Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “Duqu Virus Tied to Microsoft Windows Bug”

Mashable: Latest 26 News Updates - including “Duqu Virus Tied to Microsoft Windows Bug”

Duqu Virus Tied to Microsoft Windows Bug

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 01:31 AM PDT

Hackers have used a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system to infect computers with the the Duqu virus, Microsoft has admitted.

"We are working diligently to address this issue and will release a security update for customers," Microsoft said in a statement.

The Duqu virus, which was discovered in October by Symantec, is thought by some experts to be the next big cyber security threat. It shares some of the code with Stuxnet, a malicious worm which targeted Iran’s nuclear program, but Duqu is specifically created for gathering intelligence data from agencies and corporations.

Microsoft’s statement did not include any additional details, but Symantec discovered that Duqu was initially infecting systems through a compromised Microsoft Word document which installs the malicious software after it’s opened.

Duqu infections have currently been confirmed in several countries, including France, Netherlands, Switzerland, India, Iran, Ukraine, Sudan and Vietnam.

[via Reuters, Symantec]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, goldmund

More About: Duqu, microsoft, virus

No Time to Buy Toothpaste? Hoseanna Offers Subscriptions to Staple Items

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 07:55 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: Hoseanna

Quick Pitch: Customized subscriptions to staple items such as Pantyhose, tampons and deodorant.

Genius Idea: Marrying a subscription service with practical products to save women time.

Even women who fit the shopohalic stereotype are unlikely to find much thrill in a deodorant purchase. The same goes for the pantyhose, tampons, condoms and beauty products that they keep stocked. Instead of taking time from their days to purchase these items, Hoseanna gives women the option to have them automatically shipped to their homes every two or three months.

Subscription products for women aren’t a new idea, but the company that popularized it, Birchbox, focuses on samples of high-end beauty products. Birchbox is more about fun than practicality.

"We're not fashion, we're not luxury,” says Hoseanna co-founder Tracey Solomon. “Our luxury, if you will, is convenience."

Solomon and her co-founder Katrina Carroll-Foster, who went to the same Canadian high school together, both have a history of demanding jobs that limit their time more than their discretionary spending. Like an increasing number of women, they’re likely to pay for the convenience of services like Fresh Direct, laundry delivery and dog walkers.

Companies such as have already tapped into this trend by offering delivery on household products and cosmetics. Hoseanna has taken it a step further by adding a Birchbox-like subscription model.

Hoseanna customers can either buy items for just one time, or set a delivery schedule for individual products on a two- or three-month schedule. They receive a confirmation e-mail ten days before each shipment so that they have time to cancel, and their credit cards aren’t charged until the box ships.

The New York City-based startup has been shipping since August 2011, when it launched in private with just Pantyhose. Even though it ended up being one of the hottest sumemrs on record and few women were wearing pantyhose, sales were high enough to encourage the co-founders to add other products.

Aside from shipping fees on orders less than $30, there’s no charge for using the service. Hoseanna’s profits are baked into the price of its products — just like a brick and mortar store. Solomon says that the startup has been doubling its number of sales every month since it expanded beyond Panythose in August. Because the company is just getting started and won’t talk specifics, however, it’s hard to say whether this is an impressive as it sounds.

If the company does indeed sustain its traction, it will be proving the effectiveness of a mantra that could easily carry over into other genres of products:

“We want to give women back five minutes of their days," Solomon says.

Image courtesy of Flickr, sparkieblues

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: Birchbox, bizspark, hoseanna

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GarageBand Makes its Way to the iPhone

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 07:14 PM PDT

Apple has updated its GarageBand for iOS app to support the iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple released GarageBand for iPad back in March, coinciding with the launch of the iPad 2. GarageBand for iOS 1.1 [iTunes link] adds support for smaller devices as well as a few new features and tweaks.

If you already own GarageBand for iPad, you can download the iPhone or iPod touch version for free. The interface is now optimized to use the smaller screen of the iPhone or iPod touch, but the app is largely the same from a functionality standpoint.

This is a good thing. GarageBand for iOS is a tremendous accomplishment. Apple has managed to take many of the best parts of the GarageBand for Mac app and bring them to touch screen devices. Plus, using the headphone jack on your iPhone or iPad, you can plug in an electric guitar into a device and use the app as an amp.

You can mix up to eight tracks together and as we’ve seen in the past, the results are quite stunning.

In addition to iPhone and iPod touch support, GarageBand 1.1 also includes:

  • Support for 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures
  • Ability to set export settings at AAC or export uncompressed as AIFF files
  • Adjustable velocity settings for touch instruments
  • Custom chords for Smart Instruments

GarageBand for iOS is $4.99 and available in the App Store. If you make a cool song, share it with us in the comments!

More About: apple, GarageBand, garageband for iphone, iOS apps, trending

Power Your Macbook, iPad and iPhone with One Charger [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 06:12 PM PDT

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

The gang at Twelve South, the company responsible for iPhone cases like the BookBook and stands for the iPad and MacBook Pro, has just unveiled their newest creation, an ingenious iPad/iPhone charger that seamlessly connects to a standard MacBook Air or MacBook Pro AC adapter.

Twelve South sent us a sample unit, dubbed the PlugBug and we’re in love.

It’s a simple idea with a winning premise of helping frequent travelers or those cramped for outlet space eliminate the need to carry a MacBook charger and a separate charger for a phone or iPad.

Here’s how it works: Attach the PlugBug to the normal duck cover on any MagSafe power brick (which includes the MacBook, MacBook Pro and Macbook Air). The PlugBug contains a two prong outlet and its own powered 10w USB port. What this means is that you can charge your iPhone or iPad without having to plug it into your laptop, all while also charging your laptop battery.

Why is this better than just using the USB port on your Mac to charge your device? Well, the reason is twofold:

First: That takes up an extra USB port. If you are using a MacBook Air, that might mean the device has to vie for space with other components.

Second: It can take a lot more time to charge an iPad via your MacBook or MacBook Pro than through a wall connection. In fact, if your USB port isn’t powered, charging the iPad can take a ton of time.

Third: For business travelers, this eliminates the need to pack the external phone or iPad charger alongside the laptop charger.

At $34.95, this is a slick and relatively cheap device. It also doubles as a standard iPad charger — and considering Apple sells those for $29.99 (granted, the Apple model also includes a 6′ extension cord), we think this is a good deal.

What I really like about this device is that it is styled to match the look and feel of the regular Apple adapter. Aside from its red cover, you would think this was a regular Apple dongle. It fits on the power port without adding much bulk, and the extra functionality of a powered USB port is great.

More About: accessories, plugbug, twelve south, viral-video-of-day

iPhone 4S Makes Its Debut in Hong Kong & 14 Countries November 11

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 05:20 PM PDT

Apple has announced that the iPhone 4S will make its debut in Hong Kong and 14 other countries on November 11.

In addition to Hong Kong, the new iPhone will make its debut on the same day in Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania and South Korea. The device will be available for pre-order in most of these countries on November 4.

The iPhone 4S is already available in 29 countries, but Apple promises that 70 countries will have the phone by the end of the year.

Apple is looking to do more to tap into the massive Chinese market. Currently only one service provider, China Unicom, officially has the phone, but Apple is hoping to strike a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier. 9.5 million people already use the iPhone on China Mobile, despite the fact that China Mobile’s network doesn’t currently support 3G for the iPhone.

Apple also has yet to translate Siri, the flagship feature of the iPhone 4S, for Catonese and Mandarin.

More About: apple, iOS, iPhone 4S

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Social Thievery: Will Your Tweets Get You Robbed? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 04:46 PM PDT

burglar image

Social networks are an information gateway that allow people to share and connect in ways that were never previously possible. They can also be a pretty clever way to rob your neighbors.

Burglars are starting to realize the criminal possibilities of social media. For example, Foursquare or Facebook can show when somebody is away from their home or traveling for the weekend. What better time to ransack when your victim is in Aruba? Credit Sesame, a personal finance tool and website, conducted a survey of 50 ex-burglars in the UK Nearly 80% of them said they had used Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to target which properties to rob. Another 73% said they used Google Street View to scope out neighborhoods ahead of time.

Of course, the pendulum swings both ways. Home owners are getting crafty by using webcams and posting images to social networks to help identify criminals. There are also stories of busted computer criminals that were caught by remote picture-taking software.

The sample-size of the study may be small, but the high numbers do give some indication of the way social media can be used for ill intents.

Take a look at the infographic below, which has some of the dangers and solutions to creating a “socially safe” environment. Are fears about social media security entirely overblown are does it possess real danger? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

burglar infographic

Image courtesy of Flickr, Amber Grundy

More About: infographics, privacy, security, trending

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20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week [CHART]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 03:52 PM PDT

It’s no secret that Americans enjoy using social media while they watch TV. But which shows are accumulating the most social buzz this season?

We thought it time to break down the stats in a new weekly chart. The best part? These charts dish the dirt — that is, a scale of positive sentiment. For instance, this week’s most socially influential cable show, Project Runway, saw a 62% increase in network chatter. Dare we say it was due to designer Anya’s controversial win?

The data below is compliments of our friends at Trendrr, who measure specific TV show activity (mentions, likes, checkins) across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Miso. To see daily rankings, check out Trendrr.TV

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

More About: Facebook, features, getglue, miso, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, TV, Twitter

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Miami Heat Owner Fined $500,000 for Tweets

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 02:45 PM PDT

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison has been fined $500,000 for venting on Twitter about the NBA lockout.

The fine — believed to be the largest ever levied against an owner by the NBA — came after Arison responded to a fan’s tweet. That original message read: “How’s it feel to be a part [sic] of ruining the best game in the world? NBA owners/players don’t give a damn about fans&and guess what? Fans provide all the money you’re fighting over&you greedy [expletive] pigs.”

In response, Arison tweeted that the fan was “barking at the wrong owner,” a reference to the divide between NBA chiefs, according to Yahoo Sports. Arison deleted the tweet an hour after he sent it Monday, but it still caught the league’s attention.

The NBA has barred team owners and coaches from discussing the lockout or any players during the work stoppage. Coaches and general managers also $1 million fine and a possible loss of draft picks for retweeting any players during the lockout.

Arison is now the third owner the NBA has fined. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis got a $100,000 fine last year for comments about possible changes to the league’s salary cap. Michael Jordan, owner of the Bobcats, also got a $100,000 fine for comments he made in August about the lockout.

Players are under no such constraint and several, including Oklahoma City Thunder reserve center Nazr Mohammed, Detroit Pistons forward Tracy McGrady and Kyrie Irving, the top pick in the June amateur draft, have been using Twitter to express their discontent.

More About: Miami Heat, Micky Arison, NBA Lockout, Twitter

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Thanks to Mashable’s Supporting Event Partners

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 02:12 PM PDT

Thanks to our partners who have contributed to the success of Mashable events! We’re always interested in collaborating with organizations on events, so contact us for more information about partnerships or sponsorship opportunities.

New York Women in Communications, Inc. is the premier organization for communications professionals in the New York metropolitan area. The membership represents all facets of the communications industry, including print, broadcast and online journalism, public relations, marketing, corporate communications, advertising, digital media and book publishing. Membership is made up of students, professionals at entry levels, mid-career stages and top management, as well as growing numbers of entrepreneurs.

New York Women in Communications Foundation presents their 2011 Student Communications Career Conference. This year’s theme is: “Build Your Career Toolkit: Get the Expert Advice You Need to Succeed” Featuring Keynote Speaker, Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen magazine.

Register here.

GarysGuide is the #1 Business Events Calendar in the world covering Technology, Media, Finance, Healthcare, Legal, Biotech, Cleantech & other events and listing a comprehensive collection of conferences, un-conferences, forums, workshops, seminars, meetups, tweetups, mixers, parties and more.

Guest of a Guest New York covers the People, Places & Parties of Gotham; from the ballrooms of the Upper East Side to the barrooms of Downtown and all the hotspots in between. So come along for the ride and be the guest of a guest as we bring you the pulse of the city that never sleeps.

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) is an open forum where the best and brightest from every avenue of advertising gather to exchange ideas and research strategies. Together, we challenge conventional maxims, take on the latest issues, and discover new insights that benefit us all. This collaboration yields something invaluable: knowledge. Knowledge that is meaningful, actionable, and indispensable. Knowledge that empowers our members to have a true impact on their marketing programs and their organizations. Knowledge that changes perspective and changes the game.

Since 1936, our goal has been to lead our industry forward. As an open-minded, unbiased environment, free of partisan interests, The ARF facilitates a smarter, stronger, and more effective advertising community.

Girls in Tech (GIT) is a social network enterprise focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology. As young women with the capacity to inspire, we made it our personal desire and passion to create and sustain an organization that focuses on the collaboration, promotion, growth and success of women in the technology sector.

The Community Managers Meetup is a place for community builders to connect and learn from one another. The meetup is open to NYC-area community managers, social strategists, social media marketers, and others working to build community online or off. We’re hoping to bring community managers together to share what they are learning and gather some best-practices while strengthening relationships between professionals in the space.

ad:tech is an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition. Get ready for THE event for digital marketers! ad:tech New York starts November 8-10,2011. Discover the latest innovations in social media, mobile, search, e-mail, location-based marketing and much more. Find hundreds of the hottest digital marketing and advertising companies to network with and learn from. Use special code ADNY11MASHABLE to get $200 off a full conference pass. Just want to check out the expo? Use code ADNY11FPEKM for your free expo pass.

Register here.

Gorkana is the media database and portal for PRs and journalists. Gorkana UK, Gorkana U.S. and Gorkana EU provide a range of products and services to PRs and journalists to help them communicate with each other more effectively. is a global conference directory where you can find conferences, conventions, trade shows, exhibits, and events in any line of business or Interest occurring anywhere in the world.

From specialized scientific, medical and academic conferences to business and association meetings worldwide spanning all interests, provides something for everyone.

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Robot Invasion: Toyota Unveils Four Healthcare “Assistants” [PICS]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 02:03 PM PDT

Toyota unveiled four robots designed to accomplish ambitious objectives at a Tokyo event Tuesday: Help paralyzed patients walk or balance and help their caretakers gently transport them between locations. The company hopes to commercialize the products sometime after 2013.

One of Toyota’s new robots guides patients’ strides when sensors detect the intention to walk. The Walk Training Assist robot, shown at right, mounts onto a paralyzed leg and detects movement of the hips through sensors at the thigh and foot. It helps the knee swing forward and the leg move forward to facilitate walking.

Toyota also released the Independent Walk Assist, pictured at left, designed for walking training. In addition to guiding the leg to bend and move forward, the robot can support a patient’s weight. As the patient improves, it can be adjusted to progressively support less weight. The machine also monitors metrics such as joint angels so physicians can more easily track a patient’s progress.

The third product Toyota demoed Tuesday is also designed for rehabilitation training. The Balance Training Assist, pictured below, is a two-wheeled balancing game that looks something like a Segway. The machine displays one of three games (tennis, soccer or basketball) on a monitor and the patient makes moves in the game by shifting his or her weight on the robot.

Unlike its other new robots, the fourth robot at Toyota’s showcase is intended to assist caregivers as well as care recipients. The Patient Transfer Assist, shown at bottom, has weight-supporting arms and a mobile platform that helps move a patient, for instance, from bed to the toilet and back. A Toyota spokesperson said the machine is intentded to be gentle and create an experience similar to being carried by a person.

All four machines were developed in collaboration with Fujita Health University Hospital in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, which provided feedback on the needs of specialized medical facilities to incorporate in the robots’ designs.

While healthcare might not be the first industry consumers associate with Toyota, the company has been running a robotics department since 2005, when it started the “Partner Robot Division,” which it first announced publicly in 2007. The division, which employs about 200 people, concentrates on robot-based solutions for medical, manufacturing, short-distance personal transport and domestic chore problems. In the past, it has produced robots that play music or provide personal transportation.

Toyota isn’t the only company in the automotive industry making such investments. Honda, for instance, has created a robot called Asimo that can walk and dance like a human. It used technologies created during Asimo’s development to make a walking assist device that performs a similar function to Toyota’s newly unveiled independent Walk Assist robot.

Toyota Patient Transfer Assist

Images courtesy of Toyota

More About: healthcare, robots, Toyota

Why Amazon Had Cloud Music App Pulled From the App Store

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 01:32 PM PDT

It turns out Apple wasn’t responsible for the disappearance of the Amazon Cloud Player app aMusic from the App Store. The app was removed at Amazon’s request.

When the app, an unofficial iOS client for Amazon’s Cloud Player service, disappeared from the App Store due to “legal reasons,” many assumed that the request came at the behest of Apple or the record labels.

After speaking with James Clancey, developer of aMusic (and its Google Music counterpart, gMusic), the reality of the situation is a bit different.

“aMusic was actually pulled by me at the request of Amazon, not Apple. Apple never seemed to have a problem with aMusic,” Clancey says.

The reason for the removal? Clancey says Amazon hasn’t signed all the agreements that it needs to allow its API for Cloud Player to be used by third-party vendors. Amazon is in the process of getting those agreements signed, he says. Presumably, aMusic will return to the App Store as soon as that process is complete.

“Amazon really has been great. I never thought I would be happy and feel good about taking an app down after talking to lawyer,” Clancey says.

We also asked him if Google had contacted him about using the Google APIs in his app. As of now, Google has yet to reach out to Clancey, who classifies Google’s position of “general[ly] seem[ing] to be OK with third-party apps.”

Assuming Google doesn’t have any third-party provisions impacting the use of the Google Music APIs by third parties, the app should remain in the App Store.

Digital Music Licensing in a Cloud Age

The situation with aMusic, an app that uses Amazon APIs but in a way that Amazon hasn’t legally guaranteed, underscores the potential landmines when dealing with cloud-based music services.

Having an API is an essential component for any modern web service — because allowing third parties to extend that API is a great way for the underlying service to grow. Where it becomes more complex is when parts of the data within the API have their own set of licensing or distribution agreements.

Subscription streaming services like MOG, Rdio and Spotify have also dealt with balancing the need for an API with complying with the licensing and distribution agreements signed with the record labels.

With a subscription service, API access is often limited to certain tiers of users — meaning that in-app streaming via a third party is only possible for Spotify Pro members. With storage-based services like the Amazon Cloud Player, the provisions become a bit more tricky.

Apple is still rolling out its iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match services, but it will be interesting to find out what ways developers will be able to use the iCloud API and data (including that stored within iCloud) in their own apps.

More About: Amazon Cloud Player, amusic, iphone apps

Gmail Changes Again: Google Rolls Out New Look

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 01:10 PM PDT

The new-look Gmail that Google accidentally told us about last week is now rolling out to all users.

The changes, officially announced in a blog post Tuesday, allow Gmail users much more control over the look of the service. You can drag sidebars around to your preferred size and width, choose from a wider selection of high-resolution background pictures, and decide whether you want lots of email on your screen or more white space between mails. (Your choice of email density is between “Comfortable,” “Cozy” and “Compact.”)

Heavy Gmail users will also be pleased to learn that there’s a new search function — that is, you can now access Advanced Search by clicking on the search bar. Conversations have been condensed, and profile pictures added.

These are more features than Google offered in its sneak peek of the new Gmail, which started in July. Here’s the video about the new features Google mistakenly made public last week:

For now, at least, the new features will be opt-in — and not all of us will be able to access them immediately. “If you like what you see, over the next few days you'll be able to switch to the new look by clicking on Switch to the new look in the bottom-right of Gmail,” writes Google user experience designer Jason Cornwell.

So do you like what you see? Will you be switching? Or is Google messing around too much with a good thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: gmail, Google, Top Stories, trending

9 Tips for Raising Startup Funds on AngelList

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 12:57 PM PDT

Joshua Baer is the co-founder and CEO of Otherinbox, a prolific angel investor and the director of Capital Factory, Austin's seed-stage incubator. He founded SKYLIST in 1996 from his college dorm room at Carnegie Mellon, and created UnsubCentral in 2004. You can follow Joshua on Twitter @joshuabaer.

AngelList is an online community that matches startups with investors to streamline the fundraising process.

I’ve personally raised $1 million from AngelList for my startup, and have helped dozens of other startups raise $3 million more. I’ve referred more than 20 startups to AngelList, vouched for a dozen other investors and am ranked as one of the top connectors on the site.

Try a similar strategy by adhering to the following steps.

1. Make It Easy for Investors To Write Checks

AngelList is brilliantly designed to make it easy for investors to write checks to entrepreneurs.

Naval and Nivi, the founders of AngelList, took the very best social mechanics from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to create a “social proof” that ultimately makes investors comfortable writing checks.

  • Every startup, entrepreneur and investor has a profile similar to a Facebook profile.
  • Your startup has followers like Twitter, and you can make introductions like on LinkedIn.
  • Others can comment on your profile, similar to writing on a Facebook wall.
  • You have a status like Twitter, and when you update it, a notification is sent to all of your followers.
  • Facebook notifies you when a friend is tagged in a photo; AngelList notifies you when a new investor joins a startup that you follow.

2. Start with the Basics

Create a profile and mark it private. Think of this as your executive summary or one-pager. Use the same tone and style as you would with an investor deck or executive summary. Don’t just fill out a few sentences; take a few hours and really polish it up. Don’t leave any section blank. A good AngelList profile doesn’t fit on one page.

Include numbers. Don’t say "100K," say "100,000." If you can name drop big customers, do that too — you want your profile to look impressive.

Focus on traction. How many customers have signed up to your service? How many have been active in the past 30 days? What is your viral coefficient?

Include screenshots of your product, a video walk-through and one or two charts that display traction or revenue. If you have a good video pitch, include that too.

Don’t focus on press. Nobody cares that you got covered in TechCrunch, or that The New York Times blog picked up your press release.

3. Find a Good Referrer

Under the “referrer” field on AngelList, you may only list one person. Supposedly, you're meant to include the person who referred you to AngelList, but you have a bit of liberty here. After all, this is the person who is vouching for you – make it count.

4. Shop It Around to People You Already Know

Add any existing investors or advisers. In general, more is better, but it is possible to have too many. Therefore, only add people who are significant. A good target is two or three advisers who are very relevant to your business.

Be careful when listing an investor as an advisor. Most other investors will immediately wonder, “Why didn’t he invest?”

Ask all of the investors you already know to click and request an intro. A good target is to get up to 10 introductions. People are happy to do this — but you have to take the initiative first.

Ask investors and advisers you trust to leave a positive comment. I would focus on comments from investors, not necessarily other entrepreneurs. A good target is three comments.

Do not create fake intros. People will notice, and it will reflect poorly on you.

5. Use Your AngelList Profile as Your Executive Summary

When someone asks to see your executive summary — or even your deck — send them a link to your AngelList profile instead. “See my executive summary online at”

You want investors to go to the AngelList profile instead of passing around your clunky PDF. The AngelList profile never gets stale because you're able to constantly update the different fields, and your profile will update as new investors come on.

You want investors to go to your AngelList profile because it increases the likelihood that they will interact with it – they can follow you, add an intro or leave a comment. All of these actions increase counters that mark your profile as a hot or trending company. Bottom line, if you're talking to investors, you want to “get credit for it” on your AngelList profile.

When you’re done fundraising, you have the option to “turn off” your profile. Most people won’t have saved their own copy. If you really want to be tight-lipped, lock down most of your profile and choose individuals to share with. Then, even if someone leaks your link, most information won't display to others.

6. Be Responsive

When an investor asks for an intro, try to follow up within hours. Like any “lead,” being fast to respond significantly increases your closing rate.

Ready a form letter to personalize and send. Don’t make it sound like a form letter, however, but have your reply and supporting documents ready to go.

I use a service like Tout to manage my email templates for quickly replies. Here are some valuable templates you can use.

7. Look for Your Lead Investor

Resist the urge to send out a blast. First you'll want to find a lead investor — someone many other investors will recognize and respect. This list of top angel investors is a good start. But look beyond this list as well — search on AngelList for investors who have made more than one investment in your space in the past 12 months, and who bring some of their own relevant experience.

Many angel investors will be significantly more comfortable if they know another respected investor has blessed the deal. Also, most leads will have their own network of co-investors with whom they can share the deal, but make sure to ask that they share on AngelList too.

I’ve seen successful blasting work fine for more than one startup, but the best way to stack all the cards in your favor is to line up the lead first.

8. Fill Out the Round

Once you have your lead, now it's time to open up the floodgates and get your profile in front of more investors.

Start by searching AngelList by market and geography. For example, search for investors who are interested in mobile and also are willing to invest in Austin, Texas. You'll find 590 of them!

Also, request an intro with anyone who follows your investors, advisors or referrer.

If you don't see the "request an intro" button for someone, ask investors you know to “share” the deal with them. It's always best to meet someone through a trusted, third party.

As a last resort, reach out to them elsewhere. Try LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. When you make contact, send them a link to your AngelList profile early on in the conversation.

The hottest and best startups get pushed out to all of the AngelList investors by the team that runs AngelList. The best way to get their attention is to follow the other steps I outline above. They will notice when your startup starts “trending,” gaining introductions and comments.

9. Keep Your Profile Active and Up-to-Date

Consistently use and update your profile. Don't let it die, or rust from inactivity.

Think of this as your investor communication. Update your status with Twitter-like short messages to announce progress. Also, update after raising money (like you would keep LinkedIn current, even when you’re not searching for a job). That way, when you're looking to raise another round, your AngelList profile is ready to go with all of the social proof built in from your previous round.

Special thanks to Matt Mireles, Taylor Brooks, Mike Fisher and Bill Boebel for helping with this post.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RBFried

More About: angel investors, angellist, Business, contributor, features, investment, startup funding

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Behind the Tweets: New Twitter Site Reveals Users’ Stories

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 12:25 PM PDT

Twitter unveiled a collection of Twitter Stories Monday designed to remind users “of the humanity behind Tweets that make the world smaller.”

There are currently just under 20 short vignettes gathered at And these vignettes are indeed short: between 100 and 150 words in most cases, fitting for a service known for imposing a 140-character limit on all posts.

There’s a heartwarming story about a man who saved his mother’s bookstore and another about movie critic Roger Ebert’s use of the service after he lost his voice. One user got a much-needed organ donation after sending this tweet: “sh*t, I need a kidney.” Brands such as Burberry are represented as well.

Twitter Stories appears to be a shorter, more beautifully produced version of Twitter Tales, a project Twitter rolled out in August 2010. Why the company felt compelled to launch a separate product under a similar name rather than revise the first isn’t immediately clear. We’ve reached out to Twitter and will update this post with further information.

More About: trending, Twitter, twitter stories

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Google GoMo Helps Businesses Go Mobile

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 11:59 AM PDT

Acknowledging that having a mobile presence is trickier than it appears, Google launched an initiative called “GoMo” Tuesday that aims to help businesses work out the kinks involved in going mobile.

As Jesse Haines, group marketing manager for Google’s mobile ads, explains in the Google Mobile Ads Blog, GoMo (short for “go mobile”) is designed to help businesses that have set up a mobile presence but find it’s not working as well as it should. In Haines’s example, a company that sells scarves attracts a prospective customer, but that customer is repelled by a site that doesn’t work properly.

“This happens hundreds, even thousands of times every day because most businesses' websites don't work well on smartphones,” she says. The post directs readers to HowToGoMo, which includes a view of how your site looks “in mobile” as well as resources to help build your site. The latter includes links to select vendors and lets the visitor qualify themselves as DIYers by the amount they plan to spend and the time frame in which they intend to build their mobile site.

For Google, the goal is to further grow its mobile ad business, which is on a $2.5 billion run rate this year vs. $1 billion last year. Google also expanded its mobile ad formats last month. As usual, Google has included a cute video in its blog post to explain what it’s up to:

More About: Google, Mobile, Small Business, trending

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How to Maximize Your Home Office Tax Deductions

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Nellie Akalp is CEO of Since forming more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S., she has built a strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business the right way. To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly, visit here or “Like” on Facebook.

Red flag and IRS — two things you never want to see in the same sentence. If you're self-employed or have a small business, chances are somewhere along the way, you've been told that deducting a portion of your housing costs will be a red flag for an audit.

However, this isn't necessarily the case. And if you legitimately qualify for the home office deduction, there's no reason to avoid it. After all, the typical home office deduction will run into the thousands of dollars. It's substantial and well worth the effort (far more so than scouring your car for a missing receipt for printer ink).

So, how can you make sure you can take as much of a deduction that's allowed to you, while minimizing your chance of an audit? The key is knowing (and following) the rules. According to the IRS (Publication 587), "To qualify to deduct expenses for business use of your home, you must use part of your home:

  • Exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business
  • Exclusively and regularly as a place where you meet or deal with patients, clients, or customers in the normal course of your trade or business"

Decoding the Elusive “Exclusive Use”

The word “exclusive” shows up frequently in the IRS definition of a deductible home office. If you use any portion of your home exclusively for business purposes, you're entitled to claim a home office deduction for that space. But just what does "exclusive" mean? In short, it's a space that you use solely for your business, and nothing else. For example…

  • If you have a blogging business and do the bulk of your writing at the dining room table, you can't take any deduction for the dining room if you ever eat there, host dinner parties, or use the dining room for anything else other than your blog.
  • Let's say you're a freelance application developer and have set aside a desk for your workstation and server in the bedroom. You can deduct the area around your desk as your exclusive work space (assuming this space is used only for your business).

Of course, the above examples are rather straightforward and we all know that tax matters are rarely cut and dry when it comes to your business.

For example, let's say you're a self-employed designer and rent a studio outside your home. But occasionally, you invite potential clients to your home to review your portfolio in your living room. Since your living room isn't an exclusive place of business, you can't deduct this. But, if you designate a spare room in your house as a client meeting area, then you can deduct this area.

Let's say you're a plumber who makes house calls. Your primary place of work is in clients' bathrooms or kitchens. However, you can claim a home office deduction if you use part of your home to handle the bookkeeping, administrative, and other management activities for your business. Again, this space qualifies only if it's used exclusively for your plumbing business.

If you're a telecommuting employee (and not an independent contractor), home office deductions get even trickier. In this case, you must be working from home for your employer's convenience. Let's say you're a virtual call center agent or data entry specialist and your company saves money on office space by hiring agents to work from home. In this case, you can deduct your home office space using Form 2016. However, if your employer lets you work from home because your commute is long (and the employer does have office space available for you), then you don't qualify for the deduction.

Taking Your Deduction

Home office deductions are based on the percentage of your home that is used for business purposes. The first thing you need to do is figure out the total square footage of your home, and then the square footage of the space that's designated as an exclusive office or working area.

If you use a spare room (180 sq ft.) as an office and your home is 1,900 sq. ft., then you can write off 9.5% of certain home expenses, including: rent or mortgage payments, insurance (homeowners or renters), and utilities. Direct costs relating to the space, such as repairs or paint, can also be deducted.

The rules around other expenses can be a little fuzzy. Can you deduct a stereo as a business expense? What about an expensive painting or a designer rug for your workspace? Tax experts tend to give a few general guidelines for these questions.

Will the expense bring your business more profit (i.e. increase your productivity or sales)? Expensing a desk lamp that helps you see can certainly be defended. If you meet with clients in your home office, then aesthetic elements (like a painting) may be eligible for deduction. However, these expenses should be ordinary and standard, meaning that other business owners would have the same expense at a similar price point.

It's also important to note that the rules have loosened with regard to how profits are taxed when you sell your home. In the past, if you used 9% of your home as an office (and had been taking the home office deduction), when you sold your house, 9% would not qualify as tax-free under the rules that allow up to $250K tax-free profits for individuals, $500K for joint returns. This no longer applies. However, you do have to pay tax on any profit resulting from depreciation claimed for the office.

What About an S-Corp, C-Corp, or LLC?

The above scenarios apply to self-employed sole proprietors. But let's say you decided to form an LLC or Corporation in order to separate your personal and business expenses, minimize your personal liability, and perhaps lower your overall taxes. Deducting the use of a home office is handled differently here, but it is still possible. Talking to your accountant will be the easiest way to figure out the most favorable solution for both the corporation and shareholder.

For example, in an S-Corp situation where one of the shareholders uses a home office as his principal office, the corporation can reimburse the shareholder for the home office costs on a monthly basis under an accountable expense reimbursement plan. This becomes a deductible business expense for the corporation.

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Amazon Cloud Player iPhone App Disappears From iTunes Store

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 09:50 AM PDT

Update: We’ve heard from the developer who tells us the app was pulled at the request of Amazon, not Apple. We’re following up on this story and will update with additional information.

An iPhone app that allows users to access Amazon Cloud Player has been removed from the iTunes App Store, due to what its creator calls “legal issues.”

The app, aMusic, comes not from Amazon but from startup Interactive Innovative Solutions. Until Tuesday, the app was available in the App Store for $1.99 and allowed users a way to access their Amazon tunes without having to go through a series of complex steps in a non-Safari browser app.

SEE ALSO: Why Amazon Had Cloud Music App Pulled From the App Store

Mashable highlighted the app, along with its Google Music counterpart, gMusic [iTunes link] in a roundup of music apps and tools published last week.

“There are some legal issues with the music industry,” James Clancey of IIS told in a statement. about the removal of aMusic from the App Store. “The aMusic [app] is down temporarily. It will be back. Unfortunately I do not have a specific date when it will be back.

“Also, Apple has been delaying my gMusic update. I submitted it two weeks ago. Every other update I have submitted … has been approved in under eight hours. So not sure what the deal is.”

Sites like and Cult of Mac are pointing the finger at music labels (who already have issues with Amazon and Google’s forays into digital music storage) and Apple, which could view the apps as a competitor to iTunes.

The music industry has forced the removal of music apps from online stores in the past — notably with Grooveshark. Grooveshark was removed from the App Store in 2010 and was also pulled from the Android Market earlier this spring.

Apple, meanwhile, pulled apps that facilitate BitTorrent activity. Still, once banned doesn’t mean always banned. Apple famously refused to allow official and unofficial Google Voice apps from the App Store. But Apple relented 14 months later, allowing those apps (and an official variant) back in the App Store.

As for the fate of aMusic, only time will tell. For Amazon Cloud Player users, it was a nice app — and a solid alternative to iTunes.

More About: Amazon Cloud Player, amusic, Cloud Music, iphone apps, Top News, trending

Former Engadget Editor Launches New Tech Site

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 08:54 AM PDT

The Verge, a new technology site with former Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky at its helm, has officially launched.

Topolsky left AOL-owned Engadget early this year, around the same time AOL announced 900 layoffs in restructuring related to its acquisition of the Huffington Post. At the time, Topolsky said he wouldn’t be “leaving the industry or the news game.” Now his latest project is off the ground.

In an introductory blog post Tuesday, Topolsky puts a lot of emphasis on the technical background of the beautifully designed Verge site.

The Verge comes with several distinctive features, such as StoryStreams, a technology that stitches together “disparate parts of a story in a logical timeline.” The site also has a product database, product comparison tools, a forum and hub pages, which allow users to build a community around the topics they like.

The site is “something akin to an app,” writes Topolsky, promising a constant stream of updates. “Today we’re launching with The Verge 1.0, but 1.1 and 1.2 are just around the corner,” he says.

For the past couple of months Topolsky and his team have been active on another project, This Is My Next, which was a in-the-meantime tech blog until the SB Nation-backed Verge was ready for the launch. Even though it was a side project, This Is My Next was a valuable source of tech news and a nice glimpse of what’s to come.

More About: engadget, Gadgets, joshua topolsky, Tech, technology, The Verge

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Yahoo Buys Interclick for $270 Million

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 08:52 AM PDT

Yahoo has purchased data-driven ad firm Interclick for $270 million.

Interclick, a 4-year-old company that analyzes and identifies the most responsive audiences for marketing using digital media, will help Yahoo better value remnant ad space. Typically, such unsold opportunities are snapped up by other firms, which resell it for a higher price.

Yahoo makes about $600 million a year from its remnant ad space, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites “a person familiar with the matter.”

The attempt to draw more revenue — presumably more than Interclick’s price tag — makes sense for Yahoo, which saw its earnings and revenues fall 26% and 5% respectively, in its most-recent quarter.

The acquisition is Yahoo’s most high-profile since it bought TV-tagging startup IntoNow in April for between $20 million and $30 million.

More About: Interclick, IntoNow, Yahoo

The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Good — And How to Avoid Them

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 08:30 AM PDT

The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

devil imageWe’ve all been there — you discover an unbelievable non-profit supporting a great cause, only to find that there’s just something not right.

Perhaps it’s unclear how much money is being donated, its Facebook page looks outdated or it’s murky about what the organization wants from its fans. It’s not easy running a non-profit, but it’s crushing to find good people committing one of the seven deadly sins of social good. Any one of these sins can turn someone away from supporting a non-profit and even jeopardize the organization’s ability to do good.

So what are the sins and how do you avoid them? See below, and let us know what you consider to be the cardinal sin of social good and how it can be avoided.


Slacktivism is the dirty word applied to passive charitable efforts. For example, rather than write a check, volunteer or petition local officials, a slacktivist might donate his or her Twitter status for a day or donate money by proxy by, say, “liking” a cause or company Facebook Page. Slacktivism is one of the most controversial elements of social good. Some die-hards think that this low-effort form of philanthropy is cannibalizing the amount of dedicated activists and their drive to enact change.

Anyone familiar with the global Occupy Wall Street protests probably isn’t too worried about this last point. On the other hand, slacktivism can reach a broader spectrum of people that might not have normally become involved with an issue. The hope is that these part-time philanthropists can then be informed and become more engaged.

Tips: Even though slacktivism isn’t inherently a bad thing, there are some ways to get the most bang for your buck. Make sure any passive campaigns have information and resources such that any interested slacktivists can learn more and get more involved. Be sure that any minor donation is tied to the cause you’re supporting and not to a sponsor or corporation that’s essentially paying for Likes.

2. Greenwashing

Greenwashing is when a company (normally a for-profit) promotes social and charitable campaigns to help its brand image or sell products. This is another tricky area because, while greenwashing is used for financial gain, it often also results in raising money or awareness for an important cause.

Tips: Unfortunately there’s not much consumers can do with these campaigns other than vote with their wallets. For brands, it’s important to put global impact ahead of financial or brand goals. This can be done by partnering with trustworthy and committed non-profits for corporate social responsibility initiatives. Play to the company’s strengths and existing brand image rather than trying to make an incongruous cause fit. For example, HP developed counterfeit technology to help catch knock-offs of its products, and the company repurposed that same technology to help doctors and pharmacies in the developing world detect counterfeit drugs.

3. Poor Accountability

Just because you know you’re doing a good thing doesn’t mean that your donors and evangelists know what’s happening on a daily basis. One common mistake is to raise a ton of money for a cause and then go silent on how the project actually turned out.

Tips: The answer is simple to say and harder to do. Make sure you follow up on all of your projects and let your fans know what happened with the money. While it is important to do this with your success, its is infinitely more important to update your donors if something in the project went awry. These difficulties could be anything from money not being delivered to errors and mistakes in physical projects such as drilling water wells or building facilities. Charity:Water has made this feedback loop a top priority by launching “Dollars to Projects,” a campaign to match every dollar donated to an on-the-ground project with updates lasting several years into the future.

4. Charity Fatigue

Charity fatigue has happened to all of us: It’s an aversion to seeing any more bad news or painful statistics. It’s also a natural reaction when you’re overloaded with painful and sad images for long periods of time. It’s a terrible thing to think people at some point just don’t want to deal with sad news, but it’s a real problem that non-profits have to face. How do you communicate the dire need to help a cause and not depress them?

Tips: The good news is that charity fatigue is one of the easiest sins to beat. Humor is always a good way to knock people out of the doldrums while also sharing information. This strategy has worked great for Malaria No More and its “Comedy Fights Malaria” campaign, which uses comedians to help talk about serious issues. Of course, humor isn’t for everybody. Instead, try motivating people to help rather than just dwelling on the bad news.

People want to help charities and non-profits focus on the positive spirit in your messaging and make people feel like they’re part of a team trying to make a difference instead of shaming them with facts. Even if they should know those numbers, it might not inspire them to help you.

5. Dullness

Dullness is a bunch of problems all rolled into one, but the most prominent issue is repetition. The first organization that asked users to donate their status to a cause was a breath of fresh air. By the time the twentieth company was asking for statuses, the strategy had turned into a gimmick.

Tips: Organizations can always choose to double down on strategies, but seriously think about what your company can do to engage users in new and interesting ways. recently ran a “Twakeover,” which asked fans to tweet using a specific hashtag and share messages supporting to earn points. While none of that was new, the winner was rewarded with control of’s Twitter account for a week, where they could write whatever they liked. This kind of creativity doesn’t require a huge budget, but it does require a little bit of thinking. As a result, the campaign gained a bunch of new followers and motivated its base to become even greater evangelists.

6. Redundancy

Redundancy is about repetition in purpose rather than repetition in strategies, and it’s a hot-button topic for social gooders and philanthropists in general. The idea is that having multiple organizations supporting similar causes is inefficient. The better option is to consolidate like-minded organizations into sections — for example, climate change, domestic abuse, water issues — into one organization which could then pool resources, experience and funds.

The argument has understandably gained detractors in the non-profit world who argue that either a) competition is usually a good thing, even in philanthropy, or b) insist that their mission and areas of impact are unique to their organization. Practically speaking, they’re right: Every non-profit deals with a unique problem or helps distinct groups of people. The problem is that organizations like Charity:Water and will inevitably fight over the same pool of money and resources from people wanting to address water issues even though both organizations address fundamentally different problems.

Tips: Before you start an organization, scan the field and make sure that there aren’t any other legitimate organizations in your area solving the same problem you want to tackle. If you already have an organization, look for ways to partner with similar organizations in different countries or regions. This may take swallowing some pride from both parties, but if it solves the problem faster, it ought to be worth it.

7. Density

Perhaps the most common mistake is making it too difficult for people to help you. It’s a non-profit’s job to take complicated issues like world hunger or women’s rights and present them in a way that is easy to understand and drives action. If someone wants to help but can’t find how to donate or where to turn, that’s one philanthropist potentially lost.

Tips: This may sound simple, but create large buttons on your website and have clear and simple asks. It’s important to have these easy first steps clearly marked. It is equally important to have a wealth of follow-up information and more complicated tasks for people that are already familiar with the cause or are looking to become more involved. Everyday people are the lifeblood of any non-profit, but they may not get engaged if your website is too dense to decipher.

Series supported by Fedex


The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Image courtesy of Flickr, malzor905, Zellaby

More About: Commerce With a Conscience Series, features, mashable, non-profits, Social Good, World

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Tiny Rihanna Sings in Nivea Augmented Reality App [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 08:14 AM PDT

No, the woman in this video is not hallucinating. Thanks to augmented reality technology, a tiny version of Rihanna actually seems to emerge from the cap of a jar of Nivea Creme to sing her song “California King Bed.”

The app, which went live this week, is an attempt to “create engaging digital advertising experiences,” says a statement from the company. Nivea tried to create such as experience this summer with a “Co-Star with Rihanna” Facebook campaign that let users star in a short, alternative version of the music video for the song by editing themselves into the action.

For the AR component, all you have to do is buy a tin of Nivea Creme or print one out from Nivea’s website and hold either up to your computer’s webcam. Then, voila, Rihanna appears.

Nivea, however, isn’t the first to use AR to simulate the experience of being in the room with a beautiful woman. In January, Esquire magazine launched a similar app in Barnes & Noble stores that let shoppers take a picture next to an AR-conjured Brooklyn Decker.

More About: Augmented Reality, Nivea, rihanna

The Eatery Uses Photos of Your Food and a Dash of Peer Pressure to Improve Your Health [PICS]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 08:00 AM PDT

The Eatery

Click here to view this gallery.

Stealth health startup Massive Health has launched The Eatery, an experimental iPhone App that takes a different approach to improving your health by tracking what you eat.

Unlike other health apps, The Eatery doesn’t watch how many calories you’re eating. Instead, it tracks your overall eating trends to figure out your eating habits and where you should make changes to improve your health. "It's not helpful to know that your favorite brownies have 400 or 600 calories," CEO Sutha Kamal claims. "What's helpful is discovering that you're more vulnerable to them in the late afternoon."

The Eatery accomplishes this by asking users to snap a picture of the food they’re eating and swiping to indicate the serving size of what they’re eating. The Eatery then sends the picture to others using the app, where they will be able to rate the food you’re eating. By taking these photos for several days, patterns will begin to emerge. When are you eating your biggest servings? When do you eat the healthiest? Have you made improvements in your diet, or are you still eating junk?

The app lets you view your eating history through elegant photo montages — all the while it solicits the participation of you and you friends to rate each other’s dishes and keep your friends on task through commenting.

“Share your eating goals and food snaps with a network of friends and family. They'll let you know when you're on the right track and give you a nudge in the right direction if you get distracted,” co-founder Aza Raskin tells Mashable.

SEE ALSO: 20+ Easy Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk [VIDEOS]

The app looks elegant and vibrant — it’s the first creation of Massive Health, a startup that was formed last year by Kamal and former Mozilla creative director Raskin. The startup’s goal is to combine good design with insights to promote better health. The company has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Greylock Partners and a slew of other investors.

The Eatery, like all health-tracking apps, requires your constant participation to be truly effective. And it will also require a robust — and active — user base to make the commenting feedback useful. The Eatery is certainly easier to use than a calorie-tracking app, and the potential for results seems even greater. The app’s simplistic but gorgeous design could make it more appealing than its competition.

What do you think of The Eatery? Let us know in the comments.

More About: health, Massive Health, The Eatery, trending

Google Promises Consumers Greater Ad Transparency

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 07:51 AM PDT

Google is making changes to its ad system in an effort to provide consumers with “greater transparency and choice.”

Over the coming weeks, users will be able to click on links labeled “Why these ads?” next to advertisements served in Gmail and Google search results, the company announced in a blog post Monday. These links contain information about how and why users were targeted for a particular ad.

Users can find out why, for instance, they’re suddenly being served ads for restaurants in Honolulu while they’re on vacation there or why ads for North Face coats are appearing above their Gmail inboxes after running searches on “winter parkas” an hour earlier.

Users can also open up the Ads Preferences Manager to further adjust their settings, and/or opt out of personalized ads altogether.

The changes won’t mean much to consumers who already understand the basics of ad targeting, but it should be helpful to those who have wondered why Google seemingly knows so much about them.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hillaryfox

More About: Advertising, Google, google ads

Apple iTV: Not So Fast

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 07:05 AM PDT

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

An Apple iTV is coming. Or is it? I mean, isn't Apple too smart to get into the TV business? With no new Apple iPhone on the near horizon and not enough iPad 3 non-information to chew over, the media has turned its attention to yet another non-existent Apple gizmo: the Apple iTV television set.

If you have never heard this particular rumor, let me lay it out for you: Before Steve Jobs died, he "cracked" the nut that is the intelligent TV and delivered that wisdom to his product team at Apple. They are now all busy realizing this dream of a device that looks a lot like other big-screen HDTVs, but with all the Apple-liscious touches like an Apple logo on the back and virtually no controls on the front.

There's even a design. Sort of. Okay, actually there isn't a design at all, just a beautifully-rendered concept (see below) that did not come from Apple but has been floating around the web nonetheless.

Apple iTV is Not Crazy

Look, I don't think the idea of an Apple TV is crazy. The difference between TVs and computers is slimming anyway. Both have processors and memory (with substantially different amounts of intelligence and power), interfaces (Windows, Apple OSX and the proprietary stuff you find in most TV sets) and, of course Internet access (Wired and Wi-Fi).

Isn't the iMac just a really, really powerful HDTV? It has the screen resolution (1920 by 1080). All it's missing is a tuner.

Obviously, no average consumer would accept a standard computer as their main TV. The interface is too confusing (it's been tried: see Windows Media Center). In fact, consumers want as little interface as possible on their TVs. It's why so few people dig into their HDTV settings. Every TV manufacturer does their menus in their own special, confusing way. Now we have the prospect of a computer manufacturer introducing yet another TV interface. But wait, we already know exactly what Apple's iTV interface will look like: Apple TV.

Apple TV easily has the most rational interface among all set-top boxes and offers admirable extensibility. Meaning, you can add features to the horizontal interface without much effort — I can imagine just one more option "Live TV."

Putting the tiny Apple TV box (3.9 in x 3.9 in x .9 in) that drives that interface inside a much larger set is trivial. I could probably cut a small hole inside one of my TVs and do it myself. Still, I'm not yet sure Apple will do it.

iTV Hurdles

First of all, Apple will have to accept giving up at least part of the interface control. Apple, like most platform and computer manufacturers, is used to having total interface control, not sharing it with a third party. TVs, which these days are really just monitors, have to invite four or more interfaces, one for every box plugged into the myriad HDMI, component and composite ports, not the least of which is the cable box.

Apple can't control the cable box because it can't control cable companies. Perhaps Apple will handle input-switching differently and try to wrap its own interface around the one offered by, say, Comcast. That's a recipe for disaster. The only thing worse than one clunky cable company DVR interface is such an interface with another layer on top of it.

Apple can't possibly make a remote that will adequately support all your CE devices. Take a good look at Apple TV's remote. It looks like an iPod shuffle and has about as many buttons. It doesn't even light up in the dark. Most TV remotes have dozens of buttons, all in an effort to try and support multiple CE devices. You can program the remote to support your blu-ray player, audio receiver, DVR, etc. Most people, by the way, use their DVR remote to control everything else, including the TV. Can you imagine Apple ceding control to, say, Sony? However, if the Apple remote and TV cannot change channels — without needing an IR blaster — it just won't work.

Let's say Apple solves these issues. How will it sell the Apple iTV? Direct is one obvious answer, but consumers still do a lot of TV shopping in brick and mortar stores. Will Apple accept siting side-by-side with Sony, Samsung, and Vizio at consumer electronics stores across the country? Go into your local Best Buy and check out the Apple set up. It's the only computer manufacturer with its own special area. That store real estate, though, is precious and TVs are big, often much bigger than computers. Will Best Buy take an aisle or more just for Apple TVs?

Perhaps Best Buy will do so happily. Even so, is Apple ready to compete with other TV manufacturers on price? I can buy a 54-inch 1080p Vizio for $799. Somehow, I don't see Apple selling its premium products at competitive prices. Apple could argue that its TVs do more, but how true will that really be? All TVs connect to the Internet, many plug into your home network. What you won't get with your Vizo TV is Airplay—which is cool, but probably not an extra $400-cool.

It is still possible that Apple will introduce an iTV next year, but before everyone gets carried away with a bunch of made up designs that have nothing to do with Apple, they better start asking some hard questions about the real TV market. The same questions I'm sure Apple execs are asking themselves right now, too.

What do you think? Is Apple really going to build and sell its own TV sets? Tell us in the comments area below and take a look at some of the iTV designs created by Guilherme Schasiepen in the gallery below.

Apple iTV Concept Design 1

All rights reserved by Guilherme Schasiepen

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Apple TV, trending, TV

How Old Spice Revived a Campaign That No One Wanted to Touch

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 06:33 AM PDT

The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. Ad agency JWT has used mobile marketing for two brand name clients. During a marketers' panel discussion, John Baker explained the important role mobile played in a promotion for Zyrtec and for a campaign across media for Macy's.

Maybe advertisers should stop hoping that their new campaigns should be super-successful and instead wish for them to be moderately well-received.

After all, almost no one has been able to create a second act for ad campaigns that become cultural touchstones. Remember Budweiser’s “Wassup” for instance? That campaign broke in 1999, but only lasted for a few more executions. The “You’re getting a Dell, dude” guy also wore out his welcome, fast.

If anything, adding a social media layer to a successful campaign only raises the stakes as bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers pile on to celebrate and watch to see if new ads live up to the set standard, then mercilessly scold it for not doing so. Such was the situation Old Spice and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy found themselves in in the fall of 2010.

By then, Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign had already received heaps of industry accolades, including the Cannes Film Lion Grand Prix, and it had broken new ground by having spokesman Isaiah Mustafa star in hundreds of YouTube videos, responding by name to bloggers and fans who tweeted comments about the campaign.

“It was definitely daunting,” says Jason Bagley, a creative director at Wieden. “It was both the best and worst spot to be in,” adds Craig Allen, another creative director. After batting around ideas, Bagley, Allen and other creatives on the account at Wieden decided that instead of abandoning the campaign or risking repeating themselves, they’d use Mustafa’s character to create a storyline. In this case, it was sort of a riff on the classic 1950 drama All About Eve. While that film featured a wide-eyed ingenue usurping the role of an aging star, it was decided that a long-in-the-tooth star would try to steal Mustafa’s spokesman role.

But who would play Mustafa’s foe? The first name that came to mind was Fabio Lanzoni, the Italian model who is better known by just his first name. After all, Fabio had performed a role similar to Mustafa’s in ads for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter that ran in the ’90s. “Fabio was the first name that popped up,” says Allen, “but we assumed he didn’t want to do it.” In preparation for rejection, Wieden decided they would plan to tap other short-listed candidates David Hasselhoff and Dolph Lundgren. It turned out, though, that Fabio was on board.

Upon meeting Fabio, Bagley and Allen soon discovered why. “He has a great sense of humor,” says Bagley. “Something we learned is that the Fabio you know from TV is a character. We thought maybe he was going to be this cheesy metrosexual model, but in reality he’s a guy’s guy.” Months after the shoot, the three would even become friends with Fabio and visit his home in Los Angeles, where they would sample Fabio’s 300-deep motorcycle collection.

With their villain on board, the agency concocted a loose storyline in which Fabio was jealous of Mustafa’s popularity and wanted to challenge him for the throne. The brand unleashed the first of the Fabio ads on YouTube and on TV on July 20 with no explanation. On July 25, Fabio laid out his “Mano a Mano in el Baño” challenge to Mustafa at “9 a.m. tomorrow, Internets.” The next day, Mustafa accepted.

That week, over a three-day period, Mustafa and Fabio would shoot more than 150 videos at Wieden’s Portland, Oregon, headquarters. As Bagley recalls, the crew went in with just a vague idea of a plot and no ending. The idea was to incorporate fans’ comments (including Mashable‘s own Pete Cashmore) into the storyline, but that wasn’t as easy as hoped. “We were kind of freaking out the first day,” says Bagley. “We weren’t shooting enough video.”

Eventually, they found a rhythm. Part of it was playing to each actor’s strengths: Mustafa got the verbose, absurd speeches while Fabio’s responses were kept short. As for an ending: A fan named Jordan S. suggested that Mustafa should build a time machine to prevent Fabio from trying to take his place. Bingo! They had their denouement.

When the dust settled, the campaign looked like a winner. Overall, it netted more than 22 million YouTube views in one week. Old Spice and New Old Spice Guy Fabio held the number one and number four spots for most viewed channels for the month on YouTube. Old Spice rep Andrew Nicolai says that’s the first time that’s happened, a claim that a YouTube rep confirmed. Other measures were also impressive: The campaign drew more than 53,000 YouTube comments and 68,000 new Facebook fans.

Did it sell more Old Spice? Mike Norton, a rep for Procter & Gamble Male Grooming (Old Spice is a P&G brand), says Nielsen figures show it did, though he declined to share exact numbers. But the campaign also solved a problem for the brand. “We set an objective to engage fans the way we did last year,” says Norton. “We didn’t want to try to do the same thing.”

Mission accomplished. But what about next year? Soon, the Wieden team will be brainstorming concepts for summer 2012. Meanwhile, the brand has experimented with a new campaign featuring multiple spokesmen, including a sea captain (or a guy who wants to be one). Rather than get worked up about 2012 though, Bagley and Allen are savoring the moment, at least for now. “l always fear that people aren’t going to care and wonder if they’re going to engage,” says Bagley. “We’re really happy that millions of people have done just that.”

Series supported by IDG

The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. Mobile marketing is projected to grow rapidly in the next few years as marketing catches up with the surge in mobile device use. It's a new, experimental platform to reach consumers. JWT executive John Baker told marketers at a panel discussion in New York how JWT used mobile for two of its clients. Watch the panel discussion here.

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Native Gmail iPhone App Is Coming Soon [RUMOR]

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 06:31 AM PDT

Google is working on a native Gmail application for the iPhone and may even have already submitted the app to Apple for approval, according to one report.

Currently, Gmail is supported on the iPhone as a web app. It does its job fairly well, but a native app would probably be faster and could include some extra features such as advanced search and push notifications.

However, there’s a question of whether Apple would allow a native email app on iOS, given that it would be a direct competitor to its own Mail app, which is an integral part of the platform.

MG Siegler, citing several sources familiar with the matter, doesn’t have a lot of info about the upcoming app, but he claims push notifications are sure to be a part of it. And, he says, Priority Inbox and one-click starring of messages will likely to be included.

As for when can we expect this shiny new app to reach our iPhones and iPads, “soon” is all we have.

Google declined to comment on the possibility of a native Gmail iPhone app.

More About: App, apple, gmail, Google, iphone

Today’s Top Stories in Tech, Mobile and Social Media

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 05:43 AM PDT

Social Media News

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

Barnes & Noble to Unveil Nook Color 2 Nov. 7?

Barnes & Noble is holding a press event next Thursday in New York City, where the company is expected to unveil the next-generation Nook Color tablet.

10,000 Protest Google Reader Redesign

Not long after Google started rolling out a new version of its Reader application, loyal users have begun protesting en masse.

Google Revamps Google+ for Android

Google has launched a new version of Google+ for Android, complete with a new look, a new UI and support for Ice Cream Sandwich.

Twitter Wins Patent Trial

Twitter has been cleared of patent infringement claims made by VS Technologies, which holds a patent for "creating an interactive community of famous people."

Further News

  • Former Engadget editor Josh Topolsky has launched a technology news site called The Verge.
  • Streaming music application Rdio is expanding to Brazil.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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