Saturday, 22 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “A Flash Sales Site for Fashion and Charity”

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “A Flash Sales Site for Fashion and Charity”

A Flash Sales Site for Fashion and Charity

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:14 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: Community Collection

Quick Pitch: 20% of all fashion goods sold benefit a charity of the designer’s choosing.

Genius Idea: If the proliferation of sites like Gilt and have taught us anything, it’s that consumers are motivated by flash sales: that is, sales on designer goods in a limited timeframe. This is true when a bargain is to be had, but what if those savings were transferred to a charity instead?

That’s the question Community Collection, an ecommerce initiative launched this week, is asking. The site offers 30-day sales from designers especially popular among the fashion set: Alexis Bittar, Adam Yigal Azrouel, Alexander Wang, Helmut Land and Erickson Beamon are among the first to sell goods on the site. Their merchandise isn’t discounted. Instead, 20% of the proceeds will be donated to a charitable organization of the designer’s choosing.

For now, Community Collection will feature merchandise from designers’ current collections, but it is working to bring exclusive or limited-edition products to the site in the future.

The self-funded, for-profit startup was founded by Brooks Cook, a former real estate investor and USC graduate based in California. He believes that the online fashion retail market is “incredibly oversaturated with discount sites” and that consumers are “looking for something different, something that will add value and create a unique experience.”

As with any other retailer — particularly one that sells merchandise from lesser-known designers — one of the challenges Cook will run up against is excess inventory. The company plans to hold pop-up sample sale events on behalf of local charities at the end of every season.

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, community collection, spark of genius series

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Meet the Newest Angry Bird [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 04:55 PM PDT

Rovio has introduced a Halloween treat for Angry Birds fans: A new Angry Bird.

The orange bird doesn’t have a name, but does have the ability to blow up several times his size. The bird, which is introduced in the video above, is part of Angry Birds Ham’O'Ween, a new collection of 30 Halloween-themed levels.

For those that have already downloaded Angry Birds Seasonsbut otherwise costs $.99. Click here for the iTunes and Android versions.

More About: angry birds, rovio

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Do Yourself a Favor and Just Like This Person’s Status [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 04:00 PM PDT

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

Warning this video contains mature language.

Ray William Johnson, of YouTube fame, visited the Mashable offices this afternoon and guest curated our YouTube Video of the Day selection. Lucky us — and you — because what better curator of YouTube videos is out there than the biweekly reviewer of hilarious clips for the video sharing platform’s most popular channel.

His choice? “LIKE MAH STATUS.”

“It’s just good,” Ray told us Friday at our New York headquarters. “Rarely does someone try to create a viral video that’s actually good.”

We love the video because of how it makes light of everyone’s insecurities when they post to the world’s largest social network, Facebook, and anxiously wait to see how many “Likes” they receive from their friends.

What do you think of the Like-craving phenomenon? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Facebook, viral-video-of-day, YouTube

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iPhone 4S: Siri Learns How to Pour a Beer [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 03:29 PM PDT

Who knew the iPhone 4S’s Siri could learn how to do so many useful things? Case in point: These guys have trained her to “pour them a beer.”

Calling their creation “Beeri,” the guys at Redpepper taught the iPhone 4S’s talkative virtual assistant to cross that digital divide between virtual reality and the real world, setting into motion a mix of technology that, while impressive, actually creates more work than it accomplishes.

First, the industrious inventors (Matt Reed, Ryan Dunlap, Danny McClain, Carl Schulz, and Greg Privett) taught Siri how to tweet (as we did last weekend). Next, they hooked up a radio-controlled truck to a Wi-Fi-enabled electronic device that watches a Twitter account (@beeribot), polling it every 10 seconds for tweets containing the word “pour.”

From there, you can see what happens — the enterprising inventors tell Siri to tweet a message (“Pour me a beer”), and the little truck springs into action, careening down its crazy collision course that results in a beer “pour” that’s more like spillage, semi-contained.

More impressive than their ingenuity is their speed, building this Rube Goldbergian monstrosity in less than three days. According to Matt Reed, “We actually brainstormed this on Tuesday, pulled together resources and started dev on Wednesday, filmed on Thursday and Carl here compiled the video into the early morning Friday.” They’re pretty impressed with their handiwork. Says Matt, “In the future, all beers are poured precisely by Beeri.”

Amusing. But isn’t it more work to load up a beer, execute this hilarious “pouring” sequence, and then clean up the gigantic mess afterward — than to just pour a beer yourself? Oh, sorry — we didn’t mean to spoil your fun by injecting practicality.

The inventors

Click here to view this gallery.

[via Pepperspective]

More About: Beer, Beeri, iPhone 4S, siri

Sprint Ends Unlimited Data Plans for Laptops, Tablets

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 02:49 PM PDT

Starting next month, Sprint is putting a cap on its unlimited data plans for tablets, laptops, netbooks, PC cards and mobile hotspots.

The wireless carrier will still offer smartphone users — including new iPhone 4S customers — unlimited data on phones. For iPhone 4S users who envisioned using Sprint as an inexpensive unlimited mobile hotspot, however, the service change will be disappointing.

As PC World points out, this change eliminates one Sprint’s differentiating features. In fact, in its ads, Sprint boasts that it’s the only network that offers “truly unlimited” data.

Mobile hotspot data plans on Sprint phones will now be capped at 5GB a month of either 3G or 3G/4G combined service. Sprint will charge $0.05 per megabyte for data that exceeds those caps.

Does the lack of “unlimited” hot spot data change your plans to use Sprint? Let us know.

More About: data plans, smartphones, sprint

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2.4M Web Clicks Prompt Chevy Sonic to Bungee Jump [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 02:22 PM PDT

General Motors took the launching of the 2012 Chevy Sonic quite literally, sending the car careening off a cliff for web viewers.

The premise of the stunt, which started on October 19, and was executed by ad agency Goodby Silverstein and Partners, was that each time a visitor clicked on LetsDoThis, the car, which was balanced on a 90-foot structure made of shipping containers, would move a bit closer to the edge. (The progress was measured by a finger pointer that showed how many people had clicked.) After 2.4 million clicks, as you can see, the car, which was attached to Bungee cables supported by a hydraulic crane, survived the freefall.

If you’re wondering, yes, these are the lengths you have to go to go get attention for a car launch these days.

[Via Creativity Online]

More About: Chevy Sonic, General Motors, Marketing

Iraq Withdrawal: Congress Responds on Twitter

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 01:57 PM PDT

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that the United States will withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of the year. As members of Congress prepared their statements either applauding or condemning the decision, some of them posted their first reactions to Twitter.

Many Congress members’ tweets, most of them from Democrats, expressed support for the president’s decision. “Victory!” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.). “I am so pleased,” wrote Lois Capps (D.-Calif.). “So glad,” wrote Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.).

Others took the opportunity to spin the conversation toward other interests. Rep. Ed Markey (D.-Mass.) tweeted,”Let’s thank heroes returning from #Iraq by passing Obama #jobsnow plan so they get help finding good jobs at home.”

Few Republicans reacted to the news on Twitter, but two of them — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) — didn’t mince words.

“I hope I am wrong and the President is right, but I fear this decision has set in motion events that will come back to haunt our country,” tweeted Graham. “I feel all we have worked for, fought for, and sacrificed for is very much in jeopardy by today’s announcement.”

McCain posted, “Today marks a harmful and sad setback for the United States in the world.”

Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas took a different approach.

“What do you think of this?” he asked his 4,000 followers.

Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.)

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: congress, iraq, obama

3 FTC Cases That Could Affect Your Mobile App

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 01:28 PM PDT

Alysa Z. Hutnik is a partner in the Advertising & Marketing and Privacy & Information Security practices at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP. Read more on Kelley Drye's advertising law blog Ad Law Access, or keep up with the group on Facebook and Twitter.

Since August, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced three different law enforcement actions pertaining to mobile app developers and the companies' owners. One case scrutinizes mobile apps that collect children's personal information without parental consent. Another tackles deceptive health-related advertising claims. The third addresses concerns over an app's default settings, which allowed broad sharing of data without the user's informed consent. Here's the recap:

  • Emily Apps, August 2011: The FTC announces its settlement with W3 Innovations over alleged violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), asserting that the company's mobile apps (Emily Apps, which included “Emily's Girl World” and “Emily's Runway High Fashion”) collected children's personal information without parental consent. A COPPA rule is violated when companies collect online personal information about children under the age of 13, and do so without parental consent.
  • AcneApp, September 2011: The FTC announces its second mobile app settlement. This time, the case targeted a marketer that claimed its mobile apps, AcneApp and Acne Pwner, treated acne with colored lights that emit from smartphones or mobile devices. The advertising advised consumers to hold the display screen next to the area of skin to be treated for few minutes daily while the app was activated. The FTC charged that the mobile apps' acne treatment claims were unsubstantiated and deceptive, and therefore, unlawful under the FTC Act.
  • Frostwire, October 2011: The FTC announces its third mobile app settlement. The case charged that a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing application developer, Frostwire LLC and its principal, publicly exposed its app users' personal information without their authorization, and misled users about the extent to which downloaded files would be distributed with a P2P file-sharing network. The developer had configured the default settings of its app so that, immediately upon installation, the app would publicly share personal files stored on the app users' mobile device. For those reasons, the FTC claimed that the developer's alleged actions were unfair, deceptive and violated the FTC Act.

These settlements supplement the FTC's statements made earlier this year to Congress, which concern the agency's close scrutiny of mobile app marketing and privacy practices. The FTC indicated that a number of cases were in the pipeline, and not yet public. There are likely even more law enforcement actions against mobile app developers (and such companies' principals) yet to be announced — allegations that the mobile apps failed to comply with consumer protection laws (including truthful and non-deceptive advertising) or evolving privacy requirements.

Why Should a Mobile App Developer Care?

For many mobile app developers, the FTC is just another agency in Washington, D.C. Some companies may not even recognize how the FTC is relevant to their businesses. Given the FTC's inspection of such companies, however, it's worth the caution. Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, the FTC can investigate "unfair" or "deceptive" practices of almost any type of business (except for banks and common carriers, to name a couple). If their jurisdiction sounds vague, that's due to relatively flexible consumer protection law.

In a nutshell, if a company advertises with false, misleading or unsupported claims, it's a potential FTC case. If a company is collecting, sharing, selling or otherwise using personal information about consumers without their consent, it's another potential FTC case.

Just what type of "disclosures" or "consumer consent" is necessary? That determination is based on the context, facts and law (which, in some respects, is evolving on a month-by-month basis).

Legal experts in this area determine the "rules of the road," in large part, based on the FTC settlements. Companies who operate in fields closely monitored by the FTC would be well-advised to note FTC actions, and to evaluate how the "rules of the road" apply to their businesses. Here are some lessons to take away from the current mobile app settlements.

  • Advertising claims need be truthful. That means both literally and what your advertising claims implicitly communicate in the overall context of the advertisement. If you're not sure whether you have lawful enough justification, or whether your disclosures are sufficient, make sure you review your advertising claims with a lawyer.
  • Important terms of the app need to be stated clearly and upfront. If there are any important terms (like monetary charges or personal data collection), or important limitations to your mobile app, those should be communicated in plain language.
  • Tune in to privacy. There are a number of privacy laws, and emerging privacy restrictions on the type of personal data your app can and should collect from users. It's also important to know with whom you can share that information, and to disclose how your app collects, uses and shares such data lawfully. If your mobile app is designed to collect data from the consumer (whether contact information, geolocational information, or other identifying data), monitor industry guidelines and check with a privacy expert to ensure your app's disclosures and settings are compatible with legal requirements.

Failure to take these steps can make a mobile app company and its individual owners the latest FTC target. If you think a settlement with the FTC isn't too bad, you might want to reconsider. Take note that these FTC settlements will last for 20 years, and closely regulate all future business conduct concerning said mobile app (and potentially other mobile apps and business practices that a company and its owners wish to develop). Violations of an FTC settlement can also result in up to $16,000 per violation which, when calculated, can amount to millions of dollars in civil penalties.

The main takeaway: The FTC is monitoring mobile apps, and you don't want yours caught in the scrutiny. Be proactive and take reasonable steps to make sure your mobile apps comply with the law.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Creativeye99

More About: apps, contributor, features, law, Mobile

Kodak Wants to Print Your Facebook Pictures for Free

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:55 PM PDT

kodak image

Kodak is running an offer to help turn your Facebook pictures into printed pictures you can hold in your hand. The contest itself is pretty standard fare: Like Kodak’s Facebook page and get a voucher for 20 free prints of your Facebook images.

What’s more interesting is that Facebook, via Kodak, is taking a serious shot at the online image-sharing giants, such as Flickr and Picasa. Facebook’s image galleries have always been a little more about capturing private moments between friends. Or, rather, Facebook albums were the things you hid from your employer.

While Flickr and Picasa host their fare share of intimate moments, the two sites have attracted more serious and amateur photographers. Facebook has been trying to break into the image market for a time by making uploads easier, featuring photos and revamping the way images are viewed. The latest Facebook redesign further emphasizes photography with a large image across the top of all profiles pages called a cover, which is yet to be implemented across all profiles.

Kodak’s promotion, which runs until Oct. 23, is also part of the legendary photo company’s attempt to stay relevant in the digital era. Last year, Kodak integrated their real-world Picture Kiosks with Facebook Connect at various American retailers. These kiosks could pull information from Facebook accounts and print out images as if they were from a camera or memory card. Facebook will be added to Kodak Kiosks in participating Targets and CVS Pharmacies.

What do you think of Facebook competing in the online image market? Is Kodak doing the right things to stay relevant? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, fullyreclined

More About: Facebook, Kodak, photography

NATO Commander Announces End to Libyan War — On Facebook

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:23 PM PDT

In the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s capture and death, NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis announced his intent to end the war in Libya on his Facebook Page.

As Wired points out, social media may not have caused the uprising and revolts in Libya, but networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube certainly have helped groups better organize and communicate. The fact that the end to the Libyan war was announced on Facebook first underscores the importance the service holds in getting information out to wide groups of people.

In his Wall post, Stavridis wrote,

An extraordinary 24 hours in Libya. As SACEUR, I will be recommending conclusion of this mission to the North Atlantic Council of NATO in a few hours. A good day for NATO. A great day for the people of Libya.

The capture of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring and even the more banal debates in U.S. politics have all exemplified the growing role of social media in the geo-political process.

Who would have thought that end-of-war announcements would find their way to Facebook?

More About: Facebook, james stavridis, libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Top News

Google Engineer Apologizes for “Great-Granddaddy of Reply-All Screwups”

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 12:20 PM PDT

Google engineer Steve Yegge apologized in a recent blog post for his rant about Google+ and Amazon that he accidentally published to approximately 2,000 of his followers.

“Last week I accidentally posted an internal rant about service platforms to my public Google+ account (i.e. this one),” Yegge writes. “Bagging on the company, even in an internal memo, was uncharacteristically unprofessional of me. So I've been feeling pretty guilty for the past week.”

In his 5,000-word post that he intended to publish internally for other Google employees, Yegge pinpoints several flaws at Amazon, including inconsistent hiring practices, weak operations, indifference to charities and low pay compared to other companies. He also describes Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, as a micromanager fanatic.

Yegge then continued his rant about the company’s inability to understand platforms.

“Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo),” Yegge wrote. “Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product.”

“Last week I accidentally posted an internal rant about service platforms to my public Google+ account…. Bagging on the company, even in an internal memo, was uncharacteristically unprofessional of me. So I've been feeling pretty guilty for the past week.”

In his apologetic post about his Google and Amazon rants, Yegge notes that there were no repercussions at Google for his post except for his employees laughing at him for “having committed what must be the great-granddaddy of all Reply-All screwups in tech history.”

According to Yegge, Google is now trying to find solutions to the topics that were raised in his post. He confirmed that he actually meant it when he wrote, “Google does everything right.”

Yegge admitted to feeling guilty about the how he represented Amazon, and describes the company as “one hell of an interesting place” in his new post. He shares a story in which he recalls the disappointment and defeat that he watched many of his former employees face after giving presentations to Bezos, and explains the different tactics he used to prepare for his first presentation with the Amazon CEO.

He continues his story by sharing advice on how to present to someone like Bezos who he previously characterized as an obsessive micromanager, but in his new post, now exalts for his brilliance, referring to him as an “incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius.”

More About: amazon, Facebook, Google

Mashable Follow Is Now 500,000 Members Strong!

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 11:48 AM PDT

The Mashable community reached a huge milestone today: Mashable Follow has grown to more than 500,000 members!

Ever since it was released to the public in April 2011, Mashable Follow has been making your Mashable experience more social, more useful and more personalized to you.

Readers sign up for Follow with their Facebook or Twitter login to simply and seamlessly comment on and share Mashable stories. You can also create a personalized feed by subscribing to topics, which showcases the news you’re most interested in the “My Stories” and email newsletters. A favorite Follow feature is badges, which you can earn for everything from gaining followers to connecting social networking profiles to your account. They’re all based off popular web memes, including Dramatic Chipmunk and Sad Keanu.

The heart of Mashable is in its community, and we want to send a huge thank you to all our readers who have been engaging with us on Follow for making this milestone possible. It’s a goal we’ve been striving for since we started this adventure.

We can’t wait to meet the next 500,000 members!

What do you think?

As excited as we are about this milestone, we know that we can never stop changing and growing. Team Mashable wants to know: How do you use Mashable Follow? What do you think we can do to improve it?

Below, you can see what people thought about Follow when it was released. How do you view it now?

A Mashable reader reacts to the Follow launch on Twitter.

Click here to view this gallery.

About Mashable Follow

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SimplyListed Wants to Get the World Buying and Selling via Mobile [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 11:22 AM PDT

Could selling the mouse or iPhone you no longer need be as simple as snapping a photo with your mobile phone? Yes, says SimplyListed, makers of an iPhone application targeted at the population of the world too intimated by Craigslist or eBay to sell their wares on the web.

“If you can use an app like Instagram,” says SimplyListed CEO Jon Grall, in an exclusive interview with Mashable, “you can use SimplyListed to sell your stuff.”

SimplyListed’s iPhone application is centered on the camera. If you have something to sell, fire up the application, take as many as four photos from different angles, add an optional description and hit the list button.

SimplyListed does the rest — including automatically determining what it is you’re selling, how much it’s worth and making it available to buyers in a digital bazaar.

“The ease of posting an item is something that people haven’t seen before,” Grall explains of SimplyListed’s value. The startup uses a somewhat mysterious methodology — Grall was reluctant to disclose details — to scour the web for items resembling the one you’re trying to sell, and then use that data to determine a price range for your item.

Each for-sale item goes through an approval process, but once it passes inspection, the seller can promote her own listing — soon sellers will have landing pages they can socially promote — or wait to be included in one of SimplyListed’s weekly themed sales.

The application was also designed to make communication between potential buyers and sellers a breeze. SimplyListed gives each seller an anonymized email address and phone number, but it routes all messages through the app, with push notifications, to avoid clogging up the seller’s actual inbox.

The two-person Y Combinator startup first quietly released its iPhone app on the App Store in March, but only completed its initial themed sale two weeks ago. Now, it’s looking to make a bigger splash and convert regular Joes and Janes into iPhone buyers and sellers, just as Instagram has helped the average iPhone users indulge in their photographic aspirations.

SimplyListed has its quirks. iPhone users can only access items for sale during one of the startup’s weekly bazaars, for the time being. The sale structure is a (temporary) contrived attempt to focus activity while SimplyListed builds its user base, Grall explains.

But SimplyListed’s ambition to make selling stuff an approachable concept for the masses is quite laudable, especially considering that this reporter has an iPhone 4 already collecting dust in her apartment but would likely never turn to Craigslist or eBay to sell it.

“People have stuff and they will give it away or sell it given the chance,” Grall says, “but all the tools to do that are not there yet. We want to get the whole world buying and selling.”

More About: SimplyListed, Startups, y combinator

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Verizon Wireless Beat AT&T in Contract Subscribers This Quarter

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 10:20 AM PDT

Verizon Communications said Friday that its profit had doubled since the same time last year. Although most of the increase this quarter is the result of changes to pension plans, a portion of it can be attributed to an uptick in contract wireless subscribers that puts Verizon's number of such customers almost three times ahead of ATT's this quarter.

During the quarter, the company’s profits rose to $1.38 billion, or 49 cents per share, from $659 million, or 23% per share. Factoring in pension adjustments, however, earnings were about even with last year, according to the Associated Press.

Verizon Wireless launched its 4G network in the U.S. and announced five new 4G devices (though neither the Droid Razr or iPhone 4S were in stores before the quarter ended). It posted a gain of 882,000 contract subscribers — the most valuable type. The increase marks a 51% improvement over last year that nearly triples the number that its competitor AT&T announced yesterday.

However, Verizon Wireless subscriber numbers were still below analyst expectations.

“It’s difficult to complain about (subscribers),” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King told Reuters. “It’s going to be so much better than everybody else’s. They’re still continuing to take market share.”

More About: att, Mobile, verizon

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YouTube Gets a Mini Makeover

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 10:06 AM PDT

youtube image

YouTube announced four important additions to its popular video service designed to improve the way users manage and discover new content.

The mini-makeover includes a new video end screen, which appears after a video plays. It’s a full-screen mosaic with additional viewing recommendations.

The playlist bar has also been improved with larger video images and clearer “back” and “forward” buttons. YouTube’s playlists have been hugely popular for users looking to curate or collect content. The redesign should be a huge improvement over the previous design, which tended to have glitches.

Users looking to curate content will be happy to know the YouTube charts page has been updated. YouTube always kept track of top videos, but these lists were either buried in sub-menus or lost on the landing page. The redesign promises more chances for content discovery with smart search filters and niche categories like “How To & Style” and “Pets & Animals.”

Video editing is one of YouTube’s best-kept secrets. YouTube announced that WeVideo Now will be a big update to its current video editing tools, offering users even more options for editing and touching up their uploaded videos. WeVideo is a cloud-based video editing service, meaning all those tools will be available from any computer.

More details on the changes are available on the YouTube blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Rego –

More About: Social Media, videos, YouTube

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Who Owns Your Identity on the Social Web?

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 09:48 AM PDT

When I go to a bar, the bouncer usually stops me and asks for an ID. I show him my state-issued driver's license and walk on by. This may be unusual, as I'm 36 (thanks, mom, for the good genes), but we're all pretty accustomed to presenting our official identification when needed. We need IDs to vote in an election, and when we get pulled over for speeding. If identification is so commonplace in the physical world, why is it still such a hazy area on the Internet?

In the old days of web publishing, almost every site required its users to register in order to access certain functionalities, like commenting. However, each login was only useful to its corresponding website. Users had to remember a myriad of usernames and passwords just to read up on the morning news.

With the rise of social networks and search platforms, a few large B2C companies evolved into large-scale consumer identity providers (a.k.a. IdPs) — Facebook, Twitter and Google, among others. These companies began to fill the identity-management gap by giving users a few different IDs that worked across media websites. For instance, you can register at Mashable using your Facebook or Twitter ID, and a few others (like Google) will be activated soon.

As many of you know, when you register on a media site with your Facebook or Twitter identity, you're usually asked to give access to your profile data (like name and email address), and allow that site to publish to your feeds (like your News Feed on Facebook, or your Timeline on Twitter). Presumably, media sites, not unlike Mashable, do this with the best of intentions. But they're only going to publish content to your feed that you've expressed interest in, and then follow up with you via email, right? Maybe.

For instance, we just launched our Mashable Awards 2011 microsite. By registering with Mashable using your Facebook or Twitter account, you can nominate your favorite company, person, site, game, app or gadget for any of the 28 categories. Once you nominate, we’ll publish a notification to both your Twitter and Facebook accounts. When your notification appears on your feed, presumably your friends will see it, and stop over at Mashable to nominate their own favorites. (This is, in fact, what’s happening now, and the main reason why Awards is such a fun project for us.)

So, what's the harm in this? None really, as long as this newfound power is wielded properly. In short, the media company posts to your feed when it's supposed to. If you get annoyed, simply revoke access. You can take my word that we, at Mashable, will use this access appropriately. But that's just it: You have to take my word. Easier said than done.

There's a great burden placed on identity providers to police the media companies that connect with their users. There's also a great burden on media companies to fulfill and not violate the trust of their end-users, and to behave appropriately.

In the end, if we violate your trust, you'll just revoke our access and probably not return. But, is that the best means of policing media companies, or more generally, is that the best way of policing access to your shared identity?

How can we prevent media companies from abusing this level of access to your identity?

Or, how can identity providers give users greater control without making the whole process too complicated?

Identity management, and more pointedly, identity ownership, is a topic of great concern. Many heated viewpoints exist; the only agreement so far is that the "driver's license" of the Internet faces a long road of obstacles.

At the Mashable Media Summit 2011, I'll discuss this and more with my esteemed colleagues: Paul Berry, CTO of The Huffington Post, Andy Mitchell, strategic partner development at Facebook, and Andrew Nash, director of identity products at Google.

I won't guarantee an answer, but I can guarantee a good discussion. Bring your thinking caps, your questions and, so you can get in the door, your driver's licenses.

Platinum Sponsor: AT&T

More About: features, identity, mashable media summit, privacy, Social Media, web

10 Seriously Addictive iPhone Strategy Games

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 09:03 AM PDT

1. Plants vs. Zombies

This strategy game from PopCap blends together elements of castle and tower defense.

Like other PopCap games, Plants vs. Zombies is great for its accessibility. The game gradually introduces new gameplay elements at a rate that never feels overly complex -- even when dozens of enemies get involved, and an even greater number of defenses must be employed. Both casual and regular gamers will find themselves enamored by this fun title.

Click here to view this gallery.

Strategy games and iOS are a match made in heaven. The touch screen makes interacting with units and maps quicker and easier than any mouse pointer could. This has led to a wide variety of fun and intuitive strategy games made for the platform.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Live Multiplayer Games for iPhone | 8 Fantastic Physics Puzzlers for iPhone

From traditional turn-based strategy, to tower defense, to games that bend the rules altogether into something new, there’s something here for everyone who wants to use his brain to win.

More About: contributor, features, Gaming, iphone, iphone apps, mobile games, video games

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Steve Jobs Biography: The Best Excerpts

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 08:48 AM PDT

Numerous media outlets got their hands on the highly anticipated Steve Jobs biography Thursday, which won’t be released to the public until Oct. 24.

Below are excerpts of the book featured in news articles across the web.

Biographer Walter Isaacson — who will be interviewed on Sunday night's 60 Minutes — had unprecedented access to Jobs as well as his family, friends, colleagues and adversaries for two years leading up to a few weeks before the Apple innovator died Oct. 5.

Pre-orders for Steve Jobs: A Biography spiked after Jobs passed away, hitting number one on Amazon‘s sales chart. The book will be available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats.

From The New York Times story:

  • “Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first ‘to outrun a cancer like this’ or be among the last ‘to die from it,” wrote NYT‘s Steve Lohr.
  • "The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body. It's hard to push someone to do that," said his wife, Laurene Powell.

From The Associated Press story:

  • "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs said after HTC released an Android phone in early 2010. "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want.''
  • "None of us has any idea how long we’re gong to be here nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.”
  • "Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands. But now it's being dismembered and destroyed,” Jobs said about HP’s recent decision to discontinue operations for webOS devices. “I hope I've left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at Apple.''
  • “I really didn't want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other things would work,” Jobs said.

From The Huffington Post story:

  • “Bill [Gates] is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas,” Jobs said.
  • On meeting his biological father for the first time: “It was amazing,” Jobs said. “I was a wealthy man by then, and I didn’t trust him not to try to blackmail me or go to the press about it.”
  • “You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” Jobs told U.S. President Barack Obama when they met in 2010.
  • “I wanted my kids to know me,” Jobs said in his final interview with Isaacson. “I wasn’t always there for them and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
  • “We all have a short period of time on this earth,” Jobs said. “We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we’re gong to be here nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.”

What are you most excited to learn about in the biography? Chime in below.

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Groupon Aims to Raise $540 Million in Downsized November IPO

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 08:26 AM PDT

Groupon plans to raise between $480 million and $540 million in an initial public offering, or about two-thirds of the $750 million the not-yet-profitable company intended to raise in June.

According to regulatory documents filed Friday, the Chicago-based startup is prepared to sell 30 million shares — a little less than 5% of the company — for between $16 and $18 each, placing the company at a valuation range of $10.1 billion to $11.4 billion, reports Reuters.

It will arrive on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker "GRPN” in early November (The Wall Street Journal says Nov. 4).

Groupon has faced some challenges over the last year, such as losing two COOs, a class-action lawsuit from sales team employees and scrutiny over its accounting practices and long-term growth prospects. It turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google in June.

The company did report a stronger third quarter. Revenues were at $430.2 million, up 426% over the same period last year and 9.6% over the previous quarter. Losses totaled $10.6 million, a substantial improvement from the $49 million it lost the previous quarter. The makeup in losses is largely attributed to a lower marketing spend.

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Facebook Facing $138,000 Fine for Holding Deleted User Data

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:55 AM PDT

Facebook‘s Ireland offices are being audited, as the company is facing a possible €100,000 ($138,000) fine for retaining data deleted by users, The Guardian reports.

The case began when a 24-year-old Austrian law student, Max Schrems, asked Facebook for a copy of all his personal data in June. Facebook complied, sending him a CD containing 1,200 pages of data, including his likes, “friend” and “defriend” history, and chat logs.

The problem? Schrems had deleted some of the data returned to him from his profile, yet Facebook retained his information.

Schrems proceeded to start an initiative called Europe vs. Facebook, and filed 22 individual claims about the social network’s practices.

The complaints include some of the ways Facebook keeps deleted user data, and highlight some of Facebook’s Terms of Service and business shortcomings.

“Postings that have been deleted showed up in the set of data that was received from Facebook,” says one complaint. “The privacy settings only regulate who can see the link to a picture. The picture itself is "public" on the internet. This makes it easy to circumvent the settings,” says another.

According to ZDNet, the complaints have already yielded results: Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has called for an audit of Facebook’s offices, which will take place before Christmas.

Should the DPC find Facebook has breached Irish data protection law, it can ask the company to change the way it handles personal data. Should Facebook fail to comply, it could face a fine of up to €100,000 ($138,000). Of course, for Facebook, the negative publicity could be more damaging than the amount of the fine.

In February 2009, Facebook changed its Terms of Service, giving itself the right to use or modify user data in any way it wants, even if a user quits the service.

This subtle change in Facebook’s TOS prompted a huge public backlash, ultimately forcing Facebook to backpedal a little. In an elaborate blog post, Mark Zuckerberg explained why the company feels it needs to retain a copy of user’s data.

While some of his arguments are valid — for example, it’s very tricky to permanently delete a message you’ve sent another user, as the other user also has the right to keep his/her copy — this latest incident might once again spark complaints from users feeling Facebook has granted itself too many liberties with their data.

With the public roll-out of Timeline on the horizon, many users are bound to have a slew of new privacy concerns. If you are already using Timeline, have you found any of your data you thought was hidden or deleted appearing publicly? Please share your experiences below.

[via The Guardian]

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iPhone 4S Now Available for Pre-Order in 22 More Countries

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:41 AM PDT

One week after stores in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK started selling the iPhone 4S, online Apple stores in 22 additional countries have begun taking pre-orders.

iPhone 4S pre-order pages have been posted for Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Apple has said it will begin filling orders in these countries on Oct. 28. The company estimates customers who order a phone online in any these 22 countries will need to wait one to two weeks for delivery, as they did in the U.S. and other countries where iPhone 4S is already available.

The first weekend after going on sale in six countries Oct. 14, Apple sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S devices. The company plans to add more than 70 countries by the end of the year, in addition to the 22 listed above.

iPhone 4S

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

Click here to view this gallery.

[Via 9to5mac]

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Nintendo Bringing Hulu Plus to the Wii and 3D Video to 3DS

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:28 AM PDT

Hulu Plus and 3D video recording are coming soon to the 3DS and Wii, Nintendo announced Friday.

Device owners will be able to access TV shows and movies through Hulu Plus “by the end of the year.” Hulu Plus, which was more or less the only streaming video service not previously available on those systems, offers access to current and past seasons of shows from ABC, Comedy Central, Fox, NBC and MTV for $7.99 per month.

A 3DS system update, which includes 3D video capture, will arrive by the end of November. Users, who are currently only able to capture 3D images, will soon be able to record up to 10 minutes of 3D video and create their own 3D stop-motion animated videos.

The company also announced that four new Nintendo-published games would be coming to its eShop, including Pokemon Rumble Blast (Oct. 24), Super Mario 3D Land (Nov. 13) and Mario Kart 7 (Dec. 4). The fourth game and its launch date were not disclosed.

Nintendo’s next-generation gaming console, the Wii U, is expected to launch early next year.

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Facebook by the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:15 AM PDT

The Social Media Infographics Series is supported by VocusSocial Media Strategy Tool, a free, six-step online tool that lets you build a custom social media framework tailored to your organization's goals.

You likely know that Facebook is the world’s largest social network with more than 800 million users, but did you know that more than 250 million photos are uploaded every single day? Or that the average American spends seven hours and 46 minutes browsing her friends’ profiles per month?

Facebook has become an integral part of our lives — some people more than others. It’s where we learn what our friends are doing, who they’re dating and even what they’re listening to.

We wanted to dive deeper into the Facebook phenomenon, so we collected some stats about the social network and put them together in one infographic. Check out what makes Facebook tick (and what celebrity is the king of Facebook with 47+ million fans) below.

Infographic designed by Emily Caufield.

This series is supported by VocusSocial Media Strategy Tool, a free online tool which lets you build your own custom social media framework in six easy steps. It helps you determine your organization's goals, explore the latest MarketingSherpa research data, and create your own workbook packed with the strategies, tactics and resources you need. Try it today!

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Teach Siri How to Pronounce Your Name

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:00 AM PDT

Siri Phonetic Pronunciation

We all know Siri, Apple's Intelligent Assistant, is smart. Her feminine voice sounds almost human — if a human were run through an Ethernet cable and emerged from a computer. She speaks almost causally and has little trouble with natural language questions and slang. Yet, she often stumbles on surname pronunciation.

When I tested the voice recognition technology found only in the iPhone 4S, Siri did many amazing things (and shared a lot of wise-cracks). Unfortunately, I couldn't get her to properly pronounce my last name. Not that Siri is alone. People have been mispronouncing it since I was child. My parents suffered through it and so did their parents. Ancestors who arrived on boats at the turn of the last century presented such a challenge to immigration officials that those gate-keepers simplified the spelling of our name. For the record, my name is extremely phonetic: it's pronounced "You-Lan-Off" — just like it's spelled. Siri made a common mistake and called me "Lance Ooolanoff".

The great thing about Siri is she's totally trainable. She'll get better at understanding my voice, so we don't have so much miscommunication. Better still, I can teach her how to properly say my name — as well as any other name in my contacts (including iCloud contacts). Siri, by the way, knows who I am because I identified myself to her in the Siri settings.

Teaching Siri to pronounce is easy, once you know where to look. This gallery will take you through all the steps. And to Mr. Vernadakis, Ms. Picoult, Mr. Reichs and Ms. Rowling, you're welcome.

Have you had trouble with the way Siri says your name (or pronounces any words, for that matter)? Tell us your story in the comments.

Siri Pronunciation Training: Contacts

Start by finding your Contacts app on the Apple iPhone 4S.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Groupon Aims for $540 Million IPO, Verizon Reports Solid 3rd Quarter: Today’s Top Stories

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:11 AM PDT

Social Media News

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

Groupon to Raise Up to $540 Million in IPO

Groupon hopes to raise $540 million in an initial public offering, less than previously planned.

Verizon Reports Solid Third Quarter

Verizon reported third quarter earnings of $3.54 billion, or 49 cents a share, on revenue of $27.9 billion.

Microsoft Stock Declines After Earnings

Shares of Microsoft fell slightly after the company reported fiscal first quarter earnings, which were in line with estimates.

Facebook Announces Jobs Initiative

Facebook is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Labor and three employment-related agencies in an attempt to decrease the country's 9.1% unemployment rate using social media, a project that may eventually include a Facebook jobs posting system.

Further News

  • Details of the forthcoming, authorized biography of Steve Jobs have begun to appear.
  • Google Reader will get a new look and integration with Google+ next week. Gmail is also getting an overhaul.
  • Hulu Plus is coming to the Wii and 3DS by the end of this year, says Nintendo.
  • Google’s Android movie rentals service has launched in the UK with more than 1,000 titles.
  • A study from Copenhagen's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health found no evidence that cellphone use causes cancer.
  • First lady Michelle Obama sent her first tweet Thursday.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:01 AM PDT

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Cellphones Don’t Cause Cancer [STUDY]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 05:33 AM PDT

A new extensive study finds no evidence to link cellphone use with cancer.

Over the past couple of years, reports have suggested that cellphones may cause cancer or claimed the opposite. However, the interesting thing about this latest study is that it’s sample size is the entire adult population of Denmark.

Researchers from Copenhagen’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health divided Danish adults (30 years of age and over) born after 1925 into subscribers and non-subscribers of mobile phones before 1995. The study found that occurrences of cancer among the two groups were nearly equal.

Furthermore, among mobile phone subscribers, the study didn’t find an increased number of occurrences of glioma in the temporal lobes of the brain, the part of the body most directly exposed to cellphone radiation.

The study, of course isn’t without flaws — one doesn’t need to have a subscription plan to use a cellphone. The authors of the study recognized this. “Subscription holders who are not using their phone will erroneously be classified as exposed and people without a subscription but still using a mobile phone will erroneously be classified as unexposed,” the study says.

This prompted the authors to do an additional analysis of the study’s results which reduced the number of cases but also minimized the possibility for misclassification, but the results were very similar.

“In this update of a nationwide study of mobile phone subscribers in Denmark we found no indication of an increased risk of tumours of the central nervous system,” the authors conclude. However, the authors warn that “a small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy (cellphone) users” cannot be ruled out, which calls for further studies on large populations.

While every study has its flaws and limitations, this appears to be the most convincing and exhaustive report indicating that cellphones do not cause cancer.

Check out the entire study here.

Graphic courtesy iStockphoto/gerenme

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