viernes, 31 de enero de 2014

Amercia the Meme: Why Romney’s Gaffe Won’t Die [PICS]

Mitt Romney's digital team debuted "With Mitt," an app that lets supporters share their support for the Republican presidential hopeful, on Tuesday. At first, the app received little fanfare.

By Tuesday night, however, the app's users had drawn attention to one glaring mistake: one of the 14 text overlays available within the app stated that Romney is for "A Better Amercia." Yes, you read that right: "Amercia."

Romney's digital team has already updated the app, but it is also learning a harsh lesson. On the Internet, nothing really ever goes away.

Not only was the term "Amercia" trending on Twitter in the U.S. Wednesday, but a viral Tumblr called Amercia Is With Mitt! was born. We've put several highlights from the Tumblr in the gallery above.

Have another great one? Submit it below, and we may add it to our highlights. You can also tweet your photo to @MashableHQ with the hashtag #Amercia.

At Y Combinator’s Biggest Demo Day Yet, Mobile Is Taking Over

There are plenty of observations to be made about Y Combinator's Demo Day. It's the biggest ever, with 66 companies in this Winter class. It's more diverse than past years, with many companies being led by women and people of color. And the audience, packed in at the Computer History Museum, is about as high-quality as you get at these sorts of things. It's full of Silicon Valley elite, plus other investors and executives who have flown in from around the country and the world.

But the thing that is sticking out the most is the nature of the products being launched. Out of the 39 companies presenting on the record today, 15 are mobile-first by my count.

This shouldn't be surprising, I suppose. Study after study is showing that feature phones, iPhones and Androids combine to reach millions more people than the web. And lots of top technologists are declaring that the companies of the future are going to be mobile before they hit the web.

Still, Y Combinator began in 2005, before smartphones were mainstream. The seed-stage firm helped pioneer the idea of the ambitious online startup done on the cheap. I know, I was there in 2007 and my class was almost entirely in that category. And, to date, most of its best-known companies have been web-centric — from Reddit to Dropbox to AirBnb.

The shift so visible today has been building over the last couple of years; before, there were only a few outliers, like recently-acquired location company Loopt. Partner Harj Taggar says startups like note-syncing startup Simplenote helped kick off the trend back in 2010. The Android explosion, he says, has made the mobile focus particularly attractive.

The companies today are also noticeably practical — these are not just games and simple utilities. PlanGrid is providing blueprints to construction sites via iPads, and is starting to blow up since launching at the beginning of the month. Medigram is a HIPAA-compliant messaging app for hospitals. It hopes to one day connect all vital medical information via devices to doctors making split-second decisions that can save lives.

I suspect the next few classes of YC companies are going to be even more about mobile. Maybe the next one will pass the 50% mark? And with that, here are the 15 mobile-centric companies, in order of stage appearance today. Some haven't presented yet, so I'll update the list with any clarifications as I get a closer look at them.

Plangrid — blueprints on tablets
Medigram — chat for doctors
Popset — group photo albums
SendHub — SMS for organizations
Lvl6 — social mobile games
Midnox — video camera app + hosting
Sonalight — voice texting (while driving)
Flypad — smartphone as game controller
TiKL — walkie-talkie app
Kyte — kid phone in software
Pair — messaging for couples
Per Vices — software-defined radio
iCracked — tablet repair network
Socialcam — video sharing
Exec — Uber for work

Our coverage today:

Dark Matter Eludes Scientists in First Results From Super-Sensitive Detector

A new experiment buried deep underground has proven itself to be the most sensitive dark-matter detector ever built. But the first results from the high-tech instrument have turned up empty in its search for elusive dark matter, scientists announced Wednesday.

Housed one mile underground in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment's sensitivity makes it better at seeking out dark matter than any other detectors built for that purpose, LUX officials said. Although the powerful dark matter detector has just completed its first run, LUX has not yet found conclusive evidence of the elusive substance.

"The universe's mysterious dark sector presents us with two of the most thrilling challenges in all of physics," Saul Perlmutter, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics, said in a statement. "We call it the dark sector precisely because we don't know what accounts for most of the energy and mass in the universe. Dark energy is one challenge, and as for the other, the LUX experiment's first data now take the lead in the hunt for the dark-matter component of the dark sector."

Scientists think that dark matter makes up the majority of the matter in the universe; however, it cannot be seen or touched. Astronomers detect dark matter because they have seen its gravitational pull on galaxies and stars.

By running experiments like LUX far underground, scientists hope to shield the dark-matter detector from everything but WIMPs — weakly interacting massive particles that are thought to be the leading candidates for the particles that make up dark matter.

"LUX is the quietest place verified in the world," Rick Gaitskell, a Brown University physicist, said during a seminar Wednesday. "That's how far we've had to go in order to be in a position to look for these WIMPs."

LUX is particularly adept at searching for low-mass WIMPs, which are predicted by some theoretical physics models. WIMPS are extremely difficult to find because they rarely interact with ordinary matter, except through gravity, LUX officials said.

Scientists think WIMPs can be both low-mass and high-mass, and LUX has an enhanced sensitivity to low-mass WIMPs. The dark-matter detector recently completed its first data-collecting research run.

Through the course of the approximately three-month WIMP search, scientists did not find signals of WIMPs, although previous experiments with other detectors predicted they would.

"Three candidate WIMP events recently reported in ultracold silicon detectors, however, would have produced more than 1,600 events in LUX's much larger detector, or one every 80 minutes in the recent run," LUX officials said in a statement. "No such signals were seen."

LUX houses a 6-foot-tall titanium tank filled with liquid xenon and cooled to minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The xenon tank is surrounded by rock and a tank of water.

If a WIMP comes into contact with a xenon atom, it will emit light and electrons. The electrons are pulled upward and release more photons. By recording both the photons at the collision point and at the top of the tank, the detector is able to pinpoint the locations of the photon signals and measure their brightness.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: European Southern Observatory

This article originally published at here

'Non-Stop' Trailer Puts Liam Neeson on Deadly Nightmare Flight

Liam Neeson's day goes from bad to worse in the movie trailer for Non-Stop. Neeson plays Bill Marks, an air marshal who hates flying. A normal day on the job turns into hell on Earth — or rather, above Earth — when an anonymous terrorist threatens to kill one person aboard their plane every 20 minutes until the killer gets $150 million.

The plot thickens when Marks realizes that the terrorists are trying to pin the whole affair on his head. Marks must use his training as an air marshal to save the lives of the passengers, clear his name and take down the terrorists.

Neeson is accompanied by an acclaimed cast that includes Julianne Moore, a kind stranger on the plane; Michelle Dockery, a flight attendant; and Anson Mount, the mysterious Jack Hammond.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop will hit theaters Feb. 28, 2014.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: YouTube

10 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Lifetime Movies

Lifetime movies aren't just an under appreciated art form, they're an important educational tool. For more than 20 years these films have been imparting wisdom on their viewers, but with so many titles, it can be hard to collect all the tips they've offered.

If you have the time, Lifetime movies are best enjoyed in marathons over holiday weekends. But if you just need the advice as quickly as possible, we've collected 10 essential life lessons laid out by these small screen masterpieces over the years.

1. There's some kind of Hollywood law that states every young actress must make one Lifetime movie to have a successful career. There might be a blood ritual involved too.

Do you want to see a teenage Hilary Swank dressed in overalls slap the mom from Growing Pains? How about Grey's Anatomy star Lexi Grey in a Big Love dress? Lifetime movies provide all these images and more.

See Also: In the Best Interest of the Children, Gracie's Choice, Homeless to Harvard, To Be Fat Like Me

2. Your pre-teen daughter is in constant danger of becoming a sex-crazed maniac.

While Lifetime movies tend to focus on the exploits of a family's teenage daughter, the cute little sibling in the background is soaking up all the drama just biding her time.

See Also: Mom at Sixteen

3. Your health teacher probably has a secret that's conveniently relevant to your life.

Maybe she wants a baby, and you have a baby, or she's HIV positive, and you might be HIV positive. Either way there's going to be a lot of bonding between you two.

See Also: Mom at Sixteen

3. Teenagers aren't watching Lifetime movies.

The Pregnancy Pact is based on events that took place in 2008, meaning the girls involved could have seen classics like 15 and Pregnant and Mom at Sixteeen, which both show that having children in high school can be very problematic. The whole thing could have been avoided if kids today had a better appreciation of classic film.

See Also: Too Young to Be a Dad

4. Don't talk to anyone online ever.

That is not a hot girl, that is not a cute guy, stay away from the computer if you want to live.

See Also: Cyberstalker, The Craigslist Killer

5. It's not just the people online who are dangerous, the internet itself is life-ruining.

Unsuspecting teens like to experiment with the internet. They might start out with some gateway GIFs, but before you know it they're all sending naughty pictures.

6. If you become pregnant, eat right, take your vitamins and be very vigilant because everyone wants to steal your baby.

This intense fear of having your child snatched should continue through their college years.

See Also: Abducted: The Carlina White Story, When Andrew Came Home, My Baby is Missing

7. Your husband is not who you think he is (unless you think he's a murderer, and then you're probably right).

Seriously, a Google search is not enough anymore — extensive background checks should happen before you agree to the engagement.

See Also: Sleeping with the Devil, The Stranger Beside Me

8. Do thorough background checks on all surrogates.

Actually, they don't have to be that thorough. Just ask a few key questions like, "did you ever date my husband?"

See Also: Hush

9. High school is super dangerous

Your teen years aren't just mentally scarring, they can leave physical scars too.

See Also: Sexting in Suburbia

10. It's all about the title.

When you're giving something a title, whether it's a television movie or your garage band, it should make the hairs on your neck stand on end. Anyone who hears your title should be suddenly afraid for their life, though they're not sure why.

See Also: A Date with Darkness, Dying to Belong, My Neighbor's Secret

Homepage image courtesy of Flickr, stars alive

At Facebook Shareholder Meeting, Zuckerberg Stands Behind His Initial PRISM Denial

The PRISM story has progressed significantly since last week, when Mark Zuckerberg published Facebook's official response to the reports that it is among a group of tech companies that have been secretly cooperating with the United States government to provide user data. But at Facebook's annual shareholder meeting held today in Millbrae, California, Zuckerberg said the company continues to stand behind that initial statement.

"I wrote this statement last week that I published on Facebook that I think is basically the fullness of what we believe," Zuckerberg said in response to a shareholder's question about the general national security reports in the press. He went on to add more detail:

"We don't work directly with the NSA, or with any other program. Nor do we proactively give user information to anyone, nor has anyone approached us to do that."

He also reiterated his statement that no agency has "direct access" to Facebook's servers, and acknowledged that that phrase has led to questions as to whether that means that the company is providing some kind of indirect access to its data. "The reality is anyone can go to and get indirect access to our service," he said. "No agencies have direct access and can plug into our servers and get information… the process that government agencies go through if they want to get a warrant is similar to what police do in any court case, and we basically give the minimum amount of information" necessary to comply with any request, he said.

Of course, these statements don't come close to addressing the full spectrum of possibilities about what PRISM could actually be. And Google, for one, has stepped forward and issued an updated official statement today about the situation. After Zuckerberg and team return from the shareholder meeting (which included a very drawn-out Q&A session with an interesting batch of investors), perhaps they will take a more serious second look at updating their stance.

Facebook is the world's largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...

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Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook, which he started in his college dorm room in 2004 with roomates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Zuckerberg is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for the company. He leads the design of Facebook's service and development of its core technology and infrastructure. Mark studied computer science at Harvard University before moving the company to Palo Alto, California. Earlier in life, Zuckerberg developed a music recommendation system called...

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Lloyd's of London's Lucy Dawson on B2B and social media

Posted 02 November 2012 09:48am by Graham Charlton with 0 comments

Lucy Dawson is Digital Content Executive at Lloyd's of London, where she has led the 300-year-old insurance market's first forays into social media.

In her three years at Lloyd's she has driven forward several high profile digital projects -- including the launch of their current website and Lloyd's Facebook Timeline. 

Here, Lucy talks about her upcoming presentation at our FUNNEL B2B event, in which she looks at combining social media and content to develop longer lasting relationships. 


Choosing the right social media platform

Our social media tactics tend to focus on thought leadership and education... We felt it was important to follow the audience and not just go on any platform because other people were on there.

Our graduate and job-seeker audience were already on Facebook and we felt that was a really great place to target the audience to let them know more about what it's like working in the insurance industry. Twitter is for opinion formers so great for pushing out thought leadership. 

Who 'owns' social media? 

In terms of ownership, it's owned by corporate comms but we need to work very closely with the business to get their great, rich content up through the social media channels. We also work closely with IT and legal teams – the people you really want to have on board if something goes wrong or to help producing guidelines. 

The risks of social media

In terms of protection it's really about covering the risks that come from social media, and we actually feel it's riskier not to be in the space than to be in it. Because if you're not on these channels and understanding how they work, you're not able to pick up the buzz around your brand, either positively or negatively, you're not able to respond to comments that are perhaps factually untrue, and you're also not able to differentiate your brand, for example there may be people pertaining to be your brand.

There were quite a few Lloyd's Facebook pages when we joined the platform and people were thinking this was Lloyd's communication. So we wanted a platform where people could get the real message from our brand.

FUNNEL, Econsultancy's B2B marketing conference takes place at Emirates Stadium, 13 November 2012. FUNNEL was created to help bring together sales and marketing teams to define better ways of turning awareness into interest and interest into revenue – while tracking the entire cycle.

Find out how you can align your marketing and sales efforts at FUNNEL.

Multi variant testing

What is Multi variant testing?

Multi variant testing is a process by which any number of components of a webpage may be tested. In simple terms, it allows numerous A/B tests performed on one page at the same time. Multi variant testing can theoretically allow for limitless combinations of tests.

The only limit for the number of combinations – or the number of variables – is the amount of time it will take to get a valid sample of visitors.

What is A/B (Split Testing)?

A/B testing (also know as Split Testing) compares the effectiveness of two versions of a web page – in order to discover which has better response rate, better sales conversion rate, etc.

As an example, the purchase funnel on an e-commerce site is typically a good candidate. Any improvements in drop-off rates can represent additional sales.

Why would I want to do MVT?

Put simply, everyone wants more conversions! There is always a purpose of any website. Whether you're running a blog and wanting to get more subscriptions for your RSS feed, or you're running a multi-national worldwide e-commerce website aiming to increase sales – then you'll need to test your site. Constantly testing different aspects is the only way to stay one step ahead and increase conversions.

Steps to take when thinking about testing your site

Smashing Magazine have some interesting thoughts about Multivariate Testing which still stands true. They break it down into 5 steps.

  1. Identify a Challenge
  2. The Hypothesis
  3. A/B or Multivariate Testing?
  4. Running the Test and Analyzing Results
  5. Learn From the Test Results


The important thing to remember is the level of detail you need from your test. Is this a sweeping change – comparing one design for example with another – or is this a more granular test – checking the colour of your "add to basket" button.

Once you've done that, determine what influences conversion rate. Do your research. Collect stats. Don't just "guess".

Website test results don't always add up

So, you run a test. You see an uplift of 20% in conversion. You run another, potentially unrelated test. You get a 5% increase in conversion. So, you roll both tests out your customers, and you don't see a 25% increase in conversion. What went wrong?

There are lots of different reasons this can happen.

  • The changes may have affected the same group of people – You need to make sure that you run tests in isolation, or if you don't, make sure that you are aware that multiple tests may conflict with each other
  • Making other changes on the site – A/B tests only affect one page. If you're making other changes on the site at the same time as you're running tests, you're going to have a bad time
  • Merging changes from multiple tests. Imagine doing two tests. Test one, you test a blue background against a white background. Test two, you test a blue button against a white button. Blue wins both times. You wouldn't add a blue button on a blue background, would you?
  • Did you test tests enough? – When you're working with a very small number of visitors, the behaviour of even one user can drastically throw off your statistics
  • Your test was wrong – Check your test for bugs. Make sure that however you're testing, you've seen all the variations and there are no problems. As a test, run an A/A test and see if you get the results you expect

To find out more about Conversion Rate Optimisation for your website, please contact us.

BY Douglas Radburn AT 11:08am ON Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Doug is our Senior Web Developer, and all round development expert. Having gained some informative insight and technical experience at two major digital agencies after graduating; Doug brought his knowledge and skills to Branded3 in 2009, and has been solving our development dilemmas ever since.

Spotify Gets Hit With A Patent Suit From Nonend, A Dutch Peer-To-Peer IP Holder

The neverending patent wars keep on raging, and Spotify is the latest to get targeted in the social media skirmishes. The music streaming company is getting sued by Nonend Inventions, a Dutch company, which claims Spotify is infringing on five of its patents covering the areas of streaming media, peer-to-peer search, and retrieval and playback techniques. Nonend says altogether it holds more than 40 issued patents and patent applications in the areas of peer-to-peer networking and streaming technology. This is the first suit it has filed in defense of these.

The complaint, which we have embedded below, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, against Spotify Limited and affiliated companies, today. Nonend is demanding a jury trial in the case.

Nonend says it is targeting Spotify and not Pandora or others because Spotify is built on a P2P architecture, meaning that users actually get very little of Spotify's music from Spotify's servers (8.8% Nonend claims); relying instead a distributed model using other subscribers on the network.

"This feature makes the Spotify service faster, more efficient, and less costly to operate, and uses the technology at the heart of the Nonend Patents," the complaint says. Spotify, it notes, has three million U.S. subscribers who have shared over 27 million songs, and listened to over 13 billion songs.

We have asked Nonend's legal counsel if it plans to file suit against other P2P streaming companies as well. Nonend's counsel, Richard C. Vasquez of Vasquez Benisek & Lindgren LLP, notes that Nonend has not yet, but would be willing, to license the technology.

This is not the first time that Spotify has been sued over patents. Just two weeks after it launched in the U.S. in 2011 it was sued by PacketVideo, which alleges that Spotify's cloud-based music distribution architecture infringed on one of its patents. Spotify said at the time it would strongly contest that allegation.

Nor is it the first case of a social media patent suit. Facebook and Yahoo famously sparred over social media patents until they finally reached an amicable settlement. Facebook is currently suing Mitel Networks, and Mitel is suing Facebook, over different features on the social network.

Nonend Inventions describes itself as a "P2P and streaming technology innovator" but it doesn't appear to have productized any of those innovations itself. Vasquez notes that when the technology was first created and the patents filed in 2000 and 2001, the company did have the "goal of becoming a streaming Internet radio company."

Nonend's website is very brief on what its current activities are: "Due to business developments this website is limited," reads the homepage. It appears that all the patents in question at the moment (the exact phrase in the complaint is "include, but are not limited to") have been created or co-created by Marc van Oldenborgh, who describes himself as the owner/inventor at Nonend on his LinkedIn profile.

The specific patents cited in the suit are U.S. Patent No. 7,587,508 ("Multiple Source Receiver-Driven Streaming of Content Between Peers"), U.S. Patent No. 7,590,752 ("Playing Media Content on a Media Player while Streaming the Retrieved Parts of the Media Content to Other Devices"), U.S. Patent No. 7,779,138 ("Streaming Content Between Media Players Configured to Locate Each Other"), U.S. Patent No. 8,090,862 ("Initiating an Alternative Communication Channel for Receiving Streaming Content"), and U.S. Patent No. 8,099,513 ("Streaming Content from One or More Production Nodes or Media Player Systems").

"The Nonend Patents have been recognized as state-of-the-art, cited as prior art in at least twelve (12) U.S. patents issued to the likes of IBM, Samsung, and Sony," the complaint notes.

Financial damages are not specified in the complaint.

We are reaching out to Spotify for comment on this case and will update as we learn more.

Less than half of companies integrate mobile into marketing campaigns: stats

Posted 29 June 2012 12:34pm by Graham Charlton with 0 comments

Just 49% of companies have a strategy for integrating mobile into broader marketing activity, including 35% who say integration is very basic. 

This is one of the findings from Econsultancy's Cross-Channel Marketing Report 2012, carried out in association with Responsys

Though mobile has grown rapidly over the past few years, it seems that many companies are held back by organisational issues, while others may need to focus on tactics such as optimising email for mobile, rather than relying on QR codes. 

Integrating mobile into marketing campaigns

There is massive potential here, but 51% of company respondents are not integrating mobile into marketing campaigns at all. Agency respondents paint a slightly brighter picture, with 56% reporting that clients have some basic integration in place.

Does your organisation have a strategy for integrating mobile into its broader marketing campaigns (company respondents)?

Types of mobile advertising

As the chart below shows, mobile search marketing figures highly here though, such is the potential, that 35% is very low. Just over a quarter (27%) are using push notifications, while 25% use mobile display advertising. 

On the agency side, 42% say clients are using mobile search, compared to 41% for mobile display, and 37% for in-app ads. 

What types of mobile advertising is your company engaged in?

Using mobile channels for brand interaction

Though 50% of companies surveyed said they encourage customers to interact with their brand using QR codes, and 35% have created apps, there is less take-up of more basic (and proven) methods. 

For example, just 29% have a mobile commerce site, which makes you wonder what kind of landing pages all those QR codes are leading people to. 

Also, just 29% are optimising emails for mobile. Stats show that 41% of Europeans would close or delete an email not optimised for their device, so marketers are missing an opportunity here. 

In addition, companies like British Airways have run successful campaigns and achieved impressive results by tailoring emails to users' mobile devices. Perhaps a focus on this and mobile commerce, rather than the QR code, would achieve greater ROI. 

Which mobile channels do you use to encourage your customers to interact with your brand?

UK job moves: McCann London, Telefonica Digital, Tesco, PepsiCo

Posted 16 March 2012 11:55am by Vikki Chowney with 0 comments

Once again we compile the most senior, surprising and influential job moves in the UK.

This time we cover new creative direction for McCann London, a move from Google to Telefonica, a tense switchover at Tesco and a huge promotion at PepsiCo.


Bell Pottinger has made yet another senior media hire, bringing on board The Daily Mirror's business editor Clinton Manning. Former Marketing Week editor Mark Choueke also joined the firm just a few months ago as a director.

FutureBrand has appointed sister agency McCann London's head of planning Jon Tipple as its chief strategy officer for Europe.

Immediate Media, formed late last year on the back of the merger between BBC Magazies, Origin Publishing and Magicalia, has promoted Andy Healy to publishing director.

McCann London has appointed Wieden & Kennedy's Rob Doubal and Lolly Thomson as its executive creative directors.

PepsiCo has appointed John Compton as its first president, with responsibility for global marketing. Compton has been with PepsiCo for 28 years, and has been promoted from his position as chief executive of PepsiCo Americas Foods. He has been replaced by Brian Cornell, who is the former chief executive of Sam's Club, a division of Walmart.

Starcom has lost its MD Matt James, who is leaving the agency after just 18 months in the role to pursue a "new challenge".

Telefonica Digital has hired Google's former global sales leader for agencies Simon Birkenhead as its first global advertising sales director. He'll now be responsible for all ad sales within the company's newly formed digital unit.

Tesco's UK and Ireland chief Richard Brasher has left Britain's largest retailer after group chief executive Philip Clarke said that he wanted to get more involved in the UK operation, telling press yesterday morning that "you can't have two captains". Brasher had only been in charge since March last year and has sat on the board for eight years, previously holding a series of senior executive posts in marketing, commercial and store operations.

Yahoo's SVP & MD EMEA Rich Riley is due to return to the US, after holding the position since November 2008. Though he'll remain within the company, his new title is yet to be confirmed and details on his replacement are scarce. 

US-based Zeno Group, the sister agency of Edelman, has promoted Alan VanderMolen, head of its global practices and diversified insights businesses, to vice-chairman to oversee the expansion of Zeno and other North American agencies StrategyOne, Ruth and MATTER globally. 


Itchy feet? Why not head over to our jobs board to check out the latest roles.

Hiring? Free posts on the jobs board are included with gold, platinum and diamond membership plans.

jueves, 30 de enero de 2014

The RobotBoys Dance Like There's No Tomorrow

Dutch dance duo The RobotBoys are a well-oiled machine of tight beats and tighter moves. They dance like there's no tomorrow, or if there is a tomorrow, it's ruled by our superior robot overlords.

The two RobotBoys and guest pop n' locker Poppin' John wear chrome uniforms that would make the Terminator blush as they swivel, freeze and vibrate their way through an intense lineup of dirty dub-step beats.

The RobotBoys, whose human names are Nick Nitro and Jeppe Long, met in the Copenhagen breakdancing scene in 2004. They used their classic mime and physical comedy training to perform in everything from a hip-hop rendition of The Nutcracker to local dance battles, but they didn't hit the world stage until they won Denmark's Got Talent in 2008.

Their YouTube channel is filled with pop culture-steeped dance routines that make you wonder if these two dancers really are robots.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Harvard Pilgrim and why brands need to listen on social media

social media icons

In 2013, almost a decade after the founding of Facebook and seven years after the founding of Twitter, companies that aren't listening to and participating in the social conversation do so at their own peril.

I recently suffered a retina tear in one eye on the weekend and, much to my surprise, my previously-great insurance company doesn't want to pay for the effective, emergency treatment I received to fix it and prevent it from possibly becoming a detached retina. (Readers in the UK: this denial of coverage can happen in the U.S.)

After several weeks of conversations, I hand-delivered a letter to the office of the CEO of the insurance company, expecting at least a response and possibly a swift resolution.

When I hadn't even received confirmation of the letter in more than a week, late last Thursday afternoon I posted it to my blog and socialized the link through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

My blog doesn't have quite the traffic that the Econsultancy blog does. Typically I have 0-10 readers a day, while my posts for Econsultancy are read by a few thousand people. 

So I was more than a little surprised the next morning when I checked Google Analytics and found that 500 people had looked at the post in less than eight hours late on Thursday, and a steady stream of people were in the process of reading it Friday morning.


When I drilled down deeper, I found the source of this traffic: a link had been posted on, a popular news site for Boston, and on Reddit.


And the post was getting dozens of comments on UniversalHub, Reddit, Facebook, and my blog. Here's one example: 

Wow, that's ridiculous! I have Harvard Pilgrim. It never occurred to me that their lack of weekend hours means that one is not supposed to seek emergency care during that time! I am going to call and ask some questions. Good reason to switch plans next year if there is an affordable alternative. 

Amazingly, even though I used the @HarvardPilgrim twitter handle of the insurance company in my tweets, the company seemed oblivious to the fact that this critical conversation about it was happening.

On Friday, more than 500 additional people read the post, making the total more than 1,000 people in about 36 hours, with dozens of them taking the time to post often-negative comments. But Harvard Pilgrim did not even respond to my tweet of the link on Twitter, something that it should have instantly been aware of Thursday afternoon.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is not a small company. It provides health insurance to over 1m people in New England, and has won multiple awards. But it appears to not have even rudimentary social listening and responding efforts in place.

This is not the case at other major companies that regularly monitor and participate in the social conversation. Companies have found social media to be an effective channel to market, increase sales, provide customer support, and build their brand.

And these aren't just B2C brands. Cisco, for example, reports outstanding return on its social media listening and engagement.

Of course, companies have to participate sensitively, whether they're undertaking a campaign that they created or responding to posts from others. Done poorly, social media can be a disaster.

But, in 2013, to not participate at all in real time is simply no longer an option.

From the Nokia N73 to the 808 PureView

From the article:

I recently shared some of the first shots by Damian Dinning and his Nokia Lumia 1020. Damian is former Lead Program Manager Imaging Experience at Nokia and had to leave the company last year for personal reasons. He had been working at Nokia's imaging department for nine years and was instrumental in the development of Nokia's smartphone cameras from the N73 and N95 (the one that really got me hooked on smartphone photography).

I didn't just find his shots with the Lumia 1020 on his Flickr account – all the shots from the "old" phones were there too. Pre-PureView so to say. Fascinating. So I asked for his permission to share them here at the club, and if he could add some of the Nokia 808 PureView on Flickr as well.

After he did so, I made a large selection of 45 shots in total – and you know what? I'm going to share them all here. Because I can :-) All the formats chosen are 640 pixels wide. If you hover your mouse over the shot you'll see with which smartphone it was taken. If you click on the shot you will be taken to the original as offered by Damian on Flickr.

Nokia N73, shots from 2006

2006 - Nokia N73 - Mumbai Maharashtra 2

My first encounter with the N73 was in the context of a camera comparison with the N90 and, unsurprisingly, the latter won in my view, but the N73 was also a great imaging device for its time.

Here's another pick from the article:

Nokia N86, shots from 2009

2009 - Nokia N86 - Magnissia, Thessalia

Ah yes, my beloved Nokia N86, I still pick this up with fondness. It's main weakness is the use of dual LED flash rather than Xenon - I think if it had had the latter I might still be using it today as a smart camera, since the device is tiny and surprisingly feature packed.

Back to the selections:

Nokia N8 "during development", shots from 2010.
Maybe these shots are the most "spectacular", since they show the result of the N8 in the process of finalizing the device. The results from all the work must have been absolutely breath-taking back then (in fact, it still is…). And to realize that no-one really knew about it. Can't imagine how exciting that must have been.

2010 - Nokia N8 - during development 2

To be honest, the 2010 Nokia N8, in terms of imaging, can still hold its head up against the giants of today - iPhone 5S, Galaxy S4, and so on. The only device to exceed the N8's all round imaging capabilities is its own successor, the ground breaking Nokia 808.

And, what do you know, Marc has picked out some lovely 808 photo samples too. Here's my favourite:

2013 - Nokia 808 PureView - 10

I'm a sucker for a good dandelion shot! You can see all 45 selections here in the original article.

ThinkPad 2013: Clean Design, Big Trackpads and Smart Batteries

Laptops are evolving, and so is the ThinkPad. Lenovo is adapting some key models in the industry-leading line of business laptops it inherited from IBM to better appeal to today's power users. The latest ThinkPad Ultrabooks have some novel design elements that were directly influenced by feedback from — in the company's words — "next-genners."

Before you ask, the ThinkPad's signature red TrackPoint is still there. But the separated trackpad buttons — a mainstay of the line — are gone, discarded in favor of integrated mouse buttons and a larger trackpad. The new integrated pad is found on the ThinkPad Ultrabooks X240 and T440S (both shown, above), as well as the ThinkPad S Series laptops. Red stripes along the top of the pad give a visual cue to where there buttons once were.

"We looked at ThinkPad loyalists, we looked at people who don't use ThinkPads and we looked at next-genners," said Brooks Flynn, Lenovo's worldwide segment manager. "Some people were having a negative experience with the buttons: 'Why are these buttons taking away space from my pad?' That was one of the drivers to go to the much larger touchpad — a lot of next-genners; that's the preferred input for their computing devices."

The overall design of the ThinkPad Ultrabooks is sleeker, too. While previous generations have usually sported extra edges and ridges on the sides — ostensibly for a better "fit" when folded — the new models are much cleaner, discarding much of the noise for simpler lines and adornment-free surfaces (seen in the T440S, below).

ThinkPad T440s

By far the most useful improvement in the new ThinkPads, however, is the addition of internal batteries. And we do mean addition — there's still a removable battery as well. Each one holds "at least" three hours of juice, according to Lenovo, and the laptop first drains the removable one before taxing the internal power.

The big benefit is that with the internal battery playing backup, the owner can easily swap out external batteries without shutting down the machine, inspiring the feature's name: Power Bridge. The batteries are also interchangeable between the 12- and 14-inch models.

Lest you think that means the internal battery will have a shorter lifespan than normal, Lenovo has taken that into account. The internal battery uses a different charging algorithm to ensure the maximum possible life.

"It's a little bit larger, and it has a different charging algorithm," Flynn said. "That was a question that goes back to development: 'What about the lifespan?' They think a lot of things down the road."

Finally, the new ThinkPads have a subtle branding change: The ThinkPad logo is now right-side up when the laptop is open. You only have to scan the multiple Apple logos in your local Starbucks to appreciate the significance of the revision.

"Traditionally, we always had the logos face the user," Flynn explained. "The idea was that it was your personal system. But when it's up, it obviously doesn't communicate the brand. We weren't actually planning on changing that until in the user survey, the next-genners kept asking, 'Why is the logo upside-down?'"

The 12.5-inch ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook starts at $749, and the 14-inch T440S is $949. The "prosumer"-aimed S Series Ultrabooks start at $999, and go as large as 15.6 inches, which includes a number pad with the keyboard.

What do you think of how the ThinkPad has evolved? Share your reactions in the comments.

ThinkPad X240Images: Mashable and Lenovo

Top 5 iOS Travel Apps for Your Summer Vacation

Between pricey flights, hotels and foreign shopping sprees, travel may be one of the best indicators of consumer confidence. And with unemployment going down, and even real estate seeing a modest comeback, that confidence seems to be rising.

Last summer, one in five Americans said they planned on taking a vacation, according to a survey by the market research firm Harris Interactive. And almost half of them, 42%, said they planned on taking two or more trips. This year, the numbers are even higher. Now nearly one in four say they're planning on packing their bags, according to a survey conducted by TD Ameritrade. 'Tis the season.

Before you book your flight or room, or even decide where you're going, check out these five free iOS apps made by the Appcelerator mobile platform. If you're the type that can't leave the office back home, using these tools might even improve your productivity.

SEE ALSO: Travel Tips: How To Work and Relax While You Fly


If you live spontaneously, ReallyLateBooking lets you make last-minute reservations at hotels in a slew of international cities, offering detailed room info and options should you find yourself out of town, and without a room.

Sure beats sleeping in the airport should you miss your flight, get rerouted or decide the hotel you booked just isn't up to par.


No one wants to admit it, but with jetlag and even culture shock, getting lost in an airport is embarrassingly easy. Especially when all the signs are in a foreign language. Stall that with AirportChatter, which gives you detailed info on airport amenities, nearby restaurants and real-time reviews, and a geo-location radar from people around you. It's almost like a Facebook-Yelp hybrid for your terminal.


Comment allez-vous? Come vai? ¿Cómo estás? What, you say?

You don't need a Star Trek universal translator to figure out what everyone around you is saying. TripLingo gives you everything from basic phrases, a live translator, and a country-by-country guide to customs and cultural taboos. There's even audio files to help with your pronunciation.


You made it. You're in your destination city. But you don't know where to go for drinks. Craft beer, to be exact. And you don't want to spend time trolling through Yelp or bother your friends on Facebook with incessant postings.

There's an answer for your night-life woes, and it's called TapHunter. The app shows you were to find your favorite brews as well as nearby, hip bar spots based on your drink preferences. Now there's no excuse not to drink.


If you're staying behind the wheel on your journey, TripBridge is the app to use to push your travel plans from your smartphone or tablet to an in-vehicle navigation system. You need a car that supports NaviBridge, an app that allows you to remotely browse maps or set a destination on your car. TripBridge offers navigable itinerary, complete with points of interest highlighted by Foursquare. So now you can make your trip both collaborative and social, without having to look down at your mobile device.

Ride on.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisegagne

How Google Took Street View For A Dive

Google's underwater Street View launched last September, but Google's Ocean program actually began six years ago, when one of the founders of Keyhole (which, after being acquired by Google, later became Google Earth), was inspired to also look into mapping the ocean. For several years now Google has been mapping the oceans, but bringing Street View underwater is still very challenging.

"Our goal is to really make all of our maps data more comprehensive by adding more ocean data. We want to take you from your home to the turtle's home," Google's Jennifer Austin Foulkes said. So far, Google has launched this for six locations, including Oahu, Maui and locations around the Great Barrier Reef.

Because there is a strong scientific component to this project, the team set up a strict protocol for taking this imagery. Richard Vevers, director of the Catlin Seaview Survey – Google's partner in this project – said that the cameras his team uses for this project are very different from those used by Google's other Street View vehicles. The team had to use wider-angle lenses, for example. Google's underwater Street View camera has three cameras on its front and takes images every three seconds. One of the cameras points downward, because that's how images during reef surveys have traditionally been taken. The back of the scooter features a tablet that can control the cameras.


During a typical dive, the divers cover about 2km and take 3,000 to 4,000 images per camera, and the team does three dives per day, each of which lasts about an hour. In total, the team has taken about 150,000 images so far, and Vevers expects this number to grow exponentially over the next few months. In the long run, the team hopes to create diver-less systems that can stay underwater for 12 hours or more. The technology is already available, but it needs to be adapted to the kind of camera system needed for Street View.

In addition to the usual cameras, the team is also testing stereo cameras to create 3D imagery and has recently experimented with doing underwater Hangouts and using Photo Spheres to engage the public.

Every camera system costs about $50,000, and four of them are currently in existence, though two of them haven't been in the water yet.

To get this underwater data into Street View, Vevers used Google's standard Business Photos tool. The actual location of the images, by the way, is triangulated. The images, it's worth noting, are also freely available for scientists.


The team is focusing on the Americas right now, but plans to bring underwater Street View to all of the world's oceans over the next three years (that's obviously just a few locations – not all of the oceans…). Another focus for the team is getting more developers involved – both for crowdsourcing data and for developing better reef-recognition algorithms. The existing algorithms can only interpret images from a downward-facing camera, but the team is hoping to create tools for working with all of the data the cameras generate.

Given the threats to the ocean, there is obviously a serious side to this project, something Vevers noted during his talk. Street View, he argues, is an important tool to inform the public about the threats that the ocean's face today. "People don't want to protect anything they can't see," he said. Most people don't dive, but there's no reason why we can't take them diving virtually. There is no point in doing science, Vevers argues, if it doesn't get out to the public and policy makers.


Why SMEs should boost their digital marketing strategy now (and how to get started)

Posted 14 March 2013 15:48pm by Kjetil Olsen with 3 comments

In the last year more and more small business owners have adopted new ways of thinking to transform their business strategy with new digital marketing tools, helping them build customer engagement and start to rival the big players.

In this blog post, I'll explain how to get started...

Although traditional marketing tactics have changed, the objectives driving the trend for increased digital expenditure are the same as with traditional marketing: allowing SMEs to sell more, save more and improve ROI.

On Elance we've seen this trend translating directly into business demand. The year-on-year number of digital marketing jobs posted in December increased by 42.9%.

The amount of money spent by clients on digital marketing jobs growing by 10.8%. Yet some small businesses are still slow to jump on the digital marketing bandwagon.

David and Goliath syndrome

Some SMEs still feel uneasy about competing with the big boys but when it comes to digital marketing, bigger is not necessarily better.

Think you have to build up your company's authority first before communicating credible content to your audience? Think again, because your company size could be your biggest advantage.

Interacting with your audience through new generation media is often something that major players shy away from, simply because they're concerned of losing control of their brand. SMEs on the other hand don't have to worry about putting a corporate reputation at risk, so there is no need to be overcautious about scaring off customers and prospects.

As a small business you can use this to your advantage by using quirky or innovative strategies that bigger companies with rigid brand and communication guidelines would shy away from. 

Small businesses are often nervous about the resources it can take to implement a full digital marketing strategy. However with online platforms, businesses can try out new ideas and tactics with skilled freelancers rather than making an expensive commitment to hire permanent staff.

Work with people who "get you"

When collaborating and partnering with external professionals, make sure you work with people who truly comprehend your business objectives.

When it comes to content writing, it's vital to work with people who'get' your messages and your tone. Spending the time researching their past experience, looking at work they've done for other clients as well as checking their grammar is vital and pays off in the long term.

By adopting new and nimble ways of working, SMEs can stay one step ahead of the big players.

They should fully embrace the new social aspects of their digital marketing campaign as a natural extension of what they've always done to expand their business in the offline world: drumming up contacts and prospects through active networking.

Will Sliding Images Make Captcha Less Annoying?

Those squiggly jumbled letters and numbers that you're often forced to type on a web page to prove you're a human and not a spam-spewing computer are a frustrating part of life online. Some of these puzzles are so tricky that you might fail a couple of times before getting them right. You might even give up and leave the page instead of completing a purchase or signing up for a new online account.

A startup called Minteye thinks it has a better solution, and one that can help websites make money: an image-based advertisement that the user has to unscramble by moving a slider across the screen. Minteye launched its product publicly this week after spending about a year testing it, and it's currently available on a couple of hundred websites, CEO Gadi Hadar says.

A Minteye Captcha appears as a scrambled image with a small slider below it. The user has to move the slider until the image looks correct, which may happen at any point. Minteye's software determines if you've moved the slider to the correct position, at which point it lets the website know that you are a human so you can continue navigating.

The Captcha was invented by Carnegie Mellon University researchers in 2000; the term is an acronym for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart." These days, the technology is commonly used all over the web. Luis von Ahn, who helped create the Captcha and later created a system that uses such tests to digitize old book texts, estimates that people solve 200 million Captchas per day.

Minteye is one of numerous companies attempting to make it easier to solve Captchas without making them easier for spammers to fool (see "Video Ads That Outwit Spammers"). When the puzzles are too hard to solve, it can lead to irritation and, at worst, lost business for websites. Minteye believes that its flavor of Captcha in particular is particularly well poised to take off as an ever-growing number of people use smartphones and tablets to navigate the web.

The idea for Minteye came from founder Shayke Inbar, who has dyslexia and found it extremely difficult to pass standard Captcha tests. Seeking to create a similar test that used images rather than letters, he realized that using ads for those images could generate money while authenticating users.

Minteye splits ad revenue 50-50 with websites that run its Captchas. But websites can also use Minteye to just show random images, he says. Hadar says the company has a unique method for scrambling and cutting up an image. This is meant to make it more difficult for a spambot to solve.

Von Ahn isn't convinced of Minteye's security, saying software that moves the slider until it detects straight lines in the image "would probably have a pretty good chance at defeating this."

But Hadar claims Minteye's puzzles are even more secure than typed Captchas. It's easier to build a bot that can identify letters and numbers than one to recognize images "that can be deformed in practically endless ways," he says.

"Having said that," he admits, "there is no Captcha in the world that cannot be cracked—it's only the amount of resources invested in cracking."

Image courtesy of YouTube, Minteye

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review here

LocalResponse brings historical intent targeting to Twitter

Posted 12 October 2012 16:00pm by Patricio Robles with 0 comments

With consumers posting countless pieces of content each and every day on popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it's no surprise that much of the attention of the social media ecosystem has been focused on 'real-time.'

But for brands trying to reach consumers on these platforms, is there room for a back-to-the-future approach?

One social advertising firm, LocalResponse, believes there is. Thanks to a partnership with Twitter firehose licensee Datasift, LocalResponse is now pitching advertisers on the ability to target consumers on the popular microblogging service based on tweets posted as far back as 2009.

Adweek's Tim Peterson explains how this could enable advertisers to target consumers in new ways:

LocalResponse's historical intent targeting could help advertisers keep their targeting segments fresh. For example, the company could see that someone had tweeted years ago about being pregnant and derive that that person's child is now a toddler and promote Gap Kids instead of babyGap to them. Or vice versa, Gap could set date ranges for the targetable data so that it only runs babyGap ads to anyone who tweeted about being pregnant nine months to a year ago.

Already, Sony Pictures has trialed historical intent targeting, and while LocalResponse is mum on the specifics, the company's CEO Nihal Mehta explained that such targeting could, for instance, allow a studio like Sony Pictures to, upon the release of a DVD, follow up with a consumer who had previously tweeted about a movie while it was in theaters.

Are social ad offerings getting too complex?

So is LocalResponse's historical intent targeting a sign that the tweets contained in Twitter's vast archive are on the verge of becoming a gold mine that advertisers can actually tap?

Maybe, but not so fast. Looking at a tweet histories may, in theory, be a sensible approach for advertisers. But the operative phrase is "in theory", and as advertisers consider the benefit to be gained from looking at tweets posted a year or two ago, it's worth considering whether social ad offerings are getting too complex for advertisers' own good.

For many advertisers, social's greatest shortcomings are metrics-related. Advertisers want more insight, something that clearly isn't lost on one of Twitter's co-founders. Put simply, without the right metrics, many advertisers are finding it extremely difficult to determine whether a campaign produced a positive ROI. From this perspective, offerings like historical intent targeting, while interesting, don't seem to solve advertisers' most pressing challenges.

So what should advertisers do? Certainly, exploration of new social targeting capabilities shouldn't stop, but before advertisers get overly sophisticated in this area, it's important that they don't lose sight of the importance of figuring out how to measure the efficacy of their existing campaigns.