Thursday, 3 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HP Re-Enters the Tablet Race With Slate 2”


Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HP Re-Enters the Tablet Race With Slate 2”

HP Re-Enters the Tablet Race With Slate 2

Posted: 03 Nov 2011 04:16 AM PDT

After nearly exiting the PC business, then changing its mind last week, Hewlett-Packard has proved it’s still interested in capturing a piece of the tablet market with the launch of Windows 7-based Slate 2.

The device sports an 8.9-inch capacitive multi-touch screen, an Intel Atom Z670 CPU, 32 GB of storage space and a 3-megapixel back camera, as well as a front-facing VGA camera for video calls.

If all of this sounds familiar, you’re right: the device is just a slight upgrade of the business-oriented Slate 500 which launched in October 2010, with the addition of HP’s Swype technology for easier text entry.

The Slate 2 probably won’t make a big ripple in the market, as Windows 7 was never a great OS for tablets, which is visible from the minute market share of Windows-based devices in the tablet market.

Now that HP has openly committed to the upcoming Windows 8 as its tablet platform, we’re much more interested in devices based on that OS. We’ll have to wait a while to see them, though, as the final version of Windows 8 is expected sometime next year.

The HP Slate 2 starts at $699 and is expected to be available worldwide later this month.

HP Slate, HP's Windows-7 based enterprise-oriented tablet, should become available later this month.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: HP, HP Slate 2, Slate 2, Tablet, Windows 7

Opera Mini 6.5 Now Available for iOS and BlackBerry

Posted: 03 Nov 2011 02:42 AM PDT

The latest version of Opera‘s mobile browser, Opera Mini 6.5, is now available for iOS, S60, J2ME and BlackBerry platforms.

The new mobile version of Opera is now also available for Symbian, MeeGo and Maemo, in the form of Opera Mobile 11.5.

The updates come three weeks after Opera released Opera Mini 6.5 for Android, and the changes are pretty much the same, the most important being a counter that shows you exactly how much data you have spent and saved (via Opera’s website compression technology) using Opera Mini.

Opera has also put a global counter on its homepage, showing how much data all its users have saved since Nov. 2, 2011. The counter currently stands at over 230 terabytes.

Also, besides the inevitable performance and stability fixes, the new version brings support for autocorrect and spellcheck, searching directly from the address bar and support for Google AutoComplete.

[Opera Mini 6.5, Opera Mobile 11.5]

More About: mobile browser, opera, opera mini, Opera Mini 6.5

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Jawbone Launches the Up: Will This $99 Wristband Rule Your Life?

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 09:04 PM PDT

If Jawbone has its way, you’ll soon be wrapping this bendable, waterproof gadget around your wrist, tracking your health with it — and hardly ever taking it off.

The Up, Jawbone’s first foray into devices that aren’t Bluetooth headsets or speakers, goes on sale this Sunday Nov. 6 for $99 at all Apple, AT&T, Target and Best Buy stores. It syncs with Jawbone’s Up app for iPhone (an Android version is in the works) via an audio jack hidden under that silver cap at the end. (That’s my first problem with the device — it has a small removable part. I hope Jawbone has prepared plenty of spares.) It also charges via the audio jack, which you’ll need to plug into a USB connector every ten days or so.

What is the wristband tracking, exactly? In short: sleep and exercise. Much like the Lark, which we reviewed back in June, it looks for micro-movements at bedtime and can tell when you’ve fallen asleep. Like the Lark, it will wake you with gentle vibrations in the morning instead of music or noise, so your partner can go on sleeping. Unlike the Lark, it can track whether you’re in light or deep sleep, and will wake you within a certain window of time, when your sleep is at its lightest.

The Up, which Jawbone’s CEO first talked about at TED, will also track your movements throughout the day. It’ll capture all the little moments of exercise you don’t think you’re getting, as well as your deliberate workouts. One Up product team member, for example, was surprised to note a half-hour of vigorous walking had been logged during his work day — when he was pacing back and forth during a conference call.

The Up app also encourages you to track your eating habits by taking photos of food. It won’t ask you to estimate calories, but it will ask you how you feel a couple of hours after eating. Energetic? Lethargic? Regretful? Tie it together with the exercise and sleep patterns recorded by the app, and you have a comprehensive system for tracking three of your most important health statistics.

Jawbone’s real intention is that you’ll form social groups around the Up. The app is very much built around the concept of nudging and encouraging your friends and families in goals and mini-challenges. Surprisingly, the company has not integrated the app with Facebook and Twitter just yet, but hopes you’ll do all your socializing within the app, even if that means meeting strangers within the challenge sections.

Color me a little skeptical on the social aspect; without integrating the larger networks, it seems Up may have a chicken-and-egg problem. You can’t get your friends on it until they buy it, and you may not buy it until your friends are on it.

Still, I have my hot little hands on the product, and I’ll be testing it over the next few days. Check back soon for our full review.

Up in red, and the iPhone app

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: health, jawbone, Jawbone Up

YouTube’s 20 Most-Shared Ads in October [VIDEOS]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 08:53 PM PDT

Years ago, people used to gather around the TV set to watch Candid Camera. Then, a couple of decades later, Punk’d.

Nowadays, as evinced by October’s most-shared ads list on the Mashable Global Ads Chart, advertisers are addressing our need to see people get victimized by practical jokes. Case in point: Contrex, a Nestle mineral water that’s marketed in France. Contrex got some French men and women (mostly women) to interact with some stationery bikes that powered a 3-D image of a male stripper. And that was the most-shared ad of October.

Also showing up high on the list was Carlsberg, which punk’d some theatergoers in Belgium with the help of a few dozen burly bikers.

Is this the new trend in viral ads? It remains to be seen, but marketers would be smart to start thinking of ways to channel their inner Ashton Kutcher. Otherwise, we have a bumper crop of viral ads this week including a man getting reverse tattoos, two iPhone 4S ads and a PSA from New Zealand that will make you wonder “Is this a joke?” even though it appears to be quite serious.

As usual, we thank our friends at Unruly for compiling this month’s list.

Note: The list below does not include music videos, user-generated content or movie trailers. Unruly Media's Viral Video Chart tracks 18 million shares a day through third-party APIs.

"Ma Contrexpérience - 97s" (Contrex)

Nestle hit upon an inspired way to market its Contrex mineral water. The premise? A row of exercise bikes appear on the stairs of an edifice somewhere in France (if you know the exact location, let us know.) The bikes, it is soon discovered, power a 3D Projection Mapping display of a male stripper. Does he go all the way? Watch and find out.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: activision, features, playstation 3, viral videos, YouTube

Will 3D Televisions Actually Hurt the TV Business?

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 08:35 PM PDT

3d image

It’s strange to think fancy new advances in TV technology may actually end up hurting the television business in general. That conclusion is not so far-fetched for and its latest study, which shows interest in 3D television technology continuing to wane.

Retrevo, a consumer electronics and shopping site, surveyed more than 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds. Of those surveyed, one third said they were planning to buy an HDTV in the coming year. While that number is encouragingly high, only 22% of that fraction said they’d buy a 3D television and another 23% of that fraction said they’d consider it if the price point was similar.

The industry has been trying to figure out why 3D movies do so well and yet 3D home theaters have not kept up in popularity. One factor is the downgrade in size — televisions are necessarily smaller than movie screens. Other factors include the lack of 3D programming and the need for expensive peripherals. The Retrevo study shows 40% of potential buyers said there wasn’t enough 3D programming to watch while 30% of potential TV buyers said 3D glasses were still a problem.

On top of that are internal debates about what kind of 3D technology is best. There are two predominant systems: Passive and Active. Passive 3D is built into the set and doesn’t require battery-powered glasses. Active 3D is powered by special glasses which alternate shutting off the images between the two lenses in rapid succession.

stats image

These tech differences — and the debate over which is better — combined with some of the pricing and programming concerns mean that buyers are shying away from 3D technology. This is a problem for companies such as Sony and Panasonic that have sunk large amounts of money and resources into their next wave of 3D technology.

Of course, one study of a little more than 1,000 respondents is far from a damning piece of evidence against the future of 3D. It does, however, provide a glimpse into the public’s hesitancy to jump on board. And, there are other companies saying 3D isn’t doing too well, either, including game creator Electronic Arts, saying last summer that 3D games are failing. Analysts aren’t impressed, either, with Richard Greenfield of Wall Street's BTIG saying U.S. customers in movie theaters "are increasingly rejecting 3D movies."

What is needed to make 3D television more popular? Should the sets be cheaper? Should the programming be better? Let us know what needs to happen for you to consider getting a 3D TV.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Lee Stranahan

More About: 3D, technology, television

Fitted Fashion Uses 3D Scanners to Create Custom-Fit Jeans

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 08:08 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: Fitted Fashion

Quick Pitch: 3D scanners and pattern-making software are used to create perfect-fitting jeans and other clothing.

Genius Idea: As almost any woman will tell you, the single most challenging item of clothing to shop for is jeans. According to a ShopSmart poll published in June 2010, more than 56% of women say they have trouble finding well-fitting and flattering jeans, with 8% seeking professional guidance to locate a pair.

Fitted Fashion, a recent graduate of startup incubator Betaspring, is one of several startups aiming to address that problem. The company is currently testing 3D body scanners alongside its own pattern-making software to develop custom jeans and suits, among other items.

The scans, says cofounder and recent Harvard Business School graduate Jamal Motlagh, helps Fitted Fashion derive a precise set of individual body measurements that he and his team can then use to make perfectly fitted clothing.

“Self or tailor-made measurements tend to have a lot of errors,” Motalgh notes. “It’s hard to measure your own inseam. And even if you went to five different tailors you would get five different sets of measurements.”

The body scanners, which were built by a company called [TC]², allow Fitted Fashion to obtain a more accurate and a broader set of measurements, Motalgh contends. He and his team aren’t just incorporating traditional hip and inseam measurements into their clothing; they’re also taking into account the length and circumference of every part of the body. Design is also taken into account. Pockets of jeans are repositioned to complement different hip widths, for instance.

The technology isn’t new. 3D body scanners have appeared in Brooks Brothers, Selfridges and in a few other retailer stores over the past couple of years, but they haven’t yet been adopted widely by the industry. As the technology improves and the machines become more affordable, it’s likely that trend will change.

Fitted Fashion is currently testing its designs with a group of 65 women. Motalgh says feedback on fit has been positive thus far, but he and his team are still experimenting with different kinds of denim to optimize the jeans they hope to bring to market.

Early next year, the company plans to open up a design studio in SoHo where men and women can be fitted for custom clothing. Denim will be priced between $160 and $180. Suits will run in the $500 to $900 range.

The design studio is more of a short-term project to introduce people to the technology, explains Motalgh. He and his team are ultimately hoping to partner with existing brands and retailers to produce lines of custom-fit clothing. They also hope to establish their own online retail outlet where visitors can shop across a wide array of partner brands using measurements stored in Fitted Fashion’s system.

The startup has raised $250,000 in private seed funding to date.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, fitted fashion, spark-of-genius

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7 Easy Steps for Creating Buzzworthy Content

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 07:14 PM PDT

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

We’ve heard for years now that “content is king” in the world of Internet marketing — yet so few marketers seem to understand how to create useful content that isn’t overly promotional for the brands supporting it.

For even those who understand the importance of rich content, though, it can be costly to get a content strategy up and running.

Michael Durwin, director of user experience at Boston Technologies, has nailed down a simple step-by-step process for creating buzzworthy content on a shoestring budget.

Durwin spoke about the importance of creating shareable content during his presentation at Geekend Roadshow, a technology-focused portion of the DMA2011 conference, presented by BFG Communications.

Here are Durwin’s seven essential steps for creating buzzworthy content, perfect for businesses just stepping into content creation.

1. Leverage Your Resources

Leverage your resources on your staff, coworkers, customers and fans,” says Durwin. “If you can find the people in your company that love to do things like tweet, update Facebook and take pictures around the office, grab those people and deputize them. Empower them to publish more content about your brand.”

2. Assign Tasks Around Existing Interests

Once you’ve found the individuals within your organization that are already participating in or are very excited about creating content, assign tasks to those people based on what they are interested in and would like to contribute.

Common tasks could including taking pictures, shooting video, tweeting, updating Facebook, blogging and updating the company’s website.

Durwin offered up an example of a woman at his company who loves to take candid photos around the office. He talked to her about being the official office photographer, and every now and then she sends him entertaining photos to post to the company’s social sites. He also identified a Twitter-loving co-worker and put him in charge of tweeting on behalf of the company.

3. Identify Outposts

Figure out which social sites are a fit for your company, or better yet, find individuals within your company that already use particular social sites and get their feedback on whether those sites are a fit for the business.

Once you’ve identified where your company should be — whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo or somewhere else — get your team involved.

“All of these social outlets become your outposts,” says Durwin. “Find the people at your company — or your fans — who love to generate content, put them to work, point them to these places and say ‘Go.’”

4. Identify Ambassadors

Sometimes the best candidates for representing a company aren’t your employees, but your biggest fans.

Identify the most passionate section of your company’s user base. Sometimes these fans are already creating content about the company.

For example, one of the most popular Facebook Pages — Coca-Cola — was created by two fans. Instead of demanding ownership of the Facebook Page, Coca-Cola invited the two creators, Dusty Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski, to visit them in Atlanta and let them remain a large part of the page, through videos and other content.

In the case that these fans are not creating content, think of a way to inspire fans. In 2010, MTV launched a search to find a Twitter Jockey — a perfect example.

5. Supply Your Outposts

“Set up your blog, set up your YouTube channel, make sure your Twitter account is set up — and then start pushing content.” This could come in the form of blogs images, videos, tweets, status updates or even infographics, one of the most shareable types of content on the web right now.

It’s important to keep a steady supply of content on each social platform, so make sure the individuals in charge of each social channel have a clear strategy for maintaining a constant flow.

6. Make Your Stuff Shareable

Make sure you are making your content as shareable as possible — the first step is to implement social sharing buttons.

“Make sure you add buttons to everything. Every page on your website should have a Like button, a Google+ button, a tweet button, an email button — any conceivable way of sharing.”

There are tons of blog plugins out there to help minimize the difficulty of adding social sharing buttons — you just have to get out there and look.

While you’re at it, share your company’s content with your own audience — “everyone is a potential ambassador,” says Durwin.

7. Monitor and Respond

Durwin stressed the importance of monitoring your social sites and responding to user feedback. “Don’t just put content up and leave,” he said. “You need to go back, see what everybody’s saying about it and respond. Don’t wait a week, don’t wait a day, don’t wait a month — be checking it every single day. Do it again and again until it becomes second nature. When you wake up in the morning, check your Facebook and Twitter pages, send out a couple of responses. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it two or three times per day, and you won’t even notice how it impacts your day.”

These seven steps are a basic guide to kicking off content creation at a business. How has your company gone about the content creation process? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ra2studio

More About: content creation, features, Marketing, mashable, Small Business Resources

Google Interface Designs: Welcome to Dullsville

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 06:32 PM PDT

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

Google Gmail for the iPhone may have had just an hour or two in the sunlight before Google pulled it, but that was more than enough time for people to decide they hated it. The dislike didn't discriminate. Users hated the feel, the lack of functionality (only one Gmail account?!) and the buginess. For me, though, I couldn't stand the look of the thing. So stark, boxy and cold.

Google will solve the feature and bug issues and soon enough the Gmail app will be back on iOS devices. What Google is unlikely to change, though, is the design. Black, white and boring. What happened to Google's signature use of color, its sense of impish fun? Its name is literally built out of five, bright primary colors. This is the company that regularly brings us wonderfully imaginative Google Doodle logos — which all do wild things with that simple, yet attractive logo. It's the same company that has some of the most entertaining corporate offices I have ever seen (I took a tour, I know).

Yet, something is happening in the halls of Google. Google’s new design language has, essentially, two words: black and white.

It's not just this new HTML5-based Gmail that is awash in two-tone colors or that brings sharp edges to Apple's always curved world. I'm reading Steve Jobs’s biography right now and learned that he hated — HATED — corners. Everything had to be curved. He was obsessed with chamfers. Take a look at your iPhone or iPad and you'll see that design sensibility. Google, though, is going the other way.

Gmail for the iPhone is all hard lines of black, white and gray. There are thin lines and black bars. The icons are simply reverses on their black backgrounds.There’s just a tiny bit of color and impishness in there, like the use of a 3.5-inch floppy icon for "Save." Otherwise, it's the culmination of a trend that's been running through all of Google's products for months and accelerating in recent days. The new Google Reader, for example, is white, with gray accents and black type. It's more open than the old version, but somehow less friendly and inviting.

This week, Google also waved the magic wand of starkness over Gmail for the desktop. No more color, no more bounding boxes. It's super stark and seems ready to slide apart. If I were making it into a game, I'd put it on a tablet and use the accelerometer to judge just how flat you're holding the screen. If it tips one way or the other, part of Gmail's interface simply slides off. Google News was probably the first of Google's many services to get the decolorization makeover. It used to look a tiny bit like a newspaper layout, but no more. Google Apps are no better. The menu bar in Google+ is pretty much the same. Icons are gray, the discussions float in a sea of white and gray lines. When I do see a colorful icon in any of Google's products I'm now tempted to throw it a lifeline.

Seriously, who is Google's interface designer these days, and why has he decided to drain all the fun and life out of every single Google product? Some might argue that this is a return to Google's roots. Its homepage is still essentially just its logo, a search box and an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search option. I've always appreciated that Google didn't junk that up, but I have grown accustomed to Google's different looks within its standalone apps and services. Now someone is cracking the whip and shoving them all into monochromatic shape.

It's not attractive and I'd like it to stop.

What do you think? Do you like Google's new design language or has Google gone too far? Tell us in the comments.

Detail of Gmail's Latest Interface

The new desktop version of Gmail is hardly recognizable as the Gmail we once knew.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: design, Google, google apps, google news, google reader

“South Park” to Take On Occupy Wall Street [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 05:58 PM PDT

The Occupy Wall Street movement is going to get the South Park treatment on Wednesday night.

The latest episode of the long-running animated series is entitled “1%,” and it’s on Comedy Central tonight (Wednesday) at 10 p.m./9 p.m. Central Time. The preview clip for the episode shows Cartman in the role of the 1% against the rest of his classmates, AKA, the 99%.

Now in its 15th season, South Park continues to effectively skewer current events with surprising consistency. The short production schedule for the show (which takes weeks, rather than the months required for most animated series) allows its writers to address subjects in a more topical way.

Last spring, South Park addressed the issues related to the so-called Locationgate scandal.

So, uh, Cartman is the 1%, eh?

More About: Occupy Wall Street, ows, South Park

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Protecting Your Online Reputation: 4 Things You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 05:25 PM PDT

You don’t have to be running for president to care about your online reputation. Almost everything you do online is easy to track, especially when you’re using social media sites. This infographic shows you how to manage your “e-reputation,” perhaps saving you some embarrassment, or even your career.

Gathered by digital marketing firm KBSD, it’s a treasure trove of tips, techniques and information about what companies and individuals are looking for inside your personal profiles and social information, and what you can do to show off your best side to those who might want to find out unflattering things about you. It’s not too late to protect yourself and polish up your online image.

So now that you’ve grown up (you have grown up, haven’t you?), this would be a good time to do a bit of backtracking, cleaning up those mistakes you made in the past as much as you can, and at the same time, keeping an eye on your online behavior so there won’t be anything to hide in the future.

Infographic courtesy KBSD, photo courtesy iStockphoto/Yuri Arcurs

More About: infographic, online reputation, Personal Data, social data

Apple Seeds Beta of iOS 5.0.1, Improving Battery Life

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 04:16 PM PDT

Just a few minutes after Apple admitted there were battery problems with its iOS 5.0 upgrade, the company seeded a beta version 5.0.1 of the software to developers that fixes that bug and more.

In the prerelease version of iOS 5.0.1 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, Apple says the new software:

  • Fixes bugs affecting battery life
  • Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad
  • Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud
  • Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation
  • Contains security improvements

In addition to those fixes, Apple announced in the release that “iOS 5.0.1 beta introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.”

According to Engadget, the changelog of this build 9A402 beta version of the software also fixes trouble with iCloud document synching.

SEE ALSO: A Potential Fix for iOS 5 Battery Woes: Your Time Zone Settings

In addition, that ability to use the new four-finger gestures in the original iPad will be a welcome return of the feature, which had appeared in early betas for all iPads, but for some reason was removed from the shipping version of iOS 5.0.

Graphic courtesy Macrumors

More About: battery life, beta, iOS 5.0.1, iphone

Apple Admits iOS 5 Battery Problems

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 03:40 PM PDT

Apple has confirmed that some iPhone customers are experiencing lower battery performance after upgrading to iOS 5.

Users started complaining about the battery life of the iPhone 4S soon after the device’s debut. In the last week, additional complaints have surfaced regarding iOS 5 in general.

In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple confirmed battery problems, saying it “has found a few bugs affecting battery life.”

Apple says it will “release a software update to address those in a few weeks.” Update: Apple has now released a beta version of iOS 5.0.1 for developers.

SEE ALSO: A Potential Fix for iOS 5 Battery Woes: Your Time Zone Settings

In the meantime, some users have found success in mitigating iOS 5 battery woes, either by disabling the automatic time zone setting or by making other modifications to iCloud or location services.

Mashable Readers Respond

We polled Mashable readers earlier this week about iPhone battery problems.

Of nearly 7,000 respondents, more than 75% acknowledged that battery life was diminished after upgrading to iOS 5.

Our poll is far from scientific and is naturally skewed towards users experiencing problems, however, it provides some anecdotal evidence of a larger software problem.

More About: apple, iOS 5, iPhone 4S

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Twitter Tests “Top News” and “Top People” Search Results

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 03:25 PM PDT

Twitter is testing a new feature that highlights a link labeled as “top news” or a profile labeled “top people” at the top of its real-time search results.

For a small percentage of users, searching for a topic such as “South Park” or a hashtag such as “#OWS” returns a link to a news story at the top of the page in addition to the usual relevant tweets. This is different from a “top tweet.” There’s no author, just text and an image pulled from the linked content itself.

If the search is for a person with a high amount of Twitter influence and reach, his or her profile appears in a similar box under the heading of “top people.”

The new feature, which seems to be in a test phase so far, could help publishers drive more traffic to their sites. While “top tweet” results have done this to some extent, they’re often witty comments rather than news stories. A featured slot for publishers could make the site a much more valuable driver of traffic.

There’s also a possible advertising opportunity in highlighting links rather than tweets, though one that Twitter would need to ease into carefully to avoid ticking off its users.

Digg learned the hard way what can happen when what was once curated or created by users is instead put into the hands of content creators. Would Twitter users react the same way when publisher content or an ad, rather than their witty tweets, were highlighted?

We’ve contacted Twitter for insight into what wins the “top news” or “top people” spots and will update this article with any new information.

Top image courtesy of Flickr, Shawncampbell

More About: Twitter

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RIM Hits Seven-Year Low: Is BlackBerry Maker Ripe For Takeover?

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 02:51 PM PDT

Research In Motion‘s shares hit a seven-year low Wednesday after a report highlighted the decline of the company’s flagship BlackBerry smartphone.

According to a report by Canalys, RIM’s share of the U.S. market was 9% in the third quarter compared with 24% a year earlier, marking a 58% decline.

RIM’s stock price closed at $18.91 Wednesday, which is just under the book value per share of $18.92 and the end of last quarter, according to Bloomberg data. Translation: RIM’s patents, property and other tangible assets are worth more than the company’s value as perceived by Wall Street. Such a situation could make RIM attractive to private equity firms — because there’s less risk of losing money in a takeover if the stock is low.

The company’s latest humiliation comes after its stock fell 66% over the past year. RIM’s flagship BlackBerry phones have continued to lose market share to Apple‘s iPhone and Google‘s Android platform.

The stock performance also shows that investors have little faith in RIM’s turnaround plan, which hinge on the introduction of the new BBX operating system next year. The company’s image was also hurt by an extensive outage last month in North America, Europe and Africa.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Robert_Elder

Research In Motion Stock Chart

Research In Motion Stock Chart by YCharts

More About: android, apple, blackberry, Google, iphone, research in motion

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9 Things You Need to Know About the New Gmail

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 02:33 PM PDT

Google began rolling out its new look for Gmail Tuesday. According to an update on Gmail’s blog, it’s now available for everyone. For now, you can choose whether or not you want the new Gmail, but it’s likely to switch over for all eventually.

Here are nine things you should know about Gmail’s new features:

1. Resizing Options

Gmail users can now control the density of their inbox. Depending on your preference of white space, you choose manually between three sizes: comfortable, cozy or compact.

Click here to view this gallery.

Do the changes make navigating Gmail easier? We want to know your thoughts. Let us know whether you will be switching over or not in the comments.

More About: email, features, gmail, Google, Tech

PayPal Takes Payments Offline With “PayPal Wallet”

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 02:19 PM PDT

Google isn’t the only unorthodox player moving into the offline payments space. PayPal, like the search giant and Visa, is planning to launch a “Wallet” product that aims to replace traditional credit cards at registers.

“If someone had told me ten years ago that PayPal would be doing offline payments, I would have laughed,” said Laura Chambers, PayPal senior director of customer experience, at a showcase for the new PayPal Wallet Wednesday. “[but] it’s no longer going to be about online or offline commerce, ecommerce, m-commerce. It’s just going to be about commerce.”

PayPal Wallet, which is set to start rolling out within the next 12 months, is like its competitors’ counterparts in many ways. It allows users to pay from multiple accounts, store and use gift cards, access special offers and store receipts. Its biggest distinction is that it is not attached to NFC, and therefore not restricted to use on NFC-enabled phones. Users can pay at PayPal-enabled terminals using a PayPal credit card, typing in a PayPal pin or eventually by using an NFC-enabled tap.

terminalThis gives PayPal a huge immediate advantage. In order to use PayPal Wallet, users don’t need to own NFC-enabled phones — which very few of them do. Meanwhile, partner merchants only need a software upgrade to their terminals in order to begin accepting PayPal, not the hardware upgrade they would need to accept mobile tap-and-go payments.

Mobile payments enabled by NFC, however, still have the advantage of allowing consumers to choose which payment method to use before tapping a payment terminal. When they’re swiping a PayPal card or entering a pin, they can’t easily switch between gift cards or multiple accounts in the same way the Google Wallet allows users to swipe through their cards before paying. Technically, PayPal customers could adjust their default settings using the PayPal Wallet mobile app before swiping the card, but that will most certainly make the service less convenient.

In order to make up for this drawback, PayPal made an interesting move: It allowed customers to change their method of payment after they make a purchase. A user could pay for something using a Mastercard, take it home, and then later log in to his or her PayPal account to switch the payment method to Visa instead without any additional fee. Paypal is also offering a payment plan for expensive items at select merchants to some of its users. The merchants get paid immediately, but if the customer choses, they can pay PayPal in several payments.

Though PayPal is not the first payment company to use the word, it was possibly the first to truly be a digital wallet. The service was built on the capability to use multiple payment sources — credit cards, checking accounts and other loyalty cards — from one account. In fact, the company sued Google and two of its former executives shortly after the announcement of Google Wallet over trade secrets.

Even so, PayPal is not known for its exploits beyond payments. And like many payment companies, it has recognized that enticing customers to switch to a new form of payment is going to be about much more than payments.

“Swiping a credit card is a pretty good experience,” Chambers says. “A tap isn’t much easier than a swipe.”

In order to create deals and in-store integration features that it hopes will entice consumers to abandon their credit cards in favor of the PayPal Wallet, its parent company eBay has acquired several companies.

terminalWhere, which eBay acquired in April, holds a patent for a technology called geofencing that enables PayPal’s new wallet to alert customers when there are offers near them. When walking past a favorite coffee shop, for instance, a customer might get a push notification with a discount on coffee. In order for a merchant to send an alert, the recipient needs to add it to a white list (in other words, PayPal is not going to scare customers by blasting them with offers from surrounding merchants).

A related deals feature allows users to compile a wishlist of products. Their white list of companies can offer them deals on the item. If they’re compiling a grocery list, for instance, they’ll be alerted of the coupons available for the items on that list when they enter a vendor that accepts PayPal payments.

Two other recent eBay acquisitions, barcode-scanning price comparison app Redlaser and local shopping search engine Milo, are evident in a PayPal Wallet feature that allows customers to scan an item in a store in order to purchase it from that particular store.

The app also works as a loyalty card. Similar to the Starbucks card that PayPal powers, merchants can chose to reward customers who accumulate points for purchases and checkins.

With its loyalty points, offers and checkins, PayPal Wallet has not only moved into the competitive offline territory of credit card companies, but also into those of checkin apps like Foursquare and deals platforms like Groupon.

“In the offline world,” Chambers says, “if we just changed transactions, I don’t think anybody would take it up.”

More About: ebay, google wallet, milo, mobile payments, nfc, paypal, redlaser, Visa, where

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ESPN Tebow Article Spawns Fill-in-the-Blank Meme and #OccupyTebow

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 02:00 PM PDT

ESPN writer Bill Williamson wrote an innocent article Sunday about NFL quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos, which has sparked an entirely unexpected viral backlash in its comments.

Tebow’s inconsistency as a passer has led to much derision from NFL fans, and was the topic of Williamson’s article. The story now receives what seems to be several comments per second. The post’s commenters have even sparked their own twitter hashtag, #occupytebow.

The comments follow a set rhythm, inserting things that are “better than” Tebow using the “fill-in-the-blank > Tebow” format. Some of the tech-related (and more politically correct) examples that have been posted include Netflix, dial-up modems, Rebecca Black’s singing career and asking for an RT from a celebrity.

Tebow, who was only recently named starter of his NFL team, has already been in the public spotlight for several years. A former University of Florida standout, he led the Gators to two BCS National Championships, and was the first underclassman to win the Heisman trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player in the country.

This is not the first time the player has created an Internet trend. During the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Tebow painted “John 3:16″ on his eye paint. As a result, 92 million people searched for the passage on Google during or shortly after the game.

SEE ALSO: How Social Media is Changing the NFL

More recently, his mid-game moments of prayer have generated an Internet meme, Tebowing. A popular Tumblr was created, which defines Tebowing (“to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different”) and gives people a place to post their own pictures.

For more Business coverage:

Public Petitions Obama to Kill E-Parasites Act

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 12:52 PM PDT

obama image

Efforts to kill a proposed bill that some believe will let the government censor and control Internet content are gaining traction.

We The People, the government’s official, crowdsourced petition site, is hosting a petition to kill the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, informally known as the E-Parasites Act. The act would allow companies to cut off ad dollars to sites they say are hosting pirated or trademarked material, while the government could order search engines and ISPs to remove blacklisted sites from their results.

The magic number for We The People is 25,000 votes gathered within one month. If a petition hits the benchmark, the White House says it will give the petition serious thought and put it in front of top policy makers in the field.

“This bill is a direct assault on a free internet and a shameful attempt by copyright lobbyists to destroy net neutrality,” the petition says. “It’s a censorship law that would end the Internet as we know it in America.”

That may be a grand claim, but it’s gaining serious traction. Started on Oct. 31, the petition currently has approximately 7,000 signatures. It has until Nov. 30 to gain an additional 18,000 to reach the level meriting official review. The E-Parasites Act is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 16, effectively halving the amount of time the petitioners have left to collect those signatures.

Even if the petition receives 25,000 signatures, will the White House give it serious thought? There are a fair number of legitimate petitions on We The People, but for every serious one, there are petitions about recognizing an “Extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.” That petition missed its one-month window, but received nearly 12,000 signatures, more than the E-Parasites Act has so far.

When the White House launched We The People in late September, the administration wanted the public to speak its collective mind. Anybody can create a petition; if it receives enough digital signatures, the White House will review it and issue a personalized statement.

A little more than a month in, the site has seen a fair number of petitions. But is the White House actually taking them seriously? Some users have griped about the stock and stale responses. There is even one petitioning the government to “Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening.” It has 11,050 signatures.

Is the E-Parasites Act a good idea? Is it unconstitutional? And will We The People give it the proper attention it needs? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Barack Obama

More About: barack obama, piracy, Politics, president obama, trending, White House

Yahoo Goes All-In With Mobile

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 12:41 PM PDT

Yahoo released four products Wednesday, and almost all of them were for iPad, Android and mobile.

The big news was Yahoo Livestand for iPad, a social newsstand app that competes directly with Flipboard. But Livestand wasn’t the only product that Team Yahoo released at its Product Runway Even at its headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The struggling digital media giant also released IntoNow for iPad. IntoNow, which Yahoo acquired earlier this year, has the ability to listen to a couple seconds of a TV show and determine what show you are watching. The new iPad app brings that functionality to the tablet, while surfacing related tweets, hashtags and other content. It’s designed to be the ultimate companion app to the TV.

The company also unveiled Yahoo Weather for Android, now available in 35 languages. The app is a simple way to get the weather anywhere in the world (via The Weather Channel), but it also lets users “see” the weather in that location via a mosaic of Flickr photos.

Lastly, Yahoo released a new HTML5 version of Yahoo Mail for the iPad. It provides a simple and clean interface for accessing, drafting, sending and managing emails. Its key feature though is the tile dashboard that gives users access to top stories, weather forecasts, Flickr photos and Yahoo videos.

The commitment to mobile is stark, but it isn’t a surprise. One of the core aspects of Yahoo’s strategy is “to be where the customer goes.” Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving argues that mobile is the key to reaching users.

“We believe innovation in this space is happening on mobile first,” Irving said.

Yahoo’s CPO explained that most people in the developing world won’t come to the Internet via PCs, but will instead access it via mobile devices. And because very few people have figured out consistent ways to generate revenue from mobile, “It becomes important to execute on mobile devices and tablets and do some experiments.”

The company has clearly committed to a “mobile first strategy” as it continues to ponder its fate, and mobile first is a smart strategy in a world where mobile growth continues to accelerate. The products Yahoo launched today are really quite elegant, but the company’s instability is a threat to its innovation pipeline.

Bonus: Yahoo Livestand for iPad

Yahoo Livestand

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More About: android, IntoNow, Livestand, Yahoo, Yahoo Livestand, Yahoo Weather

Mr. Clean to Grow a ‘Stache for Movember

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 12:33 PM PDT

Mr. Clean is poised to get a Facebook-driven facelift this month to celebrate Movember.

The 54-year-old icon will grow a mustache for the Movember initiative, which supports funding for prostate cancer. Mr. Clean’s ‘stache will grow in accordance with the number of Likes he gets, as measured by a “Stache-O-Meter” on his Facebook Page. The Procter & Gamble brand currently has about 166,000 Facebook fans.

Mr. Clean explained his thinking on the issue in an Oct. 29 blog post on “I’ve gone over 50 years without facial hair of any kind. Even the 70′s couldn’t make me grow a moustache. But for an important cause like this, I’m gonna grow the greatest mo’ ever illustrated.” So far, he’s only gotten $25 in pledges.

Though P&G says Mr. Clean is the only North American icon to become an ambassador for Movember, other brands, including Break Media and The Art of Shaving (which offered a free professional shave on Nov. 1), have also tied in to the cause.

The Venice, Calif.-based Movember Foundation has run a mustache-growing initiative since 2004 to raise awareness and funding for men’s health issues, including prostate cancer and depression.

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Marketing, movember, Mr. Clean

Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 12:18 PM PDT

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

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

Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Postings

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

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

Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in New York, NY.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Search Marketing Manager at in Carpinteria, CA.

Digital Marketing Associate at Jewish Community Centers Association of NA in New York, NY.

Search Marketing Specialist at EMBANET COMPASS KNOWLEDGE GROUP in Elk Grove Village, IL.

Search Marketing Specialist at EMBANET COMPASS KNOWLEDGE GROUP in Orlando, FL.

Communications Officer at Concern Worldwide (US) Inc in New York, NY.

Director, Social Media at Razorfish in San Francisco, CA.

Lead Quality Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Manager of Software Engineering at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Developer I, Publications at United States Pharmacopeia in Rockville, MD.

Online Marketer at Assembla LLC in Needham Heights, MA.

Senior Account Manager at The Reader’s Digest Association in New York, NY.

Community Manager at Carrot Creative in New York, NY.

Sr. Software Development Engineer at A2Z Research and Developmen in Lake Forest, CA.

Digital Media Coordinator at Bloomberg LP in New York, NY.

Sr. Software Development Engineer at A2Z Research and Development in Irvine, CA.

Vice President, Digital Consumer at Edelman in New York, NY.

Junior Associate at SKDKnickerbocker in Washington, D.C.

Social Media & Digital Content Specialist at Tauck in Norwalk, CT.

Research executive – social media analysis at blueocean market intelligence in Scottsdale, AZ.

Social Media Director at Sneak Attack Media in New York, NY.

Social Media Specialist at The Boston Beer Company in Boston, MA.

Marketing Director at Greystripe in San Francisco, CA.

Digital Media Planning/Buying Supervisor at Essence Digital in New York, NY.

Front End Engineer at Veetle in Palo Alto, CA.

Lead UI/UX Designer at Veetle in Palo Alto, CA.

Emerging Media and Digital Strategist at Tenthwave Digital in New York, NY.

Creative Developer at Sid Lee Amsterdam in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Software Developer at MTV World in New York, NY.

Digital QA Engineer at Sid Lee Amsterdam in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

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

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

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

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Internet Explorer’s Share of Web Traffic Drops Below 50%

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 11:54 AM PDT

Internet Explorer can no longer claim more than half of the web’s traffic, as of October, ending more than a decade of the default Microsoft browser’s reign.

Safari’s hold on 62.17% of mobile traffic has reduced IE’s overall share of web browsing, despite still claiming 52.63% of desktop traffic, according to

The Microsoft browser’s diminishing share (49.6%) reflects its near absence from the realms of mobile and tablet, which now make up 6% of web traffic. However, chances are, you gave up on IE long enough ago that this milestone makes you more curious as to who actually still uses the browser.

As of October, Firefox is the second most popular web browser, accounting for 21.20% of traffic, followed by Google Chrome and Safari, which account for 16.60% and 8.72% respectively.

Chrome, which recently celebrated its third birthday, experienced the most expansion in October, increasing its share of the desktop market 1.42%.

Safari, the default browser in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, continues to increase its dominance over the mobile web, gaining 6.58% of the market. Safari’s share is increasing faster than the iPhone’s, probably due to how much mobile traffic is now driven by iPads.

As IE loses its edge on the competition, we’re curious to know which browser our readers prefer. Take our polls and tell us which are your browsers of choice for desktop and mobile.

[via Ars Technica ]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alexsl

More About: chrome, Firefox, internet explorer, safari, web browser

HANDS ON: Does Yahoo’s Livestand Stand Up to Flipboard? [PICS]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 11:26 AM PDT

Yahoo Livestand

Click here to view this gallery.

Yahoo has officially launched Livestand, a social newsstand tablet app that presents a new challenge to Flipboard, AOL Editions and other magazine-style apps.

Livestand, now available for iPad, lets users consume news and content from Yahoo’s properties and a slew of partners. OMG!, Yahoo News, Yahoo Today and Yahoo Sports are prominently placed on the app, but that content is mixed with information from Consumer Reports, Forbes, Scientific American, the NFL and several others. Livestand boasts more than 100 content sources in total.

The key feature of Livestand is its ability to deliver a personalized stream of content, based on your Facebook activity and your reading habits. You can log in with a Yahoo or Facebook account, which quickly populates the app with a “Personal Mix” of news that you can check out at a glance.

“Its core technology is a key differentiator,” Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving stated at Yahoo’s Product Runway event at its headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. “The more you use Livestand, the more personalized it becomes.”

While the app is only launching for the iPad for now, it’s designed to be cross-platform. Most of the app is built in HTML5, including its slick animations and navigation. This includes the app’s advertisements, which are designed to be interactive and immersive.

“[Livestand] performs like a native application,” Irving said.

Does Livestand Stand Up to Flipboard?

My initial impression of Livestand is very positive. It’s slick and colorful. It’s clear that Yahoo has thought about the details. Animations are smooth, navigating the app is simple and easy-to-understand instructions appear to guide you through the app’s structure.

It’s also not lacking in content. Having the ability to grab Scientific American, Yahoo News and Forbes from the same application is definitely a big sell. You could spend hours reading content in the app. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to dig into the app’s ability to learn from your reading habits, but its initial stream of content seemed relevant enough.

Here’s the key question, though: Is Livestand better than AOL Editions and Flipboard, though? Does it have what it takes to compete in a tough but growing market?

It’s important to note that Flipboard takes a different approach to content than Livestand. Flipboard connects to your social accounts and pulls news from those accounts. Its fundamental approach is that social is the best way to discover content. Yahoo doesn’t take that approach. Instead, it pulls from a variety of partners, both traditional and non-traditional, and composes your content consumption experience based primarily on your reading habits.

The app is a good first step into the tablet realm, though. The app is a polished product with high-quality content. Whether Livestand is enough to bring Yahoo out of its run remains to be seen.

More About: Flipboard, iOS, ipad, Livestand, Yahoo, Yahoo Livestand

Google Pulls Gmail App for iPhone, iPad: “Sorry We Messed Up”

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 11:21 AM PDT

Mere hours after launching its Gmail for iOS app, Google has yanked it from the iTunes app store.

“The iOS app we launched today contained a bug with notifications,” read a tweet on the Gmail Twitter feed. “We have pulled the app to fix the problem. Sorry we messed up.”

When launched, the Gmail app displayed an error that read: “no valid 'aps-environment' entitlement string found for application." This error appeared to refer to push notifications, such as displaying the number of unread messages on the app icon.

The rest of the app functioned as intended, but many early users registered their disappointment. The app was not able to host email on the user’s device, and seemed little different from the interface you get when visiting Gmail on the Safari browser.

“We're working to bring you a new version soon,” Gmail Product Manager Matthew Izatt wrote in an update to his blog post. “Everyone who's already installed the app can continue to use it.”

We’ve reached out to Google to find out why this much-delayed app was launched with buggy code and a lack of native email hosting. But in the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Error Screen

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More About: gmail, Google

Did Chevy Steal This Commercial Idea From a Popular Blog?

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 11:02 AM PDT

If you were watching game seven of the World Series last Friday, you might have seen a new commercial for Chevrolet. It tugs at the heartstrings, is awash in American nostalgia, and if you’re a web culture aficionado, it probably felt familiar.

That’s because the popular blog Dear Photograph has been getting readers choked up with similar photo illustrations since May.

The site, founded and operated by Taylor Jones, has been growing its reach, and popularized the “picture in picture” concept that elicits nostalgia and family memories.

Of course, no content was taken from Dear Photograph for use in the Chevy ad, but the concept is almost note-for-note.

“When you look at it, there appears to be a lot of creative similarity, so I was hoping they would a least acknowledge that they were inspired by my site,” says Jones. “I didn’t invent the technique of taking a picture of a picture — but I did popularize it by creating a unique site that brings together the physical technique with deeply emotional reflections that are expressed as captions. My site receives submissions from around the world and has been seen by more than 10 million visitors [since launch].”

Jones tells Mashable that neither Chevy nor the agency that created the ad (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) has reached out to him, despite some criticism on the social web and a handful of negative comments on the video’s YouTube page.

But can a creative concept like this be protected as intellectual property?

“Copyright protects the expression, but not the underlying idea,” says Kevin Thompson, an attorney who specializes in trademarks, copyright and Internet law. “So, what Chevy is doing is not actionable, at least with regards to Dear Photograph.”

Thompson likens it to other legal issues where motifs are “borrowed” but no actual content is stolen. “There have been similar lawsuits with JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books. The idea of a young boy wizard facing trials during school was not protectable.”

Indeed, the idea was not wholly the province of Dear Photograph to begin with. It has been employed by artists before, notably Michael Hughes. But what it really comes down to for Chevy is sentiment. The execution is so close in feeling to Dear Photograph that some consumers have taken notice. And a social web scorned is never good for a brand.

Still, Jones is appreciative of the creative nod, even if he hasn’t been acknowledged publicly. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” he says. “Chevy is a iconic brand with a lot of talented people working on the business.”

Mashable reached out to the creators of the ad, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, but they declined to comment on the matter.

In the end, it will be left to the court of Internet opinion. What do you think? Did Chevy crib from Dear Photograph’s unique concept, or are pictures of photographs as old as photography itself? Have your say in the comments, and check out our selection of Dear Photographs below — used with permission, of course.

1. Back in Time

Dear Photograph,
 I want to know what you were like before the illness took over. I'd give anything to go back to this moment and spend the day with you. I hope you're proud of me.
 Love Always,Halle

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, BLOGS, chevrolet, features, trending

Blether Propels Private Twitter Chats

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 10:16 AM PDT

Recognizing the limits of public chats and DMs on Twitter, a Boston startup has introduced a technology that lets you start private Twitter chats.

Blether Labs, which is also based in Dunfermline, Scotland, introduced the beta version of !blether on Tuesday. To start a private group chat, you need only type “!b” at the beginning of your tweet along with the Twitter handles of the people you want to “blether,” Scottish slang for “chat.” Then a clickable URL appears.

The idea, says President David Gerzof Richard, is to corral people on Twitter with whom you are having a conversation to a more accommodating space. “Twitter's a great platform for connecting with like-minded people, but if you ever get a group of people together, DM is kind of stuck at being just a singular conversation between two people,” he says, noting that public conversations can be confusing and hampered by Twitter’s 140-character limit.

Founder Kevin Bradshaw says !blether, which is based on the Zendit platform that received a $50,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise last year, will be financed by advertising at some point as well as a paid professional edition. At the moment, though, it’s free and ad-free.

Bradshaw, who founded online gaming platform i-Play and sold it in 2006, says there are some other companies taking “different approaches to the problem,” but none have !blether’s ease of use.

Like other developers using Twitter’s API, Blether Labs could also become an acquisition target for Twitter if it takes off. Bradshaw says that’s not necessarily the goal, but “I’d take [Twitter's] call.” On the other hand, a successful third-party service that leverages Twitter’s API could also risk obsolescence if Twitter should offer its own product that performed the same task — as it has been criticized for doing.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Just_Human

More About: Blether, Startups, Twitter

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Grand Theft Auto V Trailer Reveals Juicy Game Details [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 09:49 AM PDT

Rockstar Games has finally released the trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, an open-world, crime-based video game. The trailer reveals all kinds of juicy details about the upcoming sure-to-be blockbuster game.

GTA V is the latest game in the GTA series, which often follow the rise of a lowly criminal to the status of mob or gang boss. Most of the game is centered around driving missions with frequent breaks for over-the-shoulder shooting action. The trailer suggests that GTA V won’t drift too far from this formula.

After watching and rewatching the trailer, this is what we found:

  • The game takes place in and around California. The end screen shows the “Hollywood” sign as “Vinewood.”
  • Looks like there might be a mini-golf game.
  • More watercraft, like jet-skis, make an appearance.
  • Setting seems to be the discernible present.
  • The main character seems to be an older white man who heads into crime instead of retiring and being a “good guy.”
  • The main character also seems to have significant wealth.
  • Immigration and illegal workers may make an appearance.
  • Property ownership and management make a return.
  • Some of the game will involve homeless encampments.
  • There’s a brief shot of a fighter jet, although it’s unclear if it will be playable.

Note: All of these are our best guesses after watching the trailer. So take these predictions with a grain of salt. Better yet, let us know what you make you of the trailer. What will the new features be? Was the trailer kick-ass or a letdown? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: games, Gaming, trending, Video, video games

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Gmail for iPhone and iPad Is Here [UPDATED]

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 09:33 AM PDT

Google has finally released a native Gmail app for iOS, bringing its popular email service to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

UPDATE: Google has pulled the app and apologized for a bug with notifications. “Sorry we messed up,” the @gmail account tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

“We've combined your favorite features from the Gmail mobile web app and iOS into one app so you can be more productive on the go,” Gmail Product Manager Matthew Izatt announced in a blog post. “It's designed to be fast, efficient and take full advantage of the touchscreen and notification capabilities of your device.”

The app, which has been rumored for some time, focuses on speed, efficiency, touchscreen actions and iOS notifications. Google boasts that the app finds emails in a user’s inbox in seconds. It comes with email autocomplete and the ability to upload photos with the app’s attachment button. The iPad version also includes the familiar split-screen inbox and email view of its web app counterpart.

Gmail for iOS [iTunes link] includes most of the features one would expect. Users can star, label, archive and delete content. Users can access the Priority Inbox, one of Gmail’s key features. It also includes your standard touchscreen commands, such as pull down to refresh and swipe to scroll through emails.

We’ve noticed the app is missing support for multiple accounts, a key feature of Apple’s native Mail client. We’ve also noticed a frequent error message on startup: “no valid ‘aps-environment’ entitlement string found for application." This appears to mean push notifications are disabled, but the rest of the app is unaffected.

We’re testing the app now, but check it out and let us know in the comments your first impressions of Gmail for iOS.

Error Screen

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More About: gmail, iOS, ipad, iphone, trending

“X Factor” Rankings: Which Finalists Are the Most Popular on YouTube?

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 09:24 AM PDT

1. Drew Ryniewicz

Performance starts at 1:00

Page views as of Nov. 2: 720,469

Click here to view this gallery.

If YouTube views are any indication of who should win or be eliminated on the U.S. version of The X Factor, the show’s judges appear to agree with the online audience so far.

Last week, the judges eliminated five acts to determine the top 12 finalists. Those finalists will compete for the public’s vote for the first time tonight. The eliminated performers attracted the fewest numbers of views as of Nov. 2, while the acts who received the highest praise from the judges also netted the most views.

In the video gallery above, Mashable ranked the top 12 contestants (as well as the five eliminated semi-finalists) based on YouTube views for their Oct. 25 performances.

SEE ALSO: Twitter Now Lets X Factor Viewers Vote via DMs

Drew Ryniewicz, Astro (Brian Bradley) and Melanie Amaro came out as the clear YouTube favorites for X Factor, which has recently sparked more social buzz than the majority of cable or broadcast shows on TV. Flip through the gallery or check out the list below to see how the finalists fared:

  • 1. Drew Ryniewicz: 720,469 page views
  • 2. Astro (Brian Bradley): 682,523
  • 3. Melanie Amaro: 527,522
  • 4. Rachel Crow: 357,274
  • 5. Chris Rene: 327,582
  • 6. Josh Krajcik: 313,974
  • 7. Marcus Canty: 256,840
  • 8. Stacy Francis: 254,766
  • 9. Lakoda Rayne: 213,257
  • 10. LeRoy Bell: 210,861
  • 11. The Stereo Hogzz: 198,480
  • 12. InTENsity: 196,162
  • ELIMINATED: Phillip Lomax: 187,166
  • ELIMINATED: Simone Battle: 179,820
  • ELIMINATED: Tiah Tolliver: 166,002
  • ELIMINATED: Dexter Haygood: 160,926
  • ELIMINATED: The Brewer Boys: 116,573

The X Factor doesn’t tally YouTube views as votes, but the stats still show which finalists are resonating with YouTube users, who often help the contestants get more exposure by sharing the videos on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.

For now, the show has five voting methods, including a new way to support their favorite performer: Twitter direct message-enabled voting.

SEE ALSO: The X Factor Gets Social With Help From Pepsi

Viewers also can vote by calling, texting, going to the show’s website or — if you’re a Verizon subscriber with an Android device — using The Xtra Factor App.

Who’s your favorite contestant so far? Do you track YouTube views to monitor which performers are the most popular? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Entertainment, Music, social tv, television, the x factor, viral videos, x factor, YouTube

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The Future of Trash: 4 Ways Tech Is Improving Recycling Rates

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 09:00 AM PDT

The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

The world is now inhabited by 7 billion individuals, and as you can imagine, we produce a lot of trash. In the U.S., each person produces 4.6 pounds of trash each day, and 132 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were discarded in landfills in 2009. Just over 35% of that was recycled.

For context, here are some stats: Greece recycles about 10% of its waste, the UK about 17% and Austria about 60%. Back in 2008, the European parliament passed a measure to achieve a recycling rate of 50% for household waste and 70% for construction waste.

There are several ways to go about this improving recycling rates and reducing waste. On the island of Taiwan, the government has forgone curbside trash cans and established detailed and mandatory trash collection schedules in a quest to minimize waste, since there’s no room for landfills. In Germany, which leads the world in waste reduction, the Green Dot program’s strict rules dictate how citizens dispose of 30 million tons of garbage each year, helping the country reduce its waste by one million tons each year.

U.S. recycling from 1960 to 2009.

Landfilling is the easy way out, costing about one-third as much as a waste energy facility, says Bryan Staley, vice president of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, a private, grant-making institution that supports solid waste research and education initiatives. But governments and waste management companies are looking for innovative ways to recycle more products, to make waste more sustainable and to incentivize people to pay attention to their waste output. Waste management is a $75 billion industry with 20,000 players. One tool they’re using is technology.

“Sit in the front of a garbage truck, and it literally looks like a cockpit of a 737,” says Staley. “It is amazing how complex the driver’s seat is for these garbage trucks.”

And it’s amazing what tech can do for our throwaways. Read on for four methods of high tech trash collection.

1. RFID Tracking

Staley says RFID technology allows for “nonhuman interaction of providing data related to solid waste pickup and collection activities” — the stats can’t be monkeyed around with. RFID technology has been around for several years, but its implementation in the waste management sector has boomed in the past five.

With an RFID tag on one’s trash cans and an RFID reader on the garbage truck, a city can verify where and when pickups are being done — there’s an electronic record of the truck’s route, along with a time stamp and geospatial stamp. If you use RFID on recycling bins, you can track participation rates and know who recycled, then at the end of a route, you can calculate how many recyclables are in the load and how many homes the items came from, thus yielding how many recyclables there are per household. This information can help analysts see what demographics are participating in recycling programs — you can easily compare a neighborhood with $1 million homes to a Section 8 housing neighborhood. In areas where participation is low, the city can create incentive programs.

RFID Smart Bins are in use in 44 cities in the U.S., including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Houston.

2. Pay As You Throw

Another system that can be implemented with RFID tags is Pay As You Throw — add a scale to the truck and you can figure out the weight of the garbage being tossed by each home. Charge by the pound (the customer’s account is linked to the RFID tag), and you’ll be incentivizing customers to minimize their waste.

This works in a perfect world, since “everybody starts perking up when you hit them in the wallet,” says Staley. But PAYT fails in dense urban areas, like New York City, where apartment buildings can house dozens of residents whose trashed gets lumped together, making it impossible to know who tossed what or how much. And the system is subject to abuses, where one could drop off a bag of trash at a nearby convenience store and evade the garbage fees. PAYT works best in middle- and upper-middle-income areas, where the cost per pound won’t leave a notable dent in the wallet.

Pay As You Throw is currently in place in 2,000 U.S. communities, the Netherlands and has been considered in the UK.

3. Strategic Placement of Recycling Bins

If you’re in the park, and you’ve just finished up your bottle of water, do you throw it in a garbage can, or do you hold onto it until you finding a recycling bin? It’s certainly not convenient to hold on to it, but Staley says some people are socially and environmentally conscious enough to do just that, and an EREF grant is out to WeRecycle at the University of Georgia to analyze this very phenomenon — how human behavior influences recycling rates.

The research involves GPS-equipped readers on trash cans that send a signal conveying how many bottles have been thrown out in that can. All of the data from the study is wired up to a website, so you can click on a map and see where all the cans are and see the recycling rates at each one. The results will help determine where recycle bins should be placed in order to maximize recycling rates. WeRecycle also has an Android app that helps people find the nearest trash and recycling bins, which is especially useful at big events and parades.

In dense urban areas, only 20% of recyclable bottles are actually recycled, says Staley, suggesting that a few strategically placed bins could go a long way. He adds that most people consume bottled water when they’re on the go, and if there’s no recycling bin on the street or in a park, then that bottle is likely not going to get recycled.

“Human behavior plays a large role in recycling,” says Staley, adding that catering to human behavior could go a long way to increased recycling rates.

4. Gasification

What may be trash to you could be energy for someone else. A lot of energy, considering that only 2% of the energy potential in solid waste is used. Companies like Enerkem in Canada, Geoplasma in Florida and Ze-Gen in Boston are converting waste into biofuels through gasification technology. The process (Ze-Gen’s is shown above) generates clean, sustainable, low-cost synthesis gas — a “syngas” — comprised of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas. Syngas is 50% of the density of natural gas, and has multiple uses: a replacement for fossil fuels, a building block for liquid fuel production, a way to refine crude oil, a catalyst for thermal ethanol production, and it can be processed into green diesel fuel.

Basically, these companies chemically recycle the carbon molecules from waste, creating products and transportation fuels, though each company has a slightly different pitch:

  • Enerkem transforms the syngas into “cellulosic ethanol” and methanol, which can be used to create a clean-burning fuel. Gasoline with ethanol has more oxygen, which helps it combust more completely, thus reducing emissions.
  • Ze-gen‘s gasification technology is used to convert ordinary waste into a reliable energy source. One ton of solid waste has the equivalent energy of 600kWh or a barrel of oil.
  • Geoplasma uses electricity and high-pressure air to create a super hot plasma that vaporizes waste and creates syngas, which is used to turn an electrical turbine. It currently processes 1,500 tons of garbage each day.

While gasification is a great conversion mechanism, it hasn’t been able to scale as a widespread solution.

Even in a perfect world, one in which everything that could be recycled is recycled, Staley says the maximum rate of recycling would be around 60% or 70% — with a realistic recycling rate around 50% or 60%. “We're going to lose a certain amount into a landfill regardless,” he says. But technology has already made — and will continue to make — great strides in improving recycling and waste management worldwide.

Do you pay as you throw? Are you a big recycler? What system does your neighborhood or country use? Let us know in the comments below.

Series Supported by BMW i


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hroe, JacobH

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