Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Yahoo Preparing Big Cuts, Flashback Malware Still Rampant”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Yahoo Preparing Big Cuts, Flashback Malware Still Rampant”


Today’s Top Stories: Yahoo Preparing Big Cuts, Flashback Malware Still Rampant

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 05:03 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.

Yahoo Plans to Drastically Decrease the Number of Online Properties

In order to return to profitability, Yahoo must focus on what works, and drop the unnecessary load – that, at least is the new direction the company is heading in. "Yahoo has been doing way too much for too long and was only doing a few things really well," said Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson.

Mark Zuckerberg Negotiated the Instagram Deal Mostly on His Own

Facebook co-founder and CEO negotiated the Instagram acquisition mostly on his own, reducing the initial price of 2 billion dollars to 1 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports. Facebok’s board of directors had very little to do with the negotiations; they were “told, not consulted.”

140,000 Apple Computers Still Infected With Flashback

Although Apple and many security vendors have offered a fix for the Flashback malware, some 140,000 Apple computers are still infected, claims Symantec. If you suspect your machine has been infected by Flashback, you should install the latest patches from Apple, and make sure your antivirus program is up to date.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: Facebook, features, first to know series, flashback, mashable, Yahoo

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Current Lumia Devices Will Not Get an Upgrade to Apollo [REPORT]

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:33 AM PDT


Nokia’s current lineup of Lumia devices – Lumia 900, 800 and 710 – will not be upgradeable to the next major version of Windows Phone mobile platform, codenamed Apollo, the Verge claims citing a source close to Microsoft.

Officially, Microsoft only promises that “all apps in the Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone,” without clarifying whether the current Lumias will get Apollo down the road.

If true, this is bad news for Lumia owners. For comparison, most Android devices are usually launched with a promise to be upgradeable to at least the next iteration of Android software.

It may be good news in the sense that the next version of Windows Phone platform might bring some radical improvements, but that’s not very comforting to users who already purchased a Lumia phone.

An unconfirmed list of features in Apollo includes support for multi-core CPUs, different resolutions and NFC, as well as deep Xbox and Skydrive integration.

More About: Apollo, Lumia, microsoft, windows phone

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Drop In! Top Schools from Berkeley to Yale Now Offer Free Online Courses

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 02:01 AM PDT


On average, it will cost $55,600 to attend Princeton, Penn, Michigan or Stanford next year. But now you can enroll in online courses at all four universities online for free.

The universities won’t just be posting lectures online like MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, Yale's Open Yale Courses and the University of California at Berkeley's Webcast. Rather, courses will require deadlines, evaluations, discussions and, in some cases, a statement of achievement.

“The technology as well as the sociology have finally matured to the point where we are ready for this,” says Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, the for-profit platform classes will run on.

“This is a group that didn’t grow up at a time when there weren’t browsers,” Koller adds. “They have the mental state that allows them to say, ‘I’m willing to get a good portion of my education online.’”

Coursera grew out of an experiment in Stanford’s computer science department that opened up a handful of classes to non-Stanford students via the Internet. The online students received a signed letter from the instructor (but no credit) upon completion.

Both Koller and her co-founder Andrew Ng taught classes in the experiment, which ended up enrolling between 100,000 and 160,000 online students in each class. Ng says that more than half of the 160,000 students in his class attempted one particular problem, and about 23,000 of them completed the work.

Koller and Ng are the second pair of Stanford professors attempting to scale the idea past Stanford. The first pair launched a portal for online classes called Udacity last year.

Stanford professors are not the only group pushing the limits of free, virtual education. University of the People, for instance, enrolls more than a thousand students in 115 different countries in its free degree programs. For-profit learning site Udemy has recruited professors from universities such as Stanford, Yale, Northwestern and Dartmouth to teach video-based courses on its free platform.

MIT announced its plans for online courses in December, though it doesn’t plan to launch a prototype until Spring.

Research suggests that online learning can be just as effective as classroom learning. In a 2009 report based on 50 independent studies, the U.S. Department of Education found that students who studied in online learning environments performed modestly better than peers who were receiving face-to-face instruction.

When it comes to creating open online courses that reflect the classroom experience, however, it pays to be a professor of computer science. Coursera’s founders are well equipped to solve problems such as automatic grading, peer grading and 1,000-student class discussions that make an online class size of 100,000 students manageable.

But no matter how elegant the solution, universities don’t believe their course offerings on Coursera will ever equate to the $55,000 classroom version — or they would not agree to give them away.

“I don’t think any of these universities think their value proposition to their students is the lectures,” Koller says, citing interaction with peers and professors as one reason students would still want to pay $55,000 for courses they can access online for free.

A startup called 2tor has helped universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Southern California monetize their virtual classrooms. Those programs grant degrees, but limit class size and charge standard tuition.

Coursera announced on Tuesday that it has raised a $16 million round of funding, which means that it will also be installing a business model at some point. But Ng and Koller say the company will not charge for classes.

“It opens doors to people who wouldn’t have had them opened otherwise,” Koller says. “Education is a real equalizer, even if it doesn’t come with a degree attached to it.”

More About: Coursera, education

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Facebook Hackathon Could Spark The Next Great Idea

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 11:08 PM PDT


Rule number one of Facebook’s Hackathon: If you’re new, you must hack!

Facebook in Menlo Park, Calif. staged another Hackathon on Tuesday evening. The event kicked off around 7 p.m. at Facebook’s massive headquarters. During the course of the night, engineers and communications specialists alike will code and create new ideas that could potentially one day be integrated into the Facebook you know and love. If anything, the ideas could at least turn out to be entertaining.

Past hackathons have resulted in some of the most well-known Facebook features — chat and Timeline, for example. Vernal said one idea the sprang from a past hackathons was something the team called, “friendship pages.” The pages would house all activity between the user and one friend — things they have in common, photos they’re both in and more — essentially telling the story of their friendship. From that idea another team created a project called, “memories.” “Memories” pulled together a summary of each year, highlighting updates and photos that had the most likes. Sound familiar? This idea was the early version of Timeline.

A crowd gathered in a quad to commence the all-night event. In the center of the outdoor space was a yellow construction crane that seemed out-of-place at the crisp, new college-like campus. There’s a story behind the crane, said Michael Kirkland, communications director at Facebook who was giving me the tour. The crane was in the lobby of their former office and it was somewhat of a go-to meeting spot since it was so easily identifiable. When they began creating the new campus a little more than one year ago, they also brought the yellow crane, and now it’s a fixture in the quad. That’s just one of the quirky details on Facebook’s very large yet cozy campus.

In total, there have been about 30 hackathons at Facebook. The idea behind them, says Mike Vernal, director of engineering at Facebook, is to give engineers time to take a break from their daily jobs to work on passion projects. Now, he says, when someone comes up with a new idea, they will wait until the next hackathon to hash-it-out on a team. Since hackathons happen every six-eight weeks, they don’t have to wait long to brush-out those ideas.

Anyone is welcome on a team, but everyone must code (see rule no. 1). Another advantage to the hackathon idea, Vernal said, is that people who don’t usually work together get a chance to collaborate.

As of late, Facebook is being a bit hush with the media and outsiders — avoiding any chance of tarnishing its impending IPO. And even though there was a keg and plenty of food to keep people awake all night long, unsurprisingly, most were using the fuel to stay glued to their laptop screens, preparing to code the night away.

Check out a handful of pics from the event:


Facebook Hackathon




Facebook's held about 30 hackathons to allow engineers to work on passion projects that might lead to big breakthroughs, or maybe just massive QR codes on the rooftop.

Click here to view this gallery.

If you could participate in a hackathon, what would you like to create for Facebook? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Facebook, hackathon

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12 Free Tumblr Themes to Class Up Your Blog

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 09:25 PM PDT


1. Watercolor




Splash some color over your header with this modern design. The hint of paper texture will do wonders beneath your content. Preview it here. Get it here.

Click here to view this gallery.

By the end of the year, there may be more people Googling the word “Tumblr” than “blog.” The very language of content creation and curation has shifted thanks to Tumblr’s ridiculous growth.

If you’re already Tumbling, you know what’s going on out there. If not, you’d better grab a hipster username before it’s too late.

SEE ALSO: 10 Premium Tumblr Themes Worth Paying For

Whether you’re just getting started on the platform or looking to give your site a fresh coat of paint, these 12 free themes show off what Tumblr’s design community is capable of. Gentle textures, modern lines and some creative content displays abound in the gallery above. Tumble through it, and let us know your recent favorites in the comments below.

Thumbnail courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.

More About: blogging, BLOGS, design, features, tumblr, tumblr themes, web design

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Dueling Memes: Lawyer Dog Vs. Business Cat

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 08:55 PM PDT


Lawyer Dog





Click here to view this gallery.

Lawyer Dog, a new meme that has popped up in recent days, is taking over the Internet one lawsuit at a time (see photos in the gallery above).

Although it may look like a cute and inoffensive meme, Lawyer Dog is really only the latest broadside in the epic struggle between cats and dogs to see which becomes the supreme ruler of the internet. And now another, more venerable meme — Business Cat — has taken offense to the canine upstart.

We expect litigation to follow shortly — that is, unless Lawyer Dog thinks Business Cat is barking up the wrong tree.

More About: Meme


Can Twitter Tell Us What We’re Feeling? [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 08:36 PM PDT


Twitter’s 140 character limit can be perfect for sending out short bursts of information, but is it also perfect for helping us gauge the public mood?

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. conducted a study to test this hypothesis. From July 2009 to January 2012, they analyzed 484 million tweets generated by nearly 20 million users. They found that the microblogging network did indeed match up with British public opinion.

The researchers found a significant increase in negativity, anger and fear around two events in particular — October 2010, which coincides with the government’s announcement of public spending cuts, and last summer, when riots rocked the streets of London and other U.K. cities.

Of course, public opinion changes — and the researchers found a relative calm in the tweets during last year’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, which was celebrated with great fanfare in the U.K. and made global news.

“While we leave the interpretation of our findings to social and political scientists, we observed how the period preceding the royal wedding seems to be marked by a lowered incidence of anger and fear, which starts rising soon after that,” said Professor of Artificial Intelligence Nello Cristianini. “Of course, other events also happened in early May 2011, so they may also be responsible for that increase.”

The researchers also acknowledged the limitations in their research. To analyze social media content, they used text mining technologies, which, although can be applied to vast amounts of data, are less accurate than assessments by humans.

Also, a Twitter-based study is clearly biased toward Twitter users — and not everyone uses Twitter. Regardless, these findings do make some sense. People use Twitter to post all sorts of things, from news to opinions — and yes, their feelings.

And if you’re interested in what people are loving, hating, thinking, believing, feeling or wishing right now, check out the real-time results coming out of Twistori.

Do you think we’ll continue to find correlations between Twitter and the public mood? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Twitter, United Kingdom, Video

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Lover.ly Makes Wedding Planning Simple

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 08:20 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: Lover.ly

Quick Pitch: Wedding planning made easy

Genius Idea: Lover.ly partners with bridal blogs and other editorial content creators to bring its users the most beautiful wedding ideas. The site’s plans to revolutionize image search, while making discovery, saving, and sharing of wedding items simple.


"wedding" "couple" "married"For years, a bride and her maid of honor have had to scour bridal magazines and scrapbook pretty dresses to wedding decorations ideas to share with others. Scrapbooking has been tossed aside thanks to the Internet, and today planning the perfect wedding instead involves perusing hundreds of wedding blogs and sharing links with the bridal party.

Kellee Khalil, founder of Lover.ly, knows this process all too well. She moved to New York City from Los Angeles two years ago to join her sister at a bridal public relations company. Her sister got engaged shortly after and Khalil was the maid of honor.

She found it tough to follow 30 wedding blogs at once to find the best ideas for her sister’s big day. And sharing with the bridesmaids turned into a bombardment of emails, she said.

Khalil thought there must be an easier way to organize and share wedding ideas. That’s when the idea for Lover.ly sparked. Now, the startup is based in New York and has seven employees.

The wedding search engine, which is in public beta, launched in October 2011 and was redesigned last week to improve search and usability. The site looks similar to Pinterest, but Khalil insists it is not trying to compete with Pinterest.

“We are trying to make wedding planning online easier and image discover better,” Khalil said.

Lover.ly is different than Pinterest in that it does not allow its users to upload their own pictures because Khalil wants to keep the site searchable and beautiful. The site instead works with 32 wedding blog partners, some of the most popular in the industry including Wedding Chicks, Snippet & Ink, The Brides Cafe and celebrity wedding planner, Mindy Weiss.

“We want to have the most beautiful gallery of weddings and our partners are seeing the best stuff in the industry and are able to curate,” Khalil said.

The site is searchable by keywords, colors, categories, featured, popular images and more. Users can go to the original blog where the item was posted and purchase the item. More than 100,000 images are on the site and indexed to organize each photo in the proper categories.

Wedding enthusiasts can create bundles, or groups, to organize their favorite wedding stuff. They can name their own bundles or can love an image that will go into the love bundle. Bundles are private unless the user chooses to make them public.

You don’t have to be planning a wedding to browse Lover.ly for hours. Khalil said 25% of Lover.ly’s users aren’t engaged or planning a wedding for a friend or family member.

“A lot of unengaged girls in college who just like to plan their wedding use our site,” she said.

The site doesn’t release user numbers, but Lover.ly has more than 8,000 followers on Twitter and more than 15,000 Facebook Likes.

To boot, the site has several backers. Lover.ly has raised $500,000 in funding. The site has no ads and does not plan to ever publish ads. Instead, the site earns money by helping its partner blogs sell advertisements.

Check out Lover.ly and let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStock, 1905HKN


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: bizspark, pinterest, spark of genius series, wedding

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Appcelerator’s Developer Platform: Now with Cloud-Based Tools

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 07:55 PM PDT


Mobile platform company Appcelerator launched the latest version of its popular Titanium platform Tuesday, with cloud-based tools to help developers build more dynamic apps for Android and iPhone devices.

Titanium 2.0, which includes support for HTML5 mobile web apps, aims to help brands create apps quickly and efficiently for their businesses. Appcelerator works with a collection of major brand names including Michaels Stores, Zipcar and more.

ACS provides an assortment of popular cloud-based mobile features that aim to engage consumers. The platform includes enhanced photo capabilities — with the ability to store, share and public images from within the app — social integration with Facebook and Twitter, chat functions, check-ins and ratings and reviews.

SEE ALSO:Developers See Google as Bigger Growth Area Than Facebook

According to a recent study conducted by Appcelerator and analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC), about 60% of developers are already using or are considering the use of cloud services in their mobile applications. Meanwhile, about 80% of enterprise apps are expected to be deployed on cloud platforms.

“Not only are the tools accessed through a simple interface, the platform also helps developers cut down on costs,” Appcelerator principal analyst Michael King told Mashable.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

More About: apps, Facebook, Twitter


How to Stay Focused in a World of Distractions

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 07:15 PM PDT


Soren Gordhamer is the organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conferences, which bring together staff from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Zynga along with Zen teachers and others to explore living with awareness and wisdom in our modern age. You can follow him at @SorenG.

In our connected world, it is easy to think that the more information we have the better our chances of success. While more information can be helpful for, say, logical problem-solving, it is often useless when it comes to innovation. It's not how a game-changing device like Apple’s iPhone is born. Steve Jobs believed as much.

In Walter Isaacson's biography of the late technology mogul, Jobs said, "I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and logical analysis." What he was essentially touching on was a different quality of knowing, one less based on external information, and more on harnessing an inner intelligence.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things That Waste Your Time at Work [INFOGRAPHIC]

Certainly external information matters, but it's this inner intelligence that is the most vital element for any creative person or company. It has already served as a key factor in the creation of modern successful companies, and it will continue to be a key factor in the great companies of the future.

Mindfulness in business, however, is not something that everyone knows how to achieve. But with a few pointers, it is within reach for anyone smart enough to know its value.


Pay Attention


In the early days of Twitter, co-founder Evan Williams and others developed an internal document that included a set of principles to guide the company. One of the key sections in that document was titled Pay Attention. At a recent conference, Williams explained that this section essentially covered why "doing anything really well requires paying attention to what you are doing."

Another way of saying this is "mindfulness." That simply means bringing our full attention to the present moment. When hearing this, people often respond with, "Hold it, isn't my attention always on the present moment?" No, not generally. In fact, our attention, which we can often notice most easily when going to sleep, is regularly immersed in the past and future. It's almost anywhere but the present moment.

Steve Jobs realized this tendency early in his career, telling Isaacson, "If you just sit and observe, you see how restless your mind is." As he learned to calm his mind through Zen practice, he remarked to Isaacson that he found he now had room to hear more subtle things – and this was when intuition blossomed.


The Impact of Mindfulness


More companies are beginning to see the ability to calm the mind and be present as essential to their business. Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Asana and Facebook, and his Asana co-founder Justin Rosenstein, have gone so far as to say that, "companies who are not mindful lose their way, lose their best people, become complacent, and stop innovating."

They believe that, in the same way that mindfulness and reflection help individuals with personal growth, these behaviors also help organizations evolve and find their full potential. The next creative companies of our era will likely put as much attention on the internal state of employees as they do on the products they create.


Doing Less Means Doing More


When mindfulness is lacking, a sense of constant distraction pervades a company, leading to greater conflicts, more stress, and little innovation. This shows up the most in meetings. Think about it. How often have you been at a meeting where everyone is juggling two conversations and a smartphone? We then experience what former Microsoft executive, Linda Stone, calls continual partial attention. Our attention is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

While it may appear we are quite effective in our constant multitasking, research suggests otherwise. According to David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan, when people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up. The result is that it takes far longer to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially.

A study at Stanford basically tested this theory when they looked at 100 students who multitask. What they found was that the more people multitasked, the worse they performed.


Don't Just Fill Your Mind, Empty it


To access our mindfulness, we need to be as skilled at emptying our mind as we are at filling it. When I asked Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, how she keeps balance and focus amidst so much responsibility, she says she meditates for twenty minutes a day no matter where she is in the world. "This clears my mind, keeps me anchored, and calm while dealing with [the] multiple challenges of my hectic days," she says.


Create Space


In his book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer talked about how, when Pixar was designing their new building, Jobs and others wanted to place what was most important to their company in the center of the room. What did they put there? They actually left a big empty space where people could meet to develop ideas.

It is this empty space, both physical and mental, that is the very foundation for engagement and creativity. Still, it is often this inner dimension, which powerful entrepreneurs consider vital, that most people tend to overlook.

Those who can harness it, however, will see possibilities that others cannot, and they will be the trailblazers and leaders in the next wave of business.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: Business, contributor, features, steve jobs, Walter Isaacson

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Tell Twitter or Facebook Why You Love Books, Get an All-Star MP3 [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 06:59 PM PDT

Pinocchio, Madeline, the Three Blind Mice, Little Red Riding Hood and a dozen other beloved storybook characters star in Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) latest PSA, which the organization released online Tuesday to kick off its “Book People Unite” campaign.

RIF is calling all story lovers to declare themselves “book people” by taking an online pledge and sharing why they love books.

Once you share your pledge to Facebook, Twitter or Google+, you receive a free download of the PSA’s “Book People Anthem,” produced by Grammy winners The Roots’, featuring the vocals of Jack Black, Chris Martin (Coldplay), John Legend, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Jason Schwartzman, Consequence, Regina Spektor, Nate Ruess (fun.), Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) and Melanie Fiona. Pledges are shared on Twitter with the hashtag #bookpeopleunite.

According to RIF, there’s only one book for every 300 children in some underpriviliged communities in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: Ereader Wars: Which Tablet Earned the Most Online Buzz?

The campaign is not a jab at ereaders or ebooks. Reading Rainbow‘s LeVar Burton, who appears in the PSA, clarified on Twitter that this campaign is about reading and education, not the platform.


“I have witnessed time and again the transformative power of books,” Burton says. “Whether it's a bound book or an ebook, reading helps children overcome obstacles — opening doors to a wider world of experiences."

RIF also released a behind the scenes look at the making of the fantasy scenes of the PSA.

What do you think of the PSA? Would you sign this pledge?

More About: education, ereaders, PSA, Social Good

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Women: Calculate How to Achieve Your Target Salary Online

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 06:24 PM PDT


April 17 is Equal Pay Day — and for women in the workforce, it’s a stark reminder of the glass ceiling that still prevails in most industries. Full-time working women earned only 77% of what their male counterparts did in 2010.

That’s why the women of the Levo League, an online social network catering to professional women carving out their career paths, are calling the day another name — “Ask For More Day.”

They’ve created an interactive microsite, askformore2day, to help women calculate how to achieve their target salary, and how to best negotiate for their worth in the workplace.

For example, if your current salary is $30,000 a year, based on the calculation tool, you’ll need to ask for a raise of 6.2% per year in order to earn $100,000 in 20 years. That averages out to 93 cents more an hour if you’re working a 40 hour work week. If you make $55,000 now and want to make $150,000 in ten years, you’ll need to ask for a raise of 10.5% each year, an average of about $2.90 more per hour.

And that “need to ask” phrase is key — women negotiate four times less often than men do. According to Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up for What They Want, negotiation is the single most important skill a woman must have to climb the ladder.

Of course, there are organizational factors influencing women’s pay, but in her research and interviews with 20 female executives at the top of their fields, she found that female advancement had much more to do with self-advocacy.

“A full 60% of a women’s success hinges on the command of her own voice, the ability to take a position and make a request,” Rezvani said.

If women take on a negotiating mindset and “see the world around them as open for revision and up for discussion,” Rezvani says, they can not only get fair wages, but also advocate for promotion opportunities, scheduling and maternity plans.

Indeed, equal pay is as much a family issue as it is a women’s issue. 34% of working mothers are their families’ sole breadwinners. For these women, getting their fair share in the workplace is not just about their own pride. It’s a matter of necessity.

What do you think of Ask For More Day? Is negotiation the best approach to combat this issue of unequal pay? And if you’re a woman, will you ask for more? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStock, kupicoo

More About: women

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Elle Tries Facebook Commerce, Launches Shoppable Trend Guide

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 06:04 PM PDT


Elle has launched a shoppable trend guide on Facebook in the latest of several ecommerce initiatives within the magazine industry.

The guide, embedded as a tab on Elle‘s Facebook page, invites shoppers to navigate across six editorially chosen spring trends, including floral, nautical and ladylike.

Users can click “love,” “want, “own” or “buy!” on each product page. By default, all interactions with the app are shared automatically on their Facebook Timeline — so even if users don’t make a purchase, they can inadvertently draw curious friends in to interact with the app. Users can also click to buy each product on the retailer’s website.

The app has some strong attributes, while other features could have been better executed. Elle and its ecommerce partner 8th Bridge were smart to embed the “love,” “want” and “own” buttons on each page and tie that to Facebook’s Open Graph.

This makes it easy for users to interact, and allows Elle to turn those interactions into marketing promotions, as every action is shared with a user’s friends.

Kevin O'Malley, chief revenue officer and publisher at Elle, said that the app is less about pushing sales and more about leveraging recommendations among friends.

“We have no idea how much business this will generate, how transactional will this be, whether Facebook really is the right platform or interface for transactions,” O’Malley told Mashable. “We do know Facebook is the right platform for advocacy and for getting people to talk about products based on their likes. We’ve embedded gestures that get immediately posted to users’ walls and into their friends’ newsfeeds so that even if the consumer has not clicked to buy, they’re still giving some sort of endorsement, some sort of a shared gesture.”

“That’s where the advertisers and ourselves see a lot of value in this, in terms of allowing Facebook to do what it does so well: get personal endorsements from other friends,” he added.

While that part of the app is well-designed, product selection itself could have been better executed. Because Elle only features products from advertisers, the selection is limited and disjointed. A collarless white blouse doesn’t belong in the “sporting goods” section, nor is body lotion necessarily an optimal chioce for achieving a ladylike look.

The app would be far more compelling if editors were given complete control over product selection, perhaps with advertiser product mixed in and clearly disclosed as such.

Lastly, we think the experience would have been far better if users could have done all of their shopping within the app, instead of having to go to a dozen-odd third-party websites to complete their purchases. There’s also no way to systematically access items they claim to “love,” “want” or “own.”

Elle is planning to refresh the app with new product throughout the year; perhaps we’ll see some improvements to the app itself as well. O’Malley says Elle is also looking to go “much further” with ecommerce in the future — that this app is merely “version 1.0″ of what the title plans to do in the space. Elle is not alone: both Time Out New York and Real Simple are also moving deeper into ecommerce with new initiatives this month.

More About: ecommerce, elle, Facebook, fcommerce, magazines, Media, retail


21% of Brad and Angelina Tweets Asked: Weren’t They Already Married?

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 05:43 PM PDT

Wedding bells are on the horizon for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, after a seven-year relationship. But if you thought the Hollywood power couple were married already, you weren’t alone.

Some 21% of people who tweeted about the couple’s engagement after it was announced on Friday thought the duo were already married.

Social media analysis company Crimson Hexagon analysed Twitter sentiment on the Jolie-Pitt engagement news for Mashable. Here’s a breakdown of the analysis:

  • 31% of users were positive about the engagement news, with 17% reacting that it's about time Brad and Angelina tie the knot
  • 39% of sentiment was neutral, with 18% of users either passing along the news through general mentions and 21% expressing they already thought the two were married
  • 31% of the conversation was negative, with 17% of users responding "who cares!" and 6% saying they thought the couple would wait to wed until everyone, including same sex couples, could get married

Take a look at the full analysis below, and let us know in the comments where you stood on the engagement news.


More About: celebrities, Twitter

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Verizon’s 4G LTE Network Coming To 27 New Markets This Week

Posted: 17 Apr 2012 05:31 PM PDT


America’s largest 4G network is getting a little larger this Thursday. Verizon has announced it will bring its 4G LTE network into 27 new markets this week, and will be expanding the service in 44 of its existing markets.

The expansion makes Verizon’s 4G LTE network available in a total of 230 markets, which — according to Verizon — makes the service available to more than two thirds of the U.S. population.

New markets set to start speeding along on Verizon’s 4G LTE super highway include:

  • Auburn and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • Pine Bluff, Siloam Springs and Van Buren, Ark.
  • Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
  • Fort Walton Beach and Ocala, Fla.
  • Brunswick, LaGrange and Macon/Warner Robins, Ga.
  • Peoria, Ill.
  • Kokomo/Logansport and Marion, Ind.
  • Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend and Hays, Kan.
  • Salisbury, Md.
  • Cattaraugus/Allegany, N.Y.
  • Sandusky, Ohio
  • Ardmore and Ponca City, Okla.
  • Salem/Albany/Corvallis, Ore.
  • Pierre, S.D.
  • Big Springs and Tyler, Texas.
  • Verizon currently carries a substantial number of 4G LTE devices, including the "pure Android" Galaxy Nexus and the new iPad. It’s biggest competition in the LTE market is from AT&T, which expanded its LTE network by an additional 14 cities last month.

    At the time, AT&T noted that its network supported 250 million people (more than Verizon) — however, it included its HSPA+ network along with its LTE network to get that number. While HSPA+ is considered "4G" it isn’t capable of data speeds nearly as fast as LTE.

    Sprint has plans to roll out its own 4G LTE network later this year, and has already announced that it will be carrying the Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper, and the HTC EVO 4G LTE as its first LTE devices.

    T-Mobile will be bringing up the rear in the world of LTE, and is set to launch its LTE network in 2012.

    More About: 4G, LTE, verizon

    For more Mobile coverage:


    Is Twitter Trying to End the Tech Patent War?

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 05:05 PM PDT


    Twitter announced an internal patent agreement on Tuesday that it says will empower designers and engineers — as well as hopefully begin a movement to quell the tech world’s rash of patent infringement lawsuits.

    Publicly revealed in a blog post and dubbed the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA), the policy pledges that Twitter will not pursue offensive litigation over patents without the consent of the employees who created them.

    If someone else sues Twitter over a patent, however, the company can use patents awarded to employees or former employees to defend itself.

    The IPA has been greeted by many developers as an important step away from the “patent trolling” that many tech companies have been accused of recently — most notably Intellectual Ventures, founded by Microsoft veteran Nathan Myhrvold, as well as Yahoo.

    Yahoo sued Facebook in March for infringement regarding 10 patents in a move many in the tech world saw as an attempt at extortion.

    In an opinion piece for Wired, Upcoming.org founder and former Yahoo employee Andy Baio called the suit “an attack on invention and the hacker ethic,” explaining why support for Twitter’s IPA has been strong.

    Take, for example, the popular “pull-to-refresh” function found in Twitter’s iPhone app. News that Twitter had moved to patent the technology — credited to Loren Brichter, founder of Tweetie, which Twitter acquired in 2010 — stirred some consternation among techies that the company could pursue aggressive litigation down the line.

    The new IPA — which applies retroactively to patents the company has already filed and still gives designers and engineers ultimate power after they leave Twitter — essentially rules that out. Brichter endorsed the move in a tweet on Tuesday:

    In Twitter’s blog post, vice president of engineering Adam Messinger says the company has begun to “reach out to other companies to discuss the IPA and whether it might make sense to them, too.” Twitter also posted a draft of the agreement to the online open-source archive GitHub as a way to further spread the word.

    The move to more formally adopted agreements like Twitter’s appears to have already gained some traction among tech companies, as well as developers: Foursquare’s engineering lead Harry Heymann said he’s a “big fan” of the move; Facebook has expressed support for the idea; and the British startup Multizone committed to following suit with this tweet:

    Do you applaud Twitter’s IPA? Do you think software patents should exist in their present form? Let us know in the comments.

    Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, youngvet

    More About: patent infringement, software patents, Twitter


    Hide Your Wi-Fi From Prying Eyes (and Google Cars)

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 05:03 PM PDT

    In case you had any doubt, the recent flap over Google’s Street View cars has made it clear that private data transmitted over Wi-Fi can quickly become not-so-private.

    The good news is that there are ways to easily protect yourself, without going back to wired connections.

    The easiest and most direct way is to simply protect your Wi-Fi with a password. But that’s not always an option — especially when you’re using a Wi-Fi in a public place, like a coffee shop. Many employers provide a secure VPN (virtual private network) for their employees, but many don’t, and they’re often limited.

    Enter Private WiFi. The service provides VPN service to anyone for $9.95 a month. With the service, all the data going in or out of your computer gets encrypted. The software is designed to be always on (so you don’t have to remember to launch yet another app), and it’s both Windows- and Mac-compatible.

    SEE ALSO: Google Spends More On One Day of Lunch Than It Will On FCC Fine

    The service also gives the added bonus of anonymity. Since all your transmissions are routed through Private WiFi’s servers, it assigns your machine a temporary and random IP address. The company says the address can’t be traced, and no one will be able to determine your real IP address or location.

    Although many tech threats are sometimes overblown (Y2K, anyone?), the danger from snoops on public Wi-Fi networks is very real. Even if you don’t opt for a service like Private WiFi, it’s a good idea not to input any sensitive date over a public Wi-Fi network.

    How do you protect yourself on public Wi-Fi? Share your tips in the comments.

    More About: Google, vpn, wi-fi, wifi


    Meme Management: Meet the Man Who Reps Internet Stars

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 04:47 PM PDT


    Ben Lashes is a meme manager — and as far as we know, he is the first and only of his kind.

    Consider him an agent for the stars of the Internet. Lashes represents memes and their creators such as Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat and Scumbag Steve, to name a few. He’s also an A&R for Rebecca Black. It’s a full-time gig, and he’s been at it for over two years.

    Although this title might have been confusing a few years ago (and possibly even now, to some), the daily churn of viral culture is creeping into the mainstream. Those who create successful memes are everyday people who might not know how to represent themselves.

    Lashes worked for years as an A&R in the music industry, but his meme management career started with Charlie Schmidt, a family friend and the mastermind behind Keyboard Cat. According to Lashes, Schmidt created the video in 1986, so he was surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of feedback he received when it finally hit the web.

    Shortly after, Schmidt contacted Lashes for advice and the rest has been a fast-paced, crazy ride.

    “We were just living in this world, trying to manage something that had never been managed before, at least that we knew of,” says Lashes. “Half the time we felt totally crazy and half the time we felt a little ahead of the curve. We’ve tried to keep each other in good mental health over the past few years.”


    What’s in a Meme?


    When asked to define a meme, Lashes admits that even he can’t explain it outside a 20-minute conversation.

    But most people know what a meme is, they just don’t realize there’s a word for it. For example, Lashes brings up a recent conversation with a friend about Scumbag Steve. According to Lashes, the friend wasn’t familiar with the name, but as soon as he saw the photo, he recognized the character as a photo that popped up frequently on his Facebook feed.

    SEE ALSO: Are Memes Art? [VIDEO]

    The job title “meme manager” can’t always be an easy one to describe to family and friends. Lashes recently had to explain the concept of a website to his grandmother.

    “Think of it this way — remember when you first got a telephone, and all of a sudden you had a unique number and your friends could call that number and you could connect with them? You didn’t have to be in the same room. That was probably super huge, it broke down this wall in order to interact with people,” says Lashes, relaying the conversation with his grandmother.

    “That’s what the Internet is. Websites are phone lines, and if you have a domain name, then all your friends can go straight there to connect with you.”


    Owning a Meme


    “The first thing I would do if I had a meme come out tomorrow is try and pick up all the domains, Facebook pages and YouTube pages — any social media website, any dot-com, or dot-net you can think of,” says Lashes.

    This includes securing the name and immediately trademarking or copyrighting the digital property that you own in the process.

    Lashes’ main priority is making sure that you can at least prove that it’s your cat that’s becoming famous, even if you never want to make a penny from it.

    “It’s not about making a ton of money off of it, necessarily, it’s about doing what the creator of the content wants to do with it,” says Lashes, who understands that some things are out of his control.

    Meme culture has become so fast-paced and unpredictable, and fans are quicker than ever to put their own spin on images and videos. Things get auto-tuned, Photoshopped and mashed up. Lashes says his job would never be to prevent fans from sharing their versions of memes — in fact, he admits his desk drawers are stuffed with collectables and fan art.

    Lashes is more concerned with those who are trying to cash in on his client’s digital property.

    “When it’s a company who’s trying to sell a whole bunch of t-shirts, or put [memes] into a commercial, well, you wouldn’t do that to Mickey Mouse. Anything that you can’t do to Mickey Mouse, you shouldn’t be able to do to any of the memes of the world. It’s not right that everyone is just trying to make a buck off of it,” says Lashes. “It’s not the Wild Wild West anymore on the Internet, and people are treating it like it is.”


    Mainstream Memes


    Content is created with such speed and volume on the web today that it’s nearly impossible to plan for a viral video — a fact that advertisers and media companies have begun to pick up on.

    “It’s amazing, whoever is booking people for the TODAY Show, they’re like the number one place to break memes I think,” Lashes jokes. “If you can get it on Kathie Lee and Hoda’s show, that’s like the gold meme approval rating right there.”

    But memes are in fact becoming more mainstream, and web communities are finding the real people behind the pics, sometimes within 24 hours of their viral success.

    Distribution is part of the reason — getting content out there is no longer an issue because you can reach the masses in a few clicks through networks like Tumblr or Reddit. It’s no longer about how you get your content out there, but who picks up on it that makes memes go mainstream.

    “Once you start gathering all the people from one niche, they become a huge powerful group. There are either a hundred million people who love sharing cat videos, or a hundred million of them that love causing trouble in society. It makes them much more powerful because of how fast everything’s become. Things can happen faster than any structured system can put it together.”


    The Future of Memes


    Quick distribution methods and the growing desire for instant gratification are what fuel memes — it’s also helped turn traditional music and entertainment industries upside down.

    Lashes uses Justin Bieber as a prime example of what happens when you’re discovered by the masses first, calling him “the Elvis of the Internet age.”

    “He wasn’t manufactured, he manufactured himself — like a mom and pop operation,” says Lashes. “That’s the same way that the next Mickey Mouse or the next Bart Simpson will happen, or maybe it’s already happening.”

    According to Lashes, putting the masses in charge of what or who the next iconic character or celebrity will be could also be detrimental to major companies.

    “By the time that Disney votes on how lovable this character is that they’re developing, and whether or not it’s going to get approved by parents or have this weird undertone, there are going to be a hundred thousand different uploads of people trying to fill that same space with whatever they’ve come up with,” says Lashes.

    At the end of the day, Lashes says it would be silly to take any predictions about the future of memes too seriously.

    “Once you start trying to predict everything that the Internet is going to do, that’s when you’re going to look like an idiot,” says Lashes. “The Internet has a funny way of shifting gears at any given moment and it can shift in ten different gears at the same time.”


    BONUS: 10 Hilarious Memes Brought to Life On Twitter



    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.

    More About: features, Internet trends, keyboard-cat, Meme, nyan-cat, scumbag steve


    Google Bike Isn’t What You’d Expect

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 04:24 PM PDT


    The New GBike




    Here's the design of the new Google bike for the company's Mountain View, California campus, which won out over about three dozen others.

    Click here to view this gallery.

    Ever wonder how Google employees get around their Mountain View, California campus? While it would be amazing, and very Google, to travel by tube, it turns out most Googlers get from building to building in the sprawling Googleplex via bicycle.

    However, the current two-year-old “GBikes” on the campus haven’t been a hit with everyone. Some taller employees say their smaller 20-inch wheels make for an uncomfortable ride, CNET reports.

    So Google did the logical thing: solicit its workforce for ideas for a better design for the GBike. While the new bike needed to serve its basic purpose of shuttling riders from place to place as well as be affordable, the company still wanted it to exemplify the culture of Google in its color and components.

    SEE ALSO: Google's Mountain View Headquarters Hit With 'Snowstorm' [VIDEO]

    The result is the bike shown above. The new GBike opts for a fairly straightforward design — the only way you’d know it was a Google bike is by the colors.

    About three dozen designs were submitted, including a GBike based on a Penny-farthing bicycle. Ultimately, practicality and simplicity won out.

    What would an Apple bike look like? Or a Facebook model? Twitter? Shout out your ideas in the comments.

    More About: design, GBike, Google

    For more Tech coverage:


    Chicago Police Use Social Media to Find Food Trucks Breaking The Law [VIDEO]

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 04:02 PM PDT


    Chicago police are monitoring food trucks on social media, and it’s not because they want a juicy burger.

    Instead, police are asking the trucks to pack it up and are issuing citations if they don’t, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In the Windy City, by law, food trucks are not allowed to set up close to restaurants.

    As a result, it’s challenging for food trucks to find a decent place to serve customers — the top walking traffic areas in downtown Chicago are near establishments.

    So the trucks often set up in different street locations daily, and then post their location on Twitter and Facebook so customers can find them.

    Police have picked up on this social media trend, and are busting food trucks that park within 200 feet of restaurants. Truck owners say it’s now especially difficult to find an open place to set up.

    SEE ALSO: 5 Mobile Apps for Finding Food Trucks in Your Area

    Because posting to social media is the main way people find food trucks that move around a lot, food trucks now face a predicament — to ditch tweets, or tweet and risk a violation. Either way, police strolling by could still find the trucks the old school way.

    Food trucks now want the city to acknowledge the popularity of food trucks and to consider changing the law. Food trucks became popular in downtown Chicago last summer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. While customers like the food trucks, restaurants don’t like the competition.

    Should food trucks be allowed to set up near restaurants? If not, where should they operate? Tell us in the comments.

    Image courtesy of iStock, Kubrak78

    More About: Food truck, Social Media, Video


    Why You Could Be Prosecuted for Posting Olympics Photos to Facebook

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 03:40 PM PDT


    For an event being hyped by organizers as the world’s “first social media Olympics,” the summer 2012 games in London have some pretty antisocial policies.

    Athletes will not be allowed to tweet photos of themselves with products that aren’t official Olympics sponsors or share photos or videos from inside the athletes’ village.

    Fans, too, could be barred from sharing on Facebook and YouTube photos and videos of themselves enjoying the action.

    Business owners will have restrictions as well. They won’t be able to lure customers by advertising with official Olympics nomenclature such as “2012 Games.” Regulators will scour Olympic venues to potentially obfuscate non-sponsor logos on objects as trivial as toilets.

    The imminent crackdown is largely the result of a pair of stringent brand-protecting acts passed in the United Kingdom in preparation for the games, as detailed in this recent Guardian report. The pieces of legislation are 2006′s London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act and 1995′s Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act.

    Breaking the big-brother rules will be a criminal offense.

    It’s hard to imagine the ‘branding police’ actually sifting through social media to go after people who post photos of themselves at Olympic venues, but at least one legal expert says the scenario is not out of the question.

    SEE ALSO: London Olympics Restricts Volunteers' Twitter and Facebook Use | London to Get Europe's Biggest Ever Wi-Fi Zone Before Olympics

    Paul Jordan is a partner and marketing specialist at a law firm that is helping official Olympics sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses comply with the laws.

    “On a very literal reading of the terms and conditions, there’s certainly an argument that the IOC could run that you wouldn’t be able to post pictures to Facebook,” he tells The Guardian.

    “I think what they are trying to avoid is any formal commercial exploitation of those images, but that’s not what it says. And for that reason, it would appear that if you or I attended an event, we could only share our photos with our aunties around the kitchen table. Which seems a bizarre consequence.”

    Do you think brand sponsors and marketers have too much power in sports today? Let us know in the comments.

    Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, nkbimages

    More About: olympics, Social Media, sports


    Google Glasses Have a Stylish Rival: Oakley [VIDEO]

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 03:16 PM PDT


    Google’s augmented reality glasses haven’t yet hit the market, but they already have some potential competition. Sunglass maker Oakley is also developing eyewear that can project information onto lenses, Oakley CEO Colin Baden told Bloomberg.

    Oakley is working initially on products that would appeal to athletes, Baden said. The headgear would respond to voice commands, a la Siri, and connect wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth technology. The company is also exploring a similar product that could be useful to the military.

    One advantage Oakley might have over Google? Style. Baden told Bloomberg Oakley would have a leg up against more tech-heavy competitors because the company is in the business of making fashionable accessories.

    “People get very particular when they put stuff on their face," Baden said.

    Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, ctsnow

    More About: fashion, Google, oakley, project glass


    Finally, a Rap Song About Being 24 and Awkward [VIDEO]

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 02:51 PM PDT

    When a young man in a purple button-down shirt and khakis creates a rap song to tell you what it’s like to be 24 years old, gosh darnit, you listen.

    In my case, you relate. As a 24-year-old myself, I can testify that, I too shop at Trader Joe’s because it’s cheaper than Whole Foods. And yes, I do more reading for pleasure and less beer bongs than I did five years ago. After all, 24 is that incredibly awkward, entry-level age of overdrawn bank accounts and online dating.

    The video’s star, Pat Stansik, sums it up perfectly: “I'm into podcasts, yoga and foreign documentaries. My hotel's not five stars, but breakfast is complimentary."

    More About: Music, Video, viral, YouTube

    For more Video coverage:


    Facebook Meets Instagram: What It Means for Your Brand

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 01:52 PM PDT

    Instagram

    Joshua Teixeira heads up the strategy discipline at Big Spaceship, helping shape engagements for active projects and prospective clients alike. Recent projects include work with clients like Crayola, Chobani, Google, Wrigley, General Electric, Urban Daddy, and Gilt Groupe.

    When it comes to Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, details are still coming into focus. In a public statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Instagram will continue to grow independently — but further details about how the platforms will eventually weave together have not been provided. Nevertheless, the Instagram/Facebook combo presents new challenges to and opportunities for marketers.

    Instagram is a place we go to communicate visually, to give friends a glimpse into our daily life — what we ate for lunch, which shoes we just bought, the view from the window at work. These posts not only fill our friends' feeds with beautifully filtered photos, but also with artfully masked suggestions and influence.

    As the popular photo platform gains steam, surpassing 30 million users, some companies are realizing that an artsy tilt-shift photo of the bag of chips you’re eating could be actually worth something.

    Close to 1 billion members strong, Facebook has a powerful paid advertising program. And its support for brands has grown immensely in the past few months, with the rollout of Timeline for Brands and fan-based ads. Meanwhile, Instagram is emerging as a much smaller, but very powerful user-supported platform that brands are just beginning to embrace.

    For brands, this acquisition is an opportunity to strengthen their digital ecosystems — by leveraging both platforms as a way to tell their stories, creating a more cohesive consumer experience and encouraging deeper engagement. Integration of Instagram into a brand’s Facebook communications has potential to create a more visual conversation via rich stories and conversations. The transparent personalities that brands have built thus far on Instagram could be fleshed out further by harnessing Facebook Timeline’s layout power to represent a brand's lifespan of brand personification.

    SEE ALSO: How Brands Are Using Instagram to Reach New Audiences

    While Instagram doesn’t currently have an ad program, companies like Instagrid Network want to connect brands with Instagram users. By setting up programs that pay top Instagrammers to share photos of a brand’s products, inviting guest photographers to curate a brand’s feed, or promoting a certain hashtag, Instagrid is confident in its model to grow a brand’s following and establish the brand among influencers.

    As branded Instagram content begins to work its way into users feeds, the big question is whether people will mind (or notice). These paid endorsements will be unobtrusive, and will look exactly the same as every other photo populating your feed. As Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says, "It doesn’t feel like advertising when you open Instagram — it feels like entertainment."

    The idea of branded entertainment on Instagram has been an extremely successful tool for brands that operate their own accounts, such as Warby Parker and Anthroplogie, and Instagrid's programs could help their accounts grow. However, these accounts have a transparency to them that disappears with users being paid to post images on their accounts, on the behalf of brands. For brands, this "product placement" model risks driving users away from them or Instagram in general, due to a perceived drop in authenticity and artistic integrity of the community.

    Both brands and users will be carefully monitoring what happens next. Facebook and Instagram need to maintain their independence and authenticity as separate platforms in order to be successful and not push users away. Marketing efforts need to be carefully designed with the end user in mind.

    The prospect of Facebook using its dominant presence to barge into users’ intimately curated Instagram communities has backlash potential. However, we see an opportunity for positive social benefits than can subtly improve the Instagram user experience and make it more dynamic — such as in-app tagging, personal and community-sourced albums, or a unified desktop presence for Instagram photos.

    While this partnership will undoubtedly attract many new users to join the Instagram community, for brands, it’s important to keep in mind which channel is more relevant to the brand and its consumers. This acquisition can heighten the potential for success of branded content on Instagram, without affecting the artistic integrity of the platform.

    While initially it may fall on Zuck to get this right, brands bear the real responsibility for developing the new Instagram and keeping the focus on user engagement. If they can do that, it will be a pretty picture indeed.

    With Casey Roeder, strategist, Big Spaceship

    More About: Business, Facebook, instagram, Marketing, Social Media

    For more Business coverage:


    Prototype Apple Macintosh Computer Selling for $100,000 on eBay [PICS]

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 01:14 PM PDT


    Prototype Apple Macintosh 128




    What just might be the oldest Mac computer in the world is up for bids on eBay. The asking price: $99,995.

    Click here to view this gallery.

    Among personal-computer enthusiasts, there are many rare and desirable models from years’ past. The Apple Lisa. Steve Jobs’s NeXT computer. The Canon Cat. But there’s a machine selling on eBay right now that’s arguably the rarest of them all: a prototype of the original Apple Macintosh computer.

    As you might imagine for such a once-in-a-lifetime find, the prototype Mac 128k is commanding a hefty sum: The starting bid is $99,995. The auction only has hours left, but at least one person has made a bid for the super-rare machine.

    The seller, a longtime Mac enthusiast, told Mashable he found the machine in January via AppleFritter, a site dedicated to vintage Apple products. He bought the Mac from a person near Boston and says he paid a “significant amount of money” for it.

    “He was not advertising it for sale,” says Adam, who did not want to reveal his last name. “I threw him a message asking if he was interested in selling it. He had originally bought it for $500.”

    Once Adam got the machine, he worked furiously to get it working again. But there was a challenge: Apple designed the prototype to work with its proprietary disk format, Twiggy. Twiggy disks, with resemble old 5.25-inch floppy disks, were used with the Apple Lisa. However, the drives had a notoriously high failure rate, and Apple switched to Sony 3.25-inch disks for the production run of the Macintosh.

    Even though Adam had working Twiggy disks for his Lisa machines, they couldn’t coax his prize Mac to boot up. He suspects Apple made the prototype this way by design, so it wouldn’t work for anyone else.

    SEE ALSO: Steve Jobs Day: This Video Will Make You Cry

    “It might be a specific pre-release version of the Mac OS that will only boot this machine,” says Adam. “If anyone [has it], it would be one of the original Macintosh team back from 1983. Since this machine left Apple, it’s never booted up.”

    Since Adam can’t get it to work, the Mac is now open to anyone on eBay who has $100,000 to spare. Adam hopes whoever the new owner is can give it a home such an iconic machine deserves.

    “Because it’s the only one,” Adam says. “I don’t feel that I am the right person to own it, due to its historical significance. It’s very likely to be the world’s oldest Mac. In my heart, and in my gut, it should belong in a Smithsonian or a museum.

    “But I paid a lot of money for this computer. I’m not a rich person. I hope it’ll sell and make my money back and make a decent profit to make it worth my while.”

    Where would you like to see the prototype Mac end up? And how much would you pay for it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    More About: apple, ebay, macintosh

    For more Tech coverage:


    CISPA Foes Meet, Seek Common Ground

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 01:03 PM PDT


    The Business Software Alliance, a group of top technology companies including Intel and Microsoft, met with Internet privacy advocacy group Center for Democracy and Technology Monday evening.

    The goal: find common ground on the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as (CISPA). The big question: how best to protect American networks from cyberattacks while preserving the civil liberties and privacy of Internet users?

    "All of us agree legislation is needed to promote the safety and security of the Internet, and all of us agree it is important to protect privacy," BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman said in a statement. "Legislation to promote the kind of sharing we need certainly can be crafted in a way that safeguards people's civil liberties."

    In a separate statement, Intel called the meeting an “important step forward for cybersecurity protection.”

    “We look forward to working with stakeholders as the bill heads toward possible consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives next week to help address additional privacy implications in a way that does not unnecessarily dilute the important cybersecurity enhancing provisions,” David Hoffman, director of security policy and global privacy officer at Intel, said in a blog post.

    CISPA is designed to allow and encourage private business and the government to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another. Its authors, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, have stressed that the bill is intended only as a means to defend American economic interests from state-sponsored cybercrime.

    However, advocacy groups such as the CDT are particularly worried about a national security clause which they say would allow the intelligence community unlimited access to individuals’ emails, text messages and social media accounts.

    The CDT has joined forces with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups to launch a weeklong informational campaign about CISPA which began Monday.

    The BSA’s statement did acknowledge that CISPA’s language “could benefit from sharpening.”

    CISPA’s authors started making changes to the bill almost immediately after it began catching flack from Internet users, technology blogs and civil liberties groups. Last Friday, the committee released an updated “discussion draft,” which highlighted potential and actual changes to the bill. On Monday, another draft appeared featuring still more changes.

    Susan Phalen, communications director at the House Intelligence Committee, told Mashable the discussion drafts were posted online in an ongoing effort to be transparency-minded.

    Even after the changes, CISPA still includes the national security clause and other language that has civil liberties organizations in an uproar. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that’s evidence that Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger aren’t listening to criticism.

    “The amendments introduced don’t address the civil liberties concerns that have been raised around companies monitoring our communications and handing sensitive user data to the government with no form of judicial oversight,” says Rainey Reitman, activism director at the EFF.

    “In fact the latest changes only give further liability exemption to companies who monitor private communications, transfer that data to the government, or act in ‘good faith’ in decisions made on information obtained through this legislation.”

    Rainey added she found it “disturbing” that CISPA is changing rapidly but the authors are still failing to address the concerns that civil liberties groups have raised about the bill.

    Both Intel and Microsoft have sent letters to the House Intelligence Committee expressing their support for the controversial cybersecurity bill. On Tuesday, Rep. Rogers told The Hill that Google, while not officially in support of CISPA, has been “supportive” in trying to help lawmakers design a bill that bolsters cybersecurity while keeping Internet civil liberties intact.

    CISPA has passed committee and it’s expected to make it to the House floor early next week. According to Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow at the CDT, that’s the “real (and maybe only) opportunity to get our message across.”

    Do you think lawmakers can find a way to protect networks while preserving Internet privacy? Sound off in the comments below.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Olena_T

    More About: censorship, CISPA, internet, Politics, SOPA, US


    Startup Turns Research Databases Into Searchable Notecards

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 12:49 PM PDT


    Citelighter, a browser extension for collecting notes online, is teaming up with Cengage Learning to turn paid research databases such as Questia into a stack of free virtual note cards.

    With Citelighter’s first product, students can highlight any text on any web page and click a "capture" button to save it in a virtual notebook.

    When it's time to write, they can visit the notebook to view all of their highlights from across the web, reorder them and add comments to create an outline. Citelighter automatically puts together a citation page.

    On Tuesday, the startup announced Citelighter Pro, which builds on this functionality by recommending articles from Cengage Learning’s research databases — the kind usually purchased by libraries and schools — based on what a student is researching.

    Citelighter already has a databases of notes and bibliographies, putting it in in a good position to make recommendations based on what students with similar topics have cited in the past.

    When students access those recommended articles, they can use Citelighter to capture facts from them the same way they do from other online content. Non-paying users cannot access articles, but they can access the facts and citations collected from them.

    Through fact sheets it has dubbed “knowledge cards,” Citelighter is building a citation database. For about 375 topics, it has curated the most important facts its users have highlighted around the web and their sources. Now these sheets will contain facts from databases such as Questia as well.

    Most fact snippets currently hosted on Citelighter come from free websites. But when paid content is the mix, Citelighter has an opportunity to link users to sites where they can purchase the source material — and to collect referral fees.

    Citelighter Pro will be available in May.


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    More About: Citelighter, education

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    Facebook: Auto Fans Have More Friends

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 12:30 PM PDT


    Fans of auto brands have three times the average amount of friends than the average user, according to a new study by Facebook.

    The social networking giant, eager to make its case to marketers, conducted a study of 15,938 Facebook users between December and March. The report found that the average fan of an auto brand has 433 friends, which is three times the amount of the typical user.

    Not surprisingly, 55% of car maker fans own a vehicle made by the brand and loyalty among fans is higher — 62% to 46% — than non-fans. Finally, 82% of fans are very likely to recommend their vehicle to a friend vs. 69% of owners who are not fans.

    Facebook introduced the study — the first of its kind — to try to convince auto brands to make more of an investment in the network. As Doug Frisbie, the head of automotive, global vertical marketing at Facebook, pointed out in a blog post on Tuesday, the fan bases of the 10 leading auto brands in the U.S. represent less than 5% of their owners on Facebook.

    SEE ALSO: Twitter Opening Detroit Office to Serve Auto Clients

    Frisbie told Mashable that he wasn’t sure why auto brand fans had more friends than average, though one possibility is that fans tend to be more engaged in all facets of Facebook. Nor could Frisbie say whether being a fan makes a consumer more loyal and apt to recommend a brand to a friend or if people who are brand advocates tend to become fans.

    The lack of data around the issue of Facebook fandom is the main reason Facebook undertook the study. “One of the questions I’ve received [from marketers] is ‘Why create connections with fans on Facebook?’” Frisbie says. “We conducted this study to see who their fans were and how they behaved.”

    Facebook’s emphasis on brand pages comes with a pitch to run more paid advertising on the site, which, the company says, leads to greater overall engagement. For Facebook, which is planning to go public in a $5 billion IPO in May, getting more advertisers on board is crucial. The company reported $3.71 billion in revenues in 2011, mostly from advertising.

    That, however, was less than the $4.27 billion that eMarketer had predicted.

    Meanwhile, Facebook also had some encouraging news for brands in the wake of last month’s Timeline switchover. Two auto brands, Ram trucks and Ford Mustang, saw increases of 291% and 52.6%, respectively in their People Talking About stats, a key measure of engagement.

    Why do you think people who “fan” auto brands have more friends? Let us know in the comments.

    More About: Facebook, Marketing


    Is Ikea’s New Home Entertainment System an iPod for the Living Room?

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 12:15 PM PDT



    Ikea has offered a glimpse into its latest foray into consumer electronics, an all-in-one TV called Uppleva.

    The system, which will go on sale in five European cities this summer, attempts to solve the problem of unsightly wires bulging from behind the HDTV and stray remotes strewn throughout the living room. The all-in-one unit’s wires are all hidden (though presumably, you still have to plug in the power cord and your cable TV prong somewhere) and though the device offers Internet, DVD/Blu-ray, an MP3 player/iPod attachment, FM radio and regular TV, there’s only one remote control.

    No word on when Uppleva will hit the U.S. market. We all know that Microsoft and Apple, among others, have been targeting the living room as the next battleground for years, but who would have thought that Ikea might actually be a player as well?

    More About: consumer electronics, IKEA, trending, TV

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    5 Ways to Use Pinterest for Recruiting

    Posted: 17 Apr 2012 12:02 PM PDT


    Sal Loukos is a sourcing manager at Seven Step RPO, where she builds and manages talent sourcing strategies for a variety of Fortune 100 clients. You can follow her @Sal_Loukos, or on Pinterest at sal_loukos.

    Winning the talent war is a priority for every organization. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that companies get a head start in the recruiting game and capture talent using new, and sometimes unlikely, avenues.

    Pinterest, currently the third most popular social network, is the perfect tool for recruiters to advertise job openings and show off their company as an employer. Just as consumer goods companies have been experimenting with advertising products on Pinterest, recruiters can adopt these principles to tap into the network's growing community.

    Pinterest also presents an opportunity to reach talent first, since headhunters have yet to make the complete transition onto this platform in the same way they have with other social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Here are some tips on how you can use Pinterest to find your next hire.


    1. Build a Pin Board for Each Job


    Create different boards for specific departments (Finance, IT, Engineering, Design), making it easier for users to find content that appeals to them. Personalize these boards by using keywords, targeted images, and hashtags. When it makes sense, also use screen shots of job descriptions.

    Finally, when building a board, always redirect candidates to a career site by providing a link to where the job is posted, and a short description of what they need to do next.


    2. Pin Multimedia


    Do not limit yourself by pinning only pictures. Pinterest is a multimedia channel, so take advantage of the new integration with Vimeo. You can start by using your company's existing YouTube channel to pin videos of employees in action.

    Choose industry-specific content to appeal to your desired candidate. For example, you can broadcast the company's green efforts to attract those in the engineering field, or use corporate videos pertaining to innovation and technology to appeal to an IT crowd.

    Also, pin QR codes. This will help attract candidates by providing quick access to a job application. You will find that most of the company's marketing material can also function as employment branding material.


    3. Promote Company Culture and Values


    You're looking for a quality candidate –- not just someone to fill a seat. Make culture and values evident by pinning images with personality. Looking for a candidate that cares about networking? Pin images of your team at a recent industry trade show. Do you want to attract team players? Consider adding images of a recent team-building event.


    4. Use Fashion and Travel Trends


    Let's face it, the majority of Pinterest users are women who love to pin travel, apparel, and do-it-yourself projects. Use this to your advantage. A good way to do that is to provide similar content and relate it to the workplace. For example, pin a stylish interview outfit or laptop tote for work, creating a "stumble upon our jobs" upshot.

    Travel is another big theme on Pinterest. Consider pinning images of the hiring locations, including nearby sites of interest, such as restaurants, sports venues, or a well-designed office. This is especially important if the area is remote and handicaps hiring efforts.


    5. Connect


    Recruiting shouldn't be transactional; it's about relationships. Pinterest doesn't allow direct contact (yet), which makes the site more of a buzz-building mechanism than a direct-sourcing tool.

    A good way around that is to redirect the conversation to networks like LinkedIn that are more suitable for direct communication. In addition, make sure interested candidates have at least one way to contact you.

    Innovation is key to attracting and impressing top talent –- and innovation requires experimentation with new channels and platforms. Will you be one of the early adopters?

    More About: contributor, features, job recruiting, Marketing, pinterest



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