Monday, 31 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 11 News Updates - including “Halloween Google Doodle Features Madcap Timelapse Video”

Mashable: Latest 11 News Updates - including “Halloween Google Doodle Features Madcap Timelapse Video”

Halloween Google Doodle Features Madcap Timelapse Video

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 11:05 PM PDT

You know there’s something significant going on when Google creates one of its whimsical “doodles” on its home page, and Halloween is no exception. Watch what happens.

[Spoiler alert] In case you can’t see it where you are, this year (in some countries), there’s a time-lapse video showing some of the most gigantic pumpkins in the world, going through a metamorphosis from blobs of orange to art as night falls.

SEE ALSO: Happy Birthday Google: Celebrate With All the Anniversary Doodles [PICS] | Where Do Google Doodles Come From?

Here’s how the Googlers describe the making of this kooky video on the official Google blog:

To celebrate Halloween this year, the doodle team wanted to capture that fascinating transformation that takes place when carving a pumpkin. Instead of picking up a few pumpkins from the grocery store, however, we decided to work on six giant pumpkins, specially delivered from nearby Half Moon Bay (some weighing well over 1,000 pounds). What you see is a timelapse video of the approximately eight hours we spent carving in the middle of our Mountain View, Calif. campus.

Watch the video of this Halloween Google doodle — or go to to experience the doodle for yourself.

Here’s Google’s “making of” video of this year’s doodle:

BONUS: More Google Doodles

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: google doodle, Halloween, Video

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YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: Rihanna’s “We Found Love”

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 04:13 PM PDT

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

Rihanna’s “We Found Love” moves into the top spot on Billboard‘s Hot Digital Songs chart this week on the heels of the Oct. 19 release of the track’s edgy music video.

The lead single off of Rihanna’s forthcoming Talk That Talk album also helped her become the fastest solo artist ever to earn 20 top 10 singles on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

We’ve found 10 of the best “We Found Love” covers as well as one from Coldplay (see video number 11). Vote for your favorite rendition in the poll.

Sam Tsui

Click here to view this gallery.

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

**The winner of this poll will be selected Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. ET.

Last Week’s Face-Off Winner: Kina Grannis and Imaginary Friend

The "Pumped Up Kicks" duet from Kina Grannis and Imaginary Friend snagged more than 20,000 votes in last week's Face-off, beating out their closest competitor by 6,500 votes. In their cover of the Foster the People song, they changed a few chords, added harmonies and brought in a banjo.

“It was one of those songs that spoke to me for whatever reason even before I had any idea what it was about,” Grannis told Mashable. “By the time I actually stopped to think about the lyrics and internalize them, it hit me what a sad song it was. It lets you into the mind of an outcast, someone who really has no one at all to go to, and you realize what a desperate and tragic situation that is.”

Grannis embarks on a European tour in February 2012, where she’ll perform original songs such as “The One You Say Goodnight To” (see video two) and “Little Worrier” (see video four). Imaginary Friend plans to start recording his first full-length album, which will include “Chasing Ghosts” (see video number three).

Here’s a collection of original songs and covers from Grannis and Imaginary Friend.

"Pumped Up Kicks" Cover by Kina Grannis and Imaginary Friend

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Entertainment, Music, music videos, viral videos, YouTube, YouTube Cover Song Face-Off

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Hottest Halloween Costumes of 2011 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 02:31 PM PDT

Want to know what the hottest Halloween costumes are this year? Or maybe you’re a contrarian, and don’t want to be seen in the same costume anyone else is wearing. Or maybe you’d like to know what the most popular candy is this Halloween, 2011.

You came to the right place. Find out what’s hot and what’s not by checking out the spooky stats on our Halloween infographic from Webtrends, showing you which costumes and candy garnered the most buzz.

According to Webtrends, the data used to create this infographic represents online mentions from October 1-24, 2011 and is an aggregation of Twitter, blogs, online news sites and other social media sources.

Infographic courtesy Webtrends

More About: costumes, Halloween, webtrends

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The Last Words of Steve Jobs

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 01:36 PM PDT

Steve Jobs’s biological sister, Mona Simpson, wrote a moving and highly personal eulogy for a private funeral service for the fallen tech titan that took place a few days after his death in early October.

An acclaimed novelist, she delivered a beautifully written description of Steve Jobs’s life, illness and death. She said his last words before he slipped into unconsciousness for the last time were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

Read “A Sister's Eulogy for Steve Jobs,” Mona Simpson’s moving tribute to her brother, published in Sunday’s New York Times.

More About: eulogy, Mona Simpson, steve jobs

Potential Greatness: Top 5 Tech Highlights of the Month [PICS]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 01:17 PM PDT

October was a roller coaster month for the tech world, filled with plenty of brand new products as well as second chances and upgrades, all promising better gadgetry in the months to come.

We got our hands on some of the best new products to roll out during the past month, giving you our impressions of the virtues and drawbacks of each with galleries, videos and analysis of what it all means. Here are the top 5 tech devices we thought showed the most potential for greatness:

1. Motorola Droid Razr

Thin is in, and Motorola has outdone itself with the aptly named 7.1mm-thick Droid Razr. It hits all the right numbers with its 4G LTE Verizon network, a dual-core processor and a 4.3-inch super AMOLED display. After our hands-on session, we thought the $299.99 smartphone packed a powerful punch for Android fans. It ships on Nov. 10, but our only gripe? It won’t have the latest version 4.0 of Android on board — better known as Ice Cream Sandwich — until early next year.

Thin is In

At just 7.1mm thin, Motorola claims that the Razr is the thinnest 4G LTE smartphone on the market.

Click here to view this gallery.

2. Google TV

Google TV was a flop in its first outing, but maybe the search giant’s version 2.0 of its television platform might bring redemption. The company’s replaced its first Google TV user interface with a more capable Android Honeycomb 3.1 operating system, bringing along with it the promise of thousands of apps that might take your TV places you never dreamed of.

Android Market

The Android Market, a familiar sight for smartphone users, is coming to Google TV.

Click here to view this gallery.

3. Kindle Fire

Amazon rolled out the Kindle Fire at the end of last month, but its reverberations continued through October in anticipation of its Nov. 15 sale date. At $199, it’s the lowest-priced tablet from any major player. It’s running the Android operating system, but its home screen looks nothing like it, resembling a bookshelf instead — and that gives you a clue of its purpose: It focuses on content. In fact, it costs Amazon more to manufacture a Kindle Fire ($209.63) than its retail price, but Amazon, being “the world’s largest bookstore,” plans to earn its money from selling ebooks for its new tablet. There’s no 3G, no camera or microphone, but this handy little slab with its new Amazon Silk browser, dual-core processor, 8GB of storage and a 7-inch touchscreen might be just good enough.

Click here to view this gallery.

4. iPhone 4S

Of course we would have to mention the iPhone 4S, with its dual-core processor speeding up both its graphics and responsiveness. Along for the ride was its top-billed feature, Siri, a work in progress that gave us a peek at what digital personal assistants might someday become.

iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S looks and feels exactly like the iPhone 4.

Click here to view this gallery.

5. Lytro Focus-Free Camera

We got a chance to play with this groundbreaking Lytro camera that gathers images and lets you decide how they’re going to be focused later. We found the prototypes well-designed, completely operational and working well. This quintet of videos will give you a good idea what’s in store when these $400 wonders hit the market next year:

Lytro Camera Hands On, Part 1

Mashable's Chris Taylor shows you the Lytro Camera, taking a pic and then selecting the area of that shot that's in focus afterward.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Droid RAZR, iPhone 4S, kindle fire, Top 5 Tech highlights

8 Breakthrough Innovations in Tech

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 12:45 PM PDT

For the Tech Innovators Series, supported by Lenovo, Mashable uncovered eight groundbreaking innovations that are changing the landscape of business.

From Google to Powermat, businesses large and small are embracing these innovations to rise head and shoulders above the competition. These companies have recognized areas in their own industries that can be improved with tech, and are reaping the benefits of their own bold thinking.

This roundup showcases the innovations from the series. To read more, click through to get the full story, and follow the series to learn about even more innovations.

1. Why Digital Medical Records Could Save Your Life

On average, an individual has 19 different doctors over the course of a lifetime. When patients see new doctors, they often spend a chunk of the appointment explaining their ailments and medical history. They may even have bloodwork done, even if they had it done recently at a different doctor’s office.

If the medical records system was digitized and all the information was in one convenient place, visits to the doctor would be quicker and less redundant. That “convenient place” is the cloud.

Read the full story here.

2. How Powermat Is Leading the Charge for Wireless Electricity

What’s worse when you’re on the go — your smartphone running out of battery life with no power outlet anywhere to be found, or having to carry around a charger?

Frankly, both these situations are the pits. That’s why wireless power pioneer Powermat is doing all it can to solve the on-the-go charging problem and make wired charging a thing of the past.

Read the full story here.

3. How Super-Strong Glass Keeps Your Smartphone Screen From Breaking

So many consumer electronics have touchscreens these days, and we tend to take them for granted. Sure, they might break or crack, but they’ve gotten considerably more durable over the years. That’s thanks in large part to innovation by a team at Corning, manufacturers of Gorilla Glass.

That's not to say that Gorilla Glass is shatterproof, but it's definitely more resilient in the face of tumbles and general clumsiness than previous glass displays.

Read the full story here.

4. How Virgin Galactic Plans to Open Space Travel to the Masses

In the 50 years since the former Soviet Union sent the first man into orbit (Yuri Gagarin), a total of 517 people have flown in space.

With the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet now retired, private companies are finding a way to make space exploration accessible not just to the wealthiest few, but to all mankind. It’s up to these companies to turn space into a legitimate business.

Read the full story here.

5. Location & Privacy: Why Flickr's New Feature May Change Photo Sharing

Does the era of the always-on location-aware device demand a new genre of privacy settings? More robust geo-privacy settings, perhaps?

That’s the motivation behind Flickr geofences, a newly added precautionary and practical feature that allows users to map out zones and set distinct location-sharing settings for those areas.

Read the full story here.

6. Connected Cars: The Fine Line Between Innovation & Distraction

The truth is, the auto companies are gun shy about adding too many social media hooks into their vehicles. The main reason is that they could distract drivers. Opposition by transportation secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t help, either.

For four years, though, Ford and Microsoft have offered a middle ground with their Ford Sync technology.

Read the full story here.

7. How Google Is Leading the Way to a Voice-Activated Future

Speech and voice recognition technology have been around for half a century, but it's still far from mainstream. Where are the machines that write down what we say? Where are the appliances that simply work based on voice commands?

That’s changing, though, thanks in no small part to Google‘s efforts in developing voice recognition tech. Since 2008, Google has been steadily releasing products that turn voice into text — and commands into action.

8. How Starbucks Is Paving the Way for Mainstream Mobile Payments

While near-field communication and QR code marketing campaigns are all the rage, the 2D bar codes pushing mobile payments are a little less sexy. Starbucks Card Mobile is a three-part system that includes 2D bar codes, scanners and mobile phone applications for iPhone, BlackBerry and now Android.

This seemingly simple system — especially when stacked up against Google’s pending NFC mobile payments program — allows Starbucks customers to pay with their phones at roughly 9,000 locations in the U.S.

Read the full story here.

What’s your favorite tech innovation? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, VisualField

More About: Tech Innovators Series

7 Scary YouTube Screamers That Will Make You Jump [VIDEOS]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 12:21 PM PDT

1. Creepy Grudge Ghost Girl in the Mirror

Mirrors are a great vehicle for horror, as this clip shows.

Click here to view this gallery.

We all enjoy a good old-fashioned fright, and what better time of year to indulge your dark side than Halloween?

We have found 7 terrifically terrifying YouTube videos that will make you jump — even if you’re expecting a shock.

If you’re up for some frightening fun, then take a look through the video gallery. Let us know in the comments which clips got you.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Vladimir Fedotov

More About: features, gallery, Halloween, videos, YouTube

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Angry Birds Costumes: 12 Clever Interpretations [PICS]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 10:38 AM PDT

Brilliant Construction

Image courtesy Joits Photography

Click here to view this gallery.

Halloween is coming up soon, and if you want to dress up like an Angry Bird, you’re running out of time. It’s too late to buy a costume online (and many of the best Angry Birds costumes are sold out anyway), so you might have to resort to making one yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started.

We found some of the best examples of Angry Birds costumes — many of them graced numerous Halloween parties last year, and then we added at the end of this gallery a quick peek at the commercial versions of Angry Birds costumes you might be able to find in local stores or use as a starting-off point for your own ideas.

So take a look, get out those arts and crafts tools and sewing machines (or see if you can find somebody who’s good at that sort of thing). Good luck, and stay angry (but with a smile on your face)!

Not pissed off enough to be an Angry Bird? Here are even more Halloween costumes.

More About: Angry Birds Costumes, Halloween

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Inside the Google NYC LEGO and Tech Fantasy Land [PICS]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 09:11 AM PDT

Google Logo in LEGO

Click here to view this gallery.

Tour Google's sprawling Mountain View, CA, campus and as you ogle the colors, great employee facilities and sense of whimsy, you'll think, "Why can't more offices be like this?" In reality, at least one of them can. It's Google's second largest office, not in California, but instead nestled among the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan.

The company calls this facility “Google NYC,” and it is big and surprisingly entertaining for a corporate office where 2,500 employees work on everything from Google Search and Ads to Google Maps, Docs and more. In fact, Google told Mashable that the office is host to the second-largest number of Google engineers in the company (you can guess where the rest of them are).

Google inhabits multiple floors of the downtown building and the one Mashable visited covers an entire city block. It's so large that areas have been given special names so people can keep track of where they are and where they're going. To get from one place to another, many employees use one of the hundreds of Razor scooters on the floor. As you would expect, there's ample free food and lots of unusual places to sit, meet and read. On the day we visited, there was what looked like a lunch counter facing a cooking show/music recital set where one seat was reserved for Yo Yo Ma (yes, the Yo Yo Ma) who was visiting that day.

One entire wall is devoted to LEGO art and LEGO creation. It was a struggle not to stop, stay and play. There's even a ladder to climb from one floor to the other.

The company is by no means new to New York. It arrived here way back in 2000, when Google was just two years old, and opened this office in 2006. In 2008, Google bought out an abandoned Oreo factory (yes, the Oreo cookie was invented there) on Chelsea Piers and established a second New York Office, just down the block from the first one.

Mashable got a quick tour of Google NYC, a place full of classic tech and LEGO whimsy. The gallery offers just a glimpse of what we found. See if you can guess the names of the classic computers before looking at each caption.

More About: apple, Classic Tech, Google, Lego, Search, Texas Instruments

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 08:01 AM PDT

Thanks to the Internet, marketing has evolved over the years. Consumers no longer rely on billboards and TV spots — a.k.a. outbound marketing — to learn about new products, because the web has empowered them. It’s given them alternative methods for finding, buying and researching brands and products. The new marketing communication — inbound marketing — has become a two-way dialogue, much of which is facilitated by social media.

Another reason why inbound marketing is winning is because it costs less than traditional marketing. Why try to buy your way in when consumers aren’t even paying attention? Here are some stats from the infographic below.

  • 44% of direct mail is never opened. That’s a waste of time, postage and paper.
  • 86% of people skip through television commercials.
  • 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have clicked out of a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad.”
  • The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing focuses on earning, not buying, a person’s attention, which is done through social media and engaging content, such as blogs, podcasts and white papers. This content is interesting, informative and adds value, creating a positive connection in the eyes of the consumer, thus making him more likely to engage your brand and buy the product. So it costs less and has better a ROI.

This infographic from Voltier Digital highlights the differences between the two kinds of marketing. Let us know your opinions in the comments below.

Infographic courtesy of Voltier Digital

More About: infographics, Marketing

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Who Are You, Siri? We Ask One of Her Dads

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 06:53 AM PDT

“Who are you?,” I ask Siri, attempting to unravel some of the mystery behind the iPhone 4S virtual assistant by going directly to the source. No such luck. “Who I am isn’t important,” she tells me.

Let’s stop being coy, Siri. Who you are is important. We both know that. So important that you may be a threat to Google’s Android platform.

And so I went to one of Siri’s makers, Gary Morgenthaler, venture capitalist, Siri investor and Siri board member, for a better answer to the who is Siri? question.

Let’s start with her name. Like any doting parent, Morgenthaler and the founding team behind Siri, especially CEO Dag Kittlaus, felt the newborn’s existence was of such significance that she warranted a very special moniker. And so they turned to baby name books.

The team put together a shortlist of potential names, but Siri stood out. Siri, a variant of Sigrid, is a Scandinavian and Norwegian girl name that means beautiful or fair victory. The Indian name Siri is associated with Goddess Lakshimi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Siri, to those who gave her life, became an amalgam of those meanings; they defined her appellation as, “beautiful woman that leads you to fair victory and wealth.” [Obviously, they overlooked some of Siri's more colorful meanings.]

Siri’s personality was of equal importance to the founding team and board, Morgenthaler says, and there were long discussions about who she should be and what she should look like.

“People have found that it is very useful to have a personal assistant that executes their desires, but you have a relationship with that personal assistant,” Morgenthaler details of the thought process that went into developing Siri’s personality. “It’s most rewarding when you’re in a constant dialogue, and when you’re talking to an intelligent person who is witty, has edge and is a little sassy. If that’s the case in the real world, [we said] let’s engineer this into the product itself.”

The team felt strongly that Siri should not become just another a chatbot. “[Siri] should be highly efficient so that you don’t feel like you’re wasting time, and you get an intelligent response always,” he adds. “But if you ask something funny, Siri should come back with a response that is right back at you.”

And so Siri’s highly efficient, smart but sassy persona was born. Her personality, first scripted by a creative writer specifically hired for the task, has evolved under Apple’s care. Morgenthaler believes that Apple will collect and use speech data to perfect her responses, and make her more whimsical over time.

But why doesn’t Siri have a face to match her voice?

“We considered creating an avatar,” Morgenthaler says. The team ultimately decided against an avatar because of a scientific hypothesis, termed the “uncanny valley,” that maintains that people are endeared to humanized robots, but only up until a point. A too human-looking robot will actually cause repulsion.

And so, in theory, Siri, with her computerized voice and faceless responses, is a robot that’s just human enough to merit the term “personality,” but far short of what our minds might recognize as an actual person.

Again, the best source of information is Siri herself. What does Siri have to say about this? “Are you a robot?,” I ask her. “We were talking about you, not me,” she says. “Are you human?,” I probe further.

“That’s a rather personal question, Jennifer,” she quips. Fair enough.

More About: iPhone 4S, siri

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10 Creepy iPhone Photos for Halloween

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 06:17 AM PDT

1. Twickenham Riverside by Andy Blackwell

Fancy a slow stroll along the river? We don't either.

Click here to view this gallery.

At this time of year we like to indulge ourselves with as many delicious chills as we can. To this end we’ve been taking a look at some spooky iPhotography.

We have found 10 creepy iPhone photographs that made the hair stand up on the back of our necks.

SEE ALSO: Fall Foliage: 10 Fantastic iPhone Photos That Celebrate the Season

Take a look through our spooky photo gallery. Let us know in the comments which images send a shiver down your spine.

More About: apple, features, gallery, Halloween, iphone, iphotography, photography, Photos

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