Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Sony Ericsson ‘Super Phone’ Has a 13-Megapixel Camera and LTE”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Sony Ericsson ‘Super Phone’ Has a 13-Megapixel Camera and LTE”

Sony Ericsson ‘Super Phone’ Has a 13-Megapixel Camera and LTE

Posted: 22 Dec 2011 02:02 AM PST

According to a new entry on the official Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) site, Sony Ericsson is getting ready to release the LT28at, a high-end smartphone which the company refers to as “super phone.”

The details on the Bluetooth SIG site are scarce, but LT28at will come with a 13-megapixel camera, LTE support and a 4.55-inch 720p “Reality Display,” all of which puts it somewhere at the top of the company’s current smartphone lineup.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LED Flash and front-facing camera are also on board, of course, but the release date is missing. It’s not too far-fetched to assume we might see SE’s definition of “super phone” in January, at next year’s CES.

[via XperiaBlog]

More About: LT28at, smartphone, Sony Ericsson, super phone

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Facebook Names Top Games of 2011

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 08:52 PM PST

Social gaming was a big trend in 2011 and we expect the market to continue to grow in 2012. Facebook, the biggest platform for social games, released its list of the most popular games of 2011.

Unlike most year-end lists, this one actually has quite a few surprises. I fully expected CityVille, Zynga’s hit social game, to top the list. Nope. According to Facebook’s measurements, that honor belongs to Gardens of Time.

In the update announcing the list, Facebook does say it is basing its ranking on “games that drew the most active users and received the highest user recommendations.”

That probably accounts for some of the discrepancies we found against other Facebook app data sources, like According to AppData, CityVille is the most popular game with 48.8 million monthly active users. Conversely, Gardens of Time ranks much further down the list with 8.5 million monthly active users.

Accounting questions aside, here are Facebook’s ten most popular games of 2011:

  1. Gardens of Time (by Playdom)
  2. The Sims Social (by EA)
  3. Cityville (by Zynga)
  4. DoubleDown Casino (by DoubleDown Entertainment)
  5. Indiana Jones Adventure World (by Zynga)
  6. Words With Friends (by Zynga)
  7. Bingo Blitz (by Buffalo Studios)
  8. Empires & Allies (by Zynga)
  9. Slotomania-Slot Machines (by Playtika)
  10. Diamond Dash (by wooga)

What Facebook game got your attention this year? Let us know.

More About: Facebook, playdom, social games, Year End 2011, Zynga

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You Know Your Klout Score. What’s Your Kred Score?

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 08:21 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.

stethoscope imageName: Kred

Quick Pitch: Kred assigns influence scores to Twitter users.

Genius Idea: Transparency.

Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are influential on Twitter, but unless you’re willing to pay them a lot of money, they’re probably not going to tweet about your product. There are, however, probably many less mainstream influencers who would happily tweet about your product if you engaged them.

Kred’s business model is built on finding these Twitter users, who Kred creator Jodee Rich call “local rockstars.”

The product, which was launched by social analytics company PeopleBrowser, assigns scores to Twitter users based on their influence and outreach. It then identifies the communities that each user influences.

Scoring social media is a concept that Klout started, and the two services are similar. The biggest difference between your Kred score and your Klout score is a quality of mystery. Kred details exactly how user scores are tabulated.

Furthermore, Kred lets users add “real world” accomplishments such as employment or being involved in charity work.

The companies that tabulate each score also use them in different ways. Klout promises never to identify influencers to advertisers and instead sells brands the opportunity to give specific types of influencers “Klout Perks” or exclusive access to certain products or experiences.

Kred targets its paying clients differently. When a brand wants to, for instance, influence fashion bloggers in London, Kred can whip up a list of Twitter users who can help.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, OrangeDukeProductions

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

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

More About: bizspark, klout, kred, social influence

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New Expedition 30 Crew Members Launch to Station [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 07:40 PM PST

Three new Expedition 30 crew members began their journey to the International Space Station on Wednesday, according to NASA. The video above shows flight engineers Don Pettit, Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers blasting off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch facility in Kazakhstan.

It’s called Expedition 30 because it’s the 30th long-duration mission to the International Space Station.

Pettit is American, Kuipers is Dutch and Kononenko is Russian. In two days, the trio will join American commander Dan Burbank and Russian flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin aboard the space station.

The crew is examining the effects of space’s weightless environment on the human body and different substances, in part to help further determine what types of materials are best suited for space travel, according to NASA. Expedition 30 also marks the beginning of a new era of commercial resupply services from the United States since NASA retired its space shuttle program this summer.

Dragon, a space capsule made by the California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, is expected to leave Earth in February for a cargo resupply of the station.

Petit, Kuipers and Kononenko are scheduled to live and work aboard the space station as members of Expedition 30 until March, when Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin head back to Earth. Petit, Kuipers and Kononenko will then become members of Expedition 31 for the rest of their time aboard the orbiting laboratory — until May — with Kononenko assuming the role of commander.

The International Space Station has been continuously occupied for more than 11 years and has grown to become the largest space station ever built since its first component was launched in 1998.

NASA is known for incorporating social media and games to relate its scientific and research projects to the general public. You can follow NASA’s space station crew members Burbank and Pettit on Twitter at @AstroCoastie and @astro_Pettit, respectively. You can also send a postcard or holiday tweet to the station crew via the NASA website.

More About: Expedition 30, International Space Station, NASA, space

When Apple’s Siri Kills People [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 06:52 PM PST

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


If Apple’s hands-free assistant Siri one day turned against the human race and transformed into a freakishly evil killing machine, well, that would really, really suck. However improbable, that hypothetical situation is exactly the fodder Rooster Teeth Productions used to create the “Siri: The Holiday Horror Movie (Trailer)” clip above.

The clever spoof shows Siri taunting, attacking and killing a group of friends who all received the iPhone 4S for Christmas. At one point — in its familiar female voice — Siri quips, “Life has no meaning. It’s true, you’re alive and then you die, you die, you die, die, die, die … ” After that, all hell breaks loose.

SEE ALSO: Siri's Abortion Stance, and 4 Other 'Insensitive' Technologies
Earlier this year, Rooster Teeth also brought us the explosive “Angry Birds: The Movie (Trailer).”

More About: apple, siri, Tech, viral-video-of-the-day

Could Your Next Phone Have Intel Inside?

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 06:30 PM PST

intel medfield phone

Intel has been dying to get its chips into mobile devices for a long time. Almost all phones and tablets today have processors based on the designs of U.K.-based ARM. Now Intel hopes to start chipping away (ouch!) at ARM’s near-total market share with a new kind of processor called Medfield.

Although the 32-nanometer Medfield chips have been in the works for a while, Intel recently showed off prototypes that use the processor to Technology Review. The company also hyped Medfield in a presentation at a technology conference, revealing some performance benchmarks.

Intel is mainly known for designing chips that emphasize performance over power efficiency. In other words, their processors have great specs, but they’ll suck a phone’s battery dry before lunchtime. Intel’s tried to make inroads into mobile with its Atom line of processors, which Medfield is a part of, but hasn’t had much luck.

Medfield is supposed to change all that. One of the problems Atom has had is that the chips aren’t single system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions, so they were never be as compact or as efficient as ARM’s designs. Medfield, however, is an SoC design to meet the low-power needs of phones and tablets.

Now Intel is showing the world just what Medfield can do. The company built a prototype Android smartphone powered by Medfield. About the size of an iPhone 4S but lighter, the phone is said to have fast Web browsing and a “burst mode” for its camera that can capture 15 stills per second, each at 8-megapixels.

In Intel’s presentation on Medfield, it said its “reference design” of a Medfield smartphone has best-in-class performance for Web browsing and graphics. (See the slide below.) For final products, however, a lot depends on the manufacturer’s implementation.

And of course right now there are no Medfield products, and very few mobile devices with Intel inside. Intel will be showing off its Medfield prototypes at CES in the hope of attracting some interest from manufacturers and partners. Mashable will be there to give our verdict as well.

Intel medfield

More About: arm, chipset, intel, Medfield, mobile chipsets, tablets

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Bud Light Searches Facebook For a “Correspondent” to Cover Super Bowl

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 06:10 PM PST

Are you on Facebook? Do you like drinking beer and watching football? Then you might be just the person Bud Light is looking for.

The Anheuser-Busch brand on Wednesday launched a program on its Facebook Page seeking a Bud Light Hotel correspondent. The winner will cover Super Bowl XLVI from a 180-room hotel that A-B has renovated in downtown Indianapolis. The correspondent will receive an (unstated) salary from the company to star in a series of exclusive videos for the brand's Facebook and YouTube pages through the week including red carpet interviews and behind-the-scenes looks at the EA Sports and Playboy parties at the hotel.

Those interested in applying can upload a 30-second video of themselves on Bud Light’s Facebook Page. The entries will be evaluated through Jan. 20, 2012, and fans will be able to 'Like' their favorite videos through a special tab. Candidates will be evaluated on how they come across in the video and how the Bud Light Facebook community responds to them.

Mike Sundet, senior director of Bud Light, says the idea was to give fans an experience they couldn’t get anywhere else. “We want to make it all about the fans,” Sundet told Mashable. “We didn’t want to make it a corporate deal.”

The brand ran a similar program last year, but had chosen a handful of correspondents itself. The Facebook angle is a new wrinkle. Sundet did not disclose the brand’s plan for advertising during the big game. A-B ran five ads during Super Bowl in February.

The use of a correspondent, who presumably will disseminate positive messages for the brand via social media, seems to have special appeal to sports-oriented brands. Major League Baseball executed a similar program in March when it hired a social media ambassador and his sidekick to tweet about a season’s worth of games, which they viewed from an apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ross Catrow

More About: Advertising, Bud Light, Facebook, Marketing, Super Bowl

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Steve Jobs Wins a Grammy

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 05:40 PM PST

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will honor Steve Jobs with a Grammy Award, naming him a Trustees Award honoree on Wednesday.

This 2012 Special Merit Award will be presented posthumously at an invitation-only ceremony to be held on February 11, 2012, with a formal acknowledgment made during the 54th annual Grammy Awards television broadcast on Sunday, February 12, 2012.

According to a statement from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Jobs will be honored for his long-standing career of innovation, helping to “create products and technology to transform the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books.”

Besides his role in the creation of the iPod, Steve Jobs was instrumental in convincing the major record companies to sell their music on the iTunes Store, which has sold more than 16 billion songs since its beginning on April 28, 2003.

More About: Grammy, itunes, steve jobs

The Top 10 Brand Pages on Google+

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 05:00 PM PST

Google+ launched brand pages just six weeks ago, but some brands have already amassed considerable followings on the social network.

This week, Zoomsphere, which tracks brand traction on social networks, released charts that rank brands by follower, activity and engagement counts on Google+. Below, we’ve highlighted the most-followed brand pages. To dive further into the rankings, see here.

10 Most Circled Brands

1. Android: 250,937 followers
2. Google+: 171,017 followers*
3. Google: 150,778 followers**
4. Google Chrome: 136,895 followers
5. Mashable: 131,953 followers
6. Gmail: 114,020 followers***
7. Coldplay: 102,481 followers
8. H&M: 91,702 followers
9. New York Times: 91,467 followers
10. Marvel: 87,118 followers

*Zoomsphere ranked Google+ as the fourth most-followed brand. It is in fact second.
**Zoomsphere ranked Google as the sixth most-followed brand. It’s third.
**Zoomsphere ranked Gmail as the eighth most-followed brand. It’s sixth.

Further down the list, we were surprised to find that many of the brands with the largest Facebook followings, such as Coca-Cola (36 million), Disney (29 million) and Red Bull (24 million), didn’t hit the top of the Google+ charts. In fact, Coca-Cola hasn’t yet launched its page, and Disney hasn’t yet posted to Disney World, the only official Disney Google+ page we could find.

TV shows — several of which, such as Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons, have Facebook fanbases in the tens of millions — are also notably absent from the Google+ rankings.

For a further look at how brands are thinking about Google+, and what kind of traction they’re getting so far, check out my colleague Todd Wasserman’s story.

More About: brands, Google, Marketing

FedEx Guy Destroys PC Monitor, But Not All FedEx Guys Are Like That [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 04:01 PM PST


After you watch this video, you might have a bad taste in your mouth about FedEx delivery personnel. But I think this guy is an aberration, an outlier against a corps of FedEx employees that I’ve noticed are second to none.

See update below: FedEx responds with a video of its own.

Before we get to the praise of FedEx and its legion of delivery people, take a look at the nonchalance with which this dweeb tosses a fragile package over that fence, not even aware enough of his surroundings to realize there’s a security camera almost poking him in the face. The maker of this YouTube video said the thrown package contained a computer monitor, which was broken by this rough treatment.

A pox on all those who treat our delicate and valuable packages this way. As a consumer electronics product reviewer, I know all too well that the arrival condition of a package can often mean the difference between success or failure for me on any given day.

That’s why I would like to stand up for FedEx as this video continues to make the rounds of the blogosphere, its harsh message spreading like wildfire as this video explodes into viral status (with 2,981,920 views as of this writing), generally gathering negative comments about FedEx and its personnel along the way.

There’s a FedEx guy who regularly delivers fragile packages here to our Midwest Test Facility, and he treats every box and envelope as if it were full of spectacularly fragile Fabergé eggs. He is so kind and friendly, I know him by name, and he knows me by name as well. He’s always businesslike, professional and graceful with packages and his greetings. We’ve had similarly positive experiences with FedEx delivery personnel at our New York headquarters.

Of course, our experience is anecdotal, and by no means is a representative sample of FedEx delivery personnel worldwide. However, all FedEx delivery people I’ve dealt with — ever — have been of the highest caliber, so they can’t be all bad, or even close. So as we watch this viral video of this FedEx employee who by now might be working elsewhere (or not at all), let’s keep in mind that even the best companies can have awful employees.

As an aside, I’d also like to endorse motion-activated security cameras such as the one used in this video — probably a Logitech Alert security system like the one we have installed here — catching people and animals doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they realized they were being watched. Besides the cameras’ security value, they’re just plain fun to play with. And, they never fail to show us when our intrepid FedEx guy is on his way, which for us is always a positive experience.

UPDATE: FedEx responds with a video of its own: Good job! The company also wrote a blog post about the incident. THIS is how you handle a corporate crisis:

More About: delivery, FedEx, FedEx Guy, Video

22+ Last-Minute Gifts You Can Send by Email

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 03:23 PM PST

1. iTunes gift card

A good ol' standby, an iTunes gift card is always appreciated. Your recipient can download any music — from Justin Bieber to Michael Bublé — to her iTunes and subsequent mobile devices.

Click here to view this gallery.

Wait, Christmas is how many days away? Hanukkah ends when?

If the holidays crept up on you this year, chances are you’ve waited until the last minute to buy gifts. Not to worry — the perfect present is just an email away.

SEE ALSO: 16 Quirky Gadget Gifts for the Holidays

Click through the gallery to buy gift cards, subscription services and ebooks for the special people in your life. Send your co-worker a thank-you Starbucks gift card, or present your grandma with an audio book. These gifts are downloadable by email or redeemable on mobile, which makes for the most convenient holiday shopping you’ve ever experienced.

What are your other last-minute gift ideas? Let others know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, svetikd

More About: email, features, gift cards, Gifts, Holidays 2011, subscription

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Facebook Wants You to Know How it Makes Money [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 02:20 PM PST

Notice anything different at the top of your Facebook today? On the top of users’ pages, the company has added a blurb and link to explain how the social network gets ads and why they show up on your pages.

Ads bring in enough money to help keep the social network free — and the note today might be a precursor to sponsored stories showing up in your news feed in the new year. Check out the video above to learn more.

Does Facebook being transparent about advertising make you OK with it? How do you feel about ads soon showing up in your news feed? Share your opinion in the comments.

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Facebook news feed, mashable video, news feed

NBA Stars to Answer Fans’ Questions Live on Facebook

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 02:08 PM PST

NBA fans will have a chance to interact with some of the league’s biggest stars through a live-streamed Facebook town hall event on Thursday evening. The NBA will also give away 150 free gifts the same day via Twitter, the league announced on Wednesday.

NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, perennial All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry will answer fan-submitted questions for about an hour beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Starting Wednesday night, fans can submit their questions for the players via Facebook or Twitter using the #NBATownHall hashtag. Video of the players’ answers will stream live via the NBA’s Facebook page and NBA TV commentator David Aldridge will moderate the dialogue.

While politicians and media personalities including Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey have held Facebook town halls recently, the NBA’s live event is believed to be the first for a major professional sports league.

The NBA and its players union recently resolved an extended labor dispute and the shortened 2011-2012 season begins Christmas Day. Christina Miller, who spearheads the league’s digital operations, told Mashable that the town hall meeting will be an ideal primer for the new season.

“With all the excitement that’s being generated, it seems like a natural extension of the social media environment we’re already very active in,” Miller said. “It’s a can’t-miss opportunity for one-on-one engagement that we’re happy to provide for fans.”

Also on Thursday, the NBA will dole out free prizes including Christmas Day tickets, gift cards and memorabilia via its @NBA Twitter account. Using the #BigNBAXmas hashtag, fans will answer a series of trivia questions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Prize winners will be picked from among the correct respondents to each question. The Thursday giveaway is schedule to run for eight hours and will lead into the build-up for the town hall event later that evening.

The NBA claims more than 125 million combined Twitter follows and Facebook likes — the most of any professional sports league — and its players have been early adopters and frequent users of social media. Former superstar and current broadcaster Shaquille O’Neal is America’s most-followed athlete. Current player Charlie Villanueva sparked one of the first sports-meets-social-media controversies in 2009 when he tweeted from the locker room during halftime of a game. And Durant recently used Twitter to set up a flag football game with a group of college students during the league’s labor standoff.

Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s vice president of marketing, said that Thursday’s Facebook town hall and Twitter giveaway are in keeping with the league’s aggressive social media strategy.

“We value social media so much as a way for fans of the league, teams and players to engage with us on a realtime basis and on a global level,” she told Mashable. “The #NBATownHall and #BigNBAXmas are great, exciting ways for us to say ‘thank you’ to our fans and get them even more excited for the season.”

Will you tune in and participate?

More About: Facebook, NBA, Town Hall, Twitter

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Apple in 2011: A Bittersweet Year for Tech’s Most Valuable Company

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 01:46 PM PST


Apple started the year on a high, surpassing $300 billion in market capitalization.

The launch of the Mac App Store brought the "App Store experience" to computer users, with more than 1,000 free and paid apps available for download. The Store saw one million downloads on the first day, while the App Store also hit a milestone in January -- 10 billion apps downloaded worldwide.

After more than four years, AT&T's exclusivity with the iPhone came to an end as Verizon became the second official U.S. carrier for the Apple mobile.

The news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was to take another leave of absence for health reasons was quickly followed by Apple reporting record-breaking earnings for its fiscal first quarter.

Click here to view this gallery.

Apple is never far from the headlines, and 2011 proved a particularly compelling year in terms of news from the company’s Cupertino campus.

We have taken a look back and highlighted both product and company milestones from the last 12 months.

Take a look through the gallery. Let us know in the comments which 2011 Apple news and events stood out for you.

More About: apple, Business, features, gallery, Tech

Obama Girls Can Expect Tech Gifts From Best Buy This Christmas

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 01:29 PM PST

Ever wonder where the president of the U.S. does his holiday shopping? President Obama went to Best Buy in Alexandria, Va., while the rest of the first family was already on vacation in Hawaii.

Spoiler alert for Malia and Sasha: The tech gifts the President picked up included Just Dance 3 for Wii, The Sims 3: Pets and two $50 iTunes gift cards, the AP reports.

Obama talked to reporters about the gifts he bought: “If you’re wondering — Just Dance for the Wii. The girls beat me every time on these various dance games. So, you’ll never get a picture of me doing it because I get graded F every time.”

Referencing how infrequently he goes out shopping, the President swiped his credit card and told store employees that he’d be embarrassed if the transaction didn’t go through.

In addition to Best Buy, Obama stopped at PetSmart to get a chew toy for first dog Bo. The president has previously been caught buying his daughters books.

What do you think — did the President pick out some good gifts for his girls?

More About: barack obama, best buy, Christmas, Holidays 2011

Hands on With Kindle Fire Update 6.2.1

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 01:17 PM PST

Amazon Kindle Fire Prepared for Update

The tablet is ready for an update.

Click here to view this gallery.

Amazon Kindle Fire is, at least by Amazon’s estimation, selling like hotcakes. But the road to tablet success has not been without its bumps. Many customers have complained about sluggish or jumpy screen interaction, an out-of-control carousel and no way of stopping children from freely shopping and surfing to some of the darkest corners of the web. Kindle Fire 6.2.1 software update is supposed to solve all that, and in our tests, it does a fairly good job.

Getting the update can be quite easy. If you’re on a Wi-Fi network, it should show up in your Kindle Fire automatically. If not, you need to connect your Fire to your computer. I’ve been testing the Kindle Fire for a while, but for some reason, even though it was on the network, it did not automatically find the update. Then it decided to lock me out completely. The screen became unresponsive and I couldn't shut down or unlock the device. A friend on Twitter offered a solution: Press and hold the Kindle Fire power button (its only button) for 20 seconds. That worked and the tablet finally rebooted.

Next I unlocked the screen and connected the Kindle Fire to my computer via the micro-USB port. When you do that, you enter the USB-connected phase and screen. The Fire shows up as a storage device on the computer. I downloaded the software update and then dragged and dropped the file from my computer to the Kindle Updates folder on the device. Next, I undocked and disconnected the device. To activate the update installation, I had to open Settings/Device and then click the now highlighted Update button.

The install takes a minute or so and then the Kindle Fire does a full reboot, which can take a couple of minutes. When the tablet finished, it was in pretty much the same state I had left it — although my wireless network settings were blown away. That took a moment to fix.

Immediately, I could see and feel the difference. Most screen interactions were smoother and, finally, the carousel was in my control. I had no trouble finding and selecting whatever I wanted — no more icons racing by before I could select them. The update also gave me the ability to remove items from the carousel — which I began doing immediately.

The other major change is in network access control. Kindle Fire Update 6.2.1 adds the ability to restrict Wi-Fi access on a password basis. Amazon could have done a better job of highlighting this effective new feature. It’s hidden under Settings/Restrictions. First you have to enable Restrictions, and then it walks you through a password setup. Nowhere in here does it tell you that this creates password protection for Wi-Fi access. You only see that after you set up the password. Still, the feature works as advertised. I added a password and now a little key appears up next to my tiny Settings button. If I try to access the web — or any W-Fi related settings, including shopping for music, movies and other Amazon goodies — I have to enter the key first. However, if you enter the password and hand the Kindle Fire to someone else, it will remain active. You have to remember to turn off wireless access to relock the device, which is a bit of a pain.

You should also know that disabling Wi-Fi does not cut off access to anything already resident on the device, like magazine downloads.

This update doesn’t appear to do much else. Mail’s summary page is still white and gray text on a black and gray background, but the overall responsiveness of the device even makes that more pleasurable to use.

I’ll keep looking for other little tweaks. In the meantime, tell us about your update experiences. Did 6.2.1 improve your Kindle Fire? If you don't have one, will you now consider buying an Amazon Kindle Fire with its more stable software? Share it all in the comments.

More About: amazon, Amazon Kindle Fire, android, software

700,000 Android Devices Are Activated Every Day [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 01:02 PM PST

Google‘s Android Chief Andy Rubin has revealed that Android sales continue to climb, boasting 700,000 activated devices daily. In June, that number was 500,000.

Rubin announced the milestone on Google+ and Twitter late Tuesday.

Check out the video above to learn more and find out how that number compares to Apple phones.

More About: android, andy rubin, mashable video

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10 Most Popular Actors on IMDb’s Website and Apps

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 12:30 PM PST

The crown for Internet Movie Database’s most-visited profile no longer belongs to perennial chart-topper Johnny Depp.

Natalie Portman attracted the most page views on and the service’s slew of mobile apps, making her the queen bee on IMDb's Top 10 Stars list this year.

But why Portman? “You can see why,” says IMDb managing editor Keith Simanton. “She won a Best Actress Oscar for Black Swan, was in the news welcoming a son into the world in June, and appeared in three films (No Strings Attached, Your Highness and Thor).”

Depp, who has topped the annual rankings for six of the past seven years, fell to third. Sandwiched between him and Portman as runner-up is Mila Kunis. The Black Swan co-stars’ one-two punch helped push the gender ratio of the list to 50% female — opposed to 2010 when women secured only three spots.

  • 1. Natalie Portman
  • 2. Mila Kunis
  • 3. Johnny Depp
  • 4. Emma Stone
  • 5. Chris Hemsworth
  • 6. Olivia Wilde
  • 7. Jennifer Lawrence
  • 8. George Clooney
  • 9. Ryan Gosling
  • 10. Christian Bale

Bumped off the top 10 list this year were Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Gerard Butler, Megan Fox and Zoe Saldana.

Up until a few years ago, IMDb created the rankings based on page views to its website. In the past two or so years, though, the Amazon-owned service began offering mobile options starting with the official iPhone app in 2009. The app selection soon expanded to the iPad, iPod touch, Android devices and Windows Phones in 2010. The rankings now account for page views on those mobile apps, which combined with the website garner 110 million unique visitors per month.

This year, 21-year-old IMDb released a trivia app as well as IMDb Buzz, which gives users entertainment news.

More About: celebrities, Entertainment, IMDB, mobile apps, Movies

IBM: Mind-Reading Machines Will Change Our Lives

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 12:04 PM PST

ibm thinking machines

In five years, we’ll simply be able to think something, and a computer will respond. That’s the vision from IBM, which just published its “5 in 5″ forecast, which attempts to predict five technologies that have the potential to significantly change our lives in the next five years. One of the more surprising candidates: machines that will read our thoughts.

Well, not exactly, IBM Senior Inventor Kevin Brown told Mashable. The idea is a little more down-to-earth — and less scary — than the science-fiction scenarios of mind-reading robots that the description evokes. IBM’s vision is this: a person wears a headset (shown above, worn by Brown) that can detect general electrical signals from the brain, and sends them to a computer. Sophisticated software interprets those signals and, in turn, tells a machine what to do.

“One of the common misconceptions is that this headset is reading your thoughts,” says Brown. “It’s not. It’s just reading a level of excitement. It’s not understanding.”

The technology behind the idea has existed for a while. The headset, which costs just $299 and is made by a company called Emotiv, is able to detect electrical signals in the brain (via electroencephalography, or EEG) as well as muscular movements (electromyography, or EMG), both well known in the medical community.

Once you have those signals, Brown says the real magic begins, which is the ability to map signals to different actions. By doing so, the user is effectively teaching the machine how to read a specific mind. In much the same way speech-recognition software gets tailored to an individual’s accent, inflections, and pronunciation, the mind-reading software can adapt to a person’s unique “thoughts.”

The next step is mapping specific thoughts to specific actions, analogous to programming a universal remote control. The key here is that the thought and action don’t necessarily have to be the same. For example, if you want to use the headset to, say, turn on a TV, you might program the headset to perform that action when you think about kittens.

“Any device can take that [headset] data and do something with it,” says Brown, “So you might have a fan come on or you might have a room light change color based on certain excitement level.”

The idea of walking around your house wearing an elaborate headset (you can see it here) has unfortunate echoes of another technology that was supposed to change our lives but flopped: 3D. However, the tech has already come a long way from the hospital-level EEG devices, which needed gels applied to the skin and hard-wire connections. An Emotiv competitor, NeuroSky, has a sleeker (though less capable) headset. Brown is confident progress could make it even more compact.

“At the moment there’s a little bit of trade-off between technology looks,” Brown admits. “But one of the key things is finding a really use that actually makes people want to wear it.”

Brown’s alluding to the mind-reading tech finding a “killer app.” As far as what that could be, he says it’s only limited by what you could connect the headset to, and — if the tech is cultivated into a full-fledged platform with developers, apps and iterative updates — that could be a lot. Thinking big, Brown suggests large-scale data about how people are feeling could become a tool for marketers and sociologists.

“If you also think about smarter cities,” Brown writes in a blog post. “If everyone is wearing the device and open to sharing their thoughts, city heat maps could be created to see how people are feeling to create a picture of the mental health of a city. Or musicians could create elaborate pieces based on what they are thinking about.”

What are your thoughts on reading thoughts? Would you wear a headset to control things with your mind? And what about sharing your real-time feelings in some kind of public network? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Emotiv, IBM, mind-reading

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75% of Worldwide Cellphone Users Send Text Messages [STUDY]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 11:48 AM PST

smartphone multi-tasking

Mobile phones are universally popular — and so is text messaging. Cellphone users in 21 countries were surveyed on their mobile habits and 75% replied they send text messages.

A Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project study, published Tuesday, examined worldwide use of digital communication tools such as mobile and social networks. Not surprisingly, the research found the young and well-educated are the most likely to adopt new technologies. Those under 30 who hold college degrees are most likely to use many mobile functions and social networks.

Only one-half of the respondents send photos or videos, and just 23% use the Internet.

While these behaviors may be assumed most popular in wealthy countries, texting is most popular in Kenya and Indonesia, the two poorest nations included in the study. Sending photos or videos is most popular in Japan (72% reported the behavior), followed by Mexico (61%), Spain (59%) and Egypt (58%). Using mobile data still seems to be a behavior of wealthier countries, most popular in Israel (47%), Japan (47%) and the U.S. (43%). You can see the complete results in the table below.

cell phone usage

The study also looked at the popularity of social networking, which corresponds with wealthy nations where Internet access is more common. Social networking is most popular in Israel (53%) and the U.S. (50%), trailed slightly by Britain (43%), Russia (43%) and Spain (42%). However, Internet users in poorer nations use social networks at equal if not higher rates than those in richer countries.

The study, conducted between March 21 and May 15, surveyed between 700 and 4,029 mobile users per country by telephone or in person in the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, China, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Mexico and Kenya.

Do you text, send photos and videos, or use the Internet from your mobile phone? Do your behaviors reflect those of your country?

Image courtesy of Flickr, JayB.Stevens2010

More About: Mobile, Pew Internet & American Life Project, text message

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Newt Gingrich Attacked By Digital Vandals

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 11:36 AM PST

In the latest act of online political sabotage, individuals who type into their browsers will be directed to one of a number of sites that are embarrassing to Republican primary candidate Newt Gingrich.

Instead of finding a homepage for Gingrich’s campaign, which is hosted at, visitors are redirected to sites like Tiffany & Co. (where Gingrich has a six-figure tab) or Freddie Mac (where Gingrich’s role as “historian” has been called into question), or to news articles and YouTube videos that make conservative voters cringe, like this ad for former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. In the ad, Gingrich appears cozying up next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to talk about climate change.

It’s uncertain who’s behind the mischief, which is the digital equivalent of supporters of one politician vandalizing the lawn signs of an opponent in the dark of night. The domain is privately registered, so the owner’s information is not readily accessible.

Gingrich’s campaign wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Two weeks ago, was redirecting to Ron Paul’s campaign website. That domain no longer redirects and is now up for sale, but the current owner’s information is also private.

Both of these campaigns have been caught with their digital pants around their ankles. Many Internet users still consider the “.com” suffix to be standard. By failing to acquire these domains, Gingrich and Perry left themselves vulnerable to attack by digital vandals, who are taking advantage of anyone making the assumption that a candidate’s homepage will be their name followed by “.com.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jcamilobernal

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, domains, internet, newt gingrich

Twitter Users Are More Likely to Follow Journalists Than News Organizations [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 11:23 AM PST

A recent study found that during the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Twitter users were more likely to get information from journalists, bloggers and activists than from news organizations.

“Both revolutions featured prominent use of social media, both by activists organizing the demonstrations, and by those disseminating or discussing news of the events locally and globally,” says the study, published in the International Journal of Communication.

SEE ALSO: What the Arab Spring Taught Journalists About Social Media in 2011

[via The Next Web]

More About: Arab Spring, Egypt, journalists, mashable video, Tunisia, Twitter

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Celebrate the Mashable Awards Winners at MashBash at CES

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 11:16 AM PST

Now that the Mashable Awards winners have been announced, it’s time to celebrate their victory at MashBash during CES in Las Vegas.

We’ll be celebrating the best of digital at the brand new 1OAK Nightclub in the Mirage Hotel and Casino on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. You can expect a night of networking, dancing and celebration in true Mashable style at one of the hottest new clubs in Las Vegas.

San Francisco-based DJ duo A Plus D — a.k.a. Adrian and Mysterious D — will be spinning their world famous mashups at MashBash. Think Lady Gaga + Bob Marley or Will Smith + Daft Punk, mixed together under one roof. A Plus D, creators of Bootie, the biggest mashup bootleg party in the world, will rock the party with their musical concoctions and creative song combinations.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements about MashBash in the coming weeks.

MashBash Info and Tickets

Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 (during International CES Convention week)

Time: 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. PT

Location: 1OAK Nightclub, Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV (1OAK is located at the Mirage Hotel & Casino just off the North Valet access or Self-Parking entrance into the hotel)

Premiere Sponsors

More About: Awards, bootie, CES, event, Events, las vegas, mashable awards, mashable awards winners, mashable events, MashBash, Party, trade show

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Digg Makes Sharing Its Links to Facebook Automatic

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 11:00 AM PST

Digg is tapping into Facebook’s Open Graph to make sharing its links on the social network instant.

Like Open Graph integrations from news sites such as The Washington Post, the new feature will make stories you’re reading on the news aggregator’s site automatically show up on your Facebook friends’ news tickers and Timeline.

Digg is also launching a “Newsbar” that sits on top of Digg pages reached through Facebook. The most important feature of the bar is a front-and-center button that turns automatic sharing to Facebook on and off. You can also remove individual actions from Facebook tickers if you decide after the fact that you don’t want to share them.

“One of the points of feedback [Facebook gave us] was to try to make it as simple as possible to activiate and deactivate social sharing and even to edit what you have shared,” explains Digg CEO Matt Williams.

The prominent, ever-present button Digg has dedicated to this task isn’t a bad way to avoid ticking off users who don’t want every move they make ending up on Tickers.

Those who do use the social sharing feature, however, will be doing Digg a favor. When you paste a link into Facebook from a page you found on Digg, you’re likely driving traffic to the link’s content but not to Digg. If someone clicks on an article shared automatically from the Ticker, however, they’ll land on the Digg Newsbar instead.

Will you be turning on Digg’s social sharing feature? Let us know why or why not in the comments.

More About: digg, Facebook, facebook open graph

Here’s How Twitter Got Big [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 10:43 AM PST

A new study suggests good ol’ fashioned real-world networks played a bigger role in Twitter‘s path to prominence than online influencers.

MIT researchers analyzed Twitter’s user acquisition between 2006 and 2009 in 408 U.S. cities with relatively high numbers of Twitter users. They found at first the network spread through “young, tech-savy innovators” with little regard for geography. It took off, for instance, both in its birthplace San Francisco and across the country in Boston. But from there, its popularity traveled only short distances — to areas just outside of these cities — which indicates that more traditional networks played a big role.

"Even on the Internet where we may think the world is flat, it's not," said the study’s co-author Marta González in a statement. "The big question for people in the industry is 'How do we find the right person or hub to adopt our new app so that it will go viral?' But we found that the lone tech-savvy person can't do it; this also requires word of mouth. The social network needs geographical proximity. … In the U.S. anyway, space and similarity matter."

Media attention also played a key role in Twitter’s popularity. González and her co-authors Jameson Toole and Meeyoung Cha used the number of news stories appearing weekly in Google News to show its key influence in their model of Twitter’s path to prominence.

In 2009, for instance, there was a huge spike in user acquisition after Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to a Twitter popularity contest. The week Kutcher went on the Oprah Winfrey show to announce his victory was the largest increase in Twitter user acquisition throughout the entire study. Like many bestselling books have gained from the Oprah effect or politicians have gained through the Colbert bump, it seems that Twitter gained users through the right media attention. But, Toole points out, it’s hard to get mentioned on Oprah without gaining some traction first.

“It isn’t surprising that people watch Oprah,” Toole told Mashable. “What’s surprising is that word of mouth mattered so much until the media got involved…we don’t usually think about social networks being embedded in the real world.”

1. Not Burt Reynolds

Not Burt Reynolds has less followers then most accounts on this list, but with tweets like "When I lose a follower, I just assumed they died. Because let's face it, it's hard not to love me," and "You can call it a mustache, or a hairy set of angel wings," the account's sure to catch fire. Follow this account for tweets documenting what you imagine Mr Reynolds' life would be like.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: ashton kutcher, mit, Oprah winfrey, Social Media, Twitter

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NASA’s Virtual Snow Globe Looks at 10 Years of the White Stuff

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 10:31 AM PST

NASA has released a video that highlights where snow graced the Earth during every month for more than 10 years.

The clip starts with a snow-covered map of the Earth on February 2000 and runs all the way up until last month. The maps show observations collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite.

Snow cover is depicted by color, from medium blue (greater than 0%) to white (100%). Regions that didn’t get snow and weren’t picked up by the satellite are displayed in gray.

“Because MODIS relies on visible light to assess snow cover, the sensor cannot collect data over the highest latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during winter when no sunlight reaches those regions,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA also noted that snow and ice cover most of the Earth's polar regions throughout the year. The coverage at lower latitudes depends on season and elevation, and high-altitude areas such as the Tibetan Plateau and the Andes and Rocky Mountains receive some amount of snow almost every month.

“Land area is larger and snow cover is more variable in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere,” NASA added.

More About: NASA, space

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Microsoft’s Combines Social Networking and Student Research [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 10:21 AM PST

After months of speculation, Microsoft rolled out its semi-social network, The site is aimed at students looking to collaborate and share searches.

The site also lets users create mood boards similar to Pinterest. “There is a bit of an art to it; like creating mix tapes. Alternate between selecting images that are predominantly light or dark, heavily saturated or black and white, and having great depth versus flat or close up subjects,” said a recent Fuse Labs blog post.

Check out the video above to learn more about the not-quite-social-network.

More About: education, mashable video, microsoft,

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After 2012, Microsoft Is Done With CES Keynotes

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 10:12 AM PST

Microsoft is ending its years-long run as the Consumer Electronics Show keynote kick-off event. Its 2012 keynote, which should highlight Windows 8 will be its last and next year will also mark the software giant’s last trade show booth at the event.

Microsoft made the surprise announcement Wednesday in a brief blog post by Corporate Vice President for Corporate Communications Frank X. Shaw:

“We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We'll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing.”

After participating in the event for almost 20 years, Microsoft will still have some sort of presence at the show. In recent years, it’s had both an enormous booth and a large tent in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot where it hosted events, meetings and product demonstrations. It’s unclear if the tents will be around in 2013.

While these keynotes are among some of the most highly anticipated events of CES, they haven’t really been the same since Microsoft Founder, Chairman and former CEO Bill Gates retired from the company to focus on his philanthropic activities. Gates was not a magnetic personality like the late Steve Jobs, but he knew how to work a stage and hold his audience. His CES keynotes (and the COMDEX ones that preceded it) were “must-attend” events and usually featured at least one truly surprising or exciting product and a couple of celebrity appearances that somehow always worked.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer‘s keynotes, which he began giving in 2007, have been decent affairs, but Ballmer is a salesman who seems happiest when he’s talking to a like-minded audience. He could never whip a group of journalists and skeptical CES attendees into a frenzy the way he could Microsoft developers and the company’s sales team.

As for how Microsoft will reach customers in the future, Shaw points to a number of avenues it’s already been leveraging, including special events like the Windows Phone event in Herald Square, its website, and social avenues that include Twitter and Facebook.

Mashable contacted the Consumer Electronics Associations (the group that runs CES) for comment and received this statement:

In the fourteen years that we have invited Microsoft to deliver a keynote address at CES, the company has unveiled some great innovations, from operating systems to gaming platforms to mobile technologies, Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES.

The International CES is widely recognized as the world's best stage for technology debuts, and each year we experience incredible demand from the world's leading technology companies for invitations to keynote at CES. We will announce our amazing lineup of keynoters for the 2013 CES beginning in the early summer of 2013.

Microsoft has also informed us that, although their plans for the 2013 CES are not yet finalized, they will not request the Central Hall exhibit space that they have used in past years. Given the huge success of the 2012 CES, with more than 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space (the second largest show floor in our history) and more than 2,700 exhibitors, we have received expressions of interest for that space from the long waiting list for Central Hall exhibit space. Exhibitors will choose space for the 2013 CES during the 2012 show, and in past years available Central Hall exhibit space has sold out within hours.

Microsoft is an important member of CEA and we wish them all the best as they evolve their plans for new ways to tell consumer stories. We also look forward to their CES keynote on January 9, 2012.

What do you think Microsoft’s decision means for the future of CES? Tell us in the comments.

More About: CES, microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

Kindle Adds Periodicals to iOS Apps: But Will Consumers Read Them?

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 10:04 AM PST

Amazon updated its Kindle app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Wednesday, giving users access to their periodical subscriptions and cloud-stored documents for the first time. Previously, users could only use the Kindle app to read — and, before Apple changed its guidelines, buy — ebooks on those devices.

Having access to documents stored on Amazon is handy, but iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners will find little reason to begin reading their newspapers and magazines through the Kindle app [iTunes link]. That’s because:

1) They’re likely already paying to get access to their favorite newspapers and magazines on those devices, or getting them for free as part of their print subscriptions, and therefore have no incentive to pay for a second subscription through Amazon.

2) Most major magazines already have designated apps for the iPhone and iPad, and those apps (in most cases) offer a superior user experience. They’re optimized for both screen sizes, and come with a host of bells and whistles — links, slideshows, audio interviews, interactive graphics — that aren’t available in the Kindle app version.

Take a look at The Atlantic on the Kindle iPhone app, for instance, which has no navigation and virtually no formatting. Leading images sometimes bleed into the text of the previous story, and bullet points, italics and font sizes aren’t rendered at all:

And here’s Popular Mechanics on its iPad app (left two images) and on the Kindle iPad app (right image). Note how the story has been divided into two pages on the magazine’s iPad app (left) to make it easier to read:

The update will be useful to one very small subset of users: Those who already subscribe to newspapers and magazines through the Kindle Store, and would like to have their periodicals synced between their Kindle device and their Apple devices. Those users can now take in a few pages on their iPhones in line for lunch, and pick up at the same place on their Kindle Fires at home, for the price of two subscriptions.

Of course, this is not to say that Amazon won’t ever be able to build a useful newsstand on for iOS devices, or that magazine publishers won’t wise up and start bundling all of their digital subscriptions together, including those offered through the Kindle Store. But for now, there’s nothing for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners to get too excited about.

More About: amazon, apple, ipad app, iphone app, Kindle

Conan Skewers Amazon’s Kindle Fire [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Dec 2011 09:47 AM PST

Amazon may have issued an update to its Kindle Fire this morning, but Conan O’Brien was still able to skewer the device and some of the early customer complaints on his show.

Team Coco and crew mock the Kindle Fire’s ill-placed power button, security concerns and other areas of dissatisfaction.

O’Brien has a history of mocking tech products. In March, Team Coco produced a pitch-perfect parody of Apple’s iPad 2 launch video. In June, Conan and crew targeted the ill-received Final Cut Pro X.

Of course, Amazon has promised that it will continue to improve the Kindle Fire software and that it is actively addressing customer concerns. Mashable readers have told us they are very satisfied with the Kindle Fire, regardless of whatever 1.0 software niggles might exist. In fact, Amazon says its selling 1 million Kindle products (which includes more than just the Kindle Fire) each week.

The device is a bonafide hit — which is why it’s ripe for mockery on late-night television.

[via Cult of Android]

More About: conan o'brien, humor, kindle fire

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