Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Now Available”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Now Available”

BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Now Available

Posted: 21 Feb 2012 03:00 AM PST

RIM has announced the availability of BlackBerry OS 2.0 for its PlayBook tablet.

The new version of the OS brings social integration with services such as Facebook and Twitter, speedier operation with the help of real-time multitasking and several new/improved productivity tools including Print to Go and Documents To Go, which lets you view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

BlackBerry OS 2.0 for PlayBook also packs native calendar, contacts and messages apps – something the initial version sorely lacked.

BlackBerry Bridge is another new feature that lets you seamlessly switch between screens of your BlackBerry smartphone and the PlayBook. It also lets you use your smartphone as a keyboard and mouse for the tablet.

Alongside this update, RIM now also offers many new apps in the BlackBerry App World, which includes a couple of Android apps that work on the PlayBook.

BlackBerry PlayBook users can get the new OS by checking for updates in “Settings.”

[BlackBerry PlayBook]

More About: blackberry, BlackBerry OS 2.0, playbook, research in motion, RIM

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How to See Facebook Birthdays in Google Calendar

Posted: 21 Feb 2012 01:06 AM PST

1. Facebook Events

Head to your Facebook home page. Click on "Events," which you'll see in the left-hand menu.

Click here to view this gallery.

One of Facebook‘s most useful features is the way it alerts you to the birthdays of all your buddies. Did you know that you can export this valuable data to other calendar applications?

Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar will all happily accept your exported Facebook info. We’ve pulled together a quick how-to for transferring the data to Google Calendar.

SEE ALSO: How to Fine Tune Your Facebook News Feed | 10 Google Calendar Tricks to Boost Productivity

Take a look at our gallery walk-through. Let us know in the comments below if you’ll be exporting your buddies’ birthday.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Will Clayton

More About: Facebook, features, Google, Google Calendar, How-To

5 Places to Get Digital Textbooks

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 08:54 PM PST

The days of shuffling that 10-pound textbook to class or those countless fiction novels in your backpack are slowly but steadily coming to a close. With ebooks, your wallet may gain a few pounds as well, as you will be spending a lot less money on books.

Check out these five digital text services. With synchronized convenience and interactive, cost-effective methods, life is on its way to becoming a little bit easier for readers on the go.

1. Project Gutenberg

Considered a digital library with more than 38,000 free ebooks individually digitized by volunteers, this site offers cultural works and literary classics in plain text, HTML and PDF formats. Users are able to search for books by category, most popular or by simply typing in the title.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: ebooks, features, Tech

10 Awesome Animated Google+ Profiles [VIDEOS]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 08:29 PM PST

1. Dunken K Bliths

As the current king of the animated G+ profile with his role as resident artist at profile pimping company JustBusiness, Dunken's own profile doesn't disappoint.

Click here to view this gallery.

We’ve seen some great Google+ profile hacks, but there’s a new breed of design in town — the animated Google+ profile.

Pioneered by Dunken K Bliths, whose creations dominate our gallery, the animations create a real splash when you first land on someone’s Google+ profile page.

SEE ALSO: Trick Out Your Pinterest Boards With This Simple Hack

Take a look through our gallery of awesome animations. Link us in the comments to any other good ones you’ve seen on the social service.

More About: features, gallery, Google, photography

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Virtual Wish List ‘All I Really Want’ Brings Back the Joy of Giving

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 07:57 PM PST

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

The Joy of GivingName: All I Really Want

Quick Pitch: Make virtual wish lists on AllIReallyWant.me and receive gifts you won’t want to return.

Genius Idea: All I Really Want is an item aggregator — like a simplified Pinterest — where you can list anything from shoes, school supplies, your favorite charities, vacation packages and practically anything else.

We’ve all received sweaters that don’t quite fit and pants we are afraid to wear in public. Yes, it is the thought that costs, but knowing exactly what will make people happy will make for better birthdays and holidays. All I Really Want takes the mystery out of gift giving.

A simple and practical CMS lets you curate a variety of lists. You can create a birthday present wish list, a Valentine’s Day list for a significant other or more specific lists for things like school supplies.

Founders Andrew Thomka-Gazdik, an attorney based in Florida, and Julia Collins, a New York-based business developer, really wanted to take all the guesswork out of buying presents for members of their large families and friend circles.

When best friends keep falling out of love with their one-time favorite designers and their nieces and nephews’ toy collections grow until it’s hard to buy something they don’t already have, All I Really Want guarantees you’re the best gift giver.

“It’s hard to keep track of everyone’s age and what they want. I said, ‘I wish everyone had to register themselves online, so you could give them exactly that,’” says Collins, about the dinnertime conversation that sprouted the idea of the duo’s first startup.

The two founders developed the app in time for Collins to use it during this year’s round of secret Santa. Her entire family joined in, which helped guide an aunt from California to the two-finger “love” ring she wanted badly.

All I Really Want makes gift giving easy because the process of making virtual gifts is fun. Similar to Pinterest, individuals get to pin up what they like and show the world their taste, but more overtly in this case.

All I Really Want

Simply create a profile, find the URLs to items online, add them to the list and share your list with anyone by email, Twitter or Facebook. Once shared, people can “Grant a Wish,” which crosses out the item on the virtual wish list.

“It allows anyone in the world to tell people what inspires them and share that with people in their lives,” Collins said.

It can also be used as a planning tool. For trips, simply lay out how airline tickets compare, various hotel rates and car rentals. Share the list on social media networks for suggestions and feedback from friends. All I Really Want can also be used instead of a traditional department store registry for a wedding or baby shower.

“Essentially the genius behind the site is it is a virtual gift registry, we don’t hold inventory,” Thomka-Gazdik says. There are no advertising or referral benefits for the company, as they focus on building the product.

It was built with the help of suggestions from a peer-testing group of family and friends. The next phase is to release a free All I Really Want iPhone App. With the mobile application, individuals can fill out their virtual wish lists on the go, passing by a store window or a local boutique and snapping a picture of something they like.

The sky’s the limit with the current model, the creators say. The duo are hoping to create the ultimate shopping experience after introducing the ultimate wish list. Collins suggested something like Rent the Runway where professional stylists or tastemakers can suggest items for you.

All I Really Want is up against Amazon’s Wish List, one of the first of its kind, Wishlistr.com and Wishpot.com in the virtual wishlist market, but the creators believe All I Really Want is compelling to users with its simplistic design.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: All I Really Want, bizspark, Business, online shopping, shopping, startup

10 Creative Pinterest Board Hacks by Mashable Readers

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 06:52 PM PST

1. Audrey Julienne

Pinterest user Julienne captured Philadelphia's famous city hall building. It looks like she applied some Instagram filter magic too!

Click here to view this gallery.

Earlier this week, we shared how to trick out your Pinterest Boards with a simple hack. Then, we asked you to share your own creations. And that’s exactly what you did!

Take a look through the gallery for our favorite submissions from you, the Mashable community. People sliced, diced and arranged all kinds of images onto their Pinterest Boards — inspiring art, vintage photographs, silly pets and even (gasp!) bad words.

SEE ALSO: Trick Out Your Pinterest Boards With This Simple Hack

As always, we’d love for you to continue sharing your creations in the comments below. And let us know which of the above is your favorite.

More About: community, features, hack, pinterest, trending

Harvard Makes Robot Bees [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 06:25 PM PST

Bio-inspired bees made from stacks of carbon fiber are buzzing right off the production line at Harvard’s Microrobotics Lab.

Why build robot insects? The new mass-production technique is a huge step forward in constructing high-power switches, optical systems and electromechanical devices. Earlier bug prototypes were carefully built by the researchers with glue and by hand, which was too tedious and error-prone.

It took years for the Harvard researchers, a part of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, to develop the U.S. quarter-sized robots with flying capabilities. It was a difficult task to build something made out of so many metals, joints and scaffolding that could move organically.

“This takes what is a craft, an artisanal process, and transforms it for automated mass production,” says Pratheev Sreetharan, who co-developed the technique with J. Peter Whitney.

The prototype is called the Monolithic Bee (or MoBee). These micro-robots, made from 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton, titanium, brass and ceramic within adhesive sheets, are capable of rising to bee form similar like a pop-up book. The science of the MoBee has huge implications for the creation of robots and devices in the future.

Tell us in the comments below what you would build with this mass-production robotic technique.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

More About: biotechnology, Robot, Video

Upvote This: Reddit Users Are Writing a Law to Protect the Internet

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 05:55 PM PST

Redditors are well known for posting memes, self-referencing jokes and collecting upvotes and karma. But writing legislation to protect the Internet? That’s something new, and it’s happening at “r/fia,” a Reddit community that’s writing the Free Internet Act, or FIA.

The goal of the act is stated on the sidebar of the subreddit:

“To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by preventing the restriction of liberty and preventing the means of censorship. FIA will allow internet users to browse freely without any means of censorship, users have the right to free speech and to free knowledge; we govern the content of the internet, governments don’t. However enforcements/laws must also be put into place to protect copyrighted content.”

Austrian Reddit user and apparent Pulp Fiction aficionado “RoyalWithCheese22″ started FIA. Royal’s inspiration came from concern about global internet censorship and bills such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act).

“My initial idea came up when I noticed all these laws popping up,” says Royal. “I got the impression it's a worldwide trend of people trying to clamp down on the Internet. I thought, inspired by the recent success Reddit had with SOPA and PIPA, maybe I should suggest another solution to this. One that not just deals with a single law or proposed treaty but one that handles all of that.”

Royal was quick to point out that while he may be a moderator of the subreddit, he doesn’t proclaim himself to be the director of the FIA movement.

“I'm not the leader, this is a real community project,” he says. “Whatever the community decides will be done.”

Another Reddit user, “Downing_Street_Cat” (who hails from the UK) saw Royal’s original FIA post and started the subreddit dedicated to the cause.

“We're aiming to create a piece of legislation that's international and that promotes Internet freedom that prevents bills such as SOPA and ACTA,” says Downing_Street_Cat.

The current draft reads like a cross between a congressional bill and an international treaty.

FIA calls for protecting the Internet against government censorship and protecting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and users from being held liable for hosting or viewing copyrighted content without their knowledge. It demands network neutrality, while also calling for users to receive notification before data is removed from “web pages or cloud storage.”

After those provisions, which sound like they could be found in domestic legislation, FIA gets international. It states that “laws of individual countries (who have signed this treaty) shall not be applicable to the Internet,” and “no country shall have reigning power over the Internet.” It also completely bars extradition for Internet-related crimes, requiring those convicted of a crime to be tried “in the court of their residing country.”

“I hope for a global treaty,” says Royal. “A global treaty to guarantee Internet freedom, to guarantee there will not be excessive censorship and third party liability.”

It remains to be seen whether the provisions of FIA stand a chance of making it into law. And neither Royal nor Downing_Street_Cat want the community to be closed to legal experts only.

“We want to make it open source so anyone can join,” says Downing_Street_Cat.

As for Royal, he sees FIA as an undertaking in preserving democracy.

“The Internet is just a means to get what I really want,” he says. “My main goal is democracy. I think the Internet is one of the greatest inventions ever made. It's the first time I see a real possibility for democracy in the world.”

It’s not entirely unexpected that the Reddit community would organize such an innovative political undertaking. Redditors were instrumental in drumming up online opposition to SOPA and PIPA, and the site was one of the first to announce a Jan. 18 blackout to protest those bills. And “pro-Internet” politicians, such as Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, have made “AMA” appearances (a public, text-based Interview) on Reddit.

Crowdsourcing legislation is not new, either. Last year, citizens of Iceland crowdsourced a new constitution. Royal credits Iceland’s experiment with providing some inspiration for FIA.

"I think it's a great idea to have people write the actual laws," he says.

Do you think the Free Internet Act will have an impact on actual law? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: censorship, internet, PIPA, reddit, stop online piracy act

Mashable Is Hiring — Apply for Jobs in Editorial, Biz-Dev and More

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 05:24 PM PST

Mashable is hiring! We're recruiting candidates for full-time positions based in our New York and San Francisco offices, as well as a remote position based in the Asia/Pacific Rim.

New York

    • Business Development Coordinator: We are seeking a qualified, go-getting candidate for the full-time role of Business Development Coordinator, based in our New York headquarters. The Business Development Coordinator will play a vital role in evaluating and creating new opportunities for revenue, traffic and brand building.
    • Graphic Designer: We are seeking a creative and self-motivated Graphic Designer with new media experience to execute design solutions based on initial conceptual and visual direction. Under the guidance of the SVP of Product, our Graphic Designer will work across a wide range of web-related projects to provide creative solutions.
    • Digital Lifestyle Editor: This individual will write and edit informative and practical articles on a range of topics including the smart/connected home, health and fitness, parenting and productivity—all through the prism of digital.
    • Public Relations Manager: We are seeking candidates with an exceptional understanding of digital media and technology to play a key role in a broad range of communications that will contribute to Mashable's growth.
    • Sales Marketing Manager: As the Sales Marketing Manager, you will be part of a growing Mashable team focused on the development of innovative marketing solutions that will drive revenue across a portfolio of digital platforms.
    • Office Manager: We are seeking an extremely organized and detail-oriented individual to manage daily operations in our New York Headquarters, as well as coordinate the activities of our global team. This is a unique opportunity to not only create and instill organization-wide systems, but to be a vital part of a fast-paced startup environment and an enthusiastic, ever growing team.

Ambitious and motivated graduate-level and undergraduate (junior and senior) students are encouraged to apply for our internship positions:

    • New York Editorial Intern (Summer 2012): As an editorial intern you’ll have the opportunity to work with and learn from Mashable editors while researching, fact checking, copy editing and writing in our New York Headquarters.
    • New York Community Intern (Summer 2012): Moderate and engage the Mashable community onsite and on its many social platforms, and work with and learn from the Community team on a variety of innovative projects.
    • New York Business Development Intern (Winter/Spring 2012): Interns with our Business & Content Development team have the opportunity to work with and learn from Mashable leadership while focusing on research, analytics, relationship management and collateral development.

San Francisco

  • Western Regional Sales Manager: We are seeking a smart, self-motivated and resourceful individual to join our team to help take our thriving sales efforts to a new level. The successful candidate will have an active network of client/agency relationships and a proven track record of building and delivering solid marketing solutions in an effective and scalable way.
  • San Francisco Marketing and Communications Intern (Winter/Spring 2012): Interns with our Marketing and Communications team will have a unique opportunity in our San Francisco office to play a key role in a broad range of initiatives that will contribute to company growth.

Asia/Pacific Rim

  • Digital Reporter: Mashable is introducing a brand new Asia/Pacific Rim post.  We are looking for a stellar reporter to work closely with our European reporter to cover tech news breaking in the U.S. overnight hours.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

More About: jobs, mashable

For more Business coverage:

Where’s the Beef? Scientists Turn Stem Cells into PETA-Approved Meat [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 04:06 PM PST

Hamburger meat could be grown in a test tube as soon October. In a bid to protect the environment, Dutch scientists are exploring lab-grown meat options.

Fake meat might sound gross, but scientists say an alternative meat is essential. Raising cattle takes an enormous amount of water, feed and energy. All in all, about 100 pounds of resources is required to obtain 15 pounds of usable meat. Artificial meat could improve that efficiency by at least 35 percent.

Mark Post, chairman of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is conducting the $330,000 experiment, funded by an anonymous donor. He has begun transforming stem cells from a herd of cattle into inch-long strips of muscle tissue. The meat strips can be mashed together to create a hamburger patty. The color of the meat is wavers between whitish pink or pinkish yellow.

The research has support from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is also urging scientists to create stem-cell chicken by the end of June for a $1 million prize. PETA’s competition started four years ago. Like the red meat, the chicken would edible. PETA says it supports eating meat as long as the animal isn’t killed or inhumanely treated.

Post did not offer any information about the healthy benefits from the artificial meat and we don’t know whether the meat tastes the same as regular meat. We do know that with less real meat going around, E. coli and other food borne illnesses would be reduced.

Would you consider eating artificial meat hamburgers? Tell us in the comments below.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr, Passive Income Dream.com

More About: Food, Video

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What’s Your Bank Card PIN Number — 1111 or 1234? [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 03:06 PM PST

You shouldn’t be allowed to pick your own four-digit PIN numbers — and banks should start blacklisting the most common PINs, according to a team of British computer security researchers. Too many bank accounts are protected by the numbers “1111″ and “1234″, their study found.

Self-selected pins are so unsafe that if a thief were to steal enough wallets, he would be able to access a bank account with every 18th wallet — or every 10th wallet, if the cards come from banks that allow you to choose your own PINs. This form of stealing is called “jackpotting,” says to New York Times‘ Bits Blog.

The Cambridge University Computer Laboratory team determined self-selected PINs were extremely vulnerable by examining 32 million passwords on the social gaming website RockYou. They also looked at iPhone log-in codes and answers collected from online survey of 1,100 participants.

The study also found most people participant in many unsafe password practices. Over half of the participants shared their PINs with another person. One third of users use the same PIN for all credit/debit cards, and many users were seen to re-purpose PIN numbers for voicemail codes and Internet passwords.

SEE ALSO: 25 Worst Passwords of 2011 [STUDY]

As a part of the experiment, members of the team went out to the streets with a list of common passwords. Five out of 20 people stopped on the street said they saw their PIN numbers on the page of most common passwords. Many used their date of birth, proving birthday-based guessing is the most effective strategy for thieves.

Researchers warn you should not use your birth date, in case you lose your wallet along with your identification cards. The study found 99% of people carried something that stated their birthdate in their wallet.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Elizabeth Hudy Photography

More About: online banking, passwords, study, Video

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Jeremy Lin Gets a Facebook Profile. What Took Him So Long?

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 02:07 PM PST

Jeremy Lin Facebook

Jeremy Lin fans can’t get enough of the NBA’s newest superstar on social media. Now they can get even more than before.

On Monday morning, Lin joined Facebook as a member with a Timeline-enabled profile. Check it out here.

The New York Knicks’ star point guard has garnered about 7,000 subscribers in 12 hours. He’s even filled in his Facebook Timeline with some pictures, university data and hometown info.

What took him so long? Well, Lin has been on Facebook for a few months already — just not with a public profile. His Facebook fan page — reportedly curated and updated by the man himself, according to the Daily Dot — has been there since August.

The Knicks star — who hails from the same campus as Mark Zuckerberg — has already dominated elsewhere in the social media realm. When his team won six straight games during a one-week span, Lin generated more Twitter traffic than any other NBA player in history.

Lin’s official Twitter handle, @JLin7, was mentioned 215,408 times. His full name was mentioned more than 2.5 million times, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Linsanity has also reached YouTube as fans watch winning assists and last-minute free throws caught on tape. Videos produced and uploaded by Lin before his new-found fame, such as a video dubbed “How to Get into Harvard,” have been seen millions of times over the past few weeks.

Traffic to NYKnicks.com has spiked 550% since Lin’s arrival.

SEE ALSO: The Jeremy Lin Meme Roundup [PICS]

How else is Lin sweeping the Internet? He’s inspired a Lincredible Online Word Generator. And teammate Landry Fields recently tweeted a picture of the couch Lin used to crash on, joking “Let the bidding begin.”

Will you subscribe to Jeremy Lin’s Facebook Page? What do you want to see on his Timeline? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Jeremy Lin’s Facebook Page.

1. Linsanity

The classic.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, Jeremy Lin, Social Media, trending, Twitter

Student who Hacked into Facebook Employee Account Gets Jail Time [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 01:41 PM PST

A 26-year-old software development student will spend eight months in jail for hacking Facebook, which his judge said could have been “utterly disastrous” for the company.

Glenn Mangham hacked a Facebook employee’s account last spring from his parents’ home in Britain. He gained access to valuable intellectual property, although he didn’t sell the information.

Mangham, who described himself to a London court as a computer nerd who didn’t mean any harm, told the jury he hacked Facebook to help the social media company find holes in its security. He also said he had helped Yahoo improve its security in a similar way.

The prosecution said the hack was a sophisticated threat to the social media site and was not the least bit helpful. British police and the FBI spent a lot of time investigating the case, and Facebook spent $200,000 dealing with Mangham’s hack.

SEE ALSO: Anonymous Threatens Facebook Shutdown Jan. 28

Prosecutor Sandip Patel told the Telegraph that the incident “represents the most extensive and grave incident of social media hacking to be brought before the British courts.”

Facebook caught Mangham during an early June security sweep. The hacker had tried to delete his trail from the employee’s account, but Facebook noticed his account access. The FBI showed up at Mangham’s house and arrested him shortly after Facebook turned over the hacking evidence to authorities.

No personal user data was compromised, Alison Saunders, another prosecutor, told The Telegraph.

Do possible Facebook hacks make you nervous to use the service? Tell us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, airportrait

More About: Facebook, hacking, Video, Yahoo

Even on $15,000 a Year, Most Young People Buy Smartphones [STUDY]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 01:08 PM PST

When a twentysomething’s budget is tight, her smartphone is far from the first expense to go, suggests a new study from Nielsen.

The survey of 20,000 U.S. mobile customers found that smartphone ownership skews toward the young and the wealthy — exactly as you’d expect.

What is more surprising, however, is this nugget: smartphone penetration among young people in the lowest income bracket is higher than it is among older people in the wealthiest bracket.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, more than half of respondents who make less than $15,000 each year said they own a smartphone. This might be explained if the parents of many college-age students footing their children’s phone bills. Still, even in the next oldest, post-college age group, the percentage of those in the same income bracket who own a smartphone was a mere 13% lower.

Making less than $15,000 in a year doesn’t stop 43% of these 25- to 34-year-old mobile customers from paying for a smartphone.

Meanwhile, fewer than 20% of respondents older than 45 who make less than $15,000 said they owned a smartphone.

Older people were less likely to own smartphones than younger people in every income bracket, but it’s still telling that so many young people are making room in tight budgets for what many consider to be a luxury expense. It suggests that many young people count smartphones as a necessity.

More About: Nielsen, smartphones

For more Mobile coverage:

Look Out, Kindle Fire: Barnes & Noble to Launch Cheaper Nook This Week [REPORT]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 12:53 PM PST

Is Barnes & Noble launching an 8GB Android tablet to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet?

The bookseller is planning to release a smaller edition of the Nook Tablet this week, if a leaked memo from Walmart is to be believed. The memo, obtained by The Verge, says that a Nook 8GB tablet is currently arriving in stores and will be available for purchase the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 22.

In terms of specs, the current Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire are nearly identical: both are Android tablets with 7-inch, 1024-by-600 screens, and have 1GHz dual-core processors, access to Wi-Fi, more than eight hours of battery life, built-in microphones, etc. The Nook Tablet, however, comes with double the storage (16 GB vs. 8 GB) and is $50 more expensive.

Presumably, the new, lower-storage option will allow Barnes & Noble to compete with the Kindle Fire not just on specs, but also on price.

In Barnes & Noble’s latest earnings call, CEO William Lynch said the company’s Nook family of tablets experienced record sales during the nine-week holiday period at the end of 2011. In fact, that segment is doing so well that the company is considering spinning off the Nook business altogether. Digital content sales for 2012 are expected to be around $450 million, with the annualized forecast between $700 million and $750 million, according to Barnes & Noble’s own estimates.

Amazon also reported record-breaking holiday sales of Kindle tablets and ereaders. More than 4 million devices were sold altogether during the season.

Barnes & Noble's Nook Demo

A look at some of the games and apps available on the Nook Tablet. By the holidays, Barnes & Noble will offer thousands of high-quality Nook Apps from leading third-party developers and content providers that can be enjoyed on Nook Tablet, as well as Nook Color.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: amazon, barnes & noble, kindle fire, nook, Nook Tablet

9 Hot Tips for Small Business Marketing on Facebook

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 12:09 PM PST

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

With 845 million users, Facebook has become an increasingly useful tool for brands, and it’s important to have a strong presence on the social network.

Whether your brand is fully established or just starting out, launching a marketing campaign can seem overwhelming. But, it doesn't have to be a timely or expensive process. There are several small and simple things you can do for your brand on Facebook. In fact, some of these marketing tactics are used by the biggest brands in the world.

Ready for your brand to get in front of the 845 million? Majestic Media, a global Facebook marketing agency, has come up with nine time-saving tips for marketing on Facebook.

1. See if Your Vanity URL Is Available

Before you launch your brand presence on Facebook, you need to make sure that your vanity URL is available — and that it's simple and easy to remember.

Rather than going through the time consuming process of manually figuring out what's available and what's not, use a simple but powerful service called Name Vine. It checks domain names, Facebook and Twitter extensions in a matter of seconds to see if your desired vanity URL is available.

2. Use a Third-Party Platform to Distribute Social Content

Copying and pasting content, logging in from one social media network and logging out from another can be a time consuming task — but it doesn't have to be. If you're looking to push content to Facebook and other social networks, you can benefit from using a tool like HootSuite, which allows you to publish once and distribute everywhere. You can integrate your Facebook Page, Twitter account, Google+ page, LinkedIn profile and other social networks — all within one easy-to-use interface.

3. Use an Application Publishing Platform

For small and medium-sized businesses, social media budgets are nowhere close to those of global brands, which can afford multiple custom applications and promotions on Facebook. However, large budgets aren't required to launch a lot of the basic applications seen on Facebook.

Services such as North Social and Pagemodo provide the kinds of applications that most businesses need. Also, most of these services provide a “freemium” model that offers some applications for free. Keep in mind that you won't get a customized app, but you can manage the content and visuals within pre-developed apps that are available. This may be a good first step into the Facebook world if your budget is a main concern.

If you do decide to launch some of these applications, you should set up the following applications/tabs:

  • A Welcome Page: This should be the default landing page that welcomes a user to an application. Typically, these pages are fan-gated, meaning the person is asked to "like" the page to unveil more content.
  • A Contact Us Page: This is a great and useful tool for converting your fans into potential sales leads.

You should set up at least one or two tab applications on your Facebook Page, so users aren't landing on your Facebook wall, but rather a page that's informative, engaging and able to convert those users into fans.

4. Utilize Social Plugins Wherever Possible

The most underutilized (free) tools are Facebook social plugins. A new study from Gigya shows that users who visit third-party sites through Facebook Connect spend 50% more time on those sites. Furthermore, those users view twice as many pages. The numbers speak for themselves.

Aside from use on third-party sites, social plugins can also be utilized on Facebook apps to provide a deeper level of engagement, while driving traffic back to the application. Above, you’ll see the Facebook application Majestic Media built for Volkswagen, which invited users to participate in the next Volkswagen commercial. It was utilized to build meaningful conversations within the application, while driving new social traffic to the campaign.

It doesn't matter how big or small your company is — leverage the social plugins on your blog, Facebook apps and on your website. They're free to use and are a quick and easy way to market your brand or message through referral traffic.

5. Find Out When and What to Post on Facebook

If you're looking to see what your fans engage with the most — and when to post it on Facebook — you can utilize a third-party service called Edgerank Checker.

This time-saving application grades your fan page and determines the following key factors:

  • Most effective day of the week to post content
  • Popular keywords that drive engagement
  • What type of media is best for your audience
  • How often to update

6. Use Facebook Insights

If you have to provide a report of Facebook metrics to your boss or a client — or maybe you just want to see for yourself — the best time-saving tip is to export the Facebook Insights data to an Excel spreadsheet. You can see which status updates performed best, whether your audience responds well to video and get a sense of what’s driving your Likes.

You can do this by clicking the "Export Data" button. In the pop-up that appears, select the data type and date range.

Once you've done this and downloaded the file, open it in Excel and apply a filter by going to the data tab and clicking on “Filter.” You have to make sure that your cursor is at the very top row. In the example, we've chosen the “Lifetime Post Total Reach” metric to filter by.

Once this filter is selected, you can quickly filter any key metrics in ascending or descending order, which is a very powerful trick when analyzing your Facebook marketing and engagement efforts.

7. Provide Local Content

Nobody wants to visit a Facebook Page with an enticing offer, only to learn that it’s not available in their region. Nor do they want to land on a brand page where all the content is in another language.

Here are some quick strategies for providing localized content:

  • Give your fans an incentive to visit your business by providing them with a recent, active "walk-in" promotion in their area.
  • Allow users to recognize that you are connected with their location by providing details and assets specific to where they are.
  • Geotarget your posts even if you don't have multiple locations — you wouldn't want to offer a walk-in special to your fans in New York if your business is in Los Angeles

When you have to target languages, Facebook allows you to make status updates for users with certain language settings. So, Facebook users who have French or Spanish as their default language on the site will only see your content that’s in their native tongue.

  • 1. Click on “Custom”
  • 2. A pop-up will come up that will look like this:
  • 3. Once you’ve entered your specific targeting information, you can hit “Okay” and proceed with your status update, geared for that specific audience. It's local and relevant for those language settings selected.

8. Create a QR Code for Your Facebook Fan Page

Setting up a QR code for your Facebook Page is a quick, simple and effective strategy for small or large businesses to use. QR codes can be leveraged on napkins, menus, business cards, billboards, magazines, brochures and other forms of marketing materials.
Esponce is one of the most powerful QR code platforms on the market, and it offers a free tier that's typically geared to small businesses.

The process takes no more than a few minutes to set up and allows you to:

  • Create a custom QR code
  • Embed your logo into the QR code
  • Link your QR code to a dynamic URL — so you can customize and change the URL if you decide you want to later drive users to your website instead of your Facebook Page.

You'll have the ability to view analytics so you can see how many people have scanned your code, their location and the type of smartphone that scanned the image.

9. Buy Facebook Ads

Buying Facebook ads is a wise, cost-effective solution that can help increase your brand’s visibility throughout the Facebook platform. Most people don't realize how easy they are to set up or that you can buy in with a small ad spend. A budget of $50 per month would be sufficient for a small business to make some waves.

Facebook’s “Like” ads provide users the opportunity to "like" your fan page from any page they are on. If a user doesn’t click on the “Like” button, don’t interpret that as your campaign not working — these ads are relevant because they keep users engaged and informed with the latest in your marketing campaign. Think of them as a brand awareness play — just because they aren’t clicked, doesn’t mean they’re not acknowledged.

More recently, one of the best ways to invest in Facebook advertising is by leveraging Sponsored Stories. According to a study by TBG Digital, Facebook's new Sponsored Stories ad units nabbed a 46% higher click-through rate, a 20% lower cost per click and an 18% lower cost per fan than Facebook's standard ad units.

Do you have other tips for Facebook Marketing? Let us know in the comments.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips
- Top 7 CES Gadgets for Your Small Business
- 8 Legal Steps for Starting Your Business

More About: Facebook, features, Marketing, open forum, Small Business

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Why You Should Sell Your iPad 2 Now [CHART]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 11:32 AM PST

Apple hasn't yet confirmed the existence of the iPad 3, but first and second-generation iPad owners are already rushing to sell their devices based on reports that the iPad 3 will debut in March.

Why the rush? Consumers who sold their original iPads before the iPad 2 was announced were able to fetch higher prices from eBay, and resellers such as Gazelle and NextWorth, than those who waited to list theirs until after the iPad 2 arrived in stores.

For example: in March 2011, immediately after the announcement unveiling the iPad 2, my colleague Christina Warren and I were able to sell our 32GB iPads on Gazelle for around $550 each. But just hours later, the asking price had dropped to the $300 range.

Here’s a chart, courtesy of NextWorth, that shows the drop in secondhand iPad prices around the time of the iPad 2 launch on eBay:

Thus, if you’re certain you want to upgrade to the iPad 3, you might want to sell your used iPad now.

And if you’re not that impressed with the iPad 3? You could still pick up another secondhand version for a lot less money on eBay in a few weeks.

Back Casing: iPad 3 vs. iPad 2

This photo allegedly shows the back of the iPad 3, which suggests more room for battery, a different camera and a new LCD.

Credit: Repair Labs

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, wdstock

More About: gazelle, ipad, iPad 2, ipad 3, nextworth, trending

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn’s Mobile Site

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 11:13 AM PST

linkedin image

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

Have you checked out LinkedIn‘s mobile site yet? No, not the mobile app — the in-browser mobile site. It’s very powerful and very useful for connecting with LinkedIn’s 135 million users. After all, mobile page views account for over 11% of total visits to the social network for the professionally-minded.

LinkedIn released the updated mobile site (along with iPhone and Android apps) last summer. Mobile usage of LinkedIn has been growing quickly.

"We are seeing mobile grow at a very rapid pace, as high as 400 percent a year," Joff Redfern, mobile product director at LinkedIn told The New York Times in August of last year.

Want to know more? Check out these five tips for using the mobile site.

1. Share Useful Links and Information

Did you just read an interesting article on your mobile device and you think that it’s something your LinkedIn contacts should see right away? That’s easily done with LinkedIn’s mobile site. The upper right-hand corner of the site has a speech bubble. Tap that, and you’re redirected to the update screen.

You can share a text update or drop in a link to content you’d like your contacts to see. Then, you can toggle whether or not that update will be sent out as a Twitter message as well. Finally, you have control of which of your contacts can see the update. That’s good, because you might want to send an update to your co-workers and not your entire network.

2. Get Updates

When you open LinkedIn’s mobile site, you’re greeted with a scrollable list of your connections’ updates. The menu is easy to navigate. Upon clicking a shared article, you’re presented with a quick synopsis of that article instead of being launched to the article itself. You can also use the synopsis page to load the profile of the person who shared it.

That smart design saves precious mobile bandwidth (and money, for those not on an unlimited data plan). If you decide the article is worth loading, you can then decide to launch it in a new browser window. When you’re done enjoying the article, remember to share it!

3. Connect With a New Acquaintance

Swapping business cards is so passé. With LinkedIn’s mobile site, all you have to do is pop in a person’s name. If they’re on the service, there’s a profile chock-full of their employment and education information.

The mobile site takes users’ full-page profiles and compresses them into easy-to-read miniaturized versions. There’s no feeling of profiles being stuffed or crammed into place — it’s almost like profiles were designed with mobile browsers in mind.

4. Spend Time With Your Groups

Even your LinkedIn groups are easily accessible on the mobile site. Want to follow the discussion on your favorite groups while you’re on the go? That’s easy.

After clicking the LinkedIn logo on the top-left of the screen, then “more.” Boom, there’s your groups. Discussions are easily read, and adding your own comment is next to effortless. LinkedIn’s mobile site makes it easy to keep up with your professional organizations and societies.

5. Get Invited

Do you find yourself getting overloaded with invitations to connect every time you load LinkedIn? With LinkedIn’s mobile site, you can manage those invitations on the go.

The site’s interface makes it easy to see how many invitations you’ve got and learn more about who sent them to you. Just tap the LinkedIn logo, then the “inbox.” If you’ve got new invites, a notification will appear that lets you know how many new messages are in your queue.

Going Mobile

LinkedIn’s mobile site is found at http://touch.www.linkedin.com. Point your smartphone’s browser over there and dive right in. Do you think that LinkedIn’s mobile website helps with sharing? Let us know in the comments.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Is it Finally Time to Ditch Your Paper Business Card?
- Social Learning Trends to Watch in 2012
- 6 Things to Know Before Starting a Business

More About: features, linkedin, mashable, Mobile, mobile networking, networking, open forum

Sorry, Pinterest Users: Websites Can Now Block Pinning [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 10:59 AM PST

Pinterest may be an Internet hit — especially with U.S. women and Facebook CEOs. But not all companies want to ride the pinboard wave of referral traffic.

Now Pinterest has released code for companies that want to block the pinning of content from their sites to personal pinboards.

Pinterest recently released the code in their help section, which companies can copy and paste into their websites, prompting a message with each pin attempt that states: "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"

SEE ALSO: 10 Most-Followed Users on Pinterest

Josh Davis of LLsocial.com points out that 99% of the pins on Pinterest are against the company’s own Terms of Service. Pinterest states that when users pin items, this indicates they are either the exclusive owners of the material or someone has granted them access to re-publish content.

One of the points of “Pinterest Etiquette” also stands to remind users to credit sources.

Though it is not enforced, Pinterest says, “finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry.”

The copyright issues were exacerbated by the website’s huge growth over the past year, according to Davis. Pinterest, he says, won’t be the 2012 version Napster — shutdown for copyright infringement in 2001 — because “everyone loves Pinterest” and images. Even if the pins are not credited, Pinterest drives traffic back to the original source.

Pinterest is moving towards correcting these flaws. Pinterest is currently following the Digital Millenmium Copyright Act, and will remove any image that someone claims is violating copyright laws.

In addition, Pinterest is letting publishers embed a “Pin It” button directly on their website, which is a virtual permission slip for people to share content. To see an example of the pin button, look at T-shirt shop Threadless’s site. The Pin It button sits next to other sharing buttons like Facebook and Twitter.

In another effort to fight copyright infringement, Pinterest plans to limit pin captions to 500-characters to stop people from stealing blog posts, according to Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann. For now, the character limits are still being tested. Mashable will continue with Pinterest updates as they roll out.

Tell us in the comments if you always credit sources when using Pinterest. When do you disregard crediting sources?

More About: pinterest, Social Media, social networking, startup, trending, Video

Google’s Homepage Gets a Second Box — for Google+ Sharing

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 10:24 AM PST

Google rarely clutters its minimalist home page with extra buttons or gizmos, but it made an exception for its social network Google+.

The company has added a share button to the right-hand corner of its patented search page design. (Yes, a mostly blank space is patentable.) The update is rolling out to all users in the coming weeks.

Clicking on the share button opens a box for adding updates to your Google+ account. It does not include your search results in the update.

The share box, first spotted by Marketing Land, is part of an update to the “Google bar“, which the search giant announced earlier this month. Essentially, it migrates the share button from the bar to the Google homepage.

Previously, the Google Bar looked like this:

It may seem like a minor update, and in many ways it is. But this is the first time Google’s homepage itself (rather than the bar above it) has offered any function other than search.

If Google+’s close integration with search results through Search plus Your World weren’t enough to state Google’s commitment to its social network, you can add this to the evidence.

Google makes most of its money through advertisers who want to pinpoint the consumers who are most likely to buy their products. Google has a ton of search and browsing data that can help them do that, but it doesn’t have the valuable social graph that Facebook does.

Now the company is using search to help it build a social graph, via Google+ — and heavily advertise that network in the process.

In some ways the integration makes sense. Social data can be used to help determine the most relevant search results, and you might come across something in a search that’s convenient to share immediately. Some argue, however, that the integrations take away from the effectiveness of Google Search.

“Personally, if find it intrusive,” wrote Danny Sullivan, the editor-in-chief of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. “I don't get why I want to go to the Google home page to share content on Google+. I'll go to Google+, if I want to do that.”

More About: Google, Search, trending

Why Veterans Are a Good Fit for Tech Jobs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 09:55 AM PST

Unemployment numbers are down, but there are 220,000 military veterans who are still looking for work. Though these vets are having a tough time finding jobs, they’re actually well equipped to work in the tech sector — many vets are skilled in computer security, SQL and troubleshooting.

Some employers are reluctant to hire those in the National Guard or Army Reserve, due to the required time off for service or training. But these employers could earn a tax credit upward of $9,600 for hiring veterans. These tax credits and an improving job market could help the American economy achieve First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal of hiring 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. Tech companies such as Microsoft and Google have stepped up to the plate thus far.

The infographic below, produced by Payscale, points out tech jobs commonly filled by veterans, lists common skills of veterans and shows why veterans are a good fit in the tech sector.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

More About: job search series, U.S. Military

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Tweeting a War: How One Journalist Is Using Twitter in Afghanistan

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 09:19 AM PST

Journalists are using Twitter more and more these days, even in an unlikely place: Afghanistan.

With about a million active Internet users out of a total population of just less than 35 million, it may seem strange that Afghan news writers are turning to the 140-or-less character web messaging service. But Mustafa Kazemi, a reporter covering politics and the war in his home country, says journalists are using the service to share up-to-the-second news with followers across the country and the world.

Kazemi, who tweets as @combatjourno, says that journalists in Afghanistan really started using Twitter early last year. Kazemi himself fearlessly covers the war and political strife of the country.

In August of last year, he live tweeted a suicide attack on the British Council in Kabul. And last September, he tweeted pictures of the building from which combatants were attacking the U.S. Embassy.

“I started using (Twitter) for news updates in January 2011 and (livetweeted) several terrorist attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in the south and east of the country, direct from the scene,” says Kazemi. “Journalists now use Twitter to share local news, stories, updates on incidents throughout the country.”

Kazemi’s coverage provides a window into Afghanistan from a native writer’s eyes that simply can’t be matched by foreign writers. He manages this all while building an online following and readership the way any web-savvy journalist would: through interaction and engagement. He’s got just less than 3,000 followers, but that number’s going up every day. Kazemi makes it a point to respond to his Twitter followers, providing his views on the Afghani news of the day.

In Afghanistan, “freedom of the press” isn’t an oft-heard phrase. Reporters Without Borders ranked the country 150th out of 179 countries on its most recent Press Freedom Index. Reporters have to worry about everything from censorship to intimidation and physical harassment.

Does Kazemi worry that his Twitter reporting could be censored, or that it might reveal details that might put him in harm’s way? Absolutely.

“Every journalist is afraid of censorship,” says Kazemi. “It’s a barrier to freedom of speech and freedom of reporting. Recent announcements on censorship and/or monitoring of social media by Twitter and the … U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security have been a matter of concern for me personally.”

Kazemi, like many of his peers, has been harassed by the subjects of his reports.

“I’ve been previously threatened by the Taliban in Afghanistan for (a) few news reporting cases as well as for working with foreign media agencies,” says Kazemi. “Also, in Afghanistan, if a journalist covers a crime or leaks information by which a warlord or a key government official comes under question or his public image is damaged, the journalist comes under direct and indirect danger, even life threats.”

Kazemi, despite these threats, keeps reporting, tweeting and building a brand. Even with the censorship and threats of violence, does he think social media will have a future in Afghanistan?

“Without a doubt,” says Kazemi.

What do you think about Kazemi’s war reporting on Twitter? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, christophe_cerisier

More About: afghanistan, Journalist, trending, Twitter

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Panasonic Unveils the Eluga, a Dustproof and Waterproof Smartphone

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 09:01 AM PST

Panasonic gave its new smartphone for Europe a name on Monday. “The Eluga,” which will be the first Panasonic phone to debut outside of Japan since 2005, is set to go on sale this March.

The Japanese manufacturer had announced its intentions to re-enter the smartphone market in Europe this Spring, and it unveiled a nameless prototype of a smartphone in December. Panasonic announced the prototype’s name, Eluga, at the Panasonic Convention 2012 on Monday.

The 4.3-inch phone, according to The Verge, has a 960 X 540 resolution and is NFC-enabled.

The full set of specs, including which OS the phone will run, haven’t been revealed, but the company’s Twitter account did tweet that Eluga is “waterproof, dustproof and very light.”

More About: eluga, Panasonic, smartphones

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The Pirate Bay Faces UK Blockade

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 08:44 AM PST

Torrent search engine The Pirate Bay could be blocked in the UK after a judge in London ruled the site breaches copyright laws.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) wants British Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to The Pirate Bay in the UK, claiming the site has caused them millions in damages.

High Court Justice Arnold has sided with them, claiming The Pirate Bay does not only enable or assist copyright theft, but actively encourages it. “I conclude that both users and the operators of [The Pirate Bay] infringe the copyrights of the claimants … in the UK,” said the judge in a written statement.

The judgement paves the way for a court order for ISPs to start blocking their users access to The Pirate Bay. A final decision is expected in June.

“The ruling helps clarify the law on website blocking and we will now proceed with our application to have the site blocked to protect the UK’s creative industries from further harm,” said BPI CEO Geoff Taylor.

British ISPs have been ordered to block a website accused of piracy before. In October 2011, a UK court ordered telecom company BT to block subscribers’ access to Usenet indexing website Newzbin 2, though the site later said the block is “not working.”

[via The Guardian]

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‘Nightline’ Takes Cameras Inside China’s Foxconn Factories

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 08:30 AM PST

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

ABC anchor Bill Weir of Nightline on Tuesday will take U.S. audiences inside China’s Foxconn Technology factories that have been closed off to the public for years and are the birth place of Apple products.

“But while Apple fans bought over 17 million computers, 38 million iPods, 40 million iPads and 93 million iPhones last year, no one from the outside has ever seen the production lines that built them. Until now,” Weir says in an ABCnews.com preview.

The open access to the plants of China’s largest exporter, come only a few days after Foxconn announced a 25% increase in worker wages — amounting to about $350 a month from $286 a month — in response to petitions on SumofUs.org and Change.org. Wage increases occurred after hundreds of workers threatened a mass suicide in January revolting against unfair working conditions. Though in 2010, 17 worker suicides happened and widespread fear of more suicides forced Foxconn executives to skirt the building’s exterior with nets.

As the preview above shows, Chinese workers still ride in by the busloads daily at a chance to make less than $1.50 per hour to work at the factories where the tens of millions of iPhones, iPads and Macbooks are produced.

Shortly after the death of Steve Jobs, news spread about horrible working conditions that garnered “some of the worst press in Apple’s history,” Weir says.

Last month This American Life brought Mike Daisey, a self-acclaimed Apple fan and monologist behind the closed doors of Foxconn, which employs 43,000 people to build electronics for companies including Dell, Nolia, Panasonic, HP, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, and Apple. The radio show “The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which aired Jan. 6, introduced Americans to the 14-, 13- and 12-year-olds working standard 14-to-15-hour shifts wiping screens, placing items with tweezers and packaging finished products.

More than 250,000 signatures were collected to protest these labor practices.

SEE ALSO: Petitions Demand Apple Improve Foxconn Conditions

Weir says in his reporting he was able to see about a half dozen productions lines in Shenzhen and Chengdu, tour factories and dorms, mentioned in Daisey’s report where worker beds were stacked 15 to a 12-foot-by 12-foot room like Jenga puzzle pieces.

He was able to interview workers without intrusion from production line directors to assembly line employees whose sole job was to flip tiny camera lenses with tweezers.

This week’s special edition of Nightline, “iFactory: Inside Apple,” will air at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT, with a preview on Good Morning America and World News with Diane Sawyer on Tuesday.

Thumbnail image courtesy of M.I.C. Gadget

More About: apple, Foxconn Technology, Media, Video

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How Setting the Cloud Free Could Change the Internet Forever

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 08:03 AM PST

When I imagine “the cloud” where most of my daily interactions with web services such as Facebook and Google compute, I think of a free-floating space — complete with scalloped edges — that isn’t tied to a physical location.

In reality, however, cloud computing is very much tethered to the physical world, through football-field-sized warehouses of connected servers that enable it. A computing job, though it can be accessed from anywhere in the world, can’t be easily moved from one warehouse to another. It can’t even necessarily be moved from one area of a warehouse to another area of the same warehouse.

This is a problem for two reasons. The first is that it’s inefficient and drives the price of cloud-based applications that use data centers upward. When a new processing job comes up, it can’t just jump to any idle server in the warehouse. Rather, it needs to use a specific location in the network of servers.

Martin Casado, whose PhD dissertation at Stanford University addressed this issue, estimates that for this reason most data centers run at about 40% to 60% of their capacities — costing companies tens of millions of dollars and slowing down their services.

The second problem was most recently demonstrated in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan last year. After the disaster, most of the region was put on a schedule of rolling blackouts to cope with the energy shortage that accompanied the tremendous loss of life and property.

Many of Japan’s manufacturers shifted production outside of the Tokyo area to deal with the energy shortages. Its data centers, however, could not, and many relied on diesel generators to stay in business.

“You have these huge warehouses of computers doing all of these important workloads,” Casado says. “If you actually do a power outage there, you’ll lose all of them. If the cloud was really as elastic as we say it is, we should be able to take all those workloads and move them to another data center.”

But why can’t we? The short answer is that workloads are still attached to the network of computers they’re being processed on.

Why is this such a hard problem to solve? Networks of computers get most of their functionality from hardware, which is hard to update in a way that would allow the flexibility needed to move workloads from one data center to another.

“Whenever you bake something into hardware, it takes four years to design, you spend millions of dollars and you can't really change it,” Casado says.

In order to untie the cloud from a physical location, Casado thought up a new approach that hadn’t really been tried before: Software.

The startup he founded, Nicira, based on his doctoral dissertation makes a program that moves network functionality into the software rather than the hardware, which gives it the flexibility to move workloads around. He compares it to the film The Matrix.

“When you have an application or a workload, and it's running in the cloud, what we do is move that application in to The Matrix,” he says. “So it doesn't know it's not running in the real world. It's running in this totally generated world — we can move the entire matrix from the United States to Japan, and the workload has no idea the world has changed.”

We’re satisfied with the movie metaphor. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details of how this works, check out Nicira’s explainer video.

The overarching point — why Nicira was able to raise $50 million and why companies such as AT&T, eBay and Rackspace have purchased its software — is that adding this flexibility to data center workloads makes it less expensive for cloud-based services to operate. It also protects workloads from being affected by events at the data center locations and makes cloud applications run more efficiently.

Casado says that adding a new application offering to one of his customer’s services used to take seven days. With Nicira, adding the same type of applications now takes 30 seconds.

By truly freeing the cloud from the ground for the first time, Nicira could help it rise to new heights of functionality.

More About: cloud computing, cloud storage, Nicira, trending

Burberry to Debut Catwalk Collection via Animated GIFs on Twitter

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 07:39 AM PST

Watch the Burberry S/S 2012 womenswear collection show here beginning at 4 p.m. BT (11 a.m. ET).

Burberry is taking its Tweetwalk to the next level. After the success of last season’s Tweetwalk — an event that caused both “#Burberry” and “Christopher Bailey” to trend worldwide on the platform — the British fashion house is once again sharing images of every look with the brand's followers on Twitter before the models hit the catwalk — only this time some of those images will arrive in the form of animated GIFs.

We haven’t seen the images, but we do know that Burberry has been looking into the technology behind cinemagraphs, looping animations on a still background like the one below by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burgh, below. Perhaps we can expect something similar.

In addition to Twitter, Burberry will live stream its show — a full program that includes backstage pans and red carpet arrivals at Hyde Park in London, beginning at 4 p.m. BT (11 a.m. ET) — via burberry.com, Facebook (an embeddable stream viewers can host on their own Facebook walls) and, for the first time, on screens at London’s Liverpool Street station, Heathrow Terminal 5, Cromwell Road and LED screens outside Burberry’s Bejing store. Live streams have also been formatted for viewing on Chinese social networks Sina Weibo and Youku, as well as the iPhone and iPad.

SEE ALSO: How To: Follow London Fashion Week Online

For one week after the show, viewers will be able to purchase the collection and accompanying beauty and fragrance products on burberry.com and by appointment at 25 Burberry flagships stores around the world. The label will also be posting look to its newly launched Pinterest page, releasing its handbag imagery to social styling site Polyvore for fans to use in their fashion collages, and making the show soundtrack available for download on iTunes.

Much has been made of the way fashion brands are using digital technology to make their biannual runway shows into global, consumer-facing events. Perhaps no brand has done this as effectively as Burberry, whose panning, HD live stream — and accompanying tweets, Instagram shots, song tracks and more — are reaching consumers in more territories and on more platforms than ever before Monday.

More About: burberry, fashion, london fashion week, tweetwalk

‘DNA Origami’ Nanorobots Could Find and Destroy Cancer Cells [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 07:07 AM PST

Packages constructed of DNA dubbed “DNA origami” might one day be used to create nanorobots capable of finding and destroying cancer cells in the human body.

The nanorobots mimic a cell’s receptor system in order to communicate with cells. The cells can carry materials — a “payload” — to cancer cells, and when the nanorobot detects the cells it’s hunting for, it will spring into action.

The study was published in Science on Thursday. Researchers Shawn M. Douglas, Ido Bachelet, George M. Church are all affiliated with Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Douglas developed the open-source software the researchers used called Cadnano to design the structures.

Once the bots were designed, the research team built the tiny barrel-shaped nanobots that measures about 35 nanometers in diameter. Each nanobot can hold molecules that are meant to be delivered to cells. On the outside of the nanobots would be two strands that could help recognize target cells, and release their contents at the right time.

The system has yet to be tested in living organisms, but the researchers are considering testing the nanorobots in mice.

What do you think about this technology? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Palto

More About: cancer, DNA, nanorobots, robots

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Hilarious ‘Cats as Fonts’ Illustrates Personality of Scripts [PICS]

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 06:32 AM PST

Are you more of an intellectual Helvetica person? Or a carefree Comic Sans type? Maybe you’d like your emails to harken back to days-of-ol’, in which case Times New Roman, Courier or Mesquite STD might be your fonts of choice.

Whatever font you prefer, one thing can be agreed on — cats making silly faces or wearing clothing is freakin’ adorable.

Check out these clever pics from icanhascheezburger.com illustrating the cat persona for each font:

Cats As Fonts

This fine gentle-cat prefers the standard Times New Roman font created in 1931 for the Times of London. Photo from I Can Has Cheezburger?

Click here to view this gallery.

Visit the website to see even more and tell us which one is your favorite and why.

More About: cats, funny, icanhazcheesburger, Meme, trending

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Scientists Build a ‘Perfect’ Single-Atom Transistor

Posted: 20 Feb 2012 06:08 AM PST

Scientists from the University of New South Wales have created a single-atom transistor using a repeatable technique — a world first.

Using a scanning-tunneling microscope (STM), the scientists were able to precisely manipulate hydrogen atoms around a phosphorus atom on a silicon wafer inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber. The result is the first single-atom transistor made with perfect precision, which could one day become a building block for a quantum computer.

Single-atom transistors have been created before by chance, but using this method, the team from UNSW can produce them reliably.

“This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy,” said Professor Michelle Simmons, team leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at UNSW.

Moore’s Law, which postulates that the number of transistors that can cheaply be placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, predicts that transistors will reach the single-atom level by 2020.

Although many experts expected Moore’s Law to be wrong at some point, it has shown amazing resiliency, and has so far been quite accurate.

The creator of the law, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, claims the ultimate limit of the law is at the atomic level. This latest achievement by the team at UNSW shows that we might actually reach that level in the foreseeable future.

[via Physorg]

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