Mashable: Latest 28 News Updates - including “Smart, Digital Flashcards Maximize Study Time”

Mashable: Latest 28 News Updates - including “Smart, Digital Flashcards Maximize Study Time”

Smart, Digital Flashcards Maximize Study Time

Posted: 07 May 2011 12:14 AM PDT

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: Brainscape

Quick Pitch: Brainscape makes digital flashcards.

Genius Idea: Tweaking the tired flashcard format with proven techniques to make learning more efficient.

Flashcard apps tend to be imitations of their physical counterparts. Instead of flipping a card over to reveal an answer, users click or swipe.

Not so with Brainscape. The company uses the digital platform to tweak the flashcard model with proven learning strategies. Questions in Brainscape apps require recall, not multiple-choice selections, ask users to reflect on answers by noting their confidence in them, and use those confidence grades to determine how often each card should be spaced in a deck.

Brainscape founder Andrew Cohen, who has a master’s degree in education technology, conducted a study with 10 Columbia students to compare the effectiveness of what he calls “confidence-based repetition” to normal flashcards. After the students studied material for 30 minutes, students who used Brainscape scored higher on an assessment than students who used flashcards.


The 22 iPhone apps that Brainscape has launched since August cover test prep, vocabulary and other flash-card friendly topics like national capitals, blackjack plays, and drink recipes.

Next week, the startup launches a $40 Spanish app that will drill users on sentence structure as well as vocab and verb conjugation.

All you’re really paying for with the apps is mobile convenience. All of the flashcards are available for free on Brainscape’s website, where you can also make your own flashcards. More than 130,000 people have already registered to do so.

Cohen says Brainscape will eventually wrap all of its content into one portal app that allows users to access premium content through in-app purchases. That master app will also enable mobile make-your-own flashcards.

But the startup also has revenue opportunities outside of app sales.

“Essentially, Brainscape could work anywhere where learning things quickly and efficiently is important,” Cohen says.

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, brainscape, education, flashcards, startup

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14 Tips for Hiring the Perfect CTO

Posted: 06 May 2011 11:53 PM PDT

Scott Gerber is the founder of Sizzle It!, a New York-based sizzle reel production company specializing in promotional videos for PR and marketing professionals, and the Young Entrepreneur Council. He is a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist, angel investor, public speaker and author of the best-selling book Never Get a “Real” Job: How To Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke.

Hiring the wrong person for key company positions can cost a business thousands — or tens of thousands — of dollars and man hours. This is especially true when it comes to tech companies hiring the wrong chief technology officer.

Today, CTOs are multi-taskers that aren’t just coders locked in some basement — they play a vital role in a tech company’s strategic plan and growth. Not only do they need to have a high level of diversified technical prowess and proficiency, but they also need to possess strong leadership and project management capabilities. With development teams often based around the world, being the center of communication and progress can either lead to a tremendously successful strategy or a bottleneck that can slow down an entire company.

I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs what fledging tech startups should be looking for in a CTO hire to ensure founders get the right person for the job.

1. Leadership Abilities Are A Must

bell imageIt’s natural to want a tech savvy and competent CTO. However, it’s more important that the CTO have exceptional interpersonal skills and be able to manage a team effectively.

Be sure that the CTO is prepared to deal with a variety of personality and working styles. Solid leadership is essential to the success of any team.

- Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group.)

2. Past Performance is Everything

gilbert imageFor the most part, our past performance indicates our future behavior. See what [your candidate] has done before you.

Actions speak a lot louder than words. However, if you must base it on words, look for curiosity, confidence, fearlessness and an ability to take ownership of failures.

- Adam Gilbert, My Body Tutor.

3. A Sense of Responsibility

cutler imageCTOs play a crucial role in company performance and effectiveness. It is essential to hire someone who is able to take on responsibility for the successes, failures and stresses of the entire company. They must exhibit a thirst for working in teams, helping others and being forthright. Nothing can be more damaging than a misleading or careless CTO.

- Zach Cutler, The Cutler Group.

4. An Eye for Business Development

nicole imageYour new CTO's technology vision should fall in line with your overall business strategy. Therefore, strong business development experience coupled with excellent communication skills are essential. While many IT professionals can think technically, they have a hard time communicating it to a wide audience. Hire someone well-versed in communication between developers, customers and team members.

- Erica Nicole, YFS Magazine: Young, Fabulous & Self Employed.

5. A Painter With Programming Chops

wright imageWhat I usually look for is a developer who is creative. That’s not to say someone who could literally paint a picture (though it helps if they understand aesthetics). No, the idea is to find a CTO who can creatively solve problems and imagine new solutions, even if someone else hasn’t done it before. An innovator with “geek cred.” That’s what you’re looking for.

- Colin Wright, Ebookling.

6. Find Someone Who Knows

davis imageIf you’re asking this question, then it seems your first order of duty should be finding someone who can consult your hiring process. As a non-technical founder of an IT company, it’s important to know when to dish responsibilities off. When making technical hires, we always reach out to our network of programmer friends and ask them to sit in on interviews and review resumes with us.

Jesse Davis, Entrustet.

7. The Spare Time Test

healy imageStaying current on technology trends, breakthroughs and opportunities is more than a full time job. Be sure you find someone who is not just competent in understanding technology, but someone who is passionate about technology. There is a difference. In your interview ask, “What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?” If it’s tech related, you might be getting even more than you’re paying for.

Kent Healy, The Uncommon Life.

8. Hire for Character and Integrity

witty imageHire slowly, fire quickly. There are tons of competent professionals that have the technical qualifications, but do they have character and integrity? Ask situational questions that reveal their true colors and do extensive background checks and reference checks. Most importantly, this individual must share your vision as to what the company can become.

- Adam Witty, Advantage Media Group.

9. Organization and Execution

wong imageYour new CTO should be able to handle your development team so that projects run along smoothly.

It will be important that your CTO can execute on big projects, too, hacking away to build an amazing product that is agile.

- Danny Wong, Blank Label Group, Inc.

10. Experience with Startups!

kabani imageDon’t hire someone who has never worked with a startup before, because the environment is totally different. A CTO at a major company has very different objectives than one who is helping a startup succeed. Look for someone who has experience working with a startup, and has an entrepreneurial attitude. This can’t be just a job for them. Look for passion and skill!

Shama Kabani, Marketing Zen.

11. Are They A Good Cultural Fit?

bodi imageWhat is the nature and atmosphere of your office or work environment? You want to make sure they fit into your office culture that you already have going for you. Bringing in someone who is a complete opposite can sometimes put a barrier up from the start between both the employee and the office. Figure out the best qualities your current employees have and go from there.

Ashley Bodi, Business Beware.

12. Pedigree is a Decent First Filter

bahn imageThis advice is for non-technical business owners trying to find a CTO. I know that this is an elite position, but as a non-technical person it’s very difficult to sniff out a good technical leader. Filtering your search by pedigree is a good start. If your candidate was good enough to get into MIT, Stanford, etc., then that’s one indicator that they could be good for you.

Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT.

13. Will Not Stop Until a Solution is Found

schnurman imageThe most important trait I look for in a CTO is someone who will not stop until we find the solution to a given development problem. The CTO should always be looking for a better way to do things and inspiring the developers to do the same. From a technical standpoint, in addition to being a skilled programmer, the CTO should have a background in architecture and database design.

David Schnurman, Lawline.

14. Go Beyond the Code

gieser imageThere are many super hackers out there (especially in the Bay Area). To use “coding skills” as your primary criteria when hiring a CTO is the equivalent of not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes in a car. A great CTO thinks about product before code, they think of the value the product is creating, and they know how to effectively lead developers.

Brenton Gieser, Be Social Change.

Interested in more Startup resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ssuni

More About: business, CTO, hire, hiring, startup, startups

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This Week’s Top Funding & Investment Stories

Posted: 06 May 2011 11:18 PM PDT

Welcome to the latest edition of "Top Funding Stories," a weekly series where we summarize the big startup funding and investment stories of the week.

Here’s what caught our attention this week:

Peel Raises $16.7 Million

Peel is an iOS app for finding, discovering, and controlling your TV and multimedia. Its creators raised $16.7 million in a Series B round led by Lightspeed Ventures.

Targeted Mobile Advertising Company JumpTap Nabs $25 Million

Jumptap, a company that specializes in targeted mobile ad technology, has raised a $25 million round from AllianceBernstein, General Catalyst, Redpoint Ventures, Summerhill Ventures, Valhalla Partners, WPP and others.

Y Combinator Startup Grubwithus Secures $1.6 Million

Grubwithus, a startup aiming to bring strangers together for meals, has secured $1.6 million in funding. Its investors now include Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, NEA, SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher and Y Combinator, among others.

Further News

How Bin Laden News Exploded on Twitter: A Visualization

Posted: 06 May 2011 09:07 PM PDT

By now it’s common knowledge that the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter. Donald Rumsfeld’s Chief of Staff, the fresh-faced Keith Urbahn, was the first credible source to issue the news on Sunday at 10:24pm ET, long before President Obama spoke, and Urbahn’s tweet was the one that went viral.

All this we knew — but now, with an exhaustive analysis of 15 million tweets by New York company Social Flow, we can actually see Urbahn’s post exploding into the Twitterverse. “Within a minute, more than 80 people had already reposted the message,” the company writes in its blog post. “Within two minutes, over 300 reactions to the original post were spreading through the network.”

Social Flow’s visualization, above, also reveals a new and previously little-known player in the Urbahn tweet drama: New York Times digital media reporter Brian Stelter. He’s at the center of the second dandelion-like hub of retweets, at bottom right in the picture. Other Twitter accounts played their part in passing the news from one of these highly influential Tweeters to another, including @ObamaNews and @LaughingSquid — the latter being a San Francisco-based website full of quirky ephemera.

What can we learn from this chart? That trustworthiness, in a universe of tweeters spouting all sorts of speculation, is more important than ever. Urbahn, 27, didn’t shout about his insider connections, but enough people read his bio to understand that he was likely to have good sources inside the Pentagon. And for all the talk of Twitter making journalists of us all, it seems we still desire validation from a reporter from a major media organization.

And maybe — just maybe — the number of followers you have on Twitter matters less than who and how active they are. Urbahn didn’t have a record-breaking number of followers (who then numbered a little more than 1,000, or about 6,000 fewer than he has now), but his tweet went viral nonetheless, thanks to those followers going to bat for him. Stetler has more than 55,000 followers and tweets obsessively, but ultimately his influence was slightly less important here than Urbahn’s.

“Keith Urbahn wasn't the first to speculate Bin Laden's death, but he was the one who gained the most trust from the network,” writes Social Flow. “And with that, the perfect situation unfolded, where timing, the right social-professional networked audience, along with a critically relevant piece of information led to an explosion of public affirmation of his trustworthiness.”

More About: data visualizations, osama bin laden, tweets, twitter, viral

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Google Experimenting With Redesigned Search Results Page [SCREENSHOT]

Posted: 06 May 2011 07:13 PM PDT

Google has begun testing a new design for its search engine results page, one that sports a new color scheme and a lot more white space.

A Google representative confirmed to us the company is conducting one of its user tests. As you can see from the screenshot below, the redesign results page incorporates a tweaked color scheme. The greens, purples and blues are not as harsh as the current set of colors used on

The bigger changes focus on separating and spacing out individual search results. There is simply a lot more white space around each search result and each link. Also, each search result is divided by a dashed line.

Combined, the changes are rather dramatic for a search engine used by millions of people daily. Google is gathering data on how people react to the new changes. Those numbers will determine whether or not these changes will move out of testing and become permanent.

This isn’t the only Google experiment to make headlines this month. On Monday, the tech giant began testing Voice Search integration on

Check out screenshot, and let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.

Screenshot courtesy of TwitPic, chanian

More About: design, Google, google search

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Skype for Mac Has Unpatched Security Flaw [ALERT]

Posted: 06 May 2011 05:16 PM PDT

Update: Skype says it issued a hotfix on April 14, 2011 to address this issue, the company just didn’t prompt users to download the fix.

Mac users may want to be extra careful when using Skype, thanks to a nasty zero-day vulnerability in the Mac OS X version of the client.

Security researcher Gordon Maddern from the firm Pure Hacking discovered a flaw in Skype that allows a skilled individual to gain remote access to another’s machine simply by sending a Skype message.

UPDATE: Skype has issued a patch for the vulnerability but hasn’t pushed it out to users. To get the updated, patched software, download Skype

Maddern says the discovered the hole by accident but put together a proof of concept showing how potentially dangerous it could be. By simply sending a message, Maddern was able to take control of a user’s computer and execute a shell instance. Scary stuff.

The researcher contacted Skype more than a month ago, but despite assurances from Skype that a fix was on the way, the program has remained unpatched.

In fact, it appears that it was only after Maddern blogged about the issue — and others like ZDNet UK championed the cause — that Skype felt the need to see the issue as a major problem.

In a statement to ZDNet UK, Skype said, “We are aware of this and will release a fix early next week to resolve the issue. We take our users privacy very seriously and are working quickly to protect Skype users from this vulnerability.”

Mac OS X user are unlikely to be completely satisfied with this response. In Waiting more than a month before applying a hot fix, Skype has shown that it might not truly be “taking our users privacy very seriously.”

The Windows and Linux versions of Skype aren’t vulnerable to this zero-day vulnerability. In addition to this new “feature,” Mac users are also dealing with a new UI in Skype 5 that makes everything harder to use.

Realistically speaking, most users are probably not in any potential danger when using Skype — provided they don’t accept messages or calls from strangers. Still, we know we’ll be taking a Skype for Mac break until this thing is fixed.

What do you think of Skype’s response to this situation? Let us know.

More About: fail, mac, security, Skype, skype for mac

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Royal Wedding Has More YouTube Views Than Britain Has People

Posted: 06 May 2011 03:48 PM PDT

YouTube's livestream of the Royal Wedding was viewed more than 72 million times last Friday, the company has revealed.

That’s a higher number than the number of people living in the UK. In fact, if royal wedding web viewers were to form a nation (perhaps one in which everyone wears fancy hats), it would be the 19th largest country in the world.

And those 72 million views only represent YouTube’s official Royal Channel. Several other platforms also posted live video of the royal wedding. For instance, Livestream reported that the event set a new record on its site with 300,000 concurrent visitors.

Wedding viewers were mostly from the United Kingdom and United States, according to the YouTube blog. Italy, Germany and France had the next-highest number of viewers on the platform.

More About: royal wedding, video, youtube

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Will the PlayStation Network Hackers Strike Again?

Posted: 06 May 2011 03:29 PM PDT

Sony is quickly preparing to return the PlayStation Network to active status after an attack took down the network and compromised user accounts two weeks ago. As it does, more information is surfacing on the identity of the culprits behind the attack.

Infamous hacker group Anonymous has been suspected as the likely attacker, but the group has denied involvement. On Friday, members of Anonymous disclosed, in statements made to the Financial Times, that one or more members of the anarchic collective were involved in the takedown.

Evidence seems to suggest that the Anonymous members who left breadcrumbs of their exploit on PlayStation servers may have been operating as a small anti-Sony faction within the larger group. This would explain Anonymous’s very public denials.

“An individual or handful of supporters of Anonymous' well-publicised operation to disrupt Sony services – dubbed OpSony – went further than the rest of the free-speech campaigners expected when they broke into the electronics company's network and stole account details, according to one person within the group,” reads the account.

An Anonymous hacker going by the handle Kayla told the Financial Times, "If you say you are Anonymous, and do something as Anonymous, then Anonymous did it … Just because the rest of Anonymous might not agree with it, doesn't mean Anonymous didn't do it."

Meanwhile, those responsible are said be preparing an another attack against Sony’s website. The attack could come as soon as this weekend, according to a CNET report, and may be more devastating than the last to victims. The hackers have indicated that they’ve already obtained access to Sony servers and intend to publish customer names, credit card numbers and addresses copied in the breach.

More About: anonymous, hackers, sony, Sony PlayStation network

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Ben & Jerry’s Donates Your Spare Twitter Characters to a Good Cause

Posted: 06 May 2011 03:00 PM PDT

Ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s is asking users to donate their spare Twitter characters in honor of World Fair Trade Day on May 14.

Earlier this week, Ben & Jerry’s launched a Twitter application that squeezes a message and link about World Fair Trade Day in the leftover characters of one’s tweets — i.e., if your tweet is 30 characters, the remaining 110 will contain a message about World Fair Trade Day and a link to more information, like so:

For users, it’s a simple way to spread awareness about a worthy cause, and a clever marketing tactic on Ben & Jerry’s end.

[via Mediabistro]

More About: ben & jerrys, social good, social media, twitter, world fair trade day

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On Facebook, A Lost & Found for Tornado Victims [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 02:45 PM PDT

When Alabama resident Patty Bullion found tornado-blown letters, photographs and documents from more than 100 miles away after the recent storm that devastated the South, she wanted to return them from whence they came.

You’ve probably heard about the Facebook page Patty started, where she invited everyone to post pictures and items they found in hopes of matching them up with their owners.

“Portraits from a Storm” is a poignant and beautifully produced video that lets Patty tell her story in her own words.

[Via All Facebook]

More About: facebook, lost and found, Patty Buillon, Tornado

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Flip Alternatives: 5 Great Pocket Video Cameras

Posted: 06 May 2011 02:19 PM PDT

Now that Cisco has condemned the Flip camera to that great recycling bin in the sky, there may be a gap in the market for an affordable, pocket-sized HD camcorder.

While many are content to shoot casual videos with the cameras built into their phones, if you’re looking for a standalone gadget that shoots true HD and is still easy on the wallet, check out these alternatives to the once-popular Flip.

It’s a strange twist that the Flip would flop in the market it helped create, but it’s given rise to some seriously capable rival products. While we’re sorry to see the Flip go, here’s five we’d like to see fill its shoes.

1. Creative Vado

Creative's third gen Vado is a colorful option with seriously pocket-friendly dimensions of 3.9 inches tall by 2.2 inches wide by 0.6 inches deep. Touch-sensitive buttons and a two-inch display make up the front of the camera while a built-in USB arm pops out of the bottom for quick connectivity.

The Vado records 720p video but only low-res stills, so it's not the best option if you're looking for a dual-function camera/camcorder. It does video well though, with a wide-angle lens, a simple one-click record option, decent battery life and 4 GB of internal storage.

Rounding off the package is the now requsiste easy-share options for social sites, meaning you can get your content online quickly.

Cost: $169.99

2. Samsung HMX-U20

Boasting Full HD video capture, 14-megapixel stills and 3x optical zoom, the Samsung U20 is a top-end pocket video camera.

It records to SD and SDHC memory cards, has a 2-inch display, a built-in USB arm and offers the easy sharing options you'd expect from such a product.

As far as unique features go, those curvy looks are based in ergonomics with a 7-degree body shape for good grip. Another bonus feature worthy of mention is the ability to capture time-lapse recordings for some fun creative experiments.

Cost: $129 on Amazon

3. Sony Bloggie Touch

The Sony Bloggie Touch is a capable pocket video camcorder offering not only 1080p full HD movie recording but 12-megapixel still capture with the ability to grab pics while filming. With a 3-inch touchscreen that auto-rotates for portrait and landscape viewing, ease of use comes in with a swing-out USB port, compatibilty for both Macs (it works with iMovie) and PCs, and easy sharing options to social sites.

On the tech side, you get 4 GB or 8 GB internal memory (good for two- and four-hours record time), face detection and SteadyShot image stablization. The only thing missing is optical zoom, but in a 125-gram, slimline and roughly 2-inch by 4-inch body, you can't really complain.

Cost: From $149.99 to $169.99

4. Sanyo Xacti VPC-PD2BK

Sanyo has built up a good name for its handheld Xacti range, and the VPC-PD2BK -- introduced in summer 2010 -- is a nice affordable example at under $125. For the money, you get full HD video, 10-megapixel stills, a flash and the nice touch of 3x optical zoom.

The 2-inch screen is on the small side, but you're also getting support for both SD and SDXC memory cards up to 64 GB, a digital image stabilizer and a high speed shooting mode. It's compatible with both Macs (there's iMovie support) and PCs, file transfer is via a USB cable (rather than a built-in port), and the bundled software offers simple sharing to popular social sites.

Cost: $123.99 on Amazon

5. Kodak Playfull

The Playfull is a good all-around option with middle-of-the-road specs and a decent price tag that puts it firmly in the Flip's old territory. Boasting video capture from 1080p down to WVGA, the slimline pocket video camera can also capture 5-megaixel stills to an SD card with support for up to 32 GB.

The built-in USB arm makes transferring files to a Mac or PC simple, while the dedicated "Share" button will let you email or post your clips and pics in three quick steps.

Face recoginition, image stabilization and some software effects including "70s film" add to the fun, with the only downsides to the Playfull's spec list being the 1.5-inch display (slightly on the small side), no flash and no optical zoom.

Cost: $149.99

More About: camcorders, cameras, Creative, Flip, gadgets, gallery, Kodak, List, Lists, pocket video cameras, samsung, sanyo, sony, tech, video

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Unilever Mobile App Lets You Record & Share Your Night Out [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 01:51 PM PDT

Following the logic that the best nights out are the ones you don't remember, Unilever's Lynx brand has introduced an app that lets you and your friends record the highlights of your night and then share it the next day.

Called the Lynx Stream, the app — available for iPhones [iTunes link] and Android-based phones, behaves much like group texting. The difference is it also lets you and your friends record photos, videos, checkins, tweets and status updates from the night on As the video above notes, you can view the stream the next day, edit out objectionable stuff and share it on various social media platforms.

Though the app, developed by Razorfish in New York, is intended for the U.K. market, it will likely be rebranded for the U.S. market’s Axe brand at some point. The idea is to allow the brand to become part of the target consumer's lifestyle.

What do you think? Would you use an app like this? Let us know in the comments.

More About: android, apps, iphone, lifestreaming, Lynx, Unilever

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Stand-Up Web Developers [COMIC]

Posted: 06 May 2011 01:22 PM PDT

Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Mother’s Day Edition

Posted: 06 May 2011 01:05 PM PDT

Mothers have it tough: Always being “wrong” and “unfair” — until, you know, their kids reach the age of 30 or so. There’s also that whole giving birth thing.

To make up for all the times we’ve disappointed our mothers/given them migraines/drove them to start swearing like longshoremen, we’ve compiled a list of YouTube videos in their honor.

Check out our selections below and then share your own mom-related vids in the comments. Oh, yeah, you should probably call her, too.

"My Mother"

Christina Warren: "My Mother," the sappy but great song from the EPIC Chipmunks Adventure movie from 1987. My mother took me to see this in the theater, which is just one reason she is the absolute best. I love you, Mom!

"Motherlover" NSFW

Brian Hernandez: If you haven't seen Saturday Night Live's "Motherlover," you haven't lived. Go forth: Channel your inner Justin Timberlake or inner Andy Samberg. Have a lovely Mother's Day!

"Mother," Danzig

Todd Wasserman: What better Mother's Day tribute than the scowling, badly coiffed Danzig offering advice to moms everywhere to keep the children in the dark for life. Hey, it works for mushrooms, right?

Family Guy

Jay Bischof: Mom, Mom, Mom, Ma, Mommy…

Husky Dog Talking

Emily Banks: Love you, Mom!

Famous Mothers

Amy-Mae Elliott: Happy Mother's Day, courtesy of JibJab.

Meetup Hearts Moms

Meghan Peters: Since moms are Meetup's largest category and most active organizer (a moms meetup starts about every minute), they made this video saluting moms on Meetup.

"Treat Your Mother Right," Mr. T

Ada Ospina: "Treat her right."

"Whistling Gypsy Rover," Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

Brenna Ehrlich: Mother's Day always falls around my sister's birthday, and both my mom and sister and I really love this song (childhood, yo). Happy Birthday, Lara & Happy Mother's Day, Ma Ehrlich!

Image courtesy of Flickr, lovelihood

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Electric Jaguar Hits the Road in 2013 [PICS & VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 12:42 PM PDT

It wasn’t long ago when Jaguar presented its C-X75 electric supercar as a concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Now the company says the car’s going into production, hitting the streets in 2013.

If you missed its rollout as a concept car, here’s a quick review: This thing is a monster. It’s a plug-in hybrid electric car that works like the Chevy Volt, running on electric power that’s replenished by a gasoline engine. But that’s where the similarity ends.

This road rocket has a 145kW electric motor on each wheel, powering it from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds with a top speed of at least 200 mph. According to Top Gear, those motors are expected to generate roughly 800 horsepower.

When it runs out of battery power (after traveling about 30 miles), the car’s batteries are recharged by a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. Unfortunately, the twin micro-jet engines that recharged the concept car didn’t quite make it into the production model, but Top Gear says, “the fiery cannons of goodness might make it into a later section of the production run.” See what the twin microturbines look like through the rear window in the gallery below.

Want one? The lowest estimated price we’ve seen for the Jaguar C-X75 is in the neighborhood of $1.1 million. Snap one up quick when 2013 rolls around, because Jaguar is only making 250 of them.

Shape From Above

See those microturbines peeking out the rear window?

Nice Kitty

Move over, here comes that electro-jag going 200 mph.

High/Behind POV

Looks like a flying saucer from this angle


For a million bucks+, this baby better have a good GPS on board.

Twin Turbines

These two micro-jet engines won't be in the car at first, but might appear in later production runs.

Doors Ajar

No gull-wings here, but watch Jay Leno open the doors in the video below.

And here’s what Jay Leno thought of the Electro-Jag:

Graphics courtesy Jaguar

More About: electric cars, Exotic, future, Jaguar C-X75

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iPad 2 Arrives In Beijing, Sells Out in 4 Hours

Posted: 06 May 2011 12:16 PM PDT

The iPad 2 went on sale in China on Friday. And as in the rest of the world, the device is a hit. The Beijing Apple Store sold out in just four hours.

Apple Insider reports that customers started arriving at 5 p.m. Thursday — and many chose to wait overnight. The staff at the Beijing Apple Store had the launch-day process down pat, thanks no doubt to the experience of previous launches of devices like the iPhone 4 and the white iPhone.

There were several perks that Apple Stores in the U.S. don’t offer. Those who chose to wait overnight could stay in a special waiting room. And everyone in line wears wristbands, so customers could leave for up to an hour and return to the same place in the queue.

Looking through M.I.C. Gadget’s coverage of the Beijing iPad 2 launch, we couldn’t help but feel a warm sense of kinship with line dwellers on the other side of the world. (We heartily recommend M.I.C. Gadget’s coverage, especially the hilarious photo captions.)

As in the U.S., many of the people in front of the line were either scalpers looking to sell items at a profit to other line dwellers or people paid to wait in line for others.

M.I.C. Gadget took an informal survey and found the white iPad 2 variant to be more popular than the black. Apple Insider came to the same conclusion.

Chinese customers can also order an iPad 2 from the Apple Store online, though the wait is now at least a week.

Image courtesy of M.I.C. Gadget

More About: apple, china, iPad 2

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Listen to Glee’s Cover of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 11:44 AM PDT

Much like the glassy-eyed zombies that shamble through the films of George A. Romero, “Friday” has once again dragged itself from the grave — reanimated this time by Fox’s comedy/drama Glee.

The song will premiere on the new "Prom Queen" episode of Glee Tuesday, May 10.

We already knew that the show would be covering Rebecca Black’s viral phenom, “Friday,” but we had yet to hear it for ourselves. Now, my friends, that day has come. (That day is Friday, by the way.)

More About: Friday, GLEE, music, Rebecca Black, tv

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Sh*t My Students Write Tumblr Is Hilarious & Sad

Posted: 06 May 2011 11:25 AM PDT

To celebrate the mental vacation we all get to enjoy this weekend, we bring you a post-packed Tumblr filled with the mindless musings of today’s youth.

Sh*t My Students Write has been around for a few months, but it has now matured into a healthy Tumblr with 20 pages of posts and comments on student howlers. Take this fabulous excuse: “I could blame my results on other factors, like it was the day after Friday when I took it and I had just finished listening to Rebecca Black.”

Granted, we’ve all probably passed in a few gleaming gems in our time after forgetting a deadline/pulling an all-nighter that results in hallucinations/sustaining substantial head injuries. Perhaps that feeling of empathy makes Sh*t My Students Write all the more entertaining.

Happy Friday! (Not the Rebecca Black kind, since we’ve now established that results in brain damage.)

Image courtesy of Flickr, QUOI Media

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Why Small Risks May Yield Bigger Returns for Startups

Posted: 06 May 2011 11:07 AM PDT

Think about the way business goals have been pursued since the birth of the modern company.

  • Vet an idea
  • Get buy-in from company leaders
  • Invest in the idea (money, time, resources)
  • Launch it
  • Market it
  • Do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t fail

With overhead at a premium, the stakes can quickly get high. Traditional companies have seen this as a “go big, or go home” kind of play, and if there’s little assurance of success, it’s probably not worth the investment.

But along came the Internet, and with it, the exponential reduction of up-front business costs. Big ideas may be hard to execute for a cash-strapped startup, but smaller ones — an app, a blog, a social network — require relatively minimal investment. If they fail (as most do), so what? If they succeed — well, perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called Twitter.

Author Peter Sims believes this shift from slow, calculated execution to rapid, low-risk iteration has fundamentally remade business in the connected age. His new book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, explores how creatives and companies are hitting the right ideas without the burdens of perfectionism, risk-aversion and excessive planning.

We had the opportunity to speak with Sims about the concept, and what it implies for the world of tech startups.

Q&A With Peter Sims, Author of Little Bets

Which tech companies have mastered the little bet?

Google, with its 20% time, has historically embraced little bets, while Amazon and Pixar are exemplars. When exploring new possibilities, [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos regularly asks, "why not?" and "what if?" Then Amazon's team uses little bets to rigorously test and develop their assumptions. That discovery mentality permeates the company's culture.

Meanwhile, Pixar started as a computer hardware company that got into animated films by making little bets on short films in order to learn the technology and how to tell stories. Today, each Pixar film emerges from literally thousands of little bets.

Can you give an example of a low-risk experiment that paid off big for a tech startup?

Sure. Twitter began as a little bet side project made inside Odeo, a podcasting company that was going nowhere. After asking employees for suggestions about what the company should do, Odeo founder Evan Williams gave Jack Dorsey, then an engineer, two weeks to develop a prototype for his short messaging idea, then an additional six months. Before long, Twitter got spun-off from Odeo and became a big bet.

"The truth is, most successful entrepreneurs launch their companies without a brilliant idea and proceed to discover one.”

If you look at the history of successful tech startups — Google, Groupon, Facebook, HP, and so on — you will be hard pressed to find one that didn't start, or gain real traction, other than with little bets. The truth is, most successful entrepreneurs launch their companies without a brilliant idea and proceed to discover one. Or if they do start with what they think is a great idea, they realize that it's flawed and then rapidly adapt.

Why do you think work and creativity have shifted from large-scale project planning to incremental steps in the 21st century? Is web culture (bite-sized content, democratization of media and information, lower barrier of entry for entrepreneurs) the sole catalyst, or have you discovered other factors? In other words, does the web make it affordable for business ideas to fail?

There is no doubt that the web is reshaping the way we work and create. Anyone can put up a website or use AdWords to test and develop new ideas and projects, while the plummeting costs of infrastructure via cloud computing make it possible to start and develop a business at very low cost. Gathering feedback is immediate and cheap, and ideas can be evolved quickly. Also, expectations have changed: People understand that life starts in beta, and are willing to provide feedback to help shape the project or idea. Cofounder Ed Catmull describes Pixar's creative process as going from "suck to non-suck," and that's what increasingly happens for companies and projects now.

The “little bets” discussion echoes some modern sociological and cognitive science research indicating that genius is not born, but developed incrementally. Is the new business world of agile companies, job hopping and rapid iteration more closely aligned with how humans are naturally wired to work and think?

My research team and I did extensive research on this question and we found that instantaneous ideas are extremely rare. Mozart was an unusual exception — a prodigy. What is far more common, and far more important to understand, is how an experimental mindset leads to breakthroughs, much like the way Beethoven worked. He made a lot of mistakes, and had to toil through draft after draft.

"People understand that life starts in beta, and are willing to provide feedback to help shape the project or idea.”

Each small bet gets us a little bit smarter, a little bit better, and a little bit closer. Genius is over-rated. We're born to think and work in this way, but have to unlearn a host of mindsets and habits, such as to avoid mistakes or failure. There's a host of psychology and neuroscience research that can help us shift those mindsets.

What advice would you give to startups that are striving to develop the “next big thing?”

Well, I've heard thousands of entrepreneurial stories, some extremely successful, most mediocre or not successful. Finding the next big thing starts with finding the next big problem or need. Steve Jobs has a knack for identifying needs that we don't even know we have. But for the rest of us mortals, success stems from lots of small steps. Once Chris Rock finds a joke idea that takes off in front of a small audience, he takes that to the big stage. So, little bets are affordable, low-risk, and achievable ways to learn about problems and opportunities, while big bets are for capitalizing upon them. That's how savvy entrepreneurs make big leaps.

Interested in more Startups resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mbbirdy

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Nars Launches Interactive Makeover Site for Beauty Enthusiasts

Posted: 06 May 2011 10:29 AM PDT

To promote the forthcoming release of a makeup how-to book from Nars founder and creative director François Nars, the company has launched a microsite of makeover tutorials with a strong community component.

The site, which marks the Shiseido-owned company’s largest digital initiative to date, contains 12 step-by-step tutorials adapted from the pages of the book.

To encourage visitors to try out the products and makeovers, Nars is offering 13 prizes to the women who upload photos of their makeovers to the site. The look with the most votes by August 31 will win a backstage pass to New York Fashion Week in February 2012, travel accommodations included.

The contest not only promises to increase engagement on the site, but it also creates a rich resource of user-generated imagery. It gives visitors an idea of how featured makeovers will appear when applied by less expert hands on a variety of complexions.

The site features heavy Facebook integration throughout. One must log in to Facebook to vote and comment on looks, and users are somewhat frequently prompted to share content with their Facebook friends.

When asked why Nars created a separate site for the experience, rather than building it directly into Facebook, a spokesperson said that it was important for the site to have “our own aesthetic and feeling” — a complaint often expressed by fashion and beauty brands that want to use social media but don’t want their content to sit under a Facebook or YouTube logo.

More About: beauty, facebook, nars, social media

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Meet the Thumb-Sized $25 PC [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 09:59 AM PDT

The Raspberry Pi USB computer is tiny, and the man who made it intends to manufacture it so cheaply he says it could be given away to school children.

Created by UK game developer David Braben, the computer is about the size of a typical USB stick and will cost $25. With its USB port on one side and HDMI port on the other, it can function as a real PC.

What sorts of components can you fit on such a limited piece of real estate? Surprisingly, there’s enough room for a 700 MHz ARM11 processor, 128 MB of RAM and OpenGL graphics with enough power to display 1080p video.

Braben’s little PC is versatile, too. In fact, that picture above shows a 12-megapixel camera he’s added for videoconferencing, photo taking and video recording. There’s an SD card slot for storage, and that’s where you install the operating system of your choice such as Ubuntu or other open-source operating systems.

While this Raspberry Pi is not quite fully baked yet, Braben’s working on it. “We hope something will be rolled out in 12 months,” he says.

Watch him talking in this video about his new PC and how he hopes his charitable Raspberry Pi Foundation will spread this low-cost technology far and wide:

More About: David Brayton, Linux, raspberry pi PC, tiny PC

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Spam Your Mom This Mother’s Day [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 08:59 AM PDT

It’s universally acknowledged: Moms are the biggest spammers out there. From chain letters to animal videos to police reports from your local paper, most of us get an inbox attack via Mommy Dearest at least once a day.

If you’re among those mentioned above (to be fair, my Mom sends me awesome articles about David Bowie and old bookstores, so I shouldn’t complain), you should probably check out Mom Spam. It’s basically a website that lets you choose what kind of spam you want to send Ma and then take aim and fire.

Check out the video above for more info, and let us know how your mom likes those pics of cats taking baths. (They just really hate the water!)

h/t Jessica Amason

Image courtesy of Flickr, Loozrboy

More About: email, humor, mothers day, pop culture, social media, spam, video

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Native Americans Change Profile Pictures To Protest Use of “Geronimo” in Bin Laden Mission

Posted: 06 May 2011 08:47 AM PDT

Members of the Native American community have spoken out against the assignation of the name Geronimo to the operation to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. They’re asking users to change their Twitter and Facebook pictures to that of legendary Apache leader Geronimo as a form of protest and to honor him.

A message sent Sunday from a team of U.S. Navy SEALS to Washington announced bin Laden’s death: “Geronimo EKIA” (enemy killed in action). The use of Geronimo’s name to identify the most-wanted terrorist in the world enraged many Native Americans.

“To associate a Native warrior with bin Laden is not an accurate reflection of history and it undermines the military service of Native people,” Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, told CNN.

Geronimo fought the U.S. and Mexico when the American West was being settled.

His 1909 obituary in The New York Times is particularly biased: “Geronimo gained a reputation for cruelty and cunning never surpassed by that of any other American Indian chief. For more than twenty years he and his men were the terror of the country, always leaving a trail of bloodshed and devastation.”

Geronimo managed to never be captured. He died a prisoner of war, after surrendering to the U.S. when a general promised to reunite him with his tribe.

“When people representing the U.S. reach back a century to take a gratuitous swipe at Geronimo as an enemy and to equate him with a terrorist, they are insulting all Native American nations and people,” Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, told a senate committee hearing Thursday. The hearing had been scheduled before bin Laden’s death to address racist names of sports teams.

On Thursday, Indian Country Today asked its Twitter and Facebook followers to change their pics for the next two days. (Some of the Facebook fans asked if they could extend or change the time frame, because they had photos of their mothers up for Mother’s Day. ICT consented.)

Native American leaders, including those from the tribe that descended from Geronimo’s tribe, and descendants of the Apache leader have asked President Barack Obama to issue a formal apology and explanation.

More About: facebook, Geronimo, native-americans, osama bin laden, social media, twitter

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10 Historic Tweets That Captivated the World

Posted: 06 May 2011 08:08 AM PDT

Some tweets document history. Others make history. Others simply serve as a zeitgeist for how our culture and communication are evolving.

Over the past several years, we’ve documented quite a few notable tweets, from the first Twitter marriage proposals to the first tweeting fetus. From the service’s role in international politics to its part in devastating natural disasters, Twitter has become a huge part of how many of us communicate with one another, consume news, act as journalists and react to our own culture.

Here are 10 of the most noteworthy Twitter updates since 2006. In the comments, let us know which important tweets had an impact on your life.

The Hudson Plane Landing

When a commercial flight was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River, Twitter -- with the help of image service Twitpic -- told the story.

Kenneth Cole's #Cairo Blunder

During a rash of riots in the Middle East and North Africa, Twitter played a role in protesters' fight for democracy. But a crass tweet from Kenneth Cole stands out as a hallmark of insensitivity.

Bieber Tweets "His" Digits

In what was called "kind of a jerk move," teen idol Justin Bieber tweeted the phone number of an invasive fan as if it were his own. Said fan's phone was ringing off the hook for hours and received at least 26,000 text messages.

Marriage Proposal

Social media proposals are a whole thing unto themselves these days, but the trend probably started with this sweet tweet.

Ice: The Final Frontier

Tweets from space are all the rage. The landmark discovery of ice on Mars caused quite the stir on Twitter.


This single-word tweet ended up being a lifesaver for UC Berkeley journalism student James Buck.

Jack's First Tweet ...

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's first tweet -- the inauspicious blurb that started it all back in 2006.

... and Oprah's First Tweet

When the talk show host discussed Twitter with Biz Stone and Ev Williams, she brought mainstream attention to a rather geek-centric web app. Twitter adoption spiked as a consequence.

Tweets From Space: Now In Real-Time!

The first live and real-time tweet from space came from the International Space Station in early 2010.

The Abbottabad Tweeter

Without knowing exactly what was going on, Twitter user @ReallyVirtual started tweeting about a helicopter crash in his town. The town happened to be Abbottabad, and the crash happened to be one event in the raid that led to Osama bin Laden's death.

Interested in more Twitter resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: historic tweets, history, important tweets, List, Lists, social media, twitter

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Jerry Seinfeld Puts His 30 Years of Comedy Online

Posted: 06 May 2011 07:45 AM PDT

Jerry Seinfeld has launched a website, which serves as a warehouse for pretty much everything he's ever performed. went live Friday morning with three short comedy clips — "The Fattest Man in the World" from The Tonight Show in 1981, "Do the Horses Know They're Racing?" from a 1988 HBO special and "No Room in the Newspaper" from The Tonight Show in 1990.

The site is taking an unusual approach to offering the content by running just three new clips per day. The clips, which range from 30 seconds to two minutes, will be available for only 24 hours and then will be replaced with three new ones.

On the site, Seinfeld explains he's offering the site to young would-be comedians. "Somewhere out there are 10-year-olds just waiting to get hooked on this strange pursuit," he writes. "This is for them."

Seinfeld's straight-to-the-fans media model comes after Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park launched South Park Digital Studios, a joint venture between the two and Comedy Central in 2007 that made all their work available online. Meanwhile, the model of treating comedy bits like songs by cutting them into bite-sized digital pieces has been employed by Sirius XM's various comedy channels for some time. And just this week, Pandora also added 10,000 such bits to its libraries.

More About: jerry seinfeld, media, pandora, South Park, trending

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RIM’s PlayBook Marketing Campaign: Amateur Hour Is Over

Posted: 06 May 2011 07:28 AM PDT

The BlackBerry was always a business person’s phone, so is RIM’s foray into tablet territory with the PlayBook a business person’s tablet?

RIM likes to think so. It’s kicked off a major PlayBook marketing campaign with the slogan “Amateur hour is over.”

The ads, which can occasionally be seen on The New York Times website, simply display the PlayBook together with the slogan, proclaiming that “The BlackBerry PlayBook is here.”

In our review of the PlayBook, we praised some interesting innovations, some of which do cater to the professional — such as the ability to seamlessly open Microsoft Office documents. On the whole though, we haven’t found that it offers any major benefits over the iPad or the best Android tablets on the market.

What do you think of RIM’s PlayBook marketing campaign? Does PlayBook make all other tablets on the market look amateur? Share your opinion in the comments.

More About: amateur hour, blackberry, MARKETING, playbook, RIM

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The 4 Biggest Stories in Tech, Marketing & Social Media This Morning

Posted: 06 May 2011 06:49 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on four particular stories of interest today.

Blavatnik Buys Warner Music for $3.3 Billion?

Access Industries, a privately held U.S.-based industrial group founded by billionaire Len Blavatnik, has won an auction to take control of Warner Music Group Corp for $8.25 a share, or $3.3 billion, a source has told Reuters.

Facebook Now Paying Users To Watch Ads

Facebook is now rewarding users who watch certain ads with 10 cents worth of Facebook Credits, which can be redeemed to purchase goods on Facebook Deals, the company's new Groupon-like daily deals service.

As Sony Recovers, It Faces Challenges From Hackers & Congress

As Sony works to redesign its compromised PlayStation Network, the company is battling additional threats from hackers as well as customers and lawmakers.

Lady Gaga’s “Judas” Hits the Web

Lady Gaga's long-awaited video for "Judas," off the upcoming album Born This Way (which drops May 23) has finally arrived.

Further News

  • Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar are the target of a new lawsuit that claims that the companies conspired "to fix and suppress the compensation of their employees."
  • The Wall Street Journal has launched WSJ SafeHouse, a WikiLeaks-style site for leaking classified information.
  • The worldwide smartphone market has grown 79.7% year-over-year, with smartphone vendors shipping a total of 99.6 million units in in the first quarter of 2011, market research firm IDC reports.
  • Location-based shopping app Shopkick has nearly doubled its user base to 1.4 million and secured a retail partnership with Crate and Barrel, the startup announced.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 06 May 2011 06:41 AM PDT

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With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

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First Tweet Sent From Top of Mount Everest [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 May 2011 06:04 AM PDT

British mountain climber Kenton Cool used a 3G connection to make a call and send a tweet on the summit of Mount Everest.

This was made possible when the Nepali mobile network operator Ncell installed the first 3G station at the base camp of Mount Everest in October 2010.

Now, in a nifty marketing trick, Samsung sponsored Cool to use its most powerful smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II, to make the first 3G call and tweet from the summit.

"I've climbed Everest before but have never been able to share the exhilaration and excitement I experience when I reach the top with those back home,” Cool said. He’s climbed Mount Everest eight times before and is one of Britain’s most successful alpinists.

Cool also unboxed the Samsung Galaxy S II at the base camp at Everest. We’ve included the video of that below.

More About: Mount Everest, samsung, trending, tweet, twitter

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