Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Chrome Update Brings Faster Browsing”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Chrome Update Brings Faster Browsing”


Google Chrome Update Brings Faster Browsing

Posted: 09 Feb 2012 01:12 AM PST


The new stable release of Google’s web browser Chrome brings several improvements, most importantly faster browsing and more protection from malicious downloads.

From now on, when you start typing in Chrome’s address box (or omnibox, as Google calls it), as soon as Chrome autocompletes the URL you’re likely to visit, it will prerender the page, making your overall browsing experience faster.

As far as security goes, Chrome now does checks on executable files you’ve downloaded from the net. It matches the executables against a whitelist – a list of programs known to be safe – and if it can’t find the file there, it does some additional checks. For example, if the site you’re visiting hosts a high number of malicious downloads, Chrome will let you know.

The update comes just one day after Google announced Chrome for Android mobile devices.

Google also promises some updates to Chrome OS for the “near future,” including a new image editor and an improved Verizon 3G activation portal.

You can download the latest version of Google Chrome here.

More About: chrome, Google, google chrome


‘Bachelor’ Contestant Courtney Gets Auto-Tuned [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 09:19 PM PST

Fans of The Bachelor are all too familiar with this season’s over-the-top contestant Courtney, who makes snide comments at the camera and likes to take off her bikini top.

Now, a video has popped up on YouTube that has turned some of her signature phrases — from “Winning!” to “I do modeling” — into a catchy Auto-Tune clip.

The contestants are vying for a rose from winemaker Ben, and Courtney has rubbed many of them the wrong way, and this video shows why.

This is not the first time YouTube users have turned pop culture moments into Auto-Tuned videos. The best example of which is Antoine Dodson, whose "Bed Intruder" news interview was turned into a video by Auto-Tune The News and went viral. He was later given the opportunity to shoot a reality television show pilot.

What’s your favorite Auto-Tuned video? Let us know in the comments.

More About: YouTube


Facebook Talks About Social Games and Mobile Apps for 2012

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 09:09 PM PST

facebook mobile

Facebook revealed its roadmap for social games and mobile apps for the rest of the year at the Inside Social Apps 2012 conference on Wednesday in San Francisco — and it’s good news for app developers.

Want to create an app for Facebook’s Open Graph? The mobile space presents a huge opportunity to create cross-platform social games, said Carl Sjogreen, director of product management at Facebook, who spoke to a packed conference center filled with IT insiders about Facebook’s projections for the mobile social gaming and app space for this year.

“You sort of had to have a PhD in Facebook to build an app on Facebook,” he said. Now, with the new Open Graph he said they want to encourage people to create cross-platform social apps.

“If you are building a social application….it’s really important to think about cross-platform,” he said.

Social apps are not as straightforward as creating an iOS or Android app. If you have an app that doesn’t allow you to play with friends who have different devices, that problems trumps any visual features lost by creating a cross-platform device. Social applications need to be inherently cross-platform.

What users want, he says, is to create a dynamic Facebook timeline that tells their story — whether that means they’re sharing the games they play, vacation photos or their favorite recipes.

“For the platform to be complete, we need to have all of that,” he said. “We have millions of people playing games on Facebook every day and that’s an important part of their experience.”

The moderator, AJ Glasser of InsideNetwork, asked Sjogreen about Facebook’s vision for how the API should work 12 months from now. Sjogreen said he’d like to create a better experience with games on the Open Graph, without interruptions and many opportunities to share.

“I think the potential for games is really huge,” he said. “We want to help every user find an app that makes sense for them.”

Pinterest has been one of the most successful apps recently launched through timeline integration.

Facebook’s mobile web platform launched a late last year. This allowed users to access apps integrated with Facebook while on their mobile devices, in addition to desktop computers.

“It took all applications that made the web platform so appealing and made them available on mobile,” Sjogreen said.

More than half of Facebook users access the site on their mobile devices. There are already 60 million people who engage with mobile apps on Facebook.

Late January, Mashable’s Pete Cashmore talked to Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships Dan Rose to discuss Facebook’s ultimate goal behind all of the recent integrations with various apps, games and web tools. Rose said Facebook wants to be a “social graph” for all of its users.

Would you like Facebook to be a one-stop-shop for what everyone is doing on the web? Are you an app developer creating a mobile app for Facebook’s Open Graph? What are your thoughts on this? What do you think about Facebook’s plans for the future of social gaming and mobile? Tell us in the comments.

More About: 2012, apps, Facebook, Open Graph, timeline


What Digital Non-Profits Can Learn From Companies Like Google

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 08:46 PM PST


Daniel Atwood works with organizations in the social sector to craft meaningful experiences for customers and constituents, and to find innovative product, campaign and messaging ideas in unexpected places.

We live in a world where new digital products are solving problems daily — from managing our finances to remembering the groceries. Often, they’re solving problems we didn’t know we had, like the need to connect several times a day in 140 characters or less. Occasionally, they’re creating new problems (but that’s a topic for another conversation).

What we’re just starting to see, and what is for many the most exciting trend in technology, is the emergence of digital products designed specifically to provide social services at scale. This isn’t a rant about the death of the traditional non-profit, but a birth announcement. Non-profits (and other organizations aimed at making a social impact) are taking new approaches that look less like direct service and more like Google. These aren’t just brochure websites. They’re tools — proprietary, unique and scalable. And this means there's an increased need for talented digital product managers in the social sector.

Let's take a quick look at where organizations have been focused for the past several years; we'll call it Non-profit Digital Engagement 1.0.

In this phase, a handful of tools came to dominate our understanding of how non-profits could engage in the digital space. Specifically, these were tools that enabled people to email Congress, sign a petition, tell-a-friend, send a letter to the editor or make a donation. This toolset focused on two activities: fundraising and advocacy — raising money and making noise. Those activities are important for most organizations, but they represent only a small slice of how non-profits actually aim to create change. And partly as a result, too many organizations were applying the same tools to engage people around wildly different problems.

So, what's next? In short, less focus on tools that aim to engage more people with causes, and more focus on a new wave of customized digital tools that provide social services at scale to constituents.

Some examples:

  • Kiva: This is an early one, but one worth noting. Kiva created a digital platform to connect small-dollar funders with nascent social entrepreneurs. This let it scale its model in a way that would have been nearly impossible had it not put a significant focus on technology.
  • Brighter Planet: Actually a for-profit company, Brighter Planet is a great example of using digital thinking to find new ways of adding value to social causes. It created the CM1 platform to calculate carbon impact and opened it up with APIs that allow others to plug in and do the same. MasterCard has signed on and will soon be providing carbon impact reports to its corporate clients based on its employees’ travel habits. Brighter Planet has focused on a specific need, and it’s offering a scalable solution for it.
  • Google's Haiti Person Finder: When an earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Google teamed up with the State Department to rapidly create a tool that let people submit and search for information about missing loved ones. It has since deployed it several times for other disasters, including the 2010 earthquake in Chile and the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan.

These examples go beyond the traditional paradigm of raising more money and sending more emails to Congress. They are each providing a real service in a constituent-centric, scalable way that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

A corollary to this promising growth in digital services is that it's going to require more money invested in work that is traditionally viewed as 'overhead' in the non-profit world; namely, the significant staff time, design and development costs associated with creating and maintaining great digital products. Donors will have to think differently about investing in these types of projects. And organizations that hope to undertake them will have to lead the way by educating and inspiring donors in new ways.

For those groups that do want to create and scale digital services like these, the key to success will be putting the right people with the right power in the right positions. There is still a dire need for campaigners and organizers — no question about it. But as often happens in this still-evolving field, we're seeing a new core role emerge naturally: the digital product manager. Product managers — people who can envision, build and market digital tools that add real value — will play an increasingly critical role. Good product managers thrive on strategic thinking, but are also obsessed with ensuring that the final detail is just right. They care as much about design as about sustainable coding. They are tireless, tenacious and patient.

As many have already noted, we can’t solve all of our problems with technology. But technology has opened up new opportunities for organizations to create scalable, innovative services in the social sector. And we’re just beginning to realize the implications of that shift.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: contributor, features, Google, non-profit, Social Good

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Comment and Highlight on Websites with commentto

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 08:30 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: commentto

Quick Pitch: Comment anywhere.

Genius Idea: Commentto is a browser add-on service that allows users to highlight, bookmark, comment, save and share bookmarks and excerpts on websites.



Do you ever want to add extra knowledge to a news story or other content on the web? Well, browser add-on commentto lets you comment on anything you want.

Commentto allows users to highlight paragraphs on websites and add additional notes or comments. Users can also save information from a webpage to a personal commentto account folder. In the commentto popup, users can edit the title of the clip, add comments, and place the excerpt into a folder. Commentto does not track website history, but keeps a digital record of the websites and excerpts saved.

This add-on feature is especially helpful for those doing research and want to return to a webpage at a later date. Students could benefit from sharing notes, too. It can also be a useful tool for programmers, or anyone really.

“I code everyday, and many times I search online for solutions to problems I have with my code,” said Kandarp Dave, the founder of commentto. “When I find a solution, all I do is select, and save the information to commentto.”

Dave started working on commentto in 2009 while he was studying computer science at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He earned a master’s in computer science in December 2011 and now his complete focus has turned to his startup. Commentto relaunched last month with a shinier exterior. Dave said he listened to feedback from its 185 users to make the site better, faster and easier to use.

He has built commentto solely with his own funds. The add-on has not been profitable, but Dave hopes to accept advertising in the future.

“I started commentto, because I was really bothered that I always had to comment at the end of, say, a news article,” he said. “That’s not really a conversation. If we want to bring real-world conversations online, we have to provide users a way to comment anywhere.”

Mostly Dave’s friends and social network are the ones using the site. He hopes more will try it out. To start using commentto, sign up for the add-on’s free service and then download the browser extension on Firefox or Chrome. From there, a user can comment on anything on the web and save content to folders. Watch Dave’s video to see the browser add-on in action.

“Once you start using it you will really love it,” Dave said. “It is very easy to use.”

The positive side to this add-on is knowledge could be more widely shared. The down side — comments could clutter the web or be completely inaccurate. Although, only those who have the commentto add-on can see comments.

Will you use commentto? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.


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: add-ons, bizspark, commenting, Commentto, firefox add-on, spark of genius series, spark-of-genius

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Twitter Comedy: How to Be Funny in 140 Characters

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 07:37 PM PST

Comedy is king on Twitter. Professional humorists and armchair standups alike have amassed legions of followers that hang on every 140-character quip.

Twitter humor is a brand-builder, a great writing exercise, and if you’re really good, it might even land you a job (but probably not, so settle down).

So, what does it take to get laughs at this 24/7 digital cocktail party? We asked some of the funniest tweeters around for their tips on cracking wise in the one-liner Renaissance.


1. Start by Being Funny in the First Place





Bill Corbett knows a thing or two about landing short quips. He's a writer/performer over at RiffTrax.com, and an alum of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show that invented this stuff.

"First bit of advice: Be a funny person. There may be nothing you can do about this one.

Second bit of advice: Try to understand the short form, and be playful within it. Not everything needs to read like a classic "premise, punchline" joke...But understand that tastes vary wildly. Not everyone will think you're hilarious, and some dicks will make sure to tell you so. Don't worry about it.

Third bit of advice: Really, there are no rules. Ignore my second bit of advice and go back to my first."

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: comedy, features, funny, humor, Social Media, trending, Twitter, writing


Check in at Walgreens and Receive Tweet Deal Coupons [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 07:22 PM PST

Walgreens is tweeting mobile coupons to customers who check in on mobile apps including Foursquare, Yelp and Facebook — letting customers in on deals while they shop.

The retailer is taking advantage of knowing who is in one of its 8,000 national locations. It is one of 40 companies currently using LocalResponse technology, which aggregates more than 1 billion checkins per month.

January check-in tweet deals at Walgreens included discounts on Halls cough drops coupon, flu shots and Energizer batteries, according to AdAge.

LocalResponse is a check-in aggregator that collects publicly shared information from more than 200 million users across platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram.

Walgreens stands as the first retailer to use LocalResponse to send promotions for packages goods, but joins a long list of big-name clients.

SEE ALSO: 13 Location-Based Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs

The startup had its soft launch more than two years ago, but will relaunch its beta in a couple weeks. However, it’s picking up speed, signing up multiple big brands including Verizon, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Mills, Hershey’s and others. LocalResponse recently received $5 million-backing from various companies.

Some of these brands have their own way of utilizing LocalResponse. Verizon, for example, uses it to respond to customers tweeting frustrations about other phone companies. Verizon tweets back with a $100 discount for individuals to switch carriers.

Tell us, in the comments below, what you think about businesses taking advantage of knowing where you have checked in.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Phillip Pessar.

More About: Advertising, Marketing, online coupons, Twitter


‘Walk Off the Earth’ Gets 50 Million YouTube Views in a Month [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 07:02 PM PST

Meet Walk off the Earth, the ultra-talented quintet that turned its version of a sleeper hit into a viral phenomenon on YouTube and earned itself a record deal.

The Canadian indie band posted a video covering Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” last month, and it has since been viewed on YouTube nearly 50 million times. The clip shows the band playing on a single guitar. One strums the guitar while the others tap and pluck along. Now the band — which has been together for nearly six years — has earned itself a record deal with Columbia Records.

The captivating video caught the attention of Russell Crowe and Alyssa Milano, who tweeted the cover to their Twitter followers, and the band recently performed on Ellen. Even Gotye — the Belgian-Australian singer songwriter — has cheered on the band:

“I know who to ask for help with acoustic versions of Somebody: Walk Off The Earth. Hilarious and brilliant,” @Gotye tweeted.

Gotye’s original version — uploaded to YouTube in July 2011 — is still beating out the cover with nearly 65 million views.

The band has since posted a thank you video and message on its site: “We just wanted to make this video to say thank you to everyone who has shared and posted the video and made this crazy dream come true for us,” one member wrote.


BONUS: 15 Wannabes That Found Fame on YouTube



1. Avery


Teen star Avery was a big YouTube hit in 2010 with both covers and original material. The latter netted her a Universal record contract (supposedly following a bidding war) after her videos were viewed by A&R folks.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: memes, Music, trending, viral, YouTube


DKNY Takes Top Honors at Fashion 2.0 Awards

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 06:41 PM PST


After nabbing four of the eight awards handed out at last year’s Fashion 2.0 Awards, apparel brand DKNY was once again recognized for its use of digital media, taking home awards for Best Twitter and Best Blog by a Fashion Brand.

The honors are well deserved. DKNY’s Twitter account and Tumblr blog, both of which are run by Donna Karan International SVP of Global Communciations Aliza Licht, are entertaining, informative and exceptionally on-brand. The Twitter account features, among other things, live blogs of CW show Gossip Girl each week, and frequently engages in conversations with followers of all stripes. Meanwhile, the brand’s Tumblr has become a go-to resource for humor-laced PR advice.

Winners were determined entirely by popular vote, following an open nomination round. One award — the Fashion 2.0 Visionary Award — was presented for the first time to Gilt Groupe cofounders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, and was exempt from the voting process.

The awards, handed out for the third time at the SVA Theatre in New York City Wednesday evening, are designed to recognize innovation in an industry that, before the latter half of 2010, was sincerely behind other industries in its adaptation of digital media.

A full list of nominees and winners (in bold) are displayed below.


Best Twitter


@BetseyJohnson
@DVF
@DKNY
@OscarPRGirl
@RachelZoe


Best Facebook


Bergdorf Goodman
Burberry
Dior
Gucci
Oscar de la Renta


Best Blog by a Fashion Brand


Alice & Olivia
DKNY PR Girl
Kate Spade
Rebecca Minkoff/ Minkette
Tory Burch/Torypedia


Best Website


Burberry
Coach
Elie Tahari
J Brand
Marc Jacobs


Best Mobile App


DVF
GAP Style Mixer
Ralph Lauren Collection
Tiffany & Co. Engagement Ring Finder
Victoria's Secret for iPad


Best Online Video


Bergdorf Goodman "Unleashed"
Lanvin Fall Winter 2011-2012 Ad Campaign
Norma Kamali 3D Spring 2012 Collection
Prada Spring/Summer 2011 Video Campaign
Rachel Roy Holiday Kindness Series


Next Big Thing in Tech


Instagram
Pinterest
Pose
Snapette
Stylitics


Top Innovator


Burberry
Coach
DKNY
Kate Spade
Oscar de la Renta

Graphic courtesy DKNY

More About: dkny, fashion, fashion 2.0

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Connected Cars: How to Accelerate Mainstream Adoption

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 06:20 PM PST


Steve Tengler is a user experience (UX) director at Altia, Inc. He spent over 20 years in automotive design at OnStar, Nissan and Ford.

Every so often, the media tells us about an automotive manufacturer on the cusp of delivering wireless, cooperative systems. The reader immediately thinks of Knight Rider, and wanders through a fantasy of connected car heaven.

However, this type of news is often miles from accurate; connected car offerings in the near-to-distant future are a different reality. This article examines the delays behind that "nearly done" automotive technology, and analyzes the value of our research dollars.

In 2005, several automakers introduced cooperative, wireless systems at the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress in the parking lot of the San Francisco Giants’s then SBC Park. Messages were sent vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure via dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) or, as it would later be renamed, "IEEE 802.11p (5.9 GHz)."

Most of the applications were safety-related systems that offered a seemingly futuristic understanding of position, speed and road conditions. But that was six long years ago – so, what has changed? Apart from the Giants stadium name-change, not much. Technology is no closer to the marketplace. Let’s explore why.


The “Co” in Cooperation


If you've heard the saying "the second mouse gets the cheese," then you understand the fate of the first mouse — snap! Similarly, no company has succumbed to the lure of the first-to-market-cheese since each has foreseen the trap: producing a cooperative system with no cooperation.

Let's imagine you are a leading automotive manufacturer that holds 20% of the U.S. market. That market is projected to reach 14 million vehicles in 2012. Considering there are over 250 million vehicles on the road, you could potentially communicate with 1.1% of the vehicles after just one year, assuming you installed the $200-$300 worth of equipment on all of your vehicles.

The first customer to purchase a wireless device creates the equivalent of a tree falling in an unoccupied forest. How satisfied will he or she be? If there’s no one else with whom to communicate, then not very satisfied at all. And how differentiating will that system be when all other automotive companies introduce systems that communicate the same information as your breakthrough device? Again, not at all. The moral to this story? In this case, being first has few rewards.


The Technology Hurdles


There are still four hiccups in the technology that, surprisingly, don't make it to the media all that often.

  • Security: If someone hacks into the system, there needs to be a means of crime identification and removal (e.g. law enforcement, disabling hardware, ignoring false broadcasts, etc.). Otherwise, Joe Hacker could ease his commute by diverting traffic or creating city-wide chaos. However, this level of security management requires a backhaul system to a centralized certificate authority (someone who manages the system). At one point, the government considered making this a series of installed roadside or intersection locations, but that was too expensive and fraught with state-to-state complications. The individual OEMs could seek an embedded or accommodated cellular connection (e.g. OnStar or SYNC), but those require cuts in penetration, depending on the actions of the customer, who could cancel his OnStar subscription, forget to connect, or turn on a Bluetooth cellphone. So, right now there's no easy one-size-fits-all solution to security.
  • Positioning: Any semi-autonomous system currently provides lane positioning by white-line monitoring (i.e. lane markers), but according to AASHTO, the likelihood of a lane departure fatality is twice as high in rural areas, where lane markings are less common and also tend to have inferior lighting and snow removal. To overcome that challenge, the vehicle must have highly accurate, autonomous positioning. This can only be achieved with one of several expensive solutions.
  • Packet Collisions: Imagine being on the floor of the stock market — lots of people screaming, no one can effectively hear everyone all at once. During the initial phases of cooperative research on platooning done by the automotive manufacturers, this is exactly what the investigations determined. In congested multi-lane highway situations, each vehicle would be trying to broadcast its location, but no one would be able to “hear” it. Therefore, platooning would not be successfully (or safely) achieved.
  • Intelligence: As artfully described by Hotchkiss in "Understanding the Human Part of the User Experience," we humans are unbelievably adept decision-makers. Replacing us for even simple, predictable tasks like chess has taken decades and serious processing power. Driving is a complex task that requires thousands of decisions and reactions every mile. Implementing humans’ complex, dynamic decisions and observations to create an autonomous system is an enormous task.

The Business Case


How does the automotive manufacturer make a profit on these cooperative, non-differentiating systems? How can an automotive manufacturer easily charge for the hardware? If infrastructure must be supplied, how is it governed?

The question of collective business was mentioned by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the 2011 Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, despite nearly a decade of investigations into cooperative technology. Until a means of making money is clearly delineated, no companies will be lining up to platoon, regardless of the societal benefits.

The solution occasionally proposed is that Wi-Fi could provide the accident avoidance systems, along with non-safety Internet connectivity at intersections. This plan is fraught with technological issues (the latency to join the intersection group — known as association timing — is too great) as well as business issues. Who pays to install Wi-Fi at millions of intersections? If the government gets that bill, how does it avoid competing with the private sector? Regardless of public or private, how does today's car count on the infrastructure 10 years from today? Who co-pays for maintenance? Maybe Google will provide free Wi-Fi, or maybe it will fizzle like some of the company’s other beta releases.


Some Potential Solutions


Now, we’re not expecting a Jetsons-type car, but a few key companies could help realize basic wireless functionality. The solutions, though, require the following strategic elements.

  • Creative User Experience: To differentiate from the cooperative systems competition, the user experience (UX) must be unique in some fashion. For safety systems such as intersection collision avoidance and platooning, it is actually undesirable to have non-standard interfaces, since a common warning is more likely to elicit a common reaction. To differentiate, the OEM must create non-safety applications with unique UXs that provide value using the same technology. Be it a local chat room, an automated license plate game, or a quasi-classified information exchange, the human-machine interface that provides the unique customer experience in a safe manner will justify or subsidize the costs.
  • Sleeping with the Enemy: Entering the market via only one OEM is insufficient, but co-launching the system with one or two other vehicle manufacturers could easily result in 50-60% market penetration. This would require a coordinated launch, which is difficult enough with one OEM across multiple vehicle platforms, but is especially challenging between competitors. As crazy as it sounds, GM and Toyota have already discussed the opportunity, but reportedly struck no deal for co-distribution. Some OEMs are awaiting a mandate from the U.S. government that requires companies to install DSRC equipment, but that's the best way to arrive last to the party with little to no differentiation.
  • The Alpha and the Omega: To launch the system, the vehicle and the infrastructure must exist first. The only ways for an automaker to ensure this is to either use something existing or provide the enabler on its own. Be it an embedded cellular system (e.g. Lexus Enform, GM OnStar) or an integration solution (e.g. Ford SYNC), the backhaul must attach to a privately-run security system. Otherwise, the design is fraught with risks that no manufacturer will accept, unless mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If embedded, though, the UX must provide a flexible interface that will allow additional safety and non-safety applications to be added and removed as risks are determined.
  • Customer Reaction: Research notes that 57% of people consider themselves better than average drivers. Human behavior studies have proven that people are only willing to trust an autonomous system in hazardous situations if it is familiar, and has a proven history of reliability. To launch anything successfully requires a commitment to marketing and usability demonstrations so that the public becomes comfortable with the new features.

Last, but not least, I want to leave you — the reader, the taxpayer, the automotive buyer — with this thought: Consider a technology investment no different than any other investment: value vs. cost. The government believes wireless systems could address 81% of all light-vehicle target crashes, but that's on paper, with no mitigating circumstances. What's the real number?

As for the cost, various government programs, like IntelliDrive, have spent over $100 million. A study by the Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration (VII) program estimates a piece cost of $50 per vehicle, with infrastructure deployment costs of $3.2 billion, and operating costs of just under $200 million per year. What is the acceptable prevention-to-investment ratio? Does money matter when it's your spouse or child saved? Will the slick UX of non-safety apps offset that cost? Whatever your thoughts, these decisions are being made nationally. Try to understand the reality of the situation before the industry takes off.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alubalish, Flickr, colinbrown, mrlerone

More About: automotive, cars, connected car, contributor, features


Snooki Channels Her Inner Zuckerberg With New Facebook Game

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 06:07 PM PST


Snooki's Match Game




Jersey Shore star Zucki ... uh, I mean Snooki has just unleashed her first Facebook game.

Dubbed Snooki's Match Game, it strikingly resembles Facemash, Mark Zuckerberg's site from 2003 that challenged users to pick the hotter person pictured in two separate photographs.

Click here to view this gallery.

Jersey Shore star Zucki … uh, I mean Snooki, has just unleashed her first Facebook game.

Dubbed Snooki's Match Game, it bears a striking resemblance to Facemash, Mark Zuckerberg‘s site from 2003 that challenged users to pick the hotter person pictured in two separate photographs.

The new game is simple and has two parts. First, it spits out six photos in each round — one on the left that players match with one of the five photos on the right. Players guess which two people are dating based solely on looks. Part two involves players using a meter to rate which one of those two people is hotter. That’s it.

Match Game records players’ scores and ranks them in several categories, including “Couples Most Often Matched Correctly,” “Longest Streak of Correct Guesses” and “User With the Highest Correct Guess Percent.” Players also can invite friends to play, and submit couples to be put into the game’s repertoire of photos.

SEE ALSO: The Three Stooges Encounter an iPhone, Snooki [VIDEO]

Apps Genius created the game and last year signed a contract to make as many as eight apps and games for Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. Previously, Apps Genius released a mobile app — Snookify Me! — in October that let people edit their photos to look more like Snooki.

"Nicole has a dedicated fan base, and it has been a pleasure working with her on developing games and apps for her followers,” Apps Genius CEO Adam Kotkin said in a statement. “By offering it for free to Facebook users, we are utilizing an advertising model and will monetize the game through increased traffic and visibility.”

Snooki, a New York Times best-selling author, alerted her fans to the game on Twitter.

“I know my fans will love rating guidos and guidettes using this game,” Snooki said in a statement. “This is just the beginning from Apps Genius, and we will have so much more fun planned along the way."

More About: celebrities, Entertainment, Facebook, games, jersey shore, Snooki

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ESPN’s ‘Complain About Women’ Option Exposed by Twitter User

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 05:42 PM PST


Until Tuesday, ESPN had a special section on its website for viewers to complain specifically about announcers who happen to be female.

“Commentator — dislike female commentators,” read one option in a drop-down menu that enables viewers to provide feedback about coverage topics including blacked-out games, camera angels and audio/video issues, according to a screenshot posted by Twitter user Megan Soisson on Tuesday. Here is the tweet:

Soisson is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and sports editor of its student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. She was looking into why a major upcoming basketball game against Harvard University would not be televised on the network, and was directed to a contact page off the main ESPN website, which is where she found the complaint option.

“I was really shocked about it and upset because I’m a female sportswriter, so it’s like one of my dreams to be a sideline reporter — and to see there was a specific area to comment against female reporters was upsetting,” Soisson told Mashable in an interview.

She then tweeted the picture to to a few female broadcast professionals, including ESPN’s Hannah Storm (pictured at left in photo at top right) and Sage Steele.

“Sage are you aware of this? Found it yesterday,” she wrote to Steele. To Storm she wrote, “did you know this existed? Found it yest.”

The Jezebel blog soon picked up on the story, writing it up in a short post on Tuesday night. On Wednesday Soisson received this response in an email from ESPN:

“We very much appreciate you raising this issue with us. We have corrected the problem and will have a statement for you shortly.”

That was soon followed by a slightly longer statement directly to Soisson:

We apologize for the mistake on the viewer response form template. We've been an industry leader for more than 30 years and are extremely proud of the leadership role we continue to play in providing high-profile opportunities and assignments for female commentators — from SportsCenter anchors to play-by-play announcers, analysts, reporters and more. We appreciate that this matter was brought to our attention and it was addressed and deleted immediately.

The sports media blog Fang’s Bites apparently received a copy of that statement later upon request, but it is still not readily accessible online.

Soisson said that later on Wednesday, an ESPN vice president wrote her a longer personal apology in which he explained that the comment field for complaints about female reporters was a a relic from some 10 years ago, when the the network first began assigning female play-by-play announcers to cover college football games and received criticism from some fans.

“He says in his email that there’s no defense and it was a horrible decision, so I really do appreciate the response,” Soisson said. “But I was hoping they would be a little bit more public about acknowledging it.”

Mashable contacted ESPN for more comment, but as of publication had not gotten any additional information. We’ll update the story if and when we do.

UPDATE: An ESPN representative contacted Mashable and essentially echoed what was in the second one-paragraph response to Soisson.

What do you think about this comment field for complaints about female announcers? Honest mistake, or something that never should have been there in the first place? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Delaware Online.

More About: Business, Media, sports

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Valley Still Beats Alley in Meetup Tech Groups

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 05:31 PM PST


Silicon Valley’s tech scene still beats out Silicon Alley’s, at least as far as Meetup numbers go.

Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman announced at the 21,000-member New York Tech Meetup on Wednesday that Bay area tech Meetup groups had more RSVPs in 2011 than those in any other city.

New York City had the second-most members of Meetup tech group RSVPers, followed by London, Washington D.C. and Chicago. The fastest-growing tech scene on Meetup, based on RSVPs, was Hong Kong, followed by Melbourne, Detroit and Paris.

This ranking, of course, is heavily dependent upon Meetup adoption and not a direct indicator of startup scene size. There are few objective ways to compare the size of “scenes” that all sides seem eager to compare.

New York City in particular has taken to positioning itself as a tech mecca. In the last year, the city has pumped up its digital initiatives, welcomed prestigious startup accelerator TechStars, opened new offices for Twitter and Facebook and announced plans for a 2.1-million-square-foot Cornell tech campus.

Along the way, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has framed New York City as a Silicon Valley rival.

“We understand that we will not catch up to Silicon Valley overnight,” he said in a speech to the business community. “Building a state-of-the-art campus will take years, and attracting a critical mass of technology entrepreneurs will take even longer. But — as with everything we have done — we are taking the long view.”

Take a look at the gallery of Meetup stats on tech communities, and let us know where you see tech gaining momentum in the comments.


Tech Meetups




Almost a third of tech Meetup RSVPers are in more than one tech Meetup group.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: meetup, silicon alley, Silicon Valley

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On Facebook and Twitter, Few Want Political News [STUDY]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 04:55 PM PST


Only six percent of Americans are getting their political news from Facebook while a meager two percent do the same on Twitter, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The study, which analyzed how Americans are watching the 2012 presidential race, also found that interest is down from 2008 across mediums. 29 percent of respondents have said they’re following news about the election “very closely,” down from 34 percent the same time last year.

The campaign has lost the interest of many young Americans. In 2008, 31 percent of people aged 18-29 said they were paying close attention to the political showdown. This time around, only 20 percent are dialed in.

Could it be that ambivalence on the part of younger people (who are generally more engaged with social media) is causing the low numbers of engagement with campaign news on services such as Facebook and Twitter?

Possibly, suggests the data.

While 42 percent of people aged 18-29 got campaign news primarily from the Internet in late 2007, only 29 percent are doing the same in early 2012. But their lack of engagement is reflected in all forms of media: cable news, network news, local TV and local newspapers have all seen a downward trend for political coverage and that age bracket.

However, people over 30 are using the Internet as their primary source of campaign news more often in 2012 than in 2007. And the Internet is still the place where young people who are engaged with politics turn for their politics fix, followed closely by cable news. The 18-29 age group also ranked Facebook as the place where they most often learn “something” about the political campaign, even if it’s not their primary source for news.

Did you expect more people to be turning to Facebook and Twitter for political news? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, sjlocke

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Facebook, Politics, Social Media, Twitter


BBC, Sky News and CNN Grapple With Twitter Rules

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 04:19 PM PST


The BBC, Sky News and CNN are trying to figure out how to make Twitter play nicely with traditional newsrooms. Sky News and the BBC released new social media guidelines this week, while CNN has suspended an analyst for controversial tweets.

The BBC’s new rules require journalists to file a story and tweet simultaneously instead of tweeting before submitting a story. According to a report from The Guardian, the rules apply to all the company’s corespondents.

The new policy is designed to get stories into the editorial process as quickly as possible.

“We prize the increasing value of Twitter, and other social networks, to us (and our audiences) as a platform for our content, a newsgathering tool and a new way of engaging with people,” the BBC’s social media editor told The Guardian. “Being quick off the mark with breaking news is essential to that mission. But we’ve been clear that our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter.”

The BBC’s updated social media rules come a day after Sky News instructed its writers not to retweet anything from rival organizations or outside a particular reporter’s beat. That means a Sky News journalist covering, say, national politics couldn’t tweet about his or her favorite soccer club on a personal account.

Sky News cited similar reasons for its new Twitter policies, while adding that content retweeted from other news outlets have not been vetted by the company’s own internal editorial process.

In an email seen by The Guardian, the company says that news desks have learned “from Twitter details that should have been first passed on to them.”

The new social media rules of Sky News seek “to ensure that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories.”

Meanwhile, CNN‘s Roland Martin was suspended by the company Wednesday in response to a series of controversial tweets he sent during Sunday’s Super Bowl. Many gay rights organizations took offense to Martin’s comments about soccer star David Beckham’s H&M commercial and a New England Patriots player’s pink jumpsuit.

Roland was almost immediately lambasted by Twitter users for those tweets. He defended himself by claiming that he was making fun of soccer fans, not gay people.

However, that wasn’t enough to prevent CNN from suspending Roland.

“Roland Martin's tweets were regrettable and offensive,” said CNN in a statement. “Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being."

How would you like to see media organizations use social media? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RomanOkopny

More About: bbc, cnn, journalism, Media, sky news, Social Media, trending, Twitter, World

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Game Developer Wooga Draws In 40 Million Users

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 04:07 PM PST


LIVE from the third annual Inside Social Apps 2012 conference.

Mobile game developer Wooga recently ranked as the third most popular game developer in terms of monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook with more than 40 million players each month. The company has so far released six games: Brain Buddies, Bubble Island, Monster World, Happy Hopsital, Diamond Dash and Magic Land. The games are available in seven languages. Versions that sync to mobile devices will soon be launched as well.

The characters in Wooga games — unicorns, princes, trolls and buck-toothed giraffes, for example — combine a Disney-like wholesomeness with the madcap look of video game characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario.


Wooga, based in Berlin, was founded in 2009 by Jens Begemann, Philipp Moeser and Patrick Paulisch.

The company says it experienced 185% user growth in 2011, and plans to add 100 new employees this year.

"Wooga's growth is organic in every sense. Only 5% of our new users come through paid ads and 40% through viral features, with the remainder coming from cross-linking through our existing games,” CEO and co-founder Jens Begemann said in an interview.

Just this week, the bipartisan, tech-promoting organization TechNet released a study, which found that apps have created nearly half a million jobs in the United States since 2007, dubbing the result the “app economy.”

Do you play Wooga games? What do you think about them? Tell us in the comments.

More About: apps, employment, jobs, social games, Wooga


New Facebook Filings Reveal Details of its Relationship With Zynga

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 03:46 PM PST


Facebook just amended its S-1 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the documents offer deeper insight into Facebook’s relationship with Zynga.

Facebook amended or added 26 new documents to its SEC filing and these updated documents provide more color on Facebook’s stock allotment and its relationships with other companies.

As first reported by Business Insider, that includes a more detailed look at how Facebook and Zynga work together.

In original IPO filing, it was revealed that Zynga accounts for 12% of Facebook’s revenue. That news was enough to lift Zynga’s stock and made clear that the relationships is symbiotic.

The amended filings include a Developer Addendum effective as of May 14, 2010 that discloses the developer relationship between the two companies.

The documents says, in part:

The parties acknowledge that FB desires to enable Zynga to build the Zynga Platform on top of the Facebook Platform, and the parties desire to, amongst other goals set forth herein, work together to increase the number of users of each party’s products and services.

The parties further acknowledge that Zynga is making a significant commitment to the Facebook Platform (i.e., using Facebook as the exclusive Social Platform on the Zynga Properties and granting FB certain title exclusivities to Zynga games on the Facebook Platform). In exchange for such commitment, the parties have committed to set certain growth targets for monthly unique users of Covered Zynga Games.

In essence, what this agreement says is that in exchange for building atop Facebook’s platform, Zynga got Facebook’s assurance that it would meet certain growth targets.

Those growth targets are based on a linear weekly growth rate for web and mobile. In exchange for meeting these targets, Zynga promised exclusivity of its titles on the Facebook Platform and promised exclusive mobile integration.

There are more documents in the new filing that also look interesting and we’ll be following the wider story as it develops.

More About: Facebook, ipo, social games, Zynga

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Pinterest Partner: Yes, They’re Making Money from Pins

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 03:20 PM PST

Pinterest

News that popular social bookmarking site Pinterest might be generating revenue by adjusting and tracking the links attached to user-generated pins made the rounds online on Wednesday — but according to the site’s affiliate tracking partner, the concept is hardly a new one.

A report by social media blog LLSocial brought attention to the fact that Pinterest — which allows users to collect and share things they like on the Internet — is using a service called Skimlinks to add affiliate links to products.

“Is Pinterest receiving revenue from tracking user-generated pins? Yes, but there is nothing negative about it,” Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro told Mashable. “Affiliated networks help companies monetize their sites and there’s nothing illegal or wrong about it. It’s common, effective and smart. It should be celebrated.”

It’s so common, in fact, that about 18,000 retailers are working with a network of 26 affiliated partners, Navarro said. Publishers from small blogs to bigger companies such as Pinterest work with affiliated partners so when a link directs a visitor to a retailer involved in the affiliated network and makes a purchase, the merchant will pay the affiliated network, who will then pay the publisher. Skimlinks takes about 25% of the generated affiliated revenue.

SEE ALSO: 7 Pinterest Clones: Can You Tell the Difference?

“The advertiser or retailer pays only if the user makes a purchase,” Navarro said. “Pinterest is one of many companies using services like this, and it’s become an ubiquitous practice in online marketing, like investing in banner ads or texting programs.”

However, the cause of concern by some was that Pinterest doesn’t disclose that it modifies its links by adding a tracking code on the site.

"As most bloggers are aware, when you use an affiliate link in your post, you need to provide some type of disclosure either by it clearly being an ad, mentioning it is an affiliate link or at a minimum providing some type of prominent disclosure that your site features affiliate links," LLSocial said. "This is done because you have a financial interest in promoting the product."

Although Navarro said the company endorses disclosure, it’s up to the publisher: “I’m sure many publishers and media outlets don’t go out of their way to make it known to users about who their advertising partners are,” Navarro said.

For more information on affiliated networks and how Pinterest is using the service, visit Navarro’s latest blog post on Skimlinks here.

Do you think Pinterest should make it more clear that it’s adding tracking code to user’s pins? Or do you think it doesn’t matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


BONUS: A Pinterest Timeline


March 2010: Pinterest Launched




Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.

Click here to view this gallery.


Check Out More of Mashable’s Coverage of Pinterest

More About: Advertising, online advertising, pinterest, Social Media, trending

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Cloud Technology Lets Doctors View Internal Organs on an iPad [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 02:28 PM PST

Doctors can now save lives and office space with the latest cloud-based technology that will let them view live medical endoscope scans (medical images of internal organs) on their Apple iPads.

Current endoscopic images are generally viewed on bulky video monitors plugged into the wall. The new wireless endoscopy tools created by Envisioner called Endosync will mobilize doctors and maybe help them better diagnose illnesses in patients.

Here’s how it works: A wireless endoscopy transmitter hooks up to a traditional endoscopic camera that goes inside a person’s body. It transfers live video footage of internal organs through an encrypted Wi-Fi network to an iPad app called eGoPad. Doctors can view the footage live on their iPads and make audio notes.

SEE ALSO: 5 Useful iPad Apps for Doctors, Patients and Med Students

The technology is in its final stages of development and should be released in March.

What do you think of Endosync’s innovative medical technologies? Tells us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Envisionier Medical Technologies, Inc.

More About: camera, ipad, ipad app, ipad streaming, medical, Video

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NBA’s Perkins Calls Out LeBron James for Dunk Tweet

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 01:57 PM PST


Oh, drama! Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins is not pleased with LeBron James’ reaction on Twitter to Perkins’ victimization by what many have called the “dunk of the year.

Perkins was on the receiving end of an especially savage slam by Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin last week. Griffin took a pass on the left side of the court and leapt from just inside the lane. He absorbed a body blow from Perkins, then rose higher in the air and threw the ball through the rim from a nearly impossible distance.

The moment was immediately immortalized on YouTube, where it went viral. Twitter exploded, too. Both Perkins’ and Griffin’s names trended on the network, and players from around the league tweeted astonished reactions.

But Perkins thinks that LeBron, as one of the league’s signature stars, was out of line when he joined the chorus with this tweet saying that his own incredible dunk from the night before had been topped by Griffin:

"You don't see Kobe tweeting," Perkins told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday night. "You don't see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you're an elite player, plays like that don't excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play.

"They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel [James] is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him,” Perkins said.

Perkins won a championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics, while LeBron — fairly or not — has been widely maligned for his inability to bring home the trophy even once in his eight-year NBA career. Perkins is regarded as one of the league’s toughest interior defenders and an ideal role player at center.

Following the massive dunk by Griffin, a rumor spread online that Perkins had quit Twitter as a result of the attention and mockery. Perkins joined in December, but his account, @perk5yunghawg, no longer exists. It’s unclear, however, if he deleted the account following Griffin’s dunk or prior to the very public humiliation.

Do you think LeBron was out of pocket for his Perkins tweet? Do you think Perkins was wrong for calling him out? Let us know in the comments.

More About: NBA, Social Media, sports, Twitter

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Online Dating? You Might as Well Look for Love in a Bar [STUDY]

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 01:47 PM PST

Online dating sites frequently trumpet their ability to corral the most compatible fish in your sea through sophisticated algorithms. But a psychological study released this week says that you may be better off doing it the old-fashioned way and just meeting a stranger at a bar.

A team commissioned by the Association of Psychological Science says that the algorithms employed by sites such as eHarmony, Match.com and OKCupid don’t do much much to determine whether sparks will fly when they compare people’s interests and personalities, according to a recent Reuters interview with report author Eli Finkel.

“There’s no better way to figure out whether you’re compatible with somebody than talking to them over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer,” said Finkel, an associate professor at Northwestern University.

Finkel and his team found that the massive databases of potential matches don’t reveal enough about the people behind the profiles. And the sheer volume of options can overwhelm users to the point of “shutting down” and making poor decisions because of too many choices, according to Finkel, who compared the situation to shoppers at an overstocked supermarket.

“Eighty years of relationship science has reliably shown you can’t predict whether a relationship succeeds based on information about people who are unaware of each other,” Finkel told Reuters.

The researchers did not have access to the algorithms themselves, but Finkel scoffed at the accuracy of websites’ studies of their own success.

“The assumption is that they work,” he said. “We reviewed the literature and feel safe to conclude they do not.”

Finkel and his team’s research will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

Do you think that online services have value in the dating game? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pearleye

More About: eHarmony, Match.com, okcupid, online dating, trending


Groupon Posts Loss, Stock Falls 12%

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 01:28 PM PST



In its first quarter as a public company, Groupon on Wednesday posted a loss of $.08 per share, which sent the company’s stock sliding in after-hours trading.

The consensus among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was that Groupon was going to post a profit of 3 cents a share on revenues of $473 million. Groupon beat the latter figure with sales of $506.5 million, up 194% vs. the comparable period in 2010.

For the full year 2011, Groupon’s revenues jumped 419% to $1.6 billion vs. $312.9 million in 2010. In other positive news, the company’s worldwide customer base grew to 33 million-plus, an increase of 275% for the year and more than 20% quarter over quarter. Active customers are defined as having purchased a Groupon in the previous 12 months.

Despite those upbeat numbers, investors focused on the loss. In a release announcing the results, Groupon didn’t outline the reason for the loss. However, Groupon has in the past promised investors that it would lower marketing costs, which may be depressing profits. The company plans to discuss the results in further detail in a call with analysts this afternoon.

Groupon’s earnings come after the company’s valuation swelled to $18 billion after it went public on Nov. 4. The stock crashed later that month, falling below $17 — $3 less than its IPO price. Since then, the stock has recovered, topping $25 on Wednesday ahead of the announcement.

Investors have generally been lukewarm on Groupon, contending that the stock is at the high end of pricing after the recent rally. Wells Fargo Securities, however, is bullish on Groupon and pointed out in a recent note to clients that 170 daily deals competitors shut down in 2011 and Groupon’s closest rival, LivingSocial, is one-sixth its size.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, cruphoto

More About: earnings, groupon, IPOs

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Path Apologizes, Deletes All Address Book Data

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 01:24 PM PST

path-apology-600

Dave Morin, the CEO of beleaguered social network Path, posted an apology today addressing the recent controversy over how the app accesses information on a user’s phone. Saying the the company made a mistake, Morin promises Path has purged all address-book data from its servers.

In the blog post, titled simply “We are sorry,” Morin says Path values its users’ trust more than anything, which is why the company opted to delete the “entire collection” of user-uploaded contact information. (The full text is below.)

“We made a mistake,” Morin writes. “Through the feedback we've received from all of you, we now understand that the way we had designed our 'Add Friends' feature was wrong. We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.”

In the apology, Morin reiterated that Path takes the storage and transmission of personal information “very, very seriously” and said the data was used only as a friend-suggestion tool and to notify users when contacts joined the network. Morin says the information was always encrypted during transmission and stored on Path’s servers using “industry standard firewall technology.”

SEE ALSO: Photo-Sharing Network Path Gets Organized With Stacks

In an update to the iOS app, which is now available on the App Store, Path version 2.0.6 will prompt users to opt in or out of sharing their phones’ contacts with the app. As before, if users change their minds, they can email Path’s customer service department and the company promises to delete the information from its servers.

After downloading the update, the app will prompt you to let it access your address-book data with the following screen:

path-opt-in-640

The whole controversy mirrors similar privacy issues that arose around Facebook, specifically the gathering of user information and how the social network shares that data with third parties such as advertisers. Those issues eventually led to an FTC investigation of Facebook, which ended with a settlement last year in which the company submitted itself to regular privacy audits.

Has Path done enough to put this controversy to rest? Let us know what you think of the company’s apology and remedy in the comments.

Here’s the full text of Path’s apology:


We are sorry.

We made a mistake. Over the last couple of days users brought to light an issue concerning how we handle your personal information on Path, specifically the transmission and storage of your phone contacts.

As our mission is to build the world's first personal network, a trusted place for you to journal and share life with close friends and family, we take the storage and transmission of your personal information very, very seriously.

Through the feedback we've received from all of you, we now understand that the way we had designed our 'Add Friends' feature was wrong. We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.

In the interest of complete transparency we want to clarify that the use of this information is limited to improving the quality of friend suggestions when you use the 'Add Friends' feature and to notify you when one of your contacts joins Path––nothing else. We always transmit this and any other information you share on Path to our servers over an encrypted connection. It is also stored securely on our servers using industry standard firewall technology.

We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we've deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

In Path 2.0.6, released to the App Store today, you are prompted to opt in or out of sharing your phone's contacts with our servers in order to find your friends and family on Path. If you accept and later decide you would like to revoke this access, please send an email to service@path.com and we will promptly see to it that your contact information is removed.

We care deeply about your privacy and about creating a trusted place for you to share life with your close friends and family. As we continue to expand and grow we will make some mistakes along the way. We commit to you that we will continue to be transparent and always serve you, our users, first.

We hope this update clears up any confusion. You can find Path 2.0.6 in the App Store here.

Sincerely,

Dave Morin
Co-Founder and CEO

More About: Path, privacy, Social Media, trending


Windows 8 Consumer Preview Event Set for Feb. 29

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 01:01 PM PST

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Invite

Microsoft chose a special day — Leap Day — for its special event: the official unveiling of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The Redmond software giant began seeding invites for its exclusive event in Barcelona, Spain, where the Mobile World Congress trade show is also being held.

There were virtually no details beyond the invite, but it’s expected Microsoft will open Windows 8 downloads to consumers who will be able to install and preview the new OS on current hardware. Typically, these previews cease to function sometime after the final operating system ships, which will likely be this fall. The Consumer Preview should also represent the first major update since Microsoft delivered the Developer’s Preview at its Build conference in September of last year. Response to this anticipated update should be big: millions downloaded the Developers Preview last fall.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8: Can Two Interfaces Survive Side-by-Side? [OPINION]

Mashable has been running that first preview for months and reading the steady stream of posts from the Windows 8 team on its Building Windows 8 Blog, which outlined how Windows 8 will handle everything from memory- and power management to virtualization, password protection and sign-in. With its cubist, Metro-style interface, Windows 8 represents one of the most fundamental changes in the platform’s 27-year history. Microsoft sold 450 million copies of Windows 7, so there is a vast, built-in audience for Windows 8. Still, the company reported in a recent earnings call that PC sales were flat (mostly because of declining netbooks sales). Clearly, Microsoft wants to get consumers excited about the next version of Windows and help reignite Windows sales across desktops, laptops and, now, tablets (the category that ate the netbook’s lunch).

The event is scheduled to last two hours, which means we should get a complete rundown of all the differences between the Developer and Consumer builds, the ecosystem Microsoft wants to build around the Metro interface platform and, finally, see some new hardware running Windows 8. We have, of course, briefly seen a laptop or two, like Lenovo’s Yoga, running Windows 8, but we’re still waiting for the anticipated parade of ARM-based Windows 8 tablets.

Mashable will be reporting from the event later this month.


Bonus: A Closer Look at Windows 8



Windows 8 Devices




Microsoft demonstrated a lot of Windows 8 devices, including tablet devices, at its Build conference in Anaheim, CA.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: desktops, laptops, microsoft, Mobile World Congress, tablets, trending, Windows 8


New Google Project Asks Internet Users to Forgo Privacy While Surfing the Web

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 12:53 PM PST

A new project from Google is trying to learn “how everyday people use the Internet” — by looking over their shoulders while surfing the web.

The project, called Screenwise, is accepting volunteers to install a browser extension that will share browsing information with Google. “What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone,” Google says on the Screenwise site.

Volunteers earn a $5 Amazon gift card just for signing up and can earn up to $25. Google requires volunteers be at least 13 years old, have a Google account and be willing to use Chrome.

Google told Search Engine Land:

"Like many other web and media companies, we do panel research to help better serve our users by learning more about people's media use, on the web and elsewhere. This panel is one such small project that started near the beginning of the year. Of course, this is completely optional to join. People can choose to participate if it's of interest (or if the gift appeals) and everyone who does participate has complete transparency and control over what Internet use is being included in the panel. People can stay on the panel as long as they'd like, or leave at any time."

Check out the video above to learn more. Would you be willing to let Google watch how you use the web? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, alija

More About: Google, mashable video


Mashable Connect 2012: Get Tickets to Mashable’s Biggest Conference of the Year

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 12:30 PM PST


Mashable is excited to announce that Mashable Connect 2012 will take place May 3-5 in Orlando, FL. Registration is now open!

Mashable Connect is Mashable's annual destination conference that brings our community together for three days away to connect (offline!) in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, this is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries.

At Mashable Connect you'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

Building on the success of last year’s Mashable Connect, this year’s conference will introduce new ideas on stage and even more opportunities to connect in meaningful ways.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available. You won't want to miss the opportunity to be a part of this year’s conference, so get your ticket now!

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL  on Eventbrite

We’re excited to announce the initial line up of speakers below. Stay tuned for updates to the agenda!

Mashable Connect tickets include hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments, special events in the Disney Parks, exclusive networking opportunities and much more.

Confirmed speakers:

GigaOm Acquires PaidContent to Create ‘Powerhouse’

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 12:12 PM PST


Tech blog GigaOm announced Wednesday it has acquired paidContent‘s parent company ContentNext.

GigaOm founder Om Malik cited location and staff as reasons for the acquisition.

ContentNext — which owns MocoNews, paidContent:UK and ContentSutra, in addition to paidContent — has offices in New York and Europe.

Staci Kramer will remain the editor of paidContent. The site’s executive editor, Ernie Sander, will become executive editor of Giga Omni Media, and the majority of ContentNext’s staff will remain with the sites — bringing the combined GigaOm editorial staff to a total of about 20.

“The combined group will be a powerhouse,” Kramer and Sander wrote in a post on paidContent that announced the acquisition.

GigaOm is purchasing ContentNext from Guardian News & Media, which acquired ContentNext in 2008 and will take a minority stake in GigaOm.

Though the 6-year-old GigaOm has 4.5 million monthly unique visitors and is building out a premium subscription model, it was expected to turn a profit for the first time in 2011.

It has accepted $15 million in funding to date.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, photographeer

Disclosure: paidContent is a publishing partner with Mashable

More About: gigaom, paidContent

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Hands On With Google Chrome for Android

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 11:54 AM PST


Chrome for Android





YouTube and Google Maps are both integrated into the new Chrome for Android.

Click here to view this gallery.

Google announced its signature Chrome browser would start to roll out to Android phones on Tuesday. If you’re one of the lucky ones running Ice Cream Sandwich, also known as Android 4.0, you’ll be able to download Chrome on the Android Store.

As you can see from the above gallery of screenshots taken from both Google and our experience running Chrome on a Galaxy Nexus, tabbed browsing is a big highlight of Chrome for Android. It also boasts the ability to have simple private browsing sessions.

Most importantly, Chrome for Android blends in with other Google services seamlessly, such as Google Maps and YouTube. It was easy for us to import tabs from our computer browsers as well.

Have you downloaded Google Chrome on your Android yet? Tell us what you think in the comments.

More About: android, features, google chrome, ice cream sandwich, mobile browsing


PlayStation Vita: Your Price (and Games) May Vary

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 11:41 AM PST


With Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld console set for release in the United Kingdom and North America later this month, the picture of what we can expect is becoming clearer.

The Vita will start at $249 in the United States for the wireless-only model, and $299 for the 3G version, according to the PlayStation website. But Vodafone, the Vita’s exclusive 3G carrier in the UK, recently announced that 3G version will sell for £279 there, or about $440. The wireless-only version will go for £218.99, according to multiple reports, or about $350.

Gaming blog Kotaku, meanwhile, reported on Tuesday that North American Vita users will not be able to take advantage of Sony’s UMD Passport program, which allows gamers to transfer their PSP titles to the Vita.

When Sony released the Vita in Japan in December, buyers there were able to register their PSP disc games on their PlayStation Network accounts then download them to the Vita for a small fee. Vita users in North America will still be able to play the PSP games that they bought digitally rather than in disc form.

Sony announced a firmware update for Vita owners in Japan this week, although it’s unclear whether or not the upgrades will be immediately available for buyers in North America and the U.K.

The update will add a new maps feature to the console and introduce video recording to the device, which was previously only able to take still photos.

When the Vita made its worldwide launch in Japan in December, Sony sold more than a quarter-million units in its first two days on the market. That failed to match the debut numbers of the relatively similar Nintendo DS several months prior though, and analysts considered it to be a middling debut for the Vita.

Mashable got a hands-on preview of the Vita in December, and came away impressed by its intuitive touch interface, augmented reality capabilities and excellent graphics. But the console didn’t appear to be a must-buy for casual gamers, as mobile gaming on smartphones has progressed rapidly in the past couple years and in-home consoles still provide a superior experience overall.

For serious gamers, the Vita did seem like a potentially great purchase. Are you planning to buy a PlayStation Vita? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Gaming, PS Vita

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10 Classy Speakers to Match Your White iPhone

Posted: 08 Feb 2012 11:27 AM PST


1. Philips Fidelio




The Fidelio is designed to look good even when there's nothing docked. When there is, you can enjoy digitally processed sound at optimal acoustic volume.

A proximity sensor activates the backlit control panel, while the free Philips DockStudio app promises to help you get more out of your listening experience.

Cost:: $199.99

Click here to view this gallery.

If you opted for a white iPhone, you’re not going to want to compromise those cool, classic Apple looks by sticking it in a generic black speaker dock.

We have found 10 speaker solutions — docks, speakers and clocks — that come in a ice-white finish to match your favorite handset.

Take a look through the gallery for our choices. Let us know in the comments about any other white accessories you’ve found to match your iPhone.

More About: apple, features, Gadgets, iphone, iphone accessories, speakers, Tech, trending



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