Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Nook Tablet Arrives Earlier than Expected”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Nook Tablet Arrives Earlier than Expected”

Nook Tablet Arrives Earlier than Expected

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 04:25 AM PST

Customers who’ve pre-ordered Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet will receive it on Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule, a Barnes & Noble spokesperson told CNET.

Also, customers who’ve pre-ordered the device for in-store pickup will be able to do so Wednesday.

The Nook Tablet has also hit some of Barnes & Noble’s retail stores a day early, reveals Engadget, together with an image of a Nook Tablet bought on Tuesday.

The availability of B&N’s $249 tablet, as well as Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire, marks a beginning of a new era. Stuffing the tablet with powerful hardware components did what it could for tablets – cheaper tablets which offer a lot of content might be next evolutionary step for the tablet market.

Interestingly enough, Nook Tablet’s chief competitor has also started shipping one day early.

Nook Tablet has a 7-inch display, a 1 GHz dual-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage memory (further expandable via memory cards). Check out how it stacks against the competition here.

Barnes & Noble's Tablet Launch Event

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch on stage at the launch event for the Barnes & Noble Tablet.

Click here to view this gallery.

[via CNET]

Nokia Planning a Windows 8 Tablet and a High-End Lumia

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 01:24 AM PST

Nokia might be releasing a Windows 8-based tablet by June 2012, as well as follow up the recently released Windows Phone 7 devices – Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 – with an even better Lumia, according to head of Nokia France Paul Amsellem.

“(Lumia 800) is just the equivalent of the BMW 5 Series. We will soon have a full range with a Series 7 and Series 3,” said Amsellem in an interview with French newspaper LesEchos.

If the analogy holds true, this would make Lumia 710, Nokia’s mid-range device, the equivalent of BMW’s Series 3, while the high-end slot in Nokia’s Windows Phone portfolio yet needs to be filled by an upcoming phone.

On the tablet front, Amsellem said Nokia plans to have a tablet running Windows 8 by June 2012. This is interesting since Windows 8 itself doesn’t have a fixed release date yet – all we know is that it’s due to be released sometime in 2012.

Amsellem wouldn’t provide any additional details about the tablet, but it’s nice to know that whenever Microsoft comes up with a new version of its mobile or desktop OS, Nokia plans to be right there to back it up with a piece of hardware.

More About: Nokia, Tablet, Windows 8

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Find Out How “In Demand” You Are in The Job Market With Identified

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 09:35 PM PST

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: Identified

Quick Pitch: Identified is a professional marketplace that helps users improve their professional marketability.

Genius Idea: Provides users with real-time, interactive feedback on how companies evaluate your professional information online.

What do companies find when they search for you? Do they like what they find?

People naturally want to know what companies think about them and how they compare to other professionals in the job market. The problem is most resume databases and job sites don’t provide any feedback or responses.

Identified, an online professional marketplace, fixes that problem by providing a link between professionals and companies and letting people know how “in demand” they are in the current job market.

As companies search for professionals on Identified, the staff analyzes the search results from more than 60,000 of these companies to find out important data – which professionals are they searching for? From which universities are the professionals they’re clicking on from? Who are they messaging? Are they hiring professionals with specific career experiences?

Identified finds out, for example, if law firms are mostly searching for Harvard University graduates or if Internet companies are primarily searching for professionals who worked at Google. The results are delivered to professionals in the form of a score, which helps them learn about the skills and career experiences that are in demand right now for those companies.

“We realized that there is no channel of communication between companies and users,” says Brendan Wallace, CEO and co-founder of Identified. “Identified helps companies make better recruiting decisions while also helping professionals make better career choices so they can get the jobs they want.”

The professional marketplace links to your Facebook account as a starting point to generate a free score based on your education background, work history and network. The more information you add in these three areas, the higher your score increases. If your score happens to be low, Identified provides tips on how to add more information, such as college major and GPA, to be more marketable to companies.


How Identified scores are calculated

Identified shows users in real-time how attractive they are to companies. The score provides a reference check and measurement of what and who companies are searching for.

For example, Google has an Identified score of 100. Google’s Identified page displays graphics that show statistics about the company’s employees, including most common universities, majors, and job titles, and information about recent hires. If professionals wants to work at Google, this information will help them understand what is takes to land a job at the company.


Most common majors and job titles of Google’s employees

“People should know exactly what will get them to the career path they want to be on,” says Wallace. “Instead of making career choices on limited information, Identified provides users with all the data that helps them make better decisions to plan out their careers.”

If you’re wondering why Identified extracts users’ information from their Facebook accounts instead of LinkedIn, here’s why:

  • Age: 44 is the average age for LinkedIn users, while Facebook’s is 24. Identified aims to target the sub-30s generation.
  • Size: Facebook has nearly 700 million more users than LinkedIn.
  • Engagement: Facebook users update their user information more often; most LinkedIn users are unsure of what to do after they fill out their career profile.
  • Identified was inspired by a personal experience from Brendan Wallace, the startup’s CEO. Although Wallace was always an aspiring entrepreneur, he did not know enough information on how to follow that career path. After graduating from Princeton University, he settled for a conventional career in investment banking. He ended up quitting his job to follow his dream as an entrepreneur, and started Identified in 2010 with his former classmates to help people reach their maximum potential in life.

    The professional marketplace has raised $5.5 million to date from notable investors, including Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman and former CEO; Bill Draper, founder of Sutter Hill Ventures & Draper Richards; and Tim Draper, founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Identified has nearly 150,000 users and approximately 1500 companies that have used the site to search for ideal candidates for their industry.

    Identified scores are public and accessible to anyone on the Internet. What’s your score?

    Image courtesy of Identified, Identified

    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, Identified

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Google’s X Lab Gets the Taiwanese Treatment [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 08:47 PM PST

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

Google’s secret laboratory, known as “Google X” get the animated treatment, care of our friends at

As you might expect, the Taiwanese news animators managed to get the basics of the original New York Times story, while still adding its own whimsical spin with robots, aliens, a space elevator and a rather illicit form of inspiration.

From the teleporting telephone booth to the tube leading from the Google Idea Machine to “Teh Internets,” NMA’s vision of Google’s secret lab is replete with humor.

More About: Google X, NMA, viral-video-of-day, viral-video-of-the-day

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Yahoo Revs Up Recipe and Shopping Search Features for the Holidays

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 08:02 PM PST

yahoo search results

Yahoo has introduced interactive search results for shopping, recipes and entertainment that will appear at the top of search result pages starting Tuesday evening.The new features integrate content into the top of web search results.

“The new capabilities were designed around making sure our users with really intent needs are being met,” Shashi Seth, Yahoo SVP of search and marketplaces told Mashable. “We’re trying to go towards a new kind of search, providing answers, not links.”

The new features are live on tablet and desktop browsing and will be coming to mobile in the future.

The new recipe search shows you pictures of the dishes associated with recipes found and allows you to directly watch associated videos. You can select multiple recipes and ask your Facebook friends which looks tastier by linking your account. You can also use advance search results to filter by popularity, cook time, cost, ingredients, diet and occasion.

The recipe features are activated by selecting the new “recipes” tab above the search bar or by including the keyword “recipe” in your query.

The new shopping search adds photos of products, much like the recipe search, and allows you to easily compare descriptions, prices and reviews. You can also ask your social network connections if they’ve tried certain products directly from the search. The tablet images pictured are part of a scrolling window that shifts when you hover over it.

You can select up to five products and a comparison chart will automatically be created for you.

Yahoo has updated its entertainment features as well, integrating celebrity, music and movie news into search results. You can watch videos, play music and read tweets from the top of your results.

What do you think of Yahoos new features? Will they make you more or less likely to use the search engine?

More About: holiday shopping, search engines, Yahoo

iPhone 4S Tops Holiday Tech Wishlists [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 07:30 PM PST

What’s the most sought-after gadget this holiday season? If you guessed the iPhone 4S, you’re right on the money. It’s the object of desire for 39% of respondents to a Nov. 11 survey. Following the newest Apple phone was the iPad 2 (wanted by 31% of respondents), the Kindle Fire (wanted by 17%) and Xbox Kinect (13%).

Opinion-based social community polled 1,150 readers about the gifts they most wanted this year. The below infographic shows the results, including the most desired tablets, what adults think kids wants and whether people think the holidays have become too materialistic.

Money or gift cards (39%) and vacations (30%) are more wanted than tech devices (21%) and clothing or jewelry (10%). The survey also found desired tech gifts don’t need to be physical — 59% of respondents think apps make good gifts.

What do you want for the holidays? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Gadgets, Holidays

Clipboard Reinvents Copy-and-Paste for the Web [INVITES]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 07:00 PM PST

Clipboard wants to help you save and organize what you find on the web, and it’s accomplishing this goal by reinventing what it means to copy and paste.

On the surface, Clipboard looks like a lot of other save-and-share apps, such as Evernote, Clipmarks and However, founder Gary Flake says that his startup’s technology goes much deeper than other web saving and sharing solutions.

“We’re the only solution out there that has a real strong claim to being fast, interactive and lightweight,” Flake says.

Clipboard’s richness of clips makes it unique. While most copy-and-paste services either save only the text or basic structure of a website or article, Clipboard actually saves the original functionality and format of the items a user shares. If you decide to save a Wolfram Alpha page or a Facebook Post, Clipboard will retain its content, structure and even some of its functionality. You can check out an example from Wolfram Alpha and an clipping to see the technology in action.

Clipboard’s unique technology stems from the deep research of its founder. After getting his PhD., Flake became a research scientist in machine learning and data mining before he founded and ran Yahoo’s Research Lab. He eventually moved to Microsoft to run its Live Labs group, which produced products such as Photosynth and Pivot.

Flake hopes that Clipboard is just the start of a process to create a company focused around digital identity. “We’re slowly defining and redefining what it means to have a digital identity,” he says of Clipboard’s larger goals.

The company also boasts an all-star cast of investors. Clipboard has raised $1.4 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Betaworks, SV Angel, First Round Capital, DFJ, CrunchFund, Founder’s Co-Op, CODE Advisors,Vast Ventures, Acequia Capital and angel investors Vivi Nevo, Blake Krikorian and Ted Meisel.

The service is in private beta, but Clipboard is giving Mashable readers the chance to try it early. Readers can claim their accounts by following this link.

More About: Clipboard, Gary Flake, startup

Stealth Wendy’s Campaign Got 33,000 Twitter Followers in a Month

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 06:36 PM PST

A stealth campaign for Wendy’s brought on 33,000 Twitter followers in about a month with minimal ad support, a feat that many brands haven’t been able to match over several years’ time.

The effort, which promotes a new mid-size burger called the W, revolved around a game show on Twitter using the handle @GirlBehindSix. (The six referred to the open slot on Wendy’s menu, which would be filled by the new burger.) Although Wendy’s bought a Promoted Trend for one day on Twitter to publicize the account, the only other paid promotion was an ad that ran a few places on Sixth Avenue in New York and on the 6 subway line that described @GirlBehindSix as a “140-character game show.”

Wendy’s introduced the account on Oct. 6 without any outright affiliation to the fast food chain. The game show launched on Oct. 31. The first round awarded a $1,000 prize to six followers who retweeted the rules of the contest. Prizes after that included mopeds, a shark sleeping bag and a bobblehead based on your pet. The challenges ranged from taking a Twitpic of your old headphones to win new ones to coming up with a name for a moped gang to win a moped.

Danny Flamberg, managing director of strategy and CRM for the Kaplan Thaler Group, the ad agency behind the campaign, says the idea with the prizes was to provide “things you wanted, but would never buy for yourself.”

The response to the game show — including a Klout score that went from zero to 72 — outpaced a 2009 Twitter campaign for Wendy’s Baconator, which netted 16,000 followers in about eight weeks. The 33,000 followers also compare favorably to the 3,500 followers for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, a brand used TV advertising and a Twitter campaign also providing prizes to enhance its Twitter presence.

It’s also a bigger following than some well-known brands on Twitter, like Honda and Puma have gotten in a much longer period of time. However, to put things in perspective, it’s nowhere near the record 1 million followers in 25 hours that Charlie Sheen got in March.

On Monday, Wendy’s revealed its association with @GirlBehindSix. Now the brand is trying to herd those followers over to the Wendy’s account, which has about 47,000 followers. Flamberg says that Wendy’s and Kaplan Thaler are still assessing the results, but believe they have built up enough buzz for the W to set the stage for a TV campaign later this month. Says Flamberg: “The goal was to surprise and delight and give [consumers] a picture of Wendy’s they hadn’t seen before.”

More About: Advertising, Marketing, Twitter, wendy's

Facebook and Google Team Up to Fight the E-Parasite Act

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 06:06 PM PST

pirate image

Just when we thought the battle lines had been drawn on the Stop Online Piracy Act, tech giants Facebook, Google and Zynga have announced their opposition to the proposed bill.

The companies joined the opposition with a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about the Stop Online Piracy Act, also called the E-PARASITE act, CNET reports. While they support the bill’s goals of preventing rogue sites from distributing copyrighted materials, the tech giants say the act would “undermine the effective mechanism Congress enacted in the Digital Millenium [sic] Copyright ACT (DMCA) to provide a safe harbor for Internet companies that act in good faith to remove infringing content from their sites.”

The letter also claims the act would “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.”

SEE ALSO: Public Petitions Obama to Kill E-Parasite Act

Protecting copyright holders may seem like a no-brainer, but some of the bill’s harsh stipulations have caused controversy. For example, posting a video with any kind of copyrighted material could be considered a felony. This includes background music, film clips, clips from national broadcast sports games — even cover songs. This last one has led to the rise of the website, which is worried pop-star Justin Bieber could be retroactively prosecuted for posting cover songs to his YouTube channel.

The bill is divided into two parts. The first deals with sites outside U.S. jurisdiction which freely distribute and facilitate copyright infringement. The second part is about increased penalties for all infringements. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act for Nov. 16.

The bill has received a lot of support from the entertainment industry and leaders from both political parties. The opposition of major tech companies helps balance the playing field.

Do you think Facebook and Google can help swing the vote, or is the act an inevitability? Will Bieber and other good-faith copyright infringers pay the price? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, kevin dooley

More About: Facebook, Google, piracy, stop online piracy act

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Apple’s Only Dipping A Toe Into Mobile Payments, But It Could Make A Splash

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 05:40 PM PST

Apple has yet to give a line on where it sees NFC in its future product and service roadmaps, but that doesn’t mean the company has ignored the issue of mobile payments, or decided to leave it entirely to third parties like Square to use its devices to enable the payments via other routes. Last week’s upgrade of the Apple Store app could be its boldest indication yet about where it sees a role for mobile payments in the future.

Companies already invested in NFC are further extending the ways that a consumer can use the wave-and-pay technology. Today it got a boost when Intel and MasterCard announced they would be offering an NFC authentication option for payments made on Ultrabooks.

But while other companies like Google and the Isis consortium develop commercial deployments of NFC-based mobile payment services, Apple is making its first forays into mobile payments on its own terms.

As part of its upgrade to the Apple Store app, Apple introduced a new service called EasyPay. The service itself is simple enough: it lets a user photograph a barcode and then look up information about the product based on that barcode. It then lets a user charge that product to his iTunes account.

EasyPay is still a very limited service: it is currently only working in the U.S. and only works for in-store purchases of “select accessories” sold in Apple’s own retail operation. That does not even include the purchase of big-ticket items like computers or phones. And according to this article in the New York Times, doesn’t look like it will add them in the future.

And Apple is not the first to offer mobile barcode scanning. Among them, companies like Neomedia have been offering mobile barcode scanning technology for years now; and the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba last July launched Alipay, a barcode-based mobile commerce service that is now available across China via an iPhone, Android or Symbian app.

But the idea of linking up such a service to a customer’s iTunes account is what gives this service real potential: in June Apple said that it had 225 million iTunes accounts, a number it has reached with steady growth rate during the past several years, notes the analyst Horace Dediu.

To be clear, Apple has not indicated that it would take this service beyond its own stores, just as it has never taken iTunes out of its own platform to make it a more universal payment system, so it remains to be seen whether it chooses to go this route.

But this is perhaps the first example of how Apple’s payments system and database can be used outside of its app store and the iTunes store, which could work with other technologies like NFC, or whatever becomes the standard for mobile payments.

And if Android handset makers, Nokia and the rest continue to push into ways of enabling mobile payments, Apple will likely do something to keep up with the Joneses, if not move past them.

More About: apple, mobile payments

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79% of Consumers Crave Tablets Over Laptops

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 05:21 PM PST

Picking the right holiday gift is always a challenge, but if the choice is between a tablet or a laptop, a new survey from PriceGrabber might make the decision easier. According to research conducted by the company, 79% of consumers would rather receive a tablet than a laptop this holiday season.

In the video above, learn why consumers so strongly favor the new breed of device and which tablets they’re lusting for. Which would you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

More About: holiday shopping, ipad, tablets

Kindle Fire: The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent [META REVIEW]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 05:18 PM PST

Amazon’s Kindle Fire may have started shipping early, but the reviews are already rolling in. So far, everyone seems in agreement that $199 for a tablet is a remarkable feat. However, some are a little more enthusiastic about the device and its features than others.

Read on to see who gave the device a thumbs up or down, then decide for yourself which way your own thumb will be pointing.

The Verge

Editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky believes the Kindle Fire is not necessarily an iPad killer, but a more feasible option for anyone on a budget. For its affordability and overall usability, The Verge gives Fire a thumbs up.


  • Great Amazon content ecosystem
  • Seamless integration on Whispersync
  • User friendly and consistent
  • Affordable


  • Software can be buggy
  • Amazon Appstore has limited selection
  • Uninspired hardware

Bottom Line

"There’s no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to — and the ease of getting to that content — is notable to say the least."


Although he finds the price remarkable, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens doesn’t think Fire stands a chance when compared to other tablets, giving it a thumbs down.


  • Simple, minimalistic exterior design
  • Stock keyboard more comfortable to use than Android’s


  • Performance is a occasionally sluggish
  • Interface often clunky
  • Not enough storage
  • Restricted functionality

Bottom Line

"If you were hoping to convert all your paper magazine subscriptions into the digital ones, other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost."


There are just a few quirks that editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff found in the Kindle Fire, but for $199 he gives it a thumbs up.


  • Wi-Fi often slow to return after sleep
  • Minicrashes do not shut down the device, but drop you out of what you were doing
  • Interface does not always feel like it was designed for a 7-inch tablet
  • Odd placement of power button


  • Tied to previous Kindle accounts
  • Pages look great, and accessing features such as highlighting and definitions is easy
  • Frictionless environment for app purchase and content consumption
  • Excellent and easy to use

Bottom Line
“It is the closest tablet I've seen yet to an Apple iPad: a consistent, well-thought out marriage of hardware and services that offer an almost frictionless environment for app purchase and content consumption.”

The New York Times

Tech columnist David Pogue notes the potential of Kindle’s tablet in the future, but for now he gives Fire a thumbs down.


  • Videos play well
  • Attractive, colorful home screen


  • Not nearly as versatile as a real tablet
  • Animations are sluggish and jerky
  • Text shrunken down too small to read, and zooming is limited
  • Glare on the superglossy screen is a problem, too

Bottom Line

“The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force — it's a cross between a Kindle and an iPad, a more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price. But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish; if you're used to an iPad or ‘real’ Android tablet, its software gremlins will drive you nuts.”

Fox News

It’s clear that Fox News SciTech is a fan of the Kindle Fire’s design, but there are a few things in the review that make us not sure whether the blog’s thumbs are up or down


  • Kindle’s design is even starker than the iPad’s
  • Smaller size makes the Fire more portable
  • Cons

    • 8 gigabytes of storage is too small
    • Amazon online storage only works when you have Wi-Fi
    • Can’t buy copy-protected books from anyone but Amazon
    • Bottom Line

      When compared against other tablets, "it becomes apparent just how spare Amazon had to keep the device to limbo under that $200 price level.”


      Reporter Sam Biddle warned Apple: "Be afraid," and gives a thumbs up for Kindle Fire.


      • Silk is as real a browser as mobile Safari
      • Device is puzzlingly simple
      • Membership yields you unlimited streaming flicks and TV episodes


      • No dedicated home button
      • Lagging on page turns

      Bottom Line

      “Simply, the Fire is a wonderful IRL compliment to Amazon’s digital abundance. It’s a terrific, compact little friend, and—is this even saying anything?—the best Android tablet to date.”


      There’s no doubt senior editor Jon Phillips is not a fan of Kindle Fire — giving it two thumbs down.


      • Elegantly repackages and streamlines the Amazon purchasing experience
      • The overall home screen conceit is a design win
      • Great platform for casual video playback
      • Cons

      • Screen is too small for many key tablet activities, including reading magazine content
      • Small amount of storage
      • Long-form content is not enjoyable to read on LCD
      • Crap browser performance
      • Bottom Line

        "The Fire isn't a dud, but its real-world performance and utility match neither the benchmarks of public expectation, nor the standards set by the world's best tablets."


        Wilson Rothman, editor of MSNBC’s Technolog, also thinks “Apple should be scared," and gives Kindle Fire a thumbs up.


        • Reading is easier than on an iPad
        • Appstore is a huge asset
        • Nice and quick Silk browser — gets faster as it recognizes your browsing patterns
        • Cons

          • Prime video only works when you’re connected to the Internet
          • Sometimes you have to click a few times to even see the home button
          • Battery life isn’t as long

          Bottom Line

          "For Apple, this still spells trouble. The Kindle Fire can handle about 80 percent of what I want to do on an iPad, for 40 percent of the price."


          Lead mobile analyst Sascha Segan finds the device overall satisfactory, giving a thumbs up.


          • Incredible value for the price
          • Sharp, bright, hi-res screen
          • Extremely easy to use
          • Free cloud storage for Amazon content


          • Sometimes sluggish
          • Screen can be very reflective
          • Limited on-device storage

          Bottom Line

          “While the user interface occasionally gets sluggish, we’re willing to have a bit of patience to get a first-rate tablet for half of what most competitors charge, thus the Kindle Fire is our first Editors’ Choice for small tablets.”

          Consumer Reports

          Consumer Reports also found the price to be incredible, and the device overall gets a thumbs up.


          • Quick and smooth touch response
          • Display looked very good, with a crisp picture
          • Easy to stream Prime videos, and they quickly loaded and ran smoothly


          • Sometimes the screen was overly responsive
          • Display is only fair in sunlight because of glare, a little more so than other tablets tested

          Bottom Line

          “In our first look, the Amazon Kindle Fire was a fine performer, especially if your priority is to get Amazon content including movies, TV shows, music, and books. The display is smaller than the iPad's, and the app market is more limited, but for $200 you're getting a full-featured tablet that performs well.”

          More About: amazon, ereaders, features, Gadgets, kindle fire, review, tablets, Tech

Meet Art Levinson, Apple’s New Chairman

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 04:49 PM PST

Apple has appointed Arthur Levinson, one of Silicon Valley’s most respected leaders, as the company’s new Chairman of the Board. Who exactly is Levinson, and why has Apple chosen him to lead the board?

Levinson has served on Apple’s board of directors for more than a decade. In 2000, Steve Jobs asked Levinson to join Apple’s board when Levinson was chairman and CEO of Genentech, the multibillion-dollar biotech company now owned by Roche. Only Intuit’s Bill Campbell and J.Crew’s Millard Drexler have served longer on Apple’s board.

“Art is a highly respected CEO and leads one of the most important and successful science-based companies of our time,” Jobs said when Levinson first joined the board. “We look forward to his insight and counsel.”

Levinson was born in Seattle in March 1950 to Sol and Malvina Levinson. From his childhood he was interested in the sciences. He points to Carl Sagan’s Intelligent Life in the Universe as one of the most influential books in his early life. That inspiration took him to the University of Washington, where he graduated with a B.Sc. in molecular biology in 1972. He received a PhD in Biochemstry from Princeton in 1977, a year before he got married.

His career at Genentech began in 1980, when he was recruited as a research scientist by Genentech co-founder Dr. Herbert Boyer. Levinson quickly moved up the ranks, becoming the VP of research technology in 1989 and senior VP of R&D in 1993. In 1995, Levinson was named CEO. In 1999, he was also named chairman of the board.

In 2009, Levinson stepped down from his CEO duties at Genentech after the company was acquired by Roche for $46.8 billion. He remains the company’s chairman and serves on a variety of boards, including the boards of Roche, Amyris and the Broad Institute. He also joined Google’s board of directors in 2004, but left in 2009 not long after the departure of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple’s board.

What kind of change can we expect from Apple with Levinson in charge of the board? Not much. Levinson has served as co-lead of Apple’s board since 2005, only relinquishing that title in August when Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO and became the company’s chairman. Levinson has been one of the company’s most visible leaders for a long time.

In other words, don’t expect Levinson to change Apple’s magic formula. He helped create it. If you want to get a feel for Levinson and his personality, check out this video of a speech he gave to Genentech employees when Roach bought out the company:

More About: apple, Art Levinson, Arthur Levinson, steve jobs

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What the Next 40 Years of Technology Might Look Like

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 04:24 PM PST

This post is supported by Intel, Sponsors of Tomorrow™ and the world leader in silicon innovation, in celebration of the world’s first microprocessor: the Intel 4004.

We asked you, the Mashable community, what you think the next 40 years of technology will look like. The responses we received were numerous and inspiring — with one awesome enough to win its creator an Asus UX31E-DH52 Ultrabook.

The 100+ submissions to the contest shed light on your passions and hopes for the future of technology. Some wish to see and end to world hunger, others for people to have freedom everywhere, and many for better and more accessible healthcare. Overall, respondents long for more advanced bio-technology and look forward to a time when technology is even more streamlined into their everyday lives.

The winner of our contest is Kyle Dziekan, a tech enthusiast from Wisconsin. He not only posted an incredibly well thought-out and insightful answer, but also passionately discussed the topic on the contest Twitter hashtag #Next40Years. You can check it out on his Twitter profile here.

Here is his winning comment. Congrats, Kyle!

What other ideas do you have about the next 40 years in technology? Tell us in the comments below.

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Orange Releases 3 Budget Facebook Phones for Emerging Markets

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 04:01 PM PST

phones image

Facebook is about to get a brand new bag with the release of three budget phones aimed at new smartphone users and developing communities. The phones were developed by Alcatel and will be released and supported exclusively by Orange, one of the UK’s leading mobile providers.

The phones will have three tiered prices with more features being offered with more expensive models. The top model, the Alcatel One Touch 908F will cost approximately $130. The middle model, the One Touch 813F, will cost approximately $80 and the cheapest model, the One Touch 585F will cost about $54.

All the phones will come with Facebook pre-loaded and deeply integrated into all their features including a dedicated Facebook button. People can use Facebook to sync their address books and calendar reminders, browse multimedia and send and share messages and photos. The phones feature touch screens, full keyboards and a variety of connectivity options.

While the two more expensive models are aimed at first-time smartphone users, the 585F was built with emerging markets in mind. The phone has GPRS connectivity and limited media functionality. This, however, is to make sure that the phone can be used in remote areas that might not have strong coverage.

orange image

The three phones mark a big step for Orange, which is touting the new products as a way to spread and democratize the mobile Internet. “What matters to [our customers] is for them to stay connected to their communities, to their close friends, to their families and Facebook is usually at the center of that,” says Patrick Remy, Orange’s VP of Devices. Orange has been working to trim not just the phone cost but the data and mobile plans. Remy says that in Romania, for example, data plans will start as low as $12 a month.

Orange is taking Facebook integration seriously. While data and calls will be subject to standard rates, Remy says that customers will be able to use unlimited Facebook connectivity for free.

This is a huge deal especially with the lower-price 585F meant for developing communities. Phones are sometimes the only way people in these areas can access the Internet. Not only will this option allow them to access the Internet for free, but it positions Facebook as the de facto portal and lifeline to messaging, information and community.

Orange has put in place several safeguards to make sure that emerging markets can reliably access and get the most out of these phones, including a “Digital Coach Strategy” to help new users understand their phone’s features and the ability to sign up to Facebook directly through the phone. “We are a network operator,” Remy says. “We only live and breathe if we provide a good quality service in terms of connectivity.”

Although the 585F has fewer features, Orange built it to work in low-coverage areas. “We have to make sure that we don’t over-promise … there would be nothing worse than selling these relatively high-market devices and [our customers] were not able to access the wealth of rich information that we offered.” The 585F, for example, won’t have the same rich multimedia experience as its more expensive siblings but will come with fast and consistent Facebook messaging and community tools.

The phones are expected to roll out across Europe and Africa as early as December with countries added through early 2012.

Will Orange’s Facebook phones help democratize the Internet? Is Orange milking a new market or providing an invaluable service? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr,

More About: africa, europe, Facebook, Gadgets, Mobile, mobile phones, phones

The Gates Foundation’s New Education Documentary to Incorporate Social Media

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 03:39 PM PST

The Gates Foundation’s non-profit education organization, Get Schooled, will partner with filmmakers Adam McKay and Jason Pollock on their new feature documentary about the dropout epidemic in America’s struggling school system. The documentary will use social media to connect the voices of students, teachers and principals with the world.

Pollock will spend most of next year filming more than 100 public schools in America that are part of the “Get Schooled” Foundation.

“Jason brought us his idea a few months ago, and we thought it was a perfect way to elevate the voices of students, teachers and principals,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled. “Too often their story is told for them. Jason and Adam will give them a chance to tell their stories themselves. We’re big fans of Adam and Jason’s films, and we’re excited to connect them with public schools around the country.”

Pollock, who wrote and directed “The Youngest Candidate” – a 2008 documentary on young adults who were running for public office in different states – was ranked by the New York Times as one of the most influencial people on Twitter. His aptitude for social media will play a role in the new documentary.

“I think we have a great opportunity to use the social web in a way that can really benefit the education system in this country,” said Pollock.

McKay is a writer, producer and director who previously worked on popular movies such as “The Other Guys,” “Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers”.

The team is currently presenting the project to various networks, distributors and independent financiers.

The documentary is scheduled to premier in the fall of 2012 in time for the next presidential election.

“Get Schooled” is aimed at using medial, technology and popular culture to improve high school dropout rates and college success rates in America. The dropout rate in America’s schools is an ongoing concern. According to recent studies, one in eight high schools throughout the U.S. are “dropout factories,” which are schools that have less than 60% of freshman who graduate following the required four years.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, MarsBars

More About: education, gates foundation, Get Schooled, Jason Pollack

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Why Do Freemium Games Get Such a Bad Rap?

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 03:21 PM PST

The current hot-button topic in gaming is the freemium business model. Employed in social games like FarmVille and Tap Zoo, freemium means offering access for free, but charging for in-game content (customization, gameplay advantages, etc.).

The obvious benefit of this business model is the ability to attract more users with zero cost-of-entry, while generating potentially limitless revenue via consumable items. Both of these factors have made freemium a sustainable and popular approach, especially in the gaming market, where in-app purchases (IAP) account for 72% of App Store revenue.

However, freemium games are controversial because they entice players to spend money. Many games, for example, create absurdly long wait times unless the user forks over some credits. Others ensure that useful game tools are impossible to get without laying down some cash. Publishers of freemium games have even called on psychologists to help spark a greater desire for users to spend.

Freemium games convert players into paying customers at wildly varying — but ultimately low — rates. According to analytics firm Flurry, these rates range anywhere from 0.5% to 6%. However, intense users spend about $14 on the average freemium transaction. The ultimate goal of any freemium game developer is to attract these "whale" gamers in addition to lesser spenders.

In Defense of Freemium

Games with low costs of entry have had a long, proud history. For instance, traditional arcade games only allow players to participate for so long before requiring more money, with no hypothetical payment ceiling. Does that make arcade games any less legitimate than social games? What is the difference between a game that is designed to encourage players to put more coins in a machine and a social game that uses psychological techniques to encourage people to pay?

In fact, some games work much better when real-world money is at stake. A beat ‘em up title like Final Fight is more entertaining when a player's dollar must get him as far as possible. Take out the payment model from some freemium games (social games included), and not only would the entertainment value dip — the profitability would suffer too.

More Ethical Freemium Models

The mobile gaming industry, comprised of many smaller studios and independent developers, is pushing for ethical freemium games. One of the best examples is NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower. According to Ian Marsh of NimbleBit, “We take a very simple approach in designing fair free-to-play games, which includes making everything in the game available without paying for it, and balancing the game around the free player. Tiny Tower was beta tested and balanced without the inclusion of [in-app purchases] to ensure that it was compelling as a free experience. I think the one thing to avoid is making IAP a requirement for a fun experience.”

"I think the one thing to avoid is making [in-app purchases] a requirement for a fun experience.”

This strategy has worked out well for the two-man development studio. While exact player numbers and sales are difficult to ascertain, Tiny Tower has attracted over 2 million Game Center players alone. Furthermore, NimbleBit's various iOS titles have reportedly made millions of dollars over the past three years, all of which are now free to download.

In fact, this business model has piqued the interest of many long-time iOS developers. Bryan Duke of Acceleroto has released both premium titles and ad-supported titles. Duke is currently working on Rush City, planned as a freemium game. He is already familiar with the free game business, having released the ad-supported Air Hockey Gold, which Duke says has been downloaded millions of times, and gets 500,000 monthly banner clicks that entice users to upgrade to the paid version.

Still, Rush City will be Acceleroto’s first true freemium game. “The balance of what IAP is and how it integrates into gameplay is something we're spending a lot of time on," says Duke. "I want Rush City to be completely playable and fun, while not sacrificing any of that because of the ads or IAP."

"Freemium games are not inherently bad…Some companies have done remarkable jobs at freemium titles.”

As the gaming industry evolves, it is important to not to fear new frontiers. It's possible for game developers to care about earning money while also making fun games. Duke adds, “Freemium games are not inherently bad. Some companies have stooped pretty low to generate revenue in their free titles. However, some companies have done remarkable jobs at freemium titles…For us, we'll continue to work on ways to make our players happy.”

Freemium Games Are Evolving

David Marsh of NimbleBit says that games will change as they always have. “Arcade games branched out and evolved from simple quarter munchers," he says. "I think the same thing will happen with freemium games as they mature and the competition centers more around who can come up with new and interesting ideas, rather than who can collect money the most efficiently.”

New freemium games come out every week in today's quickly evolving mobile gaming market. This is a business model that, for the foreseeable future, will impact the games we all play. Therefore, game players need to go out and support games that are fair as well as fun to play. Players passionate about game sustainability must vote with their wallets as well as their words.

What are your thoughts on the rise of freemium games? Do you fear they will negatively impact the current way we play? Or will we see new types of games built around this business model? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Business, contributor, features, freemium, games, Gaming

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Facebook Acqui-hires Email Prioritizer MailRank

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 02:55 PM PST

Facebook on Tuesday announced it was hiring the co-founders of MailRank, a startup that focused on prioritizing email.

Co-founders Bethanye McKinney Blount and Bryan O’Sullivan will be joining Facebook in December and shutting down MailRank, the two announced on MailRank’s blog.

“We started MailRank to focus on the email that matters, combining powerful technology with a simple interface,” the blog post reads. “It’s been rewarding to build a solution to problems people face every day. At Facebook, we’ll be working with a first-class team on our favorite types of technology problems while supporting a great product people use every day.”

An introductory post from MailRank described the company as a “solution to the problem of email overload” via “hands-free prioritization without complicated configuration and rules.”

The post goes on to say that they will discontinue MailRank’s private beta for Outlook to “focus on our new jobs.” A Facebook rep declined to comment further on what the two will be doing at their new employer.

Facebook famously introduced a “modern messaging system” last November that was meant to be seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple and minimal. In a press event explaining the move, Mark Zuckerberg emphasized at the time that the product was “not e-mail.” The introduction, plus Google’s launch of its short-lived Google Wave in 2009, led to some speculation that traditional email was about to be overhauled. Two years on though, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

What do you think? Does Facebook’s messaging system stands to be improved? Let us know in the comments.

More About: email, Facebook, MailRank

Cat Fight! Are These Viral Videos Suspiciously Similar? [UPDATED]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 02:38 PM PST

Welcome to meme fight club. In the red corner: a YouTube short about a new movie studio devoted to making cat videos. In the blue corner: a YouTube short about a new advertising agency devoted to making cat videos. Gentlemen, sharpen your claws.

Toronto-based ad agency John st. decided to generate some buzz late last week with this video, claiming that it had become the world’s first “Catvertising” agency. Check it out:

It’s an amusing idea, complete with fake statistics from “Mark Zuckerberg” on how cat videos will comprise 75% of online content by next year. Naturally, the vid went viral. Catvertising has been viewed more than 300,000 times since John St. uploaded the video on November 10.

Just one problem. As hundreds of comments on the video have pointed out, the idea bears more than a passing resemblance to Kittywood, a YouTube short about a cat video movie studio uploaded August 10 and viewed more than 500,000 times. Take a look:

Told of the previous video, John st. protested its innocence. “Sorry folks. Don't know what to say,” read a comment from the agency posted Tuesday. “It's an honest coincidence. Hadn’t seen [Kittywood] before, but we can see the similarities. Maybe we should partner up for cat domination!”

But Joe Nicolosi, the Austin-based director of Kittywood, isn’t laughing. “I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the similarities are too much for me to suspend my disbelief,” Nicolosi wrote Tuesday in an angry post on reddit.

“The funny thing is I originally came up with the premise thinking about how so few things in my life aren’t part of some massive corporate machine. Now, an agency has ripped off my video for purely capitalistic reasons. The experience has left me pretty bummed out.”

The title of Nicolosi’s reddit post asks: “what can I do other than call them copycats?” Other reddit users have chimed in with legal suggestions. But Nicolosi later tweeted that he wasn’t interested in dragging the Canadian agency into a U.S. court in a copyright battle over his $500 video.

UPDATE: Mashable reached out to Nicolosi, and here’s what he had to say:

I have no plans to take any sort of legal action against anyone, hopefully ever. That seems like such a negative way to go.

People are enjoying the John St. video, I think that’s awesome. I think it’s a well produced video. It’s frustrating to me because I don’t have near the production resources they do, it’s tough for one person to compete with an entire agency.

As for their ‘honest mistake’ comment. Whatever. Anyone putting that much work into video does research, you go out and find similar videos and figure out where yours fits in. I’ve done it with every film I’ve ever made. Kittywood doesn’t have a millions hits, but it has enough that you’d find it pretty fast.

They reached out to me today after four days of radio silence to tell me that “Great minds must think alike.” That didn’t really make me feel much better. Every single youTube comment about Kittywood, however, does.

I just hope when they say they want to partner up it doesn’t mean they’re planning on copying anything else I’ve made.

We’ve reached out to John st. for comment. What do you think of the similarities — and which is the better video? Let us know in the comments.

More About: cat videos, cats, YouTube

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Media Consumption Showdown: Kindle Fire vs. iPad 2

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 02:21 PM PST

After our initial Kindle Fire review, we wanted to take a closer look at how Amazon’s new tablet compares with the iPad 2 as a media consumption device.

Like Apple, Amazon has paired the Kindle Fire with a complete end-to-end media solution. Users can buy apps, books, music and video files all from one account and one interface.

As someone that has invested heavily in both the Apple and Amazon ecosystems, I wanted to compare the experiences in terms of media consumption. This means the ease of use in listening to music, watching movies and TV shows and purchasing apps.

Screen Size Realities

Like its eInk predecessors, the Kindle Fire is a 7″ device. The iPad (and the iPad 2) has a 9.7″ screen. Both run at about the same resolution — 1024×600 for the Kindle Fire and 1024×768 for the iPad — but the difference in aspect ratio and screen size offers up some differences.

The Kindle Fire is an ideal size for reading text (though not necessarily magazines), but it pales when compared to the iPad for viewing video. Playing back a video on the iPad in portrait orientation yields the same video size as the Kindle Fire in landscape.

Moreover, the Kindle Fire’s resolution is still in the realm of standard definition. From my tests, high definition content on the Kindle Fire didn’t look any better than the same content on the iPad.

The Kindle Fire’s screen size and aspect ratio work well for 16×9 formatted content, but for many television shows, the 4:3 aspect ratio of the iPad is actually preferable.

Ultimately, screen size is an important consideration, especially if video consumption is going to be a common activity.

Since screen resolution is nearly identical, I give the edge to the iPad 2.

Streaming vs. Downloading

Apple and Amazon both sell a variety of film and television content through their tablets. Apple’s approach is to download the video content to a device (the exception is the Apple TV 2, which simply streams content off Apple’s servers), whereas Amazon streams its content.

For home media consumption, the difference is largely one of semantics. Whether I’m watching an episode of Arrested Development via iTunes or streamed from Amazon Video, the content is still being delivered to me.

The advantage of downloading content is that it can be viewed in those rare instances when one is offline. For most users, however, constant connectivity is the norm.

Amazon goes one step further than Apple with its offerings, thanks to Amazon Prime Instant Video. Amazon Prime members get access to a growing collection of television and film content that can be streamed for free on supported devices. The only tablet to date to support Prime Instant Video is the Kindle Fire.

Third-Party Services

Apple and Amazon have both worked to create end-to-end content solutions, but nothing exists in a vacuum. A tremendous part of the iPad’s value is that it can also access third-party media services from companies like Netflix, Hulu Plus, the BBC and more.

Likewise, a string of third-party services signed on to support the Kindle Fire.

This is actually the Kindle Fire’s biggest weakness. While the major content players are accounted for, there are still a number of services and content sites that are not accessible from the Kindle Fire.

Here are some of the apps I can use on the iPad to watch video content:

  • Hulu Plus
  • Netflix
  • HBO Go
  • NBC
  • ABC
  • Crackle*
  • Optimum Online (my cable company app)
  • SnagFilms*
  • ABC Player
  • PBS
  • EyeTV
  • [adult swim]
  • TNT
  • TBS

The options in bold are also available on the Kindle Fire. The “*” indicates that an app is available for Android, but not the Kindle Fire (at least, yet).

While it’s true some of these apps require cable subscriptions or logins to function, many are absolutely free.

Additionally, the streaming rental service Vudu works on the iPad, albeit in SD only.

This is a big discrepancy in content options. For many users, it won’t matter. For my own use, not having access to HBO or my cable company app is a huge loss.


Amazon integrates the Kindle Fire with Amazon Cloud Player, much like Apple integrates the iPad with iTunes. Again, the difference really comes down to streaming vs. downloading.

As we mentioned in our iTunes Match review, Apple treats iTunes in the Cloud as a hybrid solution between streaming and downloading. Non-local tunes are played back from the cloud, but also downloaded for offline access. You can remove tracks to save space later.

Amazon’s approach is almost identical. The one exception is that users have the option of choosing to download an album for offline listening.

The cloud components of iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player are very, very close. Apple definitely makes the process of getting music to the cloud more seamless and friction-free, but the basic playlist syncing and tablet browsing experience is about the same on both.

The vast majority of subscription streaming music services — including Spotify, MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody work on both the iPad and Kindle Fire.


Although the Kindle Fire is a valiant competitor, its lack of support for a full array of video content gives the iPad the edge.

My iPad can actually replace my television set (and thanks to Cablevision’s iPad app, it largely has) and iTunes Match means it’s a great music jukebox too. The Kindle Fire isn’t robust enough to serve as the center of my media-centric universe, but it’s awfully close. And at $200, that might just be enough for some.

More About: iPad 2, itunes-match, kindle fire, netflix

Disney CEO Bob Iger Joins Apple’s Board of Directors

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:58 PM PST

Apple has added Disney CEO Bob Iger to its board of directors and appointed former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson as its non-executive chairman.

Levinson first joined Apple’s board of directors in 2000, when he was still Genentech’s CEO. He has served as the co-lead director of the board since 2005.

"Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders."

Bob Iger has been a longtime friend to Apple ever since Disney acquired Pixar and turned Steve Jobs into the company’s largest shareholder. Jobs served on Disney’s board of directors until his death.

In addition to Iger and Levinson, Apple’s board of directors includes Tim Cook, Intuit chairman William Cambell, J. Crew CEO Millard Drexler, Avon CEO Andrea Jung, former Northrop Grumman CEO Ronald D. Sugar, and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore.

Bonus: Steve Jobs and Pixar

The Early Pixar Team

Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios (left)

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Arthur Levinson, bob iger, disney

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After a Day of Waiting – And Tweeting – Occupy Wall Street Eviction Upheld

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:49 PM PST

Updated: A judge has ruled against the Occupy Wall Street protesters, meaning that the protesters will not be allowed to camp in the park, the New York Daily News reports.

The Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City is awaiting the decision from a judge that could allow it to stay in Zuccotti Park for good.

Early Tuesday morning, the New York Police Department removed OWS protesters from the park on order of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Since then, the movement has returned and issued a temporary order against the police department.

Judge Michael Stallman heard the case, and indicated that a decision will be issued by 3:15 p.m. ET (although that time has come and gone with no decision). The outcome will determine whether police must allow protestors into the now barricaded park.

Word spread quickly during the night of the NYPD’s action, and news has been coming in throughout the day about the events and whereabouts of protestors. Search #ows in Twitter and you’ll find a steady update of information.

We’re awaiting the announcement of Judge Stallman’s verdict, and will keep an eye on Twitter’s reaction as it happens.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Atomische • Tom Giebel

More About: Occupy Wall Street, Social Media, Twitter

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How to Create a Google+ Profile Banner in 5 Minutes

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:44 PM PST

Using Google+? Add Mashable to your circles. You’ll get the latest about new Google+ features and tips and tricks for using the platform as well as top social media and technology news.

In addition to setting up a Google+ page for your business and taking advantage of our handy Google+ tips and tricks, check out how to quickly and easily create a profile banner.

We’ve found a neat photo cropping tool that will help you create an eye-catching Google+ profile photo banner in five minutes.

So take a look through this simple gallery walkthrough. Link us in the comments to any creative uses of the Google+ photo banner you’ve seen — or better still, created on your own!

1. Google+ Profile Photo Banners

Customize the Google+ banner at the top of your profile to represent your business or personal brand.

Click here to view this gallery.

Images courtesy of mhiggins7055, Ben Schmitz, Jay Woodworth

More About: features, gallery, Google, How-To, Social Media

How Harvard Business School Leverages Social Media to Boost Its Brand

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:30 PM PST

The Social CMO Series is supported by the Discover Digital Group, a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

Ever heard of Harvard Business School? Odds are that you have, since brand awareness has never been a Harvard problem. What was a Harvard problem was the perception of the school as a stuffy, arrogant, blue-blood playground. And so, back in 2008, Harvard Business School hired Brian Kenny to be its first chief marketing and communications officer and to help tell the Harvard story to alumni and prospective students.

Kenny’s background is in marketing — he spearheaded U.S. marketing for Genuity, Inc. and oversaw global marketing at The Monitor Group before moving to academia — and was the VP of marketing at Northeastern University prior to moving to HBS. As CMO, Kenny and the interactive marketing team are tasked with telling the Harvard story and providing information to the 70,000+ HBS alumni and anyone who’s learning about HBS, 70% of whom are getting information through digital means.

Mashable spoke with Kenny about academic marketing, how HBS keeps the conversation going and why one of America’s oldest and most prestigious universities is hopping on board with social media.

Q&A with Brian Kenny, CMO of Harvard Business School

You're the first CMO at HBS — why did the school decide to invest in a CMO? How was HBS' marketing run before you came on?

I've been here for about three years. The person who was in the role prior to me was more on the communications side, not the marketing side. When he left, they took a step back and looked at the competition in the marketplace and the changing nature in the way business schools are competing for students.

Before I was at HBS, I was at Northeastern University, and to my knowledge, Northeastern was the first university to create a cabinet-level position with the title "VP of marketing & communications.” [University] marketing had always been more of a tactical function. Northeastern was one of the first schools to recognize that there would be fewer students competing with more institutions for the best students. So they had to find a way to build their image in places where they weren’t not known. So they created that position and funded it well. I was the first person in the area to have that title, and soon after, Tufts and BU followed suit, and the Ivy League schools were late coming around to this notion that they were in a competition market in a way that they hadn't been before.

"If we allow others to tell our story for us, then we're doing ourselves a disservice … my job is to help tell that story.”

HBS took the opportunity when the previous person left to think about that. They realized that if we allow others to tell our story for us, then we're doing ourselves a disservice. Brand recognition is clearly not an issue for Harvard or Harvard Business School, but the perception that people have of the place are not always accurate. I grew up in this area and always thought of Harvard as this elitist place, and I thought I'd encounter a lot of arrogance and sharp elbows. But it's the complete opposite of that, and you don't really realize that until you get here and you start to talk to people. All of those misconceptions fade away very quickly.

So my job is to help tell that story and to give people accurate perceptions of what the school is like, the work that we're doing and how it's different from some of the other top schools.

HBS has birthed some great startups in recent years, from Gilt to Rent the Runway to Birchbox. How do you convey HBS’ entrepreneurial prowess?

Entrepreneurship is a really interesting example of where we’re misconceived. If you think about the most entrepreneurial business schools in the U.S., Harvard probably doesn't come to mind. Maybe it's Stanford or MIT or even Babson. But entrepreneurship was created at Harvard Business School, and the working definition of entrepreneurship that's used around the world was created by a member of our faculty. Our entrepreneurship faculty is larger than the total faculty of some other schools. So that's another area where we aren't accurately known, and we need to tell that story.

Is your mission as CMO more to connect with alumni or to attract new faces?

I think about social media as a way for us to engage all the audiences that we care about in ways that we never could before. To me, the greatest benefit of social media for HBS is that it allows people to interact with us, and that wasn't the case before these social networking tools. We're very active on social media with alumni. LinkedIn is probably the predominant tool that we use, and we use it extensively to tie together the alumni clubs around the world. In the Executive Education program, you’re invited to a LinkedIn group before you step foot on campus. All of your course materials and classmate contact info is there, and then those LinkedIn groups stay active long after students leave here. Twitter is a tool we use with alumni to keep them informed about things that are happening on campus and reunion activities. So it's being used more as a broadcast tool with alumni.

There are key thrusts where the school is focusing, and one of these is innovation in the MBA program. And social media's really going to serve us well in promoting those ideas by leveraging the voices of students and faculty who are directly involved in the innovation. They can tell the story in their own words, and we use it across all the platforms we're on.

I would imagine there’s a lot of pressure when you’re running the marketing strategy for the premiere business school in America — is it a stressful position?

It's not, it's a blessing! This is the first world-class brand that I've managed, and I've been at great institutions. Arthur D. Little, The Monitor Group, Northeastern — those are all wonderful places, but they don't have the kind of brand recognition and cache that the Harvard brand has. So the benefit of that is that if we want to engage a journalist in a conversation, it's much easier to get people to respond. If we have an announcement to make, we know it'll get a lot of attention. So that works to our benefit 90% of the time.

But there's also the double edge of the sword, which is that when bad things happen, we become a focal point as sort of a poster child. If you look at the financial crisis a few years ago, we became the center of attention — "Why don't business schools do a better job teaching ethics?" "Why did you allow all these people to go to Wall Street and ruin the economy?" That stuff happens too, and social media to some extent is a driver of that kind of stuff — a conversation can start online with a few people and then it can spiral. That's one of the reasons I chose to embrace Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn early on, because we wanted to be in those conversations rather than have them happen outside our sphere of influence. We want to know what they're saying, and we want to be able to engage in the conversation.

Tell me about the HBS curriculum — has social media become a focus?

The whole thing about HBS is that we teach through cases, and that lends itself really well to emerging phenomenon like social media, because any book about social media is going to be outdated by the time it's published. A lot of the cases we use [pertaining to social media] have been written in the last year or two, and they're being embedded into existing marketing courses. We have cases on alumni’s businesses — Rent the Runway, for example — and a principal from the company might come back and answer questions. You get a great mentoring experience from someone who’s living it, and it brings credibility to our roots of entrepreneurship by telling the stories of people who are out there living them.

Sometimes these discussions don’t stop when class is over, and a lot of faculty are using Twitter to extend the conversation beyond the classroom – you'll find hashtags being used to talk about things from the class to keep the dialogue going.

As a marketer, how is working an academia different from working in a professional environment?

There are lots of fundamentals that are the same. Being a marketing person in an academic setting is more challenging in my experience than being a marketing person in a professional environment or a product marketing environment. There are so many different stakeholders — alumni, students, faculty, staff and in this case, the business world in general — and they're all expecting to hear something slightly different from you. So it makes you use a lot more muscles than you'd have to use if you had a very defined target audience and a very specific product or service. By virtue of that, it's more challenging, but it's also more fun because you get a wider breadth of things to do on a regular basis. I might be dealing with local community relations in the morning and then working on a branding strategy for the school's mobile footprint in the afternoon.

Part of what I do with my team is challenge us to always be innovative. Be proactive instead of reactive. There's definitely a culture here where we like to experiment and take qualified risks on the things we're doing. Social media gives you all sorts of avenues to rethink how you're presenting yourself to the world. I don't think we'll ever feel like we've figured it out, because the way it’s changing and evolving makes it hard to do that, but we've moved form looking at social media as a broadcast tool to really being a meaningful way to engage and for people to hear about the school.

Series Supported by Discover Digital Group

The Social CMO Series is supported by the Discover Digital Group, a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patricia Drury

More About: features, Harvard, Marketing, mashable, Social CMO Series, Social Media

Facebook Fights Flood of Violent and Pornographic Spam

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 01:16 PM PST

Facebook is investigating violent and pornographic images spammers have planted in its network.

Offensive content that has popped up in Facebook news feeds includes hardcore porn images, pictures of extreme violence, animal abuse and even a Photoshopped image of Justin Bieber in a sexual situation, according to security firm Sophos. Users tend to see the images posted on a friend’s account, visible to everyone but the friend in question.

“We have recently experienced an increase in reports and we are investigating and addressing the issue,” Facebook rep Andrew Noyes told Mashable.

It isn’t clear how the spam is being transmitted or by whom, but some sources are pointing fingers at Anonymous. The loosely affiliated group of hacker activists threatened to attack Facebook earlier this month. Anonymous, however, hasn’t mentioned the attack on any of the social channels through which it usually takes credit for its actions.

No matter who is behind the flood of obscenity, it seems to have succeeded in damaging Facebook’s reputation. Gawker, for instance, points out a new Facebook group called, “I remember when Facebook WASN’T a porn site!”

“It’s precisely this kind of problem which is likely to drive people away from the site,” wrote Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley in a blog post. “Facebook needs to get a handle on this problem quickly, and prevent it from happening on such a scale again.”

Have you noticed this kind of spam on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

Update: Facebook’s latest statement says the root of the problem is malicious javascript that some users were tricked into pasting to their browser URL bar:

“Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us, and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms. Recently, we experienced a coordinated spam attack that exploited a browser vulnerability. Our efforts have drastically limited the damage caused by this attack, and we are now in the process of investigating to identify those responsible.

During this spam attack users were tricked into pasting and executing malicious javascript in their browser URL bar causing them to unknowingly share this offensive content. Our engineers have been working diligently on this self-XSS vulnerability in the browser. We’ve built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious Pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it. We have also been putting those affected through educational checkpoints so they know how to protect themselves. We’ve put in place backend measures to reduce the rate of these attacks and will continue to iterate on our defenses to find new ways to protect people.”

More About: anonymous, Facebook, spam, trending

4 Social Media Rules Journalists Should Break

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 12:41 PM PST

Social media best practices change faster than you can tweet or “like” whatever people agreed on last week.

The idea for this piece came about while prepping IJNet’s internal social media guidelines: our Twitter followers are taking flight, so many people “like” us now on Facebook we blush, but across our languages no editor had the same strategy. Actually, their best practices often contradicted each other – (“Don’t schedule” “Use scheduling,” “Avoid cross posting.” “Cross post, it’s a lifesaver.”). You get the idea.

Here are some social media “rules” worth breaking. Your mileage may vary. But if you’re a journalist just getting started or struggling with social media time suck, try them out. Experimenting can’t hurt and we’re pretty sure at least they won’t get you fired.

Don’t Cross Post on Social Networks

If you, like Liz Heron the social media editor for the New York Times, have over 100,000 followers on your Facebook page – versus about 11,000 on your personal Twitter account, writing something especially for a group of readers equal to the population of Cambridge, Massachusetts makes sense.

If you have a more modest following, try cross posting. Not all your followers will be checking your updates on that investigative story or the best local pizza across all channels at the same time. Use a desktop client like HootSuite or a free program like IFTTT (If This, Then That) to cross post over Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. IFTTT is a multitasker’s dream: there are over 25 “triggers” you can set up including WordPress, Instagram, Facebook, Craigslist, Tumblr and Posterous. So, for example, a new post on your blog, a Google Plus update or an uploaded Instagram photo can trigger a tweet and/or a Facebook status update.

Don’t Schedule Social Media Posts

Social media is immediate, fresh, of the moment, so you should rush in there as it happens — a good recipe for never getting any actual journalism done. Consider scheduling some updates once daily, as you go through your morning news. Scheduling is also a nice way to post more personal or off-topic updates in off-peak times so you won’t annoy followers. Try Hootsuite or free apps Buffer or Timely, which times tweets for maximum effectiveness based on when most people retweet or respond.

Follow/Friend/Subscribe to Everyone Who Follows You

Not following people back seems like bad manners. But like sending hand-written thank you notes for every invitation you receive, it’s overkill and keeping up will drive you crazy. Instead of mass-following, use Twitter lists to keep up with people or subjects, on a desktop client set up streams with hashtags or keywords. On Facebook, divide friends and readers into lists or set up a Journalist Page; in Google Plus, add readers to a circle.

Don’t Repeat Yourself

Sensible advice if you don’t want to be a colossal bore at a cocktail party, but inadvisable if you’re using social media for reporting. News flash: people who follow you are not awaiting your shoutout for interviews with local business owners affected by a recent flood.

Try Tweko, which allows you to selectively repeat tweets in the time span you set up, as many times (or few) as you’d like. You can set an interval to repeat your tweets, ranging from 3-100 hours and the number of repetitions. It will repeat any tweet you add the hashtag #tweko at that setting. This is a real lifesaver if you work across time zones or internationally, you’ll reach another set of people.

What social media rules would you break?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AndrewJohnson

More About: journalism, Social Media

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Two-Thirds of Online U.S. Adults Use Social Media — But Why? [STUDY]

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 12:31 PM PST

The most common reason U.S. adults use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is to stay in touch with friends and family members, a new study reveals. A Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project study released Tuesday examines why 66% of online U.S. adults use social media.

"Some social networkers view these sites as venues for making new friends and connections," says the study‘s lead researcher, Aaron Smith. "But for the majority, social networking sites are most important as a way to share and communicate with friends and family who are already key social ties. Activities such as meeting potential dating partners or interacting with public figures are much less relevant than deepening bonds with those who are already important."

Of those surveyed, 67% say connecting with friends was a “major reason” they use social media; 64% say connecting with family was also a “major reason.” Half of the social media users say connecting with people they’ve lost touch with is a “major reason” for their use.

Older users (ages 50 to 64) are more likely than younger users (ages 18 to 29) to use social media to find others with similar interests or hobbies. Eighteen percent of the older group, compared to 10% of the younger group, use social for that reason.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Is Most Popular Social Network for All Ages; LinkedIn Is Second [STUDY]

Twitter users are more likely than Facebook or LinkedIn users to connect with public figures using social media. While 41% of users say reading celebrity and politician updates was at least a minor reason for using social media, only 4% of non-Twitter users attributed interactions with public figures as their motivation.

Only 3% of respondents say finding potential romantic or dating partners is a “major reason” they use social media. Conversely, 84% say it was “not a reason at all.”

Pew surveyed 2,277 adults over the age of 18 between Apr. 26 and May 22. There is a 3% margin of error to the findings.

Why do you use social media? Take our poll or tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Income

More About: Pew, Social Media, social media trends

Only 3 Days Left to Nominate for the Mashable Awards

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 12:25 PM PST

The nomination period for the 2011 Mashable Awards, a celebration of the most outstanding digital presences and projects, is quickly drawing to a close. You only have three days left to nominate your favorites of the web!

This year’s Mashable Awards marks the fifth consecutive year we’ve been celebrating the best of the best in social media, tech, business and entertainment. As always, we’ve opened up the nomination process to you, our readers. The process is wide open; you can nominate any organization, person, brand or otherwise to win any of the 28 categories.

Have a few Mashable Award-worthy candidates in mind? All you need is a Facebook or Twitter account. Visit our awards page, sign in with one of those services, and get nominating. You can nominate once per category per day, which means you can send us 28 of your picks each day until the process closes at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on Friday, Nov. 18.

Once we’ve heard from you, Mashable editors will get to work, selecting seven finalists for each category from the submissions with the most nominations. That means you should send us your nominations every day until the window closes, because each day’s vote will be added to your favorite candidate’s total.

We’ll pick the finalists and post them Monday, Nov. 21, when voting will be opened to the public.

How To Nominate

It couldn’t be easier to nominate your favorite digital startups, companies and personalities for a Mashable Award. As in years past, Mashable has created a unique social voting platform for the Mashable Awards. You can submit your nomination in four easy steps:

Step 1


Click here to view this gallery.

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

The Categories

Social Media

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


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


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


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

The Winners

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

The 2011 Mashable Awards Are Presented by Buddy Media


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

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

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Clorox’s Webisode Series Will Be a Product Placement Bonanza

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 11:52 AM PST

It will be hard to overlook the sponsor when Clorox rolls out a webisode series in January called Supermoms that’s loaded with product placement.

Created by RedLever Studios and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Prince, the eight-webisode live action/animated series will feature mothers living in a cul-de-sac as well as (animated) superheroes who join forces to fight their arch-enemy, Dr. Deconstructo.

The cast of the show includes Joey Lauren Adams, who is perhaps best known from Chasing Amy and Dazed and Confused, and Julie Warner of Doc Hollywood and Tommy Boy. Michael Barnett, who directed the HBO documentary Superheroes, directs the new Web series. To help market the series via social media, additional behind-the-scenes footage will run on a Supermoms Facebook Page, which hasn’t been created yet.

RedLever Studios promises, in a statement, that the webisodes will “seamlessly” integrate product placement for Clorox products including Clorox Liquid Bleach, Clorox Clean-Up, Glad Trash Bags and Fresh Step Cat litter.

Clorox has used webisodes as a marketing medium before. In January 2010, the company introduced Garden Party, an online series featuring 90210 alum Jennie Garth that promoted the company’s Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing. That show, developed by NBC Universal, ran on iVillage.

More About: Advertising, clorox, Marketing, webisodes

Foursquare’s Revamped Website Could Challenge Yelp

Posted: 15 Nov 2011 11:39 AM PST

Foursquare announced it roll out a redesigned website on Tuesday that could challenge local review sites such as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Zagat.

The company’s website has historically followed the functions and layout of its checkin-service mobile apps, but now will feature its own discovery features.

“As Foursquare has evolved, the focus has turned from simply 'checking in' to sharing our experiences and expertise, unlocking rewards and deals, and exploring the world around us,” reads a post on Foursquare’s blog announcing the changes. “And, though we spend a lot of time improving the app for your phone, we know that sometimes the best place to do those things is when you're visiting the website from your computer.”

Foursquare’s new website will feature a large map customized to show users nearby friends, places that are trending, places that are popular and places on their lists. The map will be accompanied by a list of recommendations for where to go at the moment.

“Load it up at 11:30 and we'll start suggesting great lunch spots nearby, and in the early evening we'll switch to places for dinner,” Foursquare’s blog post explains. “On Saturday afternoon, we'll show you some great weekend activities.”

In addition, Foursquare added a list search feature, Foursquare places pages got a “total facelift,” and the entire site introduces “an entirely new visual language.”

While the site hasn’t rolled out yet, from what we can tell the redesign makes Foursquare’s website a good place to search and browse for local businesses — something its check-in focused predecessor cold not boast. Yelp became more like Foursquare by adding check-ins last November. Now it looks like it’s Foursquare’s turn to become a little bit more like Yelp.

New Foursquare Website: Map

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: foursquare, trending, yelp

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