Saturday, 20 November 2010

Make Thanksgiving A Social Experience!

On the fourth Thursday of every November, Americans engage in an annual feast that reminds us of our country’s humble origins, and give us a good reason to get together with family, watch football and stuff our faces until our pants don’t fit. It’s the official start to the holiday season, and it can either be a fantastic day full of food, family and fun, or a total nightmare full of burnt turkeys and busted travel plans.
Fortunately, you can always turn to the social web to help you plan for the big day. In fact, the InternetInternet can help you prepare a feast, assist you with your T-day travel and keep you entertained once the pie is gone and the plates are cleared. And that’s definitely something to be thankful for.

Cooking the Perfect Feast

There are plenty of ways to use the web to put together the perfect Thanksgiving dinner by yourself.  With aholiday menu planner that helps you balance all your guests’ distinct dietary needs and the Food Network’s comprehensive Thanksgiving 2010 guide, the web will have you well-equipped to whip up a fabulous feast in no time. And it can even help you handle the tough stuff, like picking the perfect Thanksgiving station on Pandora, feeding your vegetarian guests and decorating your house for the holiday.
Sometimes, you don’t want the entire weight of the meal to fall on your shoulders alone — especially when that meal includes a 20-pound turkey. Fortunately, the web can help you out with that too. If you decide you want your dinner to be a potluck, you can use SignUpGenius or GroupSched to create interactive online sign-up sheets so your guests know what they should bring.
Evite also has a wide selection of potluck-specific invites, and there’s even an entire site devoted to helping you put together the perfect potluck party.
You can also supplement a few home-cooked dishes with help from your local Whole Foods or send someone a helping hand with a meal via Send A Meal’s Thanksgiving specials, both of which have online ordering and home delivery. Vons and Boston Market both offer full Thanksgiving meal options for your perusal online.
Regardless of how you slice it, cook it or get your friends to pitch in, there are plenty of ways the web can help you save money on your Thanksgiving meal, from budget meal plans, to Thanksgiving grocery coupons, to the growing industry of mobile coupon apps that let you take advantage of Thanksgiving specials from store to store via your smartphone. One man has even decided to blog about using coupons to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal for six people on a $5 budget. Then again, if you decide you don’t want to cook at all, websites like and CitySearch can help you find restaurants serving the traditional T-day meal. Homemade food is sweet, but spending more time relaxing than basting a turkey might just be sweeter.

Taming the T-Day Travel

Of course, if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving at your house, then your first priority might be getting those T-day travel plans in order. There are plenty of ways the web can help you save on fall travel in general, from websites that help you find cheap airfare to the GasBuddy app for iPhone and Android, which helps you locate the cheapest place to fill up on that long trip over the river and through the woods.
BeatTheTraffic is another great online travel resource that tells you what the congestion looks like on your local travel routes, and there’s a companion app that will give you updated traffic info on the go. Similarly, the Airport Flight Delays app will let you know in advance when to expect a delay so you can plan accordingly. And, in case you need to make a last-minute travel adjustment, HopStop will help you out with online public transit directions for many cities, which you can also access on the go via an iPhone app or by using its SMS feature.
No matter how you travel, don’t forget to bring your host or hostess a gift. Etsy has some fantastic handmadeholiday-themed options, including everything from embroidered turkey toilet paper to sweet centerpieces. And of course, nothing says “Thanks for having me for Thanksgiving” quite like the gift of a membership to the Pie of the Month Club, which buys your generous host all sorts of pie-related goodies, plus the monthly delivery of a fresh pie recipe, so he or she can start practicing for the dessert portion of next year’s feast.

When You Can’t Eat Another Bite

There’s always the question of what to do when dinner is over. Sure, there’s football on TV and pants that need unbuttoning, but what else?
A simple Google search proves that the web is full of Thanksgiving craft ideas, but there are plenty of other activities to keep you occupied if you’re not the crafting type. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to give back, and the web can help you find food drivessoup kitchens and more to volunteer at. You can also searchFacebook and Eventbrite event listings to find Thanksgiving meals and charity events looking for volunteers.
Another classic Thanksgiving activity is sharing the things you’re thankful for, and, of course, the web makes it easier to do that too. TurkeyTwitter actually aggregates all the tweets with Thanksgiving and thankfulness-themed hashtags, making it easy to browse the things people are thankful for and share them with your friends and family. Facebook also has a number of Thanksgiving apps to play with, and you can find some cool turkey-themed flash games to play online, including one deceptively difficult combo of turkeys and Tetris.
Get creative with your guests and play Thanksgiving-related trivia games by printing facts about turkeysT-Dayand even the Macy’s parade balloons and quizzing each other Jeopardy-style.
No matter what you do this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to give thanks for the world wide web. Because without it, planning for Thanksgiving would be a pretty thankless task indeed. - The Best in Social Business

Top Twitter Trends This Week

If you think Twitter trends are all about tween pop sensations and low brow hashtagery, you’re — well, you’re mostly right. But not this week.
Twitter once again showed its international breadth and taste for breaking news with the top topic of conversation being the release of Myanmar dissident Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest after what many reports claim has been nearly 15 of the last 20 years. Suu Kyi has opposed her country’s ruling military junta, and her steadfastness has earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, among other recognitions from the international community. Her release was discussed and celebrated around the world, earning the number one spot on the trends chart this week.
Other hot topics included the announcement of a royal wedding in the UK, and some contentious bouts in the world of boxing, a sport that rarely hits the trending charts on Twitter, but came in at number three this week.
Curious about the rest of the week’s top Twitter topics? Check out the full list below, aggregated by our friends over at What The Trend. Because this is a topical list, hashtag memes and games have been omitted from the chart.
You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section as well as read more about this past week’s trends on What The Trend.

Top Twitter Trends This Week: 11/13 – 11/19

Top Index This Week
Aung San Suu Kyi
Military authorities in Myanmar have signed an order authorizing the release of pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, according to news reports.
Royal Wedding
Prince William, the second in line to the throne of the British Royal Family, announced his engagement to Kate Middleton. The wedding will be held in Spring or Summer of 2011.
Manny Pacquiao earns his 8th title via a unanimous decision after his fight against Antonio Margarito. After boxer Manny Pacquiao’s decisive victory, the sports talk turns to the only likely fighter left for him to face, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather.
Eid ul-Adha
Eid Mubarak is a traditional Muslim greeting reserved for use on the festivals of Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr. The phrase translates into English as "blessed festival," and can be paraphrased as "may you enjoy a blessed
festival." Eid ul-Adha is being observed this year from November 17 to November 20.
In football, top trends centered around Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick facing Washinton Redskins quarterback (and ex-Eagles QB) Donovan McNabb. The Eagles went on to win over the Redskins, 59-28.
Harry Potter
Part one of the seventh film in the series, Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, debuted in theaters on November 19.
Officials announced the first-round groups of the 2011 Copa América South American football championship. It will be held in Argentina this time. Other top mentions were Marcelo Bielsa and Manuel Preciado, coach of Real Sporting de Gijón.
Tony Parker-Eva Longoria
Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and his wife Eva Longoria (best known for her role on Desperate Housewives) have filed for divorce.
Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers is, again, out for the season with a knee injury, and the Los Angeles Lakers were defeated by the Denver Nuggets.
Ryan Reynolds
People Magazine has selected Ryan Reynolds as the Sexiest Man Alive. - The Best in Social Business

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Google Pours Another 3.2 Million Into Start Up

SEATTLE — Google Inc.'s venture capital arm, Google Ventures, invested $3.2 million in a genetics startup run by Google CEO Sergey Brin's wife in November, bringing the Web search leader's total investments in 23andMe Inc. to $10.2 million.
In a Securities and Exchange filing, Google said it participated in a Series C preferred financing round and continues to hold a minority stake in 23andMe. In a separate SEC filing, 23andMe reported it raised a total of $22.2 million in the round.
Google said its audit committee approved the investment. A new lead investor determined the valuation of the Series C investment, and not Google, according to the Web search company. It did not name the new lead investor.
Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe, is married to Brin, who personally invested about $3.4 million in the financing.
The startup offers genetic testing for people interested in what diseases they might be genetically predisposed to, or for people who want to learn more about their ancestry. The tests cost between $400 and $500. - The Best in Social Business

Monday, 15 November 2010

Facebook Says...Email is Dead.

Email is too slow and formal and will eventually follow the letter into extinction, says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The youthful billionaire made the claims as he launched the social networking site's new messaging service, which integrates all web and text-based communications and works instantaneously.
The service, perceived as a direct rival to Google's Gmail, marks a new front in the ongoing and increasingly bitter battle between Facebook and Google to gain the loyalty of users.
Domination: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talks about the new messaging service rumoured to be a 'Gmail-killer'
Domination: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talks about the new messaging service rumoured to be a 'Gmail-killer'
Zuckerberg revealed that, just as was rumoured, the 500million people signed up to Facebook will have access to a ‘’ email address.
Entire conversation histories going back years will also be saved into users’ accounts and Spam will be completely filtered out, he claimed.
'We don’t think that a modern messaging system is going to be email,'
Zuckerberg said at a press conference in San Francisco.
'We want people to be able to communicate in whatever way they choose: email, text or Facebook message.'
At the moment Facebook users are able to contact one another by either posting on each other's wall or by Facebook's own internal messaging service.
Battling Google: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured earlier this year, has launched a new messaging service which could rival Google's Gmail
Battling Google: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured earlier this year, has launched a new messaging service which could rival Google's Gmail
Facebook’s new email system is modelled on instant messaging and on-line chat and will allow people to simplify their communications regardless of how they choose to do it.
Texts, email or instant messages will all come into one ‘feed’ and users can respond in any way they want.
One person could text a friend, for example, who will see the message come up on their Facebook page instantly and respond via an instant message or email.
Zuckerberg said that he was changing Facebook because young people found email was too much of a ‘cognitive load’.
He said of the new programme: ‘It’s not email. It handles email... along with all the different ways you want to communicate.
'It’s true people are going to be able to have email addresses but this is not email. Email is one way people are going to use this system, but we don’t even think it’s going to be primary way that people use this system.
‘The goal of this product is to make it that we can seamlessly integrate across all of these different products very easily.’
He added that he did not think there would be an overnight e-mail exodus but that young people have ‘suddenly shifted towards real-time communications’ and he had to respond.
Commenting on the launch on Monday, Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, said: 'An email service from Facebook makes a lot of sense. 
'It has a huge base of 500 million users that already love to communicate and share, and Facebook is giving them richer ways to do this through virtual gifts, games, location and even voice thanks to the recent integration deal with Skype.
'Adding email to the mix is a logical step and Facebook could tap into user data to provide an attractive, highly personalised service. You would also expect it to push mobile features given its big move in this direction. '
Woman using iPad computer
The other major change to Facebook is the introduction of the conversation history tool - rather than multiple emails on different email accounts or old text messages scattered over a number of phones, users will instead have a single thread of their conversations between another person.
Facebook’s director of engineering Andrew Bosworth said that over the course of time, users could look back on their relationships with friends going back years in a modern-day version of keeping letters in a box.
The third feature will be the ‘Social Inbox’ which will split the user’s email inbox up into three categories: Friends, general email and junk.
Only emails from the people you request will come through your friends inbox leaving you to dip into the other email whenever you wanted.
The move will certainly alarm Facebook's nearest rivals such as Yahoo and Google.
In recent months the relationship between Facebook and Google has become increasingly fraught amid the poaching of staff and efforts to throw up barricades to prevent users from easily shifting information, such as email contact lists, between the two platforms.
The changes to Facebook have been under development for more than a year and will be rolled out over the forthcoming months on an invite-only basis before going worldwide.
Last week, Google began blocking a Facebook feature that allows users to automatically import Gmail contact data into the social networking service.
Google accused Facebook of siphoning up Google data without allowing for the automatic import and export of Facebook users' information.
They are also increasingly vying for engineering talent in Silicon Valley. This week, Google internally announced plans to boost salaries by 10 per cent, according to media reports, in a move viewed as an effort to staunch an exodus of engineers and managers to Facebook.
Google has banned Facebook from importing its users' e-mail contacts, a move it says it made because Facebook refused to allow the export of contact and friend data from within user profiles.
A new style of messaging: Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook's newest feature in San Francisco
A new style of messaging: Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook's newest feature in San Francisco
The expected announcement by Facebook comes as former internet big-hitter AOL is opening the doors to its new web-based e-mail program, code-named Project Phoenix, for a limited number of users. Starting next year, anyone will be able to sign up for access to a beta test site.
The Project Phoenix inbox page was designed to make it easier to fire off a quick email, text or instant message with just a few clicks on a ‘quick bar’ at the top of the page.
People can also send short replies directly from the inbox page, without having to click on a message first. The new design displays thumbnails of recent photo attachments at a glance, and lets people toggle between several open e-mails at a time.

Read more: - The Best in Social Business

Facebook Passes Ebay in Value

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, smiles with unidentified co-workers at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2010. – Facebook’s estimated market value has shot past eBay’s, making it the third most valuable web company. Shares of the privately held company are now trading at more than $16 on SecondMarket, sources tell Bloomberg, which would make the overall company worth $41 billion—behind only Amazon ($74.4 billion) and the big kid on the block, Google ($192.2 billion).

SecondMarket doesn’t publicly release trading data, but Bloomberg’s source said Facebook’s price has tripled over the past year. Another private exchange estimates Facebook’s value at $40.9 billion, and says it’s shot up nearly 50% in the past month alone. Those valuations might change drastically on the open market, however. “It could be a bargain at $41 billion,” says one IPO consultant. Then again, Facebook doesn’t disclose financial information, and a spokesman cautioned that all external value estimates are “fundamentally speculative.” - The Best in Social Business

Friday, 12 November 2010

Facebook To Launch Email On Monday

The secret product Facebook will announce on Monday is, in fact, its new email system, 
says TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid.
Given that Facebook has already replaced email for many younger Internet users--and become the "start-page" and communications hub for many of the rest--it makes great sense for Facebook to offer a full-fledged email product.
If Facebook offers a good email platform (easier said than done), the product could gradually have a devastating impact on Gmail, YahooAOL, Hotmail, and other email systems.
In so doing, it could also hammer their financial performance. Yahoo and AOL, especially, generate an enormous number of page views (and, thereby, ad impressions) from their email users. As these users migrate to other platforms, they take their impressions with them. 
The mass exodus from AOL Mail has played a big role in the company's financial collapse in recent years, and Yahoo Mail has begun to see the same sort of erosion.  Thus far, the defectors have generally gone to Google.  If Facebook's email client is strong, many of them will now likely go to Facebook.
Knowing Facebook, it will likely put a twist on the normal email experience, and the way it integrates the main Facebook service will be critical to the product's success.

Read more: - The Best in Social Business