Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: 8-Inch iPad Rumors, Angry Birds Now on Facebook”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: 8-Inch iPad Rumors, Angry Birds Now on Facebook”

Today’s Top Stories: 8-Inch iPad Rumors, Angry Birds Now on Facebook

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 05:07 AM PST

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

New Rumors Claim an 8-Inch iPad Is in the Works

Apple is working on a smaller, 8-inch version of the iPad, the Wall Street Journal reports citing a source familiar with the matter. This new iPad would help Apple compete with Android tablet manufacturers, which have embraced a variety of tablet form factors, from 5 to 11 inches. The new version of the “standard” iPad will have a similarly sized screen as iPad 1 and 2, but with a much higher resolution, the WSJ reports.

Angry Birds Now Available on Facebook

Ahead of the official launch later today in Jakarta, Rovio has made its multi-platform game Angry Birds available as a Facebook app. The app is very similar to the mobile version of the game which made it one of the most popular mobile titles of all time, with over 700 million downloads so far.

Facebook App for Windows Phone Gets a Redesign

Facebook for Windows Phone has been updated to version 2.3, bringing several new features and many improvements. Highlights include news feed performance improvements, new panorama design, new profile design, improved navigation, support for feed filters, pages and groups, the ability to view likes, posting privacy and many bug fixes.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: angry birds, Facebook, first to know series, ipad, windows phone

For more Tech coverage:

Community Managers Share The Best Apps and Tools For Productivity

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 04:25 AM PST

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

In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day on Jan. 23, we asked several leaders in community management about the apps and tools they swear by for their social media management.

Whether it’s filtering through mass amounts of content, managing a project or professionally presenting a company, community managers provide and mediate communications both inside and outside of the business. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources small businesses can utilize for better productivity.

Are there other tools or tricks you use to manage a community? Let us know your favorites in the comments.


“As a community manager, I find myself in need of a good way to create forms fairly often. Whether it’s sending our annual survey to our entire member base, sending targeted questionnaires or just collecting emails addresses for a certain set of people, Wufoo is a great solution. What it has that Google Forms doesn’t [is that] depending on how someone answers a certain question, you can determine what questions come next.”
– Sarah Rapp, community manager at Behance

“Shared docs, email and internal microblogging are great work, but combine all these and more to get the social work platform, Podio. Their apps market allows for wide range of project management and collaboration methods. They have an easy drag-and-drop interface for customization along with a slick mobile app. I think they are still free for up to 10 users. The biggest problem with Podio is transitioning users to a new platform.”
– Mike Fraietta, enterprise community manager at News Corp.

“I use TweetDeck for one reason only — it allows me to schedule my tweets for later. Also, [the ability to manage] multiple accounts is pretty handy. But the post later function allows me to do my social media gathering mostly in the morning and focus on other work later. Other than that, I keep a large folder of RSS feeds that I go through every morning looking for interesting things to share with the world.”
– Asa Alger, community manager and interactive designer at Luxurious Animals


“One app I love is Simply Measured. With so much data flying around in social media these days, it’s crucial for us as CMs to help our clients by cutting through all the noise and delivering quantifiable results that lead to qualitative change. This approach is helping brands we represent better relate to their fans and creating new opportunities by making real-world connections. It’s a great example of using online technologies to deliver offline results. We’re also using this data to identify influencers in real-time and monitor specific conversations that are happening around a particular event or brand. A few clients that we’ve been successfully executing this for include Warby Parker, Delta and Evian.”
– Dave Brown, director of digital strategy at MKG, co-organizer of CMMeetup

Sysomos allows me to measure the social buzz around my brand and its competitors. I monitor the conversations around keywords for each brand, and I am able to tell when there is jump in the amount of buzz around a specific brand. By looking at Text Analytics and Top Influencers provided by Sysomos, I am able to analyze why there is a spike in conversation. This allows our team to keep our clients informed about what conversations are happening around their brand and their competitors.”
– Christina Dick, community manager at The Martin Agency

“We’ve all explored the new Facebook Insights, but what’s fantastic about this iteration for community managers it to see how and why your content is spreading. It’s important to know — are we getting a lot of traffic from Facebook from what we’re posting to Facebook, or because users are posting it on their own? That can be found in the Organic vs. Viral graph in ‘Reach.’ This is valuable information to help inform your Facebook strategy.”
– Sarah Rapp, community manager at Behance


Screenr is a free way to record your screen for tutorials, demonstrations and to answer customer issues. The most important reason to produce and save screen recordings is for scalable learning, FAQs and detailed responses to your users. The drawback for Screenr is that it is only five minutes and has limited editing ability. For professional screen recordings, try ScreenFlow for Mac, Camtasia for PC and Screenr Pro.”
– Mike Fraietta, enterprise community manager at News Corp.

“Most community managers have some responsibility in customer service, and ZenDesk is a great solution to handle the influx of customer service inquiries. If your entire community is submitting tickets to one place, in the same format, you can quickly and easily assign these out to different members of your team or have non-visible conversations about a customer’s issue with another member of your team. It’s really customizable, so you can determine what fields people have to fill out, create reports, etc. Overall, it’s a really robust solution, and it makes customer service organized and efficient.”
– Sarah Rapp, community manager at Behance

“Not all of the ‘tools’ in my toolbox are in the form of an app or program. One idea that has served me well as the community manager for Fast Company is to never stop being the customer. It’s not a “tool” in the traditional sense, but I would consider insights like this to be of equal or greater importance in helping you do this job well. Tools come and go. But people matter most. If you can remember to stay focused on people, you’ll never lose your way.”
– Sheena Medina, community manager at Fast Company

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips
- Social Learning Trends to Watch in 2012
- Is it Finally Time to Ditch Your Paper Business Card?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, romakoshel

More About: apps, community management, features, mashable, online tools, open forum, productivity, Social Media

12 Adorable Google Doodles for Valentine’s Day

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 02:47 AM PST


Google's first ever Doodle for Valentine's was a cutesy cartoon cupid.

Click here to view this gallery.

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. And one thing we definitely adore about the holiday is Google‘s love-themed Doodles.

The first V-Day-inspired Google Doodle appeared in 2000, and we’ve seen classic designs ever since. We’ve taken a look back at all the love-themed logos Google has shared over the last 12 years.

SEE ALSO: 10 Valentine’s Day Cards for Your Special Tech Geek

Take a look through our gallery. Let us know in the comments if you prefer this year’s video design over the still images from years gone by.

More About: features, gallery, Google, google doodles, Holiday, logos, valentine's day

For more Dev & Design coverage:

You Can Now Play Angry Birds on Facebook

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 12:55 AM PST

Popular multi-platform game Angry Birds is now available on Facebook, hours ahead of the official launch in Jakarta at 12AM EST.

The Facebook app, as you might imagine, features the same disgruntled avians and addictive gameplay you’ve seen in mobile and desktop version of the game.

It will also feature added social components, brand new power-ups, and Facebook-exclusive levels.

Angry Games has been downloaded over 700 million times since its release for Apple’s iOS in December 2009, and with Facebook’s 800 million users, it’s bound to hit one billion soon.

Thanks to the success of the Angry Birds, game maker Rovio emerged as a gaming powerhouse, and it’s looking to go public as soon as 2012. Right now, the company is worth more than $1 billion, according to CMO Peter Vesterbacka.

Check out the trailer for the Facebook version of the game below, and try out the game here.

More About: angry birds, Facebook, game, trending

Valentine’s Day Google Doodle Depicts All Forms of Love [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 11:08 PM PST

Cupid’s big day is upon us again, and Google is celebrating the Feb. 14 holiday with an animated Doodle that demonstrates the limitations of the company’s search engine when romance is thrown into the mix.

The 71-second Valentine’s Day animation on Google‘s homepage tells the story of a boy’s attempt to swoon his crush. He initially turns to Google Search for tips, but everything it suggests doesn’t work. We won’t spoil the rest, so watch the clip above to find out what happens next.

Near the end, the animation pieces together a collage showing all types of love, including what appears to be a same-sex couple, which many Twitter users have already noted in their tweets.

Tony Bennett’s “Cold, Cold Heart” accompanies the animation.

SEE ALSO: 10 Clever Marriage Proposals Using Social Media, Tech, Games and Memes

Google’s first Valentine’s Day Doodle went live in 2000. Check out all of them since then in the gallery below, or learn more about how Google Doodles are created here.

What do you think of Google’s latest Valentine’s Day Doodle? Sound off in the comments.

On a fun sidenote: If you type a certain algebraic equation into Google search, you’ll get a special surprise.


Pop artist Robert Indiana is the inspiration behind this year's Doodle, with the search engine's logo emulating Indiana's iconic "love" sculpture.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, google doodle, trending, valentine's day

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Social Media Helps Grammys Achieve Huge Ratings in Broadcast and Social TV

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 08:40 PM PST

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards was a huge hit across social, digital and broadcast platforms.

Excitement for the return of Adele, as well as the tribute to the late Whitney Houston kept viewers engaged online and off.

CBS reported that 39.9 million viewers tuned in to Sunday’s award show, the second-largest Grammy audience ever and the best ratings since 1984.

New Social TV Records

Of course, broadcast is only part of the story. This year’s Grammy Awards were a hugely social and digital affair. Even with the tape delay (which prevented a real-time social conversation from taking place on the east and west coasts), the Grammys still broke new social TV records.

According to Bluefin Labs, the Grammys earned 13 million social comments. That breaks the record from last week’s Super Bowl and absolutely dwarfs every other entertainment event from the last year.

The most-talked about moments included Adele’s performance of “Rollin in the Deep” and her win for Album of the Year, Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to Whitney Houston and Chris Brown’s performance.

The Success of the Second Screen

CBS.com and The Recording Academy worked hard to address the digital, social and mobile component of this year’s show. We profiled these initiatives, which included the Grammy Live second screen experience for iPad and iPhone.

Grammy Live was a huge success this year, bringing in 1 million unique viewers across the web, iPhone and iPad. To put that in perspective, 2.1 million viewers tuned into the Super Bowl live stream — and that was broadcasting the actual game, not an additional experience.

When we spoke with CBS Interactive SVP Marc DeBevoise earlier this afternoon, he was extremely happy with the numbers. DeBevoise didn’t want to draw a direct correlation between an increased focus on social media, digital and social TV and the mammoth broadcast ratings but we think the figures speak for themselves.

As those of us in Mashable’s Grammy Live Blog can attest, social media is the new watercooler. CBS.com and the Recording Academy did a fantastic job reaching out to various social channels, including Twitter and Facebook.

Social Media Sentiment

Social media monitoring company NetBase ran sentiment analysis on the Twitter chatter surrounding the show. NetBase grabbed the net sentiment for trending topics and major terms from Feb. 11 – Feb. 13 and plotted out the changes in sentiment and overall chatter.

While the Grammys themselves received the most mentions, Adele was the most mentioned celebrity. Although LLCoolJ was the least mentioned celebrity in terms of mentions, he had the highest overall sentiment. Unsurprisingly, Adele saw the biggest spike in chatter between Feb. 11 and 13.

When it comes to negative sentiment, Twitter users loved hating on Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. Twitter sentiment regarding Minaj essentially flip-flopped between Friday and Sunday and she has the distinction of having the most negative overall chatter.

Chris Brown’s performance elicited negative reactions from Twitter, as evidenced by various trending topics on Twitter.

As for the Grammys special tribute to Whitney Houston, 73% of the sentiment was positive or neutral and 26% was negative.

NetBase tells us that many of the “negative” responses are actually representative of sadness, not hate or dislike. Further more, in relation to the Grammy tribute, most negative remarks were because fans thought the tribute was too short or not as big as it should have been.

Did you watch the Grammys this year? What role did social media and social TV play in your experience? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Bluefin Labs, grammys, NetBase, second screen, social tv

For more Entertainment coverage:

Dashboard for Online Publishers Predicts Trending Content

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 07:54 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.

Stack of newspapers
Name: Parse.ly Dash

Quick Pitch: Parse.ly Dash puts online publishers in the driver’s seat by showing them how their content is reaching readers and being shared.

Genius Idea: Looking into the future of online trends by analyzing billions of page views across millions of URLs, pointing publishers to what will trend on the Internet.

Pop your website’s content into Parse.ly Dash and what will come out the other side is a magical analytics report telling you what to write next.

Parse.ly is a New York-based startup created in 2009. Dash, their flagship product, was launched in January to the open arms of the web’s biggest publishers, including The Atlantic, Apartment Therapy and U.S. News & World Report.

Dash has now processed 4 billion page views to date — about 700 million per month.

As content moves to the web, Dash creators say there is a need for big publishers to know specifics about the content produced. While basic one-size-fits-all analytics tools only consider page views, Dash looks within the text. It scours the Internet to show publishers what is happening across the web — the top searches, trending keywords and best topics to write about next.

“It shows how users are resonating with different articles,” Sachin Kadmar, the CEO and co-founder of Parse.ly told Mashable.

“A lot of the data only becomes valuable when you can wrap your head around it,”Kadmar said. “When a publisher is getting 100,000 views a day, hundreds of people contributing and pushing thousands of articles a week, Dash becomes an important tool.”

The tool delivers real-time results that look at pageviews and tell publishers who their best author is, why one section is doing better than another and what topics are driving the most traffic to your site. Editors can filter results by topics, ranking, authors and see web-wide trends.

Dash also shows how traffic to each post has changed over a couple hours — where it reached it’s peak, where it’s being promoted and more.

The company, which has eight full-time employees, has built Dash to be a completely customizable experience. Dash presents everything neatly packaged on an beautiful interface. We had no trouble maneuvering around the website.

SEE ALSO: Content vs. Community: How Online Publishers Can Nurture Both

Current pricing plans go from $499 a month and up depending on number of users, new posts published and features. There is a 30-day free trial available.

“We are really in the game to empower publishers and digital media,” Kadmar said. “We try to tie [pricing] directly with how publishers are doing.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Hawk.

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, Business, internet, Media, Social Media, social networking, trending

Hotmail Top Spam-Stopping Email, Hotmail-Commissioned Study Says [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 06:47 PM PST

Hotmail is the top spam-stopping major email service, says a study commissioned by Hotmail.

According to findings released on Monday by Cascade Insights, Hotmail ranked ahead of Gmail by a hair in spam percentage. Hotmail inboxes used in the study were 48.57% spam, while Gmail inboxes were 48.88% spam. Yahoo Mail inboxes were more than 58% spam.

If those numbers seems high, it’s because they don’t reflect the average spam percentage of a typical email inbox. But the numbers do reflect what Cascade Insights found to be each service’s spam-deflecting capability.

Cascade conducted its study by opening email accounts with Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo. The research and analysis company used the same username with each. Then, to attract spam messages, it posted the addresses on dating and debt-help sites, as well as public blogs and Facebook pages.

The non-spam email in the case-study inboxes was comprised of newsletters and other announcements that didn’t fall into the junk category.

Hotmail has endured a negative reputation in recent years for users having spam-infested inboxes, while Google‘s Gmail service has gained in user base and reputation. In 2006, the average Hotmail inbox was nearly one-third spam, according to The New York Times.

An identical study by Cascade Insights in 2009 had Gmail as the best anti-spam email service, and Hotmail second.

Predictably, Microsoft (Hotmail’s parent company) has not been shy about trumpeting the results of the latest study on its corporate blog.

“Hotmail has come a long way in spam protection and is now among the best in the industry in keeping spam out of your inbox,” writes Hotmail’s group program manager Dick Craddock. “Our own internal metrics, customer feedback, and even a recent third-party report confirms that no mail service offers better protection than Hotmail.”

You can check out the entire Cascade Insights report here.

Do you think this is a credible study? What email to you use? How do you feel about its spam-fighting abilities? Let us know in the comments.

More About: gmail, Google, hotmail, microsoft

‘Baseball Boyfriend’ App Lets You ‘Date’ The Players

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 05:59 PM PST

If you’ve ever been interested in participating in fantasy sports but also wanted to combine a teenage-like element of crushing on professional athlete, Baseball Boyfriend is just the app for you.

For $2.99 you can create your own “BBBF” (that’s Baseball Boyfriend) through CBS Sports, then follow his stats or dump him when his team does poorly. Anyone who has a CBS Sports fantasy sports account can access Baseball Boyfriend.

The app has received a lot of online criticism since it launched about one week ago. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article titled, “A fantasy baseball game for girls who happen to live in the 1950s.” Schulman said he first thought news of the app was a joke put out by the Onion. A post on NBC Sports said, “Women do not need to be treated like love-struck teenagers to be drawn in.”

Here’s the description from CBSSports.com: “Baseball Boyfriend is a single draftee, fantasy sports, mini game for those who love baseball. Pick your boyfriend for the season or a day. BBBFs earn you points daily. Player with the most points at the end wins.”

With Baseball Boyfriend you can have one boyfriend per league and participate in up to three leageus. The number of boyfriends you go through per season is up to you; choose a new boyfriend each day or stick with one the entire season. You can choose from the “clean” design that just features players’ photos, or the “a pirate” design so the players look more reminiscent of Captain Jack Sparrow. The original design also features red hearts around the players’ pics — just like you’d draw in a notebook if you were 10 years old.

Baseball Boyfriend was created by husband and wife team Frank and Missy Panko. Frank told Mashable his wife Missy created Baseball Boyfriend and he developed the web app.

“The game itself started three or four years ago, jokingly between nine-to-12 women,” Panko says. “Last season we turned it into a website so everyone could keep up with their favorite players through the season. It also gave us the opportunity to come up with the algorithms that level the playing field between pitchers and batters.”

Panko says the initial goal with the first version of the app was simply to make tracking “baseball boyfriends” easier for his wife and her friends.

“We wanted something fun for us, we weren’t trying to get rich or target a new market,” he said. “Making it an app through CBS Sports simply made it possible for me to automate stats so we wouldn’t have to plug them in by hand every day. At the same time, we didn’t see the need to keep this all to ourselves. It’s something we’ve enjoyed for years, we thought others might enjoy it as well. So we opened it up to everyone.”

Panko does admit, though, they hope the success of this app will bring attention to their main project, aviewfrommyseat.com. That app that lets fans share photos from their seats at sports games and view sports venues before buying tickets.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that CBS Sports opened its site to developers to create fantasy apps in an effort to tap into a lucrative market.

When the app launched the site went from 24 visitors to 10,000 in 24 hours, Panko says. At this time, he can’t give out any specific numbers for downloads but said fans have been asking if the app will be available for other sports, too. Panko says if BBBF turns out to be a success this season, they’ll likely release other versions.

“As far as I know, no players have commented on the app,” he says. “I don’t expect to ever hear from any of them, just know that they are admired in a myriad of ways.”

The Baseball Boyfriend season officially starts on March 28th. You can earn points through October 3rd, notes the site.

The app is not yet available on iOS or Android.

Mashable followed up with Panko to ask what he thought about all the criticism surrounding the app. We also emailed CBS Sports to get its takes on the controversy. We are waiting for a response.

This app isn’t the first time a sports news organization was linked to sexist behavior. Until just a few days ago, visitors to ESPN’s website could complain about a female announcer by selecting, “commentator — dislike female commentators.” Yes, this was actually an option on the site.

What do you think about Baseball Boyfriend? Is it just a fun way to add something new to the experience of watching America’s pastime or do you think it’s sexist? Tell us in the comments.

Photos courtesy of BaseballBoyfriend.com

More About: App, Baseball, sports

A Teenage Jeremy Lin Imitates NBA Players on His Xanga Blog [PICS]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 05:33 PM PST


"this is what a regular headband looks like on a sexy guy"

Click here to view this gallery.

As if Jeremy Lin’s status as an underdog everyman living out the dream of basketball fans the world over wasn’t already appealing enough. Now we can see photos he took of himself and posted to the social networking site Xanga as a young high schooler.

In the shots, Lin imitates the headband-wearing styles of a number of NBA players including Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers, whom he torched for 38 points on Friday in his true breakout performance. He reportedly captioned each shot with an explanation of which player he was impersonating and why, according to quotes from his account posted to multiple sites and blogs.

Lin’s purported Xanga profile, ChiNkBaLLa88, is currently viewable only by friends, but a number of photos from that account are still floating around Google Images and have popped up on Reddit and other sites and message boards.

At the time he was apparently posting these photos to Xanga, Lin was an un-recruited high school basketball player in Palo Alto, Calif. He then played four years at traditional basketball backwater Harvard University before going un-drafted out of college. He was cut by two NBA teams before catching on in New York.

Lin has rocketed to fame over the past week during his improbable ascent to NBA stardom, and the hysteria has been especially pronounced on social media.

As he’s strung together a series of stellar performances over the past several days “Jeremy Lin” and the hastag #Linsanity have trended regularly on Twitter. Fans use the #Linsanity hashtag to pay homage to his greatness, further burnish his legend, and add to an endless database of puns on his last name. The Chinese micro-blogging services Sina Weibo has been linundated by his fans as well. Multiple tribute raps have appeared on YouTube.

In true sign that Lin has taken over every corner of the Internet, the respected tech news website All Things D, which typically gives sports a wide berth, published a service piece on Friday titled, “Who Put Sports in My Twitter Again? The Jeremy Lin Explainer.”

Lin has truly arrived, but his goofy Xanga photos aren’t just a funny side-note. They show that pretty much anyone of the millennial generation who hits it big in the future can count on their tweets and Facebook photos — and even their posts to obscure social networks – coming back to embarrass them.

Lin surely never imagined as a teenager that nosy fans and reporters would ever have an interest in his high school Xanga profile. Today, however, some 225,000 people follow him on Twitter and more than 400,000 “Like” his Facebook Page.

What do you think the social networking age will bring for people who are young today but find fame in the coming years and decades?

Let us know in the comments, and check out the gallery above to see some of the photos and quotes that are popping up all over the Internet.

BONUS GALLERY: 10 Top #Linsanity Tweets

1. @SpikeLee

Spike Lee couldn't help talking some trash to Kobe Bryant after Lin torched the Lakers for 38 points on Friday night.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Jeremy Lin’s Facebook Page

More About: Facebook, Social Media, sports, trending, Twitter

How Jimmy Kimmel Earns Nearly $2 Million Annually via YouTube

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 05:14 PM PST

Nighttime talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel is the latest mainstream performer who’s found it possible to make a mint without solely relying on traditional broadcasting and promotional channels.

His solution? YouTube.

Kimmel’s channel, called JimmyKimmelLive, features clips and recaps — typically running under five minutes each — from every episode of the comedian’s popular late-night talkshow. Kimmel’s channel has more than 300,000 subscribers and many of the videos have acquired millions of views on top of his substantial broadcast television audience on ABC.

It is YouTube’s 98th-most-viewed partner channel of all-time, according to site information. YouTube’s partnership program invites creators of extremely popular videos to monetize their uploads via ad-hosting or rentals while splitting the income with YouTube.

For Kimmel, the double-dipping is paying off — his YouTube channel generates between $1 million and $2 million annually, “a person close to the show” tells The Wall Street Journal.

But Kimmel is not the only star entertainer who has found that bypassing traditional broadcast and advertising revenue streams isn’t just for viral-video maniacs who edit away in their mothers’ basements.

In December, the comedian Louis CK offered his most recent standup performance video for download from his website for just $5. He skipped the costs of distribution, marketing and advertising, and lowered the incentive for fans to illegally download the video for free. He hauled in $1 million in just 12 days.

Jimmy Kimmel and Louis CK have both managed to leverage the world-flattening power of the Internet to reach new fans and find new ways to reach old fans while still making a buck (or million). But you have to wonder whether their success — and the success of other performers who follow their paths — will undermine their ability to turn the huge profits still best-enabled by mass-market consumption.

As The Wall Street Journal asks: Can success on the web bite back?

Are these emerging means of distribution as awesome in the long term for the performers themselves as for their audiences? Or will there be negative financial consequences? Let us know in the comments.

More About: comedians, Video, YouTube

For more Social Media coverage:

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

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 04:40 PM PST

Not to give away the farm, but I bet you can guess what television event topped the charts in terms of social media chatter this week. Hint: According to Trendrr, the broadcast is the second highest social TV event on its records, after the Super Bowl, of course.

By golly, you guessed it. Sunday night’s Grammy Awards gained nearly 19 million social media activities over the past week. The event logged 17,122,439 social media mentions yesterday alone, superseded only by the Super Bowl’s 17,487,241. Compare the Grammys to 2011′s MTV Video Music Awards, which received only 5,567,954 social media mentions, and you’ll understand the growing influence of social TV.

According to Trendrr, the Grammys moment with the highest social media activity was Adele’s performance, which earned a standing ovation and deafening applause from the Staples Center crowd. Apparently, today’s social channels saw the equivalent.

Apart from the red carpet, viewers buzzed about the presidential election and cartoons galore (four different animated shows made the cut). D’oh!

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

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

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

For more Entertainment coverage:

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Note [PICS]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 04:21 PM PST


Samsung is excited to bring its Galaxy Note “superphone” to the U.S. It’s so excited that it’s giving Mashable a sneak peek of the phone before it becomes available to AT&T customers Feb. 19.

We took a few pictures when we unboxed the phone, and we couldn’t resist comparing the Note’s gigantic phone screen (5 inches!) to the most popular phone out there, the Apple iPhone. From a pure size perspective, it’s clearly a David-and-Goliath fight.

Besides the gargantuan screen, the Galaxy Note is, uh, notable for including a stylus, letting users do things such as write notes while running any app or draw their own directions on maps. The stylus hasn’t been entirely well received, with many criticizing it for being a throwback to the Palm Pilot days after Samsung ran a Super Bowl ad for the Note that prominently featured the “pen.”

SEE ALSO: Samsung Shipped 1 Million Galaxy Note Devices in Two Months

While there’s been some discussion of the Galaxy Note blurring the line between tablet and phone, it’s clearly the latter. It’s sold through AT&T ($299 with a two-year contract), and there is no Wi-Fi only version. It’s a phone, just one with an enormous screen.

We’ll have a review of the Galaxy Note up soon. But in the meantime, please browse our photos of the unboxing (sorry if any look upside-down — it’s a bug in our photo-editing software). And if it excites you enough already, you could always just pre-order it now.

Samsung Galaxy Note Box

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Galaxy Note, samsung, smartphones, unboxing

Journalist Arrested for Tweets Gets Deported to Saudi Arabia

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 04:04 PM PST

Hamza Kashgari, the twenty-three-year-old Saudi blogger whose controversial tweets about the Prophet Muhammed last weekend incited controversy among religious conservatives in the Middle East, has been returned to Saudi Arabia at the request of the Saudi government.

He was detained by authorities at Kuala Lumpr International Airport Thursday morning while attempting to catch a flight to seek asylum in New Zealand.

Malaysia has defended its actions despite protestations from international rights groups, which fear that Kashgari will face the death penalty for blasphemy in his home country.

“I will not allow Malaysia to be seen as a safe country for terrorists and those who are wanted by their countries of origin, and also be seen as a transit county,” Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement recorded by the AP. He added that fears Kashgari could be tortured and killed if he was returned are “ridiculous” because Saudi Arabia is a respectable country.

The Saudi government has not yet disclosed any details about where and in what context Kashgari is being held, nor whether he will face trial.

“The cold hard truth is that Malaysia has bent over backwards to please Saudi Arabia, breached international law by not allowing Hamza to seek asylum and instead handed him on a silver platter to his persecutors and condemned him to torture and near certain death,” international human rights group Lawyers of Liberty said in a statement posted on its website.

Kashgari, a former columnist for the Al Bilad newspaper and a blogger, sent a series of tweets commemorating the Prophet Muhammed’s birthday the weekend before last. "On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more," were among the tweets he sent.

Angry comments erupted on Twitter — more than 30,000 in under 24 hours, says Reuters — and a Facebook page titled “Saudi people want punishment for Hamza Kashgari” now has more than 20,000 members.

Kashgari deleted the tweets six hours later and issued a long apology. He left Saudi Arabia early last week, fearing for his safety after his address was posted on YouTube, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with Reuters, Saudi lawyer Sulaiman al-Jomaii said Kashgari is certain to face harsh punishment, but will likely escape the death penalty if he repents in court.

“His case is dependent on his repentance. If he repents (in court) then it will be as if he has not committed a crime and there is no Saudi law that details a punishment for his offense if he repents,” Jomaii said.

Kashgari already defended his actions in an interview with The Daily Beast before his arrest, saying, "I was demanding my right to practice the most basic human rights — freedom of expression and thought — so nothing was done in vain."

More About: human rights, Journalist, Saudi Arabia, Twitter

Google+ Users Get a Rare Look Inside the Googleplex [PHOTOS]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 03:54 PM PST

Outside the Googleplex

Google was nice enough to take its Google+ subscribers on a tour of their offices in Mountain View, California.

Click here to view this gallery.

In an unusually intimate move, Google posted these photos on their Life at Google account Monday afternoon — offering Google+ users a glimpse at their Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

Google has always been known for being a leader in fun offices with plenty of perks for employees — and the photos don’t disabuse that notion. Included are shots of one of the many cafeterias, a golf course and a basketball court. There are also plenty of places to relax and get done away from your cubicle, including outdoor seating and comfortable couches.

The search giant clearly uses its office to lure in potential employees, and it’s easy to see why. Check out the gallery above, and tell us what you most liked about the Google offices.

More About: Google, googleplex, offices

Men on Twitter Bicker More About Valentine’s Day Than Women Do

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 03:28 PM PST

Male Twitter users are more disgruntled by Valentine’s Day than females. Although women post more tweets, men tend to take a more negative tone about the Feb. 14 holiday, according to new data from NM Incite.

The social analytics company inspected 70,000 recent tweets to discover that one-tenth of men's tweets about Valentine's Day are positive compared to one-fifth of women's. For example, @Mamasp00n posted, “[F*ck] valentines day, I’ll be playing twisted metal for 5 minutes then cry in a corner because I’m lonely and eat fun dip.”

The examples are endless. Look no further than the “Tomorrow Is Tuesday” worldwide trending topic that surfaced Monday on Twitter. People aren’t just stating the obvious, they’re criticizing Cupid’s big day.

SEE ALSO: Instagram Co-Founder's Girlfriend Launches Lovestagram for Valentine's Day

Here’s a breakdown of each sexes’ tone:

“Among both genders, the most commonly discussed Valentine's Day topic is not having a date, with 36 percent for women and 25 percent for men,” says NM Incite. “Interestingly, women are more likely to discuss buying a gift for their significant other, while men are more likely to share their dislike for the holiday.”

Despite men’s negativity, women are still commanding the Valentine’s Day dialogue.

BONUS: Not Bitter? Send One of These Gems to Someone

Many tech-related ways to ring in Valentine’s Day have emerged. If you type a certain algebraic equation into Google search, you’ll get a special surprise. And Starbucks is back with another augmented reality feature for its Cup Magic app. But if you’d rather celebrate using a traditional method, send one of these 10 geeky cards:

1. You Are My Double Rainbow!

What does this mean? It means you can send your sweetie a magnificent meme.

Cost: $3.75

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Social Media, trending, Twitter, valentine's day

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9 Ways Minecraft’s App is Now More Like the PC Version

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 03:10 PM PST

Minecraft Pocket Edition App Logo

Minecraft creator Mojang has released highly anticipated updates for Minecraft Pocket Edition that should bring it more in line with the PC version of the game.

The new updates, which make the game less like a sandbox of bricks, are already available in the Android app store. The iOS versions should go live once they are approved by Apple.

The new update adds the much-requested “survival mode,” traditional in the PC version of Minecraft. Survival mode will include zombies, a health bar, the ability to use different tools and resource-gathering.

During a web chat Monday, Mojang's director of business development, Daniel “Kappische” Kaplan, said the update changed the purpose of the game from simple world creation to a more action-oriented experience. Kaplan said players still have to deal with the restrictions of mobile platforms.

“It will be really hard to try to achieve the same thing as the PC since you are not playing on a PC,” Kaplan said.

He added that PC gamers have a lot more time to play than cell phone gamers. Mobile developers want to consider the characteristics of the platform: less time, simpler controls and a smaller screen.

“My opinion is that it’s harder to get a mobile player’s attention with a game since I think they will much more easy throw away your game if you don't get their attention early enough,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan also explained the slowness in bringing some of the most desired features of the game, like crafting, to mobile: there’s only one developer working on Minecraft Pocket Edition. Despite this, they plan to release many more of the asked-for features in the future.

Check out our gallery below to see all the new features found in the updated Minecraft Pocket Edition.

1. Survival Mode

The main update to Minecraft is the addition of Survival Mode. Originally, the mobile game could only be played in creative mode, which gave users unlimited block types for them to build to their heart's content. But there was no way to modify the landscape.

Image courtesy Guaph, Flickr.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Gaming, minecraft, mobile gaming, pc games

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How to Launch Your App in an International Market

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 02:56 PM PST

Edith Yeung is the head of marketing of Dolphin Browser, the world’s first Gesture, Webzine and Add-on-enabled mobile browser. She is also the founding partner of RightVentures, which focuses on cloud and mobile investments. You can find out more about Dolphin on Twitter, Facebook or via the Dolphin blog.

Many developers create smart, innovative mobile apps that have near-universal appeal, but how broad is too broad?

For instance, developing apps only in English prevents your star power from reaching a global stage. It’s totally fine to start building your mobile app in one language, but if you want to tap the huge international market, you can't stop there.

How should developers go about taking their apps international? For starters, try this handy guide.

What Countries Should You Aim for First?

In 2011, Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market achieved a combined 20 billion downloads. Although China leads the world's smartphone market, 41% of cellphones bought in the U.S. are smartphones. However, eight out of the top 10 largest iPhone and Android markets are not English-speaking, according to Flurry Analytics.

Not only that, Flurry also reveals that there are tons of mobile users around the globe who don't yet have a smartphone, but could easily afford one, which makes for a huge untapped growth potential. Leading foreign countries in this category are China with 122 million potential smartphone users, India with 75 million, Japan (61 million) and Brazil (34 million).

Taking your app international is no longer just another nice-to-have strategy, but a must-do. Localize your app by adding languages such Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and Hindi as a critical part of your marketing strategy.

As an independent developer, what are the specific steps you will need to take to set the stage for your global success?

Level 1: Start Small, Then Take a Giant International Leap Forward

You don't have to start by fully committing all your resources to support an international audience. Kick things off at the most basic level: Simply translating your app market description can be a quick and dirty way to test the water. It’s possible your potential users in Japan don't know your app exists because they simply don't perform searches in English.

Also, keep in mind that you need to optimize your app title, market description as well as change log and search keywords based on local language and cultural requirements.

Level 2: Localization – Translating Your App

As soon as you localize your app description, you should start closely monitoring downloads statistics in the associated languages and countries. If you notice a significant increase in downloads, it's time for you to start thinking about localizing the app itself. Offering your app descriptions in French will likely drive additional downloads, but localization will drive the next level of engagement.

The W3C defines localization as the adaptation of mobile application content to meet the language and cultural requirements of a specific target market. This includes numeric, date, time and currency formats, symbols, icons, colors, text and graphics.

Keep in mind that localization is not just about translating into different languages. You can't just plug the app into Google Translate; your audience won't understand what you want them to do with the app. Specifically, target these areas when localizing to a new language.

  • Text string
  • Metadata
  • Launch tips
  • Push notifications
  • Help tips
  • Privacy policy
  • End user license agreement

Level 3: Internationalization – Building a Local Team

You've finished localizing your app into Chinese and are seeing amazing uptake in China. Now it's time to go even further and start building a team there. You'll need to dedicate resources to make sure all the elements surrounding your app are fully accessible to an international audience. In other words, you'll need to internationalize.

Internationalization is the design and development of a mobile app that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region or language. We're no longer talking about source code or app content; we're talking about everything that surrounds the app. Ideally, local language alternatives for the website, social media and so forth are available for users. In order to do this successfully, you need a dedicated team that can operate at a local level.

Building a team overseas is definitely not a walk in the park. It's a big commitment and it can take vital resources, but when done right, the returns can be immense. Here is what you need to do to go fully international.

  • Localize your company website or blog.
  • Localize social media marketing strategy.
  • Localize user acquisition strategy.
  • Hire local marketing support.
  • Hire local public relations support.
  • Hire local customer service support.
  • Hire local legal support.
  • Apply for local patent.

Checklist: Going Global To-Dos

To summarize, check off the following items for the three levels of going global.

What other advice can you offer for taking an app or startup to an international level? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, labsas

More About: brand management, Business, contributor, features, international, mobile apps

U.S. Department of Justice Approves Google Purchase of Motorola Mobility

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 02:41 PM PST

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) approved Google‘s proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility Monday afternoon.

Earlier on Monday, Google announced via its corporate blog that the European Union had approved the $12.5 billion deal as well.

The two major milestones make Google’s acquisition of Motorola all but certain. The deal will enable Google to produce its own line of smartphones to go with its immensely popular Android platform. Motorola is one of the leading producers of Android-based phones, and holds one of the mobile industry’s largest collections of patents.

Google’s Vice President and Deputy Council Don Harrison said in his blog post announcing the EU approval that, "the combination of Google and Motorola Mobility will help supercharge Android. It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences."

The DOJ’s Antitrust Division announced its approval of the Google-Motorola deal in a statement that also announced approval for acquisitions by Apple of certain Novell patents, and acquisitions by Apple, Microsoft and RIM of certain Nortel Networks patents.

"After a thorough review of the proposed transactions, the Antitrust Division has determined that each acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition and has closed these three investigations,” the DOJ statement read.

“The division's investigations focused on whether the acquiring firms could use these patents to raise rivals' costs or foreclose competition,” the DOJ said later.

Like the EU earlier Monday, the DOJ’s antitrust regulators did not impose any restrictions on the acquisition. But Europe's competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said in a statement that the blessing "does not mean that the merger clearance blesses all actions by Motorola in the past or all future action by Google."

The Motorola acquisition would be Google's first expansion into the technology hardware business. The search giant has seen waves of antitrust criticism in recent years as it moved into other online sectors, including daily deals and shopping.

Do you think Google should be allowed to acquire Motorola and move into the hardware business? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

See the DOJ’s full announcement here.

More About: Google, Motorola, trending

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We Didn’t Warn Apple Off iTV Name, Says UK Broadcaster [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 02:35 PM PST

The rumored name for the television set that Apple is supposedly working on is iTV. Trouble is, that’s also the name of one Britain’s biggest broadcasters — ITV, or Independent Television, the main ad-driven alternative to the BBC.

ITV has been around since 1955; it hosts the nation’s most popular and long-running soap opera Coronation Street, among other shows.

Clearly, worldwide demand for an iTV would be something of a problem for ITV.

But the channel is denying a British newspaper report that it tried to warn Apple away from the name. In a statement sent to Mashable, ITV says it never wagged its finger at Apple, and that there’s “been no recent dialogue between ITV and Apple.”

The rumor began when The London Telegraph claimed that ITV CEO Adam Crozier had raised the naming issue with Apple in early 2010.

Apple had just unveiled the iPad, and as rumors began circulating that the company might soon branch into making TVs, Crozier wanted to head off any dilution of his company’s brand. The report says Apple made assurances that it wouldn’t market anything called “iTV” — at least, not in the U.K.

SEE ALSO: Will Apple iTV Trade the Remote for Kinect-Like Control?

Now ITV says the report is “entirely speculative,” denying any exchange took place. It seemed believable that the two might be talking; after all, “iTV” has been a suspected name for Apple’s device ever since the original Apple TV set-top box came on the scene. More recent rumors brought up the name again.

Since the label “Apple TV” is being used by the hockey-puck box that Apple sells, the company will need a differentiating name if ever comes to market with a TV. Given the naming of its other products, iTV is the natural choice.

Apple’s run into local trouble of the names of other products, most recently the iPad in China. A Taiwan-based company claims to have the right to the name iPad name, and some iPads were reportedly seized to enforce the rights holder. That could lead to Apple marketing the tablet under a different name in that country.

If something similar happens with the iTV, what do you think Apple should call it in the U.K.? Shout out your suggestions in the comments.

More About: apple, Apple TV, ipad, itv

Gingrich Is First Candidate to Activate Facebook Timeline

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 02:22 PM PST

Newt Gingrich, ex-Speaker of the House and Republican presidential hopeful, has turned on Facebook‘s new profile option, Timeline.

Maybe he was inspired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who did the same last week? Not exactly. According to Vincent Harris, who runs Gingrich’s new media efforts, the team switched to Timeline because it allows the campaign to showcase Gingrich’s “long record of fighting for conservative values” as well as the candidate’s personal side.

On Gingrich’s Timeline, his cover photo shows the candidate wide-grinned, signing autographs beside his wife Callista. His occupation is “Founder at Center for Health Transformation,” Gingrich’s healthcare organization. His education is in “European History at Tulane University,” and he lives in McLean, Virginia.

Facebook Timeline’s “Life Event” feature lets users highlight significant achievements in their lives. It’s also a natural fit to show off a politician’s accomplishments. On Gingrich’s page, recent endorsements, such as Herman Cain and Chuck Norris, stand out with pictures of endorsers and links to relevant news articles.

Timeline, which is meant to be viewed as a biography, is well suited to a politician with a public service record as long as Gingrich has.

In that vein, Gingrich uses “Life Event” markers to highlight accomplishments that are part of his presidential campaign’s message. In 1972, there’s a marker for Gingrich’s role as 6th district chairman for President Nixon’s election. His Timeline also highlights achievements or positions that may appeal to current voters: “early supporter of tax rate reductions” in 1978, “praised Reagan’s leadership” in 1984, “testified against Cap and Trade” in 2009, and so on.

Facebook Timeline does, however, have a way of boiling flavor out of events that once lit political fireworks: Gingrich’s stepping down from his post as Speaker came after pressure from other Republicans, but Timeline reduces that to “1999: Ended Work at United States House of Representatives.” Also, only one of Gingrich’s marriages is listed, but it’s unclear if this is a limitation on Facebook’s part or an omission by Gingrich’s team.

Facebook has a team headquartered in Washington, D.C. which helps politicians use the social network to organize. Harris said the Facebook political team helped with branding, and that they “are incredibly on the ball and serve as a good resource for campaigns,” said Harris.

Gingrich has also turned on Facebook Subscribe, a feature which lets Facebook users share certain updates with the general public while keeping other messages private. As of 4:15 p.m. ET Monday, he had just over 1,000 subscribers.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Timeline Roll Out: Everything You Need to Know

What are Harris’ plans for Gingrich’s Facebook presence? Even with this new Timeline page up, his old “public figure” page is still running.

“The fantastic visual nature of Timeline will allow Speaker Gingrich’s campaign to showcase important events, endorsements, and victories,” said Harris. “We plan on utilizing both the page and Timeline in a parallel nature, at least until pages potentially update to Timeline.”

Will the other candidates follow suit and jump on Timeline? What do you think of Gingrich’s Timeline? Sound off in the comments below.

BONUS: How To Fill In Your Facebook Timeline

1. The Timeline Menu Bar

As you scroll down your new Timeline, a floating menu bar will appear at the top of your screen. Use it to add new events.

Click here to view this gallery.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Facebook, facebook timeline, newt gingrich

10 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas You Can Get Online

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 02:05 PM PST

So, you forgot about Valentine’s Day, huh? Whether you intended to or not, there’s still time to let your sweetheart know how much you care.

If you did forget to make those reservations in advance, just know you’re probably not alone. Zooey Deschanel lamented Valentine’s Day forgetfulness on Saturday Night Live, just in case you’re looking for the worst possible last-minute gifts. (We recommend not following any of these.)

But if you’re looking to give more than unlimited breadsticks from Olive Garden, we’ve rounded up 10 suitable last-minute gifts that you can buy (or make) right from your computer.

Try to remember, the holiday started as a celebration of courtly love. In other words, don’t worry so much about buying a gift, but think more about the person you love.

Here are 10 quick and easy online ways to show someone you care.

1. Make Dessert

"There's an old saying that absence makes the heart go fonder, but personally, I think it's chocolate that makes the heart grow fonder." This girl's got the right idea.

YouTube is filled with tons of tutorials, so you can whip up a fancy dessert for two. In fact, the company created a list of 15 great recipes just in time for Valentine's Day.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

More About: features, gift ideas, Holiday, trending, valentine's day

Hey Hollywood, Online Piracy Doesn’t Hurt Your U.S. Box Office Returns [STUDY]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 01:49 PM PST

Pirate Key

Remember SOPA? Remember the urgency with which the bill’s backers were trying to convince us that its intended target, online piracy, was a clear and present danger? Remember how those dastardly BitTorrenters were going to deprive us of a functioning, creative movie industry?

Well, an academic study now doing the rounds suggests that’s nonsense. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota and Wellesley College who examined box office history, piracy has never affected Hollywood’s U.S. revenues. After BitTorrent file-sharing software started appearing online in the early 2000s, it had no effect — none whatsoever — on domestic receipts.

“We do not see evidence of elevated sales displacement in U.S. box office revenue following the adoption of BitTorrent,” the researchers concluded. “Consumers in the U.S. who would choose between the box office and piracy choose the box office.” (Read the study here.)

When it comes to the international market, BitTorrent did have an impact. Researchers found a 7% drop in box office receipts in countries other than the U.S. after the introduction of BitTorrent.

But the researchers also found a correlation with the length of time between a movie’s U.S. release and its international release. The longer a movie took to come out in other countries, the more likely people were to download it.

In other words, Hollywood’s online marketing machine is so effective that it has global reach, and so insidious that some eager movie fans can’t wait and lead themselves into temptation. And that is the sum total of the online piracy problem.

For example, as Boing Boing‘s Cory Doctorow notes, The Muppets was only just released in the UK this month — after a Thanksgiving release in the U.S. That means Muppet fans in the UK (of which there are millions) had to endure a summer full of YouTube trailers and a fall full of reviews of the critically acclaimed movie — and still couldn’t see it legally for another three months.

If only 7% of them turned to file-sharing as a solution, that would suggest nearly all movie-goers are law-abiding citizens even in the most tempting of circumstances. And that if movie studios want that money back, they should reconsider their marketing strategies and release date windows, rather than lobbying for draconian Internet laws with unintended consequences.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, leminuit

More About: bittorrent, Movies, muppets, SOPA

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App Turns Smartphone Into Remote-Control Toy for Long-Distance Lovers

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 01:32 PM PST

“Rob and Sara love each other,” begins a promotional video for the Closer ToGetHer iPhone and Android app, “but work keeps them apart more than they’d like.”

The app‘s proposed solution: a feature that allows Rob to control the vibration function on Sara’s phone.

Yep, its creators are serious.

Justin Wilcox, who wrote the code, says the idea was partially inspired by an Xbox hack he created when he worked for Microsoft. He took the force feedback motor that makes the controller shake when, say, a car rams into a wall at full-speed. Instead, for adult purposes, he made the Xbox controller motor respond to music. Microsoft’s patent office, not surprisingly, denied his request to take that product to market.

But the idea of a remote-controlled adult toy resurfaced when Wilcox started a long-distance relationship.

In addition to controlling the phone’s movement from far away, the app also has a sound setting, which theoretically can control a sound-activated toy (apparently someone who wasn’t working for Microsoft beat Wilcox to market on that one).

Hygiene issues aside, Wilcox recognizes that the $9.99 app might raise some eyebrows with app store browsers. “I’m not a pervert, and this isn’t how I spend most of my time or anything,” he reassures us. “I’d rather be helping kids or something.”

Somehow the app made it past the Apple censors; you can find it in the iPhone app store here.

Is this something you’d buy a loved one for Valentine’s Day, or can you imagine nothing more disgusting? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, aluxum

More About: App, Closer Together, trending, valentine's day

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How to Change Your Facebook Relationship Status Without Alerting Friends

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 01:16 PM PST

Changing your Facebook status from “In a Relationship” to “Single” has become as much a part of the breakup ritual as eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, getting a dramatic haircut or going for a night out with best friends.

Your Facebook status change doesn’t have to be in the public eye though. We have taken a look at how you can change your Facebook relationship status without broadcasting your newly single circumstances far and wide.

SEE ALSO: How to Fine Tune Your Facebook News Feed Like a Boss

So, if you need to make such a momentous change to your Facebook profile, grab your ice cream and have a read through our quick how-to gallery to see how you can keep your breakup private.

1. Facebook Relationship Status

The new Timeline design makes much of your relationship status, so we'd recommend erring on the side of caution about what you choose to broadcast.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, features, How-To, Social Media, tips and tricks

Fox Sports Columnist Apologizes for ‘Racist’ Jeremy Lin Tweet

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 01:00 PM PST

Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock apologized for a comment he posted to Twitter about Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks’ breakout phenom and social media’s newest sports darling.

Lin has taken the NBA and Internet by storm since he began putting up impressive stat lines and leading the Knicks to a string of wins over the past week. His underdog story (virtually no college teams wanted him out of high school, and he went un-drafted after graduating from Harvard) and improbable success have endeared to fans online, where they pay homage and burnish his legend under the #Linsanity Twitter hashtag.

Lin’s status as a rare Asian-American NBA player has added another angle to the story, for better and worse. While Lin was in the process of scoring 38 points to lead the Knicks to a win against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on national television on Friday, Whitlock posted this tweet to his 120,000 followers:

The tweet sparked a massive, instantaneous backlash on Twitter. Users lambasted Whitlock, labeled the tweet as racist and called on Fox to fire him. Others said they found the attempt at humor funny.

On Saturday, the Asian American Journalists Association posted a note to its Facebook page criticizing him for the message and requesting and apology.

“Outrage doesn't begin to describe the reaction of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) to your unnecessary and demeaning tweet,” the note read.

Whitlock apologized — though not to Lin or anyone else in particular — on Sunday. In a message posted to the FoxSports.com website and labeled as a “Fox Sports Exclusive,” Whitlock wrote:

“The couple-inches-of-pain tweet overshadowed my sincere celebration of Lin's performance and the irony that the stereotype applies to pot-bellied, overweight male sports writers, too. As the Asian American Journalist Association pointed out, I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I'm truly sorry.”

Do you think Whitlock should have apologized for his Jeremy Lin tweet? Does his apology go far enough? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS GALLERY: 10 Top #Linsanity Tweets

1. @SpikeLee

Spike Lee couldn't help talking some trash to Kobe Bryant after Lin torched the Lakers for 38 points on Friday night.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Jeremy Lin’s Facebook Page

More About: sports, Twitter

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Facebook Knows Your Favorite Love Songs and Breakup Tunes [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 12:41 PM PST

As a Valentine’s Day experiment, Facebook looked at the top 10 songs users are listening to as they make new relationships “Facebook official” or announce recent breakups on the social network.

The Facebook Data Team looked at songs U.S. users played on Spotify after changing their relationship statuses. The team had lots of data to work since the music platform gained about 2 million-plus users after the Facebook Integration at the end of 2011.

The results are as follows:

Songs people listen to when entering into a relationship:

1. “Don’t Wanna Go Home” by Jason Derulo
2. “Love On Top” by Beyoncé
3. “How to Love” by Lil Wayne
4. “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
5. “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
6. “It Girl” by Jason Derulo
7. “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine
8. “Criminal” by Britney Spears
9. “No Sleep” by Wiz Khalifa
10. “Free Fallin’” by John Mayer

Songs listened by people after ending a relationship:

1. “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons
2. “Crew Love” by Drake
3. “All of the Lights” by Kanye West
4. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
5. “Take Care” by Drake
6. “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars
7. “We Found Love” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris
8. “Call It What You Want” by Foster the People
9. “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez and the Scene
10. “Without You” by David Guetta featuring Usher

Tell us in the comments if your favorite love or breakup songs are here. If not, let us know what’s missing.

Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr, Jessica.Tam

More About: Facebook, Music, social networking, spotify, trending, Video

Apple Hopes to Block First Android 4.0 Phone in U.S.

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 12:25 PM PST


Apple just sued Samsung in a California court over alleged patent infringement. The offending product, according to Apple: the Galaxy Nexus, the world’s first phone to run Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

If successful in its lawsuit, Apple could block the phone from being sold in the U.S., Reuters reports.

The story may sound familiar. Apple and Samsung have sued or are suing each other in more than 10 different countries — from Australia to Germany — over supposed patent violations. At issue is how much Samsung’s line of Galaxy phones and tablets resemble Apple’s signature products, the iPhone and the iPad.

This case is particularly notable, though, for two reasons. First, it’s in a key market for both players: the U.S., which also happens to be Apple’s home turf. Also, by targeting the first Android 4.0 device instead of a host of other Android devices, Apple’s drawing a line in the sand. If the company can demonstrate that certain elements of the OS infringe on Apple’s patents, it could affect other manufacturers of Android 4.0 phones as well.

SEE ALSO: Apple vs. Samsung: The Patent Wars, Explained [INFOGRAPHIC]

Apple cites four patents in its motion, one of which has to do with voice search. Apple says the way the Galaxy Nexus searches via a user’s voice mirrors Siri, the iPhone 4S’s famous digital assistant, a little too closely. That could have far-reaching consequences for Google and its partners, as voice search is a feature present in every Android phone.

In addition, Apple cites a “data tapping” patent, which it used to successfully persuade the U.S. International Trade Commission to issue a ban on some HTC phones (the deadline on that ban has yet to pass, and it could still be overturned). Apple also says the Galaxy Nexus violates its patents on “slide-to-unlock” and a word-completion feature that’s used to speed up touchscreen typing.

The patent war between Apple and Android is ongoing and somewhat bitter. In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson wrote that Jobs saw Google’s mobile operating system as a blatant copy of the iPhone’s, vowing to “destroy Android.” Google, for its part, has said it believes the patent system is “broken” and should be fixed to encourage innovation.

Apple’s suing Samsung here, not Google, and the Korean electronics giant merely acknowledged the lawsuit in a statement: “We continue to assert our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple’s claims to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.”

What do you think of the iOS-Android patent war? Do Google and its partners owe Apple something, or is it time to declare peace and move on? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Camrocker

More About: android, Android 4.0, apple, galaxy nexus, iOS, ipad, iphone, patents, samsung

Obama’s 2013 Budget: Full of Tech and Science

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 11:54 AM PST

President Obama released his proposed 2013 budget Monday, and it gives us a glimpse into the president’s hefty tech and science wish list.

This includes wireless broadband, science and tech education, protection from cyber attacks, intellectual property rights and technology in government.

Follow along as Mashable digs up the details on the 2013 budget proposal.

Overall Research & Development

Obama’s proposed budget calls for $140.8 billion in overall research and development projects, aiming that money towards areas “most likely to directly contribute to the creation of transformational technologies that can create the businesses and jobs of the future.”

The specifics? Investment in non-defense research will be increased by 5 percent from this year. $13.1 billion will be divided between the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. That money will go to research on clean energy, biology, advanced manufacturing, “smart” infrastructure, wireless internet and cybersecurity. An additional $51 million is dedicated to the NSF for solving wireless spectrum problems.

Additionally, NASA would get $1.3 billion to develop new technology that would “keep the aerospace industry . . . at the cutting edge in the years to come.” However, NASA as a whole will see a drop of $59 million from this year’s funding level.

Wireless Broadband

Obama’s budget considers nationwide wireless broadband access an essential part of the U.S.’ future. $10 billion will be made available for a nationwide wireless broadband network and “spectrum innovation.”

“High-speed, wireless broadband is fast becoming a critical component of business operations and economic growth. The United States needs to lead the world in providing broad access to the fastest networks possible.”

To do that, the president wants owners of mobile spectrum to be able to rent out their spectrum in voluntary auctions. In exchange, spectrum owners will share any profits made over their signal. According to the budget, this repurposing is “critical” to get more wireless access for smartphones and tablet devices across the country.

Spectrum will also be made available for “unlicensed” use and to first responders who need to communicate quickly and easily during a crisis.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Obama plan seeks to get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office an additional $2.9 billion in resources by providing it with full access to its fee collections. The plan also calls for a quickening of the patent process as required under the America Invents Act, signed into law in September of last year. By quickening the rate of patents, the office would be able to collect more in fees in a given time frame.

The budget supports stronger intellectual property protection both in the U.S. and around the world, citing the PRO-IP act passed in 2008 as a blueprint for future enforcement (The Obama administration came out against SOPA and PIPA last month).


The Obama budget includes cybersecurity as one of the “emerging threats for which the United States must be prepared,” alongside nuclear attack, biochemical warfare and terrorism.

Specifically, the plan calls for an enhancement of all existing Department of Defense cybersecurity programs, both defensive and offensive. $769 million would head to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division to help develop new cyberdefense capabilities.

The budget also allows the Department of Defense to find new ways to work with businesses that operate “critical information infrastructures” to protect them from cyberattack.

Science and Tech Education

Obama’s 2013 plan calls for preparing 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, education and math over the next ten years while recruiting 10,000 new teachers over the next two years. The budget puts aside $80 million for a state grant-based program to to accomplish those goals.

President Obama is also calling for a new partnership between the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation that will help improve science education for students from the time they enter kindergarden through college graduation.

Tech in Government

Finally, The Obama plan also puts money aside for revamping and improving the way the government itself uses technology.

“The American people expect the Government to use information technology (IT) to provide the same level of service they experience in their everyday lives,” reads the proposed budget.

By moving data to central servers, the Obama administration plans to save $3 to $5 billion. And by moving services to the cloud, federal agencies will be able to pay only for services they use instead of a one-size-fits-all software package.

Your Take

A president’s proposed budget is an executive wish list: President Obama wants these reforms and projects, but he likely won’t get all of them approved by Congress. But the budget does show where the president’s heart lies in terms of the country’s future.

We’ve embedded the full proposed budget below. What do you think of the tech and science investments in Obama’s plan? Sound off in the comments below.

President Obama’s Proposed 2013 Budget

Image courtesy of The White House

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, barack obama

MRI Scanners: Now Used to Look Inside Batteries [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 11:39 AM PST

Researchers are trying to create a better battery with MRI scanning — looking at batteries from the inside out for the first time.

Previously the only way scientists looked into a battery is by destroying it. Now researchers at Cambridge University, Stony Brook University and New York University are adopting the MRI technology that doctors use to look inside the body.

MRIs are not typically used where there are large concentrations of metal. People with pacemakers and metal implants are urged to tell their doctors before getting an MRI because metal makes an MRI’s radio frequencies null.

SEE ALSO: 5 iPhone Battery Cases to Keep You Connected Longer

Researchers are using this limitation to their advantage. For lithium-ion batteries, MRIs may be used to see where large bundles of metal deposits are after charging the battery. These will point to problem areas that lead to battery failure, overheating fires and explosions, according to ScienceDaily.

What will come of this research? Better batties for your phones, cameras and laptops.

“New electrode and electrolyte materials are constantly being developed, and this non-invasive MRI technology could provide insights into the microscopic processes inside batteries, which hold the key to eventually making batteries lighter, safer, and more versatile,” said Alexej Jerschow, a professor in NYU’s Department of Chemistry who leads the MRI research laboratory.

Check out the video above to learn more.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, commorancy.

More About: Batteries, doctors, Mobile, mobile phones, Science, Tech

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