Friday, 23 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Future iPhone May Be Made Out of Glass”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Future iPhone May Be Made Out of Glass”

Future iPhone May Be Made Out of Glass

Posted: 23 Mar 2012 03:01 AM PDT

Glass iPhone patent

Apple has filed a patent application that describes a handheld device with a case made entirely out of glass.

Such a case could be formed from a “hollow glass tube” or two pieces of glass bonded together. The material would be radio transparent, and the device could be hermetically sealed and thus water resistant.

The iPhone 4 and 4S aren’t really that far from this idea, their case consisting of two pieces of glass and a steel frame.

Some problems immediately come to mind. While the glass material used in modern smartphones is quite tough, a smartphone made entirely out of glass could easily be damaged in a fall. Furthermore, the iPhone is chock-full of sensors, some of which might have problems functioning in a (transparent) glass enclosure – though Apple’s application addresses this problem by suggesting some parts of the glass case can be made opaque.

And the upsides? Well, Apple names a few in its patent application: “Some of the reasons for using glass over other materials are that glass is strong, stiff, and radio transparent and therefore a suitable material for an enclosure of an electronic device capable of wireless communications.”

“A glass enclosure can also provide the portable electronic device with a unique, aesthetically pleasing appearance (…) The seamless enclosure, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, can provide the added benefit of less contamination and moisture intrusion into the interior of the device,” the patent application describes.

How do you feel about the idea of a glass iPhone, iPod touch or other handheld device? Share your opinions in the comments!

[USPTO via Engadget]

More About: apple, glass, iphone, patent, trending

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Kids Build ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Viper Simulator in Garage [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 08:42 PM PDT

Here is a list of some of the geekiest things in the world: Flight sims. Kickstarter projects. Maker Faire projects. Battlestar Galactica fans who know the 1970s series as well as the 2000s version. And high school students who engineer projects in their spare time, in their garage.

Put all of that together, and you have possibly the most awesomely geeky thing in history: a Battlestar Galactica Viper flight simulator, constructed in the garage by a bunch of Bay Area high school kids, funded by Kickstarter and set to be unveiled this May, at Maker Faire 2012.

John Boyer, Alex Jacobson, Joseph DeRose, Sam Frank and Sam DeRose are the kids behind the simulator, which looks seriously hardcore (check it out in the video above) and plays around with gravity. So much so that you’d probably better hold off on the corn dogs until after you try it out.

The basic idea: mount the fuselage of a small plane (a Piper PA-28) on a motion-control platform capable of 360 degree rotation across two axes. “This design allows for considerably more motion around the pitch axis than commercial entertainment systems, such as those found at the Smithsionian Air and Space museum,” write the precocious high schoolers on their site.

With just under a month to go, the Kickstarter project funding the Viper has raised more than double its intended goal. No doubt some backers were enticed by the VIP option that offers to reconstruct the Viper in a location and time of your choosing.

Are you a budding Apollo or Starbuck? Would you want to give this simulator a shot? Let us know in the comments.

More About: kickstarter, maker faire

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Why ‘World of Warcraft’ Might Get You More Dates Than [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 08:22 PM PDT

Most guys aren’t grinding away at their Level 45 Battle Mage in order to meet the ladies. But online gaming across the board is becoming more mainstream, and lots of people spend lots of time in virtual worlds — men and women alike.

Despite the growing popularity of online dating networks, they still don’t hold a candle to gaming juggernauts like World of Warcraft in terms of user base and interaction. And according to the studies aggregated in the infographic below, the meaningful connections gamers make over online adventures go a lot further toward relationship building.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Twitter Is Sexier Than Facebook

The folks at have made a compelling case that digital dungeon diving might be better for your love life than

Have you fostered a romantic connection with an online gaming companion? Do you play online games with your significant other? Or do you think online dating (or even traditional dating!) is a better way to pinpoint the perfect mate?

Infographic courtesy of

More About: Entertainment, Gaming, infographics, love, online dating

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On Intern Sushi, Applicants Submit Videos Instead of Resumes

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 08:01 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: Intern Sushi

Quick Pitch: Intern Sushi is a new way to find, apply for and manage internships in industries that are hard to break into.

Genius Idea: Providing a multimedia platform for interns and companies to present themselves through one-minute videos and digital profiles.

If you're applying for an internship, the last thing you want is for your résumé to get stuck in a pile of hundreds, or even thousands, of other résumés. Intern Sushi lets you show employers why they should hire you instead of tell them.

Through one-minute videos and digital profiles, Intern Sushi allows interns to present themselves to employers in the hardest-to-break-into industries, including film, television, sports, music, fashion, advertising, public relations, web, tech, publishing, theatre and art. The one-minute videos give interns the opportunity to showcase their talents however they like, whether it's describing their talents and goals, presenting their work or even singing a song.

"We set out to reinvent the application and hiring process for interns to give them access to companies that they feel are really inaccessible," Intern Sushi founder Shara Senderoff told Mashable in an interview. "We want to drastically change the way of opening the door for students so that it opens in many more ways than they can even imagine."

After students complete their digital profiles with information such as their college, portfolio, graduation year and interests, they can apply to internships from more than 1,300 companies directly on the site. They can also track every step of the application process, organize drafts, arrange interviews and accept offers all on the site.

For $8.99 a month, interns can get ahead of the competition by signing up for an Intern Sushi premium account. Premium users get a 48-hour headstart to apply for internships and can upload an unlimited number of targeted videos to send to employers.

Launched in 2011, Intern Sushi also lets companies create their own digital profiles with one-minute videos that tell a company story or what they look for in interns.

Companies also post available internships on their profiles and can use the advanced "scouting" feature to find an intern that is the right fit for their program. When they find an intern they're interested in, they can use the "scout" button to contact him or her using three preset messages or a customized message.

Once interns are hired, the site becomes a management tool to help them be more efficient and effective at their new job. For each industry, Intern Sushi has a "Content Section" of original videos that provides interns with insider information about concepts, key terms and players. For example, if you are are hired for an internship in the fashion industry, Intern Sushi has a video that explains all of the fashion events you should know for your job.

Intern Sushi is currently in beta and has approximately 10,000 interns from around the world. A few of the top companies that seek interns on Intern Sushi are Warner Music Group, Funny or Die, Lionsgate Entertainment, Michael Stars, Gary Sanchez Productions and DraftFCB.

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.

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Angry Birds Theme Parks Coming to Europe

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 07:43 PM PDT

Angry Birds might be coming for the little green pigs near you. Rovio Mobile, makers of the worldwide mobile game phenomenon, are in talks to open a theme park in the U.K. and additional parks in the U.S. and China at a later date, further expanding the Angry Birds empire of goods.

This news comes about one month before the first Angry Birds Land opens at Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Tampere, Finland.

The Angry Birds parks will be little lands inside already existing theme parks, similar to the character-themed sections Disney Theme Parks. But the company’s goal is to be much bigger than Disney,” Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka told

“Zynga is a game company. We stopped looking at ourselves as a game company. We sold 25 million plush toys last year. For us, it’s about making Angry Birds available everywhere,” Vesterbacka said.

The parks will feature slides, sandpits, arcade games and more– all Angry Birds-themed, of course. The promotional video below from Lappset, the company designing the playground equipment for Angry Birds Lands, says the parks will bridge the digital and physical worlds:

People can’t get enough Angry Birds. There is an Angry Birds movie and TV show in the works, Halloween costumes, a cookbook, and toys and apparel.

The game has even been played in space, to help ensure that Angry Birds Space, which launched Thursday, looks realistic.

Late last year, Rovio announced Angry Birds reached half a billion downloads. The success of Rovio due to Angry Birds has sparked rumors of a $1 billion IPO in 2012.

This isn’t the first time Angry Birds has been brought to life. Last summer, a T-Mobile promotion brought real exploding birds in slingshots to the streets of Barcelona.

Would you visit an Angry Birds Land? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto,

More About: angry birds, china, Finland, rovio, theme park

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10 of the Weirdest Pins on Pinterest

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 07:28 PM PDT

Pinterest has quickly become a hot social site for curating themed boards for things like wedding planning, recipes and fashion. Among the pretty pin boards, there are also a lot of weird photos that kind of make us go, “WTF?”

That’s exactly the sentiment Allison Tyler had, which inspired her to create the Tumblr WTF Pinterest.

“I started the site on a whim, as a place to share the things that run through my head when I see ridiculous items on Pinterest,” says Tyler. “I didn’t realize it would resonate with so many others.”

The site averages about 50,000 hits a week, with most coming directly, and Pinterest itself being the biggest outside source of traffic.

According to Tyler, the posts that get pinned the most are the silly posters she’s made herself that poke fun at Pinterest users. One, for example, is “Pinebriated: When you can’t remember if you’ve already pinned that.”

As far as the weirdness goes, Tyler says “you have to take what you see with a grain of salt — but people re-pin the craziest things as truth, and don’t seem to feel the need to investigate and discover if the pins are even based in fact.”

We’ve round up ten of the weirdest pins we could find from WTF Pinterest. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve come across on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments.

1. Crochet Matthew McConahughey?

For fans of the often shirtless celebrity, we present you with a naked, crocheted, bongo-playing Matthew McConaughey.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, humor, pinterest, Social Media

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Apple Patent Suggests iPhones to Become Universal Remotes [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 07:12 PM PDT

Apple is rumored to be working on its own Apple-branded HDTV, and a new patent filed by the company suggests it may also be working to turn your iPhone or iPad into a universal remote for that television and a whole lot more.

According to Patently Apple, the patent suggests a remote that could control an upcoming Apple television as well as potentially other televisions already on the market. The patent shows your iOS device becoming a universal remote, capable of controlling not only an Apple-branded television, but also a DVD player or DVR.

The patent suggests a remote that could automatically look up the code for connecting to your television, and could create a virtual version of your existing remote for a device by simply taking a photograph of it. The photo would be sent to iCloud for analysis, then allow you to use the virtual version to control your device while also taking advantage of additional features offered by Apple.

SEE ALSO: App Makes Your Smartphone a Hotel TV Remote Control

Apple already offers a Remote app, and the new functionality would likely be an extension of the current offering. Remote is currently something that users choose to download themselves; in the future, however, Apple may choose to include the app preinstalled on new devices when they are released.

The patent arrived at the United States Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday, although it was originally filed in 2010. Filing a patent is also not necessarily a sign that a product will be made, although an Apple-branded HDTV is a rumor that has been circulating for quite some time.

Would you want to use your iPhone or iPad as a universal remote? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, Apple TV, HDTV

The $175 Speaker That Lets You Direct Sound Like a Laser Beam

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 06:50 PM PDT

You can already buy a special kind of loudspeaker that directs sound with the precision a flashlight beam. These gadgets can send messages to people on the street without disturbing neighbors or create audio explanations for multiple museum exhibits in one room without worrying about a clash of sound. Or they can make an announcement that is only heard by people who are standing in a specific location — say, your storefront window.

But each one will set you back up to $3,000.

The technology could, however, soon get a lot more accessible. A serial inventor has built a version of a speaker in his garage that costs just $175 — opening up sound-pointing capabilities to the average user for the first time.

The inventor, Richard Haberkern, calls the project “Soundlazer.”

Haberkern’s speaker is slightly larger than a smartphone and plugs into a headphone jack. He plans to post the design files and programming information online so that others can hack it to fit their own needs. As is, he suggests it could be used to direct messages on showroom floors or to help bands communicate on stage.

It can also just be fun. “I have walked around with it and pointed it at people's heads,” Haberkern says, “and they turn around wondering why they have voices in their head.”

You, too, may have access to this joke should Haberkern’s $48,000 Kickstarter project succeed (With 58 days to go, he’s raised about $9,000).

Soundlazer works by emitting 39 separate high frequency ultrasonic beams. While the pitch is too high to hear in the air, you can hear the waves colliding with the object the beams are pointed at. The resulting sound can be heard by those within a 2-foot diameter from a range of 20 to 30 feet.

This is not the time, however, to get excited about an office-appropriate music experience that doesn’t require headphones. Though the speaker’s sound frequency is too high to hear, it’s being emitted at a decibel level that rivals that of a rock concert.

What that means: the sound you hear is about as loud as someone talking, but sitting next to the speaker for long periods will probably hurt your ears because of the sound waves you can’t hear.

“It’s loud, but you can't hear it,” Haberkern says. “It is more of an experiment in physics than anything.”

More About: kickstarter, soundlaser

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‘The Hunger Games’ Comes to Draw Something [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 06:23 PM PDT

Hunger Games

Hunger Games fans will get a surprise on Friday when they load up Draw Something, with the addition of seven words related to the novel and movie franchise.

Game creator OMGPOP recently added the ability to update the game with new words, particularly pop culture and news references. Coinciding with the release of the Hunger Games in theaters, Friday words pertaining to the book will also be released into the game.

Hunger Games fan or not, Draw Something players are likely to see Peeta, Haymitch, Gale, Effie, Tribute, Reaping, and Primrose show up as options for things to draw. So, if you’re a Draw Something fanatic, it’s time to start brainstorming how you’ll be able to portray those terms.

OMGPOP was purchased Thursday by social gaming giant Zynga for a reported $210 million in cash and employee retention payments. While OMGPOP was able to add the additional word functionality on its own, under the Zynga umbrella developers hope to add even more features to the game.

SEE ALSO: How Zynga Will Change Draw Something

"There are more features people want in the game, and there's no way we could scale enough people fast enough," said OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter told Mashable after the sale. "The game is so large that you need a really big scale."

Some features OMGPOP hopes to add to the game now that it has Zynga’s support: in-game chat and the ability to save and share drawings outside of the game.

The Hunger Games opens in theaters Friday. According to Fandango, more than 92% of total ticket sales this Tuesday were for the film, and more than 1,200 showtimes on Fandango were already sold out at that time.

More About: App, hunger games, omgpop, Zynga

How Tech Will Transform the Traditional Classroom

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 06:00 PM PDT

Ben Jackson is a writer and app developer living in Brooklyn, NY. He likes clean typography, dirty language, strong coffee, apple pie and comfortable chairs, and he writes about his obsessions at 90WPM.

As the post-PC era moves from interesting theory to cold, hard reality, one of the most pressing questions is: How can we use tablets, and especially the iPad, to help people learn?

Most of the focus has been on ebooks replacing textbooks, a trend fueled by Apple's recent updates to iBooks. Specifically, the company released iBooks Author, a tool for creating immersive ebooks on the desktop.

Plus, the new iPad is now the first tablet with a retina screen, making reading and watching multimedia on the device even more enjoyable.

But technology is only as good as the system it's applied to. Much like a fresh coat of paint will not improve the fuel efficiency of a '69 Mustang, the application of technology to a broken system masks deeper problems with short-term gains.

Not Just a Textbook

The iPad (not to mention the iPhone and iPod touch) is a personal, mobile computer capable of performing tasks unthinkable 10 years ago on a high-end desktop.

For starters, the device features an incredibly natural user interface. Andy Brovey, one of about 1,500 teachers who have been chosen for Apple's Distinguished Educators program, says, "There is a connection between the tip of your finger and the edge of your mind."

Besides its advantages over traditional PCs — like "instant on", all-day battery life, freedom from messy cords, and the elimination of what Edward Tufte called "computer administrative debris" — the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch can augment or replace many classroom tools, and accomplish the following.

Of course, schools need to budget not just for the purchase of iPads, but for apps as well. Fortunately, Apple makes it easy to buy apps and ebooks in bulk through the Apple Volume Purchase Program.

Low-Budget Alternatives

If your school can't afford iPads, consider less expensive alternatives. Essa Academy had great success with its iPod Touch program.

And there are plenty of free tools to liven up the classroom.

Incorporating iPads does not require new classroom equipment, and in fact, can breathe new life into old tools. For example, legacy VGA projectors can be retrofitted to work with an Apple TV using a $60 adaptor, allowing teachers to use Netflix, YouTube and iTunes rentals. What's more, students can wirelessly project their iPad screens at any time.

SEE ALSO: This Is How Apple Changes Education, Forever

Remember, just because it has a touchscreen doesn't mean it's an iPad. Fraser Speirs, head of computing at Cedars School of Excellence, cautions schools against settling on less-expensive Android tablets for many reasons, not the least of which is that Google has a poor track record delivering updates to users through carriers. If you decide to go with an Android device, don't be surprised when you receive a shipment of two-month-old tablets only to find out that none of them run Google Chrome.

How to Do an iPad Pilot

The majority of iPad pilots are based on the lending model. Speirs calls this the "iPad cart" philosophy, named after the "computer carts" common in schools before they installed machines in labs or issued laptops to students.

However, Speirs cites it as a common error. In his opinion, "The iPad, and computers like it…make school look like the society in which we live: one-to-one computers." This is a much more important lesson than any measurable gains, such as test scores. The iPad "makes the school relevant to the culture in which education is happening,” he says. “And that's much more important than a few points on math tests. Because if the school's not culturally relevant, then mass disillusionment is the result."

Consider his analogy: "What would it be like if all the people who write for Mashable had three computers between them? How would you do your job if you only got your computer on a Friday?" Speirs equates technology education to handwriting education, and believes computer literacy should be taught alongside other subjects rather than confined to a lab.

An Oklahoma State University study indicated that 75% of the students in the pilot agreed that the iPad enhanced the learning experience, and only 3% would opt out for a similar course with no iPad.

Another common pitfall is not using iCloud. For one, students doing work on an iPad will never again be able to say that the dog — or their PCs — ate their term papers. In addition, iCloud abstracts the file system, putting an end to misplaced documents and wasted class time while students search for the previous week's assignment. Spiers also sites iCloud in his argument for student email accounts. While giving email to an eight-year-old may seem risky, Google apps for educators allow schools to use Gmail while administrators monitor student use.

While it may seem obvious, all the iPads in the world are useless without fast WiFi and plenty of power outlets. What's more, many schools forget that teachers need their own iPads, and must become avid users, too. Speirs reminds educators, "You have to think through how it is to actually live with this device."

Finally, Speirs cautions teachers not to be intimidated by parent and faculty expectations, to gradually introduce the iPad rather than rushing in. Teachers and school administrators may wish to refer to Ruben Puentedura's excellent argument for tech in education and to the NMC Horizon Report. And look for inspiration in existing iPad pilots.

Obstacles to Progress

The media loves to hold up technology, and especially the iPad, as the savior of America's overworked public school system. In reality, however, there are many reasons why students have difficulty learning — and not having enough computers doesn’t top the list. These reasons generally fall under three umbrellas: political, pedagogical and cultural.

Politics greatly influences school curriculum. Elected school boards make decisions about what to teach; federal funding is contingent on meeting standardized testing requirements; and local governments determine who may open a school, where they can build it, and who can attend.

Often, poorly thought-out or outdated legislation and policies not only hurt the existing educational experience, but also block technological progress. And because policies are made on a local basis, there is no way to ensure that sensible ones are put in place across all schools.

Pedagogy is more ingrained, and harder to change. For example, it was long thought that the most effective way to teach most subjects was through rote memorization. We now know this not to be true. And while a community may elect new officials every two to four years, teaching methods are developed over decades and rarely change without a fight.

Digital whiteboards, for example, have many benefits over their analog equivalents. But try explaining that to a science teacher who's been using an overhead projector to teach biology for the last 30 years. As Rob Kling wrote in 1996, "schools do, on some level, understand the implications of the technology, and they resist them."

The most difficult problems in education, however, are often cultural. For instance, one might suggest that more efficient classrooms through the use of technology could allow for a shortened or staggered school day to serve more, smaller classes. But, according to Brovey, "It is difficult for us to imagine a school structure where [class time] becomes more fluid."

This also ignores one of the primary cultural roles of the American school: It is, effectively, the largest babysitting service in the country. What is to be done with those children once they've finished class? Where will they go? What will they do?

These kinds of questions are enough to make any school board official quickly change the subject to less-controversial solutions. At each turn, educators must reconcile their desire to bring technology to the classroom closer with their legal obligations.

Tumblr, Twitter and CIPA

The issue of Internet access in schools is particularly thorny. The Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires that school intranets filter inappropriate content. To that end, many schools err on the side of safety, often to an unnecessary degree. For example, YouTube is blocked by most schools, even though the site doesn’t violate CIPA.

In addition, many popular websites lie in uncertain territory. Those which rely on user generated content, like Pinterest, Tumblr or Twitter, are potential minefields.

Tumblr poses a particularly vexing problem. The site has become a hub for sharing news, links and inspiration, and yet it also hosts innumerable sites that consist of little more than nude photos, both artful and pornographic.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest or Porn-terest? What the Social Network Is Doing to Keep It Clean

But what happens when these sites cease to be niche communities and become the go-to sources for information in the real world? Twitter is the undisputed channel for everything from breaking news to political and cultural debates. How long can schools block access to it before they become completely irrelevant? The important thing when deciding school online policies, says Brovey, is that "you have to show that you're exercising due diligence."

The only way to ensure that important resources are not blocked by the school's firewall is to allow teachers to bypass those filters, and to have a simple, fast whitelisting process, ideally from the page that appears when a user visits a blocked site.

Brovey notes, "[Students] can help us to act as gatekeepers," by identifying false positives as well as inappropriate sites that slip through the filter.

Rethinking "Homework"

With its recent updates to iTunes U, Apple is clearly positioning itself as a poor man's Blackboard. For many schools, a free system from Apple, even a limited one, is better than nothing.

iTunes U allows students to time-shift more of the passive learning that currently makes up the majority of class time. This has a few benefits. For one, teachers only have to give a lecture once. And students can watch as many times as they want, rewinding and fast-forwarding recordings as needed.

But most importantly, removing lectures from class allows students and teachers to work closely with hands-on assignments. There's a world of difference between practicing algebra with a trained professional in class, and struggling with the student’s parents at home.

SEE ALSO: Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

However, instructors must establish limits. Watching one lecture per night is fine, but how are students to deal with six or seven lectures per day outside of class? Schools will have to consider how and when students will consume the material. More importantly, simply inverting the school day misses an important point: We need to provide students with new and engaging ways of learning, rather than just shuffling around the current methods in hopes of improved efficiency.

A Way Forward

Apple's ecosystem presents an opportunity to allow students to learn in new and engaging ways, and opens possibilities that were inconceivable even a few years ago. But technology is not a cure-all. Until society addresses the larger problems facing schools, introducing tablets and laptops into packed classrooms with overworked teachers is like putting a band-aid on a broken femur.

Many educators are still skeptical of the iPad, citing the lack of empirical evidence that tech improves test scores as proof that the iPad is all talk and no walk. But this ignores other important metrics, such as student satisfaction and drop-out rates. And at least one controlled study has now confirmed that the iPad does in fact boost algebra scores significantly.

Joel Rose focuses on disrupting long-standing, outdated practices in education with new approaches, rather than adding technology to existing ones. His program, the School of One, focuses on providing personalized instruction that moves at the pace of each student. Technology only comes into play insofar as it advances that personalized instruction. Machine-learning algorithms adapt the curriculum as each student progresses, and monitors direct each student to his or her next lesson.

Services like CourseKit are simple, free course management systems that compete on design and user experience. They look less like classroom tools and more like social networks.

These kinds of innovations may not impress parents or school boards as much as ebooks with interactive charts, but they begin to dig at the roots of the problem, rather than pruning the tips.

Technology's real promise lies in its ability to disrupt established systems and change the way we frame problems. How should we address the real issues plaguing our schools? Do we need technical solutions to everything? Are these problems better addressed the old-fashioned way, or should we just accept some of them and move on?

Until we acknowledge which problems really need fixing and begin working on ways to solve them, we'll be stuck with fancy, expensive — but ultimately useless — toys.

Image courtesy of Flickr, flickingerbrad, iStockphotp, arakonyunus

More About: contributor, education, features, ipad, Kids, tablets

Greece Brings Crowdfunded, Face-Filled Billboard to Times Square

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 05:39 PM PDT

up greek tourism ad 600

A crowd-funded campaign is placing a giant billboard in Times Square Friday, urging tourists to visit Greece.

The billboard, which is designed to highlight Greece’s beauty, was organized by volunteer group “Up Greek Tourism” on crowd-funding platform LoudSauce.

The campaign raised $20,000 in 20 days, exceeding its $15,000 goal. About 50% of donations came from Greece, while the rest came from Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the U.A.E., the UK and the U.S. According to Kleivokiotis, buzz spread entirely through Facebook and Twitter.

“Greece has a very big cashflow problem,” Yorgos Kleivokiotis, founder of Up Greek Tourism, told Mashable. “Tourism is people coming from abroad spending money on the economy. Will a billboard in Times Square make a huge difference? It’s not a huge ad campaign, but as more people get to know about it through social media it becomes worthwhile.”

According to Up Greek Tourism, the tourism industry is integral to Greece’s economy, representing 18% of GDP, employing one-fifth of the country’s workforce and bringing in 15 million visitors each year.

In May 2010, Kleivokiotis, a Greek national who has been living in Dubai for six years, created a Facebook event “Save Greece: Travel to Greece this Summer” in hopes of helping the Greek economy. The event reached 180,000 people, nearly 40,000 of whom said they were going.

Building off the Facebook event’s steam, Kleivokiotis wanted to do more. He donated to projects on Kickstarter and Kiva before deciding to campaign for a billboard in New York City. He had no idea that Times Square was within his reach.

Two of his friends joined his effort and then the team grew to 20 volunteers. They caught the attention of a Greek American who owned a Times Square billboard, which he offered to Up Greek Tourism at a steeply discounted rate.

The billboard art was designed pro bono by Greek American Charis Tsevis (known for Steve Jobs portraits made from Apple products). Tsevis’ poster features around 400 photos of people involved with the campaign.

In addition to the billboard, Up Greek Tourism has created iPhone and computer wallpapers, posters for college dorms and Facebook cover photos.

Moving forward, Kleivokiotis hopes they will be able to fund billboards in other major cities, such as Berlin.

Do you think this billboard will help bring more tourists to Greece? Let us know in the comments.

More About: crowd-funding, economy, greece, tourism, travel

The Tech Behind ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 05:17 PM PDT

The premise behind the new film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: a bold attempt to bring the sport of fly-fishing to the deserts of Yemen.

The film, which stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, might be fiction, but the filmmakers employed real fish experts to see if it would be possible to transport live salmon to the waters in Yemen. The biggest challenge is making sure the water temperatures aren’t too high. Salmon are cold-water fish and if the temperature is too hot, well, the fish cook themselves.

CBS Films offers us this exclusive featurette of the technical details behind the film. The film is in limited release, but continues to open in more cities across the U.S. and the U.K.

Salmon Fishing on the Yemen is employing a robust digital campaign for an independent release, replete with official Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue accounts.

The film is expanding to theaters in Minneapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, San Diego, Tucson, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore and more tomorrow. You can buy tickets here.

More About: cbs films, emily blunt, ewan mcgregor, independent film, salmon fishing in the yemen

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Social TV Fans Cheer ‘American Idol’ Singer’s Antics During Judge’s Harsh Critique

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 04:57 PM PDT

The funnyman on this season’s American Idol took his antics to another level Wednesday night, boosting his appeal among users of Peel’s Idol Interactive Experience, a second-screen engagement platform that lets viewers “cheer” or “boo” contestants and judges in real time.

TV discovery app Peel‘s data (see graphic above) of last night’s top 11 performances reveals which singers are most likely to be safe or be eliminated during tonight’s results show.

Finalist Heejun Han, who was at the bottom of the pack in last week’s chart, catapulted himself near the top of the sentiment heap with his playful rendition of Billy Joel’s “My Life.”

Han lead his performance (watch below) with a staged false start, telling the pianist and band to speed things up after the accompaniment started off too slow for his liking. Han proceeded to rip off his bland tuxedo in favor of a colorful get-up. Fans had mixed reviews (see second graphic) throughout his live performance, but they “cheered” for him intensely while the judges gave their critiques.

“Are you happy that you took the piss out of that song?” judge Steven Tyler asked Han. “The music business will kick your ass. At some point, you’ve got to take it a little more serious.”

Peels users simultaneously “booed” the judges’ commentary of Han, whose antics in previous rounds were praised by fans.

The remaining 11 contestants tackled Billy Joel songs with help from guest mentor Diddy. Leading the overall chorus of boos were underwhelming performances from DeAndre Brackensick, Erika Van Pelt and Joshua Ledet.

Could Peel users’ boos predict who’s going home? It’s possible. Last week, one of the bottom three most-booed contestants was voted off by America.

Front-runners Jessica Sanchez, Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon continue to please Peel users, with Dixon coming out on top this week for his version of “Piano Man.”

“As for the judges, the Peel community again disagreed strongly with Jennifer Lopez, who received the most boos of the three judges and the lowest approval rating,” Peel’s VP of marketing Scott Ellis told Mashable. “But in a surprising turn, Steven Tyler was the judge most in-tune with Peel users last night, with a 73% approval rating.”

More About: american idol, apps, Entertainment, mobile apps, Music, second screen apps, Social Media, social tv, TV

Netflix To Make Own Horror Show — and Pick Up Terra Nova, The River?

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 04:41 PM PDT

Netflix is bringing an original horror series to subscribers early next year as the company builds out its catalog of original content.

The streaming video and DVD rental service is also reportedly in talks to acquire two broadcast dramas facing cancellation from their networks.

Netflix describes the 13-episode horror series, Hemlock Grove, as a “gripping tale of murder, mystery and monsters set in a ravaged Pennsylvania steel town.” The show is based on a Brian McGreevy novel by the same name and is being directed and produced by Eli Roth. X-Men actress Famke Janssen and Anna Karenina actor Bill Skarsgard are among those who have already been cast for the series.

Netflix is also in “exploratory” talks to acquire recently cancelled Fox show Terra Nova, as well as ABC’s The River — which is expected to be cancelled after finishing its first season, Deadline reports.

All three developments underline the growing importance of original content to Netflix as competition revs up with other providers of premium online video content, including Amazon and Hulu. Netflix debuted its first original series, Lilyhammer, last month.

More original content, including House of Cards and the fourth season of Arrested Development, another cancelled series, will debut in Q4 2012 and early 2013, respectively.

Netflix isn’t alone in its bid to create original content. On stage at AllThingsD's media conference in Laguna Nigel, Calif., Hulu CEO Jason Kilar acknowledged that original content is becoming increasingly important to Hulu as well.

"It's important for us to differentiate the service and create content not out there right now, [to tell] stories that aren't being told right now," Kilar said. "Consumers are asking for it … [and] it does build up heavy differentiation. But it's not 'the thing' on our agenda; it's part of it."

For Hulu, that agenda includes original scripted series such as Battleground. Hulu will also be syndicating its original programming to traditional networks.

For Netflix, amassing a large stable of original series is just one way the service is attempting to win the broader industry battle over content.

More About: hemlock grove, hulu, netflix, terra nova, the river

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Moshcam Puts Thousands of Concerts On your iPhone

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 04:18 PM PDT

Feel like rocking out? Now you can carry around your favorite concerts in your pocket with a new iOS app, Moshcam.

The free app, launched Thursday, gives you instant access to more than 1,200 hours of live music from a roster of bands including The Decemberists, Jane’s Addiction, Blondie, Public Enemy, and Flogging Molly.

The shows can be watched on-demand on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as well as played on your television through Apple TV.

Founded in 2007, Moshcam has been recording major international and local artists at key venues in Sydney — and, since 2011, in London, New York and Los Angeles. Moshcam has international partnerships with Sony Bravia (global), Hulu (US), Vevo (global) and Google TV, and currently sees more than a million global visits per month to check out the virtual performances.

Thursday’s release is Moshcam’s first step into the world of mobile.

All the gigs are recorded and can be viewed in HD. They are streamed from Moshcam rather than stored natively on your handset. For optimal viewing —and preserving your data plan– you’ll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi data connection when you’re streaming a performance.

If you try to stream somewhere where your data connection is not so hot, the audio-only version will kick in. So you can still listen to tunes even though you can’t see them.

Downloading the free app gives you access to 5 performances of your choice from Moshcam’s pretty extensive catalog. Once you unlock a gig it’s yours to watch as many times and as often as you’d like, and additional gigs can be purchased for $1.99 per performance. Each show can be viewed in its entirety, or you can select an individual track from a menu screen to skip to that portion for the performance.

Moshcam says that its current most popular gigs are performances by Jane’s Addiction, The Decemberists, The Dresden Dolls, Tegan and Sara, Megadeth, Gary Numan, The Kills, Blondie and The Pretenders. While the app is currently iOS only, Moshcam also has plans to release an Android version in the near future.

Would you watch concerts on your phone or tablet? Let us know your thoughts on Moshcam in the comments.

More About: App, apple, iOS, Music

Mashable Photo Challenge: What’s In Your Laptop Bag?

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 03:55 PM PDT

Todd's Bag

The social web is becoming an increasingly visual place. Facebook users alone upload 250 million photos every day.

One of the things we love most at Mashable is seeing the world as our readers encounter it, through their photos and videos. For this reason, we are excited to announce a new feature on our site: the Weekly Photo Challenge. Each week we will provide a short photo prompt for inspiration, and the rest is up to you!

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to participate in our challenges. A cellphone photo and a DSLR image are equally valid in our eyes. Each week, we’ll select some of our favorite photos and feature them on Mashable as well as on our Facebook page.

We will choose images based on composition, originality and overall appeal.

This week we’re asking you to show us: Unpacked: What’s in Your Laptop Bag? Whether you pack light or carry clutter, we want you to turn your daily belongings into a work of art. Above, see Mashable community assistant Todd Olmstead’s gear. As another example, Flickr user Stera shows off a typical day’s necessities. For design inspiration, check out The Burning House, a blog that asks people to visually arrange the necessary possessions they would take with them in the event of a fire. How you arrange and display the contents of your bag is entirely up to you.

How To Enter The Challenge

  • Take a picture that shows us: What’s in your laptop bag?
  • Upload your photo to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram or the photo-sharing service of your choice, and drag and drop it in the picture widget below OR
  • Tweet your photo to @mashablehq with the hashtag #MashPics.

Submit your photo by Wednesday, March 28 at 12:00 p.m. EST. We’ll feature some of our favorite photos on Mashable as well as on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see your photos!

More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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How Private Are Your Apps? Congress Investigates

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 03:36 PM PDT

Just what information is software sold in Apple‘s App Store collecting about its users? Two members of Congress are trying to find out.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) have sent letters to 34 top mobile software companies to find out “what, if any, information these particular apps gather, what they do with it, and what notice they provide to app users.”

The companies they’ve hit up for information include Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and The five companies have apps that appear in the “social networking” category of “iPhone essentials” in the App Store.

Developers are being asked for specific details about their privacy policies; whether their software has transmitted data from users’ address books, photo galleries, GPS tags and other sensitive information; and details of what the companies are doing to protect the privacy of users.

The pair will use the information as a basis of a “fact-finding mission” to learn more about the security and privacy practices in the world of app development.

Over the past few months, developers have come under fire for apps that allegedly transmit users’ private data without their knowledge. Reports from The New York Times suggested that apps on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform are transmitting users’ private data unbeknownst to them.

Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate both companies’ privacy practices, and President Obama has suggested the adoption of a “Consumer’s Bill of Rights” for online data.

SEE ALSO: Are You In Control of Your Social Media Privacy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Waxman and Butterfield were also signatories to a January letter to Google demanding to know more about the company’s recent privacy policy changes.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: android, apple, Facebook, Google, iphone, Mobile, Politics, Tech, US

Feel Your Facebook Pokes With This Poking Machine [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 03:16 PM PDT

What is the purpose of a poke you can’t feel? That’s what occcured to the creators of a device called, appropriately enough, the poking machine.

Netherlands-based student inventors Jasper van Loenen and Bartholomäus Traubeck constructed an armband that physically pokes you when someone pokes you virtually on Facebook.

“This way users can connect not only virtually but also physically,” Jasper van Loenen says on his website.

The poking machine has a motorized lever connected to a 9-volt battery and a Bluetooth chip. The chip is linked to your smartphone. When someone pokes you on Facebook, the message is sent to your smartphone and then to the poking machine, which has a dish sponge-shaped neon case.

“Online social networks are platforms for communication, enabling us to connect anywhere we go. However, they still lack the mediation of physical communication,” the pair told The Next Web.

“Facebook tries to improve this by enabling its users to poke each other, which basically only sends another written message to the person you poke, without conveying the original intent of the poking gesture.”

This isn’t the first time clever inventors brought something from the virtual Facebook world into real life, but it does appear to be the first attempt to convert an action on Facebook into physical communication.

Would you want to feel someone poke you on Facebook? How much would you pay for this? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Facebook, inventors, machine, poke

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5 Ways TV Newsrooms Use the Facebook Cover Photo

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 02:54 PM PDT

Kim Wilson is the founder of SocialNewsDesk, a social media management solution created for newsrooms. Connect with her on Twitter @kimsnd.

In TV news lingo, the cover photo is the lead story. And in the competitive world of journalism, newsrooms are all vying for the best lead. I tell my newsroom clients to think of it as the cold open. You have a short amount of time to get people hooked and wanting more. For news organizations, it's a special challenge. Facebook is more than a publicity or customer service platform. For them, it's part of the job. Journalists use social media to gather news content and find sources. And step one is building a large and active fan base.

Viewers are impressed by technology. I've never seen a newsroom research study say otherwise. And tech-centric cover photos stand to impress fans with the razzle-dazzle of today's latest gadget. It's a great way to highlight the great lengths (or heights) news organizations go to for news coverage. But beware; these images lack a certain personal touch that fans desire.

Here are a few trends we're seeing as newsrooms use their cover photos to tease viewers into becoming fans. What are some other trends you're seeing with cover photos on news organizations' brand Timelines? Which approach do you think works best? Let us know in the comments.

1. The Mount Rushmore

Guess what -- Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln weren't standing next to each other posing for the sculptors at Mount Rushmore. It's why their heads are sort of floating in space (that, and the whole carved into a mountain thing). Despite the slightly-awkward composition, this style seems to be a very popular newsroom cover photo option.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: contributor, Facebook, facebook timeline, features, journalism, Social Media, TV

Apple Outsells RIM in Canada for First Time

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 02:20 PM PDT

Canada’s hometown smartphone manufacturer is no longer its favorite.

California-based Apple shipped more smartphones in Canada than Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM did last year, according to data compiled by IDC and Bloomberg. While Apple shipped 2.85 million units, RIM shipped 2.08 million.

This is the first time Apple surpassed RIM on its home turf. In 2010, BlackBerry sold more than half a million units in Canada than Apple. In 2008, Canadians bought just one iPhone for every five BlackBerrys they purchased.

Apple ascendance follows a generally disastrous year for RIM, in which it experienced highly publicized service outages, a plummeting share price, a CEO swap and a shrinking mobile market share.

RIM’s sales in Canada fell 45% in the third quarter of 2011 compared to a year earlier. In the U.S., meanwhile, RIM ended January with a share of 6.6%, according to comScore. Optimists noted that that figure was unchanged since October, indicating that the company’s market share may have hit bottom.

Meahwhile, the company does, Bloomberg points out, continue to outsell Apple in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

"People have a very U.S.-focused view on RIM, but we have a very global focus at RIM," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told the New York Times in January. "They're really actually quite different markets. In the rest of the world, BlackBerry is growing very fast."

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: apple, RIM

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Android App Lets You Fight Kony With Violence of Your Own

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 02:01 PM PDT

A controversial app debuting Thursday, called Kick Kony's Ass, allows you to "punch and generally beat down" a picture of the Ugandan warlord, "essentially giving him a taste of his own medicine."

Made by mobile safety app developer Iconosys, the app plays off of the attention currently on Uganda sparked by the "Kony 2012" video on YouTube.

Watched more than 137 million times, the most viral YouTube video of all time looks into the conditions in Uganda — focusing on one particular man, Joseph Kony, who has kidnapped children in the country, requiring them to become soldiers for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“This is a therapeutic way to allow you to get out your frustrations,” Wayne Irving, CEO and Founder of Iconosys told Mashable. “I often go and hit the speed bag or the punching bag, and I feel a 100% better afterwards. This is a novel/virtual way to accomplish some of the same therapeutic practices to deal with this fracas.”

According to the company’s press release, Kick Kony’s Ass "does not endorse violence in any way." Still, the function of the app is for you to commit virtual violence on a Kony character on your phone or tablet.

"Simply tapping on the screen in different areas determines whether you get to provide Kony with a Roundhouse, a 1-2, a left, a right, and finally, a big hand to the face. The more you tap the screen, the more punishment you get to give Kony. Finally, you can share your experience with the game on your Facebook page, directly from the embedded game-over screen."

Iconosys’ press release concludes with a quote from the Invisible Children’s website: "Invisible Children Uses Film, Creativity And Social Action To End The Use Of Child Soldiers In Joseph Kony’s Rebel War And Restore LRA-Affected Communities In Central Africa To Peace And Prosperity."

The app is available now for Android; Iconosys plans to release an iOS version of the game soon. Iconosys plans to donate any net proceeds from the app’s sale to "the World Children’s Fund and/ or other charities helping the children of this region of the world."

Does the app send the wrong message? Let us know your thoughts on Kick Kony’s Ass in the comments.

More About: android, apps, kony 2012, Violence

5 Ways Spotify Is Pioneering the Hyper-Social Business Model

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 01:41 PM PDT

Patrick Salyer is CEO of Gigya, which provides websites and apps with end-to-end social infrastructure through products like Social Login, Social Plugins, Social Identity Management and Social Gamification. Patrick can be reached on Twitter @patricksalyer.

Spotify has experienced meteoric growth since integrating with the new Facebook Open Graph in September. It is quickly becoming the leader in streaming music, an already crowded category.

Spotify's growth and its deep connection to Facebook are not coincidental either. In fact, the company's success is due in large part to its deep Facebook integration and the incredibly balanced user experience it offers.

Below you’ll find a list of reasons why Spotify gets the Open Graph 2.0 right, and how the company has created such an incredible user experience.

1. Unparalleled Facebook Integration

In the past few months, our Facebook tickers and news feeds have been full of updates telling us what our friends are listening to. Spotify’s integration into the ticker and news feed is sleek, seamless and sticky. But that's really just the beginning of what makes Spotify so unique and so engaging.

After I see what my friends are listening to, I click on the song, but I'm not directed to to purchase the song or to to listen to similar artists. Rather, as soon as I decide to listen to my friend’s song, the socially-integrated Spotify app opens right on my desktop.

Spotify’s social integration is tight; users transition between Facebook and Spotify smoothly. As soon as a user links Spotify to his Facebook account, his friends' listening activities (alongside their Facebook profile photos) are featured prominently right on the app. You can literally drag and drop music to share with a friend. Then, the song lands in your friend’s Spotify inbox via an in-app notification. It's truly quintessential frictionless sharing.

2. Sharing vs. Privacy

Spotify also balances its broadcast sharing model with an easy way to opt-out. As privacy issues continue to dominate the discussion on social networks, Spotify is not only able to cater to hyper-social users (those who love to share music both actively and passively), but also to those who would rather not share at all.

Users can choose what information they want to share with their friends and, if desired, not share their listening activities at all. Although Spotify users are already socially inclined, when they are given controls — when they know how to easily turn the fire hose on and off — they feel even more comfortable sharing.

3. Apps Within an App

Social is the key to web personalization. Specifically, Spotify opened its platform to allow third-party applications to cater to users' musical tastes even more.

Songkick, one of the apps within Spotify, reviews your playlists, listening habits and location to create a customized calendar of shows in your area, and even provides links to purchase tickets. Of course, the app could be even better by allowing purchase directly in the UI, but still, it does a very snappy job of personalizing music event calendars.

4. Walking the Tightrope

Ultimately, what makes Spotify so impressive is its balance between the on-Facebook and off-Facebook experiences, not to mention, its balance between sharing and privacy. Unlike music apps of the past (remember iLike for Facebook?) and the present (anyone using Google Music?), Spotify delicately achieves this balance by fully utilizing Facebook's new capabilities, while still largely controlling the user experience and monetizing along the way.

As our tickers and news feeds become flooded with passive shares, it's going to be fascinating to see which apps gain adoption and which fall flat. I predict the businesses that follow Spotify's balanced approach will truly stand out. Conversely, those that neglect to carefully and strategically deploy the new Open Graph may find their apps under-utilized.

5. From Social to Hyper-Social

The new Facebook Open Graph plants the seeds for challenging the old guard. Just as the on-demand model helped companies like Netflix and catapult ahead of stagnant companies like Blockbuster and Siebal Systems, respectively, so too could these hyper-social technologies help innovative businesses surpass their more inflexible competitors.

Millions of businesses have slapped the obligatory Facebook Like button on their web properties, and have subsequently wiped their hands of social. On the other hand, many forward-thinking businesses, ranging from services like Spotify to brands like Pepsi, seem to understand that "being social" means embracing and strategically applying new technologies that spread their content, products and brands.

Companies that take this approach have a tremendous opportunity to grow their user bases and produce tangible benefits from social. Those businesses that shouted from the rooftops about their social prowess after creating Facebook fan pages and adding Like buttons to their properties need to wake up to the new reality. The next generation of social technology, including the Facebook Open Graph 2.0, is changing the rules for engagement all over again. It's time for businesses to decide: Either get hyper-social like Spotify, or get left behind.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Soyhan

More About: contributor, Facebook, facebook open graph, features, Music, Social Media, spotify

Angry Birds Space is a Stellar Game — Even for Angry Bird Haters [REVIEW]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 01:20 PM PDT

Rovio released its highly-anticipated Angry Birds Space on Thursday — and its easily the most inventive game in the franchise yet.

I should add that I’m no fan of the original. Angry Birds never grabbed me; after a few levels the content felt recycled. As far as mobile puzzles go, there are many more challenging games.

But Angry Birds Space feels different in gameplay, if not in the premise. It sees the familiar bird crew shooting off to space to battle the pig enemy once again. The game presents the 60 levels a planets to explore and conquer as your rid the galaxy of swine-y scum. (It was very hard not to yell “PIGS IN SPACE!” while playing this game.)

But while the classic elements remain, to draw players familiar with the franchise, the levels turn many of the gameplay ideas on their ear. This title will have players recalling everything they learned in Physics class in high school to navigate the weightless and simulated gravity levels.

For one, shooting a bird off in the blackness means it has neither friction to slow it down, nor the forces of gravity to make it arch toward its target. Birds can also fly through the orbits of small planets, even circling them like a wayward satellite on a downward spiral.

Chain your orbits through the gravities of several small planets, and you’ve got a puzzle game that’s serious about its physics. It means more time spent thinking about how each shot will fly, and a visceral satisfaction when your birds hit their mark.

The game also brings modified versions of the classic birds, like a bomb bird with planetary rings. There are also two brand new birds: Ice Cube Bird, who freezes structures he smacks into, and Lazer, a bird with Geordi LaForge glasses, who can use a supersonic burst of speed to destroy everything in his path.

With 60 levels scattered across the four worlds, and hidden levels that are wacky parodies to space games, players have a lot of content to chew through on this independent release. One drawback for Android users is iOS versions of the game have an additional 30 levels; those are only available on Android phones made by Samsung.

The game ranges between 99 cents and $2.99, depending on your device. At those prices, its easily worth picking up. While longtime fans of the series have already probably downloaded the app, I would encourage new players to give it a shot. It’s definitely a little more challenging than the previous entrants to the series, and the space geekery and tricky physics make it worth the price.

Rovio also promises updates in the future, so you know you’ll get your money’s worth. iOs, Android, Mac and PC versions were all released Thursday.

Check out our gallery of screenshots from actual gameplay. Have you already played Angry Birds Space? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Angry Birds Intro

The Angry Birds, with all new characters, are blasting off in pursuit of their piggy foe.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: angry birds, angry birds space, iOS games, rovio

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‘Ancient GPS’ to Reveal 8,000 Years of Ordinary People [VIDEO]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 01:05 PM PDT

People who really want to leave behind evidence of their existence, and have the means, will do so — whether the evidence is the great pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu or the iPad.

But what about people on the opposite end of the spectrum, the little guys who happened to live 8,000 years ago?

Two researchers may have found the answer to that question. They’ve discovered a way to track human settlement — from the biggest cities to the tiniest farms — using spy satellite photos from the 1960s blended with modern multispectral images of the Earth’s surface. Call it an ancient version of a GPS.

As Jason Ur, a Harvard University archeologist and co-author of the study, explains, “Traditional archaeology goes straight to the biggest features — the palaces or cities — but we tend to ignore the settlements at the other end of the social spectrum.

“The people who migrated to cities came from somewhere; we have to put these people back on the map.”

So scientists are doing exactly that — putting people back on the map — by scouring these images for “anthrosols.” They are sort of like “digital fingerprints” or “soil signatures.” And in these images, anthrosols give off a different appearance to untouched soil, which is the result of high human engagement like building mud brick homes or farming land thousands of years ago.

Technically, the scientists aren’t the ones who are searching for these archeological clues — they’ve created an algorithm which is doing the job for them. The scientists say the work is a bit like scouring Google Earth, but the algorithm removes any subjectivity associated with the process.

In the study scientists conducted to test their research, they mapped about 14,000 settlement sites spanning 23,000 square kilometers in ancient Syria.

What do you think of this new map? What kind of things do you think scientists will discover about the everyday people from thousands of years ago?

More About: google earth, Science, Video

World Water Day: How Social Media Campaigns Are Making a Splash

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:53 PM PDT

world water day 600

World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, draws attention to the global water crisis and the importance of water to public health.

Organizations fighting for water sanitation use the day to spotlight their best efforts, many of which take place in the social space. This year, we took a look at four organizations doing great work to spread the message of sustainable safe water access.

The U.N. created World Water Day in 1993. This month, it announced that the water component of its millennium development goals — to halve the number of people without access to clean drinking water — has been achieved, well in advance of its 2015 deadline.

Read about these four projects below to see how social media is helping to spread clean water access across the globe. Have you seen any other worthy campaigns out there? Let us know in the comments.

SEE ALSO: Last Call at the Oasis Documentary and Mobile Campaign Tackle Global Water Crisis

Charity: Water Birthdays

Charity: water is launching a new site about birthdays Thursday. You can now pledge to “give up your birthday for clean water” — meaning your friends’ gifts will go toward helping the 2.5 million people effected by charity: water projects around the world.

Much of the organization’s $60 million raised for clean water projects has been through birthday fundraisers. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has given up three birthdays. Justin Bieber recently gave up his 18th birthday.

Mashable‘s Pete Cashmore has already donated one birthday to charity: water, and has committed himself to donating a second. Back in 2008, Mashable Twitter followers helped Pete to build a well.

Water for People’s Akvo FLOW

Water For People is using a tool called Akvo FLOW, currently in Beta, to monitor water points around the world. Akvo FLOW uses Android smartphones’ GPS, along with Google Earth, to track the status of global water projects, showing whether sites are running, broken or need maintenance.

The data contributed by staff, the community and volunteers is displayed on Water For People’s website.

Xylem Watermark also created an infographic to celebrate World Water Day for Water For People. Each time it’s shared on Facebook through March 30, $1 will be donated to the organization by Xylem Watermark.

UNICEF Tap Project

UNICEF’s Tap Project asks restaurant goers to pay $1 for the tap water they drink with their meal. That $1 can provide a child with clean drinking water for 40 days.

This year, the project launched a Times Square jumbotron and national online banner ads featuring World War II-style propoganda ad posts. You can create a custom fundraising page with personal videos and stories.

Giorgio Armani Fragrances are donating $1 to the Tap Project for every Facebook Like (up to 100,000) on its Acqua for Life page.

You can also text “TAP” to donate to UNICEF (864233) from your mobile phone to make a $10 donation. created Facebook Timeline cover photos (above), Twitter backgrounds, Pinterest posters, a #24HoursOfWater Twitter campaign, and a YouTube project, consisting of video bloggers from India telling their stories about the global water crisis.

You can also sign up to “donate your voice,” by letting post updates from your Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ParkerDeen

More About: charity:water, Social Media, water, world water day

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How Google’s Semantic Search Will Change SEO

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:42 PM PDT

Erin Everhart is the director of web and social media marketing at 352 Media Group, a digital marketing agency that also provides web and mobile app development. Connect with her on Twitter @erinever.

While the SEO game has changed drastically over the past months, one thing has remained fairly consistent: It's been driven by keywords — keywords in your URL structure, your META tagging, your content, your links. Whatever way you slice it, keywords are everywhere in SEO.

SEE ALSO: How Google's Social Search Shift Will Impact Your Brand's SEO

Even among Google's most recent algorithm updates — Panda, Search Plus Your World and Venice, to name a few — keywords remained relatively unscathed. But the upcoming update to move Google to semantic search technology, according to top Google Search executive Amit Singhal, is adding a whole new element to the game: the human element.

What Is Semantic Search?

Semantic search uses artificial intelligence in order to understand the searcher's intent and the meaning of the query rather than parsing through keywords like a dictionary. When you search now, Google gives you results based solely on the text and the keywords that you put in that search. Essentially, Google gives you its best guess.

When you use semantic search, Google will dive into the relationship between those words, how they work together, and attempt to understand what those words mean. Google will understand that "their" and "they're" has two different meanings and when "New" and "York" are placed together, it changes the meaning.

Semantic search isn't a new concept. As early as 2008, search engines were popping up that focus on natural language over keywords. But we're really only taking notice now because of Google. And Google is really only taking notice because of Siri and Google's response to Siri, Google Assistant, which will be out on Android devices later this year.

The Knowledge Graph

The support system of this semantic search will be Google's Knowledge Graph, a conglomerate of information aimed to answer possible queries that people will be searching for. Not only will Google understand what is being searched, Knowledge Graph will aim to give you more contextual information about it, not just a list of 10 other websites that could answer that question for you.

What Does It Mean for SEO?

Keywords are easy to manipulate; intent, not so much. In order to rank well in semantic search, you don't just have to put your keywords in the right places, you have to figure out the actual meaning behind those keywords and create content around that specifically. That puts more emphasis on your keyword research.

When people search, they aim to answer a question. They just search in the truncated version of that question. Keyword research is largely data-driven around the popularity of the terms in their question. Keyword research in semantic search will have to focus on what that person actually means when searching for that keyword.

For example: Yoga. What could people mean they search "yoga?"

  • What is yoga?
  • The different types of yoga
  • How to do different yoga positions
  • The best fit of yoga pants
  • Yoga exercise videos

The possibilities are endless. When you're framing your content in a semantic search world, it has to be around answering the specific questions people have as it relates to that keyword. With every sentence you write, ask yourself: How does this answer the searcher’s question? You will have to focus on the natural language even if those users are still focusing on keywords.

With Knowledge Graph, Google will now be answering questions itself, instead of relying on another website to provide the information. (You're probably already seeing some of this in action.) So, not only will you have to be competing with companies for ranking, exposure and clicks in Google, but you're competing against Google itself. And users aren't going to leave something familiar like a result page to go to a website they've never heard of before.

What do you think? Will semantic search provide better results for users? Will it seriously disrupt the way brands engage in search engine marketing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RonBailey

More About: contributor, features, Google, Search, semantic search, SEO

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Facebook Bought 750 Patents From IBM [REPORT]

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:30 PM PDT


The patent war between Facebook and Yahoo may be only just starting.

A new report says Facebook has acquired 750 patents from computer-systems giant IBM. The news comes shortly after Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement over 10 of its software patents.

A “person with knowledge of the transaction” tipped the news to Bloomberg Businessweek, though the deal hasn’t been made public yet.

Compared to other tech companies, Facebook’s arsenal of patents is rather meager: The company has just 56 patents compared with the thousands stockpiled by the likes of Microsoft and Apple.

However, the report says, Facebook has applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for at least 500 more. Apparently it didn’t want to wait for those to be approved and chose to take a shortcut in stocking up its patent portfolio.

The lawsuit from Yahoo, which has recently had a wholesale change in management and is expected to announce layoffs, likely provided the motivation.

SEE ALSO: Tech Industry Scorns Yahoo Over Facebook Patent Suit

Many tech companies are now using patents strategically to both generate revenue and discourage competition. For example, Google licenses many patents from Microsoft in the making of the Android platform, which provides a steady cash flow for Microsoft. In other cases, such as the many patent lawsuits between Apple and Samsung, patents are used to shut competitors out of entire regions (though that’s rarely the outcome).

IBM has been friendly in selling patents to younger tech companies in the past. In January, Google bought 217 patents from the IBM, including one for a “semantic social network.”

Reps from Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. An IBM rep declined comment.

What do you think of Facebook’s patent grab? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, stuartbur

More About: Facebook, IBM, patents, Yahoo

Rick Santorum Hit by ‘Klout Bomb’

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:14 PM PDT

Rick Santorum, one of the four remaining Republican candidates for president, is the latest victim of a “Klout Bomb.”

Klout is designed to measure a social media user’s influence about different topics. Users with a lot of Klout can give more Klout (“+K”) to other users often in whatever topics they wish.

Klout users who disagree with Santorum’s views on social policy appear to be taking out their frustrations on Santorum’s page. The former Pennsylvania Senator is now considered influential in “Diaper,” “Homophobia,” “Homosexuality” and “Racism.” The Klout bomb was first noticed by ReutersMatthew Keys.

The “Klout Bomb” is Santorum’s latest struggle with Internet users. In 2003, writer Dan Savage launched, a satirical website meant to redefine “santorum” in response to the then-Senator’s stance on gay rights. Since it opened, the site has ranked high on web searches for the candidate’s name. It has become known as Santorum’s “Google problem.”

But Santorum isn’t the only candidate who’s been the target of a Klout Bomb. Each of the presidential candidates is influential in embarrassing topics. Ron Paul is influential in “Drag Queen” and “Cloth Diapers,” Newt Gingrich in “cheating,” “divorce” and “lobbying,” Mitt Romney in “homophobia,” and Barack Obama in “cheating” and “fascism.”

Mashable reached out to Klout for comment on the “Klout bomb” phenomenon, but the company said it prefers not to comment on individual users’ accounts.

Meanwhile, former Republican candidate Rick Perry is drawing heat on Facebook after he said he wanted to cut federal funds for women’s health clinics because some are operated by Planned Parenthood.

Women across the country have been posting sarcastic comments and questions about women’s health on Perry’s wall for the past few days:

“I would like your opinion since I can't make medical decisions myself being a woman and all,” read one post. “Does Texas want to be #1 in the rate of women dying from cancer? This is a great step to achieving that goal. Good luck, Rick!” read another.

Is the “Klout bomb” a silly campaign by Internet trolls — or an effective way for people to register their disagreement with Santorum? Sound off in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Facebook, klout, Rick Santorum, Social Media, US

Twitter Updates TweetDeck, Allows Users to Edit and Retweet

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 12:03 PM PDT

Still struggling in the wake of its acquisition by Twitter, TweetDeck has just issued an update to its desktop, Chrome and web apps that adds support for better list management, inline media support and improved retweeting support.

The first Twitter-branded version of TweetDeck was released in December, and the reaction was not universally positive. Although Twitter has issued various bug fixes, diehard TweetDeck fans are still missing features that were part of the app pre-Twitter acquisition.

While the latest update doesn’t answer all previous complaints, it does restore some features that never should have gone missing in the first place.

Users can now create, edit and delete lists within the app itself. A “Lists” button is now visible, making it easier to add a list column or edit a list on the fly.

Twitter has also added new columns to list activity and interactions. The interactions column mimics the feature on, showing when users retweet, follow, favorite or add you to a list.

The new activities column shows real-time information on what actions users take. This means you can find out when someone favorites a tweet, starts following someone else or creates a new list.

Twitter has also introduced the inline media previews from and Twitter’s mobile apps to TweetDeck. this mans you can get previews on images and videos underneath a tweet.

The biggest change comes to the way that retweets are handled. The “Quote” option is now gone and replaced with an “Edit and RT” option that allows users to edit a tweet and add the RT distinction.

TweetDeck still has a few niggling issues — such as the way columns are resized — but the latest update is a big step in the right direction.

Are the updates enough to keep you using TweetDeck? Let us know in the comments.

More About: tweetdeck, Twitter

Draw Something: 20 Amazing Smartphone Sketches

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 11:54 AM PDT


by Rory B

Click here to view this gallery.

Draw Something has taken over the social streams of thousands with stick figures and crazy sketches. The game rocketed to more than 1 million downloads in the App Store before it even got major press.

Now at more than 20 million downloads, Draw Something‘s creators OMGPOP have been OMGPOP Forums. Some of the drawings are so good they might have been created with a stylus. Tablet screens also lend a great advantage to artistic players.

Check out our gallery of Draw Something doodles above. Think you can do better? Submit your best drawings below and we may feature them in a future Mashable post.

More About: art, Draw something, features, Mobile, omgpop, Zynga

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