July 10, 2010

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks

With Facebook’s ever-changing layout, and the fact that other social sites are encroaching on its real-time update strangle-hold, it’s easy to forget that there are some pretty nifty tricks you can pull using your humble Facebook status.

We’ve pulled together 10 great how-to tips that will help you get the most out of your status update, from official features to apps, Easter eggs, jokes and more.

Perfect for newer Facebook () users, or anyone who is looking for a refresher, read on and let us know the ones you like in the comments below.

1. HOW TO: Add a Dislike Option to Your Status Update

“Like” buttons are everywhere on Facebook, and they’re everywhere on the web. But what if you want to update your status or share something that your friends can “dislike?” We know, your friends can choose to “comment” on your post, but where’s the fun in that?

The clever Status Magic Facebook app can add a dislike button to any status updates posted via the app. And if you wanted to really mix it up you can actually customize the second emotion to anything, such as “love,” “hate,” “disagree” or even “LOLs.”

2. HOW TO: Hide Status Updates From Certain People

Using Facebook’s general privacy settings (find these by hitting “account” on the top right of a Facebook page) you can select whether everyone, just friends or friends of friends can see your status updates. However, there is a way to narrow those options down even further.

You can select specific friend lists to see your status (relevant for work, special interest groups, etc.) or even individual people by name, which is useful for anyone organizing a surprise party.

To take advantage of these options, click the padlock icon just below your “what’s on your mind” box on your wall and a drop down menu should appear. Selecting “customize” will bring up more options such as “make this visible to” and “hide from” with the option to make your selection a default.

3. HOW TO: Pre-Schedule Status Updates

While SocialOomph, Sendible and HootSuite () offer the same kind of service, the simplest way to schedule Facebook status updates is by using the easy, free Later Bro service.

Just sign in with Facebook Connect, select your time zone, type in what it is you’d like to say, set the calendar and clock to when you’d like to say it, and presto!

4. HOW TO: Tag People in Your Status Updates

This was quite a big deal when it was announced this past September, but from the amount of searches on the topic “how can I make someone’s name go blue in a Facebook status?” it seems it’s not universally known.

To mention someone in a status update just type “@” (a la Twitter ()) in the status bar and start typing their name as it appears on Facebook. An auto-generated list will then come up with people in your social circle whose name starts with the letters you’ve typed. The feature also works with pages, brands, events and companies.

Hit the name you want, complete the update, click share and the name will become a hyperlink (you won’t see the @ symbol) and will appear in blue text.

5. HOW TO: Add Symbols to Your Facebook Status

Although there are plenty of emoticons that work with Facebook Chat, typing “:)” into Facebook’s status bar will not magically transform into a smiley yellow face. In fact, the only symbol you can create in a Facebook status update through the shortcut keys is a ♥, by typing “<3."

While this won't bother many Facebook users, others more used to punctuating their missives can copy and paste web-happy, universal symbols into the box, as you can see in the screengrab above.

PC users can also access some symbols by hitting “alt” + various number combinations (on a numerical keypad). So, while smileys are yet to hit Facebook statuses, you can annoy or amuse your buddies with symbols right now.

6. HOW TO: Turn Your Status Updates Into a Word Cloud

There’s a really fun way to visualize anyone’s status updates (even an entire country’s) as a word cloud. The Status Analyzer 3D app will look at what it is you’ve been chatting about lately and generate a list, and then a pretty, colorful, animated cloud as pictured above.

You can share the results with others on the social networking site by posting it to your friends’ walls or by adding it to your profile.

7. HOW TO: Have Fun With Facebook’s Humorous Language Options

While you can always change your setting into more sensible alternative languages, the site offers a couple of fun linguistic Easter eggs.

You can chose to have Facebook display upside down English, or, for anyone feeling a little salty, in “pirate.” Pirate essentially turns your status into your “plank,” your attachments into “loot” and instead of “share” it offers the option to “blabber t’ yer mates.”

Sadly, anything you type in the status bar won’t be upside down, or pirate-y. But with the use of some external sites you can achieve the same effect.

TypeUpsideDown.com and UpsideDownText.com are just two examples of sites that can flip your text, while the Talk Like a Pirate Day site can help you with your pirate translations.

8. HOW TO: See Status Updates From Around the World

If you want to get a glimpse of the thoughts of Facebook users from around the world’s, head over to OpenBook.

Created by three San Fran web developers with a serious privacy message in mind, the site aggregates the status updates of everyone whose privacy levels are set to “everyone.”

You can narrow your searchable results down by gender and keywords to find out what people are saying about a certain topic. Or you can just browse the recent searches.

9. HOW TO: See Your Status Update Stats

Have you ever wondered how many times you have updated your status on Facebook? The Facebook app Status Statistics, can tell you this and more.

The app analyzes your updates and gives you a tidy list of how many you’ve written, the average word count and how many times a day you post. In addition, it generates a graph that shows you what time of day or what days of the week you normally update.

Old statuses are also searchable via the app, so you can find that witty retort you made back in November 2009 without having to scroll back through your history.

10. HOW TO: Play a Trick On Your Friends in Your Status Update

We have a funny one to end on — a way to play an amusing trick on your Facebook buddies.

This clever link “http://facebook.com/profile.php?=73322363″ looks like it could be a URL for anyone’s Facebook profile, actually takes anyone logged into Facebook to their own profile page.

If you try it out, be sure to remove the link preview that Facebook auto-ads. Have fun, and don’t be too mean…

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Google Maps Adds 45° Aerial Imagery For All Users

Google has granted all Google Maps users the ability to view aerial photos taken at a 45° angle. Just zoom in at one of the supported locations and you’ll get a better view than you could before.

The feature was previously only available to developers and as part of Labs for Google Maps, a set of work-in-progress features that you had to opt in to. Now anyone who uses Google MapsGoogle MapsGoogle Maps can see the aerial images, but the locations are limited to just a few cities in Europe and South Africa, and on the west coast of the United States.

These pictures are taken from the air, not from orbit, so they’re sharper and their angle allows you to appreciate landmarks and buildings as they appear from the side, not just directly above. Microsoft’s Bing Maps has offered similar, higher-quality images by default for some time, so Google’sGoogleGoogle playing catch-up here.

Where It’s Available

Google Maps 45° aerial imagery is only available for a few locations in North America, Europe and Africa at present, but hopefully it will expand to more locations later. For now, the supported locations include places in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Rustenburg in South Africa; Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara in the United States; Dortmund in Germany and Venice in Italy.

Here’s a map of the support locations. You can browse the map yourself at Google’s website.

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July 5, 2010

8-Bit Video Game Costume

8bit Costume 300x225 8 Bit Video Game Costume

Check out this for a fancy dress costume. It's designed to look like an old 8-bit character from a computer game. It is built from large pixels cut from high density foam. These large pixels are then glued to an articulated cardboard suit structure allowing the costume to be fairly light weight and wearable.

Around 4000 pixels were cut to make this costume although not all were cut for this particular costume as three in total will be made for a video project that is being worked on.

Check out the images below to see more of the 8-bit costume.
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July 1, 2010

MIT Researchers Developing Smartphone App for 2-Minute Eye Exams

MIT Media Labs researchers are field-testing a smartphone application and $1 plastic lens attachment system called NETRA — Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment — for eye exams.

NETRA is designed for doctors in developing countries that may not otherwise have access to expensive ophthalmological equipment for eye exams.

Using the application and cellphone lens attachment, patients can look into the lens to view parallel red and green lines. Fast Company explains that patients can then “use arrow keys on the phone to adjust those lines until they overlap. After just two minutes of testing, the app spits out an eyeglass prescription.”

The researchers will show off the application and hardware combination at SIGGRAGH 2010 in late July. Then, after testing, NETRA will launch under the umbrella of PerfectSight, a for-profit startup that will “market and produce the device for Asian and African markets.”

The application will run on multiple smartphones. Existing prototypes are being tested on the Samsung Behold II and Google Nexus One.

The video embedded below includes a walkthrough of the idea and technology behind NETRA.
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10 Beautiful Social Media Infographics

Infographics help communicate information in a digestible manner as they creatively present data in an understandable and engaging format. With social media growing at an ever increasing pace, there is now a wealth of data about how people interacting with one another on the web. Naturally, infographics have proven an excellent aid in expressing high volumes of social web information in a clear, visually appealing manner.

Here are 10 infographics that prove as beautiful as they are interesting.

1. Social Web Involvement

This is a global map of social web involvement which illustrates that hundreds of millions of web users are creating and sharing content every month. It provides a clear visualization of the ways in which social technologies are adopted differently across the world, showing the number of active bloggers, social networkers, video sharers, photo uploaders and microbloggers.

Interestingly, it reveals that despite the Twitter hype, microblogging is still not a mass social activity and is nowhere near the size and scale of blogging.

2. Social Marketing Compass

A compass is a device for orientating oneself and guiding physical direction. The social marketing compass points a brand in a physical and experimental direction, allowing them to connect with their customers, peers, and influencers, where those users already interact and seek guidance online.

Created to illustrate social marketing within the book Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, this infographic was also available as a poster to celebrate the book’s pre-sale.

3. Web Trend Map

The Web Trend Map plots the Internet’s leading names and domains onto the Tokyo Metro map. Domains and personalities are carefully selected through dialogue with map enthusiasts, and every domain is evaluated based on traffic, revenue, and character. As a result, the map produces a web of associations: some provocative, some curious, others ironically accurate.

It’s available as an A0 poster (33.25 x 46.75 inches) and is printed in Tokyo, Japan, on exquisite, heavyweight, matte paper.

4. Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism is a visual mapping of the shifting landscape of social networks and micro communities. It beautifully represents social media tools for marketing, finance, human resources and more. Each tool is represented by their logo and arranged in a circular, flower-like structure. The graphic will continue to evolve as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate.

It provides a visual representation of the true expansiveness of the Social Web and the conversations that define it and is an update to Version 1.0 which was released in August 2008.

5. Popular Site Demographics

Numerous social media sites have witnessed explosive growth of their user bases in the last several years, but it’s a known fact that user demographics, including age, gender, income and education, vary across different platforms. This infographic maps the demographics of the world’s 7 most popular social media sites.

While there aren’t any quantitative data points listed, it’s definitely worth a quick glance to see how the various sites compare to one another.

6. Social Landscape

This infographic describes and ranks 10 popular social media channels by customer communication, brand exposure, traffic generation and SEO impact, which enables us to get a good grasp of how each tool helps users achieve business goals.

It acts as a roadmap of the social web and demonstrates which social channel will give the most bang for the buck in terms of customer communication, brand exposure, traffic, and SEO.

7. How are Mobile Phones Changing Social Media?

The mobile web is growing at an exponential rate, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. This infographic illustrates the rates at which people use the mobile web for social activities.

It highlights a few intriguing facts, such as that there are more than 100 million active Facebook mobile users, and that those mobile users are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users. It also notes that 18-34 year olds account for about 50% of mobile social networking usage, with female usage higher than male usage.

8. The Boom Of Social Sites

The explosion of social networking sites over the past decade has facilitated a transformation in the way we communicate with each other. This infographic details some of the social communities with over 1 million users, both active and defunct.

The actual timeline itself is pretty interesting as you can clearly see the explosion of social networks between 2003 and 2006 (with the creation of Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn), and the relative slowdown in their creation after 2007.

9. The Biggest Shift

The Biggest Shift details the importance and extent of social media. Essentially, if you are looking to utilize word of mouth advertising, social media is there to help boost your efforts. By focusing your marketing attention to the top social networking websites, you will see the immediate benefits of “fishing where the fish are”.

It’s difficult to ignore the facts; YouTube is now the second largest search engine on the web; 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week on Facebook; and perhaps most significantly, 96% of 18-35 year olds are on a social network.

10. Social Media In Business

This is a closer look into the adoption of social media platforms by global Fortune 100 companies as they look to leverage these networks to reach and communicate with their target audiences.

While Facebook may still be the biggest social networking site, when it comes to business, Twitter seems to be the favorite among the Fortune 100 companies, with 65% owning a corporate Twitter account.

Which infographics do you think best showcase the intricacies of social media?

Series supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe

This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.

[img credit: despair.com]


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June 24, 2010

iMovie for iPhone 4 Now Available

iMovie iPhone 41 300x300 iMovie for iPhone 4 Now Available

Apple [AAPL] launched the iPhone 4 today. Along with that launch the iMovie app for the smartphone was also launched. The iMovie app is for iPhone 4 only and costs $4.99 to buy.

The app allows you to create HD movies and edit them whilst on the move. A number of transitions have been included allowing you to create effects between two videos or between two segments on a video.

Made for Multi-Touch.

• Tap to add or record video right into your project.
• Drag to trim the lengths of video clips and photos.
• Pinch to zoom the timeline and get a closer look.
• Slide to scrub through the video in your project.

Give it a theme.

• Choose from a selection of themes including Modern, Bright, Travel, Playful, and News.
• Each theme includes a matching set of titles and transitions – plus its own soundtrack.
• Instantly change themes or swap themed elements in your project.
• Titles and graphics automatically update with location data from your video.

Add music and photos.

• Select from included music that matches each iMovie theme, or select from your own song library.
• Enable ducking to automatically lower the volume of background music and highlight audio from video clips.
• Add photos from your own library, or take a picture and drop it into your project.
• Customize each photo with a unique “Ken Burns” panning effect.

Share your movie.

• Export your movie in one of three sizes: Medium, Large, or HD.
• Share your movie on the web in a MobileMe gallery or on YouTube.
• Send your movie to friends and family in an email or via an MMS message.
• Easily sync your movie back to your computer.

The iMovie app is available now over at iTunes.

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June 16, 2010

Facebook Comments Getting a “Like” Button

There’s a small feature on the way that’s about to make another big change to the way people use Facebook: the ability to “Like” comments.

Much like you can currently “Like” status updates, wall posts and other items in the News Feed, Facebook has started rolling out a “Like” button for comments. The feature is not yet live for everyone.

The functionality is much the same as traditional “Likes.” In a blog post, Facebook (Facebook) writes that, “when you click ‘Like’ on a comment the commenter will receive a notification. Other people who can see the comment based on its privacy setting also will be able to see who has liked the comment.”

Already the web’s number one time sink, expect this feature to add a few more minutes per day to our collective use of Facebook.
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June 3, 2010

Hello Kitty Has Her Own iPhone Twitter Client

After Twitter purchased and relaunched Tweetie for the iPhone (now known as Twitter for the iPhone), many people expected the race for the ultimate iPhone Twitter app to slow down. Those individuals didn’t count on a Hello Kitty Twitter client. Yes, that’s right, we said a Hello Kitty Twitter client.

Developed by Digital Garage, makers of the free Japanese Twitter client Tappit, Hello Kitty on Tappit [iTunes link] is a fully skinned Twitter client featuring everyone’s favorite mouthless cartoon cat. The images are all licensed by Sanrio and the app works in both English and Japanese.

We’ll admit, we originally purchased this $3.99 app for the novelty factor. I mean, come on, a Hello Kitty Twitter client is the sort of thing three-year-old Christina would go completely crazy over. At 27, I still squealed like a little girl.

Here is where it gets interesting: As a Twitter client, Hello Kitty on Tappit is actually pretty awesome.

Advanced Features Plus Hello Kitty

The interface for the app is almost identical to that of Tweetie. The layout of the bottom menu is the same, and the compose menu and multiple account support work the same way.

In addition to being able to upload videos and pictures and shorten hyperlinks, Hello Kitty on Tappit lets you embed what are called “deco-images.” These images are basically little animated icons that can be viewed natively in any Tappit Twitter client or via a hyperlink for users of other Twitter clients. 40 of these deco-images are available in the app.

You can also choose between four different backgrounds for the client itself. We wish we could also change the color of text, as it is difficult to read on certain backgrounds.

Retweets are handled the same way the official Twitter app handles them. You can also use and search by geolocation, and view the latest trends (powered by What the Trend) and user profiles. The only feature that this app doesn’t have is Twitter List support.

Additionally you can customize gesture controls in the app for designated actions. By default, a swipe to the right will create an @reply. You can customize swipes to the left or two finger swipes to perform other actions, including favoriting a message and sending a direct message, retweet or quote.

For kitschy fun — or for users that want a Twitter client with superb Japanese language support — Hello Kitty on Tappit manages to be both adorable and functional.

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Mark Zuckerberg on Privacy and the Stupid Things He Did in College

Yesterday, Steve Jobs took the stage and was hit hard with questions on Adobe Flash, the lost next-generation iPhone and Facebook’s increasing competition with Google.

AllThingsD producers Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher definitely didn’t let up the 26-year-old founder. They questioned him on the recent privacy fiasco, instant personalization, his past at Harvard, and his future as CEO of the web’s most important companies.
The Privacy Backlash

Swisher and Mossberg wasted no time digging into the big issue: Facebook and privacy. Zuckerberg started by making it clear that “privacy is very important to us.” He says that Facebook isn’t out to make all of their users’ information public — that’s a misperception. In fact, he drilled deeper, saying that they never changed people’s privacy settings, they just suggested settings where some information is left public.

It didn’t take long for Mossberg and Swisher to turn up the heat, though. Mossberg asked Facebook’s CEO why he’s making people take extra steps to protect their information. Zuckerberg eventually responded that people still have control over their Facebook information, and more than half of the userbase has changed privacy settings at one point, demonstrating that most users understand the privacy tools.

That wasn’t the end of the privacy discussion, though. Much of the conversation became Mossberg and Swisher trying to get answers to one question, but Zuckerberg finding ways to dodge. There was no straight answer from Zuckerberg about why Facebook Instant Personalization was opt-out instead of opt-in. Most likely, we’ll never get one.
Zuckerberg the Kid, Zuckerberg the CEO

There was a lot of focus on Zuckerberg himself during his time on stage. Swisher asked Facebook’s CEO how he felt about the backlash against him and whether he has been accurately portrayed to the rest of the world. His response began with his telling Swisher that he “did a lot of stupid things” when he was in college, and that he doesn’t intend to make excuses for it. He was likely referring to IMs that recently surfaced that took a less-than-serious attitude towards privacy.

More of the focus was on Zuckerberg as the 26-year-old CEO of Facebook. He discussed how it is his job not to make the same mistakes of his competitors, although he once again dodged the actual question (“Who are your competitors in this space?”). He reiterated that he intends to be CEO of Facebook when it goes public, although he wouldn’t reveal when that would happen. Given his tight control over the Facebook Board of Directors, it’s tough to find a scenario where he would be forced out.

As with many of his interviews, Zuckerberg focused less on himself and more on generalities, such as his focus on building a great team and having a clear direction for the company. He didn’t seem to think of himself as the CEO of one of the world’s most important companies, but just the leader of a team that shares his values.

Overall, Zuckerberg likes to talk about the topics that interest him — the social graph, building great products, etc. — and he avoided answering the uncomfortable questions about privacy, controversies, and IPOs. Still, we give him credit for going on the stage of D8 at all.
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June 1, 2010

Cats Can Now Tweet with New Liveblogging Device

If you love your cat so much that you can’t stand to be away from it — even for a hot second — you’re in luck: Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL) Inc has developed a liveblogging device for Mr. Mistoffelees and friends.

This revolutionary new toy, which was created with the help of the University of Tokyo, comes all pimped out with a camera, an acceleration sensor and a GPS, which monitors kitty’s every move, translating actions like walking, eating and sleeping into tweets. Sadly, there are only 11 fixed phrases currently available (I’m guessing, “I left a lovely hairball in your sneaker” is not among them), but Sony CSL is hoping to improve Fluffy’s conversational skills soon.

The device fits easily onto the cat’s collar, so as to avoid hindering its movement, which means your cat can tweet all over the neighborhood.

We’ve seen an influx of novel Twitter functions of late: tweeting trees, tweeting beds and even tweeting cows. While the tech may seem kind of, well, silly, we could see it being of use to people besides lonely cat ladies. For instance, such a collar could be exceedingly useful for zoologists and the like.

What do you think of the tweeting cat collar? Genius or cat-astrophically ridiculous?

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Facebook and Google Maps Dominate Smartphone App Usage [STUDY]

Nielsen has released a new mobile application report and its findings showcase not only the increase in smartphone usage, but also what applications are most popular. For its report, Nielsen surveyed more than 4,200 people who had downloaded a mobile application in the last 30 days.

The survey really highlights just how much smartphone ownership trails traditional feature phone ownership, at least in the U.S. Nielsen’s study shows that 21% of American wireless subscribers have smartphones.

Still, even non-smartphone users have heavily embraced mobile apps. Nielsen’s survey indicates that the average number of apps that a feature phone user has on his or her device is 10, while the average number of apps a smartphone user has is 22.

Broken down even further, the average number of installed apps based on smartphone OS looks like this:

  • BlackBerry: 10
  • iPhone: 37
  • Android: 22
  • Palm: 14
  • Windows Mobile: 13

Most Popular Smartphone Apps

While the specific applications vary from platform to platform, the most popular apps across smartphones were pretty consistent in this report: Maps, weather, Facebook and music all had strong showings.

Check out this chart which breaks down the five most popular apps by smartphone OS:

It’s interesting to see just how much Facebook dominates the mobile app space; it’s one of the top five apps on each of the platforms highlighted. Still, Nielsen notes that broken down by demographic, MySpace is still very popular among teens and that LinkedIn is strong in the 25-44 demographic.

Do any of these findings surprise you or does this align with your own mobile app usage? Let us know.

source: mashable.com

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AT&T Stores Being Prepped for Apple iPhone 4G Launch

BGR is reporting that AT&T [T] is sending out engineers to corporate store locations to plan and set up new kinds of display in preparation for the next generation Apple iPhone that we are expecting to hear details about next week.

Not much is known about the new displays other than they are a "new kind of display" which we suspect is for the launch of the new handset.

Although there has been a ton of leaks regarding the Apple iPhone 4G, we still don't have all the details such as when it will arrive, what the final model will look like and how much it will cost. We expect to hear the full details at WWDC this coming Monday where Steve Jobs is doing the keynote.

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May 26, 2010

Essential Trait of Embryonic Stem Cells Found

In a groundbreaking new investigation that could have significant implications for the field of bioengineering, researchers at the University of Edinburgh managed to gain new insight into how embryonic stem cells are defined, and into how they work. The new data could be of vital importance for bioengineers in their quest to produce artificial organs from stem cells. Understanding the behavior of these cells, and also the reasons underlying those behaviors, could advance this field at a fast pace.

The work reveals that embryonic stem cells (ESC) are made up of cells that continuously shift states between precursors of any other cell type in the human body. The investigators believe that this is one of the most important traits for these cells, as this must be the thing that allows them to eventually differentiate into any type of cell in the body. Though this constant shifting has yet to be understood thoroughly, the UK scientists say that they will continue to investigate this behavior further. The end goal of such investigations is to identify the exact time at which ESC exist in a certain form so that experts can isolate them.

If bioengineers want to create an artificial liver, for example, they need liver tissue. Over-simplifying things, they basically need to know when the ESC shift into a state that makes the viable precursors for liver cells. Once they know this, they can either create artificial cells with the same properties, or harvest the needed organic material from lab-grown stem cell cultures. A major implication of the new study is that ESC are not a single type of cell, but rather a collection of such structures, that constantly shift form. Details of the work appear in the latest issue of the open-access scientific journal PLoS Biology. The investigation was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Scottish Funding Council.

“This study changes our view of what embryonic stem cells are and how they behave. Knowing that embryonic stem cells can switch between different founder cell types could help us isolate cells at a point in time when they are primed to become specific cells. This could improve the ability to produce specific cells in the laboratory,” explains University of Edinburgh Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine expert Dr Josh Brickman.
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Google Nexus One Android 2.2 Link Pulled

Last weekend Google [GOOG] uploaded Android 2.2 for Nexus One users to download and update their smartphone. Today we found out that in fact, the Android 2.2 AKA Froyo available for download, wasn't the final build.

We now learn that Google has pulled the download link and will make users wait for the official and final OTA update to arrive which is expected in the next couple of weeks.

With Google making the link live a few days ago, for a few days, it isn't out of the question that you could probably find a copy of it somewhere on the internet.

If you are desperate to get your hands on a copy of the Android 2.2 build then have a hunt around on Google and you should find it. Alternatively, just hang on a couple of weeks for the final build which might include some last minute bug fixes.
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May 20, 2010

After Facebook, Pakistan Blocks YouTube Over Sacrilegious Content

Hot on the heels of Pakistan’s blockade of Facebook due to caricatures of Prophet Muhammad comes the news that Pakistan has also blocked YouTube due to content that’s offensive to Islam.

While the Facebook ban in Pakistan was a direct result of a group calling users to submit drawings of Prophet Muhammad, the YouTube blockade isn’t explained in detail. According to AP, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority simply cited “growing sacrilegious contents” as the reason for the ban.

The ban of Facebook and YouTube is likely to continue until representatives from both sites resolve the dispute with the Pakistani government in a way that “ensures religious harmony and respect.” Facebook representative said the usual way to resolve such issues, if the group in question doesn’t break its terms of service but is illegal in another country, is to restrict the group from being shown in that country.

However, the blockade seems to be much wider, as some of our readers, as well as reports on Twitter, point out that access to Flickr, Wikipedia and other sites has been restricted, too.
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May 17, 2010

Google Nexus One running Windows 3.11 for Workgroups

Windows 311 Nexus One 300x194 Google Nexus One running Windows  3.11 for Workgroups

It's not often you see Windows 3.11 for Workgroups these days. In fact, the last time I probably used that OS was back in the 90's while at college. One user with a Google Nexus One has managed to get the old OS running on his smartphone.

Although the demonstration shows Windows 3.11 running on a HTC Nexus One from Google [GOOG], you can actually get it working on any Android OS based smartphone that has a decent processor and performance.

Other items used include a Bluetooth Wireless keyboard for sending commands to MS-DOS and a computer to get DosBox running.

If you are familiar with the Android OS, one thing you may be saying “huh?” about at this moment is that there is no HID support within the Bluetooth stack to allow the use of wireless keyboards. But we won’t let that stop us now, will we? Since ADosBox does not yet support the use of the onscreen virtual keyboard, we have no other choice! Don’t worry, there’s a solution that I’ll cover in here shortly.

What you need....

* On your phone:
* ADosBox
* Teksoft BlueInput for Android (this will give us the HID input we need for the iGo Stowaway keyboard… sorta). You will need the paid version because you need use of the Enter key. Also, this software is so buggy and inaccurate that I do NOT recommend it for anything outside of a project like this.

* On your computer:
* DosBox
* An installation image of Windows 3.11

If you have all that then head on over here for full instructions on how to install Windows 3.11 on your Android OS based smartphone. I'm sure it will be fun to use for maybe 30 minutes until you realise how much things have changed since the 90's! One good thing that could come out of this is Minesweeper although I really have no idea if that was included with 3.11 or not.

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Apple iPhone 4G Leaked Again

iPhone 4G Leak 300x168 Apple iPhone 4G Leaked Again

Things can't be going too well for Apple [AAPL] at the moment after another iPhone 4G has been leaked in Vietnam. Perhaps we are looking at the same phone we have seen a couple of times before though. Right now, I've lost track of how many phones there have been captured on camera that all look very similar. I believe it might be the fifth as there was one captured earlier this year before the Gizmodo leak, then the Gizmodo leak, then Vietnam, then France and now Vietnam again. The last three and perhaps the first could all be the same unit though.

Either way, we now have a video of the iPhone running what appears to be some sort of diagnostic screen called Inferno. This looks to be a "bonfire" at the top of the screen with some text at the bottom of the screen showing some sort of USB status and a command saying Run Bonfire.

Some people believed the Inferno screen was just a static image, as in a sticker on the screen or a fake screen. We now see that this is part of the innards of the OS.

It is unclear at the moment where these phones are coming from and if Apple will pursue the factories were they are being built and the individuals who have been seen on previous videos.

Either way, it will certainly be a different product release for Apple with most of the anticipation not being there due to knowing most things about the phone already.

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May 11, 2010

Apple Confirms AT&T Has iPhone Exclusivity Until 2012

It was speculative before given the lack of independent confirmation, but now apparently Apple has gone on record to confirm that the original deal signed with AT&T for iPhone exclusivity back in 2007 was a five-year deal. That means at least some legal hoops would need jumping through if we’re ever going to see that oft-rumored Verizon iPhone before 2012.

Engadget reports that court documents filed by Apple in a California class-action suit confirm the original AT&T exclusivity deal had a five-year duration. The suit, ongoing since 2007, claims that Apple and AT&T were exerting a monopoly over iPhone service by surreptitiously locking iPhone buyers into renewing contracts with AT&T once their initial two years was up.

On the flip side, there are a number of reasons such a contract might be amended or canceled, so it’s not exactly a total given that the iPhone won’t appear on another carrier before 2012. But given the original terms, it could require some tricky negotiation or legal fancy footwork to get there.

Moreover, the class-action suit also alleges an illegal monopoly over the iPhone App Store, which the court ruled substantial enough to move forward. On both fronts then — consumer market and legal proceedings — it will be fascinating to watch for further details on when the AT&T iPhone exclusivity curtain might drop or even be forcibly struck down.

Do you think we’ll see the iPhone come to another carrier before 2012?
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Twitter to Launch Twitter Business Center

We have confirmed with Twitter that beta testing of its new business features, dubbed the “Twitter Business Center,” has begun.

According to the company, “only a handful of accounts have these features presently,” but it will expand on a gradual business to more accounts. One of the biggest additions: the ability for businesses to accept Twittter direct messages, even from people they don’t follow.

We were able to grab exclusive information and screenshots of the Twitter Business Center thanks to our friend Dave Peck, a social media strategist at LSF Interactive/blogger at New Media Chatter.

Here is an overview of some of the new features that businesses can expect to enjoy in the near future:

Starting Up with Twitter Business Center

A small group of business users are getting emails from the Twitter team, inviting them to test “the Twitter Toolkit.” This is how the invite email begins:


Your account has been invited to participate in testing one of Twitter’s newest business-centric features, the Twitter Toolkit. We’ll be rolling it out to you within the next few days (if you don’t have it already) for your business or organization’s Twitter account. To get started, visit your business’ Twitter account settings…


…and look for the “Business” tab. From there you’ll be directed to fill out some information which will help us verify your business or organization.”

Once businesses clicks the link, they have to activate the business features for their accounts. It then takes them to a page where they fill in information such as business contact info and whether they are a small business, large company, or an individual/group:

Digging into the Features

Once a business activates its account, it is automatically verified. This is important because Twitter Verified Accounts have been limited to individuals thus far. It seems like Twitter has finally decided to expand the Verified Accounts program to brands and organizations.

After activation, four tabs appear: Overview, Business Info, Verification, and Contributors. Overview provides basic information about business accounts and Business Info allows a company to change the information that it submitted during initial registration. The Contributors tab, which we revealed several months ago, gives businesses the ability to add multiple users to a business account so that they can tweet on its behalf.

The tab that interested us the most though was the “Verification” tab. Take a look at the “Preferences” section in this screenshot we obtained of the Verification tab:

Twitter has a new feature for businesses: the ability to accept direct messages from any of their followers, regardless of whether they follow that person or not. This is huge for businesses that perform customer service via Twitter: they can get feedback and deal with private customer issues without having to follow the person back first.

The microblogging startup seems focused on getting more businesses the tools they need to effectively manage their Twitter accounts. There are no details yet as to how much Twitter will charge businesses for these features. For now though, the company is refining and testing its Twitter Toolkit before its eventual public debut.

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May 3, 2010

New Samsung S8500 Wave camera samples here to impress

The Samsung S8500 Wave is one of the most eagerly anticipated devices of the season and its supposed availability has been keeping the mobile world on its toes since last week. But here we aren't going to discuss whether or not you can actually purchase the handset from those stores that claim to have it in stock.

Instead we will give you several camera samples that we created with the latest Samsung S8500 Wave unit that we received. It's not a final market-ready unit but it comes damn close, or at least so it seems from the photos and videos that we are about to show you.

As you know the Wave, the first Bada-running smartphone, captures 720p videos, which is all the rage these days. The nicely saturated colors and the good framerate (those are real 30fps, no duplicated frames gimmicks this time) make up for really pleasing results.

See for yourselves in the samples below.

We also took several 5 megapixel still shots with the Samsung S8500 Wave camera. The pleasing colors are again there for you to see, but the slightly too aggressive noise reduction takes its toll on the fine detail. Still this is only a pre-release unit, we might see further optimizations.

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Good Q1 for Samsung, more touch phones and smartphones to come

We've seen how the other companies did during the first quarter of the year and now we'll have the chance to see how things are going for Samsung. As expected, their Q1 financial report looks pretty well.

After the impresive Q4 here comes the equally strong Q1 for Samsung. The company managed to sell 64.3 million handsets during the first three months of 2010, which makes good 40% increase compared to last year's Q1.

Those brought the company approximately 7.66 billion US dollars which is an 8% sales increase Year-on-Year. The operating profit of nearly 1 billion US dollars marks a 1% decrease Year-on-Year.

Samsung estimate their market share to around 22%, which is better than the 20% in 2009. That guarantees the company's second position in the Top 5 mobile phone manufacturers ranking.

The future looks quite bright for Samsung, too. Due to the economic recovery and the expected increase in the demand the company should ship 10% more handsets than last year.

19% of them are expected to be smartphones, compared to the 16% of last year. 27% of all phones sold in the first quarter of this year were equipped with a touchscreen, while only 12% of all sold mobiles in Q1 2009 were touch-driven.

Samsung see the reasons for their success in the strong product lineup (including an increasing number of touch phones, smartphones as well as China 3G models) and the improved distribution channels in the emerging markets.


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April 25, 2010

HOW TO: Turn Your Android Phone Into a Killer MP3 Player

So, you’re an Android mobile device owner who also likes music. Welcome to the resistance!

We all know That Other Company has a pretty tight marketing grip on the digital music scene, and all that is cool, but your Hero, Droid or Nexus One is not only your best friend — it’s a killer music-playing device.

Here’s how to transform your Android-powered machine into an amazing MP3 player for you and your friends to enjoy.

1. Grab Your Music

First, you’re going to want to get your massive music collection onto your device. We’ve found great tutorials and step-by-step instructions all around the web for doing this. Here are some good links if you own a Droid, a Hero, a Nexus One, an Eris or a G1/Magic/Dream. If your device isn’t listed here, just do a quick web search for your device’s name and terms such as “get music library.” We road-tested the Droid instructions, and they worked like a charm.

Of course, if you can’t find your USB cable to connect your device to your computer, you can always try WebSharing File/Media Sync. For $2.99, this 4.5-star rated app lets users upload and download files, including music, between a mobile device and a computer through a WiFi connection.

2. Sync With iTunes (Optional)

If you’re already an iTunes user, and you don’t want the hassle of lurking through forums, migrating your library or dealing with DRM issues, we recommend you check out doubleTwist. This genius app, which is billed as “the cure for iPhone envy,” will let you port your iTunes library to any device. Cheeky, just like the app’s ad campaign.

Also, if you’re a really big iTunes junkie and don’t like the Android interface for music, check out bTunes Music Player. This app costs $1.49, is rated 4.5 stars on the five-star scale, and is in the 1,000-5,000 downloads range.

3. Download New Tunes For Free

There are quite a few apps on the Android Market for getting new tunes without visiting the Amazon music store. Music Junk is a popular title with a 4-star rating and between 10,000 and 50,000 downloads to date. This app allows users to search, download and store any song for free.

You could also use TubeDroid, a $1.99, 4.5-star app, to download YouTube videos (or just the audio alone) to your media library.

Of course, use these apps at your own risk — downloading free music from sites in search results and YouTube can be a legal gray area in terms of copyright.

If discovery is your middle name, and you’re into finding new music from indie and underground scenes around the world, you might want to check out New Music Junky. For £2.50 (that’s $3.84), users can get music from unsigned artists “before DJs even get it,” as the creators claim. They also offer to e-mail tracks if needed.

4. Stream Audio

Of course, Pandora for Android is free, popular, and highly rated in the Android Market. Pandora users will have access to their usual stations. PlayMe is another free, streaming solution with a library of three million tracks, all on-demand.

If you don’t mind paying for your streaming media, StreamFurious for $5.99 ranks high on many lists. This app is great if you’re looking for a lightweight app to stream radio content, from music, to ESPN, to NPR and more. DroidLive, a popular 4.5-star app, costs $3.99 and streams music and online radio in a plethora of formats, with great search and tagging capabilities built in as well.

5. Get the Right Peripherals

Whether you’re listening alone or with friends, you want the best sound you can get. Essentially, any 3.5mm jack should work with your device (G1 owners will also need a USB to stereo adapter). From iPod earbuds to top-of-the-line audio docks, you’ve got a wide range of options.

For personal listening, we’ve heard great things about Bang & Olufsen Earphones, which are reputed to be of excellent quality as well as comfortable and stylish. And we’ve always had a soft spot for Skull Candy’s vibrant line of headgear, which includes earbuds and headphones.

When it comes to sharing music with others, you could go for Bose quality for less than $100 with a pair of handsome graphite speakers. If you’re going for something more compact, we love this Altec Lansing speaker.

6. Customize Your Tunes for Your Lifestyle

Want to turn a snippet of one of those tunes into a ringtone? Try RingDroid. It lets you edit your favorite songs or record your own sounds to create custom ringtones right from your phone.

And if you hate waking up to an annoying alarm sound, you’ve got to try the 4 star-rated Playlist Alarm. You can create multiple custom playlists from your device’s library of tunes and wake up in delight every morning… or afternoon, whatever. If insomnia is your problem, you could also try MusicSleep, a $1.59, 5-star app that lets you set a timer and listen to your tunes as you drift into slumber.

Those are a few tips, tricks and apps we can recommend for putting all your iClone friends to shame. Android owners, what are your favorite music apps in the Market? Let us know in the comments.

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