Monday, 12 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 17 News Updates - including “iPad Shipping Time Now 2-3 Weeks”


Mashable: Latest 17 News Updates - including “iPad Shipping Time Now 2-3 Weeks”

iPad Shipping Time Now 2-3 Weeks

Posted: 12 Mar 2012 04:21 AM PDT


The latest generation of Apple’s iPad is slated to hit the US stores on March 16, but that date is no longer mentioned on Apple’s site — at least for online pre-orders.

Soon after the device’s launch, the date shifted from March 16 to March 19. Alas, now even that date is gone from Apple’s site.

Regardless of which iPad model you choose, the estimated shipping time is now “2-3 weeks.”

While 2-3 weeks doesn’t sound too bad, it’s far less precise an estimate than before, indicating that Apple is struggling to cope with the demand for the new iPad.

The latest iPad (called simply “iPad,” without an additional number of letter) has been unveiled March 7. It has an improved “retina” display, a 5-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, and an improved A5X CPU with quad-core graphics.

More About: apple, ipad, shipping, Tablet

3 Ways to Woo a Startup Into Hiring You

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 07:31 PM PDT

With the unemployment rate hovering at 8.3%, there’s a lot of competition for jobs. You know you’ve got the right attitude, the right qualifications and the passion a young tech startup needs. So how can you convey that to a company? By standing out.

Engineer Loren Burton created a website to show Airbnb how much he wants to be a front-end developer for them. The Airbnb gig didn’t pan out, but Burton is “happily employed” elsewhere. And his website went viral on the web, getting a lot of eyeballs and eliciting recruitment tweets. Alice Lee followed suit, creating a beautiful website to explain that her photography and dev skills deserve a spot on the Instagram team.

Alice Lee’s Venn diagram of interests

But not everyone is applying to be a dev, like Burton and Lee. Nonetheless, there are various unique ways to catch a startup’s attention and nab a sweet gig.

1. Go The Extra Mile in the Interview Process

Jason Shen and his co-founders were hiring a community manager for their Y-Combinator startup, Ridejoy and Margot Leong was one of many candidates who applied for the position. Like the other potential employees, she spruced up her resume, wrote a solid cover letter (titled “Are You There, Ridejoy? It's Me, Margot (Your New Community Manager!)“), submitted five ideas for developing the Ridejoy community and combed through her social profiles to make sure everything was kosher. But the other thing Margot did — and the others didn’t do — was create a three-minute long slideshow explaining why she should be hired. This wasn’t some boilerplate slideshow — it was perfectly personalized for Ridejoy and even poked fun at the co-founders’ hairdos. “It sounds cliche, but I really did enter into the application process with a ‘go big or go home’ mentality, with the understanding that if it didn’t work out, I still learned a lot in the process,” says Leong.

“It took two weeks to research Ridejoy extensively, conceptualize and then create the presentation.”

So, yeah, she seemed cool and passionate. The Ridejoy guys put Margot through a rigorous interview process, including a weekend of work. “After deciding she was the real deal, we sent her back our own slideshow with an offer,” says Shen (see below).

The anecdote of Leong’s antics has been tweeted more than 500 times, and the slideshows have garnered more than 26,000 views, says Shen. More importantly, Leong accepted the position, and Shen says she’s been “kicking butt for us” as the Ridejoy community manager since January.

2. Make Yourself Indispensable

Back in 2002, Craig Creuziger was looking for a job in Denver. “I had 50 resumes out there, and I was working with the career counselors at the college, but there was no response,” says Creuziger. Frustrated, he took a three-week hiatus to clear his head. He returned to his job search with vigor and a greater sense of purpose. He knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy at Thought Equity, then a 10-person startup in Denver. Creuziger went in for an interview, which went well. “In term of quality and skills and go-getterness, he was perfect for a startup,” says Holly Haman, a Thought Equity alum who was on the team when Creuziger interviewed. Haman is now on her sixth startup and knows what kind of person does well in the fast-paced environment — and Creuziger was it. “It takes a special kind of person to excel in a mach-5 startup, so we really liked him and wanted to hire him, but were still in startup mode and didn’t have the resources.”

So at the end of the interview, the HR person told him, “You’re exactly the candidate I’d love to hire, but we don’t have the budget to hire you.” Not surprisingly, Creuziger was upset.

“At that point, I felt a little deceived — if I’m doing it all right, what else is there to do?” says Creuziger. But instead of banging his head against the wall or giving up on his job search, he offered to work for free. Thought Equity couldn’t pass up that offer, and Creuziger “needed to be doing something.”

“He would show up every day in suit and tie, and we didn't have a desk for him, so he sat at a conference table in the middle of the office, cold-calling customers for a product that hadn’t truly completely launched yet … and he was doing that in front of the president of marketing, the VP of sales and the CEO,” says Haman.

“For me, I treated it like I actually did land a job, even though I wasn’t getting paid,” says Creuziger. “My mindset was that I’d do this until they hired me.”

And it happened. He worked for free for about six weeks, then was a “low-paid intern” for three months. On January 1, 2003, Creuziger was officially hired. His position spanned three departments and was a continuation of what he’s done in previous months — but with pay. Creuziger says of his strategy: “I burrowed myself in, and I added value to become indispensable so they would say, ‘Let’s make sure he stays.’”

“It was my first job, so I went at it a little blindly,” says Creuziger, looking back on his time at Thought Equity. But it paid off. He was with the company for eight years and climbed the ranks, leaving as a senior sales manager in 2011. “I was able to gain a lot of experience.”

Creuziger has advice for others who are having a tough time finding a job. "I think you have to go in and demonstrate your value, give them an opportunity to test that value out for free at low risk,” he says. “They have limited resources, so if you position yourself in a way that allows them to get value for free, it’ll make it painful for them to get rid of you.” But be sincere. “The approach works if you’re genuine about it, otherwise it comes off as an act of desperation,” says Creuziger.

3. Start Small

Cocken had big dreams for Fitocracy

“We spend quite a bit of time reaching within our networks and spamming out job descriptions to recruit, but every single one of our employees was originally a user who was incredibly passionate and fell into our laps,” says Richard Talens, co-founder of gamified fitness app Fitocracy. So when someone told Talens and his co-founder, Brian Wang, about a user named Jared Cocken, they perked up.

Cocken was the creative director at the Wonderfactory, and Talens was told he was “the most brilliant designer he’s ever met.” Cocken was a Fitocracy user who was extremely passionate about fitness and became increasingly involved in the Fitocracy community. Talens and Wang took note, but “never thought” Cocken would come work with them.

“Brian, Dick and I met over (a macro-balanced) lunch to chat about what they were doing with their ‘little fitness site,’” recalls Cocken. “We hit it off instantly. Smart, driven, charismatic and friendly, with a deep and practiced understanding of their market; I could tell these chaps were going places, and fast.”

Cocken felt that Fitocracy had the power to change lives and true meaning. “In less than a year, Fitocracy had used an incredibly simple mechanism (the dopamine response you get from ‘push button/get treat’) to build a network that was littered with success stories of people individually losing hundreds of pounds, changing their lives; staving off weight-related conditions like diabetes, or having the energy to play with their kids for the first time in years,” says Cocken. “Suddenly my mind was racing with the potential. Government-issued education on health and fitness is severely lacking in almost every country. What if Fitocracy could work with the world’s top nutrition and fitness experts to help corporations, schools, and governments to raise awareness? To create an unbiased and efficient system for tracking and improving your health; the health of a nation?”

Cocken says he wanted to be a part of Fitocracy, but already had his hands full at the Wonderfactory. He signed on an adviser so he could help with the app’s mobile strategy. “One thing led to another … a few weeks later, my metaphorical bags were packed,” says Cocken. And just like that, Fitocracy had a Dick, a Wang and a Cocken.

What have you done to nail a job? Let us know in the comments below.

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!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, knape

More About: features, fitocracy, hiring, job search series, mashable, Recruiting

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10 Awesome Accessories to Organize Your Office

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 05:31 PM PDT

1. LEGO Stationery Art Carousel

Add a colorful dash of blocky fun to your desk with this organizer. It comes complete with LEGO crayons, pencils and erasers.

Cost: $28.29

Click here to view this gallery.

Spring has nearly sprung. If you plan to take advantage of the fresh start to get your workspace sorted, we have found 10 terrific accessories to help organize your office.

From cable management to tidying paperwork to writing implements, our stylish solutions will add some geek chic and a little bit of witty design to your workspace.

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Accessories Featuring the Vintage Apple Logo [RAINBOWS]

Take a look through our gallery of selections, fresh for spring. Let us know in the comments which items you like and why.

More About: accessories, design, features, Gadgets, gallery, geek, office

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49 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 04:26 PM PDT

apple world

This has been quite a week in digital culture. Between Apple‘s revealing of the new iPad and the beginning of the 2012 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, Mashable has a multitude of new digital media resources for you. Don’t worry if you’ve fallen behind — here’s our weekly features roundup.

This week we’ve covered 10 Google Search tricks you might not know, the dos and don’ts of Facebook promotion and 10 free must-have travel apps for Android. We also have essential Pinterest boards for SXSW, four ways to make your ecommerce site more visually appealing and a video explaining everything we know about the Apple event. We even got a peek at Pinterest’s Palo Alto headquarters.

So, dive in — there’s plenty of resources to read through.

Editor’s Picks

Social Media

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, courtneyk.

More About: Business, COMMUNICATIONS, Features Week In Review, Social Media, Tech

Survey: Telecommuting Becoming More Prevalent [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 03:53 PM PDT

Working from home is on the rise, and more companies are trusting their employees to be more productive in their own home offices than they might be at the workplace.

Digging deeper, Wrike, a company that makes collaboration software (so it has a stake in this game), conducted a survey with 1,074 respondents, asking them a variety of questions about working from home.

The results showed that telecommuting is far more prevalent than we thought. In fact, 83% of the respondents said they work remotely at least part of the day.

Some of us here at Mashable have considerable experience with working at home — many of us work at home at least 20% of the time, and some of our far-flung global staff telecommute 100% of the time. For instance, I’ve been working from my home office for various online sites for the past 12 years, with no ill effects thus far.

Working from home is not for everyone, but for many of us, it turns out to be more productive — especially when doing highly concentrated activities such as writing, editing and researching — than it is in a room full of beloved colleagues. But it’s not all sweetness and light. See the infographic below for accurate examples of the drawbacks.

Beyond those details, find out even more fun facts about the telecommuting revolution in this cute chart, and then let us know in the comments what you think about working from home. Do you believe telecommuting will become more prevalent in the coming years?

Infographic courtesy Keller

More About: collaboration, infographics, telecommuting

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Instagram Announces Android Version

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 03:25 PM PDT

Android users, the time has almost come. Instagram, the popular photo-filtering and sharing app, is on its way to Google’s mobile operating system.

Co-founder Kevin Systrom announced at SXSW Sunday that the long-awaited Android version of Instagram is nearly here. He teased the version on stage, but didn’t provide a demo. The Android version is currently being tested in private beta and will be released “very soon.”

"In some ways, it's better than our iOS app. It's crazy," Systrom said. In a Q&A following his presentation, Systrom said the app is fast, works great on large screens and can share photos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other networks.

What took the startup so long to bring what’s clearly an extremely popular app to Android? "I don't think it took us so long. We just had priorities. Had we tried to be both on Android and iPhone at the same time, it would've been tough to innovate in the way that we have," he said.

Systrom announced, in December of last year at LeWeb, that the Android app was in development. Knowing that it’s in testing now means Instagram for Android is at least that much closer to release — but nothing more specific.

Systrom also announced Sunday that the iOS version of Instagram — which was named Apple’s iOS app of the year last year — has seen some 27 million downloads.

BONUS: The Best Instagram Photos Ever Taken

1. Maura Grace (@folkfibers)

Josh Riedel: "I love the way you can travel through photos. Maura (@folkfibers) travels the USA in her VW van, and her photos take you along for the ride. I like to imagine Maura pulling to the side of the road and leaning out her window to snap this shot as she's leaving the park."

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: android, Android apps, instagram, trending

Tweets Chronicle the Journey of the Titanic as if in Real Time

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 02:29 PM PDT

April 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  To recognize this event, The History Press opened a Twitter account that “live” tweets the journey of the Titanic. The account describes events up-to-the-minute as if it were 1912.  @TitanicRealTime began tweeting on March 10 — a month before the anniversary of the Titanic setting sail.

The account, which currently has more than 4,000 followers, uses hashtags such as #captain, #crew and #engineering to designate where the updates are coming from.

Since the Titanic didn’t set sail until April 10, 1912, current tweets are simply facts about the vessel. However, once the ship sets sail, expect action-filled tweets leading up the Titanic’s infamous encounter with an iceberg.

Further commemorating the Titanic’s 100th anniversary, The History Press will also be launching an iPad app based on its research.  The app will contain background information about the Titanic including blueprints, photos and biographies.

SEE ALSO: The Titanic App for iPad Arrives March 12

Will you be following along with the @TitanicRealTime on Twitter? What do you think its tweets will be like during the ship’s sinking?

More About: application, apps, titanic, Twitter

Rainn Wilson Talks Altruism on the Web — And Then Smashes a Guitar at SXSW

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 01:53 PM PDT

Rainn Wilson is best known for playing the foolish villain Dwight Shrute on The Office. Dwight is constantly jockeying for position at Dunder Mifflin, confident in his skills and his alone.

In real life, Rainn Wilson is none of these things. Well, maybe he shares Dwight’s nerd-love of technology, but that’s about it.

This shared nerd-love inspired Wilson to develop a website called Soul Pancake that seeks to curate conversations about life’s bigger questions and to “de-lamify spirituality.”

Wilson’s background as a practicing member of the Baha’i faith and love of philosophy led him to the new venture. At a session at SXSW in Austin this weekend, he said he sees it as way to use the web to connect with other people in a spiritual way that doesn’t come with sticky religious issues. He wants to create a forum where anyone can share content they’ve created. He sees sharing one’s art as sharing a piece of oneself.

“Sharing photos and art is the future of the web, not stuff that wants to enslave us and just drive page views and clicks,” he predicted.

During the brainstorming proccess for creating Soul Pancake, Wilson informed the crowd, he took a page out of Kiss frontman Gene Simmons’s playbook. He began writing down things that were awesome and the idea began to shape.

Now came the fun part. As a way to interact with the audience using Twitter, Wilson asked everyone in the room to tweet their five ingredients of awesome and use the hashtag “Soul Pancake.” A winner, Kelsey Jones, was selected at random to come on stage with Wilson for an “awesome prize.” As Jones came onstage, she was rightfully a little skeptical about what the prize was.

But her eyes got really big when one of Wilson’s colleagues handed her a guitar and he told her that they were going to smash them on stage together.

Wilson’s effort to bring altruism to the web and allow spiritual conversations to flourish is certainly a noble one. Who knows if he’ll be able to wade through the rising tide of targeted ad placements and gamification of our everyday activities.

But at least he’s trying. And we think that’s pretty awesome.

Check out the gallery and let us know if you think there’s a need for spiritual connections like Soul Pancake on the web.

Rainn Wilson

The title card for Rainn's SXSW presentation.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: rainn wilson, sxsw

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Pinterest’s First Investor Explains the Secret to the Startup’s Success

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 12:55 PM PDT

Angel Investor Brian Cohen

"I was Pinterest's first investor." That's a sentence I bet you wish you could say. Here at SXSW, I find myself sitting opposite angel investor Brian Cohen who happily owns that distinction. In other words, he found, as he calls them, a couple of young guys from NYU (Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp) at a business plan competition where angel investors "forage for new opportunities." The rest is startup legend.

Cohen, who has a background in publishing and is now the founder and chairman of the New York Angels, wanted to talk about what it was like to work with Pinterest in those early days, how the idea for Pinterest blossomed out of a different project Silbermann was working on, and what makes the Pinterest team different and therefore successful. There are also, Cohen believes, valuable lessons in the Pinterest story for other social entrepreneurs.

"They listened," Cohen said — repeatedly. The investor, who also mentored Silbermann, constantly marveled at how Silbermann listened to advice from investors, customers and partners. "They were incredibly open for input. That's really important as an instructive element for social entrepreneurs—anyone—[they were open] to those angel investors who care deeply about their success."

Where it All Started

That listening started with a different product Silbermann was working on at Cold Brew Labs — an app called Tote. The idea was the first woman's fashion catalog on the iPhone. Cohen told me Silbermann watched user behavior on Tote. "As the app was being used, he recognized that women were grabbing, tagging specific items that they were able to view later when they got home," said Cohen. What Silbermann saw was that huge numbers of people were grabbing items and sharing them with friends. "He recognized that these women were sharing their tastes."

This led to Silbermann providing Tote users with a tool to organize those items and interests. "That tool became very useful and was the early incarnation of Pinterest," said Cohen. Tote, however, did not have the concept of boards and pinning.

As Silbermann and company began developing Pinterest (a name Silbermann's now-wife came up with) they again tapped into their advisor community and sought advice on curation. Cohen described their overall approach as "non-myopic behavior."

In the halls of SXSW, it’s not unusual to run into a startup with a Pinterest-like pitch. They often promise that their new product is a mashup of Pinterest and some other well-know idea. I asked Cohen about this. “I marvel about how many people ask me about Pinterest,” said Cohen. They want to know how they did it. Aside from what Cohen sees as the obvious simplicity and elegance of the site, Cohen said Silbermann remained open to smart people throughout the development process. Early on he engaged with partners, customers and even designers. “I used to see him in New York just taking out small rooms to meet with customers. I’d never seen anything like it.”

As for where the concept of pinning on boards came from, Cohen doesn't know. "The way I imagine it is that [Silbermann] saw customers/women needing to have a contrast of all the things they were buying organized." Doing so in a visual way "lent itself naturally to boards."

The site, which even Cohen says has "come out of nowhere" tapped into people's natural desire to curate and others' need to find those curators. "The majority of people look to others for taste," said Cohen.

Besides listening, there is one other attribute that Cohen believes plays a role in Pinterest’s success, “They’re just happy.” In almost everything they do, Cohen sees “almost a child-like fascination.”


As Pinterest Investor Number One, it's unlikely Cohen would have a single negative thing to say about the growing social sharing platform. When I ask him if there are any potential danger signs for the white-hot brand, Cohen deflected a bit and only offered the expected advice: "They have to stick to their knitting …improve usability." Cohen, though, does see the difficultly of transitioning to the "commercial stage."

Pinterest is now working with big brands and figuring out how to tie the product into their objectives. Meanwhile, it has struggled a bit with copyright issues, though Cohen naturally gives Pinterest high marks for how it handled the issue. "They listened to others," he added.

Cohen has been doing this for almost 30 years and I wondered when he realized that Pinterest was something more than the average startup investment. He told me it's natural for an investor to talk to his family about the companies he's working with, at least initially. "After my first 15 or 20 investments, I got tired of telling my family. Twelve months ago I came home, before there was any noise, and I said to my daughter, 'Have you heard of this company?' She said ‘Really, Dad? My friends are obsessed with it.' That's when I knew."

Cohen seems honestly astounded by Pinterest's meteoric growth and success. He told me there's no way to explain how the company that has done no PR, no marketing and is still operating on an invite-only basis is "captivating so much of the conversation" and getting women to stay on the site for an hour or more at a time. "Unless he's tapped into some real, larger purpose of the Internet — he's found some sort of heartbeat that's going to continue to beat faster."

Bonus: 10 Creative Pinterest Board Hacks

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.

More About: pinterest, Startups, sxsw, trending

For more Social Media coverage:

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 12:18 PM PDT

1. Stop Kony

In the past week, a video showing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his presumed vile acts went viral across the world. The video, posted online by U.S.-based group Invisible Children, caused outrage among Internet users. A key way this outrage was expressed was by tweeting this image. #kony2012 and #stopkony were this week's most-popular subjects for photos on Twitter.

Click here to view this gallery.

You probably see a lot of pictures on Twitter during the week, but rarely do you encounter the 10 most popular Twitter pics all concentrated together in one place. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve arrived.

We wrangled an astonishing 45 million pictures posted on Twitter during last week, and then applied our exclusive algorithm to rank them according to popularity and hash tags. You can see the result in the gallery above.

Who thought up this crazy scheme? Why, our good friends, the geniuses at Skylines, researchers who know how to separate the wheat from the chaff better than anyone we know.

That said, it’s an odd batch this week, with a bit of mild humor and a few inside jokes, along with one or two examples you might’ve seen before. So have at it, and enjoy our top 10 Twitter pics of the week.

In case you missed them, here are last week's Top 10 Twitter Pics.

More About: Skylines, Top 10 Twitter Pics, trending, Twitter

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How Cut the Rope Made it to Windows 8 Consumer Preview Edition

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 11:49 AM PDT

Cut the Rope in Windows 8

Cut the Rope is one of those $0.99, ridiculously entertaining and addictive games/physics lessons on the iPad and iPhone. The app, which involves candy, a rope, a hungry green blob and your ability to both hit the floating stars and feed the blob, has been downloaded more than 60 million times. It's big. Not Angry Birds big, but still big enough. It's also one of the first apps to make it over to Microsoft‘s brand-new Windows 8 Consumer Preview. But how did it get there?

Cut the Rope is just one of the apps available (free for now) in the Windows App Store for the desktop OS update that at least a million people downloaded in 24 hours. Its path to Windows 8 Metro interface may be fairly indicative how other popular apps (on other more well-established app platforms) could make the same journey.

Though developed by ZeptoLab, Cut the Rope was ported by PixelLab, a small five-person development design shop and it wasn't originally ported for Windows 8. Robby Ingebretsen, Founder of Creative Director of Pixellab, says Microsoft played matchmaker and connected his firm with ZeptoLabs for an Internet Explorer 9 port. As a result, most of the heavy lifting, taking Cut the Rope's C++ code and converting it to HTML 5 and JavaScript was done last year. The work to bring Cut the Rope to Windows 8 Metro was relatively trivial and took about 10 days.

From a development standpoint, Ingebretsen likes what he sees in Windows 8. He said it's a high-quality platform without a lot of bugs and said it's "ready to work with and has a set of features that make sense." There are some feature tradeoffs, areas where Ingebretsen says he thinks Microsoft could have gone further — though Ingebretson did not elaborate. However, the tradeoffs Microsoft made to get this far with Windows 8 Consumer Preview's development environment are, he believes, "understandable decisions."

SEE ALSO: How Windows 8 Tablets Could Seriously Challenge the iPad

There are, actually, three Windows 8 app development flavors: HTML 5 (which is what Cut the Rope is built in), Direct X (mostly for gaming apps) and XAML (eXtensible Markup Language), which Ingebretsen said is a more sophisticated form of HTML, more akin to Microsoft's Silverlight, though Microsoft apparently does not like to call it that.

Ingebretsen also has kind words for Windows 8, in general. When he used it on a tablet, he said, "I was really surprised how much I loved it. A lot of UI stuff really made sense to me. I think Microsoft is incredibly innovative with UI, more than Apple or Android–really pushing boundaries of what you can do in digital design.”

Windows 8 Metro, for example, eschews old-school interface metaphors, so a button doesn't have to look like a button on screen. Has Microsoft gone too far? Ingebretsen does worry that Microsoft is positioning Windows "as being a UI that's touch first."

"I don't know," he continued, "if people are willing to make Windows touch first, yet. Not sure it feels right yet." That said, Ingebretsen does believe that with the amount of convergence on the horizon, Windows 8 Metro is "a really great bet for them."

Have you downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and tried some of the available apps? Tell us your experiences in the comments.

BONUS: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Good, the Bad and the Metro [REVIEW]

Start Menu

Here's what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it's a little unwieldy in practice.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: App, cut the rope, microsoft, Windows 8

Nike Releases FuelBand API at SXSW Music Hackathon

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 11:17 AM PDT

NikeFuel API

Nike will unleash the application programming interface (API) for NikeFuel — the company’s metric for tracking physical activity — during a music hackathon Sunday at South by Southwest.

NikeFuel is the technology behind Nike’s FuelBand, a waterproof wristband introduced in January that measures a user’s movement and syncs with an iPod touch or iPhone.

The API will allow third-party music developers to infuse NikeFuel features into their apps or platforms.

"Nike will be joining the Managers Hack to open up a BETA version of the NikeFuel API for the first time to developers interested in combining music with the Nike+ FuelBand," hackathon organizer and rep at startup Backplane told Mashable Friday.

Backplane, which created Lady Gaga’s new Little Monsters social network, along with music-streaming service Spotify organized the hackathon to build the future of digital music distribution.

SEE ALSO: Path Adds Nike+ Integration, Lets You Share Running Data With Friends

At the event, hackers have eight hours to create and plan a demo that will be judged by a panel of music industry managers, including Lady Gaga's manager Troy Carter (who co-founded Backplane), Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun and Roc Nation President Jay Brown. People from Spotify, Pandora, Nike and SoundHound also will help choose a winner.

The Managers Hack will be live streamed (see video below) starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Randi Zuckerberg, who left her role as marketing director at Facebook in August to launch RtoZ Media, will provide commentary throughout the event.

What Is Nike+ FuelBand?

Nike+ FuelBand

The Nike+ FuelBand is a new wristband that tracks a metric that Nike has developed called "Fuel," which measures all physical activity across sports.

Click here to view this gallery.

What Is NikeFuel?

More About: api, backplane, fitness, fuelband, hackathon, health, Music, Nike, sports, spotify, sxsw, sxsw 2012

Tether For iPhone Returns For $30 a Year

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 10:47 AM PDT

iTether is back for the iPhone and iPad. But this time it comes with a new name — Tether for iPhone — and in the form of an HTML5 app that circumvents Apple’s App Store entirely.

iTether originally launched an iPhone app last November. The $14.99 app allowed you to tether your iPhone to a computer and use it as a web connection without paying any additional fees for your carrier.

The app was particularly attractive for people who have unlimited data plans, and particularly unattractive to mobile carriers who traditionally charge to enable the tethering or hotspot capability on smartphones. While it did initially make it into the App Store, iTether was removed by Apple shortly after launch with the claim that it "burdens the carrier network."

The HTML5 Tether for iPhone will be available next week for $15 a year, and you can pre-order it now from the Tether site here. After its initial launch week, Tether will be increasing the subscription price to $30 a year.

“It was clear from our initial application, iTether, there was enormous demand within the iPhone ecosystem,” says Tim Burke, CEO of Tether. “It was unfortunate that Apple decided to remove our application only 20 hours after we launched. However, this caused us to innovate. Our underlying patent-pending technology behind Tether for iPhone is unlike anything on the market.”

The new version of iTether is purely based on HTML5 and creates a wireless connection over Ad-Hoc mode. With the HTML5 version there’s no need to purchase an app from the App Store, and the service can work on any web-connected iPad or iPhone.

Tether currently provides tethering services to over 500,000 users on Android and BlackBerry devices, as well as the few who were able to scoop up iTether in November before it was removed.

“Look to innovate when the world is pushing you back!” Tether CMO Patrick Hankinson told Mashable. “There are quite a few great apps that Apple has removed over the years that could definitely be built over HTML5.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, builtbydave

More About: apple, apps, HTML5, Tethering, trending

SXSW Insights: What People Talked About on Saturday [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 10:14 AM PDT

If there’s one thing SXSW attendees love, it’s talking about SXSW on their favorite social networks.

There were more than 300,000 social shares across networks that mentioned SXSW on Saturday alone, according to Meltwater Group.

SEE ALSO: SXSW Tour: Rain, Food Trucks and Whimsical, Bizarre Promotions [PICS]

Meltwater used its Meltwater Buzz tool to crawl Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, comments, and message boards to find out what people were talking about. Check out the infographic below to see the biggest buzzed-about topics and people from Saturday at SXSW 2012.

Meltwater's SXSW Day 2 graphic

More About: infographic, Meltwater, social buzz, sxsw, trending

Gowalla Is Officially Shut Down

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 09:48 AM PDT

Three months after its acquisition by Facebook, Gowalla has officially shut down.  Gowalla was a location-based check-in service that directly rivaled foursquare. Both Gowalla and foursquare launched at SXSW in 2009.  Three years later during SXSW 2012, the plug has officially been pulled on Gowalla’s service.

After Gowalla’s acquisition by Facebook, former CEO of Gowalla Josh Williams has been working on an API for Facebook that would allow developers to further integrate location services with shared content. Facebook aims to use its acquisition of Gowalla to further integrate itself in its users’ daily lives.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s Plans for Gowalla Revealed

With the shift to Timeline, Facebook is attempting to give users a service to document their lives, rather than simply discuss what is happening on one day.  Facebook software engineer Alex Wyler wrote of Facebook’s push to include more details on shared content, “Starting today, location and friends can be added as properties to any photo, link, or status written from an app. This is similar to the functionality a user has when they add a photo or updates their status.”

While we will see hints of it integrated into Facebook, Gowalla is gone. Users will soon be able to access and download their Gowalla content, but will they transition to foursquare for future check-ins?

What do you think Gowalla’s shutdown means for foursquare? Let us know in the comments below.

More About: foursquare, gowalla, sxsw, sxsw 2012, trending

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Skillshare Launches ‘Schools’ for Brands

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 09:12 AM PDT

Whether they’re teaching classes about authentic Moroccan tagine cooking or how to live rent-free in New York City, peer-to-peer learning startup Skillshare lets its users market their classes online.

Now it also wants to be a place where brands, small businesses, non-profits and other organizations can market classes taught by their employees.

The startup launched branded hubs for organizations called “schools” this week. Its first partner for the new feature is GE, which launched a traveling workshop for teaching people how to use power tools (and other classes) at South by Southwest.

Brands list the classes their employees are teaching on Schools pages. They can also choose to feature classes from other Skillshare users. GE didn’t pay for its branded hub, but eventually Skillshare plans to turn the feature into a new revenue stream.

Small businesses have from the beginning used their Skillshare profile pages and classes to promote themselves. However, accounts designed for individuals don’t serve the needs of large organizations.

Establishing “schools” in addition to “classes” increases both Skillshare’s potential offerings and profits.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: peer-to-peer marketplace, skillshare, sxsw

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5 Free Animated GIF Creators You Can Use Online

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 08:11 AM PDT

1. LooGix

LooGix lets you make GIFs from a minimum of two frames to a maximum of 10. You can adjust the size and speed to preset levels.

In addition to GIF-making, this service offers "special effects," such as blurring, rotation, fading, etc.

Once you're done, upload your GIF to social services, get the HTML code to embed or send it via email.

Click here to view this gallery.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then an animated GIF must be good for a few more. Whether you want to animate your avatar, get involved in a meme, or amuse your friends with a funny photo sequence, an animated GIF is a great way to do it.

We have found — and tried and tested — five free online services that make creating animated GIFs an absolute cinch. With click-to-upload functionality and simple settings to customize your creation, you’ll be a GIF-engineer in no time at all.

SEE ALSO: How to Animate Your Google+ Profile

Take a look through the gallery for a brief overview of the five free tools we’ve tried and tested. And remember folks, animated GIFs should be used sparingly.

More About: features, GIFs, online, photo editing, software, trending

To Follow or Not To Follow: Should Small Businesses Follow Everyone Back on Twitter?

Posted: 11 Mar 2012 07:25 AM PDT

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

Marketers know that Twitter is a valuable tool used to reach out to thousands of customers. But it’s not just the output of content that’s valuable — the people and other businesses you follow on social media are of equal worth.

Unless your account is private, you have no control over who is following you (unless you block them). However, you personally select your followers. But as a business with thousands of followers, is it wise to follow every single person who follows you?

SEE ALSO: How to Turn Social Feedback into Valuable Business Data

“Don’t fall into the trap of something I call a ‘courtesy’ follow — that is, following someone that has followed you out of a desire to appear grateful,” advises Sheena Medina, community manager at Fast Company.

Medina, who says this “does nothing but fill your stream with noise,” cites President Barack Obama’s account, @BarackObama, which at one point was following 702,586 users — the most on Twitter. The account, overwhelmed by tweets, is in dire need of a bit of damage control. But, unable to dump seven hundred thousand followers at once, the admins must slowly reduce its followers in order to keep the President’s social media-friendly image in tact.

On the other hand, some say that businesses should follow back, so that their followers may DM them privately.

“Here’s a way to look at it — would you put up a web page without adding your email address or a contact form so that people could reach out to you privately?” asks Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton, inbound marketing evangelist for HubSpot, and lead author of Twitter for Dummies. “As a business, not following someone back means you’re telling them, ‘Thanks for your support, but you’re not important enough to us to be willing to listen to you privately.’”

Fitton says she tries to reply to all of the genuine direct mentions, and when possible, she will thank or respond to @-mentions and retweets.

“Above and beyond that, stuff like retweeting their content, asking them questions and truly listening to their answers, giving them interesting stuff to interact with are all good ways to engage your community,” she says.

Both Fitton and Medina encourage businesses to refrain from using an automated “thanks for following” mention. If you do decide to follow everyone, authenticity is key. Your followers will be able to tell whether they’re talking to a robot or a person — and a real person is always more valuable on Twitter.

If you do decide not to follow everyone on Twitter, Medina advises to be strategic about curating your stream on Twitter — knowing your audience helps, but you must also think about what sort of content is going to be useful and entertaining to you.

“We’re not one-dimensional people,” says Medina. “And increasingly, businesses are using Twitter to show how multifaceted they are. Your stream should reflect the dynamics of your personality and business.”

As a small business owner, do you follow every follower back? What ways do you show appreciation to your fans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStock, matspersson0

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips
- Community Managers Share Best Productivity Apps and Tools
- 4 Tools for Better Agency-Client Collaboration

More About: features, followers, mashable, open forum, Small Business, Twitter

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