Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mashable: Latest 19 News Updates - including “Samsung Galaxy S3 Hits Europe and Two Other Stories You Need to Know”

Mashable: Latest 19 News Updates - including “Samsung Galaxy S3 Hits Europe and Two Other Stories You Need to Know”

Samsung Galaxy S3 Hits Europe and Two Other Stories You Need to Know

Posted: 29 May 2012 04:13 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.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Now Available in 28 Countries

The most powerful Android smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy S3, is now available in 28 countries, including Germany and the UK.

The official US launch date is not yet known, but the device will be available in 145 countries and with 296 carriers in July.

Japan’s Softbank Launches Radiation Detecting Smartphone

Softbank has launched the Pantone 5 107SH, an Android smartphone which has a unique feature: it can measure levels of radiation in its surroundings.

Other than this special feature — an answer to the nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima power plant which occurred in March 2011 — the device is a mid-range smartphone, with a 3.7-inch 854 x 480 LCD screen, a 4-megapixel camera, and a 1.4GHz CPU.

Zillow Employee Shot by Stray Bullet

Forty-three-year old Justin Ferrari was killed in a shooting in Seattle's Central Area, reports the Washington Post. Ferrari was going on a holiday weekend with his parents and his two children when a stray bullet hit him. The shooter’s identity is currently unknown; Seattle Police detectives are looking for a man in his twenties.

Ferrari was a software developer at Seattle-based real estate company Zillow, and was formerly an employee of Microsoft.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: features, first to know series, Galaxy S3, Justin Ferrari, mashable, pantone, samsung, softbank, zillow

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Now Available in Europe

Posted: 29 May 2012 02:23 AM PDT


Samsung’s new flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S3, today becomes available in 28 countries, including several European markets such as Germany and the UK.

The Galaxy S3 is the cream of the crop of Android smartphones, with a 4.8-inch touchscreen, a 8-megapixel rear-facing and 1.9-megapixel forward-facing camera, and the latest version of Android — Ice Cream Sandwich.

It also sports some neat innovations, such as a sensor that tracks eye movement, preventing the screen from going dark when you’re looking at the device.

Samsung Galaxy S3 is not yet available with US carriers, but rumors say it’s just a matter of weeks. In July, the device should be available in 145 countries and 296 carriers.

If you’re willing to dish out $799 for the LTE-less version of the device, though, you can do so right now at Amazon.

More About: android, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S3, trending

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Women’s Health Contest Opens Up Pinterest to Advertisers

Posted: 29 May 2012 12:54 AM PDT


Pinterest may not allow advertisers on its platform yet, but that’s not stopping some third-party publishers from hosting campaigns on the rapidly growing social network.

On Friday, Women’s Health will launch its first advertiser campaign on Pinterest. The magazine will invite readers to create “Sparkling Summer” Pinterest boards incorporating images from the advertiser, Forevermark Diamonds, for a chance to receive a trip to a Women’s Health party in the Hamptons later this summer.

We’ve seen a number of these kinds of contests on Pinterest in the past, but never on behalf of another advertiser.

Social media has proven difficult territory for many advertisers. Followers and fans often react negatively to the kind of blatant sponsored messages that appear in other media, such as print and radio. As such, magazines’ social media accounts have remained largely in the hands of editorial departments, which use those accounts to build their audiences and drive traffic to their websites.

To integrate advertising into social media managed by magazines thus requires a degree of creativity. Women’s Health is hoping that the prize is enough to compensate for the appearance of what is clearly sponsored content in the newsfeeds of their Pinterest followers. The key, says Women’s Health publisher Laura Frerer-Schmidt, is to “offer prizing that really brings the Women’s Health experience to life for our audience.”

Women’s Health has already sold another social media campaign around its July/August issue to Procter & Gamble. For two weeks, the magazine will encourage its more than 1 million Twitter followers to engage with “a series of Twitter parties… [that] will unlock special content and prizing for our audience” related to the Olympics, says Schmidt.

In a similar vein, Elle has launched an advertiser-sponsored trend guide on its Facebook page.

How open are you to third-party advertisements from the brands you follow? Are they acceptable so long as there’s a tangible benefit, such as a contest prize, involved?

More About: Advertising, magazine, Media, pinterest, Social Media, women's health

Cloud Photo Sync Chronicles Adventures of Snatched iPhone [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 May 2012 08:31 PM PDT

When Katy McCaffrey’s iPhone turned up missing at the end of her Disney cruise, she feared she’d never see it again.

Soon, however, photos taken with the iPhone started syncing to McCaffrey’s computer. The alleged thief: A Disney Cruise Line employee named Nelson.

McCaffrey posted the incriminating photos to Facebook, where they promptly went viral.

Check out the video above for the full story.

More About: apple, disney, icloud, iphone

Facebook in Talks to Acquire Face.com for ‘Tens of Millions’ [REPORT]

Posted: 28 May 2012 06:25 PM PDT

Facebook may be about to acquire facial recognition tool Face.com, according to multiple reports.

Israeli business publication Calcalist, which has accurately leaked acquisitions of a number of Israeli companies in the past (including Apple’s acquisition of flash storage company Anobit), says that Facebook is in talks to purchase the startup for “tens of millions of dollars.”

Face.com already powers two photo apps on Facebook’s platform, Photo Finder and Photo Tagger. The company also has a public API, which it updated in March to enable third-party apps to estimates the ages and moods of people in photos.

Rumors that Facebook was interested in acquiring Face.com have appeared before, but the two companies disagreed over price, TheNextWeb reports.

Should the latest rumor be true, this will be Facebook’s first major acquisition since going public earlier this month — unless last week’s rumor about Facebook’s interest in acquiring Opera happens to be true.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors.

More About: face.com, Facebook

June Movie Preview: Summer Blockbusters Get Social

Posted: 28 May 2012 05:29 PM PDT

The summer movie season is already off to a bang, thanks to the success of The Avengers and Men in Black 3, but the action on the silver screen is really going to heat up in June.

At Mashable, we’re tracking the summer movie buzz via our Summer Movie Blockbusters mRank Leaderboard and our general leaderboard of the Hottest Movies in Theaters. These leaderboards use real-time results from Facebook, Twitter and the social web at large to show what films have the most online buzz.

We’ve highlighted ten of the most promising films of June 2012, alongside their various social and digital strategies. Check out the flicks coming soon to a theater near you!

The Thrillers: Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus

The month of June kicks off with Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman on June 1, 2012.

Starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, the film is a more modern take on the famous fairy tale, “Snow White.” In addition to its official website, Universal has a large Facebook following with nearly 900,000 likes, a YouTube channel a Twitter account (@SnowWhite) and two iOS games (here and here).

On June 8, 2012, Fox is releasing Prometheus in the US. The viral campaign for Prometheus — which started with a TEDTalk from the future and segued into the creepiest robot advertisement ever — is one of the best we’ve seen this year.

In addition to live chats on Twitter and a live-streamed red carpet, Fox also has official Facebook, Twitter and a special Project Prometheus portal. The Internet Explorer team even got in the mix with its excellent HTML5 Prometheus Training Center.

The Kid Friendly: Brave and Madagascar 3

Two animated films are opening in June — Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and the latest Pixar film, Brave.

Madagascar 3 opens on June 8, 2012 and DreamWorks Animation is going all out in its digital push for the film.

In addition to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter postings, DreamWorks has embraced mobile devices in a big way. First, the company released its own Wig Out app for Facebook and iOS — which allows fans to put their own faces in a Madagascar-themed wig.

Moreover, DreamWorks just announced a partnership with Zynga for Draw Something that includes Madagascar characters as Draw Something clues. Fans can then share these images out using the hashtag #wigout.

For Pixar and Disney, Brave is the first film from the animated studio that has a female protagonist. It will hit theaters on June 22, 2012.

The trailers for the film have done exceedingly well online — and Disney and Pixar continue to release new information via Facebook and YouTube. On the official website for Brave, Disney even has an easy way for fans to customize their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles.

The R-Rated Comedies: Ted and That’s My Boy

Thanks to the success of films such as The Hangover and Bridesmaids, raunchy, R-rated comedies are a great way to enjoy the summer. This June, two of these comedies will hit the silver screen — Ted and That’s My Boy.

That’s My Boy opens on June 15, 2012. The film, which stars Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg as estranged father and son — has a social presence on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. Sony is also using its social media accounts to push viewers towards the red-band restricted trailer for the film — which ups the curse words and the raunch — but also the funny.

As for Ted, Universal decided to push its release up to June 29, 2012 (now that GI Joe is being pushed back to March of 2013) and really ramping up its social media campaign.

Ted is about a teddy bear that came to life and is now making it hard for his best friend (Mark Wahlberg) to move on with his life. Oh — and it’s the first live action film directed by Seth MacFarlane. That’s important.

Universal has built momentum for Ted almost entirely online. With very little television or radio advertisements, Ted has almost 350,000 likes on Facebook, a popular Twitter account and a frequently updated Tumblr.

Moreover, the two trailers for the film — both the red-band restricted trailer and the “acceptable for all audiences” version — have been viewed more than 15 million times on YouTube.

The Fun and Bizarre: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Rock of Ages

Summer is all about fun, which is why we’re excited to see two different types of films headed for the big screen.

On June 15, 2012, Warner Bros. is bringing Rock of Ages to the big screen. An adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the film is a rock and roll romance told through the sounds of Def Leopard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner and other hair bands from the 1980s.

The film version is packed with stars — including Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise (as the ultimate rock god, Stacee Jaxx).

Warner Bros. hasn’t launched the most intense digital campaign — the film’s most socially active profile is a well-maintained Facebook page — but the music and the star power involved in the film have tons of social potential.

One June 22, 2012, Fox is bringing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Trailers for the film — which is based on the book of the same name — have gone viral — and Fox is hoping to attract fans of Tim Burton, Joss Whedon and Dr. Who into the alternate-reality version of history.

On the digital front — Fox is taking an unconventional route with Vampire Hunter — rather than doing the typical digital promotional effort, the studio is creating trailers and previews that appeal to the core audience.

For instance for Memorial Day, the studio held a special screening of the film for thousands of sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Watch the Trailers and Tell Us What You Think

Snow White and the Huntsman - Trailer

http://snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart (Twilight) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar® winner Charlize Theron) out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, Thor) dispatched to kill her. Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White's beauty and power. The breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale is from Joe Roth, the producer of Alice in Wonderland, producer Sam Mercer (The Sixth Sense) and acclaimed commercial director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders.

Click here to view this gallery.

Check out the trailers for some of June’s upcoming films and let us know what movies you can’t wait to see in theaters.

More About: abraham lincoln vampire hunter, Brave, features, madagascar 3, prometheus, rock of ages, snow white, summer movies, TED

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Bad Tech Etiquette To Avoid at Work

Posted: 28 May 2012 03:17 PM PDT

Angie Reed is a VoIP expert and Switchvox UC Product Marketing Manager at Digium, the creator and sponsor of Asterisk, the world's most widely used open source communications software. Follow her @switchvox and read her blog.

Technology has simplified communications for most businesses, but the increased use of conference calls, video conferencing, and instant messaging has created a new list of off-putting behaviors that could land your business in an awkward situation.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Handle an Employee's Controversial Online Behavior

Here’s a list of some pet peeves that would definitely make Emily Post cringe, and how to avoid them.

Instant Message

1. Knock before entering. Most people know better than to barge into someone's office or cubicle. The same applies to using IM. Before launching into a conversation, send a polite "ping" asking if the person is available for a quick chat. If you are on the receiving end, learn to say no if you can't be interrupted and offer the person an alternative time to talk.

2. Keep it short. IM works best for quick questions and updates. If the message is complicated, and takes more than a few sentences, pick up the phone or get out of your chair and walk down the hall to discuss.

3. Hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign. If you are unavailable then simply set your status to invisible, away, or out to lunch.

Video Conferencing

1. Video conferencing is more widely used in recent years in an effort to save on travel costs. It's best to always assume the microphones and the cameras are on. That means don’t do or say anything you don’t want on camera.

2. Sit still, please. You may know someone who constantly fidgets. You may even have threatened to tie them to a chair during a videoconference. Simply put, excessive movements can be extremely distracting to others on the conference, so avoid rocking, pacing, or making dramatic gestures.

Avoid bright, flashy, patterned clothing. Play it safe, wear neutral tones in solid patterns.


1. Don't place someone on speaker without first telling all parties involved in the call, and don't assume everyone knows who is on the call. An obvious solution is to use a conferencing feature that prompts attendees to announce themselves when they arrive.

2. Mute your phone if you dial in from a public area, or if you need to multi-task while on a call. There is nothing worse than feeling like the person on the other end of the line is not engaged.

3. Refrain from having side conversations while participating on calls. It makes it difficult for those on the call to understand the dialogue if there is more than one conversation taking place in the conference room.

4. Avoid loud snacks, smacking of gum, slamming of office drawers, crying babies, barking dogs or basically any noise that will be magnified and hinder communication with other participants.

5. Don't shout into the speakerphone. Today's high-definition phones are particularly sensitive and you may come across louder than you intend. And, if you decide to move the phone around the room, keep in mind that the audience on the other side will hear it.


1. Don’t use your speakerphone. If you assumed that using the speakerphone on a cell phone was something that only happens on reality TV, think again. It seems to be a growing trend among many cell phone users — and an annoyance for anyone standing close by. While it's fine that you can work from just about anywhere now, don't make everyone else part of your work day.

2. Be careful what you say in public. For starters, you never know who might be listening when you happen to be discussing confidential information about, say, customers. It’s a bad idea all around and most of the time the people near you don’t want to hear it. Believe it or not, some people are at Starbucks for the coffee.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AVAVA

More About: contributor, features, instant message, smartphone, video conferencing

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Are These the Best Startup Perks You’ve Ever Seen?

Posted: 28 May 2012 01:10 PM PDT

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

Startup life isn’t easy, but it seems like a hell of a lot more fun than working at a stodgy corporation. Ambitious startups have struck a balance of “work hard, play hard” by offering employee perks that prove the higher-ups will go the extra mile to show their teammates that they’re valued and appreciated. The best way to attract fun, hardworking people is to let your team behave as fun, hardworking people — exciting work environments are enticing, so ping pong breaks and team lunches should be encouraged, not frowned upon as unnecessary time-sucks.

“We want to create a place where people are excited to come to work everyday. We think the best way to do that is by creating a fun and productive work environment, where people are growing and doing great things while having a good time,” says Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker.

But the fun doesn’t have to stop when your company hits a certain size. Even growing companies can benefit from a happy environment and the work of what Warby Parker calls a “Fun Committee” — a group of people that plans fun events and makes sure the startup culture doesn’t slip away.

“While we've grown a lot in the past few years, we've maintained our startup roots by cultivating a distinctively dynamic culture where everyone's contributions are valued and encouraged,” says Alicia Barnes, head of PR at ModCloth. ModClothers have themed apparel days and a dog-friendly office, among other perks — it doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend 40+ hours a week.

Some of you readers might be wondering how a company can afford such frills — shouldn’t they be bootstrapping? Certainly, splurging on things to keep employees happy and to attract new hires is a worthy investment for your company’s growth plans, but startups realize that you have to cut back somewhere.

“We try to stay frugal — our office furniture is secondhand, but we cater lunch in everyday,” says Allison Braley of ZocDoc. “We've tried to be really thoughtful about the perks we offer — lunch helps people get to know ZocDoc-ers from other departments. Aeron chairs don't.”

A while back, we highlighted six companies with enviable employee perks. Now, we’ve asked more than a dozen startups (Thrillist, Fab, Tumblr, Jetsetter, StumbleUpon, Asana, Eventbrite, Warby Parker, Rent the Runway, Coloft, ZocDoc, GetGlue, Foursquare, Birchbox, Modcloth, Evernote) what perks they offer and we’ve grouped these perks into three tiers, giving you the sampling of who offers what and why these companies think it wise to spend money on them. Startups get a bad rap for not being able to offer benefits that are comparable to “the big boys,” but a lot of today’s startups actually offer the same — or better — insurance coverage and 401(k) plans as more established companies.

What kind of perks do you have at your office? Do you have a ping pong table? Let us know in the comments.

The Standards

  • Free snacks, because we need fuel!
  • Free coffee, because how else are you going to pound away at the keyboard all day?
  • Free beer on tap, because most people know not to drink it during the day, and it’s nice to know it’s there. Because it’s on-brand, Thrillist even offers vodka, tequila and whiskey tastings (Fab, Eventbrite, Warby Parker, Rent the Runway, Foursquare).
  • Happy hour — a great time to consume the aforementioned beer. Giving the team a sanctioned way to let loose and hang out brings employees together and makes them appreciate their company and each other (Rent the Runway, Warby Parker, Jetsetter).
  • Company swag, such as coozies and tees. There’s no better way to get your company name out there than by arming your team with branded goodies.
  • Discounted gym membership or health and wellness stipend (Fab, Eventbrite, StumbleUpon, Foursquare).
  • Employee discount (ModCloth, Thrillist, Rent the Runway).
  • Casual dress code, because no one feels very comfortable in a pantsuit and pumps (Thrillist, Foursquare).
  • Fantasy football and March Madness tournaments. It’s comforting to know that no one’s going to freak out if they catch you checking your brackets (Thrillist).
  • Dog-friendly office (Thrillist, Tumblr, ModCloth).
  • Ping pong table, pool table, foosball table or basketball hoop — no, the presence of these items is not a startup myth (ZocDoc, Foursquare, Warby Parker, Jetsetter, Rent the Runway).

Wow, That’s Impressive

  • Catered lunch every day (Fab, Warby Parker, StumbleUpon) or multiple times per week (Eventbrite, GetGlue, Warby Parker, Foursquare).
  • Paid vacation day on your birthday. (Thrillist)
  • 401(k) — often with matching (Jetsetter, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, ModCloth, Rent the Runway, Thrillist, Foursquare).
  • Flexible spending accounts (Tumblr, ModCloth).
  • Awesome reward and incentive programs. Thrillist offers over-the-top breakfasts when a big deal is closed. Tumblr has “referral madness” — a teammate who refers someone who’s hired gets a stipend for a team event, such as an outing to Medieval Times.
  • Perks and corporate discounts through BetterWorks (Foursquare, Birchbox, Coloft).
  • Movie gift certificates to encourage you to explore the cinema (GetGlue).
  • A “Fun Committee” to plan company outings, such as ice skating, scavenger hunts, and DJ training (Warby Parker) and Thrivia (Thrillist’s weekly trivia night).
  • A creative welcome package. Warby Parker’s includes a founder’s favorite pretzels and a gift certificate to a Thai restaurant, since the founders lived off Thai food during their startup phase. ModCloth’s has pens, notepads, a water bottle, mug, mousepad and tote.
  • Permission to experience the brand’s offerings, whether it’s an allowance for a hotel (Jetsetter) or rental of a couture dress (Rent the Runway).
  • Free Rdio accounts (Foursquare).
  • $100 Uber car credit each month (StumbleUpon) or car service for late nights (Tumblr).
  • Monthly celebrations of birthdays, accomplishments and the company in general (Birchbox).
  • Fun team events, such as silkscreen night, game night and movie night (Tumblr).
  • Equity or stock options (Eventbrite, ModCloth).

Really? That’s Amazing

  • Excellent medical, dental and vision coverage. ZocDoc and StumbleUpon go above and beyond, offering 100% coverage to employees and dependents. (Foursquare, Fab, Thrillist, Eventbrite, Birchbox).
  • Weekly raffles for $500 in cold hard cash (Fab).
  • Unlimited sick and vacation days, because “we believe in treating everyone like an adult,” says Braley. (Thrillist, ZocDoc, ModCloth, Foursquare).
  • In addition to unlimited vacation, Evernote also offers $1,000 as an added incentive for people to go. The more refreshed they are, the more productive they are, says CEO Phil Libin.
  • A tab at the local coffee shop, so teammates don’t have to eat the cost of networking (Jetsetter).
  • In-office massages, chiropractor and acupuncture sessions every week (Eventbrite).
  • Yoga classes (Tumblr, Eventbrite, Rent the Runway, ModCloth, Asana).
  • iPad reimbursement (GetGlue).
  • Vacations as rewards — ZocDoc’s top sales performers are rewarded with a President's Club trip to a tropical location, like Puerto Rico.

Do you think these perks are silly, or do you think they really do foster a friendlier, happier and more productive environment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business
- 9 Steps for Getting Kickstarter Dollars
- Choosing the Best Social Media

More About: benefits, company culture, open forum, recruitment, startup

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Internet Defense League Fights For Freedom Across the Web [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 May 2012 12:08 PM PDT

A coalition of activists are building a network to help fight legislation and other measures that threaten Internet freedom.

Called the Internet Defense League, the organization hopes to act as a “bat signal” of sorts for protecting the Internet.

The plan is to use tools that websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit used during the online SOPA and PIPA protests into a “permanent force for defending the Internet.”

The group behind the Internet Defense League is Fight for the Future, a non-profit that bills itself as “working to expand the Internet’s power for good.” Fight for the Future helped build the tools that allowed thousands of websites to participate in the SOPA blackouts in January.

Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffany Cheng tells The Huffington Post that some of the members of the Internet Defense League include web companies, activists and Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit. Cloudlfare, a startup that lets website owners quickly and easily speed-up their pages, is also involved.

More details about the Internet Defense League will become public when the group formerly launches next month.

What do you think about a coalition of Internet freedom activists? Let us know.

More About: fight for the future, internet defense league, mashable video, online activism, PIPA, reddit, SOPA

Here’s Proof The iPad Almost Had Two Dock Connectors

Posted: 28 May 2012 11:26 AM PDT

ipad prototype

An eBay listing unearthed by Mac Rumors confirms the ancient rumor that Apple at one point considered an iPad with two dock connectors.

The iPad prototype on sale looks authentic, and is unique in several aspects. It has two full functional dock connectors, one on the bottom side and one on the left side of the device. Furthermore, it sports a special Apple diagnostic software suite called the SwitchBoard.

Unfortunately for wannabe buyers, the device shows quite a bit wear and tear, and the touch screen is not working — quite a big issue on a tablet.

Still, it could be an interesting buy for a collector or a developer/engineer interested in Apple’s secrets.

The starting price is a whopping $4,800, and the “buy it now” price is $10,000. You could buy 20 new iPads for the price, but you’re not buying this one for its 16 GB of memory anyway, are you?

More About: dock connectors, ebay, ipad, prototype

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7 Things Tim Cook Might Say at D10

Posted: 28 May 2012 11:03 AM PDT

Tim Cook on Stage

The taciturn and, so far brilliantly successful Apple CEO, Tim Cook, will sit down for a rare, public interview with All Things D's Walt Mossberg on Tuesday at the 10th Annual D conference. With the intense scrutiny every single move the Cupertino-based company is under, Cook's words will be closely monitored. Will he signal a shocking new direction for the company? Maybe he'll show off that new stylus the company just tried to patent. The possibilities are endless.

As I prepare to sit in on the event, I came up with my best and most interesting guesses for what golden nuggets will cascade from the lanky Alabama native's lips:

1) “I give you the iPhone 5″

This is the dream of not only every single Apple fanatic, but virtually the entire smartphone-using world. In his brief tenure, Cook has yet to introduce a completely new product. In fact, it has been over a year since the iPad 2 rolled out. The iPad Retina (or iPad 3) is really just an update (similar to what the iPhone 4S was to the iPhone 4). If I close my eyes, I can see Cook holding up the new 4.5-inch or 3.95-inch liquid metal or all aluminum iPhone 5 and ATD's Walt Mossberg grinning broadly at the beauty of the little device. On the other hand, Apple is not in the habit of introducing major products at non-Apple events (and just a week ahead of Apple's own World Wide Developers Conference). Why might it happen? Because this is Cook's Apple, and not the late Steve Jobs'. Cook has been doing some things his own way and this could be the moment to put his own stamp on product introductions.

2) “Under that fabric is the new Apple iTV”

An Apple TV set is too big for Cook to hold in his hand or even two arms, but the potential of him introducing an entirely new product line is a tantalizing one. All rumors point to the possibility that Apple is working on a smart HDTV, especially since the device would be a lot like a large screen iMac, but with the tiny Apple TV box built in. On the other hand, rumors sometimes lead to dead ends, and, again, Cook may not want to intro brand new hardware on someone else's stage.

3) This is Apple 2.0

Now this would be a bold and, potentially, dangerous statement for Cook to make. It would be an indication that this is the Apple you know, but with some important and welcome changes. The reality is that things are changing at Apple. A recent report details how closely he's working with stockholders and investors and that his attention to process is even changing the way products are developed. What if he uses such a phrase simply to describe the important changes he's making at the organization to steer it to even greater success?

4) We're pleased to introduce iTunes with Facebook integration.

I think we can all agree that no one is using Ping, the iTunes-only integrated social network that was supposed to turn all that music we're consuming on iTunes into a Facebook-like social experience. That has not happened. Recently, Tim Cook expressed his admiration for Facebook. Perhaps this is a signal that Apple's about to back pedal on a rare misstep, drop Ping and replace it with a fairly rich Facebook integration. It's not hard to imagine "I'm listening to Norah Jones on iTunes" on your Facebook timeline, is it?

5) This is the iPad Mini, and it's amazing

Ever since the first iPad introduction in 2010, rumors of a 7-inch sibling have persisted. Jobs did his best to quash the rumors, telling investors during an earnings call that a 7-inch screen is "too small to express the software.” “When we make decisions on 7-inch tablets it’s not about cost, it’s about the value of the product when you factor in the software,” he added. Jobs really did not want to make that smaller tablet. He made those comments, however, in 2010, before the arrival of the relatively successful Amazon Kindle Fire. That device reportedly owns 50% of the Android tablet market, and it's only been available since November of last year.

So Cook could surprise many and vindicate those who have long believed Apple was on this path. The smart money, however, says this will not happen.

6) Our fight is not with Samsung and HTC, it’s with Google
Some believe Apple is getting ready to boot Google maps from iOS 6 in favor of its own mapping technology. This would be yet another blow in the once-chummy Apple/Google relationship. However, nothing has hurt that more than Android. Steve Jobs hated Android and told his biographer Walter Isaacson so: “I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.” Instead, Apple went to war with all the companies building products on top of Android: Samsung, HTC, etc. What if Cook, who reportedly recently sat at a mediation table with Samsung’s CEO over patent disputes, finally turns the full ire of Apple on Google. The D10 stage seems like an unlikely place to do it, but then we know Mossberg will ask and Cook has to say something.

7) Thanks for having me, Walt.

Cook could end up talking about Apple in ultra-broad strokes and leave nothing on the table for reporters except scraps. This is also unlikely.

The reality is this may be the first opportunity many get to see and hear the real Tim Cook. My take on him is that he’s been far more instrumental in Apple’s success over the last decade than most of the Apple gadget-buying-public realizes. He’ll use the interview to make that clear, put his stamp more visibly on Apple and, I hope, surprise us. What do you think Cook will say when he takes the stage in southern California? Would you prefer products or the “The Story of Cook?” Tell us in the comments.

More About: apple, Facebook, ipad, itunes, tim cook

Analyst Warns of New ‘Flame’ Cyber Weapon

Posted: 28 May 2012 10:37 AM PDT

Kaspersky Lab has detected what’s it’s calling a “new advanced cyber threat” that is designed to perform cyber espionage and steal valuable information.

The malware, called Worm.Win32.Flame or “Flame” for short, exhibits a complexity and functionality that exceeds those “of all other cyber menaces known to date,” the firm wrote on a blog entry on Monday.

The malware, discovered by the Lab’s experts during a probe prompted by the International Telecommunication Union, has been “in the wild” since 2010, but has eluded all security programs because of its complexity.

Kaspersky compared Flame to Stuxnet and Duqu, other cyberweapons that appear to be designed to steal information. Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, wrote in on Kaspersky’s blog that, while those cyberweapons were part of a single chain of attacks, “the Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it’s important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country. Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case.”

The Lab is tasking a team of experts with analyzing Flame, which it believes to be 20 times larger than Stuxnet.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: cybersecurity, Duqu, flame, Kaspersky lab, malware, security, stuxnet

Google’s Privacy Woes in the UK Aren’t Over

Posted: 28 May 2012 09:41 AM PDT

Google could face further action by Britain’s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), pending a review of FCC’s findings on Google’s Street View data collection, Bloomberg reports.

While collecting data for its Street View service from 2008 to 2010, Google also collected personal data from nearby Wi-Fi networks, triggering a series of investigations into the Mountain View giant’s privacy practices.

In May 2010, Google admitted to collecting the data, claiming an engineer had created the software for data gathering without Google’s knowledge.

An inquiry by the UK information commissioner in 2010 has found that Google had violated UK data protection laws. No fine was given, but the commissioner requested an ICO audit.

Now, Bloomberg says the ICO is looking into the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's report on Google’s data gathering, after which it will “consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken."

Google claims it has not used the data in any products or services. "We have always been clear that the leaders of this project did not want or intend to use this payload data," said Google spokesman Anthony House.

FCC’s recent findings don’t paint a very pretty picture for Google. In April 2012, Google was fined $25,000 by the FCC for impeding the investigation into this matter.

More About: Google, privacy, street view

Behind the Launch: Clashing With Your Co-Founder

Posted: 28 May 2012 09:10 AM PDT

Discuss the show on Twitter: #BehindTheLaunch

In Mashable‘s new video series, Behind the Launch, we’re taking cameras behind the scenes at Vungle, an in-app video advertising startup. The team has raised $2 million from a high-profile slew of investors, including AOL Ventures, Google Ventures and Dave McClure, but no one knows who or what Vungle is, making it hard to attract top talent. The team decides it’s time for the world to hear about Vungle, so they craft their first press release and plan a website redesign. But plans go awry, and we begin to see tension between co-founders Jack and Zain.

Watch today’s episode and join the conversation on Twitter, #BehindTheLaunch.

Missed earlier episodes? Watch them here!

About Vungle

Vungle is a San Francisco-based company that purveys mobile video ads to promote apps. Just last week, Vungle announced that it had raised $2 million from big Silicon Valley and Alley names: Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, Charles Hudson’s SoftTechVC's, Maynard Webb, Scott McNealy and Tim Draper. Vungle also has offices in the UK and Pakistan.

Zain Jaffer, CEO and Co-Founder — A successful and zany entrepreneur since age 15, Zain launched his first Internet company and built-up an impressive list of clients, including Google, Mozilla Firefox, MTV and Hilary Duff, before his 18th birthday. British.

Jack Smith, Co-Founder — Self-described lunatic marketer and hacker. Started his career as a freelance web designer at age 13, founded a video startup, MediaRoots, in college. Met Zain at King’s College London University in 2009. British.

Bryant Chou, CTO — Full stack engineer and software architect with more than five years of experience developing mobile apps. He’s an enthusiastic traveler who’ll share his travel tales with you over a cold beer. American.

Marta Bulaich, Chief Yoga Officer — Marta’s first job was with the masterminds behind the TV infomercial legends Chia Pet and Clapper. After a career of working with various startups and venture capital firm, she came to Vungle to do public relations and center their chi in full lotus. American.

Ben Lindsey, Senior Software Engineer — A veteran of four Silicon Valley startups with experience in Internet advertising, large scale databases and agile programming. When not slinging code, you cam find him cooking organic food, listening to electronica, backpacking around the world or running marathons.

Colin Behr, Director of Business Development — Previously founded an Internet company, CyberPlanet Ltd, with Zain in 2004, and then moved to San Francisco to start another venture. Colin eventually went to University but dropped out after speaking with Zain about his new venture, Vungle.

Ray Myers, Software Engineer — 25-year-old Linux geek who loves robotics and has been programming since he was 7. Ray is a Shotokan karate third-degree Black Belt, but you can usually find him at his computer, trying to make robots bend to his will. American.

David Oh, Director of Business Development — By the power of the Force, David trained and honed his skills in marketing, game production and business development in the video game industry. He has traveled the galaxy crafting business deals with brands including Ubisoft, Google, HP and Humana. David enjoys mountain biking and hiking, with his sidekick Sarah, Empress of Chihuahuas.

Sarah Vungle, Resident Pooch — Sarah spends her days guarding the Vungle fortress and keeping peace amongst the engineering and business tribes. She enjoys battling the evil empire and licking the soles of her paws.

Series presented by Internet Explorer


Behind the Launch is presented by Internet Explorer. Learn how IE is building a more beautiful web through hardware accelerated graphics and modern web standards like HTML5. Get IE9 today or download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features the new IE10 to see where we're headed.

More About: Behind the Launch Series, features, mashable, mashable video, press releases, Startups

Girl Posts Pics of Money on Facebook and Attracts Robbers [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 May 2012 08:45 AM PDT

If you didn’t realize this already, take note: Bragging about your big pile of cash on Facebook isn’t a great idea.

A 17-year-old Australian girl learned this lesson the hard way last Thursday when she posted a picture of some money on Facebook. The girl was helping her grandmother count the loot and couldn’t help sharing that information with her online friends.

The status update apparently prompted two armed masked would-be robbers to try to visit the girl’s house, but, because of some faulty information, hit her mother’s house instead and made off with a smaller pile of cash. No one was injured.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Artist in Doing Nothing

More About: crime, Facebook, videos

Veteran Central: A Career-Oriented Social Network for Vets

Posted: 28 May 2012 08:33 AM PDT

After spending nine years on tour with the Navy, Michael Barrett found that adjusting to civilian life — especially finding a stable and well-paying job — was a tough and arduous process.

“It’s a difficult transition, because we don’t have a profession to speak of,” Barrett explains. “We’re handicapped in that regard, and we’re less marketable in the work world.”

While entrepreneur Jonathon Lunardi was researching veteran suicide with his brother-in-law, Paul McDonald, he became familiar with Barrett’s sentiments and saw a need to help veterans bridge the gap and become successful in the civilian world. Together, Lunardi and McDonald started Veteran Central, a job resource and development network exclusively for veterans. Lunardi, now the company’s CEO, told Mashable that the startup focuses on job placement and tools for young, blue-collar veterans.

“The older generation has had time to build their networks and to reintegrate, but the younger veterans come home and they don’t have that network,” Lunardi says. “They’re plopped down somewhere in the United States, and they’re trying to connect to the local community.

Lunardi and Barrett, on board as the company’s director of sales, spoke to Mashable about scaling their startup and encouraging companies to consider a veteran to fill their open job positions.

How It Works

Veteran Central’s mission is twofold. Lunardi and McDonald work on building the young startup’s professional and psychological resources for veterans and supporters, while Barrett focuses on providing important, relatable content for veterans to respond to.

“I had a completely different image of what it was going to be like when I got out of the military while I was still serving, as do most guys still serving on active duty,” Barrett explains. Back on American soil, “I realized that I was [experiencing] the same difficulties that a lot of my peers were.”

Veterans who join Veteran Central (which has 1,200 registered users) gain access to Barrett’s anecdotal podcasts and outreach towards the greater military community — and those so inclined can submit their own original content. While a large portion of the material on Veteran Central focuses on job-seeking and navigating the professional world, there is also material about coping with the psychological impact of war and reintegrating into daily life with friends, family and significant others. But Lunardi says that above all, veterans come to the website to look for employment.

“We have site greeters on the website who talk to all of the people who come on the site, and we’ve been told by them that the number one topic they are asked about is jobs,” Lunardi explains.

And those jobs are available through the company’s peer-reviewed and vetted job board. Job postings are free and open to all businesses looking to employ veterans, and Lunardi says that each job opening is carefully researched by a team of volunteers. When a job is deemed prime for veteran employment, it’s made available to the greater Veteran Central network. These jobs also have a distinctly blue-collar feel — work in industries such as construction and trucking — that would be conducive to the skill-set of a young veteran without a college degree. Lunardi says that while the company does not have exact numbers on the amount of listed companies that actually hire a veteran into their workforce, they are planning to build out a feedback mechanism.

“We want to email everyone who has posted a job and ask them if they’ve found a good candidate through our job board,” Lunardi says.

Plan of Action

In the future, Veteran Central is eying to create a two-way culture for integrating veterans back into the American workforce. Lunardi says that he wants to generate content — by businesses, for businesses — that’s focused on the best practices for hiring and managing a veteran. There are also plans for a mobile site to enable veterans to access jobs on the go. And far down the road, Lunardi says he wants to expand Veteran Central to include healthcare and family resources, thus offering a more comprehensive toolset for veterans.

“Veterans struggle with finding out who to trust,” Lunardi says. “We want to be a beacon of light in the veteran community, and you’re going to find content and resources from people that care about veterans.”

To expand the website’s growing network and increase its impact, Veteran Central is now working with the Military Channel, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other veteran-oriented companies.

“We want to really prove to ourselves and the veteran community that this is a valuable tool to use, and they should tell others about it,” Lunardi says.

But in the end, it’s all about speaking up for those who have dedicated their lives to serving in the military. And, Barrett says, every little bit counts.

“We ask that for Memorial Day that everyone does something as insignificant as go onto the website, or post a job on our job board,” Barrett says. “We want to help make sure that this is not a problem any more.”

Social Media Job Listings

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

More About: features, job search, job search series, mashable, memorial day, trending, veterans

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10 Insanely Clickable Banner Ads

Posted: 28 May 2012 07:21 AM PDT

It’s no secret that at one in 1,000, the average click-through rate for banner ad is rather pitiful. Think of other things with similar probabilities. For instance, over the course of your life, you have a one in 3,000 chance of getting struck by lightning.

Despite the challenging odds, a few intrepid ad executives still see banners as promising terrain. The fact that display ads are often seen as a backwater controlled by direct-response marketers doesn’t daunt such modern day Mad Men, who think they can redefine the medium and, yes, even get readers to click.

The 10 examples below show that banners need not be boring.

1. Ikea

To make the case that you can fit a lot of Ikea products in your house or apartment, the Swedish furniture giant ran a banner in April that featured 2,800 items.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, apple, banner ads, IKEA

Can These Video Games Help You Make Better Life Choices?

Posted: 28 May 2012 07:04 AM PDT

The World at Work is powered by GE. This new series highlights the people, projects and startups that are driving innovation and making the world a better place.

Name: WILL Interactive

Big Idea: WILL Interactive develops Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulations (VEILS), which are interactive movies that force users to make serious decisions as a learning experience.

Why It’s Working: With more than 70 games on topics including the military, financial decision-making and youth education, WILL Interactive has developed a new form of educational and therapeutic media.

Walk in the shoes of a soldier on the battlefield or learn how to avoid foreclosure in a precarious housing market — if you make a mistake, simply start the game over.

WILL Interactive has found a way to encourage game players to solve real-world problems using interactive role-playing games.

WILL has created more than 70 “serious games.” That term, the site explains, “means games that are designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Higher end serious games are designed to inherently engage their target audience through the use of interactive gaming attributes, which, in turn, ultimately educates them on how to solve a specific problem, task or objective.”

The company patented its signature medium, Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulation (VEILS), in 1998. VEILS enables players to take on the identities of characters in a movie, and each of the characters’ actions result in a different reaction and outcome for the player. This idea evolved into serious games for social good.

One of these games is Ways Home, an interactive game developed in cooperation with Fannie Mae that guides users through various scenarios and teaches them how to avoid foreclosure. Another is Leading the Way, developed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — the game helps returning soldiers prepare to navigate the worst-case scenarios of re-entering civilian working life.

The company’s website states that WILL is the only entity that “holds the patent for the interactive behavior modification process that has been shown in independent studies to improve individual’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.”

The company recently launched the WILL Interactive Challenge, asking players to solve a real-world problem using the game’s interactive technology. In the competition, which began on December 14, 2011 and ended April 20, 2012, contestants were asked to create a proposal detailing a virtual experience that could impact the real world in a positive way. The winner will be announced on June 6 and will be awarded $500,000 to develop the idea using WILL’s technology. If the idea is commercialized, the winner will receive royalties and co-branding recognition on the simulation.

What real-world problem would you like to see solved using serious games? Tell us in the comments.

Series presented by GE

The World at Work is powered by GE. GE Works focuses on the people who make the things that move, power, build and help to cure the world.

More About: features, Gaming, mashable, Social Good, WILL interactive, World at Work

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Nokia to Launch Batman-Themed Lumia 900

Posted: 28 May 2012 06:50 AM PDT

nokia lumia 900 batman

The Dark Knight does not care about iPhones or Androids — he’s all about Windows Phone 7, wrapped into a black polycarbonate shell of a Lumia 900.

That, at least, is what Nokia wants us to believe as it prepares a Batman-themed Lumia 900, announced via Twitter.

The device, Pocket-lint learns, will be “extremely limited,” and will come only in black, with a laser-etched Batman logo on the back. It’s safe to assume that, functionality-wise, it will be exactly the same as the standard Lumia 900.

The packaging of the device might be different from the standard Lumia 900, though. Last year, Nokia produced a limited amount of promo Batman-themed Lumia 800s, which came in a special black box with a Batman logo.

The price and exact date of availability are not yet known, but the device should hit the UK, Germany, France and several other European markets “in the coming weeks.” It will be a nice addition to the enormous hype for the premiere of the next installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, The Dark Knight Rises, which hits theaters July 20, 2012.

How do you like the idea of a Batman-themed Lumia 900? Would you buy such a device? Share your opinions in the comments.

More About: batman, lumia 900, Nokia

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Zuckerberg, Chan Make Bizarre Cameo in Chinese Documentary [VIDEO]

Posted: 28 May 2012 05:35 AM PDT

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his bride, Priscilla Chan, have made a bizarre, odds-beating cameo in a Chinese documentary that’s become a viral sensation in that country.

The doc, from China Central Television, shows the two cavorting in Shanghai in March, weeks before their recent wedding. The pair visited the country that month for a personal trip. According to CNet, the images of Zuck and Chan have since gone viral in China on Sina Weibo, a popular social media site.

The 40-second clip above shows the two apparently caught at random during the shooting of the doc — an unlikely event considering Shanghai’s population of 13 million.

More About: Facebook, mark zuckerberg, priscilla chan, viral videos

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