- iTunes Match Goes Live Internationally
- Fight Against SOPA Intensifies Surrounding House Debate
- Buffer App Lets Users Schedule Shares Directly From Twitter
- Students Turn Classroom Notes Into Cash With Social Site NoteWagon
- AP Stylebook’s New Tool Automatically Edits Your Writing
- Why Facebook Uses MySQL for Timeline
- 7 Language Translation iPhone Apps for the Digital Traveler
- Branding: How It Works in the Social Media Age [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Google Receives Patent for Self-Driving Car Technology [VIDEO]
- Mozilla Firefox Challenge Pits 12 Celebs in Battle of the Most Charitable
- RIM: BlackBerry 10 Phones Not Coming Until Late 2012
- Facebook Timeline: How to Enable It With One Click [PICS]
- Consumers Not Turning to Social Media Sites for Local Business Info [STUDY]
- Zynga to Raise $1 Billion in IPO [REPORT]
- SOPA Supporters Outed as Content Pirates on YouHaveDownloaded Database?
- House SOPA Debate Raises Specter of a ‘Lawless’ Internet
- How Mark Cuban Helps JungleCents Win at Daily Deals
- Which Shipping Service Will Get Your Presents Under the Tree in Time? [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Can You Teach Entrepreneurship? [VIDEO]
- U.S. Teen Mobile Data Usage Triples [STUDY]
- Dwolla Loans Users $500 to Make Instant Payments Through Facebook and Twitter
- 5 Ultimate Business Travel Stories
- 19 Biggest Social Media Moments of 2011
- How the World Googled in 2011
- Undercover Investigation Reveals How Easy It Is to Buy Guns on Craigslist [VIDEO]
- What It Takes to Be a Successful Social Good Entrepreneur
- British Facebook Users Are Intoxicated in 76% of Their Photos [STUDY]
- Google Shows Soft Side in Ad for Ice Cream Sandwich [VIDEO]
- Grand Theft Auto III Is Worth Your Mobile Dollar [REVIEW]
- Ron Howard Film to Make World Premiere on YouTube
Posted: 16 Dec 2011 01:01 AM PST
iTunes Match, Apple’s service which allows users to access their music library – including non-iTunes songs – from Apple’s cloud, has started rolling out internationally, TUAW reports.
Users are reporting the service going live in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and other countries, even though Apple hasn’t officially announced it yet.
iTunes Match, which went live in the US in November 2011, appears as an option in iTunes, allowing users to access their entire music collection from up to 10 PCs and iOS devices for $24.99 a year.
The service matches users’ music with the 20 million+ songs in iTunes Store, and the users only need to upload the songs which aren’t available there, which is usually a smaller part of their music collection.
All iTunes matches can be played back from Apple’s iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC quality, DRM-free, even if the original copy was of lower quality.
For more Entertainment coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 08:59 PM PST
The House Judiciary Committee met to debate changes to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on Thursday as the public debate between players with deep pockets on both sides reached new heights.
If the bill at issue, SOPA, were to become law, it would create a "blacklist" of websites that infringe on copyrights. Private companies who allege that a site is unlawfully publishing their copyrighted content could, with a judge's signature, demand that ad networks and companies such as PayPal and Visa stop doing business with such sites. Internet service providers would need to prevent Americans from visiting them.
On one side of the debate are entities that rely heavily on copyright such as Disney, the Motion Picture Assoication of America and (MPAA) the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They argue that SOPA prevents piracy and revenue they’re entitled to. On the other are giant Internet companies such as Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and eBay as well as Internet freedom organizations, who argue the law threatens to destroy the Internet as we know it.
Both sides have been slinging mud at each other since the bill was first introduced in the House this October. But the best dirt (thus far) went flying in the days leading up to the House debate.
A group of 83 prominent Internet engineers kicked things off on Thursday with a scathing open letter to Congress stating their opposition to both SOPA and its sister Senate bill PIPA.
“If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure,” they wrote.
A similar sentiment was echoed in a second open letter signed by the likes of Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey, Arianna Huffington and Marc Andreessen.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who signed the second letter, followed it up with a Google+ post that compares SOPA to censorship in China, Iran and pre-revolution Libya and Tunisia. Google has hired 15 lobbying firms to fight the bills, according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales floated the idea of shutting down the site for American visitors in protest of the proposed laws.
SOPA supporters also had their say on Thursday and during the weeks leading up to the debate.
They ran a full-page ad in the Washington Post on Thursday, and earlier in the week ran them in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Last month Viacom, which is engaged in a lengthy legal battle with YouTube over copyright issues, published a seven-minute long video on its website that dramatically spells out why it supports the bills.
“It means that maybe the next season of Spongebob won’t come back because the people who made it didn’t get paid,” says Nickelodean Senior Director of Digital Marketing Julie Sun at one point in the video.
Shortly later, a “truth annotated edition” of the video appeared on YouTube that adds counter-arguments. Embedded below, it provides an overview of a public debate that will likely only intensify.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 08:29 PM PST
Twitter app Buffer introduced a new feature this week allowing users to schedule retweets directly from Twitter.com. By installing Buffer with the new Twitter extension launched on Tuesday, users will now see a “Buffer” option on tweets alongside the normal built-in “Reply,” “Retweet” and “Favorite” options.
When users click the new option, a selected tweet will then be shared at a specific time — unless users decide to do so immediately — as a retweet with the original “RT” signifier. Buffer says the new feature allows Twitter users the ability to space their tweets out while avoiding the hassle of an extra dashboard.
Launched in January 2011, Buffer began as a service to allow Twitter users to share at the most opportune moments according to research on Twitter’s peak times. Buffer schedules tweets for four high-usage times of day, which users can leave as default settings or modify as they choose. The most popular free version allows users to connect up to two accounts and queue up to ten social updates at a time, while its paid versions allow increased numbers of joined accounts and stored tweets.
The app still works as an unobtrusive if not entirely unique browser extension for creating original tweets from different web pages, but it’s the new Twitter.com extension that Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich said takes the service to a new level.
“What we have done now is very much in line with what we have always wanted to do, which is just to make Twitter easier and smarter to use,” Widrich said in an interview.
Buffer also launched another new feature last week, a “Buffer” button for blogs, to go alongside options to tweet, share via Facebook and share via Google+ at the end of articles. Widrich said the blog button has already been installed on about 1,000 blogs worldwide.
Buffer certainly appears to be doing some innovative things by allowing Twitter users to share more conveniently and effectively, but it’s just one of more than a million registered apps in the Twitter ecosystem. What are your favorites? What do you think of Buffer’s new Twitter extension? Let us know in the comments.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 08:00 PM PST
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: NoteWagon is a peer-to-peer network that turns student notes taken into cash.
Genius Idea: The company encourages student collaboration in academics by rewarding them with money.
As universities become more competitive amid a tough-hiring environment, students are faced now more than ever with the pressure to succeed in the classroom. To alleviate some of those pressures, a service called NoteWagon encourages — with cash — students to work together and exchange notes on various subjects.
The social platform is trying to redefine college education by offering students the ability to swap course content in a social manner. Students who take excellent notes in class and are willing to help their peers can upload notes and study guides from their university classes and share them with others. NoteWagon pays these students for their contributions and also extracts a small fee from the ones that access the notes.
Launched in Canada earlier this year, NoteWagon currently has approximately 30,000 users throughout nearly 30 colleges and universities in North America. A few of the most highly active Canadian schools are McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Ryerson University and University of Guelph.
“Students have to deal with a lot of pressure to perform well in academics and the decrease in professor-to-student ratios has added more stress for students,” says Jamie Wang, founder of NoteWagon. “NoteWagon is a place that gives students an incentive to help each other by exchanging notes while also earning money.”
Wang told Mashable they decided to reward contributors with money after realizing students are more likely to oblige if there is a financial incentive.
To use NoteWagon, students in North America create a profile that includes their school name, major and classes. They can then upload handwritten or typed notes to their designated courses and also participated in Q&A sessions and discussion boards. Students looking to access notes and study guides can preview them on the site before purchasing them.
If they decide they want an entire document, they have to use NoteWagon tokens to purchase and download them. Students can earn tokens by referring friends to the site or they can purchase tokens in packages. Based on the size of the package, NoteWagon takes a 30 – 50% cut of the price.
Choose from a range of notes and study guides.
Although students can sell their notes for whatever price they would like, NoteWagon provides price suggestions based on the types of notes uploaded. For example, $2 is recommended for a lecture summary, while $3 is standard for reading notes on each chapter. Meanwhile, $5 – $10 is expected for an exam study guide and $20 is typically charged for comprehensive course study guides. Note takers can choose to either receive a check in the mail or cash their earnings through PayPal.
Although course notes and study guides could potentially influence students to not go to class, Wang says he isn’t worried about that happening.
“Shared notes are only based off of a student’s interpretation of a lecture,” says Wang. “Students have always used tutors and exam preps to help study for courses. NoteWagon is just another option that is more affordable for them.”
Image courtesy of NoteWagon, NoteWagon
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.
For more Business coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 07:28 PM PST
The Associated Press unleashed software Thursday that proofreads content using AP Stylebook's guidelines on spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.
The new plug-in software — AP StyleGuard — works in Microsoft Word and will come in handy for writers and editors who produce and publish news articles and press releases.
“AP StyleGuard speeds up checking AP style on potential problems, since the user does not need to find the relevant listing in the Stylebook, and it adds much deeper coverage by pointing out possible corrections the writer didn't even think to check,” says Colleen Newvine, product manager of the AP Stylebook, in an announcement. “AP style is constantly evolving, so if we didn't have a listing previously or if our guidance has changed, AP StyleGuard helps keep the user up to date."
AP StyleGuard is available only for PC users, but in a tweet, @APStylebook hints at someday bringing the tool to Macs. Subscribers of the online AP Stylebook will get a beta version of AP StyleGuard starting Dec. 16, while print subscribers will get the tool Jan. 16. The product, which operates on Windows XP and higher and Microsoft Office 2003 or higher, launches to the masses April 1.
Equiom Linguistic Labs powers the tool and will update the software often to keep up with changes or additions to AP Stylebook. For subscription prices and installation instructions, click here.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 06:52 PM PST
A little-known fact about Facebook Timeline: It relies on MySQL, a database-management system that was originally designed to be used in small-scale applications on just one or a few machines — a far cry from the 800+ million users of the world’s largest social network. What gives?
In this report from Wired, Serkan Piantino, who will be in charge of Facebook’s New York engineering office, reveals that Facebook turned to MySQL to help address the memory needs of Timeline, since it works in a fundamentally different way from the news feed.
Since Timeline is more concerned about organizing data neatly than shooting out updates in real time, MySQL is well suited for the app. Although the data is aggregated in the same location as the data is kept (i.e. not over a network connection), that data is managed by MySQL, and not an alternative like NoSQL or Hadoop Hbase.
“A lot of people are surprised that for this shiny new thing for Facebook, we're using MySQL," Piantino told Wired. "We treat [MySQL] as a generic engine for data manipulation. We use it as a storage engine. And it's really efficient.”
Although Piantino frames it as a choice, it could have been made out of necessity. Facebook is thought to rely heavily on MySQL, which is ideal for a small system since it’s open source and free. Perfect for an ambitious Harvard student starting a social network in his dorm room.
However, MySQL isn’t something a massive digital company would pick as its go-to database platform. Derrick Harris expertly lays out the larger issues of Facebook relying on MySQL in this article at GigaOm, where database guru Micheal Stonebreaker calls it a “fate worse than death.”
Facebook is constantly working on improving its MySQL implementation, however, and even has a page dedicated to the issue. It’s quite active, and has over 74,000 members.
What do you think of Facebook’s use of MySQL, and with Timeline specifically? Is it a time bomb waiting to happen, or a savvy use of existing technology? Let us know in the comments.
For more Dev & Design coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 06:15 PM PST
Mike Sowden is a UK-based freelance writer specializing in tech, green and travel. His work has been featured in The Huffington Post, EcoSalon and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Language apps on the iPhone have come a long way over the past year. Some offer shiny new takes on the traditional language study process; others are trying to do all the work for us, arguably robbing us of the ability to learn a new language. While some language apps are limited in scope or sometimes wildly inaccurate, there are several proven educational options out there.
These seven such iPhone apps will aid you through the process of language education and translation. But keep in mind, quality translation comes at a price.
Google certainly knows how to pack the languages in: voice input for 17 languages, spoken translations for 24 languages and text translations for 63 languages. If you've used the online version of Translate you'll have an idea how it mangles more complex sentences, but for conveying the gist, this tool works just fine. Google earns further brownie points for its minimalist interface and the ability to save previous translations offline.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 05:47 PM PST
Branding and social media — they seem to go together so well, yet they’re both widely misunderstood. While social media can serve as a gigantic megaphone for your brand, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter can also give a company a golden opportunity to shoot itself in the figurative foot.
How are people using social media to interact with brands, and how are companies using the power of social media to reach more customers? Who is most receptive to brands on Twitter? How about on Facebook?
It’s time to shed some light on branding and social media, and to do that, AYTM Market Research surveyed 2,000 Internet users, randomly chosen from its huge built-in online panel. The researchers asked a variety of questions about how Internet users like to get updates about brands, where they like to hang out online, the kinds of people brand managers can expect to encounter in the social media universe, and whether prospective customers prefer to interact with brands on social media.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 05:04 PM PST
Google has received a patent for its driverless car technology. First revealed a year ago, the patent includes a plan for mixed-mode autonomous driving – a driving method in which the car takes full control after passing a reference indicator, while a human is still in the driver’s seat.
Check out the video above to get an inside look into the new technology.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 04:34 PM PST
Mozilla is hoping people see the socially-minded side of its popular Firefox web browser with a new celebrity-fueled charity campaign called the Mozilla Firefox Challenge.
The Challenge, hosted on the Crowdrise fundraising platform, pits 12 celebrities in a race to see who can raise the most money for their cause. Users can donate to the charity/celebrity they like best or even sign on to help fundraise for the cause using crowdrise.
The celebrities, including Paul Rudd, Jason Bateman, Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Sean Penn, Barbara Streisand and others, will offer weekly prizes and giveaways to spur participation. Mozilla seeded each campaign with $5,000 on Dec. 14, when the challenge started. Final dollar amounts will be counted on Jan. 11, 2012 when Mozilla will announce a winner and chip-in an additional $25,000 to the top cause.
Mozilla is hosting the challenge as a way to shed light on its social mission. The site reads: “We’ve brought together thousands of people to build a better web. Not for profit, but for good.” The statement has a similar ring to Google’s outlook, which claims its products and services are a way to make the Internet better and easier to use for everybody.
Check out the official Challenge page for a full list of causes, celebrities and prizes. Are you motivated to donate and do you think Mozilla is a force for Internet good? Let us know in the comments below.
For more Social Good coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 03:57 PM PST
The next generation of BlackBerry phones will be late. RIM said today in a quarterly earnings call that phones running BlackBerry 10 — based on the same software on the PlayBook tablet — won’t be arriving until the second half of 2012.
The news marks the low point in another lousy quarter for RIM. Although it’s still making money with $5.17 billion in revenue, that’s down from $5.49 billion the year before.
Looking at profits, however, the picture gets darker. The company recorded a profit of $265 million compared with $911 million last year. The current quarter took some big one-time hits, though, the largest being a $485 million write-down on the PlayBook.
Many of the company’s tablets went unsold this quarter, even after deep discounting. RIM shipped just 150,000 tablets over the entire quarter, down from 200,000 the previous quarter. For comparison, Apple reported selling (not shipping) 300,000 iPads in the first day of its release in 2010.
Despite the PlayBook being widely seen as the company’s albatross, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said during an earnings call that RIM is “completely committed to the PlayBook,” and that a coming software update will elevate it to something special.
“We still view the tablet market in its infancy and it’s rapidly evolving,” he said. “We know there’s a demand for the [PlayBook], and people are enjoying the experience. The software upgrade will be substantial.”
RIM plans to release version 2.0 of the PlayBook software early in the new year. The update will finally bring a native email client to the device (users currently need to tether it to a BlackBerry phone to read email). It will also be able to interface with BlackBerry servers, as well as those from other companies.
On the phone side, RIM plans to push forward with aggressive marketing of its current crop of BlackBerry 7 phones in the period before BlackBerry 10 arrives. Its main target: first-time smartphone buyers.
“There is a very powerful opportunity at the entry level,” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said. “That exists in just about every market in the world. Some the most sophisticated markets in the world are still over half on feature phones.”
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 03:01 PM PST
When Facebook first started experimenting with its radical new (and I think, sensational) Timeline interface back in late September, we showed you an 8-step way to get a sneak preview. Now, it’s a whole lot easier: You can enable the timeline with one click, and then publish it for all to see with one more.
Follow this quick slide show, and before you know it you’ll have the Facebook Timeline enabled on your own account. The best part is, after you click the “Get Timeline” button, you have seven days until it automatically goes live, but until then, you’re the only one who will see it until you authorize it to be published. However, if you don’t want to wait seven days, you can publish it any time by clicking “Publish Now.”
So until Dec. 22, you can go through and edit whatever you’d like to hide from all your Facebook friends and followers, making sure your privacy is intact. Once you’ve pruned your Facebook Timeline to your comfort level, click the “Publish Now” button, and all your timeline goodness is immediately displayed for all to see.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for enabling Timeline now, and you’ll notice the process is a whole lot easier than it was before. If you’d rather have a simple list to show you how to do this, you can see that just below this slideshow:
1. Log In and Click
1. Be sure you're logged into your Facebook account, then go to the About Timeline page by clicking here.
Easy Method, No Editing:
Still Easy, Edit Before Anyone Sees It:
1. Be sure you’re logged into your Facebook account.
2. Go to the About Timeline page.
3. Click on "Get Timeline."
4. Scroll down on your timeline and edit or remove any items you don’t want shown. Do that by holding your cursor over the upper right of the item you want to edit, and then make your choice on the drop-down list.
5. From that list you can change the date of the item, add a location, hide it from the timeline, delete the post altogether, or report it/mark it as spam.
6. If you’d like to “feature” any of the posts, click on the star icon to the left of that pencil icon, and that item will be expanded all the way across the page, made larger for all your friends to see.
7. Once you’re satisfied with all the edits you’ve made, either go back to the top of the Timeline and click “Publish Now,” or do nothing and it’ll be automatically published on December 22.
1. View All Your Timeline Content
Facebook's mysterious algorithm decides which stories will showcase on your Timeline.
However, it also includes half-hidden posts. Posts that are marked on your Timeline, but not displayed, are noted by a blue dot on the central line. You can view these posts by clicking on the individual blue dots.
A quicker method is to click on the three blue dots underneath each year. This gives you the option to view all stories within that year.
Mashable’s Complete Facebook Timeline Coverage
Facebook Timeline Essentials
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 02:38 PM PST
People who look for information about local restaurants and businesses are turning to the Internet but not social media sites, according to a new study.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that the Internet far outpaces other sources for local business information, followed by newspapers and word of mouth. Yet people rely very little on sites such as Facebook and Twitter for this type of information.
More than half (51%) of adults who look for news and information about local restaurants, bars and clubs use the Internet to do so. About 38% of this demographic performs search engine queries for local restaurant information, while 17% visit specialty sites. Only 3% said they turn to social networking sites.
Even more surprising is that only one percent of those who look for information about local businesses beyond restaurants — such as retail stores — turn to social networking sites. The news comes as more local restaurants and businesses focus marketing initiatives around social media sites.
Small businesses aren’t convinced about the impact of social media either. A study revealed last month that only 12% of local businesses considered using social media a “must” for their business, while 50% said they couldn't do without word-of-mouth marketing.
Meanwhile, the more recent Pew report found that newspapers remain popular for finding out information about local businesses. Among the 31% of culture seekers who prefer this method, about 26% read printed copies while 5% visit their favorite newspaper sites. Word of mouth is also a popular way to find out information about local spots, with 23% of respondents who look for business information reporting that as their favored approach.
People who seek out information and news about local businesses and restaurants are more likely to have college educations and earn a salary of $75,000, according to Pew. This group is also more likely to be young female adults living in urban environments.
The study was conducted over the phone among 2,251 adults age 18 and older, with a margin of error of 2.4%.
Are you surprised that more people aren’t turning to social media sites for local business information? What can local businesses do to make its social networking profiles more of a destination for information?
For more Business coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 02:13 PM PST
Zynga is offering 100 million shares to the public at $10 each for a potential $1 billion IPO, according to a report.
Bloomberg is currently reporting the figure, but hasn’t elaborated further. Zynga reps could not be reached for comment. Other outlets, including The Wall Street Journal also reported that Zynga was preparing to file a final IPO price on Thursday. The pricing is at the high end of the previously reported $8.50 to $10 per-share range.
Zynga intially filed to go public in July and planned to raise as much as $2 billion for a valuation of $20 billion. The company, however, delayed its IPO later in the summer because of the volatility of the market. At the current price, Zynga’s valuation would be in the $10 billion range.
More to come…
For more Business coverage:
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 02:03 PM PST
As heat continues to build around the controversial and contentious Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), one site is taking matters into its own hands to out opponents of piracy as pirates themselves.
YouHaveDownloaded.com is a site that keeps track of everything you have downloaded from file-sharing sites and torrents. The site tracks IP addresses (an identifying number given to computers attached to the Internet) that use sites such as the BitTorrent network. It then matches these IP addresses with a list of files that have been downloaded.
Logging into YouHaveDownloaded.com will do a quick cross-check of your IP with the site’s database of potentially pirated downloads and show you your potentially criminal download history. More impressively, you can use the site to look up other IP addresses, torrent hashes or specific files.
At time of writing, the site has a database of nearly 54 million users (IP addresses), more than 118,000 torrents and more than 2 million files.
While this sounds like trouble for illegal downloaders, the site, designed as an open tool for anyone to use, is actually being used to bust people that support stricter online piracy laws.
SOPA is a bill designed to curb and punish online copyright violations. It has been supported by media companies, especially those in Hollywood and the film business. The bill, however, would impose tough penalties on websites for any kind of copyright infringement even if it was uploaded externally. The classic example is that a video on YouTube of Justin Bieber singing another artists song without permission would not only land Bieber in court but also put YouTube at risk of shut-down. The bill has turned into a fight between Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
YouHaveDownloaded.com, however, is showing that the bill’s supporters aren’t so innocent. TorrentFreak, a BitTorrent blog, recently revealed that IP addresses seemingly coming from Sony Pictures, Universal and Fox had been illegally downloading content, ZDNet reported.
Now that’s a sticky situation: All three companies are members of AFACT, a coalition of companies fighting copyright infringements. TorrentFreak even busted the French President Nicholas Sarkozy for illegal downloads coming from the IP address of the Presidential palace.
Of course, YouHaveDownloaded.com is not exhaustive. The site only tracks around 20% of public downloads and doesn’t keep track of dynamic IP addresses, which can be used to protect online identities. Because the site uses IP addresses, it’s also possible to have downloads appear on your history that you didn’t actually do if you’re part of a large network such as, say, Sony or Universal.
Fans of privacy need not worry, the site doesn’t keep track of personal details and the odds are low that a casual user will know your specific IP address. At any rate, we’re sure you’re safe — you’re not downloading from torrents anyways. Right?
Are you glad the site exists or is it cause for concern? Does it matter that Sony, Universal and Fox are allegedly housing pirates?
Image courtesy of Flickr, Vanessa Pike-Russell
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 01:29 PM PST
The House Judiciary Committee spent hours on Thursday debating changes to Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the bill that some call “piracy protection” and others say threatens the Internet as we know it.
If passed, SOPA would lead to the creation of a “blacklist” of websites that infringe on copyrights. Private companies who allege that a site is unlawfully publishing their copyrighted content could, with a judge’s signature, demand that ad networks and companies such as PayPal and Visa stop doing business with such sites. Internet service providers would need to prevent Americans from visiting them.
The bill has been widely supported by record and movie companies, which depend on copyright protection, and opposed by some of the largest Internet companies in the world, including Google, Facebook and Twitter.
During the debate, Rep. Lamar Smith, who introduced the bill in October, argued that “While the internet should be free, it should not be lawless” and that the proposed law “will make it more difficult for those who engage in criminal behavior to reach directly into the U.S. market to inflict harm on American consumers.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and others argued that the proposed law was too extreme. "We never tried to filter the telephone networks to block illegal content on the telephone network,” he said, according to Wired. “Yet that is precisely what this legislation would do relative to the internet."
No vote has been taken on the bill, but an amendment that would have excluded universities and research institutions from having to blacklist sites was defeated.
More About: SOPA
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 01:11 PM PST
Mark Cuban wins at many things, especially business and professional basketball. Now the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and film distributor Magnolia Pictures thinks JungleCents — the online deals site he’s invested in — will also be a hit.
Cuban’s involvement with JungleCents reflects the advantages that startups can find in celebrity investors.
For example, a contest running through Friday that gives new email subscribers a chance to win a one-on-one lunch with Cuban has triggered an “overwhelming response” from new subscribers, according to company co-founder Sameer Mehta.
“His name is a great conversation starter with people,” Mehta said.
But as JungleCents’ sole investor, Cuban says it’s much more than just his presence that will make JungleCents’ twist on the online deals business a success in an industry riddled by criticism and skepticism.
“We aren’t trying to be the next Groupon or LivingSocial,” he told Mashable in an email. “We aren’t financed with $100 million. We are a lean, mean startup that can make money by executing on a business plan.”
Similar to the online bargain space’s bigger names, JungleCents offers weekly deals to subscribing consumers. But Mehta said two specific differences set JungleCents apart.
JungleCents focuses exclusively on deals with national brands, and frequently pairs those brands with specific editorial content on partner sites such as AskMen and Complex. Mehta and Cuban think JungleCents has found a sweet spot that will appeal to consumers and e-commerce sites alike by targeting people searching for information first, rather than simple bargain hunters. Their argument is that the model attracts a higher quality of customer for the advertising brands while not bombarding consumers with a deluge of random deals.
While other deal sites “are about creating customers for themselves, JungleCents is about the creating a source of revenue for the sites we partner with,” Cuban said.
Mehta and co-founder Nadir Hyder started JungleCents while attending Carnegie Mellon University, from which they graduated in 2009. They launched the current iteration of JungleCents last year, and Mehta said attracting Cuban as an investor was key to getting the company off the ground.
Ashton Kutcher, Will Ferrell and Kanye West are other celebrities known for giving cash and buzz to ambitious startups.
While JungleCents keeps its funding totals undisclosed, the company has reportedly raised some $1.5 million so far with a second round coming soon. More than monetary value, though, Mehta said Cuban’s value to the company lies in his business acumen and general popularity.
“He really appeals to all sorts of people — business, sports, entrepreneurship,” Mehta said.
Cuban is famous for selling his website Broadcast.com to Yahoo for more than $5 billion in 1999 and for being the high-profile owner of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. The win-a-lunch contest ending Friday has shown the leverage of his celebrity in gaining attention for JungleCents, with nearly 1,000 people asking him questions via Twitter as part of the promotion.
JungleCents has also collaborated for deal offers with the Mavericks and HDNet, the television channel Cuban helped launch in 2001, and helped out in other ways too.
“Aside from his advice, where he chimes in on the focus and direction of the company, his name does help because we are a sales-focused company, so it’s easier to get a foot in the door with brands to pitch our products and services,” Mehta said.
The company currently offers two or three deals per week and partners with five web publishers. In the next few months, Mehta said, JungleCents hopes to scale to three to five weekly offers and expand its publisher network to between 10 and 15 editorial content creators.
In striving to meet those goals, you can bet JungleCents will continue leveraging the name, knowledge and influence of Cuban, their big-name investor.
What do you think? Can JungleCents carve out a successful niche in the online deals space? How advantageous is a famous backer like Cuban to young startups?
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 12:52 PM PST
It’s no secret that more and more people are moving to the digital world when it comes to shopping. Checking off your holiday list from the comfort of your own home can be much less stressful — no lines, no crowds and it all comes straight to your house.
What can be tricky about online shopping is making sure you’re not waiting until the last minute to get orders in. There’s nothing more embarassing than having to give someone an order slip for Christmas. (Trust me, I’ve been there.)
This handy infographic, created by the people at Visual.ly, provides order deadlines leading all the way up to Dec. 25 for many major retailers and shipping services. Some of the deadlines have already been met, so be sure to complete your holiday shopping soon!
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 12:33 PM PST
Can you teach entrepreneurship? Bestselling author Eric Ries thinks so. He also thinks that entrepreneurship must be taught to more people if the American economy is to successfully pivot to a post-manufacturing world. According to Ries, we’ve gotten so efficient at manufacturing that even though we’re making more stuff than ever before, there are less jobs available to do it. That’s why economic survival lies in our ability to better teach the business of creativity and entrepreneurship.
Ries’ new book, The Lean Startup, has climbed to #2 on the NY Times Bestseller List, in the “Advice and Misc.” category. In the book, Ries talks about his strategies for running a successful startup, which are based on the “lean manufacturing” process that originated with Toyota.
Check out our interview with Ries for his advice on the metrics that entrepreneurs should really be paying attention to, why he thinks job titles are irrelevant in the startup world and how the lean startup model helped Instagram pivot to its present business model.
Follow Venture Studio, in association with Mashable, which is brought to you by Square1 Bank. The show is hosted by Dave Lerner, a 3x entrepreneur and angel investor. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 12:04 PM PST
We already knew that teens out-text the rest of us, but this year their mobile data consumption accelerated at an unprecedented rate as well.
Teens ages 13 to 17 used 256% more mobile data in the third quarter of 2011 than in the same time period of 2010. Teens took in 320 MB of data per month on average, with males using 382 MB and females using 266 MB. Adults between 25 and 34 still use the most mobile data, averaging 578 MB each month. The chart below shows a complete breakdown of mobile data usage by age.
For this study, Nielson analyzed recent mobile data from more than 65,000 U.S. subscribers. The study finds that the number of smartphone owners using mobile Internet has increased 45% this year, accounting for the widespread increase of mobile data usage.
When it comes to texting, teens’ famously beloved mobile activity, they send seven texts per waking hour on average, or 3,417 messages per month. In Q3 of 2010 that number was higher, averaging 3,729 per month. Teen girls reign as texting queens, sending 3,952 messages per month. Teen boys, in comparison, send 2,815 texts per month.
Monthly texts sent decreased in order of age group, though no group comes close to matching teens’ patterns. You can see each age group’s monthly averages in the below chart.
Following texting, the most popular mobile activities for teens were all data heavy — surfing the Internet, social networking, emailing, downloading apps and using apps.
Voice minute usage is on the decline, especially for teens. The group used 17% less voice minutes this year (down from 685 minutes to 572 minutes), preferring texting for its speed, ease and fun.
Do your patterns mimic teens, using more data and less voice minutes? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, JPott
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 11:44 AM PST
Online payment startup Dwolla has attracted more than 70,000 users with money transfers that are both less expensive and, it says, safer than traditional credit cards. Now, it’s further challenging the plastic in your wallet by allowing you to make such transactions instantly — and on credit.
Dwolla users make payments through Twitter, Facebook, SMS and other virtual channels by connecting their bank accounts to their Dwolla accounts. The service integrates with social networks to alert payment recipients that there is money waiting for them in their own Dwolla accounts that can be transferred to their bank account. Payments of up to $10 are free and anything larger costs $0.25. Up until Thursday, however, there was no way to use Dwolla to make instant payments because the transfer between banks and Dwolla usually takes two or three days.
“Instant,” the new opt-in feature Dwolla launched Thursday, solves this problem by spotting users as much as $500 when their accounts are empty. The feature costs $3 per month no matter how many times it is used, and late fees are $5 per month.
Sound like an instant target for scammers? Preventing it from becoming so is part of what Dwolla considers its secret sauce. One reason the startup is able to offer payment transfers with lower fees than big credit card companies is that purely digital transactions present fewer opportunities for data theft than physical swiping. In theory, Dwolla will deal with fewer expensive fraud cases than its traditional counterparts.
The startup is backed by financial services firm The Members Group, which deals with card processing, payment solutions and prepaid cards. The firm has been helping Dwolla develop screening methods that assess risk of new members before they’re accepted.
Still not convinced? If Dwolla continues piling on transactions at its current rate, you might be soon. In December 2010, the company was processing about $500,000 of transactions per week. By June 2011, they were processing $1 million per day.
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:50 AM PST
Last week we asked you, the Mashable community, what is your ultimate business travel story?
We received a number of unique responses. Some were epically funny, while others were quite touching.
Check out their winning stories in the slideshow below. Congrats to our winners and thanks to all who participated!
Forgetting to Reset Your Alarm
Jenna Ennis shares her business travel story about sleeping and not waking up til one hour before the plane took off. It sounds like she had the most filled hour of her life. Luckily in the end she made it back home safely.
Photo courtesy Nick Morrish, British Airways.
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:36 AM PST
These days, it seems we can’t go a week without encountering a viral video, a meme sensation or a new digital movement. The year 2011 forged an unprecedented path for these such social media phenomena.
Whether that meant influencing YouTube marketing with a viral advertising campaign or mobilizing the online communication of an entire political movement, people are discovering that social media is one of the most powerful vehicles for change the world has ever experienced. In 2011, people were not only affected by social media — they actually effected social media change itself.
We’ve highlighted 19 influential social media moments of the year. Some will make you giggle, while others will cause you to cringe. Either way, they contributed to a better informed and more entertained global community.
How do you predict social media will effect change in 2012?
Viral star Rebecca Black uploaded her music video "Friday" to YouTube and achieved viral status with 167 million views -- and mixed reviews.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:18 AM PST
Following the release of Yahoo’s most-searched list, Google has released its annual Zeitgeist report, revealing the most popular search terms of 2011 by region and worldwide.
The search giant analyzed billions of searches performed in 2011 and compared them with searches from 2010 to identify emerging trends. YouTube sensation Rebecca Black was the number one fastest-rising search term globally, followed by Google’s newly launched social network, Google+, and Jackass star Ryan Dunn, who died in a car crash this summer.
It’s incredible to see just how much Apple dominated the search rankings this year. “iPhone 5,” “Steve Jobs” and “iPad 2″ all made the top 10 list for fastest-rising searches, while “iPhone 4S,” “iPad 2,” and “iPad 3″ took up three of the top 10 spots in the consumer electronics category.
In a blog post, Google teased out a few other interesting stats. Globally, both cupcakes and Japan captured global interest: cupcakes made the top food lists in more than a dozen countries, while “東京 電力” (TEPCO, owners of the Japanese nuclear power plant that was damaged by the earthquake earlier this year) became the first non-Latin term to make Google’s fastest-rising search list.
Check out the video above for a poignant overview. Below, we’ve compiled galleries of the the fastest rising searches for 2011.
1. Rebecca Black
Teenage singer Rebecca Black catapulted to global fame after her video was discovered (and mocked) by a handful of entertainment entities, racking up 100 million views within a month. Black went on to release second and third singles, and appear in a music video by Katy Perry and lend her hit "Friday" to a TV commercial for Kohl's. But it wasn't all fun and games: the singer quit middle school because her classmates were harassing her, Black told ABC's Nightline.
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:08 AM PST
A study conducted by the City of New York found that — despite Craigslist‘s ban on gun listings — it’s quite easy to purchase guns through the online classifieds site. Private investigators found that 82% of the time they contacted sellers on Craigslist, an illegal sale was agreed upon.
"Over the past decade, we've launched a wide-ranging attack on illegal guns – and today, we're opening a new front in that battle by targeting what has become an increasingly prevalent and dangerous problem: illegal gun sales on the Internet," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Check out the video above to find out more, including how many gun listings the investigators uncovered.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 10:03 AM PST
So, you want to create social change by starting something new — that’s quite a noble goal. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Social entrepreneurship is the act of recognizing a social problem and innovating a solution using entrepreneurial principles. While business entrepreneurs seek profits and returns, social entrepreneurs measure their successes in social or environmental change.
If you’re hoping to start a movement capable of creating real impact, we’ve rounded up some essential tips for you. We spoke with social good entrepreneurs who shared their innovation experiences. Even startups that do not focus exclusively on creating change can learn from these lessons, as most consumers now consider the environmental and social impact of their purchases.
“We’re moving in a direction where being a social entrepreneur is going to be the norm,” says Harrison Miller, director of community engagement for cause shopping channel Recoup. “Responsible business will be demanded by the people, and white-collar finance types won’t be the norm.”
Take a look through these four essential ingredients to being a successful social entrepreneur. Do you know of any other keys to success? Share your ideas in the comments.
1. Identify a Problem That Needs Fixing
Unlike conventional startups, social entrepreneurs begin with an issue that needs solving. Jeff Miller, CEO of car-sharing service Wheelz, wanted to do something to reduce energy emissions.
“Cars are parked all the time — 23 out of 24 hours of the day, on average,” Jeff Miller says. “That’s a pretty significant burden on the planet and people’s pocket books, so I sought out to try and solve that problem. ”
The nascent startup provides car-owning college students — who are often in need of extra cash — a way to rent out their cars for short periods of time. Then, those in need of transportation can put sedentary cars to use. The communal transition towards car-sharing reduces the need for vehicle ownership and encourages carpooling.
2. Obsess Over the Consumer Experience
No matter how much your startup gives back to important causes, user experience is incredibly important. While customers may be willing to raise their price point for a more eco-friendly product, you still need to deliver something great.
“A major part of our success if that we have great deals,” says Ron Sapp, CEO of Sharing Spree. “You’re not going to see 50% of paper shredding.”
Sharing Spree, a deal site that donates up to 15% of each purchase to local non-profits or schools of your choosing, targets suburban women. In the current economic downturn, many women cannot afford luxuries, such as pedicures or sushi lunches, so the website provides deals with a social good component. The website succeeds at donating to local charities because it provides unmatched deals that drum up plenty of business from interested users.
Jeff Miller adds that Wheelz has grown so much because, as a company, it’s constantly open to feedback.
“Put yourself into your customer’s shoes at every turn and make yourself available to feedback whenever possible,” Jeff Miller says. “That not only means being in receive mode for feedback, but identifying what your costumers will want before they’ve even realized that they want it.”
Unlike some other car-sharing services that have limited car pick-up locations and require 24-hour notice for rentals, Wheelz customers use a mobile app to locate the nearest car to them, with as little as ten minutes notice.
3. Leverage the Power of Social
Once you have that great product (or deal, in Recoup’s case), Harrison Miller says social media will spread your cause naturally.
“Someone’s motivation to share something is purely because ‘I think my friends will really like this deal,’” he says. “When there’s the cause behind it — even if it’s something I wouldn’t share typically — the fact that everything sold will support kids with cancer, makes me say ‘What the hell, it’s one click.’”
Miller attributes the camaraderie between social entrepreneurs and individuals interested in creating change for social good for making it easy to find new partners and adopters for Recoup. He says the success of the company’s business model relies on the customers to be its marketers.
“When causes are involved, people will change their brand preference and increase their price resistance,” he adds.
4. Make Sure Green Meets Green
No matter how great your product, you need to make sure you’re providing something people want to spend their money on. Jeff Miller says a New York taxi operator once summed it up perfectly for him: If you find a place where green (for the planet) meets green (for the wallet), everyone will win.
“If you only have something good for the planet, but it’s not economical, you’re swimming upstream,” he says. “You need to find a product that stands on its own two legs without the social benefit.”
Series supported by Fedex
The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.
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Posted: 15 Dec 2011 09:36 AM PST
The average British person is under the influence of alcohol in three-quarters of of his or her tagged Facebook photos, according to a new study.
Researchers asked British people to reveal how many Facebook pictures showed themselves drinking alcohol or were taken after consuming alcohol. They estimate 76% of their photographs had some connection with alcohol.
"We're all guilty of going out and having a good time, but nowadays the photos inevitably catch up with us online, so we wanted to look at how much these photos dominate our presence on social media sites,” says Rebecca Huggler, co-founder of MyMemory, which conducted the study.
Researchers also looked at privacy settings. Only 12% of the 1,781 Facebook users who were polled don’t allow anyone to see their photos, while 58% let friends view their pics. A substantial 26% gave access to anyone.
More than half (56%) admit they had “drunk photos” they wouldn’t want co-workers to see and 8% say their photos might cause “serious trouble at work.”
Ninety-three percent of respondents have untagged photos deemed “too embarrassing.”
Huggler notes many of the photographs with alcohol were taken during special occasions or get-togethers with friends or family. She predicts the holiday season will fuel more photo activity that involves alcohol.
What percentage of your Facebook photos would you estimate feature alcohol or drinking? Are you concerned about who may see them?
BONUS: Facebook Privacy Settings
In August, Facebook unveiled a privacy overhaul, which involved changes to profiles, status updates, locations and photo tags (see gallery below for details).
Privacy Controls: Profile Editing
You can edit the visibility of individual parts of your profiles right from the profile editing page. In the past, this had to be done from the Privacy Settings page.
Mashable’s Complete Facebook Timeline Coverage
Facebook Timeline Essentials
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 09:25 AM PST
Samsung has already had a crack at promoting the Galaxy Nexus. Now, it’s Google’s turn.
Google, eager to publicize its first phone featuring Android 4.0 a.k.a. “Ice Cream Sandwich,” has risen to the occasion in a brand-appropriate fashion, with a cute ad that features a kid trying to unlock his dad’s phone via its facial recognition feature. Try as he might, the tot can’t make it work, an experience that mirrors our own Charlie White’s encounter with the feature. (While we’re on the topic, others have noted that the Nexus’s facial recognition can be hacked with a photograph.)
For me, the ad, which hits just as the Nexus goes on sale in the U.S., is less reminiscent of other Google ads or other Samsung ads than the hugely viral Super Bowl ad below from Volkswagen. Perhaps it’s because both feature no dialog, dramatic music and a precocious boy of roughly the same age. Both boys, you may also note, are trying to start an adult toy.
What do you think? Do you see the parallel or have I been watching too many ads? Let us know in the comments.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 09:00 AM PST
Grand Theft Auto III: 10th Anniversary Edition
Liberty City is your sandbox for destruction. Make sure you read our review below for the full scoop.
How in the world did Rockstar manage to fit an entire PlayStation 2 video game onto a mobile phone? That’s the question we kept asking ourselves while playing Grand Theft Auto III: 10th Anniversary Edition, a new port of the first fully 3D GTA game onto mobile devices.
The anniversary edition puts the player back in Liberty City (read: New York) as an anti-hero who climbs his way up the criminal ladder. A decade after its release, GTAIII is still heralded as a classic and genre-defining game, and it gave birth to a slew of open-world sandbox titles where player freedom and branching side-quests carry the day.
The new mobile version game is available for iOS and most Android devices and costs $4.99. While we didn’t have enough time (or potentially skill) to beat the entire game, we’ve put together a preliminary review playing on an iPhone 4S. We’ll be sure to update as we get further along. For the time being, check out our review here for the down-low on this underworld classic.
Posted: 15 Dec 2011 08:55 AM PST
It only makes sense that the new short film by two-time Academy Award winner Ron Howard and his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard would make its world premiere on YouTube. After all, the very concept of the film is user-generated.
The film when you find me will debut to the public on Friday via YouTube at 12:00 p.m. EST and will be available for viewing until Monday, Dec. 19.
The Howards' creation was inspired by photographs submitted through an online contest called Project Imagina8ion backed by camera company Canon. After sifting through nearly 100,000 submissions from photographers at all skill levels, Ron — who produced the film — selected eight photos to inspire the film's storyline and brought on Bryce to direct.
"Canon tasked me with a true creative experiment and the end result is a beautiful film directed by Bryce that captures the images and inspiration of the eight photographers," said Ron Howard in a press release. "After the New York premiere at the American Museum of Natural History last month, it was really gratifying to see people get emotional about the film and I'm thrilled that the online community will now have the opportunity to see it."
when you find me – which was shot using Canon cameras and DSLR products — tells the story of two sisters whose childhood bond is tested by a tragedy. Alternating between past and present, the short film explores how two people cope with loss in very different ways, and what it takes to find peace within yourself and reconciliation with the ones you love.
The film – which will be screened at select film festivals in 2012 – is the first-ever user-generated Hollywood production that will be eligible for an Academy Award nomination.
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