- Are Smartphones Taking Over Our Lives? [STUDY]
- South Korea Fines Apple $2,830 Over iPhone Data Collection
- Man Arrested After Trying To Build Nuclear Reactor at Home
- Google to Revive Realtime Search, Thanks to Google+
- Online Tutoring Educates Kids in Developing Countries
- GQ Names Zuckerberg Worst-Dressed Man in Silicon Valley
- World’s Largest Stop-Motion Animation Uses Smartphone Cameras
- “Minus” Lets You Share Photos, Music & Files From Anywhere
- “The Sims Social” Producers Show Off Upcoming Facebook Game [VIDEO]
- Survey: Cellphones vs. Sex – Which Wins? [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Web.com Pays Nearly $600 Million for Network Solutions
- Mobile Developers Excited about Google+, Apple iCloud [REPORT]
- Google Vents About Patent War With Apple, Microsoft
- Randi Zuckerberg Leaves Facebook, Starts Own Company
- Beluga Whale Dances to Sweet Strains of Mariachi Band [VIDEO]
- Where Do Google Doodles Come From?
- Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wi-Fi: Mashable’s Favorite Wi-Fi Names
- HOW TO: Deal With Bad Clients
- Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design
- Hulu Makes First Full-Length Show: Morgan Spurlock’s A Day in The Life
- Instagram Celebrates 150 Millionth Photo
- 4 Ways the Department of Energy Is Tapping Tech for a Greener Future
- Blink 182 Rewards Tune-Stealing YouTube Users With Music Video Role
- Nexus S Goes Free For a Day
- HOW TO: Get Started on Posterous
- Time Inc. To Launch Tablet Editions for All 21 of Its Magazines
- New Classroom Tool Uses Laptops & Phones for Instant Assessment
- Germany Wants Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Halted
- Yahoo Mail Down for Some Users
- iPhone App Serves Music News Based On Your iTunes Library
Posted: 04 Aug 2011 04:41 AM PDT
New research portrays the UK as a smartphone-addicted country. Mobile data services have increased 40-fold in a three-year period in the country, and more than a quarter of adults and nearly half of teenagers own a smartphone.
The 341-page report, released by UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom, is sprinkled with nuggets of information about mobile data consumption among smartphone users, as well as larger telecommunications trends in Internet, radio and TV usage.
Here are some of the takeaways regarding smartphone usage:
With increasing telecommunications options in an ever-connected world, addiction to mobile and Internet use is not uncommon. In South Korea, there are even clinics for treating Internet addicts.
How would you define smartphone addiction? Does taking a few calls from the toilet and texting during dinner make you an addict? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Posted: 04 Aug 2011 02:43 AM PDT
Apple’s controversial iPhone location-tracking practices aren’t sitting well with South Korean authorities — the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) has fined the company ₩3 million, which equates to a measly $2,830 USD, for violating the country’s location information laws.
Apple’s location-tracking controversy first came under attack in April in the United States, when researchers discovered that the iPhone includes a hidden file that stores latitude, longitude and timestamps.
Shortly after “Locationgate” arose, the company issued a statement, saying, “Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” That sentiment was echoed in an email from Apple CEO Steve Jobs and is now being reiterated word-for-word by Apple spokesman Steve Park as a result of the KCC statement.
In its official statement and Q&A on location data in April, Apple explained:
This same argument still applies, but regardless, South Korea isn’t having Apple’s shenanigans. AP reports that in levying the fine, the KCC hopes to influence regulators elsewhere to do the same.
Frankly, it seems a bit silly to send a $2,830 bill to a company that just announced a quarterly record revenue of $28.57 billion and a record net profit of $7.31 billion, making it just $50 billion away from being the world’s most valuable company.
Google was also contacted regarding location data stored on mobile phones that run its Android operating system. The search juggernaut, though, was not fined. The KCC just demanded that it — and Apple — ensure that user location information on their mobile phones be saved in an encrypted form.
A number of large multinational corporations have been facing regulatory problems in South Korea as of late. In April, two South Korean search engines filed antitrust complaints against Google. And in December, the KCC also pulled up arguments against Facebook, saying that the social network did not comply with the country’s privacy laws.
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Posted: 04 Aug 2011 12:52 AM PDT
A man from Sweden was arrested after it was discovered he was trying to split atoms and build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, blogging about the experiment the whole time.
Richard Handl kept radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment, but he was arrested only after he had sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, asking whether what’s he doing is legal.
“I wanted to see if it’s possible to split atoms at home”, Handl said. While it may be possible, it certainly is not legal under Sweden’s law, and Handl may be looking at two years in prison.
Handl kept logs of his experiments on his blog, still available at richardsreactor.blogspot.com. There, he describes his efforts in detail: obtaining hard-to get materials, trying to create nuclear fission, and even having a small “meltdown” in his kitchen after trying to “cook Americium, Radium and Beryllium in 96% sulphuric-acid”.
Like a real scientist, Handl describes details of his arrest calmly and objectively.
“I was ordered by the police to get out of the building with my hands up, then three men came, with geiger-counters and searched me. Then I was placed in a police-car, when Radiation Safety Authory went into my apartment with very advanced measure-tools. So, my project is canceled”, he wrote in the blog.
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Posted: 04 Aug 2011 12:30 AM PDT
Google Realtime Search is coming back soon, and it will include data from Google+ and other social sources.
Realtime Search was, until last month, the search giant’s method of delivering relevant data from Twitter, Facebook and other social media services in realtime. Whenever a major current event made headlines (e.g. Osama’s death), Google Search would start displaying tweets and Facebook updates from users talking about the recent developments. It made Google’s search engine more relevant during major world events.
It didn’t last, though. Google took Realtime Search down last month after it failed to come to an agreement with Twitter for continued access to Twitter’s firehouse of data. Without a constant stream of tweets, the product was far less useful.
“The value the product was providing was not enough,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal said about the decision to turn off the feature during a search panel in Mountain View, California.
When asked about if or when Realtime Search would return, Singhal responded by saying the Google Search team is “actively working” on bringing the product back. He added that the team was experimenting with adding data from Google+ and other sources. It seems as if Google doesn’t believe it needs Twitter data to deliver a compelling realtime search offering.
Panel Moderator and Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief Danny Sullivan also took the opportunity to ask the panel about why the Google+ stream doesn’t have its own search engine (it’s one of the social network’s most requested features).
“We are on it,” Singhal responded.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 10:51 PM PDT
EducateNCare is an online personal tutoring service with a social good twist. A portion of each tutoring session’s cost helps educate children in the developing world, applying a one-for-one-style donation model into an online service.
While this model has been used with consumer products before, what makes EducateNcare unique is that its “product” lives on the Internet.
A network of certified teachers and college students work with individual students in recorded online sessions, allowing students and parents to review the lessons afterwards. Each tutor sets the rate for his services, sending 25% of the proceeds to EducateNcare. After the organization deducts the cost of operations (which vary depending on the tutor’s rate), the rest of the money goes towards the company’s Global Education Projects.
Note: There is some branding confusion on the website, as the organization is transitioning from using its original name EduCare into its domain name EducateNcare.
TOMS Shoes popularized the one-for-one donation model by sending a pair of shoes to a child in the developing world for every pair purchased. We’ve seen other web-based organizations such as Sevenly incorporate the model into their business operations. But does a service-based version have legs?
EducateNcare selects projects based on the likelihood of sustainability within the community. “Before we go into any of the projects, we have a meeting with the organization that's going to monitor it,” says the EducateNcare founder Piyush Mangukiya. “We want to empower the local community to take care of the school.”
So far, EducateNcare has given more than 800 tutoring sessions in the U.S., and a matching 800 lessons for students in developing countries. In one of its first projects, the organization funded the creation of a computer lab for a school in Gujarat, India.
EducateNcare is currently partnered with Pencils of Promise, an educational non-profit working in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Adding funding to its Global Education Projects, EducateNcare launched two educational apps — SAT Math Study Guide and ShapePuzzle4Good — two months ago. Half of the app’s sales help Pencils for Promise build a pre-school in Guatemala.
What do you think of EducateNcare? Is there a better way to bring education to the developing world or is this a bold step in the right direction? Let us know in the comments below.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 10:00 PM PDT
While nobody’s calling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a fashion plate, he certainly doesn’t deserve to be on another worst-dressed list, does he? (He appeared on Esquire’s worst-dressed list in January of this year.)
Unfortunately, it’s happened again in the latest issue of GQ magazine — with Zuckerberg taking the top (or is it bottom?) spot of the 15 victims, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs taking the second-worst spot.
GQ’s "15 Worst-Dressed Men of Silicon Valley" is a mean-spirited little article that seems to attack many of these billionaire gentlemen because of their shape or weight issues. And all of the descriptions of the men are simply catty. For example, here’s GQ’s writeup for Mark:
Jeez, guys – that’s just harsh.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 09:12 PM PDT
Just when we had almost given up hope on Nokia, along comes "Gulp," a promotional stop-motion animation that broke a world record as the largest ever created.
The video showcases the Nokia N8 smartphone‘s 12-megapixel camera, using its Carl Zeiss lens to great effect. Shooting this clever video with three of the smartphones mounted atop a 118-foot-high crane, the Sumo Science team at Aardman Animations (some of whom also work on the Wallace and Gromit animated series) have succeeded in putting together a true work of art.
It’s been confirmed by the Guinness World Records that the 11,000-square-foot area used in the video makes this the world’s largest stop-motion animation.
Want to see how it was done? Here’s the “making of” video:
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 08:08 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.
Quick Pitch: Minus is a simple and easy way to share files universally across all devices.
Genius Idea: Bulk file sharing — up to 100 files in a single gallery — with one tiny URL.
The activity of sharing content via web or mobile — whether it’s photos, music, videos, files or documents — is only going to increase with time. Such is the belief of Minus, a New York-based file sharing startup that hopes to serve the growing sharing needs of web and mobile users with its universally accessible tool.
You can use Minus to upload files of any type, simply by dragging and dropping them from your desktop to the browser. The service then makes it simple to share your files as galleries with a short URL, embed them elsewhere on the web or post them to social sites.
Minus also has nascent community elements to it; you can find and follow other users, and collaboratively edit galleries with other users. Co-founders John Xie and Carl Hu say they’re looking to add even more community-centric features.
More importantly, Minus, say Xie and Hu, is meant to be universal. And universal it is. The startup has desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu, mobile applications for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone 7, browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, a Chrome web application and even an API for developer integrations.
“We started Minus because we wanted to tackle the issue of file sharing and photo sharing, and to make it simple and easy for people to do so,” Xie says. “A lot of services out there get super complicated … we wanted to execute and improve on those features. The power of the application is making it simple and minimal for users.”
Early users appear to be drawn to the service for spontaneous sharing, the co-founders report. The startup, soft-launched in October 2010, has attracted 500,000 active users and sees more than 50 million pageviews per day.
Minus is, for now, completely free of charge and lacks restrictions — the only caveat is a 200MB file size limitation. The startup just closed a $1 million seed round of funding from IDG Capital Partners, which will allow it to remain free until it finds an appropriate business model.
Ultimately, Xie and Hu hope to create a file-sharing service that stands the test of time and limitation. “Our goal … is to help people share with any device they have available to them,” says Xie. “And to keep it simple and fun.”
Series Supported by 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.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 07:15 PM PDT
The Sims Social is on its way to Facebook, and here are the developers and producers who created the game talking about how it works.
An interesting aspect of this Facebook version of the venerable god-game franchise is the fact that it never sleeps, and while you’re away, your friends might be playing the game, resulting in surprises when you return.
The Sims Social developer, EA, is not talking yet about exactly when we might see this life simulator game on Facebook, but at first it was rumored to go live on June 23, according to SimsSocial. That date missed, SimsSocial wrote in a forum that we can expect to see The Sims Social go live on Facebook by the end of August.
Until then, The Sims Social fans will have to settle with the producer interview video seen above, which was released today. If you haven’t seen the official trailer that was rolled out when the game was first announced at E3 in June, here it is:
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 05:38 PM PDT
It’s no secret how much most people are attached to their cellphones, but now TeleNav has released a survey showing just how willing Americans are to give up the finer things in life so they can still hang onto that handset.
Think about this hypothetical situation for a moment: What would you be more willing to give up so you could still have your mobile phone?
Not only does this infographic give you insight into mobile-device love, but it also helps you sort out general priorities as well. For instance, one third of the U.S. population would rather give up sex for a week than a mobile phone, but 70% were willing to give up alcohol for that phone?
Or who would’ve guessed that smartphone users had worse manners than their cellphone counterparts, with 26% of smartphone users frequently pulling out their handset at the dinner table, compared with 6% of cellphone ("featurephone") users?
Worse (and this one’s not included in the infographic) — “Smartphone users were twice as likely as feature phone users to give up hot showers rather than their phone for one week,” according to TeleNav’s survey. Now that’s got to be love.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 04:35 PM PDT
Domain registrar and web host Network Solutions has been acquired by Web.com. Web.com, an Internet services and online marketing solutions company aimed at small businesses, purchased Network Solutions for $405 million in cash and 18 million shares of Web.com common stock. Web.com’s closing stock price on Wednesday values the deal at over $550 million.
Web.com wants to create an “end-to-ed online solutions company” focused on providing small businesses with access to social media, online marketing and other website services.
In its press release, Web.com CEO David Brown says the integration strategy for Network Solutions “will be similar to our successful acquisition of Register.com, and we will be in a strong position to cross-sell and up-sell our services to Network Solutions’ approximately two million retail customers and hundreds of thousands of wholesale customers.”
Network Solutions was the original domain name registry for the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, controlling the .com, .org. and .net top-level domain names. Until ICANN was formed in 1998, Network Solutions was also the only place that users could buy a domain name.
Network Solutions isn’t the only registrar/hosting company on the acquisition block. Earlier this summer, GoDaddy, the word’s largest domain registrar, was sold to three private equity firms for $2.25 billion.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 03:27 PM PDT
Appcelerator and IDC released their Q3 Mobile Developer Report on Wednesday, which looks at how mobile developers currently view the smartphone and tablet landscape. The report revealed that developers are most excited about the mobile potential of Google+ and Apple’s iCloud.
Despite it being just a month old, Google+ is showing plenty of potential, according to devs. The majority surveyed say Google+ has what it takes to compete head-on with Facebook. Meanwhile, iCloud’s mainstream potential has iOS developers enthused about the possibilities of integrating it into their apps.
Looking at the report, the one area that hasn’t changed since last spring is developer interest in the main mobile ecosystems: iOS and Android continue to be the platforms that developers are “very interested” in developing for.
There is a clear disparity between the number of developers that indicate interest in Android tablets and the relatively small number of Honeycomb-optimized apps. Scott Schwarzhoff, Appcelerator’s VP of marketing, says Android tablets are in a holding pattern. Interest is still high — based on the belief that the tablet market will mimic what we’ve seen in the mobile phone market. But tablet pricing, availability and market share are keeping many developers from taking that first step.
For the first time, Appcelerator and IDC added HTML5 to its list of platforms. Some 66% of respondents indicated that they were very interested in that format.
Where’s the API?
To us, the most interesting part of the survey are the questions on social networking and cloud computing APIs.
When asked what announcement would have the biggest impact on mobile growth and adoption, near-field communication (NFC), Android patent issues and rumors of an Amazon Android tablet were all outshone by Google+ and iCloud.
Why is this compelling? Because Google+ doesn’t even have a public facing API. At the time of the survey (two weeks ago), the state of the iCloud API was still relatively limited. Ultimately, we’re not convinced that these statistics will mean a lot in terms of real-world usage, until the APIs are actually released and broadly understood.
On the social front, two-thirds of developers believe that Google+ has the potential to challenge or catch up with Facebook. Again, these numbers are compelling, but they don’t mean a whole lot until Google can back up the hype with a real, tangible API.
Easy Does It
On the cloud computing front — Amazon, the leader in the last few surveys — was essentially tied with Apple and its iCloud platform. Schwarzhoff says iCloud, unlike Amazon’s AWS, is thought to be easier for developers to implement.
Dropbox and Box.net, cloud collaboration and storage companies that have mobile APIs and are already in use by dozens of mobile apps, were not included in the survey. We think iCloud will be used by developers the same way that Box.net and Dropbox are used now, for easy access to storage and syncing tools.
Does the latest mobile survey mirror any of your thoughts and experiences with mobile app development? Let us know in the comments.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 02:44 PM PDT
Google used its Official Blog on Wednesday to publicly kvetch about what it calls an “organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.”
The author of the screed is David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer, who starts off noting that he worked in tech for more than two decades, and here’s what he learned: “Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats.” That’s not true, as anyone who remembers their 1997 pact knows well. But in Drummond’s telling, the old rivals are suddenly “in bed together” — in order to fight Google with patents.
The two titans — plus Oracle and other companies — have bought Novell and Nortel’s old patents “to make sure Google didn’t get them,” he says, and are seeking $15 for every Android device. The licensing fee makes it more expensive for phone makers to license Android (which is free) than Windows Mobile. “Patents are meant to encourage innovation,” Drummond writes, “but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.”
Drummond goes on to charge Microsoft and Apple with inflating the price of Nortel’s patent portfolio, which he hints is likely to draw legal scrutiny. “We're not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products,” Drummond writes. “But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we're determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.”
Despite Drummond’s insistence, many of Google’s patent troubles are of its own making. The company failed to take the bidding process for those Nortel patents seriously, instead using them as a forum for obscure math comedy. Since then, in a belated acknowledgment of the importance of intellectual property, Google has gone on a patent-buying spree of its own and hired Suzanne Michel, one of the Federal Trade Commission’s top patent lawyers.
Google also weakens its case by noting the runaway success of Android. If patent fees are really deterring phone manufacturers, why is Android closing in on 50% of the smartphone market?
The most notable thing about the blog entry is its directness: Google isn’t in the habit of calling out competitors by name.
What do you think of Google’s complaint? Let us know in the comments.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 01:59 PM PDT
Facebook Director of Marketing Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of founder Mark Zuckerberg, has decided to leave Facebook to start her own company.
Zuckerberg’s new company, RtoZ Media, will focus on helping companies become more social. “My goal is to launch my own innovative programming and work with media companies to develop their programming in new, and more social ways,” Zuckerberg said in her resignation letter.
The former Facebook marketing director will draw from her experiences developing the company’s marketing strategy and its popular live video channel, Facebook Live. She was recently nominated for an Emmy for her work with Facebook Live. (Mashable recently teamed up with Facebook Live for its SXSW coverage.)
In a phone call with Mashable, Zuckerberg said that she thinks of the move as a “natural extension” and had been considering the move “for a really long time.” With the success of Facebook Live and the Facebook-Obama town hall, she saw an opportunity to start her own company.
“I had the momentum to do it now,” she said.
The news, first reported by Kara Swisher at AllThingsD, will come as a shock to the Silicon Valley establishment. Randi Zuckerberg has been a pivotal figure in Facebook’s growth, and her departure will create a void that not even her brother will be able to fill.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 01:47 PM PDT
“Baby Beluga” was so 30 years ago. The new hot jam among the denizens “under the sea” is Mariachi music, as evidenced by this video of a seemingly enchanted whale swaying to the beat.
The vid was shot at the Mystic Aquarium — in my hometown of Mystic, Connecticut — during a wedding. The band apparently took a break from dancing the lovebirds away on a cloud to mingle with marine life.
We humbly applaud the Beluga’s brave decision to dance alone at a wedding. That takes some serious fins.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 01:27 PM PDT
Back when Google‘s logo still had an exclamation point, its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin encountered a practical problem. On one hand, they had plans to attend the Burning Man Festival. On the other, they weren’t entirely confident that the site would not crash in their absence. And if it did, there wasn’t anyone at the office to answer the phone while the pair camped out in the desert.
The first Google Doodle — which showed Burning Man’s iconic stick figure popping out of the Google logo — was, in essence, an “out of office” message.
Throughout the next several years, Google started occasionally adding decorations to its logo for holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. Sergey Brin filed a patent for those decorations, which he called “systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site,” in 2000. It was granted in 2011.
“Google Doodles” are now an established part of Internet culture. We, Internet users, are delighted to find creative takes on holidays we forgot about, outraged when an event’s Doodle depiction seems off. We played the Google logo guitar so much that Google created a dedicated website for it.
For a long period of time, all Google Doodles were created by a former intern and current employee named Dennis Hwang. The process has since been taken to another level. Here’s what goes into the beloved (and at times bemoaned) Doodles.
The “Google Doodlers”
Jennifer Hom is part of a team of artists (officially “a handful” — more specifically, many fewer than 10), who coordinate and create Google’s Doodles. Their art backgrounds are diverse. One was a feature film animator, another illustrated comic books. Hom recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Ideas come from the team, Google’s more than 28,000 employees, users and the news.
“It's always a surprise,” Hom says. “And we try to pick things that are going to be exciting to our users, whether it was in their childhood or something they learned in school or important events or an important part of their culture.”
Production timelines vary greatly. While the team can theoretically plan for the Fourth of July Doodle all year, current events aren’t current for very long. When NASA found water on the moon in 2009, for instance, Hom’s pitch to Doodle it was accepted around lunchtime — giving her about four hours to conceive and create a Doodle.
Together, the team produced 271 Doodles last year.
Math Nerd Support
Most artists who want to create a guitar that records and plays back music, an image repelled by a cursor or a buckyball that spins when you roll with the mouse are out of luck. Google Doodlers have access to one of the largest pools of computer engineers on the planet.
While Hom says the Google Doodle team has never taken a Google engineer completely off of his or her full time job to work on a Google Doodle, at least one of them, search team software engineer Kris Hom (no relation to Jennifer Hom), regularly dedicates his 20% time to the cause. Some weeks, it ends up being 30%, 40% or 50% time.
When the buckyball design presented a mathematical challenge, for instance, he emailed other engineers on his team who promptly delivered a handful of successful solutions.
Having math nerds on hand also came in handy with the Pi Day Google Doodle, which was designed to look like a mathematician’s notes.
“For that, we had to consult our math experts that are floating around Google … and just make sure that every single curve and every single note that we put on the Doodle was accurate,” Jennifer Hom says.
Google has more than 50 domains in 50 different countries, and it creates Doodles specific to many of them. But for a team based in the United States, it’s hard to remember that Miroslav Krleza’s 118th Birthday is being celebrated in Croatia.
Fortunately, Google’s many international domains come with many international offices. Their staffs contribute culturally appropriate Doodle ideas and check Doodles for cultural suitability before they go live.
By one 2009 study’s estimate, Google accounts for a whopping 6% of all Internet traffic. Directing the attention of many Internet users to a given topic, be it by Doodle or otherwise, is no little matter of influence.
“There's always kind of a responsibility in terms of not offending anyone,” Hom says. “We don't want to put anything too heavy as a Doodle, anything that's not uplifting.”
Not offending anyone is a feat that’s hard to accomplish, particularly when experts from every niche are using your page as a web launching point. In 2003, an artist made a small error in the depiction of DNA on Google’s homepage. The reaction was powerful enough that Hom still talks about it today, even though the incident predates her Google Doodle debut.
“I'm really afraid of having a DNA moment,” she says.
Research keeps the math, science and history buffs happy, but sometimes the desire to not offend anyone can be self-defeating. Google’s Doodle for gay pride, a rainbow attached to the search bar, only appeared when a user searched for related terms — drawing criticism that the company had put its pride in the closet.
Google is not known for its artistic creativity. It’s known for making algorithms that work really well. So why hire a team to dress up the homepage, occasionally distract engineers and open the company to criticism of its portrayal of events?
“[Google does] a lot of awesome things in terms of technology,” Hom says. “But it’s easy for users to forget that we're real people, too. So I guess that's really the purpose of Doodles. … We make mistakes with DNA sometimes also, but we’re here to keep the fun in the company and make sure the users know that we're alive.”
Series Supported by Rackspace
The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. No more worrying about web hosting uptime. No more spending your time, energy and resources trying to stay on top of things like patching, updating, monitoring, backing up data and the like. Learn why.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 01:10 PM PDT
In honor of Wi-Fi Day Tuesday — 8.02.11 — Mashable asked our community to tell us about the best Wi-Fi network names they’ve seen.
We received a staggering number of responses. Submissions ranged from jeers at people stealing Internet, pop culture references (it seems our community loves Arrested Development and The Offspring), pranks and the occasional obscenity.
Here are some of our favorites (click here to see the rest):
Did we miss your favorite? If you think it’s worthy of inclusion, let us know in the comments.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 12:57 PM PDT
Nellie Akalp is CEO of CorpNet.com. Since forming more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S, she has built a strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business the right way. LIKE the CorpNet.com Facebook page for exclusive discounts and giveaways! To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly and affordably, please visit here.
If you're a freelancer, consultant or other independent worker, chances are you abandoned the comfortable and steady office paycheck to become your own boss, make your own rules and blaze your own trail. So why are you still navigating unpleasant situations with your clients? What happened to working on your terms?
Being your own boss has its rewards, but dealing with bad clients isn't one of them. However unfortunate, you'll inevitably have to confront poor client relationships. Here are some tips on how to identify the situations and ensure they don't impact your business or emotional well-being.
1. You Don’t Have a Bad Client — You Have a Bad Situation
We've all heard freelancers complain about that "client from hell." For example, a web designer may have to deal with the "vague-input client" — a person who says things like, "I'll know what I like when I see it, but in the meantime, can you present four iterations?" Another example might be a CPA who works with a freelancer who brings in a box full of receipts two weeks before tax time.
However, the only truly bad clients are the ones you continue to work alongside in spite of the red flags. If you're losing sleep or dreading the telephone ring, you need to realize that you're just as active a participant in the relationship as your client. Remedy the situation proactively.
Is a client unprofitable? Try raising your rates. Are you spending too much time responding to their demanding and inconvenient requests? Put your foot down once in awhile and request more time or notice. If a client relationship isn't mutually beneficial, it's your responsibility to change the situation.
2. Conduct a Time Audit
Maybe you feel like the majority of your time is spent dealing with one client (when that person may not even represent half of your income). If you're self-employed, it's important to precisely strategize your time and energy.
For two weeks, conduct a detailed audit of your day. Keep track of what you did, for whom, and how long it took. These audits can reveal great insights into your client relationships, and can help you make adjustments where needed. For example, is one squeaky wheel getting all the attention while your top client gets short-changed? You need to respectfully approach the time-intensive clients in order to reevaluate a more beneficial relationship.
3. Make Sure You Get Paid
In this economy, you can expect some delays in payment. Even good clients get behind once in awhile. However, a professional gets paid for the work he or she does.
You should ultimately aim to have a minimum of 2-3 months worth of "safety funds" for your business, especially so that a slow payment cycle won't impact your ability to pay personal bills. This cushion will allow you to occasionally cut a good client some slack. However, you should not be spending time tracking down or worrying about payments, or even worse, distrusting your client's promises. If that's the case, you need to make a change.
4. Stay Away From Your Client’s Office Politics
Perhaps you became a freelancer to avoid office politics, gossip and backstabbing. Now that you're removed from that environment, don't let your clients involve you in their own corporate drama. When dealing with a team, it's important not to choose sides or be influenced by one particular member. As an independent worker it's your responsibility to get your work done, not to get caught up in a client's power struggle.
5. Firing a Client Isn’t Fun…But It’s Part of Your Job
The majority of us try to avoid conflict. However, remaining in a negative client situation can take a significant toll on your job satisfaction and your emotional well-being — and even impact your work with other clients. If you've already tried to actively manage or change the negative aspects of a client relationship, it might be time to cut the cord.
When firing a client, be clear and calm. A simple statement like "I believe my services are no longer meeting your needs" can suffice. The more details you provide, the more you might open the door to an argument. Make sure to leave your emotional baggage aside and remain neutral. These conversations aren't necessarily easy, but soon afterward you'll be able to move on to bigger and better things.
For more Business & Marketing coverage:
Posted: 03 Aug 2011 12:36 PM PDT
If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.
But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:
Mashable Job Postings
Business Development Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.
Community Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.
Graphic Design Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.
Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.
Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.
Communications Coordinator at Mashable in New York, NY.
Campaign Specialist at Mashable in New York, NY.
Mashable Job Board Listings
Social Media Marketing Intern at Likeable Media in New York, NY.
Social Tech Developer at M THIRTY Communications Inc. in Toronto, Canada.
Project Manager at M THIRTY Communications Inc. in M5C1N9, Canada.
Assistant Account Executive at Lumentus in New York, NY.
Manager of Engineering at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Associate Director of Strategy, Digital at OMD in Chicago, IL.
Online Marketing Managers at Laureate Global Products and Services in Baltimore, MD.
Strategy Supervisor, Digital at OMD in Chicago, IL.
Group Director of Strategy at OMD in Chicago, IL.
Digital Editor and Community Manager at Pace Communications in Greensboro, NC.
Interactive Media Designer at Pace Communications in Greensboro, NC.
Senior Software Engineer (JAVA) at SNC in Herndon, VA.
Senior Digital Strategist (Account Director) at APCO Worldwide in San Francisco, CA.
Systems Architect – Java, eCommerce at Fry, Inc. in Westmont, IL.
Search Marketing Specialist at EMBANET COMPASS KNOWLEDGE GROUP in Elk Grove Village, IL.
Search Marketing Specialist at EMBANET COMPASS KNOWLEDGE GROUP in Orlando, FL.
Product Manager – Local Business Products at Yelp Inc. in San Francisco, CA.
Director of Client Services at Studio One Networks in New York, NY.
Director of E-Commerce / Digital Marketing at Carol’s Daughter in New York, NY.
Digital Media Manager at Feld Entertainment, Inc. in Aurora, IL.
Interactive Art Director at Teach For America in New York, NY.
Social Media Manager at Feld Entertainment, Inc. in Aurora, IL.
Search Marketing Manager at EMBANET COMPASS KNOWLEDGE GROUP in Orlando, FL.
User Interface (UI) Engineer at Esri in Redlands, CA.
Social Media Sales Consultant with International Potential at Meltwater Buzz in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Social Media/Marketing at Wandering Creek Productions in Hoboken, NJ.
Director of Advertising & Sponsorship Sales at School of the Legends in Brentwood, TN.
Web and Database Associate at Park School of Baltimore in Pikesville, MD.
New Media Manager & Public Liaison at University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, MA.
Software Engineer – Distributed Systems at Evri in Seattle, WA.
Social Media Manager at TripIt, a Concur company in San Francisco, CA.
Front End Engineer at Group Commerce in New York, NY.
Merchandising Manager at Group Commerce in New York, NY.
Director of Business Development at Group Commerce in New York, NY.
Account Director at Group Commerce in New York, NY.
Internet Marketing Manager at Numark International in Cumberland, RI.
HR Administrator at Quirky in New York, NY.
Director, Social Media at Razorfish in San Francisco, CA.
Community Manager at myFORBUY in San Ramon, CA.
Director, Online Community Management at Fidelity Investments in Smithfield, RI.
Bloomberg Mobile Producer at Bloomberg in New York, NY.
.net Web Developer at Positive Promotions in Hauppauge, NY.
PPC Client Success Specialist at Oneupweb in Traverse City, MI.
SEO Client Success Specialist at Oneupweb in Traverse City, MI.
Software Developer at Oneupweb in Traverse City, MI.
Sr. Web/Graphic Designer at Oneupweb in Traverse City, MI.
iOS Developer at All Things Media in Ramsey, NJ.
Digital Content Manager at GMR Marketing in New Berlin, WI.
Flash ActionScript 3 Developer at All Things Media in Ramsey, NJ.
Manager- Communications at American Express in New York, NY.
Social Media Intern at Ideas United LLC in Decatur, GA.
Web Developer/Programmer at Surfrider Foundation in San Clemente, CA.
Social Marketing Program Manager at IMRE, LLC in MD.
Senior Product Manager at PDR NETWORK in Montvale, NJ.
Sr Web Application Developer at Salsa Labs Inc in Washington, D.C.
Interactive Front-End Designer/Developer at Discovery Communications in New York, NY.
Sr. Product Manager: Social Media at Whaleshark Media in Austin, TX.
Tour Manager at Campus MovieFest in Decatur, GA.
Digital Strategist at The Motley Fool in Alexandria, VA.
Merchandiser- Technology at Whaleshark Media in Austin, TX.
Social Media Client Success Specialist at Oneupweb in Traverse City, MI.
Merchandising Manager at Whaleshark Media in Austin, TX.
Partner Development Manager at Whaleshark Media in Austin, TX.
Director, Marketing & Social Media at Word of Mouth Marketing Association in Chicago, IL.
Lead Systems Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Software Engineering Manager at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Web Software Architect at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Engineer- Front End at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Director of Engineering, TV/Video at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Lead Engineer at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Director of Product Management, Mobile Products at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.
Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.
Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on Mashable.com (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).
For more Social Media coverage:
Posted: 03 Aug 2011 12:20 PM PDT
Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, is bringing original content to Hulu with A Day in the Life, a six-part documentary that follows the waking hours of various luminaries.
Although Hulu has had its share of exclusive content, the site has never previously participated, creatively or financially, in making long-form content. In 2010, it collaborated with Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment to feature the reality show, If I Can Dream. This summer Hulu secured exclusive rights to Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide's Misfits, Vuguru's A Booth at the End, and BBC and Content Media Corp's Whites.
A Day in the Life premieres on Hulu and Hulu Plus August 17. Its first subject: entrepreneur Richard Branson. Other episodes will feature rapper and songwriter will.i.am, comedian Russell Peters and musician Girl Talk. Spurlock will be producing, with his production company Warrior Poets and production partner Jeremy Chilnick.
Although Hulu doesn’t disclose viewership numbers for any of its programs, Ad Age says that Hulu’s original series often rank in the top 10 or 20 most-watched series on the days when new episodes are posted.
We’re curious to see how a wholly original series will resonant with viewers — and how this will factor into a potential sale of Hulu.
For more Media coverage:
Posted: 03 Aug 2011 11:59 AM PDT
Instagram’s more than 7 million registered users have now uploaded a grand total of 150 million photos, the startup announced Wednesday. The milestone achievement comes just nine months after the iPhone application first landed in the App Store.
The 150 million photos figure amounts to 1.3 million photos uploaded per day or 15 photos posted per second.
“The growth of photos being posted per day is tracking on an exponential curve,” Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom tells Mashable. “It’s the one curve we look at to measure the health of the service and the addiction of the product.”
For Systrom, Instagram’s instant and continued success has allowed it to become a social network — not just a mobile application — where photography doubles as a form of communication.
“We’re one of the fastest growing social networks in mobile — having remained in the top 25 free apps in the App Store for over a month now,” he says. “Where mobile apps come and go, Instagram has continued to see unprecedented growth in users and usage.”
Instagram remains an iPhone-only application, though the startup’s API has allowed third-party developers to bring pieces of the Instagram experience to other platforms. An Instagram application for Android, which has been promised since day one, is still on the road map — but the company isn’t saying anything about when you can expect it.
Image courtesy of Instagram, @Kevin
Instagram’s Top Photographers
In late June, Mashable compiled a gallery of photos, tips and tricks from the service’s most-followed users, as seen below.
@mikekus: Photographer's Choice
Who: Mike Kus. A graphic designer, web designer and illustrator living in Bath.
Favorite Filter: Earlybird
How he's using Instagram: "I try to use Instagram to document my daily life and to photograph what surrounds me. I live in Bath, U.K.; so most of my pictures [are] places and people around Bath."
Inspired by: "I carry my iPhone everywhere and when I see something that interests me I take a shot. There's nothing I particularly set out to do. I like photographing architecture and people, mainly."
@mikekus: Editor's Pick
In addition to Instagram, Kus uses TiltShiftGen to add contrast to his photos and desaturate colors. But that's it for Kus when it comes to camera effects apps for iPhone.
"I only use TiltshiftGen and Instagram. I have experimented with other apps but haven't found anything I like as much as these two," he says.
@fashion: Photographer's Choice
Favorite Filters: Earlybird, Walden and Brannan
How he's using Instagram: "I view Instagram as a new form of entertainment that has empowered and mobilized a global network of visual storytellers.
I use Instagram to connect with both individual and brand storytellers - storytellers that create powerful images that entertain, inform, educate and inspire me on a daily basis.
The content created by brands and individuals that I regularly follow takes me about one hour per day to consume and interact with. There may be as many as 20 to 30 live images per hour during peak publishing times. I have set times during the day that I consume the content that is created by the image makers that I follow around the world and It obviously has displaced other forms of entertainment that I'm using like Tivo, Netflix, Gaming and web browsing.
I post a single image every day and I include a geotagged location and a caption."
Inspired by: "I'm really inspired by the moment and then the individual style of each character I try and capture. I tend to frame the image with the fabric of the city as a backdrop and fashionably blend in the element of weather, light and time of day to tell a simple story.
I try and anticipate what will happen and capture it on the fly. Most of the times I fail, but everyday I'll somehow find an image that works for me.
I'm mostly influenced by the techniques and style of street photography and photo journalism, but I also love and learn from simple snapshots and mixed-media images that I see on Instagram."
@fashion: Editor's Pick
Sherlock also uses Flipboard and Webstagram as third-party Instagram applications.
@looking_glass: Photographer's Choice
Who: Chi Vo
Favorite Filter: None. Vo processes her photos outside of Instagram.
How she's using Instagram: "Instagram is my photo journal where I post photos and thoughts that mean something to me.
A lot of what I post is a reflection on the current events happening in my life that I would like to share and hopefully inspire and connect with others. I lead a pretty crazy and hectic life and Instagram helps me take time off to reflect on the things happening in and around me and to put it down in photos and words.
It also provides me an opportunity to network socially with like-minded and creative individuals. They challenge, inspire and motivate me in both my life and photographic interests. I have met many interesting individuals through Instagram and keep in touch with them on a regular basis."
Inspired by: "My photos are spur of the moment. Raw. Whether I am walking down the street or driving my car, I actually stop in the middle of the road sometimes to pause and capture that moment. Moments in life pass us so quickly that sometimes we don't actually see the beauty in the things that surround us.
I have over 5,000 photos on my iPhone. When I get a break from my hectic schedule, I reflect on the recent events in my life, and browse for that photo / moment that best portrays my feelings and thoughts which I wish to share. It is a way for me to better understand myself and life, to convey a mood and distill what I have captured."
@looking_glass: Editor's Pick
Vo is an avid user of Camera+ and loves the application's filters, cropping, lighting and framing options. She also uses Leme Camera for more serious editing, and appreciates PicFx, TiltshiftGen, Noir Photo and Pro HDR.
Vo's Instagram tip for Mashable readers is: "Share something that you have a connection with. You may find like-minded individuals to explore that connection with. Make it social."
@inkedfingers: Photographer's Choice
Who: Carli Kiene, coowner of InkedFingers Fotography & Design, a wedding and lifestyle photography business.
Favorite Filter: Brannan
How she's using Instagram: "Instagram reminded me that photography is an art. I'm a photographer by trade but because I had a seven pound camera in my hand all the time and didn't own a point and shoot that took good enough photographs, I never took photos of my own life, or if I did, they ended up on hard drives.
I first found Instagram during a camping trip in November of last year. We turned in early one night and I sat all zipped up in my tent looking for new apps (thankfully we had WiFi out in Bastrop, TX) and from the moment I took the first photos I was in awe of how easy it was to take a beautiful photograph.
With our photography company, Inkedfingers, we spend HOURS editing our images, going through each image, color correcting, changing curves, adding presets, and in less than a minute I created an image that from a layman's point of view, is almost indistinguishable on that tiny screen from what our $3,000 camera took. It's almost unbelievable. Instagram took the science out of taking a beautiful image.
At first, as part of the IG community, I tried to be anonymous. There was a freedom in knowing I could take whatever caught my eye without the pressure of a pay check, trying to please someone. I was making a memory of my own life. Then, inspired by other users in the community, I began to post photos of what I did for a living -- the latest postcard or rubber stamp we'd create or how I had my office set up -- and I got such positive feedback I posted more work-related photos.
Lately I've posted more behind the scenes shots, during an engagement shoot or what the church looks like during the rehearsal. I think others enjoy seeing something they might not see everyday and we've gotten from business from a few IG-ers!"
Inspired by: "Other IG users. It truly is a community. There are some users that I've become best friends with and connected with outside of the IG world and we find we have much in common aside from a love of photography!
What else inspires me? Whatever is around me at that moment: the sun's reflection on the water after a run, the way the books sit on my shelf or the light falling across the buildings downtown as I'm stopped at a red light. That's the beauty in Instagram. The app wasn't intended for photographers. It's intended to make every man a photographer, every man an artist. That is a beautiful thing.
There was an art installment recently in Austin, called 'Play Me I'm Yours.' A curator set out pianos outside all across the city and told anyone they could play the pianos whenever. It reminded me of IG. It put a piece of art in whatever man's hand would reach out far enough to seize the opportunity. Unlike the community of Twitter, no common language is required. Only two eyes to open and see ... to find common ground with people all over the world. I love that. The world is a better place because of it."
@inkedfingers: Editor's Pick
As for Instagram tips, Kiene advises Mashable readers to simply "post whatever catches your eye" and take advantage of the app's tilt-shift feature.
"If you're thinking of buying a point-and-shoot camera, my initial thought would be: don't. Just buy an iPhone," she adds.
@poeticaesthetic: Photographer's Choice
Favorite Filter: Earlybird
How she's using Instagram: "Upon discovering Instagram when it was still in its Beta stages, I thought it would be a great way to keep a photo journal of sorts for myself. Little did I know that it would become a networking tool, a portal to view phenomenal images from around the world, and ultimately a full fledged addiction. I use Instagram as an extension of my photographic obsession. I'm not always able to tote around my full DSLR set up, but I am never without my iPhone. Instagram has enabled me to capture and share images that might not be shared otherwise, at least not with such a broad audience."
Inspired by: "I am inspired by romance, music, literature, and fellow photographers. I tend to see and think geometrically, so lines and angles play a huge role in how I photograph, but emotion plays an even larger role. If I can look at a subject and feel some connection to it, I know it's worthy of a photograph."
@poeticaesthetic: Editor's Pick
Kristen prefers to keep her iPhone photo editing to a minimum, but she also likes the app Filterstorm.
"This app allows me to desaturate images, while tweaking the contrast and sharpening for a nice, contrasty and slightly noisy black and white finish," she says.
@babysmurf: Photographer's Choice
Who: Kristine Herryanto
Favorite Filter: Earlybird
How she's using Instagram: "I love seeing good pictures. Instagram is such a fun way to do that on mobile phone."
Inspired by: "I love traveling, and have been lucky enough to have a chance to travel quite often. The landscape, historic buildings, stylish streets and the people I encounter in other parts of the world are the main source of my inspiration. I can't get enough shots of European cities such as Paris & Vienna."
@babysmuf: Editor's Pick
"When I started using Instagram, the social aspect was the thing that kept me going back," Herryanto says. "The idea of the Popular Page was brilliant. That's how I discover users who have created awesome work."
@colerise: Photographer's Choice
Who: Cole Rise, a photographer and pilot.
Favorite Filters: Earlybird and Sutro
How he's using Instagram: "As a landscape photographer, it's often I'm on the road exploring, trying to find the next photo. So naturally, Instagram is invaluable when it comes sharing where I am and what I'm shooting. Exploring is fun! So, being able to share that experience in a meaningful way is absolutely fantastic. Plus, between developing rolls of film and post-production, it's usually weeks before i can share the results of a shoot. Now anyone can take a real-time peak through my viewfinder.
With the square format, it's also great compositional practice for medium format (6x6). Frame it up first on your phone, and if you like what you see, expose a frame or two of your 120 film. It's like my phone's become a sort of director's finder -- those little eyepieces you'd see a director using on set to help him visualize a shot before filming. Instagram's great because it makes that process social, which, in many ways for me, makes it a more valuable tool than Twitter.
Then, of course, there's it's everyday applicability. When I don't have the heavy equipment on hand, I have my phone. It's a fast & lightweight way to share those random life situations where you suddenly find yourself thinking 'other people have to see this!'"
Inspired by: "An envy of birds, a love of space, an affection for cows in vast fields and a good storm hovering over a mountain range. That, and little bits of arbitrary humor."
@colerise: Editor's Pick
Rise has several tips for Mashable readers and wanna-be iPhoneographers.
"Shooting through a knit sweater stretched over your phone makes for some awesome light-play, giving your photos a look similar to that of a pinhole camera," he says.
"You can also put a droplet of water between the lens and the LED flash on the IPhone 4 for some really great in-camera light leaks," he adds.
In addition to Instagram, Rise also enjoys CrossProcess for editing and Camera+ for effects.
@danrubin: Photographer's Choice
Favorite Filter: Brannan. Rubin likes the thin border and faded tones.
How he's using Instagram: "Instagram has made photography part of my daily routine. Looking at the world through a lens changes the way you see things, and having that lens with you at all times means you are always looking, and never have to miss a shot. I don't always carry my dSLR, Polaroids, or my other myriad film cameras with me, but my iPhone -- and Instagram -- is always at the ready.
I'm always traveling, and Instagram has made it so easy to share my photos with Twitter and Facebook that I actually do it, allowing friends and family to track my exploits and live vicariously through my travel schedule.
I have many cameras. I am a photographer. But I shoot every day because of Instagram.
Inspired by: "My instinct is to say 'anything and everything' but I know for a fact that isn't true. I love architecture, landscapes, and especially shooting normally crowded locations without anyone in sight (an excuse for practicing extreme patience in most cases).
I also attempt to show normal, everyday scenes and objects in a different light, though I'll admit there are times when I post something just because I like it."
@danrubin: Editor's Pick
Here are some tips from Rubin on how to make the most of our iPhone photos:
Rubin has made it a hobby of his to check out iPhone camera apps. His favorites right now are Filterstorm, CrossProcess, Lo-Mob, iDarkroom, Touch Retouch and Camera+.
@laurenlemon: Photographer's Choice
Who: Lauren Randolph, a creative portrait photographer living in Los Angeles.
Favorite Filters: Brannan and Hefe
How she's using Instagram: "As a photographer, I've always shot photos of everything I do and the places I go. With the quality of mobile photography being higher than ever, it's just so handy to use my iPhone as my on-the-go camera, capturing the little moments in life that I want to be able to look back on.
It's fun being able to share, while following photos of what others are doing as well. It has become my favorite way of keeping up with friends and people I know all over the world -- being able to see the things you'd normally miss out on."
Inspired by: "I'm inspired by location, color, and light -- those are usually what initially catch my eye. I love shooting pictures of my friends and family, and the different characters I know. I'm almost obsessed with documentation, and use photography as my own way of capturing my personal history."
@laurenlemon Editor's Pick
Randolph keeps her iPhone photo editing via camera effects applications to a minimum.
"Since Instagram, I've pretty much narrowed my photo apps down to just a select few," she says. "Sometimes I'll make some adjustments using the Camera+ app; and I love PhotoForge because of the real specific editing I can do with my mobile photos -- more along the lines of the editing I'll do with my regular digital photography. Still, I really try and do as little editing with my mobile photos as possible."
@chrysti: Photographer's Choice
Who: Christy Hydeck. Hydeck is an artist, photographer and soon-to-be published author; she calls her work "artography."
Favorite Filters: Earlybird, Inkwell and Toaster
How she's using Instagram: "I'm a big believer that there is extraordinary beauty in everyday things. Instagram is an amazing outlet for me to share the things that inspire me in the hopes that it inspires someone else too. Additionally, I love the accessibility. Anyone and everyone has the ability to create stunning imagery -- I love showing the creative potential the iPhone has."
Inspired by: "I don't think there is much that doesn't inspire me. Color, light, nature, emotion -- all play a consistent role in what I see and try to capture."
@chrysti: Editor's Pick
Not one to limit her photo editing to a single application, Hydeck says she has pages and pages of folders on her iPhone that are full of camera effects applications. Standouts right now include PicFx, Swankolab, PictureShow, iQuikDoF, qbro, PostalPix, LensFlare and Iris Photo Suite.
"Tomorrow that list will change," she says. "I go through spurts with which apps I use most often."
And if you're in search of some Instagram-related advice, look for the #instadvice hashtag. Hydeck often uses the hashtag to leave tips and tricks on photo-editing and sharing.
@joshjohnson: Photographer's Choice
Who: Josh Johnson. Johnson, a one-time manager, is now a full-time photographer.
Favorite Filter: X Pro II
How he's using Instagram: "I've seen my feed change from a place to showcase my pictures into a little community within a community.
The basic question is 'How do you meet new people on Instagram? How do you get your photos noticed?' It's a real problem, especially if you're brand new. This is why I created the nightly forums, the weekly challenge and the #jj community gallery. They've all been big hits. The #jj community gallery has over 100,000 submissions and is the 6th most popular hashtag on Instagram."
Inspired by: "I started out in management and was miserable. The best decision I've ever made was to follow my passion and jump into photography as a lifestyle. I believe there are beautiful images scattered through our everyday lives. The secret to finding them is to slow down. Slow down enough so you can really see. It's exciting that more and more people are being surprised by their creativity. It's exciting that so many are now walking around with the tools to create and publish art. That's what our cellphones have become. Amazing."
@joshjohnson: Editor's Pick
Budding Instagramers can add more pop their photos by capturing pictures a little underexposed and applying the Lomofi filter, Johnson says.
Johnson also likes qbro and Filterstorm for occasional use, but prefers to keep his photo editing primarily to Instagram filters.
@nirl: Photographer's Choice
Who: Nir Leshem
Favorite Filter: Gotham. "It brings out the dark side of me," he says.
How he's using Instagram: "Everything I see along my day immediately transfers to a squared picture with a title. My main subjects are usually colored sunsets and sunrises which always fascinated me. Clouds, the beach and some angles in the street I find interesting. Usually I try to catch obvious subjects that we pass everyday and not notice."
Inspired by: I love scenery, the sea, sunsets, sunrises, nature in general and colors at 5 a.m. when everyone is asleep."
@nirl: Editor's Pick
Leshem really enjoys Instagram for its social and sharing features. He especially loves "the interactiveness with people I've never met from practically everywhere."
His other favorite iPhone camera apps are Pro HDR, Camera+, Filterstorm and Iris Photo Suite.
@jenniferjeffrey: Photographer's Choice
Who: Jennifer Jeffrey, a for-hire copywriter adept at brand messaging and content strategy.
Favorite Filtesr: Earlybird and Brannan
How she's using Instagram: "I use Instagram to share a glimpse of my life in San Francisco with others -- and to peer into the lives of people around the globe.
I only share iPhone photos on IG, and it's important to me to stay within the mobile boundary to challenge myself and grow. The IG community is quite eclectic and diverse, and I adore seeing how many different ways people use the app. From @cryingjune who makes incredibly minimalistic photos to @tonydetroit who creates ultra-processed gritty shots of urban Detroit, I am continually inspired by what I find there."
Inspired by: "A sense of wanting to be in the moment, to capture what I'm seeing around me -- from graffiti to street signs -- and share it.
@jenniferjeffrey: Editor's Pick
Jeffrey isn't a big user of third-party Instagram applications. "I did spend several hours with a friend last weekend printing IG photos to film, then transferring the photos on to different mediums -- wood blocks, metal plates. It was really wonderful to see them in a non-digital context," she says.
She's also keen on instagram-only photo editing. "I've tried so many [camera apps] -- you should see how many I have on my phone -- but I don't like fussing with my photos too much, so I've stopped using most of them. The only one I use regularly is Camera+ to brighten or add clarity," Jeffrey says.
@skwii: Photographer's Choice
Who: Jussi Ulkuniemi, iPhoneographer and photographer/artist based in Finland.
Favorite Filter: Apollo
How he's using Instagram: "I started using Instagram mainly as a photofeed for iPhoneography and editing, but not long after I really got hooked. I also started using it as a social network, chatting with … worldwide friends. I've already met some of them in real life and still can't believe what friendships have formed out of it!"
Inspired by: "My photos vary a lot, so it's kinda hard to say what inspires them. A lot comes from the people I follow in Instagram. Some come from crazy artists like Takashi Murakami and many other modern artists. I love gaming and Japanese manga, so those clearly have had an effect on my art."
@skwii: Editor's Pick
Ulkuniemi has several tips for getting the most out of Instagram. First, he says, choose specific filters for intended effects.
"For Earlybird, for example," he says, "add some contrast and shoot the saturation skyhigh. Your picture may look a bit horrible before adding the filter, but just wait and see, you'll love the strong pastel tones of the finished product."
"Also, for photographing with an iPhone, having almost no control of things like aperture, shutter speed or anything has its good and bad sides," Ulkuniemi adds. "The really good thing is that you can concentrate absolutely on the composition and angle. iPhones are also fit for the most extreme kinds of angles: try sticking your camera lens below grass or into a crack in the wall."
Lastly, he says, shoot with an idea before you snap. "You can spend a whole day taking crappy, shaky shots, or you could think, visualize and make art that you and others love."
@bbyrd: Photographer's Choice
Who: Brandy Byrd. Graphic designer at CMT and MTV networks.
Favorite Filter: Earlybird (it's the only filter she uses)
How she's using Instagram: "I think of Instagram as a daily journal, but with photos. I shoot in real time, so looking back, my photos remind me of things I did that day, or things that caught my eye. I also see it as a creative outlet. I'm a graphic designer, so it gets me away from my computer and makes me see things differently."
Inspired by: "All kinds of things. Music, color, space …"
@bbyrd: Editor's Pick
Byrd is in the Instagram-and-only-Instagram camp.
"I only use Instagram," she says. "All of my photos are shot with my iPhone 4, with Instagram's Earlybird filter. No other editing."
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 11:30 AM PDT
This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) re-launched its website, Energy.gov, to provide tools to help individuals and businesses better understand how to save energy and money. You can type your zip code into the site and get hyper-local information about your city, county and state, including information on tax credits, rebates and energy saving tips.
The site presents DOE data visually using the open source MapBox suite of tools, and localized data and maps can be shared or embedded on any website or blog. Other data sets the DOE is mapping include alternative fuel locations and per capita energy usage. Anyone can now compare how his state’s energy usage compares with others across the country. In addition to making the data more palatable for the public, the DOE is offering open data sets for others to use.
“Our goal is simple — to improve the delivery of public services online. We’re using government data to go local in a way that’s never been possible before. We’re connecting the work of the Energy Department with what’s happening in your backyard," says Cammie Croft, senior advisor and director of new media and citizen engagement at the DOE. "We're making Energy.gov relevant and accessible to consumers and small businesses in their communities."
How else is the Energy Department working to bring better information about energy, renewable energies and energy technology to the public? Here are a few examples.
1. Your MPG
If you're looking for the cheapest gas price near you, tips to maximize your gas mileage, or to compare new and used cars to identify the ones that will save you more on gas, look no further than FuelEconomy.gov. The site covers information about energy use and your vehicle including fuel use, fuel cost, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The “Your MPG” feature on the site lets you upload data about your own vehicle's fuel usage to your "cyber" garage and get a better picture of how your vehicle is doing in terms of energy consumption. The system also aggregates the personal car data from all of the site's users anonymously so people can share their fuel economy estimates.
“You can track your car’s fuel economy over time to see if your efforts to increase MPG are working,” says David Greene, research staffer at Oak Ridge National Lab. “Then you can compare your fuel data with others and see how you are doing relative to those who own the same vehicle.”
Greene says his team works with the data provided by the public to better understand why people's MPG varies. In the works for the site is a predictive tool you can use when you are in the market for a new or used vehicle to more accurately predict the kind of mileage any given car will give you, based on your particular driving style and conditions. The system, says Greene, reduces the +/- 7 mpg margin of error of standard EPA ratings by about 50% to give you a more accurate estimate of what your MPG will be.
2. America's Next Top Energy Innovator
In response to the White House's Startup America program supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, the Energy Department launched its own version — America's Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge. The technology transfer program gives startups the chance to license Energy Department technologies developed at the 17 national laboratories across the country at an affordable price. Entrepreneurs can identify Energy Department technologies through the Energy Innovation Portal, where more than 15,000 patent and patent applications are listed along with more than 450 market summaries describing some of the technologies in layman's terms.
Once a company selects the technology of interest to them, they fill out a short template to apply for an option — a precursor to an actual license of the patent — for $1,000. A company can license up to three patents on one technology from a single lab per transaction, and patent fees are deferred for two years. The program also connects entrepreneurs to venture capitalists as mentors.
"High-growth startups are the economic engine of job creation and supporting them is critically important," says Karina Edmonds, technology transfer coordinator at the DOE. "The America's Next Top Innovator Challenge will reduce barriers for startup creation based on Department of Energy technologies and reduce transaction costs — time and dollars."
Later this year, each lab will nominate one of the companies optioning their technologies. A panel including venture capital and program managers from the DOE will judge the nominees, and several winning companies will be featured at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. There are also plans for a social media component of the contest for a "people's choice" award.
3. Products: Smarter Windows
The DOE funds research and development efforts leading to the manufacturing of products that will someday be in our homes and significantly impact energy savings. One area of R&D applies to building efficiency, and more specifically, to windows.
DOE funding, along with private investments, supports a number of companies including the Michigan-based company Pleotint. Pleotint developed a specialized glass film that uses energy generated by the sun to limit the amount of heat and light going into a building or a home. The technology is called Sunlight Responsive Thermochromic (SRT™), and it involves a chemical reaction triggered by direct sunlight that lightens or darkens the window's tint. Windows made from this glass technology are designed to change based on specific preset temperatures.
Another DOE-funded company, Sage ElectroChromics, created SageGlass®, electronically controlled windows that use small electric charges to switch between clear and tinted windows in response to environmental heat and light conditions. And Soladigm has an electronic tinted glass product that is currently undergoing durability testing.
4. Solar Decathlon
Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon has challenged collegiate students to develop solar-powered, highly efficient houses. Student teams build modular houses on campus, dismantle them and then reassemble the structures on the National Mall. The competition has taken place biennially since 2005. Open to the public and free of charge, the next event will take place at the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. from September 23 to October 2, 2011. There are 19 teams competing this year.
Teams spend nearly two years planning and constructing their houses, incorporating innovative technology to compete in 10 contests. Each contest is worth 100 points to the winner in the areas of Architecture, Market Appeal, Engineering, Communications, Affordability, Comfort Zone, Hot Water, Appliances, Home Entertainment and Energy Balance. The team with the most points at the end of the competition wins.
During the competition, everything that uses electricity or water in the house is fully functional. To demonstrate this and to show efficient use of energy, teams engage in specific activities such as cooking and washing clothes. Houses don't just need to be affordable, attractive and livable — they also need to supply energy for cooking, cleaning and entertainment appliances and produce as much energy — or more — than the houses consume.
"The Solar Decathlon creates a powerful opportunity to raise public awareness about the energy-saving benefits of highly efficient home design and renewable energy technologies," says Richard King, director of the Solar Decathlon. "Through the competition, the next generation of engineers, architects, designers and other professionals will gain valuable experience that will help them lead America toward a clean energy future.”
Since its inception, the Solar Decathlon has seen the majority of the 15,000 participants move on to jobs related to clean energy and sustainability.
The DOE's digital strategy for the Solar Decathlon includes the use of QR codes to provide a mobile interactive experience for visitors to the event in Washington, D.C., as well as Foursquare checkin locations for the event and for each participating house. Many of the teams are already blogging leading up to the event and there are virtual tours and computer animated video walkthroughs to share the Solar Decathlon experience with a global audience. There will be TweetChats using the hashtag #SD2011 and other activities on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
In terms of renewable energies, the DOE tries to stay on the cutting edge. Some of their forward-thinking projects include the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), containing an interactive database toolkit for access to data relevant to anyone engaged with the biofuel, bioenergy and bioproduct industries. Another is an interactive database that maps the energy available from tidal streams in the United States. The database, developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology in cooperation with the Energy Department, is available online.
The tidal database gives researchers a closer look at the potential of tidal energy, which is a "predictable" clean energy resource. As tides ebb and flow, transferring tidal current to turbines to become mechanical energy and then converting it to electricity. There are already a number of marine and hydrokinetic energy projects under development listed on the site.
Where will energy technology go next? It's anybody's guess, but there’s a good chance the DOE will be there.
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The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.
Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 11:13 AM PDT
Back in high school, Blink 182 was the band that everybody loved or loved to hate. Well, the boys are back with their first single in eight years (and an upcoming U.S. tour). To celebrate, they’ve created a video sourced from fan-made YouTube vids — in which their music was used sans credit.
The video is called “Blink-182 Film Festival You Didn’t Know You Entered” and it’s a part of a new advertising campaign for AT&T, which the band is shilling for. (Check out the band’s ad for the HTC Status below.)
Apparently the band and AT&T combed through YouTube for videos in which the band’s music was used sans credit and then cut them all together in this ad hoc video for “Up All Night,” the aforementioned new single.
The video may be part of an advertising campaign, but it’s also an interesting way to approach this (very mild) form of piracy. Instead of punishing fans for celebrating Blink 182′s music with amateur cameras, the band is taking that shaky footage and using it for its own devices — while simultaneously rewarding those super fans.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 09:58 AM PDT
Google has partnered with Best Buy to offer the Nexus S Android smartphone free.
The phone, which is available on T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint, is free Wednesday (August 3) in conjunction with a two-year contract. The Nexus S, which is advertised as having a “pure Google experience” like the ill-fated Nexus One, debuted last fall.
The Nexus S 4G for Sprint is the first NFC-enabled Android device on the market and will work with the Google Wallet service that launches later this year.
The Nexus S runs Android 2.3, Gingerbread and features a 1Ghz processor, 16 GB of flash memory and a 4-inch touchscreen.
Google is advertising the free offer on its homepage and at the Nexus landing page. The phone is normally $99 or $199, depending on carrier, with a two-year contract, so interested buyers should act fast.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 09:33 AM PDT
The Social Media 101 Series is sponsored by Global Strategic Management Institute. GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more.
Posterous is a free blogging platform for people who want a simplified yet flexible way to create and maintain a blog. One of the key selling points for Posterous is that it allows you to send new posts to your Posterous blog via email, so you can easily update your site from any web-enabled mobile device. You can also connect Posterous with other sites like Facebook and Twitter, so that you can simultaneously send posts to all your social channels.
Posterous also aims to take “all the hard work” out of blogging by automatically formatting your post for optimal web viewing. If you send a photo, the site will resize and post it. Send a video, Posterous converts it for viewing on the web. Send a document, it gets embedded.
Here’s a step-by-step process for getting started.
1. Open an Account
There are two ways to get your Posterous blog up and running. The first way is to send an email to email@example.com that includes the title of your first blog post in the subject line and the content of the post in the body of the email. Within a few minutes, your first post will be live — it’s that simple. Once you receive a confirmation email from Posterous, you can click through to set up a username and password for your account and further customize the blog. Alternatively, you can go directly to posterous.com and create a username and password right from the home page.
Once you’ve got your username and password sorted, you can then proceed to the “Manage” screen, which will allow you to edit your profile, attach additional email addresses to your Posterous account, subscribe to other Posterous blogs, link your Posterous account to other online accounts, and create new posts without going through email.
2. Customize Your Blog
You can easily adjust your blog’s look and feel by changing the theme you’re using. Simply select “Edit theme” from the Settings section of the Manage page. Posterous currently has more than 40 free, built-in themes that you can use for your Posterous blog. Web developers can also adapt any of these themes with full HTML/CSS customization — you can also customize the color, the header and many other elements of your blog.
If you want to customize your domain, Posterous will take care of the domain name purchase for you, or you can point your Posterous blog to your existing custom domain.
3. Create and Post New Content
You can send a new blog post to Posterous at any time by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Create your new posts exactly as you did for your initial email — the email’s subject line will become your post title and any text or multimedia in the body of the email will appear in the Posterous post.
Here’s a quick video tutorial on how it works:
You can also easily post content to your blog by using the Posterous Bookmarklet. By dragging the “Share on Posterous” button to your bookmark bar, you will be able to select text, video, music or photos from any web page and post it instantly to your Posterous blog. To share text, simply highlight the content you want to share, then click on the Bookmarklet in your bookmark bar. A pop-up window will show the post, which you can then edit and finalize for posting. To share videos or photos, click the Bookmarklet in your bookmark bar, and a window will pop up that includes all the photos and videos on the page — select which of these you’d like to share, then edit and finalize your post.
4. Link other accounts to Posterous
By linking your other online accounts to Posterous, you can share your posts on several sites without having to go to these sites directly. To do this, go to the “Manage” screen and click on “Autopost to Everywhere.” Then follow the instructions for updating your account information for each of the web sites you want to post to.
Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll be able to post to these sites via email:
You can use the following service names to email to: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, blog, Blogger, Tumblr, YouTube, Vimeo, FriendFeed, Delicious, Laconica, Identica, LiveJournal, Plurk and Shopify.
5. Go Mobile
For example, the iPhone app lets you email a photo from within the Camera or Photos apps, and you can also email multiple photos to Posterous at once to create an image gallery. From within the Photo Library, click the “Share” icon in the lower left corner of the iPhone screen. Then select up to five photos. A checkmark will appear on photos you have selected. Then click “Share” in the lower left corner to email them to Posterous.
If you have an iPhone 3GS or later, you can also post video directly from the phone to Posterous. When viewing a video, just click “Share,” then email it to email@example.com. The video will get converted for the web and published to your site instantly.
Of course, since you can post to Posterous via email, you don’t really need to install an app to get going. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from your mobile device and attach photos, audio and video.
Series Supported by Global Strategic Management Institute
The Social Media 101 Series is sponsored by Global Strategic Management Institute, a leading source of knowledge for today’s leaders. Learn more by visiting GSMI’s website, liking it on Facebook and following it on Twitter.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 09:25 AM PDT
Time Inc. is embracing the tablet category full-on, vowing to bring all 21 of its magazines to not just the iPad but also to “all leading tablet platforms” by the end of 2011.
Titles such as Time, People and InStyle will join Sports Illustrated on iOS, Android and webOS tablets, as well as Nook Color ereaders and Next Issue Media, the digital storefront venture Time Inc. is a part of. (Notably, no titles will be coming to QNX, the software used by the BlackBerry PlayBook.)
It’s an aggressive declaration. Time Inc. isn’t merely promising that scanned print copies will be available on all of these platforms; it’s pledged to release apps that are designed specifically for each device.
Currently, only one title, Sports Illustrated, is publishing on multiple tablet platforms. Three other titles are publishing solely on the iPad, and the other 17 have yet to appear on any tablet device.
And as we have seen with Sports Illustrated, publishing on multiple tablet platforms requires a complete organizational — and mental — overhaul. Publishing schedules will need to be adjusted to accommodate multiple close dates each month, editors will need to begin to pitch stories with multimedia add-ons in mind and designers will need to be trained to format for multiple tablet OSes.
It will be a challenge, and one that Time Inc. is rightfully embracing. The tablet market is poised for rapid growth over the next half-decade, and although the iPad will make up the lion's share of worldwide tablet sales for much of it — nearly seven of every 10 tablets in consumers' hands at year's end will be iPads, Gartner forecasts — other tablet platforms are gaining.
It will be an exciting year for the magazine industry, to say the least, one which will see the evolution of many print-centric titles into full-fledged multimedia publications.
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 09:16 AM PDT
Teacher Katie Rieser once purchased a $700 student response system, better known as “clickers,” for her high school classroom with money she raised online. Now a new startup called Socrative is offering a way for teachers like her to create a similar tool with smartphones or laptops — for free.
Buying the clickers several years ago allowed Rieser to ask students an “exit” question at the end of each class that checked for both individual understanding of new concepts and common mistakes.
“It’s really helpful for me to have that right in front of me and be able to see what kids are understanding and what they’re not,” she says. “Even if it just comes down to, ‘Did he understand directions?’ ”
Other benefits of using a clicker system are obvious: Like students who might be too shy to raise their hands participate. It’s easy to track individual performance. And a teacher can theoretically give the class instant feedback. Plus, it makes grading quizzes easier. For all of these reasons, clickers have become a common teaching tool on many college campuses. One company announced last year that it had sold more than 1 million of them.
But $700 is a price that most classrooms can’t pay. And passing out hardware or setting up a system can be disruptive. It’s the latter point that eventually persuaded Rieser to favor Socrative’s free clicker solution, which she uses two or three times a week.
Socrative makes a web, iPhone and Android app that functions as a clicker system. After a teacher sets up an account, he or she receives a classroom number to give students. They simply enter the number in their phones or on a laptop and are ready to answer multiple choice questions, write short answers and compete in team challenges.
“They don’t have to create a user name and a password, it doesn’t have to be approved by an administrator, it doesn’t have to go through the school, we didn’t have to spend 45 minutes setting it up. … I get an excel sheet that I know what to do with,” she says.
Socrative co-founder Amit Maimon, who made the prototype while he was teaching a class at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says about 3,000 teachers have signed up for the app since its beta launch without marketing in April. Eventually the company would like to sell a premium service with individualized performance data for schools, parents and students.
Is Socrative viable for all classrooms? Probably not. A 2009 survey by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow found that about 31% of ninth- to 12th-grade students had smartphones with Internet access. Rieser uses Socrative with a cart of laptops that travels between classrooms, but many schools don’t have as easy access to technology — even if such access is generally improving.
Still, launching a web application is a much smaller barrier to what Maimon calls “visible thinking” than purchasing specific hardware or complicated software for the task.
“There are no bells and whistles,” Rieser says. “And I think that’s intentional.”
Image courtesy of istockphoto, Hiob
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 08:58 AM PDT
Facebook’s face-recognition photo-tagging system violates German and European privacy laws, says the city of Hamburg’s data protection agency.
The feature "recognizes" faces in photos, shortening the often tedious tagging process, which enables users to connect a face in a photo with a Facebook friend. The tool is enabled by default but can be disabled via a user’s privacy settings.
Facebook’s global rollout of the face-recognition feature created an uproar in the European Union and initiated an investigation in June, which focused on potential privacy risks.
Now Hamburg’s data protection official has sent a notice to Facebook to demand it stops using the face-recognition feature with German users and deletes any related data, reports The Guardian. German authorities will take action if Facebook does not comply — the world’s largest social network could face fines of up to €300,000 ($428,940 USD), an admittedly small fine for a company that’s valued at $50 billion.
This is not the first time that Facebook has encountered privacy problems in Germany. In January, the company was confronted by the same data protection agency and asked to limit the use of email addresses of people who aren't members of the social network. The two parties reached an agreement, only allowing Facebook to use non-member email addresses for its Friend-Finder feature.
Germany is quite serious about privacy — late last year, Google also ran into a privacy snafu regarding Street View. Prior to launching in Germany’s top 20 cities, Google enabled households to opt out of having their houses photographed for Street View. More than 240,000 households opted out, a total of 2.89% of total households. Google, however, will not be continuing its Street View ventures in Germany — it stopped adding new Street View pictures in the country back in April.
A Facebook rep told Spiegel Online the company was looking into the issue, but that it “firmly rejected any accusations that we are not complying with our obligations to European Union data protection laws.”
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 08:45 AM PDT
Yahoo‘s email service appeared to be suffering an outage Wednesday, though not all users were affected.
The site is producing an error message saying “This webpage is not available” and “Error 501 (net::ERR_INSECURE_RESPONSE): Unknown error.” Some users have taken to Twitter to complain: “Yahoo Mail is not letting me log in. That’s probably its way of saying ‘Stop using Yahoo Mail.,’” reads a tweet from @pensexperienceM. “WTF is wrong with #Yahoo mail?” asks @LisaPampuch.
“Some Yahoo services are currently inaccessible to some users in certain locations,” reads a statement from the company provided to Mashable. “We are working to correct the issue and restore all functionality immediately. We know that this may have caused some inconvenience and we apologize to our users who might be affected.”
Update: Yahoo’s email service was restored after noon EST on Wednesday: “Some of Yahoo services were inaccessible to some users in certain locations for a short period of time,” reads a statement from the company. “We worked quickly to resolve the issue, and are pleased that all services are restored to full functionality.”
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Posted: 03 Aug 2011 08:10 AM PDT
The Public Radio Exchange has teamed up with music intelligence company The Echo Nest to create an iOS app that serves up music news based on your iTunes.
Once you download Bandito [iTunes link], the app scans your iTunes library in order to determine your most-played artists. From there, the app presents you with a list of blog posts and news related to bands you dig, as well as a list of news about “hot” artists.
In terms of concept, this is pretty solid app. Yeah, you could get a Google alert every time your favorite band’s name graces the digital headlines, but this app makes it pretty simple to cut through the fluff.
However, Bandito could use a little work in execution. For instance, the app keeps insisting that my “Top Artists” are Depeche Mode and Spoon. Yes, I have one Depeche Mode album. I have no idea where it came from and I have never listened to it. And as for Spoon, yeah, if it were 2005, we’d be in business.
With the kinks worked out, Bandito could definitely be a fun little app to keep the casual listener updated on his or her favorite bands, and the hardcore music head satisfied during those interminable tune-less moments spent in the elevator every a.m.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, João Pedro, uai!
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