Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Promoted Posts: A Step-By-Step Guide”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook Promoted Posts: A Step-By-Step Guide”

Facebook Promoted Posts: A Step-By-Step Guide

Posted: 31 May 2012 04:56 AM PDT

Facebook has started rolling out Promoted Posts for Brand Pages, a new feature that allows businesses to pay for posts to be more predominantly displayed on news feeds.

Earlier this year, Facebook shared the statistic that a Brand Page’s content is only seen by 16% of the fans. Facebook’s slew of ad tools and these new Promoted Posts are geared to help businesses reach and engage more of their fan base.

A brand can now pay $5, $10, $15 or $20 to “get more people who like your Page to see this post.”

"Promoted posts help increase the people you reach for any eligible post. It's an easy and fast way to reach more of the people that “like” your page and your friends," says a Facebook spokesperson in an explanatory video.

Facebook users will see promoted posts labeled with "Sponsored" in the news feed (not in the right rail where Facebook ads live) both on desktop and mobile. Promoted Posts have the same targeting ability that regular posts do, so you can geotarget just to your company’s area to get the most bang for your buck.

We walked through the process of creating a Promoted Post and the insights that assess their efficacy, so check out the gallery below for the step-by-step guide. Will you use this tool, and do you think it’ll be more effective than Facebook Ads? Let us know in the comments.

Want to Promote a Post?

Click "Promote" to open this drop-down menu. Clicking on the denomination pulls up another drop-down menu.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, facebook ads, Facebook brand pages, facebook marketing, Promoted Post, Small Business

SpaceX Dragon’s Return and Two Other Stories You Need to Know

Posted: 31 May 2012 04:47 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.

SpaceX Dragon Returns to Earth Today

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has been successfully unberthed from the International Space Station and is scheduled to return to Earth later today.

If everything goes as planned, Dragon should land in the Pacific Ocean at 11:44 a.m. ET.

Steve Jobs Interviews Available on iTunes for Free

All six of Steve Jobs’ interviews held at the All Things D stage are now available as free downloads on iTunes.

“As a memorial to a great man, and, in the spirit of sharing a priceless piece of history, we are making all six of these appearances available free, in high quality,” wrote ATD in the videos’ description.

Microsoft Accidentally Announces Windows 8 Release Preview for May 31

Microsoft has published — and then pulled — a blog post announcing the release of the Windows 8 Release Preview to the Windows Dev Center. The links in the post all point to current beta releases of Windows 8, but they are likely to be updated today, together with the post which was originally dated May 31.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: SpaceX, SpaceX Dragon, steve jobs, Windows 8

For more Tech coverage:

Square Register, Pay With Square Aim To Change How You Pay [HANDS-ON]

Posted: 31 May 2012 04:11 AM PDT

After launching in 2009, Square has set the standard for small merchants who want to accept credit cards.

Square’s signature white card reader plugs into the headphone jack of iPhones and Android devices and allows anyone from businesses with a full retail store set up, to artists who are setting up a small booth at a local craft fair to accept credit card payments charging those merchants just 2.75% per swipe.

The company is now processing an astounding $5 billion in payments annually, increasing its payment volume by 25% since March of this year with more than 1 million using the service to accept payments. Funds from sales made before 5pm are also now available in the merchant’s bank account the very next day -– much quicker than the several days or week or processing required by other payment processors.

In March the company took mobile payments a step further and launched Square Register. The full point-of-sale system for businesses not only allows merchants to accept payments, but also tracks store inventory and allows customers to share information such as their menu with customers via Square’s mobile app.

SEE ALSO: Square App Turns Your iPad Into a Cash Register

Customers can open a tab on their mobile phone wherever they want –- or have a tab auto-open when they arrive at merchants they frequent -– and merchants can tap that person’s photo and name on the checkout screen in order to charge a purchase.

We recently went around San Francisco with Square to check out Square Register and Pay With Square in action. In the city where Square is based, the service is already being used by a wide array of merchants.

While difficult at times to actually open a tab –- we needed to turn on the Wi-Fi on our iPhone in order the phone to be able to tell we were actually close enough to a merchant to check in -– the actual purchase aspect of Pay With Square worked seamlessly.

We used it to buy doughnuts from a local merchant, pick up lunch on a local food truck, and to buy some soap at a local artisan soap store.

"I always like to check out who’s coming thought the line," said one Humphry Slocombe employee. At the local ice cream shop he looks to pay attention who has already opened a tab at the store –- which often has a line wrapped around the block — and then use his or her name when they finally make it to the front of the line to make a purchase.

Check out the gallery below for a look at Pay With Square in action. How do you think the service stacks up to some of the other options out there? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Taking Inventory

Square Register helps merchants keep track of their inventory,allowing them to gain insight on what's selling well and when.

This doughnut shop, for instance, keeps track of each individual type of doughnut it sells using the service.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: mobile payments, Square

SpaceX Dragon to Return Home Today

Posted: 31 May 2012 02:25 AM PDT

Spacex Dragon re-entry

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which has successfully docked with the International Space Station on Friday, is scheduled to return to Earth today.

While Dragon was attached to the ISS, astronauts unloaded 1,146 pounds of supplies, including food and other crew provisions. Then they packed the Dragon — the only spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo from the space station — with 1,455 pounds of cargo that will be returned to Earth, including hardware used for experiments, spacewalks and station systems.

At 4:07 a.m. ED this morning, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was unberthed from the ISS, and is now preparing for the return.

If everything goes as planned, Dragon should land in the Pacific Ocean at 11:44 a.m. ET, hundreds of miles off the west coast of California.

Check out a gallery of photos from the mission tweeted by SpaceX below and our interview with SpaceX's founder and chief designer Elon Musk here.

SpaceX Dragon Capsule flying in formation with the ISS

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: NASA, SpaceX, SpaceX Dragon, trending

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Can ‘Call Me Maybe’ Work as Job Recruitment? [VIDEO]

Posted: 31 May 2012 01:26 AM PDT

A New Jersey public relations firm has embraced the “Call Me Maybe” voice-dub trend by posting a choreographed video to YouTube — as a part of an effort to look for job candidates.

The catchy song from Carly Rae Jepsen has been endlessly covered over the past few weeks, but this is the first time we’ve seen a business use the hit song to reach job applicants.

Litsky Public Relations, a boutique PR agency in Hoboken, New Jersey, aims to attract young staffers with pop culture and social media knowledge.

“With two open positions and tons of recent grads entering the job market, Litzky PR wanted to connect with potential candidates in a unique, engaging format that allowed our agency to stand out from the crowd,” Michele Litzky, president and founder of Litzky Public Relations, told Mashable.

SEE ALSO: 'Call Me Maybe' Parody Features Digital Obama, Romney [VIDEO]

The video starts with an employee — who carries publications such as Advertising Age and PRWeek — entering the firm’s office building, while lip-syncing the lyrics to Jepsen’s song. The clip then shows staffers dancing and singing along throughout the office — from meeting rooms to in front of the coffee machine — as well as on the streets of Hoboken.

“By using the power of social media and tapping into a pop culture phenom, we are connecting with candidates where and how they live,” Litzky said. “The video immediately communicates our playful office culture and showcases the pride each employee takes in being a ‘Litzky Lady.’”

Ironically, despite the song’s lyrics, the firm doesn’t actually want candidates to call. At the end of the video, an employee holds up a sign that says, “No calls, please. Visit”

What do you think of the strategy to lure potential job candidates? Is it all good fun, or a sign of trying too hard? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

More About: Call Me Maybe, Entertainment, Music, PUBLIC RELATIONS, Social Media, viral, YouTube

Hockey Fan Sues NHL Team Over Text Messages

Posted: 31 May 2012 12:57 AM PDT

A hockey fan wants to penalize the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins for excessive texting.

Plaintiff Fred Weiss says he signed up to receive text message alerts from the team on happenings such as special ticket offers, player trades and other breaking news. Weiss says the team’s promotional agreement stipulated that it would send no more than three texts per week to fans.

But, Weiss says, the team “intentionally and systematically transmitted text messages to individual consumers in excess of that weekly limit.” His first week after subscribing, Weiss says, he received five text messages. The next week, four.

He says the Penguins violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by exceeding the agreed upon volume of text messages. The suit was filed in United States District Court in the Central District of California on May 25.

Weiss’s complaint seeks unspecified “statutory and punitive damages,” as well as an order requiring the Penguins to “cease its transmission of text messages in excess of the agreed upon weekly limit.”

Weiss is seeking class-action status for his suit. The complaint reads in part:

Defendant has caused Plaintiff and the other members of the Class actual harm, not only because they were subjected to the aggravation that necessarily accompanies the invasion of privacy caused by unsolicited text message calls, but also because consumers frequently have to pay their cell phone service providers for the receipt of such wireless calls.

You can read Weiss’s full complaint at

Do you think it’s reasonable for a sports fan to sue a team for sending too many text messages in an opt-in program? Share you decision in the comments.

Image courtesy clydeorama, Flickr.

More About: Marketing, sports, texting

For more Entertainment coverage:

Internet Non-Profit Applies for New Domains: Meet .ngo and .ong [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 30 May 2012 09:07 PM PDT

Domain Name

The Public Interest Registry (PIR), the non-profit that manages and operates the .org domain, has formally submitted its applications to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the .ngo and .ong domain extensions.

The application process is part of ICANN's initiative to expand domain extensions across the Internet as early as 2013.

The .org top-level domain (TLD) is the world's third largest — behind .com and .net — with more than 9.9 million web addresses registered worldwide. Since its inception in 2002, PIR has managed the .org domain while serving the interests of non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

By applying for the .ngo and .ong extensions, PIR can continue to work with the global NGO community and expand its service. (The .ong extension is the .ngo equivalent for Spanish, Italian, French and other Romance languages.)

When PIR brainstormed on what the extension should be, .ngo resonated with the team, according to CEO Brian Cute.

“NGO itself, as an acronym, is a very well-known term,” Cute told Mashable. “It’s a very strong self-identification, those three letters, which is very important on the Internet when you want to be found.”

Although the .org extension is often associated with non-profits and has been their go-to domain extension, it is an open domain, meaning that individuals and for-profit corporations can register under it as well. But .ngo will be administered as a closed domain exclusively for NGOs, and there will be a verification component at the time of registration.

If the .ngo extension is approved, non-profits and NGOs that currently have a .org extension won’t be required to make the transition.

“It’s really their choice,” Cute said. “If they have a .org site and they’re interacting robustly with their donors and their community, they may not want to. That’s fine. If they aren’t online yet, or they recognize that the benefit of a verified registration and website and .ngo gives them better positioning with their stakeholders, then it’s the right move.”

Cute also said that making the transition to .ngo is something PIR can facilitate fairly easily.

There are more benefits to the .ngo extension as well. PIR will offer an online directory service of NGOs registered with the extension to increase visibility, searchability and the ability to share information in a closed group setting.

Additionally, PIR is planning for an NGO community program, investing in the community as part of the .NGO effort. This means that PIR will reinvest the money it receives from .ngo and .ong registrations into the non-profit sphere.

PIR will help grassroots NGOs in the developing world get online and set up a website through a cost-effective web service.

“We [want to help] get them online, but also train them to use WordPress, and empower them to control their online presence and their website,” Cute said. “For us, that’s the impact part of it that we see as being really compelling. It’s not just the web address and getting the website. This really holds potential for lifting that community in important ways.”

According to Cute, PIR probably will not know for certain if its applications are approved until January 2013, since the ICANN evaluation process can take some time.

On June 13, ICANN will reveal the 2,100 domain extensions that were submitted by the May 30 deadline. It will be interesting to see the submissions, which may include extensions such as .sport and .music.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ronstik.

More About: Domain Names, ICANN, Social Good

MTV Movie Awards Go Social With Live Voting, Facebook Tracker and More

Posted: 30 May 2012 08:48 PM PDT

MTV Movie Awards Twitter Tracker

MTV’s extensive social and digital tactics for the MTV Movie Awards offer viewers new ways to engage before, during and after the June 3 live broadcast.

Building off its social success with the VMAs, MTV is looking to deeply integrate social elements into its other major awards show, the MTV Movie Awards.

For the first time, movie fans can vote using Twitter hashtags. The live social voting works only for the new “Best Hero” category, which already has attracted more than 60,000 votes since Tuesday. Registered users, however, can still vote in other categories on the show’s website.

Vying for the “Best Hero” title are Harry Potter (#votepotter), Katniss Everdeen (from Hunger Games, #votekatniss), Thor (#votethor), Captain America (#votecaptain) and Jenko (from 21 Jump Street, #votejenko).

MTV told us that it knows from past live-voting initiatives that fans love to get the word out to promote their favorite stars and franchises. “They love to game the system and we look forward to helping them do just that,” MTV told us. As a result, expect a showdown for “Best Hero” between fans of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter to continue until Sunday night.

MTV also has these digital elements on tap for the awards show hosted by comedian Russell Brand:

  • Twitter Tracker: Like MTV did during the Video Music Awards in August, it will dissect Twitter conversations in a visualization that displays popular moments and celebrities. The feature will allow users to view how many tweets per minute any moment is garnering and share photos of certain moments across social networks.

    What’s different about this year’s implementation is that MTV will be providing context around what happens at the moment of a tweet. So instead of just seeing “Beyonce” as a trending topic, fans can see a clip or image from the show that correlates with the social activity taking place online.

  • Facebook Tracker: MTV will introduce a Facebook Tracker to keep tabs on the level of Likes and shares of Movie Awards moments shared on its Facebook page.
  • All Access Live: The show’s second-screen experience for desktops and mobile devices will give viewers six camera angles (red carpet, dressing room, paparazzi, audience, balcony and MTV cut), sharing capabilities, a place to chat with fellow viewers and animated GIFs from celebrities on the red carpet. The GIFs will be posted on MTV’s Tumblr blog.
  • Shazam: The ceremony will be Shazam-enabled, meaning viewers can use the app during the broadcast to buy performers’ music and watch social media interactions.
  • Post-Show Features: MTV will have a red carpet galleries and interviews, backstage video highlights and editorial coverage of the show and winners.

  • A Launchpad for the Future

    Some of the features that MTV is launching for the MTV Movie Awards might just find their way into the big show — the VMAs — later this summer.

    In this way, the Movie Awards are a testbed of sorts for the future initiatives for the VMAs. “It just so happened that the Movie Awards are first,” MTV told us, noting that it plans to refine the most successful initiatives into its flagship awards show.

    Understanding that virility is a major component to award shows, MTV wants to make it as easy as possible for fans to tag and share the best moments of the show across mobile and the desktop in as close to real-time as possible. The net result — as last year’s VMA ratings proved — is that socially engaged audiences tend to watch more.

    To pump up the shareability factor even more, MTV will air exclusive footage of The Dark Knight Rises with director Christopher Nolan and actors Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman on hand for the occasion at Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.

    Christina Warren contributed to the reporting in this article.

    More About: celebrities, Entertainment, Facebook, Film, GIFs, Movies, mtv, mtv movie awards, shazam, social tv, tumblr, TV, Twitter

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The Fancy Dives Into Mobile Commerce As It Nears 1 Million Users

Posted: 30 May 2012 08:22 PM PDT

The Fancy, a Pinterest-like startup that wants you to shop what you save, updated its apps for iPhone and iPad devices Wednesday. The apps, which previously limited activity to browsing and collecting images, now allow users to make one-click purchases as well.

The Fancy has moved into ecommerce rapidly and aggressively. The New York-based startup only enabled ecommerce on its website in February, but is already averaging $50,000 a week in sales among a registered userbase of nearly 1 million.

That average has been aided in part by a high-profile partnership with Oscar de la Renta, which opened up pre-orders for a $2,490 sequined baseball tee exclusively through The Fancy’s website after its runway debut a week-and-a-half ago. Nine pre-orders have been placed to date — a not-insignificant number for a small, privately-owned luxury label like Oscar de la Renta.

Nine pre-orders for this $2,490 Oscar de la Renta tee were placed through The Fancy earlier this month.

The app updates will enable The Fancy to capitalize on the growing mobile retail market. Spending on mobile devices is expected to hit $10 billion in the U.S. this year, according to a forecast published last year by Forrester. By 2016, Forrester estimates that the mobile retail sales will exceed $30 billion.

The apps are available for download in the App Store.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, chieferu

More About: Fancy, ipad app, iphone app, mcommerce, Mobile, oscar de la renta, retail

Fred Armisen Wants You to Be Serious for 30 Seconds

Posted: 30 May 2012 07:52 PM PDT

Comedian Fred Armisen, celebrated for being funny on SNL and Portlandia, is requesting that Internet users do the complete opposite.

Armisen introduced a project called “Be Serious For 30 Seconds.” He asks users to submit videos to YouTube, whether scripted or improvised, that are totally serious — they must contain no humor and must last 30 seconds or less. The title of the project must appear somewhere in the submission titles.

He’s included a few other oddly specific rules.

  • Rule 1: It has to be serious.
  • Rule 2: It has to be 30 seconds or less.
  • Rule 3: No more than two people in it.
  • Rule 4: At least one five-second dramatic pause.
  • Rule 5: At least one cutaway to an object.
  • Rule 6: Do your best acting.
  • Rule 7: It needs to have a door slamming.

Although the project has requirements, Armisen says “Be Serious For 30 Seconds” is not a competition, but rather, a collection of serious videos. He then shares his own version of the project, alongside his Portlandia costar Carrie Brownstein.

SEE ALSO: Portlandia Stars Talk Twitter and the New Face of Comedy

Users are getting really creative with their submissions. We’ve gathered five noteworthy picks from the competition to give you an idea. Do you think this is really just a collection of serious videos, or does Armisen have something else up his sleeve?

1. Spaghetti

This video dramatizes an overcooked dinner and dirty dishes.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Portlandia, Video, viral, viral videos, YouTube

For more Video coverage:

Talented Sisters Cover ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ With Plastic Tubs [VIDEO]

Posted: 30 May 2012 07:29 PM PDT

Amazing young musicians aren’t new to YouTube. Performers such as Sophia Grace, Ethan W. and this adorable Ukulele player have frequently made us smile and astounded us with their talent.

However, Lennon and Maisy Stella may just take the cake.

In the above video, the Stella sisters cover “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn with no accompaniment — except for percussion played with empty margarine tubs.

The performance, which is actually a cover of a cover, is currently on the front page of Reddit and is quickly going viral. The original cover was performed by Erato.

12-year-old Lennon also has some incredible guitar chops for someone her age, highlighted in the “I Won’t Give Up” cover below. Her sister Maisy is 8.

These Stella sisters definitely have their groove back. Do you think they’re destined for the big time? Let us know in the comments.

More About: viral videos, YouTube

Ellison and Catmull: You Can’t Copy Steve Jobs

Posted: 30 May 2012 06:59 PM PDT

Walt Mossberg, Ed Catmull and Larry Ellison

What made Steve Jobs unique? Seven months after the Apple CEO and founder passed away, two of his closest friends sat down with All Things D’s Walt Mossberg, who also knew Jobs for years, to affectionately reminisce and, in a way, define Jobs for future generations.

Pixar and Walt Disney Animation President Dr. Ed Catmull and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison agreed that Jobs was unique and not someone easily copied. Catmull said that to copy Steve would be “parody”. Ellison, though, did note that there were key characteristics that defined Jobs, including obsession, compulsion and genius.

Below are memories and memorable quotes about Steve Jobs from two men who, perhaps, new him best.

Ellison recounted how he met Steve Jobs. They were neighbors and the young Apple CEO had a pet peacock, which was actually a gift from his girlfriend. The bird wandered around the neighborhood and made it to Ellison’s house, making enough noise to wake him up. Ellison walked to Jobs’ house and complained. It soon became clear, however, that Jobs hated the bird as much as Ellison. The ever-persuasive Jobs soon had Ellison agreeing that he would back him up when Jobs told his girlfriend that their neighbor hated the bird.

Despite Jobs attention to detail in every part of Apple, Catmull said he was not present in Pixar story meetings. Apparently this was part of an agreement. Catmull added, however, that Jobs fully supported the Pixar team in what they were doing.

This much was clear as Ellison recalled how often Jobs would make him watch Toy Story 2 in his house while Pixar was still working on the film.

Ellison echoed Apple CEO Tim Cook’s statements from a day earlier about Job’s ability to change his mind. Ellison occasionally lapsed into present tense when talking about the late Jobs: “He could be persuaded in meetings. When he's persuaded, he changed like that. He's very good at listening if he thinks you're full of it, he'll tell you.”

SEE ALSO: Now on iTunes: Free Steve Jobs Interviews

Catmull agreed: “He didn't respect somebody if they didn't have a point of view and push it hard.”

Ellison: “Jobs was not an insecure person. He knew he was a very smart guy”

Both Ellison and Catmull agreed that Jobs grew up and learned to be “less brutal.”

Ellison also believes that many young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have far greater control over their boards because of what happened to Steve Jobs in the 80′s when his own board fired him and supported then-CEO John Scully. “Apple dismissing Steve Jobs in favor of a guy whose only track record is flavored water,” said Ellison

When it came to what lessons a would-be Steve Jobs could take from the former Apple CEO’s life, Catmull and Ellison agreed that it wasn’t about being Steve Jobs, it was how they approached their own problems and decisions.

Catmull: “To copy is only parody in a way that wouldn't work: He was truly unique.”

Ellison suggested they ask themselves some basic questions. Do they get obsessed about an unresolved problem at work? “If you want to know if you're like Steve Jobs, it's very simple. You obsesses about a single problem until you solve it.”

Ellison also marveled at how, while not an engineer, Jobs could “understand the complete system, the gestalt, how to put the whole thing together. He would assemble these pieces into the iPod.”

Ellison: "If you have that kind of obsession combined with Picasso aesthetic and Edison's inventiveness, then you are the next Steve jobs"

Ellison: “He wasn't trying to be rich. He wasn't trying to be famous. He wasn't trying to be powerful. He was obsessed with the creative process and making great products.”

Apples entry into the retail store market prompted some rich memories.

Catmull said he didn't react negatively to the idea. “Steve wouldn't pursue something like that unless he was fully committed to make it exceptional”

Ellison though recalled being dragged repeatedly to the warehouse where Apple had built a mockup of an Apple store. At times he wanted to jump out of Jobs’ car. Ellison was not sold on the idea back then.

"Steve must really be stupid,” recalled Ellison. "Aren't you reading the newspapers?” he asked Jobs. “Brick and mortar is dead.” Jobs answered, “We're not using brick and mortar, we're using glass and steel.”

What are some of your favorite memories from Steve Job’s remarkable life? Share them in the comments.

More About: apple, Ed Catmull, Larry Ellison, oracle, steve jobs

How to Get the Most Out of the New Bitly

Posted: 30 May 2012 06:42 PM PDT

1. Bitmarks

This is Bitly's definition of its new bitmarks, which act as smart bookmarks that save to your Bitly profile. After you save a URL, Bitly files it as a bitmark and attaches data, such as shares, clicks and saves, which you may monitor in the stats section of your profile (more on that later). You may share your bitmark to the social networks you've connected to Bitly (Facebook and/or Twitter). Finally, you may also choose to file your bitmarks into one of your curated "bundles," another new Bitly feature.

Click here to view this gallery.

No longer a simple URL shortner, Bitly has expanded access to its data archive, improved discovery and introduced an entire redesign, so that you may more easily monitor your shortlink shares.

However, “easily” may be a misnomer — reactions to Bitly’s new redesign have been lackluster. That’s why we’re here to sift through the confusion with an overview of the Bitly basics.

SEE ALSO: Behind the Design of's Iconic Pufferfish

Learn how to use the service’s new “bitmark” tool, essentially a new way to organize and share bookmarks on the web. Find out how to organize and curate those bitmarks into “bundles,” wherein others might collaborate. And finally, learn how the heck to shorten a URL — after all, that’s what you used Bitly for in the first place, right?

Have you explored Bitly’s brand new site? Does the redesign add a valuable layer of data, or do you prefer Bitly’s former simplicity?

More About:, data, Facebook, features, How-To, Social Media, Twitter

Can Your Mobile Apps Be Trusted? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 30 May 2012 06:32 PM PDT

Mobile apps sure are handy little doodads, telling you what’s going on, where to go and who’s nearby. But can they be trusted with your privacy?

Facebook and Google aren’t the only connected services that should have your privacy antennae up. The mobile devices that travel with you nearly everywhere also gather plenty of dirt — and you might be surprised who else has access to that dirt.

What do you need to be aware of? According to the application security firm Veracode, there are four levels of risk to watch out for. Some apps with malicious code can access your data and device sensors. Other times, your information can be intercepted if you use mobile Wi-Fi. Jailbroken iPhone and Android apps can penetrate your operating system. And bad guys can use faulty firmware to gain administrative access to your device itself.

But people are beginning to become more aware of how and why to protect their privacy when it comes to mobile apps. In March, a class action lawsuit was filed against 18 companies including Facebook, Apple and Twitter for privacy negligence.

Why is mobile app privacy more important than ever? Simply put, apps are everywhere. In 2011, approximately 25 billion Android and iOS apps were downloaded and the mobile app market saw its millionth entry.

Veracode put together the infographic below to give a comprehensive rundown on mobile app security. Check it out, then share with us in the comments — How much attention do you give your mobile apps’ privacy settings?

More About: infographics, Mobile, mobile apps

Turn Your Foursquare Check-ins Into Jewelry

Posted: 30 May 2012 06:11 PM PDT

If your Busted Tees t-shirt isn’t screaming “I live and breathe the Internet”, you might want to accessorize.

Meshu, a San Francisco-based startup, makes jewelry in the pattern of your Foursquare check-ins.

After you connect your Foursquare account on Meshu’s website, you can choose to design a piece based on all of your check-ins worldwide, or by more modest regions (such as the U.S., or Miami Beach). You can eliminate any check-in spots to alter the shape to your taste.

When you’re done customizing your piece, you can have it made into a pair of earrings, a pendant necklace, a large necklace or cufflinks. Finished products cost between $75 and $150 and come in four different materials (acrylic, wood, nylon or silver) and a small range of neutral colors.

If you’re not particularly interested in having your Foursquare check-ins turned into jewelry, you can use the site’s app to create your own connect-the-dots design, or shop a gallery of pre-made items that includes jewelry linking the locations of U.S. National Parks (above) and San Francisco neighborhoods, among other territories.

Would you wear your check-ins on your sleeve, literally? Let us know in the comments.

More About: jewelry, meshu

Amercia the Meme: Why Romney’s Gaffe Won’t Die [PICS]

Posted: 30 May 2012 05:58 PM PDT


In case you couldn't find the typo, this photo clearly illustrates it.

Click here to view this gallery.

Mitt Romney’s digital team debuted “With Mitt,” an app that lets supporters share their support for the Republican presidential hopeful, on Tuesday. At first, the app received little fanfare.

By Tuesday night, however, the app’s users had drawn attention to one glaring mistake: one of the 14 text overlays available within the app stated that Romney is for “A Better Amercia.” Yes, you read that right: “Amercia.”

Romney’s digital team has already updated the app, but it is also learning a harsh lesson. On the Internet, nothing really ever goes away.

Not only was the term "Amercia" trending on Twitter in the U.S. Wednesday, but a viral Tumblr called Amercia Is With Mitt! was born. We’ve put several highlights from the Tumblr in the gallery above.

Have another great one? Submit it below, and we may add it to our highlights. You can also tweet your photo to @MashableHQ with the hashtag #Amercia.

More About: amercia, Mitt Romney

The United Nations, Controller of the Internet?

Posted: 30 May 2012 05:44 PM PDT

The United Nations will meet in Dubai this December to make a decision that could carry significant consequences for the future of all web users: Should the UN be granted more control over the Internet?

With the high-profile meeting looming at the end of this year’s calendar, key members of the U.S. government and private sector firms will meet with lawmakers Thursday to argue that the U.S. should work to defeat the proposal, which they consider a dangerous breach of existing norms.

Currently, the Internet is regulated in what’s called a “multi-stakeholder” model, with various private and public organizations each playing specific roles in keeping the its wheels spinning. Change that setup, argues the panel, and you put at risk the entire structure of the Internet.

"A top-down, centralized, international regulatory overlay is antithetical to the architecture of the Net, which is a global network of networks without borders," wrote FCC Commissioner and panel member Robert McDowell in the Wall Street Journal. "No government, let alone an intergovernmental body, can make engineering and economic decisions in lightning-fast Internet time.”

Countries in favor of the plan have argued that the organizations currently charged with oversight of the Internet, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, are too closely tied to the United States. Moving Internet regulatory authority to the UN, they argue, would democratize control over it.

However, some Internet privacy experts are concerned that giving censorship-heavy nations such as China more say in Internet regulation would have disastrous consequences for online free speech.

“Maybe it bothers you that the U.S. controls these major keys to the Internet, but I think it’s a good thing,” wrote Larry Seltzer for Byte. “Without control of these critical facilities, no international group of dictators can really exert much control outside of their own boundaries.”

Included in the panel will be Ambassador Philip Verveer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy; FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell; Ambassador David A. Gross, Former U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy; Sally Shipman Wentworth, Senior Manager of Public Policy at the Internet Society and Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google.

The House subcommittee panel will be broadcast via the web at 10:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, May 31.

How should the Internet be regulated? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Olena_T

More About: internet, Politics, UN, United Nations, US, World

Now on iTunes: Free Steve Jobs Interviews

Posted: 30 May 2012 05:36 PM PDT

Walt Mossberg and Steve Jobs

Some of Steve Jobs’ best interviews were on the All Things D stage. Starting in 2003, the iconic Apple co-founder and former CEO sat with the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher for six interviews at the annual southern California tech and business event.

Now all of those interviews are being made available as free downloads on iTunes (Audio only).

The new download option (you can find many, but not all, of these clips as online streaming video), was announced during a special Steve Jobs tribute panel called “The Lessons of Steve Jobs.” The panel featured two of the Apple founders’ long-time friends Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Dr. Ed Catmull, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. The result of a collaborative effort between Apple and All Things D, this content will be offered in video and audio-only form.

Jobs, who died after a long battle with cancer in October, was funny, outrageous, sometimes combative and often playful in these chats. During a now-famous interview with longtime friend and rival Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates, Jobs joked that they had been keeping their marriage a secret for 10 years.

SEE ALSO: Tim Cook: Steve Jobs Convinced Me to Work for Apple in 5 Minutes

Unlike Jobs’ carefully scripted product rollouts at Apple's headquarters and in San Francisco, during these talks, Jobs had to contend with Swisher and Mossberg, who could react and sometimes ask tough questions. He also occasionally used it as a platform to introduce products (Airport) or offer a brief sneak peek (a flash of the first iPhone).

Overall, they're a treasure-trove of priceless moments — and now everyone can watch them at their leisure.

Will you download them all and have a Steve Jobs clip fest? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, steve jobs

GoPago Lets You Order, Pay for Lunch on Your Phone

Posted: 30 May 2012 04:38 PM PDT

Lunch line a little long at your favorite sandwich shop? Soon you may be able to order your lunch from your phone while you’re headed to the shop, pay for it, and breeze past the line to pick up your meal rather than wait thanks to a mobile payment service called GoPago.

Starting this week the app is also running a promotion called Heros, which give you $10 to spend on that lunch and the ability to be the hero of your group of friends and give $10 for lunch to anyone you want for free.

What is GoPago?

From a customer perspective, GoPago is a way to make buying your next lunch a little easier. Once you’ve linked a credit card with the app you can log in, check out the menu for restaurants near you, and place an order for what strikes your fancy including any special requests like extra mustard.

Once it receives your order the restaurant accepts it, and then lets you know how long the wait will be. For instance, if the restaurant currently has no line it might tell you your lunch will be ready in 5. If the line is out the door, then you might be quoted a 30 minute wait time. Restaurants can also refuse orders if they’re too swamped to get to your order, or are out of things that you’ve requested. They can also suggest substitutions or ask you questions about your order.

Since the app lets you pay for your meal as well as order it, when it comes time to pick up your lunch you can go right to the pickup window and grab your meal.

The service can be used for any type of merchant, so you could also use it to schedule and pay for your next haircut or even buy a pair of shoes.

Founded in 2009, the San Francisco based company works with merchants in San Francisco and Mountain View, Calif. and the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The service currently has 240 live merchants in San Francisco, with plans to expand that number to 550 next month. It also has 200 merchants signed up and ready to go in Dallas in July, more than 800 for Chicago at the beginning of November, and 1400 set to go in NYC on December 1.

A Win For Merchants

While definitely a nice service for customers, the real win with GoPago comes form the merchant side. In addition to being able help customers more efficiently, the service keeps track of what customers have been in the store today, what they purchased, and how many times they’ve shopped using GoPago. The app also has the ability to report what customers have looked at a particular merchant, so if you’re always menu shopping at a local ice cream shop the shop will know and can reach out to you to suggest you come in.

"We believe that merchants greatest asset are their customer," Leo Rocco, Founder and CEO of GoPago told Mashable. The company sees its tools as empowering merchants and giving them the ability to directly connect with customers they might have otherwise lost or never had.

As a merchant you can give customers cash to spend in your store on the fly. So, if you see that someone has been checking out your menu but has never stopped in, you can offer them some cash to give you a shot. Likewise, if you see a customer regularly shops with you then you can give him or her some money to get a drink or item on you for being so loyal.

In addition to keeping track of who’s shopping, the app on merchant side also keeps an accurate account of what people are buying, even those not using GoPago. Rocco says that many merchants have opted to replace their point of sale program entirely with GoPago "They want to take our point of sale system and use our reporting, because our reporting is a lot better than what they’re used to,” he says.

GoPago has partnered with JPMorgan Chase, and the bank is giving merchants who bank with them free Motorola Xoom tablets to get started using the service.

More than just a tool for small businesses, GoPago also offers some unique marketing options for larger businesses including Chase who plans to use the app to reward its own customers for making purchases. The app could also ultimately be used by big brands such as Coke, to offer free drinks to certain users.

Be a Hero

The hero program is an expansion of the function that allows merchants to gift customers, and puts the power of gifting in the hands of the customers themselves making them a hero for their group of friends. Individuals are given a code, that they can then distribute to friends and share an offer for an allotted amount of time. For instance, a person might be given the ability to give people a free cup of coffee with a code for 24 hours, with everyone using the promo code being given the ability to get their next cup of joe for free for a day.

The Hero program launched this week, and currently the app is offering a free lunch to anyone who signs up with a code. If you want to give it a whirl, you can have a $10 lunch -– or any other meal you choose — by entering the promo code Mashable into the app when you sign up (or from the More tab on your profile page if you’re already a GoPago user). The promo code is only good for 48 hours, so if you want to give it a try with the free cash, you’ll want to do it soon.

What do you think of GoPago? How do you think it compares to other mobile payment apps? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: GoPago, Mobile, mobile payment

Google: Knowledge Graph is Making You Search More

Posted: 30 May 2012 04:37 PM PDT

Google revamped its core product — search — in a major way a couple of weeks ago. Now it looks like the change is paying off.

Since the introduction of its Knowledge Graph on May 16, overall search activity has increased, Google representatives told The Wall Street Journal.

The company didn’t offer any numbers, but did say people are interacting more with their search results, and performing more searches.

SEE ALSO: Google Search Just Got 1,000 Times Smarter

One Google executive, Amit Singhal, said people were doing more with search partly because the new features were “stoking people’s curiosity.”

The Knowledge Graph (more generally known as “semantic search”) goes beyond matching search terms to pages. In short, it tries to discern the meaning of the phrase a person types in.

For example, if I’m searching for “Facebook movie,” Google infers I’m probably looking for information about The Social Network. It pulls data from open databases such as Freebase and Wikipedia to create a visual block of results to the right of my search results. Thumbnail images of the cast, and the movie poster, are shown alongside basic info about the movie.

SEE ALSO: How Google Searches the Entire Web in Half a Second [VIDEO]

Singhal said the increase in use of its product has benefits for others sites as well — if people are performing more searches, they’re visiting more non-Google sites via those links.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is only available for U.S.-based searches right now. Since the feature appears to be popular, however, it’ll likely spread to other English-language countries soon.

The Knowledge Graph and semantic search are tools within the larger trend of evolving search results. Services such as the Wolfram Alpha search engine, interfaces like Apple’s Siri and projects like IBM’s Watson are all designed to steer people to a small — or singular — number of useful results, as opposed to a grab bag of links that may or may not be what you’re actually looking for.

Have you been seeing Google’s Knowledge Graph in your search results? Do you think it’s affected how often you search? Share your experiences in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alija

More About: Google, semantic search

Social Media Day Is June 30. How Will You Celebrate?

Posted: 30 May 2012 04:11 PM PDT

Social Media Day is exactly one month away!  On Saturday, June 30, digital enthusiasts will hold meetups across the globe to celebrate the one thing that unites us and keeps us in constant contact: social media.

Whether you’re an obsessed Instagram photographer, an endless Pinterest pinner or a ten-times-an-hour tweeter, Social Media Day is a time to recognize the digital revolution that has changed how we live.

How Will You Celebrate?

Social Media Day will be a truly international event. Mashable community organizers are already hard at work planning events in hundreds of cities worldwide.

The meetup in Swindon, U.K. will feature presentations about social media strategy as well as a speed networking session. Thousands of miles away in the United States, a celebration dedicated to startups will be held in Detroit.

We want to know: How are you celebrating Social Media Day? Will you organize a Foursquare scavenger hunt? Attend a fast-paced panel discussion about social media branding? Play Pinterest-inspired hopscotch? The possibilites are endless, and we want you to get creative!

Tell us what you’ve got planned for Social Media Day in the comments below.  We look forward to hearing what you have in store!

Ways You Can Participate

  • Check out the Social Media Day website for resources and more information.
  • Sign up to attend or organize your own event on the Mashable Meetup Everywhere page.
  • Use the #smday hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and any other social network of your choice.
  • Find your Mashable Meetup community:

Image courtesy of flickr, ancawonka

Social Media Day 2012 Is Presented By Motorola Mobility


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What’s Your Connected Fitness Routine?

Posted: 30 May 2012 03:57 PM PDT

The calendar is approaching summer, presenting an excellent opportunity to get outside and be active, especially for those of us who spend our days behind computer screens.

One of the gifts that technology has given us is the ability to train smarter. Apps such as Fitocracy and devices such as FitBit and Nike FuelBand enable us to better understand our workouts, and track our progress and goals. And social media can be a useful tool for keeping us on track, as well. Never before has it been possible to have so many people available keeping you accountable.

SEE ALSO: 5 Fitness Brands Kicking Butt on Social Media

Of course, there’s more than one way to do this, so along with our partners at CNN iReport, we want you to show us how you add an element of technology to your fitness routine. Here’s how you can get involved.

  • Take a photo or video that shows your workout.
  • Take a photo or video that shows us what technology you’re using to supplement your workout.
  • Upload your photos to iReport (you can get started by clicking the button at the bottom of this post). In the text, make sure you describe your fitness routine, explaining how the technology you’re using helps you stay on track or achieve your goals.

We can’t wait to be inspired by you. The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 11. The best responses could be featured on Mashable and CNN.

Image courtesy iStockphoto, amygdala_imagery

More About: community, fitness, ireport, lifestyle

Adorable Kids Try to Read Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious [VIDEO]

Posted: 30 May 2012 03:25 PM PDT

Like Mary Poppins swooping in to bring joy to children, two volunteer English teachers recently descended on a rural Cambodian school for three weeks, at one point challenging young students to recite a 34-letter word.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, wrote Mathieu Cuvelier and Lucy Crook.

The word — popularized by the 1964 Disney flick Mary Poppins — initially stumps the ABOUTAsia Schools students. But as the above clip from marketing agency The Viral Factory shows, the children eventually learn how to say the challenging word.

SEE ALSO: Boy Ages From Birth to 9 in 127 Seconds [VIDEO]

More About: Children, education, Movies, viral videos, YouTube

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Sorkin: Writing Jobs Biopic is ‘Terrifying’

Posted: 30 May 2012 03:07 PM PDT

Walt Mossberg and Aaron Sorkin on the D10 Stage

If you were expected to see all of Steve Jobs life on screen when the movie based on the Walter Isaacson biography hits screens, you may be disappointed. Aaron Sorkin, the screen writer who brought you The Social Network, The West Wing, HBO’s upcoming Newsroom series and has been tapped to pen the Jobs Biopic said that though it’s hard to shake cradle-to-grave structure of biography, he is probably not going to write a screenplay that adheres to that structure. “I’m probably going to identify point of fiction that interest me and dramatize that.”

Sorkin did not elaborate on which part of the 650-page book he’d be choosing and that’s likely because his is, Sorkin said, at the very beginning of the process. It is a process, by the way, that terrifies Sorkin. He told Walt Mossberg at the 10th Annual All Things D conference in southern California that one of the key hesitations in accepting this job was “that it was a little like writing about the Beatles. So many people out there that know so much about [Jobs].” The brainy screenwriter said he fully expects people to call him out on things he leaves out or, by their measure, misunderstands.

“All I can say at this early stage of the game is that any time you see, ‘the following is a true story,’ you should think of it as a painting, not a photograph.”

And what kind of painting will it be? Sorkin called Job’s a “complicated man,” but seemed to define him largely as a hero; a potentially flawed one, but still a hero. Calling himself a tech illiterate, Sorkin is well aware of Jobs impact and marveled at how, while he’s something of a tech illiterate a three-year-old can pick up an iPad and instantly know how to use it. “If I could ask Steve jobs any questions right now,” said Sorkin, “I would ask him, ‘What's that magic trick? How does that work?"

The Walter Isaacson Bio adaption is not the only Jobs movie in the pipeline. Ashton Kutcher’s indie pic is on the way, as well. Sorkin, however, said there’s room for two Steve Jobs films. But while that first film has its Jobs (Kutcher), casting hasn’t begun on Sorkin’s film. Even so, Sorkin can identify at least one key attribute that actor who plays the late Apple founder must have. “They're going to have to talk fast and going to have to be smart. A lot of things actors can fake, but not intelligence,” said Sorkin.

It sounds like the field is wide open for what Sorkin will add and remove from his Steve Jobs script. Let’s give him a hand. Describe in the comments the biography moments and characters you would and would not include if you were writing the Steve Jobs bio screenplay.

More from the D10 Conference: Zynga Wants to Be a Mobile Gaming Network

More About: Aaron Sorkin, apple, steve jobs

Judge Demands U.S. Hands Over Kim Dotcom Megaupload Evidence

Posted: 30 May 2012 02:45 PM PDT

A New Zealand judge demanded Wednesday that the United States fork over evidence in its case against Kim Dotcom, the enigmatic founder of file-sharing service Megaupload.

Authorities in New Zealand are currently weighing an extradition request from the United States, which wants Dotcom to stand trial for allegations of copyright infringement and related crimes. Dotcom’s defense requested the U.S. send their evidence for its use in the extradition hearing, according to the BBC.

The U.S. had initially refused to do so, but New Zealand District Court’s Judge David Harvey said that extradition hearings need to see the evidence to be “properly informed,” adding that Dotcom’s hearing was in danger of becoming “one-sided” if the U.S. didn’t comply.

The evidence in question was gathered during an information-collecting campaign carried out by the United States in nine different countries.

SEE ALSO: Anonymous Attacks Justice Dept as FBI Shuts Down File-Sharing Site

Megaupload met its demise earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven of the site’s staff, including Dotcom. The site’s staff have been accused by the U.S. of taking part in the "Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale." New Zealand authorities raided Dotcom’s lavish mansion, arresting him and several others.

The U.S. submitted their extradition request soon afterwards, but the process is legally complex and can take months or even years to resolve. Dotcom’s extradition hearing is scheduled for August. He’s been released on bail, and was freed from electronic monitoring equipment after New Zealand authorities decided he wasn’t going to flee the country.

The fate of data stored on MegaUpload’s servers, at least some of it legal, remains unknown. What should become of Dotcom and Megaupload’s data? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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

1. MegaRacer Domination Ends

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Kim Dotcom, megaupload, new zealand, US, World

Find a Digital Job in Real-Time at Mashable’s Online Career Expo

Posted: 30 May 2012 01:49 PM PDT

Mashable is excited to announce its first ever online career expo, an event that will bring together job seekers and employers in the digital space without leaving your laptop.

The event, created in partnership with Brazen Careerist, will take place on July 31 and consist of a 3-hour online career fair where employers from New York to Washington, D.C. can interact with professionals looking for positions in areas like social media marketing, product management, web development, content creation and more.

Early registration for both employers and job seekers is now open. Space is limited, so sign up today to make sure you get a spot.

Here's how the career expo will work:

  • Employers and job seekers from Washington D.C. to New York City (including Baltimore and Philadelphia) will sign up through our partner, Brazen Careerist.
  • Participating employers will get a fully customized page where they can list opportunities and share information about their company.
  • During the career expo on July 31, one-on-one real-time chat will connect employers and job seekers, and allow them to quickly share resumes, background and social profiles.

The online career expo builds on Mashable's ongoing commitment to connect the best careers and candidates in digital. Our job board lists hundreds of current opportunities, and our editorial team consistently offers resources ranging from "The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn" to "6 Ways to Get a Tech Job Without a Tech Degree." We think the online career expo adds a new, real-time twist to the digital career space, and hope to bring it to more regions in the future.

More About: jobs

Flipboard Launches Android Beta

Posted: 30 May 2012 01:39 PM PDT


Android owners rejoice: social newsreading app Flipboard is headed your way. The company opened up a private beta program for Android phones Wednesday.

To sign up, head on over to Flipboard will email you instructions so you can set up the beta version on your phone.

As rumored, Flipboard for Android will first become available on Samsung Galaxy S III devices, which are expected to arrive in the U.S. any week now.

The app will come pre-loaded on some devices, depending on the carrier, and be made available for other Android devices later this summer.

Flipboard first launched as an iPad app in July 2010, waiting a full year-and-a-half before releasing a version for iPhone devices. The former is formatted like a magazine; the latter displays a scrolling list of thumbnails designed for news consumption on the go.

Given the similarity in screen sizes, it’s fair to expect that the Android edition will be similar to the one iPhone users know and love. Still, we can expect some degree of re-engineering. "The iPhone app was almost a completely new product,” CEO Mike McCue said at the time of Flipboard for iPhone’s launch.

“If we were to go to another platform you'd see a similar level of thinking go into the experience."

Android users, have you been waiting for this one? Let us know in the comments.

More About: android, Flipboard, Samsung Galaxy S III

Soccer! Lasers! Stormtroopers! The Best Goal Celebrations Ever [VIDEO]

Posted: 30 May 2012 01:33 PM PDT

What happens when you take the best goal celebrations from soccer stars, then add Stormtroopers, laser beams and other effects along with a rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack? Pretty much the best YouTube sports video of all time, that’s what.

In the video above, CGI has added all kinds of surprises to the standard post-goal revelry. The editing is so slick, it almost looks real. Except that we all know Stormtroopers have no place on the soccer pitch and players don’t usually light joints immediately after scoring. But still.

The mashup has gone mega-viral on YouTube, racking up more than 1.2 million views since being posted Sunday. It appears to have been created by a French ad agency called Buzzman.

Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: sports, viral videos, YouTube

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‘Politwoops’ Collects Politicians’ Deleted Tweets

Posted: 30 May 2012 01:10 PM PDT

In politics, there’s no taking back a gaffe or a misspoken comment — except on Twitter, where tweets can be deleted, forever lost in Internet limbo. But “Politwoops” is about to change all that.

A new site from the Sunlight Foundation will save politicians’ deleted tweets for all the world to see, whether they were correcting a typo or they regretted sending a tweet they later realized was inappropriate — or worse.

Politwoops provides a simple, easy-to-read look at the deleted tweets of every member of congress using Twitter, plus those of President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney. The platform also shows a tweet’s lifespan from birth to deletion, which client was used to send each tweet and any thumbnails that were attached to a tweet. Users can respond to or retweet deleted tweets right from the site as well.

The Sunlight Foundation’s stated organizational goal is to make politics more accountable and transparent, and Politwoops reflects that mission. Politwoops will enable voters and journalists to hold politicians accountable for everything they tweet.

“In politics, Twitter is part of the ever-present 'spin room' of the digital age,” said Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Labs. “But unlike other mediums, the record of events can be edited; tweets deleted from are hard or impossible to see after the fact. Politwoops identifies when politicians or their staffs are editing errors or rephrasing a tweet, providing a window into what politicians are thinking and how campaigns hone their social media messaging."

The service could potentially capture errant tweets ranging from humorous faux-pas to more egregious mistakes — such as when Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) tweeted, then later deleted, a link to a Facebook poll asking, "Was Obama born in the United States?"

Politwoops works by tapping into Twitter’s API and constantly monitoring 435 politicians’ accounts. As the politicians tweet, the platform archives each message. If one of those tweets is later deleted, it gets featured on Politwoops. So far, the service has grabbed more than 3,000 deleted tweets from politicians.

The service was originally developed by Netherlands-based Open State Foundation, and has since been adopted in 12 other countries.

How will Politwoops change the way politicians use Twitter? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy Center for American Progress Action Fund, Flickr.

More About: Politics, Social Media, Twitter, US

Food Photography: How to Get the Best Shot

Posted: 30 May 2012 12:54 PM PDT

This article is brought to you by Samsung, from the company’s website. For more information about BrandSpeak, click here.

Sharing pictures of a terrific meal with friends on sites like Facebook or Picasa is a great way to show off your skills as a cook and a photographer. But taking a great picture of a Thanksgiving turkey or mouthwatering dessert can be tricky. Here's how to make sure your photos look as good as the food tastes.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Make Your Pics Pop

Why Is Food Different?

With all the vibrant colors and interesting textures that appear on a plate, you might think food would be easy to shoot, but it's not. Correct lighting is essential to bring out those colors, and it's all too easy to forget about composition and wind up with an uninteresting — or worse, unappetizing — photo. Fortunately, this is where a little education, practice and a quality camera can make all the difference.

Staging and Styling the Plate

A good food photograph begins before you even go to the grocery store: Plan ahead to buy garnishes, side dishes and tableware that will enhance your picture. Linens should be clean and pressed. Plates and bowls should complement the colors in the food you're serving, and garnishes should be used thoughtfully to add color and visual interest where it's needed. (That's why chefs use them, too!) Even a flower or a fork can make for a nice addition to your photo's composition.

Don't waste time with shot setup, however. Remember: Food is best photographed immediately when it is served. A flat soufflé makes for a flat picture as well.

Setting Your Camera

You don't want to waste time fumbling with the settings on your camera, so give them a bit of thought beforehand. Since you'll often shoot very close to the subject, you'll find that the “macro” mode will dramatically improve your pictures — macro is meant to be use when taking close-ups of small, detailed things, so your food pics will pop in this mode.

If you don't have a lot of light and want to avoid using a flash, you can increase the ISO setting, which increases the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor. Use a fast shutter speed if you're shooting in a high ISO mode, and grab a tripod — even a miniature, pocket-size model — to keep the camera steady and eliminate blur.

Composing the Shot

How you shoot depends on the dish: A turkey may require a shot that captures the entire bird. But the cranberry jelly may look its best with a close-up that gets just a quarter of the bowl in the picture along with a few stray berries on the tablecloth.

As always, experiment with your shots (just work fast), and remember this rule of thumb: Select the single most interesting element on each plate and emphasize that element with your shot.

Flash Do's and Don'ts

In any photograph, the flash can be your worst enemy, washing out the image and creating harsh shadows. This is particularly true with food, where a photograph can turn a bright green bean or a lovely maroon cranberry into a mushy image that reminds you of cafeteria food.

If the lighting in your dining room is dim, consider a change of scenery. Can you take the plate to a window, or to a brighter area, where a flash won't be needed? Sneak off to the kitchen and take a few shots in the (usually well-lighted) staging area before your volunteer waiter picks up the dish, or maybe grab a shot while the food is still cooking.

But if you can't get enough natural light on your dish, a flash may be required. If so, an indirect flash is your best option. Instead of aiming right at the food, point the flash upward and bounce the light off the ceiling for a softer, more natural effect.

What’s your pro tip for photographing food? Tell us in the comments below.

Check out Samsung’s original content about photography here.

Photo courtesy of Samsung, iStockphoto, nicolebranan, vfoto, Jamie Oliver

More About: BrandSpeak, features, Food, mashable, photography, Sponsored Post

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