Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Meg Whitman Joins Zaarly Board of Directors”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Meg Whitman Joins Zaarly Board of Directors”

Meg Whitman Joins Zaarly Board of Directors

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 02:28 AM PDT

Meg Whitman

Zaarly, a startup peer-to-peer marketplace that has been called an alternative to eBay, has announced that eBay’s former CEO, Meg Whitman, will join its board of directors.

The startup’s founder and CEO Bo Fishback, who also announced a $14 million round of funding on Tuesday, says that Whitman — now CEO of HP — has been present since the first meeting with lead investor Kleiner Perkins.

“About 15 minutes into the conversation, she stopped and said, ‘this reminds me so much of eBay,’ ” Fishback says.

Zaarly is somewhat like eBay and Amazon in that it facilitates commerce between individuals. The way that it does so, however, looks a lot different. Anyone who signs up for the service can post a job or desired item such as “bring me a soda,” “lend me your lawn mower,” or “teach my child algebra” and the price they are willing to pay for its completion. Users in the area who are looking for cash can browse offers and apply to complete projects that appeal to them. Unlike eBay or Amazon, anyone can ask for anything, even if it’s not something that can be put in a box and shipped.

“We might be going after big portions of [eBay and Amazon's] markets on one hand,” Fishback says. “On the other, we’re creating whole new markets.”

Since launching in May, Zaarly has registered 100,000 users. The team has also doubled from about 15 employees to close to 30 — incidentally the same number that were at eBay when Whitman joined in 1998.

Fishback says Whitman will help “as much as she is able to help,” but that in particular he looks forward to her advice about how to make the most of a community and become a better CEO.

With his new chunk of change, Fishback plans to hire his dream team and begin to smartly scale the service. The latter is likely to be a challenging task because different cities use Zaarly differently. In fact, a team of 10 that the startup hired to research and engage with its community in New York has noticed that people from different neighborhoods within the same city even use the service differently. Navigating these differences could involve setting up more teams like the one in New York in other cities.

“We’re working on understanding how to make something scalable but hyperlocal at the same time,” Fishback says.

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So This Is How Nokia N9 Is Made [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 01:41 AM PDT

Nokia N9 probably won’t be a best-seller amongst smartphones. It’s the first and only smartphone based on the MeeGo platform, and Nokia has no plans for ever making it available in the U.S.

It’s a device that, unfortunately, serves mostly as a reminder of Nokia’s misguided smartphone strategy, which the company had to completely abandon and team up with Microsoft to create a completely new range of Windows Phone-based smartphones.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a well-crafted smartphone, though. Nokia is known for its manufacturing precision and quality devices, and the N9, with its polycarbonate shell and beautiful 3.9-inch curved glass screen doesn’t seem to be an exception to that rule.

And now, you can see exactly the entire manufacturing process of the N9 – from the first holes being drilled into the case all the way to the packaging. Check out the video above and tell us how you like it in the comments.

More About: Nokia, Nokia N9, smartphone

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Can UNAIDS Crowdsource a Strategy to Combat HIV/AIDS?

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 01:18 AM PDT

UNAIDS, the UN‘s branch dealing with HIV/AIDS, has launched a digital crowdsourcing campaign to combat HIV/AIDS across the globe.

The campaign, CrowdOutAIDS, stems from the idea that young people will have the best ideas about how to stop the spread of the virus, which infects 3,000 people between 15-24 daily.

“It is absolutely critical that we engage young people — not as recipients of our messages but as the actors and creators of change,” says Michele Sibide, executive director of UNAIDS.

A UNAIDS representative says the UN has crowdsourced before, but never for strategy/policy development.

CrowdOutAIDS has a four step approach: Connect, share, find solutions and collective action.

Step one, connect, will be executed through social tools like Facebook and blogs. The subsequent steps emphasize the power of digital mediums to connect youth around the world.

Do you think social media has the power to spur innovative solutions that can stop the spread of HIV/AIDS? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: Social Good, UN, United Nations

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Meet Dot: The iPhone Panoramic Video Camera You Funded

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 12:13 AM PDT

Dot, a hardware attachment for capturing panoramic video on the iPhone, starts shipping Tuesday after a short but storied development — one that began with the help of more than 1,000 backers on crowd-funding site Kickstarter in May.

Dot will also land on Apple Store retail shelves nationwide starting November 1.

Dot, developed by New York-based startup Kogeto, is a compact $79 iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S video camera attachment — available in black, red, pink and green — that lets anyone shoot and share 360-degree shots.

This isn’t one of those piecemeal panoramic experiences weaved together via software; this is the real deal. And it works remarkably well, as Mashable witnessed first-hand in a live demo with Kogeto founder and CEO Jeff Glasse earlier this year. Dot is lightweight, and does not require batteries or recharging.

Snap Dot on to your device, use the accompanying Looker iPhone app, and start shooting panoramic video via a lens designed to capture 360 degrees of video. You can then share your complete-perspective captures, a.k.a. “Dotspots,” via Facebook and Twitter, or on Kogeto.com.

Dot represents the collective intelligence gleaned from Kogeto’s experience building Lucy, an advance desktop panoramic video camera designed for professional and educational use.

“We wanted … to put a panoramic capture device in everyone’s hand, and Kickstarter allowed us to do that,” Glasse explains.

Glasse started Kogeto and initially launched Lucy with his entire life savings. And while Lucy has been successful enough to keep the small company afloat, Glasse knew that Kogeto would need to take on more capital to turn the Dot prototype into a product that consumers could buy in stores. But he didn’t want to take on venture capital at the time.

Enter Kickstarter, the crowd-funding service making it possible for small startups like Kogeto to finance their dream products — just so long as the community believes in the mission too. Kogeto sought to raise $20,000 via Kickstarter to fund and produce Dot. More than 1,000 backers had a better idea: They pledged a total of $120,514.

“We started with a $20,000 goal and we were hoping to beat it … to raise $40,000. We raised $120,000,” Glasse says. “But more importantly, we knew there was a demand for Dot.”

Demand is right. Dot, says Glasse, has racked up thousands of pre-orders in advance of Tuesday’s official release date. The startup has netted relationships with online retailers anxious to sell the device and has already found favor with Apple, who will help distribute the device via its U.S. Apple Stores come November.

One of Dot’s first taglines — “Put down the camera. Enjoy the party” — best exemplifies the power of the petite device, Glasse says. “The idea is that you can put it down and you can have a non-inflected, non-contrived interaction with me where I might let my guard down and just be who I am with you.”

“This is one of those enabling technologies that’s almost hard to explain to people how many things it makes possible,” he adds.

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Weiv Puts Concert Visuals into Audience Hands With Wii Remotes

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 07:24 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: Weiv

Quick Pitch: Weiv makes concert visuals that are controlled in real-time by Wii remotes.

Genius Idea: Bringing live visuals to live entertainment.

You don’t go to a concert to listen to a pre-recorded audio, reasons Josh Larson, so why would you want to watch pre-recorded visuals?

“When you listen to music that is pre-recorded that there's a certain energy you miss,” he says. “I think that's true when the visuals are performed live as well.”

In order to bring live-performance energy to concert visuals, Larson and two co-founders have developed an interactive software solution called Weiv. Users who download the program (right now, the technology can only be used on Macs with Snow Leopard) can control visuals in real-time with up to seven Wii remotes. No Wii console is needed.

A free version of Weiv comes with three “scenes” that look like the abstract short videos you might see at a rock concert. Each remote controls a different aspect of the scene. In the “galaxy trails” scene, for instance, one remote creates ribbon-like trails, another controls where those trails connect together, and another can rotate the scene. Larson and his cofounders have developed more than 20 of these interactive scenes that can be purchased for the $200 paid version of the product.

During development, the software has been used mostly in churches and with youth groups, and the startup has not yet begun filling its pre-orders.

Eventually, however, Larson thinks the technology could be applied to larger scale performances. A limit of seven remotes makes this most likely in situations where performers are controlling the software — which, to be honest, doesn’t sound much different than watching pre-recorded visuals. But Larson also says that Weiv is working on a way to turn any smartphone into a controller. In that case, individuals in even large audiences could help shape a performance’s visuals.

In a way, the foundations for such a participatory visual system have already been set.

“Waving a lighter to the music, that's a way that you can respond visually,” Larson says. “We're allwoing a richer way, a more expressive way to do that.”

Weiv in action at a Finn Miles concert in Des Moines, Iowa

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.

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Amazon’s Soap.com Begins Selling Groceries

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:50 PM PDT

Amazon-owned Soap.com has begun selling grocery goods.

Unlike Amazon Fresh, which delivers a full range of groceries via an elaborate system of delivery trucks, Soap.com‘s selection is limited to approximately 10,000 non-perishable items such as cereal and coffee. Orders are shipped via UPS in one to two days for $4.99; orders more than $39 ship for free.

The expansion into grocery is a logical next step for the site, which already sells a range of health, beauty and household products. Marc Lore, CEO of Soap.com’s parent company Quidsi, says that customers have “been asking about grocery since [the site] launched in 2010.”

Amazon acquired Quidsi for $540 million in cash in November 2010.

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Why Obama Needs Social Media to Win in 2012

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:27 PM PDT

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Jesse Comart serves as a communications and public affairs consultant at the Glover Park Group (GPG). Before joining GPG, he worked on policy and communications issues for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Follow Jesse on Twitter at @jcomart.

It’s no secret that President Obama's 2008 campaign success was due in large part to the overwhelming support of voters age 29 and younger (66%).

By all accounts, winning a second term will be almost impossible without that demographic's continued support. On the other hand, securing the youth vote will be challenging. As a voting bloc they are historically unpredictable, and their approval of the president has dropped 13 points since June. To counter his waning popularity, the president's campaign, Organizing for America (OFA), will need to deploy a social media strategy that combines innovative outreach techniques with a focus on youth turnout.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways QR Codes Could Shake Up the 2012 Election

Before addressing the "must-haves" for the president's digital strategy, it's important to understand said demographic, both as a consumer and as a voter. Not surprisingly, this audience dominates the online and social networking space. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 83% of Internet users ages 18-29 use social networking sites. The percentage drops off significantly as the age range increases (only 51% of those between the ages of 50 and 64).

Second, according to the most recent census, voters ages 24 and younger made up 10% of voters in 2008, and were the only age bloc that increased its participation since 2004.

Finally, a staggering number of people age 20-29 do not have jobs. The Census Bureau found that in 2010, one in three were unemployed. As a result, this demographic presents an enormous challenge as well as an opportunity for OFA. The president must connect with this group and make his case for why they should support him as strongly as they did three years ago.

After Obama's 2008 victory, OFA received widespread praise for its social media strategy. This admiration was deserved, mainly because OFA implemented a tool that was foreign to almost everyone else in professional politics. David Axelrod, top strategist for the 2012 campaign and former senior advisor to the president, acknowledged that "so much of our support [in 2008] came from younger, more wired people."

But now the element of surprise is gone. Consider the differences between the social media landscape in 2008 and today.

Most importantly, today almost every politician uses social media in some capacity. That means the bar is set higher for creatively integrating social media into a campaign. Thirteen months out from the next election, the president has more than 23.6 million "Likes" on his Facebook page, another 10.7 million Twitter followers, and videos from his YouTube page have garnered nearly 165 million views.

However, it's not enough to simply record a video message or tweet about an event. Younger voters want to interact and be part of the conversation.

The Obama campaign will need to approach social media as a gateway to open a two-way dialogue, not a vehicle for pushing out traditional campaign talking points. "Social media has gone from a publishing platform to a really interactive space," said Andrew Foxwell, manager of marketing and new media at iConstituent, in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "You have to interact. That's the added value of social media.” While the Obama campaign has partnered with Facebook and LinkedIn to host interactive events, its strategy will need to become more fluid and consistent as the president enters "campaign mode."

Consistency is not the only barometer for success. Connecting with younger voters necessitates more than a typical blast from one of Obama's top deputies. Instead, OFA might try sponsoring a debate-watching party for which participants check in via Foursquare. While watch parties are not a unique concept, younger voters more likely get involved if courted via social media.

Another option could be a video series, titled "Voting For My Future," in which supporters record 30-second YouTube clips that explain why they plan to vote for the president. The most-viewed videos would be featured in a television ad paid for by OFA.

These two-way conversations are critical for attracting young voters because their likelihood to vote is so erratic. Voter turnout among those aged 18-29 fell by 60% from 2008 to 2010, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). While turnout in presidential elections is typically higher, the president will face the significant challenge of getting younger, unenthusiastic and often jobless voters to the polls.

"Since 2004, young voters have been one of the strongest Democratic constituencies," explained CIRCLE director Peter Levine, who told The Nation that "Democrats need to engage them better than they did in 2010." Interacting with younger voters through social media will have to be a cornerstone of the president's tactics.

If younger voters stay home on Election Day, much like they did in 2010, the president's odds for re-election will be very slim. To draw this segment of voters to the polls, President Obama will need to speak not just to them, but with them. The campaign's social media strategy will need to be strong — one that young, tech-hungry voters view as worthy of their attention, and most importantly, their vote.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Mr. Wright

More About: 2012 election, contributor, features, obama, Opinion, Politics, Social Media

Apple Celebrates Steve Jobs: Quotes from One Infinite Loop [PICS]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 05:29 PM PDT

Few events can boast headliners like Tim Cook, Norah Jones, Jonathan Ive, Al Gore and Coldplay. But Apple‘s campus-wide celebration of the life of Steve Jobs last Wednesday was hardly an ordinary event. The entire Cupertino-based company was crammed into its outdoor amphitheater; Apple stores shut around the world as retail employees watched live.

The Apple family is a fairly insular one, and outsiders were not admitted to this moving tribute to its fallen leader. On Monday, however, the company began streaming a replay of the event online. You can watch it here, and we highly recommend it: 84 minutes of memories, catharsis and great music. But if you’re pressed for time, peruse our slideshow of some of the event’s best quotes and performances.

Steve Remembered

Giant black and white photographs of Jobs were draped around the campus amphitheater.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Daring South African Rescue Features Motorcycles and a Cow [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:58 PM PDT

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

What’s even cooler than being a rally biker on a test run in South Africa? If you’re that guy and you also interrupt your test run in order to save a drowning calf.

This video shows an altruistic biker stopping to haul out a dying calf from a man-made canal. The biker then manages to get the animal on his motorcycle and find the calf’s pack, returning it to its owner and family.

Aside from the theatrics — repelling using a rope attached to a rally ‘cycle, saving an animal’s life, riding a motorcycle with a calf strapped to it — the most impressive part of this video is the fact that the anonymous biker went so far out of his way to help the calf.

We found this video to be a nice cure for the Monday doldrums. Enjoy and let us know in the comments, would you have stopped to help? Did you even see the animal in the video?

More About: videos, viral video, viral-video-of-the-day

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Zynga IPO Set for November [REPORT]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:46 PM PDT

Zynga‘s long-awaited IPO will hit a week before Thanksgiving, according to a report.

The social gaming company, which originally planned to go public in September but had pushed that date back because of the see-sawing stock market. The November date, reported by Reuters, was also cited in earlier reports. Reps from Zynga could not be reached for comment.

Zynga’s IPO, set for roughly November 17, appears back on track just as Groupon appears to be once again readying its plans to go public, also in November. Other social media-related IPOs, including the largest of them all, Facebook’s, are set for 2012.

Zynga's New Headquarters

There is a Zynga RV at the entrance.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, groupon, IPOs, Zynga

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President Obama Adds Tumblr to His List of Social Profiles

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:20 PM PDT

obama image

President Barack Obama, or rather, Obama’s 2012 Campaign, has officially joined Tumblr rounding out his collection of major social networks. Obama gained a reputation as the social media President for the way he used networks such as Facebook and Twitter to galvanize his supporters during the 2008 election.

The new Tumblr sees Obama expand his reach, with a less formal approach — though we’re still waiting for his Quora, Ning and MySpace. Tumblr has become a go-to platform for publications and organizations looking to show a more human, approachable side. Accordingly, the Barack Obama Tumblr, run by the 2012 election campaign staff, is meant to focus on user submissions, behind-the-scenes shots and grassroots support.

The donate button declares: “The other guys have corporate lobbyists and super PACs on their side; we’ve got you.” The first post is all about collaborative storytelling and open conversation.

You can send us a few paragraphs about how your latest phonebanking gig went or why you're in for 2012. Share the latest chart you saw that made you go "woah." Ask a question. Upload a photo of 2012 t-shirts or signs you see out in the wild. Pass along jokes, particularly if they're funny. And if you're among the Tumbl-inclined, send us posts you've published on your own Tumblr that we should look at re-blogging.

It remains to be seen if the Tumblr will hold to these principles, especially if it starts getting spammed as hard as the organizers think it might: “There will be trolls among you: this we know. We ask only that you remember that we're people—fairly nice ones—and that your mother would want you to be polite.”

Obama has proven that he understand social media, his tumblr will be one to watch as the election nears. The blog is a lighter, tongue-in-cheek take on Obama’s 2012 campaign. It’s sure to gain a ton of followers and submissions from across the country, but how much can a crowdsourced feel-good blog help Obama’s election results? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Justin Sloan

More About: 2012 election, barack obama, obama, Politics, Social Media, tumblr, US

How HP Charms Music’s Biggest Online Influencers With Real-Life Parties

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:04 PM PDT

Hewlett-Packard recently expanded its Music Influencer program to include more intimate gatherings in a bid to win over some of the music scene’s most-coveted online heavyweights.

HP launched the Music Influencer program last year as a way to spread the word about HP products through traditional blogs and giveaways. Building on the success from the first phase of the campaign, HP decided to tweak its strategy to make it more personal.

One component of the technology corporation’s new strategy is a series of exclusive listening parties called ARTIST #TALK in which celebrities tell stories about their music and answer questions from the young, hip and highly influential attendees. HP handpicks audience members who are proven content creators with large followings on their social networks, music blogs or news sites.

Leading the charge is the series’ host and one of the most recognizable music bloggers — Arjan Timmermans — whose fans and celebrity interviewees easily recognize him by his trademark red blazers.

"We measured success by who we were able to get into the room, the amount of content generated (about 330 pieces) and the reach of that content.”

But for HP, more impressive than Timmermans’s in-person presence is his digital prowess: He manages the popular ArjanWrites.com, blogs for Grammy.com, contributes on-air to CNN, interviews celebrities and ultimately reaches the very audience HP wants to charm via his social presence on Facebook and Twitter.

At the inaugural ARTIST #TALK in New York City in September, Timmermans brought in British rapper Tinie Tempah and invited other attendees, who collectively had an average Klout score of 60 (see photos and a video of the event below).

“At the most basic level, ARTIST #TALK is a success because it drove conversation about HP and HP products with Beats Audio,” said Mark Budgell, HP’s PR manager of social media strategy. “We measured success by who we were able to get into the room, the amount of content generated (about 330 pieces) and the reach of that content…It’s important for HP to be reaching the right people with their message.”

ARTIST #TALK on Sept. 14 at Cooper Square Hotel's Penthouse

Photo courtesy of ArjanWrites and Jeff Meltz, Flickr

Click here to view this gallery.

What’s Next? And How Can You Participate?

On Oct. 25 at Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC, singer-songwriter V V Brown will be the series’ next celebrity guest. She’ll debut new songs from her unreleased album. The general public can participate by tweeting questions with the hashtag “ARTIST #TALK” or by following the hashtag’s stream during the Tuesday night event.

"My intent with ARTIST #TALK is to feature the stories behind the music. I want to emphasize the artist’s creative process and inspirations that lead to their musical expression.”

“My intent with ARTIST #TALK is to feature the stories behind the music,” says Timmermans, who conceived the idea behind the series.

“I want to emphasize the artist’s creative process and inspirations that lead to their musical expression. V V has a very compelling point of view and loves to share that with listeners.”

Timmermans is hopeful he can snag artists like Eminem, Cee-Lo, Will.i.am, Far East Movement, Jessie J, Robyn and Tiesto for future ARTIST #TALK sessions.

“I like to invite artists that break the mold, serve up a compelling point of view and like to talk candidly about their art in front of live audience,” he says, but “at this time, we don’t have anyone to announce just yet.”

Watch the First ARTIST #TALK Series

In a private interview with Mashable before the inaugural ARTIST #TALK, HP’s Budgell said a vital goal of the music project is to give influencers a story to tell on their social channels.

Fast forward to minute 8:16-8:59 in this clip to see Tinie Tempah’s answer to my question, “Whom are you collaborating with now and whom do you want to work with in the future?”

“The ARTIST #TALK series is a truly innovative and refreshing idea,” says Jason Eldredge, a DJ at East Village Radio. “It was great being able to have the rare opportunity of spending time with an artist like Tinie in an intimate setting. I think this led to a comfortableness on behalf of both the guest and audience members, which generated a much welcomed sense of honesty.”

Also, flip through the rest of the gallery to watch some of V V Brown’s music videos.

Inaugural ARTIST #TALK with British Rapper Tinie Tempah

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Arjan Timmermans, ARTIST #TALK, features, HP, Marketing, Music

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Netflix Stock Plummets 27% Following Earnings Report

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 02:54 PM PDT

And the Netflix hits just keep on coming. The company’s stock price, which was flirting with $300 over the summer, was trading at around $85 — down roughly 27% — in after-hours trading.

The impetus seemed to be Netflix’s disclosure that it lost 800,000 subscribers in its most-recent quarter, when it had predicted the company’s September price increase would merely slow growth in the quarter. (The company revised its estimate to 24 million overall subscribers in September.) Otherwise, Netflix had met its revenues and earnings target for the quarter.

Whatever the motivation, the company’s plummeting stock price is likely to increase calls for CEO Reed Hastings dismissal. In an interview with The New York Times Magazine that ran over the weekend, Hastings said he was not considering such a move.

“No, not for a second,” he said, when asked if had thought about resigning. “I founded Netflix. I've built it steadily over 12 years now, first with DVD becoming profitable in 2002, a head-to-head ferocious battle with Blockbuster and evolving the company toward streaming. This is the first time there have been material missteps. If you look at the cumulative track record, it's extremely positive.”

Netflix Stock Chart

Netflix Stock Chart by YCharts

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Siri Comes to the iPad…Sort Of

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 02:48 PM PDT

Apple has decided to restrict the usage of Siri to the iPhone 4S but that doesn’t mean that enterprising developers haven’t started the process of porting to devices like the regular iPhone 4 and iPad.

Over the weekend, developer @jackoplane was able to show some progress of getting Siri working on the iPad 1. The breakthrough comes a week after Steve Troughton was able to get everyone’s favorite personal assistant to run on the iPhone 4.

Of course, there is a catch. Siri will load on jailbroken iPhone 4 devices — and the iPad 1 — but it won’t work the way you might expect.

Because Siri’s secret sauce comes from interacting directly with Apple’s servers in the cloud, Siri doesn’t function if the device being used is not an iPhone 4S.

Jailbreak Story quotes Stroughton as saying that any iOS device could theoretically be spoofed to look like an iPhone 4S. It’s also possible that the Siri interface could be used to work with Google or services like TellMe.

Joshua Tucker of ModMyi and Jackoplane are maintaining an FAQ with information about the state of the Siri port to other devices. The progress is impressive — though obviously a lot of work is yet to be done.

Why is Apple Limiting Siri’s Hardware

Many have questioned Apple’s decision to limit Siri to the iPhone 4S. While Apple maintains that the A5 dual-core chip on the iPhone 4S is required for many of the processes, the fact that pre-iOS 5 Siri worked on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS has caused some developers to question this claim.

The very fact that Siri will run on an iPhone 4 — albeit without server interaction — may indicate that this is a forced restriction rather than anything in hardware. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has imposed software limits on capable hardware.

Of course, the restriction could also be more practical. By only working on the iPhone 4S, Apple has more control over how well Siri can scale from the cloud. When Siri first launched alongside the iPhone 4S, some users reported periods of instability — thanks to a rush of users flooding the service — and the cloud. Now multiply that impact by the 50 million iPhone 4 devices. It could be that Apple wants to restrict Siri until it can be sure it will support the load.

In any event, we wish the developers and jailbreakers well on their quest to get Siri working on other iOS devices.

Photos courtesy of @Jackoplane

The classic question

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More About: apple, ipad, iphone 4, siri

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Netflix Loses 800,000 Customers in Quarter

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 02:01 PM PDT

Netflix‘s price hike caused 805,000 paid subscribers to jump ship in the most-recent quarter, the company reported Monday.

The company finished its third quarter with 23.79 million U.S. subscribers compared with the 24.59 million in had during its second quarter. In Q3, Netflix announced a 60% price increase, which went into effect in September. The company had predicted in a letter to shareholders that the impact of the price increase would be limited and the company would finish the Q3 with 25 million total subscribers. (The company lowered that estimate to 24 million in September, though.) Investors reacted by continued to punish Netflix’s already-battered stock, sending down 27% in after-hours trading.

That, despite a relatively sound earnings report: Netflix reported $822 million in revenues for the quarter and earnings per share of $1.16, which beat estimates of $811.79 million and earnings per share of 96 cents, respectively.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix acknowledged that it handled communication around the price increase poorly:

“$7.99 for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for unlimited DVD are both very aggressive low prices, relative to competition and to the value of the services, and they are the right place for Netflix to be in the long term. What we misjudged was how quickly to move there. We compounded the problem with our lack of explanation about the rising cost of the expansion of streaming content, and steady DVD costs, so that … many perceived us as greedy. Finally , we announced and then retracted a separate brand for DVD. While this branding incident further dented our reputation, and caused a temporary cancellation surge, compared to our price change, its impact was relatively minor.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ross Catrow

More About: earnings, netflix, Qwikster

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Mobile Payment Reader Square Coming to Wal-Mart

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 01:56 PM PDT

Square, a small credit card reader that can process credit card payments on a range of iOS and Android devices, will soon begin selling at Wal-Mart stores throughout the U.S.

The announcement marks a significant retail expansion for the device, which is already available at Target, RadioShack, Best Buy and approximately 200 Apple stores. Wal-Mart will bring its retail outlet total to more than 9,000.

The card reader itself, which plugs into the headphone jack of iPhone, iPad and a variety of Android devices, can be ordered for free at squareup.com or for $9.99 in stores. Those who purchase the device in stores can apply for a refund from Square online.

The low cost of entry has been effective in reaching the hands of Square’s target customers: small business owners who can’t afford to invest in credit card terminals. Some 800,000 devices have been shipped to merchants thus far, according to Bloomberg. The startup, which is now processing more than $2 billion in credit and debit card payments per annum, takes a 2.75% cut on all transactions.

Square raised $100 million in venture funding at a valuation of $1.6 billion this summer.

More About: Square, Wal-Mart

Social Responsibility: It’s Not Just for Brands Anymore

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 01:36 PM PDT

John C. Havens is EVP, Strategy and Engagement at Yoxi.tv, an organization that discovers and elevates social entrepreneurs by leveraging their expertise for global business opportunities. He can be reached at johnchavens@gmail.com.

It's 2015 and you're trying to get into an exclusive Soho club. You fidget while the bouncer holds his smartphone to your face. From behind the red velvet rope, he takes a step back, his face morphing into a mask of disgust.

"You haven't done jack for anyone else in over a week?" His voice is loud enough that others in the line point their devices at you as well. "No way you're getting in here. This club is for people who give a damn about things other than themselves."

Your face burns with embarrassment as everyone calculates the accountability based influence (ABI) score branded on your forehead like a virtual scarlet letter. Your lack of involvement means you've been ostracized by the “in-cloud.”

What if your action-based reputation preceded you digitally? In one sense, brands have lived with this type of situation since the late '60s, with the advent of corporate social responsibility. Today, social media's focus on transparency has changed the attitudes of consumers and employees regarding the modern corporation. People won't buy products from or work for organizations that aren't actively trying to change the world for good.

At what point will this lens of morality be turned on individuals, where a variation of CSR is more personal? Although, to some extent, we're already judged on our actions, we may soon be measured by the accountability metrics applied to organizations. Individuals need to understand how their actions will, quite literally, speak louder than their words.

The good news is that CSR is evolving as brands incorporate social good into their everyday business activities. Those lessons, largely based on the concept of "shared value" described below, provide a roadmap for individuals: how they can increase their personal value, or accountability based influence score, while living a life that benefits the greater good.

Shared Value – Corporate Social Responsibility Permeates the Enterprise

"The idea in its purest form is that you reorient your business model around the fact that there's an intersection between where your company is trying to go, and what's best for society," notes Margaret Coady, director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. "[CSR] is not a department or a job title – it's a strategy for a firm to be successful over the next few decades."

This model of sustainable value creation, similar to Michael Porter's idea of shared value, moves CSR out of the realm of pure philanthropy, and refocuses the notion of value based on overarching business strategy. For example, Coady cites that Western Union has created policy round tables that discuss immigration reform. At first, this seems odd for a company focused largely on wiring money. But, as Coady points out, many of Western Union's customers are successful immigrants who wire money home to their families. "[While immigration reform] may be a controversial issue for a company to engage in, it's central to the core customer of Western Union. It's a social issue that's also a business issue."

In other words, the stuff you do that helps the world will help your bottom line. That same logic applies to individuals. As online influence metrics evolve, you'll be able to increase your ABI score as you pursue everyday career and lifestyle actions – all while making the world a better place.

Supportive Accountability – Weight Watchers Members “Lose for Good”

"The [Lose for Good] campaign actually started as an idea from a local leader," explains Cheryl Callan, chief marketing officer for Weight Watchers. "She was looking for ways to inspire members and told them to stack up piles of food equivalent to the weight they lost. It may not feel like that big of a deal when you've lost ten pounds, but when you see the food stacked up that you didn't eat, it's very motivating." When members then brought the food to local pantries, they got to see how their efforts directly help others.

Since the campaign launched in 2008, Weight Watchers members and online subscribers have lost almost 12 million pounds. The brand has donated nearly three million dollars to charitable partners that provide children and families with access to nutritious food. The campaign was "not just the CEO who had a cause and somebody wrote a check," notes Callan. By correlating the success of members losing weight to the good they could affect, Weight Watchers utilized shared value as a core business strategy.

For members, the Weight Watchers accountability model meant supporting others while encouraging more personal success.

Digital Checks and Balances – LinkedIn's “Volunteer Experience and Causes”

"What happens when someone ticks off ten causes they don't care about?" According to Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn, the social community compensates using its system of checks and balances (Note: you must be signed in to fill out the form). "So if you say you're involved and you're not, people will call you out. Influence almost holds you accountable."

A problem for many people is the notion of touting or flaunting their volunteer experiences, who may find it cheesy and insincere. Williams urges those people to reconsider. "The more you put out there, the more that people will want to volunteer as well."

New research from LinkedIn shows that one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. hired a candidate because of her volunteer work experience. Giving back can be the determining factor between two similar candidates.

A person can volunteer for organizations that reflect their overall passions as a way to get experience for a future career. "Volunteering used to only be about give, give, give," says Williams. "Now it's more cyclical – people are thinking about where they can contribute that's also in the best interest of their careers, so they don't get burned out."

Checks and balances aren't just about accountability. LinkedIn demonstrates the idea of shared value for an individual, a model for users to leverage their volunteerism for the greater good and for their own personal good.

Constructive Competition – Recyclebank and Rewards

"Influence needs to shape up and be better defined," says Samantha Skey, chief revenue officer for Recyclebank, an organization that rewards their 3.3 million members for taking environmental action with deals from more than 3,000 businesses.

"How much does online influence impact real-world action?" asks Skey. "Is the credibility someone earns for social action online a true representation of what they do in the real world? Correlating action to intent is something we're working on measuring."

Recyclebank measures using its "Eco-IQ" score, which identifies and helps change mainstream awareness around various environmental issues. The Eco-IQ lets Recyclebank engage with a mainstream audience that may not otherwise address sustainability from an angle of environmental concern. Eco-IQ encourages peer recognition for affecting positive change in one's everyday lifestyle. "We're starting to see interest from individuals in promoting their own actions and the good they're doing, because they enjoy the pat on the back that comes from being an 'Ambassador of Green.'"

Some might fear that the reward incentive clouds a person's genuine motives. But in the case of Recyclebank, the “friends justify the means” — the message needs to reach the masses, and celebratory dynamics work better than threats. Evolving your Eco-IQ in public means shared value for everyone involved.

Positive Profiling – The Evolution of “Klout Style”

"If you work for a certain cause, it's easy for us to see the rest of your identity. So people would notice the difference between a guy who volunteered once versus someone who is really passionate…on an ongoing basis," says Joe Fernandez, founder of Klout.

Fernandez said there weren't immediate plans for a "Klout for Good" score per se, but the service's existing "Klout Style" feature has the potential to include a social good metric. For instance, two people have Klout scores of 50. One influences primarily via sharing links, so Klout calls him a curator. The other user influences via talking, so she's a conversationalist. "I can definitely see expanding that to identify the type of person who is super responsible and cares about the greater good."

In this way, people perceived by the social community as bringing positive change could more overtly receive shared value of their own. Therefore, the notion of "social access" described above may not be as hypothetical as it seems.

Evolved Capitalism: IBM and the Inevitability of Shared Value

"You can't construct a carefully shaped public image which is out of synch with who you actually are," says Mike Wing, VP of IBM's strategic and executive communication. Seen as the father of IBM's Smarter Planet campaign, Wing is an expert on the "Internet of Things," and posits about the future of influence, when social good will become hyper-digital and location-based.

"Data ubiquity and potential transparency will take the qualifies of what people are seeing in social media several powers higher," he predicts, "and we will increasingly be making judgments based more on behavior than self-presentation."

The prediction may seem dystopian, but it's simply an evolution of our current digital existence. And as Wing points out, the bigger picture for the digital revolution will see emerging markets participating in the global arena. The two to three billion people who are now digitally connected means we've moved from a fat tail world to a long tail world.

In other words, the evolution of CSR via shared value is more than inevitable – it's almost passé. "CSR is a function of a previous paradigm," notes Wing. "In this context, there's no sensible way you can talk about…the distinction between pure wealth creation and pure philanthropy."

Accountability Based Influence as the CSR Metric for Individuals

While a person's actions can be perceived in a myriad of ways, various metrics from multiple sources aggregate that person's digital persona. The projects described above provide shared value for individuals and the world around them as participants increase their accountability based influence. By encouraging the notion of ABI as a metric, people will increase their positive actions.

The moral imperative to do good has been directed toward corporations. Why not adopt their evolved idea of shared value and change the world for good? (While upping your social cred, of course.)

More About: Business, contributor, features, klout, linkedin, Social Good, Social Media

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All Star Animators Recreate the Entire Ocean Online

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 01:16 PM PDT

Screens from theBlu

Click here to view this gallery.

Wemo Media has partnered with top animators from Avatar and Tron, the director of MIT’s Media Lab and other high profile activists for an ambitious, underwater animation project called theBlu.

TheBlu is, more or less, a recreation of the entire ocean ecosystem — from North America to Asia and everywhere in between — largely powered by user submissions. It is part art project (users can create and customize underwater creatures), part social network and part educational tool.

The main action in theBlu is exploration. You navigate through different underwater environments observing the user-created species. You can click on new species and complete “collections” native to those regions. Finding an entire collection will then gift you a creature, which you can name and let loose in the wild or monitor in a virtual fish bowl. All of these collected fish will populate the digital oceans. Clicking a fish will bring up some quick facts about the creature and its owner, with options to connect.

"One of the biggest problems that the oceans face is that people don’t see what’s going on in the Ocean,” says Wemo Media leadership team member and Academy Award winner Louie Psihoyos, director of The Cove. “This project is a way for people to put their heads under the water without getting wet, a terrific way for people to not only see the Ocean but actually create it."

There is actually a fairly robust creation engine where users can pick a fish model and upload their own custom skins. The feature, for now, is a little heavy for casual users that might just want to switch colors. New species designs are all vetted by animation all stars, including Andy Jones, animation director for Avatar, Joichi Ito, MIT’s Media Lab Director, and many other Wemo experts.

These new creatures aren’t just for show, they can actually be bought and sold through theBlu’s marketplace, which will feature standard, common fish, user creations, and exotic or rare animals tied to philanthropic missions. Prices will be dictated by the popularity of the designs, sort of a like a digital fish market price. Fish are bought either with credits earned in-game or with real money.

Artists will receive a cut of all animal designs they sell and a certain percentage of all profits from theBlu will go to ocean conservancy. The team is also planning to “sell” specific designs for charity. For example, users might be able to purchase a swordfish or manatee with funds going to support sustainable swordfish farming or manatee awareness campaigns.

The team is now entering more complex conversations about animal behavior and scarcity. Should sharks eat the other animals? Should there be a cap on the quantity of endangered or rare species that people can own? For the time being, there isn’t much fish “AI” but subsequent builds will work to create an ocean environment that not only looks like the real thing, but behaves like it as well.

TheBlu is currently in a closed beta but the team has offered Mashable readers 500 invites to test out the ecosystem for free. Just enter the code “MASHABLE” at the login page when registering.

Take a dip into the digital ecosystem and let us know in the comments if you think the platform will hold any water.

More About: oceans, Social Good, World

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SNL Honors Steve Jobs, Skewers Netflix and Facebook [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 12:58 PM PDT

It wasn’t just 60 Minutes that did a segment on Steve Jobs this weekend; Saturday Night Live celebrated the life of the Apple co-founder in its own way.

In an SNL skit parodying the PBS roundtable show Charlie Rose, Mark Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington, Reed Hastings and Rupert Murdoch come together to discuss Jobs’s legacy.

The results are pretty funny — especially the portrayals of Zuck and Hastings.

BONUS: The Life and Times of Steve Jobs

1955 - 1960s: Birth - Childhood

February 24, 1955: Steve Jobs is born in San Francisco. He is adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.

1969: Jobs meets Steve Wozniak at Homestead High School.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Artificial Super-Skin Could Transform Phones, Robots and Artificial Limbs

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 12:41 PM PDT

Stanford University Super Skin

Touch sensitivity on gadgets and robots is nothing new. A few strategically placed sensors under a flexible, synthetic skin and you have pressure sensitivity. Add a capacitive, transparent screen to a device and you have touch sensitivity. However, Stanford University's new "super skin" is something special: a thin, highly flexible, super-stretchable, nearly transparent skin that can respond to touch and pressure, even when it's being wrung out like a sponge.

The brainchild of Stanford University Associate Professor of chemical engineering Zhenan Bao, this "super skin" employs a transparent film of spray-on, single-walled carbon nanotubes that sit in a thin film of flexible silicon, which is then sandwiched between more silicon.

After an initial stretch, which actually aligns the randomly sprayed-on conductive, carbon nanotubes into microscopic spring-like forms, the skin can be stretched and restretched again to twice its original size, without the springs or skin losing their resiliency. Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher who is part of Bao's research team explained, “None of it causes any permanent deformation.”

SEE ALSO: Humanoid Robot Charges Up, Takes a Load Off [VIDEOS]

This unique makeup allows the malleable skin to measure force response even as it's being stretched, or "squeezed like a sponge." Researchers noted that it can also sense touch and force at the same time.

This super skin is not simply a thicker, more flexible version of the touch screen on your iPhone 4S. Virtually all touch-sensitive smartphones feature transparent films that sense touch. However, these capacitive screens are only responding to the tiny electrical charge in your fingertips and do not actually know if you're touching lightly or hammering the screen.

Flexible touch screens for computers and smartphones is one obvious super skin application idea, but the Stanford researchers have larger goals. They envision future robots wearing this flexible touch and pressure-sensitive skin. From there, the next logical step is replacement of skin on people, especially burn victims or those who have lost limbs.

Learn more in the video and then give us some of your ideas for how industry could use this super skin breakthrough.

More About: artificial limbs, capacitive, ipad, iphone, robots, Science, Stanford University

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“Anonymous” Now Fighting Child Pornography

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 12:23 PM PDT

anonymous image

Anonymous, the group of high-powered hackers famous for taking down websites belonging to Bank of America and Sony, has turned its vigilante brand of online activism to child pornography sites.

The “hacktivists” are targeting web host Freedom Hosting and accusing it of knowingly hosting child pornography. This marks a shift for Anonymous, which is better known for hitting corporate and big-business sites with DDoS attacks, briefly taking over operations or scraping information.

Anonymous released a statement condemning Freedom Hosting for its alleged practices and warning all other child pornography sites to take down their materials, reports BGR.

"Our demands are simple. Remove all child pornography content from your servers,” Anonymous wrote in a statement. “Refuse to provide hosting services to any website dealing with child pornography. This statement is not just aimed at Freedom Hosting, but everyone on the internet. It does not matter who you are, if we find you to be hosting, promoting, or supporting child pornography, you will become a target."

Since the attacks began on Oct. 15, Anonymous has removed pornographic links, shut down access to all clients of Freedom Hosting and declared the web host as “#OpDarknet Enemy Number One.” You can check out the full statement from Anonymous on BGR.

Regardless if you’re a fan of Anonymous, it’s definitely better to be out of its sight. What do you think of Anonymous going after child-pornography websites instead of corporations and government? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, shaun wong

More About: anonymous, hackers, hacking, Social Media

11 Apps and Services for Sharing, Discovering and Organizing Music

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 12:08 PM PDT

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The digital music revolution might have started in the late 1990s, but in the last few years, the way that we find, share and organize music has undergone drastic changes.

Users are no longer reliant on file-sharing services to distribute tracks from person to person or device to device. Instead, thanks to subscription streaming and cloud solutions, accessing music from your laptop or home stereo is just as easy as pulling up a playlist on your phone.

Still, it can be difficult to differentiate one service or app from the next. We’ve scoured the web for eleven different apps and services that improve the experience of listening to music — as well as sharing, discovering and organizing tracks.

Streaming Services

Music streaming services are a dime a dozen — and depending on where you live, the differences between one subscription streaming service and the next is difficult to gauge.

This is especially true now that companies like MOG and Rdio have followed in Spotify’s footsteps, offering users free access to streaming music libraries on their computers.

As 2011 draws to a close, the biggest differentiating factor for streaming services isn’t the size of a library — or even price — it’s what devices the service supports.

Spotify — Before making its stateside debut, Spotify was already a big player in Europe. The service has become even more ubiquitous in recent weeks thanks to its integration with Facebook.

With apps available for every mobile platform and growing support on connected devices like the Boxee Box, Spotify is really trying to be the subscription-streaming successor to iTunes.

MOG — MOG might only be available in the U.S. (though the company hopes to expand in the future), but the service is committed to getting on as many devices and platforms as possible. In addition to appearing on devices from Sonos, Boxee and Roku, MOG has a developer API that is targeting a greater range of devices.

Rdio — Rdio is another subscription streaming service that isn’t afraid to target outside devices. Rdio was one of the first services to create dedicated apps for the Mac and iPad and it continues to target other devices and platforms.

Sony Music UnlimitedSony’s Music Unlimited is one of the few subscription streaming services with big international support.

Music Unlimited is available on Android, PS3, the PSP, Blu-ray players, Bravia TVs and through a standard web browser. The PS3 interface is particularly slick and integrates well with the other aspects of the Sony Entertainment Network.

Cloud Services and Apps

Streaming music is great — but the ability to store downloads and playlists for access from many devices is the great promise of the cloud. Cloud-based storage lockers have been around for years, but in the last six months, the idea has really started to go mainstream.

Amazon, Apple and Google are the big players here. Cloud-based services can co-exist with streaming music libraries, but the line between the two is going to continue to blur in the months and years to come.

iTunes in the Cloud — With iOS 5 and the latest version of iTunes, Apple has introduced the first major component of its cloud-based music strategy — iTunes in the Cloud.

iTunes in the Cloud is great because it lets users easily access or re-download any of their past iTunes music or TV show purchases from iTunes, Apple TV or an iOS device. For $24.99 a year, Apple will up the ante with its iTunes Match service. iTunes Match goes a step beyond iCloud and lets users upload (or if the track is already in the iTunes library “match”) their local libraries for cloud availability. iTunes Match — especially when combined with iOS 5 — is a stellar combination and will be available to the public at large later this fall.

Amazon Cloud Player — Amazon managed to get in front of both Apple and Google with its Amazon Cloud Player service for music. The Cloud Player works very much like iTunes in the Cloud in that it lets users upload tracks to a storage locker that can then be accessed from other devices.

Amazon has an official Android app but an unofficial iOS app [iTunes link] is available for $1.99. The upcoming Kindle Fire will work seamlessly with Amazon’s Cloud Player.

Google MusicGoogle Music is still in beta, but rumor has it Google will be launching the service to a wider audience soon. Right now, Google Music is more of a standard music locker than anything else — it lacks a native music store like Amazon and Apple.

Google is reportedly preparing to launch its own music service later this fall. As it stands, Google Music is available on the desktop, the browser and for Android. An unofficial iOS app [iTunes link] is available for $1.99.

Other Apps and Plugins

Of course, it’s not just music services. Music apps and utilities are great ways to discover, share and organize your tunes. Some of our favorites:

Exfm Exfm is an awesome browser extension for Chrome that turns the web into your personal music library. The recently revamped version 3.0 makes sharing a snap, and exfm boasts strong integration with SoundCloud, bandcamp, Tumblr and the Live Music Archive. It also makes it easy to save and share MP3s and playlists at your favorite websites.

The exfm iPhone app is a great tool for music curation and discovery.

SongzaSongza has been around for a long time but it recently exited beta and released an awesome iPhone app.

The service is a one-stop shop for digital mix-tapes that can be shared with friends and listened to on the go. With a great selection of hand-curated mixes from users, musicians and editors, Songza is a great way to get an instant mix for almost any activity or party.

Tomahawk — For better or worse, iTunes has long been the de facto desktop music player. Sure, there are alternatives, but most essentially do what iTunes does, but without the iTunes Music Store.

Tomahawk is different. It’s an open source, cross-platform, socially aware music player that quite simply, is awesome. With the intuitive Tomahawklet, users can turn playlists from a slew of places across the web into custom Spotify playlists that can be shared or accessed directly within the app.

Evolver.fm wrote up a great overview of the app and it is on our shortlist of desktop players to watch.

doubleTwist — Another desktop player to watch is doubleTwist. Think of doubleTwist as iTunes for Android users. The app works on Mac and PC and manages Android apps, music, videos and podcasts.

The upcoming music player in Ice Cream Sandwich looks great, but doubleTwist is available today. It lets users easily sync their iTunes playlists and podcasts with Android, including over the air. It also supports AirPlay and syncing between devices over NFC.

Your Picks

What apps and services do you use to find, share and organize your music collections? What apps can you not live without as a music fan? Let us know in the comments.

Series supported by smart

The Trendsetter Tech Series is supported by smart. Test drive the space saving, eco-friendly, totally unique, smart. Visit smartusa.com to find a new smart center near you. smart — unbig. uncar.

More About: exfm, Feature, features, google music, itunes, mashable, music-subscription-service, spotify, subscription streaming, tomahawk, Trendsetter Tech Series

Linking is Not Libel — At Least Not in Canada

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 11:57 AM PDT

megaphone image

Bloggers rejoice, eh! The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that online publications and websites cannot be charged for libel for linking to defamatory material.

The ruling found that the act of linking was distinct from publishing or repeating libel, provided the link itself was not libelous. The decision follows a case in which Wayne Crookes, a Vancouver businessman and campaign manager for B.C.’s Green Party, claimed a website defamed him by linking to a libelous article. The website’s link was titled “Free Speech in Canada,” reported the BBC.

The decision is a huge win for Internet freedom in Canada and the spread of information online, which, the judge explained, rested on the use of links:

“The internet cannot, in short, provide access to information without hyperlinks,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote in the court’s decision. “Limiting their usefulness by subjecting them to the traditional publication rule would have the effect of seriously restricting the flow of information and, as a result, freedom of expression.”

This, of course, doesn’t give bloggers and websites permission to seek out defamatory material. It does, however, protect web publishers that link to defamatory content, assuming their original content is not defamatory in its own right. In the court case, the fact that the website p2pnet.net did not reproduce any of the linked material or make any comment on the links helped clear its liability.

The U.S. has a similar law contained within the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 protects providers and users of interactive computer services which publish information provided by others. This “information” includes comments and third-party material, such as links. While state courts have handled cases similar to the Crookes case, the U.S. Supreme court has never taken an official stance on Section 230.

Should linking be considered libel? Does the decision open up a can of worms, or is it truly a win for Canadian’s freedom of expression online? Sound off in the comments, which are, incidentally, protected under Section 230.

Image courtesy of Flickr, altemark

More About: bloggers, blogging, Canada, libel, Politics, Social Media

3 Ways Content and Commerce Are Colliding In Online Retail

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 11:28 AM PDT

Lately we’ve witnessed the intersection of content and commerce, an emerging breed of retail site that features magazine-like editorials, photo spreads and inspiring video, all designed to instruct and, ultimately, sell a product.

We’ve identified three sites that best exemplify that model — sites that go beyond a side blog or other siloed content offering and thoroughly integrate content into an engaging and meaningful retail experience.

Mr Porter

Mr. Porter suggests clothing from its catalogue via a feature about iconic ’70s looks captured on film.

Arriving at Mr Porter, a high-end men’s retail site connected to online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter, feels more like opening a magazine spread than entering an online shopping destination.

That’s no accident. The site is edited by former British Esquire editor Jeremy Langmead, who works alongside other veterans in the magazine and retail industries.

Beneath the minimalist navigation is a revolving slideshow of editorial features. The articles invite you to learn how to be a great dinner guest, read up on a stylish music artist, or peer inside the carry-ons of five prominent, globe-trotting men, including polo player and Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras.

These pieces are elegantly written, formatted and, in some cases, filmed or photographed. Of course, shopping options are embedded throughout. A gallery of iconic on-screen looks from the ’70s, for instance, also showcases modern-day equivalents available for purchase on Mr Porter.

The site produces a weekly eight-article “issue” around its catalogue, in addition to an ever-expanding style directory, repository of style advice (e.g. how to match a tie knot to a shirt color), video manual and more.

The site’s editorial content is strong enough to stand on its own. Once it has you lusting after the aspirational lifestyle it so beautifully illustrates, it’s only a few clicks away to your Mr Porter shopping cart.

One Kings Lane

One Kings Lane launched in 2009 as a flash sales site for upscale home furnishings. At the beginning of the year, the company acquired design firm Helicopter, best known for launching Domino magazine.

One Kings Lane has since integrated Domino-like content into its retail offerings. A sale on bedsheets displays a video detailing how to fold fitted sheets; another sale on art prints provides instructions for hanging art “salon style.” The startup also developed “Five Rooms in Five Days,” a feature in which all of the goods on display are shoppable, says CEO Doug Mack.

Mack says the site’s content offering not only gives shoppers another reason to come back to the site each day, but also gives them the confidence to make purchases.

“In the home category there is anxiety about whether a purchase will be in good taste. We develop [instructional content] on the site to remove [shoppers'] worries that they will make a mistake,” Mack explains.

It’s a model that appears to be working: The startup currently boasts a run rate of $100 million, up from $30 million last year, says Mack. Seventy-five percent of sales are from repeat buyers.


Joyus, a women’s retail site launched early 2011 by former executives from Google and eBay, has created an integrated shopping and editorial experience using video. The site offers limited-time sales on a range of luxury apparel, beauty and home goods. Each sale is accompanied by a short infomercial — typically two to four minutes — in which a guest contributor gives an overview of the product and its uses.

The infomercials are particularly useful for marketing merchandise shoppers may not be inherently familiar with, for instance, Tatcha beauty papers, which claim to remove excess oil and prevent breakouts. For Tatcha, Joyus brought in professional makeup artist Matthew Van Leeuwen to demonstrate the papers to visitors unconvinced whether they needed to have this product in their cosmetics bags.

The videos aren’t just beneficial for discovery; they’re also prompting users to buy. According to co-founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, sales are more successful when viewers watch between 2.5 to 3.5 minutes of video on the site.

Runners Up

Beyond the three startups cited above, we also admire the way fashion brand Kate Spade has begun integrating content into its online catalogue, as well as new editorial offerings from flash sales sites Gilt Home and Gilt Taste.

Although the content of the latter two is of good quality, Gilt has visibly allocated less resources into developing site content than the examples outlined above. We also feel, particularly on Gilt Taste, that the existing content tends to sit alongside, rather than integrated into, its ecommerce element.

Likewise, we think Kate Spade would benefit by further integrating its catalogue and editorial to create, for example, shoppable photo and video shoots, rather than ping-ponging users back and forth between the separate content and commerce sections of its site.

Meanwhile, magazines are integrating ecommerce into their websites. As both models evolve, it will be interesting to see where the line between online magazines and editorially enhanced online retail is drawn.

We’ll be taking a further look at these trends at Mashable’s Media Summit on Nov. 4, where I’ll be moderating a panel with Esquire’s editor in chief David Granger, Gilt Groupe’s Alexis Maybank and Maureen Mullen of research advisory L2.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: content and commerce, ecommerce, fashion, features, mashable media summit, Media, retail

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The Evolution of the iPod [PICS]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 11:00 AM PDT

Oct. 23, 2001: The iPod

The very first iPod launched with "1,000 songs in your pocket."

It had 5GB of storage space, weighed 6.5 ounces, featured a 160 x 128 pixel display and FireWire connectivity and cost $399.

Click here to view this gallery.

Since its debut in 2001, the Apple iPod has evolved from the seminal white box with a mechanical scroll wheel to, ultimately, a sleek touchscreen multimedia device.

Over the years the various versions of the iPod have gotten smaller/larger and more colorful, they’ve lost buttons and gained them, have added cameras, speakers, radio, accelerometers and more. The only thing that hasn’t changed appears to be the enduring popularity of the devices.

Join us on a look back through the last 10 years of the iPod. Let us know in the comments below which models you’ve owned — and which were your favorites.

Thumbnail image courtesy of 37prime

More About: apple, features, gallery, history, ipod, Tech, trending

Amazon Embraces HTML5 for New Ebooks

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 10:24 AM PDT

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Amazon is gearing up to introduce a new, HTML5-based ebook format called Kindle Format 8, the company announced Friday.

KF8 is an improvement over the current Mobi 7 standard, with new features that allow publishers to create richer formats and add more advanced design elements. The emphasis on visuals will play well on tablets and advanced ereaders. Amazon touted KF8′s ability to produce better childrens picture books, comics and graphic novels.

The new format is currently limited to Amazon’s newest device, the Kindle Fire. The rest of Amazon’s readers and tablets will get full KF8 functionality in the coming months.

The HTML5-based ebook format is clearly moving in on Apple’s hold of the tablet market, which famously dropped support for Flash in favor of HTML5 elements. However, despite Apple’s preference for HTML5, it has yet to add HTML5 support to its iBooks publishing system, reports Apple Insider.

Amazon’s line of Kindles were the top ereaders, but quickly lost ground with the introduction of Apple’s iPad and a slew of high-tech, tablet competitors. The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s first shot at making a tablet device. It will need more than advanced graphics and HTML5 formats to dominate the top position.

Is KF8 big news or was an HTML5-based format inevitable for Amazon? Can the Kindle Fire beat the iPad? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Raccatography

More About: amazon, ebooks, ereaders, HTML5, Kindle

Web Cams Will Stream Live Views From the Top of the Statue of Liberty

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 09:59 AM PDT

The Statue of Liberty will turn on four live streaming web cams Friday in celebration of her 125th birthday anniversary.

Four Torch Cams inside the flame will stream live views of Ellis Island, Governors Island, Liberty Island and the Freedom Tower, via World Webcams and will be available to the public at MyWorldWebcams.com.

The 151-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World, was a gift from France to the United States on Oct. 28, 1886, to mark the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The national monument is a symbol of freedom, democracy and the friendship formed between France and the U.S. during the American Revolution.

The live streams will bring a new experience of Liberty Island to the millions of visitors who travel to the national monument each year. For people who want to experience a view of the statue — rather than from the statue looking out — other live streams already provide that, including this one in Brooklyn.

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The Atlantic Posts Ad Gains in Both Digital and Print

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 09:39 AM PDT

Bucking a trend beleaguering the rest of the media industry, The Atlantic disclosed Monday that both digital and print advertising revenues were up in the third quarter.

Overall ad revenues increased 19% compared to the same period last year. Digital ad revenue was up a full 41% and print increased 3%. The latter figure might seem unimpressive until you consider that print revenues were down 10.4% at the New York Times Company in the same quarter. The newspaper’s new digital paywall, however, did help it turn a profit in the third quarter.

Jay Lauf, VP and publisher of The Atlantic, said the publication is finally starting to see significant revenue from mobile advertising as well. Ads for its iPhone and iPad apps accounted for 2% of overall digital ad revenue in the third quarter, a figure Lauf expects to increase in 2012.

Unique visitor traffic on its three web-based properties, TheAtlantic.com, TheAtlanticWire.com and the recently launched TheAtlanticCities.com is up to 10 million per month, more than double the number of visitors it was bringing in on average a year ago.

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More About: Advertising, Media

3 Innovative Ways Non-Profits Are Leveraging Blogs

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 09:20 AM PDT

The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, that makes a full platform of marketing software, including lead generation tools.

blogger hands imageIf you’re a non-profit, you’re using every imaginable network to get your message out. Amidst all the fancy new social tools with silly names, it’s possible to lose sight of the traditional blog as an effective channel.

Most non-profit websites have some blog components — posting updates, news, photos, videos, etc. — to keep their fans informed. We dug a little deeper and found some unique ways that non-profits are sharing content.

1. Blog Action Day

blog action day image

Blog Action Day takes the adage “two heads are better than one” and applies it to digital updates. Blog Action Day is an annual event in October for which major blogs and everyday bloggers come together to write about and spread awareness about important issues. Mashable has participated in Blog Action Day, even writing up a story on last year’s theme, Water.

The event has attracted major companies and blogs including Oxfam, the Guardian and Tumblr.

2. charity: water

Following the water theme, charity: water has put its blog front and center with the launch of Dollars to Projects, an initiative to match up every donated dollar with a real world action. Charity: water wanted to fight the feeling that donations just fed into a vat of pooled money. Instead, Dollars to Projects accounts for every donated dollar by providing donors with photos, video and text updates detailing how their money is being used.

"Water is provable — you can know that you solved the problem and saved people's lives," said founder and CEO Scott Harrison during Mashable‘s Social Good Summit. Harrison said that charity: water receives 73% of its donations online.

3. Reports and Interactive Maps

harassmap image

Some non-profits like Invisible Children and HarassMap are turning their blogs and websites into social tools. Invisible Children, a non-profit seeking to end violent conflict in Uganda, created an LRA Crisis Tracker to plot out where violent attacks are taking place in Uganda, but also to provide a constant stream of news and updates about the violence in the area. It’s a bit of a hybrid between an interactive map and a blog, but one that helps Invisible Children achieve its mission.

HarassMap is a similar idea from a group of Egyptian women sick of the harassment and abuse of women in Egypt. The map, like the Crisis Tracker, show where attacks take place along with sections for submitting reports and finding help.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Fikra

Series supported by HubSpot

The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, that makes a full platform of marketing software, including lead generation tools.

More About: blog, Digital Marketing Series, features, mashable, non-profits, Social Good

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Siri Co-Founder Leaves Apple [REPORT]

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 09:07 AM PDT

Siri co-founder and CEO Dag Kittlaus has left Apple — just 12 days after the virtual assistant launched with the iPhone 4S and became an overnight phenomenon.

Kittlaus, sources told All Things D, had been planning a departure from Apple for a while due to a desire to take time off, be closer to family and brainstorm new ideas.

He and his co-founders Adam Cheyer and Tom Gruber spun Siri out of a project by non-profit R&D institute SRI International in 2008. SRI International had been asked by the Department of Defense’s innovation arm, DARPA, to create an "enduring personalized cognitive assistant," which inspired the consumer-branded product. Apple acquired the company in April 2010.

Since the acquisition, Kittlaus has led Siri and speech recognition teams at Apple.

Kittlaus left just after the launch of the iPhone 4S on “amicable” terms, according to All Things D. Both other co-founders remain at Apple, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

BONUS: iPhone 4S Product Details

iPhone 4S

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, iOS, iphone, siri

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