Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “EXCLUSIVE: Studio Audiences for NBC Shows Get Special GetGlue Stickers”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “EXCLUSIVE: Studio Audiences for NBC Shows Get Special GetGlue Stickers”

EXCLUSIVE: Studio Audiences for NBC Shows Get Special GetGlue Stickers

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 05:00 AM PDT

Starting Wednesday night, studio audiences for certain NBC shows will be encouraged to do more than laugh and applaud. NBC is hoping they’re also going to check in with GetGlue.

The program will start with studio audience checkins for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where audience members can unlock and share exclusive stickers via GetGlue, Twitter and Facebook. Audiences for the Sept. 24 premiere of Saturday Night Live will also be able to check in and get the stickers.

The stickers are the main draw for the audiences. Otherwise, they’ll access GetGlue the usual way — via their mobile phones. NBC and GetGlue are hoping the stickers will offer bragging rights for those who actually attend the tapings.

NBC and GetGlue, of course, hope that those audience members will spread the word and promote the shows. The audience sizes for those shows aren’t huge. Tapings for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, for instance, is only attended by about 400 people and the other shows are about the same size.

NBC partnered with GetGlue in March, offering rewards for GetGlue users who let their friends on Facebook and Twitter know when they’re watching a NBC show.

More About: Facebook, getglue, nbc, Twitter

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HTC Sensation XE Is the First Phone to Come with Beats Audio

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 02:52 AM PDT

HTC‘s recent partnership with Beats Audio has produced its first result: a revamped version of HTC Sensation called HTC Sensation XE.

The device is aimed at music lovers, and comes with several software and hardware enhancements to provide a better audio experience. Besides shipping with Beats by Dr. Dre in-ear headphones, the Sensation XE also features a special audio profile that automatically turns on when you use the headphones, as well as a remote control which allows you to pause, play or skip through tracks as well as answer and end calls without touching the phone.

Some of the other specs have been bumped too, so the new Sensation now comes with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor as well as an extended battery pack which will come handy for those long music listening sessions.

As far as price & availability goes, all we know is that the device will be available in EMEA and Asia Pacific from late September.

More About: Beats Audio, htc, HTC Sensation XE, smartphone

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Windows 8 Developer Preview Now Available for Download

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 12:33 AM PDT

Can’t wait to try out Windows 8 for yourself after Microsoft’s big unveiling of the new OS at yesterday’s Build Conference? Well, you needn’t wait any longer, as the developer preview version of the OS is now available for download.

You can install it on a 32-bit or a 64-bit x86 machine. Activation is not required, but it’s far from a finalized version of the OS, so if you do install it, expect bugs and glitches. In any case, you should definitely check out Microsoft’s Windows 8 guide to get an idea of what you can expect from the next version of Windows. Also, check out our list of four most important new features in Windows 8.

Without further ado, the download is available here. If you choose to install it, please share your experiences in the comments!

Windows 8: Photos & Screenshots

Windows 8 Devices

Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Windows 8 Devices: A Closer Look

These are some of the devices running Windows 8 at Microsoft's Build conference.

Windows 8: Lock Screen

"Your personalized lock screen shows you unread emails and other app notifications. The image shown here is a photo of the road leading to Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Start Screen

"See your apps and content in a glance on the start screen."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Files

"Pick the files you want to send or share from one place."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Internet Explorer

"Touch browsing is fast, fluid and intuitive."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Thumb

"The thumb keyboard feels natural and comfortable."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Touch Keyboard

"Large buttons help you type on the touch keyboard."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky takes the stage at Build.

More About: microsoft, operating system, Windows, Windows 8

Songza Mobile Apps Socialize the Digital Mix Tape

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 09:11 PM PDT

Streaming music service Songza launched apps for Android and iOS on Tuesday that are designed to make it easy for music fans to find and share digital playlists for practically any occasion.

Think of Songza as curated, hand-picked Internet radio. Like Pandora, Songza is not a stream-on-demand service (meaning, you can’t request to play a certain track or album). Unlike Pandora, Songza doesn’t impose any limitations on how much music you can listen to and it doesn’t serve any audio advertisements. Additionally, Songza doesn’t focus on creating artist based radio stations — although you can do that — instead, it focuses on connecting users with curated or peer-created mix tapes.

These playlists are organized around activities (like “Cocktail Party” or “Coding”), genres (“’70s NYC Punk” or “Math Rock”), Moods and even Culture. For instance, there is a whole playlist category dedicated to Cover Songs, featuring playlists like “More Popular Than the Original” and “Covering Cash.” The playlists are designed to capture a certain mood, event or activity.

Using the free Songza mobile app for iPhone [iTunes link] and Android [Android Market link], users can search and browse through Songza’s expertly curated playlists, save their favorites to their phone and share what they are listening to with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

The Songza team’s previous venture, Amie Street, was acquired by last fall. Songza just closed a financing round led by the same investors that were previously involved in Amie Street. The company clearly has big plans for enhancing its social offerings by allowing users to share their playlists or favorites via social networks.

As it stands, Songza sees itself as a “music concierge” and a better, smarter way of handling social music discovery.

After using the iPhone app over the last 24 hours, we agree. Without a doubt, Songza has the smartest, most well thought out collection of playlists of any of the subscription music services. What we really appreciate is that it is clear that a lot of vetting has gone into creating the officially sanctioned lists. If your friends are on Songza, you can also use the app to follow the playlists they share or like and vice versa.

The one downside to Songza and its mobile app is that right now, users can only create playlists at the website. Moreover, Songza’s licensing restrictions prevent users from listening to the playlists they create themselves.

Your friends can listen to your custom mix of ultimate Fall in New York City tunes, but you, the creator can’t. Songza’s co-founder and CEO Elias Roman told us that the company is looking at either partnering with existing on-demand subscription services such as Spotify or working out its own on-demand licensing agreement so that users can listen to their own selections.

If Songza can nail that last loop and provide users who are willing to pay with on-demand access to their own playlists, we could easily see Songza taking off in a huge way.

Still, even with the self-playlist limitations, Songza for iPhone and Android is one of the most promising mobile music apps we’ve seen all year.

Songza Home Screen

Playlist Categories On Your Device

You can organize playlists into categories and groups that you create yourself.


You can browse playlists based on different parameters, including "Mood," "Genre," "Culture" and "Activity"


Check out some of the various sub-categories in culture.

Cover Songs

The Cover Songs category has lots of pre-curated playlists for cover fans.

Film Playlists

These playlists were crafted for film fans.


A playlist for every occasion.

Record Store Clerk

Within the Record Store Clerk section, I can look at playlists organized by a certain type.

Female Vocalist Playlists

Playlists can be drilled further down once a sub category is selected.

Playlist Info

The playlist description, the types of artists included and the ability to save a playlist for future listening.

Save Playlist

Playlists can be saved to an existing category or one that you choose.


The playback screen.


You can share a track or playlist on Facebook, Twitter or email.

Facebook Share

The app lets you control what the status update says and doesn't automatically post anything on your behalf. We like this.

Twitter Share

Users can control the content of the tweet before it goes live.

Activity Feed

The activity feed lets users see what their friends are listening to and enjoying.

Skip Limit

Like Pandora, Songza licenses its content like an online radio station, which means you are limited to a certain number of "skips" per hour for a certain playlist or station.

More About: iphone apps, pandora, songza

4 Considerations for Expanding Your Startup to International Markets

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 08:34 PM PDT

Miguel Valdés Faura is the CEO and co-founder of BonitaSoft, a France-based company that produces business process management software, and provides commercial services and support for the open source Bonita project, of which he is also co-founder. BonitaSoft has offices in France, the U.S. and China, and recently recorded their 1,000,000th download of Bonita Open Solution. Follow Miguel on Twitter @MiguelValdes.

Amidst an increasingly connected world, globalization is the order of the day. The concept poses both great benefits and significant challenges to entrepreneurs. However, while the benefits are many (including more efficient communication and greater potential for collaboration), today's digital age can put increased pressure on young businesses to expand globally — and to do so quickly.

There is something to allowing your business to grow organically and not to push expansion too rapidly. On the other hand, it's important to consider the realities of today's business environment. If you're a startup entrepreneur, you risk facing a competitive disadvantage if you wait too long to expand your operations.

The first step in the process of expansion is identifying which markets are of the most strategic significance to your business. Once you've targeted a market, however, things can quickly become convoluted and overwhelming.

With that in mind, here are four tips for entrepreneurs looking to expand globally.

1. Clearly Define Your Business Model

While this may sound like a trivial task, young startups often have an exciting and innovative product, but no real plan for monetizing it. If you're working with an open source project, for example, it's important that you have a definitive business model to drive revenue — though not at the cost of alienating your community of core contributors.

To that end, companies will offer enterprise-ready software that comes with additional features, services and support. They may also contribute code to the community that comprises the backbone of their technology.

While the aforementioned example may not fit every startup, regardless, you need to have an actionable, scalable business model with measurable metrics (downloads, customers, etc.) in place before you expand. It's critical to establish this component of your business before thinking seriously about growth.

2. Build and Foster Your Community

It's also important to identify and engage with your community from the beginning. In today's connected world, your community can be one of the most effective methods of spreading awareness, whether it be your company's value proposition or evangelizing your product and/or services. Building and engaging a community through online forums and email lists is often a common first step. Now more than ever, social media channels are increasingly the norm, so further investing in community activities like meet-ups and workshops can add a face-to-face element — one that is extremely valuable.

3. Relocate to Your New Market

If you're the CEO of a young startup looking to establish a footprint in a new market, you should consider relocating to help grow the new office and engage directly with new customers. Managing employees and tasks remotely can be a recipe for disaster when you're building a nascent operation. It's best that you personally oversee operations to ensure that they're in line with your broader business vision.

You'll also likely be hiring local staff for your new office. Since these early individuals will be critical to the success of your business, being present and managing them firsthand will effectively establish a precedent, not to mention, align them with the overall culture and vision of your company.

Also consider an area for its potential business partners (software integrators, resellers, etc.) as well as key influencers for your community (well-read bloggers and analysts).

4. Understand the Investor Community

It's important to understand investor tendencies and trends of the market you're targeting. For example, angel funding is more prevalent in the United States than in Europe. Also make sure to research which type of investors fit your business. In other words, angel investors and early stage venture capital (VC) firms will have different expectations than late stage VC firms.

In addition, investors typically like to target a specific set of market segments in which they envision high growth. For example, some investors embrace consumer applications but shun enterprise applications, and vice-versa. Generally speaking, the European venture capital community is more likely to commit larger investments in more mature companies. While the same can be said of the American VC community, there's also a sizable community of angel investors willing to invest smaller funding rounds in promising, albeit fledgling, startups. This trend is evidenced by the rise of firms like YCombinator, which focus on seed rounds for nascent startups.

While I would hesitate to advise companies to expand internationally before closing their first funding round, the move is not unprecedented. Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is witnessed in DotCloud, which closed a $10 million funding round from Benchmark Capital after relocating to the U.S. from France.

Consider these steps a necessary deep breath before taking the dive into startup globalization. The better you plan, the better your business has a chance at survival.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, courtneyk, Flickr, Shenhung Lin

More About: Business, How-To, startup

Gift Engine Predicts What Your Facebook Friends Want

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 08:15 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: GiveEmThis

Quick Pitch: GiveEmThis is a personalized gift engine that analyzes your friends’ social media updates to recommend relevant gift ideas.

Genius Idea: A bevy of gift suggestions for every Facebook or Twitter friend.

Facebook’s 750 million-member social network makes connecting with family members, friends and occasional acquaintances easy. More friends means more birthdays and anniversaries to remember. For the thoughtful among us, that equates to more gifts to buy.

Herein lies the promise of GiveEmThis, a simple to use gift-giving assistant from Imply Labs. It promises to help you discover gift ideas your Facebook friends might actually want.

Sign in with Facebook. Select a Facebook friend. Enter the friend’s gender and age (the info will auto-populate if it’s in your friend’s Facebook profile), and enter the person’s Twitter user name (if he has one). A few seconds later, GiveEmThis will spit out a selection of gift ideas — all sourced from Amazon for the time being — tailored to your friend’s interests.

The GiveEmThis prediction engine, powered by Imply Labs’ predictive technology, considers a Facebook user’s demographic data, as well as her on-site behaviors and patterns. Events, status updates, shared links and “Likes” all factor into Imply Labs’ arcane algorithmic calculations. Twitter data is computed, albeit to a lesser extent, and natural language processing is used to understand the context of status updates.

The sum total of everything Imply Labs can glean about a person via social data makes its way into individual user profiles. These profiles rub up against Amazon’s catalogue to generate product matches.

How well does it work? Imply Labs founder Zack Oates says 87% of users found the right gift for themselves, based on survey data the startup collected from alpha testers.

Even so, we think GiveEmThis has plenty of room for improvement. It works really well — except for when it doesn’t. I highly doubt my friend and colleague Ben Parr, a diehard Chicago Bears fan, would ever appreciate Green Bay Packers gear.

“The more users that we get, the more that we can improve the algorithm,” Oates counters “It’s a constantly learning system.”

In due time, GiveEmThis product listings will expand to include Zappos’ product catalog, and Imply Labs will eventually allow companies to add their own products to the system. GiveEmThis will also get Google+ and LinkedIn integration, Oates says.

GiveEmThis is the consumer-facing version of the startup’s prediction engine. Imply Labs will also provide businesses with a white label version of its predictive technologies.

Founded in 2009, Imply Labs is a privately funded Utah-based startup.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Chris P.

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, GiveEmThis, spark-of-genius

iPhone 5: Expect Stronger Demand Than Ever [REPORT]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 07:50 PM PDT

Turns out the tech press isn’t alone in lusting after the phone Apple is expected to unveil within the next month. More people are likely to buy the iPhone 5 than were ready to put their money down for an iPhone 4 before that launched, according to a survey of 2,200 potential cellphone buyers.

The survey, conducted last month for ChangeWave Research, shows that 31% of customers who are currently shopping for a new phone consider it “very likely” (13%) or “somewhat likely” (18%) they will end up with an iPhone 5 in their hands. Compare that with the numbers for the iPhone 4 — 12% and 13% respectively — and what you have is a level of pent-up demand that is unprecedented in surveys like this.

Of course, that’s largely a function of the fact that we’ve had to wait so long for the iPhone 5. Its predecessor is nearly 15 months old at this stage; that’s a lifetime in cellphone years. Some 66% of current iPhone owners say they plan to upgrade to the new model, sight unseen. That includes a whole lot of iPhone 3GS users — myself included — who opted to skip a generation.

There’s also some interesting news for Sprint in the survey: Fully 54% of their subscribers say they are “significantly likely” or “somewhat more likely” to buy the iPhone 5, which reports suggest will be launched on Sprint complete with an unlimited data plan, of the kind that AT&T and Verizon no longer offer. But it may be a case of being careful what you wish for. If current iPhone usage is any indication, the amount of bandwidth those customers will suck up may be more than Sprint can profitably afford.

More About: apple, iphone, iPhone 5

How the Crowd Is Shaping the Future of Storytelling

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 07:13 PM PDT

Molly Barton is president of Book Country, an online community for genre fiction writers, and VP of Digital Publishing, Business Development and Strategy at Penguin Group (USA).

Stories are the foundation of human communication, even when first relayed over campfires — an inherently social and communal setting. The storyteller can change his tale based on the expressions on the faces of his audience — speed up here, slow down there, give more background on a character. The storyteller may hear someone else retell his or her own story in a different way, and use that experience in telling new stories or iterating upon the original. The story gets stronger and more nuanced in the retelling.

In the modern world of broadcast and publisher media, the traditional model relies on a series of individuals reading and choosing which stories will appeal to broad audiences. These gatekeepers evaluate commercial and literary potential based on books that have previously succeeded. Daring stories that push boundaries and bend categories may be passed over because they are more difficult to market. But the tastes of readers and viewers often progresses more quickly than the stories readily available to them reflect.

But what if we created lots of little fires around which writers could tell their stories and gauge the reaction of a keen audience, improving their storytelling before bumping up against the traditional media filter? Would we get more interesting stories? Could we uncover a new group of brilliant creators who might not have connections to those gatekeepers?

Crowdsourcing fundamentally alters the process of content selection — and by extension, storytelling itself — by bringing authors and readers (and, potentially, viewers) closer to the acquisition process. If viewers and readers are given a structured, fun way to give feedback on cutting edge stories, stories that might have been passed over before, these tales have a better chance of gaining the attention of editors and producers who have the funds to bring them to a broad audience.

The Power of Peers

Having positive reviews and interest from readers pre-publication will help push the boundaries of what a curator in a big company will be willing to consider. This happens in academic publishing with blind peer reviews, but has not been applied to trade publishing. Birthing stories in this context means that writers who've been through the peer review process approach the traditional media filter surrounded by a community of supporters who can help their story successfully launch into the crowded media landscape.

This is more than just crowdsourcing. It’s the advancement of the structure of media — broadening the gates, making the gates smarter and more sophisticated so that storytelling innovation is accelerated. Audiences are broader than ever because the people creating the stories are from a broader geographic and socioeconomic cultural swath.

This new model will deliver writers from beyond the traditional media epicenters of New York, Los Angeles and London, and give storytellers from Omaha, Neb., to Oswestry, England, access to previously inaccessible workshopping and publication resources.

The Emergence & Quality of New Genres

When Neuromancer was published in 1984, the genre called "cyberpunk" did not exist. Until Michael Crichton introduced us to The Andromeda Strain in 1969, the "environmental thriller" was but a category of stories waiting to be told. By expanding the process through which stories are found, we give those who are passionate about new kinds of stories the opportunity to influence, and in so doing, increase the likelihood that new genres and sub-genres of stories will develop and find eager waiting audiences.

As self-produced content (whether that be a homemade YouTube music video or self-published book) becomes increasingly popular, many have expressed concern that the quality of the stories will suffer. Here, too, a well-organized crowdsourced model offers a viable solution. Identifying compelling stories is not a numerical game; basing success solely on the number of "thumbs up" votes has not worked and frustrated those who tell stories as well as those who read them. Moving this to a qualitative model — one in which readers offer feedback to storytellers to help them hone their tales and editors rely on substantive feedback to identify stories that appeal to audiences — creates a path for new stories to be noticed.

Finding an Audience

Online, stories don't have to be "mainstream" to succeed. They find their way to the right readers and viewers without debuting on thousands of big screens in one weekend. Storytelling of the future will be targeted to audiences that have a clear and expressed interest in that particular sort of content. Writers will continue to become more keenly aware of the depths of their chosen niche as they become as accurate as possible about whom they're writing for and how to reach those people.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AnthiaCumming

More About: contributor, crowdsourcing, Entertainment, features, Media, publishing

Google+ Hangouts Are Now More Sign-Language Friendly [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 06:40 PM PDT

Google+ Hangouts were already popular with users who communicate with sign language, but thanks to improvements in video stability and a new “Take the Floor” feature, Google’s group video chat capability just got a lot more accessible for everyone.

Switching between speakers in Hangouts is automatic using voice activation, where whomever is talking the most (or the loudest) is shown in the main video area, and all others are seen in smaller video thumbnails. Sounds great, and that automatic switching is one of the coolest features of Google+ Hangouts.

But that wasn’t working as well for hearing-impaired users in chat areas where all users were signing — the main screen was usually occupied by whichever user’s microphone was picking up the most background noise. As a result, most users were often trying to read the sign language of people who were shown on tiny thumbnail screens.

Google’s fixed that with its new “Take the Floor” feature. In a Google+ post, Google engineering director Chee Chew explained how it works:

1) Have everyone mute their audio.
2) When you want to sign something, hit Shift+s.
3) When you see yourself as the main video, that’s your cue. You’ve got the floor… everyone’s main video has switched to you. Sign away.

Chew added, “We’ve noticed over the past few weeks that the stability and quality of the video in Hangouts has improved as well, which also makes it easier for the hearing impaired to see and understand sign language.”

Great idea, Google.

[via WebProNews]

More About: Google, Hearing Impaired, Take the Floor

Windows 8: The Top 4 Things You Should Know

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 05:47 PM PDT

Microsoft says it is “reinventing the OS” with Windows 8, the company’s next-generation operating system.

Microsoft fired off dozens of announcements and showed off countless features of the new OS at its Build conference in Anaheim, California. Features such as the Metro interface, support for touchscreens, improved performance and a Windows Store for apps are making headlines.

But which Windows 8 features are the most important ones?

We’ve scoured the Windows 8 feature list, played with Windows 8 devices (our first impressions coming soon), and come up with a list of features that we believe define Microsoft’s next-generation OS.

Without further ado, here are the top four things you need to know about Windows 8:

Windows 8: Photos & Screenshots

Windows 8 Devices

Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Windows 8 Devices: A Closer Look

These are some of the devices running Windows 8 at Microsoft's Build conference.

Windows 8: Lock Screen

"Your personalized lock screen shows you unread emails and other app notifications. The image shown here is a photo of the road leading to Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Start Screen

"See your apps and content in a glance on the start screen."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Files

"Pick the files you want to send or share from one place."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Internet Explorer

"Touch browsing is fast, fluid and intuitive."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Thumb

"The thumb keyboard feels natural and comfortable."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Touch Keyboard

"Large buttons help you type on the touch keyboard."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky takes the stage at Build.

1) Windows 8 Works on Tablets, Laptops & Desktops

Perhaps the biggest difference between Windows 8 and its predecessors is that this OS is designed to work on not just laptops and desktops, but on tablets as well. Microsoft is introducing the Metro interface it popularized with Windows Phone into Windows 8. Users can access the Metro view or the familiar desktop view with a simple click or tap.

To work well on tablets, Windows 8 has been designed for touchscreens. More importantly, it has been designed to work on ARM-based processors. ARM technology runs most of the smartphones and tablets in the world. ARM chips are simply better suited for these smaller form factors due to their energy efficiency. Even the Apple A5, the chip that powers the iPad 2, contains a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU.

The result is that Windows 8 will work on almost any device you put it on. It works with keyboards and touchscreens, and it doesn’t matter if a device has an Intel, AMD or ARM processor. This makes Windows 8 a versatile OS in a world where the desktop no longer dominates.

2) Everything Is Faster on Windows 8

Windows 8 boasts vast performance improvements over its predecessors. The memory footprint has been reduced, the boot time has been decreased (Windows 8 boots up in less than eight seconds) and the Metro UI launches apps almost instantly. The OS also supports USB 3.0 and Hyper-V.

The result is a slick OS that’s as fast as iOS and Mac OS X Lion. Most people will be surprised by how quickly Windows 8 starts up or runs apps. We certainly were surprised.

3) Say Hello to the Windows App Store

Windows 8 will have an app store. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. The rise of Apple’s iOS App Store has launched a wave of app store mania across the tech ecosystem. Microsoft also gave away its intent to launch an app store in a leaked slide deck last year.

Still, the inclusion of a Windows Store provides new business opportunities for developers. It creates an incentive for developers to build Metro-style apps that could potentially sell well on the world’s most popular OS. And it’s a clear indication that Microsoft doesn’t intend to give up any ground to Apple and its App Store.

4) Metro & Touch Are the Future of Windows

Windows 8 was designed with touchscreens in mind. And while the OS works just fine with a keyboard and a mouse, Microsoft touted the Metro UI as the future of the OS.

Yes, Windows 8 includes the familiar desktop UI. And yes, you can install your standard desktop apps (the first app I installed on my Windows 8 tablet? Firefox). However, the real magic of the OS occurs when you’re swiping through the tile interface, launching games, launching the Charms bar and interacting with the device via touch.

Microsoft isn’t allowing itself to be stuck in the Stone Age. It knows the future of computing is mobile. It knows less people will be sitting at desktops to do their work and will carry around ultralights or tablets instead.

That’s what Microsoft is betting on. If Apple’s trying to pioneer the touch-based OS with iOS, Microsoft is trying to perfect it. The company is making a radical bet with the next version of Windows. We have to give the company credit: It’s not afraid to take a big risk in order to make a comeback.

More About: features, microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

3 Commandments for the Next Online Content Leaders

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 04:55 PM PDT

Dermot McCormack is the executive vice president of digital media at MTV Music & Logo Group.

The electronic and egalitarian publishing era ushered in by the blogosphere has created a unique set of problems. Digital publishing volume continues to expand, and in its growing wake, users are left in a constant state of uncertainty.

In an age when anyone with an iPhone or a Twitter account has essentially become a broadcaster, users must navigate the clutter of digital content to arrive at trusted sources.

The answer is simple: Confirm authority through curation and context. On the other hand, the process has changed quite a bit.

1. Build Authority

As new delivery mechanisms and distribution platforms emerge, both new and established media are able to reach a mass audience. Those media outlets now find themselves contending with hundreds, possibly thousands of competing brands. And the lines only continue to blur for consumers.

Therefore, authority will become the next sought-after currency for the app-social generation.

What is authority? Who has It? How can it be earned? How can it be proved? Simply put, an authority is an accepted source of expert information or advice. For example, I trust BBC News when it reports on a story about UK politics (and even U.S. politics sometimes). I trust MTV's Matt Pinfield when he directs me to a good song or cites a band's influences. I trust ESPN to provide accurate sport scores.

In today's fragmented media landscape, trusted and authoritative brands run the gamut from traditional media companies like The New York Times, to small niche-specific music bloggers like Arjan Writes.

However, it takes time to build this type of trust, and consumers are quick to skepticism when information is reported inaccurately or presented in an inauthentic manner. While there's no blueprint, remaining relevant and trustworthy requires ongoing work and periodic self-evaluation. Brands must frequently ask themselves:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they care about and believe in?
  • Is my voice authentic?
  • What distinguishes my brand from my competitors?
  • What do my competitors do better than I do, and how do I fix that?

Brands committed to honestly answering these questions and fine-tuning accordingly will gradually start to feel their influence rise. While the transition may not immediately translate to traffic spikes or press coverage, influence can be measured non-traditionally — for instance, a rise in the number of retweets and link backs.

It's through link banks and social media sharing that we'll start to actually measure authority. And with advertisers eagerly looking to lock arms with key influencers, the importance of building authority is more important and critical than ever.

2. Curate

There's an overabundance of distracting media clutter. It seems everyone has a megaphone and access to a million or more channels they're using to share their thoughts, spanning everything from world politics to their lunch menu.

With all of this noise, people have begun seeking safe havens in the form of trusted sources. Those sources provide a valuable, curated experience that selects and spotlights the best news, sports, music, technology, etc.

Simultaneously, however, new technologies and algorithms have allowed a variety of services to attempt to recommend the same news and information. While innovative, the technology alone isn't enough to service a super savvy consumer market. Nor can crowd sourcing, since the general public is not professionally trained in reporting or branding.

The missing and always relevant piece is experts — human experts. Yes, humans still have a role alongside technology. The future of curation is one part experts, one part crowds and one part algorithms.

Over the past 10 years, much of the movement in the content world has been driven by machines and crowdsourcing. It's time to bring the human expert back into the mix, but to give him or her the companion toolkit of great technology and access to crowd wisdom. That way, he or she can truly curate thoughtful content that will cut through the noise, and ultimately rebuild the trust and authority severely damaged by content overcrowding.

The element of surprise and delight is also key to the art of curation. Human experts still have an edge here. An algorithm may tell you what song you are “most likely” to enjoy. An expert has a chance of surprising you with a tune you never expected (“Wow, I didn’t know I liked German opera music!").

Fans are pleading for their favorite brands to help them cut through the media mess, to provide destinations that highlight and showcase valuable information. If your brand relies solely on algorithms or on inexperienced and unknowledgeable editors, don't be surprised to find your install base quickly deteriorate — if you ever had one to begin with.

3. Provide Context

While authority and curation are important, without context, they mean nothing.

Context adds essential meaning to information. It answers the questions: Why should I care? What does this mean for me and for society?

Brands that can clearly articulate the proper context around curated information will build authority by bringing the big picture into focus for their audience.

People are tired of scratching their heads, feeling like they've received fragmented, re-hashed or irrelevant information. Social media provides brands the amazing ability to not only speak to, but also to listen to their audience. By asking questions and then implementing feedback, brands can increasingly contextualize the information they present. Failure to do so will frustrate and deplete a brand's fan base.

Finally, social networks may allow for super distributed data, but humans crave context, the knowledge of how information relates to a larger scheme. The brands that put the effort into providing context will win in the app-social media future.

The Content Future

Build your content future around the three pillars of Authority, Curation and Context. No brand is exempt from these rules. If you think you have time to coast, even just a little, you'll soon find yourself and your brand out of vogue.

Taking an internal audit and implementing change is not easy, nor is it cheap. But in the end, the payoff will be felt all around.

Image courtesy of Flickr, AppleTone 景隆, HumanAdventure.

More About: Business, Media, web

Fall TV Goes Social: What to Watch on Tuesday Nights

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 03:59 PM PDT

The Fall TV Goes Social Series is supported by the Samsung Galaxy S II, a faster phone for speedier web browsing and access to all your favorite apps. Check it out here or follow @SamsungMobile on Twitter.

The Fall TV season kicks off this week and all five broadcast networks are hoping their new shows will connect with viewers.

To help the cause, the networks have turned to social networks Twitter and Facebook and check-in services such as GetGlue.

Let’s take a closer look at what new shows are premiering on Tuesday nights this fall. We should note that ABC won’t be premiering its block of family sitcoms until Oct. 11. Consequently, our chart might not accurately represent the scope of the network’s planned social media campaign.

Let us know what shows you’ll be watching this fall by voting in our poll and sounding off in the comments.


Start Date: Tuesday, Sept. 13

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

Network: The CW

Description: "Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister -- only to learn that her sister's seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she's trying to leave behind."

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

Star Sarah Michelle Gellar is also appearing in a digital tie-in with Microsoft's search engine, Bing.

How to Follow: The CW has a handy social Twitter portal setup for its various shows, including Ringer.

New Girl

Start Date: Tuesday, Sept. 20

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

Network: Fox

Description: "Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) is an offbeat and "adorkable" woman in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves into a loft with three single guys."

How It's Using Social Media: Fox has dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts for New Girl, but cast members, including Deschanel and Hannah Simone are also active on Twitter. The network is also posting behind-the-scenes videos and interviews to its YouTube page.

If you can't wait until next week, Fox actually has the full pilot for New Girl available online and via iTunes [iTunes link] until Sept. 19, 2011.

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


Start Date: Tuesday, Sept. 20

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

Network: CBS

Description: "Carrie Wells remembers every day, every hour, every second of her entire life... except for the day her sister was murdered."

How It's Using Social Media: CBS has a comprehensive social media strategy for all of its fall shows, including Unforgettable. In addition to maintaining Facebook and Twitter pages for the show, the network also created a "Spot the Difference" web game to promote the series.

How to Follow: You can like CBSUnforgettable on Facebook and follow @un4gettableCBS on Twitter.

Last Man Standing

Start Date: Tuesday, Oct. 11

Time Slot: 8:00 p.m. ET - 8:30 p.m. ET (One hour series premiere)

Network: ABC

Description: "Tim Allen returns to ABC in this new comedy from Jack Burditt (30 Rock). Men may have built civilizations, invented the locomotive and created ESPN, but they're about to find out that it's not a man's world anymore. You can't get manlier than Mike Baxter."

How It's Using Social Media: Like Man Up, the fall season of Dancing with the Stars will delay Last Man Standing's premiere by a month, and we don't expect the network to roll out its full social strategy for a few weeks. Still, the network is maintaining Facebook and Twitter accounts for the show.

How to Follow: You can like LastManStandingABC on Facebook and follow @LastManABC on Twitter. ABC also has GetGlue checkins on the Last Man Standing Facebook page.

Man Up

Start Date: Tuesday, Oct. 18

Time Slot: 8:30 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m ET

Network: ABC

Description: "Three modern men try to get in touch with their inner tough guys and redefine what it means to be a "real man" in this funny and relatable comedy."

How It's Using Social Media: ABC's Tuesday night block of family comedies are getting a bit of a late start, thanks to Dancing with the Stars, but the network has Facebook and Twitter pages for Man Up already in service. The network has also integrated GetGlue check-ins on the Man Up Facebook page.

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

Series supported by Samsung Galaxy S II

The Fall TV Goes Social Series is supported by the Samsung Galaxy S II, a faster phone for speedier web browsing and access to all your favorite apps. Check it out here or follow @SamsungMobile on Twitter.

More About: fall tv, Fall TV Goes Social Series, last man standing, man up, new girl, ringer, social tv, unforgettable

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Faster MacBook Pros Could Hit Stores This Month [REPORT]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 03:31 PM PDT

The Apple MacBook Pro line of laptops will be equipped with faster processors by the end of the month, according to a well-placed source who spoke with AppleInsider.

Last week, Intel rolled out faster versions of its Sandy Bridge processors, the class of chips currently used in the MacBook Pro. That means the current quad core Core i7 chips in the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros could be replaced by faster versions:

2.0 GHz — 2.4 GHz (19.9% faster clock speed)

2.2 GHz — 2.5 GHz (13.6% faster clock speed)

2.3 GHz — 2.7 GHz (17.39% faster clock speed)

Those are all quad-core chips; the dual-core Core i7 processor now in the 13-inch MacBook Pro could get a speed bump, from 2.7 GHz up to 2.8 GHz.

According to the report, these faster processors could keep Apple‘s laptops speedy enough to satisfy users until Intel’s faster “Ivy Bridge” chips come along in March or April 2012.

In addition to a speed increase, we’re hoping the 2012 MacBook Pros will look a lot more like the MacBook Air, except with 15- and 17-inch screens and faster graphics. It could happen — given the credible reports of a 15-inch MacBook Pro/Air hybrid we heard this summer, such a laptop could be ready by the end of this year.

What would you like to see in the next MacBook Pros? Let us know in the comments.

[via AppleInsider]

More About: apple, Macbook Pro, Sandy Bridge

Photo Dating? Startup Matches Singles with Similar Faces

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 02:44 PM PDT

Online dating startup Soul2Match promises to match singles based solely on one piece of information from each of them: their headshot.

Yes, founders Jorn Eiting and Linda van Liempt are serious. They cite several studies that show what we’re all really looking for in our ideal mate is ourselves.

“The more two people have similarities in their faces, the more they look alike, the happier they are in the relationhsip, the stronger the relationship,” says Eiting, who announcing the launch of the Soul2Match iPhone app [iTunes link] on Tuesday.

The research itself is less absolute. Some of it shows that couples with similar levels of attractiveness are the happiest. Other research says people trust those who have similar facial features more than those who don’t.

The best proof for Soul2Match‘s matchmaking method? A 1999 study that used computer-graphic image manipulation to generate male faces that looked like female participants. For example, if a woman’s cheekbone stuck out 0.3 percent more than the average woman’s cheekbones do, the program would generate a male face with cheekbones that stuck out 0.3 percent more than the male average. Women were more likely to rate faces as attractive that had been manipulated to match their own.

Trouble is, a later study by Lisa M. DeBruine of McMaster University showed that people are more likely to rate faces similar to their attractive when it’s the same sex than photos of the opposite sex.

“The same-sex bias … is a product of specialized responses to facial resemblance as a cue of kinship,” DeBruine wrote; it helps us “favor kin in a non-sexual prosocial context and avoid kin in a mating context.”

In other words, her theory is that it’s all part of the brain’s recognition mechanism that helps us be nice to family members — and avoid incest.

While the research behind it might be less than bulletproof, Soul2Match does have this going for it: it’s an extremely simple dating site. Instead of filling out long questionnaires, users take a photo of themselves and post it to the site or the iPhone app. The site uses facial recognition software to analyze features in the photo and the photos of other users, and spits out a “compatibility score.” There’s an option to message people who are highly compatible with you.

Eiting and van Liempt, for instance, are a couple — and have a compatibilty score that is higher than 70%.

In my trials of the site, however, I wasn’t able to find anyone who was more than 24% compatible.

I would like to believe that I’m particularly incompatible, and that Soul2Match will work well for those who want to leave their time-consuming online dating questionnaires behind forever. But it seems the site’s main draw will be entertainment value.

“There's only one way to find out, and that's by using it.” Eiting says.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adventtr

More About: online dating, Soul2Match

Now Appearing in Timelines: Promoted Tweets From Brands You Don’t Follow

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 02:14 PM PDT

Twitter is gifting its Promoted Tweets advertisers with wider distribution across the network, meaning you will start to see Promoted Tweets from brands you don’t follow starting Tuesday.

The first campaigns are being served to users now, Mashable has confirmed.

Brands and advertisers can indicate that they would like to reach Twitter users similar to their current followers. Similarities are determined through Twitter’s interest graph — a collection of data points that take into consideration who the user follows, how the user interacts with tweets, what the user retweets and so forth.

Twitter users will not be able to opt-out of the unsolicited advertisements from brands they don’t follow. Instead, they will be able to click to “Dismiss” them from their timelines (as shown in the screenshot below).

As with all Promoted Tweets, the tweets will appear in the user’s timeline once, at or near the top of the timeline. The Promoted Tweet will then scroll through the timeline, just as other tweets do.

Twitter put Promoted Tweets in users’ timelines earlier this summer, but initially promised to only show ads to a brand’s current following. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed the change in policy during a press event at the company’s headquarters last week.

More About: Advertising, Promoted Tweets, Twitter

10 Unique Creations Made From Computer Hard Drives [PICS]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 02:00 PM PDT

On this day in 1956, IBM introduced the IBM 305 RAMAC — the first computer with a hard drive. It boasted capacity for less than 5MB of data stored on 50 24-inch disks.

Fast forward to today. The progress achieved in the computer storage market is quite astonishing. Although necessary, storage itself isn’t something that normally gets us excited, but we’ve decided to mark this important anniversary by exploring how people have gotten creative with hard disk drives.

SEE ALSO: Media Format Flops | Vintage Games Console Ads | Vintage Apple Products

From upcylcled drives made into jewelry, to discarded drives transformed into sculptures, we’ve found 10 interesting examples of hard drive creations from all around the world. Take a look through the photo gallery below and let us know in the comments which you like — and why.

1. Franco Recchia's Urban Landscapes

Italian artist Franco Recchia takes apart computers and "breathes new life into their component parts by reusing them to build ingenious skylines." The skyline pictured is Recchia's recycled view of Manhattan.

2. Recycled Hard Drive Washer Necklace

Made up of five small washers salvaged from old hard drives, this delicate necklace gives storage a second chance.

Cost: $12

3. Jalex Studios Circular Modern Globe Vase

This stunning vase can rotate 360-degrees thanks to its unique base, made from the insides of a hard disk drive.

Image courtesy of Jalex Studios

4. Vintage 1960s IBM Disk Platter Clock

We've seen plenty of hard drive clocks, but this vintage version is special. Its disk platter dates from the early 1960s from a pack used in IBM's 2311 disk drives.

Cost: $129

5. Hard Drive Wind Chimes

One of the best DIY HDD projects we've seen, these hard drive wind chimes are a great use of old platters, which apparently make a lovely sound. There's a complete how-to available if you feel inspired.

Image courtesy of Windell Oskay

6. Hard Drive Toys

Staff at the Russian IT store VIST hand-made a range of toys created from old hard drives. Sadly our Russian isn't good enough to determine whether they're for sale or were a special side project.

7. Hard Drive Coffee Table

The amazing Hard Drive Coffee Table features an original 26-inch diameter hard drive platter manufactured by Bryant-Excello back in the late sixties. With creations this stunning, we're almost sad storage has shrunk so much.

8. Saturn Planetary Earrings

Hard drive spacers make up the planetary rings of this unique designer jewelry.

Cost: $38

9. Miguel Rivera's Sculptures

The 86th Expeditionary Communications Squadron's sys-admin Miguel Rivera made headlines after being featured on Wired for his sculptures made from hard drives. Cars, bikes and even a robot were featured in Rivera's unusual series.

10. 5 Million Dollars 1 Terabyte by Manuel Palou

Finally, this example is a little different. Here, the external hard drive is presented as art by Manuel Palou. 5 Million Dollars 1 Terabyte is a sculpture that consists of a 1TB hard drive containing $5,000,000 worth of illegally downloaded software, games and books. Interesting, but is it art? Have your say in the comments below.

Image courtesy of VIST

More About: art, features, geek, hard drive, Tech

Welcome to Mashable Entertainment

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 01:43 PM PDT

Welcome to the new Mashable Entertainment section, presented by Samsung Mobile. As Mashable‘s CEO Pete Cashmore wrote earlier Tuesday, Mashable continues to grow and expand. Part of that growth means that we have the opportunity to better explore some of the industries that are most influenced by technology, social media and digital culture.

Over the past five years, the entertainment industry has changed. Social and digital media are having a profound impact on how entertainment content is created, consumed and distributed. Services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify and the ability to access content across devices — mobile phones, settop boxes, tablets and more — have forced establishments to realign and adjust, lest they perish.

For the past decade, the narrative around the music industry has been largely about its struggles to adapt to the digital age. The film and television industries have (thus far) avoided the same fate, but changes in consumer behaviors and the rise of ubiquitous connectivity has changed those fields, too. Even relatively new industries, like video games, are experiencing disruptions as low-cost casual games on mobile devices start to impact traditional console and PC game sales.

With Mashable Entertainment, our goal is to focus on the intersection of technology and entertainment, and their evolving nature. To do that, we’ll be covering the latest happenings and innovations in social TV, connected devices, subscription music services and casual games.

For example, as the Fall TV season kicks off, we’re going to look at the role social media is having on the traditional television landscape. As the season progresses, we’ll be monitoring social TV analytics and trends to see what impact, if any, social media is having on a show’s success or failure. We’ll also be reporting live from the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Ten years ago, the pinnacle of connected entertainment was watching The Sopranos on DVD. There were no MP3 players, no smartphones, and Netflix was a small mail-based rental service trying to compete with the likes of Blockbuster. If someone had presented how the entertainment industry would look 10 years later, and the huge role that technology had in shaping it, I would have laughed. Here’s to the future of entertainment!

More About: Entertainment, Gaming, Movies, Music, social tv, television

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Elizabeth Banks Has Heart Attack for a Cause

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 01:23 PM PDT

Elizabeth Banks has teamed up with the American Heart Association to put out a funny little public service announcement in support of heart wellness issues. In the video, part of the association’s Go Red for Women campaign, Banks plays an over-stressed mom busy taking care of everything around her house while neglecting her own heart.

Humor is a good way of broaching difficult subjects and the video combines serious facts along with a touch of Banks’ Emmy-nominated flair.

Heart disease is the number one killer of American women, according to the American Heart Association. It’s also a personal issue for Banks. Her mother, father and sisters all suffer from heart disease. As a new mother, Banks says it’s important for her to stay healthy for her son.

What do you think of approaching tough subjects with humor? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Social Good, Social Media, Video, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:

Windows 8 Developer Preview Launches Tuesday [PICS]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 12:54 PM PDT

Can’t wait to get your hands on Windows 8? You can get it tonight — as long as you’re willing to suffer through countless bugs without any technical support.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 on Tuesday at its Build conference in Anaheim, California. The tech giant detailed how its next-generation OS bridges the gap between tablets, laptops and desktops with a lightweight system that is built for both touchscreens and keyboards.

Windows 8′s features include a Metro style interface, fast boot times (Windows loads in less than eight seconds), a new Windows Store for apps, communication between apps, support for ARM and Intel-based hardware and countless UX and UI changes that are a dramatic departure from its predecessors.

While attendees of the Build conference already have access to the Windows 8 Developer Preview (our review is coming soon), you can take it for a spin as well, starting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. PT. That is when Microsoft will post the download links for Windows 8. During the developer preview, Windows 8 will be free. It will be available in 32 and 64-bit configurations.

Be warned, though — this is not a finished product. It will come with bugs, constant updates and lots of incompatible software. And Microsoft will not be offering any technical support for the OS. If you install it, you’re on your own.

If you want to get a better idea of what is coming in Windows 8 before you install it, check out the screenshots we’ve collected below. Let us know if you intend to try out the new Microsoft OS in the comments.

Windows 8 Devices

Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Windows 8 Devices: A Closer Look

These are some of the devices running Windows 8 at Microsoft's Build conference.

Windows 8: Lock Screen

"Your personalized lock screen shows you unread emails and other app notifications. The image shown here is a photo of the road leading to Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Start Screen

"See your apps and content in a glance on the start screen."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Files

"Pick the files you want to send or share from one place."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Internet Explorer

"Touch browsing is fast, fluid and intuitive."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Thumb

"The thumb keyboard feels natural and comfortable."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8: Touch Keyboard

"Large buttons help you type on the touch keyboard."

Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky

Windows division President Steven Sinofsky takes the stage at Build.

More About: microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

Google Introduces Flight Search

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 12:26 PM PDT

Google made further inroads into the travel category Tuesday with the quiet launch of Flight Search, a web-based tool that lets you find and book flights.

Google provided what it called an “early look” at the service on Tuesday with flights to and from a handful of cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Minneapolis. Participating airlines include Delta, JetBlue, Continental and American.

Flight Search is a more user friendly version of a service Google launched in May. It offered flight info when you typed "flights from [a city] to [another city]” in the Google search window.

Google made its first formal foray into that segment last July with the $700 million purchase of ITA, developer of the airfare search and pricing system QPX that is used by major airlines.

A video below explains the service further:

More About: flight search, Google, ita

Twitter Releases Web Analytics Tool

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 12:07 PM PDT

How much traffic does your website receive from Twitter? Twitter Web Analytics, a new tool announced Tuesday, should help provide some clarity to website owners who rely on the information network for content distribution.

Twitter Web Analytics is intended to give website owners more data on the effectiveness of their Twitter integrations. It’s powered by BackType, the social analytics company that Twitter acquired in July.

Twitter Web Analytics, explains BackType founder and new Twitter platform staffer Christopher Golda, will help publishers and website owners understand three key things: How much of their content is being shared on Twitter, how much traffic Twitter is sending their way and how well Tweet Buttons are performing.

The tool is free and currently in beta. A small group of partners will gain access to Twitter Web Analytics this week, and Twitter will roll it out to all website owners in a few weeks. An API will also be released for developers.

More About: analytics, Twitter

For more Social Media coverage: Launches iPhone App [REVIEW]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 11:37 AM PDT

Good news for all you Turntable fiends. One of the most requested features for the social music app — an iPhone version – launched Tuesday in the App Store.

Yes, that’s right: you can now listen, rack up those DJ points and chat from anywhere you happen to have your iPhone (though if you happen to be on the john, as one of my fellow DJs told me today, it’s probably best not to share.)

If you’re not familiar with Turntable — well, first of all, where have you been? Mashable has been rocking its own Turntable room with stellar guest DJs every Friday this summer, and we’ll be picking it up again this fall.

Secondly, is easily the most addictive (and social) music service ever. In each room, avatars stand in front of a DJ booth, where five lucky souls can step up and spin tunes in turn (one from each, then back to the first DJ). Most songs you can think of are in the Turntable database already, but if not, you can upload them. You can hit “lame” or “awesome” on the like-o-meter; enough “lame”s and the song will skip, but an “awesome” will make you bob your head and give the DJ points, which they can then trade in for a bigger and cooler avatar. And all the while, folks in the room are nattering away in a chat window, proving once again that the best way to be social with strangers is to have something specific — like a song — to talk about.

That’s the browser version of Turntable. How does the iPhone version stack up so far? Good in some ways, quite buggy in others.

Visually, the Stickybits team has done a great job of packing everything in to the small screen. It actually seems easier on the iPhone to scroll down the list of rooms people have created (the list loads as you scroll). Step into a room, and it looks exactly like a Turntable room should. Even packed with avatars, it’s not significantly slower. My iPhone 3GS was able to render a 200-avatar room with no problem; the music didn’t skip and the head-bobbing was smooth.

The first difference you’ll notice is that the chat window is on a screen of its own, reached through that speech bubble icon at the top. This is also where your queue of songs to DJ is located. This is a little distracting, having to switch screens constantly. But it’s hard to think how else the app could have done it. One thing it definitely could have done, though, was load the chat history of the room — so you can see what people were talking about before you came in.

As for DJing, I’ve run into a number of snags so far. The first time I tried to spin, the app booted me off when it came to my tune. (Anecdotally, I heard a few stories of iPhone DJs getting booted; it’s easy to tell, because the avatar is holding a phone instead of a laptop). The second time, nobody could hear the music — despite it being a track I’d played successfully many times in the web client.

Still, you’ve got to expect a few bugs in a release version of an iPhone app this complex, and I have no doubt Turntable will iron out the wrinkles shortly. With a $7 million round of funding led by Union Square Ventures, also announced Tuesday, the company now has a lot more resources. We can’t wait to try the (as yet unannounced) Android and iPad versions.

More About: iphone, Music,

Virgin America Unveils Plans for Next Gen In-Flight Entertainment

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 11:01 AM PDT

Virgin America, the first carrier to offer fleetwide WiFi in May 2009, will continue its commitment to in-flight digital innovation with the next iteration of its Red entertainment platform.

The new Red system, slated for a late 2012 consumer release, includes larger, high-definition touchscreen seatback monitors, full Wi-Fi connectivity and four times more entertainment content. It will also allow passengers to connect their own electronic devices to the system pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight.

“Red is still the most advanced entertainment system in the domestic skies,” says Abby Lunardini, VP of corporate communications for Virgin America. “Other airlines are not making an investment in in-seat entertainment; they’re just doing WiFi. Fleet WiFi will always be a focus for us, but our built-in entertainment system is still important, and we think we can offer the best of both worlds.”

Red usage has increased by 20% each year since 2008. Passengers tend to multitask in-flight, using both the entertainment system and WiFi on their personals devices, Lunardini says.

When the upgraded monitors and the new Red entertainment platform reach consumers in 2012 — the system is currently in development — the most noticeable change, apart from the larger screen size, will be the addition of full WiFi connectivity, providing passengers access to the unfettered web via the seatbacks in front of them. Although still being fleshed out, the new Red, as Lunardini envisions it, will also include applications for easy Facebook, Twitter and other social network access.

“This is a significant investment for us,” Lunardini says of the company’s commitment to reworking Red. “We want to stay ahead of the path … a lot of people fly with us because it. We’re an entertainment-driven brand … and we did not want to stand idle.”

The next iteration of Red is being announced Tuesday at the 2011 Airline Passenger Experience Association Expo in Seattle with Lufthansa Systems, Virgin America’s technology partner. Back-end testing of the system will start on #nerdbird, Virgin America’s Twitter hashtag-inspired Airbus A320.

More About: in-flight wifi, virgin america

Swarovski to Host SCVNGR Hunt in London

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 10:50 AM PDT

SCVNGR and crystal goods manufacturer Swarovski are hosting a citywide treasure hunt in London on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Two-person teams will be given gift bags in which to collect hidden Swarovski presents, such as perfume samples and bracelets, in and around local landmarks. Competitors completing all of the challenges will collect goods valued at approximately $1,000 per person.

Six grand prize winners (three two-person teams) will win a trip to Kristallwelten, Austria and a five-night stay in a fashion capital such as Paris, Florence, Barcelona or Istanbul.

The three-hour event begins and ends at Lawrence Hall at the Royal Horticultural Halls and Conference Center. To participate, individuals must download the app for iPhone [iTunes link] or Android [Android Market link] and pre-register in teams of two at Registration is capped at 1,300 people.

This is SCVNGR’s first event-based challenge and second major partnership outside the U.S. UK-based retailer TopShop is currently offering prizes to students who complete SCVNGR challenges in its stores.

More About: Marketing, scvngr, Swarovski

Facebook Revamps Friend Lists [PICS]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 10:31 AM PDT

Facebook is launching a massive upgrade of its Friend Lists feature in an effort to make it more useful for users.

The feature, which debuted in 2007, is currently used by less than 5% of users, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The revamp is designed to make Friend Lists easier to manage and and more popular.

The changes include Smart Lists, sharing content to lists, consuming content from lists and two new lists: "Close Friends" and "Acquaintances." Facebook has been testing these features for the past few days and intends to roll it out to all users in the coming weeks.

The problem with current solutions for organizing friends (i.e. Google+ Circles) is that users simply don’t enjoy taking the time to organize their friends into groups, Facebook Product Manager Blake Ross told Mashable. So Facebook decided to find a way to automatically curate Friend Lists on behalf of the user.

The result is Smart Lists and suggestions. Smart Lists automatically creates lists for city, work, family and school. You can, for example, create a list of friends that live within 50 miles of your location. You can then use that list to find out what’s happening nearby or share local parties with local friends without bugging friends in another city.

Suggestions continues the process by suggesting friends that you may want to add to one of your lists. Facebook uses its algorithms to determine which friends may belong in a group.

Facebook is also introducing two other Friend Lists: Close Friends and Acquaintances. These lists are not Smart Lists — they do not automatically update themselves. However, they do have a few unique features. If you add a friend to Close Friends, for example, that friend’s posts will appear more prominently in your News Feed. On the other hand, adding a friend to the Acquaintances list will assure you don’t see that person’s posts unless it’s major news (i.e. an engagement).

With more Friend Lists and friends in those lists, Facebook is hoping you will use them more. To that end, Facebook is introducing easier access to Friend Lists all throughout Facebook. They are now integrated into News Feed, making it possible to check what your close friends or your work buddies are posting. They are now more prominent in the Facebook Publisher, making it easier to share a status update with just a small group of friends. And finally, you can add friends to Friend Lists right from a friend’s profile page.

While these changes feel like an answer to the rise of Google+, the search giant’s social network, Ross says that’s not the case. “We’ve been iterating on this in the last four years,” he said. He thinks that nobody has done friend grouping right. He believes that Smart Lists and automatic friend grouping is a step toward taking away the pain of organizing friends.

We’ve included some screenshots of the new Friend List features. Will you use Friend Lists now? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook List Feed Filters

Facebook's List Feed Filters let you filter your news feed by specific groups of friends, much like Google+ Circles.

Friend List Explanation

Facebook explains Friend Lists.

Facebook Smart Lists

Facebook automatically organizes your work friends, school friends and nearby friends into lists.

Facebook Sharing

Facebook explains how you can share posts with just close friends or other friend lists.

News Feed Organization

Facebook explains how to organize your News Feed.

Facebook Friend List Dropdowns

Users can organize their friends into friend lists right from their profile pages.

More About: Facebook, Facebook Friend Lists

Mashable Adds New Channels, a Fresh Face & More Cowbell

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 10:12 AM PDT

Mashable has had a blockbuster year: We now serve a community of more than 15 million monthly unique readers and have broken a traffic record every month of 2011. This growth has enabled us to build an ad sales team (having taken ad sales in-house this year) and to move to a spacious new office in New York City, having outgrown our previous space within less than a year. (We’ve also increased our collection of Nerf guns to an artillery of five, and hope to continue this expansion.)

We thank you, our readers, for helping us grow faster this year than ever before and achieve our mission: to empower and inspire people by spreading knowledge of social media, technology and digital culture. Together, we’re chronicling the digital revolution.

Today we’re excited to announce some changes to further that mission. We’re launching two new channels, Entertainment and U.S. & World, bringing expanded coverage of topics that are already popular with our readers.

Our Entertainment channel, presented by Samsung Mobile, will report on how technology is changing the way that entertainment media is created, marketed and consumed. From TV to film, music, print and online media, we’re keen to explore this new era for entertainment.

SEE ALSO: Welcome to Mashable Entertainment

Our U.S. & World channel, meanwhile, will report on how social and digital media are reshaping the world around us: politics, social good, current events and global culture. With the Arab Spring, we’ve seen social media play a role in real-world revolutions: We think the global impact of these new technologies is just beginning.

We’re also excited to add a fresh face to our editorial leadership this week.

Adam Ostrow, our editor in chief (above, left), has led Mashable to a tenfold increase in our audience in his four years in the role: Adam has been promoted to SVP of content and executive editor and will lead our editorial strategy going forward.

Meanwhile, Lance Ulanoff, a 25-year tech-industry veteran and award-winning journalist (above, right), joins us as editor in chief. Lance was most recently editor in chief of and senior vice president of content for Ziff Davis. We welcome Lance’s vast experience as we expand both our team and our coverage.

What remains is to thank you again — our community — for your unbridled passion about social media, technology and the digital revolution. We too are fascinated by this world in transition. We hope you’ll join us as we continue our near-obsessive coverage of social, technological and digital innovations — all of which are leading to miraculous new ways to consume cat videos.

More About: mashable

The Winklevoss Twins Shill Pistachios [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 10:05 AM PDT

The Winklevoss twins are back in the public eye, this time as stars of an ad for pistachios that cheekily references their legal travails against Mark Zuckerberg.

In the ad, “Mr. Winklevoss” snaps open a pistachio. Seeing it, his brother says, “Hey, that’s a good idea.”

“Cracking it like that,” the other replies. “It could be huge.”

“Think someone will steal it?” asks the other. “Who’d do that?” they ask in unison.

The ad is the latest stunt casting for the Wonderful Pistachios campaign, which has previously featured buzz-generating personalities like Snooki, Levi Johnston, and Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian-Odom. The brand has also run meme-friendly ads featuring Angry Birds and Keyboard Cat on its YouTube channel.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are best known for claiming that Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook. The twins plus Divya Narendra received a settlement for a reported $65 million in 2008, but the three have since sued Zuckerberg again. Most recently, a judge dismissed their attempt to increase their 2008 settlement. It appears they may have finally given up on the case.

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Video, Winklevoss twins

Norma Kamali to Debut Spring Collection in 3D Show & Ecommerce Site [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 10:04 AM PDT

American designer Norma Kamali is taking online runway shows and ecommerce to new dimensions — literally — with the premiere of her Spring 2012 collection this week.

The designer has developed a fun and dynamic 3D film and series of product pages showcasing the collection, which will premiere for press and buyers at Lincoln Center between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday, and online at on Thursday.

Viewers can register for 3D glasses, designed in Kamali’s signature cat-eye shape, through her Facebook Page, or opt to watch the film in 2D. More than 16,000 people have signed up for glasses so far, Kamali says.

The film, which is eight minutes long, isn’t your typical fashion presentation. Models are shimmying and playing tambourines. Odd objects, such as lizards, are embedded throughout as part of an interactive game visitors can play for prizes.

Afterward, viewers can shop the collection via a series of short and equally fun 3D clips showcasing each look. Models are holding — and playing with — numbered placards that can be used to identify the items they’re wearing. Since the collection has not yet been manufactured, shoppers can sign up to be notified when specific items are available for purchase.

Why 3D

A sample product video. (Requires 3D glasses.)

Kamali says she was inspired to produce a 3D film and ecommerce website after seeing the 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

“The minute I saw that vineyard [in the film], I thought ‘oh my god.’ I couldn’t concentrate on the film anymore, I kept wondering what would clothing look like, what would a presentation of my spring collection look like, what would be shopping be like in 3D,” says Kamali. “What if we had a girl in action representing the personality of the collection, have her pop right out at you [in 3D], what could be better than that?”

After the film, Kamali recalls, she ran out and bought a cheap video camera, borrowed “a couple of dancers” from a studio down the street, and began experimenting with 3D films. “We were screaming looking at this, saying, ‘We have to do this, we just have to.’”

Kamali’s team then began doing research and hired a two-camera film team to do the shots. It was the first fashion film they had done and they learned a great deal, she says.

“[The 3D film and product pages] give people a reason to want to come to your website,” Kamali adds.

A Digital Pioneer

Kamali has a long history of innovation, not just in design, but also in digital. She was among the first designers to plaster her store windows in scannable barcodes, advertise on the iPad and was the first to open an online store on eBay.

When asked why it was important to position herself as a digital pioneer, she explained: “It’s part of your personality. [I am] my business, they’re inseparable, and in my business communication is everything. You can have the most incredible something, but if nobody knows about it, if you don’t communicate the story behind it, your invention has no value.”

“We think about telling the story as much as the product itself,” Kamali says of her business these days. “It’s a competitive world. It’s important not only that you have a unique product but that you tell your story in the most interesting way possible.”

For Kamali, that meant creating a film that was “fun,” “funny,” and “shameless.” Most fashion films are esoteric and moody she says, and that’s not for her. “We are very disrespectful of the way you present fashion. As you see [in the product pages], pulling a number out from under your skirt is not a typical fashion presentation. The film is very funny, it’s fast and to the point, but you get to see all of the clothes and you get to see them in 3D in a fun, playful way. It is meant to make people feel good. I think it’s quite different from what most industry people are doing at this time.”

As the technology evolves, Kamali is confident that all fashion films and shopping sites will be designed in 3D in the future.

After other brands see this, we can’t help thinking she’s right.

More About: 3D, ecommerce, fashion, norma kamali, nyfw

Best Buy Sales Suffer Without iPhone Launch

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 09:44 AM PDT

Best Buy, a bellwether for consumer electronics sales, posted weak second-quarter results as sales of TVs slowed and the lack of a high-profile smartphone launch weighed on revenues.

The retailer’s fiscal second-quarter income fell 30% to $177 million compared to the same period last year. The company’s revenues of $11.3 billion for the quarter were less than the $11.5 billion analysts projected and were flat with last year’s second quarter results.

The news sent Best Buy’s stock down about 8% to its lowest level since 2008 in Tuesday’s morning trading. “We’re still facing an uncertain macro-environment with volatile consumer shopping behavior, and this was evident in our results for the second quarter,” president and CEO Brian Dunn told analysts during a conference call Tuesday.

The company also blamed the lack of highly anticipated smartphone launches. Apple has released a new iPhone model every summer since 2007, but this year, the iPhone 5 launch is expected to launch in October.

Image courtesy of Flickr, osed8info

More About: best buy, iphone

How Building a Strong Community Helped Eventbrite Take the Ticketing World by Storm

Posted: 13 Sep 2011 09:32 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.

If you’ve planned an event on the web recently, you may have organized it via Eventbrite. The platform has been used to sell more than 36 million tickets to hundreds of thousands of events. Eventbrite lets you offer tickets at different prices and is integrated with social platforms to help users get the word out about your event, and eventgoers can pay via PayPal or Google Checkout.

Mashable spoke with Hartz about how she found herself in tech, what it’s like to work with her husband, and how they’re outrunning the big players in the ticketing business.

Name: Julia Hartz, 31

Company: Eventbrite

Year Founded: 2006

Employees: 170, but will “definitely be 200 by the end of 2011″

What was the inspiration for starting Eventbrite?

The inspiration for starting Eventbrite was technology, it wasn’t even a really dramatic thing. I think it’s a common experience to have been frustrated by Internet ticketing. Kevin [Hartz, my husband] and I were actually more excited about how we could empower anyone to host an event and sell tickets online. It’s a very large market, and being able to create a platform where anyone could sell tickets to any event basically democratizes the ticket industry.

Any technology for ticketing was reserved for the big guys or really large events. We used PayPal as an easy way for us to create a platform where anyone could sell tickets and get paid for them. We wanted features that we thought would be really helpful — some people are selling tickets for maybe their first event ever — so we focus on ease of use. We wanted anyone to use it, from knitting clubs to professional promoters.

In keeping with our focus on supporting organizers of all sizes, building communities around events and creating a platform that is flexible and easy to use, we place a great emphasis on making it easy for non-profit organizations to use events as a way to raise money and awareness for their cause. Eventbrite for Causes is a program that gives a discount [on the Eventbrite commission], and we provide them with a lot of different insights into fundraising and connections to the non-profit community in their location to really help them understand how events can be a successful fundraising tool.

I’ve been on several boards, and fundraising is always seen as a necessary evil. We show them what kind of benefits they can reap from having a physical, live event — it’s beyond selling tickets, it’s raising awareness and raising money at the event. That’s been really successful for us instead of just waiving fees.

You were a TV executive prior to Eventbrite – what drew you to the digital and social world?

What really drew me to tech was velocity and meritocracy. It’s was very different from Hollywood in that if you work hard, you’re applauded for working hard.

Entrepreneurship is a tough job and you also work with your husband. How do you two make a good team and is it hard to work with your spouse?

We started working together when we were engaged, and it was actually a precarious situation. I was in L.A. working in TV, and he was in San Francisco working at a startup. After we got engaged, he sort of persuaded me to move to San Francisco and get into tech — he wanted to go back to startup mode. We got together and went heads down on the product, so our relationship has really developed in tandem with Eventbrite. I’d be more worried about the time in the future when we don’t work together, because it's kind of the only reality you know. We have complementary skills, and that's why it works. In any partnership, and definitely in a startup, you want complementary skills and hats that don't overlap too much so you can get from point A to point B three times faster. He has a broad view and is extremely analytic and always charting new territory. For me, I have an incredible intuition and gut, and I connect with people and have a knack for creating culture and having a team. We work really well together — we divide and conquer. And even though we spend all day together, we still have a lot to talk about when we get home.

That’s a lot of you and Kevin and Eventbrite time. Do you ever turn it off?

The only time we turn it off is when we're with Emma. She's three-and-a-half, and very good at telling you to close your laptop. Those few hours a day when we can have quality time with her, we don't talk about work — it's a really nice balance. And we do try to get away every now and then and unplug. But when you’re an entrepreneur and the founder of a company, you have so much love for the company that you don't feel like it's work. Right after I gave birth, I had my laptop in my hands!

Emma doesn't know exactly what’s going on, but she feels a part of the team, she’s on the journey with us. It’s not often that we turn it off, but we definitely prioritize, and we can’t be constantly working.

How do you inspire your team and where do you look for inspiration?

Kevin and I both inspire our team by our true intentions. Over the last five years, and especially in the last 18 months, we've been embraced by the tech community and startup community. You start to realize that there are a lot of different ways that you can do the wrong thing. Kevin has taught me to always stay on the right side of the line — never do anything you wouldn't want to announce to the company at an all-hands meeting. They can feel your integrity, and I think it fires the team. The majority of the team has been here long enough that they know Kevin and I will always do what’s right for the team. I think that inspires the team to work hard and focus because they know that we would die for the company in all the right ways — to disrupt the industry and make everyone proud of their hard work.

"The only common thread that we all have is the ability to initiate and tolerate fun.”

I get inspired by talking to people here and talking to my team. Whenever I find a free moment, I find myself in a great conversation. It happens organically, I rarely have to seek them out, and it’s nice to be able to understand where people come from. I come away from meetings with a million ideas, and there are not enough hours in the day to implement them. It’s important to find quiet moments in every day as well. It also happens a lot in the shower, in those few minutes.

What was the biggest challenge in launching and building Eventbrite?

One of the biggest challenges for a company that grows quickly is to stay focused, and I think we’ve done a great job of it. But with more funding and talent, you start to feel the pull in different directions and the endless possibility, so I think it’s been a constant battle to stay focused. At one point, I thought, “God, mo’ money mo’ problems!” It's hard to say no and close a door, but at the end of the day, you need to do what’s right.

What's the biggest mistake you've made with Eventbrite and how did you learn from it?

In the beginning, we were too cautious. We thought that if we made changes to our pricing that our customers would up and leave — we didn't give ourselves enough credit. So we took a while to make changes, but in the end, we didn’t lose any customers and the conversations went up.

What was the turning point in the Eventbrite story?

One of the inflection points was when we implemented Facebook Connect — we were one of the first API partners — so you could automatically publish an event to the Facebook news feed. This was a behavior we observed our event organizers doing, and then we got to capitalize on it. It was like all the stars aligned. We started seeing Facebook in our top 10 referrals. Facebook is now the #1 driver of traffic to our site. Those opportunities to take advantage of acute observations can be a gamechanger.

Do you take time to meet with other entrepreneurs?

We've been all about community and collaboration since day one. We started in this small office that was kind of a haven for new entrepreneurs — not an incubator, but a sort of collective with 9 or 10 companies, like Tripit, Boxee and Zynga. We believe in communication and collaboration and the sharing of ideas — we're extremely transparent. We have a great community, and that has been our village. Whether it’s entrepreneurs sharing ideas, our incredible roster of advisers, or people who Kevin's invested in, all of whom are friends of Eventbrite, and we share ideas all the time. Anytime people come with a problem that we cannot readily solve, there’s always someone we can connect them with.

What company culture do you strive for?

Diversity is big into our culture — we don't just hire one type of person. The only common thread that we all have is the ability to initiate and tolerate fun, so it’s a very lively space. We have a lot of fun while getting the work done. You couldn't hack it here if you get annoyed by people smiling. It's a friendly culture, and there are no assholes here. It doesn't matter how smart you are — if you're not going to be a team player — you won’t last. It sounds cliche, but its true. No egos here.

What’s the next step for Eventbrite?

I think the next step for Eventbrite is that we're going to expand internationally. And we’re having our second baby on New Year’s Eve.

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: eventbrite, Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series

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