Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Toshiba Unveils First-Ever Laptop with 21:9 Screen [HANDS ON]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Toshiba Unveils First-Ever Laptop with 21:9 Screen [HANDS ON]”

Toshiba Unveils First-Ever Laptop with 21:9 Screen [HANDS ON]

Posted: 05 Jun 2012 04:58 AM PDT


There’s something unusual about Toshiba‘s Satellite U845W laptop. Have a look at the pic — can you guess what it is? That’s right, the new Toshiba has a screen with an “ultra-wide” aspect ratio of 21:9, perfect for watching many blockbuster movies.

The U845W is an Ultrabook, meaning it’s an ultra-thin design that packs Intel Core processors, in this case the third-generation chips (a.k.a. Ivy Bridge). You can configure it with either 256GB solid-state drive or a 500GB hard disk that’s paired with a 32GB SSD for the rapid booting and wake-up that’s a hallmark of the Ultrabook label.

Back to the screen: It’s 14.4-inch display with a 1,792 x 768 resolution. Toshiba picked the 21:9 aspect ratio for movies, obviously, and many of the big-ticket flicks (like Battleship) are shot in that cinematic format.

However, the wide screen may have other benefits as well. Toshiba suggests stretching things out horizontally is actually more conducive to multitasking, and it’s thrown in a special feature on the U845W to make that easier. Toshiba’s Split Screen Utility has pre-configured the screen for multiple windows, so when you drag an app to one of the predetermined areas, it’ll automatically resize itself to fit, and not a pixel of space is wasted.

In our brief hands-on with the U845W, we couldn’t really tell if the split screens actually made the thing more efficient for work, but we can tell you this: This sucker plays loud. It boasts Harman Kardon speakers, enhanced with SRS Premium Sound 3D audio processing, and when we watched a trailer for The Bourne Legacy on the laptop, it nearly blew our ears off — and that was at about half maximum volume.

SEE ALSO: Toshiba's Touchscreen All-in-One: The Perfect Windows 8 PC? [HANDS ON]

The screen is beautifully bright and sharp, and even though the 768 pixels of vertical resolution is technically less than 1080p, you weren’t going to use those pixels anyway if you were to watch a 21:9 movie on a “true” HD display. Rounding out the specs, it has HDMI and Ethernet ports, 3 USB ports and up to 8GB of RAM. The lightest configuration is 3.5 pounds, and it’s 0.82 inches thick. It starts at $1,000

Toshiba also unveiled two other Ultrabooks today: First up, the Satellite U845 is a budget design with a 500GB hard disk (plus either 16GB or 32GB of Flash memory) and a 14-inch screen that starts at $750. Then there’s the Portégé Z935, an extremely thin (0.63 inches thick) and light (2.5 pounds) design that boasts Ivy Bridge processors and eight-hour battery life. That one starts at $900.

What do you think of Toshiba’s latest Ultrabooks? Does the cinematic screen sound like something you’d use? Sound off in the comments.

Toshiba Satellite U845W Ultrabook

The Toshiba U845W has a 21:9 screen for watching movies with "cinematic" aspect ratios.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Toshiba, Ultrabook, Ultrabooks

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The Many Tablets of Computex and Two Other Stories You Need to Know

Posted: 05 Jun 2012 04:46 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.

More Than 20 Intel-Based Windows 8 Tablets in the Works

PC manufacturers are racing to show their tablets at this year’s Computex, with Asus and Acer being the first to launch a myriad of devices, including the enormous Asus Transformer AiO and Acer’s dockable Iconia W700.

Samsung has also launched several very interesting devices, most notably the Series 5 Hybrid PC, a Windows 8 tablet with a magnetic keyboard dock.

That’s not all, though — Intel has announced at least 20 more Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets are coming this year. Windows 8 is officially coming out in late 2012, meaning that next year will be very interesting when the tablet market is concerned.

Microsoft to Retire Zune Brand

Microsoft is retiring its Zune brand in favor of the better-known XboX, the New York Times reports. Zune Music customers will still have access to their playlists through the new Xbox Music service.

Apple Reportedly Preparing a Huge Mac Overhaul at WWDC

Apple might be upgrading four out of five Mac lines at this year’s WWDC, which runs from June 11 – 15 in San Francisco. The most likely culprits, reports say, are the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and the iMac, and either Mac mini or Mac Pro will get a much-needed update, too.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: features, first to know series, intel, mashable, tablets

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Apple to Update Nearly All Macs at WWDC [REPORT]

Posted: 05 Jun 2012 02:13 AM PDT

Apple plans to launch an updated version of several devices in its Mac lineup at its annual WWDC conference, 9to5Mac reports citing unnamed sources.

We’ve already heard reports of a thinner 15” MacBook Pro with a Retina display, and we’ve also heard Apple plans to launch a cheaper MacBook Air later this year. 9to5Mac‘s sources confirm updates to both lines though details about exact configurations are absent.

As for the rest of the updates, sources claim that 4 out of 5 Apple Mac lines will get an update, with one likely candidate being the iMac, though it’s unclear if it will also get a higher resolution display. Other details are unknown.

This leaves the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. While both lines could use an upgrade, the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in years. Apple needs to either start refreshing its professional grade desktop system, or cutting it from its lineup altogether.

Apple’s WWDC conference runs from June 11 – 15 in San Francisco; the schedule is available here.

2003: iLife

At WWDC '03, Apple announced its first bundled suite of creative and media management software, iLife. It included iMovie, iTunes, iDVD and iWeb.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, mac, macbook, trending, wwdc

Denny’s Launches Nationwide Checkin Challenge

Posted: 05 Jun 2012 01:59 AM PDT

In conjunction with the release of its first mobile app, Denny’s is offering free Grand Slam breakfasts for a year to groups that check in to Denny’s locations in all 50 states.

To participate, individuals need to install Denny’s app for iPhone or Android devices. Users can forms teams of up to three by sending invites through the app. Can’t find a teammate? Solo users are welcome to compete for the grand prize: free Grand Slams for life to the first person to check in to a Denny’s in every state.

Those whose lifestyles may not allow them to embark on a nationwide eating venture can still use the app to win a variety of loyalty-based prizes and virtual badges. Users who check in to a Denny’s location 10 times will receive 10% off their checks, as an example. Twenty-five checkins merits a free “Pancake Puppies” sundae. Additional discounts are available to groups who check in together.

“We chose to develop our own app… because it allowed us more flexibility and functionality for future mobile campaigns,” Frances Allen, chief marketing officer of Denny’s Corporation, said of the company’s decision to create its own checkin app rather than partner with Foursquare or SCVNGR. Denny’s also wanted to be able to tie in loyalty rewards with its menus and a restaurant locator, Allen added.

Beyond loyalty-based rewards, the app offers a variety of other standard fare, including access to Denny’s menu, nutritional information (might be an area to skip, actually…), a restaurant locator and a list of specials.

The app was developed in conjunction with New York ad agency Gotham and interactive media developer Rain.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Joits

More About: Android App, Denny's, iphone app

President Barack Obama ‘Sings’ Call Me Maybe

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 08:48 PM PDT

It’s the endlessly viral song that won’t seem to die. President Obama is the latest to join in on the “Call Me Maybe” trend. The President unknowingly performs the song via a clever mashup from YouTube channel baracksdubs. This isn’t the first time Obama’s appeared in a spoof of “Call Me Maybe.”

Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” has taken on a life of its own and inspired multiple re-imaginings and spin-offs. The trend of college sports teams performing the crazy catchy song started with the Harvard baseball team. Soon, sports teams all over were joining in.

SEE ALSO: Watch 11 Sports Teams Rock Out to 'Call Me Maybe' [VIDEOS]

Other memorable renditions included the quirky video from the Miss USA contestants and Donald Trump.

There seems to be no end in sight for “Call Me Maybe.” How do you want to see the catchy pop song re-incarnated next?

More About: barack obama, Call Me Maybe, Entertainment, Music, obama

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Sony Announces an Interactive Book Controller, New Games at E3 2012

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 08:31 PM PDT

Sony’s E3 press conference kicked off in Sony style Monday evening in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

"We have the most passionate consumers in the world, " Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment said as he took the stage to kick off Sony’s event. "If you don’t believe me, talk to some of the people who started lining up at 4 p.m. yesterday."

To kick things off Quantic Dream -– the studio behind Heavy Rain — took the stage to talk about its newest game: Beyond. More details will be released about the game in the coming months, however today the studio announced the actress who will be playing the main character in the game Jodie Holmes: Ellen Page.

Next up was PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Originally announced in late April, today the game was announced for PlayStation Vita and will be cross-compatible with PlayStation3.

The company demo’d the game on stage with some players playing on the PS3 and others playing on the PS Vita to show off how the game can be played on both consoles simultaneously. The game also supports cross-save, so you can start playing the game on your PS3 and then finish your game later on the PlayStation Vita.

PlayStation and PlayStation Vita

As expected, Sony spent a lot of time talking about its handheld console the PlayStation Vita

PS One Classics are going to be coming to PlayStation Vita this summer, including popular titles such as Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.

Last week Sony announced YouTube was coming to Vita, now it is announcing Hulu Plus and Crackle will also be coming to the handheld console.

Assassin’s Creed II: Liberation is also headed to the Vita. Liberation features the first-ever female assassin, and can utilize cross-goods and exclusive content by linking together the PS3 and PS Vita titles.

The game is set to launch October 30, and will be available in a special Vita bundle with the first white Wi-Fi Vita as well as the game.

Assassin’s Creed III will also be available for the PS3 on its own and part of a bundle with a PlayStation 3 and exclusive downloadable content. Another third-generation game FarCry3 was also shown off, showing a new four-player co-op mode.


Just because you’re playing a video game doesn’t mean you can’t read a book at the same time, right? On the hardware side of things, PlayStation announced Wonderbook, an interactive book that allows you to interact with what you’re reading on your television.

The first title for the Wonderbook will be called Book of Spells, a Harry Potter-themed title with content written by Potter creator J.K Rowling.

What do you think about Sony’s E3 announcements? Were you hoping for anything that didn’t happen? Excited about something that did? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: E3 2012, playstation, PlayStation Vita, sony

Should Pre-Teens Be on Facebook? [POLL]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 08:15 PM PDT

Get ready for friend requests from pre-teens.

The news that Facebook might be considering a membership option for children under 13 is garnering plenty of reaction from parents and online safety advocates.

Many underage kids are using Facebook already, often with their parent's help. A recent Consumer Reports study estimated that 7.5 million children under 13 are already using the social network.

Even among the parents who knew about their kids’ Facebook accounts, only 18% had friended them — which would be one of the most basic steps you can take to monitor your kids’ Facebook useage.

Facebook is well aware of the problem. The company told Mashable in a statement: "recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services."

So is an under-13 category a sure thing? Not so fast. Facebook also says it’s in "continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."

SEE ALSO: Study Says Facebook Privacy Concerns Are on the Rise -– Is It Accurate?

Many parents believe it is up to them to keep their kids safe online. Cindy Van Alstyne, mother of a 12-year-old boy in northern New Jersey, told Mashable her son is not on Facebook. "Even if they did allow it, I would not do it," she says. “I want to wait as long as I possibly can."

She says her neighbors have kept their kids away from the social network for as long as possible. Still, sometimes you can't avoid it. Other parents say they feel pressured to let their kids join because their child's friends are on it — often with their parent's permission.

“It’s like the cell phone thing,” one Mom of a teenager told Mashable. The kids say, “but all my friends are using it, why can’t I?”

It’s hard to know when to bend the rules and when to remain vigilant. In the end, it’s up to the parents themselves to monitor what their children are doing. Van Alstyne says when she finally gives her son permission to sign up, "It would be my job to monitor what's going on.” That’s something she wishes other parents did as well.

What do you think about the Facebook age restrictions? Do you let your under-age kids use Facebook? Take our poll below, and let us know your take in the comments.

Facebook for Pre-Teens

More About: Facebook, parental control

Startup Offers Online Job Training With Industry Experts

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 08:01 PM PDT

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

Name: G5 Leadership

Quick Pitch: Online boot camp geared toward high-performance job training.

Genius Idea: G5 Leadership makes job training more accessible and affordable by recreating the traditional model. There are 12 live workshops a year available on the unique web platform from the world’s top thought leaders.

Traditional job training takes place in a conference room or a classroom in front of a Powerpoint presentation. These off-site training sessions are often costly and time consuming. On top of that — there’s no guarantee that the content will be high-quality.

G5 Leadership founders and training industry veterans Steven Smith and David Marcum — authors of Egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset — wanted to change the organizational model in place. About 35,000 members have signed on for the website’s unlimited $9.99 monthly or $99 annual subscriptions since the 2010 launch.

The startup offers live workshops directed by industry thought leaders and innovators. It’s a chance for anyone to brush up on skills such as time management, engagement and communication. Professionals can learn new skills at their own pace. All live broadcasts are available thereafter in a database.

The online startup calls itself “a gym for your career.” The trainers are top leaders who put users through the ringer. Shape-up tools include workbooks, quizzes and simple plans toward goals.

G5 faculty includes David Allen — a New York Times bestselling author and time management expert — who specializes in “getting things done.” Another regular is Fast Company magazine co-founder Bill Taylor who helps professionals get inspired. The founding editor of the award-winning magazine culls out lessons from starting his own business and exercises from his bestselling book, Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win.

“Traditional job training can be upwards of $30,000 a day,” says Stephanie Carter, G5′s director of public relations. “A lot of people never have an opportunity like that. We want to democratize training by spreading out memberships across thousands.”

g5 leadership map

G5 Leadership workshops look a lot like TEDTalks — except with lesson plans. Each live broadcast comes with workshops, apps, self-assessment tools and links to look through. Custom workshops are paired with related readings and instructions to put goals to work. Recent discussions include striking the right amount of confidence, perfecting the pitch and becoming a successful entrepreneur.

SEE ALSO: 10 Inspiring Quotes From Our Favorite TEDTalks

There’s an overwhelming amount of information online for free. However, what G5 Leadership offers is different, Carter says: “I like to use the analogy of a movie theater. We don’t make content in-house and push it. We provide a venue to show the best content out there.”

The subscription cost covers contracts for customized material from business leaders. It’s content that can’t be found anywhere else. G5 Leadership material is targeted and comes with a plan for results.

“We tell [presenters] to go deep into specialized content with practical application,” Carter says.

Events are available on the main website and can be viewed on tablets and smartphones.

Where do you turn online for inspiration or job performance advice? Tell us in the comments if you take advantage of self-improvement content on the web.

Image courtesy of iStock Photo

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, Business, startup

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20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 07:45 PM PDT

Basketball, and soccer, and hockey — oh my! The social TV waves dribbled, dropkicked and fouled along with a handful of sports programming this past week. The NBA conference finals are in a dead-heat; each of the four remaining teams has won two games out of five, so we’ve entered a sudden death situation (Thunder vs. Spurs, Celtics vs. Heat). The former game airs Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.

In entertainment news, the MTV Movie Awards aired Sunday night. Host Russell Brand welcomed viewers, proclaiming the two major film franchies of the night: Hunger Games and Twilight, the latter of which won Best Movie of the Year for Breaking Dawn. In particular, Twitter lit up when Johnny Depp was given the Generation Award. He celebrated by rocking out on guitar alongside The Black Keys and trading jabs with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

The data is compliments of our friends at Trendrr, who measure specific TV show activity (mentions, likes, check-ins) across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Miso. To see daily rankings, check out Trendrr.TV.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, subjug

More About: Entertainment, infographics, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, Trendrr, TV

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‘Sim City Social’ Comes to Facebook This Month

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 07:29 PM PDT

Sim City Social will head to Facebook later this month, according to a Maxis representative who spoke during Electronic Arts’ 2012 E3 press conference.

This marks EA’s further expansion into the social space. They released The Sims on Facebook in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Sim City is Back — with Shades of Instagram and Occupy Wall Street

Sim City Social looks to be a direct competitor to Zynga’s Facebook title Cityville. EA will also release a new Sim City PC title in February, 2013.

Are you excited about a Sim City game on Facebook? Were you a fan of the original games? Let us know in the comments.

EA Sports

EA announced new social integration into their sports franchises, including Madden, FIFA and NBA Live.

Click here to view this gallery.

More Coverage from E3

Microsoft's E3 Press Conference Brings New Games, Services to the Console

Nintendo Shows Off Controller, Social Functions of Wii U [PICS]

Xbox SmartGlass Brings the Second Screen to Games and Videos

More About: cityville, e3, EA, sim city, sim city social

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PlayStation Announces Interactive Book Controller, Partners With J.K. Rowling For First Title

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 07:14 PM PDT

At its E3 press conference, PlayStation announced a new product called Wonderbook, an interactive book that works along with the PlayStation as a controller of sorts. The product puts a physical book in your hands, and brings stories to life, allowing you to explore and interact like never before.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, is behind the the first book to launch for Wonderbook, a title called Book of Spells. Complete with new content written by Rowling, the book allows you to learn “spells” and interact with your television through the PlayStation Move, using your controller as a wand.

Each chapter in the book teaches a essential skill needed to become a wizard. As you unlock each level a story will tell you a story about a Hogwarts student who didn’t live up to expectations.

"Wonderbook Book of Spells is the closets a Muggle can come to a real spellbook," Rowling said in a statement displayed during Sony’s E3 press conference. "I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other."

Moonbot Studios is working on a story for Wonderbook called Diggs Nightcrawler.

More About: harry potter, playstation, sony

4 Startups Revolutionizing Social Commerce

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 07:04 PM PDT

Michoel is Director of Platform and Product Strategy at Big Fuel, a social media agency. He is also an adviser at Social iQ Networks and VideoGenie and a frequent speaker at social media technology conferences and events. You can follow him @Twabbi.

In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg said, "If I had to guess, social commerce is next to blow up." He was right. Social media has changed the way we shop online, and the statistics confirm it. About 81% of consumers receive advice from friends and family relating to a product purchase through a social networking site. And the majority — about 74 % — of consumers rely on social networks to guide their purchases.

But the shift from e-commerce to s-commerce has only just begun. Revenues for the social commerce market are expected to reach $30 billion by 2015. This is due to multiple factors, including consumers spending more time on social networks, brands targeting consumers in the news feed (as opposed to fan pages) and advances in technology, such as mobile geo-location shopping apps and enterprise marketing tools.

But who’s vying for this space and what are they doing right? Here are four startups that are making e-commerce social in revolutionary ways.

1. Extole

Big Idea: Extole leverages the power of advocates at multiple touch points to enhance social commerce.

How it Works: Extole is turning one directional marketing on its head. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company is a consumer-to-consumer marketing platform that taps into the power of customer advocates to foster trusted word-of-mouth stories about a brand.

Advocates are targeted at key touch points such as Facebook fan pages, confirmation pages, account pages and dedicated emails. Then the advocates are invited to participate in a branded experience and are rewarded for social sharing. That, in turn, drives awareness and sales. Below is an example where Folica.com invites consumers to participate in a campaign.


2. 8thBridge

Big Idea: 8thBridge makes it possible to shop items found in stream on a site like Facebook.

How it Works: 8thBridge, head-quartered in Minneapolis, makes it possible for customers to shop where they socialize. Social Expressions, one of the company’s social apps, turns shoppers into advocates by making it easy for them to more specifically express how they feel about products and offers. For example, instead of ‘liking’ a product, consumers can now 'want', 'love' or 'own' the item of interest.

When people share a brand's products with their friends, Graphite converts them into "Shoppable Stories." The product appears in a friend's ticker and timeline like a video does, with a thumbnail image and a play button.

According to 8thBridge, Facebook users are 18 times more likely to engage a “Shoppable Story” than a link because links mean leaving Facebook (and who wants to do that?).

3. Chirpify

Big Idea: Chirpify taps into Twitter to stream social commerce — without devices or cards.

How it Works: While 8thBridge enhances s-commerce in Facebook, Chirpify takes e-commerce directly to the Twitter stream.

Chirpify turns tweets into transactions, enabling consumers and businesses to buy, sell and donate on Twitter. For brands the process is simple. First, create and tweet your offer with a product image. Second, shoppers reply with the word ‘buy.’ Third, once the customer registers with Chirpify, the transaction is automatically processed and the order is fulfilled. Customers can connect their PayPal account so the money is automatically deducted as they shop.

Below is an example of an organization using Chirpify to enable donations directly within their Twitter stream.

4. LocalResponse

Big Idea: LocalResponse mines consumers’ intent-based social broadcasting (such as check-ins) and in response provides real-time offers on mobile devices.

How it Works: LocalResponse, headquartered in New York City, is a social advertising platform that aggregates public posts and 'check-ins' across multiple platforms to help brands and businesses identify intent and respond to it. Brands and agencies use LocalResponse to leverage real-time inventory for mobile activation.

The platform embodies social, local, and mobile. Social by checking-in and broadcasting one's location, local by helping a national brand marketer reach someone on a local level, and mobile by converting people on their mobile device.

What makes LocalResponse unique is their declarative data set. Targeting data, such as, behavioral, demographic or contextual is usually approximated. LocalResponse’s platform is able to identify where someone is, when they are there, and what they are saying about it. Marketers act on the consumer’s real-time intent by converting people with exclusive offers or coupons via mobile at point-of-sale. Here’s a diagram that outlines this process.

These four startups are just the tip of the iceberg. As e-commerce becomes increasingly social, we will see dramatic changes in the way we think about our online shopping. Imagine this scenario: The cookie dough ice cream is running low. A microchip embedded in your freezer and connected to your Facebook account alerts you via Siri: "Your Haagen-Dazs chocolate chip cookie dough is running low—your friend Seth is a fan of Ben and Jerry's on Facebook and praised Chunky Monkey in a Tweet. Shall I order you a pint?"

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, andrearoad

More About: contributor, ecommerce, Facebook, features, social commerce

Facebook Will Disappear by 2020, Says Analyst

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 06:47 PM PDT

Facebook‘s sliding stock price has at least one hedge fund manager predicting a dismal decade ahead for the social network.

“In five to eight years they are going to disappear in the way that Yahoo has disappeared,” Ironfire Capital founder Eric Jackson told the CNBC show Squawk on the Street on Monday.

Yahoo is still making money, it’s still profitable, still has 13,000 employees working for it, but it’s 10% of the value that it was at the height of 2000,” Jackson added. “For all intents and purposes, it’s disappeared.”

So how exactly does Jackson see Facebook’s power eroding by decade’s end? He says it will be the continued emergence of the mobile web — and Facebook’s struggle to adapt to that paradigm shift.

“The world is moving faster, it’s getting more competitive, not less,” he said. “I think those who are dominant in their prior generation are really going to have a hard time moving into this newer generation.

“Facebook can buy a bunch of mobile companies, but they are still a big, fat website and that’s different from a mobile app.”

Facebook bought the wildly popular mobile photo-sharing app Instagram — which some saw as a potential rival — for $1 billion in April. Still, the company has acknowledged mobile as a potential stumbling block for sustained growth.

In its required initial pre-IPO disclosure of 35 “risk factors” released in February, the company admitted that as mobile use of Facebook and the web in general continues to expand, its ad-free mobile platform will become more problematic. In an amended filing in May, the company underscored that challenge again.

Facebook stock officially went on sale on May 18 at $38 per share. It closed Monday at $26.90.

Jackson sees Facebook as a member of the second of three generations of modern Internet companies. The first generation, highlighted by businesses such as Google and Yahoo, served as portals that organized and aggregated the web’s wealth of information. The second generation, most notably Facebook, capitalized on an emerging social web.

The third generation is made up of companies whose sole goal is leveraging and monetizing mobile users.

“When you look over these three generations, no matter how successful you are in one generation, you don’t seem to be able to translate that into success in the second generation, no matter how much money you have in the bank, no matter how many smart PhDs you have working for you,” Jackson says.

“Look at how Google has struggled moving into social, and I think Facebook is going to have the same kind of challenges moving into mobile.”

What do you think Facebook’s status will be in five years? Share your predictions in the comments.

More About: Facebook, facebook ipo

Play-A-Grill Retainer Plays MP3s From Your Mouth [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 06:27 PM PDT

Meet the Play-A-Grill. It’s the next evolution of both blinged-out mouth-wear and portable music.

Here’s how the Play-A-Grill works. First, insert the shiny, retainer-like device into your mouth. Then use a wire to connect your portable MP3 player to a vibrating motor and, finally, to the retainer. The vibrations run through your jawbone and become music you can hear in your head. You can skip back and forth to different songs by pressing your tongue against different parts of the retainer.

But don’t get too excited yet — the device currently only exists in prototype form. It was developed by Aisen Chacin, a student at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. She drew inspiration from the popular, jewelry-encrusted “grill” mouthpieces worn by some rappers.

The Play-A-Grill uses bone conduction to transmit sound, similar to how cochlear implants work for the hearing impaired.

While Chacin says the vibrations can be heard by Play-A-Grill users, they can’t be felt. But, she tells Time, "If the music is loud enough the concave shape of the palate makes the vibrations of bone conduction resonate, resulting in a mouth speaker."

Similar technology could have very useful applications for letting disabled people with restricted mobility control electronic devices. (Think, for example, of the “sip-and-puff” method used to control some motorized wheelchairs.)

Chacin says her invention also provides an interesting twist on one corner of the pop music universe.

“This piece of jewelry presents a perfect opportunity to merge an arbitrary music fashion object and reintroduce it as the music player itself,” she writes on her personal website.

Check out the video above for more information. Click here for a YouTube video of Chacin’s invention in action. And let us know in the comments — Do you think bone conduction can become a viable way to listen to music?

Thumbnail image courtesy aisencaro.com

More About: mp3, Music, Tech, Video

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How to Get the Gmail Address You Want

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 06:09 PM PDT

Gmail icon

So you want to sign up for Gmail (or change your username), but the Holy Grail of email addresses — Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com — is taken.

With more than 350 million users, it’s hard to grab a unique username on Gmail these days — especially one you can use for the long run. (Sorry XxXButt3rflyCuTee@gmail.com, it’s just not going to work out.)

But don’t despair entirely. Here are some tips for generating a viable and unique email address you’ll still want to use in three years.

1. Don’t Frustrate Yourself

Even if your desired address is no longer in use, you can’t get it. Gmail won’t let an identity be re-registered — ever. Instead of getting frustrated, move on to other options.

2. To Dot or Not to Dot

Despite the abundance of email addresses with firstname.lastname formatting, Gmail doesn’t distinguish between them. Emails like John.Smith and johnsmith and jo.hn.sm.ith are all the same username in Gmail’s eyes. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage.

If the email address you want is already taken in one format, it’s taken in all of them. But, with a little creative dot placement, you can turn an unclaimed username into one that works for you.

For example, if RonaldCCar@gmail.com is already taken, you can turn rccar@gmail.com into R.C.Car@gmail.com.

3. Get Creative

If you have a common name, try using your initials, middle name, or a nickname (though keep it memorable and professional). Some people have creative amalgamations of their names; Brandon Anderson becomes Branderson, for example. You can even add your profession in, like Marketer.Steve@gmail.com. Just avoid things that may be a little too weird or unprofessional for use down the line.

We also advise against putting your company in your personal username. You probably won’t be SterlingCooper.Peggy@gmail.com forever.

4. Register Your Own Domain

If this still isn’t working for you, you can register your own domain and use Google Apps instead.

Google Apps for Domains offers all functionality of a standard Google account (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Google+, etc.), but it’s mapped to a custom website. It costs about $10 to register your own domain and then set up Gmail as your email client.

Now you’ve got a cool email address like Jane@JaneDoe.com, but with all the Gmail goodness you’re used to.

5. Route Another Service Through Gmail

If you don’t want the trouble of setting up a custom domain but still want all those Googly features, you can set up an email address through a free service and route it through Gmail.

About.me is one great option. It comes with a handy About.me profile, which is a great web space for displaying your bio or portfolio. You can sync this to any Google account and use yourname@about.me as a Gmail address, assuming it’s available.

Got any ideas we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re already a Gmail power user, check out these tips and tricks to get the most out of your inbox.

1. Display Density

An easy fix, head to your Settings button and select a display density. "Compact" makes your inbox shrink down to a tidy, manageable list.

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More About: features, gmail, Google, username

Romney Campaign Makes Third Spelling Gaffe in a Week: It’s ‘Offical’

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 05:49 PM PDT

If you were running a major presidential campaign that just got slammed for misspelling America as “Amercia”, you might ask your staff to go through your campaign literature with a fine-tooth comb.

Especially your online campaign literature, where mistakes could be erased in seconds. At the very least, you might give your much-viewed Facebook presence a once-over.

Not so Mitt Romney. Less than a week after the Amercia gaffe, another two major spelling mistakes have emerged in the Romney campaign — one of them front and center on the candidate’s Facebook page.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Romney’s campaign store — the third link on his Facebook page, which has received more than 1.8 million Likes — lets you know you can buy the candidate’s “offical” gear. [UPDATED: Shortly after this story published, the link was removed.]

The typo was first spotted by alert Twitter user @typohunter, the nom de Twitter of San Diego developer and proofreader Kari Embree. And it’s becoming part of a pattern.

Also on Facebook this weekend, the Romney campaign offered readers a “sneak-peak” [sic] at the candidate’s forthcoming TV ad:

That ad has since been removed. But “offical” remains, front and center on Facebook. (If you click through to the store, meanwhile, “official” is spelled correctly.)

Of course, for most of us — English teachers excluded — none of this exactly rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. At most, Romney is guilty of not hiring a good copy editor. (Then again, how bad a speller does Romney’s social media manager have to be to not notice a mistake that prominent on Facebook?)

But image matters in presidential elections, more than it does anywhere else. When similar mistakes happen three times in the same week, it creates an expectation that can be hard to shift. Expect Romney’s spelling skills to become the butt of late-night talk show jokes. Dan Quayle can attest, and he only made one such prominent error (“potatoe”).

It’s also a problem when the candidate has spoken frequently of the urgent need to fix the U.S. education system. Romney also had this to say earlier this year to the American Society of News Editors: “Frankly, in some of the new media, I find myself missing the presence of editors to exercise quality control.”

Do you think spelling makes a difference when it comes to your online presence? Let us know in the comments.


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

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More About: Facebook, Mitt Romney, trending

Dead Cat Comes Back to Life as Morbid Helicopter [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 05:18 PM PDT

Not all cats have nine lives. Artist Bart Jansen found that out the hard way when a car ran over his pet cat.

As a tribute, the Dutch man resurrected the cat, Orville, turning him into an eerie flying helicopter equipped with propellers. He named the animal after aviator Orville Wright.

Jansen calls the furry gadget “Orvillecopter,” which is on display at the Kunstrai art festival in Amsterdam, The Daily Mail reports.

“This is Orvillecopter’s first test flight, Soon to be flying with the birds,” says the above video’s description on YouTube. “For the catlovers: it is a tanned hide, just like the shoes you’re wearing. For the RC lovers: it’s a Lotus T580 (still).”

Orvillecopter will undergo maintenance on its birthday to receive “more powerful engines and larger props.”

BONUS: More Cat Love on Tumblr

1. Cats. Where They Do Not Belong

From the creator: "I decided there is not enough internet space devoted to pictures of cats trying to fit into anything they can, so I have graciously decided to take on this challenge."

We thank you.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: cats, Gadgets, Tech, Video, viral videos, YouTube

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Samsung Galaxy S III vs. iPhone 4S: Which One Breaks First? [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 04:57 PM PDT

The Samung Galaxy S III has a lot of cool features, including a couple of “first evers” among smartphones, like its voice-activated wake-up feature. But is it just as revolutionary in its durability?

To find out, SquareTrade, an independent warranty provider, subjected Samsung’s hot new Android phone to a drop test. For comparison, it also dropped another hot phone with which you may be familiar: the iPhone 4S.

It’s actually a three-part test. First, SquareTrade dropped the phone from ear level — certainly a fair test since a drop while making a call is probably the worst case scenario because of the phone’s height above the ground. Next, they gave both phones to two small (and super-cute) kids, simulating what a toddler might do to a parent’s phone. (SquareTrade says one in four parents have had their kids damage their phone in some way.)

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S III: 6 'Human' Features

Finally it was time for the car test, letting both phones slip off the back trunk of a moving vehicle as it pulls away. One in 15 people have damaged their phones “in and around” their cars, according to the company.

So who wins? It’s actually a close one, with both phones sustaining damage in all three tests. However, the iPhone 4S came out with less wear and tear after two of the three tests. Samsung’s latest and greatest withstood the Attack of the Kids better than the iPhone, though — possibly due to its plastic back (the iPhone’s is glass).

How much punishment should a smartphone be able to withstand? And does any phone on the market impress you with its durability? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: 6 Ways to Kill Your iPad

With a Laser (and Flashlight)

So you think your new iPad is getting warm? Try handling it when a laser makes it burst into flames.

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More About: iphone, iPhone 4S, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S III

Animation Jokingly Explains the Queen’s Diamond ‘Ju-beer-lee’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 04:40 PM PDT

Confused about the uproar surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee? Don’t fret. Next Media Animation, a Taiwanese company known for creating funny and sometimes offensive animations that focus on current events, has uploaded a video that details the festivities in a humorous animation.

The short clip features cats and dogs falling from the sky to symbolize the rain that poured on British revelers while they celebrated the queen’s 60 years on the throne over the “ju-beer-lee weekend” in London.

SEE ALSO: Katie Couric Creates Spotify Playlist for Diamond Jubilee [AUDIO]

Fun stats are sprinkled throughout the video, so push play to increase your knowledge and laughter.

BONUS: More Animated Goodness in GIF Form

1. Abbey Road 2.0

The iconic Beatles' Abbey Road album cover comes to life.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: animation, humor, Video, World

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Nike, Microsoft Bring Nike+ Kinect Training to Your Living Room

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 04:25 PM PDT

Few of us will ever reach the athletic prowess of a Lebron James or Rafael Nadal, but now technology is ready to help us train a little more like these sports superstars. Nike announced Nike+ Kinect Training for Xbox 360 during Microsoft's E3 press conference on Monday. It's a custom training program specifically designed to help users, whatever their fitness level, reach their goals in the comfort of their own homes.

Using the Kinect motion sensor technology, virtual personal trainers can assess a user’s physical prowess, see what needs improvement and create a personalized workout plan for achieving that personal best. There's real-time feedback so if you're not performing up to snuff, you'll hear about it. After a few weeks of workouts, there’s a re-assessment.

There's also real-time motivation. The Nike trainers have worked with some of the work's greatest athletes, so they can deliver high-level expertise along with what Nike calls a "fun and inspiring" experience right in your home.

SEE ALSO: Xbox Music Will Bring 30 Million Tunes to Your TV, Smartphone, Tablet

Most of the other fitness and workout videogames keep the action in the home, but Nike+ Kinect Training will integrate with Nike's other systems, specifically the smartphone app and the Nike FuelBand, as well as Xbox Live. That way there’s always someone to train against, no matter the hour.

Nike+ Kinect Training will be available in time for the holidays.

What do you think of the Nike/Microsoft partnership? Would you use this training program to work out at home?

Here's a demo video of the Nike+ Kinect Training in action:

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, asiseeit

More About: fitness, microsoft, Nike, videogames

EA’s E3 Press Conference Brings New Games, Updates Existing Titles

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 03:50 PM PDT

EA Sports

EA announced new social integration into their sports franchises, including Madden, FIFA and NBA Live.

Click here to view this gallery.

With games ranging from the newest version of Madden to a version of Sim City you can play on Facebook, EA’s E3 2012 announcements introduced new games, and showcased updates and enhancements coming to titles you already know and love.

Check our our rundown of the highlights:

Dead Space 3: Set to be released in February 2013, Dead Space 3 builds off the existing Dead Space series, and will feature drop-in, drop-out co-op play with Isaac Clarke and his companion, John Carver.

Madden 2013: Now with an Infinity Engine, the game takes into account the size of a player so smaller players won’t easily be able to plow through larger ones. Hall of Fame NFL player Michael Irvine took the stage to talk about the game’s new Connected Career feature, that allows a player in the game to earn points and achieve different career milestones, ultimately earning a place in the Hall of Fame.

You can manage a virtual Twitter feed talked talks about your league. Accomplishments can be shared on Twitter and Facebook. Madden NFC Social, a game you can play on Facebook and your mobile phone – interchanging between the two as you like – will be available this fall.

Sim City: Sim City Social is also coming to Facebook, and a new Sim City is headed to the PC. The updated version of the game will have constructable worlds, simulation, data visualization, and a multi-player mode for playing the game along with others – the first multiplayer version of the game. Maxis is also running a contest to name the burger joint in the game by texting ‘SIMCITY’ to 44144.

Battlefield 3: Over 50 million people are playing the Battlefield worldwide. Now a new premium version of the game –in the form of 5 expansion packs — will offer hundreds of additional hours of gameplay as well as new vehicles, maps, and more. The packs are available $49.99, and will be released over the next 9 months with the first available today.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Star Wars: The Old Republic is adding both a new planet and a new species into the mix. This July everyone will be able to play Star Wars the Old Republic for free up through level 15.

Medal of Honor Warfighter: Set to hit store shelves on October 23, the game introduces 12 global fighters and all new exciting gameplay.

FIFA 2013: All returning FIFA ’12 players will carry these standings into FIFA 2013. Mobile versions on iPhone, iPad, and Android will connect to FIFA Football Club, allowing you to maintain an identity and accumulate rewards across devices.

UFC: EA and the UFC have signed a multi-year, multi-title deal to create a series of UFC fighting games.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted: An open-world driving game, the goal of the game is to become the "most wanted" in the game. Everything in the game is a competition. Everything you do earns speed points, which drive you up on the Most Wanted list where you can triumph over your friends. Launching October 30.

Crysis 3: Crysis's highly acclaimed sandbox gameplay returns in this sequel, offering more open levels to let you choose your path and approach and advanced weaponry.

What do you think of EA’s E3 announcements? In the comments, let us know what game or franchise excites you the most.

More About: e3, E3 2012, EA, electronic arts, madden, sim city social, Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sims social

MotoACTV Gets Social, Lets You Read Tweets While You Run

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 03:23 PM PDT

Fitness buffs who want to stay connected while working out might want to take the MotoACTV for a spin. The latest software update to Motorola’s fitness gadget adds the ability to get Tweets and Facebook wall posts directly on your screen. It can already send phone calls and texts to the tiny device.

The screen has been re-designed as well for easier navigation, along with new options for workout plans. You can set targets for different activities, like running, walking, spinning, or whatever else you like to do. Change up the pace by adding in a target heart rate for warm-up and cool-down as well.

Like other fitness gadgets, the MOTOACTV will track your route via your phone’s GPS. After your workout you can zoom in and pan out on route details to get a better look at where you’ve been. Then check your Facebook messages and tweets for a little support from the cheering section.

SEE ALSO: A Guide to Tracking Health & Fitness Online

To get the social component, go to the Google Play Store and search for MOTOACTV Facebook and Twitter. Install the plug-ins along with the latest version of the MOTOACTV app.

Do you need to be connected while you run or work out? Can you unplug while you unwind? Tell us about your exercise routine in the comments.

More About: fitness, MOTOACTV, trending

Crowdsourced Google Map Plots ‘Mad Men’ Hot Spots

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 03:05 PM PDT

Perhaps you’ve heard of Sex and the City walking tours of New York, during which a guide wheels you between Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment and Samantha Jones’ favorite sushi restaurant. But why spend upwards of $35 for a Hollywood tour when you can help create one yourself?

That’s precisely what WNYC did. Culture editor and interactive content producer Abbie Fentress Swanson created a Google map stocked full of New York City hot spots frequented by your favorite Mad Men characters.


“After the April 15 show, when Don told a taxi cab to let him off at 72nd and Park*, that's the fist inkling we have of where he might be living on the Upper East Side,” says Swanson. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool to do a crowdsourced map to provide an overview of where Mad Men takes place?”

Whether pinpointing the Francis mansion or plotting the Playboy Club, Swanson scoured every episode synopsis of every season since the series launched in 2007. But despite her research and genuine Mad Men fandom, she knew she wouldn’t be able to secure every single deli, bar and apartment by herself. So, she asked her readers to help out, and she’s hoping you’ll do the same.

Check out the map below and send an email to madmenmap@wnyc.org to add any Mad Men locations that might be missing. Be specific: Include the season, episode title and context for verification. For example, “In season one, episode three, Pete Campbell returns a duplicate wedding gift (the chip ‘n dip) to Bloomingdale’s on Third Ave.”

Swanson says she’s logged 58 entries total at the time of publication, and has even more emails coming in.

She hopes that the crowdsourced map can help people interact with New York City in a new way, while reliving their Mad Men memories, of course. “When I started going back to the pilot, I started thinking about where I was in 2007,” she says. “I think it’s really going to resonate with people.”

*In Sunday’s episode, we discovered Don and Megan’s actual address: 783 Park Ave.

Image courtesy of AMC, Frank Ockenfels, Google Map created by Abbie Fentress Swanson for WNYC.org

More About: Entertainment, Google, Google Maps, mad men, TV, viral

Mother Nature Network to Give Site Users A Way to Help the Planet [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 02:47 PM PDT

Mother Nature Network Points - 600

Think the hours you spend online reading articles and watching videos isn’t contributing anything to society? Now, the clicks you make can actually go toward important causes such as supporting local farmers or helping endangered animals.

Environmental news site Mother Nature Network is rolling out a program that rewards its readers with points for navigating the site that can be redeemed in the form of making charitable donations to environmental causes.

The program, which is set to come out of beta testing in the next few days, already has more than 15,000 registered users. Participating non-profits include National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust and Captain Planet.

Similar to gamification, members of MNN.com can earn points for doing simple actions. For example, users can click on an article (3 points), share one on Facebook or Twitter (5 points) sign up for a newsletter (10 points), write a blog (20 points) or upload a video to the site (20 points).

SEE ALSO: 5 Startups Infusing Social Good with Innovation

Members can also earn points for pledging certain actions such as eating more locally-grown food or encouraging kids to play outside more. Once 100 points are earned, you earn one “WorldShare” that can go to the participating organization of your choice.

Although MNN didn’t say how much money this would actually be, it will take part of the program sponsorship it receives from companies such as Coca-Coca, AT&T and Mercedes-Benz and contribute a percentage of that sum to the organization the user picks. (Since the site doesn’t have traditional advertising, it is working with various sponsors to help fund the program.)

“We wanted a way to reward readers for the time they spend on the site while helping the non-profits we already really care about,” Joel Babbit, CEO of Mother Nature Network, told Mashable. “We get regulars who log into the site daily and spend so much time navigating throughout, so we wanted to turn those actions into something good for the world.”

Babbit noted that user interaction and engagement during beta testing has been successful so far. The program will officially launch soon, he added.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, SondraP.

More About: mother nature network, social giving, Social Good, trending

Zimmerman Back in Jail After Raising Thousands Online

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 02:29 PM PDT

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, has been sent back to jail after failing to report that he raised a substantial sum via his website, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com.

During Zimmerman’s initial bail hearing, his wife claimed that the family didn’t have much wealth, prompting the judge to set the bail at $150,000. Zimmerman was subsequently released on bail and went into hiding at an undisclosed location to protect his personal well-being, according to the Associated Press.

However, Zimmerman’s legal team made it known during an interview last week that Zimmerman had raised at least $200,000 through online donations.

The prosecution in the case then claimed that Zimmerman raised $135,000 through donations collected on his site by the time of his bail hearing and collected another $69,000 afterwards. Prosecutors have also suggested that Zimmerman spoke to his wife about the online donations using code words while in custody to avoid tipping off authorities to the money’s existence.

For Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester, that was enough to revoke Zimmerman’s $150,000 bail and order him back into custody late last week. Zimmerman complied and returned to Seminole County Jail on Sunday afternoon.

SEE ALSO: Trayvon Martin's Killer Pleads for Support Online

Zimmerman’s legal team is arguing that their client failed to report the online donations because he was confused.

“While Mr. Zimmerman acknowledges that he allowed his financial situation to be misstated in court, the defense will emphasize that in all other regards, Mr. Zimmerman has been forthright and cooperative,” said Attorney Mark O’Mara, part of Zimmerman’s legal team, in a statement.

Zimmerman will remain in jail until at least next Monday due to scheduling and procedural reasons. His first website, which collected donations via PayPal, is now offline, and his legal team has started a new one as well as social media accounts in its place.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing Martin in a Sanford, Fla. community where Zimmerman was part of the neighborhood watch and Martin was a visitor. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and his defense is arguing self-defense. The highly emotional case set off a social media firestorm earlier this year, capturing the attention of the nation and the world. A change.org petition about the case became the fastest-growing proposal the site’s ever seen.

More About: george zimmerman, trayvon martin, US

Amazon Publishing Acquires Family-Owned Book Publisher

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 02:14 PM PDT

Amazon’s publishing division has acquired Avalon Books for an undisclosed sum, both companies announced shortly after the market close Monday.

The acquisition gives Amazon the rights to publish 3,000 backlist books primarily in the romance, mystery and western genres, none of which are yet available as digital editions. Holly Jacobs, Carolyn Hughey and Carolyn Brown are among the imprint’s better-known authors.

Amazon has been aggressively expanding its roster of original titles since Laurence Kirshbaum, previously the former CEO of Time Warner's book division and founder of a small but well-known literary agency, was named publisher last year. He has, among other things, launched several imprints composed primarily of original works from established genre authors during his tenure.

Avalon Books is a 62-year-old, family-owned company.

"I've been running Avalon Books — which was founded by my father — since 1995, and it is time for me to explore the next chapter of my life," publisher Ellen Bouregy Mickelsen said of her decision to sell the company.

Image courtesy of Flickr, 24oranges.nl

More About: amazon, avalon books, publishing

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Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference Brings New Games, Services to the Console

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 01:55 PM PDT

Microsoft Keynote

The line for the Microsoft E3 2012 keynote presentation.

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Microsoft kicked off E3 2012 with a bang on Monday, highlighting its biggest upcoming games, as well as its future plans for making the Xbox 360 the ultimate home entertainment device. This year Xbox went from being the number one selling console in North America to the hottest console worldwide.

So, what does the father of Xbox have planned for the year? Set to be "the biggest year for games in Xbox history," most of the presentation was centered around the new games headed to the console.

Starting things off with a look at Halo 4, immediately followed by a look a Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Microsoft’s press conference this year was all about the Xbox 360 and the games and new functionality Microsoft plans to add for the console over the coming year.

In sports games, Microsoft announced Madden NFL ’13 and FIFA ’13 are becoming more powerful with Kinect. During a demo of both games the formations of players were changed by voice command using the Kinect.

Joe Montana also took the stage to demo Madden NFL 13, which Microsoft says marks its biggest investment in franchise history. “This is actually pretty sweet,” Montana said after giving the game a test drive on the stage.

Other games shown off at the event include Gears of War Judgement, Forza Horizon, and sequels to popular franchises such as Dance Central and Call of Duty.

Beyond Games

More than just games, Microsoft announced a number of enhancements and new services that will be coming to the Xbox 360.

First up was its new music service, Xbox Music. With a library of over 30 million tracks, the service will be available not only the Xbox, but also Windows 8 PCs, tablets and phones presumably killing off Microsoft’s Zune service on those devices.

Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Univision and Machinima will add additional entertainment content to the Xbox lineup of apps.

Starting in the fall you’ll be able to search for videos on your Xbox by genre by simple asking your Xbox to find what you’re looking for. Asking your Xbox to show you comedies for instance, will load up

The NBA is coming to Xbox, with 2400 live games and highlights from your favorite teams., and the NHL will also be making an appearance on the console next season.

Nike has partnered with Microsoft to bring its Nike+ service to the Kinect. A personal trainer in your TV the service will not only let your know how you do during a workout, it will remind you when you’ve been slaking off.

Coming this Fall, Xbox SmartGlass allows you to send movies from your tablet to your television and pick up right where you left off watching. More than just for watching media, the functionality can also be used along with games to add a new level to gameplay. For instance, you could use your tablet to load up maps for a battle game you’re playing, or to load up new lineups for your football team.

What do you think of Microsoft’s E3 announcements? Were you hoping for something that didn’t get announced, or surprised by something that did? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: e3, E3 2012, microsoft, xbox, Xbox 360

We Found the Best Dog Website Ever: OMFGDogs

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 01:45 PM PDT

The rest of your day is going to go to the dogs.

In a hypnotic, ultra-cute style that can only be likened to Nyan Cat, OMFGDogs.com is just as addicting as it is colorful. A pack of dogs — with a Corgi leading the way and a burly sheepdog bringing up the rear — may just make your heart explode.

Where did this madness come from? We traced the development of OMFGDogs to a man only known as Dan. The Melbourne, Australia developer runs a small tech how-to outfit, [ESC]ism, and released OMFGDogs in a post published at the end of February. He says in the post that he didn’t make the GIF or the music, but, “I merely take the remix credit for combining the two (Yes, I am a horrible person :D).”

The GIF itself is credited to popular bit-artist and animator Paul Robertson. The invariably catchy chiptune music is actually an old Swedish pop song. OMFGDogs bubbled up and through Twitter since its inception, but it’s too good to keep a secret.

So sit back, relax, and let the dogs run free!

More About: dogs, GIFs, mashable, memes, nyan-cat, viral

Obama Senior Advisor Joins Twitter, Pushes for Equal Pay

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 01:33 PM PDT

Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s Senior Advisor for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, joined Twitter on Monday under the username @vj44.

She immediately went to work promoting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which calls for a closer government eye on companies’ salary data and giving salary negotiation assistance to women.

Jarrett was welcomed to Twitter by those on both sides of the asile, although some conservative tweeters used the plaform to attack Jarret’s record as well as that of the Obama administration. (See the Storify embed below for more details.)

Jarrett spent Monday morning responding to a handful of her Twitter followers, while other White House accounts also used social media to push the Paycheck Fairness Act using the hashtag #EqualPay. The bill is the latest in the “War on Women” saga that’s being fought by the Obama and Romney campaigns on social media and elsewhere in the political world.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday.

How can top government officials use Twitter to better interact with the public? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, World Economic Forum

More About: barack obama, Politics, Social Media, Twitter, US, White House

Internet Explorer Coming to Xbox

Posted: 04 Jun 2012 01:19 PM PDT

At E3 2012, Microsoft announced its plans to help complete a chapter it helped open more than 15 years ago with WebTV: Internet Explorer is coming to the Xbox.

Game consoles have had web browsers since the days of the Dreamcast, but the experience has remained resolutely terrible. Microsoft is hoping to change that by integrating Kinect Voice actions with the browser, as well as making your smartphone or tablet a remote control that can control the page you’re on.

To us, this approach is really smart. I’ve used a lot of TV web browsers over the years and the only experience I can actually stand using for any period of time is using my iPhone and HippoRemote Pro (iTunes link) to control the browsing experience of a Mac mini or Windows 7 HTPC.

Microsoft demoed some of the gesture support that IE for Xbox will have and it looks great. One of the sites Microsoft showed off was the Project Prometheus website for Fox’s upcoming film, Prometheus. Microsoft and the IE team built an HTML5 experience for the site, so it makes sense that it would be one of the websites displayed to the public.

By waiting to bring a web browser to its console, it looks like Microsoft has learned from the mistakes that Sony, Nintendo, Sega, Google and others have made over the years. We like where it is going. Internet Explorer will be available for Xbox in the second half of 2012.

What do you think of IE on Xbox 360? In the comments, let us know your thoughts.

More About: e3, E3 2012, internet explierer, Xbox 360

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