Tag Archives: flickr

Iron Man 2 Trailer Hits YouTube

It’s here: the biggest action movie for gadget geeks, Iron Man, returns with a sequel, and you can see just how high-tech it’ll all be in the Iron Man 2 trailer, now available on YouTube.

Besides a long-haired, electric whip-wielding Mickey Rourke, the movie features more iron man suits than you could ever desire, and you get to see most of them ripped apart to shreds. Yes, this thing is destined for success. Check out the trailer below.

Tags: Iron Man 2, trending, video, youtube

Iron Man 2 Trailer Hits YouTube

Tumblr Hits Major Milestones, Plans to Start Generating Revenue

Tumblr, one of the simplest blogging platforms around, is doing really well. Situated between WordPress, which requires a bit more effort to create and organize content, and Twitter, which requires almost no effort but also doesn’t offer many features, Tumblr is the perfect tool for users who want to have a blog with photos, videos, and other content embedded, but simply hasn’t got the time or the will to struggle with a complex blogging platform.

How is this working out for them? Well, according to the neat infographic which they’ve sent us (see below), their traffic and user base is growing fast, and they’ve recently hit some major milestones.

Compared to Twitter, Tumblr is still a small dot on the radar, but it’s definitely growing fast enough to make an impact. The Tumblr team isn’t slacking on the features, either; they recently added the option to add static pages to your blog, as well as dead simple, direct video uploads.

Last but not least, Tumblr plans to launch two revenue generating features next month. Details are scarce (all we know is they’ll be powered by the widget, pictured below, but with constant talk of Twitter’s revenue generating plans (which are still completely open to interpretation), it’ll be interesting to see how Tumblr plans to tackle the issue. Its success (or lack thereof) might pave the way for microblogging networks (although Tumblr arguably stands in the middle, between blogging and microblogging), an area traditionally devoid of revenue.

Tags: blog, blogging, tumblr

Tumblr Hits Major Milestones, Plans to Start Generating Revenue

Is the Internet a Fundamental Right? [POLL]

In a study conducted by the BBC World Service, four in five respondents said they believe web access is a fundamental right. 90% described the Internet as “a great place to learn,” and 78% considered it a source of “greater freedom.” A bit more than half said that the Internet should not be regulated by government at all.

27,000 people form 26 countries were surveyed, and their responses varied by location. While a large number of people from the United States, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Korea said the Internet shouldn’t be regulated, many residents of China, Pakistan and Turkey disagreed; only 16% of Chinese, 12% of Pakistani and 13% of Turkish respondents said the Internet shouldn’t be regulated.

We’re always curious where our readers stand, especially since this is a hot issue right now with the recent struggle between Google and China. Where do you fall on this issue? Take part in the poll below, and feel free to elaborate in the comments.

Is Internet access a fundamental right?online surveys

Tags: News, Political, poll, rights, web

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Is the Internet a Fundamental Right? [POLL]

Foursquare iPhone App Vanishes from App Store Due to “Hiccup”

The iPhone and iPod touch app for the popular location check-in service Foursquare has temporarily dropped from Apple’s App Store.

The Android and BlackBerry versions are still available, but the iPhone is by far the most popular platform for Foursquare users. This is just a temporary technical setback, though. Foursquare tweeted the following.

Earlier this week, the new 1.6 version of the Foursquare iPhone app was accidentally added to the App Store before it was ready. The problem was corrected, but now people who have 1.6 are unable to use the service. They’re being directed to the app store to download the regular version, but it’s not there.

Foursquare is in the middle of unveiling new features and deals so these technical issues could have come at a better time, but it won’t be a major setback. Don’t worry, Foursquare fans; you can keep looking forward to the new features in version 1.6 this week.

Update: We’ve heard from Foursquare that the app should be back tomorrow.

Reviews: Android, BlackBerry Rocks!, Foursquare

Tags: app store, apple, foursquare, iphone, iPod Touch

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5 Ways to Use Twitter to Avoid a Backchannel Disaster

presentation imageCliff Atkinson is author of The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever (New Riders, 2009).

What do you do when you’re giving a presentation, and notice that your audience is looking down, busily typing on their laptops and smartphones? And what about when you get the sense that they are turning against you?

When audiences use Twitter and other tools to communicate with one another during live presentations, they create a new “backchannel” where they share comments, questions and sometimes criticisms about the person speaking.

This new dynamic has led to high-profile blowups between presenters and audiences, which makes it more important than ever for presenters to do the right things to avoid similar disasters.

To short-circuit a possible disaster, keep in mind these five things you can do to prepare and engage the backchannel.

1. Calibrate Your Content so You Don’t Misfire

One of the major causes of backchannel disasters is a mismatch between what audiences expect, and what you deliver. Make sure you match your audience expectations when you are planning your material by using Twitter to reach out to the followers who will be in attendance. Ask for their feedback. Query them about challenges they are facing that you can help resolve, case studies of how they tackled situations related to your topic, or suggestions of what you should be sure to cover.

2. Defuse the Snark Bomb Before it Blows Up on You

Audience members who use Twitter during a live presentation will often assume the speaker is not paying attention to their comments, so they may be more prone to be snarky or say things they wouldn’t say to you face-to-face. Prevent this dynamic at the outset by publicly welcoming audience members using Twitter and let them know you’ll be monitoring what they write, and possibly reading aloud to the whole audience what they tweet.

3. Spark the Conversation Early and Often

discussion imageThe whole point of social media is that people want to get more involved in experiences, rather than be passive recipients of opinions pronounced from on high. To get people more involved, plan your material in a way that allows you to take Twitter breaks.

When you break, switch over to a browser, review the audience tweets and respond to questions both from the backchannel and from the live audience. These breaks give you the chance to take the temperature of the audience, make sure you’re on track, and to make any adjustments to your presentation based on the feedback you get.

4. Grab the Twecklers Off of the Web and Into the Room

When you take a Twitter break and review comments, you may find that audience members made negative remarks or even heckled you. What should you do? You’ll need to make a judgment call here –- if you can’t do anything about the issue, or if it reflects the personal view of that one person, you might just ignore it.

But if the comment is disruptive and you see it’s affecting the comments of others, you may need to address it directly. In that case, read the comment out loud to the audience, and take a poll of how many people agree with the comment. If many people agree, ask the individual to explain it further, and then address it. If only a few people concur, let the commenter know you’ll be glad to talk further after the presentation and move on.

5. Don’t Stick Your Fingers in the Social Media Socket

The last thing you want to do is lose control of your presentation because you’re overwhelmed. Trying to deliver your presentation while monitoring the information flowing from the Twitterstream can be difficult. If it’s too much to do both, which is the case for most people, focus on your delivery first, then engage the backchannel when you turn your attention to it during Twitter breaks. That way you accomplish what you came to do –- delivering an effective, memorable presentation as you promised in your session description, as well engaging and involving your audience during breaks.

More social media resources from Mashable:

- How Companies Are Using Your Social Media Data
The Science of Building Trust With Social Media
How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement
3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology
How Social Media is Taking the News Local

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, Splitcast, Alina555

Reviews: Twitter, iStockphoto

Tags: backchannel, business, feedback, presentation, presentations, social media, twitter

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5 Ways to Use Twitter to Avoid a Backchannel Disaster

Hundreds of Twitter Accounts Hacked [WARNING]

It seems hundreds of Twitter accounts have started to Tweet out “weight loss” product spam today.

Specifically, users who have had their accounts hijacked are Tweeting the message “I lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks!” and links to diet sites. Our source counts over 200 rogue tweets so far tonight.

It’s not just new users getting caught out: famous tech pundit John C. Dvorak (@therealdvorak) got caught up in the attack, and was none too pleased.

At this point we’re unsure of the cause: Access could have been gained through previous phishing schemes. However, one factor points to a likely suspect: all the Tweets are posted via “API”, meaning the spammers do not have direct access to the accounts. Rather, there’s likely some third party application that’s been compromised (or a rogue one permitted by the users) that’s pushing spam Tweets.

Suffice to say: If your friends start tweeting links to diet sites tonight, don’t click the links!

We’ll let you know when we learn more.

Thanks to Ike Pigott for the heads up.

Tags: trending, twitter

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Hundreds of Twitter Accounts Hacked [WARNING]

Top 10 Geekiest Decorations for Your Home or Office [PICS]

We certainly wouldn’t advocate turning your office, cubicle or home office into some kind of over-the-top dork theme park, but a few witty items carefully placed here and there can brighten up the dullest work space with some geek chic.

Having an office gives you the chance to display things you might not get away with (or indeed, want to get away with) at home. From magnificent magnets to clever clocks and wall decals, here’s a choice of ten products that will help you geek-pimp your work space in style.

1. iPhone Icon Coasters

These Meninos coasters are styled after the iPhone’s icons giving Apple fans somewhere cool to stick their cups. Made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with a durable vinyl finish and a rubber bottom to stop slips, the anally retentive among you could arrange them on the coffee table as precisely as they appear on the phone’s homescreen, while the rest of us can mix ‘em up as we see fit. Oh, and if the iPhone’s not your thing, then Meninos also offers an Internet-themed set too.

Cost: $59.99

2. Million Dollar Homepage Poster

As well as adding a splash of color to your office walls, this poster will serve as inspiration, reminding you that a small, simple idea can grow into big, fat success. The million dollar home page poster is an exact replica of the original Web page, measuring 60cm x 60cm with a gloss finish. Heck, if you’re feeling flush yourself, you could even frame it.

Cost: $30

3. Enter Key Doormat

Let your visitors know that they are entering a geek domain right from the start with this recycled rubber doormat that is modeled after the “Enter” key. Designed by Pieter Woudt, there’s also a “Home” key version if whoever you share a domicile with will let you get away with geeking out your porch.

Cost: $30

4. Photoshop Magnets

We can’t think of a better way to stick your team pics to the fridge or filing cabinet than with these Photoshop-themed magnets, another little gem from Meninos. The set comprises 13 magnets which will be very familiar to anyone who has used the photo editing software as they replicate the menus and tool bars found in the popular Adobe product.

Cost: $25.00

5. A Red Swingline Stapler

As any fashion-lover will know, it’s all about the accessories. In this case, the essential office accessory is the Red Swingline Stapler. Launched in 2002 after strong customer demand generated by the stapler’s appearance in geek cult classic Office Space, the desk tool will elicit knowing approval from fans of the film. Just be sure to hide it when Lumberg’s around.

Cost: $32.48 (on sale at the time of writing for $21.99)

6. Recycled Mac Clocks

What’s the time? It’s geek o’ clock with these recycled Mac clocks offered by Etsy seller Pixelthis. The version pictured ($59) is the side panel of a retired Mac G4, upcycled into a working wall clock. There’s a whole selection over on Pixelthis’ Etsy shop, while commissions and customization of anything you want to send in to get the timepiece treatment are offered too, with price by negotiation.

Cost: Varies

7. Pantone Mugs

Don’t put up with boring chinaware, or worse still, ugly corporate freebie mugs. These officially licensed mugs from Pantone will delight anyone with an eye for color, or even a passing interest in design. The espresso set offers appropriate shades of coffee brown, whilst the more colorful set provides 10 shades — all marked with their Pantone reference, of course.

Cost: $50 and $120

8. Google Bean Bag

By all accounts, the Googleplex is a place of wonder. You can emulate a little bit of that magic with the Google Bean Bag — the very same kind gracing the Googleplex. Who knows what kind of gProducts have been thought up while someone’s posterior was placed on one of these things? Inspirational, indeed.

Cost: $109.40

9. Orbiculus from Art Lebedev

The Art Lebedev Studio has transformed “Cancel,” “Play,” “Save,” “OK,” and other commands into real-life objects with a useful function — the thumbtack. You can opt for the mixed set, or if you’re feeling particularly positive, go for the “Everything Is OK” set which is made up, as you might have already guessed, of just the “OK” pins. We simply can’t think of a better way to secure items to a bulletin board.

Cost: Approx $6

10. Blik Wall Decals

Blik offers a way to geek up your blank walls that is ideal for the commitment-phobe: Vinyl decals that can be peeled off it you get bored of them, or if your office landlord has a tizzy when he/she sees them. There are a few designs available that will turn your wall into a scene from a Super Marios Bros. game, or the classic Space Invaders. There are some pretty cool robots, too.

Cost: Varies

More gift guide resources from Mashable:

- 5 Must-Have Geek Collectibles
Twitter Gift Guide: 15 Ways to Shop for the Twitter Obsessed
Mac Gift Guide: 10 Buying Ideas for Apple Fans
10 Great Digital Gifts for Social Media Lovers
10 Romantic Gifts for Your Beloved Geek

Tags: design, geek, gift guide, Google, iphone, List, Lists, office, shopping, shopping list, trending

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Top 10 Geekiest Decorations for Your Home or Office [PICS]

The iPad Poses a Threat to Kindle’s Market Share [STATS]

Independent research boutique ChangeWave surveyed 3,171 consumers and found that consumer pre-launch interest in the iPad is high.

Data demonstrates that consumers are more interested in purchasing an iPad than they were the iPhone prior to launch. Also, 27% of existing e-reader owners indicated they would have purchased the iPad over the model they own now.

The study — which was conducted after the iPad announcement — also shows that 40% of respondents in the market to purchase an e-reader in the next 90 days say they will buy an iPad.

That number is quite remarkable on its own, but when compared against the respondents who indicated preferences for the Kindle (28%), Nook (6%), and Sony Reader (1%) the bigger picture starts to become clear. If these numbers are reflective of the larger population, Apple is most certainly a threat to Amazon and the e-book/e-reader industry as a whole.

Some other interesting highlights from the ChangeWave study include:

- Prospective iPad buyers are likely to wait a few months before they make their purchase. 20% will buy two to three months after release, 23% four to six months after release, and 19% seven to 12 months after release.

- 68% of prospective iPad owners are most interested in using the iPad to surf the internet.

- 25% of consumers buying iPads may cut back on previous plans to purchase other Apple products. 10% are putting their iPhone purchase plans on hold, while 9% are saying they may not buy the laptop or iPod they had previously planned to.

Given that the iPad launch date is just a few weeks away, we should soon be able to tell how accurate some of these findings are and whether or not the iPad will put a significant dent into Amazon Kindle sales.

[via TUAW]

Tags: amazon kindle, Apple iPad, Apple Tablet, ereaders, Kindle, stats

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Hobbyists Build Google Android-Powered Robot [VIDEO]

Enterprising hobbyists Tim Heath and Ryan Hickman have created cellbots — with names like Tankbot and Truckbot — that are simply robots powered by Android devices.

With just $30, an Android device, and a little creativity the pair were able to create the cellbots which process commands via telnet on PCs. The bots can move around in specified directions thanks to the built-in compass functionally on certain Android phones.

While actual robot activity is minimal, the focus of the project was to utilize Android phones as the brains of the robots. The pair hope to expand robot functionality and make the most of Android’s software. Wired speculates that:

“This means they could utilize every hardware and software component of an Android phone, programming the bot to avoid obstacles, recognize faces and voices, pinpoint its location and go places.”

Heath and Hickman have documented the entire project on their cellbots website, which means that with the right know-how you too could create your own Android-powered robot.

Watch a video of the robots with Android intelligence below:

Tags: android, cellbots, robots

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Hobbyists Build Google Android-Powered Robot [VIDEO]

Steve Jobs: iPad Won’t Support iPhone Tethering

Not one to mince words, Steve Jobs squashed all hope of the iPad supporting iPhone tethering for wireless internet access with one word — “No.”

The succinct answer was communicated by Jobs via email (from his iPhone) to Jezper Söderlund of Sweden who emailed Jobs to ask, “Will the wifi-only version somehow support tethering thru my iPhone?”

9to5Mac has both emails in question, along with email header information, and all indications point to the one word buzz-kill response being legit. You can read the text of the email inquiry and Jobs’ response below:

Söderlund’s email:

I’ll keep it short.

I’m Jezper from Sweden, a long time Apple fan, currently about to replace the very last computer at home with a brand spanking new iMac i7. I’m also awaiting the release of the iPad. However, I have one question:

Will the wifi-only version somehow support tethering thru my iPhone?

Two devices, based on the same OS, with already built-in technology to share one data plan suggests a secondary contract could possibly be redundant.

From the look of your keynote, where the iPad sits well between my MacBook Pro and my iPhone, I was hoping the three of them could interact as seamless as possible.

All the best,
Jezper Söderlund[a famous DJ in his own right]

Jobs’ response:


Sent from my iPhone

The bottom line is that those of you who were hoping to buy the cheaper WiFi version of the iPad and tether your iPhone for 3G Internet access (and avoid the additional 3G hardware costs and AT&T subscription plan) are out of luck.

From a consumer perspective, the news is quite disappointing. One would hope that the costly iPhone data plan would be applicable to the iPad. The idea of paying a per device monthly wireless Internet fee is one that won’t sit well with most consumers. The decision doesn’t exactly come as a surprise though. We already know that AT&T is facing network challenges, which they blame on heavy iPhone users, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to encourage or support additional bandwidth without additional fees.

Tags: Apple iPad, Apple Tablet, att, iphone tethering, steve jobs

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Gowalla Launches for Android

The battle for social geolocation domination has expanded to Google’s Android platform, as Gowalla, the primary competitor to Foursquare, has just made its debut on Google’s Android app store.

The new Gowalla 1.0 app isn’t some secondhand version of its iPhone counterpart — it’s completely packed with an array of features that allow you to check into locations, view friends, access details about specific locations, and check out your progress completion for trips (a Gowalla feature that lets you earn badges by checking into a set of locations).

Essentially, the app is divided into four sections: Activity (a feed of your friend’s activity stream), Spots (where you find nearby locations to check into), Trips (explained above), and Passport (your personal profile and list of achievements). Each section drills deeper, allowing you to add friends, view maps of specific locations (along with the number of check-ins and people there), or complete a trip.

Here’s the gist of it: Gowalla for Android, from first impressions, is well-designed and has many of the features of its iPhone counterpart, though as Android and Me points out, you can’t create a location within the app quite yet.

It needed to be slick and feature-rich to compete with Foursquare’s Android app (which I think in many ways is superior to its iPhone version). Whether it succeeded…well, that’ll take some time. Gowalla users, be sure to tell us what you think about the app in the comments.

Now here are a few screenshots, courtesy of Android and Me. You can check out a full gallery there.

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Gowalla Launches for Android

Xbox LIVE Beats PlayStation Network in Reader Vote

We had a very hotly contested matchup this week in our long-running Faceoff series, with Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE going up against Sony’s PlayStation Network for favorite online console gaming service. After an astounding 35,055 votes we’re ready to declare the winner…

… and Xbox LIVE takes the win! They’ll obviously get an achievement rather than a trophy for this victory. Just a day or so ago the polls were holding steadily even so it was definitely in the home stretch here that XBLA pulled ahead. The final tally reads 19,858 for Xbox LIVE (57%) and 14,258 for PSN (41%), with a surprisingly small tie vote of only 939 (3%).

Thanks to everyone who voted this week! Were you disappointed with the results? Sound off in the comments!

Who would win in a fight: Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network?opinion

Faceoff Series: Overall Results

Week 1:
Mozilla Firefox vs. Google Chrome
WINNER: Firefox, 4600 votes (Chrome: 3310 votes, Tie: 911 votes)

Week 2:
Tumblr vs. Posterous
WINNER: Tumblr, 1809 votes (Posterous: 1496 votes, Tie: 256 votes)

Week 3:
Pandora vs. Last.fm
WINNER: Last.fm, 1187 votes (Pandora: 1156 votes, Tie: 122 votes)

Week 4:
Twitter vs. Facebook
WINNER: Facebook, 2484 votes (Twitter: 2061 votes, Tie: 588 votes)

Week 5:
WordPress vs. Typepad
WINNER: WordPress, 2714 votes (Typepad: 267 votes, Tie: 357 votes)

Week 6:
Windows 7 vs. Snow Leopard
WINNER: Windows 7, 3632 votes (Snow Leopard: 3278 votes, Tie: 121 votes)

Week 7:
TweetDeck vs. Seesmic Desktop
WINNER: TweetDeck, 3294 votes (Seesmic Desktop: 1055 votes, Tie: 260 votes)

Week 8:
Microsoft Office vs. Google Docs
WINNER: Microsoft Office, 1365 votes (Google Docs: 994 votes, Tie: 315 votes)

Week 9:
Apple iPhone vs. Google Android
WINNER: Google Android, 3323 votes (Apple iPhone: 1494 votes, Tie: 228 votes)

Week 10:
AT&T vs. Verizon
WINNER: Verizon, 1161 votes (AT&T: 538 votes, Tie: 118 votes)

Week 11:
Google vs. Bing
WINNER: Google, 2180 votes (Bing: 519 votes, Tie: 97 votes)

Week 12:
iPod Touch/iPhone vs. Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP
WINNER: iPod Touch/iPhone, 704 votes (Sony PSP: 639 votes, Nintendo DS: 482 votes, Tie: 108 votes)

Week 13:
Digg vs. Reddit vs. StumbleUpon
WINNER: Digg, 14,762 votes (Reddit: 11,466 votes, StumbleUpon: 2507 votes, Tie: 1032 votes)

Week 14:
Old versus new Twitter retweets
WINNER: Old style retweets, 1625 votes (New style retweets: 699 votes, Tie: 227 votes)

Week 15:
Gmail vs. Outlook
WINNER: Gmail, 3684 votes (Outlook: 980 votes, Tie: 590 votes)

Week 16:
Boxee vs. Hulu
WINNER: Hulu, 626 votes (Boxee: 591 votes, Tie: 106 votes)

Week 17:
Nexus One vs. iPhone 3GS
WINNER: Nexus One, 6743 votes (iPhone 3GS: 2818 votes, Tie: 592 votes)

Week 18:
Foursquare vs. Yelp vs. Gowalla
WINNER: Foursquare, 1182 votes, (Yelp: 661 votes, Gowalla: 509 votes, Tie: 143 votes)

Week 19:
AIM vs. GTalk vs. FbChat
WINNER: GTalk, 2189 votes, (AIM: 1257 votes, FbChat: 511 votes, Tie: 203 votes)

Week 20:
Music Ownership vs. Music Subscription
WINNER: Ownership, 533 votes (Subscription: 299 votes, Tie: 237)

Week 21:
Match.com vs. PlentyofFish
WINNER: Plenty of Fish, 430 votes (Match.com: 334 votes, Tie: 187 votes)

Week 21:
Google Buzz vs. Facebook Vs. Twitter
WINNER: Facebook, 3353 votes (Twitter: 1828 votes, Google Buzz: 1298 votes, Tie: 651 votes)

Week 22:
HTML5 vs. Adobe Flash
WINNER: HTML5, 3892 votes (Adobe Flash: 1779 votes, Tie: 660 votes)

Tags: gaming, microsoft, playstation, playstation network, polls, PSN, sony, video games, web faceoff, xbla, xbox, XBox live

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Xbox LIVE Beats PlayStation Network in Reader Vote

TextMarks Makes Sending Mass Text Messages Easy

This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.

Name: TextMarks

Quick Pitch: TextMarks group text messaging services turn any mobile phone into a powerful marketing tool.

Genius Idea: TextMarks makes it easy to create SMS marketing campaigns by letting users send a text message with a custom keyword of your choice to 41411. You can also use TextMarks auto-post service to send out SMS messages to subscribers and also update Facebook and Twitter.

As the Red Cross’s efforts in raising money for Haiti proved, text messages can be a powerful way to engage others and to spread information. It’s not just about joke-of-the-day subscriptions or other nonsense that you see at 2AM on TV — real money and real causes can be publicized through text.

TextMarks is a service that makes it really easy to set-up a mobile campaign to broadcast messages or updates to users that opt-in to your service by first texting a keyword.

What we like about TextMarks is that the service is easy to set-up and affordable. You can try out the service for free and send unlimited ad-supported messages each month, and ad-free plans start at $9.95 a month. For small businesses or small groups like churches or clubs, that’s a really nice option.

We also like that you can update Twitter and Facebook with the same messages you send out to other users. That way, if you’re using messages to keep people updated with scheduling information or other time-sensitive info, the message can go out across all of your social channels.

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is 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.

Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the Azure Services platform for their website hosting and storage needs. Microsoft recently announced the “new CloudApp()” contest – use the Azure Services Platform for hosting your .NET or PHP app, and you could be the lucky winner of a USD 5000* (please see website for official rules and guidelines).”

Tags: sms messages, text messages, TextMarks

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TextMarks Makes Sending Mass Text Messages Easy

New Version of Foursquare for iPhone Coming Soon [SCREENSHOTS]

A new version of Foursquare for the iPhone is on the way and it will feature a revamped interface, a brand new user tab, and a new checkin history view.

This version of the app – v1.6 – should be heading to the App Store soon. Nick Starr shared screenshots of it with us and we’ve included a few below so that you can see some of the new features.

Looking at the images from Foursquare 1.6, the first thing you’ll notice is that the interface has been totally revamped. The colors, icons and menu layout are all completely restyled and rearranged in a much more appealing manner.

For instance, check out the new Shout and User Profile pages. They look almost indistinguishable from their current iPhone counterparts:

There are also a few new features. For instance, users have a profile screen that contains checkin history and friends that is accessible directly from the menu at the bottom of the app.

Friends’ Checkins also now have a pull-down to refresh mechanism, that harkens back to Tweetie 2.0 for the iPhone.

Friends info pages have also been completely redesigned and friend-by-friend ping control is much more attractive.

All in all, just looking at the screenshots is making us drool. We’re not sure when this release will actually hit the App Store, but we wouldn’t bet against a SXSW release.

Update: OK, we think we’ve figured out what happened. For a few minutes earlier today, 1.6 was available via the App Store. The update was pushed out too early and Foursquare has since pulled the app. The company confirmed on Twitter that this was a little “pre-release hiccup,” adding that the app will be released “next week.” So next week boys and girls, next week!

What do you think of the new look? Let us know!

Tags: foursquare, foursquare 1.6, iphone, iphone apps

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New Version of Foursquare for iPhone Coming Soon [SCREENSHOTS]

Major Facebook Investor Hopes to Score with Chatroulette

Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian venture capital firm that has invested $400 million in Facebook, has apparently made an offer to buy a piece of Chatroulette, the webcam network where you can chat with random strangers.

According to Spiegel Online, DST made an offer to 17-year-old Andrey Ternovskiy to buy a piece of his booming website. He has yet to say yes though, as he is traveling to the U.S. to speak with American venture capitalists before taking any investment.

Multiple venture capitalists have apparently expressed interest in Chatroulette, which has more than 1.5 million visitors per day and a reputation for, well, extraordinary amounts of male exhibitionism. Some of the potential investors may include Google, Union Square Ventures and Skype.

Look, we understand why people would want to invest in Chatroulette: It’s hot, it’s fast-growing and it’s taken the web by storm. However, as we argued in an article earlier today, we believe that Chatroulette is unlikely to be the next Twitter — its primary functions are novelty and shock factor, not utility.

Unless Mr. Ternovskiy has a plan to turn the site into a legitimate business (with the male genitalia completely removed), we have a tough time seeing Chatroulette as a smart investment.

Do you agree? Would you invest in Chatroulette? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: business, chatroulete, facebook, social media, twitter

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Major Facebook Investor Hopes to Score with Chatroulette

Google’s App Store for Business to Launch Next Week

Google is set to launch an app store for business next week, Mashable has learned from sources close to the company. It will be focused around creating software for Google Apps and could launch as soon as Tuesday.

Early last month, news leaked about Google working on its own app store that would give third-party apps and developers the opportunity to sell their software to customers of Google Apps. This included options for increasing security, word-processing and information porting/syncing.

When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson told us, “We’re constantly working with our partners to deliver more solutions to businesses, but we have nothing to announce at this time.”

Nonetheless, we’re fairly confident that you will see Google’s app store officially announced next week — consistent with The Wall Street Journal’s report last month that suggested a March launch date. It looks to be another strong by move by Google to compete with Microsoft in the enterprise, with its own version of Office and the rich ecosystem that surrounds it, but entirely in the cloud.

Who exactly will launch with the app store next week and how it’ll work, we’ll soon find out.

Tags: business, EXCLUSIVE, Google, google apps

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Google Acquires Microsoft Office Collaboration Tool DocVerse

Google has just announced the acquisition of DocVerse, a startup that adds Google Docs-like functionality to Microsoft Office.

In a blog post, Google explains “we recognize that many people are still accustomed to desktop software. So as we continue to improve Google Docs and Google Sites as rich collaboration tools, we’re also making it easier for people to transition to the cloud, and interoperate with desktop applications like Microsoft Office.” That’s exactly what DocVerse will help them do — as we described in our review of the service back in November.

From our review:

“You can invite friends and colleagues to collaborate on any documents. As you and others make edits, those changes are synced to the cloud. In addition to a hard copy, the plug-in automatically saves a web-based version of the doc that others can see to make collaboration easy.

It’s not just the instant collaboration though – there are also some great discussion and tracking features via the DocVerse sidebar. One allows you to IM anybody collaborating on the document in question. Another lets you track the most recent changes and by whom they were made. Finally, the version history tab lets you see a larger overview of the history of the document.”

Tags: docverse, Google, google docs, microsoft office

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Google Acquires Microsoft Office Collaboration Tool DocVerse

Brush Up on Oscar Trivia with Wolfram Alpha

Computational knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha can help resolve any Oscar-themed squabbles that may come up on Sunday, or so it claims. Apparently, it can answer questions about every Oscar nomination and award since the first ceremony in 1929.

The Mathematica engine can solve any quandary — whether you’re interested in just how many times Meryl Streep has been nominated (a lot) or how many statues Titanic collected (also a lot).

As always with Wolfram Alpha, how you input the query will affect results. For example, “best actor Oscars” will garner you a historical list of all winners, while “best actor in 2004″ will bring you a whole host of relevant data about the winner, nominees, films, etc.

In addition to the info from direct searches, Wolfram Alpha will now also show Academy Award data within relevant results. So it will tell you how many Oscars an actor has won if you search by name, or will note any nominations within the data about a particular film.

It seems the only thing Wolfram Alpha won’t be able to do is tell who the winners will be this time around. However, you can ascertain that knowledge youself with Mashable’s guide to the Oscars red carpet livestreams.

Tags: academy awards, Oscars, wolfram alpha

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Brush Up on Oscar Trivia with Wolfram Alpha

How Companies are Using Social Media to Make Better Decisions

business network imageMat Fogarty is the Founder and CEO of Crowdcast, a leading provider of collective intelligence and prediction market solutions.  You can read more of Mat’s posts on the Crowdcast blog or follow @crowdcastinc.

Collaboration and crowdsourcing are the realities of today’s public Internet, and the trend is now gaining real traction in the workplace.  Smart companies increasingly understand that their richest source of insight, ideas, data, and information is within their own employees. They are the ones whose talent, work, and daily interactions with the product make the business what it is.

Just as so many of us look to the Yelp community to figure out where to make our dinner reservations, companies are increasingly looking to the employee crowd for the knowledge and insight to make better business decisions.

Enterprise Social Networks

salesforce chatter image

“If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” – Lew Platt, Former CEO of HP

As the social enterprise builds momentum, the big question is: How will companies effectively tap the employee crowd to become more productive?  

Enterprise social networks arm companies with social media functionality, allowing them to collaborate with their employees around up-to-the-minute information. Late last year, Salesforce stirred up some buzz around enterprise social networking with the announcement of its Chatter Collaboration Platform.  Currently in beta, Chatter aims to bring together elements of Facebook, Twitter and other real-time services. By integrating profiles, feeds and groups across its platform, Salesforce offers its end users the same functionality they already use to share ideas and information on public social networks. 

While social networking functionality excels at connecting teams around projects, information, and qualitative data, it falls short in its ability to drive quantitative, actionable insights — the holy grail for project managers and enterprise forecasting groups.

Prediction Markets

Prediction markets are all about tapping the crowd to source hard, unbiased quantitative metrics about the future of projects and business initiatives.  A prediction market works like a stock market of sorts, allowing employees to anonymously place “bets” on key forecasts: When will the product really ship? How much will we sell in Q1? Will our competitor enter the market in 2010? And so forth.

Business leaders rely on metrics and data to inform decisions around new products and opportunities, but traditional forecasting methods suffer from bias and lack of first-hand information. That’s why business forecasting is an ideal target for the application of crowd wisdom.  While bets are made anonymously, some prediction market software applications have built-in reward systems for accurate forecasters. And the accuracy of prediction markets over traditional forecasting methods is proven again and again.  

Crowdsourcing the Next Big Idea

My Starbucks Idea Image

There’s a good chance that a company’s next big idea could be hidden within the people who are most engaged with its product and brand. More companies are turning to the crowd for ideas on all aspects of their business by creating online public forums. In 2008, Starbucks launched a major initiative to enhance their services with a website called My Starbucks Idea that polls members on decisions that would most directly impact them.

This kind of innovation sourcing applies to the enterprise as well.  Companies like Brightidea and InnoCentive are helping their customers tap resources to inspire, gather, and manage ideas and innovation from within their employee ranks. 

The Future

As collaborative technologies gain traction, the future of enterprise will include internal social networks, prediction markets, and idea management platforms.  In this vision, social networks will be the default location for a collaborative employee community. Think of it as a wide and deep pool of employee knowledge and ideas.

Prediction markets will then aggregate this knowledge to produce actionable, people-powered forecasts. The result is an ultra-rich information source that will lay the foundation for smarter, better-informed company decisions. We are already seeing the first movement towards this integrated vision with products like 12sprints from SAP.

The ability to manage and profit from employee knowledge through social networks, idea funnels, and prediction markets will be the defining competitive advantage for this decade.  Employees will have a voice and enterprises will truly leverage their most valuable assets.

More business resources from Mashable:

- 3 Crisis Survival Lessons for the Social Media Age
5 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Personal Brand Online
4 Elements of a Successful Business Web Presence
HOW TO: Implement a Social Media Business Strategy
Google Buzz: 5 Opportunities for Small Businesses

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alexsl

Tags: business, crowdsourcing, enterprise, facebook, small business, social media, social networks, twitter

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How Companies are Using Social Media to Make Better Decisions

Shorty Awards Honor Twitter’s Finest Micro-Bloggers

The second annual Shorty Awards ceremony went down this week in New York City, honoring the community-nominated and voted on best of the best from Twitter.

Awards were given in 26 official categories as well as a huge selection of crowdsourced community categories. The Twitter community was invited to contribute nominations beginning this January, with the intent of recognizing a user’s overall Twitter stream as opposed to particular tweets. Popularity determined a set of finalists in each category, which were then also reviewed by a panel of judges from the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences.

The winners, who gave 140-character acceptance speeches at Wednesday night’s ceremony, included Betty Draper (the popular fan-run account for the Mad Men character), Whole Foods in the brand category, Nathan Fillion in the celebrity category, and more.

Did you participate in the Shorty Awards this year? Did any of your favorites becomes finalists or winners?

Tags: shorty awards, twitter

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Microsoft Allows Xbox LIVE Users to Express Sexual Orientation

Microsoft has announced that it has changed a controversial policy for its Xbox LIVE service that banned people from expressing their sexual orientation in their user profiles.

Said to have been originally put in place to prevent the use of such terms “as insults or slurs”, it was a step too far for many, including Richard Gaywood, a gamer who was banned from the service.

However, an update to the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct will now allow members to, in Microsoft’s words, “more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles”.

As far as sexual orientation goes, users can now describe themselves as “Lesbian,” “Gay,” “Bi,” “Transgender” or “Straight.” Microsoft says the changes are being introduced alongside increased enforcement to prevent the misuse of such terms.

Stephen Toulouse, the director of policy and enforcement for Xbox LIVE, has tweeted his thanks to GLAAD and Microsoft’s LGBT community for guidance.

How does this affect you? Are you pleased with the changes? Will you be making changes to your Gamertag now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Tags: gaming, microsoft, social gaming network, XBox live

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Microsoft Allows Xbox LIVE Users to Express Sexual Orientation

Why I’m Banking on Facebook

cnnopinionA new Facebook app launched this week that lets you send small sums of money to friends – the London-based company allows payments to be sent in US dollars or Euros.

Beyond sharing links, photos, videos and status updates, is the exchange of real money a logical next step for Facebook users?

What about Facebook Credits, and the popularity of buying virtual goods within games like FarmVille — do those indicate Facebook’s potential to become a leading online payments provider?

That’s the topic of my CNN column this week.

Check out the column at CNN.com >>

Tags: cashmore, cnn, facebook, payments, pete cashmore

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YouTube Revenue Approaching $1 Billion Per Year [REPORT]

YouTube may be closing in on $1 billion in annual revenue according to some new research performed by a Wall Street analyst.

Using MySpace’s estimated CPMs and YouTube’s estimated page views, Mark Mahaney of Citigroup calculates that Google’s video site generated $727 million in revenue for 2009, and will pull in $945 million in 2010.

The research, published earlier today by AllThingsD, uses the simple assumption that YouTube’s traffic and monetization efforts will continue to expand – trends that are readily apparent in recent headlines about the company.

What’s interesting is that the revenue estimate varies greatly from one that was widely circulated last year, when Credit Suisse projected that YouTube would bring in only $240 million in revenue for 2009. That report also pegged YouTube’s expenses at $711 million per year, in turn creating a $471 million loss for Google.

While Citi’s report doesn’t touch on the expenses side of the equation, it’s much higher revenue assumption (which is in-line with other recent research) adds some meat to Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s recent comments that suggest YouTube might turn a profit this year.

So, maybe Google did overpay for YouTube by around $1 billion by 2006 standards – something only them and a handful of other companies had the resources to do. But now, the company may be close to starting to make some of it back, while at the same time enjoying an enormous lead in the now many times larger online video market.

Tags: Google, youtube

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YouTube Revenue Approaching $1 Billion Per Year [REPORT]

Apple iPad Coming to U.S. on April 3

Apple finally announced the exact date of iPad availability in the U.S.: It’s Saturday, April 3, for Wi-Fi models, while models with both Wi-Fi and 3G will be available in late April.

As far as other countries go, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering your iPad, you can do it from March 12 onwards; U.S. customers can pre-order both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple’s online store or reserve a Wi-Fi model to pick up on Saturday, April 3, at an Apple retail store.

Pricing and availability are the same as announced: Wi-Fi models will be available for a suggested retail price of $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB and $829 for 64GB.

Tags: apple, ipad, trending

Apple iPad Coming to U.S. on April 3

Wi-Fi Stumblers Disappear from Apple App Store

We wrote repeatedly about Apple’s odd and often unfair application approval process. Instead of fixing it, Apple is just getting weirder and weirder about what apps are allowed in the store. The latest example is the sudden disappearance of several Wi-Fi stumbler applications from the app store.

Cult of Mac noticed that Apple has removed apps such as WiFi-Where, WiFiFoFum and yFy Network Finder. These apps scan Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity, which is not very different from simply going to the Wi-Fi Networks menu on your iPhone.

However, according to a post on WiFi-Where creator’s website, the app was removed from the App Store for “using private frameworks to access wireless information.”

The odd thing about this is the fact that some of these apps have been available in the App Store for years. Removing them now will make iPhone app developers even more uncertain about the future of their apps, as it seems they can be arbitrarily removed at any time, for vague reasons.

Tags: apple, application, iphone, stumbler, wi-fi

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Wi-Fi Stumblers Disappear from Apple App Store