Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: LG’s Flexible Display, Apple TV Rumors”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: LG’s Flexible Display, Apple TV Rumors”

Today’s Top Stories: LG’s Flexible Display, Apple TV Rumors

Posted: 29 Mar 2012 04:55 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.

LG Begins Mass Production of Flexible E-Paper Display

LG has started mass production of a 6-inch, 1024×768 e-ink plastic screen. The screen is extremely thin and flexible, as well as resistant to scratches and drops from a 1.5 meter. It will hit the European market in the beginning of April.

Apple TV Isn’t Coming Until 2013 [RUMOR]

Apple will not launch an Apple TV set until 2013, Asian research group CLSA claims. According to CLSA, Apple TV is in the works, with Sharp being the supplier for the panels, but they consider it to be a “2013 event.”

Next PlayStation Will Be Called Orbis [RUMOR]

The next generation of Sony’s PlayStation console will be called Orbis, Kotaku has learned from sources familiar with the matter. The name might be the final version, but it also might only be a working title or a codename. The release is planned for 2013 holiday season, with the specs supposedly including and AMD x64 CPU and an AMD Southern Islands GPU.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

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LG’s Flexible E-Paper Display Is Coming to Europe in April

Posted: 29 Mar 2012 01:59 AM PDT

LG flexible e-paper

LG has announced it has started mass production of its electronic paper display (EPD) product, with a planned launch in Europe next month.

LG’s EPD is a 6-inch, 1024×768 e-ink plastic screen. It’s 0.7mm thick, it weighs 14g, and LG claims it’s resistant to scratches and drops from a 1.5 meter height.

Of course, its biggest claim to fame is its flexibility: LG claims the screen allows bending at a range of 40 degrees from its center.

“With the world’s first plastic EPD, LG Display has once again proven its reputation for leadership and innovation with a product we believe will help greatly popularize the E-Book market,” said Sang Duck Yeo, Head of Operations for LG Display’s Mobile/OLED division.

There is no word on a US release, but LG says the EPD will first be supplied to ODM companies in China, with completed products hitting European shores at the beginning of April.

More About: e-paper, LG, trending

Activist Group Says Apple Hired Auditors As PR Move [REPORT]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 09:25 PM PDT

Activist group SumOfUs is preemptively contesting the validity of an audit by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), saying Apple’s hiring of the organization is simply a public relations front.

Expect the audit, which will be released this week, to be critical of the factories, but as far as making impactful changes, SumOfUs said it’s doubtful Apple will follow through.

“A critical report from the FLA will not, in and of itself, constitute proof that a new day is dawning in Apple's supply chain,” SumOfUs said in a memo to journalists. “It will only be proof that the FLA and Apple are smart enough to understand that no one, at this point, is going to be fooled by a whitewash.”

The organization said Apple’s promises to make changes to its factories and working conditions are simply a ploy to bolster the company’s image in the eyes of the public. The memo SumOfUs sent compares two statements Apple made about its commitment to change factory conditions. The first statement was made in 2006 and the second just earlier this year. Both address the company’s commitment to fight back against employees working more than 60 hours per week and tout the fact it hired an external company to screen factories for workplace violations.

Neither Apple or the Fair Labor Association has responded to our request for comment, and we’ll update this story if they do.

The FLA was already criticized for issuing a glowing review of Apple factories after spending just one day with plant managers. Apple voluntarily hired the FLA to conducted audits of its factories after widespread reports of unfair and dangerous labor conditions. In an audit earlier this year — one that Apple had expedited due to mounting criticism — the FLA said the company’s factories were not as bad as surrounding garment factories. CNN reported that Apple doesn’t state how much money its paid the FLA to audit its factories, but is likely its biggest client.

SumOfUs said Apple could view reports by SACOM, China Labor Watch and SOMO, or journalists to see that Apple’s factories were in violation of workers’ rights, rather than hire the FLA. There have been many credible journalists’ accounts from Apple’s factories in China, with the exception of performer Mike Daisy whose popular storytelling of life for workers at Foxconn was partially fabricated. Other legitimate reports show that Foxconn employees are overworked and underpaid.

When the audit is complete, expect it to be posted on the FLA’s website.

What do you think is Apple’s motivation in hiring the FLA? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/RichPhotographics

More About: apple, china, factories, Fair Labor Association, Foxconn

Is Kickstarter the Future for Tech Hardware Entrepreneurs?

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 08:56 PM PDT

Lance Parker is building something he says will bring a new level of convenience and security to on-the-go computing — and he’s funding the project through Kickstarter.

His product is called Compude, a tiny device that allows users to take a data-locked version of their personal computers’ contents with them, then plug in and work on any smartphone, tablet or other computer. He says it’s the smallest fingerprint authentication device in the world. (Click here for a video further explaining how Compude works.)

“With tablets, desktops, laptops and smartphones, the whole idea of trying to juggle devices and have your settings and data someplace you’re not is becoming more important,” Parker told Mashable. “When you look at what’s out there now, there are certainly already remote-control software and things like that. But we take it beyond that to essentially recreate what’s on your computer.”

Parker has successfully worked in technology since 1996, but he’s taking his latest project to what may seem like an unlikely place for a sophisticated hardware device — Kickstarter. He has a working Compude prototype, has consulted with government security experts and has taken out three patents. Now he’s looking to the online community to help raise $50,000 over the next two months to build more devices and help gain increased traction.

Most commonly associated with artsy pursuits and offbeat or esoteric campaigns, Parker believes Kickstarter also has a built-in set of advantages for entrepreneurs in tech hardware, which bootstrapping and pitching investors don’t offer.

“It’s a really great way to get access to early adopters and have them be the first to see the next device beyond the prototype,” he says. “Even just putting it up on Kickstarter [two days ago] I’ve had emails from three people saying they’d like to be a private investor in this.”

But media attention on tech entrepreneurs is increasing and recent government moves are beefing up opportunities for startups. Parker says those changes are two reasons he’s turning investors away to keep Compude community-oriented, at least for the time being.

One more Kickstarter advantage? No need to keep Compude secret until it’s ready for market.

“If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, I would basically be building the product all the way, then coming out with it,” Parker says. “If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, I wouldn’t even be talking about this right now.”

Do you think Kickstarter is a smart route to take for entrepreneurs like Parker who are building complex hardware devices? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Compude

More About: entrepreneurs, kickstarter

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10 Classic Gadgets Upcycled Into Fashion Accessories

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 08:40 PM PDT

1. Floppy Disk Bag

Whether you use it as a lunch box, a purse or a knapsack, this floppy disk carry-all is sure to turn heads. Price: $35

Click here to view this gallery.

Is that stack of floppy disks behind your computer collecting dust? Take a tip from these artists and turn old tech into new-school.

We’ve collected 10 fashion accessories upcycled from the gadgets of your youth. Even if you’re not exactly in the market for a computer mouse belt buckle or a LEGO bowtie, you’ll get a kick out of these repurposed creations.

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Accessories to Organize Your Office

Look under your bed and in your closet! What could you create from old tech and toys?

More About: accessories, art, fashion, features, geek, trending

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How Social Media Is Bringing Democracy to the Maldives [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 08:26 PM PDT

Mohamed Nasheed, the recently ousted president of the Maldives, has witnessed first-hand how technology and social media can organize civil society to create change and generate awareness.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the country in 2008. During his two-decade-long fight for democracy, there were strict government restrictions against Internet communications. As a result, he and his followers leveraged SMS text messages to organize their underground activities.

Since his election, Nasheed has fought tirelessly against climate change. The Maldives, a country of 1,200 islands, will be completely submerged if the ocean level rises a few feet — becoming the first nation of environmental exiles. His story is told in a new film The Island President, which will be released in New York on Wednesday (trailer below).

SEE ALSO: How Iceland Is Rebuilding Its Economy With Social Media

Nasheed resigned from the presidency amid threats of a coup d’état by followers of the previous ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoomi in February. Despite losing the presidency, Nasheed continues to campaign against climate change on an international stage.

Mashable‘s Alex Fitzpatrick and I had the opportunity to sit down with Nasheed on Tuesday to discuss the role of social media and technology in bringing change and spreading democracy in the Maldives.

Listen to Nasheed’s story and let us know how you think social media can continue to play a role in the conversation about climate change and democracy. Are there other platforms yet to be pursued? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Social Media, Video, World

Korrio: Safe Web Tool Helps Parents Manage Kids’ Sports Teams

Posted: 28 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: Korrio

Quick Pitch: An all-in-one planning and organizing solution for parents or coaches of youth athletes

Genius Idea: Korrio offer a comprehensive platform where parents or team organizers can schedule games, communicate with parents, share team information and more, in one safe online location.

Your hustle should be on the field, not when it comes to planning the game. That’s why Seattle-based startup Korrio created a web tool for busy parents of young athletes or youth sports team organizers. The site is basically a sports administrator in your pocket: communicate with parents, schedule games, register for teams, host club and team websites and more — all in one platform.

“More Sport, Less Hassle” is Korrio’s slogan.

Steve Goldman, CEO and Founder of Korrio, says “Korrio offers an end-to-end unified platform which combines all the sophisticated administrative functionality needed to run a successful youth sports program — combined with family-facing benefits, including auto generated personal dashboards for every Korrio user to manage their sports life.”

Goldman founded Korrio in 2009 and launched the site’s Playflow platform in January 2011. Youth sports organizations using Korrio pay $8-$10 per player for an annual license.

Korrio says parents have no need to fear putting their children’s names on the web tool. Even though they can access Korrio from any computer, smartphone or mobile device, the information is kept safe and secure using top-notch privacy technology and full SSL encryption on every web page. Korrio also complies with COPPA and other state and federal laws requiring protection of the information of minors.

“Korrio decides what a visitor can see based on his role (i.e. parent, coach, team manager, registrar or teammate),” Goldman said. “We know who everyone is and how they are connected to the player. Protecting the player is our top goal.”

Even children that don’t have access to email can use Korrio to hold pre- and post-game discussions, share photos, compare game notes and plan events through the site, which is only accessible by teammates and parents.

Currently, Korrio is in the youth soccer market, but this year Goldman says the company plans to expand to include other major youth sports including football, baseball, basketball and lacrosse.

Do you have children in team sports? Would you use Korrio? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/CEFutcher

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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Racist Tweets Result in 56 Days in Jail

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 07:46 PM PDT

Ten days after posting racially offensive comments on Twitter during a soccer match, British student Liam Stacey has been sentenced to 56 days in jail.

Stacey, 21, tweeted the comments on St. Patrick’s Day using the handle @LiamStacey9 after U.K. soccer star Fabrice Muamba, who plays for the Bolton Wanderers, collapsed on the field during a live televised soccer match. His initial tweet, “LOL, F___ Muamba. He’s dead!!! HAHA,” incited a host of backlash from other users, who found the remark offensive. Stacey responded back with more commentary, which is when the racial language ensued.

In his court hearing yesterday, Stacey “admitted inciting racial hatred.” When authorities first arrested him under a “public order offense” the day after he posted the comments, he had tried to distance himself from the tweets, saying his account had been hacked.

Upon initial questioning, Stacey told police he was drunk when he posted the tweets. When he received the court sentencing yesterday, “he broke down in tears,” according to the BBC. He has since also been suspended from his university until further notice.

Prosecutor Jim Brisbane said the racist language was the cause for incitement. “Racist language is inappropriate in any setting and through any media,” he said. “We hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that the comments made online are somehow beyond the law.”

In the U.K., police forces “regularly take action against those who post racially offensive remarks on Twitter,” though these actions by the police are rarely made public.

As expected, Twitter users are reacting to the sentencing online, with comments ranging from supporting the punishment to wondering if it is too much.

Indeed, the question of whether racism on Twitter or other online media outlets deserves as much attention as U.K. courts are giving to it is at the heart of some of the less-than-excited reactions. As Joseph Harker pointed out in an op-ed for the Guardian, cases like Stacey’s, which would have gone unnoticed a few years ago, have found themselves under scrutiny because the public domain now includes the digital world. And everyone is “venting their emotions in public.”

Harker also acknowledged that most of the people who do vent in public are doing so without realizing the implications of their attitudes:

The sad individuals who vent their emotions this way have never been the real problem: they’re mostly uneducated, they hold little real power over me, and the threat they pose is minimal. By contrast, the people who actually go out organizing, who form political organizations pledged to ethnically cleanse the country, forcing me and my family out, are the real danger. And they seem to get away with everything.

According to Harker, the U.K. courts are going after these public displays of racism because they are “quick wins” to try to claim that racism will no longer be tolerated.

Stacey’s Twitter account, @LiamStacey9, has since been taken down, and he has been ordered not to use Twitter or other social networking sites. However, a video on YouTube has captured the tweets that led to his initial arrest and subsequent sentencing. It reflects Stacey’s transition in language and attitude upon realizing the severity of his remarks. WARNING: View with caution. Some of the language may be offensive.

Do you think Liam Stacey’s sentencing is justified? Sound off in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, sodafish

More About: freedom of speech, racism, trending, Twitter, United Kingdom

A History of Hacktivism [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 07:26 PM PDT

Hacktivism has hit its tipping point. The year 2011 had the most hacktivism-related crimes in history.

Hacktivists use digital tools to breach security systems to protest or take a stand on political issues. The New Age hacker is motivated by the pursuit of justice, and is often hard to stop.

On Tuesday, Shawn Henry, an FBI agent who will soon leave his post, told the Wall Street Journal that cyber criminals are too powerful for the government to stop. He also said the U.S.’s current methods for preventing hacks are “unsustainable.”

Hacktivism accounted for the majority of cybercrimes committed in the U.S. last year, according to the 2012 Verzion Data Breach Investigation [PDF]. The report said hacktivism represented 100 million of the 174 million cybercrimes in 2011.

SEE ALSO: The Evolution of Anonymous

Web criminals target Wall Street firms, too. Cybercrime accounted for 38% of all economic crime [PDF] at financial companies in 2011, reported London-based firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2009, financial firms did not report a single case of cybercrime. The crimes were likely happening, but the cybercrime wasn’t a well-known issue at the time.

The first uptick in cybercrime came in the early 2000s. The Internet Crime Complaint Center logged 16,000 complaints in 2000. By 2008, the number of complaints had jumped to 275,000. Today, the majority — 66% — of hackivists live in the U.S.

The way hacktivists define themselves is important — they don’t want to be associated with cyber criminals who hack websites for financial gain. Hacktivists set out to make political statements by attacking targeted websites and breaching databases.

Three types of hacktivism exist: the white hat hacker, grey hat hacker and the black hat hacker. White hat hackers use non-malicious methods to break security systems. Grey hat hackers hold ambiguous codes of ethics, and are willing to break hacking laws. Black hat hackers are the show-offs; they will breach security mainly because they know how.

Check out the following infographic, created by Frugal Dad, to learn how hacktivism became a powerful virtual weapon.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, zimmytws

More About: cybercrime, features, hackers, hacktivism, hacktivist, infographic

Wind Map of the U.S. Will Blow You Away

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 06:41 PM PDT

Ever wondered what the wind would look like if you could see it in action from above? You’re about to find out.

A new project posted online Wednesday by a pair of Google computer scientists, called simply Wind Map, has to be clicked on to be believed.

The wind information, updated hourly from the National Weather Service’s forecast database, is portrayed as white and grey strands, almost like sand or rivulets of mercury.

It can be quite hypnotizing to watch the gusty trails blast across the American continent, skitter over the Sierras, get roughed up by the Rockies, and whoosh over the great plains on its way to Canada. (Which seems to give as good as it gets, sending most of its wind towards New York.)

Wind patterns are constantly changing, of course, which is why the Wind Map designers have also given us a moving-image gallery of previous blustery days.

Wind Map is the brainchild of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the co-leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” visualization research group in Cambridge, Mass. The pair have previously visualized Wikipedia and Google searches.

No word on whether we’ll see the Wind Map in Google Earth any time soon, but the pair do say they want to expand it to the planet — and are looking for any source of global wind information.

What do you make of the Wind Map? Is this something you’d like to see more of? Does it change how you think of the potential for wind energy, as its creators hope? Let us know you thoughts in the comments.

More About: data visualization, Google, trending

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Daily Show Correspondent Jason Jones Joins #WellEndowed Twitter Campaign

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 06:26 PM PDT

Edge Shave Gel has handed its Twitter account over to Daily Show Correspondent Jason Jones as part of its latest social media marketing campaign, which casts him as an “Edge fund manager.”

The brand is encouraging people to tweet an explanation of why they should receive a “micro-grant” of $50, $200 or $500 to its @EdgeShaveZone Twitter account using the hashtag #wellendowed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Jason Jones personally responded to some entrants tweets from the account.

“Sounds like you don’t need money,” he tweeted, for instance, to one entrant who mentioned his life goals included not sweating the small stuff.

Jones says his favorite entry so far is by someone who wants to make leopard-print tape.

Most tweets with the #wellendowed hashtag so far are from Twitter accounts dedicated to entering contests (not to mention Twitter handles such as @SweepsMama). But Edge has plenty of time to find participants who don’t enter Twitter contests like it’s their job. The Twitter campaign, which is part of a larger online sweepstakes, continues until July.

Edge’s now 24,000-follower strong account has run successful campaigns in the past.

Last year the brand’s anti-irritation campaign spontaneously rewarded tweets that included the hashtag #soirritating with random acts of kindness. As part of the campaign, a full-time team of two gave out everything from iPads to dancing panda YouTube videos in an effort to “solve irritation,” and the hashtag was used about 6,800 times in two months.

Giving out cold, hard cash is bound to get at least as much attention.

More About: Edge Shave Gel, Jason Jones, social media marketing, Twitter

10 Tips for Raising Money on Kickstarter

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 05:37 PM PDT

Rusel DeMaria is the author of more than 60 books, and currently runs the High Score 3 Kickstarter project. Follow him on Twitter @DeMaria.

Double Fine, the game developer, raised $3.3 million for its adventure game, Double Fine Adventures. InXile, a game development company, made $500,000 in 17 hours for its role-playing game, Wasteland 2. Both did it on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Naturally, it would be easy to think of Kickstarter as a virtual Gold Rush. That would be a mistake.

SEE ALSO: How to Crowdfund Your Next Big Idea

Kickstarter has its challenges. Even as a successful participant, I’ve hit some bumps along the way. The lessons I’ve learned from this experience are worth observing. If you’re looking to get funded on Kickstarter, here are ten tips to help you succeed.

1. Do Your Research

Not every project will work on Kickstarter, and even fewer will create a feeding frenzy. So do your research. Observe, for example, what has worked and what hasn’t for other project creators. To find successful examples, look at sections of the site such as "Staff Picks" or "Popular." To find projects that have not hit their goals, look at some of those under "Ending Soon." Obviously, projects succeed and fail for different reasons, but researching examples of each will help you get a feel for what to do and what to avoid.

2. Define Your Goal

Decide exactly what you want to accomplish and how much money you need to do that. Remember, if you don't meet your goal, you get nothing. Better to ask a reasonable amount and then work hard to exceed that goal. Double Fine initially asked for $400,000, but blew that out of the water. If possible, have at least a group of friends who will support you with pledges from the get-go. That will help you build momentum. And remember, you cannot change the amount after you launch.

Also, think about how long your project should run. Kickstarter recommends a maximum of 30 days, but some people have succeeded with longer cycles. Consider your audience and how long it will take to get the word out when making this decision. As with the funding amount, you can't change your project length once it’s set.

3. Consider Your Rewards and Costs

You'll quickly learn that people want something in exchange for their pledges. Create rewards, gifts to backers based on the amount they pledge, starting at low values, like $5. That way you can reward even small-time backers. Double Fine is a good example of a project that created great rewards tailored to their audience. Their lowest reward was a digital copy of the game for $15. The highest was a private party with the developers for $10,000.

Another critical factor to consider when creating rewards are related costs. For example, if you’re going to send your backers something by mail, calculate the postage and packaging you'll need. Don't get blindsided and discover that your costs will cancel out a part of your funding.

4. Prepare Your Pitch

How you introduce your project can make a huge difference. On your project page you'll describe your project, goals, and rewards. Be specific and include engaging images of your work. Kickstarter recommends that you also create a video. Make it fun, natural, and compelling by including key elements like people talking about how great or important the project is. Remember, your pitch should pump people up about your project and show both your enthusiasm and your ability to follow through.

5. Market the Hell Out of It

Once you've pulled the trigger and published your project, it's time to promote via social media, friends, family, even strangers. Any updates you post will automatically be sent to your current backers, but urge them to re-post and re-tweet. If you can find a way to make your work newsworthy, pitch popular websites and newspapers.

6. Keep It Alive

Your initial marketing may bring you some early success, but you need to keep feeding the fire. Find ways to update the project. Add new and fun rewards as you go. Keep people informed about your progress, and definitely share any good news or milestones like "We're halfway there!"

7. Listen to Your Backers

Many of your backers will offer advice. Listen. Some of them have backed many projects and know what works. Others just have an opinion, and even if you don't agree, consider how many other people — potential investors — may think the same way.

8. Be Patient

There will be times when pledges seem to flow in steadily, and times when it seems that nobody cares. When this happens, you’ll need to stay positive and re-engage those who got you this far. Start by letting your biggest supporters know it's time to step up and spread the word. If they've backed the project, then they also want it to succeed.

9. Be Flexible and Creative

Be prepared to do things you never anticipated doing. You hadn't considered a special T-shirt as a reward? Maybe you should. A supporter offers to create limited-edition rewards to help your project? Why not? Bottom line: Be open and flexible.

10. Have Fun

This is going to be a crazy ride so enjoy it. And remember, if at first you don't succeed….

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Draco77

More About: contributor, crowd-funding, features, kickstarter, Startups

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Twitter War Heats Up Over Health Care Law

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 04:56 PM PDT

While the United States Supreme Court forbids tweeting from its courtroom, thousands of people elsewhere have taken to Twitter to talk about the legal battle surrounding the Affordable Care Act, including top Republicans and Democrats. The two parties are now engaged in an all-out digital war to get more support for their side of the health care argument.

During the first day of Supreme Court oral arguments on Monday, “Obamacare” was mentioned more than 43,000 times while the general topic of “healthcare” was discussed more than 72,000 times. About half those tweets were neutral in tone, simply disseminating information about the Supreme Court’s proceedings. Positive and negative tweets both represented about 25% each of the total number of tweets, according to analysis by Topsy Labs.

The “Obamacare” name was originally coined as a pejorative term by Republican opponents of the bill. Many Republicans have been using social media to explain why they’re against the Affordable Care Act and want the Supreme Court to strike it down, and the Republican Party’s website is asking visitors to sign an “anti-Obamacare” petition (so far, more than 7,400 have signed).

However, Democrats have capitalized on the opportunity to “take back Obamacare,” so to speak. For the past few days, they’ve been rolling out an aggressive digital rebranding campaign seeking to recast “Obamacare” as a positive term.

They’ve got a petition of their own, but they’re not advertising how many people have signed it. A Facebook page called “Obamacare” has almost 30,000 “likes.” Over on Twitter, @BarackObama has been using an “#ILikeObamacare” hashtag to get supporters of the bill talking. And President Obama’s campaign has also been asking supporters to share why they like the bill on Tumblr.

Opponents of that bill have countered the rebranding efforts by trying to usurp the #ILikeObamacare hashtag:

Oral arguments about the Affordable Care Act are on their third and final day Wednesday, so we can expect to see plenty more tweets about it from both sides of the asile over the next few hours and days.

Do you think the “#ILikeObamacare” rebranding effort will be successful? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, dra_schwartz

More About: affordable health care act, obamacare, Twitter

Beyond Likes: How Google and Adobe Aim to Measure Your True Social ROI

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 03:50 PM PDT

Measuring marketing spending used to be pretty easy, at least in theory: You’d run a big ad campaign and then see if your sales rose. If they did, great. If not, then you wasted your money.

Social media has muddied the waters. A campaign may not do much for sales, but it might add a million Facebook fans or garner an impressive number of retweets. Does that mean you spent your money effectively?

Over the past month, Google and Adobe have attempted to answer that question. Both companies have released tools that let marketers track their marketing spend through social media. Such data aims to provide some concrete ROI behind the touchy-feely world of Likes, retweets and +1s — data that, on its own, amount to what Phil Mui, group product manager for Google Analytics, dubs “vanity metrics.”

Adobe Social

Adobe, best known for design software such as Photoshop, is attempting to boost its credibility as a marketing services provider with Adobe Social. The tool, which is part of the Adobe Online Digital Suite, offers data from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. The latest version of Social, which was introduced earlier this month at a conference in Salt Lake City (see picture above, featuring director Jeff Jordan, senior product manager or social media), is an update of Adobe SocialAnalytics, which was launched in March 2011. Since that time, Adobe has purchased Efficient Frontier, a firm best known as a buyer and seller of ads on Facebook. The company has tapped that expertise for the latest version.

Aseem Chandra, VP of marketing for the Adobe Digital Marketing Business, says SocialAnalytics lets you track activity on those social media platforms and then take note of users who wind up on your website. If you sell something on your site, it can connect that activity to sales. The product was just released to the public on March 9, but Adobe has been working with a handful of brands for the past few months in a pilot program.

Among those brands is Expedia, the online travel firm, which ran a promotion in April 2011 called FriendTrips. The promo dangled $1 million in prizes. Participants entered to win one of 13 luxury vacations. However, you were required to RSVP five friends for each entry. Chandra says the effort netted Expedia 1 million new Facebook fans. By calculating the money spent on the promotion, $1 million, and the 750% increase in fans, SocialAnalytics reckoned that the cost-per-fan fell 4.5 times compared to previous campaigns. Users can also get data like fan demographics, likes and shares via SocialAnalytics.

Such information will cost you. Chandra declined to get specific, but said access costs “tens of thousands” of dollars, meaning it’s an option for some small- to medium-size businesses, but not mom-and-pops.

Google Analytics

A little more than a week after Adobe released SocialAnalytics, Google announced Social reports, an addition to Google Analytics that attempts to show a causal relationship between social media activity and sales.

There are three major differences between Adobe’s and Google’s solution:

  • 1. Google’s is free.
  • 2. Facebook and Twitter do not provide data.
  • 3. The data completely revolves around your website.

If you’ve used Google Analytics, you know that you can already see if recent traffic has been referred from one of the social networks. Google has expanded on that. Now, you can also see if someone interacted with your site days, weeks or months ago and then returned — a conversion that Google calls “assisted.”

Google also lets you place a monetary value on such interactions, though that’s somewhat subjective. If your site allows for direct sales, then figuring out that figure is easy enough. Otherwise, Google suggests you quantify each conversion. That can get tricky if you sell, for instance, cars, since merely visiting your site doesn’t necessarily equal a sale.

The assisted conversions are also subjective. Chandra lets marketers set their time frame. If someone on Facebook clicked on a link six months ago and then went back and bought something today, is that old interaction valuable? Google says it is if you think it is.

The lack of Facebook and Twitter metrics may also be an issue, but maybe not as much as you think. Perhaps you don’t want to dive into all the Likes and People Talking About metrics and just see in broad brush strokes how many people came from your site via Facebook. However, Google’s wealth of data for participating networks (the company claims about 20, including, of course, Google+), may make you wish Facebook and Twitter were cooperating.

For instance, if you see a bump in traffic from Google+, now you can call up actual conversations behind it. You can dig even deeper and identify your most influential users as well.

Is This Helpful?

Such data is attractive to marketers. If nothing else, it provides an answer to company bean counters’ questions about social media ROI. But are they useful for creating new social media marketing campaigns? Brian Solis, principal of Altimeter Group, says better metrics don’t address the fact that most marketers launch social media campaigns without a clear goal in mind.

“If you want to optimize Facebook’s contribution to sales, you have to design that at the front end,” says Solis, who recently completed a study looking at how influencers actually spread social media messages. He recommends creating programs that provide some value to such influencers and people connected to them. He also suggests defining what success looks like before you launch your program.

Since social media is still relatively new, that may be a tough task for marketers. One alternative is to try various things in social media and then track the results. Given the dynamic nature of social media and the mind-boggling number of variables involved with each campaign, isolating the elements that made a campaign successful might be tough.

All of which is why Google’s and Adobe’s new metrics might provide greater visibility into marketing done via social media, yet still can’t offer straightforward results. When it comes to the question of social media marketing ROI, the answer is still that old Facebook standard: It’s complicated.

Adobe Social: Set Up

This slide shows how it might look at the beginning of a campaign, with various stated goals.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, michellegibson

More About: adobe, Business, features, Google, google analytics, Social Media, social media marketing

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Turn Your Tweets Into Toilet Paper — for $35 a Pack [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 03:13 PM PDT

Last year Bill Gates announced plans to revolutionize the toilet. Now one startup is attempting to revolutionize toilet paper -– by putting tweets on it.

The service, called Shitter, will take one or more feeds from your Twitter account and print those tweets on toilet paper you can then display and use proudly in your favorite restroom.

The company’s tagline: "Social Media has never been so disposable."

Shitter allows you to have a roll printed with your own personal tweets, your timeline, favorites, or tweets from a specific list you’ve created or follow on Twitter. If there’s someone on Twitter you think has particularly crappy things to say, you can opt to have his or her feed printed on a few rolls.

Priced for use in high-end powder rooms, Shitter rolls are priced at $35 for a pack of four. That, you may reasonably surmise, is money down the drain. Mashable did the math, and if Shitter’s rolls of TP have the standard 75 sheets you’d be shelling out about 8.5 cents a sheet to drop your latest tweets off at the pool.

Shitter isn’t the first company out there to make custom toilet paper, although they are the first to focus on taking Twitter to the toilet. Another company, simply called Custom Printed Toilet Paper also offers the ability to gift the "world’s crappiest" gift by having a toilet paper printed up with a favorite logo, picture, or phrase.

What do you think about tweeting on TP? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Please, no typing in the bathroom.

More About: mashable video, startup, Toilet, trending, Twitter

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Did This Pinterest Spammer Make $30,000 in a Month? [UPDATED]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 02:14 PM PDT

Pinterest Spam

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new details from The Daily Dot.

A 24-year-old man who calls himself “Steve” makes more than $1,000 per day pinning Amazon product links on Pinterest, one of 2012′s hottest social networks.

Taking advantage of the startup’s fast growth and optimal user demographics — consisting mostly of brand-savvy women with an annual household income of more than $100,000 and a love of shopping — spammers are making huge amounts of money just by pinning items to Pinterest and directing consumers to make purchases on Amazon.

The Daily Dot published an interview with Pinterest spammer Steve after exposing an underground community of spammers targeting the hot site.

On Amazon, he uses various accounts including the name “final-fantas07.” At one time, thousands of his spambots are sharing posts on Pinterest. He showcases products to the Pinterest community, appealing especially to women, who repin posts and buy items linked to Steve’s Amazon accounts.

“Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now,” Steve told The Daily Dot. “Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam. It requires almost no work to get started and no money to invest. You just have to know how the system works and how you can fix it to your advantage.”

Pinterest Scam Amazon

He’s made up to $1,900 a day since he started spamming Feb. 20. The above image was Pinned with a link to Steve’s Amazon account, through which fake user “Nancy Nelon” only pins items from The Pinterest account is also linked to a Twitter feed that bears no activity and a different first name.

“I fully expect next week’s earnings to be $2,000 to $2,500 a day. There are no guarantees in this business and it could all come crashing down soon,” he said. “Not a matter of if, but when will it happen.”

Out of Steve’s collection of fake accounts, he says, Pinterest has only deleted one.

Pinterest acknowledges it is working on minimizing the spam users see. In a statement sent to Mashable, the company said:

As a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the web, including spam. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to quickly address them. Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.

Update: The Daily Dot did a follow-up interview with the spammer in which Steve states: "It was a hoax, period … I thought it would be funny to play this prank seeing how popular Pinterest is and see how fast it could go viral. Honestly, if it hadn't grabbed this much attention I probably would have kept playing along."

Although Steve is taking back his claims, The Daily Dot points out that many of his original claims proved true.

The Amazon account “final-fantas07″ — one Steve claimed as his own — was indeed linked to many Pinterest pins.

The publication also found a Black Hat World message board, on which self-proclaimed spammers confirmed Steve’s money-making methods.

Messages like this one, from BHW user meathead1234, support Steve’s original claims: “He could probably have hit some pretty good numbers if he just kept quiet for a while. I have a few sites doing $1000/day right now and I would NOT tell anyone about them or how they earn.”

SEE ALSO: Pinterest Scams on the Rise: Protect Yourself [PICS]

4 Tips for Avoiding Pinterest Spam:

  • Avoid repinning or clicking on pins that use logos of big brands, but aren’t affiliated with any official accounts:
  • Spam on Pinterest

  • These links open up to windows that ask you to repin to win unofficial contests, like this:
  • Pinterest Scams

  • If a pin is advertises a free gift card and the source looks fishy, avoid clicking.
  • Avoid pins that aren’t sourced and link to suspicious websites. And don’t repin items from Pinterest users with extraordinarily weird user names and Pinterest accounts with no description or picture.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Cayusa

More About: pinterest, scam, trending

Facebook to Halt Trading of Shares in Secondary Market This Week [REPORT]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 01:16 PM PDT

Facebook will halt trading of its shares in secondary markets by the beginning of April, according to a report.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Facebook representatives told firms participating in trades in such markets to stop trading this week.

Facebook reps declined comment on the report.

The social networking giant filed in February to raise $5 billion in an IPO. The timing of the IPO has never been made public, but a previous report pegged it in late May. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal ran a report on Wednesday citing “people familiar with the matter” that also predicted a May IPO for the company. The source could not say which week Facebook planned to go public and cautioned that the timing may change.

It’s unclear whether this move would mean Facebook would now go public sooner than anticipated. Pulling out of secondary markets such as SharesPost and SecondMarket gives Facebook time to “account for its shareholding base as it makes final preparations for an IPO,” according to the report.

The last time Facebook withdrew from such markets, in late January, was to make way for its IPO filing. Facebook’s value has zoomed as high as $100 billion based on share prices in secondary trading.

However, the valuation dropped to $93 billion in a late-February auction, according to the report.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Katrina.Tuliao and Crunchies2009 via Flickr

Bonus: How the Social Media IPOs of 2011 Fared

1. Yandex (YNDX) -20.8% from its IPO Price

Yandex, a Russian search engine, raised $1.3 billion when it went public in May, making it the biggest social media IPO of the year.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: facebook ipo, secondary market, SecondMarket, sharespost, trending

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The Future of Funny: How Old and New Media Collaborate on Comedy

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 01:00 PM PDT

Comedy has undergone a transformation over the past few years thanks to digital and social media. From standup comedians breaking out on Twitter to television networks adapting to new viewer habits — there’s a blending of old and new media that’s thrown all the old rules of production and talent out the window.

We’re beginning to see production and distribution of content take alternative routes, as Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari set the bar for others to follow.

Note: This video contains language that may be NSFW.

However, that’s not to say old media isn’t keeping up. Many network shows now include hashtags to encourage the conversation on the “second screen,” and comedians provide additional commentary on Twitter when a show airs. Erik Flannigan, EVP of digital media at Viacom Entertainment Group, says the result has made first-run TV time slots relevant again in the age of DVR.

“Whether that show was shot six months ago or not, when it airs, especially if you know the talent’s on the other side, suddenly there’s this moment where you do want to watch it on television live, not necessarily on your DVR. Because there’s a conversation happening with essentially some additional material from that talent that you might be missing out on if you waited to watch it the next day.”

Alternatively, comedians are beginning to reap the benefits from their casual acts on social media. Flannigan says that some comedians already have graduated from Twitter to the tube.

SEE ALSO: How Twitter Is Changing The Craft of Comedy

Rob Delaney is often identified as a talent discovered on Twitter. The comedian landed a pilot with Comedy Central which revolved around his take on the current Twitter trends.

“Social media certainly brings people to our attention, no doubt about it, ” says Comedy Central’s SVP of talent and specials, Jonas Larsen. “It’s an emerging state for sure, but it’s definitely important how we use it in our search for talent.”

Delaney is among several others who’ve been nominated for “Funniest Person on Twitter” — a new category at this year’s Comedy Awards. According to Larsen, comedians have in some ways become “the new rock stars,” and attributes that directly to social media.

SEE ALSO: Twitter Comedy: How to Be Funny in 140 Characters

Comedian and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick says social and digital media have turned the web into the new demotape, changing the game completely from what it was 20 years ago.

“It’s a bottom-up system, where the old media was very top-down,” says Hardwick. “Like, three companies would tell the world who they should find entertaining, and now anyone can be exposed to the world and show their talent because of the Internet. It seems obvious, but it literally has completely changed the structure of how we get and consume media.”

Viral content has become so powerful to major companies, it often equates to the same level of validation as a nod from the companies themselves — in other words, power in numbers has become equally as important as exclusivity.

“Now, everyone can be displayed into the world, so the challenge is how do you rise above the noise,” Hardwick says. “I think ultimately if you care about what you’re doing and you’re good at it, you will.”

This May we’ll be exploring the future of media and many other digital trends at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. See below for all the details.

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 for opportunities.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Comedy Central

More About: comedy, Comedy Central, digital media, features, humor, mashable connect, Twitter

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Facebook Is Redefining Checkin Numbers for Pages

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 12:46 PM PDT

Don’t panic if your checkins on Facebook plummet in a few weeks. Facebook is changing the way it counts checkins, photo posts and multiple visits in a short period to a location.

Facebook confirmed that the way branded pages count checkins will change but didn’t respond to a question about whether this will impact overall numbers.

A letter being sent to branded page owners was posted on AllFacebook. It reads:

“We are revising checkin numbers on Facebook pages to give you a more accurate picture of how people are visiting your business. Among these changes, previously, if an individual checked into your business multiple times, each check-in was counted into your page's total check-in number.

“Now, if someone checks into your business multiple times within a 12-hour period, that action will be counted as one unique check-in. In addition, when people tag their friends at a location and upload a photo, those photo tags will be counted more holistically.

“For example, if 20 photos were uploaded to an album at a specific location, we'll now count that as a single check-in. If Jessica checks into a location and tags five friends in the photo she uploads with her check-in, the total checkins number will be six — Jessica plus her five friends”.

A Facebook spokesperson says this will effect overall checkin numbers for Pages associated with a certain place.

Numbers may not be as impressive once the change occurs, but this will give page owners a more accurate idea of how many people they’re attracting. Owners of branded pages may just have to reconfigure how they measure success based on page metrics.

Do you manage a company or brand page? How do you feel about this change? Tell us in the comments.

More About: brands, Facebook, facebook pages

Trayvon Martin Petition Is Fastest-Growing in History

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 12:29 PM PDT

The petition created by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton calling for the prosecution of their son Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, has become the fastest-growing campaign in the site’s history.

The petition called “Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin,” has gained over 2.1 million signatures since its launch on March 8. During its most viral stages, more than 1,000 people were signing the petition each minute. released this infographic Wednesday, detailing social media’s role in driving national attention toward the Trayvon Martin case. Becoming the site’s most viral cause was no small feat. There are over 100,000 petitions on the website to date.

It took a few weeks for social media users to learn about the case. #Trayon first trended on Twitter March 17, three weeks after the teen was shot to death by the neighborhood watch volunteer.

SEE ALSO: Obama's Trayvon Comments Ignite Social Surge

“The overwhelming public outcry has not only brought some comfort to Trayvon's family, but has prompted action at all levels of justice,” Jackie Mahendra, director of storytelling told Mashable. “People truly are finding their voice through social media and channeling their anger into action.”

On March 26, one month after Trayvon’s death, his parents led a march through Sanford, Fla., carrying the 2 million signatures on a banner.

How do you think the social space can help bring justice for Trayvon Martin? Do you think this petition can have an impact?

trayvon martin change

More About:, petitions, trayvon martin, trending

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Facebook Friended by a Pervert? This App Lets You Know

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 12:11 PM PDT

So you get home from the gym to find a Facebook friend request from that cute guy you were flirting with by the elliptical machines. He’s nice, he’s charming, but something about him seems a little bit … creepy. How do you know he’s not a sex offender?

Well, now there’s an app for that.

It’s called Friend Verifier and it scans all of your Facebook connections and requests against sex offender registries from around the United States. Since launching March 9, it has been used to check nearly 300,000 people despite minimal press coverage, according to Joe Penora, the Facebook app’s creator.

Penora says he was inspired to create the app after years of female friends and acquaintances telling him about receiving inappropriate messages, first on MySpace then through Facebook.

“The running joke was, ‘You should create a creepy guy filter,’” Penora told Mashable. “Obviously you can’t just see if a guy is creepy, but you can make sure people haven’t been convicted of crimes.”

As social media and casual sharing become increasingly accepted as part of normal life, Penora says simple tools like Friend Verifier become more important.

“I have a younger cousin who’s one of these Facebook friend collectors who just accepts anyone who requests her as a friend,” Penora says. “In this day and age that can be kind of dangerous, so this is really for people like her.”

The app scans against a database of more than 800,000 convicted sex offenders, but actually includes nearly a million actual records as convicted offenders are forced to re-register if they move to a new state. Of course, it’s possible to simply search for offenders manually online by name, but Penora says his app raises awareness and offers a simpler way to check potential connections.

As Friend Verifier moves out of its beta phase, two of Penora’s biggest goals are creating a mobile app and making it simpler to differentiate offenders from law-abiding citizens who share a common name.

Do you think Friend Verifier is a useful tool or not? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, youngvet

More About: apps, Facebook, security, trending

Blind Puppy Rescue: We Dare You Not to Cry [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 12:00 PM PDT

Last week, Elgar Hadar of Hope for Paws posted to YouTube this amazing story of Fiona, a rescued puppy.

We won’t tell you the whole story because we don’t want to ruin it, but keep several tissues on hand and remember: The story ends with a smile.

Hope for Paws is a non-profit animal rescue organization based in Los Angeles.

BONUS: 15 Adorable Tumblrs for Canine Connoisseurs

Can’t get enough of dogs? Man’s best friend is well represented on Tumblr.

1. Dogs & Great Views

Canines + inspiring landscapes = win.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: dogs, hope for paws, Rescue Dogs, viral videos

The Next KONY 2012? Invisible Children Co-Founder Releases ‘I Am Mother’

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 11:48 AM PDT

KONY 2012 director Jason Russell isn’t the only Invisible Children co-founder using web video to direct attention toward the conflict in central Africa. Bobby Bailey, another Invisible Children co-founder who left the organization in 2009, recently created a film “I Am Mother” for The Voice Project, about another aspect of the region’s wars.

Abducted child soliders are often fearful to return home because of the potential for reprisal attacks against them. Mothers of abducted child soldiers in northern Uganda sing songs to call their children to return home, assuring them no harm will come to them.

“Some of the abducted kids spent six years in the bush and think they will be killed for the atrocities they’ve committed,” Bailey told Mashable. “They’re fearful that if they come back they will be killed, so a lot of work is going into radio and flyering to tell them to come home.”

Songs in the Acholi tribe’s language (who are native to northern Uganda), are considered the most effective way to call out to children because Internet, telephone and postal services are non-existant. Organizations such as Invisible Children are funding the construction of FM radio towers to play the Acholi women’s songs.

The Voice Project records and distributes songs welcoming the children living in captivity to return home to their mothers. Musicians Peter Gabriel, Emmanuel Jal, Broken Social Scene, Angelique Kidjo, Dawes, Delta Spirit, Joe Purdy, Billy Bragg, Edward Sharpe and Soko, among others, have recorded songs which are broadcast from towers in the central Africa.

Like Invisible Children, The Voice Project raises money by selling products. I Am Mother promotes scarves (sold for $34), decorated with the Acholi song lyrics. Bailey says The Voice Project would like to build a tower itself, though costs begin at $20,000 for a portable tower and can reach up to $80,000.

SEE ALSO: How Technology Is Helping Kony Victims in Uganda

When it comes to creating viral video, Bailey says it’s a huge misconception that KONY 2012 became an overnight viral sensation. The spread, Bailey says, was the product of a decade of high school and college campus visits across the U.S., sharing the story of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Did he — or anyone currently affiliated with Invisible Children — ever dream 80 million people would around the world would watch Jason Russell’s 30 minute documentary? No. The non-profit had hoped half a million people would watch by the end of 2012.

“Technology met us at the right time at the right place,” Bailey says. “Social networks, and the built in audience we’d built up, helped push the film forward.”

Bailey says he wouldn’t be surprised if Invisible Children were to release a feature length film about Joseph Kony and the LRA, which he calls a long-time dream of the three founders (himself, Russell and Laron Poole).

Bailey left Invisible Children in 2009 to create a malaria documentary in 2009, after spending 10 days in an UN Internally Displaced Persons camp. He just returned from shooting his next film about a music school in Haiti.

As for his next big project, Bailey is at work on a casual social game, tentatively called “Social Hero,” with Hunter Heaney, founder of The Voice Project. “We’re basically looking at the entertainment space and the social good space and saying ‘What can we do to pioneer new models?’”

More About: kony 2012, Social Good, Video

Justin Bieber Gets Hacked, #Biebermyballs Goes Viral [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 11:36 AM PDT

Justin Bieber is the latest celebrity to have his Twitter account hijacked, joining a long list of previous hacked victims from Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears to President Obama.

A hacker accessed Bieber’s Twitter account early on Wednesday morning and began to unfollow and block some of the pop superstar’s fans. A tweet was also sent out to Bieber’s 19 million followers:

“19 million my ass. #biebermyballs,” the tweet said.

Although it was removed almost immediately, many fans discussed the hashtag in tweets and made the phrase trend on the site.

SEE ALSO: Justin Bieber's Twitter Prank Leads to Potential Lawsuit

This isn’t the first time the Internet has seen the the message. Fellow Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen — the first artist signed to Bieber’s new record label — recently had her account hacked with a tweet that featured the words “Bieber my balls.” It’s not clear if it was done by the same hacker.

Bieber later addressed Jepsen’s hacking in a tweet:

The Biebs is no stranger to being hacked either. In 2010, Bieber reportedly sent out a tweet with the phone number of the hacker and asked his fans to “call me.”

The singer has been known to tease his phone number on Twitter. Earlier this month, he sent a tweet out with a phone number consisting of only six digits, urging fans to “Call me right now.” It promoted his Twitter followers to guess the final digit.

Two residents in Texas have since claimed that their phones have been ringing off the hooks and are now threatening legal action against Bieber.

More About: hacking, justin bieber, mashable video, Social Media, trending, Twitter

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Twitter Admits ‘Unfollow Bug’ Exists [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 11:22 AM PDT

Having some trouble with Twitter lately? The company has recently confirmed a “follow bug” that causes some users to automatically stop receiving updates from the feeds they follow.

The admission first came from a Twitter spokesperson speaking to The Telegraph. “This is a bug, and our team is working to fix it,” the spokesperson said.

Twitter explained further in a post on the site’s support page. If you follow a user, that person may not immediately appear under your account’s “following” tab. But if you click on their profile page, the blue box will indicate that yes, you are following that person.

Many Twitter users have long complained about the unfollowing problem, but it wasn’t officially acknowledged by the company until Wednesday.

Twitter has ensured its users it is “working to resolve” the bug.

Have you ever stopped getting updates from a Twitter user you could’ve sworn you followed? Sound off in the comments below.

More About: mashable video, Social Media, trending, Twitter

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Half of U.S. Households Own at Least One Apple Product [SURVEY]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 11:08 AM PDT


Apple has taken firm root in America. Just over half of all households in the country own at least one Apple product, a new survey says, showing just how far the reach of the company has come in the last decade.

At the turn of the 21st century, Apple was in rough shape. It had narrowly avoided bankruptcy, and Steve Jobs’ return as CEO a few years earlier was turning the company around, but the market share of its products — then almost exclusively Mac computers — was dismal, at about 2% worldwide.

Then came the iPod, which begat the iPhone and the iPad. As Apple’s gadgets gobbled up market share (and in some cases created new markets), its Macs experienced a rebound, too. Now, according to CNBC’s All-American Economic Survey, 51% of U.S. households own at least one Apple product.

Few brands have such a deep reach among American consumers. Certainly, product categories such as refrigerators or even smartphones have achieved even deeper penetration, but looking at single companies, it’s a short list with probable names such as GE (light bulbs) or 3M (Scotch tape). Reducing to just technology companies would make it even shorter.

SEE ALSO: Sorry, Google: Apple is America's Valentine This Year [STUDY]

Of the households that own Apple products, they own an average of three, making the overall ownership rate of the American public 1.6 Apple products per household. About 25% plan to buy another Apple product in the next year.

The survey shows Apple buyers tend to skew male, young, with higher education and incomes (77% of households making $75,000 or more have an Apple product). If you have kids, the likelihood of being an Apple household grows — 61% compared with 48% if you don’t.

As far as politics is concerned, both Republicans and Democrats appear to like Apple products equally, with 56% of people counting themselves a member of either party owning Apple, although a greater portion of Democrats plan to buy more products soon.

CNBC’s survey polled 836 Americans via both landlines and cellphones over three days in March. The network says it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%.

Do you own Apple products? Why did you pick Apple instead of another brand? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, arakonyunus

BONUS: The History of Mac OS X

A Timeline of Mac OS

For nearly 30 years, the Macintosh operating system has helped define desktop computing.

With the announcement of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple is readying for its next evolution and is getting closer than ever at merging the desktop with the mobile OS. Let's take a look back at 28 years of Mac OS history.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, ipad, iphone, ipod, mac

How to Avoid the Common Pitfalls of Mobile App Development

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 10:49 AM PDT

The Mobile App Trends Series is supported by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

Mobile development has come a long way in the past few years. But as technology continues to introduce new and more innovating products at a rapid pace, there’s room for many developers to make huge mistakes along the way — ones that could jeopardize their product or even their entire business.

“I think that you can screw up five times before you get up in the morning, in ways that you never even thought of,” says Josh Koppel, CCO and co-founder of ScrollMotion. “It’s a dicey business sometimes to try something new, but the truth is, it’s the mistakes that help you actually learn stuff. ”

We spoke with four leaders in mobile app development about the common issues developers often face when create a new product. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Android or iOS?

A common issue developers run into is deciding which operating system to run first: Android or iOS. Developers should think about the audience the app is meant for when making a decision.

“I would never say you have to launch on iOS, but you need to think about what the app needs to do and which platform is going to help you deliver on the value prop that you want to give consumers,” says Kevin Nakao, president and COO at White Pages, Inc.

According to Nakao, the advantage to Android is its openness.

“We launched our Caller ID app on Android first because it provided access to the APIs needed to provide this feature, compared to iOS, which doesn't provide this developer access,” says Nakao.

On the other hand, many developers feel that Android has so many different versions of its operating system that deciding which version to build for can be complicated.

“The Android Market is fragmented, and when we’re developing that becomes an issue. No two devices on the Android are necessarily the same, so you have to start thinking from a design and front-end angle, ‘Well okay, this one has a different screen ratio and which ones are we going to release on?’ Whereas with iOS, you can just release on one,” says Rolando Garcia, head of technical production for ScrollMotion.

Testing the Waters With Your App

According to Nakao, one of the best things developers can do before starting with an app is to not build one — rather, instead start out with a mobile website.

“You can still do a mobile application. Just start with a mobile website first so you can learn about the design, functionality and user experience needed before building an app. The downside of an app is that the consumer has to upgrade to get new versions, while a mobile website can simply be updated,” says Nakao.

If you do decide to go through with an app, Koppel says there is no such thing as testing your product too much.

“Test your app outside of your office. If your app has anything to do with receiving information remotely, test it in different places around the city: in subways, in a lot of different conditions. Just make sure your developers get outside of their offices,” says Koppel.

Once your product has been tested, another important thing that developers need to do is stay focused.

“Make sure that your client or you haven’t changed any pieces before the thing goes live,” says Garcia. “Make sure that the developer and environment that you’re pulling your stuff in both front-end and back-end is not experiencing any kind of changes. Lock everything down when you go into Quality Assurance (QA). And then once it gets approved by QA, you stay on that lockdown. That’s really, really important and we try to stress that to our clients.”

Discovery of Your App

Before your app has launched, two important things to think about are marketing and consumer discovery — how users will find your app.

“It is very important to determine what category you want to place your app in as well as the keywords you use to describe your app. There is a great service called, which provides tools for “App Store Optimization,” and a lot of intelligence and data-driven analysis to help you determine the keywords for the category and apps will compete against,” says Nakao.

Koppel stresses the importance of never jumping the gun on marketing for your app.

“Never send out a press release until the app is in the store and tested,” says Koppel. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen press release go out before an app is even approved, and that makes it disappointing for everybody. ”

Pleasing the Customers

“When you are subsisting off of a trickle of customers, their support emails and feature requests are difficult to ignore, so you start thinking about features to add in the next update,” says Phill Ryu, CEO and co-founder of Impending, and co-creator of Clear for iPhone.

Ryu says this plan of action is usually a bad idea, because adding an extra feature that might add value for 30% of your users is going to, in turn, take away value for the 70%.

“Your user has no idea what they’re supposed to do when they open your app, because your app has become a laundry list of things they don’t really need to do,” says Ryu

At the same time, Koppel says it’s important to understand that anyone can write a review, but that you need to listen closely to what your customers are saying.

“I believe that you’re going to hear more about what’s wrong with your app from a customer review than you are from your QA group, because they’re actually using the thing,” says Koppel. “If you’re hearing the same thing over and over in reviews, you have to listen and you have to adjust if you want to have customers.”

Development and Design

We asked these leaders in app development their thoughts on collaboration between designers and developers. It was a topic all felt strongly about. Here are a few things they advise you to consider:

“Getting the user-flows and interactions designed before you get busy with the actual development sounds obvious, but the decisions made at the design stage can ultimately determine your app’s success or failure. That’s not to say that crashes can be excused, but to dive in before you’ve refined (or finished) the app’s design would be reckless.”

- Nik Fletcher, product manager at Realmac Software

“We are very adamant that every project needs one person from each team, from the very beginning to the very end. We’ve even physically moved them in the office so that they can just roll over to the other person’s desk. The quality of apps improves by hoards of magnitude when you have them solving the problem together, not separately. It’s something that has to happen, and if it doesn’t happen that way, you’re doing something wrong.”

- Rolando Garcia, head of technical production for ScrollMotion

“I personally like to start with the design first. In the very beginning of iPhone [app] development, I met with their head of developer relations who emphasized the importance of design in their own product development. Apple was not the first company to provide a mobile OS, apps, or a browsing experience — but it established an inflection point with the improvement in the design and user experience, making mobile an easy and fun experience.”

- Kevin Nakao, President and COO for White Pages, Inc

Series supported by Sourcebits

The Mobile App Trends Series is supported by Sourcebits, a leading developer of applications and games for all major mobile platforms. Sourcebits has engineered over 200 apps to date, with plenty more to come. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iPhone, Android and more. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out how we can help your app stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci, Flickr, laihiu, konch, BeholdingEye,Oxford

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Aziz Ansari’s ‘First Date’ Is a Fail in American Express’s First Sync TV Ad [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 10:16 AM PDT

Aziz Ansari‘s doomed exploits to impress a date fuel American Express’s first TV ad for its Sync program.

In the ad, which is set to break Wednesday night, the comedian becomes smitten with a girl named Jessica and then looks up her “Likes” on Facebook.

Using AmEx’s “Link, Like, Love” program and Sync via his smartphone, Ansari eventually purchases a tuba, a kayak, a modern art painting and a parachute. His plan hits a snag, though, when Jessica is running late and can’t meet him at his apartment. The quick-thinking Ansari then literally parachutes in to meet her at a restaurant, with his kayak, tuba and painting in tow.

“It’s too much,” she decides.

The TV spot comes after AmEx has marketed Sync at social media savvy consumers at South By Southwest, among other venues. The program awards discounts to card holders who link their social network accounts at Earlier this month, AmEx added a Twitter component which offers discounts for tweeting promotional hashtags.

The premiere of the TV spot coincides with an offer Wednesday for $2 off a Redbox rental via AmEx if you check in via Foursquare.

Ansari, meanwhile, just released a web-based a one-hour comedy special titled Dangerously Delicious last week. The Parks and Recreation star hasn’t released sales figures for that special yet, but says he’s very happy with the response so far.

BONUS: Jay-Z Rocks SXSW at American Express Twitter Event

American Express pimped its Sync initiative at South by Southwest by roping in Jay-Z for free concert and inviting AmEx cardholders with SXSW badges to the show.

Jay-Z Performs at SXSW

A sea of camera phones lit up Jay-Z's free concert Monday night at South by Southwest during an event for American Express's new Twitter-based discounts program.

Although the show at Austin City Limits Live was reserved for AmEx cardholders with SXSW badges, American Express offered a livestream to the masses. The footage is still available to watch here.

AmEx pimped its recently announced Twitter initiative, which allows AmEx members to sync their cards to their Twitter account for hashtag-related savings, at the concert venue.

Photo by Brandon Fuller

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More About: american express, aziz ansari, celebrities, humor, trending

Martha Stewart Sets Up House in Zynga Facebook Game CastleVille

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 09:46 AM PDT

Martha Stewart is setting up house on Facebook.

From now until mid-April, players of Facebook game CastleVille will be able to interact with a virtual (and much younger-looking) caricature of the American entrepreneur, TV personality and author through a partnership between Martha Stewart’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and online gamemaker Zynga.

CastleVille players will soon receive invites from Stewart to visit her “kingdom,” designed after her home and gardens in Bedford, New York. They’ll also be able to participate in an Easter egg hunt and crafting party on the grounds.

Although Zynga declined to disclose the terms of the partnership, it appears to be cross-promotional. The deal gives Stewart the opportunity to spread awareness of her brand among CastleVille‘s existing user base of 26 million. In a release statement, Stewart indicated that she would be encouraging her own fans to partake in the game as well.

SEE ALSO: Zynganomics: 4 Secrets of the Social Gaming Business Model

Of the many branded integrations we’ve seen with Zynga, this appears to be the most extensive. Recently, the company began experimenting with "reward advertising,” letting CityVille players earn energy by interacting with sponsors including Coca-Cola.

BONUS: 20 Amazing Sketches Created on the ‘Draw Something’ Game

In other Zynga news, the company recently acquired Draw Something creator OMGPOP this month for $180 million. Draw Something has taken over the social streams of thousands with stick figures and crazy sketches.


by Rory B

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More About: CastleVille, Facebook, Martha Stewart, Zynga

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Samsung Ships 5 Million Galaxy Notes in 5 Months

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 09:24 AM PDT

Samsung announced on Wednesday that it has shipped more than 5 million units of its part-phone, part-tablet device, the Galaxy Note.

Samsung revealed on the company’s Korean site that more than 5 million Galaxy Note devices have been shipped to retailers and other partners since its October launch. However, Samsung didn’t reveal how many of those shipped products have been purchased.

In October, Samsung unveiled its 5.3-inch, Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” smartphone, which doubles as a tablet. It also comes with a stylus pen for drawing and note-taking. It originally debuted in Europe and has since become available for purchase in the U.S from AT&T, one of the few phones that can run on the carrier’s high-speed LTE network. It's expected to receive an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future.

The device had many scratching their heads as to whether consumers would want to carry around a device that serves as both smartphone and tablet, but these numbers appear to indicate there is a demand.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note Breaks the Size Barrier for Phones [REVIEW]

However, looking at Samsung’s flagship device, the Galaxy S, it achieved the same amount of shipments in just 85 days.

Samsung has previously said sales of Galaxy Note are on the rise in Europe and Asia, particularly in France, Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"The rapid global sales of Galaxy Note are notable since it is creating a new market for something between smartphone and tablet PC," the company said in December. "The speed of the global sales is expected to accelerate further next year when it will be available in the US."

In December, Samsung said it shipped more than one million Notes worldwide nearly two months after its debut.

"One million global shipping of Galaxy Note means it has well positioned itself as a market creator," Samsung said at the time. "Samsung will continuously strengthen its leadership in the global smartphone market as well as create new markets with innovative devices."

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr,

Samsung Galaxy Note Box

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More About: android, Galaxy Note, Mobile, samsung, Samsung Galaxy Note, smartphones, tablets

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