Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 18 News Updates - including “Norway Massacre Survivor Does Reddit Q&A”

Mashable: Latest 18 News Updates - including “Norway Massacre Survivor Does Reddit Q&A”

Norway Massacre Survivor Does Reddit Q&A

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 04:36 PM PDT

Anders Behring Breivik, the shooter behind Norway’s July 2011 massacre, is currently on trial in Oslo criminal court.

Thursday, while Breivik calmly explained how he gunned down and killed 69 people at a political youth camp on the island Utøya, a 17-year-old survivor of the attack held a Reddit Q&A.

The iAmA on Reddit paints a picture of what it was like during the attack. Breivik himself, however, has previously told the court that he practiced for the attack by playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

IAMA Utøya survivor

SeeArrJayDee: What was your first indication that something was amiss? Did somebody tell you, or did you see him? Stay strong!

Well, we had just had a meeting in the main building about what had happened in Oslo when we heard the first shots. And when suddenly people started running up from the pier and was screaming/yelling “run, hide” etc, you understand something is wrong. But I did not understand the gravity of what was going on until right before I was transported away from the island and could really see everything.

alphanovember: At what point did you realize that Anders wasn’t a real cop?

When I saw him kill a person.

jkgator11: You say you saw him twice and heard him once. What was he saying/yelling? Did you witness any acts of heroism, such as people helping others escape? Or was it basically a giant free-for-all (everybody running to escape wherever they could?) My sincerest condolences for everything you’ve experienced.

He was yelling at one point telling everyone to come out from where they were hiding, (sorry for grammar mistakes), and that he was a police officer her to help us, I did not come forward. This was near the pump house, if you have heard about it, 15 people or so was murdered there. Where i was laying, there was a girl who was shot four times, she survived because of everyone around her was trying to help her, she was laying on top of one person so she would not get cold and there where two or three persons who where compressing her wounds.

suicidemachine: Are you still in touch with the rest of the survivors? How are they doing now? The Breivik case has just started, and apparently you will all have to tell everything in front of the court again. Will you handle it?

We are all coping as good as possible and try to keep in touch. I do not have to witness, since the line is drawn to those hit by projectile

audun0905: A friend of mine passed away that day, probably the most kind person i’ve ever met. Even though I know what happened, curiosity leads me to this question: Did you know Emil? (Nord Trønderlag). If so, how was he like? Did you see him before he passed away?

I never got the chance to get to know Emil, but I am from Nord Trøndelag, I did not see much of him during everything but I am aware of that he was murdered not far from me. After all I have heard about him I have come to the conclusion that when he died, Norway and the nation lost a great man. My condolences.

sortofheathery: This may be a bit personal, but if you had the opportunity to confront Breivik is there anything you wish you could tell him? Also, thank you to you and your fellow Norwegians for the civil way everyone has responded. It’s an attitude I wish more people in my country would emulate.

That I get why he did it, but I that I think that going after children, I consider myself still a child, is way beyond every other choice he could have chosen to prove his point.

IonZero: Was there a time that you thought he would find you and/or got near your hiding spot?

As i posted, he was 20 meters away from me when i was hiding. So yes, but he didn’t.

iamjacksprofile: Did you think you were gonna die? What was your emotional state during all this?

I never thought I was going to die. I had a defense mechanism saying it was all just a game. Hide and seek, more or less.

clburton24: How has this changed your life? How do you feel about Breivik and how they are choosing to punish him? Do they have capital punishment in Norway? What has helped you move on?

It has made me realize how precious life is. I think Breivik is a man that lives by what we Norwegians call the precautionary principle, and that there will never be any way of justify his actions, nor give him a punishment that will be good enough because one does not exist. And death would be to easy. We do not have capital punishment in Norway, a life sentence here is 21 years, after that there will be a new trial, which determines whether someone released again. He on the other hand will not be released because he will always be a threat to the kingdom. I have coped with it all by going to a psychologist and “talked it over.”

antiliberal: I know it must be uncomfortable for you to recall but at any point during the ordeal did you actually see Breivik? Also, do you think there needs to be a revision of Norwegian law to allow for stricter penalties for crimes as awful as those of Anders Behring Breivik?

Well, firstly i saw him twice and heard him once. I do not believe that the penalty for his crime should be any other than for a “normal” murderer, if he got a stricter penalty for what he has done, he would have won. It would mean that he did change Norway, and that is the hole point about the trial, everyone knows he did it, there is enough evidence to get him sentenced immediately, but Norway is a democracy where everyone has the right to a fair trial.

Thumbnail courtesy of LINUZ90, Flickr

More About: reddit

Gamechangers: 5 Social Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 03:51 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 offered resources to women in need and used technology to make microfinance more streamlined. 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. Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action

A baby bottle on an iPhoneBig Idea: Providing new and expectant mothers in need with free health information via mobile phones.

Why It’s Working: In 2008, India had the most maternal-related deaths out of any other country, according to the Indian government. Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), works with low-income and at-risk mothers and families in India — as well as Bangladesh and South Africa, which are countries with high populations of mobile phone users — to provide vital health information through SMS text messaging and simple voice messages.

Read the full story here.

2. re:char

Big Idea: Utilize organic waste to create carbon-negative charcoal, a substance that pulls CO2 from the air and helps crops grow taller and stronger.

Why It’s Working: re:char‘s mission is about providing farmers — both at home and in developing countries such as Kenya — with conservation-oriented soil-boosting complexes that can double food output compared to traditional farming methods. The startup raised $6,000 and spread awareness on Kickstarter, and the 102 purchasing funders will be contributing data for re:char to analyze.

Read the full story and see the video here.

3. Mifos

Big Idea: Mifos is an open-source, back-end operating system — built and backed by a community — to track the many loans and payments involved in microfinance.

Why It’s Working: Mifos is a platform used by more than 30 microfinance institutions, which offer small loans to nearly 825,000 clients. Think of Mifos as Quicken for microfinance — it’s a streamlined, organized system, and it can help the sector scale and get people out of poverty. Mifos makes microfinance more fair (since it’s data-driven) and transparent, and it’s helped Grameen Koota grow its client base by 40%.

Read the full story here.


Big Idea: ARCHIVE (Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments) is an international 501(c)(3) charity that brings awareness to the relationship between poor housing and poor health.

Why It’s Working: By designing and implementing housing improvements, ARCHIVE can bring down rates of tuberculoisis, HIV and AIDS — a healthier community means a healthier economy. And it all started with a blog. “I felt that as an architect, I could do more than speak about important, thought-provoking issues — I could mobilize people and communities to act,” says Peter Williams, founder of ARCHIVE.

Read the full story here.

5. Project Noah

Big Idea: Project Noah harnesses the power of mobile to let users contribute to real scientific data and research.

Why It’s Working: Nature Deficit Disorder, the idea that children’s behavioral patterns are changing because they are spending less time outside, was introduced in Richard Louv’s 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. In short, screens replace the wonders of the natural world that used to provide children with hours of entertainment, leaving kids to wither indoors. Project Noah thinks that spending time exploring nature and time attached to screens don’t need to be mutually exclusive. The startup hopes to mobilize a new generation of nature lovers in a digital experience that’s entirely current. “Project Noah is what would have happened if Charles Darwin had created Foursquare,” says co-founder Yasser Ansari.

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

For more Social Good coverage:

Robot Red-Light Districts By 2050? [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 03:39 PM PDT

Robots are slowly taking over many human jobs — even those in the sex industry.

Two researchers from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand predict that robot prostitutes may be commonplace by 2050. The researchers, futurist Ian Yeoman, and sexologist Michelle Mars, say the robot sex trade could result in positive shifts in society.

“The futuristic scenario of sex tourism suggests android prostitutes will reign supreme, eliminating the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections in an industry free from sex slavery,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Robots, Men And Sex Tourism, a paper the duo published in the journal Futures, envisions a robot sex club in Amsterdam called “Yub-Yum,” and robot red-light districts. Clients would pay about $9,500 to have their way with one of the various sex robots, offered in a variety of ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features, the article continues. “All androids are made of bacteria resistant fibre and are flushed for human fluids, therefore guaranteeing no Sexual Transmitted Diseases are transferred between consumers."

“Virtual sex, changing behaviors and what is science fiction and reality is a blurred paradigm of liminality,” they write in the study.

What do you think about this prediction? How plausible is this scenario? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, bessy

More About: futurism, robots, sex tourism

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Nyan Cat Gets a Soundtrack Album [REVIEW]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 03:19 PM PDT

Nyan Cat has just gotten its paws on a belated birthday gift: music tailor-made for the 8-bit animated feline.

The Nyan Cat Adventure Soundtrack hit iTunes this week, giving avid fans seven new songs to get their fix of the Pop-Tart-shaped viral sensation. Nyan Cat turned 1 on April 5.

21st Street Games released the soundtrack to accompany its adventure game, which is compatible on iOS devices and the Xbox.

The titles of each of the 7 tracks — such as “Afternyan Delight,” “Nyantendo Approved” and “Taking Over the Nyaniverse” — are as playful as the retro-tinted music itself.

You don’t have to be a Nyan Cat lover to enjoy the ear candy. The bass-filled “Meganyan” had me bopping side to side in my office chair and envisioning how it would fit into my workout playlist. And parts of the opening theme brought back memories of the Tetris tune.

In short, it’s well worth the $6.93 asking price for a total 13 minutes of goodness.

The soundtrack’s audio designer, Kevin Salchert, says the music captures the essence of the original Nyan Cat tune from the YouTube video that now has 71 million views.

“The art direction for the project was completely 8-bit, so the music followed along with that,” Salchert told Mashable. “Once the Nyan theme had been created, we decided we were going to create an entire 8-bit soundtrack that paid homage to the iconic 8-bit tracks back when 8-bit was the only way to go.”

"It was always the intention to stay true to the original Nyan meme. The result was a soundtrack that was definitely 8-bit-era inspired, but with a modern twist.”

Salchert produced the music in two weeks using Apple’s Logic Studio instruments and retro 8-bit samples.

“I really wanted to stay true to the hardware limitations composers faced when composing 8-bit tracks, both in terms of what waveforms could be produced as well as the limitation on polyphony,” he says.

“It was actually really fun, because what I thought at first would be a limitation actually turned out to be an opportunity to get creative with the sound design of the instruments.”

Illustrator Chris Torres introduced Nyan Cat to the masses last year on YouTube. The clip has since spawned a slew of remixes, products and video games.

“We were fortunate enough to have Chris give us have a lot of creative freedom with the project,” Salchert says. “It was always the intention to stay true to the original Nyan meme, but at the same time we wanted to give it a very distinctive 21st Street Games touch.”

The soundtrack also will be available on Spotify sometime soon.

BONUS: Meme-Inspired Movie Posters — Including One of Nyan Cat — for Sale

London-based designer Stefan van Zoggel has put five of his 29 meme-inspired movie posters on the market. The 23-by-33-inch posters for these memes each cost €40 ($52), shipping included: Nyan Cat, Leave Britney Alone, Fenton, Trololo and Paul the Octopus.

Meme Movie Posters

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Gaming, humor, memes, Music, nyan-cat

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Space Shuttle’s New York Arrival Delayed by Bad Weather

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 03:13 PM PDT

Bad news, New York City-based space enthusiasts: You’ll have to wait a few more days before Space Shuttle Enterprise takes to the skies over Gotham.

NASA was planning to fly the shuttle to New York on Monday morning, but bad weather might delay the event until at least next Wednesday. It turns out weather delays can ruin shuttle missions even when they’re not bound for space.

“To ensure a safe flight for Enterprise and the SCA,” said NASA in a statement, “NASA managers, in consultation with the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, decided Friday to delay the flight because of inclement weather predicted in both New York and Washington, where the flight will originate.”

Enterprise has been living at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. The Smithsonian recently acquired space shuttle Discovery, and Enterprise is being sent to New York’s Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum.

The shuttle will be carried to New York atop a modified Boeing 747, which will tour the skies above Manhattan before landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Discovery made a similar aerial trek over Washington, D.C. earlier this week.

Mashable will be on the scene when Enterprise makes its final flight.

Enterprise was the first shuttle ever built — but it was only a prototype. Without heat shields or engines, spaceflight would’ve been impossible for the aircraft.

Photo courtesy of Richard B. Almon

More About: NASA, new york, space, space shuttle, Tech

Smartphone Graphics to Soon Surpass Xbox 360? [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 02:32 PM PDT

Want your phone’s graphics to match those of top gaming systems such as the Xbox 360? Just wait until about 2014 when graphics hardware giant NVIDIA estimates that smartphone graphics might whip those of the popular gaming console.

According to a chart showing yearly graphic performance of console, PC, and mobile devices, it looks like your smartphone could soon host the same type of graphics processing unit (GPU) as the Xbox 360.

Apple’s new iPad, with its stunning Retina display, makes games such as Infinity Blade Dungeons look even crisper. But could your smartphone replace your Xbox gaming system? Maybe not yet — at the moment this is just speculation. Plus it’s been six years since Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have updated their consoles. It’s possible sharper graphics are on everyone’s “to-do” list.

Would you prefer to play games on your smartphone, console or both, if the graphics were both top-notch? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, svariophoto

More About: Gaming, infographics, smartphones, xbox

10 Office Gadgets to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 02:26 PM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

With the breadth of innovations in green technology, it seems that we should all have solar-powered laptops by now. Unfortunately, that’s yet to be the case. In the meantime, there are a number of easy, more affordable ways you can reduce your carbon footprint in the office.

Eco-friendly products have been a hot trend for manufacturers and consumers for some time now. This year, tech companies are doing their part by committing more time and attention to better sustainability, whether that’s developing greener products or forging social good partnerships. You can contribute to the cause by greening your office with sustainable gadgets and goods.

We’ve rounded up 10 eco-friendly products that are perfect for your office desk or commute. What sustainable product are you using during the workday? Let us know in the comments.

1. Laptop Bag

Greensmart makes laptop sleeves, messenger bags and bookbags that are made of recycled plastic bottles. Cost: $24.99 to $59.99

Click here to view this gallery.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Should Small Businesses Follow Everyone Back on Twitter?
- Are You Falling into the Pricing Trap?
- How to Innovate for Top Social Media Sites

Image courtesy of iStock, mbortolino

More About: features, green tech, mashable, office, office gadgets, open forum, trending

9 Digital Ways to Make a Difference This Earth Day

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 02:00 PM PDT

Are you busy preparing for Earth Day this Sunday? Are you worried that you’ll end up being a slacktivist when it comes to saving the planet? Don’t fret — there’s plenty you can do to make a real difference, even if it’s only from your computer or mobile device.

Check out the following ways you can use digital channels to get involved this year.

1. Plant Trees Through Catalog Spree

Catalog Spree, an eco-friendly app for catalog shopping on the iPad, has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation, a non-profit conservation and education organization dedicated to planting trees. The Arbor Day Foundation will plant one tree for every download of Catalog Spree during the month of April as part of an “Earth Month” initiative.

Download the app here.

2. Fundraise via Edward Norton’s Green Earth Day Challenge

Actor Edward Norton is the United Nations goodwill ambassador for biodiversity, and he’s teaming up with Groupon this Earth Day for an “Earth Day Challenge.” If you’re passionate about a green cause, put together a team and start a fundraising campaign through Norton’s online crowdfunding platform, CrowdRise. The team that raises the most money will win a $25,000 check from Groupon for their organization, and the second and third winning teams will receive $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, for their organizations. But when you think about it, everyone wins from this challenge — each team is generating green ideas and money.

At the time of the press release, the participating organizations include Conservation International, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Global Green, Conservation Lands Foundation, Friends of the Virgin Islands Nation Park, Wiser Earth and National Wildlife Humane Society.

Contest instructions and rules are here, but get going! The contest ends May 15.

3. Recycle E-waste Through HP and Staples

Recycle Keyboard

On April 12, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Staples announced a free recycling program that allows consumers across the United States to recycle their electronics easily and free.

Customers can drop off their technology for recycling at the service desk of their local Staples store. Staples will collect the devices and consolidate them at its distribution centers, where a certified e-Stewards and R2 recycler will arrange to have the materials transported to one of its processing centers.

4. Play a Social Game for Social Good

Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is a new ecologically-minded Facebook game inspired by Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Players are part of the Global Wildlife Research team, an international organization of conservationists, environmentalists and naturalists. The game has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute, a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.

In honor of Earth Day, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has pledged to donate 20 cents to the Jane Goodall Institute for the DisneyNature Tchimpounga Natural Reserve project for every install and tutorial completion by players referred from the URL The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has pledged to donate up to $250,000 until April 26. Every player makes a difference.

5. Support the Earth, One Inch at a Time

TerraYebo, a for-profit social enterprise with a focus on “doing well by doing good,” has launched, a website with patent-pending technology allowing anyone to claim any square inch of the planet for $1 to support worldwide causes and non-profit organizations.

In recognition of Earth Day and National Park Week (April 21-29), TerraYebo has partnered with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, which proceeds from will help support.

6. Let Cuteness Educate You About Endangerment

Giant Panda Cub

It’s believed that fewer than 1,600 giant pandas currently exist in the world. That’s why will be releasing a new live feed of five giant panda cubs on Earth Day. "There is something magical and inspiring about watching panda cubs interact with each other in real-time,” said’s founder, Charlie Annenberg, in a press release. “The hope is that by viewing these cams, people will develop deeper emotional connections not just to the bears, but also to the planet. Once someone has fallen in love with the world again, he or she is more likely to be a better steward of it," he added.

There are links on to help you donate to different causes, and you can share the videos with your networks to spread awareness. Watch the live feed here.

7. Go Green With Google Maps

You’ve probably used Google Maps before, but have you used it to go green? The Biking Directions feature is available in over 200 U.S. cities and in nine Canadian regions, illustrating bike lanes, hills and route suggestions, making it easier to leave your gas guzzler behind.

Google Transit can map the quickest public transit routes in more than 470 cities around the world. And if you want to carpool and avoid traffic, the Traffic layer displays real-time traffic conditions on your route. As an extra perk for those of you who drive electric vehicles, you can easily find electric vehicle charging stations by typing "ev charging station in [your city]" directly into Google Maps.

8. Teach Kids About Conservation With Discovery Education

The Nature Conservancy, the leading conservation organization working in more than 30 countries to protect the environment for future generations, has partnered with Discovery Education to launch Nature Works Everywhere, an online destination that teaches younger generations the importance of environmental conservation.

Nature Works Everywhere provides teachers, students and families with free resources to explore and understand nature.

9. Sell a Book, Save a Tree With Lulu Publishers

Digital Tree is an open publishing platform, helping authors and artists create work in multiple formats and markets and helping buyers find the content they need. They’ve always been keen on staying green, using the latest in print-on-demand and e-book technology and utilizing a global network of printers to help cut down the carbon imprint from shipping books.

For Earth Day, Lulu is hosting a sales contest for authors to sell the most books between April 18 and April 25 — winners receive some sweet prizes, but best of all, Lulu will plant a tree for every contest entry received.

What are you doing for Earth Day this year? Let us know in the comments.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, lightkeeper, teekid, SondraP, johnwoodcock.

More About: crowdfunding, earth day, environmentalism, Social Good, Tech

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 01:33 PM PDT

1. 9gagtweets

On the last day of Coachella weekend 1, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg stunned their audience when a hologram of Tupac Shakur suddenly appeared on stage for a short set of the deceased rapper's songs. Tupac's hologram also performed a duet with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. According to Time magazine, the hologram of Tupac, who was killed in 1996, was created by Digital Domain, which was also responsible for the visual effects in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. @9gagtweets (46.000+ followers) posted this image to Twitter as a reaction to the performance.

Click here to view this gallery.

The Twitter universe was lit up by the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this week, taking the top two spots in our Top 10 Twitter Pics list. An impressive 53 million photos blasted into our Top 10 Twitter Pics labs this week, and humor, hubris, memories and beauty ruled the roost.

How did we narrow down those zillions of Twitter pictures to this stellar top 10, you ask? We’re lucky to have the sharp team at Skylines on our side, using a custom algorithm that finds the most important and popular hashtags and then selects the most viral pics within.

SEE MORE: Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Making things clearer was the unequalled insight of Skylines analyst and writer Julie Donders (@IkbenJulie), adding her snappy commentary as captions for each pic.

So follow along if you dare, while we bring you the top 10 most explosive Twitter pics of the week.

In case you missed them, here are last week's Top 10 Twitter Pics.

More About: Coachella, rihanna, Skylines, Top 10 Twitter Pics, trending, Twitter

William Shatner Takes His Millionth Twitter Follower Out To Dinner [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 12:47 PM PDT

Following William Shatner on Twitter has its perks, at least if you’re the Star Trek star’s millionth follower.

Troy Pound from South Carolina was the millionth person to follow Captain Kirk, and in return he and his wife were recently treated to a dinner with man himself. Shatner had promised to take lucky one million out to dinner before he reached the number, a promise he made good on recently while traveling close to Pound in Charlotte, NC for his one-man show “Shatner’s World.”

Shatner posted a grainy cell phone video of the dinner, which occurred on Tuesday, on his YouTube channel. The star’s follower count has grown considerably since Pound hit the follow button, with close to 20,000 more people now following the Priceline negotiator.

While Pound boldly went where no Shatner fan has gone before, Shatner does regularly interact with his fans directly on Twitter and both reads and responds to tweets sent his way. The same night that he met with Pound and his wife he commented on his twitter stream "I just love that I can read people’s tweets in the audience just before the show."

Shatner regularly retweets messages from his followers and will often send personalized messages thanking them for kind words or attending one of his performances. The dinner outing was part of the performer’s 81st birthday celebration.

What do you think about Shatner heading to dinner with his millionth follower? Do you think other celebrities should follow suit and make an effort to meet some of their followers as well? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: Twitter, William Shatner

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Top 6 Mashable Comments This Week

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 12:01 PM PDT

This week Mashable readers posted thoughtful comments on a variety of articles. One of the posts that sparked a discussion was Tupac Shakur’s appearance as a 3D hologram at the music festival Coachella.

Our reader davidjdeal commented on the story, explaining how he believes holographic performances can add value by introducing newer generations to artists who are no longer with us.

Other topics that caught readers’ attention included Google’s rumored product Google Drive, the company’s cloud service the company is expected to introduce.

At Mashable, we're always on the lookout for thoughtful, insightful comments that add to our story or further the discussion. Take a look at this week's top comments and let us know what you think of the readers’ opinions.

BranchOut against LinkedIn

Jennf84 gives her insights on BranchOut and how it directly competes with LinkedIn for connecting professional networks.

Original comment seen on: LinkedIn's Biggest Competitor Is a Facebook App That Just Hit 25 Million Users

Click here to view this gallery.

If you haven't commented on a Mashable article before, check out Mashable Follow, our content curation and social tool, as well as our comment guidelines to learn more. We'd love for you to join the conversation.

More About: comments, community, mashable follow, top comments

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Brain Electrodes Could Mean Movement For Spinal Injury Patients [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 11:45 AM PDT

Imagine moving an object by simply thinking about that action. It’s not telepathy, but a recent development by researchers might give hope to patients with paralysis due to spinal cord injuries.

In a recent issue of Nature magazine, a team of researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University discovered they could control body movements using electrodes implanted in the brain, bypassing the spinal cord. Electrodes were implanted in the brains of two monkeys. The monkeys’ lower arms were injected with anesthetic, making them similar to paralyzed patients. The monkeys had been trained to throw a ball into a chute, but couldn’t grasp it with numb limbs. When the brain electrodes were activated, the monkeys could use their limbs to grab and throw the ball.

This development could perhaps allow paralysis patients to control bodily movements just by thinking about the desired action. This technology is called functional electrical stimulation (FES) and it causes the brain to command muscles to contract, making movement possible. Studies experimenting with FES have been done before and could be applied to victims of strokes, too.

Technology that uses the brain to command movements of one’s body, and other devices — simply by thinking — once seemed like something straight out of a science fiction movie, but in recent years researchers have brought that invention to reality. Although, all this mind-tapping technology does present the risk of getting out of control.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Firstsignal

More About: brain, electrodes, health science, medical science, Science

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44 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 11:29 AM PDT

Digital Green City

Have you been preparing for a successful Earth Day this whole week? Take a short break from planting trees and spreading awareness to catch up on our new digital media resources with our weekly features roundup.

This week, we’ve covered hot media trends you need to know, DIY mobile tips for small businesses and free alternatives to the now-defunct Picnik. We also have tips for beautifying your Pinterest layout, ways your business can make a big impact even with a small budget, and guidelines for public figures on Twitter. We even have an infographic showing how social media will change the Olympics.

Enjoy this week’s resources.

Editor’s Picks

Social Media

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, cienpies.

More About: Business, COMMUNICATIONS, Features Week In Review, Social Media, Tech

7 Apps Worth Checking Out [PICS]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 11:16 AM PDT

Lego Super Hero Movie Maker

Kids and adults will love Lego's newest iOS app: Lego Super Hero Movie Maker. Designed to work alongside Lego's DC Universe Super Heroes blocks, the app lets you create a stop-motion film using your phone that you can then share with friends or upload to the web to share with the world.

To help with the storytelling process Lego has included 11 title cards in the mix with images from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and more. The app also has five different soundtracks you can add to enhance your crime-fighting tale, and offers the option to add a colored filter to your shot to give a scene a particular look or mood.

Click here to view this gallery.

Keeping up with all the new apps to hit the scene is a tough job. But you’re in luck: You don’t have to, because each week we round up our favorite apps and app updates from the week in this handy roundup.

Some of our favorite new apps this week include one that lets you make your own stop-motion superhero movie using Lego, and an app that makes your Ford Focus sound like the Ferrari of your dreams.

If you’re into photos, we found an app that will customize your pics with unique filters for you, allowing you to pick the best one. Another app from the week will let you take photos of your friends and turn them into memes.

Just want to check out photos taken by others? An app that launched this week will let you view pictures that have been uploaded to Twitter by category, or even narrow down your search so you’re just looking at pics uploaded from your neighborhood.

Not to leave out the apps we already know and love, two of our gaming favorites received noteworthy updates this week worth checking out.

See the gallery above for our app highlights from the week. Have your own favorite new recent app that wasn’t included in our list? Tell us in the comments about your favorites.

More About: android, apps, iphone, Mobile, trending, Twitter

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Why Mr. Sato Took on the 1,050-Piece Bacon Burger [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 10:37 AM PDT

A man walks into a Japanese Burger King and orders a bacon burger laden with 1,050 pieces of swine…

No, this isn’t the beginning of a bad joke — it actually happened, and there’s a viral YouTube video to prove it.

In the video (above), we a see a guy sit down at a table and unwrap a mountain of bacon loosely held together by two buns and some nominal garnishment. He measures the mound of pork against his iPhone. He bows his head in a short prayer and starts stuffing his face. Eventually he takes an alternating-hand approach — a bite of bacon from his right, a bite of bun from his left. After making a valiant effort, but relatively small dent in the monstrosity before him, the man retires to a bathroom with a decidedly queasy look on his face.

The video has been viewed about 300,000 times since it was posted online Tuesday, and been picked up with short accompanying blurbs in many corners of the Internet.

But there have so far have remained a number of unanswered questions: Who is this hero of gluttony? Why did he do it? Did he survive? Mashable Skyped into Japan to learn more.

Steven Simonitch is a 24-year-old American living in Nagano Prefecture. An English teacher by day, he moonlights as a senior writer for the news site, which posted the bacon video.

The man in the video is Simonitch’s colleague at the site. Despite working with him and considering him a friend, Simonitch still knows our mysterious hero only by the name Sato-san — or, Mr. Sato.

Mr. Sato is 38. He’s single. He doesn’t speak much English, like most of the website’s staff. “He’s kind of our guinea pig,” Simonitch says. “If we have some random crazy idea we just say, ‘Let’s have Mr. Sato do it.’”

Mr. Sato recently shaved his head like this. He’s also eaten this, as well as another burger topped with a piddling 105 pieces of bacon. When the iPhone 4 was released in Japan in 2010, he gained fame by waiting in line dressed up like this.

SEE ALSO: This Website Is Made of Real Bacon [VIDEO]

Simonitch wasn’t present when Mr. Sato took on the 1,050-piece bacon burger, but his colleagues tell him “the stench of bacon just filled the whole room. They’re probably going to have to scrub out the walls.” As for Mr. Sato’s health, Simonitch says he’s doing fine after the showdown.

Mr. Sato helped launch the Japanese version of the site in 2008, and today it employs him and several others full time. It’s become huge in Japan, ranked among the country’s top 200 websites. But Simonitch says Mr. Sato and company have recently been looking to get more traction with English readers. Mission accomplished.

Do you want to see more from Mr. Sato? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Bacon, trending, viral, YouTube

Microsoft Research: Bringing Sexy Back

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 10:14 AM PDT

Microsoft: The Garage

This is the famous Microsoft Garage. It actually has two giant garage doors. It's also a place were Microsoft encourages free-from, grassroots invention.

Click here to view this gallery.

Sometimes I think I know how Microsoft feels. It's the older, more well-established guy living and working amongst a bunch of scruffy, young startup types who have big ideas, take huge risks and are the embodiment of cool.

When I asked people on Twitter to describe Microsoft and four other tech companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter) with just one word, Apple and Twitter were lavished with terms like Innovative, Sexy, Informative, Superior, Fun and even Innocent. Microsoft didn't fare as well. Old was a common theme, as was Stodgy, Boring, and even Dying.

Some of this is fair. Microsoft has been around since the ’70s while Facebook and Twitter launched after the start of the new millennium, so it is old by current startup standards (Instagram and Pinterest are just a couple of years old). Perhaps Microsoft did rest for too long on its dominant OS market share (Microsofties are only too willing to admit past mistakes). Apple, though, is just as old as Microsoft, and has been through its share of trouble (it barely survived the 1990s). Yet, it's seen as Ground Breaking and Chic.

I get it — maybe Microsoft is not cool, but I'm not so sure it's stodgy, and it's definitely not dying.

More Like Facebook Than You Think

Walking the halls of Microsoft's sprawling campus (many buildings, multiple locations), you're struck not by an uptight atmosphere, but by how similar it is to other tech companies. The walls are covered in art, meeting notes and interface ideas (they have a lot of marker-friendly walls). Virtually every building has a vast commons area where co-workers hang out and hash out ideas. There are ping-pong and even pool tables (though I rarely saw anyone using them). There are bicycles everywhere, electric car ports and Microsoft minivan transportation. I saw in-house coffee shops and, while there's no free lunch, all the drinks are free.

The Microsoft you don't know, however, is nowhere more in evidence than in Microsoft Research. It's a 20-year-old group where some of Microsoft's most interesting — dare we say edgiest — ideas percolate and sometimes come to fruition. No, it's not where the company builds Windows 8, but it could be the place where some of Windows 8's biggest innovations begin. It was not the birthplace of Xbox 360, but Kinect had its germination there.

General Manager Microsoft Research Kevin Schofield

Edgy for Microsoft does not necessarily mean black hair, torn clothing and nose rings. It's more about the bleeding edge of technology, stuff (like Microsoft Surface 2.0) that makes us mere mortals say, "wow." Microsoft Research's 850 Ph.D. researchers (300 in Redmond and the rest spread around the world), are working on some amazing innovations. Take for example, the Beamatron, an augmented reality mash-up of Kinect, a computer running a gaming physics engine, a projector and a theatrical motorized light system. It uses Kinect to create a 3D map of the room, including objects and people in it, and then renders and projects objects (cars, presentations) that appear to interact with the real-world room. I drove a virtual car around the room and used the Beamatron to "hold" a PowerPoint presentation in my hand and then transfer it from one hand to another as if it was a ball.

That doesn't sound particularly like "yesterday's" technology.

24 year Microsoft vet and Microsoft Research General Manager Kevin Schofield told me Microsoft Research is also focused, at least in part, on "solving big problems" like the HIV virus.

Cutting Edge

Medical Research would seem an odd fit for Microsoft, but the research group is filled with all kinds of experts, including a couple of MDs. One of them is also a computer scientist and became fascinated with how doctors make crucial decisions in high-pressure situations when they have incomplete information (think emergency room visits). This led to work in machine learning (Microsoft Research does a lot of work in this area), which uses what's known to figure out the unknown. Spam filters work this way. They can look at email and if the word "Viagra" is in it, decide with some degree of certainty that it's spam. Now, that research is being applied to HIV vaccine research.

The HIV virus is known for its tendency to mutate, which makes it hard for people to develop an immunity. A spam-like filter can find the known in the unknown — in this case the core, recognizable virus.

I asked Schofield, who began his carrier at Microsoft in the OS group, if Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates used the legendary Bell Labs as a model for Microsoft Research. "At a 30,000 foot level," Schofield said, “Bell Labs was the model, but on the ground it was more Carnegie Mellon.” There are, apparently, two styles of research lab: The Xerox Parc model, where you isolate research from the business and the other model, where you basically have business fund and drive research. Both approaches can hinder tech transfer. The second method, in particular, said Schofield, tends to guide research too strongly so that most of the work is spent delivering product enhancements. Schofield said Microsoft took the middle road.

Microsoft Research's building is right in the heart of the campus, but the work is not guided solely by business imperatives. The best way to understand how Microsoft Research really works is to understand Schofield's approach to tech transfer. It's not, he said, a Rube Goldberg process where you "turn the crank and a product pops out…. It's not a machine process, it's a social process."

Schofield went throughout Microsoft, finding the product managers with the best social and communication skills. He then paired them up with Microsoft Research team members. Product managers talk about the problems they're struggling with. It's not unusual for a Microsoft Researcher to realize the company already has a solution, likely developed for something else or simply because someone wanted to try it.

Choose Your Project

This serendipitous tech transfer is one of the reasons researchers pick and pursue their own projects. Yet, even as these researchers do work on oddball innovations such as Beamatron, wearable Kinect sensors (to project a map in front of you of where you need to go), HIV Spam filters, and new cinemagraph techniques, they're not working in a vacuum. Even back in the early days, Bill Gates would wander the halls, and there would be "random Bill sightings." Later, when Gates had to spend more time on bigger picture projects, he and current CEO Steve Ballmer would have regular meetings with Microsoft Research. The yearly TechFest is designed to showcase 15 or so key demos from Microsoft Research, and to spark more conversations.

SEE ALSO: s Windows Phone the Best Mobile Platform You're Not Using?

Like any true research facility, Microsoft Research has its share of duds. I asked Schofield if there was a room where Microsoft Research keeps its failed experiments. "Failures would be a big room," Schofield said, laughing. But he also counts some of those failures among Microsoft Research's successes.

"You build a blob of what's possible and what's not possible outside. The blog keeps expanding out as you figure out how to do more and more, but knowing where the fence is is a useful thing. So we learn a lot from failures."

Does all this experimentation, trial and error and the creation new and sometimes important discoveries make Microsoft younger and sexier? Maybe, maybe not, but it's hard to deny that you might want to add one more word to describe the tech giant: relevant.

How does Microsoft Research and the work it’s doing change your perception of this venerable tech giant? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Beamatron, kinect, microsoft, Microsoft Research, trending

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Cadillac Teases ‘Super Cruise’ Semi-Autonomous Car [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 09:20 AM PDT

Cadillac took a step closer to the self-driving car, showing off Super Cruise, encompassing way-cool features that edge ever-so-closer to automatic pilot on the highways.

It’s not nearly as advanced as Google’s self-driving vehicle. Cadillac warns that this new semi-autonomous driving tech only works under certain optimal conditions, assisting you with automatic steering, braking and lane-centering on highways. It uses a combination of radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS map data to keep that Caddy on the straight-and-narrow.

We’re a bit concerned about this almost driverless tech — might some drivers depend on it too much, only to be unpleasantly surprised by its limitations?

Don’t expect to pick up a cruisemobile with these features on board just yet — Cadillac’s not making any promises about when Super Cruise will make its big debut, but teases us with the possibility of it appearing in Cadillacs by the middle of this decade.

More About: Cadillac, cars, self-driving car, Tech

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How Social Media Gave the UFC a Fighting Chance [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 08:46 AM PDT

The UFC 145 combat contest happens Saturday night — and is one of the mixed martial arts company’s most-hyped fights since it was founded in the early 1990s.

But the company wouldn’t be where it is today without having aggressively adopted social media over the past several years. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook helped the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — as both the company and its signature events are known — transform itself from violent sideshow to relatively mainstream entertainment.

In an illustration of the UFC’s disproportional strength on social media the company’s president, Dana White, has more than 2 million Twitter followers — far outpacing the commissioners of other sports leagues with more widespread recognition. For instance, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, has about 250,000 followers. Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer’s governing body, claims approximately 240,000.

Some of its fighters rival NBA stars in Twitter followers, and the company as a whole counts nearly 3 million more Facebook “likes” than the NFL.

How has the UFC achieved such social media success? “It’s because we’re real,” Kristin Adams, the UFC’s social media manager, told Mashable in an email. “These other sports put together these rules and fines and penalties to scare their athletes.”

In 2011, the UFC instituted a Twitter bonus program, offering quarterly cash rewards to the fighters who most effectively added followers, tweeted creatively and engaged fans.

“We want to reach people where they want to spend time and our fans love it,” Adams wrote.

For UFC 145 in Atlanta, the company has bought its first Promoted Trend on Twitter, which Adams says will help as the UFC tries to expand beyond its core fans base. In another move that appears targeted at new demographics, the UFC recently launched a Pinterest page as well, with boards themed around inspirational shots, party pictures and healthy living.

Adams says that, just as social media helped the UFC rise from obscurity over the past several years, digital networks will remain essential to its success in the future.

“Social media is very important to us moving forward,” she wrote in an email. “You can reach anyone, anywhere in the world and we have fans everywhere. The more we grow and go international, the more people we’re going to want to connect with and keep up-to-date on the cool stuff going on with UFC.”

Which professional sports companies do you think are best at using social media? Let us know in the comments.

To promote UFC 145, the company produced the infographic below. Scroll down to the bottom half to see some more of its social media stats.

Thumbnail image courtesy

More About: Facebook, Social Media, sports, trending, Twitter

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Should You Eat That Bacon? [COMIC]

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 08:05 AM PDT

When you eat bacon, it feels like 100 of the cuddliest people in the world are surrounding you in one big hug, while simultaneously giving you the nicest compliments you’ve ever received. In short, it’s the universe’s best comfort food.

At least, that’s what the Internet seems to think. Comic blog Science, Love and LSD posted this flowchart, which asks whether or not you should eat bacon. All signs point to yes.

SEE ALSO: This Website Is Made of Real Bacon [VIDEO]

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, Vasko

More About: comics, Food, humor, trending, viral

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