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February 13 2014

Ask A Dev: How to Add Real-Time Updates to Your App
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In the latest video of our Ask a Dev series, web developer Jake Riesterer discusses ways to make your web app update in real-time, as well as how to make animations run more smoothly on mobile devices.

"Using things like server-sent events and WebSockets, you can actually get communication directly from the server to the client," says Riesterer. "That actually opens up the possibility for real time communication where you can literally send messages as the event happens."

Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don't forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe. Read more...

More about Apps, Developers, Web Apps, Animation, and Tech

November 08 2013

Ask a Dev: Do Leaner Designs Help Web Apps Load Faster?
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Web applications need to look great and perform well, but how do web developers strike a balance between form and function?

For the latest installment in our Ask a Dev series, web developer George Henderson explains why leaner designs increase web apps performance.

Simpler designs call for fewer elements, such as box shadows and gradients, which could leads to faster page rendering and scrolling, he says.

"Leaner designs can often require less requests and images to be downloaded from the server," he adds. "Any time you can reduce the amount of back-and-forth for the server, that's going to be more performant and increase page-load speeds." Read more...

More about Web Development, Web Apps, Web Design, Html5, and Tech

September 10 2013

Government Taps Tech Startup to Explain Where Tax Dollars Go
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Taxpayers in the United States are all too familiar with governments gobbling up about a third of their paychecks. But what actually happens to all that tax money may not be as familiar

A technology startup called Outline is building a tool to help residents figure that out. Outline announced its partnership with the Massachusetts state government Monday evening. The groups have worked together for the past eight months to create an online budget simulator — a web app that citizens can use to calculate the personal financial impact of government policies.

More about Government, Web Apps, Apps Software, Us World, and Politics

August 22 2013

Make Reaction GIFs With These 7 Tools
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You're a young, web savvy go-getter with a penchant for sharing your feelings online. You have a large social following that trusts your expertise in all things Internet. To an outsider, you seem to be on top of the world.

But beneath your hip, techy exterior lies a dark mystery — a secret shame: You don't know how to make GIFs.

The inability to make GIFs is nothing to be ashamed of, and there are already enough on the Internet to last you a lifetime, if you're content to feed off the work of others. But, knowing you, you want to create your own.

Understanding that desire, we've compiled a list of seven GIF generation tools that you can use to create and share animations without ever laying a finger on Photoshop. Read more...

More about How To, Web Apps, Features, Creativity, and Tech

August 21 2013

Need a Kidney? There's an App for That
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You probably shop, pay bills and order pizza online, but you probably never thought of opening up your laptop to find a kidney. As strange a concept as that sounds, OrganJet's new web service provides exactly that — a way to secure an affordable and fast transplant option from the comfort of your couch

OrganJet Corporation announced in a press release today that users can now take advantage of an online tool to find kidney transplant centers that are close to home and have the lowest wait times. In the statement, OrganJet CEO Sridhar Tayur noted that the service is meant to bridge the gap between areas with an excess of usable kidneys and those in dire need of them. The company claims that anywhere from 500 to 2,500 kidneys are wasted per year, and that more than 5,000 patients die annually waiting for one. Read more...

More about Web Apps, Medical, Hospital, Apps Software, and Lifestyle

July 05 2013

14 Google Tools You Didn't Know Existed
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Now that you've written your eulogies for Google Reader, it's a good time to remember that Google has an abundance of other resources that may not be as popular but still deserve a spotlight

We rounded up some lesser-known Google tools and applications that could help you cope with the loss of Reader and rekindle your love for Google.

From fun tools like Google Ngram Viewer to useful resources like Full Value of Mobile Calculator, you'll find an array of tools for developers to small business owners to the average consumer. Read more...

More about Google, Apps, Utility, Web Apps, and Features

January 01 2012

8 Simple Digital Tools for Scanning Documents


This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Small business and startup employees are constantly on the go. They need quick, mobile solutions for scanning, storing, organizing and sharing important documents.

Eager to empty that box full of receipts? Looking for an easy and secure way to send signed documents? We’ve found eight apps and tools that seamlessly scan and file your most important documents and keepsakes. Best of all, most of them integrate with proven file hosts Dropbox and Evernote.

What other tools have proved useful when scanning and integrating your own documents?


1. DocScanner




One of the most universal apps out there, DocScanner works across iOS, Android and Symbian platforms. Just take a photo of a document, receipt or notebook page and email it as a PDF. Integrate with Mobile.me, Dropbox or Evernote.

Price: $4.99

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, mashable, mobile apps, scan, scanners, Small Business, web apps


November 30 2011

November 11 2011

October 19 2011

5 Ways Apps Make Salesforce Even More Valuable


Gaurav Dhillon is the CEO of SnapLogic, makers of cloud and on-premise integration products. Gaurav is the former CEO of Informatica.

Companies everywhere have jumped on the Salesforce.com bandwagon, reaping the benefits of this CRM solution. But why stop there?

Even with all of Salesforce’s new social enterprise product launches and acquisitions (Assistly, Dimdim, and Radian6), its applications can’t support everything needed to run a well-oiled business. Most likely, you have important but underutilized customer or sales-related data living outside Salesforce – in your financial or file sharing applications, or even in a partner’s systems. And you probably wish you could gather deeper business intelligence and analytics than what’s delivered through Salesforce’s standard reports.

Many companies are getting more out of Salesforce by connecting it with useful applications that may or may not be supported in the Salesforce AppExchange. Read on for the top five business app categories that fill Salesforce’s gaps, and can further enhance the work of your enterprise sales team.


1. Financial Systems


Gone are the days of running an invoice over to accounting. Business processes like these are now automated, but not usually in Salesforce. Companies that connect their QuickBooks, SAP or FinancialForce systems directly to Salesforce will get a more complete view of each customer and product line. Once your sales team can track when customers have paid invoices or when products have shipped, they can more effectively service their accounts.


2. Vertical Applications


No matter what industry you’re in, you’ve probably come across some valuable niche apps that meet the more unique needs of your business environment. In the media industry for example, advertising tracking, optimization and fulfillment systems like Operative are mission critical. For example, Pandora was able to save tons of billing and sales support time by pushing more advertising details from Operative into Salesforce, such as actual sales delivery, third-party delivery data, processed vs. unprocessed ad details, products, discounts, proposed vs. actual clicks and actual invoice data.

If you’re a doing a lot of sales online, you may want to sync your ecommerce sales system with Salesforce. Or, you may have other important software specific to running your association, manufacturing operations, insurance business, etc., which you could also integrate for increased productivity.


3. File Sharing and Storage


Many companies are asking their suppliers and partners to collaborate on joint business processes, like invoice or contract tracking. While these processes are most efficient when they’re synced with your Salesforce application, there are limitations to sharing and storing files in Salesforce.com. For instance, your partners and organization members probably don’t have Salesforce accounts. Your extended sales teams can realize greatly improved collaboration by connecting Salesforce.com to outside file sharing and storage applications, like Box.net or DocuSign.


4. Data Quality and Enrichment


Salesforce’s handy features won’t be useful at all if your company’s data is wrong or outdated. Therefore, leverage a data quality and enrichment solution to make sure your customer data is not only accurate, but enhanced beyond what people can easily track on their own. Tools like Data.com or Trillium can help you easily cleanse and enrich customer account data. You can even add things like geocodes or Dun & Bradstreet data for each company to make sure customers are assigned to the appropriate account services teams.


5. Business Intelligence


Since Salesforce’s reporting options are somewhat limited, every company can benefit from connecting it to a fully-featured business intelligence solution like Birst. By integrating Salesforce with a business intelligence solution that also analyzes key data from any finance, operations, marketing, social media, supply chain or other business application, you can unlock new opportunities for insight. For example, a business intelligence tool could help you look beyond sales data in isolation by merging social and web data from Twitter, Facebook and Google Analytics with your operational systems. That way, you’ll be able to visualize social media sentiment against actual sales data from Salesforce.com.


Of course, there are many other excellent examples of applications that complement Salesforce and help enterprise sales teams work in new and interesting ways. The key to finding these opportunities is to start by developing a clear picture of all the data assets that exist across your company and its partners, suppliers and the web at large. When you examine everything you have to work with, you’ll find ways to make each tool in your application portfolio more useful with comprehensive, trusted and timely data.

More About: apps, Business, cloud computing, contributor, features, Salesforce, web apps


October 14 2011

25 Essential Apps for Your New iPhone 4S

So you’re getting an iPhone 4S. Fantastic. But with more than 500,000 apps in the App Store, finding the best ones is no easy task. Mashable is here to help.

We’ve compiled a short list of our absolute favorites. Here you’ll find social standbys, top music hits, super addicting games, practical utilities and a few up-and-comers.

This isn’t the be-all-end-all list of must-have applications, of course. So, we encourage you to add your app suggestions in the comments below.

More About: features, iphone, iPhone 4S, iphone apps, Mobile, web apps


September 05 2011

Could Google Fast Flip Have Survived on Tablets?


Google will discontinue news-reading tool Fast Flip, to shift resources to its more widely used products. It will be removed from Google News and Labs in the coming days, though its approach to web content display will be integrated into other tools, Google announced on its blog.

Fast Flip, which celebrates its second birthday this month, is at the top of the list when sorting Google Labs projects by popularity. The tool aims to replicate the print-reading experience online by allowing users to browse stories more quickly. It came at a time when more news organizations were willing to experiment with web content distribution and boasted it had an impressive list of launch partners, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fast Company. These media companies share ad revenue generated through Fast Flip with Google.

Though the product didn’t show much promise from the start, it may have seen success if it had been reworked as a tablet app. As evidenced by CNN’s acquisition of Zite and AOL’s release of Editions, news organizations are shifting focus to optimize mobile reader experiences in a big way.

News aggregation apps Flipboard and Pulse are seeing growing audiences as tablets continue to prove themselves as great content consumption devices. Google may have been better off creating a feature to simplify browsing news on a tablet rather than the conventional web.

Fast Flip is one of nine in a batch of products to be discontinued from Google Labs. The company announced it would shutter Labs experiments shortly after releasing its second-quarter earnings results in mid-July.

Other Labs products Google will shut down:

  • Aardvark: Social search product that helps people answer each others’ questions.
  • Desktop: Gives instant access to data while online or offline.
  • Fast Flip: Provides a faster, richer news content browsing and reading experience.
  • Google Maps API for Flash: Allows ActionScript developers to integrate Google Maps into their applications.
  • Google Pack: Makes it easy to download and install a package of Google and third-party applications.
  • Google Web Security: Protects against web malware attacks.
  • Image Labeler: Helps people explore and label images on the web.
  • Notebook: Helps people combine clipped URLs from the web and free-form notes into documents they can share and publish.
  • Sidewiki: A browser sidebar that lets people contribute and read information alongside any web page.
  • Subscribed Links: Enables developers to create specialized search results that were added to the normal Google search results on relevant queries for subscribed users.

Would you have used Google Fast Flip on a tablet? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: google fast flip, google labs

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September 02 2011

The Rise of Digital Comic Books: DC & Same Day Digital

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Comic books have finally gone fully digital with DC’s release of Same Day Digital. The program will release digital versions of new comic books the same day that they are available in print. The comics will cost $2.99 and drop down to $1.99 after four weeks.

Other companies and publishing houses have experimented with digital comics, but Same Day Digital marks the first all-in bet that digital is the future of comic books.

The Same Day Digital program will be available on a range of platforms including the iOS family of devices, Android and personal computers. DC Comics pushed its digital launch to coincide with the New 52, a massive overhaul and reimagining of 52 of their most iconic characters.

Marquee names like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and more received costume redesigns, as well as updated origin stories. All 52 characters had their comic series reset to issue #1.

“I think part of this whole initiative was breaking down those doors and one was by changing the continuity and streamlining the shorelines and the second part of that… was doing digital delivery, right?” says Jim Lee, DC’s co-publisher and the man behind the New 52 character redesigns.

Mashable had a chance to mess around with the app on an iPad. The app is presently bare bones with simple scroll and zoom options. One tap brings up navigation tools, including a bottom bar with all the pages, and a settings option where you can automate page turns or set preferences on speech bubbles. The final panel is a pop-up box asking users to rate the comic and directing them to purchase additional comics in the series or browse through other titles.

It’s clear more features are on the way, including more integration with social networks and possibly a subscription option.

superman sketchDigital has allowed DC to be more creative with its comics. The DVD release of the Green Lantern movie, for example, contains a digital preview for a comic book. The digital team is also experimenting with deluxe digital editions, like issues that come with additional sketches or alternate covers.

“I’d love to think this was a pure genius on one person or a group of people’s part,” says Hank Kanalz, SVP of Digital at DC. “And it was just like, ‘duh.’”

There are some concerns Same Day Digital will cannibalize print sales. But DC has set up — with its digital partner Comixology — a DC digital storefront retailers can put on their websites. Retailers will get 30% of any digital purchases without worrying about over-ordering copies or dealing with unsold copies.

“It’s a tough sell, because you’re talking to real life people with real life establishments and real life stores and you don’t want to introduce something that’s going to put them out of business,” Lee says.

Comics are facing the same tricky fate that befell compact discs, and DC is trying to get in on digital before piracy or third parties (as seen with iTunes and music) beats the company to it.

Digital sales have been doing well so far, according to Kanalz. Issues across the DC canon have been selling — this includes the New 52 batch to comics from five or 10 years ago.

The future of Same Day Digital is still very much in the air. DC has talked about whether to include more interactive features but so far that’s off the table. There’s also some discussion on how to optimize content for small devices like smartphones where a full-length comic book might be too long (or too small) to enjoy.

There are also headaches for illustrators and writers to consider, says Lee. Panels are stretched or compressed to fill the size of the platform. Massive double-page spreads are shrunk down, or minuscule details are blown up to huge proportions.

DC comics has a lot of things to consider, but Same Day Digital has been paying off so far. “Sure, there are people that are scared of digital and there are others that embrace it as much as I do,” Kanalz says. “We all love comics and that’s the key.”

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More About: comics, digital delivery, Social Media, Tech

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August 26 2011

What’s That Lyric Mean? Ask Rap Genius


“Sitting on the world, I got life in my hand. So these days I try to think twice when I can.” So begins the first verse of President Carter, a rap track from Lil Wayne’s leaked Tha Carter IV album.

If you’re anything like you me, you may have missed the rapper’s allusion to the gospel song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, or skipped over the reference to his prison time. Never fear. Forty thousand rap fans have got you covered.

Rap Genius, a startup from co-founders Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam (who also created the Rap Map), is akin to a hipper, rap song-focused Wikipedia. Members build up “RapIQ” as they add meanings to lines, editors review additions for accuracy and anyone can feel like a rap lyric-deciphering prodigy.

The site made a quiet debut back in 2009. Rap Genius was never intended to be the intelligent and elegant answer to the vapid and hideous sites most people happen upon when scouring the web for the lyrics to their favorite tracks. Instead, the site — then called Rap Exegesis — was just intended as a way for the guys to share rap lyric meanings with friends.

Friends told friends, visitors started leaving comments and the founders started opening the site to allow for community contribution. The name was wisely changed and the site began to take on a life of its own.

Two years later, Rap Genius is a lyrics community where more than 40,000 users compete for street cred and onsite glory by most-accurately unpacking the lyrics in more than 250,000 songs. The site has snowballed in popularity, amassing more than 3 million unique visitors in June. Now, the founders are looking to turn Rap Genius into a business — without resorting to ads.

“How do we turn this thing into a cultural phenomena — as the go-to place when you’re looking up a song?,” says Zechory. “We want to be the center for songs.”

Rappers have been known to participate via artist pages, others choose to use aliases instead. The founders see Rap Genius’ future potential as a platform for artists, where they can sell concert tickets, interact with fans and give freebies to those who have become the biggest disciples of their lyrics.

“People are obsessed with music and with lyrics,” Lehman says of the site’s potential. “Lyrics are how people like to interact with music.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles

More About: lyrics, rap genius

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July 20 2011

Tribalfish Mixes & Matches the Best of Email, Blogs & Forums


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Tribalfish

Quick Pitch: Tribalfish is a realtime discussion network that replaces blogs and forums, making it easier to discover topics and capture audiences.

Genius Idea: Twitter without the limitations.


Startup Tribalfish is opening to the public Tuesday to give web users a new place to engage in realtime discussions.

“Discussions?,” you say, “Can’t I have those on Facebook, Twitter and even Google+?” Sure you can, but Tribalfish sees those destination social networks as limiting, and potentially fragmenting, internet discussions. The startup seeks to merge the best of email, blogs and forums in a single social network to solve those problems.

“What we want to do is to bridge the gab between rich content that you would post into a blog and the very broad audience reach that you have with a global network like Twitter, and bring them together in one place,” Tribalfish founder Chris Crabtree says.

In short, Crabtree says, it’s “Twitter without limits.”

The site is structured like an email inbox. In the left-most column, you’ll find your navigation options, with the center and right-hand panes used for viewing and sharing content. You can post updates, start discussions or participate in groups.

The site will let you follow topics in three ways: Interests, Groups and Following. You can use the Interests section as a live search stream for topics of interest, or you can create and join private or public groups to participate in active discussions and follow other users to see what they’re discussing.

What’s the point? Well, early users are starting to use Tribalfish like a blog, Crabtree says. “We think people will end up using this as a medium for blogging, but also just to start serendipitous discussions about whatever topic they want,” he adds.

In that respect, the startup reminds us of Percolate, another new tool that also re-imagines the blog.

The first time Tribalfish user might have a hard time getting started. Finding internet contacts will be a bit laborious for most. Plus, because the “post something” and comments boxes are designed to support long-form content, Tribalfish could turn off light-weight social media posters already accustomed to the tiny boxes on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Still, the young startup has time to sort out these issues. Crabtree insists that the product will evolve to match the needs and wants of its users. He also sees Tribalfish as a viable conversation tool for organizations and educational institutions.

Founded roughly one year-ago, Utah-based Tribalfish is currently bootstrapped and in the process of raising a seed round of financing. Mobile applications for Android and iPhone are said to be in the works.


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, BLOGS, forums, social media, social network, spark-of-genius, Tribalfish

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July 19 2011

July 18 2011

MuteMath Releases New Track Via Interactive Audio/Visual Remix Board


Each Monday, Mashable highlights an exclusive new video or song. Check out all our Music Monday picks.

Watching a music video is usually a passive experience. But this is not the case with a new vid/art project from New Orleans-based MuteMath. The band has created an interactive video mixer to introduce “Odd Soul,” the first song on its upcoming third album, also titled Odd Soul.

The mixer, dubbed “Visual Stems,” features six different videos that comprise parts of the song: drums, guitars, bass, vocals, synth and BG vocals. Users can mute various sections of the song (a cool tool for aspiring musicians, as you can listen to a certain part of the song all by your lonesome), check out solos and change the volume levels of each of the six videos. There are two versions of the project: one for up-to-date browsers featuring six separate vids, and one for slower browsers boasting four videos (with two parts crammed into one video).

The project was created in collaboration with Teleprompt Records, and was brought to fruition by graphic designer Andrew Le.

MuteMath is no stranger to inventive music videos. Back in 2007, it created a video for the song “Typical” during which the jam was played backwards.

We asked the band members if they felt any pressure to come up with increasingly elaborate videos over the years — given their first viral foray into video-making, and the recent influx of interactive, unconventional music videos (see: “The Wilderness Downtown,” “3 Dreams in Black,” “Back From Kathmandu,” etc).

“It’s not really pressure as much as just getting bored with releasing music the same way every time,” lead vocalist and keyboardist Paul Meany told us. “We find ourselves on ‘what if’ rabbit trails a lot. Someone will start an idea ‘What if we…’ And then one of us will answer, ‘but then what if it…’ Until we keep pushing the idea into something that is obscenely impossible, and then we go back a few ‘what if’s’ and there’s the idea we usually go with.”

The “Visual Stems” project is certainly a fun way to engage with the band’s new single — if you want to listen to the unencumbered version, we’ve embedded it above — but it’s more of a toy than a real remix board. However, the band is also launching a remix contest in which fans can download the song stems and give them a real makeover, so we can see the project being a good starting point for aspiring remix artists.

More About: music, music monday, mutemath, remix, video

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July 16 2011

Is Google+ Becoming More Female?


Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

If you believe the “unofficial statistician” for Google+, the new social network isn’t nearly as male-dominated as previously reported.

Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com and the man who released a report estimating that Google+ was about to reach 10 million users, says that the male-to-female ratio on Google+ is not as disparate as some reports, including those published by Mashable, have seemed. Instead, Allen’s latest figures show that 33% of Google+ users, as of July 14, 2011 are female.

To be clear, this still means that Google+ is still a male-dominated network (at least for now), but the breakdown isn’t as extreme as the 90% male, 10% female stat from SocialStatistics or the 75% male, 25% female stats from FindPeopleonPlus.

Allen’s methodology in estimating Google+ statistics varies from some other Google+ data sources.

This is how Mashable’s Stan Schroeder described the methodology earlier this week,

He sampled a number of surnames from the U.S. Census Bureau data and compared it to surnames of Google+ users. By comparing surname popularity in the U.S. with the number of users on Google+ with each surname, he can guesstimate the percentage of the U.S. population that signed up for Google+. Finally, he calculated a ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate an estimate for the number of Google+ users worldwide.

We’re not sure how census data can be applied to gender, especially on a social network, but we’ve reached out to Allen for additional information on how his data was composited.

Still, Allen’s figures show that from July 4, 2011 through July 14, 2011, the male/female gap closed considerably. On July 4, 2011, Allen estimated that 23% of users were female. By July 14, 2011, that percentage was up to 33.6%.

In its own videos and marketing for the service, Google put a lot of emphasis on women, which to us, implies that women are a prime target for Google+.

In our own unscientific estimates, we’ve seen more women joining Google+ over the last few days than when the service first launched.

That leads us to our question — do you see more women joining Google+ in your own circles? What do you think it will take for the gender ratio to start to balance out? Let us know in the comments.

More About: gender breakdown, Google, Google Plus, social networks, stats

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46 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed


Get ready for Mashable‘s weekly roundup! This week, we’ve performed original Google+ analysis, prepared you for the Mac OS X Lion release, and pointed you toward the best fictional Twitter accounts. We’ve celebrated startups and mourned space shuttle finales.

So review the list of important resources you may have missed over the past week. Tune in for more great stories and tools coming at you sooner than you can say “Spotify.”


Editors’ Picks



Social Media


For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Tech & Mobile


For more tech news and resources, follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Business & Marketing


For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


 

Image courtesy of Flickr, webtreats.

More About: business, List, Lists, MARKETING, Mobile 2.0, social media, tech, technology

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Discovered a New Band? Find Out Which Songs To Check Out First With GoRankem


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: GoRankem

Quick Pitch: GoRankem is a crowdsourced ratings site that helps users discover new music, complete with suggestions for which songs to listen to first.

Genius Idea: A cheat sheet for music discovery.


When checking out a new band, the first album that you listen to can have a huge effect on your opinions from there on out. You might stumble upon a musician’s best song first, allowing you to forgive any artistic oversights said musician may later fall prey to. Or, you know, you might be the victim of that Western movie-themed solo album that the bassist decided to bust out in the off-season.

GoRankem aims to help music lovers wade through the morass of tunes out there, so as to get right to the good stuff (according to fans, at least) at the get-go.

“The inspiration dates back to my high school days when I was trying to embrace a band like Widespread Panic — loved what I was hearing, but their monster catalog was just too damn overwhelming,” says founder Adam Wexler. “All I wanted was a cheat sheet so I could figure out which songs to check out in the ideal order.”

To cure this ill, Wexler launched GoRankem at Digital Music Forum East in New York City. Wexler has basically bootstrapped the project, raising a chunk of cash via Kickstarter. He has yet to try to monetize the site.

Still, we can see Wexler capitalizing on some kind of affiliate program, garnering money for albums and songs sold through the site, because GoRankem is actually pretty useful. Create an account, and start clicking around. Search for a specific artist (via its 500,000-artist catalogue courtesy of MusicBrainz) and you’ll be presented with a list of their songs (which you can order by song, album or year) that you can drag and drop in order of quality. You can rank between five and 20 songs per artist.

After rating, you give yourself a “fanstanding” — or a ranking of how big a fan you are — between one and 10. The average fanstanding of raters of a band is supposed to indicate the accuracy of the rating (although we don’t know why a “one” would bother ordering songs). You can then share your rankings via Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, there’s all kinds of game-playing aspects involved: People can “rec” your profile if they think you have good taste, and you get badges for sharing, etc. However, all those aspects seem kind of arbitrary. The simple, cool root here is that one can get crowdsourced recommendations based on specific songs. Yes, you may not agree with the verdict, but if you’re, say, a new Pulp fan and you’re looking at a giant discography, it’s good to get some guidance on where to start.

One aspect that this site notably lacks is some kind of music player, a failing that it shares with fellow music-ranking site, MusicGrid.me. Adding even 30-second clips to the site would make it a much more useful tool, and users wouldn’t have to navigate away to check out new tunes.

How do you find new music? Would you take the word of the crowdsourced masses?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Julia Folsom


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: gorankem, music, startup

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