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What’s America’s Most Engaging Social Network? You’ll Be Surprised

Try to guess America’s most engaging social network.Facebook? Wrong. Twitter? Wrong. Pinterest? Wrong again. According to comScore‘s most recent social networking data, from the month of March, the San Francisco based site Tagged engages users like no other service. It was the only site to finish in the top two in both of comScore’s engagement metrics.
Tagged users visited an average of 18 times each during March according to ComScore, second only to Facebook’s average of 36 visits per vistor. And each time a Tagged user visited the site, he or she stuck around for 12.1 minutes — which trailed only Tumblr (14.7 minutes) and beat out Facebook (10.9 minutes).
Tagged co-founder and CEO Greg Tseng says he’s happy about ComScore’s March data, but that his company has been among America’s most engaging social networks for about a year now. The secret to Tagged’s success? A pivot Tseng and co-founder Johann Schleier-Smith made around the beginning of 2008.
The longtime friends started Tagged in 2004, at the time angling it to be a Facebook-like social network for high schoolers. Eventually, however, Facebook expanded beyond a closed college network and allowed anyone over the age of 12 to join.
“We took a hard look and decided we weren’t going to win,” Tseng says. “But we had found out a lot of our users were actually using Tagged to meet new people, so that led us to pivot into a new space called ‘social discovery,’ where people use sites to make new social relationships.”
As opposed to sites like Facebook, where people primarily organize and maintain relationships established offline, Tagged functions mostly as a portal to meet new people online for romance or simply friendship. The site’s algorithms encourage users to connect based on shared interests, tastes and hobbies.
Tseng says Tagged’s 10 million core monthly active users form an average of 100 million new connections per month. The site has been profitable since 2008, and over the past year tripled its staff to a current count of more than 170.
With social discovery as a whole seen by many to be a rising tide, Tseng believes Tagged’s success will continue to grow.
“If I look out at the next five or 10 years, I really see social discovery as big as social networking — in some sense I think you can think of social discovery as the engine for social networking,” he says, referencingDunbar’s number, which theorizes that humans can maintain an average of 150 connections at a time.
“Facebook is the place where you maintain your current 150,” he says. “And Tagged will be the place where you refresh that 150.”

How Instagram Took America by Storm

Have you caught Instagram fever?
The flaming hot mobile app and recent $1 billion Facebook acquisition now has more than 40 million users.
This Online Colleges infographic shares some impressive stats behind the viral mobile photography app. Instagram gains one new user every second. One billion photos have been taken with the app — that’s roughly 58 photos uploaded each second.
Instagram’s on track to hit 100 million users — joining the ranks of LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook — two years after its initial iOS launch in October 2010.
The infographic, created by an online university database, focuses on college students’ adoption of the app. It suggests professors and campus professionals use Instagram to foster community through photo contests. It also recommends that students follow professors to learn about their interests outside of the classroom.
How have you seen colleges use Instagram? Do you think students and professors should interact on social networks?
 Instagram Nation: The Smartphone Photographer’s App of Choice


How smart is the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy S3, revealed a couple of days ago, definitely sports some of the best hardware specs around, but it also looks like Samsung have managed to integrate software functions that give a new meaning for the word “smart” in smartphones. Marketed by Samusng as human-centric functions, these are features exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S3. On a personal level, I feel like the smart features on the Samsung Galaxy S3 represent a major improvement towards simplifying tasks on your smartphone. Granted, we expect more from a thinking smartphone, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
So let’s take a quick look at the software functions that make the Galaxy S3 a truly unique smartphone:

S Voice

Voice recognition software has been available in some form or another for the past decade, but it was Apple’s Siri personal voice assistant that has first brought together voice recognition and smartphone usage. As Siri was a major marketing factor for the iPhone 4S, Samsung have decided to come up with a personal voice assistant of their own. Dubbed S-Voice, this feature of the S3 allows you to control your smartphone only by using your voice. Commands can be personalized, but possible uses for S-Voice include unlocking the smartphone, launching apps, taking pictures with the 8MP camera, music control (such as stop, play, pause and skip), snoozing the alarm, turning on the Wi-Fi /Bluetooth and more. S-Voice is available in the following languages: British, USA English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and Korean.

Social Tag

Possibly one of the most interesting intelligent functions of the Galaxy S3 is the social tagging feature. According to Samsung, the Galaxy S3 is capable of identifying and properly tagging the people in your photos as long as you have them added as contacts (with an attached picture). If this face recognition software works as Samsung claims it does, it is one of the most interesting smartphone capabilities ever. The Social Share ability takes matters one step further, by allowing you to instantly share the pictures with the contacts the S3 has recognized in the photo.

Direct Call

Direct Call allows you to make a call simply by lifting the phone to your ear while writing a message to someone, or while specific contact details are brought up to the display. Just lift, and speak. Personally, I can think of many scenarios where this could go wrong and I’m not actually sure that the couple of extra touches that you save are really all that important, but it is a nice feature to have.

Smart Stay

This is definitely the most useful of all the smart functions available on the Galaxy S3. Smart Stay detects if the user is looking at the display and keeps the display from timing out until the user looks away. A very useful feature for those of us that regularly read text on our smartphones, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Smart Alerts

If you’ve been away from your smartphone for a while, it’s possible that you have missed a few calls and messages. Granted, Android smartphones always notified you of the stuff you missed, but the Galaxy S3 takes one step further and vibrates to inform you of the action that happened while you were away. Not exactly the most revolutionary of features!

Microsoft: Macs 'not safe from malware, attacks will increase'

Summary: Microsoft has discovered a new piece of Mac malware that exploits a three-year-old flaw in old versions of Office for Mac. The company recommends Mac users to keep installed software updated.

Microsoft researchers have analyzed a new piece of Mac malware that uses a multi-stage attack similar to typical Windows malware infection routines. In a post titled “An interesting case of Mac OSX malware” the Microsoft Malware Protection Center closed with this statement:
In conclusion, we can see that Mac OSX is not safe from malware. Statistically speaking, as this operating system gains in consumer usage, attacks on the platform will increase. Exploiting Mac OSX is not much different from other operating systems. Even though Mac OSX has introduced many mitigation technologies to reduce risk, your protection against security vulnerabilities has a direct correlation with updating installed applications.
So, what was the piece of code that caused Microsoft to write this? The malware in question uses a stack-based buffer overflow as an entry point for executing two-stage shellcode on a Mac that eventually leads to the installation of a bot that connects to a remote command-and-control (C&C) server. Thankfully, the exploit in this specific piece of malware only works on Snow Leopard and older versions of Mac OS X because the particular address it uses to write to isn’t writable in Lion.
Here’s the software giant’s description:
Firstly, the vulnerability is a stack-based buffer overflow - the attack code could corrupt variables and return addresses located on the stack. As we analyzed the malware, we found that the malware author managed to corrupt a local variable and used that corrupted variable to deploy ’stage 1′ shellcode to a designated area. This corrupted variable is later used for a target address and is where the stage 1 shellcode is copied. The corrupted return address points to this target address as well.
This target address is important, as, with Snow Leopard, we could confirm that it was used to exploit a specific location on the heap that is writable and also executable. The point is, that with Lion, that specific memory address can’t be written, so the exploit fails.
We can assume that this malware itself is targeting only Snow Leopard or lower versions of Mac OSX. That means the attacker had knowledge about the target environment beforehand. That includes the target operating system, application patch levels, etc.
This stage 1 shellcode leads to stage 2 shellcode, which is located in memory. The stage 2 shellcode is actually where the infection of the system occurs.
If you want to check for this particular malware, you’ll want to know that it creates the following three files:
  • /tmp/launch-hs
  • /tmp/launch-hse
  • /tmp/file.doc
Each of the files on the infected machine performs a separate function. The file called “launch-hse” is the end payload of the attack. It communicates with the C&C server controlled by the attacker, which can perform a number of actions on the infected machine, including deleting files, gathering information about the OS and hardware, as well as uninstalling itself from the Mac.
While this is all certainly interesting, I’m most concerned that this malware uses a three-year-old flaw in Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, and Open XML File Format Converter for Mac. Here’s the corresponding security bulletin: MS09-027 - Critical.
Why is this a big deal? For one, Microsoft patched this flaw 35 months ago. Secondly, this particular security hole was exploited by a different piece of Mac malware just a few weeks ago. That’s worrying. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
You’ll need to update Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. Thankfully, this security vulnerability is from June 2009, so if you keep your Microsoft software patched, you should be good to go.
The same advice applies. Unfortunately, it appears that many Mac users, just like many Windows users, don’t keep their software up-to-date.

Will Windows 8 PCs cost too much at launch?

Microsoft has a lot riding on its slick new Windows 8 OS, as does the entire PC industry. Butaccording to a DigiTimes report, we shouldn’t necessarily expect a wave of new low-priced computers running the operating system at launch.
The article cites the usual unnamed “supply chain” sources saying that laptop makers are concerned about the higher costs of supporting Windows 8’s touch-screen capabilities, as well as tacking on the cost on the new OS itself. The result could be prices for snazzy new laptop/tablet hybrids that are higher than the mainstream will tolerate, at least when Windows 8 initially ships. (As one commenter has already noted below, there will of course be many Windows 8 PCs that aren’t touch enabled, but Microsoft has made the touch capabilities a major selling point for the new OS.)
Those concerns add to an already tough position notebook manufacturers find themselves in withIntel-based Ultrabooks, which have been slow to fall in price for many models. Margins arealready razor-thin, as Intel reportedly keeps processor prices high, and may only shrink as the cost of Windows 8 is factored in.
The result, according to DigiTimes, could be that demand for Windows 8 PCs may not pick up steam until 2013, which wouldn’t bode well for Microsoft or computer manufacturers. Would Microsoft take a page out of Intel’s playbook, and help manufacturers out with large marketing subsidies to keep costs as low as possible for Windows 8 systems?
These pricing issues may not matter much to users, since nearly half of them still use Windows XP. How much are you willing to spend on a new Windows 8 PC?

Turn your iPad into a scanner, copier, and fax with Scanner Pro

Summary: This inexpensive app turns the iPad (iPhone too) into a full-featured scanner that connects to the cloud. It prints to make copies and can fax documents cheaply over the web.
Freelancers and others who work from home sometimes need standard business tools such as scanners, copiers, and fax machines. These can be expensive, especially since most aren’t needed very often. A cheap app for the iPad can turn it into all of those office tools.
Scanner Pro ($6.99) uses the iPad (or iPhone) camera to snap high-resolution images from documents. I prefer the iPad with Scanner Pro as the larger display makes it easier to manipulate the recorded document.

Once a document is snapped using the app, it can be sent to the cloud (Evernote, DropBox, Google Docs) for storage. The scanned document can be printed to any printer that supports Air Print, turning the iPad into a simple copier.
Documents can also be sent directly to any computer over the local Wi-Fi network. This is an easy way to get PDFs into the computer using just the iPad.
Scanned documents can also be faxed over the web for $0.99 handled as an in-app purchase. The fax recipient can be manually entered or picked from the user’s contact list. The faxes are sent in just a few seconds once paid for in the app.
When a document is snapped by the app (multiple pages are supported), the app automatically determines the document borders before saving. They are clearly marked on the document image and can be easily moved by touch. This is important as it provides a great way to limit a copy/ fax to only a portion of a scanned page if desired.
Scanner Pro can save scanned documents as either JPEG images or PDF documents. It is possible to open the scanned image in an appropriate app for handling the selected document type from within Scanner Pro. This allows further manipulation of the resultant file when necessary.
The iPad with Scanner Pro has been serving me as a capable scanner, copier, and fax machine for a while. I don’t need any of these functions often, but when I do this method works quite well and for a low cost. Just as importantly it takes almost no desk space, unlike the equipment it has replaced.

10 Apps for the Chef and Foodie

Doyou ever wonder why food at restaurants is so much better than what you make at home? Honest chefs will tell you that, outside of skill and knowledge, they just have better tools at their disposal. In lieu of spending a fortune on buying your own mandolin, beurre mixer and a really expensive set of chef knives, check out some of the top apps for chefs and foodies. You will be on your way to creating culinary masterpieces in no time. 

Matthew Kenney's Raw Express

($4.99 -- iPad)
Raw food is terrific for you. Raw food is also very difficult to make right if you want to do more than just gnaw on carrot sticks all the time. Chef Matthew Kenney has a new iPad app that takes you through the basics of raw food preperation. There are 12 full-length videos (like, how to crack a coconut, which is a lot harder than you might think), 45 recipes, nutritional information and shopping list integration. Raw-food diets are tough to maintain and even harder to keep creative. Pick this one up if you are interested in a raw-food diet or if you are just trying to impress that special someone with your knowledge of raw-food preperation. Hey, everybody loves a cook with a little bit of an esoteric repetoire. 

Food Network: Cupcakes!

($2.99 -- iPad)
If you keep up with the hottest culinary trends, you know that cupcakes are all the rage these days (along with gourmet food trucks). This app has more than 100 cupcake and frosting recipes for those of us with a wicked sweet tooth. There is a frosting guide, a decorating guide, an ingredients guide and more. This one could be serious trouble for those of us trying to watch our weight. 

Food Network: In The Kitchen

($1.99 -- iPhone/iPad, Android)
If you are a foodie and watch the Food Network and do not like Alton Brown, there is something completely wrong with you. Now, you can cook just like Brown, too. There are thousands of recipes that can be saved and modified. Shopping and comparison lists help you get the right recipe with the right ingredients for just the right occasions. There are ads in the app, even though it is a paid app, which turns some people off. Otherwise, In The Kitchen is a fine resource for the amateur cook. Dinner Spinner

(Free -- iPhoneAndroid)
This app has been around for a while, but it is still a good one. Don't know what to cook? Give your phone a shake and come up with some interesting recipes to try out on your guinea pigs (err, your friends and family). Add ingredients to your spinner and come up with new ways to use them with AllRecipes index. The app now has a scanner that allows you to scan an ingredient and find all kinds of great uses for it. It also has shopping lists and search options. The paid version is available for $2.99.


(Free -- iPhone/iPadAndroid)
Epicurious, especially for the iPad, is one of the best tools for looking up a diverse array of recipes, accumulating shopping lists and finding nutritional information. The database has 30,000 recipes from food magazines, top chefs and user submissions. It is easy to use and has tons of great recipes for the chef looking up how to make cassoulet on the go, or the amateur trying to figure out how to make focaccia. 

Top Chef University

($3.99 -- iPad
Fun fact: In my former career in the kitchen, I was once fired by a man that won Top Chef. Anyway, if you like the Top Chef TV series, you will love this app. It features more than 60 hours of instructional video in several gastronomic tracks from 11 of Top Chef's finest contestants. It is heavy on in-app purchases to unlock new lessons, with the entire set coming in at a whopping $79.99. Probably better to just go a la carte and purchase some of the better lessons, like "Stocks and Soups" or "Basics and Techniques" (i.e., how to not cut off your thumb with a cleaver).


(Free -- iPhone)
BiteHunter is a real-time location-based app that aggregates restaurant deals. Find local dining deals from Groupon, LivingSocial, and more. The value of BiteHunter comes with its real-time tracking of deals to let you know where you can save a couple of dollars when searching for culinary secrets in your city or while traveling. Purchase deals straight from the app, and share them with your friends through Twitter or Facebook before heading out for a night on the town.


Rate the dish, not the restaurant. Foodspotting is an app for discovering the best dishes near you through pictures. Was that beef bourguignon at the little French restaurant around the corner to die for? It is an easy dish to make, but a difficult dish to do well. Snap a picture of it, and share it with the Foodspotting community. This is a great app for local food discovery and restaurant deals. 


Urbanspoon lets you shake your phone to find restaurants near you. Have you ever sat on the couch with your significant other and asked the basic question, "Where do you want to eat tonight?" Everybody has done that. Urbanspoon is serendipitous mobile restaurant discovery at its most fun. See all nearby restaurants, book a table or set parameters for a search by price and cuisine type, and then give your phone a shake. Maybe you'll find that hidden gem down the street that you never knew about. 


The former CIO of the federal government once praised this app as one of the greater innovations in mobile consumer technology during the past five years. OpenTable allows you to make a reservation from your mobile phone anytime, anywhere. There is power in that kind of simplicity. OpenTable also offers restaurant deals and the ability to manage your reservation from your phone. If your city does a local "restaurant week," OpenTable is an invaluable tool to make sure you get the reservation where you want, when you want, and to ensure that you beat the crowd. When you buy a new smartphone, OpenTable is one of the first 10 apps you need to download.


Does Apple’s Growing Dependence on China Make It Vulnerable?

Apple seems able to do no wrong. In its most recent fiscal quarter, the giant consumer electronics maker posted a 59% increase in sales and a whopping 94% rise in profits. Such stellar numbers disguise the possibility that Apple’s near future may not be so prosperous, particularly if it falters in China.
Apple’s steady climb in sales and profits has fueled a 435% rise in its stock price over the last five years - making it the most valuable nongovernmental public company in the world. While happy to reap the benefits, shareholders are also skittish over when the good times will end. No business can continue to soar forever.
During the two weeks leading up to the earnings report, Apple’s stock fell five days straight over fears that iPhone sales would weaken if mobile phone carriers started cutting subsidies to improve margins. While the earnings report calmed nerves for now, investors are still hypersensitive to any signs that Apple might be losing steam.
China Mobile Is the Key
The best indicators of Apple’s future are likely to be seen in China, where the company is trying to strike a deal with the country’s largest carrier, China Mobile. Apple already has deals with the much smaller China Telecom and China Unicom to sell the iPhone in what has become the world’s largest mobile phone market – with 1 billion subscribers.
So how important is China Mobile to Apple? “Apple needs the partnership in order for them to continue to expand their share there,” says Crawford Del Prete, analyst for market researcher IDC.
China is stoking growth in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 26% of Apple’s $39.2 billion in sales in the first quarter of this year. Nearly all revenue from the region is from the iPhone, which accounted for 60% of Apple’s revenue in the quarter. If these growth rates continue, Asia Pacific will soon surpass Apple’s biggest market, the Americas.
Without China Mobile, Apple could find it difficult to keep sales rising fast enough to satisfy investors, based on the latest projections from Forrester Research. Adding the carrier would raise Apple’s share of the smartphone market to between 15% and 20% by 2014. That amounts to 40 million iPhones, or more than a quarter of Apple’s overall annual iPhone shipments today, according to Forrester analyst Bryan Wang in China. In the first 12 months, China Mobile would be expected to add 10 to 15 million new iPhone subscribers.
Is China Mobile Enough?
Even with China Mobile, though, Apple faces hurdles. Competition in China is fierce, and Apple will be fighting against less-expensive Android smartphones from Huawei and ZTE, and new models from Nokia, which is using the Windows Phone platform in a partnership with Microsoft.
That price differential is a huge problem for Apple in China. The premium-priced iPhone is truly affordable only to high-wage earners in China’s top 20 cities. To move into the Chinese broader market, Apple would have to sell versions of the smartphone that cost much less than the iPhone’s current starting price of almost $800, which is more than a month’s wages for many Chinese. “That is actually way beyond what the average Chinese can spend on a cellular phone,” Wang noted.
In China, carriers typically require people to pay for the phone up front (any subsidies are credited over the life of the contract), which is why the best-selling smartphones in China sell for around $150.
Of course, disappointing iPhone sales could be offset by the iPad. Wang expects that Apple’s tablets will sell very well as replacements for netbooks, the inexpensive mini-laptops that are still popular in emerging markets. They could even top iPhone sales.
However, for that to happen, Apple must win its legal battle over Chinese rights to the iPad brand. Proview Technology Shenzhen Co., the mainland China arm of Hong Kong-based Proview International Holdings Ltd., claims to own the name and is suing Apple.
In a country lacking a truly independent judiciary, it’s difficult to guess Apple’s chances of winning.

Half of Consumers Use Smartphones While Working Out

Working out may be a time to unwind and clear your head, but more consumers are turning to smartphones to stay connected while exercising, according to a new study.
A new infographic from market research firm Lab42 found that 51% of consumers are using smartphones during their workouts, whether for checking email (33%) or tracking their pace (43%). Listening to music is the most popular way to incorporate mobile devices into a workout (91%).
The study was conducted among 500 social media users who place a high emphasis on health and exercising.
About 33% of respondents said they use apps to track fitness and food regimens, while 31% do similar tracking on websites. Using a game console remains a popular way to do workouts, as 14% use a gaming system to exercise. About 51% who do so said they use the Wii Fit.

A high majority of consumers are also sharing their fitness progress with others (75%), with Facebook being the most popular platform to do so, followed by phone and email.
Overall, the study found that 74% consumers believe technology has made a positive impact in improving their weight loss efforts and even increases motivation (72%) to keep going.
How do you incorporate technology into your workout? Let us know in the comments.
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