Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Netflix Signs UK Streaming Deal With the BBC”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Netflix Signs UK Streaming Deal With the BBC”

Netflix Signs UK Streaming Deal With the BBC

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 04:54 AM PST

Netflix has signed a licensing agreement with BBC Worldwide to bring a “broad range” of BBC series to its users in the UK and Ireland, the company has announced.

The deal includes popular BBC series such as “Torchwood,” “Spooks,” as well as older shows such as “Fawlty Towers” and “Miss Marple.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In October, Netflix announced it would launch its service in the UK and Ireland in early 2012. The company said it would bring unlimited TV shows and movie streaming for a “low” monthly price.

Since the announcement, Netflix has been steadily signing licensing agreements with content providers in the UK and Ireland, including deals with Lionsgate UK and Miramax.

More About: bbc, ireland, netflix, Spooks, streaming, Torchwood, TV, TV series, tv shows, uk

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Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note to Receive Android 4 in Q1 2012

Posted: 20 Dec 2011 01:29 AM PST

Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets will receive an upgrade to Android 4 or Ice Cream Sandwich in early 2012, the company has announced.

The first two devices (as previously announced) to receive the upgrade will be Samsung Galaxy S II and Samsung Galaxy Note, and this should occur sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

Other devices will “soon follow,” says Samsung. The full lineup of ICS-upgradeable devices at this point includes the Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy Note, Galaxy R, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 7.7, and Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

Samsung will give out separate announcements for each device, detailing OS update schedule for individual markets.

Other manufacturers have announced ICS upgrades for their flagship smartphones as well. HTC recently announced that Ice Cream Sandwich is coming to several of its smartphones in early 2012. Motorola’s Droid Razr will get to the latest version of Android in early 2012.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Click here to view this gallery.

[via Samsung Tomorrow]

More About: android, Android 4, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S 2, Galaxy S II, ice cream sandwich, samsung, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S II

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The Biggest Web Outages of 2011

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 07:10 PM PST

It’s been a notable year for Web outages. From Netflix going down at extremely inopportune times, to Amazon Web Services’ multi-day breakdown in the spring, Internet services are still seemingly as unreliable as ever. SmartBear Software just published its list of the top Web Outages of 2011, and there are some memorable ones on there. It should be noted, though, that only outages that weren’t caused by a third party made the list — hacks like the one that took out Sony’s PlayStation Network weren’t included.

Good news for the Net in general, though: SmartBear reports that the number of significant outages is actually lower than in 2010. No need to go ballistic.

More About: amazon web services, netflix, outages

20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week [CHART]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 06:47 PM PST

It seems that people nowadays can’t watch cable television or streamed video content without contemplating a corresponding hashtag or status update. And judging from our social TV charts, it seems the more current the event, the more important the tweet.

This week, the Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News took the social cake by a wide lead, followed by WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs — oh my! Oddly, two cartoons tied for number four on cable and broadcast, respectively. Finally, SNL squeezed into the top 10 rankings this week — probably for its delightful cameos, which included Triangle Sally!

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

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

More About: features, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, Trendrr, TV

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IBM Says We’ll Have Mind-Reading Computers Within Five Years

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 06:37 PM PST

Keyboards and mice may seem like clunky artifacts of the past within the next five years, pushed aside in favor of the ultimate user interface: the human mind.

That’s according to IBM, which just published its “5 in 5″ forecast: a prediction about five innovations that will fundamentally change our world within the next five years. The most head-turning prediction: we’ll be able to use the power of our minds to operate machines.

This isn’t telepathy, so those hoping to get a real-time stream of thoughts from an individual had best look to shows like Heroes or Bablylon 5. What IBM envisions is using a simple brain-machine interface (BMI) that can detect different kinds of brainwaves and tell a computer to respond a certain way.

Extremely simple versions of the technology already exist in products like the Star Wars Force Trainer, which includes a headset that’s based on electroencephalography (EEG). More advanced versions of the technology have been beneficial to the disabled at operating computers.

Now IBM wants to take the tech mainstream. Big Blue says it’s working on technology for people to use their brains to interface with their everyday devices, like phones and PCs. “Just think about calling someone, and it happens,” IBM promises in this video:

Rounding out the other four technologies that IBM sees exploding in five years: passwords become replaced by multiple biometric scans, people will help power their homes simply by moving around, the digital divide will be eliminated by the wide accessibility of mobile technology, and spam will actually evolve into something useful.

The thrust behind IBM’s predictions isn’t just to pick the technologies that are the most promising, but also to find the ones that have the potential to reach the mass market.

More About: BMI, brain waves, IBM

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5 Things Missing From the New TweetDeck for Chrome

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 06:23 PM PST

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

I like to install as few things on my PC as possible. That’s why when TweetDeck released an app for Google Chrome in Dec. 2010, it was an epiphany.

No need to run another program in the background. Simply flick open a new browser tab and bam: Your Twitter columns are there in all their HTML5 glory.

Then, in May 2011, Twitter acquired TweetDeck. “That’s cool,” we thought. “Who better to manage a Twitter app than Twitter itself?”

For a while, things were fine. Small tweaks and improvements were welcome surprises.

Then, New Twitter emerged, and with it, a brand new version of “ChromeDeck.” Cosmetically, it’s got a bit more snazz. But the more I use it, the more I find it lacking under the hood. Existing features I had grown to rely on in the previous version are nowhere to be found.

Why, Twitter? Why?

1. Rolling Columns

The first thing you'll notice on firing up the new ChromeDeck is a huge swath of dead space on the right. If every single pixel of your right-most column doesn't fit on the screen, it's bumped to the next page.

While the new "page" navigation is handy, this empty real estate is odd and disappointing.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: chrome, features, Opinion, tweetdeck, Twitter

Facebook Completes Move Into New Menlo Park Headquarters

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 05:53 PM PST

Facebook officially finished moving into its gleaming new headquarters on Monday as a final group of employees reported for work at the company’s recently acquired Menlo Park campus.

As Facebook prepares for an IPO reported to be coming as early as next April, the 57-acre campus will provide ample room for growth. The company also holds the rights to an adjacent and undeveloped 22-acre space. Facebook’s new base now houses some 2,000 employees and includes an array of features designed to maximize productivity and creativity, including glass-paneled conference rooms, hallways lined with chalkboard paint and not a single cubicle or private office.

“For years, we’ve been moving from one building to the next, but now we finally have a home in this ten building campus,” John Tenanes, Facebook’s global real estate director, wrote in a company blog post.

Earlier this year, the company announced its purchase of Sun Microsystems‘ former space in Menlo Park. Until beginning the move to 1601 Willow Road this August, Facebook had been headquartered in nearby Palo Alto since shortly after Mark Zuckerberg started the social networking giant from his Harvard dorm room in 2004.

Since purchasing, Facebook renovated its new home extensively in preparation for the move, and the upgrades still aren’t finished. The company tore down existing walls to create the open, office-less atmosphere and added hundreds of small breakaway rooms for brainstorming sessions and small meetings. A central courtyard connecting the entire campus is still under construction but, when complete, the company says it will contain two cafes, on-site doctors, a fitness center and more.

Facebook now claims 800 million users worldwide, and has been scaling up its workforce recently, announcing a new engineering office in New York City this month as well. The new Menlo Park campus, meanwhile, has the capacity to eventually house more than 6,500 employees. The currently vacant lot next door could accommodate more than 2,000 additional workers.

More About: Facebook, mark zuckerberg, Menlo Park, palo alto, social networking

Amazon: 13 Major Milestones of 2011

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 05:24 PM PST

The year 2011 was especially prosperous and successful for Amazon, partly due to the company’s popular Kindle ebooks, but also because Amazon introduced its first Android-based tablet, the Kindle Fire.

Just five days after Amazon announced the new tablet in September, customers pre-ordered 250,000 Kindle Fires. The $199 7-inch tablet especially thrived on Black Friday as the best-selling product across Amazon.com that day.

Kindle ebooks did just as well. They became available in 11,000 libraries around the country, and Kindle apps appeared on Windows and Android-based tablets, the Windows Phone 7 and the HP Touchpad.

Amazon also launched a number of services, including AmazonLocal, a daily deals coupon site; GovCloud, cloud services designed for U.S. government agencies; and Silk, a new web browser available on the Kindle Fire and the cloud.

Despite Amazon’s accomplishments this year, times weren’t always as promising. In April, the company’s server experienced technical difficulties, bringing down major sites such as HootSuite, Reddit and Foursquare, which rely on Amazon AWS.

Then in October, a Google engineer who had previously worked for Amazon publicly posted a 5,000-word blog rant criticizing Amazon’s inconsistent hiring practices and describing the company’s CEO as an obsessive micromanager.

Check out the gallery below to see Amazon’s major events of 2011.

1. Amazon Launches Amazon Deals

January: Amazon launched Amazon Deals, a free iPhone application that provides users with an overview of new daily deals from Amazon's Gold Box service.

The app lets you monitor and purchase Amazon's daily deals directly from your iPhone. You can also share the deals with friends and family via email, Facebook, Twitter or SMS.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Ken James.

More About: amazon, Amazon Kindle Fire, apps, ebooks, features, kindle fire, year in review

Apple Wins Patent Victory Over Android, but Does It Matter?

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 05:03 PM PST

Apple was just handed potentially its biggest victory yet in its ongoing patent lawsuits with Google Android. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled today that Android devices that display phone numbers in a specific way should be banned for violating Apple’s patents. The ruling potentially bans phones like the HTC EVO 4G, Droid Incredible and T-Mobile G2, starting in the spring of 2012.

The parts of the patents the ITC refers to deal with how the phone interprets a phone number in unstructured documents (like the text of an email) and then automatically making that text clickable with a link that launches the phone’s dialer app. The ITC ruled that any HTC phones that use the feature were violating Apple’s “data tapping” patent.

The ruling effectively bans HTC from selling those devices beginning April 19, 2012, although units sold before then will be unaffected, and HTC will be able to import refurbished products in order to honor warranties on those phones until December 19, 2013.

HTC, however, may end up being completely unaffected if it can develop a software workaround that doesn’t violate Apple’s patents, or simply remove the feature via an update. HTC appears to be opting for the latter solution. In an emailed statement, the company told Mashable, “We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the '647 patent is a small UI experience, and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.”

It may be a small part of the experience, but as Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents observes, it’s a feature the smartphone-buying public has come to expect. Removing it puts HTC at a competitive disadvantage.

The ruling is a big symbolic victory for Apple, since it deals with how Android itself works, not actually software specific to HTC. It also theoretically gives Apple free reign to go after any Android manufacturer it cares to with the same patent.

However, the president can veto the ruling within 60 days, though it’s an option that’s rarely used, says Nilay Patel at The Verge.

Would the absence of the feature — phone numbers in the text of emails or other documents that link to a smartphone’s dialer — make you choose Apple over Android? Or is this small potatoes? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: android, apple, htc, patent lawsuit

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Flickr 2011: The Year in Photos

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 04:10 PM PST

Tunisian Protests

Photo courtesy of Flickr, papacamera

Click here to view this gallery.

2011 has been a year of memorable news headlines, from natural disasters to final space shuttle missions to historic deaths. Flickr has pieced together the story of the year in 18 photographs taken around the world by users of the photo-sharing platform.

SEE ALSO: How the World Googled in 2011

You can also view the photos on Flickr, with commentary from Yahoo editorial, who put together the collection.

What do you think was the most memorable news story of the year? Let us know how you’ll remember 2011 in the comments.

More About: flickr, year in review

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Self-Employed? How to Give Yourself a Raise in 2012

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 03:42 PM PST

Here’s a hypothetical (yet common) situation: Sara is a brilliant web designer who has never raised her client rates. Not once. Sure, she signs on new clients more often, but her existing clientele enjoy some kind of unwritten grandfather clause that has maintained the same rates since 2002.

Does this sound familiar? Do you break into a sweat when you consider how to tell a long-time client you need to raise his rates? Are you worried that clients will run for the hills at the slightest rate increase?

With the rise of the Freelance or Gig Economy, more professionals are shifting from full-time positions to self-employed, freelance or contract roles. And often, for company employees accustomed to regular raises and pre-determined fee hikes, the notion of being in charge of one’s own prices is challenging.

A freelancer's pricing model determines the success and sustainability of his business and livelihood. If you're a freelancer who has been historically reluctant to raise your rates, consider the following.

1. Undercharging undervalues your abilities.

On the most basic level, your business is all about earning money based on the value it brings to clients. By undercharging clients, you send the message that your services and talents are worth less. If you're good at what you do and are confident in the value you provide to clients, then you have nothing to fear from raising your rates.

2. Know when to undercut your competition.

When you were just launching your business or service, you may have started at a lower rate to get your foot in the door and to build your portfolio or reference base. But if you've since become established, it's time to set your own bar for rates. After all, as your talents and expertise develop, you're providing more value; therefore, you need to charge accordingly. This is no different than earning a periodic raise from an employer, a process which everyone understands.

3. Take the emotion out of a rate increase.

When it's time to raise rates, many freelancers worry about hurting their long-time, loyal clients. After all, you may have developed personal relationships over the years. However, it's critical to remove any emotion from the equation. Increasing your rates shouldn't offend anyone — it is a pure business necessity. Even Social Security will receive a 3.6% cost of living increase for 2012.

4. Stop waiting for the “right” time.

It's a classic mistake to keep waiting for the perfect time to raise your rates. It's never going to be the right time, and the longer you wait, the more money you leave on the table. That said, the beginning of 2012 or the start of a new quarter are ideal times to enact new rates.

5. Start by increasing your rate with each new client.

If you're struggling to raise your fees, start by setting higher rates with each new client you take on. You'll ease yourself into the new rates and quickly discover that clients are more than happy to pay higher rates and still find you a great value.

6. Ease in with a small increase.

Let your current clients know that you'll be raising your fees (start with a 10-15% increase). Communicate that you appreciate their business and that you've already raised your rates with all your newer clients. Be sure to give clients advance notice (about one to two months) before enacting the new pricing. Use terms like “fair rate,” “market rate” and “scheduled increase” to justify the increase from a business standpoint. Most importantly, keep your communication brief — don't send the message that you're open to negotiation.

7. Don't lose sleep over lost clients.

In the majority of cases, clients will accept reasonable increases with relative ease. However, be prepared for a client or two to walk away rather than accept your new rates. If you're confident with the value you deliver, don't worry about the clients who walked. Most likely, those clients weren't the best fit anyway. It's best to move on to bigger and better things.

For any self-employed individual, setting your rates is a serious business. No matter what pricing plan you employ, be sure you're not undervaluing your talents. As the New Year approaches, it's a key time to get your business in order by making sure you’re compensated fairly.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, dblight, Flickr, thekellyscope

More About: entrepreneurs, features, Financial, freelance, How-To

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MTV’s ‘Power of 12′ Campaign Creates Fantasy Political Election Game

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST

MTV just unleashed Power of 12, a campaign designed to get 18- to 29-year-olds fired up about the 2012 U.S. elections.

Unlike previous campaigns — dubbed “Choose or Lose” since 1992 — the renamed initiative features a fantasy football-like gaming element in addition to MTV‘s traditional campaign documentaries, website and political news coverage.

"Fantasy Election '12" players will draft candidates competing for the presidency, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and then score points depending on how well or badly the politicians conduct themselves.

“In the way that fantasy football awards points when your players score touchdowns and deducts points when they throw interceptions, ‘Fantasy Election '12′ will reward candidates for exhibiting the behaviors voters deserve, and penalize politicians for behaviors that hurt our democracy,” MTV said in an announcement.

Players also will earn points for discussing issues, registering to vote and checking in to debates and town halls. The game launches next fall, closer to the time the general election starts.

Before then, however, MTV will try to appeal to the “Millennials” with other Power of 12 elements. Its first-person documentary, Our Voice, premieres Dec. 20 on TV and will be available online at the campaign’s homebase, PowerOf12.org. The documentary follows 25-year-old Andrew Jenks, who along with peers are traveling across the U.S. to asks questions to candidates.

Another Power of 12 documentary, When I was 22, will tell the story of presidential candidates when they were 22. It premieres in early 2012.

Aside from housing the documentaries after they premiere, PowerOf12.org will offer election news, information about candidates and issues, a voter-registration tool and polling information.

“Through their sheer size, Millennials [45 million 18-29 year olds will be eligible to vote] have the power to be a deciding factor in the 2012 elections and help set the country’s direction,” says MTV President Stephen Friedman. “Our goal for the Power of 12 is to encourage candidates to tap into the power of the largest generation in history and respond to their concerns.”

Do you think MTV is smart to excite potential voters with social gaming? Sound off in the comments.

More About: 2012 election, mtv, Politics, social gaming

This Is Why You Were Friended or Unfriended [STUDY]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 02:33 PM PST

While some Internet interactions are online-only relationships, the most common reason we add friends on Facebook is because we know people in real life.

According to recent research from NM Incite, for 82% of Facebook users, knowing someone offline is reason to add them on the social network. The next most common reason for adding a friend is having many mutual friends, a practice reported by 60% of users.

The remaining reasons for adding friends include superficial aspects of your Facebook profile such as physical attractiveness and friend count — which is not surprising considering many users make their posts and comments visible to only their Friends. You can see the complete results of the study in the graphic below.

When it comes to why we unfriend, there are more possible explanations. Fifty-five percent of Facebook users call offensive comments cause for removing someone from their networks. The next most common reason is not knowing a friend well (41%) and sales soliciting (39%). The remaining explanations are a variety of social media etiquette SNAFUs.

Men are more likely to use Facebook for professional networking and dating. For women, Facebook is the place to connect with real life friends, snag deals and express creativity. Women are more likely to remove friends for offensive comments or a weak offline relationship.

The “State of Social Media Survey” polled 1,895 social media using adults (age 18 and older), recruited online between Mar. 31 and Apr. 14 through online forums, blogs and other social networking platforms.

Why do you friend and unfriend people on Facebook? Let us know your practices in the comments.

More About: Facebook, facebook friends, study

The AT&T T-Mobile Deal Is Officially Dead

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 02:20 PM PST

AT&T said today it was abandoning its plan to acquire T-Mobile.

In a statement, AT&T said it had agreed with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s owner to end its bid to buy the company for $39 billion. AT&T said it had thoroughly reviewed all its options — which amounted to pressing ahead with its proposal against antagonistic government regulators and a wary public, trying to breathe life into stalled talks with third parties to revamp the deal, or killing it entirely — and decided simply to trash the original plan.

AT&T’s decision forces the company to pay T-Mobile $4 billion in a “break up” fee that was agreed upon when the deal was first struck. AT&T said it would add the charge to its fourth quarter financials for the 2011 fiscal year. It also said it was entering a “mutually beneficial” roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom.

AT&T says the termination of the deal would harm consumers since the merger would have been an “interim solution” to the shortage of wireless spectrum. Spectrum is the lifeblood of the wireless industry, and all carriers want to acquire more or have the government open additional parts of the public airwaves for auction.

"To meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, in the statement. "However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things. First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC. Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation's longer-term spectrum needs.”

The FCC began the recent chain of events that led to the deal’s downfall when it concluded the acquisition would diminish competition and recommended a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Reacting to AT&T’s official scuttling of the deal, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the following statement:

“The FCC is committed to ensuring a competitive mobile marketplace that drives innovation and investment, creates jobs and benefits consumers. This deal would have done the opposite. The U.S. mobile industry leads the world in mobile innovation, and we agree with AT&T that Congress should pass incentive auction legislation that will unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband.”

More About: att, merger, T-Mobile, Top Stories

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Cornell Wins Bid for New York City Tech Campus

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 02:11 PM PST

Cornell University has been chosen by New York City to build a technology campus on Roosevelt Island with a grant of city-owned land and $100 million.

The campus Cornell proposed will occupy 2.1 million square feet, accommodate up to 2,500 students and cost more than $2 billion to build. A $350 million gift from an anonymous donor, the largest in Cornell’s history, will help foot the bill.

Other schools that expressed interest in New York City’s tech campus offer include Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, and a consortium led by New York University and Stanford, which dropped its bid Friday. But Cornell, an anonymous source told The New York Times, has been the school of choice for a while. And it might not be the last.

“This is the first selection announcement for the Applied Sciences NYC initiative,” says a statement released by the city. “Productive discussions are ongoing with other respondents…and the possibility of additional science and engineering partnerships in the City is still open.”

Cornell plans to open an off-site location of the campus by 2012, with the first phase of permanent Roosevelt Island opening by 2017. The university will lease the land from the city for 100 years, after which it will have the opportunity to purchase it for $1.

SEE ALSO: NYC Startup Scene Celebrated in 2012 Calendar [PHOTOS]

It’s potentially a mutually beneficial plan. Plotting a tech branch in New York City is an opportunity for Cornell to become the Stanford of the East Coast — an incubator for new businesses (and their patents). Attracting prestigious technology-education institutions is another step in New York City’s relentless efforts to become the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.

“This is a momentous day catapulting New York City into the forefront of the 21st century economy and burnishing its place as the high-tech center of the East," U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in a release.

More About: Cornell, new york city, New York city Tech Campus

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Who’s Tweeting About Holiday Travel? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 02:05 PM PST

Traveling this holiday season? Whether it’s by train, plane or automobile, you’re not alone. Twitter is abuzz with more than just complaints about flight delays, lengthy layovers and traffic jams — many of you are also tweeting about your travel plans ahead of time.

So what’s the method of transportation for tweeters? The majority are taking trains, which might be so they can continue their Words With Friends game. Looking further, Amtrak is the train company that was tweeted about most.

SEE ALSO: Travel Tech: 10 Must-Pack Gadgets for Geeks on the Go

Our friends at Mashwork made this great infographic that shows what holiday travel arrangements people are talking about on Twitter, and where the most popular are.

More About: features, Holidays 2011, Social Media, travel, Twitter

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Flirting With Danger: More Drivers Texting on the Road Than Ever

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 01:38 PM PST

Despite various state law bans and nationwide awareness campaigns to prevent texting from behind the wheel, the amount of people texting while driving is actually on the rise, a new study suggests.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the percentage of drivers who sent texts and use mobile devices while on the road has jumped from 0.6% in 2009 to 0.9% to 2010.

The news comes as automakers and legislators try to bring more awareness to the dangers of distracted driving. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board is working to make cellphone use from talking hands-free with a headset to texting illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Although each state can make its own laws on the issue, the recommendation from NTSB is expected to hold a lot of weight.

SEE ALSO: Please, NTSB, Don't Ban Cellphone Calls From Cars

The latest findings from the NHTSA study indicate that 3,000 people were killed in car accidents in 2010 due to distracted drivers. Although the study classified distractions as talking and changing the radio to using a mobile device, it noted that reading or writing texts increases the chances of an accident by 2,300%.

The NHTSA also said that drivers who use mobile devices in any capacity are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., and 16% of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.

“Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08%, the legal limit in most states,” the NHTSA said in a statement. “Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37%.”

In July, a study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlighted the impact that cellphones and other gadgets can have on car crashes and found that as many as 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by tech devices.

Should using technology from behind the wheel be banned in all states? Is there a safe way to use tech on the road? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: distracted driving, mobile phones

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Study: Employees Fall for Email, Social Media Phishing Attacks at Work [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 01:22 PM PST

A recent study surveyed multiple companies and found that 43% of their employees clicked on simulated bad links that led to phishing attacks and malware.

“Many [small businesses] don't realize just how susceptible their employees are to phishing attacks, or they think their existing security measures are sufficient to handle external threats,” said Stu Sjouwerman, the CEO of KnowBe4, the company that conducted the study. “But the fact is that security breaches can and do happen every day, and the consequences can be devastating to a company's reputation and finances.”

Watch the video above to learn more.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, edfuentesg

More About: malware, mashable video, phishing

Announcing the 2011 Mashable Awards Winners

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 01:16 PM PST


The votes are in and the results have been tabulated: After two months of nominations and voting by our community, Mashable is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2011 Mashable Awards!

The fifth annual Mashable Awards honors the best in Mashable‘s core content areas: Social Media, Tech, Business and Entertainment.

Presenting the winners of the 2011 Mashable Awards:

Social Media



  • Viral Campaign of the Year: NOH8 Campaign
  • Most Innovative Use of Social Media for Marketing: Coke
  • Must-Follow Brand on Social Media: WWE
  • Best Branded Mobile App: Domino’s Pizza
  • Best Social Good Cause Campaign: Be A Star
  • Digital Company of the Year: WWE
  • Breakout Startup of the Year: Get Glue


Congratulations winners and finalists! Make sure to contact PARS for free use of the Mashable Awards logo for your website.

The Mashable Awards winners will be honored at MashBash on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at the brand new 1OAK Nightclub in the Mirage Hotel and Casino during CES in Las Vegas. You can expect a night of networking, dancing and celebration in true Mashable style at one of the hottest new clubs in Las Vegas. Come celebrate their success with us!

Register for MashBash at CES celebrating Mashable Awards  (Las Vegas - 2012 International CES convention) [Ticketed Event] in Las Vegas, NV  on Eventbrite

The 2011 Mashable Awards Are Presented by Buddy Media

More About: mashable awards, mashable awards 2011

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Quora Adds ‘Boards’ and Becomes a Little More Like Pinterest

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:59 PM PST

Q&A site Quora launched a new feature on Monday that has nothing to do with Q’s or A’s. “Boards” function like Pinterest’s “pinboards,” allowing users to collect and organize web content under topics they create.

“As Quora has grown, we’ve learned that people want to read the most interesting content regardless of whether it happens to be in question and answer format or not,” wrote Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo in a blog post, “behind every question people ask is something larger they want to know more about.”

Here’s how Quora Boards work: You can create as many boards as you’d like using a “create board” button that now sits next to the “add question” button on your profile homepage. You can post any content to them (content you write, Quora questions, Quora answers, a link to any web page). Anybody else can follow any of your boards to receive updates in their feeds. Boards can have multiple authors and be set to private.

The idea is to give users a way to target their posts and control what ends up in their feeds. In the meantime — whether the site is ready to call it a pivot or not — boards change the scope and function of Quora’s product.

“We also have a new goal,” D’Angelo wrote, “which reflects the broader system we are evolving into: to connect you with everything you want to know about.”

More About: pinterest, q&a, quora

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In Online Advertising, 2011 Was the Year of Mobile [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:53 PM PST

As the year draws to a close, Google is taking a look back: first at how the world searched in 2011, and now at how consumers and businesses engaged with online advertising.

Given the size of its business — Google is the leader in both the U.S. search and mobile advertising markets, and somewhere between first and third in display — Google’s online advertising figures stand as a decent benchmark for trends in the industry.

As with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mobile was the big story for Google this year. Smartphone and tablet use accelerated rapidly: Google saw a 440% increase in traffic from tablets on its AdMob network between Dec. 2010 and in Nov. 2011, according to stats posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog.

The use of mobile in physical retail environments was particularly interesting: In a study conducted with IPSOS earlier this year, eight in 10 smartphone owners said they use their devices to help with shopping, from locating retailers to running price comparisons — a trend Amazon smartly capitalized on this December by offering consumers a discount for running a price comparison on its Price Check App. A full 70% of smartphone owners claim to use their devices while in stores, and 77% have used their phones to contact local businesses.

It wasn’t just the numbers that improved: the technology underlying mobile advertising improved too, thanks to new standards such as HTML5 and MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions). Many retailers also redesigned their websites to optimize them for tablet and smartphone use.

Below, an infographic highlighting some of Google’s online advertising benchmarks in 2011, as well as some successes from individual brands.

Top image courtesy of iStockphoto, contrastaddict

More About: Google, Mobile, mobile advertising, online advertising

NYC Startup Scene Celebrated in 2012 Calendar [PHOTOS]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:41 PM PST

Only In The Alley Calendar

12 New York City-based startups are featured in the "Only in the Alley" 2012 calendar, with each company sharing their story of the unique attributes of the city that help make their businesses tick.

Representatives from the startups featured will be ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ on Dec. 28.

Click here to view this gallery.

Members of the New York startup scene are capping off a robust 2011 with a look ahead to the new year in the form of a 2012 calendar, featuring 12 of the city’s up and coming companies.

The calendar, dubbed “Only in the Alley,” features a story from each startup about the aspects of their business that are unique to New York (often dubbed “Silicon Alley”), which you can read in the gallery above. There are also contributions from Mayor Bloomberg’s office and Mashable (I wrote the introduction), and the calendar encourages donations to FDNY (which is pictured in one of the photos).

While the calendar is clearly a bit tongue in cheek, it does mark the culmination of a big year of development for New York’s broader tech scene, which included Google, Facebook and Twitter all expanding their presence significantly. The year also featured a TV show about New York startups — TechStars — and ongoing involvement from the mayor’s office in promoting tech innovation, including proclaiming a “Foursquare Day” to honor one of the city’s most notable upstarts.

The creators of the calendar — Hotlist CEO Chris Mirabile and Snap Interactive CEO Clifford Lerner — plan to distribute it to tech influencers across the country. “Our goal is to increase awareness of the unique advantages of Silicon Alley, the top-tier tech companies being created here, and the strong community that has been forged — all while having fun doing it,” said Mirabile. The calendar was also given to 500 attendees at a launch event last Friday in New York.

Mirabile, Lerner and executives from a half dozen of the other startups featured in Only in the Alley will be ringing the opening bell on the NASDAQ on Dec. 28.

More About: new york city, Startups

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MIT Announces Platform for Free Online Courses

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:36 PM PST

MIT is planning to launch an open platform for free online classes, complete with certification for those who demonstrate mastery of their topics.

The university announced “MITx” on Monday, though it doesn’t plan to launch the experimental prototype version of the platform until Spring 2012.

MIT already has a robust free online library of its course materials called OpenCourseWare (OCW). The 10-year-old site includes 2,100 MIT courses and has been used by more than 100 million people. Anybody can use it to view MIT class lecture notes, assignments and solutions, image galleries and, in some cases, even lecture videos.

MITx will put more structure around some of the school’s online class content, including student-to-student discussions, self-assessment tools and access to online laboratories. After it releases the platform for its own site, it will allow any learning institution to use it for their own course offerings.

Students who complete courses will be eligible for certification, but don’t get too excited at the prospect of hanging an MIT degree on your wall without squeezing through the university’s notoriously narrow admission criteria. MIT isn’t going to attach its name to the certificate. Rather, it plans to create a not-for-profit body with a different name that will offer certification for a “modest fee.”

The day when the Internet enables widespread quality education has been envisioned by people like Bill Gates, who argued at Techonomy 2010 that “It's very clear that five years from now, on the web, for free…you will be able to find the greatest lectures in the world.”

Meanwhile, universities have been inching toward legitimizing online learning. In May, New York University began allowing students from the tuition-free, online-only University of the People to use their online credentials to apply to study at its Abu Dhabi campus. Prestigious schools such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgetown have launched online degree programs.

Whether online learning can compare to or aid campus learning are contentious issues (few argue that an online education is not an improvement over none), but MITx may help add some data to the debate. This being an MIT initiative, it will be coupled with a campus-wide research project.

More About: education, mit, online education

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Trailer Hits iTunes [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:23 PM PST

Warner Bros. released the first full-length trailer for next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises exclusively on iTunes.

The film, which will be out next summer, has already been part of an extensive digital campaign. In July, the studio released the first teaser for the film via Facebook.

The studio has continued to use the social network to show off movie posters for the film and to engage with fans with upcoming news.

The IMAX version of Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol includes the eight-minute prologue to the film. That prologue was part of a bigger digital campaign for Mission: Impossible and helped draw big healthy business over the weekend.

The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolans’s Batman trilogy. The second film, The Dark Knight, had an expansive digital and viral campaign. We can only hope Warner Bros. follows suit for the final chapter.

The first full-length trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, which is available exclusively on iTunes, has predictably found its way to YouTube.

While we fully expect YouTube to remove the most popular uploaded copies of the trailer, here it is for those with an aversion to QuickTime:

More About: batman, The Dark Knight Rises, trailers

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What Were You Doing on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram One Year Ago?

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:18 PM PST

Maybe you were on a first date, leaving for a vacation or downing a beer at a baseball game. Or maybe you were checking into the hospital with Pancreatitis. Timehop wants to help you remember whatever you were up to exactly one year ago.

The startup sends you daily emails with your Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts from one year ago.

Co-founders Benny Wong and Jonathan Wegener first developed the idea at a Foursquare hackathon last year, where the initial response was underwhelming.

“When pitched it at the hackathon, people were like, ‘Ok. it's an email that tells you want you did last year,’” Wegener says. “Then they woke up the next morning with the email sitting in their inboxes, and they had nostalgic emotional experiences. Then they tweeted and talked about it, and we had several thousand users in a short time.”

The initial Foursquare-focused hack, 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo, accumulated so many users that it began costing money for the team to send the daily emails. Meanwhile, they were pouring their time and energy into their “real” startup, Friendslist, as members of of Tech Stars’ inaugural New York City class.

"We said, [4SquareAnd7YearsAgo] was a fun little hill, but we need to build a mountain," Wegener says.

To make a long story short, Friendslist didn’t work out. But 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo, along with similar hacks the team developed to relive Facebook and Instagram posts, together accumulated tens of thousands of users.

Responses to these hacks were often emotional. One user said it reminded him of the night he first felt his unborn baby kick. Wired called it “a curiously powerful daily jolt of reminiscence.” Facebook liked the idea so much that it launched a similar feature in August and Wegener says, on average, users’ number of Foursquare checkins increase by double digits after they download the product. It appears they’re using Foursquare more often now in anticipation of remembering it later. Yes, this can backfire after a bad break-up, but Wegener promises a “burn this bridge” feature is coming soon.

The team’s engineered nostalgia concept was starting to look more like a mountain than a hill every day, and they decided to ditch Friendslist and instead combine all of the hacks they created, plus a Twitter feature, into one product called Timehop.

It’s not exactly a bullet-proof business plan. The team is “focused on building the best experience” and hasn’t articulated how the service will make money, a strategy that has worked okay for Twitter but can seem like a naive move for companies just getting into the social space. However, the quick adoption and positive response to the idea indicates they’re on to something.

The same user who recalled his unborn baby’s kick said the idea was the “most meaningful and soulful” part of his Foursquare experience. Considering the Internet is sometimes criticized for sucking those adjectives out of human interaction, at the least it’s refreshing to see a digital service that inspires them.

More About: 4squareand7yearsago, Facebook, foursquare, instagram, Twitter

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The Giftinator: The Ultimate Way to Find Your Man a Last-Minute Gift

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 12:04 PM PST

Face it: You need a cool, last-minute gift for the special guy in your life. Boyfriends and husbands love tech toys, but chances are your man already owns the smartphone, tablet or game system of his choice. What he will enjoy are media, accessories and unique offerings that only our precious Internet can provide.

Enter, The Giftinator. Think of it as Chutes and Ladders for grown-ups who procrastinated in their holiday shopping.

Start at the top and follow the flow to find the perfect tech gift for your man based on his passions, current gadgets and skill level.

When you land on a gift idea, hover over it with your mouse for more information. You’ll find links to our reviews, videos of the products and websites where you can seal the deal. This fantastic interactive layer comes to you courtesy of our friends at ThingLink.com.

Go on, try it out, and report back in the comments with any great gift ideas you’ve got for your guy.

Graphic designed by Emily Caufield.

More About: Christmas, Giftinator, holiday shopping, Holidays 2011, infographics, Mashable Infographics, shopping

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Kim Jong-il’s Death Spawns Odd New Meme

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 11:54 AM PST

In the world of memes, now is apparently never too soon to instigate some laughs at the expense of someone’s death. Shortly after Kim Jong-il’s death was announced Sunday, the web swung into action, dishing out not only the usual news stories and tweets but also an odd second-generation meme.

A Tumblr blog called Kim Jong-un Looking at Things immediately popped up, and it features pictures of the North Korean leader’s son and “Great Successor,” Kim Jong-un, staring at you, mountains, industrial equipment and other objects. The thumbnail of this post (above) shows Kim Jong-un looking at “the rhythm” of his clapping.

The single-topic blog follows in the footsteps of Kim Jong-il Looking at Things, which launched in 2010 to showcase the dictator gazing at things such as sweaters, army cadets and sausages. Containing only six photographs so far, the new blog should fill up as Kim Jong-un makes more public appearances in his role as North Korea’s head honcho. Someone also has created a nearly identical blog on Posterous.

The original Looking at Things blog first caught mainstream attention in December 2010 after a thread on Reddit racked up more than 2,000 up votes, says Know Your Meme‘s entry about the blog. The Washington Post, NPR, Funny or Die and Laughing Squid were among the major media outlets and humor blogs to share the blog with the world, Know Your Meme reports.

Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack Saturday, according to North Korean state television, which also said Kim Jong-un is heir to the throne.

Create Your Own Kim Jong-un Meme

Aside from the Kim Jong-un Tumblr blog, people also have been busy whipping up their own memes using Meme Generator. Click here to make one. Here is one example.

More About: blogging, memes, News, tumblr

Why Defensive .XXX Registration Is Only the Beginning of a Branding Nightmare

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 11:38 AM PST

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

David K. Mitnick is the founder and president of Domain Skate, LLC, an Internet company that focuses on domain name arbitration disputes. This post was co-authored by Howard Greenstein.

If you did not know about ICANN's decision to release the .xxx gTLD (global Top Level Domain) earlier in the year you probably do now. You may have been surprised to receive a barrage of emails from various registrars like GoDaddy and Register.com hawking domains in the Internet's new red light district (unless you are already in the adult entertainment business). The comprehensive email and marketing campaigns that the registrars have unleashed to publicize the .xxx registry can only lead one to assume that existing adult entertainment industry has been clamoring for this new slice of the web, or that ordinary folks are quitting their jobs and starting new careers as adult web site entrepreneurs. However, as Mashable has previously pointed out, neither seems to be the case.

SEE ALSO: XXX Domains: An Obvious Failure

That article explains the .xxx gTLD has led to a virtual stampede by legitimate businesses and institutions to defensively register their names in the .xxx domain in order to protect those names from falling into the wrong hands and being used with adult content. The Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier in the week that Brigham Young University has purchased several domains in the .xxx registry. Some believe this unintended (though eminently foreseeable) consequence of the .xxx registry has made it an epic failure.

I agree, and yet there's more for brand managers at companies of all sizes to think about. Some of the commercial success of the .xxx gTLD is attributable to defensive registrations — a unique form of Internet extortion whereby legitimate institutions are forced to pay for .xxx domains even though they have no intention of ever using them. According to the .xxx registry, there have already been over 160,000 .xxx domain registrations as of December 12th. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that at about $100 a domain (based on public one year pricing at GoDaddy) that's a windfall of roughly $16 million for registrars, with about $29,000 going to ICAAN. Thus, in a perverse twist, the .xxx registry's commercial success is being funded in part by the non-adult entertainment world because the .xxx gTLD has the unique potential to damage a brand.

A Wake-Up Call

The .xxx gTLD is just the tip of the iceberg as the Internet readies itself for the launch of ICANN's new gTLD program on January 12, 2012. Brand owners will have to be ready, just as with the .xxx launch, to make sure they can grab those assets they deem most valuable when there are suddenly hundreds of new gTLDs foisted on the marketplace. It will also be important for corporate counsel and IP attorneys to brush up on the UDRP process, by which companies can file complaints when parties register domains which are identical to or include their company trademarks and variations. What can be done now to prepare for this?

Action Items

  1. Identify valuable marks in your company's trademark portfolio that you will want to protect and that are worthy of obtaining defensive registrations.
  2. Designate someone in your organization or an outside attorney/consultant to follow the latest extension applications with ICANN so you can stay in front of the curve and identify those extensions that may be relevant to your business before your corporate names/assets are lost to third parties or squatters.
  3. Create a budget that will be dedicated to obtaining these assets, and figure out who will be responsible for registering names on your behalf.
  4. Begin thinking comprehensively about your company’s Internet strategy and make sure that going forward, future product/trademark development is done with an eye toward co-existing in an expanded Internet.

You don’t want to be surprised by the new global Top Level Domain program, and you don’t want to be scrambling when a relevant TLD launches.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ToolX

More About: .xxx, contributor, domains, features, ICANN, internet, Opinion

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Does This Phone Come in Size 7? Wearable Devices Are Closer Than You Think [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 11:20 AM PST

Screens are in front of our eyes every day. Apple and Google are looking to change that by having you “wear” your tech and keep your eyes off-screen.

According to a report in the New York Times, the two tech companies have secretly been working on wearable computers for the past year.

Check out the video above to learn more.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: apple, future tech, Google, mashable video

20,000 Christmas Bulbs Bring Angry Birds to Light [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Dec 2011 11:02 AM PST

Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

Move over Grinch, the Angry Birds pigs are the new villains out to destroy Christmas. But don’t fear, we know you’ve been practicing flinging birds at those wretched hogs all year and are ready to defend your turf.

Presenting the latest mission for you and your slingshot: the house-sized Angry Birds game, created in Christmas lights. This huge-scale world — made up of more than 20,000 individual bulbs — is controlled by two computers and 10 Light-O-Rama 16 channel controllers. Worried the winter weather makes it too cold to take advantage of the setup? The controller’s cord extends so you can play from a car on the street.

As much as we like playing Angry Birds on our phones, tablets and even desktops, bigger can definitely mean better when it comes to bird flinging.

SEE ALSO: Angry Birds Soars Beyond Half a Billion Downloads [VIDEO]

Have you created any tech-inspired holiday displays this year? Mashable and CNN iReport are sharing holiday tech photos and videos later this week — stay tuned! You can also still submit your shots to CNN here.

Bonus: Angry Birds Swoops in Everywhere

1. Smartphone Apps

Where the revolution began: Angry Birds first released the game onto Apple's iOS in December 2009.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: angry birds, Gaming, viral-video-of-day, YouTube

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