Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “RIM Announces BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “RIM Announces BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380”

RIM Announces BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 03:25 AM PST

RIM has announced two new BlackBerry smartphones, both sporting BlackBerry OS 7 – the Bold 9790 and Curve 9380.

BlackBerry Bold 9790 offers a standard BlackBerry form factor, with a physical QWERTY keyboard and a 2.44-inch screen with a 360 x 480 pixel resolution. It also sports a 5-megapixel camera on the back, a 1 GHz CPU and 8 GB of storage memory, further expandable via microSD cards.

BlackBerry Curve 9380 replaces the physical keyboard with a larger, 3.2-inch screen with a 480 x 360 pixel resolution. Its specifications aren’t officially out yet, but rumors say it will have a 5-megapixel camera, 1 GB of storage and an 800 MHz CPU.

The prices for both devices are still unknown, but they’ll be hitting the market over the “coming weeks.”

In other BlackBerry news, the Verge obtained an image of a device possibly called BlackBerry London, which is rumored to have a dual-core, 1.5 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage memory and an 8-megapixel rear camera, as well as a 2-megapixel one on the front.

If real – and it’s still very much in rumor territory – BlackBerry London should be the first device from RIM to sport the upcoming BBX operating system.

More About: blackberry, BlackBerry Bold 9790, BlackBerry Curve 9380, BlackBerry London, RIM

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Malicious Hackers Target Twilight Fans

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:48 AM PST

As the next movie in the Twilight Saga film series nears its premiere, malicious hackers are taking advantage of Twilight fans by poisoning links in Twilight-related searches with malware, Norton’s experts warn.

Some of the search terms that will return results infected with malware are “Nude pictures of Taylor Lautner,” “Robert and Kristin kissing” and “Twilight true love.”

Clicking on some of the links resulting from these searches might get your PC, tablet or smartphone infected with viruses or keyloggers, so be extra careful when searching for Twilight-related material.

Twilight Saga fans are a common target for malicious hackers. In April 2011, we saw a Twilight game scam spread virally on Facebook, and similar scams have accompanied every movie in the series.

The next movie in the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 1) should hit cinemas on Nov.18. Norton‘s experts expect to see even more Twilight-related malware, scams and spam as the excitement around the movie grows.

More About: hackers, malware, trending, twilight, twilight saga, virus

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Siri’s Sister Company Launches a Discovery Engine

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 09:01 PM PST

Trapit Activity Feed

Trapit now has an activity feed to surface the most recent content.

Click here to view this gallery.

Trapit, a startup that personalizes content with the same artificial intelligence technology that powers Apple’s Siri, is launching its public beta.

Trapit was unveiled in June as a system for personalizing content based on keywords, URLs and reading habits. The company describes itself as a “Pandora for content.” By using its A.I. technology, Trapit can identify related content based on contextual data from more than 50,000 sources.

Like Siri, Trapit was born from the $200 million CALO Project (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes). CALO was the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history. It was funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Department of Defense’s research arm.

Since its private beta, Trapit has been working hard to revamp its discovery engine. The biggest change is its shift toward search. Trapit now prominently features a search bar on the top of the page. A search for a topic (e.g. “Space”) returns 100 results (“traps”) with articles and content related to that topic.

Clicking on a result returns a trap filled with content related to that article or piece of content. These traps get smarter as you click on articles and vote up or down content within them, improving their relevancy over time.

Trapit has also thought about the site’s usability. The company has added a real-time activity feed that makes it easier to find the newest articles within a specific search or trap.

“You need technology to discover [content] for you,” Trapit co-founder Gary Griffiths says.

The changes directly position it against Google, though the company claims that it isn’t in the business of search. “We don’t think of ourselves as a search engine,” says Trapit co-founder Hank Nothhaft says. “We do think the web is shifting from search to discovery.”

Nothhaft and co-founder Gary Griffiths say “Google is like the yellow pages.” It is best suited for finding exact things like a replacement part or an exact date. It fails, however, as a real-time discovery engine — a way to find content you may not have even known you wanted.

“We’re going to be on a collision course with Google,” Griffiths says.

More About: Google, siri, startup, Trap.it, Trapit

How Occupy Wall Street Is Building Its Own Internet [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 08:32 PM PST

Protesters at Zuccotti Park have enough resources to satisfy a small village: hot food, live entertainment, even a library.

But perhaps their most effective resource comes from a nine-foot-high pole known as the “Freedom Tower”, usually stationed at the southwest corner of the park and currently being redesigned to run on batteries charged by a biodiesel generator.

It’s free WiFi, but not as you know it.

“The movement is very much catalyzed and made possible by our newfound ability to communicate with each other directly,” says Isaac Wilder, who has camped at various Occupy Wall Street sites since September. “Rather than saying when you get home, ‘I was at the park today,’ they can say ‘hey, I am at Zuccotti park. Come join me.’”

Wilder and his friend Charles Wyble are the founders of The Free Network Foundation. In mid-October, they assembled two modems and six radio antennas to create the Freedom Tower, Occupy Wall Street’s public WiFi source. Their foundation has been paying about $80 each month to keep New York City’s resident protesters online.

Their larger goal, however, is an ambitious one: creating a new kind of Internet, with an off-the-grid component just for OWS.

When their work is done, the pair hope to have created a decentralized peer-to-peer network that provides discounted Internet access across the country, via what is known as a mesh network.

Mesh networks connect multiple nodes to one Internet access point. Think peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as Bittorrent, but physical connections. Many individual computers in the network can connect to the source — in this case the Internet access point — through connections with each other. In this way, many computers can share one access point.

Mesh networks are also considered more secure than traditional connections. Two computers connected to the same mesh network can communicate directly, instead of sending their messages via a remote server where it could theoretically be intercepted or blocked. Indeed, mesh networks have often been discussed as a way for demonstrators to keep their communications private and secure.

“Many people thought of a similar solution when the Internet was down in Egypt, during the January revolution,” says Terek Amr, a network architect who lives in Cairo. “But it remained an idea.” In fact, he says, “people living near Tahrir square opened their access points for the demonstrators to use freely [though a network never materialized].”

Creating a national version of the peer-to-peer network, however, would take decades. Nothing near that scale has ever been accomplished using the technology. Wilder hopes that eventually enough Occupy Wall Street supporters will set up towers so that messages sent between sites can hop through network nodes rather than making the trip to a centralized server.

One day, hopes the Free Network Foundation, this network will cover the entire country and nobody will be required to send a message through an ISP. Essentially, this would allow participants — who would be sharing Internet access points — to buy Internet access at a bulk rate.

“If you become an ISP,” Wilder says, “you pay an ISP rate.”

Achieving nationwide discounted, decentralized Internet would be difficult. According to Wilder’s estimates, FNF would need to build about 70,000 towers across the United States before the network would be a viable form of communication. So far there are four: at Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Austin, Occupy San Antonio and Occupy Los Angeles.

“We already have small scale examples of what they are willing to do, so technically it should be feasible,” Amir says. “I believe there will be many other obstacles such as legal or economical issues. For example, here in Egypt, no one is allowed to cover public areas using WiFi without having license from the government … mobile operators will sure lobby to ban such a thing, as it will directly harm their business.”

The Free Network Foundation, like the Occupy Wall Street Journal and OWS TV commercials, has started a crowdfunding campaign to help them chip away at their ambitious project. Their goal is $75,000, and they got a $10,00 head start as a prize at a social technology conference.

“It’s totally alpha,” Wilder says. “It’s still something we’re still very much working on.”

More About: mesh network, Occupy Wall Street, trending

How Salman Rushdie Used Twitter to Defeat Facebook

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:36 PM PST

In the annals of Facebook, this will hardly be remembered as the social network’s finest hour.

On Monday, world-famous author Salman Rushdie, who won the “Booker of Booker” prize for his novel Midnight’s Children, revealed that Facebook had deleted his account at the weekend — and then, when he sent the company a copy of his passport to prove who he said he was, denied him the right to use “Salman” as his first name. (The author’s full given name, which he never uses, is Ahmed Salman Rushdie.)

Facebook compounded the error by failing to respond to Rushdie’s requests — until the author took to Twitter to share his tale of frustration. He encouraged his followers to make light of the situation, thereby attracting the social network’s attention.

It worked. Facebook reinstated Rushdie’s profile in a matter of two hours, and in another hour the company had issued an official apology. Still, the incident throws light on an important and odd Facebook regulation: you can tell the service you are called whatever you like, but if it ever sees your ID, you’ll be forced to go with your given name.

Here, in Joseph Campbell-style storybook form, is how Rushdie’s tweets unfolded.

The hero begins his quest

Rushdie began his tale with this tweet to his 114,000 Twitter followers.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, Salman Rushdie, Top News, Top Stories, Twitter

Tay Zonday Fixes the Economy With Music [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:48 PM PST

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

“Are you confused about the economy? Well have no fear/I’m going to explain the American economy right now,” sings Tay Zonday in his newest video titled “Mama Economy.”

Zonday shot to fame after his by-all-rights-ridiculous video for “Chocolate Rain” went viral. The song hit the web in April 2007 and has since racked up more than 73 million views. The song, in which the always-strange Zonday singing about … something, gained popularity more for Zonday’s odd, amateurish naivety than for the merits of the song. Intent-be-damned, “Chocolate Rain” ended up in shows like South Park and was covered by musicians such as John Mayer. Zonday himself went on a mini talk circuit, including stops on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America and write ups in USA Today and The Toronto Star.

Throughout, Zonday kept his head high and kept making songs. The production values improved (marginally) but he kept his characteristic baritone and cringe-worthy lyrics.

In “Mama Economy” it’s apparent the recession has been getting Zonday down. The song is sort of like if an auctioneer tone-dropped his voice and tried to explain, more or less, the entire economy in four and a half minutes over a violin and 8-bit bloops. And it rhymed … Sort of.

Zonday hits on corporations, money valuations, the national debt, principles of borrowing from a bank and the fact that razor blades oxidate when you… wait, what? Zonday was never (ever) known for his word play but, to his credit, he actually has some decent chops and the kind of optimistic confidence that could fell a tree.

Take a listen and let us know: Great Tay Zonday song? Or greatest Tay Zonday song?

More About: Video, viral-video-of-the-day, YouTube

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Sprint Undercuts Verizon and AT&T With New Mobile Broadband Plans

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:45 PM PST

Sprint revealed new mobile broadband plans for tablet and mobile hotspot devices on Monday, with prices that are lower per gigabyte than those offered by rivals Verizon and AT&T.

Learn more about them and how they compare to the competition in the video above.

More About: mobile broadband, sprint

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Yes, You Can Install the Nook App on a Kindle Fire [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 06:09 PM PST

Although Amazon goes out of its way to hide all traces of vanilla Android from its new Kindle Fire tablet, it turns out tech-savvy users can still install select third-party Android applications outside the auspices of the Amazon Appstore. These apps include Amazon competitors, like Barnes & Noble’s Nook app for Android.

Perusing through the settings of our Kindle Fire review unit, I came across an interesting line item. Under the settings section labeled “Device,” there is an option that says “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources.” Now, this is a common setting on most Android devices, but Amazon was clear with me at the launch event that the device would not support Google’s Android Market. I assumed that meant that no third-party app downloads would be supported.

It turns out, some third party apps and third-party app stores are accessible from the Kindle Fire. After enabling installation from unknown sources, I headed to my favorite non-corporate Android app store, GetJar.

GetJar doesn’t list the Kindle Fire in its device listing, so I chose another Android 2.3 device and then followed the instructions to download the GetJar.apk from GetJar’s mobile site. Once downloaded, I installed the app.

The app appears in the app shelf alongside the standard Amazon Appstore apps.

Welcome to the Amazon Nook

After installing the GetJar app, I went on my merry way installing various third-party apps. Some apps would simply redirect to an entry in the Amazon Appstore. Other would refuse to download.

Still, a number of apps installed without any problem — including the Barnes & Noble Nook app for Android. The awesomeness of running the Nook app on the Kindle is partially a novelty, sure, but it actually adds quite a bit of value to the device.

Third-party apps via GetJar are still hit or miss on the Kindle Fire, so your mileage may vary. Still, this development indicates that perhaps Amazon hasn’t locked down the ecosystem quite as much as we previously expected.

More About: android, kindle fire, nook, Nook Tablet, Top News, Top Stories

Task Management and Collaboration Make The Perfect Duet In Orchestra To-Do

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 05:57 PM PST

Orchestra To-Do is a task manager app with a beautiful interface and many useful functions, including the sharing and assigning of different tasks.

Upon opening the app, you are asked to log in or sign up for an account. It’s completely painless and takes only a few seconds. Small pop-ups, as a kind of tutorial, will show you around the app initially so you can get the hang of it.

Tap the task button on the bottom, in the middle, to add tasks. You can set up due dates and assign the task to an individual or group. Unfortunately, it does need to implement a reoccurring task feature. This is one thing I found that it lacks.

To record tasks with your voice, just press and hold the task key. Use it like a walkie-talkie to effortlessly add tasks using only your voice.

One of the great things about Orchestra is the easy and fast way in which you can collaborate with others. Although you can share task lists from the Reminders app in iOS 5, it’s a bit more involved. Orchestra let’s you share specific tasks with others who don’t have the app and you can even chat with them.

For people without the app, they receive an SMS asking them to accept the task (once you assign it to them and add their phone number). They can click the link and a mobile version of the app will pop up in their web browser. Viewing the live updates as they happened, both on the Web and in the app, was amazing. (Special thanks to Karen for being my guinea pig and sending me the screenshots.)

The Orchestra app syncs flawlessly with its Web interface, which is just as gorgeous as the app itself. It could definitely compete with the amazing Wunderlist — if only it had a Mac and an iPad app, as well.

It’s still in beta, but it’s a superb start. I was thoroughly impressed with the design, ease of use, and functionality.

Although it seems that you can do most everything that this app does using Siri and Reminders together, those of you still running your iDevice on iOS 4 will really want to check this one out. Orchestra To-Do is available in the App Store for free.

Image courtesy of Flickr, adesigna

More About: GTD, iphone apps, task management

Half of Water-Damaged UK Cellphones Fall in Toilets [STUDY]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 05:26 PM PST

Have you ever dropped your mobile phone in the toilet, er, loo? A new study reveals almost 15% of Britons have. That might explain how 16% of mobile phones have poop on them.

GoodMobilePhones.co.uk surveyed 1,937 mobile users over 18 and found that 31% of respondents have damaged their mobiles with water or another liquid in the past.

The number one destination for mobile damage is the toilet, claiming 47% of damage incidents. Spilling drinks on mobiles or dropping mobiles into drinks was the second most popular cause of damage, claiming 21% of cases. Filling spots three through five are dropping phones in a bath or shower (12%), dropping in a kitchen sink (7%) and putting through the washing machine in a pocket (3%).

Men are three times more likely to be victims than women, with 73% and 27% respectively reporting to have damaged their devices.

The study also revealed 86% of Britons did not insure their phones before their deaths by water.

Have you ever damaged your mobile? What was the cause?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Plemon Studios

[Via Daily Mail]

More About: cellphones, Mobile

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YouTube Upgrades Its Android App

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 05:18 PM PST

YouTube has just updated its Android app to version 2.3.4, and while the changes aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they do add-in some pretty useful new functionality.

Regardless of if you’re a big video watcher, or someone who’s more into uploading your own clips, there should be something in this release to catch your interest.

The introduction of a “watch later” queue brings that feature from the web-based YouTube to its mobile app. As you discover videos you’re interested in viewing, you can easily add them to your queue, and then watch them later at your leisure.

Uploaders should pay attention to the change in clip info editing features, letting you revise the metadata associated with a video while you’re still in the middle of uploading it.

Finally, the app gets a Google +1 button, giving you another tool to show your support for your favorite YouTube vids. The updated YouTube 2.3.4 is available in the Android Market now.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Rego – d4u.hu

More About: android, YouTube

What 11/11/11 Looked Like On Twitter [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 04:39 PM PST

Nerd New Year, the alternate name for 11/11/11, has come and gone. And just like the regular New Year, when Twitter records have been broken, it was a popular day to tweet.

This video, created by Twitter’s in-house data visualization specialist Miguel Rios, puts a geographic spin on that fact. It shows a wall of tweets moving around the world — first at 11:11am local time, then at 11:11pm. The scale of the “1″ represents the volume of tweets from that location.

“Whether you were inclined to crack a joke about this rare binary occurrence, wax poetic about its meaning, or join in a global game to share photos at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., numerology dominated the conversation,” read a post about the visualization video on the official Twitter blog.

As fascinating as it is, the video is incomplete — there’s no clock to tell us exactly what time we’re seeing at any given moment. The two waves of 11:11 local time are easy to pick out, but some parts of the U.S. seem to have jumped the gun, while tweeters in Europe and the Middle East seem to form a second wave of interest in the date.

Can Twitter visualizations like this be useful, or are they just interesting novelties? Let us know in the comments.

More About: design, Twitter, visualization

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

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 04:07 PM PST

Just by looking at the top television trends, you can tell awards season is upon us. The BET Hip Hop Awards and the Latin Grammys topped the cable and broadcast categories, respectively. The CMAs and MTV Europe Music Awards came in second and third in either category as well. We can’t wait to see how new Oscar host Billy Crystal affects the social TV rankings in 2012.

Also, we’d just like to say something else really quickly: Spongebob, really?

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: features, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, Trendrr, TV

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iTunes Match Has Us on Cloud Nine [REVIEW]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 03:30 PM PST

iTunes Match is now available and ready for sign-ups.

Apple introduced the service back at WWDC 2011; it’s a way to access all your iTunes music via the cloud, for a fee.

Similar to Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google Music, iTunes Match offers users the ability to access their music libraries — whether tracks were purchased via iTunes or not — from iTunes on a Mac or PC and from iOS 5 devices, including the Apple TV 2.

The service is $24.99 a year. For that $25, users can upload up to 25,000 tracks to the iTunes Cloud (past iTunes purchases do not count against that total) and access their tunes on up to 10 devices.

We’ve been playing with the service since it first hit beta and have watched it evolve from a promising — if buggy — tool into a well executed consumer-centric music solution.

After downloading iTunes 10.5.1, users can opt to enable iTunes Match. After paying the annual fee, iTunes will scan a user’s iTunes library and upload or match the songs that it finds to its servers.

Apple has a catalog of more than 20 million songs, which means most users’ existing albums and tracks will already be in Apple’s database, drastically reducing the amount of time it takes to upload a library to the cloud.

This is a major advantage over both Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music. Another major advantage is that unlike Amazon, which requires pre-Cloud Player purchases to be uploaded to its servers retroactively, all of your iTunes purchases are accessible, thanks to iTunes in the Cloud.

iTunes Match and iTunes in the Cloud: Perfect Harmony

iTunes Match and iTunes in the Cloud work hand-in-hand. You can use iTunes in the Cloud without iTunes Match, but when the two are working together, the entire process is utterly seamless.

Over the course of nearly eight years, I have downloaded several thousand songs from iTunes. Most of them are downloaded onto my iMac or stored on an aging hard-drive based iPod. With iTunes Match/iTunes in the Cloud, I have access to all of my past purchases in my library. Even if I haven’t downloaded those songs to my MacBook Pro, the songs are still viewable and playable.

Playing back these songs can take place in two ways. First, I can just stream the song from the web, a la Spotify, MOG or Rdio. I can also opt to download a track to my hard drive.

I can also create playlists or smart playlists using tracks from my existing iTunes purchase library. On secondary machines, local uploads are accessible in the same way that my iTunes purchases are.

The experience is similar to what subscribers to services like Spotify have long enjoyed, but the difference is that now the songs I actually own (or have acquired in other ways) are included.

Playlist Synchronization

The iTunes Match/iTunes in the Cloud harmony really comes together with playlist synchronization.

You no longer need to manually sync playlists with your iOS device via iTunes — instead it all takes place over the cloud. That means my iPhone can see playlists I’ve created on my laptop or desktop.

The process works in reverse too. I can create playlists on my iPad or iPhone and then access those playlists from within iTunes on the desktop or from another iOS device.

Matching Songs with iTunes

After signing up for iTunes Match, the service will assess your library and upload tracks from your personal library into the iTunes cloud.

If Apple can find a song in its own repository, it just matches the song in place. For songs not available in Apple's servers, your own files are uploaded directly to the cloud.

Click here to view this gallery.

High Quality Matched Tracks

Although most of my personal compressed musical files are stored in LAME V0 (~225-278 bitrate, depending on the file), I have accumulated some lesser quality tracks over the years.

By default, if iTunes Match finds a song in its library, it will replace that track with a 256-kbps AAC version. These files are DRM free when downloaded from the cloud — and appear to be the same files users purchase directly from iTunes.

For some users, having improved sound quality will be a big deal, though less discerning fans might not hear much of a difference.

Keep in mind Amazon also encodes its MP3s at at least 256kbps, so tracks purchased on Amazon.com, uploaded to iTunes, really just wind up changing from one format for another.

That’s an important distinction; although the iTunes Match tracks are stored by iTunes, they are in the AAC or *.m4a format. Most MP3 players will play this format, but be sure to check if you want to sideload those tracks to another device.

Listening on the Go

If you want to listen to tracks from iTunes or an Apple TV 2 device, you can stream songs without local downloads. Listening to songs on the iPad or iPhone, however, will download a track (though it plays it during the download process).

It would be nice if there was a way to indicate if you want to save a track for offline listening or if you just want to stream tunes. The advantage of this download upon play method, however, is that if you are suddenly offline (like on the subway), you can still listen to tracks you’ve recently played on your device.

Agains the Competition

iTunes Match competes directly with Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player.

On the whole, iTunes Match stacks up well against the other services. Although Google Music is free during the beta process, we expect the company will charge $20 to $25 a year, just like Amazon and Apple. Amazon charges $20 a year for a 20GB Cloud Drive, but promises unlimited song storage.

Google limits users to 20,000 songs and iTunes Match is limited to 25,000 songs, not counting your existing iTunes purchases.

Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple does not have a browser-based music player. For some, this may be a deal breaker. For me, it’s actually an advantage.

I find web-based music apps to be clunky in execution. It’s why I prefer the designated desktop apps for subscription streaming services. It’s also why I loathe using Amazon Cloud Player, because the process of getting songs into or out of my account is so tedious.

iTunes isn’t perfect, but it handles track playback, upload and download with much less friction than a web interface.

Of course, the biggest difference between the services is mobile device support. Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music are both available via unofficial iOS apps, but there are native solutions available for Android.

iTunes Match is only accessible from iTunes or iOS devices. That means Android users are out of luck when it comes to cloud-based bliss. You can still offload songs to your phone, using programs like DoubleTwist, but the cloud-based options are iOS only.

Still, for a person invested in the iTunes ecosystem, iTunes Match is the mature execution of the music cloud concept.

For me, paying $24.99 a year was worth it just to have seamless playlist access as well as the ability to upload parts of my collection from multiple machines.

What do you think of iTunes Match? Let us know.

More About: apple, Cloud Music, Feature, icloud, itunes-match, redesign

Local Digital Ad Revenue to Hit $37.9 Billion by 2015 [STUDY]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 02:45 PM PST

Spending on local digital ads will grow from $23.3 billion in 2011 to $37.9 billion in 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey. However, the local media research firm lowered its expectations for combined digital and traditional local advertising revenues in 2011 from $136.2 billion to $135.9 billion.

The share of digital media spend will increase from 14.6 percent of all local ad revenues in 2010 to 18.9 percent in 2012 and 25.4 percent in 2015, according to Kelsey’s “Annual U.S. Local Media Forecast, 2010-2015 – Fall Update.”

The company also measured expenditures on social media by local and national advertisers, noting that $4.6 billion will be spent on social network ad formats in 2012, up from $2.1 billion in 2010. By 2015, that will go up to $8.3 billion. National advertisers dominate in social ad spending, though; in 2012, $3.5 billion of the $4.6 billion total will be spent by national ad buyers.

More About: Advertising, location

9 Humorous Tweets About the NBA Breakup

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 02:39 PM PST

After four months in a lockout, the NBA rejected the NBA Players Association’s latest proposal Monday — and decided to completely disband the union. The players now face an antitrust lawsuit and the possibility of losing the 2011-12 NBA season altogether.

According to the Washington Post, the proposal called for a 50-50 division of players’ income and a 72-game season that would begin on Dec. 15. Since the NBA and the union failed to reach an agreement, NBA players will now begin to lose out on enormous paychecks.

In an ESPN interview, Commissioner David Stern warned of a “nuclear winter of the NBA” and promised “years of litigation” for the players.

The story is now so popular that Twitter users created the hashtag #XBA. Check out the gallery to see how some Twitter users are poking fun at the situation.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Pinopic

More About: NBA, sports, Twitter

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Hunger Games Launches Official Trailer and Facebook Mayor Campaign [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 02:04 PM PST

Lionsgate has ramped up its ambitious viral campaign for the upcoming film The Hunger Games, launching an official trailer and an inspired addition to the movie’s Facebook campaign Monday.

The two-and-a-half-minute trailer premiered on iTunes Movie Trailers on Monday, following a teaser that launched during the MTV Video Music Awards in late August.

That teaser carried the hashtag #whatsmydistrict. Those who looked up the hashtag on Twitter were led to a “hidden” website, thecapitol.pn, where users were assigned a District, much like the inhabitants of Hunger Games‘ dystopian world.

That part of the campaign has evolved as well. Now, thanks to integration provided by the Crowd Factory, fans have the ability to become the “mayor” of their district on Facebook by following a prompt. At that point, they’re given a unique URL to a CapitolTV video they can share. The most influential sharer will then become mayor.

Mayors will be turned into official District representatives and receive exclusive prizes, news about their District's Tributes and appearances at Capitol-sponsored events.

More About: Lionsgate, Marketing, the hunger games

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“Technology Hump” Is Perverted Fun From SNL [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 01:49 PM PST

Ever want to see an iPad get it on with an Xbox 360 controller in a diorama hotel room, and with voice “acting” from Saturday Night Live? If you just shouted “yes,” well, that’s an improbably strange, happy coincidence. Saturday Night Live is known for some pretty off-beat humor, but this skit takes the cake.

“We’re Going to Make Technology Hump” comes from last weekend’s show, hosted by Emma Stone. In it, Stone and Andy Samberg host a softcore tech porn TV show where they, literally, make technology hump. This skit has everything: Android devices, cheap porn music, digital cameras, curling irons and more. The skit has three bizarre scenes that mimic the style of cheesy softcore porn movies complete with lame dialogue and absurd plot lines.

The video is pretty much safe for work, though anyone overhearing the video is going to have some questions. No nudity, just a whole lot of digital innuendo. It gives “unwrapping” a brand new meaning.

More About: funny, Gadgets, snl, technology, Video

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11 Digital Tools for Keeping Tabs on Your Personal Finances

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 01:33 PM PST

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

Keeping on top of your finances requires near-constant work. Whether it’s getting more for your money or just paying routine bills on time, it’s difficult to understand where your money is going when you don’t have your eye on it. It can be even more of a challenge figuring it out when there are roommates, friends or family also splitting the monthly bills.

Tired of swimming in a pile of paper notices and getting lost in your own bank account? These 11 digital tools are super-charged to tackle the depths of financial management. Covering everything from personal budgeting to portfolio management, these apps are easy, intuitive and put your accounts into easy-to-read charts and graphs.

Do you have an app that you trust more than your accountant? Tell us in the comments below.

1. Mint

A subset of Intuit, free personal finance tool Mint is a go-to for those who are ready to reign in their finances. Mint not only monitors any income deposits, but also tracks spending, bills and fees in easily organized and visually pleasing graphics.

"Mint has the advantage of working across 18,000 banks, credit unions and brokerage and investment firms, so you can see all of your balances and a complete picture," says Mint founder Aaron Patzer of his application, which is now available for the web, iPhone, iPad and Android.

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Series supported by smart

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

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kizilkayaphotos

More About: apps, features, finance, mashable, Mobile, paypal, Trendsetter Tech Series

Twitter Can Predict Who’s Winning the GOP Presidential Race [STUDY]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 01:08 PM PST

Twitter Follower Spikes Predict Election Polls

Political candidates do better in the polls when they gain more Twitter followers, new research reveals. National polls happen all the time but it’s possible to predict when certain candidates will climb in the rankings based the rate they are followed.

Zach Green, CEO of Twitter election researcher 140elect, wrote in a blog post Friday that he anticipated this trend, but now has the stats to prove it.

“A lot of people were surprised [Newt] Gingrich is now in second place, but we’ve seen that coming since Sep. 7,” Green told Mashable. “Twitter indicates he’ll continue to pick up.”

Gingrich (visualized below) gained a slew of new followers when he announced his candidacy on May 11 and on Sept. 7 after an impressive GOP debate performance. Both events led to poll gains. The candidate’s Twitter momentum has steadily increased over the last two months, which Green predicts will lead to continued poll gains.

There are similar trends for the other candidates. Rick Perry’s Aug. 13 candidacy announcement led to his greatest spike in followers. He then rose in polls for the following two weeks. Green notes that although Perry is now talked about a great deal on Twitter, he is often mocked and isn’t gaining new followers at the same rate. It is more important to be followed than to be discussed, especially if the discussion is negative.

Michele Bachmann’s rate of new followers has been in decline since Aug. 15. She’s been falling in the polls ever since.

Mitt Romney’s three largest Twitter spikes — after his June 2 announcement, the Sep. 22 debate and the Oct. 11 debate — were all followed by growth in the polls. However, his recent Twitter decline preceded his Nov. 11 fall in polls.

Green expects to see current front-runner Herman Cain lose his lead following his sexual harassment allegations, which effected his likability and standing with women. Though he was on the rise following three of the GOP debates, Cain has lost his Twitter momentum. Green estimates Cain will drop to approximately 17% popularity in the polls.

Statistics analyst and data visualizer Lori Williams with Tableau Software combined the 140elect Twitter data with information from HuffPost Pollster, resulting in the above visualization.

What do you think of the findings? Are Twitter and polls a case of cause-and-effect or just coincidence?

BONUS: 10 Unforgettable On-Air Political Bloopers

Rick Perry: "Oops"

2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry drew a massive blank Wednesday night during CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote" GOP debate. On stage in Michigan, Perry attempted to rattle off three federal government agencies he would eliminate, but failed to remember number three: "Commerce, education and the … uh, um, what's the third one there. Let's see … " The mental block lasted about 40 more seconds before Perry uttered, "Oops."

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More About: campaign, Politics, primaries, study, Twitter

The Future of Social TV [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 12:52 PM PST

Technology is changing entertainment for better and for worse, according to TV Guide’s general manager and executive vice president, Christy Tanner, who spoke at the Mashable Media Summit.

SEE ALSO: Social TV: How Content Producers Can Engage Their Audiences in New Ways

TV Guide launched Watchlist, a social feature that lets users search online to see where they can find their favorite shows on TV or on other connected devices. Tanner also talked about social media’s effects on the TV-watching experience.

The Mashable Media Summit in Pictures

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

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Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: features, mashable media summit, Media, social tv, television, trending, Video

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Penguin Becomes Latest Publisher to Sell Digital Shorts

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 12:45 PM PST

Penguin is the latest publisher to test out e-singles with the launch of Penguin Shorts, an ongoing digital series of original fiction and nonfiction titles from authors like Colm Toibin and Anita Brookner.

The program is launching in the UK first, with nine titles being released on December 1. All are priced at £0.99 ($1.58) or £1.99. ($3.17) In the U.S., Penguin has been publishing short-form “Penguin eSpecials” since 2008, and those will be rebranded as Penguin Shorts next year.

A glance at the two countries’ lists suggests that Penguin has a little work to do in terms of branding and merging the titles under one banner. Most of the U.S. “eSpecials” are fantasy, romance and mystery titles (“Romancing Lady Cecily,” “Kris Longknife: Training Daze”), while the UK’s Shorts tend toward more serious topics like immigration and history’s great battles.

Penguin aims to publish new e-singles each month and sell them across e-bookstores.

In the U.S., Open Road and Rodale both recently announced e-singles publishing programs, and the “big six” publishers are experimenting with individual e-singles across platforms. I expect the next step for these publishers is more branded programs like Penguin Shorts.

More About: books, ebooks, penguin

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Robotic Bear Paws You When You Snore [VIDEO]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 12:15 PM PST

This bear may be soft and pillow-shaped, but you might want to think twice before curling up for a nap on Jukusui-kun. If you snore, it will stroke your face with its furry paw.

It’s not hitting on you. Rather, it is helping your partner or roommate sleep by urging you to move on to your side, a position in which you are less likely to snore.

Japan Trends discovered the robot, created by Wasaeda Univeristy, at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo last week.

Jukusui-kun, which does not yet appear to be on the market, monitors snoring through a microphone and a matching fuzzy bear oxygen meter that the sleeper attaches to his or her hand. To avoid using cords that could interfere with sleep, Japan Trends says the creators developed a mat of sensors to be placed under the sheets instead of using cords. When oxygen and decibel levels signal loud snoring, the pillow takes action.

It’s an interesting set up, but will getting pawed by a bear actually inspire snorers to shift to a quieter sleeping position? Or will Jukusui-kun be little more than an annoying stuffed animal that swats at their ears? Let us know in the comments if this would help the snorer in your life.

More About: Jukusui-kun, robots, trending

Is Lenovo About to Release a Quad-Core Android Tablet? [PICS]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 11:57 AM PST

Tablet backside

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Asus isn’t the only tablet maker working on a quad-core Android tablet — Lenovo appears to have one in the works as well.

Engadget has gotten its hands on what appear to be “leaked” photographs of a 10.1-inch tablet Lenovo is allegedly planning to release by the end of the year. Like Asus’s next-generation Transformer Prime device, the tablet is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 T33 processor and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It also sports a back-facing camera, 2GB of 1.6GHz of RAM and a “fingerprint scanner” that also functions as an optical joystick on the backside. (If you’re wondering what an optical joystick is, read this.)

Lenovo declined to comment on the veracity of the report. But if it’s true, is this something you would like to get your hands on? Let us know in the comments.

More About: android tablet, lenovo

Tumblr Numbers: The Rapid Rise of Social Blogging [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 11:45 AM PST

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

In four short years, Tumblr has grown from relative obscurity to start-up darling to international microblogging network. The platform has grown a staggering 900% in the past year and eclipsed platform competitor WordPress, largely due to its global reach and brand-building potential.

Those under Tumblr's influence are fiercely loyal — with 2% of users making up 43% of total visits — and they log in from all over the world.

Take a look behind the scenes at Tumblr's influence on the web, including top tags and fun facts, in this handy infographic.

Infographic designed by Emily Caufield.

Series supported by Vocus

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

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The Challenge of Creating Web-Based Identity Standards

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 11:20 AM PST

John Fontana is the identity evangelist for Ping Identity and editor of the PingTalk Blog. Prior to joining Ping, he spent 11 years as a senior editor at Network World.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others all want to be your identity platform on the web. But while it's certainly convenient to have one credential for multiple websites, many would argue these services are only secure enough to access your grandmother's online recipe book.

Growing numbers of technologists, IT executives, organizations and governments believe an identity authentication model must establish set standards.

But can any set of standards answer the tough security challenges, and to what degree? Is it safe to check your social security account on a credential issued by Google? To access health records using your Facebook ID?

Not today. And tomorrow is not likely either.

SEE ALSO: Who Owns Your Identity on the Social Web?

However, OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 (open authentication) are pointing to some of the best and most promising standards of today. OAuth is the foundation for OpenID Connect (the basis for consumer ID) and for User Managed Access (UMA), a model that lets users control their personal data. Companies such as Bechtel, Chevron, Cisco, GE, M&T Bank, Salesforce.com, and others are already enjoying early success. OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 offer a place where consumer and corporate IDs can co-mingle in a secure cloud, protected by acceptable levels of security.

While it's too early to tell if OpenID and OAuth will succeed, so far, they appear able to validate a user's identity — perhaps even identities created by search engines and social sites.

“Street Identity” and Identity Attribute Data

Furthermore, big names are supporting the standards push. Google, Verizon, data exchange service ID/Webdata, and trust framework provider Open Identity Exchange (OIX) proposed a service called Street Identity at a conference last week. Street Identity is designed to strengthen authentication on the web. Loosely-coupled "providers" contribute user data called attributes, such as street address, age and/or mobile phone number that can be used to more accurately validate a user's identity.

"Google's [efforts] recognize what is happening now, which is identities are being deconstructed into attributes," says Don Thibeau, chairman of OIX.

Ironically, Google and other companies with massive user data repositories don't have enough validated pieces of user information to strengthen authentication. Google would need to partner with an attribute provider that would incorporate that information into the authentication process — with user consent, of course. The service would include a revenue model for businesses and organizations that agree to participate.

Google's idea doesn't replace the current identity standards effort. Rather, Street Identity is building on OpenID Connect and OAuth. It incorporates UMA for user control and features the first implementation of OpenID Connect's spec for attribute aggregation and distribution, which was largely championed by Microsoft and its internal identity guru, Mike Jones.

Google and its partners believe that by aggregating a user's data from various trusted sources, Street Identity can solve three problems: First, the service would connect to real-world identities, which OpenID does not do. It would provide a financial incentive for mobile operators that collect fees for providing data. Finally, it allows the government to steer clear of the electronic ID business by accessing needed data via attribute providers.

The prospect sounds promising, but so did pure PKI before its implementers began telling war stories. It seems, however, that Google continues to work toward a user authentication standard. The caveat is that standardization still has a lot more work ahead.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Darwin Bell

More About: consumer protection, contributor, features, Google, identity management, openID, privacy

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Foursquare Badges Now Level Up

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 11:00 AM PST

Foursquare has revamped its popular badge system in an effort to increase user engagement and encourage exploration.

Starting Monday, Foursquare’s core 24 category badges will begin leveling up based on users’ checkins. A numerical icon now appears on the bottom right of badges such as “JetSetter,” “Wino” and “Great Outdoors”, indicating how often users have checked in to places related to those badges.

“It’s rewarding exploration and awarding expertise,” says Foursquare Head of Product Alex Rainert. “It’s a platform to showcase tastemakers and get their content exposed.”

Level one is achieved by checking in five time to places in a badge category. The first level is also unlocked by checking in to three unique places. After level one, users level up their badges by checking in to five unique places related to that category. So, if a user has checked into 13 coffee shops, he or she will have a level three “Fresh Brew” Foursquare badge.

Foursquare badges reach their peak at 10 levels — 48 checkins in any given category.

Rainert says that the revamped badge system helps identify people for their expertise in specific verticals. A person with a high-level “Wino” badge is more likely to give better wine tips than somebody with a low-level badge. The goal is to get more experts to generate content such as tips .

Rainert also says that the new badge system will do more to encourage people to explore their surroundings. “People want to level up,” Rainert asserts, “and in order to do so, they have to push outside of their comfort zone.”

More About: foursquare, gamification, trending

Proof: Saul Bass Was the Godfather of Typography Videos

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 10:50 AM PST

The name Saul Bass may not ring a bell, but you definitely know the man’s work. Bass was one of the most respected graphic-designers in the film business. He was most well-known for his inventive and striking title sequences for films such as Psycho, The Man with the Golden Arm, Spartacus, The Seven Year Itch, West Side Story, Walk on the Wild Side and a ton of other classics.

Don’t believe us? Talk a look at the above collage/homage put together by Ian Albinson, Editor-In-Chief of Art of the Title. Albinson made the video to celebrate the release of the book Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design. The Museum of Modern Art in New York is holding a screening and talk about Bass, who died in 1996, on Nov. 14.

Bass was known for his distinctive style, using dramatic cuts and treating text as if it was a character in the scene. While Bass never quite made a typographic music video, his work serves as inspiration for the stylized, typographic videos such as Cee Lo’s “F_ck You” and many others.

Although best known for his movie work, Bass was a prolific designer creating distinctive logos for Dixie, Quaker Oats, United Airlines and many more. If you’re a Bass-ophile or just curious to see his work, there is also an entire site dedicated to Bass’ movie stills.

Check out the video above and let us know: Do modern typographers and designers owe Bass some props?

More About: Film, kinetic typography, music video, typography, Video

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Matt Damon Talks Sh*t for World Toilet Day

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 10:37 AM PST

ToiletDay.org and Matt Damon want you to donate your voice — that is your Twitter or Facebook voice — to talk shi*t about the global toilet crisis.

Starting Monday, individuals can authorize ToiletDay.org to post once daily status updates from either their Facebook or Twitter account until World Toilet Day this Saturday, Nov. 19. If you chose to sign up, ToiletDay.org’s daily posts will be blasted from your account without your review of each individual message.

Billions of people around the world lack access to toilets, causing a host of infectious illnesses. Children in developing countries often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies due to poor sanitation, according to ToiletDay.org. More people in the world have mobile phones than access to toilets.

The “Talk sh*t all week” campaign is using social media to spark conversations about global sanitation issues. The campaign is using expletives such as “shit” and “crap” to draw attention to the cause with a bit of humor, explains Mike McCamon, chief community officer of Water.org.

“We’re talking about something no one knows how to address, and we’re using the words to talk about it,” McCahon says about the campaign’s word choice.

SEE ALSO: Bill Gates To Reinvent The Toilet | 7 Ways To Celebrate #WorldWaterDay 2011 Online

The first message, being tweeted Monday, says “More people have a mobile phone than a toilet” and uses the Twitter hashtag #TalkShit. Similar updates will be shared daily for the next six days, although you can sign up at any point during the week. If you’re concerned about indefinitely handing over permission to your account, the campaign assures participants their access will only last through Saturday.

The campaign is a partnership between Water.org (co-founded by Matt Damon, who lends his voice in videos including the one above), the Gates Foundation, Acumen, ONE, Worldtoilet.org, Change.org and Water for People. It uses similar technology to Water.org’s “Twitter Twakeover” this summer, which surrendered the organization’s @Water handle to the user who racked up the most votes from an online competition.

Do you think this catchy campaign lingo will help attract new advocates for global sanitation issues? Tell us in the comments.

More About: change.org, gates foundation, Social Good, water.org, world toilet day

5 Tips For Onboarding Remote Workers

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 10:01 AM PST

The Digital Careers Series is supported by Elance, the world's leading site for online work. Check out Startup Cloud for tips on how to build a remote team.

There might be an assumption that recruiting is easier when unemployment is high, but that's simply not true. According to Manpower Group, 52% of employers reported having a difficult time finding qualified employees to fill jobs. Employers cast a wide net when it comes to finding candidates, and remote workers can be attractive to companies because they can fill an opening that's difficult to place with a local.

It's more important than ever to ensure that new hires become engaged immediately upon entering their new place of employment through a well-designed onboarding process. Successful onboarding programs aren't just a paperwork-filled orientation: They create a connection between employees, their work and the goals of the organization. Here are a few best practices from companies that effectively onboard remote workers.

1. Bring the Office to Them

In a traditional office environment, it's easy to forget what it’s like for a remote employee. Sometimes we take for granted the ability to walk around the corner and ask a quick question. David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources outsourcing and consulting firm, has several employees who work virtually. He says the key to a successful workplace is creating a way for new hires to experience the office regardless of where they're located.

"We get them connected with the team, make sure they know who does what and bring the office to them," Lewis says. "Slides with pictures. Organizational charts. All geared to paint a picture."

2. Connect Face-to-Face

The ability to connect a face with a voice is an essential part of building relationships. For Cheezburger, the online humor publisher behind the wildly popular I Can Has Cheezburger?, the key to success is in building a team culture despite having employees all over the country.

Cheezeburger’s CTO Scott Porad says they typically bring remote employees to headquarters for the first week, but sometimes that isn't possible. "We have onboarded several employees remotely," Porad adds. "We use pair-programming through voice and video conferencing and screen-sharing tools to make this happen."

Video conferencing also eliminates the stress associated with travel, especially if you're working for a new company. Alison Sheehan, senior vice president of human resources at virtual meetings developer PGi, says it was a no-brainer to embrace remote onboarding: "As a collaboration company that provides virtual meeting tools to business, we took what we know to be effective in face-to-face meetings and applied it to remote onboarding and other HR processes."

PGi uses a combination of email, video meetings and learning management system (LMS) tools to connect with and onboard remote workers. The cornerstone of its program is a proprietary video conferencing tool, iMeet. "Using iMeet's group video capabilities is a great way for us to meet face-to-face in a virtual setting to connect with new hires," Sheehan explains. "You can make eye contact (or note when others are not), you can observe body language, and you can even use the social media tools within iMeet to learn more about the people with whom you are meeting. This personal interaction strengthens their bond and enhances the synergy of the group — all without ever leaving their home offices."

3. Teach the Job in Steps

Companies also have to figure out how to show remote workers the technical aspects of the work they will be doing. In a traditional office environment, employees might attend a class or be a part of on-the-job training, but neither are practical choices with remote workers.

Tracy Brisson, founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project encourages "scaffolding” as an effective learning process. In short, you break up the content into building blocks that are taught in chunks. “When students demonstrate they’ve learned the material and can do it independently, you teach the next step and build upon prior skills and knowledge," she says.

In an office, a manager can see a new team member performing and provide immediate feedback. Brisson shares the process for virtual workers, too. "You have to know that they can do it on their own without that instant feedback loop," Brisson explains. "It helps to create a learning plan before the person starts, where job responsibilities are introduced at a slower pace, but the result is faster overall mastery and a great work product."

4. Evaluate the Process

Any time you create and actively use a process, it's necessary to evaluate its effectiveness. Brendon Schrader, founder and CEO of strategic marketing consultancy Antenna, says his company’s onboarding assessment "is based on one metric: employee satisfaction."

Antenna worked with enterprise social network Yammer to create a new onboarding process, largely due to that fact that the platform provides tools to measure each stage of hiring. When asked how employees respond to the remote onboarding experience, Schrader indicated the feedback has been one of their best sources of information. "Our consultants have time and time again expressed their happiness with our process and how the platform helps them stay connected with their colleagues," Schrader explains. "We may not be sitting across a desk from our employees, but the Yammer platform allows us to redefine how we work together."

5. Constantly Refine the Process

For many of us, working remotely isn't a new concept, but the responsibility of onboarding a remote team is. That was the situation for Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of telework job service FlexJobs. Fell figured out what worked best for her company through a combination of instinct, trial and error, and feedback from colleagues who already had experience hiring remote workers.

Fell says the most important step when adding a new technology to the onboarding process is test first, then implement. “The more we test a particular technology to see if it meets our needs, the better chance we’ll have of selecting the most appropriate and useful technology," Fell explains. "And we’re sure to avoid headaches down the road!"

As more organizations recognize the value in telework arrangements, we'll see more remote workers move from the status of occasional freelancer to full-time employee. Creating an effective, efficient onboarding process will benefit both the new hire and the company.

What advice do you have for companies looking to onboard remote employees? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Series Supported by Elance

The Digital Careers Series is supported by Elance, where businesses hire and manage in the cloud for immediate access to the talent they need, when they need it. Elance offers the flexibility to staff up or down, and it's faster and less expensive than traditional staffing and outsourcing. Check out Startup Cloud to learn more.

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