Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “BlueStacks App Player Enters Beta, Brings Android Apps To Your PC Desktop”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “BlueStacks App Player Enters Beta, Brings Android Apps To Your PC Desktop”

BlueStacks App Player Enters Beta, Brings Android Apps To Your PC Desktop

Posted: 27 Mar 2012 05:06 AM PDT

BlueStacks, a company bringing Android apps to your desktop PC, released the beta-1 of its App Player Tuesday.

If you’re an Android fan, the name BlueStacks and the product may seem a bit familiar. Named Best Software at CES 2012, the App Player allows you to play the same Android apps you might enjoy on your smartphone or tablet full-screen on your desktop PC.

The alpha version of the software launched October 11 of last year, and was downloaded more than a million times during its 3-month alpha release. While the alpha could run many Android apps, the player was more a proof of concept and couldn’t run many popular titles such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

After winning its CES award back in January, BlueStacks made the alpha unavailable January 20 in anticipation of its improved beta release.

The beta-1 version of BlueStacks App Player incorporates the company’s Layercake technology to enable Android apps to run on x86-based PCs. "

"LayerCake is a disruptive technology that enables PC manufacturers to bring the best of the Android ecosystem to their customers. It also leverages the advanced graphics capabilities of AMD APU and GPU platforms," said Manju Hegde, corporate VP, Content, Applications and Solutions at AMD.

The beta version of the app offers much more app compatibility, and new app partnerships with HalfBrick (the company behind Fruit Ninja), StumbleUpon, Evernote, and HandyGames. App partner’s apps are available within BlueStacks App Player out of the box, and the player also now offers the ability to download Android apps directly onto your desktop.

The beta version also offers accelerometer support in the form of a virtual Android tablet in the corner of the screen that can be controlled using the arrow buttons on your computer.

"A billion PCs is a huge potential market for any developer,” says HandyGames CEO Markus Kassulke. “There is potential to make good money from the additional app discovery and usage."

Using BlueStacks App Player, Android apps you use on another device can be synced onto your home computer as well, allowing you to use an app that you’ve purchased for your phone on your PC–without having to pay for a desktop version.

BlueStacks hopes that the player will be disruptive to PC gaming, by allowing you to purchase and play much less expensive mobile versions of popular games on your computer. For instance, the Android-version of Angry Birds Space can be played full-screen on a PC using the player. If you already purchased the game on your smartphone, you would have to pay an additional $6 for the PC-version of the game. Likewise, the PC-version of the Sims is $30, while the mobile version of the game just $6.

The beta-1 version of BlueStacks App Player supports Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 and is available now as a free download.

Have any of you tried BlueStacks App Player out? Tell us what you think about running Android apps on your Windows PC in the comments.

More About: android, apps, smartphone, Tablet, Windows

Today’s Top Stories: HTC One X Looks Good in Benchmarks, NASA Launches 5 ATREX Rockets

Posted: 27 Mar 2012 04:51 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

New iPad Heats Up As Much as Android Tablets [REPORT]

The Heatgate – controversy around the alleged heating up of Apple’s new iPad – was probably never a real issue, and recent research adds more proof to that conclusion. PC World measured the heat levels of several Android tablets, including Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and the LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and they were comparable to Apple’s new iPad. It may run a little hotter than iPad 2, but it’s probably not too hot for most users.

Dual-Core Version of HTC One X Performs Strongly in Benchmarks

A series of benchmarks performed on AT&T’s version of HTC’s upcoming smartphone, the HTC One X, puts it far ahead of the competition in terms of speed. Unlike the European version of the device, which will be Tegra 3-based, the AT&T version sports a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor.

NASA Launches 5 ATREX Rockets

NASA has announced it has successfully launched 5 ATREX rockets on a mission to better understand the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth. The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) mission will create an artificial cloud, allowing scientists and the public to "see" the winds in space.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: features, first to know series, heatgate, htc, ipad, mashable, NASA

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Google Doodle Goes Architectural for Mies van der Rohe

Posted: 27 Mar 2012 02:00 AM PDT

Google Doodle Mies van der Rohe

Today’s Google Doodle honors Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the most important figures of modern architecture.

Mies van der Rohe was born on March 27, 1886 in Aachen, Germany, but he emigrated to the US in 1937, where he spent the rest of his life.

He was known for simplicity of his designs; some of his most famous works include the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Martin Luther King library in Washington DC, the Seagram Building in NYC and the National Gallery in Berlin.

Mies van der Rohe is also well-known for his aphorisms, frequently quoted in the context of design and architecture even today: “less is more” and “God is in the details”.

What do you think of Google's latest Doodle? Share your opinion in the comments.

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, google doodle, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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Swipely Beefs Up Its Credit Card-Based Loyalty Programs

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 09:00 PM PDT

Once a service for simply sharing purchases, Swipely is contining its evolution into a credit-card based loyalty program for small businesses with a set of new merchant tools it announced Tuesday.

The tools allow Swipely’s 350 merchants in Boston, San Francisco and New York to target their customers with deals based on recent purchase interactions with their small businesses. Merchants can, for instance, send a “we miss you” offer to customers who haven’t made purchases within a certain time period or a “thank you note” offer to those who have visited recently.

Using a new dashboard called the Main Street Marketing Manager, business owners can divide and target customers by metrics such as days since last visit, average purchase amount and whether or not they’re connected with the business on Twitter and Facebook.

Swipely argues its especially well positioned to deliver these metrics to small businesses because it bases loyalty programs on credit card history. Rather than burdening customers with separate cards or coupons that may not be forgotten at home, businesses that use Swipely encourage their customers to sign up for loyalty programs through a credit card they already use. They then receive rewards automatically as they spend money with participating merchants.

Previously, Swipely’s rewards had been limited to a simple points system. Users who spend a certain amount of money were rewarded with a certain amount of discounts. The new offers program is an opportunity to target specific customers at specific times.

“We're not just showing you that 144 customers are lapsed,” Swipely CEO Angus Davis tells Mashable, “but we're making that information actionable.”

But Swipely is not alone. A number of startups and big players alike are hoping to become the loyalty program provider of choice for small businesses. SCVNGR’s LevelUp app, for instance, lets users pay by scanning a QR code at registers. By using the app to pay, they unlock discounts.

Meanwhile, “mobile wallets” from PayPal Google and mobile phone carriers aim to become platforms for merchant deals and loyalty programs — though the adoption rate of these loyalty options is somewhat stinted by requirements for either software updates at merchant terminals or specific mobile phones.

Swipely instead relies on a piece of plastic that has been sitting in most U.S. consumers’ wallets for decades.

“It doesn't require a smartphone application, it doesn't require any upgrades on hardware in the store,” Davis says.

But the system isn’t without barriers. Swipely found out consumers didn’t want to share their purchase histories with each other with its first product. The startup says it only has access to information about customer purchases from its partners, but convincing customers to link their credit cards to Swipely requires some encouragement. Swipely says it equips its merchants with in-store signs and makes it easy for them to leverage their existing email lists.

Is nearly automatic participation in loyalty programs worth linking your credit card to Swipely? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: swipely

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Looking for Baseball Tickets? You Might Want to Avoid These Slow Sites

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 08:30 PM PDT

If you’re in the market for Opening Day baseball tickets, you might want to avoid some of the biggest names in online ticket selling, according to research by one web optimization company.

Joshua Bixby, a baseball fan and president of Vancouver-based Strangeloop Networks, tested transaction times for several online ticket vendors, including major players MLB.com, Ticketmaster and StubHub. He used the speed-tracking tool WebPageTest.org.

Over multiple trials, he recorded the amount of time it took for sites to load, beginning from the site homepage all the way through the ticket-purchasing process. He didn’t include the amount of time it took to navigate between links. But he did track the number of resources — such as JavaScript, CSS files and images — that each site required his browser to load.

Here are Bixby’s findings, ranked from fastest to slowest, provided exclusive to Mashable:

  1. CheapMLBtickets.com: 12.08 seconds average total loading time; 158 resources downloaded
  2. FindTicketsFast.com: 15.03 seconds; 121 resources
  3. StubHub.com: 23.52 seconds; 265 resources
  4. TicketsNow.com: 24.61 seconds; 319 resources
  5. Tickets.com: 28.12 seconds; 324 resources
  6. TicketNetwork.com: 31.72 seconds; 210 resources
  7. Ticketmaster.com: 39.67 seconds; 489 resources
  8. MLB.com: 43.37 seconds; 636 resources

For comparison, Bixby ran a similar test on eBay, and found a loading time of 12.2 seconds with 168 resources, almost identical to CheapMLBtickets.com. He also tried MLB.com on an iPhone over a 3G network (46 seconds, ended in a error) and on an iPad over a wi-fi network (62 seconds).

So why the big differences in transaction times? By and large, the sites with more resources to download were the ones with the longer delays. Bixby blames that on a “tug of war” between site performance and the desire to host advertising and other images.

“So far the tug of war has been won by the marketers and the image-makers,” he says. “What’s happening is that performance is a key feature and it’s kind of being neglected in some cases.”

Bixby says slower sites can improve performance — and subsequently discourage customers abandoning transactions — by streamlining pages to load fewer resources and by cutting the number of pages in the transaction process. As people continue to turn to mobile devices for shopping more frequently — and still prefer to buy via mobile sites over apps — transaction speed will only grow in importance.

Have you abandoned an online purchase because of slow loading times? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Clicknique

More About: e-commerce, Mobile, sports, Tech

Social App Marries the Fun of Group Couponing with Check-Ins

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 08:03 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.

JoynIn AppName: JoynIn

Quick Pitch: JoynIn is a daily deals site that combines the things you love about Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare and ScoutMob into one application that lives on the web and on your phone.

Genius Idea: JoynIn offers exclusive group deals to bars, coffee shops, museums and restaurants. This could mean a 50%-off offer good for nine friends or complimentary wine for two. Check-in on the app and get more points for later.

JoynIn is the daily deals site built for social butterflies. The website offers group coupons that cover you and your best pals, but also rewards you for planning the whole thing.

At first glance, JoynIn may look like just another local deals site. But, after signing in via Facebook, visitors will unlock sweet deals like “2-for-1 Well Drinks” and “Complimentary Chocolate Truffles” as well as a new kind of social experience.

Other than dishing out food deals, Joynin is a social network at heart. It allows users to plan outings directly on the website — Facebook invites, confirmations and all.

Simply state the occasion, where you would like to go, when, the venue, pick out an offer and you’re done. A message space also delivers a reminder or directions on how to get somewhere.

The app integrates Yelp reviews, so you can check out customer-created reviews of places where you’ll want to go — or skip. In addition to its Facebook aspect, JoynIn is also its own social platform. While using the web application, you’ll have a profile where people can connect and see what your favorite spots are.

Another valuable social aspect is the chance to connect to servers, bartenders and owners of local businesses for tips on local specials and deals.

“JoynIn is about is rewarding people for going out with their friends,” co-founder Brenton Gieser told Mashable. “So, we help people be more social in their social lives. They can go to bars and clubs and get rewarded for their influence.”

JoynIn Dashhboard

The founders of the San Francisco-based startup wanted to help businesses leverage a sector they weren’t readily tapping into. Businesses are focused on bringing in new customers, but weren’t trying to bring in friends and family the employees were connected to. This is a huge network of potential customers, the JoynIn team believes.

“We also reward employees at these businesses — bartenders and servers,” Geiser said. “We reward them for bringing in customers. It’s a social layer on top of real social life.”

Customers get deals and accumulate points the more often they check in. Employees get to build loyal customer bases and earn more tips. Owners can leverage the social network of the business’ staff.

“We are building a platform that allows both customers and employees to get rewarded for their influence,” he said.

JoynIn is currently only available in San Francisco on Android and iPhone markets. The app was launched in October 2011 and the team says they will be expanding to the rest of California and other parts of the West Coast soon.

There are about 60 to 100 deals available at a time. That number will certainly round up if the app grows in popularity as planned. For now, though, the team at JoynIn hopes to build up their community of loyal followers rather than focus on numbers.

SEE ALSO: Cheap Eats: 5 iPhone Apps for Frugal Foodies

The startup sees a wide open space for what they are providing in the deeply saturated mobile deals market.

“We are different, we’re not based on a one-time push based on the scarcity of an offer,” he said, comparing the product to LivingSocial or GroupOn. “We are more business friendly. Our overall goal is to really allow each person we call this the social business circle — business, consumer, employee — all get value from each other.”

The startup hopes to boost its engagement level and ring in about 25,000 new users in the next few months. Their business model is based on a small fee the company accrues for every person who enters and purchases something at a venue.

“Before people are going out we would love for them to find awesome offers,” Geiser said. “That is the main thing we are working to build.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, pinksherbet

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, daily deals, mobile app, startup

The Evolution of Anonymous

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 07:34 PM PDT

What Is Anonymous

A worldwide network of hackers has managed to gain access to the most secure networks on the Internet. The leaderless and faceless group, known as Anonymous, has infiltrated networks of the CIA, Interpol, email accounts of presidents, and has taken down the major web properties of global corporations. During its near-eight years of existence, Anonymous hackers have exposed a huge network of neo-Nazis in Germany and a stealth online child pornography ring.

No one knows how wide the Anonymous hackers’ network stretches across continents, nor how many people belong to the Internet-based group. All activity takes place on mostly secure networks and on social media. Anyone can carry the banner of Anonymous.

The rise of social media has proliferated the threat of attacks from people who claim to be a part of the elusive group. Though many times these highly publicized threats are not carried out, they nevertheless garner significant publicity.

Anonymous has claimed responsibility for data breaches, information leaks and website crashes. The group uses YouTube to upload voice-altered messages, Pastebin to upload documents about operations, the Tor Project to encrypt links — making click paths untraceable — and other online tools to protect identities.

Most missions are carried out in response to current events or in the fight for human rights. Anonymous often claims to be fighting for the defenseless. Whether Anonymous is an organization of vigilantes working for good, or simply cyber-criminals, that’s up to you.

Origin: From Lulz to Political Action

Anonymous took form in 2003 on the online message board 4chan (think yesteryear’s Reddit, which proliferates meme culture). The anonymity of the website spawned a group of pranksters, from which the politically geared Anonymous of today has evolved. Users on 4chan could post images and messages under the name “anonymous” or “moot” (nickname of 4chan’s then 15-year-old founder Christopher Poole).

Cole Stryker, author of Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4Chan’s Army Conquered the Web has been following the evolution of Anonymous since its inception. “I was interested in this whole culture of Anonymous that tracks down people and harasses them,” Stryker told Mashable. “And from there, Anonymous as a political activist group evolving away from the little more trollish activities. They were attacking the Church of Scientology and starting to go after Sony and a couple of other huge companies.”

The amorphous group shifted gears in 2007 with the plot against the Church of Scientology. Stryker calls this attack on what members perceived to be an “evil” organization as a rebranding for Anonymous. “Basically a group of Anons realized, ‘Well, we have this ability to harness the power of thousands of strangers through the Internet to pull all those resources in making someone’s life miserable. Why don’t we take that power and use it for good?’”

Anonymous is still misunderstood, says Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist studying hacker culture and digital activism. Though recent attacks have been politically influenced, it’s not accurate to label Anonymous as a group with any sort of agenda.

Anonymous missions can have a direct action that may be “coy and playful, sometimes macabre and sinister, often all at once, Anonymous is still animated by a collective will toward mischief — toward ‘lulz,’ a plural bastardization of the portmanteau LOL (laugh out loud),” Coleman states in an article published in Triple Canopy‘s Issue 15.

The one thing to take away about Anonymous is that it is extremely malleable. Stryker suggests thinking of Anonymous as a brand instead of a group. Anyone can claim to be Anonymous at any time.

“Anonymous means something different to everybody, that’s a part of it. The guy who is protesting economic reform in Greece has very little in common with the guy who is terrorizing 11-year-old girls on YouTube in the U.S.,” Stryker said, referring to the 4chan attack on Jessi Slaughter.

Becoming Infamous

Anonymous is a household name partly because of the extraordinary events that took place in 2011. Social revolutions occurred in Bahrain, Tunasia, Yemen and Egypt, proliferated by Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The air of political uprising spread to the United States, where Anonymous members picked up on these causes.

Anonymous and other “hacktivist” groups were responsible for over 58% of all the world’s comprised data last year, according Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. Activist groups account for stealing over 100 million records.

The researchers noticed that online hackers weren’t just acting for bragging rights or out of boredom. Hacktivists were working for more fiery publicity. “The major shift that occurred in 2011 was that activist groups added data breaches to their repertoire with much-heightened intensity and publicity,” the report states. “In other words, 2011 saw a merger between those classic misdeeds and a new ‘oh by the way, we're gonna steal all your data too’ twist.”

The annual report is conducted by Verizon, along with international police and security forces.

“The anti-Scientology protest was the first time they did it for political reasons,” says Stryker. “Since then it has grown increasingly political, especially since they integrated with the Occupy Wall Street protests.”

Anonymous has used the cartoon Guy Fawkes mask, worn by the main protagonist in 2005 movie V for Vendetta, as the main image for the movement. OWS has also adopted the icon in the pursuit of change.

Anonymous actively spread the word about the Occupy Wall Street movements, which took root in downtown Manhattan and spread to encampments of activists worldwide. “When Occupy Wall Street started, Anonymous spread the word online,” says Stryker. “It drove more members to get involved. OWS was about physical protest, and Anonymous added an activist element in tandem.”

Watch this video message, announcing Anonymous’ adoption of the Occupy Wall Street movement, then located in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011. [via AdBusters].

1. CIA Website

Hacked: CIA website, in addition to several international law enforcement accounts Date of Incident: Feb. 3, 2012 What's Known: Anonymous made Feb. 3, 2012 the "day of action" of coordinated efforts to take down several government web properties. In the CIA.gov hack, personal data from Alabama court papers -- Social Security numbers, birthdays and addresses -- were exposed. Confidential emails from a Mexican mining agency were also released. The same day, hackers forced their way into a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard, the UK's Metropolitan Police Service. The 16-minute call was posted on YouTube with the headline "Hacked for the Lulz." Arrests: British teens Ryan Cleary and Jake Davis were arrested in connection with the hacked conference call. British officials who gained possession of Cleary's hard drive described him as "a 15-year-old kid who's basically just doing this all for attention and is a bit of an idiot." Image courtesy of Flickr, 4d4mbr0wn

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Flickr, patdebaz

More About: 4chan, anonymous, hacking, Occupy Wall Street, reddit, Social Media, YouTube

NHL’s Boston Bruins Launch One Digital Network to Rule Them All

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 07:00 PM PDT

In what’s believed to be a pro sports first, the NHL’s Boston Bruins announced on Monday the launch of a media property uniting all of the team’s social, digital and mobile efforts under one umbrella.

The Boston Bruins Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) essentially functions as a portal to the team’s social presence on sites from Facebook to Pinterest, a gateway to its mobile app, and a home for video and other digital content offerings.

Amy Latimer, the Bruins’ senior vice president of marketing and sales, says the network will help the team provide accessible content for fans as well as create better opportunities for sponsors.

“Our fans are on the receiving end of great content that is accessible through all of the digital channels that they use and is distributed in a streamlined, organized fashion,” Latimer told Mashable in an email. “Our corporate partners now have the ability to reach more than 2.5 million unique Bruins fans per month while aligning their brand with compelling content in a manner that is fan friendly.”

The DEN page, an extension of the team’s home site, currently hosts a motherlode of team-related digital content. There’s an embedded Twitter feed. There are links to the Bruins’ Facebook and Tumblr, as well as a Pinterest profile run by the franchise’s mascot bear. Another link goes to the dance squad’s Facebook page, another to a fantasy challenge. Another leads to a homepage for a promotion where players take turns manning the team’s official Instagram account.

There’s also a video of a play of the week sponsored by the food company Heluva Good, just one example of how the DEN will be used to leverage the team’s business and sponsorship opportunities. A partnership with the digital research and analytics company Umbel will provide insight for content distribution and strategic partnerships.

Latimer said the team will use Umbel to track tweets from its @NHLBruins account to help guide planning and impact, as well as identify how many of its social media supporters are fans of different brands and products.

“This will help strengthen our existing partnerships but also help forge new partnerships with other brands that are taking a tactical approach to their marketing campaigns,” Latimer wrote. “We will be able to show them that many of the fans who utilize our social channels are also fans of theirs, so a partnership makes sense.”

The combination of value for fans, the team and its sponsors is something Latimer believes will make the Bruins DEN the first of many such networks in the pro sports industry.

“We believe that this initiative is an innovative new way of doing business in the digital world,” she wrote. “While just about every pro sports team has official accounts/pages on these social networks, we feel we are looking at them more strategically and rolling out initiatives that haven’t been done before. We feel it will ultimately be successful and would not be surprised to see other teams institute similar campaigns in the near future.”

Do you think it would be smart for more sports teams to adopt this approach? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

More About: Facebook, Social Media, sports, Twitter

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New Online Timeline Tool Available For Everyone

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 06:41 PM PDT

Following in the footsteps of Storify, a new free, open-source online timeline tool is innovating storytelling on the web.

Timeline, created by Zach Wise, a multimedia journalist and journalism professor, was developed in partnership with the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, where Wise teaches. The interactive tool allows users to generate timelines on the web by curating content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

“The tools that already exist on the web are almost all either hard on the eyes or hard to use,” said Wise. “Timeline is an open-source, JavaScript and HTML/HTML 5 based tool that creates elegant timelines.”

Audiences can see the “elegance” Wise is referring to with the examples the folks behind Timeline have created to illustrate its potential. A timeline on the life of Whitney Houston features several YouTube videos, for instance — an ideal form of storytelling for a performer. Another timeline on the Republican presidential campaign not only features YouTube videos, but also Flickr photos from the primaries and quotations from news articles.

With the timeline, a specific date, its description and any media (if any) associated with it fills the upper two-thirds of the browser. Meanwhile, the bottom third of the browser shows how that item fits in categorically within the larger subject of the timeline. So audiences can concentrate on one specific date and navigate to another specific date, all while still being able to see how these moments fit in within the larger timespan.

While Timeline is similar to Storify in that it allows users to aggregate media on the web, it differs in its operation. With Storify, users can drag and drop content into a post. With Timeline, users can either embed the code onto their website using JSON, or — if they don’t want to mess with any coding — they can fill in a ready-made Timeline template on Google Docs. The project is currently hosted on GitHub, and users can find specific directions on how to both embed the code and use the Google Doc template there, too.

Future plans for the project include support of more media type, as well as iPhone compatibility, B.C. time support and better seconds and milliseconds support.

What do you think of this new timeline tool? Do you think you’ll use it for any projects? Let us know in the comments.

More About: new media, open source

Ark Beats Facebook, Google at People Search

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 05:58 PM PDT

Let’s say you’re a young woman who has just moved to New York City from Nepal. You want to find a friend nearby who speaks your language, so you visit Google Search and type “Women in New York City who speak Nepali.”

Google returns an academic paper that highlights “demographics and challenges,” a flyer for a fundraiser and a profile of a tenth grader.

“She doesn't know the name of her future friends,” Ark co-founder Patrick Riley says about this frustrating search scenario. “That's how search engines have failed us for too long … People don't necessarily know the name of what they're looking for. They just know these qualities of people.”

Ark reconstructs search to make it effective for finding people. Instead of searching for a key term, users can filter through qualities such as gender, employers, current city, hometown, relationship status, college and interests.

The startup indexes publicly available information from social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, China-based Renren and European social network VK to deliver results. Although users can privately save the profiles Ark returns as results to their accounts, they must contact the people they find through the search engine using other channels. It’s trying to be a search engine, not a social network.

Riley says one of its most frequent beta users is indeed a young woman who moved from Nepal to New York City. She can search for people from her hometown that now live nearby — currently, there’s no way to do that through Google.

Ark also enables queries within your existing social media connections under a separate tab (you can find, for instance, friends who have birthdays next month).

By searching both within and outside of your pre-existing social graph, one search engine will locate friends who live in the city you’re visiting, old classmates you aren’t necessarily connected to on social media, people who work for the company you’re hiring at or that girl you met at a party last night.

Facebook once had a similar function for discovering people within your school with specific qualities, but it was long ago removed. Ark picks up where the world’s biggest social network left off and adds public social data from across the Internet in the process.

It’s one of the only products outside of dating sites that leverages social data to make connections without confining users to their online social graphs.

“We're so into our social graph,” Riley says, “This need for randomness, this need for meeting new people has to go through something like GrubWithUs … [our question was] can we actually reconnect parts of society outside of the social graph?”

Eventually, Ark’s founders — both former graduate students who studied search at UC Berkeley — hope to offer a premium feature that gives users the option to show up toward the top of certain search queries. Riley describes the vision as “Google AdWords for people,” a metaphor that underscores how specific Ark searches can be.

“People want to power-search for people,” he says. “People are ready for that.”

Are you? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Ark, Facebook, people search

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‘Bully’ Movie to Be Released Without Rating Following Online Petition

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 05:11 PM PDT

katy butler 600

Bully, a new documentary premiering Friday, will be released with no rating, following a failed effort to have the MPAA rating changed from R to PG-13.

The movie’s rating attracted national attention, thanks to a Change.org petition started by 17-year-old Katy Butler. The petition “MPAA: Don't let the bullies win! Give 'Bully' a PG-13 instead of an R rating!” has almost achieved its goal of gaining half a million signatures.

According to the L.A. Times, The Weinstein Company made the decision to ensure teens under 17 would not be restricted from seeing the film. The initial R rating initially meant the film would find difficulty being screened in U.S. high schools or middle schools.

Teenagers don’t want to go to the movies with their parents, Butler told Mashable during the New York City leg of her trip around the country promoting her petition.

Butler was a bullying victim in her Michigan middle school, where her classmates jammed her hand in a locker because she was a lesbian. Butler says that while her parents knew she was unhappy, they had absolutely no idea how her middle school peers were treating her.

During her month-long trip around the country to promote her Change.org petition, Butler hand delivered more than 200,000 signatures to the MPAA, demanding they change the rating.

The film’s no rating status will prevent it from being screened in certain theaters, which is a risk The Weinstein Co. decided to take. Still, screenings of the film are already planned for AMC Lincoln Square in New York City, and ArcLight Hollywood and AMC Century City in Los Angeles.

The Weinstein Company, the studio distributing Bully, started its own campaign to get the MPAA to change the “R” rating against the film in February. The film board in Canada issued the film a “PG” rating.

Lee Hirsch, the film’s director, stood by his decision to include curse words in the film, which caused its R rating.

“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real. It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days,” Hirsch said in a statement. “All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theaters to let them in.”

Do you think The Weinstein Company made the right decision? Sound off in the comments.

Image of Katy Butler courtesy of Change.org

More About: bully, change.org, movie ratings, mpaa, online activism, the weinstein, trending

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Facebook App Lets You Add Enemies Online

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 04:41 PM PDT

Forget friending. A new Facebook app allows users of the social network to identify and share people, places and things as “enemies” for all to see.

The app, called EnemyGraph, lets you list anything with a Facebook presence — ranging from “friends,” to foods, to products, movies or books — as an enemy. Since the app launched March 15, it’s seemed to appeal especially to users with a liberal bent. Some of its most-selected nemeses so far include Rick Santorum, Westboro Baptist Church and Fox News.

The app was developed by a professor and two students at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dean Terry, who directs the school’s emerging media program, helped conceptualize the project, while graduate student Bradley Griffith and undergraduate Harrison Massey built the app. Griffith said EnemyGraph has so far accumulated some 400 users. But more importantly, its creators say, press coverage has helped meet the team’s goal of sparking a larger conversation about the nature of social media and Facebook in particular.

“One thing that has always struck me is the enforced niceness culture,” Terry told Mashable. “We wanted to give people a chance to express dissonance as well. We’re using the word enemy about as accurately as Facebook uses the word friend.”

But the app has utility beyond simply sparking a philosophical debate, Terry adds. Researchers and marketers have long gathered information on social media users based on what they support, but at the expense of possibly overlooking another valuable data source.

“You can actually learn a lot about people by what they’re upset about and what they don’t like,” Terry says. “And the second thing is that if you and I both don’t like something, that actually creates a social bond that hasn’t been explored in social media at all, except with Kony and some big examples like that.”

Terry and Griffith teamed up last year to create Undetweetable, a service allowing Twitter users’ deleted tweets to be uncovered posthumously. That project gained some attention as well but Twitter quickly forced it to shut down. Terry wouldn’t be surprised if EnemyGraph meets a similar fate from Facebook.

“My guess is it goes against their social philosophy and purpose,” he says. “It is a critique of their social philosophy for sure.”

Do you like the EnemyGraph idea? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, trending

Your Profile Pic Has Nothing on These Guys [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 04:19 PM PDT

Bored with friends’ Facebook albums that are filled with landscapes and sunsets from their vacation? This video is the answer to all of your problems.

Two adventure-seekers were inspired by the opening credits for the TV show Modern Family and a series of old HP commercials. The duo, Ben Boutwell and Steven Worster, used a photo frame and clever editing to create this similarly styled video around various locations in Hawaii.

More About: trending, videos, viral, YouTube

Can Voice Recognition Tech Crack the Trayvon Martin Case?

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 04:05 PM PDT


The shooting of Trayvon Martin has ignited passionate responses everywhere, but the only person who knows what really happened the night of the shooting is Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, and he may be lying. However, there’s one piece of evidence that could be integral in proving Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence: recordings of 911 calls placed by a people living close to where the shooting took place.

You can listen to one of the calls below. While the woman who made the call speaks with the dispatcher, someone can be heard screaming in the background, which abruptly stops after a shot is heard. Martin’s family says the screams are Martin pleading for help. Zimmerman says it’s him.

Voice-recognition technology could play a key part in finding out whether or not Zimmerman is telling the truth.

“I believe voice identification can be a very beneficial tool that, when used properly, can verify truth behind who said what when,” says Ed Primeau, voice-identification expert who has more than 25 years experience with forensic voice analysis.

Primeau isn’t involved in the Martin investigation, but he says that, ideally, an ID is made against a recording of someone speaking normally for a few minutes. Analyzing a recording like the 911 call — where the voice in question isn’t speaking in normal tones, and is in the background — is something Primeau describes as “emergency voice identification.”

“This case is a little bit different because we’ve got someone screaming in the background and the phone is picking up what it can,” he says. “It’s going to be a little more difficult to come up with scientific conclusions, but it’s possible. This is an exact science.”

SEE ALSO: Social Media and Trayvon Martin: Why Did It Take So Long to Care?

If Primeau were to perform the analysis, he says he’d take recordings of Zimmerman’s voice speaking in similar tones at various distances — 10, 20 and 30 feet — and capturing them on a similar device as the caller’s phone, essentially trying to recreate the conditions of the original call.

“Let’s get a sample of Zimmerman’s voice. Let’s get him in the backyard yelling with a transcript of what was said. Let’s record that and compare it to the 911 call.”

Primeau says recordings of Martin’s voice would help, too. Even though Martin is no longer alive to provide samples of his voice, Primeau says there are techniques he could apply — for example, looking for a person’s unique vocal “habits,” the way they pronounce certain syllables — that might aid in the analysis.

“If there’s video of Trayvon, and he’s speaking on camera, it would be very helpful. That is definitely the way to go — to get a sample of Zimmerman’s voice, get some video footage of Trayvon and then this 911 call — and come up with a conclusion.”

Although a voice analysis of the 911 call would be an extremely helpful tool for investigators, Primeau emphasizes it still needs to be considered in the context of all of the evidence.

“What you do in a criminal matter like this is you take a voice-identification expert’s opinion and you add that to the other clues in the case. You don’t have the voice-ID guy be the only person who’s giving you an opinion of what happened.”

How big a role do you think voiceprint analysis will play in solving the Trayvon Martin case? Share your thoughts in the comments.

911 Call in Trayvon Martin Case:

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Viktorus

Black SMS Lets You Send Secret Messages on Your iPhone [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 03:51 PM PDT

A new iPhone app, Black SMS, attempts to keep your private SMS conversations undercover, by literally covering them in a black shroud until you’re ready to read them.

Everyone has their secrets. Whether you’re trying to plan a surprise birthday party for a friend or a rendezvous with your secret lover, sending or receiving a text message can sometimes make a conversation public that you wish had stayed private.

The $.99 app sends what appears to be blacked-out messages using Apple’s iMessage. When you receive a black SMS you then copy the message from your Messages folder, and then paste it into the Black SMS app to reveal what it actually says.

Much like the invisible ink of the past, reading a message will also require a decoder in the form of a password, so if someone gets ahold of your phone and figures out the Black SMS message app, he or she still will need to know the password in order to read the secret tweets.

Check out the video above to see how the app works.

While the app could certainly come in handy for situations where you want to keep conversations under wraps, it is also likely to draw attention to the fact you’re having secret conversations in the first place. An inquisitive friend (or girlfriend) is probably likely to question why you’re getting blacked out messages, potentially drawing more attention to the messages than they might have received already.

Let us know your thoughts on the app in the comments.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of iStockphoto, leminuit

More About: App, iphone, SMS

Iraqi Woman’s Death Sparks Online Movement

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 03:41 PM PDT

With national attention on the Trayvon Martin case, another racially-charged case is moving into the spotlight. Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi immigrant and mother of five, died on Saturday near San Diego. Her death comes three days after her daughter found her severely beaten on Wednesday in her home of El Cajon, Calif., next to a note saying “go back to your country.”

Immediately after the AP reported her death, the story became the #1 worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Users quickly compared #RIPShaima and the hijab she was wearing — a mark of her Muslim faith — to the #RIPTrayvon hashtag and the hoodie he was wearing when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman. Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera had claimed that Martin’s hoodie was the cause of his death, a comment which sparked an online wave of hoodie-wearing in protest.

In the same way that the hoodie has become emblematic of support for Trayvon Martin, the Facebook page “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi” has become an online destination for advocates of Alawadi. On the Facebook page, users are sharing photos of themselves wearing a headscarf, posting articles and videos relevant to the case and planning community events to raise awareness. A status update posted on Sunday, along with a photo of Alawadi, states the reason for the cause and urges citizens to take a stand:

This is #ShaimaAlwadi. Now look at her smile. She could be your daughter, your sister, your friend. We cannot let the children in this country grow up in a world so full of hatred that a woman wearing a head scarf is afraid for her life, that a black kid wearing a hoodie is afraid for his life, a world where the victim of sexual violence gets the blame for the actions of the perpetrator because of what she was wearing. Enough. The color of your skin, your gender or your outfit cannot be used an excuse or an invitation for violence. We are all Shaima. We need a Million Hijab March.

Though Shaima Alawadi’s case was quick to gain worldwide traction upon her death, it took weeks for Trayvon Martin’s case to receive national attention. As both the New York Times and On the Media reported, the diversity — or lack thereof — in newsrooms may have something to do with this. Most of the notable media figures who first reported on Trayvon Martin’s case and pushed for further investigation are black men. Likewise, looking at the Twitter stream of #RIPShaima, many of the top tweets about her death are coming from those who identify with her or have close ties to the Arab world:

Though the threatening note left near Alawadi at the time of her beating indicates a potential hate crime — and citizens so far are reacting to it as such — police have not made any official statements on the cause of her death. “A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that,” Lt. Mark Coit of the El Cajon police said in the AP report. “We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”

Similarly, though Trayvon Martin’s case has sparked discussions online and offline about racism, authorities are still investigating his killing. As of yet, law enforcement has not ruled Martin’s case as a hate crime.

What do you think of the online response to Shaima Alawadi’s death? Would her death have gotten much attention if Trayvon Martin’s case hadn’t erupted before hers? Will it get more attention? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Photo courtesy of the “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi” Facebook page

More About: journalism, online activism, racism

How to Make Images Stand Out on Pinterest [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 03:33 PM PDT

New Pinterest Terms

Do you want your Pinterest images to stand out and get repinned? With more than 12 million users posting pictures to the image-based social network, it’s important to make sure images grab the attention of fellow Pinterest users. A properly optimized pin can make all the difference between 50 repins or no repins.

This infographic from Pinnable Business gives you information to optimize every pin you post — it includes best practices for sizing, linking, sharing and repinning.

Give these tips a try and let us know if they make a difference on your Pinterest boards.

Infographic courtesy of Pinnable Business.

More About: infographic, Photos, pinterest

Google I/O 2012 Registration Announced

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 03:22 PM PDT

Every year developers from all around the world gather for the Google IO conference. Google has announced it’s celebrating by releasing a Rube Goldberg-inspired Chrome Experiment.

This is Google's fifth IO conference. It will be held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center June 27-29. At the event attendees learn about the tech world's latest web, mobile and social innovations, as well as get a chance to meet the minds behind Google products, like Android, Chrome and Google+.

Google has announced that registration for this event opens tomorrow, March 27 at 7 a.m. PDT. Registration costs $900 or $300, whether you're a general attendee or an academic. Last year's event was so popular that tickets sold out in 59 minutes.

The Input/Output Chrome Experiment uses HTML 5, which allows you to create a “machine” that transports a small particle from one side of the screen to the other. The application gives you a toolbox of various levers and gadgets to customize your Chrome Experiment. Various developers have created their own machines, which they posted on Google+ today. Google even says your machine could be featured at the Google I/O conference.

The Mashable team created its own Chrome Experiment as seen below (click on the image to see the Chrome Experiment in action).

We also collected some of our favorite Google-inspired Chrome Experiments. What cool designs have you created? Post a link to your design in the comments below.

Input/Output 1

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: chrome, Google, google io, Google io 2012, HTML5, Tech

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Make a Flashy HTML5 Website Without Coding or Plug-Ins

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 03:14 PM PDT

Wix.com HTML5 Template

Feast your eyes on the future of the Internet — beautiful websites built with HTML5. The newest version of HTML effectively catapults words and graphics into another dimension without plug-ins or the annoying lag time. Wix.com is making sure everyone — not just developers and fancy web designers — can get in on the action.

HTML5 is the updated version of the online code used to build websites. The newer version of this code allows websites to integrate multimedia — videos, pictures, graphics and words (that not stagnate) — into its mainframe. CSS3 is the markup language that programmers can lay on top of the HTML to make websites even more visually appealing (think: accessories to make websites extra fancy).

Recent examples of the magic of HTML5 include two interactive music experiences. Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown and OK Go x Pilobulos’ All Is Not Lost. Both were built with the Google Chrome team to showcase the advanced web technologies allowing people to see a new virtual world.

Wix.com says there’s no need to be a world-class web designer to use HTML5. The company unveiled a free HTML5 website builder with plenty of easy-to-use templates on Monday. The six-year-old company already has over 20 million free and premium users building flash websites using the myriad of DIY templates.

“With the HTML5 launch Wix users will have an even greater freedom to create ultra-modern and user-friendly websites that best cater to their needs,” Omer Shai, VP of marketing at Wix, told Mashable.

SEE ALSO: 4 Tips to Keep Your Website Ahead of the Curve in 2012

Wix built the new series of templates for people with small businesses, designers, photographers and corporations that want to take their web presence to the next level. There’s absolutely no need for code. Individuals can simply drag and drop different website features and type in words where needed.

HTML5 features will optimize integrating video, open up font/typography options, make galleries more optimal for viewing and introduce an element of interactivity. Best of all, HTML5-based websites are supposed by most new devices.

This all means the web experience will be faster, cleaner and make galleries and videos more fluid. Social media and search optimization are also improved features of these new templates.

“HTML5 provides new technological capabilities and solutions for products that don't support Flash,” Shai said. “The majority of browsers support HTML5 now and it’s market share is growing very quickly, the popularity of mobile web browsing is on a constant rise and HTML5 is compatible across the web.”

Wix.com HTML5 editor pages

With Wix’s HTML5 builder individuals can build small business web pages (see here) and personal portfolios (like this one).

Have you considered exploring HTML5 options for your business or personal portfolio? Tell us in the comment what you think about these new templates.

More About: Business, HTML5, software, web design

This New App Essay Requires Your Attention To Read

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 02:45 PM PDT

The internet is a pretty interesting place, but as we become more and more absorbed in it, it’s also a place that can change how we interact with others, and how much attention we give the world around us.

A new app by writer Robin Sloan attempts to — in a way — break through our now limited attention spans, by requiring your focused attention to get its message.

"I’m a huge fan of the web — I basically live in my browser, with 26 tabs open at any given time — but I’ve become more and more conscious of the price we’re paying in terms of attention and focus." Sloan told Mashable. "So I wanted to write about that, and also make something that ‘fought back’ against those pressures and sort of insisted on a certain kind of attention."

Called Fish, Sloan’s app is an interactive essay that require you to tap the screen to read through it. Sloan worked out some of the basic ideas for the essay in a text editor, but then created the app and the essay side-by-side. Each page of the app essay contains just a sentence or a few words, and tapping on the screen advances you along.

"Everything we experience on the web, we experience inside a tab, inside a browser, on a laptop screen, surrounded by a dozen other things. So what happens? You flit from Facebook to Twitter, you click a lot of links, they all line up next to each other, you give up on a few and get absorbed in some others…ad infinitum," says Sloan. "Slowly you close the tabs you’re done with and the ones you know you’ll never get to, and you never go back. All in all, I don’t think that’s a very fulfilling way to read or watch anything, especially considering the caliber of stuff that’s out there available to us today."

The entire essay takes about 15 minutes to read in total, the equivalent of a short commute or lunch break, and like its construction deals with how we look at things and declare “like” or “love” on the web.

Various pages in the app have a built-in tweet button where you can share particularly memorable lines from the essay with friends on Twitter. On the last page of the essay, Sloan also gives readers the opportunity to contact him directly on Twitter with thoughts on the essay. "In those tweets, people tend to say ‘thanks,’ and to say that they’ve been feeling some of the same things themselves. It’s nice to get that sense of shared recognition—for reader and writer alike," says Sloan. “Text is, it turns out, still a pretty powerful technology.”

More About: App, iphone, Twitter

9 Free Tumblr Themes That Look Like Pinterest

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 02:16 PM PDT

1. Quadro

From the font to the layout, the Quadro theme is a close tie with the Pinterest pinboard.

Click here to view this gallery.

There are so many content curation sites available these days, it can be difficult to maintain a strong presence across each platform.

You may have already invested a lot of time and energy over the years into your Tumblr account. But if you’ve also been diagnosed with “pinsanity,” you’re in luck — a number of Tumblr themes can transform your site a veritable Pinterest pinboard.

SEE ALSO: 10 Premium Tumblr Themes Worth Paying For

We’ve rounded up nine free Tumblr themes that will hopefully fill the Pinterest void in your heart. Let us know your favorite in the comments.

More About: design, features, pinterest, Social Media, tumblr

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Did Apple Tell the New iPad’s Battery Meter to Lie on Purpose?

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 02:02 PM PDT


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

The new iPad is a huge hit for Apple, to the tune of 3 million devices sold in the first weekend alone. And it’s no wonder — the device is a big upgrade from previous models, quadrupling the resolution of the tablet’s screen to an ultra-sharp “retina” display. However, the new model has brought with it a spate of minor issues, one of which is slowly rising to the status of “scandal.”

First there was the trouble with older smart covers not working properly on the new iPad. Then came news that the iPad gets much hotter than previous models, possibly uncomfortably so. Both issues were more or less dismissed as minor inconveniences, with the heat problem questionable from the get-go.

However, there’s yet another complication: the iPad’s battery meter is inaccurate. After a display expert discovered the iPad continues to charge the battery even after the screen says it’s at 100%. Further testing showed that the misleading indicator could cost users as much as 1.2 hours of run time.

This problem is different from its predecessors because it’s so clear-cut. Whereas another Apple gadget fracas — the iPhone 4 “antennagate” affair — was difficult to quantify in terms of actual lost calls, in this case the cost is right there in black and white: Your iPad gets an hour less run time if you unplug as soon as the meter hits full. Apple so far hasn’t made any statement on the matter, but it should, because there may be a very good reason the battery meter on the iPad is a fibber.

The lithium-ion batteries that are used in almost every piece of electronics today have a limited lifespan. Even if you don’t ever use it, if you put a battery on a shelf somewhere and try to charge it up a few years later, it won’t work. The battery will be permanently dead.

Most of us experience this with our cellphones. If you own a phone for more than a year (and most people do), you’ve probably noticed that its battery doesn’t quite have the same all-day oomph that it used to. A number of factors can accelerate battery degradation, one of them being how often it’s kept fully charged. The table below from Battery University shows how much faster fully charged batteries degrade at various temperatures.


“It’s actually better not to charge the battery fully,” says Isidor Buchmann, CEO of Cadex Electronics, a manufacturer of battery testing equipment. “If you never fully charged your iPad, the run time would be a little bit less, but you’ll keep the battery longer.”

As the table also shows, another big factor that can cut down the lifetime of a battery is heat. If you keep a gadget fully charged in a hot environment, its battery will most likely live fast and die hard. Now, some studies have demonstrated that the new iPad runs noticeably hotter than the previous model, even if it’s not uncomfortably warm.

“The worst combination is fully charged at elevated temperature,” says Buchmann. “It’s almost like food. It spoils more quickly at elevated temperature. A full charge promotes more corrosion.”

SEE ALSO: New iPad Teardown: 'It's Really Just a Giant Battery'

After discovering the extra heat and knowing how charge can affect battery lifespan, it’s possible that Apple purposefully designed its battery meter to tell a little white lie about its charge in the interest of extending the lifetime of the tablet. After all, it still technically gives 10 hours of use at 90%, and it’s the rare user that really needs that full 10-hour lifetime outside of a long flight.

However, Buchmann doesn’t think Apple told the iPad battery to lie. He believes Apple just did its best in creating the iPad’s battery meter, but simply got the measurement wrong since the techniques involved are notoriously inaccurate.

“How do you measure a battery’s state of charge?” he asks. “Anyone knowledgeable about batteries knows there is no way. It’s just a very rough estimate. If Apple could do it better, they would.”

I’m not sure if I share Buchmann’s theory, however. After all, if an independent researcher can figure out if the iPad is still charging past 100% with relatively simple tests, certainly the most valuable company in the world could do the same.

Still, whether is was by design or just a random quirk, the truth-challenged battery indicator on the new iPad could end up being a blessing for users who hope to keep using their tablets until 2015 and beyond. If it is random, though, then expect an update soon — a battery that inadvertently encourages responsible use would deal a blow to something Apple and every other electronics manufacturer continually relies on: planned obsolescence.

What’s your take on the iPad battery controversy? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alengo

More About: apple, battery, ipad, Lithium Ion, tablets

Madonna Taps Startup Fab.com to Sell Deluxe ‘MDNA’ Album for $7.99

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 01:16 PM PDT

Madonna’s web-only promotional push for her 12th studio album, MDNA, isn’t confined only to the social media big guns Facebook and Twitter. The pop megastar’s first album since 2008 came out Monday, and she’s turned to design-focused daily deals site Fab.com to offer a deluxe edition of MDNA to U.S. members for $7.99.

Bypassing traditional press and photo shoots often associated with major album releases, Madonna told late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon during an exclusive live Facebook chat Saturday that she “thought it’d be best to talk to my fans versus journalists.” She’ll also tweet Monday night to answer fans’ questions.

"I thought it’d be best to talk to my fans versus journalists.”

The majorly discounted deluxe MDNA — 47% off the retailed $14.99 — features 17 tracks, including the 53-year-old artist’s favorite new track, “Gang Bang.” Nicki Minaj, M.I.A and LMFAO guest star on the album.

The deluxe MDNA is also available on iTunes for $14.99, Amazon for $15.99 and Spotify to stream for free.

The Madonna deal is a big grab for 1-year-old Fab, which changed from a social network and deals engine targeted at gay men into a more all-encompassing ecommerce portal for all things design.

Most recently, the 3 million member site raised $40 million in funding in December, and acquired retail startup FashionStake in January.

SEE ALSO: Norah Jones Premieres 'Travelin' On' on Gilt's Travel Website

“At Fab, we strive to offer our members unique access to great designers and artists, both emerging and iconic,” says Fab CEO Jason Goldberg. “We’re thrilled and humbled to now include Madonna among them.”

Madonna announced MDNA this January and performed the album’s lead single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. at the Super Bowl in last month. The halftime performance sparked an impressive amount of chatter attracting an average of 8,000 tweets per second during a five-minute span. At one point, viewers sent 10,245 TPS, pushing her into the number three spot on Twitter’s most-tweets-per-second list.

Fab’s MDNA deal ends April 1.

BONUS: 20 Inspiring Facebook Page Cover Photos, Including Madonna’s

Madonna’s Facebook brand page (see slide six) was one of the first pages to covert to the new Timeline layout when the world’s largest social network made the functionality available in late February. The page’s first cover photo pimped MDNA.

1. Red Bull

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: celebrities, daily deals, Entertainment, Fab.com, fashion, madonna, MDNA, Music

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6 Must-Have Apps for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 01:00 PM PDT

1. Draw Something

If the drawings on OMGPOP's message boards are any indication, the secret to Draw Something's success is a big screen and a stylus. But since an iPad won't fit in your pocket, the Note's 5.3-inch screen and the S Pen stylus are great substitutes. Even if you're no da Vinci, your drawings will still probably be better than your friends' finger paintings. SEE ALSO: Draw Something: 20 Amazing Smartphone Sketches

Click here to view this gallery.

The Samsung Galaxy Note is one of the most polarizing smartphones on the market today. Some say the big 5.3-inch screen is too bulky, while others like the fact they don't have to squint to read their email anymore. Critics think the S Pen stylus is a misguided throwback to PDAs, but fans tout the tool's precision and functionality.

If you're already a convert, or if you need a little more convincing, here are six apps that no Note user should be without.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, blogeee.net

More About: apps, Draw something, features, Mobile, samsung, Samsung Galaxy Note, tablets

Obama’s March Madness Bracket Is Probably Better Than Yours

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 12:41 PM PDT

Did two weekends of upsets, injuries and overall madness blow your NCAA Tournament picks to smithereens? It’s OK; you’re not alone in the world of social bracket contests.

Just 0.35% of more than 5 million March Madness brackets filled out on CBSSports.com correctly guessed the Final Four of Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State. Of ESPN.com’s nearly 6.5 million entries, just 0.4% had it right.

President Obama seems to have got it right though. His bracket is doing quite well: He’s in the 96th percentile of ESPN.com’s contest behind a half-correct projected Final Four. Like nearly a fifth of the ESPN.com entries, however, Barry O’Bomber had the Tar Heels winning it all, so his ranking will take a hit next weekend. You track Obama’s bracket here, and ESPN.com’s overall leaders here.

SEE ALSO: 10 March Madness Brackets That Have Nothing to Do With Basketball

Kentucky, the only number one seed to make the Final Four, is also dominating the March Madness social buzz, scoring 100 out of 100 possible points on Mashable’s mRank leaderboard. The Wildcats are also an extremely popular pick online to take home the national title. In the CBSSports.com challenge, 58% of total brackets pick the them to win the championship, and 79% had them in the Final Four.

Despite a rash of first round upsets — including Duke, rated as the tournament’s most exciting team, losing its first game to a 15 seed — this year’s Final Four doesn’t include any huge underdogs like the last two did. And that shows in the numbers.

While only 0.4% of ESPN.com’s 6.45 million entries got the Final Four right, that still comes out to more than 25,000 brackets. The total number last year, when Virginia Commonwealth came from nowhere to crash the party: 2 of 5.9 million.

How’s your bracket looking? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

More About: barack obama, march madness, sports

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‘Life of George’ Is an iPhone Game That Uses Real Legos [PICS]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 12:24 PM PDT

You’ve probably played a game on an iPhone and you’ve probably built something using Legos. But have you done both simultaneously? Lego has expanded into the world of mobile gaming with its game Life of George, that has you build Lego structures using real-world blocks.

The game is the first fully-integrated digital-to-physical game from Lego, and follows the exploits of George, "a software developer by day and adventurer by night" through his travels to places like Hawaii and New York. In each location, George takes some snapshots of things you find there and fills up his virtual scrapbook.

Game play involves you building the things George wants pictures of, and then taking pictures of your creations with your iPhone or iPod touch. Each thing you build is timed, and you’re assigned a score for your creation based on accuracy and speed.

The game was released in October, and recently walked away with an award at SXSWi in the Amusement category, and made its way to our San Francisco Mashable office for a test drive.

How it works

Tapping on a blank square in George’s scrapbook brings up an object for you to build. Once you’re shown the object, a timer starts counting down how long you have to finish building the palm tree, taxi cab, or hulu girl.

Things you build are placed on a special mat once you’re done. The mat works as a green screen of sorts, with dots and color so that the app knows you’ve created the right object with the right blocks. The game scores you based on the amount of time you spend building as well as the accuracy of your creation.

Harder than it looks

At first glance, you may think Life of George is a game for children, but the game is actually designed for players aged 14 and up. While nothing you build in the game is terribly complex, when you add in the timed element into the game play building some of George’s requests can be pretty challenging.

The game has both a novice and an expert mode. We were able to build everything within the allotted time, but were never fast enough to earn more than three stars for any of our creations. With a little practice we could probably up our star score, but getting a five star rating would definitely be a challenge.

Lego's Life of George comes with 144 Lego blocks, a mat, and a George sticker.

Click here to view this gallery.

The block and board portion of Life of George is available now from Lego stores and online for $29.99, and the accompanying app is available for free for the iPhone and iPod touch. You can also follow George’s exploits and get hints on upcoming game additions on his Facebook page.

What do you think about a mobile game that also has real-world elements? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: App, iphone, Lego, trending

Mashable Connect Is More Than a Conference

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 12:05 PM PDT

Mashable's largest conference 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.

Why attend Mashable Connect? The real value in attending our signature conference is more than just content sessions. Here’s what you get when you purchase a ticket.

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

  • Unique and creative networking opportunities with digital leaders. Networking activities at Mashable Connect go beyond your typical wine and cheese reception. We offer our attendees a one-of-a-kind experience not found at any other conference. Last year, this included a scavenger hunt with attendees, a private viewing of spectacular firework displays and behind-the-scenes access to one of the most popular and thrilling rides in Orlando. This year will be filled with surprises.
  • Compelling content sessions with top level speakers. An array of digital leaders will be speaking on topics ranging from new digital business models, mobile networking, digital campaigning and social TV.
  • Connecting with Mashable editorial, community and business teams. The Mashable team will be in full force at Connect, interacting with attendees throughout all aspects of the conference. We're just as excited as you to be in Walt Disney World.
  • Opportunity to gain new perspective away from the traditional conference setting. We are hosting Mashable Connect at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World because we wanted a setting where people could spend time together away from the distractions of day-to-day schedules and meetings. This is the perfect location for people to come together and share ideas, in a unique, novel and seasonally warm setting.
  • Exclusive access to pre-event and post-event online networking. When you attend Mashable Connect, you are invited to join our exclusive Mashable Connect Facebook group, which includes members from last year’s and this year’s conference. This is a great opportunity to form lasting relationships with digital leaders.
  • Three-night stay at the iconic Contemporary Resort with gourmet meals and refreshments. Disney's Contemporary Resort is a deluxe, modern resort that combines stylish designs with the latest in comfort. The Contemporary Resort includes a marina, pools, restaurants, recreational facilities, a health club and tennis courts.

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.

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Supporting Sponsors

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 sponsorships@mashable.com for opportunities.

More About: digital, event, Marketing, mashable connect, networking, Social Media

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Aussie Police Declare War on Unprotected Wi-Fi Networks [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 11:52 AM PDT

An open Wi-Fi network is a gold mine for criminals. They can steal your identity by accessing personal data or commit crimes using open Internet connections, leaving no trace. The Australia’s War Driving Project aims to secure these weak links in Queensland’s capital city.

Australian authorities know open Wi-Fi networks allow perpetrators to thrive. So, they are taking matters into their own hands and warning people about the dangers of vulnerable connections. The police are cruising Brisbane neighborhoods with laptops to see if they can connect to the Internet using the signals from nearby homes.

After these networks are identified, the officials mail information to the home owners directions to protect their Wi-Fi connections. WPA2 or Wi-Fi protected access encryption are the best ways to secure the network. The police return to the neighborhoods to make sure households and businesses have secured their Wi-Fi at a later date.

"Having WEP encryption is like using a closed screen door as your sole means of security at home. The WPA or WPA2 security encryption is certainly what we would recommend as it offers a high degree of protection," Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said on the Queensland Police Service website.

SEE ALSO: Australian Police Save Residents From Their Unsecure WiFi Networks

The project launched last week to raise awareness of National Consumer Fraud Week. Organizers of the week-long campaign strive to make consumers more aware about the dangers of identify theft, scams and fraud.

Australia’s War Driving Project initially kicked off in 2009. Police hope to especially stop criminals who geo-tag open networks and sell the Wi-Fi networks to other criminals.

How do you protect your Wi-Fi network? Sound off in the comments.

More About: online security, Video, wi-fi

Despite Bing’s Rise, Google Still Dominates Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 11:24 AM PDT

The tussle for U.S. search dominance over the last few years has been interesting. Google has eaten Yahoo’s lunch for the better part of a decade, but Microsoft’s Bing engine, released in 2009, has crept steadily upward. While it serves nowhere near the volume Google does, it’s interesting to see their parallel trajectories while competitors trend downward.

Our friends at Statista have compiled search data from 2008 to the present, and tell the story of search query explosion and yearly trends. Is it possible Google could be overtaken in the foreseeable future? Or is its dominance immutable for now?

Graphic courtesy of Statista.com.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, serts

More About: bing, Google, infographics, Search, Yahoo

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Become Mashable’s US and World Editor

Posted: 26 Mar 2012 11:09 AM PDT

Career Board

Up to date on politics and national and world events? Mashable is seeking a full-time, hard-charging editor to lead our US and World coverage out of our New York headquarters.

Our US and World Editor will plan, manage and edit a wide variety of coverage — all through the prism of digital. The world is changing fast and digital is riding sidecar on virtually every seismic shift. We’re looking for speed, quality and a steady flow of awesome content and ideas that will turn our US and World coverage into highly-shareable, must-read content.

See the full position here.

Working at Mashable

We are a team of driven and passionate people who care deeply about the work we do. Mashable is a unique and open culture where innovation and collaboration thrives. Every day is an opportunity to spread knowledge, find solutions, and take risks — not to mention have fun, laugh, and pet a team member's dog.

We are proud to be part of the connected generation, and we always have an eye on what's next.

Sound exciting? Mashable is looking for smart, driven and energetic new team members. Check out our jobs page for our most recent listings.

Mashable Meetings

Meetings at Mashable are rarely boring.

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Image courtesy of iStockphoto, fotosipsak.

More About: jobs, mashable

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