Thursday, 3 May 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Is Too Much Tech Bad for the Modern Teenager? [INFOGRAPHIC]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Is Too Much Tech Bad for the Modern Teenager? [INFOGRAPHIC]”

Is Too Much Tech Bad for the Modern Teenager? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 03 May 2012 04:37 AM PDT

Is tech saturation good or bad for the modern teenager?

Arguments can be made either way, but there’s no debating that today’s teens are more wired than ever. And digital permeates the lives of young people in general, too.

People aged 18-34 have an average of 319 online connections, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. That’s compared to an average of 198 connections for the 35-46 group, and the numbers continue to decrease from there.

Pew also recently reported that 63% of teenagers text message with friends on a daily basis, compared to 39% who speak on the phone daily and just 35% who interact face-to-face outside of school. Other research has found that text-happy teens send more than 100 messages per day.

But the digital revolution comes with drawbacks. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found a correlation between media consumption and poor academic performance. The study found that 21% of young people between the ages of eight and 18 consume at least 16 hours of media per day, while 17% consume less than three hours per day. 47% of the heavy users reported typically earning grades of C or below in school, compared to just 23% of the light users. Twice as many heavy users as light users reported getting in trouble frequently.

The Internet education portal combined the Kaiser and Pew findings with research from Common Sense Media and other organizations to put together an infographic showing how technology is affecting young people. Some of the findings are a couple years old, but the infographic does provide interesting food for thought. Check it out below for a fuller picture.

Do you think total tech immersion does more to help or hurt teenagers? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, Damircudic

More About: android, infographics, iphone, smartphones, tablets, Tech

Today’s Top Stories: Microsoft’s New Xbox Offer, LG Optimus L7 Comes to Europe

Posted: 03 May 2012 02:52 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.

Microsoft to Offer a $99 Xbox Package With a Monthly Subscription Fee

Microsoft could launch a package containing a 4GB Xbox console and a Kinect sensor for $99 and a $15, two-year monthly subscription, The Verge reports. The subscription will provide users with access to the Xbox Live Gold service, and possibly some additional streaming content, sources say.

LG Optimus L7 Now Available in Europe and Asia

LG’s stylish Android 4.0 smartphone, the Optimus L7, is now available in major European and Asian markets. The device sports a 1GHz CPU, a 5-megapixel camera and has a 4.3-inch, 480 x 800 resolution screen.

Liquidmetal Inventor: Apple Will Use Our Alloy in a Breakthrough Product

Atakan Peker, one of the inventors of Liquidmetal, claims Apple will use the strong, durable and stylish metal alloy in a “breakthrough product.” It won’t happen very soon, though.

“I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $300 million to $500 million — and three to five years — to mature the technology before it can used in large scale,” Dr. Peker told Business Insider.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: features, first to know series, LG Optimus L7, Liquidmetal, mashable, microsoft, xbox

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Meet Signal, the Instagram of Citizen Journalism

Posted: 03 May 2012 01:02 AM PDT

What do you get when you combine a photo-sharing mobile platform like Instagram with more geo-location awareness and a Reddit-style voting system for stories breaking all over the world?

Answer: Signal, the app citizen journalism may well have been been waiting for.

The Signal app is currently in private beta launch, and will hit app stores for the iPhone in the next few months. You can sign up to test the app here.

Signal is the brainchild of Lebanese entrepreneur Mark Malkoun, who says it will address the fundamental limitations of sharing stories on social media.

“Initially, Twitter and Facebook were designed to get news from people or brands or celebrities,” Malkoun told Mashable. “Now, if something is happening say three miles away from you, say something really important, Twitter won’t systematically inform you unless you follow someone who happens to be there.”

Facebook has since expanded to allow people to subscribe to others, and anyone could still search for news on Twitter via hashtags. Still, actual news can become muddied in other posts that have nothing to do with these news stories, Malkoun said. And needing to follow or subscribe to people first still gives weight to “power users.”

But what if you just happen to be at the right place at the right time when it comes to breaking news?

With Signal, the emphasis is on quick and easy photojournalism. Users capture media that they then upload to the app with a geo-tagged location and a short caption of around 60 characters. And if multiple people happen to be covering the same story, an algorithm for the app pushes the photos together, so the content becomes classified under the same story.

Signal’s strategy hinges on an idea that has already turned Instagram into one of the hottest digital platforms — oneworth $1 billion to Facebook. As Instagram’s 50 million users can attest, there’s a strong desire to share visual, mobile stories with the world.

When users open the app, they can view news photos according to their location, most recent upload or what others have voted top news. You can choose to see the top stories by country, continent or the world as a whole.

Signal iPhone Screenshots

“The idea is that you find out what is happening in a very simple way, and more importantly, a democratic way,” Malkoun said. “We chose [the name] Signal because it’s based on the territory, and the signal has a frequency. The more votes you collect, the bigger the verification.”

But will people actually vote for newsworthy photos, or will it simply become a popularity contest? After all, the 25 most popular users on Instagram are already famous in real life.

The Signal team acknowledges this concern, but the goal of the app is to steer clear of it, Malkoun said. The point is for the stories behind the photos — not necessarily the people taking them — to have influence.

To make sure that people aren’t posting old stories or promoting personal agendas, every photo must be geo-tagged within the past 72 hours. “Usually, the power of a story diminishes the further you are from it geographically,” Malkoun said. “For example, if you live in the United States and there’s a car accident in Germany, you might not be interested. But take the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. If you were in Japan [at the time], anything might be interesting.”

The Signal app is coming out of Lebanon, and Malkoun acknowledges the Arab Spring helped him consider what a citizen journalism app needed.

“Everything we took in developing Signal, we took from reality…Of course, the whole environment here was inspired by the Arab Spring, no matter what,” he said. .”When we started, the whole news was about Gaddafi and Syria.”

SEE ALSO: How Citizen Journalism Is Reshaping Media and Democracy

Although the app only supports photos for now, Malkoun and the Signal team plan to add a video component in the future.

The app’s emphasis on photos should help break down language barriers. Still, heavily-signaled stories — those that users like or vote for the most — will be translated so that audiences can have a better understanding of on-the-ground events across the world.

The kind of news people will document and share with the app is not so much as important as the fact that they will have a chance to get their stories out, and determine what’s important themselves, Malkoun said.

“It could range from breaking news to social news, but most importantly…A lot of times, there are a lot of subjects that are not talked about,” he said. “As soon as one reporter talks about it, that’s when it becomes news. [But] this person just spoke about it for one reason or another. Here, every story that gets in the system will have an equal chance.”

Do you think Signal will revolutionize citizen journalism? Will stories around the world really have an equal chance to come to light? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Photos courtesy of the Signal Team

More About: apps, Arab Spring, citizen journalism, instagram, reddit

For Major Brands, BlackBerry Is Still the ‘Wait and See’ Platform

Posted: 02 May 2012 08:21 PM PDT


ORLANDO — For Research In Motion, this week has been all about BlackBerry 10, the new operating system for its phones that’s set to debut to customers in the fall. Until BB10′s big debut, though, RIM faces an uphill battle in app support from major brands, say mobile-developer companies.

That’s because even though RIM is understandably enthusiastic about BlackBerry 10 — and it even may have some technical advantages over competitors — for now the company is still living in a BlackBerry 7 universe. And that universe doesn’t see a lot of demand from big names — reps from software-development companies Appcelerator, bitHeads and Xtreme Labs all say demand for BlackBerry apps from their customers is slim to none.

While that might appear to contradict the good-sounding numbers RIM posted about the recent growth in BlackBerry App World, those numbers don’t reveal the quality of apps, or who’s making them. The BlackBerry platform still doesn’t have native apps for Skype, Netflix, Hulu, Readability, CNN (just launchers), Instagram or even Google+.

“When it comes to a platform that may be struggling, the last thing they want to do is blow a whole bunch of money into it,” says Xtreme Labs’ Mike Stern on developers creating apps for BlackBerry. “They’re waiting for demand to make it a necessary expense versus exploratory.”

SEE ALSO: 5 Things That Are Actually Pretty Cool About BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 7 is a dying platform, so it’s not surprising big companies aren’t bothering to invest the money to create apps. However, it also means those same companies aren’t interested in cultivating good will with RIM or its existing base of 77 million customers. On top of that, many apps from major brands, like eBay, only get made because RIM pays for it, says Chris Forrester of bitHeads, which developed the app.

RIM has high hopes that BlackBerry 10 will make such “checkbook evangelism” unnecessary. The new OS has a lot of promise, but Stern suspects it won’t be a pancea for RIM’s absentee-app issue.

“If you’re a brand owner, what are you going to do? It’s not even a question of whether RIM will pay you to do it. It’s a question of whether you have the resources and fortitude to support another implementation of your brand on a new platform.”

That leaves many major brands adopoting a “wait and see” approach to whether or not they’ll develop a BlackBerry app. The question then becomes, how much waiting can RIM endure?

What do you think RIM should do to get more app-development interest from major brands? Share your suggestions in the comments.

BONUS: The First Round of BlackBerry 10 Apps


The trailer for Nova 3 just went up, and is getting widespread attention. Gameloft said it was committed to bringing the game to BlackBerry 10, along with Shark Dash.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: blackberry, BlackBerry 10, research in motion, RIM

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How Much Is Apple Worth? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 02 May 2012 08:19 PM PDT

Tech giant Apple is worth a lot of cash.

In addition to being the largest publicly traded company on the U.S. stock market, its 2011 sales were worth $128 billion — more than 160 different nations’ gross domestic products.

This Best Computer Science Degrees infographic compares Apple’s massive reach to things around it in the world.

For example, you could lay all of the 56.4 million iPads that are projected to sell in 2012 back and forth between the east and west coast and still have plenty left over. Meanwhile, nearly as many iOS devices were sold in the U.S. in 2008 as cars — 200 million compared with 213 million.

Take a look at the inforgraphic and let us know if you think Apple will continue to expand.

SEE ALSO: Apple Is Worth More than All the Tea in China; What Else Does It Beat?

Just how big is Apple?

BONUS: 7 Things Worth Less Than Apple

1. 4,000 Trips to the Moon

It costs a mere $100 million to travel to the moon in a $1.7 billion space shuttle (of which Apple could afford 235). With 60,400 full-time Apple employees, can you say "company picnic in outer space?"

Image courtesy of Marcin Wichary.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, infographics, stocks

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NYC Bans Student-Teacher Interaction on Social Media [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 May 2012 08:07 PM PDT

Should teachers in the digital age be allowed to Facebook friend and Twitter follow their students? The New York Department of Education (NYC DOE) says no.

The city’s first social media policy released earlier this week draws a clear line between city employees’ personal and professional accounts. NYC DOE Teachers cannot use social media accounts unaffiliated to the school on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Flickr to contact students regardless of the nature of the message.

“The DOE strives to create professional social media environments that mirror the academically supportive environments of our schools,” the guidelines states.

Professional accounts for a class may be used, if pre-approved by the school. Communication with DOE students on the Internet is now limited to school-based platforms — social networks and blogs — for instructional, educational or extra-curricular projects.

SEE ALSO: 16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest [INFOGRAPHIC]

The new policy focuses on maintaining the safety of students and the transparency of teachers’ work. Text messages and social media connections were noted in many cases of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, according to a New York Times report.

From January to November in 2011, 69 cases of inappropriate behavior between teachers and students investigated by the NYC DOE involved Facebook.

Every year, parents will be notified about the academic social media accounts used for classes or after-school programs. These guidelines also place limitations of personal email accounts. Academic social media accounts will only be linked to official DOE emails.

These social media guidelines are subject to change every three months, according to the official NYC DOE website. Since new social networks and updates crop up often, the city is prepared to revise their guidelines when necessary.

Do you think these new digital rules for prohibiting teachers from contacting their students online are beneficial or overbearing? Sounds off in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Barbara.K .

More About: Facebook, Social Media, Twitter, Video

How One Startup Is Reinventing the Mail

Posted: 02 May 2012 08:00 PM PDT

Jesse Draper is creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she’s become a spokesperson for startups and helped pioneer the way of new media content distribution. Formerly a Nickelodeon star, Draper is now CEO of Valley Girl‚Ñ¢ where she oversees the show and runs technology blog

Talk about a secret startup! James Hirschfeld and sister Alexa started Paperless Post while James was still in college at Harvard. They worked on their business in secret, pushing the definition of “stealth mode” to new heights: James designed their product in his dorm room without even telling his roommate! They didn’t want to tell a soul until they were ready to launch.

Paperless Post, the formal online invitation service, is taking the invite business by storm. On this episode of The Valley Girl Show, James Hirschfeld shares a bit about the business with us.

We talk about how they came up with their pricing model, why they decided to charge for their service, despite advice not to, and we reveal came up with the “pop up” envelope idea.

We also come up with yet another way of making postal mail paperless.

More Video from The Valley Girl Show

More About: paperless post, valley girl, Video

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Pinstagram! How Two Friends Merged Pinterest and Instagram in Two Days

Posted: 02 May 2012 07:43 PM PDT

What would happen if two of the digital world’s hottest startups, Pinterest and Instagram, were mashed into one?

Two friends decided to find out, in a weekend coding adventure that began as a joke.

Pek Pongpaet and Brandon Leonardo were discussing how many startups are pitched to VC firms with phrases such as “We’re an X for Y, like an AirBnB for dogs,” Pongpaet told Mashable.

The duo realized a “Pinterest for Instagram” would be the most extreme example, and thus Pinstagram was born.

“Over the weekend I started hacking away at it,” Pek says. “People seem to like what we came up with.”

After connecting your Instagram account, you view your photo stream in the waterfall layout Pinterest is known for, and has since spread across the web. You can like and comment on photos, as in the Instagram app. At the same time, you can pin photos to your Pinterest pinboards.

For Pek, Pinstagram fills a big void in the Instagram ecosystem — an easy way to browse your photos on a desktop browser.

“This is the perfect interface for Instagram for me,” Pek says, noting he uses Instagram more through Pinstagram than ever before. “A lot of people are still browsing the web on desktops.”

In addition to desktop browsing, Pinstagram improves Instagram’s search feature, adding a search tab in the top left corner.

Now in its second week, the site still has some glitches — the “Sign in with Instagram” button didn’t work the first few times we tried logging in. Still, don’t expect this to be the last you see from Pinstagram. Pek can see iPad and desktop apps coming in the future.

This isn’t the first mashup of Pinterest and Instagram we’ve seen. Pingram, from Italian web developer Gennaro Varriale, was also created in one weekend in March. But Pinstagram seems to display larger pictures in some browsers, and new pictures arrive with a pleasant animation (as opposed to Pingram’s static look).

Will this mashup see the success of its inspirations, Instagram and Pinterest? Which do you like better, Pinstagram or Pingram? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: 13 Products You Can Make From Your Instagram Snapshots

1. Bangles

This Instagram'd bangle on Etsy is made by BuyMyCrap.

"We fell in love with the Instagram process and how it allows you to create pieces representative of yesteryear with different tones, filters and effects," says Lainey Bard, who's affectionately known by her customers as Mrs. Crap. "Since we create wearable works of art, we decided to include Instagram inspired pieces in our shop."

The Craps access the Instagram API via iPod to pull photos. Bangles are sold for $40.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: instagram, pinterest, Startups

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What Walter Isaacson Thinks of Social Media and Politics

Posted: 02 May 2012 07:25 PM PDT

Walter Isaacson has attended many White House Correspondents’ dinners as a journalist, media mogul, and historian. This is thanks to a career that’s included serving as editor of Time Magazine, chairman and CEO of CNN, president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, and historical biographer. This, however, was his first year to attend as a tech celeb, a position he added to his roster because of Steve Jobs — his definitive biography of the visionary Apple founder.

SEE ALSO: Tech Celebs Abound at the White House Correspondents' Dinner [PICS]

Isaacson’s best-selling book gave the world a window into the insights, motivations, and aspirations of the tech titan, who died last year. It also led him to form a few opinions of his own on the state of tech, social media, and how they tie into politics. “I do think social media will be the new way people form their opinions among friends…this is a major transformation that will affect politics,” he said.

In what way exactly? Isaacson added that he thinks social connections and interactions among voters will impact how they vote come November.

More About: contributor, features, Politics, Social Media, Walter Isaacson

Hungry? Appetude Finds Delish Dishes Near You

Posted: 02 May 2012 07:00 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: Appetude

Quick Pitch: Find and rate dishes at restaurants nearby, and order from the entire menu on the site.

Genius Idea: Rather than reading random tips on other review sites for restaurants, Appetude is strictly focused to rating the dishes to find the best spot to dine — or order from — near you.

“Where’s the best food around here?” That is the question Appetude wants to answer by creating a social platform revolving around dishes, restaurants, and friends, said co-founder George Fatakhov. He’s working on the startup with co-founders Mark Alayev and Mike Iskhakov.

Appetude is a social network that lets users discover great dishes at local restaurants and place orders from the site. Launched in January, Appetude currently has more than 200 dish comments and reviews on the site and its beta app, which is available for free in the app store. Even if a dish hasn’t been reviewed yet, it will still appear on the site — “We have only full menus on the site, not random dish reviews,” Fatakhov writes. All a restaurant has to do to be featured on the site is to provide them a menu, which they digitize.

“People love to have recommendations from their friends,” he said. “That’s why we broke down the menu by dish, so they could comment.”

And, yes, you can share your reviews and images of particular dishes with other users. Soon, Appetude users will be able to share reviews on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Fatakhov says the commenting and review system is in its early stages of development, but a flagging system to weed out bogus reviews will be implemented soon.

Like a dish, but don’t feel like writing a review? Just click Appetude’s version of the Facebook “like” button — the “yums” button. From the same page where you click “yums” and write “delicious” reviews, you can also place orders.

Based in New York City, Appetude is currently available in limited areas thus far (Chelsea and surrounding areas of Manhattan). Soon, he says, once the app is out of beta, it will launch throughout the entire city later this year. Eventually they hope to take the app to major cities throughout the U.S.

What do you think about Appetude? Would you use it? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, vfoto

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: apps, bizspark, Food, peer reviews

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What Is an IPO? [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 May 2012 06:39 PM PDT

The marketplace has seen some impressive initial public offerings (IPOs) come out of the tech world in recent years — LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga to name a few, with Facebook waiting in the wings.

But what does “going public” actually entail? What’s at stake for these companies? How much does it cost? What are the risks, and what sort of paperwork is required?

SEE ALSO: 10 Biggest Internet IPOs of the Last 10 Years

If you’re confused by all the business lingo, check out the video above, created by our friend Jeremiah Warren. It breaks the average IPO down to its nuts and blots.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below and our business writers will answer post haste.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, sitox

More About: Business, features, ipo, Video

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Applicants Wanted For Goldman Sachs Social Media Manager

Posted: 02 May 2012 06:24 PM PDT

Think you’ve got the social media brand strategy skills to turn a company once called “the Death Star of capitalism” into social media gold? If you said, “yes” you’re in luck — Goldman Sachs is hiring for a “social media community manager” to build its brand reputation on the interwebs.

According to, the global financial services firm is looking for a candidate based out of New York. The applicant must have 2-3 years experience managing social media brands. This you’ve got what it takes? Check out the job description here:


Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is looking for a Community Manager/Social Media Strategist to serve as the administrator for Goldman Sachs social media communities. In addition to the management of these communities, this person would play a strategic role as initial point of contact for our relationships with representatives of the various social platforms. The Community Manager/ Social Media Strategist will be responsible for ensuring active and engaged communities around a defined topic or topics by managing long-lead editorial calendars, monitoring online conversations and participating in those conversations to build brand visibility and thought leadership. The goal is to establish a positive online presence for Goldman Sachs as well as to integrate our messaging into the online community in a compelling and valuable way for participants. In this role, the Community Manager/ Social Media Strategist will be part of our Brand Management Group.

Former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in March explaining why he could no longer work for the company. The piece drew attention to what he viewed as corrupt practices, hinging on the company’s stereotype as the “Death star of capitalism.” The piece also drew a lot of flack — particularly for Smith’s naivety about the company’s operations — and prompted a number of parodies.

What do you think Goldman Sachs could do to improve its reputation? Would you want to work for the company? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

More About: employment, goldman sachs, Social Media

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Future iPhone May Let You Gift Tunes by Tapping Devices [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 May 2012 06:03 PM PDT

A patent filed by Apple suggests the company may start offering the ability to gift songs to friends via a future iPhone, using Near Field Communication (NFC). Published by the US Patent & Trademark Office on April 26, the patent talks specially about transferring digital media content from one user’s account to another.

NFC — a feature not current available on any iDevice — would allow you to make the transfer by simply tapping devices together. For sharing gifts with people you’re not standing next to, purchases could also be transferred via email.

Gifts could be sent along with a personal voice message, as well as an image. So you could send a friend or loved one a singing telegram along with a copy of your favorite song. The sender would only be charged for a song once the receiver decides to download it.

If your account doesn’t have enough cash to cover the transaction, those receiving the gift will also be given the option to cover the balance of the purchase and download it anyway. While that may be awkward for actual gift giving, it could come in handy when a friend loves a song you’re playing at a party and wants to to tap their phone against yours to purchase the track for themselves.

In addition to sending individual tracks, the patent suggests that Apple will allow users you share playlists with others -– like a modern day version of the mix tape — for a yet-to-be-determined fee.

Which songs would you want to gift? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[via Patently Apple]

More About: apple, itunes, patent

Bucket List Baby’s Fight Against Fatal Illness Inspires Millions Online

Posted: 02 May 2012 05:23 PM PDT

Avery Lynn Canahuati

Avery Canahuati was six months old when she died on Monday from a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). For months, her parents Mike and Laura Canahuati chronicled her life on a blog that is still inspiring millions of people worldwide.

When she was born on Nov. 11, 2011, doctors predicted she would not live past age 2. Instead of watching her die, her parents vowed she would live every day to the fullest.

Avery’s parents created a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account to keep track of Avery’s health and daily accomplishments. Some firsts she recently had include waking up smiling, having a bad hair day, eating a cupcake, meeting a fan, riding in an ambulance and pulling off a prank.

Her father Mike updated the blog on Wednesday and wrote, “Please remember, just because Avery is no longer here doesn’t mean we can’t continue to learn from her.”

The purpose of Avery’s blog and social media accounts was twofold. One — the blog updated friends and family on her condition. Two — the Canahuati family also wanted to raise awareness about the little-known disease (89% of visitors to Avery’s blog never heard of SMA prior to their online visit). They document her story online to educate the world.

It worked. Her blog jumped from 480,000 views on Saturday, April 27, to 4.3 million on Wednesday, six days later. “Avery’s Bucket List” Facebook page, started on April 6, has received more than 153,300 Likes to date.

Next to family photos and bucket list accomplishments on the blog, there are links to donate to SMA research funds and important SMA information. At the end of every blog post, readers are urged to share her story on Twitter and Facebook, so “there will one day be a cure for children who already have SMA.”

Avery’s posts also reminded parents or those wanting children to get tested for the SMA gene. The illness is genetically passed down to infants and toddlers. It affects 10,000 to 25,000 U.S. children and adults, according to the SMA Foundation figures. One in 50 people carry the SMA gene.

“If we can help save a few of my future friends and their mommy, daddy, and loved ones from SMA, then my life, while cut short in time, will be beyond fulfilling in stature,” the blog reads, as in Avery’s voice.

Avery’s parents continue to urge people to share their daughter’s story. They are hoping to cross off one more thing on Avery’s bucket list — raising $1 million for the Dr. Kaspar’s SNA Gene Therapy program to potentially find a cure for spinal muscular atrophy.

Has reading about Avery Canahuati’s lifelong fight to find a cure for SMA and bucket list accomplishments inspired you?

Image courtesy of “Avery’s Bucket List” Facebook page.

More About: blog, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter

Twitter Mourns Junior Seau, Questions Pro Football

Posted: 02 May 2012 04:33 PM PDT

1. @DeionSanders

NFL legend Deion Sanders expressed disbelief when he first heard the news.

Click here to view this gallery.

Pro football legend Junior Seau was found dead at Southern California home on Wednesday. His girlfriend found him unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to reports. He was 43 years old.

Seau was a six-time NFL All Pro and made 12-straight Pro Bowls. He led his hometown San Diego Chargers to a Super Bowl appearance in 1995, and starred in college at the University of Southern California. His death is being investigated as a possible suicide, according to reports.

Immediately after news of Seau’s death broke, tributes, sadness, anger and frustration poured out on Twitter. Current players marked his greatness. Former players shared memories. Fans offered condolences. Reporters shared photos, videos and news accounts.

And many tweeters debated the role a career of high-impact collisions and resulting potential head trauma may have played in Seau’s death, especially if he did indeed take his own life. Click through the gallery above to see a sample of the conversation.

Perhaps the most touching tribute of all came from Eric Olsen, an offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints. Olsen posted a series of tweets recounting a memory of how Seau inspired him to pursue a football career when he was a high school freshman. The stream was linked by many fans and reporters, and is embedded below:

Did you follow reaction to Junior Seau’s death on Twitter? Who and which reactions struck you most? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy San Diego Chargers.

More About: sports, Twitter

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20 Lunchtime Photos From the Mashable Community

Posted: 02 May 2012 04:13 PM PDT

For many, lunch is a daily opportunity to break away from one’s work routine. This week’s Mashable Photo Challenge asked you to send us a photo that represented your lunch break.

This challenge inspired the most diverse collection of photos we’ve seen so far. We saw photos ranging from desk-side Tupperware to lunchtime excursions. You gave us a glimpse of spectacular noontime locations from California beaches to Paris cafés.

Have a look through these photos from Mashable readers around the world. And be sure to participate in this week’s upcoming challenge: nostalgia.

Appareil Phonatoire

"Pause repas devant l'ordi (Lunch break in front of my computer)."

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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Facebook Adds Action Links to Timeline Apps

Posted: 02 May 2012 03:55 PM PDT

Facebook Action Links - 600

Facebook announced Wednesday it has added yet another way for friends to interact with your Timeline: “action links.”

Instead of just Liking a post about a recipe or product, say, you can now hit “Save this Recipe” or “Fave this Product” in Open Graph apps.

When a friend checks in on Foursquare and the checkin is added to their Timeline, you can remind yourself to visit that location by hitting “Save this Place.”

SEE ALSO: Put Your Live Event on Facebook, Get Paid with Evinar

“These customizable links provide another way for people to do something within your app when your Open Graph stories appear in news feed, timeline or ticker,” Facebook’s Alex Wyler wrote on the company’s developer blog.

Wyler noted that these app links tie one action to another — and developers can choose what they want that action to be. Facebook also added a page to walk developers through how to add action links to apps.

Will adding action links encourage more interaction on Timeline pages? What do you think the advantages are of adding this feature to Open Graph apps on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: 10 Innovative Uses of Facebook Timeline for Brands

1. Fanta

The soda company's branded Facebook Timeline page took advantage of the Leap Year by pretending that the extra day "created a rip in the Fanta space-time continuum and sucked four of our characters: Gigi, Lola, Floyd and Tristan out of the Cover Photo and into the past."

Fans of Fanta's Page must engage in its "Lost in Time" game, which requires navigating through the Fanta Timeline, to bring the characters back to the future.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, Social Media

Ashton Kutcher Appears in Brown Face for Pop Chips; Internet Calls Racism

Posted: 02 May 2012 03:28 PM PDT

Internet users are worked up over Ashton Kutcher‘s racial depiction in a Pop Chips campaign launched Wednesday.

The actor, who is also the brand’s “president of pop culture,” portrays four caricatures on a dating show, including an Indian man named Raj, in which Kutcher appears with darkened skin.

The rap group Das Racist called Kutcher out on Twitter over the videos. “Hey @aplusk, what’s with the racist brownface video,” the account tweeted.

So far the only tweet from Kutcher today is a promo asking “Looking for love?” with a link to the video (below).

Other folks have turned to Twitter to express how little love they have for the campaign:

In a beautifully articulated blog post, entrepreneur and writer Anil Dash recommends you don’t watch the video.

“Don’t watch it; It’s a hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being that he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice. That’s it, there’s seriously no other gag…

“I think we can attack the process by which these broken, racist, exploitative parts of our culture are created. I think the people behind this Popchips ad are not racist. I think they just made a racist ad, because they’re so steeped in our culture’s racism that they didn’t even realize they were doing it.”

Dash outlines a number of next steps for the campaign, including not pulling the ads. Instead, the ads should link to an explanation for how the campaign failed. Kutcher should apologize and the team members from the PR firm promoting the campaign and the firm that made the ads should all be named. Check out the rest of Dash’s recommendations here.

For now at least, expect to see more of “Raj” and Kutcher’s other characters, including a half-baked “Nigel,” a diva named “Darl” who is very obviously inspired by Karl Lagerfeld, and “Swordfish,” a bumpkin-type biker dude. The New York Times reports that the $1.5 million campaign will include outdoor ads in Denver, LA, New York, Phoenix, Seattle and San Francisco, as well as social media appearances on Facebook and YouTube.

UPDATE: Late Wednesday, Pop Chips CEO Keith Belling issued an apology.

“Our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended,” he wrote in a blog post.

Is any press good press for Pop Chips and Kutcher? Or is this a PR fail, and if so, how do you think it should be rectified?

More About: Advertising, ashton kutcher

Tumblr Adds ‘Ads’

Posted: 02 May 2012 03:08 PM PDT

Tumblr finally has its first ads — except they’re not “ads,” according to Tumblr.

This new feature on Tumblr allows the growing social network to use its Radar and Spotlight features on its Dashboard to draw attention to advertisers — or “sponsors,” as Tumblr calls them. Tumblr Radar gets more than 120 million daily impressions, which Tumblr says will offer sponsors “the opportunity to gain thousands of new followers, likes and reflags.” Meanwhile, sponsors also have the opportunity to be featured “front-and-center” on Tumblr Spotlight. The Spotlight feature, curated by a team of editors, is a sample of some of the more especially creative blogs on Tumblr and is a driver of “tens of millions of follows each week for new and existing users.”

Tumblr CEO David Karp announced that sponsored posts would be coming to Tumblr at the Ad Age Digital Conference, which took place in New York earlier this month. Though Karp had vehemently been against advertising in the past — he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010, “We’re pretty against advertising. It really turns our stomachs” — he later called himself an “idiot” for making that comment.

The implementation of these sponsored posts comes at the heels of the departure of Tumblr President John Maloney, who resigned this past weekend. According to the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the situation” said that Maloney’s skills as a generalist manager were becoming less relevant to Tumblr as it added executives in finance, engineering and human resources — in other words, as it grows beyond its start-up roots.

“I am a good operator,” Maloney said. “Am I one of those big network operators? That is not particularly interesting to me nor does it play to my strengths.”

After explosive growth in 2011, Tumblr hit 20 billion total posts at the end of March. At the announcement of the ads in mid-April, it had reached 21.3 billion total posts. Now — just two weeks later — it has added nearly a billion more total posts, according to its About page, which keeps a running list of statistics on the site.

Tumblr currently lacks an ad sales force, but Derek Gottfrid, the company’s vice president of product who currently oversees revenue, said in the Wall Street Journal article that the company plans to build a small ad sales team. “You should expect a slow build,” he said.

And even though Tumblr doesn’t like to call its ads “ads,” the company does acknowledge that advertising is the game it’s playing:

“We’re looking for the world’s greatest marketers and media companies to help us raise the bar for creative advertising on the web,” Tumblr states in its Sponsors page. “If you’re game, we’d love to talk!”

Do you think the addition of sponsored posts to Tumblr Spotlight distorts viewers’ understanding of what’s creative on Tumblr? Can Tumblr maintain its commitment as a “platform for self-expression” with these ads? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of Jessica Checkeroski

More About: Advertising, Business, tumblr

7 Rules for Responding to Customers Online

Posted: 02 May 2012 02:28 PM PDT

Sam Keninger leads product marketing at Medallia, a customer experience management company.

By now it's clear that negative online sentiment cannot only damage a business' reputation but also its bottom line. You don't get many chances to address a vocal, disgruntled customer or correct a fake, perhaps competitor-generated, social media review. And silently ignoring social feedback from customers is never an option.

That said, too many companies have fallen prey to the idea that robotic responses "cover their bases." They believe they're on top of their social media presence because their corporate marketing department is monitoring brand references and aggregating metrics. But those actions do not focus on improving the customer experience, which is ultimately what affects a company's revenue.

SEE ALSO: How to Maximize Your Facebook Engagement

Here are seven social media management rules to prevent your employees from becoming response robots and incite them to respond in a way that boosts customer loyalty.

1. Be Timely

The right underlying technology solutions can help a company monitor what's being said online and immediately alert property managers to a new social post. Instilling a culture of urgency among employees is important when closing the loop on social reviews. Not only is one customer watching — so is everyone else. You don't need to respond to every post, but it's also important to respond to both good and bad posts because it shows future customers how involved you are. For example, scathing reviews that are tempered with rational, genuine responses are much less potent in deterring future customers.

2. Don't Auto Respond

Every response is visible in stream, and the presence of scripted responses will quickly become apparent to followers. If your responses seem automated, they won't seem genuine and you might as well not respond.

3. Leave it to the Frontline

The employees who are closest to your customers are the best at interacting with them, either online or face-to-face. Getting your frontline of employees on board with your social media strategy invokes a strong sense of urgency to fix underlying problems. Because of social media's transparent nature the frontline will appreciate the importance of improving the customer experience. Best Western responds to well over a third of their TripAdvisor reviews (above the industry average) to foster customer rapport.

4. Don't Get Personal

Remember to keep your tone professional. Picking a fight online is a great way to start a PR massacre. Google Boners Barbecue if you doubt it. It may seem unfair to businesses, but the customer is always right, at least on these forums.

5. Keep Responses Short

Social media venues are built for skimming and quick conversations. The social attention span is tiny and your responses aren't only for the initial reviewer but for future consumers. Don't kill the mood.

6. Thank the Customer

Give credit when an issue is uncovered. Domino's Pizza did a good job engaging customers and employees when customer comments about product quality were left on social sites. Embracing social feedback made the company look good.

7. Fix Issues

Walking the walk is crucial to the success of your customer experience management campaign and, ultimately, your bottom line. Over time, companies that have the same issues over and over again will not only have bad social scores but will show customers they are incapable of improving. You don't want to be written off as a lost cause.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, sorendls

More About: contributor, customer engagement, features, social media marketing

How AgLocal Wants to Change the Meat Industry

Posted: 02 May 2012 01:23 PM PDT

It’s not too difficult to find locally grown fruits and vegetables in most markets — but start searching for beef, chicken or pork and your food’s origins become a lot more murky. That’s what the Kansas City-based startup AgLocal aims to change.

The mobile-based app functions as a network to benefit three sides of the carnivorous human food chain. Consumers will be able to browse for local farms to order meat, which independent distributors will deliver to grocery stores, where individual buyers will claim their order.

Farmers won’t be forced into the false choice between scaling up to provide for huge conglomerates such as Monsanto, or the inefficient farmers’ market route. Distributors will be connected to their markets and not have to work with huge competitors that hurt their margins. Consumers will know where their meat comes from and have more transparent freedom of choice.

AgLocal co-founder and CEO Naithan Jones, who comes from a family of chefs and farmers, says the startup’s concept came from his own frustration as a meat-loving, health-conscious consumer.

“I’m always so conscious about what I put in my body,” he told Mashable earlier this year. “There are a lot of services out there for vegetarians and vegans, but not for meat eaters.”

Pitching the company to potential investors and other entrepreneurs Wednesday in San Francisco at the startup accelerator NewMe‘s demo day, Jones described his ambition to “change the way meat is bought and sold all over the world” for a marketplace wallowing behind the broader curve of innovation.

The $200 billion global meat business, he said, is an “antiquated, old industry powered by just a few corporate partners that have consolidated power and cut you out of the loop, which has created this problem of sustainability.”

But the company will need to make money to do that. How? Jones says AgLocal will charge wholesale fees when distributors buy from farms and farms from distributors.

SEE ALSO: With Second Cohort, NewMe Continues Accelerating Minority Entrepreneurship

AgLocal is currently wrapping up the 12-week NewMe program, where co-founder Jacob McDaniel says it made important connections, learned from mentors and fine tuned its business strategy. McDaniel declined to provide funding numbers but says the company has had no trouble attracting buzz and interested investors.

A small group of consumers, probably in the San Francisco and New York City areas, will be able to order meat from farmers in an alpha lunch within a few months, and McDaniels says AgLocal plans to expand to about 30 major American cities in the next one to two years. Eventually, however, the goal is to connect meat eaters and farmers worldwide.

Is AgLocal a service you would use? Do you think it can change the meat industry and become a success in the process? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Business, Food, Startups

Your Instagram Photo Could Win You a Trip Across the World

Posted: 02 May 2012 12:45 PM PDT

Do you love Instagram and love to travel?

Win a Social Media Week contest and you’ll go on a trip across the world if you can capture the best shot of your city.

Social Media Week is looking for the 14 best shots of this year’s 14 host cities — Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Chicago, Doha, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Jeddah, London, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Torino and Vancouver — taken with smartphones.

All you need to do is tag your contest-worthy photo with #InstagramYourCity and the name of the city you’ve captured by June 29. You can submit photos filtered by other photo apps, such as Hipstamatic, Camera+ and Lightbox. There’s also no limit to the number of photos you can enter, so feel free to go wild.

One photo will be chosen from all applicants from the 14 cities. The winning photographer can chose to spend Social Media Week, which will take place Sept. 24 through 28, in any of the hosting cities.

Social Media Week has been hosted by 26 different cities over the last four years.

BONUS: 25 Most-Followed Users on Instagram

25. Jason Mraz

Username: Jason_Mraz Followers: 363,621 Number of Pictures: 254

Click here to view this gallery.

Image Courtesy of bridif

More About: instagram, social media week, travel

Obama vs. Romney: The Social Showdown

Posted: 02 May 2012 12:29 PM PDT

With Newt Gingrich suspending his campaign today, Mitt Romney will finally be considered the presumptive Republican nominee. Only one person stands between him and the White House: President Barack Obama.

The two will wage electoral war from now until November, but how do their social profiles compare?


Barack Obama

Barack Obama’s Facebook presence is mighty — more than 26 million followers and 283,000 “talking about this.” The president uses his Facebook feed to share infographics about hot topics such as student loan reform and job creation, videos from the campaign and from the Oval Office and behind-the-scenes photos of life in the White House.

His posts routinely generate tens of thousands of “likes” and “shares,” as you might expect for someone with so many subscribers. Users can also access the campaign merchandise shop or donate to Obama for America directly from the page.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney’s Facebook page has slightly less-impressive statistics — fewer than two million followers and about 127,000 people “talking about this.” Romney’s page is less infographic-driven than Obama’s. Instead, there’s a focus on campaign ads, text-based updates and Instagram photos.

Romney’s Facebook page also lets you easily buy campaign swag, but the other features are more engagement-focused. Users are encouraged to “Stand With Mitt” by uploading a photo or video of themselves in Romney gear or volunteering for the campaign.


Barack Obama

President Obama’s campaign account, @BarackObama, is typically run by the president’s campaign team — tweets written by the president are signed “-BO.” It has nearly 15 million followers, another digital advantage of the incumbency.

The president’s Twitter page has an added graphic showing a countdown to November’s Election Day, probably to spark a sense of urgency in supporters and volunteers. The page also prominently features links to other relevant accounts, such as @MichelleObama, @JoeBiden and @Obama2012 — the latter of which is the official Twitter account of the re-election campaign.

Once Romney became the assumed Republican nominee, the Obama Twitter team started calling him out by his handle, attacking his policies and statements.

Obama’s team often uses hashtag campaigns to rally supporters around an issue or as a call to action, such as #RegToVote, a call to get users registered to cast a ballot on Nov. 6. As with other hashtag campaigns, they’ve been known to get hijacked by the competition.

Mitt Romney

@MittRomney has a fraction of the followers Obama has, but at a hair under 500,000, he’s still amassed an impressive number. The account tweets somewhat sporadically, occasionally going days between updates. The Romney Twitter account has actively been attacking Obama policies for months.

The Romney digital team has also opened other campaign Twitter accounts. Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, joined the microblogging service as @AnnDRomney to defend her role as stay-at-home-mom in the Romney household.


Barack Obama

YouTube is playing a key role in both campaigns, allowing candidates to transmit video content without paying for television airtime.

The Obama campaign has created many longer-form, documentary-style videos intended to get potentially disillusioned supporters back on board — “fired up, ready to go,” as the president might say. These videos often showcase a multitude of the president’s accomplishments, such as health care reform and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Obama’s shorter videos focus in on singular issues, such as one recently released web ad suggesting Romney wouldn’t have decided to launch the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

The Obama campaign has more than 180 million total YouTube views.

Mitt Romney

Romney has produced almost entirely videos of only a few minutes’ length. Many of them are designed as attack ads, going after President Obama’s record. A handful, though, are positive — one, called “Family,” shows life at the Romney residence.

Team Romney’s YouTube videos have about 6.5 million total views.


Barack Obama

On Google+, Barack Obama’s page is all about multimedia content. In fact, nearly all of the material shared on the president’s profile is either a video or an image of some kind, shared to more than one million followers.

President Obama was also the first sitting president to engage citizens via a Google+ Hangout last January — a modern-day incarnation of Franklin Delanor Roosevelt’s historic Fireside Chats.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney carries about half a million followers on Google’s social network, often sharing web ads and other visual content. Romney’s team posts text-based updates on Google+ much more often then their counterparts at the Obama campaign. Those updates certainly spark a lot of conversation — most have at least 100 comments.

Romney has also held not one, but two Google+ hangouts — one in 2011 and another last March.


Barack Obama

That’s right, both presidential campaigns are on the image-heavy Pinterest network. President Obama’s page is a smattering of infographics, behind-the-scenes pictures of the campaign and life in the White House. It’s even got a list of Obama-inspired recipes, such as cupcakes with his famous campaign logo.

Mitt Romney

Team Romney’s Pinterest page is actually run by Ann — perhaps a courting of the site’s mostly female demographic. Pinboards include “Crafts/DIY,” “Family” and “Recipes.”

Pinterest may actually prove vital to the Romney campaign. The former governor is often criticized for seeming “too rigid,” and the pin-based network gives Ann a chance to show the more playful side of Mitt and the rest of the family to combat that narrative.

And on to November

SEE ALSO: On Twitter, The Primary's Over and It's Obama vs. Romney

There’s a touch over six months left in election season, giving both campaigns plenty of time to experiment with new platforms and other uses of social media. What do you think they’ll come up with? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, sjlocke

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, barack obama, Mitt Romney, Politics, Social Media, trending, US

Films as Startups: How Indie Producers Build Buzz

Posted: 02 May 2012 12:19 PM PDT

Note: The film shown above is somewhat violent and the language may be NSFW.

The film industry is not what it used to be. Gone are the days when writers shopped a script around Hollywood, hoping to catch the eye of major production studios.

Instead, that model has been turned upside down. Films are aiming to captivate an audience first, without the assistance of studios. Technology and social media have made it feasible.

Writer Bill Balas entered his feature-length script into a contest for Fresh Voices, a social network for screenwriters, which captured the attention of producers Peter Katz and Don Le.

Rather than following the traditional path of production, the team used Balas’s script to create Already Gone, a short film about a crook who only robs from other criminals. The three-minute video is directed by Ross Ching, and stars Shawn Ashmore of X-men fame and Harry Shum Jr. from Glee.

This bite-sized teaser gets the premise of the film in front of an audience, and if the film is bought, will lead to a feature-length film at some point. Consider the video a less expensive pilot that will reveal hard numbers to potential financiers up front.

How Social Media Incubates the Pilot

Studios spend a tremendous amount of money in marketing a film, but independent filmmakers are now capable of distributing their content on the smallest of budgets. Sites like Kickstarter, Twitter and Facebook have changed how films are made.

“The advantage we have is that there are people behind this project,” says Katz. “Before, we didn’t have anything to show. There are a lot of challenges just using scripts, especially when you’re dealing with dense material. It doesn’t always convey the director’s vision.”

Katz’s non-traditional production strategy is similar to the tech startup incubator model, which helps develop entrepreneurs’ visions into businesses that they can present to market and investors.

“Imagine if genre legends like Sam Raimi’s and Robert Rodriguez’s production companies financed and oversaw the creation of select filmmakers’ short films — then released them on the web to see which concepts would reach the largest audiences and attract the most passionate fanbase,” says Katz.

“Studios would use this information to decide which projects to finance and how to market them, instead of the traditional route where scripts can get caught in development and never see the light of day.”

High-Quality Tech on a Low Budget

While social continues to support the business and marketing side of production, the technology available for filmmakers has become more affordable — even as the quality continues to get better.

RED introduced digital cinema cameras in 2005, which led to a number of competitors coming out with their own products. Today, independent films like Already Gone are being shot with cameras like the RED because the high-quality gear is smaller and cheaper than ever before.

“Because the camera is so flexible in terms of its cost, without losing that quality, you have a tremendous amount of indie filmmakers who are using the RED One, and the Epic and the Scarlet to shoot their movies,” says Ted Schilowitz, co-Founder of RED cameras. “The same camera that the Peter Jacksons, and the David Finchers of the world use to make their movies, all the young independent filmmakers with much smaller budgets are using the same exact tools.”

What do you think about the “teaser first, full film later” concept? Do you think technology and social media will continue to change the future of filmmaking? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Melly Lee

More About: Entertainment, features, filmmakers, independent film, RED camera, trending

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Canon G1 X: The Camera Caught Between Two Worlds [REVIEW]

Posted: 02 May 2012 12:00 PM PDT

The Summer Gadget Series is presented by the Galaxy Nexus from Sprint. Android 4.0, Google Wallet and Google Play make it pure Google. Truly Unlimited data from Sprint makes it unstoppable. Check it out.

canon-gix-600Product: Canon PowerShot G1 X

Price: $799

What It's Good For: Shooting great photos in challenging situations (like moving targets or low light) without the hassle of a full-featured DSLR.

Who It's Good For: Budding photographers who want to level-up from everyday point-and-shoots or pros looking for a secondary camera.

Limitations: The retro design takes some getting used to, and it falls down on extreme close-ups.

Bottom Line: The camera delivers on its promise of shooting great pics, but it’s the compact and cool design you’re really paying for.

In the camera world, the Canon PowerShot G1 X is what you might call a dual citizen. It’s technically a point-and-shoot camera, but it also has many of the features of a more-professional digital SLR. This unique toolset gives the G1 X not just one ideal customer, but two: Casual photographers who are ready to upgrade from everyday point-and-shoots, and pros looking for a decent backup camera.

This model will satisfy both. It takes great photos, thanks mostly to the large 1.5-inch CMOS sensor that rivals even the recent Micro Four Thirds cameras in size. However, the G1 X’s unusual hybrid nature means users from both ends of the spectrum will need to deal with a learning curve. It’s a camera that you have to get to know.

Design Quirks

After laying your eyes on it, the extra time spent learning the camera won’t seem like such a burden. The G1 X has an alluring design that’s boxy and retro, with dials everywhere. At about a pound, it weighs more than most point-and-shoots, but it also feels great in your hands and won’t weigh you down when it’s hanging from your neck. The lens is nice and big, but only does 4x zoom — okay, but not quite on par with today’s superzoom point-and-shoots.

Yet, the atypical design has a price in ease of use. The G1 X has more dials than even your typical DSLR, and they don’t always do what you think they should. For example, the flash pops up delightfully from a rectangular slot on the left side of the camera — but the fact that it doesn’t do so automatically in full-auto mode is unfortunate.

In Action

If you take the time to learn all the nooks and crannies of this camera — and given the target customer(s), you should be willing — you’ll be rewarded with some truly excellent pictures. The image sensor does great things for color and for low-light situations. It also has the ability to take photos in RAW format — if you do so in JPEG+RAW mode (capturing both), former point-and-shooters will finally see what they’ve been missing.

The G1 X also has many nice extras. The viewfinder is a welcome presence (a rarity on point-and-shoots), though the articulating LCD — something many high-end DSLRs don’t have — is so advantageous that it makes the viewfinder almost completely redundant.

Face recognition is a worthy addition and the camera bestows the added bonus of making it programmable. Just identify Timmy, and the camera can prioritize keeping him in focus above everyone else, on every shot. Finally, the camera displays short tutorial-like instructions on what specific menu icons mean when you select them, which I found extremely useful.

Low light is another area where the camera really shines. Better low-light photography is one of the main reasons a casual shutterbug would want to upgrade, and even if you primarily use the automatic modes, you’ll find that photos have better detail and don’t blur as readily as those taken with typical point-and-shoots.

One weakness I did find was with macro photography, or the extreme close-up. Many cameras fall short with this, but the G1 X was particularly aversive to getting in-focus shots of anything closer than 12 inches. It’s too bad, because it performs with aplomb (or at least surprising competence) in virtually all other situations.

The Bottom Line

In its entirety, the feature set on the G1 X makes it difficult to justify spending $799 on it — $250 more than Canon‘s entry-level DSLR, the Rebel T3. Ultimately it’s for people who specifically don’t want a DSLR but still want to take great photos. For that small but assured audience, the quirky Canon PowerShot G1 X is relationship material.

Canon G1 X

The Canon G1 X ($799) is a point-and-shoot camera that boasts many features common on DSLR models.

Click here to view this gallery.

Series presented by the Sprint Galaxy Nexus


The Summer Gadget Series is presented by the Galaxy Nexus from Sprint. Android 4.0, Google Wallet and Google Play make it pure Google. Truly Unlimited data from Sprint makes it unstoppable. Check it out.

More About: Canon, DSLR, features, mashable, point and shoot, review, Summer Gadget Series

Online Original Video: Amazon Studios Searching for Hit Series

Posted: 02 May 2012 11:47 AM PDT

"kid" "child" "cute" "girl" "youth"

Amazon Studios — the online retailer’s instant video venture — is jumping into the comedy and children’s series programming business, the company announced Wednesday.

Amazon is looking for new hit shows to distribute on Amazon Instant Video. The creators of series chosen for full-production will receive $55,000 and a maximum of 5% of Amazon’s net receipts from clothing and toy licensing along with other royalties and bonuses.

Amazon plans to stream one “promising new project” per month. Amazon will measure audience viewership and engagement with each pitched series to decide which series will go into full production.

Amazon has been targeting new original programming for its web instant video channel since it launched in November, 2010. Children and comedy shows will add to the existing slate of show and movie genres.

Those with a knack for creating comedy and children’s shows should submit proposals here. Comedy pitches should be 22 minutes long and children’s show scripts should be 11 minutes. Writers should also submit a five-page explanation of the series, Amazon Studios says.

"Amazon Studios wants to discover great talent and produce programming that audiences will love," Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. "In the course of developing movies, we've heard a lot of interest from content creators who want to develop original series in the comedy and children's genres. We are excited to bring writers, animators and directors this new opportunity to develop original series."

SEE ALSO: Amazon and Discovery Sign Streaming Deal

The chosen comedy and children’s shows will stream on Amazon Instant Video. About 7,000 original scripts have been submitted to Amazon Studios. More than 700 test movies have been submitted to this program, 15 of which are currently being developed.

Joe Lewis, previously with 20th Century Fox and Comedy Central and Tara Sorensen, formerly with National Geographic Kids, will head development of the comedy and children’s series.

Do you think you have the winning hit series idea? Tell us in the comments what you hope to see on Amazon Studios.

Image courtesy of iStock, RichVintage.

More About: amazon, amazon studios

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How One App Eases Cancer Treatment for Children

Posted: 02 May 2012 11:26 AM PDT

Children fighting cancer have to deal with chemotherapy, hair loss and hospital stays. Now, an iOS app is taking a bit of the load off their shoulders by making pain diaries — the daily log of their experience with the disease — easier to manage.

Pain Squad is the first iOS app designed for kids with cancer to replace their pain diary in a fun, interactive way.

Pediatric oncologists at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto asked ideas company Cundari to develop an iPhone app that could minimize pain, improve quality of life and reduce distress for patients and their families.

The team at Cundari developed Pain Squad, a cop-style game with missions and rewards designed to engage kids enough to fill out their paid diaries twice each day for two weeks.

“Pain Squad is easy to use, so it motivates kids to keep participating over the entire two weeks it runs,” Brent Choi, Cundari cheif creative officer, told Mashable. “Imagine how long it would take kids to fill in a written journal. It becomes a real reminder of the the pain they’re going through.”

New users join the squad as “rookies” and earn higher ranks up to “police chief” as they progress through levels by completing regular surveys. Stars from different Canadian police dramas, such as Rookie Blue and Flashpoint, appear in costume periodically in video messages of encouragement.

SEE ALSO: Facebook App Fosters Community for Breast Cancer Patients

“Kids using the app will start to understand what’s working for them in managing their pain,” says Mike Orr, Cundari lead digital strategist. “It really empowers them and makes them feel like they have some control.”

The information entered into the app will be used in SickKids’ ongoing research on pediatric cancer.

SickKids had previously tried using diaries conducted on Palm Pilot mobile devices, but the kids found the program clunky and non-engaging.

Pain Squad is expected to roll out in different hospitals around Canada in the coming months.

Is Pain Squad a win for cancer research and treatment? Should more hospitals use apps to engage with patients? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apps, cancer, iOS, Social Good

Bing Takes on Google With Simple New Design

Posted: 02 May 2012 10:12 AM PDT

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has done some heavy spring cleaning as a part of an effort to de-clutter its search result pages — and the new design looks a lot like Google.

Bing rolled out a new look that is designed to help users get results faster than ever. But the seamless design bears a striking resemblance to Google Search’s simple layout. See below.

Bing - 600

“Over the past few months, we’ve run dozens of experiments to determine how you read our pages to deliver the link you’re looking for,” Sally Salas, principal group program manager at Bing, said on its official blog. “Based on that feedback, we’ve tuned the site to make the entire page easier to scan, removing unnecessary distractions, and making the overall experience more predictable and useful.”

SEE ALSO: Despite Bing's Rise, Google Still Dominates Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

In addition to faster page-load times and more relevant search results, Bing tightened the header and removed the “left rail” related-search section, making it easier to find the information and links you want.

It also enlarged the space between lines to increase readability and optimize the page for touch devices.

Bing said it is working on updating its search page even more in the future.

“We’re not finished, ” Salas wrote. “Today, we’re also testing out some new ideas for the homepage, including a larger version of the popular daily image. If you happen upon the homepage changes, please let us know what you think.”

What do you think of Bing’s new search results page? Do you think the site looks too much like Google? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: 12 Mysterious Google Maps Sightings

1. The Badlands Guardian

This natural formation in Alberta, Canada is known as the Badlands Guardian and looks strikingly similar to a native American wearing a headdress. If you look close enough, it looks like he's wearing a pair of earphones, but that section is actually a man-made road and oil well.

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More About: bing, Google, trending

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15 LOL-Worthy Instagram Pics

Posted: 02 May 2012 10:01 AM PDT

The Best of Instagram Series is presented by T-Mobile. Its 4G Tweet Race, a week-long campaign launching May 3, pits Twitter users against one another in a daily, frantic race for retweets. There are 7 races, and the winners of each heat win a new HTC One™ S phone with a year of T-Mobile's Unlimited Value service, and the final winner takes home $4,000.

While the platform is known for its pure visual eye candy, Instagram is actually a popular place for a good laugh. Whether it’s an inside joke, a viral meme or a silly face, the “#lol” tag is a hit — more than 1 million photos have been tagged with the term, according to Statigram.

Unlike traditional Instagram photos, which are comprised of original works of photographic art, the “#lol” tag stream is full of already-popular viral hits and memes. Users pull from traditional comedy sources — Tumblr, Reddit and 9gag, among others — to curate their own favorite jokes.

Here’s a roundup of 15 funny photos from the comedy stream on Instagram. What’s your favorite photo? Let us know in the comments below.

Come to the Dark Side

Courtesy @wildchild1182

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Series presented by T-Mobile

The Best of Instagram Series is presented by T-Mobile. The 4G Tweet Race is a week-long campaign starting May 3 that pits Twitter users against one another in a daily, frantic race for retweets. Players register on the official Tweet Race page on T-Mobile’s Test Drive, and each racer’s tweets must contain three elements: #4GTweets, and @TMobile, and must be submitted during the race to be eligible. There are 7 races over the course of the week, and the winners of all 7 heats will face off in a final race on May 15th to see whose social graph is quickest. The winner of each heat will win a new HTC One™ S phone with a year of T-Mobile's Unlimited Value service, and the final winner will take home a cool $4,000.

More About: Best of Instagram Series, comedy, features, instagram, lol, mashable, trending, viral

RIM CEO: We’re Not Leaving the Consumer Business

Posted: 02 May 2012 08:43 AM PDT


ORLANDO — Thorsten Heins, the CEO of Research In Motion, today clarified comments he made weeks ago about RIM refocusing on the enterprise market, saying the company was not leaving the consumer business behind.

Heins said what he meant was the company needed to eliminate some services the company was doing in-house, and instead achieve those consumer-based goals with partnerships rather than going it alone. While enterprise is still RIM’s core strength, Heins said the company would continue to market and sell devices and services to the consumer segment.

Heins also unequivocally contradicted reports that RIM was abandoning physical keyboards on phones, a traditional RIM strength. Saying BlackBerrys had the best physical keyboards on the planet, Heins 100% confirmed there will be a BlackBerry 10 device with a keyboard when the new platform debuts this fall.

He wouldn’t say whether or not there would be a new tablet when BlackBerry 10 devices arrive, but he did say that if RIM creates a new tablet, it would be marketed to enterprise customers first, with a consumer play later, if at all. Broadly, Heins sees tablets as an “on-ramp” to mobile computing.

Heins also spoke about his philosophies and RIM’s approach to the market.

“We spend a lot of time on who are we mostly talking to, who is the target customer,” he said. “The common denominator with all our customers is that they are striving to succeed.”

Heins said “success” didn’t necessarily mean in business. It could also be personal, but the main challenge that they all have is managing their relationships.

SEE ALSO: With BlackBerry 10, RIM Is Fighting the Wrong War

“What do I need to succeed?” Heins said RIM’s customers are asking. “How do I manage all these connections and communications channels? I’m creating them with relationships, but i’m now subject to them as well.”

To Heins, the answer to those questions is BlackBerry 10. Heins emphasized the benefits and abilities the new OS, which has “real-time” multitasking, with apps that don’t stop or pause when they’re in the background.

Between now and then, though, Heins provided little guidance for customers. He said RIM would continue to develop and support BlackBerry 7 (the OS on current RIM devices, except the PlayBook tablet), but he was unspecific when asked about what sort of upgrade path there might be for BB7 customers.

What do you think of Heins’s comments? Is it the right strategy, or does it need adjustment? Have your say in the comments.

Photo by Peter Pachal

BONUS: BlackBerry 10′s Best Features

Glance Back

Saying BlackBerry 10 is all about the "flow" between apps, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins showed how users could quickly see other apps running by "glancing back" via menus that peek out from the side.

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More About: blackberry, BlackBerry 10, research in motion, RIM, trending

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