Saturday, 17 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “New Facebook App Suite Turns Brand Pages Into Crowdsourcing Hubs”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “New Facebook App Suite Turns Brand Pages Into Crowdsourcing Hubs”

New Facebook App Suite Turns Brand Pages Into Crowdsourcing Hubs

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 08:11 PM PDT

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: Napkin Labs

Quick Pitch: Napkin Labs makes interactive marketing tools for Facebook.

Genius Idea: A suite of customized apps that make brand pages interactive.

Brands are set on getting customers to Like their Facebook pages. But then what?

Napkin Labs launched a new suite of Facebook apps this week that it hopes will help answer this question.

The company offers four different apps. “Brainstorm” is a basic crowdsourcing platform that lets brands ask their community a question. “Photoboard” collects and displays community-sourced images. “Pipeline” turns Facebook pages into open forums. And “Superfans” shows who participates the most in campaigns, then rewards them. Most of the tools come with analytics and moderation features.

“I think a lot of brands are starting to realized their Facebook pages can go beyond ‘great, you like us now,’ and actually shape the future of the brand,” Napkin Labs CEO Riley Gibson tells Mashable.

Napkin Labs adapted some functionality of the new Facebook apps from its previous product, which created a separate online “lab space” for brands to collaborate with their customers on products, design and anything else. The separate space had game features — such as a points system and rewards for participation — but it was still asking customers to visit someplace new on the web. Convincing such migration is no easy feat, so it’s not surprising Napkin Labs eventually decided to instead build on existing brand pages.

As Gibson puts it, “We realized the ecosystem within Facebook was perfect.”

Napkin Labs recently demonstrated how its Facebook apps will work with a custom app it made for Domino’s Facebook page called “Think Oven.” Users could submit their designs to the page in the hopes of winning one of $200 rewards.

The startup says pages experience a 29% increase in Likes after running a Facebook contest. But brands will have to decide for themselves how much that’s worth. This is not your average Facebook app installation. Napkin Labs works with clients to customize the pages, and thus its campaigns start at $1,000.

Would you pay that much to customize your brand page, or are there better ways to engage the community that don’t involve expensive customized tools? Let us know in the comments.

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: Facebook, napkin labs

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Encyclopedia Britannica vs. Wikipedia [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 08:02 PM PDT

The Encyclopedia Britannica officially announced it would scrap its print edition on Tuesday in the face of plummeting sales. For many, this was a foregone conclusion. In a world of infinite and instant knowledge, the idea of owning a $1,395 32-volume hardcover library that’s outdated the moment you crease the spine is laughable.

Wikipedia certainly had a hand in Britannica’s print death knell. The crowd-powered reference site is arguably the greatest knowledge experiment civilization has ever seen. And while its critics are the first to point out its unreliability, advocates would counter that a self-correcting collective is more reliable and scalable than a room full of scholars (who, on occasion, also make mistakes).

Our friends at Statista have taken a look at the economics of Wikipedia and Britannica. The timeline and stats below give a good overview of how these two sources diverge, and the inevitable dominance of the web.

Are you sad to see the print version of Britannica go? Do you feel it’s still worthwhile to pay for its digital offerings?

Infographic courtesy of Statista.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AnthiaCumming

More About: encyclopedia, features, infographics, Tech, wikipedia

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New iPad: Worth the Wait? [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 07:52 PM PDT

The third generation iPad is officially here, and fans all over the world braved the early morning today to wait in line and get their hands on the new tablet.

Line lengths varies around the world. More than 400 shoppers waited outside an Apple store in China, while more than 200 would-be owners stood in line outside an Apple store in Boston. Still others claimed to only have waited just 10 minutes, or not at all, for the clock to strike 8 am local time and the doors to open.

Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak waited in line to grab the new iPad. He didn’t have to, of course — the company habitually offers him any new device he wants. But as he explained to What’s Trending, he’s fond of the “real-world” experience that comes with owning a new device.

“More than anything else, it’s just sort of like it’s become a ritual, almost. Because I’ve done it so many times, I’m doing it again…I’d rather be in there and be genuine like the real people,” he said.

Clearly, both sleep and money were sacrificed in droves. But here’s the question: Is the third-generation iPad really worth the lines and the buzz?

Mashable‘s Christina Warren joined the crowds to survey the HD tablet herself. A “drool-worthy” display and an amazingly fast 4G LTE network are just some of the first impressions she noted for the new device.

The iPad’s sharp camera was another prominent feature. Comparing it side-by-side with the iPad 2, its superiority was undeniable.

So, what do you think of the new iPad? Was it worth the wait and the hype? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: The View From the iPad Line [PICS]

The View From the iPad Line

Mashable reader Rafael Savino shows off the view from 2nd in line in Houston.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, galleries, ipad, Video

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10 Features Missing From Pinterest

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 07:38 PM PDT

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

There’s one thing you should know before we open up this can of worms: I have 795 pins on Pinterest. Probably by the end of writing this article, I’ll have 895. As you can see, my wish list of Pinterest features hasn’t caused me to slam down my laptop screen in disgust.

That being said, I would change a few things. And based on Pinterest’s new profile, the company already has.

Most of these 10 suggestions have to do with’s design and the social network’s user experience. For instance, I’d love to be able to move pins between boards with the greatest of ease. I’d also like to create a private board or two — not because I want to build a digital shrine to Ryan Reynolds, but because I’d like to plan a future wedding without my boyfriend having a commitment freak-out.

Here are 10 features I’d like to see on Pinterest in the future. I’m sure all you pinners have even more dreams for Pinterest, so sound off in the comments below.

1. View the Individual Boards I Follow

At this point, you can only view users you follow, not the individual boards you follow. I'd like to be able to know both. For instance, I'll browse a user's page to determine whether I want to follow that person. However, many times, I have no interest in particular boards, and therefore, don't "follow all" boards. But there's no way to go back and determine just which individual boards I've followed in the past. What if I want to view them for future inspiration?

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: design, Opinion, pinterest, predictions, Social Media, user experience

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Are You Addicted to Twitter? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 07:21 PM PDT

Twitter is awesome. But is a little too awesome?

Celebrities have tried to kick the habit, yet failed. College students have copped to social media addiction. Research has shown that people may have a harder time resisting Twitter than alcohol, sleep and sex.

Half of Twitter users log in to the network every day, and they tweet a ton. During Super Bowl XVLI in February, two moments landed in the tweets-per-second record book. Location and language are becoming less important; the network is now available in 28 languages and recently added Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu to the list. A Kenyan chief even tweets in Swahili to help promote peace and order in his district.

That ubiquity and utility has caused dependence in many, though. The infographic below provides a nice summary. culled research and reporting from a number of sources — including Mashable — to show just how attached we’ve all become to Twitter. Check it out and see if the findings hit a little too close to home.

Are you addicted to Twitter? Are you addicted to other social networks? Let us know in the comments.

Courtesy of: Online Schools

More About: infographics, Twitter

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Was This Apple’s Best Week Ever?

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 06:59 PM PDT

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

Who wouldn’t want to be the CEO of Apple right now? If there was ever a moment where it seemed like the Cupertino company could do no wrong, this is it. Its stock is in the stratosphere, its products continue to be treated as cultural touchstones, and one of its best-known critics just got thoroughly discredited.

On Thursday the company’s stock hit $600 for the first time. It dipped by about $15 on Friday, but still — it has seen a 50% rise since Tim Cook took over. This is nothing short of miraculous. It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when analysts talked fearfully about a “Jobs premium” that would decimate Apple shares if the founder were to pass on.

That time? Less than a year ago. Yep, score another point for conventional wisdom.

Friday morning saw the launch of the new iPad — yet another extremely well-coordinated sales and media event, the likes of which no other company can come close to managing. You can call it naked consumerism, but that entirely misses the point. Like it or not, these moments are global celebrations, and you don’t have to stand in line to catch the buzz.

This kind of unbridled optimism is rare in our world; we take it where we can get it. That’s why the attempts at mockery by Apple’s rivals seem mean-spirited and tone-deaf. (Did anyone really “get Samsunged” while waiting in line? We doubt it.)

Let’s step back and appreciate what happened here. Apple was able to bring out a tablet that is physically unchanged from its predecessor in almost every respect. It has a confusing name, and one major new feature (the retina display) which, awesome as it is, was hardly a surprise. It was anticipated in the iPad 2 as long ago as 2010.

Granted, half of the tablets had a more unexpected feature — 4G service that doesn’t hog the battery life. But even those of us who didn’t want a 4G iPad lined up in our droves. It’s too soon to talk sales figures, but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest early predictions of a million iPads sold on launch day won’t be far from the mark.

SEE ALSO: The New iPad Is a Pure Joy [REVIEW]

When I arrived at my local Apple Store Friday morning, I found myself back in line exactly as far back as I was for the iPhone 4S launch. The only difference? This time round, it was pouring with rain. Nobody cared. If voters were as committed as Apple consumers, our democracy wouldn’t be in such a shambles.

There’s one thing that could have scuppered Apple in the last six months: the marked increase in criticism over its use of Foxconn factories. Fairly or unfairly (and given the sheer number of consumer electronics companies who use Foxconn to make their products, I’m going to plump for “unfairly”), Apple’s prominence has made it the poster child for dubious labor practices in the heart of industrial China.

A giant chunk of that scrutiny was spawned by the airing of an episode of the NPR show This American Life. Performer Mike Daisey led us on a journey into Foxconn, telling us of guards with guns and children exposed to toxic chemicals. It was harrowing stuff, and led to several online petitions targeting Apple.

So there had to be sighs of relief throughout One Infinite Loop on Friday, when This American Life revealed that Daisey had fabricated those guards and those kids. Not only that, but ABC anchor Bill Weir told Mashable that he’d had his suspicions about Daisey’s claims all along.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that this could be the zenith of Apple’s fortunes. Under Cook, the company is already exhibiting signs of being overcautious. Its last three product launches (Apple TV, iPhone 4S, new iPad) have changed nothing about their outward appearance. We don’t know if the restless prototyping of the Jobs era is gone for good.

Apple wouldn’t be the first company in history to rest on its laurels, to do the bare minimum, or to focus too much on the performance of its stock. If so, Apple fans may look back with nostalgia at this moment, the Ides of March 2012.

But we hope not. We hope for many, many better things from this design-obsessed company. We’re rooting for insane greatness to win out over sane caution.

More About: apple, Foxconn, ipad, mike daisey, tim cook, trending

Cellphone Radiation Causes ADHD in Lab Mice [STUDY]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 06:37 PM PDT

Pregnant women beware: you might want to add cellphones to the list of things to stay away from during pregnancy.

Researchers at Yale studied the effects of cellphone radiation on the offspring of pregnant mice and determined exposure to could result in developmental disabilities including ADHD, their study says in the March 15 issue of Scientific Reports.

A silenced cellphone in active call mode was placed on top of a cage of pregnant mice. An inactive cellphone was placed on top of another cage of pregnant mice to act as a control. The mice in both cages had babies, which were allowed to mature. Then researchers conducted a variety of tests to measure brain activity on the adult mice who had been exposed to radiation as fetuses. The tests showed that the mice had lower memory capacity and were more hyperactive than the control group. The areas of the brain that control these functions were impacted by the radiation, say the researchers. They concluded that cellphone radiation negatively impacted brain development of offspring, and could potentially cause developmental disabilities including ADHD.

The study is the first of its kind to link cellphone radiation to developmental disorders in offspring, according to author Dr. Hugh S. Taylor, chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Yale Medical School.

“We have shown that behavioral problems in mice that resemble ADHD are caused by cell phone exposure in the womb,” Taylor told Science Daily. “The rise in behavioral disorders in human children may be in part due to fetal cellular telephone irradiation exposure.”

Mice gestate for a much shorter time than humans (only 19 days) and are born with much less developed brains than humans, said the first co-author in the study, Tamir Aldad. More research is needed to show the possible risks of cellphone radiation to human fetuses.

Cellphones have been linked to causing everything from the mass death of bee colonies to a willingness to sacrifice one’s sex life and relationships. Dozens of studies and researchers have debated the issue of whether or not radiation from cellphones causes cancer. It’s an issue still up for debate.

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

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto,

More About: ADHD, cancer, cellphones, pregnancy, pregnant, Radiation, study

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Can McDonalds’ Shamrocking Hashtag Escape Bashtag Status? [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 06:19 PM PDT

Have you heard of Shamrocking? It’s like Tebowing except without the popularity. Shamrocking involves taking a photo of yourself doing an Irish jig while holding one of McDonald’s new neon green Shamrock Shakes, and then tweeting the photo with the hashtag #Shamrocking.

Unlike your average Internet meme that grows on its own, McDonalds actually partnered with Buzzfeed to create the meme and promote it, all in the name of celebrating a green milkshake.

"The Irish jig has been an expression of joy since the 16th century, and thanks to the hot new viral trend of #Shamrocking, it’s making a modern day comeback," says a sponsored post on Buzzfeed.

So, why would McDonalds try ad create an internet meme?

"We found consumers were overcome with joy this time of year when the Shamrock Shake is back in market. We found that fans needed an outlet to express their excitement and joy, and #Shamrocking was born," McDonald’s social media supervisor Dana Martin Sandeman told Mashable. Much like McDonald’s McRib, the 42-year-old Shamrock Shake has a following of green-shake enthusiasts.

#Shamrocking isn’t McDonald’s first Twitter hashtag. Most notably, last year the company started the hashtag #McDStories for people to share happy memories they had of the restaurant, however, the hashtag quickly turned into a bashtag with people instead recounting horror stories about the chain.

Some #Shamrocking tweets have already started to turn against the golden arches. "You know what’s not #shamrocking? @McDonalds scalding baby chicks alive for nuggets! Take action & RT: #BoycottMcDs," tweeted animal rights group PETA on Friday afternoon.

The Shamrock Shake is available for the month of March, while supplies last.

Let us know what you think about #Shamrocking in the comments.

Thumbnail Photo courtesy of Twitter user @BlohnCreative

More About: Hastag, Meme, Twitter

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ABC’s Foxconn Reporter Couldn’t Verify Daisey’s Claims

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 06:04 PM PDT

Bill Weir at Foxconn NIGHTLINE (image courtesy of ABC News Nightline)

On the day when the world is busy staring at the hyper-realistic retina screen on the new Apple iPad, some people are now taking a fresh look at the place where that iPad is made: Foxconn in China.

The manufacturing facilities have been the subject of intense scrutiny for months. Today, one of its strongest critics, performance artist Mike Daisey’s and his claims against Apple and the manufacturing plant were called into question. Now, one of the few reporters to have an inside look Foxconn reveals that he couldn’t verify some of the claims Daisey was making in his monologue, which later became part of a now-retracted report on NPR’s This American Life.

ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir traveled to China earlier this year and filed an extensive report, which ran on Nightline, about the manufacturing facilities and conditions there. The report made it clear that, despite past troubles (which included suicides and an explosion), things were not necessarily as bad as some people thought.

Daisey took issue with the report, particularly the fact that ABC is a Disney company and Apple is a major shareholder in Disney. Weir acknowledged this and told Mashable that there were “no preconditions” for his story. He insisted to Apple that it not be a "Potemkin village, no dog and pony show."

Now that NPR has stated that Daisey lied to them about his own reporting, we asked Weir for his comments:

“On more than one occasion during our days in and around Foxconn, my producer and I would turn to each other and say ‘Are we missing something, or is Mike Daisey full of crap?’ Because we tried really hard to find the kind of horror stories he described. We copied his method, standing outside the factory walls with an interpreter and stopping dozens of workers to ask, ‘What would you change?’ We visited markets in Shenzhen and a village outside the Foxconn plant in Chengdu and even sent our Chinese interpreter around without the camera and the tall American to see if anyone would open up.

“To a person, almost everyone was willing to complain about the pay or the cafeteria food or small showers in the dorms, but no one came close to repeating Daisey’s claims. But that doesn’t mean that working for Foxconn is all bluebirds and lemonade. A top executive admitted to me that it took a suicide cluster, two horrible explosions and a mountain of bad press to make them reconsider their working conditions. And they are just getting started on the kind of transparent reform labor rights activists have wanted for years.”

What are your thoughts on Mike Daisey and his performance-art monologues, which combine reporting and dramatic license? Should he be held to the same standards as a news reporter like Bill Weir? Sound off in the comments.

More About: apple, Foxconn, ipad

Plot Revealed: Stephen Hawking’s Guest Appearance On ‘The Big Bang Theory’

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 05:41 PM PDT

Sheldon Cooper, meet your idol. Real-life renowned cosmologist and physicist Stephen Hawking will guest star on the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory on April 5 at 8 p.m. The network revealed the plot on Friday, saying character Howard Wolowitz will get a chance to work with Hawking, and Sheldon “is willing to do anything to meet his hero.”

"When people would ask us who a 'dream guest star' for the show would be, we would always joke and say Stephen Hawking — knowing that it was a long shot of astronomical proportions," executive producer Bill Prady said in a statement about the show. "In fact, we're not exactly sure how we got him. It's the kind of mystery that could only be understood by, say, a Stephen Hawking.”

For the uninitiated, the show is about four nerdy friends — Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Rajesh — who all have impressive jobs and degrees in science. They play video games, collect comic memorabilia, discuss complex scientific topics and socialize with Sheldon and Leonard’s neighbor, Penny. This won’t be the first real-life techie guest: In 2010 Apple’s Steve Wozniak had a cameo on the show. He interacted with a virtual Sheldon: watch here.

Are you excited about Hawking’s appearance? Tell us in the comments.

Photos courtesy of Fotopedia and CBS, respectively.

More About: cbs, Stephen Hawking, the big bang theory, TV

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9 Stunning Examples of the New iPad’s Retina Display

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 05:22 PM PDT

1. Art Authority App

Here's Caspar David Friedrich's Wreck in the Sea of Ice (1798) from the app Art Authority, which was just upgraded to retina resolutions. Artwork really shows off the new iPad's new retina display -- besides the better detail, color saturation appears improved.

Click here to view this gallery.

There’s a new iPad in town, and by far the most obvious upgrade is the tablet’s screen. Apple upped the resolution to a retina display with a massive 2,048 x 1,536 pixels — more than even a top-of-the-line HDTV. But whether or not that may be overkill, how noticeable is it?

Very, it turns out. Even with the naked eye, a user can plainly see that type is sharper, photos are crisper and artwork really pops. Comparing the new iPad with a first-generation model was stark — especially so when we looked at both displays under a Loupe.

The results are beyond eye-catching. Even apps that aren’t yet optimized for retina resolutions benefit from the extra pixels. With its retina display, the new iPad quite literally makes its competitors (not to mention its predecessors) look bad.

SEE ALSO: Here's How Apple Put a Retina Display in the iPad

Apple’s definitely set the bar again with the new iPad’s ultra-high-resolution screen, so the question becomes: How soon will the competition catch up? Looking back at the iPhone 4, which introduced the concept of a “retina” display, it took Android phones over a year before phones with similar pixel densities, like the LG Nitro HD, to appear.

Will the same thing happen in tablets? It could: Apple has a tendency, especially with the iPad, to gobble up supplies of key components. However, the supplier of the new retina screen, which appears to be Samsung, also competes with Apple in the tablet arena, so perhaps some retina-worthy Galaxy Tabs are in our future.

Until then, the iPad is a display specimen that has no equal — among tablets, anyway. Here we’ve gathered some of the most impressive examples that show just how much of an upgrade the retina screen is.

Let us know what you think of the iPad’s retina display in the comments.

Correction: The article initially gave the wrong resolution for the new iPad’s display. The correct resolution is 2,048 x 1,536.

More About: apple, ipad, retina display, tablets

8 Reasons People Aren’t Following You Back on Twitter

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 05:01 PM PDT

Whenever you follow someone on Twitter, you hope that they'll follow you back. It's a strategy many of us use in the attempt to gain followers. But often, it doesn't work out that way.

Here are eight reasons why people aren't following you back on Twitter, plus one way to increase your chances that they will.

1. You Don’t Have a Profile Photo.

Nothing screams "newbie" more than not having a photo. And if you're not a new to Twitter, you really have no excuse for not replacing the default egg image with a photo of your own. Using a headshot is best, but if you don't want to reveal your identity — or if you're tweeting as a brand — then a relevant graphic is acceptable.

2. You Don't Have a Bio.

I need more than a photo or a graphic to decide whether or not I'm going to follow you back. Make sure to take advantage of the 160 characters available in the bio section to describe yourself and tell us which subjects you'll be tweeting about.

3. There Is Some Polarizing Aspect to Your Bio.

If you want to include religion, politics or controversial views in your bio, you certainly have that right. But just know that it may turn off some people from following you. On the other hand, it may encourage those who are like-minded. When in doubt, cast the largest net possible by having a friendly yet informative bio.

4. Your Tweets Are Protected.

Twitter allows you to "protect your tweets," which means that your Twitter feed is only available to those whose follow requests you have accepted. To me, that completely defeats the purpose of Twitter, which is to converse openly and exchange ideas with more than 200 million users. So, if I see that you have protected your tweets, I'm not going to bother requesting your permission to see them. If you have something private to say, send a Direct Message to one of your followers.

5. You Tweet Too Little.

Potential followers often glance through your Twitter feed to see what you're tweeting about and how often. If it looks like you're only tweeting once a week, I’m going to assume you're not much of a Twitter enthusiast. No sense in increasing my follower count with someone who barely tweets.

SEE ALSO: 12 Top Community Managers Share Their Tips for Better Engagement

6. You Tweet Too Much.

If you tweet all day long, I probably won't follow you. We just met, and I'm not ready to have you clogging up my Twitter stream.

7. You Mostly Broadcast But Rarely Engage.

If you're running a one-man (or one-woman) show on Twitter, I'm not your audience. I look for tweeters who are not only sharing their own links and opinions, but who are retweeting and responding. You want to have a conversation, not view a monologue.

8. It's Not You, It's Me.

Your profile pic is lovely and your bio is inviting. You tweet a few times a day every day – without protection. But our interests just don't align, so alas, I'm not going to follow you back. But don't worry, I'm sure lots of others will!

One Thing That Might Increase Your Follower Count?

Make them aware of you with an @mention. Whether you tweet at them (in a relevant, non-spammy way) or manually retweet their tweet, give the user you want to follow you some sort of @mention. It shows you're the type of tweeter who's willing to engage and help promote other people’s work.

What other strategies have improved your Twitter follow count? Share your tips in the comments below.

More About: features, Social Media, Twitter

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Unite for Syria Campaign Spreads via Social Media

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 04:41 PM PDT

March 15 marked the one-year anniversary since anti-government protests erupted in Syria.

Now the campaign #UniteForSyria has taken off on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — backed by celebrities and citizens worldwide. Its goal: to draw attention to the bloody protests that have been taking place in the country and urge an end to the fighting.

Some of the notable names supporting the #UniteForSyria campaign include Susan Sarandon, Stephen Fry, Nelly Furtado and Sir Patrick Stewart, all of whom have announced their support for Syria on social media, such as through tweets or Facebook posts.

According to Philippe Bolopion, the United Nations director at Human Rights Watch in New York, the campaign’s aim is to attract attention to the atrocities in Syria and stalemate at the United Nations. The hope is that this will especially put pressure on the Syrian government and its ally, Russia.

A coalition of 200 NGOs from 27 different countries, including the Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights, is spearheading the campaign. It calls for Russia and China to back the UN Security Council so it can pass a resolution formally condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government responded with force when Syrians first started protesting.

Follow the #UniteForSyria campaign in our Storify below. And let us know in the comments: do you think this kind of social media campaign can be effective?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, visual7

More About: anniversary, Arab Spring, Facebook, online activism, Syria, Twitter, YouTube

The New iPad Is a Pure Joy [REVIEW]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 04:14 PM PDT


The new iPad is undoubtedly Apple’s best tablet yet. Still, many users want to know: Are the new features — including the eye-popping retina display — worth it?

It’s a testament to the quality of the iPad 2 that this question is even being asked. After all, how do you improve on what was already a fantastic product. Sure, the iPad 2 doesn’t have the retina display, the improved camera or the souped-up graphics processor of its new brother, but the device is far from a relic. In fact, until today, the iPad 2 was the best tablet on the market.

That’s actually what makes reviewing the new iPad difficult. For the first-time iPad owner — or owners of an original iPad, the upgrade is a no-brainer. The new iPad is a best-in-class device, full stop. For users who have had the iPad 2 for under a year, however, justifying the new expense is more difficult.

To try to answer that question, I’m going to focus on the differences between the new iPad and the iPad 2, as well as the features that have remained the same.

The Screen

The screen is the core of the tablet experience. It serves as monitor, keyboard and canvas. The better the screen, the better the overall experience.

Hence, it is almost impossible to be anything but overly effusive about the display on the new iPad. The already fantastic IPS panel from the iPad and iPad 2 has been given the retina treatment, and boy is it beautiful.

Those that are dismissing the screen as a minor update haven’t spent much time with it. It might just be one component — but it’s the central component of a tablet. It’s impossible to escape the beauty, clarity and crispness.

The 2,048 x 1,536 resolution yields a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. Text, photos, videos and games are brighter, sharper and more clear. As one of my colleagues pointed out, “It’s better than real life.”

Using the new iPad took me back to the summer of 2000 — when I saw my first plasma HDTV while working at Best Buy. It was a $40,000 wonder and the image was glorious. It was better than real life.

While text and graphics don’t quite have that “painted on” look of the iPhone 4/4S (because of the way the display layer is bonded to the touch panel), text looks better than a newspaper and as crisp as the most well-published glossy magazines.

Photos pop, with colors looking natural and larger than life. When comparing the new iPad against the original device from 2010, it was riveting to see just how much more accurate color tones were on the new device.

Videos also look great. Both 1080p videos from iTunes and side-loaded ones look fabulous. Even iPhone-only apps designed for the iPhone 4/4S look great, with the double-sized options looking near-native.

The one downside to this great screen — aside from never wanting to look at anything else — is that apps that haven’t updated their graphics with retina support immediately stick out like a sore thumb. Text rendering in almost all apps will still be perfect — but logos and photos can look fuzzier.

This is much the same situation that happened when the iPhone 4 was released. In the coming weeks and months, old apps will get updates. Apple is also likely to make retina-graphics mandatory of future applications.

Playing a game — such as Firemint’s Real Racing 2 HD is a treat. The new graphics really perform and the line between game console and tablet starts to get blurry. To be clear, Real Racing 2 HD is no Forza4 for Xbox 360, but it’s still a great-looking game and the new screen and processor keep things moving without skipping a beat.

4G LTE: A Love Letter

I was initially torn between buying a 4G LTE iPad or one with just Wi-Fi. In 2010, I had a 3G unit from AT&T. It was nice to have the feature, but I rarely used it. When I purchased the iPad 2 last March, I opted to just get the Wi-Fi model. Instead of paying a separate fee for data, I simply tethered my iPhone 4 (and later the 4S) to the iPad when I needed data on the go. It’s worked out for me and again, I’ve rarely found the need to tether or go online with my iPad as Wi-Fi is usually available.

I live in New York City and while AT&T’s service has improved over the past few years, but the HSPA+ network that the iPhone 4S runs on is still not 4G. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to test a number of 4G LTE handsets from Verizon and AT&T.

Both networks are extremely fast, but for now, Verizon still has the lead on deployment and availability in various cities. The speeds, when you can get them, are great.

So why did I decide to get a 4G LTE iPad? It’s simple: Value. By buying a 4G LTE Verizon iPad, I also get a 4G LTE Verizon hotspot — and without a contract.

AT&T does not allow users to tether from their 4G LTE iPads at this time. That may change in the future, but for now, it’s iPad-access only. Verizon, on the other hand, will let me use my new iPad as a 4G LTE hotspot with my phone or laptop. This is great for someone like me — who frequently covers events with low or no connectivity. Rather than having to have a 4G LTE hotspot on hand, I can just turn on the iPad.

As you can see from my speed tests, Verizon’s 4G LTE performance averages — inside a building — about 10Mbps down and about 15Mbps up. That number is even better when you have the clear view of a window and are in an office that doesn’t have tons of interference, cables and connected devices around.

The one caveat to LTE. AS I’ve noted this in my past phone and hotspot reviews, it tends to kill battery life. Fortunately, Apple solve this problem by putting in a supercharged battery in the new iPad. I haven’t had enough time to fully test the battery, but in my heavy usage for the last 12 hours, I’m not seeing any results that differ from the drainage I got on my iPad 3G or my iPad 2 Wi-Fi.

If you’re in the market for a 4G LTE hotspot — or want a no-contract way to try 4G LTE — the new iPad is a great device. Even better, the new iPad ships with unlocked world GSM SIM slots. That means both Verizon and AT&T models can be used to access 3G on global GSM networks (including AT&T for Verizon iPads).

A Camera That Doesn’t Suck

As I showcased in my first-impressions post, the new rear camera on the new iPad is a significant improvement over the “camera” on the iPad 2. For all of it’s faults, the iPad 2 actually takes good looking video (or at least, video that isn’t totally awful) — but as a still camera, the device is quite weak.

The new iPad might not match the iPhone 4S in terms of quality, but it is a huge step up.

Moreover, there is something incredible about using the giant super-high-res screen as a living, breathing viewfinder. It makes me wish apps such as Camera+ and Instagram would release iPad versions.

As for video — the new iPad can record in 1080p, up from 720p on the iPad 2. We’ve seen the incredible video quality of the iPhone 4S; can the new iPad get similar results?

Well, I’ll need to take my iPad out with me this weekend to get better shots, but as you can see from this comparison of video from the iPad 2 and the new iPad, the color quality is much better, the lens is wider and the auto-focus is smarter — the white balance also adjusts more quickly.

iPad 2 Video Quality Test:

New iPad Video Quality Test

This, combined with iMovie and Vimeo for iPad, opens up some interesting possibilities.

Still, it can be sort of awkward to take video or photos using the iPad. If you treat the device as a large-scale moving viewfinder the results can be good and it’s easier to handle.

I could actually see a tripod-mounted iPad being a great secondary camera monitor for people who shoot using DSLRs or with the iPhone 4S.

The Song Remains the Same

Aside from the optics, screen and connectivity options the new iPad retains the same software features that make the iPad 2 such a delight.

Some users might find this disappointing — but in truth, working great isn’t a bad thing. I fully expect that iOS 6 will introduce new features that take even more advantage of the new iPad, just as iOS 5 introduced features that made the iPad 2 stand out from its older brother.

All the core Apple apps have received updates to support the new retina display, and a number of third-party apps are on board too.

The unit is almost physically identical to the iPad 2 — just a hair thicker and a bit heavier. Still, the device is svelte in comparison to not just the original iPad — but most of the major tablets on the market.

Because the iPad release never falls exactly in-line with the OS update cycle (which is what the iPhone does), it can be difficult to predict what new features might get added in the future. If I had to guess, I would say that the Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility will open up a plethora of new add-on accessories in the future. I would also love for the iPad to have the option to accept content streamed via AirPlay from OS X Lion.

Hey, we can dream, right?

The bottom line is that users expecting something groundbreaking on the software side will need to wait. That doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t fast and elegant.

So, Is It Worth It?

For owners of the original iPad, the new iPad is absolutely worth an upgrade. It improves on that device in every single way.

For iPad 2 owners, I still think the upgrade is worth considering, particularly for those interested in 4G LTE. The value here — with the lack of contract and the ability to tether with Verizon — makes the device far more versatile.

Moreover, resale value and trade-ins for the iPad 2 can often provide enough of a financial incentive to make upgrading less painful.

For users who got an iPad 2 for Christmas, waiting on the new iPad might not be a bad idea. Perhaps after iOS 6 is released, there will be new features worth highlighting. The bottom line is that the fact that the new iPad is great doesn’t mean the iPad 2 isn’t also great.

The new iPad may not have blown everyone’s mind, but it blows mine away. The screen, the 4G and the new graphics make for an awesome experience that will only improve as apps update and developers take advantage of the new processing power.

The new iPad is a joy to hold, to use and to look at.

More About: 4g lte, apple, ipad, ipad 3, new ipad, review, verizon

20 Hilarious ‘Hunger Games’ Memes Taking Over the Web

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 03:36 PM PDT

Advice Katniss

AdviceMockingjay Tumblr

Click here to view this gallery.

The Hunger Games film won’t be released until March 23, 2012, but that hasn’t stopped the Internet from creating a trove of awesome memes that poke fun at the popular series.  They range from rage comics to the newly spawned “Advice Peeta.”

Lionsgate has been using social media to interact with Hunger Games fans online. Last August, Lionsgate began a Twitter campaign for The Hunger Games using the hashtag #whatsmydistrict and launched an official website for fans to explore. In February, Lionsgate announced a Twitter contest to unlock tickets to advanced screenings of the film.

SEE ALSO: How to Follow ‘The Hunger Games’ on Social Media

We’ve rounded up 20 of the best Hunger Games memes from around the web.  What are some of your favorites?

Thumbnail courtesy oftheblueprincess12 / Tumblr.

More About: Entertainment, features, films, internet memes, memes, metrics, the hunger games

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NFL Free Agents Gain New Power With Social Media

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 03:17 PM PDT

Amid the NFL’s free agency frenzy, NFL players have taken to social media this week to break news of their fresh contracts and switches to new teams.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, for instance, announced via his Facebook Page on Tuesday that he would join the Washington Redskins after four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. In an interview before the post, Garcon said social networks give athletes new power to control narratives as they move from team to team.

“Social media is taking over,” said Garcon, who has some 350,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter. “It’s a great opportunity for me to make the announcement and make sure the story is accurate and the facts are 100% correct by having it come from me directly.”

Garcon’s announcement appears to be the first time a relatively high-profile professional athlete has used social media to say he’s leaving his old team behind to join a new franchise. Players have previously used social media to announce contract extensions with current teams.

Other NFL free agents pulled similar moves after Garcon. Cornerback Richard Marshall announced a move from the Arizona Cardinals to Miami Dolphins with a tweet on Wednesday. Tight end Martellus Bennett broke news of his move from the Dallas Cowboys to a new team by tweeting, “I’m officially a New York Giant!”, according to multiple reports. That tweet was soon deleted, but Bennett did sign with the team. A Giants spokesman told Mashable the team had no input on Bennett’s decision to delete the tweet.

Players have also used social media this week to let fans of their old teams down easy. In a video posted to his Facebook Page on Wednesday, cornerback Cortland Finnegan thanked Tennessee Titans fans for embracing him during his six seasons with the team. The video was posted shortly after he signed a contract with the St. Louis Rams.

“I want fans to be able to interact with me on a personal level,” Finnegan told Mashable in an interview. “Social media is just a great way for fans to be able to interact with players on a personal level and see the guy without the helmet on.”

Jeff Weiner, who advises Garcon and Finnegan on leveraging social media, thinks major announcements coming via Facebook and Twitter is a trend sports teams, fans and reporters should prepare to get used to.

“The first thing fans hear, the first impression they get about a player’s next move is going to come from what he says rather than what the media says,” Weiner told Mashable. “Reporters and mainstream media are going to have to continue to adapt to it and accept that they’re not always going to be the ones breaking news, but breaking the news the athlete already broke.”

Do you think it makes sense for pro athletes to use social media rather than traditional channels for big announcements? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS GALLERY: The Secrets to NFL Stars’ Facebook Success

Check out highlights from Mashable‘s December interview with Weiner on how NFL players can leverage Facebook.

Welcome Well

"Pretty much everyone who visits a page wants to go straight to the Wall," Weiner says. "So you have to give them a reason on the Welcome tab -- something extra, like exclusive access -- that gives them an incentive to click the Like button first."

Here, Woodley invites fans to connect by helping his Pro Bowl cause -- if they click the Like button.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image via Pierre Garcon’s Facebook Page

More About: Facebook, Social Media, sports, Twitter

Hotel Booking Site Guestmob Uses Algorithms to Find Major Deals

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 02:49 PM PDT

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: Guestmob

Quick Pitch: Guestmob uses advanced search algorithms to find discounted hotels in major U.S. cities.

Genius Idea: Relying on social data and predictive algorithms to find users the best prices on hotels.

Launching in 20 new U.S. markets Friday, hotel-booking website Guestmob wants to change the way consumers book hotels online. Guestmob uses a “back end auction” to find the best deals with participating hotels. It’s a little like Priceline meets Kayak.

Here’s how it works: type in the city you want to visit and a collection of hotels in that area will appear on the screen. Guestmob says it has carefully rated each one to ensure consistency and accuracy. The company then applies its pricing algorithm, which factors supply and demand and well as “social signals” in that region to find users the best price. You won’t know which hotel in the collection you landed until it’s booked, but the bookings are fully refundable.

Guestmob says they can offer these hotels at prices 50% lower than the best online rates for the same hotels on the same dates on major travel websites.

"Guestmob is a unique balance of manual curation and algorithmic pricing. On one hand, we spend countless hours reviewing hotels to ensure quality and consistency, a task best suited for human judgment, on the other, we push the envelope with software algorithms and math to find the optimal price point", said Yann Ngongang, CEO of Guestmob in a press statement. "So for travelers with a little bit of flexibility, we can deliver significant savings."

To access Guestmob, users can log in with Facebook or email or simply create a separate account. The startup had a soft launch in San Francisco this past fall and on Friday added 20 new markets: New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Portland and Phoenix.

Guestmob was founded in 2010 by Yann Ngongang. The small start-up is based in San Mateo, Calif. Guestmob has raised seed funding from Vaizra Investments, and numerous angle investors.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

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, hotels, online, travel

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KONY 2012 Creator Arrested for Lewd Act, Invisible Children Blames ‘Dehydration’

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 02:33 PM PDT

jason russell

KONY 2012 director and co-founder of Invisible Children Jason Russell was arrested by police in San Diego Thursday evening.

Russell was detained in the Pacific Beach neighborhood, with charges of public drunkenness and lewd behavior, NBC San Diego reports.

The 33-year-old father of two shot to fame this month after the 30-minute documentary film he made calling for the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony became an Internet sensation. KONY 2012 is now the most viral video of all time.

Mimicking the hashtag #kony2012, which trended on Twitter following the film’s release, #horny2012 became the leading worldwide trend.

San Diego Police Department Lt. Andra Brown says Russell was found vandalizing cars.

“He was no problem for the police department however, during the evaluation we learned that we probably needed to take care of him,” Brown told the press. “So officers detained him and transferred him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.”

The San Diego Police Department has not responded to Mashable‘s request for comment.
Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey released a statement after 1:40 p.m. PT saying:

“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”

This story is developing. Mashable will update the story should we learn more.

More About: kony 2012, viral videos, YouTube

Infinity Blade Is Just Getting Started With the iPad’s Retina Display

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 02:16 PM PDT

Infinity Blade II on the New iPad

Apple's new iPad looks and feels almost exactly like the iPad 2, until you turn it on and start using it. The retina display, which has more pixels than your standard HDTV, is a wonder, and app developers have been scrambling to update their products for it.

One of those apps is Infinity Blade II, arguably one of the most popular games on the iOS platform. Chair Entertainment, which makes the app, managed to finish in time to deliver an update today. Mashable caught up with Chair Founders bothers Donald and Geremy Mustard for a brief chat on what it took to retina-fy the app and how the retina display makes things better.

The updated Infinity Blade II, available now, is not the same game Apple demonstrated at last month's iPad New launch. That game, Infinity Blade: Dungeons, is a whole new style of game play. Donald Mustard called it "a dungeon crawler that takes place in the same universe." It won't hit the App Store, though, until this fall.

See Also: Infinity Blade: How Two Brothers Made $20 Million From One Mobile Game

In the meantime, Chair has been working on a couple of other important updates, including this one for the iPad third-generation's new retina display. Chair's Jeremy Mustard told us that it took about two weeks of hard work to get it working properly. The result is a game that works smoothly on the new, higher-resolution display and, despite all the extra pixels, is not scaled up (stretched and distorted) in the least. It does not, however, look much more digitally rich than the original Infinity Blade II.

"Apple has given us a lot of cool stuff with the new iPad," said Jeremy Mustard. However he added that the retina display overshadows some of the other important innovations. With its A5X CPU and quad-core GPU, the new iPad is "twice as powerful as the iPad 2," he said.

For games like Infinity Blade II, it takes a lot of CPU and GPU power to render each pixel, Mustard explained. "You can take advantage of all the new pixels or use [the power] to make each pixel look a lot cooler."

Mustard says that Infinity Blade II's March 15th update definitely uses a lot more pixels, but he left a little room on the CPU and GPU "to use that extra power on the next update."

In other words, Infinity Blade's next app update (which will also be free to IB2 owners) will look even better. That update will also include a new social gaming feature called "ClashMobs." We'll have more on that in a future report.

Donald Mustard said the new iPad lets them do some amazing stuff and their plan is, "We're going to keep pushing the new iPad to the limit." That should be music to every iPad gamer's ears.

Which games are you running on your new iPad? Tell how look and how well they work in the comments.

Bonus: Infinity Blade II Game Play

Infinity Blade 2

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, apps, games, Infinity Blade 2, ipad

Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 01:53 PM PDT

Parents had enough to worry about before their children could bully each other online, meet dangerous strangers without leaving the house, and switch between tasks at a rapid-fire pace. Some parents have even questioned whether their children will ever be able to concentrate.

In a world where, according to one survey, 81% of toddlers have an online presence by the time they are two, most parents are still confused about how to best manage their children’s relationship with technology.

Author Scott Steinberg attempts to answer their questions in a new series of high-tech parenting books called The Modern Parent’s Guide. The first volume, Kids and Video Games, went online as a free download this week. Internet, Web and Online Safety; Facebook and Social Networks; Smartphones and Apps; and Digital Music, Movies and Entertainment will follow within the next year.

Mashable asked Steinberg how parents should shape their children’s experiences with the digital world, and about the technology rules he uses in his home.

Q&A With Author Scott Steinberg

How has technology changed parenting?

In virtually every way imaginable, given that technology has permeated nearly every facet of kids' and adults' everyday lives, from the personal to professional and social.

Consider that kids aged two to five are better able to play video games and downloaded apps than tie their shoelaces or ride a bike. The iPhone, iPod touch and iPad now top holiday wish lists of children aged six to 12. And tots as young as two are being given faux plastic cellphones and tablets. (Even Mattel and Hasbro's toy lines are increasingly giving way to app-enabled action figures and Barbie dolls with built-in digital cameras.)

This introduces a fundamental paradigm shift, as modern kids are growing up in an age where technology and connected devices are both readily available second nature, and yet standardized norms and rules of behavior governing usage — as well as experienced, positive role models — are hard to come by.

Keeping kids safe online requires that we reevaluate old approaches and reequip parents and kids with an entirely new set of skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century, which changes the very fabric of family culture. Plus, of course, demands that everyone — parents, kids, teachers, government, law enforcement, etc. — do their part to shoulder the weight of this responsibility, which must be shared by all parties involved.

A recent study from Nielsen found seven out of 12 children ages 12 and under who live in tablet-owning households use the devices, and it suggests parents give their children tablets to occupy them while traveling and waiting in restaurants. Is there anything wrong with using the iPad as a babysitter?

"As a rule of thumb, high-tech devices should unequivocally not be used as babysitters, but practicality being what it is, sometimes you have to bow to reality.”

Let's be realistic up-front: Like many modern parents, my wife and I probably wouldn't have survived the early years if the iPad and iPhone weren't there to buy the occasional moment's peace and chance to enjoy dinner out once in a while, without having to juggle screaming sprouts. But using hardware and software as a substitute for actively paying attention to or spending time with kids is a bad habit that's all too easy to get into, and one that sells children short.

Screen time should always be limited, and use of high-tech devices balanced with other healthy everyday activities. And parents should always make a point of keeping an eye on and spending time their children — a rewarding and healthy experience for all.

As a rule of thumb, high-tech devices should unequivocally not be used as babysitters, but practicality being what it is, sometimes you have to bow to reality. Once in a while, after a long day, when you desperately need to decompress or five minutes to reconnect with your spouse, your toddler's turned into something straight out of The Exorcist, firing up Monkey Toddler Lunchbox or screening an episode of Dora the Explorer isn't something you should feel guilty about.

A wide range of products monitor children on their mobile phones and the Internet. Where is the line between appropriate supervision and spying? Is there one?

The line is all too fine, and the decision to implement such solutions is often a point of much contention between parents and tots. Realistically, only you can decide what's appropriate here, though it's often advised to openly discuss with children the presence of — and your decision to implement — such solutions. Know this, though: A truly determined tot will always find a way to circumvent such restrictions, whether through software workarounds or visiting a friend’s house.

"A truly determined tot will always find a way to circumvent such restrictions, whether through software workarounds or visiting a friend’s house.”

The best defense here is a good offense: Teach kids positive computing habits, encourage them to come forward with questions surrounding negative situations or questionable content encountered online, and set a good example with your online behaviors. Build trust, foster parent-child communication and teach your kids how to make good decisions, and you'll empower them to safely connect and interact. And know that — like any normal individual — they'll sometimes mess up, and that, once breached, trust can take time to reestablish. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, despite safeguards and the best of intentions.

How can parents best protect their children from online threats while respecting their privacy?

Educate them regarding online safety, cybercrime, rules of online etiquette and behavior, information sharing, spending and other topics. Encourage open discussion about these subjects, and give kids the freedom to come forward and share their thoughts or any questions they might have.

Discuss and agree upon house rules regarding appropriate content and the use of high-tech devices, and the punishments that will be enforced (and terms under which they'll be rescinded), and take care to enforce them. Take advantage of parental controls and software solutions. And beyond doing always doing your homework and researching and going hands-on with new technologies and products, set a positive example through your own words and actions.

What rules do you have in your house regarding technology use?

No more than 30 minutes to one hour of screen time a day. No accessing high-tech devices in private areas of the home, with use restricted to common gathering spots like the living room and den. No apps or video games without spending an equal amount of time devoted to other pursuits — reading, nature walks, riding bikes, etc.

Access will be given only to age-appropriate content, and all software must be approved by both parents (although occasionally dad or mom overrules here, much to the other spouse's chagrin). Conversation will always be had — either during playtime or later afterwards, e.g. at dinner –- re: high-tech experiences and interactions, even if just to discuss the adventures and fun experience had.

And it's the wife and kiddo's inalienable right to pull [dad] away from the screen…or email when dinner is on the table.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter technically don’t allow users under the age of 13, but many tweens lie about their age in order to sign up anyway. As a parent, should you prevent your children from signing up for such sites, even if their friends are using them? If so, what are some alternative sites they can use?

Children and social networks are an interesting issue. Technically, terms prohibit access to those under age 13, and studies show that three in four kids who sign up can find themselves in unpleasant online situations. But plenty of positive experiences can be had on these sites as well, and wonderful, healthy relationships formed. And many kids are mature and sensible enough to make use of them in marked and meaningful ways.

There's no single-shot answer here as a result. Every child develops and matures at a different rate, and every household deserves the right to make the decision as to when introducing social networking is appropriate. Alternatives like Google+ (which lets you limit content sharing to pre-approved circles), Everloop and Neer may present promising alternatives, however.

Adults often respond to the prevalence of sexting and cyberbullying with the idea that young people don’t realize that what they post on the Internet is public. Do you think young people have a different understanding of what it means to put something on the Internet?

No –- kids aren't dumb. Some simply lack the maturity or benefit of experience and hindsight that adults possess that would allow them to understand the potential ramifications. Education is vital here, starting at an early age, and occurring through both home and traditional school settings. It's up to us to teach kids and provide proactive solutions here.

That said, there's definitely been a cultural shift. In many cases, today's are definitely willing to be more social and put more of themselves out there for others to see. Unfortunately, not all that's shared is positive in nature.

What is a reasonable amount of time for children to spend interacting with a screen each day?

That's a question only parents are equipped to answer. But as a general guideline, experts recommend no more than one to two hours of screen time a day, and that it be balanced with an equal amount of time enjoying other real-world activities.

Some families actually require that screen time be earned, reinforcing to kids that technology access is a privilege, not an inalienable right. Others add or subtract time based on good behavior, or even make a game of it, letting kids earn time by doing well in school, helping out around the house or doing good deeds.

What is the biggest mistake you see parents making when it comes to technology?

"The best way to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life is actually to embrace it.”

Ignoring it or blocking its use entirely. It's a problem that won't go away, and trying to halt the advance of progress is like trying to turn back the ocean's tide with a shovel and bucket.

The best way to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life is actually to embrace it, educate yourself about it and go hands-on with new devices, apps, social networks and services wherever possible. Not only does the practice allow you to make better, more informed decisions –- it also provides shared activities and interests for adults and kids to bond over, and equips you to have the healthy, open and honest dialogue that's vital to restoring peace to the household and helping kids stay ahead of the curve.

Do you have any favorite safe, educational websites for children?

National Geographic's website is a favorite, as are Disney and Nickelodeon's. But oftentimes, visiting your local park or museum's website can be highly rewarding as well. From games to activities (paper cutouts you can print, nature guides, stories, etc.), many offer a wealth of positive entertainment choices. Anything that offers educational value or encourages kids to learn about real-world subjects from math to science and nature is a plus.

Should parents be worried that constant online multitasking — many times even among multiple screens — is hurting their children’s ability to concentrate?

Yes and no. Yes, in that it potentially could train them to consume media in a manner that's less conducive to sustaining one's attention span, and rewire the way in which we process information. No, as it also fosters creativity, problem-solving and dynamic decision-making –- all qualities that can be of extreme benefit to children.

Moderation in everything is key. Making sure that kids enjoy other, more attention-sustaining activities that they can actively put their minds to, in addition to fly-by-the-microsecond high-tech pastimes, is crucial to maintaining balance here.

Many Silicon Valley executives send their children to a school that bans technology. If the people who make technology are removing it from their children’s curriculum, should all parents consider limiting or eliminating children’s screen time?

Eliminating screen time entirely seems a bit extreme, but yes, limiting screen time is of course a good idea. The answer, I believe, lies somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, parents can't afford to ignore technology, but that doesn't mean they have to let it rule kids' lives either.

As a parent who works in the technology field, I'll be the first to admit –- I'd rather children read a book, see a play, or go outdoors and enjoy sports than spend time vegetating in front of the computer or iPad. But that doesn't mean these devices don't have a place in schools or the home either –- they can be perfectly safe, uplifting and wonderful parts of kids' lives if used wisely, and in conjunction with other balanced and healthy everyday activities.

More About: education, features, ipad, Kids, parenting

Justin Bieber Wants Twitter Users to Pick the Cover of His Single

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 01:36 PM PDT

Justin Bieber Twitter - 600

Twitter followers, Justin Bieber needs your help.

The pop superstar launched an initiative on Friday that encourages his Twitter followers to choose which of two pictures should be the cover of his upcoming single, “Boyfriend.”

Bieber turned to Twitter to announce the campaign and urge his fans to vote via tweets on their favorite picture. The first photo — which can be voted for with the hashtag #JBboyfriend1 — shows him looking into the camera and running his hands through his signature hair. The second shows him looking off into distance (#JBboyfriend2).

The winning picture will be revealed on Monday. Fans can also visit the site to “unlock exclusive content.”

SEE ALSO: Justin Bieber Fans Break Social Media World Record | Justin Bieber's 5th YouTube Anniversary: The Road to Bieber Fever [INFOGRAPHIC]

Justin Bieber is no stranger to social media sites. Not only was he discovered on YouTube, he is very active on Twitter with over 18 million followers.

His latest song will launch on Monday, March 26.

Which other celebrities do you see succeeding at fan engagement on social media sites? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: justin bieber, Social Media, Twitter, YouTube

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Uganda PM Tries to Set Twitter Straight About Kony

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 01:20 PM PDT

Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has learned something key from the viral spread of the 30-minute KONY 2012 documentary: If you want to spread a message across the world, social media is a great place to start.

Mbabazi tweeted at several celebrity notables on Friday — including Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres and Lady Gaga — that Joseph Kony wasn’t in Uganda. Mbabazi used the hashtag #KonyisntinUganda.

Mbabazi’s account isn’t verified, though it has been tweeting frequently since before news of the KONY 2012 film, which was created by a group called Invisible Children, began spreading earlier this month. Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa tweeted that Ugandan radio host Alan Kasujja has spoke to the Prime Minister and confirms it’s his Twitter account. Twitter didn’t reply to Mashable‘s request for verification.

In response to Mbabazi’s attempted #KonyisntinUganda campaign, Invisible Children says it never claimed Joseph Kony was in Uganda in the first place.

“We think it’s slightly unnecessary, especially considering that the film explicitly says that Joseph Kony and the LRA are no longer in Uganda,” an Invisible Children spokesperson told Mashable, referencing the film’s 15-minute mark.

The film says, beginning at 15:00, “As the LRA began to move into other countries, Jacob and other Ugandans came to the U.S. to speak on behalf of all people suffering because of Kony.” You see a map of central Africa with a red tint shifting out of Uganda, though there is no “explicit” mention Kony has left.

Do you think its important for Uganda to rid its association with Kony? Does it really matter where Kony is located? Sound off in the comments.

More About: kony 2012, Social Good, World

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Acclaimed Technology Investor Roger McNamee Joins Mashable Connect as a Speaker

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 01:05 PM PDT

We’re pleased to announce that Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners will be speaking at Mashable Connect, our signature conference.

Mashable’s largest conference, Mashable Connect, is returning to Orlando, FL from May 3-5, and this year we will explore the future of digital with some of the brightest minds in the industry.

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL on Eventbrite

Roger and his partners launched Elevation Partners, an investment partnership focused on the intersection of media and entertainment content and consumer technology. Prior to Elevation Partners, Roger managed top-ranked funds at T. Rowe Price Associates, and launched Integral Capital Partners as well as co-founded Silver Lake Partners, the first private equity fund focused on technology businesses.

Throughout his career, Roger has delivered presentations about the biggest trends in technology. The focus of his talks have been about Google, Microsoft, HTML 5 and the future of apps. During Mashable Connect, Roger will unveil a brand new presentation, sharing his newest insight into the future of digital.

Lastly, Roger is a musician who performs 100 shows a year in the band Moonalice, where he plays bass and guitar.

Additional Confirmed Speakers

  • Lawrence Lessig is is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Professor Lessig is a global pioneer and leading expert in the area of contemporary copyright law and Internet privacy.
  • Duane Bray is a partner at IDEO, where he heads the firm's Global Digital Business. He routinely explores the intersection of technology and people, revealing and elevating the emotional connections that we forge with digital media.
  • June Cohen is executive producer of TED Media, and was responsible for bringing the TED Conference online, and growing its audience from 1,000 attendees to 150 million viewers worldwide. Previously, she was VP of content at, the pioneering website from Wired Magazine.
  • Alexander Ljung is the founder and CEO of SoundCloud, the world's leading social sound platform that enables anyone, anywhere to create and share originally created sounds across the web.
  • Joe Trippi and his team pioneered the empowerment message and the online community tools that have become the basis of movement politics all around the world. Joe was heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the man who “reinvented campaigning."
  • Hilary Mason is the chief scientist at, where she makes sense of vast data sets. Her work involves both pure research and development of product-focused features.
  • Burt Herman is co-founder of Storify, a platform for creating stories with social media, and founder of Hacks/Hackers, a worldwide organization bringing together journalists and technologists.
  • Adora Svitak is the author of three books and an international teacher, speaker and activist. Since the age of four, she has been exploring what she can do with the written word: everything from championing literacy and youth voices to guest blogging for Mashable, Edutopia and the Huffington Post.

These are only a few of the many prominent figures who will be speaking at Mashable Connect. You can see a full list of speakers here.

Event Information

Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.

A Look Back at Last Year's Mashable Connect

1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla

Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

Click here to view this gallery.

Supporting Sponsor

Sponsorship Opportunities

A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for Mashable Connect. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable's passionate and influential audience. Contact for opportunities.

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New Verizon 4G iPads Can Also Run on AT&T

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 12:39 PM PDT

Purchasing a Verizon iPad doesn’t mean you can’t also surf the web on AT&T’s network–for now, at least.

One enterprising MacRumors commenter, jsnuff1, discovered Friday morning that the Verizon version of the tablet can also run AT&T’s data network.

All you have to do is swap out the micro-SIM in the tablet and update the iPad’s carrier settings.

“I was one of the first to obtain a Verizon iPad and can happily confirm that this is allowed,” writes jsnuff1. “I used my ATT iPhone 4S sim card and took out the Verizon sim, and data worked! You must apply the AT&T APN carrier settings before this works though.” The commenter also shot a video of his iPad running on the network.

We gave it a whirl at the Mashable offices. Sure enough, after inserting the AT&T micro-SIM from an iPhone 4S into a Verizon iPad, we saw the familiar “AT&T 4G” appear on the screen.

That means you’re getting 3.5G, effectively — see this story for an explanation. Using an AT&T SIM in your Verizon iPad won’t actually get you 4G speeds.

That is likely why many opted to purchase the LTE version of the tablet over the Wi-Fi version in the first place. AT&T data cards will only be able to connect to the carrier’s 3G, HSPA+, and EDGE networks rather than the much faster LTE network the AT&T iPad runs on.

The fact that the Verizon iPad can run on other carrier’s networks also isn’t entirely surprising. The micro-SIM card slot on the tablet is designed to be used for roaming internationally when Verizon’s network isn’t available.

But it was expected that the slot would lock out other carriers while in the U.S. Apple may well fix that soon enough in a future iOS update.

If they leave it this way, however, the functionality could come in handy for Verizon buyers when traveling in areas in the U.S. where they might not get the best coverage.

What do you think? Does the ability to take AT&T SIM cards give the Verizon version of the tablet an advantage? Do you think Verizon will prohibit the functionality on the iPad in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: apple, att, ipad, verizon

Tablet Owners Are Hungry for Paid Content [STUDY]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 12:23 PM PDT

Are you buying lots of cool new apps for your iPad? If so, you have proved a study about tablet owners right.

A Nielsen study shows individuals are loading up their Apple iPads, Amazon Kindle Fires, Android devices and other tablets with paid content.

These consumers devour professional, long-form content such as books, magazine features and movies.

Tablet owners are currently redefining the standard of media consumption — to charge or not to charge.

Selling subscription-based content to mobile users was once unthinkable, Jonathan Carson — head of Nielsen’s Digital Business — told Mashable. TV overwhelmingly relies on ads and subscriptions, but the Internet has not because most content is free.

Charging credit cards for tablet media content is a global trend, the study says. People are downloading costly music, books, movies, magazines, TV shows, streaming radio, news and sports content, usually in that order. The only discrepancy is the purchase of news in different countries.

Voluntary participants for the study were tablet users in U.S., U.K., Italy and Germany. Americans are the most likely out of the countries studied to buy entertainment. Though Italians are more likely to buy news content than anyone.

Why? It’s a mix of the availability of free news in the U.S. and the kinds of media available in these countries, Carson said. U.S. news companies were traditionally really hesitant to experiment with online and mobile subscriptions.

That is certainly shifting.

“This has really important lessons for content strategies and for business models for media companies,” Carson said. “For media companies it’s figuring out the balance between what’s our subscription versus single-content transaction versus advertising supported model. It’s just a very critical nuanced balance for them to make right now.”

SEE ALSO: iPad Is Still the King of Tablets, But Kindle Fire and Others Are Catching Up [STUDY]

Carson suggests that media organizations start experimenting now as new devices roll out in the near future.

“There is very strong usage for Americans for news content on tablets,” Carson said. “They enjoy consuming news content on their tablets, just that Americans news companies have not monetized it through paid subscriptions and paid transactions.”

The trend of paid content is viewed as a turn of events at Nielsen. Nielsen is currently focused on looking at the world as people adapt to various smart devices. Things change every couple of months, Carson said.

The study also released other interesting statistics about tablet owners.

Whereas women trump men in TV viewing, online video viewing, blogging and smartphone usage, men make up the majority in tablet usage. Most tablet users are 18 to 34 years old. Tablets are mostly used at home, Nielsen reports. Only 30% use the bulky device on-the-go.

Which tablet apps are you willing to pay for? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Johan Larsson.

More About: android tablets, apple, ipad, study, tablets

20 Most-Shared Guinness Ads on YouTube

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 11:50 AM PDT

20. Race Against the Pint

In this tale of athleticism, a man tells a tale of his aging brother's yearly race against a Guinness pint. The old guy could give Dos Equis's "Most Interesting Man" a run for his money!

Click here to view this gallery.

Time to dust off your green top hats and practice drawing shamrocks — Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of this celebration of all things Irish, we’ve tapped into the viral video analytics at Unruly to examine a staple of Ireland — Guinness beer.

For those of you who have been ostensibly living under a rock, Guinness is basically the national drink in Ireland. For more than 250 years, the company has been brewing beer in Dublin. While the brand is known for its classic Irish Extra Stout, the company also makes a draught stout and a black lager. Of course, Guinness is also the official drink of St. Paddy’s Day, getting the party going all across the world.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Beer Apps for St. Patrick's Day

Known for its blockbuster-style advertisements, the Irish brewing company has done well advocating its brand message worldwide. And these commercials live in perpetuity on YouTube, some of which have racked up views in the multi-millions. Many of the spots are side-splitting and hilarious, others bold and fierce — but they all have a bit of cheek.

Speaking of, the number one video (which has had 64,756 shares all-time and nearly 2 million views on YouTube since its launch) shows off the beer company’s raunchy side. I won’t give anything away, but I will mention that it is NSFW.

Check out the top 20 videos from the beloved beer company below, and get ready to embrace the luck of the Irish. What’s your favorite commercial in the gallery? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, SimmiSimons

More About: Advertising, Beer, features, Holidays, trending, Video, YouTube

Apple Factory Reporter Lied to Us, Says ‘This American Life’

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 11:24 AM PDT

A scathing report by performance artist Mike Daisey looking at working conditions in the Chinese Foxconn facilities where iPhones and other popular tech products are manufactured was “partially fabricated,” according to This American Life, the radio show that aired the episode.

“Regrettably, we have discovered that one of our most popular episodes was partially fabricated. This week, we devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in ‘Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory,’” reads the description for This American Life‘s latest episode, titled Retraction.

A publicist for Daisey told Mashable the performer is “unavailable for interviews at this time.”

In a response to the radio show’s retraction Daisey wrote in a post to his own website: “I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge.”

Daisey’s report examined working conditions in the Foxconn factories where many Apple products are produced and was based on an excerpt from his one-man show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

(UPDATE: Daisey’s next performance of the show, in Chicago, has been officially cancelled.)

“What I do is not journalism,” Daisey wrote on his site. “The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic ­- not a theatrical ­- enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret.”

The This American Life episode helped spark an avalanche of investigation and criticism of Apple for its labor practices. Show producer Ira Glass says on the This American Life blog that Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down the interpreter who accompanies Daisey on his trip to the Foxconn facilities, and the interpreter disputed many of Daisey’s assertions from his monologue and the episode.

Glass also says Daisey was not honest with them in adapting his work for the show.

“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast,” Glass writes. “That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.” The show’s site is currently down, but you can see the full text of Glass’ statement below.

This American Life – Mike Daisey Retraction

Does this change the way you think about whether or not Apple products are ethically made? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, Foxconn, trending

What Do You Think of the New Pinterest Profile Pages? [POLL]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 11:16 AM PDT

Pinterest updated the design of its profile pages Friday morning and so far, the reviews are mixed.

Based on the comments to Mashable‘s story on the upgrade, opinions range from outright hate to lukewarm acceptance. It’s unclear what Pinterest was hoping to change with the redesign. CEO Ben Silbermann told attendees at SXSW in Austin, Texas, earlier this week that the goal was to provide an alternative to Facebook’s Timeline.

Now it’s time for you to weigh in. What do you think of the redesign? Take the poll below and let us know.

More About: facebook timeline, pinterest, polls, redesign

FBI Asks Google to Unlock Android Phone [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 10:54 AM PDT

A security and privacy researcher at Indian University, Christopher Soghoian, found an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) requesting to unlock an Android phone.

The FBI wanted access to the phone of Dante Dears, the reported leader of “Pimpin’ Hoes Daily” street gang. The FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Lab couldn’t get past the “pattern lock.” If you try too many false patterns, you lock the phone’s memory, which can then only be unlocked with a user’s Google account password and username.

Google replied, “Like all law abiding companies, we comply with valid legal process. Whenever we receive a request we make sure it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. If we believe a request is overly broad, we will seek to narrow it.”

Do you think Google should comply with the FBI in this case? Let us know in the comments.

More About: android, FBI, Google, mashable video

Google Hires Digg Founder Kevin Rose

Posted: 16 Mar 2012 10:35 AM PDT

Kevin Rose is officially a Googler. In an announcement made on his Google+ page, Rose said Friday morning he is Google-bound and is bringing the staff of his startup Milk along with him.

"I’m beyond excited to announce that the Milk crew (Kevin Rose, Daniel Burka, Chris Hutchins and Joshua Lane) is joining Google!” Rose wrote. “It's been a privilege to use Google products over the years (I still remember begging for a Gmail invite) and I can't wait to be a part of the amazing team that is shaping the future of the web. :)"

Milk was formed in April 2011, just a few weeks after Rose quit Digg, which he also founded. Milk, meant to be a development lab for mobile web ideas, was housed in San Francisco’s Mission District.

News that the Digg founder and his team were headed to Google originally broke Thursday. It comes just a few days after Milk pulled the plug on its very first app, Oink, which allowed users to rate the insides of places. At the time, Rose said "Oink was our first test and, in preparing to move onto the next project, we've decided to shut it down to help focus our efforts" — efforts that will now take place at Google.

What do you think abut Kevin Rose heading to Google? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Google, kevin rose

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