Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HOW TO: Follow London Fashion Week Via iPhone, Social Media and Web”


Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “HOW TO: Follow London Fashion Week Via iPhone, Social Media and Web”

HOW TO: Follow London Fashion Week Via iPhone, Social Media and Web

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:54 PM PST

London Fashion Week kicked off Friday — and fortunately for those of us outside the ropes at Somerset House, brands and media are making the week more accessible than ever before.

Forty-six fashion shows will stream the unveiling of their Autumn/Winter 2012 collections live from London this season, up from 32 in September. (See the full schedule, below.) High street retailer Topshop will also be live-streaming several shows via its iPhone app, including those from Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Meadham Kirchhoff, Louise Gray, Michael Van Der Ham and Topshop Unique. Still more brands and press will be uploading front row and backstage footage via their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram — and now, Pinterest — accounts.

Whatever your device and medium of choice, there will be plenty of options for watching London Fashion Week online this season. We’ve gathered together some of the best resources for you below.

Live Video

Live video of the runway shows will be streamed here. For a comprehensive schedule, see below.

Antoni & Alison
Friday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. GMT / 4 a.m. ET

Corrie Nielsen
Friday, Feb. 17, 11 a.m. GMT / 6 a.m. ET

Fyodor Golan
Friday, Feb. 17, 12 p.m. GMT / 7 a.m. ET

Bora Aksu
Friday, Feb. 17, 1 p.m. GMT / 8 a.m. ET

Zoe Jordan
Friday, Feb. 17, 2:30 p.m. GMT / 9:30 a.m. ET

Felder Felder
Friday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m. GMT / 10 a.m. ET

Jean-Pierre Braganza
Friday, Feb. 17, 4 p.m. GMT / 11 a.m. ET

Friday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m. GMT / 12 p.m. ET

Friday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m. GMT / 2 p.m. ET

Central Saint Martins MA Fashion
Friday, Feb. 17, 8:30 p.m. GMT / 3:30 a.m. ET

Saturday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m. GMT / 4 a.m. ET

Jasper Conran
Saturday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. GMT / 6 a.m. ET

J. JS Lee
Saturday, Feb. 18, 12 p.m. GMT / 7 a.m. ET

Simone Rocha
Saturday, Feb. 18, 12 p.m. GMT / 7 a.m. ET

John Rocha
Saturday, Feb. 18, 3 p.m. GMT / 10 a.m. ET

Kinder Aggugini
Saturday, Feb. 18,, 4 p.m. GMT / 11 a.m. ET

Todd Lynn
Saturday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m. GMT / 12 p.m. ET

Saturday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. GMT / 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET

Issa London
Saturday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. GMT / 2:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 19, 11:30 a.m. GMT / 6:30 a.m. ET

Marios Schwab
Sunday, Feb. 19, 12 p.m. GMT / 7 a.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 19, 3 p.m.GMT / 10 a.m. ET

Louise Gray
Sunday, Feb. 19, 6 p.m. GMT / 1 p.m. ET

Peter Pilotto
Monday, Feb. 20, 9 a.m. GMT / 4 a.m. ET

Michael van der Ham
Monday, Feb. 20, 1 p.m. GMT / 8 a.m. ET

Mark Fast
Monday, Feb. 20, 3 p.m.GMT / 10 a.m. ET

Fashion East
Monday, Feb. 20, 5 p.m. GMT / 12 p.m. ET

Monday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. GMT / 2 p.m. ET

Christian Blanken
Monday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m.and 7:30 p.m. GMT / 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET

Mary Katrantzou
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 9 a.m. GMT / 4 a.m. ET

David Koma
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 10 a.m. GMT / 5 a.m. ET

Roksanda Ilincic
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 1 a.m. GMT /6 a.m. ET

Holly Fulton
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 12 p.m. GMT / 7 a.m. ET

Emilio de la Morena
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 1 p.m. GMT / 8 a.m. ET

Meadham Kirchoff
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m. GMT / 9 a.m. ET

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 3 p.m. GMT / 10 a.m. ET

Anubaja Wuknibt
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 4:30 p.m. GMT / 11:30 a.m. ET

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 6:15 p.m. GMT / 1:15 a.m. ET

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m. GMT / 5:30 a.m. ET

Christopher Shannon
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 11:15 a.m. GMT / 6:15 a.m. ET

Topman Design
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 12:15 p.m. GMT / 7:15 a.m. ET

James Long
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2 p.m. GMT / 9 a.m. ET

Oliver Spencer
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 4 p.m. GMT / 11 a.m. ET


If you prefer live tweets to live video, we have a few favorites we recommend you follow.

Up-to-the-minute updates from the official London Fashion Week Twitter account.

Play-by-play tweets from The Telegraph‘s fashion director.

Show commentary and high-res images from the runway, the street and the parties from London-based fashion trends analysis firm WGSN.

Front row and backstage coverage from The Daily.

Commentary and photos from U.S. fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily.

Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry, is taking over the brand’s Twitter handle for the week.

Fashion News Sites

For those of you who prefer more editorial coverage, here our top five picks for fashion news throughout the week.

Some of the most intelligent collection reviews during Fashion Week, accompanied by comprehensive slideshows and videos from the runway.

The Telegraph

Interviews, reviews and trend stories from one of the leading fashion sections in the U.K.

Women’s Wear Daily

Reviews and highlights from the collections.

On the Runway

The New York Times‘ style blog contains short updates from on and around the runway, often accompanied by slideshows.

Heard on the Runway

Editorial coverage and slideshows from The Wall Street Journal.

Image courtesy of London Fashion Week

More About: fashion, london fashion week

10 Social Media Tips for Bloggers

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:19 PM PST

Liz Borod Wright, a freelance writer based in New York City, runs the popular travel blog, Travelogged. She is also a social media consultant and an adjunct for social media at Columbia Journalism School's continuing education program.

When it comes to building an audience and driving traffic, bloggers are turning to social media with record results. Instead of relying on organic search or (gasp) IRL friends, successful bloggers know they have to develop a following on key social networks as a way to promote their brands and ultimately get more clicks.

Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and now Pinterest provide the savvy blogger with plenty of opportunities to attract new readers and engage with regulars, but it can be overwhelming if you're new to social media or if you only use it for fun.

Here are 10 tips to help bloggers navigate the increasingly complex world of social media — while still making time to write content.

1. Display your social media icons prominently toward the top of your website.

Make it as simple as possible for your blog readers to connect with you on various social media platforms. They shouldn't have to hunt around to find your Twitter handle, but should be able to click on a button and be taken right to your profile. Bonus points if your social media icons reflect the overall design or feel of your blog.

2. Every blog should have its own Facebook Page.

Even with Facebook's new subscription feature, there's still merit to giving your blog its own space on Facebook. It's nice to be able to post a link every time you publish something new, and not have to worry about annoying your friends. Plus, readers who don't your name but know the name of your blog can search for it on Facebook. Show your fans some love on your blog by using the Facebook social plugin, which makes it easy to convert readers to fans.

3. Generate traffic with StumbleUpon.

This "recommendation engine" serves as an alternate browser where users click through pages that their SU friends and SU itself have recommended. You can submit your own blog posts into the system, but it works best if you also share them with your SU friends and accept their shares back. Like most social platforms, you need to have a strong following to get good results. While people are still trying to figure out what makes SU content go viral, many bloggers have seen terrific, albeit fleeting, traffic spikes through the service.

4. Import your RSS feed onto your LinkedIn profile using its Blog Link application.

As long as your blog somewhat pertains to your professional goals, you should be showcasing it on LinkedIn. List it as one of your three websites in your profile, where it will be labeled "Blog." However, by using the Blog Link application, your most recent posts will display right on your profile.

5. Pinterest is the hot new frontier for bloggers.

Pinterest is the cool new kid, and all of the bloggers are scrambling to establish a presence there. Pin your best photos onto themed boards with links to a relevant blog post. Blogs with strong visual content, like fashion, food, design, crafts and travel, are a natural fit. Infographics will also do quite well. Don't forget to add a Pinterest plugin (like the Pinterest “Pin It” Button for WordPress users) to make it easy for your readers to share your content on their Pinterest boards.

6. Use link shorteners even when you don't have to.

Twitter will now shorten your link for you, and the length of your link doesn't matter on Facebook and Google+. But by using a link shortener like, you will gain access to metrics, so you’ll know how many people clicked and at what time. With this essential data, you can experiment with different ways to tease your content and different times to post it.

7. Use your blog name as your username whenever possible.

Promote your personal brand by consistently using your blog's name for your Twitter handle, StumbleUpon name, Pinterest name and so on. Then, people don't have to wonder about your blog's name — it's right there. Also, people will remember you easily across platforms, which is key as you develop up your online community.

8. Join blogger groups on Facebook.

There are some very active groups on Facebook that are terrific resources for any blogging issues you encounter. Look for groups like "Travel Bloggers" or "Global Bloggers Network." WordPress geeks have "Advanced WordPress" and Central Florida residents have "Central Florida Bloggers." Not only are blogger groups good for problem-solving, but it's well-known that bloggers like to read other blogs. Do some searching and find a bloggers group that's suited to you, or start your own!

9. Be generous with other bloggers.

Promote other bloggers’ content, and hopefully they'll return the favor. You can't simply blast your own content anyway — you need some variety in every social media stream. So why not check out what your fellow bloggers are posting and give them a retweet, a share or a repin whenever you can. And don't forget to reciprocate and share content from bloggers who share yours.

10. Be on social media — even when it’s not driving traffic.

It can be frustrating when you feel that you're doing everything right (posting good content on the appropriate platforms in the best way possible) and you're still not getting many clicks. But console yourself by thinking about all of the links that you see throughout the day that you don't click on. Just spending time on social media platforms is great way to forge relationships, keep up on industry news and find inspiration for that next blog post.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, ardaguldogan.

More About: blogging, Facebook, features, Marketing, Social Media, stumbleupon, Twitter, writers

TGIF! How Are You Using Tech This Weekend?

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 07:33 PM PST

Happy Friday, Mashable community! And for readers in the United States — happy three-day weekend! Huzzah!

For people whose work is based online, many view long weekends as a time to unplug and take time to be with family and friends outside the social space. Others work on personal projects, or use social media more casually than they normally do. Other simply keep on as they were.

For those whose careers aren’t focused online, many ramp up their social and online presences during the weekend when they don’t have to deal with work restrictions against social media.

How are you planning on using technology this three day weekend? We’re using Tout to try to find out in a brand new way.

Re-tout us with your plans or show us what you’re doing by sending us a short video clip.

Don’t have Tout yet? Check it out here, or tell us about your plans in the comment section below.

More About: community, tout

For more Social Media coverage:

The Evolution of Mac OS, From 1984 to Mountain Lion

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 07:03 PM PST

Since the release of System 1 in January 1984, Apple has played an integral role in designing and implementing the graphical user interface (GUI) as we know it.

With the announcement of OS X Mountain Lion this week, Apple is continuing the process it started with Lion by streamlining the connection between the Mac and iOS.

We wanted to take a look at some of the biggest changes in the history of the Mac Operating System over the last 28 years. Looking back, I can’t help but be struck by how many elements of the original Macintosh OS are still there more than 30 years after the project started taking shape.

It’s a testament to the work of Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, Bud Tribble and the other members of the original Macintosh team that so many aspects from System 1 have become integral to personal computing as we know it today.

A Timeline of Mac OS

For nearly 30 years, the Macintosh operating system has helped define desktop computing.

With the announcement of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple is readying for its next evolution and is getting closer than ever at merging the desktop with the mobile OS. Let's take a look back at 28 years of Mac OS history.

Click here to view this gallery.

There are a few phases in the evolution of the Mac OS that are of particular note. System 7 was the longest-running release for Apple (until OS X); it shipped with all Macintosh machines from 1991 to 1997. If you’re in your mid-to-late 20s and used a Mac in elementary or middle school, chances are it was running some iteration of System 7.

One of the many challenges Apple faced in the 1990s was figuring out a new operating system strategy. As revolutionary as the original Mac OS work was, by 1994 it was starting to look stagnant and stale. This was especially true after the first release of Windows NT in 1993, which cemented Microsoft’s place in the corporate and enterprise space.

After the Copland project was cancelled in 1996, Apple was left to search for an operating system it could acquire. That led to the purchase of NeXT and its NeXTSTEP operating system.

Not only would NeXT technology serve as the foundation for the future of Apple as it is known today (OS X and iOS are direct descendants of NeXTSTEP), it was responsible for bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple.

It would end up taking ten years from the beginning of the search for a next-generation Mac OS. But the hunt finally reached its quarry with the release of Mac OS X in 2001. But it would take until Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) before the system was really able to hold its own.

Over the last decade, OS X has evolved into a powerful desktop and server platform — while also serving as the core for iOS. With OS X Mountain Lion, Apple is bringing more of the elements and features of its mobile OS to the desktop.

Vintage computer fans who want to take a look at more screenshots of classic Mac OS versions should check out Marcin Wichary’s GUIdebook Gallery and Nathan Lineback’s collection of GUI history.

Gallery created by Chelsea Stark

More About: apple, features, mac, os x, os x mountain lion, trending

Google Caught Tracking Safari Users: What You Need to Know

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 06:22 PM PST


Google is in a lot of hot water over recent revelations about how it tracks user activity on Apple devices — particularly iPhones and iPads.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, an independent researcher has discovered that Google embeds hidden software on many websites — software designed to circumvent the default settings on a web browser to record a user’s behavior.

The issue involves how Safari, the default web browser on Apple devices, deals with cookies. Cookies, of course, are the little pieces of information (such as a user ID) that a website can leave on your phone, tablet or computer and later retrieve. Cookies allow you to log in to a website such as Flickr, and return without needing to log in again.

Cookies also enable advertisers to track your behavior. By keeping track of what you’re looking at on one website, an ad network can serve you ads, based on those clicks, on another. Users can prevent that from happening via certain settings, but not all web browsers approach the issue in the same way.

So how is Safari different? What’s at stake? And what can a concerned user do about it? Read on:

What exactly was Google caught doing?
Google was using a software trick to get around a Safari setting that only allow certain types of cookies. That way the company could put cookies on a user’s device, letting it track sites visited, which in turn let Google tailor advertising to the user.

Why would it need to “trick” Safari into doing that?
By default, Safari blocks cookies from third parties. Most browsers allow users to block cookies, but don’t set it as a default. Google happens to operate many of its advertising services, including DoubleClick, from a domain outside — a domain which Safari treats as a third party. So even if a user was logged into Google, DoubleClick was blocked from serving ads to the user — unless that user approved the cookie by, say, filling out a form.

How did Google get around that?
The company put a hidden field in some of its sites that essentially acted as a form, even though the user never filled out anything. That told Safari it was OK for DoubleClick to serve ads to the unknowing, unwitting user.

Why would Google do that?
Google says it’s all an accident. Even though Google’s primary business is advertising and the Safari browser on iPhones and iPads is said to account for more than 50% of mobile browsing, Google says it was merely taking advantage of a known workaround in Safari that lets do things like use Google’s “+1″ buttons on sites outside the domain.

Come again?
Modules like the “+1″ button and the Facebook Like button appear on many different sites, and users generally expect them to work without changing their browser settings. Facebook even encourages developers to exploit the same Safari quirk Google targeted here. Google says it was only trying to enable such functionality with those hidden fields, and it “didn’t anticipate” advertising cookies to be set on Safari.

Is Google doing anything about it?
Yes, it says it’s started removing these cookies from Safari browsers.

What does Google do with the information it collected?
Until it started removing the cookies, the company used the information mainly to tailor ads based on the websites you visited. The cookie doesn’t track personal information, such as your address or phone number.

Will Google face any penalties for this?
It’s unclear. Google is under close watch by the FTC for privacy violations, and this might qualify. For its part, the FTC acknowledged to Mashable that it was aware of the issue, but didn’t say if it would do anything about it.

Is Google the only one doing this?
No. The original testing by Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer pointed the finger at three other companies — Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll — all of which exploit Safari’s quirks to serve ads to unsuspecting users.

Can Apple do anything about this “quirk?”
Apple says it’s working on a way to “put a stop” to third parties circumventing Safari’s privacy settings.

What can I do if I’m concerned about this?
To ensure that no one puts unwanted cookies on your device, simply go into your browser settings and choose the option to never accept cookies. However, that will also mean you’ll have a hard time logging into many sites. Another option is to simply clear your browser of cookies regularly. You can do that in you settings as well.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Alija

More About: apple, cookies, Google, ipad, iphone, privacy, safari

Netflix Sows Confusion, Announces DVD Plan That Already Existed [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 05:56 PM PST

Netflix hasn’t been doing well communicating with its movie-loving customer base in the past six months (remember Qwikster?), and the company tripped up again this week.

A post published on the company’s official blog, stating customers can now sign up for the $7.99 DVD-only plan, led many users to believe it was flip-flopping on available plans.

Netflix Director of DVD Engineering Santosh Hegde stated: “Starting today, our DVD and Blu-Ray loving audience can now easily sign up for a DVD only plan. Starting at just $7.99/month, you can enjoy around 100,000 titles on DVD. We are also offering a 1 month free trial for eligible customers.”

Apparently, Netflix was merely announcing the new URL ( for customers to sign up for DVD-only plans, which had long been available.

Netflix’s communication woes began with July’s decision to split its unlimited DVD and unlimited streaming services into two separate plans. More than 800,000 angry customers canceled their subscriptions in response.

Traditional plans cost $9.99 for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

July’s new plans brought customer options down to: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month and Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming), for $7.99 a month.

This essentially doubled the original $9.99 unlimited plan to $15.98 a month. After Netflix’s short-lived DVD-handling company Qwikster shuttered, customers who wanted to borrow DVDs from Netflix had to be have a streaming plan. See the video above to learn more or browse the gallery below to learn more about Netflix’s up and downs.

Are you still a Netflix customer? Is the DVD-only plan appealing to you? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: Chronicling Netflix’s Downturn, July to October 2011

1. Netflix Stock Hits All-Time High

July 13, 2011

Netflix stock more than doubled over the previous year, then increased by 15% in May to reach its last all-time high in July of $300.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

More About: Movies, netflix, netflix streaming, streaming movies, Video

For more Entertainment coverage:

What to Do When Your Celebrity Client Flips Out on Social Media

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 05:14 PM PST

In the wake of another celebrity social media meltdown this week, the question “where is his publicist?” has appeared from commenters in almost every article on the topic.

Let me start by stating this is not a gossip column, nor an attempt to cover content outside of social media. Twitter, as well as any other form of social media is vital for celebrities and brands. Chris Brown is not the first of either to make a public mistake online, as the photo gallery below will attest.

Whether you love or hate the guy, the real question here is: how do you recover from that level of damage on social media?

SEE ALSO: 6 Tips for Handling Breaking Crises on Twitter

“One of the best and worst things about social media is the instantness of it. Which means it’s very good and it’s very dangerous,” says Ronn Torossian, CEO and president of 5W Public Relations. “I think any time there’s a lot of opportunity there’s also a lot of risk in social media”

Torossian is a crisis communications expert who has represented and worked with celebrities such as Snoop Dog, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Nick Cannon and Pamela Anderson.

Crisis communications is a branch of public relations that deals specifically with protecting an individual or company facing a challenge to their reputation. Pros in this field are hired either before or mid-crisis.

“You can rest assured that PR firms are very involved with their client’s Twitter,” explains Torossian. “Sometimes they’d rather be more informed, more involved — and other times, the celebrities won’t listen.”

Because Twitter is so prominent on mobile devices, Torossian says that managing celebrities has become much harder than it was before because they are now able to communicate with the public instantly.

“There is a saying in crisis communications: sometime you have a communications problem and sometimes you just have a problem. Chris Brown is a problem,” says Dallas Lawrence, chief global strategist at Burson-Marsteller, where he counsels companies and organizations on effective reputation management solutions.

Celebrities are not the only ones making regrettable comments on Twitter. Large corporations have made errors, like when Entenmann’s used a hashtag referring to Casey Anthony’s trial verdict for marketing. We’ve also seen entire campaigns spiral out of control on social media, such as McDonald’s or RIM.

SEE ALSO: Hashtag Marketing: 9 Ways to Avert Disaster

Although misguided tweets and negative commentary after the fact can quickly spread like wildfire on Twitter, Lawrence says that many people are often accepting when brands or personalities make a mistake.

“The public is overwhelmingly willing to forgive and understand if they see sincere contrition and a change in actions.” Apologizing is table stakes. The public now wants to see what you are doing to make good on that apology.”

On some occasions, celebrities have deleted or taken a hiatus from their Twitter account after regrettably lashing out on social media, such as Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher. However, Torossian says in this case, if Chris Brown were to delete his account, it would be a huge mistake.

“The fundamental rule of crisis is admit what happened, tell the truth and speak up,” says Torossian. “That’s what he should be doing — address it, ‘I made a mistake,’ now let’s move on.”

BONUS: 8 Celebrity Social Media Meltdowns

Ashton Kutcher

Kutcher got into hot water last month when he fired off a tweet defending Penn State coach Joe Paterno after Paterno was implicated in a scandal related to assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's alleged history of sexually molesting children. "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste," the tweet said. Later on, Kutcher tweeted, "Heard Joe was fired, fully recant previous tweet!" and "Didn't have full story. #admitwhenYoumakemistakes." Shortly afterwards, Kutcher announced that he was turning over the management of his Twitter account to Katalyst Media, a firm he co-owns.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: alec baldwin, ashton kutcher, chris brown, crisis management, features, PUBLIC RELATIONS, trending, Twitter

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Juror Jailed For Friending Defendant on Facebook [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 04:04 PM PST

Word to the wise: If you’re a juror in a trial, don’t friend the defendant on Facebook, or worse, brag about being kicked off the jury committee for said friend request.

Jacob Jock, a 29-year-old man living in Sarasota, Florida, was sentenced to three days in jail on Thursday for criminal contempt of court by Circuit Judge Nancy Donnellan. The misdemeanor charge stemmed from a message he posted on his Facebook page after being dismissed from jury duty for sending a friend request to the defendant: “Score … I got dismissed!! apparently they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant … haha.”

The incident began in December when Jock sent a friend request to Violetta Milerman, the defendant in an auto negligence case. The defendant informed her attorney about the request and Jock was removed from the jury. It wasn’t until Jock posted the message on his Facebook page that he was hauled into court.

Donnellan reprimanded Jock for his actions, reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, concluding a two-hour contempt-of-court hearing by saying, “I cannot think of a more insidious threat to the erosion of democracy than citizens who do not care.”

After the three-day jail sentence was announced, Jones was taken away in handcuffs as his girlfriend cried, but she has not commented on the matter.

Jock says he meant to click on “mutual friends” because he thought he may have known the defendant but accidentally requested her as a friend.

Keeping jurors away from social media may prove to be difficult for judges presiding over trials where juries are not sequestered. This isn’t the first case in which Facebook interfered with a trial. In August 2011, a very similar incident occurred when 22-year-old juror Jonathan Hudson of Texas sent a friend request to the female defendant.

Hudson was removed from the jury and faced four charges of contempt of court. Just a month earlier, a juror and defendant in the U.K. were convicted of contempt of court after mutually friending each other on Facebook. The Guardian said it was the first case involving contempt of court and the web.

What impact do you think social media will have on trials in the future? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Facebook, friend request

Your Bandwidth Will Be Throttled. Here’s Why

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 03:13 PM PST

bandwidth eaters

The days of all-you-can eat mobile bandwidth are already ending, and landline broadband could soon follow suit. You, my data-hungry friend, my not be ready for it, but your Cookie Monster-like habit of gobbling up data has made this a certainty.

You may rail at the injustice of it all, but that won’t stop it from happening.

AT&T has promised to start throttling the top 5 percent–their heaviest data users. It began sending out texts last week to inform those users that the time had come to occasionally reduce their 3G speeds down to 2G (that is, the molasses-like Edge network).

Those who received these data notes, however, seemed shocked to learn they’re among the top 5 percent: those who use more than 2 GB of data a month.

One user, Fox News anchor Shep Smith, was apoplectic. I know. I was there when he went ballistic on live TV. He called AT&T names and accused the mobile service provider of getting users hooked on data, then charging more when they know users can’t stop using their smartphone. Check it out:

Smith could not get his head around how he used so much data. He never streams video. He did admit to browsing the web all the time on his phone. Plus he takes photos and send them to others. (Depending on the size and the frequency of the picture files, that could account for it.)

He was so angry at AT&T that I didn’t get to explain that Verizon will also throttle its top 5 percent — though they may wait until there are any local network issues before doing so. I am unaware if they have ever sent notes to users informing them of what they’re doing.

You could say AT&T was brave in its transparency. The company could have quietly throttled its users; they would have noticed the difference, but might have chalked it up to the vagaries of the network. T-Mobile also does it (though they wait until you hit 5 GB). Even the unlimited data network, Sprint, will throttle users — but only those in the top 1 percent.

All of these networks would prefer, I'm sure, that we moved to tiered plans (where you pay more for 3GB or 5GB of data than you do for 2GB and 200 MB). They'll make more money and have more funds to support our ever-growing data needs.

Whether or not you believe that, the truth is that we will witness the end of unlimited data, and sooner than we might think. Even average users will ultimately be throttled or pushed into tiered plans as their data appetite turns from healthy to voracious.

What's driving this growth? I have some ideas:

Location, Location, Location

Virtually every app and mobile service wants to use your location. This can mean a quick GPS-based calibration, plus a ping to servers to find local deals or other information that the phone can push to you at any moment.

These small acts eat data. It seems likely that more people allow location-based services than those who do not.


You smartphones are now equipped with 8 megapixel cameras that shoot high-resolution images, which you regularly post to social networks or share directly with friends.

This has always eaten data, but better pictures also equate to bigger files. Sending, sharing and receiving ("oh, look, Janet's new baby!") all eats data.


Your email app will troll for new messages as often as you let it. Sending and receiving e-mails, often image-rich messages that are more like full web pages than text, eats up data.

Social Networking

Every single social network you join uses the data networks to get its work done. You not only share all the time, you check in to see what other people are sharing. We're not just looking at one social network, we’re looking at three or four: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

The Cloud

Apple's iCloud will only back-up and sync your data when you're on a Wi-Fi network. This means iCloud won't consume copious amounts of 3G data. Google, however, has a different approach.

Google+ recently launched Instant Upload for photos and videos. Depending on your settings, it can use Wi-Fi only or your mobile network too. The latter option might as well read "Consume Mass Quantities of Data."

Google acknowledges this possibility. In a note at the bottom of the Instant Upload setting page, it says: "Uploading over a mobile network will use your data connection and may cost you money." It may also get you thrown into data-throttling pokey.


Stream video on your mobile device and you are eating lots of data. You won't be able to watch many two-hour movies before finding that your data speeds have been reduced to 2G.

There is some good news here: You can track your own data usage. I'm a Verizon customer and the service helpfully shows me exactly how much of my metered 2 GB of data I’ve used, every minute of every day.

What have I learned? In short, I use a lot of data. Most of it is in fairly small increments that could usually be measured in kilobytes. According to Verizon, I am using my full data allowance each month, and roughly a gigabyte every two weeks.

Oddly, I have not gone over my limit, though sometimes my throughput does seem unnaturally slow. Am I being throttled? I have no idea. Verizon isn't telling me.

Most other service providers will let you take a good long look at your data usage (on their web site and even via text alerts). You can use this to help monitor and control your usage.

But make no mistake, based on the increasing power of our smart phones and tablets, the richness of our web sites, photos, video and email and our penchant for sharing, data usage is going nowhere but up. Just get ready to pay for all that data you use.

More About: att, data, mobile broadband, sprint, T-Mobile, trending, verizon

Examination of iPad 3 Screen Reveals Retina Goodness

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 02:20 PM PST


For months now, it has been a foregone conclusion that the iPad 3 will feature a high-resolution retina display. Now further evidence has surfaced, this time with an examination of one of the screens.

MacRumors obtained a display purported to be the same that will be used in the iPad 3. The panel appears to be the same physical size as the display used in the iPad 1 and iPad 2 but looking at the display under a microscope showed that its pixel density is double that of the older devices.

MacRumors wasn’t able to power on the display, however its photographs compare the densities of the two screens. When comparing the same area on each screen, the older display shows a cluster of 4 pixels (2×2) while the new display is 16 pixels (4×4). That would mean the final resolution of the iPad 3 will be 2048×1536, twice the linear resolution of the iPad and iPad 2.

Application developers will need to convert or start creating new artwork for existing iPad apps with the retina display in mind. As with the iPhone 4, it might take a few months before existing titles get updated with new assets. For new developers, however, keep those vector files handy!

Frankly, I can’t wait for a retina display iPad. The iPad 2 is an amazing device but when I switch between my iPhone 4S and the iPad, I instantly wish I could view text and graphics with the enhanced clarity of the iPhone.

The latest rumors have Apple announcing the iPad 3 at a press event in March. The new device is also rumored to have support for 4G LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T. Will you upgrade to a retina display iPad 3 or is standard resolution good enough? Let us know in the comments!

[via MacRumors]

More About: apple, ipad 3, macrumors, retina display

Hands-on Preview of ‘Sleeping Dogs’ Game Shows Lots of Promise

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 01:57 PM PST

Video game publisher Square Enix held an exclusive preview of its forthcoming title Sleeping Dogs in San Francisco this week, giving Mashable a hands-on look at one of this summer’s most anticipated open-world games.

Basically, Sleeping Dogs looks awesome.

Here’s the basic premise of the game: Players operate as Asian-American detective Wei Shen, who is assigned to infiltrate and take down a violent Triad crime ring in Hong Kong. It’s a nice setup because it allows players to be the good guy while still doing lots of bad guy dirt. Sleeping Dogs is slated for release on Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this August.

While Square Enix is publishing the game, it’s being developed by United Front Games (UFG). UFG executive producer Stephen Van Der Mescht said his team watched and re-watched Hong Kong action films for inspiration and ideas. That shows in the entertaining plot line of Sleeping Dogs. The interstitial scenes that move the story forward between gameplay sequences are shot like a film and feature fun noir dialogue. Coupled with the game’s excellent graphics, the bits that we saw could have passed as the outline of a decent cartoon TV show.

Van Der Mescht said in an interview that making Sleeping Dogs the first open-world game set in Hong Kong was an easy choice.

“In open-world games, the city is often your central character, it’s what you interact with most, and Hong Kong offers so much variety,” he said. “It’s also perfect for an open-world game because it’s an island, so it has a natural border.”

The hands-on gameplay was loads of fun as well, even for this very casual (at best) gamer. Despite its open-world format, the game was easily navigable with signposts, reminders and distance meters to move the action along. The controls are all straightforward and pretty intuitive. One feature straight out of an action flick is how props such as dumpsters and gates glow red to indicate especially gruesome ways to dispatch enemies.

Another cool thing is how different parts of the game have completely different feels and create their own experiences. Kung fu sequences feel almost like a different game from the parts where Shen picks up a gun and sprays bullets. A street race sequence introduces even more unique variety.

That combination of quality and diversity will be key to Sleeping Dogs succeeding in the competitive open-world genre once the game hits the market.

“I think each of the core pillars are going to be competitive or exceed people’s expectations,” Lee Singleton, general manager of Square Enix London Studios, told Mashable.

Sleeping Dogs actually had a bumpy road to Square Enix. It was originally titled True Crime: Hong Kong, as a third installment of the True Crime Los Angeles and New York editions, and set for publication by Activision. But Activision dropped the game a year ago, reportedly because they thought it was “just not good enough” to compete in the open-world genre. Square Enix picked up the rights in August.

But from what we saw this week, Sleeping Dogs will bring gamers plenty of outstanding action and storytelling, even if it goes a little light on the online and social options with just simple leaderboards. Whether that all translates to financial success is tougher to predict.

Do you think you’ll buy Sleeping Dogs? Let us know in the comments.

Also, just because it’s so cool, check out the game’s live-action concept trailer:

More About: Gaming, Square Enix

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Microsoft’s New Windows 8 Logo: Design Triumph or Ho-Hum? [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 01:42 PM PST

As Microsoft frantically programs and polishes what may be its most important Windows update ever — Windows 8 — it has also revised the operating system's image. Obviously, Windows 8 is a bold departure from previous editions. Now the Windows logo is being reimagined, as well, and the results may surprise some people.

Microsoft hired the global design firm Pentagram, which has done rebranding for Nissan, Walgreens, The Metropolitan Museum and countless others, to reimagine the logo. The result is a pale blue imprimatur that leans toward the clean lines of Windows 8's new Metro interface, while paying homage to Windows logos of the past. What some people think of as the "flag" has been replaced with a four-pane window that angles off into the distance.

Early versions of the Windows logo made it clear that the flag was originally intended as a Window — what Sam Moreau, Principal Director of User Experience for Windows, called "a metaphor for computing," in the blog post announcing the design change, However, with each iteration, the Window became wavier, until it was, well, a flag.

Interestingly, the logo is probably most inspired by the very first Windows logo design, which also had a four-pane box, though it looks little like a Window.

Considering how strikingly different Windows 8 is from any Windows OS that's come before it, this austere and slightly dull design is a bit of a disappointment. Still, the outcome clearly aligns with the goals of the project. Microsoft wanted it to be "modern and classic" and to eschew any "faux industrial design characteristics" like rendered glass, wood or plastic. And the software giant wanted it to be "humble, yet confident."

The default color may strike some as too weak for a logo, but Moreau said in the post that the logo will change color when you change your system colors.

What do you think of the new logo? Tell us in the comments.

Original Windows Logo

The era before they decided to add four colors.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: microsoft, trending, Windows 8

YouTube Next Cause Helps Non-Profits Tell Their Stories

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 01:31 PM PST


YouTube has announced a new way to help non-profits better tell their stories on the video platform.

YouTube Next Cause, the latest addition to the Creator program, is a day-long summit in San Francisco April 2 during which the company will offer non-profits training and consulting on YouTube best practices for promotion and community engagement.

“We want to help non-profits turn their view counts into actions — dollars raised, petitions signed,” YouTube spokesperson Jessica Mason told Mashable.

Mason suggested three tips for non-profits hoping to expand their channels: First, engage with the community by replying to comments and giving them an action step, such as a petition to sign. Second, upload regularly to build a consistent relationship. Third, don’t assume that great videos require big budgets. Invisible People — a project that tells the stories of people living without homes — and The Uncultured Project — which shoots in Bangladesh with just a flip cam — are two causes that prove great video storytelling can be accomplished at low costs.

“Non-profits will receive an incredible networking opportunity with Google’s thought leaders and gain insider knowledge on the best ways to engage audiences,” Mason says.

Of the 16,000 organizations in YouTube’s non-profit program, about 30 have received more than 10 million views on their videos and 271 have received more than 1 million views. YouTube released its Playbook for doing good in January.

The non-profits program is the latest installment in YouTube’s NextUp Program. Previously, the program has helped YouTube entertainers turn their YouTube content into their primary careers. The program has also worked with chefs and athletic trainers.

What do you think are the most valuable things non-profits can do with YouTube? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, GiorgioMagini

More About: non-profits, Social Good, YouTube

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Pinterest Porn: Are Breasts and Butts Offensive or Art? [POLL]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 01:12 PM PST

Sandwiched between Pins of clothes and crafts on Pinterest are pictures of breasts and butts.

Every so often, a Pinterest Pin shows scantily clad or even naked men and women — sometimes in pornographic positions. Some users view the images on the 2-year-old social scrapbooking site as art, while others are offended to the point of wanting to quit using the service.

“I have seen pictures today that will make me get off of Pinterest — very provocitive pictures of undressed ladies,” user Debbie Shownes told Mashable. “If this is the thing you are going to allow, then off I go. I enjoy the how-tos and foods but not enough to put up with that.”

Pinterest Boards such as user Leslie Graham’s “Hott!” display several erotic images of naked people simulating or seemingly performing sexual acts, for example. Less graphic Boards such as De’Quan Williams’ “Beautiful Men” and Kafeja’s “Tattoo” also focus on human anatomy and don’t leave much to the imagination.

“We rely on users to report content by using the Report button available next to each Pin,” Pinterest community manager Enid Hwang told Mashable. “The majority of Pins are flagged correctly and community-policing is effective for us. We also have internal tools we’re iterating on to make reviewal more efficient.”

Have you stumbled upon any Pins or Boards filled with nudity? Let us know where you stand on this topic by voting in the poll and sounding off in the comments below.

BONUS: Eye Candy on Pinterest

We can’t publish nudity on Mashable, but we can share other Pins attracting eyeballs. Enjoy.

1. Hands

Pinterest via Edris Kim.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, aluxum

More About: nudity, pinterest, poll, Social Media

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Groupon Announces $30-Per-Year VIP Program

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:59 PM PST

Groupon emailed a select group of the company’s “best customers” this week an exclusive invitation for Groupon VIP access.

The testing period will last three months. After its release the Groupon VIP program will cost $30 per year. VIP in the daily deals world guarantees early access to deals, first dibs on reservations, access to closed or sold-out deals, and swap-in deals for Groupon Bucks, even after a package has expired.

Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason said at this week’s 2012 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference that the company hopes to continue to change the local deal commerce market, calling this “the first inning.” Groupon stock hasn’t been doing well since the company announced its IPO at $20 a share in November, dropping below $17 a share during its first week.

"For consumers, we're allowing them to experience more buying power," Mason said. "For merchants, we're helping them do a better job with wasted inventory."

SEE ALSO: Groupon Shares Continue Free Fall, But Why?

LivingSocial, the number two competitor in the daily deals industry, is testing a similar premium product called LivingSocial Plus. The plan costs $20 a month. If you are a LivingSocial frequent user, it may be a smart option since you’ll receive $25 Deal Bucks every month as a premium subscriber.

LivingSocial Plus subscribers are similarly promised $20 of the $25 Deal Bucks rollover if not used, plus, priority access to closed deals and refunds at any time.

Tell us in the comments if you would sign up for Groupon VIP or LivingSocial Plus?

Groupon Offers One Local Deal Per Day, Nov. 2008

The social buying website Groupon provides one remarkable deal every day for each city they support - Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC.

Users can also subscribe to the Groupon mailing list to make sure they have the daily deals emailed to them.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jason Rosenberg

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, slobo

More About: Business, daily deals, groupon, LivingSocial, social networking

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Mass Effect 3 Is Launching Into Space … Literally

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:43 PM PST

Ground Control to Commander Shepard! BioWare is turning up the buzz on its highly anticipated action/sci-fi adventure game Mass Effect 3 by launching it into space before its ever-closer release date.

Yes. Space.

According to an article by USA Today, BioWare’s parent company Electronic Arts will send copies of the game into space using weather balloons. The balloons will take off from San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City, London, Paris and Berlin. Each package is embedded with a GPS tracking device that will report to waiting users via the game’s website. The lucky few who find these traveling copies after they’ve touched down onto safe Earth soil will be able to play the game before its release on March 6. Further details remain murky, including exactly when the contest will take place and whether the copies have already been launched from orbit, but BioWare reps told Mashable that more information about the contest will be released at a later date.

Until then, you can get your futuristic fix with the already released playable demo of the game that’s available on digital download for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Mass Effect 3 is the final climactic piece of the Mass Effect series and boasts newly integrated mulitplayer action as well as Kinect functionality. Buzz for the game has been building since its first teaser debuted in June at E3, and pre-order is available on Amazon.

Mass Effect 3 Screenshot

Close combat will play a large role in the new game.

Click here to view this gallery.

Are you totally psyched up about Mass Effect 3? Will you try to snap up a copy as it reaches Earth? Let us know in the comments!

More About: BioWare, electronic arts, Entertainment, Gaming, Mass Effect 3, myspace, space, weather balloon, Xbox 360

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MTV Music Meter 2.0 Leads Music Lovers to Fresh Acts

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:29 PM PST

Music Meter Web Interface

After more than a year in development and over 1 million downloads, MTV‘s answer to music discovery has emerged from beta.

MTV Music Meter 2.0 launched Wednesday with support for not only the web browser but also iOS and Android platforms.

The Music Meter is designed as an entry point for finding out more about bands and artists you don’t know yet. When you initially visit the app, you’ll get a list of the top 100 trending “Up & Coming” artists based on an algorithm developed by data partner the Echo Nest. Because the Music Meter wants to help surface emerging artists, you won’t see Kanye West and Adele — rather, a look at the top 5 today shows Gotye, Greyson Chance, Casper, Graffiti6, and Chelsea Grin.

MTV Music Meter iOS

One of the updated features of the new release is that you can now sort by genre. This lets you find the trending artists in rock, hip-hop, indie, electronic, and interestingly, mainstream. Again, the emphasis is on rising artists, so when you narrow by hip-hop, for example, you’ll find artists such as Tyga, Plies, and The Cool Kids as opposed to Jay-Z or Lil Wayne.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. You just have to search for them. The app delivers 30-second song previews from music partner Rhapsody, as well as biographical information, news (aggregated from sources like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, MTV itself or even much smaller blogs), and photos.

Also specific to the 2.0 release is a partnership with Songkick, which allows you to find tour dates and purchase concert tickets directly from the app.

The goal of the service is to provide what senior director of product development Mark Mezrich called the “artist snacking experience,” which he defined as offering just enough for you to know if you want to dig deeper. Indeed, by offering just 30-seconds of each song you can only get a taste of the music. However, you can easily jump from the app to iTunes to make a quick song purchase.

Perhaps most impressive is MTV Music Meter’s database of music. It isn’t surprising to see acts like Gotye and Ellie Goulding, who have substantial backing from record labels. But when I search for one of my favorite local bands, Fort Lean, who self-released their EP last year, I find their music, including their new single and the dates for their upcoming tour.

Music Meter Search Function

For that reason, this app could be perfect for finding out about that opening band you saw and want to know more about.

In its current state, the Music Meter is somewhat limited. There’s no social integration, meaning you aren’t sharing and you aren’t getting what your friends are listening to. It would be interesting to be able to find artists on Twitter and Facebook directly from the app, which Mezrich said is in his team’s product road map.

Also of note is that Rhapsody is the sole music provider. “Our hope as the music streaming services evolve is to give our audience the option of what service they want to use in the app,” said Mezrich. One can imagine being able to preview a song in the app and then if you like it, choose to share to Twitter and then go directly to your Spotify account and listen to the whole thing.

MTV Music Meter isn’t quite there yet, but the early emphasis was on music discovery. Credit MTV for not trying to do too much. Even better, because of its partnership with 5 gum, the entire thing stays free. It will be interesting to see whether MTV turns this into a more social tool, but for now the interface is simple and effective.

More About: apps, mtv, Music, the-echo-nest

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iOS 5.1 Will Add Japanese Siri Support, New Lock Screen [REPORT]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:17 PM PST


A new report says Apple will push out an update to iOS in the coming weeks. Although not much is known about it, iOS 5.1 will add Japanese-language support for Siri, the digital voice assistant on the iPhone 4S, as well as a new lock screen that will make it easier to access the phone’s camera.

Boy Genius Report says it somehow got a look at Apple’s coming iOS 5.1 update, which it reports will be hitting the the streets around March 9. With the update, Apple continues to improve Siri, adding Japanese language support. The iPhone 4S has been available in Japan since October, but if the report is true soon its people will actually be able to the digital voice assistant. You might also want to get ready for a new wave of humorous viral videos surrounding Siri’s answers, possibly with more Manga references.

With iOS 5, first released to the public last fall, Apple added the ability to launch the camera app straight from the lock screen. Since camera-worthy moments often strike fast and evaporate just as quickly, being able to quickly switch the phone to camera mode was a great improvement. It brought iOS in line with competing mobile devices (such as many BlackBerry models, which have a dedicated button to launch the camera), and it addressed security by giving the user access to the camera only from the lock screen.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 iOS Apps of 2011

According to the report, calling up the camera from the lock screen is about to get even more immediate. Currently, iOS 5 users must double tap the home button and touch the onscreen camera icon. With iOS 5.1, all they’ll need to do is call up the home screen, which will have a permanent camera icon, and slide a finger upwards. It’s a minor change, but anything that cuts down the time to launch the camera can help capture those rare, unrepeatable moments.

Apple doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation, so we’ll just have to wait until early March to see if these upgrades are for real.

BONUS: The Best of iOS 5

1. Use Your Headset as a Remote Shutter Release

One of the nicest new features in iOS 5's Camera app for iPhone is the ability to use the volume key as a camera shutter release. It's the type of feature that just makes the phone feel more like a real point-and-shoot.

Our friends at MacRumors have let us know that the volume-up button on Apple-certified headsets can also be used to snap photos. Why is this cool? Because when paired with a mount or tripod such as the Glif, photographers can get better control, steadier shots, and do cooler stuff with their photos.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mbbirdy

More About: apple, cameraphone, iOS, iOS 5, ipad, iphone, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch, siri

Chinese iPad Workers Get Third Raise Since 2010

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:06 PM PST

Workers at Apple‘s Foxconn factories in China, the subjects of recent controversy, have received their third raise since 2010.

The raise comes as Apple is under fire for allegedly poor conditions at the Chinese manufacturing plants, which produce components for Apple devices. However, recent reports suggest the conditions in the Foxconn factories are far better than those of factories run by other companies.

Junior workers in Shenzhen received a pay increase of up to 1,800 yuan ($286) per month or 2,200 ($350) yuan per month for those who pass a skills test, Reuters reports. In comparison, the lowest-paid workers made 900 ($142) yuan per month just three years ago. A June 2010 raise brought salaries up by 30 percent.

“As a top manufacturing company in China, the basic salary of junior workers in all of Foxconn’s China factories is already far higher than the minimum wage set by all local governments,” the statement said. “We will provide more training opportunities and learning time, and will continuously enhance technology, efficiency and salary, so as to set a good example for the Chinese manufacturing industry.”

The recent bout of criticism of Apple’s Chinese factories began after The New York Times reported the workers were subject to unsafe conditions and long hours. Apple CEO Tim Cook then authorized the Fair Labor Association investigation which found conditions at Foxconn to be less severe than at other Chinese plants.

Do you think the FLA’s evaluation clears Apple’s name? Do you think industry wide investigations are needed? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy M.I.C. Gadget

More About: apple, china, Foxconn, ipad

Pinwheel Pins Your Notes to the World Map

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 11:36 AM PST

Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake unveiled her latest project on Friday, a startup called Pinwheel that lets users pin their notes to the world map.

“The notes can be public or private, shared with an individual, a group or everyone,” Fake explained on her blog. “They can be organized into sets, such as, say, the ‘Tales from the Road: KISS's 1974 Hotter Than Hell Tour,’ ‘Best Spots for Butterfly Hunting,’ ‘Every place that you told me that you loved me, circa 2008′ or ‘Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW.’”

Users who are participating in the invite-only private beta can follow people, places and “sets” of notes. Eventually they’ll be able to receive push notifications from yet-to-be-built native apps.

“Part of why making Pinwheel is so fun, is so exploding with possibility,” Fake says, “is that a note, like a photo, can be a container for all kinds of things. It is the perfect social object. Stories, advice, jokes, diatribes, information, memories, facts, advertisements, love letters, grocery lists and manifestos can all be put into a note.”

Notes can also, Pinwheel hopes, be easily monetized through a sponsored content model. A realtor has, for instance, started leaving sponsored notes on Pinwheel’s map about properties for sale.

Fake is best known for co-founding Flickr, which was purchased by Yahoo in 2005. Most recently she co-founded Hunch, a personalized recommendation engine that was acquired by eBay last year.

More About: Caterina Fake, flickr, Pinwheel

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3D Printer Brings Internet Memes Into the Real World [PICS]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 11:23 AM PST

1. Sad Keanu

Now you can physically place poor, sad Keanu anywhere you want. You can put him on your cubicle at work or your piano at home, apparently.

Click here to view this gallery.

Calling all nerds! Pop quiz: What’s better than a meme? A meme produced by a 3D printer (duh).

This week I stopped by Shapeways HQ in New York to learn about the company and the 3D printing technology. The staff there was showing off some of the fun little things they’ve produced, and a 3D printout of Nyan Cat struck our fancy. I returned to the Mashable office, Nyan Cat in hand, and shared it with fellow web dorks. We had but one thought: What if there were more 3D memes? Luckily, the Shapeways folks and their army of designers are a step ahead, and they’ve already got memes aplenty for sale in their marketplace. Take a gander at the images above and LOL at the beauty of web humor in three dimensions.

Brandon Smith contributed to this post.

More About: 3d printing, humor, Meme, nyan-cat, Pirate Bay, sad keanu, Tech, trending, viral

Web App Analyzes Tweets in Real Time for a Record of Historic Events

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 10:59 AM PST

Mobile Protests

If you’ve tweeted a lot about the Occupy movement, the Syrian Protests or the Egyptian Revolution, Twitris may have considered what you said and recorded it.

Dr. Amit P. Sheth, director of the Kno.e.sis Center in Dayton, Ohio, developed the idea for Twitter research when he was monitoring what was happening in India as the Mumbai terrorist attacks unfolded in 2008. Sheth and students at Wright State University built Twitris, a web app that analyzes what’s being said on social media about natural disasters as they happen, current events and ongoing national news like the 2012 election.

In addition to providing general sentiments, Twitris also pulls news articles, Wikipedia articles and other Internet data to help readers better understand a particular event.

Related popular topics, hashtags, users and multimedia content — images and video — are collected on an interface that acts like a time capsule. Older events are archived, but searches for popular users, hashtags, places and sentiment analysis are available for further research or curiosity.

SEE ALSO: New Chrome Plugin Gives Instant Sentiment Analysis for Twitter Search Terms

About 46.5 million tweets from 4.7 million Twitter users have been processed. From the Occupy Wall Street events, about 4.1 million tweets were collected, so far.

To get the most accurate sentiments report, the team also incorporated slang and online urban dictionaries to hone in on Twitter sarcasm.

“For media, it provides [an] excellent opportunity to summarize [an] event, as well as monitor the evolution of the event from multiple dimensions,” Sheth said.

Twitris has analyzed 40 events including the Iran Election in 2009, Haiti Earthquake in 2010 and Occupy Wall Street starting at the end of 2011.

While the media gives an overarching account of events, said the Twitris development team, Twitris provides a deeper picture by summarizing social media data and by collecting news and multimedia.

For now, the team decides which events to follow. All tweets are collected automatically by the system by scanning Twitter’s streaming API, according to Dr. Sheth.

In the future, the team hopes to make a system with more search options. Election 2012 coverage on Twitris will debut in the next few weeks.

Are you curious to see what the world is saying about a particular event? Will you use Twitris? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Palinopsia_Films

More About: apps, Media, Mobile, Occupy Wall Street, Social Media, Twitter, web applications

LLC vs. S Corp: Which Is Right for Your Startup?

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 10:29 AM PST

Choosing the right business structure can be a daunting task for the small business owner or entrepreneur. You may have heard that the traditional C Corporation is overkill for most small businesses, and results in higher overall tax payments through something known as double taxation. But if the C Corporation isn't right, then what is?

In my last post, I discussed how the LLC (limited liability company) and S Corporation are popular structures for small businesses since they avoid this double taxation burden. With these business structures, the company is taxed like a sole proprietor or partnership, meaning the company itself doesn't file its own taxes; all company profits are “passed through” and reported on the personal income tax return of the shareholders or, in the case of an LLC, the members.

Most importantly, both the LLC and S Corp will separate your personal assets from any liabilities of the company (whether from an unhappy customer, unpaid supplier, or anyone else who might pursue legal action).

The similarities between these two business entities are significant, but the differences can be even more striking. While circumstances vary for each individual and his or her business, here are some general guidelines to help you understand the differences and their impact on your business.

1. Business Formality

With its roots as a C Corporation, the S Corporation involves structure, formalities and compliance obligations, which can be too burdensome for the solo entrepreneur, in other words, a "payroll of one." If you incorporate as an S Corporation, you need to set up a board of directors, file annual reports and other business filings, hold shareholder's meetings, keep records of your meeting minutes, and generally operate at a higher level of regulatory compliance than your business might need or want to deal with. With the LLC, this isn't the case. LLCs just use an informal operating agreement.

What to know: If you want less red tape and formality, the LLC can provide greater simplicity.

2. Who Can Be a Shareholder?

The S Corporation has more restrictions in terms of who can be a shareholder. For example, an S Corp cannot have more than 100 shareholders. Of course, this limitation is probably not of much consequence to many small businesses. In addition, all individual shareholders of an S Corp must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

What to know: If you have foreign owners (or would like an LLC to be a shareholder), you cannot form an S Corporation and should opt for the LLC.

3. Income Allocation

In an LLC, income and loss can be allocated disproportionately among the owners. By contrast, in the S Corp, income and loss are assigned to each shareholder strictly based on their pro-rata shares of ownership.

This is an important distinction to understand. For example, let's say Sally and Heidi open a micro-brewery, each owning 50%. As the year progresses, Sally needs to focus her time elsewhere, while Heidi does all the work. Their business becomes more profitable than they ever imagined, and they want to divide up the profits. Because Heidi has put in the bulk of the work, the two decide she should keep 75% of the profits, and Sally should get 25%.

With an LLC, this type of agreement is fine. The two owners simply agree to the arrangement and they will be taxed accordingly to their “operating agreement.”

But this type of flexible arrangement won't work with an S Corporation. Because Sally and Heidi are each 50% owners, each will be allocated 50% of the corporation's income, at least when it comes to computing income tax.

What to know: If you need flexibility when it comes to divvying up profits among owners, the LLC is the preferred structure.

4. Pass-Through Losses

With LLCs and S Corporations, members and shareholders are able to pass company losses to their personal income reporting. In some circumstances, the LLC lets you pass more loss than in an S Corporation, most notably when it comes to real estate. In an LLC used for real estate investments, members are allowed to add the amount of the mortgage to their basis for the purpose of computing a loss. Clearly, that can add up to a significant difference in your tax statement. 

What to know: If you're setting up a business structure for real estate investments, the LLC lets you write off more losses on your personal tax reporting.

5. Class of Stock

In an S Corporation, all shareholders own only one class of stock. An S Corporation can have voting and non-voting shares, but cannot have distinctions like common stock and preferred stock. In an LLC, however, these priorities and preferences are allowed, and you can have different membership classes.

What to know: You cannot offer common and preferred stock classes in an S Corporation. Thus, if you'd like flexibility in ownership classification, go with the LLC.

6. Reinvesting Profits

There's another twist regarding the LLC, S Corp and your taxes. As pass-through entities, individual owners of an S Corporation or LLC are liable for any taxes owed on profits — whether that money is retained in the company or put in their wallets.

For example, if you own 50% of an S Corporation or LLC and that company makes $80,000 in profit, you need to report $40,000 in income on your personal tax return. And it doesn't matter whether that $40,000 actually ended up in your pocket. This is known as "phantom income," and can obviously cause a problem for some shareholders.

What to know: If you plan on retaining money in the company (and would prefer not to have shareholders be personally taxed on this money), you should consider the C Corporation over both the LLC and S Corp. Of course, your specific situation may vary, so it's always best to consult your accountant.

7. VC Funding

If your company is considering raising venture capital down the road, VC firms will most likely choose the C Corporation as the type of legal entity for their investments. This doesn't necessarily mean your business needs to start as a C Corp, but be advised: If you are considering raising venture capital and start out with an LLC or an S Corp, you will need to convert the business to a C Corp (if your state allows conversions) at some point. This conversion will require additional filings and fees within your state. If you choose this route, you may want to consider the S Corp as your option, since converting an S Corp to a C Corp can be done in a day with a single tax form (you're basically unchecking the box for S Corp tax election on an IRS form).

Choosing the right business structure is a multi-faceted decision, and will ultimately depend on all the unique aspects of your particular business needs, vision and circumstances. And remember that tax treatment varies between states.

Consulting with an accountant or tax advisor can go a long way in helping you determine which business structure offers the biggest advantage for your situation. Take note that the deadline to elect S Corp treatment is March 15 for existing companies (or 75 days from the day your company is formed). Get your legal structure squared away early on, and your company will be set for years to come.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang, hidesy

More About: Business, Corporation, features, incorporation, Small Business

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Hands on With Messages for OS X Mountain Lion

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 10:12 AM PST

Apple may have killed off iChat with Thursday’s announcement of OS X Mountain Lion, but the company replaced it with something even better: Messages.

Currently available in beta for OS X Lion users, Messages takes the best parts of iChat and adds in support for iMessage, the instant-messaging service Apple introduced in iOS 5.

We’ve spent some time playing with Messages for OS X and we’re impressed with its feature list. In addition to supporting iMessage, Messages also supports other instant messaging services, including AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and Jabber. Users can also make integrated FaceTime calls within the application.

To use the iMessage portion of Messages, users need to set up or sign in with an Apple ID. In the beta, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to login with multiple Apple IDs, which might make the tool problematic for users who share a computer (but don’t use different user accounts) or for people like me with multiple Apple IDs.

The interface is clean and Apple has brought linen to the Messages party. All of your favorite iChat features are here but the layout makes the app feel new and more modern. Apple has embraced the unified contact list — long a standard feature of open source OS X IM client Adium. The end result is that it doesn’t matter what service a person on your contact list is using; you can chat with them without thinking.

SEE ALSO: Apple OS X Mountain Lion: Top 15 New Features

The iMessage functionality is what really sets Messages apart from its iChat roots, so that’s what I’ve focused on. I’m happy to say that it works great. I was able to receive messages on my phone from people on Messages for Mac and send messages right back to them. I also had success sending messages to a user’s email address (that is associated with iMessage) and a phone number (also associated with an iMessage account). Just as with iOS, Messages doesn’t distinguish between a phone number or email address, though you can choose what contact source you want to use when sending a message.

Likewise, I’ve had entire conversations with my iOS friends all while on my Mac. If you are signed into the same account on an iPhone/iPod/iPad as in Messages for Mac, you’ll see your conversation everywhere. That means that when you get a message in OS X, it will also show up on your phone (and vice versa). This is a great feature, but it might be annoying for some users who are engaged in long conversations and have a phone nearby. In the final release, we’d like to see Apple introduce a toggle that will “silence” phone/tablet messages when a user is using the desktop app. Because iMessage conversations are ostensibly stored in iCloud, you can very easily view a history of your entire conversation (whether it started on iOS or OS X) on either platform.

Mac to iPhone

Messages lets users communicate with users in iOS (or in OS X) using iMessage.

Lance is on his iPhone while I am on my Mac.

Click here to view this gallery.

As someone who had AIM accounts on her phone as far back 2002 or 2003 (to the extent that I had a separate account just for my phone), fusing a desktop messaging client with mobile messaging initially didn’t strike me as that big of a deal. After all, Google lets users send text messages from Gmail and for those that use Google Voice, you can bring ubiquitous messaging across devices — what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it is simple and it works. The only thing that would be better would be if full IM capabilities came to Messages in iOS.

One important thing to note — at least in the beta, if someone sends a message specifically to a phone number associated with an iMessage account, that message is not delivered to Messages for Mac. Hopefully we’ll see this worked out in the final version of the product.

Messages is still in beta but for OS X Lion users — especially if you or family members use iOS 5 — it’s worth the download. You can get it directly from Apple. What do you think of Messages?

More About Mountain Lion

More About: apple, chat, features, ichat, imessage, instant message, messages, os x mountain lion, trending

Gnip Authorized to Sell Access to Historical Tweets [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 09:56 AM PST

Twitter is about the here-and-now, but data aggregator Gnip thinks users might be interested in the past, too.

Gnip announced on Tuesday it will be the first company to offer a 30-day history of tweets. Want to see who searched for a particular topic two weeks ago? Or, what topic was trending a month ago? Now, Gnip will offer that service — for a fee.

Gnip COO Chris Moody told AllThingsD that it’s difficult to estimate the cost of historical tweets because the service will be offered with existing products.

Gnip can provide up to 30 days of tweets (currently, you can only search as far back as one week ago). The “bread-and-butter” of their business is social media monitoring companies, Moody said. Reaching a month back in Twitter could help these companies better pin-point campaigns, target pitches and get a general sense of what the Twitterverse is buzzing about.

“In fact, Gnip works with 8 of 9 of the top social media monitoring companies,” he said. “These companies work with big brands to understand what is being said about them in social media.”

Gnip is seeing a growing number of companies in the financial community utilizing social media data. It works with about a dozen large hedge funds who use Twitter data for sentiment analysis and research on individual stocks. Gnip is also serving clients in business intelligence, government and ad tech, Moody said.

Twitter opened-up its “firehose” — a full data feed of all public tweets — to seven start-ups in 2010. This data gleamed from the firehose is made possible by Twitter’s Streaming API.

Gnip, based in Colorado, provides social media data. Gnip was the first company authorized to resell Twitter’s data in 2010. Gnip is working with the Library of Congress to add historical tweets.

“Obviously, this is a new method of archiving for them and they’re still working on the technical challenges of making that data available,” Moody said.

Facebook’s Timeline also allows users to get a better glimpse of past happenings and conversations.

How do you think businesses will benefit from accessing 30 days of Twitter data? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RomanOkopny

More About: gnip, trending, tweets, Twitter

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Apple vs. Google: Who Owns Slide-to-Unlock on Phones?

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 09:39 AM PST


Both iPhones and Android devices unlock in the same way: with the user sliding his or her finger along part of the screen. That simple function has prompted a huge amount of legal wrangling, with both Apple and Google (by proxy of its recent acquisition, Motorola) scoring victories over the ownership of “slide-to-unlock” on phones in the past week.

A German court ruled in Apple’s favor on Thursday — twice — on separate allegations that Motorola Mobility had infringed on Apple’s patents on slide-to-unlock. A Munich regional court said certain Motorola phones infringed on the German part of a broader European patent. It’s Apple’s first patent victory over Motorola ever.

The rulings affect the Motorola Flipout, Milestone, Milestone XT720 and Defy. Although the rulings open the door for Apple to block the sale of those devices in Germany, Motorola has already said the judgment would have no impact on sales since it was planning to implement a new way to unlock the phone that wouldn’t infringe on Apple’s patent.

What that new unlocking method would be isn’t clear, and Motorola, which was recently acquired by Google, has said it will appeal the ruling. If it does end up needing to change how its phones unlock, however, a recent patent awarded to Google could be a clue.

SEE ALSO: Apple MacBook Air Patented; Beware, Ultrabook Makers

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month awarded Google a patent on a certain type of slide-to-unlock (excerpts are viewable in the gallery below). Among the many points covered in the patent, there’s one that specifies the user might slide an icon (from a choice of icons) in a certain direction to simiultaneously unlock the device and launch an app, such as email. There’s also a provision for unlocking the device by voice.

Such unlocking methods clearly aren’t present on Apple’s iOS devices and would theoretically put Motorola products in the clear. However, Florian Mueller of Foss Patents suspects that as Apple tightens its grip over slide-to-unlock, there may be a general “degradation of the user experience” on Android devices.

What do you think is the best way to unlock a phone? Let us know in the comments.

Google Slide-to-Unlock Schematic

A schematic diagram that shows an example of a system for initiating an action while unlocking a device.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: android, apple, Google, iphone, Motorola, patents, smartphones

Yelp Set to Go Public March 2 in $100 Million IPO [REPORT]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:58 AM PST

Yelp‘s $100 million IPO is set for March 2, according to a report.

Dow Jones is reporting the company plans to sell 7.15 million shares to the public at $12 to $14 each. That means the company’s market cap could hit $838.6 million in the high end, which is lower than the $1.5 billion to $2 billion that had been previously reported. Yelp will go public about two months before Facebook’s long-awaited IPO, which is set for late May, according to AllThingsD.

The report comes after Yelp hired Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to lead its IPO effort last November. The company, known for its collection of user-generated reviews of local businesses, had announced its plans to go public last April. Previously, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman had said he wouldn't consider an IPO for "several years." Yelp also turned down a $500 million takeover bid from Google in early 2010.

Yelp’s stocks will be the first on sale from a high-profile social media company in 2012. It follows a handful of others last year, most of which were considered to be disappointments. The most recent such IPO, Zynga’s, fell 50 cents on its opening day to $9.50. The stock is currently trading at around $12.50, however.

How Yelp’s IPO will fare remains to be seen. The company’s prospectus, released last November, revealed that the company is not yet profitable, but has exhibited strong growth.

Other highlights from the prospectus:

  • Yelp had 22 million reviews on its network in September, an increase of 66% over the comparable period in 2010. The average review has more than 100 words.
  • The company’s website got 61 million unique visitors that month, up 63% over the year-ago period.
  • Five million mobile devices accessed Yelp in September.
  • There are 529,000 business locations that are on Yelp, up 114%.
  • The company posted $58.4 million in revenue for the first nine months of this year, up 80% over the comparable period in 2010.
  • Yelp posted a net loss of $7.6 million for that period.
  • The bulk of Yelp’s revenues — $40.3 million for the first nine months of 2010 — comes from local advertising. Another $12.7 million is from brand advertising, while the remainder — $5.4 million — is from “other services.” This includes the recently scaled back Yelp Deals offering.
  • Sales and marketing comprise $38.5 million of Yelp’s expenses.
  • See also: How 2011′s social media IPOs fared:

    1. Yandex (YNDX) -20.8% from its IPO Price

    Yandex, a Russian search engine, raised $1.3 billion when it went public in May, making it the biggest social media IPO of the year.

    Click here to view this gallery.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, gmutlu

    More About: Facebook, IPOs, trending, yelp, Zynga

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20 Colleges Where Internet Memes Are All the Rage

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:38 AM PST

1. Boston University

Facebook Page: BU Memes

Number of Likes on Page: 6,678

Click here to view this gallery.

Like campus gossip, memes are spreading throughout social channels — particularly on Facebook — at an unusually rapid pace this month.

Students across the U.S. have created several dozen Facebook pages in February just for people to post memes tailored for their specific schools. In the gallery above, you’ll see some of the best memes from 20 of those pages, including the cleverly titled Texas A&Memes and the most-liked page, UTexas Memes.

While memes are nothing new on most campuses, the widespread use of them to represent an individual campus’s culture has undeniably heated up, and simultaneously at that.

At Northwestern University in Illinois, for example, student journalists at independent online publication North by Northwestern have noticed the acceleration of meme creation in 2012.

“People feel plugged in to this production of laughs based off school culture,” the website’s Life & Style assistant editor Gabe Bergado told Mashable. “I first noticed memes related to Northwestern culture on my News Feed this year. Random friends would make their own, but it wasn’t until the NU Memes Facebook page was launched did a mass production of Northwestern-connected memes begin.”

His editor in chief Nolan Feeney notes that memes don’t necessarily have to rip on the school community.

“They’re also about identifying and recognizing what’s unique to us as a student body,” says Feeney, whose meme-friendly publication has used them in headlines and even wrote a news story in memes. “I think memes wouldn’t have struck such a chord with students if they didn’t shed light on what the shared experience is.”

SEE ALSO: 29 Meme-Inspired Movie Posters | Best Memes of 2011 | Meme Marriage Proposal

The NU Memes Facebook page cropped up after a popular bar among students lost its liquor license at the hands of the city. Feeney says people created memes of the mayor to express students’ disapproval.

“New events and scandals will probably be what helps create ideas for memes” says Bergado. “I think the jokes are evergreen, but the craze will probably die down soon. We might see an insurgence during finals week, though.”

Did your school make it into our gallery? If not, share a link to your school’s Facebook page in the comments below. If so, did we pick your page’s best meme? Share your favorite memes in the comments, too!

Your submissions could be used in a follow-up story highlighting more Facebook pages.

More About: college, education, Facebook, features, memes, Social Media, trending

Congress May Auction Airwaves to Expand Wireless Internet [UPDATED]

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:26 AM PST

If Congress passes a proposed payroll tax extension plan, it will have an unexpected effect on the world of mobile broadband. To partially fund the tax cuts, the government will auction off public airwaves, now being used for television broadcasts, to expand wireless Internet access nationwide.

UPDATE: As of 12:25 p.m. ET, Congress has passed the bill and it awaits President Obama’s signature. For more from the Associated Press, click here.

The $100 billion compromise bill, finished Thursday but not yet put to a vote, would extend a 2% payroll tax cut and maintain unemployment benefits for people unable to find a job for a long stretch of time.

According to The New York Times, $25 billion of that cut will come from auctioning off spectrum to wireless providers, such as Verizon Wireless or AT&T.

Getting more spectrum into the hands of wireless providers should allow them to create faster, more expansive networks for people who use smartphones, iPads and other devices that bring the Internet to the palm of a user’s hand. And that would mean more economic growth for the U.S., according to lawmakers in favor of the deal.

“With 13 million Americans still seeking employment, job creation is a driving force behind efforts to expand wireless broadband," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) in a joint statement. "Spectrum auctions are not only good public policy for the communications and technology sector, they will produce meaningful job creation when we need it most.”

$1.75 billion will be given to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to pay television stations that agree to take a new position on the wireless spectrum. That would allow the Commission to auction larger (and therefore more valuable) continuous blocks of spectrum.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, said in a statement that he was “pleased that Congress has recognized the vital importance of freeing up more spectrum for mobile broadband,” while also warning that the bill may not allow the FCC to “maximize” the utility of the actioned spectrum.

SEE ALSO: FCC Chair Tackles Spectrum, Broadband and Weighs in on SOPA [VIDEO]

The bill doesn’t allow the FCC to prohibit major wireless providers, which already own a large swath of spectrum, from taking part in the auction. However, the bill does allow the FCC to limit the amount of spectrum a company can hold in a particular market.

The plan would also create a dedicated first responders’ network as well as unlicensed airwaves around the auctioned spectrum. That buffer zone could be used for setting up Wi-Fi in cities or to lessen the strain on a wireless network experiencing an unusual level of stress.

The bill is expected to come to a final vote in the House and Senate on Friday. President Obama, who has previously championed the idea of selling spectrum to enhance national wireless broadband access, said he would sign the bill as soon as it reaches the Oval Office.

What do you think of Congress’s plan to auction off wireless spectrum? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Olena_T

More About: congress, internet, Wireless, wireless internet

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Beyond Burberry: How London Fashion Week Is Ramping Up Digital

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 08:14 AM PST

Burberry might be the hot ticket when it comes to pioneering digital initiatives during London Fashion Week, but that doesn't mean a wealth of other British brands aren't giving it a go as well.

Participating fashion and media brands are once again focusing on reaching mass consumer audiences throughout the week. More shows than ever before — 46 in sum — are being live-streamed from Feb. 17 to 21 via the British Fashion Council. Consumers can watch both online or, if in town, on the outdoor LED screen at LFW headquarters at Somerset House. Highlights will also be displayed on screens in the London Underground, which will include commentary from Twitter and behind-the-scenes shots from a dedicated backstage photographer.

Similar content will also be available through the Aurasma app, first launched for the spring/summer collections in September. This initiative enables anyone to access to additional video content simply by scanning either the LFW logo or the cover of the LFW Daily newspaper.

The aim of all these efforts, says the Council, is to enable access for everyone from anywhere.

Vogue‘s digital billboard will bring highlights from London Fashion Week to Westfield Mall.

Vogue is aiding the charge with an out-of-home experience of its own. The British edition of the title is taking its authoritative editorial to a giant digital screen at Westfield London shopping mall for the week, as shown in the video above. The screen will feature four one-minute highlight reels on rotation from all the previous day's shows, alongside real-time commentary from the @BritishVogue Twitter handle and behind-the-scenes footage.

Topshop is bringing some of London Fashion Week to mobile with an upgraded app that allows users to live-stream fashion shows directly to their mobile phones from the Topshop show space. Those on offer will include Mary Katrantzou (whose collection for Topshop launches Friday), Peter Pilotto, Meadham Kirchhoff, Louise Gray, Michael Van Der Ham and Topshop Unique. QR codes in the store's Oxford Circus flagship windows and in its 'zine 214 mag will activate the livestream. The codes will also provide access to other content, including makeup tutorials, backstage videos and a new film by Nick Knight starring model Karlie Kloss.

You’ll also be able to find Fashion Week coverage on emerging platforms like Pinterest, where Dazed magazine will be posting favorite trends from the week, as well as Instagram (see Dazed‘s and Burberry’s accounts in particular.)

Greater Opportunities for Online Engagement

Grazia is releasing a week-long series of documentary shorts as editors put together the spring issue.

Consumers won’t just have greater opportunities to watch London Fashion Week; they’ll also be able to engage more directly with the people behind the shows.

Throughout the week, the official @LondonFashionWk Twitter account will host live chats with industry greats, including designers Anya Hindmarch and Alice Temperley, as well as GQ editor Dylan Jones, by using the #AskLFW hashtag.

Grazia magazine is going several steps further, providing readers and online fans with full behind-the-scenes access to its editorial process on YouTube. Cameras from content agency Gravity Road are following editors 24 hours per day to put together the series of week-long videos, dubbed "Grazia's Fashion Issue… Live!" Editors are also inviting readers to get involved, calling for them to send in their comments and vote on what makes it into the publication, including the cover shot. The issue will hit newsstands on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and will be accompanied by a 30-minute version of the documentary.

If there's anyone giving consumers real control over how the fashion industry operates, however, it's Harrods. Following a similar initiative from U.S. retailer Bergdorf Goodman last season, the luxury department store is putting the buying decision into the hands of its Facebook fans next week, when it will post every look from the Burberry show on its Page. The images that get the most Likes on Facebook will be incorporated into the store's buy for the season, in a test to see whether Facebook can help brands determine a collection’s bestseller items.

Making It Fun

Elsewhere, the focus is on using technology to provide consumers with thematic but entertaining content.

In a bid to promote itself in the UK market, French beauty brand Bourjois has turned to gamification. Working with immersive designers SlingShot, the company is launching a game called Spot the Belle, which is based on a treasure hunt concept.

Users are tasked with finding the GPS-tracked Bourjois Belle out on the streets of Shoreditch in London's East End. They'll be able to see her location on Facebook every day. Then, between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. GMT, fans can take the quest into the real world by using a live map on their mobile phones. Once they do, they'll be directed to the Bourjois Boutique to claim free products.

Meanwhile, department store Selfridges is launching its new Women's Designer Galleries in time for fashion week. Alongside eight new designer boutiques and a floor full of edgier young designers, this space includes a focus on in-store technology, with the unveiling of a next-generation fitting room.

Here, a central spot featuring three mirrors, allows shoppers to capture an image or short video of themselves. They can then compare different outfits by playing them back simultaneously and sharing them with friends for feedback. The space also includes a digital art gallery that features the work of British artist Daniel Brown, who is known for his interactive installations.

As you can see, there’s a great many things happening with digital this London Fashion Week. From video billboards to mobile apps and in-store experiences, brands and retailers are using digital to draw consumer audiences into what is essentially a trade event. What remains to be seen is the route Burberry takes on Monday.

Image courtesy of the London Fashion Week

More About: fashion, gamification, interactive, london fashion week, Social Media

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