Saturday, April 14, 2012

Super-mayor Cory Booker gets memed

(Mashable) -- Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, saved a woman from a burning house late Thursday night.

The mayor is a highly active Twitter user, and commonly uses the social network to find and help Newark residents who are in need.

Predictably, the Internet caught onto the story and it took on a life of its own.

A new Tumblr blog, SuperCoryBooker is actively creating memes about the mayor. The hashtag #CoryBookerStories, which is giving the Newark mayor the Chuck Norris treatment, is also trending in the United States.

Mayor Cory Booker's 'superhero' moment Mayor Booker downplays 'hero' label

Here's some of our favorites from the hashtag:

@StephenSteglik: Corey Booker can win a game of "Connect Four" with only three moves #CoryBookerStories

@SayethSimon: Cory Booker isn't afraid of the dark. The dark is afraid of Cory Booker. #CoryBookerStories

@ChloeAngyal: Superheroes dress up as Cory Booker on Halloween #CoryBookerStories

@SayethSimon: Ann Romney's life was filled with struggles, until she met Cory Booker. #CoryBookerStories

@jimgeraghty: Billy Joel didn't start the fire. But Cory Booker put it out. #CoryBookerStories

@sethdmichaels: The honey badger cares about @CoryBooker. #corybookerstories

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Virus found in fake Android version of 'Angry Birds: Space'

(CNN) -- Android users beware. Download the wrong version of your favorite pig-killing game and the birds won't be the only ones who are angry.

"Angry Birds: Space," the latest installment of the insanely popular mobile game, is being used to mask some fairly nasty malware, according to security experts and Rovio, the maker of "Angry Birds."

Graham Cluley, an analyst with Web security firm Sophos, wrote on the company's blog Thursday that they had discovered fake versions of the game on unofficial app stores. The fake games contain a "Trojan horse" virus.

A post on Rovio's blog on Thursday also warned fans to watch out for fake versions of the game, urging them to download the new title from their official store.

According to Sophos, the Trojan horse, which it identified in a file called Andr/KongFu-L, appears to be a fully functional version of the game, but instead installs a virus on the user's smartphone or tablet.

From there, the code tries to install more malware that essentially puts the phone or tablet computer under the control of the cybercriminals behind it, Cluley wrote.

"It feels like we have to keep reminding Android users to be on their guard against malware risks, and to be very careful, especially when downloading applications from unofficial Android markets," he said.

Unlike Apple, which screens all its apps and requires iPhone and iPad owners to download software from its official App Store, Google maintains less control over what people can install on devices that run its Android operating system. The company allows Android owners to download programs from official and unofficial sources.

Security experts say Android device owners should use the official Android Market if they want to avoid downloading fake apps and potentially harmful programs, although there have been instances of malicious software showing up in that official venue, too.

From Harry Potter to Ana Kournikova, it's not unusual for malicious hackers to use popular topics, often from the entertainment and celebrity world, to lure potential victims.

"Angry Birds: Space" was released March 22 for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as Macs and PCs. It soared to a mind-blowing 10 million downloads in just three days, three times faster than the franchise's last outing, "Angry Birds: Rio."

Released in 2009, "Angry Birds" is the No.1 paid mobile app of all time, crossing 300 million downloads, across multiple platforms, last year.

Based in Finland, Rovio parlayed the game's success into a virtual empire, offering everything from comic books and animated videos to plush dolls and cookbooks based on the game.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hey Bravo, Silicon Valley is too boring for TV

Editor's note: Pete Cashmore is founder and CEO of Mashable, a popular blog about tech news and digital culture. He writes regular columns about social media and tech for

(CNN) -- The tech world has been up in arms this past week about "Silicon Valley," an upcoming Bravo reality show documenting the lives of five aspiring entrepreneurs making their way in the world of Bay Area startups.

The TV show is co-produced by Randi Zuckerberg, former marketing director of Facebook and sister of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Its brief preview showcases the glamorous life of a tech startup founder: Lots of parties, alcohol, attractive women and a social scene that is like "high school, but it's only the smart kids."

The problem: The tech industry isn't like that at all.

Here's how tech-company founders usually succeed in Silicon Valley: They spend endless hours in front of a computer building products people want to use. Alas, this doesn't make for interesting TV.

Hence all the Hollywood cliches. Computers on TV shows and in movies beep when a button is pressed. Characters seem able to type at a frenetic pace. Passwords can always be guessed within three attempts -- and always just in time to prevent a disaster.

These cliches once existed only in fictional shows and movies. Alas, as Silicon Valley continues to power a digital revolution that's changing the world at a rapid pace, camera crews are increasingly trying to capture startup reality and bottle it as entertainment. And they're finding it converts to film about as well as paint drying.

Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook through thousands of hours spent in front of a dimly glowing screen. His motive? He "likes to build things." And yet in 2010's "The Social Network," the Zuckerberg onscreen is more concerned with girls, parties and getting into Harvard's most exclusive social circles.

Therein lies the second issue with bringing startups to the big or small screen: Startup founders rarely have interesting social lives. Building a company takes almost every minute of the day, leaving little time for a personal life.

TV viewers demand drama: If it can't be found, it's manufactured. The small screen loves a performer, too. A celebrity. An exhibitionist. Can you dance? Sing? Act? Even once the show is over, these outgoing stars convert well to a world of tabloids and celebrity magazines.

Startup founders, however, do not.

So now comes the time to pick a side. Is representing Silicon Valley as a party haven doing a disservice to those who work countless hours to build products we'll all love? Or is there nobility in Randi Zuckerberg's mission to "make accessible and to humanize the increasingly important tech community for the average consumer"?

Perhaps it's both. Translating tech for those not living in its epicenter is a noble effort that will surely bring more new people -- and more diversity -- to Silicon Valley. And yet this can't be done in a literal way: Bringing technologists' stories to TV and movies requires a little creativity to make the subject matter fit the medium.

My science teacher didn't get our class interested in a science career by telling us that most chemists work long hours on repetitive tasks. No, he showed us explosions. And crazy, color-changing reactions. And non-Newtonian fluids dancing on speaker cones.

It's unfortunate that the story of tech revolution doesn't convert well to the dominant medium of the day. And it's regrettable that some viewers will wildly misinterpret what entrepreneurship is all about. But after grabbing the attention of viewers with dramatic exothermic reactions -- or scenes of wild parties -- perhaps we'll be able to teach them what it really takes to build a company.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pete Cashmore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poll: Google more popular than Apple, Facebook

(CNN) -- America's top technology companies have approval ratings that most politicians can only dream of, according to a new poll.

And Google, not Apple, is the ultimate object of our digital affection.

A robust 82% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Google, and 53% have "strongly favorable" thoughts about the Web titan, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last last week.

The reigning king of Web search, Google has expanded its empire in the past few years, adding its Android mobile operating system and Google Plus networking site to already popular features like Google Maps and Gmail.

Only 9% of respondents to the poll, conducted from March 28-April 1, held an unfavorable view of Google, while 10% had no opinion.

Google's results put the company squarely ahead of Apple which tallied an impressive 74% favorable rating in their own right. At 13%, Apple's negatives were slightly higher than Google's.

In an analysis of results, pollsters noted that "the time is ripe for this sort of assessment, given these companies' envied positions in the marketplace."

While phones running Google's Android system represent the majority of the world's smartphones, no single phone has come anywhere near the popularity of Apple's iPhone. And the iPad -- the latest incarnation of which went on sale last month, continues to dominate the tablet computer market.

Both Google and Apple fared best with wealthier respondents. In fact, in households earning more than $100,000 a year, 93% of respondents expressed a favorable opinion of Google, 91% of Apple.

The results suggest that recent public-relations dings that both companies have taken haven't soured large chunks of their audiences.

Over the years, Google's near omnipresence online has prompted privacy concerns. Most recently, critics, including some federal regulators and U.S. Congress members, objected to a revamped Google privacy policy that pulls user-activity data from the company's multiple products together to create a single user profile.

And while Apple raked in a record $46.3 billion last quarter, some have complained that virtually all of its products are manufactured in China. Most notably, Foxconn, the manufacturing partner that makes the iPhone and iPad, has been hit with complaints of harsh working conditions.

In an increasingly tech-centric culture, the poll results suggest consumers may be willing to overlook negative news -- even news that impacts them directly -- if they're happy with their digital experiences.

"The services in question, after all, aren't just services; they are, at this point, everyday and intimate components of people's lives," wrote Megan Garber of The Atlantic. "They are, increasingly, implicit."

Facebook, the near ubiquitous social network, didn't fare as well as the top two companies, although with 58% favorable responses, it still has enough votes to get re-elected. But 28% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Facebook -- twice as many as Apple and nearly three times as many as Google.

And for all its popularity among celebrities and in tech circles, Twitter limped in a distant fourth. Just 34% of respondents viewed Twitter favorably, with 36% holding unfavorable views and 31% having no opinion of the micro-blogging site.

The poll was conducted by landline and cell phone among a random national sample of 1,007 U.S. adults. Results have a margin of error of 3.5 points.