Thursday, 20 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “What to Do if Your Ereader Is Lost or Stolen”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “What to Do if Your Ereader Is Lost or Stolen”

What to Do if Your Ereader Is Lost or Stolen

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 04:47 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Busy business travelers have found ereaders to be extremely valuable. But losing an expensive or otherwise coveted item is always painful. Losing an item with sensitive data on it can be even worse.

If you’ve recently lost your Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook or Sony Reader, here’s what you can do to protect your data, prevent further purchases and try to recover your device.

Amazon Kindle

If you lose your Kindle ereader, you’re mostly on your own. Amazon claims it is unable to locate the device via GPS, nor will the company remote-wipe the device to protect sensitive documents. If you want to retrieve your device, your best bet is checking with a nearby lost and found and/or filing a police report.

Although Amazon can’t locate your device or protect what’s on it, the company will de-register it to prevent someone else from making purchases on your account.

You can call 1-866-321-8851 if you live the U.S.; 1-206-266-0927 if you live in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, the U.K. or the Virgin Islands; or 1-206-266-0927 if you live in another country. You can also do this yourself by logging in at and selecting the “Deregister” button next to your device.

You’ll also want to cancel your subscriptions over at the Manage Your Kindle Subscriptions page.

To get your previous purchases on your new Kindle — should you decide to replace the earlier one — you’ll need to register your new Kindle in the “Manage Your Kindle” area. Then, you’ll need to navigate to the “Archived Items” menu on your new device to download your saved items.

Nook & Nook Color

If your Nook or Nook Color device goes missing, you’ll need to call customer service at 1-800-843-2665 or de-register your Nook at The company says that you are liable for all purchases made until you de-register the device. You should also change your login credentials immediately.

One of the benefits of a Nook ereader is that all side-loaded content (i.e. all of the potentially sensitive documents you uploaded to your Nook yourself) will be safe as soon as you de-register the device, a customer service representative told Mashable. However, you will not be able to retrieve those documents.

Should you decide to replace your ereader, you will be able to redownload all of your content once you sync your new device with your account.

Sony Reader

If your Sony ereader is lost or stolen, you are urged to contact customer support at 1-877-263-2863 between 8 a.m. and midnight EST from Monday through Friday, or between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You will need to have the ereader’s serial number to report its loss. There is no way to de-register your account online, a customer service representative told me.

As with the Kindle, there is no way to remote wipe your ereader or protect your personal documents. Sony recommends filing a police report to try to recover your device.

Should you decide to replace your ereader, you will be able to redownload your books and transfer them to a new device.

Image courtesy of Flickr, kodomut

More About: ereader, features, Kindle, nook, sony

Nokia to Announce Its Windows Phones Oct. 26

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 01:35 AM PDT

Nokia will show off the first Nokia Windows Phones to the world at the Nokia World event on Oct. 26-27 in London.

The announcement comes from the president of Microsoft‘s Windows Phone division Andy Lees.

This is in line with the previous announcement that the first WP devices from Nokia will hit Europe this year, but an official date has been locked down. Nokia also plans to show more than one device, since Lees used plural — Nokia “phones.”

He also said that Nokia’s devices will “have differentiating hardware and software,” meaning we’re not just going to see Windows Phone Mango in a slightly different shell. The original batch of Windows Phone 7 smartphones all had very similar hardware, per Microsoft’s specifications.

Nokia has recently cut a significant portion of its workforce, mostly as a result of poor smartphone sales. It simply cannot risk another failure with Windows Phone devices, and we eagerly await to see what they have in stock for this holiday season.

[via Engadget]

More About: AsiaD, microsoft, Nokia, windows phone, windows phone 7

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 09:20 PM PDT

If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists gather all our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles, How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions on the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Postings

Community Intern (Fall 2011) at Mashable in New York, NY.

Community Intern (Winter 2012) at Mashable in New York, NY.

Editorial Intern (Fall 2011) at Mashable in New York, NY.

Editorial Intern (Winter 2012) at Mashable in New York, NY.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in New York, NY.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Social Media Community Manager at Best Boy Entertainment in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

Digital Marketing Manager at Seattle Mariners in Seattle, WA.

Social Strategist at Shopbop in New York, NY.

Community Manager at The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters in Phoenix, AZ.

Client Services Manager – Online Hospitality Marketing at TIG Global in Chevy Chase, MD.

Social Media Maven at Underground Signs in NY.

Internet Marketing Specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD.

New Media Liaison at CBS Radio News in New York, MD.

Director of Account Services at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Solutions Architect at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Senior Developer, Client Deployment at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Product Development Manager at Unstuck in New York, NY.

Marketing Manager at Unstuck in San Francisco, CA.

Search Engine Optimization Manager at Experian Consumer Direct in Irvine, CA.

Social Media Coordinator at Mouth in New York, NY.

Digital manager at A Leader In The Beverage & Alcohol Industry in New York, NY.

Director of Social Media at Direct General in Nashville, TN.

Software Development Project Manager at TST Media in Minneapolis, MN.

System Administrator, Email Operations at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Release Manager at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Senior Editor at Dailymotion in New York, NY.

Social Media Manager / Project Manager at Guru Media Solutions in Los Angeles, CA.

Executive Vice President, Client Services at Intermundo Media in Boulder, CO.

Web Developer NYC at SankyNet LLC in New York, NY.

Social Media Community Manager/Coordinator at VH1 – MTV Networks in New York, NY.

Director of Digital Media at Vladimir Jones in Englewood, CA.

SEO Project Manager at VH1 – MTV Networks in New York, NY.

Digital Project Manager at Vladimir Jones in Englewood, CO.

Mobile Application Developer at Factory Design Labs in Denver, CO.

Vice President of Software Engineering at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Creative/Social Media Intern at GLOW Interactive in New York, NY.

Online Marketing Manager at Ready Set Rocket in New York, NY.

Ruby on Rails Engineer at TST Media in Minneapolis, MN.

Web Developer at American Humane Association in Washington, D.C.

Talent Acquisition Communications Representative at Northrop Grumman in El Segundo, CA.

Social Media & Emerging Technologies Strategist at The World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Email Data Analyst — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Director of Operations — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Senior Affiliate Manager — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Marketing Coordinator — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Sales Director — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Senior Account Executive — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Account Executive — Online Marketing at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Digital Content Manager at JuntoBox Films in Santa Monica, CA.

Mobile Art Director at Big Fish Games in Seattle, WA.

Mobile Media Specialist (SOJ11-0002) at WVU Research Corporation in Morgantown, WV.

Touchscreen Applications Developer at Scentsa in Carlsbad, CA.

Web Integrator/Developer at Dailymotion in New York, NY.

Vice President — Digital at Edelman PR in Atlanta, GA.

Business Development Director/Manager at FindTheBest in New York, NY.

Communications Officer/Coordinator at World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

More About: COMMUNICATIONS, design, jobs, List, Social Media

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The Economist Releases New App After iOS 5 Update Breaks First

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 09:09 PM PDT

What happens if you’re a publisher and you don’t comply with Apple’s in-app purchasing and subscription policies? Apple releases a software update, your app breaks, and then you have to release a new, compliant version of your app in a hurry.

At least that’s what appears to have happened to The Economist‘s app for iPhone and iPad when iOS 5 was released, PaidContent reports.

Instead of issuing a fix however, the UK-based weekly has released a brand-new — but essentially identical — app [iTunes link] in the App Store. A pop-up message in the first app prompts users to download the new app in the App Store.

Users won’t notice much difference between the old and new apps. As before, print and digital subscribers can enter their credentials to download issues, and non-subscribers can continue to purchase single issues or a subscription through the app. This time, however, purchases are handled through iTunes, and consequently subject to a 30% cut from Apple.

There is one inconvenient difference for subscribers, though: They’ll have to keep the old app to access issues before Aug. 27. A spokesperson said the company hopes to bring older issues to the new app “sometime soon.”

The Economist released a new app instead of updating the old one because “this would provide a better base for future developments," says Oscar Grut, managing director of the publication’s digital editions. Regarding in-app purchases, he says, "We decided that it was best to offer readers both routes to take out a subscription and let them decide which they prefer."

One thing we don’t understand: Why The Economist released an iOS 5-compatible app in the App Store, rather than the Newsstand, which would enable both better discovery and automatic downloads for subscribers. Grut says his team “felt it would be best to see it in action before making our minds up … which we will do very soon.”

More About: apple, Economist, iOS 5, ipad app

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Zurb Releases a Flexible Foundation for Developers and Designers

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 08:52 PM PDT

The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

Thanks to the success of projects such as HTML5 Boilerplate, companies big and small are increasingly giving back to the dev and design community by releasing pre-packaged toolkits and frameworks to make getting projects off the ground easier and less time consuming.

Back in August, Twitter released Bootstrap, its own front-end toolkit for rapidly developing web apps. Bootstrap is a remarkable toolkit, providing developers with access to a well-structured grid system, various layouts, styles for buttons and forms and more.

Twitter released Bootstrap on GitHub, and more than 8,000 users are currently “watching” the project and it has been forked more than 1,200 times.

Interaction design and strategy company ZURB — known for its web apps Notable and Chop — has decided to offer its own framework for web apps, the aptly named Foundation.

Foundation, now in version 2.0, includes a boilerplate, CSS, JavaScript and assorted plugins. What separates Foundation from other toolkits — like Bootstrap — is that it was designed from the ground up to be responsive and work on a cross-section of devices.

What’s In a Foundation

Foundation consists of a few different components to make building a website or web app less challenging. These include:

  • A semi-liquid mobile-scaling grid system
  • Pre-styled CSS3 buttons with options for sizes and colors
  • Pre-styled forms
  • Zurb’s jQuery plugins Orbit and Reveal for easy sliders and modal windows

Foundation in Action

ZURB is already using Foundation on a number of its projects — including its ZURBsoapbox. The company put together a set of case studies showing off how Foundation can be used to speed up the web development process.

Our favorite aspect of Foundation is the ability to hide or show elements based on the media query (screen resolution) of a website. This means that when viewing a page on the iPad or iPhone, a link to non-Flash MP3 audio player becomes visible.

Future Improvements

Like Bootstrap, ZURB is hoping to continue to add new features and additions to Foundation. Users can grab the project on Github and contribute their own feedback or fork it and use it the way they want.

We would love to see a base WordPress theme or framework created from Foundation.

What do you think of the trend of toolkits and quick-start frameworks that emphasized HTML5, CSS3 and mobile device support? Let us know in the comments.

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More About: css3, features, HTML5, web development series, zurb

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Can There Ever Really Be Privacy in the Cloud?

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 08:29 PM PDT

Fran Maier is the president and executive chair of TRUSTe, the leading online privacy solutions provider. She speaks widely on issues of online privacy and trust and is active in mentoring women in technology. She serves on a number of Internet and trust-related boards, including the Online Trust Alliance.

It's a great time to be a cloud consumer. Now you can access all of your digital information – when and wherever you want – across a variety of cloud compatible gadgets (iPad, Kindle, etc.). You can store your music collection in iCloud, you can share work and personal documents over, and you can do your expenses on Expensify — the list only goes on.

Despite its convenience, you must consider the cloud's privacy implications. Who owns your personal information once you've uploaded it? Does the cloud provider have any rights to your data once it's uploaded to the server?

The answer is that cloud privacy is still evolving.

Most consumer cloud services recognize that the user retains ownership of the data once it is uploaded.

Facebook's terms of service state: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”

Similarly, Google's Gmail Intellectual Property Notice states that: “Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content, including any text, data, information, images, photographs, music, sound, video, or other material, that you upload, transmit or store in your Gmail account. We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service.”

Of course, both Google and Facebook would retain some rights in these instances, but they have clearly stated their obligation to keep the user's uploaded data private and secure. However, the question remains how those privacy and security obligations should be defined — and under which international laws.

Such privacy boundaries have never been explored, which presents a topic of much debate amongst policymakers and regulators. We even lack a global standard for online privacy, let alone cloud privacy. Often, the inherent nature of cloud computing makes it difficult to determine whose laws apply, especially when data is uploaded in one jurisdiction and processed in another. However, the EU will announce new regulations for cloud service providers this fall – and will be the first jurisdiction to do so.

The U.S. still lacks comprehensive data privacy laws or cloud regulations. But recent enforcement actions by the FTC demonstrate that regulators have the consumer protection authority – even outside an overarching federal privacy law — to take action against companies that don't live up to their privacy terms of service. Lawsuits consider whether the cloud user has adequate notice of how the service was appropriating his data.

The Supreme Court has been addressing the cloud privacy issue on a case-by-case basis. In City of Ontario v. Quon (2010), justices decided that there is no expectation of privacy for an employee-provided mobile device connected to an employer's cloud service. This term, the Supreme Court will analyze the privacy issues surrounding GPS-surveillance by law enforcement in US v. Antoine Jones. The case raises interesting questions when applied to similar GPS technology found in consumer cloud-based services (Google Maps, Foursquare), and their appropriate privacy obligations.

The FTC and other global regulators are also looking closely at data portability, the ability of a user to easily transfer data from one cloud service to another. As consumers start storing more of their personal data online, they will also want to be able to move it around online more easily too. It's likely that in the future, data portability will be a must for consumer cloud providers. Some cloud providers are attempting to work toward the idea with, for example, the Open Auth 2.0 authentication scheme supported by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others.

In the meantime, what does this legal uncertainty mean for you and other cloud consumers? Should it inhibit us from enjoying cloud conveniences, like being able to store personal information and accessing it on a whim?

Definitely not. But it does mean we need to carefully select our cloud providers. Below are suggestions on how to navigate the consumer cloud while securing your private, personal information.

1. Think Before You Upload

Whenever you upload personal information to a remote server, note the privacy risk involved. Before you upload, assess whether you really want to store the information within a cloud service. Cloud storage is great for some applications – email, photos or entertainment; however, I don't advise it for storing confidential data – birth certificates, tax returns and other important documents.

2. Know Your Provider, Your Provider's Provider, and Their Policies

Before you decide to use a cloud service, examine its terms of service and privacy policy. Since most services are hosted by a cloud provider (e.g. Netflix is hosted by Amazon), it also makes sense to take a look at the privacy policy and terms of service of that secondary platform. The provider's policy should be able to answer the following.

  • Who owns data once it's uploaded to the service?
  • What rights does the cloud provider have over the data once it is uploaded?
  • Whose laws govern the contract? You may also wish to determine your consumer protection rights, which differ from state to state.
  • Are there any data portability rights (i.e. how easy is it to move your data from one service to another)?
  • What happens if you decide to terminate the service? Does the cloud provider retain your data and, if so, for how long?
  • Will the service deactivate your account or delete your data after a certain period of account inactivity?
  • Does the cloud provider allow relatives or designated individuals to request access to the data or to enable cancellation of the account in the event you become incapacitated or unable to access your account?
  • Does the provider have an independent third-party certification of their privacy and security practices to ensure that they adhere to their stated privacy notices and policies? Look for trust indicators like third-party certification seals when considering whether to use a cloud service provider.

3. Back It Up

Once you've decided on a cloud provider, always back up your personal data before you upload. This is especially true for those nostalgic files: family photos, home movies, etc.

4. Keep It Confidential

It's a good idea to treat your cloud services account like you would your email account. User names and passwords should be kept confidential and changed often. Don't share these passwords with anyone unless necessary.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, thesuperph, Flickr, Frederic Poirot

More About: cloud computing, contributor, features, privacy, Tech

Twitter Buzz Builds for the Occupy Wall Street Movement [CHARTS]

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 08:19 PM PDT

Tweets about the Occupy Wall Street movement are building to a fever pitch. Reaching their peak on Oct. 6, there’s still upward momentum, and new research from NM Incite reveals new findings about how the protest movement is playing out in social media.

By studying and analyzing tweets that used that ubiquitous #OccupyWallStreet hashtag, NM Incite discovered that while the Twitter buzz remained relatively steady and peaked on the weekends throughout September, the biggest jump in tweets began Oct. 1 and peaked on Thursday, Oct. 6, when the five-day surge had 13,133 tweets posted about the protests on that day.

What happened on Oct. 1? People were tweeting about the arrest of more than 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge:

As you can see in the graph below, after those arrests, tweets skyrocketed. Also in this gallery, NM Incite shows the reasons and types of tweets people were posting, as well as their geographical origin:

Building Buzz

In addition to that big jump between Oct. 1 and Oct. 6, Twitter buzz spiked again on Oct. 10 after Republican candidate Buddy Roemer and Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand announced their support of the protests.

Click here to view this gallery.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, dubbed the “American Fall,” originated when AdBusters asked if the U.S. was ready to begin a Tahrir moment Sept. 17, protesting “Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.” And thus, the hashtag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET was born July 13.

Here are examples of the tweets associated with the protest movement:


Click here to view this gallery.

Images courtesy NM Incite and Think Progress

More About: Occupy Wall Street, ows, Twitter

Kyoo Turns Social Media Buzz Into 24-Hour News Channels

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 08:05 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: Kyoo

Quick Pitch: Kyoo is a social media aggregator that intelligently finds, indexes and displays social content surrounding a topic on one dashboard.

Genius Idea: Social media-sourced channels for keeping up with hot topics.

Information travels faster than ever thanks to always-on social media services and an ever-expanding online community of accidental and intentional citizen journalists who document and react to breaking news stories and events. Kyoo aggregates it all to create all-in-one dashboards, called “kyoo channels,” around trending topics.

Kyoo is structured a bit like a newspaper. It features hot topics bubbling up in U.S. News, World News, Business, Science & Tech, Entertainment, Politics, Sports, What’s Viral and Lifestyle sections. You can browse sections or search for topics of interest.

Each topic page is an amalgamation of topic-related tweets, public Facebook status updates, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Delicious bookmarks, and top news stories from Digg and Reddit. It reminds us of the social media search engines of yore, albeit with a slick interface designed for consumption.

You can follow the real time buzz in the left-most column, keep an eye on the photos and videos flooding in via the center section, drill down into a social heat map to see where the buzz is coming from and look at the latest posts associated with the trends-within-a-trend.

With a broad spectrum of channels, Kyoo provides a real-time, contextual glimpse at what’s happening in the world based on the updates pouring in from social media sites, making it akin to a crowdsourced 24-hour news network.

Kyoo is free to use for consumers, though it does offer a separate business product for companies that starts at $349 per month. The business versions allows organizations to aggregate and display content on their own sites, with moderation tools, in a similar fashion.

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, Social Media, spark-of-genius

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Bugs Power a Smartphone With Their Circus Tricks [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 07:13 PM PDT

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

Internet users have been bitten by the viral video bug. In “The Bug Circus Generator” ad from telecommunications company Qualcomm, creepy crawlers inhabit a miniature circus and power a smartphone with their limbs.

The 89-second commercial for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform features a praying mantis on a bike, tarantula on a treadmill, scorpion on a rotating wheel as well as Madagascar cockroaches and a death feigning beetle on the merry-go-round and in a cannon. At one point, the clip flashes, “100% Bug Powered Smartphone.”

Seeing bugs in an ad for Snapdragon — a family of mobile system-on-chips — may seem odd at first glance, but their inclusion is quite fitting because Snapdragon’s CPU is called Scorpion.

SEE ALSO: 10 Chic Charging Stations [PICS] | 20 Most-Shared Ads This Month [VIDEOS]

Social media agency Denizen Company created “Bug Circus” for Qualcomm, which wanted to tout its Snapdragon processors to mainstream consumers and grow its fan bases on Facebook and YouTube.

“Denizen Company hired a professional bug wrangler/entomologist who specializes in bug film making and has his own bug farm,” Qualcomm’s senior director of global communications Liya Sharif told Mashable. “Denizen Company also had a representative from the American Humane Society onsite to ensure the care of the insects.”

The video has already attracted more than 600,000 pageviews on YouTube in just a few days.

BONUS: 9 Viral Videos That Are Actually Advertising

Evan Longoria's Crazy Bare Hand Catch (Gillette)

Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria gallantly saves a female reporter from being impaled by a baseball with a hard-to-believe barehanded catch.

Why this is suspect:

1. The reporter has no logo on her microphone.

2. fMrSprts12, the YouTube entity that uploaded the video, has previously only uploaded videos related to Gillette.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: qualcomm, smartphones, viral videos, viral-video-of-the-day, YouTube

Lytro: A Closer Look at the First Focus-Free Camera [PICS]

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 06:44 PM PDT

For those who want to get their hands on a camera that shoots first and focuses later, the countdown has begun. Silicon Valley startup Lytro unveiled its groundbreaking camera Wednesday at a not-too-bad price point of $399. You can order them now on the Lytro website for delivery in early 2012 — first-come, first-served.

SEE ALSO: Lytro Interactive Gallery Lets You Try the Magic Yourself

While it is revolutionary technology (see the amazing multi-focus examples in the link above), and Lytro has done its best to make the device consumer-friendly (with just two buttons and a zoom slider) and eminently social (with one-button sharing to Facebook), there are still plenty of questions to be answered. How will the photos look when consumers, not professional photographers, get their hands on them? How many will they sell? What will the magnetic lens cap look like? Will the company sell a case so you can strap it onto your hand, video-camera style? If not, will that rubberized silicone on the end suffice to keep it from slipping out of your hands? Does the battery really last two weeks? Why have a power button when the shutter button turns the camera on anyway?

While you’re pondering those questions, and thinking about whether you will pre-order and which of the three color choices you prefer, check out our gallery for more details from Wednesday’s launch.

A Lytro in the hand ...

Here's the $399 electric blue model, showing the touchscreen where you see your pictures.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: digital cameras, Lytro, photo sharing

Microsoft Bid for Yahoo Building Momentum [REPORT]

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 05:50 PM PDT

Microsoft’s latest attempt to purchase Yahoo is gaining momentum again. According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is working with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm, to put together a bid to purchase Yahoo.

The proposed deal includes Microsoft paying “several billion dollars,” with Silver Lake and the CPP Investment Board supplying the rest of the equity, all of which is being arranged by unnamed banks.

This is not the only group of investors who are considering a bid for the purchase of Yahoo, according to The Wall Street Journal, which says there are “at least nine private equity firms … studying a potential buyout.”

This latest information comes just a couple of weeks after the news broke that Microsoft might seek a partner for a Yahoo bid. Microsoft appears to want some control over Yahoo’s future, but might be gun shy to go it alone due to its spurned offer for Yahoo in January 2008.

In that deal, Microsoft submitted an unsolicited $44.6 billion bid (equal to $31 per share then) for Yahoo, but the prospective purchase was fended off by Yahoo management, and resulted in the two companies agreeing to a search partnership and the ouster of then-CEO Jerry Yang.

That deal didn’t work out well for Yahoo, either, whose stock price plunged from $29 just before it had refused Microsoft’s offer, down to $15 per share by this September. However, when talks heated up again in early October of this year, Yahoo’s stock started inching upward.

Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, some private equity firms are saying the deal could be done for between $16 and $18 per share. Yahoo stock closed today at $15.94 per share.

We’ve contacted Microsoft and Yahoo for comment, and will update this post when we get a response.

More About: buyout, microsoft, Silverlake Partners, Yahoo

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Steve Jobs Biographer to Appear on “60 Minutes”

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 03:47 PM PDT

Steve Jobs’s biographer Walter Isaacson will be interviewed on Sunday night’s episode of 60 Minutes.

The interview will air on Oct. 23, the night before Isaacson’s Steve Jobs: A Biography hits bookshelves. Isaacson was given unprecedented access to Jobs and those who knew him. Jobs, who died earlier this month, reportedly told Isaacson that “nothing is off limits” when it came to chronicling his life.

In a special essay for Time subscribers, Isaacson shed some light on why the notoriously private Jobs was finally willing to open up about his life. “I wanted my kids to know me,” Jobs reportedly told Isaacson.

CBS announced the interview segment on its Facebook page. We expect the clip will be available in the official 60 Minutes iPad app shortly after it airs on TV.

"You inspired me"

Dear Steve,

You inspired me to care deeply about the things I make, people I spend my time with, and choices I make every day. I learned about thinking different and embracing it. Your innovations have changed me and our world. I hope we can continue your legacy by continuing to work in your likeness by being overwhelmingly passionate about what we do and caring about the people around us.

Thank you.

- Nick

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: 60 minutes, apple, steve jobs, Walter Isaacson

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Google+ to Support Google Apps in Next Few Days

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:57 PM PDT

Google has announced that Google+ will support Google Apps accounts within the next few days.

Google SVP of social Vic Gundotra said Google Apps support was coming “imminently” during a Q&A at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Gundotra made it clear that “imminently” meant within the next few days.

The reason Google didn’t launch Google Apps support during the original release of Google+ was because the company thought “it would have more time.” Google+ beat their expectations, though, and has forced them to scramble on what is Google+’s most-requested features.

Google also announced that Google+ will soon support pseudonyms, though nobody should expect that to roll out in the next few days.

More About: Google, Web 2.0 Summit

Google+ Users Have Posted 3.4 Billion Photos

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:44 PM PDT

The 40 million or more users of Google+ have uploaded 3.4 billion photographs to the service in the last 100 days, the company has revealed.

Vic Gundotra, Google’s SVP of social, offered the number on stage at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco Wednesday. He was responding to a question about engagement on Google+ — whether there were any statistics that could prove people were actually using that service. “Someone’s uploading those photos,” Gundotra said.

That number pales in comparison with Facebook, of course. As we revealed earlier this year, Facebook has roughly 100 billion photos in its archives, with 6 billion photos being added every month. But Google+ users now have more cause to hope their service will one day rival the world’s largest social network.

More About: Google, Google+, photo sharing, Social Media

Google+ to Support Pseudonyms

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:41 PM PDT

Google+ will soon support pseudonyms and other forms of identity, says a Google executive.

During a conversation at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, SVP of Social Vic Gundotra revealed that Google will eventually support other forms of identity. While Google started with only allowing users to sign up if they used their real names, it will be adding features that will “support other forms of identity” in the next few months.

The revelation comes a few months after controversy erupted when Google suspended users utilizing pseudonyms and nicknames instead of their real names. At the time, Google made minor changes in response to criticism, but stood firm on its decision to suspend users that didn’t use their real names.

Apparently the issue is technology, resources and the atmosphere the company wanted to set with Google+. The company wanted to create a community focused on real names, but now it realizes that some people have legitimate reasons to use pseudonyms.

Gundotra didn’t go further into how Google+ will support pseudonyms.

More About: Google, Pseudonyms

Google’s Sergey Brin: “I’m Not a Very Social Person Myself”

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:29 PM PDT

Google cofounder Sergey Brin says that he’s never been able to get into social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“I’m not a very social person myself,” Brin told the audience at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He explained that he’s tried other social networking sites because he feels that it’s his job, but never found any of them compelling until Google+.

Google+, the search giant’s social network, launched in June. The company recently announced Google+ has more than 40 million users, something Google SVP of social Vic Gundotra said genuinely surprised the team. Gundotra noted that Brin was “intimately involved” in the design of the product and of the team.

As for why Brin finds Google+ more compelling than Facebook, Twitter and other social networks: He says that nobody got sharing right. He believes that Circles, Google+’s system for selectively sharing content with different groups of people, has made sharing much more useful.

When asked about why the company decided not to integrate Facebook Connect into Google+, Gundotra and Brin simply said that there would have been “problems” with it.

More About: Google, Vic Gundotra, Web 2.0 Summit

Apple Stores Close in Memory of Steve Jobs

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:23 PM PDT

The 24-hour Apple Store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue was closed Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. — and so was every other Apple Store across the U.S. to remember Steve Jobs.

The stores were closed for an employee-only memorial for the Apple co-founder and former CEO. After Jobs passed away on Oct. 5, mourners and dedicated Apple fans created memorials outside Apple stores with letters, candles and apples in memory of the creative genius.

As employees of the Fifth Avenue store rushed through the heavy rain to dedicate their time to Steve Jobs’s life and innovations, customers stood outside in angst faced by two security guards and a sign that read, “The Apple Store is temporarily closed. We will reopen at 3 p.m.”

“I don’t know why they’re closed,” said Junior Nwofor, who drove from Canarsie, Brooklyn, to the flagship Apple Store to get his iPhone 4 repaired. “I’m just fed up because the power button doesn’t work on my phone and I’m aggravated because I need to get this fixed.”

Customers were frustrated and disappointed after the security guards told them the store was closed without giving an explanation. Also, the glass cube building — which is covered for construction — made it impossible for the customers and passersby to see inside the store.

SEE ALSO: Mourners Create Impromptu Memorials for Steve Jobs at Apple Stores [PICS]

Mildred Benton traveled from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the store to buy a wireless router, only to find out that it was closed.

“I called the store this morning to ask about the router and they didn’t say anything about being closed,” said Benton. “I figured out that they were closed for Steve Jobs, but they should have told us. People pay to come down here and it is a very simple thing to just let people know that the store will be closed.”

After hovering under the Apple Store to hide from the pelting rain, Benton decided to leave and search for a Best Buy store to buy her wireless router.

Although Apple stores left customers disappointed Wednesday, Apple fans have spent the past two weeks remembering the Apple innovator.

Apple Store W 14th, NYC

Photo by Jehangir Irani

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, steve jobs

5 Ways Apps Make Salesforce Even More Valuable

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 02:17 PM PDT

Gaurav Dhillon is the CEO of SnapLogic, makers of cloud and on-premise integration products. Gaurav is the former CEO of Informatica.

Companies everywhere have jumped on the bandwagon, reaping the benefits of this CRM solution. But why stop there?

Even with all of Salesforce's new social enterprise product launches and acquisitions (Assistly, Dimdim, and Radian6), its applications can't support everything needed to run a well-oiled business. Most likely, you have important but underutilized customer or sales-related data living outside Salesforce – in your financial or file sharing applications, or even in a partner's systems. And you probably wish you could gather deeper business intelligence and analytics than what's delivered through Salesforce's standard reports.

Many companies are getting more out of Salesforce by connecting it with useful applications that may or may not be supported in the Salesforce AppExchange. Read on for the top five business app categories that fill Salesforce's gaps, and can further enhance the work of your enterprise sales team.

1. Financial Systems

Gone are the days of running an invoice over to accounting. Business processes like these are now automated, but not usually in Salesforce. Companies that connect their QuickBooks, SAP or FinancialForce systems directly to Salesforce will get a more complete view of each customer and product line. Once your sales team can track when customers have paid invoices or when products have shipped, they can more effectively service their accounts.

2. Vertical Applications

No matter what industry you're in, you've probably come across some valuable niche apps that meet the more unique needs of your business environment. In the media industry for example, advertising tracking, optimization and fulfillment systems like Operative are mission critical. For example, Pandora was able to save tons of billing and sales support time by pushing more advertising details from Operative into Salesforce, such as actual sales delivery, third-party delivery data, processed vs. unprocessed ad details, products, discounts, proposed vs. actual clicks and actual invoice data.

If you’re a doing a lot of sales online, you may want to sync your ecommerce sales system with Salesforce. Or, you may have other important software specific to running your association, manufacturing operations, insurance business, etc., which you could also integrate for increased productivity.

3. File Sharing and Storage

Many companies are asking their suppliers and partners to collaborate on joint business processes, like invoice or contract tracking. While these processes are most efficient when they're synced with your Salesforce application, there are limitations to sharing and storing files in For instance, your partners and organization members probably don't have Salesforce accounts. Your extended sales teams can realize greatly improved collaboration by connecting to outside file sharing and storage applications, like or DocuSign.

4. Data Quality and Enrichment

Salesforce's handy features won't be useful at all if your company's data is wrong or outdated. Therefore, leverage a data quality and enrichment solution to make sure your customer data is not only accurate, but enhanced beyond what people can easily track on their own. Tools like or Trillium can help you easily cleanse and enrich customer account data. You can even add things like geocodes or Dun & Bradstreet data for each company to make sure customers are assigned to the appropriate account services teams.

5. Business Intelligence

Since Salesforce's reporting options are somewhat limited, every company can benefit from connecting it to a fully-featured business intelligence solution like Birst. By integrating Salesforce with a business intelligence solution that also analyzes key data from any finance, operations, marketing, social media, supply chain or other business application, you can unlock new opportunities for insight. For example, a business intelligence tool could help you look beyond sales data in isolation by merging social and web data from Twitter, Facebook and Google Analytics with your operational systems. That way, you'll be able to visualize social media sentiment against actual sales data from

Of course, there are many other excellent examples of applications that complement Salesforce and help enterprise sales teams work in new and interesting ways. The key to finding these opportunities is to start by developing a clear picture of all the data assets that exist across your company and its partners, suppliers and the web at large. When you examine everything you have to work with, you'll find ways to make each tool in your application portfolio more useful with comprehensive, trusted and timely data.

More About: apps, Business, cloud computing, contributor, features, Salesforce, web apps

Google Expands Mobile Advertising Formats

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 01:57 PM PDT

Google, which just announced it is on a $2.5 billion run rate for mobile advertising compared to $1 billion a year ago, has introduced new mobile ad formats to maintain that momentum.

The new ad formats include search ads in mobile apps, a “click to download” option for apps and mobile app extensions. Custom search ads would run within apps that involve searching. For example, a user might go to Yelp to find a restaurant and be served an ad for a local establishment. Google rep Aaron Stein, however, says that no app partners have been announced yet. (The image below is a mock-up with a fake app.)

The “click to download” option would let users click through to an iTunes or Android Market link to download a mobile ad. For instance, an ad for Angry Birds would take you directly to a link where you could get the app.

Google’s mobile app extensions would direct you to a mobile app that’s already installed on your phone. The most likely use of that app would be for shopping. A user searching for a scarf might be directed to an L.L. Bean catalog app they had already installed on their phone or tablet.

More About: Advertising, Google, Mobile

Siri Lets You Make Calls on Passcode-Locked iPhone 4S

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 01:38 PM PDT

locked phone calls

Security firm Sophos discovered and Mashable has confirmed that you can make calls (and more) with the voice activation service Siri, even when the Apple iPhone 4S is locked.

It could be an obvious security misstep for the Cupertino tech giant, or it’s in fact an intended feature. In any case, this news will likely do little to slow the momentum of the iPhone 4S, which sold 4 million units in its first weekend available.

If you have an iPhone 4S, testing the security glitch feature is easy. Set up a passcode, which you’ll find under Settings/General/Passcode Lock. Enter your new passcode (twice) and then lock your iPhone 4S by pressing the power button once.

Normally, to access your phone you would hit the home or power button, swipe the unlock arrow and then enter your four-digit passcode. In this case, tap the home button once, then hold it down to activate Siri. Alternately, you can simply hold down the home button and Siri will come to life asking “What can I help you with?”

Simply say “Call [Contact]“. Siri will immediately access the phone’s contact database and present you with dialing options. We dialed a number and completed a call with no issue. Now, it’s important to note you can receive calls on both the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S without unlocking the phone, so at least half this functionality is intended. On the other hand, this means anyone who finds your phone can access your contacts and perhaps look up phone numbers of your friends, family and business associates.

Siri will perform a variety of functions without unlocking the phone, including searching for local businesses, and searching for and playing music on your phone. She won’t, however, search the web. When we tried to perform a web search, Siri told us, “I can’t search the web while your phone is locked. You’ll need to unlock it first.”

We have reached out to Apple by phone and email and will update this story with the company’s comments.

Update: Eagle-eyed Mashable commenter Drew Croley pointed out a setting under Settings/General/Passcode lock that will let you override the iPhone 4S’s default settings. There’s a toggle in there that says “Allow access to Siri when locked with a passcode.” Switch this to “off” and Siri will no longer allow calls or any Siri interaction when the phone is locked. The only suggestion we might have for Apple is to have this as the default setting. Thanks again to Drew for the info.

Bonus: iPhone 4S Key Features

iPhone 4S

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, iPhone 4S, siri

Facebook Messenger App Arrives on BlackBerry, Now Shows When Friends Are Typing

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 01:21 PM PDT

Facebook Messenger, the social network’s dedicated mobile application for member-to-member messaging, texts, and picture or location exchanges, has been upgraded with new features.

The application, already available on iPhone and Android, has also arrived on BlackBerry.

Facebook Messenger now shows application users on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry which of their friends are online or available via mobile, and makes it easier to send messages to the folks they communicate with most frequently.

Better still, the updated application now shows when a user’s Facebook buddies are typing, an experience that emulates BBM, iMessage and Facebook’s own web messaging system.

The Android Facebook Messenger app also now includes support for 22 additional languages, and the iPhone app has added 12 new languages.

The application, based around group messaging app Beluga, a startup Facebook acquired earlier this year, proved to be an early hit with iPhone users. With the update, the social network is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to real-time communication across multiple platforms, and its app now better rivals Apple’s and BlackBerry’s single platform messaging systems.

More About: Facebook, Facebook Messenger

Lytro Launches: Amazing Focus-Free Camera Will Cost $399

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 01:13 PM PDT

Remember Lytro, the camera that couldn’t care less about focus? The one that captures all the information in its light field, so you can play with the focus after the fact?

Well, it’s no longer just a nice idea. Lytro (the company) just started taking pre-orders for Lytro (the camera) on its website. You won’t be able to get one until early 2012, but you can order one now for $399 (and $499 for a more advanced version).

In design, Lytro takes more than a couple of cues from Apple. It’s supremely simple, with just two buttons and a slider for zooming. Plus, it’s available in a variety of colors. Hit the shutter button and it takes a picture instantly — no need to wait for it to focus.

The Lytro is long, thin and small, like a viewfinder with a rubberized end (and nothing at all like a regular camera). Its “electric blue” and “graphite” models will have 8 GB of storage on board, which the company says is enough for 350 light-field pictures. For $100 more, you get 16 GB, with room for 750 pictures and a “fire red” design. (See the different colors below).

The battery is a selling point, too. You should be able to fill up the entire camera with pictures on a single charge. That translates to about two weeks of battery time, with regular usage.

In other words, you should be able to throw it into your bag and go on vacation without worrying about power — which is exactly what Lytro employees have been doing, Mashable has learned.

SEE MORE: Lytro Camera Interactive Gallery Lets You Try The Magic Yourself [PICS]

The camera and its software are designed for a social media world. Plug it in via USB and you get an iPhoto-like interface on your screen, with a single button that lets you share the photos you’ve selected on Facebook or other networks. There your friends will see an embedded image with all the focus information built in. Click around the picture to refocus it where ever you want.

This is where the camera’s shortcomings are evident, however. That embeddable photo is as large as you’ll ever see the picture — a pro camera this ain’t. But for the early-adopter, Instagram-loving crowd, Lytro could be a dream come true.

A Lytro in the hand ...

Here's the $399 electric blue model, showing the touchscreen where you see your pictures.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: cameras, Lytro, photography Users Can Soon Put Ads on Their Blogs

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 01:03 PM PDT

Automattic, the company behind, and Federated Media have teamed up to give WordPress’s millions of users the ability to place ads on their blogs.

The partnership, which the two companies announced at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, will allow brands and advertisers to target participating site owners in order to reach the audiences that are relevant to them.

Federated Media CEO Deanna Brown called it “relevance at scale,” because advertisers will be able to target across thousands (or potentially millions) of WordPress-powered websites.

“We’re bringing contextual advertising to highly desirable audiences,” Brown said on stage. It’s unclear how Automattic and Federated Media will split the revenue with users.

WordPress also revealed that it now powers 15% of all websites on the Internet, an increase of 6% since last year. Twenty-two percent of all new website registrations are WordPress installs, Automattic CEO Toni Schneider announced.

More About: federated media,

Make Your Voice Heard: Remember to Nominate for the Mashable Awards

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 12:54 PM PDT

The 2011 Mashable Awards, presented by Buddy Media, are open for nominations. Who will you nominate?

This year’s awards program is our fifth annual celebration of the best that the social web has to offer. Just like in the past, we’re opening the process up to our amazing readers. There are 28 categories, representing four of Mashable‘s core coverage areas: Social Media, Tech, Business, and Entertainment. You can nominate anyone you want for any and all of the categories.

In order to get started, all you’ll need is a Facebook or Twitter account. Got that? Then head over to the awards page and sign in with either one, and you’re ready to begin nominating. You are permitted to nominate once per category per day, meaning you can place 28 nominations every day until the nomination period ends at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on Friday, Nov. 18.

Once nominations close, Mashable editors will select seven finalists for each category from the submissions with the most nominations. The more you nominate your favorite startup, gadget, or personality, the better the chances of your nomination being chosen.

Finalists will be announced Monday, Nov. 21, at which point voting will open to the public.

How To Nominate

Nominating your favorite digital startups, companies and personalities for a Mashable Award is easy. As in years past, Mashable has created a unique and social voting platform for the Mashable Awards. Submitting your nomination requires four easy steps:

Step 1


Click here to view this gallery.

Remember, you may nominate once per day in each category.

The Categories

Social Media

  • Best Social Network
  • Up-and-Coming Social Media Service
  • Must-Follow Actor or Actress on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Musician or Band on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Athlete on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Media Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Business Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Non-Profit on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Politician on Social Media


  • Best Smartphone
  • Best Mobile Game
  • Most Useful Mobile App
  • Most Innovative Mobile App
  • Most Useful Tablet-Based App
  • Best New Gadget


  • Viral Campaign of the Year
  • Most Innovative Use of Social Media for Marketing
  • Must-Follow Brand on Social Media
  • Best Branded Mobile App
  • Best Social Good Cause Campaign
  • Most Digital Company of the Year
  • Breakout Startup of the Year


  • Game of the Year
  • Viral Video of the Year
  • Best Music Service or App
  • Best Online Video Streaming Service or App
  • Most Social TV Show
  • Best Social Movie Campaign

The Winners

Award winners will be announced on Mashable on Monday, Dec. 19. Following the competition, we’ll celebrate our winners at MashBash CES on Jan. 11, 2012, at the 2012 International CES convention at 1OAK, the hot new nightclub at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

The 2011 Mashable Awards Are Presented by Buddy Media

Buddy Media is the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world’s top ten global advertisers, empowering them to build and maintain relationships with their consumers in a connections-based world. The Buddy Media social marketing suite helps brands build powerful connections globally with its scalable, secure architecture and data-driven customer insights from initial point of contact through point of purchase.

More About: announcements, mashable, mashable awards, Social Media

For more Social Media coverage:

MC Hammer Announces His Own “Deep Search” Engine

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 12:50 PM PDT

MC Hammer has announced WireDoo, a new search engine focused on “deep search” and relational topics.

Most search engines are built on links and keywords, explained Hammer at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Google and other search engines aren’t as strong at connecting keywords to related topics — something he called relationship search.

Hammer explained a search for a car is not just about the car, but about the model, the mileage, the specs and even the zipcode (you likely want to buy from a local dealer). A search for a home is related to the surrounding community, schools, neighborhood condition and other related concerns.

“It’s about relationships beyond just the keywords,” Hammer said on stage.

To address this issue, Hammer launched WireDoo, with the tagline is “Search once and see what’s related.” The rapper and entrepreneur didn’t reveal much more about the search engine, beyond that it can bring up related topics to a search query in multiple verticals, including finance.

It’s important to note that Google Search does take into account keyword relationships, but Hammer believes that the search engine that his team has built — a project more than two years in the making — will prove to be more useful due to its focus on relational search.

WireDoo is currently in pre-beta, but we’re interested to see what Hammer and his team are going to do. Taking on Google on its home turf is almost an insane proposition, though, so it will take some secret sauce nobody else has ever found to take on the king of search.

More About: mc hammer, Web 2.0 Summit

For more Startups coverage:

App Makes Checking In With Parents a Game

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 12:29 PM PDT


Parents worried about their children’s whereabouts no longer need to resort to tracking them like FedEx packages. A new alternative to smartphone monitoring, launching Wednesday, turns voluntarily staying in touch with parents into a game.

“Our view is that what makes kids safer is communication and being close to their folks,” says the new iPhone app’s co-creator Matthew Bromberg, “And I don’t want to know where my kid is on the map every single moment. I just want to know what’s going on.”

Here’s how the app, ImOK, works: Parents sign up for an account and send an activation code to other members of their families, who can then sign into the private network on their own phones. Adolescents check-in to the app in exchange for points. Plotting themselves on a map gives them five points. Adding more information, such as a photo, a message or the names of friends to a checkin gets them more points.

What they receive in return for their points is up to the parents — and the basis of the app’s future business model.

Adolescents can suggest rewards from a “wishlist” section of the app. Parents either approve these ideas or add their own. Bromberg says the most popular rewards used in the beta version were allowance, a special activity or additional phone time and text messages. He rewards his own two children with allowance and the occasional iTunes purchase or video game.

“All of these things would hit my credit card anyway, frankly,” he says, “but its fun to have them earn out in a way that isn’t too stressful or challenging.”

His hope is that more parents will, as he has, shift the money they give their kids in the form of allowance to spending within the ImOK app. According to a study by EPM Communications, the average U.S. 8 to 14-year-old receives about $2,000 in spending money a year from his or her parents — which makes allowance a $43 billion opportunity annually.

ImOK’s business plan taps into this opportunity with an in-app store for redeeming wishlists or even a branded ImOK spending card that can be redeemed at other outlets.

“My belief is that there's a really interesting use case here [surrounding] stuff that goes on in just your family,” Bromberg says. “There’s so much transfer of money and information and back-and-forth, and it’s a space that I don’t see that anybody has really owned.”

More About: Children, ImOK, iphone app, safety

For more Business coverage:

Steve Jobs Was Making Product Plans Until the End [REPORT]

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 12:02 PM PDT

jobs image

A recent report says Steve Jobs was working on “one more thing,” even up to the day before he passed away.

The information comes by way of a conversation between Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank Capital which distributes the iPhone in Japan. The meeting, as told to PC Magazine, was interrupted when Cook received a call from his “boss.”

“That was the day of the announcement of the iPhone 4S. He said that Steve is calling me because he wants to talk about their next product. And the next day, he died,” Son said.

Son later said he believed Jobs resisted death in order to witness the announcement of the iPhone 4S, Apple’s newest product. While this theory has certainly cropped up, it doesn’t hold much medical weight.

More importantly, the news about Jobs’s call suggests the Apple icon was working on any number of new products. Tech companies need to think far in the future with their product designs, so it’s possible the next line of Apple products will be built with some of Jobs’ input and insight.

Jobs was known to work long hours even in the best of health. It appears that commitment and drive lasted until the very end.

Image courtesy of Flickr, noppyfoto1

More About: apple, Gadgets, steve jobs, Tech

Microsoft Search Idea Could Let You Search Like Miley

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 11:46 AM PDT

Could search results be customized based on persona? If a recently uncovered Microsoft patent moves forward, they could.

Geekwire discovered a patent application filed by Microsoft that deals with the concept of personalizing search results based on preferences, personality traits and even celebrities.

In its filing, introduces the idea that users could used pre-selected search models or “personae.” These personas could be generic or tailored to fit specific traits and features, or could even be modeled after celebrities.

Microsoft uses celebrities as the basis for some of its examples in its patent application. Users could search using a pre-populated persona for “Miley Cyrus” or “Megan Fox” when searching for terms like “evening dress” and get back results matching the style preferences from these figures. This data could be culled from photographs of these stars, adjusting for style, fit, designer and color.

Beyond the celebrity angle, Microsoft could use preferences and personality traits from users or their friends to better optimize results. Bing already uses Facebook data to customize search results, but the patent application goes much deeper.

In a perfect world, users’ own preferences and traits could be matched with those of others like them.

Would you be interested in an easier way to search “in the style of” another person or celebrity? Let us know.

[via Neowin]

More About: bing, celebrities, microsoft, patents, Search

LinkedIn Launches “Classmates” for Alumni Networking

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 11:32 AM PDT

LinkedIn has launched Classmates, a professional networking tool that gives college graduates a high-level look at where their fellow alumni work and live, and what they do.

Classmates is designed to help LinkedIn users make and renew professional connections based on their college and university affiliations.

The interactive graphs atop Classmates provide a top-level view of what your fellow alumni are up to. You can click on any of the blue bars to drill down and get a more intimate look at a particular subsection of an alumni group.

Clicking on a city, for instance, will show you a filtered breakdown of the institutions and career paths of alumni living in that location. It could come in handy if you’re in search of a connection with a specific job function at a particular company in your neighborhood.

You can use Classmates to show alumni in your graduating class, or choose to expand and narrow results by changing the “Attended” dates in the upper right-hand corner. You can also search alumni profiles, glimpse shared connections and groups, check out profile summaries and invite an alumnus to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Altogether, Classmates adroitly demonstrates the power and potential of LinkedIn’s massive 120 million member base.

Image courtesy of Flickr, angad84

More About: linkedin, social networking

How to Communicate With Users When Your App or Site Crashes

Posted: 19 Oct 2011 11:27 AM PDT

The Mobile App Trends Series is supported by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

From Facebook to Google to BlackBerry to that little startup you haven't heard of (yet), everyone experiences downtime, crashes, bugs and other issues from time to time.

It’s how you handle downtime that counts.

There are two fronts in the battle of the bugs — in-app communication and community management. Here’s a look at both sides, with some best practices and examples.

In-App Communication

Users love their apps. When an app faces a problem, many users are eager to do their part to help get things up and running again. That's why it's key to make it as easy as possible for those users to get in touch.

In-App Help Section

Every app should have an "about" or "help" section with instructions for getting in touch. It can be a form for users to fill out or something as simple as listing a support email address. You can't go wrong setting up

App Store Notes

You should list your support email address or support URL in your app store listing and encourage user feedback. This also provides users an alternative to the ratings section where they can vent their complaints.

In-App Alerts

Though it takes a bit of work to build into an app, there's no better way to notify your users than with an alert that pops up inside the app. It's also a great way to notify users of phone or carrier settings that hinder the app's functionality (as opposed to a bug). For example, Foursquare built a proprietary in-app alert system that notifies users to server downtime, and reminds them when the app isn't working because their phone lacks a signal or because GPS permissions have been disabled.

Community Management

In-app communication channels are key, but they tend to be one-way and a bit unfulfilling for users. Your most dedicated fans want a full explanation and accounting of downtime and bugs. Your power users want to have a conversation, not just and alert.

Be Easy to Find

Make the "support" button easy to find on your website. Be sure to include links to any other platforms you're offering support on, like Twitter, your blog, etc.

Nurture Your Power Users

Your super users — the ones who use your app all the time and maybe even rely on it — are your eyes and ears on the front lines. They're going to be among the first to report bugs, crashes and other issues. They might be a bit overzealous and make lots of feature requests, but don't treat their love of your app lightly.

When they email you, reply promptly and personally. If they notice a minor bug, knowing that they'll receive a personal response from a real human being can make it worth their while. Venmo, the peer-to-peer payment platform, does a great job of this, and even lets you report the bug as a payment request to their co-founders, netting you a couple bucks if the bug report turns out to be legit.

Setting Expectations

Regardless of the platform by which you communicate with users, it's important to set realistic expectations. Honestly explain to users what's going on and let them know that you're aware of and working to fix the issue. Promise that you'll update them as you know more and, if you are confident about a timeline, give an estimate. However, avoid promising when things will be restored.

Train Your Team

Your customer service tactics may come naturally to you, but that doesn't mean your team is on the same page. Don't underestimate the value of running them through a training session where you cover message, tone, technique, talking points and standards for responding personally and quickly to users.

Open Social Media Channels

Use your Twitter account to broadcast alerts and messages about what's going on with your app. Your tweets should include a short acknowledgment and description of the issue with a link to your blog, where there should be a fuller explanation.

Customer Support Systems

When you're receiving five or ten support emails a day, which is typical for a small startup's app, handling the workload requires little more than setting up a Gmail filter. But as the volume increases, you'll need to turn to a ticket-based support system. Foursquare uses Zendesk, but other popular options include Get Satisfaction and the beautifully designed HappyFox.

Video Responses

Blogs, tweets, and email alerts are nice, but a heartfelt video from the CEO is a great way to reach out to users and apologize for downtime or serious bugs in an application. Traditionally, videos are used to apologize after serious downtime, like BlackBerry's recent boondoggle.

Offer the Full Story

Your users really care about your product. And a certain subset of users care really, really care. For the sake of those power users, it's often helpful to write up a detailed debriefing of what went wrong, how you fixed it and what you and your team are doing to make sure that problem doesn't come up again. Such transparency will be appreciated by your users and can go a long way toward helping you earn the trust of your users.

Cute Characters

There's a trend among tech startups to have a cute character break the downtime news to users. Twitter famously has its Fail Whale, which has inspired t-shirts, Halloween costumes and more. According to Chrysanthe Tenentes, community manager at Foursquare, her company created the Pouty Princess as part of its prioritization to "communicate really well as a company."

Full-Time Status Updates

If you have many users relying on your service, it may be appropriate to open up a Twitter account and blog dedicated to covering server status 24/7. Many services use subdomains like for such purposes. But when something major happens, it's important to mention it on your main blog, where more average users will be able to find it.

Tools of the Trade

Handling a problem when it creeps up is important, but here are a few tips for stopping issues in their tracks, before they become a problem for your users.

Bug & Crash Reporting: BugSense and Flurry are services that can be integrated into your apps and seamlessly provide you with near real-time crash data. Using this kind of service should be a standard part of any developer's process.

Server Ping: Server ping options like Pingdom allow you to monitor your server in real-time and even receive a text message if it goes down.

Apple Expedited Review: Android apps can easily be updated by the user, but iOS app updates must be reviewed and approved by Apple before they're ready to deploy through iTunes. That can be a problem if developers need to make an urgent fix. For such emergency situations, Apple has created an Expedited App Review request form.

Special thanks to Chrysanthe Tenentes and Mari Sheibley from Foursquare, Chris Fei from MeetMoi, Paulo Ribeiro from HumanSpot's Nostalgiqa, and Jason Schwartz from Matchbook for their insights.

Series Supported by Sourcebits

The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading developer of applications and games for all major mobile platforms. Sourcebits has engineered over 200 apps to date, with plenty more to come. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iPhone, Android and more. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out how we can help your app stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

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