Now You Can View Facebook Events on a Calendar

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All your events on Facebook can now be viewed on a calendar.

Originally created during one of Facebook’s company hackathons, the new feature gives you the option to see upcoming events — as well as things like friends’ birthdays — on a calendar rather than in Facebook’s traditional list format.

“A couple of us felt there should be a better way for people to see their friends’ birthdays a few days in advance and make plans for the weekend. So we built it,” Bob Baldwin, the Facebook software engineer behind the project said in a blog post on the site.

“Before a recent hackathon, a few of us created a Facebook group called ‘Social Calendar Dreamers’ to spark discussion around making Events more visual,” wrote Baldwin. “At the next hackathon, engineers from the events, photos, messages and other teams hacked through the night to build a better way to view events. By 6 a.m., we had a prototype that worked.”

The new list and calendar view makes it easier to see upcoming birthdays, events, and suggested events. Suggested events are added based on a number of factors such as your friends, pages you like, places where you’ve checked in and the apps you use on Facebook.

You can respond to event invites directly from the calendar view page, without having to ever visit a separate event page.

Calendar view is gradually rolling out to all Facebook users. You can check it out by going to your Events page on Facebook and then clicking the “Calendar” tab on the top left side of the screen.

“The great thing about hackathons is that you get to dive straight into building a concept with your friends without having any concrete plans or directives,” says Baldwin. “It’s pretty cool that a night of hanging out and hacking on an idea can turn into something that my friends and everyone else on Facebook can use.”

Do you have Calendar view for events yet? What do you think of the new look? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, CreativeI

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/11/facebook-events-calendar/

Apple Working On Pandora-Like Service

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apple-spotlight-event-600 We know Apple is vehemently against being copied, but the iPhone maker might be taking a page out of Pandora‘s playbook. It may be, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal, creating a similar service.

The music service from Apple would supposedly work with all Apple’s existing products. It would operate similarly to Pandora in that users could select a musician they like and a station would play songs by similar artists.

The WSJ article says Apple is attempting to negotiate its own licensing deals with record companies as opposed to the government-set rates paid by Pandora. The story also suggests this new service might be unveiled at Apple’s big event next Wednesday, Sept. 12.

Apple’s iTunes is a top destination for song downloads, but streaming audio sites like Pandora and Spotify offer up some competition.

Would you use a music service similar to Pandora, but from Apple? Sound off in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/06/apple-pandora-service/

Apple Removes Green Certification From All Products

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Apple‘s products are no longer considered environmentally friendly after the tech giant asked the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) — the group that sets environmental standards for electronics — to remove all 39 of its products from its green registry.

According to the Wall Street Journal‘s corporate-technology blog, CIO Journal, this request took place toward the end of last month. EPEAT made the announcement last week.

The standards, which were set by manufacturers, advocacy groups and government agencies, state that recyclers need to be able to disassemble products considered green. This means the average person should be able to take apart the green products with common tools in order to separate toxic components, such as batteries. Apple’s new designs do not comply with these standards.

“They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT, told CIO Journal. “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”

Apple once touted its environmental friendliness, especially with its MacBook Pro, which was energy efficient, recyclable and held fewer toxins. Apple also has a section on its website devoted to its recycling program, focusing on smaller impact on the environment.

Apple and EPEAT were not available for comment.

UPDATE: Apple has re-entered its products to the EPEAT registry.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, tbradford and t-lorien

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/09/apple-removes-green-certification/

Meet Nina: Siri’s Cousin for Apps

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Siri may have her critics, but Apple’s talkative virtual assistant is definitely useful for some functions, like checking the weather and texting. Nuance, which works with Apple on voice control, now plans to take Siri-like abilities to more apps.

The product is called Nina, and it’ll let businesses build voice capabilities right into their apps — iOS or Android — via a software development kit (SDK). Nuance says it’s the first voice assistant with an SDK (Siri still doesn’t have one), and Nina obviously has access to all of Nuance’s data on the industries that use its tech: banks, airlines, hotels, retailers and more.

Nina is aimed at the enterprise, essentially taking the automated call center functions you might encounter when calling an 800 number, and putting it into an app.

“Nina takes natural-language understanding, and it provides a way for a developer to add that into an app,” says Robert Weideman, executive vice president of Nuance’s enterprise division.

In a demo at Mashable‘s offices, Nuance reps showed us a mock banking app equipped with Nina. Responding to commands like “Pay my bill,” or even “Pay the full balance on my Visa bill on August first,” Nina performed tasks that would probably take complex navigation in one step.

Nina is dependent on Nuance’s Voice Assistant Cloud, so she won’t work without a network connection. And as we discovered in the demo, her speed and ability to parse longer phrases depend on the quality of that connection. Using a Verizon 3G modem, Nina had trouble figuring out the longer bill-paying command above, but on Wi-Fi she executed it almost instantly.

Nina also happens to sound almost exactly like Siri, though Nuance says businesses will be able to choose from 40 different voices, and even be able to customize it with their own voice “persona,” if they have one.

One of the major differences between Nina and Siri is voice biometrics, which means Nina can actually tell that it’s you talking, and not someone who just picked up your phone. This can act as both a security and convenience feature — after all, passwords become redundant if the app can tell it’s the right person speaking just by voice.

“For the first time on a mobile device, our virtual assistant doesn’t just understand what you said and what you want, we can actually understand who said it,” says Weideman.

Nuance is releasing the SDK for Nina today, and the company says the first crop of apps incorporating the service should arrive in the fall.

What apps would you like to see Nina built into? Share your ideas in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pictafolio

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/05/nuance-nina/

Digg Is Being Rebuilt From Scratch And Needs Your Help

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More than a week after news surfaced that the once popular site Digg was purchased for $500,000 by Betaworks, its new parent company said it will be rebuilding it from scratch in the next six weeks. And it wants your help.

“We are a startup team with ambitious principles and we need to move quickly,” according to the post on rethinkdigg.com. “The old Digg infrastructure was expensive and it afforded us little latitude to innovate and build at a fast clip. So four weeks ago, we set an a aggressive goal to move to a new infrastructure by August 1. We are starting with a fresh code base — it’s modern, it’s fast and it’s shiny and new.”

The team — made of 10 engineers, designers and editors by a team at News.me — said that “after an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled six weeks,” it plans to roll out the latest version.

“With this launch, we’re taking the first step towards (re)making Digg the best place to find, read and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet — and we want your help.”

The company urges Digg fans to take a short survey to help it strategize the redesign. Questions range from evaluating the quality of stories on the homepage, if you would recommend the current version to a friend and what type of phone you own.

“We care because Digg represented the messiness of the Internet at its best,” the site said. “It showed us that, out of the noise and the clutter, between the lolcats and the Kim Kardashian stories, a passionate but uncoordinated group of strangers could come together to create something coherent and substantial.”

It continued: “Alone, each of these individuals had no following, but together they were able to capture a global audience with stories that the mainstream media had mistakenly deemed unimportant. Digg is worth protecting. To do that, we need your help, your input and your support.”

What would you like to see on the new Digg? What worked with the last version and what didn’t? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

BONUS: Digg: The Rise and Fall of an Internet Darling

Don’t Miss These 25 Digital Media Resources

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If this week’s tech news was off your radar because you were catching up on Breaking Bad to prep for Sunday’s finale, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

Our team at Mashable has rounded up the top 25 digital media resources for your reading pleasure. Skim through for articles on nearly impossible mobile games to beat and nine manufacturers who figured out the secrets of tweeting.

Editor’s Picks

  • Now and Then: 10 Classic Video Games That Got a Major Upgrade
    See how far gaming has come when you look at these side-by-side comparisons of retro video games and their modern counterparts.

  • 5 Ways Cities Are Using Big Data
    Big data’s kind of a big deal. Here’s how a few cities are using mass information to make their residents’ lives a little easier.

  • 7 Music Discovery Tools to Find New Tunes
    If you’re on the lookout for new tunes, try these seven websites and apps for social-music discovery.

  • How to Follow Facebook Across Social Media
    If you’re interested in getting all Facebook news, updates and other content in your social stream, then take a look at our guide to all the various accounts you should be liking, following and bookmarking.

  • 10 Moments on Twitter That Will Go Down in History
    These 10 key moments highlight important changes in how Twitter has been viewed and used.

  • Tech

  • The 6 Best Launchers to Turn Your Android Into an iPhone
    Here are six great launchers to make your Android device look more like an iPhone.

  • 5 iOS Settings to Limit Your Child’s Mobile Usage
    Here are five tips on how to use the built-in iOS restrictions to prevent your kids from making a big mess with your Apple device.

  • 6 Creative Hacks for Your Smartphone
    If you’re looking for easy ways to customize your phone without jailbreaking or rooting it, try these hacks and tricks.

  • The 10 Most Beautiful Mobile Games
    Great graphics don’t necessarily make a beautiful mobile game. Check out these 10 games that focus on more than visuals.

  • 10 Cute iPhone Cases for Couples
    To show the world just how synced-up the two of you are, we found an adorable selection of precious pairs of cases that are perfect for couples.

  • 24 Essential Mind Mapping and Brainstorming Tools
    We’ve compiled a list of mind-mapping tools to help you organize, summarize and visualize information.

  • What to Remove First When Your Phone Storage Is Full
    Not enough storage space on your phone? Here’s what you should get rid of first.

  • How to Create Tilt-Shift in Photoshop
    Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to create tilt-shift miniature fakes with just a few effects in Photoshop.

  • 6 Tricks for Instantly Looking Better in Photoshop
    Need a new profile picture? Use these Photoshop tricks to make your pic fashion magazine-worthy.

  • 7 Bright Ways to Use Your iPhone’s LED Light
    Seven fun and practical ways to use the iPhone LED light on the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 for parties, music, and everyday life.

  • 10 Nearly Impossible Mobile Games
    Want a challenge on the go? These mobile games will frustrate and intrigue even the most hardcore gamers.

  • Business

  • Thrillist: From a Simple Newsletter to $80 Million in Revenue
    Ben Lerer and Adam Rich have taken their vision from a simple email newsletter to the multi-brand content and commerce company, Thrillist.

  • The Anatomy of the World’s Top CEOs
    What do the world’s 100 top-performing CEOs have in common? Check out this infographic to find out.

  • How Tech Companies Prepare for Life After the IPO
    A looming IPO can mean extreme changes in the office. Here are how some tech companies have dealt with the pressure.

  • Why Native Advertising Is the Opposite of Porn
    Here’s why native advertising is the opposite of porn.

  • Is It Cool to Work for Yahoo Now?
    In the Marissa-Mayer era, Yahoo is transforming its image as an out-of-touch 90s relic by reworking its flagship web products — Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Mail and more — for the current decade.

  • 9 Manufacturers Doing It Right on Twitter
    The manufacturing industry has a wide-casting net of sectors, jobs and companies. Here are nine manufacturers on Twitter worth your follow.

  • Lifestyle

  • How One Woman Grappled With Grief Through Gaming
    When things couldn’t get worse, Ramona Pringle turned to World of Warcraft for therapeutic escape. Now, she’s sharing what she’s learned through an interactive app.

  • 9 Lifelogging Apps to Log Personal Data
    Want to keep track of your life for posterity, or just get to know your personal habits better? Try these lifelogging apps.

  • 14 Nerdy Places Where You Can Get Your Geek On
    A list of places and events all around the United States geared towards nerd and geek culture.

  • Top News of the Week

  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Bids Tearful Farewell
    Video has surfaced showing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bidding farewell to his employees with his trademark mix of emotion and enthusiastic physicality.

  • Apple Will Pay Some iPad Owners Cash in Legal Settlement
    Consumers who purchased an iPad 3G before June 7, 2010, are eligible to receive cash and discounts from Apple and AT&T after a lawsuit was settled Friday.

  • BlackBerry Agrees to Be Acquired for $4.7 Billion
    Fairfax Financial Holdings has agreed to acquire BlackBerry in a deal worth $4.7 billion.

  • Image: Flickr, jakobhans

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/09/29/25-digital-media-resources-3/

    Create Your Own 4D Stories With Meograph

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    Everyone enjoys digesting interactive stories, although the creation process can be incredibly tedious.

    Meograph, a new tool launching Monday, makes it easy for anyone to make and share multimedia stories using four dimensions — facts, multimedia, interactivity and context.

    Founder Misha Leybovich invisions Meograph to be a great product for journalists, educators and people looking to share travel stories.

    “Everyone’s creative and has a story to tell, but not everyone has the skills to use professional tools like Final Cut Pro,” Leybovich told Mashable. “We’ve made it easy to create a professional story, using simple structured prompts.”

    According to Leybovich, the two most viral types of media are videos and infographics. Meograph, he says, hits the communications sweet spot by featuring both.

    The tool uses Google Earth and a timeline interface to show where and when events in a story unfolded.

    Creating a complete presentation could take 10 minutes, which is quite fast considering it could take a news professional a full day to make a similar multimedia story from scratch.

    Take a look at one of Meograph’s demos, created to show how the events surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, played out.

    As part of the product’s launch, you can now create your own 4D story, by adding events, links, photos and video. You can then embed your Meograph creation on any site or social network.

    As of launch, you can only create Meograph stories using Google Chrome, though you can view a finished product in any browser.

    Would you use this tool to tell stories? Let us know if this would be helpful to you in the comments.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/23/meograph/

    Want to Hear a Song? Tweet at This Piano

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    Pianos that play themselves were the coolest thing since sliced bread at the turn of the 20th century. Perforated metallic rolls dictated which hammers would strike and when. Purchase the encoded roll with your favorite ragtime ditty and let ‘er rip — great for your formal parlor.

    Those programmable canisters were the precursor to modern music sequencing. In the digital world, we use MIDI files — codes that tell virtual oboes and cellos when to chime in during a composition. Folks at the creative agency Digital Kitchen made the connection between old school player pianos and digital music composition. They even put a social spin on it.

    Meet Stanley, an interactive player piano. Tweet a request to @StanleyPiano and the song will queue up for performance. Online, you can watch Stanley play the songs at his (its?) live debut at the Capitol Hill Block Party, a music festival that kicks off Friday, July 20 in Seattle, Wash. The account will tweet at you when your song is up next.

    Right now, Stanley’s repertoire is limited to the indie artists performing at the festival, but it “grows with every tweet,” says David Mikula, creative director of the project. “Stanley plays MIDI files. To build his repertoire, we had to transcribe piano renditions of these songs by ear and hand using an 88-key MIDI controller and Logic Pro. Song requests from Twitter are rolling in constantly. People want to hear Stanley play songs from every genre and musical era. Luckily, there are huge MIDI databases of popular music online, which we combed through to also include in his song catalog. We also couldn’t resist including some of our own personal favorites.”

    So while building the catalog is a manual musical endeavor, Mikula aims to make the Twitter request process more streamlined. “A custom moderation tool named S.T.A.N.F.O.R.D. allows a team to curate the experience. Any part of the process that isn’t automated is meant to be personalized. All direct communication is handled by our team — whether that be an @reply when Stanley doesn’t know how to play a track, or when Stanley has to call out a drunken Block Party attendee in the blue shirt for spilling beer on his stage.”

    There’s no limit to the queue, according to Mikula. “Stanley is a crowd pleaser. He’ll make his way through as many songs as possible before the weekend is over.”

    Stanley is a player piano by birth, but he can no longer read piano rolls. “The fact that he already had all the mechanics to play notes himself made it much easier for us to modify this existing system and drop in his new electronic components.” After his debut at the Block Party, Stanley will be waiting at the Digital Kitchen office in Seattle for his next big gig.

    Well, what are you waiting for? Tweet your favorite NKOTB jam at Stanley and tune in this weekend to hear the results.

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    Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/18/stanley-player-piano/

    Developer Tips for the New iOS 6 App Store

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    Apple’s iOS 6 means big changes for iTunes, and developers have to adapt.

    There are optimizations for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 that users will expect. But there are changes in the new App Store that developers need to be aware of as well.

    Some of these changes you can see right away when navigating the redesigned App Store. Others take a little more digging and the rest are really only known by Apple but will affect your game or app, too.

    The Redesigned App Store

    One of the nice things about the redesign is that users now pretty much get the same experience no matter which device they use. And that experience brings several new things.

    Search results are now displayed “Cards-style.” No more lists showing 25 results for a search. Results are now displayed showing “cards” for each app. After a search, users see one result on iPhone and six on the iPad. On the iPhone, users have to swipe to see each additional result.

    If you’re ranking between #11 and #100 under a keyword (or a combination of keywords), your organic downloads are most likely to be affected. That’s why you might want to choose keywords for which your app appears in the top 10 results. Also, make sure your first screenshot really shows what your app is all about.

    Categories are now hidden. Search was already estimated to account for 63% of app discovery, according to Nielsen. With this change we can expect users to do more search and less browsing.

    Apple bets on Genius for app discovery. Categories have been replaced by Genius, and that shows Apple trusts its algorithm to help with app discovery.

    The Redesigned App Details Page

    Several things have changed in the way a specific app is displayed, which are impacting App Store Optimization.

    Screenshots are more important as they are now displayed above the description. Make sure they are relevant and put them in an order that allows users to understand how your app or game works. Once again, text can help understand game play and features. You have to use them as advertising.

    As only the first lines of your description now appear on iPhone and iPad, you have to get them right. And don’t overlook the “What’s New” section, as Apple has made it almost as important as your description. Show that your app is getting better and being updated.

    Reviews have now their own tab, which is great news. An “App Support” button appears next to the “Write a Review” one, so make sure you’ve specified a support address in iTunes and that it leads to a page where users can get help or contact you. Facebook integration in iOS 6 also means that users can “Like” your app. It might not be as important as reviews, but you can reach out to your community so you get as many likes as possible (who knows, Apple might use that in its ranking/search algorithm soon).

    The Modified Search Algorithm

    What people call the “Chomp” update started back in June, and we can expect it to keep changing the way search works. App Store Optimization experts like Appcod.es, SearchMan or MobileDevHQ have noticed several changes.

    As plural form is now handled better, you can use single form to save some precious characters in your keywords. Also, don’t waste keywords on words like “game,” “center” or “free” (or even your category name). Apple adds them automatically. Finally, the time when your in-app purchase names served as keywords seems to be over.

    According to SearchMan, another potential game changer is the fact that Apple might start taking into account external reviews of your game or app (as Chomp as been reported to do). In that scenario, a review would be an additional signal for Apple that your app is relevant.

    These are the main changes and impacts on developers and App Store Optimization that have been observed so far. There are some things you can act on now, and some that are outside of your control. This new App Store and its search algorithm are kind of a big deal, and we can expect more changes to come so make sure you stay ahead of the curve to keep your app or game in the race.

    This article originally published at Gamezebo
    here

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/26/ios-6-app-store-developer-tips/

    Researchers Design Bio-Bot Able To Move On Its Own

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    Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a so-called “bio-bot,” a 3D printed, 7-mm long biological machine. Made with hydrogel and rat heart cells, it can walk on its own. The project aims to imitate nature to create more efficient robots that have a variety of applications.

    “The idea is that, by being able to design with biological structures, we can harness the power of cells and nature to address challenges facing society,” said Rashid Bashir, the project’s lead researcher. “As engineers, we’ve always built things with hard materials, materials that are very predictable. Yet there are a lot of applications where nature solves a problem in such an elegant way. Can we replicate some of that if we can understand how to put things together with cells?”

    The robot has a long thin leg covered with rat heart cells, that rests on another rigid supporting leg. To move, the heart cells beat, causing the leg to pulse, which in turn springs the rest of the body forward. This technology can potentially be applied to medical sensors and toxin clean ups.

    Check out the video, above, to see the bio-bot in action.

    Image courtesy of Elise A. Corbin, University of Illinois

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/20/researchers-design-bio-bot-able-to-move-on-its-own-video/