Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Toshiba Debuts Monstrous 13-Inch Tablet [PICS]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Toshiba Debuts Monstrous 13-Inch Tablet [PICS]”


Toshiba Debuts Monstrous 13-Inch Tablet [PICS]

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 04:59 AM PDT


Toshiba Excite Tablets




The Toshiba Excite 13 (bottom right), with a 13-inch screen, is the world's biggest mass-market tablet, dwarfing its brothers in the newly christened Excite lineup, the Excite 10 (bottom left) and Excite 7.7 (top).

Click here to view this gallery.

Up till now tablets have generally been in two size classes: smaller models like the Kindle Fire whose screens measure 7 inches or less, and large-size models like the iPad that are in the 10-inch range. But the category has evolved. Now there’s a new giant-size species.

Toshiba just unveiled its new line of Android tablets, called Excite, and one of them’s a doozy. If the iPad is a mid-size sedan in tablet world, the new Toshiba Excite 13 is an SUV: a 13-inch monster that makes other tablets look like pygmies.

Why would anyone want a tablet that big? Toshiba has a couple of ideas.

The first is that in sometimes multiple people gather around the same tablet to collectively watch a video or look at photos. Say you have three kids, and each one wants the tablet. Instead of getting three tablets (or having them all fight for one), the large screen lets them all share the tablet. And propped up on a kickstand — on a kitchen counter, for example — users can see media clearly from a short distance away.

The other reason you may want a dreadnought-class tablet is as a casual gaming platform. If you lay the Excite 13 on, say, a coffee table, it would theoretically be used as kind of an electronic board game for people gathered around — similar to Microsoft Surface.

As you’d expect, Toshiba’s ginormous tablet is heftier than other models, weighing in at 2.2 pounds, although it’s just 0.4 inches thick. Its LED-backlit LCD screen has a resolution of 1,600 x 900 pixels and a widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio, and it has 10-finger touch support.

SEE ALSO: Seventh-Grader Plans to Build World's Biggest Tablet [PICS]

The Excite 13 packs a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip with GeForce graphics and 1GB of RAM, so it should be ready for the most performance-taxing games you can throw at it. It ships with the latest Android, version 4.0 or “Ice Cream Sandwich.” Like Toshiba’s previous Thrive tablets that the Excite line replaces, it has micro USB and micro HDMI ports, plus a full-size SD card slot.

We got some hands-on time with the Excite 13 and were taken aback by its massive size. It’s noticeably heavier than an iPad, or roughly as heavy as a smaller-size MacBook Air. Still, we must say videos look fantastic on it, making them that much more shareable between multiple people — the tablet’s main raison d’être.

The Excite 13 strains the definition of “mobile,” but we could see it as a family device, occasionally propped up on a kitchen counter, then come evening moved to the family room for the Android equivalent of Sorry.

If you like the sound of that experience, it’s going the cost you: The Excite 13 starts at $650 for 32GB of storage. The 64GB version goes for $750.

Do you like the idea of a gigantic, 13-inch tablet? Let us know why in the comments.

More About: android, Excite, tablets, thrive, Toshiba


Today’s Top Stories: Sony Forecasts $6.4 Billion Loss, Facebook Buys Instagram

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 04:39 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.

Facebook Acquires Instagram for $1 Billion

Reactions to yesterday’s news that Facebook plans to acquire Instagram for $1 billion are still piling up. While we hope that Facebook won’t ruin Instagram, we already dug out some alternatives to the popular photo sharing service.

Sony Forecasts $6.4 Billion Loss

Sony has once again changed its forecast for the fiscal 2011, announcing it will take a $6.4 billion net loss, more than doubling its previous $2.9 billion loss forecast. The additional losses are "primarily due to the establishment of valuation allowances against certain deferred tax assets, predominantly in the U.S," Sony claims.

Iran to Permanently Shut Down Internet

The Iranian government plans to completely cut off access from the internet to its citizens and establish a national intranet within five months, the IBF reports. In order to “clean up” the internet, the Iranian authorities will deny its people access to services such as Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo and Hotmail; the only accessible foreign sites will be the ones that appear on the government’s “white list.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: Facebook, features, first to know series, instagram, iran, mashable, sony

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Sony Forecasts a Record $6.4 Billion Net Loss

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 01:51 AM PDT


Doubling its previous estimate of a $2.9 billion loss for the fiscal 2011, Sony now forecasts a record $6.4 billion loss.

The additional losses are “primarily due to the establishment of valuation allowances against certain deferred tax assets, predominantly in the U.S,” Sony claims.

The news comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s reports that the troubled Japanese consumer electronics giants plans to cut 10,000 jobs, about 6 percent of its global workforce.

These reports might get confirmed on April 12, when Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai is set to brief the company's business plan. The company will present its annual results on May 21.

The restructuring should bring Sony back into the positive in a year’s time. Sony forecasts its consolidated income for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 will be approximately 180 billion yen ($2.2 billion).

More About: earnings report, financials, loss, sony

For more Business coverage:


10 Waterproof Smartphone Cases to Prevent Disaster

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 08:58 PM PDT


1. EscapeCapsule




The Kickstarter product has received an overwhelming response, so your pre-order may take awhile. But the high impact polycarbonate case looks worth it. Price: $69.99

Click here to view this gallery.

The weather is warming up, which means you’re ready to take on the elements. In preparation for summer swimming, cycling and singing in the rain, make sure to keep your smartphone well-protected.

We’ve gathered 10 waterproof smartphone cases that’ll help prevent many an accident. Looking for an everyday waterproof iPhone cover? Or maybe a kooky dry bag for a number of smartphone devices? We’ve got you covered — literally.

SEE ALSO: 8 Handy Tablet Styluses to Boost Your Creativity

Have you ever wished you had a waterproof cover? For instance, when you accidentally left your phone in your jeans pocket and then did the laundry? Yeah, we’ve been there.

More About: accessories, features, Gadgets, iphone, Mobile, smartphone, waterproof


Need an Instagram Alternative? This Photo App Has Old-School Filters, Private Sharing

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 08:34 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.

Pinweel AppName: Pinweel

Quick Pitch: Pinweel is a free iPhone app that lets you snap photos, apply filters and share albums with a select group of friends.

Genius Idea: Group photo sharing is easy and private on this well-designed mobile interface.


Many Instagram users decided to delete the app, after news broke of Facebook‘s $1 billion acquisition of the wildly popular photo app, with approximately 30 million users.

Regular smartphone photos may be too muted or rectangular for these former Instagram addicts. Enter Pinweel.

Instagram users expressed their concern with Facebook’s purchase of their favorite photo app due to privacy concerns.

Pinweel’s co-founders Rich Bulman and James Tillinghast thought a lot about that very concern when designing this mobile app.

“We believed there was a better way to be able to quickly and easily share photos with groups of friends, and to share photos more privately than you can do on a photo network like Facebook,” Bulman told Mashable.

Pinweel is easy and speedy. On the in-app camera, there is a simple on-screen flash button, one that rotates the frame and 10 beautiful filters to apply, named by years. Filter “1931″ makes square black-and-white photos, while “1987″ outlines photos like a Polaroid. Our favorite is “1999,” which washes frames over with a sunny yellow, orange tinge.

After the picture is taken, you can push it on Facebook or Twitter. You can also share photos with friends and family by creating private and public albums.

Pinweel took more than a year to develop and is self-funded to date. The developers aimed to make a product that could provide a real-time photo sharing space with controls.

“We set out to build a better solution to photo sharing that would address those issues to make it faster, easier and make it more private when you want it it to be,” Bulman says.

Multiple photographers can add photos to Pinweel albums. Pictures load instantly, ridding the need to remind friends to share their photos.

“On the public side of things, users can create collaboratively. We see our users doing both of those things,” Tillinghast says.

Pinweel Photo-Sharing App Screenshot

One user in Malaysia has found a cool use for public albums.

“We have a user in Malaysia who is taking pictures of entrees at all restaurants in Kuala Lumpur,” Tillinghast says. “He has a whole set of albums with maps on how to get to the restaurant. He is obviously creating a catalog of images that anyone who visiting Kuala Lumpar can find the best restaurant.”

Pinweel will soon offer companies the chance to build brand channels where they can upload product photos and have customers upload pictures.

The app launched in mid-February and is currently available in the Apple App Store. The Android version will be available later this year.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Βethan


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: apps, bizspark, instagram, photography


Buying an App From a Developer is as Simple as Ebay

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 08:01 PM PDT


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

Quick Pitch: Apptopia is a marketplace where developers can sell their apps.

Genius Idea: A mobile app exchange that helps broker the sale of mobile apps, including selling and transferring ownership, code, users and revenue.


Apptopia is a marketplace for developers to sell their mobile apps — including code, users and revenue — after they move on to another great idea , incur other responsibilities or just want to make some additional cash. The startup says the average app on its site sells for $7,500.

For the most part, Apptopia is a self-serve platform like eBay or Amazon. Developers just sync their developer account when they sign up to list an app. When an app sells, however, Apptopia does help broker the sale. For instance, it works with the buyer and seller to transfer the code.

"For the first time, mobile app developers now have a legitimate exit strategy and buyers looking to get involved in the mobile industry have a new investment opportunity," Jonathan Kay, founder of Apptopia, told Mashable during an interview.

Interested buyers can search for apps in several categories, including education, business, photography, games, lifestyle, healthcare and fitness and medical. Each app listing includes reviews and ratings and provides information about the total revenue, total downloads, the number of downloads during the best and worst months, the current bid amount and the time left to buy.

For each app sold, the company takes 15% of the sale and may eventually charge a listing fee price of up to $50.

Apptopia has raised $500,000 in funding and launched its first non-beta version today.


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: apptopia, bizspark

For more Business coverage:


‘Legend of Grimrock’ Resurrects the Old-School Dungeon Crawl [REVIEW]

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 07:32 PM PDT


Calling all graph paper cartographers! If you’re looking to get lost in a subterranean cesspit teaming with badass beasties, your wait is nearly over.

Finnish indie studio Almost Human Games is about to release Legend of Grimrock, a first-person fantasy RPG that throws way back to the grid-based dungeon crawls of yesteryear. The nostalgia factor, paired with a beautiful game engine, has intrigued fans since the project was announced last summer.

Grimrock will be released on April 11, but Mashable got the chance to dungeon dive early. If you prefer your corridors dark and your heroes uncomplicated, grab a torch and join us for a hands-on review.


First Impressions


Legend of Grimrock Character Generation

The game is light on its feet, and loads effortlessly. Be sure to check the required specs to see if it will run smoothly on your laptop or older PC.

Before you begin a new game, you’ll see an option to tick “Old School Mode.” This feature turns off auto-mapping. If you choose it, you’ll have to keep track of your progress the old fashioned way — with pen and paper. Without a reliable map, you will become hopelessly lost, so consider it an option for hardcore players.

Once that’s decided, you can jump right in by auto-generating a party, or spend some time in the all-important character creation screen. However, we were disappointed by the lack of choices here. Only four races, three classes and a limited supply of character portraits await you. But if you forgive this scarcity, you’ll find the skill and attribute systems quite rich. Distribute points for skills and talents, pick names for your adventurers (or auto-generate them), and get going.

You won’t encounter any fancy cinematics or long-winded exposition in Grimrock. The back story is simple — your party of prisoners is tossed into the dungeon beneath Mount Grimrock for crimes unnamed. Survival is unlikely. You begin the crawl with your wits alone, but like all good role-playing adventures, the tatters you collect along the way will slowly build your party from zeroes to heroes.


On the Grid


Legend of Grimrock Map

One of the reasons gamers are so excited for Grimrock is that it plays on a grid the way many of its tabletop and PC forerunners did. Grimrock’s dungeon is not an expansive, open world but a series of narrow corridors, sliding walls and trap doors.

You can only walk in four cardinal directions, but you can fluidly survey all 360 degrees by dragging the right mouse button. This is important for spying puzzle clues and keeping an eye on creepers that inhabit the depths. Your party needs to be in a square adjacent to an enemy to fight it, but players will quickly find themselves runing through the corridors during combat to avoid being overtaken.


Gameplay



The Classic Dungeon Crawl




Take your party of four would-be heroes into the depths of Mount Grimrock. As prisoners, you start only with the rags on your back.

Click here to view this gallery.

Grimrock’s interface couldn’t be more intuitive. Simply click on doors, buttons and pull-chains to activate them. Drag and drop items from the dungeon to your characters’ inventories. Your party is easily managed from the formation on the bottom-right.

The mechanics are object-oriented. You’ll use specific items to interact with the environment — pairing keys with locks, solving puzzles with scrolls and gemstones. Each party member has an inventory weight limit (dependent on his strength attribute), and your heroes will starve if they don’t eat, so save the escargot you slice off those giant, bloodthirsty snails.

The dungeon gets darker as you progress, so make sure at least one party member is carrying a torch. They burn out, so stock a steady supply.


Combat


Danger is ever-present in the dungeons of Grimrock. You’ll have to master the fight if you hope to survive.

Combat is turn-based, but in real time. That is, it takes time for each party member to ready himself again after dealing a blow, but enemies won’t stand by while you think about your next move. You’ll have to time your attack sequence and movements in order to best foes. It’s easy to lose your bearings as you shuffle to avoid enemies.

Your party of four travels in a square formation — two in front, two in back. You’ll want to arrange and equip them accordingly. Characters in the front will bear the brunt of enemy damage, but they will have a clear line of attack. Characters in the rear are safer, but they’re unable to reach enemies with melee weapons. Arm them with ranged attacks or spells to ensure they pull their weight in combat.

If you’ve got a mage in tow, her spells are readied by combining arcane symbols from a table. Hold them there until it’s time to unleash them on an enemy. As she levels up, you’ll have the opportunity to add attribute points that will unlock new spells.

All the beasts we bested died in a generic burst of sparks. Perhaps this adds to the old-school charm, but the lack of visceral gore is stark, especially as the monsters themselves are extremely well-animated. The sound design is worth noting too — you can hear every squish and squirm as the baddies creep around corners.


The Bottom Line


If you’re looking for a rich and expansive fantasy world, save your gold for a title like Skyrim or The Witcher 2. If you prefer a no-nonsense dungeon crawl that plays by classic D&D rules and focuses on one quest at a time, Legend of Grimrock is worth every penny.

Pre-order it now for $11.99. It will be available for $14.99 on Steam, GOG.com and Grimrock.net starting April 11.

Images courtesy of Almost Human Games.

More About: Entertainment, features, Gaming, Legend of Grimrock, review

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5 Tips for Creating and Maintaining Customer Loyalty

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 06:11 PM PDT


Guy Nirpaz is the CEO and co-founder of Totango, which provides a customer engagement platform for software companies.

Selling cloud and software-as-a-service applications is all about driving usage, adoption, and customer success—not about selling. This is obviously true for onboarding new customers, who start with a free trial and will only pay you if they like what they see. It is even more true for existing customers, who will only renew their subscription if they love what you do for them. Below are five tips on how to generate and maintain maximum customer love, in either situation.


1. Make Customers Love Your Product


Customers will love your product if they get the following from it.

  • Tremendous Value: Is your application delivering on its promise? For example, if your app is built for project management, are users successfully creating projects, inviting colleagues, and increasing productivity via efficient collaboration? Also, do you have a workflow in place to increase the success of lagging customers? This approach allows you to improve your product based on what you learn.
    • Enjoyment: Just getting the job done is not enough. Your product should be a delight to use. Invest in usability and product design and make your product truly intuitive. How do you know you are doing a good job at this? There’s a good chance your customers are on Twitter, recommending the product to colleagues.
      • Great Support: Build wizards to walk your customer through how to successfully use your app. If there is a bug, reach out with a solution. Help could be a phone call, e-mail, or a link to a piece of educational content.

      2. A Customer Success Team


      Assign one executive on your team to be responsible for customer success. This person’s function should be to help customers realize the value they subscribed for. The success manager will also guide every new customer through a series of training steps. After the initial 90-day onboarding period, the success manager will monitor for any signs of customer unhappiness to determine if a customer needs more attention. The entire customer success team should also be responsible for renewals and expansion sales.

      In a subscription economy, customer success is key to your growth. Successful customers stay longer, increasing your revenue.


      3. Create a Customer Health Score


      Invest in technology that tracks customer health. Start with a simple survey tool like Survey Monkey. It will help you determine what your Net Promoter Score is on a quarterly basis. You can obtain a Net Promoter Score by asking customers how likely is it that they would recommend your company to a friend or colleague, on a scale of 1-10? The percentage of Detractors (0-6 rating) is then subtracted from the percentage of Promoters (9-10 rating) to obtain a Net Promoter Score.

      Even better, track customer health in real time by analyzing customer usage of your application. It turns out that almost all cancellations are preceded by a period of no use. You can create in-house scripts to track how engaged customers are with your application, and segment customers by their engagement score.

      To help customers succeed, you need to find out who’s doing well and who’s struggling to get value from your application. The only way to do that systematically is to define a consistent health benchmark for your paying customers, then track each account to see who needs help. Here are some example benchmarks:

      • Good Health: Successfully using the application
      • Average Health: Using the application, but not at the level of a successful customer
      • Poor Health: Not using the application; unsuccessful

      What defines a healthy customer depends on your service, but be sure to define, track, and monitor it on an ongoing basis


      4. Nurture Your Paying Customers


      Lifecycle marketing is the discipline of marketing to your existing customers, based on the status of the relationship. There are two important lessons here. One, don't stop selling once customers sign up for the paid service. Two, don't treat all customers equally. That means you should communicate very differently with a customer in poor health than with a customer in good health.

      For example, send customer success stories to the customer who isn't actively using your software. Perhaps call and check in with those high-value customers who started off using your software but then disappeared. Or consider asking active users to participate in customer case studies and referral programs.


      5. Learn From Churn


      When customers are cancelling or not renewing their subscription with you, they churn. So, what will you learn from every customer that leaves you? You won’t. Unless you have data. This is why you should consider creating a churn database. This would be a place where you store information about cancelled customers. It should contain the following:

      • Reason: Why did the customer leave?
      • Membership Length: How long were they customers before cancelling?
      • Engagement Trends: How engaged were they throughout their subscription?

      See if you can identify and mitigate trends. Your goal should be to improve the experience for current and future customers. Customer success should be a pillar of your business. Happy customers help generate new leads and business. Unsatisfied ones create PR nightmares. In our connected world, customer success is your most important marketing asset.

      Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ewg3D

      More About: contributor, customer service, features, software as a service


Netflix Starts a PAC. Will It Lobby For a New SOPA?

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:39 PM PDT


Netflix has a new feature: Instantly streaming thousands of dollars to lobbyists and candidates through a Political Action Committee.

The company has formed a committee named FLIXPAC, according to Politico. Put simply, a PAC is an organization that lobbies for a certain candidate or piece of legislation. Via FLIXPAC, Netflix can make contributions to candidates in the 2012 presidential and congressional races — up to $5,000 each.

According to congressional records, Netflix spent a meager $20,000 on lobbying the Federal government in 2009 — but that figure exploded to $130,000 and $500,000 in 2010 and 2011 respectively as the SOPA fight took off. Throughout 2011, Netflix reported using the services of approximately 20 lobbyists.

Officially, Netflix defined itself as neutral in the SOPA debates. It never appeared on the list of companies backing the legislation. However, the US Chamber of Commerce reported receiving a letter from CEO Reed Hastings which was “supportive” of SOPA’s goals.

There are a host of cybersecurity and intellectual property bills currently making their way through congress, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

Netflix could be in favor of an intellectual property bill which protects the content they license and prevents the company from being held liable for infringement.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment. How do you think Netflix will use its PAC powers? Let us know in the comments.

Update: A Netflix spokesperson denied the PAC would be used to support SOPA, and said the following in an email:

“PACs are commonplace for companies that lead a big, growing market and Netflix is no exception. Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology. It was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA. Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”

More About: intellectual property, netflix, Politics, SOPA, US


Meet a New Friend, Robotic Puppet TJ*

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 05:13 PM PDT


If you’ve ever been looking for a robotic puppet, your day has finally arrived.

Meet TJ*. He’s one part toy and one part science project. Just like a puppet, his owners — or rather, his puppeteers — can use a remote control to move his eyes up and down and left and right. And they can move TJ*s jaw too.

And just like a robot, TJ*s “brain” is essentially a computer system. He’s able to move because he has a servo-controlled head, which contains the Arduino open-source processor. That means that you’re not just limited to using the remote control’s set functions to move TJ*. You can write your own software and reprogram TJ*’s brain so that he can do whatever you want.

TJ* is a Kickstarter project by Jeff Kessler, a mechanical engineering graduate student at Stanford. Kessler originally started TJ* for a film project — he wanted to make a movie with a custom puppet — but when he realized what other people could do with TJ*, he decided to make the project bigger. That’s when he started writing more code for the Arduino processor and opened up the Kickstarter campaign.

Kessler sees the robotic puppet not only as a toy, but as an educational tool and tinkering platform for adults and children alike.

“I think TJ* is a really fun way to learn about Arduino and server robotics,” Kessler says in his Kickstarter pitch. “I would love for TJ* to help you get started telling your own stories, or building your own cool robots.”

Kessler was originally hoping for about $2,500 with the Kickstarter campaign, but with five days to go until it closes, he’s received more that $32,000 — a phenomenal feat.

That’s not all. While TJ* is currently made out of fiberboard, with “upgrades,” you can get him in colored plastic, paper “skin” and LED eyes. And Kessler’s also working on an “Emotive TJ*” that can show feelings like smiles or frowns.

What do you think of TJ*? Would you be interested in playing with this robotic puppet?

More About: kickstarter, technology


‘Time to Enjoy’ App Finds Local Events When You’ve Got Time For Them

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:38 PM PDT


Finding something to do around town is pretty easy. Finding something to do around town when you actually have free time, however, can sometimes pose quite the challenge. A new app called Time to Enjoy helps you discover events near you at times you’re looking for something to do.

"When you think about planning something to do, it always comes down to choosing a time," said Jan Anton, CEO and co-founder of Time to Enjoy. "This inspired us to create a time-driven app designed to sync with your calendar, so you can sift through events that fit your free time and lifestyle with just a few simple clicks."

Rather than focusing on the “what” in event planning, Time to Enjoy focuses on the “when.”

The app aggregates details on millions of hyper-local events ranging from sporting events and concerts to art exhibits, yoga classes and kid’s activities. The app can be synced with your calendar and suggests activities that are being held when you might be able to attend them.

For instance, if you work 9-5, the app might suggest that you attend a book reading at 6 p.m., but it would leave out info about a wine tasting at 3 p.m.

The app offers information about events, and in some cases directions or the ability to buy tickets directly from your phone. Once you’ve decided which events you plan on attending, you can invite your friends via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter from directly within the the app.

"Today's mobile technology is completely changing the way people search for the information they need," said Brendan Boyd, marketing director and co-founder of Time to Enjoy. "Our app is reinventing mobile search, requiring as few as three clicks to find any kind of event. Instead of having to call or text friends to join, app users can click to share with contacts."

The iOS version of Time to Enjoy is available Monday. The Android version of the app is expected to be released later this year.

Do any of you currently use an app to find things to do? What do you think of Time to Enjoy’s approach? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: App, Events, Mobile


Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom: The $400 Million Man?

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:13 PM PDT


Just how wealthy are Instagram‘s nine employees after Facebook acquired the two-year-old startup for $1 billion?

Ridiculously wealthy, according to one report. A source “close to the company” — likely an investor — shared some of Instagram’s 2011 financial data with Wired. According to the data, Instagram cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom owns 40% of the company, meaning he stands to take home $400 million from the sale pre-tax. Instagram’s other cofounder, Mike Krieger, will net around $100 million from the sale with his roughly 10% take.

Instagram’s investors also, of course, made out well. Benchmark Capital, which led Instagram’s $7 million Series A round in 2011, has earned around $180 million with its 18% stake. Two other venture capital firms, Andreessen Horowitz and Baseline Ventures, stand to net around $100 million with their 10% stakes.

According to the source, the remaining 10%, or $100 million, will be divided among Instagram’s nine employees. (For the record, no one outside the company is exactly sure how many employees Instagram has. We know the company hired its ninth employee in March, but some reports claim that the startup has between 12 and 13 employees.)

The amount each individual will receive will be based on the amount of time he or she has spent with the company.

A billion dollars is an impressive sum for a company that never developed a clear revenue model. Where Instagram did shine was in user adoption and engagement: the iPhone edition of the app has been downloaded and activated more than 30 million times since its October 2010 release. More than 1 million people downloaded the Android version of the app in the 12 hours following its launch last week.

Instagram’s new millionaires will now join Facebook full time. They’ll be in good company, as many early Facebook employees just became millionaires themselves.


Home View




The home view shows a stream of photos your Instagram friends have taken.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: andreessen horowitz, baseline ventures, benchmark capital, Facebook, instagram, Kevin Systrom

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Open Government is Go for Launch at NASA

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 04:01 PM PDT


NASA has revamped its two-year-old Open Government Plan with a new website and a commitment to building a community-focused online architecture, featuring new tools for data sharing and open source development.

The new Open Government Plan, “Flagship Initiative,” is the creation of an “accessible, participatory and transparent web environment,” a goal reflected in the new site. Users are welcomed to a colorful, easy-to-read and easy-to-browse database of NASA projects and information — and they’re encouraged to comment on everything.

NASA’s overall open government goal is to be seen as a model for open government across the world. They acknowledge that no open government structure is ever finished, and they vow to keep improving their system.

“We used this milestone to sharpen our focus and commitment to Open Government,” wrote Nick Skytland, open source program manager at NASA, in a blog post. “We see Open Government as the responsibility of every person who works at NASA and we take seriously the principles of participation, collaboration and transparency in all that we do.”

Additionally, NASA wants a focus on cloud computing and integrated search, video and social media channels. NASA has long been a pioneer of open government and social media — the agency’s “tweetups,” for example, have been immensely popular.

The plan also includes three other major goals, which the agency calls “Major Initiatives.”

First up, a focus on open source code and software, accessible at code.nasa.gov. Any user can use NASA’s code to develop new tools in the name of science.

Next, NASA wants to continue embracing open data — allowing citizen scientists and researchers across the world to dive into the agency’s data in the name of scientific advancement. NASA’s already got more than 1,000 datasets available on data.gov, but the agency says that’s just a “small beginning.”

NASA’s final open government initiative revolves around “technology accelerators” — essentially, crowdsourcing.

By opening up its data troves to the world, the agency is hoping that developers across the planet will pitch in and do interesting and useful things with NASA data. To that end, NASA is participating in the International Space Apps Challenge (a social good hackathon), LAUNCH (public/private partnerships centered around sustainability) and Random Hacks of Kindness (promoting open source solutions for social good).

The space agency also launched a directory that includes more than 100 NASA projects, along with space for users to comment and discuss each idea. The site highlights certain NASA activities, including “Citizen Science” and “Zero Robotics.” It’s completely searchable and very user-friendly.

What do you think of NASA’s new open government initiative? Sound off in the comments below.

More About: NASA, open government, Politics, Social Good, US

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How to Pay for College by Playing Games

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:47 PM PDT

grantoo

College students can now turn hours spent playing social games into tuition grants and philanthropic giving with recently launched startup Grantoo.

The online gaming platform hosts brand-sponsored tournaments, giving companies the chance to earn recognition for their charitable giving. College students play games for free, with the hopes of winning money toward their education. Before they begin playing, students designate between 10% and 100% of their potential winnings to any charity of their choice.

“Students are playing social games a lot so we want to make it useful to them by turning something that’s a distraction or a waste of time into something that’s positive,” says Mikhael Naayem, co-founder of Grantoo. “We want to promote philanthropy at an early age, introducing students at no cost.”

Grantoo launched with three original games: a crossword, Wordy Bird; a poker game, Grantoo Hold’em and a trivia game, Quiz Night.

Naayim noticed that companies receive very little recognition for the money they donate to academic scholarships, among other causes. Grantoo provides sponsors ample branding opportunities of tournaments, making the platform an attractive donation model.

All of the money companies donate goes toward the combination of philanthropy and college grants for students, according to the ration determined by the game winners. Grantoo generates its own operating cost through on-site advertising.

“This is a great opportunity for brands because students associate their image with something that’s charitable,” co-founder Dimitri Sillam says. “It’s time right now for small companies to step in and solve big problems in an innovative way.”

Who do you think wins with Grantoo — companies, students or both? Let us know in the comments if you’d be interested in Grantoo as a student or sponsor.

More About: college, education, Gaming, social games, Social Good

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Nokia Lumia 900 Hard To Find On Launch Day, Still Selling Well [VIDEO]

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:35 PM PDT


Nokia held a huge launch party for the Lumia 900 in NYC’s Times Square on Friday night. But when it came time for the phone’s release on Sunday it was hard to find the handset anywhere near where the celebration was.

According to New York Times writer Brian Chen, nearly all 39 AT&T stores located near Times Square were either closed for Easter Sunday, or did not answer phone calls when he called to inquire about the handset’s availability. The stores that were closed also played an automated message that advertised the availability of the iPhone 4S — but didn’t mention the Nokia Lumia 900′s existence.

The Lumia 900 handset runs on AT&T’s super-fast LTE network. The HTC Titan II is currently the only other Windows Phone smartphone that is capable of doing the same.

The Nokia smartphone sports a unique high-quality design, and has been a hit with reviewers, many who have called the handset the world’s best Windows Phone 7 handset.

The $99 Lumia 900 is Nokia and Microsoft’s best horse in the smartphone race, and both companies have a lot riding on its success. iPhone and Android have a stronghold in the smartphone market in the United States, and both companies need a winner to put both Nokia and Windows Phone on the map stateside.

Prior to its launch, AT&T said that the Lumia 900 would be “one of its biggest launches ever”. Advertising for the handset has likened it to the iPhone, and Nokia even launched a nationwide ad campaign called “smartphonbetatest” — implying that the all other smartphones prior to the launch of the 900 were just beta versions.

The smartphonebetatest site counted down to zero when the phone was supposed to be revealed. But the ultimate effect of it was somewhat dampened. The clock hit zero at least three times Friday evening, then added an arbitrary amount of time.


Launch day woes don’t seem to have affected Nokia’s sales of the Lumia 900, however. The phone was available for pre-order before Sunday, and made its way into the hands of customers over the weekend. The handset is also currently the top selling phone on Amazon (taking both the #1 and #2 slots), a coveted title definitely worth getting excited about.

What do you think about the Lumia 900 launch? Do you think Nokia, Microsoft, or AT&T should have made a bigger deal about it on Sunday, or was offering pre-orders for the phone enough? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

More About: att, LTE, lumia 900, Nokia

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Can Employers Ask For Your Facebook Password? Not in Maryland

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:24 PM PDT


If you’re a resident of Maryland, you no longer have to fear a potential employer asking you to hand over the keys to your Facebook or Twitter profiles before giving you a job.

Both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly voted on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill blocking the practice on Monday afternoon.

Employers will still be able to view public posts online, but can’t demand access to private material as a condition of employment.

The decision was met with enthusiasm from the American Civil Liberties Union, which championed the cause after a Maryland corrections officer was asked for his Facebook password during a recertification interview.

“We are proud of Maryland for standing up for the online privacy of employees and the friends and family members they stay in touch with online,” said Melissa Goemann, legislative director of ACLU of Maryland. “Our state has trail-blazed a new frontier in protecting freedom of expression in the digital age, and has created a model for other states to follow.”

Division of Corrections Officer Robert Collins took a leave of absence from his job after his mother died. Upon returning to work, he found his job filled, and thus had to interview for a comprable position. During that process, Collins was asked for his social media passwords.

Despite his unease, he agreed. Soon afterward, he turned to the ACLU for help, which brought national attention to Collins’ case. Now, he’s glad to see the privacy-protecting bill has passed.

“I am excited to know that our esteemed policymakers in Maryland found it important to protect the privacy of Maryland’s citizens,” said Collins. “I believe privacy should not be an alternative in lieu of securing employment, but a fundamental right.”

SEE ALSO: What to Do When A Potential Employer Asks for Your Facebook Password

The phenomenon has been making headlines since early last month when the ACLU filed its original complaint against the Maryland Department of Corrections. Facebook itself came out against the practice, while similar bills are expected to be introduced in the California state legislature and in the U.S. Senate.

The Maryland bill was backed by Maryland State Senator Ron Young along with Delegates Mary Washington and Shawn Tarrant.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, SchulteProductions

More About: aclu, Facebook, Politics, Social Media, Twitter


6 Ways Social Media Can Bring Your Next Event to Life

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:13 PM PDT


Trevor Jonas is director of social media at Access Communications, where he develops digital communications strategies for clients spanning the financial services, consumer electronics, and food and beverage industries. Follow him @TrevR.

Earlier this year, Microsoft brought in an acapella group to sing tweets from CES 2012 and last month Skype had a hilarious town crier reading tweets during South by Southwest Interactive.

Social media
has certainly changed event marketing for both organizers and attendees looking to get noticed. In order to stand out at trade shows and major industry conferences brands and marketers must go to great lengths.

While splashy moves may get attention there are basics that, when overlooked, can make the social media component for any event fall flat. Here are six ways to effectively bring your next event to life using social media.


1. Create an Online Hub For Social Content


Make sure there's a single destination where attendees and interested parties can go to get all the information they need about the social media components for your event. Mobile World Congress provides a great model by including the preferred event hashtag, relevant Twitter handles, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and Google+ profiles on a single page.

Also, be sure to think about how to drive people to this page. One way is to make it part of the online registration process. Remember, early promotion is key.


2. Hash Out the Hashtag Strategy


Every event should have an overall hashtag that follows the basics of good Twitter etiquette, including being unique, descriptive, and short (ten characters or less). Events with multiple breakout discussions should consider creating individual hashtags for those sessions. Most speakers and panel moderators love having unique hashtags for their talks, as it provides a real-time feedback loop. It also allows those unable to attend a particular session to follow along and get involved virtually.

But creating the hashtags is only half the battle. In most cases, the audience needs to be constantly reminded that these hashtags exist in order to ensure they're using them consistently and appropriately.

Provide reminders both online and offline. Announce the hashtag at the beginning of each session, including keynotes, and consider having them prominently displayed throughout the session. At South by Southwest, breakout session hashtags were included on both the online and printed schedules that were available to all attendees.


3. Prominently Display the Discussion


The most successful social media campaigns merge what's happening online with what's happening offline. Setting up Twitter walls throughout the event space is an effective way to entice attendees to get involved in the online discussions stemming from the event.

If you're running a smaller gathering, consider creating a virtual welcome wall near the registration area so that you can say hello to attendees on Twitter as they check-in. When attendees see their username displayed on the screen, next to your hashtag, they'll be encouraged to get involved.

There are a number of vendors that provide Twitter wall functionality, including Socialping, Visible Tweets and TweetWally. Each offer varied levels of customizability and analytics. Just be sure to think through filtering options and map out a plan for the worst-case scenario, like a hashtag hijack.


4. Curate and Share the Best Content


The most successful events generate thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pieces of digital content. Luckily, there are tools like Storify that make curating the best content—Twitter updates, photos, blog posts, video—dead simple. Last year's inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival provides a good example.

Just make sure to dedicate someone who knows how to craft a compelling story to be your event social media curator, and make sure the curated content is distributed via other social channels and made available on your hub page.


5. Surprise Attendees by Going Retro


With so much focus on online content and digital conversations, going back in time can really stand out. Consider taking the best social media content and turning it into a newspaper that can be handed out to attendees. Yes, a newspaper. It's similar to what Mashable did at this year's SXSWi with the The Mashable Times—and is guaranteed to get social media users talking and tweeting about it.


6. Consider a Good Comic


Live drawing continues to be a trend at major industry events. Samsung hired caricature artists to show off its new smartphone at CES. And SXSWi featured multiple live drawing activities, including a collaboration between UNIFIED, StumbleUpon and @visualhero to create and share visual recaps of the event's biggest talks.

Let's face it, some people are more visual learners and this type of activity could be useful for events with complex material. Similar to session-specific hashtags, recapping a specific talk with illustrations provides a reference point for those unable to attend. If done properly, it can be part of the arsenal of content to be shared from the event.


Looking to engage face-to-face? Check out Mashable's new Events Board, featuring conferences all over the world and across all sectors, including social media, advertising and design. It's an excellent resource for event-seekers, and a must-have tool for event organizers. Here are just a few of the events you'll find there:

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

More About: contributor, Events and Festivals, features, social media marketing

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Dear Facebook, Please Don’t Ruin Instagram

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 03:01 PM PDT


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

For Facebook, buying Instagram looks like one of the smartest acquisitions the company has ever made. But when the news first broke that Facebook had acquired Instagram, my immediate instinct was dread.

I tweeted that my favorite mobile app was now destined to be ruined. Given the stunned reaction from users on social media in general, and the fact that Instagram download-and-delete services are being overwhelmed, I wasn’t the only one.

To be clear, I could not be happier for the Instagram team. They earned their success. The service is worth every penny. I’m genuinely glad that the team will get to reap the benefits of its hard work.

And buying Instagram was a great business decision from Facebook’s perspective. As I remarked on Twitter, why try to build a competing photo app when you can just buy the best and most viral?

Still, as a user, I can’t help but wonder: how long before Instagram becomes just another Facebook app? How much time until everything that made the service so special disappears into the ether?

As an early adopter, I’ve watched far too many of my favorite apps and services suffer. They have shut down or evolved into something completely different after being acquired by a bigger company. Yahoo and AOL are famous for buying a startup or service, only to ruin the company by dismantling it or letting it languish.

SEE ALSO: Facegram FTW! How Facebook Could Actually Improve Instagram

Of course, as Chris Taylor argues here, it’s always possible that Facebook might not screw things up. After all, look at YouTube, a service that has absolutely flourished under the corporate control of Google. The YouTube team, in many regards, still feels slightly different than other parts of Google.

Maybe Instagram can be Facebook’s YouTube. Unlike other Facebook acquisitions, such as FriendFeed, Divvyshot, Hot Potato, Drop.io, and Beluga, Instagram has a user base of more than 30 million people — which is much harder to ignore.


Keeping Instagram Awesome


Here are some steps Facebook can take to keep from ruining Instagram.

  • Keep The Team Together. Time and again, I see acquisitions flounder or fail under the new owner because the team was immediately split up. At Google, it’s quite common for the CEO or project manager of a newly acquired product to get moved into a different role in a different part of the company or with a different service.

    Often that means that the people that have the best understanding for the service as it exists and how it works are no longer around to guide it forward. More often than not, the service either dies, gets merged into something else, or continues to exist but is all but abandoned.

  • Don’t Require Facebook Logins. I have always admired Amazon’s ability to acquire a company — sometimes even a competitor — and continue to let that competitor operate without integrating into the main Amazon ecosystem.

    Amazon has owned IMDb since 1999, but the user account I created in 1997 still works. Likewise, I can buy shoes from Zappos or audio books from Audible without linking to my Amazon account.

    For at least the time being, Facebook needs to make its own system optional for Instagram users. Chances are, most users will choose to integrate with Facebook — but please, don’t force it.

  • Keep it Mobile Only. Part of the appeal of Instagram is that the whole app and experience are designed for the mobile web. Yes, there are a slew of excellent third-party apps and tools. But to share a photo with the world, you need to use a mobile app.

    To some, this might seem like a negative. But I firmly believe it is one of the things that makes Instagram special. The net effect is that I’m more aware of the photos that I share. It isn’t like Flickr or Facebook, where I can just upload an album en masse.

    With Instagram, I have to choose the photo, write a caption and select where to share. For that reason, the photos I share with Instagram tend to be the photos I actually care about.

  • Stay Focused. Too often, acquired startups use their newfound wealth and resources to veer into other areas. Part of the reason so many people use and love Instagram is that it is focused on one thing: Sharing photos with your friends on your mobile device. That’s it.

    Don’t go into video. Don’t go into Panoramas. Don’t go into desktop uploads. Stay focused on pictures.

Now that I’ve had my InstaEmo moment, I’m cautiously optimistic about this marriage — though I’m still fearful that my favorite social and photo network will become just one more cog in Facebook’s ever-growing wheel.

Prove me wrong, Facebook. Please, prove me wrong.

More About: expert opinion, Facebook, instagram, instagram API, Opinion, trending


Redditor Tells All After Home Destroyed by Jet Crash

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 02:52 PM PDT

"Hi my name is Devin and I’m 21 years old. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what has happened. Who thinks they’re gonna wake up one morning then have their house destroyed by a jet??”



Devin posted this picture with the wreckage of her home circled.

On April 6, a Navy F-18 fighter jet crashed into the Virginia apartment of Reddit user DevinJet. Yesterday, she posted her and her brother’s story to Reddit, and turned to the community there for advice and comfort.

Her brother, Colby, was the person who saved the pilot from the wreckage.

On the thread, she was offered legal advice, found sympathetic ears, connected with neighbors and heard from someone deployed with a unit in Afghanistan who received a care package from the coffee shop where she works.

Here’s a look at some parts of the conversation. Responses from Devin are tabbed:


My house got destroyed by the F-18 yesterday AMA


AngryFidel: How has the Navy and Department of Defense handling this? How are [they] behaving towards you? I imagine that a lot of stuff is happening, [so] thanks for doing this AMA

They have given us an $89 allowance a day for lodging and $30 for food. And just a $200 for clothing. I have so much paperwork I have to do through them and they told us yesterday that we will eventually get money back for our losses….but that could take up to two years.

lippindots: Did you or your brother (other than saving the pilot) ever feel the need to go back into the mess to start looking for injured people? Or did you choose to safely wait for professional help to arrive?

I haven’t come anywhere near the crash site, just down the road. I have a few friends here who are EMT’s and in the Navy and they took over most of helping people. Apparently the neighborhood next door, people broke down the fence and started bursting into homes and grabbing people and bringing them out since it was a retirement community. But I think they told the public to go away with helping since all the jet fuel was around and that’s toxic.

DankoRamone: How terrifying and otherworldly was that, and what was running through your mind as everything was going on? What are your thoughts now, compared to then?

I was driving home when it happened and for an hour yesterday I thought my brother was dead. I knew he was home and I kept calling and it went straight to voice mail since his phone was destroyed in the fire. My thoughts yesterday were, all over. I couldn’t process a single thing. I still really can’t. I feel like a zombie. Today I drove by and it made my stomach turn, I haven’t seen my house exactly yet and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to handle it.

billy882: What was the most important thing(s) to you that are now gone forever that was inside your home during the accident?

Well having my family is the most important and I’m so glad they’re not gone forever. I’m going to miss my bed a lot. Nothing is like your bed, it makes me really sad that I’m never going to get to lay-down in it again. I also had a HUGE 15 pound stuffed animal, it was Sully from Monster’s Inc. My mom gave me a collection of dolls from around the world that my grandpa had given to her when he traveled and they were all like 30 something years old and I always planned to give them to my children one day. It gets really overwhelming when I think about all that I lost because it’s everything but the stuff in my car.

weasilish: Hey, I had my house burn down last year because of a forest fire. Not entirely the same thing but I sort of know what you’re going through (the zombie-ness, the all over emotion, etc etc) I got interviewed a lot by all sorts of different news stations. I was down to being interviewed, but looking back now I kinda wish I hadn’t. There’s quite a few videos where I just look robotic and bleh. Are you thinking/have you done any interviews?

They keep interviewing my brother since he’s the “hero” in all of this. And I’m sorry about your loss but thank you for sharing your story with me. And we keep joking about it too, there are SO many jokes and all you can really do is laugh at the sheer thought of a navy jet taking out your home. I kept saying a Friday night “hey guys, bonfire at my house!”

winnie_the_slayer: I was on the team that installed the jet engine test systems at NAS Oceana, where the F-18 was based. My apologies if engine failure caused the crash. (Did I mention that those systems are running Windows NT 4)?

Were you really? that’s crazy. :/

Devin and Colby then posted a YouTube video thanking the Redditors, saying “talking to you guys is helping a lot, and just me posting a picture wasn’t enough… We couldn’t do it without you guys. Honestly.”

More About: reddit, Social Media

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Attend an Intimate Breakout Session at Mashable Connect

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 02:37 PM PDT


Mashable Connect is only a few weeks away! Now’s a better time than ever to get your pass to our biggest conference of the year.

There are many reasons to attend Mashable’s largest conference of the year, and now we have one more: breakout sessions.

In addition to a diverse agenda full of inspiring and practical content sessions, this year we’re offering you the chance to join the conversation on a whole new level.

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

You’ll have the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with premier Mashable Connect speakers, Mashable staff and attendees about the topics that matter most to you.

Below are three engaging breakout sessions that will feature speakers, Mashable staff and attendees. These sessions will be comprised of small groups of people in order allow everyone to participate in the conversation.

  1. Futureproofing Your Brand
    Featuring Cindy Gallop, global advertising consultant and founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld.com, and Sarah Evans, PR consultant and owner of Sevans Strategy

    With a dizzying array of media available to express your message online, from blogs to email to social networks, determining what works for your brand on the web is more important now than ever. How do you identify and reach the right consumers with the right kind of brand engagement, and leverage the right kind of influence that delivers the right kind of sales results?

    This breakout session will cut through the clutter and confusion, and radically simplify and focus in on how you can ensure your online brand building actually works.

  2. What Does It Mean to Be an Entrepreneur?
    Featuring Roger McNamee, acclaimed technology investor and managing director of Elevation Partners

    In today's digital world, the definition of "entrepreneur" is evolving. It's no longer tied to startup founders. With an abundance of new and cheap technology resources available, starting your own business or reinventing your current business is a reality for a growing number of people.

    In this breakout session, we’ll discuss what it means to be an entrepreneur in today's digital landscape, and what the future may hold for starting your own business or reimaging your existing business.

  3. The New Role for Design: Leveraging Design to Create a Better User Experience
    Featuring Duane Bray, partner of IDEO

    User experience is an important element to any organization’s success, and that experience hinges on good design. How do you bring business into the design process? How does the business model for a digital product or service affect the user experience? And how does the user experience affect the business model? Thinking of these as collaborative activities rather than isolated phases.

    This breakout session will explore how you can utilize design to create a better experience for your customers.


Event Information


Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

You’ll be surrounded by digital influencers, including brands, agencies, strategists, entrepreneurs, creatives and marketers. Companies joining us at Mashable Connect will be Barneys New York, CNN, Digitas, Discovery, Euro RSCG, eBay, HBO, IDEO, Klout, Microsoft, MTV, National Geographic Society, TED, UN Foundation and many more.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.


A Look Back at Last Year's Mashable Connect



1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla




Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

Click here to view this gallery.


Supporting Sponsors



Sponsorship Opportunities


A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for Mashable Connect. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable's passionate and influential audience. Contact sponsorships@mashable.com for opportunities.

More About: Conference, digital, Events, Marketing, mashable connect, Social Media

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Electric DeLorean Races Toward 2013 Release [PICS]

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 02:08 PM PDT


The Electric DeLorean




The electric version of the DeLorean sports car featured in the Back to the Future films has arrived at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, touting an iPhone dock, Bluetooth capabilities and a battery-powered engine.

Click here to view this gallery.

The not-yet-released electric version of the iconic DeLorean sports car featured in the Back to the Future films has arrived at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, touting an iPhone dock, Bluetooth capabilities and a battery-powered engine.

The electric DeLorean, which will hit the U.S. market in 2013, was originally announced in October 2011 but it’s making a surprise appearance at the auto show this week.

The latest DeLorean still comes with recognizable gull-wing doors, a stainless steel body and a rear-mounted engine. However this sucker is electrical: It features a 32-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion phosphate battery system. It’s still sporty, too: The car can go from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than six seconds.

Although DeLoreans typically run for $65,000, the electric model will cost $95,000.

“The electric DeLorean is a natural progression for the vehicle — it has everything that people expect in cars today that you couldn’t get back in 1981 with the original model,” James Espey, vice president of DeLorean, told Mashable.

The DeLorean may be best known for its role as the unlikely time machine in the Back to the Future movies, but it has attracted the attention of car collectors and fans years following the movie’s 1985 debut.

SEE ALSO: Porsche Unveils High-Tech SUV, Sleek Sports Car to U.S. Market

“People still love that movie and as younger people see it for the first time, they go online and learn more about the DeLorean,” Espey said, noting that orders for the DeLorean are mostly placed by people in their 30s and 40s. “We are never going to be a mass production type of company, but for low-volume, niche-market cars, there is a demand.”

Espey said that the electric DeLorean will get about the same mileage as a Nissan Leaf, running about 100 miles on one electric charge.

“Anyone can buy a Prius or a Tesla, but if you want something collectible and different than what anyone else has, this is it. It certainly attracts attention.”

Moving forward, the company plans to add iOS controls to the vehicle with the inclusion of apps. The first deliveries of the car itself will take place in February or early March of next year.

“Starting in January, we will be making three DeLoreans a week,” Espey said. “Depending on order volume, it will be a mixture of gas and electric — one week we may do two electric and one gas or vice versa.”

Are you excited about the electric DeLorean? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

More About: back to the future, delorean, electric cars, green tech

For more Tech coverage:


Facebook Instagram Acquisition: 20 Witty Reactions

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 01:45 PM PDT


Comparing Instagram to Kodak





On April 9, Facebook announced plans to acquire popular photo-sharing app Instagram. Earlier this year, 131-year-old film pioneer Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Click here to view this gallery.

Facebook’s arsenal of services will soon get a little flashier with the $1 billion acquisition of trendy photo-sharing Instagram — and users on social networks quickly reacted Monday to the sudden business deal.

Herds of Instagram users expressed their satisfaction, dismay and an array of other opinions through funny or compelling message on Twitter. Not surprisingly, they also posted visual responses on Instagram (see gallery).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the agreement, which is the social network’s biggest acquisition, in a post on his Timeline. Facebook plans to close the sale sometime during this quarter.


Additional Coverage


More About: acquisition, apps, Business, Facebook, humor, instagram, mobile apps, Social Media, social networks, trending, Twitter


What to Eat Tonight? DinnerSpinner App Puts Your Pantry In Your Pocket

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 01:25 PM PDT


Deciding what to make for dinner just got a little easier with Allrecipes’ updated Dinner Spinner app.

The updated app now allows you to keep track of what food items you have at home in a virtual pantry, and scan items at the grocery store with your smartphone to find recipes to make with that item.

"We found through the comScore MobiLens report that 58 percent of smartphone owners use a phone while in brick and mortar stores to shop, and 1 in 5 use it to scan barcodes," Allrecipes.com Director of Communications Stephanie Robinett told Mashable. "Integrating this technology into our app allows us connect a massive database of millions of grocery products to our collection of trusted recipes.

“With one click a home cook can scan an item, and with another add it to their shopping list, search for a recipe or save it in their scan history creating a virtual pantry on their mobile device so they know what they have at home when they’re at the store."

With the app, you can scan items you’ve run out of and add them to a shopping list. If you run into a bargain while you’re out shopping, you can scan the well-priced item to see what fantastic dinner options you can potentially create. Since you’re keeping up with your food in a virtual pantry, you can also easily see what you have at home while you’re out shopping, preventing you from purchasing something you might already have on hand.

Allrecipes currently has more than 12 million downloads of its Dinner Spinner and Dinner Spinner Pro apps for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Kindle Fire, and the Allrecipes.com Your Kitchen Inspiration app for iPad.

While both Dinner Spinner and Dinner Spinner Pro offer some of the same functionality, the Pro version of the app also allows you to save recipes and create shopping lists on the site and then access that information later on your mobile phone.

So, what sorts of things are people cooking? Allrecipes says the top recipe is “Good Old Fashioned Pancakes.” Second place goes to “World’s Best Lasagna,” followed by Banana Banana Bread, Easy Meatloaf, and then Easy Sugar Cookies.

Epicurious also has a mobile app that helps you discover recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator, create shopping lists and store recipes. The app is also built into many Samsung fridges.

What do you think about Allrecipes update? Can you see yourself using the new features in the app? Let us know in the comments.

More About: allrecipies, apps, Mobile


The Most Hated Character on TV? Turn Ellis From ‘Smash’ Into a Meme

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 01:00 PM PDT



If you’re watching NBC’s Smash, odds are you are annoyed by Ellis, the slimy assistant who will do whatever he can to further his career. Even those who otherwise love the show are driven mad by Ellis’ moral ambiguity and spinelessness.

SEE ALSO: 20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week [CHART]
There’s no question that Ellis (played by Jaime Cepero) is widely hated across social media. Even fans who otherwise love the show regularly take to Twitter and GetGlue to express their distaste for this one particular character.

 

 


Create Your Own Ellis Meme


In response to this strong reaction to Ellis and the outcry against his antics — we are encouraging Smash viewers to express their rage in meme form.

We will provide a template for your “Worst Assistant Ever” meme, and the rest is up to you. Never made a meme before?  Don’t worry, sites like Meme Generator and free apps such as Meme Factory (available on  iTunes and Google Play) make meme creation simple.

Use the template below to create your own “Worst Assistant Ever” meme and drop it into the Olapic widget below, or tweet your meme to @MashableHQ using the hashtag #MashMemes.



TEMPLATE:

Image courtesy of NBC/Universal

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How to Think Big in Business

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 12:47 PM PDT


Alex Goldfayn's new book is called Evangelist Marketing: What Apple Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn't). He is CEO of the Evangelist Marketing Institute, a marketing consultancy with clients that include T-Mobile, TiVo and Logitech.

Experience is the enemy of thinking big. So is fear, caution, politics and perfection. The problem is these issues make up the very rungs of nearly every corporate ladder. That could make thinking big seem impossible. The good news is that it is not.

SEE ALSO: How to Be Creative: The Science of Genius

So, what exactly constitutes thinking big, how does one do it, and what typically gets in the way? Read on to find out.


What Big Thinkers Do


Big thinkers systematically create powerful new ideas, but first they create a process to come up with those ideas. Author Seth Godin, for example, blogs a new idea every single day. In fact, a blog is a wonderful place to organize your thoughts.

Big thinkers also aggressively execute on these ideas, even when the ideas are not completely ready. Consultant and author Alan Weiss believes a person should move when 80% ready. Chances are, only you will know the last 20% is missing. Yet, it's this last 20% that keeps nearly all of us from moving forward on a good idea. Why don't we think 80% is enough? For the same reasons I mentioned in the introduction: fear, caution, perfection and past experiences.

People who think big often perfect instead of invent. Think about every category Apple has dominated: smart phones, tablets, music downloading, software distribution. Apple wasn't first to any of those categories, but it quickly perfected each. Similarly, there were retailers before Amazon, and there were grocery stores before Trader Joe's. Big thinkers don't necessarily have to blaze trails. They just have to make their trails the best freaking trails on the planet.

Similarly, big thinkers are selective about where they make a difference. Apple is famously particular about what it manufactures. Amazon is, too. While it’s making book readers and a few cheap accessories under its own brand, I doubt we'll see it get into productivity software, like Google. And many say that Google isn't being selective enough.


What Gets in the Way


The opposite of thinking big is defensive thinking. It is, unfortunately, how most of us go through our days. It starts with fear — fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of disapproval from superiors, clients or customers. For most, fear leads to the following.

  • Overanalysis: What if it doesn't work? What if it does? What if the worst happens? What if I lose the business?

  • Procrastination: All of us have things we know we need to do that we've put off, often for weeks or months, and sometimes for years. Our fears cause this behavior.
  • The stifling of creativity: If we're afraid of the possible outcomes, how can we allow ourselves the time and environment to be creative?
  • The draining of energy: So much bandwidth is given to analyzing and defending against potential negative ramifications that there's little energy left for actually doing things.

There are at least two recent examples of how damaging corporate defensive thinking can be. Research in Motion is in shambles because it spent a year developing a tablet for fear of being left out. In the process, RIM forgot to continue innovating its actual strength: the BlackBerry phone. The sad result ended up on the cover of The Wall Street Journal.

Then there’s Best Buy, which invested so much money and effort into its online operation, it neglected its one true advantage in the retail business: physical stores. This kind of defensive posture prevented Best Buy from seeing the entire picture. Guess what happened? The world passed it by.


How to Think Big


I tell my clients every day that they can change their thinking. Here's how.

  • Burn your baggage. To get started, sit down in a place where you cannot be interrupted, and identify the experiences that are getting in the way. Then, understand this enormous truth: It's over. Don't allow it to negatively affect your future.
  • Give yourself a place to think and have ideas. A blog is nearly a perfect arrangement for this. But so is a notebook. What’s critical is to carve out the time on your calendar and stick to it. Call it your idea time.
  • Execute on your ideas when you're almost ready. Remember, the last 20% is not what matters. Be bold!
  • Start a lot. If you find yourself procrastinating, start working on something. It's physics. An object at rest stays at rest, and motion begets motion. Move.
  • Get a reality check. Why? Earlier in my career, I was stunned to find that most of my clients' customers actually thought more positively about them than they thought about themselves. Don’t be afraid to find out where you stand.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, tumpikuja

More About: Business, contributor, features, How-To, Marketing, Startups

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Many Instagram Users Already Heading for the Exits

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 12:29 PM PDT

Instagram Android App Tablet Update-600

Now that Facebook has purchased Instagram, third-party services that offer access to photos and feeds are getting hammered by users.

Although Instagram is a mobile-only social network, the service makes an API available to developers who want to access the stream of user photos and comments. This has allowed for the creation of Instagram web and desktop viewers, including Followgram, InstaGrid, Ink361, Instagrille, Carousel and InstaDesk.

As users contemplate deleting their Instagram accounts forever, many of these sites are becoming popular destinations for those who want to preserve their photos.

SEE ALSO: Deleting Your Instagram Account? Here’s How to Save Your Pics

Instaport’s ability to offer easy-to-access archives of a user’s photos is in hot demand. The site is still standing, but we’ve seen lots of nginx server errors and slow download times. Meanwhile, Followgram is also facing heavy user activity, which is causing slower than normal load time and access to full photo feeds.

At this point, it isn’t clear if the services themselves are the bottleneck, or the API calls these services are making to Instagram’s servers. Meanwhile, it’s unclear what the Facebook ownership of Instagram will mean for APIs going forward.

Are you having a hard time accessing any third-party Instagram website? Let us know in the comments.


Mashable’s Favorite Instagram Stories


More About: api, instagram, instagram API, instagram apps, trending


Facegram FTW! How Facebook Could Actually Improve Instagram

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 12:18 PM PDT


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

No doubt you’ll hear or read this phrase a hundred times Monday: Instagram is over. Facebook bought it and now it’s going to ruin it, right? It’ll never be the service we knew and loved again.

Not so fast, Instagrammers. Before you all rush over to instaport.me or any one of a dozen other apps that will let you download your photos from the service, consider this: the $1 billion Facebook purchase might actually be the best thing that’s ever happened to Instagram.

I’m not just talking about the nine Instagram employees who suddenly became very wealthy at this morning’s surprise all-hands meeting in South Park, San Francisco. I’m talking about the service itself.

If you use Instagram, you know that its evolution has been maddeningly slow. If you use Instagram for Android, you probably still bear the scars of the long months you had to wait for the version of the app on your device while iPhone owners sneered. Maybe they even took artsy shots of your glum faces, and laughed about it in the comments.

If Instagram had had an assist from thousands of eager Facebook engineers, do you really think the Android version would have taken that long? Not to mention the iPad version of Instagram, which still hasn’t arrived. Granted, Facebook doesn’t have the best track record in timely iPad apps either, but I’m betting they’ve learned some lessons there.

Granted, sometimes acquisitions go badly. But everything we know about Mark Zuckerberg suggests he is too smart to pay $1 billion for an app with 30 million users only to shut it down or run it into the ground. Instagram was no threat to Facebook; rather, it was a boon that was lovingly integrated into Timeline. I don’t know about you, but I set all my Instagram pics to automatically post to Facebook anyway.

With a nine-person team, chances are you don’t really integrate it much. It’s much more likely that Facebook will leave it running as a skunkworks operation. What would you do if you were Zuckerberg? Easy: you’d give Instagram founder Kevin Systrom whatever budget and engineering talent he wants to make this killer app even more killer.


Instagram: Another YouTube


If you’re looking for a model of how this acquisition might go, consider YouTube — which was bought by Google for $1.65 billion in October 2006. Many people predicted that would be the end of the popular video service. (I should know — I was one of them. Mea culpa.)

Back then, it wasn’t so common for tech companies to get bought and then left alone to do their own thing. We were still in the era of AOL-Time Warner and HP-Compaq, messy mergers with lots of blood on the floor.

But YouTube was different — it was tiny. And Google was different — it was smart.

The search giant effectively took a Hippocratic oath with the video service: first, do no harm. There was no heavy-handed Google branding on the service. Google ads took years to creep onto YouTube. Indeed, the first result of the acquisition was that Google effectively shut down its own rival, Google Video.

SEE ALSO: Deleting Your Instagram Account? Here's How to Save Your Pics

YouTube was left to do its own thing, only this time with access to piles of Google cash. (Remember, YouTube was losing money hand over fist.) To this day, it remains a separate company in many ways. The headquarters are in San Bruno, Calif., far from the Googleplex. Employees — of which there are hundreds more — are YouTubers first and Googlers second. There may be a lot of back and forth, and a lot more money, but YouTube territory is inviolate.

So Google is too smart to dominate small thriving companies, and I’m willing to bet Facebook is the same. I just took a tour of the Facebook campus Friday, and the one thing that stood out is the lack of Facebook branding.

You’d expect to see walls decked out in Facebook blue, or everyone showing their corporate pride with “I Like This” buttons and T-shirts. Instead, the largest branding on the entire campus is a single word in the main quad, visible from satellite: “Hack.”

The DIY hacker culture is as strong here as it is at Instagram. Yes, maybe the tiny photo-sharing company will decide to port itself down to Facebook HQ — after all, the team currently works in a single conference room in a cramped building that served as Twitter’s first headquarters.

But if the Instagrammers do move to Menlo Park, I’m willing to bet it’ll be their choice. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world who is luckier than Systrom right now. Not only did he win a pot of gold in one of the all-time great corporate exits, he still gets to build the company up without a care in the world — and with a new boss who understands exactly what he’s trying to do.

Do you think there’s a downside to Facebook’s purchase of Instagram? Let me know in the comments.


Facebook HQ. You Like This




The company is now completely moved out of its Palo Alto pad, and into the much more spacious Menlo Park facility it broke ground on last year.

Click here to view this gallery.


Mashable’s Favorite Instagram Stories


More About: Facebook, instagram, Opinion


Touchscreen Directories Are Coming to NYC Phone Booths

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 11:59 AM PDT

Touchscreens coming to NYC phone booths

New York City’s dilapidated phone booths are getting a high-tech makeover. Hundreds of phone booths will soon be outfitted with iPad-like touchscreen devices for directions and hyper-local news.

New Yorkers will see 32-inch smart screens in neighborhood phone booths starting next month, as part of a Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications-sanctioned pilot program.

If this public project is well-liked, more of the city’s 12,800 free-standing phones will morph into Internet-enabled data stations. Future kiosks may become Wi-Fi hotspots with email and Skype capabilities.

“While any final determinations are still some time off, we'll soon begin seeking public input about what New Yorkers would like to see the payphone of the future entail, and we view the City 24×7 pilot program as an innovative, engaging way to help inform those efforts,” said Nicholas Sbordone, DoITT director of external affairs.

For now, the directories will show information about local eateries, area shopping, traffic alerts, directions and safety alerts. And, no quarters are needed. These touchscreen devices will be free to use, throughout the five boroughs.

NYC touchscreen directories

Locals may also use the smart screens to report a problem to “311.” People will be able to read the screens in over 10 languages.

NYC has signed on City24x7 a mobile communications company that works with tech-savvy cities around the world. City 24×7 says the project will bring an “up-to-the-minute public communication system” to NYC.

The outdoor devices will be waterproof and dust-proof to allow for regular hose downs.

City24x7 will be responsible of the maintenance and repair of the screens. The pilot program will cost the city nothing, according to Sbordone. In the future, the program will display ads, covering the installation and upkeep of the touchscreen directories. The city will also post reminders ads about tax refunds, bike sharing services and park events.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Matt Long, Image courtesy of DoITT

More About: Business, NYC, Social Media, touchscreen

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Deleting Your Instagram Account? Here’s How to Save Your Pics

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 11:45 AM PDT


Facebook is buying Instagram — and some Instagram users aren’t happy about it.

They’re tweeting that they’ll delete their Instagram accounts because of the acquisition.

The fear is that in addition to the company, Facebook has acquired all of that location-tagged photo data from Instagram’s users and may use it to target ads at them. Neither company has commented publicly about whether the data will, in fact, be used by Facebook in this way.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Acquires Instagram: What Do You Think? [POLL]

If you’re in the camp that’s deleting its Instagram accounts regardless (which you can do through this link), you don’t have to give up your photo library in the process. Here are some ways to save it:

  • Instaport: In two steps, this service downloads your entire library onto a single zip file.
  • Copygram: The primary function of Copygram is to provide a web interface for Instagram. It also allows you to download your library and pictures from other users’ feeds.
  • Instagrid: This web interface for Instagram doesn't let you download your library. It does, however, provide access to your favorite users' photo streams without requiring you to have the Instagram app. You can subscribe to emailed updates from specific feeds (provided they use the service) or a weekly digest of both popular and "undiscovered" Instagram users.
  • InstaDesk: While InstaDesk is certainly more fun to use with an Instagram account, it’s also a good tool for saving your favorite photos before shutting one down. Even if you’ve ignored its sync feature up until this point, the $4.99 Mac client makes it easy to download Instagram photos.
  • SocialFolders: This service touts itself as a “Dropbox for Social Media.” In addition to your Instagram account, it will back up your Twitter, SmugMug, Facebook, Flickr, Picassa, Google Docs and YouTube profiles — so next time you want to delete an account, you’ll be prepared.

Keep in mind that some of these services are running slow today, apparently due to an overloaded Instagram API or increased traffic on the sites themselves.


Mashable’s Favorite Instagram Stories


More About: Facebook, instagram


Facebook Acquires Instagram: What Do You Think? [POLL]

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 11:28 AM PDT

Instagram

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social network’s acquisition of Instagram on his Facebook Timeline Monday.

In his post, he writes that Facebook intends to keep the service as is, saying that the company is “committed to building and growing Instagram independently.” He stresses that Instagram’s growth is important to Facebook, and that the service will continue having the ability to post to other services and to not post photos to Facebook.

However, users will understandably be concerned that this acquisition will lead to a major change or even a shutdown. Most recently and perhaps most notably, Facebook bought Gowalla only to shut the service down three months later.

The tone of Zuckerberg’s post certainly indicates that this will not be the case, but some of Instagram’s estimated 30 million users may still feel anxious.

We want to hear your voice. Take our poll below and tell us in the comments: What do you think about Facebook buying Instagram?



Mashable’s Favorite Instagram Stories


More About: Facebook, instagram



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