Friday, March 9, 2012

Bad at sharing? Try these 3 social networks

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." Got a question about etiquette in the digital world? Contact them at

(CNN) -- Sharing is a wonderful thing -- when executed correctly. It's super fun to share hugs (when they are wanted, it's important to note), delicious desserts and interesting, thought-provoking books but not so fun to share colds, STDs and/or upsetting, possibly dangerous secrets.

Some genres of sharing, however, are a little less black and white.

For example: When is it OK to share something rad I just found online? Am I being helpful by passing along/posting said tidbit, or am I slowly morphing into my addled mother, clogging my friends' inboxes with poems about Jesus, kitten GIFs and, if Mama has a dark side, chain letters promising certain death if not passed along to 200 people within the hour? (We wish Mom were still active. ... That was the only weapon in our arsenal.)

It's hard to tell in this expansive world wide web of ours, but certain tipoffs can be telling: 1. Does anyone respond when you post your new favorite ukulele cover to Facebook? 2. When you whine about the declining quality of model-train-collecting literature on Twitter, do you score any retweets? 3. Have you enjoyed any real, substantial human interaction in the past month or so?

If you answered "No" to any of these questions, you might be putting your precious pearls before swine. (And if you answered "No" to number three, you might want to go outside. Maybe say "hi" to the mailman).

In order to reap the praise you so certainly deserve for your expert curating abilities, might we recommend hitting up one of these three social sharing networks instead of appealing to the masses -- you know, before your digital face becomes one that only a mother could love.

1. Pinterest

Abby is your name, and antique thimbles are your game. Seriously, you're just wild about those whimsical little doodads! Sadly, not a one of your pals is quite as ardently anti-finger-pricks as you. No, they're all about the sports and the shorts, the fun and the sun, and you with your porcelain skin (and porcelain pointer covers) much more prefer quiet contemplation and hot tea sipped whilst making those creepy Amish dolls with no faces.

Fret not, dear Abby, there are kindred spirits out there, just waiting to ooh and ahh over your daisy-emblazoned babies. Where? Well, on Pinterest, of course! If you haven't heard of Pinterest -- locked away in your cave of mothballs and yarn -- it's a 2-year-old social bookmarking site.

Users can create online idea boards of sorts, all centered around categories like art, home decor, technology and more. Boards are themed ("Cat Wedding Ideas," "My Favorite Whiskey Drinks," "Tattoos To Get On My Forehead" ...) and populated with media collected during one's online travels.

The best part of the service, however, is that "social" factor: You can follow friends (from Facebook and Twitter) and other users who share your interests, as well as "re-pin", "Like" and comment on posts that tickle your fancy. Finally, dear Abby, you'll get the respect you deserve for that trove of thimble snaps you've been hoarding on your hard drive!

And no, you don't have to like antique thimbles to join Pinterest. This was merely an example.


Oh, Ike, you indie-band savant! You're always so up on the latest viral videos zipping around the Web. I mean, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" was your favorite jam BEFORE that other band covered it using one guitar, and when that vid hit the Web, you were super angry that the original tune's integrity had been jeopardized by what you deemed a "straight-up stunt" (you were the first one to share that video, too).

Still, your friends have yet to recognize your video-finding genius -- so behind the times they are that they're just now discovering that "Bon Joviver" video and they STILL think Rebecca Black is funny. We pity them too, Ike, and no, we can't understand why your band, She's A Witch House (Mighty, Mighty), has yet to take off, either.

We know that no one will every truly understand you, we get it, but we think you'll be able to find some kind of solace in, a video-sharing site that's a lot like Pinterest in some respects. The site allows users to create "Categories" of videos and share them with other users.

So, dear Ike, you can create a cache of "Super Sell-Out" vids or "Songs That Think They're About Anarchy." Or, you know, "Videos of Dogs Sleeping In Funny Places," if you're so inclined.

As with Pinterest, you can also follow other users, re-posting, commenting on and expressing your emotions (via a series of emoticons) about their videos. The site even has a Chat feature, so, friend Ike, you don't have to limit your rants and raves to the confines of a mere comment box.

3. This is My Jam

Oh, Sad Sarah, we know you were dumped ... mostly because Facebook tells us that you listened to "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons 70 times in a row on Spotify (that jam is one of the top breakup tunes, the Web tells us).

You apparently didn't want to hide your shame by turning on private listening, but we, your Facebook stalkers, are kind of bummed out by your musical sad-making. Also, you obviously want Billy the Break-Up-er to know just how tortured you really are and perhaps come running into your open arms!

Well, why not make more of a statement with your sad song of choice and share it via This Is My Jam, a social site that allows you to choose one tune to put on display as the object of your musical obsession for seven whole days, complete with a description of why said tune struck your fancy.

Other users can follow you, so fret not: Your pain will be on full display, complete with comments and likes. Oh, and you're encouraged to pick a new tune every week, so, yeah, you have about six more days left until we're all over your tears.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The new iPad: A video-game changer?

(CNN) -- Since the iPad first appeared in 2010, video gaming has been one of the key features Apple has touted for the device, alongside video viewing, electronic reading and Web browsing.

But on Wednesday, as it unveiled the latest version of its iconic tablet computer, Apple clearly set out to be a game changer in more ways than one.

"This new device actually has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3," said Mike Capps, CEO of Epic Games. "So, these guys [Apple] are redefining mobile gaming again."

Dubbed a "graphics powerhouse" by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the new iPad's chief selling point is its high-resolution screen -- leaping from the iPad 2's 1024 by 768 pixels to a hefty 2047 by 1536 pixels.

New iPad: Faster, HD, better camera

That was a feature Capps noted at Apple's media event as he displayed "Infinity Blade: Dungeons," the new version of his company's fantasy-adventure game that runs on Apple's mobile operating system.

"[Infinity Blade: Dungeons] looks so amazing on the Retina Display on new iPad," Capps would say later on Twitter. "I'm stupid psyched about future of mobile gaming."

He's not the only one.

The burgeoning popularity of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones has given birth to so-called casual gaming. But while titles like "Angry Birds" and "Fruit Ninja" have been downloaded millions of times, self-styled "hardcore" PC and console gamers remained largely unimpressed.

Mark Walton, host of the "Appetite for Distraction" podcast on, said the new iPad, with its graphic capabilities and speedy A5X quad-core processor, could begin changing that.

"I think the line between the two is increasingly becoming blurred," he said.

"There is more than 'Angry Birds' now. People are finally coming out of that mindset and realizing that it's not just these touch games. There's going to be a balance between these smaller, independent games -- the more casual ones -- and the bigger more complex ones."

One thing a device with the new iPad's processing and graphic capabilities can do, Walton said, is make it easier for game developers to convert their most popular titles from consoles to a mobile platform.

He said he believes the new iPad may also be making life more difficult for companies like Sony and Nintendo, who sell portable gaming devices.

Nintendo's handheld 3DS and Sony's new Playstation Vita have gotten largely positive reviews. But with individual games for those devices going for $30 and upward, an Apple app-store model could be devastating if it began consistently selling complex, visually compelling titles for a fraction of that cost, he said.

"Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy," a flight-simulation game from Namco, was the other title previewed for the new iPad on Wednesday.

If there's a deal-breaker for diehard gamers, Walton said, it may be the one CNET's Scott Stein mentioned in a post on Wednesday: the iPad's lack of the sort of physical controller that gamers have grown accustomed to using.

"Graphics can only take you so far," Stein wrote. "My recent experience with 'Mass Effect: Infiltrator' [for the iPhone and iPad] wasn't a letdown because of graphics; no, at least half of the problems arose from my fumbling with the awkward controls. ...

"With Apple's footprint getting larger by the month, it's time for a universal game controller to emerge that can be used with the iPad."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Activists take Apple workers'-rights campaign to Facebook

(CNN) -- On Wednesday, Apple is expected to unveil the newest version of its iPad with all of the breathless hype that typically attends the consumer-tech juggernaut's public events.

But some folks, many of them Apple customers and self-described fanboys and fangirls, aren't celebrating. Instead, they're calling on the company to shore up human rights concerns by manufacturing an "ethical iPad 3."

The creator of a campaign asking Apple to ensure safer conditions for workers at the Chinese plants that make its products is asking supporters to take to Facebook on Wednesday, posting pleas to Apple on the iTunes Facebook page.

Last month, Mark Shields, a self-described "Apple person," started a petition on The petition has more than 241,000 signatures and asks, among other things, for Apple to create a worker-protection strategy around the release of new products such as the anticipated new iPad.

Worker-rights groups say that Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that produces products for Apple and other tech companies, has a stringent, militaristic culture of surveillance and obedience. It's a culture that labor groups say contributed to a slew of suicides in 2010 at the company's Shenzhen plant -- prompting Foxconn to install nets in an effort to prevent employees from jumping -- as well as worker injuries and even deaths.

"Many of the people who have signed Mark's petition have expressed concern that without a strategy to prevent forced overtime, impossible production quotas and worker injury, that worker abuse, accidents, and even death may increase around the release of the iPad 3," said Amanda Kloer, campaign director at

"Mark hopes that if Apple customers ask the company about how the iPad 3 was made, Apple will respond to his request for a worker protection strategy for new product releases."

Shields was traveling Tuesday and not able to be reached for comment.

Contacted by CNN on Tuesday, Apple did not have any comment. In a statement to CNN last month, Apple said it cares about all of the workers in its worldwide supply chain.

"We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made," the company said. "Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple."

After a wave of publicity last month that included a CNN interview with a Foxconn worker, Foxconn announced it had given workers a pay increase and was allowing an international labor-rights group to visit one of its facilities.

Kloer said Shields has never gotten a response from Apple about creating a worker protection strategy, even though he was promised one by the manager at a Washington, D.C., Apple store where he delivered the petition.

Shields and Kloer are asking supporters on Wednesday to post on the iTunes page on Facebook "asking for an ethical iPad 3."

Apple has not officially said what Wednesday's announcement will be, but all speculation centers on a new iPad. Many reports suggest it may actually be called the iPad HD to showcase a new, high-resolution display screen.