Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Beyond Signatures: BrandMyMail Adds Analytics to Email for Cheap”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Beyond Signatures: BrandMyMail Adds Analytics to Email for Cheap”

Beyond Signatures: BrandMyMail Adds Analytics to Email for Cheap

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 05:03 AM PDT


If you use email as a marketing tool, but don’t have a ton of money to invest in design and analytics, BrandMyMail offers a way to send out professional-looking messages as well as capture open stats and click rates.

The service, which lets you create a slick email template with simple drag-and-drop modules, has been around for a while for Gmail users. Using a simple web interface, you can build an email template that includes your latest tweets, your Facebook updates and YouTube videos. You can even put in a textured background for that little something-something.

That’s just the beginning, though. On Tuesday, BrandMyMail is launching a Premium version that extends its tool to users of Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook. Besides the extra email services, Premium users also get to have more than one template, plus some bonus modules they can include in templates, like eBay and LinkedIn.

SEE ALSO: 6 Smart & Effective Email Marketing Tactics

Finally, Premium also brings the good stuff: analytics tools, which will count the total emails sent, open rates and clicks. The tool can even tell which of your modules in your template are getting clicked on the most. There’s also an web service API that’ll integrate BrandMyMail with standard enterprise software.

How premium are we talking about? The paid service costs $39 a year. But if all you’re interested in is pretty emails with your latest tweets included, that’s free.

What do you think of BrandMyMail’s service, and what other tools do you think are essential for email marketing? Share your ideas in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: analytics, brandmymail, email marketing, gmail, hotmail, microsoft outlook, Yahoo Mail

Brick Harbor Aims to Give Skateboarding a New Digital Home [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 05:00 AM PDT

Skateboarders, meet Brick Harbor. The site launched Tuesday and is aiming to carve out a niche as a go-to digital destination for skaters. It’s part e-commerce site, part content source and part culture hub, says director of operations Chase Whitaker.

“Our main goal is just to become the voice of skateboarding for the Internet,” Whitaker told Mashable in an interview. “It’s an unbiased outlet for skateboard media.”

Brick Harbor sells gear and hardware from up-and-coming brands including Heel Bruise, Traffic and Hopps. Its pro team includes Stevie Williams, PJ Ladd, Terry Kenendy, and other riders. They will share exclusive content like skate videos, product reviews and lifestyle features with readers.

SEE ALSO: YouTube Launches Action Sports Channels, Starring Tony Hawk

Another prong of the site’s strategy is a robust social media presence, Whitaker says. On Facebook, fans will be able to “Like” all of Brick Harbor’s products and share them with friends, offering the site a bit of grassroots marketing. On Twitter, the site plans to host a range of contests and giveaways. Brick Harbor shares lifestyle photos on Instagram and aims to fill out its Pinterest profile soon, Whitaker says.

Brick Harbor is backed by the established urban fashion site KarmaLoop.com, so it should have some room to experiment with its social, editorial and e-commerce balance. Another strength, according to Whitaker, is that everyone who works for the company — from himself, to bloggers, to customer service reps — is a skateboarder, which gives the site a unique level of authenticity.

“Everything we’ve done has had a lot of attention to detail, from the riders we’ve picked up to the brands we’ve decided to showcase,” Whitaker says. “There’s a level of expertise and attention to detail that I think sets us apart from our contributors.”

Do you think Brick Harbor can become skateboarders’ go-to digital destination? Let us know in the comments.

More About: e-commerce, Social Media, sports

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Groupon Stock Price Plummets After SEC Probe Report

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 04:55 AM PDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Groupon‘s restatement of its fourth-quarter results, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a “person familiar with the matter,” reports that the SEC’s probe into the company is at a “preliminary stage” and the agency hasn’t determined whether to move forward with a formal investigation. The SEC probed Groupon twice before the company’s IPO on Nov. 4.

The news prompted a nearly 17% drop in Groupon’s stock price Monday afternoon to $15.27, well below Groupon’s $20 IPO price. However, the stock price rose slightly in after-hours trading.

A Groupon rep could not be reached for comment on the report.

Groupon restated its fourth-quarter earnings last week, cutting Groupon’s previous 4Q revenue results by $14.3 million to $492.2 million from $506.5 million. Net income also fell by $22.6 million, or 4 cents a share.

The restatement was apparently driven by higher-than-anticipated refund rates. “The revisions are primarily related to an increase to the company’s refund reserve accrual to reflect a shift in the company’s fourth quarter deal mix and higher price point offers, which have higher refund rates,” reads a statement from the company. Translation: The company had not set aside enough money for refunds to customers.

Groupon, whose accounting has been questioned by the SEC, says it has hired accounting firms Ernst & Young and KPMG to oversee its operations.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, cruphoto

More About: groupon, SEC

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Today’s Top Stories: Pinterest Co-Founder Leaving, Stellar iPhone Sales

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 04:41 AM PDT

Social Media News

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

Pinterest Co-Founder Leaves the Company

Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra has left the company to pursue a career at Andreessen Horowitz.

“From marking milestones in hundreds of new pins to millions, the company has grown, the product has evolved, and I've changed too along the way. After lots of reflection and plenty of discussion with Ben and others, I've decided that now is a good time for me to step down formally from day-to-day involvement. Of course, I'll continue to be there for the company: now, as an advisor, an owner, and — as always — a dedicated pinner,” Sciarra wrote in a blog post.

iPhone Outselling All Its Competitors Combined at AT&T and Sprint [REPORT]

Apple’s iPhone is selling so well it may be outselling all other smartphones combined at Sprint and AT&T, claims Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley. “…we believe iPhones are outselling all other smartphones combined at Sprint and AT&T and selling at roughly equal volume to all Android smartphones at Verizon." wrote Walkley in a note to clients.

Google Wallet Co-Founding Engineer Rob von Behren Leaves for Square

Google Wallet co-founding engineer Rob von Behren has left Google to join Square, the NFC Times reports. Although Behren did not initially see his career continuing in the payments space, he changed his mind after meeting the Square team. “Square is doing some great things in the payment space. They have a strong leadership team and a culture that fosters innovation," he said.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: apple, features, first to know series, Google, google wallet, iphone, mashable, Paul Sciarra, pinterest, Rob von Behren

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Pepsi Next Gets Comedians to Impersonate You Based on Your Facebook Profile

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 04:27 AM PDT

Pepsi is taking Facebook-based narcissism to a new level with a campaign that gets comics to impersonate you based on your profile on the social network.

The beverage giant has linked with longtime partner Funny Or Die for a program that will choose consumers for an online taste test for Pepsi Next. Since users can’t actually taste the cola online, Pepsi has opted for the next-best thing: comedians attempting to simulate you will try the drink.

Such fans will opt in to be chosen. “We’ll analyze their Facebook persona,” says Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages. “It will be very close to who they actually are. We have improv comedians on standby.” The shoot will take place in Los Angeles over five days, using four simultaneous sound stages and 12 Funny or Die improv comedians. The fan videos will then be edited and posted back to selected users in approximately 24 hours of the shoot.

To give a taste of how the program will work, Pepsi, Funny Or Die and ad agency partner The Barbarian Group have created three videos. The video above is an explanation of the program by comedian Rob Riggle. The two below goof on Gary Vaynerchuk, the YouTube-based wine expert and Internet meme Scumbag Steve.

Pepsi Next, a mid-calorie soda with 60% less sugar than Pepsi’s flagship beverage, is being released this spring with distribution in Walmart and national sampling. The Facebook program combines the thinking behind programs like Intel’s “What About Me?” app and Old Spice’s 2010 “Responses” campaign to create what the brand hopes will be a viral phenomenon.

What do you think? Will you try the program? Will it get you to try Pepsi’s new soda? Sound off in the comments.

Internet Taste Test - Gary Vaynerchuk

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Marketing, Pepsi, pepsi next

Amazon Tests In-App Purchases [REPORT]

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 03:35 AM PDT

Amazon is testing a service that lets tablet users buy subscriptions and individual items via apps, according to a report.

Bloomberg quotes Maria Ly, co-founder of Skimble, which sells physical fitness programs, in the report.

Ly told the news service that she’s been involved in Amazon’s pilot program for about a month. "We really wanted to attack the Kindle Fire market, but also have access to the payment methods that support our business," Ly told Bloomberg. "It's still kind of in its early stages," Ly said of the services being tested. "But we're very optimistic about it." Amazon plans to charge a 30% commission for such in-app transactions.

Reps from Amazon could not be reached for comment on the report.

Though Amazon has designed Kindle and Kindle Fire to make it easy to buy from the company’s online retail store, in-app purchases is a new type of revenue stream. In-app purchases were a $970 million and will hit $5.6 billion in revenues by 2015, according to IHS.

Amazon’s move comes after Google greenlit in-app purchases for Android developers last March. Apple implemented in-app billing for iOS in 2009.

More About: amazon, apple, Google, in-app purchases, Kindle, kindle fire

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#LexingtonPoliceScanner: Twitter Listens, Reacts to Kentucky Riots [PICS]

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 03:21 AM PDT

1. @mcfielden

Click here to view this gallery.

A perfect storm of celebration, violence and voyeurism hit Twitter late Monday night after the University of Kentucky won the March Madness crown.

Following the Wildcats’ win over Kansas for the NCAA title, large-scale riots broke out in the Kentucky college town of Lexington. Word quickly spread on Twitter that the Lexington police dispatch scanner was accessible via the steaming app TuneIn. Soon after, the hashtag #LexingtonPoliceScanner began an hours-long residency in the worldwide trending charts as a mesmerized Twitterverse followed the riots in real time.

The riots were serious; houses reportedly burned, cars were destroyed and at least one man was reportedly shot as the mayhem raged into the morning. But the way the riots played out online became a true through-the-looking-glass moment for the digital age — the piecemeal story relayed through the scanner audio-stream provided one layer of amazement and the accompanying Twitter buzz another.

As #LexingtonPoliceScanner became a phenomenon, the conversation there tended toward the humorous and incredulous. People provided their own color commentary of the riots based off what they heard on the police radio. Officers were quoted verbatim. A husky-voiced female dispatcher incited lust among many a tweeter. Bed times were missed, delayed and missed again.

SEE ALSO: Fear the Unibrow! NCAA Star's Epic Eye Hair Dominates Internet [PICS]

People asked about and explained the police codes associated with certain crimes, and individual officers and revelers bounced around the network. At one point, the madness in Lexington was responsible for three of Twitter’s worldwide trending topics: #LexingtonPoliceScanner, “Code 1″ and “Commander Coleman.”

As the Twitter use @Huskerbubble phrased it from behind a backlit screen: “This is so messed up, but Twitter gold.”

Scroll through the slideshow above for a small sample of what the #LexingtonPoliceScanner chatter was like on Twitter. Did you follow the riots via TuneIn and Twitter? Let us know in the comments what you thought of people’s online reaction.

More About: march madness, sports, Twitter

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See the Gorgeous BMW i8 Spyder in Action [VIDEO]

Posted: 03 Apr 2012 02:18 AM PDT

BMW i8 Spyder

We did not expect to see footage of BMW’s latest hybrid concept car, the i8 Spyder, so fast after its official unveiling, but this seems to be our (and your) lucky day.

The folks at Bimmerpost have managed to get a hold of the fully functioning BMW i8 Spyder and drive it on the road in several scenarios, including a daytime drive on a parking lot and a night drive on the road.

The footage is of excellent quality, and the car (unsurprisingly) looks and sounds amazing. The fact that it looks fully road-ready probably means BMW will soon show it in the flesh to the general public, perhaps even at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

BMW i8 Spyder is an electric-gas hybrid, powered by a 96 kW/131 hp engine on the front, and a 164 kW/223 hp gasoline engine in the back. It goes from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5 seconds and consumes 3 liters per 100 km (62 miles) on average, with 30 kilometres (19 miles) of autonomy on electric power alone.

Check out the rest of the videos, which include detailed exterior and interior shots, here.

[via Engadget]

BMW i8 Spyder

BMW i8 Spyder

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More About: BMW, BMW i8 Spyder, car, hybrid, trending

YouTube’s 20 Most-Shared Ads in March [VIDEOS]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 09:02 PM PDT

1. Two-year old dancing the jive

We've seen tons of viral talent on YouTube, but it's always a shock and a treat when you come across a toddler who can dance better than you! The child's parents take dance lessons at DancePro.dk, a dance studio in Denmark. They turned the two-year old's jive into an ad for the local business.

Click here to view this gallery.

YouTube has revolutionized advertising, that’s for sure. Nowadays ads can be long-form, interactive and often film-like. The platform adds a valuable social element to the experience, as well. That’s how we’re able to determine YouTube’s most-shared ads, by month.

March’s list was quite diverse. You’ll find some tear-jerkers, and lots of special effects. During certain ads, you’ll giggle; during others, you’ll stare at the computer screen shocked and gape-mouthed.

SEE ALSO: April Fools' Day Classics: Top 10 Viral Pranks on YouTube

Our friends at Unruly Media compiled a list of the 20 most-shared YouTube ads for the month of March. Each one is guaranteed share-worthy.

Are there any that surprise you? Let us know in the comments.

More About: ads, Advertising, features, Video, YouTube

25 Best ‘Draw Something’ Sketches From Mashable Readers [PICS]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 08:43 PM PDT

1. Axe

A clever interpretation of the memorable body spray. By timstahl87

Click here to view this gallery.

Draw Something has been the success that just won’t quit. The game has earned millions of downloads, and is the number one app in many countries. And creator OMGPOP was recently acquired by Zynga for $180 million.

We knew Mashable readers loved Draw Something after posting about the best sketches we found. We asked you for your best doodles, and received a ton of great sketches via Olapic. We’ve rounded up the best submissions in the gallery above.

Think you’ve got great, unseen Draw Something talent? Drop your picture in the Olapic widget below, and we might include it in future roundups.

More About: apps, community, Draw something, Gaming, Mobile, omgpop

Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Is Back Online, Working on an Album

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 08:19 PM PDT

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is back online.

A New Zealand judge on Monday granted the file-sharing demigod Internet access and swimming privileges, as well as permission to finish an in-progress music album and hold weekly meetings with his Megaupload co-defendants.

Dotcom was granted bail on Feb. 21, but that came with a series of severe restrictions. He was arrested in January after authorities, including the FBI, shut Megaupload down for encouraging online piracy.

As part of Judge David Harvey’s Monday ruling, Dotcom is now allowed to travel twice a week to an Auckland studio to finish an upcoming music album, the Associated Press reports. What exactly the ostentatious and eccentric mogul is working on is not clear, although TorrentFreak reports that it’s “a collaboration with several international artists” and after a sneak preview last year, “we like what we heard.”

In December, Dotcom posted this star-laden promotional music video that has since gained more than 13 million views:

The offbeat, hit video is just one part of Dotcom’s long, strange trip through Internet-born riches and fame (see gallery below). Originally named Kim Schmitz in Germany, he founded Megaupload in 2005. The site became wildly popular with Internet users and earned him millions of dollars, but drew the ire of law enforcement.

Tipping the scales at a reported six-and-a-half feet tall and nearly 300 pounds, Dotcom was never shy about flaunting his largesse by posing for photographs with scantily clad women, participating in international auto races and paying for a lavish New Year’s fireworks display in Auckland, among other pursuits.

Until Judge Harvey’s Monday ruling, Dotcom had been barred from even possessing a phone with Internet capability since being granted bail. He may now swim once per day and confer with his co-defendants in anticipation of an August hearing to determine whether he will be extradited for trial to the United States. And, of course, he can put the final touches on that album.

Do you think Kim Dotcom is being unfairly persecuted or not? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: The Strange and Epic Lifestyle of Megaupload's Kim Dotcom

1. MegaRacer Domination Ends

Until recently, Kim Dotcom was the top Modern Warfare 3 player in the world. He even apparently posted a video to prove it. We imagine it's tough to maintain such a coveted position while being held in jail for multiple copyright violations.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: file sharing, Internet Piracy, Kim Dotcom, megaupload

Social Network Built for Apartment Dwellers is a Renter’s Dream

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 08:05 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

RentSocialName: RentSocial

Quick Pitch: RentSocial is a new social platform aiming to makeover the apartment hunt process. RentSocial wants to make the search for rental space more social before and after you move in.

Genius Idea: Share what you love about prospective properties directly from RentSocial onto Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.

RentSocial is a social platform for individuals looking for apartments. On the website, people can directly connect with property management firms and share details about their future homes.

“It’s a completely disruptive model where we allow property management companies to cater directly towards prospective renters,” Eric Broughton, president of RentSocial told Mashable. “The genesis of RentSocial, or why we wanted to build the platform, is we saw a great need in the marketplace.”

RentSocial appeals to the connected generation who like to share aspects of their lives with friends and family, which is important in the decision making process. According to Broughton, there are more than 100 million apartment renters in the United States, with about 53 million of them 30 years old and younger.

RentSocial hopes to change the way people are looking for apartments. The website has listings showing complete profiles of properties including photos, floor plans, price ranges and more. Directly pin floor plans onto Pinterest or post pictures onto Facebook. Get help deciding your next apartment from your family and friends.

In other industries, customers expect a ton of information about products they are looking at buying including cars, iTunes music and various items Amazon, but are not particularly concerned about reviews when it comes to homes. The co-founders of RentSocial wanted to bring this model of fluid reviews, open communication and sharing to apartment rentals.

There’s data about business centers, child care, door attendants, saunas, Internet, garages and lease terms for each property listing. Reviews are written by approved residents who live or have lived in a building.

RentSocial Apt Comparison Feature

The property comparison feature lines-up up to 10 apartments, so you can compare amenities.

“Instead of going to a listings site, then a review site, and then an email to share info, it’s all on one platform. There are ratings and reviews all there and they can see a voice of the property,” Broughton says. “Find a property, say you are interested in it and it goes directly to the property management company, it doesn’t have to go to a broker.”

RentSocial is free to all rental hunters as a web app. The creators of RentSocial say the mobile application will be out in a few weeks on iOS and Android markets. The app is available for all 50 states. There are more than 5,000 apartment buildings available users can view on the site and more than 1.5 million apartment units on the network.

The social platform isn’t just for apartment hunters but aims to help renters after they have found their perfect apartment. Consumers will be able to pay rent directly on the network with a rent program facilitated by RentPayment.com. Plus, connect with approved neighbors on the social network to schedule get-togethers or ask for a cup of sugar.

“The greatest innovative we have is the solution we are providing,” said Andy Hamilton, CTO of RentSocial. “We are innovative in that we looked at what we felt is missing from an apartment dweller’s experience. Not only when they are looking for apartments, but when they are living in apartments.”

The social network is driven by the ability to use major social networks within this one platform tailored for renters.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Alex Dram

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: apartment rentals, Business, Social Media, social networking

10 Hilarious Memes Brought to Life on Twitter

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 07:34 PM PDT

1. Condescending Wonka

If you're looking for patronizing (but humorous) tweets, you can follow the meme featuring Gene Wilder from the 1971 version of Willy Wonka.

Click here to view this gallery.

Crazy about Internet memes? If you’re the type that scours sites like Reddit and Know Your Meme to get your Advice Animal fix, you can get a deeper look at your favorite character by following him or her on Twitter.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Inanimate Objects on Twitter

We’ve round up 10 popular tweeting memes for you to get started. What’s your favorite funny meme on Twitter? Let us know in the comments.

More About: advice animals, features, humor, Meme, Twitter

UK Soldier Uniforms May Soon Transmit Power, Data [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 07:09 PM PDT

British military uniforms may soon be made out of yarn that can transfer electricity and data, eliminating the need for toting around additional batteries and cabling.

The intelligent fabric was recently shown-off by Intelligent Textiles in the form of a lightweight military uniform. In the demo, the fabric was integrated into the uniform’s vest, shirt, helmet, and backpack, as well as into the glove and weapons platform. The tech would have soldiers charge one single battery, and then have the power from that battery sent through clothing to where it needs to be.

The fabric is not only capable of transmitting electricity, it can also transmit data. Clothing made out of the fabric could ultimately become a "wearable computer." Intelligent Textiles is currently working on a machine with a fabric keyboard to be used alongside the clothing in order to add that functionality.

Along with lessening the load soldiers have to carry around, ultimately the tech could help eliminate some of the power and data issues they face out in the field.

“One of the problems with conventional cables is that breakages can be catastrophic. Asha Thompson, director of Intelligent Textiles, said in an interview with BBC News. "What we do here is build in redundancy, so that if the fabric gets cut, damaged or torn, we still have a way of re-routing the data.”

The company has plans to field test the fabric in May. Limited use could come by the end of the year, and ultimately widespread use of the fabric might happen by 2014 or 2015.

What do you think about the use of e-textiles? Would you be interested in an outfit that could conduct power?

More About: e-textile, military, textile

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White House to Developers: Help Us Build Job Search Apps

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 06:48 PM PDT

The White House has a request for app developers around the country: help young people find summer jobs.

It’s the administration’s first-ever “Code Sprint,” an open-source development free-for-all — sort of like an Iron Chef competition for coders.

The secret ingredient? The government’s “Summer Jobs+” API, a search tool designed to help young people find work while they’re home from school during the summer months.

Summer Jobs+ is specifically targeted at low-income and underprivileged young people, whose families often rely on their extra earnings in the summer to put food on the table or help finance next year’s school supplies. It’s meant to help kids aged 16-24 find summer jobs, internships, mentorships and training programs to keep them improving their chances of landing a stable career after graduation.

The White House’s database is a gold mine of opportunities such as these, and it’s turning to the app development community to write software for Internet browsers, cellphones and social media platforms.

“We're excited to tap the collective knowledge and innovation of the app developer community,” reads a White House blog post written by Brian Forde, advisor to the chief technology officer.

Timing for the Code Spring couldn’t be better. Youth unemployment is at a 60-year high, and many an altruistic app developer would jump at the chance to help solve that problem.

Forde went on to hint at what the White House is looking for.

“Some ideas we'd love to see include an easy way to receive job opportunities through SMS, localized job search apps for the city you live in, map based interfaces or easy way to create summer training playlists that help youth plan a summer of job skills development,” he wrote.

Coders have until Monday, April 9 at 8 a.m. ET to submit their apps. The best submissions will be featured on WhiteHouse.gov.

Will you develop an app for the White House? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lillisphotography

More About: app development, apps, Social Good, White House

4 Facebook Features Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 06:13 PM PDT

Justyn Howard is the CEO of Sprout Social, a social media management platform that empowers leading companies to effectively manage their social channels. Follow him on Twitter @justyn and read his blog at SproutInsights.

If you have a brand or a business to market chances are you’re using a social media management application to monitor online mentions, schedule updates, and generate reports. But if you really want to be an effective marketer, you need to develop a deeper understanding of which networks are most vital to your company, and what network features are key. In Facebook’s case, we’re talking about some powerful community management components that are unmatched by its competitors, and often overlooked by marketing pros. Here are the four that simply can’t be ignored.

SEE ALSO: 3 Reasons Facebook Brand Pages Are Good for Businesses

1. Activity Log

Facebook’s activity log is like a Facebook Timeline for every interaction that fans have with your page. It also includes updates you’ve made, like comments or Facebook Questions. What makes this tool unique and powerful is that it offers an archive of your Facebook interactions that you can review at any time. This is useful for tracking how well you’re following up and engaging with fans, and what kind of feedback you’re getting from them during specific events.

2. Demographic Targeting

The manage tab in Facebook Page’s Admin Panel allows you to publish updates to specific demographic groups. The feature isn’t as robust as it should be, but it lets you reach out to people who, for example, speak a certain language. This is useful if your page serves audiences in different countries.

Netflix is a prime example. Due to the nature of its content licensing deals, the site offers different movie and TV-show libraries in the United States than it does in Canada. If the Netflix page administrator wants to announce a new movie that’s only available in one country, he or she can hide that update from fans in the other. Other options include making a post completely invisible to people outside of a certain location, or to people under a certain age.

3.Twitter Linking

Cross-promoting between social networks is a critical component of any social media marketing strategy. Facebook recognizes this, which is why it offers the ability to link your Facebook page to Twitter for the purpose of publishing updates to both sites.

The one caveat is that the implementation here is slanted pretty heavily towards promoting Facebook. This means tweets that originate from your Facebook page always have a link back to Facebook. If that’s not your thing, you can supplement with a third-party tool.

4. Smart Moderation

You probably already know how to moderate individual comments on Facebook, but you can also dive into your Facebook Page’s settings and add specific terms you want to automatically block. While it’s better to allow open conversation on your Facebook page — customers don’t like to be censored — there will be specific situations that call for more control. This tool will give you that.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, courtneyk

More About: contributor, Facebook, features, social media marketing

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SpinLister Creates Online Hub for Bike Rentals in NYC, SF

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 05:54 PM PDT

SpinLister Bike Rentals - How to Rent Your Bike

When it’s 70 degrees out and the sun is beaming, you just might be in the mood for a day-long bike ride. Online bicycle renting hub SpinLister.com lets you do just that.

SpinLister is an online startup that launched on April 1 in New York and San Francisco. Urbanites can rent a bicycle for a few hours, days or up to a couple of months — for just a couple of dollars.

The idea of the bike rental social network was developed when co-founders Will Dennis and Jeff Noh met in NYC at the General Electric/OMD startup incubator during the summer.

“I knew I wanted to have a bike while I was in New York because it’s my favorite way to get around,” Dennis told Mashable. “I started looking into it and found that my only option was to buy and resell a bike. There wasn’t anything like a long-term rental. Rentals were always short-term, expensive or not the bike I’m looking for.”

He posted his own bike on Craigslist and saw locals and tourists were interested in renting his bike for longer than a few hours. The wheels hit the ground and the idea took off from there.

Bikers can now list their bikes on SpinLister, instead of stuffing it in a garage or paying for extra storage space. Simply state your location, specs of your mobile, ideal height for the bike and any extras you are willing to throw in with the deal — helmet, lock, lights, etc.

Listers decide how much the rental will go for. There are currently bikes on the website that priced at $1 to $30 per day. Individuals can also list per hour, week or monthly rates.

SEE ALSO: How 4 Cities Are Deploying High-Tech Bike Sharing Programs

SpinLister covers the insurance. The web community covers its platform, insurance, credit card and transaction costs by charging both the lister and renter 12.5% of the transaction cost.

On the network, listers build profiles for themselves that are verified through Facebook or Twitter, which Dennis calls “good representations of online presence.” The climate of social media plays a huge role in the formation of SpinLister, says the co-founder. As people allow themselves to show up online, it’s easier for social networks of all kinds to take off.

All transactions are made with credit cards in case of theft. Damaged bikes or injuries will be covered by the company’s insurance.

“A stranger in a town you’ve never been to, owning a bicycle you had no idea existed, is now someone you can see who has 600 friends on Facebook and 100 followers on Twitter,” Dennis said.

There are more than 1 billion bikes worldwide, Dennis said. SpinLister will work to foster this network of bikers who can share bikes while traveling.

“I think there’s an opportunity for people who are excited about bikes and recreation to really to share something,” Dennis said. “What’s cool about the cloud of consumption piece of SpinLister is you’re not just bringing together people who have underused bikes, but people who are active, adventurous, who already have a specific interest in common.”

One of Dennis’ favorite aspects of the website is the space where users can list where their favorite place to ride.

“We think the largest bike rental system already exists,” Dennis said. “We just need to connect it.”

SpinLister is working on building a mobile application and hopes to expand nationally soon. Currently there are many bikes to choose from in each city. SpinLister has also teamed up with San Francisco’s Blazing Saddles and Bike and Roll in NYC to supply more rentals.

Image courtesy of SpinLister

More About: Business, fitness, social networking

iPhone Documentary Takes on Syria: Is This the Future of Journalism?

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 05:19 PM PDT

An anonymous undercover reporter for Al Jazeera has captured the Syrian uprising in a first-of-its-kind-documentary — recorded on an iPhone.

The 25 minute documentary, “Syria: Songs of Defiance,” aired on Al Jazeera’s show People & Power earlier this month. Al Jazeera has not released the reporter’s name for safety reasons. (Check out the video at the end of this post.)

The anonymous reporter states the reason he used his iPhone at the beginning of the documentary. “Because taking a camera would be risky, I brought my cell phone with me as I moved around the country,” he says.

Syrian activists have been uploading YouTube videos of protests and sending out phone calls to media outlets for more than a year now, understanding what exactly has been happening in the country from citizen journalism alone has proved difficult.

Though the Syrian government recently adopted a U.N.-backed ceasefire plan, the violence continues. According to Al-Jazeera “there was no sign of any risk-free demonstrations” as of Friday.

SEE ALSO: The World Watches Syria’s Uprising on YouTube

That’s why the reporter’s use of his iPhone is a huge feat — though an incredibly dangerous one. Had he been caught, he might have faced brutal retaliation. The Syrian government banned iPhone usage last December.

Here are four reasons why it was essential for the reporter to go undercover and use a mobile device.

1. Language. Many of the videos that activists have uploaded don’t have narration. In this undercover report, the context that the reporter provides — in English — makes it accessible to audiences worldwide. Subtitles are used for footage documented in Arabic, whether they be interviews with civilians or translations of the songs that protestors sing.

2. Audience awareness. At the beginning of the documentary, audiences can see several unidentifiable objects. They are very familiar to Syrian protestors, but most people who will watch this documentary will probably have never seen them before. Right away, the reporter asks the essential question: “What am I looking at?”

It turns out those objects are “thumb bombs.” They can’t hurt anyone, according to the activist showing them to the reporter, but protesters use them as alerts, to test security and warn those who haven’t entered the revolution yet.

3. Perspective. Syrians have been experiencing the protests for more than a year, so explanations of the significance of these demonstrations hardly ever emerge in their footage. However, with the reporter well-aware of his audience — and being an outsider himself — he can offer a Tocqueville-like perspective. Take this example:

I was walking through Homs and sniper fire started, and I was the only one in the crowd that actually flinched. And a father with his kids was standing by the door and they were sort of laughing at me and pointing, saying ‘why don’t you fall on the floor while you are at it?’

It’s amazing how Syrians, who never heard gunfire because they lived in a very peaceful country, have gotten used so quickly to living in a state of war, how to respond to it. They’ve very quickly become a mobilized revolutionary society, whereas before they had no experience of doing this.

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently pointed out in an interview regarding KONY 2012, “One thing we know intellectually is that it helps to have a bridge character, that Americans don’t just want to focus on somebody abroad.”

4. Form. In the same way that the videos Syrians upload offer a raw, visceral look at the situation, the imagery from the reporter’s iPhone — not always of the best quality, prone to shaking — gives a perspective that large, professional cameras don’t always capture.

Given the circumstances the reporter is covering as well, a polished, glossy video simply would not make sense. In fact, it might take away from the understanding the documentary is trying to convey.

However, one thing that distinguishes this iPhone documentary from other mobile-captured footage on Syria is editing. The inclusion of music, cutting from one shot to another and positioning clips of interviews side-by-side before zooming in on one specific shot — these editing details provide a more stylized look at the entire situation, which is not something one finds in most Syrian YouTube coverage.

Because the majority of Al Jazeera’s footage itself is from the iPhone, the rawness of the actual situation in Syria — and what that means — doesn’t seem to be compromised.

Of course, this stylized editing is a resource that media outlets have, and a luxury for most people documenting the situation on the ground. But, it speaks volumes of the capacity that journalists have to make the situation in Syria come alive for the rest of the world — which, arguably, has been a battle in itself for the past year.

What do you think of this iPhone documentary? Will mobile devices become the default eyes and ears for reporters? Let us know in the comments.


Syrian Revolution Damascus 15 March 2011

Syrian revolution rallies in Damascus on 15th March 2011

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Image courtesy of iStockphoto, visual7

More About: al jazeera, citizen journalism, iphone, journalism, Syria

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‘Mad Men’ Prompts a New Parody Account on Twitter

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 04:44 PM PDT

6 Funny Tweets From @FatBettyFrancis

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The new season of Mad Men is off to a strong start on social media — it’s already the most talked-about premiere of 2012. Twitter users were abuzz with chatter about Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men — especially about the comeback of Don Draper’s ex-wife, Betty Draper Francis.

(SPOILER ALERT: We’ll reveal some of the key plot points of the episode in the next paragraph.)

SEE ALSO: 11 Hilarious 'Mad Men' Parody Twitter Accounts

Betty’s sudden weight gain was a major subplot of the episode. The actress playing her, January Jones, was pregnant during the shooting of the show. Now the unhappy spouse of a prominent political aide, she was seen chowing down on Bugles and ice cream, and asking her doctor for diet pills. That same doctor’s visit led to a brief thyroid cancer scare, after which Betty returned to her overeating ways.

The character was quickly turned into the newest parody account in the Mad Men Twitter family:@FatBettyFrancis. Meanwhile, #FBF (for “Fat Betty Francis”) seems to be trending on the microblogging service.

We’ve rounded up six humorous tweets from the new character. Funny or offensive? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: humor, mad men, Twitter

Is Star Wars Dance Game the ‘Worst Thing in the Universe?’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 04:20 PM PDT

Kinect Star Wars isn’t released until Tuesday — but fans of the George Lucas franchise are already horrified by what they’re seeing in early posts about the Xbox 360 game.

The game uses the Xbox console’s camera to incorporate physical movements — meaning you can swing a light saber or toss items using the force. But leaked videos of the dance sequences added into the game have left some fans slack-jawed.

A blog post from Topless Robot called this element of the game “the worst thing in the Star Wars universe” since Jar Jar Binks.

The video of Han Solo dancing in the chamber in Cloud City — where he was frozen in carbonite in Empire Strikes Back — has garnered almost 1,600 dislikes on YouTube since it was posted last Thursday. One of the recent comments read “Alternate name for this level: Dancing on Star Wars’ Grave.”

Another YouTube video features Princess Leia in her famous slave outfit dancing to a cover of No Doubt’s “Hollaback Girl”. More videos will likely be uploaded as fans pick up the game Tuesday.

What do you think of the video above? Is it as offensive as some fans claim? Tell us in the comments.

More About: kinect, Star Wars, Viral Vidoes

7 High-Tech Cars that will Save You Gas Money [PHOTOS]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 03:49 PM PDT

With the price of gas topping $4 a gallon in many parts of the U.S., drivers are once again ditching their gas guzzlers in favor of fuel-efficient electrics and hybrids.

Car manufacturing technology has been improving dramatically over the last few years, meaning there’s plenty of options for the efficient-savvy car buyer.

With so many options available, the amount of choices can be dizzying. But never fear — Mashable is here to help!

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite fuel-efficient cars, from the all-electric Nissan Leaf to the super-cool Tesla Roadster. Check them out in our gallery below.

1. Chevy Volt

It's an electric car you can plug into a garage outlet to charge overnight. You get 35 miles of driving on a full charge, then you're screwed. Wait, no you're not! Once it's out of juice, the Volt switches to a conventional gas engine for a total 375 miles of range. 94 MPGe / 37 MPG 375 Mile Range Photo courtesy Chevrolet

Click here to view this gallery.

Which one do you want to take for an eco-friendly spin? Sound off in the comments below.

Car fans should also be on the lookout for Mashable‘s coverage of the New York International Auto Show, which starts Thursday, April 5.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, Sjo

More About: automobiles, cars, hybrid, Hybrid vehicles

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Christina Milian of ‘The Voice’ Touts New Facebook Voting for Live Shows

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 03:32 PM PDT

Grammy-nominated singer Christina Milian, who has elevated The Voice‘s online clout as season two’s new social media correspondent, faces her first live show Monday night.

During the live performance shows, Milian and host Carson Daly will guide viewers in learning about the final 24 singers and the slew of ways to vote for them, including the just introduced voting via Facebook Timeline app.

“Facebook makes it easier for fans to vote ’cause most likely they’re on their Facebook at least once a day,” Milian told Mashable on Monday. “It makes it easier for them being that it's just a click away on Facebook.”

The Voice Facebook app gives fans another way to vote online in addition to voting at NBC.com, the NBC Live app and the NBC app. Last year, The Voice became the first televised singing competition in the U.S. to allow iTunes sales to count as votes. Viewers also can vote by phone or text.

Rival shows X Factor and American Idol have also toyed with fresh social media-driven voting methods. In October 2011, X Factor began allowing votes to come in from direct messages on Twitter. And for season 10 of Idol, producers let viewers vote on a dedicated Facebook page.

Milian’s presence so far this season has primarily been seen on Twitter, Facebook and The Voice‘s website, as well as in pre-recorded TV promos promoting the show’s social media initiatives.

On her Voice blog, she tells fans how to engage via social networks and curates tweets and posts referencing the show. She also interviews contestants and celebrity judges Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton for web-only videos.

“I’ve gotten over 150,000 more Twitter followers and enjoy the content I’ve been able to provide through interviews and such,” Milian says. “I think they’re really happy to be a part of the show through my content.”

Starting Monday, Milian says viewers will see more of her “backstage with the artist getting feedback from the artists after their performances in the Sprint Lounge.”

SEE ALSO: Meet the New Social Media Correspondent for ‘The Voice’: Christina Milian [Q&A]

Will you be voting through Facebook? Let us know if this voting method appeals to you.

BONUS: A Look Back at Christina Milian's Music Videos

Milian burst into the pop scene 10 years ago with "AM to PM," continued charting worldwide with "Dip It Low" in 2004 and has since released a third album and made several appearances on TV shows, including CSI.

"Us Against The World"

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More About: celebrities, Entertainment, Music, nbc, social tv, the-voice, TV

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7 Useful Pinterest Tools to Supercharge Your Pinfluence

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 03:13 PM PDT

1. PinReach

PinReach measures your Pinterest influence. As well as giving you an overall score, it provides easy-to-read charts and tables that show your most popular pins and boards.

Click here to view this gallery.

Several fun third-party sites and services have piggybacked on Pinterest‘s impressive success, some of which can help you get more out of the pinboard-based social networking site.

Whether you want to measure your Pinterest influence, pin website screenshots, or create good-looking text-based pins, these seven services are well worth bookmarking for future reference.

SEE ALSO: 5 Interesting Pinterest Marketing Campaigns

Take a look through our selection in the gallery above. Let us know in the comments about any other useful tools, sites and services for Pinterest.

More About: apps, features, pinterest, Social Media, tips and tricks, trending

Tumblr Adds Facebook Timeline Integration

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 02:54 PM PDT

Facebook Tumblr Graphic 600

Tumblr is joining the Facebook Timeline integration bandwagon.

The social blog announced today that sharing posts to Facebook would get “a billion times” easier. Tumblr posts now appear on your Facebook Timeline, News Feed and Ticker when you chose “send to Facebook.” Tumblr likes and replies will appear on Facebook, as well.

Tumblr users can adjust their blog settings to share posts on their Timelines. If you already have your Tumblr linked to Facebook, you’ll be get a notification that says, “We’ve improved Facebook sharing. Upgrade now.”

Your Tumblr posts will now be grouped together on Timeline — just like Spotify songs, Pinterest pins and Foursquare checkins — making Timelines easier to navigate.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Announces Tight Integration of 60 Apps to Timeline, More on the Way

What social apps are you still waiting to see integrate with Facebook Timeline? Share your picks in the comments.

BONUS: 9 Free Tumblr Themes That Look Like Pinterest

1. Quadro

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

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More About: Facebook, facebook timeline, trending, tumblr

Jasmine Villegas Puts You In Her Music Video

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 02:39 PM PDT

Microsoft is showing off the power of HTML5 and Internet Explorer with an interactive music video for teen star Jasmine Villegas.

The IE team worked with creative agencies Digital Kitchen and Bradley and Montgomery to create an interactive HTML5-driven experience that pushes the boundaries of what HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 can achieve.

The video is for a remix of Villegas’ hit song, “Just a Friend” and it lives at JustAFriend.ie. The song is pure bubblegum pop — it’s frustratingly infectious — and the various technical tricks that have gone into the experience are worth checking out for web lovers and developers alike.

Once users enter the video — which integrates with Facebook — they become part of the experience. In addition to watching the video, users can take part in mini-games within the video itself, with their actions altering what appears on screen.

“Just a Friend” works on all modern browsers — including Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari. Microsoft, of course, is highlighting its performance in Internet Explorer 9 and 10.

We spoke with Ryan Gavin, general manager of Internet Explorer, about the project and what it means for Microsoft. For the last 18 months, Microsoft has been pushing forward with its idea of a more beautiful web, and with that, a web focused less on plugins (such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight) and more on HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3.

In addition to building pure HTML5 versions of Cut the Rope, Microsoft also recently released a fully-interactive Inaugural Capitol Tour in conjunction with Lionsgate for the hit film, The Hunger Games. With The Hunger Games, the idea behind the project was to re-imagine a movie website.

The results have been stunning, with thousands of users logging in with Facebook and Twitter. The site was such a success, its servers crashed the first two days it was online.

With JustAFriend.ie, the goal was “to recreate the music video,” as Gavin says. With a few exceptions, the music video as an artform has evolved little since the late 1980s. This is even more true as music consumption moves online, through services such as Vevo.

Fortunately, the tide is starting to change. In the last few years, we’ve seen bands such as Arcade Fire and the Red Hot Chili Peppers embrace the idea of the music video.

Arcade Fire’s “Wilderness Downtown” video was one of the first examples of HTML5 that made jaws drop. Gavin hopes that from a technology standpoint, JustAFriend.ie will do the same thing.

On the Windows Steam Blog and on the dedicated behind-the-scenes page, the IE team goes into detail about how certain effects and features were achieved.

The dev site even has code samples and JavaScript libraries that developers can use with their own projects.

To me, that’s the most exciting part of this experiment. Not only is the video a fun experience, but the developers are sharing their hard work with the community.

Let’s hope this can kickstart a new wave of music video artists moving forward. Let us know what you think of the video and the use of HTML5 in the comments.

More About: HTML5, internet explorer, jasmine villegas, microsoft, music video

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Fear the Unibrow! NCAA Star’s Epic Eye Hair Dominates Internet [PICS]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 02:23 PM PDT

1. Y U NO?!?

A meme hasn't truly arrived until it gets the "Y U NO" treatment.

[via quickmeme.com]

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Monday’s NCAA championship game will likely be a bittersweet moment for Kentucky basketball fans. Their Wildcats are favored to beat Kansas for the March Madness crown, but it will almost certainly be freshman phenom Anthony Davis’s final college game before heading off to the NBA.

And to make matters worse, he’s taking his unibrow with him.

Davis’s ethereal play this year — he became just the second freshman ever named national player of the year by the Associated Press — was approached in greatness only by that majestic batch of brow-connecting thatch.

His unibrow became a nearly instant sensation among fans at games and online. Supporters have spent the season paying tribute with signs held aloft in the stands and hilarious online riffs that have spread on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and message boards.

One superfan even shaved an homage into his chest hair, using nipples as eyes.

SEE ALSO: 15 Hilarious Sports Parody Twitter Accounts

Davis, for his part, appears quite secure with himself and doesn’t seem to mind the attention. (Something about being the assumed number-one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft probably does that for a guy.)

"Only he could pull it off," teammate Marquis Teague told The Wall Street Journal. "He's a unique person. He's OK with it, and he just has fun with it."

The epic unibrow has spawned a Facebook Page with more than 7,000 likes, as well as at least two dedicated Twitter accounts. It’s inspired tweets, graphics, even t-shirts available to buy online.

Scroll through the slideshow above to see some of the web’s best Anthony Davis unibrow-inspired creations. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image via diylol.com

More About: march madness, memes, sports, trending

Get Your Nerd On With Nerdist Industries’ New YouTube Channel

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 02:05 PM PDT

Entertainment company Nerdist Industries will be providing fans with even more ways to consume its nerdy content with its new YouTube Partner Channel.

According to Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, the Nerdist Channel will cover anything about gaming, comic books, tech and movies — however the content is “a whole new slate of programming” compared to the podcast, website or Nerdist News.

SEE ALSO: These 10 Hilarious Podcasts Will Make You LOL

What to expect on the channel’s all-video nerd party? There will be different cycles of daily series, like “All Star Celebrity Bowling” on Mondays, or “Comic Book Club” Wednesdays. There will also be features such as Cute Things Exploding and Ain’t It Cool News with Harry Knowles.

Here’s a preview of what else to expect on the new channel.

“The way that I’ve always programmed the website, or the podcast, or the channel is I just put stuff on there that I like,” says Hardwick. “These are things that I like — that’s sort of why I started the all-nerd thing to begin with.”

According to Hardwick, there was previously “a gap in the quality of nerd-themed programming,” which is something he hopes to fill with all of the platforms under the Nerdist umbrella.

“We all are working really hard on this channel every day and care deeply about what we're doing and the audience we're doing it for,” Hardwick writes in his welcome letter. “In exchange for your subscription and support, I promise that we will do everything within our power to give you regular, quality programming that is relevant to your nerdly interests.

The Nerdist Channel is just the latest in YouTube’s push to curate original, longer-form programming via its YouTube Partner Program. YouTube has focused heavily on building-out its channel strategy in 2012, hoping to turn YouTube from simple web destination to the cable network of the future.

What do you think of YouTube’s push into original programming? Does the Nerdist Channel whet your appetite for all things nerdy and awesome? Let us know in the comments.

More About: comedy, humor, nerdist, Video, YouTube, youtube partnership program

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Another Google Easter Egg? Chinese Page is Very Fishy

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 01:44 PM PDT

Google‘s Chinese landing page is great if you’re looking to make some waves. But if you’re looking to actually do some searches, you may want to cast your net elsewhere.

The page is pretty useless for searching. If you try to do a search in English, related images drop from the top of the screen and weigh the search bar down. If you opt for the “I feel lucky” button, you get gold Google coins.

While Google reps couldn’t be reached for comment, the page appears to be a solution of sorts for Google China — which is not functional in that country.

In the past, Google automatically directed Chinese users to the search giant’s Hong Kong page. In 2010, Google announced it would stop doing that after the Chinese government threatened to take away Google’s license to operate in China.

So what’s up with this site? Veiled protest or just another example of Google’s droll humor? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Enter "Google Gravity" in the search bar. Hit "I'm feeling lucky" (if you have Google Instant enabled, it's on the right hand side of the suggested searches). Then watch your world fall down.

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More About: china, easter eggs, Google

How to Ask Someone to Prom via ‘Draw Something’ [PICS]

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 01:28 PM PDT

1. He's Not Tiptoeing Around It

From @KySipocz

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It’s getting to be that time of year, when high school guys and girls prepare for the most important night of the year: prom.

But when you’re getting ready to ask out your date, why go the traditional route? Draw Something, the game that has taken over everyone’s smartphone in the past month, has become a clever way for high schoolers to ask their special someones to prom.

These drawings, submitted to us by the Draw Something team at OMGPOP, are just a small slice of the creative ways users are playing the game. Draw Something‘s popularity has shot it to the top of both the Apple App Store and the Android Market. And at the end of March, Zynga acquired OMGPOP for $180 million.

SEE ALSO: Draw Something: 20 Amazing Smartphone Sketches

Have you seen anything cool happen during a game of Draw Something? Share it in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shoresidephoto

More About: apps, Draw something, Gaming, Mobile, omgpop, Zynga

World Autism Awareness Day: Mobile Apps, TV Networks ‘Light It Up Blue’

Posted: 02 Apr 2012 01:17 PM PDT

tom autism 600

Autism Speaks has been illuminating iconic landmarks around the world with blue light for World Autism Day for the last three years, as part of its “Light It Up Blue” campaign.

This year, the tech world is joining the campaign for the first time, as Outfit7‘s Talking Tom mobile app joins the awareness effort.

Talking Tom, the fifth most-downloaded mobile app of all time, will have a blue T-shirt you can download in the app. By downloading the blue T-shirt, players can express their support for the community with autism, by including the blue tee shirt in videos they share on Facebook and YouTube.

While the illuminated global landmarks, such as the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Buddha in Japan and Niagara Falls, attract a lot of eyeballs, the Talking Tom app is unique for giving individuals the chance to be a part of the campaign.

SEE ALSO: Online Therapy Program to Help Fight Autism

Autism Speaks is taking to cable television, too, as 23 channels join the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. In addition to AMC Networks, which is leading the cable TV effort, Animal Planet, Bravo, Comedy Central, the Food Network and many others are taking part.

Networks will run a 15-second PSA about autism. Some networks will turn their logo and branding blue for the day as well.

World Autism Awareness Day, celebrated annually April 2, is a fairly new awareness holiday, first recognized by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007. Despite its recent beginnings, “Today is World Autism Awareness Day” trended worldwide on Twitter Monday morning, showing the campaign’s wide reach.

Can tech and social media play a larger role in future awareness day campaigns? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apps, cable tv, Social Good

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