewers in January 2010 to 1.6 million in early 2011. In addition, Beck’s provocative right-wing assertions caused more than 100 marketers to pull their ads from the show.

More About: fox news, GBTV, Glenn Beck, Media

Dolphin Launches Gesture-Based Browser for the iPad

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 08:06 AM PDT

MoboTap, the creator of the popular Dolphin Browser for Android and iPhone, has unleashed a browser for the iPad.

The app, Dolphin Browser HD, contains all of the gesture control features that have made it a hit on the Android platform. Drawing a “<" will take you back a page, and drawing a ">” will take you forward. Users can also create their own gestures and shortcuts to access their favorite websites or launch browser commands. (We suggest “M” for Mashable.)

The iPad app also includes Dolphin Webzine, the browser’s Flipboard-style system for reading web content, tabbing browsing, a URL bar that predicts what website you’re going to type, and a speed dial for accessing favorite websites with a quick tap. Users can access their bookmarks by swiping from left-to-right or their open tabs by swiping right-to-left.

Like its iPhone counterpart, Dolphin Browser for the iPad is built on top of Safari. Dolphin Browser for iPad is fast though (we’ve tested it) and the gesture commands are intuitive for the touchscreen browser. We could see a lot of people removing the Safari App from their App Trays and replacing it with Dolphin.

In July, MoboTap raised $10 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital.

Check out the screenshots of the new Dolphin Browser for iPad and let us know in the comments if you’re thinking of switching from Safari.

Dolphin Browser: Gestures

Drawing a gesture on the Dolphin Browser initiates actions such as opening a webpage or refreshing the page.

Dolphin Browser: Webzine

Webzine is Dolphin's Flipboard-like service for consuming web content.

Dolphin Browser: Tabbed Browsing

The Dolphin Browser includes tabbed browsing.

Dolphin Browser: Bookmarks

Swipe to the left to access bookmarks.

Dolphin Browser: Speed Dial

The Dolphin Browser's Speed Dial provides quick access to favorite sites.

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Hawk

More About: dolphin, Dolphin Browser, Dolphin Browser for iPad, ipad, ipad app, MoboTap

Make Temporary Phone Numbers With RingCentral’s New App [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 07:11 AM PDT

Giving your phone number to a pushy salesman or posting it on Craigslist no longer needs to include the risk of unending unwanted calls. Cloud-based phone system company RingCentral has released a new product that generates temporary phone numbers that will forward calls to your phone for seven days before expiring.

The app, RingShuffle, doles out temporary numbers that work much like permanent phone numbers that RingCentral has set up for about 200,000 small business and that Google Voice provides for individuals. Users simply enter their real numbers into the iPhone app, Facebook app or website and choose a phone number in an area code of their choice. When someone calls that temporary number, the call is redirected to the real number.

Giving the phone numbers an expiration date, which can be shortened or extended from the seven-day standard, makes them useful for online buying or selling, online dating or other situations that require communication with strangers.

SEE ALSO: 10 Fascinating Facts About Phone Numbers

VP of Products Naveen Gupta says that the basic version will remain free to use, and that the company is considering selling premium features such as multiple temporary numbers at once.

RingCentral, which was founded in 2003, replaces small business phone systems with a more affordable cloud-based alternative. This is its first foray into consumer-facing products.

Last week, the company announced that it had raised $10 million of funding, and CEO Vlad Shmunis said that an IPO was a “viable future possibility.”

Image courtesy of Phil Campbell

More About: ringcentral, RingShuffle

HTC Considers Purchasing a Mobile Operating System [REPORT]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 06:48 AM PDT

HTC, a company that builds smartphones based on Android and Windows Phone 7 operating systems, is mulling a purchase of a new mobile OS, HTC CEO Cher Wang told the Economic Observer of China.

“We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse,” Wang said in the interview.

While such a purchase is far from a done deal, the fact that HTC is even considering it is telling. Nokia has close ties with Microsoft and its WP7 platform; HP folded its webOS business, and Google recently purchased Motorola Mobility. This leaves HTC — which has grown to be one of the biggest phone manufacturers in the world — exposed and dependent on two mobile operating systems whose owners’ priorities lie elsewhere.

It’s no wonder Samsung — another phone manufacturer that’s been very successful with Android-based smartphones — still pushes its own mobile OS, Bada, although it has had little success actually selling Bada-based devices.

If HTC wants a new mobile operating system, perhaps as a “spare” similar to Samsung’s Bada strategy, there are a number of avenues the company can take. It could try to develop one in-house, purchase an already finished product (such as HP’s webOS) or perhaps find a middle ground by extending the functionality of its own Sense, which acts as an additional UI layer on Android devices.

[via Focus Taiwan]

More About: htc, mobile OS, phone, smartphone

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The Boston Globe Puts Newspaper Content Behind Paywall

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 06:40 AM PDT

The Boston Globe took the wraps off the new BostonGlobe.com Monday.

A year ago, the publication announced that the online version of its newspaper would be moving from boston.com, an ad-supported site, to a new subscriber-only site.

The design is elegant and clean, in part because the publication wanted to provide paying readers with a less ad-heavy experience.

It’s also perfectly optimized for viewing on tablets, smartphones and desktops, thanks to the opportunities afforded by HTML5. Visitors on smartphones and tablets are not loading a separate series of stylesheets designed for mobile; they’re browsing the same site in a narrower view, complete with touch-enabled galleries and story carousels.

The Boston Globe has also built in an Instapaper-like bookmarking service for saving stories for offline reading.

The site is available for free through a sponsored trial subscription through Sept. 30. Print subscribers will continue to receive complete access to the site at no additional charge. Digital-only subscriptions are available for $3.99 per week.

The publication is working on a series of native apps designed to capture device owners who do much of their content discovery through app stores, says Jeff Moriarty, VP of digital products at The Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, Boston.com — previously the online home of much of The Boston Globe‘s journalism — has relaunched as a free, local news site, pulling in breaking news, sports, weather and more from a variety of sources, including some from The Boston Globe.

Publisher Christopher Mayer says that The Boston Globe decided to split into two different sites to serve two different categories of readers. "Our research shows that Boston.com currently attracts several different types of user. Some are readers whose main interest is breaking news and things to do, while others want access to the entirety of The Boston Globe. These two distinct sites will allow us to serve both types of readers with maximum effectiveness, while continuing to provide advertisers the large engaged audience they have come to expect from Boston.com," he says.

The strategy follows two emerging trends in the news industry. The first is a growing propensity among traditional print news organizations to charge readers for full access to content. A number of newspapers have placed or plan to place some or all of their content behind paywalls, including The Wall Street Journal, The London Times and The New York Times, the latter of which is owned by the same parent company as The Boston Globe.

Boston.com follows a different movement: The somewhat recent proliferation of free local news sites such as ChicagoNow, owned by The Chicago Tribune, Patch, AOL’s network of neighborhood blogs, and TBD.com, the content for which is sourced from other providers. These sites are filling in the void of local newspapers, more than 100 of which shut down in 2009.

While the decision to split into two distinct properties may strike some as odd, it appears to be a wise move in a transitioning market. Faced with rising costs, falling print circulation and declining or flat advertising revenue, newspapers have been forced to explore new business models. Although digital advertising revenue is growing, the web offers nearly infinite ad space, and newspapers simply cannot command the same rates for online display ads as they could once charge for print.

Promo Video

More About: boston globe, Media, paywall

7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 06:26 AM PDT

The Web Design Usability Series is supported by join.me, an easy way to instantly share your screen with anyone. join.me lets you collaborate on-the-fly, put your heads together super-fast and even just show off.

Writing content for web users has its challenges. Chief among them is the ease with which your content is read and understood by your visitors (i.e. its readability).

When your content is highly readable, your audience is able to quickly digest the information you share with them — a worthy goal to have for your website, whether you run a blog, an e-store or your company’s domain.

Below are a handful of dead-simple tips and techniques for enhancing the usability and readability of your website’s content.

These tips are based on research findings and suggestions by well-regarded usability experts such as Jakob Nielsen.

This list is not exhaustive, and is meant merely to arm you with a few ideas that you can implement right away. If you have additional tips to add, please share them in the comments.

General Goals of User-Friendly Web Content

Usable, readable web content is a marriage of efforts between web designers and web content writers.

Web pages must be designed to facilitate the ease of reading content through the effective use of colors, typography, spacing, etc.

In turn, the content writer must be aware of writing strategies that enable readers to quickly identify, read and internalize information.

As we go through the seven tips below, keep these three general guidelines in mind:

  • Text and typography have to be easy and pleasant to read (i.e. they must legible).
  • Content should be easy to understand.
  • Content should be skimmable because web users don’t read a lot. Studies show that in a best-case scenario, we only read 28% of the text on a web page.

What simple things can we do to achieve these goals? Read on to see.

1. Keep Content as Concise as Possible

It’s pretty well known that web users have very short attention spans and that we don’t read articles thoroughly and in their entirety. A study investigating the changes in our reading habits behaviors in the digital age concluded that we tend to skim webpages to find the information we want.

We search for keywords, read in a non-linear fashion (i.e. we skip around a webpage instead of reading it from top to bottom) and have lowered attention spans.

This idea that we’re frugal when it comes to reading stuff on the web is reinforced by a usability study conducted by Jakob Nielsen. The study claims a that a 58% increase in usability can be achieved simply by cutting roughly half the words on the webpages being studied.

Shorter articles enhance readability, so much so that many popular readability measurement formulas use the length of sentences and words as factors that influence ease of reading and comprehension.

What you can do:

  • Get to the point as quickly as possible.
  • Cut out unnecessary information.
  • Use easy-to-understand, shorter, common words and phrases.
  • Avoid long paragraphs and sentences.
  • Use time-saving and attention-grabbing writing techniques, such using numbers instead of spelling them out. Use “1,000″ as opposed to “one thousand,” which facilitates scanning and skimming.
  • Test your writing style using readability formulas that gauge how easy it is to get through your prose. The Readability Test Tool allows you to plug in a URL, then gives you scores based on popular readability formulas such as the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease.

2. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles

A usability study described in an article by web content management expert Gerry McGovern led him to the conclusion that Internet readers inspect webpages in blocks and sections, or what he calls “block reading.”

That is, when we look at a webpage, we tend to see it not as a whole, but rather as compartmentalized chunks of information. We tend to read in blocks, going directly to items that seem to match what we’re actively looking for.

An eye-tracking study conducted by Nielsen revealed an eye-movement pattern that could further support this idea that web users do indeed read in chunks: We swipe our eyes from left to right, then continue on down the page in an F-shaped pattern, skipping a lot of text in between.

We can do several things to accommodate these reading patterns. One strategy is to break up long articles into sections so that users can easily skim down the page. This applies to block reading (because blocks of text are denoted by headings) as well as the F-shaped pattern, because we’re attracted to the headings as we move down the page.

Below, you’ll see the same set of text formatted without headings (version 1) and with headings (version 2). See which one helps readers quickly skip to the sections that interest them the most.

What you can do:

  • Before writing a post, consider organizing your thoughts in logical chunks by first outlining what you’ll write.
  • Use simple and concise headings.
  • Use keyword-rich headings to aid skimming, as well as those that use their browser’s search feature (Ctrl + F on Windows, Command + F on Mac).

3. Help Readers Scan Your Webpages Quickly

As indicated in the usability study by Nielsen referenced earlier, as well as the other supporting evidence that web users tend to skim content, designing and structuring your webpages with skimming in mind can improve usability (as much as 47% according to the research mentioned above).

What you can do:

  • Make the first two words count, because users tend to read the first few words of headings, titles and links when they’re scanning a webpage.
  • Front-load keywords in webpage titles, headings and links by using the passive voice as an effective writing device.
  • Use the inverted pyramid writing style to place important information at the top of your articles.

4. Use Bulleted Lists and Text Formatting

According to an eye-tracking study by ClickTale, users fixate longer on bulleted lists and text formatting (such as bolding and italics).

These text-styling tools can garner attention because of their distinctive appearance as well as help speed up reading by way of breaking down information into discrete parts and highlighting important keywords and phrases.

What you can do:

  • Consider breaking up a paragraph into bulleted points.
  • Highlight important information in bold and italics.

5. Give Text Blocks Sufficient Spacing

The spacing between characters, words, lines and paragraphs is important. How type is set on your webpages can drastically affect the legibility (and thus, reading speeds) of readers.

In a study called “Reading Online Text: A Comparison of Four White Space Layouts,” the researchers discovered that manipulating the amount of margins of a passage affected reading comprehension and speed.

What you can do:

  • Evaluate your webpages’ typography for spacing issues and then modify your site’s CSS as needed.
  • Get to know CSS properties that affect spacing in your text. The ones that will give you the most bang for your buck are margin, padding, line-height, word-spacing, letter-spacing and text-indent.

6. Make Hyperlinked Text User-Friendly

One big advantage of web-based content is our ability to use hyperlinks. The proper use of hyperlinks can aid readability.

What you can do:

7. Use Visuals Strategically

Photos, charts and graphs are worth a thousand words. Using visuals effectively can enhance readability when they replace or reinforce long blocks of textual content.

In fact, an eye-tracking study conducted by Nielsen suggests that users pay “close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information.”

Users, however, also ignore certain images, particularly stock photos merely included as decorative artwork. Another eye-tracking study reported a 34% increase in memory retention when unnecessary images were removed in conjunction with other content revisions.

What you can do:

  • Make sure images you use aid or support textual content.
  • Avoid stock photos and meaningless visuals.

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The Web Design Usability Series is supported by join.me, an easy way to instantly share your screen with anyone. join.me lets you collaborate on-the-fly, put your heads together super-fast and even just show off. The possibilities are endless. How will you use join.me? Try it today.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Kontrec

More About: web design, Web Design Usability Series

How Consumers Interact With Brands on Facebook [STUDY]

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 06:00 AM PDT

People interact with their favorite brands on Facebook far more than on any other social network, according to a recent study of online consumer behavior.

The study, conducted by Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, analyzed the behavior of 1,491 consumers ages 18 and older throughout the United States and revealed a number of details about how people interact with brands on the world’s largest social network.

When it comes to “Liking” brands on Facebook, the reasons are varied, but for the most part, respondents said they "Like" a brand on Facebook because they are a customer (58%) or because they want to receive discounts and promotions (57%).

SEE ALSO: 13 Best Practices for Restaurants on Facebook

Being a fan, for the most part, is a rather passive activity. A whopping 77% of consumers said they interact with brands on Facebook primarily through reading posts and updates from the brands.

A measly 17% of respondents said they interact with brands by sharing experiences and news stories with others about the brand, and only 13% of respondents said they post updates about brands that they Like.

The study also pointed to a number of encouraging stats for businesses, including:

  • 56% of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook
  • 51% of consumers said they are more likely to buy a product since becoming a fan on Facebook
  • 78% of consumers who "Like" brands on Facebook said they "Like" fewer than ten brands

Contrary to another study published in February that stated that 81% of consumers have either "unliked" or removed a company's posts from their Facebook News Feed, this study reports that 76% of consumers said they have never "unliked" a brand on Facebook.

For brands looking to make the biggest impact on Facebook, it is essential to share compelling content, minimize marketing messages and refrain from overwhelming readers with too frequent updates.

View the complete study here:

More About: Facebook, Marketing

Today’s Top Headlines in Tech, Business & Social Media

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 05:22 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on four particular stories of interest today.

Amazon Working on a Netflix for Books

Amazon is allegedly planning to launch a service that would offer customers access to a library of books for a fixed monthly fee.

McGraw-Hill to Split Into Two Separate Companies

McGraw-Hill is spinning off its education unit into a separate company.

Carol Bartz Resigns From Yahoo Board

Despite initial claims to the contrary, Carol Bartz has resigned from Yahoo’s board of directors.

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

A hacker collective hacked the Twitter account of NBC News Friday evening, falsely reporting that an airliner had crashed into Ground Zero in New York.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: first to know series

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