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Mashable: Latest 6 News Updates - including “Firefox 3.6 RC1 Now Available”

lunes, 11 de enero de 2010

Mashable: Latest 6 News Updates - including “Firefox 3.6 RC1 Now Available”

Link to Mashable!

Firefox 3.6 RC1 Now Available

Posted: 11 Jan 2010 04:46 AM PST

Feeling adventurous? If so, you can try out the release candidate of the upcoming new version of Firefox, 3.6. The 7.7 MB download will give you a taste of what’s to come in this version, and we’re talking about some very interesting changes.

Firefox 3.6 runs on the well tested Gecko 1.9.2 web rendering platform, bringing support for new web technologies, better speed, stability, faster startup and load times, as well as improved Javascript performance.

As far as new features go, perhaps the most interesting one is Personas, which lets users change the appearance of the browser with one click. Furthermore, the new Firefox will alert you when your plugins are out of date, and finally, it’s optimized for small device operating systems, for example Windows CE and Maemo.

See the release notes for Firefox 3.6 RC1 here, and download it here.

Tags: Firefox, web, web browser

Avatar Catching Up With Titanic: Earnings Hit $1.3 Billion

Posted: 11 Jan 2010 02:23 AM PST

When Avatar hit the 1 billion dollar milestone, we asked you whether you believe it has what it takes to surpass Titanic on the all-time biggest earners list. Most of you thought that it has a very good chance of doing so, and judging by its 4th weekend box office results, you were right.

This weekend, Avatar once again shattered the previous record for the best 4th weekend at the box office, earning 48,500,000 dollars. On its fourth weekend in cinemas, Titanic made 20 million dollars less. If the trend continues, Avatar will not only surpass Titanic; it will set new records far above the popular historic love story.

One detail strikes me as odd, however: I don’t see the movie industry complaining much about Avatar being pirated. According to Torrentfreak, it’s by far the most pirated movie right now, but it still managed to earn over a billion dollars in cinema, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. Could it be that all that interest and buzz around the movie, even on torrent sites, actually helped propel Avatar into one of the biggest earners ever? Also, for an analysis of how social media helped Avatar become the second most watched movie of all time, check here.

Tags: avatar, social media, trending

Twitter Argument Leads to Alleged Murder [REPORT]

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 05:39 PM PST

A Twitter argument allegedly resulted in murder last month, and New York police may subpoena Tweets as evidence in the case, according to a newspaper report.

Jameg Blake, 22, is accused of fatally shooting Kwame Dancy (pictured), also 22, in a shotgun blast to the neck – he pleaded not guilty this Wednesday.

The Harlem murder case, which allegedly took place in an apartment building on W. 132nd St. on December 1, may turn out to be the first in which Tweets are used as evidence in a murder trial.

The NY Daily News writes:

It started as a simple Twitter beef, 140-character spurts of anger by two young men who grew up together.

Hours before the shooting, Dancy may have taunted Blake with a tweet: “N—–s is lookin for u don’t think I won’t give up ya address for a price betta chill asap!” … Blake’s Twitter account is also full of online disses, though only one tweet mentions Dancy by name: “R.I.P. Kwame” on Dec.3.

A police source said the messages may be subpoenaed to bolster the theory that there was bad blood between the two old pals.

It’s not clear to what extent the Tweets are being implicated: certainly Twitter provides a juicy angle for newspapers at this point, and the relationship between the two appears to have been strained in the past. With the press quickly latching on to stories like the “Craigslist Killer”, it’s also worth reiterating that Twitter is simply a platform — how people use the service is not something under their control.

The Daily News quotes the victim’s mother, Madeline Smith, expressing her disbelief: “That’s not a reason to shoot somebody, that’s crazy. I don’t know what’s going on with that Twitter thing.”

Reviews: Twitter

Tags: harlem, murder, new york, trending, twitter

Is This KFC Ad Racist? [YOUTUBE VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 03:00 PM PST

Is this ad racist? Your opinion might vary depending on your cultural background … and that’s a new reality we’re facing in the YouTube era.

The Australian KFC ad in dispute (below) shows an Australian cricket supporter in a crowd of West Indian fans. Supposedly to make himself more comfortable amid the opposition supporters, he offers up a bucket of “crowdpleaser” fried chicken from KFC.

The ad received no negative response in Australia where it aired, but it soon made its way to YouTube, where it caused controversy.

Cultural Clash

The issue: in the US, there’s an offensive racial stereotype involving fried chicken and African Americans. No such stereotype seems to exist in Australia (and certainly not relating to West Indians), where the ad was intended to air. The result? YouTube has put KFC in the middle of a cultural clash.

Hence we have the Baltimore Sun stating: “If it is a genuine KFC advertisement, it could be seen as racially insensitive” … and KFC replying that it has been “misinterpreted by a segment of people in the US”. In fact, the controversy became so inflamed this week that KFC has pulled the ad in Australia, perturbing some Australian viewers who think US viewers are misinterpreting it (see second video below).

The opposition to the ad may be a minority of the audience, however: a NY Daily News poll has 27% calling the ad racist versus 69% who think it isn’t. It’s unclear how many of those polled were American and how many were Australian.

US Reaction (from The Young Turks)

(Note that The Young Turks received such a negative reaction from their Australian viewers, they posted a followup. They maintain that the ad is racist for spreading US stereotypes.)

Australian Reaction

YouTube’s New Reality

Regardless of whether you find the ad offensive, the event could force ad agencies to consider the global cultural reaction to their campaigns, even for those ads intended for regional audiences.

In the YouTube era, ads made for national markets quickly receive international distribution — sometimes with unintended consequences.

Reviews: Australia, YouTube

Tags: kfc, youtube

Facebook Founder on Privacy: Public is the New “Social Norm”

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 12:40 PM PST

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims that if Facebook was starting out now, sharing with everybody would be the starting point, rather than with a small group of friends. Is this more about reflecting social norms or changing them to help Facebook compete with Twitter?

The statement, made during a livestream of the Crunchies awards, hits on a hot button issue for Facebook: it recently notified users of privacy changes via a pop-up notification. While the message claimed that Facebook was displaying the message to give users more privacy controls, blindly clicking “next” was a way to make much of your data public. And in fact, some data like the Friends List has become more public without any settings changes by users.

Zuckerberg: Sharing is the “Social Norm”

Zuckerberg’s statement to interviewer Michael Arrington avoids any major “gotcha” quotes, subtly implying that Facebook’s move is a reaction to societal changes but carefully avoiding any mention of Twitter’s role in those changes. The full quote, picked up in a very well-written post by Marshall Kirkpatrick this weekend, emphasizes “social norms” and “evolution”:

When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was ‘why would I want to put any information on the Internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?’

And then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.

A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they’ve built, doing a privacy change – doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner’s mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.

Change was Inevitable

Critics of Facebook’s move will probably find support: Facebook’s user base is notoriously resistive to change, and yet nearly every major change, with the exception of the failed Beacon project, has seen a huge surge in popularity for the company. Facebook users were certainly opposed to its expansion beyond colleges, but it’s hard to argue that the service has become less useful as a result.

So now Facebook is becoming a catalyst of social change, a transition that’s likely to be somewhat painful for all of us. Twitter dramatically lowered the barriers to content creation, and thus sharing our day-to-day lives became effortless. But it was Facebook that took the trend mainstream, affecting 300 million+ people worldwide.

My take: Zuck is right, the change was inevitable. If Facebook hadn’t pushed this forward, Google would have inevitably made our lives more public in its quest to make all the world’s information accessible (yes, that includes information about individuals). And if not Google, then Twitter … the trend started there and Twitter’s growth would have gradually defined the standard in sharing.

Public sharing as the default was unavoidable, but Facebook has pushed the trend forward faster than any of us might have expected. It’s a concept that will take some getting used to.

Reviews: Facebook, Google, Twitter

Tags: facebook, mark zuckerberg, Zuckerberg

Free Nexus One Phones for YouTube Partners? [VIDEO]

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 10:49 AM PST

Want a free Google Nexus One? You might be outta luck, but YouTube Partners seem to be receiving exactly that gift from their Googley masters.

These YouTube super-users say they’re receiving the “superphone” along with this note:

Dear YouTube Partners,
We’re pleased to present you with this gift of a Nexus One phone, the new Google-branded mobile device sold only online at google.com/phone. There are no strings attached, it’s just our gift to you for being such an important part of the YouTube Partner Program.

It’s not clear whether everyone in the partner program is receiving a phone, or just a select few (the note implies everyone, we think). That strategy makes sense: YouTube partners have huge influence on the site and may use their phones to film video clips, spreading the message further.

Below, Val from the popular YouTube channel Val’s Art Diary shows off her new Nexus One, courtesy of Google.

[thanks Val for the heads up]

Reviews: Google, YouTube

3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 09:12 AM PST

education imageThe modern American school faces rough challenges. Budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes,  many teachers struggle with poorly motivated students, and in many schools a war is being waged on distracting technologies. In response, innovative educators are embracing social media to fight back against the onslaught of problems. Technologies such as Twitter and Skype offer ideal solutions as inexpensive tools of team-based education.
Pockets of experimentation are emerging all around the world, and I hope to inspire my fellow teachers with some stories of success. From cell phones to social media, below are three schools that have chosen to go with the flow of popular technology to turn the tide for education.

Skype and Language Learning

Why force students to yawn over a textbook when a real-life native speaker is only a Skype call away? At Marquette University, Spanish students hone their foreign language skills with frequent webcam chats with their English-learning counterparts in South America.

“I absolutely fell in love with this program,” wrote one student. Professor Janet Banhidi, the brains behind the virtual language exchange, said Skype conversation gives students a surprisingly authentic experience. As a teacher (and fluent speaker), she can only give her students limited 1-on-1 attention. With Skype, every student has weekly access to a free personal tutor.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using Skype is the radical increase in motivation. A whopping 85.3% of Janet’s students kept in touch with their digital pen-pals outside of the classroom through Facebook. “In the end, the best part of this exchange was gaining a friend who I still today talk with on Facebook” said one student. Additionally, though some of her students enroll to simply fulfill a language requirement, many participants have gone on to major in Spanish from the experience. Students who go above and beyond mandatory assignments will be more likely to remember class material and apply it when they get out into the working world.

Mobile Phones

students mobile

While many schools around the country have declared all-out war on mobile devices, Wiregrass High School took a decidedly different approach, integrating cell phones into the entire educational experience. Students exchange questions and answers with their teachers via SMS and browse classroom blogs for additional instruction. Moreover, as an efficient collaborative tool, students can quickly trade notes or take a snapshot of the blackboard for later studying.

Like with any tool, students do misuse the privilege, but according to the school’s principal the number of cell-phone related infractions is “minuscule.” Perhaps this is because the policy permits students to use cell phones socially between classes, giving them a much needed digital fix throughout the day. Wiregrass’s experience pairs nicely with similar workplace-related research which shows that giving employees periodic down-time with the Internet actually boosts productivity. In the end, fighting pervasive technologies may just sap the energy of everyone involved.


homework tweet

Many universities have internal e-mail systems and message boards. But getting students to routinely check these systems for updates can be a chore. As a college teacher myself, my students have been required to participate in group message boards, which is a poor substitute for genuine intellectual curiosity. As a solution, Leicester University in the UK turned to Twitter, hoping that the popular micro-blogging technology would encourage collaboration outside of class. Students were provided with an iPod touch, given instructional materials, and told they had to make a few academic-related tweets a day. Soon, a thriving community grew, complete with @replies and hashtags flying back-and-forth between participants, tutors, and even members outside of the program. Additionally, the study has become an unexpected marketing boon for the university. The Association for Learning Technology noted in its newsletter:

“One year ago, a Twitter search for ‘University of Leicester’ revealed little of interest. More recent searches reveal a growing volume of conversation between existing students, often across institutional boundaries, and also from prospective students, commenting on perceptions of the University and Higher Education in general.”

The university was impressed by the experiment and has begun collaborating with teachers and staff to extend participation throughout the campus. Leicester University joins the growing ranks of major universities, such as M.I.T., that are preparing students with technological and cooperative skills essential to real-life scientific experimentation.


As social media becomes ubiquitous, students prepared for technological collaboration will graduate with a much-needed edge on the competition. Fortunately, in these economically turbulent times, social media is a free and popular alternative to traditional instruction.

More social media resources from Mashable:

- 5 Tips for Building Lasting Online Friendships
- Top 5 Must-Read Social Media Books
- Social Media Can Change The World Through Common Ground
- 5 Ways Social Media Is Changing Our Daily Lives
- How Social Media is Taking the News Local
- The Tao of Tweeting
- Sports and Social Media: Where Opportunity and Fear Collide

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59, 3bugsmom

Reviews: Facebook, Skype, Twitter, iStockphoto

Tags: education, higher education, iPod Touch, language learning, learning, List, Lists, Mobile 2.0, Skype, students, trending, twitter

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