Monday, 30 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 16 News Updates - including “B&N Spins Off Nook Business Into a New, Microsoft-Backed Venture”

Mashable: Latest 16 News Updates - including “B&N Spins Off Nook Business Into a New, Microsoft-Backed Venture”

B&N Spins Off Nook Business Into a New, Microsoft-Backed Venture

Posted: 30 Apr 2012 04:52 AM PDT

Confirming its recent announcement about the possible Nook business spinoff, Barnes & Noble has entered a strategic partnership with Microsoft in a new Barnes & Noble subsidiary, focused on ebooks.

The new company, which will marry B&N’s digital and college businesses, doesn’t have a name yet.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will invest $300 million at a $1.7 billion valuation. B&N will own approximately 82.4% of the new subsidiary.

Customers will soon see benefits from the partnership in the form of a Nook application for Windows 8. Of course, users of other Windows devices will benefit as well.

"Our complementary assets will accelerate e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices, enabling people to not just read stories, but to be part of them," said Andy Lees, President at Microsoft.

B&N puts special emphasis on the educational element of the partnership. “The Nook Study software will provide students and educators the preeminent technology platform for the distribution and management of digital education materials in the market,” says B&N in the announcement.

More About: barnes & noble, barnes and noble, microsoft

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Mashable Weekend Recap: 41 Stories You Might Have Missed

Posted: 30 Apr 2012 03:43 AM PDT

The weekend flew by here at Mashable, where we encountered a variety of stories and topics. Taking those topics and creating features, reviews, roundups, videos and posts for you resulted in this burgeoning Mashable Weekend Recap.

Missed all the fun? Understandable, especially when there was a wonderful slate of mid-spring weekend activities happening all over the world. Not to worry, because all the stories we covered over the past couple of days are easy to find, right here on this page.

So go out there and make it another productive and enjoyable week, but begin by starting things off right with these 40 memorable and engaging stories we published for you over the weekend:

News & Opinion Essentials

Future of TV Apps, A Sensitive and Popular Topic [VIDEO]

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

Magazines Get Serious About Ecommerce

Historic Navy Ship and CIA Barge to be Auctioned for $100,420

5 Startups Using Tech To Do Good

Do People Really Want Self-Driving Cars? [VIDEO]

Apple 'Sidesteps' Billions in Corporate Taxes, NY Times Reports

Interest in Pinterest Reaches a Fever Pitch [INFOGRAPHIC]

Where CISPA's Going: Everything You Need to Know

8 New Apps You Don't Want To Miss

Researchers Create Glare-Free Self-Cleaning Glass [VIDEO]

How Samsung Became The World's Top Handset Vendor

Winklevoss Twins Start Up a Venture Capital Firm [VIDEO]

The iPhone Almost Had a Physical Keyboard [REPORT]

The Hobbit's 48 FPS Format Ruins Film's Artistry, Previewers Complain

Google Maps Adds More 3D Goodness with Parallax Views [VIDEO]

Apple Flirting with Epix for Streaming Video From 3 Major Studios [VIDEO]

Women Are More Likely Than Men to Have a Blog, Facebook Profile [STUDY]

At the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Tech is in the House

Free Online Human Translation Service Takes On Babelfish, Google Translate

Forget Emoticons — Skype Wants You to Use 'Humoticons'

HelloFax Turns Google Drive Into a Fax Machine

George Zimmerman's Website Closes After He Raises $204,000

Watch Leonard Nimoy Welcome Space Shuttle Enterprise to New York [VIDEO]

Jack White Concert Asks Viewers to Create Digital Photo Mosaic

Falling Bear Fallout: Student to Sue School Paper over Viral Photo

Yahoo Escalates Patent War With Facebook

Helpful Resources

Students Studying Abroad: Take Advantage of Video Job Interviews/a>

7 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Business Computers

51 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

How to Leverage Applicant Tracking Systems To Land a Job

Top 6 Mashable Comments This Week

5 Tips for Great Content Curation

How to Maximize Your Facebook Engagement

SEE ALSO: All the Weekend Recaps Ever Published

Weekend Leisure

25 Most-Followed Users on Instagram [PICS]

12 Funniest 'Animals Being Dicks' [GIFS]

JoeyBra: The Perfect Under-the-Shoulder Smartphone Holder? [VIDEO]

Pokémon Art Tumblr Reimagines 151 Original Characters [PICS]

Top Health and Fitness Apps to Improve Your Workout and Diet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Google Maps Cube Game is Live Now, You Should Play It

Here’s last week’s Weekend Recap.

More About: Weekend recap

Nokia Looks to Sell Vertu Brand for $265 Million [REPORT]

Posted: 30 Apr 2012 01:43 AM PDT


Nokia is in advanced talks to sell its UK-based luxury brand Vertu to private equity group Permira, the Financial Times reports citing sources familiar with the matter.

If the sale goes through, Nokia might raise some €200 million ($265 million).

Permira is a European private equity firm which advises funds with a committed capital of approximately €20 billion.

Vertu is a luxury brand which sells limited edition devices with prices as high as several hundred thousand dollars.

Those $265 million won’t save Nokia, but it will definitely come in handy for the Finnish giant, which recently reported a $1.8 billion loss for Q1 2012.

[via Financial Times]

More About: Nokia, Vertu

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JoeyBra: The Perfect Under-the-Shoulder Smartphone Holder? [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 04:07 PM PDT

A night out dancing is always so much better when you don’t have to hang on to a clunky purse.

College girls want to avoid carrying items to parties at all costs. Two Washington college students have created a pushup bra specifically for carrying a smartphone, credit cards, IDs, money and keys. The JoeyBra features a pouch on the left side of the bra underneath a woman’s left armpit. The creators compared the pouch to a kangaroo’s. A phone and other small items easily fit into the pocket and can be covered by clothing.

Mariah Gentry and Kyle Bartlow, both junior business students at the University of Washington, said the JoeyBra was inspired by the school’s “vibrant Greek system.” Bartlow said on the site that he has seen too many girls asking for contact information on Facebook after they lost or destroyed their smartphones during a weekend out on the town.

“From our own personal experience, we know that women hate taking purses to dances, bars, or dance clubs,” the JoeyBra creators said on their website. “Leaving these items at home can pose a safety risk, but with JoeyBra women will never have to worry losing or damaging their valuables again.”

The duo launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $4,000 in funding by May 19. So far, 60 people have backed the JoeyBra and the campaign has raised $3,145. Those who donate $30 or more will receive a JoeyBra.

So, ladies — would you wear a JoeyBra? I think this gadget is great for drunk college students, but maybe not for professionals. Reaching under my arm to check a text or grab cash may look weird, and pulling my iPhone out of my bra at a professional event doesn’t seem classy. Tell us what you think in the comments.

More About: fashion

Light Painting: 7 Stunning Works of Art [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 03:45 PM PDT

“Light painting” is a photographic technique that uses a light source and long exposure to create the effect of “painting” with light. As with other forms of animation, it can be used very creatively as it’s not limited by “reality.”

German collective LICHTFAKTOR are pioneers in this technique. The team has created clips ranging from multi-national collaborations with other artists to adverts for major brands. We asked one of the LICHTFAKTOR crew, Marcel Panne, about this exciting medium.

“Light painting is teamwork, and combines many disciplines (photographer, painter, light source),” Panne told Mashable. “For us, it’s always a challenge to develop a painting that fits to the space, by color, shape and content.”

SEE ALSO: Animator Creates Incredible Musical Painting With $5 iPad App [VIDEO]

We have selected seven videos that show LICHTFAKTOR has more than risen to this challenge. Some of the clips have won awards; others have enjoyed viral success. We asked why Panne thought the videos were so popular.

“Because of the look of light, and that they are handmade, it’s not a cheesy computer effect,” said Panne. “They are always unique, dynamic, energetic, colorful and somehow magic, and people like that.”

Take a look through the video gallery for the stunning clips we are showcasing. Let us know your thoughts on light painting in the comments below.

1. Star Wars vs. Star Trek

LICHTFAKTOR's first big success came with this amusing short shot for a UK TV broadcaster.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, art, features, photography, videos, YouTube

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25 Most-Followed Users on Instagram [PICS]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 03:21 PM PDT

25. Jason Mraz

Username: Jason_Mraz Followers: 363,621 Number of Pictures: 254

Click here to view this gallery.

The big guns on Instagram have seen their number of followers spike tremendously since the startup exited its iPhone-only stage and released its much-anticipated Android app on April 3.

Up until that point, Instagram had been downloaded 27 million times and only two users had more than 1 million followers — pop stars Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.

Days later, Facebook bought the photo-sharing app for $1 billion, attracting massive attention to Instagram.

Instagram now approaches 50 million downloads, and three more users are in the 1-million-followers club.

SEE ALSO: Meet @TextInstagram — Instagram Without Photos | Animation Mocks Instagram Fans

The gallery above counts down the app’s 25 most-followed users, excluding Instagram’s account, which has 1.8 million followers.

What are some of your favorite users to follow? Let us know in the comments.

Images from; numbers from Web.Stagram

More About: apps, celebrities, Entertainment, features, instagram, justin bieber, Lists, mobile apps, photography, trending

Magazines Get Serious About Ecommerce

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 03:15 PM PDT

Magazine publishers are rapidly getting serious about ecommerce.

Earlier this month, Time Out New York, a weekly print and digital magazine covering entertainment in New York City, began selling event tickets through its website and iOS apps. And last week, Hearst-owned Real Simple magazine released a mobile gift guide that allows users to shop directly from the app. The next day, Elle magazine launched a shoppable trend guide on Facebook that encouraged users to make purchases on advertisers’ websites.

These initiatives are enabling lifestyle magazines to explore new revenue streams as their mainstay moneymaker, print advertising, continues to decline.

It’s about time. Online retailers, as we’ve explored, have been encroaching on magazines’ territory for years now. They’ve hired top magazine talent — for instance, former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl now directs editorial at Gilt Taste, and Esquire UK editor-in-chief Jeremy Langmead is the editor of Mr Porter — and paired them with retail veterans to develop a new kind of online shopping experience, one that uses magazine-like editorials and photo spreads to drive visitors to purchase.

At Gilt Taste, for example, a story and recipe for “perfectly tender chicken” is sidelined with links to purchase Poussin Chickens, $55.95 for a set of eight. A “how to” fashion spread features items that are two clicks from a shopping cart on Park & Bond.

These sites don’t come close to competing with lifestyle magazines in terms of depth and breadth of content, but they are getting there. Men could just as easily turn to Park & Bond or Mr Porter now for style advice and inspiration as Esquire or Details — and finish their shopping in one go.

Bridging the Editorial Divide

It’s been relatively easy for retailers to move into the content space, particularly because they haven’t had to entertain illusions of editorial objectivity. Editorial has from the beginning been posited as a bonus on these sites, a complement to the shopping experience designed to inspire and entertain shoppers.

Magazine publishers, on the other hand, have struggled to bridge this divide. How do you maintain readers’ trust once you begin recommending products for which you receive a cut of every sale? Or, in the case of Time Out New York, if you become a retailer yourself?

The trick, it appears, is to position it as a service. Vogue partnered with retailer Moda Operandi during New York Fashion Week last September to “enable” readers to pre-order fashions directly from the runway — a partnership that came about through the magazine’s close relationship with Moda’s executive team. (Cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo is also a contributing editor at Vogue.)

Real Simple‘s gift guide is positioned similarly. The app features about 50 products from a range of retailers. Instead of sending users to third-party websites to make multiple purchases — which is what the vast majority of magazines do with the products mentioned on their websites or on their apps — users shop and check out directly from the app in one seamless, time-efficient experience.

“We’re cutting the effort of having to hunt down the products [we recommend],” Real Simple editor-in-chief Kathleen Harris said in an interview with Mashable. “We’re offering that service on top of our great editorial.”

Disclosures were also essential for Vogue and Real Simple, since both receive(d) cuts of every sale.

Time Out New York‘s approach is slightly different. The weekly print-based publication has set up a ticket-selling shop as a separate entity, which users can access from a sidebar on

All of these seem to me like promising approaches: They’ve been smartly positioned, offering a range of merchandise without seeming to in any way compromise editorial integrity. Now we’ll have to see whether they’re profitable and how they evolve — and if they can move quickly enough into the space to outperform their retail-and-content competitors.

Image courtesy of Flickr, khawkins04

More About: conde nast, ecommerce, magazines, Media, mr porter, park & bond, real simple, Time Inc, vogue

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Top Health and Fitness Apps to Improve Your Workout and Diet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 03:04 PM PDT

If your smartphone isn’t already your best workout buddy, it might be in the future. Tracking your progress on a mobile app makes it easier to eat right, sleep well and push a workout harder.

The availability of health apps is climbing fast and the industry expects the number of health and fitness apps to quadruple between 2010 to 2016.

More than 40,000 health apps exist and are expected to bring in $1.3 billion in 2012, according to a Research2Guidance report.

Doctors Believe Using Health Apps Will Cut Down on Visits [INFOGRAPHIC]

Whether you’re a runner or need help tracking your food intake or sleep, HighTable has picked out must-have health apps in the infographic below.

Infographic created by High Table.

More About: apps, fitness, health

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 02:37 PM PDT

1. Brydge to Somewhere

This is not the first iPad keyboard case I've seen, but Brydge for iPad comes the closest to simulating a laptop when you partially surround your beloved tablet with its aerospace-grade aluminum. Its keyboard is just about close enough to get Apple's lawsuit lawyers fired up, and once you place the iPad into its hinge-like maw, you can tilt the screen back just like a laptop.

Click here to view this gallery.

We found a boatload of spectacular tech from which to choose this week, and strangely enough, futuristic and fascinating devices seemed to be coming at us in pairs.

What do we mean by that? We found a pair of bridges, one for an iPad and one for computers, a pair of inventions that involve passive cooling, a couple of items that involve vapor in mysterious ways, a pair of high-tech pins, and then two speedy conveyances that both relate in some way to Ferrari.

SEE ALSO: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week

Confused? Don’t be — you’ll love what we’ve discovered this week, finding only the coolest and most worthy technological advances, designs and products for your perusal, right here on Top 10 Tech This Week.

Here’s last week’s Top 10 Tech.

More About: green tech, Ivy Bridge, kickstarter, Top 10 Tech, trending

Students Studying Abroad: Take Advantage of Video Job Interviews

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 02:26 PM PDT

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Studying literature at Oxford or finance at the London School of Economics; strolling by the Siene or sunbathing on the Italian Riviera coast — these are all possibilities for the college student studying abroad. And these opportunities will give them experiences that will change their lives and memories that will last a lifetime. But is it worth it to study abroad if it means you'll be missing out on employment opportunities back home?

To put it simply, yes! Many organizations are now using video interviews to hire candidates instead of "old-fashioned" meetings, so take advantage of a remote interview. Teresa Tilles, a recruiter for Fairfax, Virg.-based Balfour Beatty Construction asserts, "Companies recruit at colleges all over the United States for positions everywhere. Students and companies are so computer-savvy and it makes sense, especially if students have to pay their way to an interview or are overseas for a semester but hoping to join the workforce when they return home."

Here are some things to consider when you’re interviewing remotely. Would you ever do a remote interview while abroad? Let us know in the comments.


As Tilles says, "It is often cheaper to record our interviews rather than fly the candidates in, put them up in hotels, add car rentals and meals. And vice versa, if candidates have to incur the expense to attend an interview/career fair, this is often easier on the wallet."

Another advantage of a video interview is that it makes it possible for both parties (the interviewer and the interviewee) to accommodate their schedules. The company decides what questions to ask the job seekers and puts them in the interview package. And when it's convenient for the applicant, he or she can open up the video interview module, record responses and submit them.

Are They Effective?

While meeting an employer in-person is the most effective way to make a first impression, video interviews are an adequate way to interface because it still promotes face-time. "It truly feels like an on-site interview, you can see the person, see their body language and see their professionalism," says Tilles.

Jennifer Flaa, the CEO of media training company Vettanna ToGo, agrees. She says that although video interviews are a new addition to the hiring process, the fundamentals of interviewing are the same. Poor body language and careless presentation can ruin a video interview as easily as they can derail a face-to-face conversation.

According to Flaa, you need to be yourself because you still want to project an authentic representation of you, a potential employee.

"Being self-conscious is your number one enemy," she explains. "It makes you nervous and it makes you act fake. Think about the questions, think about the other person, or imagine you are talking to a good friend who is nodding and agreeing with everything you say."

Candidates Can Breathe Easy

Even while abroad, jobseekers can have faith they won't be forgotten about. By utilizing key features such as recording answers to screening questions and creating a profile video, candidates can provide interested companies with a concrete and accessible video they can easily share and keep in place for future open positions.

The Wave of the Future?

"We just started a $1 billion project in Utah and interviewed students from George Mason University here in Fairfax a few months ago," says Tilles. "They met with our on-site human resources director and our company president, then we continued the interview via recordings with the vice president in Utah. He hired two students who interviewed this way and they start this summer."

If you're debating giving up the undeniable opportunities you have to enrich your life by studying abroad so that you won't be the last one in your class to be hired, end your internal argument and go. After all, can you think of a better way to job hunt then turning on your laptop while sitting at a café in Paris, eating a croissant in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower?

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: college students, features, job search series, mashable, video interviews

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12 Funniest ‘Animals Being Dicks’ [GIFS]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 01:34 PM PDT

Here at Mashable we sometimes get a brain itch that can only be scratched by watching copious amounts of hilarious animal GIFs. If you suffer from the same ailment, let us point you in the direction of Animals Being Dicks, a place on the Internet where it’s okay to laugh at our furry friends.

The premise is simple: Animals are perfectly capable of cretinous behavior, and celebrating their wretchedness is a truly funny pastime.

We asked creator and curator John Williams why he thought his Tumblr blog hit the nail on the humor head. “People like to imagine human traits in animals, and I think this idea that animals have the capacity to be petty assholes on purpose is hilarious,” he says. “That’s why most of the animals have people names like Rick or Janice. Also, my dad used to name all his pets distinctly human names. We had a dog named Dan.”

SEE ALSO: First World Problems: 14 Cringe-Worthy Complaints

We asked Williams to curate his top 12 Animals Being Dicks GIFs. You can see his selections — along with his commentary — in the gallery below. Let us know in the comments below your go-to place online for animal-themed chortles.

1. Purrkour

"It's the toes on this one that do it for me."

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Ryan M.

More About: features, gallery, humor, trending, tumblr

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5 Startups Using Tech To Do Good

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 12:54 PM PDT

In our social entrepreneurship series, The World at Work, Mashable interviews the faces behind the startups and projects that are working to make a global impact.

By harnessing the power of digital technology, these five companies have altered commonplace models such as crowdfunding and toy development to change the world for the better. While the companies are diverse, they share a common thread: A passionate leader who’s devoted to improving lives.

Here’s a roundup of featured projects from the last week, including exclusive video interviews with the founders of these innovative startups. To read more and watch the videos, click through to the full story, and follow the series to learn about more breakthrough companies.

1. Skillshare

Big Idea: Skillshare provides an online hub for people to sign up to teach or attend offline classes.

Why It’s Working: Skillshare allows anyone to teach a class — and make money while doing so. Users choose to learn topics in five main categories at very little cost: creative arts, culinary arts, entrepreneurship, lifestyle and technology.

Read the full story here.

2. Indiegogo

Big Idea: Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform that also helps users amplify their project through a special “gogofactor.” The more traction a campaign gains, the more eyes will see it.

Why It’s Working: Indiegogo relies on “user democracy” — anybody can raise money for anything, and the power of the funders help dictate what catches fire and ends up on the website’s homepage. The result is that those looking for funding can reach new audiences to help get their work realized.

Read the full story and see the video here.

3. Love With Food

Big Idea: Love With Food is asubscription-based online food gourmet delivery service that sends tasty morsels directly to your door. For every box of treats it delivers, Love With Food donates an equivalent amount of money to a local food bank.

Why It’s Working: Smaller food producers often have trouble affording marketing and distribution services, and one in every five American children are going hungry. Love With Food is helping to solve both of those problems in one fell swoop.

Read the full story here.

4. Zaarly

Big Idea: Zaarly is a marketplace for anything — whether you want to send your wife flowers, have someone bring you dinner or need someone to mow your lawn. Sellers are hiring locally and keeping money within the community, while providers are putting money in their pockets.

Why It’s Working: Zaarly enables anyone to become an entrepreneur — whether you want to pick up some extra cash or be a full-time Zaarly user, the platform empowers people in Zaarly markets to get things done. And if you’re a small business that needs a little bit of help doing errands or filing paperwork, there’s an eager person waiting for you on Zaarly.

Read the full story and see the video here.

5. Jerry the Bear

Big Idea: Jerry the Bear is a robotic teddy bear that “has” diabetes. Children are able to take care of Jerry by checking his blood glucose levels, giving him “insulin shots” and “feeding” him a variety of foods.

Why It’s Working: Targeted specifically to children living with type 1 diabetes, Jerry helps sick kids not only learn about the procedures that are performed on them daily but also empowers them to understand the importance of symptom-checking and self-care.

Read the full story here.

What do you think of the efforts of these startups and foundations? Let us know in the comments below.

More About: features, mashable, World at Work

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Do People Really Want Self-Driving Cars? [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 12:13 PM PDT

Who wants a self driving car? Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates conducted a study to find out who would be willing to buy a car with such futuristic features, and the reaction was certainly not unanimous. In this video, Adam Falk shows you a few self-driving cars and explains the results of the study.

With the emphasis on infotainment in new cars and the numerous distractions it brings, along with the burgeoning plague of texting drivers, this new technology can’t come a moment too soon, in our opinion.

How about you? Would you be willing to pay a few thousand dollars for features in your car that could, say, do the driving for you in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Or would you rather wait for others to fully test the technology before you get behind the wheel and do nothing?

More About: cars, self-driving car, study, Video

Apple ‘Sidesteps’ Billions in Corporate Taxes, NY Times Reports

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 11:36 AM PDT

The New York Times accused Apple of “sidestepping” billions of dollars in taxes by setting up subsidiary companies in tax-free or low-tax states and countries.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., uses a small office in state-tax-free Nevada to manage and invest its profits, allowing it to bypass California’s 8.84% corporate tax rate. Apple’s Nevada-based subsidiary asset management company is called Braeburn Capital.

Apple has taken its Reno approach worldwide, and the company’s ability to find legal tax loopholes around the world is functioning as a template for many transnational corporations. The tech giant reduces the amount of taxes it pays by routing its profits to offices in low-tax countries such as the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Citing government and corporate data, The New York Times reported that technology companies are often the least taxed. Corporate tax dodging is nothing new, but Apple’s low-profile offices raise discussion about who is picking up the slack for Apple’s lack of tax payments. Is the liability shifting to everyday taxpayers?

In a statement responding to the allegations, Apple told The New York Times it "pays an enormous amount of taxes, which help our local, state and federal governments. In the first half of fiscal year 2012, our U.S. operations have generated almost $5 billion in federal and state income taxes, including income taxes withheld on employee stock gains, making us among the top payers of U.S. income tax."

The New York Times findings are significant because it shows how Apple increases its already sky-high profit in its quest to become the most profitable company in the world — without paying the total amount of taxes the company is expected to pay based on its California location. It’s difficult to measure how much Apple and other corporations shell out in taxes because corporations are not required to publically disclose amount of taxes paid.

Although Apple didn’t disclose its amount of U.S. federal and state taxes paid, it did reveal in its last annual report that it paid $8.3 billion in worldwide taxes. That equals an 9% tax rate, compared with, for example, the 24% tax rate Walmart pays.

Apple contends it has not done anything illegal or unethical, telling the Times it “has conducted all of its business with the highest of ethical standards, complying with applicable laws and accounting rules." Then Apple used language it usually reserves for product hype, adding, "We are incredibly proud of all of Apple's contributions."

While Apple declined to comment to Mashable about its taxing practices, Robert Hatta, a former Apple employee who oversaw Apple's iTunes retail marketing and sales in Europe, gave The New York Times an example of how Apple pays lower taxes in Luxembourg instead of paying taxes to the U.S. Britain, France and many other countries.

“We set up in Luxembourg because of the favorable taxes," Hatta told The New York Times. "Downloads are different from tractors or steel because there's nothing you can touch, so it doesn't matter if your computer is in France or England. If you're buying from Luxembourg, it's a relationship with Luxembourg."

Meanwhile, Apple continues to net increasing profits. Last year the company raked in $34.2 billion. Most recently, Apple reported quarterly revenue of $39.2 billion ending March 31. iPhone and iPad sales dominated the company’s profits and showed huge growth from one year ago. In the second quarter of 2012, Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads. Apple’s tablet device sales soared high reaching an “151 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter” and iPhones sales increase by 88% compared to the year-ago quarter.

Is Apple doing the right thing?

Editor’s Note: We originally used the term “evade” when referencing the New York Times accusations against Apple, but the newspaper actually used the term “sidestepping.” The headline and text has been changed to reflect that, and we regret the error.

More About: apple, ipad, iphone, taxes, trending

Interest in Pinterest Reaches a Fever Pitch [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 10:36 AM PDT

Could Pinterest be the silver bullet for retailers on social media?  Pinterest is clearly resonating with online consumers in a big way.  To put it simply, customers who find a product via Pinterest are more likely to purchase it than those who find the product via other social networks.

SEE ALSO: 10 Video Tips for Businesses on Pinterest

Pinterest is hot. In fact, in March 2012 the site served up 2.3 billion page impressions to over 4 million unique visitors a day.

Who are these people? Why do Pinterest users respond so strongly to products that are pinned? This infographic from Tamba breaks down the stats, explaining why Pinterest is so powerful with its consumption-friendly audience.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto/Ultra Generic

More About: online businesses, pinterest, trending

Where CISPA’s Going: Everything You Need to Know

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 09:39 AM PDT

The House of Representatives changed, then passed, the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, late Thursday afternoon. As the dust settles, many are wondering where CISPA stands now and where it’s headed next.

Hey Mashable, what’s CISPA?

CISPA’s designed to let private business share information about cybersecurity threats with one another and with the U.S. federal government.

If, for example, Microsoft’s cybersecurity team detects a threat that might also have an impact on Facebook, Microsoft’s team could give Facebook’s people a call without worrying about legal barriers to that kind of communication. Microsoft could also give that heads-up to the federal government, and vice-versa.

Well, that sounds fine and dandy. Why’s CISPA controversial?

Privacy and civil liberties groups argue that CISPA would allow businesses such as Facebook to give the federal government (and the intelligence community) users’ private communications and other sensitive personal data.

The two parts of CISPA these groups consider most offensive are a national security clause and a liability clause. The first, they say, would allow CISPA to be used in any case where national security is deemed at risk — a potentially broad category. The second would protect any business that shares cybersecurity information from lawsuits — including suits from users who think their private information may have been shared without justification.

That’s not so great. How’d this bill pass the House?

CISPA’s authors, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), worked with civil liberties groups and companies such as Facebook and Microsoft to try to address everybody’s concerns with their cybersecurity legislation. That means a lot of stakeholders were included in the bill, generating strong support among private firms, cybersecurity experts and Congresspeople.

CISPA had more than 100 co-sponsors and a lot of business support before it came up to a vote — a strong sign that it was well on its way to passing.

You said CISPA was amended — so it’s fine now, right?

That depends on whom you’re asking.

Many businesses and cybersecurity experts welcome the legislation, because it allows them to team up against the Internet’s bad guys — who are coordinating to launch cyberattacks every day.

However, most privacy groups aren’t sold. One amendment that would’ve removed the national security clause while ensuring civilian oversight of data shared with the government under CISPA was blocked from debate by House leadership. Some companies that once applauded CISPA, such as Microsoft, have backed away from the bill.

Other amendments which tightened up language, restricted the type of information that can be shared with the government and gave the civilian-controlled Department of Homeland Security more oversight in the data-sharing process were debated and passed, but they didn’t go far enough to win over privacy groups’ support.

What’s next for CISPA?

CISPA’s headed to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where one of two things can happen: The Senate can vote CISPA up or down as it was passed in the House, or they can amend it further.

Privacy groups, such as the Center for Democracy and Technology, are betting the bill can be salvaged in the Senate’s amendment process. If that happens, the House and Senate would have to pass a bill that reconciles the differences between their two concepts. Should reconciliation prove successful, the bill would be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature — when it would become law.

Other cybersecurity bills are already gaining momentum in the Senate. Those bills take a different approach, though — they set cybersecurity standards for private companies to meet instead of instituting an information-sharing system. Conservative lawmakers argue that approach represents an unnecessary and dangerous intrusion of the government into cyberspace.

Does Obama have to sign CISPA if it passes the Senate?

Not at all. President Obama’s top advisors have said they’ll recommend he veto CISPA if it doesn’t include adequate privacy protections before it reaches his desk.

Is CISPA the next SOPA?

The debate around the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was about the balance between protecting intellectual property and preserving free speech, but CISPA is about having cybersecurity while preserving Internet users’ privacy.

Opposition to CISPA has yet to build to SOPA levels, but it’s starting to rise, especially on sites such as Reddit where the anti-SOPA community first came together. Threads advocating another SOPA-style blackout have more than one thousand comments. One anti-CISPA petition already has nearly 800,000 signatures.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: CISPA, cybersecurity, Politics, trending, US

7 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Business Computers

Posted: 29 Apr 2012 08:50 AM PDT

Chris Cope is CEO of SlimWare Utilities. The company is founded on the premise that cloud computing and crowd-sourced applications will revolutionize the performance of personal computing.

Few activities are more frustrating than staring at your old computer, helplessly willing it to move faster. In business, and especially when it comes to small businesses, a slow computer will not help your bottom line. Equally draining are the costs of constant visits from IT consultants and technicians.

While age is a commonly cited cause of slow PC performance, there are usually additional reasons. Many users have no idea that their computers are bogged down with unneeded applications, adware, cookies, and massive amounts of background processes. Left unaddressed, these issues hinder PC performance, decrease productivity, and increase the amount of time spent dealing with IT problems. So what can be done? Here are seven things.

1. Speed Up Boot Time

On average, more than 15% of programs that start automatically on computers are optional, which increases boot time. In addition, because these optional programs continue running in the background, they interfere with the ongoing performance of a computer. Lab testing showed that removing three resource-intensive startups decreased boot time by 41%. That’s equal to a 117 second improvement. By using a built-in utility called msconfig (in Windows, type "msconfig" in the search box located in the "Start" menu) you can sort through these startups and decide which ones are necessary, and which can be removed. If you are not sure which of these items are safe to remove, there are free tools available that can identify them for you.

2. Stay on Top of Your Updates

Software makers are constantly releasing new versions of a software you've already paid for. These updates can include enhanced features, and more importantly, patches against vulnerabilities. Microsoft, Adobe, Java, and others put out regular updates that contain bug fixes and help improve PC performance. In fact, vulnerabilities from using out-of-date software are one of the most common ways that malware infects a system. Software updates and patches often pop up automatically. Don’t put them off, and when possible, remember to manually check for updates.

3. Keep Your PC Clean of Junk

A computer can become cluttered with junk files, temp files, logs, and browser bloat very quickly. Junk like this can affect PC performance tremendously over time. This is especially true for computers using traditional hard drives (non-SSD). By committing to regular maintenance of your drives, you can save yourself from the hassle of a bogged-down system and the sluggish performance that accompanies it. Microsoft provides a free utility in Windows called "disk cleanup" that can perform some of the Windows-related cleaning. However, there are free tools that offer more options, like scheduling.

4. Get Rid of Extra Programs

Programs take up space, and if they don’t serve a specific purpose, they are essentially dead weight. This is also true of browser toolbars, plugins, and extensions. Here too, having a clear sense of what is not necessary, and then removing those items, is a big step in improving PC performance.

5. Defrag

Unless you have already upgraded to a solid-state hard drive, defrag your disk regularly. On hard drives, as you save and delete files, the data gets placed in "sectors" on the hard drive. This causes ‘fragmentation’ and can increase the time it takes for the computer to find the specific item you are looking for; defragmenting files on the disk will save your computer a great deal of time seeking what it needs.

6. Keep Your Computer Safe

Antivirus software is a critical component of any efficient computer system. AV software often comes pre-installed on new PCs, but it's up to the user to purchase or replace the pre-installed antivirus software. Great free alternatives such as AVG, Avast, and especially Microsoft Security Essentials are powerful substitutes if you are on a budget. Just be sure not to have two antivirus applications installed at the same time — a common cause of computer performance issues and crashes.

7. Accept That Less is More

When it comes to computer performance, one basic principle to follow is “less is more.” The less time your computer wastes sorting through unused programs, unnecessary start-ups, empty space, and malware, the more efficiently it will run. If manually maintaining your PC seems like an overwhelming task, there is a range of PC optimization software that you can download, often free, that will automate all of these tasks.

While the above steps will help improve PC performance, all computers eventually become obsolete. When buying a new model, follow these steps to address the same overload issues.

  • Check what’s already loaded. Although we assume that a new computer comes clean and ready to go, there are a great deal of items that are just unnecessary. Check to see what’s been pre-installed. Where possible, remove anything you know you won’t use.
  • Check the antivirus software. Most PCs come some version. Make sure you are comfortable with the product that's on your machine. If not, or you don't plan on paying for it, get a product you feel good about. Some good examples include, Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG, or Avast.
  • Check your drivers. Every new model will have a series of updates that are necessary to help sync your new computer with your pre-existing hardware — printer, scanner etc. Make sure that these connect smoothly and you will save yourself headaches and money.
  • Backup. After you finish cleaning your computer of items you don't need and installing all of the applications you do want, take a snapshot using imaging software and store it externally, so that if the unexpected happens (think hard drive failure) and you need to start over, you have a fresh image with everything ready to go.

  • Mice-a-Palooza

    More Microsoft mice than I've ever seen in one spot.

    Click here to view this gallery.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, iPandastudio

    More About: contributor, features, malware, PCs, trending

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