Friday, 2 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “6 Excellent iPhone Apps Worth Paying For”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “6 Excellent iPhone Apps Worth Paying For”

6 Excellent iPhone Apps Worth Paying For

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 01:35 AM PST

1. FlightTrack Pro

Have you ever looked out the window while flying 30,000 feet in the air and wondered where the heck you were? Well, with FlightTrack Pro, an app that works in airplane mode, you are able to pull up a map of your location and see where you are, how fast you are going and how high above ground you really are. On the flip side, if you want to make sure your loved one lands safely, you can track specific flights and get push notifications and information about where they are and when they land. The app also has the capability to notify the flyer of gate changes, flight delays and advance weather forecasts of your destination.

Cost: $9.99

Click here to view this gallery.

In a sea of free iPhone apps, a few paid options stand out from the crowd. With everyday conveniences based on where you are and what you’re doing, here’s a handful that will get you going. Don't worry, sometimes it's OK to splurge just a little.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, gianlucabartoli.

More About: apps, features, iphone, Mobile, Tech

The Many Tablets of Mobile World Congress [PICS]

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 01:05 AM PST


A selection of Allview devices.

Click here to view this gallery.

BARCELONA: Although most manufacturers were focused on smartphones at this year’s Mobile World Congress – and we’ve seen some amazing ones, such as the HTC One X or the LG Optimus 4X HD – there was no shortage of tablets in Barcelona.

The problem with tablets, of course, is that they all look the same, so some manufacturers tried to ruffle things a little bit. Fujitsu showed a waterproof tablet, for example, while LG introduce an smartphone/tablet hybrid called the Optimus Vu, featuring a 5-inch screen with an unusual 4:3 aspect ratio.

However, this year’s conference – perhaps more than ever – showed that, when it comes to smartphones and tablets, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. With most major manufacturers having access to similar technology, such as Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, it’s the software and the apps that make the difference.

There’s another interesting point that I’ve argued during the conversations with the journalists and the developers at the MWC – the simplicity of today’s smartphones and tablets may be a good thing, as it makes manufacturers focus on the details. Having a device that’s just a little lighter than the others, or is slightly better built makes a difference, which ultimately results in very polished, almost perfect smartphones and tablets.

We’ve created a gallery of the tablets we’ve encountered at the Mobile World Congress this year. Now that the iPad 3 is around the corner, we’ll soon find how well these stack up to the current king of the tablet market.

More About: fujitsu, Mobile World Congress, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Tablet, tablets, tegra 3, ViewSonic

iPad App Combines Your Child’s Artwork and Voice

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 09:07 PM PST

ipad children

An iPad app released Wednesday makes it easy to combine a drawing on the tablet with an audio memory — such as your child’s description of his or her artwork.

The app, Draw and Tell, features a standard coloring palette of 27 crayons, pencils or brushes. But in addition to the color selections, stamps, stickers and stencils, it has an option to record a short message to attach to the drawing.

Other apps such as Fotobabble marry sound and images, but the concept seems particularly well-suited to a children’s drawing app. As demonstrated in this YouTube video, the app has potential to increase the “aww” factor of sending a drawing to grandma.

SEE ALSO: New iPad App Reinvents the Coloring Book — With Butts

After testing out my own coloring skills on the app, my only criticism is this: The sharing capabilities are limited. There aren’t any buttons to share the drawings through email, Facebook or Twitter. Rather, the app saves drawings as video files on your photo roll. It’s up to you to email and share them as you would with any video.

Still, the “aww” moment might be worth the extra steps — as long as grandma is tech-savvy enough to open a video attachment.

BONUS: 10 iPad Apps To Put on Your Radar

We've compiled a list of free iPhone apps that will help get you through each day, whether it's waking up in the morning, keeping up with the news or managing your to-do list.

1. Alarm Clock HD

Start the morning off right with this app that wakes you up to your favorite music, has built-in weather information and can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter updates.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, UrsaHoogle

More About: apps, draw and tell, ipad, Kids, mobile apps

For more Mobile coverage:

YouTube’s 20 Most-Shared Ads in February [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 08:49 PM PST

It’s probably no surprise that the most shared You Tube ads in February are from Super Bowl XLVI. Many of the ads appeared in last month’s post, as well — advertisers are keen on building buzz around their particular ads even before the Super Bowl airs.

Accounting for more than half of the top 20, Super Bowl ad success shows that investing in America’s most watched sporting event can pay dividends in the long run.

Ads like Chevrolet’s “2012″ generated controversy by insinuating that not only are Chevy trucks better than the competition’s — specifically, Ford — but that Ford owners would be doomed when faced with an apocalyptic robot alien war. Maybe that’s okay, though, if all we’re left with is a box of Twinkies.

SEE ALSO: Super Bowl 2012 Commercials: Watch Them All Here

Other ads were less controversial, but certainly caught the attention of comedians and writers, especially on Saturday Night Live. Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” ad was spoofed by the SNL team and Bill Hader.

We also have to give a shoutout to the Old Spice/Bounce ad, directed by comedians Tim and Eric. It was a great way to incorporate two products into one hilarious, memorable 30-second spot.

Finally, claiming the spot at the top of the heap, stars participated in a music video that touted the greatness and importance of Kim Dotcom’s file locker service. Maybe Mr. Dotcom’s recent release on bail helped spur the uptick in views? This ad was number-two last month, but has moved up to the top slot. Will it hold for another month?

We’ll let you be the judge. Which ads did you share with your friends in February that didn’t make the list?

Thanks to our friends at Unruly for compiling the list.

1. Megaupload Mega Song HD

We've discussed Kim Dotcom's grandiose lifestyle in previous posts. Maybe his recent release on bail has caused a sharing spike for his eponymous theme song?

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ozgurdonmaz

More About: Advertising, features, Super Bowl, Video, YouTube

Buy or Sell Forgotten Deals On CoupFlip

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 08:33 PM PST

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

Name: CoupFlip

Quick Pitch: Buy and sell Groupon and LivingSocial vouchers.

Genius Idea: Somewhere between 20% and 40% of Groupon vouchers go unredeemed. Miss a sale? Buy too many? CoupFlip lets you find great deals and nevers let a voucher go unused.

The problem with timed deal sites is that sometimes you make purchases too hastily. Or, if you’re an overly-cautious type, you might wait too long and miss the deal entirely. CoupFlip takes some of this pressure off. Miss an awesome deal on Groupon? See if it’s for sale on CoupFlip. Buy tickets on LivingSocial to an event you no longer wan to attend? Sell the vouchers on CoupFlip.

Launched in 2011, CoupFlip buys and sells LivingSocial and Groupon vouchers. Users shop deals according to price range, location on a map, keywords or category, like “clothing,” “spa/beauty,” “travel,” etc. They can earn $5 for making a friend referral through Facebook Connect.

Phil McDonnell, Fred Schwarz and Mike Cwalinsk co-founded CoupFlip. McDonnell recalls attending a small-business marketing pitch by Groupon in his hometown of Seattle, notes the CoupFlip site. He remembered a surprising statistic about Groupon vouchers: “20%-40% of Groupons went unused.” McDonnell began thinking of how he could help buyers and sellers get those assets back.

It was at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in 2010 where McDonnell met Schwarz and Cwalinski. The trio developed a business plan, and CoupFlip was co-founded in 2011. It received funding the following year.

CoupFlip promises that, unlike other voucher-selling sites, you don’t have to wait for someone to buy your deal to get the cash. Sites such as Lifesta (now defunct), CoupRecoup, and Dealigee all offer places where consumers can buy or sell their daily deals. These other sites accept a wider variety of vouchers than CoupFlip, which only deals with Groupon and LivingSocial vouchers.

CoupFlip doesn’t charge users to buy or sell vouchers on its site. But the site may offer sellers a lower price for their deals than what they paid.

“CoupFlip uses complex algorithms that factor in measures of marketplace demand, expiration dates, coupon types, and many other factors to provide as fair an offer as possible to sellers,” notes the site’s FAQ page.

What do you think about CoupFlip and sites that allow users to buy and sell daily deals? Have you used these sites? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, coupons, daily deals, groupon, LivingSocial

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Apple’s iPad 3 Event Invitation: 7 Clues You Might Have Missed

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 07:54 PM PST

1. No Home Button

First noticed by reader BenAmirault, the lack of home button on the iPad shown in the invitation has been the primary focus of attention. While many leapt to the conclusion that Apple may be getting rid of the home button (Steve Jobs famously didn't like buttons at all), others quickly pointed out that the iPad could just be in in landscape mode. However, some other clues may prove it's not that simple...

Click here to view this gallery.

In case you’ve been living in the analog world for the past few days, Apple sent out invitations Tuesday to an event to be held next week. And the Internet exploded, right on schedule.

Apple, true to form, has not said anything about what products or services it’ll unveil next week, or if it’ll unveil anything at all. Nonetheless, based on past history, a nonstop cavalcade of rumors, and third-party sources, Apple is all but guaranteed launch the next iPad, aka the iPad 3, at its March 7 event.

That much was effectively confirmed by Apple’s invitation, which shows a picture of a finger reaching out and touching what can only be an iPad screen, along with the words, “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

That’s all we have to go on, at least officially. That’s when we turned to you, faithful Mashable readers, to see if there were any clues in the invitation that might not be obvious. It wasn’t much to work with, but that one image and those 10 words prompted a frenzy of digital forensic examination the likes of which could only be matched by an entire season of CSI.

SEE ALSO: Forget the iPad 3 — I'd Still Buy an iPad 2

From the wording to the visible apps to the pattern of droplets on the screen, readers extracted clue after clue as to exactly what the iPad 3 might be. Keep in mind that all of this is highly speculative, that Apple could have easily Photoshopped the image extensively, and the company is notorious for its misdirection over rumors.

Still, the invite is real, and it really came from Apple. Here’s what our readers were able to extract. Feel free to share any more theories in the comments.

More About: apple, ipad, ipad 3, itv, tablets, trending

Why Pinterest Aligns Perfectly With The Today Show’s Content Strategy

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 07:25 PM PST

If you've skimmed the TODAY Show's website recently, you may have noticed something familiar. It looks a heck of a lot like Pinterest.

In fact, Pinterest is influencing website design all over the place. Companies are favoring intensely visual, accessible design elements similar to the pins on Pinterest.

TODAY has found that a similar site concept resonates with its Pinterest users. "There's something about the mindset of Pinterest that is similar to what [people] love about — and that's discovery," says TODAY's digital director, Jen Brown. "Sometimes I go to Pinterest and I'm not sure what exactly I want, but I know I'm going to find something fun. That's really how we try to program our site."

SEE ALSO: How Pinterest Is Changing Website Design Forever

Brown explains that, similar to Pinterest, provides people with five minutes-worth of entertaining, interesting content that they can discuss at their happy hours or mommy groups. She says that both Pinterest and give users "a little moment that they can take away with them when they have a chance."

Those "moments" also originate from the TODAY Show broadcast itself, Brown says. The show lends itself well to visual snapshots, which incidentally, work well on Pinterest. For instance, when a Rockefeller Plaza fan brought a picture of Matt Lauer as Rosie the Riveter, TODAY's digital team recognized that the occasion would pin well to Pinterest. "You have to grab that one moment and put it out there," says Brown.

Other content that does well on the TODAY Show Pinterest? Food, animals, travel and aspirational messages, says Brown. And we're not talking complicated, gourmet dishes, but rather, accessible meals that anyone can tackle. That mindset has a lot to do with TODAY's family-centric, female demographic. And while many would argue that Pinterest's 82% female user base and the TODAY Show's audience couldn't be a better fit, "TODAY means different things on different platforms, so I don't think it's a one-to-one correlation," says Brown. "But we try to be mindful that [the show has] a very specific audience with specific behaviors and specific interests."

Brown suggests that users embrace a similar brand of specificity in their own Pinterest activities. She advises that pinners use the platform with targeted goals in mind — her first boards organized ideas and inspiration for redecorating her living room. “That really gave me a reason to look for various rugs that go with my weird green couch," she says. "When you have a purpose, it becomes really fun to search and explore, and you find the people who are talking about the same things."

How do you see Pinterest affecting the social media presences of media and entertainment organizations in the future? Let us know your thoughts about TODAY's strategy in the comments below.

More About: design, Entertainment, features, Media, pinterest, TV

For more Dev & Design coverage:

It’s Official: AT&T Will Throttle Your Unlimited Data Plan

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 06:57 PM PST

AT&T on Thursday put limits on its Unlimited Data plans, slowing speeds for 3G and 4G customers who exceed 3 GB in a billing cycle and capping 4G LTE customers at 5 GB.

On a support page explaining the move, the carrier stressed that “you’ll still be able to use as much data as you want. That won’t change.”

Previously, AT&T had only slowed the speeds of customers who were in the top 5% of their respective markets, a practice known as throttling. Despite the changes, AT&T insists that 95% of smartphone users won’t be throttled. The change came about because “customers had told us that more clarity would be helpful,” an AT&T rep says.

Those that are affected will receive a text message explaining that their usage is near 3 GB (or 5GB for LTE users). Exceeding that threshold “will result in reduced data speeds, though you’ll still be able to email and surf the web.”

AT&T isn’t disclosing how fast speeds will run for users who have been throttled.

SEE ALSO: Your Bandwidth Will Be Throttled. Here’s Why.

Citing the strain on its network wrought by data-hungry iPhones, AT&T began throttling data for its top 5% of users last month, a practice also followed by Verizon. (Sprint, meanwhile, throttles just the top 1% of data hogs.)

Predictably, many AT&T customers have been riled by the move, citing the plan’s claim to “unlimited data.”

Though AT&T’s contract forbids such users from joining in a class-action suit, a California man last week successfully sued AT&T in small claims court, receiving a judgment worth $850.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, geoadventures

More About: att, iphones, throttling, trending

For more Mobile coverage:

Is Social Media Actually Making Us Less Connected?

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 06:36 PM PST

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Checking email during meetings. Shopping on your smartphone in the middle of class. Texting at funerals. These are a few of the examples that MIT professor Sherry Turkle offered during her TEDTalk on Thursday, in which she argued that "technology is taking us places we don't want to go."

Turkle, a psychologist who leads MIT's Initiative on Technology and Self, believes that while our constant communication and social media engagement does make us more connected, it's coming at the sacrifice of real conversation.

And she thinks that will have some serious consequences for our relationships, our self-perceptions and our emotions.

One major issue, she said, is that when we text, email or post to a social networking site, we're able to project ourselves as we want to be seen. "We get to edit, we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch."

Inversely, Turkle notes that a face-to-face conversation "takes place in real time and you can't control what you're going to say."

Further, with our phones at our constant disposal, Turkle says we're only paying attention to the things we want to pay attention to. And that leaves us increasingly disconnected from our friends, family and co-workers as we simply turn to our devices when a conversation no longer interests us.

This creates a situation that Turkle said makes us, "expect more from technology and less from each other." In the long run, she thinks technology is ultimately headed towards creating a Siri-like program that can offer "companionship without the demands of friendship."

There's certainly plenty of data that supports Turkle's argument. Surveys showing that we're increasingly texting and social networking during meal time or in the bedroom have become commonplace.

But what's to be done about it? Turkle isn't calling for a return to the dark ages of pre-smartphone life. Rather, she says it's time for us to have a more self-aware relationship with technology. And in turn, we should do things like create sacred places at home and at work where we leave the devices out.

Turkle's remarks drew an emphatic standing ovation from the TED crowd. But we want to know what you think: Does technology threaten the quality of our relationships and personal development, or are such fears an overblown perception of a generation that didn't grow up with digital? Let us know in the comments.

More About: psychology, Social Media, TED

How a Mobile Game Dominated the App Store Without Any Press

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 06:28 PM PST

Draw Something, a Pictionary-like game for iOS and Android, had 1 million downloads before it had a single search result in Google News.

“There was nothing written about us,” says Dan Porter, the CEO of a company called OMGPOP that created the app. “[Reporters] weren't interested. I tried, but I couldn't even get their attention.”

Press is often cited as the best way to get an app to stand apart from the approximately 500,000 others in the App Store, hopefully catalyzing its rise to visibility in one of Apple’s top app lists. Draw Something, however, reached the top slot on that list with minimal media attention. At a little shy of four weeks old, the app has about 6 million downloads and users that are creating 1,000 drawings every second.

“It's like the difference between winning the Super Bowl and having a football team where you win three games in a season,” Porter says of the app’s success compared to that of OMGPOP’s more than 30 online and mobile games.

Draw Something, he says, brings in more revenue in one day than all of OMGPOP’s other properties combined do in a month.

So what is the secret sauce behind Draw Something’s viral quality? What about it is different than the other OMGPOP mobile games that did OK, but never dominated the app store — and how can other app developers replicate it?

Porter’s answer, in short, is that Draw Something is just awesome — and social.

“What was the marketing plan for Facebook when it started?” he asks. “Create this amazing thing that people want to use and tell their friends…It has to do with how you make the product itself.”

Other than being awesome, here are some strategies Porter suggests for dominating the App Store:

  • Build viral features into your app. Draw Something, for instance, urges users to invite their friends as opponents.
  • Advertise in other apps. Companies like Tapjoy let developers advertise their apps within other apps. “The only place to advertise an app is in another app,” Porter says. “Nowhere else matters.”
  • Don’t depend on advertising. The first rule of apps is still to be awesome. You can buy your way to the top of the app store through advertising, but if you ignore this first rule, you’ll just sink back down. Porter says that fewer than 5% of Draw Something’s users came from advertising. “It was just enough to light the match,” he says. “The huge fire came after that.”
  • Choose a less-competitive category. Maybe your app belongs in both “trivia” and “games.” Choose the category with less competition.
  • Check out Twitter. When your app goes live, look at what people are saying about it on Twitter and adjust accordingly. “It’s like a real-time focus group,” Porter says.
  • Keep users in your app. When you do hit the top of the app list, make sure your app is cool enough to open again after it’s downloaded. People who download apps are more likely to show their friends an app they actually use than one that just sits on their phone’s third screen. “If you can keep those people in your app,” Porter says, “you can kind of grow from there. But if they never open it again, it just doesn't matter.”
  • To be fair, OMGPOP did have some advantages in spreading the word about Draw Something. It was, for instance, able to drive 30,000 downloads in the app’s first day through its own well-established website. Not everybody has a website that gets that much traffic, but Porter still thinks anyone has a shot at making the next killer app.

    “When you bake word-of-month and viral activity into the product, it doesn't have to be about the marketing,” he says. “It's how you create the product.”

    More About: apps, Draw something, features, games, Gaming, Mobile, omgpop

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Quiet Please! SpeechJammer Device Cuts You Off in Mid-Sentence [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 06:12 PM PST

Japanese inventors, presumably looking for some peace and quiet, have invented SpeechJammer — a device that can instantly shut down a person’s ability to speak.

You might be familiar with that odd echo when your speech is played back to you immediately after you’ve spoken. It happens sometimes on speakerphones, conference calls, and the odd speaking engagement in a football stadium when you ask people to “please rise for our national anthem.”

It’s even more vexing when your speech is played back to you between 9.2 and 192 milliseconds later — to the point where you’re positively speechless. This disorienting phenomenon is called Delayed Auditory Feedback.

The SpeechJammer prototype is a handheld device that looks a lot like a radar gun the cops use to nab you for speeding. It records your speech, then plays it back at you within that crucial millisecond time frame.

The result? Its makers at Arvix (PDF link) say it’s fully capable of “disturbing” speech from as far as 100 feet away. Just think: Librarians can halt chatterboxes in midsentence, malevolent dictators can stop speech they don’t like, and harried parents might be able to muzzle their talkative teenagers.

No matter the high hopes of this intimidating device, I have to wonder if it is impossible to speak when your words are played back to you, no matter what the duration of the delay. If you concentrate hard enough, you can do it. I had an important phone call like that last week, and somehow struggled through. Still, it was a stressful experience.

How about you? Let us know in the comments if you think you could overcome this trap-shutting thingamajig.

More About: Inventions, Prototypes, speech

Justin Bieber Fans Break Social Media World Record

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:54 PM PST

While Justin Bieber rallied fans Thursday to donate to charity: water for his 18th birthday, his fans were also busy trying to break the Guinness World Records mark for most social media messages sent in a 24-hour period.

Early results from AgencyNet, the creators of Bieber’s official website, show the fans’ attempt appears to have already broken the previous record of 209,771 mentions set by the Beat Cancer Everywhere campaign in 2009.

Twitter account @JBworldrecord tweeted that Bieber fans reached 214,900 mentions at 12:53 p.m. ET with 11 hours to go at the time. The tally at 7:27 p.m. was 292,069 mentions, which included this phrase that was first sent when the clock struck midnight on March 1:

Pattie Mallette — Bieber’s mother who inadvertently catapulted his music career into super stardom in 2007 after uploading a video of her son performing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick”– even got in on the action.

AgencyNet organized more than 40,000 Bieber Fever victims through a birthday landing page, which lets them RSVP via their Facebook accounts. The event description instructed participants to tweet or retweet on Twitter, or post to Facebook the above message.

Guinness World Records still has the verify the messages after March 1 ends before a new record is set.

Until that confirmation surfaces, the official record still belongs to Everywhere for its #BeatCancer campaign, which raised $70,000 for cancer charities.

“I'm pleased and frankly shocked that our record stood for nearly two-and-a-half years, given the rapid evolution of social media,” Everywhere managing partner and cancer survivor Tamara Knechtel told Mashable. “We really set a precedent in proving that social media could be used for social good and we raised $70,000 along the way for cancer-serving non-profits.”

SEE ALSO: Justin Bieber Turns Birthdays Into Social Good Holidays

Bieber has built a massive fan base across social networks — particularly on Facebook and Twitter — so it should come as no surprise that his fans assembled to give him a world record as a birthday gift. Bieber has 17.8 million Twitter followers and 40.8 million Facebook “Likes.”

BONUS: The Road to Bieber Fever [INFOGRAPHIC]

In January, Bieber celebrated his fifth YouTube anniversary. His official YouTube channel has 2.3 billion views. For a quick glimpse at Bieber’s high-profile YouTube ride, check out the fun tidbits below thanks to Danish social media agency Crisp Social, that created the infographic for Mashable in January.

More About: celebrities, Entertainment, Facebook, guinness world records, justin bieber, Music, Social Media, Twitter

Netflix Loses Toy Story 3, Tron and 1,000 More Movies

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:39 PM PST

Premium cable network Starz pulled its movies from Netflix streaming as of Thursday at midnight.

For Netflix customers, this means no more Toy Story 3, no more Tron, no more Billy Madison and no more access to about 1,000 other movies that were previously in the “Starz Play” section of the Netflix site.

Starz announced in September 2011 that it would be ending a relationship with Netflix that began in late 2008. The companies’ agreement expired Tuesday.

“This decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content,” Starz said last September.

As the New York Times points out, the loss of Starz movies doesn’t necessarily mean Netflix is doomed. Movies from Starz account for just 2% of all viewing, Netflix told the Times, down from 8% a year ago.

While preparing for its film offerings to dwindle, Netflix has beefed up its television offerings. The company has made plans to add, for instance, original episodes of Arrested Development. The Disney-ABC Television Group extended and expanded its relationship with the platform in November 2011.

The company has also started making original television series, the first of which debuted last month.

Netflix is not only facing competition from sites that stream movie content — such as YouTube, Amazon and Dish Network — but also those that stream TV programming.

TV streaming site Hulu, which is jointly owned by NBC Universal, News Corporation and The Walt Disney Company, has also started to create original content. Its CEO, Jason Kilar, recently noted that the company will invest $500 million in content this year.

Will you be sticking with Netflix now that its Starz movies are gone? If not, which service will you use? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: Netflix History

1. Netflix Stock Hits All-Time High

July 13, 2011

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

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ross Catrow

More About: hulu, netflix, trending, video streaming

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Cord-Cutting Startup Aereo Sued by Broadcasters

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 04:58 PM PST

Aereo, the startup that aims to help New York City residents stream live broadcast television online, is being sued by Fox, Univision, Tribune Company and PBS.

The broadcasters allege that Aereo’s service violates copyright laws under the United States Copyright Act and unfair competition statutes under the common law of the State of New York.

As we discussed in our review of Aereo, the startup hoped to mitigate some of its legal hurdles when it designed the service. Rather than serving signals from one transmitter, Aereo works by deploying thousands of tiny antennas to deliver over-the-air (OTA) HD signal over the Internet.

The idea is that by offering a one-to-one deployment, Aereo isn’t violating any public performance laws.

In the complaint, embedded below, the broadcasters think differently. They write:

Copyright law, however, does not permit Aereo to appropriate to itself the value of Plaintiffs’ television programming by retransmitting it over the Internet without proper licenses.
It simply does not matter whether Aereo uses one big antenna to receive Plaintiffs’ broadcasts and retransmit them to subscribers, or “tons” of “tiny” antennas, as Aereo claims it does. No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo – or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated “rabbit ears” – changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit Plaintiffs’ broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs’ authority.
Simply put, Aereo is an unauthorized Internet delivery service that is receiving, converting and retransmitting broadcast signals to its subscribers for a fee.

The plaintiffs, who seek injunctive relief and damages, include:

  • WNET — Non-profit educational corporation that is responsible for public stations WNET and WLIW in New York.
  • THIRTEEN — Wholly-owned subsidiary of WNET and a major producer of PBS content. It’s the PBS affiliate in New York City.
  • Fox Television Stations — Fox affiliates WNYW and WWOR
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • WPIX — The CW affiliate in New York City
  • Univision Television Group — Owns WTV in New York City.
  • Univision Network Limited Partnership
  • PBS

We’ve reached out to Aereo, but the company is not commenting on the lawsuit.

SEE ALSO: Aereo Gives New Yorkers Online Access to Live TV [HANDS ON]

Fortunately for Aereo, the startup has some backup. IAC is the lead investor of its $20.5 million series A. Its CEO Barry Diller introduced Aereo at a media event in New York City in February. Diller seemed unconcerned about the expected legal challenges. Aereo’s CEO Chet Kanojia joked that the funding the company raised would go towards “infrastructure and lawyers.”

Ironically, Diller is co-founder of Fox Broadcasting Company, which includes its flagship WNYW station.

At Aereo’s media event in February, Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu remarked that the company seemed ripe as a final exam question in a course on copyright law. Much of the law regarding Aereo’s claims are murky or untested, especially in the context of online distribution.

We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops. Do you think the broadcasters have a point? Let us know in the comments.

Broadcasters v. Aereo

More About: Aereo, copyright law, cord cutting, lawsuits, online television

Facebook’s Time Travel Problem: Timeline Only Goes Back To 1800

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 04:38 PM PST

Facebook Timeline has a time problem: Profiles using the new design can only go back as far as the year 1800.

Facebook Timeline pages for brands launched Wednesday, and some more elderly brands — such as Princeton and the U.S. Army — are starting to notice they predate Facebook’s 1800 barrier. That’s not a problem for personal Facebook users, unless there are some time travelers, vampires or Highlanders among us.

So far, brands that have been around longer than two centuries are making do with the limitation. They’ve got no choice — brands that make the switch can’t go back to the old profile design. All brand pages will be forcibly changed by the end of March.

“At this time, this page only allows us to go back to 1800,” reads the U.S. Army’s earliest milestone marker. “However, we were ‘founded’ in 1775.”

Princeton University’s social media coordinator noted a similar issue in a tweet:

The U.S. Navy has the same problem, but its “birth” post doesn’t directly mention Facebook’s 1800 limitation.

“On Friday, October 13, 1775, meeting in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress voted to fit out two sailing vessels, armed with ten carriage guns, as well as swivel guns, and manned by crews of eighty, and to send them out on a cruise of three months to intercept transports carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America,” reads the Navy’s post. “This was the original legislation out of which the Continental Navy grew and as such constitutes the birth certificate of the navy.”

SEE ALSO: Facebook Timeline Brand Pages Are Here [PICS]

Will Facebook change the seemingly arbitrary year 1800 limit? We contacted the company for comment, and will let you know if we get a response.

More About: Facebook, facebook timeline

Wiz Khalifa Announces Engagement on Twitter [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 04:27 PM PST

Rapper Wiz Khalifa proposed to his lady, musician Amber Rose, Thursday, and the web went wild when he tweeted an Instagram photo of the rock on her finger with the message “She Said Yes!!!”

Shortly after, Khalifa’s newly blinged out fiancee sent her own announcement tweet:

Those tweets and pics have been favorited and retweeted like mad, and the couples’ fans have been sending congratulations tweets all afternoon, sending “Wiz and Amber” to Twitter‘s list of trending topics. Khalifa has responded to a number of them with thank-you messages.

SEE ALSO: For Marriage Proposal, Man Uses Meme and Asks Internet for Help [PICS]

Check out the video above to learn more about the Twittering love birds.

More About: celebrities, instagram, marriage proposal, mashable video, Twitter

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Anonymous: We Were Infiltrated by Police

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 03:50 PM PST

After 25 members of Anonymous were arrested on cybercrime charges in South America and Europe Wednesday, a vital question was left unanswered: How, exactly, did police track down the suspects?

Anonymous is a loosely organized collective of “hacktivists.” Its members remain hidden behind pseudonyms, not unlike characters in The Matrix. Given its members’ technological prowess, it was considered unlikely that police could trace their online activity.

However, Anonymous’ structure included a fatal flaw: members don’t usually share their real-life identities with one another. Therefore, the group of hackers could be susceptible to attempts to slip into the organization unnoticed.

It turns out police may have relied on that tactic: infiltration.

In a message posted to its blog, Anonymous Iberoamérica (which coordinates Anonymous activity in Spain and Latin America), Anonymous said its members were captured not through “intelligence work or informatics strategy,” but rather through “the use of spies and informants within the movement.” (Mashable has not linked to the blog, as it is ridden with pop-ups and is difficult to load.)

Self-proclaimed members of Anonymous told The Associated Press Thursday that almost all of its members arrested this week communicated on the same website. That led some to believe that police had infiltrated that site to identify Anonymous members who were attempting to coordinate cybercrime activity.

“The great majority of those implicated were people inhabiting the servers of, something that disconcerts us,” Anonymous member “Skao” told the AP.

Some Anonymous members claimed their compadres hadn’t taken the necessary steps to mask their movements online. They also said some of the arrested came from an experienced hacker group, “Sector404,” while others were ragtag activists who took part in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Anonymous’ targets.

SEE ALSO: Police Arrest 25 Anonymous Hackers In Four Countries

Twenty-five Anonymous members were taken into custody Wednesday in response to the group’s attacks on government websites in Colombia and Chile. Soon after, Anonymous turned its sights on Interpol, the international police agency that coordinated the arrests.

Interpol’s website was down for some time, but is now loading without trouble.

Do you think Anonymous is vulnerable to police infiltration? Is it a legitimate tactic? Sound off in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Marco Gomes

More About: anonymous, trending

Springfield Meets FarmVille in ‘Simpsons Tapped Out’

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 03:10 PM PST

Prepare yourselves, Simpsons fans: Electronic Arts is giving the social games treatment to America’s favorite cartoon family.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out [iTunes link] combines Simpsonian humor with elements of casual games such as FarmVille and Smurfs Village.

In the game, users create their own personal versions of Springfield, USA. While playing The Happy Little Elves on his MyPad, Homer neglects his duty as Safety Inspector and accidentally blows up Springfield. Now it’s up to you to rebuild the town.

The gameplay is old hat for fans of casual games such as Zynga’s Ville franchises and Capcom’s Smurfs Village. EA has taken a hybrid approach to the game — it’s both task-based and open-ended. While users are encouraged to complete various tasks to level up and expand their town, they can also perform certain tasks and functions at their own perusal.

In addition to cash, users can earn special irradiated donuts. These donuts can be used to buy specialty items and speed up tasks. Users can also purchase cash and donuts via in-game purchase.

Using Humor and Talent to Make a Great Social Game

As a lifelong fan of The Simpsons and a casual game addict, Tapped Out was clearly designed to separate me from my money. What I was delighted to discover is just how much fun the game is — and how much of the irreverence and wit is retained from the show.

Electronic Arts has a history of making great console games featuring The Simpsons. They don’t disappoint with Tapped Out, thanks to the strong partnership with Fox Digital Entertainment and Gracie Films. Not only do the cast members provide character voices for the game, but references from the show are everywhere.

For instance, the requisite “farming” option for Tapped Out takes place by growing crops in Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel’s garden. Those crops include Tomacco, the hybrid of tomato plants and tobacco that Homer grew in season 11.

As players level up and build new territories, favorite characters and members of the Simpson clan are unlocked. Apu, Flanders, Moe, Sideshow Bob, Krusty — they’re all there.

Of course, the game has to have a social element. The game uses EA’s Origins platform to connect to other players via your address book or Facebook.

In the case of Tapped Out, the biggest social push is by way of visiting the towns of other users. Still, we anticipate that as users progress further in the game, the social graph component will become more essential to unlocking new treats.

For this Simpsons fan, the game is off to a great start. So far EA is offering the right combination of gameplay and humor, coupled with minimal pitches to endlessly spend money. That’s the sort of combination that will likely keep users coming back for more.

More About: electronic arts, iOS, iOS games, Simpsons, social games

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Who Inspired Your Entrepreneurial Spirit? [CONTEST]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 02:32 PM PST

This contest is presented by Babson, ranked #1 in entrepreneurship education for over 18 years. Babson is a living/learning laboratory focused on advancing Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® in organizations of all types and sizes, everywhere.

Light BulbCalling all entrepreneurs: Whether you’ve launched a thousand endeavors or are just launching your first one, we know you have a story to tell. We know that a brilliant idea can go a long way, but it takes more than an idea and luck to succeed. And no one can do it alone.

Most entrepreneurs have someone who helped them get their start, whether it was by shaping them philosophically, giving them important training, offering advice that they needed, or providing that first investment to get them on their feet. Perhaps its even the person that first gave you the spark of an idea that set you on course.

It could be someone as famous as Steve Jobs. Or it could be a college roommate or your parents. Whether it’s someone you worked with closely or admired from afar, we bet everyone who calls themselves an entrepreneur has at least one.

We want to give you the chance to honor them, and by doing so we’re giving you the chance to win an iPad 2 and a $100 gift card to get you started in the App Store. Read on to learn how to enter. We’re looking forward to seeing your responses!

How To Enter the Contest

  • Share your best entrepreneurial inspiration story in the comments below, and "like" this post on Facebook, OR
  • Tweet your tale of inspiration with the hashtag #mashinspired
  • Submit your answer by Monday, Mar. 5 at 5:00 P.M. ET.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, Mar. 6.

Read our full contest rules here.

Contest presented by Babson

This contest is presented by Babson, ranked #1 in entrepreneurship education for over 18 years. Babson is a living/learning laboratory focused on advancing Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® in organizations of all types and sizes, everywhere.

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Epic Auto Correct Fail: Schools Lock Down Over Texting Mix-Up [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 01:54 PM PST

Is this the biggest auto correct fail ever?

Middle schools and high schools in Gainesville, Ga. were locked down Wednesday when a student’s text message — “gunman be at west hall today” — was accidentally sent to a community member’s phone.

The message was supposed to say “gunna”, but the phone’s auto correct feature changed the slang term to something a bit more inflammatory: gunman.

The text message being sent to a wrong number only added to the confusion, according to the Gainesville Times. The recipient reported the text to police, who told the schools to lock down while they tracked down the sender.

Once the police did reach the anonymous recipient, they discovered it was an auto correct mistake.

“It was a combination of odd circumstances,” Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office told The Times. “We want to emphasize that the recipient did the right thing in reporting the message.”

Gainesville officials were likely especially sensitive to the potential threat, since this text message mix-up came just days after a school shooting in Ohio. The suspect in that incident posted a message to Facebook in late December that could have been perceived as a threat. In a long, macabre message, the alleged gunman wrote “Die, all of you."

Check out the video above to learn more about the Florida school lockdown.

What’s the biggest auto correct fail you’ve witnessed? Have you ever sent an embarrassing text to a wrong number? Share your stories in the comments.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story placed the school-closing incident in Gainesville, Florida. The correct location was Gainesville, Georgia. We’ve changed the text to correct the article, and regret the error.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Tabor Roeder

More About: auto correct, mashable video, texting, trending

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Highly Anticipated ‘BioShock Infinite’ to Launch This Fall

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 01:40 PM PST

BioShock Infinite Logo with Elizabeth 600

The third installment of the popular video game series BioShock will launch this fall, publisher 2K Games announced on Thursday.

BioShock Infinite — which will be released on Oct. 16 in the U.S. and internationally on Oct. 19. — is a follow up to 2K’s previous BioShock games, which have raked in more than nine million copies combined.

The latest game is neither a prequel nor a sequel. It’s set in a fictional floating city in the 1920s called Columbia and focuses on a ruling class called The Founders, who aim to protect the city against an enemy clan called Vox Populi.

The player controls Booker Dewitt, a former agent tasked with rescuing a woman from the city. When Dewitt meets a kidnapped woman named Elizabeth, he finds out she has ability to create time rifts in the city.

Irrational Games, based in Boston, has been working on the title for a while following the critical and commercial success of BioShock and BioShock 2.

“After BioShock, we had a vision for a follow up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition," said Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine. "BioShock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years, and we can't wait for fans to get their hands on it."

The PlayStation 3 version of BioShock Infinite will come bundled with the original BioShock game, which launched in 2007.

What do you think is the most anticipated video game of 2012? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: 2k games, bioshock infinite, Gaming

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Is Apple Losing Its Grip on App Store Security?

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 01:25 PM PST

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

The iOS App Store was created so that users could download and operate apps in a secure space. Theoretically, an application would not be able to execute malware on a device or purvey copyright infringing content. And all applications would pass under Apple‘s watchful eye.

However, developers who wish to bend the rules or try to defraud users of their money and sensitive information are finding new avenues by which to accomplish their goals.

The problem is that the guarantor of App Store security, Apple itself, has been lax as of late, allowing apps of dubious copyright status to slip through the cracks — especially when it comes to games. For example, a fake Pokemon Yellow app appeared on Feb. 17. This app was obviously not published by Nintendo, yet it managed to get through the approval process and, despite crash reports and a large number of one-star reviews, shot all the way up to number-one before disappearing the evening of Feb. 20.

Whether Apple pulled the app is unknown. The app developer may have simply cashed in its chips, removing the app early so it would be paid. Reportedly, if Apple pulls down an app, its developer won’t be compensated.

Apple didn’t appear to immediately learn its lesson when approving apps of dubious copyright. On Feb. 21, a similarly scammy Micro Machines app appeared.

Although it’s to be expected that an occasional app will slip through the cracks, the approval process is imperfect. When blatant license violations aren’t red-flagged, one wonders whether the approval process is trustworthy.

Furthermore, unreliable apps put users’ data at risk. While an app can’t access location services or photos (which iOS embeds with EXIF data, including geolocation) without express permission from the user, a device’s contacts are not protected. Recently, Path controversially accessed its users’ contacts without explicit permission. Contact access prompting will be addressed in a future version of iOS, but the move will exclude older iOS version and users who do not or cannot upgrade. And in the meantime, there’s no way of knowing which apps can access contacts or not. Unlike the Android Market, an iOS app’s permissions are not explicitly stated prior to downloading and installing an app.

Some apps may leave users vulnerable to security holes. On Feb. 18, a known iOS jailbreak developer tweeted about an app that could contain a vulnerability used to jailbreak iOS 5.1. He suggested people download the app before Apple pulled it from the App Store. As of Feb. 24, it was still on the App Store, and had not been updated to patch that vulnerability.

If an unscrupulous developer got its hands on this sort of vulnerability, it could potentially execute malware for users who install these kinds of apps. However, the iOS dev team has discovered exploits solely for the sake of jailbreaking and unlocking. Even when “userland” exploits like the PDF vulnerability are discovered, a patch was released on Cydia to prevent the vulnerability, but only after jailbreaking. Ironically, jailbreaking the device was a way to make it safer, as potentially any PDF file downloaded through the browser on an unpatched iOS version could be hazardous.

Temple Run appears to be the current target for copiers; several apps that mimic its icon and name have been released in the App Store, hoping to springboard off of the game’s popularity. These include original, yet crudely developed games like Temple Guns, along with non-functioning apps like Temple Jump. Both jumped to the top of the charts before disappearing. In the curated App Store, where Apple approves every app for sale, these types of apps should raise red flags, but they have managed to get through by piggybacking on the Temple Run name and logo.

Even smaller developers have been caught in the crossfire. In 2011, The Blocks Cometh was a victim of cloning, when a developer copied its Flash game almost exactly. The developer also stole art assets from another game, League of Evil, and released the game in the App Store. It took not just emails from Halfbot to Apple to resolve the issue, but also several angry articles in the gaming media to eventually expose the app as a fraud.

Over time, the cumulative effect of these oversights could be disastrous. If user confidence falls, then the impulse buy could disappear, surmised Phill Ryu, one of the developers of Clear. Right now, users generally trust the App Store to not steal their information, to have legitimate products and information, but that all changes once they get ripped off by an app.

Even an app’s popularity ranking can’t necessarily be trusted. It is becoming increasingly possible for outside sources to illegitimately bump apps up the charts. One service claims that it has access to a number of iTunes accounts, which is can use to jump up the charts, without the app actually gaining a notable number of new users.

These holes in security risk dishearten the independent developers who make up the heart of the App Store. One developer, Frank Condello of one-man studio Chaotic Box, expressed his feelings through artwork on Twitter. He told me that he’s “disappointed that Apple is still approving scams, despite its own rules.” He points out that the developer of the aforementioned Temple Jump “still has 20+ active apps/scams,” such as Angry Ninja Birds and Zombie Air Highway, which riff on Angry Birds and Zombie Highway, respectively.

More people have figured out the system’s vulnerabilities, and have subsequently learned how to exploit them for their own gain. Given the size of the App Store and the number of apps it contains, it may be difficult for Apple to catch up and monitor store activity. Some apps will fall through the cracks — it’s to be expected. But in the meantime, the number of cracks continues to increase.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman, Nikada, Frank Condello of Chaotic Box

More About: app store, apple, features, iOS, Mobile, Opinion, security

Twitter Reacts to Snooki Pregnancy Rumor [PICS]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 01:14 PM PST

Image via @SteveCarell

Note: Actor Steve Carrell just joined Twitter earlier this week. His Snooki comment has since been removed.

Click here to view this gallery.

If we’ve learned anything from the record number of tweets sent surrounding Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement last September, it’s that social media users love baby news.

E! News reported earlier this week that Jersey Shore cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 24, is expecting a child with her boyfriend Jionni, despite denying it to various media outlets last month.

You may argue that no one cares about the personal life of Snooki; search trends suggest otherwise. Not only did the pregnancy rumors start trending on Twitter — with hashtags such as #mamasnooks — it also dominated Google search trends. “Snooki pregnant” made the top 10 most-searched list.

Although Snooki is usually active on Twitter, she hasn’t tweeted much since the E! report — and has yet to address it. However, actors Steve Carrell and Zach Braff shared their reactions via the site.

“I hope Snooki doesn’t have problems delivering her baby. She’d hate to hear the doctor say, “we have a little Situation here,” @SteveCarell tweeted.

Carrell’s tweet has since been removed without explanation.

Some users on Twitter said that Snooki’s alleged due date is December 21, 2012 — coincidentally, the last day of the Mayan calendar. But since some reports indicate that she is already a few months pregnant, this seems unlikely.

Although Twitter hasn’t released numbers yet regarding the number of tweets surrounding the rumors, the site has said that Beyonce’s baby news announcement at the 2011 MTV Music Video Awards received more mentions for each second than the Women's World Cup, Japan's New Year and Osama bin Laden's death.

Thumbnail via Twitter, @Snooki

More About: Facebook, jersey shore, Social Media, trending, TV, Twitter

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Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Complete Guide

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 01:03 PM PST

Now that Facebook Timeline has finally rolled out for brands, companies have endless opportunities to refresh their social media strategy. Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? Let’s break it down.

As of Wednesday, brands can opt in on the new features. If you’re not familiar them, be sure to review them here before you dive into this project.

Some of the prominent changes include a new layout with cover photo, highlighting features and the ability to edit and update without navigating to a separate page. Timeline will automatically go live for all brand pages Mar. 30.

SEE ALSO: Timeline For Brands: How to Prepare for Your Company’s New Facebook Page

As predicted, these new features will be a huge opportunity for brands that want to tell a more engaging and authentic story. Even the President has jumped on board with Timeline.

Some feel that this could be a potential downfall for companies that do not excel at providing engaging content or brands with various operations compared to those who concisely define themselves under one umbrella.

Regardless, it gives all companies the opportunity to get creative with cover photos, and their overall presence on social media, as we’ve already begun to see with early adopters.

1. Red Bull

Not only has Red Bull taken advantage of Timeline, it has also created a scavenger hunt with prizes to get fans interacting with the company's history.

Click here to view this gallery.

With spring right around the corner, consider Timeline your chance to do a little housekeeping. The features require you to tidy up a bit, as well as do some research on your company’s history — but the results could be quite beneficial.

At Mashable, our community team updated our own brand page to Timeline on Wednesday, and took a walk down memory lane. It’s an easy way to look back on our milestones, and rediscover what we’ve learned from past Facebook posts throughout the years.

Will you be an early adopter of Facebook Timeline for brand pages, or wait for the inevitable switch on Mar. 30? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Brand pages, Facebook, facebook timeline, features, Marketing, trending

Republican Senators: Keep Government Out of Cybersecurity

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 12:53 PM PST

Should the U.S. government tell private companies how to defend themselves from cyberattacks? Not according to legislation being introduced on Thursday by six Republican senators.

The new bill, dubbed the SECURE IT Act, would improve the ability of government computer networks to withstand digital assaults. It would also beef up criminal punishments for cybercrime and improve cybersecurity strategy sharing between the government and business worlds.

Its sponsors include Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Dan Coats (Ind.).

The bill would not, however, require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enforce cybersecurity standards for private businesses that run systems considered essential to national security. That marks a key departure from a draft bill introduced in February by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Sens. Lieberman and Collins argue that the DHS should be able to ensure that companies that run crucial services, such as the national power grid, are protected from cyberattacks.

"[The Lieberman-Collins bill] would begin to arm us for battle in a war against the cyber mayhem that is being waged against us by our nation's enemies, organized criminal gangs, and terrorists who would use the Internet against us as surely as they turned airliners into guided missiles," said Sen. Lieberman of his cybersecurity bill in a release last month.

However, those very companies have argued that they know best how to keep their systems safe and secure without the government being involved.

Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have said that new cybercrime regulations would add an unnecessary cost and burden on private businesses. Sen. McCain has said the Liberman-Collins would turn the DHS into a “super-regulator.”

“If the [Lieberman-Collins bill] were enacted into law, unelected bureaucrats at the DHS could promulgate prescriptive regulations on American businesses — which own roughly 90 percent of critical cyber infrastructure,” McCain said of the Lieberman-Collins bill before a Senate homeland security committee.

“The fundamental difference in our alternative approach is that we aim to enter into a cooperative relationship with the entire private sector through information sharing, rather than an adversarial one with prescriptive regulations,” added McCain.

SEE ALSO: FCC: Cybersecurity Is Crucial for America's Future

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he intends to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill directly to the Senate floor, despite requests from some lawmakers to slow down and allow time for questioning. Supporters of Lieberman-Collins say that the bill has been in the works for years and its high time to get it passed. But the bill’s opponents want it opened up for debate on the Senate floor.

Do you think the government should set cybercrime standards for private businesses? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: congress, cybersecurity, Politics

Social Networks and Mobile Games Get a Place to Hook Up

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 12:40 PM PST

Social game distributor Viximo announced a platform called Social Zone that will allow mobile game developers to simply integrate social media features into their games.

Social Zone works with APIs of the players’ social networks, allowing them to instantly plug in to their social address book when playing and find their friends. Viximo’s goal in this is to avoid proprietary social networks by allowing users to already see where their friends are playing, and invite them to join their games.

Social Zone is designed to work with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Orkut and their personal contacts.

“We want to help design games that are already aware of the users social graph,” Viximo CEO Dale Strang said.

Users have the option to connect to whichever friends in their social networks they wish. Those users will then be presented with their friends they’ve picked whenever the game invokes social functionality. Like if someone wants to “send a gift” or “add a neighbor”, meaning users control over who they share with.

Strang said that Social Zone should appeal to developers of freemium apps, which are free to download but encourage players to spend micropayments for new content. According to statistics from Viximo, freemium apps made up 52% of the top 200 highest grossing iOS apps as of June 2011, up from 10% the year before.

While Zynga has taken the lion’s share of this domain on Facebook with success of FarmVille and its ilk, its success is depended because FarmVille integrates deeply into a player’s lifestyle, and then encourages the player to keep playing because their Facebook friends are. Viximo hopes Social Zone will allow developers to achieve the same success on mobile platforms.

Social Zone was made with developers in mind, said Strang, offering them features like a dashboard that allows them to monitor the social reach a game has. Developers will also be able to send push notifications across various networks, target users that are currently online with offers, and target promotions based on how frequently a user plays and what networks the user is on.

Most importantly, Strang stresses his network is flexible, and also won’t intrude on a game’s branding.

“We wanted to avoid monolithic structures,” Strang said. “Developers can use pieces of Social Zone or the entire set. They can use it in the way that they wish to.”

What do you think of the idea behind Social Zone? Do you think it will be useful for developers? Tell us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Yaro_75

More About: freemium, mobile gaming, Viximo

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20 Infamous Crimes Committed and Solved on Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 12:24 PM PST

Criminals might be taking to the web, but police are meeting them there.

Facebook has proved to be a powerful tool for law enforcement to locate criminal activity. All Facebook communication leaves a trail, which can come in handy when police need to solve a crime.

UK police have reported a 540% increase in Facebook crimes over the past three years, according to the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide. Crimes have taken a different form on Facebook, requiring the creation of new laws or reinterpretation of existing laws.

With more than 100,000 UK crimes linked to Facebook over the past five years, it’s no wonder police are looking for suspects or evidence on the site. Some law enforcement, such as Sheriff Al Lamberti, have found great success using Facebook to find criminals. Lamberti arrested the criminals who stole air conditioners in Florida after he posted photos of suspects on Facebook, which led to a tip.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Twitter Is Changing Media Law

The infographic below, created by the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide, shows 20 crimes that Facebook assisted or helped solve. The criminals either posted photo evidence or statuses about the criminal acts, or used Facebook to communicate about the criminal activity. The infographic shows several incidents in which Facebook cyberbullying, cyberstalking and relationship disputes have led to death.

Infographic courtesy of Criminal Justice Degrees Guide.
Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, carlballou

More About: cyber crime, cyberbullying, Facebook, infographic

Zynga Launches Platform for Non-Facebook Gaming

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 12:13 PM PST

Zynga is trying to diversify beyond its signature Facebook games. will no longer be just its corporate website — it will also be a platform that features the company’s most popular games as well as titles by other publishers.

The site, which is set to go live in a few days, will feature Words with Friends, CastleVille, Zynga Poker, Hidden Chronicles and CityVille, the company announced on its blog Thursday. In addition, Zynga has partnered with MobScience, Row Sham Bow and Sava to develop games for the platform.

The site will also include Social Stream, a feature which lets you play in real time with your friends and find new ones.

Though it sounds like Zynga is trying to create its own social network, CEO Mark Pincus wrote in the blog entry that “we built to complement [Facebook's] pervasive social graph.”

Using, other publishers will be to “extend the reach of their games and connect to even more players,” Pincus wrote on the blog. “Later this year we’ll make our platform available for all social game developers through a Zynga API,” he added.

Though Zynga has an enviable relationship with Facebook and generates 12% of that company’s revenues, Pincus’ company is looking to diversify its sources of income. Currently, 93% of Zynga’s revenues come from Facebook.

Given the strong symbiotic relationship between the two, perhaps its no surprise that investors lauded the news; Thursday afternoon, Zynga’s stock was up 6% following the announcement.

More About: Facebook, Gaming, Zynga

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Now Cops Can Search Cellphones Found at Crime Scenes

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 12:02 PM PST

Police in the U.S. can legally search mobile phones discovered at the scene of a crime, a federal appeals court has ruled.

After police in Indiana discovered a batch of cellphones at the site of a drug bust, they did some digital sleuthing and searched each device for its telephone number. Those numbers allowed investigators to get the call histories of each cellphone owner. Those logs connected them with the illegal drug operation, according to Reuters.

One of the men found guilty in the trial appealed his conviction. In his appeal, his lawyers argued that the police had no right to search his phone without a warrant.

That argument didn’t fly with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The court found that any infringement of the defendant’s privacy by the police was so minor that it didn’t violate his constitutional protection against unreasonable search.

Judge Richard Posner’s decision examined the proper role of the police in handling personal technology found at crime scenes.

“Lurking behind this issue is the question whether and when a laptop or desktop computer, tablet, or other type of computer (whether called a ‘computer’ or not) can be searched without a warrant,” wrote Judge Posner.

Posner went on to compare a cell phone to a personal journal or diary. Police can open a journal to find out the owner’s address, but can’t read anything else without a warrant. According to the judge, the same should be true of cell phones: finding an owner’s number is fine, but police can’t read text messages or look at photos stored on the phone without a judge’s permission.

But prosecutors in the case argued that police tend to be in a race against the clock to obtain data from cellphones — since they can often be wiped clean of data by their owners, from a remote location.

The decision left plenty of legal questions for other judges to interpret. For one thing, Posner chose not to answer the question of just how far police can go in diving into a suspect’s recovered cellphone.

Do you think police should be able to look at a suspect’s text messages or other data without a warrant? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

More About: cellphones, Mobile, privacy

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Twitter Users Help Plan a Wedding After Hired Planners Folded [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 11:39 AM PST

Twitter came to the rescue for an engaged UK couple whose hired wedding event company folded just six weeks before their big day.

Lauren Lane and Daniel Welch lost their nearly $7,000 deposit and all of the details that had been planned. Lane tweeted: “Help needed with aspects of our wedding after venue goes bust with 6 weeks 2 go & with our £4.5k!”

Floods of people who saw the tweet offered to help. Twitter users offered a three-tier cake, jewelery and clothes. A make-up artist, photographer, wedding planner and a magician offered their services free or at a discounted price. Celebrities Davina McCall and Dannii Minogue, with more than 1 million followers, retweeted Lane’s tweet to draw more attention to the couple’s website campaign.

The couple received about £10,000 free services and gifts. They pitched in £5,000 of their own money. In the end, the wedding came together. Lane and Welch wed on Feb. 25.

Lane told the Guardian: “It was a lovely wedding and I cannot believe how many people and businesses came forward to help us – it was amazing. I had gone on Twitter on the off-chance that someone might be able to help us but it just went mad.”

Photo courtesy of Lauren Lane and Daniel Welch.

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